Thursday, March 27, 2014

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Trust in Christ and Endure!
Another week gone! Wow, we are already on week 5 of this transfer! Its flown by! 

Well our numbers looked pretty poor this week. We had A LOT of appointments cancel and sadly 2 of those were with our baptismal dates, Chrissy and Terry. Just like last week we were not able to meet with them. On Monday we were supposed to meet with them but they canceled. Luckily Bro. Doray and Chrissy made it to Book of Mormon Class. We read with them and we had a good discussion but it was afterwards when Chrissy really started talking. We have been texting daily scriptures to some of our investigators and less actives and the ones we have sent to the Dorays, Chrissy said they have really helped her and she is starting to read more often. That was really good to hear, because that was a big struggle for her, reading the scriptures. It was always, "well I was really busy or really tired". So set up a time the next day to see her and they said that would be fine....but after we drove all the way out their, no one was home, we called all their phones and no one was really disappointing. We saw them at church. but Chrissy was not looking good at all, and they only stayed for 2 hours. She was feeling sick and had to work later that day. Hopefully our appointment with them tomorrow will hold and be able to see her with Brother Duffy. 

Yesterday we were able to go to Kathy's home for a lesson and dinner! She is so great about feeding us. She will do all the prep work so that it is cooking while we are having the lesson and then we get to eat right after. Mason (her husband) has essentially sat in on all of our lessons since before her baptism. So he has almost heard all of the missionary lessons including lesson 5. He has been to church for sacrament meeting probably 6 times as well! He is really quiet and is really hard to read. He simply...listens. He will follow along in pamphlets and the Book of Mormon when we read form it and so on. But when our focus has been on Kathy I feel like he is beginning to actually gain his own interest for all this. So far everything he has done has been for supporting his wife, Kathy. He is such a good husband to her. He cares for her, shows that he loves her and will really do anything for her. That is why I think he has done as much as he has with the church and the lessons. But within the last month and a half he is now participating more, asking questions, and opening up a lot more than ever before. But the most he has ever done this was last night when we were at their house. He was cracking jokes with us, small talking a lot more than normal, and really just being his real self. 

During dinner we talked about Chrissy and Jonathan (Brother Doray) and apparently they have been having some rough times with their relationship again...and its really been hard on Chrissy, which I why (we are sure) they have been so flaky on us recently. After that conversation with them and a discussion together before planning last night, we decided that we need to drop their dates for now and start teaching them as a family. We have been really struggling on teaching them, because they are all at different points in their learning, addictions, stages of life, and testimony. So we need to help them be strengthened as a family first. 

There is no reason we would try to get them baptized right now, because they simply aren't in a position to be ready for a covenant like that! Baptisms are not just a number you keep track of in your journal! It is a sacred covenant that if people don't keep up their end of the covenant, they WILL be held accountable for it! We know they will be ready for baptism at some point, and we looking forward to teach them as a family now and help them get to that point! 

When we were talking to Kathy and Mason about Chrissy were able to explain that our priority is not to get people baptized, but to help people. I was glad we were able to explain that in front of Mason. I don't want him to feel pressured into any of this, but I know he is starting to take more interest in it all. I am so happy to see him open up to us! 

Well on another subject, we had a church tour on Wednesday! We did it with the sisters, and Donna and James came! They were the ones at our family history workshop. They said they have been spending a lot of time on! We were able to answer a lot of their questions that they had about our church and were able to end on the picture of the 1st vision and gave them a short version of the restoration together. It was really great, but I don't think they were really interested in having another visit, but were really nice, and said they would come to our other workshops though. Which we just set up! April 23, we are going to be doing another one. We are going to help people transfer records and information from other genealogical sites onto and show them other associated sites such as Puzzilla,! It should be pretty cool! Hopefully I will be here next transfer for it! 

Mark is still doing well. But still can't come to church because of his house arrest. He really wants to come. He said in our last visit "I would come every week if I could!" He is such a great guy, and we got to hear him pray in our last lesson. Norm has letting him get used to us before he said he would put him on the spot but he asked him to say it this last lesson! He was apprehensive about it, but Norm said, "Just start with 'Heavenly Father'.." So he did, and he just kept going! He did a great job. He probably hasn't prayed out loud for many many years! It was really cool! 

