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