Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday, April 28th

Well its only been 5 days since I was last on here, and it only seems like 2! haha Its been pretty cool to see what the Lord has given us in the last 4 days. The big thing we have been fasting and praying for are new investigators! And we have 4 new investigators! Some are more solid than others but for time constraints today, I will share the coolest one.

So last Wednesday, during our (moved) p-day, Mom, you sent me stories of how you had fasted and prayed in different areas on your mission with your companions and how it always brought miracles. At this point we hadn't received any new investigators even though we had fasted 4 days prior and were working really hard. And it wasn't that my faith was dwindling, but hearing those experiences from you really helped me see the Lords hand was still here and that the people were being prepared. No later than that night as we felt like we needed to be at youth night at the church, for a possible potential that would be there, then did we find 2 very prepared new investigators. We were about to leave after talking with some members and we stopped into cub scouts and Sister Myere was talking to 2 of the Moms of the scouts who are non members about the temple and she saw us and was like, "OH ELDERS! Come on in and meet these 2, we are talking about temples. You should explain it!" It was so cool! They were genuinely interested and listened as we taught that through temples we can be sealed to our families for eternity. We then transitioned to the Restoration and taught it all to them and gave them both a Book of Mormon and one of them said she was just teaching her son about Easter and how after Christ was resurrected that he went to others to visit them. And she said, "that was those people here in the Book of Mormon!" She calls her son over and explains it to him. And she says that she will read the Book of Mormon and pray about it! We are going to be meeting with them next Wednesday! I know the Lord prepared them for us!

We did a big service project on Saturday and then had stake conference that evening. We had dinner before that with the McInnis's too.

yesterday we had the morning session and it was really great! It was very spirit filled!

We went on splits with an awesome member yesterday as well! I really like him. He is a convert that was too old to serve a mission but wanted to so badly. So he was so fun to go out teaching with!

Well sadly I don't have anymore time today but I hope you all know that our heavenly father truly hears and answers our prayers when we show him our faith and work our hardest!

I love you all,

-Elder Swalberg

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday, April 23rd

Last P-day seems like forever ago! Probably because it was! We had to change our P-day to today because of Zone Conference happening for us this past Monday. 
 But starting from last week. I will highlight some of the good things that happened, but because I have 2 extra days to write about, I won't be able to share as much. 

But yall heard about my crazy P-day last week, but after emails we went to a members home for dinner! The Earnest Family. They made an awesome dinner to help teach their kids about the Passover! It brought back so many memories of how Dad, you and Mom would make all the different parts and we would go through the whole process to learn what each food was to represent and go through the motions to  better understand it! It was so cool to do with them! 

I went on Exchange that night with my District Leader, Elder Brown. He had been Zone Leader with Elder Terry for 2 transfers so it was fun to be able to talk and laugh about our experiences with Elder Terry! I really like Elder Brown, we have a similar personality. While he was here in Sanford with me we tried not to use the car more than we had to, but it was raining so we drove to a couple places but whenever we planned on walking somewhere it would lighten up so we didn't get rained on very heavy at all. We tried to find a new investigator, but nothing happened that way. But a couple people at least listened to us. 

The following day (Wednesday) we were able to Coordinate with the sisters of what we wanted to the missionary work in ward to go...and then we had a call with Brother Forbes ( our new ward mission leader) to explain what our thoughts were and what his thoughts were. He really is excited and is committed even though he has 3 young children and a crazy job. He has a willing heart though and thats is what will make the difference. A lot of what we talked about will be brought up in the next Coordination meeting with members of each Auxiliary present. 

