Its good to hear from you and finally get to be able to write. So I did obviously finally make it to the MTC, although traveling there was seriously awful. But oh well. It was great to see Tanner, AnneMarie and the cousins especially Greg, whom I haven’t seen in forever. He joked that we switched places, me to a mission, him to freshman year of BYU.
So there are 10 people in my district, we all came in on Wednesday speaking Portugueuse. Elder Knudson is from Marysville, California and is the District Leader. His companion is Elder Broyles from Colorado. They are going to the Sao Paulo north mission. There is Elder Pyne from Richardson, Texas, so pretty close to us, and his companion is Elder Smith from some little town in Texas, i think he said Poth. Not sure about that last detail though. They are going to the Salvador Sul mission, north of me in Bahia. There is Sister Doge from Nashville, and Sister Gage from Washington State. Sister Doge is going to Vitoria as well, and Sister Gage is going to Florinapolus, way south. Sharing our room, is Elder Jones from North Carolina. He’s actually from the Duncan’s stake, and the girl he left behind is in their ward. His companion is Elder Johnson from Houston. They are going to Salvador Sul as well. Elder Johnson’s a great guy. He’s African-American, and the only member of the church in his family, and I don’t know how much his family is supporting him, but so far he hasn’t gotten a letter. So….For those who feel inclined, I think it would be absolutely fantastic if you could send a short note to him. While we are at the MTC, if you go to Dearelder.com, you can write a note there, and they will print it out and send it to the MTC for free. He went to BYU last year as well, I think on a music scholarship, and plays the organ and piano insanely well. Its his favorite thing to do, and he is definitely talented. He’s mentioned how the mission has been a lot harder than he thought, and yesterday was also his birthday, so if he could get a couple notes I think it would be awesome. To my uncles and aunts, if you feel so inspired, send him your letters while he’s here. I think he would love to get anything. Share your testimony, maybe favorite hymn, whatever. I know it would be very appreciated. I got Uncle Aaron’s letter yesterday, and that was exciting. I’ve always loved reading the weekly family letters, but I had no idea how much more it would mean now, getting some outside news. His name is Andra (or maybe Andrae) Dwayne Johnson. Brazil Salvador Sul mission. Mailbox 184.
Elders Pyne, Smith and both sisters went to BYU-Idaho, and me and Elder Johnson went to BYU. Everyone else, so 4 others are straight out of high school.
Ok, now to me and my companion. Its crazy how quickly you can get to know someone when you’re spending literally 24 hours a day with someone. My companion is Elder Matthew Oviatt. He actually lived in Athens Ohio, so about two hours away from us, all four years of high school. His Dad was working as a VP at Rocky Mountain Boots, which we went to the big store there when we were in Athens. In July, his family moved to Sheyboygone Wisconsin for Wigwam sock company..
We’ve been getting along great. He was fluent in Spanish and served a mini-mission Spanish speaking in Columbus, Ohio for a week, and also studied Portuguese quite a bit after getting his call, so he’s really good at it. Its been a challenge trying to keep up with him. In four days of classroom instruction, we’ve literally gone through the equivalent of three years of high school Spanish. The pace is crazy, and Elder Oviatt and me spend time everyday studying by ourselves. He’s unbelievable in the language, and I’m starting to catch up. Now, I can understand about anything said, but respond in pathetically broken Portuguese. Our lessons where we prepare in advance and teach in Portuguese have been going really well though. Our last feedback was “Elder Oviatt and Elder Schenewark did everything you’d want in a lesson. The only thing they could improve on, would be to leave a specific part of the BoM for me to read. (its a fake investigator.) We’ve taught three lessons so far, and committed him to baptism, to which he said possibly.
Its been a really good experience helping others in our district, whether they have been suffering from homesickness, companionship troubles, whatever. I know that Elder Knudson is supposed to be the district leader, but I also know that it’s my job to try and help him as much as possible. We’ve had every single person in our district say thank you to me and Elder Oviatt for everything we do, and for always helping them. These last two nights, we’ve ended with a testimony meeting and almost everyone leaves in tears. The spirit’s so strong at the MTC, it is truly hallowed ground. Its wonderful to be with 2000+ other missionaries who want to share the gospel. And I’ve been making my bad, 6/7 days so far.
Our zone is all Portuguese speaking, but about half the missionaries are going to Mozambique, and a fair amount to Portugal, Cape Verde Islands, and Angola. The rest is Brazil, and everyone here is visa waiters as well, although the majority seem to get theirs before leaving, so that’s good news.
Funny story, Elder Johnson, from Houston, the organist in his home ward has narcolepsy so she is always falling asleep in the middle of playing. He says the ward is used to it, so they keep singing and when she wakes up, she just picks up where they are singing. He says she is the nicest old lady ever, and the ward is used to it, but visitors there get freaked out sometimes when she nods off in the middle of a song.
Last Saturday, we had service as a district, and we had to clean some toilets. One was clogged, and instead of just reporting it like is usually done, Elder Smith was like, stand back, I got it. And these toilets don’t clog easy. i didn’t look, but they said it was absolutely awful. He starts trying to unclog, really knows what he’s doing but it just isn’t helping. He’s been going at it for twenty minutes and I’ve been just cracking up the entire time. He takes a break, saying and I quote, “this is killing my arms. Now I wish I had bought that shake weight.” Hilarious. Then he’s back at it, and he’s like, my hands are killing me, to which someone says the smells got to be killing you, to which he replies, the smells awful. But its not the worse. The worse part is the splashes.” Absolutely hilarious! He wouldn’t give up, but we finished cleaning the bathroom, and were like, lets just report this one. So he left the plunger in the toilet and we left. He is a character.
Elder Johnson, aka Whitneys son is in my branch, waiting for his visa. He’s been here about a month. I’ve seen Elder Lewis, Mckay Lewis all the time. At the sunday devotional, his companion i believe was the grandson of the speaker, Charles W Dahlquist, former young mens general president, and on scouting executive committee but Bro. Dahlquist called up his grandson to come onto the stage, and then was like, I am sure your companion has been trained well and will come up with you, so Elder Lewis went too, and they sang I am a child of god in front of eveyone.
This morning we got to got to the temple, which was wonderful. I know this is the place I’m supposed to be, at the time I’m supposed to here. I’ve loved it hear so far. Elder Holland said at one byu devotional years ago, “I loved my mission like no one has ever loved their mission, and I’m sure ever will” or something close to it. Well, in fairness I can’t say it yet because its only been a week. But watch out. Because i’m loving it so far. And I’m always loving you all back home. I think and pray about y’all every day.