Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Week 82 - A Busy Week in Madera

  I actually feel incredibly blessed that I get to write to Elder Schaff and get responses from him on a weekly basis. This has not always been the case for missionaries, and I am sure that it is still not the standard in some areas. The fact that we have heard from him every week since he entered the MTC is incredible. That being said, sometimes our family asks a question and he doesn't respond, so we have to wait another week and hope that we get it resolved. Sometimes he writes and asks for things and we forget to answer, it goes both ways, and it does get frustrating. So, every week there are definite priorities. Lately, I have wanted to know if he received his replacement driver's license, how things are going with the companionship, and we have being communicating back and forth about his release date. This week, he asked for help tracking down replacement heads for his electric razor. Luckily, I found some on Amazon and was able to ship them to him. I wanted to know what kind of Easter candy he wants me to send, which is actually more serious than it sounds. I work at a Niagara Chocolate store for the 3 weeks before Easter each year and so, there are many choices, but I know that Hayden loves milk chocolate orange sponge candy. What a great thing it is that we can discuss all of these things, and hear about his mission experiences too. Here is his email from week 82-

"That's exciting that you get to put some time in at the candy store again Mom!

Sponge candy or orange milk chocolate would be fine, thanks.

While I'm petitioning for gifts, some razor heads would be nice. My razor says "Replace with Philips H056 Heads" I can't ever seem to find them, but maybe I'm not looking hard enough. Think you could send those when you send the other stuff? I'll hold out until then. 

This week we had 6 key events in Madera:

-Zone Conference on technology!
-We found an investigator named Unique!
-Exchange with my Spanish Elders!
-Taught Seminary class!
-Exchange with my English Elders!
-We gave some awesome talks in Sacrament meeting!
(Bonus: We taught a Jehovah's Witness and neither side Bible bashed!)

Zone Conference was mostly on how to use technology appropriately and be prepared for when it comes in April. (the California Fresno Mission is going to have smart phones for each missionary) But there were many spiritual teachings woven into it, and part of the training was watching a video where Elder Bednar and Elder Nielsen teach about the use of technology. Their insights made a temporal thing quite spiritual!

That Tuesday night we found Unique. She is very spiritual, and though we had met her previously, she has decided to officially investigate, as of this week. She read chapter 1 of 1st Nephi and understood what she read exceptionally well. She even referred some friends to hear the message and told them they really needed it. Hopefully it will go further, so she will have the Gospel in her life!

I went with my Spanish Elders on Wednesday, and we had a great exchange with some spiritual moments. I helped the Elders improve on their teaching skills. They were doing really well though. 

I finished our exchange and did the interviews Thursday morning, then went to exchange with our English Elders. But in between, I snuck away with my companions in the morning so we could fill an assignment of covering seminary class for the teacher. We bought donuts and did the Atonement Donut lesson. This involves having a student do 10 push-ups to earn a donut, and then having to do an additional 10 for each student in the class so that they can have a donut. Even if they reject the gift, 10 push-ups are still done to give the example of the Atonement. The lesson went well. Our volunteer managed to do 160 push-ups! We did the last 20 with him!

Anyway, the same thing on the English exchange. This District has some good Elders. Future leaders here. I helped them learn some more teaching skills, and following the Spirit, but they are on fire in the work already.

Apparently while I was gone, my companions didn't do too well together, but I think the Lord's helping them grow. Their personalities are so different, that they clash all the time, and I need to keep the peace. But we teach well and if we're not doing poorly we're doing great. Everyone's growing a lot! We set some goals this weekend and are doing much better now.

We were assigned Sacrament talks on missionary work. Elder L. spoke on how we can do the work and take courage in it. Elder C. spoke on how we can convert every day moments to missionary moments, and I hit it home teaching on the joy of missionary work. The Spirit really flowed and the combination of the three themes seemed to strike the hearts of the members. It was also one of the best talks I've given. I followed Elder Bednar's advice and ditched the notes (save it were for some bullet points and guidelines) and gave about 90% of the talk looking at the people. It was awesome and the Spirit was there.

