Sunday, January 31, 2016

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

I gave Dad The Cokeville Miracle for Christmas, and we watched it over Christmas break for the first time, and again today. It's a true story that took place in 1986, in Cokeville, Wyoming, and one that I remember well being only a bit of a state away at the time. The former town marshal, fired after six months for misconduct, returned seven years later and took 136 children and 18 adults hostage at Cokeville Elementary School.

David Young entered the school with his wife, Doris, transporting a large gasoline-filled device that appeared to be a bomb. The couple corralled a large group of students and teachers into a single classroom. Young attached the bomb trigger to his wrist and threatened the group that he might, at any time, move his arm and ignite the bomb. After a two-and-a-half hour standoff, the children were becoming restless, so the teachers led them in prayer. The praying appeared to make David agitated and he decided to leave the room. Before leaving the room, David attached the bomb's detonation device to his wife's wrist.

When the children became increasingly loud, Doris began begging the teachers to settle the group down. At one point she lifted her arm sharply and the bomb went off prematurely, injuring Doris while David was out of the room. Returning to the scene, David shot his wife, then himself. All the hostages escaped, though 79 were later hospitalized with burns and injuries. 76 of the hostages suffered injuries, mostly flesh burns and other injuries from the exploding bomb.

Several children reported seeing angels in the classroom that day, including many children who claimed to have seen a "beautiful lady" or person all in white who told them to go near the window. Other children reported seeing an angel over each child's head. All of the children who saw angels were shown several photos to identify the beings. Every child responded to the photos of an ancestor saying, "That's her/him!"

Investigators discovered that only two of the bomb's five blasting caps went off, along with the gasoline leaking preventing a larger explosion. And if it had worked properly, the bomb would have blown off the side of the building and many more would have been injured or killed.

Isn't it wonderful to know, and as the movie thoroughly proclaims, that the power of prayer is miraculous. All the children prayed, and they were all delivered. Not all hostage situations are as miraculous, just as not every leper or blind man was healed when Christ was on the earth. But when He performs miracles, we should always recognize the hand of God. Miracles are real, as you pointed out last week, having ancestors on the other side of the veil eager to help us, and show their love, is also real.

Although more of a love poem by Henry Kemp, this stanza reminds me of our family that has gone before us, and paved the way in love:

The countless generations
Like autumn leaves go by:
Love only is eternal,
Love only does not die

I truly hope you had a wonderful week! The weather here has imitated Brazil: 70-80's every day, and continuing into this week. Balmy breezes, sunshine, and starry, starry nights. I love the weather here! Most likely the winter will continue to be mild because of the El Nino effect, but I'm sure I'll be complaining with the extra hot summer yet to come.

? I think I fixed the blog problem, but forgot to check with you. Did you get last week's letter? I forgot to copy it into an email format for you. Are you getting blog posts?

? And how in the heck did your golf glove accidentally get in your suitcase? However that happened, it was a tender mercy you got to play golf.  Paraphrasing Elder Bednar, a tender mercy is from a loving Savior, sending you a most personal and timely message. Whether the message is of comfort, reassurance, love, compassion...I'm happy you got to play golf.

Cooper had his first tennis meet this week. He played men's doubles, won the first match 8-3, and lost the second round in a tie breaker to the eventual first place winners. And he got to play during school! Breyer and I got all her purses and lunch boxes packed; her clothes, after changing three times, just right, and arrived when he walked off the courts. Better luck to us next time. Watching Cooper play tennis has been elusive.

Breyer, while driving in the car, asked me, "Mom, have you ever seen a "bo-nuski?"
"A what?"
"You know, the snow dog."
"You mean a husky?"

She cracks me up. I will forever think of those dogs as bonuskis.

Your father had me laughing at the latest news headline: Charges were being filed against those that put a scratch on King Tut's mask. After 3300 years and countless miles of travel all over the world, without such a mark, it happened. It was then discovered his beard had been knocked off and glued with super glue. Such are the items worthy of the news.

