Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hey y'all! 

This Texas boy sure is seeing a new kind of weather up here! Its been getting pretty chilly this week! Yesterday it was bitter cold, with highs just in the 20's and we even got a mini snow flurry. Not much here in Damariscotta but Boothbay (South of us on one of the Peninsulas in our area) got enough to accumulate on the ground! Brrr! It will be fun though. We are already starting the winter ideas list. Apparently because of the winters up here, it is pretty hard to stay busy, especially being in an area like this and you might not be able to drive some days. :/ So yeah, we are getting our ideas flowing! It will be pretty fun! haha 

But hey this week really has been good!

On Monday we got to go to the Goldrups because we still didn't have our car back. And Nick (the 19 yr old) came to pick us up and did our laundry there as well. But we went out to lunch with him and went to Moody's which is like a dinner restaurant, with awesome breakfast food! Nick said their hash-browns and blueberry pancakes were amazing so I had that and it sure was good! haha Then we headed back and our car was ready so we got to pick it up! SO this week we have had the blessed car back. I enjoyed the change of not driving everywhere, but it nice to have the car back, and its super nice now that its pretty cold! haha 

Tuesday, like always we went teaching with Brother Duffy! We taught Andie again, and we she is really ADD so I had to spice up the lesson (reviewing the restoration and teaching the priesthood) by getting up and having Elder Dally be Jesus giving me the priesthood and then I hoped up and asked her, " so because I am Peter and Jesus gave me the priesthood, can I give it to someone else now?" And she was now more engaged and said, "yeah of course!" and So I surprised Brother Duffy but told him to be Joesph Smith and put my hands on his head acting like I was giving him the priesthood and explained that that is who Joesph Smith got the priesthood and then had her attention enough to explain the duties of the priesthood! haha I will now come up with better object lessons for her! That is definitely her learning style, HANDS ON!  
Then we taught Norm and he still says he hasn't got a clear answer yet but says it really makes sense logically. That is was stuck out to me the whole time he talked to us about how he felt and we addressed that we are so happy that is makes so much sense logically but that he will gain that sure belief and knowledge of its truthfulness once it makes sense to him spiritually. Getting that spiritual witness with the logic is what we focused on. And I felt that challenging him to pray vocally when asking for answers to know if all of this was true. As I wrote in my letter home, President Stoker talked about the power that vocal prayer can have and it made sense to Norm and he recognized that he would put forth more effort in his prayers if he did it vocally! So we are hoping this helps him. He still isn't comfortable saying a prayer in front of us, so I really think that this was where we needed to focus our discussion. We hope that he will accept a new baptismal date of Jan. 11th tomorrow. 

Thursday Lisa and James  (recent converts) had us over for dinner and a lesson. She made sure to make a dish that was vegetarian! Members are so nice about that here! Its great! And then we got to have a lesson on the priesthood with them and really help James out to know what his duties are with the Aaronic Priesthood that he just received last week. It was great! 
They are such an amazing family! They have a Book of Mormon Stories Book that they read with their kids every night, but its their little boy Cale that reminds them to do it every night! Its so awesome! 

On Friday we had dinner with the Hovance Family and they made a vegetarian chili! soo good! And then we also got to go do service for a lady that works at spectrum generations. She needed some help carrying in some wood pellets and turns out that she had been praying that morning for someone to help her with it and when talking to Mary-Ann a lady we do service for here at spectrum generations, she told her "why dont you ask the Elder Boys?" And so she did and she was just so grateful for our help and she said she would be more than happy to have us back over for a message from us after we offered that to her! We sure hope that she is interested even more! 

Our finding efforts have really been a priority and so we are really having high hopes for this last week of the transfer with all the potentials that we now have! 

I have run out of time to share even more of the many great experiences of this week, but I hope those that I have shared have lifted your spirits and make you feel some what caught up with what is going on here! haha

I love this work, and am so glad to be out here in Damariscotta Maine! It's a great time to be a missionary, but also to be a member missionary!

Love y'all! ;D

-Elder Swalberg

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monday November 18, 2013

Well hello! This week has been very different than many other weeks! The main reason being last Monday we had to drop off our car at a car restoration place to repaint most of the car, and they said we would be out of a car for a week! Previous Elders brought it through a car wash and it got a ton of scratches on it. So Elder Dally and I were the lucky ones that got to go without a car for a week, in an area that is so big that bikes simply could not cover it. Anyway, I was very pleased that when we needed to get out of town to go see our investigators, less actives, or recent converts there was always a member willing to take us out and help us. 

