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!"