Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014 - First and Last Christmas in Brazil!

Hey yall!

So this week sure has been great! We have been teaching some great families and also had some great times this week with our members. Especially with our ward mission leader. First off I will talk about 2 investigator families really quickly.

The family that is closest to baptism is Maria and Estefine. I dont know if I already talked about them but Estefine is 14 and lives with her grandmother Maria. They will most likely be baptized this Sunday. But the miracle for them this week was that Jois the mother of Estefine and daughter of Maria came to church this week! We only taught her once, and after that she wasnt able to make it to any of our appointments marked with her. But she went with her daughter and she said she really enjoyed it! They have a great family, and we already know more of their family, and it looks like they will be interested also! The only concern we have for them is that they will be moving to the other side of the city across the river, so it will make it a lot harder to come to church. So prayers that everything will go smoothly and that they can still come to church will really help them!

The other family that is progressing is a couple that arent married...yet...(Carmin and Hélio) and Carmin's daughter Lugiuas. Some of them are traveling right now, but should be back today, and so when we get back we will be able to visit them!

This past week we had a lot of fun with Irmão Neno, our ward mission leader. Tuesday we had the training with the recent converts, and he taught a lesson with us beforehand too. It was great! He is a really great teacher and helps us out a lot in our lessons!
Then after the training, we went with him to a Pizzaria! Here in Brazil they have a type of pizza buffet call Rodizio de Pizza. you pay like 10 dollars and they have guys just come out with different pizzas and they bring it around to every table and give you a slice, and you just keep eating until you cant eat anymore. They all kinds of pizzas, even desert pizzas. My favorite was banana and chocolate! We all ate more than one pizza each! I was so stuffed, but it was so good. It reminded me of CiCís after our backpacking trips as scouts. haha

And then we spent Christmas eve at the house of the president Fransico, the elders quorum president. But irmao neno was there too! They had a bunch of food, and meat. I will attach a photo of Fransico with my comp and their spears of meat. haha

Then for Christmas we had lunch a the branch presidents house, and it was soo good! Lots of food. And then we went to Irmão Neno's house to skype. It was so good to see all my family in the call. I miss yall so much!
But after our amazing call, we had lots of cake, and juice and a few games. It was really a great Christmas!

I am so happy to have had this week to talk with so many people about the gospel. I really learned this year that as a missionary I can really bring Chirst into the homes of everyone here! What a powerful thing that is! I am so greatful for my Savior, and the gift that he is in my life, and what a joy it is to help others receive this gift in its fulness, and reach their full potential!

BTW:  Right now I am actually in Manaus. We travels yesterday afternoon until this morning. We arrived at 7 in the morning and then slept a little. But I think we are going to end our p-day here with Pizza....yeah thats right...Rodizio de Pizza! haha Im excited! haha tomorrow will be Mission Leadership Council with President Castro, and then a happy surprised, we get to attend the temple after the meeting in the evening! I am way excited for that! I love the temple so much!

 Thank you so much for all your love and support.

-Elder Swalberg

P.S. while I was here I got some more letters from Grandpa L. THank you grandpa! and Savanna Llyod, which was so sweet. And Sister Khuyn's package arrived here too. Just wanted to be sure to thank everyone that has sent something, and to confirm that it got here!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - Christmas Conference in Rondonia

Hey everyone!

So this week sure was full of some great stuff! I dont have a whole lot of time today because the internet was really slow today! But I will try to do my best at sharing a little bit and will have pictures attached too!

Well the first thing that was really cool was working with our Ward Mission Leader. I think I commented about how great our leadership is here in this branch already, but really our WML is best of all. We planned a training night with him for 3 recent convert couples, because he had them all called as branch missionaries! EveryTuesday night we are having a trainging class to help them know how to teach the 5 missionary lessons. They will then help us teach our investigators before and after baptism. It was soooo cool to plan it with him, his name is Brother Neno, and then help him with the training. The sisters helped too! It went really well. I also sang with Brother Neno (Joesphs first prayer) as a musical arangement that we put together really quickly. It was really cool! He plays guitar too and sings really well! We will surelly be doing more of this! haha

The work here is going well. We are in the process of cleaning out our pool of investigators and finding a lot. Because they had a lot of investigators that showed a lot of interest, and are families too, but just arent keeping commitments, especially coming to church. So its sad, but at the same time, we know we did everything we could.

We have been preparing a song as a district for the chirstmas zone conference we had yesterday, and so Brother Neno let us use his guitar this week to practice and it was great to have to practice and more so when we have brought it to some of our lessons and members' homes. We have been able to play a christmas hymn in our lessons and to share as our messge at our meals! It really brings the spirit and has been really fun!

The Conference was yesterday, but we left here after lunch on sunday about 3:30 and go there about 10 at night. We had 12 Elders in one apartment that night with only 6 small beds and one hammock. There was really no way I was going to sleep well,...I ended up sleeping on the tile floor, my back didnt feel to well after that night but I did get about 4 hours of sleep. But the conference was really good. We had the training part yesterday morning, and then we had a great lunch at the house of Pres. Quiroz (1st counslor to President Castro) And then we had a gift exchange that we had prepared for. (the first pictures are of me with the gift I recieved from Elder Ryan the other American in our house here in our area, and I drew my own companions name, ahah, so I had made a case for a planner.)  Then we had a slideshow of pictures of the mission in the past year, and then did the talent show. We plan the first noel but Part in Portuguese, part in English and part in Spanish. It turned out really well, and everyone liked it.

While I was there I got to see Elder Bateman again, and Elder Gardner, my MTC Companion who arrived in the mission 1 transfer after I did. It was so good to see him again. I attached a picture of the lunch table after the meal, and then one of me with Bateman and Gardner (Same district, after 1 year and 6 months we were finally all together in the Manaus Mission! haha)

But we left after the talent show and then went to the bus station and waited until our bus arrived, at 10:30 pm. While we waited 6 of us Elders went around walking like last time and we bought Açai, I will send pictures of that in another email here really quick. But then we arrived back in our area today at like 4:30 in the morning, and after we slept for a little bit we had our p-day. But this email ends p-day for this week and now we have a lesson to get to, and then the training again for the recent convert missionaries! Should be another great week! :)

Thanks so much for all the support and prayers!

Love yall!

-Elder Swalberg

The first one is of our district after the talent show.

2. Our Zone, Ji-Paraná

3. Me and Elder Neyra, with our Açai (my last companion in Vilhena)

4. Us 6 Elders eating our Açia (left to right-Elder Chime, Machacca, Munhoz--my companion--, Elder Fericin, Neyra, and Me) 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 - Already my 3rd Area in Brazil!

Hey everyone!

Yeah, if you can't believe that I am already in my third area here in Brazil just think of what I am thinking! I was not expecting this at all! I will expain a little bit about our week and then about the transfer!

