Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 17

Dear Everyone,

BEST WEEK EVER!!!! :) Christmas is the best, missionary work is the best, and this life is just awesome. I am sorry I do not have long to write today. We are back up in Sydney for Missionary Leadership Conference. I am so excited for this upcoming week though. Starting off a new year will bring so much energy and some new and improved goals that I want to accomplish. Christmas was great- don't have time to go into the details though :( 

We have seen SOOOO many miracles this past week that have made me so much more grateful. The Lord truly is merciful. Have to go, Love you all!

What a wonderful week down here. I greatly enjoyed the Christmas Conference before Christmas and then spending Christmas day here with the families and missionaries that seem almost as if they are my family. This Christmas was a very unique and special Christmas that I know I will not forget. Though there was no hot cocoa and snowmen or caroling in the snow, the true message of Christmas was present and influential in my life. On Christmas eve it was great to have a little "Christmas devotional" as a flat. We sang together, shared our feelings of Christmas, and listened to President Monson's address that he gave at the worldwide Christmas broadcast. Listening to it made me really wish that we would have had the opportunity to see it, but I know the message is still the same being heard or seen. I will also admit, I don't think I have ever been so excited to open a christmas gift as I was on Christmas day to find that I had been sent new socks and some new pants. Both of which I was in desperate need of. My family does know me very well since they also sent some of my favorite goodies and some heart felt letters and cards. I am so grateful to represent the Savior, especially at this special time of year. 

This week as I studied the Christlike attributes, I was grateful to see that over the course of my mission, I have improved in Christlike attributes. I have rated myself several times using the attribute activity, and though I am not yet all 5's... I have improved in many areas. As we continue to work on improving ourselves, we not only become better at doing things like Christ, but we become better at being more like Christ. He wants us to truly change and become better permanently. 

Sorry this week's letter will be shorter, we don't have too much time to write on emails today because of Missionary Leadership Conference, but we will be seeing you shortly.


Elder Shafer

Canberra Zone Week 16

Unfortunately we don't have an email letter to share with everyone this week.  However, we have an extra special post.  For Christmas, each of the missionaries are able to speak with their families.  This Christmas, we were able to Skype with Kyle.  We aren't able to share the entire call with everyone, but we do have a few favorite pieces to share with everyone.

Grandparents: "I have never in my life heard a more sincere testimony.  I could just feel how close he is to the Savior.  It meant so much to hear that he is prepared to meet the Savior.  He is so close to the Savior and I felt that in his testimony.  I just felt how much the Savior loves him."

Mom:  "I loved hearing about his experience with the missionaries that he has served with.  I appreciated the love that he has for the missionaries, especially at whatever stage they are at and the service they are able to render knowing that they come from so many different backgrounds.  It was so neat to hear how it inspired him and helped him grow."

Dad: "I really appreciated how he distinguished his growth in the different areas of his mission and the types of members he was able to meet, and how he sees the gospel working in different dimensions and families and changing individuals lives."

Mark/Laura: "I loved seeing his radiant smile."

Chris/Michelle: "I loved how Kyle showed gratitude for the love and support of his family.  He said people in Australia don't know my first name, but they do know my family name.  I am glad that I not only get to represent the Savior, but also my family."

As an extra special treat, we did record a little bit of our Skype session with Kyle.  He is sharing his testimony with us.  It was honestly, probably the favorite part for everyone!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we all did!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 15

Dear Everyone!
Because of our mission-wide Christmas conference next Monday, I am not sure if I will get to email or not before Christmas day, so I figured I would use the time now and say MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! :) This past week was another glorious week here in the Canberra zone. Stacey Smiler was baptized. Her husband plays for the Canberra Brumbies (professional Rugby Union team) and is an RM. Things went a bit south for him for a while, but thankfully he got things figured out since the missionaries started meeting with him and he was able to baptize his wife just 2 days ago! The sisters have been teaching her steadily, but Elder White and I had the privelige to go over to their home a couple times for dinner and a lesson and have gotten quite close with them. Even last minute he texted us saying the white pants he thought would fit actually don't and asked to wear mine. Although they were a bit short since he is 6'4" the waist was adjustable just to the right size for him. It was really weird to see him all dressed up nice like that because normally when we see him he is still in his workout gear and is just RIPPED haha. Seriously, everytime he opens the door to us, I just get a tiny bit scared but luckily he is so nice and doesn't squeeze us too hard when he gives us "bro hugs." One of the greatest things that just made the weekend for Elder White and I was when Stacey shared the experience that made her choose to be baptized. She had been thinking and praying for a long time about if she should actually get baptized. She had been taught all the necessary lessons, but just felt that she wasn't ready yet. She then said over the pulpit the following: "I haven't told anyone this yet, but I feel I should share it now. Just the other week I was at home doing chores and cleaning up a bit and was thinking about my baptism. I decided to kneel down and pray to ask Heavenly Father if I should be baptized, and that if He wanted me to be baptized, to please show me. I finished my prayer and kept doing my chores when about 10 minutes later Elder White and Elder Shafer knocked on my door. It surprised me because we didn't have a set appointment and Jordan wasn't home so they couldn't come in. They said they were really excited for me to get baptized and just wanted to drop by and say hello. After they left I remembered the prayer I had just said and realized that Heavenly Father had sent me them as a message that I should be baptized." This was very surprising for Elder White and I to hear because normally people's prayers are not answered in such a way, however we were both so grateful we had acted on the prompting to go. After she told that story I remembered how Elder White and I were driving to another appointment near her home and felt that we should drop by. I remember talking about it because we knew Jordan wouldn't be home and so we couldn't go in, but still decided to go and just say hello to her and say we were excited for her to be baptized because the sisters had told us she wanted to be baptized, but didn't feel comfortable yet. We figured just a friendly drop by couldn't hurt, but thankfully, Heavenly Father had it planned out to be an answer to Stacey's prayer.

