Thursday, August 31, 2017

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

Okay, your letter was hysterical. Tanner's friend, Matt Stone from BYU emailed me. He said, "I read every one of Tanner’s and Hunter’s letters, and they were great, but Porter’s are hysterical. Thanks for posting them!" Your flair for writing wasn't something I expected. I never know what to expect when I send a son out on a mission, and learning more about you through your letters is always such a nice surprise.

I'm sure by now you've heard of Harvey, the category 4 hurricane that came shore north of Corpus Christi, This has been one of my favorite pictures, the shot from space:

The flooding though, is devastating. Houston received 52 inches of rain. That's 200 inches of snow. The professionals are talking about how the Texas economy is no more, because of how much work it's going to take to recover. Even the Houston temple has water inside. All missionaries are accounted for, provided with extra food and water, and will soon be part of a massive clean-up. The 52" is the highest amount of rainfall that's ever fallen in North America.

Port Arthur is also flooded. Even their emergency shelter had to be evacuated. Dallas, San Antonio and now Fort Worth have been shelter cities. Your father has had messages all week from people in other states looking to come to Texas to help the flood victims. Unfortunately, Granbury is not the ward in charge ;-)

And because all the oil refineries are in Houston, and the pipeline from the refineries is not pumping, we are running out of gas up here near Dallas. Everybody made a run to get gas, and the pumps in the city are almost dry. The price has gone up $.40.

Hunter made it to Boston safely Thursday evening. We had spent the morning getting his two big bags under fifty pounds. I think they both weighed in at 49.98 lbs. I've heard he got up the next morning at 5 a.m.for a golf game with Uncle Aaron; played massive Scrabble games with your grandmother, intense chess games with Uncle Aaron, knuckle dragging contests over who controls the remote with your grandfather, wood pile work at the Whitcombs, Rummikub contests with the Bachs, working at the church store house with Uncle Aaron...the fun never ends. He left yesterday for Utah, and is excited to be back at the Y. Finding a wife weighs heavily on his mind, as well as finding a job. He's contacted the event staff supervisor, who is excited to have him back. He also hopes to be a part of the wait staff at a Brazilian steak house.

He left Boston Tuesday, and has landed in Utah. He was able to successfully retrieve his belongings from Uncle Ben, with Megan's help. He had far less cooking supplies than he remembered, and has been at Deseret Industries several times. AnneMarie picked him up from the airport, lent him their extra vehicle while Tanner was away on business in Chicago, and took him to Costco for supplies. So nice to have help!

I got to see Cooper play in his first tennis meet. It was 99 degrees, but really feels like 106 degrees. I just sat in the stands and it was sweltering. He hurt his shoulder muscle working on his Eagle Scout bench, and wasn't able to get his usual slam first serve over the net. Only his second lob serve. His net game was a bit off as well. All his games were close, but he lost his match. His second meet he won both his matches.

Cooper heard about the airport's fundraiser, and was dropped off Saturday morning for their pancake breakfast. The high school's experimental airplane club was there as well. He was hoping to go up in an airplane for free, but only airplane take off and landing watching were offered.

Sawyer is now playing football for the middle school. He was told by the athletic director he could just kick, because of his brain cysts. He likes Sawyer, knows what a great athlete he is, and is excited to have him involved on his team. So Sawyer has been very diligent practicing, and getting Dad to help him kick.

Miller and Breyer begin soccer today.

Your bank account has $77.77, via phone; I still need your accounts and passwords list you were going to make for me.

I had five widows in the ward over for dinner. Seeing your father walk in the door, not knowing, was priceless. He handled the surprise with aplomb, and left us alone. Later, I realized he wasn't really surprised as there were a lot of cars in the driveway. What was I thinking?

Well,I'm falling asleep at the keys this morning. Know of our love for you. Give us a good update. Save those pictures. Be safe.



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Letter #3

Family and Friends,

Week two, in the books, the Portuguese continues to progress, but nothing super exciting there.

Last Friday I did manage to haggle with the street vendor and get the price of the jersey he was selling reduced drastically. Spicy

I was the on sight person for what looked like patient X for a Brazilian version of world war z. While Elder Webster and I were walking to the basketball court to surely ball up, there was a Brazilian elder from northern brazil who we found unable to breath and was too dizzy to stand. I scooped him up and ran down the hallways to the Whitaker´s office, an elderly couple with zero medical training. I put him on the table where he got covered by a blanket and was convulsing pretty wildly. Not gonna lie, pretty scary. The Whitakers called a taxi because the public ambulence would take an hour and a half to get there and the private ones wouldn´t let you pick the hospital. This old dude rolls up in a minivan, the biggest car I´ve seen in Brazil BTW, and I strap him in the back and off he went. Initially, I was told it was probably Malaria or Denge which are both pretty big in his state.

