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!!

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