It was a really great week in Vilhena! We had the Zone Leaders from Jí Parraná come down to do exchanges with us. It was 6 hour trip for them....yeah exchanges are a little different here in the Manaus mission...haha. But it was really great! Elder Pablo and Elder Munhoz are our Zone Leaders who came down. I went with Elder Pablo. He is super super cool! They spent the whole day Tuesday with us and had 2 solid plans for both companionships in our area! It was awesome to get so much done in one day too! We found 3 new investigators, and got to teach almost all of our investigators, and some less actives. 

The next day I gave a training during district meeting with the Zone Leaders on chapter 8 of  PMG. It had to do a lot with what Elder Aidukaitis of the seventy spoke to us about. I think it went really well. I have really enjoyed serving as District Leader. It has given me a chance to use what I already know from my mission in the states and apply it here. I get to share a lot of my experiences that I have already had. It has really helped me see that I didnt really restart my mission...that my Heavenly Father really prepared me to be ready to serve and share what I know to help other missionaries and my areas. 

Cassia is doing really well. She has been working a ton this week so 2 appointments were canceled but she the members already are supporting her really well,  and are always asking about her! Thats when you know you did your job right as a missionary, when the first thing the members ask you is about how one of your investigators is doing! Its so great! One lesson we had with her was in the morning, and as we left she was like, "Im so sorry I didnt make some coffee or something for you, but I dont drink coffee so I dont have any in my house." Little did she know, this was just one more reason to explain how prepared she is for the gospel. This week she accepted all of the commandments and committed to live them. She can see her life changing and she knows its the right path. 

So about the transfer....Friday afternoon, we went to lunch at a memers home like normal, and was a perfectly normal lunch and we were heading out the door when we got a call from the Assistants, (transfer calls arent normally until Sunday here, but it was about transfers. I had my companion answer while I finished talking with the members, but Elder Neyra answered and they wanted to talk to me. Elder Meio answered the phone and said, "Hey Elder Swalberg, Im calling about transfers. Congrats, Elder, you will be transfered from your area to serve as Zone Leader in Jí Parraná. You will be companions with Elder Munhoz! And Elder Neyra will stay in Vilhena and receive a new companion to replace you as district leader." Once again, I couldn't believe it and thought there was a mistake. I only had 6 freaking weeks here! I was kind of pissed like last time too! ¨6 weeks is just too short! I was sure I was going to stay, because my comp already had more time than me and my last area was only 1 transfer too. But like I said last transfer, Transfer Pridictions are ALWAYS opposite of what you think they will be. And let me tell you, this was definately the opposite of what I was thinking would happen. But of course I still accepted, and was then intructed on my travel plans.

I left Saturday at 9 (the next day) in the evening. So at least I had time to go around and say goodbye to a lot of the people here and take pictures. I will share a few with yall. It was so sad, especially with a name like SWALBERG here in Brazil, no will remember me very well. But I just hope Cassia remembers me! I am so sad I will not be here for her Baptism. She will be baptized here really soon, but I wont be able to see it. But I got to pass by and see her and a few others saturday afternoon. 

It was really sad and everyone was so surprised, but it is what it is. I was all packed up and a member brought me to the bus station and I met up with Elder Carmargos who was also being transfered out of Vilhena to a area way in Manaus. I arrived in my new area at 3 in the morning, and got off the bus to switch places with my Zone Leader, Elder Pablo that i just was with 3 days prior. haha Their ride took me back to our house and we went to sleep. But we have 2 sets of elders here in the same house. Me and my companion, ZLs, and one other set of elders here, all in the same branch too. We also have a set of sisters in the branch. but live way on the other side of town. But our house is a lot bigger than the one I had in Manaus, so it will work a lot better. It is waaayyyy dirty, but I already made some good progress since I arrived. I am a little scard to attack the bathroom, but after I finish up in the kitchen, it is next. BLAH! 4 Elders in the same house makes for a dirty house really quick, and if they dont clean it just gets worse and worse. Its really a good house, its just been trashed by Elders who dont know how to keep up on cleaning! Story of my life for the past year and a half! haha But besides that and the ubundance of cockroachs, our house is pretty good. Still way better than my first house in Manaus! 

But our brach is way cool I had Sunday here already so it was way cool to know the branch and everything already! We have some great leaders here, and I am excited to work with them! There is a lot of potential here! 

But yeah, thats all I have for this week! I will be able to share more about the work here after experiencing the first week here. But here are a few photos from my last beloved area in Vilhena. 

Love you all! 

-Elder Swalberg

:) I sure love Vilhena. If I return anywhere here in Brazil I want to visit here! 
Wendy and her family....Wendy is in the middle in Blue, and her sister to the left is a member, Breyla. 
 We did service the morning that I left for this sister, Irmã Vera! She is really sweet. But if I look really red in the face in the other pictures it is because we were doing service and it was really sunny, and I got burnt! haha

 Cassia and us
 a young man, Lyncoln who is super cool. (14 years old)

and my companion Elder Neyra and me at the bus station as I left Saturday night. 


Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday, Dec 1, 2014

Oi, bom tarde!

Well this week has been really good! To start off I have to tell yall about an investigator that we started teaching this week that is so awesome! 
Her name is Cassia. We met Cassia about 4 weeks ago. We were just walking down the street and a younger lady stopped us after we passed by her and said, "hey wait! Are you mormons?" And we responded "Yeah, have you met with Elders before?" thinking it was a former investigator, but she responded saying no, but that a lot of members of her family are members of the church, and she just moved back up here from São Paulo. She promissed her brother that she would make a visit in the chapel her in Vilhena once she got settled down, but she couldnt find it. So obviously we explained that it was not far away at all. She was excited to know, and said she would make a visit in 2 weeks. FAST FORWARD 2 WEEKS.....She came to church! But because we have sacrament meeting last here, we didnt see her, because we were in Preisthood. She thought that church was only for 1 hour so she left after Relief Society before we could catch her! It was so depressing, But I called her later that day and asked if we could visit her and share with her a little more about the church. She graciously accepted and marked it for the next Saturday, as it was the only time she could meet with us. But come Saturday 30 minutes before our appointment we were trying to find her house. She didnt have a number of her house, just the road and the discription of where it was. But we could not find it. We tried calling like 100 times and she didnt answer her phone. We probably asked 15 people that live on that road if they knew a Cassia that live close by. No one knew her. After looking up and down this big street for almost an hour, we decided to call it quits.

 The next day she called us back...what had happened was she thought we were coming 7 oclock in the morning, and we thought at night! We felt so stupid but we marked it for Monday evening (One week ago) after our p-day. We told her we were having trouble finding her, she described it again to us but still had trouble finding her! But this time we invited a sister of the branch to join us that talked with her in Relief Society that day she came, and she is one of the Counselors in the presidency. Then without us knowing she invited the president of the relief society too. So with them we found Cassia's house and got to know her a little better. She is about 28 years old has a 7 year old daughter, and its just them that live together here. She is super sweet and again she explained to us about her family in São Paulo that are members.

