Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bankstown 3 Week 2

It will need to be a short letter this week, I apologize. We are going to move someone into a new house, which is conveniently located right here in our city, so it will be a great opportunity :) This week was awesome! I love everything about here. The people, the location, the ward, the FOOD, the language, and even the rain! :) It has been great. Especially with Elder Ng, he is fantastic and quite a crack up too! His laugh is amazing, I wish I could record it and send it home because it will make anyone laugh haha! So excited for the news and thank you for the package michelle! It was only missing one thing..... a little note. It's funny though because my companion and I both got packages the same day, and neither of us got a note with it. So I guess it was good for companionship unity :) Really this week was great! Going and visiting less actives and people we have not seen in a long time is such a rewarding feeling. We often go out at night to do that because people are more likely to be home, and being out on the streets at night is very scary and intimidating, so to avoid scaring people away, we feel it is smarter to use some time in the car (yes, I have gottten used to driving on the other side of the road haha) and visit those who needs an invitation back. Though we have only been welcomed in once, we have still made great contact with some of them, and allowed people to feel of our love for them. It is great to be able to go and do that more often. I have a great love for people who have stepped away from the church for one reason or another, and in my book, one person reactivated is much more important to Christ, than a new baptism. I feel that I am trying to accomplish the Savior's commission to leave the 99 and find the 1. There is a great amount of work to do here. By day we work mostly on finding new and bringing more into the fold, by night, we go to the rescue to bring them back, and always, always, we are enjoying it :) Love you all so much!!  

My core experience with God this week was being able to come so close in unity with my companion in so short a time. Elder Ng is amazing. We started off really well and each day has just gotten better and better. I had a goal to really become great friends with him by the end of this week, and it has happened! We have become close as we both are striving to be exactly obedient and working hard. The area right now definitely needs to be strengthened in terms of investigators willing to meet with us and baptismal dates, but with several new investigators (and miracles I might add!) we are very confident about setting a new and stronger pattern with people. There have been several people that even though they have big exams coming up, were still willing to meet with us, and after meeting them, I know they have been prepared and are ready. We are excited to implement the baptismal calendars with them and see them carry forward unto Christ. I think the most unique miracle we had this week was Charlene. Walking down the street, I had the thought come to offer her a pass along card right off the bat. She was walking in a hurry and when I spoke to her, she actually jumped back a step and was startled. I offered her the card, she took it but mentioned she was very busy and had to go to class, I took that as a great queue to start a conversation about her school and enjoyed a nice brisk walk with her on the way to the train station. She opened up quite a bit and we were able to set a return appointment and exchanged phone numbers. It was a great experience to have that persistence pay off. 

Another rather funny experience I was able to have this week was in standing up for my beliefs and bearing sincere testimony of the truthfulness of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. There was one man who I contacted who was atheist, and began to ask how I could belief so strongly in the existence of God though I could not see Him. As the discussion continued, he asked, "how can you know that your church is true? for example, there are some people who believe very crazy and ridiculous things." He then mentioned a couple religions I was not familiar with and ended with, "and also the mormons, believing in some buried gold book found by some boy that nobody else saw? How do you know that they aren't correct and you are wrong?" I smiled because I now understood that he had not made the connection when I introduced myself as a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I asked him, "You know that the LDS Church and the mormons are the same, right?" He was definitely shocked and I could tell he was embarrassed for what he had said. I bore my testimony that I did know the Book of Mormon is true and that there are other witnesses of it. I offered to give him a copy and promised him he could know as well. Though he did not accept, I do know that an impression was made upon him. I hope one day to see him again and share with him more about how I know. I find it interesting how I have often felt the Spirit more strongly when testifying and standing up for my beliefs to someone who does not want to listen, than the many times I have born it to those who are interested to learn and listen. After I talk to them, I always can feel the burning in my chest knowing that the things I had declared are true, and I am glad that I can agree with Paul in stating that "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ."
As shared in the story above, I think this week my greatest practice for teaching as Jesus taught, was in bearing testimony.
I look forward to the start of the new missions because I know it will bring great energy and zeal both to the missionaries and the members. Members in the ward here are already talking about all the changes that will happen and how they are excited to see missionary work continue on. I am glad to get to know this new area and work as hard as I can to build up this part of the vineyard. I will admit, church in Cantonese was a humbling experience, as well as being asked to teach the Gospel Principles class. But with fervent prayer, Heavenly Father has provided means for me to understand well enough and to provide words to speak when I open my mouth. They may not always be grammatically correct or pronounced perfectly, but He does provide words to speak. 
I am excited for this week's upcoming Conference, I know it will be a great learning experience. 