Sunday afternoon we taught a guy named Paul who spoke with us on Thursday. He is a Jehovah's Witness that wants to learn more about who we are, but honestly. He doesn't want to argue or bash. We had a long lesson discussing some Bible passages, but testified at the end of the Book of Mormon and Restored truths. He told us that he cannot currently read the Book of Mormon, but would like to hear of prophecies from it and some key teachings to learn what it is all about and see if he should read it. It will be interesting. We'll hope for the best. He may not end up reading, but he'll at least know the truth of why he needs to by the end of next time. It was funny, one of his quotes was along these lines: "I've compared the fruits of many churches and have decided it has to be yours or mine, the others don't seem to fit."

Though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not typically popular in this world, those who see it's fruits come to know that it upholds everything that Christ upheld. (For it is His church!) I rejoice to serve as part of this Body of Christ.

Thought of the week: Feel that Shulehouse rock! In Ether Chapter 7 you can read an account of some of the Jaredites. One of them is a man named Shule, who restores order to the nation after his brother rebelled and messed things up. Shule established righteousness again and even forgave his brother, who then repented and the whole kingdom prospered and had joy because they were righteous. We need to be more like Shule, willing to work, stand for righteousness, and willing to forgive. What if he had not forgiven? Though blessed, he may have had his brother rebel again, as seen in other chapters of Ether. So the next time you need a random scripture hero, Shule is your man.

Love you family!  

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Photos of Elder Schaff from the CFM Blog

  President and Sister Mackay keep a mission blog, and when I spy photos of Elder Schaff, I save them. Here are a few from the January 2018 transfer hub and Zone Conference and the February transfer hub. https://californiafresnomission.blogspot.com

January 2018 Transfer Hub

January Zone Conference North 1/23/18

Elder B and Elder Schaff are on the top right

Elder Schaff standing behind Elder Ennis in lower right corner.

Elder Schaff is third from the left in the top photo.

Elder Baconawa giving his farewell testimony in lower right corner.

Elder Schaff in both bottom photos and Elder Baconawa in top right

Elder B jumping, 1st missionary on the left

Elder Schaff at the February transfer hub, upper left corner

Week 81 - An Unexpected Birthday Card, Zone Conference and More

  I went out and grabbed the mail from our mailbox last Tuesday and was so excited to see a card addressed to me in Elder Schaff's handwriting. He had mailed me a birthday card and I was really overwhelmed by all that he wrote to me. I think he has grown a lot while he has been serving his mission, and is definitely more aware of others and their concerns and feelings. Receiving that birthday card really made my day! He wrote multiple emails to multiple family members this week, the main one was sent to his dad, but I did get a short response. Here is all of his news for week 81.

Birthday card that Elder Schaff sent to Mom

  "Thanks Mom. Well, I wrote most of it to Dad and I don't have much time left today, so hopefully you can get it from him, because I'd also like to respond to Maura.

  This transfer is a 5-week transfer. What I didn't realize is that change will apparently move my release date to July 25th. That's what my Zone Leader, Elder K said. (We were in the MTC together, but different Districts.) So that could be interesting.

  The rain came this week. I took pictures, but forgot to bring my camera today. Sorry!

  I'll try to employ your counsel in our companionship. Thank you for your support Mom, I'm always grateful for your help.


--Elder Schaff

"Hi Dad, how are things?

  What's this business of a new truck? That looks pretty fancy! But you're going to be (able to be) giving a lot more service now that you've got a truck!

  Thank you for your spiritual thought, that's a good thing to consider. it's easy to get close to the Lord after some time of service to Him. It's hard to get close to companions or individuals that are more dynamic in personality. We're having a lot of good laughs, but planning together is our biggest struggle. The Elder that had this area has really just given up on visiting members, and the other Elder doesn't believe himself capable enough to plan for a foreign area. So, somehow I'm leading planning with 2 weeks of experience! But whatever, if that's what I need to do, so be it. It's not been the easiest road, but that's how it goes. We can do better when we all get involved, but I'll pull the weight I'm given. That's the companionship scoop.

