Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Elder Chad's BIRTHDAY is July 25th! Have you written a missionary lately?

Buenos días!               July 16, 2012
          Well this week was a very solid week, and we were able to see the hand of the Lord a lot this week. We really received a lot of blessings and miracles this week. I think that it is like that quite a bit, we think that we are at a point where we don't know where to go, and then the Lord provides the way. He will always continue to move His work forward!
         Most of the blessings that we saw this week came in the form of new people to teach. We found three new, very solid people to teach. One of them is named Misty. She just recently moved back to Castle Dale after living in Price for a while, and she actually went to church and requested that we come and visit her. So we did, and it went really well. We were able to invite her to read from the Book of Mormon, pray, and to be baptized. She accepted the challenge to do all of those. Her baptismal date is still pending, because she said she really wanted to read the Book of Mormon first and to know of its truthfulness before she commits to a date.
          We also found a 10 year old boy named Kaleb that lives right next to us actually. I taught his mom twice when I served in Wellington a year ago. It is a pretty crazy situation. They happened to move their motor home right next to us, so we went and contacted them. It went really well and Kaleb really wants to be baptized as soon as he can, but we just got to get permission from his grandmother.  We are actually teaching his grandfather as well. His name is Shorty. His wife (Kaleb's grandmother) is actually a less active member of the Church, and they were married in the Church up in Salt Lake. He has quite a few questions and he kind of issued us a challenge to teach him. He said that he thought baptism was a good thing for his grandson, but didn't know if he could do it himself. He said, "You boys got a lot of work to do, if you want to get me in the water." So I thought it was pretty fitting and I have never really been one to turn down a challenge!
          There are just so many miracles and good things that have happened this week. Last week, I mentioned the amazing contact that I had with Arturo and we set up a return appointment. The return appointment turned out amazing! We taught him about the Restoration of the Gospel, and he just soaked it all in. Throughout the whole lesson you could see he felt the Spirit. As we taught about the First Vision, he just started smiling from ear to ear. We likened Joseph Smith's question to the same one that he has; which church is true? We explained that Joseph Smith decided to pray. Then the First Vision came about, and Arturo just started smiling through the whole thing. We then explained that God had given us physical evidence to know the truthfulness of the Restoration, the Book of Mormon. Then Arturo, looked at me and the Book of Mormon that he had in his hands and said, "So Hermano Davis, you are telling me that all I need to do to know what church is true is to read this book(the Book of Mormon) and to pray about it, then God will give me my answer?" I testified to him with all my heart that he could know of these things for himself by doing those two things. We then invited him to be baptized and he said that he would definitely be baptized when he receives his answer. I have total confidence that he will read and pray and to receive his answer. The Lord has truly guided us to visit with Arturo. I really don't want to think what would have happened if I would have just kept driving last week.
      Another amazing thing happened with a kid named Logan. We have been teaching him for a while, but he wasn't making the greatest decisions, so his dad wouldn't give us permission to baptize him. This last week we made sure that Logan knew the consequences for his actions and if he really wanted to be baptized, that he would behave. We talked with his dad this week, and he said that Logan was behaving a lot more and he gave us permission to baptize him on the 28th of July!
         I also went on exchanges with the zone leaders this week. The zone leaders serve in the Helper Stake, and the town of Helper is pretty ghetto. We knocked on a bunch of ghetto trailers, talked to some Hispanics, and even went into the dirtiest house I have ever been in on my mission. I felt like I needed to burn all my clothes afterwards. We also had Zone Conference on Friday. It was pretty amazing and interesting at the same time. It really gave me that boost that I needed to keep moving forward and become better everyday. Between the two zones, 13 missionaries go home in the next two transfers. Many of the missionaries I have served with; it is a weird thing to get old in the mission. I hardly even knew half of the missionaries that were there.
          This week we were also blessed with more RAIN! It rained basically off and on from Thursday until last night. We were hit with "flash flood" warnings all weekend. It has definitely been good for the area! Most of the forest fires have been put out, or they soon will be.
