Tuesday, December 13, 2016

WEEK 75 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward 

Family and Friends, 

As this chapter in my life is coming to a close and another one is soon to open, I am feeling so blessed for all that has gone on here in the McKinleyville Ward. These two most recent transfers have undoubtedly been some of the best times on my mission. The Lord has blessed us so richly and has manifested himself in innumerable amounts of ways. We've seen miracles. I've learned a tremendous amount. I feel that I've grown in a wide variety of ways. My testimony of the Gospel is a lot stronger. Although this week wasn't easy for me - I feel a substantial amount of comfort in knowing that one day my companion and I will be back together. 

Overall, the hardest part of this week was losing one of my best friends. Saying goodbye to a dear friend and brother is not always the easiest thing in the world. We've been through a lot over the past 17 months. Ups and downs, twists and turns. Needless to say - I wouldn't be where I am today without Elder Adamson. There has not been a more influential missionary in my life than him. I will never forget all that we've done and the privilege is was to have gotten to serve alongside him. I'm sad to see him go, but looking forward to the day I get to see him again. We had a good run. It's not over from here, though. #RideOrDie

For now, there's still a lot of work to be done in Eureka. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God has prepared more people to hear and be taught the Gospel. I'm looking forward to all that The Lord has in store for my companion and I. For the opportunity I have to bring others this humble message, I'll never be more grateful. 

Until next week. 

I'll see you soon. Be safe. GodSpeed.

-Elder Austen Schaefer

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

WEEK 74 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward 
Family and Friends, 

I stand all amazed. As much as this is a common theme for each of my emails, I mean it whole heartedly when I say it. This week was definitely up there with some of the better weeks I've had on my mission. The Lord has blessed our area so tremendously. We weren't around for a couple days, but things unfolded wonderfully. 

At the beginning of the week, Elder Adamson and I put a great amount of emphasis on working as hard as we could due to our week being shortened by the Mission Leadership Conference we had in Santa Rosa on Thursday & Friday. We scheduled as many appointments and set up as many lessons as those in our teaching pool would permit. We had a couple really great lessons with some of our Less Active Members, but those of our investigators weren't able to find the time to meet. That was a bit of a bummer. 

The week started to pick up quite a bit as Elder Adamson and I made our way to Santa Rosa on Thursday Night. The drive down was absolutely spectacular, but the meeting we had was phenomenal. We counseled together as mission leaders regarding certain topics and areas of improvement that this mission could potentially see. I was so touched by the spirit as we talked about a ton of different subjects pertaining to missionary work. It really made me appreciate my mission a whole lot more and all the work that is put into it. The greatest part of all was seeing the large increase of numbers throughout our mission. The missionaries here in the California, Santa Rosa mission really are working hard. The Lords work is progressing drastically and the numbers are there to prove it. 

Fortunately, on Wednesday (before we left for MLC) we were able to set up an appointment with President Wright to Skype us for a baptismal interview with Tessa. There were some slight complications we had to make our way around, but with the help of President Wright - she was given the 'go ahead' to be baptized a member of the church. We couldn't have been more excited! We had a lot to prepare for, but the baptism turned out SO wonderfully. The entire Humboldt Branch was there in support of Tessa and it certainly brought a wonderful spirit to the baptismal service. One of my most favorite parts of it all was seeing my great companion baptizing her. That brought me so much joy! 

As though it wouldn't have seemed to be enough in just having Tessa baptized this past weekend - we set ANOTHER three baptismal dates with our investigators for this coming Sunday. Christiana, Tala, & Zanai will also be entering the waters of baptism on December 10th, 2016. We've still got a couple lessons to do with each of them, but we plan on getting them done within the next few days. The 'fruits of our labors' really are manifesting themselves in many ways. We will be praying that all goes well for next Sunday

Another highlight of the week was the amazing Ward Christmas Party we had here in the McKinleyville Ward. As my companion and I weren't in our area for a couple days to spread the word about it, the members in our Ward really stepped up to the plate. There were a combined 7 Less Actives and 3 Investigators at our party. What an amazing thing to have seen! We were absolutely delighted as to the work that had been put in while we were gone. The cherry on top of it all was that EACH person that attended the Ward Christmas Party enjoyed themselves so much that they showed up for church the next morning. It was one of the most amazing things in the world. 