  This week has been rainy, which limited our ability to talk to people. It seems like everyone hid inside and didn't want to open the door when it was rainy. We found one solid guy that loves Mustangs on Saturday. It was the highlight of our finding. We'll be visiting him tomorrow if it works out. He was interested in discovering the purpose of his life and what God wants him to do. I'm learning a lot of the members as well. We'll see if I end up being transferred or if that knowledge will come in handy. I'm not sure what President will have me do in future transfers. I could stay here in Madera, or get shipped to some area and asked to train a new missionary. I could even become a Zone Leader, but something tells me President won't have me do that.

  I've been the peacekeeper when arguments have broken out a few times in the companionship. When it's been my fault, the Spirit seems to have helped me recognize my errors quickly, so I can ask forgiveness and repent. I am doing quite well, but the area is a challenge, as it always seems to have been.

  I finished the book of Mormon (the prophet) this week and started Ether. I was amazed at quite a few gems I pulled out about the Atonement, the purpose of us having the Book of Mormon in our day, and about how Heavenly Father will fulfill His covenant to Israel. It was also incredible to ponder that Mormon did all of that on the run from Lamanites and at the head of the opposing army. 

  This passage teaches about the Atonement and what we should do to reach a state of everlasting happiness. In the end it's simple. And this man knew it well. He was a great example of faith, hope, and diligence. Especially when nobody else around him was.

Mormon Chapter 7:5-8

Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up.
And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment-seat.
And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.
Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews, which record shall come from the Gentiles unto you.

  I'm ready for another week. Who knows what it'll bring, but I'll give my all! Tomorrow is Zone Conference as well. It will be good to see President and get some trainings from that.

Love ya Dad!

--Elder Schaff

Week 80 - Adventures in our Toyota Corolla

  This last week we took our girls to Florida, so I found myself writing to Elder Schaff at the airport before we flew back home. I had a hard time piecing together what I wanted to say, but in the end, got it done. I was happy to get his email later that evening. His new area is Madera, and he now has two companions to serve with until the next transfer. I'm not sure that driving dirt roads in a Toyota Corolla was a wise choice, I wonder what Elder Noyes would say to that?!

"Well, it's been a week.

  It hasn't been all that great to be honest, we had a sick Elder for a little bit and spent way too much time in the apartment. It's a one-bedroom apartment in fact, and with 3 Elders that makes for some apartment fever!

  The new area of Madera would be wonderful, if I were a Spanish missionary in a Spanish proselyting area, but alas, I'm confined to English for another transfer. It felt so wrong to tell a Spanish person the other day: "We have some Spanish missionaries that will be able to share more with you the next time, would you be alright with that?" I am a Spanish missionary, but I have to send interested people to the Spanish Elders. That's weird.

  Well, I've been studying the maps of Madera a bit, but I haven't gotten to know the area too well. That makes for tough planning, and a tough time helping our new companion out, Elder Corless. There's been some difficulties making the adjustment, and it's been stressful for him because he's now had 4 companions in the last 2 weeks. Also, his previous companion (not the Puerto Rico one) was not much of a fan of doing missionary work, so the area has been roughed up a bit, to say the least.

  The apartment was a mess when we arrived, I didn't take a picture beforehand, but I should have, the change was drastic. We scraped by on food, thanks to the fact that I brought peanuts and almonds from Chowchilla (ha ha!) We had Ramen as a back up, but we really didn't have anything too good this last week. It was a blessing to shop and buy things I like to make!!!

  We found 4 people to teach this week, but get this, they are all Young Single Adult aged, so we get jack! We have to refer them to the YSA Ward missionaries.

  Going back a little I guess, (it seems so long ago, I almost forgot it!) Monday night we drove down to President Mackay's house and arrived about 9:30 pm. We talked with him, Elder Corless, Elder Hales, and the Assistants, and then went to sleep. The beds in the guest room were super comfy and had blankets that reminded me of mine back home. I slept quite well. We woke up on Tuesday, had french toast with President and Sister Mackay, and went off to the Stake Center, because it was our Zone's day for interviews. During breakfast I asked President about a question I had from 3 Nephi 19, which he was able to explain to me. I've had a great time reading through 3 Nephi as I mark a lesson on every page of the Book of Mormon. I've come to understand the doctrines and the principles of the gospel more fully.

