Sunday, April 22, 2018

With All My Love

Elder Schenewark,

I hope your week was wonderful. Did you get my box?

My heart goes out to you and your lose. I loved Kevin, and I only knew him through your letter. Your love for him shone through on bright. Try to find out Kevin's date of birth, etc. so you can do his temple work. He has no family. It's you. I cried all night for him and you.

Your Brazilian friend sent more pictures.


We still feed the elders on either Friday or Saturday. We had them last night. They all know about our three Brazilian boys, and stare at your photos on the wall. One shared a message last night, think Josh Smith, that I loved. He read Moses 6:31-

I had never thought of that scripture in terms of being a missionary, but knowing how a young 19 year old, with the spirit, can and does influence others to change, is a testament to the truth of those words.

Cooper is officially an Eagle Scout! He passed his board of review this past Thursday, with the support of three other ward members who drove out to Weatherford to support him. He’s thinking either Memorial Day weekend, or in the fall during the holidays for his Court of Honor. He spent the weekend making a few phone calls, and writing a few thank you cards.

Cooper also got to fly a plane Friday after school, the plane high school students built last year. He’s determined to get his pilot’s license, and wants to spend the summer studying for his pilot license exam. I need to convince him to get his driver’s license first.

Speaking of driving, Sawyer got his permit. His dream was to drive away from or drive up to middle school as an 8th grader. His wish was fulfilled. When I pulled up to pick him up on Thursday, I climbed over the console, he slid in, and drove through the parking lot of his middle school with the entire school outside waiting for pick up pointing, gawking and cheering. It has to be one of the top ten moments of my life. Sawyer will forever be endeared to his classmates for his kindness and regard, but his peers will not quickly forget the day an 8th grader drove away from school.

Miller and Sawyer had some baseball this weekend. Sawyer played Thursday, Friday and Saturday, while Miller just Friday evening. Sawyer actually had a no hitter Thursday. He also had an in the park home run. Friday I didn’t get to watch his game, as I was at Miller’s, but he had a smash of a triple before the rain hit. His team is undefeated.

Miller had two line drive doubles that went to the fence. He pitched three innings, and was responsible for seven of the nine outs. When they moved him to catch, the game declined to a loss, but not due to his efforts. Both of your brothers carry their teams. Hunter will enjoy watching them while he ‘s home.

Dad also found one picture of you on Facebook.

NEWS: Having the home court advantage can help a team win championships. That’s what happened tonight in Provo, Utah where BYU, the top seed in the MPSF and host of the MPSF Men’s Volleyball Championship, defeated UCLA in four sets

Just thought you'd enjoy that tidbit! I love you. Have a wonderful week. You're almost at the year mark. Can you plan on calling Saturday for Mother's Day?



Monday, April 16, 2018

Letter #34

The week started and ended great, but in between was without a doubt the roughest week yet.

On Monday, because of some stellar planning and a tight member with a car, we got five lessons in, instead of the normal three.

Tuesday, we caught the train to Jundiaí to have a district meeting and do some pre-surgery exams. While we were there, we found a less-active member that we've been trying to contact, working. Marked a date to visit that family, with a promise of a BBQ.
Got a call from Carmen that her date was stellar, he gave her a picture of himself, and that he proposed. She said no, but told me she's just stalling a little and that she'll probably say yes on their next date.

Wednesday, after a sleepless night on the ground of the other missionaries' apartment, we were in the hospital at 5:30. 17 hours later I was pushing a wheel-chaired companion through the dark streets of the city. While I was in the hospital, alone, I got a call to go downstairs. While I was down there, after being told that nobody had called our room, Kevin came in on a gurney.

He was conscience and we had a little talk, what was going on and such.
That morning he had sent me a message (which I couldn't respond to because of our phone plan), which said, "Elder, I don't think I'm gonna make it to my baptism." After various, unsuccessful attempts to call, I had to let it wait.

When I asked him why he was on the gurney, he said, "Hey idiot, I'm a man who has smoked three-fourths of a million unfiltered, cheap cigarrettes, I'm probably in the hospital because of that."
His house had caught on fire, just a little fire, and the smoke had sent him into some sort of heart attack. I felt really bad, but he was laughing and happy and told me not to worry. So he stuck my name as his emergency contact, because his only relative is his 90 year old sister in Japan.

