Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Grapefruit Syndrome

Jarrod and I had a quiet moment the other night, sitting around the table eating grapefruits together...really a guilt-free, late-night snack that's very refreshing. It reminded me of a story I read during my first year of marriage, called The Grapefruit Syndrome. The author wrote:

"My husband and I had been married about two years—just long enough for me to realize that he was a normal man rather than a knight on a white charger—when I read a magazine article recommending that married couples schedule regular talks to discuss, truthfully and candidly, the habits or mannerisms they find annoying in each other. The theory was that if the partners knew of such annoyances, they could correct them before resentful feelings developed.

It made sense to me. I talked with my husband about the idea. After some hesitation, he agreed to give it a try.

As I recall, we were to name five things we found annoying, and I started off. After more than 50 years, I remember only my first complaint: grapefruit. I told him that I did not like the way he ate grapefruit. He peeled it and ate it like an orange! Nobody else I knew ate grapefruit like that. Although I have forgotten them, I’m sure the rest of my complaints were similar.

After I finished, it was his turn to tell the things he disliked about me. Though it has been more than half a century, I still carry a mental image of my husband’s handsome young face as he gathered his brows together in a thoughtful, puzzled frown and then looked at me with his large blue-gray eyes and said, “Well, to tell the truth, I can’t think of anything I don’t like about you, Honey.”


I quickly turned my back, because I didn’t know how to explain the tears that had filled my eyes and were running down my face. I had found fault with him over such trivial things as the way he ate grapefruit, while he hadn’t even noticed any of my peculiar, and no doubt annoying, ways.

I wish I could say that this experience completely cured me of fault finding. It didn’t. But it did make me aware early in my marriage that husbands and wives need to keep in perspective, and usually ignore, the small differences in their habits and personalities. Whenever I hear of married couples being incompatible, I always wonder if they are suffering from what I now call the Grapefruit Syndrome." Ensign, April 1993

My husband has never said ONE thing to me about what I might do that annoys him, or upsets him...although I know there are plenty. He has always defends me, my decisions, and profusely extols my virtues to the boys. And, he does not peel his grapefruit.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Princess in Training

Breyer excited to hear women can serve in combat units now.
Actually, she's protecting herself from her brothers!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Letter #27

Dearest Family Whom I Love So Very Much,

This has been a week for the books, unlike any other I've had in the mission thus far in its disruption of the daily missionary routine. I don't even remember the last "normal" day I had. But it's all good this time, if a little crazy. The twins towers of Agudos (Elder Dias is the oldest of seven, has a mad appetite for food and likes to discuss profound doctrine before bedtime, Oh yeah.) baptized two this Sunday in our wonderful put together baptismal font. It's like a back yard pool version that you put together, with a frame and then a lining. And because of the small size of the hose it takes, literally, one day to fill up. We exercise our faith by starting the whole process before the interview has taken place, and this week it payed off. We baptized two siblings, 14 and 9, and hope to baptize the rest of the family, which we are teaching, in the weeks to come.

Last night we traveled to Bauru, spent the night in the house of the missionaries there just having a wonderful time and arrived this morning early in Agudos. Why the sudden travel? Elder Dias Batista needed a BBQ for today which was only to be found there. It's close, but still, as exhibited by this effort, this guy likes to BBQ. Should be tasty today. Also we won the prize this week in our zone for baptizing the most so I think we may go to a zoo. . . We´ll see.

Packages and waterfalls of letters should arrive next week due to transfers. Oh boy:) I don´t have gear to send pictures this week but I do have lots of pictures so next week is going to be exciting for you!

Friday we had a day of spiritual highs and lows, but I don´t think I can do it justice here today in the letter so I´ll put it in a handwritten one and send it along. Needless to say, due to past events and one on Friday morning, under the direction of the president we rededicated our house to the Lord. It was a marvelous experience and our home is once again a place where the Spirit can reside and edify. If that´s not vague enough, I don´t know what is, but I feel it's more appropriate to share this story through letter.

Urgent Notices: I don´t know who has the bronze jock currently, but ask that before the next victor is crowned my name be engraved for victory in 2012- Elder Tanner "Two-for-Two" Schenewark. . .

The bag I bought is large but of very dubious and broken quality. Don´t worry about sending one now but I think perhaps towards the end it might be a good idea. I´ll probably dish this one here. We´ll see. . .

Well, that´s a bit hectic but I´m doing just great and I hope you are too.



