Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Week 100 - Zone Conference, Water Balloons, & Mold

  It's week 100 of the mission, wow! When my kids were younger, they had big celebrations on the 100th day of school, so I feel that we need to celebrate. 100 weeks is 700 days, so maybe some serious celebrations. Honestly, I am rejoicing, because I am on the final count down, just 8 more days and I will see Elder Schaff in person! Not on Face Time, not on a Skype call, but face to face, and I honestly can't wait for that hug. It will be good, it's time, as his email is VERY short this week and he basically said, I will tell you about it in person, so, mentally, he is also winding down. Here is his short email-

  "Well I have almost no time, but I will hope the stories are told in pictures.

  Zone Conference was this week. Amazing day, I gave my departing testimony. It was a great experience. I was filled with the Spirit, and many others also had a good time. I'll have to describe that better when I have more time. Maybe in person? I have 5 pages in my journal on that night.

  We have no email time because we were having a Zone water balloon fight! It was a great activity! Everyone got involved!

  And the other pictures....we cleaned mold for service! Talk next week!"

-Elder Schaff

Zone Water Balloon Fight 7-17-18

Elder Schaff and other missionaries cleaning up mold for a service project.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Week 99 - "Trials, a Birthday, and Yosemite Take 2"

  I kept looking at my email late in the day on Monday, and began to wonder why Elder Schaff had not written yet. Then suddenly several emails hit my inbox and that was that. Turns out that Hayden and his entire district were able to go to Yosemite and hike, so he returned late and had limited email time, but it sounds like they had a fun adventure outdoors. For the first time, he is also sounding tired, a little burned out, and ready to come home. He has been packing up, and last week a box arrived at our home, he sent home sweaters and extra ties, so I can tell he is starting to purge his belongings. He is giving us "closing perspectives," so, he is definitely feeling like it's the end of his mission and he is pondering the experience as a whole. Two more weeks and we can all be together again!! I am very excited, I miss him, it will be nice to get that hug!

  "Hey family!
   (And anyone who may read this!)

  This week posed some challenges. The heat really worked us over. Some of the people we teach slowed their spiritual progress; many were unable to meet with us, save it be one time this week.

  Stress got the better of us a bit as well. We've been asked to do a lot of ministering to our zone, and Elder Fuller and I were asked to give a training during Zone Conference on Wednesday. (My last official training!) There's a lot to do every day, and it is tiring! Yet we survived this week, so we can go one more!

  I feel like the Lord made sure to set the missions as a two-year commitment, because I know I can give my all for the remaining time for sure. If it was any longer, it would be difficult to maintain the willpower!

  You're probably wondering about round two of Yosemite! Well, our district leader and his companion managed to organize a way for all 11 members of the district to go up to Yosemite. We had another great time. This trip we saw Wawona point, Glacier point, and Yosemite falls. You drive up to the points, but there is a short hike at Glacier point for a different view. 

  The points view the Yosemite "valley," (because is it really a valley at 5,000 feet?) and one begins to comprehend the vast expanses of nature while looking there. The view also features Vernal falls off in the distance, the one we hiked last trip. Above Vernal falls to the right is Nevada falls. Maybe we missed the opportunity to see that the previous trip!

  Yosemite falls apparently flows with white water in the spring, but its run-off was very calm for the July heat. There's a bridge you can stand on and admire it from, which is the extent of a spring trip, but because the rocks were dry, we went further! We actually hiked through the (mostly) dry river bed (there were some pools of water and small streams) and even up on some steep rocks past the waterfall. There was a little crevice we climbed up into and took pictures from behind the first view; these turned out wonderfully. This trip allowed me to take in a lot more of Yosemite, so I was grateful for the chance to go a second time!

  Elder F's birthday was Friday, July 6th. As the first birthday tends to go in the mission, it wasn't the most glamorous day, but I think he still had a good day. We had Mission Leadership Council that day, and definitely started with a joyful morning being able to do that. President got everyone to sing happy birthday for him too! I got to lead the "Called to Serve, California Fresno Mission style!" song at the end of lunch, to thank the cooks. We do this a lot in our meetings, hopefully this is an understandable reference. It was a good moment!
  The Modesto missionaries were merged into our mission on July 1st, so their leaders were at MLC too. Those were the only ones I will get to meet before I go home!

