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!

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