Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Photos of Elder Schaff from the Mission Blog

  President and Sister Mackay of the California Fresno Mission keep a great blog of all that happens in the mission. These are photos that Elder Schaff has appeared in the last few months. Since he is at the office, I think he comes in and eats during many of the meetings held there. They always circle up and sing a song of thanks for the food that was prepared for them too. You can enjoy the entire mission blog at https://californiafresnomission.blogspot.com.

August 2017 Mission Baptism Collage

New Missionaries Arrive August 2017

Zone Conference August 2017

More from August ZC

October 2017 Meetings

October Training Session, Singing Thanks for Lunch

September Training Session, Singing Thanks for Lunch

September 2017 Zone Conference 

District Leadership Conference Sept 2017

Week 65 - Zone Conference, Mission Tour, Teaching & More

  It sounds like Zone Conferences kept Elder Schaff and the other missionaries at the office busy last week. Here is his full description of the week-

  "Out in California we are rocking temperatures in the 70's and 60's, with 50's in the mornings. This morning we got up to thick fog, the visibility was about a quarter mile. I took some pictures, but I've got to get myself a USB SD card reader to load pictures at the Mission Office computers. We flip between these and the ones in our Stake Center in Fresno (North) depending on where our Preparation Day errands take us. We just went to A&W for lunch, and after email Elder Noyes and I are looking forward to getting poked--we have to get flu shots today. It's a little late, but we're still healthy so far.

   Things are going well for us still. Hearing about some of the youth activities at home made me laugh a bit. All youth activities mean well, but sometimes they don't go as planned. We were invited to teach about the Book of Mormon during Mountain View's mutual. The activity went well, but when it came time for us to share, everyone went silent and put up their blank looks. We couldn't get anyone to participate. It was a bit rough.

    This week three things happened:

1) We packed boxes of supplies for Zone Conferences all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Er, well, half the day. Everything is of course, a game to me, so I moved as fast as I could by running boxes from the supply room to our "factory floor," (the cultural hall). Unfortunately for some packing boxes does not come naturally, so one of the senior Elders, Elder T, cut himself a few times with the packing tape roller. It's the roller with the metal teeth and a plastic square so you can cut your tape with force. So some supply boxes have a few suspicious drops of blood on them....

2) Elder Echo Hawk, a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, visited our Mission for a Mission Tour this week. He came by and toured the Mission Office on Wednesday, then attended Zone Conferences on Thursday and Friday. To answer your question, we still attend Zone Conference, and ours was Thursday this time. Elder Echo Hawk shared some neat experiences with us and had great teachings. He even shared his conversion story of how his family joined the church when he was 14, but that he didn't understand the value of that during high school until his senior year. He was talking with his friends and turned his eyes right into a ball someone had thrown at the right time. He was rushed to the hospital and informed he may likely lose his eyesight. He said he attempted to strike a deal with God that if his eyesight would be restored he would read all of the Book of Mormon, with a minimum of 10 pages a day. (He hadn't read much of it previously!) His sight was recovered, and he kept his deal. His life got notably better from the moment that he completed the Book of Mormon. He went on to be his high school's star quarterback that senior year, even after missing a few games from his eye injury.  He also shared his account of being called to be a member of the Seventy. All of it was awesome. He opened the end to time to share testimonies of what the Spirit had taught us. I felt impressed and almost "constrained" by the Spirit as Nephi says, to share a brief thought: "Every moment in our lives count! The Mission is valuable and sacred time, but that won't end when we depart home. Christ can use any moment we are willing to give Him to make us something better, something stronger, and someone greater.  Make use of the time you have! Allow the Lord to work in you daily! I know these things to be true."

3) We visited a less-active Sister in our Ward with our ward mission leader. This Sister has been away from the church for 3 years but still firmly believes in the doctrines and teachings of the church. She masked her feelings and attitudes initially, but opened up to reveal a struggle of how she can continue to love her son who has declared himself "gay." We had the opportunity to explain to her that her attendance to church does not result in a disdain for her son. I've never had to use this approved website before, but Elder N and I looked into https://mormonandgay.lds.org and found joy in the church's teachings and stance on these things. The church is able to stand for God's revealed principles of marriage between a man and a woman while also holding true to Christ-like love and accepting one another. One talk described how Christ found himself worthy to Atone for every individual...so can't we all be considerate and loving? She seemed to take comfort and hope after our meeting, and we hope it will return a sheep to the Shepherd. (the following is a quote from the website mentioned above)

Elder M. Russell Ballard stated:

“Let us be clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that ‘the experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including [those with same-sex attraction]’” (“The Lord Needs You Now!” Ensign, Sept. 2015, 29).