  I finished 1, 2, and 3rd John this week, plus Jude. I continued marking the differences between the new updated Preach My Gospel, and the old one. (It was updated 2 weeks ago, only on Gospel Library in English.) The changes are very inspiring!

  I'm reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish, whenever I study it right now. I'm at 2 Nefí 16. I might not finish the Spanish read through on my mission, but I will most definitely get it done! I understand a lot more of the archaic Spanish now. I've learned a lot as well from those read throughs. Keep reading the Book of Mormon, there are so many promised blessings for doing so!

  I read Revelation 1-3 this morning during the car ride to Yosemite. Using the institute study guide, and Joseph Smith Translations, I had a miracle occur: I actually understood everything I read. I guess I have spiritually matured! 

  I have a deep and abiding love for the scriptures. That is a great blessing the mission gave me.

  There's been a theme I've pondered a lot recently: life's priorities. I had a nice spiritual moment Sunday morning where I came to the conclusion that if you have set your number one life priority as being good with God, you will be successful. You will feel accomplished, and look back on life with few regrets; because God will make all other aspects of life worth their while to you. I pondered my mission and my experiences, and decided that that was true of me, even though I have faced many long days, many trials, and even moments where I doubted I could succeed in what the Lord has asked me to do. Looking back, I see that I accomplished much. So if you want a missionary's closing perspective, that's it!

  That's all I can think to say! I'll send the pictures in a moment here."

- Elder Schaff 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Week 98- Shoes & Sheep

  Sounds like Elder Schaff had a good birthday last Friday, he split his news between emails to me and his Dad again this week.

  "I did open my birthday box on Friday. It was a great birthday! Much better than last year's difficulties. We actually went on an exchange with two companionship's down in Fresno that day. It was for us to help the District Leader down there; he was concerned for them.

  So, I was smart and opened the tape and everything on the stuff on the 28th, but didn't look at it. Then I had fulfilled the rules, so I was able to enjoy everything Friday morning. Thank you so much for the package! 20 of most everything was creative and fun for the day. We will enjoy the things you sent us.

  This week went quite well, I described the week best in a letter to Dad, so I may just copy and forward that part so I can get all the highlights to you. No sense in re-writing a good piece.

  I'm really enjoying the end of my mission here. I feel extremely blessed, and know I will be well prepared for life to come after all of this.

  Also, for Dad, I think he asked me my hottest day in the mission. Parlier hit 114º one day. We'll see if July will push it higher this year. It's always unpleasant to be outside this time of year, but we get by. People appreciate our efforts as well, when it's hot like that."

--Elder Schaff

  "Hey Dad!

  How's it going? We had a wonderful week of miracles and blessings as we served with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. On Wednesday, (Maura's birthday!) we got up at 6:15 and used just about every minute of the day to bless others, all the way to calling and supporting other missionaries until 10:25 at night. It was a 100% consecrated day, and it blessed me greatly; I experienced a great spiritual growth.

  What are you doing (types of jobs/tasks) at work this week? I just found out today that Elder Fuller's dad is also an accountant.
  I continue to see the Lord's hand extended to bless us, and even myself personally. The area started to take flight. We found another friend, María, she will definitely reach the waters of baptism at some future date as long as we continue to be patient. She is the wife to be of a member in the ward, who flew her in from Mexico so that they could get married and she could stay here. She's seen how the Gospel blessed his life, and wants to learn more. She is very interested in the Book of Mormon as well!

  Some other potentials that Elder Fuller and I have contacted also became friends. We were able to work with some of them, and we currently have about 7 friends that are solid to actually meet with us and progress.

  We began a sports night for the youth; it was a great success. Elder Fuller and I have made a goal to go forth and contact all the youth, there are 89 on the records for just the 12-17 age group. This has been a prosperous endeavor, because the Ward has decided to really support our efforts in this, and we see opportunities to involve them. Additionally, we are finding many part-member families, as many less-active youth are kids that past missionaries baptized, that did indeed have faith, but no support system.

  It gets better! Elder Fuller found an activity stemming from Elder Bednar's quote about technology: "Turn the trickle into a flood," a media tag called "#SweeptheEarth. We've been making videos and post according to this 30 day challenge, and it's allowed us to get something going, since media hasn't been a big tool in Spanish work. We are obtaining more contacts via Facebook Messenger as well when we street contact. I know the Lord has provided Elder Fuller for me this last transfer to fully consecrate each moment, and accomplish all that we can. Elder Fuller has helped me improve my character in ways that are super valuable for days to come after the mission. The Lord is doing great things with me Dad!"

