Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday, Sept 22nd - Catch Up Email from Elder Swalberg

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 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!

Elder Swalberg

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