Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 29, 2013

Hi Dad,

Wow, its great to hear about everyone's missions so far. I'm excited for everyone, Carson especially. It would have been cool to go to his farewell. Last Saturday we had exchanges and it was a good experience. I realized that there are more than one way to do missionary work. Each companionship has their own culture and style of work that they do. I was getting fairly used to the way Elder Rose and I work, and then I had to plan the whole day of the exchange pretty much by myself and use the cell phone that day. And some parts of that day were pretty hectic. I had to do a ton of calling to coordinate something going on in the ward, calling the Sister missionaries, then trying to call people in the ward, except new Yorkers are horrible cell phone answerers, and our phone was dying, so I was trying to charge it at the same time, but the charger on it is very touchy. It was a little crazy but a good experience. On Thursday Elder Rose and I went to the mission office in Rego Park to pick up my packages and some other ones for the zone. I love the backpack, it has the northwest outdoorsy touch that backpacks here don't really have. The cupcakes were really good, and we have about three left in the freezer. I gave some to a family we visited, but they had already been informed of my birthday and brought out Ice Cream Cake! so that was nice. Thursday night we were supposed to play soccer with the branch but the member we planned it with forgot to call people and he didn't come either, but there were a lot of Hispanics playing soccer at the park we went to, so it was really fun.

Thanks also for the short sleeved shirts, they will come in handy soon. I wore one this week and it was nice, but some of the other days it was cooler outside, and today it's raining a bit. I guess I am a lot more used to spring-type weather than most people. It was overcast and probably in the mid to upper 40's or lower 50's and everyone was wearing coats. But I felt pretty comfortable just in my shirt and tie. You and I call it fresh, but nobody really understood that.

This week I gave a short workshop in our District meeting about being happy and enthusiastic. People told me that it was really good. I enjoyed giving it. One of the things on my mission that keeps me happy is realizing what I have been taught many times in the mtc and preparing to come here. I'm not supposed to worry about myself. It's not about you. It's about God. I understand that my growth is really important on my mission, but I fulfill that when I forget myself. When I actually realized that the other week, I actually cheered up. I didn't need to worry about my lost backpack, or other things. Maybe Ammon will realize that, too.

This week was good overall. I started to get a little bit worried that we weren't making enough progress towards our three month goal yet, but I feel like maybe things are picking up more. Our companionship three month goal is three baptisms. The last three months our whole zone got like 1 I think. But in the planning meeting for these three months, our whole district felt inspired to set really high ones. So we need to be working really hard to get this done. I'm a little bit worried that maybe we aren't doing enough to achieve it, so I'm trying to improve my personal obedience and worthiness and lead our companionship to do the same.

Yesterday we had a great step in the right direction. We finally had an investigator to church. He had committed to come the week before but an emergency came up in his work and a job took longer than he expected and needed to be done by Monday, so he didn't come then. But he came yesterday and I think it was really good. He wants to get baptized and is making steps toward it, so that's good.

I am feeling pretty good. I love my zone and district and companion. I love the branch, the more I get to know everyone the more I love them. One major thing that I have learned is how many blessings there are in the Gospel and living it your best. It shows how much God loves us that for every good thing we do, he does something (or multiple things) good for us. He's the Best.

Love you all, Hope you have a good week!

Elder Schenk

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 22, 2013


I haven't gone to get my other package yet, so maybe Elder Rose and I will today. We did get the package with my shoes and rackets and Frisbee and the candy in it. The candy is all gone except for the peeps. We are going to have a microwave battle with them using toothpics. You put a toothpick inside each one and set them close to each other, almost stabbing each other with the toothpicks. Then you turn on the microwave and when they inflate, one of the toothpicks will puncture the other peep. We are waiting to do it with some investigators. One of them has a birthday this Saturday. So it will be a way to celebrate together!

