Saturday, June 30, 2012

Final weeks at MTC

Since everyone important is in Provo right now, once again a chance encounter occurred.  Everyone (Andrew and Elder Schwartz) look well.  P-Days are great!

The latest message from the Elder.......
Buenas Dias Familia!
I can't beleive that i only have a week left! The time is going TOO fast.  It's scary, but I am WAY excited!  I feel like I have grown so much in such a short amount of time!  I still have a ton to learn and I need to stay focused on this last week so the momentum can carry over to when I land in Chile!  Yes I get to call you from the airport!  I'm not sure how I am going to go about doing that, but I plan on calling the home phone, right?  I don't have my travel plans yet but I will probably get them later today so I'll give you more information about that in next week's email.  It's so weird that I'm getting ready to leave.  I honestly do feel like I just got here, but apparently that's what the whole mission is like.
This week I had the opportunity to meet my Mission President and, OH MY GOSH, he and his wife are AMAZING.  We only met for about an hour but I already feel like I've known them for a long time and I feel like we are going to be able to mesh really well!  We met with them last Saturday for about an hour and a half and they shared with us their backstory and shared a few scriptures and had a question and answer session.  It was very uplifting and very comfortable.  I know that I am in this mission for a reason and that he is my president for a reason and I am so excited to serve.  I know that president Wright and his wife are going to play a major role in my mission experience and I am so blessed to have them.  I am SO looking forward to building my relationship with them.  OH, and there are like 25 missionaries in the MTC right now going to my mission!  I had no idea there were that many!
This week's devotional was super special.  Elder L. Tom Perry gave is this really cool presentation of all of these statistics about the Church and members, and our programs, and how great of an influence that the church is on society.  It was a really different devotional, but it was super cool.  I think that you'll have the opprotunity to see the same presentation in the near future.  OH, and like 8 apostles were on the stand with him when he gave the presentation!  Sadly, we didn't have the opportunity to hear from any of them, but they were there, which was pretty dang cool.
Having the new missionaries as roomates has been way fun!  Their names are Elder Bryce and Elder van Neck, they're both from Arizona and they're a tornado of positive energy and are eager to learn and serve.  They have already grown so much and it has only been one week!  Their fresh excitement about the MTC has definitely rubbed off on Elder Matthews and I, which has been a definite plus.  They have a lot of questions and Elder Matthews and I try to help them out the best we can.  It's been a ton of fun helping them learn to to pray, and testify, and speak.  I'm loving it!
I'm grown a lot closer to both of my teachers this week, Hmo Brown and Hmo McAllister are studs, and I'm getting to know thwem both better on a more personal level which has been a ton of fun.  Hmo McAllister led this really cool activity yesterday about how we can better study our patriarchal blessings and I felt like I was opened to a whole new world of blessings from my patriarchal blessing that I hadn't noticed before.  It was really edifying.  I have 3 pages left in my reading of the Book of Mormon, so I'm probably going to finish it right after I finish my letters.  I've learned SO much from reading it through completely.  Yesterday I read through Ether 12, definitely one of my favorite chapters in the book.  I learned a ton.  Last night I had a one-on-one coaching session with Hmo. Brown and we talked about my growth since I've been here.  We talked about my strenghths and my struggles as a missionary and it was super helpful.  Hmo Brown is one of my best friends here at the MTC, so we're going to try to keep in touch after I leave.  That man is a superb teacher and example and a major factor in why I've had such a great MTC experience.
I wish you all the best with everything that you are doing.  I love hearing from you and I love getting your notes and packages.  I love all the support that you have given me.  I can feel the love and strength, and it is so helpful.  I know that this is the true Gospel, it has blessed my life in so many ways and I am just now starting to understand them.  I am thankful for all of the amazing examples that Heavenly Father has blessed me with, and I am thankful for the Perfect example, Christ, and his undying love for me.  I am thankful for the opprotunity that I have to share the message oft his Gospel that has blessed my life so much to the people of Chile.  I can't put into words how excited I am to get out there and share Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness with the world so they can feel the same blessings that I have in my life.  Yo se que el Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios.  Yo se que eso libro es la clave de nuestro religion.  Yo se que mediante la evengelio de Cristo, podemos volver a Dios dispues de este vida.  estoy tan agradecido por las muchas bendiciones que Dios da me diariamente.  Amo mi familia mucho.  Estoy muy agradecido por sus amor.  Estoy entusiasmado a escucho de ustedes en la proxima semana.  Hasta luego!
Les amo!
Elder Schwartz

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weeks Flying By.....

