Monday, July 25, 2016

Training week 1

Hey folks!

Guess who doesn't have any time? This boy! But. In short. Our week was great. We are working hard and doing a lot of finding and we are seeing success. And Elder Frederick is doing awesome (Elder Frederick is the new missionary I am training). He is from Glendale, AZ, he's really laid back, but he also really wants to work hard, and we are getting along really well so far.

It's late and I have to go but I do have a brief message. In Mosiah 18:8-9, Alma speaks of some of the covenants we make at baptism:

"...and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

"Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life--

"Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord..."

I'd like to emphasize our covenant duty, as baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ, to bear one another's burdens - which includes mourning with those that mourn, comforting those that stand in need of comfort, and standing as witnesses of God at all times. I believe that covenant duty begins first in our own homes with our own family members. Let's all take time this week to consider - how can I better fulfill my covenants to love and serve and support my fellow man, and especially my own family? Maybe it's just by being a better listener, someone that others can go to with their problems. I know that often that's what God has been for me. And let's also remember that along with those covenants to bear others' burdens is also a responsibility to let others bear our burdens as well.

I love you all! Make yourselves a great week!

Elder Alex Swindler

Last Week's Pics:
Pictures from the hike I went on last week with Elders Lakko, Nelson and Constantino.

This week's pics:

1-4) The other ward's ward mission leader showed us his cool chess sets. The first two pictures are Nephites vs Lamanites. :)
5) Elder Frederick (left) and me and several other elders we hung out with today 
6) Goodbye pic with my good friend Elder Hoyt. He goes home this week.

Monday, July 18, 2016

What To Expect When You're Expecting

Hey folks!

We had a pretty darn good week this week. I guess I'll start by updating you on Esther. We talked to our mission president a little more about her situation and he feels like it is best if her family at least knows she is being baptized. After talking to him I agree. While they might be upset if they find out she has been meeting with us now, they would probably freak out even more if/when they eventually find out she got baptized in secret. We talked to Esther about it and she is understandably pretty apprehensive about it. Actually she doesn't like the idea at all. She is a little socially/mentally handicapped and she doesn't quite seem to grasp the idea that it will be better, or at least less bad, to tell them now. But she still wants to get baptized so that's good. She and her family will be moving in August, and it will be outside of our mission boundaries, which might make things a little more complicated, but it will be ok. Please keep her and her family in your prayers.

In other news, the area here is really picking up. There's a lady named Andrea that Elder Lakko tracted into just before I got here. We haven't been able to see her since then but we have kept in contact and she is definitely interested. Well, early this week we met her husband Justin, and he is really cool and open. And then, like 2 days later, Justin's dad died unexpectedly! They are having a really hard time with it, Justin especially, and now they have all sorts of questions about where he is and things like that. They want to meet with us and we are hoping to see them this week.

We also had a good first lesson with a lady named Judy. The first time we met her (tracting) she basically described how she felt the Spirit when she visited Temple Square in SLC. And when we taught about the Book of Mormon she walked into the back room and came out with a copy that someone gave her in 1991 in Florida. She is super prepared for the gospel. Although she doesn't think she will "become a Mormon." Well, maybe not yet at least. Haha

AND we had a killer zone training meeting with President Griffin on Wednesday. Got a lot of answers for myself and for this area about what to do and what to work on.

So. As for the subject line... I am indeed expecting! In fact, I'm due Wednesday morning. It's crazy because I only found out this morning that I was even pregnant, although I've suspected for a few transfers now that it might happen. The ultrasound says it is likely to be a brand new Elder. Which means... I'm going to be training a new missionary!! Haha I'm pretty excited about it! I'll send lots of pictures. I don't know his name yet but make sure to keep him in your prayers because coming out on a mission is super sketchy and can be really hard. And keep me in your prayers too because training can also be super sketchy and really hard. But I'm pumped. And Elder Merrill, my trainer and current zone leader, is excited to have a grandson now!

