Saturday, December 13, 2014

November, December in Maua

Sunset in Maua


Closest Elder Schwartz can get to a World Series Celebration in Brazil
November 3, 2014

All I have to say is....GO GIANTS!!!! I didn't hear about the results until I read your email because no one here pays attention to american baseball. BUT WOOOHOOOO!!!! That's so excitning to hear. Does that mean Giants' presents for Christmas from Grandma again? hahaha. 

That's cool that you guys had a little visit from Nate this weekend. By the way is he married yet? I want neices and nephews......

So the week here went really good. I guess the most exciting news happened right after I emailed you guys last week. We got a phone call from a member family that invited us to a family home evening. And at the family home evening they invited a girl and her family. So it turns out that this girl, Nicholy, has been investigating the church for almost a whole year, and she has decided to be baptized a long time ago but her parents didn't give permission. And about a month and a half ago she got hospitalized and the family passed through a lot of difficulties. There were a lot of prayers and fasting for this family and finally she got out and last Monday I finally got to meet them because Elder Beers already knew the situation. So the parents are now letting her be baptized and they are now starting to investigate the church. How cool is that?

Let's see this week we also had our interviews with President Broadbent, which went really well. He talked to me about what he expects me to do in training this new missionary and how I'm going to help him adjust to a new mission and things like that.  So the official date my new missionary comes will be the 11th of November.  So Happy Birthday Mom and Dad, I'm having a son (missionary speak for new missionary)...hahaha! He also talked about the possibility my group having the opportunity to extend our missions beyond March 31st, but he said that it isn't a sure thing yet, so I'll keep you guys updated. 

As for our other investigators, Demetrius is doing good. We had a really really really good lesson with him about the plan of salvation and he had a lot of good questions and really has a desire to learn more.

That is pretty much everything. I'm loving the ward here. OH, I remember now, we actually got a super good referral from a member. A guy who is going to help us out with the Mormon Helping Hands project that we are going to have this Saturday. His name is Osmar and he is a Mason (whoa!) and he is basically the King Lamoni of the area. He's into politics here, he even ran for City Council and amost won his first time running. Anyways we got to meet him this week as we gave him invitations to pass out for the Mormon Helping Hands activity and this week we're going to see him again to give him more invites and share a message with him. If everything works out. We got ourselves the conversion of the Lamanite people here in Mauá -- hahah.

I love you guys. I miss you all. Keep firm, keep the faith. Keep smiling and be happy. I learned another lesson this week. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has all the resources and tools that are necessary for God's children to apply the fullness of Jesus Christ's Atonement. What a blessing to be apart of and to share this with others. I love you. Until next week!

November 10, 2014

Well firstly I wanna tell you guys that I made my decision. So the extension thing is not a sure thing yet, but if I'm asked to, I'm going to do it. I've prayed and meditated and gave a lot of thought to it and I feel that it would be best for me to extend if I am actually asked to do so. I figure that I only get one chance to be a full-time missionary, one chance to focus 100% on the things that matter most, so why not? So I'm not really sure if it is going to happen, but if it does, I'm going to extend. (It will be extending from March 31 until possibly mid-May, if it happens).

Let's see, so this week was really good for us here. We saw a lot of good progress and we had some awesome fruits as we had six investigators at church this Sunday. What a blessing right?!? It's awesome, because half of them came from what is going to be my area. So me and my son (new missionary) are going to be hitting the ground running. This week we actually worked a little more in my area than we have been so I got to know it a little better and started establishing a better teaching pool. 

So you liked the little messages I posted on Family Search? haha! Well, the whole story with that was that we were in the Stake Center and Elder Beers was doing a baptismal interview for the sisters in our district and there was a brother that was head of the family history center of the stake there so he asked me if I wanted to check out my family tree. That's when I started looking at the pictures (of Grandpa Schwartz and Uncle Charlie, and pops and your brothers and grandpa) and other memories of ancestors and things like that so I decided to make a little comment ahahah. It was cool to look at the tree. I tried to see how far back I could get with known ancestors. I got all the way to an ancestor born in 1510 but I don't know if that's the farthest yet. It was a pretty cool expereice.

Also this week we had that Mormon Helping Hands activity that I told you guys about. So we particpated with that on Saturday. Elder Beers and I helped out teaching in the English class that was being offered. It was a cool expereince, a lot of the students were people that normally go to the English classes offered, with a few other new people. It seems that it was a good sucess and we even got a few investigators to go and check out what the church offers. 

English Class

So tomorrow on your guy's birthday, my new missionary comes and I'm super excited to show him all the wonderful things that Brazil has to offer. It will be a good experience. This upcoming week we are also going to have zone conference which will be a good experience to hear from President Broadbent and see what direction we will be taking here in the best mission in the world....haha. 

Well, thanks so much for the update on everything and the prayers and the love that you guys send me. I'm grateful for you guys and all that you do to support me. I'm grateful for the priviledge to serve the Lord here. I know that he is helping my constantly and that he really loves me too. Thanks for everything that you guys do for me!!! Have a great week and know that I love and miss you all!!

