Monday, November 28, 2016

Carolina Reaper

Hey folks!

This week was pretty crazy. We picked up a third companion and ate tons of food and did a lot of tracting and all in all had a pretty good time.

On Tuesday we got together as a district and did a hot pepper challenge. We all ate jalapeƱos and white habaneros, and then the member who brought the peppers brought out a couple of Carolina Reapers. Elder Cazier and I were the only ones brave enough (or stupid enough) to do it haha. Aaand it sucked. Haha but we both did it without dying or throwing up, so that's good! And now I can say I've eaten the hottest pepper in the world. :)

Wednesday was transfers, which meant lots and lots of driving. And we got a third companion! His name is Elder Urry, he's from Bountiful, UT, and he's brand new. Elder Cazier and I are trio training him. So far it's been pretty fun.

Thursday we ate TONS of food. Like, tons. I wish I'd weighed myself before and after because it was pretty impressive. First we ate with a less active family (and we invited the daughter to come to church, and she came!), then we went home and digested for awhile, then went and finished up at the Hokanson's, a legit member family here in the ward. I'm actually related to them, funny enough. Brother Hokanson is my mom's cousin and Sister Hokanson was one of her best friends in high school. And of course they loaded us up with lots of pie to top it off. We waddled home that night.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday we did a ton of tracting, trying to share this year's Christmas initiative with as many people as we could. Personally I have been trying to get more out of my comfort zone by talking to more of the people we pass on the streets and by being more bold on doorsteps. And we actually had some success, especially Sunday! We spent the evening working up in Carthage, TN, one of the more far-out towns in our area, and several people talked to us and said we could come back. Which is awesome. It can get really discouraging when no one seems to want to listen. So this weekend was definitely a bit of a pick-me-up. And we also got to end our Sunday night at the Nagy's house, a part-member family that are one of my favorites here. We really want to set a baptismal date with Allan, the father. He really likes the Church and its teachings and we think he would probably accept the invitation to be baptized.

This week I'd like to invite you all to take a minute to watch this year's Christmas initiative, Light The World. You can find it at Mormon.org. One thing I really like about the initiative this year is that it is not just a passive, watch-and-forget sort of thing. It invites us to act and take initiative in sharing the light of Christ with others. As you watch, I would invite you to consider what you will do to share the light. There are even handy suggestions on the website for each of the 25 days of December leading up to Christmas Day, starting with a worldwide "day of service" on Thursday, Dec 1. I would also ask you to share the initiative on social media, and to prayerfully seek for an opportunity to share it with someone specific, someone who might be brought closer to Christ by your sharing this with them. Do it personally and with your family. Make it fun! This is a great opportunity for us to share the light. (Mosiah 16:9, 3 Ne 18:24)

Let's all light the world! I love you guys!!

Elder Alex Swindler
#LIGHTtheWORLD

The Pictures

1) Elder Cazier and I passed out in the living room Friday night and Elder Urry took a stealthy pic

2) District Thanksgiving selfie with Melia

(I don't have the videos of us eating the Carolina Reapers yet but I will get them!)

UPDATE: Here are the videos of us eating the Carolina Reapers.
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Monday, November 21, 2016

Omni 1:26

Hey folks!

I just have time to share a quick verse with you. It's Omni 1:26:

"And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved."

There is so much more to the gospel than simply knowing, or checking boxes and saying we're done and good and we're keeping the commandments and going to heaven. If we want to truly know Jesus Christ for ourselves and partake of His peace and love, we must come and experience the power of His redemption for ourselves. To come to know Him, to become converted, to experience this redeeming power, we must lay our whole souls on the offer of sacrifice unto Him. We must consecrate our whole selves - body and spirit. We must repent. Which is a lot to ask.

So what are you holding back? What things do you need to change and improve? What can you lay on the altar of repentance?

Our mission is doing a 40 day "fast" from certain things that we each personally and prayerfully consider. We're abstaining from - or making conscious effort to be more Christ-like with - specific and personally chosen things in each of 6 areas: Disobedience, Fear, Passions, Pride, Attitude, and Laziness. I've fasted and prayed personally and chosen some things I will sacrifice. And if you are up to it, I'd like to challenge you to do the same. If we will all do this, I know we will all become more consecrated servants of our Savior. I know also that by striving to offer our whole souls as an offering unto Him, and continuing in fasting and praying, we will come to know Him for ourselves, and we will have the lasting and fulfilling peace and joy that come from that.

Iff you are struggling to come up with things to lay on the altar, might I suggest prayerfully studying Alma 5 for some ideas? Just remember: you have to make these things specific! Not just "I will fast from being prideful," for example, but what specific prideful behavior will you fast from? How will you do it?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has been restored to the earth in its fullness by the prophet Joseph Smith. Jesus lives today! And this truly is His church. I have felt the Spirit witness of these things to me many times this week. I know also that anyone can come to this knowledge if they desire. It requires real desire, humble prayer, consecrated work, moral courage, and a willingness to put faith before doubt. It is very doable. And it is a lifelong endeavor. It will never be finished in this life and no one is exempt from trying.

