Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Playa del Carmen!

Hi everyone!

Saludos de hermoso Playa del Carmen! Let me tell you, this place is crazy! There are so many tourists here! We´ve talked to people from germany, sweden, England,El Salvador, Argentina, Canada, US. It´s pretty crazy to try and preach in English! Half of our ward last week were families visiting from Utah. It felt just like home, haha! 

The beach is so close, it´s a big temptation but we´ve got better things to do called preaching the restored gospel! This area is so amazing and the people are so prepared to here. In my first day here, we had to drop an investigator because her daughter is very Catholic and doesn´t want anything with the church. It was a little rough to be rejected, but we got to work and we found 6 new people to teach! 

This week I was very blessed to be part of the baptism of Pedro Morales. He is absolutely incredible. He´s super sick and very viejito, and he lives in the smallest little room. He can hardly walk, but he has to climb the sketchiest stairs I have seen every day to get up to his apartment. And he said the most faithful prayer I have ever heard, asking to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet and if the Book of Mormon is true. He still doesn´t have a complete knowledge of all things, but he took a leap of faith and chose to be baptized. He´s a huge example to me. 

We´re teaching a couple other people that are SO close! We literally just try and teach and let the Spirit work in them. 

I love my companion because she preaches repentence, without fear. She has a real gift to speak with people and help them understand. I´m learning a lot from her. She´s from Mexico State, has 5 months in the mission, and is a great missionary. 

We also had an amazing Christmas Conference with our mission presidente and all of our zona! It was a party. We broke three piñatas, had an elegant Christmas dinner, and sang carols. Including a special number written and sang by moi callled the "12 Cambios of christmas", adapting the 12 days of christmas to the mission. It was pretty funny if I do say so myself. I´ll try and send a video. 

It was a wonderful week here, where I learned so much about diligence, dedicating ourselves to the Lord and the blessings of serving others. Also, chile relleno is my new favorite food. SOOO GOOD! 

Love you all so much! Have a wonderful week and special birthday shoutout to my brother Jacob!

Hermana Schwartz

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Photos from a friend in Playa Del Carmen!

 Someone who lives in Kelsey's new area took them out to lunch, then was kind enough to send us some photos.

They grow up so fast!!! Transfers!

Ahhhhhhhh hi guys I´m sooo sorry but I have absolutely no time this week!

The biggest news is that Hermana Merrick has officially finished her training and is a big missionary now! So excited for her and I know she´ll do amazing things. 

I´m getting transferred to PLAYA del CARMEN! Oooh, ahhh! It´s gonna be very different and a little bit faster paced, but I´m excited. I love going to new areas and meeting the amazing people. My new comp is gonna be the Hermana Bettancourt. Her name looks american and she looks american, but plot twist, she´s from Mexico! She´s the cutest thing ever and I¨'m excited to work with her! 

I know that the Lord works miracles. Short experience that isn´t really revelant to anything, but today I prayed to be able to open our blender that has been broken for 12 weeks. And I was able to do  it!! God can give us strength in any challenge. Inculding broken blenders. 

Hope you´re all excited for the Christmas season and look for little ways to SERVE. There is nothing that brings greater joy. 

Love you all so much! Please forgive me for this short email. Have a fabulous week! 
Next week I´ll give a full report about my new area, etc. :) 

Hermana Schwartz

Sometimes the Lord Works With Puppies

Aloooohhhha! Just kidding, hola. Trying to mix it up a bit.

Soooo, this week was full of ups and downs, but everything worked out the way it was supposed to. We had our hopes smashed a couple of times, but it definitely humbled us. 

One Tuesday, we were visiting in a part of our area that we hardly ever go to, because our dear friend and most constant investigator, Marla, had her baby! Welcome to the world, little Oliver! On our way to visit her, we saw the cutest,tiniest little puppy! To my great delight he started to follow us, for several blocks! We named him Joe, because it just suited him and because it made me think of the song, "Where did you come from? Where do you go? Where do you come from Cotton Eye Joe?" He was just wandering around lost, and nobody know whose dog he was. So he followed us around for a bit, until we were finally just like, "Well, we can´t keep a dog. Let´s go find some niños." The first family we found had SIX KIDS. All under the age of 11. We asked them if they wanted a puppy, and of course they said SIIIIII!!! And just started loving him.  But we got super excited because the mom said they assisted the Mormon church when the lived in Louisiana!!! We were so pumped and just started counting baptisms. There are four kids that are above 8 years old, and the parents. We couldn´t wait to be able to teach them, and we were so grateful that the Lord guided us to this family with a little lost puppy. 

BUT the sad news is the dad is actually very anti mormon and even though the kids all want to be baptized, he´s not going to let them. Unfortunately there isn´t much we can do without the parents consent, so we´re just going to wait and hope that they can learn about the gospel in the future. But it sure was fun to have a puppy as a companion. I know that everthing happens for a reason and that God is very aware of this family. 

