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

Monday, October 3, 2016

Staying focused....

Dear Family,

What a week we had here in the wonderfully hot and always rainy mission of Iloilo. I can say this week it has rained more than I have seen in my whole mission. It does not feel like a whole week has passed since the last time I emailed home but I guess it has been. Elder Tumbokon every Sunday says well Elder Swanton I guess this means one more week until we can't be comps anymore. It makes me sad that I won't get to finish his training or be able to see all the new missionary's that come into the mission. But all good things must come to an end. 

Tuesday we finally got over the last of the sickness and after taking a lot of meds and sleeping as much as we could we all finally feel back to full strength. One thing I have been able to do with all this free time is start the Book of Mormon again. It is so crazy that even after reading it everyday for two years. I am still able to learn so much every day just be studying and praying for specific things that I need in my life. 


Wednesday we got out and started teaching the first lesson to some of our new investigators. Sister Richelle is a former investigator but the last time the elders taught her she got shy and started to hide but she just came back to church this last week and when we went and taught the Restoration the spirit was so strong and she told us that this is the last time she will be taught because this time she will be getting baptized. We are hoping she will accept the date of the 22nd of October. That will be my last Saturday in the mission and we should be having a baptism. 

Thursday and Friday we were battling the rain and I hate to say it but these two days the rain won. No matter what we did by about 3 pm both days the three of us were soaked to the bone with water. I can say that back home I have been wet before but here its a different kind of rain. The water almost goes all the way to your bones and then you start the shaking and coughing to get warm. We had to head home and get dry, and when we got home we had to battle knee deep water just to get into our house. We spent that night praying that the water would not come into our house and then we would have a bigger problem on our hands. When we woke up the next morning all of our neighbors houses had flooded but our house stayed dry. 

Sunday we had a great turn out for church. It is always great to see how all your hard work during the week will show up on Sunday. After church we taught our two really progressing investigators they both have dates for the 15th of October. Brother Juan Carlos and Sister Juneah are cousins and they are both doing everything they can to become ready for their baptisms. I can say the Lord has blessed me with an opportunity to help so many people come unto the waters of baptism. 

Haha you can tell Adee I miss the snow so much that when it snows I will go out and make a snow angel face down. The only snow we get over here is called Halo-Halo and that is a desert that we eat all the time. I miss her to and don't worry the airport is just a few weeks away. 

I am way happy with our week and can't wait for the weeks to come. I love you all and hope you have a great week. 

Love Elder Swanton

Monday, September 26, 2016

Never give up hope

Dear Family,

Well another week down and not to many left on the old countdown list. I really don't know were the time is going anymore it feels like just yesterday I was emailing home my week and now here we are again. 

Tuesday we had some crazy rain that really slows down the work but even with the rain we were able to get out and find some new people to teach. We have been working with the members a lot latley so that when we meet new people they have a fellow shipper right off the bat. Our favorite member is Brother Elmer he is the one in pics with the glasses on. His testimony is so strong and he always just wants to get after it and find new people. Honestly when I work with brother Elmer he gives me the extra spark everyday to get out and do everything I can to help people come unto Christ. 


Wednesday was a pretty big day, Elder Larson and I attended our last Zone Training and it was a pretty good one to end it off. It was funny because me and Larson are at least 10 to 15 months older in the mission than almost all the elders and sisters in our zone. I guess it just means that its time to head back to the wind whipped valley of Cache that I call home. Right after the training my Comps both started to feel really sick so we headed home and they slept it off. I had a feeling that the whole house would end up getting sick but we tried our best to stay clean. 

Thursday, Friday,and Saturday we are all sick as dogs. I really don't know what the heck is happening these days. All my mind wants to do is work as hard as I can to finish my mission in the right way. But my body is really taking some sick days these past two weeks. 


Sunday we had a couple miracles happen as we dragged our sick bodies to church. About half way through sacrament a sister walked in that turned out to be a former investigator that we had dropped a month or two ago. She was always hiding but she decided to come to church with her kids. Bishop called us into his office and there she was in tears and he said to us that we need to start teaching her. I just said yes and we scheduled a teaching time and I told her that this is the right thing for her to do at this time. The spirit in the room was so strong and I have a great feeling about the teaching appointment. 

Love you all and hope you have a great week, 
Elder Swanton

Friday, September 23, 2016

The work is accelerating


Well this week was not what I thought was going to happen my last transfer in the mission. I will try my best to describe the trails and the success that we were able to experience this week and how in the end we were able to make the best and have a great week.

Monday I got the call from the AP's that for the third time in a mission I would be training a new missionary. I don't know to many Elders that have had the chance to train 3 times so I am pumped to say the least. That night is the first night of the worst LBM I have had in my whole mission and it was just the first of many more to come. 