Thursday morning, I got a call from the hospital that Kevin had passed away in his sleep, something to do with heart problems related to his smoking. He wrote a letter to Carmen, telling her he'd have to marry her "on the other side" and that these last weeks were the "most pure he had lived." So that was really really rough. By the time we got back on Thursday, all the stuff in his house was gone, either burned or thrown out or boxed for his sister.

And the rest of the week, I was under house arrest with my recovering companion, which put the work on shut down.
So that was that
What a week.
Good news, on Tuesday were gonna get three more elders in this city, my companion is gonna be African (or, since everybody in this city thinks I'm African, ANOTHER African), and that's that..
Hopefully we can get some good news into these letters soon,

Elder White Chocolate

Sunday, April 15, 2018

With All My Life

Dear Elder Schenewark,

How are you? Your spider bite? Your stories continue to amaze and entertain us. Kevin is fast becoming a kindred spirit. Be careful! No more adventures!

Your father had an adventure this week. He had to do an overnight camp out with stake scout leaders, and he had only a few minutes to grab his belongings and go back out the door. Sawyer was grabbing the cot and tent, Miller was helping with the pocket knife and compass. Unfortunately, Cooper wasn’t home, or he might have helped with the sleeping bag. He went out the door without one, and ended up coming back to get one.  Other than that, he was prepared. I have yet to hear how it went. He walked in the door from camping, and after a quick shower, walked back out to take Cooper to a stake dance.

I spent a good portion at the ballfield with three games. Sawyer had a 3 and 5, and Miller a 7. Having a 7:00 p.m. game doesn’t have to be painful, except that the whole day’s behind schedule culminates in the game starting late! We got home at 10:15, and the game time is less than two hours.

Sawyer played a short stop that made three double plays, and made the hit that broke the tie, and won the game. He had an in the park home run, and a couple of other doubles. His pitching was on as well, even in the 40 mph spring gusts. Miller played well also. Because it was so chilly, Breyer, Sawyer and I were hiding out in the car, so my attention to details was not as detailed.
Hunter is coming home in two weeks. We’re so excited to have him for the summer! He loves his life, had a wonderful date, continues to get requests to travel to conferences, including over the summer, “It’s A Wonderful Life” is his new mantra.

Cooper is still playing tennis, getting ready for this week’s regional competition. He also took his first ever college test. Somehow he missed the PSAT, but he took the ACT yesterday morning. His Eagle Scout Board of Review is the same day as the second day of regional competition. Hopefully later, and with no conflicts.

Breyer was chosen by her teacher as this six week session as the Shining Star. She was so excited. She thought since the school year was almost open she wasn't going to get chosen.

Aunt Becky spent the week in Utah visiting her three children. I know she was with your brothers, AnneMarie and Nora last night but haven’t heard the details. Kaleb didn’t make the Snow College basketball team, although he made it until the last cut. He drove to Colorado, and made the team for the Colorado Northwestern Community College basketball team. Go Spartans!

And because we love you, my favorite Nora picture of the week.

Be good. Extra good.



Saturday, April 14, 2018

Shining Star

"Breyer is a true shining star for many reasons. She is concerned with ehr learning and she wants to do her best. Breyer always listens in class and asks questions if she doesn't understand. In addition to doing well academically, Breyer exemplifies the qualities of good citizenship. She is respectful and kind in others always. Breyer is also very helpful in class. She pays attention and follows directions daily. First graders want to be her friend because they know she is a trustworthy and caring person. I love having sweet Breyer in my class! She's a World Changer!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Letter #33

What a week. I feel like I'm writing this letter from a dream. Also, hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures to actually send out. At least we'll try.

So, first. We got a call to visit an old man who got bit by the Brazilian Wandering Spider, called "The Armadeira." AKA, the most dangerous spider in the world. And while we were there, the spider showed up again. And we found him when he bit me. On the arm. He was a biggen.

So, I smashed the spider, we went to the hospital, they told me I was fine. I was like, nuh uh, this other dude's arm was decomposing, why will I be fine?

