Letter #4

Dear Family and Friends,

And then there was three. Elder Pyne, Smith, and Johnson all got their visas, so they left this morning for Brazil. Those three are all from Texas. All went through the Houston Consulate, and all put their papers in just a few days before coming out. So out of the original ten, there’s only three left; Elder Knudson, Sister Gage, and myself. As of now, we’ll be a three person district, but if anybody else leaves, we’ll probably join another district.

Before they left, the branch president asked me to be district leader, so I’m that for now. When we got here, our branch, which is also our zone had seventy something missionaries, but now we are down to 15, and will be down to 11 next Monday. Apparently all the missionaries are getting their visas in time and going to the MTC in Brazil. We haven’t had any new missionaries going to Brazil since we got here, and aren’t expecting any this week either.

Last Wednesday, we were able to act as hosts for the new missionaries, and welcome them to the MTC and show them around. It was actually pretty fun getting to do that. And, as I showed up too late to be hosted myself, I kind of felt like I was getting the official welcome to the MTC. We’re doing it again tomorrow, and probably will from now until we leave.

Our schedule has been pretty much the same as last week. Lots of Portuguese learning and teaching lessons. This last Friday evening we did do TRC for the first time, which is where we teach volunteers in Portuguese. I think it’s harder than our regular teaching, because the volunteers are lay themselves. Basically, most of them are students at BYU, served a mission to Brazil and enjoy coming back to the MTC. The challenge is trying to help them as they are essentially doing everything right to begin with and it can be tough in rudimentary Portuguese to find a need and help them.

The letters and packages received this week were as always fantastic. I got the Merritt’s package, and letters from Uncle Aaron, Uncle Rich, Mimi, and Tanner and Annemarie’s wedding announcement. Which I don’t think I’ll make. It’s been super busy, but I’m hoping this week I’ll be able to have some time and write some handwritten letters to send out. I definitely appreciate all the support.

Cool story of the week: Our district takes a temple walk every Sunday, and as Elder Pyne and I were walking, we passed a blonde guy in a polo shirt and jeans sitting on a bench and looking at the temple. As soon as I saw him I had the impression to go over and talk to him and tell him the answer is “yes,” but I thought it would be weird so I kept going. When I passed by him, the impression was so strong that I stopped for a moment before deciding to keep going. Then, as soon as we walked past him, Elder Pyne said out loud, “I had a strong impression to tell him the answer is yes.” Holy cow! I told Elder Pyne I had the exact same impression, and we definitely needed to tell the person. So we went back over, said “Excuse me, we know this is weird, but we both had a very strong impression right when we saw you, that the answer is yes.” He about jumped up, shook our hands, said thanks and left. I wish I knew what he had been pondering, but quite honestly, I decided it doesn’t matter. Both Elder Pyne and I really wanted to know, but the important thing is that he received his answer. Because this is Provo, I would guess he’s wondering whether or not to marry somebody. It was an awesome experience as it was totally unexpected, the impression was very strong, and the answer was very clear, the answer is Yes, not whether or not he needed anything.

On Tuesday, Elder Gerald Causse and his wife Valerie, came and spoke to us. It was fantastic!! What struck me most was our need as missionaries to be humble and teachable, and how Bishop Causse is amazed at the apostles humility. But then, at the end, he told us to be bold. And he said that he was working on being bold himself, and to illustrate his commitment, he bore his testimony, and said that he would play the closing song on the piano. So he came down off the podium and totally rocked a rendition of Come, Come, Ye Saints. He started off slow and quiet, but by the end his hands were absolutely flying. It might be the best piano playing I’ve ever seen.

Elder Johnson, was supposed to perform a musical number at one of these devotionals, but because he unexpectedly got his visa, he performed yesterday for all the new senior missionaries. He sang Cast your Burdens on the Lord. It was amazingly good! As his companions, me and Elder Knudson got to see it.

Well, I think that about wraps it up. I never remember to take my camera to anywhere but the temple, so that’s what the pictures are again. I’ll try and remember to take it to the classroom or somewhere new.

I’m almost out of time, so I’ll wait until next week to share some lessons I’ve learned here studying the scriptures. But I think, these last couple weeks can in many ways be summed up by this sentence I wrote in my journal last night:

When I left for my mission, I was going to be the absolute best missionary I could be. Now, I am working hard to be the missionary the Lord wants me to be.


Elder Schenewark

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