Friday, May 31, 2013

Sawyer's Thinking Spot

The white spot left of the middle does NOT belong...causes mostly headaches, a few mood swings, general malaise...but for now will be watched, and remeasured (4 cm) in six months. Maybe with a little dye to rule out a brain tumor, but thought to just be an arachnoid cyst.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Heritage Station, Huntington, WV

When your friend loves trains, you do too!
If you're in Huntington, WV, be sure to stop by Heritage Station and see one named after the city's founder, and an old steam 2-8-2 train - a boy's climbing paradise!



Monday, May 27, 2013

Letter #44

Dearest Family,

Before I dig into spices, a surprise: Last Monday after we left the internet cafe we found out that this transfer was only a five week transfer and thus next week was transfers. HeLLOO!! Not sure how we missed that one but we did : ) So that means that today was transfers and. . . I got transferred. My first official, normal transfer. Still slightly in shock. But I'm going to Londrina, Tiradentes Stake, and my companion will be Elder Leonardo, a Brasilian who I hear speaks really good English.

So. That´s the breaking news. I will sorely miss Elder Beaudoin who has become a dear friend. He is, in every sense, a champ. The last eleven weeks were superb in large part due to his constant efforts to serve, lift-up and minister. What could have been the most challenging stretch of my mission thus far, was transformed into one of the most refining and enjoyable. We found peace in our work and in the gospel and in our friendship as I'm sure not many missionaries have.

So, spices. The all out winner above all others is garlic. GARLIC, garlic garlic. It's on and in everything. A second would probably be salt, or garlic salt. The garlic when strong attacks after lunch in venomous garlic burps that are not so great.

The other day I should relate we bought a well-roasted chicken for lunch, and at the suggestion of Elder Beaudoin, we broke the wishbone in this manner: He who gets the larger end will marry first. I won. Just thought I'd throw that in there for future reference as to the correctness of divination by chicken.

We also experienced what I can truly say is the heart of old Brasil, the Brasil that is memorialized on postcards or short stories. We tracked into a family, an older couple, who is classic and ideal in every way. Think, as I cannot describe sufficiently here, what scene these ingredients and spices of Brasil create: Shoemaker, leather, orange tree, white roses, brown wool cardigans, glass paned windows with white wood shutters, bottled "doce de laranja" (orange marmalade), cinnamon sticks, tropical orchids, white hair pulled back into a gepetto ponytail, frayed white linen shirt, 1929 truck, slight Spanish accent, and the clearing of a 5 o'clock rainstorm into the sunset. That is the quickest version I can give of what Brasil really is. At last I have discovered it and I love it. One day I will write a story about the Celsio´s search for laranja doce and how his father, who came from Italy, lived till 3 weeks short of his 101st birthday. It will be worthy of Kipling or Hemingway.

A last note on the shomaker old man, it was very cool to see him ply his trade, a trade that my great-grandfather plied many years ago. Here in Brasil, perhaps all over, I don't know, it can't have changed much since that time. It was a "sole"ful moment ; )

We had a sweet experience with our project challenging the institute members to give out copies of the Book of Mormon. Up till this week they had been members who were more or less strong. This week a recently returned couple was assigned. They took their challenge very seriously and with enthusiasm, praying about who should receive that book. Finally, with trepidation they managed the task and bore a powerful testimony of the spirit that filled them as they did so. We expect, as well, high returns on the two references they got as a result. Seeing the enthusiasm, the young sister chosen for this week asked for two, one of which I know has already been gifted. Alas! I must leave all this, but it is gratifying to see the members invested in the work : )

Well, I take my leave for the week. Thank you for the love. I listen to the talks on the USB, I think of you. I snack on peanut m&ms, and think of you. I sleep, warmly, and think of you. I testify to those who will hear, and how do I think of you. The gospel is true. It is eternal! I know this and love you more for each passing moment that turns a simple seed of faith into a growing tree of certainty.

"The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever" (Alma 37:46).

