Saturday, February 25, 2017

It's Finally P-Day!!! One week down, 77 to go!

Hola mi familia y amigos!
I am SO happy to be able to email you! They don't give us a p day our first week, so I have been writing down moments and thinking about what to email all week! 

The CCM is amazing!! The spirit here is so strong. It's literally like girls camp collided with EFY, because us hermanas cry all the time! Haha. The food is always an adventure, we never know what the comedor is going to serve up. We've had corn dogs, pasta salad, boiled zuchinni, chips and salsa, enchiladas, pizza, brownies, oatmeal, chicken fajitas, etc. It's just a weird mix of American and Mexican food. Some of the Hermanas have gotten sick, but I think it's (usually) delicious and exciting! Sometimes we sit next to Latinas and practice our Spanish. 

Everyone here is so nice and friendly! The city is insane and super colorful. When we go out of the walls of the CCM we just take pictures of every building because they are all so unique and crazy. Traffic is the craziest thing I've ever seen! You can literally reach out and touch the bus next to you. Everyone knows the rules, but no one thinks they apply to them! At night we hear dogs barking, crickets chirping, crazy mariachi music blaring, and"fireworks." But I feel very safe here! There's a giant wall and of course the Spirit. I've never been so grateful for running water and a clean casa. 

The flight over here was really long, but good. There were maybe 30 other missionaries all going to Mexico City, so it was awesome to have that support. Customs was a little confusing and I got sniffed by an adorable security dog, but I made it into the country with no problems, so that was good! The airport looked like a giant sam's club! A girl in my district was on the plane and we talked to this adorable little abuelita in broken Spanish for the whole plane ride! I also met my roommate Katie's cousin on the plane! She is in my zone and is absolutely incredible! 

My companera is Hermana Salazar! She is amazing! I know that we were supposed to be companions. She's from California and is going to the Mexico City South mission. She actually reminds me a ton of my roommate Mickey from BYU, which is awesome. We get along well and I think we're a great team when we teach! She's been kinda sick the last few days though, so if anyone wants to pray for her I know she would appreciate it. She is such a sweet spirit with a super strong testimony of God's love, which is exactly what the investigators need. She helps me a lot and is a great example to me. I love being called an Hermana! No one can pronounce my name, so I am now Hermana E.....Swards? It's awesome. 

The language is coming so great! I seriously love speaking Spanish and have a real testimony of the gift of tongues. I remember words that I didn't even know I knew, and I think I have a pretty decent accent. I know I have so much to learn though. I'm just super grateful that I can usually communicate with Spanish speakers and that we have so many good books and teachers to help us learn. Singing in Spanish at BYU was actually super helpful, too! The hymns are so powerful and fun in Spanish. It's funny because I hated Spanish grammar in high school, but now I literally beg the maestras to "please teach me past tense!!" We're gonna get to grammar stuff in a couple weeks. We work fast and hard here, but it pays off when you know how to pray in Spanish by the second day. 

The second day here, we taught our first investigator! It's an actor playing someone she really knows, so it was super cool. I was nervous, but in our broken Spanish we were able to teach the First Vision. Now, a week and a half later, we have committed Jazmin to baptism and to keep the law of Chastity! It is seriously the coolest feeling in the world to teach about the gospel. I also got to pretend to be an investigator and that gave some really cool perspective. 

There are beautiful birds and trees in the CCM. I really want to send a picture of the green little parrots but they are too fast! I think of Brooke and Megan when I see them, because they could be from Planet Earth, haha. Mexico city is closer to the equator, so I burn super quick here. We were outside for like, 20 minutes and my nose, neck, and part of my arms got burned. I also feel like a giant! I'm a lot taller than all of the Latinas. 

One of the coolest experiences so far is that President Nelson, the president of the quorum of the 12 apostles came and spoke at the CCM! And he shook each missionaries hand!! It was amazing. He brought such a strong spirit. I got to sing in the choir for him! So cool. He spoke to us about how the Lord uses unlikely means to accomplish the impossible. That message rang so true for us missionaries! Sometimes I feel super inadequate, but I know that anything is possible with the Lord's help. Reading Ether 12 was an incredible experience for me, because the whole chapter was a direct answer to my prayers. I would really encourage everyone to read it! 

Today we got to go to the Mexico City temple and it is beautiful! The architecture is aztec inspired and it's just a huge temple. We had translators so we could hear the session in ingles. It was a really neat experience and I'll probably get to go again before I go out into the field. 

