Monday, August 24, 2009

What does ignominious mean?

Hey mom!

Okay so the power definitely just went out and shut off every single computer in this place so I just lost my entire e-mail to you. SO. I’m going to write it again shpejt e shpejt (quickly), okay?

First question. What does ignominious mean? It says in Alma chapter 1 that Nehor dies an ignominious death. And I am either too lazy or just too dumb to figure it out ha ha. So if you could help me out with that one, that would be great!

So anyway, how are things going? It looks really nice at home from the pictures you’ve sent me. It’s amazing how perfect our yard looks after you’ve been surrounded by a bunch of yards that 1.) don’t have grass and 2.) are not landscaped at all. So yeah just so you know, from my point of view the yard looks amazing! Ha ha and I got a serious kick out of the picture of Bear on the couch. I told Elder Bullough to check out my dog’s hard knock life. ;) It looks like he has taken over for me pretty well! And those waterfalls are amazing! Did you do that for some special reason or was it just for kicks. Either way that looks like a way nice place. Is that just up Sundance Canyon? We’ll have to go again when I get back.

So that apartment sounds wicked awesome. Ha ha it’s so weird that places get that messed up. In Albania the houses are way clean for the most part. No matter how they look on the outside, the inside is usually very clean and homely. It’s kinda cool. A lot of the houses here make me think of living at Bear Lake for some reason. So yeah, we decided to go with the culture and clean our house too! And it was definitely not as messed up as that apartment sounds. Pretty much there was just a bunch of stuff all over the place and it needed a mopping and a dusting, but we got it done! And we’re keeping it pretty clean. I think I just got used to having a clean house and so it really bugged me and still bugs me when it’s not clean.

Thanks for the scripture! Ha ha what can I say, I’m basically like Shiblon, right? ;) Ha ha I wish. No I love that chapter though. I just love when Alma is giving advice to his sons. And the next chapter is Alma giving counsel to his wayward son so maybe I should read that one more often, huh? Right now I just barely started the New Testament and I have set a goal to get through the Acts by the end of this transfer. I just finished the Sermon on the Mount today which is just jam packed with good stuff. Seriously like every line is awesome. You should read it again if you get the chance. There have been a lot of things that stuck out to me in that Sermon, but I think something that is really cool is how he relates us to a city on a hill or a candle in a house. We are an example and people do see us. (Matt 5:14-16) So therefore we should be an “example of the believers.” We have a quote on our fridge and I don’t know where it came from or who said the quote, but it says “Live so that people who know you, but don’t know Christ will want to know Christ because they know you.” I think that fits along perfectly with that scripture. So I would encourage you guys at home to continue doing your best to do that. You always have so it’s definitely not going to be a big change for you, but I just realized since getting here that people do notice you. They do see something different. We need to make that a good thing and not a bad one. =)

So the contacting is. . . .awesome. We had another week of basically solid tracting. But I kinda like tracting and I’m glad I’m getting used to it right at the beginning of my mission because I am learning how to work hard and to just be happy. And yes you would be right. Most people just blow us off pretty quick. . .but they always ask us if we want to come in and have a drink after they reject us so I guess they’re still good, right? We’ve actually got some pretty hardcore rejections this week. I mean we get rejected a lot, but this week for some reason we just got REJECTED, ya know what I’m sayin’? One of them was so funny though. This one lady who was just determined to say that we were evil was like, “How do you do the cross? Show me how you do the cross.” And I was like, “Well we don’t do the cross actually.” And like right then before I could get out why she was like, “OOOOH! LARG QOFSHIT!” which means literally “may you be far away.” Ha ha basically just like get outta here. I then proceeded to tell her why we didn’t, but she just wouldn’t listen so yeah that was funny. I totally could imagine her like chasing us with like a stick down the road. Ya know, like in the movies you’d see two missionaries running by and then a few seconds later this crazy lady screaming at the top of her lungs with a stick in her hand. Oh man so that was entertaining.

But yeah, it’s hard to just let people have control of their lives ha ha. We definitely wish they could just see why they need to be a part of this church, but it is their choice. Preach My Gospel says that after you’ve done everything you can it is still their choice whether to accept the gospel or not. And in reality most of them don’t. In my patriarchal blessing it says that “. . . most people will not even listen, but you will indeed rejoice in those few that do.” So I know there are people here and that we will find them. We just have to have faith and go through all the ones who aren’t ready in order to find those that are.

