Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Orleans

Hey Family!!
Sorry I didn't get to email y'all yesterday.  It was memorial day so all the libraries were closed and so there was no way to email.  Sorry and it's gonna be super short because we've got district meeting in an hour so I'll try to write as fast as I can. 
First big exciting news is that Sister LaPorte, Sister Olden, Sister Seegrist and I went down to New Orleans yesterday with a member from our ward!  All I can say is it's crazy down there and there's some pretty crazy people but it was awesome.  In the French Quarter missionaries are only allowed on St. Peters street and at Cafe Du Monde because there's some pretty crazy things on all the other places...or so I hear.  It's crazy how different it is from Baton Rouge even being just a couple hours away.  The best way I would describe it is a giant tourist trap and also a ton like Europe.  It was an awesome experience though.  We got to eat beignets at  Cafe Du Monde which is famous for them, seriously you should've seen how many people were there.  If you don't know what they are it's like a scone but covered in powderd sugar and delicious.  We walked by the Mississippi and down St. Peters street and that's about all.  Oh yeah and on the way there there's this bridge across Lake Ponchrtrain or something like that and this bridge literally goes for miles and miles across water...pretty awesome.  Who knows, maybe I'll get to serve down there sometime. 
Oh yeah and something crazy, Sister LaPorte and Sister Calderwood both think I'm going to be training next transfer.  We'll just say it's their "motherly instincts" but we shall see what happens.  I personally don't think I will.  Plus everyone around me is going home within the next couple months and even on sunday the bishop talked about it at the pulpit and mentioned how I've still got a ways to go and will hopefully stay in BR 1st ward the whole eighteen months.  Bishop Smith is the best! and it would be sweet to serve here the whole time, there's so much to do!
Here's some miracles from this week:
numero uno.  We held our first ward movie night this past week and it was a success!  We started doing it so the members can come together and get to know each other more beyond just the normal church activities.  And despite the rain, thunder, and lightning there were about ten people that showed up which is pretty good considering no one leaves their house down here when it's raining.  We watched The Testaments and most of the members hadn't seen it before and they were all very touched by it.  I think next monthly it will have an even better turn out. 
numero dos: On Friday night we were gonna stop by the Wleh's home but when we drove by we saw that they were having a party so we decided not to stop and to go see Weddin instead.  When we got over to Weddin's home she wasn't there but her mom was locked out and Weddin had the keys and she was over at the party and was in no hurry to come home.  Sister Swen (Weddin's mom) was super tired and just wanted to go to bed so we offered to go get the keys for her and she said yes.  Just this little act of service was able to soften her heart and the next day she asked us to come over and help her with her resume.  Sister Swen is always super busy and we've never been able to have a full on conversation let alone lesson with her but because of this when we came back over she sat down with us and we had a lesson with her and she opened up to us with her concerns.  Truly a tender mercy of the Lord. 
numero tres:  Way back when Sister LaPorte first got here we were visiting Sister Donahue and we met her son, Troy.  We wanted to come back and share more with him except he was out of town for work for a couple months so we never got to see him.  Finally the other day we stopped by again and he was home and he said that he would like to learn more!  So we went back over and taught him the restoration and he said that he will read the Book of Mormon!  We're going back over to visit him today so I hope he did keep his commitment.  He's got great potential!!
Things are going great here in Baton Rouge.  Sister LaPorte is leaving back to temple square on June 12 so we've only got a couple weeks left together so we're making the most of it.  There's so much work to be done here and so little time to do it.     
Mom I'm good on clothes for now...honestly I don't think they make too much of a difference for now.  However the shirts from Old Navy are the best!  It's perfect how they're so light.  The blue dress is my absolute favorite as well because it's so comfortable and light.  The pink shirt that was mostly polyester is super hot just so ya know. 
Special highlights from the week: 
- Sis LaPorte: "Sister Swen I'm leaving my pen here with you so you can finish your resume." Sis Swen: Throws her arms up in the air and says "Hallelujah!" Haha African people are the best.
- Walked into the party at the Wleh's and kids were jumping all over me trying to hug me and saying they saw us earlier and they love us.  Imagine me with tons of little African kids that were way too hyper just saying I love you!!! while I was like "I don't even know you!" haha. 
- Sister LaPorte walked into a glass door.
- Vinegar plus baking soda is the magic formula for cleaning out your grout.
- My arms were literally burning after trimming some trees at the church
- We found the mother load zoo of rabbits at the Lewis' plus we got to hold a baby one. 
Sorry I've got to go but know that I love y'all so much!!  Thanks for all your emails. 
Love Always, Sister Schmutz
p.s. the pictures are from New Orleans.  :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hey Family!
First off thank you so much for the package y'all were able to send.  I love, love, love, all the clothes in it and I actually look forward to getting dressed in the mornings for once which is a good thing.  So thank y'all so much for thinking of me and taking the time to get all those clothes, especially you mom.  :)  as far as getting more clothes I will always be happy to accept more but don't worry about it, I've got enough to last.  I love all the clothes you already sent and the ones in the pictures look great as well.  Haha and Emily your faces in the pictures were priceless.  The past couple days its been getting more and more humid and along with that it's getting hotter.  Let's just say I'm not really looking forward to summer.  The Elders say that the bugs all come out in the summer and they go crazy.  And then along with that the majority of the people we visit don't have air conditioning so I'm just gonna roast all summer long.  But hey it always makes you grateful for the little things you do have, right. 
It's been a weird week this week...partly because they switched up our whole district and now we're surrounded by tons of Elders.  I miss our old district but that's okay, we get to learn to love the new Elders.  Also because it feels like we've been super unproductive this week, as in we've taught the least amount of lessons ever.  But it just goes to show that we have all this time that the Lord's given us that we need to use to the best of our ability.  No effort is gone on unwasted because Heavenly Father always knows how much we're trying and doing. 