Que pasa Familia?
I am getting so stoked to go to Chile!  It's right around the corner!  It has been a really busy week (But what else is new, right?)  Yes my district is finally the oldest in the zone and it's been amazing!  Elder Matthews and I moved rooms, again, and now we are rooming with 2 brand new elders in our zone.  They've been at the MTC for 3 whole days!  It really does feel like I was in that situation yesterday.  They have a lot of questions and concerns and Elder Matthews and I are just doing the best that we can to make them as comfortable as they can be.  Early wednesday morning before they arrived, Elder Matthews and I decorated the room with sticky notes and candy and we made their beds and stuff and they really liked that we did that.  I know that having new elders as roommates is going to be an awesome experience.
Our devotionals this week were from Sister Sheri Dew and Elder Robbins of the Seventy, and they were both AWESOME.  Every devotional is awesome, but these two were fantastic.  Sister Dew talked about the blessings of the spirit and its role in our lives as missionaries, and Elder Robbins gave a killer devotional about receiving revelation and recognizing that revelation.  This week I had the opprotunity to watch a video of a talk that Elder Bednar gave here at the MTC about receiving revelation.  He told this story about being in the mission field and having to take Elder Packer to a train station and receiving revelation about that situation.  If you can, look it up.  Both President Packer and Elder Bednar have given talks about that same story and it's an amazing one. 
The espanol is coming along suprisingly well.  This was a big week of growth for me in the spanish language and a lot of things just clicked for some reason.  This week we learned about this tense called "subjunctive" and a lot of missionaries get stressed out about it, but for some reason it made a lot of sense to me right off that bat.  My pronunciation is getting a lot better, I've been reading out loud a lot more and that has been helping me out.  For the past week or so, when Elder Matthews and I go to teach our progressive investigators, I just take my scriptures in spanish, a little sheet of paper with scripture references on it, and thats it.  The language barrier is slowly but surely crumbling, and it's a great feeling.  The fact that I don't have to put so much of a focus on the spanish just gives me more time and opportunity to focus on the investigator, and his needs and how we can better invite him to come closer to Christ and that has really been showing in our lessons recently.  Hermano Brown, the best teacher in the world, has pulled Elder Matthews aside on multiple occations to thank us for our lessons and how much he enjoys them and  how he can see the spirit guiding us in them.  He told us that he loved being taught by us because he can feel the realness of our intentions and how much work we put into them.  That was amazing for Elder Matthews and I to hear and it really made our week.  It's hard to get feedback from our progressive investigators, so when we heard that we were ecstatic.  It's great to know and see that changes in our investigators and how much the gospel has blessed them in such a short period of time.  Hermano Brown's investigator, Rodrigo, is awesome and last night we set a date for him to be baptized.  The MTC is so cool!!! 
Our new teacher Hermano McAllister is a stud too.  He's way smart, way funny, and he and I just kinda clicked right from the beginning.  We've only had class with him twice, but he has been doing an awesome job and i've already learned a lot from him.  The MTC does an amazing job hiring teachers.  Every single teacher that I've had, I've been able to get along with really well and it's been a great experience for me.
For gym, they have a little track that I run on with a couple guys from the zone.  I try to run 2 miles then do the P90X ab workout thing with some of the guys and then with the spare time after that I play 4-square or volleyball (depending on how tired I am).  You're technically not supposed to keep score, but things get pretty dang competitive in that gym.  A bunch of guys in ym zone played rugby before their missions and they're trying to get me to play when I get home.  I might look into it!
The food here is great!  I was very suprised actually that its a very high quality cafeteria with all you can eat.  I'm loving it... maybe a little too much.
My entire district is going to Santiago East, all 8 of us.   Hma. McGuire said that we will be a "whole generation of that mission".  I'm not really sure what that means but I'm assuming that it means that we are the only eight going to Santiago in that transfer.
I get to meet my mission president TOMORROW! (He is here for the new mission presidents seminar.) I'm so excited, I'll take a ton of pictures and tell you all about it next week!
Sadly I am all of of time for this week, thank you all for your love and your support.  It's amazing to already be seeing the blessings of this mission.  I know that I am doing the Lord's work and he is helping me 100% of the way.  I know that this is the true gospel, and I know that it changes lives; it's changing mine every day.  I can't wait to land in Santiago and I can't wait to hear from y'all next week.  I love you all so much!
Elder Schwartz

Some fun pics with Elder Schwartz (or his facsimile) from Andrew's grad party......

Saturday, June 16, 2012

MTC Life -- Week Five

Elder Nate Schwartz is loving the MTC.  He appreciates all the support he feels from family and friends.  You can write him at:

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

Or through "".

