I’m a REAL Missionary

August 24, 2015

Hello from Scotland! Sorry there was no email last Wednesday, I was leaving the MTC! Last Thursday the 13th, we went to Manchester to street contact people for a couple of hours and it was a great experience. We placed 4 Book of Mormon’s and handed out a lot of pass along cards. There were quite a bit of people that were interested, and a quite a bit that weren’t. I’m really glad I got to go. My district leader in the MTC, Elder Swalberg from Texas, made a Restoration rap. It is sooooo good. I beatboxed to it in the lunch room and President Preston heard it and loved it. We recorded it later that night for him and he put it on his Facebook page! it got 74 views in less than a day! Hahaha go and find it, it is amazing. The rest of my time at the MTC was great. More teaching and study. I got so close to so many Elders.

Last Wednesday the 19th, we woke up at 4:45 to travel 5 hours to Edinburgh to meet our trainers. Before we were assigned into companionships, we went to Pratt’s Hill which overlooks Scotland. A breathtaking view. It is where Orson Pratt made a covenant with God to find 200 souls to join the church. Look up the full story, it is great. We sang High on the Mountain Top while we were up there and it was SO cool. I got to request my BRP card to be sent to Edinburgh so I am not getting deported! WHOOHOO! We went to the chapel next to the mission home to receive our companions after the hike. I remember being so nervous and praying so hard for a good trainer. My first companion is Elder Stevens! He is 22 and has been on his mission for 4 and a half months. He loves boxing and rugby. He went to BYU Idaho for 2 and a half years. I have learned so much from him in the past 5 days and I love him so much. We are in an area called Galashiels. It is by the border of Scotland and England. It is one of the largest area’s in the mission and we got the car taken away this transfer so we have to take the bus everywhere. A lot of time is travel so it can be annoying at times.There hasn’t been a baptism here in 6 years, BUT there might be one soon. On Friday we were going to have a discussion with Emma who is our golden investigator, but it fell through. We were super bummed so we decided to go see if Daniel was home. Daniel is a former investigator that is 20 and he finds it hard to keep commitments. We watched the Restoration video with him and talked about the Holy Ghost. He said he felt it and that he has felt it before when he prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true. I challenged him to be baptized on September 19th and he said YES. Elder Stevens hasn’t had an investigator with a baptism date in his 4 months here in Galashiels. We are so hopeful and excited for him. He didn’t come to church on Sunday so we are going to teach him about the importance of church later today. Keep Daniel and Emma in you prayers!
The branch is really small here in Gala. Only about 12 members that came to church on Sunday and they are all over 50 years old except a couple who are in their 30’s. There is one guy who is 95! He is really energetic and doesn’t even walk with a cane! Everyone is so nice to us in the branch and the branch president, President Kelly, is a saint. We read the Book of Mormon to a lady named Sister White. She is blind and is the sweetest lady I’ve ever met. She asked me to give her a blessing! I’ve never given a blessing so I was really nervous, but it went great.
On Sunday I saw a blonde German Shepard! Really pretty. We went to go see Jose in the evening. We just got his information last week. He was baptized 18 years ago in Portugal. We were talking about resurrection and then he started going off about reincarnation, God doesn’t want to hear our prayers, God doesn’t have a body, there isn’t enough room on the Earth for everyone to be resurrected and a LOT more crazy things. I challenged him to pray about it and then we left. Hahaha it was a great experience. And then on the way home a drunk guy stopped us and hugged us and told us he felt the Spirit and a lot of other things I can’t say as a missionary. I was laughing so hard.
Russell Dixon is my cousin and he produces¬†all the EFY songs and sings a really popular church song called “Glorious”. EVERYONE is obsessed with that song. I got to brag about it in the MTC so that was fun. We got a ride to our area from another set of missionaries and Elder Crowe was one of them. He started to play Glorious and I told him that my cousin sings it. He said “RUSS DIXON IS YOUR COUSIN!? He’s my manager!” It turns out that Elder Crowe is actually Patch Crowe, lead singer in Beyond 5. They are a SUPER popular LDS boyband that sings on EFY CD’s and a whole bunch of things. So cool.
MARK ANTHONY GOT BAPTIZED. I am so happy for him. I didn’t even know that he was taking the discussions. Congratulations! And I challenged Kenneth Buen to take a discussion when I left and he did and is committed to baptism as well! Eric got a job at the MTC! Congratulations to you too! I can’t believe all of the blessings I am receiving and my friends and family are receiving from me being on a mission.
Happy Birthday to Amanda and my mother! They are the two biggest female role models in my life. I am so grateful for their example that they have set for me. I love you both so much. I wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t for you two.
I am loving serving the wonderful people of Scotland. I can feel myself grow closer to my Father in Heaven every day. I love the work. I can’t wait to see what can happen when I allow myself to be a tool in the Lord’s hands. I was really overwhelmed my first few days, but I’m falling into the swing of things. Thank you for all the emails and letters! I will try to write you a short response if you email me, but if you write me a letter, I can have more time ūüôā I love you all!
Elder Swenson
Scottish word of the week: ken= no or know
ex. I don’t ken= I don’t know
I cannie do that= I can’t do that
Departing and arriving missionaries to the mission at Pratt’s Hill.
Pratt's Hill

