Monday, June 15, 2015

Six weeks. What?

Hey everybody!
I dunno about you guys but this week went by really fast for me. And it's crazy that I've already been out like six weeks...
First of all, if you sent me a letter, thank you so much! It really makes my day when I come home and there's stuff in the mailbox with my name on it. :) And Mom - that popcorn is amazing.
We had a lot of appointments and things fall through this week. But we did have some great lessons too. We taught Ronnie twice, and the second time we were able to get him to agree to read the Book of Mormon every day (I told him I'd make him a bet that if he tried it he'd be blessed. He took me up on it), and maybe to try praying. Technically he isn't a "progressing investigator" because he hasn't really kept commitments, but honestly I feel like he is progressing, just very very slowly. The fact that he lets us pray, and that he opens up more about his thoughts and feelings and beliefs and his past, is huge progress.
We also taught Douglass, the guy we weren't sure about at first. That went well. And we taught Phil Warren, who's a "dry Mormon." Don't know if I mentioned him. He's possibly the most stubborn person I've ever met, and teaching him can be super frustrating. He's so close, and I'm convinced he knows it's true, but he won't admit it, and it has to be his idea to get baptized. Gaah... We're just being patient.
There's a guy in the branch named Brother Pehrson. I love him and his family. He complains about everything, but it's super funny. We call him Grumpy Cat. He's also a mechanical and aerospace engineer, and the ward financial clerk, and he wears cargo pants and polo shirts to work, and one time when he and his wife were first married he re-loaded the dishwasher because his wife loaded it wrong. He reminds me of someone but I can't think of who... I love him and his family, they're awesome. They fed us one night this week.
I've had a few cool experiences this week when we were tracting (usually because an appointment fell through, again...) and I was just feeling really done and wanted to go home and lay down under a fan, and then the last house we tried would make it all worth it. It seems to be a thing... We found one new potential investigator this week that way, and last night we caught another potential at home, this really sweet elderly lady who was so glad we stopped to talk. She was feeling really sad and wasn't really feeling up to meeting with us right then, but she really wants us to come back. It was such a sweet experience.
The people in the branch are awesome. A lot of them are converts. They're very different than people back home, they talk funny and look funny and think differently and live differently, but the Spirit and the Gospel are the same. It's so cool. I love it.
More random facts about the South: the most common car here is a Mustang. Seriously, they are everywhere. There are lots of other sports cars too. I don't know how people here can afford such expensive cars. Although that would kind of explain the condition of some of their houses... The grid system is a pipe dream out here. Finding addresses would be almost impossible without a GPS. And house numbers here are almost meaningless - people just pick any number between the numbers to the left and right of them. Which means some houses have to have 1/2 addresses. Also it's weird to be in / around the places that all the bluegrass songs are named after. Rocky Top, the Clinch mountains, and Cumberland Gap are all in the mission, and the Clinch river runs through our area. And the Smoky Mountains are nearby too.
A thought that was shared at Church yesterday: focus on changing one thing at a time in your life. There are usually a lot of things that we want or need to change about ourselves and our lives. Trying to do it all at once is overwhelming and never really works. Pick just one thing that you can do right now, and do it. Maybe it's as simple as praying by yourself every day. Think of one thing, and then do it. And then after a few weeks, when you're doing it pretty well, pick another thing and do that. As it says in Doctrine and Covenants 10:4: "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means..."

Sorry this email is shorter than usual, I'm trying to leave more time to email back the people who've emailed me. (that might not be until later today though, the library is gonna boot us off in like ten minutes because there's a line for the computers today)
I love you all! Thank you for the love and support!
Elder Swindler
1) A half address. Seriously, it's a thing here.
2) A sampling of the churches in Rockwood.
3) Selfie from the drive back from District Meeting. Elder Nelson and Elder Galaviz fell asleep...

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