Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas week

This week I thought I would maybe talk about the demands of missionary life that really came out this week for me:

Spiritual: Well, something that comes to mind with a spiritual demand is church. This week in church (fifth week) was "Missionary Work" So this missionaries are in charge of all of the classes, talks, prayers, all. Luckily we have 8 in this ward and I got away with saying one prayer in sacrament meeting. Not quite sure how that worked. But lets just say our members know what missionary work is. The worst part was when the bishop was throwing us the "cut him off" sign to one of the Elders that was talking and the whole congregation saw it! 

Social:Closest thing to social we got to this week was exchanges!! They were awesome though!

Physical: One of the fun experiences that misisonaries face is being locked out of their apartment and having to break in.. Christmas eve, our keys were in the church (25 minutes away from where we were) and Hermana Acosta wasn't feeling well and we needed to go home. Well our neighbors let us use their balcony and lets just say that was the closest thing to rock climbing i've done in about a year and it was awesome!! Made it safe and sound!  

Nutritional: Talk about good food! Hispanics know how to cook for the holidays and us, as missionaries, we sure know how to eat good food!! 
 
Christmas-al: Christmas was incredible! We had an incredible morning opening presents, fun white elephant/breakfast zone activity, and then the night with a few members and talking to our families. Which was the best gift we could have received! (Sister Acosta was able to talk to her mom and her mom said that she is moving in with some members and wanted to go to church this sunday with them!! YES!!) 
 
Espanol: Yup, I still live in latino-ville so we are doing good on that part! 

Well somewhat of a short email this week but sometimes it's just interesting to see a few of the surprises we get thrown.. Nothing like the holidays as a missionary and we are excited for the New Year!! 

Onward and Upward

Hermana Schwendiman 

Christmas morning 
White elephant party zone activity on Christmas day
great missionary Christmas day


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

our week...

So since Hermana Acosta is a new missionary, she is generally pretty tired when we get home and is passed out before I finish writing in my journal.. I have found myself, for the past couple nights, sitting in front of our little made up Christmas tree, thinking to myself, "Yup... I wanna open em" Which I couldn't do because I have told Hermana Acosta that we had to wait to open our presents till Christmas day. We have to wait till Christmas day to open our own presents... not each others!! So I convinced myself that I could open a couple of Hermana Acostas presents without her knowing and it would satisfy my little desire to open presents!! It was successful.. So I can tell you for a fact that she is going to love it all! There were a few so perfectly and beautifully wrapped that I didn't dare touch them but the rest.. hahaha that's some good stuff! 

We had a bit of a crazy week.. 
MONDAY:
-P-day
-found an investigator family 
TUESDAY:
-New York trip that took a LONG time.. because of miscommunication. We went as a zone.. thats 25 people to keep together. So much fun and I absolutely love the temple and New York! 
WEDNESDAY
-Specialized training for new missionaries in Morristown
-New York Traffic
-Train travels all night to pick up a car so that our zone could all get to the Jingle with the Jeppsons the next morning
THURSDAY:
-Jingle with the Jeppsons (so awesome! Our Zone did receive the "worste bell ringers award)
-District meeting
-New York traffic (I now fully understand why I am in a walking area) but we dropped the car back down south and found our way back to the U.C.
FRIDAY:
-All-Mission Conference in Morristown
     -Alex Boye (enough said)
SATURDAY:
-ward breakfast
-Baptismal interview (Marilyn)
-Ward party
SUNDAY:
--Baptism!!!!-- 
We have been working with Marilyn since I got here basically. She is 14 years old, from Mexico, and now the second member in her family. Her mom was baptized a few years ago and when we went to meet with her (because she was a less-active) she brought Marilyn. I assumed she was a member but at the end of the lesson, out of my mouth pops "you're a member right?" Well that's where it started. She was a little shy with us at first but about a month ago, picked her own baptismal date and has been progressing ever since! 
 I've never met a person this timid.. and it only has to do with pictures and big groups of people. Welcome to our baptismal service. Pictures took some time.. but we did get them! and then the moment she was going to get baptized.. Well lets go a few hours before and pass over the time when the elder asked me if I thought 80 degrees was warm enough for the font. "Yup.. should be fine" It was VERY cold. Especially for Latinos. Oops.. that combined with the group of people watching her turned into a bit of a problem. But luckily we have the best bishop in the world the just stayed in the font and while the group sang we ran the hot water and she got a pep talk from him! She was super nervous she was going to do it wrong.. The bishop was pretty aware and he knew it would destroy her is she had to do it twice so after the prayer he shoved her in the water and then one more of Gods children entered into the straight and narrow! 

It really is the most wonderful time of the year!! 

Hermana Schwendiman 

I love NYC!
Christmas zone party
Me and Sis. Acosta… NY skyline
Marilyn at her baptism

Friday, December 20, 2013

hump day!



We (Hilary's parents) sent this to Hils as part of her hump day package and thought you might enjoy it. We bought the camel at Toys R Us and Build a Bear let us record ourselves and they even put it in and sewed it shut for us. Her hump day was December 20th... Woot woot... HUMP DAY!! She'll be home in no time!

Monday, December 16, 2013

short and brief

Well here's for a really short, brief letter.
One of my favorite things in life is to sit back and notice the Lord's hand.  To really open my eyes and realize how much He has done for me and for those around me.
An impression we received that we should call an old referral in the middle of the day, which led to possibly the only time that we could have gotten a hold of her to set up on appointment.
The man on the street that I felt inclined to give a pass-along card too, then the even stronger impression to turn around and chase him down the street to talk to him… then the powerful first lesson we had with him when he accepted the baptismal invite.
The many reasons why I have been called to train Hermana Acosta.  Especially during tis time of year, specifically in Union City where the members know how to love the missionaries (especially Hermana Acosta) as if we were their own.
The countless reasons I have been called to serve in the New Jersey Morristown Mission.  The simple fact that I am here on a mission.
We do not have any time to waste trying to follow our own paths and our own desires.  We know that the only way we will be okay is if we have the spirit with us.  When we are able to follow what the Lord wants us to do.  He knows what He is doing. 

