Saturday, December 29, 2012

Feliz Navidad - Round 2

Elder Schwartz wrote us a short note on Christmas eve, which I mentioned in the last post.  He had sent some great pics, which we enjoyed.  He mentioned to us that he would be trying to "Skype" us at around 2 or 3pm our time (PST) on Christmas day.  Fortunately, I had left my laptop on from early in the morning with Skype opened up -- Phil had gone in my bedroom and noticed the laptop beeping (ringing) as we were preparing to have some breakfast later in the morning, long before we were expecting to hear from him.  Elder Schwartz was trying to contact us!  It turns out that Elder Garcia was trying to skype his family and they live in Spain (where it was already quite late in the evening).  So they had arranged to both make their calls at the same time -- for us earlier in the day, and for Elder Garcia's family quite late at night.  It all worked out....  During the skype session, at first we only heard his voice (no video of him) and he was able to see us, but after some maneuvering on his end we could see him.  He was using an iPad, loaned to him by some members in his ward, on their wifi network.  The only problem was, that he could only get the back facing camera to work on the iPad.  When he had the camera facing him (so we could see his face), he couldn't see us, since his face was to the back side of the iPad.  He brilliantly solved this dilemma by going into the bathroom and using a mirror -- so he could see us and we could see him.  It worked great, and we spent the better part of a couple of hours visiting and laughing, and having a wonderful time with seeing him and talking to him. The first thing we noticed is that Elder Schwartz has a slight accent to his speech now, when he speaks in English.  He thought that was absurd when we mentioned it to him -- but it is true, nevertheless.
Below are some pics from our visit...

Here is a short video clip of some of our skype session.  Do you hear any accent?

Click here for a short video of part of our "Skype" session.

In addition to sharing with us what he has been doing, Elder Schwartz, recounted how Christmas is different in Chile.  He said that instead of Santa, in Chile there is the "Little Old Man of Easter" (literal translation of the Spanish), who visits the children on Christmas Eve.  Kids leave their homes for a short time on Christmas Eve, and when they return, gifts have been left for them.  Then they stay up all night playing with them outside in the streets.  Hard for some elders to get a good night's sleep.

He also mentioned that one of his favorite parts of Christmas was sharing the Schwartz family Christmas video that we made last year while we were all together.  He said that the families in Chile that he told about it (and then they watched it on YouTube) really got a kick out of it.  Here is the link for that fun video (again):

Link to Christmas video

Elder Schwartz asked me to thank you all for the letters and packages and your love and support that he feels all the way down in Chile.  His family thanks you all as well.  Muchas Gracias!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas -- Feliz Navidad!

Elder Schwartz's email this week was very brief -- just a note to let us know when we will be able to talk to him (or Skype, perhaps) on Christmas Day.  He sent some cool photos which will be posted below and he has this message for everyone -- MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Gifts from Elder Garcia and me for members and investigators

Christmas Gifts to share

Me and my biggest fan, Jacinta

Match game with Valentina

My wall by my bed

Snow in the summer in the Andes

Our Bedroom

Our Christmas tree fell down!

With Elder Garcia and his teacher from the MTC

Monday, December 17, 2012

Staying in Geronimo!

Elder Nate's address, latest e-mail and some photos:

Elder Nate Schwartz
Chile Santiago East Mission
Pedro De Valdivia 1423
29 Santiago, Region Metropolitana

Dear Mom, Dad, family, friends,

Firstly, and MOST importantly, changes just happened this Saturday and guess what!?!?! I'M STAYING HERE IN GERONIMO!!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Elder Garcia and I get to stay here, and I am very, VERY happy about that.  Geronimo is my home here in Chile, and I am very lucky to have the opportunity to be spending a 3rd of my mission here!!!!!!!!!  There are rumors going around the mission right now that this upcoming change is going to be 10 weeks instead of the normal 6 weeks because of all of ther changes going on in the MTC and training time being shortened, and all of that.  I'm not sure if the rumor is true or not... but I hope it is.  Elder Garcia and I are getting along really well, and there is work to be done here in this sector.  That's the greatest feeling for a missionary -- having a full schedule every day -- love it, love it, love it.

