Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Pics from December

Motra (Sister) Bentley's comp, Motra Neil (Mission President's wife) and Motra Bentley

Elders in my district. Elder Jones, on the left, was my comp.

The Relief Society decorating for Christmas

Me and Danieli, former investigator

The Primary getting ready to do the nativity. Oh my gost, best thing ever!

Sidrit, the Branch President's son. He's crazy, but hilarious at the same time.

Probably the funniest picture ever. Every single person looks like they want to kill someone and they are singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

Monday, February 22, 2010

Breaking news! I’m leaving 3rd Branch

Hey Mom!

Alrighty, well breaking news! I’m leaving 3rd Branch. Transfer calls were last night and I’m going to 4th Branch with Elder Hagen to be a Zone Leader. President said he’s kind of changing the way he does Zone Leaders though. In the past it has been a six month assignment, but he’s moving away from that so it might not be six months for me. It should be interesting. I don’t feel ready for an assignment like that at all, but I’m willing to try and I know the Lord will help. So pray for me, please!

Our investigators are doing really well. We brought Ylli (our old guy investigator) to a baptism on Saturday and he really liked it. He’s a really cool guy. I know this is a super missionary comparison, but he’s exactly like Joseph Smith’s dad on the Restoration film. Well at least he acts like him.

We finished teaching Nelson the Plan of Salvation this week and we also taught him the Word of Wisdom. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but he is going to start the Church’s Stop Smoking Program this week. I really see a lot of potential in Nelson just because he’s so humble and he realizes that all that stuff is hurting him. He was telling us how he always has headaches and stuff after he drinks coffee and he doesn’t feel good when he smokes and so he wants to feel stronger and healthier. We obviously promised him that he would feel a lot better if he lived according to the Word of Wisdom. I’m sad I’m going to be leaving and not be able to see his progress.

Also we’ve still been meeting with Adrian this week and brought him to church yesterday. He is very hard to teach, but I’m sure there has to be some way that the Gospel can come into his life. If he can get over his little obstacles and mindsets than I’m sure he will be in a state where the spirit can teach him gospel truths.

We also met two new people this week, Pjetri and Margarit. Margarit is a college student and we haven’t met him since Thursday, but we’re meeting with him tomorrow. He seems to be really cool. It seems like he actually learns from us and doesn’t just come to hear us talk which is refreshing.

Pjetri is an interesting guy. He’s a big-time reader. He reads EVERYTHING. So he has a lot of weird ideas and superstitions. I’ll give you an example. We met him yesterday and he had read a little bit of Joseph Smith’s testimony. There’s a part where it talks about him going to a mount of considerable height and moving the stone that was covering the plates. He read that to us and kinda paused as if to ask, “Can you not see what this is?!” He then said, “Elders, we’re dealing with a code!” Apparently there’s a legend of something that sounds just like Joseph Smith’s description and he thought maybe the Book of Mormon could help him find it. That was pretty entertaining. I actually really like this guy. He has a lot of really cool stories from when he was a pilot and I can actually listen to him and it doesn’t bore me super bad. But anyway, he’s not quite ready to accept this yet. He says he will go discuss it with these priests up in Shkodër and then, if they say that he should ask God, he’ll get back to us. So I’m not really counting on seeing him for a while, but maybe we helped him a little bit and sometime in the future he’ll really be searching for the truth. Ha ha he brought me a birthday cake and made me and Elder Anderson eat the entire thing before we could start the lesson. It was a good cake, but man!

Anyway, wow I’ve really just been rambling a lot. Holy cow.

Your Stake Conference sounded really cool. The story about that semi-active guy made me laugh. I bet that was a refreshing talk. It’s interesting to note that even the people that have fallen away or just don’t really come anymore still know that those things are true.

Yeah you definitely need to send me a picture of the house when you’re done! I can already tell that tons of stuff has changed from the pictures you’ve already sent me. It’s gonna be weird coming back to that. But I’m sure it looks awesome.