So apparently, this spider does this thing called a dry bite, where it doesn't inject venom. And that's what happened. I still had enough venom in me to cause some swelling in the bicep (I looked HUGE, like super ripped) and some bruising, but other than that we all good.

Picture of the bite and bruising five days after (also, I forgot to flex, so sorry)

Everybody gave me chocolate. One sister gave me chocolate because of what she said after i won the contest (some pretty strong words for an 80 year old lady). I also got a chocolate Easter egg, not sure why, but hey love it.​

I left my Louis Vuitton ping pong paddle in the ping pong shop, and some dude came in and asked to buy it, so i got a call from the shop owner, Adriano, asking me how much i thought it should go for and how much i wanted. i told him, he can sell it, and keep all the money, just keep letting me mess around with the ping pong stuff. So, later, this dude's friend came in asking if he had any more of the same brand, and that's how I become famous, but not until after the mission.
Presenting...PRESTIGE 4...the perfect ping pong paddle

Just some works in progress,  it takes only like twenty minutes for me to make them, but also, i only have Monday 1:00 to 4:00 to work, soo...

featuring Kevin

Kevin went to church last Sunday, and asked out Carmen, the Samurai again.
She said no. He asked why, she said she would never go out with someone who smoked.
So he asked us to help him out.
Background facts, we did some math
Kevin is a very scheduled person. He smokes one cigarette every 30 minutes, from in the morning to 10 at night.
33 per day
12045 per year
He is 84 years old
He has smoked since he was 19, the first year, 8 per day
The next two, 16 per day
After that, he hit the 33 and has 62 years smoking 1000 per month
761390 cigarettes to date
And he never had a desire to quit.
We made a goal, lets smoke half the number this week, can you do that?
If it gets me a date, it's done

Imagine my surprise when Friday i got a call from him
Elder, come to Carmen's house, we've got a ceremony to perform.
So we go, he has a cigarette in hand
This is the last cigarette i had scheduled to smoke
I smoked 16 on Monday, 8 on Tuesday, 4 on Wednesday, 2 on Thursday, and I had one scheduled for today with Elder Schenewark.
(He thought I meant everyday, smoke half of what you smoked the day before, but that's not what I meant, but I'm glad it worked out)
And I want to trade it with you Donna Carmen.
This cigarette for our date. And this one comes with a promise that I'll never smoke again......
He wanted it the next day, but she pushed him back to tomorrow.
Old people love is just the best.

But, I asked him why, why he stopped smoking.
His answer was perfect.
Elder SheyShey, for the first time in my life, I had two things that I wanted more than anything, and smoking was stopping me from getting them; the love of my life and the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I never had these things in front of me before. And I want them. And so i stopped. I would've stopped on Sunday, but you looked so happy when I agreed to your plan that I stopped today. And I know that I'll never have the desire to pick up another cigarette in my life. Because i have the two most precious things I could ever want, and nothing can take that away from me. I want you to have this, it's my ping pong paddle, I can't play anymore, but I just need you to know how grateful I am for giving me my happiness.

Yesterday, he bore his testimony in front of the whole church, without a doubt the best testimony I have ever heard. It was a little jumbled and there were silences that lasted twenty or thirty seconds while he thought, but it was the most sincere, pure, and heartfelt testimony I've ever heard. When he finished, I almost stood up and clapped, but I held back. Kevin knows that the things we teach him are true, and in his words, "These last two weeks, I have discovered more happiness in my life than in the other 84 years."

This gospel is true, he knows it and i know it. it brings happiness unlike anything else we can hope for in our lives. If you are searching for happiness, you can find it in the gospel.

I love you all,
Until next week

Sunday, April 8, 2018

With All My Love

Elder Schenewark,

Elder Anderson’s talk Whoso Receiveth Them, Receiveth Me highlighted the need of the hundreds of thousands of children, youth, young adults who are not cared for within the bond of matrimony, reared by a mother AND father who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Many youth who felt alone, left behind or outside the fence.

Your father, and your grandmother, are ones who “embrace[d] the gospel without a mother or father to come into the Church with them”…They“hope[d] to create the family ideal in [their] own lives at a future day, became an important part of the missionary force, and kneel at an altar to begin their own families.” How blessed you are to have the care of a “father and mother converted to the Savior, sealed by the authority of the Priesthood, and  learn in your family to love and trust Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.” As a missionary you are able to “help God’s children understand what is genuine and important in this life. Help them develop the strength to choose paths that will keep them safely on the way to eternal life.”

