Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday, Oct 28th, 2014

Hey yall, So I was transfered, and I just got into my new area here in Vilhena 2 at like 5 in the morning. I had a 1 hour plane ride, and then a 12 hour bus ride to get here! It was crazy, but it looks like a great area. I am here with my new companion Elder Neyra. He is from Peru. He has been out like 6 months I think. But he speaks pretty well. I am here as District Leader. Our district has 3 companionships of Elders. 1 companionship live here close by, they are Vilhena 1, but the other companionship is like waaaaayyyyy far away. But for some reason they are in our district. There are a lot of areas like this that just dont go to district meeting, just zone conference. haha So I will just have 4 in our district meeting. It will be weird, but good to start off. I know I was telling you,Mom and Dad, yesterday in a email that I didnt know how my district would accept me, but they were really cool. The other 3 Elders (including my comp) picked me up this morning, and made lunch there at their house and we had a good time! One is from Argentina, and the other is from here in Brazil. This will be a good experience for me for sure. I still dont speak really well, but not have 3 other Elders in the house who speak English will definately help me learn faster. haha 

Our house is soooooooo much better! Its like 2 times bigger, we actually have real windows, we have newer things, we have a kitchen that will actually work, and a table to even eat on! Our room doesnt have air conditioning, but we have fans, and here its not neeear as hot as Manaus! Becuase we are in a totally different state of Brazil, Rondonia. So our house isnt that hot. I feel like we upgraded like a LOT when I arrived in our house! So yeah, I am pretty happy about that. 

Our Branch here is called Vilhena 3. But the attendance is a lot less than my last branch. We had over 110 every week in my last branch in Cidade Do Leste, but here we had like 37 people attend last week. My comp said its been decresing a lot in the last transfer it had like 65 but yeah, I think this transfer has been really hard on this area. My comp said they didnt have any baptisms last transfer. So I dont know what the problem was but I am ready to hit the pavement and get to work on this area. I want it to really grow this transfer. I know the Lord will help me know what I need to do to make this branch grow, and find the people that are ready for baptism! 

My companion only knows President Castro and so I can already tell he is more humble and is willing to do things the right way. I havent been able to do companionship study or weekly planning with my companion for the last 6 weeeks. My companion didnt want to do it with me. So I did as much as I could alone. like the area book and planning, I had to do alone. But I feel like this transfer will be different and I will be able to have a lot of help from my companion. 

So anyway, I am excited to see what this week will be like. I will be able to tell yall how it goes next Tuesday! Thanks for all the prayers of support. I know they are answered in my behalf! I am so grateful for them! 

I love you all, 

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Oi Tudo Mundo! 

Well hey, this week had been alright. It sure has been tiring though. This heat and hills everyday sure take it out of ya. Those missionaries in the states sure are lucky to have those amazing cars. I didn`t understand how good I had it up there in NHMM. haha But its all good. When I come home socking wet in sweat and my face is all red, I makes me feel like i worked really hard! haha But yeah, we didn`t have any big meetings or anything this week, so we just had some good time for finding and teaching. Our member lessons were pretty low this week, I still haven`t really learned how the best way to work with the members here, because our appointments fall soooooo often. People here just don`t remember, and its really frustrating because I have a hard time inviting members to work with us if we our appointment just falls through. But they really do help us with giving us refferals so I usually try to set up a time that they can come with us, for 2 reasons: to have a member lesson, and finding addresses here is rediculous! haha You have to be really lucky. The streets are crazy and way unorganized. So yeah, its great when we have a member with us! haha 

But we have been working with Fernanda and her family but we still dont have permission from their parents yet to baptize them. They still want to, but Fernanda needs to talk to her dad again she said she would, but I still think she hasn`t. But her dad came with one of our members (Wiener) to the Activity at the church to play soccer, and got to show him the church and everything (I think that was this week...if I said this last week...Im sorry....all the days are mixing together). And then he came by himself with his Fernanda`s uncle to play on Thursday too! IT was so great to see them come by themself. I think they are getting a lot more comfortable, its just going to be the mom that we need to work on. But I think if the Dad comes to church once with his kids he will like it and let them be baptized! We are really hoping it happens this week though, because Elder Fuhriman leaves in one week for home. He really wants to have them baptized because we have been working with them all of this transfer, and they have been ready for baptism for a while now. Its so hard to have to see them wait, especially when they are going to be moving soon! But it will be up to the Lord on this one, we will just do everything we can. 

