Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014


Well sadly Martin Luther King Jr. made it so that we could not check our emails last week. Its okay though...I still respect the man...just holidays aren't always a missionaries favorite days when it lands on a P-day. haha 

So although it was a sort of boring P-day we got to have FHE with the Doray family (Chrissy, Brother Doray, Andie, and the youngest boy Terry). We did a FHE lesson on the plan of salvation. And we used a string to represent eternity and used a glow stick I got for Christmas to represent out spirit and put it on the string and moved it along the string as we went through teaching the plan of salvation. Andie and Terry loved it! haha It was a simple object lesson, but thats all it takes sometimes for them to get more involved and excited about learning about the gospel. Then we got to do exchanges with the Zone Leaders! One of our new Zone Leaders is Elder Pritchet who was my Zone Leader when I was back in New Hampshire/Vermont! He had been on an exchange just 2 weeks earlier in MY FIRST AREA! I asked about Troy immediately and he said he is doing well and that he thinks he ended up getting to go to the temple. Ah I was so jealous of him being there! I miss those people there so badly! But Damariscotta was one of his first areas (about 11/2 years ago)! So we got to see a lot of our recent converts (Norm and Lisa and James) who he was teaching while he was here! It was so cool for him to see them! I had him go through the Branch Directory to help identify some of the Less actives that we didn't know yet and it helped a lot! He gave us referrals to specific people he thought would be ready at this point to revisit and more! It was such a blessing to have him there that day! 

We got to meet with our new district on Wednesday in Augusta Maine. The Augusta ward has elders and sisters as well and we also have the Gardiner Elders in our district as well. And they are a trio so we now have 11 missionaries in our district! How crazy?! We even had our Zone leaders there on Wednesday so we had 13 missionaries at our district meeting! It more like a mini Zone Meeting! It will be fun though. The sisters and us Elders here in Damariscotta are pretty close now, so its going to be kind of hard to open up to so many new missionaries in our district, especially when we had such a close district the last 2 transfers. But we are determined to make it great! 

After district meeting we got to go see Frank! He has been reading the Book of Mormon on and off, but he was one of those who was going to come to church for our Christmas program, but didn't because it got canceled from the snow. Well we read some of the Book of Mormon with him because he asked us a great question of "Why does God allow so much suffering to happen?" and were able to go to Alma chapter 14 and read about Alma and Amulek's experience in watching so many of the believers be thrown into the pit of fire and being constrained by the spirit to not stop it. It not only answered his question but it also allowed us to be able to read with him to help him understand how the Book of Mormon reads and how to understand the language of it better. (that was something he said he was struggling with) And he got really excited by the story that followed about them being put in prison and then the prison falling to the ground and the multitudes being amazed and then believing on their words. He said it was really interesting and that we wanted to read more from "this Alma book" haha. And he committed to church again....but guess what it snowed Saturday night and I think it detered him again. He is an older guy so he doesn't like to have to go out in it if he doesn't have to. So it was sad that he didn't make it but he still is open to us coming over and talking with and teaching him. So thats huge especially because this all just started by offering them some service help! I love Frank so much! I hope he starts to progress here soon! 

We got to have 8 Less Active/ Recent Convert Lessons this week which was way awesome! The typical number out here for those is closer to 4 or 5. Anyway the big miracle there was starting to meet with this man named Richard. He is a less active (30 yrs old) and is trying to come back to church and get his life back together. He invited us for dinner as well as a lesson on Sunday, yesterday. And not only was it an amazing dinner, but had a great lesson and essentially found out that we just need to go through the investigator lessons with him, because he just lacks a lot of the basic gospel knowledge, but has a testimony of it though. So it was cool as we focused on the Atonement and that it is the central part to the Plan of Salvation. He committed to study more about it and he is also wanting to come to our Book of Mormon Class that we starting this Wednesday. So He will benefit a lot from that as well. 

