Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Week 26 - A Little Down, but Not Out

  Well, unfortunately, Elder Schaff had a rough week and was feeling down when he emailed home yesterday. Nothing serious, just little frustrations here and there that all added up to a difficult week. Such is life though. There will always be ups and downs, especially as a missionary. It's hard to find people to teach, difficult to keep lessons going and on schedule, hard to teach around work schedules and family commitments, etc. I had no idea that Hayden was feeling so down, but I spent a long time Monday morning typing to him and I ended up sharing a lot of the lesson I had had at church on optimism and staying positive, so that was inspired. He said he really needed to hear everything that I shared and had already printed it out to study further, so that was fortunate. Hopefully, this week will be a little easier for him. This is what he had to share-
  "Hello family!  I don't know what to write about this week. I was struggling a bit, but Joel and Nathaniel's emails cheered me up, so it's good to have friends!

  This week A LOT of appointments didn't happen, so we spent several hours on the pavement finding people. We've got a planner full of potentials and 6 new investigators this week, but not many lessons. My studies just feel slacking and lesser than before. I've been very happy when working, but I'm just not feeling the in the mood when when we're doing other things. It's just the moment, I'll shake it off. But being honest, not the greatest week. What is good is that our companionship studies have been real effective recently and we've been improving our teaching skills. 

  Here is an update on the baptism I mentioned before- Maria H. was baptized last week in Echo 3, she was taught by the sister missionaries. She had the majority of her family attend. The service was held in Spanish, but some family members only spoke English, as well as some attendants. Our Zone Leaders even came with an investigator, and although they didn't understand, they all testified of the language of the Spirit and that they felt a witness of the truth though! President Clark actually attended the baptism as well. Elder Lopez and I were put in charge of teaching something while the people were changing into dry clothes. We elected to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and focus on repentance through His Atonement. We weren't confident in how effective our teaching was, but at the end of the service, everyone was telling us how they felt the Spirit testify so strongly to them that our words were true. Even President said we had done a nice job. So that was a good day. Maria paid her tithing the next day, the moment sacrament meeting ended. Investigators don't get more solid than that. So kudos to the sisters.

   The family we have been teaching accepted baptism, but we only had one visit with them last week, the schedules just didn't work out. They accepted baptism with the lesson we taught them, but did not make it to church. Maybe next week! 

  This week we had a lot of appointments cancel. We had a great day on Thursday that was loaded with lessons and that was definitely the highlight of the week. Other days we had a whole lot of nothing to get done when it came to visits, so we hit the pavement and talked with people whenever we could. This resulted in 6 new investigators, which was especially impressive, considering last week we had 9, but 6 of those were from a single family. We have thus planted many seeds and are teaching many people. We have over 25 investigators, but most of these people can only visit once or twice a week. So, this area of Echo 2 has come a long way from the 4 investigators we had when I started here in September. Essentially, we have a giant teaching pool now, but we need people to progress!

    (A) and (J) and their 5 kids did come to church yesterday, but had to leave after sacrament meeting because their 1-year-old was screaming with all of her might. It was an important step for them though.

  I've run out of time...hopefully that covers it!!! More next week!

--Elder Schaff 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Week 25 - A Bad Haircut

  This was kind of a quiet week, as far as news from Elder Schaff goes. He and Elder Lopez continue to teach and are working hard. One of his main concerns this week was a bad haircut, which brought up memories of many years ago. When Hayden was just a toddler, we cut his hair short, a true buzz cut. His dad and I did not like the look on him and after that we made sure to keep his hair longer. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication and Elder Schaff got another bad haircut this past week, but thankfully, hair grows. All will be well, it will just take some time. Another downer was that computer viruses have not been cleared up and he still cannot upload photos, it has been 6 weeks since he has sent photos home and that is very aggravating! I also mailed him a 6 page letter on Saturday, January 21st and it has never arrived, although a package that I mailed to him flew through in just 3 days. So, lots of small frustrations lately, but such is life.
  Here is his weekly email-