November 17, 2014

P-day in Paranapiacaba

So my time is really short today becuase we went on a cool p-day trip to a place in the mission called Paranapiacaba which is like a small tourist village that has some cool hiking places.  Elder Beers and I and our two companions went there for their first P-day in our area here in Sao Paulo.  So I guess you guys want to know about my new comp. Well, his name is Elder Maits. He's from Arkansas and he was serving in the Ogden Utah Mission for 14 months before getting his visa. I'm just so lucky I didn't have to wait that long, it must be really hard to start over again in a new mission. But he's adapting really well and his Portugese is at a good level. He's understanding a lot better than I did when I got here and he's already teaching really well. We're just gonna work with the language because he's already a really good missionary and knows why he's out here.

Nicholy's Baptism.  Elder Maits is at the far right.

So this week was really good for us, given that now the area is split between the two companionships, and Elder Beers and his new companion Elder Gillming are now in the half that has basically all of our investigators that we were teaching. So we basically are opening the area and the Lord is already blessing us for our dilligent efforts. We have a good teaching group going. For example, Vanda, who went to church last week out of the blue, we started to teach. She's got a lot of difficulties in her life right now so we are trying to help her out and also answer all of her questions about the church. She didn't go to church this week because her daughter was sick. Actually we had only one investigator at church, which I personally have never taught. Her name is Sabrina, and she's the bishop's second cousin. She was supposed to be baptized before I got here but it turns out her mom, who is an inactive member, didn't allow her to be baptized. This week we're going to teach her for the first time and finally talk with her mom. And we have many others that we are teaching and we are going to find many more this week. We also had Nicholy's baptism yesterday. The baptism counted for Elder Beers and his area because his area was the one that was teaching her before I got here but Elder Maits and I are going to be doing the follow up lessons with her, and we'll start teaching her parents. So the work is going well and it's going to get even better. I'm really excited for the upcoming weeks because we are going to really have success here. I can feel it!

Anyways, thanks for all the love and prayers from you guys. The Church is true and this is His work. Until next week my family! There will be pictures!!!

November 24, 2014

Dear Family and Friends!!!

Thanks for the email, and also it was good to talk to you guys on Saturday. I'm still a little shocked about what happened. For me, it really came out of nowhere. Make sure to give my love to Anthony's Family and that I'm praying for them. I did get a chance to talk with President Broadbent and he gave me some really good counsel that has been helping me understand a little more.  Anyways, it was good to talk to you guys though and hear your voices and hear that you guys are okay.  

As for me, we had a good week here. Unfortunately, we didn't have any investigators go to church this week :( and on two days, all of our appointments fell through, but besides all of this, many good things happened. We found a lot of new investigators this week, three different families both on Saturday and Sunday which is really exciting. We also had a lot of good member involvement this week as a few of the young men of the ward went out with us to do some visits. And it turned out to be a success because this coming week we not only marked with young men to do visits with us, but a lot of the older men from the ward, too, which is really exciting. This week our ward also called a ward mission leader (we haven't had one since I got here) and he was a former counselor in the bishopric in the ward where he lived, so I feel like we are about to be getting a lot of progress here in Jardim Pilar. 

As for our investigators, Sabrina is doing awesome. We FINALLY got to teach her and her Mom who is a less active.  We had a good lesson with them, we talked about the requirements of baptism and also our motivations in doing what is right, for other people or the Lord. We formed a good relationship but it seems like the authorization to baptize is going to take a while.

Just two more things, then I need to conclude.  We got our transfer calls yesterday morning and everyone is staying and I got called to be a district leader once again. It will be cool because now I have the whole vision because I've been pretty much everything on the mission except sister or assistant, so I feel like it will be a fun opportunity to serve other missionaries again.  Also, they announced that President Jairo Mazzagardi of the Area Presidency is going to do a mission tour here in two weeks. So I'm pretty stoked for that. I love it when general authorities come. 

Anyway my family. Just know that I love you guys and I hope that you guys have a great Thanksgiving week with Phil, Nate, missionaries and others. Send them all my love and support. I know that God loves us and has a plan for us. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to share that message with others and I'm loving this work. Until next week!

December 1, 2014

Hey Family!!!

This week you guys will be happy with me. I totally got pictures now of all the adventures I've been having for the last month or so. I'm glad that you guys all had a great Thanksgiving. I'm jealous of the turkey covered in bacon. But then again Brazil already made me fat, so that's ok.

Above referred to "bacon covered turkey" -- pre cooking

"bacon covered turkey" -- post cooking

Everything's going good here with Elder Maits and me here in Mauá. Lots of heat and lots of rain. But it was good because we got a lot of really good work done here.  As for Sabrina, she went out of town this week. Christmas time is coming so everyone loves to go traveling :(. 

