Monday, June 28, 2010

June Pics

Us at the mission home in action!

Elder Monson

We live on the second floor of this.

The most amazing blanket ever + the most amazing couch ever = our house.

The mountainside at Krujë.

A sweet quote from Skëndërbeu. It says, “I did not bring you liberty, but I found it in your midst, I did not arm you with weapons, but I found you armed. You had liberty everywhere, in your faces, in your swords and in ushtat.” Ha ha I can't remember what ushtat are.

Kind of a lame pic. . . .

Awkward pic of Elder Monson.

Some sweet grafiti and me looking super fat.

The Lord has not called us to fail.


Dang I wish I was there to hear the Wilson’s speak. I love hearing them teach the gospel. I bet they were awesome missionaries down in Uruguay. Do the senior couples have to learn the language down there? Ours usually don’t speak hardly at all. We just translate for them. I really like that scripture in John. That’s killer. It’s so true, too. The Lord has not called us to fail. He works with what we have. He knows that some of us will be better than others at some things and worse than others at some things, but all that matters is that we try our hardest. If we work our hardest to keep being better then God will make it possible to accomplish what we were sent to accomplish.

Ooh, I was talking with some of the missionaries about college and stuff and I realized that if I want to try to get into BYU I should probably find out about what I need to do to apply and when the deadline is. Is there any chance I could get you take a look into that for me? I’m pretty sure they’re not going to accept me, but why not give it a try?

Ha ha so you like our house? Yeah I love it too. We actually got a really good deal on it, too. It’s nowhere near the most expensive house in the mission, but it’s the best one in my opinion. It’s actually one of the cheaper ones. A member’s mom knew the pronari of this house and I guess had heard that the old house that the Assistants were in wasn’t all that great and so we got this one! Love it. And Krujë is about an hour outside of Tirana. It does have really good scenery. It’s where Skëndërbeu had his stronghold fighting against the Ottomans.

So with Donika we got to meet her this week and then on our second meeting, we were getting her to log onto my skype account so she could talk to us on Elder Monson’s. We were communicating by e-mail and the power over there went out so we just lost her for like an hour and figured she had left or something so we didn’t get to meet with her twice like we had planned. She’s still doing really well though. At the end of our last meeting she asked, “Could you tell me like what a mormon girl is supposed to be like? Like I know they aren’t supposed to smoke and drink alcohol and stuff like that and I just want to know like all of those things.” So we are going to be teaching her about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity this next time. Two big ones at the same time. But we’re pretty sure she’s been living both of them pretty much for a long time. She has a For Strength of Youth pamphlet and the Sweeny’s say that she really likes it and finds strength in it. So Donika is doing well. She is super ready to get baptized, we just have to start avoiding all the random logistical problems.

We actually ended up not being able to meet Ergi this week. I don’t really think he has a lot of actual interest in the church. Maybe he does and he’s just always at work, but I don’t feel like he’s making a ton of effort to meet us anyway. When you really want to do something you find the time. Yes it is common to turn over a female investigator to the sisters and vice versa. And actually that’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re not supposed to be teaching a person of the opposite gender unless there is another person of your gender accompanying you to the lessons or present in the house.

To answer your other question, yes there are other colleges that aren’t in Tirana and there are several inside of Tirana, but the ones in Tirana are the largest and so they have the most people from outside coming in. Elder Monson is leaving next Wednesday. That’s really weird. He’ll be going to Georgia for a week and then coming to Utah after that for school.

Sorry my e-mail was so lame this week, but I am just really out of it today for some reason. It could be because we just went to play soccer for like an hour and a half. ;)

I love you, Mom!

-Elder Swenson

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We actually had a pretty solid week this week.

Hi Mom!

