Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday, June 30

Hey Y'ALL!

Well it was another great week here in Sanford!
Last Sunday we went to the Rochester Elder's area to go hiking for district p-day! IT was super fun! I will attach a couple photos! There was a cool little water fall there next to the trail and we got to climb up on some of the rocks and take some cool pictures. There was this one spot were the sun was just right that it looked like a "pillar of light" when we took a picture, and so I had to do the "Joesph Smith Pose". haha We had a good time!

Then on Tuesday we had a chance to get over to the library in the morning, and talked to the library director and offered our service for a couple events they had coming up that they needed volunteers for and then I talked to him about the family search workshops that I had done up in Damariscotta and he immediately said they would love to host a workshop like that! So yeah. We will be there in the next week or 2 to do the service at a book sale they have going on, and then we will probably get a workshop going! I am so excited for that. I loved doing that up in Damariscotta!

Then we also went on exchange with the Zone Leaders on Tuesday. I got to go down to Exeter, New Hampshire in their area! We had such a great time, but still worked really hard! Our area was about an hour and 1/2 away to so we didn't have as much time to work as the other Elders but it turned out that all of their plans fell through. so after we had time, we just went out street contacting, and were trying to invite as many people as we could to do something! SHOUT OUT: As Sister Edwards from the Birmingham, Alabama mission calls it, "Unplanned Invitations". We ended up inviting 28 people! We didn't have any super cool miracles, but it was just cool to talk to so many people. I have been trying this principle of unplanned invitations for the past few weeks, and it has made talking with everyone so much easier! Even though its not one of our key indicators, we set a goal for how many "Unplanned Invitations" we will work for each day in planning.

Elder Johnston and a few other missionaries who just entered our district with the mini transfer we had 3 weeks ago, had not received interviews from President yet, so President Stoker came up to Sanford on Wednesday and gave them all interviews before district meeting, and then joined us for the beginning of district meeting but had to leave about 30 minutes into it. But before he left he wanted to take a few minutes. He gave us a challenge, and a blessing attached to this challenge. He asked us to go to our Heavenly Father each night in our prayers and ask him a specific question, "What one thing would you like me to change about myself tomorrow?" Just one thing a day, he said. He instructed us to make a covenant with Heavenly Father with each thing. Then to return and report to him each night about how we did. And that if we fall short, to repent and keep working! He promised that as we do this, we will receive "Immediate Revelation" of what it is that we need to change. He promised us that if we do this that we will become the missionary that our Heavenly Father wants us to be! And even after our missions he said this will make us the person he wants us to be. That it will bless ourselves, and our future family!
Well with those kinds of promises, who wouldn't do this?!?! I have been trying it ever since Wednesday, and....WOW! What a difference it makes. When you pray about what it is that HE wants you to change, you know you HAVE to change it because he just told you to do it and you can't forget it throughout the day, so you are constantly thinking about it! Are you up for the President Stoker Challenge? Try it for one week and see the difference it makes. Write down each change you make each day as soon as you pray about it. Once you do, I would love you hear about your experience!

We had a lesson with Becky, Wednesday night about Prayer and answers through the Holy Ghost! I know she will receive her answer and she does too. She feels right about it all so far, and hopefully we can just get her to church this next week because she didn't make it again this Sunday again. And we even called her the night before, and she seemed like she was going to make it. So that was kind of disappointing. She is going to be out of town this week so we wont be able to see her until (hopefully) Sunday.

We had a couple other lessons throughout the week, but Saturday was one of the cool experiences. We had just gone through some old progress records and found a name "Ann" (no last name) and an address and it was in the same apartment complex as a less active that we see. So we decided to go and see Sister Chadborne (the less active) and caught her just as she got home so it was perfect to just talk outside, and while talked about a big event the Exeter Staker (our stake) is putting on here in Sanford, a pioneer celebration ***Facebook Event: "A Step Back In Time", and she was like "Oh cool, you should go invite the lady in that building over there on the bottom floor on the right. Her name is Ann, and she is going through some hard times with fact tell her that I sent you over there and talk with her!" So yeah that was the former investigator that we found on our old progress records just a few days ago. So yeah, we did. We probably talked with her for about 20 minutes there in the doorway, but we had to come back with a male to go inside, but she was welcome to us coming back, and we going over there tonight! So that was pretty awesome! She is about 70 years old, but is questioning her Jewish Background and Traditions. She is scared to make any changes, but is very curious and as she started to describe some of her problems in her family, I was able to testify that our message would help her find peace and strength in her trials! So I am really excited to see how it goes tonight. Brother Adams (our Elder's Quorum President) is coming with us!

