Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Week 87- Exchanges, Teaching and a Big Dog

  Last week my husband and I were able to register Elder Schaff for classes for fall semester. This week we had the opportunity to pick his dorm room and bed assignment, so we had some questions on that for him to answer. We are trying hard to meet all of the deadlines on this end, while he works hard and continues to focus on what he should be focused on- missionary work! He seems to be working diligently and had a good week in Madera.

  "Alright, here's a copy of what I've mostly sent today, but I'll add the details:

  Well, I had a good week. Any troubles in the District were resolved via exchanges. I killed off all the pride problems. It was a miracle. The Spirit did most of the work.

  The Mission got technology, and everyone has been obsessing over it. The craze should calm down now, after this first week. We've had to make the adjustment though. When used properly, it's been a huge blessing. My companion and I have been visiting members uber fast.

  I used Duolingo today to learn a bit of German. I've got to honor my ancestors!

  We met with our Bishop and made a better plan to work with the ward. He wanted us to work better with members to teach more people in member homes. In ward council though, we didn't stick to that, and we kind of got wrecked by members not wanting to support us. But it's okay. I counseled the Elders to stay positive and continue ministering to the members so we can build greater trust in this ward.

  I caught a dog... that I accidentally let loose some how.​

​  I think that's my companion playing with it. We were barbecuing with a member and then we were throwing the dog a football and it broke off of its chain. We chased it around the yard for a good five minutes trying to pin it down again.

  We taught an English class too, and helped some Mexicans learn the days of the week in English and how to set and accept appointments.

  I put together a pretty sweet District Meeting for today. I hope it goes well. I'll be talking about why we serve: Because we love Jesus Christ. I studied a lot for it, so I hope that it will be successful in helping the Elders see a greater purpose in their callings.

  And we played 4 square today. It was a good investment to buy the ball for five bucks. Brought back the days of the MTC!

  So that's my week. Here's the rest of my pictures:

Some of the Elders in my District

How to Make Guacamole

Mexican Powerade- ElectroLIT! Hahaha. 

  As for the other things, out of nowhere, Elder Royce and Elder Austin were asked to move to the other District and live in Fresno. It makes sense, because they spend more time in Fresno than Madera. I guess President and the assistants realized it used a lot of miles. One of the assistants also approached me in Zone Conference about the fact that my district had 11 Elders, so I suspect that was part of that move too. It will lighten my load, but I was actually excited to work with them and teach them.

  Since a big house is lonely with two Elders, they are moving Elder Lilly and Elder Murray in with us, which will be good. They've become friends of mine. Elder Lilly is in the picture with the filter. Then he and Elder Murray are in another picture as companions.

  We visited a less-active member whom we thought was Hermano B, turns out that was his cousin. He is not on the directory, and under a different name! He is excited to come back to church though, and we had a good lesson with him and his family.

  Overall, it was a good week. Let me know if you have questions, but I think that does it!!!

The Vineyard

Love you mom! (and family.) 

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Week 86 - Scripture Study and Samsungs

  Unfortunately, I had a lot of information to run by Elder Schaff by email this week, and so he didn't have much time to write about his week, after addressing all of it. His Dad and I need to register him for fall semester classes this week, so we had a lot of questions for him and information to pass on after I spoke to his academic advisor. It feels like I am a freshman majoring in biological engineering, and for now, I am. However, when he returns home, I will be happy to let him take over and complete the online modules, orientation, take his math placement exam and his foreign language exam for credits, etc. I don't think that I would score well on a Spanish language exam! I took Spanish in high school, but that was a long time ago and I only remember random vocabulary words and key phrases like, "donde esta el bano?" ha ha. I love that Hayden is teaching in Spanish though, and he had a good week, here is his news, and a bonus- a toilet photo!

  "I had a pretty normal week, so I don't have much to write really. Elder Wyne and I are still doing great. We've had some good lessons with the people we found to teach last week, the Spirit has been there, they just haven't reacted to it yet. Most of our week was spent visiting members, or trying to do so. We found about 15 households that had moved away!

  My studies were also really good this week. I've continued my Book of Mormon challenge into the index, and I am finding a lot of spiritual patterns and small gems that I looked over when reading it through. It's harder to read than just straight scriptures, but it's worth it.