         Well I have talked about one of our investigators, David, for the last couple of weeks, but he still continues to amaze me. He has really been weighing the Gospel heavily on his mind. He is completely committed to go forward with his baptism. He is making sure that his work is done so that he can come home for the weekend to go to church. He has taken his Book of Mormon with him so that he can read it during the time he has off. We also gave him a blessing this week so he can overcome his addiction to chewing. We could really use some extra prayers for him as well!
        NEWS FROM HOME: It is so crazy that Matthew (Rickords) is leaving (on a mission to North Denver Colorado Mission). I am sure he will be a great missionary and a fun one at that. I am glad to hear that the things for Pops' treatments went through. I know that you will both be taken care of why you are up there (in Seattle) -- even if Pops receives "spa like treatment" for his birthday.  J  (CHAD’S BIRTHDAY IS COMING UP ON JULY 30th and I asked if he had any objection to sweet treats for his birthday.) Speaking of birthdays, for mine I am not really physically fasting from anything. I really don't drink any pop (soda) anymore, so if you could just leave that out. But cookies or whatever you send would be fine. I am sure I could share some with my companion or district. (Okay, friends and family – any treats or birthday wishes, cards, letters, etc. -- SEND THEM TO CHAD!!!!  Make this birthday one to remember!)
      Well the Lord truly has lead us this week and we were able to see His hand a lot. May God bless each and everyone of you this week!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!      
de la viña del Gran Rey Jesus,       ELDER D

Monday, July 9, 2012

Aloha!   (Aloha?)                    9 July 2012
 This week has come and gone, and I continue to watch my mission flash before my eyes. It was a week full of trials and a lot of learning. There were many set backs from people not showing up to appointments, people just being completely rude, and many other things in general. This week was full of a lot of contacting. I felt like I was back in St. George just knocking doors, but here we went off of lists that we were given. We contacted so many people this week! I think the most frustrating part of it all is that we have wonderful contacts and the people seem really interested and want to learn, and then when we ask them if we can come back they say no. I have gotten more excuses on why they can't meet with us this week, then in any other week of my mission. I just don't understand why they can be so nice and cordial in the doorways or on the sidewalks, but they won't ever let us get past that point. 
We also had the 4th of July this week.  We were out in the public = we went to a parade in Huntington, and then we went to a little fair thing, people selling things in a park. We were out contacting people and we got a few referrals. We also had a "boxing match" in one of those inflatable rings. It was pretty funny; I know that we were really tried after it and because of all the smoke in the air. A few people got it on video, so maybe I can get a copy of it I will send it to you. The rest of the day we just visited with members and went from barbecue to barbecue.
This week we saw a really big blessing from the Lord. RAIN! There hasn't been measurable rain here in this valley since February. On Thursday, the heavens opened up and there was rain! I think they said there was about a half an inch. It is pretty substantial when you think how long it has been since there has been rain here. I say it is a blessing because last Sunday, there was actually a regional fast for rain in this area, and it obviously worked. We are just hoping that it can continue and we can get some more to help suppress the fires and to help the crops.
I was also able to go on exchanges with Elder Johnson. He is a brand new elder, but he is super prepared for his mission. These missionaries coming out now are much more prepared when they come on their missions. I know that I wasn't nearly as prepared as all these missionaries are now. 
This week was a big learning experience for me. I kind of had a spiritual intervention with myself. I feel that every time I start to get to the point where I want to be on my mission, I get knocked down a few steps. I felt like I was finally getting to the point where I needed to be, and then I crashed. I know can re-evaluate myself and see where I need to improve.  The main two were stress and frustration. I have been bogged down with a lot of stress lately, in my area, helping my companion out, etc. I also had the realization about coming home, and it wasn't that fun. I thought about all the big decisions that lay ahead of me and I got super overwhelmed. I have spent so much time becoming this missionary and in a few months it will all be gone.  I was just looking into everything to see how I could better myself or to change things to help the area. I eventually came to the conclusion to do something to purify myself and to finish my mission strong. I started something called the "40 Day Fast". Don't worry I am not going to really fast for 40 days like the Savior did, but I will be "fasting" from the things that would be keeping me from being completely the missionary that I want to be. I have already started to see the change in my outlook and I believe that this will help me be on the right track.  I will sprint to the finish of my mission and end where I want to be.