While same-sex attraction is not a sin, it can be a challenge. While one may not have chosen to have these feelings, he or she can commit to keep God’s commandments. The parent of a child who experiences same-sex attraction or identifies as gay should choose to love and embrace that child. As a community of Church members, we should choose to create a welcoming community.

I wanted to thank Uncle Nate and Aunt Miranda for the package. I'm not sure if my system has their emails, so you'll have to forward my thanks to them. Someone should have seen my surprise to get an unexpected package. It wasn't very dramatic, but it made another round of sorting mail a whole lot better. So thank you!!! My companion and I have enjoyed the beef jerky. Quality stuff there.

I wanted to end with a tribute to what the church should focus on: Jesus Christ. (And it does) But sometimes a culture of who we are supersedes the why of what we do as members of the restored church. A member gave us this quote, which we enjoyed: "I left the Mormon Church years back and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was one of the best decisions I've made in life." His comment was interesting. Consider in yourself, how can you make Jesus Christ more of your center? As you do so, I promise you, you'll always be firmly planted on the rock instead of the culture of what the people on the rock do.

May "scrumdidilyumpcious" be the word you use to describe your next week!"

--Elder Schaff  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Week 64 - "I Know the Sheep of the Mission!"

  Elder Schaff seems to be doing well. This is his report to his dad, and then some of what he sent to me this week-

  "This week passed by faster than Maura running past you fleeing a bee (his sister). Last Thursday we went out with our Ward Mission Leader to visit some families and individuals we can't normally visit because there typically isn't a male at home. (missionaries cannot teach a single woman without a third leader present) It went well and we developed a greater trust with him. Last week we were going to meet him to coordinate our efforts in the Ward a bit, when the attached quote was born. Elder N decided to make an additional quesadilla before we left the apartment, which made us a bit late, but not horribly so. Our Ward mission leader's response is the attached quote.

"An extra quesadilla is quite often required."
--Paul Bundy

  We laminated it, framed it, and gave it to him. He laughed and decided he would put it up in his classroom. (He teaches school in Parlier of all places, so I have some connection with him.)

  I'll try to get some pictures with members like him. That's a big blessing right now--we get to be around so many faithful members. The missionary work is a struggle at times, but everything else is great. Life can never be perfect, can it?

  I'm predicting I'll be in the office until January, maybe February, as it seems quite logical to keep me here for the Christmas chaos. I've outsmarted my work and responsibilities and I'm ahead of the schedule. I often have free-time and I'm studying the scriptures a lot. One of the Assistants (to the mission President) keeps getting really suspicious of me, that I'm not doing much, but it all gets done when he's not around. It must be rough to be an Assistant. Something happens to them all. They stop being themselves and get real up-tight. Elder M was called to be a new Assistant last transfer, and he's still doing well though, so we hope he'll break the mold.

  The leadership in general in the mission struggles a bit with pride right now. President Mackay is trying to work it out. It's interesting to be inside looking out with all the decisions that take place. It seems to me that increased humility and Christ-like sacrifice is all that's required here.

  That's for writing me as always, I appreciate it Dad.

--Elder Schaff

  "Thank you for forwarding the information and the compliment from Sister C Mom. ( I had told Hayden that a mother of one of the Fresno missionaries sent me a message on Facebook saying that she had spoken to him on the phone and that he was very helpful and sounded very grown up.) It's really funny for me when parents call, because I see their name on the office phone, so I know who they are and generally what they're calling about before they can express it. They usually explain to me that their son or daughter is serving there, and sometimes I say: "Why of course, we were here to greet them day one." I know the sheep of the mission! Like the missionaries you listed, I typed up their files long ago. ( I also sent him some names of missionaries who had entered the MTC this last week who are Fresno bound)  It probably gets to me when the missionary department sends the electronic acceptance of their call.

  What is the family plan for Thanksgiving and Christmas? Anything exciting happening this year?

  I replied to Sydney about marching band, what a nice way to end the season. She sure is becoming talented. She will have a nice array of paths in the future.

  I hope you get better from your sickness, flu season is hitting, and President Mackay made the great mandate for all missionaries to get a flu shot. I've had to call in for some lost missionary medical cards since missionaries have gone to get the shot and discovered that they don't have their card to get it for free. I really haven't been sick my whole mission, which I've been grateful for. I try to be more grateful for health these days since we all say we're never grateful for health until we're sick.

  Thank you for writing me, I'm always glad to hear from you. You'll have to talk with Dad, I ran myself out of time to write more.  Enjoy this document of a great quote from our ward mission leader. I think it's fridge-worthy. (quesadilla quote referenced above.)