Then we started to the lesson. It went so well, we were able to switch off teaching different principles and have both of these wonderful sisters testify and explain so clearly as they could speak the language and relate to her even better than we could. We got to the part about the Book of Mormon and challenged her to read it she accepted but really had a lot of questions of how she would receive her answer. Both my companion, and these 2 sisters gave thier stories of conversion and how they received their own answers. It was really powerful and it helped her realized that each one of us is different, and receive our answer different. She felt good about it and said she would read and pray, and this included praying about the date we set with her for Dec 7th. for baptism. She said if she receives her answer, she would be baptized. The spirit was really strong, and I know it was because we had members with us! What a powerful spirit they were able to bring to our lesson, and I don't think they even recognize that! But we had her give the closing prayer, she wasnt confortable with it, but because we followed the pattern of having a kneeling prayer, she did it. It wasnt perfect, but it was soooo good! It was sincere! 

But in this past week we have met with her 2 other times and she came to church yesterday for ALL 3 hours! Not just the first one! haha But she is doing so well. The second time we came over she said she had read, and that she had called her brother, who has 19 years, and asked how he recieved his answer about the book of Mormon and baptism. And then she asked him what she should do, and he replied, "Do what they asked, pray. But really, sincerely pray to know!" What a good brother right?!?! It was so cool she said she has been praying and that she feels good about everything, but that she wants to keep reading and praying. She did exactly that and read all of the introductions, testimonies, etc. by the next time we visited her. She said she had a hard day the day before we came. She also explained that she often feels really alone, and that its really hard for her sometimes. But she said that night she said a prayer asking for help and to know the right path, and she said she heard a little voice whisper to her saying, "My daughter, be calm. I am with you, and continue strong." (Thats the best translation I can give, its not exactly what she said) But she sarted to cry as she said it. Elder Neyra testified that Heavenly Father is reaching out to her and answering her prayers. That he is really there for each one of us, and testified that this is the right path that she is starting to walk. She then gave the closing prayer, kneeling again, and mentioned baptism for the first time in her prayer. She is really progressing well, and starting to know how the spirit can talk to her! 

Well I didnt know I was going to share that much about her, but you can just imagine how excited we are about her! We hope all will go well this week too to prepare her for baptism. Its not super firm for this week, but if not this week next week for sure! 

But in other news, President Casto came to Vilhena. It is a long trip down here and so it not very often that members here get visits from leaders of the church. Our 2 Branches here are not even part of a district. They are part of the Manaus Brazil Mission. So President Castro holds the keys to proside over our 2 branches here. So he came to train the leadership, preisthood brotheren, and hold a Branch Conference for both wards! It was really cool!

We also had interviews with President Castro. It was a lot faster than my interviews with President Stoker in my other mission. It was still good, but I still miss my very personal and spiritual interviews with President Stoker, starting with a kneeling prayer, and ending with a prayer by him pleading the Lord for success on my behalf, followed by one of the warmest, sincere hugs you could imagine! But even though we just ended with a handshake with President Castro I could still see the love and felt the sincere support and trust he has in me. It was really good! 

I wish I could explain more about what I learned with President here, but a lot of what he talked about will be applied to the missionary work here, and so I hope to talk about how things are will change in the right direction in my future letters! 

But I know that my Mission President is inspired by God, He as well as I put full trust in the Prophet and leadership of this church, Which really leads to trust in our savoir Jesus Christ! I know he lives and guides this church and especially this work, because it is HIS work! 

I love yall! 

-Elder Swalberg

PS Photos arent working this week again. I will try agian next week!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hey y'all!

This week went by so fast! Probably because we only had half the week to work in our area! After P-day until mid-day Thursday, we were traveling! We had a special conference with Elder Aidukaitis ( He is currently serving as a counselor in the South America South Area Presidency.

So after our pday, we packed up and went to the other Elder's appartment to sleep there cause it is just down the street from the bus station. Our bus left at 7 Tuesday Morning, and we were traveling until 8:30 at night! These buses are good buses though. Like the 2 story buses, with the seats that can lean back, have a bathroom, and they stop every 2-3 hours to pick up other people, but also you can get off and stretch and buy food if you want as well. But nothing really settled well for me on the way there. I was a little travel sick on the way there. So I tried to study but after about 5 minutes of studying I always just fell asleep! Mom, you were exactly right on your prediction of what I would end up doing on my ride up there, sleep. But it was good, to nap because I havenet been getting a whole lot of sleep lately. But along the way the bus picked up like 10 other missionaries too. This zone is pretty spread out, and we are the farthest south. But after about 8 hours of the trip we had all the people in our zone on the bus. We all had seats next to each other so we just talked the rest of the way up, Another American (from Washington DC) sat next to me, Elder Bearden, and it was nice to talk in English for a little while, plus my area was his last area, so it was good to talk about the area too.

But yeah, the Zone Leaders there in Porto Velho, Elder Bateman and Robinson (or as everyone calls them Batman and Robin) had rides to pick us up and take us to their apartment. we only had 3 extra beds for 6 elders, but I shared a bed with Elder Chime from Equidor (one of the other Elders in Cacoal in my district) and I didnt sleep super well but got a little sleep. But the thing that was worse about it all was that we didnt eat well that day at all. haha Just snacking all day.

But Wednesday we woke up and had plenty of time to study, and prepare for the day, and then we went and bought lunch, and headed to the chapel for the conference. President Castro was there with his wife as well as Elder Aidukaitis with about 25 of us missionaries here in the state of Rondonia. It was such a good conference. The thing was that I understood it all. Last Zone Conference was good but I didnt really understand everything, but when Elder Aidukatis spoke I understood almost every word! He is very annimated but very bold. He is really funny and had a laugh like a clown. haha

He talked to us about some things that our mission can do better. I want to share everything he said but one of the things he said was in the first lesson have the host of the family say the closing prayer, kneeling. It was something that I had not really ever done, but he spoke so pasionately about it. He took about 30 to practice it with us too. After some Elders practiced extending this invitation to Him, as he acted as the investigator, we all gave feed back and learned from it all lot. But then he asked for 2 other Elders to come up front to be the investigators and he would be the missionary to show us how it can be done, I stood up when he asked for a volenteer and my companion came with me. We sat down in the 2 chairs next to him and then he began by explaining to not be really difficult but still be like any of your investigators would be, and then said, "But remember, I am a General Authority!" hahahaha It gave everyone a good laugh. But then he began the role play. He began by imediately going down on his knees, and pleaded us to join him in a pleasent but direct way. And then explained that I as the head of the house would say the closing prayer, and then asked how I normally start my prayers....I responded "Dear God, or Lord." He responded with encouragement that it was perfect, and simply asked what else I include in my prayers,...I said"like things I am thankful for" again gave encouragement and then said "and then just closed with AMEN. Perfect, you can lead us in prayer." He then closed his eyes and bowed his head and waited for me to start. It was so simple, but so sincere and full of confidence. He showed us this way, because so many investigators dont want to pray, especially the first time, but doing it this way it give them so much confidence, and they pray how they are comfortable. He then explained afterwards, that obviously this is not a perfect prayer, but that God will hear it. And that we are to teach line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. As they learn more we can help them pray with more exactness but always giving them what they can handle at that specific time. It was a great training. And it was so cool to sit in front of a General Authority and practice sharing the gospel with him as he looked me right in the eyes. He truely teaches with great power. It was really great.

