We had a haboob, a dust storm, hit two weeks ago, and another one last week. It's crazy. You can't see anything. The picture I'm sending, it's hard to tell how big it is, but the sand is blocking out the
mountains. They move through pretty quickly, but while they are going on, we are supposed to stay inside. The dust carries some type of spore, that if it goes in your lungs, you cough for the rest of your life. It's called valley fever. And it's impossible to bike in it anyways.
I got my visa today!!! I was informed just a few hours ago! I am going to miss Arizona, especially wonderful San Luis, but I can't wait for Brazil!! Thank you for the many prayers that have been offered on my behalf. I don't know the full itinerary yet, so here's what I do know: I leave San Luis tomorrow, to go to the mission home. I get to go to the Gilbert Arizona temple one day, and the rest I'll spend with some Spanish missionaries up there working. Next Monday, I leave for Brazil, but right before that, I will call home from the mission home. And that's about it right now! I just barely found out, and it's a little crazy. I feel bad for Elder Bradley. We were looking at a fantastic week, and now I have no idea what's going to happen. I think until transfers next Thursday he'll probably be with the other two missionaries here in San Luis.
Everything still feels unreal. I had expected at this point to be here for another six weeks, and because mine has been having problems and taking so long, I wondered if the VISA would ever come. But it has! I have to pack and clean everything today and then we are going to try and teach as many people as we can on my last night. We were making really good progress and close to baptisms, and I wish I could stick around and see the end, but it's okay. Here I come Victoria!!!
So this week, I participated in my first exchanges. I was with Elder Guymon who is one of the other San Luis elders. We stayed in my area, and had a great day, and it's always nice to change things up. See what can be done better, and to appreciate the good.
We've met some awesome people this week. The Lord has definitely prepared people here. We met another white guy, who lives in Gadsden Arizona close to San Luis, and he is actually from Utah. Amazing, crazy story. It took up pages in my journal. Which by the way, I've been writing lots in. From 9:30-10:30 pm is personal time / get ready for bed, but in this mission you are not allowed to write people, you can only do that on Monday. So I haven't really sent out anything, but my journal is reaping the benefits. But I will be sending a little box home with some stuff in it before I leave.
I have been so blessed to be here! I love San Luis. I can say with no hyperbole, My life has changed here. My testimony of the gospel has grown stronger, and I've loved sharing it here. I've learned so much from the people. They are so humble, and want to come closer to God. Even the people who reject us, the vast majority of them, say thank you to us for sharing the word of God. Today I read this verse:
But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.
I haven't seen God, but I know with all my heart that He is real. That Christ lives. And this gospel is true. And that's transfigured me as well. Not in the same way. But transfigured nonetheless. Because of my knowledge, my life is different. I am so thankful to have the chance to preach the gospel. In Arizona, in Brazil, in Calgary, wherever I am, the truth doesn't change.
Love, Elder Schenewark
And, a portion of his companion's letter that we found interesting:
"I'll miss him. Elder Schenewark is a hard worker and tons of fun. We'll be keeping in touch. Last Monday as well as today, the Yuma Zone went to the sand dunes in the bit of California that our Zone covers. It is so sweet! Someone told me that they filmed parts of Star Wars out there. But in any
case, we found a big bowl and went to the bottom and played dodge ball."
"Today, a border patrol guy on an ATV came up to us and we talked with him for the longest time. He is a pretty cool guy! He was telling us all about the stuff that he sees and hears about. My particular favorite is what they call "Bonzai Runs." He told us that a few years back people on the south side of the border would line up by the hundreds where the border guys couldn't see them, then all of a sudden one of them would shout for everyone to run. Hundreds of people flew over the fence and booked it. There were only 3 or so border patrol guys there so they could only grab a few of them and the rest would get away. Then he went on to tell us that the majority of the people they are getting now aren't Mexicans. They are Guatemalans or Hondurans or even Gypsies from Armenia. They go through all of Mexico to get to the border, hop it, then chase down the border patrol guys. There is different protocol for other foreigners as compared to Mexicans for some reason, so usually Hondurans and Guatemalans get off pretty easily when they get caught, so they hunt down the border patrol guys instead of the other way around. It was super interesting. Apparently the Yuma sector of the border patrol catches just about 100% of the people that come illegally."
"In other news though, we had the cool opportunity on Sunday to Skype in to see the Mission President's devotional! Vernon Smith, whose baptism was recently featured on LDS.org spoke in Yuma and it was Skyped into the live meeting which was held in Mesa. It was a super cool experience. Brother Smith is a tribal leader of a prominent Native American tribe down here and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon touched his heart profoundly. He asked himself how his
ancestors know about a God and His Son if they never had any writings about it in their language. When he received the Book of Mormon he received his answer, he said. It is so amazing to see how the work is going among the Native peoples down here. Fulfillment of prophecy."