Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday, January 26th 2015

Hey yall!

So I have an American companion again! Elder Pothier, from Mesa Arizona. This is his first transfer as Zone Leader, but just has one transfer less in the mission than me. And he actually served in Manchester New Hampshire Mission for a little bit. But he got his visa after just four weeks. But its still cool! haha He is really great! He works hard, and will be another great companion! I really think we will be friends after the mission!

We got into our area this Tuesday, and that day we started with the area book and got all of the names and addresses all organized in our planners and planned out how we would get to pass by them all this past week because they were so spread out and we have such a big area. We have split the city in half using the river. So for now we have the one side of the river without the church its a little further for a lot of things. But we still have a lot our side. We have gotten to know a lot of people this week. The sisters didnt have any dates marked for baptism yet so we tryed to go to all the people and see where they sat with every, and a lot of them just arent willing to keep commitments. So some we have already cut, but some really want to keep trying, but just arent ready to commit to baptism.

Elder Munhoz and I also had part of this area before the sisters left, so I had some of our people to teach. Lurdes and Josias and their family lives on our side. So we are still helping them too. But we also had a full day on Friday and took 3 hours just for contacting and teaching. We made a goal of trying to teach a lesson to every person we  talk to. Just to start teaching. And it worked! We taught like 15 lessons that day in total! We got a lot of return visits marked! It was cool!

I have noticed something really interesting this last week in how my mind set has really changed in finding people. Before, I would look at people and try to think of them as an investigator and always had a part of me hestitate every time I talked to someone, but now that I have the mind set of baptizing families, its so different. When I see a family walking down the street, or playing in front of thier house, I dont even have to think, I just WANT to talk to them! It has become so natural. For example this Saturday we walking in rain for a while to a far part of our area for 2 appointments that we marked early that week,  and we got there and both of them fell through, and I started to get really bummed out, and I was like "Elder, did we really just walk all the way out here in the rain for nothing?" He said something positive like "Maybe it was for us to be tested, it was for our salvation..." But I was still thinking,...there still must be some one else out here that the Lord is prepared for us" (Because we had started a fast the night before for success in our appointments and new investigators) So we were leaving that same road and I looked to my left and saw this little 3-4 year old boy on his house porch and just turned and was like, "Here!" I then asked the boy if his Dad was home, and then saw his dad was on the other side of the fence, and he envited us in quickly and we talked for a little while and found out he already knows some of the members in our branch, and worked with one of the young men from the branch that is now serving a mission. It was so cool! Then we asked if his wife was home, and she then joined us. We taught them the first lesson together, and they were very receptive and welcomed us back! We will be visiting them again on Thursday! But what a great family we found just because we saw a little boy and thought...FAMILY! haha Its a great mentality to have. A similar thing happened the day before, and we will visit them agian on Thursday too! Its so cool! This way of finding is so effective, and the way that has been prepared for us! I know that focusing on families is such a priority of the Lord in this work!

Well our week was already short with trying to plan and get to know the area, but them we also missed sunday in our own branch this week. We have MLC this week in Manaus, so we left at midnight on Saturday, and then arrived in Porto Velho at like 6:30 and then went to part of church there with President Quiroz (first counselor in the mission presidency). He was the one that picked us up and then drove us around to church and then to the airport where we met up with the other Elders and sisters that were flying out of Porto Velho to Manaus. We got in Manaus at like 2 pm and then just hung out at the mission office with a bunch of the missionaries there, and then went to the apartment there for everyone to sleep. But I wasted a lot of money on food last time I came for MLC because you have to buy all of your food for like 4-5 days, and so its like eating out every meal. So Elder Pothier and I made some food at our apt in Ji Parana to save some money. We made Banana Bread and Brownies, which have been super good to have to snack on with the other few things we have bought!

But yeah tomorrow will be the actual meeting, and then afterwards we get to go to the temple again! I am so stoked! We will get back Wednesday at like 9 at night in our own area again! haha

But the other new thing is I have decided to extend my mission. I never thought I would do this, as its been really hard for me here in Brazil. But I have prayed and studied a lot to know the Lords will and its what I need to do! So now I will get home on June 30th!

