Thursday, March 23, 2017

Last Week in the CCM!

Hola everyone!
It´s officially our last week in the CCM! Our Zone Leader has a little jingle that we all sing in a really low voice everytime we do anything."It´s our last P-day in the CCM!" We think it´s hilarious because that´s the type of entertainment we have access to these days. ;)

I leave for Cancún Monday morning at 2:30! It´s very exciting and mildly stressful. I´m so excited to just get there and start working (and sweating) and meet the people that I´m supposed to serve! I´m really grateful for my time here to prepare. It´s not just a place to learn Spanish--it´s literally the Lord´s center to prepare his missionaries. Every experience is a learning experience. 

St. Patrick's day was really boring here because they don´t even celebrate it here. I tried to explain what it was and it probably sounded really weird that it´s just a day everyone wears green. 

A suuuper cool experience happened when we taught our investigator. We were sitting outside, talking about the gospel, and there was some super loud inappropriate music blasting from outside The Wall. As soon as I started bearing my testimony about the Savior, nothing mattered anymore and the spirit was so strong. And as soon as I said amen, I could hear the music again. I know that anyplace can be made into a holy place and that when we bear our testimonies, the Holy Ghost helps us bear witness. I also got randomly selected to share my testimony in church this Sunday. I was so grateful for the opportunity because now I know that I CAN stand and bear witness, in Spanish, whenever I am asked to. 

We learned so much this week. I feel like my mind was blown, like, 37 times. At least. It´s our last week here and I´m just trying to study harder and work harder than ever before. I know that I´ll get at least one convert on my mission--myself! Just trying to study everyday and pray more makes the biggest difference in the world. 

Anyway, enough spiritual stuff, y'all probably want some funny stories!

Some hermanas in our casa had their shower flood this week! There was a legit river streaming down our hallway, and some very frantic screams coming from their room. We believe that a spider is haunting their shower because Hermana Wilson killed it in there. And it ONLY floods when Hermana Wilson showers! Very suspicious if you ask me...

Another story: This one is super disgusting. I was getting some syrup for my pancakes at breakfast, and I felt something sticky on my finger. Without thinking, I just licked it off really quick, thinking it was syrup. But it was RANCH DRESSING. There wasn´t any ranch dressing available in the comedor for breakfast. Slightly horrified, I looked under my plate and saw to my dismay that it was covered with old, crusty, not washed off ranch dressing. I prayed really hard over my breakfast that morning. I only felt slightly sick and clearly haven´t died yet so I think I´ll be okay. But it is still the nastiest thing that has happened to me so far. 

And finally: We feasted on cake last night! It was some Elder´s birthday and he was carrying a GIANT chocolate cake his family sent him. We told him that if he had any extra to send it to Casa 14! That night when we went home, there was literally about half a cake, some bowls, and some forks on our porch! I can now officially testify about tender mercies. 

Anyway, good times here in our little bubble. I´m so excited to actually get out into the field! I couldn´t be more grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission or for my supportive family and friends. That´s something that not all missionaries have, so thank you guys so much! I see miracles everyday and I haven´t even left the MTC yet. 

I love you all! ¡Que tengan un excelente semana! (Have an excellent week! Hopefully that Spanish is right after 6 weeks here! Haha!)

So, an Elder here is a legit photographer and has a super nice point and shoot camera. You can manually change the settings and I was totally geeking out over it! He let me take a few shots and that´s why there are some random macro photos of flowers and such. :)

1. My shoes
2. Piano
3. Hermana Salazar´s haircut!
4. Flowers 
5. Cutest bromance in the CCM
6. Ladybug
7. Thank you family for sending me snacks!!!
8. Elder and Sister Eves, some leaders here
9. Friends in front of our casa
10. Weird muscle man outside the wall
11. Zone photo

Thursday, March 16, 2017

One Month Down, Seventeen to Go!

Hola everyone!! Buenos tardes!

It was a fantastic week at the CCM! Last time you all heard from me my district was struggling just a tad, but things are looking up! My companion is "mucho mejor" (much better!)  and our entire district has just grown a lot closer. H. Salazar and I taught our best lesson since coming here, and I think we´re really starting to work well together! I´m really just super happy being here learning how to serve the Lord. Some pretty exciting things happened this week, including our One Month Fiesta! Has it really been that long?? We´re really just trying to buckle down and work hard, because we are quickly approaching the end of our time here!!