So is it getting warmer yet? Cause it is here. I’ve been hot (ha ha in every sense of the word) in my suit these past couple of days. That rocks. I’m definitely ready for summer. I think I’d rather be burning than be freezing cold.

Anyway, I better go! I wanted to thank you again for my birthday package! It rocks. I’ve seriously looked through that photo album at least once every day. I love you guys. Also thanks for the workouts! That should help with the weight I’ve been putting back on. =)

I love you!!
-Elder Swenson

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Pics from December

This is at some Skëndërbeu museum in Krujë. It was closed, but we bugged them and so they let us in. =) This thing actually looks a lot cooler when you’re there.

The front of the museum. It actually had a ton of really cool stuff and awesome sayings by old Albanian war generals and stuff.
Me tracting at Krujë. . . . .in my P-Day clothes.

Me and Elder Fisher at the Museum at the Qendër. All the missionaries in Tirana came there to carol for Christmas. It was cold, but it was fun.

Me and Motra Bentley at the same thing.

Besmir! He came and stopped by when we were singing. I love that kid. He completely rocks.

This is a carnival that was going on for like a month and a half in the Qendër. Just kind of a cool picture.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Yes! We did baptise Mario this week!

Hi Mom!

Yes! We did baptise Mario this week. It was a really good baptism. There were so many people there it was crazy. And yes I did get some pictures for you. Ha ha when Mario is in his whites and next to us he looks so small. It’s pretty funny. I don’t really think he’s as small as he looks though. It was a really special day for Fatjona (his girlfriend) and her family. He has been an investigator for almost a year and finally decided, with the help of the Shupe’s, that he wanted to be baptized. It was pretty emotional for Fatjona to see the man she loves dressed in white and being cleansed through baptism, giving them hope for an eternal future together. Probably the best Valentine’s Day they’ll ever have. Ha ha why don’t they just rub in the fact that I’m like a million miles away from Kiersten, huh? But I really am happy for them. Something that really stuck out to me about Mario is that he did it because he knows it was true. He was told several times and he waited a long time because he didn’t want to do it for Fatjona or for her family. He wanted to do it because he knew it was the right thing to do. He has a testimony and it is apparent. It was a really good evening.

Also this week we actually have progressing investigators!! One is named Nelson and the other is named Ylli. I am really excited about Nelson. He is 29 years old and he’s one of those guys that is kind of socially awkward. He’s a little bit of an outcast, but he is sincere and I’ve had a great time teaching him. Last night he came to the baptism with us and recognized that there was something different there. There was a different feeling and it was happy. As we walked home, we had a really good and fairly in depth conversation about baptism and what it means, how you get there, and why. I explained to him that the feeling that he felt when he was at the baptism was the Holy Ghost and we get baptised so we can have that with us at all times. I really don’t think I’ve ever had anybody who really recognized that feeling right off that bat like Nelson did. So I gave him a challenge to go home and pray and read last night. I told him to pray and ask God if the book was true and if this was really the
church of Christ. We are meeting with him on Wednesday and I can’t wait.

Ylli on the other hand is an older man who actually just got back from
America. I am also really excited for him. He has studied a little bit with the JW’s but hasn’t really gotten too in depth. He is really easy to teach and asks really good questions. At first it was weird teaching him because I thought he was kinda testing us, but he’s not and it’s actually been really good. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom last night and he is already living it which is pretty much unheard of in Albania. The hardest thing for him is probably going to be actually doing things like coming to church and getting baptised and stuff, but I am really looking forward to this week and teaching him more.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT PACKAGE! There was no way I was going to wait till my birthday to open it, sorry. ;) Seriously though, that was so awesome of all of you. Holy cow the photo album was so awesome. Basically everything I love in one book. I have looked through that thing several times already and I’m sure that there’s plenty more to come. Thank you for everything you do to support me. You guys rock!

