Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sydney Week 17

This week was absolutely BLAZING fast. I have no idea where it went, but I'll start off my email as usual by copying what I sent to my Mission President,

"My core experience with God this week was definitely the recent convert fireside (newly renamed Stake devotional). Noy, and Jogky Vayakone spoke. It was so special to have 2 sisters there speaking about their conversions with only about a year between their baptisms. The Spirit was definitely there and our investigators present really felt the Spirit as they both spoke about how happy their parents were for the change that they had made in their lives. It really hit me in the meeting at how large of an impact one person can make. To explain, Noy said that her parents had really hoped she would change from her past for quite a while, and when they heard she had been baptized, even though they don't fully understand what baptism is, they were extremely glad that she had changed from her past, and can see the happiness it has brought into her life. All of our hearts were touched as Jogky explained that growing up all she wanted was to have a dinner together as a family, this wasn't available to them past the age of 12 because they had to live several hundred miles away from their parents. When she related this experience, it increased my appreciation for my family, and how we are sealed as an eternal unit. I know that their family can one day be the same, and that Jogky and Noy's example are extremely influential in this process. I am humbled by the circumstances in which people come from and their easiness to have faith and remain humble even in their afflictions. Reading the Book of Mormon has once again reminded me at how quickly we can turn inward and become prideful, yet there are so many people I am able to meet each and everyday which truly choose to be humble no matter their circumstances, and keep faith in the Savior.
One of the things we will be doing this week to help a young man who is questioning whether or not to serve a mission will actually happen tonight. We are going to have dinner with him and bear our testimony of why we came on a mission and help him to feel the wonderful effects it has had on our lives. He is a wonderful young man and would make an exceptional missionary, thus we feel we should continue to support him in his growing desire to serve a mission. 
It has been such a fast week but an amazing one for sure. Looking at our planners for this week, we will be having at least 7 people we will be inviting to be baptized. That is only the ones we have planned now, with the many miracles we see and the couple times we feel prompted to mention baptism on the street or at activities, I am sure we will be having more baptismal dates up and coming. The work continues to press forward and Elder Dade and I are both excited for the future! I hope you have a great week, and I look forward to our training on Friday. See you then!"

I don't have my journal with me, so It will be hard to go by and give an accounting of this whole week, but some highlights-

-I passed my driving test, so I can now drive here in Australia if I ever have to leave the city ( I hope and pray I serve here my whole mission, but I know the chances of that are basically 0%)
-We have heaps of new Japanese investigators, but unfortunately not a single person speaks Japanese in the branch, so..... we learn to speak very slowly :) It is interesting though that right when the Japanese speaking Elder gets transferred, heaps of Japanese people start coming to activities and are curious about the church. We have 2 investigators that we meet with together and one of them has to translate for the other one haha! But it all works out okay in the end :)
- We had an amazing lesson with Danny which has been investigating the church for over half a year without any real progress. Up until the lesson last yesterday, he would never explain why he didnt want to get baptized, and then would continue to dodge our lessons. So it was hard to meet with him and progress, but due to a miracle which happened yesterday, Elder Dade and I were able to meet with him and help him understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ better. He still feels that he has "done too many bad things" in his life to qualify for baptism. I cant describe exactly how he feels, but we continued to help him understand that there is no sin he could have committed to make him exempt. I think there was a large step in progress for him. He now has hope in his life and we will continue to help him grow that hope into true happiness. 
-I figured out how to cook THE BEST spring roles :) last night, we came back to the flat and after planning I started to cook some frozen spring roles. When they were done, I gave a plate to Elder Elder (honestly, his last name is elder :)) and Elder Imeson. Elder Imeson turns to me and just says "oh, I love you Elder Shafer, these are the best!" I laughed pretty hard, but honestly, they are delicious! 