Ha ha the place we live in really actually isn’t all that ghetto. It’s small yeah, but it’s fairly nice. Like I really like it. It’s like my safe hole. Right now though we have no water heater or pump for the shower so every morning is just a stream of fetchin’ cold water. But it wakes me up! And I definitely need that when I’m waking up at 6:00 in the morning!

Okay really quick before I go. (Sorry long story, but our P-Day is kinda being interrupted so I’m going to be finishing my e-mails tonight.) Të shkuara means like get well as far as I can tell. At least that’s what Elder Bullough says whenever someone is sick or something so yeah. And makinë is car in Albanian, but if you say “car” here that is a really bad word so I’m trying to get used to saying makinë instead.

Anyway, I gotta go! If I think of anything later, I’ll add it tonight! Love you!! Sorry about the rush!

-Elder Swenson

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Mish i Fresket"

August 17, 2009

One side of Zogu i Zi (roundabout in Tirana e Re)

Our district after 2 straight hours of futbol a couple weeks ago.

Me on the shore in Durrës.

Our district minus Elder Bullough who was taking the picture.

How's it goin'?!

Okay and yes I know what you're talking about with the activity badges now. I guess I'm just one of those guys that needs someone to draw a picture for me. Or maybe I'm like Coach. I don't need someone to draw a picture for me, but I really like it when they do. =) So what is with the rooster thing? That is so weird ha ha. Funny though. Ha ha yeah Bear would have destroyed that thing. How did you catch Bear though?! He is fast! Okay funny thing we saw yesterday that is kind of along the same track. We were going back home for lunch and we saw this cow tied to a dyqan (store) along the road and we were like, "Well that's weird." So we looked at the sign for the store and it says "Mish i Fresket"--in English, "Fresh Meat." Ha ha we thought that was funny.

Okay so questions. Elder Bullough is a really good Elder. We are extremely different. And when I say different, I mean like EXTREMELY different. And if I were to be completely honest, we probably wouldn't have been friends in high school or anything. BUT, we're getting along really well and we both want to do the work. He is very obedient which is a blessing and a half and we have been working together to get things back in order in Kamëz. He is from Orem, Utah and I think his mom either tried to or is going to try to e-mail you at some point. They just decided that they were going to move to China and in a period of 3 weeks made the decision, packed, got the house ready, and left. Crazy sauce. But yeah so I am grateful for my companion and I think this next transfer will be just as good as the last. This is actually the first day of my second transfer, but neither me or Elder Bullough are leaving so that was big news!

Our apartment is small obviously but just great. It was pretty much a mess when I got there, but we've cleaned it up (and yes I did play a major role in that cleaning) and it looks pretty good now. It's hard to fit everything in there without a little bit of clutter, but it's pretty much organized. Elder Bullough is a fantastic cook and I'm learning a little bit. I've set a goal to learn to cook like 2 or 3 meals every week. So hopefully by the time I get home, I will be able to cook pretty well. =) To give you an idea on my progress, I cooked some white sauce yesterday and doubled the butter, but forgot to double everything else and it just ended up all lumpy and gross and yeah. So yeah that's going well! As far as the pictures go, technically we're not even supposed to have our cameras on us except for P-day so it's kinda hard. But I'm just bad at taking pictures anyway. I did get a couple from our district trip to Durrës so I'll try to send you those today. And I'll try really hard to take some more because I definitely want to have pictures to remember my mission by. Um stuff I could use. . . .ha ha I actually wrote a list. Deodorant is the number one thing cause they have like one kind here and it's way hard to find so some Sure would be great! Music would be great, too. I have 2 CD's and that's it ha ha. But no I don't really have a CD player. So that's the problem. So I don't really know what to do about that. And also if you could send me one of the copies of the Children's Hymnbook that we have. That has really good music for prelude and baptisms and stuff. But that's basically it. And that's not urgent at all so seriously this isn't something that has to be done like tomorrow. I was debating whether or not to just wait until Christmas to ask you for that so that gives you an idea of how much time you have ha ha. And no I haven't gotten any packages yet, but we did just barely get mail for the first time in like 2 1/2 weeks.