The other crazy twist was we just weren´t sure if Rafael was ready to be baptized or not. I have never had an investigator that made me feel so conflicted inside. One minute it was, YES, he´s ready! And the next was, he can´t possibly be ready. He´s not humble, and he hasn´t gone to church. He was a special case that our mission presidente authorized because he´s in the military and can´t assist on sundays. So we were fasting, praying, seeking revelation, aaaand we decided to drop him. But then in a crazy turn of events we were planning to have his baptism yesterday, but the Bishop called it off last minute for some very valid reasons. ANYWAY. What I learned from this is sometimes God doesn´t give us a clear answer of "yes, or no." Sometimes he lets us take our own actions. We did everything we could so that Rafael could get baptized in this transfer. And we will get baptized, just in a few weeks when he´s more prepared. I learned that if we do everything we can, and the answer still is "no," then we can accept that as the will of the Lord. 

The super sweet thing is that Rafael was very concerned that Root Beer was against the word of wisdom. When he learned that it wasn´t, he bought us root beer to celebrate. It was too good :) 

In other events, I ate a chicken foot. And...we feel like the spirit of thanksgiving has descended upon us because we saw a giant turkey. 

We also got flu shots, so we are well immunated against the "cold front" that´s coming. 

I can´t believe that Hermana Merrick is finishing up her training. She´s amazing and I feel so lucky to have been her trainer. I hope that she has learned a lot in our time together, because I sure have! 

This next week were are going to travel to Playa del Carmen to hear from a Seventy! Elder Pino is going to talk to the whole mission and it´s gonna be amaaaazing! 

Oh, and the other good news is that Araceli is on track for her baptism this Saturday!! She is so sweet, very spunky, and she loved learning about the commandments. When she learned that we shouldn´t give false witness against our neigbors, she commited to stop gossiping. I have had the privilege to have a lot of "converniños". Or a lot of my converts are kids. :) Actually, all of them up to this point. But I think it´s because kids are just so willing to change, to live the gospel, and to follow the Savior. Aracely is so great and I´m so excited for her!! 

Thanks for all of your great support, love, and prayers. I´m grateful for every single one of you, because in some way or another you have helped me get to this point. I´m grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ. I´m grateful for the good people of Chetumal, a sweet companion, a loving Heavenly Father who answers our prayers in the best possible way. And I´m grateful that I can write and hear from you guys every week. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! Enjoy it, because it doesn´t exist here. We´ve got our own version planned, but it won´t be the same. 

Love you all!
Hermana Schwartz 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Baby It's Cold Outside

Hola friends and fam!

How`s life treating you these days? Can you believe I`m going to hit the half way mark??? I sure can´t. It`s absolutely loco. :) I had to put that title, slightly ironically and slightly en serio because it has dropped to a chilly 75, 80 degrees and I am FREEZING in the mornings. It`s ridiculous. I`m definitly not acustomed to the cold anymore. It doesn`t help that it`s humid. But my companion slightly mocks me in the morning because I`m always wrapped up in my sheet, with socks and a sweater just shivering. I love the heat of Cancún. :)

We had a good week this week, and we managed to find a few new people that have a lot of potencial! Carlos is this old military guy that only has one leg, and it was so cool to teach him. The missionaries taught him a boat load of stuff, but he never got baptized. He just has been pondering and thinking about the message for about a year now, and he had amaaaazing questions. We could see the clarity and the peace that came into his eyes to finally have an answer. He can`t see very well, so we`re going to print off a few verses from the Book of Mormon in giant font so he can read and pray. Super excited to see if he can progress! 

And HAPPY DAY Araceli finally came to church! Esta niña....she`s so ready to be baptized, but it`s hard to come to church sometimes. We passed by for her and she was all ready to go! 

We`ve been practicing a few musical numbers to play/sing in December. My personal goal lately is learn how to sing the alto part, because it sounds soooo pretty and I`ve always wanted to learn how to harmonize. With Hermana Merrick`s musical genius, I`m slowly picking it up. We`re going to sing "Be Still My Soul," in a mix of English and Spanish accompanied by a gorgeous piano part. I`m not super strong on the harmony yet, so sometimes it sounds like the middle ages creepy music. But I`ll get it! Hopefully, haha! I`m also basically the designated ward chorister, including for a slightly off-key Priesthood Choir. Fun stuff. 

We had intercambios this week and Hermana Gunderson and Hermana Davis surprised us with homemade tortillas! It was their...third or fourth attempt, I think, and they turned out good! Gotta learn the secret of tortilla making before I finish up here in a short 9 months. 

Another random story...the power went out with the cute Familia Bobabilla while we were having a Family Home Evening. They taught their kiddos so well, they knew just what to do and said a very faith filled prayer. The mom just kept cooking the refreshments on the gas stove, and we read the scriptures by candlelight. When we saw them the next sunday and asked them if the light came back, the kids were just like, "Yeah, it did! Really fast, too!!" They`re just a really great example to me. 

