Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Was Pretty Much the Best

Hey mom!

Yeah Christmas was pretty much the best. I loved it. Ha ha and yeah I was doing fine too until we had to say goodbye! That’s so hard. But it’s good to get back to normal just like you said. It felt really good to just get back to work and try to do something so I didn’t have to think about home. But man that was so fun. But I’m glad you guys had a good Christmas with lots of people! It’s always good to be with others on Christmas. Ha ha I love the pictures of you guys and Bear and all your new stuff. It looks like you had plenty of fun.

Well not much has happened since Friday. =) Danieli came to sacrament meeting again. Hopefully we’re going to meet with him tomorrow or Wednesday before he leaves to Korça for New Year’s. The holidays are murdering missionary work. In our weekly planning this week, we only had one person to plan for because everybody else is gone and we haven’t been able to find anybody else that can meet with us. Most everybody goes home for the holidays and a lot of people are just in Tirana for school or work or something. So this week should be interesting. We’ll see how it goes.

Ha ha funny story. So at the Christmas party, there was this kid there whose name is Hermës and nobody like knew who he was, but he was just acting like a member and he is way awesome and stuff. He came Sunday too and finally one of the other elders was like, “Who are your parents?” trying to like find out who’s kid he was. We found out that he’s not even baptized! He’s not a member! He is just a friend of another boy in the branch. So we sat him down yesterday after church for like 10 minutes and talked about the temple because he wanted to learn about it. So the other elders got set up with some good future lessons in the presence of a member! Ha ha he rocks.

So yeah that’s pretty much all I can think of for this week! Oh, those words. I actually wrote one of those wrong. Its e gëzofsh which means may it make you happy. And “të dua shumë” means I love you a lot! =)

Sorry about the no pictures thing. We kinda did e-mail spontaneously so we didn’t have time to go back to the house to get my stuff. Next week!

I love you, mom!

-Elder Swenson

Monday, December 21, 2009

“The elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts.”

Hello Mom!

Ha ha I love how the first thing you wrote was, “So what is Bible bashing?” That was pretty funny. I can’t believe you’ve never heard of that! Bible bashing is when you just like debate about the scriptures and stuff. Like, “Well this scripture says. . . .” “Oh yeah! Well this scripture says this. . . .” And so on and so forth. So there ya go. That really doesn’t happen a lot in Albania, but it does sometimes. I am a horrible bible basher because I don’t have enough scriptural knowledge to compete, but I guess it’s a good thing not to be a bible basher. Fighting isn’t really what the Lord is going for. Besides, “The elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts.” (Some scripture reference that I can’t remember.) Another interesting thing. Today we went to eat at this place called the Stephens Center. It’s owned by an American I guess and it has something to do with some church organization. Anyway, there’s a bookstore attached onto it and I saw something interesting in there: a pamphlet called “Ç’është Mormonizmi?” (What is Mormonism?) I couldn’t help but read the first page and see some good old false conclusions about us. Oh yeah. Love it.

Okay well, I don’t really know what to write for this week. We seriously were blessed. We taught 11 lessons this week compared to like 6 or whatever last week. We met our “other lessons” goal which was really cool and we found 4 new investigators! Although pretty much all of those have already fallen through, but that’s okay. Really we have one that is really good right now. His name is Danieli. I don’t know if I’ve told you about him before, but he was the one that bore his testimony in fast and testimony meeting two weeks ago. Well this week, he couldn’t come to first hour, but I told him to come for second hour and he came! He participated too which was cool. Tonight we’re actually going to be talking with him and committing him to baptism. I am kinda nervous, but really excited for it. I don’t know if he really knows if it’s true yet, though. But this will let him know that we really want him to pray about it to see if it is the right thing to do. He has read a little and he has prayed, but just not specifically to know about the truth. But I have faith that he will receive an answer to his prayers.

That’s basically all the exciting news I can think of right now! Christmas here is weird. I didn’t want to embrace the Christmas season because it was making me sad that I wasn’t at home (and it still does sometimes) but our branch has been preparing for the Christmas party tomorrow and I realized how much I really love the Christmas season. I’ve started singing Christmas songs to myself in the road and tracting and stuff and now I’m kinda regretting the un-embracing of the Christmas season. It’s a great time of year and we always learn a lot. In church on Sunday, one of the sisters in the branch gave a talk about the birth of Christ. She was so excited to give it, she had a smile on her face the whole time. But the thing that touched me was that it was so simple, but so heartfelt. She just said what she knew and like was so excited about Jesus and I don’t know, it was just really awesome for me. She also had the cutest little boy I have ever seen.

Anyway, I will talk to you on Friday!!! =) Let’s just have fun on the phone okay? No crying!! ;)

Love you, mom!
-Elder Swenson

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Spirit Rocks!

