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 https://californiafresnomission.blogspot.com.

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 https://mormonandgay.lds.org 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 individual...so 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!

Week 63 - Happy Halloween

  On Friday evening I received a text from a woman in CA. She sent me a photo of Elder Schaff with his companions at a Halloween party at church. They did not have costumes, but they switched name tags as part of the fun. He has had another good week and is busy as usual. Here is his email-

Halloween party with Elders Benson, Noyes and Schaff

  "Hey everyone, it's Elder Schaff here, live from the Peach & Nees Stake Center. The Youth here are performing a musical: "Warriors of Light." First showing is at 3:00 and we're destined to be in attendance. It's a pity that we haven't been able to find any investigators, because a musical about the gospel that members of our church actually wrote up would be helpful to them I imagine.
  The valiant Fresno North Stake apparently does a musical every three years and we just happened to be serving here when it's happening. The youth have been practicing this thing since the start of September, so kudos to them for their dedication. That's quite the event that came out of a quorum or class meeting or something, eh?
  Life is pretty much the same in the office here. The work of organizing and continuing to support our missionaries continues. We have a lot of baptisms coming in. We might actually reach our goal for baptisms this month! (I feel like we never reach the goal, we always get so close, but it would be good for the morale of the troops to make a goal every now and then.) I feel like our area is still dead-weight when it comes to baptisms. It's a weird feeling of perspective that I take out of it, because on one hand, I understand that our capability of finding people at night in an affluent neighborhood is slim, but I also believe that those people can be found. I just don't know how we could find them yet... Surely ours is a unique call.

  This week the spreadsheet was totally completed. I distributed it to the Zone Leaders and everything worked out. The supply requests came in and we ordered everything, so that we could distribute items at Zone Conferences. The most popular item is...Book of Mormon stories!!!  Apparently the mission is doing good at teaching families, since they ordered 60 copies of Book of Mormon Stories. Being grateful is also popular too, the runner-up was thank-you notes.

  The best part about this week was going on an exchange with Elder Taylor, the district leader. We were blessed to teach two investigators and help them in their progression. Both of these men are desirous to be baptized. I was really touched by the Spirit as we taught the first, Anthony. He had a friend named "C" that introduced him to the gospel. He moved away from "C", but remembered what he had been taught. He ended up sharing a lot of his story with us. He expressed struggles with anger, among other things, and I felt that I related to him and the trials he has passed through. He also expressed a sincere desire to change. He had some questions on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and we answered them for him. He also asked about Joseph reaching Utah, and we explained his martyrdom. He began to cry upon hearing this notion and what the Saints of the gospel of Jesus Christ stood for. The Holy Ghost was present and it was powerful. It felt good to share the gospel once more with those who are willing to act upon it and let it change their lives.

  Elder Benson joined us this week as a special assignment from President Mackay. Elder Benson's body has been giving him a rough time, frequently rejecting food and depriving him of physical energy. He was in a Spanish biking area, and President decided to have him join us in the office and an English area, to promote rest and recovery, and eliminate the stress of language learning. Not much recovery has taken place though. He is an awesome missionary. Just worn out. We'll see what happens.

  The story of Brother K:  Last week I was unable to recall the story of a member I met on an exchange in my area with the Zone Leaders. This man was an interesting case to grow my testimony... simply put, he was a very active member once with many callings, and he served a full-time mission. Now he is inactive and doesn't believe God is real anymore. The spirit testified to me that that is why you say daily prayers and read the scriptures. You never know what you might do without the Spirit....
  I was also blessed to read Doctrine & Covenants 98:11-16 this morning. I got this out of it: we need to do what is right with the things we receive of God, (mainly spiritual knowledge and understanding) that we pass his "proving and trying" of us. Doing so allows the Lord to grant us more and continue our growing process. I testify that the process of growing and becoming more is one of the greatest sources of spiritual joy.
Have a great week everyone!​

-Elder Schaff

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Week 62 - A 5K Fun Run

  I was surprised when my phone lit up last Saturday morning to see a photo that had been sent from someone in CA of Elder Schaff and his companion at a 5K race. Very random and unexpected, but fun. I love it when people text me photos of Hayden, it always brings a smile to my face. This week wasn't very eventful, but sometimes, those are the best kind of weeks. This week, the first part of the blog is from an email he wrote to his Dad, and the last half is from an email he wrote to me (Mom).


