Friday, December 26, 2014

Week 20 - Christmas Call 2014

Benito Soliven

We were able to video call Tanner on Christmas night (the day after Christmas in the Philippines).  It was great to see him and for some reason it was very comforting to talk to him in person.  He is having a great time in the Philippines and has grown very attached to his branch in Benito Soliven.  A copy of our video call with him can be found at
We had to work out some technical difficulties so the real fun starts at about 9:30.

Tanner Christmas 2014 Video Call

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 19 - 6 month mark

Benito Soliven

So I have some bad news. The people I let borrow my camera they kind of deleted all my photos so I don't have any pictures today. I have 1 or 2 that members emailed me I can upload those. Besides that we finally got a progressing investigator. We are going to give her a baptismal date this coming week so that should be good. We also just reactivated another member so that's good. We're going HAM on the less-actives. Besides that people tell me all the time that my Tagalog is fluent. I don't really believe them, but I haven't really had any problems for a long time. I've officially hit and passed my 6 month mark. It's going so fast I can't believe it. Tomorrow we have the Christmas devotional. So we are allowed to skype any day this week. This Friday we'll go down to Ilagan so I can skype then. I'll try to go early, but bear with me travel here is kind of frustrating at times.
Me and Domingo have really stepped up our games this last week. We teach 6+ lessons a day and we are just killing it. Unfortunately we only have one dinner appointment for Christmas, but the best part is its with the one girl that I took pictures with before. Her family is awesome and her mom was allowed to come home for the Christmas season. Her mom works abroad in Qatar. I also am really serious about coming back here after my mission, but since tickets are so expensive we should probably start planning for that now. I plan to start working the minute I get back.
This week has been really nice. It's been a cool 60 all week. I actually want a jacket. I should have brought one, but I don't have money to buy one.
That's all I have this week. Thanks for the support.
Elder Swensen
Who was transferred in your area?
My district leader, zone leader, and the threesome in San Mariano got transferred.
Do you visit different barangays in Benito Soliven?
We don't go to different Barangays just the same 3 D.1, D.2, and San Carlos. We decided it's pointless to convert people if we don't have a ward. We area already having trouble with my recent converts so that's why we focus on the LA's in the areas close to the church. 
Have you eaten any interesting foods yet?
I've had grasshopper, pig feat, balut, and snail. It was all good. 
How are your living conditions?
We got lucky with our apartment. It's actually really nice compared to other elders apartments. Some elders have air conditioning though which is outrageous and stupid. Luckily though we are kind of up in the mountain so it's cooler up by us.
Do you ever have dinner appointments?
Here we basically have 0 Dinner appointments. We had 1 the entire last cycle and we only have 1 for Christmas with that same family.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 18 - Staying in Benito Soliven

Benito Soliven

This week I swore I was going to get transferred but it turns out that I'm not getting transferred. So that's awesome. I seriously was so worried about the members here.  I'm also really worried about all of our recent converts, because they really need that extra help from the missionaries, so if I wasn't here I know that they wouldn't get that help. So I let some of the members borrow my camera for their wedding so again I don't have pictures. Other than that, not much has happened. We are helping plan the Christmas party here in Benito and my best friend got transferred. When I told the bishops wife that we had the transfer lists she called me and when I told her that I wasn't getting transferred she started screaming and saying 'YES'! Pretty funny.

We still can't get progressing investigators, we are trying to reactivate families and finish teaching our RCs. The biggest news here is the Christmas parties.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 17 - Bringing members back into the fold.

Benito Soliven

Sorry we had a power outage last Monday so I couldn't send more. Basically every time it storms we have a power outage. Especially recently because they have been working on the power cables so it's pretty normal to go a whole day without seeing power. This week was good. None of the members want me to leave so they have all been calling President Rahlf and telling him to let me stay one more cycle. If I do get transferred it will be on the 17th of this month, but we won't know until the 15th of this month. If I don't get transferred I will probably stay here until January 28th. This week has been awesome, because we just reactivated another member. Over this entire cycle we have reactivated 3 members which is really hard and the standards of excellence are 1 per month. So we basically tripled that. We are also on track to reactivate 2 more next week and also if we do reactivate them (they are a part member family) we have the chance to baptize the whole rest of the family. Elder Domingo has been fun though. Of course we had and have our struggles, but overall we've changed a lot this cycle. I now know how to control and help my companions who have struggles like this. Of course I can't force them to do anything, but there are things I can control.

