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