This does mean that Elder Lakko will be leaving, sadly. We've become good friends in the last 6 weeks and we really have worked well together. I'm sad to see him go. But we'll probably see each other again sometime before I go home, he's only been out 7 1/2 months. He'll be going to Cleveland, TN, to be a district leader.

My message for this week is that God answers prayers. Sometimes it may not seem like it, or may not seem like much, but He does. We just have to listen and to act upon what He gives us, even if what He gives us isn't what we expected or wanted,  or is really hard, or doesn't tell us as much as we want to know, or even is just a silence that seems to say "you decide." If we will ask for guidance, then listen closely, then act upon what He gives us - or has already given us - then we will progress and grow and He will bless us with further understanding and light and knowledge. We will be led to greater light and greater happiness than we have yet known. Seek His guidance! My testimony of this has grown stronger here in the mission field and I know it works.

God loves you. I love you. Make yourselves a great week!

Elder Alex Swindler

P.S. We went hiking today in a state park called Frozen Head to the top of a fire tower and the view was amazing! I will try to send pictures next week because I am out of time.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Charity and Families

Hey folks!

Once again, I am out of time. Lame, I know. But! We had a good week. Esther is still doing great and wants to be baptized. Because of the conflict with her family and her wanting to keep all this a secret, we will probably have to do it when her family is out of town. And she never knows exactly when they will be gone until like a few days before. So! We got permission from President Griffin to do it on any day of the week, and to confirm her at the baptismal service. And we are basically just waiting for a day that will work.

Update: We just had a lesson with Esther with a legit sister RM from the Germany Berlin mission named Megan. Actually it was pretty funny - Megan got to the meeting place before we did, and when Esther got there she tried to give a pass along card to Megan. It was super funny. I might have already mentioned this, but Esther gives out more pass along cards to people than we do haha. Esther's family is out of town this week so we might try to do the baptism on Thursday. This is crazy short notice though and we aren't sure if it's gonna happen or not. It's a weird and tricky situation. We really don't like going behind her family's back either and we aren't entirely sure what to do about the situation... We need some guidance. Prayers would be greatly appreciated!

We saw Verner, a less active member, again. We are trying to help him overcome some of his doctrinal concerns by helping him regain a testimony of Joseph Smith. The lesson went pretty well, he had some questions about where the church went after Christ and the early apostles died, so we were able to teach him a lot of the Restoration.

We also had a lesson with a Spanish speaking guy from Mexico we tracted into. His name is Luis and he has a super cute family. He doesn't speak much English so we brought a member that speaks Spanish and he basically taught for us. There aren't any Spanish missionaries close by except a Sister who is likely going to be transferred next week, so it's kinda tricky to teach him. But we will do our best.

My message this week is about families and charity - specifically the principle that "charity never faileth."  If your family is struggling - and, in one way or another, all of our families are struggling - remember that the one thing that does not fail is charity, or the pure love of Christ. In this the restored Church, we believe in eternal families. Yet often it can be difficult to believe that our families, as imperfect and struggling and assailed on all sides as they are, could possibly become something eternal. In the words of Elder Uchtdorf, in his April 2016 conference address "In Praise of Those Who Save:"

"...There is one thing that is right in every case.

"...Whatever problems your family is facing, whatever you must do to solve them, the beginning and the end of the solution is charity, the pure love of Christ. Without this love, even seemingly perfect families struggle. With it, even families with great challenges succeed.

“‘Charity never faileth.’

"It is true for saving marriages! It is true for saving families!"

The pure love of Christ will save our families if we will faithfully seek to be filled with it. I know Christ can save our families.

And Elder Uchtdorf really does a great job of making this point. If you have time I highly recommend studying his talk!

I love you all!

Elder Alex Swindler

A Whole Lotta Pics

1) Elders Lakko, Constantino, and me

 2-3) Elders Nelson, Lakko, and Constantino. We ate dinner together one night this week (pizza, BBQ chicken, and soda - a well-balanced diet for the active missionary!)