Dedicating the apartments and areas was a good experience. President Calderwood told us that he received revelation about it one Sunday as he was taking the Sacrament. He had been seeking for an answer to something for a long time and that was exactly what he needed. I like what President Snow said about the priesthood. It reminds me a little of the workshop we had in our district meeting on Tuesday. One of the sisters gave a really good workshop on being bold. She has been out for two weeks longer than me, so her experience is still fairly minimal, but she is really bold and we all learned a lot. The workshop was mostly focused on our calling and the power, authority, and trust from God that it holds. We have so much given to us and so much potential, we are supposed to become just like God! we just need to start using our potential and let the miracles flow. And we have seen that so far. I need to work on being more bold. More bold with my companion, with the investigators, probably with other people too.

Today Elder Rose and I rearranged the apartment to try to liven things up and get a little bit of variety going. He's the kind of person that needs to keep things exciting, and I'm the kind of person who loves to take part in that. So our apartment right now is kind of a mess. But we'll fix it when we get back. I really like how close everything is in the mission. Especially in the City. Our District covers one branch, and our zone covers that branch and one ward, all divided over three languages. And we all meet in the same building on Sunday. It lets us see the missionaries around us a lot and I like that. We see each other all the time at the library on Mondays emailing home.

Mother's Day is coming up soon! I'm not sure exactly how the skyping home goes, but I'll find out. Maybe Elder Rose knows. But I'm not sure how we will get a computer with speakers and a camera. We'll figure it out though. This week we have interviews with President Calderwood. I am excited for that. I don't know what they will be like, but I'm excited to learn more from and about him and how he wants us to do the work here.

After losing my backpack a week ago I think I have learned and grown. I had prayed for a challenge in my life (but I also prayed that it wouldn't be something that would slow down my ability to work, like getting injured or sick) and that may have been the answer. I didn't really let it bother me and I've been able to keep a great attitude. I think with that, I learned to be happier daily. Some other missionaries mentioned that I had a great attitude about it. I just think that there's no good reason not to have a good attitude. It's not always easy, until you've made it a habit. Now I just really prefer having a good attitude over a bad one, so I make it happen. Losing my backpack also helped me remember that this mission isn't about me. That was the main though that came to my mind as I accepted that I had lost it. I was thinking "Aw man, I lost all those things and don't have my sweatbands or anything anymore, and that was a nice backpack" then I remembered what I had been told many times, that this isn't about me. Then I remembered why my life is really better than anyone else's, and those two things cheered me right up. I don't have to worry about myself or those kind of things, because this isn't about me. It's actually kind of liberating thinking about that. It's easier to do that also when all of your needs are taken care of too. Last week we were a little bit lower on food in the apartment than usual, but with some creativity and a lot of unplanned dinner appointments I ate better and healthier than I usually do. God takes great care of us.

Turning 19 will be kind of weird this week. I will be as old as a lot of the missionaries out here now. A lot of the people in my zone have said "you're only 18?! that's so weird!" Now I will have to remember that I'm not 18 anymore. I guess I will need to start acting like I'm a year older too now.

Thanks everyone for the letters! I will try to reply to them all today. And Katie, I will make sure I get a postcard in the mail pronto. Love you all (especially you Mom)!

Elder Schenk

Hey dad,
No, I haven't been able to teach the backpack stealer yet, but maybe we just have to wait a bit more. Or maybe they are from Corona at the other side of the park and contacted the missionaries there. Thanks for taking care of my credit card and license. Without a backpack or wallet I've been travelling pretty light recently and keeping it simple. And I haven't really missed having a lot of stuff with me, so I think I'm learning a lesson on simplicity. When I go get my backpack I'll have to simplify what I put in. I got the package with the rackets, and I loved the little add-on to fit the handles in. I love the shoes, and was really surprised when I pulled them out of the box. That was good timing. My other shoes are already well-used. It felt really weird wearing basketball shoes though. I haven't worn new shoes like this in a few years so I felt weird running before I got used to it. They are working great so far and I feel like they will last longer than the others. Maybe today we will go to the mission office and get the other package.
Everything is going pretty good here. I'm continually noticing miracles and improvements in the people since we dedicated the area. Our English class that we teach has had a lot more people recently, and we generated a lot of interest when we had an English Class fiesta and showed The Testaments. People here care about their homelands. They love it when we know something special about their home country, (usually we mention a food that they like) so when people hear that Jesus came to the Americas it is important to them. 
In the last couple of days I realized that I need to take a more leadership role in our companionship while we are out and about. I usually let Elder Rose lead out with most lessons or conversations or saying that we need to be home soon, so I am going to work on that.
One thing that I am noticing a lot is all the blessings promised in the gospel. As we study Preach My Gospel I see that all throughout are blessings offered when we keep a certain commandment or are faithful in a certain principle. Commandments are the way we get blessings, so the more blessings you want, the more obedient you should be.
Thanks for everything Dad, Love you!
Elder Schenk

