Monday, April 21, 2014

Lunch At Habib's

Habib's is a fast food restaurant chain in Brazil

Dear Everyone!

It's good to hear that you guys had a good and busy week with all of your various activites and meetings and exercises.  So you guys are already prepping to pick up Elder Nate over on the west weird. Oh by the way BIRTHDAY SHOUT OUT TO ELDER NATE SCHWARTZ!!!!!!  But seriously, this is so weird for me that Nate is going home and that I already have a year out. It literally feels like it was yesterday that I saw Nate off at the airport.  But I hope that you guys have a fun and safe trip. I don't know when you guys will get there but give Elder Nate a hug for me. 

BUT FAMILY! This last week was such a fantastic week!  We had such a wonderful miracle happen! Through a street contact, we found a man that has been inactive for 13 years that has been dying to come back to church, but just had no idea where it was. While I was talking to a member, Elder Barreto did a street contact with a 12 year old girl named Camilla.  She commented that her step-dad was baptized in the church and we gave her a pass-along card with the mission office number on it and marked a visit for later that week. The day of the visit we got a call from the office elders saying that they got a call from the family that we were going to visit that day just to make sure if we were really coming.  When we showed up for the appointment, we were greeted by Antonio who gave us the biggest hugs and said that he had been waiting for us.  We shared a message with him and his daughter and marked to come a again later that week. We came with Bishop João and we met Antonio's "wife" (not married legally), Ivanilde, and his other two childeren, Henzo and Sofia. We shared a message about The Family:  A Proclamation to the World with them, and set a goal for them to read the Book of Mormon as a family every night and to have a family prayer.  The whole family came to church yesterday and they loved it. We marked with them to get them legally married and if the timing works out, Antonio will baptize Ivanilde and Camilla on May 11th!  Heavenly Father truly knows each and every one of us and he knows our circumstances. He is aware of everything that we go through and in His time and His way, He blesses His children the best way possible. I'm so thankful for the privelege I have to serve a mission.

That was kind of the big highlight of the week. We actually found a good number of less active members that we are working on reactivating now, and we are continuing to work with our investigators and finding new people to teach.  Normal missionary stuff.  This week I also got a sweet letter from cousin Cindy, formerly Stephens but now I guess it's Oswald (and not Singh or Neuman).  Cindy I just want you to know that your letter Spirit smacked me in the face.  It talked a little about not getting caught up in the whole mission culture thing and to  teach people, not lessons, count souls and not numbers sort of deal.  I felt bad because lately that's kind of how my mindset has been, but thankfully I'm repenting and I'm going to do better. 

So this week we also started to implement the FHE in the members houses. Unfortunately, we didn't have one with any investigators because of scheduling conflicts but we had great opportunities to spiritually uplift the members and help them get a vision of how they can do missionary work in their own homes.  I hope that you guys are helping the missionaries back in the MTZ.   Mom I know that you are super hip now and use facebook and have lot's of new Zumba friends (Dad sends me the pictures every week) so take advantage of this wonderful opportunity Heavenly Father has given you guys to share the gospel! Dad you too! I know you guys can do it! I love you all and pray for you guys always!

Until next week!
Elder Schwartz

Elder Baretto seems to like Habib's as well!

Happy Birthday, Elder Nate!

Birthday Cupcakes from the Sister missionaries

Dear Mom, Dad and everyone,

I would just like to start this email off by thanking you all for your love and support and birthday wishes.  I can feel your love all the way from down here.  It's great to hear that everything is going well up there in North America and that you're all doing a good job staying busy.

This week was a really nice and busy one for Elder Guerrero and me.  There were lots of meetings, lessons, and so forth.  One of the highlights of the week is that we were able to go on a couple of visits with President Wright on Wednesday evening, and its always a lot of fun doing that.  He also came to church with us on Sunday.  We'll be seeing each other a few times this week, because there are lots of meetings and things that the missionaries need to do in their last week -- exit interviews, the day with the president, seminars for occupation preparation, and stuff like that.  It's actually going to be a really weird and hectic week -- Elder Guerrero and I won't have the proselyting time that we want, but we are going to need to make the best with what we have. 

My birthday was wonderful -- the sister missionaries in the zone made me cupcakes to celebrate during district class on Wednesday.  Sunday (actual birthday) was actually a really busy work day for Elder Guerrero and I, but we ended the day with a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) with a less active family that we are teaching, and they bought a little cake and sang me happy birthday.  So did all of the missionaries that I had to call for stats -- it was a very pleasant birthday.

Today was p-day -- we had a little zone bbq and played ping pong (I still got it, so you better watch out, dad!)

