Monday, July 29, 2013

milagros (miracles)

I think the Lord saves up a few good miracles for missionaries that get double in. Sister Millward and I had miracle after miracle when we first were doubled in to Morristwon. Transfers came and we were split up. Sister Jane (jon... its french, but she mexican, and looks white) and I are now together and we were doubled in to Union City, walking. We don't even own a car...  When they announced it at transfer conference all of the other missionaries were going crazy! I didn't realize why until we got up here. This ward (yes it a full fledge ward!!) has been waiting for sister missionaries since 1995! So immediately we felt so much love. Although some of the members are mad that we aren't in their area. We only cover about ten blocks. 5 taken from two of the companionships of elders on both sides of us. We are now the fourth set of missionaries in the ward. Well I love being doubled in! We both talked in church yesterday, which we found out last night, is a huge priveledge. The new elders coming in never get asked to speak. The biship even talked to President on sunday and told him how impressed he was at the work that we have done in five days. WOW!! Super grateful! And my comp!! She is awesome. Born in Mexico and when she was 7 moved to Houston, Texas. Always has wanted to serve a mission and when the age change was announced, she jumped at the chance! I love working with her.
So we got in to our new area tuesday night, and started from scratch. We conbined two area books, and two planners (both made from elders..... we know how those are...) to make our new little area! We went to visit a less active member and her daughter was home watching the kids. She had a friend over though, Angel. 19 year old boy from Ecuador. The lesson started with her and then he came and it we were able to teach him. He prayed for us on the first visit and then we made an appointment with him for sunday night and he said he was wanted to come to church! Well he wasn't at church, but he was there for the appointment. He felt SO bad that he couldn't come to church he had to go down to Newark for the morning, but the lesson was incredible!! Angel is awesome! He answered all of our questions for him before we could even ask them. He told us, "I need to pray and ask so I can know for myself!!" Psh.. yes you do! The whole lesson was like that. We had another lesson last night that was a hand off from the elders. Thats the interesting thing about working in areas with the elders, sometimes they give us their investigators of single mothers. In this case the husband was getting really jealous that these elders kept coming over and were visiting with his wife! So we took it. We started our visit and the husband wanted to excuse himself from the lesson, he just wasn't interested and said he wasn't going to go to church ever. Well anyway we snatched him. He stayed for the lesson and the tables turned quickly. It ended up being a lesson with him and us and it was super powerful. He completely opened up to us and shared a lot of really big concerns. The spirit was insane and there were a few moments where he was brought to tears. I will never forget the look on his face when we told him that he was a good dad. That we could tell that he works hard and that they are good parents. They are raising a good boy! His shoulders just dropped and this smile of relief came on his face. At the end of the lesson he told us that he was considering coming to church and he really wants to make sure that he is there for the next lesson. I am so excited to see what happens with this family.
I love being in a walking area. We get to interact and talk to SO many people!! Complete opposite of my last area! We had a man walk up to us this week and said "Yous twos are turnin everyones heads ova here! Theres jus somethin different about you's twos.. somethin different" Well I believe that's the light of Christ! Love this work, love this area, love my comp!! Onward and Upward!
Hermana Schwendiman

One of the member families in our Ward we laughing their heads off when our glasses were like this!
Our brand new super nice apartment. And my comp. Everyone asks us if we are sisters.
Lucky me right? She loves papcarn!! 