--Elder Schaff​

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Videos from Week 63 Too!

  Elder Schaff also sent 2 videos this week. When he was serving in Selma, one of the other missionaries would make short videos about their meals or getting haircuts and send them to us because it was a good way to show what they were experiencing, without typing up a description and taking multiple photos. In a similar style, Hayden finally sent a video that shows their fried chicken dinner.

  The second video is of his companion laughing so hard that he almost chokes. This is something that has happened several times over the years in the Schaff family, especially with Hayden's grandfather. He can laugh so hard and get so out of breath that he actually passes out. These two seem to be getting along just fine. I hope the videos load okay because it is funny to hear them laughing so hard and Hayden says, " Sometimes we laugh so hard here, we can't control ourselves." I seriously miss this kid!

Photos from Week 63

  I sent a small Halloween package to Elder Schaff this week. He had problems with a computer virus earlier on his mission that corrupted his SD card and a memory stick. I sent him a new SD card and that helped him to be able to upload more photos this week. This is what he sent and I will copy his descriptions for the captions.

Our signature breakfast burritos, combining Mexican and southern.

This was the 5K race that we participated in last week.

Boy, Elder Noyes is flexible! (Or he ripped his pants....? XD)

 That's a mighty fine breakfast.

Elder Benson

The card that I received from the Orchard Park Ward. Thank you to everyone that wrote in that, it gave me a good boost. It's good to be remembered every now and then!

Week 63 - Happy Halloween

  On Friday evening I received a text from a woman in CA. She sent me a photo of Elder Schaff with his companions at a Halloween party at church. They did not have costumes, but they switched name tags as part of the fun. He has had another good week and is busy as usual. Here is his email-

Halloween party with Elders Benson, Noyes and Schaff

  "Hey everyone, it's Elder Schaff here, live from the Peach & Nees Stake Center. The Youth here are performing a musical: "Warriors of Light." First showing is at 3:00 and we're destined to be in attendance. It's a pity that we haven't been able to find any investigators, because a musical about the gospel that members of our church actually wrote up would be helpful to them I imagine.
  The valiant Fresno North Stake apparently does a musical every three years and we just happened to be serving here when it's happening. The youth have been practicing this thing since the start of September, so kudos to them for their dedication. That's quite the event that came out of a quorum or class meeting or something, eh?
  Life is pretty much the same in the office here. The work of organizing and continuing to support our missionaries continues. We have a lot of baptisms coming in. We might actually reach our goal for baptisms this month! (I feel like we never reach the goal, we always get so close, but it would be good for the morale of the troops to make a goal every now and then.) I feel like our area is still dead-weight when it comes to baptisms. It's a weird feeling of perspective that I take out of it, because on one hand, I understand that our capability of finding people at night in an affluent neighborhood is slim, but I also believe that those people can be found. I just don't know how we could find them yet... Surely ours is a unique call.

  This week the spreadsheet was totally completed. I distributed it to the Zone Leaders and everything worked out. The supply requests came in and we ordered everything, so that we could distribute items at Zone Conferences. The most popular item is...Book of Mormon stories!!!  Apparently the mission is doing good at teaching families, since they ordered 60 copies of Book of Mormon Stories. Being grateful is also popular too, the runner-up was thank-you notes.

  The best part about this week was going on an exchange with Elder Taylor, the district leader. We were blessed to teach two investigators and help them in their progression. Both of these men are desirous to be baptized. I was really touched by the Spirit as we taught the first, Anthony. He had a friend named "C" that introduced him to the gospel. He moved away from "C", but remembered what he had been taught. He ended up sharing a lot of his story with us. He expressed struggles with anger, among other things, and I felt that I related to him and the trials he has passed through. He also expressed a sincere desire to change. He had some questions on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and we answered them for him. He also asked about Joseph reaching Utah, and we explained his martyrdom. He began to cry upon hearing this notion and what the Saints of the gospel of Jesus Christ stood for. The Holy Ghost was present and it was powerful. It felt good to share the gospel once more with those who are willing to act upon it and let it change their lives.

  Elder Benson joined us this week as a special assignment from President Mackay. Elder Benson's body has been giving him a rough time, frequently rejecting food and depriving him of physical energy. He was in a Spanish biking area, and President decided to have him join us in the office and an English area, to promote rest and recovery, and eliminate the stress of language learning. Not much recovery has taken place though. He is an awesome missionary. Just worn out. We'll see what happens.

