Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Week 36 - First Transfer

  Well, this week will present many changes for Elder Schaff. He has been transfered to a new area, his first transfer since arriving in Fresno. He has been asked to serve south of Fresno in the towns of Selma, Parlier, and Kingsburg. Elder Lopez will be staying in Fresno, so they will both have new companions, but Hayden forgot to mention who he has been teamed up with, so hopefully he will tell us next week. This is what he wrote this week-

Google Map of Selma, CA

  "Alright, so if you told me any other week that I would be going to a new area, I would tackle that challenge with determination and excitement. However, I have been told I'm going to another area this week. I still have excitement, but I guess it took hearing the words, "Elder Schaff, you're being transferred" to remember all the good things that have happened to me in this area, or at least be thankful for all the trials and challenges that have refined me.

  So honestly, I am a little bit nervous to enter a new area and have a new companion because I now realize how great a blessing it has been to be serving with Elder Lopez. We've been working hard and had an "up and up" attitude where we have striven to lift each other up and help each other improve without tearing each other down.

  It's sad to say good-bye to all my investigators and less-actives I've worked with. It's strange, I always felt that I didn't really have much of a significance to them, because I'm not Hispanic or anything, but as soon as they heard the news, everybody is thanking me for what I've taught them. I guess here everyone remembers at the last moments how great things have been! (Myself included!)

  I've heard that my new area is a small town with a majority population of Spanish speakers. We will see if that is true. It's been crazy to pack everything up!

 Hey, if you're looking for spiritual insights, read Alma 38:5,10-12,14 (This is a Book of Mormon reference) really struck me. Give it a read.

  I said I'd talk about Sabbath day...... well we've had great success applying those blessing in Leviticus. It is a diamond in the rough, those scriptures. Leviticus, if you are familiar with the Bible, is mainly a "how-to" live the Law of Moses (Which has been fulfilled, so that's not particularly useful). But Leviticus chapter 26 explains the blessings of living this day. The promised blessings are archaic, so you need to "liken" the scriptures to yourself as the prophets have invited you to do, to see the power of the blessings. (Unless you are a farmer.)

  We are promised we will have "rain in the due season.....and that the storehouse will be filled until the sowing time." That is a promise that we will be economically secure. It continues that we will have peace in the land. Additionally, it promises that the beasts of the land will not harm us. Maybe not lions in the streets these days, but certainly Satan's spiritual beasts of temptations and sins can be avoided if we guard the Sabbath Day. And it says we'll chase our enemies away. So keep the Sabbath day holy and get those blessings!"

This has been Elder Schaff!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Week 35 - Happy Easter

  I have been working in three different Niagara Chocolate stores the last three weeks. Elder Schaff likes orange milk chocolate sponge candy, and I knew that he would not be able to find any in CA, so a couple of weeks ago, I mailed him a package with sponge candy, jelly beans and milk chocolate foiled eggs. So, he and Elder Lopez should have had plenty of Easter treats. However fun it is to have candy and dye eggs and participate in egg hunts and Easter baskets, the true meaning of Easter should revolve around our Savior, Jesus Christ. The fact that we can have peace and happiness in our own lives, if we come to know Him, believe in His gospel and try to live in a way that would be pleasing to Him is amazing to me. I hope that all of you had a wonderful Easter celebration, and that at some point, you were able to reflect on our Savior, and remember that he died for each of us, so that we can live. I am so proud of Hayden for choosing to serve a mission, and for wanting to bring people to a knowledge of Jesus Christ, so they can find peace and joy as well. If you click on the link below, you can watch a two minute Easter video about the Savior. I hope that you enjoy it. This is what Elder Schaff wrote home this week-

Prince of Peace Video

  "This week has been a roller coaster. It was terrible and then fantastic, and I went through several phases of joy and frustration. In the end the good outweighed the bad, but I'm working to overcome that. I can't seem to get it together, to be consistently happy. I always want more, more investigators, blessings, or praise, but like Alma: "I am a man and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things the Lord hath allotted unto me."

  Nonetheless, I'm going to focus on the positive, because sitting in the negative profits nothing! 😀   (We usually don't use the faces but I needed it! Smiling now.)