Here's a couple miracles though:
numero uno: We were able to go to the temple with Sister Depew as she attended for the first time.  It's been awesome to see how she's been progressing from less active to coming to church and eventually heading to the temple.  She was always looking for the next step as to what to do in the gospel and it really hit me that there's always a next step, you just have to find it.  The whole idea of the atonement is progression and we constantly need to evaluate ourselves and make improvements on everyday things we do.  It was also sweet to be able to attend the temple with her because she should've literally been at the ER.  She called us the morning of saying how sick she was and she should've been going to the doctor but she chose to go to the temple first.  Lesson learned, always put the temple first because as soon as you make plans to go something will come up to try and keep you away. 
numero dos: Truly witnessing how the Holy Ghost has such a major impact on everyone's lives.  A while back the zone leaders were visiting Sister Banks every monday but they were never able to get her to church.  Because of conflicting times they stopped seeing her and didn't visit for a couple months.  We asked what happened there and they told us we should go visit her so we did and she's been coming to church ever since we first saw her!  I always wondered what we did differently that made her want to come to church but in reality it wasn't anything we taught differently or did.  It was the Spirit the whole time.  She noticed the difference when they stopped coming and she knew that coming back to church would bring the Spirit into her life even stronger.  It's amazing the way Heavenly Father works!
numero tres: The other night we were sitting in the car about to get out to go to an appointment.  I looked over and saw two white guys legit start fighting.  It didn't last long and they went behind the bushes real quick and then one of them drove off and the other guy went inside.  Well we didn't think much of it and just went into our appointment, however the guy that went inside did see that we saw what happened.  When we came out of the appointment immediately the Praireville Sisters called us so Sister LaPorte was talking to them while we were getting to the car and the guy that was in the fight was waiting on the sidewalk by our car.  I just got in the car and Sister LaPorte was talking on the phone but he started talking to her and mentioned how he was just in a fight.  Who knows but we think he wanted to talk to us about the fight because we witnessed it all happen and who knows what would've happened.  But it's just a little example that Heavenly Father really does watch over all of us everyday.  It was an inspired call from the Praireville Sisters.  Don't worry though, we're safe and all is well here.  :)
I'm super excited to be staying in North BR for another transfer.  The other day I was looking over our ward directory and literally I could spend my entire mission just in this area because there's so much work to do and so many people to see.  Aw man I absolutely love it!
From the Book of Mormon this week I learned how completely awesome all these people are.  The two that stick out a lot are Zeniff and Abinadi.  They're both only mentioned breifly in the book of Mosiah and yet they're both such strong men and leaders.  From Zeniff I learned how much he loved the people he served and did everything with them in mind.  He had complete love for the people which movited him and them as well to do anything.  And then Abinadi had such a strong testimony that he was silling to die for what he believed to be true.  I love these examples and leaders in the Book of Mormon because those are the two things I think I've been trying to work on the most lately, love and testimony.  If I was put in the same situation would I act the same way as these men did?  Something cool to think about.
Sounds like everything is going well back home.  Summer is finally coming around!  Y'all have any vacations planned out or things you're doing this summer?  Be sure to send Big Grandma my love and let her know how much I think and pray about her.  I can't wait to see the new planner covers you've come up with Sarah...you're the best! 
Sister LaPorte and I used to text everyone in our district special highlights from the day just to make others laugh so I figured I might as well send some of the funny things that happened throughout the week back home to y'all so you can enjoy as well.  Also I tend to not write these in my planner so it will be good to reflect back on these...well I've been a major slacker at writing in my journal because we've been going to bed at 9:30 right after we're done planning.  I guess you could say we're always super tired or something...weird.  There's been multiple times when the office elders and zone leaders have knocked on our doors and windows when we've already been asleep and we don't hear a thing.  Apparently that's what happens when you become a missionary, you cal fall asleep instantly.  Anyways back to the special highlights: 
-Dogs were sitting on our laps and on the couch and one of them peed on Sister LaPorte haha and then the family brought out frebreeze to clean it off. 
-We saw Mike the Tiger at LSU and he was dead, not literally though. 
-Drove the Office Elders in our car...it's a long story but Elders aren't allowed in the car with us (I'll try sending y'all a video explaining). 
-Cut some jalepeno's and onions for some members.  As soon as we cut the onions my eyes started watering and then I touched them and got the jalepeno in my eyes so then they were burning and I couldn't open my eyes one bit.  While all this was happening Sister LaPorte thought it was just the onions so she thought I was crazy and was feeding me potato salad while I couldn't open my eyes.  As soon as we got home Sister LaPorte touched her eyes with the japaleno's and she was crying from the pain.  It was quite the experience.
-Traded our car with some other missionaries and it smells like a man.
-Elder Ageda put a kitten on my lap and I wouldn't touched him.  Told him I'm allergic and he freaked out.  Definitely a priceless moment.
-Gnats were invading our apartment so we got syrup from the zone leaders...as soon as we got back all the gnats were gone. 
Oh and a random funny fact about Louisiana.  If y'all have ever seen the city named Natchitoches you'd probably think it sounds kinda like what it looks like.  But it's actually pronounced Nacadish.  Don't ask me how you get that out of it's spelling because I have no idea, but still pretty cool. 
Hope y'all have a great week back home.  Enjoy every step of the journey!
Love Always, Sister Schmutz      