 It sure has helped us too! We have already tried it twice and last night we did it with a family with a man that is way inactive and his family who arent members. He hant been to church or read from the book of mormon for a loongggg time. After reading in the BOM with him and his family. My companion invited him to say the prayer to close, and he refused, he said one of us would that he couldnt. But we just did what Elder Aidukaitis said to do. Imediately after he said that, I asked them to join us by kneeling, and then explained to this brother that he knows the needs of his family and he can ask for that help through prayer, and then asked him how he starts his prayers he said "Pai Celestial" and I said, "that is perfect, what do you say afterwards?" He described a few things he sometimes asks and then I concurred and explained it is really just speaking your thoughts and feelings to him and then just close with Amen, And then I invited him to pray again, and bowed my head and closed my eyes along with my companion, and just as we knew he would, he began to pray. He gave a beautiful prayer, asking for The Father to help his family be better at living his commandments, and studying the scirptures. It was so cool!

Elder Aidukaitis gave us many other cool stories from his mission and when we was serving as mission president as well. As of which was so great! My companion and I a few days ago made a list of all the comittments he had us make there and made plans to how we would complete them. I had a lot of other goals too from other things he said that I want to continue to impliment into my missionary work!

But yeah it ended about 5:00 so we went back to the zone leaders apartment and packed up and we all got rides to the bus station but it was pretty early. We had to wait there for like 4 and 1/2 hours. But I went with a few other elders and got ice cream and subway, we couldnt find the subway and it was raining a lot so everyone went back but I was determinded to find the subway so my comp was great and came with me and it was literally like just another 2 minutes walk from the ice cream station we all ate at. haha So yeah, I had been craving subway a lot and it had been quite some time since I had a sub sandwich! I will attach a picture! (pictures are working today!) The other 2 pictures are from walking to the ice cream place and I saw this grill resturant called "Texas Grill" and I was like, "I need a picture with that!" haha The other White boy with me and my companion is the other American I was talking to on the Bus, Elder Bearden.

Then we traveled all night from 10:30 pm until 10 am the next day, Thursday, then we walked back to our apartment on the other side of town and then showered and got ready for the day. And then we finally had a really meal for lunch! I love that we have lunch in the members homes every day! It is such a blessing! Especially when i hadnt really eaten much for the previous 3 days. haha But

So yeah, it was a great trip, but like I said it took a lot out of our week! We are still working with Nealton, but Satan doesnt want us to talk to his mom, we have been trying to talk to her all week and she is never there! But Nealton is still reading and praying and still wants to be baptized! So I am still excited for him. Wendy has been sick so we havent been able to follow up with her this week either, but its not looking good for her. She still lacks the desire to change. Its sad, but all we can do is keep trying and pray. But this week will be a good week of work for us.

President Castro is coming to our area to hold a conference for the members here in Vilhena. They are so far away that they dont get much attention for other leadership. But this will be really good for them. But yeah, we will also get to have our interviews with him while he is here. I am excited for that!

But yeah, thats all I have for yall today! But I am so grateful for the experiences I am having here, and the great oppertunity it is to be enstructed by so many leaders in this church! I know that we are truely led by a true prophet today that can literally talk with our Heavenly Father and his general authorities are called of God as well! Elder Aidukaitis's testimony of President Thomas S. Monson and this church was so powerful. I too know it is true, and am so blessed to be a part of it!

I sure love you all, and hope yall have a good week! :)

-Elder Swalberg

And 2 more pictures of the little b-day party we had for Elder Carmargos on his birthday in their apartment. haha 

They are fun Elders!

 These photos are of our chapel, and me trying a fruit native to brazil called Jackfruit, in english I think but everyone here calls it Jaka. I dont really like it, it has a really strong smell, and the texture is just really slimy. but there are different kinds of jaka, this one was the softer kind. But anyway a little taste of brazil! haha 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday, November 17th

Hey yall!

Another week, and we have had some great things happen, but at the same time I have been made more aware of how much Satan is working, especially on our investigators.

I cant remember if I talked about one of our investigators this last week, Wendy. But she is 14 years old, and has known the church for almost 5 years, and goes to church and seminary, except when she is lazy,...but really she has been taught a bunch by missionaries. And still hasnt been baptized. We have been teaching her with her older sister Breyla (17 years) who has been a member for more than 4 years. Before I got here, my comp said they really didnt teach her, only for the lesson. But there was something that was stopping her from being baptized I wanted to know what it was. So starting last week, we started meeting with her. I really didnt know where to start and neither did my companion. So I just started asking questions of what she already understood and thought of the things she learned from missionaries, church, seminary.....and I really focused on the Book of Mormon, because we all know it is the center of all conversion in this church. We found out that she is scared of baptism and in turn we think she is scared to REALLY pray, cause she knows she will get an answer. We had such a spiritual first lesson with her, and Elder Neyra shared his conversion story with her too. It was so powerful, And so was the second lesson! She hadn't gotten an answer yet, but the second lesson, after a series of questions she answered that she believed that the BOM is true, Joesph Smith was a prophet, and that this church has the proper authority to baptize and to perform all the saving ordenances that we need here in this life. But yet she said she is more "comfortable" in her other church. Thats it! Thats all thats freaking keeping her from wanting to be baptized in the true church of Christ! Yeah, you could say the Devil is working on this poor girl. The whole branch knows her, and knows of her good heart. She is so sweet and her 2 other sisters who are members are such good examples too. But other than our Heavenly Father, Satan knows of her good better than anyone! He knows how much of a strength she will be when she is  a member of this church and he is doing everything to stop it. During our lessons my companion and I have born out our heart of how sure we are that this is the true church and that Heavenly Father with answer her prayers. I started crying like 2 times during that second lesson. The spirt was so strong. And Breyla is always such a huge help, especially getting her to commit to things. But still she hasnt been to church in 2 weeks and we went back last night to bring by some brownies that I made for them, and tried to mark another day to meet and it seemed she didnt really want to. We arent giving up on her, but we will give her a little space. But she just needs a lot of prayers!

We have another investigator we are working with Nealton. He is 17 years old, and he is a cousin of 2 young men in the branch. And he has gone to church a few times already, and he really showed a lot of interest last week as we had lunch with him at Viviana and Eliezer's house. with all the youth. He has made good friends with another young man in the branch, Emerson. We got to teach him the fist lesson at Emerson's house. It was really good. And he came to church this sunday too. After church we talked with him some more at his house, and marked a day for baptism. But the mom might be some trouble. She goes to another church. We told him, we need her authorization for him to be baptized. So we had an appointment this morning to talk with her, but she wasnt  home when he said she would be. Sadly the next time we can meet with them both is Friday, becauase we are traveling tomorrow through Thursday, for a conference. (I will explain more about this next week...all of the missionaries in Rondonia will meet in Porta Velho for the conference....24 hours of traveling by bus in total for us here in Vilhena! ;p crazy right?! Just for a meeting!) So yeah that kind of sucks, but I still think he will be baptized. We are excited for him. He is a great young man!

