Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sydney South Mission Week 3

Dear Everyone!

Happy Easter!! I hope the easter bunny arrived safe and sound and has delivered some goodies worth keeping. I have fond memories of running around as a child looking for easter eggs and being so happy to get all those goodies :) Too bad this year I just need to buy my own haha. This easter has been a great one and will continue to be I am sure! tonight we have a missionary Easter fireside that we will likely be attending, I am sure the music and speakers will do a great job, will let you know how it goes though :) 

Things have been pretty busy around the office recently, but all continues to go along well. Yesterday Elder Williams and I took a new senior couple out to Bathurst. With them only arriving and having very little experience driving in AU, we didn't feel it was wise to just send them out there alone all by themselves, so we drove with them and dropped them off and helped show them around and become accustomed to the good ol outback of Australia :) All in all, it was about 8 hours of driving to and from including some traffic, so it was a LONG day of driving. It is absolutely beautiful out where they live though. 

For my study this morning, I reflected upon the Savior's sacrifice and Resurrection. one of my favorite talks upon this subject is Elder Hollands address "none were with Him." 
I would invite you all to read it and apply his invitation that we "declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,” 21  for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone."

I have seen in my life time and time again how having a strong belief in Jesus Christ and trust in Him has helped me. Life is hard, but following the gospel of Jesus Christ makes life easier and more enjoyable. Because of Him, we all will live again. At this Easter season, and hopefully at each Easter season I will reflect upon my good friend John Wang. Last year, I met John on the street in Sydney. Talking with him and helping him find directions to Chinatown, I asked if he had a belief in God. He replied that he didn't believe God is real. I asked if He knew why we were celebrating Easter that upcoming weekend. He also didn't know what the meaning of Easter was, and why we celebrated it. I invited him to come with us to the chapel, where we could explain to Him why Easter is so important for us in the world. Though it wasn't a fast process, this one question branched off into many others and many questions answered for John before he decided to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He is and always will be an inspiration to me! Easter time is such a wonderful time to celebrate the renewal of many things, but most importantly, the resurrection of our Savior, and ponder upon our blessings because He Lives. There is a great video I would like to share with you all:

watch and enjoy! :)

I hope you all have a fantastic easter and truly enjoy the meaning of why we celebrate this wonderful holiday :)


Elder Shafer

Sydney South Mission Week 2

Dear Everyone,

Well, Transfer week is over! We had a hectic few days in planning everyone's travel to and from transfers, making sure new flats were open and ready for missionaries to move into, the appropriate cars were switched, phones and keys were assigned properly and all the other minor assignments were done correctly. I will admit there was quite a bit of stress in the air as I had many questions coming to me, and very few answers haha but it worked out okay! :) Then, after the inital transfer Monday, we had to prepare for the missionaries who were leaving on Tuesday, then had to organize and finalize details for the missionaries coming in on Wednesday, and the orientation meeting on Thursday. Needless to say that transfers week is a busy one, but that is also enjoyable as well :)

My Letter to President adds some more as well:

Sorry that this letter is getting to you a bit late. We just finished getting all of the sisters beds into their flats so they no longer have to sleep on the ground. Now we are just doing some more paperwork and preparation for tomorrows meetings. This past week has been a big step and increase for me I think. I will admit, it has caused, and will continue to cause some stretching in my life :) I really do not know how you and Sister Lew do it... you continue to inspire me with your hard work and diligence. I am very excited to work with you both and see you on a day to day basis. I know I will learn a lot. I am also very grateful for Elder Williams, he is a wonderful companion, and someone that I really enjoy being around. We have been talking a lot about what we want to accomplish, and how we feel both of us can influence the mission in a positive way. Thank you so much for the orientation that we had the other day, it helped me to realize what we can continue to do in order to be the best examples we can for the missionaries. I would like to set some new goals for myself and discuss the goals we can accomplish as a companionship in order to make sure we are meeting all of your expectations for us. I will try my best :) Thank you for the trust you have placed in me, I know that this position comes with a lot of responsibility and so I want to say thank you for the trust you have placed in me, I know that with the Lord, I can do what is required. I really enjoyed the experience of planning transfers. Though at times it was very stressful and exhausting, it made me understand the sanctity of transfers, and I now know on a personal level how inspired transfers really are. There were several times where the thought would come to me of who should be with whom, and feeling a little bit nervous or insecure because I was so new, I didn't voice my opinion yet, but held the thought in my mind, and thankfully almost every time, the idea that I had, was mentioned by someone else and it was done as well. That gave me more courage to voice my opinion later and I came to realize that the spirit is the one guiding us all, each of us may have different things that we know or feel, and impressions can come to us individually for the common good. For example, I felt strongly the impression that Sister Morales would be a great companion for Sister Levine. I thought this was quite odd since I barely knew sister Levine and had only a few interactions with sister Morales as well, but still, the thought came to me that they should be together and so I mentioned my opinions on it, and it came to pass! I think this was a tender mercy for me from the Lord, because prior to the transfer planning, I really did feel inadequate since I knew so very few of the missionaries. He knows my worries, and answers my prayers, I know that. 

