Monday, April 29, 2013

Seminary Teachers

Seminary Class

Thank you for the letters, Mom and Dad.  I am kinda really pressed on time today.  I just kinda started emailing people and the time just kinda flew (Dusty, Marissa, Andrew, etc.).  Sorry, next week's will be longer.  It's great to hear that Andrew made it to the MTC safely and that everything is going well for him.  He's going to be an amazing missionary.

This week went by well; they always do.  Everyone has been a little sick, and it is starting to get cold here, but aside from that, everything is going swimmingly.

Like I have mentioned in other letters, Elder Sanchez and I have been working a lot with the ward members and that has helped us out a lot this week.  We now have three new investigators, which is really nice; new faces are always great.  We had the opportunity to go out and visit a few families with a returned missionary from the ward.  They are less active members who I had never met before, so Elder Sanchez and I have even more new faces to teach, too.

I think that the highlight of the week was when Elder Sanchez and I had the opportunity to teach seminary to the kids in the ward!  (Like mother, like son, I guess....)  But seriously, it was awesome and it helped us out a lot to make a connection with the kids in the ward -- win their love a little bit.  The teacher called us at the last minute, and told us the topic that we needed to teach, and we just kind of improvised, and it turned out really really good.  The kids all paid attention, they were all involved, they asked questions, gave answers -- it was a ball.  We took a picture.  (It's up above.)

On Sunday night we had a stake activity for our ward where all of the high council and the stake presidency came and did home teaching visits with all of the priesthood holders in our ward.  Thirty or more men showed up.  They assigned companionships, gave us names and addresses, and we took off.  I thought it was a really good event, because the home and visiting teaching system in this ward is basically non-existent.  It is something that we missionaries are trying to help the ward with.  

Dad, thank you for the advice on not getting worked up and frustrated.  To be dead honest, I think this has probably been the most frustrating change so far in the mission, and it just kind of came out of left field.  I thought that I got over the whole "getting frustrated" thing when I was finally able to speak Spanish, but just like you said, I think I was measuring my success as a missionary on the wrong scale.  Also, a frustrated missionary can't have the Spirit.  I think that this is something that every missionary needs to learn at some point in time during the mission.  

Anyways, I love you guys so much.  Thank you so much for your love and support and thoughts and prayers and everything.  I know that the Church is true.  I know that the work that Elder Sanchez and I are doing is the work of the Lord, and that through this message, people will come to know their Savior, and their lives will change.

With love,

Elder Schwartz

P.S.  So, I left out something REALLY important that happened this past week.  Elder Sanchez and I spent 2 days of our week helping out the Rojas family, because Hno. Rojas passed away this week.  His service was on Wednesday, and it was a really nice, peaceful service.  It really is a blessing to see how knowledge of the plan of salvation can bring peace to a family during times as trying as saying goodbye to a loved one.  All of his kids spoke at his service, and Hna. Rojas spoke too.  They were all in good cheer -- the Hna. Rojas actually made several jokes during her talk.  All in all, it was a very spiritual event, and an event that I'm not going to forget.  I attached a photo of Hno. Rojas, Hna. Rojas, Elder Sanchez and I at their anniversary celebration on April 13th.

Brother and Sister Rojas

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's Official...Elder Andrew Schwartz Is On His Way

Yesterday evening Andrew and his family met with the stake president, President Score, and he was set apart as a full-time missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He is now officially Elder Schwartz.  He heads to Provo Utah today to be trained as a missionary and learn the Portugese language.

Please write him a letter -- you can send it to:

Elder Andrew Schwartz
MTC Box 127
BRA-SPS 0603
2005 N.  900 E.
Provo, UT

Also you can write him through the website,  This website delivers letters daily to the Mission Training Center and there is no cost to the sender.  His mission name is Brazil Sao Paolo South and he expects to depart the MTC on June 3rd, just under six weeks from now (if that darn visa comes through in time).  

Elder Schwartz with President Score
John joined with us -- he and Virginia are family!

Elder Andrew Schwartz with his proud momma and papa

Elder Schwartz was able to enjoy a Kinder's dinner (which you can't find in Provo, Utah or in Brazil), and say goodbye to good friends before finishing packing and departing early in the morning for the Oakland airport to head to Utah.  We noticed a really nice sign made by friend and neighbor, Hannah DeVries on our street to wish Andrew well on his mission,  Thanks, Hannah!

Thanks, Hannah!
Handshake with Ana

Last hug for Momma

We'll miss him, but we know he will be a great missionary!
At the airport...

Farewell, Elder Andrew Schwartz...

Good friend Devin picked up Elder Schwartz at the SLC airport and got him to Provo, for lunch with cousins Cindy and Ben, and then onto the Missionary Training Center.

As a post script, I found this photo of the evening when Phil left on his mission, just about this time, six years ago.  My, oh, my how they change....

