Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Elder Schwartz in La Florida area of Santiago

Here is a photo (sort of) sent by Elder Schwartz of the elders in his apartment taken at a member's casa.  We're not sure which is Elder Garcia and which are the other elders from the U.S.  We guess Elder Garcia is on the right, and Elders Mitchell and Clyde in the middle.

 Elder Schwartz' e-mail arrived late yesterday:

¡Hola Familia!  ¿Que pasa calabasas?
I honestly cannot believe that it been a whole week since I last emailed you all!  I feel like I JUST sent my last one, but I´m thinking that it's a good thing that the time is flying.  Like last week, this week was super busy; lots happened.  But first, let me tell you all a little more about my fantastic companion, Elder Garcia. He is from Lima Peru.  He´s a convert of 6 years(amazing), and he lives with his mom, little sister and little brother.  His sister is active and his little brother is too young to be baptized.  His mom is not yet a member but in her last email to him she told him that she wants to be baptized!!!!! This kid is a stud and a half.  He´s been out for a year today; today was his 1 year mark; he´s half way done.  He doesn´t speak a lot of english, and I don´t speak a lot of spanish but we make it work.  I´m learning a lot from him and he´s a ton of fun to be around, very funny and very easy to get along with.  I´m definitely blessed to have him as my "father" out here in the field.
A ton of stuff happenned this week.  This Wednesday I went on my first exchanges which was quite the experience.  I got to spend a day and a half in an apartment of only latino missionaries(2 from peru and 1 from argentina). It was a ton of fun.  They loved to talk and sing and dance, but when it was time to work they were working hard.  They live on 14th floor of a high rise with an amazing view of Santiago and the apartment is new and gorgeous.  There was just one problem... they didn´t have warm water!  I had to heat up water with a coffee pot, poor it in 3 liter coke bottles, and then take those into the shower and shower with that- I´m definitely not going to forget that experience anytime soon.  I was very blessed to grow up with a water heater.  The apartment of my exchange was amazing, but the sector was a little more on the flaite side of Santiago (flaite means ghetto).  That being said, the spanish of the people in that sector was way way way way harder to understand.  I could hardly catch anything.  That was kind of frustrating, but I tried not to let it get me down.  The ward in that sector was amazing though; very supportive and very warm.  I´m probably going to go back on exchanges there again this week so I´m excited for a second crack at talking to the people and trying to help them to the best of my ability.
This week we had a new missionaries meeting with President Wright and Sister Wright.  That man is amazing!  The meeting really wasn´t for us new missionaries, but more for our trainers and how important of a role they play in our missions.  You could just tell by the way he talked that that man already cares so much about his missionaries and their comfort and their potential and their success.  I know that he´s my mission president for a reason.  At the meeting I was able to reunite with the rest of the district from the MTC and talk to all of them about how amazing/crazy it has been so far living in Santiago; how great the food is, and how fast the people speak -- all of that stuff.  Elder Miller and I are very fortunate to be in the position that we are in right now; the rest of our district are in completely separate parts of the mission, but we have each other in the same barrio and apartment to help each other out.
Earlier this week Elder Garcia hurt his heel so we have been limping around for the past few days.  So we spent the day today traveling to the temple and the church office in Santiago, so the misison doctor could check it out.  And it turns out that the doctor is just as new as I am and couldn´t speak any spanish, so I got to help out translating a little bit.  The doctor and his wife were so sweet and we spent a while talking about our lives and our families and Chile and how different it was.  It was really nice to talk to some people in the same boat as me and they were really kind and supportive.  We had the opportunity to have lunch in the Chilean MTC with Elder Garcia´s teacher from the MTC and that was way cool.  He said that I was going to learn really well from a native companion and that Elder Garcia is one of the best (but i already knew that), aha.  Oh and the food from the Chilean MTC is about a million times better than the food from the MTC in Provo.
Yes, I use my sleeping bag every night.  Thank heavens that we bought it.  It is so cold here in the mornings with no central heating.  We do all of our studies in the same room huddled around a wall heater, but apparently its supposed to heat up here in Santiago soon.
The best moment that I had this week was when Elders Clyde, Miller, Garcia and I all went to the house of this member family where the mother of the family had suffered from a brain tumor, and because of that she is bedridden.  When she speaks, she can really only mumble random syllables, but you can tell what she is trying to say by her voice inflections and her facial expressions. Elder Clyde had the idea to go over to their house and sing hymns for her (in spanish of course).  So, that´s exactly what we did.  We all stood around her bed and sang hymns to her, and it was amazing to see how happy just doing that simple act made her; how excited she got, the light in her eyes.  There was a point where she even started crying, the spirit was so amazingly strong.  I realized two really awesome things through that experience: 1) That just by doing the smallest acts of kindness, people can make huge difference in the lives of others.  All we did was take 30 minutes out of our busy day to sing to this lady and it made her so so happy.  Her husband probably thanked us 12 times, and when we left the house we all felt so good; and 2) Heavenly Father has an amazing love for all of his children, no mattter what position they are in, no matter what they have been through and no matter how far away they are from his Gospel; we are all still his children and he loves us all so so much.
The massacre that happenned in Denver is all over the news.  When I first heard about it, it really started to hurt my stomach.  I hope that every one at home is okay. Its so sad that things like that happen.  I´m praying for the families of everyone invloved.
Thank you so much for all of your love and support! I miss you all and I´m praying for you all.  Keep being amazing! The church is true!
Elder Schwartz