  So Mon-Fri was very slow, but Fri-Sunday gave us miracles yet again. I learned an important lesson of truly having faith in the Lord's promises and his support. (Even though I've said I've learned that the last few weeks, at least in my journal.)

  Elder Lopez and I are doing good, sometimes he corrects me on what I should do better and usually misses an ideal time or way to say it, but I know he just wants me to be a good missionary, so I try not to be annoyed. 
I've been feeling well, I'm trying to remove any clouds of doubt from my life that are slowing me down! Life, and the mission, are significantly better and more fulfilling when you reflect on the positive. I spent a bit too much time for my liking this week being upset or disappointed in some small things. One of such was that "Ana's" mom got sick, and she could not attend church, so we had to push back her baptism date. And I got myself all sad in my mind because transfers are the 23rd or the 24th and I probably will not be in town....but I remembered that it shouldn't matter to me: she's getting baptized regardless of if I'm there or not, and that's my purpose. So sometimes I'm making this harder than it should be because I'm seeking personal praise. I decided yesterday that God knows what I'm doing. So even if crazy things like that happen and all my baptisms happen when I leave, I can be super positive and have joy!

  Alright, so things from the week, "Ana" is getting reading for baptism at the end of April. She couldn't come to church this week because her mother was sick, but felt bad about it, and asked if she can still prepare for baptism. She really wants this.

  Leaving her apartment from one of our lessons, I slipped and rolled my ankle into the curb. The ankle came off uninjured, but I splashed some murky water onto my suit pants. It smelled like manure, so worse than murky! I'll need a dry cleaner now. That's just a laughable experience looking back.

  We did not have any new investigators when Friday began. We decided that if our appointments cancelled, we would just walk around and talk to people. When we did that, we found 4 people by the end of the week who were interested in the gospel! Our goal was 4! The Lord does provide for His children if they will only have faith in Him and His promises.

  President Clark held a mission-wide conference call on Saturday, and he explained that we have had a statistical dip in baptisms ever since we stopped challenging people on the first lesson. So he invited us to more closely follow the Spirit. (We changed in February because the missionary broadcast said to try it in the context of the plan of salvation.) We might try the first lesson method again.

  More importantly, he taught us about how to teach the Sabbath Day, he said he felt the Lord has revealed to him through our report numbers that this mission will be blessed by clearly teaching the Sabbath day. I'd love to elaborate on this, but I am running low in time. I will definitely type it all up next time, but I will give the list of scriptures he guided us to. He discussed with us that we must see the Sabbath Day more as an opportunity to come closer to Christ instead of solely thinking about going to church. That is very true.

Sabbath Day Observance scriptures for your study and learning:
Genesis 2:2,3
Exodus 20: 8-11
Leviticus 26:2,4-7
Ezekiel 20:20
Deuteronomy 32:13,14
Exodus 31:13
Doctrine & Covenants 59:16-21
"The Sabbath is a Delight", Russell M Nelson, April 2015 General Conference
Moroni 4:3
Moroni 5:2
"This Do in Remembrance of Me", Jeffrey R Holland, October 1995 General Conference
Mosiah 5:8
Doctrine & Covenants 18:24

  Additionally, something I completely forgot from Zone Conference was this talk from a BYU Devotional that President showed us, Craig Manning on mind mapping. I'd invite you all to find this talk and check it out.

There is something about saying "Today is my day!" in an Australian accent that just motivates you to be as awesome as you can be for the following moments.

The Power of Your Words (Excerpt) - by Craig L. Manning:
BYU Speeches, January, 2017
What is potentially the greatest lesson the Lord has taught me is that faith begins with how you talk to yourself.