They are the COOLEST little family ever. She will be giving birth within a week or so from now and so it was just in time for her baptism haha. We were afraid she may have a water birth when she entered the faunt, but luckily... all went well :)
I am so excited for Christmas!! :) I am grateful for Jesus Christ, because "He is the reason for the season." The more I am out on the mission the more I realize the world does not revolve around me, but it does revolve around Him. Without Him, we would have no hope or light but only be left with a dark world. Just as we walk down the streets and see the Christmas lights lit up and beautiful, if you shut them off, the world automatically becomes dark again. He is the Light, the Life and the Way. I encourage everyone to go and share this light with those around them. Even a small glimmer of light can be seen from far away when all around us is dark. No matter how small you may feel your light is, Let it shine forth for others to see. There is a wonderful mormon message in which we learn of the Light of Christ. I invite all to watch and enjoy it :
I do believe He lives and I am grateful He does. I wish everyone a merry merry Christmas with their family and friends for "christmas time is family time, and family time is sacred time!" :)
Love you!
Elder Shafer
p.s. I almost forgot My letter to president ;b sorry!
Merry Christmas!! :) The time is fast approaching in which Christmas day will be here. We had a great ward activity down here in which two of our recent converts joined with us last Friday night. It was spectacularly done and they really enjoyed it. It also really helped me to welcome in the Christmas Spirit as the days are fast approaching. Yesterday the talks were all focused on the Spirit of Christ and how He needs to be the focus of Christmas, not all the other fluff that we give Christmas. I am so grateful to serve as a missionary at this wonderful time of the year! People are happier and enjoying themselves more as they continue to look forward to Christmas coming. Just last night we shared a message with a less active family about the true meaning of Christmas, and immediately afterward, the 3 yr old son went and grabbed some candies off of the Christmas tree and gave them to Elder White and I. It was a touching moment as he was willing to give because this particular child in times past has NEVER given things away. He is usually a very rowdy and energetic kid, who doesn't like to share, but for some reason, even he was touched by the message of Christmas and freely gave us of his candy. I love this festive season where we can focus on giving to others, and it seems that people are more willing to give than at other times of the year. It is true that the Spirit of Christmas is contagious. 
This week, from studying the Book of Mormon, I have continued to learn how often Christ speaks to and leads His people. Many of the references in the first couple chapters of the Book of Mormon to the Savior are when He has commanded them to do something. This is a thought that has impressed on my mind more deeply this past week. He speaks often and commands often. Lehi and his family were commanded to leave. Then when 3 days away from Jerusalem, His sons were commanded to go back, then when they had returned to their parents in the wilderness, they had to go back AGAIN in order to get Ishmael's family to go with them. The question came to my mind: Why did the Lord command them to do it that way? Couldn't they have just packed up with Ishmael's family in the beginning and then all left together with the Plates? Surely the Lord could have made that possible, but He didn't. He wanted to try their faith and help them to develop trust in His commandments. There were many more trials that awaited the family, and I feel that He had to start small and try to help them develop faith and Trust in Him before their 8 year journey into the wilderness, then building a boat, followed by crossing an entire ocean to try and settle a new land. I am not sure that these are all of the reasons why it happened that way, but as for my personal opinion I give it that often we need to be tested in small things before we have any hope to deal with the large problems in life. I learned from them that I need to follow His commandments even when it doesn't quite make sense, or even when they seem repetitive, because He, unlike myself, can see the end from the beginning.
As I studied more from Preach My Gospel chapter 9 this past week, I came to realize I do not pray enough for people to find. I often pray for those I am already teaching and the ward members, but my prayers directly to find new people to teach are lacking. This is something I would like to change. I want to specifically pray for more people to find and share my testimony with every day. Doing this, and then going forth and opening my mouth with the thought "perhaps this is the person I prayed for today" will really help me to have faith to find. We had a great experience the other day with doing this. Elder White and I were walking to our apt and on the way saw a teenage young man with his bmx bike just standing by himself near the walk way. Though we were most likely going to be a minute late to our apt with our investigator, I figured I had better take this opportunity and just pray things worked out for the best. They did! We were able to talk to him, and 2 of his friends that came up shortly after we met him. We had a quick but good discussion with them and exchanged contact details to meet again at another time. Feeling excited, we hurried off to our apartment to find out that he was actually running late as well and were able to talk to several more people while waiting for him to come. I am so grateful I decided to "step off the path" so to speak and talk to him instead of justifying myself by saying I don't want to be late to an appointment. I really hate being late to things and so it is easy for me to get into a "tunnel vision" mode when on my way to appointments and things, but thankfully, that day and from now on, I want to get out of my tunnel vision, and look around for the opportunities the Lord has given me. I know that there are many people out there waiting to hear our message. They are looking for the truth. We need to make sure we are also looking for them.

Canberra Zone Week 14

Dear everyone,
A picture is worth 1000 words, so I will include some pictures from the baptism to explain how great it was. But, it was such a rewarding week this week for Us. So crazy to think of how quickly time goes by. Noni, whom we just met 6 weeks ago was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was such a special experience for her and for us to see her make that first covenant.
As we need to go, I will let my Letter to President and the pictures tell the rest of the story :)
The best week ever in Canberra for me!! :) Noni's baptism was a great experience and the confirmation the following day was superb. She truly has qualified herself for the blessings that come from making and keeping this first covenant. After the confirmation, the bishop invited her to come and share her testimony as part of sacrament meeting and she shared a brief, but very sincere testimony. My favorite thing she said is that "since I have been meeting with the Missionaries, I have come to know that Jesus Christ really did die for me, and that Heavenly Father loves us." This was really significant to me because she has grown up being a Christian and believing in God her whole life, but it goes to show that the spirit bearing witness of the truth makes an impression that will always be remembered. I feel that her testimony of the divinity of Christ and His sacrifice truly has been strengthened so much. As has mine. Everyday as I ponder and search the scriptures, I come to know Christ better. I know that there is still much for me to learn which excites me, but the things that I have learned are priceless. Today as I studied for a lesson we will be having tonight regarding repentance and the atonement of Christ allowing us the opportunity to repent and be forgiven, I continued to find scripture after scripture that talks about how we must be penitent in order to be forgiven. Although Jesus Christ has already paid the price for our sins, we still have to allow him to take them from us. We have our agency and He will not make us clean against our will. I think sometimes how this is like when I was a young kid playing around outside. My mother never chased after me with a bucket of soap and water making me clean when I wanted to keep playing and get dirty, but when I wanted to go back home, I had to make sure I was clean before going inside. I had to be willing to come in and have her help me get rinsed off. The same is with the Atonement. The price has been paid, the bucket of soapy water is available for use, but I must be willing to offer up my sins and repent from the things which I have done. I must truly have changed my desire so that I no longer want to do that thing in order to become fully clean. And through it all, Christ is there supporting me and welcoming me back to Him. One of my favorite verses that I found today is 3 Nephi 9: 22- "Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved." I am so grateful this opportunity is always available to me and to all of us. Noni has experienced this and I know she will continue to grow stronger in her testimony through time.
This week, honestly the greatest miracle was seeing her be baptized, confirmed, and stand to bear her testimony. She has always been a very shy person, but her testimony affected all of us present.

From studying more about key indicators I realized that these truly do Indicate what we are focusing on and they can very acurately indicate what we need to improve upon. They are not just numbers for reporting and recording, but tell us signs and can help us see what we need to adjust to continually be more effective. For example- as a lifeguard we had to regularly check the chemical levels in the pool. These numbers indicated how much chlorine we needed to add or if there was something deficient in the filters etc. Such is the same with key indicators. if we look at it merely as numbers we could be swimming in a "toxic pool" and not even realize it. But if we learn from our key indicators every week and truly focus to achieve our goals, then we can all be swimming happily and enjoy the work. Maybe that is not the best analogy, but I now understand better the importance of evaluating our actuals and setting goals that will help us truly be successful.

I love starting to read the Book of Mormon again as a mission. My companion and I daily have had very similar questions arise as we read and we are able to discuss them and gain new insights during our studies together. For example, today Elder White mentioned that the question came to him "why didn't Lehi go with his sons to get the brass plates?" and I just laughed because I had thought about the SAME question. Why did the Lord command Lehi to send his sons, but not go himself? We discussed how we felt that it may have been to be a test of faith for the sons as well as for Lehi and Sariah. It may not have been the most important question, but I do enjoy truly trying to put myself into the scriptures and think about what it would have been like to be there. The Book of Mormon has such a simplicity about it that I love, yet there are many things which allow you to ponder on questions and gain deeper insights as to how the Lord communicates and deals with His children.
I know the Book of Mormon is true and I am excited to increase my testimony of it by reading it yet again. 
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As you can tell..... I was pretty excited hehe. Elder Roberts said to give the "biggest smile you've got." So I gave it :)
Love yous!
Elder Shafer

Monday, December 2, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 13

Dear Everyone,
Transfers just happened yesterday and we have THE BEST zone ever! Elder White and I are still here and the new missionaries we have in the zone are just awesome. 8/12 of them have been out less than 6 months and so there is some extreme fire and faith in the zone which gets me really stoked. The Spirit can teach us how to be great missionaries, but we must put forth the desire. I believe we will see great sucess because I can see that every single one of these missionaries that we have has great desire to share the Gospel. I wish time was longer today, we are meeting with Noni in 15 minutes and need to go, but here is my letter to President Lew.

