Hey Mom and Dad! I feel like I have sucked so badly at keeping yall up to date on my mission since I have been here. Sadly without being able to send home letters very quickly, or packages with my sd card full of pictures and vlogs...it is really hard to keep yall up to date.But know i am trying! really quickly I will tell you about my birthdayday becacause I forgot to talk about it last Monday. It was really great. I havent received the package yet. I have heard some missionaries dont get packages for 3-5 months in this mission,. But I think I will get it soon because I am one of the areas closer to the mission office, so I have more chances to recieve mail. But yeah a lot of missionaries say that their parents are already sending package for chirstmas! But once I get package yall already sent we will get a better idea of how long it really takes. I got a letter from Grandpa Landon about 1 or 2 weeks ago, at Zone conference! It was awesome to still get a letter from him even though Im not sharing his mission with him anymore. Those letters he sent me will forever be a treasure to me as we were able to talk of our missions together. I cant wait to talk more with him when I get home! But oh yeah,...my birthday. It was sunday so here in this mission if you want investigators at church you have to walk to each house before church and wake them up/ remind them of church. Im not a fan of getting to church all sweaty after walking up and down and all over our area for an hour and a half, but like dad said in his last email, I just need to learn how to use the "Manaus Super-Sickle 2014" Its going to be tiring at first because I dont have the rythem down yet, but I will get the hang of it. But yeah, church was good, still dont understand everything, but the gospel setting helps me understand more, because that is the majority of my vocabulary. After church we had a great Almoço with the president of the Relief Society, and when they found out it was my birthday they invited us to come back in the evening and have cake! Yeah, they made an amazing cake and had Fanta too. It was so sweet of them. We also stopped by another member, and they just happened to invite us back in an hour or so for cake too,,,,but they didnt even know it was my birthday! haha It was kind of funny, because once we started eating Elder Fuhriman told them and they were excited and happy they could share cake with me on my birthday. Cake is a VERY common desert here. Because they can make it pretty cheap but its great too! Everyone makes cake here. There are a lot of bakeries too. you can pretty much buy fresh breads in every store you see. But yeah the cake was really good. But we also taught. We taught a family that was a referal from a young women in our branch. It was our first time teaching them, but we connected with them really well. and were able to teach them all the restoration and about the book of mormon. It was just the kids that we taught but their ages ranged from 11-20 (6 of them) The cool part was I think this was the first time I have ever really felt the gift of tounges work through me. It was only for one part of the lesson. My companion finished teaching the apostasy and left me to teach the Restoration , the first vision. I struggled for the right words leading up to the exact words of the first vision, but once I starting to say the words of Joesph that I knew so well, the spirit came in. I got goosebumps as I finished his words, and then paused and began to testify that what he saw was true, and that he was then called to be a prophet to restore Christ's church. As I was trying to think of the words to say, I was saying the right words before I could think them. In fact as I thought the words I was simply confirming what I already said was right. As I spoke I knew the Spirit was speaking through me, and it was not my words. It was a great experience! Sadly we have not been able to teach the whole family all together again, but even if they arent baptized it increased my faith and testimony of the spirit and the power in the words of Joesph Smith.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
SO hey there everyone!
I am sorry I haven't been able to email very much this past couple of weeks. It has really sucked to not have the time to do it because there is so much to talk about. Literally everything has changed so I will do my best at cutting to the chase and talk about the things that are probably most interesting. First, a lot of y'all have asked about the weather and the landscape. So the weather here in Manaus does differ day to day..."hot"...."very hot"....or "I'M GOING TO FREAKING DIE ITS SO HOT!!!!!!!" haha But its basically true. When it rains, the cloud cover gives us a little cool down and a little breeze, but this time of year we don't have a lot of rain, I hear after October they get rain almost everyday! But it still rains this time of year too, just not as much. We have a lot of forest around the city. There are a lot of houses around us though, because we are kind of in the city. But our area is pretty big and the farther out parts have less houses and more rain forest! We have a lot of hills but no mountains. But often times these hills feel like mountains when climbing them all day. Literally, we have sooooo many freaking hills! Its pretty annoying if we don't plan well and have to go back and forth and up and down hills all day. But sometimes it just has to be that way.
