Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Andrew's Mission Call and Getting Ready to Go

December 5, 2012 near Provo, UT

Dear Elder Schwartz, You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Brazil São Paulo South Mission!!!!! You should report to the Brazil Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Portuguese language.

Opening the mail....

Andrew's call to serve came on December 5th, 2012, with instructions to report on April 24th, 2013 to the Mission Training Center in Brazil.  He attended first block classes for the winter semester at BYU and then said goodbye to his cousins and headed back to California at the end of February to get ready to go.

Cousins' Dinner!!!!

After getting home, one of the first orders of business was to get those pesky wisdom teeth out.  He saw Dr. Blatter (not Dad) for that bit of fun.  He looked pretty puffy a day or so later. Ouch!

"I don't feel so good...."

Andrew was able to go to the Oakland Temple on March 16th with some friends and family.  It was a beautiful day outside on the temple grounds as well as the time spent in the House of the Lord.

with Aunt Maire and cousin Will

With Grandma

with Mom and Pops

Andrew and his buddy Mitchell Wilson, who is also leaving in April for his mission to Texas, will both be speaking at our ward's sacrament meeting (worship service) this coming Sunday March 31st (Easter) at 12:10 pm (555 Boyd Rd. in Pleasant Hill).  Friends are welcome.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chile Has Challenges and Really Good Ice Cream

Here is the latest message from Elder Schwartz.  New picture at the end of the post!

Dear Family!

Its great to hear that everone is doing well like always:  Phil with Americorp, Andrew with the mission preparation, and Mom and Dad with the usual routine.  The time is flying so so fast!  I have not received the birthday package yet, but I did get a wonderful email from my adopted older brother Devin and I got a really sweet letter from Jerusalem too!  

Wow, it was such a strange week!  Seriously!  Its had so many ups and downs and twists and turns.  I'll start out with the worst; I was actually upset for a couple of days about this.  Remember that story that I told you guys last week about finding the lost Fernando Cabello.  Well, we had an amazing lesson with him on Tuesday night, like seriously AMAZING.  He shared with us this awesome spiritual experience that he had a little while ago, and how prayer helped him to quit smoking.  It was AWESOME. Awesome, awesome, awesome.  Well, here comes the bad part.  Later in the week we were looking at the ward map, and it turns out that HE IS NOT IN MY SECTOR.  He is just BARELY in Elder Garcias and Elder Hendersons, so we have to stop teaching him, and give him to them.......... It's something that I really don't like talking about because I am still a little bitter about how the sector got divided (Elder Sanchez and I have only about 1/3 of the sector)...... but I am trying by best to just let it go and push forward with faith, and just know that Heavenly Father has it all planned out.  It's really really hard, but I am trying my best.  Ughhhhhhhhhhhh.

So, aside from that happenning, Elder Sanchez and I have spent the grand majority of our time over the last several days in the street, contacting people, looking for old investigators, and that has been kind of really hard too.  Up to this point in my mission, it really hasn't been too hard to find people to teach, or to have lessons, but right now it is quite hard.  So, Elder Sanchez and I spent a good two days this week without entering any houses or teaching any lessons, just finding, contacting, knocking, using the area book, its been very.... tiring.  I know that it's wrong to compare, but it's been especially hard because Elder Garcia and Henderson are having a lot of success.  So, it leads one to think, "What am I doing wrong?", ya know?  So, that was the low point of the week, but things are starting to look up now.

I got to do divisions (splits) with Elder Anderson this week, (Elder Carvajal, my new district leader, stayed in my sector with Elder Sanchez), and it was a really good experience.  I had a really sweet interview with Elder Carvajal after the divisions and he gave me all kinds of really good advice.  I learned all sorts of good stuff, and Elder Carvajal is a really really good District leader, and he´s helping me out a ton with this whole "Now I'm a trainer" thing, because to be dead honest, it's a lot harder than I was expecting.  But he whom the Lord calls, he qualifies!  I´ve been telling myself that on a daily basis, and it helps.

The highs of the week!  I am not sure if you guys know who Hna Paulina is, but when I got here she was super inactive, and now she is going to church every Sunday like since December.  They're probably one of my favorite families to visit because she and her son Marcos have real desires to learn and to grow.  She has been inactive for about 10 years, so we are kind of reteaching them everything.  Well, guess what!  She isn't married, but has a boyfriend that she lives with, and they've been living together for years.  Her boyfriend is atheist, but now he is starting to participate in the lessons!  It is so cool because in all honesty, we didnt expect that it would ever happen.  We always invited him to participate, but he would usually just go outside and smoke.  But now, he is participating!  It is so so so cool!  Elder Sanchez and I are really excited to be able to teach them as a whole family.

