Monday, September 28, 2009

Prophets are Definitely Important


“C’a ke bërë” literally means “what have you done?” but they basically just use it like “how’s it going” or “how have you been?” Ha ha yeah the pictures were pretty sweet I thought! =) Besmir and his bros are seriously some of my favorite people on this planet. They are such good kids. No their parents are not members, but Besmir is hopeful for them. He says, “One day my dad will get baptized.” He doesn’t know if it will be while he’s on this earth or not, but he has confidence that eventually he will accept the gospel. The other two members are Alketa and Alma. They’re around the same age, both girls, and both awesome. We’ve been struggling a lot with Alma lately. She hasn’t come to church in almost three months now and we don’t know what to do. We’re trying to do everything we can for her, but nothing seems to work. Alketa is way awesome too. She wants to serve a mission so bad. She has come to a couple teaching appointments with us and has been so good. We are going to visit her with the Sisters tonight so I’ll get a picture of at least her and I’ll try to get one with her whole family too since this is probably my last week in Kamëz. =( This next transfer is going to be pretty intense. There are 14 new missionaries coming in which is HUGE for Albania. Almost every single missionary is either going to be training or in leadership. And when I say almost, I mean like maybe one or two won’t. It’s going to be awesome though.

Thank you SOOOO much for the packages! But holy cow you need to stop sending me those!!!! They are so freaking expensive it’s ridiculous! But thanks for the stuff! I think the thing that I absolutely loved the most was the pens ha ha. I had just run out of black pens and I bought a couple that weren’t like the expensive kind and they were just horrible. They were seriously irking me so bad and then I opened that package and saw like a thousand black pens and I was in heaven. So thanks. =) And stop sending me packages!

Thanks in advance for that workout. You could have just e-mailed it to me though. Sorry I probably should have mentioned that. I basically just need it so I don’t have to go outside to run during the winter. Brrr! I am not excited for the cold ha ha. But don’t worry, I’m sure I won’t get too skinny. I think I’m kinda at that point where it just stays where it’s at ya know? But I’m trying to be healthy and eat right. Mmmmm they have some of the best fruit here ever. So you know how I always made fun of you for eating your apple pie with cheese? One of my favorite snacks now is a Boston (kind of like a honeydew, but a thousand times better) with some good old feta cheese. Oh my heck it’s so good. So I guess I can’t make fun of you anymore, huh? Right now the persimmons are just getting in to season. I had never tried one until last night, but they are pretty good! That’s what I ate for breakfast this morning. =)

I’m glad that your BofM class is awesome! Prophets are definitely important. That really is our message to the world. We have a man with the power of God that speaks with him and directs us and helps us in our lives. They have the eternal perspective that we don’t. We had a devotional at the MTC where they showed a picture of this guy on a canoe just flowing down this river and there were beautiful trees all along side the river and it was just a gorgeous picture. They asked us, “This looks good, doesn’t it?” We all obviously agreed, but then they un-cropped the picture. The man was rowing straight for a gigantic waterfall where he would obviously plunge to his death. After they had shown us that, they asked, “Is that still lookin’ good to you?” And that is kind of how the prophets see things. They have that insight that only they can receive from God. Things that we might not think are dangerous or that look really good right now can lead to dangerous things ahead. The prophets can warn us of danger and keep us on the path that will make us happy. I have really come to appreciate that doctrine as I’ve been out here preaching it every day. So we better all listen to General Conference, huh?! Yes I will be able to see some of it. We go to the mission home and watch it at like 6:00 at night. It should be cool. I’m not gonna lie though, I’ll miss watching it with you guys. But it will still be great!

Holy cow I’ve been kind of a lafazan today! Sorry about that! I better go e-mail Lindsey and dad now. They can give you anything I didn’t say here that I told them ha ha. I love you mom. You are setting a great example for me even all the way across the world.

Thanks for everything!
-Elder Swenson

Monday, September 21, 2009

We finally met our goal!

C’a ke bërë?

Alright so I finally got some pictures with some members. The picture of us all together is at the Kamëz branch building.

We have church in the first floor of a house. The oldest brother is Besmir and his two younger brothers are Ardit and Janus. Janus is the youngest and Ardit is in the middle.

Besmir with Elder Bullough

Ardit Janus We went over to their house yesterday for Bajrami which is a Muslim holiday. Ha ha it’s funny because this whole last month has been Ramazan which is where they are supposed to fast during the day and only eat at night and at the end of Ramazan, you have Bajrami which is where you basically just eat as much as you can all the time. =) Not many Albanians really truly keep Ramazan (although they use that as an excuse for why they can’t listen to us), but I’m pretty sure every single Albanian has no problem keeping Bajrami. Ha ha yeah so we went over there for lunch yesterday. It was way fun. I wish you guys could meet these members. They seriously are soooo good. No matter what, Besmir and his brothers are at church every single week. It’s gonna be kinda sad when I leave Kamëz.