While I do enjoy the mystery meat, sometimes I get scared and ask. Only once actually. Once a week, the workers take all the meat from the last week and make a little stew with it. Last week I found a baseball card sized piece of tendon in mine, and I´ve managed to get through the tongue and the huge pieces of only fat. BUT, this week I drew the line. I was chowing down and I bit down on a bown, not super uncommon, you just pull it out and keep going. When I pulled it out, I found that it was a whole rack of ribs. What kind of ribs can I fit in my mouth?? Good question, thanks for asking. Mouse ribs. They were actually pretty good, I just had to make sure they weren´t rat related, I don´t know if I´m ready for that step yet.

The jello here is weird. Normally it´s a half liquid, half jello combo, that you can drink or spoon, your choice. This week, we had Pepto Bismol flavored jello, which wasn´t the worst, just the most letter worthy. Two elders, not I, decided to go head to head in a contest. They tied at 22. *Clap Here* However, there was a clear winner. About five minutes later, one of the elders came out of the bathroom wearing what was now a bright pink shirt. Nothing but respect for the man.

Got my first nickname this week, not what I was expecting. Because Elder Johnson in my district is taller than me, he gets all the tall person jokes and nicknames which is fine by me. I do howver, get called Big Schenewarky, just like Tanner said I would. But, the first one that stuck was ´´Rei Delas,`` pronounced Hey Dallas, which is a slang for King of the Ladies. Don´t worry though, my heart is locked.

All the Brazilians ask me about my fiancee. Because I wear my CTR ring on the right hand ring finger, with the shield on the inside, all the Brazilians assume it´s my noiva. My teacher thought it was genius becuase she said it´ll keep some of the flirty brazilian females away. Thus, it´ll stay for now.

We went to the temple in Campinas again, super nice and ..........

IT WAS FINALLY SUNNY AGAIN. We had about a weeks worth of rain that has gone away finally. It was about 80 which gives me zero reason to complain.

That´s most of what happened this week. Please remember the Brazilian elder in your prayers.

Much Love,

Elder Rei Delas

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

We're so looking forward to getting your letter this week. Even Hunter remarked, "It sure seems longer than a week between letters." Yes it does.

I'm going to send this off today, and will hopefully be able to jot you a little note before you are in front of the computer Friday. We thoroughly enjoyed reading about your limbo limberness. Having witnessed your flexibility first hand, we weren't surprised. That you kept everybody entertained on a rainy day? Again, not surprised. We love you and how full of life you are.

I love this picture of Rich and his boys. They spent Saturday at your grandparents house finding fallen logs, carting them from the forest, and chopping them up for firewood.
Uncle Aaron took them out on the lake in his boat, and then they went to a Red Sox game.
Family is SO fun!

LOVE this picture of your grandfather.
His health continues to be so fragile.

White nationalists had long planned a demonstration after the city's decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The rally quickly exploded into racial taunting and outright brawling with the presence of anti-protesters. Then a car drove into the crowd killing one and injuring many.This sparked many demonstrations and protests across the country. This is a picture from Boston, who had one of the largest gatherings. I loved the picture because of the man who looks like a leprechaun. I worked the protest in Dallas. Confederate statues are coming down all over the nation; Six Flags has changed their flags to be just six United States flags. Interesting times to say the least.

This is my favorite picture of the eclipse I've found, taken by NASA. It is the first eclipse in 99 years to go across the entire United States, and it was BIG news. People traveled for hours to be in the path of totality, where the sun was 100% blocked by the moon. 99% blockage still gave you a sunny day, albeit with a looking-through-cheap-sunglasses-look. Granbury was near 85%. In seven years Granbury will be in the path for totality.

Your cousin Meg turned in all her paperwork on Sunday,
and is so excited to wait for her mission call.

Funny story. I asked Hunter to take Cooper's lunch to the high school. Placing the lunch on the ground by his backpack wasn't enough, and it got left behind. Hunter told me once he was there, the secretary stated that they were only allowed to take lunches from parents, and called an administrator. Once he was cleared to leave the lunch, he had to stay and witness it being searched.