Here is Elder Schwartz' mailing address:

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

Please send him a letter.  He loves mail from home!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Message from Santiago...

Elder Schwartz's first preparation day (or p-day) in Chile has arrived.  He sent the following e-mail:

Hey family!  It's great to hear that you all are keeping busy and staying safe in California!  I loved talking to you on the phone and getting the update on how everyone is doing.

The flight was fantastic.  I slept almost the entire 14 hours, loved it!  We had a short stop in Lima, Peru at about midnight and then we were off to Santiago.  The plane landed in Santiago at about 5:45 or 6:00am, and everyone else was super exhausted, but I was ready to go.  President Wright and Hermana Wright met us at the airport and then we went to the temple grounds to have breakfast, our interviews, and then meet our trainers!  The interview with President Wright was great.  I am really looking forward to getting to know him better.  He and his wife are such amazing people; very sweet, very genuine, and very down to earth.  They should be sending you a picture or an email or something soon so keep your eyes open for that (if you haven´t received it yet).

My trainer´s name is Elder Garcia and I love him.  He´s from Lima, Peru and doesn´t speak a whole lot of English (but before you start worrying, mom...I´M FINE).  I am learning so much from him so fast, and he has such an easy to get along with personality.  He´s very patient with me and supportive with me in helping me pick up the language.  On Thursday I got a DearElder from Dad from May that got sent to Chile for some reason and in the DearElder he talked about how I´m going to have companions from all over the world in the field and that I need to take advantage of those opportunities and learn as much as I can.  He said that some of his favorite times of his mission were when he was with elders from foreign places.  Was it a coincidence that I got that letter here, on my 3rd day in Chile with a foreign companion? ...I don´t think it was.  I am learning Spanish FAST; like super fast, and I am loving every second of it.  I feel like I am comprehending more and more each day.  

The people here are SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO supportive too.  They absolutely love hearing me speak, and helping me out, and making sure that i´m comfortable.  I love it, love it, love it, love it.  I´ve already made some new friends.  There is this kid in the ward named Walter and he is 14, and he´s gone teaching with us 3 days this past week and he loves talking to me.  He teaches me spanish, and I teach him english; it´s a good tradeoff.  Elder Garcia and I visited five less active families this past week and on Sunday, THEY ALL CAME TO CHURCH.  It was so cool walking into the chapel and being greated by so many familiar faces, and I had only been here for 6 days! Also, Elder Garcia and I brought an investigator (and her 5 year old son) to church too, and she loved it!  I got to go up in sacrament meeting and introduce myself to the ward in my broken gringo spanish.  A whole bunch of old ladies from the ward came up afterwards and told me that I did great.  I´m not sure if I actually did a really good job or if they were just being nice; either way it was nice to hear :)  

Oh! And another thing; we live in an apartment of four elders:  Elder Miller (a guy from my district at the MTC) and his trainer, Elder Clyde (an american), are living with me! So don´t worry about your poor little Nathaniel being all alone with someone who doesn´t speak any English.  I am in a REALLY good situation right now.  My area (La Florida) is a relatively wealthy/nice area and the ward is really strong.

I am going to get so fat here.  Chileans eat on a slightly different food schedule than we do in the states.  They typically have a small breakfast in the mornings, a gigantic lunch called ´´Al muerso´´ and by gigantic, I mean GIGANTIC.  Usually, we get a first couurse of salad and pan (bread).  Then we get soup for the second course.  Then we get our main course of rice and some sort of meat and potatoes, and then dessert.  We are fed "Al muerso" by members of the ward EVERY DAY, and they have soda with everything.  Cocacola is served with every meal.  I am going to get huge. The best thing that I have had so far are called ´´completos´´ which are chilean hotdogs, but the meat is way better and the bread is way softer, and they put guacamole on it.  So tasty!

