Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Week 70 - Getting Ready for Christmas

   All seems well with Elder Schaff in Fresno this week, he and Elder Noyes have even decorated for Christmas. Here is his news, and let me tell you, I am counting down to the Christmas Day phone call. It's the best part of Christmas when you have a missionary out in the field! I can hardly wait.

  "Thanks so much for all your care and concern for me. I'm quite grateful for our family. I'll be fine until I leave the office. And even then, I'll just need your prayers that I can re-adapt to the full time proselyting schedule and all will be well.

  It's weird for me to look back and read my journals of last year. I'm setting a new goal to read last year's entry of whatever the current day is so I can reflect. I was still struggling to just do things right as a missionary then and was scared of breaking rules and making mistakes while teaching. I've grown a lot and now I'm a leader helping other missionaries out! The Mission Office has allowed me to develop great charity for those other missionaries, which is great because I will probably be serving them the rest of my mission days. Time certainly has gone by fast and the upcoming change will be interesting.

  I have attached pictures of our preparations for Christmas in our room. Time is short, so I'm sorry I can't write more. We had the Christmas Zone Conferences this week as well, which was a great planning success and a wonderful experience if I say so myself. Most of the missionaries enjoyed it as well.

  Elder Noyes and I are thinking probably 2:00-3:00 pm California time for the Christmas Day call, we'll confirm next Saturday. Also President said we can watch a Disney animated film Christmas Day. What do you recommend for that!? I have to make it count!!!

  Tell everyone thanks for the ties. I have opened David and Trevor's, Dad's, Nate's and Brother Hughlett's. I love them all. It's been a blessing to hear from everyone again.

  Alright, I have to go to make it to dinner on time. Have a good week! Get some rest Mom! Love ya!"

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Photos for Week 69

  Elder Schaff sent some photos and videos this week. This is the description that he typed up of them-

  "Also, pictures and videos. The videos are from previous weeks, one is a short commentary of our visit to A&W, and the other flying the balsa wood plane that was an item in a package Uncle Nate sent me. I did get some good loops out of it later, but not on the camera. (Will upload later)

  Photos- It rained one night and the mountains came out when it cleared. I think there's a picture of a Charlie (our dog) clone in this set too.  Also, if there is the picture with the helmet, it was the exchange, where we had the world's shortest 16 year old priest join us. He was awesome, but he's only like 4'6'' or something. There's also Thanksgiving dinner and medicinal tea to cure the flu. With a side of "crumpets," little cookies a member made us for a dinner that were filled with jam."

Elder Schaff and Elder Noyes

Thanksgiving Dinner

After the rain, we could see the mountains

This dog is Charlie's clone.

Herbal tea and some crumpets

An exchange with another missionary and a priest, he is 16 but only about 4'6"

Week 69 - "Fatal Hot Chocolate"

  I have been having a difficult time with my email account, and Hayden's last email got sent to some random folder, hoping I can open it because he sent a long email, plus photos and videos too. I guess we will start with the shorter email to his Dad, then hope to load mine.

  "Hi Dad, how are things going for you?

  I am doing better now. I'll be brief here, since I wrote a huge letter for everyone to Mom.

  Thanks for watching out for me and for getting the USB and the music and all the stuff. I don't remember having "Christmas in Tahoe," which had Train and other stuff, so that was a nice bonus. For the record, the "Bachata" (I think that's how you spell it?) style of Burrito Sabanero has a guy sing it that gets way more into it, so not for my sake, but the sake of the family wondering why I wanted a little girl singing about a donkey ride to Bethlehem, that would be the fun version to get pumped up to. Thank you for getting that song for me though! Elder Morales, one of the Assistants, has that version, so I'll be able to get both.

  I hope work continues to go well and that you survive all of the holiday events. There really is a ton that goes on this time of year! It's crazy. 

  I'm faring well and growing a lot with my new assignments, just as you are, I'm sure, with yours.

