Monday, December 26, 2016

Star Wars, Pole Dancing, Bedbugs, and the Savior

Hey folks!

This was a pretty eventful week for us. We taught a lady named Tiffany, who is a single mom with 3 kids. Her kids mean so much to her and she really wants the best for them. She told us she knows we are sent to her from God because we came to her door right after an unusually difficult night with her kids and she was at rock bottom. She said He must want her to hear our message.

We also had our Christmas zone conference this week which was awesome. President Griffin gave an amazing talk about the birth of the Savior, and then we had an opportunity to bear testimonies, and then we played dodgeball and watched Star Wars Episode VII (don't worry, we were with President Griffin so it was allowed). It was pretty awesome.

On Christmas Eve we went and did service for a less active sister named Rebecca who lives way, way out in the sticks. She is in her 20's and is kind of crazy. She is a really good musician, and she does gymnastic stuff like aerial silks. And she also does what she calls "pole fitness." Which is basically the nice way of saying that she does pole dancing but is not a stripper haha. She does not currently have a pole in her house, so she asked us to help her install one. So we spent our Christmas Eve afternoon attempting to install a pole-dancing pole for a less active member. Fun stuff.

And then that night we realized we have bedbugs! Yay! Elder Urry had gone on exchanges with the Spanish Elders that morning to teach an English speaking person they had found, and the lesson went well, but that night he was telling me that their house was kind of gross and that there were a bunch of little "beetle things" in the couch that were crawling up his arm. Um, what?? So we checked his coat and sure enough, we found like 3 or 4 bedbugs right off the bat. So we spent our Christmas Eve cleaning the apartment like crazy. Tomorrow we'll bring the landlord over to have it inspected. Hopefully we can get this taken care of soon. :/

And then Christmas Day we had a beautiful sacrament meeting, ate a ton of food, and got to call our families. It was a wonderful day.

I am grateful for my savior Jesus Christ. Because of Him, we do not have to be what we have been. This week at the Christmas zone conference the Spirit bore witness to me of the Savior and His Atonement, and I realized that not only do I believe in Him, but now I can look back and actually see the effects of His cleansing and enabling power in my life. I can see His hand in my life, giving me power beyond my own to be more than I am capable of being on my own. And I can see His hand in the lives of those around me. I still have many weaknesses as we all do, and He knows that because He made us that way. But His enabling power "is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before [Him];" for if we humble ourselves before Him, and have faith in Him, then will He make weak things become strong unto us. (Ether 12:27) How have you seen the hand of Jesus in your life this year? What will you do differently this next year to exercise greater faith in Him, humbly acknowledging your own weaknesses and seeking His enabling power?

I love you all!

Elder Alex Swindler

Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Hey folks!

It's only been a few days, but a lot has happened. We have been working hard and have seen some successes this week. For one thing, we were able to help that part member family move his week, the one I mentioned last week that we found at the ward dinner. We were also finally able to meet with Allen Chappell, one of our investigators who wants to be baptized. He's had some crazy medical stuff going on so we had to move his baptismal date to March.

We also said goodbye to Elder Cazier this week. President Griffin did a sort of half-transfer for all the people who would be going home just after Christmas, and that included Elder Cazier. We drove to Knoxville on Friday to drop him off, and he flew home on Saturday. We were sad to see him go. He's been a good companion. Also, it's been really weird adjusting to just having the two of us. Sometimes we pretend he is still there and talk for him in the car haha.

Oh! We also saw the Nagy family again on Sunday. We love them, they are always our last stop of the week and they are the best. We are usually there for like 2 hours because they are just so awesome. Well, they are a part-member family, and they asked us to start the missionary discussions over again with them, and this Sunday we taught them the Restoration. The Spirit was so powerful as we talked and it was amazing, especially when his step-kids bore testimony to him. Plus they had a friend there that night, just by coincidence, and she stayed for the message, and she really liked it. She asked for a Book of Mormon and said she would read and pray. And both Allen and their friend accepted an invitation to be baptized! We haven't set a date with them yet but we will soon. It was awesome!!

We have something incredible in this church. This is the only true and living church on the earth. That doesn't mean that other churches don't have truth, nor does it mean that this church is perfect. It means that we are led by a living prophet of God, that we have the authority from God to act in His name, and that we have the fullness of His gospel. We are not perfect, and neither is the Church. But we are Christ's, and we can see His enabling power made manifest in our imperfect lives and throughout the history of His church. While there may be things we don't understand - perhaps facets of doctrine or events in our history or actions of church leaders or something else - there is so much we do have and that we do know that the other things become important in perspective, and we can become willing to set them aside for the time being, trusting in God that He will help us understand in time and as we exercise faith in Him and continue onward. As Christ Himself taught us in Matthew 7, the way to know is to taste the fruit: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. ...Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." The fruit of the Restoration is good, and it has blessed my life. I know it will bless the lives of others. That is why I am here sharing it. How has the restored gospel blessed your life? When was the last time you tasted its fruit?

I love you all! Merry Christmas, and make yourselves a great week!

Elder Alex Swindler

All About Them Pics:

1) Goodbye to Elder Cazier. Love that guy.

2) Our ward and primary are the greatest!! They gave us and the Sisters a whole bunch of stuff for Christmas!

3) One of the Sunday school classes attempted to make us gingerbread houses. ...hey, it's the thought that counts, right?

