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Monday, October 7, 2013

I had two pictures to send, but I left the camera at home

Original Elder Swan, Elder Slik, Sam, the son Elder Swan
So... the one picture I do have is the coat from this talk.
Pretty cool huh? I look so fat. This is why I hate pictures. The reason my tag is on my tie is... so you could see it with the coat on... sigh....
Those are the Swans.

General Conference was soooo good. 
Saturday session was all about missionary work and I loved it. It’s a very special time to be a missionary. I'm quite blessed with a great area, companion, and family supporting me. 
So much happens in a week and it's so hard to talk about all the things that go on. 
Here's the skinny (not me)
Life is good. I'm working hard and happy about it. 
I feel like I should give my usual random rant but I don't have too much to rant about.
This talk is bomb. That's my GC highlight.

So the week!
MONDAY! We did our p-day thing. Not too much to report on that front. Monday night was pretty good. We started out trying to have a lesson with someone but he wasn't there, his family told us to come back later so we left. As we left we talked to a super nice woman who invited us to come back the next day. We went to Toni’s after that to talk about baptism. It was an interesting lesson. We talked a lot about the difference between commitments and covenants, the need for authority and so forth. She was having a rough day and was not listening to us. She was as Elder Slik says "actin' a foo'." It was like she had forgotten everything we taught her and it was pretty disheartening. Her situation is a tough one. She is very poor and her two sons are living with her. Idary is taking the lessons with her. He has CP but is still pretty high functioning. Her other son is pretty anti. She struggles a lot because her older son is having a really hard time and is not at all trying to overcome his addictions but is stealing her money and food and stuff. He yells at her and is mean and she is afraid of him. She loves him but it’s hard for her because of the way he is acting. She expressed to us in another lesson how she wants there to be the same spirit in her home that there is in the chapel and in the Tobler's home but every time the son comes in he brings in a spirit of darkness, contention and confusion. It's a pretty sad situation. She's scared and sad with the whole situation. But we love Toni. She's pretty real and always says the funniest stuff. After the lesson we were kinda upset but went back to the lesson we had planned on having earlier. The man and his family were moving some stuff into the house and it was a perfect opportunity to jump in and help out. They were all pretty thankful for that. So we sat down with this guy and talked about his family and his struggles and about Christ. It was impressed upon me the importance of doing the right thing for the right reason. We can (this went right along with GC) do the right thing because we want the blessings that always follow or we can do the right thing because we want to serve the Savior and doing what's right makes us happy. The difference is subtle but the effect is big. This guy was pretty interesting. He (like almost everyone we are teaching) is African American and speaks using almost more slang words than others. When we set up a return appointment he said, "Aigh we finna chop it up this Friday." He also wants to learn a lot about the seven deadly sins. I hope things will pan out like they did with Arjelia. He also knows the bible pretty well. A long time ago missionaries used to go to his house but they couldn't answer his questions so they focused on his girlfriend and he kinda disconnected himself from the lessons. Later in the night we went to see Severina. She is like incredible. She has strong faith. 

TUESDAY! Great day. We took out a priest for a big portion of the day and it was a great time. We taught a few lessons which was really good. In the morning we visited a lot of the members and I got to know them a little better. We got like a tour of one guys house that was absolutely insane. It was up the hill in FH and he had like a giant waterfall diving ... thing. Like a giant waterfall that you could jump off into his pool made by the same people that made the one in the Bellagio or something like that. He's the grandfather of some baseball star.  I can't remember his name right now. Cool, cool house. We taught Toni which went a little better than the night before. She was still upset and struggling and even a little defensive. Not that we were on the offensive in any way, I dunno. She was stressed. After the lesson she left to go to California to work out some family business she was super apprehensive. She said like 56 times how much she hates Cali. It’s an interesting world out there. Without the gospel to ground us, life can really do a number on our happiness. We taught Stephanie a little and prayed with her, she was really grateful. She is a really sweet, sweet lady who just wants to be a good mother to her children. Her devotion was inspiring. She also was cooking gumbo and it smelled so good I almost wanted to ask for a taste, but I didn't. Dinner was cool because it was with a stake young women’s president that reminded me of you mom. Then we went to Fernanda's (A's) baptism! THAT was cool. I love the A's so much and I was super happy to be back and watch that special moment. Fernanda is a really special girl with a strong spirit.
Fernanda's baptism
That whole family is just so gold. Ricardo is a little scared so he'll be getting baptized in a few weeks but he said a great prayer at the end of the service. It was great also to see so many members from Desert Bloom that I grew to love so much. I really loved my time down there and grew to love so many people. I got to see Martha and the Murrays, Elder Ledezma and the Taylors, Sister Herrera and the Padilla family. I really love that branch, part because of the people and part because I grew so much. Las Vegas is my Holyland. Pics of the baptism next week.