WOW!  IS IT REALLY JUST A WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS?!?!  It really does not feel like a whole year has passed since last Christmas.  Time is going so SO fast, it's incredible.  It's good to hear that the brothers made it home safely (from BYU).  Be sure to send them my love.  I am really looking forwards to talking to you all soon!  ABOUT THAT!  Here is the deal:  we have two options of doing this..... we can do it just like a normal phone call, but what a majority of the missionaries are planning to do is Skype.  SOoooooooo, if that interests you at all we can do that :) .  Elder Garcia and I already have our Christmas day schedule set up with several families here in the ward who have invited us (bless their hearts), and we have a mission activity on the 24th, too.  Make sure that Dad brings his laptop or Andrew's Macbook, or Ipad, or whatever so we can do Skype, if thats what you guys want.

This was a pretty good week.  Nothing too extraordinary happened, but it was great nonetheless.  It went by really really fast for some reason.  We spent a lot of time this week doing service for the members.  We painted Hermana Julia Diaz´s ceiling, as she told us stories from when her husband was mission president in Antofogasta and they spent three years up there, and that was really cool.  We painted The Gonzalez Family's fence while Paola Gonzalez told me all about Sao Paulo Brazil.  She's from the mission where Andrew is going to be serving..... I just wish that he emailed me so I could tell him all of the amazing things that I learned about his mission ;)...... From everything that she told me, Andrew is going to be very happy where he is going.  His mission is a lot bigger than mine.  He has the temple in his mission, and the church is really strong there and growing.  He's going to eat a lot of black beans and rice.  It's really humid and hot, so he's going to be wet for two straight years.  Just like everywhere else in the world, there are both rich areas and poor areas, but nothing too dangerous.  The one problem is that because its so hot and humid, people basically don't wear clothes there, or very little clothing, soooooooo........ yeah.  

I did interchanges this week again with my buddy Elder Anderson, but this time I went to his sector.  It was the first time I left my sector in like almost 4 months, so that was nice.  It was nice being with a gringo for a little bit of time, but I missed my Elder Garcia.   

Elder Garcia and I have been spending all of our free time (which is like 1 hour each day) making Christmas cards and baking m&m cookies for the ward members and investigators here in this sector.  It is Elder Garcia's idea, and it is turning out super, super well.  Mom, I can make a batch of cookies all by myself -- you taught me well.  We are going to try to give them to the members every night this week by doing a doorbell ditch kind of thing, but it's a lot harder to do that in Chile because every house has a big ol' fence..... Oh well, we will see what happens.

On Friday, Elder Garcia and I did some deep cleaning and totally rearranged the pension.  It has a much more homey feel to it now, which I like a lot, because before it kind of felt like i was in the military or something, but we put up a bunch of pictures and changed around the furniture and stuff, and now coming back to the pension after a long day is really, pleasant.  Also, on Friday, I heard about the tragedy in Conneticut, and I am praying for all of the families that were affected by it.  It is so, so sad that things like that happen.  It gave me a stomach ache for a while.  I hope everyone back home is okay.  Friday night, Elder Garcia and I taught a lesson to a new investigator named Patricio, and it was such an INCREDIBLE lesson.  At first, we were kind of nervous to teach him because it seemed to us like he just wanted to bible bash and debate gospel points, but when we entered his house and just sat down and started talking and asking him about his beliefs, things just went amazingly.  As he talked about what he believed and felt, I couldnt help but crack as smile because EVERYTHING that he said was doctrine.  He basically recited to us the thirteen Articles of Faith, that God is a god of love, that we are His children, that our bodies are the most precious gifts that we have, that we shouldn't worship the virgin mary, that after the apostles died so did God´s authority, that God has a plan for us, that there was a pre-existance, and that all the things around us testify that there is a God.  WE DIDN'T SAY ANY OF THAT, he did!  It was such a cool lesson and I am looking forward to teaching him again.  Rodrigo and Javier are both doing well.  Javier has a baptismal date, but he's still having little issues quitting smoking, and Rodrigo is still reading, but it's been hard to teach him because I'm pretty dang sure that he and his wife are about to get divorced..... Eduardo is still progressing really well and on Friday night he asked us about baptism.  He's going to be a member (of the Church) before the end of this change.  I am very grateful for all of these people that I have the opportunity to share the Gospel with, and it is such an amazing blessing that I have to be able to see their lives change right before my eyes, and if that change isn't a testament that this church is true, then I don't know what is.

Thank you so much for your weekly letters, and your love and support.  I am vey much looking forward to talking to you on the 25th, and I hope that youre all having a great time during this Christmas break!  The Church is true!  Keep being amazing!  I love and am praying for all of you!