Sunday, January 27, 2013

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

Your letter last week was very interesting to say the least! We're excited you're out of Tupa! You worked hard, you're looking too thin, and I hope you can recoup some of yourself while you're with this district leader. I'm sure the amount of strength you give will fluxuate up and down over the course of your mission, and I expect you left Tupa pretty drained, and would ask you allow yourself to be refilled. That being said, I'm sorry you had to spend your carefully saved money on a bag. I had planned on mailing you one, as I know you were tight leaving, and knew you would have more to bring home. I'm not sure what kind of bag you bought, but let me know if you will still need something bigger.

I will write your former companion. I bet it was hard for him to see all your mail, and get none himself. Are you going to see your packages? Will they pass everything along so you'll get it someday?

Your former companion's letter gave us a few more details about your transfer: "There was an emergency transfer this week in the mission because two missionaries went chose to go and the other had medical issues. Elder Schenewark got transferred and is in some other city in São Paulo. He got lucky. "

Your CTM companion wrote: Sister T. did a surprise inspection this week. Our house had a reputation for being the worst house in the mission, but Sister T. said it was the cleanest house in the mission and talked with us personally to congratulate us for our house!! He's set the bar are you doing in apartment cleanliness? Aren't you thankful you were taught how to clean toilets over and over and over... ;-)

Another missionary mom sent me this email: "Amy, this is what a member of a branch where your son is serving said about him. "Elder Schenewark is an awesome Elder. He visited my house ..." When I asked her how she heard this tidbit, she said she asked a member there. Her son baptized him and she is friends with him on Facebook.

Your cousin Naomi Hutchins received her mission call to Lyon, France. She leaves May 15th. How cool is that! Uncle Aaron won't be the only French speaking missionary in the family now!

Uncle Ben is finishing his basement. He sent out his "Dream Big" floor plans, which include an apartment with bedroom and kitchen, and a new deck with a hot tub. It's been unusually arctic cold in Utah this year, for almost two months. The bell tower walkway/bridge is a sheet of ice, and everyone slides their way to school. Roger returned to BYU this month for the new semester.

Your sister has been very busy this week. She now pushes chairs across the kitchen to help me wash dishes. All.the.time. She loves water. She takes two baths a day, one in the morning, and one at night. She's trying to speak more, and combine two words together. She finishes a cup, or bowl of something, and would run to the downstairs toilet and put her dirty dishes in there. We started hearing the lid "bang," and knew we needed to check for her latest toilet donation. One night, after hearing the "bang," and running into the bathroom, I found a mug in the toilet with a few frozen blueberries floating. She was on the stairs, watching me find her treasure. When I told her that was "naughty," she smirked, and continued her climb. Forty minutes later Cooper found my cell phone in the upstairs toilet. So we are no longer mobile. When I told Grampy, he just laughed. Good for him. Someday I'll have his eternal perspective.

Monday the boys were home from school because of Martin Luther King's birthday celebration. But there was not a whole lot of sleeping in. We had Porter's surprise 15th birthday party, and I was up early cooking all 15 breakfast items. It was a huge success! Not because it was an amazing party, but because it was a fun thing to do on a day when not much was going on. Shortly after the party, Porter had a freshmen game in Ironton that Breyer and myself drove to see. He played most of the game, and although they lost, if he wasn't in, they pushed ahead. When he was in, they didn't score. Dad had everybody else at the annual Optimist Club's basketball shoot-out at the YMCA. Miller was able to participate unofficially, and Sawyer and Cooper officially. They took a younger brother from Porter's birthday party, and Sawyer gave him a basket ball he won; Cooper won another bicycle, and sent him home with two bikes from our garage.

Tuesday at cub scouts we had stations again, and this week built wood sailboats, courtesy of Home Depot; wrote thank you cards to our grandfather who's helping us with wood projects, and did six arm-to-arm muscle strengthening exercises. Those boys make me smile. I love their enthusiasm for life, learning new things, and being with friends. As usual, Larry does a stellar job with Breyer, as Dad's late night class at Marshall is also on this night.

Wednesday Dad was at the church filling in as scoutmaster. He brought string and rings, and had the boys learning knots for tying on weights and flies and threading fishing poles. He came prepared with his "scoutmaster minute," and had a lot of interested boys and leaders. This week he'll finish up the fishing merit badge.

Friday was our first snow since October, beginning after school had started. The boys were sent home by 12:30 p.m. Larry-the-neighbor-who-makes-living-here-wonderful knew the boys would be coming home early, so he brought two large pizzas over for them, and chicken nuggets for the Princess. Happy tummies over here! Almost as good as Grampy's early morning doughnut runs. Friday was the deadline for the Optimist annual essay contest. Hunter was the only one who got one written. 