Our investigators are in some rough spots, but I just hope they choice to lean on the gospel and let their heavenly father help them get through it all. Endure to the End is something we have teaching a lot this week and I have been studying and it really requires everything we have to do it and keep on the path that our Savoir has paved for us! But if we do all we can, and trust in His Atonement, I know everything turns out for the better! 

I love my Savoir, Jesus Christ. He lives, and stands at the head of this church! 

I love y'all! 

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Busy - Spirit Filled - Miracles!
Hey there!

So this week has been crazy! It was like we were down 3 days this week because we had Zone interviews, Stake conference adult session, and Sunday session, and both all of them were about an  hour away on separate days. So yeah we had to try to cram everything into the other days. So I will try to pick one of the coolest things that happened each day.

Monday: We got to go to the Royers (Bro. Royer is the Branch Mission leader) and coordinate with the sisters and the Royers. They also fed us dinner! It was a delicious meal and they gave us tons of leftovers! We had some pretty hilarious moments during dinner. Like when Bro Royer made us laugh at a joke and Elder Stalling was drinking cranberry juice and when trying to make it not come out his nose, it ended up going into his lungs and ended up coughing and spitting up onto his plate and we were all up in an uproar of laughter! That was only part of it all. haha We had a good time! haha

Tuesday: We serve at the food pantry every Tuesday, but this time, they had a ton of produce and not that many people came, so there was a lot of stuff left over so yeah we ended up with cantaloupes, apples, oranges, grapefruit, collard greens, tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, avocados, and bread! It was freaking awesome! I have never had so much produce on my mission! A few nights later I made us both some collard green wraps with homemade guacamole, rice, beans, corn, lime and cilantro, onions and zucchini and cheese! It was soo good! We really loved it! 

We also got to see Mark again, and he is still reading the gospel principles book and the book of mormon. So awesome! 

Wednesday: We got to do our Family History workshop! The Duffys weren't able to make it because sister duffy wasn't feeling well, but the sisters came this time. Only 2 people showed up, but they had just found out about and were so stoked to see what more it could do! Their names are James and Donna. They are in their 60's and really into family history but want to get it all organized and want to do something with all of their pictures they have too! So yeah how perfect was this?! We essentially had a lesson with them without a prayer. They asked questions and participated really well because they were so interested! I was so happy, because although we weren't able to have a ton of people there, we got to teach directly to them and help them more individually, and after we finished the workshop, I asked if they had ever been in our building (they had said they had seen our building before) and they said no, that only driving by it. I offered to them to have a church tour next week and they were both up for it! So we even got a return appointment with them! How cool! We are so excited to seem them this Wednesday! 

Thursday:We got to do a lot of service! We served a while at the library, and then that evening we got to go to the Locke's home and help them renovate their room and put up the frame for their wall. Sister Locke made us homemade pizzas, and then we had a good lesson with them! Their family is so great, a little crazy with the 2 dogs, little twin girls, and the two 5 year old boys running around, but I sure love them! They are soo good to us and always send us home with a bunch of food because she is a coupon shopper like you, Mom, and she has tons of certain things that she will send home with us! It always reminds me of how you would do that to our Elders back home, it sure is the best! haha 

Friday: We had interviews with President Stoker! I love President Stoker! He just shows such concern and care for each of us missionaries. He wants me here, but as well he wants to help me to get to Brazil. He gave me some advice on a few things I was wanting to talk to him about, and I have already seen it help. I love the times I get to talk with him, even for the short 15 minutes. He has so much on his plate, yet he still makes time for each of us missionaries. And there are a lot of us! Like 220ish in the mission! So yeah he is awesome! 

