Thank you so much for the letters and the pictures. I absolutely love them!
This was a good week for Elder Garcia and I, but it was a little more rough for me because I've been sick for the last 4 or five days, but nothing serious. I've just had a sore throat and have been really congested. It's not easy for me to communicate with my normal voice, so it was even more taxing to try to communicate with a stuffed nose and a sore throat. Elder Miller goes to the mission headquarters every Wednesday, so I went with him this week to talk to the doctor, and he gave me some decongestant pills, and told me to call back in a week if I'm not better. Today I feel much much better than I did last week.
Last night our zone did this thing called a ´´Sector Slam´´ which is where all the missionaries in our zone came to our sector and knocked doors for 2 hours to help us out and give us some names and referrals. Apparently, I'm starting out in a rather dead sector (as far as missionary work goes), but I didnt know that until another missionary told me! No sector is a dead sector when Elder Schwartz is there! Elder Garcia and I are meeting with 4 people regularly who are progressing and interested and are reading and praying, but none of them come to church! Its really hard to get people to come because Church starts at 9am, so a good portion of our active members dont even show up until 9:30 or 10. 9am is really early in Chile. I told you that our hours are different right? Instead of waking up at 6:30am and retiring at 1030pm, we wake up at 7:30a, and retire at 1130pm. I guess Chileans are just slower to start their days!
On Saturday we had a ward activity, a ward family home evening. It was a lot of fun, as there was a great turnout. Elder Garcia and Clyde and Miller and I brought some inactive members and it was a blast. The bishopbric shared and talked about some awesome scriptures, and the importance of the Book of Mormon. Then we played Charades with movie titles, and my team won ;)
It was raining like crazy earlier this week,mainly Monday and Tuesday. They really dont have a good drainage system here, so the streets and sidewalks were absolutely flooded. Walking around with water up to my ankles in some places, it was quite the experience. I felt kind of bad walking into peoples homes drenched, but they were all really nice about it.
Contacting! Basically, what we usually do is just go door to door and introduce ourselves, tell them a little about the Gospel, and ask if they would like to know more. I usually do the contacting, because I'm a gringo and they like talking to me more than Elder Garcia because Im different. Elder Miller and I call this our Gingo charm. Most times, even if they arent interested, they still like talking to me. I love talking to people about families, because In my life, thats the biggest blessing that I have felt from the gospel. I take pictures of our family wherever I go and I love to show them to people, and they love too see them, and often ask questions. I talk to them about their families, why they are important, how they feel about families, and how the gospel can help them and their families. It really is an amazing thing. I usually dont even feel like im really doing any ´´Contacting´´. I'm just talking to people about their families, my family, and the gospel.
Church on Sunday was Ward Conference, so the stake presidency was here and an Area Seventy )regional church leaders). There was a really good attendance, and we had combined meetings for both of the hour blocks after sacrament meeting, so they could talk with us. They were really really good speakers, and Elder Miller and I sat in the front, so they liked to pick on us to read, which was good because we both need the practice. I decided to Join the ward choir, so Elder Miller and I go to Church a half hour early to go to the practices. We did our first performance on sunday -- "Did you think to pray". It was wonderful. I'm a tenor with Eric Pena, my stake mission leader. He has an awesome voice, so I just kind of follow along, but its so much fun! I like the hymns in Spanish a lot more than in English......
Today was Pday, and we just washed clothes, wrote letters, and played basketball at the Capilla. It was really relaxing and a lot of fun. I'm horrible at basketball, but I'm a lot better at basketball than I am at soccer.
I love you all so much. The Church is true! Keep busy and keep being amazing! I hope you send all of the family my love!