Cooper asked a long time ago if he could go to a Lego event held at Toys'R'Us and I told him I would take him if he wrote an essay. He didn't. Saturday morning rolls around and he realizes his dreams of going might be squashed, so while I was busy at a few other events, he spent the morning vacuuming the entire house, and cleaning sinks. One such event was the Relay for Life kick-off breakfast at the Fairgrounds. It was held in the Monty Pizza building, which has closed, and now belongs to 4H groups. I made a huge batch of cinnamon rolls to bring. I left a little early to go to Sawyer's tournament game hosted by Fairland this week, and brought another batch of rolls for them. He's so fun to watch. He's one of the bigger boys on the team. Because the league went to grade divisions this year, and all the other schools play by age, our boys are 3rd graders (8-9 year old) playing in the 9-10 year old bracket. I don't mind at all. The harder the competition the more they'll learn and the better they'll become. 

We left his game and headed back to the pancake breakfast, wrapped that up and went home to collect the boys. This is where Cooper's efforts paid off. Dad appreciated his self-motivation and ran him up to the mall while we cleaned the church. We also had to shovel all the walkways. Knowing we'd be outside for a bit, we brought Ranger on his long leash, and let him play with us. We'd shovel a scoop, and chuck it at him. He loves biting all the snow "balls." Breyer was so happy to finally be outside, after a long arctic spell. She was a bit too enthusiastic and when hitting an icy spot fell and put her tooth all the way through her upper lip. Any mouth injury bleeds a lot, and when Miller saw her, with her lower face covered in blood, dripping on her shirt and coat, he cried, and said, "Is my sister dying?"

And since we can never have just one adventure, Dad took my church key I left in the outside lock, to open an office, and forgot to return it. When he left to take Sawyer to his second game, we had no way to lock up the church! When Dad felt the key in his pocket, after dropping off Sawyer, he turned around and drove all the way back to lock up the church. Sawyer's second game was just as exciting. He was up in the air on a rebound or shot, and had his feet knocked sideways. He landed on his knee. It was a big bang, and I knew he had been hurt. That was right before the half. He still played quite a bit, but was funny looking as he hobbled up and down the court. (We had our orthopedic specialist Stan-the-man look at it today in church, and he said it was just a big bone bruise.) We finished off the long day with six boy haircuts! Those always make me tired, but throw in BIG vacuuming and snow shoveling, and I was really tired.

Today in church Porter and the Nicelers spoke. They came home last week, and today he was sustained as scout master. Everybody is SO excited to have them back! They absolutely loved their mission. They kept saying how it was the perfect mission for them, and that Heavenly Father does know each of us. Sis. Niceler spoke about how much she grew to love reading her scriptures, looking forward to her study time so much. Even after being seminary teacher, she grew in ways she didn't expect. 

Porter did a wonderful job, speaking on the Holy Ghost, probably the most mature talk he's given. While he had me look at his talk last night, I realized we had failed miserably. We had been asked on Wednesday if Porter could watch their dogs for them, starting Friday night. So the dogs had been in the house since Friday morning, and now it was 11 p.m. Saturday night. I was just sick. I got Dad up, and all three of us, with fear and trepidation, opened the door. We were so blessed. It's because of you and your mission! Barely anything to clean up, and all three dogs still alive. Thank you! Thank goodness!

I think it not a coincidence my thought last week was on saying goodbye to those you serve, and then to find out you left! My seminary thought for you tonight? We were reading in 1 Cor. 1:27, and speaking of how Heavenly Father chooses the "foolish things of the world to confound the wise...the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." That's you. Weak and simple ;-) No power or authority, no education or degrees...a missionary endowed with the priesthood power and authority called to preach the gospel. We love you! We're looking forward to your letter! 

Love, Mom and Dad

P.S. We were finally able to figure out how to open your pictures...thank you!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Helping Friends Realize Their Value

Hunter  found out the 11th of February he placed second in the Optimist International, Huntington 
Essay Contest; he was awarded $200 the 28th of April.

Most times we cannot fully comprehend life’s gifts and sorrows. We simply do not understand how everything fits together. Looking back, I am not sure I know why I was chosen.  A retired school teacher and his wife hired me to mow their lawn. He had diabetes and his eyesight was worsening until he was nearly blind. What began as a simple business agreement morphed into something a lot more valuable.

As I began to work for him I recognized his worth. Sure, we enjoyed each other’s company, but I am confident that I learned more from him then he did from me. Hopefully he could tell how much I appreciated his stories, his kindness, and his generosity: How much I appreciated him. And I think he did.

