9/3/2017 Welcome to the Big Mingle!

We’ve all heard of the Big Apple, or the Big Easy, well, Provo,  is the Big Mingle. Its good to be back.

Arriving Tuesday night, I stayed at TanMarie’s house that night, before finally going to my new apartment Wednesday. Its spacious, its clean, its quiet…its expensive. While I do have a private bedroom, I share the actual apartment with three others- Jeremiah, Austin, and Derik. All three are currently students at UVU. A quick breakdown: Austin and Derik are longtime friends from the way out in the boondocks town of Filmore, Utah. Biggest attraction/ point of interest? The Maverick gas station. They both graduated in 2014 (same as me) with Derik doing one year of National Guard before serving a mission in Chicago, (returned one month ago) and Austin serving a mission in Washington before going to Snow College for one year, and now here. I haven’t gotten to know Jeremiah as well, he grew up mostly in Albuquerque, NM, before heading to the D.C. area. He’s been at UVU for a couple years now. They all have been friendly, and seem organized and clean. I’m calling it a win, and look forward to our year together.

Annemarie also took me shopping at Costco, which was a huge help. I think I’m stocked for this semester. Its going to be good. The non-perishables….

My first night there, I felt like a celebration was in order, so I decided to cook salmon (can’t do that often!) I might just move the coaches over to the kitchen table, they are COMFY! My packing was admittedly done without as much thought and preparation as usual, and I left a couple things sort of important (belt, bedsheets, camera, etc. ) so it was nice to remember I had a coaster (shout out to the Bach’s!) It’s nice to feel at home.

I’m waiting to hear back from a couple companies about ”real jobs” but Friday I was happy to be rehired working with BYU Special Events – and turned right around and worked that nights soccer game, which saw BYU go down in a fantastic game to #1 UCLA. For three hours, I stood on the bleachers telling students, ”no, no, you can’t sit there, those seats are reserved.” ”But they are empty?!!!?” ”Yes, but that’s because the people bought them so they don’t have to show up 2 hours early like y’all to get seats.” Attendance record was set, 5,700+ showing up, 700 being standing room only. It was a spirited, nail-biter of a game. After an early UCLA goal, BYU had a couple opportunities to tie it, the best coming with 10 minutes left, on a breakaway and with the goalie leaving the box, the BYU player kicked and the ball hit the crossbar. So close. A lot better than football on Saturday. One roommate from freshman year contacted me, and he took me first to Buffalo Wild Wings, where we decided not to wait three hours, and went to Texas Roadhouse. Nothing like a ribeye. Thanks Kevin! And then he dropped me off at Uncle Ben’s and Aunt Joy’s house where we (Hutchins family, Aunt Jenny, Stevie, TanMarie) enjoyed each others company and tried to ignore what LSU was doing to BYU.

First day of church today. Wrong time to be a clerk. We welcomed about 100 people into the ward. It has a good dynamic. Next week will be a regional conference at the Marriott Center, but after that, I should receive my calling……..

This is Porter’s bike he left. Left locked up with no key. I visited the campus police and they came out and cut the lock off. Our conversation was tough. Are you a freshman? No. But the bike is parked on the freshman dorms? Yes. Actually, on the women’s freshman dorms? Yes. School hasn’t even started, how did you lose the key already? Its complicated. Do you have ID to prove its yours? No. I tried explaining, and after a thorough interrogation, they decided to simply take my info down in case anybody reported a stolen blue bike, but as one officer said, ”If I was going to steal a bike, I wouldn’t steal this one.”

On my mission, I gained such a strong testimony of the prophets, and loved every single second of general conference. However, it was essentially relegated to that, as we read only from a the scriptures and a couple other books in the ‘missionary library.’ I’ve been patiently waiting to use BYU’s library, and during this laid back week have feasted on the word. Reading biographies of men  like L. Tom Perry, and Boyd K. Packer, it is obvious at once they have been prepared, chosen, and guided from on high. I am so thankful for living prophets. I know as we emulate them, we are emulating our Savior.

Ok, heading out, going to mingle in the Big Mingle. Have a great week!

8/10/2017 Hidden Oaks Golf Course

What should have been a straighforward par 5 was turning into trouble. From 175 yards, my ball hooked right into a pond. my approach from there hit in front of the flag, but took a hard bounce and finished 18 feet past.

Sawyer was having his own troubles, and Miller was gunning for a par. I turned to him, ”Miller, if I make this putt, I get to name your first kid.”

”no way!!! It’s not that hard of a putt!” “ok, then what do I get?” ”You can decide the middle name.” Thinking to myself, what a bargain! I lined it putt, hit it exactly how I wanted to, and was overly dismayed to not see it break at all, but go dead straight, and three inches to the left of the cup. Next time mill-dog.