Even with all this help there was a lot of time left to fill and until Saturday our bikes were out of commission. So it whoever we saw had to be in walking distance. We did a good amount of service and tracting. But it seemed like a constant question at night who are we going to go see now? But somehow as we prayed to know where to go and what to do, our time was filled and things worked out. We have 2 return appointments with people we tracted into, and brought some banana bread to another family we tracted into that didn't give us a return appointment but did allow us in that night. And they seemed to appreciate that! 

Like last night after church we had about 2 1/2 hours to fill and we were not about to tract for that long. We knew we could do something more productive at that time. While we walked around town we stopped by a very high potential that the sisters have been trying to meet with but she was never home. Well we tried and lo and behold she was home! We couldn't go inside but we talked to her and said the sisters would be stopping by soon if they can. And she was happy about that and said they are always welcome. We then walked a little bit down the road and the sisters pulled off the road because they saw us, and we told them that Elaine (that lady) was home and they should stop by and they did and got to teach her. They said it went well and they were planning to stop by again this week! So one miracle right there, but as we decided to tract, we had planned to tract a street on the opposite side of town the night before as a back-up. Well instead of just tracting where we were, we went down to the street and we found a lady about 15 minutes into tracting who had talked with Elders briefly before and let us in. We talked with her and about her religion and really how similar her beliefs were with ours. (Episcopalian) We transitioned that into the restoration and without asking if she wanted to know about our church we just started teaching and got through most of it in about 5 or 7 minutes and gave her a restoration DVD to watch and set up a time for us to come back and talk more and answer any questions she had about the movie. We will be seeing her on Thursday! 

So yeah, there were multiple miracles that made our days full of things to do and people to see when we at first did not see how it would all work out. But it did! 

A quick update on Brother Carlson our progressing investigator. He is doing awesome! When we met with him, he said he hasn't received a clear answer, but that it still all seems right to him. But the things that amazed me was that he said he knows that Joesph Smith was a prophet! I was like, "Well then dude, you know its all true then!!!!!" haha, but I still think he is going to get an answer that will touch him so that he will know that everything else is true as well! He said that baptism is going to be quite the physical ordeal, because he is 400+ lbs, 83 years old, and is practically wheel chair bound. But I then asked him a question, "So Norm, if you had your 18 year old body would you be baptized?" After going on for a minute of everything he could do at 18 (diver, swimmer, athlete, etc,) He responded, "Yes, yes I would." We were all like, "Well then, we can work with that! Let us figure out an easier way and we will tell you our ideas next week." He was good with that, and said he will keep praying too! SO yeah he is sweet. We have brainstormed a little with our Branch Mission Leader and also with Bro. Duffy, who is in the Branch Presidency and always goes out teaching with us with to Norm, and we have a few ideas that will work. 

Anyway it is an exciting place to be, and I really hope in these next 2 weeks we will increase our teaching pool with multiple new investigators! 

This week I wrote out 11 pages of my thoughts on Elder Nielson's talks I heard last week, and what I learned at Zone Conference. It should be in the mail today to be sent home! Hope it gets there soon. 

I couldn't find my camera this morning. I know I need to send home some pictures so I think I might send home my SD card this week. If not, I will for sure send pictures next week some how! hahaha

I love you guys and appreciate all the prayers! 

-Elder Swalberg

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Just to update y'all on Landon's visa....we have once again been asked to get a current police clearance with even more information that before.  The Brazil Consulate has changed their requirement for visas once again.  In addition, we have been asked to submit his curriculum vitae on 2 separate sheets of paper (notarized) (before it was only on one sheet - back and front - with the notarization stamp on the back side which showed through to the front when they scanned the document....picky!)  and get 2 updated passport photos (recent within 6 months).  We are confident that Landon will get to Brazil; however, in the meantime he is LOVING serving in the New Hampshire mission.

Thank you all for giving him so much support!

Well I found out yesterday at Zone Conference. (This was regarding him needing to get to updated passport photos.) Because I was on exchange the day they called me about it. And my companion forgets EVERYTHING and didn't tell me or I could have had them to you already. I will be at the computer tomorrow as well so I think I can take them tonight and get them to you tomorrow afternoon. I think I remember the specifics. just in my suit, with a non smiling face, with a white background. Thanks for helping with this. Sister Skidmore said that she would be helping me out this week with anything else I need to do. 