Yeah, that's all that I can think of now that was out of the ordinary and unique that I wanted to share. Today we had the opportunity to go to the temple and it was a great experience as always. Such peace and calm there! I am so grateful and lucky to be a missionary out here. Honestly, the amount of people I am able to meet and the lives I am able to have a small change for the better in is extraordinary. Missionary work continues to surprise me at how enjoyable it is even though it is always a trial. I have a greater understanding as to the reality that service brings joy. I was just thinking the other day about how as missionaries, we are called to be full-time servants, volunteers, teachers etc, but also we are called to be full time friends. So many people here and everywhere in the world just need a friendly hand. I have been able to see that more and more. Part of the reason I believe people become attached to missionaries who serve is because they find that those missionaries are true friends they may not have had before. we often get too caught up in ourselves and what we need to do and neglect to look out just a little more. Often it only takes one phone call, one question, or one smile and joke shared in order to change someone's day. I have learned this week a greater appreciation for humor. Laughing is definitely an essential part of life. I know that I haven't always been the funniest person, but I have found that I can crack an occasional joke or two that gets people laughing. Doing this has had a great effect while here. For example, one member named Daisy recently had an ultimate crisis. She had a family emergency in which she had to book a flight very short notice back home to Vietnam. After she had payed the plane ticket, she tried to withdraw more funds that evening and found that her back account had nothing in it. She had to board a flight the next day with the news that someone had hacked her account and she had no money. Needless to say, she was very distraught with things that were happening in her life. I felt prompted when she was about to leave to just give her a call. As I stood on the balcony of the city just listening, I was grateful that I had the ability to change the conversation with a couple simple jokes. I don't remember what i said, but it was what she needed to hear because by the end of the phone call she says "thank you for calling Elder Shafer, I feel better now. I am grateful that you are serving here and talk to me even though I am technically not in your area of responsibility (all the missionaries have different recent converts they are assigned to keep tabs on and to help out since there are so many in the city). So my message for the week, find a time to make someone laugh! In almost all situations I can think of, when there is nothing you can do to resolve or benefit the problem, making the person laugh has an instant effect to help lift their spirits and give them hope.

Love you all heaps and I will write you again next week!

Elder Shafer

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sydney Week 16 (Sorry, a week late again, man I am getting into a bad habit!)

Well, this week there is very little time :( But I will use every minute that I can. 

This week was quite the week for sure. There were some sad things that occurred in the District, but fortunately, we did our best to not allow this to affect our work. We had one of the greatest miracles that I have experienced on the mission this last week. While street contacting, I was able to meet a man named John. He was looking at his map for Chinatown, and I don't think it was coincidence he was having a hard time to find it even though it was only 2 blocks away. It was the perfect opportunity for me to talk to him and get to know him. We walked with him back to the church and showed him around and then shared with him how much God loves him. He walked into the Teaching Center stating he didn't believe in God, but followed science. He left having had a very spiritual experience and feeling the Spirit testify to him that His Father in Heaven loves him. As we were teaching, I remember bearing testimony, and seeing that he was feeling the spirit, I had the question come to me to ask "John, how do you feel right now?" He replied "I feel that I want to try. I want to believe in God and to learn more." I was blown away! After more discussion and testimony, we taught him how to pray and he once again had the Spirit teach him about the reality of our Father in Heaven. We felt prompted to meet with him again the next day even though he committed to come to church and he was very excited for the chance to come to both. Meeting with him the next day, we had once again a very Spirit driven lesson. He has been very well prepared by the Lord to accept His message at this time. The truth is, I feel that the times when Elder Dade and I are not speaking is when he is learning the most. He is very open and sensitive to the spirit, and it has been a miracle to see how well prepared he truly is. He came to church yesterday wearing a suit and stayed for 2 hours and really enjoyed it. He truly is the most well prepared person I've met to hear and accept the gospel.
Something I enjoyed about church yesterday was the ability to explain and celebrate Easter with several investigators who do not know what Easter means and why we have it. Not only at church, but at the special Easter program that was last night. There was a great spirit there at both church and the program that was noticeable and allowed great opportunities to teach about Christ and His resurrection. It truly was the best Easter I've experienced! The Spirit in rich abundance, many teaching opportunities, and enjoying wonderful music with others is always a special experience.

A special thing happened yesterday. At the easter program we went to last night with our investigators. Corene sang "This is the Christ" It was AMAZING! Then I got to introduce her to Noy (baptized on the 23'rd and doing so well! She's awesome!) as well as 3 other investigators of mine from Japan and some other friends from the ward. Corene is so funny! Trying to hear her pronounce these people's names and then remember them was quite enjoyable. She is so friendly though and they loved her. Perfect fellowship! They were all so impressed with her singing and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little proud in stating "that's my cousin!" People didn't believe me at first, but then they said "ahhh... that's why you can't sing for beans, because she took all the family talent for singing!" or something like that is what they said ;)  

John, is by far the best and most interested to learn investigator I've met. He's so pure!! I am very excited for him. Noy continues to progress well and will actually speak at the recent convert fireside next week. I'll let you know how that goes. Love you all!!

Elder Shafer