The Book of Mormon Class is going to be a great tool for us to be able to invite less actives and investigators too. I know some members want to be there also! I am really looking forward to having that every week on Wednesday! 

Well I feel like I have a good update written up, but there are still so many other miracles that I still would love to share, but I recognize I can't share them all! But that's the great thing about being on a mission, is that you get to recognize the little miracles and big ones happen everyday! They happen, and are very much real! Look back at you past week and think about how the Lord's hand played a role in your life and then write it down! You will be amazed every time at how much He is involved in our lives! 

I love this gospel, I love this work, and I love my Heavenly Father! I know He is there for me and for each of you! 

And I love all y'all too! :)

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday, November 13, 2014

Well what a week just about sums up the week! It was so cool! So many miracles and cool stuff happening! 

Monday we said goodbye to our car! It had 53,000+ miles on it, which was a very old car for the mission field! We used the sisters car while they drove ours down to Manchester for a meeting they had to go to and they took our new car back to us. We got it on Wednesday, but we didn't get a brand new car, some other sisters in Maine gave up their car and thats the car we got and they got the new car! Its probably a good thing. Elder Dally is a little crazy on the roads so Im secretly happy its an older car (30,000 miles) because I would be stressing out a lot if he was driving the brand new car around. haha Its a 2012 Chevy Malibu. It just like the one I had in my last area! 

Anyway on Tuesday we had a wonderful day with Brother Duffy! We taught Norm, Kathy, and Rob and Misty. The cool part of the night was at Kathy's home. The whole family was there and we watched Between Heaven and Earth with them and it especially talks about the purpose of temples and is just really good at explaining them and helping investigators get an idea of what its like inside as well. Right after it finished, Kathy raised her hand and said, "sign me up!" haha We talked about it some more and she was just so excited to go and do baptisms for her relatives. She has got that spirit of Elijah already! I can't wait for her to go! She also prepared a dinner for her whole family (who got to watch this video as well) and for us and Bro. Duffy. She made a special veggie sauce for my spaghetti because she knows Im vegetarian! She is the sweetest! 

I also went on exchange with Elder Lund. We were here in Damariscotta this time. We had a great time and got to do something pretty special! We got a call that day wondering if we could teach Duty to God to the Young Men that night. We obviously accepted. It ended up just being us 2, brother Duffy, and one young man "Zack Miginus" He is kind of the " I have to look cool type" so he acts like he isnt that interested in church. But when we got him alone and got to open us with us, he turns out to be a really great kid that needs some good role models. He lives with his grandparents (not totally sure why) but he doesn't get that dad figure that he needs. So I think it was really good we got to talk to him without the other young men. 

And there were other cool things that happened but I will have to catch up one those things next week. so I can briefly talk about the baptisms!

Norm and Kathy were baptized on Saturday the 11th! They both were so ready and the program that we held at the church went so well. There was a lot of great support from the Branch. Kathy asked me to baptize her. I was so honored to do so. It was the first time baptizing someone, other than when I baptized for the dead at the temple. So it was so awesome to do it! It went perfectly fine and we finished up the program with another speaker, and 3 sets of missionaries were there including us so we all got a chance to bare our testimonies as well. There was a great spirit there! Then we all took pictures and had refreshments while Norm went home to change into his whites and everyone was ready for him at the Wiscasset Community Center! I was so impressed with how many people came to support him there at the pool. Elder Dally and I both walked in with him, but the pool was perfect because it was a very gradual slope that we was able to just use his walker and go right on in until he got up to his chest. Then Elder Dally said the prayer and he was able to dunk all the way under practically by himself. haha It went under perfectly the first time. And in fact he said, he felt so buoyant that it was harder to go under the water that it was to come up. He felt like we was going to flout away! haha It was so cool to see him make this big step especially when it was such a difficult thing for him to do physically! He went home wet because it was easier to change at his house. so we changed and then went over to his house to talk with him afterwards and he said he really had an enjoyable day, and talked about how surprised he was to see so many people come to see him baptized. He said he has already felt like he is part of the Branch family. I sure hope that continues and he always feels at home here. He is such a nice man, and I have grown to love him so much! They were both confirmed yesterday at church as well and it was so great to see that as well. So much of Kathy's family was still out there to support her at church as well. This is the start of her family all coming into the church I know it! She is going to make it happen too! She is already a great missionary! She talks about the church and us Elders to people all the time! haha 

Anyway here are a few pictures that I have from the baptisms! 

