Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sydney Week 6

Hey, its me again! :)
Wow, I have SO much time to write today haha! First off, as you may have heard, we set an all-time record for heat in Sydney this last friday. 46 degrees celcius. Not sure what exactly that is in Farenheit, but when you find out, just imagine walking in suit pants and a shirt and tie for 2 hours in it :) Lets just say it's a day I wont forget haha! This week has been really good but has had some unexpected things as well. Guess that's the way life goes! Our zone needs to keep working hard on accomplishing our goals. We are quite behind right now and it's hard to see the effect it's having on our zone. I think sometimes we need to be given more carrot rather than stick. I've learned some good tips for helping people improve their performance and output. I've started to learn that theres a certain tactic it takes in order to still be a leader and an example when you have no leadership position or role. If I can be so arrogant to say.... I think I have been blessed with the gift of leadership. Some may disagree, but as I've seen being here, it's made me look into the past of my life and I think that is one of the gifts that has been given me, is to naturally be a leader. I dont think I have to be the leader or use it for power or position, but unless there is already a strong leader I can follow, I naturally feel that I try to take upon myself the responsibility of leading others to be better. This has been something that has needed special care and attention here though. Because this week i've learned more the "rubber band" analogy :) 

Here it is...... a rubber band at first isnt able to stretch near it's full capacity when you first take it out of the bag. And thus, if you immediately try to stretch it really far, it will snap. But as you over time keep stretching it and letting it relax, then stretch again, over time, it can stretch a lot more and is able to last and be more durable. I think this is the same way with people. If we constantly are stretching them and trying to pull every ounce that we can out of them right in the beginning, they will snap. But if over time, we stretch them by giving constructive feedback and recorrection, and then allow them to metaphorically relax by telling them all the successful things they do, they are able in the long run to stretch a lot more and reach a better potential. Because we all know that the more stretched a rubber band is, the further it will go when we release it. I have been able to observe how other people lead and see the good things they do, but also what I would maybe add or change. 1 of those things would definitely be to praise people for the good that they do. So many times we when just look at the numbers or logistics, it's very easy to find the faults and not look at what people are doing right, but when you take more time and find out why those numbers or the facts are that way, we can truly solve the problem. For example, one of the things we are all working on is getting the members more involved in fellowshipping the investigators and helping them feel comfortable at all the activities. We have realized as of late however that very often, the members are "burnt out" they are already busy with their own work, schooling, and personal lives, and then are trying also to help us by being friends with investigators, joining us for discussions, supporting the activities we have set up for investigators, and it just becomes too much for them. We found that we, were not giving enough thanks and enough time for people to relax just a bit and praise them for the good that they do in order to help them to reach more of their potential. As we have started to change this, and try to focus more on loving and supporting the members in addition to our investigators, we have found that the members have started wanting to help, rather than just being willing to help, and the work presses forward. This same analogy I think I need to keep using and keep in mind with my companion and myself. We get along pretty well, but sometimes one or both of us needs to stretch a little bit more and we need to make sure we are careful to stretch each other without making us snap, and then pouring on the good things that each of us do and the success we've been able to have.