Your siblings spent a little time coloring Easter eggs last week. I mention this after Easter as every time I pull out the hard boiled eggs, to eat, your sister cries. We’ve taken down the huggle pod, left the hooks up, and Sawyer used a wood bar to create a pull up station. Miller and Sawyer love it.

Sawyer finished the district track meet in fourth, jumping 9'6". He said he couldn't get his feet up, for whatever reason. His season is over.

Sawyer's and Miller’s games were cancelled this weekend due to “cold” weather. We had 83 degrees on Friday, and a strong enough cold front that blew through to make the high yesterday a balmy 33 degrees. Only in Texas. There were storms but not in our area.

Cooper's tennis meet on Monday resulted in a very close sem- final game they lost; he had to go back the next day, to see if they'd qualify to play for third, which depended on their team members losing their match for 2nd place. He won. Because he finished third in the district he goes on to regionals. Not too shabby for a boy who didn’t pick up a racquet until 9th grade, and has had no private lessons. Good on Cooper.

Hunter had a BYU club that sent him to a conference this weekend in Indianapolis, and he had a three hour layover at DFW airport. Dad and I drove up there, picking up a bagful of brisket and accessories, to feed him and his traveling club companion. We drove to one of the hotels on the airport premise, and sat outside in a balmy 83 degrees, and had a wonderful time. In their own words, “Best Layover Ever.” They also left with chocolate, cookies, and trail mix. It was good to see Hunter. It’s been a long time since Christmas. It will be good to see you. There’s a possibility I’ll need to have you call me Saturday evening instead. I’ll keep you updated. The other option is at 8 p.m. Sunday, if I can get the day off.

Interesting headline this week was London's "Intense New Knife Control Policies to Stop Epidemic of Stabbings." While the mayor declared the new policy, "It's not clear what local Londoners will now use to cut their food."

And, "Dallas County Sheriff’s deputies are on a manhunt for an escaped inmate." The inmate managed to get away while being transported from Frank Crowley to Lew Sterrett for booking Monday night. Police say the 21-year-old suspect took off running while still in handcuffs and was able to flee the area. The interesting part of the story? The deputies and detectives pulled all the family members in over the evening, and wouldn't let them go until someone cracked and told them where he was hiding.

That's it for the weekly news. Know of our love for you. Always.



Sunday, April 1, 2018

With All My Love

Elder Schenewark,

Happy Easter! We enjoyed your letter last week. Getting in a bus accident? Not so much. Your story about Kevin, and his story? Very much. In fact, almost as much as General Conference this weekend. 

I had a mini Easter dinner for the missionaries this Friday. It was supposed to be with my widow group, but obviously Easter weekend provided a lot of other opportunities for them, which they took, leaving us with lots of yummy leftovers. Breyer helped me make the Easter dessert – a plastic champagne cup filled with malted eggs and M&Ms, in an Easter palette, topped by a homemade chocolate cupcake, white mint frosting, and a purple marshmallow bunny. 

Hunter was called to be the new Elders Quorum President in his ward, effective immediately and through next school year. He accepted. He had planned to leave the Orem area and UVU ward, and move closer to BYU but chose to serve instead. He’ll be blessed. We’re looking forward to him coming home shortly. He had a mission reunion, which was broadcast live, so Dad saw him socializing. 

Cooper has his last tennis match tomorrow, even though our school district has no school. He’s meeting with the new scout master to get his paperwork in order, so hopefully I can drop it off in Hurst this week for verification.

Sawyer got second place, again, in pole vaulting, qualifying for the district meet, which is also tomorrow. He had me take him down Friday morning, which they also had off from school, as well as between the Saturday conference sessions. He clears ten and 10’6” routinely but is now working on clearing 11 routinely. Both first place wins over Sawyer were at 11’ and by boys that had private coaching.

Miller put on a purple dress shirt, and slacks, and went with the boys to the Priesthood session of conference. They got to bring a cherry and lemon meringue pie for after the traditional Hamilton barbeque. Miller also went on his first camp out, only he didn’t stay overnight. He looks so little! And I probably tend to baby him a bit, but he is eleven! Only Cooper braved the elements, and is still enjoying his hammock.