This week was quite an interesting week down here. It was still really good but we have had HEAPS of service hours which I would have preferred to be spent in teaching, however I know that serving the ward is extremely important. I am not sure exactly why, but we have 4 families that are all deciding to move within 2 weeks of each other, and so last week and this week as well we have been asked to help them move. Last Saturday was particularly rough. A family was moving into our ward, and we had heard the ward they were leaving would help them move out of the house, and our ward would help move in. We coordinated with the missionaries from the area they were leaving and they mentioned they could probably use some help, so we decided to go and help them as well. as it turns out, only one member from their ward showed up, so we helped them unload everything that we could get into the truck, then drove up to their new house and helped them unload and repeated the process until is was finished. Long story short, communication wasn't the best in announcing the move and so the job fell upon just us 4 missionaries to complete. I have never been so exhausted from moving in my life- from 9 am until 4:30 pm we helped this family move from one house into the other in the sun. All of us got a bit burnt, but we definitely slept amazingly well that night since all of us were really tired from the move. This and other moves that were similar have made me really appreciate the opportunity to serve. When it comes right down to it, we are here to serve. I am obviously more excited about serving through helping people spiritually come closer to Christ, but also the opportunity to just dig in and work hard in helping with temporal affairs is satisfying as well. After this week I know the importance as well of setting up good plans and spreading the word so to speak :) We have two more families that are moving this week as well, so here is to hoping these ones go better than the previous ones!
On a happier note, Noni is getting baptized this weekend!!!! :) She has been an ongoing miracle since day 1. We met her just 6 weeks ago. She has attended all 3 hours of church ever since and has been studying, praying, and diving into the gospel ever since. She is so well prepared. She just texted us last night expressing how excited she was and that she feels "God is in my heart." I have been able to see first hand how the Spirit has affected her. Without any promptings or teaching by us, her lifestyle began to change. For example, before we had taught her the Word of Wisdom, she committed herself to not drink anymore. She also started dressing more modestly and using more refined language. The best part is that she truly searched these things out for herself. We had planned a lesson to teach her the 10 Commandments one day and she pulled out her notebook wherein she had already written them all down and her "modern day interpretation" of what they meant. She nailed them all right on the head, but still was humble enough to ask us more questions and asked us to still go over them and teach her more about them. She truly has been such a miracle to witness how much this gospel blesses lives. Her children love coming to church and have even used their sharing time in school to talk about Jesus. Something that is quite remarkable since religion isn't a very popular thing here in Australia. The Spirit has been working through her and she honestly has been growing in her conversion, and now, 6 weeks later she will make her first covenant with Heavenly Father through baptism. It is so exciting!! :)

From studying page 6 and 7 of Preach My Gospel this week, I have come to understand better that I need to always testify of the Restoration. Everything that we teach ties back to it, because the truth of everything that we teach relies upon it. If the restoration had not happened, everything that we teach would be of little to no benefit. But because it did happen, our life here has true purpose and our future has hope. There was a great lesson that I learned from pondering an investigators question this week. He has a hard time believing that God is real and that there is life after this. He mentioned that in his mind, this being the only life we have makes it all the more valuable. Since this is all that we have, he feels it is rare and precious and not a single moment should be wasted in false hopes or beliefs that are not true. I will admit his opinion suprised me- that the notion of life after this had a certain appeal to him. The next day I sat there pondering his question and realized that our life is an investment. Such as the parable of the talents, all of us have been given a certain amount of time here on this earth. Some will live long lives, others short, but it isn't the amount that matters, it is how we use them. The servant who made 10 talents out of 5 received great blessings, but so did the one who made 4 out of 2. They both were promised they would receive much much more than they had been given. However the one who saved his talent lost that which he had been given. Such is our lives. When we invest our life unto Christ, we are promised things beyond what we can comprehend at this time, but if we invest our lives into our own selves and satisfying our own desires, we lose those things which we could have received. Understanding this helps me to realize that having a life after this makes this life extremely valuable and of great importance. Back to my investment analogy- if we invest our money into a company that has extreme sucess, we receive great reward, but if we invest in a company which tanks and returns nothing back, we have lost all that we have. Therefore, after pondering this, I really want to meet with him again and help him understand the same concept so that he will realize how important this life is. How rare and valuable it is because our future and potential happiness depend upon how we invest our time and talents in this life. I am so grateful for the good questions and sitatuations that investigators ask.
I have gained a true testimony that although I do not have anywhere near all the answers, the Lord does. And when I am humble and seek revelation, He is willing to give me the answers that I need to receive. I have had many situations on my mission in which I respond "I do not know" but always, I back that up with bearing testimony of what I do know. I know that Jesus Christ lives and Atoned for me. I know that this is His church on the earth, not just another good church that makes us better people, but this is THE church that He watches over and guides through modern day prophets. My testimony of this burns within me and grows each time I testify of its truth. I am so grateful for this blessing that this knowledge brings into my life. I do not fear for the future because I will always have hope through Christ. I had the opportunity to testify that truth to another investigator who had difficulty believing what we were trying to teach and testify of. I said "the message that we share is hope." Without Jesus Christ, all is hopeless and useless. If not for Him, all would be of no signifigance in the eternal scheme. We would live, die and that would be the end. No happiness or joy. But because of Him, we have hope. Hope that one day we can live with Him and our families again forever. To enjoy the happiness that is found in unity and love. Of all things that can be hoped for, is there better? I believe there is not. There is no better solution or idea than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it is perfect. We are not perfect, but He and His plan is. I am grateful for my testimony of this and am grateful that during this Christmas season, I will continue to have the opportunity to declare to the world that Jesus was born, crucified, and lives again. I believe this with all my heart.
Till next week,
Elder Shafer

Canberra Zone Week 12

Hello everyone!
Because I am back up in Sydney for the day, and have to pay for the internet, this week will be a shorter email. We have another Mission Leadership Conference, so we enjoyed a nice drive up last night and will be having the conference today then return tomorrow morning. Oddly enough, driving in Australia is a beautiful thing. So many amazing things to see in the environment as you drive over 300 kilometers. Here is the email:
What another great week down here in Canberra! The weather has finally warmed up (perhaps a bit too hot on some days) but I won't complain because of the miracles we keep seeing! We keep accomplishing several of our weekly goals, and for what I can remember as the first time ever in my mission have exceeded the Member Present Lessons goal that my companion and I have set for a month. We really have focused on having more effective teaching, and so we have continued to push to the very end to bring a friend along to help our investigators feel fellowshipped and welcome. We have had a great response as we have done this. Members now come to us and are offering their schedules for when they are available and are asking for us to schedule appointments during when they are available so that they can help teach our investigators. It has been great to see the ward continue to grow closer together and come to continue supporting missionary work more and more every week. This week we saw a great miracle in using the phone more. We have hundreds of numbers that are saved in our phone that are either potential investigators that previous missionaries have talked to, or former investigators. Everyday we try to make some "miracle calls" We will say a prayer and then one of us will start just scrolling through the numbers until the other one says stop. Even though it may seem silly, we have seen some intense miracles by doing this! This week when we tried it, my companion spoke to Dominic. He mentioned it had been a long time since he had talked with missionaries but he would be keen to meet us. We scheduled an apt and invited him to bring any of his friends along. The 2 days later we met him and his classmate named Tam. Though they are quite opposite, they get along pretty well and we struck up some great discussions with them from How to Begin Teaching and then shared with them how they could know that God really does exist. Dominic has a hard time believing in anything that cannot be proved by science, but Tam already believes In Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, he is just not sure where he exactly stands in regards to faith. He goes up and down as I believe all of us do, but lacks a strong testimony. Though teaching them seperately would be help them to overcome their concerns because they are quite different, I feel we did a great job in trying to teach to both of their needs. They committed to come to church the next day, and Dominic said the first prayer of his entire life to end the Lesson. We are meeting with them again this coming Wednesday and are really excited to continue to share with them more about the restoration. Tam asked such a great question that we will love to answer more fully on Wednesday. He asked "which domination of Churches do you fall under?" After a simple explanation of the restoration, I think his interest was definitely perked and I wished that we would have had more time to fully explain, but this Wednesday we definitely will answer his question. Such a great miracle from a small and simple thing as a phone call