Hey Mom!

I hear it’s been pretty cold/snowy? That’s pretty cool! We don’t have snow here at all. Well there’s some up in the mountains, but like none at all in Tirana. Just freezing cold rain. Mmmmm. . . .my favorite! =)

Okay pictures. Ha ha and that goal went really well. . . . . .for that week. =) Sorry! But we just went on a district trip so I will have some more for you next week! And I had a couple more besides that and I’ll take some more this week.

Elder Jones is from Texas and yes I will be with him until he goes home in January. He’s pretty cool. He is really good at the language which is cool. And he isn’t already home ya know? He’s still gonna be in Albania on his mission for the rest of his time here so that is really helpful. And he has weights so I get to lift in the mornings. =)

As for the area, yeah it’s not too bad. But that’s probably just because I’m not doing too much exploring yet. I’m picking areas and working them until they are done and then moving to another area. So I should learn some more pretty quick here.

Ha ha it’s funny you asked that because we live right next to Kolonat which is the Albanian rip off of McDonalds. But I’ve heard it’s actually really expensive and it’s not like amazing or anything so that is weird. I’ll take a picture of it and you can see how much of a rip off it really is. It’s pretty funny.

The work is going well. We did a lot of finding this week, but I think it’s going to pay off because we have a lot of people that we should be meeting with this week. We even have two lessons planned for tonight! I haven’t gotten two lessons in a day since last Saturday. So kind of a cool experience. It was really simple, but nonetheless, cool. We were tracting in an area I call the “triangle” and for some reason I just remembered that there was a pallat over in another area that we hadn’t finished yet. The thought wasn’t that we should go there, it was just that it wasn’t finished. But that thought just like stuck in my head so after we finished the pallat we were in, I said to Elder Jones, “Hey let’s go finish this other pallat.” We headed over there and sure enough we got in the door at a guy named Kushtrim’s house. We taught a good lesson and got him to say a prayer at the end of it. He didn’t agree to meet with us on a constant basis, but it was a good lesson and I think that I had that thought for a reason. It was just interesting to me how the spirit wasn’t like telling me to do something in this case. He just put a thought there. The spirit rocks.

Alright so byrek is this Albanian food that’s just like really flaky bread stuff with other stuff in the middle. It’s like a turnover except with cheese or spinach or onions and tomatoes inside. They also have some with meat in the middle too. It’s pretty good. It’s not my favorite Albanian thing though. And yeah muhabet basically means small talk, but they use it in other ways too. But most of the time, small talk.

I love you mom! I can’t wait to talk to you!
-Elder Swenson

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Area is Way Confusing

Hey mom!

How are ya? It’s great to hear from you again! I’m excited to talk to you guys in like 2 and a half weeks! Elder Hixson is doing better, but we actually just had an emergency transfer and he had to go to Elbasan so my new companion is Elder Jones. He has a lot of time in the country and is going home in January with the next group. This has been pretty stressful actually because of my lack of knowledge of the branch and the area. Our area is way confusing with lots of little windy roads all over the place and I’m just not quite oriented yet. And I don’t know hardly any of our members. We were actually tracting a couple nights ago and we get to this door and I start talking about how we teach people how they can have more happiness and he’s just like, “Well come in!” It was kinda weird and we were like, “Well can we talk about this book and our message?” He was like, “We’ll find time.” So we go in and sit down and start doing some muhabet (conversation). This whole time, his wife is over making byrek at their table. I asked them what their religious background was and what religion they were with right now and he’s like, “Well she’s with you!” A lot of people here just think we’re catholic or orthodox and so I figured he thought we were one of those two and so I didn’t believe him, but then she was like, “Yeah I’m Sister Sulaj.” She has been a member for 11 years!! I had like never even seen her. She is at church every week and so I kinda felt like an idiot not recognizing one of the freaking members. It was a little bit frustrating. But anyway so you can imagine it’s a little bit frustrating not knowing anything about the area and being a co-senior companion with somebody. Please pray for me. I’ve definitely been feeling pretty humble lately and I know I have to rely on the Lord. I definitely need his help.

Tell Grandpa Gëzuar Ditëlindjen (Happy Birthday) from me! He’s still goin’ strong at 86. That is incredible. I hope he has a great birthday. Ha ha man I love Grandpa. And that’s great to hear that Grandma is doing so well. Ha ha when you told me that she showed you she can walk without a cane, it reminded me of President Hinckley. =) But I’m glad she’s following the rules a little better than he did. ;) It sounds like you guys are helping them out a ton and I’m sure they really appreciate that.

Well mom, thanks for the e-mail. I love you lots! I hope you have a great week. Don’t get too stressed out!

-Elder Swenson