Next is the most recent letter from this past Monday:
This week had its rough patches, but overall it went by really well. Now that I feel better, Elder Garcia went and decided to get himself sick. I think its my fault...... but since he hasn't really been able to speak, I've had to do a lot more talking than I am used to..... which is a good thing. The highlight of the week, hands down, was the meeting that we had with President and Hermana Wright on Friday. We had a similar meeting 6 weeks ago, and again, it was only for the new missionaries *meaning those on their first two changes* and their trainers. I had the opportunity to say the opening prayer, which ended up to be a great blessing because we were able to show up early and talk with President and Hermana Wright for a while. I was able to send a few letters and everything was great. President Wright spoke about conquering doubts, which was an amazing blessing too, because that was the exact thing that I needed to hear. On Thursday night at our last meeting of the night, Elder Garcia and I visited one of our favorite families ever, the Pardos, who are less active. Elder Garcia shared the scripture and everything was great, up until it was my turn to talk; and then the kids went crazy, the phone rang, everyone was yelling and making noise, and no one was paying attention to what poor Elder Schwartz had to say. And basically the night ended that way, so I was a little down on myself after that, but President Wright's discourse was the exact remedy that I needed to pick me right back up. Also: He mentioned that my Spanish is getting way way better in his discourse, which was nice, because I have been worrying about that a little too.
On Tuesday Elder Garcia and I had the opportunity to perform some service for this older woman in our ward. In her back yard she has this old rusty metal swing set so Elder Garcia and I spent a couple of hours chipping the paint off of it and sanding it down so she can get it repainted. Also, Tuesday was the first day of spring here, so it was HOT outside. But really, it was a nice change of pace to be in a pair of jeans under the sun doing some labor for a little while.
On Wednesday night we had English class at the chapel, and one of our investigators came!!!!!!!!! His name is Juan. He is seventeen and is a stud. He says that everything is just kind of clicking for him. He didnt come to church on Sunday, but we are teaching him in the chapel this week on Thursday, I think. English class is a big success. A lot of people here are really interested in learning english so we had a good turnout this last week, and there should be more this next week. The coolest part is that the class is being taught by an investigator of Elder Clyde and Elder Miller. His name is Raul and lived in NYC for years, so he speaks perfect english and he is a great teacher. Elder Clyde says that Raul has been an investigator for a long time, but he hasnt really been committing to anything, until elder Miller and I showed up. Now he comes to church every Sunday, stays the whole three hours, and is changing his whole life. This Sunday in priesthood I caught him in the back straightening up his hair, and then about five minutes after church he came up to me and asked me for another Book of Mormon, because he just gave the one he had to someone that he met in the street. It is amazing to see how quickly this work and this gospel can change people. English class is great because it gets people inside the chapel, and this week after class we are going to offer to give a tour for the people who want to learn more.
None of our investigators came to church this Sunday :/. It was rough, but almost all of the less active families that we visited came, which was a great blessing. Elder Garcia and I have been pushing the father of the Mardonez family to come to church for a while and this Sunday he finally came. Then last night, we watched this AWESOME talk by President Monson called School Thy Feelings from Oct 2009, and it hit Hermano Manriquez hard. Right afterwards, he told us that he knows that he needs to clean his life up, which is great because this was the first time he came to church since I've been here. I know it really means a lot to his family, so its really cool to see that he knows that he needs to change his life and that he is going to take action to do it.
This week I gave my first blessing in Spanish. It was really amazing how it all panned out. We visited probably the poorest family in our sector, the familia Ribera. The mother of the family was really sick, and we know this family rather well as we have visited them 4 or 5 times before. When we stood up to give her the blessing, she told me to give it, with a grin on her face. I almost froze, but after a couple seconds, I regained my composure and gave the blessing. It was a very calm and peaceful experience. I felt like my nervousness was just kind of lifted from me. She called us the next day to tell us that she was feeling a lot better and decided to go back to work.
Anyways, I'm running short on time. Thank you all so much for everything. Sorry that this letter was kind of everywhere. I know that this work is the Lord's work, that he is watching over all of us, and that if we show the faith that we have in Him through our works, He will always pull through, 100 percent. I love you all. Thank you for your letter and prayers.
Until next week...
Love, Elder Schwartz
|Haircut from ward mission leader|
|Singing in the rain!|