4-6) Found this sign at a baptist church

7-8) Selfies at the Children's Museum

9-10) Glam shots


It rained like crazy this week! This was one of the storms. It knocked out our power a few times and knocked out a bunch of traffic lights too. (As if driving in the South wasn't fun enough already...) And yet, even with the rain, it is still SUPER hot here. :P

Monday, July 4, 2016

Bluegrass, Esther, and Captain America

Hey folks!

Not much time left to email so this will have to be short.

We had a good week. Taught a lot of people. Did a lot of finding. Esther and Jonas are still on board for baptism, although we moved Esther's date to July 16 and Jonas's date to August 27. Esther is on fire, actually. She is so enthusiastic about the gospel that she is literally going up to random people (on the streets, in restaurants, at Walmart...) and talking to them about the gospel and giving them pass-along cards. It is awesome. :) She is a little socially impaired, which gives her just enough fearlessness to talk to EVERYONE and just enough cluelessness to not realize when some people don't want to hear it. Haha she texts us all the time about the people she gives pass along cards to. She wants to go on a mission, and she'll be dang good at it too (she's already better at finding people than we are, haha). Her biggest concern is still family support (or a complete lack thereof, I should say), so if y'all could pray for her family's hearts to be softened, it would be much appreciated.

Also this week, I was told by one of the youth that I look like Captain America... Haha I don't see it. He is like 9000% more buff and cool than me. But hey. I'll take it. Oh - and I got to play bluegrass with our stake president and some other members! That was fun!!

My message this week is that everything God does in our lives and in the lives of all His children is interconnected, and is engineered to be for our good and benefit. We can't always see it in the moment - in fact, I think it's rare that we do - but when we choose to trust Him, turn to Him, and be faithful and diligent and obedient even when we do not understand and things do not seem to be going right, we will be blessed and we will grow. Eventually He may even let us see and understand a little of why He did what He did.

A good example in the scriptures of this is Nephi and his brothers returning to Jerusalem for the brass plates. Just prior to receiving the command to do so, Nephi had had an experience in which he had been promised by the Lord that as long as he and his posterity kept the Lord's commandments, they would prosper in the promised land. At first the command to return to obtain the plates may have seen puzzling and frustrating. Not only that, their first two attempts to obtain the plates were not only unsuccessful but cost them everything they owned and nearly cost them their lives. Laman and Lemuel wanted to turn back, but Nephi went back a third time, alone, trusting in God and "not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do." This time, the Lord provided a way and Nephi was successful. And because of his faithfulness and diligence, Nephi was also led to understand that the Lord's commandment to obtain the plates was in part fulfilling one of the Lord's earlier promises to him -- if Nephi's posterity didn't have the plates which contained the Law of Moses, how much harder would it have been for them to keep the Lord's commandments and receive the blessings the Lord had promised?

In fact, those blessings were promised to Nephi in the first place because he had shown faith and diligence and trust in the Lord as he obediently departed into the wilderness, not knowing exactly what the Lord had in store. As he prayed to understand the Lord's will, after having shown his faith and trust, Nephi was given some understanding - enough to move forward a few steps - and was promised even greater blessings.

Trust the Lord. Seek His guidance. He knows what He is doing, and everything He does is for our good and benefit and blessing. He loves us. He loves you. Trust Him now, obey Him now, and in the future you may realize what He was doing all along, and thank Him for His hand in your life. And whether you do ever understand or not, if you ask, He will give you enough light to keep moving forward in the right direction.

I like what Nephi says in 1 Ne 15:11: "Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?--If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you."

Wow, this email turned out to be super long after all. Sorry guys. I love you all!

Elder/Captain Alex Swindler

Lots of Pics:
1) Bluegrass with President Dahl & co

2) Me, Alex and Wiley (priests in the ward), and Elder Lakko after going to a trampoline park last Monday

3) Adventures during comp study

4) Crazy spider webs

5) Oak Ridge is cool
  6) Elder's quorum art skills

7) A casual selfie

 Video) I have no words...