Monday, February 17, 2014

Taco Time!

TACOS -- This is a rarity here in Brazil

Dear Everyone!

Well, it's good to hear from you guys!  I'm glad Mormon Prom was a success.  I know all the things you guys are doing for those kids are super important.  They are the future missionaries, so keep them firm!  Thanks for the info about the new mission prez.  I already know that me and Sister Broadbent are gonna be tight, because we're both from the Bay.  But I already know I'll be sad when President and Sister Tanner leave because they are just such an awesome couple. 

So for these past few weeks, Elder Watt and I have been doing all we can to find the Lord's elect.  We have been doing our 10  conversations a week and showing the Lord our faith and desire to succeed.  It's been pretty tough this past little while because a lot of our investigators are super flakey when it comes to going to church, BUT the Lord has been blessing us with his tender mercies.  For example, this last week when we were walking in the favela, this lady behind us started calling out "Elder! Elder!"  We turned around and she started explaining to us that she was actually taught by the missionaries a few years ago and was about to be baptized, but it seems there were transfers and the area got closed, so she never went back.  She told us that she wants to go back to church really badly, and that she stopped drinking coffee (which is really an issue here in Brazil) and that her husband (who she is actually not married to -- another problem here in Brazil) stopped drinking alcohol.  We set up a visit with her for the next day and by the time we left that visit, my mouth was wide open.  We had found one of the Lord's elect and it made that day sososososo much better.  Unfortunately, she wasn't able to go to church this Sunday, BUT we haven't lost hope!  We're not gonna give up on her! 

But that was the little miracle of the week, even though she wasn't able to go to church. To me, it was a miracle because the Lord put us there at the right place and at the right time to meet with her; and if we hadn't been doing our contacts, we probably wouldn't have found her.  So this past week, I also got to do a division (split) with Elder Huxford again. He got moved from being a junior companion being trained, to District leader and trainer of a brand new missionary, without even finishing his 12 week training period -- so he's a powerhouse.  He's a really good missionary.  Even though he's still learning the language, he is doing super well. I learned a lot from the division and I'm going to apply what I learned here in Cidade Leonor. 

So this Saturday we are going to get a special visit from Elder Evans of the Seventy for all of the leaders in the missions in the São Paulo Area. It's great timing, because Elder Watt and I are looking for ways to help our zone the best that we can.  Apparently we are going to be focusing a lot on what we learn at this meeting and applying it in Leadership council and Zone conference, which we will have this next week. I just want you all to know that I'm excited for this upcoming week. I'm super optimistic and hoping that everything will go well this next week for us.  I hope that you all have a fantastic week.  I know that this work is truly the Lord's work. I know that through our hard work and faith and  sacrifice, we will be blessed in touching the hearts of the people here in our area.

Love you all!
Elder Schwartz

Chimarrão (my tribute to Elder Steil)

MIracles and Service


Dear Family and everyone!

WOW!  It sounds like you all had a really busy week, but busy with lots of really cool things.  Seeing the pictures of Mormon Prom was really cool....and weird, because one of the pictures had Aaron Brinkman in it and he looks SO MUCH OLDER!  But it's nice to see that the house hasn't changed too much at least.