For gym time we got a giant group together to play kickball and that was fun. I haven´t played kickball since like, 6th grade so that brought back fond memories. We also played basketball and Hermana Duke dominated me! She´s taller than me so I was not used to people actually being able to block my shots! Haha, I love my tall friend. 

This week was crazy because the girls in our casa were in a war. Hermana Vave consumed 10 bueno bars in one day, so the other Hermanas hosted an intervention! Vave retaliated by stealing a few clothes, and everything escalated very quickly after that! It was all very good natured and no permanent harm was done. But it was absolutely hilarious! I might have gotten involved...a little bit, haha. We ended up calling a truce so that we could all celebrate our Month mark together without fear of losing personal items. 

One of the coolest experiences was teaching TRC. That´s when real people come into the CCM and we get to practice teaching a lesson. A little abuelita came in with tears in her eyes, telling us that she was just praying to God. She brought the spirit into that room like a wave! We talked to her and found out that some of her family members weren´t members, and I felt like we should share D&C 31, which talks about how our families will be blessed by our faith. Her eyes welled up with tears, and it was so amazing to see how much the scriptures can help real people. 

We also got to visit Sister Lyons this week, who is an absolute ANGEL! She´s the wife of our Mission President´s counselor, and is waiting for a kidney transplant. We visited her casa and sang a couple hymns for her, and she told us in Spanish that she loves living here at the CCM because she lives among angels. Such a sweet spirit in that room, too! 

Continuing with the theme of kind people here, we got to do a service project in the kitchens and help set up the comedor for dinner. It was fun because we got to see where they keep the hordes of Nutella and peanut butter to feed all of us missionaries. But the best part was when Andres, the worker who was helping us, told us that he would do anything he could to help us! AND someone folded all of my laundry today! People are so nice that it blows my mind!!! Seeing so many examples of charity and spiritual strength has been amazing. 

It was really funny/awkward this week because I had a mini breakdown during a language assessment. It´s not what you think....I wasn´t upset because the language was hard or anything, it was LITERALLY because the computer hated me. I have an honest desire to learn Spanish and the computers were stopping me!!! I went to FIVE different computers and none of them would record my voice! So I just ended up repeating "Hola! Soy Hermana Schwartz, soy de Salt Lake City.,..." over and over and over again trying to get it to work. Nothing I did made a difference! It was just a mildly stressful moment that kinda pushed me over the edge, so I ended up crying and laughing because the whole situation was so dumb. And then, finally, in the last ten minutes of class, it worked! It was good to get my feelings out though and just laugh at myself. I promise I´m totally fine, it was just a random moment, haha. 

Our district did a musical number this week! I played violin, H. Cragen played piano, and our district sang! It was really quite lovely and I felt the spirit so strong. 

Tuesday was amazing because we had a devotional with Elder Cornish from the Seventy! He spoke in General Conference last October, so look up his talk if you don´t remember who he is. He taught the importance of History in Conversion. At first I was like, "huh? how do those relate?" But they totally do!! History gives us the strength to know conversion is possible, by looking back and seeing the examples of our family, of people in the scriptures, and others who had strength in moments of
trial. So cool! He also taught that the commandments are a list of things that make us happy, and sins are a list of things that make us sad. Choose the happy list! It´s that simple! 

Anyway, I honestly can´t believe it´s already been one month here. Looking back, I can see so much change. When I entered the MTC, all I felt confident saying in Spanish was "Hola," and "Chips and salsa baby!" Now I can communicate (mas o menos!) with people and learn about their families and missions and hobbies! It´s amazing! And on the plane, the members of my district were strangers and now we feel like family. So much has changed and I know it is blessing my life so much to be here. 

I had a really cool dream the other night that I was speaking Spanish and teaching a family. If I end up meeting them in real life I might freak out, because....revelation! But if anything, it gave me comfort knowing that it really is possible for me to teach and share my testimony. I´m so excited to get out into the field!! It´s crunch time, and I want to
work hard so I can be worthy of the spirit. 

