Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Send Elder Shafer an email

Hi Everyone,

As you read in Elder Shafer's most recent letter home, you all are welcome to write him directly and he can write you back!

I know he will love hearing from everyone.  Your love and support mean so much to him.  So write him a quick email (or twenty) when you have time.  Trust me, it is so fun to find that email every week in my inbox.

His email address is:

I will also post his email address on the sidebar so everyone can keep all his most updated contact information in one spot.

Happy writing!

Sydney Week 15

Exciting news! The word is out! Last week we had a zone conference where President Howes announced that SLC has authorized us to write home to all family, friends and so forth using emails. They have seen the tremendous effect that using technology has had in pushing missionary work forward and want us to have the opportunity to correspond with others throughout the world. If you could please inform others of the fact that they now can write to me using email that would be great. This way, if people have specific concerns, or as more people are preparing for their missions, I'd love to drop them a line or two of encouragement. I am not sure whether this news has been announced to everyone yet, but as to President Howes, this will likely be a worldwide movement to surge the work forward. Please post my email address on the blog and invite some friends to just drop a line or two every once in a while, that would be great! :) I know this can affect many more people worldwide. After all, my last companion, Elder Wan, his mom was baptized when he was on a mission because of his emailing home miracles that have happened! Having the opportunity to email friends directly, I believe I could make a bigger difference in their lives. 

I will attach my letter to President Howes:

I am having a great time getting to know and work with Elder Dade. We had great success yesterday while finding in order to help him get to know the area in an effective way. He is such a great missionary and I really look forward to learning everything I can from him. My core experience this week was definitely Noy's baptism and her confirmation the following day. She has been looking forward to this for quite some time and being able to see the joy and light that radiates from her was inspiring. She really is starting on the pathway back to our Father with vigor and a great energy. Also, seeing Elder Wan have the opportunity to be here for this event was humbling as well. He has been working with her for quite some time now, I think about 6 months, and he was very grateful to have this experience with her before being transferred to another area of the Vineyard. 
One way I am being creative in my finding is just changing my approach. I have found that saying the same things gets the same responses of "not interested, thank you." However, as I change my first words I speak from "hello, how are you today?" which often comes across as if I am trying to sell something to someone to something more sporadic and less common such as compliments, random things that happen, asking someone's opinions or help regarding things, speaking a word or two of their native language etc. I have found that doing these, if not making someone more interested, at least allows me to share a little bit more of who I am and what my purpose is as a missionary rather than those people thinking I am from a charity or a salesman that they see quite often on the streets. I have heard of quite a few people who say that they are not interested, but they believe that what we are doing is a good thing and of benefit. I believe that these people one day with some more preparation may be prepared for the gospel and will be willing to listen. My goal when I hit the streets is not only to find people to teach, but also to uplift everyone's outlook and views upon missionaries and the church. 
Elder Dade has already started helping me to have new ideas and great insights about how I can be a better planner, and become a more effective missionary. I feel very privileged to have such an experienced companion with me this early on in my mission. I can't believe that 6 months ago today, I walked into the MTC. I've never had time fly so fast in my life, and from what others say, it only goes faster from here. I often feel there is just not enough time. However, I have also come to realize that this is part of why using time wisely is so important. If there was nothing to press us to use time wisely, I am not sure we would use time wisely. Often in my life, I have found that I appreciate things more when I do not have them. For example, I remember quite vividly desperately wanting a heater and warmth when starting my car in the middle of winter when it was -3 Fahrenheit. I desperately wanted to get my car up and moving so I could turn on the heater so I would not be frozen by the time I arrived at work. This is the something Elder Dade I believe will be able to help me understand more. Being his last transfer he has stated he treats it like the last 10 minutes of a sports game where you have to give it all you've got. Having this extra bit of fire from him will really help us to surge forward in the work even more than we have been in recent weeks. 

