Friday, October 20, 2017

Week 61 - "What Do You Live For?"

  Alright, so let's get to it. This week marks 14 months for Elder Schaff in the mission field. He finally has a photo to share from Kevin's baptism and more details about his new companionship. This time he responded to a lot of my questions and subjects that I wrote to him about, and then he started to write more for the blog, but I am going to share some of both parts of his email. Oh, and he made me cry, when I looked up the Mormon Channel video clip that he mentions. My own father was an accomplished pianist and loved his piano, he aged just like the woman in the video and also used oxygen before he died. The parallel was a little too close to home for me. Then last year, I inherited his beloved piano, and enjoy sitting and playing it, just as he used to. Each person in the video plays the same melody on the piano. Today I printed out the sheet music of that song and started to sight read it. I wasn't expecting all of that to unfold, from reading Hayden's weekly email, but I have been on a roller coaster of emotions. Take the time to enjoy the video and the songs, I put links in below.


Elder Schaff with Kevin, Elder Derbidge and Elder Lopez in Selma

Hi Mom,

  Some church media made me think of you. There's a video on Mormon Channel called "A Piano's Purpose." I can't remember if I shared that with you already or not, I really like it though. A departing missionary that liked the piano melody asked me to find it, and I found a link to it, but afterwards he left the sheet music behind. I've taken a few cracks at it. I'm not much for two-handed coordination, but I played some of it. It's called "See the Potential" you may like the melody.

  Also, just in general for the family, there is a song in the 2017 Mutual Theme Album called "What Family Means to Me," I think it's an accurate description of the good things about families. Check them out!

  My new companion and I are doing great right now. I think I mentioned it last week that Elder N is from Florida, and is capable of a true southerner's accent. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera to email this week, but last Saturday we made homemade fried chicken and mac and cheese. I took a video of everything we had when it was done, similar to the video we got from Elder Nielsen back in Selma, because it was the easiest way to cover everything quickly. Anyway, that was a fun thing to do. We cook a lot now.

  Elder N likes music and likes to sing, has a good sense of humor, and has a very motivated drive to do what is right and required of him. He is older than most missionaries, as his papers got lost in the shuffle for a few months while he was waiting to get called. He is determined to make his mission count and has an energized and happy spirit. He also laughs hysterically to many jokes that I have made, and sometimes he has laughed so hard that I can't help but laugh. Even thinking about it makes me smile!

  I was writing Dad a bit, but I'd like to ask you as well, what do you live for? I'm amazed at how quickly life passes by me while I serve here in the Mission Office. I've almost been with Elder N for two weeks. Where does the time go? I've been in the office for 2 months starting today. Didn't I just arrive? Every area I enter seems to make time whiz by more and more quickly.

  But I was also telling Dad how I'm led to the conclusion that a life focused on the Plan of Salvation is a happy one, regardless of how fast it goes or whatever else is accomplished.

  This week was also transfer week, and church travel lined up the departing missionaries to leave on the same day that new missionaries came in, which was a bit hectic. I was distributing numbers at transfer hub again, which are used for the missionaries to park their cars in order. I don't know if I've ever really described "transfer hub." There's a Stake Center right next to the Temple, and the two parking lots merge into one big parking lot. All the cars line up on the road next to this, and are brought into the parking lot 8 at a time. These groups of 8 usually work just right to have all of the missionaries move their things to their new assignments and be on their way, and then another group comes. While I was distributing numbers, Elder N checked on car registrations and things like that. As always, we also got to see first-hand that it takes Sister Missionaries about 3 times as long to say good-bye as it does Elders! It's an interesting phenomenon.

  The new infantry units arrived....wait, I mean new missionaries. There were 22 of them, again! It's a lot. So I gave my speech to them about email and preparation day, baptismal records and checked if they have ID that will expire before they go home. That's only a 6-7 minute process, but x22 it took about 4 hours. Crazy!

  The new missionaries were paired with their trainers on Thursday. We have the trainers line up in groups of 2-6 to meet their trainees, once President announces it. Then they run to their trainee and give them a hug and sit down. Usually. This round a few of the new missionaries got picked up and carried a distance, one even all the way to his seat, others bear-hugged, but most striking was one that got tackled. This impact unfortunately broke the new missionary's glasses, so I pray for that companionship!