The boys and Dad also got to go to the temple Friday afternoon since school was out.

I found out today, no matter who wins, Tanner has clenched the Jock Strap Trophy for 2018. The final game is between Michigan (3) vs Villanova (1) tomorrow.

Your Brazilian friend, Aline Scimone, sent me this picture. Such a wonderful thing to find in my electronic email.

And of course, Nora, in all her glory - and bathing suit - continues to light up our lives. I do feel bad for Tanner and AnneMarie.I do love talking to them, hearing about the their lives...but I'm so distracted by Nora!

I thought in closing I'd give you a few of my conference thoughts. Wow. Amen. A lot of good changes. I loved Elder Taylor's "I Am a Child of God" talk."Who sent him here?" was often a thought I had as well. Elder "coolest name ever" Echo Hawk had great thoughts on forgiveness. Elder Renlund's thought, that when ordinances are performed for those in heaven,people on earth will heal, should be your father's new mantra. So many needy, needy people. I was reading an old conference by Elder Holland,where he describes the Savior's debtor parable in modern day amounts. The debt of $1 billion was forgiven, but the man couldn't forgive the debt of $100. Elder Holland said, "Jesus uses an unfathomable measurement here because His Atonement is an unfathomable gift given at an incomprehensible cost."To me, this is the Easter message. I hope your weekend was lovely. Look for the big box. I'll try to work on your recipes!

Stay safe. Be aware. 



Monday, March 26, 2018

Letter #32

So, first off, got in THE WEAKEST Ônibus accident in the history of accidents. We were on the bus, and this dude in a truck, one of the big ones, was drunk, and also texting, but really really drunk. So, he's flying around the roads, doesn't see us, stopped at a bus stop, until the last second. Slams on the breaks, doesn't quite stop, taps our bus. Four passengers on the bus, us, and old Asian dude (named Kevin, we'll get to Kevin later). and this lady. Lady starts screaming, Kevin starts laughing, we just kinda sat there.

Then Kevin gets up and starts talking (also, why is every Asian person I meet named Kevin?).
Flashback to the beginning of our week. We're going through the list of members with Samurai Jan, and she was like, there are so many Asian people on this list, why am I the only only one in church?
So we made our goal, bring an Asian to church.

So, we're visiting all of these Asian people on the church list, I learned a lot about Brazilian Asians. They are either going to make your day or throw something at you. First three people, all dead. the family members didn't like us too much, so we left fast. Then we had a streak of the old, sweet, toothless Japanese men, invited us in, tried to feed us strange Japanese stuff, mostly alcoholic. But, all the people, either dead or moved out. We were just finding their relatives. So, Saturday, we trudged out again, out of names, out of Asians. Then, Kevin happened

-back to Kevin on the bus
Laughing his head off. Turns to us, puts his hand on my shoulder
K- I was suppossed to die today
Me- what is he talking about?
K- I had a dream that I would get into a bus accident today and die, and I was really nervous, but then when I got on the bus, I saw two young men, both so full of life that I knew I wouldn't die as long as they were on the bus. The truck should've killed me but because of you guys, KEVIN LIVES.
-He kinda yelled the last part
Me- so, you're Kevin, hi Kevin, I'm............ You want to come to church with us this Sunday?
Kev- Will there be any single Japanese women my age?
Me- Yeah actually, there will. What are your thoughts on Samurai?

So he came to church, we got our Asian man, he asked our Samurai on a date, she said no, but I've got a feeling he'll be back to try again.

 And that's my Asian week, tune in next time, where we talk about the other life long question: who wins in a head on collision between a horse and a VW Fox???


Elder Sake Sake Shiitake

Sunday, March 25, 2018

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

Spring has sprung in Texas. The grass is green, the trees are budding and sprouting green leaves, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and we reached 90 degrees. Not that we’ll stay there, but when winter is over in Texas, it’s gone quickly. Grass growth explodes, and the bi weekly job of maintaining the yard has begun. I’m so grateful Cooper can assist with his handy dandy tractor he fixed and maintains. Yesterday Cooper used his tractor to go up and across the street one house to pick up Breyer. I’m sure that will be a fond memory for her, and one her little friends won’t soon forget. I’d love to be picked up by Cooper for a ride in the tractor!