Scriptures that helped me this week were 2 Nephi 2 and 4! I never really liked reading 2 Nephi before, because Isaiah was in there and that stuff is intimidating! But there is seriously so much powerful doctrine and eloquent verses. I led a Book of Mormon discussion on Chapter 2 and I´m excited to keep studying it!
I love you all mucho! Have a wonderful week!
Hermana Schwartz
 Pictures! Okay, I got a bunch this week!

My nametag

My chiquita amiga Hermana Urbano!  I love this chica so much!

My tall friend, Hermana Duke

The amazing Hermana Klundt (My roommate's cousin!)

Weird Mexican snack!

Colorful Mexico!

The temple is huge and beautiful!

Angel Moroni

Me, Hermana Cook, Hermana Kreutz (from BYU) and Hermana Salazar

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Vestido

Hola everyone!!

Okay, what a week! We are finishing our third week, and are kinda feeling like the equivalent of CCM high school juniors! To be completely honest, this week was rough on our district. We had an Elder go home for health reasons, a few people had family members pass away, two of our Hermanas got violently ill with intestine infections, (Let me just say that the doctors here don´t really tell you anything and solve any problem by giving you a shot in your bum!) and my compañera tore a ligament in her pinky. (Just to top it all off!) I was fine all week, but emotionally it was pretty rough to try and imagine why everyone was struggling so much. 

My comp and I spent so much time in the Enfermeria that the receptionist literally knows our names, and says "Hola amigas!" It´s kind of hilarious. She is my bestie now. 

We´ve gotten a lot of support from the other districts, many priesthood blessings, and sweet words of encouragement from our awesome teachers. Emotionally, it kind of feels like we got hit by a bus, but I know that we have grown so much closer together as a district and learned so much. Everyone struggles on missions. It´s just a fact. And it´s my firm testimony that every thing happens for a reason. Our struggles make us stronger and bring us closer to Christ. 

If I may, I´d like to quote myself. I told my district that "Mission life brings the highest highs and the lowest lows. The lows make you humble, and the highs make you grateful." --Hermana Schwartz (haha)

This is the best way to describe this week! I really feel so humbled and grateful. I have felt so much joy this week. I know that I am becoming more patient, and that the experiences I´m having here are preparing me for the field. If you ever feel tempted to ask "Why me?" just trust God. Because he has a reason, even if you can't see it yet. 

One super cool experience was teaching my friend Hermana Kragen, who was pretending to be an investigator. I shared a scripture and she literally started tearing up a bit because she could feel the spirit and I had exactly answered the question she had in mind, even though she didn´t voice that concern out loud. The gift of discernment and the gift of tongues are real. It kind of blew my mind and made me so excited to teach real people!

I am no longer the only missionary going to Cancún anymore! Some Latinos arrived who will be going on the plane with me. I have an unnatural amount of excitement that they are here. I just know that Cancún is gonna be the GREATEST PLACE EVER to share the gospel! So pumped!!

Today we went to the Mexican Consulate so we can get our Greencards/offical papers and such. It was an hour and a half bus ride there and back through this crazy city! They got our fingerprints and paperwork all taken care of, and we should be all set to go when the time comes! I couldn´t really tell, because duh, it was all in Spanish, but I´m pretty sure I´ll be a citizen or at least be able to live in Mexico for my time here. One funny thing is that this guy started blowing kisses at us and professing his love while we were on the bus...awkward! Oh! And Spanish doesn´t have a direct translation for the word "awkward!" How am I supposed to explain my entire life??? Oh well, I´ll find a way. 

Mexico City is huge and smells like an odd mix of taco trucks and sewer, but I love people watching and seeing everyone go about their lives. Whenever a Latino comments on how tall I am and how short he/she is, I just say, "Somos todos hijos de Dios!" Tall or short, we're all children of God. 

Oh, to explain my subject line: we have a dress here that LITERALLY fits every girl in our district! We went through everyone this week, and it has officially been dubbed the Sisterhood of the Travelling Vestido (dress)! It´s CCM viral. We´ll be wearing it, and someone we don´t even know will be like, "Heyyy is that the travelling Vestido??" and then we´re like, "You know it!!" It´s pretty great. 

