Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 26, 2013

Mom, and everybody else,

Things are going great in La Gran Manzana (that means big apple but I'm not sure if anyone actually says it in spanish).The zone activity went great we played lots of capture the flag and I realized how out of shape I am. Flushing Meadows park is really big, I've already walked through it a couple times, and I saw the big globe. It's pretty cool. Cooking and shopping has been going well. We eat a lot of toast and eggs and cereal and yogurt in the mornings and lots of sandwiches in the afternoon. We get about 4 dinner appointments a week and will eat out every once in a while and eat left overs a lot. and I will get a chance to pick up my easter package in the mission office. We can go down on the next pday probably. We've had a lot of meetings at the mission office recently but those are slowing down now. I like my apartment fine. The mission is upgrading everyone's apartments to nicer places and ours hasn't been upgraded yet, so I'm excited for that when it comes. I've only seen one other, the zone leaders', which is in our same building. Theirs was much bigger than ours. Rent is really expensive here though. We saw a monthly reminder slip to pay the rent and it was $1200 for our tiny little pad. On a typical day we won't go too far from our apartment. The farthest we go on average is probably 10-15 minutes or less by bus. Sometimes we go further.

What do I like about the big city? People are generally pretty nice when you actually get to talk to them. When you ask the missionaries here about what they love, they say the people. There are parks everywhere with basketball hoops and handball courts and some other open space. I like that. Then there are the times you run into crazy people and you decide you don't want to live in a big city like that for your whole life. Plus I really like doing my laundry at home over doing it down the street.

Tell Drew that spanish with native speakers will probably turn his world upside down, and listen to as much native spanish as he can online, on tv or anywhere. If I were preparing for my mission I would read preach my gospel and just read it through so I understand what is in there and where it's all at. Reading the Book of Mormon a lot in English and Spanish is a good idea. I learned in the MTC to study in your first language so you learn better (Doctrine and Covenants 84:85, also somewhere in section 11-maybe verse 21). But reading in Spanish is a good way to get a handle on the church/scriptural language. And yes, I just quoted scripture in my email home. But that's what I'm supposed to be doing now.

Thanks for all the love,

Elder Schenk

P.S. So you may have realized that I sent this on tuesday instead of monday. Yesterday we were kind of hurried to go to an activity for a different zone. We went to a church with a big basketball court (our chapel doesn't have a cultural hall) where we played basketball and had a barbeque. Then I learned that another missionary there played volleyball for BYU so we started peppering and then volleyball started and we played that for a little bit. People continue to complement me on my volleyball skills. Thanks Diane!

So back to my main point. Yesterday I was finishing up my email and then my thirty minute session at the library computer ran out, and it logged me off. So we are back today to finish our emails. Yesterday I went to the mission office on the way home from the zone activity and my Easter package was already there! We opened it up but Elder Rose and I are going to try not to eat the candy until Sunday. He was really excited to see a bag of candy for him. And we already broke the tail thing off the nerf football, but we are still having a lot of fun with it. Thanks so much!

We do proselyting now, but I think two or three transfers ago the whole mission only did service and clean up for hurricane sandy victims all transfer long. I guess everyone loved it and it was an incredible experience serving all day every day. Now work has resumed as usual. I really like my branch, they are all really nice and fun members. We are going to play soccer with some of them tomorrow. Love you!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 18, 2013