Also, we had the opportunity to meet with Richard Morutu, the Referral you gave us this week. We had plans to meet him eariler, but he had to cancel because his wife was sick. We texted him on Wednesday just to say we wished his wife well and to ask if there was any way we could help, and he called us out of the blue saying he would like to meet on his lunch break that day in just over an hour (thankfully we didn't have another apt scheduled at that same time!) So we met with him and he is great! He has done so much personal research and has actually read the Book of Mormon since he was a little kid. He has great memories of reading it and looking at the pictures that were included in the childrens edition. He said he would prepare himself for baptism since he knows it is God's will to do so. He is a man that is very, very obedient to God's will. On our first meeting he talked about that for about 10 minutes- of how even though he doesn't want to do some of the things because it would be difficult or uncomfortable etc, he feels that it is right and so he proceeds to do it. He has had some really interesting spiritual experiences that he shared with us, to where he knows God is real and can't deny it. We look forward to continued visits with him. He lives about an hour away from our flat and the chapel, but works down in woden area, which is just 20 minutes from us, so it is convenient for us to meet him twice a week on his lunch break. Thank you so much for the trust you have placed in us to teach him.

This week, from Chapter 10, I have learned more about How to Begin Teaching, making sure that we really teach to someone's needs and discover those needs as early as possible. I think a great example of this was meeting Tam. At first, I thought that he would be against the church just because of some of his initial comments, but as it turns out, once he saw that we are there to help him grow closer to Christ and not to tear down the faith he has, he was much more open with us. He mentioned that he really hates when Religions or churches talk negatively about other faiths and so he was happy to hear that we agree that all men are free to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. He is an honest seeker of truth and is quite excited to continue to meet with us. I am glad that I had reveiwed points about how to begin teaching before meeting with Him and dominic because we definitely needed to establish a relationship with them before they would feel open to talk with us. I am so grateful for Preach My Gospel!! I can't imagine how I would function as a missionary without it
Elder Shafer

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 11

It's been a wonderful week! Our area is pumping, the district is pumping, the zone is pumping. Everything is just getting better and better! :)  We set a new record for the amount of lessons taught in our zone this week by a large margin and it seems as though it won't just be a spike, but that the trend will continue to grow. Our Stake President stood up in 2 of the wards yesterday and called all of the missionaries to the front as part of sacrament meeting. It was pretty awesome, but also awkward as he asked rhetorical questions to the congregation. He said "brothers and sisters, these are the missionaries serving in your ward. There are 6 of them. Each of them has sacrificed 2 years of their lives, away from family and friends, to come and serve the Lord. Their job is to teach, not to find. Who is to find? We are. The time for missionaries tracting is over, we need to be doing all that we can to join together in helping the missionary work be successful here in this ward." Now, that wasn't word for word, but it's about as close as I can remember. The fact of the matter is that the Stake President was making it very clear that we need to continue to grow together as ward members and missionaries to help the Lord's children here in this area. He referenced many times to President Monson's recent comments on the matter and enforced it with his own testimony that when we work together, the work moves forward. All of us missionaries were so excited!! Though we felt a little out of place standing in front of the whole congregation, I think it really helped to get the message accross that we are here to work and serve. I am grateful that our Stake President supports us in our desires to achieve the Standard of Excellence established by President Lew to be teaching 20 lessons per week to investigators, recent converts, and less active members and realizes that this realistically can only be effective with the accompaniment of the ward members. They have a much more important role than what most of them realize I believe. So to my famiy and all friends who are not full time missionaries reading this- thank you for the work that you do. Even something as small as sitting next to someone new at church and greeting them goes a LONG way. As missionaries one of our greatest concerns is that first time an investigator comes to church. We want to make sure they have friends to support them and guide them because realistically, the members can do a job that we cannot. They will stay when we will leave, they can relate and be the friends that we cannot since we do not experience the same difficulties of work, raising families and other stresses of life that naturaly happen. Yes, we as missionaries can teach, but we cannot always testify that we know how it is to raise a family where we are serving, or to find a job there, etc.... So, in all the good that you are doing- thank you! Also, I can promise as you continue to dive into missionary work, there will come an added measure of happiness and joy that cannot be found elsewhere. Helping someone come closer to Christ is so enjoyable! Why? Because it brings you closer to Him as well. There is greater love and charity towards all men that develops as you strive to bring others more happiness and peace that is found in following His example. As you focus on others, you become less focused upon yourself, and being less focused on yourself brings happiness. If you don't believe me- I encourage you to try it :) Then let me know how awesome it is because I have tested it, and it is true. Selfless service is the key to happiness.
Last night Elder White and I had the opportunity to eat at a members' home and then go and teach Noni right afterward. She was planning to come and eat with us at the members' but something came up last minute with one of her daughters falling and getting hurt and crying so hard she got a headache, so she felt it best to stay at home rather than bring a crying child along for dinner haha. But she welcomed us to come and teach her more about our living Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. We watched a video that explained briefly his life and some of the sacrifices he has made to serve the Lord. I am so grateful that we have a prophet on the earth today. It helps me to know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and loves us just as much as He loved His children in times past. Though we may not have to cross the Red Sea in running away from our enemies, there are many current problems that we are confronted with, and having a living prophet's guidance and inspired counsel today is so beneficial. Even though the kids were running all over the place, she still mentioned that watching the video and discussing about having a living Prophet today helped answer many of her questions that she has had. She is such a wonderful soul, and will be blessed so much for the steps she is making in coming unto Christ. Let us all this week endeavor to be a little better, and take one more step towards Him. No matter where we are or what we have done, His arms are always open towards us in friendship and warm welcome. I know this to be true because I have felt it time and again. I love my Savior and know that He lives, and it brings great peace to my heart.
In closing, I will include my letter to President to share some more miracles seen this week:
This has been the best week so far that I have had in Canberra! The Lord has blessed us with so many miracles! We were able to accomplish our member present, other lessons taught, and new investigator goals for this week! Each week we keep improving and our area is right on track for achieiving the Standard of Excellence in teaching on a weekly basis. That gets me so excited because my transfer goal was to be steadily achieving Standard of Excellence by the end of the transfer, and it is going to happen! :) Unfortunately, the 2 baptismal dates that were scheduled for this month had be to pushed back just 2 weeks for different reasons, but they both are still prepared and very keen to be baptized the first and second week of December. It will be great for them as they begin to walk on the straight and narrow pathway back to our loving Father in Heaven. Also, a great miracle happened this week that will bless my life and studies for as long as I am here. We added a new investigator who grew up as a Jehovah's Witness. On our first meeting he said that he has always just wanted to know what the Mormons were about. So he decided to walk up to the Elders in the Belconnen area and talk to them. When they found out he lives near us, they passed him over and Elder White and myself have had the privilege to start teaching him. He definitely knows a LOT about religion and especially the bible, but has a deep craving to find the truth. He has read almost all of the Book of Mormon, has watched almost every video available on LDS.Org- even the District training videos- and still wants more. He is a very logical thinker and finds it hard to believe things just based upon faith without evidence to back it up, but His desire is still there and he loves to learn more and really enjoys meeting with us. I will admit, he has made me study into questions further than any investigator has previously. One of his concerns is the fact that the bible contradicts itself upon whether or not man truly can see God and live, and so he is not sure whether it was possible for Joseph Smith to see God the Father or not and is desirous to find out that possibility. One thing that I really love about meeting him though is the amount of boldness we use when we teach him. He asks questions others normally wouldn't but which always allow us opportunity to boldly declare that we do know the Book of Mormon to be truth and that Joseph Smith truly did see God the Father, and Jesus Christ. My favorite thing he said on our first visit goes as follows "I believe that there would be only one true way that God has given us, I am just not sure which one it is.... so, sell me." Needless to say, I am very excited to continue to teach someone like this. He definitely isn't going to just take our word for it, but will test every thing that we say to know for sure it is truth, which is exactly how it should be. We testify and invite him to come to know for himself that these things are true, but it is only by him acting that he will understand and come to know the truth. He gets that, and I am glad that he does because when he comes to gain that testimony, I believe he will be as the Lamanite converts spoken of in the Book of Mormon where it says that "as many as were converted, never turned away."
Another great miracle we had this week was David. He is a referral we have been trying to contact for several weeks, but because of exams he has been too busy to meet with us. We finally had an opportunity to meet with him and he is awesome! We met him and explained to him more about The Book of Mormon and how the Spirit works in helping one come to know the truth. He asked many great questions about how the Holy Ghost really operates and how we can know whether our answer really is from God. He too has great desire to know the truth, and even though we will only meet him once more before he goes home to China for 3 months, I believe he will meet the missionaries again upon return. He promised to read the Book of Mormon everyday and pray daily as well. He has already been keeping that comittment, so I think by the time he comes back from a holiday in China, he easily could have read the whole thing and come to know of its truth, then upon arrival back in Australia it will be easy for him to continue to prepare himself for baptism.

