Monday, September 28, 2015

WEEK 13- Fairfield 2nd Ward
Family & Friends,

Hello. Hello. Hello. This week was full of miracles. I've never before
experienced so many "tender mercies" from Heavenly Father. Nor have I
ever been so happy with how things are going here in the field. We are
now entering Week 5 of my 2nd transfer of being in the Fairfield 2nd
Ward. I can't begin to explain how much I love this ward.  I have
grown such a strong love for this area and the people within it. Not
only the members, but also everybody that I've come in contact with. I
can't help but to think about the scriptures in the book of Alma. In
Chapter 31, Alma starts up a mission to "reclaim the apostate
Zoramites" that are living in the area. Often times throughout this
chapter he exclaims his love and care for the Zoramite people. He
prays to Heavenly Father about their iniquities and is truly pained at
the thought of such wickedness being among the great people he is
around. I often times find myself feeling just as Alma did about the
people I am teaching. I find myself in a feeling of frustration and
pain of the wickedness among the people of Fairfield, California. I
hate when we are turned away and we aren't able to share our message
of eternal happiness. I have the urge to share this message with the
world because I know how happy it makes me - but it isn't quite
humanly possible. It's very discouraging at times, but I know that
every other missionary out in the field is experiencing the same thing
I am. I'm very thankful for my brothers that are serving in different
areas than I am, and "bringing the world His truth" because I know
it's the only thing that will enable people to truly become happy.
That's all we want. Bringing the joy to others that we receive from
this Gospel.

Finding happiness isn't very hard out here in the mission field.
There's so many little things that happen that Elder Achal & I laugh
about. Some of the funnier things that happened this week were:
-One of our investigators fell asleep during our lesson. Yes, and it
wasn't apparent to us until we asked him a couple questions and he
never responded. Oh, & did I forget to say HIS EYES WERE OPEN THE
WHOLE TIME? He fell asleep with his eyes open. That was hilarious.
-The worker at Cold Stone has a crush on Elder Achal. Oh & he's a guy,
so that's kinda weird. But funny because we tease him about it.
-I almost killed us in the car the other day because I drove on a road
into oncoming traffic. Hahahaha Yeah. I really needa get used to the
roads out here. It's way different from home.
-A family in our ward started arguing with each other while we were at
dinner with them, so Elder Achal & I just sat there and slurped our
spaghetti very very quietly. This one wasn't as funny as it was
awkward, but we had a good laugh about it.

The laughs have made the work a lot easier out here. We have been
teaching a lot of lessons to members this week because they scheduled
us to come over. This wasn't one of our busier weeks, but again we did
a ton of service. Service is a good time for us to help people and
build relationships with those that aren't members. We try building
relationships with people and getting to know them so they don't think
we are just "throwing the gospel on them". It's been a blessing to
serve those who have a negative outlook on missionaries and prove to
them we are here to help, not here to just simply baptize them a
member of our church.

I'm so thankful for all the support and love I've received over the
past couple weeks. I can't describe how much I miss all of you, but I
know the day of my return will be well worth it. Email me. I wanna
hear from all you.

I'll see you soon. Well, pretty soon. GodSpeed.

-Elder Schaefer

Monday, September 21, 2015

WEEK 12- Fairfield 2nd Ward
Family and Friends, 

Here we are entering Week 12. It's kind of felt like an eternity, but I'm holding up alright. Yesterday marked me being out on the mission for an official 75 DAYS. I am almost 1/7 of the way done with my mission. That seems sooo weird to me. Although it's been good to know how far I've come, I try not to think about it a lot. A piece of advice that I was given from a person (whom I have the upmost respect for) once told me to think of it this way... "We are currently on The Lord's errand and we are serving a MISSION, not merely serving TIME." This has given me a whole new perspective on what I'm out here to do. I've learned that it's not always about how long I've served my mission. It's not about how much longer I have until I go home, but rather HOW I served my mission. How many lives did I change while I was out here? Did I truly devote my efforts and give everything I had while being out for these two years? That's what I'm now focusing on. I'm not out here to serve a period of time - I'm out here to serve a mission. 

As far as the work goes... It was very scarce this week. We didn't have much of it, which was again frustrating. We tried tracking & finding people for hours which was very ineffective. So, without there being work... We resorted to doing a ton of service. One of our Service Projects consisted of participating in the Suisun City Coast & Creek Cleanup Event. Yes, the name sounds more glorious than the actual event. We were literally the only 8 people there. They sent us out to a field about 12 acres long with trash bags and gloves. We were out there for 4 hours in 103 degree heat picking up trash. Little did I know, this field would be INFESTED with Mosquitos, so I walked away with 14 MORE mosquito bites and a really bad sunburn. My skin hurts. Hahahha, but it's alright. Later that day we went to a nearby park and our District Leader bought sidewalk chalk for us to draw on the sidewalk. As a zone, we drew the whole Plan of Salvation and described it to those who walked by to see our artwork. Admittedly, the drawings weren't the prettiest, but we picked up a family of investigators that the Sister Missionaries are now teaching. I guess being out in the heat was a blessing. 

