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 

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