He also found an interesting article that listed the top 50 most violent cities in the world, and Brazil is listed 21 times! And, Vitoria is 31st! Are you surprised? I am. Uncle Zach's mission, Joao Pessoa, is 15th; Vitoria da Conquesta is 36th (3 hours away from you). Maryland,the first from the United States, pops in at 19th, Detroit 28th and New Orleans 32nd. Dad;s mission, Johannesburg, South Africa, finishes my list at 47th. Be careful!!

Stephen Welch announced he was entering the Mexico MTC on March 9th, to serve in his original mission in Mexico. If we can, we'll try to go to his farewell in Oklahoma City.

While driving, again, Breyer posed this question to Miller and myself. "Why do princesses need so much beauty sleep?" And Miller's answer? "If they don't get enough sleep they're grumpy and when they're grumpy their face looks mean." That'll do.

Your cousin appears to be very happy. We're all looking forward to the trip down to Houston in April. Grampy's going, and working on the paperwork to perform the ceremony. There might be a few who travel back to the Dallas area to visit with us for a while.

I will be checking on your glasses this week. I forgot to write it down, so I forgot. When Dad visits the bank for February's payment, he'll check into getting you a bank card.

Saturday was a very busy day. Sawyer and I put up the pinewood derby track at our church, went to his basketball game, and then back to the church to finish setting up. Almost 100? cub scouts, parents and guests filled the gym, with 27 entries. Fun day. Miller walked away with the win over the Bear den, and overall winner. That's a first for us. But compared to you and Tanner, he's benefited from all of Dad's expertise he's accumulated over those 50 or so cars collecting dust in the boys' bedroom. He did another Car car. He has two more years, and plans to finish out his collection. Cooper,Porter, Sawyer and Dad all helped run the derby...judging the finish line, watching over cars, figuring out brackets. The missionaries registered, weighed and judged. Such big help, notwithstanding the almost 100 visitors in the church building. We ended the evening with another basketball game for Sawyer.

Friday evening Dad took Cooper on a scout camp out, pretty close to town, and came back Saturday morning just in time to see the end of Sawyer's game and put the wheels on Miller's car.

Friday evening Porter, in his  2.5 minutes of play time, went in with a 37-17 loss, and helped them return to 39-29, without scoring a basket.

Friday evening Sawyer played basketball, had a great game rebounding, passing, being a leader on the floor.

In between all of the weekly evening activities, Dad and your brothers will hop in the car and drive to the pond for a little fishing time. It's nice to see your father finally have a hobby! And the weather was perfect for them to do this.

I think that's the update for the week. Know of our love for you, that we expect you to keep yourself safe, and know that we "fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." 2nd Kings 6:16.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

Letter #23

Dear Family and Friends,

The miracles have been continuing. Remember that blessing we gave last week, my first one in Portuguese? We found out that for the first time in forever the woman is now able to converse, and even walk. Miracle! Yesterday, we received a referral from some other missionaries, they had two youth show up in their ward, but they live in our area, so I´m excited to start teaching them this week. Miracle! We met a missionary who served in Joao Pessoa with Uncle Zach! and he pulled out lots of photos; Uncle Zach, sunglasses, and peace signs flashing. Miracle!

And, last p-day we had someone to visit in an area really far away, but it's also the neighborhood with the golf course. So we decided to leave early and check it out. I had known about it since day one, but hadn't had a great desire to see it until now. There´s only one other golf course in the entire state, so it was cool getting assigned to this area. We are close by but not really sure how to get there, and we asked one person. And it turns out after talking with him, this person is married to an inactive member, and was taught all the lessons, but on his baptismal day, after changing into the baptismal clothes, literally fled. He continued attending church, for a year, but was never baptized. So we've been able to teach them and some of their kids this week. And we were asked by the mother specifically to help the oldest son who is 23.

So when we met him, just trying to get to know him, I asked an inspired question, "Do you like to play soccer? Gustavo said, "No, but I like golf."` And he invited us to play with him the next p-day, (today!!!) So we went and played a wonderful nine holes, and it was honestly one of the coolest rounds of golf ever.