In the Company of Prophets, by Heidi Swinson

A quick and easy read, this book tells the story of D. Arthur Haycock who worked for seven church presidents, being their personal secretary most of that time. I enjoyed his personal stories, and the way he brought the men sometimes only seen at General Conference, to us, in an everyday manner.

To include only one quote, Camilla Eyring Kimball wrote to her husband, the prophet, Spencer ”On this your eighty-fifth birthday, my beloved husband, my heart is full of gratitude for the sixty-two years we’ve been privileged to share. They’ve been filled with joy and sadness. Sharing has made the joy more fulfilling and the sadness easier to bear. You have been patient with my foibles and richly fulfilled my needs. Your love and understanding has helped me over the rough spots. Our travels around the world have brought joyful and rewarding memories. In addition to my great love for you, I deeply respect and honor your undaunted courage in meeting successfully the many challenges which have filled your life. your complete and unwavering dedication to your callings and service to others has been a lifetime of inspiration to me.”

2.4/5

Lectures on Faith

3.5/5

The Lectures on Faith is a short work, broken up into seven different lectures, each of which looks at faith from a different logical perspective. While the exact authorship is debated, the general consensus holds that no one person was responsible for the work, but rather a committee, in which Sidney Rigdon appears to have written the majority.

Given to the School of Prophets in Kirtland, they were included as part of the Doctorine and Covenenants, i.e. the standard works, for 86 years before being removed on the basis that ”they were never presented to nor accepted by the church as being other than theological lectures or lessons.”

To state the obvious, reading these lectures, my faith was increased as well as my understanding of what it is. The lectures start by showing that everything we do is based around the principle of faith. Did you apply for a job? Only because you have faith you will gain employment. Would you knock on a door not believing someone will answer it? “Are not all your exertions of every kind, dependent on your faith? Or, may we not ask, what have you, or what do you possess, which you have not obtained by reason of your faith?” Reflecting on my life, I could see how this really is true, and have since determined to act with more faith in my life. To take a step into the darkness, striving ever higher for the seemingly unreachable goals. For with faith, all is possible.

In the third lecture, we learn about faith unto salvation.  There are three things we must have faith on in order to reach exaltation. “First, the idea that he [God] actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which [one] is pursuing is according to his [God’s] will.” As the gospel according to John succinctly records, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” If our potential is to become like our Heavenly Father, we must obviously learn who He is, and model our actions and behaviors after His. And, as that can be a stretch in our early spiritual growth, we can look to His Son who he sent, and His authorized servants to follow.

Lecture sixth was my favorite. ”Let us here observe that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things.” We are held slaves to that which we cannot leave………. ”It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life. ”

”But those who have not made this sacrifice to God do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty are, there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; so that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak; and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.” ”mic drop.”

This one is very simple to understand- we must be completely willing to sacrifice everything in order to inherit the kingdom of God. If we do not have the faith to do that, we do not have faith sufficient to live with our Heavenly Father.

So, have faith.

I recommend, without reservations this book, for the profit of all. While not scripture, surely reading with the companionship of the Spirit will augment our faith, our understanding of faith and our will to remain ever faithful.

Letter #99

Dear Family and Friends,

What do you say on your last preparation day? I would like to simply bear my testimony one more time, as a representative of our Savior Jesus Christ and His church.

I know that God is our Heavenly Father. He loves us. He yearns for our good. I testify that He sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ to atone for our sins. I know that Christ suffered for each one of us individually. He bled and died for us. He has provided all of us a way, through repentance and His grace, to be able to return and live with them in the Celestial Kingdom.

I know that the Holy Ghost really does guide and lead. He testifies of the truth, fortifies against sin and temptation, and helps us become pure. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and was called to be a prophet. He translated the Book of Mormon. I testify that the Bible and the Book of Mormon both contain the words of God. I am so thankful for the wisdom and truth they contain, and how they can light our paths and help us reach our potential and have the Holy Ghost in our lives.

I know that today we have a living prophet, seer, and revelator in Thomas Monson. I know that it is through obedience that we come unto our Savior. As He said, if ye love me, keep my commandments. I know that when we make mistakes, we can repent, and return to the path. I know that families can be forever. I will be forever grateful for the chance I had to serve here, in the Brasil Vitoria Mission.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Schenewark

Letter #98

Dear Family and Friends,

Last Monday, we visited an old monastery, built in 1558, above the towns of Vila Velha and Vitoria. We made the hike up the mountain, and were greeted by magnificent views and a morning mass. After that, it was off to the branch president´s house where we enjoyed a barbecue a la American style, complete with BBQ sauce.

