Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bankstown 3 Week 11

Something new and unexpected is happening! President invited me into his office Friday morning before District Training meeting, and said "Elder Shafer, I have a new assignment for you." I started sweating and swallowed nervously.... I already had 2 missionaries I was training in a struggling little branch where I barely even speak the language and much less understand the culture, have to watch over my district which has 6 missionaries who have been in their new areas for less than a month, and now, what more do you want from me?! hahaha, No this didn't quite go through my head, but it was a shock. Then he asked if I would go and be a zone leader in Canberra ( 3.5 hours south) because the zone leader down there has to go home for medical recovery. Whoa!! I seriously just laughed for a second or two and then realized he was serious. Then of course I accepted and the thoughts kept coming that made this situation all the more crazy! But I think Elder Lam's and Elder Bartholomew's faces were even better when President told them I was leaving and that Elder Lam would now train Elder Bartholomew hahaha! Oh the Lord gives us some great suprises in life sometimes :)

I have to go home and pack now because I will be leaving the flat by 5pm, but I will attach President's letter as well as part of my letter to Adam.

This last week in Hurstville has been so great! Especially Yesterday at Sacrament meeting. It was such a reward and tender mercy for me to see many less actives who I have been working for and trying to bring back come. We had the most people that I had ever seen attend Sacrament! Although not nearly as many investigators as we had planned for were able to come, many less actives which were unexpected came! It was the largest Sunday School class and Sacrament meeting I have seen since being here and it truly was a great last goodbye as I know that I will be leaving today. The Lord always knows our desires and blesses us with tender mercies often. I am so grateful that He loves and cares about me. We had a great opportunity on Saturday evening to go and have dinner with a less active family. The mother and 1 daughter are less active while her husband is not a member yet. The youngest and active daughter invited us to dinner and it was a great success! Our first desire was to have investigators come to Chester's baptism, but when all invitations came back in the negative, we planned for the dinner. The lesson was focused in gratitude and displaying our gratitude through prayer. Since our branch here does not have home teaching or visiting teaching, we wanted to try and share the home teaching message with the less active members that we visit. We have found that this has been very successful! More people are willing to let us in when we show them that we have a message prepared from The Ensign. I think it may be less intimidating to them, and so far it has worked out well. We shared the message and they committed to pray daily and express gratitude for their blessings. We then continued to keep the conversation focused on missionary work (a member and his wife were there and so we kept asking them questions about when they were on their missions) and at the end, the nonmember husband, the less active daughter, and the less active mother said they would see us the next day at church. and..... THEY CAME! :) seeing them walk through the doors of the church for the first time since I have been here and probably for the first time in months previous was so great! Although it wasn't planned, the closing hymn "God be with you till we meet again." was great as well since it is one of my favorites, and as we were singing I was really pondering on how quickly these last 10 weeks have gone and how I truly have tried to help this branch so much. It has been great to know that I have left his area better than I found it. Though I did not witness any baptisms while here, there are now 3 investigators whom the Lord has prepared and who have committed to be baptised this month. It has been great to serve here. 

This week I have studied more about chapter 8 in how to be more organized and use time more wisely. I know as a zone leader, I will need to have this chapter mastered and in use daily. I have gone through again the area book and my planner to make sure that all things are up to date and I am using every apsect of these useful tools to the best of my ability. Though I was not very organized before my mission, I continue to improve in my organization here, and I am seeing how useful it is!

It took a while to get the branch up and running, but now we have 3 baptismal dates for this next month and a much better teaching pool. I really feel that this work has also been very different, but although I won't see any baptisms here, I know that I thrust in my sickle and did what I was meant to do.

That's about it for now. All in all, as you also know, missionary work is THE BEST!!!! I love these people so much! I never thought I would meet so many people from so many different countries. I have taught lessons to people from over 20 different countries as of now! That's pretty crazy in my opinion, I never thought I would have done that. From China to Laos, to Thailand, to France, to Germany, to Taiwan, US, Au, Brazil, and many other places, like Croatia! Where in the world is that haha? and Macau? Luckily I had a world map to look at because I had no idea where these people were from. I met one of the members from the very first Stake organized in Rwanda as well! That was awesome!

Love you all!

