Friday, October 18, 2013

October 15, 2013

Mom,
Thanks for the quote, I love it! Yesterday we couldn't use the computers here in the library because it was Columbus day and they were closed. Why do all of these holidays have to be on Mondays?

This week was a good one, with a lot of meetings. We had something different every day! Tuesday we had a mega zone conference about emotional health, as well as using facebook. Online Proselyting, it's called, because we will also eventually be able to use Skype and blogs if we so choose. Wednesday we had interviews with President Calderwood. It was really good, of course, and was definitely inspired. Tuesday and Wednesday morning in my personal studies I had started to study a chart in chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel (Listening to the Spirit) about how the Spirit works. There is a description of how it works, then scriptures to go with it, then we are supposed to think back on when we have felt that in our lives. Having started to study that, it was a surprise when one of the first things President Calderwood asked me in our interview was "How would you describe what the Spirit feels like?" Coincidence? I think not! So for the rest of the interview we mostly talked about that and it's significance. It is highly likely that our investigators have felt the Spirit testify of the truth, but they just don't know how to look for it, and they are missing the answers that they are looking for. After my interview, while I was waiting for Elder Wright in his interview, some of the other missionaries were asking me what kind of things the interview was about, so they could be ready for it. It doesn't really work that way though. And I'm pretty sure that they found that out, too, because those interviews are run off pretty much pure revelation. Everyone I talked to about their interview said it was about something different. The Gospel Works!

Thursday we had District Meeting (usually that's on Tuesday, but we had a mega zone conference) and then we went to a member's house and they took us to Manhattan. For a very special occasion. We got to go to the temple with Fredy Lopez (now he is Elder Lopez, he's spending most of the day with the other Elder's so he can have a companion), a member here who goes to the MTC tomorrow! He is going to California. It was a night session, so by the time we got to Manhattan, it was dark, but it was pretty exciting. The temple is on a busy intersection (I imagine almost every intersection in Manhattan is pretty busy-there are hundreds of taxis everywhere!) and compared to other temples it's fairly small. But it was great to go and feel the Spirit there. One way that I really have noticed the Spirit recently is through clarity. My thoughts are clear and connect smoothly and things make sense. The session we went to was in Spanish, and I understood almost all of it. This Friday I'm going to get to go again with other missionaries that arrived in the mission around the time that I did. A little bit ago, missionaries would go at their halfway mark and at the end of their missions. Now we get to go every six months, but the mission started doing that with the missionaries who came right after me, so the group that arrived around the same time as I would still have to wait a year. But one of the missionaries asked President Calderwood about it and he allowed them to set something up for a Friday, so we are going! I'm excited to go again. This Friday we had a Zone Training Meeting and at the end of the day we had correlation meeting with our branch mission leader. The new branch president came, too. I think he's really trying to get a feel for the work here and how we can get it moving. He called all the people we are working with on Saturday to invite them to church! Saturday we needed to do our weekly planning. That's something we usually do on weekdays, but we had forgotten to make time to do it amidst our busy schedule. Saturday night we met with the missionaries in the district and our branch mission correlator to start a special fast to find more people to teach. Sunday we had fast and testimony meeting because the branch leaders had forgotten about it due to being brand new, and got permission to do it after conference instead of before it. It was Fredy Lopez's last Sunday before his mission, so he got the last chunk of time to bear his testimony. It was really good. He had a friend come who isn't a member and who doesn't speak Spanish, so I got to translate for him during the meeting. I got to say "I know that this is the true church" and "I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet" a lot, and explained that a little bit. And when Fredy said those things, I just told his friend to ask him about it afterward. Then after church the Stake President set Fredy apart with a lot of the branch there to join in and talk about missionary work.

