Elder Swan is serving in the Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission from July 2013 to July 2015

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hey I can Translate!!! 7/27/2014

Translating for the Doctors

Ceremony where they gave us Certificates

Okay well The electricity was out today and I just got to the church to e mail! Last week was awesome this week was slow!

The only great thing this week was that the U.S. Air Force came to Vava'u with Doctors and I was able to go and translate for them! It was a big thing where Tongans came in sat down and told me their sicknesses and I would translate it to the Doctors and just kinda be the spokesman! It was a very cool experience and I may have found my future profession, I may want to be a doctor!! HA ha... But I am grateful for the gift God has given me to understand and speak this language! God is good! We have 2 new investigators whom have already gone to church twice and loved it! One wants to get baptized this week and the other is kinda shy! Their older brother is the only member in their family!

I apologize this is so short! But I gotta go! We are a little late to a family home evening! Oh and we made shirts!
I love you tons! A last min. scripture! Luke 9:62  Push on and don't look back! There is a lot of work to do, never be comfortable with your past successes!

Ofa lahi atu! Elder Swan

Shirts we made

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Conference, Fireside and 3 Baptisms~ 7/20/2014



Famili! How's it going?? Your week sounded full of fun and joy but my week beats yours.. This week was one of the most fun of the mission! It was ward conference this last week and boy was it great! Monday night we started a fast and Tuesday we broke it and went to the family history center! I was able to do a little bit of family search and add somebody to make it more full! I could feel the spirit so strongly it was awesome! We are handing out these "My Family" books to help people do their family names in the temple! Wednesday was a ngaue'ofa day! Service! We went to the elementary school here and cut the lawn and did all this work! The school looked haunted before we started but afterwards... Looked brand spankin' new! Thursday was one of my favorites! We had a Fireside Hiva, or a Musical Fireside. I don't know how often those go down in Utah but here that's what President Tupou is having us do! At least once a month have a fireside hiva! Well we had one and boy was it awesome! The Ward members really got to work inviting people and we had a full house of non-members and inactive members! The songs were some of the most beautiful things I've ever heard! Two of them were all about the restoration and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon which was really cool and hit a lot of people there square between the eyes! Obviously the Spirit came through the songs, but after each song there was a Fakamo'oni or a Testimony! All the Testimonies born were converts! Each one of them brought the Spirit in such a strong wave that afterwards we got a new investigator named Selevini. I'll tell you about her in a bit! But hearing their testimonies and the faith they took to join the church and all the sacrifices they made to do so! The faith of these people amazes me each day! I was reading a book by Thomas S. Monson and it said "The Tongan mission is one of the churches greatest missions." He goes on telling why, and how great of a people the Tongans and also all Polynesians are. It is true! Anyways, back to the week! Friday we had a Zone Baptism. Our branch has been working so hard to get people to teach and baptize for this week and I am so grateful for that! It's been slow until these past 3 weeks and It's been a wonderful ride watching members join the work and receive the blessings that do come from it! We had 3 souls baptized on Friday! Sione Lopeti Ahovelu, Tolokina Sosaia Tu'ipulotu, and Selevini Vuki Guttenpeil. I bet you recognize Selevini's name! Again I'll get to her in a bit! You know about Sione and Tolokina! Sione made some HUGE changes in his life to follow Christ and accept his invitation to be baptized! Tolokina ever since he was young has snuck away from his family to go to the LDS Church. Now he is happy to call home and tell them he is a member and was baptized! Selevini or "Vini" Is a 21 year old girl whom we just met Thursday night and taught her! She had questions that the spirit was able to guide Elder Caudill and I in and she told us "I want to read the book of Mormon!" So we gave her one! Went back the next day and taught her again! We asked if she was able to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and our message, she said yes! I asked, What were the feelings you got as you read and prayed! She said "I felt peaceful and It was really comforting and after I prayed I knew immediately that it was true! " Then we asked her to be baptized, she said yes! We were holding a baptismal service that night and she wanted to be baptized that night so we called our district leader and he was a little worried about it, but he said he'd pray and see what happens in the interview! I knew it was early and going into the lesson I was gonna tell her no and hold it off for 1 week! But the spirit told us otherwise. So she was baptized and bore Testimony after and it was a beautiful testimony! Before the baptism we filled the Font and I sat and listened to the water for a good hour, it was the most beautiful sound I've ever heard! Knowing people are about to follow Christ and walk into the water and be baptized in His name, with the proper Authority! Saturday we visited a family with the Branch Pres and the Stake Pres. They came to Church and we are hoping to get teaching them! I'm super excited! Sunday was our Conference! It was amazing and seeing 3 of the people I have come to love so much receive the gift of the Holy Ghost made tears fill my eyes! After the Conference we had an amazing feast and I loved it! I thank My Father in Heaven so much each day for the progression of the work and the Miracles I'm able to see each week!