Tuesday, we had a huge birthday spread, and at night there was a surprise party (pictures to follow later) at a member´s house. And Thursday, we had pasta and then 5 liters of ice cream we had to eat. Delicious! Yet, the best part happened on Tuesday when we were able to give a blessing to a very sick lady in the branch, and she came up to us on Sunday looking like a different person and told us that she had been completely cured. I have seen so many times the power of the priesthood! It is real, and it works miracles!

Wednesday we had zone conference with the Mazzagardi´s. It was wonderful to meet them, and I have been impressed so far. They are different than the Young´s yet have been called of God. Sis. Mazzagardi is a real trooper and inspiration. She lost her two daughters after they were born prematurely due to her cancer. And, with that cancer, she lost the ability to speak (being tongue cancer). She went two years with out speaking anything, and has spent the last eight years learning to talk again. They have stressed strict obedience and the fact that we are representatives of Christ.

Thursday, we had our leadership council with them, where we could again learn a lot, and know of their faith and courage. Wednesday night, we went to Guarapari to do a couple of baptismal interviews. I talked with Sarah, but she had a doubt, so we decided to put the Book of Mormon to the test to try and help her. After a prayer, she opened it up to a random page and pointed to the first verse she saw. I saw that she had opened to Alma 44, and honestly my faith wavered. The war chapters aren’t the best when talking about baptism. But this time, I was the one who really learned a lesson, when the first sentence she read talked about making a covenant of peace. It answered her question, and yesterday was baptized.

For what has to be a new record, it again poured Sunday morning, making four  Sundays straight, making it very hard to bring people to church. This time, we left the house at 7;30, and after having rained all night, I thought it would hold off. Alas, it was not to be, and 15 minutes later, the heavens were opened. And we didn’t have any umbrella, which is not a terrible problem for us, but when we got to our lead investigator’s house, she too did not have an umbrella, and wasn’t willing to venture out without cover. So, we pleaded, ten minutes, and went looking for one. And miraculously, we got one, and everyone made it to church on time.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #97

Dear Family and Friends,

This week saw the end of Pres. Young´s tenure as mission president. And the arrival of Pres. Mazzagardi. Pres. Mazzagardi pulled a surprise and arrived a day early on Friday. I´ll be forever grateful for the Young´s service and the sacrifices they made to be here. I’ve learned a lot and have been eternally blessed. I am sure that the Mazzagardi´s will be fantastic and I am excited to meet them personally on Wednesday.

I also finished the Book of Mormon again this week. It is another blessing in my life. Every time I read it, my testimony grows. I know it teaches the precepts of our Heavenly Father. Following its teachings, we will not be led astray. I’ve been studying about repentance, and one part that struck me was in Ether 15.  Coriantumr, the wicked king, had been warned by the prophet Ether to repent, and after fighting wars and seeing countless deaths, he remembered what Ether said. It says, “He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.

We know what then happened. The entire nation was destroyed. Why? Because Coriantumr began to repent. He never finished the process, and never truly changed, only mourned. This was the moment where the history of that people was changed, and thousands would go on to die. We face pivotal moments too, where we can choose to repent or not. The scriptures teach us we only have two choices. Repent, or suffer. Repentance is not suffering, but not repenting is. To reach our destiny, we must walk the path of repentance, every day.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #96

Dear Family and Friends,

This week, in an effort to really seek to do the Lord´s will, we met with our branch president and some of the other ward leaders. Pres. Young has taught that their are angels preparing people to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. And, the branch president is the person who has the keys of the ministering of angels. So we met up with him, held a meeting, shared what we’ve been doing and asked for a couple families to visit to help him and the branch, and finally to offer a prayer, asking direction for where we should work. The answer was an unanimous one, and we have since focused our efforts on that area, with an increased level of support from the branch.

One activity that helped a lot in our reactivation and tracting efforts was the Festa de Juninha that was held this Saturday. It´s an annual event that essentially celebrates and remembers the past when once a year everyone in the country would go to town. Think rural country fair. The costumes are elaborate, and it involves lots of country dishes and finally a Quadrille dance. Just a while after starting, the heavens opened up and the rain poured down. We quickly dragged everything inside and the celebration continued. I loved the quadrille dance.

Another highlight this week was a pancake night a member put on for us. Think unlimited pancakes, maple syrup, eggs, and bacon. And that’s after not having it for two years. The family was actually the family that started the church in Itaperuna 8 years ago, and we had some fond reminiscing as well.

