Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fun Phone Call from AZ

Hello! Elder Blake Morgan's Mom here.

This past Saturday evening, the phone rang and I looked at the caller I.D. and it said , "ARIZONA." I picked up the phone and on the other end was a lovely woman who had hosted Elder Blake Morgan and his companion for dinner. She was delightful to visit with, and she really enjoyed her time with these two Elders. She was so impressed with Elder Morgan that she decided to give us a call and let us know how much she enjoyed the evening. This was a rare treat for Adrian and I, and we really appreciated the personal update on Elder Morgan in Show Low, AZ. 

Here are the highlights:

  • Elder Morgan's companion is from southern Virginia. (Can't wait to find out the specifics.)
  • Elder Morgan shared a powerful message after the meal, and this woman reported that it seemed as if he was a seasoned missionary who had be serving for 23 months, not a "greenie" serving just a few days in his first area. (Elders serve for a total of 24 months.)
  • Elder Morgan lives is a very nice apartment. (Former missionaries will appreciate this.) His landlord built a in-law suite at his home and now lets the missionaries live in it. It has it's own entrance and Elder Morgan commented that he hoped all of his apartments would be sooo sweet. (Not too likely. Enjoy it while you can! :)
  • According to the caller, Elder Morgan is working with the BEST ward mission leader EVER! 
  • Again, according to the caller, Elder Morgan has the BEST mission president EVER!
  • Elder Morgan is speaking in church (today) his first Sunday in Show Low.
  • Elder Morgan is SOOO lucky to be in the Arizona mountains (Show Low) where the average high in the summer is 85-88 degrees. If he can stay for 18 weeks, he will miss the sweltering summer heat of the low lying Arizona desert. (Missionary transfers occur every six weeks. Each transfer he could stay put, or go to a new location in the mission, but most new missionaries stay in the same area with their trainer for at least 12 weeks. Most likely, Elder Morgan will be in Show Low for the summer.)
  • The owner of the Show Low D.Q. (Dairy Queen) invites the missionaries to have one free meal at his restaurant every week. Yay, Blizzards!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

27 May 2015

Hello all!

New Companions
Elder Anderson & Elder Morgan
I am currently in Arizona! It is beautiful here! It's just like northern VA expect replace the grass with dirt, trees with cacti, and flatten everything. It is SOOOOOOOO -- not hot at all (at least where I am). It still hasn't sunk in that this is my life for two years. The area I'm currently serving in is Show Low, AZ. It is literally 6300 feet altitude, on top of a mountain. The temperature is wonderful. It isn't too hot and there is a nice breeze. At night I end up having to wear a jacket or a sweater! I was in the valley (Scottsdale) for the first day and a half and it is hot down there, but not too bad....yet! 

The wards I'm serving in are the County Club Manner Ward and the White Mountain YSA Branch. My trainer's name is Elder Anderson, he is a great guy. My area is three hours away from the mission home. We are living in a studio at a member's house. It is very nice. Also, I might get to go on trek with this stake! I taught a lesson yesterday to a part member family. It was on repentance from the "Gospel Principles Manual." It was fun and went very well!

We do have iPads in our mission. They just arrived this past Thursday, before I did, so everyone is new on them. They're great! They have interactive pamphlets which are awesome. Incorporating technology in the mission is done in three phases, each one lasting about 2-3 weeks. We are in phase one: learning how to use the iPad and use it safely. The next phase will be using it to manage missionary logistics (Area Book and Daily Planner apps). The final phase will be using it with social media (Facebook). That means that I'll be on Facebook by the end of August! Also, because I have an iPad, I can check my email at any time! I just can't respond until my Preparation Days. Please send me email! They brighten my day!
VA Friends, Elder Carraway, from the
McLean, VA Stake with Elder Morgan
About the MTC: it was a great experience. I met great people and had great teachers. I learned a lot and grew spiritually. The things I learned the most about were selflessness, charity, faith, patience, and recognizing the Spirit. I'm excited to continue my study of the gospel and how to become a more Christ-like teacher and leader.
I'm sorry this email is shorter. I don't have many specific events or scriptures to share off the top of my head. I hope you all know that I love you and that I am missing you dearly. Thank you for all the support!
Elder Morgan

(Pictures: A mountain overlook on the three hour drive somewhere between Scottsdale and Show Low, AZ.)