We actually had a pretty solid week this week. It was a little disappointing because we have zero progressing investigators at the moment, but that sounds a lot worse than it actually is! The disappointing thing is that all the investigators we had before aren’t progressing, but we found new ones this week! And interestingly enough, most of our success came from tracting this week! Towards the beginning of the week, we found a 21 year old college student named Thanas. He was really cool. He’s the only young man I’ve met so far that has told us that we should be living the Law of Chastity. Weird. He explained to us, “We Albanians don’t do a lot of things right, but we do have one thing right and that is that we consider family as a holy thing. We have a tradition that we should marry a girl who is a virgin and start a family with her.” Yeah that has basically not happened at any other time in my mission so that was cool. We had a great couple of lessons with him, but he’s leaving back to his house after he’s done with his tests for school. That’s the problem with summer. All the people that come for school leave back to their homes. But that’s okay. We’ll keep in touch.

I went on exchanges to 4th Branch with Elder Skousen on Thursday and so obviously Elder Monson and Elder Hagen—who stayed in our area—had to get in like three times tracting. They found a man who let them in who ended up not really being interested in experimenting on the word and meeting and reading and stuff, but his daughter said to them, “Don’t worry, I’m interested.” So we had another meeting with her and the sisters on Saturday and kinda handed her off to them. She seemed really legit. She loved the scriptures. Ha ha it made me happy cause I shared the scripture in 3 Nephi 14 where Jesus compares prophets to trees and shows us that we can know them by their fruits. She loved it. She laughed and said, “That is an awesome analogy! Really understandable.” And I was thinking to myself, “Well it was Jesus. He was a decent teacher.” But it was good to see somebody with a love for the scriptures. As for mine and Elder Skousen’s exchange in 4th Branch, not as immediately fruitful. We were finding all day and I think I got tanner. ;) But I found out that they found two new investigators off of the numbers we got that day so that made me happy.

Then last night we finally got to meet with Ergi! Ergi is the brother of Megi from 3rd branch. His girlfriend, Helena, has been taking the lessons for some time now and just set a baptismal date for July 11th. She is awesome and super ready as far as I can tell. She’s told the sisters that her and Ergi want to get married in the temple and stuff and so we’ve been trying to meet with him for a long time, but he has stood us up a bunch and just been really hard to get a hold of. So yesterday the sisters sent us a text when we were in church saying that Ergi was at 3rd Branch for church and didn’t have work so we could probably meet him. So we called him and set up a meeting with him for 5:00 last night. We ended up waiting for him until 6:00, but we met him! Helena had come with him and so we got to teach them both at the same time. She seemed a lot more ready than he is, but I think that with some work, he will be great as well. He’s a lot quieter and I just think he’s kind of embarrassed to talk in front of his girlfriend because he knows almost nothing about religion. But we got him to talk a little bit last night so we were happy! We even got him to say the closing prayer which was really good. With a little practice he’ll have it right on. Helena is a really good example for him and so I hope he realizes how happy she is because of the gospel and how happy they could be together in the gospel. His sister and mother are awesome examples as well and have been blessed tons by the gospel in their lives, but I think Helena has a more powerful influence on his heart than they do right now.

So that’s how our week went! How was yours? It’s been raining over here a lot. How’s the weather been treating you over there? Is it any more like summer? Anyone else getting married? It seems like there has been someone new that’s getting married like every week. Kiersten’s brother, Sam, was this week’s news so make sure you tell them congrats! How is the house without us chillins there?

I love you mom! Have a great one!

-Elder Swenson

Monday, June 14, 2010

Well there’s pretty much one highlight about this week and his name is Xhevo.

What up?

Well there’s pretty much one highlight about this week and his name is Xhevo. It’s actually like Xhevahir, but Xhevo is shorter and easier. =) So you’ll remember our referral family that we have been teaching, the Guga’s. Well Reldi Guga is pretty much the only one that hasn’t dropped us yet and he comes to English course every week, too. Well this last week he brought a friend, Xhevo, who is twelve and awesome. I think I mentioned how he had read a ton last week? But anyway, we met him after English on Wednesday and he is really excited to learn more. We took him to a baptism on Saturday which was an adventure. On the way there we were talking a little bit about baptism and stuff and he was like, “Do you know how mad I am that I’m not baptized?!”

