Basking in Brazil

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello 2016! On Thursday, mail came, and that was a fantastic present. The zone leaders delivered it to our Thursday district meeting, and when we walked in, everybody said, “You are definitely loved Elder Schenewark! You have three packages!” I also had a lot of letters, including some mailed from November.
I had no idea who sent the third package, and it was the Pace´s! That was a nice surprise. They individually wrapped 12 presents for the 12 days of Christmas, and I’ve been pretty patient, trying to follow it, only one a day. (I did cheat with the gingersnaps, sometimes you just need some right then.) And I received your box, and the Bach´s box, and I am basking in luxury. Cedar in my shoes, peanut butter in my belly.
The temperature dropped 15 degrees as it’s been raining –But I still need a baptism– I’ve shared my packages with the three Brazilians in the house, and its cool to watch as they try new stuff. They loved the pop rocks (saved the wrappers, and were almost jumping up and down as they popped in their mouths) and the gingersnaps. They don´t like peanut butter, but that´s okay, because I´ll get to eat it all. And I´ll be opening up more of the stuff this week. And for the record, I´m the exact same weight as when I left in August. I definitely feel loved. Every single day. And, it’s always wonderful to hear how and what everybody’s doing in the letters. (Like, rock on with the expansion Uncle Aaron!)

So yeah, no baptism. We spent a lot of time working with the person this week, but everybody has agency. The problem is, we can´t figure out the problem. He comes to church every week, likes it, is keeping the commandments, but doesn´t want to move forward.

On the language front, kids often ask if I am speaking Japanese (which always makes me laugh, and they think its hilarious too) but lately they think I´m a native Spanish speaker i.e. Argentina, Paraguay,etc. So, that´s a good sign. And this week, i had a conversation with a Pomerian(?) (I don´t know if it’s called the same thing in English, because I don´t remember hearing of this area, so any help is appreciated.) I am told that it used to be a country but was swallowed up by Germany, or was a region unified when Germany became Germany. Whatever the case, there are still Pomerian colonies here in E.S., and this man recognized my name as German and after talking for a couple minutes, he asked how many years I had spent in Germany, as he thought I was a native Brasilian who had lived in Germany for a little, and this explained my accent. So it’s improving. And the only asterisk to that story is that it was really loud next to a road and hard to hear, so basically no asterisk (:

On Thursday, when we went to drop off the packages at our apt, the other set of missionaries accidentally took our keys and we were locked in for twenty minutes until they came back. Sort of funny, but it illustrates how many bars we have around our house. We literally couldn´t climb over or out anything to leave.

And as that day was New Year´s eve, we had to return at 7 pm. So I tried making pizza, which didn´t quite work, as I killed the yeast. I decided to throw the dough away as it was nasty, but because trash isn’t collected for a couple days, we keep the trash in our house. And two days later it starts to rain, and we come home at night, and the entire house smells awful. Just reeks. We had no idea, but it turns out its the bread dough. I don´t know if its because of the age or the rain, but I never want to find out. It might be the worst smell I’ve smelled in my life.

I think my favorite moment this week happened on Friday. We felt inspired to go visit a member, 70+ years, active, and lives with her daughter and family. All members. Not someone you normally think about as a missionary. But it turns out was having some problems and wanted a blessing of health. So we were able to do that, and the two other blessings I’ve given in Brasil were in English, but this time I did it in Portuguese, and words that I’ve only read before I remembered and everything was really clear.

Other news this week, we´ve taken so many buses. Usually only two a day, but these last couple days we´ve been taking four or more. And yesterday, our church started at 2:30 as we switched times with another ward, so we went to a members house before for lunch. And it was in the most obscure part of the city. So we waited almost 2 hours for a bus. (because on sundays not many buses run, the other days are easy) and then after, had to wait again, as the bus we found out was having problems. So we finally get picked up, make it about a mile, and the bus is jerking back and forth like a see-saw or a washing machine, and then just stopped. So we all got out, and had to wait for the next bus. Which was a while. We had planned to visit other people before church, but instead were 40 minutes late. Crazy times.

The thought I want to leave this week is from Mormon 7. And its simple. Nothing new, yet it has changed my life and its the reason why I´m in Brasil as a missionary. “Come to the knowledge….and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up…And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgement day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of god in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one god, in a state of happiness which hath no end.”

So, believe. I know that Christ died for us, and he lives today. And if we follow him, we will live in a state of happiness which hath no end.

Love you all!

Elder Schenewark

Nice and tidy.

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