The shop that we are at is pretty sketchy so I'm a little hesitant to hook up my card so next week I'll send pictures. I have a lot.  Can you send me pictures of our family, our house, and just a bunch of things like that? maybe some American food or something?  Yeah I got the package. The kids loved the toys and the muffins thanks a ton. Also we get a ton of Tagalog Liahona's here. I also gave away all the CTR rings, those were cool next time all English! They don't like the Tagalog ones. what else.... Oh yeah thanks a ton for the packages. Also next package Real Jerseys!
As for everything else, I didn't come into my mission with the right mindset. I came in here thinking, "I did some wrong things and now I need to make up for it", but after serving these less active families and seeing these people literally beg for me to stay here I see my real purpose. This isn't for me. These 2 years aren't mine. I gave up these 2 years to help the people that are here. With my calling I was of course passively doing this, but now that I know this I've magnified my calling, been there for my companion, and I've been able to bless and help the people here a lot more.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Week 16 - Christmas getting bigger and bigger.

Benito Soliven
Sorry my camera cord broke. I couldn't find one for a while they didn't have any at any of the cell phone stores, but we found a Kodak store that will probably have them so we'll check up on that. I'm also going to lend my camera to the bishops wife for their temple trip on December 12th. Other than that, this week was fun. We have just been focusing on LAs this week because our retention with our investigators is awful. Whenever we tract or follow up on an OYM we can never get a return appointment, or we do set a return appointment, but they aren't 'there'. Christmas has just been getting bigger and bigger everyday. All the school have these giant cardboard statues that the little kids make. It's pretty cool. If I can find that cord I'll take pictures of them to send to you. This week I have been getting weird rashes probably from mosquitoes again. It's basically impossible to wear bug repellent here though. It get super sticky out in the sun.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week 14 - Giving away his clothes?

Benito Soliven

Everything is great here. I having a great time with Elder Domingo and we are killing it. Of course we have struggles with investigators this week, but we decided to focus more on LAs this week. Everyone thinks that I'm going to get transferred next month. That would be AWFUL though, because I wouldn't have my package so I couldn't give stuff to all the people here. The weather is exactly the same as it's always been. We see the DL once a week. He's from Ogden. He's cool. One of our ZLs is from Cali the other is from the Phillies. The language is still hard. The people are still nice. No weird stories today. I think I'm going to try to send a package home once I get all the things for you guys. From what I here it's not too expensive. I'm trying to not spend much money, but I have a chance to buy one of those nativities you wanted to if you want it you need to let me know so that I can buy it. For Christmas, once it gets closer you should add the money grandma will give me so I can buy a couple things for the people here. So I've lost a ton of weight I had to get all my clothes refit, so that cost a lot of money. I also Gave a lot of my clothes away to people that needed it. So I only have 3 shirts, 2 pants, 4 ties, and 2 pairs of shoes. Of course we wash by hand here So I have to wash basically every 2 days. It's hard, and I was starting to doubt my decision when my knuckles started to bleed from washing, but last Sunday I saw almost every person in the chapel wearing one of my clothes and it was a good feeling. The bloody Knuckles were worth it and I guess the Elder Holland Talk inspired me to do it I'm not sure if it was this last session or the one before that, but it's a good one. That's all this week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Week 13 - New companion in Benito Soliven

Benito Soliven

Elder Domingo is my new comp. He's awesome we talk a lot more than me and Bautista. He's from Bacolod. He's 1 year and 4 months into his mission. He walks a lot faster than Bautista too. I don't know if that will really help us get more lessons though. Elder Bautista is right next to me. He's in Naguilian. So he switched stakes but his area actually touches ours so that's kind of weird. There was other transfers in my zone some people are training and some just got new companions. We finally have investigators coming to church now. It's getting better, I'm not worried.

New Companion, Elder Domingo (picture from the mission blog)
Panoramic of Elder Swensen's Apartment.  Needs to do some cleaning1?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 12 - Old Saints Day (Filipino Halloween)

Benito Soliven

Well I just found out today that Elder Bautista is getting transferred. And everyone has this bad feeling that Elder Llacona is getting transferred here. From what I've heard he's straight up crazy. He was a cosplayer before he came on a mission and I've heard that he has a costume here too. So I don't know what's going to happen, but I know I'll be okay. This week we said a lot of good-byes on behalf of E. B. and it was pretty sad. We have some picture this week though. It's weird they have Halloween here , but the day after Halloween is bigger. It's called Old saints day and it's basically like a Filipino Memorial day. It was pretty fun we just went to the local cemetery with some ward members and ate food. Everything else is pretty much the same. No investigators still, and a lot of inactives, but we have a lot of fun looking for investigators and trying to bring back members. Dad, I've been listening to that talk a lot now (Elder Holland - The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship). It's a good one. I've also been listening to the one he gave in 2011 priesthood session and even though you guys aren't old yet, I think you should start preparing for a couples mission. It's awesome there's this sister in our ward, who was Mrs. Isabela, which is like Mrs. Utah back home, but anyways just this last Sunday she told us she was preparing for a mission. It's awesome. That's all I have this week. I'll upload some more pictures later.