Well this week has been amazing and I also found out that I am staying here in Damariscotta for another 6 weeks! So is Elder Dally my comp. Our district leader Elder Lund is leaving to be a Zone Leader, and Sister Lundhol is also leaving but everyone else from our district is staying! 

Miracles are happening all the time! Its the best!

Love you all!

-Elder Swalberg

Elder Dally,  Kathy,  Elder Swalberg

Kathy,  Elder Swalberg

Elder Dahlberg, Elder Lund, Elder Dally, Elder Swalberg

Norm, Elder Swalberg, Elder Dally

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2013

Hey there! 

Week 5 of the transfer is already over?! I can't believe it! Time goes by so fast! This Saturday we get transfer calls! This transfer is going to really mess up our district! Most of our district has been here 3 or more transfers. So its going to be a sad transfer, but we will just have to wait and see what it will bring! 

But until then, I am loving it here and there are some great things that happened this past week! 

I'm not sure if I mentioned it in last weeks email but last Sunday we met with Kathy after church and had a lesson that Brother Duffy joined us in. She had a concern that she brought up about tithing. She is so willing to give and pay tithing but she already gives a lot of what she makes to her children to help support them. And during the winter her husband is out of a job and so they depend on her makings right now. So she wanted to know what to do, because she still wants to be baptized and to be able to pay tithing. This was a hard question to answer, I simply stated, "I honestly don't know what you should do, BUT what I do know is that your heavenly father wants you to be able to pay your tithing and he will show you how!" I read to her D&C 9:8-9 and talked to her about how to receive an answer requires us to study it out in our minds, pray, and listen. She said she would do that and pray and read the scriptures everyday. 

On Tuesday, we met with her and the first thing she wanted to tell us was "This morning I was driving to work and I got my answer!" We smiled and inquired more, and she continued, "It happened just like you said! I got this burning feeling, and my heart started to beat really hard! It was such a good feeling, I know it was my answer! I didn't think you were lying to me when you told me this, but I just didn't know it would really happen, but now I know!" WOW! So cool! I loved hearing that! We got to share with her another lesson and go over the baptismal questions again, to make sure she was comfortable. She was so ready! haha

 Norm as well we met with a few times. We helped him get his car get registered and get his new plates at the town office for him on Monday. And he got his car back later that day too, which was good! Then on Wednesday we got to see him again, sadly without a member this time. But we still had some good lessons with him. Elder Dally asked him at the end of our lesson, what was the favorite thing that the Elders had taught him in the past? His answer was so great! He said, "Well I dont know of anything specific that I could say that is my favorite but the thing that I got most out of these lessons and that God can talk to me. That I can connect with him as I pray listen to the spirit." How cool, right?! It was really cool to hear that! 

