Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sydney Mission Week 2

Hello Family!! :)

Wow, this week has FLOWN by!! It's been such an amazing week. As always, you can't have the ups without the downs, but the ups so far outweigh the downs, it's worth it every single day! The biggest up was standing in the Font with Hank (zhou zuhkai) and baptizing him. Even after only knowing me from one meeting, for some reason he wanted me to be the one to perform his baptism. It was a very special experience for both of us! I just attached some pictures of my companion and I, the views from our flat :), and the picture of us right before Hank's baptism. I am so lucky to live in this area. People always tell me the city is the best zone and I live in the best flat as well because it has the best view! And after being here for a couple weeks, I don't doubt that at all :) Of course all places are special, but It truly is humbling to come home at night and look over the entire city reaching out to the Harbor and just think of how many people live here and how small I am compared to the millions that live here. In answer to some of Michelle's questions:

How has your week been?  How is your studying going?  Are you starting to read from the Chinese Book of Mormon yet?  Any new favorite scriptures or insight?  How are things going with your investigator and her husband?  How is your area?  Are you getting to know things a bit more?  Any favorite experience this week

My week, as described earlier has been absolutely fantastic! :) Mamata and her husband are out on vacation for Christmas and I haven't been able to contact them again, however, I really hope when they come back they will want to come to some of the activities we have and become familiar with the Church because she has mentioned several times they are very lonely here in the City since they just moved here. My studying is absolutely sacred and awesome! I never have enough time to study all that I want to, and I see almost daily how my studies affect the things I teach or how I teach and find people. The Chinese Book of Mormon will be a long time in coming, if at all on the mission. President Howes has made mention there is no real need to learn Chinese characters while out here and especially not before I am very fluent in the language. I agree, I would much rather know how to speak the language than learn how to read it, and with the limited time I have, I need to continue to focus on learning and perfecting my speech. This has been really difficult actually. Even with having 2 native speakers, I am not able to use Cantonese a ton because we always teach in English in this area, find in English, and most often when we eat and associate with others, it is also in English. The only time for Cantonese is during language study and when I'm only talking with the few members who are from Hong Kong. 

However, I travelled with Elder Wan to a baptism yesterday of someone who he had taught previously before getting transferred here and it was an all-Cantonese branch. They were all very impressed with my ability to speak Cantonese and I was happy to find out that I could understand much of what they were saying. Of course there were a lot of words I didn't know, but I could get the general gist of what they were saying, so that made me really happy! It's just been difficult to adjust to not having 3 or so hours every day to study the language like I had in the MTC and to not use it as much because I need to be finding, teaching, and serving in the ward a lot. I have tons of new favorite scriptures and insights :) Today I really liked what is found in Acts 4:12. Because it goes along so well with 3 Nephi 31's message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe I'll bring my study journal next week and share some more thoughts and experiences. 

Our area is doing pretty well but we need to be better. We have a lot of people that dodge out on appointments and express interest at first but then fall away. I personally think it may be because we sometimes get too wrapped up in the signs and indicators rather than focusing on people. We often will treat people the same and say they have the same concerns as others, but I think a little more love and patient understanding would go a long way. Often I feel like our lessons are not as warm and friendly as they can be. We need to always be happy and warm and friendly, and even when people dont keep commitments at first we need to show forth love and concern. For instance, If someone is not wanting to come to church, which is a very important factor for them to progress, there is more than likely a bigger reason than "they were too tired." It's like an iceberg. People often mask off the true reasons for what they do by giving a different reason they didn't come. I think this is one thing we can work on in our zone is just being more happy and loving and concerned for people themselves rather than the small things. We need to not be so worried about the specifics that we lose out on the big picture. All of what we teach- Prayer, Scripture Study, Church attendance and so forth is to help people come closer to Christ. However, often we try to fix the small things such as waking people up by calling them for church, or sending them reminders to read and it seems as though we almost pressure them into things. I dont think this should be the case. People should gain the same desire we have for the Gospel. The gospel is something that is to be truly loved and once people gain a hold of how amazing of  a life it is, we wont have to keep reminding them or giving them assignments because they will progress more than we could begin to think possible. I saw this happen with Noy. She is from Taiwan and has really just "caught the fire." she now reads the book of mormon a lot and has lots of good questions and wants to learn. This is what I think we need to work on more as people and missionaries. Like I heard in the MTC- "the main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing." We cannot get caught up on the fact that someone has a difficulty with one commandment or another to realize that overcoming that one commandment isn't where the true source of the problem lies. If someone cannot overcome the desire to sleep rather than church it's because they don't realize how much church can help them. They don't feel it and see it. This is what we need to help them feel rather than just trying to fix the outward symptoms. It's like bandaging up a wound before it is cleaned. If we don't purge and help get rid of the larger and more dangerous problem (they lack the desire to come to Christ) then even if they are coming to church or If we "stop the bleeding" so to say, later with time, the problem will become much worse. I dont know if that's all truth or not, just my own personal opinion on how we should be a lot more loving to people in General. Christ never pressured anyone to do something against their will. He didn't try to persuade or coax through various ways. He taught the truth and allowed people the opportunity to see how much His life and teachings could bless theirs. 

Anyways, on a little lighter note, with the time remaining I'll talk a little bit about Sydney in general. This City is beautiful! I love every morning we can play touch rugby in the park and hear the birds and (monkeys on one occasion!) :) and just experience Sydney for the city that it is. The trains here are really slow actually, but one benefit of that is I can see the scenery around me more when I'm on them :) It's been interesting to learn of the different areas and districts. and it's been very cool to experience China-town in it's true measure :) There are SOOOO many different asian ethnicities here. There is a place called the dixon house which has about 12 different asian Restaurants that we like to go and eat at sometimes. It's very authentic! :) And by that I mean the Zone Leader- Elder AU really loves Pork Intestine soup. And so when he got it, He offered it to me and it wasn't too bad actually! Tasted like a hot dog haha :b not quite, but it really wasn't as bad as I was expecting. But there are tons of really good people there too. It's absolutely hilarious to see people's faces when I start speaking to them in Cantonese. I've had many people be really surprised and ask me why in the world I know Cantonese, so it sets up really well to talk about why I came out to be a missionary.

Love you all!  :)

Elder Shafer

Sunday, December 16, 2012

First Letter from Sydney

Hello Family!!! :)

Wow.... where do I begin?! The work here is SO intense! So for my area.... it's absolutely tiny haha :) I'm actually not in Corene's area, but we are in the same stake. I traveled to her stake to attend the First Presidency Christmas Devotional broadcast with one of my investigators, Noy. That is where she came up to me and we had a slightly awkward moment where I had no idea who she was because it has been so long since I've seen her! But then we were able to have a nice chat afterward. 

