Letter #31

Letter #31

Dear Family and Friends,

Today we found out about transfers. Elder Soares is leaving to go to Colatina to be a zone leader and I´ll be staying here. My new companion is Elder T. Santos and he´ll be district leader here.

This week, we prepared Adinto to be baptized, the soy bean broker, and he was interviewed and ready but then on Friday he had to go out of town for work, and we´re still waiting for him to return.

It looks like you all are having lots of fun out there, minus the sickness bug. Congrats to Aunt Tina for the wedding! Cool that all the siblings made it there.

It´s finally been raining here a little this week. It’s hot all day, and then at about 7 pm each night the heavens open.

Dayani who was baptized last week, works selling Capixabi cap, a state lottery, on the streets. She makes practically no money, but doesn’t complain. Some days, she spends more money on the bus fares to get there then she makes. Between the actual work, and the travel, she´s gone about 16 hours. It’s crazy. And Magno, who was baptized two weeks ago, lost his job for the government as a stonemason, and now sells honey on the street. It´s really opened my eyes. They both work hard, make practically no money, and yet don´t complain.

There have been a couple of government protests this week, and people have been trying to impeach the President. They´re both loving the gospel, and you can really tell it brings them hope.

Sorry I haven´t written much today. I keep writing, and then erasing and then writing and erasing. I have some thoughts, but they aren’t quite developed, so I´ll hold onto them for a little longer.

I finished my first journal, am working on the second, so in about 4-6 months, just thinking ahead, it would be nice if you could send one. I ended with these words:

“Texas to Utah to Arizona to Espirito Santo. Immeasurable growth. Innumerable experiences.”

I really have learned lots. And it’s interesting that oftentimes, the lessons we need to learn are the ones we don´t want to. I´m grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to be here, and to learn to say `thy will, not mine.’

I´m excited to be able to stay here in Serra; I feel like there really is a lot of work left to do here.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

P.S. I still need to mail the glasses, and the only place that fixes cameras is in Vitoria, but I´ll be going there to get it fixed, and will have lots more pictures

Enjoy the view.

“This is why I’m on a mission”

Dear Family and Friends,

I knew that there would be miracles on the mission. I knew it. But still, I’ve been blown away by how many. Everyday here, miracles are finding us.

Dayani, who stopped us on the street last week, is wonderful. She has had a tough life, but has absolutely embraced the gospel, and is looking forward to a new life. She´s made new friends here, and has really seen a vision of what the gospel can do. The Bishop talked with her for 40 minutes, as she will need help from the ward and after he said,”Yes, she has a lot of hardships in her life right now, but she is prepared for, wants, and needs baptism.” We held a wonderful service yesterday and after the baptism, she just covered her eyes, overcome with emotion and said she feels like a giant weight was lifted off her back. This is why I´m on a mission. It´s amazing to see the happiness and peace people have with the gospel. And it’s amazing to have this opportunity to bring that message to them, to people the Lord has prepared.  Dayani has so much potential. She understands the lessons, the essence of the gospel and in spite of her own trials and needs, has a desire to help others.

Sister missionaries in Serra, but in a different ward, were stopped at a bus terminal by a someone who said she had been a member of an evangelical church for 26 years (her entire life), but had had a dream about the Mormon church and wanted to know more. In the dream, everyone was dressed in white, she felt peace and comfort and she just heard one word `Mormon.’ She lives in our area, it’s honestly about at the end of the world, the farthest you can be, so we went to visit her on Saturday. It took two hours to get there, as the bus struggled, but we finally arrived, went to her house and knocked. She answers, and says she thought the sister missionaries would visit her, not us, and says she can´t let us in as her husband wasn’t there. Which we completely understand and agree with, so we just invited her to church. Then we took the bus back, much quicker but still about an hour. So three hours of traveling for literally a 2 minute conversation. It was disappointing, but then the Sister missionaries called us, and said that Kuaune called them, and really wants to come to church, but doesn’t know exactly where it is. So we arranged a ride, she came to church, and loved it! She stayed for the baptism and she cried, and wants to be baptized. So, yeah, just lots of miracles happening here.