Last week with Elder Bautista.
Eating with Ward Members

Ilagan Zone - October 2014
Top:  Elder Taer, Back: Elder Morrison, Elder Poulter, Elder Bautista, Elder Swensen,
Elder Enuake, Elder Bacle-an, Elder Wengreen, Elder Lee, Elder Thorpe, Elder Williams
Front:  Sister Elivera, Sister Funaki, Sister Crystal, Sister Borja, Sister Nambengu,
Sister Lange, Sister Dela Torre, Sister Karavanua, Elder Padilla, Elder Sison, Elder Cantero

Zone Conference

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 11 - Missing the cold weather.

Benito Soliven

Everything is good here. After I got over my sickness, I feel better than ever. This week really nothing happened. We don't have any investigators, so our whole day is tracting, RCs and LAs. I'm still having a blast, but really missing the cold weather. I had my first Zone Conference this last week. It was fun. We played minute to win it, but my team did not win it. We had some American food. Finally something without rice. We also had a testimony meeting. It is one of my zone leaders last cycles so of course he bore his testimony. Really that's all I have to say. I'm all caught up on pictures too. So not much else to say.

Tanner's 1st Baptism - Brother Mark Elmo
Baptism of Ashley Naval
Members of the Benito Soliven Ward

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 10 - Dengue Fever

Benito Soliven

Hey everything is going great over here. You guys definitely need to come visit here after my mission. I'm pretty decent in Tagalog right now, but Ilocano is a killer. It's much harder. I just barely bought some old Vietnam bolo knives from an old Vietnam Vet. I figured that it was second best to a machete for Britt. They are pretty sweet I'm not going to lie. This last week I had Dengue fever. So unfortunately we had to stay inside for some of the week. I will never complain about a normal headache again. I went to the hospital, because sister Rahlf wanted to watch my blood count, and all they really wanted me to do was come back so they could make me pay more. Luckily we only had to go for one visit. Now I'm doing pretty good. Just a small headache. We had our Baptism this week and it was great. Sister Princess is awesome. I will try and upload pictures later. Everything else is fine.

Baptism of Princess Cacayuran
Helping with the Dried Corn Harvest

Tanner with his broom!

At the hospital for Dengue Fever!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 9 - Members are Awesome!

Benito Soliven

Its still hot here basically 95 degrees from 12 PM to 8 PM and the humidity makes it feel a lot worse. I finally got sick for my first time. I don't know what it is yet. I have a fever of 102 and I've had it since yesterday. Other than that I have inflamed joints and a raging headache constantly. We couldn't even work after conference yesterday and it doesn't matter how much I sleep I always feel tired.

I finally got my package. I kinda gave it all away. Haha I couldn't just eat all that candy so I gave some of it away to other missionaries after conference and then to all the kids around our apartment I gave the rest. In my next package you should send me my old contacts and maybe 2 real shirts. Maybe more physical things that I can give away. I want to leave something with our converts here. and if you could get it here before I'm transferred that would be awesome. 

Members are awesome. On the way up here we were on a jeep and a member from the San Mariano ward was on the jeep to, and she had a bunch of native oranges and of course she gave us some. I love it here. The work is great and even though we haven't seen much progression these people are so amazing here. I've been thinking about maybe spending a year or two here after my mission. Maybe to study at on of the universities. Other than that our next baptism is October 18. After that we don't have any and I'm not sure if we will for awhile. We've been getting punted quite often. As for conference Jörg threw it down. He was even dissing on fat people. Gotta love those chastisers.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 8 - My Mother's Lucky Machete!

