Monday, October 14, 2013

New Companion, New Area, New Responsibilities....

Elder Schwartz with new companion, Elder Fernandes from Switzerland (born in Brazil)

Dear Family and Friends,

Man, oh man... do I have a story for you guys!  First of all, thanks for the e-mails and updates on everything.  It's good to hear that everything is going well with you guys.

Let me start off with transfers. So, Tuesday morning Elder Steil and I went to the transfer site, which is one of the chapels in our mission, a little bit early for a meeting for new district leaders. Generally, when you go to transfers, you would bring your suitcases with you and then go to your new area.  However, the zone leaders told me that I should just leave my stuff at Planalto because I was staying in the same zone.  So, we went to transfers that morning and I got to go to that training meeting that the Assistants gave about the responsibilities of a district leader.  It was a really good meeting and it calmed me down about my new assignment.  Later we stayed at the transfer site all day until all the new missionaries arrived.  The trainers were given a training from President Tanner where he talked a lot about our influence as trainers and how we need to be an example on our trainees because we will have a great impact on the rest of their missions.  Then we all met together, the "news" and the trainers, and we got to meet who we were training.  My new companion's name is Elder Fernandes, and he was born here in São Paulo, but he lives in Switzerland.  It's awesome, because he is already fluent in Portuguese, German, and he speaks a little English, and he is already a powerhouse missionary!  I don't even think I need to train him because he is already doing really well as a missionary, and he has a lot of great ideas for what we should do for this new area.  Oh, and the new area that I'm serving in is the city of São Caetano do Sul, and I'm serving in the São Caetano 1st Ward.  It used to be that we had sisters taking care of two wards here in São Caetano, but the mission split it, and now we take care of one ward and they take care of the other.  So it was late by the time we left the transfer site, and it took about an hour and a half to get to Planalto to get my stuff.  So basically by the time we were ready to go to our new area it was almost 8:00 at night.  I had no idea how to get to our new area too because all the mission office gave me was the keys to the house and a cell phone.  So I called the sisters to ask them how to get to our area and they said that it was way too late to be able to get there on time and that we should sleep at our house in Planalto.  So, that night we took the extra matresses that we had and we put them on the floor and that's where Elder Fernandes and I slept the first night. Great way to start the mission (for Elder Fernandes), huh?  So, that next morning we had our zone training and we were able to meet up with the sisters and they helped us get to our new area.

Good Thing there were extra mattresses around
That was just the start of the week.  We were able to get to our new house and unpack and start looking through the area book so we can get ourselves situated.  Unfortunately, the sisters didn't have any real progressing investigators when we got there, so we spent our time doing contacts until a meeting that we had later that night with our Ward Mission Leader and the sisters to help us get more oriented in the area.  We also got a chance to meet the bishop who is a Chileno (shout out to Elder Nate) and a really good guy.  I'm excited to work with him. Then during the week we spent a good amount of time getting to know the area, walking and talking with people, and we visited some of the people the sisters told us to visit.  One was a family of six people who are really nice and really faithful to God.  The only problem is that the mom talks, and talks, and talks, but a really good family.  We were able to invite one of the sons, Wesley, to a family home evening we had at the chapel, and he went and loved it.

Another cool experience we had was one with a less active member named José, but he goes by the nickname Barba (which means beard in portuguese).  We were able to meet with him and talk about his concerns.  Elder Fernandes shared experiences that he had in his life when he was less active in the church and realized the true purpose of going to church is not to do it for others but to do it for God.  The spirit was strong and we made a good friendship with him that day.  Later that week, we went to the home of Paula, a less active member, who has a son who is not a member but has been going to church recently.   Elder Fernandes shared the same story and we were also to get the confidence of Paula and we invited her to read the Book of Mormon and pray.  We're gonna follow up with her later this week.

On Sunday we were able to take Wesley to church and the members were awesome with him. They all came up to him and introduced themselves and made him feel welcome.  Since it was testimony meeting, Elder Fernandes and I bore our testimonies and introduced ourselves to the ward.  There were a lot of great testimonies given and the Spirit was really strong there.  Unfortunately, Wesley could only go to Sacrament meeting because he had work, but when we got to Gospel Principles Sunday School class, we found Barba sitting there, which the members said was a miracle. The members were really good to him too, making him feel welcome and being really friendly.

Overall, it was a really exciting/stressful/busy/awesome week.  I'm really looking forward to this upcoming week.  I just want you all who are reading this to know that I know that Jesus Christ lives.  I know that He suffered for all of our pains and sorrows.  I know that this church is truly God's Kingdom on the Earth.  I know that God is our Heavenly Father and he loves each and every one of us.  I can't wait to hear from you guys next week!  Keep praying for me, because I need it! 

With Love,
Elder Schwartz 

Introducing Elder Fernandes to the staple food of!

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