Elder Guerrero and I are teaching a lot of lesson -- I personally feel like we have been working hard to make the most of this short time that we have together, and that the Lord has been blessing us so much.  I feel like we have found a lot of new people recently.  It makes me sad to think that this is my last week to labor here in this vineyard, but just like you said Dad, I just need to work as hard as I can and run to the paint.  Elder Sercovich sent me an email saying that this is my last opportunity to thrust with my sickle, so I better do it with all my might.  I am going into this week focused -- I know what i need to do, now it's just the time to do it -- I don't have any time to waste.

I love you all -- thank you for your love and support.  I know the Church is true, and you are in my prayers.  Keep the faith!

with love from Chile,
Elder Schwartz

Our District

Our Zone

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Earthquake was Far, Far Away!

Dear Everyone,

Sorry that this is going to be the worlds shortest email, I have been spending all of my internet time trying to figure out BYU stuff, and I had to email deptarment heads and stuff like that so it`s been kind of hectic, and I had no clue how to navigate around MyMAP so, its been kind of a rough hour... ahaha, but Phil is going to help me out so I am not stressed.

WOW, GENERAL CONFERENCE WAS AMAZING!  There were lots of talks that really stuck out to me -- my favorites were Elder Holland and Anderson`s from the Saturday Morning Session, and Pres. Uchdorf and Bednar`s from the Sunday Morning Session.  But I think Elder Uchdorf`s was my favorite.  We were able to watch the conference in the stake center in an English Room with all of the other gringo missionaries and Elder Guerrero (he knows English really well so he just watched it in English with no problem).
Lots of miracles this week, maybe too many to count.  Highlights -- we had our monthly leadership council with President Wright on Tuesday, and I gave my last Zone Class on Wednesday, that was a kind of rough moment.  Elder Bushman (Todd's cousin) and I went on divisions -- we`ve become good friends during these past several months together.  

Anyways, sorry that this has been such a short email.  I just want you all to know that Elder Guerrero and I are doing a great job keeping busy, as there is lots to do here in the sector.  Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  I hope that you all have an excellent week and I PROMISE some photos for the next email.  I love you all so much!


Elder Schwartz

Temple Visit

From Last Week's Temple Visit

Dearest Family!

Well how about that General Conference! I think this might have been the first time where I absolutely loved each and every one of the talks given.  SO GOOD!  I got to watch it in English this time so I probably got a lot more out of it than I did at the last General Conference in October.  It was good, they set up a room for all the people that wanted to watch in English.  All of the English speaking missionaries in our zone were in the room as well as some members that speak English, including our Bishop (he served his mission in New York).  It was such an uplifting experience and I learned so much.  I think everyone picked up on the major themes from which the leaders of the church were teaching us.  I basically understood that as the world is becoming worse and worse, it's going to be a lot more challenging to be a strong member of the Church. We all need to live our faith to the fullest, be obedient, and defend our beliefs.  But we also need to show love, kindness and respect for all of our brothers and sisters. 

It's good to hear that you guys had a busy week and really enjoyed conference too.  We also had a full week here in Cidade Leonor.  I don't know if I told you last week, but it's obvious that we had a chance to go to the temple.  It was a really sweet experience, but it also made the day a little rushed.  We also had our mission leadership council which is always fun and exciting.  The efficiency in the mission is kind of down, so we discussed a lot about the quality of our finding and our teaching.  I learned a lot, and we passed that instruction along to our zone when we gave a zone training this week.  This week we also had a great meeting with President Tanner, our Stake President, and the Sister Leader Trainers of our zone to talk about the work in the stake.  It was a really great meeting and we were able to improve our relationship with the stake leadership and also carry out some new plans that the Stake President has to help this stake flourish.  This led to another meeting that we had with all the missionaries in our zone to meet with the stake president and the high councilor over missionary work.  President Piros layed out his vision for us to start having our lunches in the homes of less active members as a way of helping them return to activity.  He also wants us to start getting the members involved by asking them to have Family Home Evenings in their homes with our investigators.  I'm really happy with the leadership here and the willingness they have to work with us. 

Unfortunately, none of our investigators made it to General Conference, but thankfully we have the internet and we are going to be incorporating some of the talks into our lessons.  I really loved all of the talks, but I think that they started with the best.  Elder Holland's talk was soooooo gooood!  I wish everyone here in Brazil would watch that talk. He threw down on all the false doctrines and beliefs and testified straight truth. I also loved President Monson's talk about love being the essence of the gospel.  It made me reflect about my motivations.  I really want to develop the Christlike attribute to have charity and Christ-like love for everyone -- I want to show my love for others through how I treat them.  I KNOW that this Church is Christ's Church and that he is the head of it.  I am so thankful to have the privilege to receive Heavenly Father's direction every six months at conference and every day through personal revelation.  I love you all and I hope you have a great week. 

Until next week!
Elder Schwartz

Elder Baretto

Sushi and Pizza

Very Funny!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Elder Barreto from the Bay

Elder Barreto and Elder Schwartz in front of Sao Paulo Temple

Dear Family!