It was a good week for Elder Sercovich and me.  It was fun, it rained, and it went by really quickly. There were several highlights.  First, I went on divisions (splits) with Elder Surmik in his sector, and that was a pleasant experience.  Elder Surmik works in the same ward as me but we have the ward area divided in half, so for my first time in the 6 months that I have been in Tobalaba, I was able to see what the other half of the ward is like.  Elder Surmik goes home in a couple of weeks so it was nice being able to spend some time with him.  I learned a lot from his example.  I think one of the biggest lessons that I learned this week was from Elder Bushman in our district class on Wednesday.  I asked Elder Bushman last week if he could help Elder Sercovich and me to become better at asking for referrals.  I explained to him, that we have been rejected so many times that I've been starting to become a little unconfident asking for them.  So he dedicated his class this past week to "Asking for referrals".   We had a really good discussion and did some really good practices, and it helped Elder Sercovich and me out a lot.  Actually, this week Elder Sercovich and I recieved and contacted more referrals than we ever have before, and I know that the credit goes to Elder Bushman and his class. On Sunday, a less active member named Jessica (who we visited earlier in the week and who we asked for a referral from) brought one of her friends named Karolina, to stake conference with her.  Jessica had given her Karolina a pamphlet that we had given to her earlier in the week, and on Sunday evening we were able to visit Karolina with Jessica and a few other members to share a message with her about the pamphlet.  The pamphlet was on the Plan of Salvation, and Karolina's husband passed away 4 months ago, and she has been really depressed for the past while, so she told us that she felt like she found exactly what she needed in the pamphlet and the message we shared.  It was a huge miracle for Elder Sercovich and me to witness.  We have another lesson with her tomorrow night, and this whole big turn of events has happened as a result of Elder Bushman's lesson.  Because if he hadn't helped us to get more excited to ask for references, we might not have asked Jessica to share the gospel with her friends when we visited her, and we might not have ever met Karolina. That was our big miracle of the week.  It's so funny how a bunch of little seemingly insignificant things can turn into something amazing.

Elder Sercovich and I were able to go on divisions (splits) with some kids (youth) in the ward this week too, to help them get ready for their missions.  One of the lovely things about Tobalaba is that there are lots of active youth here getting ready to go on the mission, and we use them to teach and work with us as much as possible.  We were also able to get some service done this week too.  On Sunday we had Stake conference, and we had to get up at 5:30 in the morning to go to a priesthood meeting at the stake center.  President Wright spoke and he was happy to see all of his missionaries there bright and early in the morning.  It was a special stake conference, with a satelite broadcast from Salt Lake directed to the 34 stakes here in Chile, and Elder Cook spoke.  It was funny because before he gave his talk I leaned over to Elder Sercovich and I told him that Elder Cook reminds me a lot of my Dad, not because he is bald, but just because of the way that he presents himself.  I think that if i could compare Dad to any apostle, it would be Elder Cook.  And when Elder Cook gave his talk, he spoke a lot about raising his children in the San Francisco Bay Area in California.  I had no idea that he lived there for 33 years.  It was a really good talk, focused on the importance of making your home a haven from the temptations and difficulties of the world. 

Maybe a little resemblance...?

Today was P-day and we went bowling -- it was the last time that Elder Sercovich was going to be able to do it, so we went.  I forgot to bring my connector for the camera, so I dont have any pictures for this week, but next week I PROMISE that I won't forget it.  

I love you guys so much.  I know that the Church is true.  Thank you for all of your love and support and prayers.  Have an excellent week!

with much love,
Elder Schwartz

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words....So, This is Actually a Very Long E-Mail!

Top of Santa Lucia
Anti Trunky Meeting 
Santa Lucia with Elder Shaw


Our Apartment Group at Santa Lucia

The Climb up to Santa Lucia

We were able to go to the Temple too....

Well a picture is worth a thousand words right?

This email is going to be super short.  Elder Sercovich and I just kinda lost track of time during the day.  Elder Sercovich had lots of stuff that he had to do today to get ready for his departure in a few short weeks.

This past week was a rough one.  One of the secrets about Santiago is that in February, everyone leaves town, and Elder Sercovich and I were really affected by that this week.  We didn´t have too much success teaching lessons and finding new people to teach.  Lots of citas (lessons) fell through, and we spent a lot of time in the streets, but even the streets were empty!  We did have some good moments -- we did a little service, and we had some good meetings, and were able to go out with the youth to do some visits too.  On Wednesday we taught our monthly zone class, and President Wright and Hna Wright came again to "observe", which always makes the class interesting.  They helped Elder Sercovich and me out a lot.  And on Saturday Morning we had our "Anti-Trunky" meeting for all of the missionaries that are leaving at the end of this transfer, and their companions.  We spent two or three hours with President Wright discussing why being trunky (missionary term for being so ready to finish the mission, that my trunk is already packed to head home) is bad, and we all made a pledge to not waste these last weeks of the mission.  We went to the temple too!  Other than that, it was a pretty normal week.  My sunburn is getting better :)  I hope that you all have a great week, and I love you so much.  Thanks for the support!

