Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thank you for this detailed update on the family! And let Austin know how much I love him and that I will be keeping him in my prayers everyday! It’s sad to hear that, and wish I could do more for him as I'm sure you feel too.

Answers to your questions I will be sure to explain in my letter, all of them have great relevence to what happened this week. You just have that perfect motherly sense that you know what is going on before I even tell you.

So here is the scoop:
I had the opportunity to confer upon Troy the Aaronic Priesthood and ordain him to the office of Priest this Sunday. I told him that I would somehow get a hold of my priesthood line of authority and get it to him. And I was just so proud to know how I received my priesthood and of who gave it to me, you! I am so glad to have had a consistently worthy priesthood holder as my dad. It had affected me so much in who I am today. Thank you.

Well this week has been another week full of miracles! Tuesday, we have a lot lessons with Recent Converts. We have 5 recent converts (within 1 year baptized) that we try to visit weekly. Troy R, Armida R, Scott D, the Lucky family, and Rob V. We got to visit 4 of the 5 that day and taught them great lessons that day! Many of them are planning on going to the temple with the youth this Saturday. I sure hope they will make it!

One Wednesday we had District meeting and took a district picture because it was the last meeting before transfer calls. I will attach the picture. Then we did our normal service at Brenda's (Simply Comfort) with Kateleen. I hope to get a picture of them today so you know what they look like. They are so sweet to us. Almost every time they see us Brenda feeds us and gives us left overs from the previous day, tons of it! She says, "Well, I've got to take care of my boys!" She is like one of our mothers out here. And Kateleen is like a sister for us! To sum it up, they make us feel at home! :)
Thursday was sweet! We did splits for the first time and afterwards we didn't know why this was the first time we did it! The idea first came up from Elder Tewksbury. We had a conflict in schedule with a dinner and teaching appt. with the Lucky family and teaching Alan. So the Luckys would always do a barbeque because they are a Marshalese family like the Rings (Armida) and thats just what they always cook....tons and tons of meat! (as Elder Tewksbury described) haha So he said, "Well this is perfect, Myself and Elder Terry can go to the dinner appt with the Luckys and contact a referral out that way while you go with Brother Best now that he is all fired up and contact some of the less active names that he gave us, and teach Alan! And you will not have to eat meat!"

So that’s what we did and it really was perfect! The referral was a success and they want us to come back, My companions stuffed themselves with meat! While I connected well with Brother Best and had supper great lesson with Alan. Brother Best bore a super powerful testimony to him about his own conversion story and he comforted him in the fact that he doesn't have to know everything to become baptized. He said, "All I knew before I got baptized was that I knew God and Jesus were real, they loved me, and that they wanted me to keep his commandments, and for me to come back to them. And that was enough!" It was perfect for him and it led to us helping him make more commitments that will help him get closer to baptism!

It was exactly what he needed to hear. We stopped by a couple less-actives and sadly they didn't want anything to do with us, and seemed very against the church but were still on the records. But I know that it is needed to visit all of these less actives even if it is just to rescue one! So I felt so successful after that night and was a huge miracle for me this week.

The Saturday we received a call from President Stoker and I will be leaving the area, I am excited for the change and will find out where I am staying tomorrow at transfer meeting!

I love being a missionary and see miracles everyday because of it!
I love you all so much!
-Elder Swalberg

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Okay so a run down of the week:

So this week like last week hasn't been too great according to our numbers or key indicators. BUT yesterday we saw the fruits of our labor! Between our Mission Vision, Zone goal, and General Conference, we have been directed to work with the members over and over again! That is the inspired way that we will have the most success. Well this has been practically going to see Less Actives, Recent Converts, and members! We only got to see Glenn this last week. So other than him we have been working with the members solely! We probably did like 12 or 13 ours of service this last week! A lot of which for the members! It was good though! We are starting to see that trust that the members have in us by asking for our help! We get to know them better and get to serve them at the same time! They are also feeling more comfortable with the missionaries too! 

