Monday, February 25, 2013

Mission Field

Dear Family,
It's been such a crazy week but oh so amazing!  My first area is in North Baton Rouge and yes, our apartment is really close to the office.  But the mission home is a little bit aways.  President and Sister Wall are the best.  It's weird because I've only just met him but I also feel so close.   
The ward and people here are absolutely amazing.  They're all so dedicated to the work of the Lord and so friendly.  It amazes me how some people will give up so much for the Lord.  And I've realized that nothing will happen in the ward if it wasn't for the members.  So my advice to you guys is to become involved in the ward, it's so important!!  Only being at church one sunday it already feels like home.  The ward is very diverse and the people are great.   
So about the area...we're the first Sister missionaries in this ward for I think like twenty years or something crazy like that so everyone's so excited we're here!  My companion, Sister Calderwood and I are basically opening up the area because there's so many single ladies that the Elder's couldn't visit so it's all up to us.  It's crazy because we're both brand new to the area so this past week we've just had to start fresh and go around visiting tons of people.  There's a couple hundred members in the ward except most don't come to church, actually hardly any do.  So that's our main goal, the less actives.
We do have a car and guess who gets to drive?  I do!  Haha the first couple days were weird driving because everyone drives so differently here and it's so easy to get lost with no mountains.  Seriously if we didn't have a GPS I wouldn't be able to find my way anywhere.  It's been raining a lot but it's not humid yet.  Everyone says in the summer it feels like you can cut the air it's so thick.  It's interesting though because the grass never fully dries.  We go running every morning and there's always little puddles and the grass is always, it's different. 
Sister Calderwood is from Alaska and she's actually a temple square missionary but she's been here for the past couple transfers and will be heading back there in a couple weeks to complete her mission.  You'll have to go down and see if you can see her because she's amazing.  I love how your companion always knows exactly how to help you.  She says that your first transfer there will always be miracles and there definitely has been.  
The other day this guy named Andrew called the mission office saying he met some missionaries in Mexico and he went to church with them once and he wants to be baptized!!  So they referred him to us and we got to teach him once and he came to church yesterday.  Truly it's a miracle.  He has a lot to do before he can get baptized but I love how it's all up to him and he decided to do everything himself.   
Oh and another miracle, listen to how crazy this is.  Our zone leaders, Elder Burch and Elder Franke have been showing us around the area because they're also serving in our ward.  We went to teach a less active family with them and get this, they left their car on with all the doors unlocked for the whole hour or what not we were inside and miraculously their car wasn't stolen.  The family said that they were so lucky because it wasn't the best neighborhood in town.  The Lord really does watch over all the little things we do.  
Anyways I love hearing how you guys are doing!  And yes, I haven't even been in Louisiana a full week and I already went to an LSU game.  That's awesome that you got the picture of me.  The Elders in the picture are our zone leaders.  The sister that sent it to you is from another ward but yeah.  
I love you all so much and hope you're doing well.  Sarah and Emily be sure to write me next week you little stinkers, I want to hear about everything.  
Love Always, Sister Schmutz
p.s. I absolutely love it down here.  :)

Just a Little More

I did take pictures of my district and what not at the MTC but I'll probably just send home the SD Card in a couple weeks.  I'm trying to figure out what else to send you guys though.  There's lots of cajun spices and stuff at the grocery want any of that?  Some members said there's this candy bar only sold in Louisiana around Easter that's really good..  Just let me know.  :)
Oh and I couldn't see the pictures that you pasted in your email so next time attach them. 
So Andrew in answer to your questions, we currently only have one investigator (Andrew) but we are working on finding more people.  Let's just say it's a work in progress.  Haha how's your girlfriend doing?  Emily refers to Alex as your girlfriend or your soon to be girlfriend..which one is it? :)
Sorry this email is so random, I just have more time so I thought I'd say a couple more things.  Dad how do I do that thing on the bike?  We only have to ride our bike once a week or when we're short on miles but I'm not sure how you do that or lock it really....that could be bad, but I'll try to figure it out. 
Sarah who is this Jeremy Kener-Jones kid?  You should just email me because letters will take way to long to get unless you send it to my apartment complex.  Last week we got a paper that said they'd send it home to our parents too so hopefully you guys got it, if not just send your letters to the mission office but that means I probably won't get it for a while.
Emily my best adivce to studying the scriptures would be to ask questions and find your answers in the scriptures.  I still don't even understand what's going on when I just read, but when I'm looking for specific things it's more meaningful.  Like this morning I was reading with the question of how I can help Andrew with his word of wisdom problems.  And in 1 Nephi where he says something along the lines of "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded me for I know that the Lord givith no commandments until the children of men save he shall prepare a way that we may accomplish." It made me think that the word of wisdom is a commandment and it's through the Atonement that the Lord has provided a way for us to keep the commandment.  I hope that all makes sense.  
Mom keep up the good work, you're doing wonderful.  And at least one of my favorite girls back home writes to me every week.  *cough Sarah and Emily cough* haha just kidding guys.   
I love each and every one of you so much.  Possibly even including Tye.  Tell both Grandma's hi and everyone back in the ward and that I love them.  
Love Always,  Sister Schmutz  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

First Week Done!

