Tuesday, April 28, 2015

1,000 stairs

Updates from Jacob...

Hey mom and family,

Well this week has just jumped back to a pretty normal week, we did some good work and taught some good lessons and really put in the hours that we could. I can't believe that you guys back home are going through the same things that we go through here. I don't know if the water will ever be good to drink haha, but the water is good for showering if the buckets are full. We had as I said an average week but I will do my best to explain the crazy happening in the Philippines. 

Alright so we start the week off with some good ol fashion tracking and some long hours of trying to place some of the Lords books. We really did not have much success with any of that, the real problem is that the people we are looking for are people who want the gospel. That has been the hardest thing to find. We stumbled into what could turn into some great investigators for us as long as they stop being so shy. That is the other hard thing about being a white person most of the people that we teach they don't want to look at me and they get way shy and don't want to talk. 

But we move on and we find more people all the time. The next transfers are on June 4th so I am going to be  the Provence of Bugasong for quite a while. I really can't wait until I get to be in a new area, and yes its crazy to think that I have just spent 1/4  of my mission in one place and that place is not the best place haha. But I have had some great memories in this place and I will never forget all the people and how hard it was for me to understand the darn language. 

The best thing that happened to us this week is we all came to Sibalom for P day and we got down here real early. We left the house at about 5 am to start the hike and according to the members we had a real challenge in front of us. After we had hiked for about 1 hour we hit the 1000 stair mountain and what kinda sucked is that the stairs were just small and the mountain was so freaking large. It took so long but when we finally got to the top we saw the massive Jesus and also a bunch of crosses so that was cool to get some pics of those. 

Just yeah I love all of you and I cant wait to Skype on the May 10th. So I will be be Skyping on Monday morning so I can get you guys Sunday night and that will be the plan I am super pumped to see you all and I love you all. 

Love Elder Swanton

Monday, April 20, 2015

Back to basics

Update from Jacob:

Dear Family,

Well this week has for real been better in all aspects of the work and the comp and the investigators. It has been a real challenge for us to find people to actually progress and want to come to church and read the book of Mormon. This past week we went back to the beginning and went through the area book and tried to find and locate new or old people that we felt would progress. After multiple fasts this week we have finally found some new people that I feel will be able to progress. Its crazy to think that I only have 1 month left in Bugasong. It feels like I have been hear for ever and that is because I have almost my whole mission life so far. 

Anyways this morning we had a baptism of one of our long time Investigators, her name is Mutya and she is one stubborn little 10 year old. It has taken over 2 years to baptize her and me and Elder Bontoyan were finally able to get the job done. She has an understanding of the gospel like no other child that I have ever met. Her Uncle baptized her. He is getting ready to go on a mission so I thought it be only fitting that he should baptize her. He was super nervous but memorized the words and he did a great job this morning and it felt good to come off of a 6 week drought of baptisms. 

We also got the opportunity to head down to Iloilo this week for the half way point of my training and that is a crazy thought because it seems like yesterday that I was down there picking this kid up. We got to work in Iloilo that night and man I have hope mom and dad I can actually speak the language, just not Kinary-a or the language that they speak here in Antique. It was so fun to be able to understand the people and to be able to help and teach the most of the lesson. After that I had some McDonald's for the first time in almost 7 months and man it was so good. We also had some great training from the APs and also from President. They were mostly about how not to get sick and how to use your time as a missionary to the best of your ability. I really learned alot and when we got home me and Elder Bontoyan both said that we would be more obedient. 

But yeah I miss you guys a lot and I will send some stuff home soon for all the birthdays coming up. I was also wondering if you guys got my letter that I sent to you guys a week or two ago. Yep I love you all and hope that this week will be a good one. Just always keep me in your prayers and I will do the same. Tell the kids that I love them and the rest of the family. 
Love Elder Swanton

Mutya's baptism by her Uncle.

Mutya with Elder Bontoyan and myself.

Snack time

Monday, April 13, 2015

Conference reboot

Update from Jacob....

Dear family,
This past week has been really, really slow/ Other than we finally got to watch conference, nothing really happened in the area at all. The work here has really started to slow down. All of the investigators that we have are not progressing and they really show no signs of progression. Also tell Micheal and Adee that I am proud of both of them for doing their best at the sports and tell Ethan to get out there and kill it. It looks like you are all having a good time and I hope that this last week was a good one.I will try to explain some of the good that has been going on.