Cooper played his last spring tennis meet this week in Arlington, and lost. He might have one more chance to play doubles in districts next week. We’re at the work-with-the-district portion of completing his Eagle Scout project – he’s running out of time very quickly. His room is still messy, he continues to draw, and he had a marvelous time at Mormon Prom, held in Denton this year. Hopefully pictures will be forthcoming.

Baseball season began this weekend with an opening season tournament. Miller played on Friday evening under the lights, and just lost. He pitched three innings, and was amazing. He had three strike outs the first inning, two in the second with the third out from a fly ball he caught, and two more strike outs in the third inning, with the third out from a ball he fielded and threw to first. Nine outs in three innings all from him. He’s moved up a field size, and for not having picked up a ball since last spring season was over, he did great. Not so much with his bats. He played two games on Saturday and pitched two more innings in each, and was almost as successful. He did better with his bats. He had a fabulous bunt up the third base line, and advanced a player to second. I could tell the coaches were surprised, and asked if they had given him the signal to bunt. No. He got caught in a pickle because the runner on second didn’t steal when the catcher missed a pitch. He did a head first dive under the tag and was safe. He hit a line drive to first base, stopped by the first baseman, and still beat him to the bag. He’s poetry in motion when he runs around the bases. I share this with you not because Miller playing baseball is important, but it is to him at this time in his life. He is still very shy, but communicates well in sporting situations.

Sawyer had two games Saturday. He played short stop in the first, and pitched in the second. His bats were slow to start as well, but his pitching is amazing. Lifting weights the past two years has increased his speed tremendously. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t pushing 80 mph yesterday, with mostly strikes. He won both games, and will miss the championship tournament game today, as will Miller.

I purchased Hunter’s airplane ticket to come home. This will be a first for us, as Tanner went straight to his pest control job, a mission, pest control, and marriage. It will be wonderful to have him home. Speaking of Hunter,he is currently in the lead with the March Madness tournament.

The younger boys are still watching basketball games. Not as devoted, as their teams are out, but interested enough in hopes that Breyer won’t be the winner. She’s in the lead and they’re not very  happy. With a win by #11 Loyola, they’ll be in the Final Ffor the first time. There are a couple of Elite Eight games that will finish today but maybe a 1 and 2 ranked teams are left. I’m not sure

I sent Nora a big Easter package. I just love face timing with her. I feel bad for Tanner and AnneMarie as it’s difficult to have a conversation with them when I’m having baby talk with Nora. And she’s addictive, so they don’t get me too much.

The big news of the week was Jarrod having Rudy, of Rudy fame, come to Tarleton University to speak. Jarrod arranged for his visit, picked him up from the airport, and made him laugh. Because he’s neighbors with AnneMarie’s parents, and home teaching companion with her father, they filmed a short clip Jimmy Kimmel style to share with him. They’re hysterical. Dad had a great time, and hopefully will have a few proprietary projects in the wings to do with him. They call each other “coach.” The youth group from Granbury and Stephenville wards went Wednesday evening to hear him speak, and they all went away with Tarleton tee shirts. You too.  He also provided signed photos for you all.

In reading a talk by Elder Rasband, Standing with the Leaders of the Church, he said, “We sustain leaders…who, by divine inspiration…are calling out to us to beware of the dangers we face each day – from casual Sabbath-day observance, to threats to the family, to assaults on religious freedom, and even to disputing latter-day revelation. ..Are we listening to their counsel?” What a great reminder in lieu of General Conference that airs this week. Have we listened and do we even know what was said in October? “As we press forward, choosing to follow the counsel and the warnings of our leaders, we choose to follow the Lord while the world is going in another direction.”

Speaking of the world going in a different direction, we got a call about a disturbance involving a man with a weapon and on drugs. Turned out he was yielding a toilet brush. Dealing with emotions from “this is serious” to “can’t stop laughing so hard I can’t breathe” can leave me wrung out.  But I’m happy to help.

Have a wonderful week. Maybe your birthday box will arrive in time for Easter.