Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014 - First and Last Christmas in Brazil!

Hey yall!

So this week sure has been great! We have been teaching some great families and also had some great times this week with our members. Especially with our ward mission leader. First off I will talk about 2 investigator families really quickly.

The family that is closest to baptism is Maria and Estefine. I dont know if I already talked about them but Estefine is 14 and lives with her grandmother Maria. They will most likely be baptized this Sunday. But the miracle for them this week was that Jois the mother of Estefine and daughter of Maria came to church this week! We only taught her once, and after that she wasnt able to make it to any of our appointments marked with her. But she went with her daughter and she said she really enjoyed it! They have a great family, and we already know more of their family, and it looks like they will be interested also! The only concern we have for them is that they will be moving to the other side of the city across the river, so it will make it a lot harder to come to church. So prayers that everything will go smoothly and that they can still come to church will really help them!

The other family that is progressing is a couple that arent married...yet...(Carmin and Hélio) and Carmin's daughter Lugiuas. Some of them are traveling right now, but should be back today, and so when we get back we will be able to visit them!

This past week we had a lot of fun with Irmão Neno, our ward mission leader. Tuesday we had the training with the recent converts, and he taught a lesson with us beforehand too. It was great! He is a really great teacher and helps us out a lot in our lessons!
Then after the training, we went with him to a Pizzaria! Here in Brazil they have a type of pizza buffet call Rodizio de Pizza. you pay like 10 dollars and they have guys just come out with different pizzas and they bring it around to every table and give you a slice, and you just keep eating until you cant eat anymore. They all kinds of pizzas, even desert pizzas. My favorite was banana and chocolate! We all ate more than one pizza each! I was so stuffed, but it was so good. It reminded me of CiCís after our backpacking trips as scouts. haha

And then we spent Christmas eve at the house of the president Fransico, the elders quorum president. But irmao neno was there too! They had a bunch of food, and meat. I will attach a photo of Fransico with my comp and their spears of meat. haha

Then for Christmas we had lunch a the branch presidents house, and it was soo good! Lots of food. And then we went to Irmão Neno's house to skype. It was so good to see all my family in the call. I miss yall so much!
But after our amazing call, we had lots of cake, and juice and a few games. It was really a great Christmas!

I am so happy to have had this week to talk with so many people about the gospel. I really learned this year that as a missionary I can really bring Chirst into the homes of everyone here! What a powerful thing that is! I am so greatful for my Savior, and the gift that he is in my life, and what a joy it is to help others receive this gift in its fulness, and reach their full potential!

BTW:  Right now I am actually in Manaus. We travels yesterday afternoon until this morning. We arrived at 7 in the morning and then slept a little. But I think we are going to end our p-day here with Pizza....yeah thats right...Rodizio de Pizza! haha Im excited! haha tomorrow will be Mission Leadership Council with President Castro, and then a happy surprised, we get to attend the temple after the meeting in the evening! I am way excited for that! I love the temple so much!

 Thank you so much for all your love and support.

-Elder Swalberg

P.S. while I was here I got some more letters from Grandpa L. THank you grandpa! and Savanna Llyod, which was so sweet. And Sister Khuyn's package arrived here too. Just wanted to be sure to thank everyone that has sent something, and to confirm that it got here!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - Christmas Conference in Rondonia

Hey everyone!

So this week sure was full of some great stuff! I dont have a whole lot of time today because the internet was really slow today! But I will try to do my best at sharing a little bit and will have pictures attached too!

Well the first thing that was really cool was working with our Ward Mission Leader. I think I commented about how great our leadership is here in this branch already, but really our WML is best of all. We planned a training night with him for 3 recent convert couples, because he had them all called as branch missionaries! EveryTuesday night we are having a trainging class to help them know how to teach the 5 missionary lessons. They will then help us teach our investigators before and after baptism. It was soooo cool to plan it with him, his name is Brother Neno, and then help him with the training. The sisters helped too! It went really well. I also sang with Brother Neno (Joesphs first prayer) as a musical arangement that we put together really quickly. It was really cool! He plays guitar too and sings really well! We will surelly be doing more of this! haha

The work here is going well. We are in the process of cleaning out our pool of investigators and finding a lot. Because they had a lot of investigators that showed a lot of interest, and are families too, but just arent keeping commitments, especially coming to church. So its sad, but at the same time, we know we did everything we could.