Elder Shafer

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bankstown 3 Week 1

Dear Family and Friends:

My time in the city has come to an end, but I truly am so grateful for the experience it has been, and the experiences I will have here. I thrusted in my sickle with my might there, and truly reaped a great harvest of spiritual experiences, knowledge, and greater love for all people. Now, that harvest continues, just in a different area of the field :)

I love this area already!!!! Elder Ng is an amazing missionary and last night we had the greatest "first night" I could ever imagine. After transfer meeting, Elder Brown and I were given a map and some quick guidelines by a fellow missionary on how to get to our flat. We soon found out though that the missionary had mistakingly told us to go the wrong way. So, we pulled over to take a minute and look at the mapbook for where we were and how we could get to the place we needed to go, which neither of us had ever been anywhere near before. While pulled over, a nice man pulled up and said "you look like a couple of missionaries! Can I help you find something?" He was an answer to our silent prayer. With some correct directions, and a quick lesson I would entitle "How to use a mapbook for dummies" we were able to make it back to the flat without having too much time be lost. When we arrived home, I unloaded the car and grabbed a quick drink before running out the door again to go teach! Just how I like it :) We saw a miracle as we went and visited a former investigator. She also had invited her friend to come that day, and her friend is also interested in learning about why there are so many religions in the world. It was a very new experience for me to teach in someone's home and to teach in Cantonese. But, my core experience with God this week comes from this lesson. Elder Ng and I taught in Cantonese and I understood almost every word that He said!! :) Because they could understand Cantonese, but don't speak it, we taught in Cantonese, and she replied back in Mandarin. It was an amazing experience for me to see how even though I have not had a Cantonese companion for several months, as I continued in my studies, Heavenly Father has blessed me to continue to learn. Elder Ng and I have a great plan for how we can improve our language together that I know will work well. This week, I have really strived harder to speak audible prayers personally. Even though it is a whisper, I have noticed how speaking aloud has helped me to concentrate and not lose track of what I am truly conveying. Unfortunately, I find that when I am tired, I will get into a habit, and have found myself often praying to bless the food when I am crawling into bed. That's when I catch myself and realize.... wow, I need to pay attention. As I have tried to really focus and pray vocally, I have noticed better answers and I feel more in tune. My best practice this week for teaching as Jesus has taught is to always be positive! Often I see how when people do not keep a commitment, or do not meet our the expectations we subconsciously set for them, it is easy to get negative and not keep that positive hope that we need to. In one of our investigators prayers last week, he stated something that really touched me. He said "thank you for helping me to learn with the missionaries, I can see passion in their eyes." I have learned I need to always have that passion and hope for people. They are changing their lives. If they forget to pray a couple times or read a day or two, we should not be harsh or non-feeling. How many of us can truly say we have remembered to always pray, read and attended church every Sunday? Instead, as people feel comfortable to share the truth with us that they have not read what we have asked, we should be positive and hopeful for their future. We should boldly help them understand why it is important, and why we are saddened they didn't do what we have asked, but we can never lose that hope or that passion for them. Though many inconsequential things about serving here are different (having a car, teaching in homes or libraries etc...) I know that the basics and fundamentals of missionary work are the exact same. I am excited to serve here and am thankful for the great opportunity it will be.