With lots of Christmas love,
Hermanan Schwendiman 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

thank you!

Dear family and friends, 
Thank you. 
I know I shared last week a little bit about my companion and I can't believe the overwhelming love I feel from all of you through your love for my companion, Hermana Acosta. I am sitting at my computer now in tears because Hermana Acosta and I just opened her email together. She had more than I did! I don't think that I have understood the love that God has for us more than when I have been a trainer on my mission.. I am sure it is only comparable to what it is like having a child, and even less comparable for the love that God has for us. I am sure He is up there sometimes in tears when he sees when one of the needs of his children is taken care of by another one of his other children. It is one of the most tender feelings that I have been able to experience: watching people go out of their way to take care of someone I love so much!   
One of the first things Hermana Acosta told me was her story of why she decided to come on a mission, and then she told me, "Although I have nothing, I knew that God would help me because I was doing the right thing." A few days later at church I was thinking to myself, as one of the members I had talked to earlier on in the week walked up and handed Hermana Acosta a present (skirt, shirt, and scarf), that God did bless Hermana Acosta. He blessed her through a companion who couldn't keep her mouth shut! 
As the holiday season has started to explode over here in New Jersay, I have learned even more about what Christmas really is. That sounds really cliche to say, but the truth is, it has nothing to do with us and it has everything to do about us. We always hear about how Christmas is about the birth of our Savior. But I never understood before HOW important that day is. If we think that our birthdays are important... how bout the only perfect Son of God? I'd say that's something worth celebrating! And how does he want us to celebrate? By honoring him, remembering him, and showing our gratitude for everything that he has given us. I have been blessed with a family who taught me that giving was more than receiving, feeling loved is the biggest present you could offer somebody, and a companion who has given me the opportunity to realize even more what Christmas is really all about. This is going to be a Christmas that I will never forget!!
And with Christmas, comes snow!! We had our first real snow fall this week. Boring ol' Hermana Schwendiman grew up with snow and so it wasn't anything new, but I had forgotten how beautiful it really was. I was reminded because Hermana Acosta had never seen snow fall before.. and I just sat in awe when she sat in front of the window staring at it and talking a hundred miles an hour in Spanish. How often do we do that? Get numb to the beautiful things because they are normal to us.. 
Like the beautiful opportunity that we have to have ever person in our teaching pool be a 12-14 year old girl? ha ha This has been one of the highlights of my mission. It all started with our less active (Ariana), who then befriended our now recent convert(Diana), who invited her friend from school to church on day and now loves church(Alexis), who befriended our super timid baptismal date(Marilyn). There is a purpose for everything that we do. We just sometimes don't see it while it's happening! Well needless to say, we basically live in the Young Womens program. We take the girls every week to mutual and we taught Young Womans on Sunday, I know ALL about the new hunger games movie that just came out, and a Thor movie.. you know, the teenage girl things! Yes, It's weird.... I'm weird. 
Oh speaking of, we (us and the girls) were on the way to the Christmas devotional this Sunday, after the first snow fall, and I took the first plop of the year. It was well deserved because I knew my companion loved the snow so much I decided to give her some, just at a really high velocity in the form of a ball.. and I turned to run into the church and did a "slide into home base" type of thing. Really graceful and super missionary-like.. But the girls got a kick out of it. 
Well everything is well over here. There is nothing quite like Christmas on the mission!! I love it!!

Well onward and upward!

Hermana Schwendiman 

Diana, Alexis, Ariana, me, and Marilyn 
First snow of the season!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

humility

The Lord will always find a way to humble us. In my case, he sent my "humility" wrapped up in a cute little 5 foot Mexican girl...Hermana Acosta.
Well I meant for this email to be a little bit longer but really I am so lucky to have Hermana Acosta as my companion. She converted to the church 3 years ago. Is the only member of her family. Doesn't have a dad. Her mom kicked her out of the house three weeks before her mission because she didn't agree with it. She came on a mission because she knew it was the right thing that she needed to do. Talk about having faith! She is the most humble person I have ever met. 
Well that's my email this week..  Onward and upward

As a side note, if this whole mission thing doesn't work out for me, I always have plan B! Eliot.. ha ha ha ha well let me explain un poco. Eliot met us on the street this week (Hermana Acostas 2 day) and well long story short.. asked me to marry him. It was just a normal street contact, that turned completely opposite as to what I intended. Told me that he wanted a ring just like his (one that all of the rappers wear, big diamond ones) on my hand. And he would even buy me roses... WoooWEEEEE! ha ha how lucky am I! My companion was just laughing..... oh what do you do? 
Oh yes and our missionary turkey bowl!!!! (Yes dad, your little boy did play! You'd be so proud) 


My new trainee Sister Acosta and me
Us at our (hilarious) Thanksgiving dinner at the bishops house

Monday, November 25, 2013

bigger picture

This week I can say that I have seen, more than ever, the hand of the Lord in my mission. 
It all kind of started Thursday morning. And Thursday morning started on my knees. And that prayer started because of a thought. I had been thinking about the last week of training that we were in. Just wrapping it up and I was able to think back on the past twelve weeks (It felt like two weeks maybe). 

