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!

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