Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Week 52- Big Change for Elder Schaff's One Year Mark

  I wasn't expecting to hear too much from Elder Schaff this week. Transfers are two weeks out and he and Elder D were working hard and moving things forward, then he got a phone call on Sunday night and things changed quickly. You can read about it below.
  This week mark's Elder Schaff's hump day or one year mark. He entered the MTC last summer on August 17th. One year down and one to go! To mark the occasion, I had a tee shirt sent by Amazon, it reads, "Hump Daaay! There is a camel in the middle and below the camel it says, "Guess what day it is." I also bought a hump day shirt, so if you see me in my yellow camel tee shirt, you will know why. Here is the news from Elder Schaff-

  "Alright, bear with me, because things have gotten really crazy in the last 15 hours. 

  Last night at 10:21 pm I was writing in my journal. The phone rang. I looked at it and it said: "***President Mackay," and then I knew something crazy was about to happen. You see, any missionary knows that when his mission President calls him late at night the following may have happened: 
1) Somebody the missionary knew died. 
2) President has received revelation and wants to do something to/with you and your companion like: 
 a) assign a leadership position
 b) transfer a missionary based on some occasion.
 c) go on a team-up with you because you have important investigators! Yay!

  He then told me he intended to speak with me privately. I switched the phone off speaker and prepared for what he was going to tell me! And the result was I'm leaving Parlier/Selma tomorrow morning!!!

  I have been called to be the Mission Secretary for a time. President Mackay has decided that he wants to have youth missionaries fulfill some of the Mission Office roles instead of senior couples and see what happens as a result. I and my new companion, that I will soon meet, will be the first missionaries to do so in the CFM. (Some other missions have done this I guess.) I will be a secretary by day and a proselyting missionary by night, working some area in Fresno. 

  I really don't know what to think! Transfers are in two weeks, but because I need to be trained for 12 days to do this properly, I have to leave now! Thus, after I put the phone down last night, chaos erupted. I began packing up my things. I had to tell Elder D the news and that was really sad because our companionship will come to an end. It has been a wonderful 10 weeks that we've had together, and I've come out of it with a true friend. Until the end of the transfer, Elder D will be in a "tri-panionship" with Elders N and L until transfers come. We will get new missionaries then and there will be enough to fill the areas. 

  So that's how I'm faring. Never mind the week we had! It was pretty boring anyway. Nothing notable happened until last night.

  Elder D hit the brakes on his bike to talk to someone, but only hit the front brakes, and pulled off half of a wicked front flip. Somehow he caught himself, but a few parts flew off his chain and it's not tight anymore. A bike is no good without the chain to move the gears and then the wheels! The Zone Leaders needed us to teach an interlude at a baptism they had at 6 anyway, so we got the bikes onto the car and went to the church and gave that teaching. We returned to Parlier and continued to have the day's plans and appointments fall through. The day was getting long at that point, but Elder D and I both agreed that it had to be happening for a wise purpose of God.

  That was just it! I felt inspired to knock the door of a potential from last transfer. There didn't appear to be anyone home, but we went for it. The children of the house answered the door, but the parents were not there. A minute later, the dad arrived! He invited us in and we taught the dad and his two kids. The Holy Ghost was strong in that lesson, and we ended an arduous week with a family to teach. It was a miracle of personal revelation. The son of the family, a 13-year-old named "E", said that he was going to spend all of today reading the Book of Mormon we gave him because he wants to know if it is true. School starts tomorrowTuesday, for him, so that's a big sacrifice. Spending the last day of summer reading the Book of Mormon! (That's how you do it!)

  So life is good. I feel like I'm using a lot of "!"s because I have a lot of energy with the whole advent of being transferred. The Zone is also holding a sports day before our district meetings today, and we're heading over to that, maybe I'll calm down a bit there. It reminds me, the last time we did that we were playing Ultimate Frisbee and I threw the disc at the ground to serve it. It ended up being the perfect toss because it bounced up and glided right into the basketball hoop. 3 pointer!

  All is well in the California Fresno Mission. I'll tell you what Secretary training is like next week!