Some random experiences: The tienda (store) sells everything an American missionary could ever want, plus some delicious Mexican snacks. My favorite are the Bueno bars! They are like heaven on earth! 

The toilets are different in every bathroom and my favorites are the ones you can flush with your foot! The sinks are also kinda different. There are just little reminders that we aren't in America any more. 

Some of our favorite inside jokes are "Que tenga un buen dia!" because it was one of the first phrases we learned, and "Elder Estone needs to estudy!" because our teachers always add an E before Elder Stones name. 

Our district is awesome and is already so close! We have four elders, Elder Stone, Elder Uffins, Elder Bedell, and Elder Humphrey. They are so eager to use their priesthood and also so immature at times. :) We have six Hermanas! I love them soooooo much! We're all really good friends and support each other through this whole loco experience. 

I am the only missionary in the MTC going to Cancun, as of right now! Some more missionaries will come in a couple weeks and they might have someone going there, but for now I have a very unique and random mission call! I'm so excited to get out and actually meet the people. I know that Cancun is where I am supposed to be. I feel it so strongly that serving a mission was the right decision. When the going gets tough, I think of my purpose as a missionary, and of all the people supporting me. I'm so grateful for all of you!!! Missions are definitely not easy but I love this work and I love preparing here in the CCM! 

I know that the Church is true and that it can bless lives! Personal revelation is real, and by focusing on the basics, we can learn so much and grow closer to our Heavenly Father! Sorry that this email is so long, but I had a lot to catch up on! The weather is good, the food is exciting, Spanish is fun, and the gospel is true! 

I love you all so much! ¡Gracias!

Hermana Schwartz

I can't see what the links are, but I included a bunch! (you know me, always taking photos!) There's one of my whole district, some with Hermana Salazar, one of me by the famous CCM sign, one by the mission map, one with some of my friends from my zone in the comedor (cafeteria) and my yummy breakfast this morning! And I think just one of the beautiful campus. ​


Saying Goodbye at the Airport is Rough!

Kelsey spent a couple months at home once finals were over December 15.  We took our time shopping, preparing, attending the temple, and enjoying time with family.  The last two weeks were crunch time, though, with all the last minute craziness and packing! 
Kelsey was set apart as a missionary on Monday, February 13, 2017.  President Rytting came to our home to do it.  It was a beautiful blessing and we all had an opportunity to give Kelsey advice and bear testimony.  The Spirit was there in abundance.  The tears flowed so freely that night!

Finally February 14th arrived!  (They gave this mama an easy date to remember, but also a very sad Valentine's Day.)  After a sleepless night, we left home for the airport at 6:30 am.  The flight was scheduled for 9:55, and she had to be there 3 hours early.  We had to say goodbye before she went on through security on her own.  We stayed and watched her until we could no longer see her head above the crowd.  She was off on her adventure and so ready to get out there and serve!  (Once she was gone, we all broke down and bawled, of course!)

Called to Serve!

This is Kelsey's mom, trying to figure out after many years of not blogging how to start a blog again.  Please be patient while I relearn it!
Kelsey has expressed interest in serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the age of about seven.  She decided to start the process of applying for a mission call in the Fall of 2016 while attending her first semester at BYU.  While working on it, we decided to renew her passport early (it would expire during her mission time) just in case she received a foreign call.  Normal wait time for a passport is 6-8 weeks.  Kelsey got hers in 2 weeks!  She completed the interviews and submitted her papers on September 26, 2016.  The Stake President told her the call should come in a couple weeks, but the soonest possible date was October 6 (a week and a half!).  Imagine our surprise when on Thursday, October 6 the big white envelope arrived at our home!  After some quick texts and arranging of things, Kelsey decided that night was the best time to have certain people there to witness her opening it!  She caught the FrontRunner train home from Provo.   I tried several times to attach the video, but nothing is working.  Here's a screenshot instead.  Sorry.

Ok, maybe I got the video to work???  We'll see...

Mexico Cancun Mission
Starting February 14, 2017 
Report to the Mexico City MTC for 6 weeks

We had all kinds of guesses, but Mexico was not one of them.  We didn't even know there's a mission in Cancun.  Her dad and I had vacationed there a year and a half before, so it was nice to have an idea of the place she'd be going. 

A little over 4 months to prepare, including finishing up 2 months of school.
Here we go!