We also had a dinner appointment with the Bently Family. They have 7 daughters ranging from 1-15 years old. Buth recently a lot of them have been taking guitar lessons. So they previously knew I did as well. So after dinner and the lesson. They had me play a song on the guitar. They had the "simplified hymns" book and that has the guitar chords above the words, so I played one and then played the Spirit of God as we all sang it together! It was really cool! Having a guitar in my last apartment sure was a treat! haha 

On Saturday The sisters and us fasted for our area to have new investigators and to start to see this area really pick up. It is such a great area, but we are just lacking the teaching pool. That day we didn't find a new investigator but we did run into a guys as we were tracting a street who was baptized when he was 15 but hasn't been active for quite a while. But Guess where he is from? Tyler, Texas! Yeah, pretty cool huh?! We will be stopping by his place this week to get to know him better. But he did ask for another book of Mormon as we were talking to him which was cool! His name is Ken. But anyway, I really do know our studies, prayers, and fast will be answered. We are still working and I know the Lord will guide us to someone or someone to us that is ready to hear and accept the gospel! 

Easter was really great! We started it out by waking up at 4:50 to go to a Baptist "Sunrise Service". We went because an older couple invited us to come with them. We do service for them on their horse farm every Tuesday and Thursday morning. It was really great! I love Easter and Christmas because all Christians can be so united in their worship that day! After the service they had a breakfast there at their church for everyone too. It was really great! So many nice people came up and talked with us! 

We had a wonderful church service too and 8 less actives were at church from our area! It was really great to see them all! Afterwards we went to the Basko's house for Dinner. All their kids are moved out but they have a daughter that is on a mission too. It was a really great meal and had a great lesson with them about the Atonement too! All in all such a spiritual and lovely Easter Day! 

One Monday we had Zone Conference. It was really great and was focused on us using Preach My Gospel more in our studies and really everything we do as a missionary. The things talked about were really good to be reminded of! 

We had FHE with the McInnis Family that night too! We love them so much! They had dinner for us too, and really our FHE was formed by our discussion from dinner. We all just started talking about the power and awe of the priesthood. Bro. McInnis shared some very special experiences that really strengthened my testimony! When we go to the temple this transfer, I would really like to go with them! They are so great! 

Well those are the highlights of my week! I am so excited to see what else this week is going to give to us! I have gained a new form of optimism as I have truly grown leaps and bounds in my testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ! I am so happy to know that he lives and is so much a part of each of our lives! I KNOW he is there, I KNOW it as surely as I know I am typing this email! What a great blessing we have to know these things. That's why I'm motivated to share the gospel. 

I love y'all! 

-Elder Swalberg

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Monday, April 14th - Sanford, Maine


So I got transferred to Sanford, Maine! Its only about an hour and 40 minutes away from Damariscotta! I guess I am stuck in the "Maine Trap"! Once in Maine always in Maine, as missionaries say out here. haha Guess who I replaced though?! Elder Gardner! My MTC companion! It was really cool to see him when we switch rides. He went to Topsham which is the neighboring area to Damariscotta. So yeah, not only did I replace Elder Gardner, but this was Elder Stallings last area, and Elder Terry (my trainer) served here too! Its pretty cool, because the ward pretty much knows most of my companions! Its been really cool to meet some people that I have already heard stories about from Elder Stallings and Elder Terry! 

The Ward here is huge! It was a big shock just coming from a branch to this ward. In my last branch there were only 3 people that were members long enough ago to have gone on a mission. 1 was in the stake presidency, one was the branch president, and the other was just released from the Mission Presidency and Branch presidency recently! But now, we have all kinds of families from Utah and Idaho, essentially we actually have westerners! Its so awesome! It makes everything in leadership just go so much smoother! Our Ward mission leader has been in this position for 7 years and was a Bishop right before that, and rocked his calling! He is so awesome Everyone calls him Brother L. because he has a wierd long last name. But yeah this whole ward has such a firm foundation, great youth, great leaders and great excitement of missionary work! There have been about 5-6 baptisms this past 6 months and Bro. L says "Yeah, but it really can be better." haha Its pretty sweet. I have never been fed so much by the members till here either. I have already had 3 meals with members and one tonight and it has barely been a week. That is soooo many more than my last 2 areas! So yeah, they feed us really well too! 