Thank you for all that you do President. Please also tell Sister Howes her meal was delicious and I didn't mean any offense when I prayed the food would not make us sick :) 

So, yesterday was Transfer Day, and Elder Wan was transferred to the next area over. My new companion is Elder Dade. He's from South Africa (Johannesberg) and he is on fire! It's his last transfer for the mission and he has always wanted to serve here in the "promised land" of the city. We dropped off his stuff, got him unpacked and full of food, then smashed the streets for about 45 minutes before doing some planning for the rest of the week. He was so excited to get out and GQ (golden question) on the streets. He's a great companion and eventhough he wont be too much help for Cantonese learning, I think the other areas where he can help me improve will be of great value. He is more than qualified and is a very experienced elder. After all, he only trained the Elder who is now our AP haha :) I am looking forward to this next transfer. Our new zone leader is Elder Elder from Provo Utah. The apt is now White washed. I will miss Elder Wan, but he's not too far away and I know I'll see Him again soon. I have to go now, my time is up. I'll send pics next week.

Love you! 

Elder Shafer

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sydney Week 14

WOW! Where do I start? This week was "full-on!" :) I can start with my letter to President Howes I suppose:

I hope your day is well and that you have been blessed and strengthened to uphold your calling this last week. I am so excited for our zone training this next Tuesday! :) Also, I am very excited for the interview you will be able to have with Noy this next Wednesday at 4pm. She is such an amazing person and I feel so privileged to see the progress she has made in preparing for baptism. With the trials that she has overcome, I know that all things are possible for our investigators. It will be wonderful to see her be baptized and then confirmed this weekend. 
For my experience with God this week was during trade offs with the Zone Leaders. Elder Imeson and I were on trade offs and our entire mindset was to "have the faith to see miracles." We had 5 hours of finding set up and we expected to witness miracles according to our faith and diligence. And we saw them!! For me, the greatest miracle was seen through Candy. She is from Hong Kong. I was crossing the street when I saw her, and started my approach. After talking to her for a second, I noticed her english was quite poor. So I asked where she was from and upon finding she was from Hong Kong, was able to speak to her in Cantonese and help her understand what we do here as missionaries and also that we offer a free English class. When I met her and talked with her, she was not comfortable giving out her phone number, and needed to go to the post office at that time. However, she was interested in learning about the free English class and agreed to meet me in 15 minutes after she had visited the post office and walk with Elder Imeson and I back to the church. To make a long story short, she came, we shared with her what we do as missionaries more in depth and we were able to set a baptismal date for her. It was an incredible miracle for me to witness! I was so grateful not only that I could use my language in finding, but also have the privilege to help someone understand the need for baptism and set that goal for her. It was a great experience for me.
One way that I am being creative in my finding is by asking people how to say a word or two in their native language. I have found that it allows me perfect opportunity to talk with them about How I love to learn new things everyday, and that if they would like to, I would be more than willing to help them learn something new today as well that would bless their life more than anything they have previously learned will. Not only does it allow for me to bring up the gospel, but I have also found it makes people know more that I care about them. When I ask them for something and show appreciation for their help, it helps us to develop a small, but simple friendship instead of them thinking that I am just someone in a suit wanting to sell them something. I want to continue things like this in my finding. Whether it is complimenting, asking for help, or some other way, I want people to realize that I am not here to sell something, I am here to help and be their friend in their journey back to our Father in Heaven.

This week was so good! We were able to see our area gain 8 new investigators, set a baptismal date, set a new record for lessons taught since I've been here and just witness miracle after miracle! :) The biggest news is the fact that Noy Vayakone, from Laos will be getting baptized this Saturday. She is the best! Honestly, she has changed SOOOO much in preparation for her baptism. I don't want to go into detail as to the trials and weaknesses she needed to overcome, but I am so proud of her for the progress she has made and she now will be able to get baptized! We had to reset her date twice before, but now, Elder Wan and I both feel she is ready and she feels ready too! 

