Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bankstown 3 Week 6

Sorry, we ran out of time this week, I will just post my email to the Mission President. Love you all!!  

This week has been amazing! So many miracles and such great experiences that have really caused me to become aware of my need for humility and improvement! I constantly see how much I need to rely on the Lord in order to accomplish this work. This week we had some great miracles while tracting. We don't often tract here since so many people are on the street, but with school holidays, we decided to try some to see if people were home instead of going to the trains for classes. We found some great miracles! The first was that we were able to walk into someone's home, teach them about the Plan of Salvation and commit to seeing them again in 3 days! It was such a great miracle for us!! Another great thing was that about 15 minutes after that, we tracted into someone who we felt prompted to ask if they needed some help around their house with lawncare and such. The wife was deeply moved and when we came back the next day she mentioned that just the previous sunday she had prayed in her church asking Heavenly Father to help her manage things around her house. Her husband is not in the physical condition to work outside and her back has been having a lot of pain as she is trying to keep up her yard. She prayed for help and 2 days later we knocked on her door. We were able to share a message with her of why we serve found in Mosiah 2:17 and let her know that we serve because of our love for our Heavenly Father and His children. She agreed to having us come back, but since she is not Chinese, we will pass the ball to the trusted Hurstville Elders who I know will do a great job in continuing to teach her and her husband. Later, we continued to see great success as we contacted 2 referalls who come to a branch activity last Friday. A mother with 2 sons, the older one is 13 and the youngest almost 3. She and her older son committed to be baptized and came to all 3 hours of church yesterday! They are so prepared!!!! The work here is starting to pick up as we have added 5 new investigators this last week which is great because many of them have either returned home to China, or have stated for one reason or another they would not be able to keep meeting with us. As Elder Ng and I have pressed forward with faith and hard work, we have seen the miracles of heaven continue to pour out upon our heads! I love the work here and the Branch here!!!!! :)

This week, studying how to use time more wisely, I realized I need to be better at keeping up to date records of potentials and people. We do well in keeping track of our lessons, but unfortunately, other areas of organization could use a bit of improvement, and so with some new goals and planning set in motion, I am excited to become more organized and time-efficient! This week really has been great.

Elder Shafer

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bankstown 3 Week 5

Hello family!!

What an awesome week and especially weekend! We had the special opportunity to be involved in a stake "mini mission." Each elder or sister had a new companion (or some of the sisters had 3 new companions for a short time) to which they were assigned. We picked them up every morning at 7am starting on Friday. Had breakfast at the church, studied there, and then at 10 am until 9pm we were out doing our normal missionary routine! It was a very new but awesome experience. We did this for 3 days and then at the end we had a fireside meeting in which each mini missionary had a couple minutes to express their thoughts and feelings. The most common theme was "I never knew how hard missionary work is." But most of those who said this also stated right afterwards how much they enjoyed it. My favorite experience is Elder Tait's I will try to remember his words as accurately as possible, he said something similar to:

"I was companions with Elder Balenaivaukau (he had to try 3 times to pronounce it correctly :)) I learned 3 main things through my mini mission :1) Walking is hard. 2) This area has a lot of hills 3) Missionary work is so enjoyable!.
 I never knew how difficult missionary work is. My companion and I spent most of saturday walking up and down hills trying to contact and teach Less Active and Part-member families. None of them were home or would let us in. I remember in the middle of the day just feeling exhausted and wanted to give up. Then I looked over at my companion who had the same expression the whole day. A small smile and looking as if he was not tired at all! I thought originally it was probably because he is a rugby player ( he was on the national rugby team for Fiji before his mission) But it inspired me to be better. So we kept walking and had little luck all that day, but I truly began to just love the work. When we did have success, it was worth all the walking."

I really like how this mini missionaries attitude was changed and also how he rose to the occasion instead of giving up like he had mentioned he wanted to do. He inspired me to make sure I was always being the kind of missionary that when my companion needs an uplifting smile and a look of energy, I can give it. 