Gustavo has worked as a caddie for eight years. Now, the course has golf carts so he doesn't do much there, but he´s still on the list of caddies, so every Monday morning he can play for free....and bring one guest! So this morning (early, early) Elder Costa and I went with three Brazilian caddies and played. We all used the same golf bag, just some old clubs the course has, and played nine holes. Golf- fantastic. Scenery-fantastic.

Culinary tastings-can´t be beaten. It's more of a garden of Eden than an orchard. While walking, we intermittently stopped to eat fruits: -pitanga -manga (two types) -araca -pinha -laranjinha. The laranjinha is a little orange, about the size of a cherry, and you eat it all, even the peel, which tastes really sweet. And while we were watching some monkeys fight in the trees, as the golf course borders a nature preserve, our host holed out from 70 yards, for a birdie.

The Brazilians don´t know any English, but most golf terms are in English which is interesting. Can I have the "sanchie" (sand wedge)? They use yards in golf here too, not meters like the rest of the country. So perfect p-day.

In other news, we will officially be starting an English class this Wednesday. I´m honestly excited, but nervous, as it's going to be tough. But I do feel confident now in being able to handle a class of Portuguese speakers. Mostly, but it helps that Elder Costa will be able to help a lot.

And, we´re losing a lot of members in our ward. Our bishop's leaving this week to pursue a job opportunity in another state, one family is going to Italy. He said it's ironic that his great grandfather left Italy after World War 1, and now he´s returning. And there are a couple of families looking to move to the US in the next year. They´ll be missed here.

Because it's not as hot here, the mangoes have only started falling the last week and this week, and will continue for a while. So I´m back up to my quart of mango juice per day. Holy cow. I´m drinking enough for everyone back there too. At the store, they technically cost six cents per pound, but I think every person who doesn't live in an apartment has a tree, and members are constantly feeding us mangoes, and giving us some to take home. And jaca. too. We even ate homemade jaca ice cream this past week, which was surprisingly delicious.

We had a worldwide devotional for all the missionaries this past Wednesday which was fantastic. Elder Anderson, Bednar, and Oaks all spoke. I don´t know if it's open to the public yet, but if it is, I highly recommend watching it. And it was awesome, with over 400 missions in the world, only one was mentioned by name....Vitoria! Apparently Elder Scott visited here three times, and Elder Andersen accompanied one visit, that he spoke about. But, as a mission, we all gathered with our respective zones, so we were in the actual city of Vitoria as they talked about it.

President Monson, said to paraphrase, "I don´t know a sweeter experience than to hearken to the whisperings of the Spirit, and then learning that God has used us to answer someone else´s prayer."

So, have the Spirit, listen to the Spirit, and watch miracles happen!!


Elder Schenewark

P.S. My glasses are bad. The front gloss is rubbing off for some reason. I meant to take a picture but forgot. Right now, I'´m using my old glasses and am seeing fine. But if you could check on a warranty or something, I´d appreciate it!. If there is a warranty, I'd much rather get contacts here or something than more glasses if possible.

P.P.S. And, I´m definitely the only missionary here, American or Brasilian w/o a credit card! What was I thinking! I don´t need money right now, totally fine, but could we think of some way, in which I could eventually get a  little?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

In continuation with my opening theme last week, I share with you a thought from President Monson's talk, Be an Example and a Light. "Leaders of the Church met with officials in Jerusalem to work out a lease agreement for land on which the Church’s Jerusalem Center would be built. In order to obtain the permissions needed, the Church had to agree that no proselyting would be undertaken by our members who would occupy the center. After that agreement had been made, one of the Israeli officials, who was well acquainted with the Church and its members, remarked that he knew the Church would honor the no-proselyting agreement. “But,” he said,referring to the students who would attend there, “What are we going to do about the light that is in their eyes?"

We're proud of your example, and the light in your eyes, visible to us as parents long before you went on your mission. Although you probably got the twinkle in your eye from your grandfather.

The 21st of January was #squirrel appreciation day, but I'm sure you're more interested in news regarding your family!

Your cousins are all in the news seen fit to share with you this week. Stevie's basketball team in Gilford  remains unbeaten .

Hannah's Utah State University team is glad to have her healed and back to being the boss of the boards.

Evan is in Jordan, beginning his semester abroad, already having adventures.

