Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 18, 2013

Sorry for not emailing last week! The library was closed on Monday, and on Tuesday we got our iPads, and every other day in the week seemed just busy enough that we never were able to take time to write. Using iPads gives us a big jump in things to do. We need to update our area book from paper to the cloud, and because our mission is one of the earlier to get technology like this, they are still figuring out how to improve the system. So it's not the smoothest process ever. So we are figuring out how to use this stuff the best way while not getting distracted. But they can be really useful and helpful in meetings. All our scriptures and other materials are on them, and we can pass files to each other through Bluetooth. A lot of things happen in two weeks. A big thing that happened besides getting iPads is Elder Sua'ava rolled his ankle playing basketball a week ago and it hasn't really gotten better, so we are going to a walk in clinic to get that puppy checked out. We've had to try a lot to just go to the church and get missionary work there. It's definitely not the most effective way, so that was hard. Recently I have been thinking about what needs to change to improve the work here. Luckily, God answers prayers, so I know what I need to work on to do better. Diligence. There is a story behind it. At our last transfer meeting President Calderwood blessed us that we would be able to learn how to serve God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength. I realized that this is what I really wanted to develop, so I studied it, starting with serving with all my heart. Preach My Gospel says, "Diligence in missionary work is an expression of your love for The Lord and his work," so I thought that fits in nicely. Diligence will actually be really important now that I have so many new challenges and responsibilities. For your information, I have been writing this letter on my iPad in three different places. I started while we were doing laundry, then while on our way to and at the walk in clinic (we have to go back at 5:30 because that is when the foot doctor gets there) and now here while waiting for and riding on the train to the library. Our iPads are blocked from for some reason so I'm writing this in notes on my iPad and then I plan on sending it when I get to the library computer. Now that I know more about the area, I'll tell you about it. Our church is on the last stop of the train before Manhattan, so we are pretty close to it. So sometimes we catch a nice view of the city. Brooklyn is a lot different than flushing for a few reasons. Flushing is really concentrated right at the center and consistently gets less crowded as you move away from there. We would take the buses occasionally but not too often, most things are within walking distance because most of the people we taught are close-ish to the center. Here it's a pretty even spread over a bigger area. There are a few different trains in our area that we use. Mostly we ride the M train.

Wow I had a lot of emails to read this week and respond to so I don't have much more time to write.
I know that this work is true, and it's not easy, but it's worth it.
Love from Brooklyn,
Elder Schenk

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 4, 2013

Familia mia,

First, I'm so excited that Gabby got baptized! that's really cool. I figured she would because she was so solid. That's great to hear about her husband! I remember I taught him and his friends once, and they seemed pretty respectful if not accepting. That makes me so glad to hear! I am excited to talk to them when I get back home. They knew I spoke a little bit of spanish then, so I can blow them away when I get back. That's sweet I'm really happy about that.

So I'll tell you about what's new. My area is Bushwick, Brooklyn, but it has a lot more than just Bushwick. It is mostly the north, northwest of Brooklyn (it has about a third of it.) The church is on one floor in a building owned by a Jewish company, and that area is full of Jewish people. It's very interesting. Fiday or Saturday at 5 or so we heard this loud siren, and it was signaling the end of the workday in preparation for their sabbath. The zone is really fun and the district is good, so I'm excited to work here. We have a big branch (I counted about 100 at sacrament meeting) but it's not a ward yet because there aren't enough Melchizidak Priesthood holders or something. So that will be something to work on.

There are more missionaries in my district and zone than were in my previous ones, and everything is much more spread out. In Flushing, you would see missionaries around town, especially by the church all the time. Here it's not quite like that, although you do see the others occasionally.

It's kind of weird not knowing what's going on in your district. I was pretty used to being the veteran of Flushing, but here I know nothing. (Actually that's not true, I know plenty now, I've been here almost a whole week!)

Interesting story though, I've already been here before a couple of times and recognize a couple of things. Toward the very beginning of my mission, Elder Rose and I came and visited on a preparation day and played basketball with an investigator from here who was going to be baptized. We sat in on the lesson with him afterward and his mom gave us some nice dominican snacks (a drink called morir sonando is one of them). She was catholic and not really interested but nice and respectful. Well now both of them, mother and son are members and really strong!!! It's funny that I actually met these people before anyone in the district that is here right now met them.

