Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 20, 2014

Hey Mom! Hi to everyone else, too!

I wrote this today in my personal study and now I think it would be cool for you to read my thoughts. 

We are the vessel

Thinking about the Godhead all working with us as we perform this work while the Lord is hastening it, the thought/image came to my mind that we are like a clay pot designed, sculpted, created by our Heavenly Father. He has put Himself into our being. The water carried in this vessel is the Holy Ghost. And Jesus Christ is the one who carries us to our thirsty brothers and sisters. Each part of the Godhead has a vital part in this, each working with us.
If we allow dirt to enter, or cracks and holes to form in ourselves, we will not be useful vessels of the Spirit. The Lord will not be able to use us as He desires, and Heavenly Father's children will remain athirst because of our lack of the Spirit.

So what are these cracks and holes? How do we avoid them? How do we repair them?
Dirt, cracks and holes are disobedience: in our thoughts, words, and actions

Sometimes we become dirty on the inside, and not fit to carry water to those in need. Here the Redeemer can cleanse us. We must apply the atonement to scrub us clean and the Spirit will rinse the filth away, so that we can carry Him to others.
If our thoughts are disobedient, we are not fit to help others cleanse themselves; we would be rinsing them with dirty water. And if they drink the dirty water and taste the dirt, they will spit it back out and look for something else.

Sometimes we don't do all that we should, or all we can. There, cracks and holes form, and we lose the Spirit in that way. It spills out of these openings and does not reach the people. They might see us, and want the water we have, but it might spill out and not get to them because we don't open our mouths or we don't serve them. 

Let's let Him patch and clean us quickly before our imperfections and weaknesses become large holes and built up filth.

We aren't going to be perfect vessels, and we will need the Lord to patch us up and clean us often.  But we can be ready vessels of His Spirit in order to provide to many in need.
Don't let the cracks become holes!

As we go about among God's children in need, let's treat them like we are offering water to the thirsty. Once we provide them enough water to fill up a font, they can step in and begin a clean, new life!

In other news, I have been playing a lot more basketball recently. We have played a couple of times on preparation day with other missionaries and when the weather was nice played basketball in the park with some guys the other day. Playing pickup games in Brooklyn! Elder Sua'ava and I are usually some of the tallest. He's a big guy and an inch taller than me but I can reach higher just standing because my arms are longer. But most of the people have played a lot more basketball than me so it's a learning curve. But I am learning and getting better.

Elder Sua'ava and I are having a good time together. We work with some recent converts here and their strength makes us really happy. Even if I didn't see their conversion process, it just makes me really happy to see them living the gospel and being happy. 

Love you! 
Elder Schenk

Sent from my iPad

January 13, 2014

Helloooooo family!

This week was crazy. It was fun, and I learned a lot, but so many
things happened. I'm pretty sure Monday and Tuesday went fairly normal
(it feels like it was a long time ago). Those days were really cold!
But nobody got frostbite so it was fine. The craziness started
Wednesday. We woke up and it was freezing! I was going to kneel on the
ground to say my prayer, but here was no way I was going to kneel on
our freezing cold floor! So I climbed back in bed on the top bunk to
pray. A while later Elder Sua'ava and I decided to brave the cold and
see if our heater was working at all. It wasn't. We had no heat that
day. We didn't have hot water either. That day was our deep clean day
to really clean every bit of the apartment. So for our studies we wore
our jackets and everything that we had pretty much, and then we got
cleaning. The apartment looks pretty nice now, the bathroom is much
cleaner. But while I was cleaning the bathroom it got cold enough that
I could see my breath inside! Luckily we were moving around and didn't
get too cold. Towards the end we wanted to bake something to help warm
up the house, but the oven didn't work! The code on it said something
had shorted. So that evening we moved in with other Elders in our
district. Then the next day we got home really late and our things
were at the other Elders' apartment, so we had to go back and didn't
have time to go home and see if the heat had turned back on. The next
day we had an exchange with the elders that we were with, so that
morning one of them (Elder A) came with me to my apartment to do
studies and everything. Then finally that night Elder Sua'ava and I
were both back home (this was Friday night). Saturday went pretty
well. We played soccer at a park in the morning (a lot of missionaries
showed up and only like three other people showed up, but it will get
better. There is a member here who played professional soccer in
Honduras. I invited him and am excited to see him play.) That night we
had a visit with our investigator V L to see how he was
doing and feeling before his baptism and reviewed how to do it. It was
so great to talk to him and feel the Spirit there. Elder Sua'ava and I
were feeling so good after that! Then we stopped by a recent
convert/part member house and had a great visit there. We hadn't been
able to see them for a really long time.
When we got home, we couldn't find our keys! We couldn't get into our
house or building (breaking into your own house/apartment makes you a
lot more self-conscious in New York than it would in Burlington) so we
spent the night with the other elders in our district (by other I mean
OTHER other elders, since there are three companionships of elders in
our branch. So Wednesday and Thursday night we spent with Elder A
and Elder F. Saturday night was with Elder  and Elder
P, we decided to get some variety and visit them that time - I
also made the connection a little while back between Elder P's
last name and P bay!)
Sunday morning the elders that work at the mission office brought us
our spare key so we could go home and get our suits for church. Church
on Sunday was good, I didn't really know what to do for V's
baptism because I had never had a baptism, but everything that was
necessary got done. The baptism was a double baptism. Elder J and
P's investigator got baptized as well as V. He had been
investigating for two years and finally felt sure about making the
covenant with God. The branch just gained two good men and the leaders
are excited about it. We are getting closer to being a ward.