Hey Dad,
Things are going good. I don't feel like I've gotten to the point yet where every day or week is incredible and I feel my life changing. This week went well. It feels like I have been here way longer than just two weeks. I feel like it has been at least a month, probably more like a month and a half. The days go fast and I guess the weeks go by at a normal pace, but I feel like looking back the time feels much longer.
Our appointment with the man from the Street Life ministry went pretty well. He for some reason asked if Elder Izatt and I could go. Elder Izatt is an English speaking missionary here who has been here about 7 months and is really good. So we had a little exchange for that lesson. The man (his name is Riley and I don't know how to spell it exactly) was excited to see us and said he really enjoyed talking to us. We didn't give any lessons, we discussed what Jesus means to us, then we talked about why its important to read the Book of Mormon and he would tell us about the Anti-mormon stuff that he has found. I have pretty much no experience with that kind of stuff but Elder Izatt handled it well. "If you just look at Anti-Mormon stuff that's what you're going to find." He said well maybe the people who make it are honestly searching, which may be true, but we were pretty straightforward with him. At zone conference recently we were given a workshop about being bold, so I was feeling pretty bold and practically told him he was feeling the spirit and had to read the book of mormon. But I said it more like a challenge than that. The next time the missionaries teach him we/they need to teach him the first lesson I think and teach him all the reasons he should want the Book of Mormon and the Church to be true. That is one thing I have realized recently. Because I understand where a lot of people are coming from that are hesitant. We are asking them to do exactly what we don't want to do. Give up our church. But then I realized something. No church offers more than ours. Basically we all believe the same thing. Believe in God and Jesus Christ, obey them, and have Eternal Life. But within that we have so much more than they do. Priesthood in the home to protect, guide, and give blessings (good job Dad!), the Holy Ghost's constant companionship to guide every decision in our lives. Temple ordinances and covenants that bind us closer to God, teach us, and seal our families together forever. A living Prophet who receives guidance and inspiration and revelation for the WHOLE WORLD. No other church has anything close to that. Our church offers more blessings and happiness here on Earth than any other, and more potential in the life after this one. So not only do I have faith that this is the true Gospel, have hope that it is, because it's the best thing that there is offered to mankind.
You can send my nice tennis rackets if you want. Also if you could send some music cd's. we have a dvd player that can play music. Also could you send the cables that are attached to my music playing chair? I could use those.
We don't have a lot of investigators, and mostly we just try to contact on the street by offering free english class. I say it in English, spanish, and chinese.
Thanks so much for all your prayers! Love you so much!
Elder Schenk

Hi Mom,
I wrote Dad a pretty good letter so I don't have as much to say, so I'll just answer your questions and maybe say a little more.

The busses vary a lot on how crowded they are. I don't know what the trend is, but I think usually they are more open during the day and fuller at night. but usually not too crowded. I don't think I've had the opportunity to give my seat to an older person yet. A lot of times its more convenient just to stand towards the front of the bus.

I've only taught English class once, we get tuesday nights, but last tuesday night I was teaching the guy from the prayer station with Elder Izatt. So I guess the sister missionaries taught last tuesday. I told Dad a lot about the lesson with Riley, the other missionary. It was a really spiritually intense experience. As the conversation went to different topics, the Spirit felt different. Sometimes it was really strong, sometimes it just felt different, not less strong, just different, and when I said that this is all true, or we are all liars, the Spirit whisked away, like saying "we are not liars." I don't know how much of it Riley felt, but it was a good experience.

I'm in a spanish branch, and there are three sets of spanish missionaries in our branch because there are so many people in our area. One of the sisters got here two weeks before me and doesn't have as much spanish experience as me, so when the spanish speakers all complement me on my spanish she doesn't like it too much. So the language is coming pretty great. The best thing to do is just to relax. I can't understand the people here well, but I can express myself pretty well, and the words come so much easier when I just relax and don't worry about talking perfect or fast. So that's advice I would give to people learning a language. I'm excited to hear where Drew goes.

Today we have a zone activity so we are going to Flushing Meadows park (a massive park) to play soccer or volleyball or something. Hopefully the weather stays good.

Thanks so much for your prayers and emails mom. I love you!

Elder Schenk

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pictures from Flushing New York


March 11, 2013 Flushing

 Hi mom!