This week I haven’t talked much about our investigators, but they are still doing good. David is still progressing really well, but the biggest thing is that he doesn't know if he will get the time off of work to come back on the weekend for his baptism. So if you could please pray that he will be able to get the time off of work. Thank you!
I do want to talk about one experience this week. It was with a Mexican guy named Arturo. We drove by his house and I saw him outside, but I figured it is late and we need to start heading home.  I felt the distinct impression that I needed to go and talk with him. So I flipped the car around and we pulled up in front of his house. We started to talk and I asked him why he wasn't baptized with his daughters. (He has two daughters that were baptized about a year and a half ago.) He said that he just didn't feel it then and he didn't have a bunch of time. We started talking about how Jesus Christ set up one church and that there needed to be one true church on the earth.  He just looked at me funny and said, "You are right. But everyone comes and says that they have the truth. So I don't know which to choose." I testified to him about how God knows everything and that God loves him and wants him to know which is the true church on the earth.  I committed him to pray about the things we talked about and left him a pamphlet that it explained to him how to pray and he said he would do it. We have a return appointment with him on Tuesday.
I am so grateful that I followed the prompting of the Holy Ghost to go and talk with him. I know that the Holy Ghost was definitely there to help testify to his heart. I know because the Holy Ghost has testified to me that this is the true Church on the earth today and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and has atoned for my sins as well as the sins of the world.
NEWS FROM HOME: Mom, I did get the essays Mom, and the transcripts. Thank you so much! I also received my license extension 2 weeks ago. So that is all taken care of. It is also good to hear that the treatments are basically scheduled (for Chad's father); just let me know when the actual dates are. Transfers are still not for another 3 weeks, so I don't know what will happen. I think I could stay or I could go, but it just depends on what the Lord wants. Well I am out of time, but I love you so much and am so grateful for your support. This is the Lord's Church, and I know that this is His work!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!    del misionero en Utah!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Manti Pangeant 02 July 2012

Well Good Morning Everyone!                     2 July 2012

Well this week has flown by that is for sure. We had an interesting week here in Castle Dale, Utah. It just wasn't really your typical week for a missionary.
Elder Davis At Manti Pageant
The first thing is first, that we did in fact go over to the "Mormon Miracle Pageant" in Manti. It is also known as the "Manti Pageant". It is always a wonderful experience. I really enjoy going over there and to feel of the Spirit that it brings. It was pretty crazy to see a bunch of people there and to talk with them. I probably met about 20 people that either live or have lived in the Tri-Cities. It was quite crazy to talk about that and where they lived. I always saw a family that was in the branch that I served in down in St. George. He was the Ward Mission Leader when I was there. So it was a familiar face. To answer your question, Mom, about the housing and things like that - What usually happens in all the elders end up sleeping in a spare house of the Pageant President, but this time we just slept in their basement, due to some other things that happened. For instance the house that we usually stay in was being used by a Girl's Camp that had to leave their camp due to fires.
Smoke from Wildfires in Utah

FIRES in Utah - That has been a really big thing here lately. Everything has been so dry; this area has experienced the biggest drought in 22 years. There has been so many forest fires going on here in Utah. I also heard there have been some pretty big ones in Colorado. It was pretty crazy, because to go over to Manti we actually drove up this canyon and it was really pretty and then all the sudden we just see huge flames coming over the mountain. It was weird to put your hand towards that side of the car and feel the heat and then put it on the other side and feel the coolness. The road that we were traveling on actually got closed while we were on it. Then as we got to the summit of the mountain, we were able to look down and we see huge areas of smoke right where we were driving towards, but it was on the next mountain over. It has been such a big thing around here that we actually had a region-wide fast for moisture in this area.
