Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Week 6 - Flying to Fresno- Sept 28th

  This morning I woke up and found the following email in my inbox, Elder Schaff sent it late last night at the MTC, time to enter the mission field.

"I was able to bust into email! Wow, district goodbyes have been tough, but we know it's for the best. Everyone has grown so much, and now our district and the neighboring one, district F, are like family. Here's the Flight info:

Delta, Flight #4815. Departure time is 11:10 AM. We leave the MTC at 6:20 AM. I'm being told buses take two hours, plus one hour for security. So expect that it will be 9:20ish~~~10:20ish here when I call. Everything is packed and ready to go, just have to get out there! We learned so much this week but I'll have to tell you on the call. Excited to enter the field!

Catch the family soon!" 

--Elder Schaff 

  So, as he stated above, he had permisision to call home at the airport. Of course, I was excited about this, I was anxious to hear his voice and talk to him. So, I cleared my schedule and stayed home. I set my cell phone and our house phone on my kitchen island and willed one of them to ring. The time frame started to pass by, neither phone had rung. So, I finally picked up my cell phone, yes, the ringer was on, and no, I hadn't missed a call. Then I picked up the landline, it had a dial tone, so I looked at the cradle on the counter top and the voicemail light was flashing!! What?! How did I miss a call? I had been home all morning, waiting. I listened to the voicemail, it was Hayden, I had missed him!! I wanted to cry. The worst part was, his voice. He was so sad. I think he was shocked no one had answered, wasn't sure what to say and basically said, "I hope you get a hold of me. Sorry I missed you Mom." What? How was I supposed to get a hold of him? Then, I retrieved the number he had called from and starting dialing it over and over, but it was always busy. I was afraid I had lost my opportunity, but my husband suggested I call the airport and ask to have him paged. I didn't know that was possible, but I quickly found the number to Salt Lake International, called it, hit the prompt for, "request a page" and then a wonderful gentleman answered. He asked me who I needed to page and why. I simply told him I had missed my missionary's phone call and he responded with something like, "Well now, we can't have that mom. What is your son's name? Now listen close, do not hang up under any circumstance. This may take a few minutes, but we will page and find your son, and the next voice that you hear will be his. How many minutes until he boards?" I told him, waited a few minutes, then all of a sudden, Hayden said, "Mom, are you there? This is great, there were only 4 pay phones, and 5 of us missionaries, now I am speaking on an airport phone. How did you find me?" It was amazing. What a thrill to hear his voice!!

When I didn't answer the phone, he had decided to go eat breakfast and try again later, but now, he was so anxious to tell me more about the MTC, and how hectic getting to the airport was that morning. He had assumed they would board a bus and go directly to the airport, but that did not happen. A group of 24 missionaries left together. They took a short bus ride to the nearest Trax station in Provo. Then took a train up to SLC, then had to transfer to a different train to get to the airport. I guess it was quite stressful to have so many moving together and they had a lot of luggage between everyone. A few missed the second train, but they all got to the airport eventually. He had to remove his scriptures from one of his big suitcases to meet the weight limit, but other than that, he did fine. After that, the group divided up, about half heading to Eugene, OR and his half to Fresno, CA.

He told me he loved the MTC. That he was nervous when we dropped him off, because he wasn't sure what to expect, but once he settled in, he had done great. He said he felt the same way about going to CA, nervous, but sure that it would be fine. He was eager to find out who his trainer would be, where he would be assigned to serve, where he would be living, etc. I could have talked to him longer than 20 minutes, but I finally asked him to hang up with me and use his calling card to call his dad, who was at work. So, he was able to do that and he told Michael that he only had a few minutes before boarding his flight, but that he was excited to get going. He said he had gained 8 pounds while at the MTC, so, he had to stop drinking the chocolate milk! So, the milk rumors are true, but he was so thin from running cross country, that gaining a little isn't a major problem, and his bike has been assembled and is ready and waiting for him in Fresno, so he will be burning calories soon enough. It was great to connect with him today.

He had a direct flight from Salt Lake City to Fresno and arrived safely this afternoon. This evening at the mission home, he was able to send a short email to give us an update. We are not nervous for him at all, we know he is in good hands, that President and Sister Clark are ready for these new missionaries, and that he is going to be well cared for. He is excited to be serving in California and anxious to get acclimated to his new surroundings. This was his email-

"Hi mom, I have been given the chance to email after arriving here in the mission field. I have arrived safely and they have received us all with open arms. The Elders and Sisters here seem, nice, which is good. The Preparation day we have here will be on Mondays, and I will be able to email you then. I am emailing from the secretary’s email, so respond to my “” account. We’re about to go out and do an “open your mouth street contacting exercise!” You'll hear from me Monday."