Mom, putting in all of that info reminds me of what we will need to do pretty soon when we get our mini ipads. The info will all be accessible from the cloud all mission long, but we need to put it in by hand from our paper area books first! so that will take much time.

I don't think I need more kitchen stuff, I brought some with me from flushing that you had already sent, and I don't do too much crazy cooking that requires it. This week we had pretty much no food in the apartment because transfers were just before the end of the month. money and food were low. But I had brought pancake mix with me and I had that subway gift card. Around thursday we got paid by the mission, and we did a lot of service last week, and were given food at each service we did. So we didn't do much cooking. That was pretty handy. Today we are going to BJ's which is like costco to load up on the groceries.

Also side note before I forget, next monday is veterans day and the library we are emailing from might be closed, but we might also have ipads by that time, so it's really up in the air if you will get an email monday or tuesday. I also brought my camera to the library, but I forgot to bring the connecting chord so I'll send some pictures next time.

My new companion is Elder Sua'ava. pronounced swava. He is half hawaiian half mexican, but doesn't already speak spanish. He has been out about 6 months, all of which has been here in Bushwick. He is really nice and has a big heart. It will be good to work with him. The apartment we have here is newer than the one in flushing, so that's nice, but it's getting so cold outside that sometimes we need to wear coats inside. Dad, to answer your question it would be nice if you sent my down jacket, and maybe my fleece one? maybe not, it was quite a squeeze packing all of my stuff at transfers. I need to find a way to simplify my things a bit.

I don't know how long it will take to do, but I'm still planning on sending a package home with letters, etc for the family and friends. I'm not very far along the way of getting it ready, but it should probably be ready by Christmas.

I don't know everyone, or even all of these people very well, but pray for (this is a mix of less active members, new members, and investigators)

Also just pray that I will be able to coordinate well with the branch leaders in picking up and moving from where the work is at. I think it will go really well!

Love you so much! thanks for all of your love

Elder Eric D. Schenk, from Brooklyn


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

October 28, 2013

Hellooo family!
Hunter's getting his call soon? Sweet! Hopefully he gets sent here. That wouldn't be the craziest thing that's happened. Two missionaries here in flushing were best friends in high school. One is English speaking and one is Chinese speaking. I did get my package, and the struggle is that when I get candy, I just eat it. I shared a lot of the cookies, they were really good! and I shared the candy, too, but that was mostly just with Elder Wright because by the time we got to the candy part, we were already home, and there wasn't anyone else to share with. But I've pretty much eaten all of the candy by now. Part of my reasoning was "Why wait?" and another part was "I don't want to take it with me when I transfer!"

I'll enjoy the subway gift card, thanks! And don't worry, I already have been eating healthy food. Recently I've done a lot more shopping in bulk and actually cooking my food. (I learned that from Elder Wright.) It just means that I eat a lot less PB&J, and it's cheaper. These last two months are the only ones that I haven't needed to use my credit card for food.  (also, I bought a side bag while back and forgot to let you know. It's been good, I'm used to it now and it's a little more convenient than a backpack. It's easier to access the things inside.) So last month I got a big bag of frozen raw chicken, two different bags of frozen fruit, a box of frozen vegetables (frozen food like that is easier and stays good so I don't have to worry about it). Then I get milk and peanut butter and jelly and some noodles and some tomato sauce and pancake mix (10 pounds of it for only $8! I couldn't pass it up) and other such things. It's gone well. I think that's the way I need to shop. I spend a lot of time looking not at the price, but the price per weight labels at the store. I eat a lot more than most people here. More than any of my companions, so I need to buy a lot more food, so it just means I need to take time and effort to cook it so it's cheaper. Sometimes people email or write letters to me asking how the food it. We eat at homes of other people every once in a while, but not often. Maybe once a month. So the answer is that the food is good. It's just whatever I make.