I really felt the need to have a conversation with my Father in heaven and talk a few things over. Asking him forgiveness for my faults as a trainer, my weaknesses that kept her from growing even more than she has. Then I asked him to bless her. To be able to learn the things that I wasn't able to teach her. And then I asked Him if I had done enough. I was blessed this transfer with the gift of guilt. (It IS a gift, I promise) At this moment when I knelt down I did feel guilty. Feeling as if I hadn't done enough. But that's the power of prayer.. and phone calls... Yes phone calls. 
I ended my prayer, sat down and began to study for the morning when I received a phone call from President Jeppson. 
"Sister Schwendiman, I am pleased to be calling you today on behalf of the Lord, to extend to you the calling to train... AGAIN!" 
I felt like a blabbering fool. I was much less calm than the first trainers call I received, I was in shock! My companion just laughed at me and told me after that it sounded like I was saying yes to a marriage proposal! 
"President I can't even, I don't even know what to say! I just, it's just... YES!" 
Soooooo smoooth..... 
I just sat back after that and just started to cry. My doubts about my training were just swept away. He saw the work I did with Sister Schaefer and trusted me to do it again. Either that or I didn't learn my lesson! Ha ha

 And I am staying here in the U.C! Three more months baby!!  It's fine because going to a new place means that people would have to learn to say my last name again.. and that is just too hard for some people. I am now know here as Hermana Sandwich.. SO proud!

Later that day we went to the temple with Diego. It was SO chaotic getting there and we didn't know if we were going to make it, but the moment when Diego entered to water, it made everything good again. The best part is that when the man said the baptismal prayer for his grandpa and he opened his eyes right after they said his grandfathers name, looked up at us, and his face just lit up with this huge smile! 

Then... it was all kind of a mess after that. He wouldn't plug his nose and he was about twice the size of the man baptizing him. It looked more like he was trying to drown him at first.. and then Diego would come springing out of the water like he had been holding his breath for a couple minutes.. 
But on plus side.. he didn't drown and he made it to church on Sunday and blessed the sacrament for the first time!

Well that's about all I have for this week. Lots of changes coming up. Nevertheless, onward and upward!

Hermana Schwendiman

Serrano and Hector… ja ja
Sis. Schaffer (my trainee), me, and my trainer, Sis. Millward
At the temple with Diego 

Monday, November 18, 2013

baptisms and temples

I have realized, the longer I spend on my mission, the importance of the temple. We were sitting with Diego in the family history center this week and as we found his grandpa, printed the paper, and told him that next week he was going to be baptized for his grandpa, tears filled his eyes. His grandpa was one of his best friends and he past away a couple years ago. He has told us endless stories of his grandpa and how much it changed his life when he passed away.. and now he is going to be baptized for him!
Sometimes I feel a little guilty when my own selfish desire is what is pushing me to go to the temple.. I miss it! Sometimes my own desire to go seems to take control of the importance of getting members to the temple. I am glad, though, that in this mission, we have the rule that we are able to go to the temple with our recent converts if it is within six weeks of their baptism and if they have a name. They understand that we, as missionaries, really want to go! And in return we get to have an experience of a lifetime and be able to provide an even bigger one for our recent converts. And then we have an experience like this one with Diego. It throws me right back into perspective. 
There is a simple formula that we have learned about conversion. 

conversion=temple

Diana's number one spark about the church was the temple. With the ward temple trip coming up and her (as an 11 yr old girl) seeing a picture of the temple, she wanted to go! Two weeks ago was her first day at church, and she told us she wanted to go to the temple. Well, we had to inform her that she needed to be baptized first, and then she quickly replied if she could get baptized in the next week so that she could go to the temple. Unfortunately, we can't. But what we can do IS... you can get baptized and then we can again. And then you can go WHENEVER you want for the rest of your life. 
Two weeks full of teaching and she was baptized. The temple is the place. There's a reason we are so attracted to it. Not just because it looks like a beautiful castle but because it is the house of God. 

The temple is the place.
Temple=Conversion.
Conversion=Onward and Upward. 

Hermana Schwendiman 

Diego with his grandfather's name for the temple!
Happy Diego
Diana before her baptism


Monday, November 11, 2013

winter is coming...

Winter is around the corner. We've started to get out our tights and beanies! I'm not going to lie.. I'm really excited for winter on the east coast.. Bring on the cold!! 
This week has been awesome though.. I feel like the craziest things that happen during the week happen from saturday to sunday morning.
One of my favorite things to do is (after we have made our rounds picking everybody up for church) is to watch our investigators and recent converts walk into the chapel. Yesterday was fun. We went and picked up Diana and her brother Gabriel and then swung by to pick up a less active Ariana. They are 11, 12, and 13 and Diana and Ariana have become best friends!! It's really fun to be teaching them because I forgot a little bit about what it was like to be that age. What matters. Whats fun. What make sense and what doesn't. So we walked with them to church, got up to the building and Nestor walked up at the same time. The miracle that we met last week on our way to go pick up the kids. We all walked in the church together and they and Sister all went and sat down together. Then in walks Carlos (investigator), and Veronica (recent convert), Olivia (less active) with her non member daughter that we have been working with, Marylin. Diego walked in, first week with his white shirt and tie, all ready to receive the priesthood that day! I looked up and Eddy (less active) waved to me from the front right bench, ready to pass the sacrament instead of playing in his soccer game that day. Jairo (investigator) and the sisters we are working with Andrea and Angela came! 
It's an overwhelming feeling. Last week in Sunday school the teacher asked me what the biggest blessing about serving a mission was.. my response was that we were able to see people change their lives. There is no other experience than watching somebody completely change the path their life is on. 
The best comment I heard yesterday came from Diego. He went to go give Emily a hug (his last one before she was getting set apart to be a missionary) and he started to joke around with me about if he served a mission in Madagascar. We were laughing about that and how crazy the mission would be and then I told him it was actually a real misison. I knew two people that served there, and then one of the members asked him if he was preparing to serve a mission and he just got his little smile on his face and said, yea I think so!! 
Every time he talks about going on a mission I just can't contain my excitement. Every time Diana talks about how excited she is for her baptism I just can't believe what a little miracle she is. These people change and teach me more than they know!!
Well it's onward and upward from here!
Hermana Schwendiman 