Tuesday we headed out and did some crazy finding to see how many less actives we could locate and then report back to bishop. It was so much fun to get back out on the streets and get after it. If there is one thing this mission has taught me its that you don't find people when you sit on your butt all day. Which after eating some street food was exactly what I did for the rest of the night. I think that I might be having some problems with my Gaul bladder because I cannot seem to digest grease in the least bit. So my diet has changed and it seems to be working cause I am losing tons of weight.


Thursday Elder Billings and I headed over to the office to pick up our new Comp. The new batch that came into the mission has to be the biggest in the whole mission history. They were 29 total not including the new couples that came in. When I walked into the chapel it was like day one for the third time haha. I had so much fun talking to all the new elders and seeing were they are from and who their MTC teachers were. When they called out the names Elder Billings and I gave out a big ChEEEEEEE WHOOOOOO and ran and gave our new comp a huge. He was a little Pinoy so he may have been a little scared but he was smiling the whole time. His name is Elder Tumbokon and he is from Quezon City North. He reminds me a lot of my first Trainee Elder Bontoyan, they just have a lot of the same mannerisms. As soon as we got home we hit the planning session and then headed out to meet some of the members in our area. I then spent almost all of the night in the bathroom with some great LBM. 

Saturday we woke up and did our study's and headed out to work. We headed back to one of my oyms earlier in the week and he was able to sow my shoes back together. I don't know if yall have noticed but I have only had those one black pair of Hush Puppies my whole mission and they are still doing great and have tons of tread left. My plan is to give them to Elder Crichton when I head home and he can finish his mission in them and then give them away to another elder. Anyways about 2 pm we went to the church to prepare for the baptisms we were going to be having later at around 3. Brother Rolly and Brother Arsenio were ready and willing so I was glad to help them on their way to salvation. All the elders in the mission call it Dunking Um so I did and they both almost made it to the bottom of the font. When Brother Rolly came up he was laughing and Brother Arsenio was just really happy to be baptized. 

Sunday Elder Billings and I both gave talks about service and missionary work. I can say it will be nice to give talks in English when I get home. But they both went great and after church we headed out and taught our progressing investigators. Brother Juan Carlos and Sister Juneah they are cousins and they both have a date for October 1st. Also my new diet means that I cannot eat anything that has grease or been cooked in a ton of grease. I will be eating veggies until I get home haha. But I am so excited for the weeks to come and I cant believe that another week has gone by. I guess this means that there is only 5 weeks left. 

I love you all, 
Elder Swanton

Friday, September 16, 2016

Last transfer

Dear Family,

Well this week has been one for the books to say the least. I have also been battling stomach problems all week and now they have finally gone away so I am pumped for the weeks to come. I am also amazed that this is my last transfer in the mission to think that after all this time it has come down to six short weeks before I come home. 

The whole week me and my comp have been getting ready for the baptisms in the upcoming months. I will have all of you know that I am not counting the days haha we don't even have a calendar on the wall cause I don't want to think about it all the time. I can say that the best two years may also be the fastest two years as well. 


I will just fill you in on the crazy news we just got last night. We were gathered around the kitchen table waiting for transfer txt from the AP's. When we got a call from Elder Tracy and he told me that not only were me and Elder Billings going to be comps for my last transfer but we would also be training a new missionary. I am so excited for the next 6 weeks and all the crazy times to come. We are hoping that we get to train an American elder so that we can be the 3 Joes were ever we go, but we will have to see what the cards have in store. 

One thing for sure is that it"s time to put it into overdrive, Elder Billings and I had a planning session last night and we are going to be the most obedient elders in the whole mission to see what miracles we can bring to our area. 

I love you all and know that this is the one true work. I know my place is right here in the field and I will work until we have harvested as many as the Lord allows in this Area. 

Love Elder Swanton

Monday, September 5, 2016

Teaching and helping

Dear Family,

The weeks really seem to by flying by and that is not really what I want to happen but I guess that is the aftermath of getting lost in the work. Mom I will get right on the office and have them send the right travel thing to y'all. Its good to hear that all of you are doing well and that life back home is fine. I am getting all fired up to get home and get me some of that cool autumn air. 

The breakdown of the week is pretty simple this time. We spent almost the whole week trying to find a house in our new area and at the very end we did it and then came the paper work and contract signing. After all the craziness we got moved in on Saturday. And right after we set our bags on the new floor we headed out the door so we could make it to our baptism. Sister Madelene was baptized by her dad who has been all but inactive for the last 20 years but because the spirit told him to come back about 6 weeks ago he prepared and was able to baptize his daughter. It was such a great experience to see the love of a father for his daughter and how much trust his daughter has for him. 
We spent the rest of the night unpacking in our new house. I love it so much it has high ceiling just like out house back home and its built like a Mexican bungalow. I will send some pics home next week. 