4) I got a haircut

5) Angel with a bazooka

Video: I (sort of) attempt the cinnamon challenge. I know it was only like half a teaspoon full, but hey, it was something.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Burdens

Hey everyone!

We had a half mission conference on Monday with Elder Nielsen of the 70, so our prep day got moved to today. Which is why I'm emailing a couple days late. And we had an extra crazy p day, which is why I'm emailing so late in the day and why this will probably be pretty short.

This week we worked really hard to find people to teach. And we actually had some good success! One of my favorite parts was finding a part member family at a church social (the Bishop introduced us) who are awesome, and want us to come and meet with them. We are helping them move tomorrow. Another favorite part was going tracting in Carthage, TN on Sunday. We had been fasting and praying for people to teach, and we knocked on one door, and the guy who answered was nice but uninterested. But he said we might want to try the people across the street. So we did, and a young newlywed couple popped right out. They watched the Light the World video and then stood in the freezing cold for like 5-10 minutes and talked to us. And they asked us to come back next week, and then told us they wanted to give us something for our church because of how impressed they were with us, and then before we realized what they were doing, they handed us a $100 bill and shut the door. So we went home with our mouths dragging on the ground. Haha that doesn't happen in real life. We'll give the money to the ward this weekend.

My message this week is something I learned at the half mission conference. There is so much I learned there, especially that God answers my prayers and the Holy Ghost is real, because I got a lot of answers there to things I've been struggling with. But one of my favorites is the concept that was shared by Elder Bednar a couple conferences ago: our burdens and loads are really blessings from our loving Heavenly Father. He used an analogy of a friend who got his truck stuck in snow, and it wasn't until he had filled the back with the wood he had come to chop down that he was able to get the traction he needed to get out. We are the same way. Happiness is not necessarily the absence of a burden. Oftentimes we pray for our burdens to be removed from us, but that is often counterproductive to our Heavenly Father's purposes. Much of the time, it would be more appropriate for us to pray for the strength to change our own circumstances. It is in changing our own circumstances and bearing our own burdens alongside the Savior that we are able to change and grow. He desires to help us and to bear our burdens with us, and He will give us strength beyond our own through the enabling power of His Atonement. We access that strength by accepting His will and becoming as a child (see Mosiah 3:19). I have been struggling lately because it can feel like our efforts have been getting us nowhere, especially our efforts to find people to teach who will progress. But this has got me thinking about how I can use this burden to get traction, so to speak, and what God wants me to learn from this experience. What burdens are you carrying that you could reexamine? How are you approaching the Lord about the burdens He has given you?

I love you all! Make yourselves a great week!

Elder Alex Swindler
#LIGHTtheWORLD

Some Pics for Youns and Some Videos:
1) Just chillin in my shades

2) New Christmas sweater

3) Huge burger

4-6) District pics. Elder Cazier is "dying" (going home) this weekend.

7) Crazy Christmas lights

8) Found Elder Milne at the half mission conference! I haven't seen him in ages!

9-10) A lot of the reason for the crazy p day. Elder Lambert got permission and came up from his home in Nashville to spend the day with us. It was awesome. :) I miss that guy.

Video) We tried to scare Elder Urry but it didn't work very well
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Other video) I breathed fire!!
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Monday, December 5, 2016

Hey, It's Kinda Short This Time

Hey folks!

We had a bit of a crazy week. We've been pounding the pavement trying to share the Christmas initiative with as many people as we can. I actually have to make this pretty short because we have to get up super early tomorrow morning to drive to Knoxville, so we'll see how this goes.

We finally saw Fabian, our investigator, again! We had a good lesson with him about real intent. He opened up a little about how he has mostly been investigating for his wife's sake (she's an active member of the church), not really for himself. We helped him to see that that might be why he hasn't received much of an answer from the Lord about the truth of the gospel. He has to do it for himself, out of his own love for the Lord.

We also tracted into a Jehovah's Witness guy. We had a great lesson on his porch and yet he still wouldn't accept a Book of Mormon or even a pass-along card. That was kinda frustrating. But it was still good, because we had a member named Ammon with us who we have been trying to encourage to go on a mission, and it was really good to have him there. Even though the guy didn't accept, Ammon still got to bear his testimony and it was good.

Today at the store Elder Urry struck up a conversation with a legit lady named Alexandria! He's already turning out to be a great missionary.

Well I'm out of time. I'd like to encourage you to study the example of the Brother of Jared. He is mentioned as an example of one who had great faith. What made his faith so great? I think there are a number of instances where his incredible faith is really shown, especially in Ether 3 when he sees the Savior. Another instance is in Ether 2, when he comes to the Lord and says:

"18 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me.

"19 And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish."

The Brother of Jared saw a problem and had some concerns. But he didn't stop building the boats because of that. He trusted that the Lord knew what He was doing and he kept working until he had done all he could, and THEN he turned to the Lord. I think in his shoes I might have stopped working as soon as I saw the problems, and gone to the Lord and said, "um, excuse me, but I found a possible problem with your plan..." But not him. He kept working.

D&C 123:17 says: "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

Let's all strive to increase and exercise our faith in the Lord by striving to do His work and trusting in Him. I love you all! The gospel is true!

Elder Alex Swindler
#LIGHTtheWORLD