Monday, October 31, 2016

Things are picking up

Hey everyone! Happy Halloween!

We had an interesting week. Things are picking up slowly but surely here in Lebanon. We found a new investigator named Nathan, he's a cool young guy who seems to have pretty high moral standards. He had some misconceptions about the church and initially it seemed like he wanted to bash with us but after we talked for a bit he seems to be genuinely interested or at least curious. We will see how things go with him.

We also were able to meet with an investigator named Joel who is really neat. He is from Africa and speaks 7 languages. He is currently part of a group that is working to translate the Bible into a language whose name I can't pronounce or even dream of spelling. But he is super cool.

And we had some success working with our members. We got 2 or 3 of them to come out with us this week and teach people. One of the members that came with us is a really cool recent convert named Boogie (or at least that's what he goes by). He was perfect! We taught an investigator named Randy with him and he like perfectly addressed all of Randy's concerns. It is so neat to hear his perspective on things as a new member of the church, it's very fresh and honest.

I have a brief message this week. It is from 2 Nephi 32:3-5:

    "Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
   "Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
   "For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do."

We all have need of the Lord's guidance. And we all have work to do in His kingdom. He has given us the means we need to understand His will for us and to receive His guidance and counsel that we all so desperately need. If we will ask, seek, and knock - prayerfully feasting upon His word and seeking for what He would teach us and what we need to do - and listen closely to and follow the prompting of the Holy Ghost, the Gift of which many of us have received - we will be told "all things what we should do," and we will be shown what to do to achieve those things. We don't need angels to come to us and minister to us and tell us the answers, because we already have before us the very means by which angels communicate: the Holy Ghost and the words of Christ. Ultimately the Lord wants us to grow, and we must learn to act for ourselves in order to grow. And it is often in the very effort and process of searching for answers and guidance that we find just what it is that we needed.

I know that God loves and guides His children. I know He will guide you and me as we seek for it. I have received His guidance many times in my life and especially as a missionary, and I know we all can - and must - receive our own guidance from Him as well, throughout our lives, relative to our callings, our families, and our personal lives.

I love you all! Make yourselves a great week!

Love,
Elder Alex Swindler

Pictures:
1) Fishing for our district p-day. Top: Elders Cazier, Vellinga, and Leon. Bottom: Me, Sister Roser and Sister Vance

2) I caught a fish!

3) The leaves are changing

4) We made lemon pasta


Monday, October 24, 2016

I Actually Wrote a Fairly Short Email This Time

Hey folks,

Guess who has no time? Surprise! It's me.

But. We had a good week. We got a couple members out with us to our teaching appointments, and Jamie (a guy we tracted into last week) came to church!!

Here's a quote from President Monson I like a lot and that I am trying to apply:

"Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."

It can be so easy to forget that though, as catchy as it may sound. Life's problems can be so immediate and all-consuming in the everyday moments that we can easily forget the people who are right there before us. The Savior set the perfect example in this regard. He had many, many tasks to perform, but never did He ever let them supplant in importance the people around Him who needed His love. Nor does He let it happen today with you and me. He has so many tasks of cosmic importance to perform, and yet still He teaches us that we are His work and His glory. Let's all strive to be more like our Savior in that regard. 

I love you all! Make yourselves a great week!

Elder Alex Swindler


Pictures:


1) Yup, you read it right: Little Salt Lick Road. And this is where it intersects with Difficult Road. In a community called Defeated, TN. You can't make this stuff up.
 2) Jamming with members.

3-4) Our awesome jack-o-lanterns.



5) New shirt.


Video: Driving in Lebanon 
video

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lebuhnun

Heyy folks!

Well, I got transferred this week. I'm in Lebanon, TN now (I have been told at least 3 times now that it is pronounced "LEH-buh-nun," NOT "Leb-a-nahn") with a companion named Elder Cazier ("Cuh-ZEER"). He is from Treemonton, UT and will be going home in December. It's a good area with a great ward and a lot of potential, but right now the members' trust in the missionaries isn't great and the work is kind of slow. It's not bad, but it's a bit of a jarring transition coming from Melton Lake. Elder Cazier hasn't been here for very long either, only a few weeks, so we are kind of getting to know the area together. I have hope though that things will get much better. There is also a pair of sister missionaries in our ward, Sister Vance and Sister Roser, who have been here for just a couple months longer than us, and they have been working really hard to build the members' trust and are starting to see some really good changes. The work in their area has picked up a lot and the members are really starting to trust them. So we just have to follow their lead. We already have some promising people. We tracted into one guy this week named Jamie who really opened up to us and told us about how he is struggling to overcome an addiction. We talked to him about the atonement of Christ and he wants us to come back and help him. We will try to get him to the addiction recovery program as well. 

I am out of time. I love you all. The gospel is true! Christ lives and loves you, and His atonement is real and can be a powerful force for good and healing in your life if you will let it be so. Make yourselves a great week!

