Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Week 23 - Bank Cards, Birthdays and Broadcasts

  I had to laugh because the first email to arrive in my inbox this week said, "Mom, I forgot the PIN number to my debit card, do you know what it is?!" That is something that I did not write down, even though I made a photo copy of the front and back of his card. Oh well. I called his bank and they said he would have to go into a branch in person to change it, so maybe next Monday. He can always use it as a credit card until then, so I'm not too worried. Just a life lesson for him.
  Anyway, he seems to be doing well and had a productive week. There is a worldwide missionary broadcast on Wednesday, January 25th, so anticipation is building for that, as "changes" to the missionary schedule will be announced. One of the twelve apostles will be visiting his mission this coming Saturday, which is incredible. Here is some of what he wrote to the family before we get to the blog email.

  "Well family. it's been another great week. It went quite fast, but when I look back it feels like it was so long ago that I sent last week's email. Mission time is strange.

  Before anything though, SYDNEY! Happy (belated) birthday! I'm so excited for you, growing up and doing awesome things. I hope driving goes well for you, you should be fine. I mean, you didn't ever quite master rainbow road on Mario Kart but you were getting there. (Ha!) This is a great time of life. Make sure you have fun! You can really enjoy those days in high school, so seriously make every hour count! Make sure you get in a daily scripture study! You'll be really receptive to understanding the church more fully right now, and it's an important time to have a strong testimony. I know you'll go about doing much good, because you always used your time wisely! (At least more than I did most days!) Make that opportunity to go on dates a good experience. Be creative, because guys aren't always creative. That's how it is. I'm not there to "get" someone being dumb on a date, so I can't play the traditional "big brother role," but I can call the ministering of angels....haha everything will be fine! This is the time to set your life up! What else can I say... Just be smart, all of your decisions at this time really will amount to your potential! In the church, in careers, whatever, you set it all up now! Go and get it done! Love ya!
  So yeah, this week there is the missionary broadcast on Wednesday. That's exciting. Then, Elder Russel M. Nelson will be visiting the mission on Saturday, and we will be privileged to hear from him that day! It's going to be quite the week!

  Apparently the schedule for missionaries is changing. Joel seems to have already received the schedule, but it hasn't happened here yet. It has a greater focus on being out proselyting. It should be good, but we lose time for studies....so that is kind of sad. Because I really like learning every morning! Sometimes when people aren't progressing I'm just grateful that I'm progressing.

   (Also, President Clark sent us all the information about the new mission President last week. He seems good, but I think it will take adjusting when the time comes in July. President Clark is very spiritual, and does the work among us (teaching and such.) Then he gives us training based on how he is seeing our teaching go. That is all experience, that comes with time. He is sad his time is almost up!!!)"

This is the beginning of his email for the blog:

"This week didn't have much news concerning our more constant investigators. All the names you may have been following such as (A), (G), (Ana) and (J), etc, we didn't really see them this week. So there isn't much to say there. I had some time to read from my own journal today and as I reviewed what I wrote this week it was funny to see my reactions day by day. We very much live day by day, so sometimes when we had hard days I left a more pessimistic entry, and on the good days I was all excited. Reading that was like reading mood swings. That's missionary life!

  What did happen was: I was concerned for (M) at the beginning of the week, she hasn't been coming to church, identified herself as a Catholic in front of one of her friends, and hasn't been able to read the scriptures since she has been busy watching her kids. We talked a bit about how she was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints now, and she finally put together that she is no longer Catholic. That was interesting!

  On Wednesday we had an excellent training with President concerning teaching faith, repentance, and baptism. He shared with us 1 Nephi 7:12 (Faith), Alma 34:15-17 (Repentance), and 3 Nephi 27:13-16 (Baptism). You can read the scriptures, but the way President taught us to teach was amazing. The Spirit was burning in that meeting. It was as if I could reach out and grab a bunch of Spiritual energy in the air in front of me. I was astonished. He taught us to apply the scriptural language in commitments, such as 1 Nephi 7:12, asking someone "how can YOU exercise your faith?"

  He taught 3 Nephi 27:13-16 with so much power. He explained everything up to verse 16, and then paused. He said: "Now let's paint a picture. If I were to paint this scripture, I would put God, on His throne, with Jesus at His side, and all the world around them. Because that was Jesus's purpose. To get all the world to the presence of God. And do you want to know what you need to do to stay there? Read verse 16." With that, Elder Nesom read verse 16, and choked a few times from the tears welling up in his eyes. Everyone was feeling the Holy Ghost. There was power in that teaching. Try it out yourself! President shared Doctrine &Covenants 45:3-5 as well, and had us imagine those words from Christ, but replacing "brethren" for our own name. That's powerful as well! 