Elder Schaff and Elder Noyes participate in a 5K race
  "Yes, we did run a 5K in that very attire we are pictured in. Elder Noyes told me he was going to burn out and would have to walk eventually, and he stayed true to his word, but it was okay. We accomplished our purpose there, which was to have a positive presence for missionaries in the community. We had some funny moments, like when a member and her friend passed us and she said: "and these guys are from my church, they're trying to..." and then she was out of earshot. But we were a topic of conversation I guess. When we walked, several kids made it their goal to have their parents speed up, so they could pass the missionaries, or the "fancy dressed guys."

  Thanks for sharing your take on motivation. I'm striving harder to make each week an opportunity to grow. I'm seeking to fill them with more purpose. They go by so quickly now being in the office. Like this week, I finished off a few things on my to-do-list, and all I had left was this master spreadsheet for supplies missionaries can order. I've spent the majority of the week repairing the formulas on that and putting it back in order. I'll finish it on Monday. I got so close. I had finished the sum formulas a while back, so I've done a lot of formulas that pull it from other sheets, such as:  =Fresno!B201, =Hanford!E59, or ='Fresno West'!C49. A bit tedious but I found that copying the formula and pasting it into the other cells and then changing them, broke up the existing merge cells the sheet had--which long story short, was more work in the end. Nonetheless it's a spreadsheet that goes from AM to 227 9 sheets (times) over, so I've done you proud I think. 🤓  (An XD face just couldn't fit there, despite my general disinterest in these emojis...)

   To be honest, I'm still trying to see how I'm growing from this position. Obviously, management experience and the whole desk job thing, but the missionary work we do in our area is largely with the members and it's hard for us to see what effect we have on them. Life is good, but at times it feels like it's not consecrated...I wonder if that's the nature of my assignment right now or just my perspective. I feel more like a spiritually-in-tune member and less like a missionary. It's interesting and certainly different. So that's my mind for today.

I'm always glad to hear from you and talk with you Dad!"

  "More and more Mountain View feels like a Utah Ward, small boundaries, lots of kids, few baptisms. (Because everyone's friend lives outside the boundaries!) It's okay though, the members are so loving, there isn't much to complain about. Actually, much would be the wrong word, there isn't anything to complain about!

  I've emailed Dad and Sydney accounts of my week. I've been relating that it's been rather repetitive, which has given me lots of room to think. I've been making a greater push to delve into the scriptures with what extra time I find myself with. Unlike last week, with all the different things happening, this week I really just hammered away at a spreadsheet that we are planning to use to make ordering supplies easier for the zones. I told Sydney I think I spent like 20 hours on it combined this week, I'll need one more day to finish it.

  I brought my camera today, but the computers don't read it without a SD card reader. If you happened to have cleaned the old one of the virus, I could use it. If not, not a big deal. (I used Elder B's before.)

  There's really not much more to tell, and I'm running out of time. Ask dad about the 5K, since I described it to him.

  Since I'm sure you'd like to know, Elder N and I are doing great. I think the biggest difficulty we might have in our companionship is if Elder N or I accidentally choke to death--when I tell him jokes, if it's a really good one, he'll just die laughing. It's like playing games with Schaff's at 11:30 pm. He'll often short himself of breath and do the silent wheeze thing, which at that point is such intense laughter, I start laughing too. We get along well and have optimized our schedule to meet the needs of the area and incorporate all of our studies. Life is peaceful and well.

Love you Mom!"

--Elder Schaff

Friday, October 20, 2017

Week 61 - "What Do You Live For?"

