Sunday, December 31, 2017

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

Because the Sheriff of my agency has chosen to resign and run for the Democratic governor position, a new sheriff has to be sworn in. And technically, all sworn personnel have to be sworn in at the same time. Pulling units off the road, calling in units on holiday or days off, is not only inconvenient, but presents a weakness in covering jurisdiction. Adjoining agencies can be contacted for assistance, and pulling them out of their jurisdiction will also weaken their agency’s ability to respond in a timely or judicious manner. There are moments in our lives that will leave us in a weakened ability to protect ourselves from Satan’s nefarious designs to find the weak link in our defenses. How much more important our preparation becomes knowing we are and will be under siege. You have the privilege and opportunity to prepare each day, but you’re on the front lines. Your work, vital to the salvation of others’ is key to Heavenly Father’s plan, and stopping you becomes the greatest desire of our enemies.  Obedience then becomes the protectant that allows Heavenly Father to assist you when you’re in a more vulnerable or weakened state.

Speaking of protectant, we were furniture shopping before the holidays and came across a really white or light colored sofa I preferred. When we expressed concern over sticky fingers and spills, the sales lady told us for $40 more she would spray our furniture with a commercial grade protectant. I still don’t have the sofa, but we do have two new chairs, same color, and I will be spraying with my own spray I found on line.

And speaking of work? Favorite suspect description this week goes to a robber that fled the scene, described as wearing underwear on his face with black goggles. Underwear? Really? Try broadcasting that without twitching.

We missed your letter last week. Whether or not it was because you had just spoken to us, did not have internet access, or were not able to write, know we missed your communique. Because I was working 12 hour shifts on the 24th, 25th and 26th, I tried to leave little presents your younger siblings could open. On Sunday, church services included only sacrament meeting, so I left a bag of activities in which everyone could participate together or by themselves. Monday morning I left a basket of blankets, movies and games, as well as the kit to install the new basketball backboard. I don’t even know who did it, but when I came home the board was up, and well used. Christmas began at 7:30 that night, and I crawled into bed after 10:30 very tired. Tuesday was the day the presents were enjoyed like Christmas morning, as well as me coming home to find my tree already undecorated and outside.

Wednesday we loaded everyone up in two vehicles and drove to Grapevine, the upper, east side of Tarrant County. Grapevine hosts a vintage railroad, a visitor’s center with a miniature model train display, a clock tower that has two train robbers in a fight, a glass blowing shop, a blacksmith shop…lots of fun things to do. The weather has winterized and I think the day’s high was 34. It was so cold! We’ll have to go back when we can stand to be outside. Baby Nora was wrapped up tight. There’s an art walk with 25 statues, lots of museums, and fun eating places we’ll have to visit when the weather is warmer.  We were in the area to ride the train, for a merit badge requirement. Miller’s first. But the weather cracked the rail, and our tickets were refunded. We found a Fuddruckers to eat at, reminiscing a lot about historical Fuddrucker visits, and then checked into a hotel. We stayed there on points, which allowed us to take Tanner and his gang to the airport early the next morning quite comfortably.

Allow me to expound on Nora for a moment. Delicious. Addictive. Easy going. Delightful. I would wake up early for work and get to burp her. I still wake up early when I’m not at work, and could help as well. I miss all three. Lucky for me I still have Hunter at home.

In the morning we visited the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in Arlington.  One of those stops because you can’t find anything else you want to do and you want to do something besides go home. It turned out much better than all of our expectations. The highlight was the candlepin two lane bowling alley at the end, and of course lunch – this time at Torchy Tacos. The name lives up to its reputation. We were all feeling a bit burnt until dessert – their fried cookie dough balls. Yum!

And thus ended another portion of the continuous holiday vacation, per se. The Bachs left Friday morning. The rest of the gang headed up to Tyler, as Hunter hadn’t seen Evan in over two years. I stayed behind to do our wash – at the Laundromat – our dryer is broken – and shop for food. I had overtime in the morning, and couldn’t travel.

The Dallas weather changed for the extreme today, going from 35 last night to 19 today, with precipitation causing the roads to ice over. Work was crazy, the freeways were like ice skating rinks, and I am thankful to be home.

I hope you loved your box. We love you. Know of our love for you.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

To think about being perhaps the first mother to talk to their son serving a mission, in the entire world, was pretty cool. I reflected on this a moment later during the day after our phone call. I so appreciate your Mission President’s wife helping us to arrange this. Be sure to thank her for me. Be sure to thank the host of the home you were in. Opening their home for you, and us, is so appreciated.

It was delightful to speak with you, to see your face, and here the joy in your voice. I don’t need to do a whole lot of talking, but listening and watching help me until the next phone call. You’ve been gone almost six months. That’s a fourth of your mission that’s over. Thinking in terms of quarters makes it seem not so long.

It is appropriate that the General Conference talk I was reading today, “A Yearning for Home, by President Uchtdorf, touched on returning home. You returned home to us for a short while yesterday through your phone call. The arctic tern flies from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica and back every year, some 60,000 miles. Do we as human beings have a similar yearning – an inner guidance system that draws them to our heavenly home? I say yes. Your message is that our Heavenly Father cares about us, and that there is a way to return to him. And when you r heart leans towards the light you will know you’re on the right path home. President Uchtdorf said, “Those who love and serve God and fellowmen and humbly and actively participate in His work will see wonderous things happen in their lives and in the lives of those they serve.” That’s the greatest blessing that comes from being on a mission.

Speaking of a great blessing, your grandmother - she had a little hospital visit last week. She felt a pressure or a squeezing in her chest and arm, and thought she was having a heart attack. They released her later that evening, thinking it was a case of heartburn, but later changed her diagnosis to angina. It can feel like a heart attack, but often it's a warning sign. The chest pain happens because there isn't enough blood flowing to part of your heart.

Sawyer had his last game before the holiday break Monday evening. He was in more foul trouble, and spent a good portion of the game on the bench. But when he went in he dominated. He was the only one to make all his foul shots – he had four. He had at least two under the baskets, and finished with four fouls.

The Bachs arrived late Wednesday evening. So glad they made it. Up until an hour before they were due to fly out, they weren’t coming because of illness. Your father prayed them here. We spent a good portion of Thursday getting ready for Cooper’s Eagle Scout project on Saturday. Tuesday evening Cooper and I unloaded the large metal frame of the double bench in the garage off the trailer used to transport it from the garage of the youth leader who allowed Cooper to weld there. Your siblings had only a half day of school. We spent the morning in a frantic rush putting presents in the Christmas bags, while Dad ran my errands for me. Cooper arranged for a tour for the Bachs of the plane he’s building at the high school before he came home, and then spent the rest of the day sanding the welding joints, making phone calls for warm bodies to show up on Saturday, and arrange for transportation of the frame to the park. Miller and Sawyer went golfing. It was the nicest day of the week at a balmy 72 degrees.

Friday involved lots of errands and entertaining children. I finished the crib, the library bed for Tanner and AnneMarie, and Hunter’s bed. I also had one bathroom left to clean. We fed the missionaries and a single sister for dinner, and spent the majority of the day preparing food like it was Thanksgiving. I wanted a few leftovers for the crowd we picked up later in the evening. It was a very late night by the time they pulled in at almost 11 p.m. starving. I had made cherry pies, and when Gammons showed up with a whole Cooper brisket, I was happy to pass one along.

Nora is adorable. She’s so much smaller than my children, she’s like a little doll. And she has the sweetest, calmest personality. She expends much of her energy adjusting to internal bodily functions, but does so without a peep. I can’t get over how attentive your younger brothers are to her. I expected Miss Breyer to be all over her, but your brothers are all competing for her attention. It’s very sweet. Unfortunately they’re mostly in masks while they do so. Breyer and Miller have some sort of cold virus, with a low grade fever.