As our trust in each other grew he gave me more responsibilities. I helped him weed, store boxes in the attic, power-wash…things that were difficult to do with limited vision. But his health went downhill in early winter. His toe was amputated. The decay from diabetes did not stop. His foot was amputated. The decay moved faster. His leg was removed close to the knee. Nothing was working. Then his leg to the upper thigh was amputated. Finally, the progression of decay stopped. Three years before, I was a lawn boy. Now I was the one he wanted to see in the hospital.

In the long internment, between painful surgeries and subsequent recoveries, I learned and experienced much. I listened to childhood stories of a West Virginia that is disappearing.  We watched the Masters Golf Tournament. He told me about caddying in the old Greenbrier Open. In early summer he was able to leave the hospital. Nearly every day after that my older brother and I visited and helped strengthen him through a series of exercises. He worked hard, desperately wanting to walk again through the use of a prosthetic. Unfortunately, his other foot started on the terrible path the other one had also followed. He became weaker, contracted pneumonia and passed away last July.

I never fully expressed my gratitude towards him, or the value I saw in the last couple months of his life. Hopefully he felt it and knew it. However, that’s not what this essay was written for. It was written because he saw some kind of potential in a gangly eighth grade teenager, who did not have the vision he did. The vision this blind, eighty-five year old man had of me changed my life. Having moved the previous year, I was still a bit uncomfortable in my new surroundings. Confidence was not my strong suit. My grandparents and cousins lived far away. Knowing there was someone who believed in me, who saw the best in me, who trusted me, meant a whole lot.

Knowing him, I tried to emulate his example. He persevered through all the difficulties he was given with great fortitude and a determination to do the best he could with what he was given. And he never gave up. Especially since his death, I have tried to embody the principles he embraced. The least I can do is share a kind word, lend a helping hand, and open my heart to a mourning friend. How can you help your friends realize their value? He made me his friend. Through his actions he showed how much he thought I mattered. Most importantly, he shared his time. He had no kids, but he definitely left a legacy. I have heard many stories of how he gave of his time, all the lives he has touched, and all the lives those people have influenced. The tabloids and media may not know it, but my friend changed the world. And that is exactly how I will show my friends and everyone they have value. I will spend time with them when they need a friend. I will encourage them when difficulties arise in their life. I will extend the hand of friendship when a friend is all they need. I will let them know they are worth it through my actions, my words, and my deeds. I was given this gift, in a very short period of my young life, and knowing how much difference it made in my life I know I can also change for the better the lives of many others.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Quiz Bowl

Two heads are better than one

In quiz bowl this week, Hunter dominated in the political questions. He answered correctly,
"Who ran against Martha Coakley in the 2010 election to replace a deceased Senator?"
Who is the longest serving Senator in Kentucky?
Who is the only President that was not elected either as a vice president or president?
Which vice president resigned, and was replaced by Ford?
(Scott Brown, Mitch McConnell, Ford, Spiro Agnew)

Porter and Hunter are able to confer together in the team round, and are very successful when they work together.

During the speed round, Porter's nightly Jeopardy quiz bowl practice kicked in, and he answered in the form of a question. The whole room got a good chuckle out of that. The moderator was kind, and said usually once or twice a year, that happens.

(Two Heads, study for St. Peter Receiving the Keys to Heaven (fresco) Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio of Urbino, Italy) (1483-1520) In Musee Conde, Chantilly, France)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Breyer's world revolves around Miller.

She watches television with him...

She loves when he's silly...

She plays with all his boy toys...

She shares everything with him...even if it doesn't fit!

She goes everywhere with him...

It's so nice she has a Best.Friend.Forever.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Fifteenth Birthday, Porter!

15 was the theme this day...

15 things, at least, for breakfast...

8:15 a.m. wake-up party surprise...

15 friends for breakfast...


15 birthday wishes...

15 games (not quite!)...

15 wonderful years!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Letter #26

Dearest of Families, Fondest of Friends,

As you may have guessed by the mysterious picture of yours truly with another ominous fellow and the president suspiciously holding a bag of Quaker oat cookies. . . I was transferred by emergency from Tupã. (At this point you should be holding a hand in shock over your mouth. Egads!)

It was indeed a dark and stormy night in Tupã, the 15th of January 2013, and all seemed right in the night. We began the ward counsel meeting, for which I had purchased chocolate, and made wonderful oh so beautiful reports of progress when we got a call from the assistants. They asked to speak to Elder Schenewark (there´s only one in all the world, or so I hear) and gave the dreaded news, AT 8;30 at night! Crikey! So, we gave quick "cioaos" and headed to pack my bags. I payed an exorbitant amount of money for my companion's bag to have room to pack everything and spent a fitful night in shock. 