I've been asked to speak in stake conference. Taking Hunter to report to the stake high council, and responding to their request to say a few remarks, left an impression. How can you not be memorable after having three of your sons go to Brazil not be memorable? And Hunter is leaving for Utah, or it might have been him.

Dad begins his classes this next week. He's spent the week in meetings, which we all know he loves. Not. He has yet to come home and be excited about all that was accomplished in a meeting.

Breyer is still jumping up in the mornings to go to school. Her outfits have all been folded, stacked and organized in her little closet and picking out the day's outfit has become one of her favorite things to do. And, since this picture reminds me of her funny baby bump, I can let you know all is still well with your first niece.

Miler takes a bit more convincing to get up in the mornings. On the morning of the eclipse Miller took a pair of eclipse glasses and put them in his backpack. I didn't want to discourage him, but as I had signed a multi-page document for Sawyer to witness the eclipse as an eighth grader, I knew he would not be able to view it. I knew the school would go so far as keeping them inside for recess, and I was right. But Miller showed his teacher the glasses, and expressed a desire to see it, and she let him, after calling me. So proud of him for speaking up. That's difficult for him to do. So thankful for his tender hearted teacher who didn't brush him aside. 

Hunter spent a good portion of the time after school on the golf course with Miller and Sawyer, as this is the last week he'll be around to do this with them. They'll miss him terribly when he leaves. I'll miss him more. He's such a quiet, sweet presence in our home. It's hard to have him gone for two years and think about him leaving again. Hopefully he'll call a lot on the phone you left for him. We got in. Thank you for the pass code.

Today I was telling him, "Hunter, look! There are twenty Canadian geese that landed in the backyard!" He just nodded. I love our transitory bird friends. I love that the geese come through Bentwater year after year. I love the hummingbirds that visit us July through October. They make our house into a home. You'll have such transitory friends as you stay in the training center, before they're sent off on their own mission. Enjoy the beauty each brings into your life. Appreciate them for their unique qualities. They'll bring into your life a fullness you'll miss when you leave.



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Words for the Wingmen

Dear Family!

After a few weeks of letter-writing hiatus, I return. Which, according to our sacrament meeting speaker, is pronounced 'VEN-DAH" in Swedish. #funfact

What's new, you ask?

Well, AnneMarie and Baby _____ are coming along beautifully. Both are healthy and glowing and growing. Each night, like clockwork, when AnneMarie lies down to sleep, Baby _____ begins her stretches and I get to feel them. Sometimes, to the chagrin of her mother and joy of her father, she even throughs in a double back with a half-twist. #soproud Talking with Uncle Zach today we decided that the biggest mystery will be what color hair she will have...Stay tuned.

Last Friday through Wednesday morning we enjoyed a trip down to Las Vegas for AnneMarie's cousin Charis' wedding. It was a splendid affair and we love Charis and her new husband Jared a lot. They endeared themselves to us even more by having a taco truck for the wedding dinner the night before and ceviche for the wedding lunch. And we had a safe and uneventful trip in both directions, made the more comfortable by our new Camry which cruised the highway in ease.

We also enjoyed AnneMarie's dad in The Man of La Mancha, where he starred as Captain of the Prison Guard and the Gypsy King. It was a great production, Don Quixote killed his musical numbers and we ate Raising Cane's chicken fingers, homemade cookies, and fresh fruit until we almost popped. All in the scenic Sierra Nevadas.

Thursday was a date night extraordinaire! I left work a tad early so we could make our 4:40 pm tickets for the MTC open house which was unbelievable. We toured the old and new MTC which was a new experience for both of us and such a special experience at that. One of the best parts was walking through the MTC cafeteria where young men chowed through 2-3 meals at a time. Seriously, one guy had a full three-course meal on his tray. Porter, hope you're loving the food as much down there!

The grounds of the MTC were my favorite part and it brought me back to many hours spent studying and preparing lessons as a missionary in the Brazilian MTC. The new MTC buildings are nothing if not spectacular. They have high ceilings, luxurious classrooms, and interiors that would give any brand new, chic hotel a run for its design money. Tons of natural light, inspiring quotes on all the walls, and even quiet church music playing in the foyers. Loved it. AnneMarie and I may be about to welcome our first child to the family, but we're already looking forward to the day when we can join the ranks of missionaries and thrust in our sickles.