Until next week!
Elder Schwartz

Monday, December 10, 2012

Brother's Mission Call

Elder Schwartz just got the news today about his brother Andrew's mission call to serve in the Brazil Sao Paulo south mission starting near the end of April 2013.  He is excited for his little bro as you can see below:

Here is a clip of the call opening:

And Elder Schwartz's email:

Dear Family and Friends!
BRAZILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Is he so incredibly excited?  He better be!  He´s going to be basically my next door neighbor. the only thing seperating us is Argentina.....  But seriously, I'm so proud of Andrew, and he is going to be an awesome missionary.  Cindy is back in Utah! :,(  It's okay though; I'll see her again in twentyish months!  She is an amazing missionary, and I still have a lot to learn from her example.  She sent me a whole bunch of care packages right before she left that I'm still getting every week.  Super sweet!  I hope that you get home safely from the East Coast, Pops and I hope that the service (for Uncle Charlie) went well.  SO, Andrew is going to go back to school for a couple months, and then end early?  Still going to live in heritage or what?  What's the plan?  The MTC in Brazil eh?  I've seen some pictures of the MTC in Brazil.  It's a pretty fancy place!  I'm very excited for him.  Oh, and thank you for the video link.  It was SUCH A GOOD VIDEO; you should post it on my blog ;D  Congratulations to all of you sister missionaries out there.  La obra misional needs all the help from the sisters that we can get; they're just like us guy missionaries, but better in basically every way.....

Well, this week was dang busy for me,
It started out right after I ended my letter you you guys last week.  Elder Garcia and I went to the chapel to practice a musical number that he was playing the piano for, for our zone conference on Wednesday.  Long story cut short -- they manipulated me into singing with them, and Elder Garcia decided not to play the piano, so we all sang acapella.  NEVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE WILL I DO THAT!  So, we spent a lot of Monday and Tuesday practicing. We sang Lead Kindly Light/Divina Luz, in this English/Spanish mash up kind of thing, and it was ME, Elder Garcia, Hma Hardman and Hma Achucarro (sister missionaries), and in practices, it sounded pretty dang okay.  But when Wednesday finally came and we were in front of all of those people, we kinda really crashed, and it came out super bad (not just saying that).  But I learned a couple really good lessons from that experience, 1.  I'm never going to sing the song Lead Kindly Light ever again in my life and, 2.  I want to take singing classes at BYU when I get home.
Aside from that, the other musical news of the week was that on Saturday, we went to the temple with Eduardo to see the choirs, and much to our surprise, the show was featuring special musical guest, Elder David Archuleta.  So that was pretty stinkin cool.  He´s a really good singer.  He sang ´´The Prayer´´(more popularly done by Celine Dion and Josh Groban) with this one girl, and my heart melted...... sooooo dreamy.  He's no Josh Groban, but he did a really good job, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, Eduardo had a really really good time.  He also came to church on Sunday.  He is progressing FAST and well.  And do you want to know the secret?  He has member friends that are helping him along the way.  He has that support from other people -- SO IMPORTANT.
The zone conference went really well.  It was long, but we learned a lot.  The main focuses were on the importance of working with the members and asking for references.  There was a really good quote by President Wright that kind of really caught my attention and Elder Garcias attention which, was, "Every member is a missionary, and every missionary is a member."  WOW, why didn't that click sooner!  This is MY ward these members are MY fellow ward members.  I need to be a part of this ward if I want the support of this ward, so that's something that Elder Garcia and I have been trying to do more of over the past few days.  Today we bought a bunch of ingredients and we are going to make cookies for a whole bunch of members.  If the members here are anything like us missionaries, the best way to get to their hearts is through their stomachs ;D
I did some service on Tuesday and I would love to give a special thanks to John McDonald and Teri Wygal for helping to prepare me.  I spent a good 2 hours sanding chairs with Rodrigo (one of our investigators), and all that i could think about while I was doing that was when i was back working at Chairs for Affairs doing the same exact thing, to basically the same exact chairs.  Rodrigo was very impressed with my sanding skills that I picked up from John and all of those dang pinewood derby cars.  So thank you all for preparing me for my mission! 
Sadly Im running out of time, so im going to wrap the letter up here, and I'd just like to end with an invitation for all of the people out there reading this who have their mission calls.  It's the same invitation that I sent to Andrew a half hour ago:
"I have a request for you: Right before cindy left for Utah she sent me a big envelope full of talks by general authorities that she highlighted and wrote on. It was a super sweet gift, but out of these talks there was one that stuck out to me like no one's buisness; its called ´´the 4th missionary´´ and here is the link to it. 

