Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello Everyone!  We have a new email from Elder Schwartz.  Some pics are included and also a link for a library of pics sent back on a memory card -- just received today.

Dear Family, and All!

Thank you for the great photos, and it sounds like you all had a really really nice Thanksgiving in good ol´ Martinez.  It's good to hear that Mom is feeling beter and that the 49ers are still winning.  Everything seems to be going really great back home which is good to hear.

Yeah, Thanksgiving here in Chile wasn´t anything too special.  Elder Garcia and I did what we could to celebrate it, with a Papa Johns Chicken Pizza for lunch (that's kind of like turkey...right?),  and then we took onze (?????) with an inactive family later in the evening.  We, withHermana Julia Farai, and her son Rashid, and his girlfriend (I don't remember her name) all had turkey sandwiches and ice cream.   Elder Garcia and I shared a short message about he importance of being thankful and everything was great!  The situation of the family is really sad though. Hma Julia has been inactive for 4 or 5 years ever since her son left he church and is now athiest.  At first whenever we went over to their house, Rashid would go upstairs or in the back yard because he didn't want anything to do with us, but over our past 4 or 5 visits he has stayed and talked with us, and reads with us.  We are starting to win over his comfort and trust.  On Thanksgiving night he went on for a half an hour about when he was active in the church, when he was in young men/young women's program, and when he was deacon's quorum president, and stuff like that.  It was interesting -- his mom might think that he's really, really far away from the church, but I think there's still a little fire in him.  

Anyways, this week has been super good, with all the usual business:  district class on Thursday, and English class Wednesday night.  We visited with Javier last night, and he is still doing well, still going to church, still reading.  This past Sunday was the Primary (children's) program in sacrament meeting, and actually a new investigator named Eduardo came with a friend from his work.  She invited him to come, so he came, and now we have a lesson with him on Wednesday!  He had a really really good time.  He has a daughter who is  young, so he really enjoyed the primary program.  The Pino family is doing better.  They were going through a pretty rough time over the past couple of weeks, but now they are doing much better.  Also they want you and Mom to fly out here at he end of my mission, so you can meet them.

We spent a majority of this week in houses of the members as well, but this week we put a focus on the leaders of the quorums, and of Relief Society, and the Primary, and all of that, finding out who they think we need to visit and what we could do to help them with their callings.  In our spare time, we were going down the ward list.  Our ward list has 700 people on it, but only 120 come to church on a regular basis, tops.  So there are a good 600 members out here that aren't receiving blessings!  This is what most of the work is down here in Chile, reactivating, because apparently in the 1980's or something Chile had the most baptisms in the world, but people need to understand that here is a diference between baptizing people, and helping people become actually converted to this church.  A number is a number, but real missionary work is helping souls come to Christ.  The transition of lifestyle for a recent convert is SO, SO, SO, SO, SO important and if it doesn't go smoothly, if they dont feel supported or acepted by the ward, they fall away, go inactive.  There are about 14 "recent converts" in this ward but only 4 are coming out to church on a semi regular basis.  Elder Garcia and I were able to talk the bishop into visiting with us yesterday, and we had a meeting about this; that his ward neds to be a ward family and this ward needs to get excited for missionary work, or else this ward isnt going to grow, its going to shrink.  He was totally on board, and understands that the sucess of missionary work starts with the ward.  So, that is going to be mine and Elder Garcia's focus over these next several weeks, uniting this ward and getting them excited!

Today was a really nice PDay.  We went to this place called Santa Lucia, and I took lots of photos.  We actually went with my old comp, Elder Garcia and a few others.  We bought some cool mapuche stuff and ate a lot, and it was a grand time.  I spent a good portion of my morning writing letters to some people who sent me leters or dearelders.  Expect responses in the mail!   ERIN BAUMGARTNER SENT ME THE COOLEST PACKAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, and I got it on Thanksgiving day, so that was really cool, too. Getting a Thanksgiving present -- that hardly ever happens.

Anyways, I love you all.  I miss you all.  I'm praying for you all, and I'm super excited for Andrew to get his call.  I know this church is true, and the blessings that it can bring into our lives are 100000% real!  Keep being amazing, and I can't wait to hear from you all next week!

With Love, 
Elder Schwartz

P.S. Christmas stuff -- I would absolutely love a nice little package of PHOTOS.  I really do love photos (and if you could tell that to the public too).

Some great pics below.  Also, see this link for lots more photos that Elder Schwartz just mailed home and are now posted on a picasa site.

Santa Lucia


Cool fountain


Another cityscape

I own this place!