  "Hello world! Elder Schaff here, giving the details of the week. So we had trainer exchanges because we were housing Elder Kauai and Elder Flores, who began training Thursday. On Wednesday we found a family and on Thursday we had exchanges with Echo 1, and actually taught the family about the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ here on the earth. It was a fantastic lesson, all of the kids participated (It's a family of 6! 4 kids!) and the head of the household, Antonio, prayed. Hoping they will stay interested and receive the blessings of the gospel, because they had a lot of questions that the gospel will answer for them! 

  (A) isn't sure about coming to church with her work schedule, so we're going to have to put on our problem solving caps for that one because that is going to be a big hindrance to baptism. One does not simply get baptized and not go to church.....it's an important blessing to apply in life as a requirement! Sabbath day observance gives us the strength that we need to go another week in this crazy world! She knows that too, but with work it's always hard. The Spanish people never stop working! <<Son Trabajadores!!!>>>  Also (G) still doesn't have that answer, and might have to move! Ay yi yi!

   So that's my summary. Matilde isn't doing particularly great either, but I'm not giving up on her! There's something we need to teach her better to make the purpose of the church clear to her, because right now she doesn't feel the need to act, but action is everything! We need to act to improve our lives, or even to enjoy it; nothing is literally the fruit of idleness.

   The devastation and disappointments of a mission are trying, but the successes are so much more sweeter, and filled with great spiritual joy. Right now we're focusing on helping that family, finding prepared people that are in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and building up the ward. Our ward struggles a bit because there are a lot of secret contentions among the members because someone offended someone else 12 years ago or whatever. So the missionaries of Echo and Hermano Saldivar, the faithful 1st counselor, are out and about seeking to build up the ward and gather the lost sheep. 

   As for the exchange with Elder Flores, it helped me improve my finding. He was willing to talk to literally anyone in our path. I tried to apply it the next day, and that's actually how we found the family, we were going to walk by them! I opened my mouth and saved the day! I didn't get to go with Elder Kauai, which was a bummer, because he was in the MTC with me and we both like to sing, so we were totally going to rock Echo with some spiritual serenades from the Spanish Hymn book; unfortunately Elder Flores's area was right next to ours, so he really didn't need to be housed near the mission office (which is the purpose of housing trainers, Echo is the closest area to the office, other than his area). As a result, he got permission to take Elder Kauai to his area after the first day of the 2-day exchange. So that was that.

   I'll be on the look out for some more teaching moments to share with all of you reading next week. I'll have you know that I got a bad haircut and it's now really short and probably going to be against missionary standards, so I hope it grows quick and isn't a distraction. If my haircut distracts any of our investigators from receiving the gospel I'm going to be devastated! That's the Echo 2 lowdown! (All of the Echo missionaries stayed, except we got a new sister missionary in Echo 3. She's about to go home, but Echo 3 had one of their best weeks this week!)

   Oh shoot! I forgot Echo 3 baptized (M) Hernandez this Saturday and it was an awesome experience! Unfortunately I'm out of time...whoops!

--Elder Schaff

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Week 24 - A Visit from Elder Russell M Nelson

  We had a lot of emails going back and forth this week as the family was covering a lot of topics with Elder Schaff. Sydney was writing him and asking advise on what classes to register for as she fills her schedule for junior year. Michael and Hayden have been writing back and forth about recipes and doctrinal questions, and I was desperate to know if Hayden was being transferred and how it was to have a visit from one of the 12 apostles in the California Fresno Mission.

  So, let's get to it. Hayden told us that he is NOT being transferred this go around. He and Elder Lopez will continue to work and serve in their Echo area. Even though he has been in this same area since he arrived in CA at the end of September, he is happy to stay, as they have been teaching many people and they are hoping that Azucena will set a baptism date in February. They have worked hard to build up their teaching pool and he has relationships with those they are teaching and serving, so they will continue to press forward.