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

stayin here!

Hey Family!!
First big news is that Sister LaPorte and I are both staying in North Baton Rouge for another transfer!!  I'm so excited to be staying here with the ward and people and hope I can stay for a while longer.  The people here are seriously the best and I love them all so much!  Our district is changing a lot this coming transfer.  We won't find out who is coming in until tomorrow but the zone leaders are staying the same.  Sister Olden and Seegrist are switching down to Prairiville's area.  Sister Haskell and Wheeler are both leaving.  Two new elders are coming into Tiger Bend's area with bikes only.  And Elder Bawden is leaving.  Sad day but also a good one.  :)  I never thought it would be hard to say goodbye to other missionaries while on your mission but I'm grateful for the plan of salvation and the knowledge that we'll get to see everyone again even if we can't see them again while on earth. 

So yes please send the package to my regular apartment address.  Thank you so so so much!!!  Y'all are the best and thank you in advance for all the clothes you're sending.  :) you're lifesavers.
I loved talking with y'all on mother's day and seeing all your lovely faces!  And mom I'm glad you got my card right in time for mother's day.  I hope it was a good day.  So much is going on at home it's crazy to think about.  While serving a mission at times I forget that time keeps moving on back home and outside of the mission.  
As tradition calls, here's a couple miracles:
numero uno: Lyla is our newest investigator and she's super sweet.  We visit Sister Banks every monday night because up until a couple weeks ago she hadn't gone to church in over twenty years.  So we like to come and read the scriptures with her and her family and bring the spirit into her home.  Anyways a couple weeks ago Lyla came in and we asked her if she'd like to join us and she did.  (She's Sister Banks niece) We got talking afterwards and she was meeting with the missionaries a couple years ago but never got baptized.  We've met with her a couple times since then and she's keeping her commitments and asking lots of questions.  Her cousins and sister have been waiting and wanting her to get baptized for the past three years.  She hasn't really stated this but I think this is one of her big concerns, she's been dating the same guy for nine years and they aren't married yet.  She's pregnant with their second son and she told us she wants to get married but he just hasn't said anything.  Long story short we found out yesterday that he gave her a ring for mother's day.  So I'd say they're practically engaged!  Seriously it's amazing the way the Lord works.  
numero dos:  A family in our ward is moving soon and we've been asking them for months if we can help them do anything to help them prepare to move.  They keep saying no and that we shouldn't waste our time on active members.  After months of pleading with them we were finally able to help them deep clean their house this past week to get ready to sell.  It's true, service really does open the hearts of everyone.  
numero tres:  Miranda started her mission papers!  Well she actually did a couple weeks ago but I'm just so happy for her.  She moved into our ward a couple months ago from Denham Springs and she's the only active member in her home.  Her family doesn't have a car so she always has to ask for a ride to church and she hates doing it, but she always comes.  Plus a mission is going to be amazing for her.  She's shared with us how the gospel helped her when she was super depressed and it's such an inspiring example.  
This week while studying the Book of Mormon, here's a couple insights I was able to receive.  I was reading in Mosiah 10 and I loved it because the Lamanities were starting a war against Zeniff and his people, and the first thing Zeniff did was hide the women and children in the wilderness and then gathered all the men together to fight.  Even he was there and ready to fight ready to be an example to everyone.  In verse 11 it says, "Now, the Lamanites knew nothing concerning the Lord, nor the strength of the Lord, therefore they depended upon their own strength.  Yet they were a strong people, as to the strength of men."  They were super strong men, but as in verse 20, "And it came to pass that we did drive them again out of our land; and we slew them with a great slaughter, even so many that we did not number them."  Even though they were strong, many died because they didn't have the strength of the Lord.  Always remember that the strength of the Lord will triumph over the strength of men.  It went on to say that the Lamanities did all these things because of false judgements and misconceptions.  At the beginning I was thinking how stupid they were for that, but in reality we're all that dumb and blind to the eternal perspective.  So I've learned to not judge others and myself for things we have to go through, but to look at the eternal perspective.  
Also one more quick thought. In Mosiah 12:27 it says, "Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise."  Abinadi was asking King Noah why he wasn't teaching these people all that he was learning and that's what it all comes down to.  He understood what he was learning, however he understood it in his mind.  When you understanding things in your heart you apply it to your life and take action.  So apply what you know and do something with it. 
Man the Book of Mormon is so amazing!!  And here's my best advice to y'all if you don't feel this way towards the BoM...read it and read it until you do find it amazing!