My area is only about a 15 minute walking radius. This whole experience has been WAY different than I was first expecting. The city here is SOOOO busy! Everyone is working or in school or both and is absolutely busy all the time. I literally, have to walk next to every single person I talk to because not a single person will ever stop if you say hello. You have to just start walking next to them and talking. It's somewhat humorous actually the kinds of reactions people will give, I've literally had people start to jog so as to get away from me rather than just kindly asking me to not talk to them haha! People are normally pretty nice and friendly, but very very few have time to say more than "good mate, gotta go!" in response to my question of "hello! how's you're day going?" of course I've gotten a number of less-kind remarks but that's okay. There was one person though who is absolutely amazing! Her name is Mamata. She is from Nepal. I was just about to go into the Teaching Center (because we live in the City, we have a floor underneath the chapel where we teach our investigators) but then felt that I should talk to her as she was rushing up the street. I received the thought that I should talk to her even though I needed to enter for my lesson, and after asking her a few questions and inviting her to the Christmas Party, she informed me that her and her husband have only recently moved to Sydney and have been looking to make more friends. Later, when I talked to her on the phone she made mention that she often feels "spiritually low" and that she really looks forward to meeting with us and attending our Monday night weekly activities. She is extremely busy finishing work before Christmas, but she seems to be very anxious to meet with us and said she could "feel positive vibes" when I talk with her. I was so excited to see this miracle!! It proved to me that there are people who are looking to gain more happiness in their lives and are curious to learn about Jesus Christ. 

My trainer, Elder Wan, is from Hong Kong. The other two flat-mates are Elder Au, and Elder Haeata. Elder Wan and Elder Au actually studied English in Oregon, and then Studied at BYU Hawaii together! Elder Haeata is from Japan (He is STOKED Anika is going there!!) Almost as excited as I am! But more to come on that later :b Anyways, so I live in the most Asian apartment in the Zone!  We eat asian food every single day and I love it haha! :) They are all very good cooks so it's been nice to experience some authentic Chinese food. Hopefully I will learn how to cook like them and can whip up a dish or two. 

For my language....... A little discouraging because in this zone there are very few Cantonese people. Outside of my companion and Elder Au, there are 2 members that speak cantonese, but most of our investigators either only speak Mandarin, or Korean, or Thai. And English is almost always the second language for everyone in the Branch. The senior couple serving here are from Moses Lake, Washington! So that's kind of cool :)  Cantonese, I use it to speak in the flat (for the vocab that I have) but I dont know how much teaching I'll use it for until I get transfered maybe to the Cantonese branch. Every morning for exercise we play "touch" It's basically touch rugby and it's a lot of fun! It was a little weird at first getting used to the feel of a rugby ball instead of a football, but im starting to get the hang of it. 

I'm surprised how many people know of the Missionaries here actually. Almost everyone that has been here for a year or two has heard of them and they get a little embarrassed when I ask what about it they've heard. But I guess if they are walking to the same area for work that is right past our zone they would have seen the Missionaries because there are 12 missionaries assigned to this one branch of about 100 Members here. That's pretty crazy when you think of the fact that most wards are lucky to have a set of missionaries to themselves! 

Anyways, I only have 6 minutes left, so I want to say just a bit about Anika's mission Call, please let her know How very excited I am she got her mission call!! I was going to write a message to forward on, but I don't feel the best about that, so I'd better stay clear of the line and just ask you to pass on some words in this same letter.  Anika will be the best missionary to hit the field this century, I'm sure of it. She's so very prepared to serve and it's so awesome her and Miles (her brother) can serve at the same time! Tell him congrats as well!! :) 

The work is so tough, but it is absolutely worth it. Loving people regardless of their past, and helping them become better people for the future is something that cannot be adequately described by saying "it's the best feeling ever!" 


Elder Shafer

Its a small world after all....

We don't have an email from Elder Shafer yet, but our cousin Corene and her family are living in Sydney and look who they ran into at a Stake meeting.....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kyle's New Mailing Address

Hi Everyone!

Now that Elder Shafer has left the MTC he has a new mailing address.  We will always update the sidebar with his most current mailing address, but just so everyone it is.

He had two mailing addresses.  One for letters, one for packages.

This is his mailing address for letters:

Elder Kyle Brandon Shafer
Australia Sydney Mission
PO Box 2723
Carlingford, New South Wales, 2118 

Thank you all for your love and support!

Kyle Leaves the MTC!

I just wanted to drop a couple more lines today since I have time to do so. The laundry is in the tumbler and I've got about 15 minutes before I need to get it and finish packing.  I am SO EXCITED to get on that plane! :) These past 12 weeks have been absolutely amazing here! As you can see from the pictures, We said goodbye to our teachers and the rest of our district last night (saturday for the teachers.) It was bittersweet because I feel like I'm leaving some of my best friends here since I spend at least 10 hours a day with my district and even more than that with my companion. But luckily, I will be seeing Elder White probably here in about 6 weeks. He's pretty nervous I think to have me leave because he doesn't feel really comfortable in his language yet, but he will get there! So I talked to my mate from Melbourne, AU yesterday and he was telling me about the "heaps of Huntsmans." Those are the spiders as big as a grown man's hand. He comforted me in letting me know they were everywhere :b I've actually come to grips with it though. I'll love Australia even though it has spiders almost as big as my face haha!  I'll give you my address for sending letters so you can put it on the blog in case anyone cares to send me some snail mail :b. I really hope sending mail isn't too spendy though! But I do want to hear from my close friends about their mission calls and their lives, so if you could get that up on the blog ASAP Michelle that'd be great, thanks!!! :) 

Last night we had the COOLEST recital. The BYU Men's choir came here and performed a Christmas recital. They are the world's largest men's choir, and all combined, weigh over 16 tons hahaha :b That's just some facts they gave us. Also, one of the people we taught for TRC is in the Men's choir and he gave a little 5 minute personal story of his life. He served in Hong Kong, but unfortunately, his Dad was pretty against the Church and his mom was fine with it, but didn't support him a ton. He talked about when he was a sophomore in High School, he met with the missionaries and gained a knowledge and testimony of Christ and wanted to be baptized but his Dad wouldn't let him. So he waited for over a year and then when his dad asked him what he wanted for Christmas the next year, he said : "Dad, the only gift I really want, is for you to let me be baptised." His Dad honored his request at that point and the rest is history! :) It's so great to hear of other people's conversion stories like that! Makes me so excited to bring others unto Christ so they can experience the same happiness and joy I experience from knowing what He did for me and being able to grow closer to Him.

