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:

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