Well I've gotta get going but know that I love y'all so much and think about you often.  Sarah you should keep the early morning custodial job...it will be worth it in the end.  :)
Love Always,  Sister Schmutz
p.s. here's a picture of Alexis' dogs...they're my favorite!  The pitbull is named Nunu and the little one is Duke.  I told Sister LaPorte the other day that when I go home I'm gonna get a pitbull just to remind me of Louisiana because everyone down here has one, no joke.  Plus they're funny dogs.  Nunu's whole body shakes whenever she comes over to see us haha it's the greatest.   
p.s. and the other picture is hopefully one of the BR zone after zone conference a week or two ago.  I hope I downloaded the right one though.

Monday, May 6, 2013

happy may!

Hey Family!!
Mom I wanted to let you know that I picked up a perscription this past week and the missionary insurance wouldn't work so I ended up using the regular card that you gave me so I only had to pay $10.  Just wanted to give you a heads up for that...so thank you!  Don't worry about me, I'm fine and doing well...just can't hear out of my ear but we'll get it taken care of.  I got a blessing last week and I'll let you know how things are going next sunday when I get to call y'all.  I wrote to Dad when I first got here and had him call Rich and he said the medicine I was given should make everything better.  So no worries, I just wanted to give you a head up! 
Also in answer to your questions about calling next sunday I have no idea about any of your questions.  President Wall didn't write to us telling anything so yeah.  But Sister LaPorte says on temple square they get to call a couple days in advance to let you know what time we will be calling...so that might be the case or possibly not.  I'll let you know about skyping or calling as well.  There's currently seven missionaries in our ward so most likely end up calling so y'all can actually hear me and I won't have to wait around forever to use a computer.  I'll let you know what time though as well and as far as a limit I don't think there is a limit, but maybe an hour will be good.  Sorry I really have no idea but I'll call you after y'all get out of church this coming sunday.  I'm excited to hear from y'all!  It will probably be right after you get home from church.     
It's been a sweet week here in Baton Rouge.  Tons of little tender mercies and I continually learn everyday.  We went on exchanges again this week because President asked us to go on at least two this transfer.  This was the first time that I left our area and went down to 2nd ward and let's just say I was homesick for our area the entire time.  I guess it's true that you don't realize how much you care about the people or the place until you're gone.  Transfers are coming up next week and I don't want to leave at all.  The Office Elders say there's a pretty good chance I'll stay here with Sister LaPorte and I sure hope it's true.  But as hard as it is to accept it, this statement has brought me peace and comfrot, "Not my will, but thine, be done."  Heavenly Father knows where I need to go and if I'm here in Baton Rouge for another transfer it means there's still more I need to learn before I go.  And if I go it means there's someone there that needs me, or I need.  Either way He knows me better than I know myself.  I'll be letting ya know next week what the news is though. 
Here's a couple miracles:
numero uno:  Sister Smith invited us over for dinner to say thank you for helping us move her into her new home.  I'm not sure if I told you about her before, but anyways she told us at dinner that when she first saw us she was in a super bad mood and wanted to be really mean to us.  We asked her if we could carry her clothes out and she kept saying no but we were persistant and kept trying. Eventually she let us in and she was so grateful.  Service is the key to opening anyones heart!
numero dos:  Pecan pie is the most delicious pie I have ever eaten.  We'll just leave it at that.  :)  
numero tres:  Sunday afternoon we were visiting Sister Givens when she got a call saying that another sister's grandson had just been beaten to death so she had to go over to see her.  She didn't want to tell us who it was but randomly she asked us if we knew Sister Evans and we said yes so we drove right over and to see if she was alright.  We called the Elders on the way because they texted us asking when the last time we saw Sister Evans was and they said they saw her earlier but she wouldn't let them in.  As soon as she saw it was us she let us in and gave us both big hugs.  (have in mind that Sister LaPorte had never met her and I'd only met her once before and it was way back in march.  We were able to bring her comfort in knowing that all will be right and she will see him again.  It was such a tender mercy!! 