This week we had our district meeting. We didnt reach our goal of 30 new investigators, but it was close, so I still made a little desert that I learned how to make last week, and we ate it after district meeting. But yeah, this week we talked of the power of the message of the restoration, and how strong the spirit can be when we teach this first lesson, and the great oppeertunity that we have to mark a baptismal date in the first lesson! So this week we are working on baptismal dates. We didnt have any at the begining of the week, but now we have 2!

We also had exchanges this week. I went to the other Elders area with Elder Fericim and it was a little rough, because they really didnt have anything planned. But we did a lot of finding, and ending finding a sweet family, with 3 older teen boys. The mother, was really really sweet, and I hope that it works for them to continue teaching them. But Elder Fericim really does teach well. They just lack the investigators that can really progress. they have a lot of families , but almost all of the parents arent married. That is such a huge problem here! I dont even know why! So many, I think, are just lazy. Its not even that expensive for them. Its really just another thing that Satan uses to keep so many people from joining this church. He is consistantly degrading the image and importance of marriage. But it was still really good to get to know the other Elders area to know how I can better help them.

In our branch we had 76 people at sacrament meeting! And I think we even had more during the first hour, because sacrament meeting is last in this branch! It was really cool! Part of it was because the son of our branch president, President Rui, returned home from his mission this week! He was serving in Salvador, Brazil. He is really cool. We had lunch at their house the day after he got home, and he was talking to us about how weird it is not to have a name tag, and stuff like that! haha. Its really going to be so weird to return home. Its really only 6 months away now! But I am hoping that if he stays around here, that he will be our branch mission leader, because right now we dont have one right now.

But yeah, this week will be way good, with zone conference, with a general authority of the seventy, and a bunch of appointments already set for the days we will be getting back. It should be a really exciting week. we will be sleeping at the other Elders house tonight and then get on our bus at 7 in the morning tomorrow.

I know when I see Satan at work around me, I am doing something right. I know these people are such special souls and I am so glad to be here, so far from my home, just to help them! What a privalege it is to be the Lords servent here.

Thank you so much for all your support.

I love yall so much!

-ELder Swalberg

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Well its already been another week, and I cant believe it! I don't really know what to say about this week. haha Like I said last week I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and really try to do everything I could to find more investigators and find some people that really would be able to progress. And I really had been studying a lot about this and really praying for help. I also gave a training on finding from chapter 9 of PMG for district meeting. We came up with methods of finding that have worked best for each of us. And we made a goal to find 30 new investigators, 15 in each area. we are a couple days away from our week long goal, and we still need to find 15 more as a district. But I have faith we can do it! We had some crazy miracles happen that same day we made that goal actually. 

We found a lady, Rosilleni, at the old lady, Allysi's house. She was way solid and said she would read and pray, and accepted a soft baptismal invitation too. Then we were just walking down the street and this lady comes out of a store and chased us down because it looked like she was hesitating to talk to us or not. But she chased us down saying, "Wait are yall with the mormon church?" (I dont really think they have the word "yall" in Portuguese but thats how Im choosing to remember what she said) And we were like "yeah!" She then discribed that practically all of her family is a member of the church but they are from São Paulo, and she moved into town pretty recently and she promissed her family she would visit the church to see what its like. She said she couldnt this sunday and that she was busy all week until next Sunday. So we werent able to set anything up, but we got her number and she said we could come by next week. So I am excited about that too. There were other mircale too that we received as we looked for more people to teach, and really put ourselves out there. 

The sad thing is we can't control everthing. A lot of our miracles had some sad endings already, most of which happened on Saturday. Rosilleni, we visited her again and we walked way to the end of our area, about a 40 minute walk to teach her. It was another great lesson, but we came at an hour when her husband would be home. But he didnt want to sit in. So at the end of the lesson we comitted her to be baptized in about 2 weeks. And she said she knows she wants to, but needs to feel worthy first and one is to get married first...WHAT?! She caught us by surprise because she referred to her husband in muitilpe instances like they were already married. So obviously that was fine, and we said that marrage is a great first step to baptism. Then still happy, yet a little disapointed at the new challenge ahead, the husband came out after we left and step out the gate and called out saying they know where our church is so we dont have to come back there. wasnt in a rude way, but esentially he told us not to come back. that point I knew, even though she said she would, that Rosilleni would not be at church the next day. Which turned out to be true. 

Then another family we found and were really excited to get to know better werent home at the appointed time....luckily we found the 2 kids in the street getting ice cream later that day and talked to them really quick, but they said they could come to church either, And didn't know when we could come by again. So we will just have to try again this week. But this kind of thing happened all day Saturday, even our apointment with a member giving us dinner that night fell through when we showed up, she had forgot and was really busy. It was just a rough day, and it was followed up by Sacrament meeting with only 1 investigator and he had to leave the last hour too....and he only came because we went to his house and woke him up. We had made plans for 4 other investigators to come to church and the members that were to have taken them either forgot, woke up late and didnt have time, or the investigator wasn't ready in time. Yeah...and then it rained all day! hahaha It was rough on numbers and spirits. Its just really hard when you try so hard, put yourself out of your comfort zone talking with poeple that you can't even fully understand and still end up falling on your butt, and not seeing the results you wanted to see. 

But the important part is this...I still have 4 more weeks here. And I am not giving up, if anything, Im going to just try to do more until I start to see this area change. And always remembering that I can't control everything.

We still had fun things happen this week, even with these challenges. Elder Carmargos, one of the other Elders in Vilhena, had his 20th birthday and I made brownies and we went over there to their apt. during our dinner hour and had a good time. eating and playing Uno! I have pictures, but this computer is not allowing me to attach pictures. These computer houses here in Brazil often have weird restrictions that make it really hard to upload photos. But I will try next week. 

And Also Sunday I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting. Between district meeting and church I am getting a lot of practice at giving talks in Portuguese. Often times we teach the youth when the teacher is gone, and gospel principles. So yeah, that is good practice for me for sure. We also have a younger couple that are way cool Viviana and Eliezer. Eliezer is a recent convert of a little over a year, and she was inactive for a while until he was baptized. But they were married a few years ago, but this january will be sealed in the temple. They are pretty excited. They had us and all of the youth over for lunch after church yesterday. It was a lot of fun, and great to get to know the youth better. They like to have me say difficult words in Portuguese or tounge twisters in portuguese, like "sally sells sea shells by the sea shore". One of them was recording me try. It was pretty funny. But I only know it was funny because I had them try to say "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". And that was pretty funny! haha

But yeah, I know things are only rough because my father in heaven wants me to grow and learn something. And he still continually blesses me with many great things. I am so greatfull for his strength and comfort. 

