Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sanford News - A Step Back in Time

July 31, 2014 - (Thursday since going to the temple...)

(Elder Swalberg swapped p-day to Thursday so they could go to the temple with some members.  This is his email from  a few days ago.)

Hey, so on Monday I was not able to email yall, because we are going to the temple today, and we will be leaving in about 30 minutes. So I still don't have a whole lot of time today, but am really excited to be going down to the temple!

But a few quick updates on how the missionary work is going here in Sanford!

First off Ann is doing really well. She missed church last week though.....she is really struggling with her son in law and daughter right now, because she is not being allowed to be with her grandchildren since they both split up. So she had to do some of that legal stuff Sunday, but we are still meeting with her consistently, and she loves us coming! She has to brake her coffee as her crutch. She is recommitted this week to give it up. She is such a sweet lady, and I love how every time we bring a new member to teach her, they come out saying how sweet and fun she is! I love that. It makes me so much more comfortable leaving before her baptism, because I know the members will be such a support and encouragement to her!

Becky is doing well too! She is finally really reading the Book of Mormon. Last Thursday we decided to just ask if we could do a quick visit with her, and it turned into a great discussion of how the Book of Mormon can be our guide through life and that we can really apply it to us! We read 1 Nephi 2 with her, and helped her get the story line a little better. We just had a lesson with her last night and she has read a few more chapters finally! AND she said, "it is actually a really easy read! There was only one little part I couldn't make sense of, but then I read over it couple more times and I had just missed a word!" That was great to hear! She also came for sacrament meeting on Sunday which was her first time! She loved it! Our relief Society President gave a wonderful talk on the RS manual, "Daughters in My Kingdom" and it was very timely for Becky! She loved it and was very anxious to receive a copy of that book! So yeah, we hope she will continue to read from the Book of Mormon and start to gain her testimony of it!

We also had Zone Conference last week! I wish I could explain everything that we learned, but there is no way I could with the time I have. But the really cool thing was one of the Young Men in our ward Cale Thorton, who is 18 and about to leave for college to Southern Virginia University, came with us to the whole Zone Conference! He loved it and man way that great mission prep! I was thinking the whole time, why didn't I do that with the Elders back home?! Such a great experience to be around so many missionaries, and learn so much!

Step back in time was so great too! We spent a lot of our week helping with that though! We were there part of Thursday evening, Friday morning to late afternoon and practically all of Saturday when it actually took place. I know I sent a bunch of pictures that Sister Davie (the event coordinator from our ward) forwarded me onto you, mom and Dad. And I know there are more on the facebook event and her facebook page too! We even got in the newspaper! Elder Johnston and I are on the front page of the local paper, and another picture where it explains more about the event, and its a picture of us giving a ride to some kids in a handcart! Its pretty cool! I will be getting a copy to send home! haha

Well Its time to go now, so I will have to share more on Monday!

I sure love all yall!

-Elder Swalberg

(Here are a couple of great photos pulling a handcart in the Step Back in Time event)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday July 21, 2014

Well hello there! Sorry I wasn't able to get a real email out last week! it was kind of crazy to say the least! But this week has been really good.

To start off something I didn't get a chance to mention in my last email was last week our mission president put out a mission wide challenge. Of what district could get the most contacts. He challenged us to do at least 10 a day, and this challenge would go till the end of August. A contact was defined as talking to someone you didn't know before, and inviting them to learn. So it is a challenging task, but it has been really good! I would like to share one of my experiences while trying to achieve this goal of 10 contacts a day!

We had just finished up with a member meal, but we only had 30 minutes free until we had to go in for language study. And one thing I have noticed out here in New England is people really don't like you on their door yeah, my whole mission so far, not one person I have tracted into has led to more than 1 follow up lesson. Street contacting on the other side, has seemed to be much more profitable! It is so great, because they are already outside, and it is so much easier to start up a conversation with someone like that. This step back in time even has been wonderful for that as well. So with this 30 minutes we had we decided to go to downtown Springvale (right next to Sanford) and walk down the street and invite people to this event, and try and talk more about the church. Well there was only one man we ended up talking to, and he is about 24 or 25 years old, and is named Colby. Our invitation worked, and were able to talk a little more about him and his family and our church when he explained that his father just passed away a few months ago. We had just taught the plan of Salvation to the member family we were just at, and I explained that same thing to him, and said I felt he needed to know this same message as well. I briefly explained the beautiful promises contained in the plan of Salvation, and he wanted to know more, but because of the lateness of the hour, he asked if we could talk more after our church service on Sunday. We readily agreed and gave him our number too. It was so inspired that we were where we were at for Colby at that time. I know the Lord placed him in our path. Sadly he did not make it to church, but I have full confidence that if he is still ready, the Lord will place him in our path again, or vise versa! As we plan for when and where we will be each day and ask the Lord to place someone in our path, I know he will follow through,...IF we are willing to speak up and talk with everyone. It would have been really easy to walk right passed Colby, but because we stopped him and opened our mouth, the Lord's will was able to come to pass.