FUN note about Show Low Arizona:

According to legend, the city's unusual name resulted from a marathon poker game between Corydon E. Cooley and Marion Clark. The two men decided there was not enough room for both of them in their settlement. The two men agreed to let a game of cards decide who was to move. According to the tale, Clark said, "If you can show low, you win." Cooley turned up the deuce of clubs (the lowest possible card) and replied, "Show low it is." The stakes were a 100,000-acre (400 km2) ranch. Show Low's main street is named 
                                                        "Deuce of Clubs" in remembrance.

LDS Vocabulary:
Area I'm SERVING in... means the area I'm working in. 
Missionaries do not get paid for their labors hence they are serving.

Both are local congregations of the LDS church. A ward is the larger of the two types of local congregations. A ward is presided over by a bishop, who is the equivalent of a pastor in many other Christian denominations. A branch president presides over a smaller congregation and plays the same role. Missionaries are always assigned to work with at least one ward and/or branch, which are laid out geographically.

Young single adult (In many locations in the USA and in some other countries, the church establishes wards/branches for young single adults, where they can meet, mingle, and worship together. Elder Morgan's siblings attend young single adult wards in Utah and Virginia.)

The early members of the LDS church pulled wagons, and pushed handcarts across the mid-western United States and over the Rocky Mountains to establish the church in the Salt Lake Valley. On occasion, LDS youth gather for a summer youth conference, called Trek, and recreate this experience. At the conference the youth learn about their pioneer heritage and honor those pioneers who have gone before them. Today's youth spend three or four days walking many miles, eating, and living as early pioneers, pushing handcarts as they go. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Airport Phone Call at 7:00 a.m.

On May 25, Memorial Day, at 7:00 a.m. in Virginia, and 5:00 a.m. in Utah, a call was made to the Morgan home from Elder Morgan who announced that he was off to Arizona. He had been awakened at 2:30 a.m. so that he could prepare for the journey. Bags were packed, he was showered and shaved, and had traveled an hour to the Salt Lake City Airport where he was waiting for his flight. He only had five minutes to speak to us and here is his latest update.

1. Elder Morgan is happy to wrap things up at the MTC and finally be going to Arizona! 
2. Elder Morgan is ready to move on, but enjoyed working with some of the teachers and trainers at the MTC. 
3. Elder Morgan appreciates the letters and support from family and friends!

He's not sure when he will be sending the next update, but it should be between now and June 1.

On another note, his mission just got iPads for all of the missionaries. I'm sure Elder Morgan will let us know if he will be on social media or not. So excited to find out!

Arizona Scottsdale missionaries happy to receive new iPads 
(Four days before Elder Morgan arrives.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Missionary Friends Will be Miles Apart

Friends, Elder Blake Morgan and Motra ("Sister" in Albanian) Andrea Eliason
Both are pointing to their missions. There are over 400 LDS missions around the world.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Week One Complete at the MTC

If you just want highlights, read the RED.

Hello all!

Time at the MTC is crazy. The days feel super long while we are going through them, but when I reflect on what I've done, they seem to have gone by so fast. Day 1 (one),  I got here and they sent me straight to work. I came in, got my name tag, then went to a fireside, after that fireside I had dinner, then class.

Class at the MTC is where we learn how to teach in the same way Jesus Christ taught. We learn a lot about how to teach people and not just lessons, and we learn how to bring the Spirit of the Lord into lessons. In a typical class we're given a topic to study (not a gospel topic, but a topic on teaching), then study it for a few minutes, discuss it, watch the teacher role play it, and finally we practice it with our companion.

Speaking of companions, mine is a really nice person. He is helping me have a bigger perspective on serving a mission and he helps me become a better teacher. We both have our own strengths and weaknesses and we end up balancing each other out. I'm learning a lot from him. I'm also learning a lot from my district. It is a group of four elders and four sisters. All of us are going to Scottsdale except for two sisters who are going to Alabama. We all have our own unique personalities and add to the atmosphere of the classroom. There was another district in our zone and they left on Monday. They were a really nice group of people to bond with as well.

Life in the MTC is hard. You learn a lot about yourself, about the gospel, about teaching, and about leadership. There are many assignments that we must do and many things to learn. Through these stresses, I have learned the important of faith and charity. One of my favorite scriptures on charity is from the Book of Mormon,  Moroni 7:45-48. I don't have time to quote it, but I encourage you all to go to and read it (or click on the link above). Basically, it says that charity is hard for you, but as you do it, you will be blessed. I have also underestimated how challenging faith can be. As I have pondered more on the concept of faith, I have realized how essential it is and how it plays a role in every aspect of my life. Faith is required for every doctrine and thing taught in the church. It's kind of hard to explain, but to gain a basic understanding of the concept of faith, I encourage you to read Alma 32 (also in the Book of Mormon and available on

One of the biggest things I need to learn is that when I'm stressed, I need to rely on spiritual things (such a Jesus Christ's atonement) rather than physical, tangible things (like music and friends).