And, Adinto, who is about 45-50, reads the Bible everyday on his tablet, and always sees an ad for our church at the bottom, so he clicked on it and asked for a Book of Mormon. We visited him Saturday, and he is so prepared. He talked about how he lived in Sao Paulo years and years ago, and knew Mormons there and always wondered about why they were different. And, in his apartment building there are two active families right by him that already know his children. So we shared our message, he was super excited to read the Book of Mormon, read some Saturday, visited the church on Sunday, and knows it’s true. So far we’ve only taught him, but he asked that we visit his entire family, so we are excited to help with that. There are a lot of people out of work here, that are struggling right now, but he is doing good. He is actually looking for someone  who knows English to work for him. The bishop here has been looking for a new job, and we´re hoping that this might work out. Adinto has a cool job; he´s a soy bean broker, and right now, everything’s exploding. There are a couple of Chinese groups that are trying to buy millions of tons from him. Not unusual for big firms, but he´s used to selling just to Brasil, and now needs someone to help because international contracts are in English. Cool stuff.

Thursday we went to Vitoria to fill out some paperwork to get more Brazilian documents. Some rule changed, I think in our favor, giving foreigners here more freedom, but I don´t really understand everything. Regardless, it was cool, as the Americans in two zones went to do this paperwork together in Vitoria, and then were treated to McDonalds. Big Mac and McFlurry in Brasil. It felt a little like a field trip.

Friday, we had another trip, going an hour away to Cariocica to participate in a mission tour with the Zwicks. It was wonderful, a true spiritual banquet. There have been a small number of people in my life who I’ve met, and really inspired to become like. And Elder Zwick is one of them. Just awesome. Plus, he started a construction company, which is cool beans.

Well, that about sums up all the news.  I love and pray for you all!!

Elder Schenewark

Take a look around.

Discover Something New

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, it’s been an amazing week. I wrote just a little bit last week about someone who stopped us on the street, and then visited the church. We visited him after, and he has been prepared incredibly. Missionaries in another town taught him almost everything, and when we started teaching him, he showed an incredible desire to follow Christ.

When we were about to invite him to be baptized, he stated, “We´re holding a baptism Sunday,” he interrupted and asked if he could be baptized. He did lots of studying everyday and it was just amazing. He´s one of the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life. He doesn’t have things easy, but is still always smiling and so incredibly grateful for what he does have. He shared a couple stories from his life, and I´ll share two.

The first, as a 17 year old, he was working shining shoes in Vitoria, and became friends with one of his customers, who owns a chain of grocery stores, and is one of the very rich in Brazil. The guy asked him one day what he wanted to do more than anything else, and he said snowboard. So, he acted as the guy’s son, flew with the family to Florida and then to Ohio to snowboard. And he loved it.

The second story was hilarious. We asked where he was born, and he says, “My card says Vitoria, but really I was born in a car on the way to the hospital. Here, look, my dad cut my cord and tied it.” He then showed us his navel. Good times.

But in all seriousness, it’s been special as he´s worked towards baptism. Sunday was stake conference, and the zone had planned to do a baptism with all the wards, but eventually, our ward was the only one who supported it. So, with some members of the ward, and Pres. and Sister Young, I baptized Magno, and he was just filled with happiness.

We visited one family this week, and they had some pictures on the wall, with the kids riding a zebra. It was funny, as it was 100% so obviously a painted horse, but hey, if you’ve never actually seen a zebra, but knew they have black and white stripes, I guess it passes.

Wednesday, we received mail, and a wonderful package from the Merritts arrived.

Elder Soares is district leader so we spent some time interviewing candidates for baptism of other missionaries in our district, and I was very surprised when a couple of days later, the sister missionaries here called. Caike, the 11 year old son of a less active asked that I baptize him. So I had the privilege to do that Saturday, as well as José, a 60 year old who has been looking for the right church for years. It was cool to attend the service and hear from José as he testified how finally he knows he´s on the right path.

And, like last week with Magno, we were walking in a neighborhood, when someone sitting outside her house, called us over, said she, Dayani, had been taught  a little bit by missionaries when she lived in Rio de Janeiro, and said at this point in her life, she wants the gospel. We visited her later with a member, and they’ve since become great friends. Last night Dayani called us, and asked what she had to do to be baptized. She is reading the book of Mormon, felt the Spirit very strongly at Stake Conference and wants to be baptized.