President Wall has asked us to send him what we've learned through the Book of Mormon throughout the week so I figured I might as well send it to y'all as well.  Becuase let's face it...you can always learn new things through the Book of Mormon.  Something that really stood out to me this morning was in Mosiah 7:13 "...if ye had known me ye would not have suffered that I should have worn these bands."  This is Ammon speaking to the king, but I turned it around to us and Christ.  When we really come to know Christ and all that he has done for us how is it possible for us to keep on going in our sins?  The idea of an infinite atonement to me is that Christ still suffers for the things we do.  So as we are continually trying to come unto Christ, we must remember that it's our actions and choices that still affect Christ.  And then one more scripture in Mosiah 7:25 "For if this people had not fallen into transgression the Lord would not have suffered that this great evil should come upon them."  Because we are given our agency we get to choose everything we do.  Everything we go through is so that we can learn and grow, He loves us enough to hurt us so that we can become who He would have us be.   
SARAH!! two dates in two week...what is this?!  Thank you for your letter! I know, I know I've been slacking major at writing anyone back a letter and I'm so sorry for that.  It always makes my day when I see that y'all still care about me enough to send a letter when I haven't sent you one back.  I loved the pictures you sent.  Tell Dee I say hi and that y'all look gorgeous.  And Hannah is engaged?  holy cow!  I knew it was coming but tell her congrats for me.  Also you should send a picture of all these people you've been hanging out with.  :)  I'll try taking some more pictures as well. 
Andrew thank you, thank you, thank you for the cd's you burned off!!  I must admit, there's some pretty great ones from you.  My personal favorite is the nashville contribute or whatever it's called.  So how was Europe?  Did you get to see lots of people from your mission and all?  I've decided that once I return home from my mission I'm gonna move back to BR 1st ward and buy a huge van and drive around picking up everyone for church on sunday.  Seriously it will be the greatest, and our ward is like a big giant family!!  Y'all will have to come back and visit with me. 
Emily!  What are your plans for summer...ya know it's just around the corner!  Go get a job or something and do something with all that extra time.  Don't be some lazy bum that sits on the couch all day.  :)  oh and hey you could call up the missionaries and go out teaching with them...they'd love it!  I promise missionary work is nothing like you'd ever expect, but it's so awesome.  Write to me you little stinker...in a couple weeks you'll have no excuse of homework and what not. 
Happy Mother's Day Mom!!  I know I'm early when I can just tell you next week on the phone but I just want to let you know how much I love you.  Last night we were sitting at the Wleh's home.  She's the single mom with six daughters and the oldest two were just laughing up a storm with their mom.  It made me think of you and Sarah and Emily.  I miss y'all so much and everything we'd do together.  Thank you for being the greatest mom I could ask for and always putting others before yourself.  You're the greatest!! 
And Dad I hope you're getting busy out there planting flowers for mom!  As tradition calls I would be out there with ya...if only circumstances would allow.  Holy cow and I just have to say, there's this dog down here that some members own that's part wolf/german sheperd.  It's the hugest thing I have ever seen and also just like Annie, always wanting to be scratched.  I love you so much Dad and thanks for your constant example. 
Well I'm off to go clean our apartment for inspections.  Can't wait to hear from y'all on Sunday!!  Think of any questions you have for me and yeah.  I might possibly call Mom's cell phone incase Andrew and Sarah can't be there so we can all conference call in.  We'll see what happens. 
Love y'all!!
Sister Schmutz