So this week was kinda disappointing. We didn't even get close to the goals we made. Tons of stuff prished on us and even Flamur's appointments ended up not really happening. We're going to have to move Flamur's baptismal date, which is pretty much lame. We were supposed to meet him every day at 7:00 this week. I think we met him twice. We call him every time and he just says, "I'm having some problems with my family." So I don't know what's going on, but he has his own makinë (car) and he's a strong guy so it's not like his family is doing anything physical to keep him from coming. It's frustrating, but we're meeting him tonight and telling him about the baptismal date thing and hopefully making a baptismal calendar with him. So we'll see how that goes.

But on the good side of things, last night we met a man named Denis who we've met once before. He can't read and so we're going to teach him how to read using the gospel pamphlets and stuff. I'm really looking forward to that. And he says that we teach him how to read for 4 days a week and he'll come to church on Sunday! ha ha sounds good to me!

Well things are going well. Just a frustrating week. Hopefully this one will be better. I love you guys and thanks for all your support and love. It really means a lot. Have a good week, mom!

-Elder Swenson

Hey Dad,

So you guys are just doing the Utah transfer from summer to winter, eh? Sounds like a party. It's definitely still hot during the day here. But it's really nice at night and early in the mornings when we go running. So yeah the answer to the question where is global warming? It's in Albania. Ha ha ha just kiddin'.

Wow there's actually a lot of people that are going on missions that I didn't even think were going to go. That's crazy! Way awesome and they will not regret that decision. I'm so pumped to see where Cameron is going (by the way, he is not one of those that I didn't think was going ha ha). You guys have to tell me as soon as you find out. Tell him good luck and I'm praying for him. He's an awesome kid and he'll do wonders wherever he goes.

Yeah the homesickness has actually been really hard lately. I think it just hit me that I'm not going to see you guys or anybody else that I love from home for a really long time. But I've been praying for help to get lost in the work and to find joy in others. It's really hard when I can't even carry out a conversation with somebody, but I'm trying. It's just like I wrote mom last week. It might take a long time, but I'm going through this for a reason and I'm going to be that much stronger after it's over. But it's true. When we're teaching a lesson or talking to somebody or teaching our members how to lead music =) it is an amazing feeling and I don't feel homesick at all. It's just hard when I have time to think.

We've definitely just experienced some people not following through which is really sad. You know that they know it is true, but they just don't have the determination to do what it takes for the truth. Now, I understand it's a lot harder here than it was for me or anything, but it's still frustrating to me. But we know that there are people here that are waiting for us to share the gospel with them that have that willpower and have that courage to go against all odds and do what it takes to live the gospel. We just have to find them.

Dad thanks for your e-mail. Thanks for everything you do for our family. I'm grateful for you and I'm praying for you. Love you.

-Elder Swenson

"Be of Good Comfort"

August 10, 2009

Mirëdita! (I finally found out how to do the “ë” on the keyboard. It’s pretty sweet.)

Yeah I remember that piece of his talk! I’m not gonna lie, I don’t remember much else though, but I think I have a copy of the Liahona in our house so I’ll probably read that. But I remember him talking about that. I haven’t really ever done that. When I pray, I try to give thanks for the majority of the prayer (which can be difficult because I definitely have my hard days) but maybe I should try writing it down. I’ll make that one of my goals for next week!

I haven’t got the package yet. It might be in the mission office though. I don’t get mail as constantly as I did in the MTC. I am pretty far away from the mission home so I usually get mail like once every two weeks, but we’re going in Wednesday I think so hopefully it’s there. =)

So Webelos sounds pretty awesome! Oh my heck I laughed about Wil Neves being the Den Chief. Ha ha don’t tell him that, but I thought it was funny. Okay and what in the heck is an Activity Badge? I’ve never heard of that before. Good luck with those boys! I know they will have fun with you guys.