And then there’s one picture of me and a chubby kid named Romeo. He is our pronari’s (landlord’s) son. Looks like me when I was about that age, huh? =)

Well I’m glad to hear that Bear is doing better. I was sad for him. Ha ha I miss him too! I can’t pet any of the dogs here and it’s weird! So the Webelos are doing good then? Oh man knots are the best. Ha ha there’s always that one who just can’t get it though which is always funny. =) So good luck with that! That’s so cool that you’re taking a Book of Mormon class! Is it like just a ward thing or is it like Institute or something? Where is it held? I’ll tell you what, I went to Institute one time with Kiersten and it was probably one of the coolest lessons I’ve ever been taught. So I’m betting that you are going to have a great time at that class. Do you get graded and everything? Ha ha that will be funny when you’re doing homework with Lindsey. That’s sweet, mom.

Holy cow I miss those family dinners. Ha ha where did you play croquet? On the hill? Me and Tim actually played on the hill once I think. It was interesting. How is Shawn doing? I’ll have to write him soon. I am a horrible writer, but we’ve had some extra time these past couple of P-days cause we haven’t had to go into Tirana so hopefully soon I can get a letter off to him. What’s his address? And yes I had Marisa in my class. Ha ha she is the funniest little girl ever. Tell her I said hi! And I had one of the Ross boys in my class and I want to say it was Dallin, but maybe it wasn’t. . . .I don’t know. But he was way awesome too. We had an awesome primary class for like the 4 weeks that I was there.

Well the mission’s going well. This week was really good. We finally met our goal for new investigators! We got 4 this week! It took us all the way till yesterday to do it, but by golly we did it! We are really excited for this one family that we found. Qemal is the dad’s name. His wife is Merita and their daughter is Sara. Sara was in a really bad makinë (car) accident when she was little and is handicapped now. We found out that she really liked music and so we said the next time, we’d sing a song for her and she got so excited. But this family has definitely been prepared. Or at least Merita has. We were talking about what usually happens when we meet with people and we had said that as we meet with her, we will talk about baptism because that is how we show our Heavenly Father that we are willing to keep his commandments for the rest of our lives and she can choose to be baptized or not. She is orthodox right now and has already been baptized so she asked me why she would need to be baptized again. And let’s just say that I murdered the answer, but she was very humble and she understood what I was trying to say. And she agreed to meet with us 2 or 3 times a week! We are really excited to see this family progress together.

Well I better go write Dad and Lindsey now. Mom, I love you! Thanks for your e-mails every week and all your support! You are always in my prayers.

-Elder Swenson

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pictures-Albania August 2009

An old amphitheater in Durrës, the second largest city of Albania located on the central coast about 21 miles west of Tirana.
Elder Bullough
A xhami (mosque) in Durrës
On a beach in Durrës

Pictures-Albania July 2009

Skanderbeg Monument - Skanderbeg is a prominent historical figure in the history of Albania and of the Albanian people. Known as the Dragon of Albania, he is the national hero of the Albanians.
An art museum in the Qender (Center) of Tirana
Qender of Tirana

Mother Albanian Monument

View from the Mission Home in Tirana

Road to the Kamez house.

July 6th Pictures

Me, Sister Bentley and Vellai (Brother) Tamanaha - One of my awesome MTC teachers
Vellai (Brother) Krumweide - The other one of my awesome MTC teachers
Me and Sister Bentley the day before leaving the MTC

July 4th Pictures at the MTC

These are Pictures from July, but wanted to share them with you.

Kubricky Elder with me and Heintze Elder in the background. Both going to Hungary.

Sister Bentley

Hintze Elder, my Hungarian companion in the MTC for about 5 days

Sept 14, 2009 One thing I do miss is the prelude music.


Yeah it was close ha ha. It’s “C’farë thotë puna?” And actually it should be a “c” with a little tail thingy, but I haven’t figured out how to make that one yet. But it was a good try! =)

Ha ha your Webelos group sounds sweet! I remember Webelos with Brother Weiler. Oh man those were the days. Tell Nick and Sam I said hi! (I taught them piano). Sounds like it should be an intense activity this week, huh? Nothin’ like some good ol’ hot dogs and s’mores. Mmmmmm. . . .

Ha ha ha oh my heck I laughed about the temple thing. I didn’t know they had Spanish sessions either! That’s pretty cool though! It’s awesome to think that there are more members outside of the U.S. than there are in the U.S. right now. Tons of different languages and cultures all united in one faith and one cause. It really is amazing to think about that. But I’m glad you still went even though it wasn’t even your language! Way to go mom! =) Keep it up and you will be so blessed.