This week from reading in the Book of Mormon, I came to appreciate more the value of a name. In Helaman 5, we learn of how Nephi and Lehi were named after their ancestors in order to help them remember their good works. My Dad once told me prior to my mission, that I need to remember BOTH of the names on my badge. firstly, and most important, is Jesus Christ. At all times I must represent Him. He also mentioned though, that I must not forget my surname which is also present on my badge. I have to remember the good deeds of my family, those who are supporting me, and remember that I will always represent them as well in a manner of speaking. 

So yeah, this week has been good but different for sure. I am starting to get to know many more missionaries and realy enjoy the power that they bring with them. It has been really great learning from President Lew so much as well. He gave me some great tips and instruction on how to properly conduct a meeting and make sure that I do a proper job. He is a very intelligent man for sure. 

Last night I had an awesome experience! I got to meet up with Andy (someone I had taught in my first two areas) and another great member friend from my first area in downtown sydney. We all went out and had some awesome chinese hot pot! It was absolutely delicious and was great to see some old friends as well :) I feel it a special blessing I can live and work in an area that is so close to all the people I used to teach and interact with. Being emergency transferred, I felt I didn't get a proper chance to say goodbye before leaving down to serve in Canberra, but I guess that is because the Lord knew it wasn't goodbye, it was just a "cya later!" I am grateful for the tender mercies He grants us. 

It is currently between the afternoon session and the priesthood session of General Conference. Since we have to hang around the chapel anyways, and the mission office is in the chapel, we wanted to use this opportunity to write some emails quick. I think (or hope) that we can get onto a more regular routine of things. Elder Williams and I have been talking a lot and he has mentioned he really appreciates that He and I have been able to do that. We have made a diligent effort to try and plan ahead and accomplish tasks when it makes more sense to, rather than just running about doing each task right when it comes. Instead, we have been able to step back and accomplish things in a more timely manner and it has turned out that we get more done! :) Yay! 
So yeah, since the computers normally are more available over the weekend since the senior couples don't work full days on the weekends, we are planning to email either on saturday or sunday if we can.... so you can keep an eye out for emails around this time I guess. 

From Conference so far I have learned some great lessons!

1) Everyone needs Love, Prayers, and a "thank you" (Elder Rasband)
2) Christlike love is the most needed thing on the planet (Elder Holland)
3) Daily Scripture study and Prayer Simplify, not complicate our lives (Sister Reeves)
4) The world will not glide calmly to the Second Coming of the Savior (Elder Andersen)
5) God makes it attractive to Choose the right by giving us consequences (Elder Eyring)

More to come from the afternoon session and other sessions, I need to go now :)

