Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Week 78 - Same Area, New Companion

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

  "Alright, the workings of Chowchilla:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our District

Elder Schaff and Elder Baconawa

Our companionship


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

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Week 77 - Final Week with Elder B

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

"Hi Mom,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Elder Schaff​

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

week 76 - A Baptism in Selma

  Hayden was excited to tell us that he was able to return to one of his former areas to witness the baptism of one of his previous investigators this past weekend. He seems like he is keeping busy and doing well right now. Here is his email-

  "Wow Mom, sounds like a busy week! I've got to go somewhat fast because I took a long time to write President Mackay, but sometimes I can get a lot out in time. I'll start with the highlight: Saturday night at 7:00 pm! Baptism of Sandra B! I don't do an incredible job of telling you about all the people we teach, because these emails would become "the large plates," but regardless if I mentioned her or not, here is the story:

  A 90 degree or so day with the sun high in the sky. Elder Derbidge and I are riding through Parlier on our bikes. It's probably 12:00 or 1:00. We crossed the 4-way stop in town, Mendocino and Parlier. Right at the corner there is a woman with a parasol. She looks like she isn't Spanish speaking, so I continue at my normal pace; then the Spirit kicks in and I feel the need to stop. I stop! Elder Derbidge almost crashes into me because it was a bit abrupt. We talk and she turns out to be a good investigator.

  Later her son was baptized, but she was not.

  After this, she had a personal spiritual experience where the Holy Ghost warned her not to do something, really bad apparently. She heeded it at the last minute, and kept most all commitments from that point and progressed to baptism.

  The Elders called and said she was being baptized, so I got permission to attend the baptism. It was awesome to see the changes that took place and how much faith she now has. The Selma Spanish Branch has also had several other baptisms since then, and plan to have more. There is great hope for that area and it surely "has blossomed like a desert rose" like the promise to the Lamanites in Doctrine & Covenants 49. The groundwork I laid with Elder Derbidge and Elder Ennis was indeed significant, and now there is great success there.

  There were so many missionaries and members there. There was also another girl baptized that night, about 16 years old, that others were involved with as well. There was a baptism for the English ward at 6:00 too. There was an extremely strong Spirit present and it was a wonderful day!
President Mackay and missionaries at the baptism

Multiple missionaries with Sandra

Elder Schaff and Sandra
  All of these are the baptism pictures, except the one of me in the apartment. Elder B loves working out and we visited the gym today. I thought my hair looked funny before we left so I took a picture. It's dumb really, but ha ha.

  This week was interesting. Each day we had more visits, and talked to more people, but the ultimate result was no new investigators and 3 potential investigators. We also tried to visit a Ward member that lived 10 miles away out in the country. It was like 7:00 and dark out, and as we got there we were 3 roads off the main road. The last two roads were dirt roads with a bunch of potholes. It was kind of hilly, so the lights didn't shine too far out. There were shrubs and trees to the left and right, so it was looking pretty creepy. As we got closer, fog started to set in. We arrived at the house and it was blocked with a metal gate poorly painted red that said "no trespassing." We tried to find a way in, but it was all locked. It was very creepy and to be honest I really thought something might jump out at us. If anything wanted to, it was a good spot. We left, but Elder B had an impression that we needed to turn back. We returned, but nothing happened again, only that dust had risen into the air since we had last been there and the visibility was even worse. But the delay ended up allowing us to catch a less-active Melchizedek priesthood holder right as he got home. So there were blessings from an odd adventure. 

  President Mackay has also asked me to report on what is happening in Chowchilla and help him make a decision if the area should stay open, so that's a big question I've been asked to help with! I'll be fasting and praying to get the right answer!

  That's the week! We gave 6 prisethood blessings in one day as well, which was also intriguing.

  I've gotta go, but I love you family, have a good week!"

--Elder Schaff 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Week 75 - My Mission Conversion

  I was surprised to get a nice, long email from Elder Schaff this week because he and his companion had made plans to visit Yosemite National Park with some church members this last Monday. Unfortunately, the day trip was canceled because of the federal government shut down. The park service was affected and the bathrooms locked up and there was only limited access in and out, so that was postponed. Hopefully they can go on another preparation day before he leaves this area. Here is his email from week 75-

  "Well, once you get this you will already know the news. Our trip to Yosemite was cancelled. It's a bummer, but we'll hope to go the last week of the transfer if possible. Of all the reasons why, it was politics. When does politics affect missionaries? "Someone's got a frowny face!" --One guy at theme park in Despicable Me.

  Anyway, yes, because of the government shutdown that happened. The government shutdown affected all workers, and thus, state parks and staff. Half of Yosemite is now blocked, and difficult to visit, save it be foot trekking. Additionally, the bathrooms are all locked and will not be opened until the shutdown ends. As such, the members that were willing to take us were turned off by those conditions. We were still willing, but it didn't work out for us this time. So that was too bad, but it's okay.

  What exactly is The Melting Pot? (I wrote to him that we had celebrated his sister's birthday at that restaurant.) Something new? Now there are kids showing us the new Nintendo Switch or Xbox when we're in member homes and I marvel to see that I don't know what the world is like anymore. It's a blessing for now!

  That's too bad to hear about Charlie. (Our dog has had some health problems lately) It seems that things are getting better and better for the family, but he isn't fairing too well!

  I'm glad Sydney enjoyed the card. I sent a box of excess stuff back home today. It was $60 though! Fortunately I can charge that to the Mission Card and have had an excess this month. I guess I made it too heavy. I got rid of a bunch though, so it should help out when I make the final trip home to not lug it around. I thought for sure they were up selling me, since boxes you send me are usually $20-30, but who knows? I did agree to faster shipping because the price difference was $3 with that size apparently.

