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

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Week 94 - Yosemite!

  I am always amazed by the photos that other missionaries post of spots they have toured and visited. It is awesome that some are able to take in the history, culture and scenic locations within their mission. Elder Schaff has never really had that opportunity, but this week he was able to go to Yosemite National Park on his preparation day. He was so excited to have a change of scenery. I challenged him to take a lot of pictures, he told me that he took about 90! He sent one, of the group that went to Yosemite, so far. I am so happy that he had the opportunity. Of course, Yosemite covers more than 1,100 square miles, so I am sure he would love to return in the future. You can only see so much in a day.

  "Well, I finally made it to Yosemite. What a trip it was! It's a lot of driving for us poor missionaries, since we had to go up and down in a single day. It's 5 hours of car time. Despite that fact, it was well worth it. It was a nice adventure! I feel energized and fulfilled. It was also very peaceful.

   There was so much to do up there though! We hardly did any of it! The park is so huge you could go there dozens of times and hike new trails or do new things. I attached a few pictures. I took 90!

   This week has been one of growth and reflection. We had the Temple trip on Tuesday, my last one before departing. I felt impressed that we needed to work with our members more to find the success we are seeking. We are working on employing that.

   I did two exchanges with our Elders in Madera, Elders Meyer and Vargas. We had some good experiences growing together as we served. Elder M just began his mission, and we had a good discussion on how to make it worth the while and enjoyable. The first exchange was Wednesday, the second Friday. Elder V was on Friday.
He did a nice job with his teaching, and we discussed being motivated by charity instead of just duty. This and many more things did we do, but I grew from it.

  On Thursday we did yard work for a member, because her husband's job makes it hard for him to be home. We mowed her lawn, weed whacked, raked grass clippings, and pulled weeds. She was quite grateful for our service.

  Friday was Mission Leadership Council, and we had some excellent teachings come from the Assistants and President. Also, a training from the Sisters on how Elders and Sisters can better serve together without being awkward or inconsiderate. (President assigned the topic.) It is now being called the "How to talk to girls teaching." XD"

-Elder Schaff

Yosemite National Park
June 4, 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Week 93 - Ministering and Meetings

  Our family enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend. We had family visiting and it was nice to take a break from the routine and relax. We fired up the grill for a few meals, made a fire and roasted marshmallows for s'mores and went to our town's Memorial Day parade to see our daughter march with the high school band. Unfortunately, for a missionary, routine carries on. Elder Schaff was hard at work, but didn't email much this week, we may not hear much next week either, but he would love to visit Yosemite on his preparation day, hoping that works out.

  "Well, I sent an email to Dad covering most of the week. We're out ministering to the other district, so I have to email by phone and it's very difficult compared to a computer.

  This week was slow until Saturday, when we brought out our bikes.

  We brought 2 less active families to church this week and it made our efforts worth it to see the light in their eyes as they were welcomed back by the Ward.

  Elder T and I had Stake Correlation, where we visit with President Mackay and the Stake President. It was an interesting meeting to be a part of. We discussed how to better unify members and missionaries, and came out with good plans. The question is, can 4 men implement changes across a Stake? We will see.

  That's about it this week. We may go to Yosemite next week, so email may be limited. One thing is for certain, I will be very grateful to use a computer next time!"

-Elder Schaff

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Week 92 - Ministering to my Fellow Missionaries

  Anyone else in survival mode, or just me? The month of May is a true test of endurance. It seems that every group that our family is involved with decides to have a final concert, game, recital, you name it, we have been sitting in the audience for it. So, our days and nights are planned out before we even wake up, and it has been exhausting, yet, rewarding. With all of this crazy going on, I couldn't find much to say to Elder Schaff this week except to recap the events and send a few photos, but here is his news from the California Fresno Mission. And, since I am counting down, 9 weeks until he is home and we are reunited as a family!

  "Hi, everything is going well. The area is still slow, and the only thing I can think to do is push myself to talk to more people, as many as possible. We talk to probably 50 people a week, but we aren't even getting an investigator out of that, so I've got to step it up. I don't want the end of my mission to just drift away at the end. I want to be fighting for someone's salvation! The emails of my friends inspire me to go and do more. I'm setting goals and hoping things will improve this coming week.

  We did have some form of success in helping our investigators see that we really do care about them. Some of them wanted to give up on the church because they felt like they couldn't effectively make the change in their lives, but we testified to them that learning the Gospel isn't an all-or-nothing deal, nor is living it in fact. We strive to do all we can, and Christ lifts us when we cannot go on.

  As usual though, my forte has been ministering to my fellow missionaries. I've been watching the missionaries in our zone more closely, seeking to understand what we can do to edify and uplift them. The zone has been faring alright, there were two baptisms this weekend in Madera for the English wards. One was by Elder C and his companion, so that's a good clincher to finish his mission on. I was able to talk with Elder M a bit, an Elder that's been here for 3 weeks now. He's passionate about maintaining his strength and physique, and restricts his diet a lot, and sometimes the other Elders don't respect that so much. I asked him how things are really going, and lifted him a bit.