  The story of Brother K:  Last week I was unable to recall the story of a member I met on an exchange in my area with the Zone Leaders. This man was an interesting case to grow my testimony... simply put, he was a very active member once with many callings, and he served a full-time mission. Now he is inactive and doesn't believe God is real anymore. The spirit testified to me that that is why you say daily prayers and read the scriptures. You never know what you might do without the Spirit....
  I was also blessed to read Doctrine & Covenants 98:11-16 this morning. I got this out of it: we need to do what is right with the things we receive of God, (mainly spiritual knowledge and understanding) that we pass his "proving and trying" of us. Doing so allows the Lord to grant us more and continue our growing process. I testify that the process of growing and becoming more is one of the greatest sources of spiritual joy.
Have a great week everyone!​

-Elder Schaff

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Week 62 - A 5K Fun Run

  I was surprised when my phone lit up last Saturday morning to see a photo that had been sent from someone in CA of Elder Schaff and his companion at a 5K race. Very random and unexpected, but fun. I love it when people text me photos of Hayden, it always brings a smile to my face. This week wasn't very eventful, but sometimes, those are the best kind of weeks. This week, the first part of the blog is from an email he wrote to his Dad, and the last half is from an email he wrote to me (Mom).


Elder Schaff and Elder Noyes participate in a 5K race
  "Yes, we did run a 5K in that very attire we are pictured in. Elder Noyes told me he was going to burn out and would have to walk eventually, and he stayed true to his word, but it was okay. We accomplished our purpose there, which was to have a positive presence for missionaries in the community. We had some funny moments, like when a member and her friend passed us and she said: "and these guys are from my church, they're trying to..." and then she was out of earshot. But we were a topic of conversation I guess. When we walked, several kids made it their goal to have their parents speed up, so they could pass the missionaries, or the "fancy dressed guys."

  Thanks for sharing your take on motivation. I'm striving harder to make each week an opportunity to grow. I'm seeking to fill them with more purpose. They go by so quickly now being in the office. Like this week, I finished off a few things on my to-do-list, and all I had left was this master spreadsheet for supplies missionaries can order. I've spent the majority of the week repairing the formulas on that and putting it back in order. I'll finish it on Monday. I got so close. I had finished the sum formulas a while back, so I've done a lot of formulas that pull it from other sheets, such as:  =Fresno!B201, =Hanford!E59, or ='Fresno West'!C49. A bit tedious but I found that copying the formula and pasting it into the other cells and then changing them, broke up the existing merge cells the sheet had--which long story short, was more work in the end. Nonetheless it's a spreadsheet that goes from AM to 227 9 sheets (times) over, so I've done you proud I think. 🤓  (An XD face just couldn't fit there, despite my general disinterest in these emojis...)

   To be honest, I'm still trying to see how I'm growing from this position. Obviously, management experience and the whole desk job thing, but the missionary work we do in our area is largely with the members and it's hard for us to see what effect we have on them. Life is good, but at times it feels like it's not consecrated...I wonder if that's the nature of my assignment right now or just my perspective. I feel more like a spiritually-in-tune member and less like a missionary. It's interesting and certainly different. So that's my mind for today.

I'm always glad to hear from you and talk with you Dad!"

  "More and more Mountain View feels like a Utah Ward, small boundaries, lots of kids, few baptisms. (Because everyone's friend lives outside the boundaries!) It's okay though, the members are so loving, there isn't much to complain about. Actually, much would be the wrong word, there isn't anything to complain about!

  I've emailed Dad and Sydney accounts of my week. I've been relating that it's been rather repetitive, which has given me lots of room to think. I've been making a greater push to delve into the scriptures with what extra time I find myself with. Unlike last week, with all the different things happening, this week I really just hammered away at a spreadsheet that we are planning to use to make ordering supplies easier for the zones. I told Sydney I think I spent like 20 hours on it combined this week, I'll need one more day to finish it.

  I brought my camera today, but the computers don't read it without a SD card reader. If you happened to have cleaned the old one of the virus, I could use it. If not, not a big deal. (I used Elder B's before.)

  There's really not much more to tell, and I'm running out of time. Ask dad about the 5K, since I described it to him.

  Since I'm sure you'd like to know, Elder N and I are doing great. I think the biggest difficulty we might have in our companionship is if Elder N or I accidentally choke to death--when I tell him jokes, if it's a really good one, he'll just die laughing. It's like playing games with Schaff's at 11:30 pm. He'll often short himself of breath and do the silent wheeze thing, which at that point is such intense laughter, I start laughing too. We get along well and have optimized our schedule to meet the needs of the area and incorporate all of our studies. Life is peaceful and well.

Love you Mom!"

--Elder Schaff