Monday, April 24, 2017

I Like to Look for Rainbows!

Hola Buenos Dias!!!

I need to keep it short this week because we are traveling to Cancun for a Generation Meeting! Our Pday got cut in half, yikes! But this week was good, I learned a lot. Especially about the beauty of repentance! 

This week we had our first real Yucatan rainstorms. It poured and we were caught in the downpour! In the pictures you can see my nametag is covered in raindrops. :) It was good fun, and my companion and I jumped in puddles and just embraced it. But then it rained...and rained...and rained...and no one was in the streets, and we didn´t have appointments, and life was hard. And then we visited this family that aren´t quite right in the head, and it was honestly pretty creepy. We said a prayer in their home, sang a hymn, and read the scriptures, but there just wasn´t a good spirit. We invited them to be baptized, they declined, and we left. And when we walked out of the house into the street, there was the most beautiful rainbow! Everything was clean, fresh, and beautiful. The sun was shining and we could finally feel the spirit again!!

I felt the same way after I took the Sacrament this week. Before church I was discouraged, impatient with myself and my companion, and didn´t know what to do. But after the sacrament, I felt like it was a new start. Next week I´m going to work hard to preach without fear, improve my Spanish, and help the people here!
I know that it is such a blessing to recommit ourselves to the gospel every week with the sacrament. 

I´m also excited because next week we have the baptism of our sweet investigator Amber!!! She´s so great. Jacinto is progressing as well, and we found a new family to teach! There are so many blessings. Even when it´s hard, I know that we have the light and hope of repentance, the ability to change, and the help of Christ in all our trials. 

Hna. Medrano and I talked this week about how blessed we are to serve in Cancun. How many people can say that?? It´s no vacation, but we are learning every day and I absolutely love the people and the culture. 

I know I always talk about food, but this week I got to eat Panuchos again, and every time I eat panuchos is a cause for celebration. :)

I also gave a talk in Spanish!! The bishop gave us about 2 hours notice, I frantically scribbled my thoughts on missionary work, and I only made 1 mistake! Hna Medrano says I work better under pressure, haha! 

I´m so grateful for this church. I know that it is true, that it blesses lives, and that God truly does answer our prayers. Missionary work is for everyone, and if you have anyone that you feel like you should talk to or invite to an activity, just do it! In Spanish the Nike slogan is "Solo Hazlo!" Nothing bad can come from opening your mouth to share. 

Have a wonderful week! Much love and many prayers!
Hermana Schwartz

Monday, April 17, 2017

Iguana Investigator

Hola todos! Buenas tardes from Yucatan!

This week was exciting as usual, nothing is boring in the mission! I officially have 2 months in the mission, and I can´t even believe where the time has gone! 

I probs offended a bunch of people this week, as I am slowly learning what´s polite and what´s not in mexico. There was a funeral procession and I happily gave my best missionary wave, promising hope and eternal salvation with my smile, and my compañera whacked my arm and chewed me out for not respecting the dead. Whoops. And of course there are tons of language mistakes. I now know 2 new swear words in Spanish, from experience, haha. One super fun thing is that we´ve been teaching mini classes in English. It´s super fun to teach people slang like, "No way," or "what´s up" and hear them use it with their thick accents. One little boy kept asking over and over and over "como se dice....?" and pointing to random objects. Uhhhh....dirty sock? Too funny. We´ve also been having little games to build up our courage to talk with people. This week we had a contest that whoever could tell more people that we were Mormon Missionaries, the loser had to buy the other a pizza for dinner. Desafortunada mente, I was the loser. And of course, because we´re in Mexico, the pizza had salsa and chile. EVERYTHING is eaten with chile here. It´s kinda ridiculous but also super rico. 

This week we focused on finding the Lord´s Escogidos, or people who are prepared to hear our message. The hard part is that every time we find someone who want´s to learn more, they live in the other areas. Whyyy?? But we´ve had some really good conversations in the streets and it's good practice for me. 

One funny experience is that we were teaching a lesson to this 12 year old girl, Jaqui, and she was very distracted because she had caught an iguana. This family has 5 dogs, a bird, a rabbit, a turtle, and now an iguana. She had it in a Coca cola bottle and it was very distracting. We named him Iggy Iguana. There are lots of iguanas here, the one she caught is one of the smallest. They can be huge!! And they live in the sewers. It´s actually pretty creepy, it´s like there are dinosaurs roaming the streets. 

