Saturday, December 29, 2012

Feliz Navidad - Round 2

Elder Schwartz wrote us a short note on Christmas eve, which I mentioned in the last post.  He had sent some great pics, which we enjoyed.  He mentioned to us that he would be trying to "Skype" us at around 2 or 3pm our time (PST) on Christmas day.  Fortunately, I had left my laptop on from early in the morning with Skype opened up -- Phil had gone in my bedroom and noticed the laptop beeping (ringing) as we were preparing to have some breakfast later in the morning, long before we were expecting to hear from him.  Elder Schwartz was trying to contact us!  It turns out that Elder Garcia was trying to skype his family and they live in Spain (where it was already quite late in the evening).  So they had arranged to both make their calls at the same time -- for us earlier in the day, and for Elder Garcia's family quite late at night.  It all worked out....  During the skype session, at first we only heard his voice (no video of him) and he was able to see us, but after some maneuvering on his end we could see him.  He was using an iPad, loaned to him by some members in his ward, on their wifi network.  The only problem was, that he could only get the back facing camera to work on the iPad.  When he had the camera facing him (so we could see his face), he couldn't see us, since his face was to the back side of the iPad.  He brilliantly solved this dilemma by going into the bathroom and using a mirror -- so he could see us and we could see him.  It worked great, and we spent the better part of a couple of hours visiting and laughing, and having a wonderful time with seeing him and talking to him. The first thing we noticed is that Elder Schwartz has a slight accent to his speech now, when he speaks in English.  He thought that was absurd when we mentioned it to him -- but it is true, nevertheless.
Below are some pics from our visit...

Here is a short video clip of some of our skype session.  Do you hear any accent?

Click here for a short video of part of our "Skype" session.

In addition to sharing with us what he has been doing, Elder Schwartz, recounted how Christmas is different in Chile.  He said that instead of Santa, in Chile there is the "Little Old Man of Easter" (literal translation of the Spanish), who visits the children on Christmas Eve.  Kids leave their homes for a short time on Christmas Eve, and when they return, gifts have been left for them.  Then they stay up all night playing with them outside in the streets.  Hard for some elders to get a good night's sleep.

He also mentioned that one of his favorite parts of Christmas was sharing the Schwartz family Christmas video that we made last year while we were all together.  He said that the families in Chile that he told about it (and then they watched it on YouTube) really got a kick out of it.  Here is the link for that fun video (again):

Link to Christmas video

Elder Schwartz asked me to thank you all for the letters and packages and your love and support that he feels all the way down in Chile.  His family thanks you all as well.  Muchas Gracias!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas -- Feliz Navidad!

Elder Schwartz's email this week was very brief -- just a note to let us know when we will be able to talk to him (or Skype, perhaps) on Christmas Day.  He sent some cool photos which will be posted below and he has this message for everyone -- MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Gifts from Elder Garcia and me for members and investigators

Christmas Gifts to share

Me and my biggest fan, Jacinta

Match game with Valentina

My wall by my bed

Snow in the summer in the Andes

Our Bedroom

Our Christmas tree fell down!

With Elder Garcia and his teacher from the MTC

Monday, December 17, 2012

Staying in Geronimo!

Elder Nate's address, latest e-mail and some photos:

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

Dear Mom, Dad, family, friends,

Firstly, and MOST importantly, changes just happened this Saturday and guess what!?!?! I'M STAYING HERE IN GERONIMO!!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Elder Garcia and I get to stay here, and I am very, VERY happy about that.  Geronimo is my home here in Chile, and I am very lucky to have the opportunity to be spending a 3rd of my mission here!!!!!!!!!  There are rumors going around the mission right now that this upcoming change is going to be 10 weeks instead of the normal 6 weeks because of all of ther changes going on in the MTC and training time being shortened, and all of that.  I'm not sure if the rumor is true or not... but I hope it is.  Elder Garcia and I are getting along really well, and there is work to be done here in this sector.  That's the greatest feeling for a missionary -- having a full schedule every day -- love it, love it, love it.

WOW!  IS IT REALLY JUST A WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS?!?!  It really does not feel like a whole year has passed since last Christmas.  Time is going so SO fast, it's incredible.  It's good to hear that the brothers made it home safely (from BYU).  Be sure to send them my love.  I am really looking forwards to talking to you all soon!  ABOUT THAT!  Here is the deal:  we have two options of doing this..... we can do it just like a normal phone call, but what a majority of the missionaries are planning to do is Skype.  SOoooooooo, if that interests you at all we can do that :) .  Elder Garcia and I already have our Christmas day schedule set up with several families here in the ward who have invited us (bless their hearts), and we have a mission activity on the 24th, too.  Make sure that Dad brings his laptop or Andrew's Macbook, or Ipad, or whatever so we can do Skype, if thats what you guys want.