“. . . . .Uh. . . .how mad?”

“Really mad!”

We were both thinking to ourselves, “Well we can probably do something about that!” =) he loved the baptism and he wants to get baptized really bad. The only concern we have is being able to meet with his parents cause we don’t want to be working with a twelve year old without his parents even knowing who we are or where he’s going on Sundays and stuff. So we’re trying to set up a meeting with his family this week and hopefully we can get them interested as well. I’m really looking forward to working with this kid.

Donika, the young woman from Kosovo, is doing well also. She is super busy right now finishing school and working and still she made time to meet us this week. Our internet was down at the mission home so we had to do our lesson at an internet lokal which is always kind of awkward. It’s fine for just talking to somebody, but for a gospel lesson it’s a little interesting. For one, only one person can talk cause they don’t have splitters and also there’s a lot of random people that can hear you and, of course, the wonderful music they always play at the lokals here. We were supposed to meet her again yesterday, but she got emergency called into work and so we’re meeting her tonight. She’s not going to be baptized right on July 4th because the couple that’s in Kosovo right now is going to be out of town. She doesn’t want to get baptized without them there which is understandable because they have helped her out a ton and been a huge support. But it will probably just be later that week or we might have to push it back one week because it’s really hard for her to meet often. But she is working hard to meet us and you can really see her desire. We’ve been keeping her in our prayers and so I have confidence that the Lord will bless her and she will do the right thing.

This week we held Zone Conference. Stressful and tiring as always, but very good and uplifting as well. President talked a lot about resolve and determination. Our mission has been doing horribly at finding new investigators and obviously when you don’t find anybody you’re not going to teach anybody and you’re not going to baptize anybody. President issued a challenge for us to resolve that going an entire week without finding a new investigator is unacceptable and to do whatever it takes to find at least somebody. I really like that challenge. So we’re going to be doing that for sure!

We gave a training about working with the branch for fellowshipping and retention which is kind of ironic because I’ve never done anything of the sort before the mission. But it actually wasn’t too bad. The Preach My Gospel DVD’s had a really good example of it and so we figured we would just ask ourselves, “Okay, what do we have to do to become like this?” It’s not gonna happen overnight, but there’s definitely a few things that missionaries can start doing right now to increase our effectiveness and unity with the branch. It was actually really helpful for me to study and see how branch councils and missionary correlation meetings and other such things work. I think it would be awesome to have a calling that has to do with missionary work.

So maybe I should answer some of your questions now? English course is every Wednesday and Saturday. They usually run for about two or three months and then we close them down and try to re-open them to get some new people. Ha ha normal transfers are every six weeks. Well actually there are two transfers every 13 weeks so one is six and one is seven. Every 13 weeks new missionaries come and we call that the “big transfer” whereas the other one is usually pretty small and not that many changes are made so we call it the “small transfer.” There is one Zone Conference every transfer.

Thanks so much for sending that package! I’ll be waiting for it. =) Speaking of which, I don’t know if I told you this, but I got Grandma’s package that she sent and it was awesome so make sure you give her a big thank you from me and Elder Monson.

Sounds like you guys had a fun time at Strawberry! Well I guess more of an adventure is what you’d call it. But it’s good to have those every once in a while. The pictures are great. Especially the ones of Bear. I laughed pretty hard at him and his sleeping bag. It also sounds like you have another adventure ahead of you at Swinging Bridge. I swear I know where that is, but I just can’t pinpoint it right now. But I’m sure the Webelos will love it. You’ve got a crazy group coming in. I hope all goes well and I hope the rain stops long enough for you to have a little fun. ;)

I love you, mom. Thanks for your e-mail and the pictures. Have a great week!

-Elder Swenson

Monday, June 7, 2010

Latest Pics

Service in a nënë's garden

Elder Monson looking. . . . .well kinda just looking. . . .