I like what you said about it's our job to love the people. I have
been working on it a lot recently and praying to develop charity.

Love you so much! Have a good week
Elder Schenk

Sent from my iPad

January 6, 2014

Christmas fun in Brooklyn

January 1, 2014

Hey Fam!

It was great to talk to you on Christmas! That time went by fast. The
rest of the week went fairly well, the only problem is that I've been
eating way too much candy! So I put it all in a box away from my desk,
and I haven't eaten as much like that. Today Elder Sua'ava and I went
to Rego park to play basketball at the chapel and them we went
shopping at century 21 and kohls. I remembered that I don't like
shopping for myself much. I take way too long to think about things
and doubt my decisions and stuff. But Elder Sua'ava got a nice gray
and purple tie. He likes it a lot.
Today I've been thinking about what I can do to improve my diet. I
like the food I eat and it's healthy, but here isn't a ton of variety
and I wonder what I can do to improve that. Play be I will take a
picture of the receipt of what I buy and get your feedback on it. I
feel like Diane would be really proud of me.

Sorry for writing short! I was told to get off my iPad and play
basketball. I did pretty well, but I haven't played much for a while
so my game isn't that good.

Love you all so much!

Sent from my iPad

December 23, 2013

So elder Sua'ava has not decided when he wants to skype, and his family hasn't responded yet, but I guess we are allowed to call for five minutes on Christmas Eve to schedule. I think we will try at 3 here, 12 at home. If that changes we will call. The thing is that elder Sua'ava's family is two hours behind you.
Our branch didn't really so anything too special for Christmas. The primary children sang, and the branch presidency gave some really good talks. One was about testimonies and one about goals.
One of our investigators, Victor came to church. He is going to get baptized with another investigator from our district on January 12. 
The leadership thing is coming along, I'm definitely learning. President Calderwood doesn't have time to respond to all the missionaries' emails in the week, and would respond before with a short sentence of inspiration and counsel every month or so, but recently he has responded almost to every one of my letters. I am learning more about myself. When yo have more responsibility it really helps define what your strengths and weaknesses are. I think I have seen it in myself and others around me.
Plans for Christmas Eve, we will have a mission get together and perform music. There are some professional musicians in the mission, one in my zone sings one of the fey songs, take it home. Another one served with me in flushing. He is from Taiwan and is fantastic at guitar. He has music on iTunes. So that will be pretty cool. 
So right now we are at zone activity and it's hard to focus. 
In summary, it is hard being a leader, getting the missionaries and branch united is like teaching two different beasts to dance, and I don't even have the normal missionary thing mastered yet. But I am having a great companionship with Elder Sua'ava. I have learned a lot about being a good companion, and he is easy to be a good companion for.
And I will really try hard to send you a Christmas package. I have everything, I just need to wrap it and send it. It will get there late but I hope you enjoy it!

