Wednesday, January 1, 2014

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

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