From the Lectures on Faith we read:

It is by words . . . with which every being works when he works by faith. God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” Joshua spake, and the great lights which God had created stood still. Elijah commanded, and the heavens were stayed for the space of three years and six months, so that it did not rain. . . . All this was done by faith. . . . Faith, then, works by words; and with these [words] its mightiest works have been, and will be, performed. [61 (7.3)]

As I continued my education, my passion for wanting to understand the application of true principles and facts continued to grow. I was fortunate that BYU hired me as the women’s head tennis coach, and I worked hard to apply what I was being taught. As the time arrived to do my dissertation, I wanted to study how attentional control, or focus, impacted human performance. While working on my dissertation, I would awake early in the morning and pray for guidance from the Lord. It was a draining experience; having a full-time job, four kids, and a dissertation to write did not come easy for me. I will forever be indebted to my wife’s sacrifices during this period of time.

Out of this experience the Lord taught me how to take principles, facts, or ideas and break them down into actionable knowledge. This process is called MIND MAPPING or coding the mind, turning knowledge into an action or a skill, and it applies not only to physical skills but to mental skills. MIND MAPPING is accomplished through the creation of RELEVANT CUES. A RELEVANT CUE is two to three actionable words that act as triggers and that are exact enough to HOLD AN INDIVIDUAL'S ATTENTION UNDER EXTREME PRESSURE OR EXTREME BOREDOM. These CUES enable an individual to direct his or her attention to very specific actions, rapidly creating relevant skills.

I applied this process to my coaching and was amazed by the dramatic increase in performance from the tennis players I was working with. Prior to using relevant cues, I would work hard during a one-hour tennis lesson to have the athlete hitting the ball well by the end of the hour, only to have the athlete return for the next lesson and have to spend the first twenty to thirty minutes going back over what we had last worked on. Retention was not where it needed to be.

When we used relevant cues, the athlete’s ­retention increased to the point that it would take a maximum of only five minutes to review the skills the athlete had learned in the ­previous ­lesson, as the skills had been retained. This increased retention allowed for rapid progression to the next skill. I started applying this process to other sports and then to business, then to music, and now to addiction recovery.

One athlete I worked with using this method was a U.S. Olympic mogul skier who, seven months prior to the Vancouver Olympics, was on the C team and was not ranked very high. Her coach approached me and asked me to work with her with the hope that she might be ready to compete at the Sochi Olympics four and a half years down the road. I remember the conversation. The coach wanted to test the effectiveness of mental strength training. He said to me that this particular athlete would do what I asked and that she was my guinea pig.

The athlete worked hard on training her thoughts to be positive and proactive and on using relevant cues to purify her thought patterns. She did everything I asked. On November 19 she called me in tears. She had just made the last discretionary position on the World Cup tour. This was a subjective coaches’ decision to bring someone onto the World Cup team who had minimal professional experience.

As the season progressed through the early winter months, this athlete continued to develop her skills rapidly to the point that, by the time the World Cup at Deer Valley came around at the end of January, she was sitting in tenth place on the tour. She had achieved several fourth-place finishes to get to tenth in the world, but she had never finished on the podium.

One of the tools I like the athletes I work with to have is a POWER STATEMENT. A POWER STATEMENT is a tool (CAN BE A RELEVANT CUE) to use when doubt comes at critical moments. It floods the mind with positive, strong thoughts and instantly squeezes out any negative thoughts and emotions.

  Check that out, it can bless your life! The more you do for the Lord, the more blessed you will feel by His hand. That's how I'm feeling this week.

  I'm really seeking to do His will, and not mine at all times, because that is what brings the perfect joy from the Holy Ghost."

--Elder Schaff

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fresno Zone Photo - March 2017

  This is a photo of the Fresno Zone in March, I pulled it off the mission blog. Elder Schaff is in the back row, second from the right. This is a fun selfie of the group, love the smiles!

Week 34 - Take Action!