We have been preparing a song as a district for the chirstmas zone conference we had yesterday, and so Brother Neno let us use his guitar this week to practice and it was great to have to practice and more so when we have brought it to some of our lessons and members' homes. We have been able to play a christmas hymn in our lessons and to share as our messge at our meals! It really brings the spirit and has been really fun!

The Conference was yesterday, but we left here after lunch on sunday about 3:30 and go there about 10 at night. We had 12 Elders in one apartment that night with only 6 small beds and one hammock. There was really no way I was going to sleep well,...I ended up sleeping on the tile floor, my back didnt feel to well after that night but I did get about 4 hours of sleep. But the conference was really good. We had the training part yesterday morning, and then we had a great lunch at the house of Pres. Quiroz (1st counslor to President Castro) And then we had a gift exchange that we had prepared for. (the first pictures are of me with the gift I recieved from Elder Ryan the other American in our house here in our area, and I drew my own companions name, ahah, so I had made a case for a planner.)  Then we had a slideshow of pictures of the mission in the past year, and then did the talent show. We plan the first noel but Part in Portuguese, part in English and part in Spanish. It turned out really well, and everyone liked it.

While I was there I got to see Elder Bateman again, and Elder Gardner, my MTC Companion who arrived in the mission 1 transfer after I did. It was so good to see him again. I attached a picture of the lunch table after the meal, and then one of me with Bateman and Gardner (Same district, after 1 year and 6 months we were finally all together in the Manaus Mission! haha)

But we left after the talent show and then went to the bus station and waited until our bus arrived, at 10:30 pm. While we waited 6 of us Elders went around walking like last time and we bought Açai, I will send pictures of that in another email here really quick. But then we arrived back in our area today at like 4:30 in the morning, and after we slept for a little bit we had our p-day. But this email ends p-day for this week and now we have a lesson to get to, and then the training again for the recent convert missionaries! Should be another great week! :)

Thanks so much for all the support and prayers!

Love yall!

-Elder Swalberg

The first one is of our district after the talent show.

2. Our Zone, Ji-Paraná

3. Me and Elder Neyra, with our Açai (my last companion in Vilhena)

4. Us 6 Elders eating our Açia (left to right-Elder Chime, Machacca, Munhoz--my companion--, Elder Fericin, Neyra, and Me) 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 - Already my 3rd Area in Brazil!

Hey everyone!

Yeah, if you can't believe that I am already in my third area here in Brazil just think of what I am thinking! I was not expecting this at all! I will expain a little bit about our week and then about the transfer!

It was a really great week in Vilhena! We had the Zone Leaders from Jí Parraná come down to do exchanges with us. It was 6 hour trip for them....yeah exchanges are a little different here in the Manaus mission...haha. But it was really great! Elder Pablo and Elder Munhoz are our Zone Leaders who came down. I went with Elder Pablo. He is super super cool! They spent the whole day Tuesday with us and had 2 solid plans for both companionships in our area! It was awesome to get so much done in one day too! We found 3 new investigators, and got to teach almost all of our investigators, and some less actives. 

The next day I gave a training during district meeting with the Zone Leaders on chapter 8 of  PMG. It had to do a lot with what Elder Aidukaitis of the seventy spoke to us about. I think it went really well. I have really enjoyed serving as District Leader. It has given me a chance to use what I already know from my mission in the states and apply it here. I get to share a lot of my experiences that I have already had. It has really helped me see that I didnt really restart my mission...that my Heavenly Father really prepared me to be ready to serve and share what I know to help other missionaries and my areas. 

Cassia is doing really well. She has been working a ton this week so 2 appointments were canceled but she the members already are supporting her really well,  and are always asking about her! Thats when you know you did your job right as a missionary, when the first thing the members ask you is about how one of your investigators is doing! Its so great! One lesson we had with her was in the morning, and as we left she was like, "Im so sorry I didnt make some coffee or something for you, but I dont drink coffee so I dont have any in my house." Little did she know, this was just one more reason to explain how prepared she is for the gospel. This week she accepted all of the commandments and committed to live them. She can see her life changing and she knows its the right path. 