One of the most eye opening things I learned was as I was watching a devotional that Elder Bednar gave missionaries a few years ago. His main focus was developing the Character of Christ in ourselves. We need to turn outward when we feel like turning inward. If we are charitable only to bless ourselves, we will not be blessed, but if we're charitable to care about others we will be blessed and they will be blessed.

Some other highlights from devotionals:

Elder Soares (Presidency of the Seventy)
If we are exactly obedient, the Holy Ghost (Spirit) will be with us and we will have a much more successful mission.

Sister Soares
Pray to never loose testimony, be pure in heart, and never lose faith.

Sister Bertasso
Create an environment for the Spirit before you go to sleep. Pray, read a scripture, leave you scriptures open while sleeping, and sleep with a pen and a notebook next to your bed to record and promptings from the Spirit. Then when you wake up, reflect on impressions you may have received from the Spirit.

President Bertasso (MTC Presidency member)
The Spirit will help you read and learn from the Book of Mormon. As you read, create an environment conducive to the Spirit. Take time to read, discuss, and point out key points. If the Holy Ghost is there as you read, you will learn new things. (This applies to the Bible as well.)

I also encourage you to listen to Bishop Gérald Caussé's talk about the gospel: Is it Still Wonderful to You? (April 2015 LDS General Conference)

Prayer is another thing that I've learned to appreciate. Prayer is a conversation between a person and God. As we sincerely express our desires to Him, he will bless us and help us. Though it may not be on our timeline, we have to have faith that things will work out on his timeline. Having that faith in God's timeline in another thing I'm working on.

Musically: This past week at the MTC,  I was able to be in the choir. We sang a beautiful SATB arrangement of "Nearer, My God To Thee" accompanied by organ. I loved it, it was very touching. Tomorrow I am auditioning to perform Sally Deford's arrangement of "Be Still, My Soul" at one of Sunday's devotionals.

Teaching people: We have one role-playing investigator (based on a real person, played by our teacher) we practice with in our class and my companion and I are doing well. We committed her to baptism. We also teach lessons to LDS church members and we feel the Spirit when we do. There is also an investigator that my companion and I are working with. (Most likely our investigator is role-playing, but he could be a real investigator.) He threw us a real curve ball asking about African Americans and the priesthood. We weren't really able to teach him anything, but tonight we are going to try and teach him how he can find his own answers in the Book of Mormon and teach him about the restoration. The Book of Mormon is the source our answers! Pray for an answer to a specific question, read and study the Book of Mormon, then pray for the specific question again. The answer may not come right away, but it will come.

I think I've gone over my one hour of email time, so I must be done. I love you all! Thanks for the support! Feel free to email me or send me Dear Elder Letters at! After this Sunday, I won't be able to receive Dear Elder Letters because I leave for Arizona on Monday! The next time you hear from me will most likely be Monday, June 1.

With love,

Elder Morgan

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Meeting up with friends in the MTC

Herndon High School, Oakton Stake friends...
Elder Blake Morgan and companion with
Sister Andrea Eliason and companion

Day 1 at the MTC

Hi Everyone!

I'm writing at the end of my first day! It was super busy! I don't have much time to write.

My companion is a great person! His name is Elder Kapisi, he is from Maui. There are two other elders in our district, Elder Coleman and Elder Kafusi, both great missionaries. They're a very fun group to be around!

So today, we met our district, chilled, then group taught an investigator, then met our zone leaders. Today we have a busy day of training and teaching, then we'll officially meet our branch presidency tonight (we met the president briefly last night).

That's all I have to say now. I have a busy day tomorrow. I love and miss you all! My P-Day is next Wednesday, so you'll hear from me via email then. Also, my tentative departure date changed to May 26. Because of that the second line of my address is now MAY 26 AZ-SCDL.

Love you and talk to you soon!
Elder Morgan


All missionaries are called by the formal title of Elder plus their last name, if they are male, or Sister and their last name, if they are female. 

MTC (Missionary Training Center) 
At the beginning of their service, LDS missionaries usually spend 2-12 weeks at an MTC where they receive training in doctrine, conduct, proselytizing methods, and when required, a foreign language. There are 15 MTC's throughout the world.

A missionary companionship, consisting of two (or occasionally, three) is the smallest organizational unit of a mission. Every missionary is assigned by the mission president to be another missionary's companion.