  Work in Mountain View area has slowed down a bit. We haven't seen as many people recently. But with transfers, we got a new District and Zone Leader, and we hear that plans have been made for them to try and find some people in our area. We'll see if it has any effect! It's hard to preach the gospel in affluent places.

  I do want to share though that my testimony continues to grow. I have been blessed frequently to see the parallels that the Book of Mormon has with modern life, and I find myself receiving constant revelation and guidance as to what I should do next or where I can improve as I read each page and draw conclusions. It's not a wonder that God's voice, reaching us through His prophet today, has warned us to read daily and feast from its pages. It brings much needed peace. I am grateful to see that whatever our pursuits in life may be, there is purpose and joy in living the Gospel. Nothing can go too wrong, for long, if we will follow Christ.

--Elder Schaff 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Week 60 - New Companion

  Elder Schaff seems to be doing well in Fresno, new missionaries are arriving this week and he is getting a new companion. One thing you can expect on a mission is change!

  "Well, a lot has changed this last week. I'm sorry that I haven't written much about Elder B, or explained with greater detail all that is happening here. Some changes are being made with companionships. The changes are that we were put into a Tri-panionship, gaining a new companion of Elder Noyes. Elder B revealed to me Monday night that he would be preparing to return home. He has had to make some changes with medication and has been advised to return home for further medical care. He has decided to do that, and has been out for 22 months already. So that is what is happening. Elder B will be departing this Wednesday. He has been training Elder N in the vehicle coordinator responsibilities. The mission will go on.

  We're already back to transfers, 21 new missionaries are coming in, and one visa-waiter as well. President Mackay said that we'll end up with about 60% of the mission involved in training efforts. That's crazy! A new generation of missionaries is arriving.

  That's the lowdown for now. We made a make-shift Shepherd's Pie, and it was surprisingly delicious. After our attempt with brownies, we had no idea how this was going to go. I also have a picture of Elder N that I took 30 minutes ago. He has good energy and likes to laugh, I think it will help me make a good shift.

  As for your questions, the young man who was baptized is 17. His family consists of just he and his mother. They live together, and Elder D and I actually met her first, and then Kevin. She is interested in being baptized as well, but wants to take a bit more time than her son, because she has already been a member of 3 other churches and wants it to be true for sure or just wrong, so she can move on. Now that he has made his way, hopefully his mom will be more inclined as well.

  I'm running out of time here, but my date for release is still listed as August 17th, 2018, exactly 2 years from when I entered the MTC. It may get changed though, because Elder D calculated transfers out on a calendar and it would be 2 weeks into a transfer, so I may depart a bit earlier, but I won't make those prospects. President is thinking about having office missionaries serve for a staple of 6 months. (That will be a rough transition!) So I'll be out of the loop when the end is nigh. That's my report.

  I love you too mom! Thanks for everything you've done, did and do!"

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Week 59 - Selma Baptism

  This past weekend was General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We all had the opportunity to listen to the morning and afternoon sessions on Saturday and Sunday and there was an additional priesthood session on Saturday evening. With all of this going on, plus the fact that Saturday was preparation day for Hayden, he just managed to type a quick email between conference sessions. I think more details will come next week, and all of the photos, I hope!

  "Hi everyone,

  Ha! I'm laughing--I brought my camera in, but I didn't take new pictures this week, despite having things to share. I never have my camera on me in these situations....except for the Elders from Puerto Rico though, other Elders have the pictures, so I better get on with the story!

  In the Mission Office we received notification that because Puerto Rico was practically wiped out by not one, but two hurricanes, all the missionaries serving there would be sent to continental U.S. Spanish speaking missions. After dividing them up I guess, we ended up with 3. We picked these faithful Elders up Wednesday night and they shared with us the stories and blessings from the Lord's hand involved in these events. They didn't get the opportunity to pack anything, nor retrieve anything, so they only brought what they took to the safety shelter, which wasn't much (especially since at that time they were unaware that they would be leaving Puerto Rico.)

  To be short in writing, here are some of the miracles: They got 8 companionship's of Elders to the Mission Office with just 3 cars with a 4 hour notice of evacuation; an Elder preserved the records of his family history that he had, uncertain of why he needed to bring that to the shelter but acting on a prompting; all the trees were falling one direction, and an especially large one near the church would have crushed the building right down the middle, but it fell to the right instead; the food rations the missionaries had brought to the office lasted the whole mission a week and a half when they thought they would run out by day 7. Modern 5,000? Also, in 45 minutes of proselyting time between the first hurricane and the additional warning to flee the next hurricane, they placed 7 Book of Mormons. That was good to hear.