Elder Achal & I have been fed the wackiest, yet yummiest food this past week. We've had everything from French Fries drenched in Gravy, to Phillipino cuisine, to an Italian Pasta drenched in pepperoni grease. I am now able to better understand how missionaries come home 40 pounds heavier than they did before coming out in the field. You really have gotta watch what you eat because over time it just packs on pounds to the waste and hips area. Hahaha luckily I haven't had that problem, but if I keep getting fed like this - we might have a problem. :)

BUT! I just remembered. Our members are so awesome. The Elder family in our ward... (Yes, their last name is Elder) has a daughter that's on the color guard for the local High School. One of Elizabeth's friends has been coming to early morning seminary, church, and young women's with her. Elizabeth's friends name is Morgan and she plans to get baptized sometime within October. We've been teaching her the lessons every Wednesday and she's been doing SO WELL. She's about 16 years old, and we just got permission from her mom to baptize her. Assuming everything goes as planned, we will baptize her in a couple weeks. Pray for her, please! We really could use it. This is looking to be a promising investigator that really wants to become a member. We have been working our best on helping her progress and get ready for an eventual baptismal date. This is gonna happen. I promise. ;) I've got a good feeling about it.

This is really all the news I've got this week. Sorry, folks. Hopefully there will be more next week. Pray for blessings and people for us to find, please. We'd really appreciate it. I love you all so much & wish you all the best. 

I'll see you soooooooooon. Not much longer. GodSpeed.

-Elder Schaefer

Monday, September 14, 2015

WEEK 11 Fairfield 2nd Ward

Hello EverybodyπŸ‘‹πŸΌ,

Before I start anything I wanna give a quick shout out to one of my very best friends Elder Nielsen. Geese, man. You're quite the stud bro. I can't believe you are about to head out to The MTC in a couple days. You are going to be the most amazing missionary in the world & I mean it. Your leadership capability and the power of influence you have on others is going to bless you in the 2 short years to come. You're one of the most loving people in the world and it's quite evident that The Lord saw YOU as the person to best serve the people of Lubbock, Texas. Remember the importance and sacred power of your calling... EVEN WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH. You're there for a reason. Give em all you got. (D&C 75:3-5) Kings Do King Things.πŸ”± I love you, Grant. I'll see you soon. GodSpeed brother.

The past week was not much out of the ordinary. Elder Achal and I are steadily working with our investigators and doing all we can to bring them The Gospel. Unfortunately, you can't share this great message when people don't show up to appointments 2 nights in a row, but I guess that's all just part of this mission thing.πŸ˜‰ We have been bailed on more than a couple times this week, and it's gotten on our nerves a little bit but that's alright. Aside from those couple lessons, I had the single handedly most spiritual experience of my life last Monday. 

We have been teaching this Elderly couple for the past 2 months of me being here. Brother & Sister Wagner are their names. Brother Wagner is a member and has been all his life. He served a mission, and has had high roles in leadership within callings of the church. He's an amazing guy. His wife is a non member, but happens to be an episcopalian. Sister Wagner is very very interesting. She has a lot of questions about The Book of Mormon, so we normally spend the majority of our discussions answering those questions. This lesson was a little different though. We taught her about prayer and the importance of scripture study. In teaching this lesson, I had an amazing power overcome me. I had never felt The Lords presence nearer to me before. I honestly felt as if The Savior was in the room standing next to me, putting thoughts and words into my mind of many marvelous things to share with Sister Wagner. I was sharing scriptures, offering up pieces of insight and many other things that I had never before known. A knowledge and feeling had completely overcome me to the extent of which I didn't even feel myself talking. I think I might have come out of that lesson learning more than she did, but it was the most powerful feeling I've ever felt. I was no longer teaching that lesson. It was the Holy Ghost. The spirit was so strong and I've never felt The Lord speak vicariously through me like that before. It was a defining moment for me in which I can now testify that this work MUST be ordained of God. It has to be. There is no other answer to it. There is no way a mortal and imperfect man (such as myself), can have experiences like this without a supreme being acting as a constant companion to me and speaking through me. This is an amazing work that we are called to. I love it. I walked away from this lesson feeling just as Nephi describes in the 8th chapter of his writings in the Book of Mormon. I wanted everyone to experience this. I wanted everyone to have this same light and happiness that I enjoy from The Gospel. I wanted to cry out to everyone in hopes that they might come and feel the love from our Savior Jesus Christ just as I had in that short amount of time. I had "partaken of the fruit and it filled my would with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also." It's an amazing feeling beyond description and comprehension. I'm so thankful that Heavenly Father has blessed us with this Gospel and blessed us with knowledge of happiness that no other church has. I'm so thankful Heavenly Father trusts us as missionaries to preach his RESTORED gospel despite being the immature, inexperienced, 18 year olds that we are. 
The importance of our calling and being a missionary is not one to take lightly. 