Looking back on all that happened - I can't help but grin from ear to ear. I am so thankful for all that The Lord blessed us with over the last week and over the last two transfers. As we're going into the last week of the transfer and the last week of my companions mission, we still have a lot of work to do. There a lot of loose ends we've got to tie up. We're going to finish this out strong. 

I'll forever be thankful for the time I've had to serve with Elder Adamson. I've learned a lot. I've grown a lot. These have undoubtedly been some of the greatest times I've had on my mission. I look forward to twenty years down the road when we're sitting in each other's basements watching football and talking about the time we served together. What a glorious day that will be. Until then - here's to another week full of memories and hard work. 

I'll see you all soon enough. Be safe. GodSpeed.

-Elder Schaefer

WEEK 73 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward 

Family and Friends, 

We took a couple blows this week. Big ones. I never thought I'd be saying this, but amongst the wonderful Thanksgiving week we had - things spiraled right down hill in a matter of a couple days. The uppercuts and right hooks we were hit with didn't necessarily send us to the ground for a K.O. punch, but it definitely did bring me to my knees. A lot. Despite all of it, certainly, 'as The Lord liveth' - He delivered us in our greatest times of trial and concern. 

With the majority of people in McKinleyville heading out of town for the Holiday weekend, it really was 'slim pickins' around here. We had an awfully hard time meeting with people and keeping appointments that were set. It basically turned into a drop-by visit extravaganza. We attempted to stop by a lot of our investigators and less active members homes. Some opened their doors - others left us standing on the porch in the pouring rain. But hey! That's what a mission is all about, right? Regardless of the extensive attempts we made and the seemingly endless amounts of empty doors we knocked, I still remained so entirely happy. The miracles and appointments we did have surely made up for it all. 

I think the greatest and hardest lesson I learned this week was the fundamental principle we all learn at one time or another. As I look back on it - it seems so easy. It seems so obvious. It shouldn't have even been a problem?... Yet, when surrounded by tribulation, often times our overall perspective becomes so limited. We often times let our trust in The Lord become lessened. I really learned that trusting in The Lord with unwavering hope and faith strengthened my testimony a great deal over the last couple days. 

Tessa (our investigator) took a trip down to Southern California to visit her extended family for the Thanksgiving weekend. In her doing so, we coordinated and agreed to keep daily contact in preparations for her baptism this past Sunday. The first day worked out very smoothly and as planned but as time slowly passed, our phone calls started being denied. Our text messages were left unreplied. Our voicemails obviously weren't doing much either. After trying to find any way or sorts of communication to get in contact with Tessa, our efforts were greatly unprofitable. No answers. No returned calls. No Facebook messages replied to. Nothing. It seemed as if this 'golden investigator' we had was simply slipping through our fingertips and there was nothing we could do about it. We had also been given some information from one of Tessa's relatives that she could no longer be baptized. We were so utterly discouraged. At this point in time, my companion and I knew we had to turn the situation over to The Lord and trust in His plan. Needless to say, we prayed a lot. 

This weekend, Elder Adamson and I decided to take a drive to Tessa's apartment building and by 'the grace of The Lord' - hope that she would be there. As we pulled in the parking lot, we quickly found and identified her car. We looked at one another and smiled as the butterflies immensely multiplied within our stomachs. We were extremely nervous due to the lack of contact and we were anxious to the fact that Tessa might not have the desire to be baptized anymore. As we united together in prayer one last time and got out of the car to knock on the door - everything changed. Tessa's face completely illuminated when she first saw us, as almost as if it was a sigh of relief. She began to explain that some personal complications had come about during her trip to Los Angeles and some heavy conversations she had with her family, but nonetheless she expected to be baptized this coming Sunday on Dec. the 4th. I couldn't even believe my eyes and ears. 

Something that had seemed almost hopeless and almost lost was completely renewed as we put our trust in The Lord. We prayed fervently and trusted in what our Heavenly Father had planned. Some serious question, concern and complication found room in our work but The Lord changed the whole situation around. I am so thankful for what Heavenly Father had taught me throughout this past week. I need to trust more. I need to have greater Faith in the one whom has control and dominion over all. 

My mission is the greatest mission in the world. Here's to a baptism this next week, huh? I'll keep you all posted. 

Until next week. 