I had a miracle with my watch! I lost my watch and went a whole day without it. My watch tan faded a little bit and my wrist felt very bare. But the next day, I said a prayer and within seconds I knew that it had fallen into my bag! I know that if the Lord can help me find my lost watch, how much more can he help us find a lost soul? He truly knows everything and is waiting to help us, we just need to ask. Very sweet moment was singing " I know that My Redeemer Lives" with this blind, deaf, 95 year old man. He can´t hear, but he knew the words and sang along with us. I almost cried. We didn´t have any big Easter activities or festivities here, but we had quiet moments of comfort and peace that I know are the direct result of the Atonement. I know that Christ lives, that he understands us perfectly, and that his arms are outstretched to help us.

Anyway, we´re working hard! I´m having fun and learning from my mistakes everyday. I´m a little concerned that I won´t be able to return to the USA, because everyone is making comments about Trump and "su presidente es loco..." but if not I feel like maybe I could have a home in Mexico! First I need to learn how to speak Spanish...but I´m working on that! It´s beautiful here and next week I think we´re going to visit some ruins, Ek Balam, for PDay! We´re also learning a lot of Maya from our investigator Jacinto! 

Good times. If you want to read some beautiful scriptures about missionary work, Mosiah 27:35 and 28:7 comforted me this week!

I love you all! Adios por ahora!
Hermana Schwartz

The wonders of carne asada, making homemade tortillas, beautiful Tizimin, me in my hammock, iguana in a bottle. :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

8 Weeks Down, 70 To Go!

Kelsey's mom here.  This week we got a couple of short emails answering questions briefly and reassuring us that all is well.  She mentioned that the food is delicious, though some is weird, then said, "more about that later".  Well, no more email came, so I assume she ran out of time or something went wrong with sending the big group email.  Here is a short blip from the personal email to our family, just to show some of her experiences in Tizimin:

"My companion takes very good care of me. It´s hard because Mexicans cook and clean differently than Americans, so when I don´t (for example) clean the shower with the broom or mix up the horchata with my hands, people look at me like I don´t know what I¨m doing (mostly because I don´t, haha!) But my companion is very patient and is slowly teaching me how to have good Spanish and how to survive here. :)"

Hopefully more next week!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Story of a Gringa in Tizimín

Hola!!! I am official in the field, and man is it hot! My first area is Tizimín, a small city in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, and my trainer is the amazing Hermana Medrano! She´s from Monterrey, Mexico, and has truly been so patient with my Spanish. She´s super nice, is an incredible teacher, and knows enough English that we can usually communicate.
Okay, I have SO much to say about this week and so little time! It all started last Monday with a three hour plane ride to Cancun. I talked with a man from Chicago and in Spanish and gave him a pass along card. Scariest experience of my life, but it really opened my eyes and showed me that this is the work I´m going to be doing! Gotta open my mouth and pray that Spanish comes out! After the plane ride, we had a wonderful welcome by the other missionaries and the President and his wife singing Called to Serve at the top of their lungs. It made me so happy! Then we got our trainers, some information, and took two very long bus rides and a taxi to Tizimín. 

Our casa is owned by a member in the ward, Hermana Eva. It´s pretty nice! We each have a hammock, some tables, a stove, a washing machine (ish) and a clothesline. She has a cat and a dog, and they are quite adorable. So far we have killed one cucaracha and I killed a spider that turned out to be a black widow. So yeah, that was exciting. I still get heebie jeebies everytime I use the bathroom. But yeah, it´s all good! We don´t have hot water but honestly it´s so hot here, I prefer cold! It´s super refreshing. :) 

One of the most exciting experiences is that I left my hammock and my new backpack with all my Training Materials in THE TAXI the first night. Sounds just like me, right mom? Haha. Luckily, Hermana Eva had an extra hammock and my Hna Medrano let´s me use her books. 

Sleeping in a hammock is the FUNNEST THING EVER. I´m never going back to a bed. I feel like I´m on some kind of safari sleeping in the jungle. (Which is partly true!) I love it. The secret is to lie diagonally so you have more space. 

Speaking Spanish here is totallllyyy different than the CCM. I thought I knew a lot in the CCM, and I am being humbled hardcore! The people here speak muy rapido, and they have this crazy accent that´s got a little bit of Mayan influence. I can understand usually about 50% of what they´re saying, sometimes a lot more if they don´t talk as fast. And the hardest part is that the CCM really only teaches you gospel Spanish. My companion is truly so patient with me because I don´t know the words for normal, everyday things like broom or mop or wallet. But ask me about the Expiacion any day! Haha. 