 Here's what I wrote to President Calderwood,

President,

I might finally have a question. I've been thinking recently about the seven months that I have spent in my pool, and I feel like if we had focused a lot and really taken things slowly and carefully, in this pool, or even this district, and we could have had one or two good real growth baptisms. But instead, we haven't achieved any yet, although many have gotten close. We are taught to have an urgency about the work, and extend a baptismal commit as well as a date early in the teaching process. I know that this is important and inspired guidance, and so I guess my question now is how to balance keeping things smooth and not rushed, but still urgent. Elder Wright, possibly the best teacher on the mission that I have met, keeps reminding me to teach people, and not lessons; and although I continually responding in my mind "I know that," I think I'm figuring it out more. This morning we had a great planning session for a lesson we hope to have. And it finally clicked, as I thought about the question I just phrased. What we really need to teach is whatever each person needs now to be blessed in the gospel. I wanted to teach this investigator the Plan of Salvation, but we realized we really need to teach him why the gospel is so important, and set expectations with him.
I'm really grateful to be working with Elder Wright. I feel that I've definitely grown the most and developed the most with him. While studying today how to serve him better, I realized that it's something that I need to change in myself. His ability to use his time so much better than me is a call to action for me to improve and use mine better. I realized that I had to look in the mirror and focus on making a change in myself to be able to bless him and this companionship more. And I know that this change will bless me more, as well. I've seen the need for it in a few different areas.
I'm really glad to be able to write you every week and learn from each letter I write. It helps me so much to clarify and order my thoughts, as well as to solidify what I need to work on to progress and be more effective.
I'm so grateful for all the missionaries in Flushing, especially Elder Wright. And I'm so thankful for all of the other people here, especially the members. It's a great place to be.
Love,
Elder Schenk.

Alright I'm running pretty low on time. I love you all so much! I'll probably see you all a little bit more on facebook, get ready for a virtual wave of the Spirit! And get ready to catch it!

With much love from NYC,
 Elder Eric Schenk (¡Agr├ęgueme en el Facebook!)
 ps thanks for the pictures! Devin's beard looked nice, and my nieces are soo cute!

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7, 2013

General Conference was great! I got really excited for it last week. I really liked being able to invite people to something special for our church services. And I learned about fearlessing people. As I forgot myself and really focused on them and the Spirit, they became more personal and powerful, and the spirit testified more clearly. It's hard to figure out how to do, and I don't get it all the time, but it's something that I'm working on.

I watched a lot of conference in Spanish, because this time the spanish sessions were in the chapel on the main floor of the church, and I was waiting up there to see if anybody we invited would come. None did, even though they had 5 chances this weekend! I understood most of it, but when I listen in Spanish, it's easier for my mind to wander, so during some of the talks, I was thinking quite a bit about being a husband and father in the Gospel. So it was a good experience anyway. One thing special about the spanish session that I liked a lot was that some speakers, namely Richard G. Scott and Adrian Ochoa of the Seventy record their talks in Spanish beforehand, so at conference they just play the recording. It turns out Richard G. Scott is fluent in Spanish. And I loved listening to Adrian Ochoa give his talk in his native language. Something about it was just really cool, and now I want to meet him and speak Spanish with him.

I liked the talk about exclamation marks. I looked down at my notes and was pleased to see that I had already caught the message, and had put them in many places

I just got that picture of you, mom and dad. It looks beautiful!
could you put a file on our dropbox with picutures from home for me to see?

Today we are going to
1 get me a haircut. It's kind of long and I've wanted one for a while
2 hang out with freddy lopez. He goes on his mission october 16 and goes to the temple this thursday!
and do whatever else we need to I suppose.

Love you all so much! (much love from the big apple)
Elder Schenk

 

 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September 30, 2013 Pictures!














September 30, 2013


Hello all!

I am learning so much here in NY!

I put up a lot of photos. Some are of a few weeks ago when we walked around the us open for a couple of minutes. others are of Ignacio's family (I told him he wasn't smiling in the first picture, and he still didn't smile in all the other pictures!) I didn't take time to sort through the pictures to send the best ones, so I just sent them all. Others are us at a train station for the long Island railroad close to an investigators house. I was experimenting with what my camera can do. And some others (with the manhattan skyline) are at Hunter's point. We took the 7 train until the last stop before manhattan. then you just start walking towards the bigger buildings and find the water, and you're there! Also, I posted the recipe for last night's dinner. I also had a salad with other fruit and chicken nuggets in it. the All-in-one Mixitup is pretty good. It came about because I wanted to know if you could just microwave pancake battter and have it make a pancake. But I needed a meal, so of course I threw in some of my oatmeal and frozen fruit (target had a great deal on frozen fruit last month, I hope it's still going on) and for some reason I have developed quite a love for peanut butter, and I'll eat it plain, sometimes mixed with instant breakfast chocolate powder.  So i just threw everything together, and it turned out rather well. the pancake had cooked a bit, and the oatmeal was good, and it was all REALLY sweet and flavorful.