Friday blew in at 40 degrees, so we’ve been thoroughly enjoying the fireplace. Sawyer’s  spent a lot of time chopping wood with a little hand axe, and keeps our kindling in good supply. There’s been an ample amount of paper snowflakes cut out, and our windows make the backyard look like a winter wonderland.

Saturday began bright and early with a batch of cinnamon rolls for those who showed up to help Cooper. He had a great group. Only so many people can dig out the hole, and only so many can level the bench. But there was lots of support. The double sided bench was cemented and cribbed with wood until it sets.  A tap was used to make screw marks where the holes for the bench boards were needed. They got all the boards on, but have three more holes to fill. The tap broke once, and the battery to the drills died. Cooper spent all night Friday spray painting the metal, so the project is almost done. What a relief! Bro. Bach and Cooper knew exactly what to do, together. How blessed we’ve been to have this dear man in our lives. This project was a little out of my comfort zone, even with the city liaison so willing to help with cement, water, a worker, shovels and wheelbarrows.

Hunter and Tanner were asked if they could assist with the organ Sunday, as all the organists are out of town. Hunter won by default, as he’s had a whole semester of organ class. He even packed his shoes. We’ve enjoyed listening to him practice, as well as Cooper, who still faithfully practices for his weekly Priesthood performance.

That's about the week in a few words. Your Aunt Becky received an award from the State of New Hampshire's child services division, The Exemplary Leadership and Service award. They're so deserving. One nominee said how she sees and feels so much love she leaves crying.

Anyway. Know of our love for you. Could you feel it through the screen? I'm so proud of you. I hope your Christmas box brings you great joy.



Tuesday, December 19, 2017

College Correspondent

The Finals Countdown

I apologize for not writing last week. I'll include a brief synopsis of that as well. Interestingly, I wrote last about finding grace. Well, I found her, and we went out on Tuesday. Also interesting, I went to Salt Lake Saturday the 9th, (more on that later), and who should I meet? Recently returned from her mission, Lynsie. Flashback to freshman year. That was highly unexpected.

So, last Saturday I took the train up to Salt Lake City to go to the Family History Library. Getting there at 10:30, I watched the new 1st vision video in the church history museum, toured the Joseph Smith Building, and then made my way to the Family History Library. I went mainly to see some books on the Schenewark line that are not available online. After a couple hours, I visited the Lion House Pantry for lunch, and then returned, intent on achieving a breakthrough. I was able to eventually find some new ancestors, and continued adding some sources. Unfortunately, the hometown of the Schenewark line continues to elude me. Still lots of work to do. I also had planned my visit to coordinate with a ward temple trip, so at 5:30 I met the group and we went inside the Salt Lake Temple. It was a marvelous experience, and one I shall not forget, as I was able to complete work for some of the recently found family members. Then, as I was leaving, we ran into Lynsie.

After talking for a couple minutes we went our ways. As I debated about the next move, the next day I received a message from her asking to meet up. So we marked it for Friday the 16th.

In the meantime, on Sunday I was sustained to my new calling as ward Sunday School President. I'd be interested to see how Uncle Aaron will shake things up on his side. Our organization has been struggling and we are open to new ideas. Hit me up Funcle A. Our last two teachers both married and thus moved this last week, so we're starting from nada (which I prefer).

Monday was our ward Christmas Party. We had catered BBQ (YES!) and an innovative white elephant gift exchange. In this version, we all put our presents in the middle, at the marked time, chose one, and returned to our seats, arranged in a circle. Then, as the narrator read a story, each time he said the word left, we would pass our present to the person on the left. With the word right, we passed to the right. And at across, we would exchange presents with someone across the room. At the end of the story, the present we were holding was the one we took home.

Tuesday, as aforementioned, I took Grace to the BYU Wind Symphony. She is from Pittsburgh, and recently returned from a mission in Poland. Majoring in German, her family joined the church when she was 7. Her mother was a pastor, and apparently worked those poor missionaries over, and then decided to join the church herself. We enjoyed the show, although they continue to play Russian composers over Germans with incredible prejudice.

Wednesday saw me finish all my school assignments for the semester, which was a seminal moment. Thursday I had my dance final. This saw me crush the Quickstep, and utterly fail on the waltz. My partner wasn't there, and I danced with someone totally new. It was funny though as I struggled through the waltz, the teacher filming, repeatedly made comments about my elbow being too low. He apparently focused on that to such an extent that it was not until the very end that he said my footwork looked a little off. Hey, I'll take it. I received a much higher grade than I thought I would, but no complaints.

I also interviewed to write for the BYU Political Review. Its a monthly journal that surveys the political landscape. I'll find out Monday or Tuesday whether I made the cut. I joined a new club, called the Fidelio Society. It meets bi-weekly to talk about and debate matters dealing with faith and society as a whole.

Friday was my last day in work. They tried keeping me with an accounting internship, which I politely declined. Then, with plans to open up an office in Boston starting March 1st, I was told that my plans to take this semester off would be respected, but if I wanted, I had a gig there for the summer. Very kind of them.

 Leaving the office for the last time. I may or may not have a bag of chicken nuggets behind my back

Friday happened to be our company Christmas party with Santa. And Chick-fil-A. I actually had set up a lunch meeting with Russ, an entrepreneur out of Bountiful+Layton, so I went to that instead. But, the amount of leftovers was staggering and so I've been eating them all weekend. I'm glad they are finally gone. With Russ, we discussed my latest current venture. I received some good feedback, a couple suggestions, and have plans to move forward with this.

That night, Tanmarie kindly lent me their Chevy Prizm. I went to a BYU hockey game with Lynsie. We enjoyed watching BYU put a beatdown on UVU and basically just talked for two hours. It was a lot of fun. And I'd say it merits another one.

Saturday, I took my first two finals in the morning, both of which went very well, then met Sarah W. up at Cafe Zupas. Having already eaten an insane amount of Chick-fil-A, I opted to just talk and not eat. Its always nice to catch up with her and hear her latest plans.

Today, was a day of genuine rest. I taught Sunday School and then headed off with Tanner to hear Meghan's farewell. She did a great job, and is ready for Nicaragua. With Tanner's assistance, I made a Brazilian dish called Galinhada.

Porter, have you eaten this already? It turned out fairly good, and we finished that off with ice cream. To be authentic, I ate my galinhada on a plate, no bowl, used a knife and fork, and did not use pepper, only salt. After, I spent the next couple hours on their coach, wrapped up in a warm blanket, talking, and incandescently happy.

President Hinckley said at a BYU Devotional in 1998, "Tremendous is your opportunity to reach beyond the hoped for goal of wealth and worldly success...."

I've pondered that, and would love to hear any opinions. What goals do you have beyond wealth and worldly success? How do you measure success? I've thought about various careers and ask myself, would I be happy doing this? Would I feel successful? For now, the jury is still out as to lifelong plans.

And, in a somewhat similar vein, but from a different source, I bring to you a few lines from the book of Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita.

"The man who sees inaction in action

and action in inaction

has understanding among men,

disciplined in all action he performs."

I like this  as we can see everyday people who act, but to no purpose. They work, and achieve nothing. And, we must realize that perhaps there are times when to succeed, we should not act.

This Thursday, I'll be driving down to Las Vegas with Tanmarie and Nora, and then its just a short flight before I'm home!

