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 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

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

Week 73 - New Year, New Companion

  Happy New Year! I am personally thrilled that it is finally 2018, because this is the year that Elder Schaff comes home!! In fact, he will most likely be back around August 1st. That doesn't seem very far away, so I am excited.
  I was also excited to hear from Hayden this week. It was a long wait though, as his preparation day has switched back to Monday. So, he wrote on Saturday, December 30th and he knew that he would be leaving the mission office and going back to teaching in the field, but he did not know where he would be transferred to. Nine days later he wrote again, on Monday January 8th, and he sent 41 photos and a short email. He told us a little about his new companion, but doesn't say where he was transferred to, sometimes he forgets important details. Some of the other missionary moms on Facebook are telling me that he is north of Fresno now, up in the Merced area. Here is his email this week-

  "This contains everything from Hmong New Year to the New Year's Eve Bonfire Devotional we had in Fresno North, all the way to Transfer Hub. 

  I'll miss Elder Noyes and the missionaries of that Zone. We were unified and there was a great Spirit there. That Bonfire night was wonderful. President shared some remarks with us that were uplifting.

New Years Eve 2017 Bonfire

  Also, the Hmong Elder haggled for us so we could get a little bit of Hmong stuff at a good price. The Hmong New Year Celebration was interesting. They run it just like a Bazaar.

  I don't have a picture with my new companion, Elder Baconawa, yet, so sorry! He's from the Philippines, 5'2'', wears glasses, black hair, soft-spoken, quiet, and very obedient. He's had some tough transfers recently, but we are getting along well.

Packing up for transfers on January 2nd

Looking sad about leaving, after living 5 months here.
  The area is pretty tough. Pray for me! Nobody wants to listen to us, and we only have a few investigators. The members are really kind and welcoming though. Also, President makes it seem that I'm destined to train a new missionary next transfer, so I may be here until May. I'm going to have to make it count! I will have yet another area to turn around.

  I may also get the chance to get up to Yosemite, since this is the closest I've ever been. 

  The area is 80% English 20% Spanish. However, there are a lot of Spanish members. English non-members are always really rude though, I wish there were more Spanish-speakers. It's been challenging to teach Spanish. It's come right back to me, the vocab hasn't been a problem, but Elder B doesn't speak any Spanish, which is quite the hurdle. That's all I've got, I meant to write more, but I had to catch up with Joel (Elder Christopherson) and Nathaniel (Elder Burnard) a bit.

  I hope all is well.

Love ya!

--Elder Schaff

Hayden didn't write about it, but looks like he and some of the missionaries enjoyed a wonderful steak dinner on preparation day this week at Tahoe Joe's. Happy New Year indeed!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Week 72 - Christmas Week 2017

  Christmas Day was a wonderful day for our family. We enjoyed opening gifts and being with our girls in the morning, then cooked our traditional Christmas brunch. In the afternoon, we were able to Skype with Elder Schaff for about 45 minutes and it was great to be able to see and speak to him. I have a few photos from our Skype session, and he sent about 50 photos and two videos from Christmas week, I won't upload all of them, but I will try to share ones that he mentions in his email from December 30th.

Christmas Day Skype Session with Elder Schaff

  "Alright, so I have given you everything that happened during Christmas, plus the interior of the Surf-thru car wash from today, because why not? We also took pictures in the phone booth that is right next to our apartment complex. All these months and I finally got over to it! If a picture is worth a thousand words, I gave you a 50,000 word essay.

Car Wash

Elder Schaff in phone booth near his apartment

Elder Noyes and Elder Schaff 

Looking cool in the phone booth

  The pictures tell most of the story, but there is one in the dark from the movie night that is a bit odd. You see, the Sisters used their flashes on their cameras to blind me, so I fired back and caught Sister P dealing gummy frogs...anyway.

Watching Moana on Christmas Day

Sister missionaries with their gummy frogs

  So, Elder Noyes and I enjoyed our Christmas together. We went over to President's house as is documented, and then we joined Brother B to call you and have Christmas dinner with their family. Elder Noyes made some home-made egg-nog that was right on point and tasted like regular egg-nog. However, it was not featured here. It would be economical if cream wasn't so darn expensive!

Elder Schaff opened a CFM tee shirt on Christmas morning

Some of the items from their stockings

Elder Noyes opens his Nerf gun

Christmas breakfast at President Mackay's
The Ward Mission Leader hosted Elders Schaff and Noyes so they could Skype on Christmas- thank you!!