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 15, 2013


That's so exciting that the Castanis got baptised! Way to go Dad, you are like the ideal member for a missionary to work with. One thing that has really surprised me here on the mission is that we as missionaries need to start up the conversations and maintain them when we go over to a members house. I was really expecting to get a lot of questions from the people here, but really they don't ask them. But a lot of hispanics love to talk. Sometimes they will just go off on something and I get way lost. When people do that in English it's hard to pay attention and answer. When it's in spanish it's pretty much impossible. Elder Rose is really good with talking to people though. He is a people person, where I am not as good at keeping an interesting conversation going or connecting with people from the start. But that's something that I'm praying for help on and is just one of the few gifts I feel like God hasn't already given me. So I guess I deserve a challenge and should be patient and do my best.

For Thomas and Drew (and Andre when he gets home). Learning the language is not supposed to be an easy thing (I was just super lucky to have a lot of good Spanish experience) but one thing that I have no doubt of is the gift of tongues. On day one and the morning of day two at the MTC Elder Schenk was a-strugglin' with the language. I was getting better quickly, but being immersed in class was rough. I couldn't understand the conversations. The accents and speed were hard to pick up, so I could get the main point of each sentence, but I wasn't able to connect the thoughts and ideas. So I told Heavenly Father about that and asked to be worthy/ready for the gifts of the language that he promised me in my setting apart. Pretty soon we took a descansito (short break) and our teacher talked to me pretty simply and shortly in spanish just to see where I learned my Spanish. He was impressed with what I knew with only 3 years of high school. The descansito ended. And then the flip switched. In a five minute break, my spanish fluency honestly jumped from about 50% to probably a solid 75%. That afternoon I was doing sooooo goood! and we went to lunch or dinner and Elder Dominguez in my district said "Elder Schenk I'm so impressed with your spanish!" I was on cloud nine. I'd say my fluency now is about 80% and my comprehension of other speakers is improving. So tell them what my favorite mtc teacher told me. To be successful you need to do three things. Work hard (your hardest-that's a given). Be obedient (you start to understand this more when you get on your mission). And Pray often (God wants to give you every blessing, and some require you to ask. And you can get guidance of how to receive the others).
I haven't been able to go to the mission office yet and check for my package, but some other missionaries in my zone went and grabbed a package for me from Grandma Schenk with Conference Muffins in it! Thanks so much Grandma! Elder Rose was also extremely grateful, and so were a couple other lucky missionaries in my district. I will check for the package when I can. I think the sisters in my district are going to the mission office tomorrow so they can get it maybe.

I don't know what else I need for my birthday. I think I'm doing good so far. My indoor soccer shoes are already struggling. The concrete of the handball courts is doing a number on them. It's really weird thinking that I'll be 19 soon. Now that I'm on my mission as an 18 year old, I feel like I should just stay that old. Maybe I'll wait for a while before I turn 19. But now I'm thinking about President Packers talk about the experience of age and how it is better than youth. That resonated with me. So I will wholeheartedly accept my 19-ness when it comes.

So I have some groundbreaking news. I feel like a more real new yorker now. I got my backpack stolen today with my wallet in it, so can you cancel my credit card for me? I left it by itself and not where everyone else's backpacks were at the park and it disappeared. Hopefully whoever took it will read the Book of Mormon's inside (theres one in English and one in Spanish) and will feel bad and find my contact info and give it back, and then get baptized. That wouldn't be too bad. I think it would be quite worth it. So yeah, I am going to have to visit the mission office and get a couple things re-signed up for.