We also had another really cool experience last night. In saying our goodbyes, we wanted to have a testimony meeting. There is always some time alloted after the Sunday night meetings to share with your district the things you learned and experienced that day, so we all decided to read "The Christmas Orange" story and share a christmas orange. Thanks for that package BTW Mom, I loved it!!! :) But anyways, after reading that story I was just sharing with them how grateful I was to have my family, my friends, my health, my life, and all the other things I have been so blessed to have. Not going to lie, I turned into a wreck talking about how what this little orphan boy wanted most was what I get to experience every single day of my life and how I feel so unworthy of all that I have been blessed with. Then for some reason, the idea came to my mind to talk about my beliefs regarding those who commit suicide. It was a completely random thought that I had no idea why it popped into my head, but I have learned that when the Spirit brings ideas to your mind, to always follow them. So I talked about how I dont believe a loving God and the Savior of the world, that either of them, would not be waiting with open arms of love to welcome those who take their life because of severe unhappiness and distress in this world. I just cant imagine from what I have come to know about Christ and My Father in Heaven, that they would punish those who take their own lives because of this depression and sadness. I didn't know why I had that thought, but later, when Sister Wright spoke up, she said "I didn't know I could have any more respect for you than I already did Elder Shafer, but I do now. I have had 3 really close friends who have commited suicide, and you have helped me receive comfort regarding them." Needless to say, I was really glad I followed that idea and talked about that subject even though it was really random. I want you all to know how much I have loved this experience here! Thank you all for your love, thoughts, and prayers in my behalf. I have seen the blessings that have come from your love and prayers toward me. I am so excited to be able to take this wonderful message of hope and peace to all the world. Sister Tai really touched my heart when she said goodbye and told us "I want to personally thank you for having the desire to learn MY language, and teach MY people. They need and deserve this gospel so much in their lives." She is such a kind person and has really helped me to love the Cantonese/ Chinese people! Can't wait to go out and serve them for 22 months!!!!!!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS SEASON! I dont know when I'll be able to write in AU, but I'll send ya'll a letter when I can!
Love you!
Elder Kyle Shafer

All of us at the Christmas light's on our last night together.

My two teachers, sister Farr (The white one :b) And Sister Tai (obviously, the native)

The pictures at the Map you requested! :)

Just saying our last goodbyes last night the Good ol' Tuhngbuhn (companion) way :)

This is how I wake up my companion if he doesn't get up on time ;) His mom sent him these blow-up hammers in order to keep the zone in control :b

Last time for Elder White and I at the temple here together. Sorry the pic is kinda weird, had to take it one handed because we couldn't find anyone at 7 Am in the freezing cold while it was snowing to stand outside and take a pic ;b

Monday, December 3, 2012

Week 10

Hello Family! :)
This week has been another REALLY great week here! I'm definitely ready to go!  I think (I will know for sure on Tuesday), but I think I hit my weight goal! I've lost over 15 lbs here and I feel GREAT! :) That may just change with Michelle sending me the delicious treats she did this week though! :b Thanks for that!! I love the treats but even more than that, I loved the family pictures!!!! So I got my flight Itinerary.... :) I still wont know if I have my visa yet until maybe Thursday or Friday, but they told me, no news is good news! So I'll be hoping and praying that it comes through because there are a lot of Elders that have to wait for visa's and that would be rough. So here's how my flight will go...... see if you can do the math and figure out how long it will be because I don't know the exact time difference between here and AU. But I leave SLC airport at 5:22 pm. Stop in LA at 6:30 then get on the Flight to Sydney at 10:30! That will give me a lot of time to talk to people there and maybe hand out a pass along card or a copy of the Book of Mormon! :) Then I will arrive in Sydney at 8:40 on December the 12'th. So I think I lose a day because of time change, and I think I'll be traveling for well over 24 hours, but maybe if one of y'all could find out exactly how long I'll be in transit that'd be great because I wont know until I get my flight ticket next Monday. But I'm sure it will be a LOOOOOONG flight to say the least! I'm glad I get to go to the airport in the afternoon though rather than 4 AM like the Hong Kong Sisters. They get picked up here at the MTC at 4 AM. that would be REALLY rough haha! Especially because their flight isn't all that short either, it's pretty comparable. I will be calling home from the SLC airport I think. So I will call y'all at........ I'm not sure exactly when..... Because I get picked up by the Shuttle at 1:30 here... then about 30 mins to the Airport. maybe 45-1 hr for check-in and Security? so maybe call you about 3 pm my time (MDT) or so? That sounds about right to me. So if you could try to be at home about that time that would be good, and then If something comes up, at least you'll be at home and I can call later before I jump on the plane. If worst comes to worse, I will call in LA about 6:30 pm your time. But I will really try to call in SLC so I can chat with you ASAP :) Have any family that want to be there please be, but any friends they encourage me to not talk to, so its best if it were only family there :)  Today I'll need to be doing some packing and cleaning up my shoes and stuff, so I apologize if I don't send any written letters to family until maybe in AU because next Monday will be even more packed with me trying to pack the last couple things and make sure all is in order. I think this was all the "business" portion of my letter :) The Christmas Devotional was awesome!! I definitely was thinking about Mom and Dad being up at Laurie Kinsey's! It was really good though! Everything here is! :) My companion I can tell is starting to stress out about me leaving. For some reason he thinks he may not be able to function without me helping him with Cantonese and such, but he will be just fine! :) The language is really coming along well I feel like for our whole group. All 6 of us are really progressing because we are really dedicated and I attribute much of it to the prayers I know you are all offering in my behalf. I am really excited to have my first conversation with a true native Chinese person! :) I'll most likely choke up and forget everything I've learned, but I hope not! Also, try to think of some random sentences you may want me to teach you or you can try to test my language ability :) also, Mark, Mom, Dad, and Chris: I would love some ideas of casual conversation starters for on the airplane, in the airport or just mingling with others. Preferably what would you say if you only had 1 minute to get to know someone and invite them to meet with you? I'm not afraid to talk to people, I just want to make sure that I am saying the right thing and allowing them to make an educated decision whether or not they would like to hear more you know? So any help here would be greatly appreciated! I've gotta jump off, please make sure you don't send me anything past Thursday because I wont get any dear elder's past receiving the ones from Thursday and the Mail, I wont get anything past Saturday. So just no more letters or Dear Elder's after Thursday okay? :) Otherwise, you'll just be paying for extra postage hehe.
Love you all!!!

Elder Shafer

Elder Phelps and I.  He's going to the Philippines and is SUPER good at basketball.  He taught me a lot :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week 9

Hey Hey Hey! :)

It's such a great day! :) Today is my 2 month anniversary here! Feels like it's barely been 2 weeks though, time is flying so fast! So I will get my travel info this Friday hopefully, but if not this Friday, next week for sure. That way I can let you know what time I'll be able to call home and all that jazz! :) I'll probably just call you in the SLC airport since almost everyone here is Mormon anyway and I can save my time in the LA airport (almost all missionaries going to AU fly out from there) for proselyting and giving out the stack of pass along cards and copies of the Book of Mormon I bought that I won't use much in AU because I'll be giving out Chinese ones! :) So yeah, sorry if you only get one phone call, but you will probably be bored after about 10 minutes of talking with me anyways because there's not a whole lot that is new in my life. 

