Saturday, November 8, 2014

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Wow, so I have a lot ot talk about. Like I said in my last email, I am in Vilhena, Rondonia. It is literally a whole different world comparied to where I was in Manaus! 

To start off, the weather! I can honestly say, I didn't sweat for the first time I have been here in the Brazil Manaus mission! We were walking around normally like any other day, but it was all cloud cover and was sooo nice. All the members of our branch said they were cold. Like we were at a brothers house last night and normally the men dont wear shirts when they are at the house. But last night he went inside and came back out with a turtle neck shirt on! haha It was so funny! But I was just in heaven. It was like a beautiful Fall day in Texas. I have loved it here for is climate alone! But dont get me wrong this is their warmer season, so it does get hot. yesterday was a strange day. But our days still dont compare anything to what it is like in Manaus! 

The hills no longer exist! Here its just flat, just like Texas. Its been wonderful. At this point I dont care how far we have to walk because its normally nice outside and always flat. So different than my other area. I am so grateful for that! Although it does rain like everyday just after lunch. Almost without fail. But everyone here knows it just happens like this every year starting about this time until like March or april. But we bought some umprellas the other day to always keep with us, so the rain won't slow down our working hours. 

But the branch here is great! We dont have near the size of our last branch in Cidade do Leste (but like ive said that branch should be ward). Normally they have about 40 poeple in sacrament meeting. There are some good families and have a great branch president that has a daughter out on a mission right now, who will be coming home soon. We had a Holloween Party on the 30th at the church building. Halloween isnt really celebrated here, really its like everyone knows about it but only some people put on parties for it. So itsnt not like the states at all. But they decorated a room all up and they all dressed up, and had a little dance thing with sweets and snacks. we just passed by, but ended up getting to meet with the Branch President about some less actives we could pass by. It was a great little meeting we had with him. But another interesting thing here is the chapel is a lot smaller here. I did take a picture of the last chapel we had and will attach it to this email, and once I get new batteries for my camera I will take a picture of the chapel here. Its really like a side market/building with a bunch of deviders to make all of the rooms. But its a chapel nonetheless! haha We still get AlmoƧo (lunch) everyday from the members and its great here too! We are so blessed by the members here in this mission! 

My comp has been great to work with. He knows less Portuguese than I thought, so its kind of harder than it was with Elder Aroaz.But Elder Neyra understands really well, so that is a huge blessing in our teaching and working with the members. But the hard part is the small talk for me. Especially cause he isnt really good at it either. Small talk and getting to know people for the first time, is like one of the greatest missionary skills every. Because its what gains trust and comfort of the person you are talking with. It was so easy to do in English, but has been one of my weaknesses here trying to do it Portuguese. But I guess its the lord giving me an opertunity to practice because my comp cant do it all himself. haha

But he is from a city a few hours south of Lima, in Peru. He is a convert of like 7 years. He joined the church at 14 when missionaries were looking for his less active grandmother who had been a member for quite some time andjust didnt go to church anymore. But he was the only one home when the missionaries were looking for her, and he said 2 weeks later he was baptized. He was not active for a long while but just last year (2013) he started coming back and his Bishop helped him get out on a mission. He is definately greatful for being out here. He is 21, and this is his 4th transfer. So he was trained, and then had last transfer here inthis area, and now with me. So he is pretty new. But its been good cause he is really humble. And I have been able to finally have someone to plan and study with again. Its been nice. 

But this area, has been struggling. It has only had 1 baptism in the last 2 transfers here. Only 1. Thats about what I was doing in my other mission, but the people here are so much more receptive, so that is really low! They slacked off a lot, and my comp said he couldnt really do much about it. But we really worked hard this week to do out best. I still think we can really improve, but we really didn't have more than 3 or 4 people in our teaching pool when I got here, and all of them have a stubbling block that they can't get over yet. So I have been really thinking of how we could change this area, and my thoughts have been brought back to the many hours of studying and discussing this same topic of how to find those who are prepared, in my other mission. And I was really getting the grove down of talking to everyone and seeing great results from it. And in my studies today I was really trying to understand how I can best apply what I learned there to this area here. Because despite my efforts to work really hard last week, we still dont have any baptismal dates, and our member lessons weren't that great either. ANd I want that to change more than anything. So I am going to try so hard to apply eveything that I found successful so far to this area. It is sure going to put me out of my comfort zone, but I want this more than staying comfortable. 

I will share one like miracle that I saw this week. we were walking around town on main street and it has this section in the middle of the road with a sidewalk and what not for poeple walk and ride there bikes and stay out of the road. Well we werent really doning anything and just decided to go to one of our appoinments a little early. But then we past this women carrying groceries and it seemed kind of heavy for her. I kept walking thinking that she wouldn't understand me and not accept our help. But the thought was still in my head,...and i couldnt let it go. I slowed down but kept walking, trying to think of how to say what I wanted to say in Portuguese. And then my comp noticed I was slowing down and turned around to ask me something but I then just said to him, "We need to help that lady" and I turned around to then see her bending over with the bags on the ground trying to readjust them as they were obviously too heavy for her. I went up to here and said "Exuse me, but we are Missionaries, and we aren't doing anything right now, can we please help you?" She looked suprised and hesitated at our offer to walk all the way to here home with her. But she complied and was just so grateful, and said "God is just always looking out for us, you two are such a blessing." We ended up meeting her brother who she introduced us too, and his family, and said a little prayer for him as he had broken his leg pretty badly recently. And said we could come back and so did the lady we helped. Her name is Allysi (I think thats how its spelled). But yeah, I don't know how promising those people will be as investigators, but one thing I do know. That was certainly a prompting from the Holy Ghost to stop and help that women. I am so grateful the spirit was consistant on working on me, because I know I would have regreted it later. I always think of President Monson when I think of acting on Promptings of the spirit. He is always so quick to respond, and never ignores promptings and thats how I want to be. 

In preach My Gospel is says in the begining of Chapter 4 "You will succeed in your work as you learn to receive and follow personal revelation".. I know that this applies not just to missionary work but to every phase of life. We can be successful at anything if we but learn how to receive and follow the subtle promptings of the holy ghost from our Heavenly Father strait to us. What a gift it is when we get to be an instrument in the lords hands. 

I know I still have much to learn for the Lord to trust me with more promptings, but I challenge each of you, as I too try, to continue to look for who the Lord has put in your path to touch. Its easy when we can obviously see they need help, its when we cant see it that we know we have know the spirits voice!

I look forward to working hard again this week, and thank you for your support and love! 

Love yall! 
-Elder Swalberg  

2 of these pictures are of our chapel from the front in my last area. It really was big chapel. 

the other picture is of Raquel, the young women who we were working with who's dad wouldn't let her be baptized yet. But She will be once she is 18 she said! This was the Sunday evening before I left my last area. 

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