Monday, April 25, 2011

Chad is Senior Companion AND District Leader!

Hola Padres!                                                       25 Apr 2011
        Here we go again with another week down!  I forgot my outline of my email and the things I wanted to say this week, so sorry if this email is extremely sporadic and doesn’t make any sense, but I will try my best. Well this week was definitely a trial of my faith, because it was Elder Bravo's last week in the mission. But somehow we ended up still maintaining a good week and were successful. Well we still ended up with a bunch of lessons and a bunch of stuff that happened. Well this email will mostly be about things that happened to me that don’t really pertain to the Gospel.  
   The first thing is that according to tradition here, Elder Bravo and I, both ate a TORTA CUBANA! The picture can explain a lot of why I am really proud of this accomplishment. (See Picture of Sandwich!) It really took a lot of mental focus to eat the whole thing. It is about a foot long and has 3 different kind of meats (pork, chicken, carne asada), avocado, onions, tomatoes, and beans! Well I officially joined the club of only 5 Elders who have ever completed one of these. There have been many who have tried, but only 5 have ever succeeded.
Another weird thing this week was that I saw Rob Broadhead during one of my lunch hours. We were eating and I look over and see this guy and he looked familiar. I did a double take and I was like "why do I recognize this guy", and then it all clicked and we got up and shook hands and talked for a little bit. I knew that Kent and Sharon (parents) said he was down here, but I never thought I would actually see him! It was a strange coincidence. (The Davis and Broadhead Families have known each other from Walla Walla since Rob and Chad were little tykes!)
Sunday was once again a really busy day for us, we were doing something non-stop. We had regular meetings, church and that is where it got interesting. We had some unexpected visitors there at church, Elder Bravo's family. It was really weird for me to see and meet his family.  I can’t imagine how weird it was for him to see his family. During Sacrament Meeting, we had the confirmation of Selene and then we had to jet early to the mission home for Bravo's last interview. So if that isn’t a full day already, we came home and taught some lessons before we went to our BAPTISM!! Yes, we had another baptism. His name is Fredy Vazquez. The cool thing is that Elder Bravo and I were able to be there on his first lesson that he ever had and then also to see him get baptized. That doesn’t happen too often here in the mission, but we really did all we could and we were blessed.
As you know, this transfer is now over and it was a really incredible transfer. We saw tons of blessings and help from the Lord. We may not have been the best we could have been at all moments, but we did help others come closer to Christ and that is what it is all about. I don’t know if I will ever be able to have another transfer like this, but I will sure try! It is now time to talk about this transfer! The verdict is that I am going to stay in the area and my new companion with be Elder Lopez. He is from Mexico, so my streak of having foreign or native companions continues. (Chad's last three companions have all been native Spanish speaking.) The new thing is that I am going to be District Leader. So that will be something new to try and handle on top of all the other duties of a missionary, senior companion and also District Leader.  Wow! Also, I am no longer in a walking or biking area as I was before. We will be getting a car, so don’t worry Mom about a bike or anything like that. (It is 'The Mom's' job to worry, and I do a pretty good job at it!)
Here are some responses to questions and things.... I am glad that you had a good Easter with Christina and I am sure that Dad enjoyed the food. I never bought an electric razor, and I am just going to stick to a manual one because my face has adjusted enough to it. I am also doing good on money, I did have to buy a new backpack a few weeks ago, but I try not to really spend a ton of money if I don’t have to. But I am planning on buying a new pair of pants or two, just because I don’t want to wear out my suit pants and because that is all I will be wearing for 6 out of 7 days during the week for the next 5 months. (We kept asking him if he was doing okay with money -- we don't have a lot yet want to make sure all his needs are met!)
(I asked Chad how many emails or mail he typically receives each week.)  Well the amount of emails depends a lot on the day and all that, but on an average I will get about 7 emails outside of the mission things that they send. These emails are from other missionaries, friends, and of course family. Well I hope all is well back in the Tri-Cities. Take care and do know that I love you and pray for you often!!!!
Live it, Love it, Preach it!           De Tu Hijo Amado,   ELDER D!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