And, finally, walking in the street last night, a middle-aged man, Ricardo stopped us and talked about how missionaries had visited his father 30 some years earlier, and had given him the Book of Mormon. His father wasn’t interested, and as a teenager he wasn’t either. But, now, after all these years, he stopped us, asked if we are Mormons, and wants to learn more. The Lord has truly been blessing us with people who are prepared and want the gospel.

Elder Zwick, of the Seventy, and his wife, will be doing a tour of the mission, and I’m excited. We’ll be having a conference with him and three other zones this week.

On July 4th, if I remember right, in 1939, the great baseball player Lou Gehrig was honored at Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium. Not only could he play like few others could, but he also lived honorably like few others could. He had traits that are rare in the world, and perhaps even rarer in professional sports with its fame and fortune. On this day, mortally ill with ALS, he called himself the Luckiest Man in the world. At this time, he had been forced into an early retirement due to ALS, or as it’s commonly known, Lou Gehrig´s disease, and less than two years later would die. He had every right to complain, and yet he only offered gratitude.

For me, I have absolutely nothing to complain about. And like him, I truly feel like the Luckiest Man in the World. I’ve been so blessed by the Lord in my life. There have been so many miracles here on the mission, and I am blessed to witness them. This week my testimony was strengthened that this truly is the Lord´s work. We are only his servants here.  And I am so blessed to have family and friends that support me, and lift me up constantly. Love you all,

Elder Schenewark

Discover something new.

Letter #28

Dear Family and Friends,

Again, I have seen the Lord´s hand in our lives. But to start from the beginning.

Last Monday, we went and visited the beach. As a rule, we can´t touch the sand, so I can´t really tell you much about the beach, if it’s really all it’s hyped up to be or not, but I can say it was beautiful. We stayed there for a while, taking pictures, reflecting, etc. Towards the end, a guy came up to us and asked if he could do a sketch of us. So we pooled 15 reias together and posed. Cool remembrance.

My love of açai continues. Originally we just bought a bowl of açai, at a set price but this week we decided to go with the self serve pay by the kilo. We tend to buy a little bit almost every day. It’s so refreshing in the afternoon sun (and healthy). I also ate my first Brazilian hot dog, which was different, and delicious.

We received a referral from a bishop of another ward for an elderly lady, 86 years old, (not unusual in the States, but here, almost unheard of) so we try calling her, but she doesn’t answer her phone; the only other information we have is the address of her store (she still works!!!! as a seamstress). We finally found her getting a manicure and pedicure at a store close by, and we learned about the referral.

She was Catholic for much of her life, but became convinced that baptism needs to be by immersion, so she currently affiliates with Assembly of God church, but has wondered about all the Catholic family members she´s outlived, and the Bishop said he´d send the missionaries over to talk about vicarious baptism. So we taught the restoration and vicarious baptisms. She loved the message, and the Book of Mormon, but her 88 year old sister was having a birthday out of town, so she couldn’t come to church this week. Hopefully more news to come.

Willian, 17 years old who visited last week, and has 5 siblings, was interviewed, and asked that I baptize him. So, this Sunday, after many miracles, we both descended into the water. Definitely a special moment. During the service, it was a little chaotic, but as soon as we started singing the opening hymn, everything went perfect, and the Spirit filled the room. We talked with Willian´s mom, and she talked about how he has already changed, and is now spending more time with the family, helps her more, and is much more obedient. She called it a miracle, and hopes we can help some of her other children. She thanked and thanked us for helping Willian.

I’ve learned it’s not us, as missionaries. We are messengers, bringing a message of hope and of peace. It’s the Savior’s message, and it’s through Him and His atonement that people change. We try to teach people individually, as the Spirit guides, but our underlying message is the same. And it’s amazing to see how the Lord has prepared people to hear the message. It’s sad to see them reject it, usually just out of apathy, but it’s even more amazing to see someone who has been prepared, accept and love the gospel. Willian has changed, and watching his life change with the gospel, as he has embraced it, has changed mine as well.

