Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 11- Happy Halloween from Fresno

  When you only get to communicate by email once a week with your missionary, some things just don't get talked about. We only discovered from Elder Schaff today, that he and his companion have had a car this whole time! I thought he was riding his bike, but he says he hasn't even used it yet. Sometimes I wonder what else he is not communicating to us! Oh well. As usual, he told us multiple times that he was short on time for writing today. So, I am going to have to get creative to pull some lines from various emails to come up with his blog entry this week. I did ask him if they had to return home early tonight, because of Halloween, and this was his response-

"We are confined to apartments after 5:00 pm because of the clowns....did I mention them before? Haha, anyway, we have been safe the whole time and will be tonight, don't worry."

"We have a car. Haven't moved the bike an inch yet actually, area is too big to try even a day on bikes."

"Working with Elder M has gone much smoother, we finally figured it out. (Please note, he does speak English too, it's just not super good English) It's been more cultural and character traits, not language that has been hard. Anyway, it's all good now! We haven't had any sort of a conflict or low moment this week, and we've been doing better at correcting each other with kindness."

"An Hermana in the ward, Hermana S (the mission mom) took us clothes shopping and bought us complementary sweaters. I also hunted down some ties."

"We have an excess of groceries, and I still have $5 on the mission card that will go back to the mission. I won't go hungry Mom!"

"This week "M" came to church, and became a solid for her baptism date in November. It had to be moved because she couldn't come to church the last two weeks. She's super great, and is already trying to figure out how she can share the gospel with her daughters who are 24, 26, and 29. She's already a missionary! Haha, so that's awesome! We had to drop a family because the parents said they were sorry, but they can't change from their Catholic traditions/Mexican culture. That was too bad, because they understood the BOM (Book of Mormon) really well!!! Oh well. Another investigator, whose sister is an inactive member, had a tough experience on Thursday, but suddenly has a desire to hear our teachings, and to follow commitments. She promised God that she is coming to church next week!

 I'm out of time now....write the blog as best as you can.

Love you all!"

--Elder Schaff

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 10- Treadmills and Peppers

  The emails that we sent back and forth with Elder Schaff today were a little disjointed. He didn't have enough time to write a very good general email for the blog, but sent some personal emails to his sisters and answered some questions from Michael and I, so I will try my best to cut and paste a few things that may be of interest. 
  At home, Hayden has always eaten hot things. He loves peppers, and spicy food and especially condiments, like really hot, hot sauce. So the following email did not surprise me...

  "This strange drink was given to me by one of the members, and cures all stomach pains. I won it because I ate 3 chili peppers at their house that night. I didn't suffer until the third one. (They were between Jalapeño and Habanero level)
  My "fame has spread all about the land" apparently, because at all the members's houses I'll try their spicy things and not really break a sweat! It's been a good ice breaker for me, as I really struggle at times to be open and sociable!"

  Sounds like Hayden and his companion had a few laundry issues this week-

  "After sending email last week, something tragic happened, our clothes didn't dry! We hung up all the clothes and they dried over two days, but Elder M had to iron his sheets to dry them! (I didn't wash my bedding this time!)"

  He also told me that he has been running on a treadmill at the gym, maybe in their apartment complex, and is working hard to get his one mile time down. I think he misses cross country. Hayden thinks that he will be with his trainer, Elder M, for about 12 weeks, which is around Christmas time. And then he added a little more about his week- 

  "The entire rest of the week was really good! Our companionship is doing great. Our investigators are learning, but they aren't getting to church! I'm pondering very hard how I can show them what it means to me to attend, and how important it is. If one of our investigators comes to church once more, she can be baptized.

Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."
This is a little gem of a scripture that says if we have hope and desire, we progress toward the tree of life. I've been working on applying that, and have seen results when I have the desire to do the work!

This week was all about patience, hope, and desire!!!

(Out of time, bye everyone)

--Elder Schaff

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pictures from a Training at the Mission Home- October 15th

Trainer/ Trainee Training

I am copying these photos from the Fresno Mission blog and sharing, so we can see some of the wonderful and dedicated missionaries who are serving in Fresno at this time. To see the entire post by President and Sister Clark, please visit
Smiling Faces are Great to See!