News from downtown St. George

Hola Padres!              April 18, 2011

Well it is that time of the week again! Yes, the one day that I get to do a few things for myself and a few things for others as well. Well this was INCREDIBLE!!!! It was honestly the most rewarding and successful week of my mission. It was just packed all day everyday. We didn’t have one moment to spare in any direction. I think we have definitely rekindled our fire from the first two weeks here, or we have started up a new one. We have just been going constantly. We have really been talking to everyone that we could. It doesn’t matter who it is or who opens the door, we talk to them and then teach them about the Restored Gospel.
It is just one of those things that comes with time I guess. When I first got out here to the mission, I was a bit timid to talk to people, one because it was in Spanish, and two because it was about the Church. But all the shyness is completely gone. I can talk to any random person on the street and somehow bring in the Gospel. That is a real blessing to see here in St. George.
Throughout all this craziness and the changing weather, I got a little sick. I had a cold and a fever for a while. It made it hard to sleep some nights, but I have gotten a little better. I had Elder Bravo give me a blessing on Friday night, so I will be okay Mom, don’t worry. The whole week was kind of a blur until Saturday, which is when things here got real interesting. (We will send him a care package with Vitamin C and TLC.)
In the morning we saw an Auburn Tigers football bus on the streets of St. George, which was interesting enough. We never figured out why there was a football team or whatever kind of team here in St. George when Auburn is one of the top athletic colleges in the country.  A mystery!
We had a really good lesson with an investigator named Freddy. After our lesson, he surprised us by taking us to RED LOBSTER, where he works as a chef. It was so weird to be back in a real restaurant like that. We typically eat at fast food restaurants, but not usually at a nicer place like that. Mom, don’t be too jealous, I know it is your favorite, but just have Dad take you out there to eat next Friday! J  So after the Red Lobster lunch, we did a really good deed for the day. There is a Sister in our Branch that had not gotten paid for the work she had done for another Branch member.  Because of all this she couldn’t have the party for her birthday that she had planned for lack of money. So Elder Bravo and I went and bought some stuff to surprise her. It was really nothing after everything she had done for one of our investigators. So we showed up with carne asada and a bunch of drinks and things. Needless to say, she was speechless. So if the day doesn’t seem crazy enough with all those things, we had a baptism to end the night!
The baptism was of Rosalio Memije. He has a crazy story. When the missionaries first knocked on his door, he didn’t want to have anything to do with them or the Church. So his wife took the lessons and was baptized in December. At her baptism, he said that he felt something and he wanted to learn more about the Church. He liked everything that was taught, but would never commit to baptism. Elder Bravo and I worked super hard to make it happen, and one day his wife just asked him why he wouldn’t get baptized. He said he really didn’t know so we asked him and he accepted! He is one of the funniest guys that we taught too. The baptism was done by Elder Bravo. Then he asked me to do the confirmation!!! That is absolutely nuts, because I have never done a confirmation in English, let alone Spanish! I somehow managed to stumble through it and it seemed to work out.
Our Sunday was just as packed as our Saturday. We had all our regular meetings and Church, and then we had another baptism!! This baptism was of Selene Rosales. She has a crazy story as well. I have no idea how she could go through everything she has had to deal with and still be able to have a positive outlook on life. She is really dedicated to the Church that is for sure. She works on Saturday nights until 6 in the morning sometimes, and then goes home and sleeps for two hours and then wakes up and comes to Church. I know that not even some members would do that, let alone an investigator. The Sunday night ended with a bunch of different meetings provided by the Branch, and then there was an Investigator Fireside. This is where a bunch of recent converts share their stories and how they became members. It is pretty powerful to have the investigators hear all of that. One of the speakers last night was Ana, she is lady that we baptized about 3 weeks ago. It was pretty crazy that she went for being so shy to now speaking in front of 35 people. The Gospel truly changes lives!
Comments on news from home: Brad (Romm) is the next missionary to go out from that ward. He turns 19 sometime this month and he should be getting his call soon if he is still on track and finished everything that he told me he still had left. He will be a good solid missionary. I am anxious to hear where he is going to go. Well my time is running short familia. Once again I am thankful for your support and I hope everything is going well as you are striving to do your best and follow the Gospel!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!   Con amor,   ELDER D

p.s.  picture of Elder Davis just hanging out with Brother Brigham. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 11, 2011 Letter