Now onto to some of the events with the people that we have been teaching here in this area. One big thing we did this week was help a less active lady named Michelle quit smoking. We did the "Stop Smoking Program". It helps people quit smoking in just 7 days! She has been doing so good and she still hasn't smoked! This one little step will be able to keep her on the "strait and narrow". She has come a long ways since the first time I met with her. She has been reading her Book of Mormon and praying everyday for the last two weeks and she can definitely see the difference all these things have made in her life.
Another thing this week is that we picked up another investigator. Well technically we taught him in Ferron when we still covered both of the stakes, but his family moved to Orangeville this week. We were able to start teaching Logan, again and he went to church with us this week also.
I think the biggest miracle this week was with a guy named David. I mentioned him last week in my letter, but this week it provided another wonderful miracle. We happened to catch him just after he got home from a long week of work in Moab. At our appointment, we had one of the most amazing lessons on my mission. He really is prepared for the Gospel. We were talking about the Plan of Salvation and how through this wonderful plan that he and his wife can be sealed for time and all eternity. He really enjoyed this part and he is still preparing to be baptized on the 21st of July. As we started to end the lesson, I had a very big impression that we needed to talk to him about the Word of Wisdom. Well it was obviously directed by the Spirit, because it turns out that he has chewed tobacco for over 30 years. So we told him for him to be baptized that he would have to give up chewing. He at first looked at us with concern, and then he said "Okay. I will do it. I won't drink tea and when I come back on Saturday I will be done chewing for good." David is such a good man and I know that I was sent here to teach him. I felt that connection the first time I visited with him 3 months ago. Now he is preparing to be baptized on the 21st and he won't let anything get in the way of that. The Lord truly can change the hearts of the people and they can receive the answers to their own questions.
This week we also were able to teach a combined Young Men and Young Women's class. We talked about preparing for a mission and the temple. It was a really good opportunity to help them understand the ways to prepare for a mission, or the temple, and how to set the plans and goals to make it there.
One surprise I did get this week was a letter from President Lott. It is pretty weird to call him President Lott, rather then Bishop Lott. He sent me a really wonderful letter and it was really what I needed that day to help me keep moving forward. I really do love that man and am so grateful him and the role that he played in my life and helping me get on my mission. So President Lott if you are reading this, thank you! (Next time you see him Mom, just let him know I am grateful for him in my life. Thank you!)
NEWS FROM HOME: We just had a “Swoboda Family Gathering” in Creswell, Oregon.  My father and his children and their spouses and children – 35 were there. It was good to hear that you had a good time with the family down in Creswell. It was awesome to see the pictures of all the family and it is nice to see them again. Family is such an important part of our lives. Mom, it is was good to hear that Aunt Cheryl was there looking out for you and Pops. I will have to have Pops send me an email about what she said to him. She always has been one of my favorite aunts on that side, along with Aunt Debi. They are such great people and are always willing to help. I am grateful to hear that Aunt Cheryl was supportive of me and of my decision to stay on my mission. (Some have said Chad should come home to help with his dad- who has stage 4 noncurable cancer- , but we feel strongly that Chad will be able to finish his two year mission uninterrupted – the mom)
It is quite crazy to hear about Trave. (Chad’s high school basketball coach has a new job as varsity coach at Southridge High School in Kennewick.) It is good to hear that he is moving up to a big time coaching job and maybe it will continue that way. He always was a really good coach, I will have to go and visit him when I get back. If you see him tell him I said "Hello". It is good to hear that Joe Sloan is moving back into the ward. I really liked him as a teacher, and now I will have to make sure my Spanish is on par for when I get back, because he will understand me and everything I say.  J
Well thank you so much for everything and for the support! I love you all so much! I know that this work is true and this Church really is Christ's church. I know it with every fiber of my being!   
 Live it, Love it, Preach it!   de tu hijo amado!     ELDER D