First off all this letter is going to be short so forgive me.  And also forgive me for not writing on Monday.  The reason for all this was that we had a temple trip today, so today is our P-day and it's been super rushed for us.  Well, I guess I better start out with the most important news.  My new companion's name is Elder Barreto. Yes, he is a Brazilian and he is from a state in the north called Bahia (which in portuguese means "bay," so we're both from the bay), and he is a powerhouse missionary. He is so good! I'm supposed to be training him as a zone leader, but it is more like he's training me.  I swear he is such a stud of a missionary, and I'm super stoked to be comps with him.  He is the only member of the church in his family (still) and he is in the middle of 7 brothers and sisters. He is 23 years old and he actually came out the same time that I got here so we have the same time out here in this mission. This transfer is only 5 weeks long so I might not be able to stay with him for as much time as I want, but I'm hoping that I get to stay for one more transfer. 

It's good to hear that you guys are staying busy with everything. I feel like this past week that so much has happened and that I've been so busy.  I really liked that scripture you shared, though, because it does really show that staying busy isn't really a bad thing when we are filled with charity towards others. (D&C 88:124,125  Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.  And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.)
So this week for us was great. I got the chance to do a few divisions with each of the assistants, Elder Myers and Elder Huxford.  I learned a lot from both divisions and I really feel they both helped me grow as a missionary.  This week we spent a lot of time visiting investigators that I had been teaching with Elder Watt, and we have been meeting a lot of new people as well.  I was really happy this Sunday because we had many investigators come to worship with us at church.  Also, a woman who has been less active for 13 years who returned to church the prior week brought her daughter and her daughter's friend to church this past week, so that was an awesome surprise. 

Sorry I'm basically out of time right now, but just know that I love you all and I miss you all, too.  I'm so thankful for this privilege that I have to serve a mission, and I'm going to take advantage of every moment of it!

Elder Schwartz

With President and Sister Tanner (Pres. Tanner just got called to serve as counselor in General Sunday School Presidency of the Church -- he'll start when they are released from the mission in July)

Elder Camarena, Elder Watt, Elder Huxford, Me

A Package from Elder Andrew!!!!!

Package from Elder Andrew
Dear Family,

This is going to be another short email.  I feel like Elder Guerrero and I are just getting busier and busier!  But like you BOTH said in your emails to me, being busy is a very good thing, and it has been helping me out a lot to stay focused.  Elder Guerrero is from the northern part of Mexico City.  His parents are both converts -- they got baptized when he was 1, so he has basically spent his whole life in the church, but he is the first missionary in his family.  He has four siblings, and in his family there are two sets of twins -- he and his twin brother are the babies of the family, but he is two minutes older than his twin.  He has been on the mission for about nine months, and he spent the first part of his mission in Puente Alto.  I am his first companion who is North American.

It was a really good week, a really busy week.  Elder Guerrero and I have set lots of goals, and for the most part we are reaching them.  We are finding new people to teach and we are trying hard to work with the ward leaders.  At the beginning of our companionship we set the goal to improve our relationship with the bishop, and that had been helping us out a ton.  We are making major strides with the bishop now -- I feel like we are getting on the same page.  Actually, yesterday we had a big meeting with all of the bishops and stake presidents in the mission and all of the missionaries came together to talk about the importance of our unity.  We learned that the the bishop and the missionaries need to be best friends.  We´re getting there.

We actually had lots of really good lessons during the week, and on Sunday too -- we had a really fun family home evening with a less active family.  It was cool because when I was with Elder Sercovich we were just teaching and visiting one member of the family, but now we are teaching the family as a whole -- one by one they decided to join in, and last night we had a family home evening with all of them.  We are helping them to start reading the Book of Mormon as a family.  And then we met their neighbor, who is also a less active member and we were able to teach and have onze (dinner) with him and his family who aren't members.

Today we spend the morning doing studies and then we went to a little artesanía fair and bought a couple of souvenirs.  Then, we went to a mexican restaurant for lunch, where we ran into President and Hna Wright.  It was the fiurst time I have ever run into them on P-Day.  It looked like they were enjoying their P-day too, aha.   

Dad, thank you for the scripture, i actually kind of feel like i have not been taking care of my mind and body as well as i should, as of late.  I have been DRAINED over these past few days.  But your scripture helped me to understand that if i really do love and care for these people, i need to take care of myself so i can be at my 100% to help them out.  (D&C 88:124,125  Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.   And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.)

I love you all so much.  I know that the church is true.  Thank you for your love and support.  EVERONE WATCH GENERAL CONFERENCE.  We have a prophet today just like in the times of Noah and Moses -- What a blessing!

have a great week!
with love,
Elder Schwartz

Lunch in the chapel with Elder Guerrero

Elder Lima, from Elder Andrew's mission

Sopaipillas with someone's name on them....