So about the transfer....Friday afternoon, we went to lunch at a memers home like normal, and was a perfectly normal lunch and we were heading out the door when we got a call from the Assistants, (transfer calls arent normally until Sunday here, but it was about transfers. I had my companion answer while I finished talking with the members, but Elder Neyra answered and they wanted to talk to me. Elder Meio answered the phone and said, "Hey Elder Swalberg, Im calling about transfers. Congrats, Elder, you will be transfered from your area to serve as Zone Leader in Jí Parraná. You will be companions with Elder Munhoz! And Elder Neyra will stay in Vilhena and receive a new companion to replace you as district leader." Once again, I couldn't believe it and thought there was a mistake. I only had 6 freaking weeks here! I was kind of pissed like last time too! ¨6 weeks is just too short! I was sure I was going to stay, because my comp already had more time than me and my last area was only 1 transfer too. But like I said last transfer, Transfer Pridictions are ALWAYS opposite of what you think they will be. And let me tell you, this was definately the opposite of what I was thinking would happen. But of course I still accepted, and was then intructed on my travel plans.

I left Saturday at 9 (the next day) in the evening. So at least I had time to go around and say goodbye to a lot of the people here and take pictures. I will share a few with yall. It was so sad, especially with a name like SWALBERG here in Brazil, no will remember me very well. But I just hope Cassia remembers me! I am so sad I will not be here for her Baptism. She will be baptized here really soon, but I wont be able to see it. But I got to pass by and see her and a few others saturday afternoon. 

It was really sad and everyone was so surprised, but it is what it is. I was all packed up and a member brought me to the bus station and I met up with Elder Carmargos who was also being transfered out of Vilhena to a area way in Manaus. I arrived in my new area at 3 in the morning, and got off the bus to switch places with my Zone Leader, Elder Pablo that i just was with 3 days prior. haha Their ride took me back to our house and we went to sleep. But we have 2 sets of elders here in the same house. Me and my companion, ZLs, and one other set of elders here, all in the same branch too. We also have a set of sisters in the branch. but live way on the other side of town. But our house is a lot bigger than the one I had in Manaus, so it will work a lot better. It is waaayyyy dirty, but I already made some good progress since I arrived. I am a little scard to attack the bathroom, but after I finish up in the kitchen, it is next. BLAH! 4 Elders in the same house makes for a dirty house really quick, and if they dont clean it just gets worse and worse. Its really a good house, its just been trashed by Elders who dont know how to keep up on cleaning! Story of my life for the past year and a half! haha But besides that and the ubundance of cockroachs, our house is pretty good. Still way better than my first house in Manaus! 

But our brach is way cool I had Sunday here already so it was way cool to know the branch and everything already! We have some great leaders here, and I am excited to work with them! There is a lot of potential here! 

But yeah, thats all I have for this week! I will be able to share more about the work here after experiencing the first week here. But here are a few photos from my last beloved area in Vilhena. 

Love you all! 

-Elder Swalberg

:) I sure love Vilhena. If I return anywhere here in Brazil I want to visit here! 
Wendy and her family....Wendy is in the middle in Blue, and her sister to the left is a member, Breyla. 
 We did service the morning that I left for this sister, Irmã Vera! She is really sweet. But if I look really red in the face in the other pictures it is because we were doing service and it was really sunny, and I got burnt! haha

 Cassia and us
 a young man, Lyncoln who is super cool. (14 years old)

and my companion Elder Neyra and me at the bus station as I left Saturday night. 


Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday, Dec 1, 2014

Oi, bom tarde!

Well this week has been really good! To start off I have to tell yall about an investigator that we started teaching this week that is so awesome! 
Her name is Cassia. We met Cassia about 4 weeks ago. We were just walking down the street and a younger lady stopped us after we passed by her and said, "hey wait! Are you mormons?" And we responded "Yeah, have you met with Elders before?" thinking it was a former investigator, but she responded saying no, but that a lot of members of her family are members of the church, and she just moved back up here from São Paulo. She promissed her brother that she would make a visit in the chapel her in Vilhena once she got settled down, but she couldnt find it. So obviously we explained that it was not far away at all. She was excited to know, and said she would make a visit in 2 weeks. FAST FORWARD 2 WEEKS.....She came to church! But because we have sacrament meeting last here, we didnt see her, because we were in Preisthood. She thought that church was only for 1 hour so she left after Relief Society before we could catch her! It was so depressing, But I called her later that day and asked if we could visit her and share with her a little more about the church. She graciously accepted and marked it for the next Saturday, as it was the only time she could meet with us. But come Saturday 30 minutes before our appointment we were trying to find her house. She didnt have a number of her house, just the road and the discription of where it was. But we could not find it. We tried calling like 100 times and she didnt answer her phone. We probably asked 15 people that live on that road if they knew a Cassia that live close by. No one knew her. After looking up and down this big street for almost an hour, we decided to call it quits.

