Monday, October 18, 2010

We got to do a lot of missionary work this week.

Hey Mom!

That’s good to hear you’re still having good weather cause then the Halloween party might go well! Well actually I guess we always say that, but then it snows or rains like crazy so good luck! What’s dad planning on doing this year? Make sure you take some pictures and send them to me. Over here it is definitely starting to get cooler. It rained literally all this week and it was awesome. It’s not super cold yet so the rain doesn’t bother me. I wish it rained in Utah like it does here.

Tell Lindsey to get feeling better for me! It is the season for sickness. But hopefully it will pass. Ha ha yeah dad was saying how you went to her school and were here “models.” I find it hilarious that Dad was there. =) That’s good to know that she’s doing something she likes though. And from what it sounds like, she’s a natural!

Oh my goodness I better write Grandma a letter then. Tell her happy birthday! She has written me my entire mission and I don’t know if I’ve ever written her a letter back. That’s pretty lame of me so I will get on that.

Tell Bishop and Race that I said hi. Man that’s a bummer for Race. But I’m sure it’s for a reason. The Albanians always say that, “it’s in God’s hand.”

Well we got to do a lot of missionary work this week. We didn’t have a ton of random stuff to do here in the office. We did a lot of tracting. But it worked I guess cause we found eight new people to teach. We had some really cool lessons. I think the coolest one was last night. I don’t know why but the best stuff always happens on Sundays. We were tracting and we got in with a small family of three. It was a grandma, her daughter, and granddaughter. It was funny because the grandma was the one that was interested at first at the door so she let us in. We talked for a while and taught about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon and how they could and why they needed to know if the Book of Mormon was true. When we asked them if we could come again and talk about the experience that they had reading and praying about the book, the grandma started saying everything normal for people who don’t want to commit. “I’ll tell you what, we’ll try for sure. I’m not making any promises but we’ll try.” “We’re always home just swing by whenever you’re in the neighborhood and we’ll be here.” Translated into English, it basically means, “Thanks for the free book, but we’re not really that interested.” But the daughter, named Olta, gave us a definite yes. You could tell during the lesson that she was really listening and I think because she was listening, the spirit was able to touch her heart. She was excited to give it a try and volunteered really fast to give the prayer at the end of the lesson.

It was interesting because I think me and Elder Griffith are still kind of trying to get used to each other’s teaching style and everything, but last night for that lesson it just clicked. We were able to work together and teach a lesson where the spirit was able to be there. I’ve been having a really weird week just not feeling all there, but when you’re in one of those lessons, all of that just goes away. It’s such a great feeling. I would love so much if this family continued to learn. I would love to see somebody be more happy in their lives because of the gospel. So I’ll keep you posted on them.

Mom, I love you! I’m really grateful for all your letters and support and prayers. I’m lucky to be a part of the family I have. I continue to pray for you all every day so I hope it’s working. ;) I love you.

-Elder Swenson

Monday, October 11, 2010

It’s definitely getting a little chilly here.

Hey Mom!

How’s it going back in Alpine? Is it starting to get cold yet? It’s definitely getting a little chilly here. I’m grateful for those massive shoes you sent me. They are really good for the rain. =) By the way, thanks for that picture book that you sent with the Foulk’s! I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was such a stud when I was little, eh? ;) I love pictures so thanks for sending those. Man it was weird seeing Elder Foulk meet his parents cause then right after that the fringos came and we got to take them all over the place and get them ready to work. I saw the whole circle of life in the course of an hour.

That was probably the most exciting thing that happened this week. We got new missionaries! I love getting new missionaries. This group was really, really good. There were four elders and one sister. Interesting story. When new missionaries get here, we have to take them all to the embassy to get a copy of their criminal records (or lack thereof). Well, this time we forgot that, in America, it costs $50 to print off a piece of paper and I had nowhere near enough money on me to pay for $200 worth of criminal records. So I had to collect money from all the new elders and we finally scrounged up enough to pay for the four dang papers. It was funny though because apparently when they got to the Salt Lake airport, some random guy came up to them and gave them $80 bucks so they could get some food before they left and for anything else they might need during their trip. They still had $40 bucks left over when they got here so that helped out a lot! Who knew that guy was so inspired?

