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

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