The Fourth Missionary

What i would like you to do is, print it out and take a pen and a highlighter and read it (it's a long motha, 24 pages, so you're going to have to dedicate a good hour or so to doing this).  When you are done reading and dissecting it, I want you to set some personal goal on what you are going to do as a missionary based off of what you learned from the talk.  I just read the talk 2 days ago, and it's full of information that i wished that I knew going into my mission, especially about our purpose as missionaries.  It will help you out a lot."
Thank you all so much for all that you have done and are doing for me.  Thank you for your support -- it means a lot.  I know this church is true and that the happiness and the blessings that it brings into people´s lives are REAL.  The only way we can expect to get blessings is from actions of faith, and that's a lesson that i am learning every day,  Have a very merry Christmas.  Stay safe.  I love you all.
until next week,Elder Schwartz

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Already.....?

Elder Nate Schwartz is enjoying his time in Chile. 

He loves hearing from all of you.  Please write if you get a chance:

Elder Nate Schwartz
Chile Santiago East Mission
Pedro De Valdivia 1423
29 Santiago, Region Metropolitana

He sent an email this week and some photos:  

Dear Family!

What?  It's December already?  When the HECK did that happen?  Time is going by so fast!  I'm happy to hear that the transition from Thanksgiving break back to the normal routine went well for everyone, and I am SO EXCITED FOR MY BABY BROTHER TO GET HIS MISSION CALL THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!!  They grow up so fast :´)  I look forward to seeing him here in Chile in 4 months ;D

This week went by pretty well.  Nothing too extraordinary happened, but it was great nonetheless.  First, an answer to your questions Dad:  the Mapuche are the native people here of Chile, the Lamanites, the Indians; they are the Inca's next-door neighbors.  There is a really strong Mapuche history here; lots of mapuche pride, it's pretty cool.  But when I said "Mapuche stuff" in my last letter, I was referring to ponchos, andes bags, wood carvings, pictures, jewelrey and little do-dads like that.  And "onze" is a meal that we have here in Chile.  The biggest meal of the day here is almuerzo (lunch); breakfast and dinner are both pretty small, or nonexistent, and then onze is the last meal of the day.  It's like the before bed snack, where they have bread or little sandwiches or something small like that.  People usually take onze as a family, and talk about their day and stuff, but its usually pretty late, like at 8:30 or 9:30 at night.

This week I had the opportunity to do splits with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Martinez.  It's always a lot of fun doing that.  For this split, he came here to Geronimo and we had a good time.  I definitely learned a lot.  He shared this really cool spiritual thought in one of the houses that we visited.  It was on Grace, about what Grace is, and it's role in our lives.  A lot of people, both inside and outside of the church have heard this word grace tossed around, but not a lot of people know what that word truly means.  David A. Bednar gave a really good talk on Grace, and he gave a really good definition, too, for anyone who wants to research it out, and I reccomend that you all do so :D

On Thursday we had suprise guests at our District meeting, President and Hma Wright!  It's always a pleasure to see them, and it was interesting, because at the end of the district meeting he spoke to our zone for a little while, ALSO about Grace.  It was kind of the theme of my week, and he shared Helaman 12: 24.  It had the phrase "Grace for grace" in it, and then he spoke about how we need to give grace to receive grace, and give mercy in order to receive mercy during and after this life.  So that's something that I'm trying to apply more into my life -- grace.  

Oh, also Thursday is mail day, and my whole zone was kinda mad at me because I got 7 letters.  THANK YOU ALL!  Getting the love from my friends back home is so, so, so cool. Anthony Kirlwald, you´re an Angel and I love you.  I once again did another major writing session this morning.  So, those of you who wrote me and haven't gotten letters back, just wait, they´re coming, I promise.

Saturday was really cool because Elder Garcia and Javier and I were able to go to the temple and see a choir show that they are doing there, and Javier loved it!  It was really cool; they set up this outdoor theater and they had a spectacular youth choir and dancers.  People gave short little Christmas themed discourses, and the temple was all lit up with cool lights (it was no where near as cool as the Oakland temple, but still cool). There should be some photos of it attached.