Saturday: We had Stake Conference at the Topsham stake center. And Kathy, and her husband Mason and Andie all made it! I was so happy to see them there! The Lockes made it too! Our Stake President, Temple President and his wife, and President Stoker and Sister Stoker were all there. We heard from a couple of them each and a few missionaries and youth speak as well! Obviously it too was on Hastening the Work like all of the Stake Conferences are on this time. It was really great! I even met a guy from Portugal who just live in the ward north of us in Gardner. So he gave me his phone number so that if I need to ask any questions I can ask him. He is a recent covert too! He was really cool. Elder Tewksbury my companion back in Ascutney got his Visa and left last week! So there is only me, Elder Gardner, another Elder Petersen (he has been out one transfer less than me.) and one sister, who is one transfer ahead of me. So that is a lot less than the 20 something that were here when I came out here. But who knows, I haven't heard anything new. But I am going to try to get my FBI clearance done, even though I haven't been asked for it yet. Because I have heard it will probably be needed soon anyway. So yeah that will be a priority this next week. It shouldn't be too hard, I have the info I need to get it done. 

Sunday: After Stake conference in the morning/afternoon we went and saw Bro. Carlson and Mark again! We taught him about the last part of the Plan of Salvation, and Brother Giusani, who was with us, brought it a little deeper than we wanted it to get. BUT it ended really well. Mark asked a really profound question, "So how will I know when the spirit is talking to me?" And we read Galatians 5:22-23 with him and It was quiet for a moment, and I asked, "which of those have you felt?" He repiled after taking a moment to think, "I think, all of them." I then asked, "So what does that mean then?" It was silent again, and while staring at the scripture, he said, "That this is true." I blew up inside! haha HE GETS IT! It was soo cool. But I kept that inside and the silence continued as the spirit testified of what he just said. It was so strong and powerful! That was such a great experience and I know he knows these things are true! I don't know when things will calm down for him with his court stuff and his wife, but one thing is for sure: He wants to be better and knows this is where he can do that! I was so happy for him!

So there was nothing better than being so busy and getting to feel the spirit so much in this week at stake conference, interviews, and teaching, and simply with my companion! The white handbook tells us to strive to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost and I sure have learned to love it! And that is what we should always strive for, because there is truly no better feeling! 

I sure love you all! Hope y'all have a great week! 

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Even Enjoying the Slumps!
Well hey there! 

This week has been a lot slower than last week. We only taught like half the lessons that we did last week, and a few other things seemed to get thrown at us this week. But I just am glad I am companions with Elder Stallings, because he is the type of guy that is willing to laugh about the unfortunate stuff with me and that makes it just work out a lot better. So although it might have seemed like we were in a slump sometimes, I felt like we were able to make the mood lighter somehow and laugh it off or pray it off! 

Last Monday we had set up our coordination meeting for that night at his house instead of the church, because we haven't had one with our Branch Mission Leader for about 5 weeks now. But they had to cancel again. So that was disappointing, but the good thing was that we got to really deep clean our apartment that day! 