I have a lot more pictures to send but this is all I could fit in this Email. I'll try to send some more. I am feeling pretty good still after a week. I feel like I have been here longer already. I feel comfortable here even though everything is pretty new. The weather is a lot like Washington so I enjoy it. The English class we teach is Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Elder Rose and I teach on Tuesday. The spanish speaking sisters in our district teach Wednesday and the other Spanish speaking elders in our district teach on saturday. All three of our companionships go to the same branch, Flushing 1. The English classes cover really simple things. Last week we taught about giving personal information. Address, height, age, birthday, phone number, and things like that. It goes pretty well and last time we had about 12 people there. We hand out a lot of flyers for the class on the street. My first sunday went pretty well. I met a lot of the ward but remember pretty much none of their names. The branch president had me speak and introduce myself for a minute, and later someone from the stake spoke and talked about how I was a great example of the gift of tongues. That was kind of exciting. The food is pretty good. I enjoy the dinner appointments. Apparently really hot food is just popular among Mexicans. There are a lot of El Salvadorians here, and we run into a lot of Dominicans too, which makes my companion Elder Rose pretty happy because he started his mission there and is going back after his mission ends in August. I'm finding my way around town fairly well, I just follow Elder Rose. Our Apartment is pretty small. We have a small kitchen, small living room (where we sleep, eat, and do everything) a small bedroom where we don't do much, and a small bathroom.

The best thing that happens is the times when we actually get a full conversation with people. usually that happens with English speakers. We actually ran into a group that had a prayer station set up right where we were going to set up a station of our own. We talked to one guy and it turns out they are all missionaries, too. He has been waiting soooo long to be able to ask some mormons a lot of questions he has had about a lot of things he has heard about our church, and he wants to clear some things up with the bible and book of mormon conflict. So he asked if Elder Izatt and I could come by tuesday night and talk. Elder Izatt is one of the English speaking missionaries in our district. We will see how this goes. The guy had some hard questions of things that I wasn't really familliar with, so pretty much my whole goal is to have him feel the Spirit.

I don't know what the worst thing that happened last week was. Yesterday we went to visit a referral but he wasn't home. And it took a while taking the bus to his house and finding where it was. That's the thing here. It's hard to be punctual when you are just riding the bus. It takes time. Tell Gigi good luck on her mission! and she might meet Elder Hendryx who is still in the mtc going to russia. I got another picture with him. I gotta go.

Love you so much thanks for your prayers!

Elder Schenk


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

First Letter from New York - March 5, 2013

Hi Mom,

I'm at the Queens library right now. I am loving New York so far. Last night we went to an 8-story building and looked out over the whole city and write out our mission goals. President Calderwood also did short interviews with us. I love him as my President. I can already feel his love for me and all the missionaries. Sister Calderwood is the same. She made us sack lunches and dinner yesterday. She is a good cook, and I enjoyed the home cooking. Usually when new missionaries come, they get a really big group. The last two times they got over 20. But because we were in the advanced class, there were only three of us. The rest of the missionaries at the mtc that are coming to our mission will get here at the end of this transfer. I kind of snuck in two weeks into the transfer. My trainer is Elder Rose, he's from Provo. He loves sports a lot, and that is the way he likes to contact, so this will probably be a really fun area. I'm excited. Speaking of which, could you send my frisbee and two tennis rackets? those might come in handy here. I don't need my good ones.

Last night we had a fireside and stayed the night at the Calderwood's home. The Assistants were my companions for the night. I like them. One, Elder Munday, is from England and has a cool accent. The other, Elder Ferry is from Utah. He is spanish speaking and Elder Munday is English speaking. The word is, spanish speaking missionaries here get dinner appointments all the time, and the food is great. English speakers hardly ever get them. While I was looking over New York city last night, I felt such a good feeling that I am meant to be here. I know that I am meant to be here.

My area is in Queens, and I can't remember what it's called, but it starts with an F. The majority of people here are Chinese. While taking the bus, every store had it's name in English and Chinese Characters. At the mission office last night they told us to just have you send all the letters to the mission office, and they will send the mail to us the next morning after they get it. I have the bedding, and have unpacked, I just haven't organized where my things are all put. They are mostly piled on my desk and our table.

My Companion originally got called to the Dominican Republic and was there for a while until he blew out his knee playing basketball. He had already injured it before he got out, and then it didn't heal all the way, and then he really injured it while on his mission. So he went home and had surgery and got sent to New York New York South. He has been in Staton Island almost the whole time here, because he needed to be in an area with a car for his knee. So we are both learning the area a little bit.