Today is P-Day (Monday), so if you could, write me on Sunday nights :) .  Today we went to the Santiago Zoo as a zone, and, yes, I took a lot of pictures.  It was way way fun.  We actually ran into another zone from the mission there too, which was kind of cool.  Anyways, I don´t have much time left and I still need to wrtite out my letter to the mission president.  I know that Heavenly Father loves all of his children.  He has blessed us so much in every aspect of our lives.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and the gateway to revelation and that if we strive to learn from His word, that we will receive answers to our questions and we will be blessed.  I know that we are guided by a prophet of God, Thomas S. Monson, in these latter days, and that if we listen to his counsel and his words, we will be blessed.  I have so much to be thankful for.  Heavenly Father has given me an amazing life.  I am very happy and very comfotable here in Chile and I know that I am just going to get more and more attached with time.  I love you all and I pray for you nightly!  I can´t wait to hear from y'all next week!

Elder Schwartz

P.S.  I´m using a Spanish keyboard so if there are any huge typos, I´m sorry.
Pics of Elder Schwartz and his mission president and wife are in the previous post.  Here is a map of La Florida area on the east side of Santiago:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Departure from Utah and Arrival in Chile!

Elder Schwartz has arrived!  He is now in Chile.

Here is his address:

Elder Nate Schwartz
Pedro De Valdivia 1423
29 Santiago, Region Metropolitana
Please write him!
He departed Utah early Monday morning (July 9th), but someone (or two) were at the airport in espionnage mode several hours earlier...
As parents, we were glad to see the brothers have one last opportunity to say goodbye and hug -- in Phil's case for 22 months and for Andrew probably closer to three years.  We love this photo!
We were able to talk to Elder Schwartz for about a half an hour during his layover in LAX.  It was great to hear his voice.  He had a great stay in the MTC in Provo, but he is so excited to get to Chile and start his real service and work there.  The idea of a 14 hour flight didn't seem to bother him much. 
Anyway, all that was Monday.  We hoped to hear something Tuesday....or Wednesday, but nothing.  Finally, on Thursday...an email arrived from the mission with some photos and a pdf of a handwritten letter from our Elder.  Here are the photos of Elder Schwartz with Pres. and Sister Wright and the other with the group that arrived with him.


We don't yet know where Elder Schwartz's first area is or which elder was assigned to be his trainer.  We don't even know yet when his preparation day will be.  We'll update the blog when we first hear from him.  Thanks for all your love, friendship, and prayers.  You are all greatly appreciated.

Last Few Days in the MTC and some photos

The latest letter from Elder Schwartz and a link to the photos he sent:
Buenas Tardes!
This is going to be one of my shorter letters because I have so much stuff that I need to do before I depart of CHILE!!!!!!!!  I am so excited!
Yesterday I had this all day event called "In-field Orientation" which in all honesty I thought was going to be really boring and redundant, BUT to my pleasant suprise, it was actually really spiritually uplifting.  I learned a ton, and it got me WAY WAY excited to get out in the field.  It was a huge seminar for all of the missionaries leaving and then every so often we would break up into smaller "breakout sessions" and have a more interactive lesson taught by the missionaries from "The District 2" which was super super cool.  I talked with a guy who served in the Santiago West mission and he told my that my mission is the smallest proselyting mission in the world!  I don't know if that's 100% true or not but it's pretty dang small.  Also during In-field orientation a Sister missionary hunted me down and it turns out that her and I and Elder Jones were the 3 that went through the temple together in Oakland, so that was pretty cool.  Her name is sister Laporte and she's serving at Temple Square. 

The 4th of July in the MTC was AMAZING!  We had this special devotional/fireside thing with a bunch of songs and performances, we played games, had ice cream and they even extended our bed-time to 11:30 to watch the stadium of fire fireworks!  My district had an amazing spot in the parking lot where we could hear the Beach Boys singing and see the fireworks perfectly!  A bunch of guys from my district got cool fun party stuff sent to them so we had Martinellis and poppers and glo-sticks; very fun.  My first 4th of July on the mission way surpassed my expectations!  Which is great because i don't think I'll be celebrating it next year in Chile....
Flight plan: We leave from SLC at nine thirty to LAX, where we have a 3 hour layover.  From LAX we go straight to Chile Santiago, a 14 hour flight, YIKES!,  but I am so excited!   
I sent home a package yesterday with a memory card full of fun pictures.
Sorry that I have to cut this short, but I just have SO MUCH to do before Monday morning! (We leave the MTC at 6am).  I love you all, and I'm praying for you all.  Thank you so much for your love and support!  Please thank granma for the rocky-road, it was a HUGE hit on my floor!  I'm glad to hear that everyrthing is well in Martinez!  Keep on being amazing, the next letter you receive will be from CHILE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Elder Schwartz
There are lots more photos from Elder Schwartz's second half of his MTC stay. Click here to see Elder Schwartz's fun pics from the MTC