Breyer has been throwing out funny comments faster than I can get them written down. Usually I'm in the car driving, and forget when I get home. One day, speaking of another four year old male acquaintance, said, "He thinks his jokes are funny but they're not. They don't make me laugh."

Last night, while falling asleep, with tears in her eyes, said, "I miss Hunter so much, my most beloved brother." Okay it was touching, but the beloved made me laugh! Where does she get this stuff!

We were assigned to clean the church this week, three "S" families. I had to go to cub scouts with Miller, Sawyer was dropped off at basketball practice, so Jarrod took Cooper and Porter over, with plans for us to show up later. When we met in the parking lot, and they were done, your sister howled in disappointment. She and Miller love to clean the church. Between her sobs, Miller told me, as I always assign them the chore of cleaning every light switch, that they pretend their spray kills the bad guys, and their cloths wipe them away. Who knew?

I've spent a little bit of time organizing my Relief Society board. I now have a visiting teacher coordinator, a compassionate service leader, and a few spots that made eye brows go up. My Relief Society humanitarian specialist in charge of monthly service projects, my Relief Society welfare specialist in charge of finance, employment, health needs, my board member we dubbed the "Welcome Wagon" lady of the ward with her new member, move-in packets in her arms each Sunday, my food specialist who hides food storage items under your chairs each Sunday to take home, and my emergency preparedness specialist who owns her own medical flight helicoptor service here in Granbury. My burden lightens every day.

The cub scouts used Sawyer and Cooper's leftover merit badge college fair sculpting clay for their activity on Thursday...squishy hands-on stuff is the best.

Porter's game on Tuesday was monumental in that he made one basket on a dish-off, one on a rebound, and brought down two rebounds, all under two minutes. The whole student section was on their feet cheering for him, the assistant coach, also who recruited him for football, was on his feet waving his arms, and the cheerleaders were going nuts. Such a nice thing to see for someone who hasn't been around very long.

Miller and Sawyer played on Saturday. They both lost, but it's still fun to watch. I kept the books for the first time, love it! No wonder one of my favorite presents from my mother was a pair of filing fifth grade!

Your grandparents and other New England friends and relatives this week endured #Blizzard2016. "Winter Storm Drops More Than 30 Inches of Snow in Several East Coast States. Locations in New York City, Virginia and Pennsylvania have recorded more than 30 inches of snow. At least 25 people have died as a result of the storm.

We've had a very mild winter here in Texas, just a few days of rain, most days in the high 50's and low 60's. Your siblings are begging for snow, like I can shake princess powder on french toast.

Have a wonderful week. Be careful, know of our love



P.S. Dad says not to read his letter. He'll mail you a copy. You better read it!

Dear Family,

I am at Weatherford College for the second part of a two part merit badge college. It is a very nice day. The sun is shining and the sky is blue, it is a little chilling (48 degrees) but there is no snow. As always it is nice to go outside at night and look at the stars for a little while. The front door of our house faces directly north and (85% of the nights) I can step out of the front door and there is the North star. Each night when I look up to see that the North star has not moved at all I think of the following words from President Hinckley: “When I was a boy, we lived on a farm in the summer. It was in the country, where the nights were dark. There were no streetlights or anything of the kind. My brother and I slept out-of-doors. On clear nights—and most of those nights were clear and the air was clean—we would lie on our backs and look at the myriads of stars in the heavens. We could identify some of the constellations and other stars as they were illustrated in our encyclopedia. Each night we would trace the Big Dipper, the handle and the cup, to find the North Star.

"We came to know of the constancy of that star. As the earth turned, the others appeared to move through the night. But the North Star held its position in line with the axis of the earth. And so it had come to be known as the Polar Star, or the Polestar, or the Lodestar. Through centuries of time, mariners had used it to guide them in their journeys. They had reckoned their bearings by its constancy, thereby avoiding traveling in circles or in the wrong direction, as they moved across the wide, unmarked seas.