Baptism of the Elders.  Our little gang of young single adults. 4 of the 5 have been baptized in the past year.  It's all about the friends we have!
We were at Veronica's and all of a sudden Gabriel was GONE!!  This is where we found him. 
After one of our lessons with Diana (left) and Ariana (right).  We have so much fun with them!!  and we're all photogenic… ha ha

Monday, November 4, 2013

liberty island church news article

Hilary and her companion are in an article in the Church News about sister missionaries volunteering on Liberty Island!! I'm one proud missionary mama:)

Booth on Liberty Island benefits from sister missionaries

it works

So transfers are 2 days before thankgiving.. ha ha the 26th.. Ah I can't tell you how much I love this mission. Sorry I didn't have time to write a weekly letter.. we have lots to do still!! But I do love it here! Wouldn't trade this for anything!! We have a couple new miracle investigators who already have dates. Diana an 11 year old and Nestor.. old man from peru! Diana is getting baptized on the 17 turns 12 on the 19 and then she really wants to go to the temple as soon as she can. Her super less active mom of like 35 years of inactivity now wants to go to the temple with her too and her brother is meeting with us now and the dad told her that I look like a doll... ha ha so we are making progress. And we met Nestor because we were running down the street and I yelled at him that church started in a half hour and he should be there. HE CAME! and then he came to the elders baptism last night and turned to me after and told me that we could come over and teach him WHENEVER we wanted. He's coming to an activity on tuesday too! We are SO blessed. I fasted this week to find the elect and the ready. And that all happened during my fast. 

It works!!  Onward and Upward

HIl 

Monday, October 28, 2013

this week...

Well yes we have had a little bit of an abnormal week. Aren't they all? We have started out every morning wearing our "workout clothes" It all starts with the tradition that we have here in zone 2.. that if you baptize, you get a pair of workout clothes.. and are supposed to work out in them every morning and NEVER WASH THEM! The upside is that there are two separate sets for the Elders and Sisters.. So the shirt that I am wearing is the top, and we have added some beautiful drawings onto the pocket! Love the traditions.. 
The month of October in our mission we have had the focus of faith. It has been really interesting to focus on faith and to realize where mine is at and how much more I need. Isn't that the truth about all things. The more we know, the more we know we know nothing. Did that make sense? Well that's how I feel about faith. The more I have studied it, the more I realize I need more. So how do I get it? In the scriptures we learn by example over and over that they do not receive blessings or a testimony until after the trial of their faith. Trials. Problems. Difficulties. We have to have them. They are essential. President Monson says that our faith is strengthened by challenges. I don't have enough faith. If I have done my math correctly it looks like I need challenges.... 
I think a lot of times is it easy to be going through a challenge and think, "why me?" or "this isn't fair!" How backwards is that? Shouldn't we be grateful that we are growing, that we are progressing? Isn't that why we are here? To progress? 
Challenges come. As I have reflected back on the challenges in my mission and even the challenges that I have had in my life, I have noticed that the one thing that would have helped every situation would have been to have more faith. To allow myself to be humble enough to be teachable. Isn't that the real challenge? To be humble and meek while increasing our faith? 
Faith. Just one word. Possible one of the hardest words in the gospel for me to define. But is the base of everything we do. The first step in the gospel. Faith. What is faith to you? How much faith do you have? Enough to pull you out on top of your challenge? Have you built enough faith to build a strong base that when your life starts to crumble around you, that you can stand still? 
I still may lack a lot of faith. I still may not know how to describe it. But I do know that if we have faith in Jesus Christ, that when the challenges come, He will pick us up, throw us over His shoulder, and carry us to higher ground. 
It's all about faith. 
Onward and Upward.

Hermana Schwendiman 

Eddy (12) and me



Monday, October 21, 2013

liberty island

Sorry I didn't get a weekly letter done this week... but Hermana Millward just got moved into our zone!!  We all got to go to liberty island this week with them!! 



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

life in the u.c.