Week 9 - Working Hard

  Mondays are always filled with anticipation in our household, as we wait to receive Hayden's emails. Unfortunately, they generally start to come while I am teaching piano lessons, so I cannot respond to him, he just responds to our emails. Still, it is good to hear from him, he seems to be doing great and is working hard, and as a bonus, this week he sent a few photos!!

Elder Schaff at the Mission Office

Elder Schaff and his companion at the Fresno Temple
 Below is the email that he sent for the blog, but my favorite line was not in this email, he sent it in our family email, and I am going to share it, because I was just so touched. I think he misses us, he wrote, "I want to say that I'm really grateful for each of you and wish that I had spent a little more time with everyone. You guys do the best to do that now. I'll apply it when I'm back." 

 "Hello everyone! Well, this week has been a burden (in the beginning) and an immense joy. It started poorly last Monday evening. My companion and I went to teach a less-active member and apparently my companion had decided that I needed to teach this lesson without any of his help. The catch was, he didn't tell me that this was his expectation. Well, after about 40 minutes of my awkward Spanish conversation, (this happened because my companion would participate in the casual conversation) I realized that Elder Mendez was waiting for me to start the prayer and lesson. As I prepared to do so, he decided that I was clueless and concluded the lesson with a prayer. I got ROASTED that car ride home. Worse than a pig on a forgotten BBQ spit! I received a hard lesson about having enough faith to follow the Holy Ghost in all things that I must do, even if it means responding to something when I didn't fully understand what was said to me. Very tough, but very true. 
  Since that moment I have been more faithful in the work and the last 6 days have generally gone well. So much has happened!
  Our investigator "M" has accepted everything that has been taught thus far. She likes how the commandments really only bless our lives and sees the importance in them. She just needed to come to church yesterday to be baptized, but she didn't come!!! So now we'll have to aim for a new date for her baptism. She is really firm and sees the blessings of the gospel in her life. As a result, I think she'll be baptized at some point.
  I met Familia "L" for the first time this week. "N" is the head of the family, and has a wife and 4 kids. Really only he and his wife listen. They also see the blessings of the gospel. The hurdle for them is also church. Sometimes they are too busy to receive lessons as well... we hope that by bringing members with large families that they can understand the importance of church and see that it is possible.
  "G" is a 60-year old woman who has received the lessons fairly well. The hurdle is also attending church... then we were given some interesting information as we taught the commandments...she has a 45 year old boyfriend, unmarried, living with her! This becomes a limiting factor as unmarried persons living together cannot be baptized. So the details of that story were shared with my companion and I, but are very long. Long story short, I hope we can help her understand how to work that out.
 "A & L" are unmarried and living together. "A" was recently baptized. "L" thinks she wants to be. They are making renewed efforts to attend church. We're working with them about living together. They're unsure about marriage, so they think they might separate living areas until they are able to make that call. But they know the gospel is important! "A" has a strong desire!
  I'm working every day to play my part in contributing to the mission, and how I can help despite my clearly weaker level of Spanish at this time. It's my testimony that counts!
  On that note: I know that this church is undeniably true, and that it is only through Jesus Christ that we are able to heal our souls. He is the Savior of all the world and invites all to draw unto Him, and He will aid them. We only need to make the effort. The Book of Mormon is a true book of scripture, and is so important because all of the stories contained in it relate to the challenges of today. Finally, the Holy Ghost is an important guide in our lives, and as we do the will of God, it will bring us peace and joy, a kind like no other on this Earth. To feel this joy is God's purpose for us in this life. I testify of such in the name of Jesus Christ.

I hope that's a good enough summary for the week! Have faith and all things are possible!

--Elder Schaff   

His apartment
Another view, do I spy a dishwasher?!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 8 - Feeling More Comfortable in Fresno

  Since Hayden was feeling overwhelmed and some what discouraged last week, I was hoping that things had become better, and not worse. Well guess what his opening line was this week? "Whew. I am doing a lot better." What a relief, and an answer to many of our prayers! So, here is his weekly email.


