Monday, March 18, 2013

Mississippi River

Dear Family,
This week we touched the Mississippi River!!  Sister Calderwood, Janet, and I just so happened to be visiting a sister in our ward that recently had a heart attack and she asked us to pick up her medication and groceries.  She lives what we like to call downtown just because the houses are closer together and it's far away from where we live.  So anyways we were trying to find somewhere to eat afterwards so I started driving and there was the Mississippi so we went and touched it.  Not as big as I was expecting and unfortunately there's no gators in the river, but it was still awesome.  Oh and I took a couple pictures...:) they're kinda blurry and I hope I'm uploading the right ones.  enjoy  :)

Mom we don't have a set time we can email each week, but usually we email for about an hour to an hour and a half.  Basically we just limit ourselves because there is no set limit, and there's things to do besides emailing all day.  The craziest thing I've eaten would be pig tail and fried pizza.  I had jambalaya for the first time this past week, we actually made it for lunch and it was tasty.  Our ward is the Baton Rouge 1st ward and we're the only ward that meets there.  I believe there's four wards total in Baton Rouge.  The zone leaders, Elder Burch and Franke and the office elders, Elder Bawden and Johnson are in our ward.  Along with Sister and Elder Olsen.
Sarah I did get your letter, thanks so much for creating the planner cover, it's awesome!!  I'll write to you more in a letter.  Andrew it's crazy how much homework and things you have to do.  Keep up the good work buddy!   
It's so crazy that I'm getting a new companion this week.  We don't even know when Sister Calderwood is flying back yet or anything.  I really don't want her to leave, but definitely be sure to go find her.  She says at temple square they have certain places they have to be throughout the day like giving tours in certain visitors centers.  But I'll email her next week and try to find out when you guys can come find her.  She's got red hair that's hard to miss.  :) oh and don't worry, I'm starting to take more pictures now. 
It's been a pretty great week here in Louisiana.  And boy let me just say, it's starting to get hot already and the humidity is picking up.  On Saturday we did service the entire day which was awesome!  It was the first day on the mission where I didn't change into a skirt for the entire day.  The majority of the day we cleaned up someones huge yard that just hasn't been taken care of.  It's a huge project and basically half of our zone was there.  And then we surprised a potential investigator we met the other day by raking up all her leaves.  I love completely surprising people like that because whenever we ask to help everyone always says no.  But when we just go and do the work they're so grateful. 
Something cool I've learned this week is how the Lord really is hastening his work.  Someone mentioned how the strongest families they know are the ones where both parents have served missions.  And I think it's true.  Being on a mission I've learned so much and I've definitely changed.  I've changed in the way I'm going to raise my family and in who I am as a disciple of Christ.  The world is getting so much stronger in influencing families and people.  And as members of the church it's our responsibility to step up to our calling and act.  There's so many families down here that know what they need to be doing but just don't do it.  I wish I could just show them how their entire life will change when they put God first. 
Here's the ABC's of life:
Believe in Yourself
I think they pretty much cover everything. 

It's always the constant effort that really counts for all missionaries.  I feel like we're always planning to visit these people and we drive around all over the place and yet no one's home.  But awhile back President Wall said to remember that Heavenly Father is aware of our intentions and he is grateful for the effort we put into the work.  Not every second has to be full of teaching others.  But just like our mission purpose says, we're here to love, serve, and teach.  The best thing we can do is help them understand the love that Christ has for them.  
But anyways, nothing really too exciting happened this week.  Or at least nothing too crazy did.  I love being here and all the people that are here.  There's lots of work to do.
Love you all so much!