Pictures of Bear. . . .basically the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Ha ha ha ha I freaking loved them.

Did you teach the Primary class that I taught?! Or was that the year above? Good for you for being the one to step up and help. I’m sure Stephanie really appreciated that. And oh my heck I’m sure your class went fine. You are way good with kids.

Yeah Lindsey told me about you working on the dress and I’m sure it turned out great. I think that was a great thing to pray for. I think the Lord is definitely willing to help a mother trying to help her daughter keep the standards in For the Strength of Youth. Sometimes, the smallest things are the ones we need the most help with. I haven’t read Lindsey’s e-mail yet so I’m excited to see the picture!

No our branch does not have all those other meetings. We just do sacrament meeting and then after we usually either teach one of our members or teach an investigator (if we have any in church) with a member. I still love going to church though. One thing I do miss is the prelude music. I loved getting there early and listening to the organ and we don’t have an organ here ha ha. But I set the keyboard we have to an organ setting. =) And Flori. . . . .dropped us. Sigh. His dad said he doesn’t want him doing anything but school during the school year. We’re going to try and keep contact with him so we can come back as soon as the beginning of the year tests are done, but we’ll see. We also lost another investigator named Silvana. Missionaries have been meeting her for a while and all of a sudden out of the blue her dad says she can’t go to church anymore. But she thinks she can talk him out of it, he just needs to cool down first ha ha. But hopefully that goes well. We almost found no new investigators this week. I say almost because Monday through Saturday we found zero. Yesterday we finally found a couple that was willing to listen though which was good. So it was kinda a depressing week ha ha. But not really, just number wise! We had an investigator in church which was awesome! His name is Stak Kola and we’ve been teaching him and his family for a couple of weeks now. They’re way nice and they have the funniest little girl named Diana.

Thank you in advance for the package. =) I might get it before my year mark. About the homesickness thing, it’s alright. I just try to work hard when we’re out there. Every once in a while it’s hard, but I want to be here and I want to work hard while I’m here so that’s what I’m going to do.

I love you mom! Thanks for your support and love! Have a great week!

Të dua!
-Elder Swenson

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sept 7, 2009 Yeah Sometimes Church is Pretty Interesting

Si keni qënë?! (How you been?!)

Ha ha don’t worry about the newsletter picture. It actually was pretty cool, I really liked it. I just thought it was funny. =) And about the website that Kiersten found. Ha ha I think he said those things because he is one of those people that focuses on the positives instead of the negatives. There’s a lot of things that I need to work on that he is way good at. He is way awesome. I don’t remember how much I’ve said about him, but regardless of us being completely different, we are having a really good time here in Kamëz. The work is hard and we’re not having a lot of success right now, but it’s a good experience and we definitely are very appreciative of the people that do listen to us. Actually right now we have a 3rd companion. His name is Elder Dushnica. He’s from Albania and he’s actually serving a mission in Russia, but every once in a while he has to come back to get his visa renewed or whatever and we got him from yesterday until Wednesday! He’s really cool and it is way awesome to go tracting and to hear a legit Shqiptar teach. I tried to pick up some things from him. =)

I’m glad to hear about the Webelos experience. Who all is in Webelos anyway? I guess I’m not that familiar with that age group. But yeah it seems like if you try and do your best and you can even just make like one person smile or feel good about themselves or have a good time, it makes it all worth it. And just like I was called to Albania for a reason, you are in the Webelos for a reason. I know that you are going to be able to do what the Lord needs you to do. I think you’re the perfect person for the job and those boys are gonna love you soon enough!

Yeah the language isn’t what’s really the hard part of the mission for me. At least not right now. Oh, but don’t get me wrong, I’m not good at it ha ha, it’s just not the biggest trial for me right now. For me, it’s more of when I get frustrated or homesick that’s the bigger problem. Some people here are just so. . . . .frustrating ha ha. But they are good people and I consider myself lucky to be here serving them. But hopefully I will be able to actually speak their language soon and serve them even better! =)

With regards to food, yeah I think we can pretty much get everything except there are a few things that basically just don’t exist in Albania like brown sugar. There are a couple others, but I can’t really remember them right now. Our refrigerator isn’t huge, but it’s not that small. And yes, this week I learned how to cook fried rice. I know, pretty difficult, huh? But it tastes good. Elder Bullough rocks the kitchen. In fact, he just made a huge pumpkin pie for his birthday (which is today by the way).