Love you all!
Elder Schenk

Sent from my iPad

December 16, 2013

Hey Dad, 

I'm sorry to say that we didn't baptize all of our investigators last week. But we did have a good week! I am still learning, and the zone leaders here are teaching me so much. They are in the district so they get to see what I do a lot more and their feedback helps me out a ton. I really love having their help. I am learning about how much time I need to take to fulfill my responsibility. I spent a lot of time at the beginning, but them I got more used to it and kind of forgot to keep doing that and get things done, so the zone leaders had a little talk with me yesterday and I am redoubling my efforts and getting some things done that I have needed to do. It feels good! It has been cold but not too bad. I got both the packages this week, thanks so much! I am so excited to open my stocking and presents on Christmas. 
We got snow a little bit, it has mostly melted. I like the snow a lot. A lot of the people here don't like it that much because they don't go skiing or play in it much. It doesn't mean the same thing to them. I really hope the Stauffers are alright. I will definitely be praying for them. Wow, the plan of salvation is so important. We taught it last night to someone named Jose and as I teach it it strengthens my understanding of how important it is and how it all really makes sense. 

There are a lot of less active members in New York and this branch has big boundaries (only for New York though, it's probably not that big but there are so many people and each part of town is unique so it seems like you travel a lot to go just a small distance
And especially all of your friends who need the gospel more in their lives! You have planted the good seed through your example, now patiently nourish it and don't expect to be eating corn on the cob this afternoon.
Thanks so much for your good example that you have always been. I'm thinking that I would really like to have you both skype in for a lesson at M and Ls house sometime! they both speak English! and I think your gospel understanding as parents and your connection to young men would be great. We will probably visit L (Hermana A) on Christmas.
About skyping on Christmas, we will probably do it in the iPads, so we can do it at a member's house or at church. We were told that probably the best way to spend Christmas is visiting our 
investigators and members so we will probably be mostly doing member visits. A lot of the zone might skype at the church on Christmas, so I might be able to show you some of the other missionaries I work with.

I will write more in the email to Mom. Love you! Tell Devin that I have been curious if he had been working toward the New and Everlasting covenant. I must email him and see how it's doing, and give him some advice.

Love you so much! Thanks for he packages and love, 
Elder Eric Schenk
Sent from my iPad


I will write  a short response. I got the packages, thank you! The branch is doing fine, working on becoming much greater, I wrote about it in my letter to president which I will copy and send in this email. And I have been wearing my boots every once in a while, they are great!

Here is what I wrote to President

16 Dec 2013
Dear President Calderwood,

I am convinced that the missionaries around me have been handpicked by God to bless and teach me. Elder P and Elder J are fantastic Zone Leaders. Their zone activities to break the ice and train the zone this last week were stellar. I was blow away by the ZTM, mostly because I felt it was greatly effective, and short! Elder P was planning on giving a workshop, but instead talked only for a couple minutes and bore a powerful testimony. I felt lifted and inspired by the meeting. My respect, appreciation, and love for Elder P and J has grown a lot as they have worked to bless the zone, and as they have taken extra time to pull me aside and lovingly and boldly give me constructive criticism. It empowers me to repent and get things done to bless the district and branch. I love the atonement. I rejoice in it. I realized that I need it so much a while back, and that I am hopelessly far away from perfection, so repenting is something that I am so happy to do. It means that I can fix the problems in myself, through the help of Christ. 
I have learned that I need to work more with my leaders, including the branch mission leader. He works so hard at his calling, and I have been too hesitant to follow his lead. Once I follow and work more consistently and closely with him, our branch will explode. Other leaders here are working really hard, too and getting things organized so that a great, powerful effort can be made. Bushwick is getting ready and excited to be a ward.
As I have developed more unity with Elder Sua'ava, our work has improved greatly. We had so many things work together for our good to lead us to teach a lot of lessons. As we have been teaching more, I have realized where I need to improve in teaching as well, and Elder Sua'ava has been teaching me to teach better. 
Elder A and Elder F are in charge of the elliptical in the district, and I am so grateful for the effort they are doing there. They are so enthusiastic and constantly developing activities that we can do. As I write about all the things that are going well and building up here, it is clear to see that The Lord is hastening His work in Bushwick. He has placed specific members and missionaries here to perform miracles for me and the Kingdom of God here. I am excited. 
One thing that we are struggling on now is our quarterly goal. Our two baptismal dates are very solid, for next year. From a worldly perspective it looks very unlikely that we will achieve our commitment. Had I organized things better we may have made much more progress toward it by now. 

