Sunday, July 17, 2016

WEEK 54 SAN RAFAEL  2nd Ward-

Family and Friends,

Looking back and thinking about all that have taken place over the
short amount of time since I last wrote you, I must say that this has
quite honestly been one of the best weeks of my mission. For multiple
reasons of course, but mostly because of the "fruits" that came due to
our intensive labors. As a missionary, it's so rewarding seeing the
results and outcomes from our work day in and day out. Laboring in San
Rafael isn't what I would expect to be referred to as "normal
missionary work", as this whole county seems to sort of have a mind of
its own. This here, is different. The work is different, the
conversion is different, and the process in which conversion comes is

There aren't a lot of humble hearts here in the Marin area. In fact,
it's almost taboo and frowned upon for someone to value a relationship
with a deity, more than their fancy cars, extravagant homes, or
prestigious careers. We had something happen this past week that was
quite profound. Some odd number of weeks ago, Elder Cawley and I found
an inactive family who haven't been to church in almost thirty years.
We've been paying frequent visits weekly and our meetings often times
have turned into a "bible bash" of sorts. They've found a new religion
that they're comfortable in and haven't wanted to really listen to
what we had to share. I can't say that they have necessarily been
wasted appointments, but this past week we experienced something like
never before. We shared the message of The Restoration with them and I
have never felt or seen a change in one persons attitude quite like
theirs was this night. The spirit of The Lord completely overcame them
and the power of The Holy Ghost manifested the truth of what we had to
share. It was truly magnificent. Brother & Sister Koch underwent the
real "change of heart" that is described throughout the scriptures.

These defining moments spent in their home brings me to a conclusion
and understanding that most people aren't converted by missionaries.
It wouldn't have been the "eloquent tongue" or the experiences that a
missionary has had in their life that would change the feelings of a
person - but rather something greater. And a whole lot better. The
Holy Ghost and spirit of God is and will always be the converter for
those who hear The Gospel. I love that thought. I love knowing that
Heavenly Father loves his children so much, and cares for us so very
much, that He would give us something to discern the reality and
divinity of things pertaining to salvation. It is real.

I'm always so thankful for opportunities like these to see Heavenly
Father working miracles upon people. It testifies to me and certainly
strengthens my testimony to understand that what I'm taking part in is
guided by The Lord. I'm thankful to have seen things like this and
many other circumstances that I've taken part in this past year. I
honestly can't believe how fast it has come and gone.

I never thought I'd be saying this - but I don't ever want this to
end. I hope this second year goes much slower than the first. I've
been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on the experiences that
I've had thus far and contemplating the ones that are potentially
awaiting me in the future. I can't find words or an accurate depiction
that could even do justice the feelings of my heart. I will forever
cherish, remember, love, find solace in, and hold dear the memories
I've made, the people I've met, and the blessings of The Lord that
have shown themselves in this great service. God knew exactly what he
was doing sending me here to the California, Santa Rosa Mission. This
will forever be home to me. This will be the place in which I will
recall the shedding of a lot of tears, feelings, and testimony. From
my companions, to the members in our wards, to the thousands of doors
I've knocked, to the people we meet on the street - they have made a
substantial impact on where I am today. With the fondness in my heart
and all the joy that has come from my mission, I am most grateful for
my conversion. Regardless of anything that has happened up until this
point, that is what I hold of the upmost importance. I have been
changed. I have seen God and Jesus Christ in my life. I have witnessed
their reality. Had I not dedicated my time and efforts to them, I
don't know where I'd be today. Here's to a good year. Well wishes and
hopes for a better one ahead.

I love my mission. I wouldn't rather be anywhere else. We'll talk more
next week.

-Elder Schaefer

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

 WEEK 53 SAN RAFAEL  2nd Ward-

Family and Friends,

With the July 4th Weekend upon us, I would be making myself out to be
something I'm not, in trying to act like a "tough guy" and tell you
that I'm not missing home too much. Holidays are hard. Missions are
hard. This week was hard. From tired feet, a tired mind, and a tired
heart - it's seemingly apparent to conclude we had an emotional week
full of, well - missionary work. At the beginning of my mission, it
was so foreign to me to come home each night and quite literally feel
like I wanted to throw myself on my bed and not wake up for the next
week and a half. It has become such a well-ordered standard on this
journey that I guess you could say it just feels--in some