1st week in the MTC

August 20, 2015

Hello everyone! Elder Swenson here! Well my first¬†week was pretty great at the MTC here in England! The flights were extremely long, but after my layover in Chicago, I had a layover in Newark. I met up with 27 Elders and 3 Sisters there so that was nice. It was raining when we arrived so I better get used to that. The England MTC is very small. We have 77 missionaries here going to Scotland/Ireland, Burmingham England, Alpine Germany, and Greece Athens. The missionaries come from all over the world! Holland, Denmark, New Zeland, Paris, Scotland, Norway,Germany,¬†and England! The Preston temple is right next to the MTC and I get to go do a session in a couple hours! It is very pretty. When we got our name tags the first day, I got so excited. I can’t wait to get out in the field and serve! I have 2 companions! We are the only companionship of elders with 3 people. My companions are Elder Hansen and Elder Smith. Hansen is from Utah and I met him on Instagram before I got out here so it was really cool. Elder Smith is from Colorado. It is hard to teach when 3 minds are trying to say what the spirit tells them to and we are on a time limit. We teach “investigators” ¬†almost everyday. They are our teachers playing people that they taught on their missions. Some are a lot harder than others so I am learning a lot. We study so much here and it is hard to stay focused for 3 hours at a time in a small room with all your friends. Our district is super close. It is hard to stay awake sometimes because trying to stay spiritual for 16 hours a day is exhausting, It’s like going to seminary ALL DAY. Hahaha, I love it though. I’m learning how to study, how to be a better teacher, how to be confident, how to handle stress, how to speak “English”¬†instead of “American”, how to serve, how to be humble, how to follow rules, and so much more.

There is a problem with my visa because it is only good for 30 days. I have to go get a BRP card so I can stay in the country. I need a letter that they sent me to know where to pick it up within 10 days of being in the country. I never got that letter. So it could be in Preston, which is 30 minutes away, or it could be in Edinburgh, which is 3 and a half hours away. I am going to Preston tomorrow with the other elders to see if it is there. If not, there is a slight chance I could get deported. (Mom here, the government didn’t send the letter – it is a new thing – he has 30 days and the church travel office is on top of things so it should all be good.) So keep me in your prayers! It is most likely in Preston so I wouldn’t worry too much. If it’s not, I’ll see you all soon! Hahaha anyway, on Sunday we watched a devotional from the MTC in Provo from last Tuesday and guess who I saw right in the middle of the screen? Elder Jensen! It was really nice to see a familiar face. President Nelson spoke and I really felt the Spirit. He said “Perfect obedience brings miracles.” I’ve made a lot of friends here. Elder Trease, Elder Mordue, Elder Hoopes, Elder Wall, Elder Rener,¬†Elder Micklesen, and so many others. Elder Rener is German and he heard I could beatbox so he made me beatbox for our MTC president, President Preston. He said that I should do it to a hymn so we sang “Praise to the Man” in the lunch room and I beat boxed to it. It was hilarious. Today we went to a store called ASDA which is basically a Walmart. I get to do a temple session in a couple hours so I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get out in the field. My favorite quote from this week is “Heavenly Father is the one who is hastening the work. It is our job as missionaries to keep the pace.” I know that I was called to Scotland and Ireland for a specific reason and that is to serve the Lord and find people that no one else could find. I love this gospel and I am proud to call myself a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Elder Swenson
.IMG_5652Elder Hansen and Elder Swenson
IMG_5669 IMG_5654 IMG_5656Elder Hansen, Elder Swenson, Elder Trease