  I also finished Ecclesiastes this week and started Isaiah on Saturday. It was interesting. Ecclesiastes has no real mentions of the Atonement at all, but it does teach that promises/oaths (covenants anyone?) with God are the most important things to keep. And though all physical things are temporary, there is still a lot we can and should do in this world to have joy, which includes: family life, doing things you enjoy (that don't harm others!), gaining wisdom, creating things, obeying God, etc.

  I have read the first 10 sections of Doctrine and Covenants, and have started reading some Conference Talks! When proselyting doesn't work out, I love my studies!

  The Zone Leaders and I are working on addressing the pride/gossip problems in the district. Things seem to be better than last week though, some misunderstandings were clarified.

  Alright, that's about all I've got!

--Elder Schaff

  Also, I just remembered that I forgot about trainer/trainee. The meeting we have after 2 weeks of training. Elder Wyne and Elder Austin, (The trainee of the other missionary in our house, Elder Royce) were the only ones to not raise their hand that they "were having a tough time with their trainer" when they had separated the trainers and trainees for a break-out session. They told us about it that night and said that they were grateful that things were going well. It's been a blessing to serve with Elder Wyne. It hasn't been hard at all!

  The only hard thing is that the missionary work is a bit slow, but we get new phones tomorrow, so that's a plus. Maybe it will help us work faster and better!"

Also, that's how my toilet works! We are going to get Elder Tardiff from the mission office
 to help us fix it hopefully.

That will be the phone change. That is the Zone Leader's.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Extra Photos

Eating at Mc Donald's with the Zone leaders

Heavy rain that finally broke

Thick fog outside the apartment

An orange from the church Vineyard, Tropicana worthy

California sunset with palm tree silhouettes

And the bird from the laundromat art: The best caption we have is:
"When President lets you stay with your companion at transfers."

Zone Basketball on Preparation Day

Elder Schaff with a member, Brother Bitter

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Week 85 - Easter 2018 and April General Conference

  Many months ago, when Elder Schaff first arrived in Fresno to begin his mission, the very first weekend in California, was October 2016 General Conference. I realized then, that 4 conference weekends would pass before he returned home, and here we are, at number 4! I love General Conference weekend because I know that somewhere in California, Elder Schaff is watching it at the same time that I am watching. Somehow that is just comforting to me. This last Sunday was also Easter, so I was happy to hear that he received his orange milk chocolate sponge candy and other treats to enjoy over the holiday weekend.

  With about 16 weeks, 4 months and a little less than 3 transfers to go, Hayden's mission will be over before he knows it. He has lots of responsibilities as a trainer and a district leader, and many things to schedule each week. He has always been extremely conscientious and determined to do all things with his maximum effort, and this week, I can see that this is all stressing him out a little. He is fine, just being challenged.

  "Hey mom, here's my portion I sent to Dad. I'll cover your questions in another one, but this sums up most of the week. I'm feeling quite tired right now!"

Dear Dad-

General Conference, Salt Lake City, UT

  Interestingly enough, Elder Bednar's talk on meekness is also my decided favorite! I had always dismissed meekness as a part of humility, which was an error. The talk brought me significantly greater understanding, and a vision of what I could accomplish in becoming more like my Savior.

Meek and Lowly of Heart by Elder David A. Bednar

  It's been a bitter afternoon though. Nothing terrible, but sports in the district got too competitive. Pride and taunts started to increase and the Spirit noticeably weakened. It's not fun to lead or be required to teach a meeting in three hours without the Spirit, but I won't dwell on that. It's something to address as a district leader though.

  Additionally, I enjoyed Larry Y. Wilson's talk about prayer, the Spirit, and revelation. The theme of asking God what part you must play in His work to get an answer really struck me. It's a proactive way to pray instead of solely hoping that something will take place to benefit you. Though sometimes we do pray on those conditions, if we can act we should.

Take the Holy Spirit as Your Guide by Elder Larry Y. Wilson

  Of course, President Nelson's remarks on personal revelation deeply struck me also. I could deeply feel the Spirit in his words, and knew them to be true. I believe the 5 promises he extended in that message will come true as I will heed his 6 invitations given.

Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives by President Russell M. Nelson

  The changes were interesting, but needed. As a missionary, I've seen those programs fail time and time again. Madera 1 had 4 Elders in the Quorum, and Chowchilla had 5-7. Both had more High Priests. That was a good inspired change. (this in reference to the announcement in General Conference that the Elders Quorum and High Priests would be combined for weekly Sunday meetings)

Introductory Remarks by President Russell M. Nelson

  The Spirit of home teaching has been changed to better function as the Savior would have it work, but now is the crux of the matter. I read the guidelines to it after conference. It invites more revelation to who is ministered to, which is expedient and needed. Ultimately what will determine it's success is whether Zion will be idle and be at ease with itself, or if Zion will be striving to make valiant efforts and accomplish the Lord's will. For even if revelation indicates who is prepared, if nobody acts upon it, save the previously faithful home and visiting teachers, no  additional work will be accomplished. That's what I see. It's a great chance to heal the Lord's work for saving Zion. Because those ministering visits really do save souls. It's a shame how neglected it has been.
  I love everything about my work right now except being a district leader. Planning exchanges is a nightmare with all the meetings we have had for the new missionaries. To do 10 exchanges in 6 weeks, I need to do 2 a week for 4 weeks, and then 1 a week for the other two. But since no exchanges were able to be accomplished week one, as I had just barely gotten Elder Wyne, it's looking chaotic. I've got one done. I really enjoyed being able to minister as a district leader last transfer, but the burdens of the call have caught up to me.

  We found a family to teach this last week, which has been good. We're getting the ball rolling as far as work in our area goes.

  Everything passes by so quickly now. I'm working to leave my mark on the California Fresno Mission and Madera, because now is my time to strengthen the Lord's servants in this part of the Vineyard, and then I'll be forgotten! Which is okay and part of the cycle.

  I leave you with a picture of Elder Austin and I. (Elder Royce's trainee, they live in the house with us.)

  I think this is all I have.  Thanks for your love and support! I send mine.

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Week 84 - New Companion and Training Opportunity

  Hearing the alert on my phone signal that Elder Schaff's weekly email had hit my inbox was a relief this week. I was very anxious to know who he had been teamed up with to train and wanted to know all about his new companion and area. I was so happy to learn that he is once again serving in a Spanish speaking area and will be able to train and teach in Spanish. All in all, everything sounds great for him.

  "This week was crazy. I miss Elder Laughlin a bit. Elder Corless is still nearby, so that wasn't as big of a loss. I got put into Echo for Tuesday and Wednesday while we awaited our trainees. I was with Elder Wake during that time. (He came in near the start of my office time.) We were able to learn and grow a lot together, and I also got to meet with Matilde (she was Elder Schaff's first baptism) again, which was awesome, because it really seemed to give her a boost to be more committed to the Gospel and to make the efforts to get to church consistently. I didn't even have to crack down, she set a plan with me to improve. Elder Wake was shocked because he and the other Elders there haven't had much success with Matilde. A lesson to follow up with your converts I suppose!

Elders Schaff and Mendez with Matilde on her baptism day in 2016 

Missionaries waiting to hear who they have been paired up with to train for the next 12 weeks

  Then I met Elder Wyne! Fortunately, in the line of meeting companions President called all the other Elders first, so we had a normal hug and didn't go crazy. No glasses were broken. (in the past, several of the missionaries have sustained small injuries or broken glasses, etc when they are introduced to their trainee and have their first hug)

  Elder W and I have been doing great ever since we left the Mission Office. I have learned more about his story and told him mine, and we feel united and determined to do the Lord's work. Elder W is pretty incredible actually. He is a convert of a year and a half! He was baptized in 2016. He explained to me that the moment he was baptized (and even before apparently) he knew he was going to go and serve a mission. He says the change was so immense in his own life and brought so much joy that he had to go and share that with others. This is an Elder of a lot of faith. He's already starting to get the hang of things, and it's just day 5. He really knows what he's doing and what he is in for, and I couldn't ask for anyone better to work with at the start.

  He was baptized, and then had to stick out his year before he could apply to be a missionary. So he finished high school and went to BYU Idaho. He likes to sing. We'll have some good times for sure!

Elder Schaff's Companion/Trainee, Elder Wyne

Elder Schaff is paired with Elder Wyne

Trainer/Trainee Meetings 

Trainers and Trainees March 2018

Elders Schaff and Wyne with other missionaries at the Training meeting in March 

  As for the work once we got to Madera, the goal has been to meet the members! We talk to everyone we can in our path, and bike when we can as well. When we drive around we try to knock some doors in the vicinity. I haven't knocked doors in forever, but it works in Spanish areas. They are way nicer than us English speakers. Ha ha.