I wish I could take you guys driving around Tirana. You would freak out. The fringos love it. I promise I’m not an insane driver, but in Tirana you have to drive differently than in Utah or it’s not safe. It’s funny cause we don’t even think anything of it anymore we’re so used to it, but every time the fringos come in they always say something to the effect of, “Well I guess the rumors they told us about the driving were true.” Good times.

So I am still in Tirana and still in 1st branch. I didn’t move. My new companion is Elder Griffith. He’s from Mount Vernon, Iowa and he’s taller than I am. We’re the tallest companionship in the mission (averaged, of course. There’s still one elder that’s taller than Elder Griffith). He’s a really funny kid and like a thousand times smarter than I am so I’m learning a lot. Hopefully I can pick up on some of that and start getting smarter/funnier again. Both of those aspects have taken a drastic hit during my mission.

Well I can’t think of anything else really exciting that happened this week so I will finish by saying that I love you! I hope you are all doing well. You are in my prayers every morning and night. I’m grateful that I was born into such an awesome family. I can’t wait to see you guys again.

Love you!

-Elder Swenson

Monday, October 4, 2010

I actually have something cool this week to write about.

Guess what! I actually have something cool this week to write about. Weird, huh? Nothing cool really happened to us this week per se, but I just saw a cool comparison that we actually were able to teach in our English class.

Some of the pictures that you just looked at are from a village in between Tirana and Elbasan called Pëllumbas. It’s a small village where nobody really lives, but if you hike a little ways up into the mountains there are some caves that you can explore. They are humongous caves and there are probably thousands of bats inside. The floor is covered in slippery mud and the only source of light that you have is a fairly low-powered flashlight to help you see what’s barely in front of you. The scenic hike up to the caves is beautiful and we enjoyed it thouroughly. The caves were also really fun to explore. We were all given flashlights to walk around in the caves, but obviously when you’re in some bat caves with a bunch of 20 year old kids, at some point you’re going to turn all the lights off. We all piled in to one of the caves and on the count of three we turned off our flashlights. It was incredible how dark it was in there. Honestly, you couldn’t see your hand held up in front of you. You couldn’t see anything. If we would have tried to get out of the caves without a light, we would have never made it and probably ended up slipping, falling, and getting hurt along the way. But if one person would turn their flashlight on and scope out the path, you could follow that person and know you weren’t going to slip or fall. You knew that he could see the safe way out and if you followed him, you would be safe as well. All you need is that one light source in the midst of the drowning darkness and it becomes possible.

We all know that the times we live in are fairly dark. There are tons of things around us that do not give off light in the least bit. Satan is using anything and everything he can find to turn out the lights or to blind us so we can’t see them. Think about the words in John chapter 8. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” We are all unavoidably put in this world of darkness. Whether we like it or not, we are in darkness. Heavenly Father is not here to show us every step of the way. It’s our job to find a way out of the darkness and back into His presence. But luckily, we all have one person to whom we can look for that source of light. That person is Jesus Christ. He set the perfect example for us. He knows the path and if we follow that path, we won’t slip or fall. We will be safe and one day we will make it out of the dark caves into the glorious light of the Celestial Kingdom. Now think about the words in Matthew 5 and we learn about the responsibility that we each have as followers of Jesus Christ. “Ye are the light of the world. . .Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” When we are on that road, we all have the opportunity to be that light for others. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I have to be that light in my life. It’s awesome to be able to help people get on the path so they don’t have to suffer anymore.

I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m grateful for the example he set for all of us. I’m grateful for forgiveness. He is there and he knows exactly how to help us. Why not come unto him and be a part of that peace. I know this is His true church.

I love you, Mom!

-Elder Swenson