Ich bin ein Schenewark: Dec. 9-15

I’m committed to going to Germany this summer. My itinerary is slowly shaping up. My language skills are progressing. The plans are coming together. Initially, the idea was to be more of a tourist. Now, I am set on doing family history. I will travel to the hometown of the Gerken’s, the Hesse’s. And, I hope beyond hope, to find where the Schenewark’s come from. Exciting update: I believe my father will come along!

Finals have descended upon BYU and the student populace is preparing to leave for break. Which meant this past week was mostly quiet on the social front. I read and read. Attended the last week of institute, went to book club, and worked out.


The cinnamon roll factory was firing on all cylinders this weekend.

Deseret Industries saw me coming from a mile away. What a book!

My propensity for wearing my bathrobe to evening events is spreading. Here I am with my friend Maddie H. Sunday night at ward prayer.

Dinner on Sunday was with Tanmarie. We ate good food and I relished my time with them and on their magic carpet. When I’m over there, inevitably, I wind up on their magic carpet rug. Nora was a lot of fun and kept coming back for more tickles. I think Cooper is still the favorite uncle though.

This week I’ve been researching and writing on economic inequality. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world, and I think there always will be. Impeachment might be shelved, trade deals could be made, sweeping policies enacted, yet uncertainty will always be part of life. I am not even sure where the Schenewark line comes from. Nevertheless, if there is one thing I do know, it is that we are all children of our Heavenly Father. I love Psalms 82:6, “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” And we truly are. I know that a firm testimony of this truth will help us navigate the challenges of life, and add more truth to that foundational precept.



Modicum of Consistency: Dec. 2nd-8th

This Christmas Devotional was quite memorable. After church finished, there were a couple setting aparts that I helped with, and then I rushed to pick up Porter, Emily Whitcomb, Cooper and his date Sarah, to head to Uncle Ben’s and Aunt Joy’s. The extended family was gathered there to celebrate Kayla and Ryan’s wedding, and we were blessed to have Mimi and Grampy visiting. Unfortunately, we were there from only 3-4, then I had to run back to Provo with Porter. He met some friends and headed up with them to SLC, and I picked up my date Megan, and a couple other friends. Then the real fun and logistical challenges started. We went and picked up Andrea. Then headed north 20 miles and picked up Nicole. One more mile up the interstate, and after a few false turns, we were going to turn into a Maverick gas station to pick up Tanner L. We realized at the last second we were in the wrong lane, but as no one was around, I quickly moved left into the turning lane. This left me sticking out into the intersection, so I backed up a bit. We waited for our green turn signal there, and waited, and waited until I figured I needed to back up more to hit the sensor for the light to change. There was apparently no one else around, and I didn’t see anyone behind me, so I hit the gas, going in reverse…and slammed into the car that was in fact behind me. The sickening crunch we heard is a sound I’ll never forget. My heart sank and it was a truly horrible feeling for so many reasons.

I figured we would both be turning into the gas station, but the guy behind got out, and seemed to want to talk then. So I got out, and then I saw my van start rolling away. I hadn’t put the car into park!! The other person definitely must have been thinking, “who is this crazy guy?” My friends inside were yelling for me to get back, and I quickly jumped back in, and put it into park, before telling the guy we’d meet at the gas station. There, we looked over the damage, which involved nothing, not even a noticeable scratch on the van’s backside, but some minor cosmetic damage on the other person’s car. He spoke only spanish, and we were able to communicate ok, but he didn’t want my info, said everything was ok, and seemed ready to leave again. I felt really bad and offered him a $50 amazon gift card I had in my wallet, but he didn’t want anything, and we parted ways. Everything, especially the van rolling away seemed to happen in slow motion and now, very thankful nothing extreme resulted, can only look back and chuckle at the spectacle that must have been. I tend to do (or say) something stupid every week on average. This was so bad, I sure hope it covers me for two!

That whole ordeal set us back further, and we made it to the conference center, late but safe, arriving inside at 6:10. We arrived too late to go to our seats front and center, but at least we made it inside and could enjoy the devotional. After, we walked around looking at nativity sets from around the world, and appreciating the amazing lights. Mimi’s sweater vest, going strong since 2012, kept me warm in the cold weather. And we made it back to Provo without incident, thankfully. Our group shared many sighs of relief, and lots of laughs, thoroughly enjoying the evening. Oh what a night!

Saturday was the funeral for my friend’s dad. He had been suffering from cancer and after being in remission for a time, went quickly downhill starting in August. He died Thanksgiving night. The Shumway family all spoke and they showed amazing resilience and faith. Repeatedly, they have lifted up those who have tried to help them, and have been a true example to me.

After eating lunch, I went with Porter to the Provo Temple. It was great to spend that time with him.

Other highlights of the week included going to book club on Wednesday where we started discussing Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. Friday I made dinner for three and gave two blessings for some ward pals stressed out by big tests coming up. One was taking the LSAT, and I felt his pain, while another was doing her first finals in law school and I didn’t want to know what I have to look forward to!

Elder Rasband in October’s General Conference questioned, “What are the dangers if we cheat a little, slip a little, or do not quite follow through with our commitments?” I know that the stakes are eternally high. There awaits everlasting glory, more wonderful than I think any of us can currently comprehend, if we will follow through on our commitments and obey the commandments. So, here’s the thing, double check your mirrors while driving, but triple check the thoughts you think and the words you say, and especially remember always the covenants and promises you have made, and not only will your actions be good, you will make it through the greatest road trip we’ll ever take, the journey of mortality, and will be able to in a coming day, “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,” (Hebrews 4:16).