Love yall!

-Elder Swalberg

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday, January 19th 2015

Man, I just can´t seem to keep a companion more than 6 weeks here in Brazil! Transfers came already! I dont know where the time went! I felt like this transfer just started here! But at least Im not being transfered again. But things are surely changing still here in Ji Parana. First off, my companion Elder Munhoz is leaving, and I will receive a new comp tomorrow, who is an American. This is his first transfer as Zone Leader so I called to be ZL-1 now. The other Elders will stay, but the sisters were both transfered and their area closed. So now we have a bunch more area! They lived on the other side of the river and worked that side of the town, but now I and my new companion with work thier area and just keep a small part of our old area next to the chapel. So today I will be packing up my stuff to move to the house where the sisters were living. And the other Elders will stay there in the same house. I am sure excited for the new challenges ahead of me here this transfers. We will have to get used to this area pretty fast because the sisters left investigators, RC, and less actives that we need to learn where they live and get to know them. And not loose the momentum of the sisters here. My only worry is loosing someone in this process. But I am ready to hit it hard and get all organized with a new area.

But this week was a great week to end with. On Monday we watched the baptism of Yuri, the son of Brother Neno. And then had a big party at their house! There was so much food, BBQ, veggies, rice, and much more...with a bunch of Coca-Cola! A BUNCH! I never drank so much coke in my life! Then had cake! It was fun, and then we went to the Bus station and left to Cacoal that night.

We had planned to stay there just Tuesday, but it was raining, and we felt like if we stayed one more day we could help the Elders there a lot more. The next day turned out to be really great! We started out in the morning helping them make a progress record of all the members they had there in Cacoal, because it is just a Group there. It was really good to do. We made a list of problems they had with their area, and then made a solution list. They came up with some great ideas! So I hope everything they came up with will come into action. But it will also help us follow up better with them, because we really know how it is there. But after that little planning session, the weather was a lot better and worked a bunch! Taught a lot of people and found a lot too! I really like Cacoal. It was cool to visit! It is very similiar to Ji Parana. Its only 2 hours on the bus to arrive there. But its got a lot more florest around the city. The Elders there said they saw quite a few monkeys there in Cacoal! I wanted to see one really badly, but I didnt see one! But we will be visiting there again this transfers for exchanges again, so it will give me another chance! haha But yeah we left on Wednesday and got back about Midnight in Ji Parana again. It was great exchange.

But because we were in Cacoal our work here was really rushed the end of this week. Because we marked a baptismal date with Josias (Fiancé of Lurdes) for this Sunday 18th. So we visited every night and he still accepted the date, and really understood that this is a step of faith not a perfect understanding. He is a little timid and quiet, but really humble and a neat guy. He passed the interview, and was baptized yesterday after church! He completed a family fully baptized! Woo hoo! It was so sweet to see! I got to baptize him, and it was so neat after the baptism to talk to him as he explained that he never had a intrest in being baptized and going to church until now. But he said that he was talking to Lurdes that he feels like he can always trust her in their relationship because of her commitments she has made with God through baptism and going to church, and he said,  "I want her to feel the same way with me and so i know this is right. I feel good about this." It was really cool! I confirmed Lurdes during sacrament meeting too and Elder Munhoz confirmed Gabriel. It was a great day to end the transfer with Elder Munhoz!!

I sure will miss Elder Munhoz! He is my favorite companion here in Brazil! I learned so much with him. He sure is a funny goofy Brazilian, that I became really close with! We had a lot of good times laughing, and also eating açai! haha, Saturday night we all ate Açai together for the last time! haha But I am so excited for this next transfer to find more families that are ready for this gospel too! And help these new converts grow and develop their testimonies more and more!

This gospel is so great, and blesses families so much! I am so grateful that my family was blessed with this gospel, to now share it with other families! I know the only way my future family will succed is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ! What a blessing it is to have it restored here in our day!