Thank you all for you strength and comfort as well. 
Love yall! 

-Elder Swalberg

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Wow, so I have a lot ot talk about. Like I said in my last email, I am in Vilhena, Rondonia. It is literally a whole different world comparied to where I was in Manaus! 

To start off, the weather! I can honestly say, I didn't sweat for the first time I have been here in the Brazil Manaus mission! We were walking around normally like any other day, but it was all cloud cover and was sooo nice. All the members of our branch said they were cold. Like we were at a brothers house last night and normally the men dont wear shirts when they are at the house. But last night he went inside and came back out with a turtle neck shirt on! haha It was so funny! But I was just in heaven. It was like a beautiful Fall day in Texas. I have loved it here for is climate alone! But dont get me wrong this is their warmer season, so it does get hot. yesterday was a strange day. But our days still dont compare anything to what it is like in Manaus! 

The hills no longer exist! Here its just flat, just like Texas. Its been wonderful. At this point I dont care how far we have to walk because its normally nice outside and always flat. So different than my other area. I am so grateful for that! Although it does rain like everyday just after lunch. Almost without fail. But everyone here knows it just happens like this every year starting about this time until like March or april. But we bought some umprellas the other day to always keep with us, so the rain won't slow down our working hours. 

But the branch here is great! We dont have near the size of our last branch in Cidade do Leste (but like ive said that branch should be ward). Normally they have about 40 poeple in sacrament meeting. There are some good families and have a great branch president that has a daughter out on a mission right now, who will be coming home soon. We had a Holloween Party on the 30th at the church building. Halloween isnt really celebrated here, really its like everyone knows about it but only some people put on parties for it. So itsnt not like the states at all. But they decorated a room all up and they all dressed up, and had a little dance thing with sweets and snacks. we just passed by, but ended up getting to meet with the Branch President about some less actives we could pass by. It was a great little meeting we had with him. But another interesting thing here is the chapel is a lot smaller here. I did take a picture of the last chapel we had and will attach it to this email, and once I get new batteries for my camera I will take a picture of the chapel here. Its really like a side market/building with a bunch of deviders to make all of the rooms. But its a chapel nonetheless! haha We still get Almoço (lunch) everyday from the members and its great here too! We are so blessed by the members here in this mission! 

My comp has been great to work with. He knows less Portuguese than I thought, so its kind of harder than it was with Elder Aroaz.But Elder Neyra understands really well, so that is a huge blessing in our teaching and working with the members. But the hard part is the small talk for me. Especially cause he isnt really good at it either. Small talk and getting to know people for the first time, is like one of the greatest missionary skills every. Because its what gains trust and comfort of the person you are talking with. It was so easy to do in English, but has been one of my weaknesses here trying to do it Portuguese. But I guess its the lord giving me an opertunity to practice because my comp cant do it all himself. haha

But he is from a city a few hours south of Lima, in Peru. He is a convert of like 7 years. He joined the church at 14 when missionaries were looking for his less active grandmother who had been a member for quite some time andjust didnt go to church anymore. But he was the only one home when the missionaries were looking for her, and he said 2 weeks later he was baptized. He was not active for a long while but just last year (2013) he started coming back and his Bishop helped him get out on a mission. He is definately greatful for being out here. He is 21, and this is his 4th transfer. So he was trained, and then had last transfer here inthis area, and now with me. So he is pretty new. But its been good cause he is really humble. And I have been able to finally have someone to plan and study with again. Its been nice. 

But this area, has been struggling. It has only had 1 baptism in the last 2 transfers here. Only 1. Thats about what I was doing in my other mission, but the people here are so much more receptive, so that is really low! They slacked off a lot, and my comp said he couldnt really do much about it. But we really worked hard this week to do out best. I still think we can really improve, but we really didn't have more than 3 or 4 people in our teaching pool when I got here, and all of them have a stubbling block that they can't get over yet. So I have been really thinking of how we could change this area, and my thoughts have been brought back to the many hours of studying and discussing this same topic of how to find those who are prepared, in my other mission. And I was really getting the grove down of talking to everyone and seeing great results from it. And in my studies today I was really trying to understand how I can best apply what I learned there to this area here. Because despite my efforts to work really hard last week, we still dont have any baptismal dates, and our member lessons weren't that great either. ANd I want that to change more than anything. So I am going to try so hard to apply eveything that I found successful so far to this area. It is sure going to put me out of my comfort zone, but I want this more than staying comfortable. 

I will share one like miracle that I saw this week. we were walking around town on main street and it has this section in the middle of the road with a sidewalk and what not for poeple walk and ride there bikes and stay out of the road. Well we werent really doning anything and just decided to go to one of our appoinments a little early. But then we past this women carrying groceries and it seemed kind of heavy for her. I kept walking thinking that she wouldn't understand me and not accept our help. But the thought was still in my head,...and i couldnt let it go. I slowed down but kept walking, trying to think of how to say what I wanted to say in Portuguese. And then my comp noticed I was slowing down and turned around to ask me something but I then just said to him, "We need to help that lady" and I turned around to then see her bending over with the bags on the ground trying to readjust them as they were obviously too heavy for her. I went up to here and said "Exuse me, but we are Missionaries, and we aren't doing anything right now, can we please help you?" She looked suprised and hesitated at our offer to walk all the way to here home with her. But she complied and was just so grateful, and said "God is just always looking out for us, you two are such a blessing." We ended up meeting her brother who she introduced us too, and his family, and said a little prayer for him as he had broken his leg pretty badly recently. And said we could come back and so did the lady we helped. Her name is Allysi (I think thats how its spelled). But yeah, I don't know how promising those people will be as investigators, but one thing I do know. That was certainly a prompting from the Holy Ghost to stop and help that women. I am so grateful the spirit was consistant on working on me, because I know I would have regreted it later. I always think of President Monson when I think of acting on Promptings of the spirit. He is always so quick to respond, and never ignores promptings and thats how I want to be. 

In preach My Gospel is says in the begining of Chapter 4 "You will succeed in your work as you learn to receive and follow personal revelation".. I know that this applies not just to missionary work but to every phase of life. We can be successful at anything if we but learn how to receive and follow the subtle promptings of the holy ghost from our Heavenly Father strait to us. What a gift it is when we get to be an instrument in the lords hands. 

I know I still have much to learn for the Lord to trust me with more promptings, but I challenge each of you, as I too try, to continue to look for who the Lord has put in your path to touch. Its easy when we can obviously see they need help, its when we cant see it that we know we have know the spirits voice!

I look forward to working hard again this week, and thank you for your support and love! 