We had a wonderful lesson with Ann this Saturday. She was gone all week, but saw here as soon as she came back, and she was able to come to church yesterday too! I was so happy to have her there finally! She loved it and she was greeted by a lot of members! We have brought like 6 men to her home to teach with us, and all of them went up to her and expressed how great it was to see her and how glad she was there! It was so wonderful! She is such a neat lady! Before church started, I got to talk with her about her jewish background a lot, and I know I have a lot more that I can still learn from her! She also speaks French fluently, because she grew up in Paris. She is awesome! I hope it works out that I will be able to see her baptized! I am so excited for her.

One last miracle that I will share regarding Ann. She has been friends with a less active family the Chadbournes for like 7 years! And as she has been taking the lessons and then committed to baptism, the Chadbournes have been so excited, and are starting to talk with the Bishop about a few things so they can get back into the right spiritual stance to come back to church and one of the members in the family, Chris, wants to get ready so that he can fulfill the request of Ann to have him baptize her! How awesome is that!?!?! It can't be said any better than Brother Bently who was teaching Ann and Sister Chadbourne on Saturday night, "That's the Gospel in action right there!" That's sure right! The gospel sure is in action, and its a beautiful thing to see!

I am so lucky to be here in the area at this time! I know my service in this mission was meant to be! I am pretty nervous about Brazil! There is a member, Brother Jones, who served in Sao Paulo 6 years ago, and we  were at his house last night for dinner, and he had me say the prayer over the food in Portuguese, and give the lesson in Portuguese! He said I did pretty good, but he helped me in the lesson multiple times. It will be hard, and he said the first few days will suck, but to just keep going! And until then, I am going to give this mission all I've got!

I sure love you all!

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday, July 14th - Elder Swalberg got his VISA!!! Heading to Brazil!!!

Hello Friends and Family,

Elder Swalberg is going to Brazil!  We had a sweet email conversation with him today.  I have tried to sum up our conversation in this email below so you can have the details too.  Thank you, so much for your support and prayers for Elder Swalberg.

We love you all!
Tonia and Kevin Swalberg


E-mail me back!
-Elder Swalberg

To: Brazil Manaus Mission; Brazil Manaus Mission President; New Hampshire Manchester Mission; New Hampshire Manchester Mission President
Subject: VISA RECEIVED - FINAL Travel Itinerary For SWALBERG/LANDON DEE - 12Aug - YCCOV2
Importance: High
Brazil Manaus Mission – FYI itinerary for arriving missionary

New Hampshire Manchester Mission – the below itinerary is for one of your visa waiters.  Please note they will be traveling in time for the next transfer date of the RECEIVING mission.  A FedEx package containing visa, passport and travel information will be sent out within 2 weeks before traveling.

TEMPORARY MISSION PRESIDENT: Please let the missionary know that they will be attending the Brazil MTC for two weeks per the request below.

At the request of the Brazil Area Presidency, missionaries who have been in a temporary assignment for more than two months will report to the Brazil MTC for a 2-week, intensive language immersion course before reporting to their mission in Brazil. Information will be provided about travel directly to the MTC in this missionary’s travel packet that will be mailed to the mission office.

**The Brazil MTC would also like to remind these missionaries that they will need to bring their Portuguese language training materials that they received at the Provo.

MOM: Oh My Gosh!!!!  I am screaming!!!!!  And Shaking!!!!!  And almost crying!!!!!  I am sooooo excited for you!  Another testimony of prayers and fasting.

ELDER SWALBERG: I know, It has been a crazy week! I haven't known if yall knew or not all week! I found out like 1 hour after I got emails with yall!

MOM: From this email you sent it sounds like you knew last Monday, then?  Is that right, You have known all week?

ELDER SWALBERG: Yeah! I have. They told me I needed to wait till today to let yall know! And they wanted me to be able to do it instead of the office telling yall. So yeah, I’m just glad yall know now. I actually thought yall would have known by now because of the calls you were making to the travels office. But yeah I am writing up the story now in another email, but I think I am going to forgo the normal long email and just talk with you guys and yall can pick and choose what to put on the blog and email out.

Last Monday, after I got off emails, I got a phone call from President Stoker right before we went into a member meal! He told me that I would be leaving on Saturday (July 12)! I totally freaked out! If only I could describe the feelings that were rushing through me at that moment and the following days as I anxiously waited for President Stoker to call me back for travel plans.

