Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20, 2013

Hey Mom,
Everything is going good, all this week I kept on thinking about you all thinking about my new companion and you had no idea what he was like. So finally you all get to know. His name is Elder Nisguritzer, and I couldn't really remember his name the entire first day or so, but I've pretty much got it down by now. His parents are from Argentina, so he's fluent in spanish, which is kind of nice. I hope that this will speed up my learning quite a bit. He came in seven transfers ago but tore something in his knee so went home and came back last transfer, so he is just starting transfer 5 now and I am just starting transfer 3. There are a lot of new missionaries and a lot of missionaries who just got trained are training already! At transfer meeting the brand new missionaries all introduce themselves. Because I came in mid transfer I never got to do that, and last transfer meeting I wasn't sure if I should or shouldn't introduce myself, so I didn't. I ran into President Calderwood afterward and I mentioned that and he said "well, maybe we'll get you next time." So last week I introduced myself to everyone and apparently it was really funny! The missionaries that knew me or were in my zone looked really confused when they saw me standing up at first. I just said "So, I've already been here a while, but I never got to do this." Everyone enjoyed it pretty well. I President and Sister Calderwood both told me later that they loved it and thought it was great that I did that, and most the people in my zone told me the same thing. So I suppose I'm already getting famous in the mission. Our zone got changed around a ton! At transfer meeting, only the leaders and those whose companionships are changing go, so generally there are a few from each zone or maybe district that aren't there. Everyone in my zone was at transfer meeting! The zone leaders are now a chinese companionship, which has never happened before, so that's pretty cool. One of our old zone leaders, Elder Henstrom, is now our District Leader, so we will have some great leadership there. The other zone leader finished his mission and is now home. It feels weird being around missionaries going home. It makes me realize how mortal I am as a missionary, how soon my mission will be over. It makes me want to make sure I get my work done while I'm here.
It's interesting having a new companion. Elder Rose and I were at the climax of our friendship and knowing each other, and now I start over at level zero with Elder Nisguritzer. So far everything has gone fine. But my mission debit card hasn't come yet, so we have been low on food and I'm relying a lot on the credit card you sent me, so could you make sure to check up on that? thanks. Elder Nisguritzer is from Sandy, Utah. He likes playing soccer but his knee needs to recover before he can run. We won't be doing as much sports poselyting this transfer. I've been re-developing my love for Subway (the sandwich shop). We've been relying on it recently as we haven't had much food and the dinner appointment rules have changed. Now they are more focused on our purpose as missionaries and follow what the mission president's handbook says. They are supposed to be set up by the ward mission correlator now and are supposed to be to help families that need strengthening. I guess President Calderwood has gotten some angry phonecalls from members who want to stick to the old way. I wonder how those phonecalls go. Part of the reason for this rule is to change the mindset of the members from "help the missionaries by feeding them" to "help the missionaries do the work of the Lord." President Calderwood's method of leading the mission is really good. He sets a foundation of obedience in one principle, then once we have accomplished that, we move on to the next. The really cool part is that I will have him all my mission, so as his leadership of the mission, and the mission itself develops and becomes stronger, I will be doing the same naturally as a missionary. When I hit my climax as a missionary, the mission will be doing it, too! That will be really cool. Friday we had a mega zone conference with Elder Koelliker of the 70. He talked to us about a lot of things. One thing that he mentioned was Family History and using that as a missionary tool. Only one district or zone at the mega zone conference was using it, and I think it's because they are the one with the family history center. But they said it has been really successful. We also had Stake Conference yesterday, broadcasted from Salt Lake, and one of the talks (I think it was by either Elder L Tom Perry or Boyd K Packer) also talked about family history and how important it was. The church has just released a pamphlet about Family History that we will be able to use as a missionary tool. I don't remember what it was called.
One thing that I realized this week is how your style changes with each companionship and how your obedience does, too. In some ways so far we have been more obedient, but in other ways we haven't. Which means I need to take the good parts of each companionship that I am in and fortify it into who I am, and bring that to all I am around. I am going to work on being a really good example to my companions. I've also been thinking about transfers and how inspired President Calderwood is about every companionship and every area that we are in. And I thought about myself and what if I was different, and how things would turn out that way. So I decided that I would to my very best to be exactly what God wants me to be, so that he has more options and ways to use me and bless others through me. I've been thinking a lot about how these two years aren't for me, and they are all for God. I think I have figured out in my mind how that works with us being the biggest convert of these two years. Because I had faith that they were both true, but they didn't click together in my mind. I know that losing yourself is the best way to find yourself and learn and grow, but that didn't seem to do if for me. So I think that the answer is this: Every soul is precious in the sight of God. God wants you just as bad as he wants everyone else, so while you are dedicating your life to bring people to salvation and fortify them so strong that they don't fall away, make sure you get yourself there. Besides, you can't convert anyone more than you are converted.
Also, I forgot my camera, so sorry I can't send the pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge this week. I'll try to remember next week. Today we are going to the Barclay center in Brooklyn just to check it out and walk around, so I'll try to get some good pictures there too.
And of course, Elder Nisguritzer and I, with comfort, focus, effort, obedience, and inspiration.
Love you!
Elder Schenk
Katie, I shall redouble my efforts to find a postcard. So sorry it's taken so long. I will look for more places and hopefully find one.