As you can see, I have a new companion, and my area is called Bankstown 3. Elder Ng (from Hong Kong)
and I are serving here in the Cantonese branch, and it has already been an amazing experience. He is really helpful for learning and practicing Cantonese with me. He is a great missionary. We have started our 1 day Cantonese, 1 day English, policy that dad encouraged :) So far so good! Yesterday, when driving in the car, I followed all directions correctly in Cantonese, I learned new words, and had lots of opportunities to practice speaking. I love this language!!!! It has truly been great to work with him already. 

It's quite cold in our flat now, and in the internet cafe here too for that matter..... My fingers are freezing, so it is hard to type, but it is well worth it. We had a great first night here. Saw the miracle I talked about in President's email, and also taught another lesson that went really well! Then the fellowshipper, shouted us amazing Chinese food! Hurstville is the true chinatown of Sydney haha, the food here is really authentic and delicious. And EVERYONE here is Chinese :) Great things to come ahead. I will be in the South Mission, and my new Mission President and his wife, also speak Cantonese. I am excited for the future. Please keep Raymond in your prayers. He will be baptized in 2 weeks, and this week we have plans to set more baptismal dates. love you all so much! There also is a really great member that was in my last area who lives 3 minutes away from our flat. He is pretty awesome, and so I am excited he is close by as well. Love you all heaps la! (Cantonese people often add La, a, or ge to the end of their sentences...... haven't figured out all the reasons why yet, but that's what I am trying to mimic :))

Elder Shafer

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sydney Week 26

How ya'lls goin? (common phrase used in the bush here :b) Today is the day they celebrate Queen Victoria's b-day... not exactly sure why they do that here, but I think they just wanted an excuse to have another holiday haha :) This week was fantastic with John getting baptized. I'll have my letter to President explain that situation:

I will definitely keep you in my prayers daily as you seek revelation for where the missionaries should go with this upcoming pivotal transfer. I will also seek inspiration and comfort to accept the Lord's will regarding where I shall serve. I don't expect it will be difficult though, my theme has always been and ever will be "I'll go where you want me to go." This week my core experience with God came at John's baptism. He is definitely converted to Christ. Over the pulpit after his baptism he announced he wanted to be a missionary. Immediately after he came up out of the water, he just says "wow!" The change in him over the past 2 months has been immense. He truly is one who will build the kingdom here in Sydney, Australia. Also, his best friend, Fancy, came to support him and when I asked her about it. She stated: "I was shocked! Right when John went into the water, I felt a big shock enter my body, I have never felt that before, I dont know what it is." I was shocked by her answer for just a brief second and with a big smile explained to her more about the Holy Ghost. John has already said he will be fellow shipping for her lessons and we will be meeting with her often just after her exams this upcoming week. 
One insight I gained from Sacrament meeting this week was how much the Lord prepares people, and how merciful He is to help us gain knowledge when we seek it. A recent convert of only 2 weeks spoke yesterday of her experience in participating in temple baptisms. She explained completely and clearly the doctrine of why baptism is so important, why we perform baptisms for the dead, and how the temple empowers us. She did an excellent job and I was thoroughly impressed by her understanding and testimony that she already has of these eternal truths. He truly prepares people and guides them through the Spirit. 

Elder Yoshizawa and I have great plans to make this a great week. Though we have had 3 baptisms in the past 2 weeks, we still are not quite pleased with the overall future status of our area as it is now. We have had difficulty in keeping our area completely escalating, but this week we have good plans set in store to rebuild our area and truly have it be set up as an escalating area for the future. I feel, as I counselled with you that my time here in the city is coming to a close, and I truly want to turn it over to the next missionaries much stronger than when I found it, and in a constant, steady pattern of progression. I know that with trust in the Almighty, we can continue to progress and continue upward and onward. 

Yeah, so it was a great weekend for sure :) I am so proud of these recent converts!! They are so solid! Sonam is having difficulty finding a job, that is affecting her a lot because she has recently graduated with her degree and expected to jump into a career but now has only been able to find temporary jobs here and there that are barely paying the bills. Please keep her in your prayers that she can find good employment. 