On Thursday we got a voicemail from the assistants saying that there everyone in the mission was to not drive that day! There was a storm that hit us and pretty much everyone else in the mission so they said all cars were grounded. Well that kind of killed all our plans so we decided to make some banana bread, and deliver it to a member that is only about 1 or 2 miles away from our apartment. It had been snowing all day, lightly, but it meant walking in the snow and on our way back we say a sign next to the bank in Damariscotta saying it was -4 degrees! We had walked about 4 miles in that with wind blowin! Yeah...it was cold! This Texas boy was happy to get back into the warm apartment after that walk! haha But we met this interesting guy as we tracted a few doors on our way home. His name is Clayton. At first we met some of his friends. When we knocked on the door a man came out and looked at us asking who we were and Elder Dally said, "Mormon Missionaries" He turns the company in the house and asks, "Are we letting Mormon missionaries in tonight?" They said sure, so he told us to come in! haha So we chatted a minute and then one of the ladies said, you should talk to our friend Clayton down in the basement, he would be interested in talking with you. So just go outside and knock on the door down and around the corner of the house." SO...we did! haha He said come in, and although he had a sailors mouth, he amazed us! We began the conversation of what the difference of THE truth and truths. He had written a book about this. But he said its never going to be finished because he has been adding to it for 50 or so years! He then described how he has essentially been in tune with the spirit since he was 17 years old. He talked about how it feels just like any member of the church would talk about their experiences about feeling the spirit! I told a couple of experiences of others following the promptings of the spirit and the miracles that followed, and he just smiled wide, and said in a soft but excited voice, "I  #$?%!*  love that stuff!" haha Anyway we handed him 2 pamphlets and he said we could come back and talk some more with him sometime. So who knows what will come of it but it sure was an interesting conversation! And now we refer to him as the Swearing Mormon! 

Anyway Lastly, we had 2 baptismal interviews this past Saturday! It was awesome! Kathy and Norm both passed! Elder Lund (our district leader) was very impressed with both of them! And so are we! They have both come a long way and both really desire this! 

The baptism will be next Saturday starting at 2 at the church building. And that is when we will have the program and Kathy's baptism. And then afterwards we will go to the Wiscasset Recreational Center to have Norm's baptism at 4 o'clock. We are so excited for them both and can't wait for the big day. It is so cool that just a few months ago 3 others were baptized and now 2 more! That is huge for up here in New England. And you can see it in the excitement of the Branch members here! They are so supportive of our new converts. 

Well we are all prepared to get some people wet, and will be sure to take some pictures to send home. This will be an exciting week! :D 

Thanks for all the support and everything! I love y'all!

-Elder Swalberg

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A few Photos....

Elder Swalberg sent his SD card home with the Christmas gifts that he gave us...  Here is a selected set of recent photos...

I think this was the first measurable snow.... see the message?

Elder Dahlberg and Swalberg on exchanges one day... and they baked something up!

The District he is currently serving with while in Damariscotta, ME.
 Elders Dahlberg & Swalberg... 
 Beautiful Maine... before the snow... 

 Haircut time... by his District Leader... kinda scary i would think.... 
 Mom sent him most of the ingredients for Cherry Cheese Pie for Thanksgiving... (note - dont need the salt in the background... )

 Sister Kuhn & her Primary Class sent a package... and Sis Kuhn knows Elder Swalberg well... she sent him a treat, just like when he was in her Sunday School class... a POMEGRANATE!

 His favorite thing to make with Pomegranate seeds... "sweet-tart oatmeal"  - oatmeal + mashed banana + pomegranate seeds... 
 Before they found an unused Christmas tree in the storage attic  at the church, this was their attempt at a Christmas tree in their apartment... green stocking cap and scarf wrapped around a hanger, bandana tree skirt - and a paper star colored with a highlighter!  The missionary Christmas spirit!
 Beautiful Maine... with snow... 
 His Companion Elder Dalley - facial hair keeps you warm in Maine... 
 The real Christmas tree that they put up in the apartment... surrounded by gifts and packages... 
 MORE SNOW>>>... They did a LOT of shoveling service.... could not use the cars...  
 Piasnow... sound is fairly muffled I guess... 
 Digging out cars.... 
 Photo in front of a classic looking church in Damariscotta...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Hello! And Late Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

This past week has been great, a little hard to do much because of the Holidays and the Ice storm that we got last Sunday had a TON of people out of power. We got about 5 calls from our leaders and branch members making sure we had power, because it was so wide spread. We luckily never went out of power, but I think it helps that we are right in town and so even if we were to have our power go out, they would be starting to fix the power near us, plus our landlord has a generator that would give us the power we would need anyway. But lots of lessons canceled on us because they had no power or it was Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. But it was still a great week