  Moving on, last week we got permission to watch the broadcast of the new first presidency announcement, which was super exciting! So I did see that and it was wonderful. I liked the invitation to stay true to the covenant path. In the end, that's the greatest thing we can do in this life. It's important to remember that. It was interesting that President Nelson called Elder Oaks to be a counselor, as he would have been the President of the Twelve, but I could feel the Spirit of the decision. Elder Oaks' wisdom makes sense for these latter days and troubling times. Especially when the press attacked with the two questions on LGBT and diverse leadership in the church. Those were some bitter sounding questions. I liked the answers though: between the lines it seemed to say: "That's not really a problem at all because you are trying to conform Christ's church (approved by God) to the world's standard. That's a bad idea!"

  Yesterday I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting about the "small and simple" things.  Two Sister Missionaries also returned home from their missions to our ward here in Chowchilla. They served in Arizona and Honduras. The one from Arizona offered her help anytime to visit investigators. She must have really enjoyed her time! I know once I finish I will definitely try to help the missionaries out. Of course, time always runs short, but it can be found.

  I would like to share some spiritual experiences once again as well, I feel like I haven't conveyed too many lately. So the highlight of this week was visiting with Brother D, a member that hasn't attended church since the 60's. He is Irish and a big-time family man. He said he was convinced he cannot find the back-door to heaven, and knows he needs to come back and set his life straight again. Problem is, like many less-active members, he has a bit of the defeatist outlook and doesn't think he is even worthy to return. He wants to learn more and apply it first. But he is determined to do that, so we started from there. Now he is praying and reading the Book of Mormon again. He wants to teach all of his family the Gospel as well, but once he has returned. (They are Catholic.) So if we can connect him with the Spirit and let the Holy Ghost heal him, some miracles might take place. Elder B asked him if he still believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if he still had the faith to follow Christ. He agreed that he did. The Spirit was so strong there as we testified that there is a way back for him, and a great hope with that as well. Truly the Savior desires to forgive us, and this man, and so many others, so that we can all return to Heavenly Father one day. This is why the church ministers to its members. There is hope for the lost sheep and the prodigal son. Think what you can do to find one!

  I've also reached Helaman 6 in the Book of Mormon where I am recording things learned from every page. If only I had done it when I was at home. Now I can take joy, comfort, and relaxation from reading the Book of Mormon. That was previously filled with games typically. The Scriptures are now quite precious to me. If one will read them with real intent, conversion is inevitable.

  Thus I see that my mission really has never been glamorous. I haven't really converted people with powerful miracles and preaching. Yet, I have converted myself with miracles of the Spirit. Though my work and legacy may be forgotten, there are those few individuals, such as my companions, and those I was a part of converting, that will remember my heart and love. I have learned to lift as Christ did--with intent to do good, instead of to receive a reward.

  I hope things will continue to go well back at home! We'll have to wait on Yosemite!

--Elder Schaff

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Week 74 - Rain, Fog and Interviews

  Not much news from Elder Schaff this week, that's just how it goes sometimes. It would be really exciting if he were able to go to Yosemite next week, he has seen very little of his mission area and never gone anywhere of interest that I can recall, I hope that works out for him. It would be worth another limited email week. This is what he managed to write with the time that he had.

  "Well the schedule for today didn't work out too well. As such I've had a full 30 minutes to email. I'll cover as much as I can."

  "Alright, here I go. I have a photo of Elder Baconawa this week. It should be the last one.

  Well, things got better this week. We didn't meet any bitter people and we did manage to find some people to teach. On Monday and Tuesday it was raining all day. The valley really needed it, but it got our car and apartment a bit dirty. After it cleared up things got clean again though. There was also some thick fog this morning and I think Thursday. It was like see 20 ft away from you thick. When I turned on the brights in the car they looked like laser beams!

  Last Tuesday feels like it was forever ago, but thus is the manner of time passing in the mission field, paradoxically short and fast.

  Trust is building with the Ward members as well. I think this area will slowly progress. It won't be easy. It never is easy. I always think that somewhere out there is an area that just always does well, but I don't think that's the case. Usually things are difficult.

  There were interviews with President Mackay on Wednesday. He gave some good counsel, but other than that, he really just told me to get to work and I'd be blessed. He said he trusted me with the area.

  Peace in Christ is the trending song amongst the missionaries right now. #2018YouthAlbum

  Sorry it's short. next week will probably be bad too, but for a good cause, we managed to set up a trip to Yosemite for next week. Ask questions I guess! So long! 

(I wanted to share a spiritual thought, but I had no time to think, next time.)

Love you all!

--Elder Schaff

Elder Schaff with Elder Morales Aguayo at the transfer hub on January 2nd.

With Elder Rogers at the transfer hub.

Saying goodbye to his companion, Elder Noyes, at transfers.

New companion, from the Philippines, Elder Baconawa.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Transfer Hub on January 2, 2018

  These photos are also from the mission blog that President and Sister Mackay post to at https://californiafresnomission.blogspot.com. The transfer hub is a complicated event, missionaries pull in, they unload luggage, and say their good byes. Then they find their new companions, load up bikes and gear into a different car and pull out to head for their new destination. It all happens in a short span of time. Elder Schaff has completed his assignment as mission secretary. He was transferred from Fresno to Merced and was assigned a new companion this transfer. Five more transfers to go and he will be home!

District Leadership Conference December 2017

  I pulled some photos from the mission blog, I am grateful to President and Sister Mackay for posting them. They capture moments that Elder Schaff cannot. The California Fresno Mission is divided into several zones, and each zone is divided into districts. Elder Schaff has been a district leader for a full transfer now. These photos are from the District Leadership Conference on December 21, 2107. To see the full mission blog, go to https://californiafresnomission.blogspot.com.

DLC on December 21st, Elder Schaff is third from the left in the back row.