Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Week 27- Six Months and Going Strong

  In New York, our school district takes a winter break the week of President's Day. It is a good time to take a trip and escape the winter weather, so we planned a vacation to Florida with our girls. This was the first trip that we took as a family without Elder Schaff and it was strange. I won't lie, I felt a little guilty. He has joined us on several winter break trips in the past though, and didn't comment much about us traveling and was able to keep his focus on the mission, which was good. This is what he wrote home on Monday, February 20th.
  Also, since Elder Schaff entered the Provo MTC on August 17th, he has now reached his 6 month mark of service!! It is hard to believe that 25% of his mission has already passed by. I am so happy that he is doing well and working hard in Fresno.

  "Hello family!  All is well this week. It was a bit difficult in the beginning, because all we were doing was finding potentials, and appointments were crashing again, but I felt confident that we were doing good in trying to serve. As Preach My Gospel states, a successful missionary is measured by his commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people so that they can become active members for the rest of their life. Regardless of results, missionary success is measured by action.

  Nonetheless this week was fantastic for Elder Lopez and I, it was full of lots of challenges but ended with a blessed Sabbath Day. I prayed and served with all my might the first few days of the week and just started anew. The troubles of last week faded away. To be honest, not much happened until Sunday. We had interviews with President Clark on Friday, and it was a good boost for everyone, because he did a mini-training as well. During the interview he told me that he was proud of me for being a diligent and determined missionary, and he knew that I was a missionary he could trust. He told me he expected great things would accompany my service as I proceed.

  On Sunday we had Stake Conference. Familia "L" didn't make it, but "Ana" said she wanted to come. She didn't have gas money, so we ended up meeting at her apartment and walking with her and her five kids to Stake Conference. Then, their was a baptism of Y. Castillo, taught by the Echo 3 Sisters. She is a 9-year-old that wasn't baptized yet. It was a nice baptism. We invited "Ana" to come to the baptism, and her husband "J" had just gotten back from work, so he came and all 5 kids came (ages 10,9,7,6,1). At the end of it, the kids came to us and asked if they could be baptized next week. "Ana" asked what she needed to do to be baptized and we explained that they need to continue to go to church and hear the rest of the lessons, "J" would need to stop drinking (alcohol). Everyone but "J" is very determined to be baptized now, so hopefully the family working together will bless them in progressing. It was fantastic for them to have that kind of interest!

  The problem is they can't pay their rent, and are being kicked out of their apartment. That will be an adventure....We've had bad luck with people moving, so we pray they stay in our boundaries. A less-active we are teaching and her spouse, a non-member, moved out of our boundaries this week. Gloria had something happen in her house, and has decided to move to Selma. So that was sad... but we continue on, finding people to teach. Hopefully Gloria can listen to the missionaries in Selma once she actually moves. We have our supposed last lesson next Saturday.

  We found a great investigator last night, M. Alvarez. She was a referral, and had a lot of questions that could be solved by the gospel. She was very interested in the message and was anxious to have us come back and help answer more questions. We taught the Restoration and promised her that her life would change if she would read the Book of Mormon and pray about it to know that it is true.

  Familia "L" had accepted a date for March 5th, and were super excited to get baptized, but as I said, they need to have consistent church attendance. They really, sincerely want it. I'm certain they'll be baptized once they can get to church. Hopefully soon, so that date for baptism can be before I transfer.

  Sister Windham has finished her mission! She told us on Wednesday that her mission would conclude Friday. All of Echo was surprised! So Sister Malpica went off to Ventura for 3 days and is then going to Lemoore. Echo 3 will be dissolved. So just Elders in Echo now. We got all of the Echo 3 investigators and recent converts. Here we go!!! 
  Non-gospel news: Spring is beginning it's rise here in Fresno. Everyone's favorite, ha ha, the white-blossom-dead-fish-smelling trees are in full bloom. Someone unwisely planted 5 of these trees in front of the Echo church building, so I found out what those trees have been this whole time. The smell of dead fish or whatever the flower is hits you as soon as you step out of the car. (Note- we had trees like this in the parkway of our Utah home, beautiful spring blossoms, but horrible smell on the flowering pear trees)

  This is old news, but I ate "Agua Chile" a while ago, and I've decided that they are the worst thing I've been served here. I couldn't make that decision until this week because I found out exactly what it was this week. "Agua Chile" is a shrimp that the Hispanic people like to use. "M" served it to me, it was a plate of the Agua Chiles, onions, and peppers. Everything was in a foggy-water. Soggy food is a struggle for me. But I found out that the real problem is hispanos always serve Agua Chile raw. I was eating raw shrimp, and it was so watery and juicy, I didn't like it. It's weeeeird. Cook your food! 
  A few weeks ago I had read a quote from President Hinckley along the lines of: A foundation built of cynicism and pessimism will do nothing for progress. We must build upon positivity!

   Our ward mission leader quoted this: "All you've got to do is endure to the end." -so when the day is hard just remember eternal life is at stake if you endure.

  Finally, "His grace is sufficient if we'll just humble ourselves" (to accept His Atonement and repent.) I'm feeling very determined to serve this week, it was an ecstatic Sunday!

  Last of all, I was talking with the assistants about doing a Buffalo Wild Wings challenge and they said "why not today?" So we did. Some Elders came and were going to do it, but they decided they didn't want to this time. So I did it with everyone watching and cleared it in 5 minutes 10 seconds. I didn't break a sweat, didn't cry, just got really messy. Everybody was going nuts watching me take it with no suffering. I left and everybody is calling me a legend, it was funny.

  I'm pumped to serve! People are ready to progress, and Elder and Lopez and I are ready to help them! It's been a spiritual week, and I really can't describe it without clichés. Let's do this thing! I'm building a legacy!!!! Even when things are hard in the mission they kick right back up. I'm loving life!

PS family: I can't believe Alexandra Hughlett got engaged!

PPS: Elder Mendez was at the baptism, because "Y" wanted him to baptize her. He taught her before. He pulled me aside before it started, and said that he was as hard as he could possibly be on me during my training because he wanted me to be strong, and was sure I would be. That made all the difference to me. I felt peaceful after all those trials I had had with him. I really couldn't believe it. It was crazy. I am feeling unbelievably great!

--Elder Schaff

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