-Elder Schaefer

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

WEEK 72 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward 

Family and Friends, 

Wowzers. That sure was a short one. It came and went so ridiculously quick that these past seven days seem to be a jumbled blur. With that being said - I don't even think there would be a word in the English dictionary that could correctly pinpoint all that happened. Weirdly enough, there isn't a single event or thing that really stood out to me this week. Nothing grand, spectacular, or even striking for that matter. It really was just a steady week of good ol' missionary work. 

Each day I spend out here in Northern California, I continue to grow in love and true appreciation for the privilege of serving a two year mission. There certainly are good days and bad days and we have our ups and our downs - just as any missionary would. But nonetheless, there isn't a thing that I love more than wearing The Lords name on my chest each day. I find myself holding my name tag more and more each day. I touch it a lot more when speaking to people and I wear it proudly. Most of all, I am grateful for all the experiences I've had with this little black name tag. 

I've been a few places. I've seen some things. I've witnessed miracles. I've witnessed sorrow. I've watched people change the course of their lives. As a result of all of this, I too myself have struggled. I too have changed. I've come to know Jesus Christ. I've seen an immense amount of tender mercies come from He himself. I have an undeniable testimony of the realism behind missionary work. There is power in this calling. There is truth. It is real. 

I will be the first to tell you - it isn't always the easiest thing waking up in the morning with tired feet, worn down bodies and wearied minds. I don't always necessarily wake up with a gleaming smile on my face. I don't always feel so eagerly inclined to get out and put my feet to the pavement. Often times, I'm quite worn out and I try to justify the work I've done thus far that it would be good enough for the Savior. As these thoughts occasionally or periodically run through my mind, the words of Henry B. Eyring always motivate me to press on. 

"...whenever I am tempted to feel that I have finished some hard task in His service and deserve a rest, The Savior’s example gives me courage to press on. His labors in mortality were finished, but He entered the spirit world determined to continue His glorious work to save souls." [April 2010, Act In All Diligence, General Conference]

Saving souls is what we're all about. This is The Lord's work. This is His church. I could feel no more grateful for the opportunity I have to represent Him as a full time missionary and witness the tender mercies He provides us. I am a witness of His reality. I have not seen Him with my eyes, but I have seen Him with my heart. I will forever hold my name tag as close to my heart as I can for the allotted time I have left. 

Here's to another great week of doing what I love most. I'll see you all soon enough. 

-Elder Schaefer
WEEK 71 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward 

Family and Friends, 

You won't even believe what I'm about to tell you. Truthfully, some of the things that happened this week were almost too good to be true. I look back at all that happened and I can't help but to be astonished and even a bit dumbfounded as to the amount of miracles this area has seen over this past week. I would be making an understatement in saying that The Lord caused a tsunami wave of blessings to crash right before our very eyes. 

I have not much to say regarding the subject of fasting, other than it's an undeniably fundamental principle of truth and it brought great spiritual strength to my overall testimony of the gospel. At the beginning of the week, I had been feeling an overwhelming sense of prompting, to fast for a couple of the investigators in our teaching pool that have recently been plateauing in terms of progression. I started my fast and called upon The Lord to help us in opening the hearts of these people to be more receptive to the gospel. 

The majority of the week went by with not much of an answer. Finally, after feeling all sorts of disheartened, but still holding onto whatever pieces of hope that dwelt in my heart - our investigator Frank found some time to meet with us on Friday night. Upon entering the home that night, it was quite evident that he had just had a torturous day at work and didn't seem to be in the mood for much of a discussion. To our surprise, this whole situation changed very quickly. We had one heck of a lesson that (at one point in the lesson) had Frank on his knees praying to God and asking if our message be true. As he did so, he explained that an overpowering sense of warmth and 'tingling' filled his body. Frank had received a witness from the Holy Ghost that what we were teaching him was the truth. He received a witness that God wanted him to know that this church, was the true church here upon the earth. Frank felt so strongly this night and was so overcome by the feelings of the spirit, he pleaded with us to come teach him (in the coming days) about the Word of Wisdom so he could drop his smoking habits. We never saw this coming and I fully believe God played an essential role in our lesson that night. 