We have also been helping another young women, Raquel. She is almost 17 and we tried teaching her whole family, but they didnt really show much interest and Raquel was the only one who has come to church with us. She is a lot smarter than the normal Brasilian here in Manaus. you dont find very many like this. She really understands what we teach, and understands the purpose of why she needs to pray to ask if this is true. We had a great experience this past week with her. She explained to us that she had received her answer. She said last week at church it felt way different than her other church. She said it was different, but felt really good. She also tried to explain how she felt when we come to visit, she says she just feels better when we come by, and then expalined that its like she knew us before, but wasnt sure how to explain it. Like we were her brothers was the closest thing she could say it. But yeah, it was really cool to here that she had received an answer through her feelings at church. She knows everything is true she said....but let me tell you the sad news again...her dad wont let her be baptized. I know the parents again. Her dad is set in this other church, and she also is afraid to go against anything her dad says. So yeah, she doesn`t really want to talk to him more about it. But she said, "I promise I will become a Mormon when I am 18" so in like one year. But she has friend here at the church already, and Elder Fuhriman will help her by keeping in contact through facebook with her because he will be home in one week. I really wish she could be baptized too, but its all in the Lords timing. 

But we have also been trying to find as we go from apointment to apointment, and have found some families that we havent met with a second time yet, but we really think will be promissing! Especially those we have found with a list of people our Branch President gave us. It is a list of Lost Members in the branch that no one knows but they had found a new address or number for them, and he gave us this list to try and find them as well to try and get refferals too. Well we have contacted 2 and one was baptized 14 years ago when she was 14 years old, and so doest remember anything and now has a family that we want to teach. She is also willing to come to church. Then another women, we tried didnt end up living there but her step daughter lived there and is married and has 2 younger kids. And so we have an appointment with her and her husband tomorrow to talk more about the church, because they dont really know a whole lot about it, only of it from her step mom. But yeah, it was really great to find these families through this list. Trying to find these people reminds me so much of my work in the states with "owning our ward lists" and really trying to clean them up, and find those lost souls! I am so excited to see if we can find these other people too and find some more families.

Our Mission President, Castro, really is enforcing finding families and men in our mission. Because it is through families and men who can hold the preisthood that the wards and branches here will grow. This is what will really help the church grow here in Brazil! I know my mission president has been called of God through our living day prophet. He is directing this mission not as he thinks it should go, but as the Lord wants it to go. The principles he is trying to beet into the heads of us missionaries here and especially those who had President Kline is the same principles that I learned in my other mission. The mission field has the same standards and spirit where ever you are. Some missionaries here say we dont have to do certain rules because its the Manaus Mission and its just different than others. But what President Castro is helping them see is that the rules don't change, nor the standards for missionaries. The culture and language, and people might be different but this is no exuse for disregaurding rules of the mission. That will always be the same. 

I am getting a little nervous for transfers this next week. We will get a call on Sunday....I have gotten along with Elder Fuhriman pretty well, even though its challenged me, but I really am scared of being placed with my one the Elders here, Elder Glese, the brazillian. He is really disobedient...but with my own companion we haven't needed to be a part of it, but it would really kill me if I was with him all the time,...but more likely he would kill me because he knows I will keep the rules, and it will annoy him to high waters for sure. :/ 

But yeah, just keep me in yalls prayers for this next transfer. I know it will be the Lords will whatever it is, I just want it to be able to work out right so that I can continue to work hard and not have to waste my time. This next transfer will seriously be interesting.(because btw, this whole spliting our area without any instruction and being in the same branch has never really happened here before, according to comp that has been here for 2 years now.) So yeah, I dont really know if 2 companionships will stay here or I will just get a new companion.

Well, until transfers, I look forward to trying to work my hardest and hopefully have a baptism this week! 

I love you all! 
-Elder Swalberg

And this is the one picture I have for this week. This is in the court behind our church building. It is normal used for soccer but has basket ball hoops too. Its like totally enclosed.( I forgot to take pictures of the rest to show it better and of the chapel, but I will try to do that this next week.) We called up a couple youth from the Branch and played soccer this morning at the church with them. It was pretty fun! The boy we are holding up is the son of our branch president! haha 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday , October 13th, 2014

Hey Yall! 

So this week was better than last week, but continues to challange everything in me as the heat never seces There were some really great things that happened this week though! 