The weather this week almost seemed a bit unbearable. The humidity,
denseness, and constant beating down of the sun left for some pretty
good tan lines and some pretty sweaty backs. It all felt too familiar
and reminded me of when I had the privilege of serving in Fairfield
and being in their neck of the woods, walking in 113 degree heat. No
matter the heat, the circumstances, or successfulness of our work, our
zone decided to hold a Blitz for the Sisters area. We walked, and
knocked--what seemed to be--a couple miles worth of streets in
Northern San Rafael. Graciously, The Lord led us to an apartment
complex to which we found a family with their door and windows wide
open trying to get some sort of ventilation due to the fact that they
didn't have any air conditioning. Elder Kimber and I had a pretty
lengthy conversation with them in Spanish and they invited us to come
back to teach them. Hopefully this turns into something good for the

Wednesday evening, we took the twenty five minute drive up to the
Espocito home for a "drop-by" appointment and as seemingly odd as it
was, they weren't there. No answer at the door, no cars outside the
house, nothing. Nada. Having a member in our Ward with us to come upon
an empty house after just having fought through the ridiculous amounts
of California traffic to attend this lesson was ridiculously
embarrassing. Contrary to how I normally would've responded to the
situation, I asked that the three of us might join together in a quick
prayer before we headed back towards home. Seconds after closing our
prayer, we turned our heads to the rumblin' and grumblin' sounds of an
old 1993 Chevy Caravan toiling down the road heading directly towards
us. An hour later, we found ourselves walking out of the Esposito home
high-fiving and grinning from ear to ear as we just substantially, by
a long shot, and easily had the most productive lesson we ever have
taught them. Prayer works.

Elder Cawley and I were asked to teach a segment in District Meeting
this past Tuesday regarding "Setting Goals" for the upcoming transfer.
Prayerfully, we outlined and presented some attainable goals for our
fellow missionaries in the district. We talked a lot about trying to
support and help eachother in all phases of missionary work. This was
a blessing to our companionship and district as now our conversations
have been turned from - "What're we doing this upcoming P-Day"? to
"How's your investigator Javier doing"? This was so cool to see in
such a short amount of time the missionaries genuinely caring for one
another's areas. Missionary Work is cool.

First Sunday of the month and Fast Sundays are always a bittersweet
type of day. For as much as I love eating, sacrificing a meal can be
hard. Nonetheless, testimony meeting was wonderful as our investigator
Tarun stood up in front of our whole congregation and bore such a
powerful testimony. He told about his conversion story and mentioned a
couple significant events in which led him to knowing that this was
the only true and living church on the earth. As he bore his testimony
I began to feel so grateful that The Lord has given us something so
marvelous. So grand. So rewarding. Tarun was filled with the spirit
the whole rest of the day and he kept telling us how awesome it felt
to have born testimony of the Saviour and His Gospel. A couple times
he even asked about when he could serve a mission. Conversion to The
Gospel is advantageous to all who seek righteousness and truth. I know

Amongst all the delightful events that transpired this week and the
random events that I just shared with you, there were many more tender
mercies Heavenly Father gave us. I wish I had the time to share all of
them with you, but there will be a special time in which we can talk
about all of these things within the not-so-distant future. Words
wouldn't do justice in explaining the amount of genuine love I have
for serving The Lord. I'm not perfect. In no way am I the most
qualified missionary in the world. But I do have a burning and
unquenchable desire to do better each day. To be better each day. And
more importantly - to seek Him more each day.

I'm grateful for another year. I can't believe how far things have
come and all that has happened. I'll forever hold these experiences
near to my heart. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to
me and I will always be honored to wear this name tag. This is my joy.
This is my love. This is my happy.

I'll see you soon. Enjoy your Fourth. GodSpeed.

WEEK 52 SAN RAFAEL  2nd Ward-

Family and Friends,

With the exciting news that came in on Saturday night, it looks to be
that The Lord wants Elder Cawley and I to be together for another
transfer in this San Rafael Area. When we received the transfer
information, we both were overly excited to be entrusted with this
area and to continue with the amazing things that are currently taking
place. It's been a while since I've updated you all on our
investigators, and the overall missionary work as a whole. We've truly
relied on The Lord a lot and he has manifested Himself in many more
ways than one. Here's a couple highlights of my week.

One of the biggest and happiest miracles of the week was the Espocito
Family actually showing up for church. They ended up coming for the
wrong hour of church, but it's okay. Sometimes we mix up 9:00 and
11:00, right? It happens to the best of us, I guess. :) We had gone
over to their home a couple times this week and had gotten into some
pretty heavy conversation regarding the church. For one of our
lessons, we brought Sister Stephens (Bishop Stephens Wife) and it was
utterly astonishing how influential members can be in lessons. This
family opened up to us and eventually shared their interests in
becoming baptized. I'm sure you can imagine the amounts of excitement
that was flowing through our veins. This family is being changed and
The Gospel is helping them in every aspect of their lives.