Other miracles from this week:

We met with Danny and had a pretty good lesson with him. He feels that in his life, he has nothing to be passionate about. He doesn't have much to feel he has been successful in (no solid career, house, family etc) and just wants to have a simple, life with something he enjoys and very little stress. Of course this is the ideal, but we were able to really just talk with him openly. He's been very interesting. He's been meeting with missionaries off and on since September and nobody has been able to really get him to open up. He understands the doctrine, even attends weekly institute classes more earnestly than any member has yet, but we haven't been able to get him to open up as to why he keeps saying no to baptism and wanting to be active in the church he already attends regularly. I don't think we are at the solution, but we are definitely closer. The last lesson with him I was really able to understand what he was saying and the spirit helped me to discern his feelings and thoughts and I felt very distinctly twice, that the things I had said were from the Spirit. They had an effect, and hopefully with the commitment we gave him, we will be able to help him out more. 

A short excerpt from my journal to finish off the letter:


Today was pretty great. we met with Damien and had a good lesson. I'm not sure exactly how to help him stop focusing on the bad and negative things which happen and be grateful for the good, but I hope today our message helped him out. Also, we met with Cindy for the first time in seveeral weeks. It was really good! Helped her prep for her Ielts test (english test students must pass to gain residency in AU) then shared a mormon message with her followed by dinner. After that we met with Haywind, Jo and Ronny. (3 cantonese friends who wanted to come to English class and we were able to meet with them and share about why we do missionary work etc....) It was so cool how much I was able to understand. Speaking is by far harder and I mess up a lot unfortunately, but I'll keep trying. I wont give up even when I mess up and people laugh at me. I'm stubborn in some things and I'm determined to improve my language eventhough I rarely get to teach in it. 

So yeah, that's about all the time I have for this week :( only have 2 minutes left. I'm sorry I dont have the time and opportunity to send all my thoughts, feelings, and answers to your questions. But know that the work here is really moving forward. We are going to accomplish our goal for 100 new investigators in the city for this month, I just know it! We have 2 weeks to get 25 investigators. This week alone we got 29, so we are going to smash this goal and set a great new standard for the rest of the zone to keep accomplishing in future months. As our teaching pool increases, I know that all other areas will increase as well. Love you all so much, thank you for the love and support you give me!!!!!!!

Elder Shafer

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sydney Week 13

First off, I'll post some pictures from the past weeks and paste my comments to President Howes:

Hello! I hope your day is going well for you. It is so crazy to think that tomorrow will mark 3 months that I've been here in Sydney! The most life changing and best 3 months of my life have passed me by in almost an instant. I am so grateful to be serving here as a missionary. I still remember well the feeling when I read that I had been called and found worthy to represent my Savior as a missionary to preach His gospel. I was just reflecting the other day at how I have looked forward to serving a mission for many years, and now that I am here, it almost seems too real to be true. The miracles I witness, the amount of times I am able to feel of the spirit, and the changes I have seen in myself have been remarkable. I need to constantly be more grateful for the wonderful blessings that I have here, and to make sure I don't take them for granted.
In response to the questions for this week. My core experience with God this week was with our finding new investigators. We have been striving to maximize the amount of time we are able to go and find, and we are seeing the blessings! I truly believe that we will accomplish our zone goal this month of 100 new investigators, and that makes me very excited! Elder Wan and I continue to see many small miracles each day, but through time, these small miracles turn into great works. 
The thing that will be most difficult for me to become a 10 is always being aware and conscious that my companion and I are both being exactly obedient. Whether this is not getting separated while finding on the streets, making sure I can always see and hear my companion If he or I are needing to talk on the phone away from the main crowd (such as at church) or just making a quick trip to the bathroom. I need to be constantly aware that we are always keeping the guidelines of obedience to the fullest and not allowing even a small manor of laziness or being unaware of the situation cause us to be disobedient. I know that as I do these last couple things to make sure my companion and I are always obedient in every situation, we will see the blessings and we will continue to strive always to be obedient and not complacent.

I apologize if the emails I send home seem like a soap box or dont really make sense. A lot of times writing home to you all becomes like my journal where there are certain things that I need to hear myself say in order to learn it. And with how much changes over the weeks, if i seem like a different person writing each week, I apologize :) Things here in the zone are going very well. We had a baptism last saturday which was so great! We also are above our needed spot for new investigators in order to accomplish 100 new investigators for the city. This has never been done before and so we are all excited that we will be able to accomplish it for this month. 100 new investigators in 1 month I think is pretty astounding, but it shall be done! :)  I can't imagine how much work there is back home in preparation for the new missions to open up. As in the Doctrine in Covenants "the Lord is hastening His work." We will likely be seeing many new missionaries this next transfer (March 25) that are 18 years old, and many new sister missionaries as well. 