Flori is doing. . . .well? Actually I don’t really know since he left this week to his uncles so we haven’t seen him at all. But we’re supposed to meet with him tomorrow. So we might have to push his date back a little bit cause he still hasn’t been to church at all, but he’s a really good kid and I have faith that if he does come, he will feel the spirit and he will do what he needs to. Elder Bullough was talking with him on the way to an activity we had and Flori said that he “hates alcohol and smoking” which is awesome. The Word of Wisdom is a huge problem here and so I think he’s definitely been prepared.

Yeah sometimes church is pretty interesting ha ha. Like for instance yesterday was Fast Sunday and we had 3 members and 3 missionaries in attendance. So church was 1/2 an hour long. =) 6 people bearing their testimonies doesn’t take too long. But our branch is awesome and I love going to church. We have the best members in the world!

I love ya, mom! Have fun with your new calling and just keep being exciting! ;) I really appreciate your e-mails and all your support. It means a lot to me even though I can’t really convey that really well sometimes. I hope you have a great week and I will do the same!

-Elder Swenson

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Aug 31, 2009 The Spirit Brings to Mind Things that You Really Do Know.

My Dearest Mother,

Thanks for telling me about Cameron’s call! That is so cool! And you know there is something awesome about being able to share the gospel in your native language among your own people. He’s going to be awesome. Tell him I said that he’s gonna tear it up!

Grandpa’s head sounds. . . . .nice. =) I’m glad he only had to have one slice. And that is weird that Grandma would be nice to him. ;) I got a letter from them on Friday when I got all my mail so tell them that I really really appreciated it. I am horrible at writing back, but I’m going to try. We don’t have a lot of time on P-days still since we’re out in the boonies and we have to go in to Tirana every week. But I will try to make time to write them back next week.

So you guys had Stake Conference and we had Mission Conference. That’s cool. I love that quote by Elder Packer. I had never heard that before. I had heard the principle and I think it is absolutely true. There are some things that you really don’t know you know until you just say what you believe without thinking. The spirit brings to mind things that you really do know that you didn’t know you knew. A ke para sysh? There’s your Albanian phrase for the week. It means like “do you understand?” And not like language wise, but like concept wise. It literally means “do you have it before your eyes?” But that would have been cool to see Cameron testify at Stake Conference. He has a powerful testimony and it’s going to be apparent to the people of Indianapolis.

The field is alright. I’m such a freakin’ baby. I’ve been missing home a lot and it’s been really hard this last week. I swear that no other missionary takes like 4 months to get over this, but I’ve always been a baby, right? =) Actually at Mission Conference Elder Causse of the Seventy came and spoke to us and while he was speaking, I remembered something from my early childhood and I saw a powerful connection to the Atonement that I hadn’t realized before. I would tell you the story, but I was almost bawling in Mission Conference and if I started to tell you, I’d bawl right here in this internet locale and I don’t really want to do that. So you’ll just have to wait until my homecoming or something.

The language is still pretty hard. I can understand a lot better, but to speak is a lot harder than to listen for me so I’ve got to just get out there and speak. I’m trying, but sometimes I just get frustrated and it’s hard to keep trying. But I’m doing it. We actually have a new baptismal date named Flori. He is a 14 year old boy and he is awesome. He hasn’t come to church yet though because his dad is only at home on Sundays and so that’s when they go spend time with him, but he said he would come this next Sunday. He always reads what we ask him to read and he even summarizes the chapters in the back of the Book of Mormon. And he looks up words that are weird or that he doesn’t know in the index which is really cool. I’ve never heard of anybody doing that before. I think he will be a good addition to the branch. Our branch members are all pretty young so he would have friends there too which would be cool. I forgot my camera yesterday cause I was gonna take a picture with all the members, but I’ve written it down in my planner for next week so I won’t forget! And I also forgot to get a jump drive for that Picasa thing so Elder Bullough can give me the software, but I have also written that down so I will have that next week and I will send you all my pictures. I know you probably want to kill me right now with the picture thing. Sorry!

Okay so things for the package if you can find them: Some simple cooking ideas would be great so I can have ideas for what to learn to cook. I still make a dang good omelette. ;) And now I can make crepes ha ha so basically I’m professional. But this is the week that my goal starts so it should be good. Okay and also as part of the music, if you could find some Michael Dowdle music that would be awesome. He’s a guitarist and he does beautiful hymns. Also those inside the shaver things. Dad knows what I’m talking about. I have the Remington MS2 250. If somebody could right down the Plyo X workout from the P90X things that would be cool since that would be a really good cardiovascular workout for the mornings. Other than that I think that’s it! And I was thinking about it and you really don’t have to send me the Children’s Hymnbook. That’s going to add a lot of weight and it would be really expensive so don’t worry about that one. Thank you so much!

I love you mom! I’ve got to go write Linds and Dad now! Talk to you next week!

-Elder Swenson