My new apartment is pretty good. Elder Stalling was pretty good about keeping up on cleaning and maintaining the apartment when I was with him and it showed here in this one. There are still a few things that need to be sorted and cleaned, and luckily I had some extra money left from last week because I had to by a lot of cleaning supplies because the apartment didn't have any! But yeah, give me one more week and it will be looking a lot better. 

So my Companion is Elder Hancock! Mom, I know you saw his picture. He is a good companion. He is from Farmington, Utah. He has a twin brother in the Rodchester, New York mission right now. He is a little quirky, but fun! We will be fine together. 

I would tell you about our investigators here, but we don't really have any real investigators. We do, but they aren't really that interested (at least the few I have met). Which is too bad, but hopefully we can get a few of them to start progressing soon! We have set a goal about finding new investigators but I need to explain a little more about what is so significant about this timing here in this area and ward. 

So first of all, the sisters that split this ward with us are both new! They are "shotgunning the area". Meaning they both are new to the area, and they have to rely on the records the previous missionaries kept and essentially work from there. This happened because the previous 2 sisters here DID NOT get along AT ALL! And the members, investigators, and missionaries around them knew it! It was heavily effecting the trust between the missionaries and members, and they were not doing much of anything teaching wise. But now there are 2 new sisters here Sister Reid and Sister Oliphant. They are perfect for this area. Sister Reid is so full of energy and ready to work hard and is super funny! And sister Oliphant just got back on her mission after some time at home with health difficulties, so she has the new missionary attitude plus the experience of 7 1/2  months too! SO yeah its super great! And then I am obviously new too, and Elder Hancock has only been here 6 weeks. Plus our Bishop was recently called and yesterday our Ward Mission leader got changed! But our new Bishop is super great, and very missionary minded, and the new ward mission leader knows he is going to have to fill some big shoes, but is ready for the calling. He is in his 30s and served his mission in Chili. He will be great! So with all this newness, the sisters and us were talking about how we need NEW investigators too. We know this new outlook on everything, and this NEW excitement and NEW faith will help us find new investigators! We are going to fast and pray with the sisters to be able to find new investigators this next 2 weeks for those that are ready to hear our message. We know as we do that and study and apply Chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel more fully, we WILL find success! 

I am so excited for this transfer and all that it will bring! I am very grateful for this week to reflect on my Savoir, Jesus Christ, and be able to share my testimony of Him to so many! I know he is my redeemer, and is the answer to all our discomforts and infirmities. I have used this scripture so much this past week as we have taught a lot of less actives: (Alma 7:11-12)

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

I love these verses! I'm so glad it is one of the new scripture masteries! It helps me know that the Atonement extends past just forgiving my sins, but comforting me through my trails. I know he has felt what I have felt and I know he has felt everything I will feel. I am so thankful that I will always have someone who knows what I go through. What more could I ask for. "Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me!"

Be sure to use this site to share the gospel with others!

I love you all! 

-Elder Swalberg :)

Monday, April 7th - Transferred!

Man oh man, what a week! SO much has happened, and about to change. The biggest thing is that I am being Transferred out of Damariscotta! I had been dreading the night of transfer calls, because I was scared of leaving. I felt like if I left now then I would be leaving so many things unfinished. But on Friday night we got a call form the assistants saying I would be transferred out, and Elder Stallings would stay.  I will admit I was a little frustrated when I first found out I was leaving. In my last area, it was at a point that I felt comfortable leaving and where I felt I had given it most of what I had. But here, I felt like I still had things to do, people to help, and things to follow up on. I was not very happy that I couldn't be a part of those things anymore, and have to start over in a new area, and be the one who knew nothing about the area all over again.

I didn't like feeling like this, and that is why I was so thankful for conference the next day. It took my mind off of it all, and I focused on receiving answers for the many questions I had not pertaining to my transfer. I received an answer to every single question I wrote out! Conference has never failed me in this way. I also asked why I needed to be transferred right now. And I received an answer Sunday Morning, with President Uchtdorf's talk as he talked about being grateful for the situations we are in, even when its tough, and that endings are not our destiny but merely temporary pauses. I was grateful for that assurance and advice. I am going to miss this area so much, but I am now at the point where I AM excited for this new area, and to give it all I have and help a whole new set of people! 