Some excerpts from the journal:


Today... was quite good! we had someone come and talk to us on the street that wanted to know about the church, then when finding in Belmore Park, the same thing happened! Someone came up to me and was wanting to know more about the church. He was a little interrogative, but I think he's truly curious. We set a return appointment and we will see how things go from here. It's really cool to see the blessings like this happen. Then, we had a potential bring several friends to English class and found some more potentials as well. Things are really looking up! :) The night ended well because we had a good Book of Mormon class (every Thursday institute our investigators will come to BOM institute) and the teacher bought pizza for everyone, so that was a nice treat! Now just eating some thai noodles and will be making some calls to try to get some more apts. Hope tomorrow is great as well! Being a missionary is great!

I had some others as well, but I only have 5 minutes so I thought I'd share another cool experience not in the journal yet. Last night we met with Andy. He was a former from about 5 years ago. I really felt the Spirit helping us to teach him what he needed to know. There were several times where he said "wow, that makes so much sense!" Or "okay, that really helps clear up my question." We used a lot of examples and analogies to teach him that just came on the whim. It is remarkable to be able to teach with the Spirit and truly see when He is able to bear witness of the truth. Andy, is a very dynamic and sporadic person. He would cut us off mid sentence and ask questions or get quite loud when asking questions or laughing to where at first it was hard for us to feel that the Spirit was able to teach Him because he was not focusing in order to feel the small promptings, but as we had inspired analogies and stories come to mind that quieted his loud laughter and got him thinking. Then, bearing simple but powerful testimony, we could see him feel the spirit. At the end of our meeting he mentioned how good he had felt and that He would like to meet again eventhough he is extremely busy.

My time is up now, but I want you all to know I love you and am so grateful for all the support you do! Also, I wish Grandma and Grandpa Ray the best as they make this change in their lives regarding how often, and in what manner to serve in the temple. They are both 2 of my biggest role models!! Love you all!

Elder Shafer

So for the pictures.  Last weekend we had to "flee babylon" for mardi gras. We went out to a place that had heaps of trees and these nicely tamed parrots which were so used to missionaries feeding them over the years, they will eat right from your hand haha! It was so cool to wake up and get ready and just see lots of parrots, Cockatoos, Kookaburras and other birds flying around and singing. I didn't try feeding these bread from my mouth though, those beaks are sharp!! :) 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sydney Week 12

Hello Family!!!:)

Wow, thank you so much for the love and letters that you always send me! It's so amazing to hear of your wonderful life experiences, the progression you are making and so forth. I also want to thank you all as well as my many friends and non-immediate family who support me while out here. This is the greatest experience I've had of my life and it is in large measure due to your examples and support that I am out here and able to serve. I truly have seen how much the Lord can mold and improve us throughout our lives, and that with His loving care and our humility, He can make great things out of us. 

During a lesson this last week I had the experience to be with someone named Damien. He is from Croatia, and has said in his life pretty much everything always goes wrong. He said "if there are 5 doors of different difficulties, I always seem to have to walk through the toughest one to get to where I need to go." During this lesson, we talked about the purpose of this life, and how we grow throughout our trials. One thing we talked about is how diamonds are created. Diamonds are created from coal, as it has been put under intense heat and pressure for a long duration of time. It takes time, heat, and pressure to turn each of ourselves into the Lord's diamonds. One of the things I have learned without a doubt thus far on my mission is that God is our loving Heavenly Father. It amazes me to think that the Creator of Heaven, Earth, and skies loves me. He listens to my prayers. He rejoices when I am happy and He is saddened when I am also sad. He knows what is best for me and is wanting to help me to accomplish it each step of the way. Then why don't I listen? Why am I so stubborn, and rebellious? 