Love Always, Sister Schmutz

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pig Tail

Dear Family,
It's so crazy to think I've already been gone a month.  Everything is going by so fast and I can hardly believe it.  But then again, everyone says the MTC doesn't actually count so technically I haven't even been here a month yet, but we're coming up on it. 
A day doesn't go by that I don't fall more in love with Louisiana and the people here.  A mission seriously is the best!  Oh and speaking of missions, Emily did you ever get my letter?  I sent one the same day as Sarah's except I put a couple more pieces of paper in yours so I'm not sure it actually got to you.  And I put the mission office as the return address so who knows, maybe it was returned there becasue it was too fat to send with just one stamp.  Haha and Dee since I know you'll be reading this I sent a letter to you with just a regular stamp and I'm hoping they'll just send it to you anyways despite the fact that it's out of the country.  I haven't received it back in the mail yet so we shall see. 
Oh and want to hear the greatest news?!  We can now email friends and anybody we want!!  I guess since there's so many missionaries going out now they changed the white handbook and all missionaries can email more than family.  So Sarah be sure to change that on the blog and I'll try my best to respond to any emails.  I don't have anyones email right now so I can't really email them...but I'll email back!   
Emily, a to do list would be great or maybe a bucket list paper.  In zone meeting and just with Sister Calderwood the other day we decided it would be awesome to create a bucket list of things to do during the transfer.  So here's a couple on our list so far...we only have a week left together though so I'll let you know how things go.  Our list includes: sticking our foot in the Mississippi River, eating possum, see a live alligator, eat beignets (fried scones with powder sugar), get matching t-shirts, and yeah.  Don't worry, we're still working hard on mission work, these are just little side things.  :)  Oh and not to mention I've got the greatest christmas present in mind for you guys.  Maybe I'll just have to send it earlier, or as soon as I go buy it, but it will be a sweet surprise.   
Sarah definitely get an early morning custodial job, it'd be sweet.  Haha don't ask me how, but we got to bed every night at 10:30 and wake up at 6:30 and yet I'm still so dead tired.  I can only imagine you waking up so early'll be like a walking zombie.  Which will be pretty hilarious.  Oh and before I forget, I've been meaning to tell you that you guys can wear all my clothes and what not except for the shirt Jed gave me from Nepal.  Well, I actually wouldn't mind having you guys wear that except if you ruin it you'll have to go all the way back to Nepal to get me a matching one. 
Oh yeah and I got a letter from Nik today!  A big surprise but he's doing great, Sarah.  Here's something funny he said that I can relate to, "This might sound strange...When I was called to be a trainer I felt like a young father with a lot of excitements and fears."  I'm not even a trainer yet but I know how this feels.  We like to call our trainers mom and then it's cool because we're all related.  And then my moms trainer will be my grandma.  And others she trained will be my sisters.      
Mom and Dad man I miss you guys so much!  I love hearing how everythings going back home and in the ward.  We have ward conference next week which I'm looking forward to.  And then guess who gets to speak the next sunday?  Yours truly gets to.  Man that will make me speaking at church once a month for the past three months.  January for my farewell.  February at the MTC.  March in Louisiana.  Maybe I'll just have to keep up the record and ask to talk every month.
Andrew, it was nice hearing from you too...oh wait.  Haha just kidding, I know you're busy with school and what not.  I just wanted to say hi.  :) 
Man our ward here is absolutely amazing though.  It's crazy too because the three main white families are all moving out within a couple months so basically there goes all the white people in our ward, along with the whole primary.  But I love all the black people, they're hilarious and so funny.  Being here makes me think of Jed and all the black people he must be teaching in Africa, truly awesome!   
You will never believe what I ate this week....pig tail!  Haha we went to a members home for dinner and the basic staple of Louisiana food is red beans so she cooked that for us along with pig tails.  I wasn't going to eat any but the Elders said I should so I took a couple bites and it wasn't that was interesting though.  Sister Calderwood's eaten gator and she says it's seriously the best.  I'm looking forward for that day to come.  But really the food is good down here.  They have all these restaurants that they don't have at home, but are so good.  I already know I'll miss a couple like Waffle House and Cane's.    
Let's see...this week was successful and good.  We're teaching the Wleh family in our ward because she's a single mom with six girls and they're kinda less active.  But boy the culture is so different down here, I have no idea how to make them all pay attention and want to learn.  So Mom, with your primary expertize what advice do you have?  They're the cutest kids but the influence of the world is so strong in their lives.  
Since I haven't really described Louisiana to you I guess it's about time I do...or at least more detail about Baton Rouge.  So if you're looking on a map we have basically the whole area north of the interestates, there's no definitely boundaries.  Our ward building is on Winbourne which is just like fifteen minutes away but way on the other side of town.  The stake center is the one right by the temple that we saw on google earth.  Louisiana is all so flat but there's lots of big trees.  The other day we drove way up north to visit a member and everywhere around her house was just a forest, it felt like what Louisiana should feel like.  Baton Rouge is super confusing because all the main roads have two names.  And so yes, even though I've been here for three weeks or so, I still get lost.  There's some pretty sketchy neighborhoods here but we only go during the day.  And it's not really that bad anyways so don't worry mom.  :)  oh and the leaves fall in the springtime, which is strange.  
You guys are gonna hate me for this but I haven't taken a single picture since I've been here.  I know it's terrible but I'm just the worst at taking pictures.  I'll work on taking some though so I can show you guys what it's like down here.  Man I'll have to remember to tell Jed how grateful I am for all the pictures he always took. 
We met a couple sweet people this past week and hopefully we'll be teaching them this coming week, so I'll save time and tell you about them next week.  Oh and something sweet I've seen down here is how the Bishop's Storehouse works.  We get to help out with it every other Saturday and it's truly amazing how the church work and provides for those in need.  So be sure to pay your fast offerings! 
I'm not really sure what else there is to tell you.  So write back with any questions you want answered.  I love you guys and keep up the great work.  
Love Always,  Sister Schmutz