Woa! It's warmer than a fat mans toots over here. I have no idea what's going on but it's so warm, and I can tell that everybody in the library has been too because just like that fat mans toot... it smells awful in here! But I've been told that it should change very quickly! Who's ready for winter in Jersey? Everybody gives us advice on what to wear and I hear something new everytime. I assume I am just going to be leaving the door every day looking like Ralphys little brother on A Christmas Story.. 
We just had a lovely experience walking to the library. I had a goal today to contact EVERYONE! Realistic.. no.. but motivating, yes! The first woman I saw, she walked right up to me... and I asked her if I could give her a picture of Christ.. Who doesn't want a picture of Christ? Well she LOVED it... almost as much as she did her alcohol that morning! I could smell it as we walked up.. she looked at me and started to rant and drunken spanish and reached up, threw her arm around my next and yanked me into her sloppy wet kiss on my cheek.. As I sprung out of this she started thanking God for.. well.. one of everything and then as we said our goodbye's she yelled at the top of her lungs "LINDAS" (which basically means cuties). I just laughed and wiped the juicy spit right off my face.
We had an incredible week though. I guess I haven't been super informative on my emails because DIEGO WAS BAPTIZED! From Saturday night to Sunday day we were stressing a little. Saturday we had a wedding (they were baptized the next day with Diego) and it was a PARTY! If there is something Latino's know how to do, it PARTY! and that is just what we did... (Mormon style) One of the most odd experiences being a missionary.. but it was a blast. Diego walked in just as we were about to go get the Bride to walk down the isle.. and asked us if we could talk. Nobody ever wants to hear those words in any situation... But we took him over to the corner of the church and he told us that he had doubts. Not about the church, about himself. One of the most beautiful things I've every experienced has been Diego's conversion. Four weeks ago he had no idea what a mormon was! But as we invited him to kneel down and to pray to his Father in heaven for forgiveness of any sins that he felt he needed to, we just knelt there in silence. The spirit that filled the room was thick! Tears were shed and after he ended he stood up and said that he had goose bumps and that it was like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.. So we scheduled an appointment for the next morning.. 830 Sunday we go over and sit on his porch, the same place we met him a few weeks ago, and shared a message on quite a few things. What better time than the morning of his baptism right? It's like cramming for a test.. during the lesson we asked him what he understood about tithing.. and in his words he said, "Well it's just giving back a little bit of what God gave us!" He did play a trick on us and tell us he wasn't going to keep the sabbath day holy.. only to wait for us to react and then he just laughed. He's 20 and he has SO much faith!! Baptism went really well. Three of us sang "When I am baptized" the rainbow song in spanish to guitar and then 4 people were baptized into this ward! 
The most amazing feeling I had was after the baptizing when Diego had his arm around 12 year old Eddy (They are basically brothers becuase they don't have any other family in the ward) and Diego turned to him and said, "You can go on a mission when you're 18 right? So I guess if I wait a few years we can go together!" And then he turned to me and said, I can go in a year right? Ah Diego is going to go on a mission. I had the thought the moment we walked away from our first lesson with him! I love missionary work!! 

I love you all! Onward and Upward!

Hermana Schwendiman 

Us learning how to fold fancy napkins for the wedding
All of the baptizee's and their baptizers...
Us and Diego at his baptism

Monday, October 7, 2013

99 cent dreams


I hear its starting to snow in Utah! Winter is on it's way, that's for sure. It doesn't quite feel that way here in Union City, New Jersay. We were walking down the street, past one of our favorite stores, 99 cent dreams (not quite because of the merchandise, more because the name is awesome!!) and wondering if it was fall, or summer still. I feel like I am in another country here, everybody speaks spanish, the stores are in spanish, the music blaring from the houses is in spanish, the people look at us and reject us in spanish, they call at us... thinking we don't speak spanish, the food is hispanic.. If I didn't know any better.. I would think I was in the middle of South America. One thing that wasn't in spanish.. Other than the technical errors we had, was conference! Conference as a missionary is like recess for an elementary school student!!  I felt like the nerdy kid on the first day of school. It really IS different as a missionary and I couldn't drink it in fast enough! 
 I seemed to be engulfed in the talks about the importance of an eternal marriage and raising a family in the church. Something that I have grown an even stronger testimony on in my mission. Well that about pulled my mind into another world as we were walking to our appointment in between the sessions. A lovely street contact that we met and we walked into the house and it was like a family party!! Nine of them in total and I remember a thought I had earlier this week as I reflected on how I hadn't taught a large family lesson in my mission yet and that's something I would want to experience. Irony? I don't think so. The contacts daughter( she was a mother and had her three kids there) asked us if we could teach their nine year old triplets about God... I'm pretty sure that is actually something we CAN do!  What I quickly realized was that:
 1.God is our loving Heavenly Father.
 2.The Gospel blesses families. Families bless us in the gospel. 
 The extra power and drive I had for my own family, and future family that I had from conference, led to this lesson. The mother, with tears running down her face during the lesson, asked us if we could come back every sunday and teach their family. The immediate trust and love that came from the spirit was a blessing. Even the grandma who had just gotten there from Cuba that day, gave us a huge hug and a kiss. They realized that families are important and how lucky are we to be able to help them understand and grow on what they already know!
Oh and we had a few investigators at conference, Ramon, Diego, and Jairo. Diegos baptism is next week and because he has work and school we still have a couple lessons to teach him before his baptism. Law of Chastity, and tithing. Well thanks to conference, those two things were covered really well!! I just remember thinking to myself, "Well.... hmmmm... oh boy... ok.. well there's our lesson on chastity, I think he heard that he should get married a couple times..." Thoughts like those. Who better to teach our investigators the lessons than the Presidency of the church themselves! 

Hermana Schwendiman 

Picture is of  me and Eddy.. the 12 year old that got baptized a year ago that told me I was his second favorite missionary ever and the thing that would make him the happiest in the world would be if I would get married to his first favorite, the elder that baptized him! Ha ha ha oh the things people tell us... what do you even say to that? I'll tell you. You say,"Woa! Look!! Conference is starting!"  