Hola Mis Benditos Padres!!!                 11 Apr 2011
        I am glad to be here with the news from another week here in St. George. It is always nice to be filled with the news from family, friends, and home. I am glad for everyone and all the support that I get via letters and emails. It is nice to know that there are people out there who are wondering about me and sending me emails and letters.
This week was good, but of course it had its typical ups and downs. I think we have finally hit the spot where we are on the upward climb once again. I think lately the big thing that was keeping me down was that I had set my expectations too high. After all 42 lessons a week is a ridiculous number no matter where you are serving. So I think that just keep my self esteem down when I would look at the old numbers compared to the new ones, but its not all about numbers, it's about the people! Well another reason that it has been up and down is because of the companion. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love Elder Bravo as a companion, it is just extremely tough because he is going home soon. I know he is a good missionary and he showed that the first two weeks we were together. Then he just started to slide downhill, so that has effected are work a little bit with all his emotions of going home. It is definitely the toughest thing to have a companion that is going home, not just for them and the work but for myself as well. Sometimes he just gets in these moods where he is talking about or thinking about home and it just puts those thoughts in my head, and they are super hard to get out and refocus. But enough being said about that.
This week we had our ZONE CONFERENCE. It was pretty amazing and I had the opportunity to learn a lot and understand some new concepts that I didn’t totally have mastered yet. While there, we had the opportunity to hear a talk from this girl that had only been a member for seven weeks and she gave a talk about her conversion story, and all the hardships that she had to go through to become a member, and how blessed she really is now that she is a member. We were all just shocked at how spiritual and how well she presented the information for only being a member for seven weeks. I guess when someone is ready for the Gospel, nothing stands in their way. Another crazy thing that I learned this week, is that I met an Elder that is probably the missionary here that lives the closet to home. He is from Basin City, so I was like that is extremely weird that I never knew there was a missionary from the same stake I am from in the same mission as me. It's even weird that I didn't know this before I left on the mission. He is also is related to a bunch of people out there, so it was good to be able to talk about home and the people that we knew and all that jazz.
I had a real big changing moment that night after Zone Conference. While Elder Bravo was conducting a baptismal interview, I was looking at all these picture that go through Christ's life in the Visitor Center. There I was just overcome with the Spirit and could really feel the love of the Savior there. There was also a picture of Christ waiting for Peter and the other Apostles in to come in from fishing after the Savior's resurrection. It made me feel and wonder how much time have I spent here "fishing" instead of out in the pasture "feeding His sheep". (John 21) It really opened my eyes and made me think about what I should be doing with my time here and how I can truly dedicate myself to the missionary service. That night also with my new refocused mind, I helped Elder Bravo refocus and we both decided that it is better to end a mission strong then to just be an "average" missionary. So from that day, we have really been striving to do all we can to do what is right. I learned the true power that the mind has. When we really focus on one thing and strive to accomplish it and have a positive attitude about things, that is really how things work out.
Well I got pulled over on my mission. I never thought that would happen on my mission, especially in this area since we walk everywhere, but it did indeed happen. I guess I didn’t personally get pulled over, but our fellowshipper did. So since we all spoke Spanish, we thought maybe he was racially profiling us. But needless to say our fellowshipper wasn’t too happy about it. (I don’t think he will becoming out with us for awhile.)
I did a few things this week that I have never done before on my mission. One I bore my testimony in the Branch here from the pulpit. If you think it is nervewracking to do it in English, try doing it in another language. TOUGH! Second is we taught a Priest's quorum on how to prepare for a mission. It was a pretty cool experience to go there and to be able to help others and help them see the importance and blessings that come from serving a mission. On Sunday we had a third companion for a while. We were getting ready to leave church and there was this RM that asked us where we were going, and we said to an appointment, so he just invited himself along, which we didn’t mind. So he stayed with us from 1 in the afternoon until 5 at night. But a little more background on this guy, he had just gotten home from his mission the night before and was released at about 9 the previous night, so his mind was still working in missionary mode, and was lost without a companion. So we took him along with us.
Well now to follow in the path of my forefathers (aka Grandpa Swoboda) the weather here this week was crazy! It wasn’t hot or anything like that, but we had a 50 degree drop. It went from 88 without a cloud in the sky to being 36 with wind and rain. Then it stayed in the 40s or 50s with wind and rainy almost the whole week. So everything here has been back and forth, I guess I just learn to adjust everyday.
Answers and comments on news from home: I was glad to hear the Burbank baseball team is going good. Nice to hear that Kev (Kevin Ireland) has a few offers here and there. And the feeder game is always and interesting thing, I remember that was the most tiring week of my life before my mission. I think a mission week and graduation week rank about the same. 
To answer the question about becoming a Senior Companion after my companion goes home in a few weeks, I don’t really know. I guess we will wait another two weeks and then we will really find out. Well I am glad to hear that everything went well for Hayley's wedding. (Chad's cousin)  It is also strange to hear that she wants to have kids right away, but I guess when people make up their mind, everything else just falls into place as well. I wish her the best with her husband and their future! My time is almost up here, I just want to say thanks again for everything! I love you a ton and don’t know what I would do without you in my life!!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!!!    Te amo de tu hijo en la vina del Senor!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy April!