Sunday was a really nice day.  Elder Garcia and I got ready and left early for church to help to wheel Hmo Quiroz to church.  Then, when we got there, much to our surprise.... ALL OF THE SEATS WERE GONE.  They were all in storage because the youth of the other ward that uses our building had an activity Saturday night and no one bothered to set the chairs back up....... And now I understand why Dad made me stay late at all of those church activities to take everything down and set it back to normal, so things like what happenned yesterday DON'T happen.  Elder Garcia and I had to set up all of the chairs for the whole ward basically by ourselves.  Members started showing up when we were almost done and they helped us out.  Eduardo came for the whole 3 hours and had a really really good time.  He met some members and they got along super well, and he is excited to come back next week.  Just like you said Dad, people who have friends that are in the church to help them are so much more prepared to receive the gospel.  Really, the way things are looking, Eduardo seems like he's already a member.  We had a really good leadership meeting about that yesterday, too.  It was with all of the ward mission leaders and the stake mission leader and we discussed that the best way to help people to become interested in the church is through the members!  THE MEMBERS ARE THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE MISSIONARIES!  Go help your missionaries!  

Anyways, there is more that I want to write but I am all out of time.....Drat!  Thank you all so much for your love and for your support.  I miss you all, and hope that you're having a wonderful holiday season.  I am here down in Chile.

The Church is true!

With love, 
Elder Schwartz

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello Everyone!  We have a new email from Elder Schwartz.  Some pics are included and also a link for a library of pics sent back on a memory card -- just received today.

Dear Family, and All!

Thank you for the great photos, and it sounds like you all had a really really nice Thanksgiving in good ol´ Martinez.  It's good to hear that Mom is feeling beter and that the 49ers are still winning.  Everything seems to be going really great back home which is good to hear.

Yeah, Thanksgiving here in Chile wasn´t anything too special.  Elder Garcia and I did what we could to celebrate it, with a Papa Johns Chicken Pizza for lunch (that's kind of like turkey...right?),  and then we took onze (?????) with an inactive family later in the evening.  We, withHermana Julia Farai, and her son Rashid, and his girlfriend (I don't remember her name) all had turkey sandwiches and ice cream.   Elder Garcia and I shared a short message about he importance of being thankful and everything was great!  The situation of the family is really sad though. Hma Julia has been inactive for 4 or 5 years ever since her son left he church and is now athiest.  At first whenever we went over to their house, Rashid would go upstairs or in the back yard because he didn't want anything to do with us, but over our past 4 or 5 visits he has stayed and talked with us, and reads with us.  We are starting to win over his comfort and trust.  On Thanksgiving night he went on for a half an hour about when he was active in the church, when he was in young men/young women's program, and when he was deacon's quorum president, and stuff like that.  It was interesting -- his mom might think that he's really, really far away from the church, but I think there's still a little fire in him.  

Anyways, this week has been super good, with all the usual business:  district class on Thursday, and English class Wednesday night.  We visited with Javier last night, and he is still doing well, still going to church, still reading.  This past Sunday was the Primary (children's) program in sacrament meeting, and actually a new investigator named Eduardo came with a friend from his work.  She invited him to come, so he came, and now we have a lesson with him on Wednesday!  He had a really really good time.  He has a daughter who is  young, so he really enjoyed the primary program.  The Pino family is doing better.  They were going through a pretty rough time over the past couple of weeks, but now they are doing much better.  Also they want you and Mom to fly out here at he end of my mission, so you can meet them.

We spent a majority of this week in houses of the members as well, but this week we put a focus on the leaders of the quorums, and of Relief Society, and the Primary, and all of that, finding out who they think we need to visit and what we could do to help them with their callings.  In our spare time, we were going down the ward list.  Our ward list has 700 people on it, but only 120 come to church on a regular basis, tops.  So there are a good 600 members out here that aren't receiving blessings!  This is what most of the work is down here in Chile, reactivating, because apparently in the 1980's or something Chile had the most baptisms in the world, but people need to understand that here is a diference between baptizing people, and helping people become actually converted to this church.  A number is a number, but real missionary work is helping souls come to Christ.  The transition of lifestyle for a recent convert is SO, SO, SO, SO, SO important and if it doesn't go smoothly, if they dont feel supported or acepted by the ward, they fall away, go inactive.  There are about 14 "recent converts" in this ward but only 4 are coming out to church on a semi regular basis.  Elder Garcia and I were able to talk the bishop into visiting with us yesterday, and we had a meeting about this; that his ward neds to be a ward family and this ward needs to get excited for missionary work, or else this ward isnt going to grow, its going to shrink.  He was totally on board, and understands that the sucess of missionary work starts with the ward.  So, that is going to be mine and Elder Garcia's focus over these next several weeks, uniting this ward and getting them excited!