Monday, September 30, 2013

i spy a little blue book

So this week we were walking the streets of Union City, New York skyline at our back and nothing stopping us. You know, that missionary stride, we were determined. For what? I don't remember exactly but we were determined. I realized as I was coming up to a crosswalk that I put my Book of Mormon in my bag during the last lesson and was only carrying my planner. I quickly grabbed the book out of my bag as I was walking. We walked another block and were getting ready to cross another street, people crossing on both sides of us and all of a sudden I suddenly stopped and turned around as my companion continued into the crosswalk. My body had reacted faster than my mind could process what just happened. I found myself looking at a man who had just passed me, he had stopped and turned around too. And there we were. Just two strangers looking at each other, (sounds like a cheesy song)  and the words came spilling out of my mouth, "What do you mean you have this book?" I realized that as this man passed me, he said to himself, as if he didn't even mean to out loud, "I have that book..." My companion quickly realized she didn't have her side kick and quickly turned around and joined us. Carlos. He told us that a man that he sees about twice a year at his work gave him that book a long time ago.. but he had read some of it and still had it on his bookshelf that he passed by every day. Well we set an appointment for the next day, in which he accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 20th of October! Carlos, because some stranger gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon one day, came to church and is now quickly progressing towards baptism! Sometimes it's easy to think that our actions and efforts are a waste of time because we don't see the results of our efforts.. but if that one man hadn't given this stranger a copy of the Book of Mormon, who knows if he would have ever had the opportunity to completely throw off a sister missionary in the streets of Union City. 
We were also able to see Diego this week. One lesson in particular, the word of wisdom. First of all Diego is incredible but had heard something in church the week before about not drinking coffee.. so he asked us about it last week in our lesson. In this lesson with Diego this week we talked about how precious our bodies are the things that we have been told not to do, a few of  which he grew up with. Coffee being a doozer for him. Coffee with every meal and a few more in the day to keep him moving. He told us something very cool though.. He said for some reason, about two weeks ago (when we first met him) he started to replace his coffee with hot chocolate and he still had enough energy through the day.. he said because he had been doing that, that it would be a lot easier to just stop. And then he asked US if he could offer the closing prayer! #neverhappens
 It's interesting for me to see that the most sacred experiences I've had on my mission haven't been when I have recited the most glorious scripture, or knocked the most doors, but rather when I have been able to see very clearly the hand of the Lord in preparing people for this gospel. Diego who was placed in our path because I had my companion lead the area and we got helplessly lost and I just decided to kept my mouth shut, the appointment that we had completely juked us which led us to walk out of the building at the split second that he turned to walk in. Another testimony for me that we will receive a testimony only after the trial of our faith, or navigation skills, and that there are people ready for  this gospel!! MAN!!! The church is true!! It's so awesome! 
Still nothing tops the moments like when the Dominican lady on the corner threatens to call the cops when she thought a guy on the street was bugging us. Told us not to worry because "Oh I call da caps! He be sleepin real well tonight in jail!" 
or when the random Dominican man contacted ME when my comp was on the phone and told me that he hopes that one day I can find a nice man that gives me lots of kisses and will always hug me tight..
or when I finally had enough of seeing the 2013 swimsuit edition calendar #thatsgross next to Ramons door that we grabbed the nature one #beachesinsteadofbikinis that he had over his desk, replaced all of the appointments and took that dirty ol' calendar with us! What's the 85 year old cuban man doing with that calendar anyway? Not okay! Is it still repentance if it's forced? Well he did tell us the next time that he really has enjoyed looking at the beautiful nature.... I guess it does! 

Well I hope you all have such a great week. Remember the church is true, the book is blue! 

Onward and Upward, 
Hermana Schwendiman 

Day of service last week with our beautiful yellow vests. All the missionaries sang a song at the end and random people across the street clapped for us.
The best and only zone 2 picture we have!
That dirty ol' magazine right before we tore it up and threw it out.




Monday, September 23, 2013

our week in a minute

Diego is getting baptized!! He had a date for the 6th but we were dingnuts and forgot that it was conference sunday!! So he's getting baptized the next week. It was amazing. We were sitting on his porch and he had watched the restoration video the night before. He said "I have the same question that Joseph Smith had!!" Which church is true! So we asked him if he took the advice from the video and prayed. He said no. So of course, we invited him to pray right there and right then. So he did. After the prayer he was silent. He just looked at us. Then the words flowed out. "Diego, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by somebody who has the priesthood authority of God?"  He still just looked at us and slowly started to nod his head. The nod got bigger and bigger and then the smile came on his face. YES!! He is so excited to be baptized and we are just so grateful that he is a social little butterfly and has done all his own fellowshipping himself. Some people are just so ready for the gospel!! He comes to all the activities that he can and he is now friends with everyone in the ward. 
He came to church this sunday and LOVED IT! We also got a call from Ramon on our way to church. He said he wanted to come! I sat with Ramon, that little 85 yr old cuban man, and Sister Schaefer sat with Diego. Talk about opposites.. they both loved church though. Ramon even thanked me for bringing him to church and when I asked him if he was going to come to class he said "I'll guess I'll do whatever you tell me to do!" Well.. in that case we are filling up the font right now!! ha ha we're almost over the challenge that he has already been baptized before! 
All in all it was a great week! Pictures next week. We'll try to snap one with Ramon and Diego!
Just like my grandpa says it,  "ONWARD AND UPWARD!!" 

Sister Schwendiman

Monday, September 16, 2013

saturday

430- up and at em!! We had an early start on saturday because Veronica found a family name (seven in fact) and we were able to go with the whole ward to the temple to do baptisms! It really has been a huge blessing to see converts in the temples and even better than that, is when Veronica told us, with tears in her eyes, that she thought those baptisms were even better than here own!! That was a last minute surprise trip for us and Hermana Jane was able to come back up and go with us!! 
The rest of the day followed pretty normal until our lesson with Ramon. Our 85 yr old investigator that we street contacted a few weeks ago. Well he ended up calling us and so off we went to teach him! Miracle lesson. He knows the bible like the back of his hand and at the start kept going off on his little bible tangents and then we told him if he wanted us to teach him then we didn't have time for little distractions like that. He put a smile on his face, sat up straight and listened very well. Sometimes being bold is just what people need. Well we taught the Restoration of the Gospel and he was astonished. He kept saying, "That's exactly what is says in the Bible," or "Thats just like when Christ was on the earth!" He does really well for his age, and promised us that he is going to come to church next week. 
Then the next miracle of the day was Diego. Diego is someone we bumped into walking out of a juked appointments house. He was walking right back from work, ten seconds early or late, we would have missed him. We sat down right there (monday) and taught him. He came to FHE activity the next night, and then institute the next night where they talked about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. So naturally when we taught him again on saturday we taught the restoration. There is nothing like seeing a persons eyes get big and have them fall back into their seat when you tell them the first vision. The spirit was incredible and he told us, "I believed about 50% when they were talking about it at institute and then I read his testimony in the front of the book and after this, I believe about 95%" We walked out of the lesson at the church and on the wall was a picture of Joseph Smith and the Thomas S Monson. He pointed them out to us and told us that that's him. Wow this 20 yr old who has been in the country for 4 months, came by himself with nothing but the shirt on his back, has been placed in our hands. Diego also promised us that he would come to church next sunday too!
We have been blessed here in Union City, there is no doubt about it!! 