The pics with all the kids is on Saturday afternoon, after we got done cleaning out the AP's new house I found a big bag of Pesos so we decided to give it to all kids in the park close to our house and they loved it to say the least. Just seeing their smiles was enough to make my whole month. I love what we do over here. 

Sunday we went to church and had a great fast Sunday. In my time here in City ward we have increased in our weekly attendance by almost 40 and the ward is getting more and more every week. After the services we headed out and found some less actives that have not been visited for a long time. We got lucky and met one of their sons who is now 23 and still not a member. Antonio Jr. was his name and he has some real potential to become a Priesthood holder.  We ended the night with a big dinner appointment with the sisters at a members. Its always a good time to get everyone together and have a good time and eat some namit food. 


A great week to say the least and it also helped me to learn how much I love teaching and helping people understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. Something I have also learned is sometimes we just don't have the answers. I think that is the hardest thing to say to someone " I'm sorry I just don't know" but I do know were you can find the answers and if you really want them Heavenly Father will give them to you. 

I love and miss you all, 

Elder Swanton

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Not counting days...

Dear Family,

First of Happy birthday old man, I hope you had a great day. I can only imagine how the cold weather must be getting to you right now. Hopefully next year for your birthday we can get out on the mountain bikes and ride some single track. I love you dad and can't wait to get home and spend some time with the family. 

Well we have almost gotten into the rhythm of missionary work in our area. Everyday when we go out to work we see so many people that the Lord has placed in our path. Its funny because at the beginning of my mission I never noticed how many chances we have to make someones day and life so much better. 


Tuesday we were able to go on splits with the Zone Leaders and it was a great time to get into another area and see how the rest of the zone is doing. As we were working I just reflected on how far I have come since I was a Zone Leader here in this very zone. I worked with Elder Madrid and we had a good time teaching some of their investigators the first lesson and then hitting some tracting in the middle of this huge rainstorm. To say that the whole day I was soaking wet would be somewhat of an understatement. We ended the night be heading back to our area for a huge birthday party for Nanay Palma. It was so much fun getting to know all of her non member family and being able to slowly share the gospel through our experiences as missionaries. 

Wednesday Elder Billings and I headed out early to scout out our new apartment. We met with the owner and went over contract details and what time we would be moving in to the new house. It went great and hopefully this week we will be able to move in and really get to the full schedule of missionary work. Later in the day we attended a conference with President Cruz. He taught the whole zone on how we need to keep our selves worthy of the calling and how a companionship can if obedient call upon the powers of heaven to get the work moving in their area. I also gave a small training on how to keep a clean house because me and my comp have now helped the mission clean out three houses infested with Dengue mosquitoes. It went great and I hope our zone pulls together so we can see the numbers rise as well as the work have more meaning. 

Thursday we got to our area and taught one of our new investigators. Sister Juneah is the daughter of a long time less active but after we taught the restoration to them they both committed to come to church and take the sacrament. We are hoping to see Sister Juneah baptized before the end of September. Then we had to head home to watch Elder Tracy who had been running a high fever all day. The other two Aps had to get to their appointments to me and Elder Billings headed home to watch the sick man. 

Friday and Saturday were so much fun because we got to teach a ton of people the Gospel and they all made commitments to come to church and follow the gospel. Brother Arthur is an investigator and he is so solid it is crazy. We teach him the lesson and he does not forget a single things and every time we teach him the spirit is so strong I have almost been brought to tears when he prays for guidance and help in his life. We also were able to visit so many less actives and I love getting to know people and hear their stories of life. It makes it that much easier for us as missionary to help them see that the more they live the Commandments of God the better their lives tend to be. 


Sunday is always the best day of the week. I guess in the begging of a mission P day would be the best day but now I love Sundays because you get to see how your hard work pays off. I gave a talk on the Gift of the holy ghost and how as members we need to be worthy for him to always be with us. It was sweet because we had 4 investigators that came to church and listened to the messages of the speakers and they all seemed to feel good about it. After church we had a lesson with Sister Madalene, she will be baptized this next coming week. I would have to say we have the best investigators in the mission they all understand so well and just never give up in their search for truth. 

To tell yall the truth I don't know how many days I have left and it will stay that way until the day I have to go home. I love my mission and don't want it to end. President Cruz was joking with me that the way our work is right now I should extend hahah then we both laughed and said 24 months will do just fine. I miss and love you all. 

Elder Swanton

Pushed to the limit

Dear Family,

Well this week has been a lot of house hunting, right now we are on a mission from President to find a new house in the middle of our area and it has really proved to be a challenge.

The first half of our week was spent on walking up and down every single ally or street in our whole entire area. President Cruz really wants us to live in the city no matter how hard it is to find a house. I would also like to add that because me and my comp are white it really adds a lot to the plate. Every house that we did find was either not livable or it was so overpriced that we had to walk away before even seeing them. 