Bus left 6:00 the next morning on the other side of the city. We rendezvoused in Marilia where the switch was made between companions and I headed on my way to the new city of Agudos, Brasil. That´s the very sparky notes version. Indeed, I cannot relate the hundredth part of my journeys this week, all by bus of course.

My new companion is Elder Dias Batista, of Sorocaba, Brasil. He´s the district leader, likes to work, eat, and baptize. All wonderful traits in a missionary companion. Agudos is smaller than Tupã, almost as scorching but not quite. There´s lots more trees and it sits in a bowl shaped valley/depression. It is comparatively much more hilly. We are the only missionaries here, which makes the house wonderfully tranquil during night and study time. Our landlord is a retired man who lives next door and makes the most wonderful, albeit expensive, sculptures out of wood. Requested a chess set, but in classic Brasil fashion was rejected because it "was too much work." I´ll keep looking.

Prospects? Baptisms. Challenges? Putting this sweet little branch on the map by making it a ward. Hard to effect this type of change in the short time we have but you have to try: ) Packages? none yet.

All letters may be sent to the mission office in Londrina. Got your Christmas card and the Merritts, the Valdez´(the night I left Tupã: ), the Whitcombs and I think that´s it.

Last night our neighbors treated us to a churrasco/Brasilian bbq, very good, not very healthy. The surprise I had commissioned for Porter in Tupã is presumably caputz so everyone will just have to wait longer for Birthday surprises. . .But they will come: )

In other news, I spent a day with Elder Simmons in the town of Lançois Paulista, a city in our district (we have 3, one pair in each) and it was great fun. We also painted our room green and white, a service project for Sister Tavares. Looks marvelous, and I´ll send pictures of the finished product soon.

Thought? I´m all about truth  (see the last several CES devotionals). This gem, from Elder Kimball: "We must recognize that secular knowledge alone can never save a soul nor open the celestial kingdom to anyone." and further that "opinion alone has no power in the matter of an absolute truth." In a world so filled with information and curiosities let us first seek out the truth that saves, the gospel of Jesus Christ, let us bring it to our neighbors and to our friends. Let us cling to it in our times of trouble and doubt. It is beautiful! It never fails and it never changes." I love you all. From the forested forests of Agudos, whose dubious motto translates to "Where Jesus Reigns."


Elder Schenewark

p.s. stopped raining: ) in more ways than one.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

With All Our Love

Hello Tanner!

We miss you! I know you feel the same way. I don't know whether or not it's helpful to let you know of our love for you, and the fact that we miss you, but hopefully these words will buoy you up. A way to let you know you're remembered every day all day long. I think you'd be surprised at how much we speak of you every day. 

Sis. Tavares sent out a sweet surprise last night, photographs of her husband visiting missionaries, and out of the four photos, you were in one. Sweet joy! It's been a three week drought over here...don't know what's going on with your camera, but we need weekly pictures of your smiling face. I don't care what you're doing, so long as you're in the photo, and it gets sent. What were you doing here? _____ 

I asked you a few questions last week, but I am under the impression that you're reading the letter after you leave the cafe. And, since I didn't leave you any _____ you weren't able to see anything that needed answered. So, I'll try again! Did you get our package? _____ Do you want me to mail the package on my counter now or not? _____ Your getting a lot of mail makes me happy. You have a lot of people cheering you from the sidelines. Your uncles in particular, I know, boost your spirits. Their letters are chalk full of warm and fuzzy feelings. They've been out where you are now, and know exactly what you need. Plus they are a little humorous!

Tuesday for cub scouts I took them to Porter's j.v. basketball game as their requirement is to attend a sporting event. He never got to play, it was too close. I arrived at half time when they were down by ten. I cheered with the little boys, and they began inching closer and closer. We kept cheering, in that very quiet gym. Heads were turning, but the little boys were told their cheering was helping them to win. And it did. By one basket.

Thursday Dad and I went to Porter's freshman game at Chesapeake. There were only seven players, so Porter played most of the game. He is good on the boards. Look how long his arms are! He's got the Fairland offense down, but needs more confidence in his shot. He always passes, unless he's right under. I love to watch you all play ball. Must be in the genes.

Friday Dad took Hunter and Sawyer on a date. They went to Outback for hamburgers, on our gift card, and visited the golf store. They were in the middle of looking when they remembered our new tradition with Sis. Parrish and dropped everything and drove to her house. I was at home with Cooper, Miller and Breyer, and had forgotten as well until she called. We were all an hour late, but we had a good time, and munched on popcorn. It was a good plan, as the kids were very calm. But then she pulled out the ice cream sandwiches, and like clockwork, everybody got revved up, started wrestling on her furniture and floor, and we had to leave.