We went with a member to visit another referral, and unfortunately the referral didn’t really work out, but as we were wondering around lost, trying to find the house, a guy called out Elders! and we talked with him quickly, wrote down his number and continued on. Sunday, we called him, re-invited him to church, and he came and loved it. He´s already visited the church when he lived in a different town, and had wanted to know more.

Like always, there´s been lots of special moments that I won´t recount at this moment.
And I´ll close with this thought. D&C 59;4 “And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.”

Commandments are a blessing. As we keep them, honor our covenants, and serve God, he will BLESS us with additional commandments. Commandments are here to bless us. They are not something to grudgingly attempt, but honestly to glory in. As Alma said (Alma 29;9), “I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.”

And especially in this wonderful time of my life, this is my glory and work as well.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

So Fresh, So Clean

Dear Family and Friends,

Another wonderful week. There was disappointment as the number of people committed to attend church dwindled and dwindled until it was just one. And some of the people had legitimate reasons, others simply unwilling or not wanting to change their lives. It’s sad when people I feel the spirit with, and want to help, revert back to old ways. I think disappointments are good, and an essential part of life.

When that one person, Clayson walked into church, my joy felt full. because we had worked so hard for one person, and he is wonderful. Saturday, he threw away his coffee, and we whooped and hollered a little bit, and he already loves the church. He´s only 17, but has his own little house and lives alone. We were looking for someone else, when we started talking to him, and he invited us right in. He had been living with his brother, but he married, so on Tuesday when we met Clayson, it was only the third day he had lived there. And I feel like the church has already become somewhat like a family for him. We barely talked with him Sunday, as he spent it all with members, Today he has family home evening with a family,  I´m excited. Carnival starts Friday, so the stake has a four day activity, and he´ll be going to that.

So fresh and so clean.

And about disappointment, it´s impossible to feel that way for long. Not only are there lots of people we´re working on finding who want the gospel in their lives, but I wake up in Brasil everyday. Speaking Portuguese. Serving the Lord. #blessedbeyondmeasure And for good measure, I´ll add that you haven’t seen beaches, until you’ve seen these beaches.  And wonderful food always.

We had interviews with Pres. Young this past Saturday. Awesome. He is the man (he looks like Pres. Packer). While Elder Costa was talking with Pres. Young, I talked with Sis Young (mother of 10!). She served a mission in Germany and some of their kids have German names, so we talked about family history, and it turns out that Pres. Young, is a direct descendant of William Bradford, like us. So that’s awesome. He didn’t have time then, but wants to see our family tree, #cousins, but it really was a great interview, He has the spirit so strong, and afterward I felt like I was walking on air. We talked about John 15, which Elder Holland called a guide for missionaries (and I think for life) and which we were asked to read before coming. I´ll recommend it again to everyone.

And short but important thought of the day. 2nd Nephi 32:3. The scriptures really do tell us everything we need to do. Many times they are our way to know the will of heavenly Father.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #23

Dear Family and Friends,

The miracles have been continuing. Remember that blessing we gave last week, my first one in Portuguese? We found out that for the first time in forever the woman is now able to converse, and even walk. Miracle! Yesterday, we received a referral from some other missionaries, they had two youth show up in their ward, but they live in our area, so I´m excited to start teaching them this week. Miracle! We met a missionary who served in Joao Pessoa with Uncle Zach! and he pulled out lots of photos; Uncle Zach, sunglasses, and peace signs flashing. Miracle!

 

And, last p-day we had someone to visit in an area really far away, but it’s also the neighborhood with the golf course. So we decided to leave early and check it out. I had known about it since day one, but hadn’t had a great desire to see it until now. There´s only one other golf course in the entire state, so it was cool getting assigned to this area. We are close by but not really sure how to get there, and we asked one person. And it turns out after talking with him, this person is married to an inactive member, and was taught all the lessons, but on his baptismal day, after changing into the baptismal clothes, literally fled. He continued attending church, for a year, but was never baptized. So we’ve been able to teach them and some of their kids this week. And we were asked by the mother specifically to help the oldest son who is 23.

So when we met him, just trying to get to know him, I asked an inspired question, “Do you like to play soccer? Gustavo said, “No, but I like golf.”` And he invited us to play with him the next p-day, (today!!!) So we went and played a wonderful nine holes, and it was honestly one of the coolest rounds of golf ever.

