Monday, January 30, 2017

Adventures in Lebanon

Hey everyone!

I don't have time to send much this week but suffice it to say that we had a good one. Highlights were that Fabian is making good progress! We brought a member with us named Brother Keefe to see him, and he told his own conversion story, and it made such a difference for Fabian. He inadvertently ended up addressing, like, all of Fabian's major concerns. We are excited to see how far he has come.

Also this week, we had a worldwide Missionary Broadcast, and there were some major changes made by the Apostles in the missionary daily schedule! The new schedule they presented allows us much more flexibility to decide when and what we do during the day. They also taught us a lot about true repentance and how we can help people to make real changes in their lives.

And then a couple days later we had a wonderful zone conference with President Griffin. He talked about repentance a lot as well. We all carry heavy chains of sin that weigh us down, but because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, those chains can be dropped, and they need not be picked up again. Which means we don't need to keep beating ourselves up over past mistakes which we have repented of. We have changed, and now we move on. And while we cannot take the chains of others from them, we can help them bear the weight and help and encourage them to let them go themselves with the help of the Savior.

I have to go but I love you all and the gospel is true! I know that as we strive to serve God and keep His commandments, He pours out His Spirit more abundantly upon us, and our hearts begin to change. Let's all try to do that more this week.

Elder Alex Swindler
11320 Station West Dr. Ste. 101
Farragut, TN 37934

Here's some pictures from our week:

1) Oh look, a floating head. How nice.

2) We decorated the other Elders' toilet today.

Videos: We did apple cider vinegar shots, just for fun.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Short One

Hey folks!

I don't have time to say much of anything this week, but suffice it to say that we had an awesome week. We struggled a little at the beginning, but we started just leaving the apartment and hitting the pavement and trying to talk to people, and every time we got out and worked, we met someone that we were able to share the gospel with or who invited us to come back. I know that the Lord truly does bless us when we get up and try, especially when we are trying to do His work. He loves us. His work is our salvation, and He is best able to help us and those around us when we try and when we get out and work. He helps those who are willing to work. I love Him and I love being a part of His work. And I love you all! Let's all seek His help this week as we get up and work. And let's all seek for opportunities to selflessly serve and lift others along the way. Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever, after all.


Elder Alex Swindler
11320 Station West Dr. Ste. 101
Farragut, TN 37934

1-2) I had my first fried Oreos this week and they were AMAZING.

3) Elder Urry took a sneaky picture of our investigator, Alan. He's great. We just have to get him to church. By the way, if you wouldn't mind, would you pray that he will be able to make it to church this week? He really wants to come, but crazy things keep happening every week that prevent him from coming.

4) Some tasty cheese from the back of our fridge.

5) Is it a cat or a lion?

Fun with Vacuums:
It really sucked.

Monday, January 16, 2017

168 Hours

Hey folks!

This week was good. One highlight was finding a guy named Jack Presley! We saw he had a bunch of military stuff outside his house while we were tracting, so we mentioned it at his door and he let us right in and told us about all his family who have served in the military. A couple of his brothers even lost their lives serving our country. We talked with him about eternal families and he asked us to come back. It was pretty cool.

Another highlight was that we went on exchanges with the zone leaders, and one of our new zone leaders is Elder Constantino, an Elder I served around in my last area! I love that guy. He is so genuinely kind and selfless. We had a good time together talking about people and catching up. Also this week we had a whole bunch of our members come out with us. It was pretty great. This ward is awesome. Our members really want to support us and be engaged in the work of the Lord.

A not-so-highlight of our week was that a lot of our investigators cancelled on us. We weren't able to meet with James, or with Allen, or Fabian, or a few of our other investigators. But! James did tell us that he has been reading from the Book of Mormon. So that's good.

Elder Urry and I have been working hard and doing a lot of tracting. We have actually gotten pretty good at it. We found several people this week that could become really promising investigators. Also, I love my district. Elder Vellinga and Elder Hatch are super cool, especially Elder Vellinga. And I really like our Sisters, Sister Beare and Stevens. I'm gonna miss this district when transfers roll around again in a few weeks.

I wanted to share something that stood out to me in the Book of Mormon this week. In 1 Nephi 7:13, Nephi exhorts his brethren to be faithful to the Lord: "Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to His will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to Him." How often do we forget that? It struck me because I realized I had forgotten that this week. The Lord is able to do all things according to His will for us if we will exercise faith in Him.

One more thing stood out to me as well from this story. A few verses later, after being bound by his brothers, Nephi prays to the Lord and asks: "O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound." Nephi does not pray for his circumstances to be changed - for his bands to miraculously disappear or fall from his hands. Rather, he prays for the strength to change his circumstances - for the strength to burst his own bands. Then he went to work, trusting in God, diligently working at his bands to break them, and he was given strength from the Lord beyond his own. This is how he exercised faith in the Lord. When we find ourselves bound and trapped in our circumstances, we can learn from the example of Nephi. We can exercise our faith in the Savior, pray for the strength to change our circumstances according to His will, and then go to work, seeking to bring about His will and the desired change in our circumstances.

I testify that if we will exercise faith in Jesus Christ, He is able, according to His will, to do all things for us. And He is able to give us His enabling and strengthening power, to make us able to change our own circumstances. Let us excercise faith in Him! Let us seek His help as we go to work striving to change our own circumstances.

I love you all!