Here, I have had the opportunity to talk to many people who do not believe in God. Each and every time I do, I am able to learn and realize more and more about the reality and presence of my Father in Heaven. More than this though, is the personal relationship I have developed with Him because of my experiences with Him. I am convinced that people in our lives have a purpose as to why they are there. I don't know everything and I am no specialist on the things of God, however, in every situation where someone asks me a question above my understanding, I cannot answer right then, or makes me curious as well, I always learn and come back to the fact that, similar to Nephi states (sorry I don't have my scriptures right on hand) That I do not know all things, but I do know that God loveth His children. I have experience His love and feel it daily in my life as I look for it. No matter the cunning questions people have asked to try to shake my faith, I always can refer back to 2 things. I know that God is my loving Heavenly Father and listens to and answers my prayers. I also know without a doubt that the Atonement is real because I have felt the feeling of divine forgiveness. These two things have led me to believe in, experiment upon, and then also come to know many other truths. That truly is the only question. Truth is unchanging and unalterable. There is only 1 true and definite answer, however many ways people try to thwart it and change it. 2+2 will always equal 4 even if the entire world decides they would prefer it equal 5. It's only up to us whether or not we will believe in the truth and come to know it for the truth that it is. I'm sorry that my letter this week is a lot shorter. I spent a while typing to my Mission President and then the letter got deleted and I had to restart :( but here is what I sent him:

My core experience this week was how much I felt the spirit and Learned at the Zone conference last Wednesday. However, since I will be writing about this more in response to the second question, I will share another experience that I was able to have last Wednesday Evening. We met with Sharon, a student from Taiwan who is interested in Eternal Families and has questions about God. This was our second meeting, and she also wanted to bring a friend. We decided we should give her friend, Iris, a quick tour of the church and get to know her a little bit, and while trying to do so, she seemed pretty skeptical and cold to meeting with us. However, after an opening song, a prayer, and some short, but sincere testimonies, she warmed up a little bit. As the discussion progressed, she actually seemed even more interested in learning than our original investigator. Our fellowship for that lesson also really helped them both with great analogies and personal testimony of His own. It's amazing to me to see the power that fellowshippers bring into the lesson. Someone wearing a t-shirt and jeans, bearing their own testimony of why they live the gospel even while going through their own life struggles has many times brought the spirit into our investigators hearts, and has benefited them greatly. The Lord's way works! 
Since Elder Hamula's training, My vision has been a lot more clear of how I can truly best accomplish my purpose. Focus on REAL GROWTH, both in the individual and in the ward and mission as a whole was brought more into my understanding. It coincided so well with our lesson in priesthood yesterday and has given me a greater purpose as to why I need to focus on members, less actives, and investigators all together. I can't focus on just one and lose sight of the other and still consider myself the Lord's missionary. I am here to build the kingdom and help establish real growth. I do that by assisting ALL people to repent, make, and keep covenants. His training helped me to see how essential baptism is to repentance, but that I need to also help my investigators understand it is just a step. They need to keep repenting and turning themselves around toward Christ. I also have incorporated more hope in my finding in realizing that although many people will reject my invitations, I can still feel that I have done my part in inviting them when I ask to meet with them, show them the church, attend activities, and so forth. For quite some time I have felt insecure when asking myself "did I do my part to allow this person the ability to really make an informed decision?" It has been hard for me to feel that I have represented the church adequately when all I have is often a very few seconds to inform and invite, however, as Elder Hamula stated "even an invitation to meet with them or asking to have their phone number, is an invitation to repent." This has helped me to feel more confident that I am doing my best to do my part in helping them receive the restored gospel. I have realized more recently, that those the Lord has prepared right now, will be willing to accept that invitation, though it may be short, and those who are not ready yet, may remember that invitation in the future, and will one day turn themselves around.

I love you all so much!! Oh yeah, and sorry for the typo. I meant to say last week that we have 2 "pretty keen" investigators with baptismal dates. Thanks for the heads up Dad, I'll make sure I look more carefully at the message im portraying before I send it lol! accidents happen and that's why we can repent :)

Elder Shafer