 "Whew. I am doing a lot better. Let's talk about this week. The work has still been rather hard, but I've started to gain my solid ground once again! It started out a bit rocky, if we go back to last Monday evening for the start of this week. Elder M has gotten on my case about not saying much in lessons and I was angry, but didn't react, because it was true, and I had to learn. So, I started striving to be able to say things in lessons. I prayed that I would find more success than these last few days, and that even if my Spanish was weak, that my Spirit would not be. Well, I was blessed to not necessarily excel, but to grow and to participate more. 
  We've been teaching an investigator named "M". She is currently a single mother, all of her children are in their 20's, and all are girls. One of her daughters has two children. Only "M" listens, and at some point in the past, communicating in a normal voice lost it's effect on people, so about 70% of the family's communications in the background is yelling and such. Nonetheless, "M" has really taken the lessons to heart amid the chaos. She even came to church yesterday! It was a close call though, we had to visit her at 9:00am and found her waking up. She was able to arrive by 9:40, and heard all the testimonies, but missed the passing of the sacrament, just barely. After all the meetings, we talked with her, and she said she was really glad to have been there and that she felt so peaceful. She also said she was surprised how kind everyone was and liked the classes. She is planning on attending next week, and if so, can be baptized on the date we set as a goal. I'm very excited for her because I know it can bless her life!
  On Thursday, I jumped a hurdle for speaking Spanish. We had two appointments at 8pm, so my companion and I split up with the 1st counselor and Ward Mission Leader. Elder M trusted me with the investigator and he went to a less-active member. So off I go, with Hermano S, the 1st counselor. Fortunately he speaks both English and Spanish. He talked about his mission and profession and I was able to connect with him. It was a great stress reliever. At the lesson, I taught the importance of obedience to God's commandments, as well as following the prophet, and trusting that modern day revelation exists. Hermano S pitched in here and there, but I taught the majority of the lesson. I realized that even with weak Spanish (compared to the people here) I could teach by the Spirit and that they wouldn't care so much that I spoke slowly. Hermano S gave his testimony of how he converted from Catholicism to the LDS church at the end, and he gave a lot of interesting historical views that he said changed his mindset. The investigator is Catholic, so it was an interesting scenario. He hit some points pretty hard, but the investigator wasn't offended, they just listened. These were: "If you think about it, who really formed the Catholic church in it's entirety?  The Romans. Who killed Christ? The Romans. (The Jews didn't have legal power to kill Christ, so the Romans had to for the events to take place.) "Additionally, the Apostles of Christ's church were always writing Epistles to people to teach how to govern the church properly. We have pieces of those like Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, etc, in the Bible. But the Catholic church didn't do this. They started accepting the views of all to maintain membership. The word Catholic, means 'universal' and thus the Catholic church became the church for all."  He said that, and I was sitting there like: wow, I hope that doesn't offend the investigator. but it didn't. The Spirit was there. It was a needed and true testimony.
  Other events have included visiting several less active members. Refugio C, whom I believe I spoke of last time, has made progress in stopping his smoking. He really wants to change, but the addictive power has him buying cigarettes anyway. Every time we visit, he gives us any cigarettes he has to throw away. He has expressed sincere love for receiving the scripture we share. One of them I shared with him was Proverbs 3:26, which I found when looking to give a message to someone else, but it applies to everyone. It talks about letting God be our confidence. So apply that to yourselves. Whatever confidence you lack, God can provide for you, if you remember to trust in him. 
  These were the most important lessons this week. I'm excited to grow and teach more people. As I write this line, I realize: We knocked some doors the other day. After a long run of rejection we caught a lady that had a reasonable interest in hearing more later, so I hope when we follow up that will go well! Hoping "M" continues to progress and that I can continually work better with Elder M. He has taught me well, but sometimes a bit coarsely.  Nonetheless, I'm trusting in God, and even after everyday where my head hits the pillow and 2 seconds later it's 6:30 AM again, it's all worth it. The trials sweeten the flavor of joy."

--Elder Schaff

I asked him if he could share with me which talks he enjoyed from General Conference on October 1st and 2nd. This is what he wrote back to me.