Well, I will just jump to the best part of the week. That of course is conference. We had the opportunity to go down to San Jose and watch it in the air-conditioned chapel and man that was a miracle and a blessing. I have never listened to a whole general conference in my entire life and man it was so cool. I really love Elder Holland's talk and there were so many other great talks. The bad part was that I lost my notebook so I have no notes on the whole conference and I can't remember my favorite talks. The main message that definitely stood out to me this conference is the importance of the family and how on all fronts the family is being attacked. I also loved how the priesthood was mentioned so much and how they say that it is our duty as members of the priesthood to endure and to protect our family. Since I got over here my view of how the priesthood works and how worthy we always need to be to use it has changed drastically. The rules of the priesthood are very different and they sometimes can really get you frustrated. After we finished the Priesthood session of conference, I wanted to go home to Bugasong and enlighten a lot of people for not using their priesthood and making a mock of such a sacred power.
I really regret not paying the most attention to conference when I was little and even in the older years of my youth. There is so much to be learned and so much to be applied to our lives if we just take a couple days and really listen to the words of the prophets and speakers. This week we also had a great couple of dinner appointments with some of the Relief Society members of the branch. They all have had some concerns about the Branch these past few weeks. Our Branch President has been nowhere to be found. We think that he might have quit and run off but that is just some mad gossip, haaha. In other news, the training is really starting to take a toll on me. I really in all ways feel like a father. I really just need him to grow up and take control. It's funny because when it comes to missionary work he is fine but the second we get home or stop doing work he just becomes as a small child. I don't know how much more I can take, haha.
All in all just a good week. I really enjoyed the break we had with conference and can't wait to get back to work. In other news, we are down in Iloilo City today. That is why I did not think that I would be able to email. We have trainers and trainees. Can you believe that it is already half way over of training and then I will be out of Bugasong and on to the rest of my mission. I really can't believe how fast time is flying by. Just know that I love you all and can't wait to see you on mother's day.
Love Elder Swanton
the Pics are of the dinner appointment with Sister Sally and also me just being awesome.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter in Bugasong- no chocolate bunnies

Update from Jacob.....

My Dearest Family,

Well to start, this week has been a week of crazy and just the coolest things happening to us. I really have yet again seen how the Lord can humble me and teach me. Elder Swanton, it's time to take this up another notch and it's time you start to prepare. These last few days I have noticed that I am not as good at the language as my mind thinks that I am. Many a times, I have found myself in a situation where I should be able to speak and understand and yet I am not able to. Then, I think back and realize that I forgot to language study that day or I did not read for the whole time. In other words, I need to work on obedience. This is the subtle push from the Lord saying it's time to buckle down and get to work; and so that is the goal for the rest of this mission is to get to work and start to take this as serious as I can. 

Alright, now to describe the week. So we were down here in San Jose for three days last week because the Support did not come the day that we thought it would, so the zone was out of money and we could not get home until we all went and withdrew at the ATM. When we finally got home, it was Wednesday and we went straight to work to get our hours up and lessons done for the week. Me and my companion have really worked on handing out Book of Mormons and really just finding new people to teach. 
Also, we had to clean out our room cause we either have a spider infestation or cockroaches cause my legs are covered in these bad bites. So that is the thing that we are trying to figure out is what the heck they are from. I read that you want to know how Chester is doing. Well, he ate our door so we don't let him in anymore. 
Now, down to business. We made our return visit to Yapo, the village in the hills. This time we brought Elder Larson and his companion along. This time was filled with memories. On the way up, my companion and I came across this very drunk family and they invite us in to drink and smoke. We of course told them no and then we started to explain the restoration to them. The next thing we knew they were climbing up the nearest coconut trees getting us some fresh buko and man it was so good! They also said that we could come back when they were not drunk so that is a good thing.  After we took some pictures, we continued the trip to Yapo. After the 3-hour hike was over, the four of us finally arrived and guess what the first thing that we all needed was water! Then we all spit up to cover more ground and see what we could get while we were there. Me and my companion found 1 family and I really have good feelings about them. Even though the church is so far away, I feel like they might actually be able to make it. Elder Larson and Francisco also found some good prospective investigators. Also, I got some Amazing pictures. I guess what me and my companion did was kinda a big deal cause the whole mission is freaking out; like holy cow! You guys hiked all that way and did not even know what to expect! My comp and I are just like yeah, ha ha. It has been super fun and the work even though slow is moving along. I think my end goal for when I get out of this area is that they have some good priesthood holders that care about the church and their families. 

We really did not celebrate Easter over here because it's just a holiday for getting drunk, so I just read the new Liahona and fasted for 12 hours to celebrate. I really have been thinking about the sacrifice of the Savoir these past few days and it's funny because I feel like sometimes that my mission is hard and is pushing me to my limits. Then I think the things that Jesus went through and how He payed for all the world's sins and did it willingly. How can I be so selfish to not give my all for 2 years. I love the analogy that a mission is paying tithing on life so far. You would not go back and take the tithing money that you have already paid would you? No no one would do that, so how can missionaries waste any of this precious time. I can do anything with the help of Heavenly Father!  I really can't wait for General Conference this weekend and I really hope that I can get everything out of it that the Lord wants me to. 

For now, I am just glad that I have this opportunity to serve and be over here in God's Army. I love you all and can't wait for Mother's Day to see you. 
Love, Elder Swanton

I also forgot to mention that Elder Larson and I have started a little music group called the Missionary Mixtapes. We had the opportunity to perform at two different zone trainings now. The only problem is that I can't send home the videos because they are way too big, but don't worry I will show you them someday.
Happy Easter!!!
Will re-visit them when they dry out a bit.

Trail to Yapo


In route to Yapo

"Missionary Mixtapes"