We didn't have any investigators come to church this week, and it got me thinking about our investigators who are not progressing. One is a "Eternigator" and the other 2 are a old couple who really aren't keeping any commitments (Juan and Denise). So this morning Elder Johnston and I both ended up getting inspiration in our personal studies that we need to drop them. We would have debated the prospect more, but the fact that both of us received specific guidance in our studies (without knowing about each other's thoughts about this till companionship study) I know that Heavenly Father was trying to tell us this. We know that if we drop them in the right manner, we will be able to keep their friendship but receive other people..specifically teach that are ready to keep commitments and work towards baptism. And they will then be our priorities!

I am so happy to be a missionary! I love my Heavenly Father, and I try to come closer to him day by day! Thank you for all of y'all's support and love!


-Elder Swalberg

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday, June 23rd

Hey everyone!

Its official, I am over the hump! I can't believe it! This week wasn't anything super special though. It was still a good week though.

Tuesday, we got to do the trail blazing service in Acton, but we are switching it to an every other week schedule. I am happy about this, because I was talking to President Hawks (counselor in the Mission Presidency) about what is the most productive service, and that is when we are in a place where we are seen and get to meet more people through it, but when you are out there in the woods of Maine, there aren't very many other people you get to meet. haha So this will open up some time every other Tuesday to help serve in the library in Springvale and also try and set up some family history workshops set up there too, because they have a great genealogy center there in that library! So I will be checking that out tomorrow morning! I am excited about that!

On Wednesday we got to finally have a real set apart lesson with Becky (the cub scout mom). We met here early before a pack meeting they had. We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ, and extended a baptismal invitation to her and she wasn't ready to commit right now, but we followed it up with when she came to know it is true if she would be baptized, and to that she said yes! She then directed us to the 2nd to last paragraph of the introduction of the Book of Mormon where it says:

"We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts  the message it contains and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost."

And we were just like, "Uh, yeah thats exactly right!" We were about to go there and she already knows how she is supposed to find her answer! We didn't see her at church this week, but we hope she will be there next week and will see her before scouts again this Wednesday! Pray for her to receive her answer!

On Thursday it was my YEAR MARK! I made me and my companion pancakes and eggs for breakfast, (I will include a picture). And sadly I had to spend a good part of the day getting a body shop's estimate for some repairs on our car for some scratches that were on there before I got here from some previous Elders, but knew they needed to be reported. But after all the car stuff was out of the way, we were able to meet Jeff at his house and have a lesson on the Priesthood and about hometeaching. In ward council yesterday they brought up Jeff and gave the Young Men's President the responsibility to teach him how to pass the sacrament and to work him up to being able to bless the sacrament! I like that, and I just hope it all goes according to plan and also his hometeachers will be able to get started with teaching him the new member lessons too! If new converts don't have a smooth transition into the gospel, it can make it so hard on them and can easily lead them into inactivity. Sadly I have seen that with some of my own converts. So if any of you have new converts in your wards, BEFRIEND THEM! They NEED you and your solid foundation! I never knew how necessary this was until being out here, but it really is so important!
 Thursday night George and Cheryl Chamberlain (the horse farm couple we help out every week) took us out to dinner to say thanks for all the help we give them and it worked out to be on my year mark day too! haha (I will attach the picture that I took with them after dinner with them too)