"As for my favorite conference talks- D. Todd Christofferson, Quentin L. Cook, and Neil L. Anderson were my favorites. They helped me get through those first days and remember what I've got to do to fulfill my purpose. In Neil L. Anderson's I liked the promise, "As we pray for opportunities to stand as a witness of God, they will come. The Spirit will carry our words to those people." I also enjoyed that he said we need everyone to stand as a witness of Christ. I wrote that "we are where we are because God needs us in certain places, everyone, everywhere."  I just liked the reminder I received from Quentin L. Cook in the symbolism of turning my stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Finally, I liked the depth provided by D. Todd Christofferson in explaining God's love for us, the power of the Atonement, that we never must look through at our potential through the glass darkly. We have to see through the eyes of Christ. Always strive to see what Christ sees in you. The symbolism of the olive pressing process I found out in the MTC. However, I did not know that the oil was a deep red until his talk. That really made a symbolic connection I appreciated."

Saturday, October 8, 2016

More Arrival Photos in Fresno

And the photos just keep coming, and so I had to copy and share with all of you. Enjoy!

Twenty New Missionaries Arriving at the Fresno/Yosemite Airport

More Arrival Photos, Look for Hayden's Bright Blue Tie
Twelve Elders and Eight Sisters Arrived Together

Smiles all Around While at the Fresno Mission Home

More Smiles
New Missionaries, Mission President and Wife, and the Trainers

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Missionary Photos

  The best decision that I made over the summer was having a family photo shoot before this son of mine left for his mission. Now that he is gone, I have all of these wonderful photos, and more, to remind me of him! All of the pictures were taken by Carolyn McAfee at McAfee Photography and I think she did a great job. I will be forever grateful to have captured this moment in time.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 7- Monday, October 3, 2016

  Elder Schaff always had his preparation day, or P-day on Wednesdays at the MTC, but now his P-day is on Mondays. So, he was able to write to us from a computer at a family history center today! He has been assigned to serve right in the city of Fresno. His companion, Elder Mendez, is from Columbia, and speaks very fast Spanish, but enough English, that they are trying to communicate, although poorly, at times. Hayden is working through some frustrations, but change and growth are usually good in the end, right?! I am going to cut and paste various emails that he sent to his MTC district, and to us, and hope it makes some sense, as he did not type one specifically to post here today.

"Not going to lie, my first 5 and a half days in Fresno have been rough. Elder O'Neill called for native (companions) before we left the MTC, and my companion is Elder Méndez, from Columbia! He's been out a while and knows a decent amount of English, so I can communicate with him in either language. The thing is, all my movie quote jokes are worthless, as he hasn't seen them, and apparently movie quotes are banned in the CF mission. (Doing so requires 5 push-ups) The real struggle though is I don't understand Elder Méndez's accent too well, all the time, and that's problematic. 
   I quickly concluded that my Spanish level is not up to par. I can speak, but never seem to understand what other people are saying to me. I'm trying super hard to learn, but it hasn't worked out too swell. All the locals ask me how long I've been out. In CFM, we're supposed to say under a year/over a year so members don't judge our abilities by time here. They all look me in the eyes though and tell me I'm new. One Hermana in the ward loves to meet the missionaries, and as you can guess, I ended up there. She read my distraught mind. She told me I had fear burning in my eyes, and that I really ought to remove the visible tension in my body and relax more. She said I shouldn't even dare try translating English thoughts to Spanish in my head, that's not how it works. Well that's all a sound indication of me on day 3, but that doesn't give the road to progressing eh? 
  Fortunately that's the end of the bad news. I really miss everyone and having the security of the "MTC Fam" but you've gotta drop comfort zones to grow. I ended up in Fresno itself, and a free-for-all was declared the day I arrived, for the Spanish missionaries. Fresno is normally divided into 3 sections, but now Spanish missionaries have full access to all Spanish investigators, and any other contacts. Fresno also has a lot of inactive members, and we visit them frequently. 
  With already existent investigators and the plethora of inactive members, there hasn't been a day that we've done anything other than teach lessons and eat meals. We contact people that we pass by going to apartments for lessons and such. Even though I can't comprehend all the exchanges in the lessons, I can see that people generally want to change, and are grateful to have us visit. 
  The very first inactive we visited was Refugio C, and for district 28G, this man is nearly Inocencillo. He is a Mariachi, and has been away from church for about a year, ever since his wife died. He took back to smoking after his wife died and stopped attending church. He always looks super sad. He wants to stop smoking but can't seem to do it. We taught lessons about faith the first day, and I shared 1 Timothy 6:12 and that got him to smile and give my companion a box of cigarettes so he wouldn't smoke them. The next time we visited we shared (Ballard...?'s) general conference talk about finding joy in life. We then reminded him he had all the resources to feel joy, but he hadn't used them. He began to cry, said he knew what he had to do, and gave us another box of cigarettes. (Which he claimed was all he had at the time.)
  So even though I have complained about the language barrier and all the other hardships, I've had good experiences, and the struggles are for my gain right? I don't think I'll ever stop learning about humility in my life 'til I'm an old man. I even managed to yell at my companion because he wasn't satisfied with my apartment cleaning efforts. Nonetheless, I made an apology and all is well for now. Pretty sure everyone else's companionship's are doing better, yeah? 
  Fresno apparently is the 4th highest baptizing mission, and is the only one of the top 4 outside of Utah. So, not to brag or anything... XD but CFM is da best!!! (Say that with a swag voice) There's a lot of people here ready to learn, and in need of it too. Hopefully I can increase my ability and rely on the Lord so that they see that.
    After all, Ether 12:27. Hope everyone's doing great! Next week will be better! For, "Today shall be the greatest of days, unless of course tomorrow is even greater!"