  Then we had a white-elephant as a Zone. You'll see some of the photos of us in a ring playing it. The Assistants brought all their junk food as their gifts, so they could get rid of it. Because of the stealing aspect of the game, they almost ended up with it again, which was super funny. (The Assistants are on a "low-carb [snax]" diet.) I ended up with a box that said, bean-bag toss desk game, but the Zone Leaders had actually put two Nerf guns inside, which was a pleasant surprise, since Elder Noyes got a Nerf gun Christmas morning and I was defenseless.

Zone White Elephant Gift Exchange, Elder Schaff got a Nerf gun

  So, the whole deal about Moana was...well, the Zone Leaders got us all together to watch it, but the member they got it from had actually pirated it. *Facepalm.* There were some technical difficulties. Anyway, the member was watching it with us and realized he had a Netflix account and that we could watch the non-pirated version. So we did that and made it to the part right after they escape the crab, but couldn't finish the movie. Biggest cliff hanger of my life! I'll have to wait 'til I finish my mission to resolve it!!! That was the only non-ideal part of Christmas, but I'm over it at this point.

  Also pictured is Elder Nate and the whole group at President Witt's house for a breakfast this morning, since the Fresno North Zone had the most December baptisms. President Witt taught us at the end of it all to repay us for our teaching, and taught about personal 1-on-1 ministering and how we must always continue to live that purpose as the Savior did, rather than focus on baptisms. The Spirit was there and I was grateful that he understood the reason he decided to celebrate with us.

Breakfast at President Witt's with the Fresno North Zone
  Let me know if you want to hear anything else. That's what I've got for you! We're going to try to visit a bit of the Hmong New Year today, before it ends on Monday!"

--Elder Schaff

The Miracle of the Toilet

  Elder Schaff had forgotten to share a story from his companion, Elder Noyes, who is over the car fleet for the mission. I can't imagine two sister missionaries stopping to put a toilet in their trunk, but it's a good thing that they did! Read on and you will see why.

  "I stole this small narrative from Elder Noyes. This happened 2 Saturdays ago (December 9th), but I forgot to get it last week. A funny story and a miracle?  

"So, last Saturday some Sister Missionaries got in a wreck...a pretty bad one, they got sandwiched between two cars because someone hit them from behind going like 40. They were okay, no serious injuries, just some whiplash.

  But on Monday I go to the junkyard to look at the car, after a long experience where I had to go get the Registration from the sisters because they wouldn't let me look at the car without it. And the car is wrecked...trunk completely smashed shut. Front-end crushed...airbags went off. It was bad. So we salvage several things from the wreckage and then we decided to pull the back seats down to look in the trunk, and as soon as we pull the seats down there it undamagedimmaculately cleansparkling white toilet. I didn't know how to react to could take the toilet out of the trunk and put it in the house no problem (If it wasn't stuck in the trunk.), so I report this to the office staff and we're all rolling laughing about much so that when the Sisters who got in the accident came to the office that day, I had to gather everyone around them to hear the story...we had to know why a toilet was in their trunk. Apparently they were driving that day down the road, and a toilet was right in the middle of the road, and they put it in the trunk and wanted to play a prank on the Elders in their ward by putting it in their apartment when they weren't home, but then a few hours later were involved in a serious accident.

  The damage on the trunk interestingly enough stopped where the toilet began...I think that toilet may have saved them from more serious injury. The Lord works in mysterious ways I tell you."

With Love,

Elder Schaff

Week 71 - December 23rd

  We wrote to Elder Schaff the Saturday before Christmas and this was his news to his Dad and I. His Dad had written to him about the magic of the Christmas season, I will quote some of his email, so that Hayden's response makes more sense, "...I wondered if I would ever feel the magic I felt at home around Christmas once I left on my mission. My mom found me and I shared my thoughts and she smiled and told me three things. As long as you make sure Christmas is focused on selflessness, love and the Savior it will always be magical and wonderful.  Some traditions will carry forward and others will change and new ones will take their place, but keep it centered on the Savior for he embodies love and selflessness. So sure enough, I went on my mission and found that to be true and found it to be true again as I got married and had kids. Christmas is magical and amazing when it is filled with love and selflessness and the Savior."

