Thursday, April 16, 2015

March and April in Vila das Mercês with Elders Diaz and Elder Moroni

Note from Elder Schwartz's parents:  Elder Schwartz will be finishing his mission soon.  In May he will be returning home to the USA.  Expected arrival will be around the 18th of May.  We'll update as we get final details....

Elder Schwartz with his new haircut
District with Elder Diaz (down in front center)


With Elder Moroni

March 2, 2015

Hey family,

I can't believe that it is Monday again. It is passing by wayyyyyy too fast for me. This week literally flew by. But it was a really good week for us. I'm glad to hear that you guys are doing well with everything. With all the callings and work and what not. And it's good to hear that Phil is liking his work for Habitat for Humanity. Good stuff is happening at home and that makes me happy. 

So everything here is going good. The area is amazing. The members are awesome. The only down side is that the area is one big hill so it's a bummer for my knees, but I'll hold through, and as we tell our investigators, "endure to the end" -- hahaha. Elder Diaz is good. I'm not sure where in Peru he's from but he doesn't live in Lima but more in the countryside. We actually went to a doctor this week because of the stomach problems I told you guys he was having, and it turns out that he has a stomach virus that is causing ulcers, which really stinks. So he was prescribed some medication that he's gonna take for about a month, then he's gonna take a few tests afterwards to see how it is.  So I'm pretty positive we'll at least finish the transfer together, which I'm pretty excited for.  He's a good missionary.  He is really diligent, which is what I like.  As for the other Elders in the house -- they're not in my district, but actually Elder Starr is another district leader in the zone and he's got like a year and a half on the mission. He's from Spokane and he actually know's Dusty Bonkemeyer which was a crazy small mormon world coincedence. And Elder Frost is from Georgia and he's got a nice Georgia accent and he's got a year and 4 months. I love the house and I know that I'm where the Lord wants me to finish my mission.

So as for the work week -- ohhh, did we work.  We are constantly trying to find new investigators and this area is small and has a lot of people so we've been doing a lot of street contacting and marking appointments. Some appointments fall through. Others we have small lessons, but overall we are having successes. We found a new family this week that came to church. Their names are Rodrigo and Vanessa, they're not married (yet) and they have 3 little children from 4 years down to 7 months. We had really great lesson and the spirit was super strong. Raiza and Barbara didn't make it to church because of some crazy confusion with the parents but they are going next week and we managed to teach them this week. It's going well. And I think I told you guys about our other investigators such as Enzo who's brother Junior is a member that we are reactivating. We managed to bring only Junior to church but we taught them and their mom this week which was a good lesson. The mom goes to another church and has another philosophy but we had a good discussion and we taught her some truths from the restored gospel. But all in all we are working hard and loving it here.

Today for P-day we went to Parque de Iberapuera again but there we had a two-zone activity where we played sports and games and hung out. It was fun. Unfortunately I don't have any photos for the week but next week for sure I'll have some. I love you guys lots and miss you guys. I hope you all have a good week!

Love,
Elder Schwartz

Our House

Our Area

More of our Area, including the "hill"


March 9, 2015

Dear FAMILY!!!

So, I literally have no time at all to write about the week. We have district meeting in 20 minutes, so I gotta jet already. I love you guys! This week was fanatastic! Rodrigo and Vanessa are doing great -- they came to church and are well integrated in the ward, We're just waiting on them to start the paperwork process to get married -- we are excited for them.  They were our only investigators that came to church.  This week we learned new teaching technique that is teaching a lot more clear and direct in teaching the principles of the gospel.  It is changing the way we are working and I really like it. So more efficient and clear. We also had interviews with President which was good, but kind of trunky for me, because he just talked about home stuff -- but I'm staying focused and working hard. 

I LOVE YOU ALL AND I KNOW THAT THIS IS GOD'S WORK!!!

Love, 
Elder Schwartz

Beautiful Sao Paulo
March 16, 2015

My dear beloved family,

How good it is to hear from you guys. I feel bad because I have been bad at writing back and sending pics, but today is a lot more calm so I'll give you guys a good report on the week.

THE MISSIONARIES ARE TEACHING A BRAZILLIAN!?!?!? I want in. I'll help. Tell the elders to put the teaching on hold til I get there hahaha. But that's good to hear. It sounds like there are a lot more brazillians than I though back home, but that's not super suprising either because almost everyone here says they have a cousin or something in the States working there, but they're more concentrated in Miami, Boston, and New York. 

But that's good to hear that everyone is doing great. I liked Nate's throwback pic :)  -- the good ol days. 

As for us here, this week was a rush. I feel like I spent most of the week out of my area. Well that's because I had to do two divisions in a row, to do some baptismal interviews. One for the zone leaders and two for the elders in my district. It was crazy. For both of them, I was out of my area, but Elder Diaz held it down strong. The first division I was with my Portuguese ZL Elder P. Ferreira and then I was with Elder Barros da Silva, a freshly trained greenie who is in his second area. Both divisions were good. I learned a lot from each Elder and we managed to get some good work done.  I enjoyed doing the baptismal interviews as well.