Saturday was the final basketball tournament for Sawyer and Cooper. They both won their first game, and played in a second game, which they won. Unfortunately, the championship games are today, so they both chose not to play. I believe Cooper's team has gone undefeated the entire season, and Sawyer's team was in second place, so they both have had good seasons. There was more teaching this year, and definitely more playing time for Cooper. I'm thinking of sending Porter and Cooper up to the Ortons this summer for basketball camp. Why pay somebody else when I can keep the money in the family, and they'll get one-on-one instruction? 

During Sawyer's game he intercepted a pass and rocketed down the floor for a lay-up. The opposing team's player must have been a little frustrated he lost the pass, as he shoved Sawyer into the cement wall right as he was about to shoot. He hit the wall hard, fell to the floor and skidded quite a way, missing the protective pad. His glasses were bent and I had to reshape them. The refs called a technical foul, so he was given two free throws, and the ball to bring back into play for his team. He woke up this morning still very sore. 

The weather was beautiful yesterday, so after all the games some went to the driving range with Hunter, others threw a boomerang, and some played more basketball. We haven't had any snow except one time in the fall. The boys are still wearing their pajamas inside out and backwards, and putting spoons under their pillows when they sleep. Miller and Cooper even did a snow dance. Cooper asked me if I knew what the snow dance was, which I don't, so he made up his own. I do hope they get one chance to play in the snow! Sawyer was the lucky one this weekend, and got to build and launch his rocket. He named it "The Texas Tornado."

Today Breyer and I stayed home from church. She's quite sick, the cough-so-hard-you-vomit kind of sick. She's actually more miserable than sick, and spent the day in my lap. By the time your letter arrives in the morning, I will have been up and hosted a surprise birthday party for Porter. We're hoping he has 15 friends for breakfast, in honor of his 15 years. If we're a few short, we'll throw in a few brothers. There will be 15 things for breakfast (crepe bar, oatmeal bar, cinnamon rolls, hot cocoa bar, cereal, banana muffins...stuff like that). Beginning at 8:15, it will be fun to have them wake Porter up on their day off from school (Martin Luther King celebration). It is also the day of Obama's inaugeration. We watched Porter open a few presents. His favorite thus far is the scout back pack from your grand mother. He and Dad were having grand plans for going on a 50 mile trek this summer, so they could use all their nifty back packs we've received this year.

In seminary this week we studied Paul's missionary journeys. At the conclusion of his third mission, which lasted about three years, he kneeled down and prayed with them all. "And they all wept sore...sorrowing that they should see his face no more." I read this and thought of you leaving your friends in the CTM, and soon the members in your first area...and eventually the saints in Brazil. They will miss you. I know you're doing all that you can do, and you will be missed. Keep up the great work. We love you! Mom and Dad

P.S. This was an interesting article on the church news: “Elder Russell M. Nelson encouraged missionaries to open their mouths and eyes and fortify their minds during a Christmas Day devotional at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah…Particularly, Elder Nelson encouraged the missionaries to “open your eyes and fortify your minds against rumors.” One popular rumor in circulation is in regard to missionaries who are called to one area and transferred to open the work in another formerly closed area, such as China. “Such rumors are absolutely false. Refute them!” Elder Nelson said. “Leaders of this Church enter countries new to the Church through the front door. We do not go in through the back door or via the alley. Our relationships are based on honesty, openness, integrity, and complete compliance with local law.” He then quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley, who said, “Wherever we go, we go in the front door. Our missionaries honor the laws of the nations to which they go and teach the people to be good citizens.” Some missionaries are transferred during their missions, and some callings are modified, he said. This may happen as new missions are created. But, he said, any transfer made or calling modified is done openly. “Please decide here and now to be a ‘rumor stopper’ and not a ‘rumor monger,’” he said. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Keeping Warm in Sweater Vests

Wearing a sweater vest is like being wrapped in warm arms...

Sweater vests let everyone know how wise you truly are!

Sweater vests are reminders of all the good that's in the world!

Sweater vests mean someone loves you enough to knit for you!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Letter #25

Dear Family!

In a moment of grammatical exuberance my comma is now an exclamation point. I hope you approve. But in the spirit of providing a less helter or skelter version of my week , my feelings, the sometimes glubboorous things on my lunch plate, I am pre-drafting this letter. As my beta test volunteers, I hope the difference is both appreciated and unnoticed. But what am I talking about!? Lets talk about baptism, shall we? The word of the day is mulhado, meaning wet, very wet, soaking wet, and its still raining!

