Monday, August 10, 2015


Hey all!

Crazy week this week. I wish I could remember it all, but I forgot to bring my planner and that's how I usually remember what happened each day. Haha :)

I do remember a few significant events though. We finally got in to see Wanda, an elderly lady who we've been trying to teach almost since I got here. She is almost always by herself, and we can't come inside anyone else's house unless there's another responsible adult of our same gender (missionary rules), so we haven't been able to come in. And her health isn't very good, so it's hard to plan when we can come because she never really knows until the day of if she's going to be feeling up to it. But she has always been very interested in hearing from us, and she really likes us, and we have been super excited to teach her about eternal families because she's lost her husband and some of her kids and grandkids.

But! We finally were able to get a member to come with us on a day that she was feeling well, so we got to come in! We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and she really liked it, especially the principle of eternal families, which we really tried to emphasize. We asked her a few times if she felt like it was true and she told us with this huge smile on her face that yes, she did, it felt right inside her heart. :) We've visited her on her porch a couple times since, and she's read through the pamphlet like 3 or 4 times, and she's been giving copies of it to her neighbors and her daughter. She is so golden. And she's the sweetest old lady ever. I love her to pieces. :)

We also got to teach another person that's been super hard to catch. Her name is Tresa (and that's actually how it's spelled, Mom). She's been in almost the same situation as Wanda - single lady with crazy medical problems - only she's not as old. Her family and friends have also been over there a lot, and they really don't like us (they shut the door in our face every time we try to visit when they're there), so that's made it hard too. But she's wanted to meet with us, it just kept falling through.

We were finally able to get a member over at a time when she was feeling well and there weren't other people there to interfere, and it went super well! She is very open and wants to learn about it for herself. She isn't fazed by the opposition from her family and friends, and she's willing to study and pray to know if it's true. She's had a lot of people throughout her life cram their religious beliefs down her throat, so it's refreshing to her to talk to us. She feels like we really sincerely care (we do), and she likes that we don't cram it down her throat, and that we invite her to study and pray about it for herself. She's also pretty golden, she's just got a lot to learn. She's had a lot of Jehovah's Witness doctrine crammed down her throat (nothing against the JW's, it was just her ex husband who was pushy) and it's pretty different from traditional Christianity, so we're having to kind of start from the ground up.

We also got to see Phil, and the Jennings, and Ronnie, and Douglas, and Austin. Phil has progressed a lot, and he's also opened up to us a lot. He's not nearly as combative, he's much more friendly and sincere, and I think he wants to be baptized. We're continuing to not push him at all, because that seems to have worked pretty well. The Jennings are going through some rough times, they could use some prayers if y'all wouldn't mind. We might have to drop Ronnie for awhile, he doesn't really keep commitments. It's sad, but it may be the best thing for him right now. Douglas is still hung up on priesthood authority, but he's willing to keep studying and praying and trying to understand. And Austin is awesome. He and his family seem to be doing much better, thank you all for your prayers. :) He still really wants to be baptized (we're working on it - he'll need a presidential interview), he's already finished up through 2 Nephi, and he's starting over again on a 36-week BOM study schedule.

Oh, also, TRANSFERS ARE THIS WEEK!! OH MY GOSH!! This transfer BLEW past, I can't even believe how fast it went. And get this, I am the only missionary staying in Rockwood Ward! Elder Merrill, Elder Nelson, and Elder Galaviz are all leaving!! Holy smokes, that's nuts!! We're getting 3 new elders! I'll have to not only take over Rockwood West area (my area), but help the two new missionaries who are whitewashing Rockwood area and know nothing about it. Holy smokes... It's crazy. I have faith that it's the Lord's will, and that this is all according to His plans and intentions. This is a big leap of faith for me though. And for all of us. Elder Galaviz especially isn't happy about leaving, he really loves their area and their investigators and I think it's hard for him to leave it in the hands of two missionaries who know nothing about it. We all are having to trust the Lord a lot on this one.

Anyway. That's my big news for the week. :) Oh - also - Elder Merrill is going to be a district leader in his new area!! I think he'll do an awesome job, he's a great missionary and a great leader :) I'm grateful to have had him as my trainer.

My message this week is about small and simple things. There was a thought I had this week that I recorded in my study journal. This was the gist of it:

The small and simple choices determine destiny. If you do not choose to follow the Lord in the small, seemingly insignificant moments - when it's easy - how can you think that you will choose to follow the Lord when it "really counts," in the big, significant moments - when it's really hard? But on the other hand, if you choose to follow the Lord in the small, simple, everyday moments - the moments that don't seem to matter or that aren't a big deal, the moments when no one is watching and it wouldn't really make that much of a difference anyway - when a big and significant and difficult moment comes, the decision won't be hard at all because it will have already been made.

I believe that the person we really are is the person we choose to be when no one else is watching. A lifetime of small, seemingly insignificant decisions to follow the Lord, like brushstrokes on a canvas, becomes a magnificent painting.

I was talking to Elder Merrill about this, and he brought up the story of Abraham being asked by the Lord to sacrifice Isaac. This must have been incredibly hard for Abraham - but he did not hesitate to follow the Lord. For Abraham, the decision had already been made. Abraham had a lifetime of small, insignificant, everyday moments when he had chosen time and time again to follow the Lord. And "line upon line, precept upon precept" (D&C 98:12), he had thus gradually developed unshakeable faith and trust in the Lord and an unwavering commitment to follow Him. When the call came to sacrifice his son, though it was hard, he did not hesitate - and in blessing, the Lord not only spared Isaac, but promised Abraham that "in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma wrote the following:

"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

"And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." (Alma 37:6-7)

I challenge all of you to choose now to follow the Lord, in the small, everyday, seemingly insignificant moments of your lives. When you'd rather go to bed early, choose to study the scriptures and pray anyway. When you'd rather sleep in after a late Saturday night, choose instead to get up and go to church. When no one is watching and it doesn't really matter, choose to be righteous. Then when it really does matter, even if it is hard, you will not hesitate. Your faith will have grown to be unshakable. :)

Remember the counsel in Helaman 5:12:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

A foundation is not built all at once. It is built before the house, and it takes time and patience and diligent effort. And it is not big or impressive or noticeable. But a house built on a strong foundation, a foundation patiently built and maintained in a lifetime of small decisions, a foundation built on the rock of Christ, will never fall, no matter how strong the storm. :)

I love you all!

Elder Swindler

1) Elder Merrill and I with George (I wish he'd have smiled, I love his smile)

2 and 3)  I made enchiladas and they were delicious :)

4) A last district foto. This is our "prideful" pose. (one of the sisters' idea)

5) Elder Merrill with Phil and Sis Madden. Typical of them. Haha

6) Elder Merrill with Brad and Martha. :)

7, 8, and 9) Why Photobooth is allowed, I'll never know. But now you get to deal with my selfies ;)

10) Pre-haircut selfie

11) Video: A view from the drive to Grandview, a community in the mountains just outside of Spring City :)


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