Letter #91

Dear Family and Friends,

The photos were from an activity we put together on Saturday. There are 4 returned missionaries in the branch, and 4 full time missionaries, us, so we divided up into 8 groups, and then separated the rest of the members into one of the groups. Our focus was on the area around the chapel, so we handed each group a couple less actives to visit nearby, to see if they could help, but also to see if the address was even right (usually they´re way outdated).

And in our ninety minutes we were able to visit twenty less actives, and talking with people in the street and neighbors of the members, 44 referrals. My group even ended up bringing a less-active to the second half of the activity. We all returned, talked about what we did, a couple people bore their testimonies, and then it was off to lunch, which was stroganoff, followed by açai and cupuaçu. Delicious.

Finally, the members went at it with soccer and some other games while the three Americans handled all others at the ping-pong table. Aunt Janel beware,  #undefeated. It turned out to be a fantastic activity where perhaps the most lasting effect to be felt will be the members themselves as the morale went way up in regards to member missionary work, including several youth with a new or increased desire to serve full time.

On Wednesday we had our zone conference, where literally everything went off with out a hitch. That’s not rare, it’s impossible, but somehow it happened. Even lunch turned out to be fantastic. It was the last zone conference for Pres. and Sis. Young so we planned a surprise: God Be With You ´til We Meet Again song and then presented them with shirts and a poster.

And after trying to think about how to give a new twist on an old subject, i.e. following up and accountability, we turned to the story of the creation in Genesis and Abraham 4 and brought the house down.

 

Thursday was our interview with Pres. Young. My temple recommend would be expiring at the end of the month, so I was able to renew that, and was touched thinking about answering the same questions to return to our Heavenly Father. Just a thought, but it made my smile bigger and bigger thinking about returning to His presence, or the temple. And one of our district leaders was sent packing, opening up space for a new one, and now I am so grateful for the missionaries we have in our zone, I couldn´t have picked them better.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #90

Dear Family and Friends,

It was wonderful to talk to everyone yesterday. Priceless. I love you guys so much. As mentioned, yesterday was the baptism of Juliana. She moved from Rio de Janeiro a couple of weeks ago, and we knocked on her door, our first day here. She lives right next to the chapel, thirty seconds away walking. It´s been amazing to see her resolution, and while young, has a couple of kids that are loving Primary, which is nice to see.

This morning we woke up early, and headed to a giant hill, called Morro do Moreno. It sits right on the bay and we enjoyed some wonderful views of Vitória and Vila Velha and Serra. We could see basically 70% of the population of Espirito Santo.

And Saturday, we were blessed with a miracle. Romildo, 49, stopped us on the street and asked us some questions. I thought initially he was drunk, but it turns out he wasn´t, it was just the long term effect of some of his choices. Why do I say that? Because he has a great desire to change. And it’s never too late.

He went to church yesterday, and invited a bunch of his friends, and really does have a desire to come to Christ. I´ve thought a lot lately about Alma the Younger. Reading the Book of Mormon, I noticed something interesting. If you look at Mosiah 29:45, and Mosiah 27, you will see that Alma, the Elder was about 80 when his son repented and turned to the Lord. This changed my perception of Alma the Younger, because when he changed he wasn´t young! Maybe 40-50, or even older. Yet, it really is never too late. I am so grateful for the gift of repentance in my life, the chance to change, and for the grace of our Savior which makes it all possible.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #89

Dear Family and Friends,

I´m loving Terra Vermelha. The members are great here, and very excited. Until a couple months ago, everyone was meeting in an old apartment building, but the newly constructed chapel was dedicated 2 months ago. The members even like to clean it, thankful for what they now have. And, the branch is just about ready to send some papers off, in preparation to turn a ward!

