Letter #49

Dear Family and Friends,
Yes, I have been called to be District Leader here. We are pretty isolated, so the district consists of the four missionaries here in the town, serving the branch of Itaperuna. My new companion is Elder Nascimento, again, from Fortaleza. I arrived Tuesday and we got right to work. We’ve already met a lot of great people and Sunday had a contingency show up to visit the church.

A little about Itaperuna: The city is crisscrossed by two rivers and its name comes from some Indian natives who lived in the area, meaning `trail of the black rocks,` as the the rivers are framed with these rocks. Historically, its been a coffee producing powerhouse, but now has evolved more adding a milk factory and relying less on coffee. It reminds me a lot of Cachoeiro, with the river and lots of hills and mountains to climb. This was an interesting cemetery:

The branch averages about 40 people on Sundays, but is growing. Missionaries arrived here only seven years ago. The church being new here, there are great opportunities to grow. And, this is definitely the most youthful area. There are a bunch of active youth who really make this branch dynamic and exciting. I neglected to take pictures of the church building but will the next time. It´s beautiful and I think the coolest meetinghouse I’ve seen. It’s in an old house, a mansion. The classrooms are on the first floor, punctuated by floor to ceiling wooden bookshelves and decorative pillars. And upstairs, is the chapel, seating about 100, with almost entirely glass walls. Add to that a giant veranda overlooking the river. #IwantToLiveHere. There was a pool on the second story balcony but after an accident, they closed it up, and now have a portable pool for baptisms.

Thursday was our first district meeting together. I decided to talk about vision as I wanted to know the missionaries better and create our vision for this transfer. And, even better than the meeting was what I prefer to think of as a team building exercise. Saturday we went to the church to help take out the old benches from the church and set up new chairs. We got there early, and brought all the chairs (100+) up to the second floor, and in the hardest part, brought all the benches down from the second floor before cleaning and setting up. And, we worked together very well, finishing everything before the branch president arrived with a couple others to help. They were amazed we had already finished. The arms were sore, but the hearts happy.

Recently I read a scripture in 1 Nephi 11:17 I want to share. It says ´”I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” For me, the faith of Nephi is definitely inspiring. We don´t need to know everything. We know that God loves us, and that can be enough sometimes. Simply trust in the plan He has for us, even if we don´t understand 100% of the why.


Elder Schenewark

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