I'll finish by replying to mom's email.

Love you!

Elder Schenk

Thanks so much for the pictures and the scripture mom! I love them both! Elder Rose thinks the pictures look really cool. I feel smug about it. (Pictures of the tulip fields)
Thanks for taking care of my credit card. Elder Rose got his wallet stolen out of his backpack a couple weeks ago so we are just really unified I guess. We will need to both go to the mission office to apply for licenses and get temple reccommends. I thought that backpack was really cool and I had my sweatbands and ankle braces and first aid kit in there too, but worse things have happened, I've learned my lesson, to put your backpack/belongings in a better protected spot, I know not to do it again, and I won't let it really bother me. I'm supposed to forget myself anyway, and I can't really do anything about it now. But anyway, back to the good stuff. Today we played ultimate frisbee at our zone activity and I had way more energy than I've had in a long time. I did well, and my frisbee skills came back after working out the kinks for a little bit. I had so much fun!

About the video: yeah President Calderwood is fantastic. I think you guys would all love him. You should come pick me up from my mission just to meet him.

Our training from the mission department was really good. we all learned a lot about finding people and stepping up our mission a notch. We also learned about the making of Preach My Gospel. Our trainers were in the group led M. Russell Ballard that made it. They also told us to dedicate our areas and apartments if we feel inspired to. So we did that and that's probably helping a bit. I dedicated our apartment as well as the apartment for the sisters in our district. Priesthood blessings are very cool. Elder Rose and I also helped dedicate the Sister's area. Dedicating areas is cool especially because we go on the tops of buildings to get a better vantage point of what we are blessing. I enjoy giving those kinds of blessings because you really do feel guided and inspired in what to say. Sometimes I want to say more in the blessing, but I wait for something to come to my mind next and I can't think of anything. The Priesthood is a really excellent power.

Devin would be perfect for an I-group leader, I wish I could be in his group, but I suppose I've already done that for my whole life. It's someone else's turn.
The missionary work is accelerating I think after we had the training. Elder Rose and I are meeting more interested people and gaining more trust. Everyday we have studies till about 11:30 and we often have zone, district, or leader meetings. Then we will usually call people to make appointments for later on the day or later on the week. People are horrible with answering calls in New York. We have to call them a lot to get an answer. After that a lot of times we come here to the library to print english class cards to pass out or other various things. Sometimes we will go to a park with a member to play handball or something and try to meet up with a potential. Dinner appointments vary per week, but we usually get one almost every day, usually from the same families. Then we have English class tuesday and wednesday nights, FHE with the young single adults monday nights, or we street contact or have appointments the other nights. When we contact people we call it fearlessing. So we fill in a lot of our gaps in the schedule with fearlessing.

I usually don't think about taking vitamins, but I'm feeling fine. I guess I am having vitamin c's. I floss and use mouth wash if it won't interfere with me getting to bed on time.

Oh yeah! so my camera was also in my backpack... I haven't been taking a ton of pictures so it's not a huge loss. I kind of am used to keeping all my eggs in the same basket. And I think the greater lesson is just to take care of your basket. It's not fun losing any eggs, and you never know which ones you will need or when you will need them. But I think this is just teaching me a lesson to simplify. I'm used to packing everything I might need and being super prepared, but maybe I should balance with simplicity? we shall see.

Grandma Schenk, there is a letter in the mail heading your way. Katie, I will send a postcard and letter ASAP. Andre and Thomas, your letters should be on their way soon. Thanks for writing me!


Elder Eric Daniel Schenk

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 8, 2013

Hey Mom,

A new car eh? that's pretty cool. Conference was great! All the other missionaries and I thought that each session went by really fast. They were full of good things. And I'm really glad that they had Elder Holland and Elder Oaks start off the Sunday Afternoon session. I wasn't sure that I would be able to stay awake through it. But it wasn't hard once I heard them talking. None of the people we invited to conference came, and a few of them said they would, but that's the way it is. Next time we do something like that we will pick them up for it. Other missionaries had some investigators there and I know that at least one of them loved it. She was laughing at President Monson's story and we thought she was just another member there from the English ward.