So now a little about my situation now after 1 week from transfers. When I arrived here in this area, I was sure I would stick with my comp for another transfer because if he left this would mean I would have only had 2 weeks in this area and still not speak the language very well. But when we got the call Sunday night (they always happen Sunday afternoon or evening) they told me that I would stay here and be Senior Companion AND receive another companionship into our area...and our house! Okay, so I was a little wrong with my guess...and when I got my companion I found out he only has 1 transfer left in his mission! At which point I questioned my mission president´s decision even more! I was so not ready for this! But somehow my Heavenly Father thought otherwise.
SO now I have a new companion Elder F, from West Jordan, Utah (23 months into mission) And in the other companionship I have Elder G, from Snowflake, Arizona ( 15 months into the mission) and his companion Elder G, from São Paulo, Brazil (15 months also...and also speaks English). I have 1 word to describe them all....INSANE! Literally. I know the Lord wanted me to learn patience this transfer...and I"m learning quickly. These Elders are really immature, especially in the house. But it's when we are in the houses of members and they are fighting over the serving spoon to serve themselves first, talking about every girl they pass by, and speak about them in English as they pass by them and think it's really funny cause they don't understand, and poke each other or try to make the others laugh during prayers at the members houses too. Things like that are what bug me most. I can just ignore it when its in our house but it's really embarrassing in public with members. At first they didn´t like me a whole lot...because I was a party pooper, not fun, a robot,...but its simply because I had a mission that taught me to be exactly obedient...here you can ask any missionary and they will say there aren't really any rules here. I know missionaries do things here in this mission that are enough to have them sent home in my other mission. Its stupid things too! Its not just my other mission policies they brake here, its straight out of the white handbook for missionaries! So this is why they were so frustrated with me, because I was trying to be obedient and not be lazy. Well needless to say, I prayed a lot this last week, and studied a lot! It wasn't until this past Friday that I got an answer that has helped me start to work with this trial. I was praying and studying for about 20 minutes and then Elder G came out and talked to me, he was simply the spokesman for them and pretty much laid it out that I have been frustrating them because I didn´t talk that much and was "a robot". But as I explained how I had been feeling about leaving my mission to here everything is different. He could understand because he served in New York for 3 or 4 transfers before he came here. But he began to explain that this mission is relaxed but at the same time we are to baptize every week! I don't get it! We get way more baptisms here but we teach less. My companion in almost 2 years has taught the plan of salvation 5 times! ONLY 5 times! They pretty much teach the first lesson...baptism....if they want to be baptized they teach the commandments really fast...or if they don't want to be baptized, they don't visit them anymore. This is what has happened from the actions of President K (Previous Mission President who left in July). My opinion of him is not really high. He made it so important to his missionaries that they need to baptize that that's all they talk to people about! Literally the first thing Elder G did when he met someone at an activity at our chapel was say, "Hey, are you baptized in this church?" Before he even asked their name, and if they weren't a member he would ask do you want to go to the kingdom of heaven? Then you need to be baptized. That's what we do. We help people get baptized!" Sometimes they throw in, "if you don't you will go to Hell." also. Pretty loving right?!
But luckily, we have an amazing President, President Castro (New mission president as of July), who is set on fixing this problem. We had a zone conference with him this last week and he really laid down the law. He spoke very boldly to us about when we don't teach all the lessons or they aren't worthy and we still baptize them, it is Apostasy against the church, and the condemnation will be upon them. He said, if we don't baptize every week, it doesn't matter! What matters is if we are helping them prepare to be worthy and ready for baptism. This is still a fast- paced mission and baptisms happen quickly, but I know this is what I needed.
But I kind of got off track. After I talked with Elder G I prayed again, and I found an answer in D&C that helped me know that I need to let my old mission go. I learned a lot and I will apply a lot to what I need to do here. but this is a different mission and I need to learn from my companion specifically. I need to be happy. Heavenly Father wants me to be happy! So I have been really trying and I have been happy. My comp is way more cool with me and they don't have problems with me. And now my goal isn't to be focused on all the rules but to be focused on do I have the spirit! I have found this to be exactly what I needed! I know my Heavenly Father is there for me!