Just one more thought, at the meeting of the Fidelio Society on Thursday night, we discussed the historical aspect of Christmas along with its pagan roots. Don't worry, in the end we all agreed that Christmas is fantastic regardless of its earlier counterparts. One person shared something that intrigued me. He mentioned how Germans have traditionally place lit candles on their trees. We had talked about many of the symbols of Christmas, (evergreen tree, star, candy canes, etc.) but he said that these Christmas trees could be viewed as a burning bush. Knowing the story of Moses, we can think of the Christmas Tree as symbolizing the presence of Christ in our lives. Of course, we should not just place him figuratively in our houses once a year. We should always remember our Savior and His sacrifice, and have the Holy Ghost to be with us.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Letter #19

Yeah, walked by a house just in time to see this dude throw a dead cat in the garbage basket. Another one, oh yessss

Last P-day, we soccered, Brazilians versus Americans. They´ll try to regain that crown today, cause it´s ours right now, yuh. 8 goals

Turns out I´m probably allergic to coconut, but still just a theory. We´ll time I eat coconut, we ain´t stopping.

Aunt Janel, Uncle Brad, the letter with toilet paper, highlight of my week. never has a wipee felt soo smooth.

Elder Orteney and I set a mission record for most shoe soles destroyed during proselyting.
6. He went through 4, I went through 2. Three of them, literally within 3 minutes of each other.
his, oh I´ll just glue it....his other one, maybe I shouldn´t have worn these...mine, nope, we´re just being impeded by that great enemy, we press on.

Sunday, Oh my. OOOHHHH MMMYYY. Christmas Devotional...STAKE Christmas Devotional...
MULTI-stake Christmas Devotional...Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. lemme tell you.
And who was there to save the day...uhuh.

First, Wednesday night, phone call. "Elder Schenewark, Sister Brenda is in the hospital, do you think you guys could give her a blessing...." "Of course, Sister Estigarribia, we´d love to......" "and also take here solo ifor the choir number? Thanks bye." Then, turns out our piano player doesn´t actually know how to play the piano? He just memorizes songs. But he forget to memorize one. ACAPELLA. Then, my solo during the choir number. Then our missionary quartet which was actually way good (I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, *dab on'em*). Then, the choir director, got up walked out, texted her husband sitting by me. -Hey, I´m in the bathroom vomiting, have Elder Schenewark direct and also take my part in the duet. Yep. So, I choir directorized. And then...Sang the women´s part to "Angels We Have Heard on High" and yeha and then our youth speaker got stage fright. "Elder Schenewark, will you give a short discourse on what Christmas means to you, since you´ve already done everything else and you´re pretty much the most clutch Elder we´ve ever had and everybody here is just dying to see if there´s a testimony behind those blue eyes???" "Absolutely Stake President Silva, I´ll be clutch some more." Maybe it didn´t go quite like that, but you get the gist]

So yeah
Clutch level, Julian Edelman "No, i caught it, i caught it"
Eat it Atlanta, #NewEngland #GOAT #WhatUpItatibaStake

just another quick yuh

And, to wrap it all up, saw a really funny sign

Funny, yes, I laughed for a while

But,, really, it´s not as funny as it seemed. Replacing one problem with another, only builds problems.
It´s like *insert Parker Gibby metaphor here* But, you get it. If you have something you want to change, don´t settle by replacing it with something 'not as bad'. Solve the problem, there is always an answer. Life is two short to let problems accumulate. This new year, solve the problems. Use the tools you have.

I love the mindset our investigator Luan has. "If I´m still breathing, I better be improving, otherwise, I´m really just dying". It´s really confusing and I don´t know if I really get it, but I know what he means. And i have a testimony that it works, because I´ve been able to see his progress as well as gain a better insight to mine. Keep bettering yourself. I love you guys, that you for your prayers and support. Until two weeks,

Elder Fisher of Soles

Sunday, December 17, 2017

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

We love you! So looking forward to speaking with you sometime next week. I don't work Wednesday. Would that evening be easier? It's not on Christmas, but I don't care. I just want to see you. I hope your package has arrived in time for your Christmas party. Fort Worth Mission elders had their party already. They watched a movie. Not. It was on how to get a long with Sister missionaries. I hope your party is a bit more festive.

We're getting excited for our Christmas visitors. The beds are being changed, the rooms picked up. We've been practicing our fire making skills and wood chopping abilities, as well as our candle lighting talents. 

Your cat story made me laugh. Any body, cat or otherwise, who dies, loses control of their bodily functions. It's a fact of life. So sorry you were exposed to this and the accident. Grim.

Oxford Dictionaries has crowned "youthquake" as its word of 2017 in a nod to the unexpected level of youth engagement in this summer's election in the United Kingdom. An amalgamation of "youth" and "earthquake", the noun is defined as "a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people." The word was coined in the 1960s by then-Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, to describe upheavals in fashion and music caused by Britain's youth culture. But an almost five-fold resurgence in usage of the word was seen between 2016 and 2017 in a different context. I'd say youthquake is an apt word to describe the effects of President Monson's missionary age changes. Sometimes when I have all seven children home youthquake is an appropriate word to describe the chaos in our house. But getting youth engaged is a great way to do missionary work, as evidenced by your successful ultimate frisbee and basketball activities in Ohio.

President Uchtdorf's talk titled Three Sisters had a wonderful quote. "You have the spiritual DNA of God. You have unique gifts that originated in your spiritual creation and that were developed during the vast span of your premortal life." I truly believe that a mission enables one to more fully develop these gifts. What better time than when you're consecrating all you have to your Father in Heaven. Record your thoughts in your journal,and use your gifts to create some youthquake engagements.

He also said "We must always stand for what is right, and there are times when we must raise our voices for that cause." Be strong and true. Walk tall and proud. You're a beloved son."

One more quote. "We are responsible for our own discipleship, and it has little - if anything - to do with the way others treat us." Sometimes life isn't as rosy as we'd like but it is ultimately up to us what we do about it.

We went to Sawyer's basketball game Thursday night in Weatherford. They handily won, but Sawyer left feeling disgruntled after a few public clashes with the coach. He's a major leader and contributor to his team, but we can always improve. Such incidents are how we learn life's little lessons. 

I appreciate the fact that your father and I are both peace makers. I don't think our children realize how much this differs from the world. Anger is very prevalent in today's society, and our peaceful natures, coupled with the gospel, makes how we interact so different.

Miller had two games on Saturday. I elected to let the neighbor transport him to his prime team away game. It was a good call in terms of how much I got done while I would have been gone. But he had a great game, losing by a basket. He said he had ten of the 24 points, and made both his free throw shots.

I went out on a ride along with the warrant execution squad. What an adventure. They begin at 5 a.m., so I got up even earlier than my usual 3:55 a.m. I usually begin at 6 a.m. By 5:20 a.m. we were rousting out a man wanted on a misdemeanor theft. Scooped him up from his mattress and headed to the jail. When we cleared, we accompanied the Marshal's Office task force on a felony warrant.  They do a lot of surveillance work, and call the warrant execution squad when they're ready to see if their intel was correct. This time we were out of luck. No one was home. We assisted a squad who was attempting pick up on a felony warrant at a residence, and he squeezed out the back door. They checked under the cars, inside the cars, inside sheds, but no luck. He probably sneaked into another house in the neighborhood. The motto of the sergeant is, "Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says "Oh no, He's awake" -  Mikhail Ryabko,   Spetsnaz Instructor. I thought that was great. Satan definitely shudders when you roll out of bed each morning in Brazil. That we may all be so fearful.

Let us know about your phone call. We're all so excited. Stay safe.



Saturday, December 16, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Words for the Wingmen

Dear Porter,

AnneMarie and I were both overjoyed to receive your letter in the mail. This may be long (we'll see) so, perhaps, print it off and read it later today.

First, excellent penmanship sir! I haven't witnessed everyone's handwriting in the family, and this isn't to say mine's bad, but I believe you may lay claim to the best handwriting in the family. Bravo. Nothing worse than getting a letter from a missionary in which you spend time deciphering what language it's in.