 Then we had interviews with the President, long time no see! He shared a vision for the mission of finding and supporting "the one" to reach baptism in March. He hopes every companionship will bring someone to the Gospel in March. We'll see if we can find anyone we don't have to give away! I also took a picture with my district there.

  The middle of the week was rough and slow. I'll just skip it.

  On Saturday we had our "off-roading adventure." Don't worry, we didn't actually go off road, nor do anything bad. We got a referral at the very edge of our area, 19 miles out in the rolling hills near Yosemite that I didn't even know existed. Well the house was a ranch way up in there, and the GPS routed us what we'll call "the adventure way." It was a road that hasn't been maintained for 3 years apparently. If you've ever played Hill Climb Racing, we did it in real life. We went up a bunch of dirt road hills in a Toyota Corolla. We scouted each hill to see if we would actually be able to get the car up it. We only got stuck on a hill once and had to go back down and then throttle at full speed to make it the next time. But don't worry mom, I made sure to let Elder L do the driving while I guided him from the side of the hill. No way was I accidentally slipping down a hillside in a car that didn't make it up the incline!

  Then Stake Conference on Sunday. Very spiritual, but not helpful in meeting members.

  That was the week. I hope to give you more of a report on the efforts of proselyting next week. I also finished 3 Nephi this week, which was great! I feel like a gathering of Israel champ now!

--Elder Schaff

Off roading in the hills near Yosemite.

Elder Schaff scouting the road.

Elders Laughlin and Corless

Where is the GPS routing us?!

"the adventuresome way"

Sunset in the hills.

​Off roading in the hills. The computer didn't take my camera card today, so I'll send the other photos next week!

Week 79 - Out with the Old and in with the New Companion

  I am always anxious to hear from Elder Schaff on Mondays, and to be honest, I never know what he will tell us. I knew that Elder B had finished his mission and would return home, and that he would get a new companion, but I did not anticipate them being transferred to a new area one week after transfers were put into place! Mission life is a roller coaster of change. Here is all of his news, and some photos too.

Elder Schaff saying good bye to Elder Baconawa

New companion, Elder Laughlin
 "There goes Elder Baconawa, and here comes Elder Laughlin! Elder L and I are doing wonderfully together and having laughs along the way. He's been carrying his camera around as well, so he's actually gotten some pictures of Chowchilla that I ought to have landed. I'll see if I can get them from him!

  But the big news is far more than a new companion, it's a new everything. We got a call Wednesday afternoon around 1:00 pm, from none other than President Mackay. He told us we are being emergency transferred!!! What?! I thought this is just a thing that happens to other missionaries, not me! But we're leaving today! We have to be at the mission home at 8:30 pm tonight. (Monday, February 19th)

  It happened because Elder Hales has to return to Puerto Rico. If you remember the 3 missionaries from Puerto Rico, Elders Bradford, Allen, and Hales, the first two were taken back in December and January, and now Elder Hales is leaving. Because of the hurricanes they were taken off the island, but the island has been stabilized quicker than they expected, so back they go. It created a vacancy in leadership in our mission though! President called me to be a District Leader again, and apparently the Lord needs me to be a District Leader in Madera instead of Merced. (Because Elder Hales was the District Leader!)

