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.. 
-found an investigator family 
-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! 
-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
-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.
-All-Mission Conference in Morristown
     -Alex Boye (enough said)
-ward breakfast
-Baptismal interview (Marilyn)
-Ward party
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


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