Hey Dad,
I sent a really long email to Mom, and I answered some of the questions on there. Things are going pretty good. Yesterday we found someone who could be a great investigator for us. His name is J and we walked forever to get to his house because we weren't sure how to get there or how far out of town he was. So that was exciting. It was also really rainy but the things in my backpack stayed really dry! just the things I had in my pocket were a little soggy. Elder Nisguritzer's way of work I think is more obedient. It's more focused on following Preach My Gospel and doing things the way that we are taught to do them. I think learning this way will be really good for me to base the rest of my mission on. Our planning for investigators is improving, our focus on using our time is improving, and we are more open in talking about how we want to improve our obedience. I think that we can have a lot of success together. It's just interesting examining the differences between my relationship with him compared to mine with Elder Rose. I suppose that's part of the learning we get from the mission experience. Elder Nisguritzer is also Fluent in spanish, because his parents are from Argentina, although his ancestors are European. So hopefully he will help me get more fluent in Spanish. It has been going good so far.

I have a good story. We met a guy who is part of a new religion I think, They follow the law of moses and wear the star of david, but they believe in Jesus Christ as the savior and believe the whole bible. And he was really good with the scriptures. so we were discussing beliefs and something about kosher and the law of moses came up, and he was waiting for a response about something about why I don't live it. I didn't know exactly what to say, but I just said what came to my mouth and some things that I did know came to my mind. I was definitely guided in what I said. I mentioned a story where Christs apostles didn't wash their hands before eating, and the people got upset at them but Christ confounded the people. I mentioned how Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses, and now we follow the Law of Christ, which follows the same spirit of the law, but a different letter. This man was really impressed and although he didn't agree 100% with what I said, he really respected that I wasn't shaken. A couple of days later in my personal study I found a scripture that said what I had said to this man. I had practically quoted scripture I didn't know (Romans 7). That was incredible. I know God takes care of us misisonaries.


Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013

Hellooo home!

It was great to be able to Skype home yesterday, the time went by really fast! The back porch looks nice. It will be crazy seeing all the changes at home in two years.Today should be a good day. We were planning to go to Staten Island because a member there that Elder Rose knows is opening his mission call today. He and a couple other missionaries that served there are going. But one of their companions called us last night to see if I wanted to go do something else with their zone or district or something. So the plan is that we'll do some exchanging and I will go to Brooklyn and go to the Brooklyn Bridge and get Grimaldy's Pizza. Apparently it's a pretty famous pizza place, so that will be exciting. I was told to charge my camera last night, so I expect that we will be taking many pictures. I'll be sure to send some home, and I'll send some of me and Elder Rose, and others of my new companion, whoever he will be. A lot of people in our district and zone are getting transferred, so it will be really different soon. I'm excited and nervous, just because there is so much unknown, but I know it will be the best for me. This week will have a lot of meeting time. Tuesday we have transfer meeting, which takes a while, then on Friday we have a Mega Zone conference with Paul E. Koelliker of the 70. We are all supposed to prepare two 5 minute talks and two of us will be chosen to give one of ours. That should be good.

I thought about asking you to send me some of my chopsticks, but I realized quickly that this is the place to get them. The Chinese elders have some.

Thanks Mom for the inspirational P90X quote. We've actually given blessings to all of the sisters in our district, mostly for sickness. They are all doing pretty good now. It's been good for us all to get more experience with the Priesthood.

I think that we will be able to get our own General Conference Ensign, maybe we will get it tomorrow.

This next transfer will stretch me a bit. I will have to take more of a leading role, I will need to remember important things about people that my companion doesn't know. I will also work on being more obedient. I think it's required to see the miracles that we need to happen in the work. It will mostly just take a lot of little changes and added effort in a couple areas. I'm excited to see what next transfer will bring.

I'm running out of things to say, so I'll finish.

Thanks for all the love and Prayers and support. Katie, I'll try to get a nice postcard in Brooklyn.

Love you all!