Benito Soliven

Dear Family,

Not much has changed and there hasn't been any crazy experiences so I really don't have a lot to write about. I'm having a good time and the work is hard and tiring. Something interesting I found out. The songs 'Bebot' and 'The APL song' by Black eyed peas are in Tagalog. So that's pretty cool. Of course everyone loves them here, because Apl is Filipino. Our next baptism is Princess Cacayuran which her baptism date is set for October 18.
Yesterday we were down at Maluno Sur and it was about to rain and they were drying corn so we had to hurry and sweep all the corn back into the bags. I think I have pictures of it. We also cooked a dinner for that former bishop but he still hasn't attended church. We reactivated 2 members this week.
Yes one of my zone leaders were transferred and the new one is just fine. I get along with all of them. This week I asked this guy, Brother Pete, if he could get me a machete.(Brother Pete is basically the black market dealer for missionaries he gets you anything anything you want authentic Filipino) He said that we still has one from back when he was in the Vietnam War and I could have it if I liked it. So next time he comes to our district meeting I'll have my machete officially. Happy Birthday mom. 

Love Tanner. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 6&7 - 1st Baptisms for my Birthday

Benito Soliven

Sep. 21, 2014
This week I got to baptize the first investigator. His name is Mark Elmo Yakkitan Hermoso. It was way fun. For my birthday I withdrew the money grandma gave me and we bought stuff to make cakes, a soccer ball, and a sweet hat. Then we had a ninja fight and a bunch of other stuff, but it was a fun time.

Sep 29, 2014
Mark Elmo, the person I baptized is a 17 year old that used to be from the Church of Christ. He's awesome and has gone out with us twice now. He's an amazing fellowshipper and he's planning for a mission too. He's a real strong guy. We had another baptism last week. Brother Ashley Naval. He's a 12 year old. He lives with his Grandma and Grandpa who are both active members. Both Ashley and Mark are great examples. Our next baptism is planned for October 18th. Sister Princess Cacayuran. The language is coming quick. I can now actually converse with people normally. Everything else is going great.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 5 - 1st Typhoon in the Philippines - Luis

Benito Soliven

Shout out to myself for my birthday.

Also shout out to my Grandma, Britt and Cam, and Hadley who all sent me Dear Elders this week. 

Had typhoon Luis this week. It wasn't too bad, but we still weren't allowed to leave the apartment. So after church we just sat on our porch and watched the wind and the rain. It was pretty cool. The church was also open all night for the families who didn't feel safe in there house, but from what we saw this morning it doesn't look like there was much damage. It sucks though, because even if there was damages, we wouldn't be able to help, because of safety reasons. Like if there was a fallen power line or something.

So I'm going to try to upload some more pictures. Mostly of the kids that live around our apartment. They always come over and hang out with us after work, or on p-days. 

This week we will have our first baptism. Next week we will have another and then another one the week after. So It's a pretty exciting time. 

My spiritual thought for this week doesn't come from the scriptures, but is important just the same. Everyone always looks at the world and themselves through the eyes of other people. People are more concerned with how they look, how they appear, or how they can make themselves look better to someone else. Not only is this a completely and utterly incorrect way of thinking, but it is inevitable destructive. When you are trying to impress someone by changing yourself you will be working your whole life. When you do something right most people won't notice, but when you mess up people will tell you that you are dumb, that you are stupid, or that you have no idea what you are doing. In Mosiah 4:30 we read 'But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts... ye must perish.' We must watch our thoughts. We must be continually watching our thoughts, watching ourselves. We must always be lifting ourselves up. We must learn how to find our way back, because someones not always going to be someone there to lift you up, but if you can learn how to lift yourself up. If you can learn how to use the scriptures, learn how to effectively pray, and forget what others think of you, and "continue in the faith in what ye have heard concerning the coming of the lord even unto the ends of your lives." It's so important to watch our thoughts and what we are thinking. When you start thinking negative thoughts, remember what you have heard about our savior. Remember what he did for us. Remember that he knows how we feel, and remember how completely pointless it is to impress these people, but remember who we really need to impress. "O man, REMEMBER and perish not."


Monday, September 8, 2014

Week 4 - The Ber-months

Benito Soliven

This week Tanner just answered questions in his email.

Mom: So I hear that the Filipino's start celebrating Christmas early?  That is where I need to live!  haha  Ashley Raymundo said they start celebrating Christmas as soon as Halloween is over.

Tanner: Of course the Raymundos would say that XD Nah they actually start in the 'ber' months. So starting in September. This month people started saying merry Christmas and the ZLs allow Christmas music. So yeah it's been pretty exciting. It pretty cool outside 90 degrees and only 80% humidity.

Mom: Are you guys doing anything fun for P-day? How's the language ? Are you teaching anyone?