  Alright, so let's get to it. This week marks 14 months for Elder Schaff in the mission field. He finally has a photo to share from Kevin's baptism and more details about his new companionship. This time he responded to a lot of my questions and subjects that I wrote to him about, and then he started to write more for the blog, but I am going to share some of both parts of his email. Oh, and he made me cry, when I looked up the Mormon Channel video clip that he mentions. My own father was an accomplished pianist and loved his piano, he aged just like the woman in the video and also used oxygen before he died. The parallel was a little too close to home for me. Then last year, I inherited his beloved piano, and enjoy sitting and playing it, just as he used to. Each person in the video plays the same melody on the piano. Today I printed out the sheet music of that song and started to sight read it. I wasn't expecting all of that to unfold, from reading Hayden's weekly email, but I have been on a roller coaster of emotions. Take the time to enjoy the video and the songs, I put links in below.

Elder Schaff with Kevin, Elder Derbidge and Elder Lopez in Selma

Hi Mom,

  Some church media made me think of you. There's a video on Mormon Channel called "A Piano's Purpose." I can't remember if I shared that with you already or not, I really like it though. A departing missionary that liked the piano melody asked me to find it, and I found a link to it, but afterwards he left the sheet music behind. I've taken a few cracks at it. I'm not much for two-handed coordination, but I played some of it. It's called "See the Potential" you may like the melody.

  Also, just in general for the family, there is a song in the 2017 Mutual Theme Album called "What Family Means to Me," I think it's an accurate description of the good things about families. Check them out!

  My new companion and I are doing great right now. I think I mentioned it last week that Elder N is from Florida, and is capable of a true southerner's accent. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera to email this week, but last Saturday we made homemade fried chicken and mac and cheese. I took a video of everything we had when it was done, similar to the video we got from Elder Nielsen back in Selma, because it was the easiest way to cover everything quickly. Anyway, that was a fun thing to do. We cook a lot now.

  Elder N likes music and likes to sing, has a good sense of humor, and has a very motivated drive to do what is right and required of him. He is older than most missionaries, as his papers got lost in the shuffle for a few months while he was waiting to get called. He is determined to make his mission count and has an energized and happy spirit. He also laughs hysterically to many jokes that I have made, and sometimes he has laughed so hard that I can't help but laugh. Even thinking about it makes me smile!

  I was writing Dad a bit, but I'd like to ask you as well, what do you live for? I'm amazed at how quickly life passes by me while I serve here in the Mission Office. I've almost been with Elder N for two weeks. Where does the time go? I've been in the office for 2 months starting today. Didn't I just arrive? Every area I enter seems to make time whiz by more and more quickly.

  But I was also telling Dad how I'm led to the conclusion that a life focused on the Plan of Salvation is a happy one, regardless of how fast it goes or whatever else is accomplished.

  This week was also transfer week, and church travel lined up the departing missionaries to leave on the same day that new missionaries came in, which was a bit hectic. I was distributing numbers at transfer hub again, which are used for the missionaries to park their cars in order. I don't know if I've ever really described "transfer hub." There's a Stake Center right next to the Temple, and the two parking lots merge into one big parking lot. All the cars line up on the road next to this, and are brought into the parking lot 8 at a time. These groups of 8 usually work just right to have all of the missionaries move their things to their new assignments and be on their way, and then another group comes. While I was distributing numbers, Elder N checked on car registrations and things like that. As always, we also got to see first-hand that it takes Sister Missionaries about 3 times as long to say good-bye as it does Elders! It's an interesting phenomenon.

  The new infantry units arrived....wait, I mean new missionaries. There were 22 of them, again! It's a lot. So I gave my speech to them about email and preparation day, baptismal records and checked if they have ID that will expire before they go home. That's only a 6-7 minute process, but x22 it took about 4 hours. Crazy!