  Our dinner with a member last night had a dog that looked a bit like our dog Charlie, so I took a picture with him. Elder Biggs has it. Hopefully Charlie won't feel betrayed!

  Most shockingly, I got a call Tuesday afternoon in the mission office from Elder Derbidge and Elder Lopez (who are now companions, (yes the Elder Lopez from Selma, since there are 4) They said that Kevin was getting baptized! Further, Kevin asked for me to baptize him! Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and those Elders' preparation day is not today, but it happened. He also received a waterside confirmation, with General Conference taking place this weekend.

  Now I have enjoyed the first session of conference, and am frantically hustling to fit in email time as well as lunch. So I'll have to take off, but I'll try to provide some pictures next week. We had Elders buy us Taco Bell with their cards.

Saturday preparation days right?".....

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Surprise Photo

  I was tired and run down on Saturday night, nothing was wrong, it had just been a busy weekend. I was home alone getting ready for bed and my phone lit up. I had a new text message. To my surprise, I had been sent a photo of Elder Schaff and his companion having dinner at a family's home in CA. It really put a smile on my face to see my missionary's smile. A huge THANK YOU to this sweet family for feeding these two missionaries and for texting me the photo. If you see Mormon missionaries out and about, please be kind, offer them a drink, a simple meal, to send a photo to their family, etc. A little kindness goes a long way. In return, the missionaries would love to share a message or do some service for you. 

Week 58 - A Funeral, Some Brownies and the Temple

  I am going to have to share some lines from the email that Elder Schaff sent to me and some from the email that went to his Dad, because I didn't get much content this week. He continues to serve in the mission office and is doing well.

  "This week we went to the Temple, and had Zone Conferences. Elder Biggs and I attempted to make brownies from scratch one night because the senior couple left us a bunch of ingredients. I bit into one first, and started laughing. Elder Biggs refused to try it after that reaction. I finally got him to, and he laughed as well. They were terrible. They were a bit hard on the outside, and the inside still had hunks of cocoa powder--the texture inside was actually decent, but with hunks of powder everywhere, not so much. Nonetheless a moment to remember.

  A Hmong woman passed away, and as such, Elder Biggs brought me to a Hmong funeral, along with the other Hmong missionaries. I didn't understand anything! Here's the photos-"

Fresno Temple Trip

Elder B making brownies.

The senior missionary couple who occupied the apartment previously left a stocked pantry.

They looked better than they tasted. 

Hmong Funeral, Elder B speaks Hmong and was serving in the Hmong branch prior to being called to the office. 

And then from another email we got-

"Well the photos accurately describe the week, minus Zone Conference, which is not pictured. 

Thank you for all that you do Dad, and for writing. I always appreciate having emails from you. You're my greatest friend! I sent an email out to Mrs. Bastedo (a high school teacher) last week and she replied. It made me think of missionary work on the home front and how you and Brother Hunter would try to reach out to your friends at lunch. 

It seems like everyone's growing a lot while I'm gone! I'm so impressed with all that Maura is doing! I bet when I get home she's going to surprise me, she looks a lot older in the pictures. I wish I was there to go out and run with Maura. I always needed a buddy. You'll have to make up for me, plus it'll help you out! ☺ 

As for you teaching the youth, 2 things come to mind. Although they are both my missionary experiences, and I know sometimes people feel that these experiences happen just because we are missionaries, but anyways:

In March, the mission was a bit low on miles for the cars. Additionally, with 31 days in the month those miles really had to last. I was with Elder Lopez at the time and we had 1,600 miles to use. We reached 1,586 on the evening of March 29th. I was going to let it go over and justify that our area is huge, (which it was) but Elder Lopez said "It's alright Elder, we can just bike." I had not biked up to that point in my mission. I didn't think it would work with the size of the area, but Elder Lopez had great faith. We took the bikes to the church the next day and biked our area. It was hot and tiring, and it took a while to get places because they still were far! But along the way we met great people to teach, when we arrived to our appointments, the people were actually there, and everything seemed to fall into place. Though the work was physically demanding, the Lord provided for our needs and His work. Initially led by the faith of my companion, I came out of it with much faith, as well and a testimony that the Lord provides a way in the midst of trials, big or small.