Elder Shafer

Bankstown 3 Week 10

Dear Family and Friends,

What a HECTIC week :) it was really awesome and it just FLEW by! My second companion Elder Bartholomew is so awesome! He is from Springfield, Utah, and is such a crack up!! He definitely is a very unique individual, but I just love working with him. My other son Elder Lam (when we train new missionaries, we call them our sons, and they call us fathers haha) and him are very different, but we do just fine together. I think the greatest thing about Elder Bartholomew is when he introduces himself to Chinese people because they have no idea how to repeat his name! It still makes me laugh even though it has happened quite often here. We really are so blessed here though. If you can please keep Susan and Jackie in your prayers that would be great! both of them are preparing for baptism this upcoming September. I wish I had more time to explain their situations, but both of them are amazing miracles in how we found them!

I love hearing of all the wonderful miracles that are happening back at home, Heavenly Father truly is so generous to us in pouring out blessings upon our heads. We received a text from an investigator of ours named Andy last Sunday. We had met with him before church and talked a while about priorities in our lives. He was very concerned with how difficult it is for him to work full-time, study part-time, and continue to meet with us, and come to church. He wants to come he says, but he feels it is hard for him to get enough time studying. Thankfully our Branch Mission Leader is in the exact same position as him and was able to add some personal advice. We talked to him about how the Gospel and our life are not two seperate things, but that the Gospel, when applied into our lives, makes our life so much easier and is a help! We promised him that as he would continue to pray, read from the scriptures, and attend church, the Spirit would be with him to help him study well and be effective in his time. He texted us and said that after our meeting, he felt he had one of the most productive day's of study he had ever had! It was a great testimony to me of how the Lord blesses us with things that are important to us, as we show that He is important to us. Here is my letter to president:

What a great week! Elder Bartholomew is such a great missionary! I can see his potential is immense, he just will continue to need time to bring it all out. It is really great to have such a PMG missionary already on board. He is an incredible addition to our companionship. It has been really enjoyable to help him overcome his fears as well. For him, as is natural with all new missionaries, talking to complete strangers about the gospel is intimidating. But the more that he does, I see his confidence grow and his desire continues to improve by leaps and bounds to share the gospel. It has been very interesting to learn how to transition to teaching, planning, studying, and finding in a group of 3 rather than just with one companion, but once again, the addition of testimony and talent the Lord has placed in Elder Bartholomew is such a great addition to our companionship. One of the greatest miracles we saw this week was in delivering the cookies we made as a branch activity for the less active members of our branch. Last Friday night we had a branch activity at the chapel where we baked cookies and wrote notes to the less active members we would love to see come back to church. We had everything ready to go and were so excited!! Only the Branch Mission Leader showed up for the activity though. At first, i was disappointed that nobody else was willing or available to come and help us with the rescuing effort of their friends and family, but I didn't let it get my spirits down. We did everything we had planned to do and we were determined to have these cookies bring at least one less active member back. Luckily, that evening a couple members showed up for other meetings or activities and we had them write notes to the members that they knew. As we delivered the cookies in behalf of the members who didn't have cars to deliver them, we felt great knowing we were doing something different that would have an effect. After all, who wouldn't love getting home made cookies from a friend of theirs and a hand written note to show some love after a hard day at work!? It was a success! Several members we had not seen in a long time were touched and said they would come to church the next Sunday and I think a big improvement was made to help these members develop friendships. 
This week we have been focusing a lot on effective finding and always, always seeking referrals. Though I still often forget, as I keep trying to improve and remember, I notice more miracles happening. One lady I talked to on the street said very quickly that she "was Protestant and didn't need saving." Though she didn't seem the most warm and friendly, I still felt I should ask if she knew anyone else who would benefit from hearing about Jesus Christ, as she rushed off to her appointment, she yelled back that her land lady only spoke Chinese, and could use help learning English and then gave us the address, before I could finish writing it and saying thank you she was running accross the crosswalk, but it was a great experience for me to remember, that even when people don't seem interested at all to talk with us, they know someone who would, and they may be willing to allow us to talk to them.

It really has been a great week, too many miracles, and too little time to talk about them all. Thank you all for your support, love, and prayers. Love you so much!