Second, as you well know, you are an Uncle to a beautiful niece. So, congratulations! and thank you to me for not making you wait 5-7 years for the honor :) She's a wonderful baby, sleeps, eats like crazy, and has more hair than her dad (me!). Of course we'll send you lots of pictures because by the time you get back she'll be walking, talking, and, who know, rock climbing or something.

Ok, you had some questions for me: Asking about my language timeline was a great question. It's something I thought a lot about during my mission as I tried to help younger missionaries succeed. I'd break it down like this for me but remember that everyone's may be different depending on different factors like your effort studying, whether you have a native companion or not, and mission guidelines about speaking your language.

I didn't feel truly fluent probably until a year, or thereabouts. I felt pretty good at six months, but there were still moments where the investigator would look over at me and I'd realize they didn't understand a thing I'd said. My first companion was American, but, comparatively, I spoke a lot of Portuguese with him. Then I had a string of three transfers without an English speaking companion. That helped me a lot and forced me to learn how to express feelings and paint pictures in the language. Then I had an American companion, then two Brazilian companions in a row that cemented my fluency.

You can't request companions, but you can force yourself to "Forget your[language] and go to work." That's the single most important thing. The other thing was that the elders who focused on learning Brazilian slang may have picked up some cool linguistic quirks but their ability to teach and preach suffered. Your language will be blessed as you focus on cultivating the language of a missionary and I found that studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel in Portuguese--exclusively--helped me to do that.

I'd love to hear more about your day to day work and the people you're working with--members and investigators--in your letters. We don't need anything back from Brazil but if you wanted to grab us a post card on your way out in a year and a half then that'd be great.

Know we love you & pray for you daily. Can't wait to receive your next letter in the mail : )


Tanner (& Nora)

T.S. - these are my initials ;)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Letter #18

First, Happy Birthday Miller, go buy yourself something with your money and imagine me having the ability (or money) to buy it for you. Big 11

An adventurous, tiring week to say the least, but here we are. Food first, this one was a whole new Brazilian experience.

Tuesday- Chitlins (I won´t explain what those are for the younger peoples)
"Elder, have you ever had chitlins before?" "You know what, I have actually, lemme tell you a story...."

Thursday- Goat tongue
"Elder, have you ever had tongue before?" "I have, but never goat tongue. (Elder Orteney) "Aiii sim, who´s tongue was it?" "It was a cow´s tongue, Elder. EO- "Mhhmmm"

Saw a motorcyle accident, not pretty, no one died but lots of blood, and two very broken legs. At least he was wearing a helmet.

Helped a family move. They weren´t packed at all when we got there. Whatevs, lets throw everything in a box, stick in in the truck. Good work. Oh wait, your new neighborhood has a gate that is too short for the truck, and your house is 5/4ths of a mile inside the gate. Let´s unload the truck and carry everything to the house. Oh no, how are we gonna get the couch and sofa there, they´re so heavy?
Hey, look at Elder Schenewark, he looks like he´d be able to get them there. I mean I can try if you want, why don´t we just ask one of the members with a truck with a bed? No, you can do it. Okay, Elder Orteney, let´s go. The whole neighborhood was watching and clapping as we shuffled our way down the sidewalk. And they all offered us water on our way back. Except the family we moved.
What up service?

Also, on the way to the new house, we rode with the owner, in his car. Cat, screeching the whole way in the back, in it´s carrier. Wow, what´s that smell? I look at Elder Orteney, he´s looking right back at me. I´m thinking, gracious Elder, you been eating the same things as me??  Windows down. Why isn't the cat screeching anymore. Open up the trunk. He was dead. And dying made his intestines just free themselves of every liquid and solid he had every consumed. Maybe, that´s what killed him actually. It seems like I experience a lot of cats dying. BUT, lemme take a moment to once again reaffirm my stand. THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN A CAT FOR A PET, IS A CHIHUAHUA. NEITHER OF THEM DO ANYTHING USEFUL OR DESIREABLE, BUT AT LEAST THE CAT DOESN´T BARK ALL THE TIME.

The theme of this week is LESSONS. I taught some and learned some. First, I´ve been trying to learn how to lose graciously. Which means, sometimes I let people win in stuff they wouldn´t win in. Practice. Then, sometimes, they like to get not so gracious about it. Mhmm

Played chess against my companion. I could jump a couple pieces in my day (@Xelot get wrecked). My companion asked me if I played, yeah, I used to. Play against this dude. Play, I win. Now play against me without your queen and a castle. Play, obviously I lose, but, will say, it was close. Not so tough without your queen huh? I bet I could take you with all your pieces. Play again, with my queen.
Five moves. Didn´t even have to say anything, just stand up and let the next person play

Played pool with a brother in our ward, last P-day. If I can handle myself with a chess piece, you better believe I know how to brandish a cue. We played, he started talking trash, "Welcome to Brazil, this is how we play, bet you never seen a player like me in the states." Okay, let´s play again? "You wanna lose again?" I made eight balls in. Two turns. He made zero. Wanna play again, uhhuh, thought not.

So maybe the losing graciously is a work in progress, but they learned some lessons. And so did I. One, I´m still really good at pool. Mostly that

But also, I learned other lessons, spiritual lessons. Which I won´t include. But I will say, go learn yourself a lesson or two. You´ll be glad you did and it´ll help you be happier and a better person. Spiritual lessons at least.

Just be glad you won´t be meeting me at a pool table for a while at least. YUH

Love you all, keep growing, keep working. Staying in Itatiba (oh yeah, I didn´t get transfered),

Elder Tigger Pulled the Trigger on the Trash Shoot

Sunday, December 10, 2017

With All My Love

What a week! Just like another week in so many ways. What made this week just a bit unique?

Lupe Valdez resigned her office as Dallas County Sheriff today, December 6, 2017. She's decided to run on the Democratic ticket for the Governor of the State of Texas. Good luck. Our Republican Governor Abbott, in his infamous wheelchair, is very well liked.

We started putting up Christmas decorations, including getting the ornaments on the tree. Miss Breyer separated all your ornaments, but “No one else can touch them.” She’s very protective of you and yours.

I was setting out wooden candle holders made for me by Uncle Zach and Grampy he made to pass off a Cub Scout requirement. I’ve had them for many years, and while not beautiful or trendy, they remind me of family. I had to purchase new red taper candles for them, which your sister has repeatedly asked to light. She almost had me thinking she had a fire fetish, but she’s calmed down a bit. Christmas reminds me of family.

When I come home from work, and walk in the door, my family makes me happy. I'm always so grateful to come back home, even to sick children, messy rooms, no dinner and hungry tummies. My wooden candle holders remind me of all the wonderful family moments I've been so fortunate to enjoy. I'm sure letters from home remind you of home and our love for you, just as your letters do so for us.

What else? Your brother celebrated his 11 year old birthday Thursday on the 76th year anniversary of Pearl Harbor. This year President Trump signed the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day proclamation. Bro. Bach reminded Miller that being 11 means, "There are so many things you can now do since you're officially 11."

You can:
· Attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the British wizarding school
. Say Hello to Harry and Ron if you see them
. I think you’d make a great Gryffindor, but we’ll have to let the Sorting Hat make that call
· Continue to prepare to receive the Priesthood in just one year.
· Know that in just a few years you’ll be driving, maybe even the big old white van, it just doesn’t get any better!
·Join the 11 Year old Boy Scouts and begin to work on Tenderfoot, Merit Badges and Camping !"

I have yet to make his requested cherry pie, but he did get cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

Thursday evening was also a Christmas play by Miller and all fourth graders at Oakwoods. Miller was in the chorus, and did sing, but had a smirky smile on his face watching others with their speaking parts. He does not enjoy public performances. Sawyer had a basketball game right after the play. It was not so fun to watch the team with their first loss in almost two years. Also, he had two fouls within 15 seconds of the first quarter beginning, a third two minutes later, forcing his coach to sit him through the remainder of the half. He then got a fourth foul in the third quarter, and fouled out in the fourth quarter. For some reason, he and the other two main players were handily targeted, each having four fouls in the third quarter, and the other team having none. I'm not one to blame the referees, but this was so blatant something was up.