Gustavo has worked as a caddie for eight years. Now, the course has golf carts so he doesn’t do much there, but he´s still on the list of caddies, so every Monday morning he can play for free….and bring one guest! So this morning (early, early) Elder Costa and I went with three Brazilian caddies and played. We all used the same golf bag, just some old clubs the course has, and played nine holes. Golf- fantastic. Scenery-fantastic.

Culinary tastings-can´t be beaten. It’s more of a garden of Eden than an orchard. While walking, we intermittently stopped to eat fruits: -pitanga -manga (two types) -araca -pinha -laranjinha. The laranjinha is a little orange, about the size of a cherry, and you eat it all, even the peel, which tastes really sweet. And while we were watching some monkeys fight in the trees, as the golf course borders a nature preserve, our host holed out from 70 yards, for a birdie.

The Brazilians don´t know any English, but most golf terms are in English which is interesting. Can I have the “sanchie” (sand wedge)? They use yards in golf here too, not meters like the rest of the country. So perfect p-day.

In other news, we will officially be starting an English class this Wednesday. I´m honestly excited, but nervous, as it’s going to be tough. But I do feel confident now in being able to handle a class of Portuguese speakers. Mostly, but it helps that Elder Costa will be able to help a lot.

And, we´re losing a lot of members in our ward. Our bishop’s leaving this week to pursue a job opportunity in another state, one family is going to Italy. He said it’s ironic that his great grandfather left Italy after World War 1, and now he´s returning. And there are a couple of families looking to move to the US in the next year. They´ll be missed here.

Because it’s not as hot here, the mangoes have only started falling the last week and this week, and will continue for a while. So I´m back up to my quart of mango juice per day. Holy cow. I´m drinking enough for everyone back there too. At the store, they technically cost six cents per pound, but I think every person who doesn’t live in an apartment has a tree, and members are constantly feeding us mangoes, and giving us some to take home. And jaca. too. We even ate homemade jaca ice cream this past week, which was surprisingly delicious.

We had a worldwide devotional for all the missionaries this past Wednesday which was fantastic. Elder Anderson, Bednar, and Oaks all spoke. I don´t know if it’s open to the public yet, but if it is, I highly recommend watching it. And it was awesome, with over 400 missions in the world, only one was mentioned by name….Vitoria! Apparently Elder Scott visited here three times, and Elder Andersen accompanied one visit, that he spoke about. But, as a mission, we all gathered with our respective zones, so we were in the actual city of Vitoria as they talked about it.

President Monson, said to paraphrase, “I don´t know a sweeter experience than to hearken to the whisperings of the Spirit, and then learning that God has used us to answer someone else´s prayer.”

So, have the Spirit, listen to the Spirit, and watch miracles happen!!

Love,

Elder Schenewark

P.S. My glasses are bad. The front gloss is rubbing off for some reason. I meant to take a picture but forgot. Right now, I’´m using my old glasses and am seeing fine. But if you could check on a warranty or something, I´d appreciate it!. If there is a warranty, I’d much rather get contacts here or something than more glasses if possible.

P.P.S. And, I´m definitely the only missionary here, American or Brasilian w/o a credit card! What was I thinking! I don´t need money right now, totally fine, but could we think of some way, in which I could eventually get a  little?

Carry On

Dear Family and Friends,

Elder Costa and I have definitely seen the Lord´s hand in our lives this week. Some special experiences: We received a referral and went with the member to give a member of the family a blessing. There, we met the family, mom, stepdad, 15 y.o. twins, a 10 y.o., and a 6 y.o., just a nice family. And we learned that one of the twins was just diagnosed with cancer in her leg. If it isn’t healed by the radiation and chemo, which usually it isn’t, they will be cutting off her leg. So when we went there, you could tell how hard this had been for the family (and the stepfather has been unable to find work), and the atmosphere was truly humble. The Spirit was strong as we left a blessing, and we’ve taught the family a couple times since. It’s hard for them right now, as the daughter can´t leave the house with her weakened immune system, and they will be leaving to stay in the hospital for awhile, so I don´t know what we´ll be able to do for them, but it was special, and I knew we are acting as representatives of Jesus Christ.