Okay, and here`s my cool spiritual thought for the week. I studied a lot in first and second Nephi this week, and I know that these are the first chapters of the Book of Mormon for a reason. We can read them over and over again, know the stories inside and out, but we`ll always find something new. I loved how Lehi KNEW that he had seen a vision and that his sons needed to get the plates. Sariah started to complain abit, but it says that after her sons were back and the trial passed, she KNEW with certainty that they would be protected in the desert. Sometimes our trials are just what we need to be able to keep going, keep trusting, and keep believing in the Lord. It`s our experiences that form our faith and strengthen our testimonies. I also learned a lot about how Nephi reacted when the Lord told him to kill Laban. That was a crazy answer, that Nephi wasn`t expecting. But he thought it over, and really considered all the consequences. When he knew it was the Lord`s will, he acted and followed through. That`s the way we can receive revelation. And we need to act, even if it isn`t the answer we expected or wanted. 

Anway, I know that the Lord will answer our prayers. I know that I am here, serving in beautiful Chetumal, Mexico for a reason. And I know that he will put the people that we need to teach in our path. It`s such a huge privelige and blessing just to be out here, and these last 9 months haven`t been easy, but I have felt a true sense of joy. It`s humbling, enabling, and just amazing. 

I hope you all have a fabulous week!! I can`t upload pics with this chaffa computer, so here`s one of when I was just starting and still a jovencita in the CCM. :) 

Lots of love from Chetumal, 
Hermana Schwartz 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Día de Los Muertos

Hey guys! Sorry this is gonna be a quick one this week. We had some fun adventures in the morning and now we don´t have a toooon of time.

But this week was Día de los Muertos! It isn´t a huge deal here in the peninsula, but it was fun because everyone puts out a little altar with pictures of their loved ones that have passed away. Complete with tamales, candy, and lots of flowers. We thought they were super pretty, but it turns out its kind of a sin....since it´s an alter......and we only worship God. But we enjoyed the opportunity to talk to a lot of people about FAMILY HISTORY. We had some really special lessons and really felt that family history work is the same as missionary work, just on the other side of the veil. I love the scripture that says if we breing even one soul unto god, how great shall be our joy. I know that to be true. 

Our convert Amayrani moved and we finally found her new house!!! Yayyyy! Sometimes we have to stalk people, but it´s all for a good purpose. She is so sweet, and we played a really fun game to learn about prayer. We have to pay attention to the answers, so we changed little things about our clothes. (eg, my nametag with Hermana Merricks, or we switched watches, etc) She had to note the difference, and it was so fun. We got her little brother in on it and we were all just giggling like crazy. They´re good muchachos. 

I´ve got a bunch of photos to send, but the only one that uploaded is this crazy star fruit that we bought! Just take it as a reminder that you´re all stars. (Cheesy, but I love you guys!) God loves you, he is cheering you on, and he will fight your battles if you let him. 

I promise I´ll send lots of stories and pics next week! Love you all a bunch! 

Hasta Luego, 
Hermana Schwartz

Saturday, October 21, 2017

So. Much. Cake. :)

Hey everyone, how are y'all?

Thanks again for the sweet birthday emails and cards. I am now officially 20! Ahhhh, when did this happen?!

I had a wonderful birthday a la mexicana, without any face cake smashing.Hermana Davis and Hermana Gunderson passed by in the morning with incredibly delicious, diabetes-filled, OREO PANCAKES. This is our new kitchen concoction that is super tasty but also probably not the healthiest. But they also surprised me with a confetti filled egg on my head and amazing gospel stickers. Love them. 

And then my sweet comp totally surprised me by planning a "Family Home Evening" with our favvvvorite members in the ward, the Familia Pastor. They had everthing all masterminded, and I didn`t expect a thing until I walked in and they had balloons everywhere and a giant cake! That was the first of many cakes. I also got one from the zone to make up for smashing my face in the first one, one from the member that made us lunch, and we also ate a cake for Dia de Los Muertos. So good! 

I`m so excited because we found some amazing new investigators this week! Araceli is super sweet, 11 years old, and wants to be baptized so bad!! Merari is the other ivestigator with potential. She listened so intently when we taught. I love teaching and I love the people so much! 

We got our very exciting cambios this week....we`ll be staying together in Jardines! Woot, woot!! Hermana Merrick is gonna be finishing up her training and then she`s off to conquer the world. 

We`re not quite in Novemeber yet, but I`m grateful for goals, my amazing family, good friends, the gospel, yummy mexican food, the fact that I can email once a week, the good ward here, the rain that cools us off, my hammock, and most of all my Savior. Count your blessings in the little moments and you truly will realize how blessed we are. 

Sorry that it`s a bit short this week, but I love you guys! The gospel is true! And happy day because I`ve got pictures, yayyy! 

Have a great week, 
Love Hermana Schwartz