What else has been unique this week? Breyer brought home her first First Grade needing-a-bucket virus. I worked overtime Friday evening, and walked in the door to Breyer holding The Pot. The Pot is the one I use for BIG crowds, or for canning. I guess Dad thought she must be really sick. Within minutes she did a good job filling at least the bottom of the pot; in the middle of her bath she tried again, and around 2 a.m. she did her best. But she couldn’t quite cover the bottom of the pot. She was low maintenance the rest of the day, and by dinner was fairly normal. Even after a two hour nap she went right to bed.

Saturday morning, early morning, Miller had a basketball game. 8 a.m. comes early on the weekend, but not for those of us who are already at work before 6 a.m. the rest of the week. I loved it! He squeaked by with a win, and a few buckets. We spent a good portion of the day finishing our Christmas decorations and cleaning in anticipation of our Christmas guests soon to arrive. He also had a game with his prime team at 6 p.m., the same time as the annual ward Christmas party began. We arrived a fashionably 72 minutes later, and the tables and chair were being put away, and the service project for an elderly home was already done. We were lucky to get a piece of ham and a few pieces of corn before we went back home. Ho ho ho.

All this week strong Santa Ana winds rapidly spread multiple wildfires across tens of thousands of acres, destroying hundreds of homes and other buildings, in California.  So sad to see  all the pictures depicting massive destruction. Home reminds us of family, and is so hard when we lose that familiar place.

I heard the missionaries that were evacuated from Puerto Rico are able to start handing back this week.

Your cousin Kayla has nine days before she's home. Merry Christmas.

That's all the news fit to print tonight. My eyelids are heavy, my shoulders a bit drooped, and my brain sluggish, all signs it's time to call it a night. Know of our love for you. Beyond words I can compose, I'm so thankful you're a part of my family. I hope you chose to me. Stay safe.



Saturday, December 9, 2017

Thursday, December 7, 2017

College Correspondent


Sunday was the highly anticipated 1st Pres. Christmas Devotional. Kind Sarah W. set me up with a mission pal of hers, Ashley, and I hooked my friend Mark up with Rebecca. You could have filmed a movie scene. We drove up to Salt Lake City, the air was frosty, snow flakes were falling. We admired the beautiful Christmas lights, and heard a choir of angels sing. Not to mention we heard heartwarming talks. Oh, and Mark's mom sent him with a giant flask of hot chocolate which we all enjoyed afterwords. Everything went perfect.

The Man, the Myth, the Legend

No, I did not meet Scott Stirling. I did, however, meet Bruce C. Hafen. The 'C' in his name probably stands for Champion, because that's just who he is. BYU hosted a week long seminar on grace, and he spoke on it Thursday night. I could say much, but I'll simply leave a paraphrased quote from his talk:

"We cannot say, 'Lord, give me experience, help me grow, help me become like thee!' and then not expect to have grief, when that is what shaped Him, and made Him who He is."

The next night I again went to the last address of the night. This time it was given by Sheri Dew. Again, another marvelous discourse on grace. My understanding of it grew, as well as my desire to understand it still better. She, being single, and obviously struggling with that challenge, shared so sincerely how grace has helped her. Her testimony was powerful. As with Elder Hafen, there was a Q+A after, and when someone asked how we can know if we are receiving grace, I liked how she said,

"Every spiritual privilege we have is a manifestation of His grace."


This has been a struggle. My companion is still MIA. It's been impossible to connect with three of those I'm visiting. The fourth I connected too well as she asked me out. So, I decided to mark a date, invite everybody over for pie, and see what happens. Remarkably, it was a success. Finally, two of them started responding to my messages, and I was able to meet one of them for the first time. Overall, three out of four showed. We bonded, my roommates extended the hands of friendship as well, and we all left filled. I've mentioned Mouli before, but to quickly restate, he is a PhD student in physics from India, having previously studied in Germany. While everyone else was talking, he stayed mostly quiet and very reserved. Towards the end, having shared a message about faith, we started talking about religion, just me and him. He said he was born Hindu, which I had reasoned. I then said, "Wait, I want to show you this book." I returned carrying a book, and he said, "I knew, the Book of Mormon," to which I responded, "No, its the Bhagavad Gita!" (which is basically Hindu scripture.) His eyes lit up, he responded to a couple of my questions, and for the first time, we connected. Developments to follow!

Market Analysis

I ended my bitcoin run. In just under a month, I netted $370 which isn't going to ' put me on Forbes' radar anytime soon, but for a college student, helps significantly. While I still believe in the idea, I would recommend staying away from bitcoin. Starting next week, it will become easy to short bitcoin, and I think this will cause some problems. While it was the trailblazer, I think it will be passed by better, more efficient block chain using cryptocurrencies. The horse-and-buggy helped people tremendously, but it was the wrong market to invest in at the turn of the 20th century. It is often forgotten that until 1944 the British Pound was the reserve currency of the world, being then replaced by the US dollar. I see something similar happening to bitcoin, and while it will probably continue to rise for some time, I see more value in Monero, and IOTA, and am excited to see what happens in the future.

Better than....

I read recently an article, where the author listed some things that were more important than money. Later, I decided to come up with my own list. I won't share that today, but I will share something similar. Pres. Faust, sixty some years ago, almost ready to head to his mission in Brasil, received some training from then apostle David O. McKay. Elder McKay walked to the chalkboard and simply wrote, "It is better to be trusted than to be loved." The notion being, our Heavenly Father will always love us. Our parents will always love us. But can they trust us? We receive their love, but have to earn their trust, and that happens through our daily actions, as well as, I believe, our desire to love them back. And of course, to show our love, and to earn His trust, to become His friends, we must keep His commandments.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Words for the Wingmen

Dear Elder, Sister & Family,

Any noteworthy news since I last wrote is certainly superseded by the arrival of our beautiful daughter Nora Marie Schenewark. Personally, I'd be very satisfied to end the letter right there and go pick her up right now, but you all are important too so I'll try and hammer out some more details as to her arrival.

First, she has a fantastic sense of timing, choosing to come AFTER Thanksgiving dinner, but before her Grandpa and Grandma had to leave town. Evidently, however, she couldn't wait long because AnneMarie's labor began not very long after the Turkey had been served.

AnneMarie tried to rest at home and I kept her company until three that morning when we called it and headed into the hospital. After observing her for an hour, our kind nurse worked her magic so that AnneMarie was admitted that night. Soon after she got an epidural and at 3:21 pm our daughter was delivered.

Of course that makes it sound so much quicker and easier than it was, but my heart was full of eternal gratitude for my incredible eternal companion who, over the course of almost 24 hours in labor, and over the last 9 months, has never ceased to amaze me with her strength, spiritual and physical. And, of course, her beauty : ) That love only continues to grow as I get to see her as a mother.

We spent Friday and Saturday night in the hospital and had a wonderful experience with the staff at Utah Valley Hospital. The food was much better than any hospital food I remember eating (Shrimp fettuccine alfredo?!!) and the nurses were fantastic. Also, I kept Nora company on her several trips to the nursery, some in the dead of night to monitor her vitals. What a magical place? Each time I visited, all was still and lined up in a row, lots of sleeping babies surrounded by Christmas decorations. Magical. Thank you to family who visited, especially Uncle Hunter who swang by and was kind enough to bring muffins and sugar cookies. Fast start out of the favorite uncle gate.

Bottom line: we love Nora, I'm pretty sure she loves us, and we're very blessed that AnneMarie is healing and feeling well.