Monday, July 22, 2013


My little message this week is about the power of a testimony.. I had a really good week in the fact that my testimony was continually challenged. Not even by other people most of the time. By myself. I think there comes the point in every persons life (or many) when they take a step back and say, Is this what I believe? Is it true? Why should I believe it? Why is this any different?   
I was sitting at my desk on Thursday, so preoccupied with frustration with myself because I was questioning my own beliefs. I am a missionary.. this is not supposed to be happening. Missionaries are supposed to have perfect testimonies. People who have been members their whole lives are supposed to have perfect testimonies. I am supposed to have a perfect testimony! But there I was, thinking, Is this church true? Was Joseph Smith a Prophet? Is Thomas S. Monson a Prophet today? The power of the adversary is incredible. Especially in these little weak moments he wants to attack us, and to make us think that we are crazy. Why in the world would you believe something like that?
The solution to this problem is not to think about what we don't know. Its to hold on to what we DO know. Elder Holland gave the talk last conference called "Lord, I believe" and this is exactly what he talks about. A little boy told him, I cannot tell you I know that this church is true, but I believe that it is. He just wrapped the boy in his arms and said, "I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act.." Even though I could not say in that moment that I knew it was true, I bleived that it was.So where to from there? I decided to take my own advice that I gave to one of the members of our little branch when she was in the same problem as I was the week before. I told her that to have questions is a good thing. It means we have room to grow! Test them. Try them. And the outcome will always be the same.
So I did just that. I tested them, I read. I tried them. I read even more. and then I knelt down and pleaded to my Father in Heaven to know if this church is true. How can I be on the other side of the nation preaching to complete strangers what I wasn't even completely sure of. I can tell you right now, I am sure. This is the true church, restored on the earth again through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Lords promise was fulfilled when He said, Ask, and it will be given you. I will forever be grateful for the power of prayer. For the answer that I received. My purpose in this is not to expose my weaknesses to all of my family and friends.. But that maybe someone, somewhere, can find an answer to their own question. Is this church true? Please, if you feel that your testimony is weak, lean on mine!  And search of the answer. It is there we just have to ask for it! HE is there, we just have to ask for Him.
I want you to know that I know that this church is true. That no matter what level we think our testimony is it, it can always grow. Kneel down tonight and ask your Father in Heaven if this is true. He will give you an answer and you will be stronger then, than you were before.
I am grateful for the mission. For trials. For growth. This Gospel is centered on bringing others closer to Christ. Don't ever let Satan convince you that you aren't part of the "others." Onward and Upward! The church is true!
Hermana Schwendiman
Ps. I'm getting transferred!