To make matters even better, we had a substantially 'life changing' experience with Tessa on Sunday afternoon. After some battling with the adversary, her school schedule, work schedule, and sports schedule - Tessa was finally able to make it to church this Sunday. (Now - we hadn't met with, seen, or even talked to Tessa for the past two weeks. We had thought that everything we had with her was lost.) As we began jumping for joy when we saw her arrive at church, the next thing that happened completely changed the game on everything. In a conversation she had with Elder Adamson, she explained that she had been investigating the church far beyond our weekly lessons we had with her. She told us the prompting she had received to study more and find more out about the church. In doing so, she knew she had to be baptized. Tessa didn't even ask - she TOLD US she was going to being baptized on November 27th. My jaw dropped in amazement as all of this unfolded. Tessa is getting baptized. Who would've ever thought? 

After pinching myself a couple times to awake myself from the 'dream' I felt I was in - another blessing was opened to us as we visited one of our investigators Christiana. Christiana has been investigating the church and has met with missionaries for years, now. The majority of the missionaries she met with - had given up on her. They didn't feel she was ready to be baptized and weren't willing to work through some of her troubles with her. Elder Adamson and I have made it a point to visit Christiana regularly and teach her the same discussions until she was ready. As we walked into her home late Sunday Night, she expressed her deepest desire and wishes to be baptized as a member of the church. After hearing this, again, I looked at my companion with astonishment and my very soul swelled with emotion. God had opened her and prepared her to become baptized. We set a baptismal date with her for December 3rd. Who would've ever thought?

The fasting and sacrifices we've recently made have really, really worked. It truly made a difference. God answered our prayers. God changed the hearts of these people. He worked a mighty miracle upon them. There is no other explanation. For The Lords hand and efforts in all we did this week - I'm eternally grateful. I know He was with us every step of the way. 

I feel the need and privilege to express the raw emotions that reside within me. I wish I only could tell you and find the words to describe how much I thoroughly enjoy being out here on my mission. Being engaged in The Lords work is single handedly the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. There isn't a thing in this world that I feel so strongly about. The gospel is true. I stand as a living witness. 

May The Lords blessings be upon each of you this week. I love you all dearly. 

-Elder Schaefer

WEEK 70 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward 
Family and Friends,

As last Monday happened to be Halloween and the following morning was Transfer Day - there wasn't a minute of time that permitted me to write a weekly email and send it out to you all. Elder Adamson and I had quite a bit of traveling information we had to work out for the missionaries in our Zone, but also had to make the long trek down to Santa Rosa ourselves on Monday night. All in all, it worked out extremely well, I just apologize I didn't get to update you on all that has been going on recently. 

There hasn't really been the 'normal amount' of overwhelming work these past couple weeks and it's most definitely kept us on our toes. We've really had to dig deep with ideas of ways to alter our missionary efforts. In expectations that we would yield some sorts of successes with our investigators, we had to turn to something greater than ourselves. I ended up praying a lot for inspiration from on high as to the places God would have us be and the things He would have us be doing. As per normality and the very nature of God, He never left us wondering, questioning, or lost. 

Late Thursday night, we found ourselves in a bind with an awkward amount of time between two of our lessons. Without due thought or much consideration - we jumped at the opportunity to see a family in the area book that hadn't been seen for quite some time. We made haste over to their home in hopes to see them for a quick minute and potentially schedule a return appointment. Oh boy were we wrong when we set our sights upon that. This family invited us in without hesitation and explained to us that they hadn't been seen by missionaries in close to three years. Unfortunately they'd recently gone through some tremendous amounts of heartache and difficulty. As a family, they had decided to make it a point to pray each night for some relief and help from God. The next day, two young guys in white shirts and ties showed up knocking on their door. One of the most spiritual lessons I've had on my mission took place in the Timm families home that night. 

Our most promising investigators--Tessa and Frank--have been overloaded these last couple weeks with work and extracurricular activities. We haven't even had the smallest bit of time to meet with them and catch up. Satan must be workin' pretty hard and doing whatever he can to get them away from us because it almost seems there is always a road block or obstacle to climb over. We prayed and fasted yesterday for them specifically and look forward to what Heavenly Father prepares for us this next week.