Chrissy and Terry still have the date of April 5th for baptism, but its getting closer and we have had a few appointments cancel with them. Luckily we managed to see them both once this week. The lesson with Chrissy went really well. Brother Duffy was with us and we said a prayer beforehand to help us know how we could present this lesson of the Word of Wisdom in such a way that would help encourage her and commit her to stop smoking. When we taught the lesson, although their were a lot of distractions we taught with the spirit and she had already decided to stop this next Sunday (yesterday) and she agreed to have a blessing after church on Sunday too to help her. Well come Sunday she shows up at church and we went up smiling greeting her, asked how she was doing, and immediately she said, "I already gave in this morning." We held in our disappointment, and said that its okay, and to just try again and that we would still love to give her a blessing after church. We talked to her in Gospel Principles and she said today was "just one of those days" and was not feeling well. So that sucked! But we still got to give her a blessing. She asked me to give the blessing part, and what Heavenly Father told her was especially, "you can overcome this and you will be able to, but not unless you do what is asked, reading the scriptures, prayer sincerely, and really working at this." It is amazing to be the mouth piece for God's counsel to his children. Elder Stallings then gave Brother Doray (Chrissy's husband -returning member-) a powerful blessing and Heavenly Father clearly stated to him that he needs to be the rock for his family and needs and is able to overcome smoking as well. It was really crazy the feeling we both had after those 2 blessings. We had also participated in a blessing during Elder's quorum and after those blessing I turned to Elder Stallings and said, "You know how people describe how after using the priesthood it can be tiring? Well, I think I know what they mean now. I feel drained!" But what a wonderful opportunity it was. We went over to their home that same evening (last night) and taught Terry. We had plans to teach him Law of Chastity and Word of was a possible the worst lesson ever! Andie was the absolute opposite of helpful; distracting in every way! Brother Doray tried to help get her and Terry to listen, but it was too much. Terry was messing around with every thing he could get his hands on, and their 2 dogs were just yapping their heads off and every other minute, one of them would yell the dogs name and tell them to "SHUT UP!" That only added to noise and interruptions. And somehow, we pushed through the lesson, and it really was forced because the spirit couldn't be there. We didn't even talk about it for 5 minutes after we got in the car we were both so frustrated and saddened about how it went. Once I got back home, I was praying about being stressed and Heavenly Father gave me everything I needed to feel better about it all! I know he is so aware of me and I am ready to tackle our new set of problems with a renewed enthusiasm! There is nothing better than being able know He answers your prayers! 

We were supposed to see Cynthia, the lady we were helping with Family History, but she forgot and had to set it up for 2 weeks away because of doctor appointments she had this week. So that happened on Thursday, and for some reason NO ONE was home and ending up teaching NO ONE that day. Thats always pretty depressing! And to top it off the big tragedy of the week happened. We were pulling up our driveway that evening, and Elder Stallings swung the car around in front of our wooden steps to then back up into the stop we normally park, but when he thought he put the car in reverse it was still in drive when he quickly hit the gas and when FORWARD into the steps a few feet in front of us! We both freaked out! He backed up and we got out to see the damage. It cracked a foot-by-foot chunk of the bumper off and broke the stem of the window washer fluid pump going into the window washer fluid tank, so that all flowed out as we stood there shocked at what just happened. It was definitely still drivable and it didn't brake the headlight! So for now we are still able to drive just fine but we are going to have to bring it to a collision body repair shop as soon as we get the estimate approved. So yeah, Elder Stallings felt soooo bad especially because he hasn't ever hit anything since he starting driving. But like I said, even the hard things we were able to laugh off and so that night we were crying we were laughing so hard about each others reactions when it happened! We had done everything we could to fix the problem so we found it in ourselves to still laugh it off! We already have soooo many inside jokes, and it is pretty great! hahah 

Anyway, like I have said, although bad things happen sometimes, we can get through them. Its like what my mission president told us in our last Zone Conference: "Make a list of all the things you can't control and then don't worry about them." Its so true, if there is something I can't control why let myself stress about it! I have enough to stress about with the things I can control! haha 

So yeah, I know I supposed to be here and even though I have challenges, I am still supposed to enjoy life and I have the ability to CHOOSE whether I will be happy or not. I have the ability to CHOOSE to let things bother me or not! What a great gift God has given us! Use it well, and I know we will see the blessings! 

I hope y'all have a wonderful week! 

Love y'all! :)

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Same Area, Seen Through New Eyes
Well Hello! 

Wow, has this week been great! I have been able to do so much! For the past few weeks, between the people we normally visit getting sick, and the snow storms, he have not been able to teach that many lessons! But this week has been great and we even got 5 Member presents in this week! But before I go into the many miracles that happened I need to introduce my new Companion, Elder Stallings! He is from Tooele, Utah, and has been out a little over a year! He has got this Senior companion thing down pretty well so its been a weird switch from Elder Dally, because I came when it was his first time being Senior companion so because my brain was a little more organized, I did a lot of things that I am now finding out is really what the Senior Companion is supposed to do. So Elder Stallings is pretty satisfied with that fact though. haha He says, "you just make my job a crap lot easier!" He is really funny, and he have laughed our eyes out a couple times already. But as well he is very smart and spiritual so we have had some great intelligent conversations and some deep spiritual conversations already just in the last 5 days! Its been pretty great! I wonder how he has these great attributes....oh yeah! He WAS HOMESCHOOLED! Yep! That's right! haha So our background is very similar, he only had one more semester before he would have had his associates degree and did the whole graduating early and what not! So yeah its pretty cool, but we joke about our "homeschool" moments because we both don't spell well. So we joke around saying, "Why did he put 2 homeschoolers together?!" ;p haha Its pretty funny. Anyway! Its great to have him see this area with a fresh set of eyes! He has seen where we can improve things, when I have just kind of gotten used to it. So yeah, thats been really great! 