It sounds like you guys had an interesting time in
San Diego. Ha ha yeah there’s definitely some freaky people in this world! I am so jealous you guys got to go to the beach! Man that would have been nice. And it sounds like the weather was just perfect. Lucky dogs! I’m glad you had a good time, though. Was it restful? Ha ha cause P-Days here are anything but restful so I hope your vacation was actually a vacation.

Well I gotta go e-mail Linds and Dad! I love you, mom! Thanks for your e-mail! And thanks again for the package!

-Elder Swenson

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pictures from December

Ha ha yeah this was our Christmas tree! That was Elder Hixson with me in that picture. He’s the one I was with before Elder Jones was emergency transferred into our area.
Sweetest oven mitt EVER!

One of the towers in a city called Krujë. It’s a city up in the mountains that was one of Skëndërbeu’s strongholds. This tower just looks freaking awesome.
This is called “Pazar I Vjetër” up at Krujë. That translates to Old Shopping Place basically. They just have a lot of cool souvenirs and traditional Albanian stuff.

This is called a çiftali (chief-tall-ee. . . .kinda). The closest thing to a guitar I could find. It’s pretty cool, eh?
This was just a picture I took when we were up at Krujë

Ha ha when we were up at Krujë, we were just walking and we heard this gobbling noise getting gradually louder. We couldn’t figure out what it was until somebody from the group finally discovered it was a turkey shepherd! Ha ha so that was pretty funny. Supremely entertaining.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mario is getting baptized this Sunday

Hey Mom!

Yeah I know it was a bummer I couldn’t e-mail you last week. I felt pretty bad about not getting to you and dad, but today we have full e-mail time and I don’t have like 7000 pictures to send you (although I did send you a few).

Wow, your week sounds like a blast! I love painting. I definitely want to see a picture of what it looks like when it’s all done. What color did you paint it? Just make sure when you paint the rest of the house that you don’t pick poop green. ;) We’ve already tried that one, haven’t we?

Well this week has been. . . . .good. The work is just frustrating sometimes. So keep that in mind while I talk about this week. We had my record worst number week ever with FOUR total lessons. Oh yeah, you know we’re rockin’ it here in 3rd Branch! BUT, Mario is getting baptized this Sunday. I don’t know if I ever really told you who Mario is. He is the boyfriend of a girl in our branch named Fatjona. He started investigating about a year ago but got caught up in work and stuff and hadn’t met with missionaries or came to church in a really long time. But him and Fatjona are really good friends with the senior couple here in Tirana and so finally they got Mario to meet with us again. He had really been wanting to know this was the right thing to do and not just get baptized for Fatjona or for the Shupe’s or for anyone else and I can tell you right now that he is ready. He has a really strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and he has really been great these last few weeks. I only thought he was going to be able to come to church once before he was baptized, but he ended up coming these past three weeks in a row! And the last two, he stayed for the whole three hours! At first, I was a little bit worried about him, but I have no doubt that he is ready to take upon him the name of Christ through baptism and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. We actually had a lesson about what it means to take upon yourself the name of Christ. I asked him what it meant to him. He said, “Well that’s why it’s taken me so long to decide to get baptized. I wanted to make sure I was ready to do that because that’s not something you just take lightly.” He explained it to me and he’s just awesome. He also brought me and Elder Anderson both freaking sweet hats. I’ll get pictures with him this week and send them to you next, cool?

So that was pretty much the only highlight of this week. The rest of it was basically spent tracting and street contacting. We got a ton of numbers so that should be good for this next week.

Okay and about “killing” Elders. It basically just means that I was his companion when he left the country. When we come to Albania we are “born” and when we leave, we “die.” So I killed Elder Jones. And now Elder Anderson is my son. =)

Well it was awesome to hear from you, mom! Sorry again about last week! Hopefully this week makes up for it a little.

Love you!
-Elder Swenson