Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Week 49 - Baptism in the Selma Spanish Branch

  Elder Schaff was excited this week because their investigator was baptized on Sunday. He initially began teaching Leo with Elder Ennis, and then with Elder Derbidge. Elder Ennis was able to come and attend the baptism, which was great. Everything seems to be going well and the work is progressing in Selma/Parlier. 

Elder Ennis, Leo and Elder Schaff

Elders Derbidge and Schaff, Leo and Elder Ennis
  "Time goes by fast! Well, this was a bad email period because I was very distracted by the other Elders playing and downloading music. President Mackay just changed the music rules to allow anything on lds.org. Let me tell you there are some good things on there. There is a lot more music than you'd expect. Which means that the other missionaries searching for "new" and inspiring music in the collections is really distracting.

This week we found 5 new investigators. Finally broke out of the drought of not finding too well! 

Notable events-

Leo was baptized! So Leo does look like a gangster a bit in the first photo. He has to wear his hat except for prayers and the sacrament in the building because they put the air conditioning on so high it hurts him. (He has a metal plate in his head that hurts a lot when it gets cold!.) It was an unforgettable baptism.

We found an older woman that is 87 years old, named "M". She began investigating! That's going to be the oldest person I've taught. I was surprised because she has no health problems and understood clearly what we said. 
(I think Elder Schaff was just surprised because he has taught many elderly people who have had serious health problems and have a hard time advancing with the discussions.)

On Thursday we got into a Bible bash with an angry Pentecostal. We lost the Spirit, but prayed and got it back later that night. It turned out we had to learn that lesson so that on Saturday we could teach "E" effectively and answer his questions without bashing.

On Sunday Leo was forgiven of his sins and made clean in the waters of baptism. Many members attended and it united the Branch a bit. Perhaps things will start picking up around here!

Hope to write more next week!!!

--Love you all!

--Elder Schaff   

Friday, July 21, 2017

Week 48 - "Good to have some white sugar here in Parlier"

  Communicating with your missionary can be difficult. I have to laugh a little bit because last week I was sick with a sinus and eye infection. I wrote to Hayden and told him that I was sick and a little concerned because his Dad was going to India for the week. I asked him to pray that I would feel better quickly so that I could manage at home and get his sisters where they needed to be. His opening line in return was, "glad everything is okay at home." Not sure that I felt that things were okay, but oh well, sometimes it's hard to communicate with your missionary. Here is Elder Schaff's news from the CFM this week.

  "Good to have some white sugar here in Parlier."

  Quote of the week. Elder D and I counseled together and decided we would make serious efforts to talk to everyone this week. We did so. The results were incredible. We had many people to visit. Unfortunately, most of those people were busy and did not accept our return visit. Others began reading the Book of Mormon and we set times to meet next week. For whatever reason we found no new investigators this week, but it's alright, we aren't discouraged, this week will be great!  You have to sift through a lot of coal to find diamonds; a lot of tares to find wheat.

  One of those people was a man that has talked with the missionaries before. Elder E and I had actually talked with him as well, but he acted a lot more mellow this time. Weird. Anyway, he took a copy of the Book of Mormon and gave us that header quote. He said that there were so many ignorant Hispanics in Parlier that it was good to have some missionaries preaching about the things that matter in life. An interesting comment, but funny nonetheless.

  Talking to everyone made the work satisfying. Even on tough days Elder D and I knew we had done everything we could have initiated ourselves, and the feeling that came was one of peace and trust. It seemed that by the end of the week we were talking with more prepared people because God could trust us to put them in our path.

  Transfers came and will go tomorrow as they always do. As I predicted, there are not many transfers this time around. I think President Clark worked rather hard to put the mission in order for President Mackay, so his first transfer board was hopefully not so stressful. Then again, seeking revelation like that is still a big deal, so who knows! Either way all is well. You must be wondering if I was affected by the call by now. The answer is that the Selma area will stay intact. None of us are moving except Elder C, our Zone Leader. His mission is finished! He was my first Zone Leader and was a great example for me. Really a changed man. It will be sad to see him go, but he lived up to his potential. He brought salvation to the people of Fresno. He said I'll see him again in "a little over a year" so we'll see if he gets himself married before then- haha.
  I'm excited that Selma is staying together. Our small district of Elders Nielsen, Lopez, Derbidge, and I have gotten close. We have a lot of work to do to get this Selma Branch up on its feet. We probably were called to serve another transfer here so that we could do that. It's going to be a challenge, but I truly believe we can change the perspective this branch has of the gospel.
  • And now a mini soap-box speech by Elder Schaff:
  • Live up to what you have been called to do.
  • All a ward or branch needs to be super successful and build Zion is to have diligent members who will-
  • read the scriptures each day, 
  • pray daily, 
  • visit a family or two once a month, 
  • go to church weekly, 
  • and faithfully accomplish what they have been asked to do by the Lord. (callings)
  Is that so hard? All that together, takes what, maybe 60 hours in the whole month, if you put 10 hours into the calling? That's 8.3% of the time of your month. That's not even a tithing of your time! That doesn't ask much to be a member of Christ's church. 