Me and my chilean girlfriend

with "new" Elder Garcia


More elders

Monday, November 19, 2012

Elder Garcia -- Old and New

Elder Schwartz seems to be loving Chile and the people and his companions.  His address, latest email home, and some photos are below:

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

Dear Mom, Dad, and the rest of the fam, and everyone else,

Thanksgiving!  Yay!  It is sad to hear that mom is not feeling well, and I hope that she gets better soon (she is better now -- just a stomach flu) ; she works too much.  I think a little time of rest will be really good for her.  Its good to hear that youre still exercizing pops.  From the photos, you look younger than me!  I think im gaining all of the weight that you lost.  The food here is too good! (except pan de pasqua, which is fruit cake, and EVERYONE eats it here during this time of the year, and it's SO nasty)  But be proud, I havent turned down one dish yet.  Elder Schwartz, the picky eater is conquering his fears of food!  Speaking of food -- back to Thanksgiving.  What is your plan for thanksgiving?  Andrew told me that he is going back to MTZ so are you all having thanksgivng at the house.... errrr what?  I'm not sure if I'm going to have a Thanksgiving out here..... I'll let you know how it turns out though.

Well, this was a very busy week for Elder Garcia and me.  We spent a majority of it with the members, both active and less active, helping him to get to know the ward.  My oh my, Preach my Gospel chapter 9 is right, that if a missionary wants success in his sector, the best way is through the members, working with the members, helping the members.  MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH HAVE SUCH AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN MISSIONARY WORK!  HELP YOUR MISSIONARIES!!!!  HAVE LESSONS IN YOUR HOUSE!  SPREAD THE WORD WITH YOUR FRIENDS AT WORK!  Elder Garcia and I have a full schedule this week of things to do and people to see: family home evenings, service, meetings with investigators and members of the Elders Quorum that are going out with us, Priest going out with us; it's going to be a very good week.  

This letter isnt going to be super long, as I don't have too much time, but I am very excited to hear that Andrew;s papers are in.  MY LITTLE BROTHER IS GOING TO BE A MISSIONARY!  That's basically all that I tell people.  Uhmmmmm, let's see what else happenned this week...... Oh!  Monday night after I said my personal prayers, I pulled over my covers to jump in bed and there was an envelope there waiting for me.  I was a little confused when I first saw it, and my first thought was the tooth fairy, but it was even better than that -- it was actually a really, really nice letter fromy my old Elder Garcia and his Peru Tie -- I just about cried.  I learned a lot more than just Spanish from my first Elder Garcia and I was very lucky to be his companion.  He taught me very early on in my mission that loving and serving the people that you teach is the key to this work.  Even after he left the sector, he suprised me with how great of a companion he was.

The Old Elder Garcia

This new Elder Garcia is equally as great.  He is from the south of Spain, and is from a family of five, similar to us:  both his older brother and his older sister served missions, his dad is bald, and he has been a member his whole life.  His Spanish is really, really good; he pronounces everything so clearly, and is very easy to understand.  I included that because typically Chileans don't speak real Spanish, they speak chileno.  If a word ends with the letter "s", they don't pronounce it so when they speak, it really just sounds like one big, long word, and they use a lot of modismos too.  That makes it a little harder that what they are saying literally doesnt make sense, but it makes sense to them because it's slang.  SO, I am very happy to be with this Elder Garcia.  He is helping me out a ton with my Spanish, and he's just an all-around really, really good guy.  Like I said before, he's not as loud and open and talkative and as much of a jokester as the other Elder Garcia, but we are still having a lot of fun.  He's very smart, and very clever, very witty, and very musical as well.  He can sing and play the piano really, really, really well and that has been a lot of fun.

Our investigators are doing well.  The Javiers are still progressing and so is Mario.  We meet with all three of them twice a week, and this week we are going to do more service with Javier.  He's really really interested in the book of Mormon, and he wants to find out if its true, but he wants to know that it's true before he gets baptized.  He wants to know it better, so we are helping him with that.  I sent a photo from a basptism that we had yesterday from a less active family, the family Barraza-Salas, and they are great.  They are relatively new to the ward, having just moved here in May, and so its been kind of hard for them to transition into this ward from their old one.  Elder Garcia and I are trying our best to help with that because really this family is so so dulce.  

With New Elder Garcia at a baptism

I know that this Church is true.  I know that Heavenly Father has a reason for me being down here.  I know that he has prepared people for Elder Garcia and me to help, all we have to do is find them.  I know that Christ is our Savior, and that without His love and Atoning sacrifice, we wouldnt be able to experience the happiness that we do every day in this life.  I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, and that all we have to do is trust in Him and in His plan.