Love yall! And have an amazing week! :)

-Elder Swalberg


-Munhoz and I with the Cocoal Elders before we returned to our area,

-Us 4 Elders eating Açai for the last time with E. Munhoz!

-Munhoz and I with Irmão Neno and his son at his baptism!


-Baptism on Sunday of Josias, (Me, Lurdes, Josias, E. Munhoz)
    >He really is a happy guy, this pictures just doesnt show it...haha These two sure are great! :) 


Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday, January 12th 2015

Hey yall!

This week sure was great! It started out with all of our zone together!
We had 10 Elders in our house together! And it just so happened that we were without water that night! I cant tell yall how many times we have gone without water in our house this transfer! We have gone more than a week in total without water. The longest stretch was for 4 days! It really makes a lot of things difficult! Like washing laundry, cleaning our dishes, keeping our bathroom clean, and most important taking a shower! But through this trail I have developed a new talent,...of taking a shower with just a bucket of water and a cup. haha after all these days without water...I think I can take a shower with just about 2 liters of water! haha No joke!

But besides that, we really did have a great training! Elder Munhoz and I were able to cover everything we wanted to, and it went a little long, but we knew this was our one chance to really resolve doubts or problems with the whole zone present. So we were able to show how the zone was really struggling...we always have new investigators and people coming to church, but not many baptismal dates and baptisms! This training really gave everyone a wake up call! A little shock to everyone! We showed them the goal of the mission after we covered everything and showed it down to how many people our zone specifically needs to baptize each week to help the mission hit its goal. It is 7 baptisms a week with 2 being men, and having 1 family baptized! Thats a lot to expect for a zone that hasnt even hit that in the last transfer and this transfer put together! BUT,...we when forget the statistics, and look at what the Lord has set for us we don't have to worry. Just as Elder Holland explained in his last talk, God is not preoccupied with percentages. Speaking of what a journalist writing about Mother Terica, said:

"Soberly, the journalist concluded that Christianity is obviously not a statistical endeavor. He reasoned that if there would be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety and nine who need no repentance, then apparently God is not overly preoccupied with percentages."

In the same manner God is not worried about what has happened in the past but what we can accomplish in the future. A quote from President Castro that I like is "The future is always clean!" I know this goal is possible for our zone and for our specific area, with God's help.

I am happy to say our time was well spent the rest of the week! We worked practically every day with Lurdes (woops I had been spelling her name wrong but its said in english like Lurges) and Gabriel. They were baptized yesterday! This week we had a lot of special experiences with them! First of all we were teaching them about the comandments and then she would then explain that she is already living in harmony with those commandments, and also as we taught about each one she bore her testimony with specific blessings that happened in relation to obeying these commandments. For example the sabath day and not working on sunday. She has her own hair salon, and she used to work every day including sunday and was always super busy with her work and never really had much of a break to spead time at church or with her family during the rest of the week, and still didnt see that much money coming from it. But then felt that she should pray about what she should do in this busy situation and how she could provide better for her family and she imediately received an answer. She said "I jsut felt strongly that I should work anymore on Sunday. I had faith and I did as He told me to do and didnt work Sundays. Ever since then I have been a lot less busy and been able to relax with my family and I see the same amount of money and more. I never fall short of my family's needs! The Lord has really blessed me with that answer he gave me." WOW! Seriously all of the commandments were like that, word or wisdom, law of tithing and the best was law of chastity. We didnt know this until this last week but she is engaged to her boyfriend and have plans to be married this next month. But she knew it was not right to live together until after marriage! So they are living seperately right now and will married in Feburary! All of this was before we even showed up in their house to share these messages with them! How amazing huh! But we have met her boyfriend and started teaching him and he accepted a baptismal date for this next sunday. He is really humble and likes what he has already heard. Yesterday he went to church and saw the baptism of Lurdes and Gabriel. It was so special to see them baptized. Our district leader did the interviews obviously and Gabriel really likes him so he asked him to do the baptism, and my comp, Elder Munhoz baptized Lurdes. And during the program Brother Neno and I sang "Joesph Smith's First Prayer" together as a musical number. It was really cool!
I think everything will go right for the Josias, the boyfriend, to be baptized after church next week, but we will see. If not this week it will be the following for sure! But we will be leaving today for Cacoal for an exchange so we will loose part of our week yeah we will sure try!