  On Friday we followed the Holy Ghost and gave a blessing to a member in great need of one! We were about to go home because it was late, and then suddenly felt prompted to visit this member. He was suffering from an anxiety attack and couldn't sleep at all. He was very stressed out. We gave him a blessing and he was relieved, and said he hoped he could go teaching with us sometime. Follow the Spirit!

  Saturday I murmured about exact obedience concerning socks. Apparently, having any socks that aren't a solid color are banned. I have some formal socks with a few blue lines and such, and it was a bit annoying to be told you'll kill the Spirit by wearing socks with lines instead of solid colors... But I bought some new solid colored socks and all is good. Living "exact obedience" to get the miracles!

  Sunday: (M) was doing better: We started reading some key passages of scripture with her, like Ether 12, instead of continuing to plow through the Book of Mormon chronologically. (She was at 1 Nephi 21) by doing so she has improved her desire to read the scriptures and is learning more from them! She really wants to come to church but wasn't able to yesterday, and felt really bad. I had a distinct feeling that everything would be alright with her as long as we were trying our best to keep her active. Keeping that first convert alive is tough! Satan really never gives up.

  Yesterday, we found 3 new investigators, so that was fantastic! We'll see if that works out! We've been teaching a woman, "Rita", that is super timid, and it has been tough! She doesn't react much at all! Hopefully we can figure out how to connect with her!

  So yeah that was my week, till next time everyone!

  Email me if you are reading this blog! Missionaries love hearing from the outer world! Thanks much! 
Keep the Faith!

--Elder Schaff 

Photo from Fresno Zone Conference - January 2017

 I am so thankful that President and Sister Clark choose to have a mission blog and that they regularly share photos. It is always a great day when I open my email and see a picture of my son, and even better when he is smiling! He may learn to pose for group photos and survive it yet. That is something that he tried to avoid at all costs when he was growing up with us. If I did take a photo of him, he was usually not smiling, so, I am loving this! Some changes are good. 

President Clark and sixteen missionaries serving in the Fresno Zone of the California Fresno Mission. He met with them for interviews, training and more. Elder Schaff is on the back row, third  one in on the left. His companion, Elder Lopez, is also in the back row, the last missionary on the right.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Week 22 - Chicken Wings, Kohl's and a Campfire

  I am always anxious to hear from Elder Schaff on Mondays, it is a highlight of my day, and we have been blessed that he continues to do well in California. From what we can tell, he and his companion are working hard, staying busy and tired at the end of every day, but healthy and fine. So, good news all around. I want to share a little of what he wrote to me, then I will post his email for the blog. Unfortunately, he could not upload photos, yet again. This week, there was a Trojan virus on the computers at the family history center and so he said, maybe next week.

 "OK, down to business! So yeah, as to my energy level, I suppose my word choice was not the best. I'm fine and totally healthy, But I'm always extremely sleepy at the end of the day. Sometimes the nightly prayer is hard...I have a "prayer roll" of everyone that has asked us to pray for them in my planner, and try to pray for those in the greatest need each night, but the longer the prayer, the greater the risk of going to sleep outside of bed! Hasn't happened yet!
  I'm grateful that everyone is filling me in. It's good to hear about life back home. Today we shopped at Kohl's because Elder Lopez was looking for new shoes. It smelled exactly the same, and triggered some memory neuron or something that made it feel comforting and like home. Weird Science! We bought some Chicken Wings today, I fried them up in Frank's "Hot Buffalo" sauce, so it was a bit too comfortable and like home, I guess you could say. I've still got my mind on the work though, so that's good. Hopefully I answered all your questions, I want to be there for the family! Even though I switch to "blog mode," know that it's all information I very much want you to know as well, but doesn't need to be written twice. We got to go to the Fresno temple on Friday, and I was overwhelmed with spiritual joy. I know our family is doing good, and we'll continue to be there for each other. We have had some struggles, but compared to some I've seen, we have had it really good. We have it good still! So here's to hoping everyone's doing well!"

Now for the blog entry-

"What happened this week? I'm not exactly sure. Nothing really interesting happened until the very end of the week, so the "general memory" of the week is that it was bland. Fortunately the definition of "bland" in the California, Fresno mission is having a successful week but having room for improvement, and some disappointments. And maybe a lot of driving.