I love you all so much.  I'm praying for you and rooting for you.  Stay busy and stay awesome, and have a great Thanksgiving.  Until next week!

con amor,
Elder Schwartz

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Same Area, New Elder Garcia!

Elder Schwartz is so appreciative of all your letters.  Thanks for writing him.  Here's his address and latest email home.......

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

He couldn't get his camera connected to the computer this past week, so he took a shot with the webcam on the computer......

Dear Family,
Sounds like this past week has been a big success for all of you.  It sounds like you´re having a great birthday vacation down in southern California, Mom and Dad.  I hope you make it home safely, and that you sent Grandma Moffitt and Walt my love.  Various members of my ward wish you a happy birthday too.  I told basically everyone that we visited yesterday about your special day,  What an awesome experience that you had in the temple Mom! And I bet that your Spanish was great.  My first experience in a temple session in spanish is one that I will never forget, being down here with basically all of my first ward in Geronimo --
these people really are special!  OH MY GOODNESS MARISSA!  If her call isn't a blatant sign to the world that mission calls are inspired, I dont know what is.  That girl must be so so excited.  And Arthur is already in Cambodia?  Wow, the time flies so fast!. I bet he's loving it out there, that trilingual stud.  Keep me posted on the process of Andrew´s call.  (Andrew's mission application papers were submitted last week).  I'm praying for that boy multiple times a day.  How's Phil doing?

Well, as you have guessed, yes, there were some changes that happenned down here.  To set the stage for the changes, I'll let you know what I wanted to happen; that was for me to stay here in Geronimo with Elder Garcia.  In the mission, a greenie´s first companion  is called their  "Dad" and the new missionary´s second companion is called his "Mom". Elder Garcia trained me, so he was my "Dad", but sadly this morning we had to part ways as he got moved to another part of the mission as District leader. He´s going to go on to do great things.  He was a really good trainer and companion and friend and I'm going to miss him a lot but I know theses changes were inspired, so everything is going to be all right.  I'm staying down here in Geronimo in Zona La Florida but with a new comp, and youre not going to beleive this, but his name is Elder both my "Mom" and my "Dad" in the mission are named Elder Garcia.  How weird is that!  But really, I am super excited, and we are already getting along super well.  He´s from Spain!  My wish came true, I'm staying in Geronimo with Elder Garcia.  He´s super cool -- I've talked to some of his old companions today and they all say that I struck gold with him as my companion.  He´s been a member his whole life, and he only has 7 months left on the mission, so it is most probable that he is going to end his mission here in this ward.  I am once again in an amazing situation, and I really couldnt be happier!

This week went by really well, but sadly I don't have my journal... again, so im going to have to retell it all from memory.  Really, all that is coming to mind is two or three things that happenned.  The first is a lesson that Elder Garcia and I had with a new investigator that we have been teaching, named Julio.  We met him through a reference from a neighboring ward.  Elder Garcia and I have passed by his house probably four times before, but either he wasn't home, or his wife said he was too busy, but this Tuesday we finally were able to meet with him, and we had a really really awesome lesson.  He told us at the end of the lesson that he is going to have a lot of doubts and a lot of questions, but he wants to do this "mormon thing," because he knows that it's right and he knows that its what's best for him and his family.  He told us that we are going to need to have patience with him because the shift is going to be hard, but he really, really wants it and it's so easy to see.  So, we have lessons set up with him for the next several weeks and the NEW Elder Garcia and I are really excited to visit him.  That was Tuesday. We did some service for Javier on Tuesday, too.  Since he lives alone, and his house is a little- not well kept.  So, we cleaned up his jungle of a lawn for him. On Wednesday I once again had the opportunity to teach English at the chapel, which I love, especially because now two more of the people that come to that class are coming to church on Sunday.  They are Mario and Juan, so english class is not only fun, but the time is worth it too, which is something that I was worried about earlier on.  Friday night we had a ward talent show, and both of our investigators named Javier came, and I learned one really important thing about Chile that night......  On the flyers it said that the activity started at eight, but here in Chile, everything starts at least 10 minutes later than when its supposed to.  It makes being punctual really hard, especially when as a missionary, I like to show up ten minutes early.  So, Elder Garcia and I showed up to this event with our investigators at 7:45pm, and the dang show didn't start until 8:50!!!!!  Come on Chile!  I felt so bad for the Javiers, but they both had a really good time. They both really like music, and there are some really really good singers in our ward.  On Saturday morning right after exercises, we got a call from Jose Linco, our ward secretary to give us the buena noticia that Elder Garcia and were invited to give talks in sacrament meeting on Sunday....... My nightmare became a reality -- I had to talk in front of my whole ward for 25 straight minutes.....IN SPANISH.......  But it actually went really well.  I spent all of my study time that morning writing it out. The subject  was The Atonement, by the way, not the easiest topic to give a talk on...... But Elder Garcia helped me out a lot and it went really well.  All of my nerves left me as I was standing at the podium, and I just talked and smiled, and smiled and talked, and it ended up being a really good growing experience for me.  The members were so sweet afterwards -- everyone knew I was dying of nervousness, but there is this thing that they talk about in D&C called the gift of tongues and IT'S REAL!  TELL EVERYONE.  Elder Garcia and I spent Sunday afternoon with Daniel (I'm not sure if you remember, but he is the kid who almost died; who was not active in the church, but is now preparing to serve a mission.  He wants it to be a surprise for his mom, so keep it a secret.) We went with him to our neighboring ward, Vicente Valdez, where guess what, his sister is there as an active member.  When SHE saw him at church all dressed up this week, she started to cry and get all excited and emotional.  Watching this kid's progression really has been such a blessing.  At the baptism, I got to see President Wright and Hma Wright for a little while, and they told Elder Garcia (old Elder Garcia) and me all about our changes and new companions and sectors, and that was really nice.  And then Elder Garcia and I finished the evening visiting members of the ward eating, and Elder Garcia saying goodbye to all of them while trying not to cry.  Today we had the changes meeting, and now I am here at the Mall with new Elder Garcia and a bunch of other missionaries from all over the place -- some familiar faces, but mostly new ones.  I got to see Elder Matthews today, my comp from the MTC; he´s a sweetheart, doing big things down in the ghettos of Santiago.