But really this week was great! And we are seeing a lot of miracles happen here! Great families to be teaching!

Love yall!
-Elder Swalberg

Here a few photos from this past week.

one of the baptism

other 2 are from the training this week (our zone and with my comp!) 

And the last one is of today at the church building playing a cards with our district as we made cookies! (for some reason no one knows how to make cookies here, so everyone wants to learn how so it was fun to teach everyone and of course eat them!) 

Friday, January 9, 2015

January 5, 2015 - Feliz Ano NOVO!

Hey, Hey, HEY! Its 2015! Happy new year ya'll!

I hope this last week has been great for everyone, because it sure was for me!

Last week I was writing yall from Manaus, but since then a lot sure has happened, and I am out of that heat now too! haha

But after P-day we had our Mission Leadership Counsel on Tuesday, Elder Munhoz said it usually goes a lot longer than it did, but this time it was pretty quick! We started about 9:20 and ended at about 1;30. It was really quick, we covered everything before we even ate lunch!

But the things we covered were so great! We talked a lot of goals, and how the mission numbers have really been going down. Everyone gave their input of what they thought was the problem. We then talked about how our examples will be the only way we can change this trend. We need to follow up more with our missionaries in our zone! There was a lot more said concerning this but there is no way I could share it all.

But the other topic that President Casto focused on was our potential as missionaries here in this Mission. And that we are living below our potential. Our potential is to find 2 families every day, and to baptize a family every week! Thats a high standard huh?! And I still remember my emails I sent home when I got here in Brazil about how wrong I thought it was to say that every companionship should baptized every week. But I had been hearing this from missionaries, but being there in leadership counsel helped me understand this standard more clearly. Prior to President Castro, the leaders were carrying this information to the other missionaries in a distrorted form. The leaders took this standard of baptize every week as "do whatever it takes to baptize", and this is where the apostisy came in, but it was really the liders inturpreting everything wrong.

But now I understand. Here in this blessed land, the standard is higher, because the Lord really has more people here that are ready to receive these blessings. This is not the standard of the missionaries or mission President, but truely the Lords will. I know I can work harder and more effectively to find more families and baptize more frequently, and if the Lords will is that I can baptize every week, I will do everything to do so!

He taught us to that we should be discomfortable if we arent finding 2 families every day. It is so possible to find these families, we just have to have to be praying for it, and working towards this as our goal everyday with everything we've got, and the Lord always does the rest!

So the training really was really good, and I have really raised my vision and goals for myself!

But after the meeting we had lunch provided for us, and then had a bus to bring everyone to the Manaus Temple! It was so great to go back there. It is so beautiful there! I love it! I was able to understand a ton more too! We got into the 4:30 session and so afterwards I also got to do some initiatories as well! What a great experience to remember the great blessing promised me as I live worthy of the covenants I made there in the temple. I even did the work of some name there in the United States! haha It was great! What a special time it was to be there in the temple, and even after the intiatories, I got to just sit in one of the hallways and read my patriachial blessing and ponder about a few things that it talks about. Its amazing how much clearer my blessing has become during my mission. I can see how the Lord is really helping me shape my life in the way he wants me to! What a neat realization it is to see that everytime I reread my blessing!