Pack the bags...it's back to Fresnoooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Elder Schaff  


Hanford Zone, Introduction to President and Sister Mackay in July 2017.

Elder D and Elder Schaff with a member leaving for his mission, he had already been a great member missionary and they were excited for him.

An exchange with the assistants in August. 

Elder D opening up a gift.

Elder D gave Hayden a tie. This blue tee shirt is something that our family sent to him to mark his hump day or half way point on his mission. One year down and one to go!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Week 51 - "And Thus the Work Sails On"

  Well, it is week 51, so we are just one week away from the one year mark! Elder Schaff entered the Provo MTC last summer on August 17th. It's hard for me to believe that so much time has passed. It was hot in Utah when we took him to the MTC, and it is still very hot in his area, but the highs are hovering around 99/100 instead of 105 plus. I hope it starts cooling down quickly. It's difficult to work hard in the heat, but he and Elder D are getting it done. Here is this week's update-

  "Well, news for my week:

  I felt like surely many things have happened this week, and that is indeed true, but I don't have much time to describe it to you today world!

  We spent 40 hours "In the Water," or doing missionary work in Parlier itself. (Which would exclude studies and other non-proselyting activities.) That's literally a full-time job, right?

  We did a lot of finding this week, again. We had a tidy sum of appointments and teachings as well, but in the mission you really always find yourself finding, because God's children are always out there waiting to receive the blessings of heaven! Speaking of such, we found 4 people interested in the message and perhaps touched by the Holy Ghost this week, and thus the cycle continues. Our numbers of people we have found to teach have been up and down the last 4 weeks. But hey, finding trends never really coordinate with time spent working.

  The most notable news: Leo and Miguel are still doing really well. Yesterday there were 100 people at Sacrament meeting in the Branch. 15 were visitors, but still, 85 is exciting! During my first week here I think there were about 15 people!

  "S" and "K" are doing better. They are investigators we found 2 weeks ago. (Can't remember if I wrote about them yet.) They hadn't been as receptive until the end of the week, and then we taught the Plan of Salvation and the Holy Ghost touched them. "S" came to church and had a good experience. 

  And thus the work sails on! 

  Our fellow missionaries, known as Selma Spanish, had two families attend church yesterday, so there may soon be 5 baptisms in the Branch. Exciting times in Zion!

-Elder Schaff

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Week 50 - Perfectionism, Pokemon and Priesthood

  Elder Schaff seems tired and a bit dissatisfied this week, which is unfortunate, because he and Elder D are working hard and placed 35 Book of Mormons last week!! Wow. They are doing great, but Hayden expects a lot of himself and as he puts it, "my perfectionism has been showing."

  "This was a very spiritual week. It has been a lot of bike riding and opening our mouths in efforts to find people. We had the exchange with the assistants as well as with Selma Spanish. I learned a lot from those exchanges. Something happened Monday night where I found myself unsatisfied with my personal efforts. It might have taken a serious (and unnecessary) toll on my hope!

  Fortunately, in the exchange with the assistants, Elder Q advised me to be more positive in my speech, promising that I could have more optimism, more joy, and less doubt. I felt the Spirit when he gave me that counsel. I knew it was true.

  With that I was uplifted and later had an exchange with our district leader. (Selma Spanish) Elder N talked to me about not letting perfectionism overcome me. He invited me to focus on the Atonement and explained that Christ makes us perfect as we look to him. Little did he know, I had already got the answer I needed, but the focusing on the Atonement comment was nice. I guess my perfectionism has been showing recently!
  We are helping "S and K" progress, they are new investigators from last week. "K" is doing really well and came to church. He got to see the Priesthood in action.

  Sunday was a big day for the Selma 2nd Branch. "L" received the Holy Ghost and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Two others were baptized (investigators of Selma Spanish), and "M" and "R" received the Aaronic Priesthood. Additionally, all 4 of us Elders spoke in sacrament meeting, as it was the 5th Sunday. I spoke on why God has given us the scriptures and how we can become converted by using them. I was well pleased with how it went.