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tender Mercies

Hi Family!!
Thanks so much for the sweet pictures you sent in your email, haha I loved the one with the rice.  :)  you would never believe it but we went to a chinese buffet twice within the past week.  I never thought I'd eat so much chinese food in Louisiana, but whoever thought of a chinese buffet was a genius.  You should've seen it, the members that took us to one of them ate five plates, and yet they're stick skinny.  Anyways, enough about the food. 
 In answer to your question about questions, please send all your questions together otherwise I won't answer all of them.  And you still need to answer my question about what I should send you guys in a package soon.  Mom I'll try to find some shampoo sometime soon, don't worry about sending any to me, it's all good!  I'm not entirely sure when I received your letter because we don't check our mail everyday because it's so far away from our apartment, but it was definitely here by Sunday if that helps at all.  And thank you so much for sending it! 
So the story behind Temple Square missionaries...they all get called to serve there, but while there everyone gets called out of bound for four months or something like that so they can actually experience what proselyting missions are like.  So we get lots of them and yeah.  :)  they're all awesome missionaries.  Sister Calderwood is going back to Temple Square March 20 and will be there until the rest of her mission, so be sure to stop by and see her if you can.  I'll have to send you a picture sometime so you know who to look for.  Since the transfer isn't over before March 20 President Wall said I'll be getting another missionary from Temple Square as my companion.  Which shall be interesting because they all say it's so different...I kinda feel like I'll be training her which is weird since I'm not even done being trained yet, and she'll know more than me.  But nevertheless I'm looking forward to it. 
Haha I'm glad we have a car too, this week we decided to ride our bikes one day because our District Leader said it was bike day.  Yeah, um not a good idea.  It actually wasn't too bad except for the fact that we live right next to a real busy road and there's no bike lane.  So we only went to one house and then came home and got the car.  But I hear the thing to do is drive to a big neighborhood and then ride your bike around in there.  But we shall see.  Our District Leader is also one of the Office Elders though so we always catch rides with them and he says to not worry about miles too much as long as we're using them wisely. 
Mom if you do plan on sending a package soon you should send the purple shirt I got from Kohl's that I left along with a couple more t-shirts.  But no worries if don't.  I'll just get some awesome ones from a thrift store nearby to remind me of this crazy place.  However, if you are thinking about sending an Easter package or something I've thought of a couple things you could include, but ya know only if you are already planning on sending it because otherwise I don't really need any of this stuff.  So here's my list so far... sweatshirt, lotion, sharpie finepoint minis, more skirts and tops, t-shirts, and CDs.  The only CD I've really been able to think of is Jonsi.  I believe that's who it is, the people that did the music on We Bought A Zoo.  Or just that soundtrack would be great.  I don't really know, just any CD that's uplifting and not annoying like motab or anything like that would be great.  We spend forever driving so it would just be nice not listening to the same CD's over again.  Also you can put music onto a USB which will play in the car as well.  So if you're not too busy that would be wonderful.  And have I mentioned that you guys are the best?  :)
So the story behind's a long story but unfortunately he dropped us kinda.  We taught him the word of wisdom and he was set on giving up smoking and drinking but over the remainder of the week he kinda gave up hope.  And then on Saturday we called him and basically he said he doesn't think he can do it and because of that he doesn't think the Church is right for him.  It was hard hearing this because he was so dedicated and willing.  But we continue to pray for him and I know sometime he'll come around and be able to quit smoking.  
I've learned to just love the people here, there's so many amazing ones.  Two distinct ones are Sister Matthews and Manny.  Both of their spouses aren't members and yet they give up so much time to the church and stay faithful throughout everything.  Sister Matthews husband was even almost baptized but then his church knew he was becoming converted so they gave him a calling to teach and he's been doing that ever since.  They both have such strong faith and hope that one day everything will be okay.   