It´s very exciting here and there are tons of animals everywhere. Perros, gatos, horses, a few iguanas, tons of chickens, turkeys, and the occasional rabbit. (No coatis, though.) For every meal we have, we either drink Horchata or Jamaica (which is this purple juice made from flowers, quite tasty!) And sometimes this barley drink that tastes like cookie water. I ate my first habañero pepper, my first authentic Mexican tamale, AND my first mango. The mangos here are like heaven on earth! Way better than any in the states. 

I also ate some onions, but I was freaked out while eating them because my companion told me they were cebollos and I thought she said cerebro (brain!) I was terrified that I was eating brains, but it was just onions. Whew! I´ve had a whole bunch of language mixups like that. Good times. 

This mission stuff is so exhausting and would be super discouraging, but it´s super amazing. The coolest feeling is teaching people!!! I usually just sit there and mimic facial expressions and say "si," but I can usually contribute something to the lessons. We have a few investigators here and they are so awesome! The biggest problems we run into is that most people aren´t married and need to be before they are baptized, or they are super catholic and don´t feel the need for the restored gospel. If anyone has any thoughts on why the gospel is important in your life or advice on how to teach Catholics, PLEASE TELL ME! We need to take different approaches to show them the blessings of being baptized! 

A lot of the people in this area speak Maya, and I´m learning a few words! Balam is Jaguar, and there´s a family whose last name is Balam. Isn´t that sweet?! All of the houses are a little broken down, with chipped paint and lots of stuff in the yard. They´re very humble people that always will let you in to talk. The area is mostly small houses, with a downtown area in the middle and some long stretches with just trees. 

Anyway, I´m so grateful to be here. We´ve already seen miracles. My companion is new in the area too, so it´s kinda hard because we basically know nothing about who lives where, and people are realllly bad at giving directions here. They´ll say, "oh, it´s four blocks down, all the way to the right, take a left, and it´s the white casa." And we´re just like....okay, thanks? And not all of the streets have numbers! So we´re just slowly learning together how to conquer this area! They haven´t had new converts here for a long time. But I know that I was put here, with Hermana Medrano, because we can make a difference! We´re just trying to rely on the Lord and have faith that he will lead us to people who are prepared. 

One time, it was super hot and we were out of agua. We looked up and jokingly pleaded for rain so we could fill our water bottles. And guess what?? It started to rain, and that is NOT normal for Tizimin this time of year! Miracles do happen, prayers are answered, and the Lord wants to be part of your life. 

I loved conference, especially the talks on missionary work! Definitely going to be using Joaquin Costas talk on listening to the missionaries! 

I don´t have much more time, but I love you all so much! I¨m so grateful to be here in this crazy area and will tell you more about it next week! Oh, PS I am most definitely the only white girl in the entire city. It rocks because everyone looks at me and I get to say "Hola!" 

Have a great week! Read your scriptures every night, because I promise it makes all the difference in the world!

Hasta Luego,
Hermana Schwartz

I´m really scared because the computer didn´t let me see which photos I´m sending...hopefully these are good ones! And it´s super slow, so I´m sorry there are only two. Next week I´ll choose in advance!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Travel to Cancun

The following was a quick email Hermana Schwartz was able to send after she flew from Mexico City to Cancun.   We were so disappointed to not get the expected phone call, but were so grateful she made it safely to her mission!

Okay, I am SOO sorry that I wasn´t able to call! The payphones were super old and terrible and impossible to use. Only one girl was able to get it to work! I´m really sorry but I´m here now and it is INCREDIBLE! I talked to a man in Spanish on the plane and told him about eternal families, and then we landed and were greeted by our mission president and a giant sign! There´s an awesome group of hermanas that I got to fly with and everything went smoothly. I had to pay for a couple people´s luggage because their debit cards didn´t work, but I´m pretty sure I´ll be reimbursed. I really hope I didn´t overdraft....pesos are weird. Anyway, the missionaries here are so nice and I´m about to be assigned my trainer! We got welcomed by a giant group of missionaries singing Called to Serve in spanish, some kind of weird Sopas? they were like yummy tortillas with beans, cheese, lettuce, and salsa. And I´m going to sleep in a hammock tonight and I absolutely LOVE it here already! It´s so humid and amazing, and the CCM was such good preparation but I know I´m supposed to be here. I love you guys so much and I think I will email you next monday! Thanks for being up so early! Don´t worry one bit about me because I am in good hands! I love you all so much!!!
Adios con amor, 
Hermana Schwartz