I want to leave you with a quote I really enjoyed this week

"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the Slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and they then take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature...
Yes, Christ changed men and changed men can change the world."  - Ezra Taft Benson

Cleaning the Font

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

One year from today!!! 7/14/2014

This is a BAT we ate..... Haha Nasty!
Well my family, another week passed and guess what that means! I come home a year from today!! Can you believe it! I sure cant! Well This week wasn't as eventful but there was a miracle or two! We weren't able to teach Saane and her family but we are going there tonight to teach! But we were able to get Sione and Fe'ofa'aki! They are both visiting from Tonga. Sione is 20 and is Catholic. His older brother is the only member of the church in their family and served a mission! So we have been teaching him! This is my experience with him.

My spiritual experience this week came while teaching a 20 year old boy about the Word of Wisdom! We had already taught him the first and second lesson but a few days after that we saw him really drunk. It broke our hearts because he didn't recognize us! But after seeing this we decided the next lesson we would teach would be the Lea oe Poto! Well He took it well! When we asked him if he would live with the word of wisdom he said, "Can I smoke one more cigarette tonight?" my comp said "No, think of it this way. If God gave you a gift would you trash it and throw it around and leave it outside??" He said no. "Then why would you want to do that with your body? Remember from the last lesson how we taught you your body is a temple and that it's a gift from God?" He said yes. then my comp went on and said "why would you want to trash it one more time?" Then I asked again "will you live with the word of wisdom?" He still had no idea so we asked if we could say a prayer and ask for strength and help! He agreed and I asked if he would say it! The spirit entered the room and everyone could feel it! I asked him again. He took 2 min to think then said "Yes, I'll just eat this banana!" haha. Then I said it's all your agency, but we are only here to help you, would it be okay if we took any cigarettes or alcohol that is in the house that may tempt you? He said yes and gave me a full pack of cigarettes and I DESTROYED THEM!!!!! Teaching this lesson taught me so much and it was a personal experience as I felt I was talking to someone I know and love! I know that Alcohol, Kava, and drugs of any kind are taking peoples lives. Not necessarily death, but their money, time and families. It's sad, but seeing this small miracle of one 20 year old boy making a decision and sticking to it is amazing! It is not impossible. There is a way out. Every door has an exit! Some find it easier than others. But I promise that there is an exit! After a few days a member told me that he was offered a cigarette by a members husband. He took it, but rather than smoking it, he threw it in the bushes!

God is here to help us in all our trials! He loves us and wants us to be happy! Some think the Gospel is hard when in reality It's the only intelligent thing to live by. The Gospel isn't hard. Life is. The things the world puts out, is hard! But with the help of God we can make it through any obstacle Satan gives us!

"Oh how blessed are we to have the never-dimming, always-glowing hope and the eternal knowledge that belongs to us and that we share with the world, that the Gospel has been restored on earth, that God lives, that Jesus is his Son, our brother, our mediator, with the Father, our Lord and our Savior, God's greatest gift to us." President Monson.
It was a good week and we are looking forward to baptizing Sione Ahovelu and Tolokina this Friday!
I love you all,

Elder Swan

Monday, July 7, 2014

Best week of my MISSION! 7/6/2014

Elder Caudill, Elder Swan and 'Ema
Ko hoku famili faka'ofo'ofa!
Man it feels like yesterday I just talked to you! Well The reason may be because this week was the BEST WEEK OF MY MISSION! I'll start off with Ma'ata, Saane, Paula, Ta'ofa, and kokona! This is a family of 10 but we only got to teach these 5! The dad left when we showed up! But It was amazing! Elder Caudill and I taught really well together and they understood it all! We taught the restoration or lesson 1. Saane who is 20 took it the best! After testifying of the book of Mormon we invited them to be baptized! The mom said that they will get baptized when they get married to a Mormon! We had a laugh then we testified again and Elder Caudill asked "Is Atapani (the dad) able to take you to heaven?"  They laughed then said no. Then He testified of the gift of agency or me'afoaki oe tau'ataina ke fili. Then Saane asked for an opportunity to say something and this is what she said. "I'm so grateful for you guys coming to this poor house to bring us this message. I'm sorry we don't have any food for you, but we are grateful! I know that what you have said is true! I know that the book of Mormon is true! I trust it and believe it! I will read it and help my family to read it! Thank you!" Now if that's not faith I don't know what is!! She is an amazing girl and she is the only one in their family with a job to support the family! We are planning on going back there tonight!

