Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Week 19 - First Christmas in the Field

  This Christmas was a unique experience for our family with Elder Schaff on his mission. Of course, we missed his presence at home, but in the end, we had a wonderful Christmas in NY and he enjoyed Christmas in California. He had been reading letters from family and friends each day in December and said over and over that he really appreciated those and it was real boost for him. Then on Christmas Eve, the missionaries met at the mission home for a holiday celebration. He and his companion, Elder Lopez, had dinner with a member family, the Salvador´s, that night and were given pajamas, and other gifts. They have been so generous and good to my son, and for that I am very grateful.The next morning, after attending church, they were able to return to the Salvador´s to call home. Hayden was able to FaceTime with our family for about 40 minutes. It was wonderful to hear his voice, see him in front of us and catch up on things. He shared a Christmas message with us and bore his testimony in Spanish. He was laughing and joking and pulling faces at his sisters, so that was fun, but he also seemed a little older and wiser too. I loved every minute of that call, until he said good bye. He told us that he didn't want to cry, but when it came time to hang up, the tears started to flow, from him and from the four of us. I wouldn´t want him to be anywhere else right now, but it is still hard to be separated. This is how Hayden summed up Christmas in his email on Monday the 26th, which by the way, is Schaff Family Game Day. Each year we gather with friends and family to play the new games we opened on Christmas. The last few years, we have had 30 to 40 people stop by between 10 am and 10 pm on the 26th. 

  Happy Schaff Family Game Day everyone! If you don't celebrate that, you should!!!

  Alright, so the obvious event of this week is of course, Christmas, but before that, the week!

  So (M) smoked this week, so she's having to postpone her baptism, which is really tragic because she wants it so bad. We told her it would be ok, and that the extra time would help her prepare even better for baptism. (G) came to church again! She has nearly finished 1 Nephi in the BOM. She seems to be doing really good, we're going to try to set up a baptismal date with her this week.

  (A) didn't want to come to church and she didn't have work. Arguably it's Christmas, but she hasn't read, or prayed, or done anything lately, so we're trying to figure out what to do, because she said she knows the Book of Mormon and the church is true, but she isn't acting on it!!!

   We decided to get "Ricciardian" with our finding, and found two new investigators this week doing so! Working to find more! So many people are out there just waiting for this message of pure joy, I just know it!
  (Non-blog note: Hopefully mom/dad can summarize "Ricciardian") (Note from Mom, from what I understand, Hayden read an article about a missionary´s experience in Europe, and it talks about being bold and sharing the gospel with everyone that you come into contact with during the day, so he and his companion have been trying out the approach)

   Christmas: To be honest I woke up on Christmas Eve unexcited for the holidays and feeling extremely robotic. The 24th was after all, just another regular day of missionary work. We went caroling, as the 6 missionaries of Echo, but few doors opened to us. It was a good experience regardless. Later, we decided to do some finding efforts and found a new investigator, as well as a potential investigator, that wanted to have us visit later today. The Christmas Spirit lit up a bit more in me at that point.

   Then, that night, we had Christmas Eve dinner with the Salvadors and they surprised all of us with presents for each one of the 6 of us. Then I opened it up and got pajamas, a CD of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and a missionary book, defining various doctrine more clearly. The pajamas did it for me, that was what we always did back home. That surprise of generosity allowed me to rekindle that mystical Christmas Spirit that seems to naturally flow into the night when you're a little kid. I really needed that being a missionary.

   Then came Christmas day, and we still had personal study like we always do, ha ha. After that we went to church and I realized I'd never gone to church on Christmas Sunday before. (Unless when I was young?) (Note from Mom, yes he did, but he doesn´t remember) I remembered reading Henry B. Eyring's article in the December 2016 Ensign, and how he said he was looking forward to that glorious moment to take the Sacrament on that Sunday Christmas morn. I decided I would join him in rejoicing in this gospel, instead of having the focus on presents, like I once did as a youth. After making that decision, I strongly felt the Spirit for the remainder of the day. That alone made it a magical Christmas to remember for me.

   We had planned to do the call home at the M family, but they had woken up late and weren't ready in the morning like we had planned. We didn't know where to go to call our families! (Because we didn't want to have to wait!) Fortunately, the Salvadors helped us once again, and let us call from their tablets. Then they fed us lunch! I was so grateful for their selfless hospitality. Everyone was so happy in their home after having a Christmas together as a family.

  We visited the M family afterward, and then went to a family that had scheduled Christmas dinner on our calendar. They had all of their extended family there, so the presence of missionaries wasn't extremely notable in that environment, but we did leave with a message of Christ at the end.

   Then we hadn't found a family to watch a movie with, so the Salvadors again invited us in to watch a movie and we decided on Finding Dory. That was a good conclusion of the night. We returned home and planned our day today, and then opened up all of our gifts.

Elder Schaff with his gifts from the Salvador family

Stockings and gifts under the felt Christmas tree

Wearing the pajamas from the Salvadors

   I was overjoyed to see how many people were aware of what I am doing and that they do care for me, hoping the best for me. It was a very different Christmas, but a Christmas to remember. (Our ward in NY had sent him a large envelope with letters in it and he had other letters and gifts beside the gifts we had sent him and the Christmas stockings for he and his companion)

  I'd like to thank everyone that sent me anything, either in the 24 days of Christmas letters or as a physical present. It really made for a great Christmas.

 I almost made it through the family phone call without crying, but I was bawling at the end of it. (Maybe they didn't see too much of that!) But as my good leader Brother Hunter once taught us, it's not weak to cry. It's strong to take the time to enjoy the moment as it feels to us, despite what others may say!

  I didn't have a game to my name to extend my fame and reign and that's quite lame on this wonderfully tame Game Day! Somebody better be celebrating for me!!!

  Jesus is the Christ, the gospel is absolutely true, and it is the means for eternal life and salvation. Can't be too bold, if you are loving. Spread the gospel and help others accept it!

--Elder Schaff 

These freshly made Tacquitos were his favorite food so far. 

Churros were a good dessert.

The McGregor family with Elder Lopez and Elder Schaff

All my plants fell over last week. The strongest one was chosen to try to salvage and is being braced by a candy cane. You must have strong roots!!! 

Stocking contents

What hit me hardest was first just the little plastic Zip-Loc bag of candy in there, the standard of Santa. For a moment, my apartment was home.

 I tried to make the letters look cool.

Christmas gifts

That was some pretty good art work by Cassandra!

Hayden by the felt Christmas tree that we had sent earlier in the month.

Companionship Photo

No comments:

Post a Comment