Monday, August 20, 2012

Round Two in Geronimo!

Elder Schwartz is staying in his area for another six weeks with Elder Garcia.  Below is his email for this week:
Dear Mom, Dad, and the Fam,
I apologize that this email is going to be short and full of typos, because I am using a keyboard from the 1400's and it has all sorts of problems.
I literally just got back from the changes meeting, and I am staying in Geronimo for at least 6 more weeks!  We all are!  Me and Elder Garcia, and Elder Miller and Elder Clyde, which I am really excited for because all four of us are getting really close.  It was so funny, the assistants called us and we put the phone on speaker and they said, "Elder Clyde - Se queda, Elder Miller - Se queda, Elder Schwartz - Se queda, Elder Garcia - Se va! .......a quidar."(You´re going! ....... to stay).  Really nerve-racking, but very funny.  What will probably happen is that next change, Elders Clyde and Garcia will go and they will bring in new senior comps for Elder Miller and me.  This is elder Garcias 6th month in Geronimo and Elder Clyde´s 7th or 8th.
Walter is a priest in our ward that we teach with sometimes.  It was his birthday last week.
All of the food has been relatively normal, delicious 3 or 4 course lunches every day.  My waistline is furious.
This week was a rather slow week in Geronimo.  We had a lot of cancelled citas and a lot of walking and knocking.  Hands down, the highlight of the week was on Tuesday when we had a zone conference with President Wright and Hma. Wright, about the importance of Christ and his atonement and its role in our task as missionaries.  He is an amazing speaker and knows an amazing amount about this true Gospel.  Since it was in Spanish, I didn't pick up everything he said but the language barrier did not hold back the Spirit from being so obviously present in the room. 
This week I taught my first English class to an inactive family and wow was that hard!  It was really difficult for me to explain that each vowel has different sounds and how to identify those sounds while reading.  Starting Wednesday we are going to be teaching an English class at the chapel.  That'll be a very interesting experience.
Yesterday Elder Miller and I taught the gospel essentials class (in Sunday School) and that was a really good time.  Only two investigators came to church, but there were a couple recent converts and some other members in the class, and they helped out a ton.  The Spanish is definitely coming along.  I can understand a ton, but I still have a long way to go when it comes to speaking.  I am practicing by reading conference talks out loud.
On Tuesday we had a service project at a less active member family's house and we helped them remodel a room and then afterwards we made cookies for them.  It was a good time and they were really happy that we did it for them.
Last night we had our weekly meeting with our ward mission leader, and he cut my hair for me.  The guy is a stud, with a really kind spirit, a ton of talents, and a good head on his shoulders.  He's been an awesome example for me so far on my mission.  
Oh! and Mama Kim Fischer and Alex Manuli sent me a really nice card without a return address, so if you see them sooner or later, tell them thank you for me!
Anyways, my fingers are starting to hurt from this dang keyboard.  I love you all so much.  Keep busy, stay safe, and remember I'm praying for you.  I know that this church is true, that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, and that through this Gospel we cn return to live with Him and each other for eternity.  I love that I´ve had this blessing my whole life.  Other people need to know about it too.  Cant wait to hear from you all next week!
Elder Schwartz

Monday, August 13, 2012

Teaching the Kids

Thanks for all your support of Elder Schwartz.  He loves getting letters from you all.  Here is his address:

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

Here is his latest letter to us:

Hey Family!

Wow wow wow! My first transfer in Chile is already coming to a close.  We will have our changes meeting on Sunday, but we are all pretty sure that Elder Clyde and Garcia and Miller and I are all staying here in Geronimo.  They seldom change new missionaries half way through the 12 week  program.  Life here and the work here is as great as ever.  I'm going to run through the highlights quickly because, sadly, I don´t have a lot of time to write today.
Pizza in Chile?
 This week I had the opportunity to go on exchanges again, in the same area that I did last time, but this time with a different companion, Elder Bustamante from Peru!  He's a great missionary who is about 5 feet tall (seriously), and has a passion for dancing, but he's super shy!  Missionaries can't be shy, so for the whole time while we were on exchanges, I had to do most of the talking.  That was fine with me because I needed the practice!  We mostly visited families of inactive members, including the house of this super awesome old man who works as a carpenter from his garage/workshop, and he makes the most beautiful chairs that I have ever seen.  After sharing Ether 12:6 with him and discussing with him the challenges we face in this life and how they are a necessity to grow and progress, and about what our real purpose is here, and how sometimes we can forget that purpose, we challenged him to attend church this past Sunday.  I'm not sure if he did attend because its not my ward, but the Spirit was strong in the lesson and I'll bet he did. 

President Wright is putting a strong strong emphasis on working with the members.  He says that's the way that we need to be finding investigators, through references from church members.  Elder Garcia and I have spent a lot more time in members homes recently and less time knocking doors, and the members in my ward are SO AMAZING and SO loving and supportive of the work.  Elder Garcia and I were in the house of a family last night (The husband speaks English, thank heavens), and they ended up giving us 6 references for some of their friends and neighbors.  These people are just waiting for us to ask them for their help and they are ready to give it! 