Anyways, that's basically it.  I'm still here in Geronimo, my first 4 changes of my mission, very happy, not stressed out, and ready to work, ready to lead this sector, and help light some lives.

I know that this is the true church restored on the earth today and that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us, wants to help us, and wants us to be happy.  I know that trials come into our lives for a reason, that God has a specific plan for all of us, and that when we need comfort and when we need peace in our lives, we can receive those necessities through the grace of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I know that He is our Savior and I know that we can only return to live with our Heavenly Father through following His example and His Gospel.  I am really thankful for this opportunity that I have to be here in Chile, in reality, sharing love and happiness with the people around me.  Don't get me wrong, I miss home and I miss you all a lot, but I know that I am in the right place right now, doing Heavenly Fathers will.  I'm praying for you all.  Keep being amazing, keep me updated, and I can't wait to hear from y'all next week!

con mucho amor, tu hijo, misionero y amigo,
Elder Schwartz

Monday, November 5, 2012

Keeping Balanced.....

Here are some pictures and the latest email from Elder Schwartz:

A little farm in the middle of an urban neighborhood.

My Carnet, which is my visa here, and its pretty cool, because it means that I'm basically a Chilean now.

Elder Anderson and me and Ramon's family.  They made this banner for us.
Elder Garcia and me and a member of the church.  Elder Garcia's camera just fell on the ground.

Dear Family¡¡¡¡¡¡

Its so good to hear that everyone is doing so well.  You have to keep me posted for when Marissa gets her call.  I'm so excited for her¡¡¡¡¡¡ I sent her a letter a couple weeks back about her being a missionary and I hope she got that.   I'll keep my eyes peeled for the LDS lady from Walnut Creek who is moving down here.   Odds are that she's going to live in Las Condes, which is like the Beverly Hills of Santiago.  That's where all of the Americans live.  It's great to hear that you are all spending so much time with your callings.  The Halloween dance party sounds like it was a hit.  We really didn't do anything special here for Halloween.....   I can hardly believe that Christmas is just around the corner.  I feel like it just happened¡¡¡

This week was was really, really good, and went by really, really fast.  Sadly, I don't have my journal again, so I"m probably going to forget some of the cool stuff that happened this week.  As of right now, I can think of two highlights.  The first was when I had the opportunity yet again to lead the sector in splits, but this time I went with my Zone Leader Elder Bahr from North Dakota.  It was an awesome experience, and it's not even like anything really amazing happened, but there was just a really good spirit about the whole experience.  I really did learn a lot from him, about how to connect with people, and how to ask for referrals. He really helped me out a lot, and it was a nice change of pace to speak in English a little bit.  While Elder Bahr and I were together we ran into this guy with his family in a park doing this thing called "slack lining" and its kind of like walking on a tightrope, but closer to the ground and you can jump on it and stuff I guess.  We talked to him for a while, and that's what the pictures are from.  Elder Garcia and I are going to visit him tonight¡¡ 

