Monday, June 27, 2016

This Area is Awesome

Hey folks!

Things are good here. We taught a bunch of lessons, had a bunch of dinners (the members here are legit), and all in all it was a great week. Plus it was Elder Lakko's birthday! That was fun.

We volunteered at the American Museum of Science and Energy as well, and I'll admit, it was hard to actually work and not wander around reading all the things. There was a bunch of stuff about the Manhattan project and Oak Ridge and random science stuff too. My inner geek totally came out.

And we have two baptismal dates! Pretty sure I already told y'all about Esther, she is still doing really well. Still reading the Book of Mormon, still wants to be baptized, still awesome. She texts us all the time with random questions. She is living the Word of Wisdom and everything. And we also taught a really cool guy named Jonas, he is a senior in high school and is friends with one of the laurels. He wants to be baptized and she told us secretly that he is talking about wanting to go on a mission! This guy is awesome. He's been coming to church since April and has been taught a little already, this was just my first time teaching him. Also we taught a lady we tracted into a couple weeks ago, Marjorie. She is also really cool and accepted a soft baptism invitation (meaning she wants to be baptized if she finds for herself this is true). She really wants her sons to have a relationship with God. Hopefully we can teach them soon too.

Also we had an epic zone conference. President Griffin gave a super powerful training on the purpose of the gospel. I'll include a little of it in my message. And we got two new pamphlets for teaching the fourth and fifth lessons, which is awesome.

Well that's about it for us. Quick message before I go: the whole point of the gospel is for us to become like Christ. If you feel stagnant in your conversion, examine yourself: how can you improve and be more like the Savior? We all have room to improve. Take it one step at a time.

Moroni gives us a pattern for living like Christ as he shares some of his father Mormon's words:

"And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.

"If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
"...Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:43-45, 48)

Moroni lists a lot of attributes of Christ as he talks about charity. Use this as a guide. How can you improve?

Gotta run. Had a crazy p day - we went to a trampoline park! I love you all!

Elder Alex Swindler

El Pictures:

1) Van Pelt, Van Pelt, Van Pelt...

2) Haha the stack on the left is Elder Lakko's letters this week and the stack on the right is mine (Thanks Meridith!). #13months!

3) #TractingintheSouth


4-6) Elder Lakko wearing his birthday pin in various embarrassing public places









7) Post-haircut selfie

Monday, June 20, 2016

Toilet Paper and Baptismal Dates

Hey folks!

This week has been great. Lots of adventures. On Tuesday we discovered that we had been toilet-papered! Hahaha we weren't sure who it was but we figured it was probably the other elders or a certain one of the priests in the ward. Turns out it was said priest, and also his mom, and also some visiting sister RM's. And it was his mom's idea hahaha. His mom felt bad later and made us cookies as a peace offering... But we're not gonna just let this lie. :) We're thinking of saran-wrapping their car later this week.

We had a lesson with a lady we found at the family history booth at the fair last week! It was pretty good. She isn't terribly interested in the gospel at this point but she is definitely interested in finding more of her family history, so we helped her with that. We also saw several less actives this week. I love working with less actives. Helping them rediscover their faith is really exciting. :)

We had a lesson with an eternigator named Zavian. He's really cool but he's hard to work with because he rambles like you wouldn't believe. And we saw an investigator named Esther! She's awesome! She was a referral from a Mormon.org chat that didn't seem very interested at first, but now she's reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it and enjoying it, and she accepted a baptism date of August 6, and she even came to church out of nowhere this week!!

This area is great. I love Elder Lakko, I love the members and they feed us a lot, and the work is moving forward. :) I hope you all are doing well!

My message for this week is about obedience. Something President Griffin talked about at our last zone meeting was 4 reasons for us to be obedient: fear, reward, duty, and love. When we obey out of fear, we will eventually overcome or outgrow our fears, and with them goes our motivation to obey. When we obey to get a reward, as soon as we have our reward, there is no more incentive - we already have our trophy, so why try? When we obey out of duty, we eventually just burn out - there is no real reason for us to keep going. But when we obey out of love, we can keep going forever. As Mormon said:

"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." (Moroni 7:47)

The two greatest commandments are to "love the Lord thy God" and "love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt 22:37-39). If we will do these two things, all other things will fall into place in our lives, and we will obey His commandments and serve Him because we mean it.

So how do we shift our motivations from fear, reward, or duty to love? I don't think there is one answer. It is unique and personal to each of us and requires a lot of prayer (see Moroni 7:48). One idea though is that we can start by trying our best to be obedient to God's commandments, following the Spirit and serving Him as best we can with whatever motivations we can muster - because when we serve other people selflessly, we cannot help but eventually grow to love them, and likewise when we serve God selflessly, we eventually grow to love Him. And I do know that God will bless us and build us up and shape us and help us, if we will at least put forth an effort and try.

I've gotta run. I love you all! Make yourselves a great week!

Elder Alex Swindler

Da Pics:

1-3) We got roll'd.









4) One of the houses we tracted was SUPER nice. It even had lily pads in their pond! Actual lily pads!


5-6) An impressive sunset.









7) The peace offering.

Joyce's Baptism and The Most Amazing Backyard View, Ever

1) Joyce got baptized!! Elder Lambert baptized her and her husband Fred confirmed her. And on the right is Elder Lambert's greenie, apparently he came pre-trained. :) 


2) Found this on someone's door when we were out tracting tonight. 


3-4) Tracting in Appalachia. 