  Hayden also said that he was very excited with the changes to the missionary daily schedule that were announced in the worldwide broadcast last Wednesday. There will be more flexibility in their schedules and they have an expanded preparation day schedule, which of course, we hope equates to more time to communicate with family, but we shall see how that plays out. The situation every single week seems to be, 'I am running short on time!"

  In December, Hayden had told me that he and his first companion had had a GPS and that it had been very helpful to navigate in the Fresno area, especially since he has been the assigned driver since arriving in the mission field. However, when his first companion transferred to a new area, he took it with him, and so, Hayden did not have one anymore. Michael and I decided to send him one that he could have with him going forward. He asked me to send it just before this next transfer, so I mailed it last week. I was glad to hear that he had received it this week.

  I had to laugh though, because before his mission, I had bought Hayden a few pairs of Book of Mormon socks. They are screen printed with people from the Book of Mormon, such as Nephi, Captain Moroni, etc. We had a new pair sitting in our room for some reason, and Michael was not going to use them, so I tossed them into the GPS package last week. Well wouldn't you know it, but just last week, the mission president asked his missionaries to only wear dark, solid color socks- no stripes, no diamonds, no patterns, no nothing!! Hayden admitted that he murmured a little, but I was proud of him, because he told me that in the end, he decided to let it go, and to be obedient. So, he went and bought a few more pair of solid colors socks. Bad timing for me to send the screen printed pair, but oh well. He says he can wear them in the apartment and to bed.

  Hayden loved being in the MTC last fall just before General Conference, as many of the church leaders were returning to Utah to attend the sessions. That provided the opportunity for many leaders to visit the Provo MTC and I think he sat in devotionals with 3 of the 12 apostles. This week, another one of the 12, Elder Russell M Nelson, and his wife, and two other leaders and their wives, came to the California Fresno mission. It was a wonderful, uplifting and spiritual experience and Hayden wrote down many things that he thought were powerful, but then in light of a few things that have been happening at home, these words suddenly became extremely helpful and comforting promises.

  This is probably the best portion of his email home to share this week-

  "This week was wonderful and full of blessings, with the missionary broadcast, President Nelson's visit, and a good week of work. We're on a spiritual energy high and ready to live our missionary purpose as we serve the Lord.  I can't cover it all, but everything from these meetings is well documented and in my Journal, so I will be able to continue to draw from it as we proceed. We have a ton of investigators right now, but many don't have a solid schedule, so it is rough, because it feels like we have no investigators! Without appointments we go find more people! Hopefully, even just a few of these souls can accept our message.

  Azucena needs to come to church! She's back from Mexico and we need to get her to church so she can be baptized! (G) came to church, but didn't get an answer to her prayer to be baptized yet. (Ana) and (J).......he got drunk Tuesday and said he was going to leave the family and go to Tennessee when we were teaching only him. We saw him the next day though and realized he forgot everything. We had a good lesson with them and Hermano P. and we are praying that they will be able to come to church and improve their situation.

  Ok, so the meeting with an Apostle. He opted to take a picture with the mission and to shake all of our hands. It was like having an interview with the Lord for that second and a half. I felt the Holy Ghost so strongly right then. Elder Dorius and his wife, Elder Cook and his wife, and Elder Nelson and his wife all spoke to us. All the counsel was great, but Elder and Sister Nelson were absolutely amazing. They gave us some counsel of how we can create even more miracles in this mission. We were commended for our obedience and spirituality.

  Sister Nelson told us that we should remember this is a church of angels, and that our ancestors as well as those of investigators can help us. We can pray FOR their help, but not TO them. Always pray to Heavenly Father. She also asked us to "Learn the Hymns of Zion" and that by singing them we can bring the Holy Ghost in teaching situations or wherever else. I'm out of time though, so this discussion will be continued!!!!

Family, I love you so much!!!!!"

--Elder Schaff