  Of course, those duties may vary. Take it as you will. I just thought that's the difference between enduring to the end and rejoicing to the end.

  Hmm....what else to say. Our teaching pool is very small right now. We're talking maybe 6 investigators. We're going to be finding a lot in the future. "L" is going to be baptized this weekend, most likely. This last week we decided to postpone the interview yet still because he wasn't sure about tithing. We cleared it up, and all is well. We also had to review why obeying the law is important. The Spirit touched him as we read from the Book of Mormon and he understood why even minor laws are key. They uphold a free society. He is desirous for baptism yet still, so I have no fear for him no matter the delays!

  "M" is still doing good. "E" is an enigma. We're trying to figure out how he feels and what is holding him back. I'll update you next week!

  Receive my words with my love! Everyone out there, be a better you! Be diligent! Be humble! Improve yourself! Love the Lord!

--Elder Schaff

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Week 47 - Meeting President and Sister Mackay

  In the 11 months that Elder Schaff has been serving, he has mailed home 2 postcards. Thank goodness for the weekly emails, because he really writes a lot and we are so appreciative. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised when I got the mail on Saturday and found a birthday card addressed to his sister! He actually went and bought her a card and wrote to her, his companion even wrote a nice note on the back, and she was thrilled. I know it is hard for a missionary to take the time to do these type of things, and that is kind of out of his character, so it was a wonderful surprise for her.
  It was hard to celebrate the 4th of July without Hayden here. He always loved this holiday and would take photo after photo and even made videos of the fireworks shooting off in town. I, on the other hand, don't appreciate the noise and the crowds, but I made myself take some firework photos and emailed them to him, because I know that he loves it so much. There are just certain things that you can't take part of during a mission, but that's okay, he is very willing to be obedient and returned to his apartment early that evening, as counseled to do.
  As far as the weekly email goes...all seems well. Enjoy!

  "First off for this week, "L"s baptism was postponed to this upcoming weekend because he encountered a minor set back during the baptism interview. All is well though, he just needs to make a minor change and wants to make the change!

    "L" is awesome. He's a funny fella! He is still trying to recover from the accident 16 months ago, so he goes out to walk and strengthen his weak leg. He started walking toward the corner store to preach to his old friends and convince them to stop drinking. The first day he did this he had them sit down on boxes and he read the Book of Mormon to them. The next day one named "M", asked for a Book of Mormon and read it to the group as well. By the fourth day, "L" had convinced these old friends to stop buying alcohol and to buy a pizza and 2 Liter soda together while they read the Book of Mormon.
   We have not yet seen this group, but if all of that is true, that's a testament to the power of the Book of Mormon. If it can get people begging for money in front of a corner store to stop buying alcohol and buy a pizza instead, it can certainly improve the quality of your life too!

  "M" who was baptized, is doing awesome. He's still reading the Book of Mormon and preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. The Spanish Branch was assigned to clean the church building this week; he went and cleaned with them! Now everybody knows him. Wonderful. Things are looking good for him!

  On the 4th of July we had to be inside the apartment at 6:00 pm. We caught up on journal writing, updated the area book as much as we possibly could, and read a lot of the Book of Mormon and talked together. Quietest 4th of July of my life. Only missionaries!!!!

  We met President Mackay July 5th. It was an inspiring meeting. After some introductions, he trained us a bit on using the Book of Mormon and remembering the "Pearl" of it all---Jesus Christ. I'll expound on that.
  I knew during those interviews (we called the meeting interviews, because we did interview very briefly 1-on-1, but most of this was with the Hanford Zone as a group, that President and Sister Mackay had been called of God to be here in the great California Fresno Mission. Before President Clark left, in that final Zone conference, one of his two addresses was about Temples and Family History. He said we should prepare to start using it more; he felt inspired that the Mackays would be using it as an effective auxiliary tool. And sure enough, Sister Mackay declared she was a family history buff and hopes to help people and missionaries use family history effectively to receive the blessings of the Temple. Prophecy fulfilled.