Elder Wan taught a really good training this last Friday in which he asked: How do you let other people know you love them? In thinking about that, I answered that when I love people, I am willing to sacrifice for them. That is one of the ways that I show I love someone. I think that is part of why I am here on my mission is to learn the lesson of sacrifice. Sometimes, it is hard for me to still feel successful when I get home at night, look over what we did for the day, and realize that all the lessons we taught were in other people's areas so they don't count for our numbers ( a lot of times the other missionaries are double booked, or have an appointment and then pull someone off the street for another appointment and so we help them teach) or that even though I went out finding for several hours throughout the day, there wasn't anyone who wanted to learn more. It is at these times I have to realize that sacrifice is what truly matters. When I love the Lord, I am willing to sacrifice my time and my efforts for Him, and allow him to do his work. I need to realize that when I love people I am concerned about them and their progress, no matter who is teaching them or the fact that me spending 45 minutes to teach them won't help me to directly accomplish my goals for that day. And sometimes, I need to sacrifice what I feel is the best method or what I would like to try in order to keep love and unity in the companionship. It is a difficult tactic to learn of how to try to do your very best and not waste a single minute of the day, without pulling other people to the point where they snap. Don't get me wrong, the missionaries in our zone are very good and I love and respect each one of them so much. I think that all of us have different times where we droop a little bit. In those times, it seems contagious that if one person droops, or just "takes 5 minutes to rest" that it soon becomes longer and more people following suit. That is why it has been really important for me personally to try my best to never have those moments. I honestly dont feel that I can put my head to rest at night feeling that I did everything I could have if I let myself just sit down to rest for a minute or two. I've had people here warn me to make sure I don't get too burnt out by working too hard, but I think there is a difference between overexertion, and doing the Lord's work to the fullest. My purpose is to do the latter. 

It reminds me of my talk that I gave right before entering the MTC on duty, and the phrase "God is easy to please, but very hard to satisfy." I think our Father in Heaven is glad when we do anything that is right. He is pleased when we try hard and do good, but in order to satisfy Him and His expectations is a higher level. That is my goal here on the Mission. The question was asked last week "what do you want to have accomplished by the time you finish you mission." I think I truly want to satisfy God's expectations for me. It is a very high mark since He expects much of me, but that is my goal. I have been so blessed to have this opportunity to come and serve here. In regards to sacrifice, I feel that the mission gives me so many blessings and opportunities that it's the most one-sided gift exchange I've ever seen haha. I sacrifice my time and exertion, and the Lord gives me back strength to work, joy to encourage me, love, peace, comfort, guidance, knowledge..... the list goes on and on. The amount that I sacrifice compared to how much I receieve is unexplainable. I need to always keep this in mind as I continue to work.

I am sorry if this letter was really random and if it doesn't apply to anyone reading it, but I am grateful I could write it because It has helped me a lot. Sometimes, I need to listen to myself and my own advice haha! :) and my own ecouragement. So if none of this makes sense, as least you all know I was benefitted from this because it's truly impossible to explain all my thoughts or feelings in an email. Next week may be a more interesting letter, we will see :)

Thank you for all the love and encouragement you give me. Please pray for Noy that she will continue to prepare for her baptism on the 23'rd of next month. Also, please keep in your prayers Edward, Cindy, Simon, Donna, Bee, Sue, Yuteng, and Danny. I could explain more of their situations next time, but I had the idea come to me this week that a prayer list for my investigators would definitely help. Out of time.
Love you all!!!!
Elder Shafer

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sydney Week 5

Hello from Hot and Muggy Australia! :)
This week, set an all time record for the hottest it's ever been at midnight last..... Tuesday here. It was pretty insane haha! Our last pday we went out and saw the Giant duck. It was literally the hottest I've ever felt in my life last tuesday. It got up to 43 degrees celcius which is around 112 farenheit and was HUMIDDDDDDD!!!! For lunch, we decided to stop into a vietnamese restuarant, and guess what I ordered?? Spicey beef noodle soup. What was I thinking?????? Spicey while it's over 110 outside? Obviously my brain wasn't working because I was sweating like no other eating my lunch hahahahahahah! But all is good now. It's cooled down quite a bit and even though the nights are still pretty warm, I'm able to sleep pretty well.  