  The new missionaries were paired with their trainers on Thursday. We have the trainers line up in groups of 2-6 to meet their trainees, once President announces it. Then they run to their trainee and give them a hug and sit down. Usually. This round a few of the new missionaries got picked up and carried a distance, one even all the way to his seat, others bear-hugged, but most striking was one that got tackled. This impact unfortunately broke the new missionary's glasses, so I pray for that companionship!

  Work in Mountain View area has slowed down a bit. We haven't seen as many people recently. But with transfers, we got a new District and Zone Leader, and we hear that plans have been made for them to try and find some people in our area. We'll see if it has any effect! It's hard to preach the gospel in affluent places.

  I do want to share though that my testimony continues to grow. I have been blessed frequently to see the parallels that the Book of Mormon has with modern life, and I find myself receiving constant revelation and guidance as to what I should do next or where I can improve as I read each page and draw conclusions. It's not a wonder that God's voice, reaching us through His prophet today, has warned us to read daily and feast from its pages. It brings much needed peace. I am grateful to see that whatever our pursuits in life may be, there is purpose and joy in living the Gospel. Nothing can go too wrong, for long, if we will follow Christ.

--Elder Schaff 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Week 60 - New Companion

  Elder Schaff seems to be doing well in Fresno, new missionaries are arriving this week and he is getting a new companion. One thing you can expect on a mission is change!

  "Well, a lot has changed this last week. I'm sorry that I haven't written much about Elder B, or explained with greater detail all that is happening here. Some changes are being made with companionships. The changes are that we were put into a Tri-panionship, gaining a new companion of Elder Noyes. Elder B revealed to me Monday night that he would be preparing to return home. He has had to make some changes with medication and has been advised to return home for further medical care. He has decided to do that, and has been out for 22 months already. So that is what is happening. Elder B will be departing this Wednesday. He has been training Elder N in the vehicle coordinator responsibilities. The mission will go on.

  We're already back to transfers, 21 new missionaries are coming in, and one visa-waiter as well. President Mackay said that we'll end up with about 60% of the mission involved in training efforts. That's crazy! A new generation of missionaries is arriving.

  That's the lowdown for now. We made a make-shift Shepherd's Pie, and it was surprisingly delicious. After our attempt with brownies, we had no idea how this was going to go. I also have a picture of Elder N that I took 30 minutes ago. He has good energy and likes to laugh, I think it will help me make a good shift.

  As for your questions, the young man who was baptized is 17. His family consists of just he and his mother. They live together, and Elder D and I actually met her first, and then Kevin. She is interested in being baptized as well, but wants to take a bit more time than her son, because she has already been a member of 3 other churches and wants it to be true for sure or just wrong, so she can move on. Now that he has made his way, hopefully his mom will be more inclined as well.

  I'm running out of time here, but my date for release is still listed as August 17th, 2018, exactly 2 years from when I entered the MTC. It may get changed though, because Elder D calculated transfers out on a calendar and it would be 2 weeks into a transfer, so I may depart a bit earlier, but I won't make those prospects. President is thinking about having office missionaries serve for a staple of 6 months. (That will be a rough transition!) So I'll be out of the loop when the end is nigh. That's my report.

  I love you too mom! Thanks for everything you've done, did and do!"

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Week 59 - Selma Baptism

  This past weekend was General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We all had the opportunity to listen to the morning and afternoon sessions on Saturday and Sunday and there was an additional priesthood session on Saturday evening. With all of this going on, plus the fact that Saturday was preparation day for Hayden, he just managed to type a quick email between conference sessions. I think more details will come next week, and all of the photos, I hope!

  "Hi everyone,

  Ha! I'm laughing--I brought my camera in, but I didn't take new pictures this week, despite having things to share. I never have my camera on me in these situations....except for the Elders from Puerto Rico though, other Elders have the pictures, so I better get on with the story!

  In the Mission Office we received notification that because Puerto Rico was practically wiped out by not one, but two hurricanes, all the missionaries serving there would be sent to continental U.S. Spanish speaking missions. After dividing them up I guess, we ended up with 3. We picked these faithful Elders up Wednesday night and they shared with us the stories and blessings from the Lord's hand involved in these events. They didn't get the opportunity to pack anything, nor retrieve anything, so they only brought what they took to the safety shelter, which wasn't much (especially since at that time they were unaware that they would be leaving Puerto Rico.)