District Leaders and Zone Leaders 
Missionaries are divided into zones each led by one or more missionaries assigned as zone leaders. The number of missionaries in a zone varies. Zones are divided into districts, each being led by a missionary assigned as a district leader. A district usually has two to four missionary companionships. The zones leaders and district leaders train the missionaries, and see after their welfare. 

Branch Presidency 
This is the ecclesiastical leadership for the missionaries while living at the MTC. The missionaries are divided into branches which are congregations that meet for Sunday Church services. Sunday church services are held under the direction of a Branch President and his two counselors which together form a branch presidency.

A person interested in learning more about the LDS faith.

P-Day (Preparation Day)
One day a week is set aside for missionaries to shop, do laundry, write letters, take care of personal needs and plan for the week. Preparation day ends and missionaries return to their proselytizing labors around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Families are Forever!

Why We Choose to Serve

Yesterday was the last day I’ll see my youngest brother for the next two years. Why, you ask? Because he’s chosen to spend two years of his life serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Our only communication these next two years will be weekly emails and phone calls twice per year – on Mother’s Day and Christmas.

As I’ve talked with many not of the LDS faith about my brother’s missionary opportunity, questions have surfaced about why we as members of the LDS faith serve missions and fully consecrate 18 months or 2 years of our lives to serve. To answer this question, I would like to pose a series of “What if” questions to those seeking to understand why we choose to serve…

What if you believed that we – all of us here on this earth – were spiritually created by a Supreme Being? And what if you believed we lived with Him before we came to earth. In addition, what if you believed our ultimate goal as children of God, the Supreme Being, was to return and live with Him again, and what if you believed that doing so would bring us the greatest joy imaginable?

What if you realized that while many people around you didn’t believe in God, they too were created by Him and would one day experience the greatest joy by living with Him again? Would you feel the need to share this message with those around you if you believed that no matter how happy they seem right now, their greatest joy will come from returning and living with God again?

I think the answer to the above question is yes, you would feel the need to share this message. I believe this is the case because everyday my life is touched by people of many different faiths and ideologies who want me to be truly happy. I believe the world is full of genuinely good people. And I believe that the vast majority (if not all) of you reading this blog post would absolutely say, “If I believed these things to be true, I would share this message because I want those around me to have joy.”

We as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that what I’ve shared above is true. We are spirit children of God. We came to earth to receive bodies and to learn to walk by faith. Our greatest joy will come from living with God again. It is through Jesus Christ that this is all possible. For this reason, we choose to serve missions.

We choose to serve because we believe that you are our spiritual brother or sister, and we want you to feel our Heavenly Father’s love. We choose to serve because we know that life here on earth can be dark and sad, and that true light and hope come through Jesus Christ. We choose to serve because we know that through service we can better understand the Master Servant, Jesus Christ, who’s life and love we seek to emulate. We choose to serve because we recognize that all our strength and blessings come from God, and we can make nothing of ourselves without Him. We choose to serve because we believe that is what God would want us to do.

I am grateful for those of all faiths who have shared their beliefs with me. I am thankful for these courageous individuals who open up and invite me to experience the happiness they’ve found.

The next time an LDS missionary knocks on your door, I hope you’ll realize they are there because they love you. They wouldn’t give years of theirs lives to share this message if they didn’t love you. They wouldn’t go without seeing their family for many, many months if they didn’t believe that the message they are sharing would benefit your family for eternity and bring you the greatest joy imaginable.

For these reasons, and so many others, we choose to serve. 



LDS Missionaries

Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)—widely known as Mormon missionaries—are volunteer representatives of the LDS Church who engage variously in proselytizing, church service, humanitarian aid, and community service. Mormon missionaries may serve on a full- or part-time basis depending on the assignment, and are organized geographically into missions. The mission assignment could be to any one of the 405 missions organized worldwide.

The LDS Church is one of the most active modern practitioners of missionary work, reporting that it had over 80,000 full-time missionaries worldwide in October 2013[1] (as well as over 22,000 part-time church-service missionaries at the end of 2012).[2] Most full-time Mormon missionaries are single young men and women in their late teens and early twenties and older couples no longer with children in the home. Missionaries are often assigned to serve far from their homes, including in other countries. Many missionaries learn a new language at a missionary training center as part of their assignment. Missions typically last two years for males, 18 months for females, and 6 to 18 months for older couples. The LDS Church strongly encourages, but does not require, missionary service for young men. All Mormon missionaries serve voluntarily and do not receive a salary for their work; they typically finance missions themselves or with assistance from family or other church members. Many Latter-day Saints save money during their teenage years to cover their mission expenses.