To our amazement, Tarun also committed to baptism this past week and
wants to be baptized the day after I hit my one year mark in the
mission. He is constantly and always reminding us of how "we're going
to go out and party after his baptism and in celebration for my one
year mark." In the most Mormon and appropriate type of way, of course.
We've tried to explain to him multiple times that we can go out and
party, but he always explains that whatever the mission president
doesn't know about - can't hurt him. It's quite hilarious. He's also
offered the keys to his Maserati to us a handful of times but
unfortunately we've had to turn those down as well. We just love him.
He's so great.

Working with the less actives of the Ward is always a treat. As of
late, we've been paying frequent visits to a sweet elderly lady named
Diane. Sometimes for quick spiritual messages, sometimes for little
ice cream dates, and other times for deep doctrinal conversation.
Either way, she's started praying again and has been entertaining the
thought of coming to church within the next couple weeks. Renewing
those long lost feelings of spirituality can have a great impact on
these baptized members of the church. I love seeing the look on
people's faces when it all finally comes together again for them. The
spirit of God truly does have an enlightening power.

Each Sunday, Elder Cawley and I get the chance to spend the majority
of our afternoon visiting people in their homes and bringing the
Sacrament to them. What a testimony fortifying experience this always
turns out to be. Wonderful and ever so strong is the faith of these
people whom we bring this sacred ordinance to and request to renew
their covenants weekly. It would be an understatement to say that I'm
just only appreciative of the experiences we share with these dear
people as we exercise our Priesthood. God has given us the privilege
of serving others for a short time on these missions, but holding the
Priesthood is forever a privilege of serving people for eternity.

For District Meeting on Tuesday, we had an "end of transfer testimony
meeting". It took some courage and encouragement for people to get up
and share their testimonies, but what a sweet spirit overcame me as I
shared my experiences and dear stories of this two year journey I
started only eleven months ago. I basically bawled my eyes out the
whole time while standing in front of everybody, but I just felt so
much love from the Savior and so much gratitude for everything that
has transpired thus far.

Elder Cawley and I have worked so much better as a companionship this
week than ever before. I don't feel like I've ever been cared for so
much in my life and I don't feel like I've ever cared more for a
companion of mine. Upon first entering this area, I had preconceived
ideas that I was just here to babysit another missionary. This past
transfer has turned out to be so much more than that and I've learned
more than I ever thought I would. I feel like I've grown such a
profound and great love for the people here in this area. Without my
dear companion, I don't believe I would've found this. He has taken me
by the hand, taught me, and showed me the correct ways of loving
people just as our Heavenly Father does. It has been a tremendous
blessing to try and develop a more loving personality. In every way
has it made me feel closer to The Savior and has made this work easier
as I've tried to epitomize His very characteristics.

My days are brighter. My days are happier. My life is better than it's
ever been - because I'm trying to be more like Him. I love The Lord
with all my heart and I know that this is His work. He is my simple

Until next week, my friends.

-Elder Schaefer

WEEK 51 SAN RAFAEL  2nd Ward-

Family and Friends,

Short letter this week due to the fact that I don't have much to say.
I don't have much to add regarding the work in our area that could
nearly surpass the importance of the lesson that I learned this week.
The feelings on my heart are what I wish to express and evoke to you
today. Often times, these emotions and impressions are so hard for me
to communicate to people, but I'm going to take a stab at it - because
I owe it to The Lord. I owe it all to The Lord. Everything that I am,
have grown to be, and have today is a direct result from the supreme
creator in which I have come to love and appreciate more than anything
I know.

I know that through the power of honest, purpose driven prayer and
through the literal Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be cleansed,
renewed and strengthened to degrees we've never before seen. I have a
testimony that He can help anyone who is willing and wanting to become
better. Often times it's difficult (when life gets to be hard), to put
our trust in what seems to be an almost intangible object. But I know
differently. I know that He lives. I witness His life and reality. Our
Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ love us beyond our mortal
comprehension. It is true. I have seen it first hand and experienced
it this week.

[2nd Corinthians 5:17]
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things
are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

I'd invite you to become new. I'd invite you to take part in what He
has to offer. I'd invite you to indulge in something bigger than
yourself. I promise it will be the greatest blessing you could ever
claim in this life - as it has been the greatest blessing in mine.

I love you all. I'm beyond thankful for The Lord. He is my light and my life.

-Elder Schaefer