Something REALLY fun happened this week. We showed up to a service project that had been previously set up with our WHOLE district. We had about 6 Elders and 4 Sisters there. A member wanted us to weed a little bit of their yard. Well, it turns out this wasn't just a "little bit" of their yard. Their garden was infested with 6 foot weeds that hadn't been cut for 4-5 years. Yes, 6 foot weeds. These things were taller than me, and just about as thick as a water bottle. They were literally small trees. Hahaha, but it was alright. She supplied us with some SWEET power tools and we did WORK.πŸ’ͺ🏼 Elder Adamson & I took the weed eaters and destroyed the garden. We had these babies strapped on us like a soldier would have strapped his gun on him in World War II. Hahahaha, I almost felt like I was in a movie. It really made me feel like a kid again so I kinda had to wake up out of this "action movie scene", and come back to the reality that I was just a regular missionary performing some service for a member. We had fun with it though. The only crappy part was the 16 Spider bites I walked away with on my legs and arms. They have been itching like crazy. Hahaha but it's alright. I just smack em as hard as I can and the itching stops for a couple minutes.πŸ˜‚ and yes. I did wear my Jesus Sandals to the service project which was probably the word idea of my life. 

But yeah. It's been a pretty good week. Mission life is tough, but it's worth it. We make these little sacrifices and endure these little trials just for an eternal state of happiness. I believe this mission will eventually bless my life and my future family. I believe that this work is one of failure and success that molds us into whom we are supposed to become. I believe this to be the true church of God. And I certainly believe we can all benefit from our Savior. There's no doubt about that.πŸ‘πŸΌ

I love each and every one of you. I miss you all so much. I think about it as I lay in bed at night. I think about coming home and seeing family, and friends, and neighbors, and the daycare kids, and the many other things that made home life so great. How great will be the day.😊

I'll see you all soon. 22 short months. GodSpeed.πŸ™πŸΌ

-Elder Schaefer

Monday, September 7, 2015

WEEK 10-  Fairfield 2nd Ward

Family and Friends,

Hello again. Well this week wasn't super eventful, but it definitely was one full of service, sweat, and tons of laughs. I love all of the missionaries out here. We have all become best friends and always look for opportunities to be together. Elder Achal and I are getting along better than ever.  We laugh so much. We have been teaching so well together. (I think we've figured out each others teaching styles, so we've tweaked our own to compliment one another and teach effectively.) We got two BRAND NEW greenies out of the Provo MTC this past week, so that's been fun showing them around and welcoming them into the California, Santa Rosa mission. Something that I think is so amazing out in the mission field is the love and welcoming that each missionary shows each other. There is such a distinct relationship with everyone here and nobody is treated less than another, despite the differences that we may have. We treat everybody the same and its been such a great example to me as to how the Savior would love others. 

I've really been trying to work on being more Christlike and attaining Christlike attributes throughout the duration of the two years while I'm out here. It's definitely been hard, but the Savior has helped me overcome a lot of adversity that the mission puts on you. Ive since relied on the Savior and his Atoning Sacrifice more than ever before. I can't believe the difference in spirituality that it brings when we really submit OUR will to The Lords. I've seen an abundance of blessings recently in my life... only because I'm working to make everything I do in accordance with the Lord and his standards. I can't wait to see and experience the growth that the mission brings. Nor can I wait to see all my friends when they come home from the mission and the growth they've also experienced. Cahoon, Whitworth, Nielsen, and Kartchner I miss you guys. You're my best buds. Even though we are in different places currently, you're always my dudes. Can't wait to see you guys.❤

This upcoming week is going to be 100+ degrees across the board. I can't believe how hot California is even in the "fall-ish" months. I miss Utah weather so much. The only glimpse I get of it is at night around 7:00. The sunsets here are JUST like Utah.😩 I kinda get super homesick when that time of night comes around, but Elder Achal and I just go on pretty drives in between appointments, so it makes up for it. Hahaha he's kind of a funky driver though. (Canadians do all things weird, but that's the most distinct thing that I notice.) Pray for me this upcoming week that I don't get Heat Stroke and die. Hahaha. I'm not gonna die, but it's gonna be tough.