Have a great week!!
Love ya,

Elder Shafer

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sydney South Mission Week 1


This week has been a huge change for sure.... let's just say working in the office is VERY different from what I am used to haha. I am still getting used to it for sure and will be for quite some time I am sure, but some things I have learned so far are:
1. President and Sister Lew are AWESOME and super funny. I really keep feeling more and more like family with them
2. There are heaps of missionaries in our mission- 210 to be exact right now, and each and every single one of them is specific and unique. We definitely don't have any "cookie-cutter" missionaries here in the Australia Sydney South Mission
3. Helping President plan out transfers feels like studying advanced chemistry for 12 hours straight. Honestly..... my mind went numb with how many names we were talking about and where each should go and why and then someone else brings up another point and that whole plan you had just made is now changed and you repeat that process about 90 times before it is finalized who will go where with what companion, serving in what leadership role. Not to mention, while planning for this transfer you also have to keep in mind the future transfers as well- who will be going home soon, who looks qualified to serve in leadership in coming months and so on. There is a lot to talk about, and a lot of pressure as well because these decisions could greatly affect the next 6 weeks or more of someone's life. They don't get to choose where they go, President does, and he greatly depends upon us as assistants to give him proper reviews and good feedback, and asks us our opinion on each and every missionary. 
4. (I am still figuring this one out, and this is the weirdest and hardest one of all) We are not expected to maintain the same missionary schedule as regular proselyting missionaries. There are times where we have to stay up past 10:30pm in order to finish planning out travel details for transfers, create reports needed for the upcoming week, conference, etc etc.... We don't have an assigned P-day in order to shop, email, clean the flat, or do anything else to just relax for a bit, and so we have to just find the best time to do that throughout the week. It has been a really unique twist for me- we will be driving from one appointment to another and have to duck in to buy groceries, then the next day we had to wash the car, and clean the flat when we can. It has been a really weird switch going from being so structured every minute of the day to not being able to be structured out like that. I think this one I will have to keep getting used to because it is so foreign, but I am very grateful for Elder Williams and Elder Puriri. They have been the assistants for the past several months, and so I get to tag team with them until Elder Puriri goes home next week. I can sit back a bit and watch them and learn before I have to get thrown into it full on. I am glad that I can trust them as well, they are excellent missionaries!
5. There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes to make a mission run. I think honestly my companions have gotten over 30 calls each day asking different questions, resolving people's problems, and finding out things that need to be done. Almost everything that goes wrong, needs fixing, or is in need of help goes through the assistants. It is a lot of work, but I am glad I can be of help... hopefully :)

That is all I have time for now, write more later when I can.... I plan to just write a bit and save it in a draft until I actually get a letter written up, so if the letters are a bit sporatic and random, I apologize. I am trying my best :)

Love you all!

Elder Shafer

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 30

Dear everyone!

Unfortunately, yesterday I had to say goodbye to everyone that I have served down here in Canberra for the last 8 months. How quickly time flies!!!! I have been asked to come and serve in the mission office for a little while. As such, I really have no idea what my schedule will look like in regards to when I can email and so on because the other elders who have served in the office have mentioned they don't really have a regular "p-day" like other missionaries..... so we will see what the future holds I guess. But yeah, even though it is hard, change is good.

We have Mission Leadership Conference today so I don't have a long time to email, but I will write you next time that I can... not sure when that will be haha. Love yas!!

Elder Shafer

Letter to President Lew:

This week has been a great week, but definitely finished with a surprise as you know! :) We had some pretty great miracles for sure! One day, we went out with Zac Fisher, who is preparing to serve his mission in London in May, to teach a Vietnamese lady named Hao that we met on the street. Unfortunately, she wasn't there at the time we had set our appointment for, and didn't answer her phone, but we felt that we should just talk to her neighbors and tract out the people that lived near her. We thought it would be good training for Zac to get some experience just talking to people and so we decided to knock some doors in hopes that Hao would come back and we could teach her as well. But the Lord had other plans. We went to the stairs and asked Zac, where do you think we should go? I felt that we should go upstairs, and was glad when he said to to go there. So up we went, and the second door we came to, the door was wide open! We called inside and a man came out and said hello, then kindly let us in and allowed us to teach him. He is from Nepal and previously learned from other Christian missionaries not from our church in Nepal. In discussing with him, he has a strong belief in Jesus Christ but does not understand much about the life to come. It was such a great experience for us to have, but especially for Zac. He was so excited and very surprised that we had seen such a great miracle. It taught me a very important lesson to always keep up our faith and continue to seek for miracles. It would have been pretty easy to just move on to a different back up plan or go visit someone else, but we felt a small prompting to stay in the area, and it turned out to be a great success. Often times we feel we need to have these big impressions from Heaven about where to go or what to do, but in reality the Lord trusts us enough to heed those small promptings, and I am glad that I have and do. 

Another great miracle we saw this week came from seeing the baptisms happen in the Woden ward. I love seeing other missionaries be successful and the joy that comes from them serving diligently and faithfully. This month we had several people be baptized which is always a joyful time. And the great thing is that next month looks even better! I can tell that the missionaries here in the Canberra zone are hardworking and love to serve the Lord. They too remind me of the stripling warriors who had great faith and served with all of their heart. In thinking about the stripling warriors more this week, I realized that it says they had never fought before in their lives. Here are 2000 young men, who have never fought in war, and most likely didn't even have much of a "battle preparation" since their fathers had covenanted never to fight with weapons of war again; yet they had the courage to go up against "the strongest army of the Lamanites." That reminds me of how so many of our missionaries are also in their youth and are very inexperienced in teaching or talking to people. They must also completely rely upon faith in order to succeed. The more I learn, the more I realize how important faith is. We will never reach the point where we no longer need the Lord.