In short, I love being here! Even though our entire district practically died this week, I wouldn´t trade this experience for anything. We laugh hard, work hard, and sometimes cry hard. (Gotta keep it real!) But it´s strengthening my testimony so much. If you ever feel like you´re not doing as great, or your testimony isn´t as strong, always go back to sincere prayer and scripture study. These aren´t just primary answers that everyone repeats for kicks and giggles. They are the proven way to grow closer to God and find peace. D&C 31 is a great chapter about missionary work that really helped me this week! 

Have a wonderful week! You´re all amazing!
Hasta luego,
Hermana Schwartz
Okay, we´ve got our P-day picnic from last week, my scriptures and cool new hymnbook cover, my fingers which will probs still be purple after my mission (thanks to the Consulate fingerprinting ink) Poor Hna Salazar´s injured pinky, the CCM President´s camera which I am not allowed to use, me next to a random hole, Hermana Vave and Elder Eldridge (friends from another district), and yours truly!  

P-day picnic

My scriptures and cool new hymnbook cover

My purple fingers after Consulate fingerprinting

Poor Hermana Salazar's injured pinky

The CCM president's camera which I am not allowed to use

Me next to a random hole

Hermana Vave and Elder Eldridge (friends from another district)

Hermana Schwartz

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Yo Soy Hermana Schwartzenegger


Buenos tardes everyone! Wow, what a week! 

Everyday here has ups and downs, but luckily a lot more ups than downs. I know that this is where I´m supposed to be! I don´t have my journal with me so hopefully I can remember all of the crazy missionary adventures that occurred this past semana (week)!

First of all--apparantly all of the Latinos are in love with me. This one guy talked to me and I thought he wanted me to take a photo of him and his companion, but then it turns out he just wanted my email. Sooo that was interesting. But then at lunch one day some hermanas were talking about a latino Elder we call ¨Tanqo Pequeno" (little tank) because he is super macho and buff but SUPER short who has a crush on a "tall, beautiful american hermana." I thought, it´s gotta be Hermana Duke because she is 6 feet tall and incredibly gorgeous. But THEN they said, "He calls her Hermana Schwartzenegger because he doesn´t know how to say her name!" I just blushed and died laughing! It makes me muy uncomfy, haha. So we always joke about El Tanque Pequeno and Hermana Schwartzenegger. Poor guy. I always just say "SOY UN MISIONERA. NO TENGO UN NOVIO!" Gotta stay focused, I can´t be distracted by 4'5 Elders.  

We spent a lot of time in the Enfermeria this week because my comp kept having health issues for various reasons. I´m practically besties with the doctors by now, and got to speak a lot of Spanish with them. Spanish is super fun and we have all these random inside jokes as a district in Español. We always say, "Bien Hecho!" to everything, and sing the Dora song with a weird accent everytime we go to a new activity. "Come on vamanos! Err´body lesgo!" 

I made some pretty hilarious language mistakes this week. So, Hermana Kragen accidently kicked my ankle REALLY hard while we were playing soccer. I was okay, and it was hilarious because she is tiny but mighty. Don´t mess with her, haha! Anyway, I was trying to tell the Latina hermanas I´m friends with that she kicked my ankle, "tubillo" and I accidently said "tiburon" which means SHARK. It. was. so. funny. They were laughing so hard and joking that we played soccer with a shark. I will never forget the right word for ankle again!  I also accidently said I was FROM cancún, not GOING to cancún, This language is the bomb, haha. The cutest word I've learned is that Sunbeams (like the youngest class in primary) are called "Rayitas de Sol." Isn´t that precious?? You can add -ito to any word to make it sound cute. The shortest elder in our district has started calling himself "Elder Bedell-ito" as a joke. 

The comedor served hamburgers the other day and all of us Americans had a mini fiesta when we saw them. They also served flan one night, which I loved! We got our hands dirty and washed dishes on Tuesday for our service project. Everyone needed to wear a little mask and a hairnet to keep things sanitary, and Hermana Addington and Hermana Salazar kept their masks on after we finished. We were near the edge of the wall and started waving at people in the city. It probably looked like we were in some place for crazy people, because they had these masks on, were behind a barbed wire wall, and we were just laughing and waving at everyone. 

