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

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