So Elder Hoff did end up getting transferred this transfer. He's in Asheville, NC now. My new companion's name is Elder Lambert. He's super awesome. He's from Nashville (seriously, he's only a few hours from home). We are bizarrely similar. Like, we have similar interests (he loves theater and choir and reading and a heck of a lot of other things in common with me), we think similarly, we talk similarly, we have similar past experiences, we even look similar.... So many things. It's a little eerie.
In other news, Elder Nelson from my first district in Rockwood is here! He's Elder Dyment's new companion. And a bunch of my mission friends are training new missionaries this transfer, including Elder Milne, Elder Larson, Elder Beard, and Elder Darrington.
Some stories from this week:
Tonya accepted a baptism invitation! She's getting baptized on February 27th! But they weren't able to come to church this week and they had to schedule their appointment with us today because her husband's health is bad right now. They could use some prayers.
On Thursday we gave three priesthood blessings! One to Jon, an investigator, one to Michael (Tonya's member husband), and one to a member named Charlotte. We'd actually been trying to see Charlotte for a few weeks, so it was really a blessing to us as well to be able to meet her and talk to her.
Elder Lambert's first impression of the area must be that people here talk a LOT, because in the few days he's been here we've had at least 4 different people talk our ears off. First the member who gave us a ride to and from transfers in Knoxville talked basically nonstop for the whole 2.5+ hour car ride back (but he told cool stories so it was actually okay). Then we had a team-up with an awesome recent convert, Brother Gauvreau. He came with us to see Tonya and Michael, and he talked for probably a third of the time in total all by himself, and then kept us in his van in the parking lot of the church telling us stories for another hour or two afterwards (we were trying to leave but there seriously wasn't a break!). Then we had an epically long lesson with Anna. Her lessons usually go kinda long but this one was seriously the longest lesson I have ever had on my mission. It was good though. She's still reading the Book of Mormon, and she's coming to us with real, sincere questions. We taught her how to "liken" it to herself. And THEN last night we had a dinner appointment with the Harrises, and Brother Harris barely even paused to take a bite and chew, let alone breathe. We were seriously there for like 3 hours before we found an opportunity to jump in and say "Hey, Brother Harris, we've gotta go!"
My spiritual thought will have to be brief because I'm out of time. I'll just share some thoughts from my reading in 1 Nephi if that's okay.
In 1 Nephi 1:20, Nephi says:
"...But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."
This is immediately before he begins to relate the story of the incredible physical and spiritual trials he and his family went through. Nephi is telling us what he learned from his experiences - and what we can learn too.
Faith in God is more than a passive belief in Him. It is a choice to act even if we don't know everything because we believe in Him. The Lord wouldn't have made Nephi and his family "mighty even unto the power of deliverance" if they hadn't chosen to exercise the faith to pack up and leave when He told them to. Time and time again throughout his writings, Nephi shows us how God works in the lives of His children according to their faith. If we will choose to exercise faith in Him and act - like Nephi did many times - the Lord can work miracles through us and for us in our lives. If we choose to merely passively believe that He exists but refuse to act in faith or only do so grudgingly - like Laman and Lemuel - we are choosing to reject His power and the blessings He so desires to give to us.
I challenge you to examine yourself and your life. How can you act in faith this week? Pray, ponder, study, and pray again about it. Figure out what you can do. Then do it!
I love you all! Make yourselves a great week!
Elder Alex Swindler
1) "Welcome to Hillbilly Grocery Store -- We have a large selection of wine!"
2) Sister Davison took a stalker picture of me and Elder Lambert when we were doing service. Luckily I saw it coming so I at least closed my mouth ;)