Unfortunately, we have had a very difficult week at home. Hayden's dad came down with pneumonia last week and although the antibiotics and steroids are helping him to heal and to breathe easier, he has been completely exhausted and sleeps most of the time. This has put a lot of stress on the rest of us. Hayden's grandfather, John, was diagnosed with cancer last week. It started as skin cancer, but has spread to his nervous system. He had to undergo surgery last week and starts radiation for 6 weeks this coming Friday. So unfortunately, Hayden was reading about all of this yesterday and taking it in. I never like to write him with bad news, but we feel that it is better that he knows what is happening while he serves, so that we can all be on the same page and pray for each other. Life certainly delivers highs and lows.
I decided to look up the towns that Hayden mentioned last week, Selma, Kingsburg and Parlier and give him some facts. It helps me to know where he is at. So, I will copy and paste that and then cut and paste several emails from Hayden together for the blog entry for the week-
I know you are always crazy busy and have no down time, so I thought I would share a few fun facts about the towns of Selma, Kingsburg and Parlier. I hope that you will be able to go and take some pictures of their quirky landmarks on P days.
Selma, CA has a population of about 24,000 and it is called the "Raisin Capital of the World." The town is about 207 miles north of Los Angeles and 209 miles south of San Francisco. The original crop grown in the area was wheat, but then they started planting peach orchards, but finally grapes/raisins became the main crop.
Kingsburg, CA- This little town really intrigues me Hayden. It has a population of about 12,000 and was established as a railroad town by Swedish natives. Back in 1921, 94% of the town was Swedish-American! This month, about the third weekend of May, they will hold a huge annual Swedish Festival. I wonder if you can walk it?
This city is home to the headquarters of Sun Maid Raisins. That is my favorite brand of raisins that comes in a red box. In fact, the engineering students at Cal State University Fresno built the world's largest box of raisins and it is on display outside their headquarters! Talk about photo opp for you and your new companion, btw, who is it!?
Also, the town's water tower is shaped liked an antique Swedish coffee pot. That is another photo opportunity son.
Parlier, CA- Population of about 14,000. This city has one of the highest percentages of Latinos in the entire state of CA, so you should have plenty of people to speak to in Spanish. A large majority of the population are seasonal migrant laborers who work the fields. This was also a former railroad town that first grew wheat, then stone fruit crops and finally grapes for raisins.
So, there you go, fun facts about your new area. You should have lots of grapes and raisins available over the summer! (written by Jen)
"We cover mostly just Parlier. We have a car but use it solely to travel to Parlier, then we get out on the bikes! Our apartment is 6 minutes into Selma from Parlier.
Our area covers: Selma, Kingsburg, Parlier, Fowler, Caruthers,and Raisin City. Apparently we never visit those other places because there aren't very many Spanish-speakers and even though we cover all that we have the lowest miles you can have in a car: 750. Everyone says we cover that space to visit any members that live there, because that is the extent of the branch right now. So we either need more miles, or more members and more church buildings.
Anyway, I'm loving Parlier! As you said, there are many Latinos. About 95% of the people speak Spanish anyway, regardless of race. We have been finding people to teach like crazy! It's been fantastic!"
"Meet Elder Ennis!!!
|Elder Schaff's third companion, Elder Ennis|
Elder Ennis has been in Parlier all his mission and came out two transfers after me, in thattransfer. So he has been in Parlier since I've been with Elder Lopez. This Elder is crazy!!! If anyone has mentioned to you about eating a horse or an elephant, hire Elder Ennis. I've never seen somebody eat so much! He says he used to be a food challenge competitor. The first day of the transfer, a member fed us, and we had caldo de res (beef stew). I, and the other 2 Elders had one bowl and one plate of rice. (It was a big bowl too!) Elder Ennis had 4 bowls, 5 plates of rice, and 5 cups of Kool-aid. He's always hungry I guess! He's gained a lot of weight in the mission he says.....
As naturally expected, being in a small town with a lot of Spanish people Elder Ennis has become quite accomplished at "finding." This is the art of talking to people and actually convincing them to stop whatever it is they were doing in their daily life so they can hear the message of the gospel. Elder Ennis, to be honest, is LEGENDARY at finding. Anything that breathes gets talked to by him! At one point, we were getting in our car to go somewhere, (it was night, and sometimes we get off the bikes and drive at night) and then he saw someone turn the corner behind us. He said, "Elder, it's a beautiful night for that lady to get the gospel." Without further remark, we were out of the car and talking to her about how the teachings of Jesus Christ would bless her life. Just yesterday we talked with our investigators and were heading to the car to go home. Elder Ennis pilots himself into a random driveway, knocks on the door, and suddenly we have an appointment forat !
So what do I have to offer him? He is still working on his Spanish and his teaching. The first night,, we taught our first lesson as a companionship. As we finished I asked how he thought we did, and he just stared at me wide-eyed and said: "Elder I want to punch you right now! Your Spanish is so good! I'm so jealous!" I laughed a little but we set a goal to speak more Spanish so we could improve together. I took it for granted all that time with Elder Lopez, but when I was with Elder Lopez we had some really unified and powerful lessons, and the language was never a problem or a barrier.
So it appears strengths are complementing weaknesses in this companionship this transfer. Hopefully by the end of it we'll both be effective at the big three: Finding, teaching, and language speaking! We've also bonded very quickly. We established day 1 that we like to sing and belt out "how firm a foundation" with all our might, so we have been singing in the apartment shamelessly. We're loving the work and all is going well. So I guess that's as good as it gets for a new companion I wasn't too sure about!!!"
"Things are going great in the new area. I hope all is going well in my old area though. We had some people getting ready to be baptized. This new area I'm in is called Parlier, it's a small little Mexican town that touches a city called Selma, 45 minutes away from Fresno. 95% of the people we talk with here speak Spanish, so I'm in Heaven. I can approach anyone and have a potential investigator or even an appointment for the future. It's fantastic. Unfortunately we are only a branch out here. The building is nice though because an English ward also uses it. The Branch goal is to become a ward by 2018. We just need to get some people baptized! We found so many people this week that don't even have religion and want it in their lives! We'll see how it goes, you know it always is harder than it starts off!
My companion is LEGENDARY at finding. If he sees anything that breathes he talks to it. Sometimes we're just riding our bikes and he'll turn into a driveway and knock the door and suddenly we have an appointment fornight at 7. His Spanish isn't the best, so I guess that's why I'm here. I didn't realize how good my Spanish has gotten until I lost my native speaking companion.
We've taught some FIRE lessons and even got a man that proclaimed he was a Catholic and unchanging at the beginning of the lesson to read the Book of Mormon. We found an 82 year old man named "E" that said it was too late for him and all that was left for him to do in life was to waste away and probably end up in hell when he died. We told him he could still change his life by repentance. He asked how he could do that, we explained the process, and he asked: "Can I do that right now?" and he did, and prayed with some soul. Pretty sweet week.
Hopefully between all the stuff I've sent you, you can make a good blog post! I finally got a virus-free computer and can send some photos! Hope everything will be well at home next week, and that some people still get something out of the blog! Till next week!"
|Elder Lopez and Elder Schaff at transfers, you can see Hayden's red bike and his blue luggage.|
|These two were a great companionship, they spent nearly 5 months together in Fresno.|