This is all I have time for today.! I love you all so much!
Monday, September 8, 2014
Hey mom, and Dad!
Thank you both for your letters. Mom was right, about your example of what i was talking about the baptisms happening so quickly and feeling like they werent ready. Dad I really appreciate your examples and explination of the spirit world being such a incredible tool that Heavenly Father uses to make all things that are unfair here fair in the world to come. I was pondering about how unfair it really is here. The way that I grew up, I had it so easy and thats why I can live the gospel the way that I am. I had the gospel from day one, and had leaders in the church who were in the church from day one, I have you both and my grandparents who have had the gospel since day one. All of my family and most of my friends have been strong good examples of the gospel. Yet here it is rough, and the gospel is new and not fully devoloped as the United states is. They have enough and still have great leaders, but not the amount of help I received. They just don´t have the kind of experience that allows them to live the gospel to its fullest. So my point is, your explianation of the spirit world helped me understand that even if they dont understand how to live the gospel to the fullest in this life they will have at least made the covenants here and then have the potential and capability to live it more fully there in the spirit world. So yeah, thank you so much. And I really love hearing about your missions mom and dad. If you ever think of an experience of your mission. I would always love to hear about it! I recognized in my mission that I feel like I dont really know much at all about yalls missions! haha
And thanks for the package in advance! haha. sorry i wasn´t able to give suggestions, I totally forgot until afterwards becuase I was trying to answer all the other questions yall had about my area. Yall are pretty good about reading my mind anyway. haha
And mom to your questions:
The mission home is pretty close to us, because we are in one of the Manaus City areas...we have to take a bus to get there, but we didn´t end up getting to go to the temple this week,,so for sure this week and if so...depending on when we go, I might get the letter. But Im not really sure how often we get mail distributed out. But it will get to me soon enough! haha Thanks again.
And yes we are supposed to still have an hour of language study each day, but we are only getting regular studies in like 5 days a week. Which I really don´t like but my comp says that 5 days is pretty good in his experience. I need my personal study though, to get me through the day. So if I can help it, we have it. But our language studies have been reading in the Book of mormon in portuguese to english and it is to help me and also my comp learn some english. He wants to learn.
And on avagage we teach like 3-4 lessons a day...but my comp says this is pretty low. He talks a lot with people before the lesson so we are usually doing a lesson for over an hour....I have a hard time starting and ending lessons becuase I am not fully involved in the conversations yet and its hard to know when a good time is to start when you don´t fully understand what they are saying. But I am going to work on that. Because we need to be teaching like 7-8 lessons a day. It wouldn´t be hard here if we have shorter lessons.
And on avarage how many miles do I walk a day....i dont really know.....a lot? haha Im sure it seems like a lot more because of how much we sweat and there are so many hills but probably at least 6-8 miles on avarage. I really don´t know. I wish I had one of those trackers on me to know how much I walked each day...it would be interesting to know for sure! haha
The chapel is like 1 and a half miles away from our place I think (all approximation and there is a big hill to get there so maybe its only a mile) and the place we email from is this like computer room that is open to the public for like 50cents (in US money) an hour. (or R$5 for 5 hours) You have like a litte account and sign in everytime so you can just add more time to your account by paying them a little more. And this place is inbetween our house and the chapel. So its not too bad. And no laundry mats don´t exist here. haha I was so spoiled in the states. But we do have this washer like thing that everyone has. It looks like a washed but it really just sokes our cloeths with soap and spins and then rinces them again for us to then take out and dry. If we want our collers to look desent we need to scrup them by hand and them wash them. But we have it here in our appartment so thats nice. But yeah that is how everyone does it here.
