Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 1

G'day mates!
What a crazy week this has been! So, just a quick recap. Monday morning, Elder Ah Fook drove up here with Elder Delphin who flew home on Tuesday morning. Elder Ah Fook and I from that time on starting working together up in Sydney. We had to stick around for a couple days since we were having meetings on Thursday and Friday that we needed to attend, and so instead of driving for 3 hours each way, President just had us stay with the Assistants and the Fleet Elders and help wherever we could. That meant we helped Fleet a lot to prepare for the upcoming transfer (clearing out rubbish and broken furniture from the flats to prepare them for new missionaries, taking loads to the dump- they call it the "tip" here- installing new beds for missionaries and many other "behind the scenes" jobs that we dont think of right away when we think of missionary work. But because of these things, missionaries now will have clean flats with beds when they come rather than dirty flats and the floor with a small blanket to sleep on.
Then, Thursday morning we had a Mission Leadership Meeting with Elder Hamula. He is over all the missions in the South Pacific. His wife is the GREATEST! She is really funny and actually reminds me a lot of Anna's Mom, Sister Fielding. They have a very similar voice and personality- one of love and compassion for everyone. She said that she always feels honored to stand among so many missionaries because she thinks of all of our mothers and how much they would sacrifice to have the opportunity she gets so often. They both helped us a lot in regards to how we can be great leaders and also some training on how to help discouraged missionaries get back up on their feet and working again. Finally, Friday we loaded up in the car and headed down to Canberra. I about froze! Although it was the first day of spring yesterday, it still gets in the single digits in the night. But I will be wishing that it will stay cool like this in a couple of weeks because I hear Canberra get VERY hot in the summer since it is away from the coast.
Have to go soon, but really this week has been awesome. My world has flipped upside down now that I am living with 2 tongans, a Samoan, live in a completely opposite climate and am watching over 24 missionaries as if they were my children rather than focusing mostly on training 2. But I love it. The work is great!
About my Companion- His name is Elder Ah Fook. He is Samoan, but was born and grew up in California, near LA. There are 10 kids in his family and they are all in different walks and stages of life. He really has a powerful testimony of the Atonement and forgiveness because of some of his experiences in life. He shared it with me, but I am not sure he would want the whole world to know over the internet, so I will refrain from re-writing it. He is a fantastic missionary and I know he will continue to help me a lot in learning how to be a good example and leader for the zone. Our other 2 flat mates are from Tonga and are quite a crack up. They are both giants and laugh louder than anything, but I love it. The Islander people always love to laugh and to sing. We will often sing together in the morning to help us wake up and get going because it is really difficult to get the desire to exercise when it's freezing cold. The temptation to just sit in front of the heater to stay warm is sometimes difficult, so we will sing to help us warm up and get moving haha. 
I have to go now, but here is my letter to President:
Canberra is awesome! It was so great to finally get down here into the area. Living with the Assistants, fleet Elders, and the other Elders visiting for conference was great, but I was really glad to finally get down into our area Friday night and get to work down here. I have come to see even more how important planning is being a Zone Leader. Not only do we have to plan for our area to be a model and example, but we also need to plan for our whole zone, for trainings, for activities in the Stake and are constantly trying to lift and encourage the other areas in our zone. It is great and exciting work for sure! On the way down, we stopped by and visited Ashley Hall, the 13 year old boy who was baptized just 2 days ago and confirmed yesterday. He is awesome! My first day, I get to meet him and his family as they are preparing for the service the next day. I can't think of a better way to start off in a new area. Sacrament meeting was also a big and pleasant surprise. We had almost 170 people at sacrament meeting, which would be about 3 times as many as normally come to sacrament in the Cantonese branch I had attended last week. Though the ward is much larger, I can still see areas where we can improve a lot and I am excited to help the ward continue to grow and rescue those who desperately need the Lord's assistance and guidance in their lives.
Elder Ah Fook is the greatest! He really knows how to have a good relationship with the other members of our zone. I think a large part of the unity we have in our zone is because of his love and guidance. He is helping me continue to learn how to be a better leader and I am grateful for him. His own personal conversion story is a remarkable one as well and allows him to really testify of the Atonement with personal experience.
This week from studying about the Holy Ghost and it's importance in conversion, I have learned more how the Spirit will only be there to testify when we are doing it the Lord's way. We need to continue to stick to the basics and bear frequent testimony to have Him be there to bear witness. I have learned that realistically, we cannot control the Holy Ghost or force him in any way. We can't think that just because we are saying the truth that He will automatically be there despite all other things. We must do our part and show Him that He is invited, and when we have done that, He absolutely will come. This has been important for me to learn because it has made me think of ways that I can continue to improve so that I am inviting the Spirit at all times, prior to and during the lesson. For example, I have often wondered how I can continue to develop a good relationship with investigators and make them feel we care about them in their life without drawing away from the Spirit. Many times we will meet, say a prayer and then when we ask them how their week was, we get side tracked into subjects such as work or vacations which are not bad, but don't really invite the Spirit. I have found that as we take about 5 minutes or so before the prayer and get these questions and "small talk" aside, when we actually say the prayer and begin the lesson, it is much more gospel focused and so our investigators will have a greater ability to discern when the Spirit is there during the lesson and when He is not as we have left. Just this one small change I have seen has helped us to have more effective lessons. Another thing I have learned in Chapter 4 is to have faith and trust that He will be there when we have done our part. We need to remember that He is working even harder than we are to help these people, and so at every opportunity that He can, He will be there to lead and guide them, we just need to offer Him the right opportunities to do His job and not push Him away.

All in all, it has been a fantastic week and I am very excited for my first full week here in the Canberra Zone. So grateful that Elder Hamula shared some more insights and I was able to learn more and have an increased desire to ALWAYS open my mouth, especially in asking referrals, because we have quite a bit of finding to do ahead of us! :)

Love you all!
Elder Shafer

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