But no matter the outcome, I am so thankful to God that he has provided me the companion, district, and people here to sufficiently teach me. I love Him, and I love learning from Him.
Elder Schenk
Love you all! I will be sending a package home soon (if I remember to do it this time - the mission distracts you from doing extra things like sending packages.)
With love from Brooklyn, Elder Eric Schenk
Sent from my iPad

December 9, 2013

Dear family!

This week has been a great one. Elder Sua'ava and I are having a good
time and things are moving along. Transfers is tomorrow, we are both
staying, just one Elder in my district is transferring. This weekend
we had stake conference, and we went to the priesthood leadership and
adult sessions on Saturday. It is all about "missionary work," but
they are working on redefining that in our stake or maybe eliminating
the term because sometimes it as seen as the work that the
missionaries do, and not personal. It's all really the work of
salvation. I think it was really cool for helping the members (and us
missionaries) see how big this is. It's crazy that I am in the middle
of the beginning of this huge new era. They showed the quote by Elder
L. Tom Perry that says that this time in the church compares to the
restoration in significance! I'm a missionary in it, and you are all
the members in it! Imagine that. No wonder we have all been told at we
are a choice generation, saved to come to the earth in this specific
time. It's a huge thing that's going on! Our stake presidency is
really into it and it's pretty cool. Elder Sua'ava and I saw the stake
president in town before the meeting on Saturday walking to the
church. He was walking fairly quickly and told us "as with many things
now, I am 'hastening!'"

Christmastime is getting closer and I'm enjoying it. It snowed last
night and stuck, but melted later on in the night. But I did get a
snowball or two thrown.

Side note. I'm at the laundromat doing laundry, and they play some
Spanish channels. A Spanish soap opera just turned on. Never watch
them. They are so dumb and way too dramatic. But they catch your
attention! It's like Satan. He does whatever he can just to get your
attention. So don't even go to the Spanish channels! Sorry for going
off on that. That's just a look into the life and mind of Elder Schenk
on Monday mornings.

Back to the good stuff. Christmas is coming! This morning I exercised
to the DVD Mr. Kreugers Christmas. There is a separate video that is
the Mormon Tabernacle Choir so I listened to Christmas carols for the
main part, then when I stretched at the end I turned on the nativity
short video. It was so nice, I had a lot more focus for my studies

Just so you know, my shoes are getting worn out. I don't think I need
new ones for Christmas. Maybe some for more towards my birthday. If my
shoes that I left home (Nike grey and light blue) are still there I
think they would be great. If not, maybe just look for sweet deals on
shoes that I will need eventually

Today is Elder Sua'ava's birthday! I think I will give him the card
that I bought and meant to give to Devin for his. Sorry Devin, but I
think you can understand how things almost never go as planned on your
mission. We are going to the mission office in Rego Park to play some
basketball. We are going to be extra careful this time if we actually
do play to make sure we conserve Elder Sua'ava's recovered ankle.

Catching the train just now to go to Rego Park was exciting. We were
walking to the train station to catch the m on central ave and saw the
train coming (it's above the street) while we were still around the
corner. I asked elder Sua'ava if we were going to run for it and he
started running so we did. I'm faster (especially on the stairs - long
legs) so I got to the place to enter and swipe my metrocard first. But
I had put my wallet in a different pocket! So it took me extra long to
find it. Then we got in and ran up he last stairs to the train, but
the doors had just closed, and it took off. Then the train heading the
other way got to the other lane of tracks at the station, and Elder
Sua'ava realized that we needed to actually go that way (we usually go
to church, and that is the opposite direction as Rego Park) so we ran
down the stairs back down to the staton lobby, and I slipped on some
of the last steps down and landed on my rear. Elder Sua'ava stopped
and was going to check if I was okay, but I already knew I was so I
just said "I'm okay, I'm fine, go!" We switched sides of the station
and ran up the other steps to the queens bound train. Luckily I'm fast
getting up the steps because we could hear the recording "stand clear
of the closing doors, please" as we were running up. I got to the top
before the door started to close, and held it open so Elder Sua'ava
could get in. It was intense! And really fun.