This week was a good one. We had a lot of lessons, which was good, but we just couldn't get members to any of them. That would have improved things. On Thursday we had an exchange with the zone leaders. I went with Elder Izatt. He started in the English program at the MTC, then got trained in Haitian Creole, but that was interrupted by hurricane sandy, then when he finished being trained, he went back to the English program and trained right away in Flushing. He was in Flushing when I got here, then transferred to Brooklyn, and now is back here in the Chinese program! that's pretty crazy. We had a good time together. He is really energetic so the day went well.

Friday I had an interview with President Calderwood, and he called me to be a district leader. he didn't tell me where, so I'll just find out tomorrow. I'm going to miss Flushing, but I'm excited for the new change, and the new area and missionaries I will get to know and learn from. It's really weird to think that the only place I've lived in my life longer than Flushing, NY is Burlington, WA. Even at BYU was only a couple of months.

Here's what I wrote to president Calderwood.
Dear President Calderwood,

I'm really grateful for how my mission has gone so far. As I think about it, I can see many things that I've learned. And I'm sure that in a few years, once I have returned home, I will see and notice even more things that I will have learned that require hindsight to recognize. Throughout my life, that's been the major thing that I expected to develop on my mission. Every once in a while I wonder if I will gain that, and I'm reassured by the knowledge that if I just forget myself and immerse myself in doing what God needs me to do, the understanding or learning or change that I need to help me now and in the future will come. I am excited for the opportunity to be able to serve as a District Leader, because I know it will help me to serve God more fully. I know it's going to be hard and stretch me in ways that I don't yet know, but that's how God will teach me, so I'm excited and grateful for the experiences that will come my way. As I have thought about it the last few days and sought inspiration and guidance, and I have learned things that hopefully will be able to bless the people wherever I go.
I really hope whoever comes to fill my place can bless Flushing greatly. The people here have needs that the Gospel fills so well, they just need to see it. My entire time here I've seen so many people so close to greatness and happiness, but they don't see it and don't take a step of faith. I see their lives, and then the lives of the strong members, and there is so much more in the lives of the members. Those who know what their doing and why they're here and what they need to do are so empowered compared to the rest of the world. The people here just need a big push into greatness. I imagine that's how it is in the rest of the world, including in where my new area will be. I will work to be that big push for others, to help them see and accept the joy and greatness of the gospel.

I am really thankful for all the things in my mission. I'm thankful for my companion, area, district and zone. And I am really grateful for the new ones to come! I'm thankful for the inspiration that you receive, and the inspiration that God gives to me. The gospel is so great!

This week I had an exchange with Elder Izatt. I really enjoyed it. It energized me and helped me to refocus. He also taught me some good things about expanding my horizons with finding, and really being clear and organized in the work. That will be important to understand as a District Leader. It was really interesting to learn from the experience of a missionary that I have seen grow a lot myself.
Elder Schenk

Alright, I'm a little low on time. Sorry, I forgot to bring my camera to the library, but I'll be sure to bring it next week with pictures of my new area and district! Love you all so much, thanks for your love. Thanks for your support. Go Missionary Work!

With love from Flushing for the last time (for now),
Elder Eric Schenk

Monday, November 4, 2013

October 21, 2013

Hi Dad,

Las Vegas, that's cool that you can be there together! I remember a while back when you had to go to a conference there by yourself and you said that you were really bored. I'm glad that you get to do a lot of fun things together. Fun fact, las vegas means something like "the shrubs" or maybe it's referring to an oasis in the desert. I'm glad you are learning a lot that is exciting. Adding a new inspector? that would be a big step, too. Wow good luck with all of that.

Thanks for being a great dad. As I see a lot of people around here sometimes I realize how different my childhood was. Not just because it was in Washington instead of NYC, but because of the home I had. Our family is strong. We love each other and we make time for each other. We take care of each other. We function. We eat together, we pray together, we read together, and we go and do things together. You and Mom were involved, and were there to give a good strength and support. We are teaching a teenager now. His mom is a less active member and their family isn't complete and united. He and his mom and sister all love each other and are great, but having a gospel centered home lead by the priesthood would work miracles for them. His mom says she is willing to come back, the time just has to be right. But we are always welcome in their home. So we are going to start to visit and do family scripture time with them! I'm so excited to do it, because it can help them all out so much! It's the little things like that that we did that helped make our family so great! Including morning and night prayers together with hugs all around. I've brought that into my companionship with Elder Wright, but he doesn't like hugs that much. He's not opposed to them, but he just doesn't like hugging a ton.