Onward and Upward,
Hermana Schwendiman 



Veronica with her family names to take to the temple! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

pics during the past week... sent by Marisol (a girl in Hilary's ward) thank you!

Marisol who lives in the ward



Marisol meeting up to give Hermana Hilary a copy of a talk and
chocolate before leaving for BYU Idaho

the blind leading the blind

Wow, being a trainer really is a different world. Sometimes I feel like I am running around with my head cut off. (I mean I literally ran after our investigator, in a really dignified and missionary-like kind of way, after sacrament meeting to get him to come to Gospel Principles class.) It has been really interesting for me to be in this position and to realize even more what my purpose is here as a missionary. To invite others to come unto Christ, that especially means my companion. Everything has its time and place and I have realized very quickly some of the lessons that I have needed to learn as I have been training. 
I was really excited to train. One of the things I was excited for was to be able to do everything the way I wanted to. To be able to have control on what we do, how we do it, and when we do it. I was really lucky to observe a missionary in training back when I was in Morristown. I remember being shocked at the progress the trainee had.. So of course, I asked what he was doing. He told me one thing. "The responsibility of the trainer is the trainee. The responsibility of the trainee is the area." So as I started training with both of the ideas that I was going to be doing everything the way I wanted to, and that I will give complete control of the area to my trainee.. there was a pretty obvious conflict. So... I took his challenge and have turned over the whole area to Sister Schaefer. I still think it might be my pride, but I am determined that by the end of her training, Sister Schaefer is going to be the most experienced just out of training missionary in the New Jersey Morristown Mission. 
We have had some really fun experiences together. Oh I remember very well being trained, the good ol' days.. I have been able to think A LOT about my trainer through this, and a lot about my mom. Their examples for me and the love that I have seen as I have been growing up. At home and here in the mission. What I have found is that it's hard to watch somebody learn. It's like the baby chick. You don't want to see them struggle, but you know that you are making them even more weak if you break that shell for them. It has been a really humbling experience for me to be able to put ALL of my focus on my companion. As I do that, I have found that my prayers and desires for out investigators have become stronger because I want Sister Schaefer to have incredible experiences. (She invited Miguel to be baptized this week. He set the date for Oct 27which is incredible!! He has been investigating the church for SO long. Another internigator!! And we have been able to work with him a lot over the past week.) My love for Christ has grown as I try and follow in His footsteps and realize what "perfect" actually means and how far away I am from it. I have learned that the more that I focus on others, my problems either dissolve or don't seem to matter any more. 
It is AWESOME to be on the other end of training with somebody who doesn't know a lick of spanish. #istilldontknowit I have been able to laugh so hard at some of the things that come out of my companions mouth. It reminds me of some of the completely backwards and sometimes inappropriate things I would say because I understood enough to know what people were talking about but not enough to know the details. One situation we were in, we were talking to this man and he told us about the story of when he came to new jersey and some "things" happened and so then he got married and never went home and my companion told him that she was probably going to have the same things happen to her! #oops Or when she asked us who almuerzo (lunch) was that we had scheduled in! But the thing I am looking forward to the most is for her to experience the most incredible revelation in her life. Being a new missionary I was desperate for the spirit and for revelation because I had NO clue what was going on. I strive to be at that place constantly. To be desperate for the spirit. Man, I love being a missionary. Even though some times I feel that it really is the blind leading the blind... It's all about trust in the Lord, right? If we are doing what's right, and following the spirit, we are doing what He needs us to. Onward and upward!!

 I love you all!! 

Hermanan Schwendiman 


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

i'm a momma now!

Well family and friends... I have some news.... IM A MOMMA! And my her name is Hermana Schaefer. This is absolutely a new world... being a trainer. I remember getting in to the mission and looking at the "old" missionaries and idolizing them. They had already been out here SO long and knew so much..  Well now I'm on the other side of that and realizing how much I still don't know... Well isn't that the story of our lives.
These new missionaries that are coming in are incredible though!! Hermana Schaefer was the first group to come in from the Mexico MTC and it is just so easy to tell that the Lord has been preparing them to come on a mission. That is how my trainee is. She is making it really easy on me so far to be a trainer. Okay shortest weekly letter in the world but all is going well here on the Husdon Front! 
The work is moving forward that is for sure. Onward and Upward!

Hermana Schwendiman 

Hermana Sierra Schaefer (Fresno, CA), Me, and Elder Noxon 
Pres and Sis. Jeppson and Elder and Sis Mortensen
(Mom and I met the Mortensens at the San Diego temple last Jan.)
All the sisters in the mission