  "K" saw all of that happen. Quite the week for the first time at church. He was desirous to receive the Aaronic Priesthood as well, but it was explained to him he needs to be baptized first. He seemed pretty motivated after that, so we'll see what happens. 

  We gave people 35 Book of Mormons this week in our contacting. It was an uplifting experience to do so. Many people were quite excited to receive a copy and have this opportunity to learn about the truths of God and see what we believe. We have appointments set up for this coming week, so we'll see who did their reading and felt the Holy Ghost and who didn't!

  I learned several personal lessons and worked out improving in Christ-like attributes. Elder D and I have been getting closer and more unified. We have high hopes and great faith for our area! We've been discussing more how we can improve, and in the evenings spend time together watching "The District," listening to powerful talks from various church leaders, or just talking. One talk taught us about why the Atonement was necessary in the nature of what Jesus Christ suffered. (Essentially, why did He have to suffer so much.) It was a talk by someone surnamed Skousen I believe. It may not be a beginner-level learning experience, but it's worth checking out. I felt like I learned a lot. One night somehow Elder D started talking about Pok√©mon while we wrote in our journals and I just went with it. We finished writing and we'd been at it for 30 minutes. We laughed because we were nerds, but also felt a bit of remorse because that was not perhaps the most ideal missionary conversation. So needless to say, we'll stick with talking about the work.

  On Sunday we attempted to visit Kingsburg, but got rejected by almost everybody.  It was bad. We had multiple people tell us to stop talking to them and they refused to take a picture of Jesus Christ. One guy just said no to everything we said and wasn't really listening and then after 20 seconds just went blank and said "get off the driveway!"**  

  The Selma Spanish missionaries are having more success there, so we may leave them to Kingsburg and try to tackle one of the other cities nearby us, like Fowler. We'll see what we accomplish! (Sorry mom! I saw the Tea-pot water tower but I didn't have my camera!)

**How do I put this? I honestly haven't talked with very many white, English speaking people recently. In Kingsburg we ran into a lot of them again. It was rather disappointing to see how bitter our American culture is. We really seek to have minimal contact with strangers and feel very inconvenienced when someone wishes to talk with us. The people we talked with were rather rude, and it was a sad sight to see. "Wo unto the proud for they shall be humbled." Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I was an English-speaking missionary, and I feel like it would be difficult! I'm grateful for the Spanish culture and the patience they have with us as missionaries. Sure, not everybody agrees with, nor wants to hear what we have to say, but English-speakers, do you have to be so sharp, brash, and rude? I guess that's just modern society for you. So make the world a bit brighter and greet a stranger sometime, just for fun. See what happens!

  Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable week and I've had a smile on my face for the most of it. The Spirit was present in our work and lifted us up. I am feeling more tired than ever before, so hopefully I can resolve that because I disdain feeling tired! It's hard to want to ride a bike and talk to people if you feel like you could take a nap in the moment, trust me.

  As I was studying the scriptures, I was reading through 2 Nephi 31. Nephi elaborates greatly on how baptism is necessary to our salvation, and he proceeds to explain the doctrine of Christ, or in other words, what Christ would have us do to use His Atoning sacrifice. I was rather touched by an insignificant part of a verse. (Maybe 16 or 17?) Which said that: (paraphrasing:) these things were written that ye may know the way by which ye should enter. Nephi was shown many visions and revelations of what would come. After all, this was a man who lived before Christ's time. And Nephi saw what Christ would do and what His role would be on the Earth. Additionally, he saw these last-days and many other great things. But this was not shown to him only to teach him, Nephi. Those things were revealed so that his people, the Nephites, and eventually us, could receive this knowledge of the way! ----The scriptures were written for us!

As always, it feels like these are great days to be a missionary!

My love to those that care for it,

-Elder Schaff

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Week 49 - Baptism in the Selma Spanish Branch

  Elder Schaff was excited this week because their investigator was baptized on Sunday. He initially began teaching Leo with Elder Ennis, and then with Elder Derbidge. Elder Ennis was able to come and attend the baptism, which was great. Everything seems to be going well and the work is progressing in Selma/Parlier. 