Christmas Eve was our last day of the 12 days of Christmas challenge and we were to sing 12 Christmas Carols and we did! We called a lot of members and sung to them on the phone, and if they didn't pick up we left a message with us singing! It was pretty great! haha Then the Quinlans (Our Branch President and his wife) had us, the sisters, the Duffy's and they also had one of their sons home for Christmas so he and his wife were there AND his wife's mother lives in our ward to so that was Sister Brooks so she and her youngest daughter (also home for Christmas) came as well! Needless to say it was a full house! But we had such a wonderful night! We had a wonderful dinner that sister Quinlan made. Get this, She was Vegan for a while and now really just a vegetarian, and so she knew I was too so she made the whole meal vegetarian! Yeah, buddy! haha She made a delicious vegetarian lasagna as the main dish! It was great! Then she even had Christmas games prepared for us to play together, along with a Christmas message, reading of Luke 2 and discussion, followed by singing Christmas hymns as she played the piano. It was seriously so amazing and Sister Quinlan even got everyone there a present! She got us Elders a gift bag that we opened the next day to find all kinds of goodies including Lindor Chocolate bars, and multiple pars of dress socks and wool socks! She is sooooo sweet and is was just the best hostess that night! We loved it!

Christmas was great as well. I told yall a little about this on the skype call but we got to open presents that we got from the branch as well from the many wonderful packages that we got. And thank you to all those who sent a package to me this Christmas! I loved them all so much and the wonderful cards that were sent as well. I am working today on thank you notes so I can mention you more personally! But after presents and studies! We just went around to member's homes that invited us over. First was the Libby Family, then Cirigliano's, and then to the Duffy's for a dinner and visit! They also had their youngest son Tim home and got to visit with him as well. I wrote a song in the past few weeks talking about how we have felt so loved during our time here in Damariscotta from our members! And I wrote with a couple of families in mind, and the Duffy's were one of them. So I brought the guitar with me and got to sing and play that for them while we were there! They both really loved it, but especially Sister Duffy. I even put in a Portuguese verse...(cause I wanted to do something fun one day for my language study. haha) Anyway, after that we went to the Hovance's They had Skype all sent up. Sister Hovance is awesome, setting that all up for us! She is so sweet and we are so grateful for their sweet family! They are one of the few younger families in the Branch and we just connect with them really well! It was great to just chat with them while Elder Dally was making his call! I love being able to see their example of being good parents, I get to see so many other wonderful marriages as a missionary and get to learn from them as well as what I have been able to learn from my own parents. I know being a father is going to be one of my greatest callings in life and I am glad I have this time to learn from others examples and prepare for that day when I have the wonderful privilege to be a father! 
So then it was my turn to talk with the fam! I can't describe how much I loved that time we had! I was somewhat apprehensive of how I would feel after it...hoping I wouldn't become home sick or something. But being able to end with my testimony and a prayer it helped me see my purpose and the call became such a motivation for me and I am so glad it turned out that way! 

In the next following days we got to see Kathy a few times as well as Norm! But sadly Chrissy has been struggling with her health recently and has missed the last 2 lessons we have had with her mom Kathy. So we have officially dropped her date for January 11th, but will extend a new date to her tomorrow when we meet next. But Kathy is so ready! She has said, "I will do anything to make this happen, I want to make my date! I want this so badly." She is so sweet! She gave us both Christmas presents and cards and they were so touching as she expressed that she can't explain how thankful she is to us for helping and teaching her. She loves her lessons so much and studies the pamphlets and the Book of Mormon everyday, and has gotten so much better at saying out loud prayers! I love her! She is doing everything she can to learn more and be a part of this church. And she has told us so many times of how much she wants the rest of her family to come with her! She is working on her husband, Mason, and son, Phil, to investigate as well. I think Phil will come around soon. But anyway, we have 2 more lessons with Kathy before her interview this Saturday, Jan. 4th.