We have taught really well together too! I love how he teaches! Its super great! The best way to describe how we teach is that we have each others backs as we teach! Its pretty cool! I fasted for multiple things yesterday but one of them was that this continues to go well with us two! I have a lot of struggles with my companions and the last few days have seemed too good to be true, so yeah I  really hope we continue to get along so well! 

So onto the miracles! 
#1 So on Wednesday, we had an appointment to meet with this lady that came to our Family History workshop a few months ago, and to help her with a couple questions she had. So we met her at this place where are emailing and got her signed up with Familysearch and helped her add the 4 generations of people she had into family search, and she is like 92 so 4 generations put us back quite a ways. So her information started to match up with family search's information, and she was able to find new information (like death places, birth places) that she didn't before have! She got SOOO excited to see that! We will be meeting with her again this Thursday, and said she would try to make it to our church soon too!  So yeah, New investigator! All from family history! And we just had a cool miracle with another lady that came up to us just a little bit ago, and happened as I was emailing to President Stocker. To save time, I will paste in what I shared with him:  

As well, I wanted to tell you about one thing I was pondering this morning. I was studying in Preach My Gospel about finding through family history and was thinking about how great a tool it has been here in this area! We have had the chance to do a workshop for the community on Family History that included other genealogists from the community and many who wanted to learn more. That allowed us to tell why its so important and then how to do it with This past week we met up with one of those who came to our workshop and became one of our new investigators and we are helping her some more this week! ............And you won't believe what just happened! haha I just had to pause because this lady came up to us where we are doing our emails right now and asked us about our other family history workshop that we are about to do in this next 2 weeks and started asking us questions about our church, and we invited her and another one of her friends that was interested to our Book of Mormon Class and got to briefly explain what the Book of Mormon was and that because she has American Indian heritage that this record was their dealing with God. She replied that she would be signing up for our workshop and that she would probably see us at the Book of Mormon Class! Yeah! That JUST happened as I was typing this to you!
So yeah, that was super cool! And we are hoping we continue to have such success with family history! The people here love it! 

#2 Mark! He is the man we met that is friends with Norm. He was at his house again on Friday so that he could meet with us again! This time we had Bro. Duffy with us too! We talked about faith and how it can change our actions and used the "Lord, I Believe" talk by Elder Holland and it was really great! He has been reading the Book of Mormon and he described his experience with it like Troy first did. He said, he brings it with him everywhere, and that he had read the first part and also was looking in the index at words like repentance and what not! I extended a soft baptismal comment to him and he accepted and said he would. Next time we will be able to set a date with him! I am so excited, especially when he walked in with Norm on Sunday! Yeah and he stayed for Gospel Principles! It was so great, and we have such high hopes for him! 

#3 We got to teach Terry our 10 year old investigator and we didn't really have a whole lot planned. But we knew we wanted to teach him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson so we started into talking of faith and went from there! We found out he is definitely a visual learner! Elder Stallings got our his picture book, and made some on the spot visual aids! And then I came up with an on the spot object lesson to teach the principle of repentance and also Baptism! It was really cool! And afterwards we just told each other there was definitely some inspiration going on to do that so well! haha 

So yeah, thats what I've got for you today! I know a lot of great things are going to be happening here soon! I can't wait to share more miracles with yall about this work, next week! 

Love yall! 

-Elder Swalberg