  We had exchanges with the assistants on Friday. I was with Elder E. He hadn't seemed to be his usual self, but we pressed forward in the work. He was still the friend I knew though. Halfway through the evening he opened up the heart of the problem, and we discussed it together for a good 40 minutes. It was really tearing at him on the inside. I helped him see some steps to take to reduce the stress and suffering he was causing himself. I'm no psychologist, but he told me it gave him a lot of peace. My heart was filled with charity toward my fellow-man and I was glad to have helped a friend. It reminded me to what extent I'm supposed to love everyone.

  Though I've never been the stellar missionary finding the prepared people by the dozens, I press forward, knowing that I am also not incapable of finding people to teach. But I'm always glad to lift where I stand and ennoble those other missionaries nearby.

  The assistants had also caught a black widow spider in a jar. For the fun part of the exchange (yes, the fun is mandatory) we caught bugs around the property of the assistants' house and added them to the jar. The point was to see what the black widow would do. We managed to catch a moth and a second black widow. They didn't do anything while we were awake, but when we checked in the morning, the original spider, Charlotte, had consumed all. They really do like to live alone. This experience slightly reduced my fear/discomfort with spiders.

  Three friends/investigators came to church, but none of them are able to be baptized in the near future, because two of them have parents that won't allow it, and the other one is an older guy that just doesn't want to.

  Zone Conference is tomorrow, and Elder T and I are giving a training, in Spanish, about being unified with our companions, even when using technology.

  In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 15:7-9,11 caught my attention this week. It testifies of the need for the Atonement, and how the Savior stands between us and justice, which would surely condemn and destroy us for our mistakes. It speaks powerfully of why the Savior did what he did. 
Verse 11 is the qualifier, testifying: "say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto [thewords [of the prophets], and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day foremission of their sins,  say unto you, that these arhis seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God."

  Combined with Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5, it is a great testimony of why the Savior loved us so much. This I add as my witness of Him. Jesus Christ lives, and does intercede on behalf of all those who will have him to be their Savior. This decision is made not by word alone, but also by deed. It is not made once, but throughout a lifetime. It is the character difference between someone who is God-like, or likes and knows about God.

  I love this work and press on! I love you all."

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Week 91- Mother's Day Call Home

  This past Sunday we had our fourth and final video call from Elder Schaff. It was Mother's Day and he was able to Skype with us after he attended his church meetings. Since the missionaries in Fresno now have smart phones, he was able to Skype directly from his phone, using the wi-fi at the church. It was wonderful to see and hear him. We laughed and smiled and talked over each other, and the 45 minutes flew by, but it was perfect. He was happy and doing well, so that makes me happy. Since we were able to talk on Sunday, we didn't have much to email about on Monday. So, here is his short email and some photos from the week.

Skype session with Elder Schaff.
  "Well, it's good to know that I still have a reserve fund. (He had asked me to give him the balance of his checking account, since the statements come here) That's another thing--Elder W has also been enjoying the mission, because he is learning to budget. He said he went through money way too fast in college, mostly because he didn't know how to cut his costs. I think I'll be fine. Dad taught me well.

  How many more races does Maura have in track season? Maybe we'll keep fit and run together when I'm back! (his sister has been running the 400m, 800m or 1500m at track meets this spring)

  I explained most of the week, but we had interviews with President Mackay on Tuesday. He interviewed by companionship, so it was less personal. Elder T and I also taught the rest of the missionaries in the Zone while he interviewed. So, that was quite the task, that amounted to 3 hours of teaching. We practiced role-playing teaching skills with the missionaries, such as using scriptures effectively, teaching doctrine to meet personal needs, asking effective questions, and listening. It was good. After that, we exchanged with the District Leader in Fresno. (There are 2 district leaders in each zone, and zone leaders exchange with both of them.) I was not with the district leader, but his companion, Elder Lavatai.

  There weren't enough helmets for the bikes, so we actually walked all day. It worked out though. We talked to some cool people because of it. We had to run a mile home when we got out of a lesson at 9:20. We needed to make it by 9:30, but we made it at 9:33. We gave it our all though, running with a proselyting bag is difficult!!!

  It was a good learning experience for me and Elder L. It's the best crowd I can work with I feel. It's never been easy to work with investigators, but I've had great success lifting other missionaries and less-actives.

  That's about it for this week though! I'll send some pictures.

"We've got a Skype filter that gave me a beard."

"The contents of the board before we arrived for interviews. I thought it was a pretty great addition to the Primary song, Follow the Prophet."

"The Fresno temple as we walked by."

"We walked on a dusty trail when the sidewalk disappeared and took some shots like we were traveling on the roads to Jerusalem or something. I'm no model, but I thought it was funny."

"A drawing by Elder James (who took my spot as the Secretary). I enjoyed it."

--Elder Schaff