 Also, when Elder Bahr and I were walking back to the pension around ten, we passed by this guy and we said hi to him and he didn't say hi back, and we just kept walking.  That's usually what happens so I didn't think much of it, but about ten seconds, later Elder Bahr turned around and started literally running back to this guy.  I was a little confused,  but I followed and it turns out that this guy is: 1. A baptized member of the church,  2. Speaks fluent English, and 3. Is from California, and now Elder Garcia and I are going to visit him tonight too.  I am still stunned that Elder Bahr was able to follow that prompting and run back to this random guy in the street.  I'll let you know how that progresses.  The other highlight of the week was last night when Elder Garcia and I had a Family Home Evening with special guests President and Hma. Wright.  Elder Garcia and I have had this idea planned for the past week to have a FHE with Javier in the house of a member family with President Wright there too.  We set the date for last night at 7:30, with the Pinos, and we have been talking to Javier about it all week and he was really excited for it and President Wright said that he could come and everything seemed perfect.....untiiiiiilllllll, Javier didn't meet us where we were supposed to meet at 7:15.  We waited until 7:30 and checked his house and ran basically around our whole sector but he was no where to be found.  So, at 8;00 Elder Garcia and I finally arrived at the Pino house where President and Hma. Wright were waiting for us, and I felt so bad showing up a half hour late and even worse without our investigator.  I was out of breath from running, and I felt just awful, but very quickly my feelings shifted as President Wright gave me a big hug.  I'm pretty sure that my stress was evident in my face, as I'm not too good at hiding how I feel.  I think everyone knows that......  But the lesson and the  Family Home Evening was amazing.  President Wright taught about successful marriages and that marriages should be covenants and not contracts.  It was kind of exactly what the Pinos needed to hear, as they are going through economic struggles right now, and that's been hard on all of them.  But most importantly, as President and Hma. Wright talked about marriages, and what a successful marriage is, or what a successful marriage needs, all that I could think about was you, Mom and Dad.  He dropped a really good quote from General Conference, I think:  "If you want to do your children a favor, love and respect your spouse."  The more I thought about that quote, the more it made sense to me.  Thank you for giving me that gift, mom and dad.  Thank you for showing me how a marriage works and giving me a goal to aim for for when I am older.

ALSO, this week I got letters from Randy and Serena, and last week I got letters from Troy and Rachel and Hannah.  Five of my friends in  two weeks¡¡¡¡¡¡ It was way cool to hear from them and it sounds like they are all having a really good time in their parts of the world.

I am sure that a ton more happened this week, but I can't remember it all, and I am always pressed for time when writing these emails.   Dad I have a quote for you to implement for when you are putting  these letters on my blog.  It's the same thing that President Hallstrom (visiting General Authority) said to his translator when he was here at our special stake conference: "I want you to say (or in this case, type) exactly what I am saying, but ten times better."

Elder Garcia and I are still doing really well, we are getting along just fine, 18 weeks and still strong, whowouldathunk.  Hes helping me out a lot, and it will be weird to have another companion after him, we have this thing down¡  I was very blessed to have had him as my first companion, he has been and still is a really good trainer, very obedient and very fun, a good way to set the tone for the rest of the mission, as a convert to the church he has a very unique testimony of the gospel that i absolutely love to hear, and its always fun living with someone from another country and culture.

Today was a really good P-day.  I got the Suit.  I'll be sure to send you a picture of it next week.  It's way nice.  Later, we had a district activity; we went to an all-you-can-eat buffet¡¡¡¡¡ and now I'm writing you.  Oh, and "Changes" are next Monday, so my next email could potentially be from another sector or with another companion.  Exciting stuff, huh¡¿¡

I know that this church is the only true church on the face of the earth today.  I know that this church contains the fullness of the Gospel and the power of God.  I know that we are being led by a prophet and apostles called by God in these days. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us just as much as he did for the people of Ancient Jerusalem and America, and for this cause he has given us prophets and apostles to guide us.  He wants us to have happiness and success, because we need the guidance that comes from them. The Bible alone is not enough; the answers to the problems of the world today can not be found alone in the Bible.  I know that my mission assignment was inspired of God, and I know that Heavenly Father has a purpose for why I am here.  I know that families can be forever, and I know that people can come to know that this church is true through reading the Book of Mormon.  Elder Garcia and I talk and talk with people all day about the beliefs of the church, but the only way someone can really know if it is true is through action; one has to read, one has to pray, one has to show his desire to know through action.  Thank you all so much for your prayers, your support and your love.  I cant wait to hear from you again soon, and keep being amazing.  I love you all. Stay safe.  Until next week¡¡¡

Con muchisimo amor,
Elder Nate Schwartz