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actives to visit nearby, to see if they could help, but also to see if the address was even right (usually they´re way outdated).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