  Concerning the Pearl, President Mackay recounted a parable:

A man has a precious pearl of great price.
 This pearl is so beautiful that he wants to share it with everyone so they can receive joy from it's splendor as well.
The man decides he cannot simply have a pearl on display. 
He seeks out a craftsman, and requests that he make a beautiful box for this beautiful pearl.
As a result, the craftsman makes a box greater than any he has ever made in a long time.
The man smiles and takes the box, excited to display this pearl.
And he puts the pearl on display.
The first few moments, he watches everyone's reactions with anticipation,
but much to his surprise everyone is commenting on the box!
"Oh what a beautiful box!" "Did you make this fine box?" "It must have taken a skilled artisan to craft such a work!"
Almost everybody forgot about the pearl. A few people saw it and rejoiced in its beauty.
But the remainder ended up focusing on the box.
And the man was disappointed that not everybody saw the pearl.  

  What does this mean? President then told of the follow-up activity. Looking at pictures of things and defining them as "the box" or "the pearl." This was done in a training of many church leaders.
The first picture was of one of our church buildings. The question was asked: "box or pearl?" some leaders felt that it was a box as a church houses people. Others said it was a pearl because it brings the blessings of honoring the Sabbath Day. The leader declared it a box.
Next were the scriptures. Bible and Book of Mormon. Same question. Varying answers. They are declared a box.
Next was a picture of President Mackay apparently. Everyone knew this was a box. (XD) 
Then a picture of Thomas S. Monson and the First Presidency. Also a box.
Finally, the Temple. Also a box.
And last, a picture of Jesus Christ. The Pearl. The only pearl.

  Jesus Christ is the center of everything we do. Whether we're in our families or at church, reading the Book of Mormon or attending the Temple, studying on our own or discussing with friends. The means all lead to the end--Jesus Christ. All the boxes profit us nothing if we don't let them strengthen our testimony of Jesus Christ in our lives!!!

  President Mackay then shared a video of a training/talk that Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave to this generation of new mission Presidents. (President Mackay was there.) The talk was about focusing our missionary efforts on the Book of Mormon. In the end, an individual cannot come to an accurate conclusion that we have the truth and the Restored Gospel or not unless they come to know that the Book of Mormon is true. (Or if they feel, a fraud.) Either way, the answer must come from the Holy Ghost, most likely as an honest prayer to be sure.

  He said we would start strong by making the Book of Mormon a  bigger focus of our proselyting and teaching, and the Spirit was very strong in that comment. The Spirit confirmed in my mind and my heart that that is what people need. They need the Book of Mormon! It has the answers!

  So whoever you are, member or non-member, religious or not, the Book of Mormon can help you! Will you try it?

  That was quite the start for a new Mission president. God magnifies whom he calls.

  We had an exchange on Thursday. I was with Elder Lopez (Hernandez) again. He is just a ball of energy. We did a lot of hard work and talked with a lot of people. His bike was flat when we left, and so all of our street contacts began with: "Hey I know this is random, but do you have a bike pump by chance?" I guess it's an icebreaker! He helped me improve my street contacting. Critical skill to have. This weekend Elder D and I were talking with everyone and it felt great. It's the only way to meet prepared people!

  That's the low-down here in Selma and the California Fresno Mission! Until next week! Read the Book of Mormon! It will bless your life!

Elder Schaff

Friday, July 7, 2017

Welcome to President and Sister Mackay!

  The California Fresno Mission has a new mission President and wife who will be serving the next three years. Welcome to President and Sister Mackay!

Add caption

Final Zone Conference with the Clark's - June 2017

  Thought I would post some photos from Elder Schaff's final zone conference with President and Sister Clark in June. Three zones met together- Hanford, Visalia and Porterville. These photos are from the Clark's mission blog. Can you spot Elder Schaff? It's kind of like a Where's Waldo photo!

Elder Schaff is in the second row down, 7th from the right, sitting next to his previous companion, Elder Ennis
Silly photo of the combined zones

Elder Schaff is in the top right corner, loves to sing, no surprise here.

More of the choir

Elder Schaff is in about the middle of the row, dark suit, orange plaid tie.

He is sitting in between his current companion and previous companion in the middle left photo.

Left of the shoe photo, you can see Elder D sitting next to Elder Schaff and they are both writing notes.