Monday, August 26, 2013

hello hello

Well hello hello! Or in the words of the Jewish family that lives down the street... "Shalome!" Ha ha One of the things I love about being in a walking area is that we have our "regulars." Giovanni, who cuts hair on the corner and enthusiastically waves at us every time we walk by. Pedro, super old man who is ALWAYS sitting on the same bench on the same street every day. Santo, food stand man who gives us free food and calls us his kids! The sugar peanuts cart guy who still won't listen to us but secretly loves us! It's so different than being in a car all the time! 
Veronica was confirmed this Sunday. She is so incredible!! I have been SO lucky to be the one that the Lord has chosen to watch the lives of these people change! Nina and Veronica. They were both SO ready. In fact Veronica told us on Sunday that she is going to go on the temple trip with the Relief Society this Saturday! Well she can't go because she doesn't have a membership number yet, but hey, that part was easy! She just has such a desire to be better. To grow! 
We are in finding mode... because all of our investigators have been filtered out.Which means contacting. Which means all of the fun people on the streets... we get to talk to even more!! There was this one man yesterday as we walked by he yelled out "Messangers? Are you messangers?" We had such an awesome talk with him and also have an appointment with him. We have been really lucky and have been able to find a few potentials that really genuinely seem interested. Hope we can get the ball rollin on em!   We are teaching three main investigators right now.. 1. Jairo: Comes to church every week but he doesn't have time to meet with us. We taught him prayer yesterday after church and we loved it because all of the members treated him like a rock star when he walked in. That means a lot to a man in his mid twenties with no family. BUT HE WONT PRAY!! The last lesson we taught him he refused to pray. So naturally we taught pray. And luckily I turned out to be a little stubborn and wouldn't take no for an answer.. it took a lot of digging but he finally prayed! Even though it wasn't out loud, he prayed (so we think). We have Raul. Who just told us this week that he will keep meeting with us if we continue to sing like angels.. well needless to say we are handing him off to the elders.. it's unfortunate but sometimes motives aren't where they should be. and 3. Mari! She wants to be baptized so bad but won't do anything unless her husband is right by her side doing it with her. So we will be trying to see her as much as possible and try and snag her husband. Hmm... BUT her mom is taking the lessons!!! She lives in the Elders area and came to church the past two weeks!! YES!! 
But all is great in the New Jersey Morristown Mission! We are all happy and healthy! We have a fun week to look forward to. Last week of the transfer and we are going to make it count! Love you all! Onward and Upward! 
 
Hermana Schwendiman

PS one of the members that we work with a ton in this area just got her mission call... SALT LAKE CITY EAST!! ha ha ha She's is awesome and will be there around Christmas time! Hermana Quiles! 

The view we see everyday
Some members of our ward
Veronicas baptism


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

the mormons are here!


What a fitting title! "The Mormons are here!" That would very much explain our week. We were walking down the street and we walked past a fire station and these four fire fighters were standing outside. One of them said, "Hey are you the Mormons?" Well that's generally a really good thing, or a really bad thing to hear. Never is it normal. So started to talk to them and he shared with us this little story. He said, " SO i'm Baptist and I was sitting in church last week and they started to go off about how the Mormons are here, the Mormons this, the Mormons that. THE MORMONS ARE TAKING ALL OF OUR PEOPLE! We should send our our missionaries too!!" We were just dying!! It ended up being a really funny conversation about how the Mormons are here. 
Something that we keep hearing over and over every time we contact someone on the street is the they tell us that they have seen us around many many times. I know are area is fairly small but it amazed me. We had a man finally walk up to us and say, Ok I've seen you walk by many times and I have some questions for you! Our little saying in our companionship is that we don't contact people, the people contact us! It's so crazy how much they recognize us and how many more people we need to be talking to! It's sometimes easy to just talk to a person here, a person there, but in reality we need to at least invite ALL of these people to hear our message. That is something we have been working on. We have seen some really cool things as we push ourselves just a little bit more.. We contacted this man named Juan on the street last week and gave him our number because he sounded interested but we were in a hurry. He ended up calling us during our next lesson. So we met up with him right after and he told us that he basically wanted to change and this and that. So we walked him to the church to show him where it is and on the way there this little thought came into my head. Invite him. Not just to church.. but to be baptized! So I did!! and he said yes!! ha ha we don't know how much of him is actually "there" but he said he wanted to be baptized!! We have an appointment with him tonight so that should be fun!
Okay Veronica was baptized yesterday!! She was so ready. We were teaching her last week about tithing and fasting which for many people is a really really hard lesson. So we started to teach and she goes, "Oh, I already know what that is! I did that a couple weeks ago!" She had come on a fast Sunday and saw somebody paying their tithing and offerings and asked them what it was. And so she did it and said she didn't eat for the rest of the day!! One of those situations where you don't really believe what is going on! She is awesome! So she was baptized and came out of the water and look SO happy!! Her husband didn't feel like coming.. but her mom came!! And her mom is being taught by the elders! So we're praying for a miracle right now! Her stinkin husband.. poo.. but the bishop was welcoming her into the ward and he shared that out of all of his years being a bishop Veronica was the first to ever come to his office and introduce herself, saying that she was going to be baptized, without him knowing first! She stood up and wanted to share something after too. She shared that how she knows she isn't perfect but how she is so excited to be a part of this family and how she is going to work so hard!! She is awesome and this is going to change the life of her boy Grabrielle! Next step, TEMPLE!! I hope we can help her find a name just like Nina! 
So I don't know if you remember the story about how I asked the huge Popeye man on the street if he needed help with his groceries, and then we ran into him a couple hours later at the library... Well he was baptized on sunday too!! Woot woot! He actually told the edlers that he wanted ME to speak at his baptism!! ha ha ha well this is even more funny. SO this man is HUGE!!! and both of the elders that were teaching him were rather small... Really small and skinny. So I heard the way he got baptized and I had to share.. They had him get on his knees and the elder pushed him forward.. but he started to flap his hands around and so they had to do it again. They are probably about the same height with him on his knees.. so the they had to do it again. BUT HEY! Raymond is baptized!! 
Well this work is awesome and we had a super fun week. I cannot believe we are already looking at the end of this transfer. Kind of weirds me out how fast time goes. Especially when you measure it by transfers! AH! Well onward and upward and I love you all! Sorry no pictures this week. They'll all come next week! 

Hermana Schwendiman