This was a pretty good week.  Nothing too extraordinary happened, but it was great nonetheless.  It went by really really fast for some reason.  We spent a lot of time this week doing service for the members.  We painted Hermana Julia Diaz´s ceiling, as she told us stories from when her husband was mission president in Antofogasta and they spent three years up there, and that was really cool.  We painted The Gonzalez Family's fence while Paola Gonzalez told me all about Sao Paulo Brazil.  She's from the mission where Andrew is going to be serving..... I just wish that he emailed me so I could tell him all of the amazing things that I learned about his mission ;)...... From everything that she told me, Andrew is going to be very happy where he is going.  His mission is a lot bigger than mine.  He has the temple in his mission, and the church is really strong there and growing.  He's going to eat a lot of black beans and rice.  It's really humid and hot, so he's going to be wet for two straight years.  Just like everywhere else in the world, there are both rich areas and poor areas, but nothing too dangerous.  The one problem is that because its so hot and humid, people basically don't wear clothes there, or very little clothing, soooooooo........ yeah.  

I did interchanges this week again with my buddy Elder Anderson, but this time I went to his sector.  It was the first time I left my sector in like almost 4 months, so that was nice.  It was nice being with a gringo for a little bit of time, but I missed my Elder Garcia.   

Elder Garcia and I have been spending all of our free time (which is like 1 hour each day) making Christmas cards and baking m&m cookies for the ward members and investigators here in this sector.  It is Elder Garcia's idea, and it is turning out super, super well.  Mom, I can make a batch of cookies all by myself -- you taught me well.  We are going to try to give them to the members every night this week by doing a doorbell ditch kind of thing, but it's a lot harder to do that in Chile because every house has a big ol' fence..... Oh well, we will see what happens.

On Friday, Elder Garcia and I did some deep cleaning and totally rearranged the pension.  It has a much more homey feel to it now, which I like a lot, because before it kind of felt like i was in the military or something, but we put up a bunch of pictures and changed around the furniture and stuff, and now coming back to the pension after a long day is really, pleasant.  Also, on Friday, I heard about the tragedy in Conneticut, and I am praying for all of the families that were affected by it.  It is so, so sad that things like that happen.  It gave me a stomach ache for a while.  I hope everyone back home is okay.  Friday night, Elder Garcia and I taught a lesson to a new investigator named Patricio, and it was such an INCREDIBLE lesson.  At first, we were kind of nervous to teach him because it seemed to us like he just wanted to bible bash and debate gospel points, but when we entered his house and just sat down and started talking and asking him about his beliefs, things just went amazingly.  As he talked about what he believed and felt, I couldnt help but crack as smile because EVERYTHING that he said was doctrine.  He basically recited to us the thirteen Articles of Faith, that God is a god of love, that we are His children, that our bodies are the most precious gifts that we have, that we shouldn't worship the virgin mary, that after the apostles died so did God´s authority, that God has a plan for us, that there was a pre-existance, and that all the things around us testify that there is a God.  WE DIDN'T SAY ANY OF THAT, he did!  It was such a cool lesson and I am looking forward to teaching him again.  Rodrigo and Javier are both doing well.  Javier has a baptismal date, but he's still having little issues quitting smoking, and Rodrigo is still reading, but it's been hard to teach him because I'm pretty dang sure that he and his wife are about to get divorced..... Eduardo is still progressing really well and on Friday night he asked us about baptism.  He's going to be a member (of the Church) before the end of this change.  I am very grateful for all of these people that I have the opportunity to share the Gospel with, and it is such an amazing blessing that I have to be able to see their lives change right before my eyes, and if that change isn't a testament that this church is true, then I don't know what is.

Thank you so much for your weekly letters, and your love and support.  I am vey much looking forward to talking to you on the 25th, and I hope that youre all having a great time during this Christmas break!  The Church is true!  Keep being amazing!  I love and am praying for all of you!