I love you all,
Elder Alex Swindler
#LIGHTtheWORLD

Pics:
1) A last district picture with a recent convert named Sheri

2) A pretty sunset

3) Tater Peeler Rd. Yep. Gotta love Tennessee.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Belief is a Choice

Hey folks!

Our week was pretty good. It had some ups and downs. Probably one of the coolest ups was finding a less active member named Rebecca. Not sure if I already told you about us helping her move in last week or the week before, but her dad (who is a member in Cherokee, NC) called us and asked if we could help him move some furniture into his daughter's house. So we did, and afterwards we left a note with our number that said if she ever needs help with anything, give us a call. Well, we didn't really think she'd ever call us... But then this week, out of the blue, she did! So we went out and helped her with some things for a couple hours and she wants us to come back. It was a neat little experience, finding her.

We also found a new investigator named Steven who likes to talk, a lot. He's actually a former investigator whose name we found and decided to try, and he wants us to come back. Hopefully we can get a word in edgewise and teach him a little, because he seems like he has some real potential.

We had an interesting experience this week with finding a part-member family. We found the names of a couple youth-aged members who weren't active and decided to try them, and the lady who answered let us right in and was super friendly. The family clearly knew who we were and liked us too (which, like, never happens). Turns out they used to be super active but then the  mom (after a series of events and other things in her life) decided to have her name removed from the records of the Church. We called her later to set up an appointment and ended up talking for a long time about why she made that decision. And ever since then it's had me thinking.

My message this week is brief, and it is inspired by this experience. It is that belief is a choice. I could have argued with this woman at length and made a good stand. I probably could have "proved" my point, and done it quite eloquently. She certainly could have "proved" hers as well. And it would have gotten us nowhere.

The gospel is not something that can be proved or disproved by debate, or logic, or study, or facts. While those are useful tools and can indeed support the truth of the gospel, they alone cannot prove it.

God has designed our mortal experience to give us opportunity to choose for ourselves. We cannot learn or grow in this life without making a choice. And belief is one of those choices. I can choose to listen to the Lord, try the fruit, taste that it is good, and then act on that knowledge. Or I can choose to taste of the fruit and then listen to the voices of the great and spacious building and wander away. Or I can choose not to taste the fruit at all. But I must make a choice. Facts and figures and study will not prove its goodness to me, nor will it cause me to stay by the tree. Only tasting the fruit will tell me of its goodness, and only my own freedom to choose will keep me by the tree. I can choose to find reasons to stay, or I can choose to find reasons to leave. But I must choose.

I hope that makes sense. The gospel is true. I know it. And I also choose to believe it. I hope you will all do the same.

Love,
Elder Alex Swindler

Pics and stuff:

We were at a really pretty dam! So I took some dam pictures! Also a district picture with the zone leaders.



More stuff:
1) I burn some pants (to celebrate 18 months of missionary-ing)
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2) Potato baseball
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3) I can't jump over fences, apparently
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Monday, November 7, 2016

18 months

Hey folks!

I hit 18 months yesterday and it's super weird. I'm not ready to be this close to home yet!

This week was pretty good. Highlights were meeting a really sweet investigator guy named Fabian. He is the husband of an active member and really likes the Church. He opened up to us a little more about his concerns. He seems to be a little afraid to pray and ask the Lord if these things are true. He wants to do what the Lord wants him to do, but he also knows that if he were to be baptized, he would feel like he would be betraying his mother's faith (she was a devout member of another faith). Even though he knows she would fully support his decision either way. I think he just wants us to understand where he is coming from.

We also had a great lesson with Nathan, a guy our age we found last week, and his dad Roger. Nathan knows the Bible really well and belongs to another faith, but he wants to understand what our beliefs are and where we are coming from. He wants to know why we put so much effort into proselyting to other Christians. We taught him the Restoration and it went well. He kept having an issue though with the idea of prophets and priesthood authority after the coming of Christ. He accepted the truth of it before His coming, but he kept saying, didn't Jesus finish His work on the cross? Why would he need to call prophets after his coming? Isn't he capable of directing His work on His own by the Holy Spirit which He sent after His ascension?

This is what I wanted to talk about briefly this week. We have a unique message to the world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fullness to the earth! That means we have a better understanding of the grace of God and of His grand purposes than any other religion. Because of the Restoration, we understand that we are not just meant to be saved, but to become perfected and glorified. To change. We understand that God's work is not merely to save His children, but to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

Of course Jesus finished His work on the cross. He finished the perfect and complete and infinite atonement for our sins. It is finished! No more price can ever be paid than that which was paid by Him. And of course He is capable of directing His work without the aid of man. He has absolutely no need of our help, whatsoever. He doesn't need to call prophets. He doesn't really need any of us to do anything, as far as completing His work perfectly. He can do that just fine on His own.

But what would be the point of that? Sure, we would be saved, but for what? Would we really be all that different? No! So, really, although He could certainly do His work on His own better than He could by means of mortal man, He chooses us to be participants in this great work, all of us, if we are willing. He knows that by using the "weak and the simple" - you and me - to proclaim the gospel, He really fulfills His purposes, because we learn and grow. That is why we have prophets. If we will listen to them and trust in Him and join in this work, we will all grow together. If he just came down and did it all, there wouldn't be much growth.

Sorry if this is scattered. I am out of time. I love you all!

Elder Alex Swindler