I will let my weekly letter talk about some of our experiences with my companion over the weekend:

This week was quite a great one! Although we had several of our most progressing investigators drop us because of either family opposition or moving to another house, we know that the Lord has a plan for them and that we can continue to rise up and build up our area here. This weekend was such a great experience. Being able to have mini missionaries with us for 3 days was such a blessing and was so enjoyable! The greatest miracle, for me, was when I heard Elder Malolo (my mini missionary companion, 16 years of age) stand up and bear his testimony that he now wanted to go on a mission. Our first day together He said he was not sure if he wanted to or not. So, trying as hard as I could to allow him to have a great experience, we went out and experienced as many areas of missionary work as we could in those couple days. We performed service for a nonmember, we tracted houses, contacted people on the street, taught investigators, member families, YSA's and had a great experience at a branch activity. With every new experience he was quite shy, but with a little time and work, he felt great accomplishment. I think my favorite experience was in tracting with him. He was scared to death when I first invited him to start the conversation. After a quick "Hello, we are missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, We have a message of Jesus Christ we would like to share with you." the person said they were not interested and shut the door gently. That was probably a miracle, no doors were slammed on us during tracting, only a lot of "no, thank you's." But after the door was shut, he sighed so big I thought he had been holding his breath for an hour! :) This one experience though helped him to continue to open his mouth and steadily he became more comfortable. When we finally were accepted into someone's house ( I tried a unique strategy- to ask if I could use someone's bathroom- which allowed us to step into their home and My companion was able to talk with them, and then we could switch) he was very ready to start talking and had a great conversation with the Husband. They were very nice and welcomed us to come back anytime and even thanked us for dropping by to use their restroom! It was quite a successful miracle in my opinion. 
Another great experience this week was in the branch activity on Saturday night. Our branch is quite small as you know and so we were quite worried that there were be few in attendance, but to our grateful surprise, more people showed up to it than we normally have at sacrament meeting! There were less actives I had not met, nonmember spouses who came with the rest of their family, and also some friends of members who all seemed to have a great time. One of the potential investigators even asked Elder Ng what she would have to do in order to get baptized!! It was such a great event and we now have several people we can follow up with and experiences we can share together with them to help them either come back into activity, or join the church. What's more is that I think the members really enjoyed this activity and were spiritually uplifted by it, and so the next activity we have will likely be even better since this one was such a success. I really do love this little branch. It is great to have the opportunity to help where help is needed so badly. There are many things to do, and few hands available to do them, so I wish I could grow more because I really have a desire for this branch to grow and flourish. I know it has great potential and I want to help that be achieved. 

One area of missionary work I forgot to mention we got into was our car breaking down haha! I accidentally left the lights on (we are required to always drive with our lights on because if you get in an accident, and your head lights are on, automatically, 10% of the blame shifts to the other party, and thus can save you quite a pretty penny..... cool fact given to us by our fleet elders who deal with car issues for the whole mission) and so we got back to our car when we needed to go to a dinner apt and it wouldnt turn over. Fleet ( the 2 elders assigned to take care of the temporal needs of missionaries, so we can fully focus on proselyting- Car problems, bike problems, flat repairs, etc)  was an hr away, so they couldn't give us a jump, and no other missionary vehicles have jumper cables, so we had to tract until someone had cables haha! Luckily it was only 2 houses, but it was a great opportunity to receive of some help and talk to them. The person who actually gave us a jump waved us away right when we got out of the car an hour previous. We saw him outside and went to say hello but he just waved us on and wouldnt let us come up. But I guess Heavenly Father really wanted us to at least talk to him. He still didn't even take our number in case he ever needed help, but that's okay. He will still be blessed for Helping out the Lord's servants, so that is good! 

Well my time is about up, but it really was a pretty good week! Unfortunately Jason, when he talked to his parents about his desire to be baptized, his mom got very angry and though his father supported him, she did not. We met with him one more time because he still really wants to learn from us, but he said that he will have to take a break from lessons since his parents are paying for him to attend uni here and he needs to respect their views. I really hope his mother's heart will be softened with time, because he has changed so much! In his last text he was really grateful and mentioned "Thanks for all that you have taught me, you really have helped me to get a great start in my relationship with God." 

There are so many wonderful people here that are like this. They have the seed planted and it is growing, but the growth is temporarily hindered by close friends or acquaintances. nevertheless, I know that one day things will all work out. The Lord always has plans in motion to allow everyone the opportunity to receive the gospel, even if the first opportunity doesn't work out, there will be another one in the future.

Love you all!

