Monday, August 24, 2015

Another week in Tennessee

Hey folks!

It's been another week. :) I hope you're all doing well. I had a pretty good week this week. The work is going well, I'm learning to work with Elder Livingston, and we're both having a lot of fun.
Tuesday we saw Ronnie. He didn't come to church last week even though he said he would, but he felt really bad about it. He told us that something came up last-minute with his daughter and he had to go help her instead of coming. But then he didn't come yesterday either, so I don't know what happened. I hope he starts keeping his commitments better, I don't want to drop him :/
We also saw the Jennings, who are doing awesome. :) Brother Jennings is progressing towards receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is fantastic. We shared some thoughts from Alma 26:14-15 and 2 Nephi 31:19-20 (see the end of this email).
Wednesday we had 2 of our 4 appointments fall through, but we ended up seeing different people in place of the ones who fell through, so it worked out. We saw the Brumleys, a part member family we haven't seen in like a month or two. Bro Brumley is a member, and he's a country singer in a band called High Brass. Their album is coming out really soon. And his wife is really cool and really nice. We want to start working with them every week if we can.
We saw Raymond and Tammy, and they sort of dropped us. They like the Book of Mormon, and they want to keep meeting with us, but they like the church they're going to and they want to stay there. I don't think they really understand the significance of the Book of Mormon. But we'll keep working with them, we think there's hope.
We ate dinner with Phil and Sister Madden, but didn't have time to share a lesson. We both had to be somewhere. But then our appointment fell through. So instead we visited an "eternigator" family, the Ishams. They're awesome, I really like them. They've been investigators for like a year or more I think. Bro Isham studies the Book of Mormon a lot, he even has a big chart of BOM scriptures about the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I don't think he really fully understands the significance of the BOM either though. We are hoping to get him studying to find out if the book is true, and get them on date for baptism.
Thursday we visited Austin/the Williams. Theu fed us, and then they wanted to play Bible Trivia with us, so we did that (I totally won). And they're doing really well, physically and spiritually. Sis Williams is recovering well from her illness, and all three of them seem to be growing stronger spiritually and coming unto Christ. Austin really wants to get baptized. And he met with President Griffin briefly on Sunday, and Pres G is really confident that we'll be able to set a date soon, so that's awesome! :) He just needs to confirm with some higher-ups. 
Friday was district meeting, which was fun. And afterwards we got to see Brad and Martha. I feel like they are progressing still, but it's definitely slow. Brad is still reading from the Book of Mormon. He still hasn't really prayed to find out if it's true though. I think he's afraid of the answer he'll get - he doesn't really want to change, it's uncomfortable. At least that's what I think. But we'll keep working with them, I think it'll happen. :)
We also got to see the Weavers, a cute investigator family we've taught just once because they're super busy. Bro and Sis Weaver are both awesome, and their daughter is adorable. Bro Weaver used to make duck calls for Duck Commander, which is really cool. And Sis Weaver is really intelligent, she actually did the reading we assigned her and had questions about who was making the comments in the narrative (we taught her about Mormon). 
Saturday we saw Wanda and taught her the Restoration with Bro Kelly (the whole thing - last time we only got through half). She loves our visits but was definitely a little taken aback by the idea of another prophet. But she's willing to read the Book of Mormon, and she is not only willing but wants to ponder and pray about this for herself. So that's awesome.
Yesterday President Griffin came and spoke in our sacrament meeting, and it was super good. After church we went to a birthday party for the brother of a couple of members of the ward (they invited us). The food was delicious, especially the lemon meringue pie. And then after that we went to another birthday party for another ward member, and got fed again. Aaaand then we went home and crashed. :P
Anyway. That was our week. :)
I have a funny story and some random stuff and then I'll be done. Sorry this is so long.
So this girl who either lives or was staying next door to us (not sure - she's been hanging around with the people there for at least a week or two but she disappeared a day or two ago) sent a couple of the little girls who live there over to our house to get our number. She sent a note with them that had her number and a note that said "I'm 19!" Then she tried to flirt with me (apparently she wasn't interested in Elder Livingston) for about a day or so. It was super funny. I had her convinced I was actually 13 until she saw me driving. But (have no fear Mom!) we then told her basically that we'd be happy to teach her about the Gospel but otherwise...sorry. I guess she wasn't too interested in that, because she stopped texting back.
Random facts I learned this week:
  • Rockwood's population is about 5,500, Spring City's is about 2,000, and Oakdale's is 219. Elder Livingston told me this is the most rural area he has ever served in.
  • Oak Ridge is nearby, and that's where the Manhattan Project went down.
  • I guess a lot of people throughout the mission call missionaries the "Jesus People," but the other elders were telling us today that the other day someone called them the "God Squad." Never heard that one before, but I sure got a kick out of it.
  • I found out (a few weeks ago actually, but I forgot to mention it) that that cute Mexican song La Cucaracha is actually about marijuana... Go figure. O.o
Okay, I'm done. :)
My message for this week is two parts. The first is the message we shared with the Jennings that I mentioned earlier:

"Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed [us] from the chains of hell.

"Yea, [we] were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought [us] into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and [we] are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love..."

"And now, my beloved brethren, after [we] have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for [we] have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

"Wherefore, [we] must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if [we] shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."

The second is from President Griffin's talk on Sunday. He shared a story about an experience he had as a young boy on a backpacking trip. He found himself separated from the group, having taken the wrong turn at a fork in the trail, and the path he was on had just ended, and it was dark. Through his tears, he did what his mother had taught him and said a prayer: "Heavenly Father, please help my bishop find me. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." He opened his eyes, fully expecting to see his bishop standing there, but for a while, nothing happened. Then he heard a quiet voice in his mind tell him to go stand in the meadow in front of him. He did, and a few minutes later, he heard a loud whistle, looked up, and saw his bishop on horseback on a trail a little above him.
President Griffin told us that this was the first time in his life that he knew for himself that God knew him by name.
I testify to you that God knows you too. If you ever find yourself alone at the end of a dark trail, I promise you that if you will turn to Him in prayer, He will help you. You are not alone. As one of our AP's put it, when you kneel in prayer, He puts the universe aside for a moment to kneel beside you. You are His child; He has not forgotten you and He never will. Take the time to talk to Him personally. Have a relationship with Him. As you reach out to Him, you will find He is reaching out to you too.
And do not forget to do the one thing that is sure to bring and keep you close to Him: study His words, every day! As Nephi taught, "ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save." With Nephi and President Griffin, I promise you that as you take time every day to "[feast] upon the word of Christ," you will become converted unto Christ, you will find He is never far away, you will find joy, your soul will never hunger, and you will find God knows you, is guiding your way, is always nearby you, and loves you more than you would believe.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen :)
Elder Swindler


1) A selfie. Featuring Elder Livingston, Elder Udy, me, and Elder Stringham.

2) Elder Livingston: "Das mah buddy! I need a picture with him."

3) Elder Livingston: "That's good. But I'm lookin' a little fat, let's take another one and I'll kinda turn to the side."

4) People around here love two things: Jesus, and University of Tennessee football (the Tennessee Vol's).

5) One of the members lives here. The house was built in 1892. You should see the inside, it's gorgeous. :) It's cool to see the old Southern architecture, and the house just feels very welcoming and lived-in. I like it a lot.

1) Downtown Rockwood. Blink and you'll miss it.

2) Aaaaand that's it, folks! Hope you enjoyed Soarin' through Downtown Rockwood! Please exit the ride quickly, exits are to your left and right...

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