This week was kinda crazy. We did a lot of trying to contact old potential investigators and less-actives. And we had some success! And it was nice to get to drive on back-country Southern roads again. I haven't gotten to do that since Rockwood. The South can be so stunningly gorgeous... I'm so grateful to be serving in one of the most beautiful places in the world. :)
Well. Some bad news. On Tuesday, Michael (Tonya's husband) called and dropped us. :( He wouldn't tell us why and he wouldn't let us talk to Tonya. And before we could even try to talk to him he just hung up on us. We were pretty upset about it. We were sitting there wondering what on earth to do and feeling kind of shell-shocked, so we decided to try praying about it. After praying, discussing, praying again, discussing again, and praying and discussing one more time, we both felt that we needed to go over there anyway that night (even though he asked us not to) and try to talk to them about it all.
So we did. And not too surprisingly Michael was angry that we'd come. He still wouldn't let us talk to Tonya and he still wouldn't tell us much about why they were dropping us. It was so frustrating. They were doing so well! And it was hard to say goodbye like that after coming to love them. But they have the Book of Mormon and they know what they need to do to learn if this is true and the way God wants them to go. When the time is right I hope the Spirit will move upon them to try investigating again. And they'll be stronger because of the opposition.
But the night wasn't a total flop! We were in the car wondering what to do, and one of us had the idea to drop by a person we've been trying to get ahold of for awhile. His name is Skyler, he's the grandson of the sister we gave the blessing to last week (and it was when we gave her the blessing that she told us where his house is), and he was once investigating the Church and almost got baptized but he got mixed up with some shady people and kind of fell away. We've tried his house before but he was never home. But he was just down the street from Tonya and Michael, so we decided to try again. When we knocked, no one answered, but just as we were getting in the car he and his girlfriend Logan walked up! They'd been out walking the dog. So we ended up having a pretty good visit with them and getting two new investigators. And if we hadn't prayed, followed the Spirit, and gone to visit Tonya and Michael, it wouldn't have even happened. God does answer prayers.
We also had a good lesson with Anna this week. And an investigator in Elder Lambert's last area got baptized, and we got to video-call in to watch it, and Anna came to watch too! Afterwards the investigator got up to bear her testimony, and she talked about how she joined the church despite having no support from any family or friends - which is one of Anna's concerns (she feels like she'd have no support if she joined). So that was good.
We had an investigator named Jon come to church this week! He told us he's been thinking a lot about baptism by authority and he's decided it's something he wants. He says he's willing to work for it. It's gonna take some work, he has some significant word of wisdom concerns, but that's awesome. And we also had a guy named David come too! He's an excommunicated member who has decided on his own that he is ready to come back. He came to church and said he had a wonderful experience. :)
We also had a great lesson last night with a member named Ryan's stepdad Hank at Ryan's house. Hank has been around Church members for years but has never expressed any interest at all until recently. Ryan (who is a newlywed of like 2 weeks) bore a powerful testimony of the blessings of an eternal family and really opened his heart about how much it would mean to him to be sealed to Hank and his mom. It really seemed to touch Hank and he agreed to start reading the Book of Mormon.
I'm short on time so I'll keep my message for the week brief. I've been studying President Monson's recent conference talk "Be an Example and a Light" (Oct 2015) which is really good if you have time to study it. Something that stood out to me from his talk was being an example of the believers in the way I speak:
"Each of us came to earth having been given the Light of Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others.
"The Apostle Paul lists six attributes of a believer, attributes that will allow our lights to shine. Let us look at each one. "I mention the first two attributes together--being an example in word and in conversation. The words we use can lift and inspire, or they can harm and demean. In the world today there is a profusion of profanity with which we seem to be surrounded at nearly every turn. It is difficult to avoid hearing the names of Deity being used casually and thoughtlessly. Coarse comments seem to have become a staple of television, movies, books, and music. Bandied about are slanderous remarks and angry rhetoric. Let us speak to others with love and respect, ever keeping our language clean and avoiding words or comments that would wound or offend. May we follow the example of the Savior, who spoke with tolerance and kindness throughout His ministry."
Even as a missionary, I feel like the way that I speak is an area I need to improve on. The way I speak to / about others, using slang, the humor I use / laugh at... I'd like to work this week on watching and improving my language.
I challenge you to read President Monson's talk and pay attention to what stands out to you! Pay attention to the Spirit, choose one thing to work on this week and work on it. That's another thing I learned this week - we have got to improve steadily, but we've got to do it one thing at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself. Listen to the Spirit and follow it's promptings. The strait and narrow path leads onwards and upwards. Take it one step at a time. :)
I love you all! Make yourselves a great week!
Elder Alex Swindler
1) District selfie with President and Sister Griffin. They had me take it because I have long arms. :P
2) Personal prayer win.
3) Yes, that is a Prius with flame decals. Welcome to Virginia.
4-5) P-day selfies featuring Elders Hopkins, Baird, Lambert, and yours truly (complete with fresh haircut).
Video: Some companionship fun. (Elder Lambert is under the pillows)