One of our 'sort of investigators' or 'sort of has a crush on my companion... investigators' has been meeting us for lunch weekly at local restaurants and we've been talking with her extensively regarding her divine role as a daughter of God. The entirety of her family are members of the church, but she has such a hard time with the level of commitment it takes to becoming a member of the church. As much as our lunch appointments have seemed to be going nowhere - she continues to bring friends along with her. It's been so cool to have Gospel conversations with these 17 year old girls regarding God and their beliefs. Elder Adamson and I have been able to answer a lot of their questions and teach them about the Gospel. I'm so thankful for these small and simple means provided for us to teach and for others to feel the spirit. It may not be something dramatically large or a great manifestation of conversion through these girls, but it certainly provides for the plain truths of the gospel to be planted into their hearts. #ElderAdamsonFoundHisWife 

One of the greatest lessons I learned this week and probably the thing I appreciated most, was the deeper capacity and depth I've been enabled with to love and appreciate others more fully. I feel that as of late, Heavenly Father has opened my heart to a lot of people. I feel a genuine care for the people I am surrounded with. I feel that a lot of my personal concerns are no longer in the picture, but rather the gain and benefit of those whom we serve. I feel so gladdened with such a privilege of helping and strengthening others. 

My mission is the best mission. There's nothing out there like it. 

"Do some good work this week". I love you guys. See you soon. 

-Elder Schaefer

WEEK 68 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward  

Family and Friends, 

Because this was unquestionably one of the happiest weeks of my mission, I only wish to express how deeply grateful I am for what has gone on. I couldn't be more content with where I am right now in my life and the privilege it is to wake up every morning as a missionary for The Lord. Never in a million years would I ever have guessed that my mission could be this wonderful. I fully have come to the understanding and have grasped how important this work is that I'm currently engaged in. This week provided for a lot of sweet and tender experiences in which I was able to testify of a living Savior and I don't think I've ever been so happy in my life. 

I have never felt so lucky to be talking to people and telling people about a literal, living Son of God and Redeemer. There is nothing that I have experienced thus far in my life that brings more power and an overwhelming feeling of strength - as much as bearing the witness I have of Jesus Christ. No workout program. No Football game. No song or album. Simply, there is nothing that could ever compare to it.

I declare my witness of Jesus Christ. I know He lives. There is not a thing, person, or idea that would change my belief in this regard. I love His message. I love His mission -that is currently my mission. Through my journeys, my sufferings, my sorrows, my afflictions, my ups, and my downs - I am nonetheless undoubtedly filled with incomprehensible joy. [Alma 28:8]

Take good care of the people around you. Be as He would be. GodSpeed.

-Elder Schaefer

WEEK 67 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward  

Family and Friends, 

After five straight days of walking in soaking wet dress shoes and seemingly endless amounts of rain - I'm starting to get used to this 'northern Californian type of living'. We didn't exactly have the most comfortable of circumstances, but it definitely turned out to be another blessed week up here in the promise land of McKinleyville, Eureka. I am so grateful for all the progress that our area made. The Lord certainly has watched over us a great deal and has manifested himself in a numerous amount of ways. 

As immensely successful as our week was and the bounteous blessings we saw as a result of continuing in pushing ourselves, the greatest blessing that I received was a Zone Conference we had here with our Mission President and his sweet wife on Tuesday. I don't even have words to do justice the amount of influence and impact that they've made upon the missionaries in this mission. Aside from the obvious statistical and spiritual change, growth, and development that this mission has made (as a whole) - I was personally beyond grateful for their inspiring words this past week. 

Sister Wright presented such a thought evoking and deeply profound section on a chapter in the New Testament that I wish to share with you today. The story of the 'woman at the well' [John 4:5-29] took the main theme of what she shared with us, but there were some stark correlations that she made with the often times very serious and detrimental effects hydration and dehydration has in our lives. It made me realize how greatly and how fully we rely on the amount of daily water we intake. We are so completely dependent and reliant upon this life sustaining object and to such a great depth that without it - over time, we are nothing. 

As we parallel this to the Savior and the words he spoke in this particular story, we see some pretty amazing things. 
14: "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." 

I like to think of the importance and distinct relevance that this plays into our lives. As water is a necessity for physical health and wellness - Jesus Christ is just as essential and needed for spiritual vitality and wellness. His power, glory, and exceedingly great amounts of love provide us with exquisite amounts of blessings and opportunities in this life. How cool is that?! With Jesus Christ and the spiritual strength and blessings He provides, we will athirst no more. We will need no more. We will be never in danger of spiritual dehydration. He promises us a "well of water sprinting up into everlasting life". What could be a better promise than that? 