As far as our missionary work goes... It's all the same. This was one of the busier weeks that we've had, but keeping busy is just what I need. It distracts me from thinking about home, family, and friends. The majority of this week was service because just about 3 families moved into the ward. I'm sure you can imagine how much they love to take advantage of elders that live in the area. ;) we're like little pack rats who lift heavy stuff while they sit back and sip on lemonade. It's frustrating at times, but "if there's no thorns, there's no thrones". That's kind of the motto I've lived off of for a while now. If there's no thorns in this two year journey, there will be no throne of success. 

I'm sorry to have gotten off on a random tangent, but not much happened this week. Hahaha, I hope all is well at home and all is well for those that are also serving a mission. My prayers are with you all. I miss you so much. I'm sorry if I haven't emailed any of you guys individually yet. I certainly will within the next 22 months.πŸ˜‰ gimme some time. 

Love you all so much. See you soon. GodSpeed.

-Elder Schaefer

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

WEEK 9- Fairfield 2nd Ward

Family and Friends, 

This week has been the best, most eventful week of my mission thus far. I have had more fun than ever had before. (I also haven't ever had this many doors slammed in my face than this week, but that's beside the point.)  I'm starting to really love being out here in Fairfield, California. Despite the disgustingly ugly “golden hills” that surround us, we are starting to be able to find the true beauty of devoting two years of our time and effort to The Lord. The spirit has never been so strong in my life, and I haven't felt it quite to this extent ever before. I can't believe how richly The Lord has blessed me this week. Here's a quick run down of what went on. :)

We picked up two new investigators that are SO ready for the gospel. Sasha and Armand are their names. We taught lessons to each of them individually and asked them about baptism. Both are on board with eventually becoming baptized after being taught a little more. This was such a reward and made me so happy because prior to us finding them, we had been tracting for about 3 hours with no success. They were literally a diamond in the rough. We happened to be tracting in the most ghetto part of town this night, and found these great people. I've never seen somebody yearn for the gospel more than they do. It's going to be so exciting to see their progression and hopefully become converted unto Christ.

I went on a 3 day exchange with Elder Adamson this week as well. He's my best friend out here in the mission field. We are SOOOO much alike in every way you could imagine. It really surprises me how much we are alike. He is from Utah as well... Played Lacrosse at Timpanogas High School. We sit and talk about life, family, girlfriends, sports, missionary work, and everything in between. He's the coolest kid ever. I love him to death. Fortunately for me, he is also staying in the Fairfield area, so we are gonna be in the same district for another 2 months.  We laugh so hard together and it makes me feel like I'm at home with my friends. We'd be a great companionship.

The news came in Saturday afternoon... I will be staying another transfer in Fairfield, California. I am so glad The Lord kept me here, and trusts me enough to further his work in this area. There are a great amount of people in our ward that I will certainly miss upon leaving. I have grown so close to our investigators as well as their families. Elder Achal is also staying in Fairfield, so he will be my follow-up trainer. We get along pretty well and are excited for what's in store for us in the near future. He's super into lifting and nutrition, so we've kept each other in GREAT shape. We workout together every night and are on the path to getting HUUUGEEEE.

Not only have we been rewarded with investigators and lessons this week, but some members in our ward bought us Penguin Ties, Arvo Watches, Scriptures, Gift Cards, and bread. Yes, you read that right. Bread. You give bread to those you love.  Members here will do anything for missionaries. We love it.

Anyways... I'm loving it out here.  Really, it has been so much fun. I pray that the time continues to fly by, and the work continues to be strenuous. We are out here to work, grow, and become men. I am certainly seeing the results too. I feel like I've already come a long way from where I was upon entering the MTC. I pray The Lord continues to provide me with experiences to grow and become the person I'm intended to be. The Lord blesses those whom are obedient to his commandments and heed to the council of the Prophets and Apostles. I know this for certainty and I invite you to try it for yourselves. Look for opportunities to “tune up” those loose screws in your lives, and submit your will to The Lord. The outpouring of blessings will far exceed any personal growth you can do on your own. I promise and testify to the truthfulness of it. I've seen it in my own life. I've experienced it first hand out here in the field. (Isaiah 5:25) “... For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” The Lord's hand is constantly stretched out to us. He's there for our benefit, not our downfall. It's dependent upon us whether or not we are willing to take it.
I love and miss you all S'MUCH. God be with you until we meet again. 22 more months. That's all we've got. See you soon.

-Elder Schaefer