Action shot

Making Cookies


The road to the church

The fruit treg right by the church building. Also an incredibly ticked xhaxhi.

I don't know I just liked it okay?

Doggies! I am petting Mommy and Scaredy is the one that's just kinda sitting there. I'll have to get a picture of Puppy some other day.

Elder Monson asleep in the office. (Don't worry, it was P-Day)

Elder Dittmer (Scout)

Elder Klein (Fleet Admiral)

Me looking retarded.

A Muslim school in our branch.

We just had to have something cool set up for the 4th of July.

Hey Mom!

This week was a pretty frustrating week, but then some really good things happened too. That girl that I was talking about last week—the one that was super pumped to get baptized—is now not getting baptized. I guess her cousin just was feeding her a bunch of dumb stuff about the church and just about religion in general and so she decided to listen to him instead of God. But someday she will be independent enough to make the right decision.

We replaced her baptismal date, however, with another one. Donika, the one from Kosovo, is going to be getting baptized at the first of July. We set a date for the 4th, but it’s probably going to happen on one of the days close to that. We just had to have something cool set up for the 4th of July. ;) But she’s doing well and we’re going to try to get her hooked up with some of the Albanian members on Facebook so she can have more friends in the church. Also, there is actually a pretty good possibility that she will come down to Tirana to be baptized which is gonna be sweet! I can’t wait and I hope everything goes well. She’s gonna be really busy these next two weeks and so I hope she can make time for God so he can help her out with all this school stuff that she’s gonna have to do.

Yesterday at church was INSANE. We have just recently started our English Course and it ended up being basically just a ton of kids that came. There are older people too, but a lot more kids. So we invited them to come to church! And they came! Well at least quite a few came. The whole front two rows of our chapel were full with kids. There are two super cute little girls named Alisja and Vjollca that have invited like all their friends to English and brought some of them to church. They actually live right by where we live too so we see them a lot just in the road and stuff. They are so funny. But of course they love the sisters like a hundred times more than they like us.

Also Reldi Guga (the 13 year old in that family) brought one of his friends to English and he came to church yesterday! In English on Saturday we talked about the Book of Mormon and gave out copies to people that wanted to learn more about it. I didn’t even notice that Xhevo (his friend) took a book, but me and Reldi sat by him at church yesterday and I asked him if he had read any of it yet. He said, “Yeah!” I asked him how far he got and he showed me that he was already on the fifteenth chapter of 1 Nephi! Yeah. So I’m pretty excited about meeting with him. I told him to come back and talk to me after third hour yesterday so we could set up a meeting before English or something, but he and Reldi forgot and left after class before I could get down there. He’ll be at English on Wednesday though so we’ll for sure be able to set something up with him there. He loved what he read and he had a good time in church. Well, he was kinda bored, but then again so was I. ;)

So Lindsey’s moving out, eh? That’s scary. ;) But exciting at the same time. Hopefully she’ll do well. You guys are gonna be pretty lonely in the house without us! But at least you’ve got a lot of stuff to keep you busy. Or that’s what it sounds like from your e-mail. You’ve got all these wood things from Sher to do. Does that hurt your hands to be sanding that much? It seems like you’d get tired pretty fast from that. But I’m sure she’s very grateful you’re helping out.

Well I will definitely check out the priesthood session talks as soon as they get to us. We get the conference issues like right before the next conference. So I’m excited to read them! We only get to see the two morning sessions here cause the other ones are too late. That would be sweet if we could have like a conference sleepover at President’s house, but for some reason that just doesn’t fly. ;)

Oh! Tell Grandma I got her package and it was awesome! Tell her thank you a hundred times! She sent me her homemade caramels and they were amazing. And some jerky and Mike ‘n’ Ike’s. Good stuff. =) Much appreciated both by me and my comp.

Mom, thank you for your e-mail! I love you so much and I’m praying for you always! Love you!!

-Elder Swenson