Dad that's awesome you got to clean the SLC Temple this past week.  It sounds like such an awesome experience and I'm looking forward to going with you when I'm back home.  Our mission goal is to teach 20 lessons per week.  The first week we taught 10 and the second week we taught 12, so we're working on it.  Just this past week we actually got to interview with President Wall which was great.  President Wall and Sister Wall were the second people this week to take us to a chinese buffet.  But oh man, he always knows how to uplift and encourage you, he's the best.  Haha and I'm glad there was no "Grande Place" like in Brussels because I would've been freaking out. 
Tell Scott congrats on his baptism, that's awesome news! 
Yo Sarah, I can't believe I've been out a month this week.  It feel like I've been out for years, but then at the same time I feel like I just got here, it's weird.  Oh and hey I got a letter from Dee and she said to write her back soon except I don't have any Canadian stamps so tell her it might be a little while, or maybe I'll just send it with a couple American stamps.  When does spring semester start?  and have you signed up for any exciting classes yet?  Our apartment is pretty nice if I do say so myself, it's tiny but homy if that's even a word.  We finally got a bunk bed this past week!  That's crazy about everyone getting their mission calls.  Haha and when I went to mission prep once I asked Annie if she was going to go and she said no...I guess she changed her mind.  I did get your letter actually last monday but I didn't have time to respond so I'm sending something today.  I have a sweet project for you and Emily to do together but I'll explain it in the letter, you'll need to open your creative minds.    
Emily I need an actual letter to write you back, it's true what Sarah said.  I'll only write you back if you write me a hand written letter.  So get on that you little stinker.  :) and write me emails too.  I love you guys and tell Andrew I say hi too. 
Okay so before I forget I just wanted to tell you little miracles I've seen this week. 
Numero uno: Sister Wiggins (this crazy awesome black lady, recent convert, first person I met in the ward) well we went to visit her and were thinking we could talk about the temple and baptisms for the dead since she's been a member for a couple months.  Turns out another member from the ward went to see her in the morning and talked about the same thing but she didn't want to tell them why she didn't want to go to the temple for her family.  We got talking and she was able to open up with us and she told us all these terrible things her family did to her, but we talked about Joseph from Egypt and Nephi with his brothers.  And it all just clicked in her head that she still needed to get baptized from them despite the fact that she hates them.  You woud've had to been there. 
Numero dos: Sister Nope (elderly widow, super nice lady, her house is like a legit castle. not even joking) we went to rake her leaves and yeah I'm just gonna paste the story from what I told President Wall in the weekly email (A little tender mercy I was able to experience this week was serving a lady in our ward. She's a widow and we stopped by her house the other day but she wasn't there. We noticed she had lots of leaves in her yard so we decided to come back and rake them up for her. When we came back she didn't answer but we just got to work. And here's the amazing part, when she got home she said her yard guy was supposed to come tonight to clean up the leaves except he hadn't come. It was perfect timing on our part becasue he came while we were there but saw we were already doing it so he just left. And then later talking to her she told us that if we would've asked her to rake the leaves she would have said no because she doesn't like asking people for help. She said we were little angels for coming and working so hard. It's moments like these that help me see the Lord has a hand in everything we do. He's mindful of every little thing and while we serve him he blesses us in the simplist ways.) 
Numero tres: Janet (yw, called us to come with us, amazing) she called us up Saturday morning asking if she could come out with us today so of course we said yes.  Well, that's basically all but it was a little miracle because when I was 17 there's no way I'd call up the missionaries to see if I could go out with them. 
Anyways, that's about all.  I love you guys so much, keep up the good work. 
Love Always, Sister Schmutz