--Elder Schaff

And so it begins...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

End of Week 5- September 21st

  This marks the end of five weeks for Elder Schaff at the MTC. He received his flight plan last Thursday, and was able to share with us today, that he will be flying from Salt Lake City to Fresno, CA next Wednesday, September 28th. In his call packet, we were told that he can call us from the pay phones at the SL airport. Not many airports have pay phones any more, but you can bet we will be anxiously sitting by the phone next week to hear his voice. In other news, after a very long wait, he finally sent photos!!

  "So much happens every week it's been overwhelming to write it all in the journal sometimes, let alone the weekly email! This is week 5 right? One loses track of time in the MTC, everything just becomes a blur of spiritual experiences, learning, eating, sleeping, *Alarm noise* and repeat.

The District- Four Elders and Three Sisters

Elders Turner, Jones, O'Neill and Schaff

   The events of the week were that Elder O'Neill and I taught our last lesson with "M" on Friday, and we didn't know it. We thought we had another week to continue teaching! We only had to cover the law of tithing as the last commandment and were getting excited. We assumed she was a real investigator based on her style of conversation, but it is possible that TRC investigators are just role-playing members. 
  On Sunday, we realized we were down to 8 days for some of us. It's a tradition in branch 28 that districts on their way out sing a song in sacrament meeting. So we've been practicing himno 41, ¡Grande eres Tu! (How great thou art) The plan is to sing the first 3 verses, then shut the book and sing the 4th verse and chorus memorized. We've all been working on it and I imagine it will be powerful.
  The Sunday devotional was by an MTC President, President Mehr. I wasn't really a fan of the devotional, but I guess it just wasn't a topic that spoke to me as much. I still took notes, as is ingrained in me being a student. One point he hit hard was that we will have to rely on the Savior at some points in our lives, it's inevitable. What I liked more on Sunday though was that I viewed a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at the MTC in 2012 called "Missions are Forever." I wrote 8 pages in my 5' x 8' notebook on the talk...
   I can't cover it all, (Seems to be the theme of emails really XD) but the main idea was that a mission is an experience that is treasured forever throughout one's life no matter how long ago it occurred. Elder Holland spoke about how quite possibly no young man was changed more by a mission than himself, and that every blessing of his life seems to have resulted from what he learned on his mission. His points he made were that you can't afford to waste a single minute of the time out there. A missionary has to live in the here and now because the mission will be over before he knows it. "Your mission IS real life, you're not leaving the real world for two years, pausing your life, and coming back. This IS real life, right now." He taught how, arguably, this is the closest we get to real life, serving God with all our heart. If the world didn't get in the way, wouldn't that be the most valuable thing for us to do? He spoke a lot about miracles wrought by obedience and by following the ways of the Lord in our teaching. A missionary ought to be faithful, accept the rules, and have patience when reminded over and over to follow them, because they are the keys to success in the field. His last great points were to go and astonish people; show them the power of your message. Show them how it brings light into your life. Have a smile on so they can see that. After all, we "just happen to be" enagaged in the work and glory of God... His greatest remark though was his testimony. "Why is missionary work so hard?" he asked. "Why don't people line up in front of the apartments every morning waiting to be baptized?" The answer is that salvation isn't easy. It's not easy because it wasn't easy for Christ. "The road to Salvation goes through Gethsemane, and carries a cross to the summit of Calvary." Powerful words. If we are taking the name of Christ upon us we can only expect to share a small portion of the toil and tears he went through. It will be difficult and heartbreaking at times, but it will make the experience sweet in the end.
    Without pausing, Elder Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the 70 spoke at the Tuesday devotional. His talk was on the astonishing power of the church's position, and what it means for us. Think about it: This church is either entirely true, or completely wrong. There is no middle ground. Either it is God's truth or it is a complete fraud. This position does not exist in any other church. If one knows the Book of Mormon is true, the other principles of the church are true as well. No middle ground exists.
  The powerful message of this talk was that when we look at the church's point of view, it really is an easy work. For missionaries, everything leads up to Moroni's promise (Moroni 10:3-5) If we can get people to have a true desire to learn, and then read the whole book, and pray about it as Moroni directs, they will receive an undeniable witness of it's truth. That's what we have to strive to show people. The talk also included 26 points that make our church unique and well organized to maintain the position aforementioned. I won't include them all, but here are some: A) the nature of the Godhead as 3 separate beings. B) The Atonement of Jesus Christ. C) The literal reality of resurrection. D) Reality of modern revelation H) Agency I) Salvation of little children O) Eternal marriages Q) Christ's second coming T) Church welfare system Z) The testimony of members worldwide. (26 points, so it fit to the alphabet.)  Anyway, I thought that was a really cool talk. 
  I know the gospel is true and am excited to get out and serve others, I know it has been a blessing to learn so much here in the MTC. Whether you're a member or not reading this, I know that reading the Book of Mormon will improve your life. Strive for 20 minutes a day. Look for the parallels to life today. Apply the message to yourself. You will grow. Thanks everyone for seeing how I'm doing! It will nearly be two weeks till next time... Until then I guess!"