"Because of those boyhood musings, the Polar Star came to mean something to me. I recognized it as a constant in the midst of change. It was something that could always be counted on, something that was dependable, an anchor in what otherwise appeared to be a moving and unstable firmament. Love is like the Polar Star. In a changing world, it is a constant. It is of the very essence of the gospel. It is the security of the home. It is the safeguard of community life. It is a beacon of hope in a world of distress.”

I would also give you this quote from Elder John Sonnenberg: “Inscribed on the granite walls of the temple here in Salt Lake City is the constellation of Ursa Major, or the Great Bear, commonly known to you as the Big Dipper. If you were to project a line through the bottom two stars opposite the handle, it would point to and bisect the North Star. The mariners and those who have been lost at sea or on land have looked to the North Star to find their bearings. I bear witness that there is, figuratively speaking, a “North Star” leading us today—a beloved prophet of God. Look to him. He will point you to the way of truth and righteousness. Look to the Savior, for he will give you life eternal.

I was thinking about the flags of your cousins’ various missions - Kaleb has the North Star on the Alaskan flag, there is a star on the California Flag (though it represents sovereign/independent Republic of California) and I see there are 27 stars on the Brazilian Flag. And of course there is a Lone Star on your home flag. In any case perhaps the above quotes will be of use to you.

Friday marked the end of the second week of school at Tarleton. I had one student walk up and ask if I had ever lived in Hutto, because my named sounded familiar. Apparently he remembers Tanner from school. His name is Hudson Evans. He graduated in 2010, so is a year older than Tanner but also played on the baseball team. Do you remember him? He is in my Psychology of Exercise and Sport Class and seems to be an enthusiastic student. He is a History major and wants to get a minor in Kinesiology, so that he may teach and coach. I told him Tanner was at BYU and had gotten married this past October. He thought that was wonderful and incredible (he was just happy to at least have a girlfriend.)

Hudson also mentioned others from Hutto, including Austin Drolette, who Tanner had played baseball with and who is now playing baseball at Tarleton. Here is his picture from the athletics website. I will always have happy thoughts of Hutto and still think they have the best mascot and the incorporation of the mascot into any town life.

Speaking about students, I have one who is a return missionary. During the first day of introductions, I mentioned that I have a son who is in Brazil for a period of two years. I usually mention that I lived in Utah for a while so those who know anything about the church may guess that I am LDS and have asked. This student, I had figured out the same as he stated he was from near Snowflake, Arizona and had served a mission for his church for two years. He came to Tarleton because of the rodeo program. He wanted to go to Utah State, but they do not have a rodeo team. He is a bronc buster and is married, with a child on the way.

Tarleton has one of the top rodeo programs is the country. It is very interesting that students are able to earn money competing in rodeo. The university had a student, a couple of years ago, earn a million dollars in prize money for the year. It is an interesting concept, since all NCAA athletes are barred from earning any sort of money based on their athletic ability (and I am not including the concept of the school paying the athletes). I have thought about looking more into the college rodeo model of student athletes.

Here is the last thought from school. There are always student excuses. I try to build a relationship of trust and try to give students the benefit of the doubt, until they have shown me otherwise. I have saved the top student excuse from last year and publish it for your amusement. This is the exact message from the student:

“I apologize in advance for such a long e-mail, but I felt as though it would be appropriate to tell you what is going on. ​In the past 24 hours I think I have e-mailed all of you, minus one professor who I have already spoken with via telephone in regards to my situation this week. On Monday I had a horse who was 35 years old having seizures that started at about 6 and went on until about 8:30 and the vet finally showed up around 9. Long story short-- I had to make the decision to put my friend/employer's horse, to sleep and with that meant I had to tend to her burial this morning before the animals got to her and before the bloat got bad (basically before she popped) so I had to miss class this morning.

Right as they were finishing up, I got a call from the daycare saying my 1 year old was throwing up and having diarrhea and that if it happened again I'd need to come and get her because she couldn't keep anything down. (I missed work Friday because she was sick, but mainly had a temperature and wouldn't barely eat/drink.) I end up getting her and find out that she is NOT allowed to go back to daycare until the vomiting and diarrhea has been stopped for at least 24-48 hours--due to the stomach bug being very contagious and 2 babies being out all last week with it…”

How would you handle the situation? I was had at the part of being in charge of your employers/friend’s horse, which died on your watch and is sitting in a field where it may expand like a balloon and explode. But then they had to throw in the dreaded diarrhea. I never did ask for a note from the septic company that dug a hole to bury the horse.