This has been great! And we also do member stop bys where we just go to members homes and try to stay for 20ish minutes and quickly get to know them and know how we can help them at all. And then share a message with them. This is truly an inspired way to work. 

We get to council with the Bishop quite often. This week we met with him for about an hour and discussed the happenings of our work and what we needed form him. During this meeting he asked us to visit a member that he noticed that hadn't been to church in 8 weeks and thinks they had been offended in some way. So we said that we would the next day we had some extra time in the evening and I felt prompted that we should go over and talk with them. So we did. We simply went to go and ask them how they were doing and if there was anything we could do to help them out. We talked for a little while on their porch and asked them about how they were doing and the Sister almost started to cry and looks to her husband and says, "Well the missionaries stopped by." And went on to explain that earlier that day they had talked about maybe coming back to church this week. And that all she was really waiting for was someone to come by or call her to show that they cared and that she was missed! 
It was such an eye opener to me! We expressed the love and concern that many of them had expressed to us about them and said we really would love to see them at church again! They agreed to come and could tell how much they appreciated our visit.

I know this is the case for so many other less active members. They were either offended, felt forgotten, or simply not loved. And all they need is a friend. Someone to reach out and care about them. Someone to express the wards love for them and that our heavenly father loves them too. And that He wants them to be at church. There were so many talks in conference about going "TO THE RESCUE" for all of these less active members! This is missionary work too! And its a great place for the ward members to start doing missionary work. These are people who have already been taught the gospel, these are people who had a testimony or still have testimony, and are the ones who are really in trouble for not going to church, because they have already made those baptismal covenants. 

Ward council yesterday was sweet! Most of the meeting was revolved around missionary work. Our ward, like many others, have close to 400 inactive members on the ward membership list in the area. I got to share briefly our miracle of visiting a less active member and the huge benefit those visits can be for those people and asked for their help to recognize those who have missed church for a while and to then give them a call or visit them. Bishop made a few comments about visiting all of these less actives also. We saw a big drive and excitement from the whole ward council to go and visit as many as possible. They were willing to do it and a finding night is in the works where all of the ward council including us will go out and visit a bunch of people we don't know and invite them back. It was a great meeting!

 After ward council, Our Ward Mission Leader bore his testimony during sacrament meeting he was like the first one up there. He said how he felt "chastised by the Holy Ghost" (in his own wards)  this morning as he didnt want to come to ward council this morning and was late. He said he has had a change of heart towards his calling and that he needs to do truly magnify his calling. He bore a beautiful testimony about prayer, reading the scriptures and then magnifying our callings! It was incredible! And he also told us after the meeting that he didn't want to wait for them to set up a date for a finding night. He asked us to find a night we can go out on splits with him and we can find some of these less active families and get them back! We were so excited to hear him say that and were totally on board! 
During Elders Quorum he came in and gave me a piece of paper with 5 names on it with addresses and phone numbers and said. "Here are 5 name of people I don't know that I found, all in Newport. (one of the towns in our area) Lets start here! Let me know when you guys can go in the next couple days and we will visit them and a few others that I have in mind!" WOW! It was awesome! I have never seen him so fired up! Such a miracle

Many other members came up to us during church asking for our help with service opportunities, help on setting up a mission prep class for the youth, meal appointments for the week, and even asked who they could go visit in their area to help us out! It was a miracle and I know it came because of our efforts to work with the members more and make them our focus! These are the fruits of our labor and although we may not see them in our numbers they were definitely evident! 

I am so grateful for the guidance we receive from our leaders! It is all so inspired! This work is hastening and is in the Lords hand and nothing will stop it form coming forth! I love this work, and I love being such a big part of it at this exciting time! Miracles are real and I see them happen everyday! And they happen according to our obedience to what our father in heaven asks of us! Keep up the member missionary work at home, and get all excited about this work! 

I love you all so much and think of you often!
Your prayers are much appreciated! I still need them! This is a fun work, but hard work!