So I need to say thank you to all who have sent me money for Christmas and at other times. I'm very bad at writing personal thank you letters because postage is pretty expensive (2 bucks for one letter to the US from AU, but only 1.05 for US to AU??? Not sure how that works out...) but thank you for the money because I actually needed to buy something this week with money from home. My athletic shoes I had in the MTC were destroyed by the end of the MTC and so I left them there. When I arrived here in AU the previous elder had left his and they worked okay for a little while, but it was time for me to get my own pair instead of old, stinky, hand-me-down shoes haha :) So I went to the cheapest place you can around here and still get good shoes and I bought some nice Puma's that remind me of Mark everytime I put them on for my morning run to go play touch. So thank you for the donations for Christmas from family (Jay and Sharon and Linda and Jim) and others, because things here in the City are a lot more expensive than I'm used to, and even though the shoes were 50% off, they are still the most expensive shoes I've ever bought haha :) But I really like them and they are MUCH more comfortable than the past shoes I was using to make due. I forgot to bring my journal for this week, but I will try to think back on specific experiences that happened:
- I'm not sure if my street contacting is getting better or worse.... This last week I was contacting people and talked to one person who must have been an ex-sailor and currently worked as a plumber from Texas (Evan may be the only one that get's that specific reference :)) because not even joking, every third word was a cuss word. But anyways... I was talking to him for just a minute and then He invited me to have a beer with him and his mate haha! So I don't know if I'm getting better in the fact that I'm willing to talk to everyone and invite all to learn, or if I'm getting worse because people aren't able to see my role here as a missionary lol! I'll need to do some more thinking on this. But I really do try to talk to everyone because I've had 2 different people talk to me and ask why we as missionaries "target the Asians." I'm always nicer in my response but I want to say its because they are pretty much the only people who ever stop and talk haha! The natives here usually either just cuss you away, are too busy, or are a mixture of both :) But I still love being able to go and talk to ALL people so that It cannot be said of me that I target a particular group because the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn't have any familiarity to race or ethnicity.
- Not sure how much I told you all about Simon. He's the Underground Christian from Pakistan. It's very interesting to meet with Him because He has such strong faith in Christ, yet he lives with 7 other people who most likely would persecute, and maybe even physically harm him if they knew he was christian. I am so grateful that we have religious freedom in our country.
- This saturday after the baptism of Jin (another missionary companionship's investigator) we all decided to go to "3 mamas" a really good thai restaurant in the City and I honestly ate HEAPS of food haha! The chinese people we were with were so suprised at how much I ate because for some reason, I was just absolutely starving and couldn't get full. I had 2 servings of pad thai, and 2 servings of masmun curry, 1 of red curry and 1 of green curry! hahaha, I was stuffed when I was done, but it was so worth the 15 bucks I had to pay for that feast! that's the nice thing about eating in larger groups is that everyone just pitches in the same amount and then you all just share dishes.
I am able to see more and more how awesome my companion is. The more he has gotten to know me, the more willing he is to open up and talk about Himself as a person. A lot of times we are able to share very cool experiences together and this helps to bring us together so much. We do speak Cantonese with each other as often as we can, especially when it's just He and I. He keeps helping me learn and keeps the laughing to a minimum when I say something really wrong and sometimes embarrasing in Cantonese. He's a very good companion to have and He's very patient which makes him a great trainer as well.
Love you all!!
Elder Shafer

The lego characters are who we do practice teaching to in the morning haha! When  Elder Wan and I need to practice our transitions.... we teach legos which can't talk back. it works out really well!  :) gotta be creative!

Also, here is proof that people really do eat kangaroo here because you can buy it at your local supermarket :) 

So here are some pictures of the Giant duck. It was over 50 feet tall! Pretty random but pretty funny too.

Also saw some random person just hanging out on the swing that I thought was an interesting way to relax... so I thought id grab a candid shot :)

The other pictures are in the Queen victoria building which is a giant mall here. The clock towers are really cool though! They hang from the ceiling and they have different scenes from AU's history etched into them and every hour they play music and the pieces act out a scene from history. I thought it was unique and interesting. 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sydney Week 4