-Love ya Dad!

Exchange with the Assistants to the President

Teaching a lesson to kids at President's house with some other Elders.

After nearly 2 years I ripped through the shoes I brought out. Good thing I brought 2 pairs!!!

And someone is keeping sheep in Madera! 

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Week 97 - Birthday Week

  Elder Schaff turns 20 this Friday. I sent him a birthday box earlier in the month, hoping he could pick it up at the last transfer hub. It contained 20 things for his 20th birthday. I asked friends on Facebook to email him and wish him a happy birthday on his preparation day yesterday. He said he had a lot of emails and it was great, so thank you everyone.His dad has been extremely busy at work the last several weeks and they have not been able to write back and forth much, so his comments were mostly directed to his dad this week. Also, we received his flight plan to return home on July 25th, so we are just one month away! Here are the emails that his dad and I received. I had taken a screen shot of his forecast, it is so HOT there compared to western NY, and this was his response. 

  "What, 101º? If we keep to that, we'll rejoice! The car thermometer keeps reaching 107º!"


Thank you so much for that. That is a wonderful email. (Mom also noted that you were busy and let me know you might not have enough time. I would've lived without it, but I'm very grateful for your message!)

The days do indeed speed away. Sometimes they seem slow when the heat becomes tangible, but we get through them none-the-less. We figured we might bike more, but as we talk to everyone we meet, we mostly have appointments and potential enough to keep us busy all day! We started an initiative to strengthen the youth here as well, which was well-received by the Ward.

I have become a much better man. The change has been gradual, but Elder Schaff 2018 form is a much stronger individual than Elder Schaff 2016 form. Your emails have often lifted and inspired me, and I'm really just infinitely grateful for you and mom and our family.

Interesting that you note happiness, kindness, and other lessons. I have learned all of them. But I know you have not forgotten them. Even though you cite a time in your life when you didn't do as well, I bet you were aware of it. I remember you telling me as a kid: "I found out recently that optimists live longer son, and I realized that I don't always do that, so I've been trying to change the way I think." For whatever reason that little tid-bit of information permanently recorded in my mind. You've always been a good example of setting goals to accomplish something better in life, whether actions or character adjustments.

I pray for you often that work will be well. I know you can manage it! I'll contribute what I can to helping the family while I'm there! I think I can teach Sydney and Maura a thing or two!

The Lord surely has blessed us. I am bound to have a wonderful birthday after all the love I received today in email. Many people contacted me.

It is uncertain if I will make it to send mom an email. Hopefully I will. If not, express my love for her and keeping me posted!

-Love you Dad!

--Elder Schaff

  "Thank you so much Mom!

So many people emailed me today!

Dad did manage to email me, (more than he usually ever does!) So I focused my response more to him.

Know that I love you equally though, but I have run out of time here! We have to get from Madera to Fresno to fellowship the rest of our Zone playing sports there today,and attending to Elder Royce's district meeting, his 1st one!

Thank you for that quote!!!!! I wrote it down and I have plans to use it already. Know that that was a significant boost for me.

I love you Mom!!!!"

--Elder Schaff

Hayden's birthday package, hopefully he saves it until Friday!

20 Items to mark his 20th birthday- from 20 sticks of gum, 20 pieces of candy, 20 pens, 20 stamps, to $20 cash and a $20 gift card to Subway, plus some party supplies and cake mix that bakes in a mug and 20 candles too!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

More Photos from Yosemite and the Hike to Vernal Falls from June 4th, 2018

Week 96 - News from Madera

  It was nice to receive more than just a few short lines of email from Elder Schaff today. The new companionship is working well, they are busy and happy and found some new people to talk with and teach this week. Here is the missionary news from Hayden in Madera-

  "Hi Mom,

  Things are going pretty well for me. Looks like that's a lot of construction on the house though! Wow, life will be brand new once I return!

  I didn't really want to have transfers happen, but it was of course, a change for the better. I received Elder Fuller, and it has been a good week! We found these two guys named Salvino and Maldamar, just sitting on their porch. We asked if we could introduce ourselves and they invited us to sit down and talk. We did just that, and began to transition the conversation to our missionary purpose. "S" asked about why there were so many churches, and we explained the great apostasy. It really clicked with him and he became excited to hear more. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he's been reading it!