Monday, July 15, 2013

adrenaline rush

SO if you knew me before my mission, you would know that I had a little bit of a craving for adrenaline.. I haven't changed much in that catergory.. (don't worry mom, nothing happened) but I have used that to be able to be a little more daring in the mission. The little adrenaline rush right before you ask someone to be baptized, the rush before walking up to a complete stranger on the streets to introduce them into the gospel ( even if they do listen to your whole lesson and then the moment  you mention Joseph Smith they grab your shoulder and look you straight in the eyes and then say "I knew It!! YA'LLS Jahovas!!!" and then storm off.. um, excuse me sir.. we're actually called Mormons..) The adrenaline rush you get when you look at the program (always the most exciting time of the week) and see that the special musical number is a duet with your companion that you were going to prepare for the next week.. (Yes Sister Millward and I stood in front of this humble little congregation and sang "nearer my God to thee" acapela, and in spanish.. First time I have sung in public since I was in high school!! BUT looking out into the congregation, there were two less actives that we have been working really hard with, that were there for the first time in a long time and they both had tears streaming down their cheeks. There's always a reason for everything. The Lord knew that there needed to be a miscommunication and that we needed to sing yesterday instead of next week. Always a reason for everything)
This week is really going to be about Vicent y Elsa. They are a couple of the "I only believe in the Bible" ers.. But complete miracles have happened!! So how i'm going to explain this to you is by copy and pasting what my companion wrote to her family.. It's not a laziness thing.. Maybe it is.. But one thing that I have learned as a missionary is to use your resources!! It's a little bit long but it's a great story if you care to read. If not.. Just know.. He has a plan for us and nothing happens by chance!
Not by chance, about 7 weeks ago we were walking the streets of Boonton and found a cute little old Guatemalan lady who told us about how strong her faith was in God. Not by chance, we made an appointment to visit with her. We knew she had breast cancer, and that she had a family. And not by chance, we decided to teach her The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (imagine that).
She sent us away, telling us she only believed in the Bible to be the word of God, knowing for a surety that though we were nice girls, and we did good things, we had nothing to offer her except maybe some warm and fuzzy feelings for a minute, before we started talking about The Book of Mormon and a modern day prophet.
Not by chance, 2 weeks ago we got a referral from the Assistants, who work our area but in English, leading us towards "Elsa and Vicente. Guatemalan. She's fiesty- Sister Millward should get along well with her."
Not by chance, we ended up contacting that referral. As we searched for the given address, our jaws dropped as we came up to the same house as the little Guatemalan lady we had seen so many weeks ago. We knocked; she laughed, and invited us in.
Her hair had grown some- she was going through chemo when we met her first- and she had just gotten a mastectomy. Tears filled her eyes as she spoke of the pain that she felt, and the sadness at not feeling very beautiful anymore. We listened, knowing that God had directed us to her, and then the Elders to her, not by chance. Still though, she would not accept the Book of Mormon.
I have never prayed for anyone before the way I have prayed for her. We had several appointments, all filled with hardly any success, it seemed. We became better friends, and she began to confide more in us as we strove to listen to the spirit and know what she needed. This month in our mission the focus is the Book of Mormon- not by chance, that was what every single one of our lessons was focused on. As she learned about our intentions, and the reasons we were there were all for her benefit, she slowly seemed to soften. It was interesting when she asked, "If I don't read this, will you stop coming?" We knew we had to respond honestly, that our purpose as missionaries was to bring people closer to Christ as we taught them about the Book of Mormon, and that there were more people out there that needed the message we share if they would not accept it. The next appointment, she finally said she would read.
We arrived at 7:45 pm a few nights later, with all the faith we had that they had read and prayed. She had read- and she had liked it. And then her husband stepped in, and asked about the Plan of Salvation pamphlet we had left a few visits ago. We began to teach about where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going- and as we did, their daughter in law and son and grandchildren walked in. It surprised us to learn that the 5 year old girl who runs away from us knows our names, and that they seemed to be talking about us when we weren't there.
Then Elsa began to cry. She had been confiding in us more and more, and she suddenly said, "I know God sent you to me. I thought nothing of you that day on the street when we met for the first time. But as I have gone through surgery, and my daughter in law has been in and out of the hospital, the pastor from my church has never called. We have received no visits from members of my church. But you two have never stopped coming, and you always bring us the word of God when you come. I know God has sent you."
I know that it is not by chance that God opened a way for her to accept us. Although she and her husband are still learning and have not said yes to baptism yet, we know that God needs them to lead their family as we help them follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood Authority of God.
God's hand is in this work; God guides this work. Of that I have no doubt. I am happy, but more importantly I am so grateful and honored to be the Lord's servant, bring others to him in this beautiful area of Morristown New Jersey. Ain't no place bettah!
Well I love ya all so very much! Have a great week!  Onward and Upward!!
Hermana Schwendiman

Serafin and the painting that he gave to me. A less active who we have worked so hard with and is now getting ready to try and go back to the temple!! He has been out of work and took a lot of time but said that he noticed the way that I stared at it whenever I came over and he knew they were my favorite flower and he said that he love us so much and we have changed his life so much that he wanted to give us something that meant SO much to him. We were all just in tears. The one in the top corner of the goose is Sister Millwards. (Her favorite animal, nothing happens by chance)
And a distict lunch!! Our crazy little district..
And a jug of really yucky juice that we have now finished twice.. Serafins eyes just light up when we ask for more.. So.. We do!! Just like good little latino serving missionaries. They just put their heart into their food and love feeding missionaries!! Yum...


Monday, July 8, 2013

what's a missionary?