Truly Scrumptious: Nov. 25th-Dec 1st

Monday was the LSAT. Short story: I left the test disappointed knowing that I hadn’t done as well as I wanted. Not terrible, but probably not good enough. I won’t know my official score for another week or two. The drive home was miserable, taking two hours to return from SLC where I took it due to a snowstorm that backed traffic up. Furthermore, the test was taken on a tablet and there were some technical issues that delayed the start of the exam by an hour, which for various reasons really messed with me. So there I was in a kind of sour mood, (and hungry to boot) when I arrived home and received a text from a friend who had signed up to take it at BYU. Turns out they had their own problems, and there was not enough tablets to take the test. So a significant number, including my friend, were turned away. Yes, they’ll get their money back, but are not in good shape otherwise. First, I took the day off of work to do this, and I’m sure some of them did as well. Second, some schools, like BYU, have scholarship deadlines and they won’t meet some of them now. After hearing his tale, I felt extremely grateful that I did have to drive up to the University of Utah. Perspective matters. I committed to trying harder to look for the good in every situation BEFORE I hear from the outside things that will influence my view. Furthermore, while I was Gratitude should be first. Conclusion: I am glad to have taken the test, this week has been much more relaxing having done it, but I decided that the upside significantly outweighs another $200 test fee, and will be signing up to take the next one in January.

Tuesday was work as normal, and then it felt like the holidays started. Porter brought me some books I had asked to be checked out, and I stayed up until almost 1 am reading. Because instead of having to drive to work, they told us (in part due to inclement weather) to stay at home, skype into a meeting from 10-3 and have lunch delivered to you, so you don’t miss anything in the meeting. It was different, and so, so nice. I slept in, ate a nice breakfast, skyped into the meeting and had a burger and fries from 5 Guy’s delivered. And then when the meeting ended at 3, I finally got out of my pajamas. Couldn’t do it everyday, but the change was nice!

Thursday morning (after another wonderful late night of reading) I went out and bought food for Thanksgiving. The one variable I hadn’t foreseen was that all the turkeys are sold FROZEN! I simply never thought about it. So, at 9 am instead of getting ready to cook it, I was scrambling trying to defrost the bird quickly. Everything else went well. We had:

-my famous (ok, its not famous at all, but need to hype it up a little, because it is good) stuffing. I do this in my crockpot, and it is delicious, and easy.

-green bean casserole

-cranberry sauce

-mashed potatoes



-Pies: chocolate cream, apple, pumpkin, cheesecake.

Supper was scheduled for 2, and we started eating then, and then 16 pound bird was finally ready for us at 3:20.

A couple people didn’t end up making it, so it was Nicklas and William from the ward, and Porter, Cooper, and myself.

We ate, and ate. Watched a movie. Read George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. Played Settler’s of Cataan. Life is good 🙂

Before Porter led me on some black friday shopping adventures, I went to Emily K.’s house and she taught me how to make authentic potstickers. It was a fun time, and I’ll put the new knowledge to good use. Now to black Friday. Shopping is something I dislike. Very much. Unless it’s groceries or books, it’s kind of overwhelming. I NEED to have all the information available before I buy anything. All I needed to get was a black suit, but that involved (after weeks of online research) traipsing through the crowded mall (after driving up in another blizzard) and I still left Porter and his friend Parker after 4 hours without having bought anything. We had a really good time though, and it was quite amusing to see those two loving every minute and trying on so many outfits. Porter is my fashion supervisor, as I have no idea what I’m doing, and has helped immeasurably in that regard. Now, I’m only 10 years behind what the cool people wear. After returning home, re-energizing with some more thanksgiving leftovers, I made one final stop, and mission accomplished. I now have a black suit. Not only has it been something I’ve wanted in an effort to follow the brethren, but it’ll be put to good use at Moriah’s wedding at the end of December.

After that ordeal, I helped clean the temple from 10 pm to midnight. We were at the City Center Temple, and I was asked to clean the visitor center rotunda. Every body else was actually inside the temple, and my location was not what I would have chosen, but it was AMAZING. If you’ve never been inside, this is what the rotunda looks like:

When I’ve been before, it’s always been very crowded. As I cleaned inside, it felt like the Savior truly was there. I had the opportunity, completely unbothered by time, in silence, and without any people nearby, to contemplate my relationship with my Savior.

Today, we combined with the 105th and 265th wards, as many people are still out of town. For dinner, we had rolls and turkey soup and it was great to have Cooper, Porter, Michael, Abbey, and Emily over. The night was quite enjoyable.

I asked out Lydia again, and she gently demurred, rejecting my invitation. This coming Sunday is the Christmas Devotional in Salt Lake, and in my opinion, the MOST MAGICAL EVENT EVER. So, I’ll definitely be working towards finding someone for that.

Two thoughts from this week:

First, Jacob 5 has traditionally been my least anticipated chapter in the Book of Mormon. It’s long, and I don’t usually get much out of reading it, due in part to my hurry to finish that chapter off quickly. This week, while reading it, I realized that there is a much more personal application to the master and his vineyard parable. In my life, I am the master. And the chapter outlays perfectly how to handle situations in my life where I need to either cut out or graft in friends, habits, or personal characteristics to make the vineyard productive and be prepared for the Second Coming.

Today also started the Light The World campaign,


with a different act of service emphasized daily leading up to Christmas. I have a strong testimony of service. As I’ve read before, service exalts all, as it humbles the giver and ennobles the receiver. Service helps sanctify us, and as we are sanctified, I testify that “the Lord will do wonders among [us].” (Joshua 3:5). I encourage you to participate in this month of service, and promise that you will draw closer to our Savior and feel of his immense love as you do do.