Tanner:  Today we are going to go play football with some Ilagan ward members, the ZLs, our DL and his comp. The language is great. I'm not stressed about it. At Bonito Soliven it's real hard to get appointments past six and we're not allowed to be out past 8 since it gets super dark at 7 and there are no street lights here.

Mom:  Football sounds like fun. I'm glad the language is going well.  Well that sucks that you have to be in so early. What the heck do you guys do for the rest of the night?

Tanner:  Well sometimes we stay at members houses near our apartment other times we just prepare for tomorrow. Could you send a pic of the family every keeps asking to see one.

Mom:  It sounds like you're in a tough area, so hang in there.

Tanner:  I love my area. My area is probably the hardest in Cauayan right now, but we are turning it we've doubled the attending members since we've been here.

Mom:  That's awesome about the members attendance! I'm sure they love you.  Are your clothes
holding up ok?

Tanner:  yeah I had to get new shoes, but everything else is fine.

Mom: Good. What kind of shoes? Do you ever wear shoes or do you just wear crocs and sandals?

Tanner:  I wear sandals sometimes, but you need slip on rubber shoes here, because whenever you go into someone's house you have to take your shoes off, so its much easier if you can just slip into them and then the rubber is water proof, so that helps.

Mom:  Do you need extra money?

Tanner:  Yeah I just need to buy some new books, because I have to learn another language.

Mom:  What other language do you have to learn?

Tanner:  Ilocano it's similar, but different enough that you can't understand a single thing they are saying.
Mom:  Sounds like fun. Haha. Are you getting yourself any souvenirs? Are things very expensive there?
Tanner:  Yeah I'm getting a few things. Things are super cheap over here. Like before I leave I'm just going to give away all my missionary clothes and stock up on stuff.
Mom:  Hahahaha. Sounds like a plan. I can't imagine you wanting to wear those clothes when you get back. Do you still have those investigators? Anyone interested in baptism?
Tanner:  yeah we have 5 Baptismal dates atm. plus 2 other progressing investigators. 
Mom: Holy cow! That's awesome! Are you guys going to be doing the baptisms? How do you find these people?
Tanner: yeah of course. Just from tracting, referrals, and oyming
Mom:  Well keep working hard. You don't have to write a huge email every week but let us know one thing that happened that week, please.  your Family needs to hear about it. You're awesome, we love you. Have a great day!

Ilagan District
Elder Bautista, Sister Dela Torre, Sister Vaelua, Sister Lange, Sister Nambengu, Elder Marcelino, Elder Taer
Elder Sison, Elder Indino, Elder Thorpe, Elder Swensen, Elder Tuiloma


Monday, September 1, 2014

3rd week - Working hard in Benito Soliven

Benito Soliven

So when I'm  in street clothes a lot more people ask me for money. Kinda weird. This week its still been raining everyday. Also I'm pretty used to the heat now. It feels weird to go into an air conditioned room. 
This week was pretty exciting, because we have been working pretty hard in this area for awhile now, and it's been awhile since Benito Soliven has seen a baptism, but this week we had one of our investigators who we thought was ready and we got him his Baptismal date, but then after we taught 4 new investigators for the first time all four of them said they wanted to be baptized and we got them dates as well. So great things are happening here! I love it.
My spiritual thought for this week is about how God always puts us through faith tests before we receive blessings. Like Job, who lost everything, but stayed faithful. God won't bless you right off the bat it takes that constant showing of faith before he really shows you his power, So keep pushing. 
Love y'all
     Elder Swensen
P.S. I got Britt and Cade thier b-day present, but I don't know if I want to send it or just keep it till I get back.


Monday, August 25, 2014

2nd week - Sharing the love

Benito Soliven

Shout out to my comp. Elder Bautista! It's his birthday today!
Elder Bautista eating Balut
So not much new on the culture. This week has been raining a ton though. Luckily Cauayan are doesn't get hit by typhoons very hard. All the mountains around us help, but its rained everyday for at least an hour or two and then right after the sun comes out and all the water on the ground is gone.
We've been recently visiting one of the former bishops who's been inactive since 2008. His house is about an hour and a half walk away and you have to take a boat to cross the river too, but we've been to his house twice now. The first visit we just met with him asked him why he doesn't come to church and we were basically just checking sup in his life. So he was saying that he just wasn't feeling the love from the ward members. He said they never visited him just because he was so far away and he understood and all that, but he was still pretty sad. So yesterday after church we got all the YSA and a couple young men and women to go down with us to teach and visit. We met with him and he started crying just because he was so happy and he said he would go to church next Sunday. So that's awesome.
Filipinos are all way to nice. When we go tracting everybody always lets us in and gives us food and then lets us set a return appointment. If they don't want to take the lessons anymore they just hide when we come by. So it's kind of a struggle.
The spiritual thought this week is all about service. Service is huge here. Everyone helps everyone out and it's just great. Mosiah 4:16-18
 16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
 17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
 18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
And I forgot my Camera again..... but I have plenty of pictures so I promise to bring it next week.