Anyway, I just wanted to get that out first. 

I am so glad it got to you! Brother Hutchins is great! The article actually helped us out here too! We had multiple people come up to us saying they saw us in the paper. Its been pretty cool! 

And I have found winter stuff from the apartment/mission old missionaries’ clothes. So far I am feeling fine with what I have. I will send a couple pictures of what I have been wearing. haha

And I am thinking I will send home my SD card this week or next so you guys can get all of the pictures that I haven’t sent cause I am getting behind and you can then see the recording as well! But the guitar is awesome to have! haha

Ah I am so excited for BEN!  Man, that is so awesome! I am so happy for him! Portugal will be great for him! That's where my MTC teacher went and he loved it! I can't wait to talk Portuguese with SESH when we get all back! We will have to teach Kelsey I guess. haha She learns fast, so it will be good! :D lol 

So cool about Brittney too. Grandma told me about her too last week!

Well I thought I would send you the letter I sent in my Letter to President just so you know a little more that I won't be writing in the update of this week. Thought you might like it: 

Dear President Stoker,

I am so happy to have another chance to write to you today. I am so grateful for everything you did yesterday for me personally and all the missionaries during Zone Conference! I loved every minute of it! I learned a lot and recognized a lot that I need to change as well to become a better missionary! But I continue to follow the principle of exact obedience but I always can improve and will strive to do so! 

This week has been tough. We have not been able to meet a lot of our goals this week and many days where our numbers are hard to look at. BUT we have really been studying chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel to give us guidance on how to find more people to teach. We have had many miracles happen. I had the goal to never tract my entire mission because I had been taught there is always a better way. But with not many members in our area and very limited miles we recognized we needed to do something. I prayed really hard for 2 days and came to the conclusion that tracting a little bit through-out the week would be successful IF we sought for inspiration to where we should go, how long we should do it, and what time to go do it. With all three of those factors in place we had short tracting sessions and would find people that were interested enough to listen to us and possibly let us come back to teach more. I saw this as an answer to my prayers! I let go of a goal that was of myself and formed my actions to God's will and I saw beautiful results! I will always need those same factors to come into play for me to still tract because without them I am simply randomly knocking, which is not the best use of time.

Our 1 progressing investigator Norm C.  has been doing great! We will be following up on his commitment to pray sincerely about the Book of Mormon and what we have taught him and I know he will be headed to baptism shortly after! I am so impressed with this man! He listens to the prophets and apostles talks and loves hearing their words and never misses a Sunday at church. 

My companion, Elder Dally, and I are very different. But I am determined to make our companionship work! We had a good discussion during companion inventory last week and talked about being more open with each other instead of letting feelings be bottled up inside, because for us it isn't let go until we let it out. I have really relied a lot on prayer! I felt an increase of love for him every time I pray for it! I know it is the savior helping me feel in such a way. We may have conflicts but we discuss them in a way that we feel good afterwards not worse. 

I am so grateful for all that this area is teaching me. I know that I am here to help in the effort to make this Damariscotta area boom! There is great potential here, so now it just needs to happen!~I am thankful for the opportunity to be here at this time! 

Thanks again for all you do,

-Elder Swalberg

So this week has been interesting: Our numbers have been down in our key indicators but that's because we have been putting so much of our time into finding new investigators. We found another family during tracting last Monday who let us in to warm up and that was our chance! I connected well with them because they are a homeschooling family and said how much the gospel was incorporated into that schooling as well. They liked that. They first told us that they don't like organized religion but by the end of us talking to them and telling them more about the plan of salvation, and offering service. They might call us to have us over for dinner! WOW! It amazed me from 5 minutes before we left they told us they were all set and don't like organized religion to asking us questions that they had about life after death and wanting us back sometime for dinner! It was a miracle to me that it all happened as soon as they let us into their home and we were in an environment to be able to gain their trust and bare testimony! It was great, and we are hoping to follow up with them soon!

Norm is doing great! He is still coming to church and last time we met we watched the 3 part series of Elder Bednar Mormon Messages. "Patterns of light" It helped him understand how to recognize the spirit better. He is praying more often and said he will pray about the book of Mormon and what we have taught him this week for sure. I am so excited to meet with him tomorrow! He is so great and I love seeing him progress! 