  To be short in writing, here are some of the miracles: They got 8 companionship's of Elders to the Mission Office with just 3 cars with a 4 hour notice of evacuation; an Elder preserved the records of his family history that he had, uncertain of why he needed to bring that to the shelter but acting on a prompting; all the trees were falling one direction, and an especially large one near the church would have crushed the building right down the middle, but it fell to the right instead; the food rations the missionaries had brought to the office lasted the whole mission a week and a half when they thought they would run out by day 7. Modern 5,000? Also, in 45 minutes of proselyting time between the first hurricane and the additional warning to flee the next hurricane, they placed 7 Book of Mormons. That was good to hear.

  Our dinner with a member last night had a dog that looked a bit like our dog Charlie, so I took a picture with him. Elder Biggs has it. Hopefully Charlie won't feel betrayed!

  Most shockingly, I got a call Tuesday afternoon in the mission office from Elder Derbidge and Elder Lopez (who are now companions, (yes the Elder Lopez from Selma, since there are 4) They said that Kevin was getting baptized! Further, Kevin asked for me to baptize him! Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and those Elders' preparation day is not today, but it happened. He also received a waterside confirmation, with General Conference taking place this weekend.

  Now I have enjoyed the first session of conference, and am frantically hustling to fit in email time as well as lunch. So I'll have to take off, but I'll try to provide some pictures next week. We had Elders buy us Taco Bell with their cards.

Saturday preparation days right?".....

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Surprise Photo

  I was tired and run down on Saturday night, nothing was wrong, it had just been a busy weekend. I was home alone getting ready for bed and my phone lit up. I had a new text message. To my surprise, I had been sent a photo of Elder Schaff and his companion having dinner at a family's home in CA. It really put a smile on my face to see my missionary's smile. A huge THANK YOU to this sweet family for feeding these two missionaries and for texting me the photo. If you see Mormon missionaries out and about, please be kind, offer them a drink, a simple meal, to send a photo to their family, etc. A little kindness goes a long way. In return, the missionaries would love to share a message or do some service for you. 

Week 58 - A Funeral, Some Brownies and the Temple

  I am going to have to share some lines from the email that Elder Schaff sent to me and some from the email that went to his Dad, because I didn't get much content this week. He continues to serve in the mission office and is doing well.

  "This week we went to the Temple, and had Zone Conferences. Elder Biggs and I attempted to make brownies from scratch one night because the senior couple left us a bunch of ingredients. I bit into one first, and started laughing. Elder Biggs refused to try it after that reaction. I finally got him to, and he laughed as well. They were terrible. They were a bit hard on the outside, and the inside still had hunks of cocoa powder--the texture inside was actually decent, but with hunks of powder everywhere, not so much. Nonetheless a moment to remember.

  A Hmong woman passed away, and as such, Elder Biggs brought me to a Hmong funeral, along with the other Hmong missionaries. I didn't understand anything! Here's the photos-"

Fresno Temple Trip

Elder B making brownies.

The senior missionary couple who occupied the apartment previously left a stocked pantry.

They looked better than they tasted. 

Hmong Funeral, Elder B speaks Hmong and was serving in the Hmong branch prior to being called to the office. 

And then from another email we got-

"Well the photos accurately describe the week, minus Zone Conference, which is not pictured. 

Thank you for all that you do Dad, and for writing. I always appreciate having emails from you. You're my greatest friend! I sent an email out to Mrs. Bastedo (a high school teacher) last week and she replied. It made me think of missionary work on the home front and how you and Brother Hunter would try to reach out to your friends at lunch. 