Well.... the truth should be stated. I believe I will be transferred next week, and I believe I will go to the South mission. Which means I will be in the new mission with the new Mission President. When I had an interview with President Howes the other week, he said some things that made it pretty easy to tell I would most likely leave the city, and truth be told, when Elder Yoshizawa came, I was expecting that as well. Most of the Cantonese speaking missionaries will go to the South Mission, so I have started to get things in order (making sure I have people contact info, creating small gifts for recent converts, and so on) so that way it doesn't turn into a mad rush like many missionaries have had in the past. Many times after missionaries hear they are being transferred they shut down. They get quite sad that they have to say goodbye and end up wasting a lot of time rushing around getting things completed they want to do before they leave. Seeing this has made me do some planning ahead so that I don't have to waste any time here. 

My time is almost up here, so I have to go. Love you all so much!  

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Sydney Week 25

Ran out of time because we got to the internet place late today :( We went and saw the kangaroos again and we got back later than expected. This week was amazing though! John is getting baptized this Saturday!!!!! :) Please keep him in your prayers! :) Love you all so much!

Hello! Thank you for the opportunity to meet and have an interview earlier this week. I felt greatly uplifted afterwards and continue to apply your advice daily in my life. This week was absolutely amazing. We accomplished and superceded the member present goal that I mentioned I wanted to have and I have seen how it has paid off so well. I don't want to just have that goal be a one time thing, but I know that as we continue to achieve that goal weekly, our investigators will continue to progress. We have seen that recently. Elder Yoshizawa and I have noticed that when we don't see our investigators more than once per week, they progress very slowly if at all. It is extremely difficult to make progress with them at the rate that we need and so we changed our game plan. Every time that we meet with someone we ask them if next week at the same time would work well for them to meet again. Then, we go about setting up another appointment time before that appointment next week. Most often people's schedules are the same for work or school, and so planning a week in advance gives them enough time to make sure they don't schedule other appointments with friends. We have found great success with this. Also, we have implemented a new 48-hr fellowship planning program as well. We try really hard to have all of our fellowships planned at least 48 hours in advance. This has helped us to minimize the amount of times members cancel last minute or are unable because they didn't have the time to plan ahead. I am very excited to see how this new pattern will continue to grant us success!

My core experience with God this week was in finding and teaching Bonnie. We were in the right place at the right time. She had been out on the streets looking for a church, when I walked up to her and talked to her. She agreed to come and see the church right then, we met with her, set up return appointments, discussed baptism, and commited her to come to church. She is meeting with us again tonight and has committed to be baptized on the 22nd of this month when she comes to know that the Book of Mormon is true. It was such an amazing miracle to find her and to help her in her life. She asked what made me talk to her, and I had to be honest. She was just the first person there when I turned around so I talked to her. It was a great lesson for me to learn that often times we won't have these large spiritual promptings, but the Lord has guided our footsteps to be in the right place at the right time. I don't believe in coincidences since I have seen way too many "perfect timing" instances in my life. The Spirit led me to be there at that time, and it did the same for her. I am grateful that as Mosiah 4:9 states "believe that man doth not comprehend all that the Lord doth comprehend." This is so true for me.

One way I can be more Christ-like this week is to continue to be more loving and charitable. As I have continued to show charity to my companion even though we already have a great relationship, I have seen how the blessings continue. I am anxious to see how close we can grow together as we continue to serve the Lord with our whole hearts.

Thank you for all you do. Excited to hear from you and Sister Howes in training this week, and I might reccomend someone else to say the blessing for the food this time :)

Last time at conference, they asked me to pray for the food and I said "please bless the food it will give us strength and noursihment, and wont make us sick." Afterward, President Howes said "glad you are so confident in my wife's cooking Elder Shafer :)" hahaha They still get a kick out of it today from what the Assistants tell me :)

Love you heaps!!!

Elder Shafer