Love, forever,


Eagle Scout Court of Honor

We were asked to participate in an Eagle Court of Honor...What a great thing for each boy who can earn this award.

President Ezra Taft Benson once said:

 “Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. 

Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. 


Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. 

Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life”.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

How are you today? We surely love hearing from you. Your letters are fantastic. We loved reading about your different Brazilian games you wrote about last week. We have yet to try one, but now that school's out we'll be able to play a few more games at family home evening. They might not have everything we're looking for, or answer all our questions, but we can feel of your love, know that you're doing your best, and are able to understand what you're doing a little more each week.

With that fine introduction, the question of the week is, "What do people spice their food most often with?" Our staples include salt and pepper, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder...Is the food flavored similarly? __________

Your former companion, Elder Bennett, typed a letter tally detailing who sent him letters and how many. I just wanted to know you were on the list: E. Schenewark: 1 He also had a wonderful few lines detailing his early testimony of the Book of Mormon. "When I was 11 years old remember when I came to you Mom, and said that I didn't want to go to church anymore because I didn't believe in God, Jesus, or the church and you simply told me to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, and if God existed I would receive an answer from Him. Well Mom, I did like you said, I read the Book of Mormon and I prayed about it. God exists. He answered me in a way that I can never, never deny. He touched something deep within my soul that I could feel was there all along but it hadn't been discovered yet. Almost like a well of water that was finally revealed and since then has given me the water of life that I have needed. Even after almost ten years have passed I still remember how the Holy Ghost felt inside of my whole body that day, that same feeling is the same feeling I feel today, it's the same feeling that drives me to be a better son of God." I firmly believe that the key to missionary work is getting investigators to open the Book of Mormon, and take the challenge: Read and pray for yourself.

Your former companion, Elder Cummings, celebrated his birthday, and his mother contacted men who played meaningful parts in his life, and had them donate a tie for his birthday box. What a great idea!

I thought you would enjoy hearing from Sister Havili, she commented on your letter: "Oh yes, Elder Havili mentioned his interesting week spending time with Elder Schenewark too. He thinks highly of him! They've both been in their areas awhile and have covered a lot of ground in the Bauru Stake."
Our week in a word? Busy! Not the frantic kind of busy when you're head is spinning with all the to-do lists left unfinished, but the busy kind of busy where you're running to and fro just to attend all your obligations. This week it was the end-of-the-school-year stuff.

Cooper had an awards ceremony, in which I posted a few pictures on the blog for you. The fact that he wanted to dress up, and not just a polo shirt kind of dress up was impressive to me. He and one other boy were the only ones in the entire middle school, three grades worth of kids, that wore a shirt and tie. I asked him what awards he was receiving, as sixth graders have not historically been invited to this ceremony. But he told me he should be receiving an honor roll award as well as a band award.

Hunter and Porter had an award ceremony as well. Porter was recognized for being on varsity quiz bowl, as well as the team making regionals. Hunter received those awards as well as a student council certificate for being class president, a quiz bowl plaque for being high scorer, a peer tutor certificate, his Marshall SCORE medals for 3rd place in History and 1st in International Business Finance, and the faculty nominated "exemplary character" award.

Miller had a couple of baseball games, but in the one that I could go to, he received the game ball for hitting a good hit when the score was down one, last inning, two outs, and drove home the tied run in plus one more. Miller only made it to first base but it was a hard hit line drive between first and second. One of the most entertaining aspects of his game was listening to Sawyer announce the line-up. He was genuinely enthusiastic, and a marked contrast between the other team's announcer.

Sawyer and Cooper had a game as well. Sawyer had a little bit of a headache moment in the game, and had to bat. He hit a little dribble, ran as hard as he could down the first base line, tripped and fell, got back up and ran across first base only to find out the throw was off. He stole his way over to third base, having to slide into base each time, and reignited the team a little too late in an 18-0 loss.

Hunter is golfing several times a week...his three-month special ends this month. His score on Friday was a 36 for the last nine holes. He'll begin finding and registering for tournaments here and in New England to play in this summer.

