Monday, November 30, 2009

The work. . . .is hard.

Hey Mom!

Our thanksgiving was pretty good. We all went to the mission home for thanksgiving where we had turkey and stuffing and all that good stuff. The dessert was supplied by the missionaries and there was a TON of it. It was good. =) So I definitely ate quite a bit for thanksgiving don’t worry. Yours sounded fun. The train looked way good! I’m jealous I wasn’t able to help. Ha ha that’s hilarious that there was another dog in our house. I can’t even imagine that and what Bear would do. That’s funny. I’m glad you had a bunch of people over too. I think that’s awesome. It sounds like a party that I missed out on!

And no I don’t think I was better with the language than I thought. I’m pretty sure I sucked. =) But it’s getting better. I can understand now and I can definitely communicate, but it’s still hard and I still make lots of mistakes. I have definitely seen that the language is going to be something that will keep improving my ENTIRE mission. There’s not going to be a point when I’m like, “Yeah I can speak Albanian.” There’s just way too much to learn. But it’s an awesome language and I’m excited that I will be able to speak decently after the mish. It’s a good thing that Albanian is used so much in the world. ;)

The work. . . .is hard. We as of right now have no progressing investigators. It didn’t help that my companion has been sick for the last 3 days, but hopefully we’ll get things back up to par quickly. We do mostly finding. It is really difficult because like one out of 5 doors actually answer and then divide those by like a million and that’s how many people let us in. So it’s really frustrating, but I’m trying to keep my head up. It’s funny because at district meeting this week, we were each assigned to give a 5 minute doctrinal lesson on whatever we wanted. It turned out that everybody else had chosen something that had to do with patience. . . .except for me. Ha ha I chose to talk about goals and setting good goals. But I figured that everybody else chose something about patience because I needed to hear that super bad. Ha ha I’ve been getting frustrated a lot lately because it feels like absolutely nothing is moving forward. But I have to take a step back and realize that it’s not really out of any fault of ours. We have been working hard and doing what we’re supposed to be doing, but people keep not showing up for meetings (like ridiculous amounts of people), and nobody’s answering their doors. So I’ve had to learn a lot of patience with myself and with the Albanians. Ha ha we’ve had some pretty annoying conversations at people’s doors this week, but that’s okay. Now that being said, I still am having a great time and trying my best and learning. One of the things that I have enjoyed most is spending most of my personal study time reading the Book of Mormon. These last couple days have been A.W.E.S.O.M.E. I just read like 2 Nephi 28 – 32 and oh my gosh those are awesome chapters. Some of my favorite by far in the Book of Mormon. Nephi just goes on this crazy prophesying rage and it is sweet. Love it.

So I did get some pictures off to you this week! Yay!! I actually set a new goal for myself to take a picture everyday so we’ll see how that goes. And I took a picture with the tie for Tim’s birthday with our English class, but you can’t really see the tie so I had to take a lame one of my doing some Bible bashing. . .with the Book of Mormon. But yeah sorry those took so long to send. I had some troubles the last couple of weeks and I could not send them, but it should be good from here on out.

Oh! Before I go, tell the Brigg’s a HUGE thank you! They sent me a Christmas package which was way too much for them to do. Tell them that I am super grateful to them. That made my day. And I’m eagerly awaiting yours. =) And don’t worry about the forgotten stuff, it’s all good! I will try to get your package sent next week. I finally finished getting the stuff today.

Well I love you mom! You have an awesome week! We’ll talk soon!


-Elder Swenson

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tirana is pretty cool.

Hey Mom!

That is dang awesome that RSL won the MLS championship! That is ridiculous! I did not think that that would ever happen in a million years. It's good to hear that Grandma is doing well. I will keep both Grandma and Grandpa in my prayers.

Mërzit - upset. It also means bored as well which is kinda weird, but whatever.
Shokë ngusht - It literally means "tight friends". And so I think you can guess what it is.

Tirana is pretty cool. It's definitely a lot different. We have been mostly finding while I've been here. Saturday we had an AWESOME day planned out. We had six lessons that we were going to teach which is just ridiculous. I was so pumped. And then we had FOUR out of the six prish on us! So we ended up street contacting for like hours and hours that day because we always were ready for our next appointment and so we thought we didn't have any time to tract, but then they'd prish too and ugh it was just pretty rough. So that was a little upsetting. But I have faith and I really want to baptize somebody this transfer which means in the next couple of weeks we are going to find someone who is ready. I know that he's out there. We just have to go and find him. =)

I love you mom. Thanks for your e-mail! Have a good week and be safe!!

-Elder Swenson

Monday, November 16, 2009

God Blesses Us in Tons of Different Ways

Hey Mom!

How’s it going? So I’ll actually try to write you a decently sized e-mail this week, okay? Cool. First I will answer your questions/comments. That is awesome that Mitch is learning a language. And that way, him, Ryan, and Kevin can all talk Spanish together, right? I think Ryan spoke Spanish in Texas? Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know. Anyway, that’s awesome.