  Know that you are in my thoughts and memories and I'm glad to have spent all that time with you. I really miss the magic of those Christmas mornings and being able to play all types of games with you. Whatever new toy we typically got for the Wii or whatever, and later all the board games and reading the rules while you took your Christmas nap. It really was fun to have you have enough time to explore those games with us! Just like the old days, which led me last year I believe to remember our Paper Mario adventures. Ha ha! Thank you for being at my side. Have a great Christmas Dad!!!"

--Elder Schaff

  "Hi Mom!

  The winter snow looks tantalizing. (I had sent him photos of the lake effect snow we got on December 7th)
After being gone for long enough, I've started to miss having it.  

  As for those things, yes, I got the new GPS and USB, all is up and running. Both of my cards came in, so that's fine too. (Mission and personal bank card) I submitted the paperwork to the DMV to get my license renewed with the fee waived, since I was a victim of theft. If it works out, a copy will get sent to the house. If not, I'm not sure what they'll tell us, and you may have to get it. Anyway, I'm not the designated driver for now.

(At this point, this really become story time for the family:)

  There were some big happenings this week, which included an interview with President, teaching my first District Meeting, having another exchange, and "Fatal Hot Chocolate."

  In my interview with President, he told me he was grateful for my service and that this would be my last transfer in the Mission Office. So on January 3rd I will return to the real deal and be back out in the world all day. I think it will be a tough transition at first, and then it will be good, but I really have it easy in the office. It takes a toll mentally, but not very much physically, which I've been grateful for, since I've been sick. President wanted me to train and be a District Leader right away, but I replied and said "I will be happy to do both, but unless you feel otherwise inspired, I'd like to serve one transfer out of the office before I train." (a new missionary.) He agreed that would be logical, since if I did train a new missionary, I would be learning an area and teaching how to do missionary work, and that's a little much for anyone. So we'll see about what is to come. I believe I'll miss the office, but it will be good to return to the more rigorous work. It's certainly not easy, but that's how I'll be going out. 2018 will be proselyting! That's that.

  I taught the District about how the Book of Mormon is essential to the progression of our investigators. We discussed its power and studied some of Preach My Gospel together in Chapter 5, then proceeded to read a story on page 113 and have a role-play on using the Book of Mormon. We then met again and discussed what we learned and continued with why the Book of Mormon is important. I discussed how it allows us to have the Holy Ghost's interpretation of scriptures, thus fulfilling 2 Peter 1:19-21, and found a talk that allowed me to use Isaiah 29:1-6 as an example of how the Book of Mormon explains it clearly. So I went where no District Meeting has gone before: into Isaiah. The point of it being to establish that if the Book of Mormon helps us with something so complex, it will definitely be useful on a simpler scale. I testified of what I taught, gave a commitment, and concluded. Everyone said it was a great meeting and they felt the Spirit of it. It was a good start to teaching the meeting I guess. The Sisters in our district weren't there though, because Sister Mackay decided to round 'em all up for "a Sisters' retreat." Girls always have to do their cute stuff I guess. Sister Mackay later told us that the Sisters need that because they're social creatures...and Elders are not. We're work horses. XD Cool!

  I won't bore you of a play-by-play of an exchange, especially since you're wondering about the last thing by now, but I did an exchange with a missionary that just arrived. It went nicely and allowed him to learn a lot about his abilities. He seemed to really grow from it and it was good.

  Now, Fatal Hot Chocolate:

<<Southern story teller voice: [ON] OFF>>

T'was the 6th day of the 12th month. The #LighttheWorld Christmas video was about not judgin' and was funny. Trainer-Trainee was being held at the office, and we helped to coordinate everything so it ran smoothly for President. Nothing went wrong while everyone was here with us. We had pizza for lunch, but it wasn't very hot and it made some of us feel kinda weird. So we thought maybe it wasn't the best pizza, but we kept 'n going and doing what we had to do. Then later, e'ryone's leavin' an' w're try'n to help 'em get them their supplies they need before they leave the Mission Office fer a while. We finish that. Then Elder Noyes comes up to me and says: "Elder Schaff, do ya want some hot chocolate?" and I said: "Do ya have hot chocolate?" and he say: "Yeh, I'll make ya some güd hot chocolate." Then I say "A'right!"