Monday, August 18, 2014

1st week in The Philippines!

Benito Soliven

Shout out to my sibs who had their birthdays this month. Thanks to everyone who sent me packages or mail while at the MTC! It was dope.
So my area is Benito Soliven. Our apartment, looks like every where else in the Philippines. The food is all pretty similar. Rice, with pork or chicken with all kinds of sauce. The streets are flooded with ugly street dogs. After rain, their are tons of frogs and we occasionally see snakes. Ants just always live in the apartment and we get big cockroaches every once in a while. We get mice and rats pretty often too. Mostly the weather is just hot. but when it rains it pours, and that's the best because it drops like 10 degrees. Going to the bathroom is done without toilet paper just a bucket of water and your hand. A shower is a cup of water, and our AC is an electric fan. 
I can't take any pictures this weeks because I for got my Camera cord and there is no place to insert an SD card. 
All the people here are great! My comp is Elder Bautista and he's awesome. We speak Tagalog mostly all the time and this week I will start leading lessons. Other than that, our bishop was sick this week, our 2nd councilor is inactive, so the only one at church was the first councilor. It's just such a struggle for poeple to make it to church because our area is massive and The people don't have much money for transportation. 
We don't have many investigators now and only one progressing investigator, but he's a good guy. His name is Brother Elmo and he speaks pretty good English so its really easy for me to teach him, because it hard for e to convey and sort of spirit across Tagalog just because I don't know it well enough right now, but Brother Elmo's l;lessons are great and we have 2 lessons with him this week. 
Just about to finish the BoM again. I just finished Mormon, and it just made me think of how good a man Moroni was and I think it was because his father was such a good man. SO thanks dad for raising me properly.

That's all I have this week.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Flight to the Philippines

So Tanner flew out to the Philippines on Thursday August 7th.  He called us that morning from the SLC airport. It was good to hear from him after 6 weeks and he was excited to finally be on his way to the Philippines.  He was flying to Detroit, then Japan and then to Manila.  Basically over 24 hours of travel time.   Unfortunately, our call got cut off and that was the last we heard from him for the next 11 days. We were able to track his flight online so we know it got to Manila safely.  We trusted he was safe and that he was in good hands, but we had no idea where he was.  For the next 6 days all of us were anxious and eagerly awaiting any confirmation that he was ok.

Finally on Wednesday of the next week, we got the attached letter from his Mission President when he arrived at the mission home.

Dear Family of Elder Swensen,

We are happy to let you know that your son arrived safely today as a missionary in the
Philippines Cauayan Mission. After his arrival we had a welcome luncheon and orientation
meeting. I also had the opportunity to have a wonderful interview with him before he met his
prayerfully selected companion and trainer.

Elder Swensen will be serving in Ilagan. Enclosed is a map on which we have marked the
location of his first proselyting area. He will be working with Elder Bautista who will carefully
train and introduce Elder Swensen to missionary work in the field. We encourage you to write
your son every week. Please share positive, uplifting messages that will support and help him
stay focused on this sacred work. Such contact from home can build a great foundation for a
successful mission.

This is a wonderful mission and we are grateful to have Elder Swensen here. The new
missionaries always bring with them an exciting and special spirit. Please know that we will
watch over him with great concern. We have been praying for him for several months now and
have looked forward to serving together. We know that with your support and encouragement,
he will progress and strengthen beyond your expectations and develop a great love for his fellow
missionaries and the precious people he will serve, teach, and bless.

May the Lord bless you for all you have done to help Elder Swensen prepare for this mission.

With warmest regards,
President George R. Rahlf
Sister Lori C. Rahlf

What a relief that letter was.  Apparently he stayed at the Manila MTC for a few days until he flew to Cauayan on Wednesday.  Attached were the following photos of his Mission President and his wife, his new companion, Elder Bautista, and a map of his new area, Benito Soliven in the Ilagan Zone.