I missed going to Grandma Schenk's house for conference. I was telling Elder Rose about conference muffins and when I told him just now that you guys had some left over he said "Send them!" I don't know if that will work out. Thanks for sending the package. I shall await it with excitement. Now that General Conference is over, so is suit season, so I will be ready for short sleeved shirts as soon as you can send them. People keep telling me the summers are too hot here, but the spring is nice. My companion had a car last summer so he didn't really know. He was in AC all the time. We watched general conference at our chapel. They showed it in Chinese and Spanish downstairs and English in the Chapel. the missionaries watched in English. It was mostly missionaries from our zone in the chapel, I think everyone else was watching at home.

When we play handball and basketball we change into sports clothes. The courts are across the street from our house at an elementary school. We are teaching lessons, but nothing yet from playing sports, although we met a couple people who play handball who have friends in the church and said that they would come to conference. So we might be able to teach them. Elder Rose really wants to get a baptism from handball.

So far we haven't really worked with the youth yet. Last mutual night we had dinner with the youth. I don't think there are that many.  Maybe about 15 youth total, but this way we can work closer with each of them and their friends.

I liked hearing about the guy singing in the blizzard. We have that song sung Motab on a cd here and I told Elder Rose we should use it as our alarm. So after conference he told me that story reminded him of me. Another missionary said that it reminded him of me a couple of weeks ago when we finished shopping and it was hailing outside. It looked worse than it was, so when I got outside I realized it wasn't horrible and said "Hey guys, it's not even that bad!" Then we ran home across flushing in a hail storm. Immediately after eating Five Guys. I'll send pictures in another email.

Love you!

Elder Schenk

Flushing Meadows Park

Friend from the branch.

View of Manhatten.
District 5 with mission presidency and trainers from the church missionary department.
Homemade fajitas!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 1 & 2, 2013

Hi Dad,
I'm doing really good. I'm getting excited for what we are going to start doing more in the work. The missionaries in our ward are going to start working more with the youth and we are going to try to help the ward in that way. One training video we saw in the MTC said that in every single area we go to, we should leave the ward or branch better than we found it. And recently we had mission conference and the trainer said that we need to develop super trust with our ward. It's kind of what you are talking about. As missionaries we are taught a lot about how we need to earn the trust of the members so we can work more effectively through them. That's how 70% of the baptisms in the world happen! What they told us is that the members already trust us because we are missionaries. What we need to earn is Super Trust! So we were planning on starting activities like mutual every week for the youth to really get involved in and enjoy. I got really excited for this because I feel like I still belong in mutual and I know how to run a good mutual program. I would just do what you do. Then we learned that the youth already sort of have a mutual. It's just not really well established I think. So we are going to go to that and help the YM and YW presidents what we can do to make it awesome. I feel like working with the youth is a good way for us anyway. Elder Rose and I are good at sports and meeting people that way. Parents are always working and finding them is really hard. But if we can get their children interested in the Gospel, the parents can get involved that way, and then we have found a family. We are going to try to help get the mutual activities really consistent and fun so we can invite kids on the street there. I also want to start finding out what the youth in the ward like to do, then go do that with them and their friends. It seems so simple and really fun. So right now my enthusiasm is for the future work we will be doing.
This week Elder Rose and I have done a lot of sports proselyting. We met a young man who is a potential investigator and plays handball, so we went to one of the parks nearby twice this week to play with him. The first time he wasn't there, but we met some other people. We are starting to get to know some neighborhood kids.
If you haven't sent my package yet, it would be nice to have 2 more pairs of athletic socks and another pair of jeans along with my either one of my pairs of nike shoes. If you have already sent it its no problem.
Thanks for the Email Dad, I hope the transition to the new software goes well, and thanks for the advice with working with the members. Love you! and I'll work on having my best week yet.
Elder Schenk
April 2, 2013

Okay, I'm back on. We just email at the library and we get two half hour sessions a day with our library card. I almost had enough time yesterday to finish, but then we had to run.