On Saturday we had an interesting day. We had plans to fast again with the sisters for new investigators! I know it helped us last time, and we are both really looking for some new investigators that will really progress, and so we started that fast Saturday afternoon, into Sunday evening. We decided to go tracting in an area we aren't in very often, and it turned out to be a really boony road, and so we drove on, but after doing a few other visits that way, our GPS took us a weird way home and it was another road we thought about tracting. So we decided we needed to get out and tract it. We did, and it was kind of a richer road. Many of the houses were built right on a lake, and most of them were older people. Most of them just replied, "We're all set." but in a nice enough way, until this one house, where he started by saying "What do you want?! Are you trying to sell me something?" We just replied we were just going around offering service, and  before we could even finish he just said, very forcefully, "Just go away!" So yeah, we pretty much felt like crap, and I was thinking to myself, "No one here wants to hear from us, there is no point!" But we pushed forward and knocked another door, and what a contrast! A very nice older lady answered the door and recognized who we were as missionaries for the LDS church, and started to express how impressed she was with us being out here away from home and our families at such a young age. She proceeds to ask about our families and where we are from. She is a faithful Baptist, but has let Elders come in and talk with her before, and was just impressed with us. So she wasn't interested, but it was exactly what we both needed right then! Our Heavenly Father was watching over us and wanted us to know that this isn't a lost cause, and we are of great worth!

So that is what I will end on. This is a great work we are a part of, and I know the Lord is directing it! I am so happy to be a part of it. One of the scriptures we memorized this week in our scripture memorization program was actually a quote by President Ezra Taft Benson. And it sums it up so well:
" We are commanded by God to take this Gospel to all the World. That is the cause that must unite us today. Only the Gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family."

 I hope you all have a wonderful week, and find someone to share the gospel with!

Love yall!

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday, June 16th

Hey y'all!

Sorry I have been really bad at getting a full email out to everyone these past 2 weeks, but hopefully your weeks haven't been as crazy as mine have been. Luckily this week was a good crazy! Elder Johnston, my new companion, is such a great missionary, and we get along really well! We spent probably 4 hours together cleaning our apartment! Its amazing having a companion that is willing to help me clean, but what makes it better is when he is just as enthusiastic about it as you are! We have a very great apartment now, and we are set on continuing to make it nicer.

We have been working hard outside of P-day too. Now that I am in my area full time, its been good but crazy trying to get all of our appointments back to normal schedule. Elder Johnston and I have really been trying to be as Exactly obedient as we can be and we can tell the sisters are too and we have seen a lot of great blessing from that! We have been going through records and the ward list and have found a lot of part member families that we could very well be teaching. Some kids as well as adults. We are really looking to make those happen, especially as our fastest progressing investigator just got baptized! Jeff!

Before his baptism, we went to the Joesph Smith Memorial with him and Brother LaRiviere on Friday! It may have been raining, but we had a really great time anyway! Elder and Sister Osborn were there at the JSM, and it was so great to meet and catch up with them. I missed getting a picture with Elder Osborn. But I will attach the one with Sister Osborn at the JSM!

The baptism was the next day. Jeff was wearing white shirt, tie, blazer and everything! He looked even better in white! I will attach that picture too!
He asked me to baptize him and give the talk on baptism. I was honored to do so. He also had his sister (Melanie- who was just baptized 5 months ago) to give a talk on the Holy Ghost. She did such a great job! She was so proud of Jeff and the decision he made and it really showed! Jeff's mom really felt the spirit during the service and afterwards she talked with me and the new sister (Sister Aeschbacher) and I went to shake her hand and she took my hand and with watering eyes kissed my hand, and thanked me and my companion for helping him so much. She expressed how much of a difference it has made on him! It was so sweet, and we told her more about the book of Mormon and gave her one! She said she would start reading it, and she was there the next day for sacrament mt and gospel principles too! We will hopefully teaching her soon! She is definitely ready! Her other son who is 14 wants to come to church too, so hopefully him too! It was so sweet to see him confirmed too! Jeff asked Brother LaRiviere to do that.

I am so thankful for this gospel, and all the wonderful blessings it brings into our lives! I know it can change us if we let it! It was so great to see the gospel change Jeff and help him become better. He still has a long path ahead, but he is really happy to finally be an official part of it all now!

Thanks for all the prayers for him! I know they helped! I am so glad to have had this so close to my year mark! I will officially have been out 1 year on Thursday June 19th! How crazy is that! haha It goes sooo fast!

Well this marks the end of my time for emails today. I sure love yall!

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday, June 5th

SO yeah, this email time was cut short again, and simply just got to write my parents but I will be sure to have a good email next week. But something I have definatly learned this week is that even when challenges arise, and difficult and horrible situations come into our lives.....It will be okay.... "Everything is okay in the end, if it is not okay, then it's not the end."

I know that is true! So keep the faith everyone, and continue forward with the spirit as your guide!

I love you all!

-Elder Swalberg