Monday, June 22, 2015

Megan Fox

Hey folks!

This week was great. On Tuesday we finally got a member to come out with us on a lesson! We've been trying since I got here to do that. It was cool how much of a difference it made. President calls member-present lessons the "silver bullet," and it's true. Having a normal person bear testimony with us is so powerful. And it is so much easier for investigators to come to church when they know people and have friends there. And seeing people who live the gospel really helps them to want it. People at home: ask the missionaries how you can be involved in missionary work! It makes a huge difference to have a member present in a lesson, or to have a lesson with an investigator in a member's home, or to teach people that are already friends with a member. Anything you can do will be hugely appreciated and will bring you huge blessings. There is literally no greater work than this. :)

After the lesson we chased chicks (as in baby chickens, not girls, relax Mom). The member we went with keeps chickens and a bunch of the baby chickens escaped from their coop, so he had us help him catch them and put them back. It was one of the funnest and funniest things I've done so far out here. Chickens are really stupid and really fast. And really stupid.

Wednesday was zone conference! And we got iPads! :) I loved the conference, we talked about really good stuff, and almost none of it was about what we can do with the iPads. Our purpose and the work we do remain unchanged. We are not an "iPad mission." Our purpose is still to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We just have a powerful new tool to help us do that.

Wednesday I also did my first companion exchange. I went with elder Larson, the district leader. It was really refreshing and I learned a lot. And elder Larson is cool and fun. :) He's my age, he's from Pleasant Grove, he likes a lot of the same music as me, and I can't shake this weird feeling that I know him from somewhere even though we haven't met.

I don't remember what days we did this other stuff so I'll just spout it in whatever order.

Last week I forgot to mention that the branch president's wife fed us banana pudding for dessert and it was amazing. So far it's the only way I actually like bananas, besides banana bread.

We had another lesson with Ronnie this week, and he gave me a guitar! It was super sweet of him. But it's kind of gross and it's missing a tuning peg and it smells like cigarette smoke so I might just pawn it for some money to buy a slightly nicer one. Also, logic does not work with him at all. Like, I seriously don't get how his thought process works. And he doesn't believe that smoking causes cancer... We decided to just drop that one. :P But he does believe the Book of Mormon is true! He just doesn't believe this is the only true church, he still won't pray, and he's just confusing.

We're teaching a guy named Austin, the son of two less active members in the branch. He is awesome. He's our age and super golden. He reads everything we give him, he believes the Book of Mormon is true, he wants to get baptized... We love Austin. And he's a good cook too. He's turning his life around after some bad life decisions, and he's been studying religions, and he likes the Bible and the Book of Mormon best of anything he's read. It's so great to see how much Christ can change us if we'll come to Him and let Him.

Also met a less active member named Brother Dodson. We were planning to try to catch his wife at home, but we ended up catching him instead, and we had a really great discussion. I think the Spirit meant for us to visit him. He said it made his day, and I know it made mine. He has a powerful testimony of the Atonement and of how much God cares about us and is involved in our lives. One thing he said that I really liked was when he was telling us why he hasn't been to church very much. He is an EMT and he works 24 hour long shifts, and he gets off Sunday mornings a couple hours before Church. He is usually exhausted and disgusting and doesn't have time to shower or change. I was thinking that if anyone has a good reason to not be there it's probably him. But then he said that every time he doesn't go, he knows he is making an excuse. That it's always a conscious decision to go home instead of going to Church. And afterwards elder Merrill and I were talking about the stories we hear of faithful saints in third world countries who walk for hours every week just to go to church. Rarely, if ever, is there a legitimate reason to justify inactivity in the Church. If it means a lot to you, you will find a way to go; if it doesn't, you will find an excuse not to. It's your choice.

We helped two different families move this week. One was a non member family in the area. They had a HUGE safe that we had to help move. Like 800-1200 pounds. Luckily we had a bunch of really strong people, but other than that we just had a couple of those tilty-wheely furniture moving things and some straps. It was pretty scary sometimes. The other family are members moving into the branch (yay!).

More random observations about Tennessee: there seems to be a mass tooth shortage. Although there is a little bitty town called Paint Rock that we drove through in about two seconds, that has a dentist's office. There are more dentists per capita in Paint Rock than probably anywhere else in Tennessee. It also has at least two churches and maybe a dozen houses. Which is a pretty typical ratio, to be honest.

Another fact: I learned that Megan Fox is from Rockwood! Like, there are members in the branch that know her dad. Elder Larson still won't believe it. They must have used up all the attractive when they made her, or maybe she vampire-sucked the rest of it out of the city, because there are like zero attractive people here. I will say, though, that it makes focusing on missionary work a whole lot easier.

My message this week is simple, but often hard to do. In Doctrine and Covenants 64:9-10, the Lord teaches us the following principle.

"Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.

"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."

I cannot state it more simply than that. No matter how hard it may be to forgive others, we have been commanded to forgive all men. Forgiveness is more than just a nice, Christlike thing to do; it is a commandment. We can lean on our Savior's atonement to help us, for He took upon Himself our infirmities as well as our sins (see Alma 7:11-13). Forgiveness is not always easy. But it is always possible if we will lean on the Lord. Let go of your old grudges, your pain and your anger. In the eternal scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. No matter what they have done, compared to Christ, you are not much different than they.
There's a Mormon message that makes this point beautifully. It's called Forgiveness: My Burden Was Made Light.

Let's all take time to think about who we need to forgive and what things we need to let go, and have the courage to do it. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. :)


Elder Swindler

PS Sorry there's only one picture this week, I can't get my camera's pictures onto the iPad to send them. :(
Elder Galaviz and Elder Swindler after haircuts today:

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