Second, that last week in Parlier we had found nobody to teach. It had been a long week and we struggled. We were driving in a neighborhood where we had talked to many people, but they turned us away. I felt inspired to try the house of a potential investigator that we had "dropped." We tried it, not expecting much, as the house was dark. A child opened the door but said his parents weren't home--we couldn't enter. Well, right then his parents came home. The dad let us in and we taught the family the Restoration. At the end, the 13 year old son declared that he would read the Book of Mormon for the whole day tomorrow, his last day of summer. How grateful I was to have faith! We endured the challenge of a drought of finding people to teach.

I'm sure there are many more fitting stories, don't feel obligated to use these, but that's what I thought of. There's some good materials on too.

Thanks again dad! I don't have much more time to write Sydney or Maura, but let them know I hope they are doing well and I'm thinking of them!"

--Elder Schaff

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Week 57 - "This week was as normal as a plain bagel"

  The thing that I am beginning to notice with Elder Schaff in the mission office is that he doesn't write as much. In the past, he was always updating us on people he was teaching and he was out and about all day long. The office is a great opportunity, and he enjoys it, but he doesn't have much to report. Here is his email to me this week, he is commenting on a sewing project that I had been working on, making mallet bags for marching band, in the opening line. Then sympathizes with me about sore muscles after working out. His sister is running cross country this fall, and that was Hayden's sport in high school, so he is interested in that.

  "That's some impressive sewing work mom! Way to go on those bags, they look good.

  As for exercise, I can sympathize! Elder Biggs has work-out videos called "Insanity." The longest one is 42 minutes, so he checked with President Mackay since it's a bit over the exercise time, and he said we could if we finish by 7:00. So we did. The first day was Monday. It was hard but I felt accomplished after doing it. The reality didn't strike until the next day. As I shot up out of bed and stood up I almost fell over because my calves nearly failed out on me. I'm not sure if my calf muscles have ever been so sore even with all the running I've done. Elder Biggs and I were walking funny on Tuesday and occasionally waddling on Wednesday, but we've finally recovered. We didn't do "Insanity" on Tuesday or Wednesday, but we did on Thursday and Friday. I like it, it's a good way to increase our fitness and still do it with balance.

  I'm excited to hear how Maura does with Cross-country! I gave her my advice to always get a practice in, except for Sundays, if possible! I wish I would have run more/better during the summers, it would have helped a lot!

  Sounds like all is well at home for a Schaff home! There's always something that needs to be done, but that's how life is dealt to us. Keep being a great mom, you do so much for the family and keep us together!

  I described my week to Joel (friend also on a mission) like this:  "This week was as normal as a plain bagel. It was good and filling, but really nothing to discuss." We visited more of our members and ran things in the Mission Office. Sometimes missionary work is very humble and uneventful; all part of the Lord's plan.

  Tell the family I love them all."

--Elder Schaff 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Week 56 - Pictures!

Here come all the pictures!

Working in the Lord's Vineyard of the Lord's Vineyard! Grape Harvest! Jacob 5 to the max! (Because the California Fresno Mission is the Lord's Vineyard. [I know that Jacob 5 is olives, not vines, but it says vineyard.])

The computer we are using really uploads the photos quickly! convenient.

Elder Schaff working in the vineyard with his "Instant Relief Cooling Towel" wrapped on his head.  

And from last week: we said good-bye to the Gunderson's and Elder Lillywhite. All of them are now at home. The time passes quickly!

Elder Schaff with the Gunderson's

The Gunderson's and Elder Lillywhite

Elders Biggs, Lillywhite and Schaff

Brother H. loves fly fishing! We used some of our time today to make a fly! Can you believe it takes an hour to make that sucker? (Well, at least for us since it was our very first attempt.)

A brief excerpt from another letter about how that happened:
This week we've been working with that less-active member, Brother H., he invited us in on Labor Day to spare us from the heat, then invited us to have a meal with him one day, proceeded to take us to dinner Friday, and we went over today in our preparation day time and learned how to tie flies for fly-fishing. He really doesn't affiliate himself with the church anymore, but based on his comments I know there's a hope for him, and that he is aware of God's hand in things. We just have to bypass his walls.
I believe we can make great things happen, and I am happy in my service. I think there will always be a challenge to conquer working both the office and Mountain View, but I always like a good challenge. Each one we conquer builds our wisdom.