Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just saying hi!

May 27, 2009

Hey Dad!

This week was really busy and kinda stressful. I have to teach tomorrow in the TRC in ALL Albanian! I am horrible! It is actually a really hard language. But I'll just keep trying my best and hope it works out. I have no idea how I'm going to learn to even get myself by before I get to Albania. Ugh.

Ha ha anyway, I miss you guys. My callouses are disappearing which is a really sad thing. I miss my guitar. But I do get to play the piano a lot on Sundays and sing a lot so I guess I can't complain. I am getting worse though ha ha. It's kinda embarrassing, but o well! Apparently the people in Albania are like the worst singers ever so I hopefully am not too bad.

How is work going? Are you still doing a lot of consulting? That's pretty cool stuff. Have you started the yard yet? It's getting warm. The days are so nice now. Too bad I'm just inside all day! Ha ha, but it's okay. I'll enjoy it while I can. I get to Albania in the middle of summer with crazy high humidity. So that should be pretty intense.

Anyway I should probably move on to Lindsey and Mom. Hope you are doing well! Tell everybody hi for me! I miss you and I love you. See ya soon!

-Elder Erik Swenson

Hey Mom!

How's it going? So apparently a lot has happened in the past little while. I've only been gone 5 weeks and all my friends are either gone or know where they're going?! What?! Oh my heck it's so crazy. But it's way exciting too. Thanks for everybody's addresses. I can't wait to write them and see how they're doing. They are going to be amazing missionaries! I wish I was going to be as good as they are! I wish I could have been there for their farewells! O my gosh you have no idea how excited I am for Braden to get here. We're not even going to see each other that much, but just knowing that he's coming through here is so exciting. I had the opportunity to make some really good friends going to Tallahassee Florida so maybe Braden will meet them when he gets there. I'm so excited for him. He is going to be a WAY good missionary. We've written a couple letters to each other and I was happy to hear that he's gone through the temple now. That is so cool! When everybody gets back we are all going to go on a "temple tour" of Utah. Ha ha well nobody really knows that, but I'm officially declaring that right now.=)

Anyway, I want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for the package you sent me. I LOVE the music! It's kinda stupid though cause my roommates don't like it, but I sneak it in there when I can. I really appreciate that. And I also want to thank you for always taking care of me and sending me stuff I need. I am always like I need this or I need that and it ends up here like 2 days later! You're awesome mom!

ANYWAY! How are you? How are things going on the home front? What do you guys do these days? Are you still doing the whole scrapbook thing? You are really good at that. Oh by the way, could you send my memory card back once you're done with it? I have others, but it's just nice to have extras. I need to take more pictures, huh? I'll try, but I don't have like ANY time! And I was never very good at taking pictures anyway. If you guys ever have any pictures to send me, please do! I love pictures! They are my absolute favorite! How is the family? I got a letter from Grandma and Grandpa that was WAY nice! I can't remember if I wrote them back or if you find out that I haven't please tell me ha ha.

Anyway, I should probably go. Mom, I love you. Are you keeping up on your temple goal? That is a great goal! I'm grateful to you being the example to me. You have a strong testimony that is evident in the things you do. I will always be grateful to you for that. Thanks for all your love and support! Have a great week!

-Elder Erik Swenson

P.S. Oh funny story. So in class we did a presentation on our families and describing them in Albanian. Motra said her mom was a bad cook. I can't even imagine. I miss food. That is all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My MTC Schedule

May 20, 2009

Hey Mom & Dad!‏

C'kemi! How are you? Okay so before I forget, I will tell you a little about the MTC. We're basically on a tight schedule, but it is definitely a fun experience. We wake up at 6:30 every morning so we can be in class by 7:00. Usually the first thing we do is personal study then breakfast at 8:15 then some sort of class until 1:00 lunch. We have a teacher some days and some days we'll do language study or companionship study. Thursdays we go to the RC (Referral Center) which is like the call center for the church commercials so it's like actual missionary work on the phones. It was kind of scary the first time, but it's really just talking to people so I learned that it is actually really fun. Thursdays we also go to the TRC (Teaching Resource Center) which is where people that served their missions in your country come and you teach them as if they were investigators. I'm nervous because tomorrow is the last time we will be teaching in English. The rest is just Albanian from here on out. Yup. Pretty intense. Fridays are the days we have the most class time. The only breaks from class from 7:00 A.M. to 9:30 P.M. are for meals. All the rest is class. And Saturdays are basically the same. Sundays are pretty cool. We have priesthood at 9ish and sacrament at 12:30 followed by district meeting (Sunday school) at 1:30. But other than that you basically just study on Sundays. At night on Sundays we have firesides and church movies and then Tuesday nights we have devotionals which are basically the same thing. They get really awesome speakers for those. I've already heard M. Russell Ballard and Russell M. Nelson. Pretty cool stuff. Mondays we have something, but I can't really remember what it is right now ha ha. Oh yeah it's service. We wake up and clean bathrooms at 6:35 a.m. Oh baby it's fun. Ha ha and then Tuesdays we have something else that I can't remember which brings us to Wednesday which is my P-Day when we go to the temple and write letters and do laundry and such. Yep! So there ya have it. My MTC schedule. Ha ha pretty exciting, huh?