In studying Chapter 2 from Preach my Gospel this week, I have learned more of the importance of studying by topic- especially in answering questions. I have started a new practice to have my companion ask me one question our investigator may ask us the next day and study to answer that question. Doing this has helped me to study for my investigators more and suprisingly, as I study to answer their question, or questions they potentially would ask, I come to find that there are other questions I have that are similar and can find answers to them! So it is a win-win! Even answering a question as simple as "does God love me?" deserves more of a response than just one of us saying "yes!" But, in answering that question, we should help them discover for themselves how they can know God loves them. Thus, I will start searching into scriptures examples of God's love, and scriptures to find out how they can feel the Holy Ghost confirm to them God's love. I love studying by topic and answering questions that our investigators do have, or are likely to have- it really brings the Spirit and helps me to learn.
Elder Shafer

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 10

Dear Everyone,
Though the day is rainy and wet, there is sunshine in my soul! :) This week has been great! Noni and Amelia are so awesome! They keep progressing really well toward baptism. We had a great Family Home Evening with Amelia this week which she really enjoyed and the Spirit was really strong as we watched the Restoration DVD recounting the miracle of how Jesus Christ's church was restored. She has been reading scriptures regularly and praying daily in preparation, and we can see how the Spirit is helping her change into an even better person than she already is! :) For Noni, we organized a ward service project to help her. The lawn that she has is quite large and takes about 2 hours just for her to mow by herself, but with 5 leaders and 8 young men plus us two elders there, the whole thing was lookin spick and span within 45 minutes. She also is progressing SOOO well! I think we may even move her baptismal date one week! So please continue to pray for her as she is preparing to be baptized in the next 2-3 weeks. This past week was really SO good :) I love the work down here and hope I can stay here forever,  though I know that is not possible :( Seeing how Jesus Christ changes people is too awesome to fully explain. Noni just mentioned the other day that "she did something Jesus would be proud of." Instead of drinking with her friends after going to a concert, she decided to be the designated driver, and even though her friends said she isn't as fun when she is sober, she said that she felt good about what she had done in choosing to not drink. It is so wonderful as people come closer to Christ, they start to just change things by themselves without even needing to be invited. As they experience His love, they want to come closer and start making those small changes which bring greater, and lasting happiness. This work truly is the best and most enjoyable work on earth. 

That's all for this week, here is my letter to President Lew.
WHAT AN AWESOME WEEK!! Elder White and I are so happy with the success we have seen this past week. For one, we accomplished our goal to have every lesson with an investigator have a member present! That was really exciting since we had quite a few lessons. Though we did not quite achieve the standard of excellence in total lessons, we were very pleased with the progress we have made and are glad that together, we have taught the most lessons I have taught in one week here in Canberra. Elder White is such an awesome missionary! We are really excited for the success we will continue to have together. Especially with the people that the Lord has prepared for us to teach. Across the zone, this last week we taught more lessons with a member present than what has ever been done as far as we can see. We have several baptisms that will be coming up before the end of this month and we are quite excited about how the work is moving forward in our zone. We know it is because we have some of the best missionaries in the world right here in our zone and we are grateful for them! Each of the new areas continues to grow and is teaching more and though we need to continue to find new investigators, we are pleased that the amount of teaching per companionship is increasing. Especially, we see as we are freely sharing what the Lord blesses us with, He gives us more! For example, when the new Elders arrived in our ward, we didn't want them to just start from scratch, so we gave them several of the people we meet with regularly to help them have people to teach, seek referrals from, and help them to have confidence to progress forward, and as we have done so, it seems that more and more people keep coming who are prepared to be taught. For example, a member just brought 2 non-members to church yesterday who were SOO keen! Though it would be very easy to just jump on them and claim them ourselves, we thought it would be best to have some of the other Elders teach them and gain that experience with them. The elders came home after the lesson feeling really uplifted and said that they both accepted the commitment to be baptized, when they knew the things being taught are true. As we have done this, we see that truly, the Lord has prepared the people for the gospel, and that as we show Him our love and trust, He will continue to lead us to those who are prepared, or lead them to us. I really have grown to love seeing others be happy more than just seeing myself be happy. As those two Elders came back really excited from that Lesson and the 2 new investigators they will be able to work with, I was very glad that I had acted on the thought to allow them to teach, instead of selfishly keeping the prepared investigators for ourselves. I don't say this to boast or gloat, but It has been an interesting lesson that I have learned. As we are willing to share with others the good opportunities and experiences we can have, The Lord blesses us with more. I know that as Elder White and I continue to help each area improve and grow rather than just make ours grow to be a perfect model, we will be blessed. For me, I would much rather have it be where we are now, where we are still striving to achieve the standard of excellence in our area and seeing other areas continue to grow, rather than us be able to achieve the standard of excellence at the expense of other areas by keeping all of our investigators and less actives we visited before adding a new area. The day will truly be joyous when we see that each of our areas in this ward is achieving the Standard of excellence. I know that it is achievable and will be done as we continue to work dilligently and with faith. Thank you so much for this opportunity to serve here. I love to see the blessings that continuously flow. Even though we are not perfect, I am glad the Lord shows His mercy and continues to give us gifts and moments of great happiness. We are very confident that we will continue to see the Lord blessing us and these wonderful people here. I am so excited for Noni and Amelia, both are preparing for baptism before the end of this month. Miracles are happening in the Canberra zone! We are especially excited to have received that personal referral from you and will get in contact with him today and set plans to go up to Goulburn as soon as possible.