Elder Schwartz

Drought in Brazil?

Zona Sul

Dear Family!

It's good to hear that you guys finally got some rain!  We've actually been having the same problem over here. It's supposed to be raining and it hasn't rained for the past two weeks and it is super hot!  People have been saying that they might start rationing the water for the city but I doubt that's gonna happen. We're probably going to be getting some pretty sweet storms out here this upcoming week. But it's good to hear that everything is going well with you guys back home.  So the transfer has ended, and Elder Watt and I are going to be staying together for another one and I'm super pumped. 

So this past week went well for us. So, unfortunately Luana and Kleber started up college again and traveled this past weekend, so we weren't able to see them this week but we're going to keep trying with them. This week we had the mission leadership council, which is always really inspiring.  We got trained on helping our investigators to attend church and also how to ask inspired questions.  Basically, both are areas that I have been feeling a need to work on, so it was perfect.  The next day Elder Watt and I passed this along to our zone and gave a training on what we learned at the council.  This week we met a lot of good people and had a lot of really good lessons.  Elder Watt and I have been really trying to show our faith to the Lord this past week by talking to as many people as we can on the streets.  There's a promise in Preach My Gospel that says that if we strive to do that, the Lord will bless us.  So that's been our focus this week and we are beginning to see the blessings come. We have been finding people that are really receptive to the gospel and we're gonna be able to help them this upcoming transfer by preparing them to make covenants with God through baptism. This week, we also did a division. I went with Elder Frost (one of the Elders that lives with us) into his area. It was a really good division and they have a lot of good things going in their area. He's a really good missionary and he's also going to be a zone leader next transfer, so he's gonna do some big things. This week we also finally got to see Augusto again after all of his traveling, and it turns out that we won't be able to baptize him because he lives outside our mission boundaries, BUT he can still go to our ward, so that will be good. 

Other than that, this week has been pretty much the same routine.  But I'm feeling like this February is our month. We are going to work a lot of miracles here in Cidade Leornor. I'm glad to hear that everything is going great with you guys at home.  I pray for you guys always.  I know that God lives and that he loves each one of us.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that His church is here on the Earth today.  I love you all and I hope you all have a good week!

Elder Schwartz

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hey, That's Where My Brother Is....

Tribute to Elder Nate....

Dear Family!

Well, it sounds like that everything is going good for you guys at home.  It's good to hear that you guys are keeping busy, though, with work, callings, and other good stuff.  That's good that the Super Bowl wasn't too exciting, so it sounds like I didn't miss out on anything :).  Thanks for all the prayers and support.  I can feel the love all the way down here in Brazil.

This past week for us was pretty good.  It had a lot of up's and down's, but we're still fighting strong.  So remember when I was talking about Luana and Kleber last week?  Well, this past Monday we had a really sweet family night at the a member's house and Luana and Kleber joined us. The message was talking about the importance of having an organized church and It was wayyyy gooood!  It was perfect for Luana and Kleber and they seemed to really like it. too. Well we passed by their house again later in the week and it things felt a little different when we walked in.  We started talking, and it turns out that they had received some negative articles about the church.  They started bringing up some of internet rumors they had read and then Elder Watt and I explained everything and helped them out with all of their doubts. They said that they got pretty turned off by all the negative stuff, but they said that they will keep studying the Book of Mormon and praying to get an answer.  This little experience really showed me the reality of the influences that seem to pull people away from God.  They are such an awesome family and they would be such powerhouse members if they were baptized.  We are praying a lot for them and really hopeful to have an awesome lesson with them this week.