In other less important news, I took the LSAT yesterday. Nothing notable there except to say that if, in the future, you have to take a standardized test early one morning, be considerate to your fellow test takers and keep your enthusiasm to funeral parlor levels. Anything more is nauseating and frankly scary. Also, AnneMarie was so sweet and made me breakfast early before my test and slept on the couch--on the couch--so that she wouldn't wake me when getting the baby. <3 p="">
Also, because Nora is so easy as a baby, we even had a little date one afternoon this week when a favorite Neapolitan pizza parlor was giving away free food. While AnneMarie and I enjoyed pizza perfection, Nora did what any self-respecting gastro enthusiast of her age would do and fell asleep while inhaling the intoxicating aromas of Italy that swirled around her.

Love to you all!

Tanner, AnneMarie, & Nora

Monday, December 4, 2017

Letter #17

My companion is still short. Just a reminder.

Also it was his birthday on Sunday, haven´t reaped the cake rewards yet, but I will. Oh I will

We had a stake conference this week, twas tight. We had new three investigators show up and I only had to make one surprise solo appearance to the pulpit. Also, our four part missionary quartet was fine. Didn´t know I could sing soprano did you? Granted, taken down a couple of octaves

We saw demon grasshoppers. They were standing on this plant, shiny black with red eyes. Very scary. Very hoppy. About five hundred of them crawling over each other, gross

Went to a members house and he has a fingerprint lock, it reads his fingerprint and the door opens. Very tight

I snapped a stainless steel ice cream scoop in half. Not my fault. The member brought out this brick of ice cream and asked me to scoop some out. I tried, gently, but couldn´t get it. Told her she should microwave it first. She was like no, just dig in. BANG.  Luckily no one was hit by either part of the scoop or, especially by the ice cream. And, after the ice cream was microwaved for a sec, came out easy.

At stake conference. while I was on the stand, there was a woman who was very intently watching the talks. Very intently. She looked more confused than anyone I'd ever seen in my life. And she stayed that way for two hours, just in this state of goneness. I don´t know how to describe it. It was hard to keep from laughing, but me and Orteney mostly managed.

And, stealing a little story from a handsome, Canananadian Elder in Hong Kong. "The first time we met, I was playing pool in the lobby, just killing five minutes. He walked in, carrying a case of water he had cranked from some activity (he snagged stuff, of course we would be friends). But, he asked me if I wanted one. I´m a thirsty man, of course I accepted. We started talking, we became friends, and now, I have some stories with him that I´m afraid to share #PotatoHill.

But, thinking about this, you never know what effect a small act of kindness will have on someone else, as well as on yourself. I´ll be forever grateful that he decided to give me that stolen water bottle, I can now say that it changed that whole year for me. And to couple with this, we often use the word 'love' as a substance or noun. I think it is more aptly used as a verb. When we 'love' someone or something, our actions are normally the first thing to show it. And that´s how it should be.

This Christmas season, this week, today, let´s all make a little more effort to show the people we love that we love them. Love, as an action, speaks louder than words ever could. But, in words....

I love you all, it´s amazing the strength I feel when I think of all of you and what you do for me. I love this gospel and for the blessings it has given me, my friends and my family, and countless opportunities to become a better person. And I especially love my Savior, and the sacrifice he made for me, the sacrifice that allows me to be clean of sins and to live with my family forever. He is my best friend, and I love Him.


Elder What Happened at Potato Hill?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

What a surprise to see in our Facebook account a picture of you with Tanner's Mission President's son. It's such a small world in the Church. She told us he was going to University. Did he find you? 

It's been a wonderful week. Your grandparents flew into town around noon on Wednesday. Rather than try to figure out a way to get them home to an empty house, I planned to use hotel points, and have them shuttled to a Marriott to rest. Turns out I had a certificate for a stay that expired the day after they arrived; the shuttle was free, and the location convenient. This was a great plan except for a few minor things that became major inconveniences. The directions on the hotel site were incorrect. There were no hotels at that exit. The service road had no exit points for four miles. The service road was under major construction. I was navigating the drive during rush hour traffic. It took me almost an hour to make a 15 minute drive, and I ended up at the wrong Marriott, three miles from my supposed destination.

I received a refusal to my request to have them shuttled to my location; I received new directions, which were the same as the ones I had, and found them on the other side of the highway two hours late. Adding in Dallas traffic to the commute home, and we were over two hours later than we should have been. Good thing dinner was ready. It’s always good to have a back-up plan, and if there is no back-up plan, at least be comfortable.

Thursday evening we went to Sawyer’s away basketball game. It was a nail biter. We could not have asked for better entertainment. Sawyer played the key role in the game, with their win by one basket. He scored 20 out of the 36 points, 12 of them in the 4th quarter. He shot his first successful 3 point jump shot; made all but one from the line, untied the game score several times and had the game winning shot with 4 seconds left.

Friday night’s entertainment was a Christmas show in Granbury. Granbury Live is the venue near the opera house that hosts musical acts, and has just opened under the outside ceiling of big white light bulbs. Dad took Breyer as his date, and your grandmother was escorted by Cooper. The best part of the evening was watching Breyer get ready for her date. She had on a dress and heels. Put together a purse. Asked if she could put on lipstick (no, just Chapstick). Rubbed lotion all over her face and neck, and then put on my perfume. Dad then felt obligated to at least change his shirt and borrow your cologne from Cooper. The dates were a smashing success, ending with our seasonal eggnog dessert.

Miller and I were at his first basketball practice. Your father was in Fort Worth at a work related conference, and Sawyer was at a regional band practice. Not so much fun.

Saturday morning Miller entertained your grandmother at this first basketball game. Not much you can do with a bunch of fourth grade boys, after one practice, except let them play. Miller scored the only 8 points of the 1st quarter, sat out the second by choice of the opposing team coach, and was the key player in pushing just enough ahead to pull off the win.

Your father took them to the airport after lunch, via Sawyer’s regional band concert. It was a whirlwind of a weekend. I think we wore each other out. In between scheduled activities we sat outside in the beautiful sunshine at 75 degrees, talked, laughed, sat outside some more. They visited their favorite city library used book store, bought me a new crock pot when we discovered mine cracked, and visited the high school to see Cooper’s aeronautic and engineering classrooms. Such a delightful visit!

We're still face timing daily with Nora. She's a sweetie that's chunking up  nicely. And she likes to eat. My kind of kid. We can hardly wait to see her. We spent last night putting together the crib, and dusting it off. Cooper was a big help, and Miss Breyer was the cleaner.

And on to things not so pleasant. Imagine a traffic accident, with injuries, where the primary unit on scene discovers a grenade in the car vs the dump truck, causing the highway to be shut down and the bomb squad contacted. Or having a pistol brandished and used to assault a female who opened her door at the wrong time, with the suspect female arriving and leaving in an Uber. Or a man who barricades himself in a house with six hostages. All three individuals made a decision, ultimately affecting more than themselves. How much better would they and those they affected been without their poor decisions?

President Uchtdorf said, "There may be many things about life that are beyond [our] control. But in the end, [we] have the power to choose both [our]destination and many of [our] experiences along the way. It is not so much [our]abilities but [our] choices that make the difference in life."

Continue to choose wisely. And here we are on the cusp of hearing from you. We hope you're week was as wonderful, in a different sort of way as ours was with your grandparents here.



P.S. Your letters arrived this week. I'll have to write more about them later, but thank you so much!