Until next week!
Elder Schwartz

Monday, December 10, 2012

Brother's Mission Call

Elder Schwartz just got the news today about his brother Andrew's mission call to serve in the Brazil Sao Paulo south mission starting near the end of April 2013.  He is excited for his little bro as you can see below:

Here is a clip of the call opening:

And Elder Schwartz's email:

Dear Family and Friends!
BRAZILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Is he so incredibly excited?  He better be!  He´s going to be basically my next door neighbor. the only thing seperating us is Argentina.....  But seriously, I'm so proud of Andrew, and he is going to be an awesome missionary.  Cindy is back in Utah! :,(  It's okay though; I'll see her again in twentyish months!  She is an amazing missionary, and I still have a lot to learn from her example.  She sent me a whole bunch of care packages right before she left that I'm still getting every week.  Super sweet!  I hope that you get home safely from the East Coast, Pops and I hope that the service (for Uncle Charlie) went well.  SO, Andrew is going to go back to school for a couple months, and then end early?  Still going to live in heritage or what?  What's the plan?  The MTC in Brazil eh?  I've seen some pictures of the MTC in Brazil.  It's a pretty fancy place!  I'm very excited for him.  Oh, and thank you for the video link.  It was SUCH A GOOD VIDEO; you should post it on my blog ;D  Congratulations to all of you sister missionaries out there.  La obra misional needs all the help from the sisters that we can get; they're just like us guy missionaries, but better in basically every way.....

Well, this week was dang busy for me,
It started out right after I ended my letter you you guys last week.  Elder Garcia and I went to the chapel to practice a musical number that he was playing the piano for, for our zone conference on Wednesday.  Long story cut short -- they manipulated me into singing with them, and Elder Garcia decided not to play the piano, so we all sang acapella.  NEVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE WILL I DO THAT!  So, we spent a lot of Monday and Tuesday practicing. We sang Lead Kindly Light/Divina Luz, in this English/Spanish mash up kind of thing, and it was ME, Elder Garcia, Hma Hardman and Hma Achucarro (sister missionaries), and in practices, it sounded pretty dang okay.  But when Wednesday finally came and we were in front of all of those people, we kinda really crashed, and it came out super bad (not just saying that).  But I learned a couple really good lessons from that experience, 1.  I'm never going to sing the song Lead Kindly Light ever again in my life and, 2.  I want to take singing classes at BYU when I get home.
Aside from that, the other musical news of the week was that on Saturday, we went to the temple with Eduardo to see the choirs, and much to our surprise, the show was featuring special musical guest, Elder David Archuleta.  So that was pretty stinkin cool.  He´s a really good singer.  He sang ´´The Prayer´´(more popularly done by Celine Dion and Josh Groban) with this one girl, and my heart melted...... sooooo dreamy.  He's no Josh Groban, but he did a really good job, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, Eduardo had a really really good time.  He also came to church on Sunday.  He is progressing FAST and well.  And do you want to know the secret?  He has member friends that are helping him along the way.  He has that support from other people -- SO IMPORTANT.
The zone conference went really well.  It was long, but we learned a lot.  The main focuses were on the importance of working with the members and asking for references.  There was a really good quote by President Wright that kind of really caught my attention and Elder Garcias attention which, was, "Every member is a missionary, and every missionary is a member."  WOW, why didn't that click sooner!  This is MY ward these members are MY fellow ward members.  I need to be a part of this ward if I want the support of this ward, so that's something that Elder Garcia and I have been trying to do more of over the past few days.  Today we bought a bunch of ingredients and we are going to make cookies for a whole bunch of members.  If the members here are anything like us missionaries, the best way to get to their hearts is through their stomachs ;D
I did some service on Tuesday and I would love to give a special thanks to John McDonald and Teri Wygal for helping to prepare me.  I spent a good 2 hours sanding chairs with Rodrigo (one of our investigators), and all that i could think about while I was doing that was when i was back working at Chairs for Affairs doing the same exact thing, to basically the same exact chairs.  Rodrigo was very impressed with my sanding skills that I picked up from John and all of those dang pinewood derby cars.  So thank you all for preparing me for my mission! 
Sadly Im running out of time, so im going to wrap the letter up here, and I'd just like to end with an invitation for all of the people out there reading this who have their mission calls.  It's the same invitation that I sent to Andrew a half hour ago:
"I have a request for you: Right before cindy left for Utah she sent me a big envelope full of talks by general authorities that she highlighted and wrote on. It was a super sweet gift, but out of these talks there was one that stuck out to me like no one's buisness; its called ´´the 4th missionary´´ and here is the link to it. 

The Fourth Missionary

What i would like you to do is, print it out and take a pen and a highlighter and read it (it's a long motha, 24 pages, so you're going to have to dedicate a good hour or so to doing this).  When you are done reading and dissecting it, I want you to set some personal goal on what you are going to do as a missionary based off of what you learned from the talk.  I just read the talk 2 days ago, and it's full of information that i wished that I knew going into my mission, especially about our purpose as missionaries.  It will help you out a lot."
Thank you all so much for all that you have done and are doing for me.  Thank you for your support -- it means a lot.  I know this church is true and that the happiness and the blessings that it brings into people´s lives are REAL.  The only way we can expect to get blessings is from actions of faith, and that's a lesson that i am learning every day,  Have a very merry Christmas.  Stay safe.  I love you all.
until next week,Elder Schwartz

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Already.....?