Here is the latest from Elder Schwartz:

This week has been great, like always, a ton has happened!  Grandma sent me an email that I absolutely LOVED, and quickly responded to.  Tell her thanks and give her a hug for me please :)  Ah!  I can't believe that Andrew is graduated!  There is no way that it has been a whole year since i had my grad party.  Time needs to slow down!  I am confident that he'll find a job in Provo, He'll have a blast with Phil.    That's so awesome to hear about Matt Cain! (pitching the perfect game).  That's amazing! Go Giants!  Keep me posted.
So much has happenned this week!  One of my teachers (Hermana McGuire), has left to study abroad in Africa.  She was awesome and I'm gonna miss her. She really connected well with our district and I think we are going to have a tough time making that kind of connection with her replacement, but I wish her the best.  There haven't been very many sightings of new people, just the usual Elder Baer, Elder Rice, Smith Elder, Foster Elder (friends from BYU going to Hungary -- fun fact: in Hungarian the "elder" comes after the last name).  We are now officially the oldest district in our zone!  It's crazy!  Now we are the district that is helping the other districts with their spanish, not the other way around.....yikes!  It's okay though, I think that we know a lot more spanish than we think we do......if that makes any sense.  The teaching is going well.  We have set a baptismal date with one of our progressive investigators and the other is SO close.  We are also doing this thing in our class where we get the opprotunity of being progressive investigators for other missionaries so I've been doing that and it's been way fun receiving the lessons for a change.  Every Tuesday we do this thing called TRC (Training Recourse Center) where we teach members that volunteer to come to the MTC and receive lessons from missionaries.  It's been a ton of fun, this Tuesday Elder Matthews and I taught an elderly Mexican couple that were in town for their grandkid's baby blessing.  I have a lotttttttttt more spanish to learn, that's for sure.  The lesson went really well, but I really need to work on my pronunciation. I am starting to read the Book of Mormon in spanish out loud to work on that, and I feel like it's helping.
This week one of our devotionals were from Brother Allen, duke of missionaries or some crazy title like that, (We've had a devotional from him once before) and he talked abhout the importance of being yourself and having strong companionships.  He showed us a series of old LDS commercials that were really cool/well done/funny.  That man has an excellent skill of getting the audience's attention.  Our Tuesday devotional was from Elder Malm of the 70, He's from Sweden.  He stressed the importance of faith and acting on that faith in the mission field and in life.  He did a stellar job.  Devotionals are hands-down my favorite aspect of the MTC.  Apparently this next Tuesday we are supposed to have someone big here to talk to us (I have my fingers crossed for Elder Holland or Bednar, but anyone would be great) :)
Do you remember in my checklist of things to do before going to the MTC?  One of the thing I had to do was watch 3 episodes of "The District 2" online.  The District 2 is this series, almost reality TVesque, about missionary work.  It's a really well done series and if you get the chance to watch it, you should.  We watch clips from it in class every day.  Anyways, this probably isn't a big deal to you all but it is for people in the MTC,  one of the guys from The District 2 works here.  His name is Elder Christiansen, and he was in the cafeteria, so Elder Clawson (this stud from my zone) and I decided to go sit with him and talk with him.  (This is the MTC equivilant of sitting with Tom Hanks in the outside world). Everyone was really jealous and it was amazing.  My zone got a kick out of that and next time I see Elder Christiansen, I'll be sure to take a picture with him for you all.
Anyways!  I'm out of time and there's a long line for the computer so I need to log off.  I love you all so much and thank you for your prayers, your support and the example that you set for me!  I know this is the true Gospel, that it changes lives and that everyone needs to feel the blessings from it!  I love you all so much and I can't wait to hear from you next week!
Xoxo, Elder Schwartz

Friday, June 8, 2012

Midway through MTC Stay

Pictures have arrived!  Elder Schwartz has shipped a memory card home.  Here are some MTC photos....
Our first pic of Elder Schwartz with his MTC companion Elder Matthews from Wisconsin.