Although right next to the beach, this is I think the poorest area I´ve been in. none of the roads are even paved, and as the name says, the soil is red. Yesterday, we had one couple, Carlos+Luciana, and a young women, Juliana, visit the church. They all loved it. Everybody is very humble and receptive. One caveat, is no one, no one is legally married. But, its normal, so the branch is used to hosting marriages. We enjoyed one on Saturday, and its the plan for Carlos and Luciana. E. kimball Hatch is from Gilbert, arizona, good pioneer stock and so far its been truly wonderful to have E. Hatch and E. Lighten here. They both will go to BYU after the mission. E. Lighten´s companion is E. Dias from Cape Verde, or in other words, there isn´t any brasilians here, which is unusual.

I actually picked up Aunt Janel´s package last week, and have been enjoying all the goodies. Whatever Porter wants, I´ll bring back. Except for socks, and white shirts. We´re planning on using google hangout about 4 or 5 pm here, which is 2 or 3 in Texas.

We´re continuing our study about repentance, and my testimony of that principal continues to grow,.Reading in Alma 19:36, “And thus the work of the Lord did commence among the Lamanites; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them; and we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name.”

And I’ve definitely seen that promise fulfilled. All of our investigators, as they start to repent, have been magnificently blessed, both temporally and spiritually. I know that as we repent, making the small changes necessary in our lives to become like our Savior, we are blessed in all aspects of our lives, and the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are around us.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #88

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was without doubt the craziest on my mission. Monday night, President Young called and said that we needed to go to Vitória that same night, ASAP, so we threw everything in our suitcases and headed out. We arrived late at night, and spent the next day in Vitória, before heading to Serra, my old stomping ground.

We finished the week there, and I was informed today, that I will now be going to Vila Velha, Terra Vermelho Branch. It´s one place I’ve wanted to serve basically since my mission started, so I´m very excited and happy. My companion, again, will be an American, Elder Hatch.

I´m looking forward to our Skype on Mother’s Day, but since I´ll be in a new area, I don’t know anything right now. If you could get a time, and send it next Monday that would help.

During our week in Serra, we baptized Magleisse and Ana Paula, sisters. It was cool, as I had actually taught them the first lesson about two weeks ago on a split with the assistants, and then was able to come back and see the end. We traded places with the AP´s, they went to Colatina for the week.
I know that this isn´t much information, but we´ll talk in a little bit and I´ll let you know more. It’s nice to know, that wherever I go, be it Colatina, Serra, or Vila Velha, the church is the same. And it´s true. I am so glad to be able to share that message with everyone I meet.
Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #87

Dear Family and Friends,
The highlight this week was visiting the city of Baixo Guandu. We did splits there with the elders on Thursday. We witnessed miracles; had a meeting with people and helped prepare them in regards to opening up a new part of the town. The new area will require going across a river to Aimores, Minas Gerais, which as part of another state, was recently annexed to our mission and has never seen missionaries.
In Baixo Guandu, the church has been there for only two years, and has a total of five families who go to church- so it was a huge miracle to stumble across a family of members who recently moved to this city, and did not know about the church.
And beyond seeing the work progress, we also enjoyed one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, as well as seeing the worlds largest coconut.

This weekend Pres. Young visited and conducted our interviews- I learned priceless lessons watching him deal patiently and lovingly with all of the missionaries.

 

 

The barbecue streak continued when Uncle Zach´s old mission friend again treated us to restaurant fare- the most famous restaurant of the city- Agua Viva. 10/10. And barbecue yesterday after church. I´m going vegetarian today.
Therezinha, baptized two weeks ago, full of health problems, entered into the hospital last weekend, and was therefore not confirmed, receiving instead the news that she also has diabetes. Nevertheless, she was present yesterday to receive the Holy Ghost and bore a tearful testimony full of joy that touched everyone.
And as I heard, I knew again why the mission is so important. I´m so glad to be able to see lives change, hearts soften, and souls saved.
Love,
Elder Schenewark

Letter #86

Dear Family and Friends,

Last Monday, we had two missionaries over, before we all headed for Vitória the next day. And one of them, Elder Lighten, from Utah had found and purchased “Colonizadores de Catan” aka, Settlers of Catan. So our preparation day was spent in a classic duel to colonize Catan.