After the MTC, we visited the nearby farmer's market where Matt and Jessica we're performing. It was a beautiful evening and a fun concert to see before Jessica heads to Italy for the Fall. And we got farm-fresh peaches to top it off. AND we finished Thursday off with an outdoor movie at UVU, Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Friday we snagged a magic carpet at an Estate Sale. So that was cool. If you want a ride on it, feel free to drop by the Schenewark's house and we'll show you a whole new world! We also picked up a night stand and a new Patagonia sweater. #winning

Saturday we ventured over to the Hutchins who were kind enough to lend us their chop saw to cut some dowels. Then my hot date and I grabbed Pei Wei for dinner and lost ourselves in the ecstasy of shopping that is Trader Joe's.

Let me finish with some gem of a quote quotes from Primary today. While doing the spotlight, it was revealed that one girl wanted to grow up to "eat cucumbers and play with kittens..." Someone get this girl some cukes so she understands she's not missing out on anything!!! Another boy, when asked to finish the sentence "Keep the Sabbath day _______" responded, loudly, punching his fist into the air, "Special!!!"

May your Sabbath--and week--be special indeed,


Tanner & AnneMarie

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Letter #2

Hola family,

It's been two weeks but I can't tell if it's been a month or two days. Time is weird here. Good news, I'm almost fluent in Portuguese, kinda. The Brazilians can understand me and I get most of what they say. I'm probably speaking at about the level of a five or six year old child but yeah. The gift of tongues is real.

Other than spending my days in a classroom, there's not much else that goes on. I have 45 minutes of physical activity today, normally I play basketball but it's been raining so we are confined to the weight room. Not too bad, as I set up and won a limbo contest. Everyone was super impressed to say the least.

Today, we also went to the Campinas temple, it was gorgeous. It's on a hill overlooking the city of Campinas, which looks super fresh. The city is supposed to be about the size of Dallas, 3 million people or so. Sao Paulo is jacked though. It's the third biggest in the world and has over 20 million people. It's crazy.

In my district, I have three Elders going to Sao Paulo Interlagos, including my companion, Elder Webster. The other five of us are all heading to Campinas. I'll send pictures when I can.

We went to the police station to get our green cards, and purely by chance, Elder Webster ended up sitting by a Nigerian woman who struck up a conversation with us. She is new to Brazil and looking for a Church so she asked for the address of ours, which we gave, good stuff. We also gave her a Book of Mormon and explained it a little. Thankfully she was an English speaker. Then, we talked with a Senegalese man and a Lebanese man who are both working in Brazil. They didn't speak English but I think we still got some good points across.

That's about it.

Love you all and tchou,

Elder Schenewark

Friday, August 18, 2017

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,

Bonus! I forgot your preparation day is on Friday, and realized I had a few more days to write. Not that I want to get out of the Sunday evening tradition of letter writing. So for a few weeks while you're in the Brazilian MTC, you might get a two'fer.

My Brazilian Three'fer

My Brazilian Three-fer Five Years Ago

Hunter checked out a book from the library on chess, only five inches thick. He sat at the table this week with his BYU chess club approved chess kit, think chess pieces three inches tall, and schooled Miller in chess notation. They practiced plays out of the book together. What a gift of time, patience, knowledge...they really have the same analytical thinking ability, and Miller will have the advantage of being schooled in the finer moves of chess.

Hunter found a chess club that meets at the Fort Worth Barnes and Noble, going last week with great anticipation of domination. Unfortunately, no members were as enthusiastic, none even making an appearance. He went again with your father, after having contacted someone by phone, but they went to the wrong store. He's done. He does love some chess.

Uncle Aaron recently challenged Hunter to reclaim the golf and chess crowns, Hunter won before his mission. He's excited to enjoy these familial relationships that make family so sweet.

Breyer, Miller and Sawyer have been getting ready for school, mostly by cleaning out their backpacks, and reloading with school supplies. They had an open house, or meet 'n greet on Monday. It's fun to watch them in their environ. Breyer hugs all the teachers she's acquainted with, which isn't just kindergarten teachers. Music, gym, library...everyone. And they all knew and loved her. Miller went for two, his first and second grade teachers. We lucked out with Miller's teacher, as she's our neighbor up the street. We were hoping to have her for Breyer's kindergarten teacher, but they moved her to fourth grade so Miller gets her. Breyer gets the teacher she wants, the one with the best reputation in kid world, Mrs. Thigpen. She's a hoot. It's a good year all around over at Oak Woods.