And we also have seen Norm a couple times this week. We are starting to see him 2 times a week. On Fridays we are going over to watch a conference talk or two with him and discuss it with him. He loves them and really enjoys the messages and talking about them with us! I think it helps him really recognize that there is a true living prophet and apostles guiding this church! And we also went to his place yesterday because he couldn't make it to church, because he let someone borrow his car, and it wasn't re-registered (he didn't know) and it got impounded. (He is getting it back today, we helped him this morning get it registered, and someone else is going to get the car.) Anyway so we went by and talked with him for a while. He is so sweet and I just love that man so much!  We were able to go over the baptismal questions with him and we really only need one more lesson with him and he will be all set for Saturday as well for his interview! 

This has been so exciting to see these people progress and grow in their testimonies! I love it, and I love them!

Well that about wraps it up. But I just wanted to say that this Christmas has truly been a Christmas of not just great physical gifts but of gifts of love from so many in the Branch and the gift of having so many people to love our here, to be out here in Damariscotta, Maine is such a gift, but most of all I am so grateful for the gift that my Savior is to me! I know he lives and loves me, and was sent here to save all. And that is the message and gift that we get to share with everyone! How cool is that?! I love this work and I love yall! 

Happy New Year! Start it off right and make a goal to share the gift of this gospel with others! 

Love yall!
-Elder Swalberg

Monday, December 23

So this week has been very stormy! There is no question that we will have a white Christmas! haha, Just like last Sunday, church was canceled! This time I was super disappointed, because we had invited so many people! And a few potential investigators even said they would come because it was going to be our Christmas program! I was so sad! And we couldn't use our car at all! So we were essentially on lock down. It was a huge ice storm and the roads are still pretty slick but we were allowed to go out today but have to be really careful! Anyway so we also had another snow storm that dropped about 10 inches on Tuesday. We were on exchange at the time and had to postpone district meeting by about 4 hours until the roads cleared up, and then exchanged at district meeting. But through out the week, with all the storms, snow, ice, etc. we have struggled to do a lot. But the 12 days of Christmas that I talked about last week really helped us find something to do even when everything else wasn't working out! 

So this week may have been a rough one on key indicators, and I hate to use the weather as an excuse, but it has made it hard to do very many visits when our car is on lock down. But we have tried to make the best use of our time. I want to share a few miracles that have happened by following our Zone Leader's 12 Days of Christmas Challenge. Last P-day we needed to share 4 Luke 2 messages with 4 people and we also had exchanges and that only left us with 1 hour to do all for messages, so we came up with a way to share them during P-day. While we were shopping, doing emails, etc. We were able to give out pass along cards that had a link to Mormon.org and a scripture and quick thought from Luke 2 and we taped a piece of candy to the card. It was a friendly way to spread the true meaning of Christmas to random people through-out the day! And we gave 4 away! It was a miracle, to us, to have given 4 Luke 2 messages while we normally thought we wouldn't have enough time to do anything. 

Another Miracle that came from it was Day 9, and the challenge was to seek Christmasy referrals from 9 people. We sadly aren't close enough to enough members to possibly visit a lot of them in one day, so we called some members to ask them for people that we might be able to visit and give a Christmas message to. And we ended up with 9-10 names that day that we could visit. We have plans to see many of them tomorrow! I never would have called that many people to seek for referrals but because of the challenge, it stretched us to make sure we did it, and we did! I was amazed that as we put forth our full effort and faith that the Lord did the rest, and helped us accomplish our challenge for that day! It was really great! And the last few challenges are helping us work more with members, like tonight we are having a FHE with with the Hovance Family and then going to deliver a Christmas basket we prepared with a DVD, Book of Mormon, "The Family" a proclamation to the world, and some goodies, to a non member friend that they have. And we will help them know what invitations they might extend to them to help this family have a significant missionary experience! 