For Jesus Christ and the essential 'living water' role He plays in my life - I'm extensively gladdened. I know He lives. I know His power is beyond our mortal comprehension. The definite participant He is in our lives is such a blessing and I confirm the divinity behind His words. He will provide us with spiritual hydration and constant spiritual health. This is His promise. For I have taken it to the test, and have drastically benefitted from all He provides. 

I love my Savior. I love my mission. I know there isn't a better place I could be. 

Until next week. 

-Elder Schaefer

WEEK 66 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward  
Family and Friends,

Struggles & miracles. Struggles & miracles. Struggles & miracles. I'll be honest, many times throughout this week I wanted to call it quits. The adversary laid down a heavy amount of burdens upon me to the extent that it almost seemed unbearable. As my emotional and mental state fluctuated a great deal, an enormous amount of success increased in our area. As a companionship, we pushed one another well past our comfort zones and worked. We pushed it so hard. I would be safe to say that I've never before been so tired and weak in my life. 

In the midst of all that weighed down on me this week, I tried to think about the person in which suffered most upon His mortal journey. I directed my thoughts towards the Savior and I tried to think about all He went through and the agonizing pains that were inflicted upon him. I held onto these feelings and thoughts in the back of my mind throughout the week and earnestly looked for all the blessings that did come regardless of the ever discouraging tactics of the adversary. Looking back on it all with the perspective I now have at the end of the week, I can't even begin to describe how many miracles outweighed the vicissitudes. Yet again, The Lords promises were fulfilled. [Romans 16:20]

Tessa, an investigator that fell into our hands by the mere grace of The Lord--in directing us in our finding efforts--has committed to a baptismal date for Sunday, October 30th. At the beginning of this transfer, I got down on my knees and specifically gave a prayer asking for The Lord to bless my companion and I with a baptism within the coming weeks. I pleaded that of all the doors we knock, all the people we contact, and all the homes we visit - that he would give us just one person to baptize. In return, I gave him my promise that we would work our hardest, continue in obedience, and do as He would have us. By any means we haven't been perfect, but we've tried our very hardest and now we have an investigator on track for baptism. I am so thoroughly excited and gladdened that Heavenly Father blessed us for our efforts. I know whole heartedly that He led us to Tessa and prepared her for us to knock on her door. The Lord truly works in mysterious ways. I am so thankful and excited for Tessa. 

Between the homes of our investigators and the appointments we've scheduled in the past week, Elder Adamson and I have made it a point to visit ALL Less Active members that live within the area. What a marvelous blessing this has been. The most powerful experience came as we knocked on Sister Crutchfields door. She hadn't been seen by missionaries in almost 3&1/2 years. As we sat and talked with her, we discussed her conversion story and her love for Jesus Christ. The spirit immediately filled the room as we changed pace from her conversion story and began discussing her inactivity. Needless to say, there wasn't a dry eye in the room. I felt the Saviors presence so strongly as I testified of His reality. I felt overwhelmed with a sort of peace and happiness that I've never felt before and these feelings were mutual to everyone in the room. Sister Crutchfield agreed to letting us come by again and "help her get her life back on course". I was so thankful for this spiritual experience as it strengthened my testimony as much as it may have hers. 

In the overall efforts of being out knocking doors and contacting those on the street, we picked up a total of five new investigators that want to be taught The Gospel. In many occasions while talking to these people, I felt that my words and comments weren't coming from me. It was nothing I said. It was nothing I ever could've thought of. It just came and Heavenly Father worked vicariously through me. I was so thankful for the opportunity that I was given to be a conduit of the spirit for The Lord. I'm more than excited to teach these new investigators, as well. 

My most favorite and the 'highlight event' of the week came on Sunday as I partook of the Sacrament and witnessed the strengthening power that it provides. I've never felt something like it before in my life. All the weight that I was carrying from the previous days of the week were lifted off. My tired body and slightly decreasing desires of going out to work were swept away. I felt so new and refreshed. Church is certainly an essential part to our weeks and the blessings that come from attendance are far worth anything else in this world. I know this to be true as it was unfolded in front of my eyes yesterday. 