We spent the week evaluating our teaching pool and finding new investigators. Idk if I told you guys but in this ward I'm serving in, there's a member family that bring a lot of primary children to church that aren't members, so we started this week to contact and work with a few of them and their families. This was during the division so I don't know the story of each one too well, but I met two -- Vitor Hugo who's 11 and Evelyn who is 10. There are about 8 that have been going for over a year. So this week we are going to follow up with each of them. As for Rodrigo and Vanessa, they are doing great. They are really progressing well. This week they said that they are going to buy the fiancé rings and go to get everything marked up at the registry. We even had a FHE with them at a members house last night and it went by super well. 

As for my comp he is still having some struggles with his health but he is being a good sport. He is trying really hard and working diligently, for all the pain he is feeling. He's finishing up the treatment and I think in two weeks he'll be doing some more exams to see if he is getting better or not.  Also there is only two weeks in the transfer left. I'm not really sure if he'll be staying in the mission for the next or if he'll even be my comp, if one of us gets transferred. We're just stoked to be working together for these final weeks. 

Anyways I'm excited for this coming week. I'm excited for the opportunities that we are going to have to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for the family I have and all the blessings the Lord has given me and all that he has done to bring me to this point in life. I know that through his divine authority, our families can be together forever. I love my Savior and I am so grateful for the privilege to represent Him and His church here in Brazil. I love you all and I hope you guys have a good week. 

With Love,
Elder Schwartz 

Doing a baptismal interview.  Nice Sister Missionary made soup for the woman who was not feeling well.

March 23, 2015

HELLO FAMILY

First off, I want to wish for my dear older brother a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! 27!!!!! soooo ooooolllldddd!  I got a special present waiting for you Phil ;).  But it's good to hear that you guys had a good week this week. And what is this about closing down Pine meadows!?!?!?! That's my course!!!! They can't close it down on me!!! Vote against it!!!

So I got some kind of sad news for you guys. My comp, Elder Diaz, went home on Saturday, he was still having some difficulites so he went home to get a better treatment and now I have a new comp. My new companion's name is Elder Moroni and he's from Rio de Janeiro (the state, not the city). He's got about 7 months on the mish but he actutally started like 10 months ago but he had to go home to get a surgery and he just got back and now he's with me. He's a good missionary and I'm pretty sure he'll be the one to kill me (translation: he'll be my last comp when I finish). 

SO as for the week and the investigators and everything; well, we got the phone call on Tuesday from the mission doctor that Elder Diaz was going home. It was kind of a rush for everything. We also had zone conference on Thursday which was really really really goood. I learned a lot from the conference and it motivated me to take advantage of every moment for these last six weeks. AS for our investigators, Rodrigo and Vanessa are still super solid. Really good family. We are going to the registry this Wednesday with them. Everything is all marked and set up, so they'll probably get married the last Saturday of April or something. As for the primary children we started to work with, they are good but none of the ones that we are working with went to church this week. We are going to go to a family home evening at the Primary presidents home this week and we'll start our work there.  This week we had a good experience finding a really huge family through a reference from other missionaries. We thought that they were just investigators but we found out that they are a part-member family when we took a member there. We are going to start working with them this week. It's like a house of 15 people so I'm not really good with all of their names yet. 

This week I also got to do some more baptismal interviews for a few areas in the zone which is always a good experience. I got to do an interview for a woman that is 99 years old... it was a good interview and she passed. It was a little hard for her to hear me but as I spoke up, she could understand. She was baptized on Saturday. 

And that's about it for me. I've been sick since Friday nights so I haven't been feeling too well. It sucks to be sick on the mission. But I'm feeling a little bit better today and I'm hoping that these next few days I'll be at full health to be able to work hard. I know that this is the Lord's work and we have to do it His way. I'm really going to do my best this week and yoke myself to Him. Thanks for the scripture dad (Matthew 11:28-30). It's one of my favorites. I'm grateful for Christ, and His Atonement. I'm grateful for the privilege to share His gospel with others. I love you guys and hope you guys have a good week! 

With Love,
Elder Schwartz

Nice Scripture covers....hand made here....

March 30, 2015

Hey Family,

First off, It's good to hear that all of you guys are doing so well.  Like I said, I'm stoked to meet all the brazilians you have met over all this time. I want to keep the portuguese up when I get home, so that will be good. It's so weird to hear that Mitchell is already home. I'm glad to hear that he had a wonderful mission experience like I'm having.  So we literally just got the transfer calls, and it turns out that I'm going to stay with Elder Moroni here in Vila das Mercês and I'm not going to be District leader anymore but I'm going to just be Senior Companion. So it looks like I'll be dying (finishing my mission) in peace -- hahaha. I'm stoked because now it's just me, my comp and our area and we're going to work as hard as possible for these next 5 weeks. 

