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:
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
7) A casual selfie