Elder Shafer

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bankstown 3 Week 9

Wow! Big news! I was just informed this morning while buying groceries that President Lew would like our area to work as 3 missionaries. Elder Bartholemew, who just landed today from the MTC will be joining Elder Lam and I. I joked with Elder Lam and let him know that President called and wants him to train 2 missionaries, myself and a brand new missionary from the MTC, his jaw dropped and he goes, "are you kidding!?" Haha it was good fun, but yeah..... please keep Elder Bartholemew and Elder Lam in your prayers as both of them will have to suffer from me trying to train them here in Australia. Those poor missionaries. We had so many miracles this week! I will let my letter to President let you know about them. We have to go to our Zone BBQ that we are already late for.... oops! :)

Love you all!

This week was the best that I have had in this area for sure! We saw so many miracles that happened between Friday and Saturday. To start off, our investigator invited us to have dinner together last Friday night to celebrate my birthday. So, I asked him if I could invite a couple of my friends from the branch as well. Since it was my birthday, he kindly accepted! But the greatest miracle was that both of them brought a nonmember friend, and also one of the recent converts that I taught in the city surprised me by showing up as well! It was so great to see many friends gathered together in friendship together. I kept pondering about how I could share a message with these wonderful people since the original lesson I had planned for that one investigator wouldn't be fitting for such a large group. I felt prompted to just share my story of how I grew up, why I came here on a mission, and how each of these people has affected my life so much. After I shared that, the conversation turned to having birthday cake and so forth, but after we finished eating and left the restaurant, one of the nonmembers said that she was really touched by what I had said and she expressed interest in hearing more of "my story." Thanks to good friends, who jumped on the opportunity, she went to church in the city the next day and will be meeting with missionaries up there. The other nonmember brought said that he would like to meet with us again as well! And the original investigator who invited us was greatly strengthened by the friendships made that night. It was quite a success!! 

On Saturday, we had quite a bit of finding time since we are continuing to build our area. There were great miracles that happened! We really wanted to invite all our investigators to Brad's baptism at 2pm, so we started calling and inviting everyone after our companionship study to give them some time, and while we didn't get any of our investigators to come, one of our potentials said she would love to meet with us that day. We met with her right before the baptism and before her appointment which was the same time as Brad's baptism. She is so prepared!! She commited to baptism, to come to church, and to pray daily! On Wednesday we will see her again and set a date and give her a copy of the Book of Mormon so she can gain a testimony of that. After we commited her to baptism she said "the only thing is, I want to make sure I know all the rules and guidelines that come along with being Christian. I don't like to break the rules, so I wont be baptized unless I know what I can and cannot do." She is very sincere and loved church. After the baptism, we came back and continued to find more since our other appointments fell through. Another miracle ensued! A young man named Yang invited us to sit down on the bench with him after we approached him and talked for a minute. At first he seemed to just compare what our beliefs were to his "cultural buddhism." Many people here are that way, they don't truly believe in buddhism, but it is a cultural lifestyle for them growing up, so they naturally follow those beliefs and such. But as we continued to testify and answer his questions, he continued to feel the Spirit more. He also commited to come to church the next day and offered the prayer before we left. I am so glad that the Spirit will lead us and guide us in all that we do. There are so many people in the world that it would be easy to just get lost talking to those who are not prepared yet. But as we continue to follow the Spirit and talk to everyone in our path, the Lord will place those in our path who are prepared, and on special occasions, he has clearly told me who I need to talk to. Each time a wonderful experience has followed. I know that I am only entitled to the companionship of the Holy Ghost as I continue to be obedient, and so I will always do all that I can to make sure I am exactly obedient to His will.

Bankstown 3 Week 8

Well, thank you all for the birthday wishes. It's weird to think that this Friday I will no longer be a teenager haha :) But I am excited to spend my birthday doing what I love most! So yes, as you know I am "training" Elder Lam. He is from Hong Kong, a convert of 5 years and is pretty awesome! I say "training" Because he already served 3 months in Hong Kong and is set up and ready to go! I am excited to be his companion! He is helping me a lot with Cantonese already! I love all of his great ideas and his broken English haha. It makes for some great laughs as I mess up in Cantonese and he makes some minor mistakes in English in our conversations. But between the two of us, we are fluent in both Cantonese and English, so it works out alright ;)

Had to respond to a couple Happy birthday emails so I didn't have as much time today, love you all!!!