It sounds like your lunch was super fun! I hope all their families are doing well. I believe that families are blessed when they sacrifice their sons for two years, though. I guess I don’t know for sure cause I’ve never been in one, but I’m on the missionary side and I know I have been blessed so I don’t know how you guys wouldn’t receive the same blessings I am right now.

I really hope Grandma’s surgery goes well. I will definitely keep her in my prayers. She always writes me letters and stuff and has always been so supportive. Tell her thank you and I love her.

Okay and I don’t know if pouch or regular mail gets here faster. But regular mail does get here like 100% of the time and there have actually been some horror stories about pouch mail. None of which have happened to me, so I don’t know how often it happens or anything. So yeah there’s my knowledge on that subject.

Dictionary time:
Mirë – Good
Rrofsh – Thank you (. . . .kind of. In Albanian they have a wishing tense and this actually means “may you live.)
Të gëzofsh – Another wishing tense. It means “may it make you happy.” You would say it like after you gave a gift or something. Like, I just bought a tie and after you buy it they say, “T ë gëzofsh!” Speaking of which, thanks for that tie! And at the same time don’t send me ties! I can get super cool ties here for $8. Yeah. It rocks. But thank you. =) I think I actually have a couple pictures with that one.
Qërrasje – Treat
Pallat – It actually means “palace,” but that’s the word they use for an apartment building.

Okay so missionary work. Well I am actually writing you from Tirana today. We just did transfers and I am now in Tirana 3rd branch. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty mërzit with that. I never thought that I would be unhappy with a transfer, but ha ha I was. I had a freaking ball last transfer. I think the highlight of last transfer was working with our two xhaxhis. Theodhuraq and Fejim are two of the most awesome men ever. This last week we had to talk to Theodhuraq about church and that, because of his new job, he couldn’t get baptized yet. We told him that church was an essential part of baptism and that he needed to be able to come to church in order to get baptized. When we told him that, he was pretty upset which I was actually happy about because we definitely saw that it meant something to him. So we told him that we would work something out and that we would pray and he should pray too. And he did. And we did. God blesses us in tons of different ways. His new job was in Fier (about half an hour away from Vlorë), and it was basically just Saturdays and Sundays. So we were at a branch correlation meeting and we mentioned that to the other missionaries and they were just like, “Well, can’t he go to church in Fier?” We were like, “Oh my heck! That’s a freaking awesome idea!” We hadn’t ever thought about that and that was a great solution that we could tell him. So we went back on Saturday to tell him that we might have an answer and he had thought about it as well. We told him our solution, but then he brought up another solution. He decided he could ask his boss if he would let him start work after church and end up getting home at two or three in the morning. We said that both of those would work and he said he’d talk to his boss. So yesterday, he showed up at church and said, “I talked to my boss and he says it’s okay!” Oh man, I was so happy. He is so ready. Willing to sacrifice like that, he understand everything so well, he’s already on like page 150 or something in the Book of Mormon and he just loves it. And he loves to help out Fejim, who is a little bit slower (but just as awesome!). So basically, Theodhuraq and Fejim are going to get baptized!! Of course right when I leave, but that’s okay. Elder Garn is supposed to call me when they’re getting baptized so I will let you know.

Basically, I just can’t believe how fast this last transfer went by. It seriously felt like it was just a week. My companion, Elder Garn, was awesome as well. By the end, we were pretty much shokë të ngusht. So he’ll finish his mission out strong down there. I’m super jealous. But I know that I’m supposed to be here for a reason and so I will try to look forward to this transfer as well. My new companion is Elder Hixson from Tennessee. He is in the group that came to the country right before me so he has 3 more months than me. I think it should be a really good transfer actually, I’ll just have to get going right from the start and get used to it. He said he was pretty upset when he got the call to go to 3rd branch as well, but in his last president interview, he asked the president if he could stay so apparently 3rd branch grows on you ha ha.

Holy cow, this is a dang long e-mail. Thanks so much mom! I love you!

-Elder Swenson

Monday, November 9, 2009

I am so grateful that God leads his work and I can be a part of it.

Hey Mom!

So we had a really good story this week. It was actually last night. Saturday night was. . . .let’s just say it was a long night. Then Sunday came and it was pretty much just a normal Sunday. Nothing really special or nothing super annoying happened, until the night. We went and taught Samanta and Geri at 6:00 and then after that we had planned on going to a neighborhood called Çole and tracting. But it had started to rain and so we were debating if we should go get our umbrellas or not. Eventually we came to the decision to run by the house, grab our umbrellas, and go to a different neighborhood right by our house. Earlier in the day, we had discovered that we had mysteriously skipped some pallats in that neighborhood Saturday night. So we decided to go tract those. We got to the pallats and began with a prayer. Everything was going as normal. People were giving us lame excuses about random stuff that wasn’t really relevant to anything. We got to one door, knocked, and heard a woman come look out the peep hole. We heard her say, “Oh, it’s some of those JW’s.” So that wasn’t a really good first impression, but she answered the door. I started out by smiling and saying, “How are you? We’re from the Church of Jesus Christ and we have a special message about. . . .” She then said that she was Muslim and just believes in God and nothing else. We talked to her for a few minutes and we both testified about things that we knew in our hearts. They let us in. We found that there were four people in the house, a husband, wife, daughter, and soon to be daughter-in-law. We asked them a little bit about themselves and found out that the daughter (Bruna) really wants to be baptized even though her parents are Muslim. Not necessarily in our church, but just generally to be baptized. Me and Elder Garn both thought to ourselves, “Well we can definitely do that!” We started to share our message and they listened. They like really listened. It was so cool to explain about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and then testify about it. They must have really been listening to the spirit because they accepted to meet us often so we could teach them and we’re going to be going back tomorrow to give them a Book of Mormon.