Each of you now has one or more or many roles that you are fulfilling (and I´m sure magnifying): Mom, Dad, Stake President, basketball player, referee, return missionary, patriarch, cook etc. Well my role is to baptize, as it has been made plentifully clear by my beloved president, and so while you fill your letters with the things above, I´ll fill mine with water. Just like my shoes, which were full of plenty of water this week, which is very ironic because we´re in a drought here in Tupã, of baptisms, even though its raining every day, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day, and I don´t remember what dry feels like. Someone pulled the plug on the pia (baptismal font).

As you may know or you may not, Brasil baptizes a lot of people, because the society is generally very humble and open to hearing the message of the gospel, which, naturally, leads to baptism. In fact it is a goal and standard of excellence that you baptize weekly. Oh yeah. Unlike my good friend in Ukraine whose mission´s goal for baptisms for the year is 65, we baptize this in 3 weeks or less. More less than not. Oh yeah. But Tupã´s not raining baptisms right now so, let me tell you some of the rain dances this Shamaan named Schenewark´s been doing to bring the waters of Baptism to Tupã. (We don´t need anymore water from the sky.)

1. We´re teaching with, challenging and serving the members everyday. We were challenged to challenge the members and that when they didn't respond to challenge them again, until they did their part and caught the spirit of the whole work. We marked everyday for this last week and this week to come, with a member who could teach with us for 1 or 2 hours, Or more. This week we managed to teach involve the branch much more in our work and hope to continue this effort. As a result we now have 4 people to teach that are member references and we have more references to contact this week. The members I trust are those that make sacrifices to help another into this wonderful gospel.

2. We´re getting brain rest. Let me explain: Missionaries run on batteries, rechargeable only by certain things--things need to maintain the laser focus and energy so vital. So this week we stockpiled fuel in the form of letters (12, oh so magical, thank you to all who also spoke of baptism in their letter), dark chocolate (nuff said), granola bars, divisions with the district leaders, and a renewed store of restoration pamphlets. Yup. And the Book of Mormon. For all these reasons and more I just feel marvelous right now. Ahh, but time has sped. I´ll have to describe our Minute to Win It Activity in a handwritten letter. Love, and love and to any needing water lots of that too, cause I don´t need it anymore, Good week to come. . .



Sunday, January 13, 2013

With All Our Love

Hello Dearest Son,

It's my favorite time of the week, when I can sit for a few minutes and reflect on you, your service, and the blessings you provide our family. Not that I don't think of you everyday, all day long, but that I can in some way provide you with an email that uplifts, informs, and sustains you until next week. It's a wonderful process, picking and choosing tidbits of life to share with you, and an even greater gift when your letter arrives Monday mornings.

1. Do you want me to mail the box on my counter, or wait until transfers? 2. Did you get Janel's box? 3. Did you get our Christmas card? 4. Did you get our box? Asking all these questions about your mail makes me remember your comment at Christmas, when you said that the mission secretary had told you that you get the most mail in the mission. Yeah! The Israelsens loved the letter they got from you last week. She didn't have it with her, but she said her kids thought it was hysterical. Their favorite part was when you told them how loud and obnoxious the parrots are, and that their squawking is in Portuguese. I guess I never thought about that before, but thinking of parrots mimicking what they hear, I guess they would mimic in Portuguese!

Your letter was received last week, and read today in church. Thank you for thinking of the ward. You'll have to work on your handwriting. Eric had a hard time, under pressure, deciphering on the spot. But your message was very clear. What are we doing to do to help others receive the message of the gospel?

This week is one for the record books. Sawyer was invited to be on the 3rd grade all-star basketball team. The fact that he's still thinking about his decision is a good thing. Porter got to play a couple of quarters in the home j.v. game, and racked up the rebounds. Breyer is still running to get to nursery. Must be a girl thing, as not one of my boys EVER did anything but have his feet dragged.

Miller finished his basketball season playing the ENTIRE game! He has sat two quarters every week, but for some reason his value was finally noticed. 

Cooper spotted a contest in the Lego magazine, and made a killer car to enter. It's not even mid-January and Hunter's spent half his week at the driving range. Dad's tenure portfolio is finished.

He's worked long hours this week putting together proof of every requirement necessary to achieve the rank of excellent in his pursuit of promotion and tenure to assistant professor. It will be give to his department chair, then the dean of the college, then the tenure committee, then the provost and university president. So his large binder has a bit of a journey to make. I think one of his notable accomplishments includes providing for his large family of 8, and choosing to spend time with us rather than fill up his binder with more work.