On Thursday, we went with a member to visit a less-active who hadn’t been to church since her records were transferred here, so no one knows her. We went, and it turns out that she is bed ridden and has been for a couple years. She moved here so her daughters can take care of her. We gave her a blessing as well, I actually did in Portuguese for the first time, instead of just anointing, and I´ll honestly never forget it, as I felt prompted and knew the exact words to speak. She won´t be able to come to church, but we arranged to have some members visit here again.

Sunday morning, we visited another referral, and taught two kids and their mother. The daughter is 9 or 10 and has come to church now for a couple weeks and loves it, and the mom wanted to learn more. And she loves it as well. They both want to be baptized, and were truly an answer to our prayers. The mom drinks coffee and smokes a lot. We taught the word of wisdom after church, and the Spirit again was so strong. I really liked what Elder Costa said. He related how quitting will be hard (we challenged her to quit immediately) but asked her to remember the Savior´s sacrifice for us, and how nothing we do can do will ever repay him for that gift of the Atonement. But he asks that we keep the commandments. She said she wants to quit, and we´re excited to keep working with the family this week.

On Saturday, our lunch was changed from  noon to 1. We were working when the member called, and because we had some time we hadn´t planned for, we decided to visit a recent convert of a year, Murilo, who is 19 y.o. We went and when he saw us, he was elated. He told us how he had prayed on Thursday that the missionaries or someone from the church would come visit him before Sunday. And here we were. How many times has lunch for us been pushed back? I can´t recall one time. But that day, we needed to visit him. He has been having a rough time, and his parents aren’t interested in church, but we were able to help him, and it strengthened my testimony as well, that God knows us and loves us. And he works through his servants.

Wednesday, there will be a worldwide broadcast for all missionaries, which we are excited for.

Dad mentioned the recession, and I am 99% certain it’s not the worst since 1901, but it is bad. Inflation was over 10% last year, and right now I think it’s about 15%. And Serra is fairly affluent (compared to Cacheiro or Vitoria) and there are some members here who are struggling. They have really good jobs with the oil/gas industry (some work offshore) but that whole industry is struggling right now, and some of them won´t receive pay for two months. And for us, last week, the cost of the bus went us from 2.45 to 2.75 a ride, so that hurts.

I haven´t heard much about the Olympics. People here  generally watch the games, but at least here, there´s not much excitement. They paint the streets every four years with soccer pictures/murals, whether the games are being held in Russia or like last time in Brasil, but I haven´t seen anything like that here.

Love you all!

Elder Schenewark

Working Hard. Praying Fervently.

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, another week, and not much to report on the baptism front. The font´s been dry here.

I love Ether 12:6,12: “Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith….for if there be no faith among the children of men, God can do no miracle among them.”
We´re working hard. We´re praying fervently. And maybe this is our test. I don´t know. But we´ll keep moving forward. We´ve decided to switch neighborhoods we´ve been working in, and go to some much farther away. But other than that, there´s not much to change. I think we´re working great together, and I feel the Spirit when we teach; but the people have to make the choice for themselves.

Once this week, we went to an appointment, and spoke with one of the little kids to ask if the mom was there. The child says, “Yes,” then comes running back and says, “Mommy says to tell you she is sleeping.” That made us smile.
The laugh of the week goes to Elder Costa hands down. He´s been a great companion, and he loves to sing. And he sings good, so I like it too. During lunch at a member´s house, he left to go to the bathroom. Sitting at the table, I hear, “High on a mountaintop, a banner is unfurled, ye nations now look up (flush) it waves to all the world!” I almost died. He knows lots of hymns in English, and finished the Book of Mormon in English today. He started in July, and testifies to everybody trying to learn English, how much it’s helped him.

On Wednesday, we were a little disappointed, and we decided to eat some Acai. And holy cow, that is so good. Amazingly good. I’ve wanted more every day since.

I went on a division with the Zone Leaders on Saturday in Vitoria. One of them, Elder McDown is from Flower Mound, Texas which I think is only like thirty minutes away from ya’ll but I can´t remember.