5) The view from someone's backyard. No picture could ever do it justice... Don't worry, we weren't being creepy. We tracted into the guy who owns the house this evening and he is SUPER nice. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon, gave him a copy, and prayed with him. And he showed us the view from inside his house, the back of his house is mostly windows and the view from his living room is absolutely astounding. Hopefully we can meet with him again and sit in his living room. :D 


6) The guy's house from the front. We promise we aren't stalkers.

 

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Secret City

Hey folks!

Like I mentioned, I got transferred! Now I'm in Oak Ridge, TN, in the Melton Lake ward. It's a really neat area. Lots of history. The government built the city to research and develop the atomic bombs that were dropped to end WWII. And the ward seems really great, and I love Elder Lakko, he's hardworking and easygoing and funny and we're getting along great so far.

My last couple days in Bristol were a blur of goodbyes and packing like crazy. I was a little sad to leave Bristol and all the people there. And I was sad to leave Elder Lambert. But I'm excited for change and for my new area.

So far Oak Ridge has been good. We tracted into a couple of legit people, one in particular seems promising. She talked about how God has blessed her and changed her and how He's made her a totally different and better person than she was before. She wants to have a stronger relationship with Him. We are going to meet with her again this week. :)

We also got to volunteer at Oak Ridge's "Secret City" festival on Friday and Saturday which was awesome! The two wards here hosted a booth about family history. People could come and find records of their family from the 1940's census. We actually had a lot of people come through and we even got a return appointment from it, so that was awesome. Plus the festival was fun and there was a cool WWII reenactment we got to go to.

Also - Joyce got baptized back in Bristol!! :) I will send pictures as soon as I get them from Elder Lambert.

My message for this week is pretty personally meaningful for me right now. Yesterday while we were out knocking on doors there was a guy who answered and was pretty rude to us. He tried to bible bash with us and told us that we are a disgrace to the name we wear. It's not the first time people have been pretty rude to me on a doorstep and it definitely won't be the last (especially in the heart of the Baptist South), but for some reason he really got to me. I was so angry with this dude. I couldn't stop thinking about him. All throughout my shower this morning I was itching to sit down to study the scriptures and find all the ways I could prove him wrong and prove just how much of an idiot and a jerk and a hypocrite he was... I knew it wasn't right and that I was overreacting and letting Satan get to me, but I didn't care. P And then when I got up from praying and started to study, I somehow ended up instead reading a talk from Elder Oaks that was exactly what I needed to hear, and all the anger just sort of drained from me. Here's two quotes from it:

'In the concluding days of His mortal ministry, Jesus gave His disciples what He called “a new commandment” (John 13:34). Repeated three times, that commandment was simple but difficult: “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12; see also verse 17). The teaching to love one another had been a central teaching of the Savior’s ministry. The second great commandment was “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). Jesus even taught, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). But the commandment to love others as He had loved His flock was to His disciples--and is to us--a challenge that was unique.'


'...The gospel has many teachings about keeping the commandments while living among people with different beliefs and practices. The teachings about contention are central. When the resurrected Christ found the Nephites disputing over the manner of baptism, He gave clear directions on how this ordinance should be performed. Then He taught this great principle:

“There shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.

“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

“Behold, this is … my doctrine, that such things should be done away” (3 Nephi 11:28–30).'


My challenge to you is to join me in examining yourselves. Do you love others as the Savior loves each of us? Even those who may not love you in return? And are you allowing the spirit of contention into your life? Of course none of us will ever love or live as perfectly as the Savior did and does, but that's the idea. No matter where we are or how poorly or how well we are doing, we can always improve to be more like the Master. So do that. Evaluate your life and your heart, and prayerfully strive to improve. :)

I love you all! The Gospel's true!

Elder Alex Swindler

Pictures:

1) Goodbye pic with Bro & Sis Finch. He was the Bristol ward mission leader. They're awesome.


2) Goodbye pic with Bro Call, another awesome member we worked with a lot.


3) Goodbye pic with Bro & Sis Call (not related to the previous guy - confusing, right?). Also awesome.


4) Goodbye to Elder Lambert!


5) Elder Lakko and I found a minion at the Secret City festival!


6) At first we both thought this license plate said "Vol Satan" but then we realized it actually says "Vols 4 TN..." Hahaha


Video: You Are a Sad, Strange Little Man...

A video of some country singer performing a weird song about a chicken at the Secret City festival.

video

Monday, June 6, 2016

Transfers!

Hey folks!

So I'm getting transferred to Oak Ridge, TN! From the birthplace of country music to the birthplace of the atomic bomb. :) Said a lot of goodbyes this week. I'm sad to leave Bristol, mostly Anna and Elder Lambert. And I'm sad to be leaving this district, it's definitely my favorite district of my mission. I've made a lot of good friends here in the Bristol district. But I'm excited for new opportunities in my new area. Also - elder Lambert will be training here in Bristol, and taking over the entire ward. The other elders (Collins and Bateman) will be leaving.

I've gotta go. I love you guys! The Gospel's true!

Elder Alex Swindler

Pics:
1) The Bristol sign!

2) They seem welcoming...

3-5) District pics


More Pics:

1-2) I slayed a tree!

3-4) Me with Anna :)

5) Me with Joyce (who is getting baptized on Saturday!! WOOT WOOT!!), her husband Fred, and Fred's dad, Fred.


Bonus Pics:

1-2) We all made Harry Potter poses. I'm a pooping wizard. Can you tell?

3) Anna Rush was pinching me in one of the pictures haha

5) A selfie just for you