  As I write this out, it's shorter in writing. There was a lot of spiritual experiences during this week, which have safely been recorded in my journal. Other than that, I'll tell you how things go as we go into week 2 of training! We have interviews with the President tomorrow. Other than that, just know I am loving my mission! It's a bit stressful to plan each day, but other than that, everything is grand! I'm living the dream here!

  I finished reading the Book of Mormon again this week! Oh Elder, I nearly forgot that! The President Clark challenge Book of Mormon was finished Tuesday morning, around 10:12 am or so. I then prayed about the truth of its contents once again, that my faith in that promise could be strengthened as I testify of it to people. I testify to all that read this that the witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon came again. You can get it more than once. I really appreciated Moroni 10:32-33. 

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
  That's the fullness of how the Atonement works in two verses. It's wonderful. No better way to end that inspired book. I know this is God's work! I am a disciple of Christ, the son of God.
Love you all,

--Elder Schaff

​P.S. Also, I forgot the ward activity: we got to help cook the tacos and work the grill. This is all of us Spanish Elders.

Madera Spanish Elders

Week 83 - Transfer Calls

  This was the news from Elder Schaff for this week. I had written to him and asked several questions that I needed him to answer regarding packages we had sent, whether he had received his replacement driver's license, etc. So after he responded to all of that, this was his update.

  "Ok, now that I've answered questions, here's what happened this week:

  • Our companionship started doing better than ever before
  • We had a temple trip
  • We did service in the Vineyard, pruning and tying grape vines.
  • I had district leadership council
  • We had an exchange with the Madera Spanish Elders.
  • We helped a member move out of her house
  • TRANSFER CALLS----Elder L and I got transferred.
  • President called and told me I will be opening another area of work in the Madera Spanish ward
  • Also, I'll be training a new missionary while I do that....
Signs of spring at the temple grounds

Elders from the Zone at the Fresno Temple
Eating with the Zone at Buffalo Wild Wings after the temple trip
  That was the week. It passed by incredibly fast. I have no fears concerning time, it will all be over too fast! ¡Asi es con misiones! Once you get the hang of it, and aren't struggling to survive, well then it passes by faster than the Olympic 100m dash. But that's alright, I'm in a full-on sprint here. As long as technology doesn't trip me up (smart phones coming April 10th or so), I'll be leaving a good mark on the California Fresno Mission.

  Our biggest successes were teaching Unique about the Plan of Salvation and the Doctrine of Christ. She accepted an invitation to pray about if she should be baptized. Another young man named Robert, also accepted the invitation to pray about baptism. Both these two feel the Spirit when we visit, and are working on discovering for themselves if it is the missing piece their soul is looking for. Elder C will have to keep me updated.

  Our leadership council was on obedience and adhering to the Missionary Handbook to uplift and edify oneself and others in missionary service. This was important, because as missionaries have been trusted with more agency on their decisions, they must also understand that some things cannot ever be stepped over--the rules of the handbook. As President Mackay put it: (paraphrased, but close:) "Unwritten rules are for you to be an agent unto yourself about, but as for the missionary handbook, those standards cannot be compromised." I know that's true. I have strived to live my mission that way, and I feel like I have been exceedingly blessed.

 Our companionship resolved all of the unspoken conflicts this week and as a result we really came together. Of course, we pulled that off the last week and then got transferred, but we learned our lesson! I was able to help my dear companions. I learned a lot this transfer, but I seem to learn a new lesson everywhere I go. Ultimately, being Christ-like always wins. I'm not perfect, but I've had a lot of success working with other missionaries when I remember to be Christ-like.

  I'll miss my companions, but it'll be alright. We'll find each other again in days to come.

Saying good bye to Elder Corless at the transfer hub

My companions- Elder Corless and Elder Laughlin

At the transfer hub, farewell to Elder Laughlin
Silly hats- Elders Laughlin and Schaff

Elder L's famous catch phrase printed on a taco sauce packet, "and...that happened"

  This week I'll be with an Elder in Echo Ward until Thursday, when I meet my trainee. I'm sure I'll have some crazy stories to tell by next week. If not crazy, at least interesting to me, to see what comes from training a new missionary.

Love ya family!

--Elder Schaff

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