Okay, another cool thing that happened.  A few weeks ago, Eduardo got ordained as a priest, right?  Well, sadly, the bishopbric kind of messed up, and they ordained him BEFORE he got sustained in front of the ward, so the ordination needed to be redone.  WELL, this Sunday, he got ordained again, and the bishop made me do it!  I say "made," because I really had no choice in the situation, he just looked me in the eyes, and kinda told me to do it, which was pretty cool.... SO, that was an awesome experience, being able to give someone the priesthood.  I have never done that before!  I love, love, love giving blessings!  Theyre always such powerful experiences!  Also, I had to give a talk on Sunday too.  Well, I wouldn't really call it a talk, it was more of a call to action.  I shared some missionary scriptures with the ward (my favorite being in the 1st chapeter of John where Phillip invites Nathaniel to "come and see" Christ.)  How Phillip invited was simple, it wasn't an obligation, and I tried to explain that how through simple invitations for people to discover their own testimony, like through prayer, or the Book of Mormon, AMAZING things can happen.  Like how Nathaniel was converted and then bacame the best apostle ever! (well thats just my opinion... but still)), and then I shared some ward stats with them and all in all, it was a really good time.  It was funny though, I had a talk all written out and prepared, but the talk that I actually gave, had NOTHING TO DO WITH what I wrote..... aha.

The last cool thing happened last night when Elder Sanchez and I went to visit Claudia, and we ended up teaching her whole family, and they are AWESOME!  It was perfect, we got along really well, and we have a next appointment with them later in the week.  We emphasized that our message is about their relationship with God and Christ, and no one else.  We are super excited to teach them again.  They have a bulldog too.  It reminded me of the good ol´ Alhambra days, GO DOGS!

This morning Elder Henderson and I played basketball at the church and I DESTROYED him.  Well, it was close..... 11-9, but it was the first time I have ever succeeded at basketball in my life, so I'm still excited..... still not sure if he let me win or not though......  

Anyways, that was basically me week in a nutshell; lots of ups, and lots of downs, but the ups are always higher than the downs.  I know that the Church is true, and that if we put our trust in the Lord especially during times of trouble, the storms will eventually pass and everything will be okay.  I love you all so much.  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and love and support.  Until next week!

your son/friend/neighbor/relative/brother,

Elder Schwartz

P.S. There should be a picture of me eating icecream attached to this, the ice cream here is WAY BETTER than the ice cream in the states, its so so good, but my waistline is furious!

I have an addiction!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Training Days......

Sorry, I didn't get last week's email up on the blog.  So, this week, I have posted both messages from Elder Schwartz, plus several new pics that he sent along.

Here is the one from 3/11/13:

Dear Family and Friends,

This letter isn't going to be too long, but I am going to try to send a lot of photos.

Like I mentioned in my last email, Elder Garcia and I have divided the sector, and that's been making the work a little harder.  But I know that with time, it'll all level out.  It's a little hard getting used to working in only half of the area I've been working in, and only seeing half of the people that I've been accustomed to seeing for the past 8 months, but I'm trying not to let it get me down much.

Elder Sanchez and I are starting to get along better.  At first it was kind of hard -- there is always an awkward stage at the beginning of a new companionship that seems to go away with time.  Well, that awkward stage was dragging on a little bit with Elder Sanchez, and I was getting a little worried.  BUT, NOW we are fine.  He was just having a kind of hard time becoming accustomed to the mission lifestyle.  I'm trying my best to put myself in his shoes, and help him out the best I can.  He is a really good missionary, and he is starting to come out of his shell a bit more.

This week was stake conference, which was great.  I got to see President and Hna. Wright.  They both gave great talks, and we had a special visit from a member of the Seventy.  I don't remember his last name, but he is from Argentina and he did a really good job, too.  The stake conference had an overall theme of missionary work, which was really cool.  Almost all of the speakers talked about the importance of missionary work, and all of the youth from the local area that have their mission calls bore their testimonies. it was SWEET!

The investigators are doing....... alright.....One of the women we were teaching...Welllllllll, she got.... pregnant.  Well actually, we don't know for sure yet, but last time we talked to her she was on her way to the hospital to find out..... SO, this whole situation makes it really difficult to teach her, because we always taught her at her boyfriend's house.  Basically, the woman's family never want her to see any member of her boyfriend's family ever again ever.  I just feel bad for every person involved in the situation -- for the woman, and her boyfriend, for the parents, for the future baby.  Big decisions have big consequences.  I don't know why some people don't understand that.