Elder Ennis, Leo and Elder Schaff

Elders Derbidge and Schaff, Leo and Elder Ennis
  "Time goes by fast! Well, this was a bad email period because I was very distracted by the other Elders playing and downloading music. President Mackay just changed the music rules to allow anything on lds.org. Let me tell you there are some good things on there. There is a lot more music than you'd expect. Which means that the other missionaries searching for "new" and inspiring music in the collections is really distracting.

This week we found 5 new investigators. Finally broke out of the drought of not finding too well! 

Notable events-

Leo was baptized! So Leo does look like a gangster a bit in the first photo. He has to wear his hat except for prayers and the sacrament in the building because they put the air conditioning on so high it hurts him. (He has a metal plate in his head that hurts a lot when it gets cold!.) It was an unforgettable baptism.

We found an older woman that is 87 years old, named "M". She began investigating! That's going to be the oldest person I've taught. I was surprised because she has no health problems and understood clearly what we said. 
(I think Elder Schaff was just surprised because he has taught many elderly people who have had serious health problems and have a hard time advancing with the discussions.)

On Thursday we got into a Bible bash with an angry Pentecostal. We lost the Spirit, but prayed and got it back later that night. It turned out we had to learn that lesson so that on Saturday we could teach "E" effectively and answer his questions without bashing.

On Sunday Leo was forgiven of his sins and made clean in the waters of baptism. Many members attended and it united the Branch a bit. Perhaps things will start picking up around here!

Hope to write more next week!!!

--Love you all!

--Elder Schaff   

Friday, July 21, 2017

Week 48 - "Good to have some white sugar here in Parlier"

  Communicating with your missionary can be difficult. I have to laugh a little bit because last week I was sick with a sinus and eye infection. I wrote to Hayden and told him that I was sick and a little concerned because his Dad was going to India for the week. I asked him to pray that I would feel better quickly so that I could manage at home and get his sisters where they needed to be. His opening line in return was, "glad everything is okay at home." Not sure that I felt that things were okay, but oh well, sometimes it's hard to communicate with your missionary. Here is Elder Schaff's news from the CFM this week.

  "Good to have some white sugar here in Parlier."

  Quote of the week. Elder D and I counseled together and decided we would make serious efforts to talk to everyone this week. We did so. The results were incredible. We had many people to visit. Unfortunately, most of those people were busy and did not accept our return visit. Others began reading the Book of Mormon and we set times to meet next week. For whatever reason we found no new investigators this week, but it's alright, we aren't discouraged, this week will be great!  You have to sift through a lot of coal to find diamonds; a lot of tares to find wheat.

  One of those people was a man that has talked with the missionaries before. Elder E and I had actually talked with him as well, but he acted a lot more mellow this time. Weird. Anyway, he took a copy of the Book of Mormon and gave us that header quote. He said that there were so many ignorant Hispanics in Parlier that it was good to have some missionaries preaching about the things that matter in life. An interesting comment, but funny nonetheless.

  Talking to everyone made the work satisfying. Even on tough days Elder D and I knew we had done everything we could have initiated ourselves, and the feeling that came was one of peace and trust. It seemed that by the end of the week we were talking with more prepared people because God could trust us to put them in our path.