Hands down the coolest experience of the week was the devotional with Presidente Bennett, the MTC president. He started his remarks by saying he was going to be bold, and then he just threw down about obedience, faith, and how he wants us to leave this MTC ready to do the Lords work. It was exactly what I needed to hear. A couple sentences he said were literally direct revelation for me. He and his wife are incredible examples and lead the MTC well. I can really feel their love for us. He gave my companion a blessing when she was having a really rough time and it was absolutely incredible to hear. A lot of girls were all in the room, and everyone said it helped them even though we didn´t personally receive the blessing. It was truly inspired, and we were all a crying mess afterward because we felt the spirit and so much love. 

Hermana Salazar and I taught the Relief Society lesson this week, and it was on Personal Revelation. So that topic was on my mind all week and I´m still really thinking about it. I know that if we ask God with a sincere heart, he WILL give us an answer. This week for me was all about going back to the basics and reinforcing my testimony. God hears our prayers and is waiting with outstretched arms to give us the help and support that we need. The scriptures, other people, the temple, and simple prayer are all resources to communicate with our loving Heavenly Father. 

This will probably make this email super long, but I really want to tell you all about the amazing Hermanas in my district. Skip this if you´re not interested. :)

Hermana Salazar: Mi compañera! Her grandpa is from Mexico so people ask her if she is Latina, but she is definitely, definitely American haha. She´s from California and is going to Mexico City South. She wears sparkly sandals around the apartment, has ten minute bursts of energy, and has such a sweet testimony. 

Hermana Kragun: This is the one that kicked me. She is really short but super feisty, and is seriously one of the smartest people I have ever met! She knows so much about the gospel and is picking up spanish faster than any of us. Hermana Kragun tells it like it is!

Hermana Duke: She is Hermana Kragun´s companion and there has never been a more ironic pairing. Hermana Duke is 6´0, blonde, and honestly looks like a beautiful surfer babe. She and Hna Kragun are both going to California Modesto. Hermana Duke is super shy and very humble, and she is so sweet. I love having a fellow tall girl in my District!

Hermana Addington: Hermana Addington is our morale booster. She is stinking hilarious and you never quite know what she is going to say. She´s also going to Mexico City South, and is from Utah. She will paint our nails or just tell jokes and I love her so much. 

Hermana Beatty: This girl is just fantastic. She and I get along super well and I think she is just the cutest. She likes soccer, One Direction, and laughs at all my jokes. She has a boyfriend waiting for her at home, so we all wait for his letters because they are literally relationship goals. She´s also going to Mexico City South. It´s a popular place, apparantly because most of our hermanas are going there. 

The Elders in our district are super great too! They are awesome. Our whole district got a lot closer this week. But the girls are especially my biggest support system here and I am so grateful for them. 

Anyway, I count my blessings everyday I´m here. The work is hard and our days are packed. Someone told us that the MTC is like a vacation compared to the field and all of our jaws dropped. They seriously pack our schedules sooo tight. But I know that the Lord would not assign me to labor or call me to do something that I can´t accomplish with his help.When it gets hard, I think of the Savior, and how He performed the greatest sacrifice of all. 18 months is "pan comido" compared to that. (A piece of cake!)  The gospel can literally change lives. Start with the basic, fundamental principles, and then ask God what he wants you to do. I know you can strengthen your testimony and feel His love!!

I love you all! Have a great week and look for God´s hand!
Mucho amor,
Hermana Schwartz

Pictures: (Sorry if you can´t view all of them! I'm not entirely sure how to fix that because Google Drive is blocked on mission computers!) :/
But yeah! I believe I included a bunch with the girls in my district, one of crazy Elder Uffens and Elder Stone in the comedor, one of Me and Hermana Kragun sitting on a weird statue, one of the beautiful CCM, one with our Sister Training Leaders Hermana Kurene and Hermana Huber, and one of my Cancún keychain I bought for my scripture bag. Sorry I´m so bad at labeling them, it´s hard because I can´t see them after I add them! Lo siento!