Then the next day, we took our plane to Porto Velho, Rondonia. And then were waiting for our bus for a while to return to Ji-Paraná. We got back around 9:40 at our house. It was a long day of traveling. But it was New Years Eve too. So we had the other Elders in our house buy 4 liters of Coke-Cola, and Brother Neno brought over a container of food from their party for us and another 2 liters of coke haha! So we had our own little party in our house, and stayed up past 1 playing cards, eating, and drinking coke! haha it was a lot of fun! We have some great Elders here in this house so its been really fun to live with 4 Elders in the same house, and we actually have space for 4 Elders so that makes a big difference too! haha

New Years Day, we did a bunch of service. We helped our Elders Qouram President, Brother Fransico, with distroying some old brick walls that are part of an old house he bought and will restore to live in. Brother Neno helped us too. Afterwards Bro, Fransico let us shower at his other house to then rush off to an appointment that was close by, but his wife has just made homemade bread, so we got to eat some homemade bread first! It was so good! It reminded me so much of coming home from a long day at school and work and Mom had made dinner or homemade bread, and I would just open the door and I could just smell it all imediately! It was pretty great!

But our visits were really helping Maria and Estefine. They have moved to the other side of the city and now it is really difficult to visit them but before they moved, we had a lesson to confirm their baptism this last sunday, but Maria was really hesitant and said she wanted to wait a little longer and make sure this is what she wants to do. But after we kept pushing to mark another date, she blurted out, "Okay, I have to tell you the truth." ..."I know you two are really diciples of Chirst and I can't hide this anymore, I wont lie to yall. I dont feel ready for baptism because I still have a relationship that is resolved with a man that I used to live with for 10 years. I left him 2 years ago, and but he sometims still comes to stay here. And I know what we are doing is not right as we aren't married. I know he is holding me back, and he drinks a lot, but he has the rights to keep our son. So its hard to just end it all with him, because I wont see my son as much." We were so glad she opened up to us about this, she continued to explain that she had be talking to her daughter, the mother of Estephine, about this and She told Maria too that she needs to tell us this, that she cant hide this from us if she wants to be honest and walk this path correctly. What a great experience it was to see that she understood our purpose, and now we can truely adjust our teaching to help her. She has prayed about it since and I think she knows she needs to end things with him, its just a matter of her doing it now. But yesterday we were very direct with her about not procrastinating the day of our repentance (Alma 34:32-34). And she clearly got the message. We have to be really clear and direct with our investigators or they will not understand fully. That is a lesson I am learning very clearly here this transfer, and Elder Munhoz is really helping me do that! As soon as this issue is resolved they will both be baptized and the sisters are teaching another son of Maria, that we reffered them too! I have great hopes for this family!

Also Carmin and Helio are still trying to decided on whether they need to seperate or get married. They just arent willing to talk to each other about it! But the daughter of Carmin Lurgess and one of Lurgess's sons (Gabriel 11 years old) will be baptized this week! Lurgess is really great! She understands the Book of Mormon so well, and this week she told us she knows its true and testifies of the Bible. She went to church with her 2 sons (the other son is 6 yrs old) for the second time yesterday! It was great! We also taught her the Word of wisdom, chastity, and Tithing with a member yesterday and when we committed her to live them all, she was already living them! She had no problems with the Word of wisdom not even coffee! And she already pays tithing on everything she makes. We asked her at the begining what she thought what tithing meant and she explianed it as giving back the Lord's Money. She said, "Its not my money, so I when I get my paycheck I take it out immediately, and dont even think of it as part of my paycheck, because it is God's not mine!" How cool is that! She is really great. We are excited for her!

Well, that really wrapps it all up for this week. We have all of our zone her in Ji-Paraná today. The 4 Elders from Vilhena, and 2 from Cacoal got here this morning for our Zone Meeting tomorrow. We will be giving the training tomorrow concerning the things that were giving to us our meeting in Manaus with President. It will be really good!

We will have some great things happen this week for sure! Im loooking forward to it!

But I sure hope that everyone is doing great and has made some great goals for this next year, I know I sure have! With the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can change anything we want to become better! (Ether 12:27)

Love you all! :D

-Elder Swalberg

Here with Elder Bateman to my left and other Zone Leaders and STLs  at another Pizzaria the night before MLC. If was fun! My comp hid behind me..looser! lol

The Manaus Temple with the Nativity still up! 

A little blury, but me with Elder Munhoz after the temple.

One of the Elders (Elder Thompson) fell asleep as we were waiting for our flight leaving Manaus! haha