Its been really cool to use this challenge and I think I will do it again next year! its been great! Take advantage of this Christmas season, you can testify of the gospel in normal conversation during this time and it is so much more accepted by people at this time! 

Quickly, here is an update on Norm, Kathy, and Chrissy.

Sadly I was on exchange on Tuesday so I didn't get to see Norm,  but apparently he brought up a concern of not being fully sure that Thomas S. Monson is a true Prophet, but I know he has true desire to be baptized and we just need to help him make the connection between the fact that if Joesph Smith was a prophet then so are all other Prophets after him. We have received confirmation through our zone leaders that is okay to have Norm's Baptism in the Wisscasit Recreation Center pool so that he can get in and out of there with assistance or his walker/wheelchair. I'm happy to know that is all approved, and he is comfortable with having it there as well. I really hope Brother Guisani gets to baptize him! I think he wants Elder Dally and I to be in there with him though to stabilize him when he goes in and during the baptism. So that would be cool too! Also last week He was not feeling well and in Priesthood the previous Sunday we talked about priesthood blessings and Brother Duffy asked him if he would like one. And he agreed and so Brother Duffy got to do that, which was really cool! And this Tuesday he said his pains went away and said that he knew the blessing worked! It was super sweet! 

Kathy and Chrissy are doing well as well. Kathy more than Chrissy though. I know it is because Kathy is more in tune with the spirit as she is living the word of wisdom already. Chrissy has already made the goal to stop drinking and smoking as a new years resolution, and instead of trying to make her do it earlier we are just going to help her make the goal she has already set for herself. We have offered the No Smoking Program, and still might use it. But Kathy is really reading so much in the Book of Mormon and have seen so much progress from her as she has done so. She had a hard time reading it at first but has got a lot better and has read the first 14 chapters like 3 times. (She reads them over again, because she says she gets more out of it and understands so much more! I have been so impressed with them. They both asked for Priesthood blessings as well, after talking about the Word of Wisdom, and Elder Dally and I had the privilege to give them both a blessing. It was a tender experience! 

Although we may not have had a lot of lessons, the ones we had were really good. We had a good lesson with Andie the other day as well. We are starting to find good object lessons for her. And after her lesson on Saturday we got to go Caroling with the sisters on their street and met some really cool people! And that reminds me, we also got to go caroling on Wednesday with the Youth and youth leaders which was really fun and cool to be with the youth! Its so crazy that I am not the youth anymore and instead the missionary! Its super cool though, because you can tell they have such a respect for us as missionaries! I love being a missionary, its the coolest thing ever! 

Well I think that wraps it up for today, and I sent an SD card home with the Christmas package so you can post some of those on the blog! Thanks :) 

I wish all who read this a very Merry Christmas! May you think of the reason for the season, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! 

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, December 16th

Hey there!

This week has been pretty great! But there has been a lot of wintery weather really starting to happen. I wake up mornings and it looks all warm because the sun is out and the sky is clear, but we step outside and find out its like 15 degrees outside! Its insane! Anyway, but the snow that we got earlier in the week didn't keep us off the roads, they do a good job at making them safe here in Maine, Everybody and their dog has a pickup truck and a plow on the front! Its crazy, I even just looked out the window and saw a truck pass by with plow right on front! haha 

But we went on our normal run with Brother Duffy! It went really well. We say Kathy & Chrissy, Norm, and Rob & Misty. Kathy and Chrissy are doing really great! They love us coming over and its the whole family that is over when we meet! Brother Doray (Andie's Dad and Chrissy's Husband) and Andie are always their and Kathy even talked her husband Mason to come and sit in for the lesson. We covered the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it just went super well! The spirit is just always when we teach them! So obviously, thats why it goes so well! haha Anyway, we are trying start the stop smoking program for Chrissy to help her reach her goal of being baptized on Jan. 11th. We gave them homemade calenders that we would use to help them know what we have covered, record reading assignments, and have the goal of baptism somewhere they could always see it! We made one for Norm too, and thats the one I have a picture of, but the other ones are very similar just different names and scriptures. But this idea came from Sister Kelsey Edwards. I saw her and her companion do it with some of her investigators and I am so glad we did, because they all loved them and really appreciated the thought that went into them. So shout out to Sister Edwards: THANK YOU! haha