DAD: I guess you are being sent there to comfort the Brazilians after their World Cup losses - their final match was against the Netherlands, which they lost 3-0 - definitely no comfort after losing to Germany 7-0!
But now they will be humble and ready to hear the gospel!!!
Love you –

MOM: So at first he told you July 12 instead of Aug. 12... Wow....I am sure you were freaking out.

Yes...we can pull an email together to send out from our emails today.

ELDER SWALBERG: Thanks for doing that!
I was on exchange that night too, out of my area, so I was with Elder Brown, just freaking out all night and the next day. But I couldn’t do anything about it and I knew it would work out, even though I knew I wouldn't be able to talk with yall until Saturday when I was at the airport, and I would have had to pack up everything, and send a bunch of stuff home all in like 2 days, and then head down to the mission home on Friday. But after district meeting on Wednesday, I got a call from President Stoker, and he let me know that the Travels Office changed it up and decided I should stay until transfers and leave on August 12th. So after that I felt so much better! In fact that morning I had prayed about why I needed to go so quickly, when I would be leaving so many things unfinished here in this mission. I felt very discouraged and confused to why this had to happen so crazily! I just wanted one, "normal" transfer after all the difficulties of the first several weeks in Sanford. After I finished my study, I didn't find an answer,...until I opened up to one last scripture. D&C 84: 116-119:

116 Let him trust in me and he shall not be confounded; and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed.
 117 And verily I say unto you, the rest of my servants, go ye forth as your circumstances shall permit, in your several callings, unto the great and notable cities and villages, reproving the world in righteousness of all their unrighteous and ungodly deeds, setting forth clearly and understandingly the desolation of abomination in the last days.
 118 For, with you saith the Lord Almighty, I will rend their kingdoms; I will not only shake the earth, but the starry heavens shall tremble.
 119 For I, the Lord, have put forth my hand to exert the powers of heaven; ye cannot see it now, yet a little while and ye shall see it, and know that I am...

And I did not see it now, but in a little while I did see it that I was not to go so quickly....and I truly do know that He is! That He knows me and knew I really needed to hear that! Even though I didn't know I was not going to be staying longer yet. I was put at ease with this answer. I knew it was His will, and I would be able to see his will soon. I am so glad I have him near me always!

DAD: What a wonderful experience.
I remember that scripture from my mission, ... but it was only verse 116... by an Elder that was going bald (fast) on his mission.

So fun to send out notes to everyone about your visa & travel dates!   It appears that the travel department visit to the Houston consulate really made some progress.

BUT from your note - sounds like you will get to call us from the airport!  (You mentioned that you would have been calling us on Saturday from the airport)   Wahoo!   We will all be in Utah that evening - so we will block that time!

Love you -

ELDER SWALBERG: So after I found out, I was able to calm down. But all of the Elders and Sisters in my district and our Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders thought I was still leaving. But at least I was out of my area for those couple of days, because I would have started going to all of our investigators and members to say bye and have last lessons with them all. Because I wouldn't have even had one Sunday to say goodbye! But not being in my area for those 2 days where I was still thinking I was leaving, was such a tender mercy for me! Especially being with Elder Brown! I love him a lot! He is so great! He is an awesome listener, and a great leader. He and Elder Lund have been by far my favorite District Leaders. Funny that I had them both as Zone leaders too! haha Elder Lund and Elder Chapman even took the extra miles and canceled one of their exchanges to come to our district meeting and see me before last Saturday, when we still thought I was leaving on Saturday! Here is picture of me with them and Elder Brown!

For a going away district meeting, it really was good,...but little did I know a few hours later I would find out I would get to have a few more of district meetings here in this mission!

MOM: Wow! What a neat experience with your prayers and scripture study.  He does know you and is watching over you and is aware of your concerns....I have no doubt about that.  I am happy for you that you have a month to process all of this and work your area as hard as you possibly can for the next four weeks!  Make miracles happen!

ELDER SWALBERG:  You know I will, Mom! I hope I can live up to the expectations you and Dad have for me. And especially my Heavenly Father! I am really happy for the experiences I am having right now and soon will have. It is not at all easy nor will it be getting any easier, but I am still happy. I know these challenges will shape me...Sister Edwards included a quote in one of her past emails that really helped me this past week, by Orson F. Whitney:

"No trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God."

I know this growth that he speaks of here, will be mine as I patiently endure the things I will face as I get accustomed to a new area, mission, country, people, culture, language, food, and living circumstances. I KNOW it won't be easy, but I know it will be worth it, and it is God's will for me!

Thank you for all your prayers and fasting for me out here in this mission and for getting me ready for my other mission in Brazil! I love yall so much!