  Elder Schaff sent one and only one email home this week, this is what we got-

  "This week was crazy. It went by incredibly quickly, and was full of joys, disasters, hopes, and surprises. We had an investigator planning on getting married to his girlfriend, who is a member, so that he could be baptized, but his girlfriend informed us he is drinking (alcohol) and not telling us. Then he texted us and said they weren't getting married. That is unfortunate, but it could happen in the future. It is strange how sometimes people want to partake of the gospel, but they aren't willing to do anything about it.
   And now a commentary from Elder Schaff about doing what is right: It's like seeing a beautiful, juicy, fruit on a tree branch a little taller than you are. All you need to do to get that fruit is reach a bit, stretch yourself, maybe even jump if you need to. Yet some people just look at the fruit and wish it would fall down to them. They might even complain about how hungry they are, but continue to wait for the fruit!!! And while the gospel tree is more about reaching to become something more, and staying there, you get the idea. Take action! If you're wallowing in misery, start planning how you'll swim to your success. Don't let the world's tide push you to and fro when there's a path (or perhaps a current) that you know you need to take. The hope of a brighter tomorrow and progression isn't left merely to chance.

   We had this other investigator, "Ana", come to church for all 3 hours. She has had a mighty change of heart since we have been teaching her, and she knows it is right (the gospel.) The problem is, she never has time to keep the reading commitments. I'm hoping that with her newfound determination, all will work out and that she will be baptized. She is looking so good right now! She came to an Easter activity on Saturday as well. She brought her kids to church, who professed that it was extremely boring, but once they got to Primary they had fun.
  We have found 4 investigators this week too. One couple we had a lesson with, but didn't count as investigators yet because we aren't sure if the return appointment is for them to bash us or not. We started teaching the Plan of Salvation, all was well until we tuaght about the Spirit World. Then the guy, "L", suddenly starts dropping Bible scriptures left and right, including several from Revelation, about how once you die it is all over and that there is no way you can accept the gospel. The conversation went on, but was not positive. I was not prepared for Revelation. I had some scriptures prepared to explain the doctrine, but I really don't prepare for bashes. If they don't want it, they won't take it, but "L's" wife needs the message, her brother died in a car crash and she thinks there is no hope for him. So maybe I'll study up a bit...

    We had a Zone Conference this week, and President Clark reiterated his message from last conference of making sacrifices to achieve our true potential as missionaries. He has set a goal of 70 baptisms for April. There are approximately 90 companionships in this mission, so we'll see what happens. President's dream goal is that this mission achieves "The Power of One" at least once, which is that every companionship baptizes in a transfer. We're mustering all our faith to make sure we are getting people to progress, finding those seeking the gospel, and ensuring that we also do our part--studying for investigators and sacrificing my (our) personal will to do the work of the Lord.

    I know I'm trying to do everything I can to improve even just a little bit each day. As we learned in general conference, even just the simple, daily efforts of reading the scriptures and praying can have a profound effect on our lives. I testify of that promise. It is absolutely true. A little time doing the things of God each day brings a joy that cannot even be compared to the things the world claims as happiness.
    So if you chance upon reading this, evaluate where you are in your life and see what you can do to become something more, no matter how great you might be right now.
  "Follow Him and He will take you to heights that are new." (Him being Jesus Christ.)

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Zone Conference April 2017

I pulled these photos off of the mission blog that President and Sister Clark keep, you can visit the site directly at http://fresnomission.blogspot.com/

Fresno, Fresno East and Fresno West Zones
Elder Schaff is on the back row, 5th from the right
Elder Lopez and Elder Schaff are seen on the right, 3 photos up from the bottom, blue ties

Week 33 - April General Conference

  Twice a year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints holds a general conference, the first weekend in April and October. There are four general sessions in which we hear wonderful talks from church leaders and beautiful, inspiring music. It is hard to believe that Elder Schaff's very first weekend in Fresno was 6 months ago, he arrived just in time for the October conference. Now, he and his companion just listened to the April sessions. This is how Hayden responded when I asked him if he had a favorite talk from conference-

  "Joaquin E. Costa. The new legend of church leaders adored by missionaries all across the world right now. Every missionary in my Zone was devastated when we realized that none of our investigators had decided to join us for that session, but that's how it goes. (Hayden is referring to an address by Elder Joaquin E Costa titled, "To the Friends and Investigators of the Church" here is a link, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/to-the-friends-and-investigators-of-the-church?lang=eng

Elder Joaquin E. Costa
General Authority Seventy
  If you were in a normal mission, you probably watched all of conference, but President Clark sent a call-out to the entire mission saying that we would not be attending the morning and afternoon sessions of Saturday. We simply could not lose 4 hours of precious finding time on a Saturday! We were thus commissioned to go and find people to teach, and watch or download Saturday conference today.