Dear Family,
Boy what a crazy first week it's been here in the MTC.  I'm not gonna lie, the first couple days I hated it just because it felt like a giant EFY.  But now I'm loving it and feel so blessed to be here.  From learning so much everyday and trying to see how to express yourself in lessons I've learned that I didn't know anything before I got here!  Haha not that I haven't learned anything from you guys or from church or what not.  But just the idea that you have to actually communicate your feelings and put what you know into words.
We study so much here and it's overwhelming, but it makes me so much more excited to get out in the field.  So far we've taught "Adam" who is our teacher acting as someone else four times.  And then in the TRC which is with real people from the real word we've taught Michelle twice and Joy once.  The experiences in the TRC are so amazing because it's real life and exactly how it will be out in the mission field.  It's hard teaching them to know exactly what they need, but seeing them change is amazing. 
I think the biggest thing I've learned is that you have to open up and be vulnerable to others so that they will feel comfortable and open with you.  Also, you have to become truly converted yourself before you can teach others so I better get to work. 
I'm so glad to hear that you received my letter and all is going well.  So yes, my p-days in the MTC are on thursdays.  I guess I should've told you that in the first letter I wrote except I didn't actually get around to writing it down.  Just know that I'm doing well, learning, growing, staying obedient, and exercising my faith. 
My district is completely awesome.  There's four sisters and we're all going to Louisiana.  And then there's eight elders that are either going to St. George or Louisiana.  The elders going to Louisiana include Elder Mecham, Elder Gillin, and Elder Larkin,  along with Sister Ballantyne, Sister Paulson, and Sister Leiter.  And then the elders going to St. George are Elder Bradford, Elder Grover, Elder Dawson, and Elder Patterson.  It will be crazy to see how all of them change over the next two years, because really I can already see them changing in this past week.  From spending basically 24/7 with your district you learn to love and appreciate them all so much.  I'm really going to miss all of them when we get out in the field, except I'm so excited. 
Of course you want to hear every detail so I'm writing as fast as I can despite the fact that the computer keeps freezing.  On Sunday I gave a talk in church!  Haha I was so nervous because here's what they did, they told everyone to prepare a 3-5 minute talk on faith and then they'd ask a few missionaries to share it in sacrament meeting.  And so yes, I was called on with one other elder.  I was super nervous but it went well.  I talked about the brother of Jared and how he didn't need faith anymore because he didn't doubt.  It was cool because Sister Ballantyne said that when she saw me up there she pictured how confident I'll be at the end of my mission and how I'll be so different, in a good way. 
We got our flight information and we'll be leaving here next tuesday at 3am.  Our flight is at 6am and then we have a layover somewhere in Texas.  So my question to you guys is do you want me to call you?  I know it will be in the middle of the day when my layover is and I also heard the prepaid phone cards you can get here aren't working.  So I'm leaving it up to you guys whether or not I should call.  So please write to me as soon as you decide so I know what to do!! 
Happy Birthday yesterday Dad!!!  I hope it was a good one and I was thinking of you.  Along with that enjoy your valentine's day everyone and eat some delicious food for me.  But speaking of, the food in the MTC is actually pretty good.  Although I do have to say the best part is getting ice cream every wednesday because it's tradition to welcome in the new missionaries.  It does feel like I eat three dinners a day though because there's so much food.
We have six beds in our room right now with only four sisters in it so we thought we'd be getting more sisters yesterday except we didn't.  I hear that we're one of the first groups on the two week program instead of the three week regular program so everything is all crazy and mashed together.  It's hard to sleep at night because that's the only time we have to let our brains think and get caught up because literally every second is planned out for you.  But it's all so worth it. 
It really makes me appreciate the elders and sisters that have gone on before me because a mission is no easy task.  I'm so grateful for Dad and Andrew for their example of serving missions, and along with them Jed.  It's a lot of hard work and dedication, and walking in their footsteps I'm able to see that they really are blessed. 
Oh and before I forget, thank you for all the letters and packages!  I love hearing everything going on back home.  Haha some of the elders in my district say I get the most letters and packages and always wonder who they're from, and I always just say my awesome family!!  The Loosle's sent me a Valentine's Day card so please thank them for me, it meant so much receiving that!  Keep sending your wonderful letters. 
I love you all so much and look forward to hearing from you soon.  Sorry this email is so random, there's so much I want to say but not enough time.  Write me with any specific questions!!
Love always,  Sister Schmutz
p.s. since I'm arriving in Louisiana next tuesday you might not get to hear from me until the following monday.  But nevertheless, know that I am safe and doing well.  I hear that tuesday is Mardi Gras so we'll be spending a couple days at the mission home and going to the temple on wednesday, but we shall see!!