MOM: Great photos.  That will be fun to have another going away party in Aug.  I hope this last month will be a great on for you as you wrap up this first half of your mission.  I know you will go out strong....doing as much as you possibly can do so you have no regrets when you leave for Brazil.

ELDER SWALBERG: Thanks, Mom and Dad! I will do my best!
I sure love yall!

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday, July 7th

Hey there everyone, I have had a pretty good week, I don't really know where to start so I will just start by going day by day.

So Ann, the lady we found last Saturday that I told yall about last week, we did get to meet with last Monday. And picture the perfect 1st lesson: A member there to teach and testify, she had a desire to learn and accept our message, using the How to begin teaching points, teaching the Restoration, committing them to read and pray about the Book of mormon and Joesph Smith, AND committing to baptism, and she accepted it all! She is a super nice lady! She is Jewish but went to a Catholic School and so is familiar with Christian beliefs and she is even starting to feel the spirit! It was an incredible first lesson. Then she invited us back on Friday and we brought another member, Brother Coombs who is 81, but such a great teacher and helped a lot in our lesson! He related a lot to her because they are in the same age group. But in this second lesson we committed her to baptism on the 8th of August and she accepted. She understood why its important to. That is not common, sadly. She just gets things very quickly. After we finished teaching her about the plan of salvation we asked her what it meant to her to know this plan, and her response was simple but clear that she understood that it was a map to know how to get back to Heavenly Father! It was really sweet. She would have come to church, but she had to be with her grandkids this weekend, but I sure hope she will come next Sunday! We are teaching her again on Tuesday...sadly I will be on exchange, but I hope it goes well! She is such a miracle, and hope she continues to progress like she has been this past week!

Tuesday-Thursday was a little weird because we had to drop off our car at the shop to get some scratches fixed because of some previous missionaries never reporting them. So yeah, I knew that it would need to be fixed, but it wasn't too bad to get it fixed 2 and 1/2 days is a lot better than a whole week like it was up in Damariscotta when we got our car fixed. We were biking mostly everywhere while we didnt have a car. We were going to have a member meal but because they were really busy, Sister Adams called us and wrote down what we liked on our subway sandwiches, and met us on the street we were on and dropped them off to us with some powerade. haha And then we just biked down to a park near by to eat it! She was so sweet to do that for us!

On Wednesday we had district meeting and got to meet the new sister that Sister Achesbacher received. Her name is Sister Innes. She is from Arizona, and is brand new. She is really great though. Those sisters are on fire together! It is really great!

On Thursday I got to take Jeff with us out to eat to get some pizza! It was a lot of fun to be with him in a more casual setting! He is a great guy and in fact got to help with the sacrament this last Sunday. I am sure he will have the chance to bless the sacrament soon!
He drove us to get our car after lunch and we were then back to normal.

On the 4th of July it was raining, so Sanford postponed their parade and fireworks till the next day and it was perfect! Saturday was a BEAUTIFUL day. It was cool and clear in the morning. We live on Main st so the parade went right past our apartment! It was pretty fun to see, and got to talk to some of our neighbors that we thought were potentials. Sadly we felt them out pretty well, and they don't seem all that interested, but it was nice to talk with them as we watched the parade. We also got to Mason Van Gieson's baptism (8yrs old) He was the little boy who gave us that great referral! haha He asked us Elders to be the witnesses and be in his circle! It was really special to do that! And then once we finished language study we got to go with a bunch of members and see the fireworks and have ice cream with them! Sanford put on a pretty good show! I took a little bit of a video, so when I send me SD card home yall can see it! Our ward has a lot of younger families so there were a lot of little kids there, which was really fun! They fireworks are done just down the street from our apartment too! It was pretty great!

Then Sunday was pretty good! Brother Adam's, our Elders Quorum President, was out of town this week, so he called us the day before and asked if we could cover the lesson. We were happy to try and liven up Elder's Quorum. It is usually pretty it was fun to teach! I actually really love teaching classes on Sunday! We taught about the Aaronic Priesthood Duties and Responsibilities, but brought it back to President Eyring's talk from last Conference "The Priesthood Man". It went well! Anyway like I said Ann wasn't able to make it to church but some less active recent converts finally came to church this week, and it was really good to see them! They were baptized when Elder Stallings was here.

But yeah, everything is going well, and I know the Lord is always there to listen to our prayers and fasting only magnifies that! I was watching the restoration during lunch today in Portuguese, but this scripture never stood out to me so much till today and I really love it. Its in the scriptures a few times, but one of the references is Mathew 7:11
"If ye then...know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

If we ask, with faith, and it be righteous, our Father in Heaven will answer our prayers. But I have learned those blessings don't come without much work on our part! So pray hard, and then work hard!
Interesting enough this was on the home page of today:

I hope y'all have an amazing week!

-Elder Swalberg