Letter #99

Dear Family and Friends,

What do you say on your last preparation day? I would like to simply bear my testimony one more time, as a representative of our Savior Jesus Christ and His church.

I know that God is our Heavenly Father. He loves us. He yearns for our good. I testify that He sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ to atone for our sins. I know that Christ suffered for each one of us individually. He bled and died for us. He has provided all of us a way, through repentance and His grace, to be able to return and live with them in the Celestial Kingdom.

I know that the Holy Ghost really does guide and lead. He testifies of the truth, fortifies against sin and temptation, and helps us become pure. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and was called to be a prophet. He translated the Book of Mormon. I testify that the Bible and the Book of Mormon both contain the words of God. I am so thankful for the wisdom and truth they contain, and how they can light our paths and help us reach our potential and have the Holy Ghost in our lives.

I know that today we have a living prophet, seer, and revelator in Thomas Monson. I know that it is through obedience that we come unto our Savior. As He said, if ye love me, keep my commandments. I know that when we make mistakes, we can repent, and return to the path. I know that families can be forever. I will be forever grateful for the chance I had to serve here, in the Brasil Vitoria Mission.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Schenewark

Letter #98

Dear Family and Friends,

Last Monday, we visited an old monastery, built in 1558, above the towns of Vila Velha and Vitoria. We made the hike up the mountain, and were greeted by magnificent views and a morning mass. After that, it was off to the branch president´s house where we enjoyed a barbecue a la American style, complete with BBQ sauce.

Tuesday, we had a huge birthday spread, and at night there was a surprise party (pictures to follow later) at a member´s house. And Thursday, we had pasta and then 5 liters of ice cream we had to eat. Delicious! Yet, the best part happened on Tuesday when we were able to give a blessing to a very sick lady in the branch, and she came up to us on Sunday looking like a different person and told us that she had been completely cured. I have seen so many times the power of the priesthood! It is real, and it works miracles!

Wednesday we had zone conference with the Mazzagardi´s. It was wonderful to meet them, and I have been impressed so far. They are different than the Young´s yet have been called of God. Sis. Mazzagardi is a real trooper and inspiration. She lost her two daughters after they were born prematurely due to her cancer. And, with that cancer, she lost the ability to speak (being tongue cancer). She went two years with out speaking anything, and has spent the last eight years learning to talk again. They have stressed strict obedience and the fact that we are representatives of Christ.

Thursday, we had our leadership council with them, where we could again learn a lot, and know of their faith and courage. Wednesday night, we went to Guarapari to do a couple of baptismal interviews. I talked with Sarah, but she had a doubt, so we decided to put the Book of Mormon to the test to try and help her. After a prayer, she opened it up to a random page and pointed to the first verse she saw. I saw that she had opened to Alma 44, and honestly my faith wavered. The war chapters aren’t the best when talking about baptism. But this time, I was the one who really learned a lesson, when the first sentence she read talked about making a covenant of peace. It answered her question, and yesterday was baptized.

For what has to be a new record, it again poured Sunday morning, making four  Sundays straight, making it very hard to bring people to church. This time, we left the house at 7;30, and after having rained all night, I thought it would hold off. Alas, it was not to be, and 15 minutes later, the heavens were opened. And we didn’t have any umbrella, which is not a terrible problem for us, but when we got to our lead investigator’s house, she too did not have an umbrella, and wasn’t willing to venture out without cover. So, we pleaded, ten minutes, and went looking for one. And miraculously, we got one, and everyone made it to church on time.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #97

Dear Family and Friends,

This week saw the end of Pres. Young´s tenure as mission president. And the arrival of Pres. Mazzagardi. Pres. Mazzagardi pulled a surprise and arrived a day early on Friday. I´ll be forever grateful for the Young´s service and the sacrifices they made to be here. I’ve learned a lot and have been eternally blessed. I am sure that the Mazzagardi´s will be fantastic and I am excited to meet them personally on Wednesday.

I also finished the Book of Mormon again this week. It is another blessing in my life. Every time I read it, my testimony grows. I know it teaches the precepts of our Heavenly Father. Following its teachings, we will not be led astray. I’ve been studying about repentance, and one part that struck me was in Ether 15.  Coriantumr, the wicked king, had been warned by the prophet Ether to repent, and after fighting wars and seeing countless deaths, he remembered what Ether said. It says, “He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.

We know what then happened. The entire nation was destroyed. Why? Because Coriantumr began to repent. He never finished the process, and never truly changed, only mourned. This was the moment where the history of that people was changed, and thousands would go on to die. We face pivotal moments too, where we can choose to repent or not. The scriptures teach us we only have two choices. Repent, or suffer. Repentance is not suffering, but not repenting is. To reach our destiny, we must walk the path of repentance, every day.

Love,

Elder Schenewark