So right now we are on the bus close to Rego and Elder Sua'ava is
reading the Liahona in Spanish. He is improving on it and really
excited about it so he is working so hard to study and participate in
lessons as much as possible. I love Elder Sua'ava. He is a gentle
giant, half Polynesian half Mexican that tries so hard to be his best
and lives others more than almost anyone that I know.

So far my clothes are warm enough. If it ever gets really cold I will
wear a sweater and the green jacket with a scarf and then the black mr
Mac jacket over top. I think that will pretty much take care of me. I
found some ear warmers out here so that has been nice sometimes. At
night it's pretty warm in our apartment at night, sometimes I just use
a top sheet and sometimes I use one blanket.

For Christmas I hope to get a stocking with the usual goodies. Music
on a cd or two maybe would be nice, the DVD player we have plays music
louder than my speaker. I'm not sure what more I would want. Just
share the gospel.

Wow this is a long email. I don't know if it has everything you wanted
to hear, but I got to go.

Love you! I'm so glad to be here learning and growing in the gospel.
Elder Schenk

Sent from my iPad

December 2, 2013

Dad, (and everyone else)

I am so thankful for all your love and powerful support and example you have given me. It's thanksgiving went well, We had a turkey bowl in the mission that was pretty good. But I think I am WAY less competitive than I used to be because of my mission. Especially when I am playing a sport I never played competitively. That night we had dinner with a lot of members. We had two families and us at one house, and they had us the missionaries eat first, because we needed to go home in time. The first plane as to have dinner at 6:30 at the Rivera home, but then it got changed to 7:30 at the Soto's. And everyone was actually there and ready a little after 8. So I felt a little bad that we had to wait so long, then just dine and head out while everyone was still eating. Did the missionaries like the advice I gave? 
I learned a huge lesson on Thursday. I think it's really the key that has been missing in my work since I have been in Bushwick. It will help my companionship, district, and branch. It's love! I haven't been loving the people here enough. It was really strong here before, and this area was driven by their love and unity. I didn't know it until Thursday. Flushing was driven by our obedience and respect for each other, so I wasn't used to the love and unity vibes that were going on when I got here. I kind of got in the way of them. But now that I've figured it out, I think things are going to get a lot better. The first sign of that was that we had two investigators come to church on Sunday, and we hadn't had any for Elder Sua'ava and I for a while. There, The Lord was saying he will help us out. We almost got a lesson with each of them on Sunday, too, but they both fell through, so that was the Lord saying that we've still got to do our part. I am really excited that I learned what I needed to change. I was telling someone in my district about it and they told me not to beat myself up about it. But that wasn't my attitude at all. I'm excited about this. That's the cool thing about repentance and the atonement. If you have already accepted the fact that you aren't perfect and need to fix parts about you, it's humbling, but exciting to recognize your faults, because then you can talk to Heavenly Father about it and figure out how to fix it. The atonement works because Christ knows what it's like to mess up because he payed the price for our sins, and he also knows what it takes to do things the right way because that's how he lived his life.
Hey what kind of things would you all like for Christmas? Just tshirts? Or hats? Beanies maybe? They have lots of things like that in the little shops here. Give me ideas about it. 

I didn't answer this last week. My shoes are holding up pretty well. My eccos are doing better than both my pairs of rock ports and I wear the twice as much; but the black rockports get me compliments. They shine up really nice. 
I am actually using my green jacket a good amount. I wear a sweater a lot too, my suit not so much and the coat from mr Mac I wear a lot. I also wear that scarf a ton. Elder Sua'ava and I are slowly adjusting to the cold here, the change comes a lot faster than it does in Washington!

I'm thinking of what I might need for Christmas, I'm not sure. 
That's what I've got to say for now, 
Love you all so much! Thanks for all of your love.
Elder Eric Schenk

Sent from my iPad