The rest of the week included an exchange with my district leader Elder Lund! He is great I went up to his area in Bath, ME. We had a great time! He had Elder Woodall as his companion for the last 12 weeks (Elder Woodall is now in Brazil as of transfers) and so we connected really well with the many stories that we had and talked about how we worked with him. Anyway it was like a vacation being with him for a day. We are a lot alike. That night we were both really hungry and he told me there was a Little Caesars...and I said, "WE ARE GOING NOW!" hahaha So we split a cheese pizza. I will attach a picture. IT was awesome to learn from him as well he is coming up on a year that he has been out now. 

Sunday was great. Our Gospel Principles teacher didn’t show up so us missionaries looked at each other and said, "looks like we are teaching today." So I turned open to the chapter we were on and went from there. I led the class and it actually turned out very well! One of the sisters in our ward sat in that usually didn't and afterwards came up to me and told me It was a wonderful lesson, but I don't think she knew I winged it. I let her think it was prepared! haha. But it was fun though. I love being a missionary and getting to do those kinds of things at the spur of the moment. haha But then we got to go to the Fireside for the stake with Elder Neilson! He really got all the leaders of the stake and wards hyped up on missionary work!!! EXCLAMATION POINT! haha He used that a couple times. haha But really it was great! I loved hearing him speak about the close relationships he had with the 12 and the 1st presidency. He said earlier that week, he had the opportunity to pass the sacrament to the Quorum of the 12 apostles and 1st Presidency! CRAZY right?! With those kinds of things shared that night it made his statements about missionary work even more meaningful, knowing that it is the same message that any of the prophets would give! He said the missionary work is their top priority! Wow, what a statement! It was so great, and it was even cooler to spend the whole next day with him and his wife and President Stoker and his wife during Zone Conference! I will have to write a letter home with some of the things I learned because there is just so much, but just know there was such a special spirit there all day and I will never forget the feeling and memories of being with Elder Neilson for the day! 

I know we are led by true and living prophets and general authorities! They are truly called by God and receive revelation from Him of what we need to do in this day and age! I love them all they do! I know this gospel is true with every fiber of my being, and I love baring testimony of it each day! Everyone deserves to hear this message and the Lord will not stop hastening this work until everyone has! 

I love you all and thanks so much for all the support you give! 

-Elder Swalberg

Friday, November 8, 2013

Elder Swalberg in the News!!!

A member who serves on the public affairs committee in New England sent us this image from the Lincoln County News....  Fun to see!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Well I now have my feet planted in the cold ground of Damariscotta, Maine! 
I am getting to know the area very quickly and also the members! I love them all, and it is actually a lot easier to serve in area with a Branch at least when trying to get to know everyone in the Branch, because there aren't as many names to remember! haha But really there are some great people up here! What I love is that so many of them are converts, its more of a rarity to find someone born in the church than not! It sure helps when teaching with them! I love it! 

Going from a trio to a regular companionship is really really weird! It is so quiet now! haha Its been wired but I am getting used to it and it is working just fine. My companion Elder Dally, is from Provo, Utah, but originally from New Mexico and Alaska. He is 20 yrs old now and has been out about 7 1/2 months. This is his first time being senior companion, so it allows me to learn a lot with him. So that is good. 

With our last 3 baptisms this past weekend, we are not visiting them as much. Our Branch Mission Leader, Bro. Royer,  has stated he wants the Branch Missionaries to teach them along with other members (home teachers and visiting teachers). I think it will be good. But that also cuts down on our normal lessons. But we are still teaching a few others.

One of them that is progressing a lot is Norm Carlson! Bro. Carlson is great! He is like already a member! He is soooo nice and lives a very good life. He is 83 years old and a very large man, practically wheelchair bound, but can get up and walk with a walker as support if he needs to. But since I have been here he has stopped drinking alcohol and coffee. Coffee was the biggie for him. But he has come to church without missing for more than 2 months, and has an amazing fellow-shipper, and previously less-active member no less! His name is Brother Giusani! He is awesome! He has been active for the past 3 or 4 months now. He still shows up in his sweets to church just like Norm, but I thinks its great! haha Bro Giusani goes with Norm to help in and out of his car and wheel him into the church building and to classes through out the day. Bro Giusani is retired, probably in his mid 60's, but really him and Norm are best buds! Its the best! 