Saturday, December 2, 2017


Uncle Aaron's version of Uncle
Considering I have six boys, 
and five of them have become uncles,
 his patented definition is much more appealing.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

College Correspondent

Let's be realistic, whatever else happened, Nora was still going to be the highlight of the week. She entered the world Friday, weighing 7.5 pounds, and measuring 20 inches. Not so sure why we always put these statistics out there, but for what they're worth, you have them. More interesting is the fact that she has dark hair, no eyebrows, or eyelashes, or teeth, doesn't cry much (yet,) hasn't eaten steak before, and loves Uncle Hunter. That's Nora. Tanner says she is "perceptive." I didn't get past "heavenly." I went over Saturday night, held and rocked her for a little and then relinquished her to Annemarie. It was amazing to think that just a short time before, she was in heaven.

Now for the filler. This week was Thanksgiving break. As previously stated, Monday I enjoyed work and had lunch with Pres. Young. Tuesday I had a free day. I went to school and worked on some assignments, mostly genealogy and was thrilled with progress in the Gerken-Hesse line. More to come hopefully. My professor was helping me, and I don't exaggerate when I say that what I could have done in weeks, he accomplished in minutes. My roommates all went out of town for the break, so I was left with the apartment to myself. Tuesday and Wednesday nights, I discovered that ABC puts up Shark  Tank episodes on their website, and enjoyed watching some. My bedtime averaged before 10 pm for the week, which probably hasn't happened since I was 12 And I woke up about 6 each day, able to work out and read and relax a little in the morning. A welcome respite from the usual school and work.

Originally planning to go with Tanmarie and her parents for thanksgiving at an extended family member's house, I opted for Uncle Ben's instead. We had a Thanksgiving feast, and it was nice to spend time, the whole day, with family. Sarah W. came down from Idaho, and that was a great surprise. We decided to do something on Saturday, and my first idea, was a game night. Sort of spur of the moment but it worked out. About 15 people came over, and we played some ice-breaker games, code name, and one other which had me laughing until I cried. But, to play it, it requires people never having played it before. Thus, I shall wait. I made cranberry muffins, sugar cookies, and put out chips and salsa for snacks. And water of course. The cranberry muffins turned out slightly burnt, and a bit misshapen, and  not wanting to sit on 24 muffins, I impressed myself by creating simple placards on index cards which read "Chips+Salsa." "Cups for water." "Sugar cookies." "World Famous Ugly+Delicious Cranberry Muffins." Incredibly, it worked and 20 muffins were eaten, and people were complimenting them, and leaving the sugar cookies which actually tasted good, much better than the muffins, relatively untouched.

Other noteworthy happenings: I unfortunately did not finish my paper for the BYU Religious Symposium. Looks like it'll have to be next year. I went to Swigs with a roommate on Friday. Its supposed to be a fantastic soda parlor. I ordered an Italian Soda and it was horrible!!! I had never been there before but have heard such good things. Now, I will have to return and try something else, just to see if its that bad, or if they forgot something in my drink. Like sugar.

Fique Firme!!!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Letter #16

First off, had Black Friday this week. Which brought back memories from last year, involving a UHaul truck, Uber, a train, romance movies with the boys, just a good time.

I got hit by a parrot this week, not in the he hit me with something, but he flew into me. I hate parrots.
But, I also got hit by another bird, this time in the other sense. A nice early Christmas present dropped from the sky. Luckily it only glanced a hand. Got licked right off...

Met Patrick Stewart´s dopple ganger. Right before I told him, he told me I looked like Billy Crystal. Hmm, not seein' that one but I´ll take it.

I got stung by three wasps this week, all in the face. Two on the same cheekbone, maybe ten minutes apart, not pleasant, and one on the other side temple. Looking a little lumpy.

Had lunch with a family, the husband was a casual millionaire who loves basketball (yuh) and thus me, and also knows Anderson Varejo and told me that if Brazil comes back from the world cup thing early, he´ll introduce me. #Willbaptize. Didn´t know he wasn´t playing in the NBA anymore.Also, his wife was a self proclaimed, and studied, Communist. It was an interesting lunch to say the least.

Other highlight, we had another walk through a field to 'cut time.' It didn´t work. While we tried to decide to press on, a herd of cows found it´s way behind us. I´m not going to be pushing my way through the cows, and resulting cow pies, so we pressed on. Over a pipe ten feet above the river, looked really cool, but we all know I´m not a picture guy. I´ll try harder.

I almost fought a perfume salesman. We were walking back home at night, dark, through a small alley. Two guys are coming the other way, on big and chunky and black, and the other just looked like a greasy sleeze. Then he spoke and he was like "Hey guys, lemme show you whats in this bag"
I almost swung, lemme tell you, he was just perfectly imitating a movie alley robbery or something, where he pulls out a gun or something. But he pulled out perfume. Got two free spritzes instead of a friendly neighborhood robbery. Twas nice. Also, cologne here is way too expensive.

And lastly. Curiosity killed the cat. Literally. We were at this house, right?, doing our thing. Suddenly we hear this screech, thump thump thump thump.................The cat, retched thing, had tried to see into the running washing machine with a broken lid. and slipped. And just got destroyed. The clothes too. Not a pretty sight or smell or just wow, yeah, effectively ended our visit there. But, he shouldn't have been looking where he shouldn't have been looking. So, he got pummeled.

Luckily for us, the one responsible for us is a lot more forgiving, and he doesn't punish us for being curious WHEN we are searching and looking for worthwhile, good things. If we have a question or problem, we can take it to Him and He will give us the answers we need.

James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

If you have a question, ask and you will receive, that is one of my favorite promises of the gospel.
It may not be the answer we are expecting, or that we want, but we will receive that answer. I love you all, merry Thanksgiving, happy December.


Elder Uncle

Sunday, November 26, 2017

With All Our Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

The most exciting news of the week is your niece has arrived, right on her due date. AnneMarie was able to enjoy her Thanksgiving dinner before the contractions really began. By 3 a.m. they were at the hospital, where she was determined to be showing enough signs of labor to be admitted. Twelve and a half hours later baby Nora was born; Nora Marie weighed in at 7 lbs. and 5 oz. 20” long, with lots of dark hair. She’s adorable. Just enough squishiness, and big cheeks. I’m in love. You’re an Uncle.

Your pictures in last week's letters must not have loaded. We only were able to view the first picture.

We went to Tyler for Thanksgiving. When we left for Tyler, I was just getting off work, and parked at a sub-station to be picked up. It saved me an hour of driving, and got us on the road two hours sooner.

Of course we had to take our yearly forage into the bamboo forest with Uncle Brad. Love that tradition. I shouldn't say yearly, I should say our Tyler tradition. We go every time we're in town. We might have found a new tradition to add to our forage. Sawyer found a 40 foot bamboo stalk he was jokingly carrying out of the forest. We veered to the green belt, and he ended up balancing it on his fingers. I'll try to load the short clip from Luke.

Of course the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang song “Me Ol’ Bamboo” was sung by your sidekick while plowing through the ever thickening bamboo forest.

Miller used his little knife saw, with Sawyer's help, to cut down an overtly green stalk. We discretely left it in the forest to dry a bit, and will check on it in December. Unfortunately, the pole vaulting tradition was left capably in your hands.

We ventured in Spades territory once, with Evan confessing he had been waiting two years to play with Hunter, to not break his winning streak. But since Hunter's home, he partnered with Miller just for fun. Since you and Hunter know how he plays, let's say he didn't disappoint. You never know what you'll get when you play with him, and it didn't work out so well for him this time, against Sawyer and I. Luke is not playing for your two years. So he walked away a bit.

Your brother Sawyer tried to step in and take over your comedy partnership with Luke. He put a few smiles on our faces, tried to arrange a visit for Luke to come to Granbury, but it wasn't the same. You were sorely missed at our Thanksgiving retreat. Even not having you there for food consumption only was very noticeable. Hopefully Hunter and Tanner visiting in December will remedy that large hole.