   We had a lot of lessons cancel this week, which created a lot of finding time. We taught 10 investigator lessons, and 12 Less-active/Recent Convert lessons. Normally we are around 20 investigator lessons per week, to gauge the "slowness" we were feeling. Thus, on the investigator front we aren't seeing much of any result. (A) canceled twice, so we didn't see her this week. Her schedule is insane. We have an appointment tomorrow. Several other lessons didn't happen either.

   Anyway, we found 4 new investigators, and several other potentials, as well as a solid English referral, from that empty time. (Always the English speakers!) Almost every one of the investigators came from the excess time, so it was a testimony to us that the Lord will have us do the work His way. Our teaching pool is now 14 actively interested investigators, with 2 others that don't have much contact with us.

     I tried reading my journal to have some more spiritual information or something good to share this week, and noted that I wrote at one point: "The power of missionary work is that you are always self-improving. If you meet a challenge, you have two options; grow and overcome it, or go home. And nobody wants to go home." Missionary work really helps one see his full potential and what they can accomplish if they are willing to. I like that aspect. My character has grown immensely.

   Spiritual thoughts in scriptures: 1 Nephi 16:10, 28 + Alma 37:6, 37-41, **44-45** These make an application of following a compass to us following Christ. It's concise and powerful.

  And the experiences of the week: We taught a lesson around a campfire with a bunch of vagabond looking folks. One of them, Juan, was interested, and we've taught him a few times this week. He likes what he's learning, but can only read at a really slow pace. His vision is bad and he starts to cry after about 2 minutes. That first lesson left us nice and smoky, but the following ones were not around the fire.

  On Saturday we taught (G) and she still denied the invitation to be baptized. She explained that she was waiting for an answer she could be sure of. She also explained that she might be getting officially married to her boyfriend. If we remember this, she is 60 and her boyfriend is 45, and since they are living together and not married, this causes a law of chastity problem! But if she gets married, that will be resolved, and she could be baptized! We think she'll get the answers once that happens!

   I'm about to time-out... but a family, Familia (D), had their daughter run away Saturday. Fortunately, they found her Sunday afternoon, but that was scary, especially since we were the first people they decided to trust with the information! Fortunately all is well.

  We went to the Temple on Friday! It was Fresno Zone and a great experience to receive revelation and feel the Spirit. Wish I had paced myself better to explain more!

  Anyway, just when we thought we couldn't be doing more preparation for the future we did. Whoever ends up here in "Echo" next transfer is going to be baptizing like no tomorrow! Hopefully this week we'll get out and teach more!!!"

Sincerely, (and rushed as always)
Elder Schaff

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Photos from Christmas Zone Party in California Fresno Mission

  I pulled these photos from the blog for Elder Schaff's mission. You can visit the site at http://fresnomission.blogspot.com. Hayden is wearing an orange tie. They played some Minute to Win It Games and had a meal together during their Christmas Zone party. I am grateful to Sister Clark for posting so many photos of the missionaries serving in the California Fresno Mission.

Christmas Zone Party- Elder Schaff is 4th from the right, orange tie, back row

Christmas Party - Dinner, Games and Fun - Elder Schaff is in the top right photo sitting at the round table

A Silly Moment- Elder Schaff is 4th from the right, top row, holding up 'bunny ears" with his fingers

Week 21 - A Rainy Week with a New Teaching Perspective

  Elder Schaff's email came through late in the day on Monday. His email time was cut short because his companion needed to take care of some things at the DMV. So that was unfortunate, but Elder Lopez passed his test, so they won't have to worry about that going forward. Sounds like Hayden had a more productive week and that things were going well, despite the rain. This is what he wrote-

  "This week has been rainy! A big storm came in from the sea or something like that, we wouldn't know since we don't watch the news! Well, I'm not a fan of the rain. If I had my way, rain would be confined to over the farmer's fields, but that's another story. This week had some fantastic moments, and some frustrating ones as well. Fortunately, both of those experiences contributed to a main lesson learned from this week: Make every lesson count, build people's desires to be baptized. 

  So bad news first yeah? Matilde's sister, (M) is never home. We'll probably have to drop her. We found some good potentials near her, and an investigator as well, over in that area, but they might be out of our boundaries. It seems all the Spanish people that are interested are not in our boundaries, but those boundaries go to the outskirts of Ventura, and it's likely none of the missionaries will venture (ha!) that far, so those people will just be sittin' tight because of boundary lines.... annoying!