Except, this Thanksgiving was the best I've ever had in my life. Elder Holland came. He wanted us to tell our parents that we are officially in his family now, so he's sorry to tell all the parents they have 1 less child in their families, but he formally adopted all of us hahaha! :) Many of his grandchildren came and they performed some really good songs and piano solo's. He talked about how blessed we are to live in this dispensation because it is the only dispensation from the creation of the world that will not end in apostasy and how all the Prophets of old have looked to this Dispensation for solace since they knew that their dispensations would all end in apostasy until this one. I thought that was a very interesting insight! He also talked about just how blessed we are in general to have what we have in this day and age and for the way that we are currently making history with the missionary work we are doing and how many lives we are changing. 

I keep getting letters from my Mission President (just the weekly mission update/report) and it makes me want to leave right now! :) There are some other Elders leaving for AU today as well and I want to just jump on the plane with them! :) But it's okay, I am content with where I am at for now. I definitely don't have the jitters others do about staying here. It's an amazing experience and I'm so glad to have it, but I also and very excited and ready to get out and start serving and changing lives. Our lessons here have been really really good! In our TRC, we had someone new this week we hadn't seen before, and our teacher said that before he came in, he was frustrated with something and a little upset, but through our lesson, he felt the spirit, and received revelation on what he needed to resolve the situation he was in. Perfect since our lesson was on receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon! :) Also, my lessons with Kim have really settled down and I am able to teach her well now I feel. It was a little rough getting my bases set when I started teaching her alone because I had to go over some things that we had taught in the beginning that she didn't understand and had to figure out how the best way to teach alone is. But i worked out the kinks and now she is really progressing well! It still is quite weird to think of how unique my whole situation here is at the MTC. Pretty sure if people heard that I taught alone in a room with an investigator they would think I am the worst and most disobedient missionary in the world haha but I'm just doing what they've said I need to do, so it brings comfort to know that I'm obeying the rules! :) 

I've realized how important it is to teach to the investigators needs, AND their learning style. I hadn't thought about that much, but people have different learning styles, and once you can figure out how best to present the info to others, it really helps them to understand, and to think about what you are presenting, so that way they can feel the spirit. I dont know exactly how the Spirit works, but I do believe that when people understand enough to have more questions and to ponder what we are teaching, the Spirit speaks to them more. For example, I came up with a really good example of how we cannot clean our own sins from our lives by using a hankey (thanks Dad for making sure I had those! :)) that I rubbed a rolo all over so that it was very stained and dirty, then handing Kim a "tide-to-go" pen which is renowned for removing stains I asked her to clean the hankey so that it was white again. She wasn't able to get much of the stain out at all and that is when I talked about how this white hankey is like our soul. Throughout our lives, we will accrue "stains" by sin and in order to return and Live with God, we need to be pure and perfectly clean, Thus, we need to take this hankey to someone who has the ability to get the stains out. This is our Savior Jesus Christ. I was pretty excited about how she was much better able to understand the need for our Savior because she asked. "how can Christ help me today, as you have promised, when He lived 2000 years ago?" Anyways, I just wanted to share that little example of how object lessons, drawing pictures, relating to modern day life and teaching simply enough for a child to undertsand the lesson brings the spirit in a lot more and helps us to truly help the investigators to come unto Christ. 

This week has been absolutely amazing! I had the Best Thanksgiving of my life since I have never felt so rich, blessed, and filled with the spirit in an entire day. I also received a great package on Friday, and will get one from Michelle today I'm assuming so I'm really excited! :) Packages are pretty great, but they are going to be very expensive to send to AU im afraid, thus, when I leave, I decree that ya'll cant send me any more packages kay? Cool, glad that's settled! ;) For Christmas, I just want a picture or two and maybe 1 christmas Orange from Mom and Dad. I LOVE THOSE THINGS! :) Also, if you do send the Christmas Orange, please also send the Christmas Orange Story since I pretty much cry every time I read that story. It's true :b Mom, regarding the Music. I LOVE Mormon Tabernacle and any piano music you can find at Deseret Book that is good I would love, but really, dont feel like you need to :) I love you all SOOOOOO much. This gospel is all about Eternal Families and I have the best one every created by the Master's Hand. I love you all so much!
With great Love,
Elder Shafer

Me at the Service Project. We made about 2500 Education kits and 4500 Health Kits for the People of Ouelessebougou, in Mali, Africa! :) It was pretty cool stuff!

This is Elder Lynch and I, He and I grew up together and then His family moved to Walla Walla when I was...... 8? Not sure exactly, but He's a pretty awesome missionary!

My first bite of some amazing treats Anika sent me for Thanksgiving. THANKS!!!! :) They are delicious!

My little Thanksgiving turkey! :) We all made them as a class quickly to write some things we were thankful for.

They set up a little Nativity set, so I had to get a picture by it of course! :)

Just chillin out by the Christmas lights after dinner :)

I also got a nice packet of straws and some more Tim-Tams from Anika, so now I can use the straws when I need to "suck it up." And I can keep those Tim Tam Slams a-coming! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Week 8

Hello!!! :)
Another absolutely fantastic week here at the MTC. Can't believe it's only 3 weeks from today until I'll be leaving for AU! :) :) :) Time is absolutely flying by! This week we have very exciting news! For Thanksgiving they are doing a very special day and having a bunch of humanitarian projects and all that jazz going on, but also.... we are promised an Apostle will be here for Thursday morning devotional :) We've had Elder Bednar come before so this will be my second Apostle I'll see. We are planning to wait in the building and just study and talk about the things we are thankful for, so we can get seats as soon as we can so we can, hopefully in the second row.  As you know, I'm very quick in moving through crowds (safely, i promise! :)) and so I think we have pretty good chances of snagging the second row seats. I've gotten them before when members of the 70 have come. We had Elder Shane Bowen and Elder Echo Hawk of the 70 come this past month or so and I was really close for both of them. So I'm pretty excited! :) 

I will try to take a good photo of just me in my suit for the Stake board and I'll send that today. The map picture will definitely be on it's way as well. That's a tradition here as well to take a picture in front of that, so I will get around to it before I leave.  Also, thanks so much for the packages sent this week. Michelle and Dad mentioned they were shipped off so we will see which one get's here first! :) the race is on! :b Really, all the love and letters mean so much! I have no idea how long it will take for packages to get to AU and I know they will be much more expensive, so I don't want any sent at all. Same for my Christmas and my birthday in the future. I don't need anything that the Lord hasn't already given me. I was actually thinking about that yesterday. Why in the world is my life so fantastic?? It seems that I dont have any of the trials and troubles you hear of almost every day here. I have a perfect family, I have many friends and associates who love and support me, I have no worries about my financial future or health problems I can forsee as being problems in life, I have the opportuninty to BE A MISSIONARY!! :) That's a big one. but just the Gospel in general...... Why was I blessed with SOOOO much when it seems that so many others I hear of face tremendous trials of deaths in the family, abuse, severe depression, injuries, health problems and the list goes on and on..... I really can't explain why I am so blessed but I try to be grateful that I am and I try to be humble but I'm afraid I am in desperate need of more humility and some more refinement.  