It seems like everyone's growing a lot while I'm gone! I'm so impressed with all that Maura is doing! I bet when I get home she's going to surprise me, she looks a lot older in the pictures. I wish I was there to go out and run with Maura. I always needed a buddy. You'll have to make up for me, plus it'll help you out! ☺ 

As for you teaching the youth, 2 things come to mind. Although they are both my missionary experiences, and I know sometimes people feel that these experiences happen just because we are missionaries, but anyways:

In March, the mission was a bit low on miles for the cars. Additionally, with 31 days in the month those miles really had to last. I was with Elder Lopez at the time and we had 1,600 miles to use. We reached 1,586 on the evening of March 29th. I was going to let it go over and justify that our area is huge, (which it was) but Elder Lopez said "It's alright Elder, we can just bike." I had not biked up to that point in my mission. I didn't think it would work with the size of the area, but Elder Lopez had great faith. We took the bikes to the church the next day and biked our area. It was hot and tiring, and it took a while to get places because they still were far! But along the way we met great people to teach, when we arrived to our appointments, the people were actually there, and everything seemed to fall into place. Though the work was physically demanding, the Lord provided for our needs and His work. Initially led by the faith of my companion, I came out of it with much faith, as well and a testimony that the Lord provides a way in the midst of trials, big or small.

Second, that last week in Parlier we had found nobody to teach. It had been a long week and we struggled. We were driving in a neighborhood where we had talked to many people, but they turned us away. I felt inspired to try the house of a potential investigator that we had "dropped." We tried it, not expecting much, as the house was dark. A child opened the door but said his parents weren't home--we couldn't enter. Well, right then his parents came home. The dad let us in and we taught the family the Restoration. At the end, the 13 year old son declared that he would read the Book of Mormon for the whole day tomorrow, his last day of summer. How grateful I was to have faith! We endured the challenge of a drought of finding people to teach.

I'm sure there are many more fitting stories, don't feel obligated to use these, but that's what I thought of. There's some good materials on lds.org too.

Thanks again dad! I don't have much more time to write Sydney or Maura, but let them know I hope they are doing well and I'm thinking of them!"

--Elder Schaff

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Week 57 - "This week was as normal as a plain bagel"

  The thing that I am beginning to notice with Elder Schaff in the mission office is that he doesn't write as much. In the past, he was always updating us on people he was teaching and he was out and about all day long. The office is a great opportunity, and he enjoys it, but he doesn't have much to report. Here is his email to me this week, he is commenting on a sewing project that I had been working on, making mallet bags for marching band, in the opening line. Then sympathizes with me about sore muscles after working out. His sister is running cross country this fall, and that was Hayden's sport in high school, so he is interested in that.

  "That's some impressive sewing work mom! Way to go on those bags, they look good.

  As for exercise, I can sympathize! Elder Biggs has work-out videos called "Insanity." The longest one is 42 minutes, so he checked with President Mackay since it's a bit over the exercise time, and he said we could if we finish by 7:00. So we did. The first day was Monday. It was hard but I felt accomplished after doing it. The reality didn't strike until the next day. As I shot up out of bed and stood up I almost fell over because my calves nearly failed out on me. I'm not sure if my calf muscles have ever been so sore even with all the running I've done. Elder Biggs and I were walking funny on Tuesday and occasionally waddling on Wednesday, but we've finally recovered. We didn't do "Insanity" on Tuesday or Wednesday, but we did on Thursday and Friday. I like it, it's a good way to increase our fitness and still do it with balance.

  I'm excited to hear how Maura does with Cross-country! I gave her my advice to always get a practice in, except for Sundays, if possible! I wish I would have run more/better during the summers, it would have helped a lot!

  Sounds like all is well at home for a Schaff home! There's always something that needs to be done, but that's how life is dealt to us. Keep being a great mom, you do so much for the family and keep us together!

  I described my week to Joel (friend also on a mission) like this:  "This week was as normal as a plain bagel. It was good and filling, but really nothing to discuss." We visited more of our members and ran things in the Mission Office. Sometimes missionary work is very humble and uneventful; all part of the Lord's plan.

  Tell the family I love them all."

--Elder Schaff