  "Hi Dad, I was mulling that over the other day. I too stopped and wondered if the Christmas magic stays or if it is just doomed to fade away. Being a missionary is like the last stand to avoid growing up, and then it all just ends. Life gets pretty busy after that. Without the Gospel, it would all be rather meaningless. Life is simply too short! I'm glad I have that in my life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  It's been different this year. The office work, combined with the holidays, made for meeting and serving a lot of missionaries, as well as enjoying their visits in. At the same time, people have had family over and don't want us around. Hard to be a missionary on the 23rd, 24th and 25th in a family area. These are the days where the lonely or the afflicted need help, and we don't seem to have the luck to cross their paths.

  Regardless, I'm excited for Christmas. One negative effect of the Mission is that "the holiday season" isn't a thing. It doesn't feel like Christmas until Christmas Day. Because whether it's June 25th or December 24th, missionaries do the same thing. I think the difficulty this year is honestly the fact that the "English" people have been way ruder to us than the Hispanics. Sorry, I'm trying not to be a pessimistic bum! We both know that we can live longer with optimism, but Christmas is looking bright. I'll be able to call you, the Zone is getting together to watch Moana and do a small white elephant, and we have some breakfast, brunch, and dinner invitations. I'm really looking forward to it.

  Sometimes, in writing, it seems pretty drab to be a missionary, but it really has been and will continue to be wonderful. I think now that it's round 2 of the holidays I've finally been unable to repress missing playing board games with the family. I miss being able to just sit down and have a good time! 

  This week we had District Leadership Council, a meeting with President and all the District Leaders. It was great and gave me some of the most insightful teachings I've studied or learned about this week. A lot of what we learned came from King Benjamin's example and his desire to be righteous while teaching the people why they should follow his example and how it would bless them. President expounded upon the "why" and the "how," teaching us that it is important to teach these things to others, that those we teach (such as members of the district) will be able to take these things and become righteous leaders themselves. We also discussed serving with love and effective goals and expectations, as well as quite a few other administrative things. I just wish we had covered all of that during week 2 or 3 instead of week 5 of the transfer! They let me be in the dark for 5 weeks! Ha ha. I've managed to fare well regardless.

  Let's see, what else? Elder Noyes has become a Tabasco addict. My taste in hot sauces led him on a quest for his favorite, which happened to be the enhancer, Tabasco. He quickly bought the other flavors, chipotle, green, and a mini original "just in case." This has been funny. He frequently remarks that I've ruined him and got him addicted to peppers and vinegar, but I tell him he did it to himself. I'm not much of a fan of original Tabasco, but I really like the chipotle and the green.

  My final task in the Mission Office is as daunting as a final boss of some game. I have to conquer the Annual Mission History. I've been collecting things and preparing to get that all together. I have to write a summary of each month and suddenly it's like a school project all over again. They can't let me off easy I guess!

  President Mackay has decided on the Elder to fill my spot. I was going to name him, but I'm supposed to keep it concealed since President hasn't actually told him yet. He also serves in Echo currently, so Elder Noyes joked that you must have to be a Spanish speaking missionary, with glasses, that served in the Echo Ward to be the Mission Secretary. Ha ha!

I wonder where President will ship me off to? I actually haven't seen hardly any of the Mission. Selma and Parlier are a whopping 30 minutes from Fresno. I've lived the last year and so many months in an hour radius!!! The Zone Leaders think I'll go to the southern zones. the future will be interesting.

  Well Dad, tell the family I love them. Sorry to mom, I'm still working on taking pictures. A bunch of missionaries made Christmas cards with the Wal-Mart printer, I didn't even know you could do that! I've been deprived! Oh well. I'm looking forward to talking with everyone. 'Til we meet! Rehearse your lines, we only get 45 minutes for the Christmas call!

Hi Mom,

  How are things? Hopefully your heart has warmed up to the snow a little bit after all these years! And your snowmen collection should help you on that pursuit as well!

  I sent most of the details of the week to Dad today, hopefully he shares. I've opened ties from both Davids, Kevin, Trevor, Dad, Jason, President Munro, and Brother Hughlett. I have missed a few days with exchanges and recent craziness, so I will be indulging a bit tonight. The letters have been really nice, thank you for putting that together for me!

  Elder Noyes and I have recalculated the plans and want to Skype at noon here, so 3 pm there. Hope that works. I'll try to have someone text you first. May need to send me the Skype address.

  Alright, that's all, we've gotta blast! But really, Dad has the rest, so please get it from him. Tell Sydney and Maura I love them!

Merry Christmas!"

--Elder Schaff