I'll be blunt, this week kinda stank. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great, especially compared to how great last week was. We did manage to see a few people but pretty much everything else fell through. We saw Anna as usual. She's doing well. Stubborn as always, but I'm still convinced she knows it's true. She's just afraid. We also saw David and Kristen. Their evening was insane and they were barely able to focus, so we decided against our original plan of the stop smoking program and just taught them the word of wisdom. Kristin is still pretty on board for baptism though so that's good. We saw a less active named Grover who the ward is focusing on helping. Our member team up kind of bulldozed him though so we are gonna give him a break so he doesn't get even more overwhelmed. We saw Jon finally! We found out why we haven't seen him in so long - he's been super sick. He could use some prayers.
Probably the best part of the week was the weekend. On Friday I hit my year mark, which was super weird. I can't believe it's already been a whole year... I've loved it a lot. It's been hard but so rewarding. I burned a shirt at our service project to celebrate (it's a missionary tradition). On Saturday we got to go to two baptisms! One was a boy in our ward. My favorite part of that one was when the boy was actually baptized. There was a moment of silence afterwards while everyone was just absorbing what they just saw, and about 4 seconds passed, then his 4 year old brother yells out "MY TURN MY TURN MY TURN!!" Haha it was so funny. And the other baptism was an investigator in Marion, VA. That was a really neat experience. He's an old guy whose wife has been a member for a long time. He's super dedicated to his decision--he was studying the pamphlets like crazy the morning of his baptism and trying to memorize the Ten Commandments haha. Also that night Elder Lambert made brownies to celebrate my birthday, which was super nice of him. And then on Sunday I got to Skype call my family!! It was wonderful. Honestly it made the whole crappy week worth it. :)
My message this week is about choices. Consider the words of the Savior to his disciples in the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 16:25-29 (it's in the appendix of the LDS publication of the bible if you want to look it up):
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.
"Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come. And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake, shall find it in the world to come.
"Therefore, forsake the world, and save your souls; for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
I believe part of "taking up our cross" is choosing to make the right decisions and giving up our own will to do the will of our Father, as our Savior Himself did. Consider the thoughts shared by President Monson in his talk in the Sunday Morning session of Conference:
"I have been thinking recently about choices. It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny.
"When we left our premortal existence and entered mortality, we brought with us the gift of agency. Our goal is to obtain celestial glory, and the choices we make will, in large part, determine whether or not we reach our goal.
"...we know where we want to go, and it does matter which way we go, for the path we follow in this life leads to our destination in the next life.
"...May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
"As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day--whether to make this choice or that choice--if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice."
I think true discipleship is manifest in the details of our lives. I invite you to consider the choices you are making, both large and small. Are you willing to choose the harder rights instead of the easier wrongs? Are you willing to make hard choices and difficult changes to choose Christ, take up your cross, and follow Him? I promise if you will, or even if you just want to and are willing to try, He will help you. He does not ask us to be perfect before He will help us. Actually He only asks us to be willing and to try, and He promises to help us become perfect eventually through Him as we work with Him and grow line upon line, choice by choice. Finally consider the words of Jacob in 2 Nephi 9:18:
"But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever."
I love you all. Make yourselves a wonderful week! And Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there (especially to you, Mom)!
Elder Alex Swindler
1) Selfie from when we were attempting to finish our weekly planning haha
3) District picture with President and Sister Griffin after the baptism in Marion
The first video is in honor of Mother's Day. The second is me burning a shirt to celebrate my year mark.
Bristol is pretty!