Elder Shafer

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bankstown 3 Week 4

G'day y'all! 

It has been pretty chilly here the past week but with the purchase of a warmer jacket I will be just fine from today on :) This week was quite great! I will let the email to President tell you a bit about it.

What a great week!! The opportunity to go to the Temple, and have zone conference plus a great Zone Training Meeting on Friday and a brief but effective power exchange with the Zone Leaders on Saturday made for a lot of time out of our proselyting area, but we still had a great week! It just made us plan even more effectively and allowed us the fun and privelidge of teaching appointments back to back on several days. It was so great to have Jason and Andy there at church this week. I guess it has been a while since this branch has seen new investigators coming to church because they were really welcoming and glad to meet these two new faces! But Elder Ng and I will continue to surprise the ward as we already have 4 lined up to come to sacrament this next Sunday and it's only Monday! :) I am really grateful for the opportunity to be here and serving in this area. with such a small branch there is a great amount of work to do which is excellent! The branch is starting to get more excited about missionary work and Elder Ng and I will continue to stir that fire. I believe as they see how passionate and hard working we are towards missionary work, they will take a part of our fire and use it to either start or stoke theirs, and before you know it, we will be burning it up in Bankstown 3! It is a little humorous because he and I joke about how our baptismal dates ran away to China, but we will keep adding more in the time that they are gone and then in August when they return, we will be quick to continue in their conversion. 
This week one of the greatest miracles was Andy and Jason staying for all 3 hours of church. Many investigators do not like to stay for all three hours, but both of them stayed and really enjoyed each hour. They both were excited to come back again next week as well. I really have such high hopes and aspirations for this little branch and this area. I know it has great potential to grow. I think it really helped having you and Sister Lew show up to sacrament meeting. Almost everyone that bore their testimony mentioned you both and then I also heard members mention how great it was to meet you and her even though you just recently arrived. 

Another Miracle this week was Ben. Elder Ng contacted him originally 8 weeks ago, and has kept semi frequent contact since Ben has said he has been very busy, but finally, after 8 weeks of compassion and persistence, Ben said that he would have time to meet with us. It was a great first meeting even though it was abruptly cut short. We were working towards inviting him to be baptized and attend church as well when he got a call from work saying he had to go back early from his lunch break and he needed to leave right away to make it on time. That was unfortunate, but I am glad that we got to meet with him and we will see him again this week. Maybe having to leave early will help him to set aside more time to meet with us next so we can teach a proper lesson. But he and his wife are recently married and are just starting to settle down here and I think they would be a great addition to the branch. So we will work on it :) 

Thank you again for yours and Sister Lew's comments at the Conference last Wednesday. I could really feel your love and I do know that you have been called to be my Mission President and Mission Mom at this time. I could feel that without a doubt and I am grateful for it.

So as you can see, I love my new Mission President and mission mom! Sister Lew is from Hong Kong and is probably 4'11" haha. She is tiny! :) When she stood behind the pulpit to talk to us during our first conference I could barely seen her and the mic was practically touching the podium haha, but seriously, they are the greatest! I really love and respect President and Sister Howes, but I truly felt different as President and Sister Lew were addressing us. I knnow that they are meant to be my mission Parents at this time. well how about that Worldwide Training Broadcast heh? It is pretty exciting the things that will be up and coming in the future to progress the work along. I am not sure how it will feel using Facebook as a missionary, but if that is what the Lord wants, it shall be done. I am sure it will not be the same use as before at home. Most likely It will be a new account as Elder Shafer, but who knows. Either way, that plus and other media usage, I know will bring us greater sucess. That truly is the day and age we live in now. As shown by the broadcast too. They showed so many videos and clips during it! 

We had a great dinner with Marc Gardner (Jr) this last week. He is heading back to Hawaii for school but invited us out to dinner with him and an investigator friend of his. He also spoke in our combined sacrament meeting we had with the other ward before viewing the broadcast a week from yesterday. It was really cool to retell his story with my investigators and other members. There are no coincidences for sure. Now that I live in the area, Marc Sr and I will be in contact more often as well. He wants to show me around Mom's old house that is still here from 30 years ago! Pretty cool! :) 

I am so fortunate to be here in this area at this time. Cantonese keeps improving and is an answer to prayer every day. I have a LONG ways to go, but at least I am getting a lot better at understanding people. I didn't realize how differently even Cantonese people speak one from another. Each city has it's own accent and so not only is the language difficult, but understanding different people's accents adds to the mix as well. I can understand Hong Kong accents the easiest because I have had HK companions, but I am finally starting to get the Guangzhou accents down a bit more as well. Now just a couple other cities in the large mass of Southern China and I will be okay haha, but I know that the Lord is helping me every step of the way. 
I love you all so much! Time just keeps flying by over here! Does the world spin as fast on that side of the planet as this one??