G'day mates! :b
Wow, I have a lot more time to write today :) woot! :) Sorry I don't have any new pictures this week. I am going to have some new cool ones next week though because today we are going to see a massive artificial duck that has been shipped into the harbor here. Not exactly sure why, but it's gotten quite the attention, so I figured I had better be part of this historic event of seeing the world's largest "rubby duck in the water." lol! So for this week, I decided I would bring my journal and share some excerpts from there because I often can't remember all that has happened over the past week. Heres a couple:
1/2/13- Best day of the mission by heaps! Witnessed tons of miracles today! First off, Elder Wan pulled off a golden investigator from the street and we were able to give him a tour of the chapel and talk to him about our special message. His name is Simon and he's and underground Christian from Pakistan. His family is Christian, but Christianity is a pretty scary religion to practice there, that's why they have to worship in underground churches and stuff. Pretty crazy, but President Howes has said that we are able to teach HIm since his family is Christian (because of some religious barriers, those of certain other faiths- particularly Islam and Judeism- have to obtain specific consent before we are allowed to teach them, because people that learn of Christian beliefs when belonging to some faiths are honestly faced with death threats) So we were able to meet with him and get to know him better and he wants to continue to meet with us and attend church with us. Also, I set up an appointment with someone who speaks Cantonese! Her name is Donna and she is from Southern China where they speak cantonese. I have been praying for someone to teach in Cantonese for some time now because I really want to use my language ability in my lessons.
1/3/3- Something really cool happened today. I was kinda frustrated at not knowing where to focus my attention on studying Cantonese. I decided I should pray again and ask for help and guidance, and the thought immediately came to read "Preach my Gospel" out loud in Cantonese. After doing this, I have been able to see how much it has helped me. I needed this answer to prayer!
This one is my Favorite :) this is literally the whole thing I wrote that night: 
1/5/13- I'm flat out exhausted today. Lots of finding in the heat has tired me out a lot. Write more tomorrow, but a pretty good day.
^ that day was especially HOT. I honestly felt like my feet were on fire when walking on the street haha! It was good though, all part of the experience
Hopefully you'll enjoy some of my excerpts from my journal that I write home, because there is a lot that happens during each and every day, and it's hard to remember all of it when I sit down to write. We started a new reading goal for the whole mission at the beginning of this year. Our mission President wants us all to follow a plan to allow every missionary to read the Book of Mormon again by April. As we do so, He wants us to use a fresh new copy and to only mark references to the Savior and to His ministry and Sacrifice. This has been SO cool to do thus far! I have known since I started reading the Book of Mormon how much it talks about the Savior, however, I was able to see it more starkly when the MAIN thing I'm looking for is references to Him. I'm able to see how many "1-liners" there are that the prophets use to talk about Him. It has allowed me a much greater and broader view of how many times Prophets in ancient times and modern have talked about the Savior.
So regarding Transfers- something crazy happened this week. EVERYONE stayed in our Area. all 12 Elders except the Mini-missionary, who is done with his 6 week mini-mission. Everyone was so surprised because it rarely ever happens that all the missionaries stay in their assigned areas in a zone. But it's very cool because all of the training we have received particular to this zone and how to improve here will be able to be used in full force by everyone here. The longer I am here, the more I realize how special and specific this area is. People keep telling me that the work here is so different, but it didn't all set in at first how different it is. One of the things I love most to be honest is teaching English Class. I love this opportunity to help others with something that is really important to them and to provide community service for other people. I love teaching and helping people come closer to Christ first and foremost, however, English class is also very enjoyable to teach because it is an area where I can see people's quick improvements and I am able to help people a lot. It's really funny to try to explain some of the idioms that we use and that people want to learn. Also, setting the record for tongue twisters is pretty enjoyable too! :) Everyone in the class tried to say "don't put the bitter butter in the batter or the batter will be bitter and the butter wont make it any better." And after everyone had tried, the other teacher, from Japan had me be timed and I said it in..... I think 3.87 seconds? something like that.... so mabye ya'll can try it at home and see if you can beat that record :b you probably can, but it was really funny to hear everyone applaud and roar and be amazed at me saying the tongue twister haha! 

