Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy Fourth!

Hey folkses!

I forgot to bring my journal to the library this week so I might forget a lot of the stuff we did. Sorry.

On Tuesday we had another lesson with Brad that went really well. He's starting to read the Book of Mormon, so that's good. We took a member that he's friends with, and afterwards the member was telling us that he has progressed a TON since the missionaries first started teaching him. He remembered the first lesson - I guess Brad wouldn't even talk about the Book of Mormon and the missionaries mostly just taught his wife Martha (who used to be really open, but for some reason we don't know has started hiding in the other room whenever we come over... We're not sure why yet).

We also had a lesson with Ronnie that was a little bit frustrating. He likes us coming over, and he is making very gradual progress, but he still hasn't prayed and he's barely read any of the Book of Mormon. I hope we don't have to drop him but I wonder if we may. :/

Wednesday we went on a team-up with George Fox. I think I've mentioned him before. He's less active and has a lot of emotional baggage from his wife dying. He's also super loveable, and has a really distinctive way of talking that we try to imitate all the time. We think if we get him involved in missionary work and help him feel needed he may start coming back to church. We took him to see an older lady in Spring City named Christine. The lesson went pretty well, but he accidentally fell over and broke some of her stuff, and she said it was fine but then she wouldn't look at him for the rest of the lesson. That was kind of sad. But I think it really did him good to feel loved and involved.

Thursday we did a lot of planning for the week and stuff around the apartment. We ate dinner with a family named the Reanos, which was super fun. They have 9 kids so it's always an adventure. We had Oreos and milk for dessert and watching their 2 and 1 year olds try to dunk the Oreos in the milk was hilarious. Lincoln, the 2 year old, would just drop the Oreo in the milk, have his daddy fish it out for him, take a little bite of it really fast, then hurry and drop it right back in the milk (and repeat, ad infinitum). It was so funny.
Lincoln Reano and his daddy, post-Oreos and milk. I love this kid. :) (this was right before he wiped his hand all over my pants, which was hilarious)

Friday we had a really good lesson with Austin, who is on track to be baptized on the 18th. We may need to move it because of administrative stuff, he will need an interview with the Mission President because he just got out of prison, but we aren't worried. We love him so much and we're so excited. He has really changed his life, but to hear him tell it, it was God, not him. I think it was both of them.

We also had a lesson with Robert, our conspiracy theorist, who dropped us. Instead of reading the Book of Mormon for himself he decided to research it by reading stuff online from anti-Mormons.... I love him, but he's an idiot. We explained all the lies he read and put in context the things that were taken out of context, and helped him understand what we really believe. And he was glad to learn that we aren't crazy and we are in fact Christians... But then later he called us and dropped us. So that was dumb. He's just not quite ready yet, I think. He says he wants to finish the bible and be familiar with it before he starts reading other stuff, and I can understand that. He didn't really have real intent when he read the little bit that he did with us. I think he may be ready in the future though.

Random story I forgot to tell. This is from a few weeks ago when I went on an exchange with the District Leader, Elder Larson. We ate dinner with a family named the Cruises (spelling?), and they mentioned this super spicy hot sauce that they like to have the missionaries try, and I was like, hey, I like spicy stuff! So they got all excited and got it out. It had pictures of bombs and stuff on the label, but it was pretty old, and I opened it and smelled it and it didn't smell like much of anything, so I figured it couldn't be that spicy. And I think they said something about how most of the missionaries had just put a little dab on their fork and then quickly decided it was really really hot and that they didn't want anything more to do with it, but I wasn't really listening. So I put two big drops on the remainder of my scrambled eggs and took a bite. I realized pretty quickly that things were about to get hot, so I hurried and and finished all of the eggs as fast as I could before the heat wave fully hit and I could change my mind. Then about 3 seconds later the heat wave did hit. It was so hot my lips and the roof of my mouth went numb for a good 45 minutes. I was sweating and drinking everything I could reach... It was insane. Haha I guess I hold the record now for the most sauce any missionary has ever eaten. So that's cool. :)

Saturday was Independence Day. We didn't get to see a lot of people, but we did bring cookies to some of our older less-actives who weren't doing anything fun and didn't have company. That evening we went over to the Beyer's (a family in the branch) and ate delicious burgers that he made (he wants to open a restaurant, and he totally could) and watched them light fireworks (which was kind of scary sometimes - especially with little kids around - but whatever, it's the South I guess).

Sunday was good too. We had another lesson with Austin. And it was a good week in general. It seems like it was just barely P-day. The days start to blend together out here... It's crazy that I've already been out two months today.

Something I learned this week: faith is proactive. I see this countless times throughout the scriptures. Gordon B. Hinckley is quoted as saying “I don’t know how to get anything done except getting on my knees and pleading for help and then getting on my feet and going to work” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 16). Moroni is a great example of this: And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites..." (Alma 50:1). So is Nephi: "And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters. And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?" (1 Ne 17:8-9) So is the Brother of Jared: "...but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock. And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness..." (Ether 3:3-4; see also 2:22-23). And we learn from the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants that "Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right..." (D&C 9:7-8)

If you are praying for help with something, I invite you to follow the pattern we learn from these examples: get on your knees and ask for help, then get on your feet and go to work. Do your best to come up with your own solutions and ideas; put forth your own best effort; and then bring those solutions and efforts to the feet of God and ask Him in faith to make it work. He may send you back to try again, or to try something else. Don't be frustrated; just keep trying. He'll help you, and He'll magnify your efforts. You just have to give Him something to work with, because He won't change you or help you to become something more than you are against your will.

I love you all! I hope you have a great week!

Elder Swindler


1) A view from the mountainside (I'll send another one on a clearer day)

 2) The Urban's barn and yard
3) A "two-lane" Tennessee road
4) There's this Japanase vine called cutzoo or something like that that's taken over everything here in Tennessee. It grows like a foot or two a day... Seriously
5) Bathroom graffiti in the South

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