I really love my time and experiences here. If I'm already having such a great time here I can't even fathom how it will be in Australia! I really hope my companion and I can serve together in the field because he is honestly just awesome! He's really humble (a great example to me) and is willing and ready to work every day. He's also a pretty funny elder as well so that's always nice also. His family life is very good and he mentions often how much he loves them. I think it's extremely hard for missionaries to leave home when they have younger siblings. I know that it would be way harder on me if I had younger siblings to leave so I greatly respect those that are willing to make that sacrifice. It was hard for Mark to leave because he's been my best bud from before this life and in it, but I didn't think about how much harder it must have been for you Markus :) Glad you manned up and served your mission because you're an amazing example to me!! 

Last night we watched this amazing 8 minute clip about the NY, NY south and North missions and all the actions they are doing with regard to hurricane Sandy. They showed it last night as part of the fireside and it was really touching to see how much of an effect the missionaries and the LDS members of that area are having. It's interesting and a blessing to know that the Lord always sends relief so quickly. I was really impressed as well about the reactions others had regarding to church. They interviewed many of the residents and although not a single one seemed like they knew much about who we were, they were touched by what we were doing and I think some major seeds were planted. Of course this isn't the only reason I'm sure of why we should perform service like this, but it reminds me of President Joseph Smith's quote about "service being pure religion." Or maybe that was Brigham Young..... oops! :) Perhaps you all can find that one out ;)  Love you all so much!! Thank you so much for your prayers and thoughts in my behalf. I'm so caught up in the work here that I don't even really think about the letters or expect anything, and that's why it's always a very pleasant surprise! :)


Elder Shafer

I love taking a picture of the temple each morning after I attend on Mondays, so you'll likely get some random scenery pictures :)

Like SO :)

And a goofy picture of my current District

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week 7

Hello Hello!!
This week has been an absolutely amazing week! I can't believe im starting week 8 here at the MTC!!! They do weeks in an interesting fashion since my first week technically started from day 1 in the MTC so it was only half a week, and week 12 will be the day that I leave, so I only have 4 more weeks here! Time has flown!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thinking about leaving to Sydney in less than a month gives me a mix of emotions. Part of me wants to jump on a plane right now so I can preach what I know to be true and see the change in others' lives, while another part of me thinks I need to stay and learn how to be a better missionary and learn the language better. I know that I am progressing well and the language continues to come at a steady rate. My teacher and I recently had an interview ( they do that about every week or so in order to make sure we are progressing well and counsel with us) and she mentioned that she has seen my learning keep on a steady climb which she felt was a very good thing because when she was in the MTC, her learning ebbed and flowed. So I guess that's good right?? :)  It's hard to see the amount that I am learning from day to day, but every once in a while I will get a glimpse of how much I have improved. For instance, last Saturday, we had TRC where volounteers come in. We taught 4 volounteers who spoke very good Cantonese since 1 is from Hong Kong and the other 3 served there, and I understood a LOT of what they said. I was very surprised! It was good to see the improvement and the blessings that pay off from hard work, but I know i still need to remain humble and all of the thanks and glory go to My Father in Heaven. 

Elder Whilte, my new companion is the BEST!! He's everything I've been praying for and more. This Elder has humility like nobody else I've ever met. The first night here, i was helping him review some things and teaching him a couple pointers to help out and he stopped me and said "Elder, I think I need to pray before I can learn more." So we knelt down and he offered the most pleading and begging prayer I've heard in my life. It was as if he were bowing at the Lord's throne and pleading for help and mercy. The spirit infused my sould and I knew that this elder was called to be here and that the Lord expects me to help him. I had the greatest desire to help him in any way that I can and I realized how special this Elder is to the Lord. It was a humbling experience for me as well as for him. 

I have a testimony that the Lord calls his missionaries when are where they are to be called. There is no coincidence here in missionary work. Our investigators are coming along well. Please pray for us and Fuhng Taai. She's had problems with her husband being supportive to her receiving the lessons, and she is ready for baptism, but she can't receive it without his approval, and she greatly fears if she talks to him about it, he will leave her and her daughter. From what she has said, he doesn't sound like a very good and supportive husband, but we have no idea how to proceed right now. When she mentioned this, I told her to not talk to him yet, but that we would fast for her and that when we meet next Tuesday, we will discuss what the Lord's will is. I still don't know what I am to say to her after having fasted and prayed greatly, but I trust in the Lord that he will inform us through the Spirit in the moment of our need. Michelle, I wanted to say thank you to you and Chris for your desire and efforts in helping the missionaries! Having members present is such a wonderful tool to use in the conversion process of investigators! I really want to do that when I get home. I hope I will always be missionary minded even after my mission. I LOVE THIS WORK!!

 I am having such an amazing and life changing experience out here on the Mission. Thank you so much for your constant thoughts and prayers. I have been praying that the Lord will bless me by blessing my family and friends back home but I keep seeing blessings being showered upon me. I pray and say something like "Father, I have more than enough, please, other's need my blessings more than I do, bless them instead of me," but I have a hard time believing He's honoring my request since I keep seeing blessing upon blessing poured out upon me. But I guess this is because you are all praying for me and He honors your prayers. I have developed a much closer relationship with my Father and encourage all to do so. Pray is an amazing tool and I feel so close to my Father when I address Him in prayer. I love the song "A child's prayer" where it states "pray, He is there, Speak, He is listening." because I know that is 100% true. He listens to our pleas and answers with more love and admiration I ever thought possible. I love you all and love my Savior Jesus Christ for granting me this opportunity to serve Him and become more like He is.
Elder Shafer

He was also able to send us a few pictures! (He is just so cute, but I am just a little biased!)

The first couple are with my Cantonese District and the Older District. Sister Larson is the small one that always does peace signs, Sister Palmer has the long dark hair, And sister Ainge is the other Cantonese Sister. Elder Staheli is my old companion ( he doesn't smile a whole lot, but is a pretty happy guy still! :) ) and then there's Brother Fogt and Sister Black, they are 2 of the teachers here.  We have a new teacher, Sister Farr, and guess what? She's Emma Smith in the new Joseph Smith movie playing at SLC temple square!! I think that's pretty cool! The other teacher isn't shown here, shes a native though. Anika has a picture with her in it when we met the Ambassador from Australia and Sri Lanka to the U.S. You can ask her to scan a copy of it and email it to you, we felt like royalty :) My new companion, Elder White is shown in a couple with me. and the other random people are English Elders who really like me (for some reason) and so they wanted some pictures with me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Week 6

Hello Fam and Friends!

Another fantastic week here.  This week was really cool! We had an absolutely amazing lesson with one of our investigators, Fong Tai. She is absolutely loving meeting with us and is really learning a lot and strengthening her testimony, but unfortunately her husband is really against the church, and so last Thursday we had an awesome lesson where she really opened up and talked about how she wants to keep going but informed us more about her husband. We were all crying and bearing our testimonies about the Atonement of Christ and how through patience, faith, and examples, we believed that her husband's heart and viewpoints towards the church could be softened and changed. It was an amazing experience! I love teaching our investigators here, it's so great! 

