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