Monday, July 27, 2015


Hey folks!

I can't even believe how fast the weeks go out here. It's nuts.

This week was kind of lopsided. We only saw 4 investigators, but we saw 7 less active members. We had a lot of appointments and things fall through, and our backup plans were usually to try to visit a less active, so that's what happened.

But it was still a good week. :)

Ronnie is progressing very slowly as usual. Teaching him is kind of like teaching a child in an adult body. He's just on a different brain wavelength than everyone else. So we're taking it principle by principle, and using the Book of Mormon a lot, and he seems to be making subtle progress. As we've been using the BOM more it really invites the Spirit, which seems to help him be more likely to open up about his actual concerns and understand what we are trying to teach.

We tried to text him every day this past week to remind him to read from the Book of Mormon (usually he forgets) and he actually did read most days! Only problem was, he was just Googling "mormon bible" and opening one of the weird links that came up. We're not really sure what he was reading (and honestly I doubt he even knows what he read) but we did our best to encourage and praise him anyway (and keep a straight face while doing it). Hey, at least he was reading something. We did put a shortcut to the actual Book of Mormon on his phone this time, so hopefully this week'll be different.

We also saw Raymond and Tammy, finally. They're really hard to see, they cancel a lot and they're clear out in Spring City so we're only even in the area once or twice a week. But we saw them! They are super open still, and they really like the idea of a modern prophet (Raymond kept saying "well ah, that'd just tickle me to death" when we asked what they thought about it). They want to know if it's true. They agreed to pray about getting baptized on September 19. So that's cool. :) We're excited. They used to be on date awhile back, but then we weren't able to see them for a few weeks and the date just passed on by. But we think this time they're more motivated to see us and learn more. Hopefully.

Don't know if I mentioned this, of all our investigators, Raymond is the hardest to understand. He's smoked since he was 6 years old, and his accent is thick, and he mumbles, and his train of thought never makes sense... I think I remember silently praying for the gift of tongues the first time we visited them. It tickles me to death to listen to him ;)

On Wednesday we had two dinner appointments, one with Sister Madden and Phil Warren, and one with the Jennings. Both of them are excellent cooks (especially Sister Jennings, oh my goodness), and both of them like to feed us a lot of food. We survived, barely. ;)

Oh, also: PHIL PROPOSED!!! AAAAH!!!! :D

You've got to understand, Phil Warren is the most cantankerous, stubborn, cranky, hard headed person I have ever met. He has a big old white beard, he served in the military, he was a truck driver for years, he's loudly Southern, loudly politically conservative... I will say though, once you see past the hard shell, he's secretly a teddy bear. He's got these shining eyes, and this super contagious laugh, and I love him to pieces. But you can't tell this man what to do. If he feels like he's being pushed, at all, he'll go the other way.

Missionaries have been trying to get him to marry Sister Madden and get baptized for ages. He knows it's true, he just won't admit it to us. He'll tell the high priests, he'll tell his home teacher, but he won't admit it to us. He's more active than half the ward. He just won't budge. We've stopped teaching him the standard lessons (for the umpteenth time) and started just sharing easy, less in-his-face, subtly family-strengthening messages like prayer and scripture study and committing them to pray and study together every day.

ANd FINALLY he seems to be making progress!! I guess he'd been feeling prompted for a week or two that he needed to marry Sister Madden on September 9th. The thought wouldn't leave him alone. So finally, on Thursday I believe, he proposed. :D That's literally all that stood in the way of him getting baptized. Hopefully he'll decide to get baptized while I'm still here. :) I have no doubt that he will eventually though.

Austin is doing well. We're trying to figure out with President Griffin when he can be baptized. He came to church with his dad on Sunday and that went well. If you don't mind, though, please kep praying for him and his family. They need it!
Saturday there was a fun activity at the Church (that we went to only after literally all our appointments and plans fell through... ugh) for Pioneer Day. And Sunday we went to the Qualls' for lunch/dinner after church, which is like an all-afternoon event because of how far out they live. We love going there though, it's super serene where they live, and they're great old people. I love hearing Brother Qualls tell stories from his life.

My thought for the week is about fear. In his weekly letter to all the missionaries, President Griffin shared the following thought. As you read, think of where you are in life right now. Think how fear may be holding you back -- from being who and where you want to be, from being happy, from being and becoming who the Lord wants you to become. You may not be a full-time missionary, but you are a child of God, and you do have a purpose. Apply this to yourself and your situation.

I will be brief in today's email. I have been thinking about the word "FEAR" and how it affects each of us differently. I have listed below several of my favorite quotes about "FEAR". Please read and ponder. Consider if "FEAR" is keeping you from being a effective missionary.
The acronym for 'FEAR'..... False Evidence Appearing Real

"Fear is the devil's first and chief tool." (John A. Widtsoe)

"Most fears in the end are fears of oneself and can be conquered by bringing in the Lord as an ally." (Arthur Henry King)

"So long as men are under the law of God, they have no fears." (Joseph Smith)

"What a tragedy it is in our lives when we are afraid to try, afraid to make decisions, afraid to trust the Lord... Fear...can be conquered if we will but have faith and move forward with purpose." (Marvin J. Ashton)

"Have faith in your purpose as a missionary. Do not fear failure. Do not fear yourself. Have faith in your prophetic call as a missionary. Fear not. Doubt not."
I invite you to follow this counsel. Have faith in the Lord. He loves you and has a plan for you, and if you follow Him and faithfully and humbly strive to bring your life in line with His teachings, He will lead you. His whole purpose is your happiness. You may find you will be required to make uncomfortable changes, but I promise you that as you follow the Lord, no matter what sacrifices you have to make, heeding His words and the words of His prophets both ancient and modern, and move forward with faith, doubting not and fearing not, it will work out for your good - both now and in eternity. Follow Him, and heed the words of His prophets. I promise He will not let you down. Remember the words of the hymn:

"The wind and the waves [still] obey [His] will... Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea, or demons or men or whatever it be, no waters can swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean and earth and skies. They all shall sweetly obey [His] will: ...Peace, peace, be still" --Master, the Tempest is Raging
I love you all!

Elder Swindler


1) Another shot of the view from the drive to the Jennings (I can't quite seem to do it justice, it's seriously stunning)

2) So at the appointment before Sis Madden and Phil, Elder Merrill sat in some dog pee (the dog must have peed on the couch where he sat and the owner hadn't noticed yet) and didn't realize it until he was soaked. It was pretty gross. So Sister Madden took pity on him and gave him some of Phil's lounge pants to wear while she washed his pants for him. I thought it was pretty funny.

3) Curb appeal. 'Nuff said. (Our neighbors)

4) A potential investigator's house. People here in the South are very picky about their curb appeal. Everything has to be juuust right. Gotta impress the neighbors, right?

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