Tuesday morning early, we all headed for another bus ride to Vitória for our zone conference. Elder Dial and I gave training on “Relationships with the opposite sex.” We stayed the day, and split with the assistants to the Presidents. After briefly setting foot in Colatina, it was off again, this time to Linhares to conduct a baptismal interview.

Easter here is a lot different here in Colatina. I don´t remember anything special about last year, but with a larger Catholic population, it is a holiday very important in Colatina. One tradition that is interesting deals with Saint Lucia. All the kids leave out a bowl filled with grass for her horse, and Saturday at night she stops by and in return for the grass fills the bowl with candy. I don´t think I’ve ever eaten so much chocolate as this week. And barbecue. Not sure how they fit together, but about every single day we’ve had barbecue and chocolate.

On Thursday, as we walked down the street, a construction shop owner called out to us, and we went over. Wilson, received a  bunch of dress pants in payment for a sink or something, and has not had any success in selling them in a neighboring store, so he told us to go over and pick some out, and he would give each of us two pairs. Of course we accepted readily, and I am very thankful for them. And interestingly, the very next day, he sold some for the first time, Thirteen pairs to be exact. #BlessingsforHelpingMissionaries.

In terms of investigators, the progress is slow. That being said, there is progress. Later tonight we´ll have a Family Home Evening with some of them at a member’s house. And more likely than not, it will include barbecue and chocolate.

One of our recent converts has been reading the Book of Mormon consistently and when we visited she said she had not understood 1 Nephi 20, the beginning of the chapters of Isaiah. So we read together, and trying to help her, my understanding was enlarged. In verse 18-19, “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments- then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea. Thy seed also had been as the sand; the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.” And it should be noted, all the blessings come from, keeping the commandments. We have to follow them, as they truly have been given to bless us and help us have joy.

And in verse 10, in a verse that pierces my mind when I am inclined to complain about some hardship: “For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”  We have trials to turn us into the people God would have us be. They are not easy, but they are necessary.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #85

Dear Family and Friends,

This week started with a couple of splits with other missionaries. They were highly productive and got us going towards a great week. Highlights include meeting Waldin, a 74 year old grandmother. She had been praying to know which church she should join, had then subsequently dreamed of the missionaries arriving. And yes, you know the rest of the story. Then we arrived. Unfortunately, serious problems of health prevented her from coming yesterday, but her daughter and granddaughter both visited and loved the church.

Thursday we went to Vitória for our monthly leadership meeting and it was wonderful.

Friday and Saturday were both difficult. Literally everything but rain fell. Our lunches fell through, and almost all our investigators fell through. We had two baptisms planned for Saturday, and they both fell through. It was a sad day, where everything seemed to go wrong. Even with the baptismal font. We had filled it up earlier in the day, but our ward mission leader thought it needed a little more water, so he turned it on again, and then promptly forgot about it. Until it started flooding the whole church. It flooded both bathrooms, a hallway and one classroom. A little bit chaotic, but at least with the design and tiled floors, it didn’t end up causing any lasting damage.

And Sunday, was a day of miracles and new starts. Mariana who had gone incognito Saturday, called us at 10:30 at night, explained the problem and was in church happy to be baptized Sunday. And we hadn’t marked a baptismal date for Therezinha as she had been in the hospital, but unexpectedly was released Saturday night as well, and finally her dream was realized as she was baptized.

Now, I know that what happened to us was nothing compared to what our Savior went through. Nevertheless, we had our afflictions this weekend before the miracles, and more importantly, in the spirit of Easter, I would like to share Elder Wirthlin’s 2006 talk “Sunday Will Come.” Please read it.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/sunday-will-come?lang=eng

And like Elder Wirthlin, I know that Christ is resurrected. He is our Savoir. We likewise can live again and have eternal life. For this reason, we should always have hope. For no matter what we are going through, Christ already conquered and with his grace and help, our Sunday will come, and we will be “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8;17)

Happy Easter, and lots of love!