To start off, we had Zone Meeting. It was surely different than NH, Manchester Mission Zone Meetings...but yeah, whats new there. haha It was good though. The main theme was obedience. The Zone leaders and the Sister Taining leaders were giving the majority of the training that came from MLC that they had with President Castro. He really only talked about obedience and the proper manner of baptism. President Castro is really laying down the law here on obedience. I have seriously heard of so many Missionaries that are in this mission that are worse obedience wise than my companions (and I only can pray I dont get placed with them). So President has really had his hands full with trying to fix up this mission with its obedience problems and many other things that have gone untreated. I sure feel for him. I feel like he has a big clean up job to do here, and its really going to be hard to clean up, especially when it comes to changing the missionaries! But it was a good training and I know my comps understand that this is only what i have been trying to do the whole time! But do I think they will change imediately...no. haha My companion is about to go home, and he is better than the other 2 so he has already said he has no desire to change anymore. And the other 2 are going to be a hard case to crack but I have already seen small changes in them that signify that are starting to accept the philosophy of our new mission president, not President Klien.

Then we also got to go to the temple after the meeting with our district! It was so great to be there again. My companion comented...after we got home and it was all loud and crazy again like it normally always is...``Ah, the temple was so nice to just have 3 hours of peace and could actually think clearly.`` How true was that comment! It was so nice, and I had a wonderful time and especially because the new film that I saw for the first time in the Boston Temple is now translated into Portuguese and it was showen here. It was great to receive new insites from it this time around! What a spiritual blast it was! haha

So a little bit about the people we are working with right now. Fernanda and Felix both want to be baptized but the parents are home now, and they don't really know our church very well yet and have another church that they attend. So we stopped by multiple times and Fernanda said she thought about baptism and said she wont do it. (the dad was in this conversation) But afterwards Fernanda was able to say to us quickly before we left without her parents hearing that she wants to be baptized still, but her parents won't let her. Aghhh! How frustrating! So anyway we brought a couple in our branch to come and meet them and they are really cool, and help us out a lot. They talked with them and became friends with them quickly, and perposed to have a family night on Friday. So thats what we did! I bought stuff for a cake and VIviana and Weiner (the member couple) made 2 cakes. My comp wanted me to share the message. Here for some reason the smaller lessons or messages with members only one missionary shares the message not together like I have always done with my comps in the states. But its all good, I was happy to share a message. I shared a message on the passage Moroni 10.4-5 and the promise contained that we can receive an answer about not just the book of mormon but ANYTHING....IF we do 3 things...have a sincere heart...have real intent...and faith in Christ. And just talked about each one and what each required. I promised that just as Fernanda came to know this church is true, they can to through this method. Then Viviana bore such a powerful testimony of this church and it was such a humble testimony, as it was coming from someone who didn't even have the money to pay for the cake they made,(hence I bought the stuff). These members dont have much, but what they do have is a strong testimony of this gospel! The spirit was so strong as she bore her witness of how this gospel blesses families and how it has already blessd hers growing up and now with her own family! It was really incredible! And then we had cake and drank Guarana! haha It was really great. They all committed to come to church, but the parents and the Grandmother all backed out sunday morning. We had made plans to do splits and everything to have one of us walk with them and Weiner while the other went to walk with other investigators. We did the splits but like I said they didnt come to church as we hoped. But they still are letting Fernanda and Felix come to church, which is good. But we are going to have to continue to wait for the permission before they can be baptized. But they will be, I know it. The members are really helping with this family! 

The other young boy, Andre, was baptized after church yesterday. He lives with his mother (on the far right) and with his grandpa Antonio (standing to the left of me). Antonio is a Patriarch and is a little crazy, but very wise! It was cool to just walk into his home the couple times we taught Andre there and just felt the spirit there! It was a great baptism, and was glad to be involved with his baptism! 

We are working with some young women right now too, that will hopefully be coming close to baptism soon too. We found a lot of new investigators too that will hopefully work out to be promising also! So I am excited to have this next week ahead of me! We also have found some less actives that havent been to church in a while but are really cool. So we will be trying work with them this week too. 

I really hope this week pans out well. I really tried hard to plan better even when my comp wasnt very excited to do it. But it becoming normal again for him to do it. I know with so much certainty of the blessing of planning. I hope we will start to see those blessing here in this next week! 

And one last thing. So this area is really close the "meeting of the waters" of the Black River (Rio Negro) and the Amazon River. So here in the Manaus Mission boats are used all the time by missionaries for transfers, going to member meals (like in our area) and to get to other cities that are in your area sometimes. So they are approved to use in our mission. So there is a ferry boat that takes people and cars across the large river for free. So today we took a bus just about 20 minutes away and took the boat across the river and back. It took 1 full hour to get from one side to the other! It is soooo huge! But it passes right over the meeting of the waters! It was so cool! We took lots of pictures and videos. It was rainy kind of all day, which was good tempeture wise but the pictures of the meeting of the waters arent as clear as they would be in the sun! But hey it was still sooooo cool! As we crossed the river we even saw dolphins! Some of the elders got some pictures but they were hard to catch coming up. But needless to say it was a fun adventure and something that is a once in a life time! haha Well Hope yall enjoy the pictures and the update this week! 