--Elder Schaff

(Say hi to everyone for me mom, know I love you guys!)

Elder Schaff, Elder O'Neill, Hermano Jake, Elder Turner and Elder Jones

Elder Schaff with multiple glasses?!

Provo Temple

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

One Month Mark- September 14th

Today marks the end of week 4 for Elder Schaff at the MTC. He is all fired up about the work, had a great week, and had two more visits from apostles of the Lord.

"We're through with week 4 of the MTC and the reality that there is only two weeks remaining is setting in. The district has become more like a family and it will be weird to split ways and realize, as Elder Turner has pointed out: "We'll only be 1/17th of the way there" or something like that.
  It's been an eventful week. Following Elder Christofferson on Tuesday, we were met by Elder M. Russell Ballard on Sunday, and heard from Elder Quentin L. Cook on Tuesday. That scores 3 Apostles in a row, which all the teachers say is unheard of. Many lessons about improving teaching have been learned, pounds have been lost and gained, and Spanish skills increased.
  Spanish first I guess. Because of my experience in going through AP 5 at the high school, all the Spanish lessons have been really easy thus far. We're starting subjunctive tomorrow though, so hey, maybe I'll get a boost. I'm very confident in present, past, conditional, command, imperfect past, perfect present, gerunds, and past participles. But the subjunctive is always tricky. Fortunately, I've been able to use the learning resources to study it a bit. I can recognize it, but can't really use it speaking yet.
  In the TRC (teaching resource center) we teach investigators, but some of them may be members acting as investigators to give missionaries practice. My companion and I were teaching our TRC investigator for the second time, on Joseph Smith and the Restoration. She said she had been taught it many times by previous missionaries and proceeded to teach US the Restoration and First Vision.  "Vi una columna de luz, más brillante que el sol, directamente arriba de mi cabeza...." Anyways we were very surprised and with nothing really to commit her to, had her pray on the validity of the subject once again.
  Upon our return, she had prayed and said she knew once again it was true. Astonished by her previous knowledge, we asked what things she didn't understand that we could help with. She mentioned enduring to the end. We brought up the Plan of Salvation, which she said she was mostly unfamiliar with. After a lesson on God's plan for us to be happy, we asked her if she would be baptized and she said "Sí, yo sé que esto es que es necesarrio para mi a hacer en mi vida." And with that, my companion and I got what I believe is our first converted investigator; if it was a member that was role-playing, I don't think they would accept the invitation on the third lesson.
   Before I try to cover two Apostle talks, my district always attends the choir. Brother Egat had us singing "Nearer My God, To Thee," and in his spiritual teachings he gives while we are learning the song, he explained that the song is about Jacob leaving his home and family after Esau plans to kill him to retake the birthright. Jacob rests his head on a rock near the side of the road he is traveling, and wakes up to be visited by angels, who I believe Brother Egat said gave him a Temple Endowment. Nonetheless the ordinance accompanied by a vision coordinates with "yet in my dreams I'd be." Jacob decides to build a Temple to the Lord there, which then would be called Bethel. I believe the song mentions a Bethel raising? At least the choir piece did. Other lines like "my rest a stone" also confirm this connection. Interesting! 
  Brother Egat also shared a story about a commercial he saw. A scientist takes a glob of normal peanut butter, and applies it to this strange machine. The machine closes in on the peanut butter and heats up. The scientist explains that the machine will continue to apply pressure and heat to the peanut butter for 3 days. After the 3 days, the machine is opened and a black capsule falls out. The scientist takes it, bludgeons it with a hammer, and the ugly black shell breaks away to reveal a diamond. The scientist explains that the diamonds made this way re indistinguishable from regular diamonds. It is a parable for us. We are like the peanut butter, rather ordinary individuals on Earth. The machine is God providing us opportunities to grow through by letting us have our agency, as well as to conquer burdens and trials placed on us in our lives. (Heat and pressure!) As described by Brother Egat: "If peanut butter could talk, no glob of it would go into that machine saying 'oh boy I'm so excited,' but rather "why me? I'm just an innocent, ordinary peanut butter (person) like everyone else! Don't make my life harder!" Nobody wants extra trials. But when that peanut butter comes out as a diamond, a perfected state of being (like God!) do we think it complains about the process? Or does it plead for other peanut butter friends to face the heat and pressure as well? 
  While a bit silly with the personification of peanut butter, I found that really interesting. God isn't just trying to protect us He's trying to perfect us.
Alright. 2 Devotionals from Apostles... I wrote about 5 pages of notes (in a mini notebook) for each talk, so I'll give my best points. 
  M Russell Ballard:
"It's always what people feel in the beginning stages of conversion, far more than what they know. They connect with what they feel emanating from you, (us missionaries) the Holy Ghost. 
"If you can forget yourself, and replace that for the Love of God and Jesus Christ, you will be powerful beyond belief."
"Be thankful for every day you have as a representative of Jesus Christ. Jump out of bed with enthusiasm, you've only got so long."
And one silly one: "If I were a young missionary right now I'd be dynamite." -M. Russell Ballard.
  Quentin L. Cook:
"Act like someone who possesses the full truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. People will notice that and believe it."
The 4 Loves: "Love your companion. Love the people. Love your mission President. Love the Lord." We have things to offer to everyone of these groups/people, and have just as much or more to learn and gain from them.
"Preach My Gospel was designed so that it could no longer be memorized. We should only memorize the feeling of the Holy Ghost so we can teach other people heart to heart, like the individuals they are, according to their needs."
"There is nothing more important you could be doing right now."
  Finally, Quentin L. Cook invoked a blessing on us, that "we will be blessed in every way possible by the Lord; we will know this work is true, and will convey it with power to those we teach. We will be blessed to overcome challenges that inhibit us."
  That makes 3 blessings from 3 Apostles. There will be hurdles. There will be disappointments. There will be persecutions. But after all these things, how can I not go on in this just cause??? I'm excited to share the message with all who will hear it!"