I love the Chinese people here. All chinese people are especially funny in their mannerisms and just the way they express things. Part of it is because English is their second language so they use really funny words to describe things sometimes, it makes me smile though not only because of what they say, but because I know how hard it is for them to learn. It makes me think of how odd my Cantonese must sound to other people. My companion and I keep growing closer and closer together over the course of knowing each other. It's been interesting to learn and grow for myself as well. Everyday I feel that I'm learning more about myself- how I learn, how I act, what my true character is. Overall the experience of the mission has continued to get better and better with each and every day. It has been really cool to see how I have been able to continue to distance myself from the world, while everyone else seems to just dive deeper and deeper into it. So many people here talk about the "current trends" the new technology that will come out, new movies, new videos and all these other things. I see more advertisements here on buses, bilboards, trains, and street posts than I think I have seen my whole life LOL! But each and everyday I find that the more I see these advertisements, the less it takes my mind away. Not going to lie, the first time I saw all "The Hobbit" ads I was pretty intrigued and I was wondering what the movie would be about. Or with the new Wii that is coming out. Ad's for Iphone 5 and other new tablets and phones were all over the place, and being the curious person that I am, it often would take my mind off of my task at the point in time for a minute, but as I have continued to try to avoid these things and turn my thoughts, I have found it increasingly easier. I read a talk given by President Packer about how each of us has a "delete button." that we can create. I tried it and it absolutely works! What you do, is you take a common and unnoticeable movement, for instance, adjusting your glasses, scratching your head, maybe even blinking your eyes, and make it your "delete button." So that way when ideas/thoughts come to mind that you want to not focus on, you do that movement and think of something else and it becomes a lot easier for your brain to switch ideas!!! I promise it works. It takes a little while to program in, but now I've actually been able to see how well it works! Whenever a bus passes by and I see the ad- make my sign, and I dont think about that movie, new technology, or book and I can just keep going on practicing cantonese, looking for people to speak to, or thinking of how I can better teach my investigators. It's been really cool. Try it out!! Gotta go, love you all!!!!
Elder Shafer 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sydney Week 3

Hello Family!! :)

Just so you know, today was my P-day and next week Tuesday will also be my p-day because it's transfer day. I highly doubt i'll be transferred, but I'll let you know sometime next week when I find out. Just dont want you wondering why p-day is normally Monday, but for this week, last week and next, it's been Tuesday haha! 

So Mom, Mark Gardner told me some pretty great stories about you! :)  Maybe a couple you could tell to the fam because you sure never told me these ones! :) I'm sure you could tell them better than I, so I will just give you a couple key words to remind you so you can retell it. He told me about the sweet little lady you and your companion approached thinking she'd be the nicest little old lady but then she stood up and said "Oh, will you just cut it out!" surprised huh? :) He also told me about how you got the nickname Elder Rust.... something about an Ed Murray haircut?? :) enjoy family! :) It was really good to finally meet them though. They are wonderful people and Marc Gardner showed us a lot of stuff from his mission book. Gave me some pretty good ideas of how I should keep little souviniers and experiences marked by just taping or gluing some stuff to a notebook. 

This week has been pretty scorching, but you know.... just makes the phrase "blood, sweat, and tears" more realistic! :) Especially because I got some nice blood when I slipped when it was raining and kicked the curb while in flip flops.... Just a little bloody toe and it's healing up nice and well. Sure looked pretty narly walking into a Korean BBQ restaurant for Christmas with a bleeding toe in my flip flops haha! For Christmas, we decided we'd go out for something special... so my Asian companions picked Korean because most Korean people don't celebrate Christmas, and thus it was a really packed place. Gave me a little different meaning to Christmas, but it was an interesting experience :) 

I've loved being able to just dive into the culture here and take it all in. I've especially loved the people that I mistake from being out of the country because they are of Asian ethnicity but then tell me they're Australian because they've lived here all their life. Cat got my tongue the first time I heard that one for sure! :) Normally it's been good to ask people where they are from and then say hello in their own language, but I've learned rather than asking "where are you from?" I need to first ask, "how long have you lived here in Sydney?" 