So I’m kinda limited on time today since we had a district trip and so e-mail got pushed to the last thing, but I learned something really cool this week. Basically. . . .I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been struggling a little with homesickness. Not a ton, but every once in a while there will be a day where I will really just miss home. Yesterday I read in Mosiah 24 ( I think it was 24, but maybe it wasn’t) where the people are captive under King I-forget-his-name (yeah I know I’m a killer scriptorian). They were having a really hard time, but they had faith and prayed to God. And God comforted them. Now, the interesting thing is that God said to them, “Be of good comfort. I will deliver you out of bondage.” And then a couple verses later he says, “On the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.” I thought that was interesting because we don’t really know how much time passed between those two verses. The people in all likelihood were in bondage for a long time. It was probably really hard! In the previous chapter, it reads something like the Lord seeth fit to try his people. To try their faith and their patience. So these people had to suffer. It was essential for them to grow in their faith. But God did hear their prayers and he did answer them. That was very comforting to me. I know it’s going to be hard for a while, but I’ve been praying for help to lose myself in the work and I know that God will help me as long as I do my part.

As far as Flamur goes, this week was kinda weird because we found out that he got engaged last week! Which he did not tell us and he just said he was busy and we ended up not meeting him at all last week which was a little concerning. But then he came to our activity Saturday and had a pretty good time. Then yesterday he didn’t show up at church! So I’m kinda confused right now. He is so good. He is willing to accept everything. I guess he was talking to Elder Bullough and asked, “So we don’t drink alcohol?” and Elder Bullough replied, “No we don’t.” And he was like, “Not even wine?” Elder Bullough, “Not even wine.” And then Flamur said the coolest thing ever: “Okay.” He is so willing to do what we ask him to do, but I’m still kinda concerned about what’s going on with everything else. So I’ll let you know more about that next week.

Anyway, I’ve got to e-mail Lindsey! I’ve only got 9 more minutes. Love you mom!

-Elder Swenson

Hey dad,

I'm glad to hear that Alpine Days still went well without the best band on earth playing. ;) Ha ha that's kinda funny that a bunch of old guys played. But what can you do? And as far as a band goes when I get back, let's hope. But I don't know as of right now. I'll work that out when I get back, but I'm sure I will. That is my favorite thing to do.

Man I wish the cold had set in here ha ha. It is so hot over here. But apparently it gets way cold in the winter too. So I don't know if I should wish that upon myself. But it is getting darker a little bit earlier which makes the nights a little cooler. So after about 7:30 it's really nice outside. Sounds like the fishing has been good this season. Did you go to Porcupine more than Strawberry this year? It seems like you didn't go there much before.

Do the Gappmeyer's have a son named Oliver? If so, then I have actually met him. He probably doesn't remember me though, but we've met. And yeah that's a really good tip. In fact, I told that to Elder Bullough a couple weeks ago when we were doing weekly planning. We had basically just been going up to people and saying, "Hey! We're missionaries and we teach people about Jesus. Wanna hear?" But if that is the only way you go about it, almost nobody will listen. So I said that we should set a goal that every door we knock, we have to find out (1) their name and (2) ask about one other thing like for example if they're doing yardwork, ask them what they're doing or something like that. And then you kind of establish a friendly relationship which opens the door for the gospel. We've been trying, but it's been proving kind of hard. Seeing as I can't speak well at all and he's pretty much been doing it that way for his whole mission, it's difficult. And holy cow I'm way excited for Nate! Is he in the Provo MTC? He'll be great!

Well, I love you dad! Hope you have a good week!

-Elder Swenson

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I had a lot of epiphanies this week.

August 3, 2009

Oh My Dearest Mother,

Ha ha the mission is going great. This week has actually been an extremely. . . .uh I don’t really know what the word for it is, but I had a lot of epiphanies this week. I think my testimony grew this week more than it has in a long time. I LOVE Preach My Gospel. Seriously, if you’ve never studied it before, you should. You will learn so much. And it’s funny because as I was just re-studying the lessons this week, the two things that struck me the most were super short sentences with super simple ideas. There were two things that I’ll share with you. The first was just that because of Christ’s Atonement and his suffering for our pains, he helps us. I always knew that, but for some reason that “sunk deep into my heart” as Enos says. If you think about how much help you receive on a day to day basis, I think you will be amazed at how much he really does help us. I have definitely had more help than I deserve as I’ve been at the MTC and now here. Sometimes it’s hard, but I know that I always have someone that can and will help me at any time.