--Elder Schaff 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hump Day! Three Weeks Down and Three To Go- September 7th

  This is Elder Schaff's email that he sent for me to post to the blog this week. All in all, he sounds good. He has been having fun with another Elder writing some song parodies. Of course, the first song they changed up was, the Pokemon theme song, now they are working on a few Disney tunes. I am glad to hear that he is having a little fun because the MTC schedule is demanding and there is not much down time. It sounds like he is keeping very busy, and has had many teaching opportunities this third week. On a more serious note, one of the 12 apostles came to visit the missionaries during their Tuesday devotional, bet none of the rest of us can claim that privilege! Enjoy-

"Alright! Week 3 is done! The previous P-day was a big challenge, as my companion and the other two elders we're always with, and I didn't plan the day very well. Today is going much better! Since last week I've taught 7 lessons and a Priesthood lesson on Sunday, and we were visited by Chad Lewis for a Sunday devotional, followed by none other than D. Todd Christofferson for the Tuesday Devotional! Wow! I'm not sure what needs to be said for the day to day happenings, it's a lot of studying and learning, and it's hard to write it all down! Fortunately I have most of the important stuff down in my journal. I have selected the best pieces to share from that today. The only interesting note is that my comedic nature has resulted in a running quote board of interesting and funny things I say, which was opened up to things anyone says. (But 5/8 quotes listed are by me!) I'll get those sometime for everyone.
  The first recurring and grand lesson of the week was the necessity of the Atonement in everyone's lives. I've learned that this is the way we turn to God and maintain an inner peace with ourselves more consistently. One of the visiting leaders on Sunday had my companion and I give him a door approach at the end of the Sunday interview. He remarked that we did well, but that what was most important to remember was that when we teach about the Atonement, we have to remember that it not only takes away our sins, but also our pains we feel from bad choices day to day. Why wouldn't someone want to hear what we have to say then? That was touching, and it's true. Soon I'm going to be walking around with a message of peace and happiness for everybody. Who wouldn't want that? Only those that can't comprehend the value of such!
   The next experience was my companion and I were teaching our teacher (Hermano Jake) who was pretending to be an investigator named Inocencilo. He said this was a real person he taught in Mexico on his mission. At this point in the lessons, Inocencilo had just lost his job and was worried about life and his family. He hadn't kept our commitments to read or pray about the Book of Mormon. So as we talked with him we promised he could know that God was there for him in his life if he would pray. We then invited him to pray right there in the middle of the lesson. After a long pause he said yes and said the prayer. The Spirit was so strong in this moment I knew he must have felt it too. Inocencilo said that he felt something too, and we explained this to him to be the Holy Ghost. It was a powerful lesson. Afterwards, Hermano Jake informed us that the investigators the teachers pose as are people that did not accept the gospel at that time; thus they feel that they can act more like an investigator, and that in turn, the prayers we say for these lessons do actually call someone by name and help them. I thought that was pretty inspiring.