There's also heaps of backpackers around here. Is that a big thing in SF Michelle? People from all over- mostly europe- just pack up their belongings in a backpack and go travel around for 3-6 months and see the world. It's gotten pretty big because I see a lot of people walking around with hiking backpacks here in the parks and on the streets and with a map in hand like they are going camping, but realistically they are just looking for the next tourist site. Pretty interesting in my opinion, but a lot of people really like it. For example, a couple on the train today just have been here for about a month and are just planning on just touring up and down the coast for the next month or so, then jump over to New Zealand, then maybe another island or two, then go back home to Germany..... Not sure I could have a vacation like that, but to each their own! :)  They just have the money/time to travel for a long time because all of them still have homes back in their home coutries. For example, Edward, is a backpacker we met from France. He is planning on being here for a couple more weeks then going back to France where He will be able to get a job again. Just came backpacking for the summer holiday here. 

Lets see... what else happened this week?? It's so hard to remember the specifics of each day because I feel like so much has been jammed into each day. I had a really cool experience while talking to someone in Belmore Park here. She is going out of town for the next week, but afterwards was really interested to see the church because she just couldn't believe that I, as a missionary, left school for 2 years, am not getting paid, and actually paid money from my own pocket to come here for two years. She was really funny to talk to because each new thing I said- Leaving school, learning Cantonese, not being paid etc- made her eyes go wider and wider haha! So we will see what happens, but in the least, I was able to leave a good impression for our desire for this work. There are a lot more people here than I would have thought who are negative to the Church. Tons of people I think have been introduced to a lot of false things about our church because whenever I introduce myself and say I'm a missionary they say something that's completely not true about our faith, but then when I try to explain they tell me to leave and literally, RUN away a lot of the time. It's very sad but very interesting to see how many false things have been spread about our church. I guess there always has to be opposites, but it does make me sad when I see people that believe things that are completely not true and don't allow me to explain. However, I also have had many experiences where I was able to clear up some things people have heard that were wrong. This makes me happy because even though they are not interested in improving their relationship with Christ, they at least now have a better view of our beliefs and what we stand for. Only have 3 minutes left, so I will share one cool experience. Her name was Emma. One day while contacting, I saw a woman crossing the street who I was planning to talk to, but before her, I saw a Chinese family, and so I walked up and said hello to them and introduced myself. They shooed me away, but when I turned around, there was Emma! She told me that she wasn't interested in attending my church, but wanted to talk to me to know more about our beliefs. She also told me "If you had walked up and talked to me first, I would have cussed you out and told you to leave, but I'm trying to be better, so since you didn't talk to me first, I thought I'd talk to you." As you can imagine I was blown away hahaha :) But we had a nice chat, she's got a very rough life, and although she made it clear she didn't want to learn more or see the church, I think she left being uplifted just a bit. Time is up, Sorry if I didn't answer all your questions or satisfy your desires for this week :) Love you all!!


Elder Shafer

Also some pictures of our Christmas Eve Feast of Hot Pot! We had a minor version last night that was just our flat. The food is SO delish! I think I told you a bit about it before, but it is absolutely the best idea of how to eat. It's more about the interaction and family time rather than the meal, but both are amazing!
Our Christmas BBQ at the Chapel on a nice (and pouring down rainy) Christmas day. I actually LOVED the rain...... but you all know why that'd be :) True northwesterner that I am haha!

Some pictures of the fireworks that woke me up at midnight last night because they were SOOO LOUD!! Sorry the picture isn't very good, but you all can imagine what a bunch of fireworks in a huge city would look like. Either that, or youtube it. :)

Me with the Gardners. They had me over for the meal that you requested and also taught me- per your request mom- how to stack your fork aussie style haha! Very interesting.... and I think ill probably just keep eating the way I do :)