Being on a mission has helped me notice a lot of little things like that. Starting and ending every day with the Spirit and Love like that is so good! So thanks for doing everything so well.

I'll write more to mom, Have a great time in Las Vegas, and have a good week! I'm praying for you, too. Thanks for you love and example! 


Elder Schenk

Dearly beloved friends and family,

I've gotten a lot of questions about how it's all going with the ipads, etc. But the scoop is that we don't even have them yet! But that's only the first part of it, because I just logged onto my email with President Calderwood, and this is what he just sent to the mission:

Dear Elders & Sisters,

We have just returned from a remarkable Mission Presidents Conference. Elder Russell M. Nelson presided and attended every session of the seminar. It was such an honor to be in the presence of Apostolic keys.

Good news. I was able to schedule the roll out of our iPads. On November 11 - 13, the missionary department will be coming to our mission with the devices to roll out mission wide. Each missionary will be getting a mini iPad and each companionship will be getting an iPhone. Your iPad will be yours for your entire mission. Area book, the planner, Progress report and other report will all be electronic and will be stored in the cloud. This means that when you transfer areas, iMOS will connect with the cloud and your new area will be known. When you login, all the local area book will be immediately accessible, including the entire ward or branch list. You will be productive day 1. This should help us beat the "bell curve".

Further instructions coming. Congratulations to you all for being one of the first missions to get completely online with the devices.


So that's the full scoop. This will be an exciting transition.

Going to the temple the second time was really good! I learned a few specific things, and one of the big ones is the importance of unity. There is power in unity. Then I read about it in Preach My Gospel, that the work of salvation will move forward with more purpose and power as we the missinonaries and members are united. That was great to read and learn, because I had read Helaman 5 earlier on in the week, about the brothers Nephi and Lehi and the great power that they had when they taught. I desire that power. I want to be able to bless so many people like that. I guess that means that we need to work more hand-in-hand with the members! And that's one thing that the mission is working on a lot right now. We are eliminating a lot of the barriers between members and missionaries.

Also, there is a newer video on about the ny worlds fair. The unisphere (that cool globe) is in my area! we do service there about every week.

Here's what I wrote to president Calderwood
President Calderwood,

This week has been another good week of answers to prayers and learning. I prayed for experiences that would help Elder Wright and I learn and grow in unity together. Then we found that we had mice in our apartment that we both had to work together to dispose of. We got rid of them! But last night I prayed for challenges again, and Elder Wright found another mouse this morning. It is interesting to trace prayers like that to events. And sometimes, God really know just how to touch you. A while back, after he prayed for challenges, Elder Wright lost his camera (and many pictures with it) in the East River. He loves photography. When I had been on my mission for a similar amount of time, I prayed for challenges and later lost my backpack. I really liked that backpack and was excited to use it at byu or hiking after my mission.
I have seen a few other small trials this week that have helped Elder Wright and I grow together a little. It helps that Elder Wright keeps a good attitude and likes being happy just like I do.
Greater things have happened this week. We finally contacted and visited a potential investigator that we found last transfer. Her sister is a member in Ecuador, and she wants to know what the church is like. Her heart has really been softened by her experiences.
We had a really good couple of lessons with another newer investigator and learned a lot. I've learned so much about how to ask questions from Elder Wright, and it has really added clarity and power to how we can teach others. We learned that he really wants to go on a mission, and that's why he is taking the missionary lessons again. We learned what he and his mom, who is a less active member, understand and think about baptism. We have their trust, and will be able to teach with more purpose and power now. I am excited for the progress of our pool. I also had a big realization of the worth of the escalator method. As we have more investigators that show desire and commitment, it will be valuable and important. Good things are happening in Flushing, and as I reach about 8 months here, I'm definitely not tired of it. I hope and pray that it's God's will that I can stay and watch these miracles develop and unfold.

I'm so happy and blessed to be here. The members, missionaries, and investigators constantly change my heart. I love them all. Thanks so much!
Elder Schenk

That might wrap it up for today. Everybody get ready for your mission that God has for you. It's the most selfish thing you can do, as long as you forget yourself.
Elder Schenk