At the end of the week, and again looking back on it all - The Lord provided. I grew a lot. I was stretched a lot. I was pained a lot, but the blessings that came far outweigh anything I went through. For being one of The Lords missionaries, I'm forever thankful. This is my joy. 

Until next week. I'll see you soon. GodSpeed.

-Elder Schaefer

WEEK 65 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward  

Family and Friends, 

My cup runneth over. What a truly inspiring and wonderful week we've had. I've certainly never felt so happy in my life, so I think that would be a great reflection of how wonderful things have been going here in Eureka. I am especially and immensely grateful for all the wonderful direction, counsel and feelings of love that I received in having watched General Conference this past weekend. Thinking about all that was said - there is a great amount of things that I have to be better at & improve in. As overwhelming as all of these thoughts seemed, I'm forever grateful for the words of the apostles and prophet to give me some guidance on ways that I can do so.

One of the greatest lessons I learned and one of my most favorite 'take-aways' in General Conference came in the Sunday afternoon session. Elder Bednar shared: 

"We come to know the Savior as we do our best to go where He wants us to go, as we strive to say what He wants us to say, and as we become what He wants us to become."

This had a deep and lasting effect on me and I've given it a great deal of thought since Elder Bednar shared this educated, very experienced, and well seasoned statement. I found it so extremely interesting. Intriguing - in every essence of the word. 

We can come to know the Savior as we do as He asks. It's simple. We can come to strengthen our relationship in Him, find peace and comfort from Him, and receive profound blessings throughout eternity - as we act as He would. There's not a single person, inanimate object, unfortunate event, or even a stumbling block that comes about our lives that prevents us from coming closer to Christ. There is absolutely nothing in this world that could change the outcome of our belief in the ever living Son of God, except for the steadfast desire that should reside within us. Personally & individually, we are the only thing that impedes and prohibits growth in relationship with the Savior. 

My invitation to you--and count on me to be putting this to practice in the coming week--is to look for some ways in your life that you might be stunting the growth and slowing the development of your companionship with the Savior. Maybe look within yourself at some things that might be denying a greater presence of The Lord in your life. I fully believe and trust that as we do so - He will generously bless us with heavenly help, spiritual gifts, and increased capacity in all aspects and walks of life. 

I love my mission. I love the opportunity that I have to come to know the Savior more fully over these two years. He is my rock. He is my salvation. 

Until next week. GodSpeed.

-Elder Schaefer

Thursday, September 29, 2016

WEEK 64 Eureka, McKinleyville Ward & Humboldt YSA Ward  

Family and Friends, 

What a week this was. My first impressions and feelings regarding this transfer are all but negative. Hearing stories and opinions from other missionaries, the area that I'm now in has often been called "the promised land". Not many people have ill or bad memories coming from this place due to the members, geographical surroundings, and amounts of people that earnestly are searching for the answers to life. After having only been here a short six days - I can certainly attest and confirm all of these things to be valid. Unfortunately through the time span of these last six days, we've spent a large portion of our time--16&1/2 hours to be exact--in a car driving to & from meetings in Santa Rosa. It presented a lot of opportunities for Elder Adamson and I to catch up and reminisce past memories from our previous area, but I'll leave our boring car conversation to be told another day. Here's the highlights of all that has gone down. 

Tuesday: The first night I got into town, we arrived at the apartment and I immediately started to get unpacked. This short and speedy process only took a bit of time and left a good couple hours for us to get out into the area and do some work. We made haste (as time required us to) over to a family's home that are currently recent converts to our Ward. Being the amazing members that they are, they had invited over one of their close friends to receive the missionary discussions and learn more about The Gospel. This happened to be the first time we had ever met Frank, and regardless of having just become acquainted, we delve right into the first discussion. A great portion of our discussion was about Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon. How great it was for my companion and I to have seen the spirit work on Frank in such a way that everything we explained had made perfect sense to him. Brother & Sister Lynch also played a great role in testifying and sharing their story of conversion. To be short and sweet - my first night in the area set some high expectations for this upcoming transfer. 