We´ve all been a little down under the weather this past week, but E. hatch get hit the hardest, and might even have had dengue to go with his cold. A member was telling us about some miracle drug, the name of which sounds like “chileno.” The three Americans were all buying it, a wonder pill, not too expensive, and readily available at  the drugstore. And then we figured it out- Tylenol. It was a funny experience, and I am happy to report that with the help of this ´´new´´ medicine my companion is much better now. He ended up spending one day completely confined to bed, but we already had a split scheduled for that day with one of the district leaders so the work continued and I sneakily got out of staying home doing nothing.

Reading this week from Ether , in chapter 2;25 the Lord reassures the brother of Jared about their upcoming voyage. “And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.

And it´s the same for us. We cannot cross the great seas- we cannot successfully complete our mission, or marry, or raise kids or whatever else our challenge might be without having the help of the Lord. But with His help, we can truly do all things (Phil. 4;13!). He will prepare us, and we will make successfully this voyage of life, until we make it back to Him.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Letter #95

Dear Family and Friends,

We ran out of the gates to start this transfer, especially me, being determined to finish whatever work I have left. We had invited the zone to join us for a special fast on Saturday and Sunday and as we were united with a special purpose, we saw lots of miracles. On Saturday, we met a family that has been hearing the messages and preparing for baptism. Angela, is a single mother and has three kids.

We also received a referral from the sisters of a young man they had met, Richard, who is 17. The sisters met him Saturday, and we had never met him before picking him up for church on Sunday. Definitely a blessing! He was waiting for us, already to go, and loved church, and the Branch president told us that he likes him and wants to give special attention to that future missionary.

We also were stopped by a churro vendor on Friday. He had actually stopped us in the street about a month ago on a bicycle, but we had never ever found him in house when we stopped by. Well,  he started conversing with us and urged us to also try his wares. A regular ploy by street sellers but we each coughed up 2 reais to eat the worst churros I’ve had in my life. Awful. Yet, the spirit had been strong as we talked and he showed up in church at 8:40, even before we did! He loved it, and promised to bring his wife and son next time.

And, we’ve continued working with a member referral, a couple who are trying to marry, and also have been appreciating the missionary lessons preparing for baptism. I am thankful for the doors that have been opened, the people we’ve taught, and the chance to help them find true happiness. I think I’ve worked with more families in this last week than in the rest of my mission combined and that has made me so happy. Families are forever.

Often I’ve reflected on significant dates, such as D-day or even Veteran´s day, that have no real meaning here in Brasil. And one more of these dates is Father´s day. I reminded my house companions of this fact on Saturday, and they both had forgotten as this holiday is not commemorated here. In fact, it doesn’t even exist. Mother´s day would seem to be universal, as everyone has a mother. Yet, it is difficult to find a family in Brasil where the dad stays with his wife long enough to see the kids grow.

I am so thankful for you dad and for what you did and do for me. I can´t ask for a better example. Father´s truly are essential for a working and thriving society. The Book of Mormon talks a lot about the influence of  ‘traditions of their fathers’ and we are molded by traditions that we are taught. I am thankful for the traditions that I’ve been taught and have been created in our home and hope to always follow them.

Love

Elder Schenewark

Letter #94

Dear Family and Friends,
For my last 6 weeks, I´ll be staying here in Terra Vermelha. I was happy to hear that, and its a bonus that the other two Americans will be staying here as well. It´s been a fantastic transfer, and we´re all excited for this one.
We did a service project this week helping staff a garage sale Brasilian style, in a mall to raise money for a baby who was born with some complications, and needing to go to the USA to have surgery. It was what I needed, to forget about whatever problems the zone is having, and help someone who is in a lot bigger fight.
 Afterwards, I went to the post office and as we were waiting in line Elder Lighten´s nose started to bleed, so we left looking for a bathroom to clean the blood, and all of a sudden security was on to us, and we were quickly escorted into an elevator and into the medical center. It seemed like a movie. We spent the next twenty minutes there, receiving perhaps the best treatment I’ve ever seen. Note to all world travelers, if you are feeling bad, just go to the mall. It beats the doctor any day. This nosebleed put the standby doctors into defcon5 mode, and I was thoroughly impressed by their seriousness and care in treating Elder Lighten. It was honestly hilarious.
The other pair of missionaries, Elders Lighten and Dias baptized two people yesterday. One Vitor, whom we found in a park playing soccer. While I wasn’t the one teaching him everyday, its been incredible to see the change he has undergone. In Ezekiel 18:31, it reads “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit.”
Vitor did just that, cleaning up his life, and changing his heart. Yet it is not just for him. This is something we all need to do. We need to clean up our lives, take out the impurities, and have a new heart. Its not a one week process or even a one year process, but its a lifetime of work to become perfect.
Love,
Elder Schenewark