Ah and to help yall understand how the meals work, every day for each month we have a meal except for p-day. But sometimes (like last week) we do. But here, they dont really have dinner. They sometimes have breakfast....like bread and some juice, coffee, or a chocolate like drink, and then at 12:00 they have Almoço (lunch) and this is their big meal to sit down as a family and eat together, and dinner like I said they dont really have they are still full from almoço until like 7 or 8, they have lanche which means a snack. So we have Almoço with a member every day of the week and they are surprising way easy going about vegetarianism. I am really glad because of the switch over to meat and meat in a country like this I think could have really negetively effected my health. But I always have pletty to eat. We normally have rice and beans at every meal, and a speghetti dish called Macarrão. And often a salad or some other dish I can eat. OH and I cant forget Guarana! I probably have had Guarana every day sometimes 2-3 times a day since I got here! Its like the soda that everyone drinks and wants all the time. So many elders are like addicted to it! Everyone offers it to us so I havent been able to keep up my no soda goal that I had going for like 3 years, but its a sacrifice for the culture and people here! haha I like it though! haha
well I think thats it, and I don´t have time to send out a email to everyone else again. Sorry. I think next week I will try. But because everything is so new I just have too much to share every week. But I hope yall feel like you are getting to know a the things you want to know about my mission here. I am sad that I wont be able to send my sd card home as often as I used to, but I am still taking pictures and videos that I hope yall will enjoy. Here are a few that I took this past week.
The first one was of me after we took a 15 minute walk to the bus an 45 minute wiat for the bus, where after we road for 20 minutes to a stop where we walked down another 10 minutes to a river bank where a son of the family we were having lunch with picked us up in their large canoe/boat thing you can see part of it. And yeah the 11 year old boy made me get on this stiraphome thing to take a picture. haha it was fun
the second was while on exchange and there was a great view of the river! ]
the third is of a tree.....with a sloth in it! hahaha you cant really see it but it was just like 1 minute walk from our house in the tree. We saw it there the next day too! It was pretty sweet!
And lastly we had a baptism this saturday that went a lot better than the previous week. his name is Daniel and he looks like 18 but is only 13! haha but was so prepared. we met him like my 2nd day her through a member of our branch. Our ward mission leader actaully. (our wml is only 20 years old and was baptized 5months ago. haha) But yeah, he wants to be a missionary some day too. He went out and bought new pants, white shirt, tie and shoes for church! he looked great yesterday and was confirmed. So it was super fast, but I will do everything I can to help these recent converts receive the lessons a second time and then help them stay active. I know this was something I did a lot in my other mission that I think this mission lacks. There focus is Baptism baptism BAPTISM! and there isnt really a lot of talk about less actives and only a little of recent converts. President Klien i think really drilled this into every missionary that they need to baptize every week! And if they don´t they are successful missionaries. And so this one of the biggest reasons toooonnns of children are baptized here and get lost because the families aren´t there to support them! So yeah, I hope that I can help get a consistant and immediate plan for helping RCs receive the lessons again and get taken care of. (btw the home teaching and visiting teaching sucks here. like 2 families do it, and that is another reason there are so many lost members here.) But anyway I didnt mean to get off track with this picture....but yeah Daniel is pretty sweet and asked me to baptism. first one in portuguese. It went well. :)
Well I think thats all I can share this week! I hope to share more and in a more organized manner like usual next week.
But I sure love you both and thank you for all your prayers. It is still really tough here and I miss my other mission and home like crazy but I am really trying my best to be happy to be here and help as much as i can. It was a real treat to hear from yall today. Thank you for your advice and encouragement, It really means everything to me, and I apply it.
Until next week!
love your son,
Sunday, September 7, 2014
This is the best place to send packages/ letters - of course for letters, you can always email to firstname.lastname@example.org
ELDER LANDON SWALBERG
Brazil Manaus Mission
Rua Loris Cordovil, 1066
69042-010 Manaus - AM
Monday, September 1, 2014
We finally heard from Elder Swalberg, now that he is in the Manaus Mission. I have compiled an email of our email conversation with him. He started by answering questions we had for him about his stay in the Brazil MTC.
Elder Swalberg: Man it seems like its been forever since I have been able to email yall! I know yall gave me a lot of questions to answer so here i go!
First off I am certainly in Manaus, Brazil! And this keyboard is a little different because im here in brazil, so please forgive my spelling and mistakes!
So the Brazil MTC was great! I learned a lot! And I wish I had a few more weeks there actually! But I knew I needed to get into the field so I could get to work! But no, it was really great. I loved my district, and really fun to be there with elder Batemon and Hargrove! Love them both! We really did do a lot there! One of the things as you asked about was go out proselyting in Sao Paulo! Twice actually! The first time was pretty scary as we were sent out to hand out 4 copies of the BOM in 1 hour. but the second time we handed out 4 in like 30 minutes! People here, just want to know! Way different than New England! I know this is going to take some getting used to for sure! But it was way cool!
