Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Final Steps

March 1, 2017

Well, it has now been 4 months since I stepped off that planes and ended the greatest journey I had ever set out on. My mission was by far the hardest thing I had ever done up to that point nothing could have prepared my for the crazy times that awaited me on that small island in the western end of the world. My friends and family asked my to write about what are some of the things that missionary talk about right before coming home. Trust me in the 2 weeks before I came home almost every minute we were not working was spent talking about getting to the airport or the first date we go on when we get home. I thought it would be educational if I answered a few of those questions right here in my final blog post. 
Airport Emotions
The second I got on the small plane to leave my small poor but humble home for the last two years, I knew my time there was up. When the plane got up to altitude I remember seeing the island for the last time and tears where rolling down my face. All the people I had met and the places I had been came rushing back into my mind and it was almost to much to handle. But I was able to gain composure and think of the long trek I had in front of myself. In less than 30 hours I would be able to see my family and hug my mom for the first time in two years. 
Right as the plane landed in L.A. we all got a huge culture shock. There where so many people and they were all different nationalities. It was amazing to see what diversity we have here in the United States of America. 
I have heard so many stories about elders and sisters who when they got to see their families they cried or where not able to move. Well let me tell you that was not the case for me. I remember being almost on cloud nine, my body floating towards the gates where I knew all my family would be waiting with signs and banners. I remember the second I saw them letting out the biggest CHI-HOO I could muster and then when we got closer I was just running around hugging and kissing all my family. You could almost say that I was high on happiness because I could not help but run around and just talk my family to death. 
The Post Mission Life
I think that was one of the hardest things was accepting that everything was not going to play out as I had planned it in the mission. Every day when you are serving is planned almost down to the minute and when you get home there is not plan. You can wake up late, or stay out with friends, there is no one telling you not to do things. That was the hardest thing was adapting to a new schedule of sleep and work
We all think the second you get home you will just find the perfect job that lets you work and make great money but also have tons of time off to travel and have the summer off. Well, I'm 4 months into this home life thing and its not that easy. Working takes up most of my waking hours and that is just so I can pay my way through college. As it turns out school is not very cheap in fact it costs an arm and a leg just to go and pay for classes you don't really want to take. 
Just like when I first got to the mission I was humbled really quick the same kinda thing happened the week I got home. Things just don't always work out and sometimes we don't get a do over on life.   
 Mission Summary
Not a day goes by that I don't miss the people that I was able to meet and become apart of their lives. I miss the places I traveled to meet people, the mountains and rivers that where crossed just to bring a message to the world. I loved every minute of my time in the Philippines and would not trade it for anything on this planet. It taught me how to work and not complain, it taught me how to be humble and how to ask for help when I need it. It taught me how to lead when others need someone to look up to. Most of all it taught me how to love unconditionally the people that have become my heart. So if any of you are planning on serving an LDS Mission pray that you go to the Philippines. Thanks for coming on my journey with me
Elder Jacob Swanton   

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Down to the wire

Well Family,

This is really starting to get down to the wire over here for me. Every week that goes by, I almost wish one more would be added on but I know that this is the end of my time over here and now it's time to head back and get on with my life. I guess sometimes missionary's get pretty trunky about this time in their mission but I am lucky to have two great companions who keep me here in the mission every day. 

Tuesday we headed out and were able to teach a lesson to Brother Robert one of the Recent converts here. I still can't believe that Elder Billings was able to learn and teach in sign language in a little over 6 weeks. Its crazy that when you have the spirit the lord can help you do fantastic things. I myself have seen that with a little prayer I to can learn quite a bit of sign language and teach Robert so that he can understand the gospel. He gave me and Elder Tumbokon a mug that says Thank you and I love you on  the side. It feels good to be loved by the people you teach. 

Wednesday we taught sister Richelle and we still were able to get the message across about the plan of salvation. She is really struggling is her search for the happiness she wants. When we taught her I promised her that only in the Gospel will she find that True and eternal Joy. We will see if she will read the BOM and really start to progress toward baptism. 

Friday we had the Street Display in Molo Plaza, and it is quickly becoming some of my favorite days in my whole mission. About 12 of the Elders and Sisters get together and we put up some tables and have a sign that says FREE Book of Mormons. It is so fun to see the people that the Lord has prepared everyday for us to meet and teach. Elder Larson and I were in charge of manning the stand and we met some great people. It's funny because you can almost tell when someone is really interested because they have this glow in their eyes like "What are those Joe's handing out to everyone" It always ends up in the best way. That night after the street display we got a call from Dallin Tracy the Former AP and one of my closest friends from the mission. He said they were at the mission home and we could come over and see them. When we got there it was so fun to meet his parents and catch up on what he has been doing back in the States. They are here for about a week to visit all of his areas and meet his recent converts. 

Saturday was the Last General Conference as a missionary for a lot of us over here. It was great to hear the Prophet and Apostles speak about the matters of the gospel we need most. I think the one that hit me the hardest was the talk of Elder Jeffry R. Holland. Home Teaching is like being a missionary after a mission the people we teach are not just a check mark on a clipboard they are real and they have problems just like everyone else on this earth. Later that night we had baptismal interviews for Sister Juneah and Brother Juan Carlos and they both passed and will be baptized on the 15th of October. I am so blessed to be apart of two more baptisms before I head back to the states.


Sunday we headed to the Arevello Chapel and then we were blessed to hear the Sunday sessions of General Conference. It was so cool to see how many people showed up to see the prophet of the church. No matter the situation of their lives they still make an effort to come to Conference. I was also able to say goodbye to most of the members from my last areas which is a blessing in it self. Not to many Elders have served in the city for as long as I have so to be able to see 4 areas worth of members in one Sunday Service. Later that night we taught Sister Cicelia the wife of Brother Roberto and the mother of Brother Juan Carlos. We taught the Plan Of Salvation and at the end after we explained that a family can be forever she started to cry a little and then when I asked her to say the closing prayer she started to ball. It turns out they have a wayward daughter who does not want to come home right now and the sister knows that this is how she can make her family whole again. I know with out a shadow of a doubt she is right and if she continues after I am gone, her family will make it to the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom. 

I love you all and this two weeks will go by so fast before you know it I will be coming down the stairs at the airport. But until then there is a work to be done in the fields of the Lord. 

Elder Swanton