   Well he brought me some hot chocolate. And I drank it and it was delicious. We went on just fine until 5:00 when we leave the office. We went home since we didn't have a dinner and we cooked some Jambalaya, 'cause Elder Noyes likes that stuff. Anyway, we cooked it, but our bellies started hurtin' and we didn't know why. I ate only a little bit 'cause I wasn't feelin' too swell at that point.

   We went out and proselyted and visited people, but our stomachs really hurt and we didn't know why. We met with the Ward Mission Leader to correlate a bit too. Then we went home and the bot' of us just jumped right on into bed and tried to get warm, 'cause we were feelin' real bad by now. I just curled up and tried to get warm. Elder Noyes took some medicine that probably saved him. We planned for the next day, and then I was getting real sleepy, so Elder Noyes turned out the light at about 9:49. Right when he did that, I felt somethin' real awful and rushed over to the bathroom. Then I broke a promise that I've kept for about 13 years.

<<Southern story teller voice: ON [OFF]>>

  That promise of course, was the promise I made my six-year-old self when this last happened. When I had to stay up with Dad at 2am at night watching Winnie the Pooh Bear. So I flung the bathroom door open and did an epic rock-star power-slide right up to the edge of the porcelain throne, and I bowed myself down and vomited. It was a rather unfortunate experience. It didn't come all at once and so I had 5 painful waves of orange sludge. Right as I was power sliding though, we got a text from the Ward Mission Leader (that we had just visited) and it read: "One of you guys pukin' over there?" Well that incapacitated Elder Noyes, and so he's just laughing and I'm dying. It was about a 40 second battle and then I won. I had to brush my teeth for about 5 minutes after cleaning up to get rid of the acidic and awful taste of it. I saw my lunch and dinner, so I knew I had no energy left in my body. I hurt a lot the next morning when I woke up.

  But the story continues. I proceeded to have not the best day, but I recovered and got better. Elder Noyes however, still had the beast trapped in him. After using the bathroom in the morning he seemed to recover and we went to the Mission Office. 

  Now every scientist worth their salt knows you have to have a few tests to see if your data was accurate. Elder Noyes reached the conclusion that the hot chocolate was the problem, and made himself another cup as an experiment. Sure enough, he got a stomach ache and threw up at about 12:00. It was indeed the hot chocolate. Oddly enough it wasn't expired. We have no idea to this day what the heck was wrong with it. So, look up what can go wrong with hot chocolate or something for us.


  So that was my week. I'm finally feeling better. I still have a lingering cough, but hopefully I won't have any weak muscles or random chills. I'm continuing the work and trying to help President find a successor for me. We have the Christmas Zone Conferences next week on Wednesday and Thursday. I'll attend the Wednesday one. We'll be helping the senior couple, the Tardiff's, box supplies on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for that. Time seems to pass so slowly when reflecting, but it just slips right by looking forward. I'm excited to enjoy Christmas time with a good Ward and have a good holiday, and then I'll be back out into the reality of the work. I did it before right!?

  I hope everyone has a good week and gets a laugh out of my story. Hopefully I wrote it well enough that Sydney or someone can make a good voice for it. I'm glad to hear how things are and hope that your holidays aren't too crazy. Enjoy Light the World too! Go out and find someone to bless! We had a Ward member just get back from a senior couple mission, and he did the math with the statistics that the church reports, which is if you talk to 1000 random people about the Gospel, one of them will accept it. If everyone in an average Ward would talk to 2 random people a day, there could be a baptism every week. If they talked to 2 random people every week there could be a baptism every 2 months and 10 days. I thought that was cool. Of course, statistics lie a lot, but that just means it could be better right? Anyway, 'tis the season, and hearts are glowing. Shine your lights and have a Merry Christmas family!"

--Elder Schaff   

Week 68 - Sick with the Flu

  This week the only email from Elder Schaff went to his Dad's account. He is working through getting the items replaced in his stolen wallet and was relieved that his new bank card had arrived in the mail. Although that has been stressful, he has also been sick.

  "**Gaaaaaack khmncm khmnc kpgtb!** Well, we're on the run again as we sometimes are. I'll try to just explode all I have to say here with you, and you can share it with everyone. 