What a strange week...  It's interesting that the life I thought I was going to be living and the life I am living as a missionary now are completely different. I have really had to learn the definition for the word missionary. Not just someone assigned to preach and baptize. Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ... it whatever way that might be.  
One of our members passed away last Sunday night and her funeral was this Thursday. We had our little part in the funeral, helping with the music, and were glad that we had been able to spend a lot of time with this family before this happened. It's always a very interesting situation to watch a beautiful human go from a state of health to having to rely on every other person around her to live.  It just goes to show how much we need to be relying on our Savior to live. I found at that funeral that my way to help Hermano Viveros come closer to Christ was just to accept a huge strong hug that that little Mexican man gave me. (It's not against the rules! I promise. We just figured out that it was a self proclaimed rule among misisonaries to keep the awkward situations to a minimum. Ha ha as if that were possible!)
That night we didn't have a curfew. We went to a park with our zone and got to watch fireworks! The fact that we didn't have a real curfew that night didn't matter. I thought we would have taken more advantage of it, but by the time that fireworks were over we were practically zombies. Plus,  a few of us Sisters had to wake up early the next day and get on our way to Liberty Island. That was really one of the coolest things. Talk about not feeling like a typical missionary. Hoping on a boat and touring around Liberty Island. We volunteered on the island for 5 hours. Which was awesome because it is such a touristy place that I got to use all of my people skills, combined with different languages to help them. I got to use my English, my Spanish, the little Portuguese that I know, two sentences in Russian, and Thai that I remember and even some charades to a Chinese man that had NO idea what I was saying. He did understand the word name though! We weren't allowed to proselyte there but it didn't really matter. We had more people ask us how they could contact us than ever before. And we stick out like a sore thumb to members!
One early morning after the next. We got a phone call from Nina at 445 saying she was outside ready for us. If there is one thing I know that is more scary than walking down a dark alley at night.. its riding in the back seat of a Latino woman's car while she is swerving around the streets of NY yelling at the top of her Puerto Rican voice at her GPS at 5 in the morning. One of those once in a lifetime opportunities. But the temple was incredible! The look on Nina's face when they said her grandmothers name was priceless. Pure joy.  It really is a unique experience to be able to do such sacred work for a close family member. Or anyone in general. I really did feel like as I got to do baptisms as well, in Spanish. It has been quite a long time since I have done them, and now that I am learning more and more the importance of that sacred covenant I felt really special to be able to do it and in another language that I have adopted as my own.  
I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!! Okay so my little learning high this week has been on the 12 tribes of Israel. Ok I'm not going to go into it because if I start I can't stop.. But I want to mention a little about the tribe of Manasseh. Mainly because a lot of the people we work with, the Latino's, are from this tribe. They have a very special gift and their gift is to receive revelation through dreams. These week we had two experiences with that. We were with one of our members this week teaching a part member family. We have been trying to teach them for the past month because the dad wants his two boys and his sons girlfriend to get married but he won't come to church!! We're  like.. uh.. hello!! You're missing something!! But we have been able to get in a lot the past two weeks and we had a really powerful lesson with them. It seemed to really click for the middle boy and he sincerely thanked us for coming over and for helping him. As we were driving home we were talking about him to the member and mention that Cesar Alonso bla bla bla. It clicked something for her and she said, WHAT? That's his name? I had a dream last night that Cesar Alonso HAD to be baptized. So we went straight back to his house, walked up to the door, and I said, "Alonso, serguira el ejemplo de Jesucristo y ser bautizado por alguien que posea la autoridad del saucerdocio de Dios?" (Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the preisthood authority of God?) and he said YES! It was so amazing! Completely let by the spirit. We sat down in the car and just stared off into space for at least a full minute. I love this work!
The next, well transfers are coming up.. and we were sitting in gospel doctrines class yesterday and telling this story and talking about transfers with out branch mission leader and it reminded of Nina of a dream she had. She started to cry telling me that she had a dream that I was telling her that I had to leave. Sister Millward didn't but I did. MAN!! That's rough! I love this woman so much and she does not want us to go. So... I guess don't be surprised if I get transferred in a couple weeks!
I love you all so much. I know that this church is true. There is no doubt about it.. If you have any.. read the Book of Mormon. It answers all the questions! Onward and Upward!!
Ps. That picture of me by the toilet is me and Sister Millward playing a prank on the sisters that we live with!! Just put a couple snickers bars in the toilet and it looks like someone left a lovely mess!! Ha ha ha and a beautiful morning New York skyline!!
Hermana Schwendiman

Me and Hermana Jordan at the fireworks
On my way to volunteer at Liberty Island
Beautiful NY morning skyline 
Snickers prank on the other sisters... ha ha

Jeppsons in Jersey - Morristown New Jersey Mission Blog

Here are some pics from Hilary's mission blog... with the link if you want to see what her mission and the missionaries who are there!

