Sunday, March 29, 2015

Just a little further Elder, come on......

Updates from Jacob....

Alright well its time to report my week.
This could have been the most exciting and the most boring week that I have ever had in my whole life. I really don't know how to describe it. But I will try my hardest to explain how the lord has tested me and put me through all sorts of trials this week. To start on Tuesday we got back from district meeting and headed out and tried to place some book of Mormons. It was great we did just that and also taught some lessons. When we got back to the house is when the trouble started. My comp started to get really sick and not look very good. I called the mission presidents wife and she gave my comp some witch doctor advice and he did what she said and started to get better. So I kinda forgot abut the whole thing. 
The next day we went out early in the morning to find this family that is super hard to contact, we hiked for a while to their house. They live pretty far up by a dam, the only one in the area. As I thought, they were not home, so I asked elder Bontoyan what he wanted to do. As usual he said whatever you want to do. I decided to keep walking, we hiked for about 2 more hours into the mountains and we were asking people where we were and if they had ever heard of the Mormons before. A lot of people had and some told us to keep moving they wanted nothing to do with a bunch of Mormons. I was even starting to get a little discouraged but then we finally hit this Burunguy called Maray. When we showed up everyone there stopped and they all came over to talk to us. The Burunguy Capetian was super good at English and I asked her if there was any other little villages over the other side of the mountain and she said yes there was a couple more. I looked at Elder Bontoyan and said I hope you are ready cause we are about to go on an adventure. He did not look to excited and I said we could be the first missionary's to these villages and he said ok lets go. That is when all the crazy started to happen. The road dispersed and all of a sudden we are just walking in the river bed and hoping over massive rocks and crossing the river. We saw these kids with some massive packs on their backs and asked them where they were going, they told us Yapo. That was just were we wanted to go, I asked if we could follow and they said yes. Over the next 3 hours of hiking I asked them all kinds of questions, as it turns out we would be the first Mormon Missionary s in that village. Also I would be the first White person, after I heard that my steps started to get faster. I could not believe that I would be the first one, like my dreams are about to come true. 
The kids also said that the whole village was Catholic and they all go to church in a little Catholic meeting hall. I could not believe how awesome this was going to be. We finally saw the smoke coming from Yapo and man I started to really walk fast. All I wanted to do is get to this place and start to spread the word and work of God. Finally got there and the first thing that I wanted was some water and so we followed the kids and they took us to a place were we could buy some water. I saw the entire village come and watch me drink my water and then I said Ako Si Elder Swanton and they all about flipped out. Hahaha they could not believe that I could speak their language and then they hit me with a bombshell. One of the sisters started to speak English. I about fell over with disbelief. I just hiked 3 hours into the never before tracked regions of Bugasong and the people here can speak pretty good English. We gave away 4 Book of Mormons so fast that we said don't you all worry we will be back next week and they were all so happy. Right before we left the Jordan family wanted to take some pictures, I said yes of course. Before I knew what was going on they threw a little kid on my lap and they all started to call me Ninong Swanton. I was like what the freak is going on. The mom asked me a question, what I thought she said was, will you teach me son? But what my comp later translated was Will you be my sons Godfather and I said yes before knowing what was going on. The whole family about had a heart attack and started smiling a clapping. I really don't know what will happen but as of Wednesday I have a new godson hahaha. Once in a lifetime is the phrase that I have been saying about this week.
But yeah after that we hiked out and the next couple days I really did nothing my comp got so sick like I really don't know what to do. Yesterday we went to church and by the way we had the most people we have ever had. 64 people showed up and that is a record for me and Elder Larson. But right after church my comp got sick again so yeah today I am watching him really close to make sure that he does not pull a fast one and die on me. I can't have that or how will we be able to work. Really the only other thing that I can think of is that I have some Big News. For the first time in Bugasong History we are leading the mission and more specifically My Area had the most Baptisms this last month and also our district is leading the mission in all the numbers and stats.It feels good to actually be doing what we should. I know the Gospel is true and I will never be shy about that for the rest of my life and you can bet that on your life. I love you all more that you know and cant wait until I can tell you all these stories in person. 
Love Elder Swanton

All the pictures of Yapo and the kid on my lap with the White shirt is my godson Kirt Zion Jordan, the other pic are of me and Larson we wear khaki pants every Sunday now.

Going where no other has gone before....

River/Road/Trail= multi use transportation system

Back on sorta dry ground

Elder Swanton - The Godfather of  Yapo.    go figure.....

Yapo kids

Khaki pants are all that in Bugasong

Local money

Monday, March 23, 2015

Don't ride with stangers- a Missionary's story..