  "Well that happened." This has been Elder L and I's catchphrase. whenever stuff happens to us, we say it.  We've been having good laughs as we go along, but we both know when it's time to get reverent and a bit more serious and do so when we need to. We've been working hard and did everything we could to bless Chowchilla before we left. We set things in order and said good-byes to as many as possible, while giving our final testimonies to them. This had enough of a spiritual effect to inspire one of these members to return to activity!
  I was also impressed with Elder L. Day one we sat down together and discussed goals for the transfer and what we want to do, who we want to become, and how we're going to achieve it. We made a great plan of action to really do this work the Lord's way and give some consecrated service. His desire to do what is right and to improve has been wonderful.  We're both going to Madera together, so things will be alright. We'll join Elder Corless there, and be a companionship of 3 for 5 weeks! It may not have the same dynamic with three, but we'll do our best to make it work out. I believe this is the Madera First Ward, an English Ward in a Spanish area, so it should be interesting. Hopefully the finding of people to teach isn't as rough as Chowchilla, that can be a downer!
  That's about what I've got for you this week. My study of the Book of Mormon led me through 3 Nephi chapters 16-20 this week, (chapters of Jesus Christ's ministry to the Nephites.) and I pulled out a lot of wonderfully spiritual teachings from those passages. One of the better moments was when I sat pondering the meaning of the ring of fire encircling the people and also the ministering of angels in words that cannot be uttered and written. Then I made the connection after some prayer, examination of footnotes, and consideration. I felt that the ring of fire and what happened inside were the full spiritual power of the Holy Ghost. What took place in the circle were celestial things, things so great that the only way they could be described to us is "an unspeakable (or unimaginable, or marvelous) joy" that the people felt.  It was really cool to put that together and fathom slightly better just how great the eternal life our Heavenly Father has prepared for us will be, if we will just endure to the end and do what is right! 

--Elder Schaff

Bonus: Elder Laughlin's camera roll:

Spring has arrived in Chowchilla, there are blossoms.

Elder Schaff with his red bike.

Elder Laughlin and Elder Schaff

Elder L by metal animals
Main road in Chowchilla lined with palm trees.

The yee yee truck.
Silly faces, fun companion moments. 

Saying good bye to members in the Chowcilla area.

Elder L holding a chinchilla. 

We made a silly face, finally snapped the shot of the metal animals, saw a truck that said "Yee yee!" and took a picture of Chowchilla's main road with it's lovely palm trees. These are indeed the most interesting things in Chowchilla.

​We held a chinchilla in Chowchilla!!! Match that! (I didn't remember to get a picture of me holding it, but it was so soft!!!)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Week 78 - Same Area, New Companion

  I knew that transfers were hitting this week in the CFM. Elder Schaff knew he would have a new companion, as Elder B has completed his mission, and is returning home this week. So, he told us about his new companion, and that he will remain in his current area of Chowcilla for the next 6 weeks. Here is the news directly from Elder Schaff-

  "Alright, the workings of Chowchilla:

  Yes, Elder Baconawa is departing. It's been crazy, as he's tried to prepare his travel plans. He is trying to change his Visa status, and all should be well for him to do that actually, but it's been a process.

  Transfer calls came, and I will be staying in Chowchilla. My companion will be Elder Laughlin. I have been called to be a District Leader once again. President informed me that he would hold off on me training for now. He responded to my revelation concerning the area, and said that he did actually feel in agreement of that revelation, (that it should be closed for 2-4 transfer cycles) but that he would like to delay a transfer further to execute it. So, that's the conclusion of that matter, a bit odd, but I'll take it.

  To be honest, I wasn't the happiest of campers the night when I was told I'd be staying in Chowchilla, but I accounted to the Lord for whatever anger I'd felt there the next day, and was relieved with the part 2 call that I'd receive Elder L. (Transfer calls are Saturday and Sunday here, to reduce gossip) Elder L came in when I was first in the Mission Office. He has good energy and isn't too tense or disagreeable. I've been around him a bit at various missionary meetings and he's been quite nice. I think everything will work out nicely, he'll help Chowchilla out and help me figure out what we're going to do for a whole new 6 weeks.

  But to answer your question, if I was training, I would stay with a companionship for Tues-Thursday morning and then meet my trainee on Thursday.

  We made some Melchizedek Priesthood rescue visits this week, once again. We also went out to the country and visited the members out there. Quiet again.

  Elder B and I have become good friends. These last two weeks we really bonded. I'll catch him through the web once he's gone! He was grateful for my love and friendship, reporting that he has had many rough companionships. I'm glad I could end that on a good note.