Elder Alex Swindler


1) Posterity picture - Elder Merrill, me, and Elder Frederick
2) Goodbye to the Valdez family, one of my favorite families in Oak Ridge

Monday, October 10, 2016

Another Transfer

Hey folks!

Wow. We had an eventful week. Transfers are this week and I will be leaving Melton Lake to go to Lebanon, TN. Elder Frederick will be staying here with a new companion. I'm excited for a new area and new opportunities, but I'm sad to be leaving Melton Lake and Elder Frederick. This has been my favorite area so far - the ward is AWESOME, and there are so many people here that I'll be sad to leave - and Elder Frederick has been a really great companion and friend. But hey, that's how missions go.

A cool story from this week: out of the blue one morning we had a sudden idea to try dropping by a less active member family named the Bainums. We've tried them before and haven't been able to catch them at home, but we figured we might as well. This time when we pulled up, we found them outside on the porch. We walked up and they were all excited to see us. They had a friend with them named Frank. Frank told us that two days before, he had prayed to know if God was there, and promised Him that he would be His servant if He would show him what he needed to do. And then when he came to stay with the Bainums the next night, somehow their conversation turned to the gospel, and they were up talking until 3 am. He told us he didn't think much of it and kind of dismissed it, but then the very next morning, there we were walking up the driveway. He told us he didn't know what it meant exactly or what he was supposed to do, but that he knew that somehow we were sent there by God for him, and that he would listen to whatever we had to say. It was so cool!!

So we came back and taught him the Restoration. It was like nothing he'd ever heard before. He told us it just sounded and felt right, and he promised to read from the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He even accepted the invitation to be baptized! He has a lot of personal struggles he is trying to overcome and he is really reaching out to God right now. Helping him come to know Jesus Christ for himself will make such a difference. And Brother Bainum told us afterwards that he has also been praying for help with some personal struggles for the last few months, and every time he has, the answer he has gotten has been to "talk to the missionaries."

It was a great way to end a transfer. :) I'm excited for Elder Frederick to get to work with all the people here. Frank is one of several people here that just sort of appeared out of nowhere and are super prepared to receive the gospel. Melton Lake has been sort of the area of miracles in that way.

My message this week is something it seems the Lord has been trying to teach me this transfer. It is that if we will try to love Jesus Christ, with everything we've got, then everything else will fall into place for us.

The gospel is true. Christ lives, and He is the way. I love you all. Make yourselves a great week!

Elder Alex Swindler
Pictures:
1-2) Final district pics: Elders T. Nelson, Bateman, Swindler, Frederick, L. Nelson, and Merrill
3) "Killing" Elder Merrill - he will be going home this transfer. I'm gonna miss him. He's been a huge part of my mission. It was cool to serve around him one more time, the first time since he trained me actually.
4) A selfie
5) Zone picture with President & Sister Griffin
6-7) A cool member let us hold his big gun haha
8-9) Goodbye to Crystal, Cameille, and Camron

Video: Just a good ol' boy blaring some country gospel on his motortrike.
video
 
10) We made taco soup!
 

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Book of Mormon

Hey folks!

I apologize but I do not have time to write much of an email this week. We did have a really good week though. The best part was a lesson with an investigator named Kim. She's a longtime friend of a couple of members here in the ward. They have been talking to her about the gospel for years, and she has expressed only mild interest at best, but a few years ago her father passed away, and this past summer her son did as well. Now she is asking some very sincere questions about eternal families and what happens after this life, and she finally agreed to meet with us. When we taught her about the plan of salvation it was clear she felt the Spirit testifying to her of the simple truths, and when we asked her what it would mean to her to be with her family forever, she told us "it would mean more than anything else to me. I would give anything to have that."

It was a sweet experience and I am grateful for it. Kim is wonderful and sincere. And her friends have been awesome to her. They have been true friends to her for so long and she trusts them so much, and their diligence in sharing the gospel with their friend has finally begun to show its fruits.

Melton Lake is a miracle area. We have so many ridiculously golden investigators that have just fallen into our laps.

Another highlight this week was going on exchanges with Elder Merrill, my old trainer. It's been a blessing to serve around him for his last two transfers as a missionary, and this week I got to spend one last day with him. It was cool how it has come full circle - we served together when I first came out, and now again as he is going home. I love him a lot and I'm going to miss having him around. He goes home in 9 days.

And of course, general conference was this week! It was awesome, of course. I hope you all were able to watch at least part of it. I learned so much from the talks, and from the Spirit helping me to apply the messages that were given. One thing that stood out to me was an emphasis on the Book of Mormon. If we will take time every day to study and apply the words of the Book of Mormon, our faith in Christ will grow strong, and we will be able to stand strong in the turbulence of the last days. I have come to love the words of the Book of Mormon as a missionary. They are true and powerful. They testify plainly of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and of the restoration of His gospel in our day. Please, take time every day to feast upon its words. You will not go astray if you will sincerely and faithfully study and apply the words of the Book of Mormon every day.

I love you all!

Elder Alex Swindler

Picture:

1) The selfie that my mom requested.