Well, the pictures from back home just made my week! Man, this will be one of those emails where I have to think back to all the times that the Lord blessed me this week and to tell the truth it has been a whole bunch of times. My companion and I have just been putting in work in our area. We have had so many people just come up to us and say hey you are Mormons right and we say yeah and then they want a book of Mormon and want us to go find and teach them. I can say that I have been to places in my area that I had no idea that they even existed and man have we found some new people to teach. The Lord works in mysterious ways sometimes and the real goal is to recognize what He is doing.
I know sometimes that it is hard, sometimes I don't know why my comp wants to talk to those people and more than one time they have turned out to be the best people that I have ever seen; full of questions and wanting to know more. We have also seen that some people are just not ready for the gospel and need more time and trials before they come to the truth. It pains my heart when people don't want the things that we have or when they tell us that we are not the true church. I just want to know what is in their heads that tells them these things. But yeah, I will share a small experience where I know that the Lord was looking over my companion and I. 
We got done Sunday night teaching a lesson at the farthest part of our area. When we got done and said our goodbyes, we started the long 3-hour walk home and to make things better the rain started to come down and I don't mean just rain, I mean really come down like flood status. I said a little prayer and then all of a sudden a man on a motorcycle pulls up next to us and he said Hey Joe where you going? I said home and he said get on. Almost immediately after getting on the bike I started to smell that this man was very drunk and he really did not have much control of the motorcycle. He then proceeded to speed up to very fast speeds. I started to talk to him to see if he would stop and then he got very angry with me and insisted that we come to his house and get drunk with all his friends. Now remember that this man is no taller than Ethan and I had a very strong grip on his shoulders and we needed to get home, so we rode on. Then as we got closer to a gas station, I got the impression that we needed to get off. I said that we were home and that was not true, we were so far from home,  but the spirit told me that we were done. So I said Ja Lang or  here only. He pulled over and got off the bike and then he told me to empty my wallet and I said no I will not and then he said okay then give me some money for the ride. I said that I would give him 20 pesos and he started to get mad and tell me that if I did not do what he wanted he was going to call his friends and they would make us pay. Lucky for that man the gas stations here have people that work there to pump the gas. The large gas attendant there told the dude to get lost and he got back on his bike and told us to watch our backs. I said thanks and the attendant said it was nothing and then we kept waking and after about an hour we got the Ceres bus to pick us up and went home. I have never prayed that hard in my life with thanks in my heart. 
Other than that, I blessed a baby while it was nursing and that was an experience, ha ha. But yeah, we worked hard all week and we had a miracle happen at church. We finally had 57 people at church and just for your info that is the most people that we have had at church for about 5 years and man it felt so good to have the chapel full. I know that the Lord was helping us this week because we found so many other people at church that we have never even seen before. It was so awesome!
As for me I am just trying to forget myself and get to work. I had another friend come home from his mission and it really brings to mind how easy it is for people to come home. A mission is not easy and to be honest sometimes it is not a very fun time. But mark my words, I will not see any of you for a long time. The Lord calls missionaries for 2 years and no less. 
Love, Elder Swanton

The pictures are of me carving a pig cage with a big old knife, also my favorite breakfast after I get done working out, also all the girls up in Tica that we teach. Finally, don't forget a muscle picture of just me hanging off the back of a Jeep.

Favorite breakfast after workouts.

Carving a "Pig Cage"

Girls that we are teaching

Chapel in Bugasong

Flexing and riding on a jeep.

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's like de javu all over again!!!

Update from Jacob...

Okay, here we go mom, this will be a very informative email. First, I will answer all of your questions. What happened with transfers is that Me and Elder Larson are training and we both headed down to Iloilo to get them Wednesday night. The next morning, it was just like a flashback for me; just the whole getting there for the first time and meeting everyone. We both got our Batas or children that we would be training and they are both so sick. My new companion's name is Elder Bontoyan and he is from Palawan, a little island off the coast of Panay. He speaks the language already so that was nice.  O yeah, I got a bunch of new pants from Elder Orr. He was the super tall Canadian that was in Sibalom and believe it or not mom I am down to a 40 waist and it is so amazing to see some results. That is 4 whole inches off the waist and I won't be stopping anytime soon.

So this week was one of the best weeks I have had since I have gotten to the field. It's crazy to think that I am already done with all my training and that I am training a kid now. It feels good to know that I can lead the area. We have already found so many new people to teach. My bata is not afraid to talk to anyone he wants to; all the time and all times of the day. Sometimes, I have to tell him to slow down cause we have a lesson to get to and he just wants to stay in an area and get new investigators. Man these three days have been better than all of my whole training. It's crazy to see that the moment that you have the Spirit with you all the time how many miracles can happen in just one day.