We have zone conference again in a week and Hna. Wright asked Elder Garcia and I to sing again....... oh no....... 

Uhm, but that's pretty much it for the week.  Elder Sanchez and I are doing well, and the sector is well. Being a trainer is kinda really hard, but I think I am starting to get a handle on it.  I love and miss you all.  Stay safe, say your prayers, and I´ll get back to you next week! 

Love you all!

Elder Schwartz

Elder Sanchez and I getting to paint the apartment

With Daniel and Edith and Elder Garcia

With Daniel

Elder Garcia and Elder Henderson made an "Elder Schwartz" doll....

Me and the Elder Schwartz "Doll"

Elders Schwartz, Garcia, Daniel, Elders Henderson and Sanchez
Eating Completos

Here's the email from today (March 18th):

Dear Family and Everyone!

Sorry, I don't have a lot of time....... This is going to be a short one.... Sorry...........

It was such an eventful week though!  It was a great one.  Elder Sanchez and I are doing well.  We're getting more and more used to each other with every day.  No, the life of a trainer isn't super easy; it's actually way harder than I was anticipating, but we are doing okay; we are doing well.  It is SOOOO COOL to hear that President Doll and Sister Doll are coming to MY mission!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness!  Seriously, I have been SO BLESSED TO BE HERE.  First, Kelly in the MTC, then Cindy and Dusty and Hna. Jennings, and now, the Dolls!  Ahaha, I think that the Lord knew that I was going to feel a little lonely sometimes, ahaha. They are going to LOVE LOVE LOVE IT here.  It's the greatest mission on earth!  

Two really cool spiritual things happenned this week that I want to share with y´all:

The first is that yesterday Eduardo taught the Gospel Principles class in Sunday School and he did AN AWESOME JOB!  Just being able to sit there and listen to him explain to people about the Atonement like he has been a member his whole life was such a cool experience to be a part of.  To think that just a couple of months ago, he didn't have any idea of these blessings that we take part in every day, even existed!  Now, he´s teaching it!  I may have teared up a little durring that class.

The second experience happened while Elder Sanchez and I were looking for new investigators on Thursday night.  The work has been kind of really slow since the division of the sectors, and it's been kind of hard for Elder Sanchez and I, especially because Elder Garcia and Elder Henderson are seeing better progress in their side.... it's a little frustrating...  So, Thursday night we pulled some names of old investigators out of our area book and started searching.  Well, we found this one name, Fernando Cabello, who was an investigator like two years ago, and who I had never heard of.  Well, his address was written in the area book, but the address that was written didn't actually exist.  So here we are, Elder Sanchez and I in the middle of the road at nine at night looking for a house that doesn't seem to exist, so I start praying in my head, and Elder Sanchez and I start walking down the street.  Suddenly, the idea comes into my head to stop and knock on a specific house.  It wasn't a voice or anything, just like a feeling, a thought, so I knocked the door.  No answer. We waited like five minutes, and then I started to walk away, but Elder Sanchez told me to stop and try again, so I did.  After a good two more minutes, an elderly man answers the door, and I asked him if he knew a Fernando Cabello who lived close by, who was receiving missionaries like us.  The man told us that, yes, he knew a Fernando Cabello, but that he's a practicing Jehovah's Witness, but then, interestingly, the man invited us in.  He introduced us to his wife and then sat us down on his couch, and in all honesty, I was preparing myself for the worst.  I was reviewing bible scriptures in my head because I thought that a bash was about to go down.  But after 30 seconds of silence, the elderly man breaks out into laughter and tells us that he is Fernando, that he's not a Jehovah's Witness, and that he has actually been waiting for a long time for the missionaries to come back to visit him.  Apparently, he was visiting with the missionaries when his house was in the boundaries of our neighboring ward, but when they changed the boundaries like a year in a half ago, the missionaries just stopped visiting him, and his contact with the church was lost. We talked with him for a little while, and he shared with us his expectations for our visits, which was amazing! (he was like, "in a perfect situation, you guys come and visit my wife and me weekly, and we can read together, and you can teach us the lessons, I can ask you questions of the doubts that I have, and that we could help him feel closer to God and Christ."  We asked him if we could do anything for him before we had to leave and he asked us to leave with a family prayer and blessing on the house.  It was like a DREAM.  I've heard stories like that in the Liahona and stuff, but I wasn't convinced that they like actually happen to normal missionaries.  It was SUCH a powerful experience for both Elder Sanchez and me.  We are going to be visiting Fernando and his wife tomorrow night.  We left them with a couple of scriptures to read, and we are super excited.