One thing we do to contact is we give English lessons. Just outside the library we handed out info slips about it and people are pretty interested for the most part. Especially about the Free part. But we have to tell people about it as they are walking past, so it's kind of hard. He had me do one where I started it by myself, saying "Como Esta? Damos clases de ingles gratis. Tiene interes? tenemos clase hoy a las siete" But there was a little bit of stuttering in there. Then he jumped in and told them more about it.

We have a visit today at four and then we have class at seven tonight. I think my companion and I will get along well. He leaves in three transfers. I am also supposed to do the 12 week training in the next 10 weeks so that way I am done by the end of next transfer. I need to write my mission president now with my weekly letter. I will be writing on mondays usually, but today is my first real day so I can email and we are going shopping and that kind of stuff.

About my mission President. I love him, he is fantastic. His focus is on changing ourselves and the people. not just baptizing them. Because too many fall away right after baptism. His ideal is pretty much what is said in Elder David A. Bednar's MTC devotional called the Character of Christ. This is a fantastic talk. you should try to find it. Maybe it's on youtube. My trainer said that President Calderwood's style is that he leaves a lot of our decisions up to us. He gives us trust and lets us decide what to do in terms of music and other kinds of things. As long as we can feel the spirit with what we are doing then we are doing good.

Love you!

Elder Eric Schenk
ps you should be getting a letter soon from the mission that has a short letter written from me and then the mission will give you some information too
Also, my area is called Flushing. Love you!

Friday, March 1, 2013

March 1, 2013

Hey Family!

I can't figure out how to attach photos, so I'll send some later. I have photos of my district eating the cinnamon rolls and lots of other pictures.

How do you like the schedule? I am really good at getting up in the morning, and pretty good at going to bed close to 6:30. But journal writing and talking to roommates and companionship prayer keep me up sometimes. I'm working on it. But I like the schedule pretty well. It keeps me busy and I'm getting good sleep at night and I don't have much time to think about other things besides missionary work
How is your Espanol coming along? Bastante bien. I'm getting better for sure. I don't speak spanish all the time, actually I speak a lot of English because everyone here does, but when we are out and about we show off. I am getting to understand others talking a lot better than the first day. I don't understand everything but I can follow lessons and conversations without much trouble.
Are you learning about New York? Nope, but here's my travel info: report to travel office at 4:00 AM! I leave March 4 (Monday). Depart salt lake 715 am flight delta 1950. arrive detroit 12:46. depart detroit 1:56 delta flight 2148 arrive 3:45 new york La Guardia

Have you seen your old friends in the MTC now that you're there too? I have seen TONS of people that I know. From our stake: Sister Cross, Hermana Murray, Hermana Johnson, Elder Barkdull. From my dorm hallway: Elder Hendryx, Elder Barker, Elder Reynolds, Elder Vance. All of them are speaking Espanol except Sister Cross and Elder Hendryx (who is speaking russian and will still be there when Gigi reports). All of them have been here a lot longer than me and I leave before all of them except Elder Reynolds, who left this week. I see them all the time at mealtime and during gym time. It's fun.
Are you sleeping and eating well? Staying healthy? I am sleeping pretty well. I don't have as much time as I would like to eat (especially because my companion eats a lot less than me.) so my granola bars have come in handy, but I'm doing well. I am eating healthy mostly although I eat desserts too. And I am eating lots of vitamin c's. My district is staying pretty healthy too so that doesn't seem to be a problem.

Well, I really am missing my work out buddy. Hopefully you're getting some exercise. - I mostly just play volleyball during gym. Its really fun and I am one of the better people (someone asked me if I played in high school) but I need to do something that is better exercise. I play basketball but don't always make it into the games because you need to make a free throw to get in and it's been a while since my shot has been good.
Did you get Dad's email, and have you gotten letters from anyone else? I'm getting letters more than a lot of my district but that is overshadowed by one Hermana (sister) in my district who gets over twice as much as anyone else (subtle hint for my fans back home). And I don't see dad's email.

Yesterday we had in field orientation which just means we learned a lot about the work specifically and not just the lessons. It was good. Right now is additional study time. I didn't get a turn at the computer during laundry time, and I waited a lot.

Love you! thanks everyone for the letters! Thanks Brother Stegner and Brother Komar for the letters too!

Elder Schenk