Well, that is about all that has happened to me. Just tell the family that I love all of them and will try to email all of them. Micheal, I love ya man and keep up the good work. You look a little thicker already. You better keep working out. I'm gonna try to hit my max bench tomorrow and see if I can get 395, but we will see. I love you Adee and Ethan and make sure you are both good for mom and dad. Mom and Dad, I love you and it's crazy to think how fast the time has gone already. Just to think that in no time at all I will be coming home, but in the meantime, the Lord has some people that he needs me to teach. 
Love,  Elder Swanton

My new comp is Elder Bontoyan from Palawan

Can you find someone hiding in this picture?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Faith in thier footsteps....

Updates from Jacob....

Wow, thanks for the family updates. To start, for the siblings,tell Michael to chill out and to hit some push-up's, cause I am getting yoked over here. Tell Ethan that it's not what you smell like it's how you use your smell to your advantage, ha ha! Like over here, we all use flower perfume cause it smells really good, ha ha. Tell Adde that I love her and to keep being amazing!

Ok, this week has been a really crazy one to be honest. I have really seen the affects of prayer and how the more you study the works and words of the prophets of God the better off in your mission you will be. Dad, I finally took some pictures of what the bedroom looks like. I don't really know how to explain it other than yeah I can fit two beds in it and all we do is sleep in that room cause it is way to hot all day to be there and we are not supposed to be home during the day anyways. Alright, so this week was just a week of preparation. We had five baptisms for Saturday, so we focused all of our attention on those. Not to my surprise one of the girls said she wanted to be baptized later so we said that that was okay and just kept on working with the other four. I feel so good about these 4 girls. They all are so eager to learn and are already talking about when they go to the temple. It has been a really cool experience. Ok, so yeah a lot of prep. We had to go to San Jose to get some baptism clothes because we have none in Bugasong. That took about a whole day because we had to wait for the Zone Leaders to finish teaching at the prison. Anyways, we got the stuff and then we came back and had the interviews of the girls. They all passed with flying colors and were so dang excited. I could not help but smile. They invited the whole village to their baptisms and could just not be happier. Me and my comp also had a little tussle, if that is what you want to call it. He was being super moody so I called him out and asked him why he was acting like a little kid. He just told me to keep talking cause that is all I know how to do. For all those who know me, I don't take too kindly to people saying stuff like that, so instead I decided to go outside to cool down. When I came back downstairs, he apologized and we worked things out.

All in all we ended our week with a bang. On Saturday, we had a total of 5 baptisms in Bugasong, which is so dang cool since as a zone last month we only got 7 baptisms. So yeah, we are doing our part to make this zone a better place. Those were super fun and then we started to plan out what we were going to do on p-day cause it's the last week that all the boys will be together before transfers. It was so sick. We all headed up to Culasi. It is about 2 hours north of Bugasong and we took a little boat out to an island called Marilison. It was so sick, like I don't think that I will ever go to somewhere that sick again. Anyways, here is some pics of the last week.
Love you all!
Elder Swanton
PS: I forgot to say I was able to weight myself today and to say that I might have lost some weight is an understatement. I am 40 pounds down and don't worry the next time you all see me I will be so dang good looking! Ha ha.
My spacious sleeping quarters

Good eats

Baptism's - so cool

Not a bad view

Trying to catch the setting sun....

Fish and some other stuff???

Island trip

Sick boat

Me and Comp

Holy rock

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sorry Brigham...THIS is the PLACE!

Update from Jacob....

Ok, well, I will try my hardest to explain how this week went. To answer Dad; no, I don't have any pics of the sleeping area cause there is not enough room for a camera in the room, ha ha. No, I don't really make any salad. All that stuff is expensive. I have really dived into Philippine culture. All I really have been eating is just dried fish and rice cause it's super cheap and I can save money to get cool stuff at the end of the month. This month, I saved enough to get a super nice backpack since we travel so much. I also have been eating a lot of fried rice cause I can make it pretty healthy with veggies and stuff. This week has really not been much. We have just been getting our investigators ready for the 7th when we have 5 baptisms and that I am super excited for.

I really look for all the opportunities to see how the Lord has blessed me. I was thinking this week that this is the only place for me and how I don't think I would have wanted to go state side or to anywhere else. This mission may be stinking hard and the food may suck, our fridge may go out and all our food goes bad, and a couple of missionaries go home; but, for me this is the place. Sorry Brigham Young, but the Philippines is the place for me. In other news, I finally took my shirts in to the tailor and he sure has made them look great. I just got them back and have not tried them all on, but they look smaller. I think I might be down about 30 or 40 pounds since I left the house. But just as Uncle Ben said, you will never know till you get home. There are no scales here and they just don't read for big people. Not the longest e-mail this week, but I'm sure that next week will be the longest one yet. Me and Larson are really kinda nervous for what will happen next week, but the Lord has plans for all of us and he will lead the way. I love you all and pray for you every night.
Love, Elder Swanton

The Pics are of when I slipped and fell in some of the deepest mud in the whole of Bugasong and I got covered, ha ha. The others are of me and Larsen at the district conference.