This week, I studied more about helping our investigators receive revelation through prayer. I was really enjoying studying deeper and understanding clearly how exactly to help our investigators receive answers to their prayers. Many times they do not understand what all is needed on their part to receive an answer. For example, I think many people neglect to understand that they can only receive an answer when they have the faith to receive one. They may mistakingly feel that they can just wish it will happen, and then IF if does, it will give them faith, but they must have the faith first in order to see the answer. Also, many times we expect the answer to be bigger or different than what it really will be. It is by recognizing the small and simple answers that we can come to know we have a close relationship with God. Why would He shout at us when all He needs to do is whisper? If I am far from someone, I will need to raise my voice, but if I am close, I will speak more quietly. The same I feel is with God and answering our prayers. He shouldn't need to shake us or send us an angel like He did for Saul or Alma, but as we are willing to listen with open hearts and minds, He will answer us through the Holy Ghost and we can know He is closer than what we had first imagined. I am excited to continue to help my investigators and the Less active members we work with see how much the Lord loves them and how they can continue to receive specific answers as they ask specific questions. 
Love you all!!
Elder Shafer

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 9

Hello Everyone!!!!
Sorry this week's email is really short, had some other things that interrupted email time. Been a FANTASTIC week though!!!! :) Wish I could write more about it, but here is President's letter:
What an amazing week! We were able to set a baptismal date with our new investigator, Noni. She is the one that was a referral from We had dinner and then a lesson afterward at a member's home. Even though the kids kept running in and out, it was a great lesson. We helped to answer her questions regarding the Plan of Salvation. She asked a wonderful question right when we were beginning. She sasked "What is the Atonement, I don't quite understand how that works. I know that because Jesus Christ died for us, all of us will live again, but how does Him dying for us allow us to be clean from our sin?" Such a great question, and one that we were thrilled to help her understand. She is very interested in learning more about the gospel. Later that night, we texted her just saying thanks again for allowing us to teach and to say we are excited to see her at church and she replied that she couldn't stop smiling about the thought that she will be getting baptized. I have never seen someone so prepared and just ready to learn. Her and her daughters will be benefitted so much from the gospel. She even invited her sister to come to church the following Sunday, but she wasn't able to attend yesterday. Hopefully this week she can. We are going over there this Wednesday night with the YM to help mow her lawn, supposedly it is HUGE and takes her 2 hours to mow by herself. So we got the ward involved in some service to help her and hopefully her sisters will be inclined to come and meet the YM. Could help them start some good friendships and desire to come to church as well! I have loved so much more being able to coordinate work with the members and have them help us in misionary work all the time. Elder White and I have really been trying to involve members in everything that we do, whether it be lessons, service, finding... anything! It has really started paying off as well, the ward continues to grow in excitement for missionary work.

This week, I studied more about Revelation Through Church Attendance. It was so good! I rated myself at an average of 4.5/5. One area I have been trying to work on and I have seen how important it is, is to inform the teachers, auxillary members, and the Bishop on who is planning on coming to church and making sure there is good fellowship to help them feel welcome the whole time through. As we have been making a lot of calls to different people and asking them to help our investigators, it gets them excited and lessens the stress on us A LOT! We can get ready in the morning not having to worry about who will say hello, who will be teaching and so on because we have already coordinated it. When the teachers know about non-members coming, they will expect them and can welcome them instead of it being a surprise, when ward members know we expect them to specifically take care of one person or a family and help them feel comfortable, we find that they are early to church, have a place reserved and are anxiously waiting whereas sometimes they come in after the meeting has started or just sit by themselves toward the back. Helping people create friendships and come outside of their "zone" is great! Our investigators really appreciate having so many people welcome them, but also having that one close friend to help answer their questions and help guide them is invaluable. So glad to be here and to be working with these wonderful people!!! Missionary work is the greatest!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 8

Dear Everyone,
This week was great, have to drive for 3 hours now, Love you all!!
Sorry that this letter may be a bit shorter, we are typing it up quickly before we have to travel up for Mission Leadership Conference here in about 20 minutes. This week was fantastic!!! Honestly one of the best, if not the best week I have had in Canberra. Though it was a mad house figuring out how to move flats, split the area so that we all have equal work to do, and trying to organize Belconnen Elders with work as well even though they need to temporarily live outside of their ward area, it has been great indeed! I have learned so many lessons just in this week alone. One of which is how to help people help themselves. To often I feel when we are not sure of what we do, we immediately go to someone else for help instead of going through what is the right process. We should take just a minute, and think of what we should do. Seek guidance through prayer, and then look to others for help if the matter is not resolved. Another lesson I learned this week is the importance of budgetting and setting up a reserve. At the beginning of the month, we were not expecting this big change to happen of moving flats and transporting other elders to where they needed to go, and as such, my companion and I had to be quite stingy with our kilometers and it put us in some situations that would have been dealt with easier had we set aside a "reserve fund" of kilometers and mission funds. But I guess if we could live life backwards, we could do it perfectly. All lessons to be learned and applied in the future! :) Elder White and I have already seen some great miracles together.  I am not sure if you know, but Elder White and I were actually companions in the MTC for 6 weeks. When I had been there for 6 weeks, he came in and replaced my other companion since he had just left for Hong Kong. So when I saw we were companions again I knew we would have great success together. He is SUCH a hard worker. He also is really humble and LOVES being a missionary. I know he will do great work down here leading the Canberra Zone. His first few days were as crazy as mine but we have seen some great miracles already. Like we called and informed you; the lady named Noni who looked on and requested the address of the meeting house said she would be baptized on the first meeting! She commited to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know it is true daily, to attend church in 2 days time, and to meet us again at a members home this coming Wednesday. She also mentioned she had a sister who she would ask to come and join us next time. Seeing her come to church yesterday with her 2 little kids was fantastic! She has 2 little daughters, a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old. The ward just latched onto her really well and welcomed her with open arms. Her older daughter loved the nursery, and the younger one..... well she was a bit noisy but I was happy that Noni still stayed for all 3 hours and really enjoyed it. But wait, theres more!! She texted us that evening saying that she would love to bring her sister along to church this following Sunday! :) We are so excited for her! I wish there was more time to tell you in detail about the miracles, but in short Tenari (the Samoan investigator who's step-father is a minister up in Sydney) said she would read the Book of Mormon everyday and that her step Father's heart is softening towards her coming to church with us. The Chinese family we are working with came to our lesson right before church and were planning to stay but then the husband got called into work and they left before letting us know so we could figure out a ride... that was a bummer, but they were all there and ready! :) Another miracle that came from them as well though was their friend Heiting came to the lesson, and though the family did not stay for church, she did! So many miracles are happening down here President, Elder White and I are thrilled to be working down here!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 7

Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been a big change in a lot of ways, but things are going really well. There are always ups and downs in life, but thankfully, the gospel of Christ is always constant. There is much that I wrote to President today that is specific for him, so I will not copy my email to him this week. I am doing well, and things are going great here now. I am back being companions with Elder White, my companion from the MTC, and will write more next week. He has already finished emailing and the other elders are waiting for me to go. Love you all so much! :) My testimony has definitely grown this past week and I am grateful for the testimony that I have!!!
Love you,
Elder Shafer

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Love at Home

Here is Elder Shafer singing Love At Home with a few other elders in Canberra.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 6

Dear family and friends,
As you will notice, my letter to President was much longer today than normal. I am having a great day and just felt like writing heaps to him I guess. Normally I don't write in quite the same depth to him as normal, but I just felt like getting my thoughts out onto paper I guess, so my comments outside of the letter to him probably wont be all that long. It was a great week though :) The missionary work down here is just fantastic. This month alone we will be having 50 new missionaries coming in...... that will be almost half as many as we already have! So many new, fresh missionaries that will definitely need some training, but will add such excitement to the mission. I am already stoked for it! :) General Conference was last weekend in the states, but they re-broadcast it here this Saturday and Sunday, so I will wait until this weekend to watch that. Really excited for it!! :)
Things are great here! :) Glad to hear things at home are good as well!!