Elder Schenk

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6, 2013

Dear Mom, Dad, and Everyone

The last week has been good, just like always. The good news is that we are finding more people to teach! Elder Rose and I started teaching them from step one, getting to know them. Our other investigators had previously been contacted and taught by the missionaries, and we just continued teaching. I had wanted to teach from the start, so it was a good experience. We had just studied about "How to begin teaching" in Preach My Gospel, so we used that, and it was good! one of the people we taught called about English class and asked if we could teach her and her son personal lessons, and she said she wanted her son to have good examples around him. So we agreed with enthusiasm. The first time we met her was on the street by the library, and she started telling a story that I could understand pretty well, but every time she asked me if I understood, she would ask me in a weird way, or there would be a lot of street noise, so every time I had to ask her to say it again. So pretty much she thought I couldn't speak spanish well. It was definitely a change from the norm, because people in the branch almost always complement my spanish. I figure I need humbling.  I think I mentioned them last week but we started teaching them this week. we had a lesson with them and then another day we shot hoops a little bit with the son. It was nice and I feel like we developed a stronger bond and trust with them. Last night we also had an investigator over to dinner at a member's house. It was really fun. Elder Rose and I squeezed into his tiny car with him and drove from his house to the sanchez's after visiting with him shortly. The Sanchez's always have friends from another branch and missionaries over for Sunday dinner, and they didn't hesitate to invite him to dinner too when we asked them about it. The people here are great and really welcoming. He had a good time, told everyone his stories that he always tells to new missionaries when they come over to his house, and I had a great time just listening. I also ate a ton of food. They make plenty usually and want you to eat up, so I was filling up and just about done when they pulled out some tamales for everyone. They are super filling, and I was already almost maxed out, but I was determined to conquer. They gave us two apiece, and I finished the first one (which was a little bit of a struggle) and was making very slow but steady progress on the second one before we left because one of the sister missionaries in our district needed a blessing. But dinner at the Sanchez's with him was a great experience. I feel like doing something fun and more relaxed with an investigator, or anyone, is a great way to develop your trust and relationship. After he dropped us off Elder Rose said that he felt like our relationship with him just jumped way higher. I felt the same, and we hardly even talked to him at the dinner. I just listened and ate. When we visited the sisters to give the blessing, they asked me to give it. I felt a lot more pressure blessing a person instead of just an area or apartment. But the blessing went great. It's really cool to use the priesthood. It's really cool to be directed so clearly and specifically to bless someone and put into words what God wishes to give them. The Gospel is sooo cool! I have noticed blessings of the Gospel a lot more in my scripture study and overall experiences recently as a missionary. All things in the Gospel lead toward blessings for us. I have "Blessings!" written on a lot of pages in my Preach My Gospel. Because it's what it's all about! God wants to bless us, so he gave us commandments so we can earn blessings, He gave us the Holy Ghost, scriptures, prophets, apostles, agency, families, the Priesthood, bodies, the church organization, activities, blessings, EVERYTHING so we can be blessed, and have happiness! Heavenly Father is the best.

This week we had interviews with President Calderwood. Mine was short because he was getting behind, but it was good. Whenever I see President Calderwood, he always makes me feel so loved and important. It's probably just me, but I feel like he seems particularly happy to see me among everyone else in the district or zone. He probably makes everyone feel that way. In the interview he talked about how we as a mission have gotten good at setting inspired goals, but haven't gotten good yet at planning daily and even more frequent sub-goals to accomplish these. I hope to be able to master this and conquer my goals. As a companionship and district we have some pretty high goals, but I know we can make them. We just need to do work.

Thanks all who have written letters of love and encouragement. I love them. Sorry I haven't written you all back, I'll work on using my time better. Katie, I am repenting and have tried to find a postcard at a couple of places, but they didn't have any. Today we shouldn't be too busy and I am determined to find one.

Love you all! Have a good week!

Elder Schenk

Hey Dad,

My week was great, as always. Elder Rose and I have a lot of fun together. Our personalities mix well, and we find a lot of funny experiences and situations that happen daily. It's great that you are looking for ways to share the Gospel. One way that I want to try to get members here more involved is to share a short lesson to bring in the spirit, maybe about the restoration, and then ask the members who they know that they want to have the gospel. What friends and family do they want to see in the Celestial Kingdom? And then I will ask them to pray about what they can do to best share the Gospel with them. So you could try that. If you want ideas of how to share the gospel, or copies of the missionary lesson pamphlets, or anything like that, just talk to the missionaries. They really want to help you with that kind of stuff. This plan to help the branch get more missionary active is a newer idea for me and I haven't gotten to use it with many families, but I hope it helps them. It's too bad I couldn't help out picking a basket for Mom! maybe next year you can shop for it on a Monday and send me pictures of the options and I will check my email and let you know which one is best. So we'll see. Give Mom a hug for me! and give her an extra good one on Sunday for me!

I'm learning more what it's like to use the priesthood and give blessings. I now know what you mean when you say a mission is worth it because of the experience you get using the priesthood on someone that's not your wife or child. I will be practiced and experienced when I get home. I'm really glad you are such a good strong priesthood leader Dad. Our home is a lot better off because of it. A couple of families in the ward don't have fathers with the priesthood, and it's really a bummer that they can't bless their families in that way. They just have to helplessly wait for someone to bless their wife or children. Thanks for being a powerful man of God. I've seen your example and that's how I plan to be.

Love you so much Dad! Thanks for your prayers.

Elder Schenk