Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Week 40 - Ecstatic to Serve the Lord

  I had a difficult time even writing to Hayden this week because a horrible stomach virus plagued Michael and me all weekend. I could hardly concentrate to type to him, so he didn't get much from home this week, but this is what he sent for all of us. Enjoy!

  "We're striking the email time early today! The Zone is going to play volleyball and do some fun stuff later, hopefully it works out, but we're trying to do everything in the morning because of that!
    This week was awesome and spiritual, but also boring and annoying at some points.

An excerpt sent to my friends in the field:

*******We had our 2nd to last Zone Conference with President Clark this week, he leaves June 29th...We send our mission President home on my birthday.... He was very excited to be with us again and taught us some incredible things from the heart. Our President is determined that "finding when you teach," (PMG chapter 9, 158) particularly with less-active members, is the greatest way to find "quality investigators," who would actually prepare for baptism. Our Assistants to President trained on this that they called "Baptizing in Bulk!" They just found two families with 4 and 6 unbaptized members through less-actives. They explained one of our goals as missionaries should be to establish the church (PMG page 10). Reactivating less-active members certainly accomplishes this. 

Our President also gave us this little gem:  
Allegory of the Olive Tree - Book of Mormon, Jacob Chapter 5 Definition of Terms:
1. The Vineyard - The world 
2. Master of the vineyard - Jesus Christ
3. Servant - The Lord’s prophets
4. Tame Olive tree - The house of Israel, the Lord’s covenant people
5. Wild Olive Tree - Gentiles, or non-Israel (later in the parable, wild branches are apostate Israel)
6. Branches - Groups of people
7. Roots of the tame olive tree - The gospel covenant and promises made by God that constantly give life and sustenance to the tree
8. Fruit of the Tree - The lives or works of men
9. Digging, pruning, fertilizing - The Lord’s work with his children, which seeks to persuade them to be obedient and produce good fruit 
10. Transplanting the various branches - The scattering of groups throughout the world, or restoring them to their 
original position
11. Grafting - The process of spiritual rebirth wherein one is joined to the covenant
12. Decaying branches - Wickedness and apostasy
13. Casting the branches into the fire - The judgment of God

Read Jacob 5 with that guide and it'll make more sense for sure!*******

I remember reading Jacob 5 as a kid in family scripture study and it was so boring! I was wondering why there was 70 verses talking about trees! Now it's a much more valuable chapter, especially as a missionary.

 Coming off of Zone Conference was a highlight of the week. At the end of it, every missionary was inspired to get out there and baptize some converts! As always with returning to reality, however, there is opposition to overcome before that success can be achieved. This week our area was  giving us a beat-down. We had almost no success and few lessons Tues-Fri. Saturday was also a bit slow, but we found an awesome investigator named Leo. He survived a bad car crash that put him into a coma. During his coma, he explained that he explained that he saw a beautiful place that looked like a paradise, full of happy people. He also saw a dreary, red place that seemed miserable. He described other things, and then said he woke up at that point. The doctor told him it was a miracle he was alive and that he'd been in a coma for 15 days. Since then Leo is trying to follow God and do what is right. He decided to begin a search for something greater because, as he put it: "My Catholic faith was good, but it wasn't enough for my questions." (-L Bautista, quote paraphrased and translated.)    He wanted to go to church but something held him up. Next week? We had a good day Sunday and met a less-active member family, "La familia Leonardo." They were super nice and got excited about starting a study of the Book of Mormon again! 
  • Diligence seems to be a key to missionary work. Rejection is inevitable. Some people hear bad things, are misinformed, or plainly don't like us. It's their loss. 
  • Nonetheless this is God's marvelous work and glory, bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man! 
  • Surely His promises to the missionaries and the people we teach will be fulfilled!
  • As long as we obey Him and do what He says, we have a promise of success. (D&C 82:10)
That mentality has kept me going this week. I know I'm pretty bad about remarking precisely what's going on in the area, so I'll try to make a summary:

The teaching pool:
Laura -- actually lives in Fresno, but works in Selma. Has family in Parlier
Betty -- Likes listening and understands doctrine super well, but isn't sure about going to church
Leo -- just told his story above
Domingo -- Can only visit on "Domingos," because that's his day off.
Angel -- Wants to find the true church, but has lost hope he could actually do it.
Bella & "Skip" -- Like the blessings of the message but don't like reading too much. Skip works on cars and has a lot of tattoos. If you search "crazy/happy hispano" in google he might come up.
There are others, but those are the ones that really have prospects of progressing. We'll see what happens.

The rest of the teachings of Zone Conference were inspiring. The Holy Ghost was tangible and potent. If there was footage of that room, it would have been a great example of "how different people feel the Holy Ghost," from the tears to the warm smiles, or others humbling staying reverent.

President Clark gave us some of his greatest and heartfelt counsel, as he will be leaving soon. He taught of being "agents unto ourselves," or in other words, using every moment of our lives wisely. He mentioned that this was how he became the CEO of his own company after only 2 years of work after college. He continued, saying that far greater than this was the impact it had on his spiritual life, bringing him closer to his Savior Jesus Christ.

At the very end, the sister missionaries went with Sister Clark and the Elders stayed with President Clark. President taught us many great and marvelous things during this time, and gave us a charge to magnify our Priesthood authority to bless others and follow Christ. He gave us this medallion with Christ on it, and a scene of "The Good Samaritan" on the back. He then charged us to keep that medallion in our pockets EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES, as a reminder of what we have accomplished together in the great California Fresno Mission, and that he will always be our friend. I'm not sure that I could get a greater worldly possession than that! That was my week! 

--Elder Schaff! Ecstatic to serve the Lord.

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