To me, using time wisely means that you are always trying to bring someone closer to Christ. We have many avenues to accomplish this. Too often we may feel we must always be "busy" in order to be effective, however, if we are not careful, we may become too "busy" to notice what really needs to happen. For example, earlier on in my mission, I did not like to use the phone very much, I felt that I should constantly be talking to people and just going going going, but thankfully, I learned that there is a difference between being active and actually accomplishing something. I found that if I never set aside time to find members to help us teach, that lo and behold, we had very few members present at our lessons, thus we may have been teaching, but it wasn't near as effective as it could have been. Another example is with former investigators, one day I decided to set aside an hour where i felt would be the best to call former investigators. I looked over what the previous missionaries had said about these people, tried to discern how best to help them, and then started making calls. It was great to see that several of them had a much larger desire to learn than most people I had been meeting on the street. Over time, I have come to find that there needs to always be a balance in things and that the question should always be "is this the best way to help others become closer to Christ?" If we think logically first and study it our in our minds, and then seek the gift of discernment, the Spirit will help us to decide how best to use our time. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 29

AWESOME WEEK THIS WEEK :) Absolutely loved it! Had heaps of miracles happen on trade offs and thoroughly enjoyed pretty much every minute of this week, except Saturday... that was a bit of a let down, but the rest of the week made up for it for sure :)
Unfortunately this week, I don't have as long as last week to email because we have several other things we need to do today as well. It is crazy to think how quickly this transfer has gone, our next upcoming transfer is April 7 and that is just around the corner! Things in the ward keep looking up and I am excited for the success the zone is having as a whole. We are setting new records for this area in regards to teaching. I am so proud of all the missionaries here in the zone, they are awesome! :)
Here is my letter to President,
loves yas!
Elder Shafer
This week has been AMAZING. We have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of people who are actually desirious to meet with us. During our weekly planning, we decided to use a white board to help us visualize the amount of people that we can see on a fairly regular basis and it was quite pleasing to me to see how many new names we have been able to add this week and a bit of last week. Even with the disappointing day of Saturday (we had 5 set member present lessons and were planning to add 6 new investigators- all of which except one fell through) we were still able to achieve many of our goals for the week and were just shy of reaching the standard of excellence. One of the greatest miracles was with Simon. He was an investigator we saw for the first time last Sunday and because he was so busy with school, he only granted us about 15 minutes to teach him how to pray before he had to study again. Well, in meeting with him yesterday again for another 20 minute power lesson, he expressed how he believed God was answering his prayers, and committed to be baptized, and committed to meet with us during the week and committed to come to church this Sunday. It was an amazing miracle to witness how his personal experiences with prayer changed his life for the better and rapidly! In his closing prayer for the lesson he mentioned "Thank you for sending me Elder White and Elder Shafer, I feel less stressed now, and am grateful they taught me how to find more happiness in my life." I love hearing investigators pray! It is so sincere :) Also, I have come to gain a testimony that God does care about those things which we care about and He will answer our prayers and help us with temporal things as well as spiritual matters. Though many people may not see it this way, I have come to find out that our Heavenly Father truly does hear and answer every sincere prayer we offer, even ones in needing help with schooling, work etc...
Another progressing and great miracle was Yang Baai. She came to church for all 3 hours for the second time in a row and keeps loving it more and more. She even wanted to join the ward choir as soon as she finishes her mid term exams! :) In our lesson right after church she asked for more books because she wasn't sure if the Book of Mormon, Pamphelets, Gospel Principles manual, and teachings of our times manual were enough for her to study in order to get an understanding of Jesus Christ and His church. With some laughs we talked with her about how we would create a study plan custom tailored to her so that she knows and can gain a testimony of everything she needs to before her baptism next month. Her desire to learn is inspiring, as well as her desire to serve. She asked us who we knew in the church that was old or needed help with their kids because she would love to go visit them during the week. She truly is an inspiration of someone who hears the word of God, understands how it will bring happiness, and applies it into their life.