Even though that was a little bit of a downer this week, we had some really positive experiences too!  This week we went on splits with the assistants (to the mission president). I got to go with Elder Arévelo (who has been assistant since I first got here in Brazil) and help him out in his area.  We met a lot of really cool families and I learned so much.  Elder Arévelo is a really, really, really good teacher and he explains things in such a clear way that the people completely understand him.  The division really made me realize that I needed to repent a little bit and work a lot on my teaching skills.  While I was there, Elder Watt was with Elder Bacca in our area.  They found a lot of really good families that I'm excited to work with this week.  We also did another division the next day, and I got to work with Elder Beers in my area.  He is one of the office elders and it was a really good division. He is a really good missionary and we had a lot of really awesome lessons that day.  Sunday was also an awesome day because Elder Watt and I did a division with two young brothers that are preparing to leave on missions here in a few months.  We worked a lot on doing mini-lessons in the street and we found a lot of the Lord's elect.  We have a really good teaching pool going now, and we're really excited for these upcoming weeks. We're feeling that February is going to be our month for baptisms in our zone.  Thanks again for all of your love and support.  I hope that everyone is doing great and I love you all!

Elder Schwartz

CD that a sister in our ward made of sacred music

Elder Frost

Elder Watt vs. Fish

Warm February in Chile...

With Claudio

Beauty or Beast?  Or just a little Chip....?
Dear Family,

Firstly, I love you all.  Thank you for you emails and your support and everything.  It really does make all of the difference in the world to me.  It's great to hear that you have all had a good, busy week -- that always makes me happy.  I am just going to apologize right now for the shortness of this email as we had a really busy p-day and I am totally DRAINED.  P-day should be the day that the missionaries rest up and nap and don't do anything, but lots of times we get confused and make P-day the busiest day of the week.  We woke up early and did our studies and then met up with the rest of the missionaries of the zone to play soccer at the stake center, and that was a good time.  We played for a few hours and then went to the nearby mall for lunch, and then we walked around the mall forever (but I didn't buy anything, dont worry).  Now I am all sunburnt and tired -- I'm going to make sure that I get to bed early tonight.

Dad, thank you for sharing the passages of scriptures from the funeral in your email, i really enjoyed those.  Especially the one from 3rd John. 3 John 1:4  The investigators are doing well, and we found some more new investigators this week, too.  Elder Sercovich and I have been focusing on that a lot lately, and we have been having success, so we are very happy.  On Friday we had a ward family home evening -- not too many people showed up, but enough to make it a really great experience.  We did an activity where an Elder was passing out candies, and for every candy that someone took, I had to do 2 push-ups, and at first the people started to laugh and they asked for more, but after a good few minutes, when I started to sweat and struggle, the people stopped asking for candies.  But the other Elder kept passing them out, and the people started rejecting the candies, and telling me to stop doing push-ups, but the elders just kept passing and passing the candies out until they ran out of candies, and I got gassed and couldnt do anymore.  It was a little visual to help people understand the atonement and how Christ suffered for each of us, and it turned out really well.  Elder Surmik made a really good connection and taught a really good lesson afterwards.  On Saturday we had the monthly mission leadership meeting, and I love those.  It's always great seeing President and Hna Wright and all the other missionaries -- I always learn a ton.

I am sorry for the shortness of the email -- I just want you all to know that everything is great here.  It's still really hot, but fall is right around the corner, so I'm waiting for that.  I know that the church is true and I know that if we put our trust in the Lord, and in His plan for us, we will be blessed.  He has a plan for each and every one of us, and I know that what He has planned for us is a lot better than what we have planned for ourselves.  

Have a great week!  
with much love,
Elder Schwartz

Our Apartment

With Juanito

Service Day

Happy about Service Day....

Elder Surmik's Birthday