Of course while we drive to or from Tyler, we pass the Nike outlet store. Cooper is in need of court shoes for spring tennis; Sawyer is in need of basketball shoes now, and running shoes later. So we stopped and spent. Most of the orange boxes are going under the tree. Sawyer needed his basketball shoes now. He was wearing shoes that were too big, and he looked like he had clown shoes on, running up and down the court, with his curled toes. He works very hard on his skills. Yesterday he had a produce plastic bag on his basketball ball, to “make it more slipp9ery” while he practiced.
Miller often practices with him, and is excited to use his new shoes we picked up for try outs. He begins practice this week.

Cooper faithfully practices the piano for Priesthood each week. Love it. He also got his eagle scout bench on a trailer to bring to Granbury, picked a project date, and picked up the donated bench boards from Home Depot. So close!

Breyer and her neighborhood friend made slime on her drive way yesterday. Then they get the idea to sit at the end of her driveway and sell it. The for sale portion was the size of a half dollar. Very small. For $2. Of course I bought some, but was able to talk them down in price $1. Unbelieveable to me is the fact that within 15 minutes they had sold all their slime, and made $9. Especially surprising was when Breyer came in holding all the money, telling me they decided to donate the money to someone in need. She came to me asking if Grampy needed money. I told her to speak with her Bishop. He counseled her to donate it to fast offerings today. Sawyer helped her fill out the slip today. She then informed me her lesson in Primary was on fast offerings, and fasting, and how she was able to share her story. Such an example to me of power in purity, and the opportunities we have as parents to guide our children. Here's another example.
Suppose I had a request from another agency for back up because a female prisoner jumped out of the patrol car and took off on foot through a residential neighborhood. Do I take the time to ask, “How?” Was she in the front seat? Was she cuffed in front? Were the locks not engaged? No. I’d dispatch a unit for the back-up request, and provide the location, suspect description, and a contacting unit from the requesting agency. When I am at work, the training I’ve received guides me in the decisions I make in assisting those I serve. You have guidance of a different sort.

I was reading the General Conference talk by Sis. Joy Jones, a wonderful name during the holiday season, entitled Value Beyond Measure. She said, “Knowing that you are a [child] of God will affect every aspect of your life and guide you in the service you render each day.” How wonderful you know who you are, where you came from, and where you are going. Such a message of hope you’re able to share so far away.

Catching a female all dressed in black, in day light, running through the neighborhood with hand cuffs, is pretty easy. Catching souls is a bit more complicated.  Sis. Jones said, “If the pull of the world is stronger than the faith and trust we have in the Savior, then the pull of the world will prevail every time.”  You’re out of the world for two years, and have that much more power in the faith and trust you have in the Savior. Your pull is strong.

We love you. We're getting excited for our Christmas call. Return to me.



Saturday, November 25, 2017

College Correspondent

First, just to clarify from last week, I am planning to leave my current apt, for a new one, but still stay in Provo. Unfortunately, the person who wanted to buy my contract texted me last Monday saying he had been on a waitlist for an apt complex for a long time, and they just let him know that a spot had opened up. So i'm still trying to sell it.

Wednesday, we had another bathroom adventure. My roommate clogged the toilet again, and left. I came back from the gym, didn't even use it, but about to hop in the shower, and seeing toilet paper, flushed it. The water rose incredibly fast, and overflowed, filling the bathroom with water. Nasty, disgusting water. Still wanting to take a shower, and knowing the problem wouldn't fix itself, I went to start mopping it up. And then, someone knocked on the door, which almost never happens. Half-naked, I opened it up, a panicked neighbor. To be exact, a neighbor who lives directly below us. He told me that water was pouring in their ceiling, and he wanted to know if someone was taking a shower. I told the truth- the problem is not with the shower. That didn't make him feel better, but I promised to fix the problem quickly. I mopped everything up, took my shower, now that I really needed to be clean, and texted my roommate, raising awareness of the situation, and letting him know he could finish the clean up. He did. I think we both learned some lessons.

I was leaving that mess, to meet up with Tanner, and listen to BYU Philharmonic play. It was marvelous. They finished by playing Scheherazade by Rimsky-korsakov.

Thursday was lots of school, a dance test, an organ test, then a meeting of the Toqueville Society where we talked and debated about the influence of the Reformation on our society as a whole, and on the LDS church. I left having changed my opinion on a few things, grateful for the learning experience.

Friday after work, I got together with a guy from chess club. We met in the library to play a longer game, 45 minutes on each side. We had a fair amount of spectators come by, ask about the club, etc, but it wasn't until we were done that two guys came up, one jubilant, congratulating my competitor on his victory and informing that he had won $10 off of him, which his friend confirmed by wistfully looking at me and asking, "10 dollars...How did you lose when you had the winning position early?" Impatient attack, and not castling, my friend. I feel your pain.

Friday night I went to Tanmarie's and played games. And borrowed their car for my Saturday adventures. Super kind of them. But to back up a little,

Thursday, wanting to go out, I decided to go all out. I went up to a girl I did not know, and had never talked with, asked her name, conversed for a couple minutes and then invited her to get some ice cream with me on Saturday. She said yes, and made my day. So, Saturday, I drove(!!!!) to the football stadium, braved the cold weather, a cold team, and the UMass coach who won hands down for most swearing in the season. I returned home, quickly showered, and went to pick up my date, Lexie, a ballerina from St. Louis. We went to what is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, Rockwell's Ice Cream. Of course, there was no parking, so we ended up having to walk a couple blocks. On our way, waiting for a crosswalk light to change, two bums came up to us. They said they liked my coat. And they thought it would look good on them. I politely declined, and they then left us alone. We enjoyed fantastic ice cream; I went with strawberries+cream and Lexie chose snickerdoodle. During our time at Rockwell's there was one silence in the conversation, that lasted 20 seconds, which is actually pretty long. Try sitting at a table with someone, and timing 20 seconds before saying anything. I feel comfortable with silence, and was savoring the dessert, but saw her twitch and knew I should say something. Preferably something that doesn't increase the awkwardness. So, I asked her what grocery store chains they have in St. Louis. BANG! Its said if you get kneecapped once, you can still make it out, however painful. But, I followed her response by saying, "I know that was a weird question, but I'm just really interested and fascinated by grocery stores." BANG! Man down. However, overall, I enjoyed it, and believe it went well. I brought Tanmarie's car back, met Annemarie's mother, and we played a game of scrabble. Me and Tanner fought to the end, but I played "THrEADING" and that was enough to claim the victory. And, I took advantage of my time there, and did my wash. For free.

Sunday, I taught family history class. I also made it a point to try and meet anyone I didn't know already. Including Shelby, who I talked to briefly. There was a face-to-face event with Elders Oaks and Ballard happening that night, and Elder Ballard in his visit to BYU on Tuesday had made a special invitation to bring a friend. I went and invited everyone I home teach, but no one was going, so I decided to ask Shelby. Of course, I don't have a car, so that made me find someone in the ward who did, and invite them to double with me. He, Jordan, wasn't planning on going, but I promised him blessings, (and a date,) and he agreed. I went and invited Shelby, and her roommate. All four of us had a great time. Shelby is from Pleasant Grove, UT, served a mission in Cleveland, and works full time at DoTerra.

Monday, I had a fantastic time at work, and had lunch with my mission president. Pres. Young, which was THE highlight of the week. He works relatively close to me, so we had set this up a while back. I won't include everything here, my separate type up is three pages, but know that we talked and talked for an hour and a half. Actually, I basically just listened, happy to hear, and trying to soak up as much wisdom as possible. I left thoroughly touched and inspired. And I'll just add, he might have the best proposal story I've ever heard. I almost cried. And of course, when that thing happens, I ended up going home, and having a candlelight dinner for one, (of fish, spinach, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes,) writing thank you letters, listening to classical music, and reflecting on my life. And finishing this letter.

Friday, November 24, 2017