   The third lesson I learned this week was that we should seek to do good for the right reasons. There is this some-what long story called the parable of the oranges to go with it, but I don't have the time to type that all this week. The lesson, however, was that sometimes we set our minds too much on the rewards of achieving things, and become robotic and less human-being in this process. The parable taught of a young man working studiously in college to get a high-paying job, and then working excessively to get a promotion (which he does not get because he is only concerned for himself!). It was a more complex lesson of serving others because we truly care about them, not because we feel it benefits ourselves. 
  Hermano Jake taught us something else very valuable this week as well. It was concerning commitments and incentives to those we teach. He said that teaching is like trying to entice a 5-year old to do something you know is good for them, but they don't want to do. How do you motivate a 5-year old? You give them a sucker. Well, let's say we're teaching about prayer and that God loves everyone so he wants to hear from everyone. We can promise the person they will start to find God in their life by doing so, which would be a reward we'll call a Grape sucker. Well what if this person doesn't like Grape suckers? Maybe they just want to feel more peace in their life, which prayer can also bring. Well then we need to promise them peace, or what we'll call a Watermelon sucker, this investigator's favorite flavor. Now they are going to follow up with that commitment; there is something that they need that they can get from doing the commitment! 
  The lesson is to find people's Watermelon suckers. If we offer them what they need most in life, they will be able to see how this gospel will bless there life! Teaching is uplifting and simple right?"

-Cya, Elder Schaff

A late addition to this week's email-

"We were teaching members of the the church in the TRC center which has investigators and members to build confidence with teaching. One of the members we taught was Chilean, and he taught me and my companion a valuable lesson. He said the people we have been teaching have left their countries they loved for some reason and likely don't like it here. They have received promises from the law, and they have not been kept and fulfilled. They will be able to discern this from you. Their hearts are hardened. You must prove you really care about them as individuals, as I know you will, to soften their hearts. Only then will they listen and they will be most grateful for you and what you have taught. 
     If there is something more powerful than that when it comes to teaching, tell me! I know that's true. If we teach with love, people will see this message is about them, and that we really care about them. I hope I can show everyone I teach that.
   You'll hear from me next week!"

--Elder Schaff

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Two Weeks at the MTC- August 31st

  By all accounts, Elder Schaff seems to be doing just fine in the MTC. The first week, we sent him a small care package through Dear Elder. Then, the second week, we had a dozen cinnamon rolls delivered to him to share with his district. I also sent a care package in the mail with all the food and snacks he wanted, like Oh's, Cheezits, granola bars, and more. So, we definitely knew he had enough food and snacks to eat and share. We were anxious to hear more about his MTC experiences though. This is the email that he sent on Wednesday, August 31st.

  "Used 30 minutes of my time, gonna write again later today. Kinda rushing this one off, but will send another one. I'll try to think if I need anything else. With the food you sent, I probably won't need any more food again. 

Had so many good spiritual experiences. I probably will need to have you start a blog or something for me and refer family and friends to it, so I can write to everyone. I'll try to attach some photos today, but haven't really taken many. Never much time to coordinate them. 