  I'm glad the family is doing well, because I myself am rather poor and it was sad to lose what I did have. But I've gotten over that. Possibly because I got a new challenge to face. I got the flu or something like it.** Our Mission President had warned us to get flu shots, and Elder Noyes and I attempted to do so, but Walgreens had the wrong birthday for Elder Noyes and so he couldn't get it and we decided to come the next week. We ran out of time that week, then the next my wallet was taken, and I lost my insurance card, and now I am sick. Fortunately, I've made a nice recovery today, and a lot of congestion and gunk is coming out. But this week has been pretty miserable. We did good work, but my body wasn't having it. Fortunately the Tardiff's, the senior couple in the office, really took care of me and provided me with some medicine and things we didn't have.

  I went on my first exchange as a district leader this week. It was strange to be on the other side of things and give counsel on how to improve, but I felt prepared and capable of doing so. We didn't end up visiting anyone on the exchange though, we just rode the bikes and tried to talk to people, so there wasn't much to evaluate. That's the downside of calling the Secretary to be district leader. Nonetheless, I'm doing well with that.

  This week was pretty plain for teaching visits. We just met with a Sister that is struggling a bit with the culture of the church, and it was an interesting experience to get to see through her eyes. She removed her name from the records and was later re-baptized, and this has caused some members to react rather unnaturally to her. She explained her situation, and we learned that lots of members that are less-active or struggling don't like the huge attention our ward councils tend to create around them. Rather, she was looking for people to just be normal, genuine, kind, and accepting. Unfortunately, it seems difficult for us members to do that sometimes, huh? So a little perspective on the inside--don't be overbearing, be realistic. 

  I'd like to write more, but we have to get off to an appointment. I love you all! I'm doing better now, and I'm glad to hear things are well at home. Have a great week!"

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Week 67 - Stolen Wallet, Sad Week, Second Thanksgiving

  While we were driving to Michigan for Thanksgiving last Wednesday, my cell phone rang. I saw that it was a Fresno area code and I prepared myself to hear from someone at the mission office or a member in Elder Schaff's area. I was surprised that when I said hello, Hayden said "Hi, Mom." Although it was great to hear his voice, I knew that something was wrong, or he would not have called. He told me that he was given permission to call home because the car that he and his companion were driving was broken into the night before and his wallet and Garmin GPS had been stolen out of it. Plus a memory stick with all of his Christmas music! The car was parked at a gated apartment complex, but broken into while they were at a teaching appointment. He needed help to get some documents together to file for a new bank card and driver license. There really is no excuse for leaving his wallet in the car, but he knew that, so we are trying to be positive and assist him in replacing the stolen items. He is gaining experience and learning some life lessons along the way. So that was Wednesday. Thursday was Thanksgiving and I am very grateful to the families that hosted he and his companion for lunch and turkey dinner. He enjoyed that, but by the time he wrote his weekly email on Saturday, he was feeling depressed and down about the week overall. He is also missing serving in a Spanish area and wanting to be teaching more. So, kind of a difficult week overall. This is in response to me asking if he was successful in canceling his debit card. Then his main email.

  "Yes, it was cancelled. They (the thieves) attempted to buy Taco Bell, but failed until they discovered I had a little bit left on a gift card there, which put them in the price range to not have to use a PIN with my debit card. Then they bought a Coke. So, $11 came off it. I already had it cancelled and the bank did something for a fraud claim for the $11. One of the senior missionary couples called about the driver's license, and we can get it with no fees if we can get some items together. We have what we need here, except for one document. You would need to send me that. Also, my medical insurance card was in the wallet. Is that going to be a problem to replace?"

  "I'm alright. Things have been bland. Not much is going on in the area and combined with losing my stuff, well, it was just a sad experience. I am surrounded by these missionaries like the Assistants and other leaders that expect to be doing miracles every other week and teaching the nations and nothin' is happening in our area. It's hard and I feel like I'm not making any ground in my work. Everyone around me talks about how things will get better, but conditions don't improve and there aren't people to teach. Then I wonder if my faith is lacking and try to trust more in God, but still nothing happens. I keep feeling haunted by a sense of needing to accomplish more, but getting nothing out on the table. I don't know how to fix it. It's a struggle that spurred in my mind when my stuff was stolen I guess. I've been really bitter about things since my stuff was stolen, and Elder N has been helping me out.