  I thought that was crazy, but it made the light of the Sunday sessions shine even brighter. Several talks were invaluable to missionaries. So although that was a test of faith, it was a good purpose.

to be continued.... 

  "Alright, let's do this. First off, there was no time last week to mention it, but we moved apartments! The Echo sister missionaries will not be returning for a long time apparently, so the mission decided they would rather keep that apartment than the one that we had. Thus, we emptied out that apartment completely!!! That consumed a lot of our time last week. But if you think that Sister Missionaries get better privileges and apartments just "because they are girls" or because "they aren't as tough," YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! Their main room and kitchen are bigger than our entire apartment before! Plus, there are two more rooms and a bathroom, and walk-in closets. So what do you think of that!!!

  Well, this week was honestly a bit difficult for me because I got hit by a wave of doubt/faithlessness on Wednesday. Our investigators are all really struggling, and I felt I just didn't have enough faith to help them. The miracles that they need aren't going to come into their lives because they aren't really doing anything but acknowledging that they feel good when we come visit. But I was saved by a spiritually strong mission President when we had interviews on Thursday. He did not ask me my needs, but as we talked gave me advice of how he felt that the gospel sometimes is hard to accept; sometimes it's hard to take action. Because it's true, *This is not President'st words in the bracket* [and it isn't what some other people might preach saying that everyone is going to make it if they say they love Jesus (or whatever it is, you get the picture.)]  and because it's true it requires sacrifice to accept.

  He then said that he believes it is hard like that because if they accept it in the end, they are much more likely to have that firm testimony and keep the faith. The life changing effects of the gospel will mean more to them because they personally acted to gain those blessings. I liked that.

  In the priesthood session, I felt the Holy Ghost rather strongly testifying of giving all we can and then seeking to go and do more. I was also praying about how to be a more effective missionary, because sometimes Elder Lopez and I have had long discussions about what we should do with certain hours of the day, trying to choose the better of two good options, which is always particularly hard to do. The hardest decisions are between two really good things.

  I felt impressed upon that there is no one and only method to do missionary work. There isn't a "Ricciardi way," or a "loving way," or a "finding way," or any other ideology a missionary might feel leads him to consistent success. There is only the Lord's way. And the way to consistently execute that way, that will (if you will) of the Father, is to be seeking personal revelation each day concerning what we ought to be doing each day. 
  Alright, with that being said, honestly regardless of if the days are good or bad they fly by so quickly... I've reached the point where missionary work is just a joy. I've been a little sad sometimes when we don't stop to talk to groups of people because they speak English and we're the Spanish missionaries. That's a little bit of a chain stopping me there. I hope some day I'm serving in a "zebra" or dual language area, because I want to be free to talk with everyone! But the work in Spanish is good too. If everyone I talked to spoke Spanish, I'd be in. But I'm still in the United States, thus not so. I just think it's awkward to say : "We can't come back later, but other missionaries can, how does that sound?"

  Anyway, the week went by so fast I completely forgot that we rode bikes on Tuesday. We were low on miles. We get 1,600 miles in this area each month (to drive) and we were getting really close to the end of the miles, and wanted to be exactly obedient, so we biked for a day to save miles. We had 14 miles to spare, which was wonderful. Many missionaries went over their miles this month.
  I don't have much time to rehearse what I learned during conference, but my favorites were President Monson on Sunday, Ronald A. Rasband, D. Todd Christofferson, and Joaquin E.Costa was amazing!!!! I liked this quote: "I testify that Jesus Christ is the light that we must reflect," from Elder Benjamin De Hoyos talk, and the talk from Quentin L. Cook.

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
April 2017 General Conference
  (This is a link to access any talk of the April 2017 General Conference, just click on a talk and read or listen, they are all very inspiring.)

  I also love singing the 7th verse "How Firm a Foundation"  That also invigorates my soul. Out of time, ask questions if you have 'em.


--Elder Schaff