2007 -- Phil is set apart for his mission

For a post, post script....Andrew sent out on instagram yesterday this snapshot of a painting that Virginia McDonald did in 2002 of the boys when they were quite young.  He wrote this to his friends:
"Ever since we were young boys, my brothers and I knew that we were going on missions some day.  This will be my last post (on instagram) for two years.  Thank you everyone for everything you have done for me.  Love, Elder Schwartz  #mission #brazil  #seeyouin2years"

Nate and Andrew

Elders Israelson and Fiotonu, who the boys really loved and looked up to...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bowling in Chile

Love that pink bowling ball....

With Elder Sanchez

Dear Family and Everyone!

I love getting the photos from you guys on a weekly basis.  It looks like this week was especially great with a suprise visit from bearded Phil.  He rocks it.  I approve (if that really means anything).  It has to be so weird spending your final moments with Andrew, but he is going to be a great missionary.  These are exciting times for the Schwartz family!

Yeah, this week was a good one -- it had its downs of course, but it had its ups, too.  AND I am already running out of time, so this letter isn't going to be very long.  SORRY!.  The biggest up was that Rodrigo came to church on Sunday and LOVED IT.  He is progressing well and it is awesome to see.  Please keep him in your prayers.  We have a lesson with him on Wednesday that I am really looking forward to.  As far as our time in the street goes -- yeah, that's still happening a lot, and I am just trying really hard to not let it get me down.... but even that is hard sometimes.  We are kind of going through a dry spell here..... and it get more and more frustrating, the harder we work without finding "success".  

We had a really good family home evening this week with a family in the ward that is going through HUGE PROBLEMS.  I think in my last letter I expressed how a lot of times I don't feel qualified to talk to people about their problems.  Well, this family blew those situations out of the water.  The family is a very spiritually strong family and have been for years, and they kinda got blindsided by this trial that just entered their lives.  The mother pleaded with Elder Sanchez and me to just come to their house and pray with them and share with them, and bring a little bit of the Spirit into their broken home.  They are an amazing family, and Elder Sanchez and I had the opportunity to give the mother and daughter-in-law blessings, and that was a really, really powerful experience for me.

So I sent some pictures in an email a few minutes ago.  This past friday we had a meeting for all of the trainers and their companions, where I ran into Elder Miller (remember him?) and Elder Garcia (my trainer)!!!!!! And it was so great being able to see them.  They are both doing really well.  Elder Garcia came to my sector today to say goodbye to some families.  So after a round of basketball with Elder Henderson, we met up for probably what will be the last time I ever see him.  He was a really great trainer and companion, and above everything else, an excellent friend.  I learned a lot from Elder Garcia. 

Reunion with my trainer
Elder Garcia says good bye to families in Geronimo

Thanks for being a great trainer (and mission father), Elder Garcia

Sadly, I am going to have to cut the email here because my time is up and I still need to write the President.  Thank you all so much for everything, for your thoughts, prayers, letters, and everything.  I know that the work that I am doing right now is the Lord´s work.  I have seen the blessings of this true gospel not only bless my life, but the lives of many others as well.  Stay strong, stay positive, and I'm really looking forward to hearing from you again next week.
Elder Schwartz

P.S. Shoutout to Anthony Kirdwald and Frank for hooking me up with some sweet letters this week. 

The Beard's Surprise Visit

A few days before Andrew is to report for his mission, a surprise visitor flew in from far away to spend a bit of time and say "Good Bye."  Brother Phil, who is serving with Americorp and currently based in Perry Point, Maryland, arrived late Thursday night (or was it early Friday morning), and the brothers had some time together....

We hardly recognized him....

Momma said it was a bit scratchy....

A visit to the Oakland Temple was in order....

We met Grandma Schwartz for a great lunch and a visit.  The only way we knew that we were in the right parking lot, was when we saw this license plate frame and were sure we had found her...

Thanks for the BBQ and the great visit, Grandma.... 

Nice to spend time playing games with friends.....

Good bye, lil' brudda....see you in two years....

Monday, April 15, 2013

Andrew and Mitchell Heading Out Soon....

On March 31st, Andrew and Mitchell, soon to be Elder Schwartz and Elder Wilson, spoke at church on Easter Sunday.  Both shared great messages about the Savior, Jesus Christ.  There were inspiring to those who attended the meeting.  Mitchell will be departing this week to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, prior to going to San Antonio Texas.  Andrew will be departing the following week to  the MTC in Provo as well (as his visa to Brazil has not come through yet), and then hopefully soon after on to Sao Paolo Brazil.

This past Sunday (April 14th), Andrew and Mitchell had the opportunity to say goodbye to friends at an open house held in their honor.  We know that they are both hard workers and will be great missionaries as they serve the Lord for the next two years.

Their families are particularly proud of Mitchell and Andrew.  We will miss them, but are grateful for their desire and commitment to serve.