Letter #35

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, as everyone knows, Dilma, the President of Brazil, was voted to be impeached. The fireworks last night, all night, let us know what happened.

In other government news, last week, the 15th, I kept thinking I knew it’s a special day or holiday in the United States, but couldn’t remember why. After a couple days it hit me, Tax Day! Won´t complain for missing that one. (And today is Patriots day.)

Food experience of the week: Yesterday after a normal and delicious lunch, they served us homemade avocado ice cream. And it was green. My mind was a little distracted, but after I got past thinking ‘frozen guacamole’ it was actually pretty good. Nevertheless, if I never eat it again, it’s okay with me.

We use the bus system so often and receive lots of change, so I started a collection of the coins of Brasil. And lo and behold, it’s actually led to increased companionship unity and some more investigators. My last couple companions always search their change for any missing coins for my collection, and Willian, who was baptized at the end of February made us Cuzeiro necklaces. I gave him some American coins I had, and he introduced me this week to a shop owner who collects. He has a bunch!! I´m almost done collecting with all the reais, but the shop owner gave me a one- centavo piece. They stopped making and using them some time ago, and I had never seen one until this day.

Saturday, we had a division, and I stayed in our area with Elder W. Santos, one of the zone leaders. We ended up trying to find a referral in a new area. Where we live, the city pays for someone to come spray the streets with pesticide. But, in this area, poorer and in an area where water collects, there´s nothing. Nothing except mosquitoes. So, the neighborhood is circled by fire. The residents light fires around the perimeter hoping that the smoke will keep the mosquitoes out. And some people walk around holding torches or flaming pieces of cardboard, waving them around. And other people don´t do anything, getting lots of bites. Elder W. Santos ended up asking one person we were talking with, `”How do you live with all these mosquitoes?” And the answer struck me. We´re used to it My thought being, what kind of things are we used to? Often we stick to the traditions of our fathers or in other words do things because  they’ve been done before. And this attitude keeps us from living up to our potential.

Wednesday, Isabela, was baptized! It was something she´s worked really hard for and it was wonderful to see. She was a friend of Dayani´s and they’ve really been helping each other.

The City of Vitoria celebrated LDS day on Thursday. Being close by, we were invited to participate in the formal event that night. This is the 6th annual LDS day, but this one was special, as it celebrated 50 years that the church has been in Espirito Santo and Vitoria. It was held at their version of City Hall, where the councilmen, or here, Vereadors meet. Most of the missionaries and members there to watch got herded into the spectators balconies, but because we got there early we had prime seats on the floor, and a perfect spot for the tv cameras to pick us up. So yes, I got on  Brasilian television. But it was during the Brasilian national anthem. Which I confess I don´t know. The whole world is standing up and singing and the camera panned over me, and I´m there standing, hand on the heart, and a big grin on the face, but definitely not singing. Pres. Young got stuck on the same predicament as well. Except, he was in the front of everybody, trying to mouth the words.

The vereador who ran the show this night, was 55ish, pepper colored hair, and a roman face. I actually felt like I was in Rome a little bit with all the pomp and circumstance. He was always respectfully addressed as `His excellency or most excellent Vereador.` The presenters, talked about what the program Helping Hands has done here, and shared the history of the church here in the last 50 years. It was very well done. Pres. Young talked as well, about who we are as missionaries(134 missionaries representing 11 countries) and what we do here. Couple statistical highlights: 40+ wards and branches. 26,000+ members.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin founded the Vitoria Stake in 1987, and it was followed by the Vila Velha Stake in 2002, and the Cariocica in 2005. (In the mission, there´s one district here in E.S., one stake in Rio de Janeiro, and one district in Minas Gerais, that we pick up). And, they announced, that Serra would become a stake shortly. It´s something that we already knew, and are working towards, but it was cool to hear it announced officially. The first members moved from Rio de Janeiro to Vitoria in Dec. 1965, and missionaries arrived in Jan. 1966, to start the church here. They baptized a family shortly thereafter, and one of the children baptized that day, was here on this night. He was baptized in the ocean, and 50 years later, lives here still and is active. He talked about how amazing it´s been to see the growth of the church here move from his house, to a rented garage, into 26,000 members. Very touching night.

Congrats on the Prom, Porter, and the job Mom! Exciting things happening! I could have told you you would score the highest. They give us the Ensign here, so I´ll pass. I think trail mix and peanut butter are on the top of my list here. Oh, and some coins. Half-dollars and quarters if possible.
This transfer is only five weeks, so this is the last week of the transfer. Next Monday will be exciting!

Love, Love, and more love,

Elder Schenewark

Make yourself at home.

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