So this week was probable one of the hardest weeks that I've had on the mission. It was hard. Really hard. We worked a lot, but it seemed that nothing that we were doing was working. All of our appointments were falling, no one was really listening to us. Just one of those weeks. The adversary is working hard, but that's the thing, I'm working harder. We didn't let this get us down nor will we let a hard week get us down.  The lesson I keep learning is that the adversary has real power, but he wins only if we let him, if we choose not to act. And even with all the setbacks and difficulties, this week we found a few really good and firm investigators to start teaching. 

Other events of the week, I got to do another baptismal interview with a woman who had been taught for over a year and finally decided to get baptized. And we also had a little celebration here for Elder Starr's birthday, so we ate a lot of cake and pizza this week. So my diet from now on is more of good all rice, beans and the amazing fruits they have here in Brazil.

Anyways all in all everything is going good. I'm stoked for this upcoming transfer period and all the good that we're going to do. I love you guys and I'm excited to see you guys here in a few weeks. I know that we are God's soldiers out here and we're doing his work. It's hard sometimes, but I'm so grateful for the privilege to go through challenges as Christ's representative. I love you guys and I'll talk to you guys next week!

Love,
Elder Schwartz

Elder Starr's Birthday -- he got "egged"...maybe, a brazilian tradition

April 6, 2015

First off before I forget,

Elder Barreto asked me if you guys can bring a jar of peanut butter down here so he can bring it home and give his mom. So if you guys can just get a jar and put it in the suitcases, you'll make a little brazillian elder happy. 

Anyway.....

SO HEY FAMILY,

How about that general conference? I really really really really loved it. It was SO good. I always love conference because the Brethren always seem to be able to articulate what I am always thinking or feeling, but in a much better way and really open my eyes on how I can become better.  Love it! I'm glad that you guys had a good week with the family all together. 

So this week was difficult but blessed.  Difficult, really difficult but we're not giving up. and looking at the bright side of things we have actually found a lot of really good new investigators this week. A lot of people with a lot of good potential. We're going to keep working with them and I'll let you guys know how they progress this next week. As for the primary children, we went to the family home evening this week at the Primary presidents house and we left a message with them about how they can follow Jesus. They are actually very smart kids and they understand, but they're hard to get and keep calm during the lessons. We are going to keep following up with them and try to talk to them and their families together. 

So that was pretty much the week. For general conference I watched the sessions in english with all the american elders.  I think my favorite talk was Elder Ballard from the priesthood session -- since he directed it to basically my age group it helped me know better what I need to do when I get home and how to keep up the spiritual strength.  But honestly, I loved every single talk. I already put them on a memory card to start listening to them today. This next P-day we'll be going to the temple (for the last time :( ) so I'm not sure if I'll email you guys next Monday or  Tuesday. But I'm glad to hear that everything is going alright and that you guys are doing well. Thanks for all the love, support and prayers for me, my comp, and our investigators. I know that this is the Lord's work and that His church is on the earth. He leads it through His chosen prophet Thomas S. Monson. I'm grateful to God to be living in this era and to be born in a family so amazing and wonderful to have brought me up to learn and know these truths. Have a great week!

With love,
Elder Schwartz

Members of the ward have a picnic between conference sessions

Some yummy fish!  (even with the head still on...)

Yummy "star fruits"

April 13, 2015

Dear Family!

So I'm going to write you guys a little message today and maybe tomorrow as well. So like I said last week, we are going to go to the temple, so they let us write a little today and tomorrow. But it's good to hear that you  guys had a nice camping trip and that you guys had a some sweet adventures down by Monterey.  A really beautiful spot and some great scenery. 

So for us this week was good. It was hard, but we were blessed this week. It was hard because we had a lot of difficulty finding the new investigators that we found last week, at home.  We had a lot of appointments fall through, and this week the majority of the days were all full. But we didn't give up and the Lord really blessed us with investigators that are progressing.  We started to use our area book and we decided to visit some of the investigators that were taught previously and had progressed but weren't baptized for some reason. So through that we now have two investigators that we are preparing to be baptized.  They may even be baptized this coming weekend. Their names are Jessica and the other is Jefferson. Jessica had been to church a lot, we got in contact with her this week and she expressed that she really enjoys the church and the things that she learns and how it is calmer and more peaceful than the other churches that she had been to. She is really intelligent, really the only thing that holds her back is to make the decision to be baptized. So we are going to follow up with her today and if she is prepared we'll arrange an interview for her this week for her baptism. And as for Jefferson, we found him before conference, we actually found him because missionaries had already taught his sister, so we went to find his sister but she wasn't home and he said that we could leave a message with him. He's shown great interest in the church and the Book of Mormon. He and Jessica both came to church yesterday and they both had good experiences.

We had other good experiences this week. I'll try to send another email with the rest of the details of my week tomorrow, but this is pretty much the big highlights of the week. I love you guys. I'm loving this mission and the opportunity to serve and represent Christ. Thanks for all the love and support.

xoxoxo,
Elder Schwartz

At the BK with a clown and a giraffe

With our district....
















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