Friday, May 25, 2012

Week 3, MTC

Some excerpts from Elder Schwartz's latest email: 
This was yet another successful week here at the good ol' MTC.  The spanish is coming well.  I'm taking it a step at a time but I can definitely comprehend the language a lot more than I was able to before.  I can almost carry on simple conversations! Hola, me nombre es Elder Schwartz.  Soy de Martinez California.  Me gusta comer los burritos...  Me gusta gatitos y jugar futbol americano.  And that's about all I know so far.  I know with time and dedication and much prayer, I'll be able to get it down fine.  I really can't believe that it has been almost 3 weeks!  It really seems like I just got here yesterday.  The time is flying. 
This week we had two devotionals, and they were both equally amazing.  The first was on Sunday from the President of the Provo Temple and he bore such a strong testimony that the temple is the house of the Lord, and that miracles happen in temples on a daily basis.  The second speaker was Elder Rasband, from the presidency of the Seventy. He's the one that gave the talk on how missionaries are called. He's a fantastic speaker.  He spoke to us about teaching with the presence of the Spirit and how to qualify to have it.  He gave us a 3-step formula, the first being to bridle our passions; that when we left for the mission field, we put our personal passions on a shelf for two years while we are here to do the Lord's work.  The second was to let virtue garnish our thoughts; that if we are always thinking of clean things, we will never fall into transgression and will be more sensitive to the Spirit.  The third step was to pray to Heavenly Father for assistance, and that if we sincerely pray for the help of the Spirit, Heavenly Father will bless us.
The MTC is an amazing place and I am blessed to have the opprotunity to come here to grow in the Gospel.  I love my zone, I love my district, and I love my companion; I really am blessed.  I see people from BYU and from home on a daily basis.  I saw Elder (Cody) Brinkerhoff a couple days ago.  Sadly, I didn't have my camera, but next time I'll snag a photo with him.  I see Kelly all the time; it's awesome (and yes, I got a photo with her).  It is so nice to see so many framilliar faces as I walk through the halls.
I know that I am in the right place and that Heavenly Father has a specific reason for me to be here at this time. Yo se que El Libro de Mormon es el palabra de Dios y su Hijo Jesucristo es el Salvador.  Yo se que Jose Smith es un profeta de Dios y Thomas S. Monson es un profeta de Dios hoy.  Yo se que la Evangelio es veridad.  La Evangelio benedice mi vida en muchos caminos diferentes.  Amo la Evangelio y mi familia.  Gracias.

Since I don't have any photos of Elder Schwartz in the MTC yet, I'll post some very old photos of other elders, including some Elder Schwartzes from 30 years ago.... least until I get some current pics of the current Elder Schwartz.....

Elder Steve Schwartz circa 1979.  Notice the vest and simple name tag.  I ran into him at a BYU fireside on a Sunday evening and got a pic with him...

This was shortly before I entered the MTC in April 1980.  Elder Steve was getting ready to leave for La Paz Bolivia.

This is my MTC district (minus me) in front of the fountain by the Provo temple.  Half of our district went to Rome and the other half to Milano.

These are two elders from my district studying in the MTC.  Elder Thomas (left) was my MTC companion, a rancher from southern Colorado.  Elder Wilson was the funny one (right).

Seeing missionaries in the MTC was a bit easier 30 years ago.  Shortly after I returned home from my mission in April 1982, my brother Elder James Schwartz was in the MTC and cousin Carrie Lynn and I found him one day and snapped a quick photo with him.  He was getting ready to depart for Munich Germany.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week Two...Settling In