We surely did have the great honor of having Elder Holland address us at the MTC! It was amazing. All the missionaries and the teachers were able to attend! (oh and there were probably like 350-400 missionaries there in the MTC.) He gave a powerful talk, as usual, about the purpose of missionaries! It was amazing! We were all able to shake his hand while he was there too! It was such an honor to feel of his love in person as he shook each one of our hands! After the devotional (12:00) he ate lunch at the mtc too. As we were going down at our assigned time to eat our lunch we ran into Elder Holland coming down the stairs after lunch, and he walked the rest of the way to the cafeteria with us and talked with us! At first saw us and said, "oh hey there Elders! How are you!?" and continued "Well come on, keep walking with us." And he literally was talking with me. He said Elder Batemon and I looked like twins...I didn´t think so much HEY I do now because Elder Holland just said so! It was only for about a minute that we talked with him, but what a tender mercy it was to run into him like that! :)
Oh and the temple! It was awesome! I LOVED it! It was the campinus brazil temple because the sao paulo temple was closed for some reason. they bussed us like an hour and a half to go to the temple! Pretty cool huh? And yeah it was all in Portuguese. but I also had earphones in english. I only used them a little bit, but they had someone to do the viel in English! That was nice. I loved being in the Celestial Room, everytime I am there I receive the answers I need! And here in Manaus (if you are in the city) we get to go to the temple once every 2 weeks! I think we get to go this week! I am so excited!
Mom: What was your transfer like from the MTC to the Manaus Mission? Was it on Tuesday?
Elder Swalberg: To answer your question about transfers here. I have been here since Tuesday and spent most of the day with the mission pres and his wife. They gave us lunch and they had lots to brief us on about the mission. I have my own money card now! haha no longer do i have to get it from my companion. we get R$ 160 every 15 days or half a month. which is like 70 dollars in us money. It seems like things arent really cheaper here. And we have to use the bus if we need to go out of our area so that adds cost to our monthly money too. But it works out. But back to transfers....we are in week 5 of the transfers. There were 3 of us coming to manaus and so they emergency tansfered some elders, and opened a new area to make receiving 3 elders work.
Mom: What area are you in?
Elder Swalberg: We are in Manaus, but there a lot of little cities that make up manaus. We live in a city called Castanhera. But our area is called Cidade do Leste. This is our ward name too. But my comp says our stake is "Solimoes".
Mom: Lds.org has Cidade do Leste
Elder Swalberg: woops my bad. you are right, i keep forgeting that it is a branch. They have a really big branch, just not enough preisthood brethren for a ward.
Mom: Will you be walking/biking? I pulled up your area on satellite view on google maps. There are a ton of houses..... Hardly any cars on the roads.
Elder Swalberg: There are lots of buses! Most people don´t have cars. Motors (like dirtbikes/motorcycles) are really common though, but most people walk everywhere or us the bus. We will always walk! I already got a blister on my foot the other day. I have baby feet after being in a states mission with a car for so long! haha
There are a loooootttt of hills though! Its a workout! Im so glad for the body I have to physically be able to do this!
Mom: Who is your companion? Where is he from?
Elder Swalberg: My companion is Elder Araoz. He is from Argentina, does´t speak English, only spanish and Portuguese. But he is trying to learn English now though. haha But he is a convert of 7 years. He found the church at 15 and is the only member of the church in his family. He has been out for a little over a year, and is a great missionary. He has trained a few times already so he is really patient with the fact that I can´t speak super well. We do pretty well at communicating though. Sometimes its like a game of trying to discribe or act out a word until he can tell me what it means. haha Its kind of funny, but it works! Its crazy how we can comunicate and do things together when I don´t really even speak either of his languages. He is a great companion and im blessed to have him. He knows the area really well because he has been here for 5 months now! Which means he will probably stay here with me for the remaining of the this transfer and then next and then we will leave.....which means I need to really get to know the area, the investigators, members, oh yeah...AND THE LANGUAGE! But as you can tell, Im not stressed at all.... ;p
Mom: What is your address? Is it best to send packages/mail to the Mission Office Address?