Big group of missionaries coming into the mission 

Sisters in their mission T's

Monday, July 1, 2013


Who knew that being a missionary could be so fun!! Ok yes it's hard sometimes, and hot, and there are some long days and sometimes we have to walk a lot and blah blah blah.. but really it's so fun!
This week we had an all mission conference! Oh that was so much fun. We really do have the best mission in the world (No offense to any other missions out there) It was such a blast. Soccer, kickball, volleyball, dodgeball, football, skits, "cake boss" contest, tons of funny missinonaries, NY temple president came and spoke, and 4,000 pictures! AND at the very end the made the announcement that if anyone knew how to run photoshop to tell anyone in the office. um... ME! So We spent some time in the office the next morning and I photoshopped an Edler into the incoming group photo because he was in the restroom while they were taking it. It was a little adrenalin rush for me!! I am now the go-to photoshop missionary. I'll take that tag!
Anyway, NIINA HAS A NAME!! We're cutting it kind of close, but we found Nina's grandma. She is doing baptisms for her this Friday in the NY temple and guess what, we get to go!! I have really loved being able to be with someone through every step of this conversion. Nina is the ideal investigator to convert to member story. She is a huge pillar in this branch and she has made some huge changes in her life and we have been able to just walk with her every step of the way. She is giving a talk next week in church too! Can you imagine.. being a member for a month and having to give a 10 minute talk.. I know people that have been members their whole life and still won't give a talk!! AND she is getting a calling in the next couple weeks. What faith. She has really showed us the difference that this gospel makes in our lives. What it's like to live without it and the blessing it brings!
This was a really odd week. End of the month again.. You know what that means.. walking days! I really have so much respect for the Elders.. they have to walk every day! Sister Millward and I walked for three days and it about took it out of us! Granted two of those days we walked in the blistering heat and humidity uphill both ways with bricks on our feet.. just to get juked! Those are always the moments where you just have to laugh it off. Walking two or three miles to get to your appointment and have them not be there! ha ha The work has been really interesting. I am still really grateful for the advice that my Presidents wife gave us last month. She said the sometimes you do so much work and you never see the fruits of your labors. Results do not show in your numbers but that we are laying foundations. Laying foundations for people to build their testimony on. That is always good to keep in mind when we have weeks, or a month like this.
 All of our investigators dropped us. Frank completely broke our hearts by telling us one day that he was so excited to be baptized and the next making a complete 180 and wanting nothing to do with the church. Finding out that one of the members in the ward (her brother is Gemayorlay who we were teaching and he wanted to get baptized) goes around and tells people that they shouldn't get baptized and that there is not hurry. They should just come to church and wait for a couple years to get baptized. Can you believe that? Thats bogus!!  She even served a mission. Sometimes I just don't understand! Well needless to say she got to her own brother and now he's MIA. Oh and we just found out he is part of the secret police in Columbia... a little sketchy! and we spent a lot of time at the hopital on the edge of our area. One of members passed away yesterday just an hour after we had visited her. Sometimes being a missionary get the load of everyones problems. But this is also good. Sometimes that's just why we are here. Missionary work isn't baptizing. It's bringing others unto Christ.. Yes we generally prefer that every person we talk to get baptized but the most important thing that I have learned this week is that the Lords will be done. He has a plan and we just need to learn to do and say what he needs us to.
I am grateful for the testimony and the knowledge that I have. Oh and I am grateful that I saw the statue of liberty today!! We found out this week that as Sisters in this mission we get to volunteer on Liberty Island!! That was my first time seeing it!! See this really is the best mission ever! I am so lucky!! Well hope you enjoyed the update of my life in this lovely part of New Jersey. Stay tuned in for next weeks update. Ha ha Onward and Upward!
Hermana Schwendiman

Oh yes!! the temple! You'll read we get to go this friday to do baptisms! Nina is coming to pick us up at 5... yes five in the morning. Sister Schwendiman can get up at five in the morning. Hilary.. cannot!! ha ha but we are super lucky. I can't wait to hear about the fourth of july adventures you get to have at home! We don't have a bedtime that night!! Wahoo!!!! Sounds like this weeks going to be a little sleep deprived! Wish me luck! Love you!!
Hermana Schwendiman

Liberty Island
Nina now has her Grandmas name for the temple