We walk EVERYWHERE, all day, every day.  We only take the bus if we are leaving our sector.  Geronimo missionaries sing as they walk and walk and walk and walk and walk and walk and walk.

Two weeks ago Elder Garcia and I were knocking doors and we went to this house and a lady in her 20's answered and she was super interested, but busy, and so we set an appointment for the following week at the same time.  So we went the following week, but when we knocked, that lady's older sister answered, and we talked for a while and she was interested, but busy and told us to come back the following week at the same time.  So we did come by on Saturday, but THIS time their little brother answered and we had the opprotunity to teach him the first lesson and pray with him.  He's 17, super spiritual, and super cool.  We have an appointment to meet them again this week and hopefully THIS TIME we'll be able to teach all three of them at the same time. 

This past Saturday evening we got to play soccer with the ward (missionaries are allowed to play if they bring a progressing investigator).  We brought Pedro, who is 17, very active in the church youth program and we teach him and his mother every week.  Anyways, I'm horrible at soccer, and these guys are amazing.  I was getting shown up by both 50 year olds and 6 year olds alike, but they were kind and supportive about it and taught me a few things.  Maybe I shouldn't have quit soccer when I was 9........
Soccer Stars
 Elder Miller and I were by ourselves this Sunday, as both of our comps are district leaders and they had a meeting with an Area Seventy (regional church leader).  So we had to get by with our "gringo" Spanish on our own for the whole day.  It was quite the experience.  At church this lady from the ward came up to us and told us that she was short a Primary (Sunday School for little kids) teacher and she needed us to fill in.  We were both super nervous, but Elder Miller and I have this motto, YOSO (you only serve once), so we took our motto to heart and decided to fill in.  I am SO HAPPY that we did.  We taught the six year olds, and they were so good!  We taught them about prayer, why we pray, and how to pray.  We talked to them about what they are thankful for and what they ask Heavenly father to help them with; all of the steps.  I had a blast!  I love, love, love teaching.  I attached photos to this email and one is with that primary class.  It really was one of my favorite experiences in Chile thus far.

Primary Class in Local Ward
 Today for p-day we went to the Mall nearby, bought lunch, got groceries, sent our letters off, and then went to the chapel to play basketball.  I'm almost as bad at basketball as I am at soccer.  OH shoot, I got 5 letters this week!  It was so cool!  Getting the love and support from friends back hoime really does brighten my week.  Devin Singh sent me the sweetest letter.  Could you please facebook him thank you for me and tell him that a letter is on its way to him!

I love you all so much.  Thank you so much for your love, support, and examples.  I love hearing about all of the fun and amazing things that you have all been doing.  I know that I am doing the Lord's work, and that He is the head of this church, and that He is watching over each and every one of us.  I'm praying for you all, and I can't wait to hear from you next week!

Elder Schwartz
Bowling during a previous P-day

Monday, August 6, 2012

House to House.....

Here are some photos from previous preparation days:

The whole zone of missionaries went to the Santiago Zoo

Here is Elder Nate's weekly email home:

Dear Family!
I love getting the weekly updates on how the family is doing.  I never really realized how busy we always are!  That´s just the Schwartz style I guess!  OH MY GOODNESS. THE TIME IS FLYING!  I have been on my mission for 3 months.  What?  3 months?  There is no way that I have been out here for 3 months.  I feel like I just got to the MTC 2 days ago; I can´t beleive that I have been in Chile for a month!  The time is going by too fast!
Well, just like every other week, this week has been equally as busy and equally as fun.  Tuesday was an amazing day for Elder Garcia and I.  It started out with almost all of our scheduled lessons falling through.  We had a huge gap in our day, so we hit the pavement and started knocking doors. (Note:  In Chile, you dont literally knock on doors, because every house has a fence around it, every single house.  The richer families have really fancy elegant fences, and the more poor families have more ghetto fences.  So instead of knocking on the door, you simply yell ´´Aaaaallllllllllllllloo!´´ through the fence and hope that they hear you).  So we were doing that and not really having a lot of success, but later in our second neighborhood, we ended up with 3 new investigators and taught 2 lessons right on the spot.  Elder Garcia and I figured out that the people respond better if I do the initial contacting because I´m a gringo and they enjoy talking to me because I´m different; and its good practice for me too.  So I do most of the initial contacting now and then he talks to them about all of the other stuff that I dont understand yet..... but I´m learning.  After knocking for a couple hours we met up with a sister from our ward who was going door to door to pick up packages from people for some product and it turned out that we went along with her.  When she picked up the packages, she´d introduce us and then we would talk to them for a little while about our beliefs.  We ended up having 2 discussions with 2 different families with her present.  It was awesome.   Having a member with you in the lesson helps out so so so much.  Then we ended that night with a family home evening with members of our ward who invited a non-member friend to come who apparently was going through a really rough time.  We had the opprotunity to give her a blessing of comfort.  Tuesday was a very cool day.  We are meeting with all of our new investigators again this week and I am super excited.
Today for P-Day we went bowling for Elder Clyde´s and Elder Kirk´s birthday.  It was a lot of fun having the whole zone was there, and we had cake; it was a grand time.  Oh!  And Elder Clyde´s teacher from the MTC was Matt Bell!  How crazy is that?
On Thursday we got to have interviews with President Wright, and every time I meet with him I like him more and more.  I wish I could just talk to him about life for hours, but I can´t, as he has 176 other missionaries to tend to.  But he is just so amazing and so inspired and I am so happy to be working with him.  He and his wife and I just clicked really really well for some reason, and I am so happy that it happened.  I have seen them every week since I´ve been here, which is more than I expected, but it has been great.
The language is coming along really well.  I am learning more and more every day, and I can definitely understand so much more than I was able to a couple weeks ago.  My ability to speak I feel is similar, but I can definitely pick up a lot more of what people are saying.  I still get a little frustrated at times, but I am getting more and more comfortable every day.  Chileans speak spanish a little differently than in other places. If a spanish word ends with an ´s´ they don't pronounce it.  So like if you were going to say ´mas o menos,´ they just say ´ma o meno.´ So that makes the words kind of slur together and it was really hard to understand at first, but I'm starting to get it.  They also randomly put ¨´po´´ at the end of their words, so instead of saying "si" they say "sipo" or they say "nopo" for "no".  It's really interesting, but I'm starting to get it down.  First I'm going to try to get comfortable with speaking Spanish, before I get comfortable speaking Chileno.
Yesterday we had almuerzo at the house of a member from the bishopric in our ward.  The father/husband is from Chile and can speak both Spanish and English fluently, the mother/wife is from Japan and can speak Spanish, Japanese, and English fluently and so can their 2 kids.  They lived in the states for 12 years and they met at BYU while they were both learning english.  How cool is that!  The Hermana from the family pulled out her scriptures in Japanese and tried to explain to me how the language works.  I just want to let you all know how incredibly thankful I am to be learing Spanish.  I would be crying myself to sleep every night if I was learning Japanese or Chinese.  I don´t know how Phil was able to do it.
Oh!  Another thing that happenned this week!  I got more letters!  Including one from Cindy!!!!!  I was so excited when I got it, and we are trying to pull strings to see if we can meet up before she leaves!  It sounds to me like she´s having a blast up north, which makes sense because Santiago is the greatest place ever.
I love getting your weekly updates.  I love hearing about all of your triumphs back home.  I know the Lord is watching over our family.  He has blessed us with so much.  I love you all so much, and I cant wait to hear from you all again soon!
Elder Schwartz

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Elder Schwartz and Elder Garcia

Elder Schwartz has sent us a nice email and some great photos from Santiago.  The email starts just below:

Sorry but this one is going to be super short because it took me forever to figure out how to attach emails to pictures from this computer, but now I know so now I should be able to do it faster in the future.

WOW, THIS WAS AN AMAZING WEEK!  Its sad that I don't have enough time to write about everything and hit all of the details, but I will try my best.  The biggest thing that happenned this week was that President and Hermana Wright came to our house in Geronimo and had an hour of companion study with Elder Garcia and I, and an hour of companionship study with Elders Clyde and Miller.  It was an answer to our prayers.  They came to our study on Friday and on Thursday night we taught the law of chastity to one of our unmarried investigators, Carolina.  She lives with her boyfriend and has 3 kids, and she is not able to be baptized until she gets married and her novio isn't very fond of the idea.  Elder Garcia and I had no idea how we were going to get over that barrier, but President and Hermana Wright helped us out big time.  They are so smart and so loving and so cool; I like them more and more with every encounter I have with them.

This Thursday we had a zone meeting in the morning, and for our activity afterwards we had a knee wrestling competition.  I think you all can guess who won ;)  I sent a picture of it (below).  At the zone meeting i got my first letters from people from back home, from Arthur and Marissa, written on July 12th.  Geez, that was a long time ago, but it was awesome to hear from them. 

Elder Garcia and I are doing really well. (Photo of us below).  He is helping me A TON with my Spanish.  I still am having a hard time understanding a lot of it, but I am at the point where I am getting the idea of what they are saying, and I'm able to respond.  The people here talk SO FAST, but I love them nonetheless.  We have Almuerso (lunch, a big lunch) every day in a member family's home and thats been a lot of fun.  Elder Miller and I usually share the spiritual thought at the end.

Its so great to hear that all of the family is doing well, I hope you sent everyone my love!  Thank ou for the pictures; they made me smile.

Everything is great down here, the weather is starting to warm up which I'm really looking forward to.  I honestly can't beleive that I'm on week 4 already!  The time is flying so fast!  I know that this is the only true Church and I am so blessed to have had it in my life for my entire life.  There's a lot of people here that need those blessings and I am so excited to be the one who gets to share it with them.  I know that I am doing the Lord's work and that he is watching over me and protecting me, and is protecting you as well.  I promise a longer letter next week!
I love you all!


Elder Schwartz

Click here to see other photos that Elder Schwartz sent along with his email.  Some are from the MTC in Provo and others from Santiago.