Love yall! 
-Elder Swalberg  

2 of these pictures are of our chapel from the front in my last area. It really was big chapel. 

the other picture is of Raquel, the young women who we were working with who's dad wouldn't let her be baptized yet. But She will be once she is 18 she said! This was the Sunday evening before I left my last area. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday, Oct 28th, 2014

Hey yall, So I was transfered, and I just got into my new area here in Vilhena 2 at like 5 in the morning. I had a 1 hour plane ride, and then a 12 hour bus ride to get here! It was crazy, but it looks like a great area. I am here with my new companion Elder Neyra. He is from Peru. He has been out like 6 months I think. But he speaks pretty well. I am here as District Leader. Our district has 3 companionships of Elders. 1 companionship live here close by, they are Vilhena 1, but the other companionship is like waaaaayyyyy far away. But for some reason they are in our district. There are a lot of areas like this that just dont go to district meeting, just zone conference. haha So I will just have 4 in our district meeting. It will be weird, but good to start off. I know I was telling you,Mom and Dad, yesterday in a email that I didnt know how my district would accept me, but they were really cool. The other 3 Elders (including my comp) picked me up this morning, and made lunch there at their house and we had a good time! One is from Argentina, and the other is from here in Brazil. This will be a good experience for me for sure. I still dont speak really well, but not have 3 other Elders in the house who speak English will definately help me learn faster. haha 

Our house is soooooooo much better! Its like 2 times bigger, we actually have real windows, we have newer things, we have a kitchen that will actually work, and a table to even eat on! Our room doesnt have air conditioning, but we have fans, and here its not neeear as hot as Manaus! Becuase we are in a totally different state of Brazil, Rondonia. So our house isnt that hot. I feel like we upgraded like a LOT when I arrived in our house! So yeah, I am pretty happy about that. 

Our Branch here is called Vilhena 3. But the attendance is a lot less than my last branch. We had over 110 every week in my last branch in Cidade Do Leste, but here we had like 37 people attend last week. My comp said its been decresing a lot in the last transfer it had like 65 but yeah, I think this transfer has been really hard on this area. My comp said they didnt have any baptisms last transfer. So I dont know what the problem was but I am ready to hit the pavement and get to work on this area. I want it to really grow this transfer. I know the Lord will help me know what I need to do to make this branch grow, and find the people that are ready for baptism! 

My companion only knows President Castro and so I can already tell he is more humble and is willing to do things the right way. I havent been able to do companionship study or weekly planning with my companion for the last 6 weeeks. My companion didnt want to do it with me. So I did as much as I could alone. like the area book and planning, I had to do alone. But I feel like this transfer will be different and I will be able to have a lot of help from my companion. 

So anyway, I am excited to see what this week will be like. I will be able to tell yall how it goes next Tuesday! Thanks for all the prayers of support. I know they are answered in my behalf! I am so grateful for them! 

I love you all, 

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Oi Tudo Mundo! 

Well hey, this week had been alright. It sure has been tiring though. This heat and hills everyday sure take it out of ya. Those missionaries in the states sure are lucky to have those amazing cars. I didn`t understand how good I had it up there in NHMM. haha But its all good. When I come home socking wet in sweat and my face is all red, I makes me feel like i worked really hard! haha But yeah, we didn`t have any big meetings or anything this week, so we just had some good time for finding and teaching. Our member lessons were pretty low this week, I still haven`t really learned how the best way to work with the members here, because our appointments fall soooooo often. People here just don`t remember, and its really frustrating because I have a hard time inviting members to work with us if we our appointment just falls through. But they really do help us with giving us refferals so I usually try to set up a time that they can come with us, for 2 reasons: to have a member lesson, and finding addresses here is rediculous! haha You have to be really lucky. The streets are crazy and way unorganized. So yeah, its great when we have a member with us! haha 

But we have been working with Fernanda and her family but we still dont have permission from their parents yet to baptize them. They still want to, but Fernanda needs to talk to her dad again she said she would, but I still think she hasn`t. But her dad came with one of our members (Wiener) to the Activity at the church to play soccer, and got to show him the church and everything (I think that was this week...if I said this last week...Im sorry....all the days are mixing together). And then he came by himself with his Fernanda`s uncle to play on Thursday too! IT was so great to see them come by themself. I think they are getting a lot more comfortable, its just going to be the mom that we need to work on. But I think if the Dad comes to church once with his kids he will like it and let them be baptized! We are really hoping it happens this week though, because Elder Fuhriman leaves in one week for home. He really wants to have them baptized because we have been working with them all of this transfer, and they have been ready for baptism for a while now. Its so hard to have to see them wait, especially when they are going to be moving soon! But it will be up to the Lord on this one, we will just do everything we can. 

We have also been helping another young women, Raquel. She is almost 17 and we tried teaching her whole family, but they didnt really show much interest and Raquel was the only one who has come to church with us. She is a lot smarter than the normal Brasilian here in Manaus. you dont find very many like this. She really understands what we teach, and understands the purpose of why she needs to pray to ask if this is true. We had a great experience this past week with her. She explained to us that she had received her answer. She said last week at church it felt way different than her other church. She said it was different, but felt really good. She also tried to explain how she felt when we come to visit, she says she just feels better when we come by, and then expalined that its like she knew us before, but wasnt sure how to explain it. Like we were her brothers was the closest thing she could say it. But yeah, it was really cool to here that she had received an answer through her feelings at church. She knows everything is true she said....but let me tell you the sad news again...her dad wont let her be baptized. I know the parents again. Her dad is set in this other church, and she also is afraid to go against anything her dad says. So yeah, she doesn`t really want to talk to him more about it. But she said, "I promise I will become a Mormon when I am 18" so in like one year. But she has friend here at the church already, and Elder Fuhriman will help her by keeping in contact through facebook with her because he will be home in one week. I really wish she could be baptized too, but its all in the Lords timing. 

But we have also been trying to find as we go from apointment to apointment, and have found some families that we havent met with a second time yet, but we really think will be promissing! Especially those we have found with a list of people our Branch President gave us. It is a list of Lost Members in the branch that no one knows but they had found a new address or number for them, and he gave us this list to try and find them as well to try and get refferals too. Well we have contacted 2 and one was baptized 14 years ago when she was 14 years old, and so doest remember anything and now has a family that we want to teach. She is also willing to come to church. Then another women, we tried didnt end up living there but her step daughter lived there and is married and has 2 younger kids. And so we have an appointment with her and her husband tomorrow to talk more about the church, because they dont really know a whole lot about it, only of it from her step mom. But yeah, it was really great to find these families through this list. Trying to find these people reminds me so much of my work in the states with "owning our ward lists" and really trying to clean them up, and find those lost souls! I am so excited to see if we can find these other people too and find some more families.

Our Mission President, Castro, really is enforcing finding families and men in our mission. Because it is through families and men who can hold the preisthood that the wards and branches here will grow. This is what will really help the church grow here in Brazil! I know my mission president has been called of God through our living day prophet. He is directing this mission not as he thinks it should go, but as the Lord wants it to go. The principles he is trying to beet into the heads of us missionaries here and especially those who had President Kline is the same principles that I learned in my other mission. The mission field has the same standards and spirit where ever you are. Some missionaries here say we dont have to do certain rules because its the Manaus Mission and its just different than others. But what President Castro is helping them see is that the rules don't change, nor the standards for missionaries. The culture and language, and people might be different but this is no exuse for disregaurding rules of the mission. That will always be the same. 