Buenos Dias Padres!!!                 April 4, 2011 
        This week has been a little bit different then the last few. We slipped up on little things here and there, but are still continuing to do well and spread the Gospel. I think our fire from the first few weeks that we had together has kind of worn off a little bit, mainly because we are always just ridiculously tired at the end of the day. It is hard to continue to go and go and go for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This week was filled some pretty random moments. We had people flip us off, we had others try to hit us with their cars, and just a bunch of random people come up and talk to us. We did have some good uplifting moments don’t you worry about that. (Ever notice how much Chad LOVES the word RANDOM On Wednesday we had the opportunity to go to the Temple as a mission or most of the mission. It was good to get out and just enjoy the Temple and talk with other missionaries. It was all the missionaries from Cedar City down to St. George. We had about two thirds of the mission there. (See Picture of Elder Davis with Elder Bravo and the Temple.)
One of the big things down here lately is the weather. You may think ‘he has said that before’, but it is way different now! The temperature made the jump from being kind of cold and rainy, to being 88 on April 1, and that isn’t any joke!! Can you imagine 88 in April? It doesn’t even get to 88 until about mid June! We will see if I survive a whole summer down here in St. George.
Well there was another random guy that we were teaching and we were just talking about missionary work and all the things that we sacrifice to come serve the Lord and he just was completely dumbfounded on why we did it. This guy has been in gangs his whole life, lived in the ghetto and been involved in drugs and all that stuff. After we explained everything about missionary work, he just kind of looked at us and said, "Guys I respect you a lot. You got more balls then I do to go out for two years and give up your whole life."  I just thought that was pretty cool to see that some guy was testifying on how hard a mission is and that it truly is a sacrifice to come out and serve, and it may be a little more of a sacrifice for some then others.
We saw a lot of President this week. He was at the temple and he was also at our training meeting. He provided us with a lot of stuff to ponder and think about. He helped us see what we really needed to be doing in our areas and things like that. He is a man that lives by the Spirit. (The Mission President presides over 120 missionaries and has a BIG responsibility!)
I guess the main event from this whole week was General Conference. It was definitely a good one. But I mean I don’t know what of Conference isn’t good. I didn’t watch all of it in Spanish, but I did watch one session in Spanish. I could understand basically all of it, but it was definitely easier to listen to it in my native tongue. I am just grateful I even had the option to choose what language. One of my favorite talks would have to be President Uchtdorf. He has a really good principles and thoughts that he comes up with. There was a lot of emphasis on service and a few other things that I won’t have to worry about for a while. J 
Updates from home and answering our questions:  I did get the "Easter" package as you called it. I am pretty sure I am stocked up on candy for the next 3 months. I did appreciate the Instant Breakfast and the shaker. I also enjoyed seeing the plans for the new roads and things in the area. (We included the revision to the highway here in Burbank, which includes two roundabouts and an overpass.) It’s good to hear that Trevor got his visa. He is a very lucky guy, because most of the visas for Brazil have been taking forever. He will enjoy being at a different MTC. (See Elder Trevor Lott’s blog for details.)   I am glad that “E” came over for a visit and he brought his new little buddy. That’s funny that Chay didn’t want anything to do with his puppy. (See Picture of Ethan and his new puppy!) The one thing I did notice was that the baseball team changed their hat style this year, to the style that we wanted to have it last year, but I am not complaining. Well I don’t have all that much to say, I am wishing you the best and hoping that you are enjoying your time and counting your blessings. Have a great week! Be the example you know you should be! Love you mucho!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!!!!    Te amo!       ELDER D