  Thanksgiving day was good though. We had a lunch and a dinner, so we didn't stuff ourselves like some of the other companionships did. Our lunch was with the B... family, and we played a few games of "speed Rumikub" with them while we were there. It broke my deprivation of board games for the streak of 1.25 years. I needed that after a hard week. Thanksgiving morning we also played a Turkey Bowl and all the Fresno Zones got together. It was the grudge match of Israel versus Zion, and it got intense. My team lost all of it's games though, despite some good plays. Nobody seemed to remember to bring water to that, and it was particularly hot that morning with no cloud cover, so everyone was burned out. We took a water break and then played a game of Ultimate Frisbee before going home. It felt good to run. I haven't been able to run hard in a while, since Elder N has terrible shin splints and hates to run.

  Anyway, I know my writing has been drab and sad, but I've put it together that I just need to give my heart and soul to these last months if I want to be satisfied with my work. If I do everything I can in Mountain View area and rich people continually slam doors in our faces, so be it. I know I just need to choose the right mind set. Even in my Book of Mormon reading I came across my predicament in the story of Ammon and Aaron amongst the Lamanites. Ammon had the privilege of converting Lamoni while Aaron got rejected, reviled, and thrown in prison. Then Ammon established the church with Lamoni while Aaron suffered there. Later, Ammon freed them and Aaron did teach King Lamoni's Father, but Muloki and Ammah really got the short end of the stick because they got the same persecutions and weren't mentioned, though present in the teaching of Lamoni's Father.

  No matter how many times I am humbled, it seems I am always being taught more humility. Gosh, the natural man has to be so rebellious! So, that's where I'm at. I'm trying to make the days count, not count the days.

  At the Turkey Bowl I got updates on my converts:

M: Really struggling. Has only attended church 3 times since I've been gone.
L: Got sick and is in the hospital and thus not attending church. Members worry he's a bit crazy.
M: Doing well actually. Got a Temple recommend and found a family name and is ready to do baptisms for the dead.
K: Doing alright. Faith and testimony are increasing. His mom decided to stop investigating though.

  So I rejoiced for the last two, but it's hard to hear that the other two aren't doing so well. 

  Finally, we attended a funeral of a member that passed away in my companion's' old ward. He had made it to 84, and died a natural death, and so there were lots of jokes about some of his "famous one-liners" and other things he would do, and it was actually kind of funny and a good tribute to this man. Of all the things to pull you out of a dismal week, that was a bonus. He was also the world's finest individual missionary. He had ordered over his lifetime 10,000 Book of Mormons from the distribution center and successfully gave out 7,000 copies. His favorite place to proselyte was the local gym's Jacuzzi, where he was apparently found in pink swim trunks from the 50's. The conversation usually started with: "Do you like to read?" His last words were "I'm gonna fight, I still have more Book of Mormons to give, the Lord has more for me to do." Quite the man. His son also shared that one of his favorite insults was "You're not smart enough to pour pee out of a boot." The absurdity of that statement at a funeral got a good laugh.

  So that's what I've been doing. It wasn't the most spiritual week, which is perhaps why I had the above mentioned struggle, but that's okay, there's always hope for next week to come unto Christ. 

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Week 66 - Board Games, Tow Trucks a Cat and some Fog

  Well alright, here we are at the end of November, time is flying by as usual. I can't believe that Thanksgiving is this week, sounds like Elder Schaff and his companion have an invitation to dinner, so that is wonderful. He is busy and doing well, I seem to say that every week, but it is true and for that I am extremely grateful, more than anyone can really know or understand. Let's see what we can post to the blog from his emails to his father and I. Apparently, Michael had written to him about our Thanksgiving plans and hoping to play a bunch of board games during the holiday, and this is what he wrote back-

  "On the topic of games, Joel has informed me about a member in his area that gives us reason to talk with Joel. This member designs and sells board games, and Joel has played some on Preparation Days. He has the inside scoop on what's coming out of the factory!  "There is one member in our ward who makes board games and he is working on releasing one called P.... It is actually a really fun game. Today we spent some time playing it and testing it out . It is a card game based on building planes and hiring employees. It is still in the prototype phase, but it will be on Kickstarter in May. That is pretty exciting for them" (-Joel/Elder Christopherson)

To which I said: "You have a member that makes board games??? Strike a deal for the Schaff family while you're there eh? We'll beta test for him. Seriously!"