  Because I had to lead the area, I ended up going to different places than where we usually go to. This was good for us to find more people to teach. I told Elder F to push me to talk to people, because I know I should, but it is a weak-spot sometimes. He did that for me, and we talked to almost everyone in our path, and it was awesome. We found so many people willing to hear the message. Madera has much greater prospects than it has ever had before.

  On one occasion, we met a lady that attended Celebration church, but said she was looking for a new church, because their doctrines weren't consistent. She didn't want to hear our message though. (Probably heard stereotypes about missionaries.) We told her it was fine, that we wouldn't proselyte to her, but then asked what she was looking for. All the values she was looking for are in this church. It was amazing to see the scripture fulfilled, 

  "For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." (Doctrine & Covenants 123:12)

  The days do indeed go by fast. We have decided to call a companionship in the Zone every night to minister better. This makes the free time in the evenings even shorter. Everything has become one continual round of waking up, serving, and preparing for another day of work.

  The only down side to this week was yesterday. I got sick quite suddenly in Sacrament Meeting. We think it was food poisoning, or something along those lines. I had a piece of weird tasting meat at the ward party on Saturday...I thought it was just too fatty, but maybe it wasn't cooked right? Anyway, I was in the bathroom 4 times that morning, and come Sacrament, I had chills, the start of a fever, and my limbs were weak and in pain. It was a miserable 3 hours at church. Then I called the nurse and she had me stay in for the rest of the day. I didn't want to, but I needed it. I'm feeling much better now, but my back is stiff and causing some pain. I think it's unrelated, but it's no fun either! The back stretches I know didn't help.

  That's my week. I'm going to attempt to tell the story of the previous weeks with pictures, I have uploaded a lot this time.

  Sorry I wasn't able to write much the last few weeks. Thank you for your emails and all your support mom, I'm very grateful."

"Good-byes to Elder Wyne and Elder Tapia. We got matching ties for the final day. Madera 2018!"
Matching ties, signed and dated.

Elder Fuller and Elder Schaff

"The Ward Party on Saturday for Father's day: Mustaches and cowboy hats."

"The new ingenious solution to the drip from the coolers..."

"Elder Lyman sweeping the floor, because that's what the missionaries do at parties!" 

Elder Schaff in his mustache and cowboy hat.

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Week 95- Final Transfer and Companionship

  We are getting down to the end of Elder Schaff's mission. This week he begins his final transfer. He had to say good-bye to Elder Wyne this week, they had been serving as a companionship for 12 weeks and had worked well together. He also said goodbye to Elder Tapia, who had been with both he and Elder W the last 6 weeks, and was the other Zone Leader with Hayden. Now he has a new companion for this final transfer, Elder Fuller, who he is training as a Zone Leader. There is a lot of training and teaching on missions! This was his abbreviated news this week.

  "Well, I ran myself out of email time.. sorry about that Mom.

I will write more next week, and try to put it into more detail. I expressed some thoughts to Dad.

My companions got transferred, I will be training a new Zone Leader, Elder Fuller. He came in when I was in the mission office.

Here's this week in a few photos. This is a really bad job, but I'll write more soon!"

(Not too satisfying of a read, and I have no explanation for the photos, but here is the email that he sent to his Dad...)
  "(Michael had thanked Hayden for sending him a birthday card last week) You are welcome Dad. We have grown a lot together. My mission has really helped me to find myself and my course, and I am confident in my future.

Sorry, I'm really getting distracted in this email lab. All the missionaries are here today, and there is an active discussion ongoing.

There are some activities going on, so I'll be brief and try to write more thoroughly next week. It's been a great week though. The companionship did wonderfully, and one of our investigators, "C", began to progress. That's hope for the future! 

Both Elder W and Elder T got transferred, which is what I expected. It would be too easy to have either stay, but Elder W couldn't stay in a Zone Leader area, so that was inevitable. 

I am getting Elder Fuller. He has been out for 11 months, came in when I had entered the mission office. I'll be training him to be a Zone Leader. A fitting conclusion to the mission. The Lord has not failed me in providing challenges.

I'm glad you all watched the youth devotional. I printed out the copy and read it on Saturday. It was really inspiring and filled me with the joy of the Holy Ghost. I was going to suggest that you and the youth make sure you watch it, because it was so powerful; I'm glad you were able to have that experience. President Nelson is very clear about his invitations.

I love ya Dad!"

--Elder Schaff