Here is my letter:
The weeks continue to fly by! I can hardly believe it is already General Conference again this upcoming weekend. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the time goes, just as you state almost everytime we are gathered in a group of missionaries. This week we didn't see a lot of lessons taught since so many people are either gone for the holidays, or preparing for their finals coming up. It seems almost every reply is "I'm busy until the end of October." But we don't let this dissuade us, we will keep pushing on and finding the Lord's elect :) This week, as we called you and shared, we were able to have our first baptismal date! Amelia, the referral we received a couple weeks previous committed to be baptized on the 24th of November. Her partner, who is a member up in Sydney, will be moving down in November and so we wanted to set the date to where she could be baptized by him while he is down here. They are planning to be married in the near future, and so we look forward to seeing this family be sealed in the temple within the next year and some months. What a great blessing it will be for their family! She is so awesome! I will relate the teaching experience of the night:
We went over with the Larkins, the Senior couple who run the Institute and YSA activities down here in the Canberra area since we knew that she would be involved in their activities and institute as well. They were more than happy to come and we all enjoyed a nice discussion on the floor together (her furniture hasn't come in yet, but we were able to sit on this 1,000 year old tongan mat made from a special tree bark which was painted and really cool. ) Although we were sitting on the floor, she wasn't in any bit of a hurry. We started with prayer and then she mentioned that she had done some research online about the Book of Mormon which we had given her a copy of on our first visit. She had found one of the mormon messages about a Bishop in London and his testimony of the Book of Mormon really inspired her. So she decided to write it down and read it to us! :) As she related his testimony, there were several verses, including Moroni's promise of how we can know the book is true which had really touched her and she mentioned that she felt the book was full of very powerful teachings. As we continued to explain The First Vision and more about Joseph Smith restoring Jesus Christ's church to the Earth, the Spirit was present and she was very excited to start reading the Book of Mormon to gain a witness for herself of it's truthfulness. Toward the end of the lesson, we invited her to be baptized on the 24th of November and she said that she would. After the lesson, Sister Larkin stayed and helped Amelia download the scriptures onto her ipad since she wanted to have a copy of the Bible, and Book of Mormon, and Elder Ah Fook and I literally were jumping and running back to the car shouting "We set a date! We set a date!!" We were so excited that she was going to be baptized I think we may have gotten a little carried away, but it was just such an exciting time for us! We have struggled the whole time we have been together to commit anyone to be baptized on a certain date. Everyone we meet we invite them to be baptized, but then they are not willing to commit to a date, but she was different. She is very prepared and we are privileged to work with her.

Some other things that happened this week: We had zone training meeting last Friday and afterwards, I had the privilege to go and work with Elder Pederson and Elder Roberts. Both are still in their 12 weeks training program and are being trained by Elder Farley. It was so great to work with them! New missionaries are my favorite to work with because they always have energy to go and work and always want to know how to improve. They ask heaps of questions and seek advice and so it allows me the opportunity to relate miracles to them. I have come to learn more and more that honestly, there are no tactics or skills that can make up for just opening your mouth with faith. One of the most common questions I get is in the form of "what do I do if....." For example, "what do I do if someone is walking away from me." or "what do I do if they respond this way....." and so on. Many times, in our quest to be more effective, we are trying to find the "one right way" Well, the more that I have shared with them, the more I realize that there is no "one right answer" there is no perfect question, perfect scenario or perfect approach. The simple answer is that in every situation, you open your mouth, and have faith that the Lord will fill it. Sure, there are things that over time we learn what may be bad questions, ineffective approaches and such, but by and large, everything that we do and learn comes from experience in following Preach My Gospel and following the Spirit. I have read Preach My Gospel several times and have yet to find a phrase that states "when tracting and the door opens, begin by saying....." Or "in response to someones questions about the afterlife explain...." This is what I have come to realize I need to continue to focus on and help others in the zone to become better at. Study Preach my Gospel so the Spirit can teach us how to be more effective. Then when you are out on the Lord's errand, trust that you will know what to say and what to do. While on trade offs, we were down in the city before and after grabbing some lunch. While walking on the street, I like to hand out pass along cards as an easy way to hopefully start a conversation or to at very least allow someone an opportunity to learn more later when they can look on the website.  Elder Roberts was quite funny as he kept giving me challenges to see how I would go and approach someone. It was a great opportunity for him to learn as well as he kept giving me specific people to go and talk to and for him to see that no matter who it is or whatever the situation, we can open our mouths and share the gospel. My favorite one was when we were waiting at a light and a group of about 8 people starts walking up behind us, he turns to me and says "Okay, I want to see how you would do this, go and talk to that group." While I didn't get a chance to talk to all of them, I was able to talk to several while walking and then one of them and I had quite a good chat until she had to follow her friends the other direction. While I was talking to her, he and Elder Pederson were able to talk to the others in the group and it was a perfect teaching opportunity. Thankfully, I have come to the point where I am not afraid to talk to people and I love to help others come to that as well. As we open our mouths in love, we find that all fear is gone.

Many of the members we associate with are afraid to open their mouths in this respect, and so I hope to help them also come to find that opening their mouths to share the gospel should not be a frightening thing. In my time here as a missionary, I think I can honestly say the less than 1% of the people I have talked to have responded in an angry or negative fashion to me and so I know that our friends and neighbors and family will not either. If they truly respect who we are then they will not disrespect what is dear to us and our invitations to them. I sometimes think of invitations to learn about the gospel like inviting a friend to a favorite movie of yours. Perhaps they will not be interested in the genre, perhaps they will have other plans, perhaps they have already seen it and do not want to watch it again, but then, perhaps they will say yes and will enjoy the movie with you and afterwards be very glad you invited them. You never know until you invite :) The same with learning more about Jesus Christ's restored gospel and church.  Perhaps they are not interested in Him, perhaps they are too busy at present, perhaps they already have been to church or met with missionaries and do not want to learn more, but then, perhaps, they will accept and be very grateful that you helped them to come closer to Christ and find more happiness in their lives. I hope I can continue to start and fuel the fire of missionary work here in Canberra. The world desperately needs the gospel of Jesus Christ, and so I am glad I can be a part of helping it spread to every soul who will accept it.
Love you all!
Elder Shafer

Thought you would like some pictures we took recently as well.
We had a zone p-day up at this mountain which looks over all of Canberra and decided to make a giant pyramid. It was intense and awesome! :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 5

Dear Everyone,

Yesterday was Labor day in AU, so that is why we had to email today since the library was closed for the National holiday. Also, we drove up to the mission office yesterday (a nice 3 hour drive) so that we could have mission leadership council last night. All of the zone leaders and the training sisters gathered together and we discussed how we are doing as a mission. The meeting was 5 hours long but very beneficial! Plus, Sister Lew's (our mission President's wife) made some DELICIOUS Butter chicken. I ate two giant plates of it plus naan bread and an ice cream to top it off. I felt about ready to pop afterwards, but it was worth it! Anyways, it was a great meeting, and well worth the drive. Now, we are about to drive back so I had better make this letter short, but just wanted to send you my letter I send to President Lew each week:

This week has been a great one! It seems like we have spent a lot of time in meetings and trainings since we had Preach My Gospel studies with both companionships of sisters in our zone in addition to Zone Conference, but in all situations we have been uplifted and learned a lot so it has been great! We Also witnessed a fantastic miracle in regards to our relationship between the Bishop and missionaries improving. In the past, I guess the relationship between missionaries and the Bishop has been a little shaky, but when the Bishop invited us over for dinner at his home, we made it our number one objective to help him realize we are here to work and serve him and his ward. We saw great success with it! During the dinner, we were discussing problems that he is seeing in the ward and talking about how we can help to overcome them. After a while he finally slowed down and said "well Elders, what do you need help with?" I took this great opportunity to explain that we are here to help him. We are not here to add to his previously describes list of problems, but we are here to help him fix them. We mentioned we have a great desire to continue to teach and bring many of the less active members back to church and he replied that he had actually just earlier compiled a list of specific members that he felt would accept us into their homes and that could be benefited by more help from the missionaries. This is a great way for us to not only help the members, but also to show the Bishop that we can be trusted and accomplish his goals and desires. The next day, he invited us to come early in the morning and play basketball with the ward as part of their ward activity. We showed up and continued to increase the relationship with members in a more casual way. For me, these two events were great miracles in helping us to grow closer to the members. Because it is the capitol, most members work for the government and are VERY busy with their careers and family. Our desire is to help them see that missionaries make their lives less stressful and more enjoyable, and I think that we are starting to get that message across. This excites me because as President Monson has stated: Member work is the most effective way to work. The ward is starting to get excited for missionary work and we know that this will continue to grow as we continue to serve and fan the flame of missionary work. Another great example is when we had dinner at a newlywed's home. During dinner the wife was asking what miracles we had seen this week, what was the best part of missionary work and so forth. We can see that she is very excited to be involved. When we asked who she knew that could benefit from the gospel she replied "well, our neighbor next to us is a pretty lonely man, just living by himself. Our neighbor across from us recently had someone pass away in their family I think, and there's another friend I have who has asked me a question or two about the church." We were so excited to see these wonderful opportunities to allow others to have the gospel in their lives. Knowing about life after this blesses us with peace and comfort. The Gospel brings hope and love to those who feel alone in this dark world. I am so excited to be a missionary and I pray I can continue to help others gain that same desire and energy to bring about this work of salvation among Heavenly Father's children.

As for the status of my planner. I think my planning abilities have improved a lot while being down here in Canberra, but I wouldn't say I quite have a celestial planner yet. One thing I would like to improve is my hand writing and neatness. The information is there, goals, names, addresses and lessons, but I need to take a minute more time to make it look neat and organized. This has been a goal of mine and one that I have plans to fix. With the help of my companion, I can accomplish it. He has been willing to help me to re-learn how to write neatly haha. It actually has been a good experience for us to do together, just practicing how to write neatly.

Love you all!

Elder Shafer

Canberra Zone Week 4

Hello Everyone!!
I wanted to announce that I have a new mission call!!! I have been called to labor in the Sydney Australia South mission for the next 12 months! No, I didn't really get a new mission call, but I have been thinking a lot about how I can avoid the tendency that many missionaries get to just "cruise" at about 1 year out. Many times I hear of missionaries who become complacent with their lives because they are experienced and know how to find, teach, etc.... so they just cruise for a while and then 6 months before they go home they realize... WHOA I go home soon, I had better kick it back into gear and work harder than I have. So, I have decided to just restart. I am not half way finished with my mission, but I am just starting my new mission. It is only for a period of 12 months, and so I have a lot of work to do in such a short time! I really dont want to let my past successes and accomplishments allow me to "take a break" and just relax for a bit, so I am going to trick myself into thinking that I am just starting over again. It's time to restart new study plans and goals, time to re-evaluate my teaching skills, how I am doing in developing Christ-like attributes, and the list goes on and on! :) I am excited to start my "new mission" and accomplish as much as the Lord has for me to do in this short amount of time.
We are about to go and have a district P-day so I will close with my letter to my mission President:
This week has been a fantastic week for sure! We saw so many miracles as we kept working on always inviting and opening our mouths. One of the greatest experiences was when we were going to visit a less active man. We walked into his apartment building and another man was walking down the stairs with his bike, we said hello, he saw our badges and said "Oh, go to that door right there, they need God in their lives!" then hurried off while we shouted back to him a thank you. We were pretty surprised, and so I feel bad we didn't get a chance to talk with him more, but we knocked on the door that he pointed to and they invited us in! They laughed when we told them their friend pointed us to them and said he was always playing pranks and jokes on them. I guess this was supposed to be another one of them, but as it turns out, they really are needing some change and help from God in their lives. The boyfriend recently had 3 friends and a brother pass away, and the girlfriend was really curious about where we go after life as well. We shared with them pamphlets on the Plan of Salvation and bore our testimonies of life after this. The boyfriend was really talkative, I think because he had been drinking a little bit prior to us coming, so we didn't get much of a chance to teach, but we set a return appointment with them for the next day and committed them to read the pamphlets we gave them. When we came back, it was only the girlfriend home so we couldn't go in, but she said they had both read the pamphlets and would love to have us come back Tuesday. It was a great miracle we were able to experience :)

Also, this week we have had great blessings come in regards to referrals. We received 3 referrals from Church Headquarters. One of them, Amelia, is so prepared! Her partner who lives in Sydney is a member, and encouraged her to go to and request missionaries to come and share with her about his beliefs. They are preparing for marriage, and upon us meeting her, she said that she "wants to convert, but wants to understand what it is that her future husband believes and make sure she believes it as well." We were really suprised to hear such a great answer, pure, simple, and true. Often we forget how much of an impact our examples can make. She loves this man and wants to be with him, but also wants to make sure she has the same beliefs that he does. She is really sincere and said she would be baptized when she knew the Church is true. I am so grateful for the people the Lord has prepared to receive of His gospel at this time. There are many who are prepared, and the Lord is in the work helping us to find them, or for them to find us. 

Love you all!! :)
Elder Shafer

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 3

Dear Family,
All I have time for this week is to post my email to President. We had to clean the flat and then got here as quick as we could, but still only had about 25 minutes to read and write emails.
This week has just flown by! Elder Urbina and Elder Tilini are great additions to the ward and they are getting accustomed very quickly. This week we saw a great miracle in a recent convert of ours bringing her non-member friend to a lesson and she became our new investigator! We were planning to meet with Lois, our recent convert, and when we got there she said "Oh, I brought a friend along today, is that okay?" We were so excited to see her! She is just great! She has attended a Christian school for 10 years in Hong Kong, and so she understands who Christ is, but lacks a testimony that He actually died and was resurrected. She had been preparing for baptism in another church previously, but fell out of contact with her friends in that church, and said that she would like to prepare for baptism again! It made us very excited to see such a great miracle, especially when we are striving hard to find new investigators and to ALWAYS seek referrals. It was a tender mercy for sure.

This week from studying PMG chapter 1, I learned more about my role to help full families come into the church and how we can help even the young single adult members we interact with determine how the Gospel will play a role in their family life. So many of the less actives we have were baptized when younger, then married a non-member whom either is not interested, or does not support them in their church callings and beliefs. This awareness has made me think more about how I can continue to encourage the young single adults we have to share the gospel more with their family and friends, and for the families we talk to also to invite families, not just individuals, to activities, church, and other ways in which their whole family can enjoy the blessings that come from living a Christ-centered life. One thing that stuck out to me is just that plain and simple truth, that "happiness in this life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the principles of the restored gospel." I have seen it time and again, how much hope, happiness, and peace comes from the knowledge that we have about the restored gospel. The purpose of this life. What happens after this life, and how we can be more successful in this life. It is such a precious gift I would like to share with everyone!

Sorry this letter will be a bit shorter, we have to go and teach a lesson in 2 minutes to a former investigator. Or, also known as our next baptismal candidate :)
Love you all!
Elder Shafer