Elder Schenewark

Letter #84

Dear Family and Friends,

General Conference was a treat, with a definite highlight being the announcement of a new temple in Brasilia. That´s two new temples in two years here. A favorite talk was Elder Hales´, but the last session with an emphasis on the doctrine of Christ, including baptism, and watching together with investigators, helped a lot. One person we are teaching, Ednea, said she has never felt such peace as being in the church and watching conference.

This week was another weak effort taking photos, but I´ll make sure to take some this week (: Our time of having only two in our house has come to an end, as the new missionaries here in Colatina elected to stay at our apartment. Elder Light is from Alaska, and ElderA. Oliveira is from Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. Now with two other American´s, this is a far cry from my time in Campos as the only American in the entire zone. So far it´s been good.

With the announcement of the new temple, I´m reminded of the sacrifice of the saints here. From Colatina, the nearest temple is in São Paulo, which is 18 hours in a bus. but as Pres. Monson has already taught, when we understand the blessings of the temple, whatever sacrifice made is worth it.

Love you!

Elder Schenewark Continue reading Letter #84

Letter #83

Dear Family and Friends,
AHHH!!!!! That was basically my reaction. I was thinking that his call had arrived, and was, together with Tanner, supplicating heaven that he would make a trio of Schenewark´s in Brasil. The news definitely made my day, and I´m glad we´ll have a chance to spend some time together before he leaves. And all of a sudden, family reunions in the future will be held in São Paulo.
Cooper, I’ve said it once already- start learning Portuguese now! Everybody speaks well of the Campinas mission, and it´s home to the temple. I´m definitely very excited for you Porter!! Congratulations!!
I´m going to start with a culinary highlight. An old mission pal of Uncle Zach, Elder Domiciniano, serves in the branch presidency here. We´ve become acquainted and then friends over weekly Friday lunches. It helps that he´s an amateur master chef. I gave him a packet of Rudy´s sauce to use with his smoker, and he reciprocated by bringing us to I think the best barbeque I´ve had on the mission. I wish I had had a camera as it is something I´ll want to remember.
And now for the weather. Colatina continues to be home of the free steam press. We leave, start sweating buckets, and then the sun bakes the shirt. Works nicely. The locals do say that winter is coming, so we´ll see if it continues.

 

Today was yet another transfer, and I´ll be staying another in Colatina with E. Dial. We have a lot of investigators progressing so I´m excited about that.
I am so thankful that the Lord called me to serve here. I know that it is the right place. We are very excited for General Conference here. I know that we have a living prophet on the earth, and following him, we´ll never be led astray.
Love,
Elder Schenewark

Letter #82

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday, we accomplished the triple crown of missionary work: A confirmation, a baptism, and an ordination of a recent convert to the priesthood. We´ll be going after it again this Sunday. So the work is well in Colatina. That was the gem in a week full of them.

Tuesday we went and divided with the assistants. Their area was moved from Vitória to Jardim Limoeiro Ward in Serra. Remember that I served in Serra Ward?

Well, as night was falling we were close to the border between the two wards, and as we walked, we heard a voice calling to us, ´´Elders!´´ We doubled back to see in  the darkness, and then a familiar voice shouted “Schenewark!!!??´´ Truly a miracle. Dayani, one of my first baptisms on the mission, was visiting a friend when she saw us and called us over. I´ve long wanted to see  her again and see how she is doing, so it was definitely a tender mercy. We were able to spend a couple minutes catching up, and I was so happy to hear that while her life is still not without trials, she is firm in the gospel, and going to church every week, preparing to go to the temple. And as she reminded me, yesterday was her one year anniversary as a member (ergo, the ´´one´´ finger in the photo).

We´re preparing for yet another transfer (they keep coming faster and faster) this coming week, as well as a special fireside, to be given by us Sunday, on Tithing and Offerings. Another effort to get the district to a stake.

Love you all!

Elder Schenewark