Tuesday for cub scouts we had one of the boy's grandfather bring his tools to show the boys what they do, saws to cut wood, hammers to hammer nails, and TWO demo sink pips to teach them how to check the trap for clogs and tighten the pipes for leaks. It was a winner activity. I think the fathers all learned something new, and the boys were kept very busy. Perfect!

Wednesday Dad had determined that he would do the scout activity, so your brothers could have a productive evening at mutual. I spent the morning calling meat markets, fish stores, and grocery stores trying to find a whole fish so he could show the boys how to fillet the fish. We also gathered fishing poles so they could do a casting game in the gym.  But when he went to pick up the fish, the butcher had already taken the guts out, and the head off, so he was a little dejected. We'll try again next week. So he and Cooper cooked it up tonight in a little cornmeal, and enjoyed a little trout together.

 Friday evening Dad and I went on a date. Sawyer, Miller and Cooper were at basketball practice, Porter on the bus to his game, and Hunter watched Breyer. We got some burgers at Outback, with the gift card we received at Christmas. We met up with the boys right when they finished practice, and took everybody over to Immogene's house. She wanted us to come back and watch Jeopardy with her, so we've made it our new Friday evening tradition. When we arrived, she had hot cocoa in cups, plates of cookies, and bowls of ice cream. It was a good thing we arrived on time! The boys were very polite, ate with manners, and watched Jeopardy. For a few minutes. Sugar started coarsing through Miller and Breyer, and the running began. We literally had to run out of there, with the agreement that next week we'd try popcorn. She's crazy for wanting us all over there, but it's good for both of us to be together. She misses her husband, and he loved Jeopardy.

Saturday we had to clean the church again. This time we had Dad, so I could hide even longer in the family history center ;-) We've had a nice tradition going now, two weeks, where we bribe them with doughnuts on the way home from cleaning. Last week we were treated like royalty at our only doughnut place, Pirate Doughnuts. She gave each boy their own bag instead of the box that holds the whole dozen. When one boy picked holes, and asked how many he'd get, she doubled what she had told him. Their dozen is 13, so Hunter got an apple fritter as the 13th doughnut, which did not qualify in the right place range. All-in-all, every boy left with a smile on their face, their bellies full, and the desire to clean the church again. Yes! So yesterday we introduced Dad to the doughnut lady, and she did us right again. She doubled the hole quota, gave them their own bags, gave Hunter the fritter, and made Dad smile. We'll be back.

Saturday was also the yearly Optimist pancake fundraiser breakfast at Applebees. We posted it on our Facebook accounts, and had twenty people come because of that. Sawyer had pre-sold eight. I don't think too many more people came after that. But. Optimists are always a good crowd to hang out with, especially at 8 in the morning, and the boys did enjoy their all-you-can-eat breakfast. And yes, this was before the doughnut run ;-)

I was signing up on the missionary meal calendar today, and one elder was peeking at the schedule. He saw how full it was and said, "It's going to be such a great week!" All boys love to eat, not just my own ;-)

One of the highlights of our week was today in meeting Eduardo. He's on an exchange from his university in Brazil to Marshall for one semester, with five other piano concert majors. Three went to Moorehead University, and three came to Marshall. He is a sweet, return missionary, who speaks English very well because of his video games before his mission. He spent a crazy afternoon here being drilled by everybody, playing Legos, playing games, and showing and taking pictures. It was a wonderful way to spend Sunday, learning more about where you are and what it's really like. Hopefully he'll come back!

We love you. We always say that at the end, and sometimes at the beginning but it is true. We miss you and your ability to make us smile and laugh, your accents, your singing, your ability to EAT, we miss you. But we wouldn't have you any other place doing any other thing. You're exactly where you should be, and we know it. So, drink lots of water, wear your sunburn, answer my questions before you forget, be.careful. Love, Mom and Dad

P.S. In seminary we read about the stoning of Stephen this week. What an amazing man, equivalent to one of the presidency of the seventy today. We aren't asked to make that kind of sacrifice today, but we do need to remember men like him who gave all that they had for the Savior. What a great example.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cub Scout Stations

When you have 18 Cub Scouts, stations work best!

This week one station was building a "boot jack" kit with screws and a screw driver, a cool contraption that pulls your shoe off for you without bending over!

Station two was unscrewing a sink pipe with a plumber's wrench and checking the trap for a clog!

(I think this might have been the favorite stop for the boys...)

The last stop was using a vice, a few different kinds of saws,

and hammer and nails.

A perfect environment for curious boys with lots of energy!