 The next day she called us back...what had happened was she thought we were coming 7 oclock in the morning, and we thought at night! We felt so stupid but we marked it for Monday evening (One week ago) after our p-day. We told her we were having trouble finding her, she described it again to us but still had trouble finding her! But this time we invited a sister of the branch to join us that talked with her in Relief Society that day she came, and she is one of the Counselors in the presidency. Then without us knowing she invited the president of the relief society too. So with them we found Cassia's house and got to know her a little better. She is about 28 years old has a 7 year old daughter, and its just them that live together here. She is super sweet and again she explained to us about her family in São Paulo that are members.

Then we started to the lesson. It went so well, we were able to switch off teaching different principles and have both of these wonderful sisters testify and explain so clearly as they could speak the language and relate to her even better than we could. We got to the part about the Book of Mormon and challenged her to read it she accepted but really had a lot of questions of how she would receive her answer. Both my companion, and these 2 sisters gave thier stories of conversion and how they received their own answers. It was really powerful and it helped her realized that each one of us is different, and receive our answer different. She felt good about it and said she would read and pray, and this included praying about the date we set with her for Dec 7th. for baptism. She said if she receives her answer, she would be baptized. The spirit was really strong, and I know it was because we had members with us! What a powerful spirit they were able to bring to our lesson, and I don't think they even recognize that! But we had her give the closing prayer, she wasnt confortable with it, but because we followed the pattern of having a kneeling prayer, she did it. It wasnt perfect, but it was soooo good! It was sincere! 

But in this past week we have met with her 2 other times and she came to church yesterday for ALL 3 hours! Not just the first one! haha But she is doing so well. The second time we came over she said she had read, and that she had called her brother, who has 19 years, and asked how he recieved his answer about the book of Mormon and baptism. And then she asked him what she should do, and he replied, "Do what they asked, pray. But really, sincerely pray to know!" What a good brother right?!?! It was so cool she said she has been praying and that she feels good about everything, but that she wants to keep reading and praying. She did exactly that and read all of the introductions, testimonies, etc. by the next time we visited her. She said she had a hard day the day before we came. She also explained that she often feels really alone, and that its really hard for her sometimes. But she said that night she said a prayer asking for help and to know the right path, and she said she heard a little voice whisper to her saying, "My daughter, be calm. I am with you, and continue strong." (Thats the best translation I can give, its not exactly what she said) But she sarted to cry as she said it. Elder Neyra testified that Heavenly Father is reaching out to her and answering her prayers. That he is really there for each one of us, and testified that this is the right path that she is starting to walk. She then gave the closing prayer, kneeling again, and mentioned baptism for the first time in her prayer. She is really progressing well, and starting to know how the spirit can talk to her! 

Well I didnt know I was going to share that much about her, but you can just imagine how excited we are about her! We hope all will go well this week too to prepare her for baptism. Its not super firm for this week, but if not this week next week for sure! 

But in other news, President Casto came to Vilhena. It is a long trip down here and so it not very often that members here get visits from leaders of the church. Our 2 Branches here are not even part of a district. They are part of the Manaus Brazil Mission. So President Castro holds the keys to proside over our 2 branches here. So he came to train the leadership, preisthood brotheren, and hold a Branch Conference for both wards! It was really cool!

We also had interviews with President Castro. It was a lot faster than my interviews with President Stoker in my other mission. It was still good, but I still miss my very personal and spiritual interviews with President Stoker, starting with a kneeling prayer, and ending with a prayer by him pleading the Lord for success on my behalf, followed by one of the warmest, sincere hugs you could imagine! But even though we just ended with a handshake with President Castro I could still see the love and felt the sincere support and trust he has in me. It was really good! 

I wish I could explain more about what I learned with President here, but a lot of what he talked about will be applied to the missionary work here, and so I hope to talk about how things are will change in the right direction in my future letters! 

But I know that my Mission President is inspired by God, He as well as I put full trust in the Prophet and leadership of this church, Which really leads to trust in our savoir Jesus Christ! I know he lives and guides this church and especially this work, because it is HIS work! 

I love yall! 

-Elder Swalberg

PS Photos arent working this week again. I will try agian next week!