I received mail again this week, and Aunt Jenny asked what I do for exercise, which I´ll respond to. Mostly just body weight exercises, but I have a big rubber exercise band that helps a lot as well. Some mornings, I do a set of sit-ups, read a little in the Liahona, then more sit-ups repeating until 7:00 a.m. But usually there´s more exercise and more variety. No running.

Yesterday in Gospel Principles class, we read a quote which I love, and this is only a translation: God chose a time and a place for your birth, where you would be able to learn the specific lessons that you need to do the best possible work with your talents and personality.

Just another reminder that God knows us personally, and that we are on earth to succeed in all things.

Love you all!

Elder Schenewark

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.

Letter #17: Movin’ On

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, the news of this week is definitely……..EMERGENCY TRANSFER!!!!!

On Thursday I had to make the three hour trip into Vitoria, to register at the Federal Police Station there. On Wednesday night, I talked with Pres. Young for about an hour, and he prayed, called back, and said he had a strong impression that a transfer needed to happen. So we packed that night, and were gone at 6 a.m. the next morning to conduct business in Vitoria, and after I was picked up by my new companion, Elder Costa.  So my companion, and one of the other missionaries in our house were transferred, and I´m in Serra!!

The last couple weeks have been really hard, and I didn´t realize how hard until I left. Elder Costa is fantastic, he´s from Recife. Our first day, we were talking, and as he kept talking, his words were exactly what I and the President had talked about, basically what I had been praying my companion would believe. So I asked him if Pres. Young had told him everything, and he said no. He just asked how obedient I was on a scale of 1-10. So, everything’s so much better. Like I said, I didnt realize how tough it was on me. I feel like I´ve died and gone to heaven. We get along great, and I´m learning everyday. I just feel peace. And the Spirit is with us, so expect miracles. He´s been out 11 months, and this is his second area, and this is already my fourth. I´d love to stay here a while.

Serra has about 1/2 million people, and is close to Vitoria. And it’s totally different than Cacheiro. No hills. A strong, almost constant wind, and much lower temperatures, maybe 10 degrees. We are living with two other missionaries, Elder Garcia from the northeast of Brazil, and Elder Carvalho from Sao Paulo. Their area is right on the beach, and we´re usually about 2-3 miles away. It’s so great here!

We had our ward Christmas dinner on Saturday which was fun. The ward is really strong. I´ve been asked what was the best food I ate this week, and I have to say it was on Saturday. We had vaca atolada (basically a roast) and aipim (which is a root, and my first time having it, it was really good) with the customary rice and beans. Afterwards we had ice cream. I also had the best hamburger ever. It had banana, meat, bacon, and potatoes, I can´t even explain, but it was really good. and the equivalent of $2.

Have you heard of the Zika virus? [It’s a mosquito-borne disease which causes in general a mild febrile illness with a rash. Aedes mosquitoes are considered as the main vectors. Before 2007, viral circulation and a few outbreaks were documented in tropical Africa and in some areas in Southeast Asia. Since 2007, several islands of the Pacific region have experienced outbreaks. In 2015, ZIKV disease outbreaks were reported in South America for the first time, and is now considered as an emerging infectious disease.An unusual increase of congenital microcephaly was observed in some regions in north eastern Brazil in 2015. Causal relationships are currently under investigation.] In Caheiro there were a couple mosquitoes, here there aren’t any.

The ward mission leader served in Londrina. He said he recognized my name, but was coming home right when Tanner got there. His name is Elder Lima.

The three Brazilians in the house are trying to learn English, so it’s been nice being able to help others with the language. My companion actually knows it really well, and I can´help him much. He taught himself. He´s smart, and wants to be a lawyer. I´m very lucky to be companions with him.

Tomorrow we have a special missionary Christmas conference with our zone that I´m excited for. Right now, we dont have many people too teach, so we´re working on finding more.

On Sunday, I taught the young men/young women about missionary work and challenged them to invite two friends this week to learn more about the church. But I did it all by myself, probably a 10-15 speech, and they understood, so I was super happy. Portuguese is coming along. I make sure to speak Portuguese to my companion still, even though sometimes he could understand my English better.

Quote of the week goes to Pres. Uchtdorf. “Now is part of eternity. It doesn’t only begin after we die.”

I´m looking forward to a great week.

Love,

Elder Schenewark