I will not be going down to transfer meeting so that means I will be staying up in Maine. My guesses are Portland, or Sanford Maine. we will be driving up to Augusta to meet at the chapel where a lot of the switches will be happening for the people staying in Maine. But yeah, I will send a letter home the day I get there letting yall know where I am and my address. 

Anyway....before I knew about this transfer we had a great day teaching with Brother Duffy on Tuesday while Elder Stallings was on exchange in Augusta. I had Elder Shupe with me. We got to teach Chrissy and Terry about Prophets and prep them for General Conference and have dinner with them too. We havent been able to see Mark this week though. he was 10 minutes late from being home from church so he was in trouble. Esencially he is bound to the rules that are set by his friend Chris that bailed him out because he does anything out of line, he looses his large amount of money he paid for bail. So he is going to be staying at home all the time because of his lateness on Sunday. Its sad, but understandable because Chris has  a lot of money on the line so he has to be strict with him. 

But we also saw Misty. I explained that she committed to take the structured lessons. So we taught he the restoration. She has heard a lot of it before, but it was different this time. I was with Elder Shupe who hasn't been out too long, so I ended up doing most of the teaching, but the first half of the Restoration lesson wasn't going well, with so many things distracting them. (Dog, kids asking them questions, etc.) But as soon as I had quoted the 1st vision the lesson started to change. Jake their 19 year old son started to listen (which he has before but this time more intently) and the dog was put up. The spirit quickly came to the room as we taught of Joesph Smith's role in the restoration of Christ's church and the Book of Mormon. That's when Brother Duffy bore powerful testimony of the book and how true he knew it to be and that if they desired to know it too that they can get that answer! At that point we explained how that answer will come...(Moroni 10:3-5)...and explained who the Holy Ghost is. It was good because Misty gained a clearer view of how it is we receive answers, which she said she didn't know before. I then bore my testimony about the promise given in those verses...I started to choke up as everyone was already filled by the spirit. I know that promise is real, and that our Heavenly Father will answer our answers through the power of the Holy Ghost! I told them of how I had tried it for myself many times, and every time I gain a stronger and stronger affirmation of its truthfulness! We then committed them to start reading it and to pray about it, and they agreed. I hope this commitment came across different then the others we have given, and that they act on it. Misty also was having a painful time though, because of her carpal tunnel. It was bothering her a lot during the lesson. And Elder Shupe explained afterwards that the priesthood that Christ help was restored in this church, and it was by that priesthood that he healed the sick. And we offered her a blessing as priesthood holders of that priesthood. She accepted and she did believe what we told her. I had the opportunity to be the voice of the incredible it was to do that. After we left Elder Shupe said that the things I said, (some of the exact phrasing) was what he was thinking needed to be said while he joined me in the blessing. I know Heavenly Father is aware of her in her need and loves her and what a great experience it was to be able to hear that come straight form Heavenly Father. 

We had another great lesson with Chrissy on Friday. But as I said...we got the calls that night and between our teaching appointments and Conference the next 2 days, we made a few visits to say bye and get a picture! We got to go to the Hovances last night and got a picture with them, which I will attach. I love them so much! I will miss them. Arie (the little one) has gotten so used to me, she is so crazy and happy whenever we are over! She loves pulling our name tags off and playing with them! I have some cute videos of her that I will send home on the SD card once I get the other one back. 

Members of the Branch have said when I said bye, that I have been here so long that I was already a part of their little branch. It made me happy that they felt me fit in so well. I have felt so loved and appreciated here, and am going to miss so many people here. But I know the Lord has other work in store for me somewhere else, and I'm ready for it! 

I can't wait to tell you about all the new people I am about to meet and love! :)

Love you guys! 
-Elder Swalberg