This week's email from Elder Schwartz: Wow this week has been busy!  But I guess I better be getting used to it because thats going to be my life for the next 2 years!     My companion is great, his name is Elder Matthews and he is from Wisconsin. He's great, very strong spirit and easy to get along with, and we complement each other well while teaching discussions too!  We share a room with 2 other elders in our district, Elder Nelson and Elder Peterson.  Elder Nelson is going to the Guatemala, Guatemala City Central Mission, and he leaves for the MTC down there in a week. Elder Nelson, Matthews and I were in a 3 way companionship for a little while before Elder Peterson came into the picture.  Elder Peterson was my Zone Leader when I first arrived at the MTC, and I looked up to him instantly. He has a way cool spirit about him and is just an awesome person in general.  He was supposed to be leaving for the field with the rest of his district on Monday of this week, BUT he has to get surgery so he was delayed for 3 more weeks. Yes that news got him down because he was so excited to leave but it really was a blessing for our district and me, because now he is in all of our classes and he is my new roommate!  So it has been amazing having him around, we have learned so much from him and it has only been a few days.  Our district is growing so close together, and it has only been 1 week. We really are just like a good group of friends, when it's time to play, we play, and when it's time to get down to business, we work.  I am really blessed with the district I was placed in, and the zone too.  Our zone does this thing where every night before we go to bed we go room to room and give each other hugs, and it has been really nice feeling so welcome, so fast.  Even our branch presidency does it too!  After every meeting our branch presidency goes around the room and gives all of the Elders hugs.  I remember after my first interview with President Steward, our brach president, we stood up and I put my arm out to shake his hand and he said, "Elder Schwartz, we don't shake hands in this branch... In this branch we hug." and gave me a big ol' bear hug.   I have seen so many people that i know here and it's been awesome!  On Tuesday I got to see Kelley working security for the devotional and that was so nice!  I got to give her a big old hug, all of the other missionaries were way jealous, and on Wednesday I ran into Matt Bell in the Cafeteria!  Sadly I didn't have my camera with me, but next time I'll be sure to get pictures with both of them!  Almost every day I run into someone who instantly knows that I'm Phil's little brother and they throw their arms around me and ask me how it's going. That's been really nice.  A lot of Phil's friends work at the MTC apparently, and I love it.  And i've been running into friends from BYU around almost every corner, I got to see Elder Rice (Chase) on Wednesday and talk to him for a little bit, and Elder Smith (Declan) lives in the room directly below me!  Todd lives in my building too so I see him multiple times a day!  It's hard for us to call each other Elder Schwartz and Elder Baer, but we're getting used to it. The spanish is going well, I'm starting to be able to piece together a few sentences, but I've got a long ways to go!  I don't know if i told you about my investigator, Fernando, in my last letter, but Elder Matthews and I have been teaching him for the past week and have really been struggling to communicate (8 days of spanish), but he is way awesome and warm and funny and just a cool guy.  Hermano Brown and Hermana McGuire are awesome teachers and l have just kinda clicked with them instantly, which is really nice seeings how we are in and out of our classroom 16 hours a day!   On Tuesday we had our first devotional, and Elder Hunt (My district leader) and I waited outside in line for like 30 minutes to get a good seat, and the wait was well worth it for multiple reasons!  The first being, Kelly was there to greet me at the door and the second being, THE SPEAKER WAS L. TOM PERRY.  It was so cool being able to learn from him.,  he spoke on the priesthood being restored (Because May 15th is the anniversary of the priesthood being restored) and bore an amazing testimony at the end of his talk. The spirit couldn't have been any stronger.  After the devotional, we had a district meeting with a member of our branch presidency immediatly after the meeting that turned into a testimony meeting and that was an awesome way to end the night.   I want to thank you all for the letters and packages that you send me and the prayers that you have, it really does make all of the difference knowing that I have so many people supporting me back at home,  I love you all, I'm praying for you every night, and I wish you all the best!  I know that I am in the right place and that Heavenly Father has a specific purpose for putting me in this district, in this zone, and in this mission.  Thank you and I can't wait to hear from you all next week!   Love, xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox,   -Elder Schwartz  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lots of Familiar Faces

Some glimpses of the MTC by Elder Schwartz reveal that around every corner there, a familiar face is found. According to the snail mail received today, Elder Baer, Elder Palmieri, Elder Neumann, and several elders from the BYU ward have been encountered. This morning via text we have our first look inside the MTC, as Elder Schwartz ran into one of Phil's friends who is teaching there. A photo op was presented...and taken...and through the miracle of electronic communication, we have our first look at Elder Schwartz with a name tag...

Saturday, May 12, 2012 last!

On Wednesday, Elder Schwartz said good bye to brother Phil in Provo and entered the Missionary Training Center.  We finally heard from him today.  Some excerpts of his e-mail follow:

Hola mi familia!

     That's about all that I've learned in spanish so far... but thats fine because I have 9 weeks left to learn!  It's day four here at the the MTC and it already feels like home, it was amazing how quickly my zone took us new guys in under their wings and showed us their love and appreciation and care for us right off the bat!  As of right now I am in a 3-way companionship with Elder Matters from Wisconson (accent and everything..... he calls soda "pop")  but I love him nonetheless, and he will be my companion for the entire stay here at the MTC, and then there is also Elder Nelson, who is only going to be my companion for 3 weeks before he leaves for the MTC in Guatemala.  Last night we taught our first lesson in spanish and it was spectacular, I mean, my spanish was awful, but the experience was absolutly amazing, and the teachers here are spectacular.  Yes I am the only kid in my class with no spanish experience, but I'll catch on in no time.  
     Thank you all for your "" messages.  It reallly is a nice treat to come home to letters from your family and friends at the end of a long day. 
     I know that I am in the right place and Heavenly Father has shown me that through numerous examples already.  Don't worry about me being happy or feeling comfortable here, because I truly am.  I love you all and thank you so much for your support, and love and affection.  It's been only 3 days and I've already grown so much; the MTC really is a place like no other.
     Sorry this letter was so short.  I promise a longer one next week!  There's just so much that my companieros and I have to get done!  I love you all and miss you all.  Send everyone my love!!!!

Elder Schwartz

Elder Schwartz will be sending us messages on Friday, so we'll try to get them posted here soon after.  He will be sending some pics by snail mail that we'll scan and post for you all.

Here is some contact info for him:

Elder Nathaniel Lee Schwartz
MTC Mailbox # 181
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793


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Elder Nate Schwartz is going to Chile Santiago East mission and he will be in the MTC-Provo for the next 9 weeks.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ready, Set Apart, Go!

 Last night, Nate met with our stake president, President Tim Score and with hands laid upon his head, was "set apart" as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Now known as Elder Schwartz, he is a representative of Jesus Christ and will serve the people of Chile over the next two years.
The family in town (sorry Phil) was able to be there with him and we then shared a meal together with John and Virginia at a family favorite spot in Martinez, Sunflower Garden.  
Elder Schwartz is unsure of if and when the next Chinese meal will be while he is so far away in Chile.
 On the way home, he was pleased to spot some warm wishes from our good neighbors Hannah and Ian.
 Then some hug-less farewells with good friends.
 And finally, this morning, warm good-byes with mom....
 and brother, Andrew...
and poppa...
before heading to the airplane to Salt Lake City with fellow elder and childhood friend, Todd (Elder Baer). He gets to see brother Phil in Provo, before entering the missionary training center (MTC).  May God be with you until we embrace again in two years time.  We know you will be a great missionary.