To say that me and my comp Elder Billings have been pushed to our limits by people the last couple days would be an understatement. We just want to get to work but when I had an interview with President he said that our sacrifice will be acceptable before the Lord. So for the next couple days we got to work visiting less actives and just being missionaries again. 

One great thing every week is when we get to teach brother Robert. He is our deaf Recent Convert. I don't think I have ever felt this kind of joy while teaching in my whole mission. Just the sparks that light up in his eyes when we help him understand things can almost melt a heart. The last lesson of the week was about how in a year he can get a Temple recommend and get to the house of the Lord. My sign Language is really coming along me and Elder Billings take turns teaching and praying at the end of the lessons. 

The days almost seem to be blurring together. I took down all the calendars in the house because I don't like knowing how many days I have left or even what day it is right now. 

I love my mission and just hope these great feelings keep coming. 

Love your son,

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Small and mighty miracles

Dear Family,

The sum of the week is really starting to get to a point were I am having a hard time explaining all that happens to us in a single week. I will try my best to help all of you get a good idea of just the craziness we experience every week. 

Tuesday, Wednesday we have been house hunting because our current house is in the same area as the mission home and it takes us almost 45 minutes everyday with traffic to get to our area and get to work. Let me just testify on how hard it is to find decent housing in the middle of the biggest city on the island. We at last maybe found a good studio type apartment in the middle of the area. The only problem is the owner is taking their sweet time getting back to us on what they want to do contract wise.  The cool thing was this week we were able to meet and talk to so many awesome people because we just walked around for about 3 days looking at every house that was livable in the city. 


Thursday Elder Billings and I were able to get back to the work grind and we taught our Deaf and mute investigators. I can say this has been my favorite time in my whole mission. Every time we teach I am able to see the Lord working small and mighty miracle in the hearts and minds of people who need this gospel desperately. Two of our investigators brought new people to listen in on the Restoration Lesson this week. I love the work me and Elder Billings are doing right now. Its also way sick that we are the best companionship in the mission. I swear if I was crazy I would extend my mission just to keep working this hard with Elder Billings. 


Saturday we headed out to work early to help the youth of the Ward learn how to Hawaiian Dance. I can't say I am the best at dancing, but me and Billings did our best to help them embrace the culture of the Hawaiian islands. We then taught Sister Maydalne who has a baptismal date for the 3rd of September. She is progressing so well and has a great understanding of the gospel and how is can help her become closer to the spirit. I love our lessons because by the end she is teaching us what she has learned and she has also has invited her little brother to come and start taking the lessons as well. 

Sunday is what you call a crazy day we woke up early and barley made it to church with the crazy tragic that was all over the city and right as we got to the church they started. We had a great service and had a good turnout of investigators and less actives come to church. Right after church we had to rush to Molo Ward because I was able to baptize one of the kids who was my little man when I was in Molo. When I was there all that time ago I made him a promise that I would come back and baptize him and almost a year later the Lord put me in a position to fulfill my promise. It also happens to be his birthday so we had the best time ever. I will never forget the smile as I walked into the chapel and saw him in white running at me haha. Its just one of those things that does not go away. I was also able to see all of my old members and catch up on how they are doing and get some great food. 

Then of course today was just a great day. We woke up early and help the City Sisters move into their new apartment and they were so happy to finally get moved into their area. They thought it would be funny to ambush me with water balloons and eggs for my birthday but I was fast and dogged almost all of them hahah I'm just kidding I got soaked with water and they have some strong arms for sure. Then we all headed to SM Mall for some food. It was sweet to Celebrate Elder Tracys, Elder Frandsens and my birthdays all in the same day. I miss and love you all, I almost don't believe that in just 10 short weeks I am done with crazy experience and the best two years of my life. 

Elder Swanton

Monday, August 1, 2016

Returning to Iloilo City

Dear Family,

This has been a crazy week to say the least. Right now I am at the office emailing because I was just transferred back down to Iloilo City. To say I am super excited is an understatement my new comp is Elder Billings and he is from Syracuse Utah. We may be the best companionship in the mission and our area is City Ward. We have only been together for about 3 hours and we are loving every minute of it. 


I don't really have enough time for a play by play of the week but we had a great week visiting all the people in the ward and we were able to visit some less actives and some inactives. Some sweet news is that Brother Sonny came back to church with his whole family. He said he is sad I was leaving but he will take is slow and will keep coming to church and learning about the Church. 


I am so grateful for my time in Numancia and all the people I was able to meet and all the eternal friends I have made while serving these people. The next 3 months will be the best of my mission and I am going to leave it all out on the field. I hope the pictures explain how much fun this last week was. 

Love your son, 
Elder Swanton