Elder Nate Schwartz is enjoying his time in Chile. 

He loves hearing from all of you.  Please write if you get a chance:

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

He sent an email this week and some photos:  

Dear Family!

What?  It's December already?  When the HECK did that happen?  Time is going by so fast!  I'm happy to hear that the transition from Thanksgiving break back to the normal routine went well for everyone, and I am SO EXCITED FOR MY BABY BROTHER TO GET HIS MISSION CALL THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!!  They grow up so fast :´)  I look forward to seeing him here in Chile in 4 months ;D

This week went by pretty well.  Nothing too extraordinary happened, but it was great nonetheless.  First, an answer to your questions Dad:  the Mapuche are the native people here of Chile, the Lamanites, the Indians; they are the Inca's next-door neighbors.  There is a really strong Mapuche history here; lots of mapuche pride, it's pretty cool.  But when I said "Mapuche stuff" in my last letter, I was referring to ponchos, andes bags, wood carvings, pictures, jewelrey and little do-dads like that.  And "onze" is a meal that we have here in Chile.  The biggest meal of the day here is almuerzo (lunch); breakfast and dinner are both pretty small, or nonexistent, and then onze is the last meal of the day.  It's like the before bed snack, where they have bread or little sandwiches or something small like that.  People usually take onze as a family, and talk about their day and stuff, but its usually pretty late, like at 8:30 or 9:30 at night.

This week I had the opportunity to do splits with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Martinez.  It's always a lot of fun doing that.  For this split, he came here to Geronimo and we had a good time.  I definitely learned a lot.  He shared this really cool spiritual thought in one of the houses that we visited.  It was on Grace, about what Grace is, and it's role in our lives.  A lot of people, both inside and outside of the church have heard this word grace tossed around, but not a lot of people know what that word truly means.  David A. Bednar gave a really good talk on Grace, and he gave a really good definition, too, for anyone who wants to research it out, and I reccomend that you all do so :D

On Thursday we had suprise guests at our District meeting, President and Hma Wright!  It's always a pleasure to see them, and it was interesting, because at the end of the district meeting he spoke to our zone for a little while, ALSO about Grace.  It was kind of the theme of my week, and he shared Helaman 12: 24.  It had the phrase "Grace for grace" in it, and then he spoke about how we need to give grace to receive grace, and give mercy in order to receive mercy during and after this life.  So that's something that I'm trying to apply more into my life -- grace.  

Oh, also Thursday is mail day, and my whole zone was kinda mad at me because I got 7 letters.  THANK YOU ALL!  Getting the love from my friends back home is so, so, so cool. Anthony Kirlwald, you´re an Angel and I love you.  I once again did another major writing session this morning.  So, those of you who wrote me and haven't gotten letters back, just wait, they´re coming, I promise.

Saturday was really cool because Elder Garcia and Javier and I were able to go to the temple and see a choir show that they are doing there, and Javier loved it!  It was really cool; they set up this outdoor theater and they had a spectacular youth choir and dancers.  People gave short little Christmas themed discourses, and the temple was all lit up with cool lights (it was no where near as cool as the Oakland temple, but still cool). There should be some photos of it attached.

Sunday was a really nice day.  Elder Garcia and I got ready and left early for church to help to wheel Hmo Quiroz to church.  Then, when we got there, much to our surprise.... ALL OF THE SEATS WERE GONE.  They were all in storage because the youth of the other ward that uses our building had an activity Saturday night and no one bothered to set the chairs back up....... And now I understand why Dad made me stay late at all of those church activities to take everything down and set it back to normal, so things like what happenned yesterday DON'T happen.  Elder Garcia and I had to set up all of the chairs for the whole ward basically by ourselves.  Members started showing up when we were almost done and they helped us out.  Eduardo came for the whole 3 hours and had a really really good time.  He met some members and they got along super well, and he is excited to come back next week.  Just like you said Dad, people who have friends that are in the church to help them are so much more prepared to receive the gospel.  Really, the way things are looking, Eduardo seems like he's already a member.  We had a really good leadership meeting about that yesterday, too.  It was with all of the ward mission leaders and the stake mission leader and we discussed that the best way to help people to become interested in the church is through the members!  THE MEMBERS ARE THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE MISSIONARIES!  Go help your missionaries!  

Anyways, there is more that I want to write but I am all out of time.....Drat!  Thank you all so much for your love and for your support.  I miss you all, and hope that you're having a wonderful holiday season.  I am here down in Chile.

The Church is true!

With love, 
Elder Schwartz