Easter went well, we took the sacrament to a someone's parents who are sick and need to stay at home. They gave us chips and snacks so we could break our fast, so that was good. Their son is 18 or 19 I think and we are working on getting him to plan on a mission. We play a lot of handball with him and he's the best player I've seen. I guess the way handball goes here sometimes is if you beat everyone at a park, the park is considered yours. So he owns a park somewhere in town. It's really fun playing on his team because when people play handball they almost always look really casual. Everyone just wears jeans and normal shoes. And he plays just the same. He plays well enough to beat people but doesn't show everything. Then at the end he started spinning around and hitting the ball behind the back and the people watching were like "that guy's actually pretty good!" Then he played the game point one on one with each of the other players and dominated them. It was fun to watch. Especially because beforehand he told me how he beats people then I saw him do it perfectly.

I've started playing more basketball and I'm getting a bit better. I think Elder Rose and I are going to start playing more basketball in the mornings. He is really good and wants to walk on at UVU. His uncle is BYU's head mens basketball coach and his other Uncle works at nike and gets him a ton of really nice nike gear, so he's got a good setup. He used to help at the BYU summer basketball camps all the time, so I'll have him teach me how to play.

I saw the spelling error on the placque, but everything else looks great. Also, could you put the byu frisbee in the package? I realize I've asked for a bunch of things so don't stress about it all because I'm doing pretty good without it so far. Priority items would probably be a frisbee, baseball glove/ ball, and shoes. We have a bat here and the other things I've asked for would be nice but not absolutely necessary.

I'm excercising by playing a lot of sports during the day when we try to meat with potential investigators. Our investigators are Ignacio, Augustine, the Nietos. Brother Herrera, hopefully Max, and there are some others that we just can't really get a hold of.

Today, Tuesday, we had transfer meeting. I didn't have one when I got here so it was good to see how it usually works. I made my first tie trade! It's not a big deal here though. Not many Elders trade ties a ton. But I did get a posterity tie from Elder Rose, and he got it in the Dominican Republic, so that's exotic. I was wearing the tie Devin gave me from the Philippines and Elder Matthews, one of my zone leaders who is going home asked if he could trade for my tie. I guess he really likes blue ties. He had a couple in his backpack so I traded for one, and at first I was hesitant to part with my tie, but it's fun and I think this new tie looks really good. I'll get a picture of it. Yesterday afternoon another companionship drove us to Rego Park, the main city part of Queens with Queens Center Mall, etc and we shopped at Aldies. Its my second favorite grocery store after Costco. Aldies just makes a copy of the namebrand of everything and copies it as closely as possible. The boxes look the same, most of the food tastes the same, a lot of the names of the food are really similar to the food names on the name brand. But it's all a lot cheaper. It's great!

Then we went to Brooklyn to meet up with a different companionship and play basketball with one of their investigators who is going to get baptized and wanted to meet some other missionaries. We played and met some other people at the basketball court, and then went to the investigators house and taught him a quick lesson, then his mom made us this great drink called morir sonando. It's a specialty from the Dominican Republic (they are Dominican). Morir Sonando means to die dreaming, and that's kind of what it tastes like. It's delicious! It's like a sweet milk and orange citrusy combo. Elder Rose really enjoyed it and being at their house and talking to the investigators mom because he served for 7 months in the Dominican Republic until he had to get surgery on his knee. And we hardly ever get to teach dominicans because whenever we meet them, they almost always live in Corona or somewhere in Brooklyn. Corona is the district in Queens that has mostly hispanics. Thanks a lot for the Easter package, I ate a lot of the candy way too fast. I guess I have a lot less resistance to sweets on my mission. But I'm working on it. I moved the candy off my desk so that was a big step in the right direction.

Thanks for the Emails,

Elder Schenk

P.S. I wouldn't mind a few letters from my fan base back home ;) . Thanks Katie and Grandma Schenk for sending some, I'll write back soon!