On your siblings first day of school Wednesday there were much wailings and gnashing of teeth. Bringing in new supplies to your classroom, meeting your teacher, and maybe trying on new hand-me-downs is exciting, but getting out of bed not so much. Hunter and I spent the morning mowing the acre, but I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate our efforts in the 95 degree but really feels like 102 degrees weather.

Since I worked at night and went to bed, and Dad went into school, Hunter had the house all to himself. He wanted to go to the temple, but he wouldn't have made it back in time with the car for pick up. So he read, played some on line chess, visited the library, ate some more. His usual modus operandi. I think he's hoping to leave first thing in the morning. He might have had an impact involving the beast parked on the driveway, and the new 4 runner, but I won't confirm. I can't believe we go for decades without dings or dents and we have two in a month.

So much more so than when Tanner went to Brazil, and even Hunter, the world is in unrest. Civil and criminal activity abound. Disturbances nationwide are more commonplace. Terrorist attacks continue, and evolve. This week's method includes driving vehicles into crowds here and abroad. Be safe. Be wise. Be vigilant.

You Come Back Home to Me.



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

With All My Love

Dear Elder Schenewark,
Well, your first week is almost down in the books. Hopefully it was one for the record books. Not that I expect it to be full of stats or numbers, but that you've begun on a journey of eternal significance. The impact of the decisions you make, the people you contact, and the spirit you impart will change lives, including your own. 

Right off the start, Hunter doesn't know how to get into your phone. Would you mind giving us the number pattern, so he can use it? Much appreciated!

Second off the line: Be so careful. The day you left I found this article at BBC on line: "Eloise Dixon, her partner and their three children were driving in Angra dos Reis on Sunday, when their car was approached by an armed group. She was shot twice but is recovering , in hospital. Ms Dixon's family were unhurt. The family had apparently been searching for water to buy in Angra dos Reis - a coastal resort about 90 miles (145 km) from Rio de Janeiro but they ended up in the Agua Santa - or holy water - community because of a difficulty in understanding the language. The slum area is known to have drug traffickers."

Stay on course, hold to the rod, obey all the rules!

Two days after you left Sawyer and Miller competed in their golf tournament at the Granbury Country Club. While I was dropping them off, and making sure they were registered, a man noticed my shirt I and said, "Hey, is that a shirt for the B#j*h@ team?" Of course, my startled answer was, "Hmm?" He said, "I'm a fan of team B^g!l%s, so it's cool you're wearing a shirt for B#j*h@. "Yeah." I was wearing your shirt because you had just left. He put a smile on my face. You would have enjoyed your shirt being recognized.

Miller took a first place, while Sawyer, after a long 18, got cut out of the top three by one stroke.

Hunter has been taking the duo golfing every day. Usually they wait until the end of the day, when it starts to cool down from a stifling 98 to a dewy 87. But at the end of the day they all drop into bed. He told your grandma he came off his mission, excited to get married and have at least 12 children. Now, after being the babysitter for a few weeks, he's down to 3 and it's rapidly dwindling. Funny!

Hunter will be traveling to Boston shortly to visit your grandparents. He then has a direct flight out to BYU. He's getting excited.

When he was released, the stake president asked him to attend the singles ward, so they could feel of his strength and testimony. So today was the day. He had to find a ride, and his ride had before AND after meetings, so he was gone a really long time. Next week is our last Sunday before he leaves, and I forbade him from being anywhere except by my side. But he was obedient and went.

We have yet to do anything to the van. I really need to get Cooper into driver's education.

Your father will be excited to get his library back. You were in hibernation since April, and now Hunter is in isolation for just under two more weeks. Your father misses his happy place.

Monday will be the end of summer. Your younger siblings begin school Wednesday. It's wash day. It's put the house back together after the summer, our eight visitors, our two sons coming and going, all the summer boy's bad. My goal is to get the house back together before Christmas. Just joking.

One such task involves Breyer's bed. Last night she wanted to go to bed with her usual cold pack, and grabbed a bag of popcorn out of the freezer. It was clipped closed, but I didn't know that was her choice of cold. The next thing I know, a spilling sound occurred. Kernels every where! In the sheets, in her nightgown, under the bed. Joy.

Charade, an old movie with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, was the movie of choice this weekend. There are a few end of life scenes, discreetly done compared to today's versions, in the movie. And at bedtime, your sister put her hands on her hips and declared: "You expect me to sleep in my own bed after watching murder?"

We look forward to hearing from you. We miss you.

You come back to me.