Oh yeah, I wanted dad to try to send some of his mission stories in emails, cause I think they'd be inspiring as well. His message about Jesus The Christ inspired me and I've read 20 chapters, now on page 327. Wish I had studied more instead of played video games, but that's how it goes I guess. That'll probably make you laugh.

Cya later today!"
-Elder Schaff

  I have to admit that I was hoping for a little more than that, and was a little discouraged, but very late last night, another email showed up in my in-box. Hayden and I had also decided during the day that we would start this blog, so that I could post group emails for him.

  "Hi family. This first part will be for you. I've been writing the events of each day in my journal everyday, but keep it safe in my room so that I don't lose it. Maybe I'll bring it next week to write an email out of. 
   I can't access the blog link mom sent me because the missionary accounts literally can't do anything. We can't even use google, unless you type in URLs to navigate. So I think I'll have mom add emails to the blog for me. (Below I will try to start it...) Also sorry no pictures today cause of chaos. Next week I'll try my best...."

  First group email-

  "Hello everyone! These first two weeks at the MTC have been busy, spiritual, frustrating, tiring, touching, and powerful. From hunger pains to anxiety of not knowing what to say in Spanish to an "investigator," (a teacher posing as one) to the joys of spending time with friends and the great joy of the Spirit, this is a busy place, literally and intangibly. Since this is for everyone, I better run a character call.
  My district is composed of 7 missionaries, 4 Elders and 3 "Hermanas" (Sisters). Nos llamamos Elder O, (My companion) Elder Schaff, Elder J, Elder T, Hermana K, Hermana G, y Hermana K2. Our first teacher was Hermano Jake, who is absolutely amazing. His father grew up on the Navajo reservation, and the promises to faithful Lamanites in the scriptures was an inspiration for him to believe in it at first. (I'll elaborate this story later.) Hermano Jake is still our teacher. Our second teacher is Hermana Tolk, who was our pretend investigator the first week. She only speaks Spanish with us in our classes which is good practice, but we still haven't started to learn anything that I haven't understood beforehand. Oh well, I'm sure it will get tougher soon.
  So that's everyone. I've written down the best spiritual experience of every day in my journal so far, because there are so many. I'll plan on sharing those next email. But for now, the best experiences our district has had so far seems to be the film session allotted to us missionaries every Sunday after the Sunday devotional. The first week we opted to watch "The Character of Christ," an exceptional talk by Elder Bednar to the MTC on some Christmas day. Apparently it's only shown in the MTC, which is a shame because it's rather inspiring. It taught to be humble, to forget ourselves in the work and take up the character of Christ. So, find examples of Christ's character! One example to get you started is that after Christ's Atonement, he was betrayed, and was to be taken by the guards to be crucified. In defense of Christ, the Apostle Peter, drew his sword and cut off the ear of a guard. After suffering the sins of the world and being betrayed by one of His own, Christ takes the time to forget about himself and heal the guard's ear. Christ turns outward when any normal individual would turn inward in selfishness. Try to reflect that! It's tough! Second, we saw the new church video on the Restoration of the Priesthood, apparently only available in the MTC or at those actual sites. If anyone is nearby, I believe it was Harmony, PA and Fayette, New York. It would be worth it! The video was so touching and was from the point of view of Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, and how God worked miracles for them and through their hands as they had faith to know if the Book of Mormon was true; this faith was of course rewarded. It was amazing to see the testimonies of people grow, in a few instants after hearing the truth of the Book of Mormon, even if they were actors. My district all agreed afterwards we felt a strong Spirit from that, and that this very feeling of the Spirit was why we wanted to become missionaries, to share that happiness with others.
  Hope that gives people a taste of what I'm up to. I know my testimony of the church has grown, and especially my testimony of the Book of Mormon. Even our teachers pretending to be investigators say they follow our teaching commitments, and that by reading the Book of Mormon every day they have found great joy in their lives. I know this is true for everyone and would invite all to shrug off their doubts and take the challenge.
  Hope you know a little Spanish to read the titles!
  Til next week everyone!"

-Elder Schaff    

First P-Day- August 24th

  It was hard to wait a full week to hear from Elder Schaff again. We were sending him letters via the Dear Elder service, so he was getting a printed letter to read each day, but he could not respond until his P day. Eventually the week passed by and this is part of what he wrote to us, I'm going to edit it, as some of it was written just for our family or he was answering specific questions for mom or dad.