The second thing was also about the atonement coincidentally. In Preach My Gospel it says that through the power of the Atonement, we can conquer temptation and sin. Now in my head I always knew that we could conquer sin, but the concept of actually conquering temptation was just astounding to me. We can actually overcome temptation. I always thought that we just have to deal with the temptations and choose not to act on them, but this means that slowly as we choose not to act on them, that will just become a part of us and we will just not act on them because that’s part of who we are. I think Elder Packer share’s a really good example of this. At least I think it’s Elder Packer. =) But he says that he always had a hymn in his head that, whenever he faced a temptation, he would replace the impure thoughts with a hymn. One day he was walking down the street and after a while he noticed he was singing the hymn. He thought to himself for a while and remembered that a while back down the street, there was an immodestly dressed young woman that he saw. It had just become part of who he was to not even let those thoughts in. I love that story and I think that is a great idea. But just the concept of conquering temptation was awesome for me is basically the point I was trying to make. =)

Holy cow sorry if that was too long for you! Anyway, yeah Sefer is doing well. . . .I guess. He did quit smoking which was good, but the program has 15 steps that you have to follow. And you have to follow them EXACTLY. The program is designed to clear all the nicotine out of your body in one week so you won’t have the “need” for a cigarette anymore. But in order to do that, you have to follow the program exactly and he followed it. . . .less than exactly. And just simple things like drinking grapefruit juice, he didn’t do. He said he would at our first lesson, but didn’t keep his commitment. So I’m grateful he is done smoking, but I guess I’m just nervous that he’s going to start back up again. Oh well, I should probably have more faith than that, huh?

But guess what?! I’ve got a highlight for you this week. We’re going to baptize Flamur!!! We taught him on Wednesday and committed him to baptism. He is scheduled for the 23rd of August. I’m so excited for that. He definitely has a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. He said he’s “never felt as good as he does when he’s at our church.” I really didn’t even think lessons like that happened. I always just thought people just beefed up their stories ha ha, but this was an INCREDIBLE lesson. He also said that he’s the kind of guy that, when he does something, he does it 100%. He’s studied with other religions, but he feels like this is what he needs to do. I’m so excited for him. Yesterday actually we were walking back home for lunch and his brother stopped us in the road and wanted to talk to us too. It was kinda freaky at first cause he just walked up to us and was like, “Hey! Let’s go back behind all these buildings where nobody can see us and have a drink.” I was kinda weirded out cause I didn’t know if he just wanted to just like take us out cause we were bugging Kamez or something, but we ended up giving him a Book of Mormon with my testimony inside. He’s a really good guy and I’m grateful to Flamur for talking to him about our church.

Well I just realized I haven’t answered like any of your questions ha ha sorry about that, but I’m kinda running low on time! Holy weddings Batman! That’s like our entire ward a year ago. What is with all these people getting married? That’s weird. =) And it sounds like the ward is definitely changing, but change is a good thing, right? I know the Lord puts people in the places they’re supposed to be and that includes callings in the church. They will be able to do what the Lord needs them to do.

And yes. IT. IS. HOT. And humid like no other. Basically anytime I am not in our house, I’m sweating. And even sometimes when we’re in the house. It is so bloody hot it’s not even funny. But it’s starting to get darker at night earlier and so it cools down around 7:30-8ish. So it’s a good way to end a day. Oh yeah my tan is going to be KILLER. . . .on my forearms and my face. Other than that, I’m still pasty. =) And yes the people are definitely that nice. Even if they reject you hardcore, they’re like, “Come inside and have a drink!” So yeah they are very very giving. Some people are so dang funny though. We are teaching this one lady named Xhuma (Juma) who is one of those women that you just don’t mess with, ya know what I’m sayin’? And we went over to her house one day, but there wasn’t another man there so we couldn’t teach her. She kept inviting us to come in and have a drink, but we explained that it’s a rule. She looked at us like we were insane and then she was like, “I AM THE MAN! SIT THE HECK DOWN!” But she was nice and let us leave without beating us up. =) I love the people. They are so funny and so loving.

And yeah I do get well fed. We’ve only eaten at a member’s house once, but my companion can cook really well. So it’s not too bad. But there are some Albanian foods that are SO delicious. I’m gonna learn how to make some of the stuff like fasule or tasqebap and make it for you guys when I get home. I haven’t had anything disgusting yet, but I’m sure that’s coming. Joy.

Anyway, I better go. If I didn’t answer anything, let me know next week ha ha. Tell Nate good luck! I love that kid. And let me know where Cam is going! Ah! It’s killing me!

-Elder Swenson