But this week we managed to get an investigator to church named Mauricio. He's a simple guy. He really likes us because we're Americans. He's also going through a bit of a hard time with his family so he's living by himself in a house that he is remodeling. He really wants to change his life and develop stronger faith. So we started teaching him and he came to church this week and loved it. I don't think anyone I've ever met here has said that they didn't like church when they visited. So Mauricio is now in the focus group and we're going to start working better with the ward to help him progress to baptism. 

And also we are going to start working with the family of our recent convert, Nicholy. Her mom came to church yesterday because she got confirmed and we are going to teach them today which we're really excited for.

Let's see, also this week we had a training for all the district leaders in the mission with President Broadbent and the assistants. It was really good, there was a lot of emphasis on the importance of our role in changing the mission and making it better. We talked about a lot of things, such as district meetings, and interviews, and overall leadership. They also presented to us the new initiative that the missionary department is doing this Christmas season about helping others recognize the true meaning of Christmas and how we are going to be participating. If you guys wanna make you missionary really happy, go check out and start sharing it on social media because I know you guys are hip and cool now. :)

So I bet you guys are wondering how my Thanksgiving was? Well, ever since Elder Maits, got here, he has been dying for some chinese food. So for Thanksgiving we went to a place called China in Box and we got some take out. It's not the same as we get back home, but it wasn't that bad -- ahah. It's probably the most random Thanksgiving in the world:  Chinese food, in Brazil, but it was a good memory.  Anyways, Family, I'm glad you guys had a great week and that everyone is doing well. I hope that you guys are getting ready, only 24 more days until we Skype again :) I know that this work is truly God's work and that he is preparing the path for us to have sucess here. Thanks for all the love and support!

Zone Picture -- Elder Schwartz, partially hidden.

December 8, 2014

Thanks for the sweet letter! It sounds like everyone is getting really excited for Christmas! Everyone over here is getting really excited too. Especially Elder Maits and I cuz we're gonna talk to our beloved families! 

Elder Maits is doing good. He's getting better at the language and I'm letting him take more control of the lessons and contacts and even letting him out to dry (not sure what this means -- maybe "hanging out to dry"), which is always my favorite part of training -- hehe. Well we had a really good week this week. The weather has been a little crazy. Heavy rains and then the hot sun. Today is especially hot, but it looks like it's going to rain every day this week. But all in all, we had many good experiences. Mauricio is doing great. He absolutely loved church. He also loved the Gospel Principles manual. He can't really read that well because he's getting old, but he said that he read the first four chapters before our lesson and he loved it. He said that he wants to start studying seriously so he can prepare to be baptized. However, he also got a new job as security so his work hours are going to make teaching him difficult, but we are going to find time. 

As for Nicholy's familly, we had a good Christmas lesson, talking about the initiative that the church is doing and how they can discover "The Gift" for themselves. It was pretty well recieved but we didn't even have time to get a good discussion with them. We are going to keep working with them. 
So this week we found a lot of great investigators. I got to do a division with Elder Frost, who was one of my district leaders when I was first a zone leader, and now I'm one of his district leaders and he's my zone leader. It was a good division. We found lots of people and we taught good lessons. It's funny, in this area, we seem to be finding a lot more families. It's interesting because we have set a high goal for baptisms for the next two months and the lord is really blessing us. 

This week we had stake conference which was excellent. There was a great focus on member missionary work. President and Sister Broadbent spoke at both sessions of the conference. We had some investigators at both sessions too. One that we started teaching named Francisco, who is one of our english class students. He's crazy, but he's cool. And Maxwell, who we have been teaching for a while, came to a session as well. 

So a cool finding experience we had this week was when we did a contact with a kid, about 14 years old, named Jefferson. He said we could come by another day, so we showed up and the family was there, and it turns out, that Jefferson's mom is a member. She was baptized at 8 and went less-active at 16. She got really excited talking about all of the wonderful things she learned when she was little and she was telling us how she wants Jefferson to be baptized. And it seems like a good part of that family is less-active so there is going to be a great re-activation. And the best part is that another part of the family is very active in the church, so we are going to bring the members there this week and teach.

So you guys are making a family Christmas album again? I'll do what I can to get a recording to you guys. Can I do it on a camera and send you guys a video? you might need to open some sort of Dropbox for me or something so I can send it, cuz the emails don't hold much memory. Just tell me which songs everyone is doing so I can make sure not to copy anyone. And if anything I'll be doing something that's in the Portuguese Hymn book. 

Anyways, my family, I love you guys! Thanks for the weekly update. I know that this Christmas season is going to be a great one as we remember what is the real purpose of Christmas. I know we have the knowledge of this Gift our Heavenly Father gave us and we need to discover it, embrace it and most importantly SHARE it with everyone. Have a great week!

Elder Schwartz 

Bus Trip to P-day Village

Cool looking church in P-day Village

Looking for an altar...

Wow!  There actually is some jungle near Sao Paulo.