Today was a really nice PDay.  We went to this place called Santa Lucia, and I took lots of photos.  We actually went with my old comp, Elder Garcia and a few others.  We bought some cool mapuche stuff and ate a lot, and it was a grand time.  I spent a good portion of my morning writing letters to some people who sent me leters or dearelders.  Expect responses in the mail!   ERIN BAUMGARTNER SENT ME THE COOLEST PACKAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, and I got it on Thanksgiving day, so that was really cool, too. Getting a Thanksgiving present -- that hardly ever happens.

Anyways, I love you all.  I miss you all.  I'm praying for you all, and I'm super excited for Andrew to get his call.  I know this church is true, and the blessings that it can bring into our lives are 100000% real!  Keep being amazing, and I can't wait to hear from you all next week!

With Love, 
Elder Schwartz

P.S. Christmas stuff -- I would absolutely love a nice little package of PHOTOS.  I really do love photos (and if you could tell that to the public too).

Some great pics below.  Also, see this link for lots more photos that Elder Schwartz just mailed home and are now posted on a picasa site.

Santa Lucia


Cool fountain


Another cityscape

I own this place!

Me and my chilean girlfriend

with "new" Elder Garcia


More elders

Monday, November 19, 2012

Elder Garcia -- Old and New

Elder Schwartz seems to be loving Chile and the people and his companions.  His address, latest email home, and some photos are below:

Elder Nate Schwartz
Chile Santiago East Mission
Pedro De Valdivia 1423
29 Santiago, Region Metropolitana

Dear Mom, Dad, and the rest of the fam, and everyone else,

Thanksgiving!  Yay!  It is sad to hear that mom is not feeling well, and I hope that she gets better soon (she is better now -- just a stomach flu) ; she works too much.  I think a little time of rest will be really good for her.  Its good to hear that youre still exercizing pops.  From the photos, you look younger than me!  I think im gaining all of the weight that you lost.  The food here is too good! (except pan de pasqua, which is fruit cake, and EVERYONE eats it here during this time of the year, and it's SO nasty)  But be proud, I havent turned down one dish yet.  Elder Schwartz, the picky eater is conquering his fears of food!  Speaking of food -- back to Thanksgiving.  What is your plan for thanksgiving?  Andrew told me that he is going back to MTZ so are you all having thanksgivng at the house.... errrr what?  I'm not sure if I'm going to have a Thanksgiving out here..... I'll let you know how it turns out though.

Well, this was a very busy week for Elder Garcia and me.  We spent a majority of it with the members, both active and less active, helping him to get to know the ward.  My oh my, Preach my Gospel chapter 9 is right, that if a missionary wants success in his sector, the best way is through the members, working with the members, helping the members.  MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH HAVE SUCH AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN MISSIONARY WORK!  HELP YOUR MISSIONARIES!!!!  HAVE LESSONS IN YOUR HOUSE!  SPREAD THE WORD WITH YOUR FRIENDS AT WORK!  Elder Garcia and I have a full schedule this week of things to do and people to see: family home evenings, service, meetings with investigators and members of the Elders Quorum that are going out with us, Priest going out with us; it's going to be a very good week.  

This letter isnt going to be super long, as I don't have too much time, but I am very excited to hear that Andrew;s papers are in.  MY LITTLE BROTHER IS GOING TO BE A MISSIONARY!  That's basically all that I tell people.  Uhmmmmm, let's see what else happenned this week...... Oh!  Monday night after I said my personal prayers, I pulled over my covers to jump in bed and there was an envelope there waiting for me.  I was a little confused when I first saw it, and my first thought was the tooth fairy, but it was even better than that -- it was actually a really, really nice letter fromy my old Elder Garcia and his Peru Tie -- I just about cried.  I learned a lot more than just Spanish from my first Elder Garcia and I was very lucky to be his companion.  He taught me very early on in my mission that loving and serving the people that you teach is the key to this work.  Even after he left the sector, he suprised me with how great of a companion he was.