Week 46 - Birthday, Baptism and Tough Goodbyes

  This is what Elder Schaff wrote about all that was happening the final week in June. He celebrated his birthday, they had a baptism and they said goodbye to President and Sister Clark and welcomed a new mission president and wife to the California Fresno Mission.

  "Birthday Lunch at Denny's with the Elders, as well as the senior missionary couple. They wanted to have a birthday dinner and it was nice to unify our little district a bit more."

  "The end of the Clarks was a good day, but all was fulfilled. There were many tears, laughs, and uplifting spiritual counsel in those moments. President and Sister Clark each gave their deepest, and most powerful training yet.

President Clark trained on the Eternal Learning process. Knowledge==>Understanding==>Intelligence.

Sister Clark taught "The Ladder of Motivation," basically, what is the reason for why we do things? The greatest reason is to be out of Christ-like love and Charity, and the reasons in order of decreasing value are: faith, duty, reward/punishment, fear, force. Stay with the first 3!

President Clark, Elder Schaff and Sister Clark

  "So that takes us up to Zone Conference. We said good-bye to president Clark, and that was that. He presided over the mission until June 29th, and then left. Quite the birthday present, my Mission President left me! Nonetheless he said he would always be one of my Mission Presidents and my friend, and I believe him! That is so valuable to me!  (I've still got that medallion with me as well, not going to lose it!)

Medallion that was given to Elder Schaff by President Clark previously
  This week was full of crazy events. The main people of focus have been: "M", "E", and by surprise, "L"! "M" did get baptized on Friday. There really wasn't any worry with that. He has been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon and feels that everything is true. He even bore his testimony in sacrament meeting on Sunday! Way to hit the ground running! Moments after receiving the Holy Ghost in confirmation he was acting upon it to bear his testimony.

  "M" did give a little resistance getting baptized though, (haha) he didn't bend his knees and the first time let go of my arm with both hands to plug his nose with both hands, so it was a baptism to be remembered for sure. Needless to say we got it the 2nd time and all was well.

    "E" has been a tough cookie recently. He has had a lot of doubts about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but it all came back together yesterday. We have reached the conclusion that he is literally on the battlefield of faith, like a tug-of-war between the Spirit and Satan's influences."

  "E" had a strange experience that he related to us about Wednesday I think, where he said that his son came to him at 2 in the morning crying and he felt that something was wrong. He attributed it to the Book of Mormon, and removed it from his room and stopped reading it. We happened to have a member at that lesson, who challenged him that it was Satan trying to stop him from receiving the blessings of the Book. "E" actually decided to begin reading again, which was a surprise. I thought that was going to be the horrible ending.

  We had some lessons, but on Sunday a noticeable change occurred. he had read 2 Nephi chapters 2-8, and suddenly he felt like the Book of Mormon could be true, that Joseph Smith was possibly a prophet, and he also noted he felt he needed to be baptized. So if he turns to worldly knowledge he turns away. If he reads the Book of Mormon he feels at peace and feels like he is receiving answers. We'll see where it goes. At least for now we don't have that sinking feeling!

  AND "L"! To be honest, my birthday was a pretty tough day. Everything was normal, except every missionary had on his mind or in the back of it the fact that President Clark was indeed going home. The end had come. We visited "M" and a less-active member at the hours of 12 and 1pm, and for the rest of the day we were out on our bikes trying to talk to people. It wore me out. In the midst of all of this, we went to a appointment with a man named "F", who is really awesome. But apparently he forgot the appointment so we went back empty-handed. (We visited him on Sunday though, don't worry.) I saw "L"'s parents coming home, and I thought we might as well say hi and see how they and "L" are doing. Much to my surprise, "L" had returned from Washington! I'll take that as a birthday gift! We caught up with him and set a time to return. He came to church this week and wants to be baptized this Sunday. We'll see what happens! He does meet the requirements, so it may happen. It's exciting to see him again. 

  We did get a lot of potential investigators and had a lot of things to prepare for the baptism and records to update as well, so by the time I finished all those chores it was about 10:30pm onThursday. I opened up "The Birthday Box," and I broke a smile with a gleaming eye as I did so. I really felt your love family!!! Unfortunately I was so very drained I got to the card and saw what I had received, and all I could do was cry. For the love of my family, and also the realization that my Mission President had probably changed. I was moved with gratitude. It was not an easy birthday, but as I sat there that night, I decided the greatest gift of all was the man I had and have become thanks to the influence of all these great people. The gift of knowledge and understanding (and perhaps love) is as good as it gets in reality. It's all you can bring to the eternities!