Wednesday: We woke up, had some wonderful personal studies and quickly began to discuss a Zone Vision for the missionaries here within the Eureka Zone. Elder Adamson and I got pretty creative to say the least. After studies were over, we left the house and went to pound the pavement. We walked and talked to a ton of people this morning in hopes to finding some new investigators and people to teach. Our efforts weren't as successful as we had hoped in contacting people, so we decided to visit a couple potential investigators within the area. As the Lord guided us to Annamarie's home, we found ourselves in a great conversation about The Gospel and invited her out to institute the following week, but also to meet with us within the coming days. Our morning and afternoon turned out to be so great! The latter part of our day was just as wonderful as we met with church leaders in our Ward and discussed some new potential families to find and teach. A lesson with Chester (a Less Active YSA member) followed our meetings and we taught him about keeping The Commandments. I came home tonight feeling so content with the amounts of work we got done! 

Thursday: As Tuesday morning wasn't available due to transfers, District Meeting took place today and we as missionaries were addressed on becoming better teachers and teaching with greater purpose. I greatly appreciated the messages that were shared this morning and I was touched by the spirit. Following District Meeting, we had lunch with all the Elders in our District and played a couple 'get to know you games'. This was so much fun! I'm grateful for the missionaries that I am privileged to serve around. They've all got so many cool things about themselves. Elder Adamson and I spent the entire rest of our day packing, and loading up the car for a mission leadership conference that was to be held the next morning. Being prepared and ready to go, we started again on the long haul back down to Santa Rosa. With a great amount of delay in our travels (due to traffic) we didn't get to the AP's house until 11:00 at night. Today was a long day, but it ended so well as we got to spend the night with Elder Achal and Elder Hatch in their apartment. 

Friday: With four Elders in our apartment and only one shower, we didn't get to exercise this morning because of lack of time to get ready for our Mission Conference that was to be held from 8:30AM-4:30PM. Boy oh boy. This was one of the longest meetings of my life, but thankfully we were greatly uplifted and blessed with the privilege of being taught by President Wright and Sister Wright. We counseled on a lot of topics regarding mission culture, mission performance, humility, being unified as companionships, etc. Again - it was a long meeting. A really long meeting. But I was able to take away some little nuggets from each section that was presented to us. As circumstance permitted and after our meeting, we again made the trek back to return to our proselyting area. Without question, this took the remainder of our night. A long drive, beautiful scenery, good conversations, and listening to a whole lot of BYU Vocal Point made the drive all worth it though. 

Saturday: Being given the opportunity to get out of our proselyting clothes for a couple hours and going to perform some service for a Less Active member in our Ward, provided as a great way for us to strengthen a relationship and potentially return to teach about church attendance in the coming weeks. We worked in the beautiful, sunny weather at trying to fix up the home of this member and provide some finishing touches as he is soon to be selling this home. How great it felt to be doing some dirty work and not having to be wearing slacks and a white shirt. We really did take as much advantage of that situation as we possibly could've! Returning from our service project at about mid-day, we took advantage of the weekend (people usually being home) and went finding. We knocked a lot of doors and found a lot of success in this! We found a new family to teach, and also found a couple people that we turned over to some other missionaries in our zone. Hopefully all works well with these new families! Elder Adamson and I were pretty pumped. We had dinner tonight at the local Subway and that put us in a good position to teach Frank another awesome lesson. We shared the message of The Plan of Salvation and it answered a ton of questions that Frank had. He was so inclined and so touched with our message that he committed to being at church the next day. #BestNightEver

Sunday: Single handedly the best day of the entire week. The area seventy that presides over our Eureka Stake was in attendance at both of our Sacrament Meetings today. He bore such a powerful testimony and witness of the Savior and it strengthened my testimony a great amount. I'm so thankful for inspired leaders of the church and their willingness to serve in the many capacities that they do. Being missionaries assigned in the McKinleyville Ward and also covering the Humboldt YSA Ward, we are required to attend both wards and all meetings. Again, another long day but so spiritual as we attended great meetings. I'm so thankful for Sunday's. Another highlight of our day was the weekly skype call with the AP's & Mission President and discussing our weekly Key Indicators. I was so happy to again see Elder Achal and Elder Hatch. 

I can't even begin to describe how thankful I am for this new area and the new opportunities that have been presented to Elder Adamson & I in the past six days we've been together. I love my companion so much and am so thankful for the opportunity to serve with him again. I am more optimistic about this transfer than I ever have been before. Here we go, baby. Here's to another week. 

Be safe. I'll see you soon. GodSpeed.

-Elder Schaefer