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Hey mom!  This week has been crazy. I haven't really even been able to write in my journal much! Its kind of been an off week for me. But still good things happened.

To your last letter and this weeks:

So glad to hear about Zach's job and him getting started on that! My companion Elder Tewksbury worked for Best Buy for a while and really did well there and he loved it! He became a mobile specialist and was promoted a couple times, it sounds like a great place for Zach to work, if he hasn't applied there already!

Thanks for praying and fasting for my visa. I know that I will go on the Lords time and it will work out just fine!

So cool to hear about Jordan Reyes going to Riverside,CA! That is where 4 of the Elders in my MTC district got reassigned to! As far as I know they are still there waiting for their visas. All of my MTC district is still waiting.
And no to your question about the New Era we only get the Ensign.

Taylor, you are not a horrible brother! You are busy and so am I. I have the hardest time trying to write home and to everyone else that writes me! But I'm glad mom gives me an update on everyone though. Sorry to hear you have been sick though, and you too Austin! I can relate to not having time to be sick! Apparently our family is pretty close because even across the country I got sick the same time you guys are. The last 2-3 days I have had a really sore throat, cough, and mucus and snot out the wazzu!!! Luckily no fever, but just a little head ache every once and a while. Hopefully I will be over it in another day or two. Especially cause we are doing exchanges with the Zone leaders tomorrow for a day. I am going up to Lebinan Vermont to their area with Elder Tewksbury and Elder Terry will stay in our area with the other Zone leader. Anyway, I hope I will feel better for that whole ordeal.

And yeah, it is even prettier this week! I will send some pictures of it that show the colors even better!

During interviews with the president, we had a chance to talk with Sister Stoker too! She asked how our eating and exercising was doing and talked to us about how we can improve! She found out I was vegetarian and suggested I use quinoa instead of rice. Which I really think I should, and I already had bought some veggie bullion that is pretty good!  Anyway I just noticed I can do better at my eating habits too!

I will talk about conference in my letter about what has been going on down below.

 Thanks so much for the booklets! My companions and I loved having them! My companions both asked me to thank you for putting them together and sending them. Elder Tewksbury said this was the first time he ever watched all of conference and took notes for EVERY TALK through-out all of it! He was really excited about it and loved reading the facts about the prophets and apostles. i gave one to Troy and also one to Cristi Wyant. She is 19, and we know her family really well because they feed us every week! She was at the church watching it there every session so yeah. She really liked having it and thought it was super cool! Idk if I said this before but she is preparing to go on a mission, She just turned 19 a few weeks ago, but she is waiting for her older brother Cyle to come from his mission this December before she goes. Anyway The booklets were much appreciated and we loved them! haha

Thanks for your incites on the BSA broadcast this month with the church. I told Bro. Wyant about it and it seemed like they didn't know about it. So i hope I can help them know more about it and announce it in church and I love the idea of going to the other troops. i know who the scout master is in the ward so I hope to get ahold of him and get his help on inviting other troops to watch it. Is it going to be broadcasted to all the ward buildings like General Conference or what? I know you can watch it online but yeah I wasnt totally sure  on that. I can research that a little more tomorrow during our hour of time tomorrow. But yeah 2 of the 3 of us are eagle scouts and one was at least involved in scouts. Thanks for this idea for finding and reaching out to the community.

Also thanks for your thoughts on Ward Mission Plans! I have studied that more this week in PMG and I really think our ward here needs to refocus themselves to it and improve it. I have already talked to the Bishop about it, but he doesn't even really know what it all contains. As we continue to visit more member homes I want to help them create a family mission plan and personal mission plans as well! I am excited to use what I have learned in Gen. conf. to help with that! There was some great council from elder Ballard to the members and missionaries! I will comment more about his talk later in this emial!

And thanks for the pizza we went out a week ago from this past saturday at Romutoz Brick oven Pizza! It was more expensive than I thought, but it was super good and thought you of you during it! You would have loved it! It was your kind of style of pizza for sure! You going to have a brick oven outside by the time I am home along with your outdoor kitchen? haha.