I am getting a little nervous for transfers this next week. We will get a call on Sunday....I have gotten along with Elder Fuhriman pretty well, even though its challenged me, but I really am scared of being placed with my one the Elders here, Elder Glese, the brazillian. He is really disobedient...but with my own companion we haven't needed to be a part of it, but it would really kill me if I was with him all the time,...but more likely he would kill me because he knows I will keep the rules, and it will annoy him to high waters for sure. :/ 

But yeah, just keep me in yalls prayers for this next transfer. I know it will be the Lords will whatever it is, I just want it to be able to work out right so that I can continue to work hard and not have to waste my time. This next transfer will seriously be interesting.(because btw, this whole spliting our area without any instruction and being in the same branch has never really happened here before, according to comp that has been here for 2 years now.) So yeah, I dont really know if 2 companionships will stay here or I will just get a new companion.

Well, until transfers, I look forward to trying to work my hardest and hopefully have a baptism this week! 

I love you all! 
-Elder Swalberg

And this is the one picture I have for this week. This is in the court behind our church building. It is normal used for soccer but has basket ball hoops too. Its like totally enclosed.( I forgot to take pictures of the rest to show it better and of the chapel, but I will try to do that this next week.) We called up a couple youth from the Branch and played soccer this morning at the church with them. It was pretty fun! The boy we are holding up is the son of our branch president! haha 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday , October 13th, 2014

Hey Yall! 

So this week was better than last week, but continues to challange everything in me as the heat never seces There were some really great things that happened this week though! 

To start off, we had Zone Meeting. It was surely different than NH, Manchester Mission Zone Meetings...but yeah, whats new there. haha It was good though. The main theme was obedience. The Zone leaders and the Sister Taining leaders were giving the majority of the training that came from MLC that they had with President Castro. He really only talked about obedience and the proper manner of baptism. President Castro is really laying down the law here on obedience. I have seriously heard of so many Missionaries that are in this mission that are worse obedience wise than my companions (and I only can pray I dont get placed with them). So President has really had his hands full with trying to fix up this mission with its obedience problems and many other things that have gone untreated. I sure feel for him. I feel like he has a big clean up job to do here, and its really going to be hard to clean up, especially when it comes to changing the missionaries! But it was a good training and I know my comps understand that this is only what i have been trying to do the whole time! But do I think they will change haha My companion is about to go home, and he is better than the other 2 so he has already said he has no desire to change anymore. And the other 2 are going to be a hard case to crack but I have already seen small changes in them that signify that are starting to accept the philosophy of our new mission president, not President Klien.

Then we also got to go to the temple after the meeting with our district! It was so great to be there again. My companion comented...after we got home and it was all loud and crazy again like it normally always is...``Ah, the temple was so nice to just have 3 hours of peace and could actually think clearly.`` How true was that comment! It was so nice, and I had a wonderful time and especially because the new film that I saw for the first time in the Boston Temple is now translated into Portuguese and it was showen here. It was great to receive new insites from it this time around! What a spiritual blast it was! haha

So a little bit about the people we are working with right now. Fernanda and Felix both want to be baptized but the parents are home now, and they don't really know our church very well yet and have another church that they attend. So we stopped by multiple times and Fernanda said she thought about baptism and said she wont do it. (the dad was in this conversation) But afterwards Fernanda was able to say to us quickly before we left without her parents hearing that she wants to be baptized still, but her parents won't let her. Aghhh! How frustrating! So anyway we brought a couple in our branch to come and meet them and they are really cool, and help us out a lot. They talked with them and became friends with them quickly, and perposed to have a family night on Friday. So thats what we did! I bought stuff for a cake and VIviana and Weiner (the member couple) made 2 cakes. My comp wanted me to share the message. Here for some reason the smaller lessons or messages with members only one missionary shares the message not together like I have always done with my comps in the states. But its all good, I was happy to share a message. I shared a message on the passage Moroni 10.4-5 and the promise contained that we can receive an answer about not just the book of mormon but ANYTHING....IF we do 3 things...have a sincere heart...have real intent...and faith in Christ. And just talked about each one and what each required. I promised that just as Fernanda came to know this church is true, they can to through this method. Then Viviana bore such a powerful testimony of this church and it was such a humble testimony, as it was coming from someone who didn't even have the money to pay for the cake they made,(hence I bought the stuff). These members dont have much, but what they do have is a strong testimony of this gospel! The spirit was so strong as she bore her witness of how this gospel blesses families and how it has already blessd hers growing up and now with her own family! It was really incredible! And then we had cake and drank Guarana! haha It was really great. They all committed to come to church, but the parents and the Grandmother all backed out sunday morning. We had made plans to do splits and everything to have one of us walk with them and Weiner while the other went to walk with other investigators. We did the splits but like I said they didnt come to church as we hoped. But they still are letting Fernanda and Felix come to church, which is good. But we are going to have to continue to wait for the permission before they can be baptized. But they will be, I know it. The members are really helping with this family! 

The other young boy, Andre, was baptized after church yesterday. He lives with his mother (on the far right) and with his grandpa Antonio (standing to the left of me). Antonio is a Patriarch and is a little crazy, but very wise! It was cool to just walk into his home the couple times we taught Andre there and just felt the spirit there! It was a great baptism, and was glad to be involved with his baptism! 

We are working with some young women right now too, that will hopefully be coming close to baptism soon too. We found a lot of new investigators too that will hopefully work out to be promising also! So I am excited to have this next week ahead of me! We also have found some less actives that havent been to church in a while but are really cool. So we will be trying work with them this week too. 

I really hope this week pans out well. I really tried hard to plan better even when my comp wasnt very excited to do it. But it becoming normal again for him to do it. I know with so much certainty of the blessing of planning. I hope we will start to see those blessing here in this next week! 

And one last thing. So this area is really close the "meeting of the waters" of the Black River (Rio Negro) and the Amazon River. So here in the Manaus Mission boats are used all the time by missionaries for transfers, going to member meals (like in our area) and to get to other cities that are in your area sometimes. So they are approved to use in our mission. So there is a ferry boat that takes people and cars across the large river for free. So today we took a bus just about 20 minutes away and took the boat across the river and back. It took 1 full hour to get from one side to the other! It is soooo huge! But it passes right over the meeting of the waters! It was so cool! We took lots of pictures and videos. It was rainy kind of all day, which was good tempeture wise but the pictures of the meeting of the waters arent as clear as they would be in the sun! But hey it was still sooooo cool! As we crossed the river we even saw dolphins! Some of the elders got some pictures but they were hard to catch coming up. But needless to say it was a fun adventure and something that is a once in a life time! haha Well Hope yall enjoy the pictures and the update this week! 

Amazon River ----- Rio Negro! 

Me- Elder Gardner- Elder Furhiman (my comp) -Elder Glese

I sure appreciate all the prayers and support from each of you! It truely makes all the difference! 

Love yall!

-Elder Swalberg