We also had an investigator who is 12 that was staying at our Branch Presidents house! His name is Tolokina! We taught him all 3 lessons and he wants to be baptized so we will baptize him not this week but next week! He was a blessing in our lives and we are grateful for him!
Also 2 boys visiting from Tonga came to stay in Mangia! Sione and Sonasi! We have taught them two lessons and they take it well every time! They also came to church last week! We invited Sione to be baptized when he knows it's true! He said yes! So now we just need to get on him and help him keep all his commitments! Sonasi is an inactive member but said he would try and come back! I know they both feel the spirit when we teach! I just hope they will become more receptive to it and accept it as the truth!

Now the Miracle (All of these are miracles to me but this was pretty cool! and it goes with moms quote at the end of her e mail!) So I've been pondering a lot lately about my past work in other areas! If I was able to help anyone! I prayed and asked for comfort and all the good stuff, well God listens! At church yesterday I saw a teenage girl who looked super familiar!  I looked at my comp and said "If her name is 'Ema, she was one of my investigators in Tofoa." So we found out her name was 'Ema! I could remember her like it was the back of my hand! I remembered the lesson we taught her it was the Plan of Salvation! Afterwards she spoke and testified that it was true! Then in Sacrament I heard her testimony again and Anyone in that room knew that she knew it was true! The reason it's so great to me is because I taught her one lesson. Then transferred! To a totally different island in a tiny village! And she ended up coming here! We talked after church! She remembered my name and was so excited as was I! She told me she was baptized and I was walking/ standing on air! She is truly an amazing girl and has so much faith! Her family hates that she was baptized and it's really hard for her! But she is strong! I love it!

We also had a BBQ and made cake for the 4th! It was an awesome week!
I love you so much and can't wait to tell you more about these beautiful people! Love you mom! Tell Tanner  Dad and Parker I love them.
Elder Swan
Elder Caudill, me and Elder King
~Happy 4th of July~ 

We made cake :)

WOW ~ Looks Great!!! 

We made cake~ AGAIN 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ko Hoku Fonua eni 6/29/2014

Malo e lelei Famili!
Ene'io Beach

This week was really kind of short and we weren't able to get a lot done. There was the Wesleyan Conference in Vava'u this last week and every morning the entire village got on the village bus and went to the conference in town. It was rough on the work and we didn't get much done at all! There are a lot of people here from America, Australia, and New Zealand! All for the Conference so it's cool seeing new people but they all leave to town and it's just us in the village. We did a vilo hoa this week which is a comp. exchange. I went with Elder Silakivai to Tu'anikivale and worked there for a day! I ran in to a guy named "D" He is inactive and served a mission for 3 months before returning! He came up to me and wasn't very nice so I tried being nice and after awhile started joking with him also! Then Elder Sila asked what I thought of him, I said jokingly "Kou fakakaukau oku ne fiema'u fakatomala" or I think he needs to repent. Then He got mad and kinda went off. I felt bad but then he said something about my language that wasn't very nice and said since I'm a missionary I should be fluent because It's so easy to be a missionary and God makes it easy! I replied by saying "God puts trials and roadblocks in our lives to test our faith and patience! Maybe my language is slower than others but I can speak it and do exactly what I'm here to do! I'm grateful for the gift God has given me to speak this language! If you think life is easy as a missionary you are wrong." He got mad then started talking bad about Sila and Elder King, so Sila said alright lets go, so we left. I thought about what I said and maybe I shouldn't have said somethings but I was happy and felt good about standing up for myself and the Gospel! It's hard to do that in your own native language but in another tongue.. It was difficult but I did it and it felt great! After that the next morning we went to a place called "Ene'io" It's a beach and is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been! It was so relaxing and it was a good way to just ponder!

When I returned to Houma, still there wasn't much work because everyone was gone! But we did get to meet a family of 10 who seem really open about the gospel and have friends who can fellowship! The mom is really nice and they have 8 children! Since I'm staying in Houma, They are my focus this transfer! I feel as if they are already ready! So I'm excited to get going with them and another investigator named Sateki!

I'm staying in Houma and staying with Caudill!

I loved hearing about all the fun and camping!!! Jealous... But I saw a house this week that is sticks and leaves standing as walls... IT looked exactly like dads camp and I felt so bad... Our camping is literally better than the way some of these people live... They are so faithful and so strong and I love these people!

Here are some pics of Ene'io and my week!

Ofa lahi atu,

Elder Swan

Great place to ponder

Playing the Uke on the roof at night after
a planning meeting~ Man was that a good time!

My cute friends Sala and Matiu!