To which he said: "Dude I could totally get you the hookups. If you donate to the kickstarter you will get a free game if you donate enough. Tell your family to donate in March."

Further conversation required, but there you go, interesting I'll say. Anyway, you'd better get comfortable with your new games, because you've only got so long to win before I come give you a run for your money!

Schaffs are made of a lot of things, but games are a key ingredient!

Things are going well in the area, it was a quiet week; although Transfer Boards took place. President Mackay and the Assistants were making comments of "how it was hard to keep us Office Elders around." Which I was confused about at first, but a few days later the Assistants gave me a copy of the transfer board and I saw that I'm being called to be a District Leader while still in the office. Which makes sense why it's hard to have a district leader in the office. This transfer might get a little crazy! Or it will stay calm. My mission has never passed by faster!

Today a man got baptized that I taught with the current District Leader on an exchange. The exchange was in October but it seemed recent, life is but a moment.

I also had to break out laughing when I saw that Dylan was called to be a District Leader Secretary at the same time as I was. You should talk with the Manzanares' on that one. Elder Manzanares and I seem to be in sync with callings right now!

Things are going well. Our truck totally broke down on Wednesday, so now we're driving the mission van. Our Zone and District leaders helped find some potentials for us to teach, and things are looking up in the area.

I hope you have a nice week!"

-Elder Schaff

And here is the email he wrote to me, I had told him that his sisters were keeping me running with all of their activities and asking him about Thanksgiving-

  "As much as you thought one less child would be 33% less business, I believe I was usually the quiet one around town! 

Right now we have a Thanksgiving dinner and a bonus offer at 2:00, if we want to start off with that. It should be good.

Board games are exciting as always. I gave the details to Dad, but Joel met a member in his area that designs board games. I thought that was cool. Tell Maura she has to beat everyone for me while I'm incapable of doing battle on the board!

This week was a very quiet week until Friday. It's the quiet before the storm. Transfer hubs break out on Tuesday, and the missionaries hear their fates tonight. The Assistants gave me a copy of the transfer board (the physical piece of paper that models what will happen), and I was shocked to find myself called to be a District Leader while still serving as the Mission Secretary. So isn't that just a merry little Christmas? I guess I've been rejoicing a bit too openly about getting ahead on my office chores frequently, and talking about the time I have had to study the scriptures. This will be interesting. I've never even been the District Leader's companion! Apparently Dylan was also called to do exactly that as well, we're in sync!

It seems like life is going pretty well. How is Maura doing? I haven't heard from her for a while! 

Yesterday and today I studied in Alma chapters 17 and 18. I enjoyed the promise left at the end of Alma 17:15 and Alma 18:20-23. Ammon was determined to bring the blessing of repentance to all. He was able to cause a desire for understanding in the heart of King Lamoni, and when King Lamoni expressed that Ammon could teach him boldly because he wanted to know so badly, Ammon was given great power. And the only thing Ammon wanted was Lamoni's repentance and consequential joy. Lamoni was even "caught with guile" according to the scriptures and was led in such a way that he could in no way resist the Holy Ghost. 

Isn't that incredible? The simple desire of one man was converted into action that changed the heart of another. When we can lead people to sincerely desire truth, they will embrace it.

Alright, I'm sure there will be more to come next week, but I have some pictures. 

--Elder Schaff

"And here we have fog in Fresno"

More Fog

"The nice dusk of Fresno after the truck broke down and got towed."

"Elder Noyes holding a cat we lured into his arms."

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

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 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 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!