--Elder Schaff

  Then Hayden was able to type this email to me-

"Hi family. Well, I didn't hear what my companion said in Spanish, so I didn't realize we were emailing until I walked into the family history center. We get an hour and 30 minutes to get the job done here. I am lacking any form of notes or photos, so I'll try my best. 
  This week was a hard week. I'm not used to the craziness of the schedule. The MTC is like girl's camp versus high adventure. Everything is given to you at the MTC, and now that I'm here, I realize everyone spoke super slow Spanish in the MTC. Now I've been dropped in an environment, where almost all the population speaks Spanish, that isn't my generation. The children are mostly bilingual, but we're supposed to teach in Spanish anyway. I have discovered that I can speak, but cannot understand or generally communicate. (At least yet.) I should have pleaded with Hermano Jake a bit harder to get him to teach the class in fast Spanish once. My trainer is from Columbia, and so Spanish is his first language. He has a strong accent and I struggle to understand him a lot of the time. His patience seems to run thin with me asking what he said over and over. I can't understand his Spanish any better because it's just as fast. So Spanish really has been a downer for me.
  As mentioned in that other email, I am however still learning a lot in the things of the Spirit. This week was all about humility for me. I just feel like everything I do is coming up short of the mark. Elder M never really encourages me, but told me this morning that it's all for me to be able to move fast on my own one day--fair enough. It's just hard. It really is. It's going to get better though. I'm certain of that. I know you guys are always cheering for me back home, and that keeps me going. 
  The Subway card for my companion worked, but failed for me. The receipt was in my room because I didn't think I'd need it. I'll have to bring it next time. I then tried to pay with my debit card, which got denied. A man behind us at this point got real mad because he was already late for ending his lunch break apparently. So, then I had to get out the mission card to pay that one. That wasn't the best start for me.
  If I can't write a final email in time for the blog, you'll have to take elements from these two to write it." 

Love everyone,

--Elder Schaff

Then to his sister-
"For Maura: I think of you smiling if I'm ever down. I want you to study the Book of Mormon everyday and you'll be so glad you did (Maybe you're already doing it.) Keep working hard to learn and to have fun. Every moment counts, and I really see that being out here. Hope to get your emails, so I can give you some more direct advice/words. I hope you know I miss you. Have you done anything fun with my room yet?

Miss everyone, but doing good,

--Elder Schaff 

Photos of Arriving in Fresno

  On Saturday morning, I woke up and found an email from Elder Schaff's mission President and wife. They had sent a nice letter and two photos of Hayden at the mission home. It was great to see him smiling in California and with his trainer, Elder Mendez, who is a native of Columbia. He has been assigned to serve in the city of Fresno for now.

We are pleased to share the attached letter and pictures of your missionary here in the California, Fresno Mission.  “The Lord’s Vineyard where we serve because we love Jesus Christ."

Sister Bonnie Clark
Mission President’s Wife

President Clark, Elder Schaff, and Sister Clark
Elder Mendez and Elder Schaff