The Old Elder Garcia

This new Elder Garcia is equally as great.  He is from the south of Spain, and is from a family of five, similar to us:  both his older brother and his older sister served missions, his dad is bald, and he has been a member his whole life.  His Spanish is really, really good; he pronounces everything so clearly, and is very easy to understand.  I included that because typically Chileans don't speak real Spanish, they speak chileno.  If a word ends with the letter "s", they don't pronounce it so when they speak, it really just sounds like one big, long word, and they use a lot of modismos too.  That makes it a little harder that what they are saying literally doesnt make sense, but it makes sense to them because it's slang.  SO, I am very happy to be with this Elder Garcia.  He is helping me out a ton with my Spanish, and he's just an all-around really, really good guy.  Like I said before, he's not as loud and open and talkative and as much of a jokester as the other Elder Garcia, but we are still having a lot of fun.  He's very smart, and very clever, very witty, and very musical as well.  He can sing and play the piano really, really, really well and that has been a lot of fun.

Our investigators are doing well.  The Javiers are still progressing and so is Mario.  We meet with all three of them twice a week, and this week we are going to do more service with Javier.  He's really really interested in the book of Mormon, and he wants to find out if its true, but he wants to know that it's true before he gets baptized.  He wants to know it better, so we are helping him with that.  I sent a photo from a basptism that we had yesterday from a less active family, the family Barraza-Salas, and they are great.  They are relatively new to the ward, having just moved here in May, and so its been kind of hard for them to transition into this ward from their old one.  Elder Garcia and I are trying our best to help with that because really this family is so so dulce.  

With New Elder Garcia at a baptism

I know that this Church is true.  I know that Heavenly Father has a reason for me being down here.  I know that he has prepared people for Elder Garcia and me to help, all we have to do is find them.  I know that Christ is our Savior, and that without His love and Atoning sacrifice, we wouldnt be able to experience the happiness that we do every day in this life.  I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, and that all we have to do is trust in Him and in His plan.

I love you all so much.  I'm praying for you and rooting for you.  Stay busy and stay awesome, and have a great Thanksgiving.  Until next week!

con amor,
Elder Schwartz

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Same Area, New Elder Garcia!

Elder Schwartz is so appreciative of all your letters.  Thanks for writing him.  Here's his address and latest email home.......

Elder Nate Schwartz
Chile Santiago East Mission
Pedro De Valdivia 1423
29 Santiago, Region Metropolitana

He couldn't get his camera connected to the computer this past week, so he took a shot with the webcam on the computer......

Dear Family,
Sounds like this past week has been a big success for all of you.  It sounds like you´re having a great birthday vacation down in southern California, Mom and Dad.  I hope you make it home safely, and that you sent Grandma Moffitt and Walt my love.  Various members of my ward wish you a happy birthday too.  I told basically everyone that we visited yesterday about your special day,  What an awesome experience that you had in the temple Mom! And I bet that your Spanish was great.  My first experience in a temple session in spanish is one that I will never forget, being down here with basically all of my first ward in Geronimo --
these people really are special!  OH MY GOODNESS MARISSA!  If her call isn't a blatant sign to the world that mission calls are inspired, I dont know what is.  That girl must be so so excited.  And Arthur is already in Cambodia?  Wow, the time flies so fast!. I bet he's loving it out there, that trilingual stud.  Keep me posted on the process of Andrew´s call.  (Andrew's mission application papers were submitted last week).  I'm praying for that boy multiple times a day.  How's Phil doing?

Well, as you have guessed, yes, there were some changes that happenned down here.  To set the stage for the changes, I'll let you know what I wanted to happen; that was for me to stay here in Geronimo with Elder Garcia.  In the mission, a greenie´s first companion  is called their  "Dad" and the new missionary´s second companion is called his "Mom". Elder Garcia trained me, so he was my "Dad", but sadly this morning we had to part ways as he got moved to another part of the mission as District leader. He´s going to go on to do great things.  He was a really good trainer and companion and friend and I'm going to miss him a lot but I know theses changes were inspired, so everything is going to be all right.  I'm staying down here in Geronimo in Zona La Florida but with a new comp, and youre not going to beleive this, but his name is Elder both my "Mom" and my "Dad" in the mission are named Elder Garcia.  How weird is that!  But really, I am super excited, and we are already getting along super well.  He´s from Spain!  My wish came true, I'm staying in Geronimo with Elder Garcia.  He´s super cool -- I've talked to some of his old companions today and they all say that I struck gold with him as my companion.  He´s been a member his whole life, and he only has 7 months left on the mission, so it is most probable that he is going to end his mission here in this ward.  I am once again in an amazing situation, and I really couldnt be happier!