This week I've been a ping-pong ball between companionships. I feel like every other hour im getting handed off to a different companionship because Elder Kimzi (my companion who had to stay for pneumonia) actually got cleared and left on Friday morning. Sister Larson has continued to have more doctor appointments and different things she had to go to so I was with the English Elders a ton while her and Sister Palmer completed the business they needed to do. It was a little frustrating though because they are on a different schedule than I am and it has affected my studies a little bit. But that's okay, this week I will get my new companion so I wont have to keep jumping around with others and get my schedule thrown off all the time. 

I am so glad to hear that everyone back East is safe and sound!!! They have been in my prayers and thoughts. and many other's in the MTC as well. I saw sister Whittle on several occasions this week! It's so crazy how many different people you see here that you know! it's really weird to think that her mom was my seminary teacher, and now we are both serving missions at the same time! 

Yesterday, was fast sunday and we had mission conference. Talk about amazing! I love Sundays here. By far the best Sundays I've ever had and Fast and Testimony Sunday's here are even better. There are so many missionaries that have absolutely amazing testimonies and have had tons of miracles in their lives. It's very humbling and rewarding to hear about. My favorite part about Sundays though is the evening here because we have a fireside which is always super sweet! and then we get to watch past MTC addresses by General Authorities, or a movie about Jospeh Smith, or the SLC temple or something else. It's a great way to finish off the evening in my book. 

This week we started our role plays, and I role played Evan and it was really cool! I prayed to have the spirit help me to act and answer as he would, and I really felt like I was! I started to act differently, and ask questions that I believe He would ask and acted how I believed he would. The cool thing was that my teacher was watching and evaluating and she said comments and was able to pick out characteristics very specific because she felt like she could see him act this way. It was a really great experience and we were able to learn a lot! One thing that I learned from it is that the first lessson, or first contact with people needs to be 100% about them. Finding out about who they are, what they enjoy, what they expect to be able to learn from meeting with you, and how they think you can be of help to them. We talked about how one of the biggest goals in a first visit or contact is just getting a return appointment. Because even if you teach the entire first lesson, if they dont feel like you've answered their questions or have appeased their needs, they may not want you to come back so then, it's not worth too much teaching them the first lesson if they dont want you to come back. I'm starting to realize more and more that being a missionary is less about teaching, and more about listening and helping! If your investigators feel that you love them, and are wanting to help them, they will have a greater desire to learn as well. Nobody want's to just be preached to for 30 minutes, they want to be listened to, admired, cared about, and helped. We also have talked a lot about following up with your investigators. It should be one of the most important things. A good question I like to ask is "do you remember what we talked about last time?" and if they don't, then I will help them remember and review or reteach if necessary. The same for commitments. We have been taught that if our investigators dont keep their commitments, it is largely our fault. We need to become better at helping them complete their commitments. Because if they are willing to commit to it, they are willing to do it, but just may need another reminder, or may need some more help. For instance, we had a fireside where a member of the Seventy said that he encouraged missionaries to have investigators commit to a specific time they will read or do what we ask, and then, call them after to see if they have and if they have any questions. Or, if we are able to be in the area, to drop by and read or do it with them. They have talked about how important it is to read the Book of Mormon with our investigators because this way, we can help them see how we study the Book of Mormon instead of just reading it. I did this in my last lesson and it was really great!  We just read a verse, then talked about it, then read the next 1 or 2 and talked about those, then kept going. This helps them to get more of the context as well instead of just the best verse or 2 from the chapter. We understand the context, but they often have NO idea, so it loses a lot of the power when you take little snippets out of the Scriptures without introducing them and talking about why that thing was said. 

I am so excited to get my new companion this week!!!! I have been saving a tim tam for him for 2 weeks! We are going to have tim tam slams together hehehehe :) it's going to be great! Also, I really think that my studies will improve because i dont take nearly as long as the sisters to eat and wont have to be handed off to the english when Sister Larson has another appointment, or needs to sleep during gym time or something else the Doctor has prescribed. Having a companion is REALLY nice here, ive noticed that! I know some companionships get along better than others, but having to constantly tag along with the English and not be able to do language study as effectively and such has been a trial this past week so I am really pumped to get my new companion and help him learn quickly while also helping me learn quickly. We have this new program to help us all learn better. We are to bear our testimony once everyday in cantonese to someone who doesn't speak cantonese, and at meal times, one of us will only speak cantonese and the other 2 have to translate. It's great because the English like to try to give us tricky words or test us by saying something complicated, so it really gets our brains going! :) I'm excited for this because I feel like i've been improving but I think this will help us really "take flight" in our language abilities. I Cant wait until I dream in Cantonese for the first time. I really hope that it's while im still here!!!  Love you all soooooooo much!!!! Thanks for your love, prayers, and support. You mean the world to me! Teaching about families all the time reminds me of how grateful I am to have a family that will be together for Eternity!
Elder Shafer

Monday, October 29, 2012

Week 5

Hello Family and Anika! :)
Okay, So before I forget some stuff..... I need a couple more favors :) We have started doing "role plays" where we will act as a non-member friend from back home that we know really well and have the other 2 missionaries in our district teach us as that investigator. It needs to be someone we know very well and that we can know how they would act or respond. After some thought and prayer I think I should role play Evan.  I feel that He is truly my best non-member friend and I think I know him well enough to play his role adequately.  Thank you SOOO much for the charger and the SD card. The computers here still do not allow access to cameras as I have been able to figure out yet :( but the charger came in just in time! I got to snag some last pictures with my Companion before He left this morning. Elder Staheli was an AWESOME trainer and companion and I know he wil have great success out in the field because he is obedient, and knows how to work.
Okay.... now for the good stuff :)
This week has been fantastic! I have finally kicked the last bit of sickness over so no more runny nose and tissues! :) Like I said, the older cantonese district left early this morning, so I may never see them again since they are going quite a ways away from me, but that's what missionary work is I guess :) So this week I met an elder from Melbourne, Au. He is AWESOME!! He came in early (most international missionaries come in a day or two early) and we helped him get situated in his room and introduced him to the MTC, in return, he gave us Tim Tams. Hopefully Mom, you experienced these because they are basically heaven!! its like a neco wafer cookie covered in chocolate but 7x better! SO delicious! E. Staheli and I were chowing them down, but im glad that I didn't eat them all because guess what????? I'm getting a new companion on the 7'th of november (it's your bday present dad:) ) and He is going to my same mission!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I will train him here, and with how few elders go to Sydney Cantonese speaking, I will likely be his Compnaion there too!! I was so excited when I found that out! 