Norm also recently got a roku box and has been watching everything he can possibly watch on Mormon Channel on his TV. Last time we came over we finished watching President Monson's Biography called "To the Rescue" with him. It was great! We had Bro and Sister Duffy (Branch Missionaries) with us that time and she bore here testimony later in the lesson about her own conversion and how she got an answer, and we were able to challenge him to pray about what he has learned so far, and he accepted. He also accepted a date for Nov. 30 to be baptized if he comes to know these things are true! I can't wait for our lesson with him tomorrow to talk to him more about it! He is such a great guy! Oh and his voice is the best he has the most calming deep smooth voice you can imagine! haha I love hearing him talk and read things in the scriptures aloud! haha 

Anyway we have a few other investigators that we teach every once in a while but aren't really progressing right now. But I will tell you more about them as time goes along.

One miracle we saw this week was concerning our district goal though, it was to tract for 5 hours this week. We all (4 companionship) had not received any new investigators and not many referrals. So that was our goal. I was not a big supporter of this at first. I had not tracked one door on my mission and I thought that was how it should be now that we are working with the members so much and it worked in my last area sooo great! But this is a new area and through much study, prayer, more study and more prayer I came to a very spiritual conclusion that I needed to support this decision to tract and so I put all of my faith into finding someone through this goal. Well the next night we went out and knocked on a total of 4 doors before we were let in by the husband of a librarian that we are with every week helper her out at the library! Her name is Jen and her husbands name is Brooks. they asked us to tell them more about our church and we had the opportunity to teach them the restoration very quickly and invite them to church. They didn't come yesterday but I know we will have the opportunity to see and meet with them again! They are looking for a church right now and I know this was meant to be! The Lord really does have a plan for each of his children and inspires us to do certain things to accomplish those plans! I am grateful for the gift of the holy ghost to lead and guide me and receive answers to what the Lord wants me to do! 

 Well Thats all I have time to say this week but I am so happy to be hear and am excited to see what more this area brings to my life and mission. 

I love you all! 

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, October 28th, 2013 - Damariscotta, ME

Well wow where to start?! Well like you know I am in Maine now! Its pretty similar to any other part of New England. haha But it is a little chiller here. It hasn't been above probably 75 since I have been here! But I got to keep a flees jacket I got in my last area. But it hasnt snow...yet. I know I need something much warmer but the sister training leader that is in my district said the mission will make sure that I get something. So either through the mission or the members should get me all set. 

And yeah we live above an orthodontist place. It was just recently made into that, but yeah we live in an apt just above it. Its pretty nice, but it still needs an Elder Swalberg clean before I am totally comfortable. haha :) It sounds like a great week and busy like usual! Sorry to hear you are sick now too! :( I'll keep ya in my prayers!

And Dad, glad to hear you finally had some time on Saturday to put aside work and enjoy yourself a little bit! You sure are amazing and are such an example to me of a hard worker and how well you provide for us! 

Oh and yes you are right about our building its the smallest kind BUT its a building! Its cool to be in a branch, its easier to get to know the members! haha We had 80 at sacrament mt this week is what our branch President said. (Pres. Quinlan) He is a great guy but travels a lot because of his work. But anyway yeah its a great branch. 

thanks for the rest of the things you mentioned! I will recount a little from my last week really quick! 

So this week has been great, tough, stressful, exciting, and NEW! haha Many more words could describe how I feel, but the main thing is that I am ready to make this new area as great as my last area in Ascutney.

This new area I am in is Damariscotta, ME. It is on the coast of Maine and is about the same scenery as my last area but the temperature is just a little chiller! haha It sure is colder than I ever thought I would be feeling in Brazil, thats for sure! 

I have loved getting to meet the members of this branch! There are about 80 active members that come and I am actually remembering their names! There are some great people and I love getting to know them! 

This area actually had 3 baptisms this weekend! Andie who is a happy 12 year old girl and a couple Lisa & James. They were both confirmed yesterday in church and Andie asked me to confirm her on the spot. I was able to remember what I needed to so that was good. She calls me Veggie "Berg"er cause my name is hard to remember. She is really cute! 

I will have to tell you more about our other investigators next week. But I sure am getting excited to make this area just as great as my last area and I know it will happen! 

I love being a missionary! And I have noticed so much that I have learned from my last area now that I have left it and come to a new one! 

Thanks for all the support and emails I get! It still means the world to me! 

I love you guys tons!

-Elder Swalberg