  Well, that's that. I finished Psalms this week. I found an Old Testament Seminary guide in the apartment, (this being a few weeks ago) and made my O.T. study plan of action. I read the summaries of Genesis to 2nd Chronicles, but I read Ruth, cause why not? It's 4 chapters. Then I decided I'd start in Ezra, and go forward, skipping Song of Solomon of course. So I've read Ezra-Psalms. I was never a fan of Psalms because random people would try to sell their doctrine using them, but it would be completely out of context. My appreciation of Psalms did increase though. It was still a search for quality spiritual truths, but they are in there. The best ones mainly teach us of the nature of God or Christ, (gotta pay attention to the context of what "Lord" we're talking about.) or of the righteous Saints and the house of Israel.

   I study about 20 minutes of the O.T. a day, and 40 of the Book of Mormon. I plan to reduce the O.T. time to study Preach My Gospel more though.

  Finally, some pictures of our companionship, our district,​ and muscles!!! Ha ha. We've had a good transfer.

Our District

Elder Schaff and Elder Baconawa

Our companionship


--Elder Schaff
PS- I've been gaining weight! (Muscle I hope) Elder Baconawa and I have been hitting the local gym each morning for exercise, and he's been working me good! I should have taken before and after pictures of my biceps, ha ha! So now I'm 175 lbs, but I feel alright with that. I haven't developed a large gut or anything, so I feel great.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Week 77 - Final Week with Elder B

  Well, Hayden didn't have too much to say this week. It's the final week of his companion's mission, Elder B returns home next week. Then Hayden will get a new companion and most likely a new area. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has announced changes to multiple mission boundaries, you can read all of the details in the press release in Mormon Newsroom, but two California missions will be consolidated into the surrounding missions, and Hayden and I were talking about that. Seems that the Fresno mission will expand to take on part of the Modesto mission. It shouldn't effect him too much, may just expand the area to serve in. Here is the email that he sent me this week-

"Hi Mom,

  Yes, we were informed of the boundary change. It will probably be as it was in previous years. We had a part of Modesto, not too long ago, according to history. Elder Baconawa actually came out earlier, and then went home, and returned afterward. He actually served out in Modesto during that time!

  Well, I'm not on time pressure, but I feel like I am, because Elder B hardly emails, and then just sits and waits for me to finish, which makes me feel bad that he's just there waiting... hopefully he's picked up the scriptures or something.

  Transfers are indeed next week. I fasted and prayed all throughout this last week and felt impressed that Chowchilla should be closed down for 2-4 transfers due to some of the conditions here and the apparent schedule conflicts during this "winter" season. Many people we visit have things going on for whatever reason, and want us to come by in a month or two. Those we do visit, only meet once, maybe twice a week, and so I have reached the conclusion that a rest would do some good here. So I responded to the assignment President gave me; ultimately he makes the decisions, but time will tell what happens.

  I have been studying the "First 12 weeks" booklet that is used in training, in case I am called to do so. I have read my journal a bit, but will read through more of it. I have found that the major frustrations (during my training) were not feeling loved, feeling the fear of failure, and being forced to do things I didn't think I could do. I think ever since then, I've been an understanding and supportive companion, and tried to avoid those problems. Every companionship, however, has had some sort of argument because my companion didn't like something I did, but was fearful of telling me. I'll have to figure out how to make people confident they can tell me. I invite correction at any time, and in the weekly planning, but maybe because I try so hard to keep the peace, it creates an atmosphere of fear to correct.

  It's good to hear that Dad is home again and that Sydney is doing well (she emailed me). Seems like most of the family is doing pretty good, but there's a lot of sickness going around, huh? It's been a bad year for illness. It's probably worse in the cold. It's getting up to the 70's down here and we fear that summer is already on its way back. If that's the case, I'm not prepared. 75 already feels too hot to work much!

  There's not a whole lot more going on right now. The weeks are quiet and so is Elder B. He told me last weekly planning, that he has enjoyed my efforts to hold a conversation, even when he's very quiet, so that was good to hear. You never know what someone's thinking if they don't talk!

  Finally, Elder Noyes secured a Hmong tie for me, since we made friends of the new Hmong Elders at Hmong New Year's. So I've gotten some nice treasures. Well, have a nice week, I'm sure news will come in the next!

--Elder Schaff​