Elder Swalberg: it is much better to send it to the mission office address. (WE WILL POST THIS ADDRESS ON HIS FACEBOOK PAGE AND BLOG)
Mom: How is your apartment?
Elder Swalberg: Yeah, our apartment is okay. My comp says its probably the better of the 3 he has had. We have running water for washing dishes, hands and showering, but yeah we have big jugs of water (like the Mawhinneys have always had.) our building is its own place with a litte porch where we have rope strung to hang our clothes after drying. and a litte area ( I would say a small yard 10 by10 but its all dirt so not really a yard but we can use it for exercise or what not.) in front that is gated in with a door and then a cement wall. All houses here are either all cement (like ours), a rough and not super sturdy brick, or cheap wood. Our floors are different in each room. Either a smooth cement, brick. or tile. we have tile in the study room, bathroom, and bedroom. In the bedroom we have an air conditioning unit. It can’t cool the whole apartment, but when we sleep we can close the door and it actually gets really cold at night. last night i woke up freezing and had to trun it down! So that is such a blessing to have. so no, i don’t need to buy a fan.
Mom: How are you holding up in a new country – different language – different culture? We are praying for you to be strengthened in your trials!
Elder Swalberg: thank you for all yall wrote me about the family! I am glad taylor and zach are doing well. And it was great to hear of all the details about them! Thank you so much. I hope I helped yall get a better idea of what I am doing now. I want yall to know that this is very stressful, but I really am happy. Its hard sometimes, its really hard sometimes, but somehow each night when the day is over I am just fine! The Lord really takes care of me, he never fails. So yeah I want you to know that and you don´t have to worry.
And yeah, that kind of explains how I’m doing with all these new things. I thought my mission was going to start leveling out in its difficulty right about this time into my mission, but the way things turned out this is the hardest thing I have done in my life! I am literally putting everything I have in the Lord’s hands because I simply couldn´t be holding up right now without him. I am so glad I have a strong relationship with him, because it’s the one thing that isn´t foreign to me! I am really trying to stay grateful...not for things..but in my circumstance. I read Elder Uchtdorf’s talk from this past conference another time this morning while we were on the bus....we had to go out of our area for something but hard to explain why....and it really was what i needed. I had already been trying to do this but this helped me see it all put together. I am in no shape or form comfortable, or relaxed. I really can´t understand anyone but a few people that speak clearly, and still have to ask them a lot of questions to be able to answer their questions they ask me. It is so frustrating I can not even explain it! What makes it worse for me is the fact that here, the missionary work is sped up times 10. We have already had one baptism in the 6 days i have been here, and have 2 more this saturday. One of which we just met last wednesday! We dont even get to know them before they are baptised. I get that these people are ready, but I don´t think they really know what they are doing....like honestly the girl we baptised this last saturday I am almost certain that she won’t stay active. You might say that this is lack of faith...but it’s the truth! There are sooooo many inactive members because of missionaries baptizing people like crazy just because they said they will be baptized. Like my comp said one missionary a while back baptized 27 people in one day! At least my companion somewhat understands and makes sure they receive all the lessons but for some weird reason he has permission to do the interviews for our investigators. Weird right? So idk. I have a great zone leader from Collyville, Texas that called me the 3rd night in the mission and said in English "look man, I just want you to know I am here for you if you need anything. I remember when I was new to the mission. I didnt have anyone and it was really annoying that no one reached out to me, and I was really frustrated a lot with so much stuff. So if you ever need to just talk about something, if you just are freaking tired of speaking Portuguese, just call me,k?" His name is Elder Thomas and I cant tell you how much that meant to me! He said he would set up an exchange for us to do this week so we could talk more. So I will ask for his help on understanding how to do the work here and still help these people understand what they are doing when they get baptized.
Sorry that was really long, but this has really been bothering me and is just another thing that I am struggling with here. But I am praying a lot and hopefully I will have a chance to go to the temple this week too and pray about all this there too!
I love you all so much and will talk to you more next week!