Thanks for the letters and emails! I got your post card also! That was a nice surprise! I also got a little package from lynette and her family also. Let them know I got it and that I will write back sometime to answer their questions in their letters! Thank them so much for that! It was awesome!

Alright here is what I wanted to share to you all for this week and I will try my best to get it all in before I run out of time. I took extra time to plan out what I wanted to share this time! haha

First the explanation about my face that Dad asked about.
So the Thursday before my birthday we taught Troy a lesson and were late to our next appointment so we were hurrying down the stairs in the apartment building and with my big thick soled shoes, that I am still not used to walking and moving around in, on I tripped about 6 stairs and fell straight into the wall below! I punched a whole in the wall trying to catch myself and then my face planted right on the corner of the wall. (that part was reinforced with metal so the wall didn't brake there...just my face! haha) But It was just bruised and sore for a couple days and made for a good converstation starter for the next week! haha. You can't tell at all anymore. So its all good. But the tripping jokes never stop from my companions.

Well here is an update on our investigators. It has been a kind of rough week with them. We only met once with one of our progressing investigators, Helen. She was asleep the other time we can by, so we just talked with Jason for a little bit. But she has smoked twice in the last 4 weeks which for her is seriously a MIRACLE! She is still on the patch but braking the habit of having a cigarette in her hand is a big accomplishment. We are going to talk to her about family history this week. Jason has been helping her find information and documents about her grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members that have died so that Jason can do the baptisms for them. She loves the idea of family history! So I am going to bring the pedigree chart that Grandma Landon and Grandma Swally helped me with before I left and also bring the stories of William Cook Prows and Austin Hammer and read her some of those stories! It should be a great lesson and discussion.

Alan canceled on us this week because he was feeling sick. But last week he essentially said he wasn't quite ready to commit to baptism yet. He knows he can't drink coffee but he doesn't want to give that up and also is worried about going to church every Sunday. But he also said that he believes what we have been teaching him and wants us to continue to come back. This man is 74 years old and hasn't had this desire to learn from the missionaries the whole time he has been married to Sister Bullis so this is really still such a miracle that he still wants to learn from us and continue to grow in his faith.

Leonice the Brazilian has been in Brazil this last couple weeks so really this week we just want to meet with her more.

Glenn we are still trying to get to the JSM, but he just struggles to accept commitments. But we will be meeting with them this week and hopefully have a great lesson with him.

Dang it Im running out of time.

Well this week we had interviews with President Stoker! I loved it and getting to talk to him about my struggles and accomplishments was great and really comforting! It was like talking to my parents again! President Stoker and his wife are so wonderful to each of us and I love spending time with them! They have such a concern for each and everyone of us!

Conference was sooooo great! Even though I was blowing my nose the whole time because I have been sick the last couple days, I loved it! I had candy to snack on through out it just like at home! haha and had the booklet which made it seem more like home too! But I loved doing it as a missionary. New things popped out to me as being a missionary. and also the Wyants were so gracious to invite us over both days for dinner! They are an awesome family and sure take care of the missionaries even when its a sacrifice for them!

I love so many talks but especially Elder Ballard's talk! He stated so boldly that "NOW IS THE TIME for missionaries and members to work together!" I know this is the way that the Lord is hastening his work! There is no other way that the work will progress faster! I can't wait to help members work better with us!

Well I did my best to get everything in. but I have to go now. I love you all so much and hope you continue in all the great things you are doing at home! Thank you for all your prayers and support!

-Elder Swalberg

Here are a few pictures also like I promised!

The trees are beautiful! and seriously there are apple trees everywhere so you can just pick them! I never have to buy apples! Haha I love it!

And guess who is in my Zone now!!! Yep Elder Richins! We saw each other at Zone interviews with the President! We both freaked out! haha Pretty cool! Make sure Momma Sorensen sees this!