  Transfers came and will go tomorrow as they always do. As I predicted, there are not many transfers this time around. I think President Clark worked rather hard to put the mission in order for President Mackay, so his first transfer board was hopefully not so stressful. Then again, seeking revelation like that is still a big deal, so who knows! Either way all is well. You must be wondering if I was affected by the call by now. The answer is that the Selma area will stay intact. None of us are moving except Elder C, our Zone Leader. His mission is finished! He was my first Zone Leader and was a great example for me. Really a changed man. It will be sad to see him go, but he lived up to his potential. He brought salvation to the people of Fresno. He said I'll see him again in "a little over a year" so we'll see if he gets himself married before then- haha.
  I'm excited that Selma is staying together. Our small district of Elders Nielsen, Lopez, Derbidge, and I have gotten close. We have a lot of work to do to get this Selma Branch up on its feet. We probably were called to serve another transfer here so that we could do that. It's going to be a challenge, but I truly believe we can change the perspective this branch has of the gospel.
  • And now a mini soap-box speech by Elder Schaff:
  • Live up to what you have been called to do.
  • All a ward or branch needs to be super successful and build Zion is to have diligent members who will-
  • read the scriptures each day, 
  • pray daily, 
  • visit a family or two once a month, 
  • go to church weekly, 
  • and faithfully accomplish what they have been asked to do by the Lord. (callings)
  Is that so hard? All that together, takes what, maybe 60 hours in the whole month, if you put 10 hours into the calling? That's 8.3% of the time of your month. That's not even a tithing of your time! That doesn't ask much to be a member of Christ's church. 

  Of course, those duties may vary. Take it as you will. I just thought that's the difference between enduring to the end and rejoicing to the end.

  Hmm....what else to say. Our teaching pool is very small right now. We're talking maybe 6 investigators. We're going to be finding a lot in the future. "L" is going to be baptized this weekend, most likely. This last week we decided to postpone the interview yet still because he wasn't sure about tithing. We cleared it up, and all is well. We also had to review why obeying the law is important. The Spirit touched him as we read from the Book of Mormon and he understood why even minor laws are key. They uphold a free society. He is desirous for baptism yet still, so I have no fear for him no matter the delays!

  "M" is still doing good. "E" is an enigma. We're trying to figure out how he feels and what is holding him back. I'll update you next week!

  Receive my words with my love! Everyone out there, be a better you! Be diligent! Be humble! Improve yourself! Love the Lord!

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Week 47 - Meeting President and Sister Mackay

  In the 11 months that Elder Schaff has been serving, he has mailed home 2 postcards. Thank goodness for the weekly emails, because he really writes a lot and we are so appreciative. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised when I got the mail on Saturday and found a birthday card addressed to his sister! He actually went and bought her a card and wrote to her, his companion even wrote a nice note on the back, and she was thrilled. I know it is hard for a missionary to take the time to do these type of things, and that is kind of out of his character, so it was a wonderful surprise for her.
  It was hard to celebrate the 4th of July without Hayden here. He always loved this holiday and would take photo after photo and even made videos of the fireworks shooting off in town. I, on the other hand, don't appreciate the noise and the crowds, but I made myself take some firework photos and emailed them to him, because I know that he loves it so much. There are just certain things that you can't take part of during a mission, but that's okay, he is very willing to be obedient and returned to his apartment early that evening, as counseled to do.
  As far as the weekly email goes...all seems well. Enjoy!

  "First off for this week, "L"s baptism was postponed to this upcoming weekend because he encountered a minor set back during the baptism interview. All is well though, he just needs to make a minor change and wants to make the change!

    "L" is awesome. He's a funny fella! He is still trying to recover from the accident 16 months ago, so he goes out to walk and strengthen his weak leg. He started walking toward the corner store to preach to his old friends and convince them to stop drinking. The first day he did this he had them sit down on boxes and he read the Book of Mormon to them. The next day one named "M", asked for a Book of Mormon and read it to the group as well. By the fourth day, "L" had convinced these old friends to stop buying alcohol and to buy a pizza and 2 Liter soda together while they read the Book of Mormon.
   We have not yet seen this group, but if all of that is true, that's a testament to the power of the Book of Mormon. If it can get people begging for money in front of a corner store to stop buying alcohol and buy a pizza instead, it can certainly improve the quality of your life too!

  "M" who was baptized, is doing awesome. He's still reading the Book of Mormon and preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. The Spanish Branch was assigned to clean the church building this week; he went and cleaned with them! Now everybody knows him. Wonderful. Things are looking good for him!

  On the 4th of July we had to be inside the apartment at 6:00 pm. We caught up on journal writing, updated the area book as much as we possibly could, and read a lot of the Book of Mormon and talked together. Quietest 4th of July of my life. Only missionaries!!!!