I totally got your letter, but I totally forgot to bring it with me to the e-mailing place so I really can't remember anything. Everything is just a blur here at the MTC ha ha. So I'm glad you went to my friends farewells. They're amazing! I've definitely been thinking about them these past few days and especially today since T and Fjeldsted are both out there now. It's crazy sauce! And I can't wait for Braden to get here. I need to know his reporting time so I can go say hi. Oh! I also need the McCord's address! And Q-Tips! And Listerine! =) Ha ha sorry. Thank you so much for the package you sent me! I feel so much more normal carrying around some guitar picks. =) I don't know if you tried to send me my driver's license, but. . . . I didn't get it so if you tried I don't know what happened to it. But thanks so much for everything in the package, especially the CD. I love music. And we don't have much time to listen to it out here so I appreciate it a ton!

This week is our last week teaching in English at the TRC. From here on out it is Albanian! We can teach in Albanian already, but it's really really slow. It is a hard language! It's fun to learn though and it feels really good when you say something right. =) I love the hymns too. Some of them are so so so weird, but others sound really beautiful. Like C'do or me Duhesh Ti (I Need Thee Every Hour) or Kur Prap Tako'emi (God Be with You Till We Meet Again). My teachers are really great too. I feel really comfortable with them and they are very patient and understanding. They definitely strengthen my testimony. It's so fun to hear about the Albanian people and what the country is like. We saw some pictures of the country this week and there are some places that are SOOOO beautiful. I hope I get to serve there. =)

Okay so my roommate just reminded me we have to go with him to get his haircut so I have got to get off. Dad, I enjoyed your letter and your story actually fits in to one of the principles we have to teach in the first lesson so it was great!

I love you guys and I miss you! I think of you often.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Things are going great!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Hey Dad,

Things are going well. Teaching is getting slightly better, but it's still hard. I can tell that probably the hardest thing for me is going to be simplifying my teaching so that anyone could understand it. It's hard, but I know with the Lord's help I'll get it. The biggest thing is just relying on the Spirit. Sometimes you will have prepared an entire lesson and spent a lot of time working on it and then you start teaching and the investigator needs something different. But because you prepared and put forth the effort, the spirit will tell you what to say. Just like D&C 100 says.

Ha ha and I'm glad I was able to get mom such an touching and tender gift. That really warms my heart. Ha ha. Yeah I did fine on Mother's Day actually. I'm not having a very hard time anymore. Sure, I miss home and I miss doing the things I was able to do before, but I'm getting used to it and I know that you guys and the piano and my guitars and my room and everything will still be there when I get back. And I know time is going to fly by. It's pretty crazy.

About the hymn, I thought I told you this before, but that is my favorite hymn. Lead, Kindly Light. Hymn #97. It used to be If You Could Hie To Kolob, but it changed with the prospect of the mission. I have definitely sung that song many a time since I've been here. I think it is the most comforting hymn that a missionary could know. And it is beautiful musically as well. Oh! By the way, Voice Male does a rendition of it I believe so if you could maybe possibly get your hands on a Voice Male hymns CD that would be nice. =) And that Mo-Tab CD and
Todd McCabe and April Moriarty CD would be great too. ha ha those I already have, but not the Voice Male one.

Well it sounds like you're doing okay. It's definitely getting hotter so I'm sure the hill will be undergoing renovation soon =). Good luck with that! Anyway, I love you and miss you. But I'll see you soon! Oh and I don't know if I mentioned this, but I think I get to call when I leave on July 7th so don't go anywhere! ha ha See ya!

-Elder Erik Swenson

Hey mom!

Happy Mother's Day!! So I'm sending your mother's day "present" tonight in the mail. I'm sorry it's late, but know that I was thinking of you and yes I knew it was mother's day. But your present is really lame as you can imagine what with me being at the MTC and all. Well I'll just tell you. It's my SD card. So it has some pictures on it. But not a ton. There's not a ton of time to take pictures, but I try. So I'm sending them to you! Okay by the way if you could send me a calendar that would be fantastic! Ha ha I sound so needy. I swear I ask for something every week. Sorry! Thank you so much again for the backpack and starch! I love it! I iron my shirts every night and I love the starch. So thank you again.

I'm glad you got to get out in the yard again! Yeah it's definitely stressful. I hated it. Obviously. But that's good. It does become a lot easier when you just do it a little at a time. Set realistic goals and plan for them. That's what we do!

It sounds like that mother's day dinner would have been a blast! I wish I could have been there. Tell the family hi for me whenever you see them. Especially Grandma and Grandpa. I miss 'em. And it sounds like you got some pretty good loot for mother's day ha ha. A box of sham wow's? Really? I'm guessing that was from dad from me? Ha ha but that is awesome. It's actually probably better than your real present ha ha.