Our landlord called this week and after two years asked to do an inspection, so much of the week was spent cleaning and fixing. And her son-in-law came and power washed the house. There were chita pets growing on the roof, and the north side is where you could always find moss. But true to form to last year's power washer, he started on the clean side, and saved the hardest part for last. At least this year he finished. After five days! And he usually arrived at 9 p.m. to start. But, the house looks clean. They also trimmed all the bushes and will be bringing by mulch. The story of the week goes to day one of power washing when the man wrote on our garage roof, "I 'heart' Kim," and then a huge thunderstorm arrived and he ran away. Nothing like having every neighbor drive by and wonder who Dad's new 'love' is, or receiving phone calls wondering which one of my boys loves Kim.

Friday evening we went to the Huntington's Optimist 30th year anniversary dinner at Marshall, while Hunter was at Fairland's graduation, and Miller was playing baseball. We all met at home in time for your sweet friends the Bachs who arrived Friday evening for their annual Memorial Day visit. We were suppose to meet them at the Columbus temple, for Erika's wedding, but their arrival was delayed, and Dad had a death in the ward he had to deal with that prevented us from leaving on time.

Saturday morning we drove to Heritage Station to look at the old steam trains parked downtown. The brothers were having a grand time climbing all over the 2-8-2 (wheel patterns used to designate steam trains), when Miller smashed two of his fingers in an old furnace door. I don't know if you remember last week's letter, but I detailed his inability to handle pain, and he demonstrated his dislike again so the Bachs could also know. We distracted him a bit by taking everyone to Paula Vega's Gourmet cupcake shop, and trying the "Say Cupcake 10 times in 5 seconds for 1 free cupcake." And by the time we finished off tasty burgers at Fat Patty's he was feeling much better. And fuller. The Bachs taught us how to make butter beer, made famous by Harry Potter. Yum! A definite drink you'll enjoy when you return. We spent the evening catching up with Sis. Parrish. We brought Bro. Bach while Hunter mowed. The picture is from when we visited his grave site last week.

Tonight at the church Julia had a farewell celebration...cherry tree napkins and plates, and Japanese snacks included. It was a good party. We're stuffed! And Railroad Tycoon with Bro. Bach finished off the evening.  The boys spent some time tonight catching fire flies, and looking for the rare line up of three planets: Venus, Jupiter and Mars. Tomorrow is our Memorial Day, and we'll share our activities with you next week.

Cooper set up the tent late Friday night, as we were one bed short with our visitors. Dad went out with him, as well as Miller and Sawyer, and had the first camp out of the summer. I think it got down to 38 degrees...Dad was back in bed by 5:30 a.m. so they felt abandoned in the morning when they woke. He lit a fire in a borrowed fire pit from Relay, and read to them from the Daniel Boone book. Perfect! Saturday night Cooper was back in the tent, and this time Hunter was his companion. Today he spoke about spending every night this summer in the tent...what a boy! Sawyer and Ranger were his lucky companions tonight ;-)

I've been reading the conference edition of the Ensign since seminary was done, and have enjoyed the story that described a stone "placed in a well-kept garden by the gate at the Scotland mission home,What-e’er thou art, act well thy part. This saying had once motivated the prophet David O. McKay while he was serving as a young missionary in Scotland. He had seen it on a stone on a building at a discouraging time in his life and on his mission, and the words lifted him. Years later as the building was being torn down, he made arrangements to obtain the stone and had it placed in the garden at the mission home. Not only are you at least 1/8 Scottish heritage, but you are on your mission, bound to have discouraging moments, AND named after this great prophet, my dear son Tanner McKay. We have full confidence that you already are acting well your part, where ever you are.

Elder Schenewark, Bro. Sis. Bach and Shai here, we love you and are so excited for the good work you are doing. You set such a good example for both your siblings and Shai. She wants to serve also now after seeing so many good young people serve so faithfully. Work hard, save souls and we'll hear your Mission report when you share it. Love the Bach's.

Love you forever!

Mom and Dad