Here is the email message from this week:

I still can't believe that Andrew is graduating tonight!  I just graduated!  Wow does the time fly.  Give Andrew a big hug for me and tell him that hid big brudda is so proud of him :')  Oh and he better take a nap today, grad night takes a lot out of you.  He's coming to Provo soon, right?  It's great to hear that you're recovering from your surgery well Pops.   Elder Peterson had the same surgery as you at about the same time as you so I know how tough that must have been.  Elder Peterson and I were living in the same room at the time and every 3 hours throughout the night Elder Matthews and I had to make runs to the cafeteria to get him ice, and he couldn't walk very well for a few days, he was basically bedridden.  Now he's fully recovered and left for Carlsbad on Monday morning, and Elder Nelson left for Guatemala too. (Elder Nelson was in a 3-way companionship with me and Elder Matthews for the first 2 weeks).  In our district we do this really cool thing where we sing "Hasta Ver" (God be with you till we meet again) to the missionaries the night before they depart to the mission field.  There's a lot of crying involved, its really sweet; we did that for Elder Peterson and Elder Nelson on Sunday night.
This week Elder Jensen of the Seventy and Brother Doty were our devotional speakers.  Brother and Sister Doty discussed the life, love, and example of Christ and how we need to strive to be more like him.  He told the stories of many of Christ's miracles and how they werte able to be because of the faith of the one's receiving them.  He made it very clear how vital faith is in our work as missionaries, it was a great devotional.  Elder Jensen (who is soon being released) simply shared with us advice about maximizing our missions through stories and examples from his life.  He was a great speaker with an awesome sense of humor.  He made a very interesting point that one day everyone that we affiliate with in this life will know what we know (the Gospel), and they will know that we knew about it too.  That hit me really hard that there a lot of opprotunities that i've already passed up, and also that our standards and beliefs are shown through our actions too, so even if we aren't literally teaching people about this Gospel, we still are just through our behavior.  Devotionals are one of my favorite parts of life here in the MTC.
Regarding the pictures:  We have THE BEST service job at the MTC, we get to clean showers.  I know that doesn't sound very appealing, but it is.  The best way to explain it is basically that I'm a ghost buster for 75 minutes every Thursday.  We get these huge hoses with gun-nozzles attached to the end and we shoot pink foam at all of the showers out of them and then rinse them down with water and scrubbers.  Its a good time.  I'll have to send you guys a picture of me using the spray gun sometime. 
In the pictures with us with headphones on is in the TALL lab (Technology Assisted Language Learning).  It's a kind of really outdated program but it's helping me a lot with my pronunciation.


The spanish is coming along muy bien.  Both Hermano Brown and Hermana McGuire have told me during coaching sessions that they're really impressed with how fast I'm picking up the language concepts, so that's a good thing.  The conversation is flowing a lot more naturally in our lessions with progressive investigators; no more awkward silences or major mispronunciations.  I don't use spanish notes anymore, but I bring my pocket dictionary just in case. Oh!  But here is my dumb moment of the week:  I was asked to give the closing prayer in class yesterday which was fine because I've said like 1,000,000,000 spanish prayers since ive been here, but instead of saying "we thank the for this beautiful day" (Estamos agradecidos por este dia bonito), I said "Estamos agradecidos por este dia novia" which translastes to "Thank you for this day, girlfriend!"  everone laughed, and it was kinda really embarassing, but whatever!  At least I did it here and not in Chile!
I saw Kelly again this week, we talked for a good half hour, she told me a little about her mission in Germany and gave me the updates of the NBA playoffs.  It's great seeing framilliar faces.  I haven't seen anyone new lately, but apparently Grant Jones is coming in this Wednesday, so I'll be sure to snag a picture with him.  I've will have officially been here for a month tomorrow, boy has the time flew.  Only one more month until your son is in CHILE!  I'm so excited.  By next weekend my district will be the oldest one in the zone, we'll be the top dogs here. Weeeeeird, i feel like i just got here.
My reading of the Book of Mormon is going by swimmingly.  I just finished Alma 20, so I just finished the story of Ammon and King Lamoni, wayyyyyy good story.  I want to be as good of a missionary as Ammon was, maybe without cutting off people's arms.  Anyways, I'm getting more revelation and insight from reading from the Book of Mormon this time than I ever have in my life.  I am actually learning from the stories and applying them to my investigators and my calling.  I really am doing what I hoped, by developing a stronger knowledge and relationship with the Book of Mormon. 
 Thank you all so much for your prayers, you're love and your support.  I love you all so much.  I know that I am doing the Lord's work.  I'm growing a lot and I can't wait to share my message with the people of Chile!  Talk to y'all next week!
xoxo, Elder Schwartz
A few more photos......

Happy to get lots of mail....

Our zone in front of Provo Temple

Me and Matt Bell.  He teaches here at MTC

Me and Elder Cody Brinkerhoff

"Chance Encounter" with big brother Phil
Happy to see a nice picture of my little brother....

Click here to see more photos from the MTC.....


Friday, June 1, 2012

MTC week four

We got an email from Elder Schwartz today and shortly after this photo showed up on my phone.  Big brother Phil ran into our Elder Schwartz near the Provo Temple.  We are super happy to see these two fun brothers get a chance to see each other before our elder leaves for Chile.