   Good news: on Thursday we had exchanges and I was with our district leader. During the exchange we found two new investigators that were interested, and the one was super excited to read the Book of Mormon to find answers to his questions. Then, when we went to visit (A), a small miracle happened. She was in the back of the apartment when we were let in, so she entered the room shortly after our entrance. She came in and said she had something important to tell us, and couldn't suppress a smile. Elder Del Carmen and I looked at each other and nodded, knowing exactly what the "news" would be. Then (A) declared she had prayed and decided that she needed and wanted to be baptized. Even though I anticipated that from her expression, I was still in shock. She's had doubts for so long, I wondered if she would ever consider actually being baptized. She is unfortunately traveling soon, until the end of the month, so that will be a baptism set for February. The problem with that is, I'm almost certain I'll be transferred by then, because I'm still in my training area. If so, my legacy appears to be adding up to finding people for other missionaries to baptize. It's all the same team I guess.
 Anyway, the lesson of this week is that teaching needs to be better. I've reached the point where I can get through lessons in Spanish no problem, but now I need to make lessons powerful. Our mission President instructed us on teaching faith and repentance, especially repentance, to build the desire of investigators to be baptized, so that they will want to be baptized when we extend the invitation, and they won't feel forced. I'm going to see how I can get there. I'll report next week! I'm out of time, but that's what's happening! Hopefully next week I'll have the full email time! Elder Lopez finally passed his driver's test to renew his license, so the DMV will no longer reap my time on my preparation day.

  My cooking is getting pretty good. Elder Lopez and I have made some pretty good stuff!

(The computer is rejecting pictures this week so sorry everyone.)  

--Elder Schaff

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Week 20 - A New Year Resulted in a Slow Week

  I had to laugh a little bit this week, as Elder Schaff described his week as "BRUTAL." As the mom, I was worried that he was hurt or sick, that they had major car trouble or he had had problems with finances or something. These are things that I worry about. However, being the obedient missionary that he is, he was discouraged because people in their teaching pool were very busy during Christmas and New Years, like the rest of us, and it was a slow teaching week. So, I do not want to minimize his frustration, but this is yet another week, where communication between the mission field and home does not quite align, as we are both trying to be supportive of each other, yet, we have very different concerns and a different daily focus. I would describe a brutal week as one in which I had a migraine, or I didn't have the money to pay a bill that was due, or had unexpected car repairs and no transportation or one of us at home was seriously ill. However, that is me. So, here is his description of a brutal missionary week. Happy New Year everyone! Elder Schaff gets to spend the entire year of 2017 in service of the Lord, and you better believe that I am already looking forward to the phone call home on Mother's Day!

  "Well, I have 20 more minutes, but we have to change the laundry because our member couldn't help us today, so we'll see what I can do!
   This week was BRUTAL. It really was. We had to stop teaching "Mia" because she was out of the boundaries. Our other investigators can only have visits one or two times a week it seems. They are mostly progressing really well, but it's hard because of the infrequent visits. Almost nobody was at church on New Year's, haha.
   Well, even though this week was hard, we set ourselves up for success for next week.
  (It was hard because we'd go out to find people, street contacting or knocking doors and such, but we would end up talking to a bunch of Spanish-speakers that were not interested in our message. We even ran into a Jehovah's witness that we didn't even Bible bash or anything, but had about a 40 minute conversation that led to nothing. Then, the very first English-speaker we found would be interested in taking the lessons, so we have generated a lot of referrals for the English speaking Elders!)
  Anyway, we did find some new investigators, so next week could be good. Also, we ran into (A), whom we haven't seen for 2 months. His girlfriend (L) moved out of his apartment, so she can be baptized now! We tried to set a date with (G) for baptism, but she straight-up rejected us and said she needs more time. We've almost taught her all the lessons, but more time we shall give. She also got a job at a daycare (60-year-old finds job!) and we can only visit her on Saturdays now. It's gonna be a slow go. Matilde referred us to her sister (M), and she's pretty interested. Hopefully all goes well there. 
  I have enjoyed making New Year's Resolutions and hearing how Christmas went from people I haven't heard from! I didn't like the results of New Year's here though, because people were partying real hard and we were unable to teach almost at all yesterday and on New Year's Eve. I guess with all the partying out of the way, next week should be good!
Helter-Skeltered, and rushed for time,
I'll try to be more detailed next week!

Your favorite, 
--Elder Schaff

P.S. We had a Zone White Elephant on Preparation-Day last week as well! That was good! No time for pictures this week! I'll try next week!

--Elder Schaff