And so Norms lesson went well also! We are working out the physical aspect of him being baptized and Bro Giusani has found out a recreational center not too far away is willing to let us reserve the pool for an hour. So that is probably what we will do, we just need President Stoker's approval. But then we will be all good to go that way! We talked about tithing with him and watched Elder Bednars Talk with him, and committed him to pay his tithing after he was baptized. He said, "well I'm not sure, I won't really be able to give much." But we related it back to the widows 2 mites and he then agreed, and got the principle of it all. Anyway, I am just so excited for him to be able to be baptized! He is just amazing! 

Rob and Misty Im not sure if I have even mentioned. They have been investigators for about a year but due to previous missionaries, I am not sure if they even know they are investigators. They will read and pray with us when we ask and listen to what we share, but get so off topic and don't keep any commitments. This was all because previous Elders just went there and talked with them occasionally bringing up the gospel and calling that a lesson. This area had multiple of those instances according to what I have seen in some of the previous investigators. But we are just trying to change that. Rob is now starting to listen to the Book of Mormon on tapes on his way to work, which is a great step. We are just trying to get them to come to church! Brother Duffy has really been good about hammering that invitation. We will see what happens this week.

On Friday we have Zone interviews! So our whole zone get at the Agusta Chapel, and we first had our zone meeting, with our zone leaders and gave us some council on Planning and also gave us a 12 days of Christmas challenge. We had to do certain things on each day leading up to Christmas. Here is a quick list of the 12 days:
Day 1: One baked good made and delivered to a member.
Day 2: Hand out 2 Bibles
Day 3: Hand out 3 DVD's 
Day 4: Teach four Luke 2 messages (Thats today)
Day 5: Contact 5 former investigators
Day 6: Deliver 6 Christmas cards to investigators or less-actives
Day 7: Invite 7 people to download free music on Mormon.org/Christmas or send an e-card.
Day 8: Go without the car all day "Car fast"
Day 9: Seek 9 Christmasy Refferals.
Day 10: Prepare 2 Christmas Baskets for 2 members to give to a non-member friend.
Day 11:Teach 2 Christmasy FHE's
Day 12: Sing 12 Christmas carols to anyone

So yeah, thats all 12 days and it is supposed to be a challenge by district. So far our district has done each of them in each area! The winning district gets some kind of Prize. haha ITs been hard, but fun and an act of faith each day to get it done! Especially on a day like yesterday when it snows a foot and a half and you can't use the car, and church is canceled along with all of the other plans you made the night before. 

Yep Sunday we got a snow storm and it put us without a car and gave us a whole day to do stuff! The assistants called everyone and said to get out and serve if you don't have a car, that shoveling people out of their driveways will be a great use of our time. So we spent about 6 hours outside in the snow, walked a lot going door to door seeing if they needed help. We were usually rewarded with a quick chat and some hot cocoa! So we met a received a few potentials and helped out multiple people who really appreciated the help! It was cool, but when the time came to head in for the night we were both soooo pooped! haha!
Anyway, the moral of the story is no matter how bad it gets up here with the weather, we have lots of wonderful things to do to further the work of salvation! 

We also had the Christmas party on Friday, and Brother Manning saw me without a really warm coat and so he brought me one to barrow while I am here, and I am so glad I had that yesterday! It sure saved me!

Anyway, I am so excited for Christmas and hope everyone takes this opportunity to give out invitations as it is the perfect time to do it!

Love you all!
-Elder Swalberg

Here is the calendar that they created for Norm...