  I did enjoy the birthday box much more through out the week, and finally got around to making cake in a mug on Sunday night. I intended to do it Saturday, but I realized I had started a fast, so I waited. The cake was pretty good Sydney, thanks for asking. Maybe I'll throw some fruit or chocolate into the next attempts.

"Birthday in a Box" package that was sent from home

  Also! My testimony of fasting increased a ton, we had many blessings Sunday, but I'm out of time, so that's a story for another day!

Love you all, bye!"

--Elder Schaff


  It was an incredible feeling to see a picture of Elder Schaff dressed in all white clothing standing next to the man he had the privilege to baptize. This is what missions are all about, finding and teaching individuals about Jesus Christ and giving them the opportunity to be baptized. Both companionship's had a baptism on June 30th. It was great day for all involved.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Week 45- Elder Schaff's Daily Summary of the Past Week

  I was writing to Elder Schaff in a hotel room in Ohio this week, we were taking his younger sister to an Especially For Youth session in Tiffin, Ohio. This week he will be celebrating his 19th birthday, and last year he came with us to Ohio to take his sister to EFY, and we celebrated his birthday at Put in Bay, which is an island in Lake Erie. So, I have been thinking of him a lot. 
  It was good to hear from him and he broke down his week by summarizing each day.

  "At long last I have more than 5 minutes to write an email!!!

  Alright, so this week was full of action, success, immense joy and a bit of Godly sorrow put the finishing touch for a character building experience. The easiest way for me to map the week is to give the day by day:

Monday: Chaotic. Had a district meeting in Hanford. Preparation day was thus very short. We had a training on the Book of Mormon and when role-playing, the Zone Leaders said that we have to stand for it and proclaim it as our favorite book--if people ask us if we like it better than the Bible, tell it straight to their face: yes, because it provides more clearly the way to salvation. (Then love them and back up your claim with evidence, but be bold!.)

Tuesday: 110ยบ. Wonderful for biking. We set an appointment with this man that didn't appear very interested, but when we went, it so happened that we had a member with us, and it ended up being a great lesson. The member made this man, "F", feel very comfortable, which resulted in him actually taking action to investigate this beautiful gospel. Later in the week we would visit him to find he had read 13 chapters. His wife is also super Catholic and tried to bash with us--and the unthinkable happened--he defended the Book of Mormon to his wife and said that she was falsely accusing it and didn't know how clear it was. Dang!

Wednesday: We had an exchange with the Zone Leaders. Highlights include Elder K felt inspired to visit a distant former investigator and we were on bikes for whatever reason (their truck was having trouble.) we ended up biking 20 miles and getting rejected and rode 20 back, knocking doors to no avail. I didn't think things like that could happen to Zone Leaders, but I guess it does! 

Thursday: We went to the Temple! we were informed we would be doing that Wednesday night. Big surprise. It was a bigger surprise to the members that needed to give us 45 minute rides to the Temple, but it worked out. Along with personal revelation that I received, our district decided that we would seek out investigators that could become worthy priesthood holders. we are going to show the branch we mean business and make it a ward!

Weekend events: The craziness breaks loose. Our investigator Miguel is set to be baptized Friday, June 30th. Elder D wanted to put it on my birthday, but the other Elders have a baptism for Friday as well, so we decided it would be much better to put them together!  That's exciting! Miguel is excited for it as well!

"E" took a turn for the worse. He lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon, doesn't know if Joseph Smith could be a prophet, and reverted to his old, interrupting self. He also didn't attend church, which was a surprise since he brought the family last time. He is however willing to visit with us to figure it all out, so hopefully it goes well! That was a shocker because we thought he was going to be baptized this week or the next.

True fear. I haven't felt that for a long time. Probably not the whole mission. But I did Saturday night. We got a text from a former potential named "H", saying that he didn't know where to go in his life and nobody could help him but us. We went to see and tried to help him, but he was inconsolable. He is a very rude person to say the least. Since our last visit he has been forcibly separated from his family... (Elder E and I visited him way back.) He gave us an ultimatum: We either show him the way to become a missionary or he becomes a drug dealer. He was totally drunk so we just got out of there. Hopefully he forgets the whole thing because we really can't help him go either way. He absolutely rejected the Book of Mormon and also said a swear word every 3rd word....

We're focusing on the awesome moments with President Clark though, and that baptism coming up. So the bad times did not last. The final Zone Conference with the Clark's is tomorrow, and I'm excited!
Gotta go, bye

--Elder Schaff