Man the ward is just changing isn't it?! Crazy sauce. Braden will be awesome in that class. That is like his thing. He is way comfortable doing that. But he's only going to teach for like 2 weeks so that's kinda lame. But I am SO EXCITED for when he comes here! Tell him to find me! The english speakers in our district that just left were going to Florida Tallahassee so he COULD even be in our district. It's a stretch, but yeah. We'll definitely see each other. It will be awesome. Except for he gets to leave before I do! Ugh. That's lame. The MTC is weird because it's just like. . . .fake. Everybody you teach is fake and it's hard to actually try to get to know them and find out what they're really worried about. I can't wait to get to Albania and fall in love with the people. It's going to be awesome.

Okay, tell all of the guys that I love them! I can't believe I have 4 friends leaving in the next 3 weeks. They're going to be awesome. Tell them that Erik says to trust God with everything. They're going to need his help more than ever, but they're also going to feel his spirit and his power more than ever. It will be a great experience. make sure to send me their addresses so I can write them. It will be cool to hear from them. I wrote Tim last week, but it takes forever for letters to get there so I don't expect to hear from him for a while. I can't wait till "the newsletter" comes out. =) I loved the pictures of Tim. Keep sending 'em! ha ha well if you can I mean. But I have one pinned up on my picture board in my room.

Mom, thanks again for everything. I love you so much! Happy Mother's Day!

Te dua,

Elder Erik Swenson

Monday, May 11, 2009

Two weeks!

Hey Dad!

Yep! It's been two weeks already. So just think only 102 more to go ha ha. But things are going really great. I'm having more fun than I thought I would have. I struggle teaching, but hopefully I'm getting better. The thing is that I can teach people who aren't "beginners". Like for instance, when I taught piano, I could teach the kids who weren't just starting out really well, but with the beginners I wasn't as good. It's kinda the same thing with investigators. I'm not very good at just making everything the simplest it can be. But hopefully I'm getting better and I know the Lord will help me if I try my best.

So about the language. It's funny because Albanian isn't similar to any other language. There are latin languages, slavic languages, and like a bunch of other languages that all have the same root, but Albanian is it's own language. It's kind of a cool language though and I'm learning how to teach the first lesson already. I can put very basic sentences together, but they still take me a little while to think of. It's fun though and I think it's going to be so cool when I can speak and write a completely different language. We're teaching the first lesson in the TRC (Teaching Resource Center) tomorrow and it's going to be horrible! It seriously takes me and Motra Bentley like a minute or two to form a sentence and we're teaching in Albanian tomorrow! Ha ha so we're definitely gonna get worked tomorrow, but it's all good.

So that's basically the story. I've definitely got my work cut out for me, but I'm giving it my best shot and having fun doing it. I hope everything is going well at home. I hope it's not too strange without me. =) But I'm sure you guys will get used to it in no time. I love you dad and I hope you have a great week! Hope to hear from you soon!Love you!

-Elder Erik Swenson

Hey Mom!

Holy cow I've got a lot to write and not a lot of time to do it. How are things going? How is the family? Have you guys started working outside yet? This last week has been absolutely beautiful! It's crazy! Oh and about that albanian sentence. It was supposed to say I am grateful to be a missionary so I think I made a couple mistakes, but it was close! So things are still going really well. The MTC is a great place. I guess I wouldn't really like to stay here for 12 weeks, but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes. I'll live. Ha ha Hey you are freaking awesome for going to the temple every week! Keep it up! YOU WILL BE BLESSED. I promise. I went to the temple today and let me tell you, we missionaries definitely need our temple visit each week. It's just so peaceful and calm and it really helps us out. It's a great place. That is way cool that they have a new YM Presidency. I'm sure they'll do a great job even though they have a lot to live up to. Tell Bro. Webb that I appreciate everything he has done for the young men of the ward. He was an awesome guy and he definitely gave it all he had. He taught us all a lot.

So this week I actually had some really cool experiences. And they weren't even like huge things, but they were big to me. I'll just tell you one. I've set a goal to memorize 3 scriptures each day while I'm at the MTC (which is proving to be dang impossible!). So the other day I was memorizing the first vision and I was just saying it over and over and over again. And as I was saying it one time, the spirit just crashed into me and confirmed completely that what I was reciting was true. Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ and restored the whole truth to the earth. I know that. It was a great experience.

So I will just e-mail you my testimony for the guys, okay? here goes.

I know this gospel has been restored. I know that Joseph Smith prayed and saw our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know he was called as a prophet in these latter days and executed that calling with more faith than any other. I know the Book of Mormon is true. It really does have the answers to any question we need answered. I love being able to wake up every morning and study. I learn so much from those words. I know that we can repent and become clean. I know that Christ, our Savior, died for us. I know that he had such selfless love as to lay down his life for all of our short comings. I love my Savior. I always will.

Love you mom! I've got to e-mail Lindsey now! See ya!

-Elder Erik Swenson