Also, Wanted to just double check and see the update for the New mission. Who is the New Mission President in Vancouver? How are things going there regarding that? I pray that you will accomplish your missionary goals back home!


Elder Shafer

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bankstown 3 Week 3 (sorry a week late in posting)

Wow, this week has been such an experience ;) I wrote a long letter to President Lew today since he just got here yesterday, and our mission finally opened when he stepped off the plane. So exciting! :) I also had to write a couple other good recent converts back so the time today was not quite as long as I was hoping, but I wanted to make sure they knew how to keep in contact since we can contact now that the missions are different. I love you all! Keep me updated on how things are!  

Hello!!!! :) It is so great to have the opportunity to write you! I hope to not come across as overly excited, but to be honest, I am very excited for the hastening of the Lord's work here in the Australia Sydney South Mission. I have just recently moved here into the Cantonese Branch 2 weeks ago, and it has been such a wonderfully different experience. As you may know, I have served my entire mission in the city until this point and so working in a much larger area, being fully immersed in Cantonese, learning to drive safely on the other side of the road, teaching in member's homes rather than the nice quiet teaching center with the chapel right upstairs, and much more has been a very different experience than previously in my mission. However, I am thrilled and look forward to the future of this branch here. This week was definitely one to build the faith of Elder Ng and myself. We had our investigator with a baptismal date receive opposition from his family that has caused him to not desire to be baptized anymore, another investigator of ours that we had found recently and who we felt had great potential to be baptized next month also texted us letting us know he could not believe the things we had taught and he previously had agreed with, and another progressing investigator also has seemed to be much less interested in continuing to learn about the Gospel. Amidst these sad experiences though, I know that we can and will rise above what we had ever expected as we keep focused on the Savior and are working to fulfill His will. Elder Ng and I continue to grow closer together, especially through these experiences of trial. I feel that we are fulfilling the wonderful scripture of Ether 6:12: "And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

Though we cannot see it yet, as we continue to exercise our faith, I know we will see miracles continue to happen. It is interesting, but I do believe that the Lord is preparing this area to recieve of Elder Ng and myself. Perhaps we are not the right missionaries to continue to teach those specific people who do not desire to learn at this time. It may be hard to accept and understand that, but I know that He guides and directs this work. I have seen that there are people who I feel have been specifically prepared to meet me, and so I believe that is the same here. The Lord has more prepared to be taught and found by Elder Ng and myself and so I am excited to go out and accomplish His plans. 

I want you to know how much my mission means to me. These people and these experiences have changed my life forever. It seems an interesting pattern for me how the more I continue to give to the Lord, the more He continues to give back. I have been blessed to have a wonderful family, a knowledge of the gospel, good health, great friends, the list goes on and on, and when I feel that I have no other area in which I deserve blessings, and I truly want to just give back, He continues to pour out blessings upon my head. Perhaps you can solve the equation for me, because I have not yet figured it out :) He truly is so merciful. 

I am very excited to be here at this monumental time of the work. In one of my favorite poems, written by Elder Eyring it states "my past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure." I truly feel that way now. I am by no means a perfect missionary, but I know that the efforts and work I put into my last area was pleasing unto the Lord and the mistakes I have made in the past are redeemed. At this time in the present, my goal and mission makes sense. And with Faith in the Lord, I know my future always is secure. The work here is so amazing. There is lots of it, which is great because I love to work. 

I am sure that there are many things which are upon your mind at this moment and there may be several things which cause you concern or worry, but I want to let you know Elder Ng and I are here to work, serve, and do everything we can to bring about eternal happiness for these people here. Since you do live quite close to us, if there is ever any help that you need, we are always willing to help a neighbor :) I am excited to meet you and Sister Lew in this upcoming week.

Elder Shafer