This week went by really well, but sadly I don't have my journal... again, so im going to have to retell it all from memory.  Really, all that is coming to mind is two or three things that happenned.  The first is a lesson that Elder Garcia and I had with a new investigator that we have been teaching, named Julio.  We met him through a reference from a neighboring ward.  Elder Garcia and I have passed by his house probably four times before, but either he wasn't home, or his wife said he was too busy, but this Tuesday we finally were able to meet with him, and we had a really really awesome lesson.  He told us at the end of the lesson that he is going to have a lot of doubts and a lot of questions, but he wants to do this "mormon thing," because he knows that it's right and he knows that its what's best for him and his family.  He told us that we are going to need to have patience with him because the shift is going to be hard, but he really, really wants it and it's so easy to see.  So, we have lessons set up with him for the next several weeks and the NEW Elder Garcia and I are really excited to visit him.  That was Tuesday. We did some service for Javier on Tuesday, too.  Since he lives alone, and his house is a little- not well kept.  So, we cleaned up his jungle of a lawn for him. On Wednesday I once again had the opportunity to teach English at the chapel, which I love, especially because now two more of the people that come to that class are coming to church on Sunday.  They are Mario and Juan, so english class is not only fun, but the time is worth it too, which is something that I was worried about earlier on.  Friday night we had a ward talent show, and both of our investigators named Javier came, and I learned one really important thing about Chile that night......  On the flyers it said that the activity started at eight, but here in Chile, everything starts at least 10 minutes later than when its supposed to.  It makes being punctual really hard, especially when as a missionary, I like to show up ten minutes early.  So, Elder Garcia and I showed up to this event with our investigators at 7:45pm, and the dang show didn't start until 8:50!!!!!  Come on Chile!  I felt so bad for the Javiers, but they both had a really good time. They both really like music, and there are some really really good singers in our ward.  On Saturday morning right after exercises, we got a call from Jose Linco, our ward secretary to give us the buena noticia that Elder Garcia and were invited to give talks in sacrament meeting on Sunday....... My nightmare became a reality -- I had to talk in front of my whole ward for 25 straight minutes.....IN SPANISH.......  But it actually went really well.  I spent all of my study time that morning writing it out. The subject  was The Atonement, by the way, not the easiest topic to give a talk on...... But Elder Garcia helped me out a lot and it went really well.  All of my nerves left me as I was standing at the podium, and I just talked and smiled, and smiled and talked, and it ended up being a really good growing experience for me.  The members were so sweet afterwards -- everyone knew I was dying of nervousness, but there is this thing that they talk about in D&C called the gift of tongues and IT'S REAL!  TELL EVERYONE.  Elder Garcia and I spent Sunday afternoon with Daniel (I'm not sure if you remember, but he is the kid who almost died; who was not active in the church, but is now preparing to serve a mission.  He wants it to be a surprise for his mom, so keep it a secret.) We went with him to our neighboring ward, Vicente Valdez, where guess what, his sister is there as an active member.  When SHE saw him at church all dressed up this week, she started to cry and get all excited and emotional.  Watching this kid's progression really has been such a blessing.  At the baptism, I got to see President Wright and Hma Wright for a little while, and they told Elder Garcia (old Elder Garcia) and me all about our changes and new companions and sectors, and that was really nice.  And then Elder Garcia and I finished the evening visiting members of the ward eating, and Elder Garcia saying goodbye to all of them while trying not to cry.  Today we had the changes meeting, and now I am here at the Mall with new Elder Garcia and a bunch of other missionaries from all over the place -- some familiar faces, but mostly new ones.  I got to see Elder Matthews today, my comp from the MTC; he´s a sweetheart, doing big things down in the ghettos of Santiago.

Anyways, that's basically it.  I'm still here in Geronimo, my first 4 changes of my mission, very happy, not stressed out, and ready to work, ready to lead this sector, and help light some lives.

I know that this is the true church restored on the earth today and that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us, wants to help us, and wants us to be happy.  I know that trials come into our lives for a reason, that God has a specific plan for all of us, and that when we need comfort and when we need peace in our lives, we can receive those necessities through the grace of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I know that He is our Savior and I know that we can only return to live with our Heavenly Father through following His example and His Gospel.  I am really thankful for this opportunity that I have to be here in Chile, in reality, sharing love and happiness with the people around me.  Don't get me wrong, I miss home and I miss you all a lot, but I know that I am in the right place right now, doing Heavenly Fathers will.  I'm praying for you all.  Keep being amazing, keep me updated, and I can't wait to hear from y'all next week!

con mucho amor, tu hijo, misionero y amigo,
Elder Schwartz