Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Joel's Baptism and New Companion

Joel's Baptism

Elder Andrew Schwartz's email from August 26th.....

Bom dia todos!

The weeks are just flying by here in Brazil! I can't believe that it's already P-day and I'm here writing all of you.  It sounds like everything is going well for you guys at home.  Also, HAPPY 30th ANIVERSARY MOM AND DAD! I hope you guys know that your sons love you very much! I pray for you guys always.

So this week was the last week of the transfer, and sadly we found out this morning that Elder Watt is leaving me, and going to be a district leader in another area.  I don't know yet who I'm gonna get but I know whoever it will be, I'm gonna love him and love serving with him.  Elder Watt has been such a blessing to me.  He has taught me so much and I'm really sad to see him go.  He has been in Planalto for five months and has developed such a strong relationship with everyone here, so he doesn't want to leave either.  I was thinking that we should just protest and not go to transfers, but I don't think president would be down for that. 

So, some highlights of the past week:  Yes!  Joel did get baptized this past week!  We held the service on Saturday and we had a recent convert Fernando do the baptism.  It was a really awesome service.  The only minor setback was that Joel has some problems with his legs and they're not very strong, so after Fernando immersed him under the wate,r he almost didn't make it back up!  Elder Watt had to reach down in the font and kind of help him up, but everything was fine.  Joel loved it and the next day (Sunday), he recieved the Gift of the Holy Ghost along with Erica and Carlos (who, I might add, are still firm and doing awesome). 

This week we did a lot of work, and a lot of walking!  We met with a lot of people, knocked a lot of doors, and next week we have a lot of appointments with people who said that we could share a message with them.  A really cool experience that happend this week was yesterday we got to have a recent convert with us for the whole day.  He was baptized two weeks ago in the sisters' ward, which shares the chapel with us, and he is planning on serving a mission next year when he turns 18. His name is Leonardo and he is awesome!  He has such a pure and powerful testimony, and he so badly wants to share the gospel with others.  We were able to take him around and show him the life of a missionary, and he helped us out in our lessons by bearing his testimony to those we met and taught. 

I wish I had a little bit more time, but sadly my email-time is coming to an end and I still have to write president.  I just want all of you to know that I know that this church is true.  That this church is the same church that Jesus Christ established on the earth.  I know that Joseph Smith was called a prophet and that through him, Our Heavenly Father was able to restore His church.  I know that if we trust in Him, He will help us.  I know that He loves us.  I know that because He loves us He has given us this gospel to find TRUE happiness.  I love all of you guys and I can't wait to hear from you next week.

Elder Schwartz   

New Companion, Elder Steil, from Brazil?????

And his email from September 2nd......

Dear Everyone!

Thanks for all the updates on life back home! I'm so proud that my parents are helping the sisters missionaries out.  Make sure to give plenty of referrals!  It's also good to hear that our family is growing!  Tell Ben and Caitlin congratulations for me! 

So as you know, Elder Watt was transferred last week and I got a new companion. His name is Elder Steil and, yes, he is Brazillian, so my Portuguese has greatly improved over the past week. He is from Rio Grande do Sul which is a state in the southern part of Brazil, which he tells me is trying to secede from Brazil and become it's own country.  You wouldn't be able to tell by looking at him that he is from Brazil because he's whiter than me!  He's what the Brazillians call a "Gaúcho", which means cowboy, but it's just what they call people from the south.  Elder Steil is a stud of a missionary.  He teaches so well, and I am so thankful to have him as my companion.  It has been a little tough this past week because, I'm the one that's responsible for getting him oriented in the area.  Even though it has been a little stressful, it's been good for me because I know that taking on this responsibility will prepare me later on for more difficult things.  A scripture that has helped me out has been from D&C 58:2-4.  It says that we will all have trials, tribulations and difficulties and this life, but those who are faithful will recieve great blessings. And even though the blessings may seem far, they are actually very close. Our bishop shared this scripture with us at a ward council we attended last night, and it has really pumped me up and made me excited for this upcoming week.

Let me give you guys a few highlights of the week.  This past week we have spent most of our time finding new investigators, and strengthening our recent converts.  One of our new investigators is named João Vitor, who we have been in contact with since I was with Elder Watt. We found him one night when we were walking by a park after one of our appointments fell thru, and we saw two guys playing basketball.  We decided that we would go talk to them and play a quick game of two on two (which João Vitor and I won by the way) and afterwards, we set an appointment with João Vitor to teach him.  That appointment fell thru because we marked to meet him in the park again, but it was raining.  We were able to get in contact with him again, and we finally taught him last Friday.  He loved the message, and gave me a huge hug for giving him a Book of Mormon.  He even went to church last Sunday, and we are preparing for him to be baptized on the 15th of September.  Another cool experience we had this week was when Elder Steil and I were walking in our favela planning to knock some doors, when Elder Steil told me that we should follow the Spirit as we were searching for someone to teach.  As he said that, I was directed to this man walking toward us, so I talked to him and told him about how our message blesses families.  He then told us that his wife just had a baby and he would love to hear our message.  He brought us to his house and we had a great message with him and his family.  They weren't able to make it to church because of the newborn baby, but we are planning on seeing them again this week and giving them a bsaptismal date.  Yesterday was also a great day for our recent converts. Both Joel and Carlos got to recieve the Aaronic Priesthood.  We are continuing to work with them to integrate them in the ward. 

These are just some of the great experiences we had this past week. I have faith that this next week will be even better.  I know that this work is not easy, but I know that as we have faith in the Lord and submit ourselves to him, miracles will happen.  I just want you all to know that I know that I love you all and I love this work.  I know that this work that Nate and I are doing is His work. I know that He loves each and every one of us, and wants the best for us.  Until next week!

Elder Schwartz

Pics from this recent emails.....

Elder Cappelen in Idaho, misses Elder Schwartz

District in Brazil before transfers....

Looks like dinner and dessert all in the same pizza box

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