  We met President Mackay July 5th. It was an inspiring meeting. After some introductions, he trained us a bit on using the Book of Mormon and remembering the "Pearl" of it all---Jesus Christ. I'll expound on that.
  I knew during those interviews (we called the meeting interviews, because we did interview very briefly 1-on-1, but most of this was with the Hanford Zone as a group, that President and Sister Mackay had been called of God to be here in the great California Fresno Mission. Before President Clark left, in that final Zone conference, one of his two addresses was about Temples and Family History. He said we should prepare to start using it more; he felt inspired that the Mackays would be using it as an effective auxiliary tool. And sure enough, Sister Mackay declared she was a family history buff and hopes to help people and missionaries use family history effectively to receive the blessings of the Temple. Prophecy fulfilled.

  Concerning the Pearl, President Mackay recounted a parable:

A man has a precious pearl of great price.
 This pearl is so beautiful that he wants to share it with everyone so they can receive joy from it's splendor as well.
The man decides he cannot simply have a pearl on display. 
He seeks out a craftsman, and requests that he make a beautiful box for this beautiful pearl.
As a result, the craftsman makes a box greater than any he has ever made in a long time.
The man smiles and takes the box, excited to display this pearl.
And he puts the pearl on display.
The first few moments, he watches everyone's reactions with anticipation,
but much to his surprise everyone is commenting on the box!
"Oh what a beautiful box!" "Did you make this fine box?" "It must have taken a skilled artisan to craft such a work!"
Almost everybody forgot about the pearl. A few people saw it and rejoiced in its beauty.
But the remainder ended up focusing on the box.
And the man was disappointed that not everybody saw the pearl.  

  What does this mean? President then told of the follow-up activity. Looking at pictures of things and defining them as "the box" or "the pearl." This was done in a training of many church leaders.
The first picture was of one of our church buildings. The question was asked: "box or pearl?" some leaders felt that it was a box as a church houses people. Others said it was a pearl because it brings the blessings of honoring the Sabbath Day. The leader declared it a box.
Next were the scriptures. Bible and Book of Mormon. Same question. Varying answers. They are declared a box.
Next was a picture of President Mackay apparently. Everyone knew this was a box. (XD) 
Then a picture of Thomas S. Monson and the First Presidency. Also a box.
Finally, the Temple. Also a box.
And last, a picture of Jesus Christ. The Pearl. The only pearl.

  Jesus Christ is the center of everything we do. Whether we're in our families or at church, reading the Book of Mormon or attending the Temple, studying on our own or discussing with friends. The means all lead to the end--Jesus Christ. All the boxes profit us nothing if we don't let them strengthen our testimony of Jesus Christ in our lives!!!

  President Mackay then shared a video of a training/talk that Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave to this generation of new mission Presidents. (President Mackay was there.) The talk was about focusing our missionary efforts on the Book of Mormon. In the end, an individual cannot come to an accurate conclusion that we have the truth and the Restored Gospel or not unless they come to know that the Book of Mormon is true. (Or if they feel, a fraud.) Either way, the answer must come from the Holy Ghost, most likely as an honest prayer to be sure.

  He said we would start strong by making the Book of Mormon a  bigger focus of our proselyting and teaching, and the Spirit was very strong in that comment. The Spirit confirmed in my mind and my heart that that is what people need. They need the Book of Mormon! It has the answers!

  So whoever you are, member or non-member, religious or not, the Book of Mormon can help you! Will you try it?

  That was quite the start for a new Mission president. God magnifies whom he calls.

  We had an exchange on Thursday. I was with Elder Lopez (Hernandez) again. He is just a ball of energy. We did a lot of hard work and talked with a lot of people. His bike was flat when we left, and so all of our street contacts began with: "Hey I know this is random, but do you have a bike pump by chance?" I guess it's an icebreaker! He helped me improve my street contacting. Critical skill to have. This weekend Elder D and I were talking with everyone and it felt great. It's the only way to meet prepared people!

  That's the low-down here in Selma and the California Fresno Mission! Until next week! Read the Book of Mormon! It will bless your life!

Elder Schaff