This morning I tried the microwave pancake thing again, and it was a great success! I just made sure to spray pam on the bowl so it wouldn't stick, and that worked too! I then poured some syup and milk on the little pancake in the bowl, and it soaked them both right up, and it turned into some sort of tasty bakery treat thing. My life has been revolutionized by these cooking strategies I have learned

Elder Wright had a bit of a rough week. At hunter's point, he was setting his camera on it's tripod to take a picture of it (luckily I got an action photo of this happening) and then we were posing, and the wind picked up! the camera and tripod toppled over into the East River! there went all of his pictures and his camera. Elder Wright really likes photography, so he had taken a lot of pictures. Then later on this week, he had propped his speaker on one of our lamps in the house because it gave it perfect position, and later part of the speaker had melted! (it was one of those new ihome springy speakers, and the accordion-type part had melted.) it still works fine, it's just not springy. But I think it looks really cool.

Our branch has been changing a lot. Our branch president moved back to columbia a while back, so the branch presidency is changed. The new presidency has a lot of energy. Also, our mission leader is new, and he has A LOT of excitement and enthusiasm for the work. we worked with him the other day, and it was great contacting people with him. He connected well with the people, because he has a background like most people here. so the branch is steadily progressing I think. I'm developing lots of love for Flushing. Flushing Family!

This is most of my letter to President Calderwood.

Dear President,

This week I am really grateful for revelation. Every big experience from this week is accented by revelation, and it has really helped me learn. I have continued to have understanding of forgetting myself in the service of the Lord fortified, and expanded on. I know two specific things that I really need to work on, and I feel calm and confident that I can get them done, with the help of the Atonement. They are punctuality and serving others. These are definitely two things that will help shape my mission and life to be even better. I've come to gain understanding of these needs over a bit of time, and now I have a clear picture, and I'm excited to see how the Atonement shapes me even more on my mission. The last major experience was this morning in my personal study, as I prepared a workshop for district meeting. When I need revelation to bless and help teach others, it comes quickly. Clear connections of the gospel and work and our attitude came quickly to my mind, and it helped me apply my new understanding of losing myself to the aspect of finding people. I'm so grateful that God takes the time to teach us.
I love my companion, district, zone, and branch. They are really fantastic, and I'm growing so much because of them. I am so thankful for them all.
Love
Elder Schenk

I'm learning and enjoying a lot here in ny. Our new district is getting along really well, it's pretty fun.

Love,
ElderSchenk, not the one and only

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September 23, 2013

Hi Mom,

The pictures of the Caribbean are beautiful! Those beaches look nice. I wonder if they look extra nice because I've been in the Concrete Jungle for a little while now. But I feel like the vacation homes look very boring. They are pretty much all white and not very exciting. If I were to own my own vacation home somewhere like that, it would look really fun and exciting. I'm sure they are extremely nice, but I wouldn't mind thinking "Wow, that's a nice looking house on that island" when I see it. Maybe the view is just too far away to see how they really are. Oh well, we'll worry about it later.

Elder Wright and I are still working hard, the same as ever. The weather is cooling down now, and last night I actually wore a sweater (it was one that was left in our apartment by another missionary. Its pretty nice.

This week we had transfers so last Monday a lot of us in the zone got together at the church to write goodbye notes and to trade ties! I got some that I like pretty well, and they are signed by the missionaries who gave them to me, so I can remember them forever. Now only one missionary has been here in Flushing the entire time that I have, and he was transfered there two weeks before I was. I'm getting to be more like a veteran! Also, I'm learning more Mandarin Chinese. Last Monday night there was a baptism (usually they are on sundays but the chinese elder doing the baptism was going home the next day) and I got a chinese man to come in for the baptism! He couldn't really argue with me because we couldn't understand each other. But I just said "come check out our church." we were on the same block as the church, so then I just said "come" and motioned for him to follow me. We got to the church and he didn't really want to come in, but he couldn't argue, and after trying to communicate back and forth a little for him to come in for just 5 minutes, I just said "come" again and we went in. There were chinese members and missionaries inside who took care of the rest. I felt pretty good about it. It might be easier fearlessing in Chinese because there is no way for them to argue or anything like that. One of the missionaries in our zone made a sheet of paper of "Chinese for Missionaries Who do not Speak Chinese" and gave it to most of us in the zone, but told me, "you already pretty much know this!" I've been working recently on saying The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's hard to remember and get the tones, but it's coming along. One of the missionaries is going to give me one of his old grammar books he got at the mtc that he doesn't need anymore, so I'll be using that soon. I'm getting excited for that. One of our zone leaders transfered, and the new one, Elder Izatt was here when I got here and transferred away about two transfers ago. He got changed to the Chinese program! He had also been practicing his chinese a lot before he left. So he is in what's called a zebra pool, with Chinese and English. One of the chinese elders that just got transferred away from flushing also speaks some spanish, so we hope that we could maybe do a Chinese Spanish (and maybe English) zebra pool together. We'll see what happens. There's possibility for all sorts of things in a mission like this, I guess. These possibilities rely on the revelation received by President Calderwood. Speaking of him, here's what I wrote to him this week:

Dear President Calderwood,

I've had a lot of good learning experiences and realizations recently. They have helped me grow a lot. I have already mentioned most of them before, and so even though they aren't all new, they are constantly getting reinforced and built upon. I am learning things about service and losing myself and Charity and other things that are getting more and more engrained in my mind. The power of service in a companionship is incredible. This companionship has progressed by far the best, and I think it's mostly because I started out planning to serve Elder Wright as much as my possibly can. I haven't been as diligent as I should have been in serving him, but my actions and mindset have changed, and the difference is clear, and huge. It almost seems too easy, that sometimes I feel like Elder Wright at I aren't getting along as well or as easily as usual, and I just serve him again and everything resumes smoothly.
This transfer I feel like Elder Wright and I will need to work hard to help, support, and serve the other companionships in the district. We already know how we work, we get along great and work well together, Elder Wright already is an incredible missionary, so we don't have a lot of worries in that matter. But the rest of the district are going through some bigger changes this transfer, and I think that we will really be able to bless them. I think that this is one of the reasons that Elder Wright and I already feel so good together as a companionship.
One thing that I have really enjoyed with Elder Wright is our companion inventories. We follow the counsel you gave at the trainer meeting, and start with a hymn and a prayer, and as we then talk about our companionship, I feel a lot of love and connection with Elder Wright. I'm actually searching for things that maybe I have noticed that could help him to improve, and even then it's hard to find areas like that in Elder Wright. These conversations with Elder Wright have been very sincere, and full of love and understanding. It's great that a specific part of the week like that, that a lot of others might shy away from or not enjoy, can really be a highlight of our week. I'm working with one of the best missionaries in New York.

So I'm really grateful for all that I've been able to learn from my area and the fellow missionaries therein. My life has definitely been changed for the better, and I've been strengthened and directed so much in being a better representative and disciple of Christ. Thanks so much for receiving so much revelation that guides the entire mission, and even my daily life. I know it's from God. I'm so grateful for the priveledge to lose myself and learn so much in the Work and Glory of the Lord. It has definitely taught me how I can always live full of joy!

Love,

Elder Schenk

That might be it for this week. Unless I can think of what else to say. This morning I read in Jacob 6 "Oh be wise, what can I say more?" I'm learning so much, enjoying it, and making a lot of good friends, and constantly being improved and refined little by little.

ALSO a fun fact. There are now 4 redheads in our zone. 2 spanish, 2 chinese (Elder Izatt is chinese and English). Three of us are from western Washington. So the zone is pretty good.

Dad, I'll just write your part here.

 As I think about all I have learned, I have learned so much about how to be a better father. So thank you so much for going on a mission. No wonder you did such a good job raising us! I've learned a lot and I will keep on learning things that will really bless my family for eternity. That's a pretty big deal. I'll write the priest quorum (and maybe all the youth as a whole) and the missionaries in our ward and tell them all about it. I really feel like I've found out the core of the secret to FOREVER HAPPINESS in just one phrase, and it's "forget yourself for the Lord," but the only way you can really learn and understand it is when the Spirit teaches you and drives this into your heart and soul. I've learned it a couple of times over, and I've realized now that a lot of the learning on the mission is really just crystallyzing things that you already know. That's why the mission is powerful. It's so much experience packed into a little chunk of life, that you learn so much, if you just let God drive. Here's a quote from George Albert Smith that Elder Wright told me. "The Pathway of Righteousness is the Highway of Happiness. Don't lose your way." It may not always be easy to be righteous, but when we do, it's given to us that we can and will be happy.

For all who have not yet gone on missions, go on one. For those who aren't members, get baptized so you can go on one a year later!

Love you all so much!

Elder Schenk