Until that date, I have a companion, elder Kimzi, who has to stay here until next week because he has walking pneumonia. He was supposed to leave 2 weeks ago, but the medical staff had him stay.  He's a good elder, He has come to grips with his situation and is still progressing well I feel. Yesterday I was released with E. Staheli as Zone Leaders and the 2 new ones I think will be even better than we were. they are great Elders as well. 1 of them was the Distric leader before and almost half of his district was at one point or another talking to him about going home. When he told us about that we were shocked! but through prayer and some extra love and attention to those Elders, they are in a better mood and I believe are more willing to serve. Guess it just takes some people longer to find their desire and fervor to serve. 

My heart and prayers go out to Aunt Bobby and Aunt Karen and their family back East. Sounds like this storm is a pretty big one! 

So this week I taught some lessons by myself and they were definitely.... different :) The teachers I think wanted to up the anti a little bit because they weren't the same investigators of when I was teaching with the Sisters. They were a little more questioning and not so willing to just keep every commitment I gave them. One of them actually, we just talked the entire lesson about why the Book of Mormon is so crucial in her conversion and that she needs to be reading with a sincere heart if she is going to gain a testimony. I bore my testimony of saying that we are not very good teachers at all when compared to the Book of Mormon, and our goal and desire is that she will pray about it and study it daily. I think this lesson went really well though because I dont want to just keep teaching her and having her accept commitments but not do it with her heart. She will read or pray with us but doesn't always understand and will just be okay with not firmly understanding everything. I want her to start gaining a testimony because as of now, she says she wants to know her relationship with God and her path, but I think she is expecting us to give it to her and tell her everything rather than her have to work for it herself. So I really hope that us talking about the Book of Mormon the whole time had an impact on her. I think that it did, but we will see in our next lesson I guess. It is a little weird to teach alone. I definitely would rather have a companion, but i know that me teaching alone while here will grant me more teaching time and experience as well as the other sisters. They said their lesson went well and they were very happy with it too, so I'm glad. We had an AMAZING TRC this saturday (trc= when volounteers come in and you teach them as they are, as members or less actives or whatever.) so we taught 3 different members about how they can receive revelation through reading and pondering the Book of Mormon and it was awesome! They seemed really to be affected by our message and stated that they could feel the spirirt and had a greater desire to follow Christ. Mission accomplished! :) 

The Cantonese continues to come along well. I have found that as I try to find words that I can use in prayer, and in my lessons, they just stick. For instance, I wanted to know how I could pray to have more humility, patience, love, and inspiration from the Holy Ghost. and so I looked up these words and others that I wanted to convey in Cantonese, and WABAM! they were some of the easiest words to learn :) I think I get the hint that when I'm trying to learn for the sake of becoming a better missionary and teaching the Gospel to His children, He helps me learn Cantonese. I also LOVE to sing in Cantonese. this language is so beautiful!! I can't wait to call and let you know how beautiful it is hahaha :) 

Thank you all for your love and support to me. I can go on and on about how much my testimony is developing and how much I love missionary work. This gospel is absolute truth. Anyone who willingly seeks knowledge and asks in faith will receive answers and an outpouring of love. I love you all and can't wait to hear from you!
Elder Shafer

Monday, October 22, 2012

Week 4

Hello Family!!
Okay, so the beginning of this lettter I really want to write home about some questions yall have asked and I have either forgotten to write home about, or didn't get to in the time alloted. First off, my companion has a really great idea to help us get the most out of our email time. We will jump on and print out the letters you write and then exit out and read them, then answer. So no worries about not writing long emails, keep them coming and keep them long cuz I have quite a bit of time to read letters and then can jump back on and respond! :) 

So first off, we go to the temple every monday (p-day). It's always awesome to wake up extra early and be able to go to the temple. I really love walking up to the doors and having it be really dark but the Sky and the Temple are lit up! it's beautiful.  I really apprecaite the package!!! I needed those extra shirts. I will have to grab a charger for the Ipod in Australia cuz they dont even allow us to use music here actually. It's allowed in the Mission field, but not in the residence halls here I guess. 

Can't believe this friday will make 1 whole month ive been in the MTC. feels like its been barely 10 days! Thanks for all your love and prayers. I definitely know they are helping. I have become a lot more sincere and lengthy in my prayers also. I have come up with a better way to pray I feel. I will pray for many people by name and ask for ways that I can help them or different questions I have, and then when I begin to think of something that I may be able to do, I will get up and write it down in my planner, then come back and continue to pray. This has helped me a ton to remember certain things I need to do and how to be better as a person and as the Lord's missionary. I had this thought in a fireside of when we come prepared to write down the impressions and feelings the Spirit gives us, they will be a lot more prevalent. I like to think of it as this: Why would I tell someone something I want them to remember and have them do if they aren't willing to come prepared and do it. For instance- I wouldn't likely give someone an assignment to go and do unless I saw that they had something to write it down and remember it with. I feel it's the same with the spirit. If we aren't showing Him we are prepared to Listen, why would he bother speaking to us about things He wants ut to remember? we can still feel the spirit and enjoy the meeting, but I know when we come prepared and willing to react to what He specifically tells us, He will speak to us more. I have experienced this a lot and know it to be true. 

As for some questions- We dont learn any Characters here in the MTC. Their main desire is to get us to speak the Language as quickly as possible and since that is difficult enough, they have decided to not have missionaries be taught characters until the Mission Field. Therefore, I cannot read the BOM in chinese because they only have it in characters. There is a form of writing called "ping yum" which we use that was created by the british using english characters to best spell out how the character would sound. For instance...... gaaudouh is to teach. If you wrote this word down in the ping yum "gaaudouh" and showed it to a native cantonese speaker they would have no idea what it is since it's english characters. My teacher who is native has a really difficult time writing in Ping Yum because she doesn't know the correct tones since they only have tone markers in the English Ping yum because different tones make it a different word, and thus it is a completely different character to them. Hope this makes sense and clarififies some things as to why I can't read the BOM yet :( 

What I love most about the MTC is how well they structure everything to make us completely Dependent on the Lord. They are not here to teach us Cantonese or the Gospel. Everyone here is to help us learn how to better create our relationship with Our savior so that He can help us to become better missionaries. I really like this because they dont say "here is how you should do your language study, and here is your homewordk." They instead say "pray about how best to use this hour of personal study, and here are a couple of examples...." This really helps me to develop a stronger relationship with my Savior. I am His missionary, and He wants me to learn the best way for me. 

This week I got a bit of a cold and it turned into a nice cough :) but I am feeling better now and have gained a greater understanding that we are still mortal and subject to the wonderful consequences of mortality even though we may seem empowered and set apart from the world. There are SO many sick people here because of how many people come and go all the time, but it's just another example of how we need to be constantly watchful to take good care of ourselves hygenically and physically. I take my vitamins everday and wash my hands/ use hand sanitizer whenever I see a dispenser, and will definitely keep this trend up because being sick in the MTC is not fun. You dont want to stop doing your work, but sometimes you have to in order to not interefere worse. For instance, It felt really weird for me to have to skip gym and go to the Doctor, but I needed to because I started having chest pain. He assured me it was most likely just inflammation from coughing/ being sick and there wasn't anything to worry about, but still.... I dont like getting out of the routine and not being able to completely dedicate myself to the work. 