Elder Alex Swindler

1) Half mission conference pic, from a few weeks ago

2) Cool lookin' tree

3) We were dead after weekly planning this week

4) Nice

5) My jack-leg guitar. I broke my guitar string this week (again! I just barely got new strings after breaking the exact same string a few weeks ago), and I didn't want to buy another string, so I tried just tying it in a knot, and it worked! This guitar is basically being held together by wood glue, a knot, and prayers.

Video 1) I tried to dump ice cold water on Elder Urry but I missed by about an inch.

Video 2) We made a quartet!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Short One

Hey folks!

I don't have time for much of an email this week, but I'll send some pictures. Alan wasn't able to make it to church, and neither was Cory, but James read from the Book of Mormon this week! And we found a cool new guy named Brian. We taught him the Restoration out on his front porch in subfreezing weather. It was awesome.

This week I've been thinking a lot about submitting our will to the Lord's. In times when it is hard to trust and obey Him, or when exact obedience to gospel standards and the higher law is difficult and inconvenient, remember and be grateful for the choice our Savior made when He said in His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, "not my will, but Thine be done." He made that choice, so that now we will have access every day to His infinite Atonement! Where would we be if He had not chosen the difficult, but right, path that night? We can choose the harder right. We can obey the higher law. We can be exactly obedient. Because we love Him, and He loves us. He will help us.

I love you all!

Elder Alex Swindler
11320 Station West Dr. Ste. 101
Farragut, TN 37934

1-2) Elder Urry got pooped on by a bird

3) New Christmas sweater

4) Last District pic before transfers, plus the zone leaders

5) Whippoorwill Rd

6) It snowed this week!! :)

7) Shouldn't that read "road closed?"

 Pranking the other Elders

Monday, January 2, 2017

Golden Investigators

Hey folks!

This week was absolutely awesome. I wish I had time to do it justice. I'll do my best with the time I've got.

First on Tuesday we found a super interested guy named Cory! It had been a pretty long day with not much success and we were both feeling kind of discouraged, when Elder Urry suggested we try just two more houses at the end of the road we were on before giving up for the night. So we did, and it turned out to be one of those Ensign-article finding situations that doesn't actually happen in real life. Like I said, his name is Cory, and he's going through a pretty rough patch right now with his family. He could really use your prayers, actually, if you wouldn't mind. We started talking about his dogs and somehow ended up teaching about the Restoration with him being suuuper interested. He really wants to know about living prophets, and he asked us a bunch of random questions that are all perfectly answered by the Plan of Salvation, and we showed him Ether 12:27 and it like blew his mind and he started crying and told us about a lot of what he was going through. He told us he knows we were sent there from God. We came not 2 hours after some major life events and he knows he needs to listen to us. It was so cool!!!

I will skip to the other major events to save time because this is already long. On Friday we taught Alan Chappell again and he is doing well! He had to have his toe amputated a month ago and so he has had to spend some time recovering but he is doing much, much better now and asked us if we could find him a ride to church next week. Which is awesome because his lack of church attendance is our biggest worry for him. He is still pretty motivated to be baptized on March 17. We are glad to see him make progress. He could use prayers too!

Saturday we taught Mitch and Brianna, the part member family that we helped move to Lebanon two or three weeks ago. It went pretty well! We just talked about the Atonement and how the Savior not only enables us to be free from our sins, but also helps us to "bear up our burdens with ease." They have been struggling a lot lately under their burdens and I know that if they will turn to the Savior He will make their burdens lighter. We invited them to start coming to church again to make the Savior the center of their lives. They want us to come back and teach them more and we are excited. After that we went to cracker barrel for dinner to celebrate New Year's Eve and in the middle of our meal a member who worked there came our and talked to us and then bought our food! It was awesome.

Sunday we had a beautiful fast and testimony meeting. So many people bore simple and humble testimony of the Savior and of His power to bless and heal us and our families. After church we met with Tony, a guy we found tracting. He is a father of 7 kids and he and his wife are struggling a lot right now in their marriage. He is having a bit of a crisis of faith because of it and it seems like he may be hoping that we can help him find his faith again. We are pretty excited to work with him.

And then tonight, we found one of the most golden Investigators I have ever seen! His name is James. We found him tracting a few weeks ago and he seemed like he just wanted to argue, so we weren't sure about coming back, but a few days ago we saw him again and promised him we would come back tonight. We knocked 4 times and he didn't answer, and just after I'd given up and had even written him a note with our number on it to leave in the door, Elder Urry decided to knock just one more time, and this time he answered and invited us right in! And we had probably the greatest first lesson I have ever had on my entire mission. I wish I could describe every bit of it to you. He is so sincere and was literally sitting on the edge of his seat by the end. He's pretty much perfect as far as investigators go. He already believes so much of what we believe. And it all made so much sense to him. When we asked him if he would be baptized if he finds out for himself that this message is true, he told us "well, of course!!" and looked at us like we were crazy for even thinking the question was worth asking. It was AMAZING, I tell you. I do not have words to describe it. It was literally the most perfect first lesson I can remember ever being in, ever.

Well, I wish I had time to say more, but I don't. The restored gospel is true. I know the Lord is preparing people to receive it and I am grateful He had patiently led us to a couple of them. I know that if we as members of the Church will pray for and seek to find those people whom He has prepared, and look for opportunities to share the gospel with them, and if we will fear not and persevere, the Lord will lead us to them or He will lead them to us.

I love you guys!

Elder Alex Swindler