The singer Glen Frey of the Eagles passed away. I liked the Eagles. Coming back from Tanner and Anne Marie’s wedding we stopped in Winslow, Arizona. Sawyer and I took the opportunity to get our picture of “Standing on the Corner.” I noticed from the news that Glen Frey’s widow’s name was Cindy Millican. I thought to myself “NOOOOOO!” Yet sure enough his wife is a girl who I went with to high school. She is your mother’s age (and almost 18 years his junior.) They started dating only five years after graduation. I saw that his estimated monetary worth was over 70 million.

Thinking on the upcoming Iowa Caucus, and knowing some have asked who I favor, I’ll ask now, how well do know me? In the words of Uncle Aaron, “For whom would Uncle Jarrod cast a vote?” Send in responses, from the following group:

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christy, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton

My vote is in that list. I have also signed up to volunteer to help. Texas will have a primary on March 1st.

This past week, I was able to watch Porter play basketball. He does not get much playing time, however he is glad he went out for the team (and so am I.) As mentioned before, when he goes into the game the school cheers (especially the cheer leaders.) This past week he scored his first points and the bench exploded in excitement. He is the leading rebounder (when factored in minutes played.) This week he played 1:34 – scored four points (2 on a fast break, 2 on a rebound and putting the ball back up) and had 3 rebounds. I wish I had a camera as the area I was watching him was about ten feet above the basket and gave a great view of him rebounding (his baskets were at the other end of the court.) I also heard his name on the radio (all the games are broadcast and streamed on the internet). Here is the radio call “Granbury in-bounds the ball and Porter gives the ball to the official. That will do it for tonight’s game.” I am proud of Porter.

As said by Theodore Roosevelt “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” I am grateful for Porter to be in the arena. I am grateful for all of my sons.
I am grateful for Tanner and his sweet wife, Anne Marie. It was such a joy to have them here and I look forward to other days. I am grateful for Hunter on a mission, even though you are missed. I am grateful for the blessings of my family, which would not have been if not for the fullness of the gospel.

You are involved in a very important work and I worry about taking your mind away from your work. I hope my letter does not do so.

I finish with Breyer. We have come into possession of a lot of plastic fish bait. We have enough to last for a century. The plastic worms, salamanders, crayfish, and frogs keep her delighted. She has them in the bathtub. She took a purse full to church. She sustained a member in a calling while raising a plastic wigglier in her hand, for all to see (we usually sit in the third row.) I am not sure the sister in the row ahead of us enjoyed Breyer, dragging a frog across the top off the pew, with its rubbery legs kicking in a lifelike manner. She enjoys being the hook girl, ready to change a lure on a moment’s notice.



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Finding Family in Fort Collins

"The highlight this week was definitely the surprise visit from Tanner and AnneMarie...This was our first chance to meet AnneMarie, and we can confirm what Tanner et al. already knew: she’s wonderful. 

"Their visit was book-ended by harrowing trips through the wasteland that is Wyoming. Apparently it was snowing during both journeys; on the first, they skidded off the highway and into a snow drift, and on the second, they blew out a tire. Much sacrifice for a visit to Fort Collins, and we’re grateful. They spent Friday in Denver, first at the temple doing some sealing work and then on a Brown-Sign swing through the state capitol and other local landmarks

"Saturday and Sunday night we geeked out on games, introducing AnneMarie to Quiddler, Skull, and Hannabi. The Schenewarks played board games and wrestled with our children, and we’re so grateful for the time they invested; I know that our children will remember their visit for years and years to come. Tanner joined me Friday morning and Monday morning for basketball, and that was a blast, but my favorite part of the visit came on Sunday, when Alana taught Gospel Doctrine asked us to sing, To put my arm around Tanner and sing a duet in harmony with him was a sweet experience and a tender moment of closeness. I’m grateful to Alana for her inspired invitation and the memory I’ll take with me. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016