Amazon River ----- Rio Negro! 

Me- Elder Gardner- Elder Furhiman (my comp) -Elder Glese

I sure appreciate all the prayers and support from each of you! It truely makes all the difference! 

Love yall!

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday, October 6th - General Conference in the Amazon!

Hey yall! 

Im still kickin it here in Manaus! And boy did I need Conference this week! This week was really rough up till conference. I have never "killed a companion" or in other words for those dont understand this missionary term, I have never been the companion of someone for their last transfer before finishing their 2 year mission! I always thought it would be like working your heart out to the end, but I guess there are still different kinds of missionaries. He is very trunky and ready to go home, which makes him a little more laid back and not anxious to go out and work. Its hard, especially when I am trying to keep a good relationship with him because we are so different. Its been tough to know how to help him work as much as we can without frustrating him or being annoying. This week our numbers were not that great. The reality is, I easily could have gotten better numbers in my other mission in New England. And thats not exceptable. There is so much more that we could have done. He doesn't like planning and so thats what I know I need to help him change. If anyone knows me when, I love planning. I like to know what Im doing done to the minute if I can! I always perform much much better when this happens, but I need his support, it cant be carried by just one of us.

Anyway, it doesn't help that the other 2 Elders are even more lazy. Its really pittiful to be honest. Yeah, its hot, but that can't stop us from working, or we wouldn't work at all! haha Everyone's patience has been tried in our house and I am holding it together pretty well, in trying to act in love and kindness to all of the Elders, but there is some definate hostility and arguments that go down between the other 2 Americans and the brazilian. In conference we really received a talk directed to our house. It was in the Saturday Afternoon Session from Elder Scott. He talked about why is it so hard to love one another? But how we really can do so! He talked of simply having kindness and following the Saviors example will solve so many of the problems. I also received many other answers to my questions of how I can develop more christlike attributes, so be able to be more christ like with all people and especially with my companions. One thing I loved was the talks on the sacrament and how they said it needs to be more sacred and holy to us. I know this can be as I take this oppertunity each week to return and report of my week in developing these attributes, and as well repent for where I went wrong and then have the sacred chance to recommit and covenant to be better. 

I am so greatful for the talks that were given that answered so many more of my questions for myself and those I have been thinking about and praying for. I know our leaders are inspired. They are truely chosen by God. They speak his words! 

We watched Conference in our stake center. They had a room for the American missionaries to watch in English. I was so greatful for that. I would have understood a good part of what was said if I watching in Portuguese, but not near what I did in English. Especially because I still feel the spirit a lot more in English. I wish I could had my camera during conference to have taken a picture out the back door of the stake center, it was beautiful view of part of the many amazon forests. Each building here truely stands out in this rural place in the country of Brazil. 

We didnt have a baptism this week and legisticts would have been really difficult anyway with General Conference. But this week I think we will have 3. One is 8 years old but has been attending with and living with a Patriach in our Brach for like 5 months now. He is a good kid. And we will just teach him one more time this week because its a long ways from our house. We have to take a bus. (its close to the member's house that we had to take a conoe to get to) but this house is just the bus and a little walk afterwards. Its a small town called Bela Vista. I will take pictures this time I go. I sucked at pictures this week, my camera was acting funky too. 
And the other two are Fernanda and Felix. Fernanda is 12 years old and her brother is 8. We have been teaching them for like a month now. They attend church with a member who lives on their street. And we are also teaching their grandmother and she wants to be baptized too, but hasnt been able to come to church yet because  she has been tending to her daughter (mother of the kids) who has been in the hospital with cancer. But the good news is that she just arrived home this week. So hopefully we will be able to get the grandmother to church and even start teaching the mother!

So yeah, I hope everything goes to plan this week. Tomorrow we wont be able to do anything. haha We have a zone meeting/training, at 8 in the morning and then afterwards have another oppertunity to go to the temple. I know already get to go again! This will be the last time for this transfer though. But what a blessing this will be. What a spiritual blast I will be able to have with just finishing General Conference also! haha 

Well I think that's all I have for this week! Remember to go back and study those precious words we received this weekend. We get so much more out of these inspired words as we return and ponder over these words again, and again. I can truely testify of that, as I have tried to do exactly that with these last 2 General Conferences. 

I love you all, and hope yall have a great week! 

-Elder Swalberg