I loved from the Book of Mormon reading this week the stark difference between Amalickiah and Moroni. Both of them were persuasive leaders, and both of them grew up with the same customs, religion, etc.... but they used completely different motives for their leadership Alma 48:7 teaches us: "Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God." This example reminded me of how I can try to be a more effective and Christ-like leader and teacher. The key to true leadership and devotion is as the Savior has done- love and teaching the truth. When we feel our leaders' love, we are more willing to follow them. When we also know they will lead us in the right way, and give us the truth, we once again want to follow them. I know I need to ever more improve in my ability to love those I am supposed to lead. I need to make sure I am teaching the truth, and helping them to realize that it is truth, so that they will recognize the deceit and fraud that is ever so present around us. Even the people who opposed Amalickiah in the beginning and refused to go to war, ended up very quickly joining his side and following his wicked plans because he was a man who was cunning, and knew how to deceive people. We learn in chapter 49 however that Amalickiah "did care not for the blood of his people." He, like the adversary, have no love or concern for us whatsoever. His only desire was power and gratifying his pride. I much prefer to follow the Savior who loves us unconditionally, is the supreme example, and will always lead us to truth and light, not darkness and fright.

In studying more about the Holy Ghost this week I came to understand better that the power of the Holy Ghost is ever present and effective in today's world, but His ability to influence us becomes much stronger as we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Having that right and promise to have Him constantly guide us as we are worthy is an amazing gift. It truly is the greatest gift we can receive in this mortal life, He guides us, purifies us, teaches us, and enlightens us. Through Him we can feel the Love of God. I am grateful for this wonderful gift and the reality that it is in our lives.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 28

Hallelujah!  That is one of my favorite words! It is just a joyous one :) This weekend has been an amazing weekend! The zone is just on FIRE!! We had a baptism last weekend, 2 this weekend, and have 2 more in 2 weeks to come. We have a total of 10 people who should be baptized either this month or next which for me is just pure excitement! :) These elders and sisters have worked very hard, and many of these people have been long in coming. I loved the words of Elder Urbina as he shared a talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost this last Saturday at the baptismal service of one of his investigators. He stood up and started talking about the Restoration and the story of the prophet Joseph Smith. At first I was like...."weren't you supposed to talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost??" But the Spirit was so strong in the words that he spoke, that it totally made sense when he said "what you are feeling right now is the Holy Ghost." He went on to explain how the Holy Ghost teaches us of the truth and testifies to our hearts and minds the things of God. He then explained simply how the companionship of the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift God can give us here on earth. It truly is! When a person feels the love of God witnessed through the Holy Ghost, it is pure and complete joy. I have come to see in my life that nothing can compare with those precious moments I have had in which I felt Him and know that I cannot deny it. I have not seen angels, I have not heard the voice of God, but everything that I teach and proclaim here I know to be true because of the witness the Holy Ghost has given me in my heart and in my mind. I have had too many "coincidences" to believe it is just coincidence that I feel that peace and warmth each time I sincerely pray, read the scriptures, seek forgiveness, attend church, listen to the Prophet's voice, and the list can go on and on. When the truth about God is spoken, read, or heard, the Holy Ghost will let us FEEL the truthfulness of it if we are sincere, have intent to know the truth, and the faith to receive an answer. That is a promise I will give to anyone. If you want to find truth in life, follow the words of Jesus Christ found in Matthew 7:7 "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." That is the pattern to receiving answers from the Heavens. Seek the truth through reading, attending church, pondering upon what you see everyday, then ask God with faith, and the door will be opened unto you. That is when it gets tricky..... you then have to be willing to step into that door and follow the answer you have been given.
This week, I have gained a greater testimony that God hears and answers my prayers. Although He has an enormous amount of things to do I am sure in ruling and governing the Cosmos, yet I know that He hears and answers the prayers of His children. I have seen it time and time again and although I will admit I do not know how it is honestly possible that He can do it, I know He does. Every sincere prayer we offer to Him will be heard, and it will be answered within His own timing. It will not always be the answer that we want, but it will be the answer that is right for us, because God is always right :)
I love being here, and serving my Savior. I know that this work is extremely unique when compared to the world's view- what 19 year old kid would want to leave his family, friends, educational pursuits, sports, television, etc... and dress up in professional attire everyday for 720 days talking to people he has never met and most likely never will see again, inviting them to change their lives and having the audacity to promise them it will bring them happiness?? Mind you, he will be rejected, denied, ridiculed, mocked, called a deceiver, liar and every other complimentary term that men like to give :) He will spend every day exhausted both physically, emotionally, and spiritually, even after taking a needed nap on p-day. He will have far more doors shut upon him than opened welcomely, he will face far more rejection than acceptance, more hate than love, more questions asked than answered. What kid would sign up for that?? Most people would claim he is insane! In my time as a missionary thus far (and I am glad that I still have much more time left) I have come to find that missionary work isn't always sunshine and rainbows. Like described, there will be more people who say NO than there will be who say YES or even Maybe. So why are there 85,000 of us that are wanting to be out here? Why do we care so much? What is it that makes us tick? I cannot speak for everyone, but for myself, it is because I believe that Jesus Christ died and lives again for me. Without Him, I would have no future. All that is good in this life is because of HIS goodness and mercy. Without Him, we would all live a very short life here and POOF.... nothing else. I owe Him everything, and although I all too often mess up and live below what I know to be true, I cannot deny my faith in Him. So why not just enjoy this knowledge at home in comfort? Well it's because we all are brothers and sisters! A life centered upon Jesus Christ is a life of happiness, I have seen that time and time again and as such, I want to do all that I can to bring this happiness to my brothers and sisters. I wish that I could keep going on this schpeel (hopefully someone is at least still reading it since it is SUPER long :) ) but I must go. I guess i get a little carried away sometimes when I talk about why I am a missionary and actually have some time to sit down and put my thoughts into words. This work brings happiness, both to those who are engaged in it, and who are benefited by it. I invite all to come a step closer to Christ this week. What you will need to do is your own choice. Some of us need to pray more often. Others need to serve, others still need to attend church regularly, and if you are anything like me, I need to improve in all 3 of these areas and more. But that is why I am grateful we can always repent :) Repentance is good, so enjoy it!
Love you all!
Elder shafer
p.s. Here is my letter to President Lew:

This week was a bit slow numerically but ended with some amazing miracles!! These past two weeks our area has taken a dive for people to teach. Many people we were meeting with regularly have become "too busy" to hear more about the gospel and as thus, have asked us to put lessons on a hold for a bit. This was quite saddening to my companion and I but as we kept faithful and kept praying, we saw our prayers answered this weekend. Elder White and I have been talking about how we really want investigators who really desire to meet with us and are excited to meet with us instead of people who we now feel like have some desire, but it definitely isn't their top priority to improve their relationship with the Savior. Friday morning right after our District Training Meeting, we had an awesome miracle. We had just finished and I was walking down the hall when I spotted someone I didn't recognize turn the corner at the end of the hallway, asking if she needed some help, I soon came to find she was looking for the family history center, and had stopped by several times over the past few weeks, but each time it had been closed. Elder White and I showed her around the Family History Center, and then offered to show her around the chapel as well. She was VERY interested in family history because she believes she could be related to Lucy Mack Smith, and figured the church could help her finish off her geneology, in responding to her question "what are the differences between your church and my church-the anglican church." After sharing with her a little bit about our beliefs and answering her questions, she mentioned that she believes in God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost the same as we do and was surprised to find that we do not believe in the commonly accepted theology of the Trinity. With each answered question she became more and more curious and accepted our invitation to meet again, and to come to the baptism the following day. Example #1 of someone who genuinely has a desire :)
#2- A few weeks back we had a great finding opportunity when a member set up a booth at a local university campus for their orientation week. There were several religious booths there handing out information and inviting people to learn more about their beliefs. It was there that we met a young girl named Yang Baai. She accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and a few pamphlets and wrote down her information requesting that we meet with her again. The only problem was that when we called her phone number, it wasn't correct, but thankfully, the address she wrote down was correct, and we were able to find her flatmate who gave us the right number. We called her, invited her to the baptism, and although she wasn't able to attend, she really wanted to come to church the next day. She came and stayed for all 3 hours and LOVED it! As we met with her briefly afterwards, we asked her if she believed in God. She said "before this morning, no, but hearing so many people talk about Him and feeling the peace and warmth I do here, I think I believe in a God." She was so anxious to meet with us she offered to send us her university schedule so we could schedule in meetings when she didn't have classes, and committed to pray daily before we even had finished explaining prayer and invited her. It was another great testimony builder to me that people ARE ready and willing to meet with us, it just takes some faith, prayer and diligence to find them.
Example #3- Very similar situation to Yang Baai. Elder White met Simon at the University orientation week and he had not picked up or responded to a phone call of ours. We decided to try the address he wrote down and he was surprised to see us, but welcomed us in. Right from the get go, he mentioned how little time he had because of studies, but we asked if he was still interested to learn more about Jesus Christ. He said that he was, but didn't know when he could find time. Thankfully, my companion asked, "Simon, we can take the next 10 minutes and at least teach you how to pray, would you allow us to do that?" He agreed, and it completely changed from that point. In his first prayer ever, he mentioned how grateful he was that we taught him how to communicate with God, and that he would pray every day. He was very glad that we came by, and although he is busy, was happy to meet us again next week for another short, and powerful lesson.
So this week, I have learned that when times get tough, keep pressing on and keep praying. Don't give up, there are people out there who really do have interest to learn, and as we seek for them, we will find them.