WEDNESDAY! Today was kinda weird. A great day, but going to Mission Leadership Council [MLC] was a humbling experience. I'd be lying to say that it didn't scare me a lot to be there with so many missionaries I look up to. It'd also be a lie to say that I wasn't worried about going all week. But I went and I loved it. It was 3.5 hours of discussion and training and council and the Spirit, what a blessing. I learned a lot and saw a lot of ways I need to improve. I got there and saw that I really didn't have too much to be afraid of, but it was one of those experiences that makes you really commit to do wayyy better. A ton of our lessons and appointments cancelled. But the coolest part of the proselytizing was that night when we had a member visit with a nonmember present. She didn't want to leave because she was "afraid to miss something!" Kinda cool. We set up an appointment with her for this upcoming Tuesday so I'm pretty stoked about that. This woman? She's like pure gold and took the lessons a long time ago. She has been to Temple Square and loved it. She would have gotten baptized, but back when she was taking the lessons her husband told her she couldn't. Things have changed a little now and I hope that the outcome will be different. 
I gotta speed up.

THURSDAY! So idk if this got explained in the past, but after MLC the zone leaders give a big training meeting to each zone, usually it happens on Friday, but the APs called us on Wednesday night and told us that we needed to do it Thursday morning. So Elder Slik and I had to stay up late preparing and get up early as well to prepare this meeting. I was super tired, but Elder Slik is really good at preparing and giving trainings and such so we did a good job in preparing a powerful meeting. Elder Slik? He's good, a great speaker and an inspiring trainer. So that meeting took up a big part of the day. It was loosely themed about going the extra mile and more tightly themed about the Atonement. It was good. We had to cancel a few appointments which was unfortunate but ... we're happily obedient. I'd never had to do anything like that but it was exciting to prepare it with such time constraints and give it on such short notice. I trained on the importance of inviting others to be baptized in the first lesson. Toni came back from California and she was much calmer so the lesson went well. Not too much else to report.

FRIDAY! We served a less active guy out of the blue while he was working on his palm trees. DANG! Those things are suuuuper sharp. It's kinda crazy, but we visited a lot of members and stuff. 

SATURDAY! General Conference was sooo good. We watched a session at the church and a session at the Tobler's house with Toni. After the 1st and 2nd sessions we went to a member's home. We were talking about the talks about missionary work and he expressed to us his desires to do better in sharing the gospel and then he told us that he needs to be better about tithing too. It was cool to see the power of General Conference help him to change. How good was Bednar's talk??? But anyway, as we talked with him he really committed to sharing the gospel with his friends. The Spirit was super strong as we invited his family to join him. Priesthood session was great too. No burritos, or shwarmas, or burgers, but it was still good.

SUNDAY! GC was good. We had a good follow up lesson with Toni. Slowly but surely she is grasping these things. Idary really wants to be baptized. They don't have a specific date yet but soon. Probs in the next 2 weeks. We'll see. That night we had a bomb night of visiting the members and extending challenges for them to share the gospel and invite their friends to meet with the missionaries. It went really well. Better than most times. It’s hard to turn down the invitation of the prophet and the apostles. 
That's the message of GC - repent and gain power through the Atonement and share and bless others. And stand strong. 
LA OBRA MISIONAL!
Sorry that I never have too much time. 
I love you all so much!
Sam 

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