Anyways, I am out of time now.  I love you guys.  The church is true, stay safe.  I DID get the letter from Connie´s FHE group, and tell Cousin Cindy "thank you" for her letter, too, and that a response is on the way.

Until next week, with love,
Elder Schwartz

P-day BBQ on the 15th floor.  The shoes aren't mine....

Elder Garcia was scared...


Almuerzo with kids...

And with Pauline

Monday, March 4, 2013

New Companions!

Elders Garcia, Henderson, Sanchez and me.....
Elder Schwartz loves to get mail:  

Elder Nathaniel Schwartz
Chile Santiago EAST Mission
Cristobal Colón 6824
Las Condes, Casilla 27.144
Santiago, Región Metropolitana

Here is his latest message home:

Dear Family!

So, like I said in the last letter, a lot of big changes have happened this past week, but I am happy to report that everything went very smoothly.  I am now with my 3rd companion, Elder Sanchez from Lima, Peru (My second Peruvian companion).  He is 19, and a convert to the church.  He has been a member for a little more than eight years, and all of his family are members except for his older brother who is 21.  He has three siblings:  an older brother, a younger brother, and a younger sister.  He is the first missionary in his family, and he does not speak a lick of English.  But that's fine; I'm not having too many problems with my Spanish anymore.  Yes, I am still living with Elder Garcia, and he is training Elder Henderson from Atlanta, Georgia, a gringo!  I am actually really happy that he is training a gringo, because it's going to help Elder Garcia a lot with his English, and Elder Henderson a lot with his Spanish.  I am very thankful that I was trained by a latin; it helped me to learn and grow very quickly.  So, life in the pension is a little louder, and messier, but for the most part it has been really fun having two more people to share it with.  Plus, Elder Garcia is helping me out a lot with how to be a good trainer.

With new missionary companion, Elder Sanchez

Yes, we had to divide the sector; Elder Sanchez and I with one half, and Elders Garcia and Henderson with the other.  It's actually something really hard for me personally, because I have spent the last six changes working in the whole sector, and now I am unable to visit a lot of people that I am very close to. :(  But it's what the Lord wants, so we are going to do it.  Elder Garcia and I tried to make the division as fair as possible, but it didn't come out exactly perfect 50-50.  I'll be okay though, Elder Sanchez and I are going to have a lot of work to do over these next several weeks, a lot of searching, and a lot of time going down the ward list.  That's basically what we have to do (all four of us missionaries); that is, to develop teaching opportunities for four missionaries in an area where there were only two of us for a long time.  It's going to be rough at first, but I'm not too worried about it.

Elders Sanchez and Henderson arrived Tuesday morning with 28 other missionaries, and we all met at a big meeting in the Apoquindo chapel in Las Condes.  Since Elder Garcia and I aren't familiar with that area, we got lost... :)  but we made it to the chapel eventually!  And that's where we met our new companions, and much to my surprise, I also got to see Hermana Jennings!  (We were in the same ward at BYU together.)  So, that was really cool; seeing a familiar face is always nice.

With Sister Jennings, from same BYU ward

Basically, Elder Garcia and I spent the majority of the week helping the new missionaries get to know the members of the ward, especially the ward leaders.  We spent about half of our time together, and half of our time apart, but starting tonight, the great split goes into effect and we´re on our own.  I am really happy with Elder Sanchez.  He is a little timid and nervous, but he's a good missionary.  He has great intentions and a very strong testimony.  I know that we are going to have a really good time together.  He is really funny too, and having a companion with a sense of humor makes the work a lot more enjoyable.

All in all, it was a good week.  I'm in a good place with a great companion.  Yeah, I can feel the weight of the responsibility a little heavier, but I think I'm going to be fine.  I know that this is the true church.  I know that our Heavenly Father knows us each individually, our weekness, our strengths, and our desires, and that He always wants whats best for us; and maybe what is best for us isn't always what we THINK is best for us.  But I know that if we trust in Him and His plan, we will be happy.  And that's the reason why we are here, right? be happy!

Thank you all for your love and your support and your concerns and your prayers and letters and thoughts and love.  I really can feel it.  I love you and miss you all!  Keep in touch!

Until next week, with love,

Elder Schwartz

P.S. Make sure to remind Andrew and Phil to write me! I love you!  And, Dad, the mission picture was PERFECT!  Elder Garcia says that we are like twins, but my hair is a little thicker ;)  (see below for pic that pops sent to Elder Nate)

Elders Schwartz, Chambers, and Kay from 1981

With Sonic the Hedgehog?