Oh! news flash! Starting this week I will be teaching alone for some of the Lessons. In order to get more teaching time In, they decided that I could teach alone since other Solo Missionaries have done that before and the other 2 sisters could teach by themselves. I can't wait! :) I have been thinking of so many great things to say and ask my investigators to discover their true understanding of the Gospel. If they think this next lesson is just going to be their average lesson they've got another thing coming! :) The language continues to come along very well. I feel the blessings of the gift of tongues in rich abundance. Every once in a while, I think the Lord shows me what it would be like without His help. Sometimes there is just a word I cannot remember no matter how many times I see it in my flash cards, but Lo and Behold..... the Next day as I continue to strive and struggle, it pops up and I get it perfect! :) In PMG it talks about that to qualify for the gift of tongues, we do have to struggle on our own, and I believe this is what is happening with me. There are some times like I before mentioned where He lets me see where I would be without Him, and then He continues to bless me because He knows my desire to learn isn't for my own well being but for the teaching of His children. I pray very strongly for this. I want to be able to teach and testify with boldness from Day 1 in the Field and I know that I won't be able to understand it all and I know I will continue to have trials and struggles, but I truly want to be THE BEST teacher that I can be. I want to testify and teach of My Savior to everyone who will hear. and even those who dont, I will still proclaim that the Lord, Jesus Christ Lives and will come again unto this earth. His gospel was restored in it's fulness by Joseph Smith the true prophet and that if they will read the Book of Mormon with sincerity, and faith in Christ, with real intent to follow the feelings they will receieve. They will be able to know as I do. We had an awesome lesson sunday about the power of the Book of Mormon, and that no matter what question someone asks us, we can direct it to the Book of Mormon, and nothing can pierce the true and burning testimony to be found in that book. It has been prepared and preserved for this day and there is not question, or deceiving of the devil that will be able to halt it's true gospel and knowledge. I know this gospel is true and I want to proclaim it to anyone and everyone. from a child who is striving to learn to the devout Atheist who think's he/she is wise. I will declare that Jesus is the Christ and my testimony cannot be thwarted. What I know and believe I know and do believe. I am out of time now, so I must go. Love you all so much!!!!
Elder Shafer

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 3

Hey Family!!
As of now, I am leaving December 10 for Syndey! :) I met an Elder that just came in from there last night and he's so excited to have me go there. I kinda am too i guess :b. So some info regarding the New Mission rules/ requirements.... we just had a fireside last night and the speaker addressed some of these things. They will be cutting missionaries time in the MTC by about 1/3 starting in January. Therefore, Anika, if you get your call and enter the MTC before the first week or so of January, chances are you'll be there for the full time. Otherwise, you'll either be here for 2 weeks, 6 weeks or 8 weeks depending on the language you'll be speaking. They are expecting a big influx of missionaries within the next three months, so the speaker told all of us to be prepared to become trainers soon because they are expecting the largest number of missionaries to come through in the summer and they will be needing lots of new trainers. I can't imagine training after just a few short months! They have initiated a new program as of about 9 months ago where, when a missionary enters the field, they redo all of PMG and have a specific training program for the first 12 weeks that the Missionary is in the field. All of these things point to the fact that the Lord is hastening His work!!! It is crazy to think that in 2 weeks Elder Staheli will be gone and I'll be training a new cantonese missionary....... I hope I can be as good of a trainer as he was! We are both very busy here. We were called to be zone leaders last week and it has been quite odd to switching into that adjustment. 

Elder Bednar came for our Tuesday Night Devotional!!!!! It was so cool!! When the doors opened up and he walked in. The spirit flooded the room and everyone immediately stood up! It was a crazy awesome experience! He talked about the need to study conference addresses and shared with us how he does his personal study. Pretty sure everyone who listened now is going to study in a similar way because if an Apostle studies this way...... You can't really go wrong with studying that way haha! :) He talked about how he will always look for Doctrine (a salvational truth) Invitations, and promised blessings. He will find these in every talk and ponder each of them seperately. He will look for the core doctrines that the Brethren are speaking about, then find the invitations they offer and the promised blessings, and then he will try to follow them to the best that he can. He mentioned something about doctrine that was really cool. He said that a lot of times we in the church like to refer to some things as "deep doctrine." but that in reality, those are not deep doctrine because Doctrine is basic, simple, and is a salvational truth. Most of the things people refer to as "deep doctrine" has little if any significance to one's salvation. So that was a really cool thing to learn. 

So a little disclaimer about the whole investigator thing...... brace yourselves. The investigators are really our teachers haha! The first week they give you a new "investigator" who then after 5 or so lessons becomes your teacher. These "investigators" are real people that they know or someone they met on their missions. So they are real people, and we are still supposed to treat them as if they were a new investigator, but they in actuality are our teachers. Sorry, I didn't know until my companion had me give a baptismal interview to his investigator, and when I entered the room, it was his teacher haha! The teachers do a AWESOME job at switching roles. I honestly dont feel like I'm talking to my teachers because they fit the roles SO well!!! And they aren't allowed to speak a single word of english, so we really do feel like we are teaching someone from Hong Kong. Especially Sister Tai, she role plays her best friend "Kim" and I really can't believe its the same person because she completely switches her role and doesn't ask the regular questions you'd expect a church member to ask. I think it's because all the teachers really knew well the people they role play so they can do an awesome job. But yeah..... was a tiny bit sad to realize they I couldn't actually baptize Pauline before Leaving the MTC as "Pauline" really lives in Hong Kong and is my teacher's best friend. But I can totally see why the MTC does it this way. It helps the teachers tremendously to help us teach according to our investigtor's needs and helps them prepare us as best they can. So for any future missionaries reading this..... don't treat your investigator like your teacher because it won't work. They won't sympathize with you and will treat you just as if you were 2 missionaries teaching them and they didn't know you from anywhere. All things here are set up to help us teach to our investigator's needs. We have a lesson every single day except sunday and so a lot of study time goes into preparing lessons and then translating them into Cantonese. My Cantonese keeps coming along much better than I was expecting. 

The blessings here are so amazing! Thank you to everyone who keeps me in their thoughts and prayers, I know they are being answered because I see blessings I could never hope to imagine. I gave my first blessing for the sick this week. Elder Staheli and I blessed Sister Larson because she caught a really bad virus and had to go to the doctor. After 14 hours of sleep (the doctor told her she needed to sleep as much as possible, so my teacher kicked her out of class one night haha! :) in a nice way of course!) she started feeling much better, but it was cool to give a blessing of healing and comfort, rather than just a blessing of comfort and guidance. My time is up now, I love you all so much and am so grateful for this wonderful experience. Thanks to everyone who has and does support me. The work I am doing is in large portion due to your efforts on behalf!
Elder Shafer