  "I'm going to attempt to write one giant email here for everyone mom, share it with our family. Nobody is really emailing me yet so I don't have a need for a blog or anything yet. 
    I'm going to rapid fire answers to your questions. Orange Juice? Everyone swears it's laced with laxative. Tastes normal, but rumors are confirmed. MTC record is 8 glasses in one meal.
  Didn't forget anything I can think of, I'd like Cheezits and a Breakfast cereal like Oh's if possible. They don't staff the cafeteria Sunday morning so you have to fend for yourself.
    Food is delicious for the most part, very well made and tons of variety as well as options, no need to worry here. A few things like eggs are cafeteria style and not fantastic, but they have a ton of condiments including hot sauce, so I'm doing fine.
   Spanish classes? There is a time each day where our teacher, Hermano Jake, (Jake is his last name!) teaches us Spanish or about gospel/lessons in Spanish. However, we are doing things I consider very basic and he says we are going at a "very good, fast pace" that we are "the most successful, and diligent class he has had." He's a great teacher, but we have to teach an "investigator" who is really a role-playing member. I wish we could tackle harder things like subjunctive tense and haber constructions, but I guess I have to humble myself. So really, my best Spanish has been the Spirit and Gift of Tongues in lessons. Esta bien. (What we say to reassure good feelings)
  Church is by zone, and several districts form a zone which is called a branch. There are branch leaders, 2 of them speak and 2 missionaries speak. Everyone has to prepare a 3-5min talk and could get called to speak at random! In Spanish! They seem to pick people leaving this week though.
   The schedule is rough, very limited time, it feels like you can never achieve enough. It doesn't bug me, don't worry, but it's just not easy. Even our P-Day is scheduled. I also gave Sydney a basic schedule, so you can look at that.
  The Spirit is so strong here and is almost a constant companion. I can't really describe all the experiences enough. The best was this talk/movie that was recorded when Elder Bednar spoke to the MTC one Christmas, called the Character of Christ. Very complex. Very powerful. If it can be found on youtube somehow, you and dad should watch it. They claim it's MTC only.
  Juan A. Uceda spoke at our devotional yesterday. Devotionals are on Sundays and Tuesdays. He spoke from the eyes of an investigator, because he was an investigator once in 1972. It will help us with our teaching. 
  I have used 30min of my email time, but will check again and reply later today.
  For now, 2 funny scriptures engraved into bathroom stalls, and therefore meant to be read in the bathroom. (We laugh so much here too, don't worry)
Jeremiah 4:19-21
Alma 60:7

Sending more later today,"

Elder Schaff

  Later in the day, we received a second email, and finally heard about his companion, which I had asked him about. I also asked him what he was doing during gym, which is 5 days per week at the MTC.

  "Gym time we use the fitness center because of weights, machines, ab workout equipment, etc, lots of variety. Will change it up now and then.
  Before I forget, send as much of the physical mail from Dear Elder as you want, because I can read all of that and prepare for a response over the week. Plus, it's fun hearing from you guys everyday. Maura seems to write pretty well!
  My companion is Elder O. We get along really well, both like to joke and laugh, but know how to get serious and get things done when we need to. Sometimes he gets over-stressed, but that, with my lax nature (as long as I don't blow my fuse) (haven't yet) works out really well. He is from Ogden and is going to SLC South. Interesting for Spanish.
  Doing well, and gotta go now!

  And oh yeah! I loved the stressball for whatever reason with it being a globe and all. Cya later!"

Elder Schaff

First Email- August 17th

  The missionaries at the MTC are asked to write home the very first day, so that their family will know what day of the week they have been assigned as their preparation day or P-day. This is when they can write home, do their laundry, and take care of other personal matters. This was Elder Schaff's first email, sent Wednesday, August 17th, 2016.

 "Hi family! It's been 4 hours since you dropped me off and I'm still doing fine. P day is Wednesday, so you can expect it every Wednesday. I was taken by the host elder, who dragged my luggage while I received more items for the mission. He brought me to my room and then to my first class and that was that. Started Spanish class with 6 others, 3 elders, 3 sisters, and me. That's our district. Went to a big meeting with everyone that arrived today. About 600! Had dinner, was sent to the computer and about to start a class again. Write you next time!"