Now that’s just kinda like a good lesson, right? Well think about it for a second and see how unbelievably miraculous it was. We had “just randomly” not even seen that pallat Saturday night when we were both pretty upset and not in any state to testify powerfully of the principles of the Gospel. We had planned on tracting in Çole, but it started to rain and so we had to change our plans, and then at the door their hearts were open to the spirit as he spoke through our simple testimonies of truth. It was just so cool to see how God really does put you in the right place at the right time if you are willing to work. My testimony definitely grew as we were thinking about all the things that had to happen in order for us to meet that family when we did. I am so grateful that God leads his work and I can be a part of it.

Alright, well I should probably get going and write Dad and Lindsey, but before I go tell Mitch that I am WAY excited for him. That is such an awesome mission call! I know this is a stupid question, but what language do they speak there? I am so pumped for him. Tell him I will pray for him as he prepares and leaves. That will come sooner than he thinks. ;)

I love you mom. Thank you for your e-mail.

-Elder Swenson

Monday, November 2, 2009

Elder Garn says, “Rrofsh!”

Hey Mom!

Well it looks like you guys had a blast on Halloween! Ha ha Dad really does make an awesome Indiana Jones, huh? On the other hand, Preston Stewart does NOT make a great cheerleader. Ha ha ha oh man those were some good pictures. Thanks for sending them to me. It is so weird to think that Halloween came and went and I did like nothing. I remember last year Halloween was like the whole month for me. And here it was just a day. But I did go door to door still! And I even got a treat! =) But I was fasting so I didn’t get to eat it. Some Albanians will just not let you leave their doorstep without giving you a qërrasje, even if they don’t let you in. So there you go! I went trick or treating in Albania. And to answer your question, no they don’t really celebrate it here, but we did see one group of kids dressed up. But that was about it.

As for the packages, it’s the same address. Everything just goes to the mission home and then gets delivered to us. And by the way, thank you so much for that package! Ha ha it was funny because I was just telling Elder Garn a couple days ago about how my mom uses the best spice in the world called “Bam!” when she cooks fish. And that talk seems pretty cool. I started reading it, but I haven’t finished yet (I got it yesterday).

Elder Garn says, “Rrofsh!” He has been here for a year and 7 months now so he will be leaving in January. He’s awesome.

Sorry about the super short letter today! I’ll tell you all about the work next week, okay? Cool. ;)

I love you, Mom!!
-Elder Swenson

A Message to Elder Swenson’s missionary friends:

Hey Guys!

How is everything going on your sides of the world? So basically I had a goal to write all of you by the end of this transfer and the only thing I did was reply (finally) to one of Braden’s letters and then I wrote Tim once. Okay so I have a more realistic goal this time: I am going to get at least a super short letter out to all of you by the end of the year. =) Mirë? Mirë.

So this week I was thinking to myself a lot. I was thinking about how hard I thought my mission was going to be before I left and how much I thought I was going to be sad and just want to go home. I was thinking about it this week and I came to a conclusion. I love being here. This is such an amazing opportunity we all have to work with all our heart, might, mind, and strength for the Lord. I love getting up each morning and studying the scriptures. I have just barely started the Book of Mormon and I am so excited. I love that book. I love the opportunity I have to grow this much in knowledge, in spirit, in Christlike attributes, and, of course, in stature. You should see my muscles right now. I really never thought I was going to get weaker ha ha. But oh well, because I’m having an awesome time. I want you all to know that I have a testimony of the Gospel. I know that it brings happiness like nothing else can. I have definitely come to appreciate even more the doctrines in the lessons that I teach, especially the Restoration. How freaking cool is that? We have a prophet on earth that receives revelation from God and directs us in truth and light. I know that if we listen to him we will be happy. It’s all about happiness, man and this gospel is what brings it.

I love you guys! I can’t wait to hear all your stories and successes from your missions. You seriously have been an awesome example in my life and I am so grateful I was blessed to be in such a good circle of friends. I can’t say it enough. Keep it up! “Onward, ever onward as we glory in His name!”

Well I better go, just one closing thought. I’m still going to dominate you all in our super ping-pong tourney in 2011.

-Elder Swenson