Here is some of his latest message:
Thank you all so much for your love and support!  This week was equally as amazing as the past three.  I can't believe that I have been here for almost 4 weeks!  The time is flying,  it really does feel like Phil just dropped me off a few days ago.  In a little more than a month I'll be in CHILE!  The spanish is coming along really well!  I still have tons to learn but I am picking up the grammatical concepts really quickly and am not at all overwhelmed or stressed about the language. 
 A lot has happenned this week.  On Tuesday we had a devotional from Elder Zwick of the Seventy.  It was inspired.  He talked to us about the importance of the Book of Mormon in not only our purpose of missionaries, but in our own personal lives as well.  It really hit me.  After every devotional we have a district meeting with a member of our Branch presidency to discuss what we learned, this meeting usually always turns into a testimony meeting and one of the most powerful hours of the week.  This past week in our district meeting, Elder Peterson spoke first.  Elder Peterson has been in the MTC for 13 weeks, he was supposed to leave for Carlsbad three an a half weeks ago but because he got surgery, he had to stay in the MTC for some extra time.  He's really wise and is an awesome example and addition to our district (he was our Zone Leader when I first arrived).  The guy is a total stud.  Anyways, he stood up and told our district that he had grown up around the Book of Mormon his whole life but he had never read it all the way through by himself before entering the MTC.   He just finished the Book of Mormon a few nights ago and bore a testimony of its truthfulness like I have never heard before.  One by one each member of our district stood up and said that they haven't read through the book completely and that they need to do so to fulfill our missionary purpose.  We set a district goal that night to have everyone finish the Book of Mormon before leaving the MTC, I set a personal goal so finish it in 2 weeks, Right now im on 2nd Nephi 22, trying to read 50 pages a day.  At the close of that district meeting Brother Barker of our branch presidency stood up with tears in his eyes proclaiming the strength of our district and how unique we are compared to any district he has instructed before.  He told us that the spirit that we brought the the zone was so strong and that he know that we are going to do great things in Chile.  It was an amazing experience.
Last Sunday Elder Matthews and I had the opprotunity to bless the Sacrament, in spanish!  It was way cool.  Sundays here at the MTC are the best!  After Sacrament meeting we get to walk around the temple grounds and enjoy the surroundings and talk and sit in the grass and take pictures.  Its really pleasant, and then Sunday nights we have awesome devotionals too.  This past Sunday we had a devotional from Brother Allen, head of the missionaries, or some crazy title like that.  He gave a way cool talk, very different than normal.  It was very interactive, lots of questions and answers, asking people to stand up if they have been in certain situations.  It was really cool. 
This week I got a letter from Dan Lynch, and Phil also wrote me this week, a very nice long letter to lift my already good mood.  I love hearing from you guys throughout the week!  The support really does mean a lot to me so please keep the letters comin'!  I saw Kelly driving around in a security kart yesterday morning and I got to talk to her for a while which was great!  She told me all about the going to California for Ben and Caitlyn's wedding.  Sounds like a blast!  When you all see her, please thank her for me, He really has enhanced my experience here at the MTC a ton.  It's really reinforcing to see someone you know so well every week, and not too many missionaries get that luxury.  I also saw Matty Bell yesterday, and yes I took a picture with him so be sure to send me a memory card for my camera so I can send the one that I have now home to you!
I have been extremely blessed with my teachers here at the MTC.  I have team teachers (similar to Mom and Sister Bell in seminary), Hermano Brown and Hermana McGuire, they are both amazing.  I feel like they are not only my teachers, but my friends too.  I personally feel like I have a close personal connection with both of them, like I have had with some teachers in high school but CLOSER, and that has made all the difference.  Every week we have individual coaching sessions with one of the teachers and mine are always the longest because we just talk and talk and talk, I love it.  Brother Brown served his mission with the Justin Moses from PH2 ward, so if by chance you run into him, tell him "Joel Brown says whats up". 
I know that Heavenly Father has put me in this district, in this class, in this zone, and in the Chile Santiago East mission for a reason, just like President Score said in my setting apart.  I am growing so much in this gospel in such a short amount of time; my testimony is getting stronger and stronger with every passing day.  Yo se que este evangelio es verdidera y Jose Smith es un profeta de Dios.  Yo se que El Libro de Mormon es verdidero tombien.  El Libro de Mormon puede bendecir nos vidas.  El Libro de Mormon es el clave de nos religion, y estoy muy agradecido por el role in mi vida.  Les amo!  I can't wait to hear from you all soon!  Thank you so much for all of your letters and support!
Love, Elder Schwartz.