Saturday, April 2, 2011

St. George Area, New Comp Elder Bravo

Hola Padres!                    28 March    2011
        I will begin my epistle by saying that I had another great week and have seen a bunch of little miracles come about. The work is still ridiculous! We have taught 42 lessons in back to back weeks. That isn’t for the two weeks combined, that is just for one week. We are definitely leading our zone, and are probably in contention for leading the mission, if not leading the mission. We have been working super super hard everyday and really taking our calling seriously. We talk to everyone and try to teach them something about the Restored Gospel. This was shown when one day we had 15 lessons. That is more then I have had in some weeks of my mission. That is one miracle in itself right there.
We had two miracle baptisms last week. We got a call from our Branch President and said there was a family that wanted to be baptized that week. So of course we didn’t say no to that. In one week they got married, baptized, one of them had surgery, and after all that they then were confirmed on Sunday night. Talk about a crazy week!
The baptismal service was amazing. The one scary thing was I did have to give a talk about the Holy Ghost, in SPANISH! I was so nervous. I had never given a talk in Spanish before, I had only just talked to people and given lessons or thoughts, but never a talk standing in front of a bunch of people. I was so so so nervous, but my nerves were calmed as I stood before everyone and just did work on the talk. I would have sent some pictures this week of the baptism and my companion and I, but somehow I lost my camera cord.  I will continue to look for it throughout the week and hopefully I will find it, or I will have to come up with some alternate way of sending pictures.
With all these miracles and things, I am really starting to understand how "by small and simple things, great things are come to pass". We just go out and continue to do the work, and don’t think that we are doing anything out of the ordinary, but we are blessed. For example, on Saturday it was pouring down rain and we were out walking around, and weren’t having too much success. So we decided to go get some lunch before we planned for the week. We went to this Mexican restaurant to eat. While we were there we had two different people come up to us and start talking to us. So when you talk to missionaries, of course the Gospel is going to get brought up. One of the guys we talked to wanted us to come by and teach him more and clear up some questions that he has. We just went to get some lunch, but we were able to teach two different people! That was a small and simple thing, and maybe it will turn into a great thing.
Now onto the Spanish thing. I have really been trying to speak it more and it really is helping a ton. Speaking it makes it to where you can really understand it better. I think I am doing well, but there are mixed results and reactions from the people I talk to. Some people are really impressed with my Spanish, and others say"your Spanish is terrible" but I guess it is just on how you look at it. It isn’t easy to learn a language in just 6 months. I know this is definitely true, since the people I talk to live here and have trouble speaking English, even though they have lived here for 20 years. But I have gone from nothing to being able to speak Spanish in just 6 months. So I think that is a pretty fair accomplishment that not all native speakers understand. I still have a long way to go before I am fluent and a master of the language. I just need to keep my studies going and make sure I use that time effectively.
I am really enjoying Elder Bravo. We seem to get a lot done and work hard, but we also seem to have a ton of fun. We are both relaxed and go with the flow kind of guys and that helps us bond. We just need to work on a few things here and there to be a little better in some areas that we are lacking.
The weather here has been bi-polar. I thought I was in St. George, not Seattle. All last week it was just super overcast, and drizzly. Then the next day it was like 65 and nice out. It was back and forth all week until Saturday when it just poured all day. On Sunday it was 75 and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! I don’t if I am just being protected from the heat or what, but I think I will be happy for this weather or looking for weather like this in July!
It is ridiculous that another week has come and gone. I feel that my mission is flying by so fast. Sometimes I am not sure how I feel about it, whether I want the time to slow down or speed up. I just keep going and working, and then the days come and go and then weeks, and then months. I guess the next step is going to be years. WOW! When I first got to the MTC, everything felt like an eternity, now I blink and three weeks are gone. I don’t know if this is just how it feels to be me or is that how you are feeling as well. 
Well it sure sounds like a lot is going on back at home. Staying busy really helps! It is good to hear that Trevor (Lott) is doing well. I did know that he was still in the States at the MTC here. Jett and I email back and forth every so often. We encourage each other and experience a little bit from each other. But visa problems are big things lately, especially going to Brazil. Not to kill anyone’s hopes, but we have had a missionary that is here, who has been waiting for a visa for 6 months. So visas are getting tougher to come by. So who knows Trevor may get it soon and be off for Brazil, or he could finish the two months at the MTC and then get reassigned temporarily to another mission, maybe even the St. George Mission. We seem to get a lot of  "Visa Waiters" as they are called here.  I love you all and appreciate your support! Make each day better then the last!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!            Te Amo   ELDER D