Hello!! This week has been so great for Elder Lam and I! I hope it has been well for you and Sister Lew as well. It has been a pretty crazy week getting things all sorted out with the training meetings, explaining the area, establishing a good relationship with the new branch mission leader, and planning for some great activities the branch will be hosting for our upcoming "missionary month" that the branch is focusing on this month. But it has all been great! just one small question, you said I would be training. Well, Elder Lam is already trained and ready to go! :) His understanding of the gospel, teaching skills, obedience, and worth ethic amaze me! He and I are both going through the 12 weeks program together again, but I truly feel that it is not me training him one bit, but us reviewing and training one another. His 3 months service in Hong Kong before coming here to Australia has helped him tremendously and he truly is a great asset to this area. We had some great miracles this past Sunday! Studying Chapter 9 of Preach my Gospel as per your request gave me some new ideas for finding and we tried to put them into practice this Sunday after Church. Miracles happened! We were able to add 4 new investigators in the space of less than 4 hours, gave out all of my Restoration Pamphlets that I had in my bag, a copy of the Book of Mormon, and committed someone to watch the Restoration Video that we helped them to find on Youtube. It was an amazing day! :) I have come to realize more and more that when I find, the only thing I need to do is ask questions as directed by the Spirit, and testify. Doing this has brought more success than I could have imagined. I love to be a servant of the Lord and to testify to everyone that I can about Christ. The upcoming week will be another great one indeed, I already know it! :)

Bankstown 3 Week 7

WHAAA! Why does time always run out :( We once again had another crazy pday where emails had to be put at the end of the day, and I have to leave in 3 minutes to go and give a baptismal interview for a family in our district. Her and her son will be baptized tomorrow evening! :) They are from the Philipines, and are doing quite well. So 2 more baptized for our district!
So as you will read, transfers happened this last Monday. My entire district got transferred except for me and the travelling sisters. Myself and Elder Ng are splitting and we are both training new elders. We will pick them up tomorrow, so I don't know who it is yet, sorry! :) The new elders in our flat though are awesome! They are quite funny in their personality, but are very humble so I know they will have great success! One is from Japan and his English is...... improving :) the other is from Kalamath Falls, Oregon, so it is fun to know someone from the NW here as well!
Love you all so much!
Where has the time gone?! Elder Ng and I it seems just started our time together and now we are seperating so that both of us can train new missionaries. Time truly does fly when you are involved in the Lord's work! This week has been a rush but also has had some great miracles! Though the baptismal dates are still hard in coming, You will find that I am persistent and so I know we will get some this week. We have plans in motion to set 2 this week, so with faith and prayers it will happen. This week in regards to asking for referrals. There was this one investigator Elder Philips and I went to see when I was on trade offs with the Hurstville elders. It was an interesting meeting with him, mostly just us hearing his complaints about his neighbors and family, but after we shared about gratitude through reading the parable of the 10 lepers, He mentioned that we as missionaries should go around healing others as Christ did, and said specifically "you should carry with you a healing message to give to people." I dont think he knew exactly what he was saying because he was exactly right even though he was trying to make a mock of us in a joke. We do carry a message of healing! And funny enough, at the end of the lesson, I asked "brother Michael, we do like to share our message of healing with everyone, who do you know that we could share it with?" Immediately after he gave us a number and an address that we could go visit!, though he "didn't care much for the man" he thought he could use a bit of our healing message, so he gave us his details. Elder Philips was blown away and I thought it was a great miracle as well!
I am grateful for this opportunity to train a new elder. At your training you mentioned that we should feel a great responsibility and that we should not treat this lightly. I do. I will do my best to turn this young missionary into the best "preach my gospel" missionary he can be in 12 weeks. Because with how many more are coming, I wouldn't be suprised one bit if he starts training right after he is trained! That's my goal and vision for him, so I will do all I can to achieve it. This week has been a great one. We set a new record for our member present lessons this week, so that is quite exciting! We will continue to reach new and greater heights in the branch. Plus, we got a new Branch Mission Leader who is an RM and is very excited to help us turn this branch into a ward. It will take some time, but I know it's possible! Thanks for all that you and Sister Lew do for us. I can really feel your love and thank you for it
Elder Shafer