From my studies this week of the Doctrine of Christ, I came across one of my new favorite verses found in Doctrine and Covenants, 12:8: "And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care." I need to make sure that I qualify for each of those attributes. I think that the word "assist" is really key. We can be here doing the work on our own, but that wont be of any assistance whatsoever.... it is only when we do it with humility, faith, and so on, the Lord's way so to speak, that we will be of any assistance. If we do not do it His way, we are just wasting time and not being one bit of help.

I continue to love the Book of Mormon more and more as I read in it. As I studied Alma's advice to his sons in Alma 36 and 37, I saw several times the promise that "as ye shall keep the commandments of God, ye shall prosper in the Land." Obedience will always bring us blessings. I am grateful that I have gained a testimony of that in my life, no matter what God commands, I want to always have the desire to follow and keep His commandments, because I know that it leads to safety and peace.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 27

Hey everyone, we got to emails later today because of needing to help someone with service, and the intercom just came up saying that the library is closing in like 5 mins :( Will have to write more next week, love you all!
Elder Shafer

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 26

Dear Everyone,

Happy rainy March! There have finally been some showers and some cloudy weather here in Canberra that have cooled things down a bit and get me excited for some cooler weather. I actually had to put on a jumper (aka sweater) the other day to not get too cold outside. I have come to appreciate colder weather since I have been here because there is not much worse than sweating heaps in dress clothes haha. This week, Noni, who was baptized just the other month went home teaching, was home taught, and received a calling in the ward. We were really excited for this to happen because now she can share her talents with others and bless their lives. Plus, she has such a strong desire to serve that now can be better satisfied. The miracles keep rolling along here in Canberra, we have several baptisms that should be happening in the zone this upcoming month, and hopefully Reza (our investigator from Iran) will be baptized as well. It has been hard for him to come to church recently because he Co-owns a hotel and often has to stay to work when they fill up their rooms, but hopefully they can hire some more staff to help out. Please keep him in your prayers :)

We have mission leadership conference up in Sydney today so today's letter will be shorter, but I hope you all have a great week! Love ya heaps!!

Letter to President Lew:

This week had some down turns in that a couple investigators and less actives expressed the desire to not meet with missionaries anymore which is always saddening, but it was also good in us being able to continue to go to the rescue and visit many less active members. We also had some great lessons with members who have identified those people that they feel may be a "4" or "5" and that they are setting up plans and making goals on how to help those people progress. One of the greatest experiences I had this week was with the Fisher Family. The husband is the assistant ward mission leader and his son will be going on a mission shortly, and so they are quite missionary focused. After dinner with them, we role played on how they would invite their friends to a family home evening in their home. When the role plays started, the wife was pretty nervous and it was hard her for to express her thoughts. After some encouragement and a couple more tries, she finally overcame her anxiety and began to act as if she were really talking to her friend. The role play went very well and I can tell it helped her to feel much more comfortable for the time she feels prompted to invite her friend. The special thing for me was, after the role play in giving them feedback, I felt prompted to express with them how grateful the Lord is for their service and desire to be missionaries. It was special when I said "as an authorized representative of Jesus Christ, I want to let you know that He is pleased with your efforts." As soon as I said that, Sister Fisher almost cried and I could tell that she needed to hear that comfort because she does have a great desire to help others, she is just fearful. I am very grateful that I can have those opportunities, when prompted, to speak as a representative of Him and speak the words which He would speak. 

One of the things that I loved most about Elder Nelson's conference was that the Lord can do what we would consider is impossible. He places us into situations where we recognize it is ONLY through Him that the task can be accomplished. He wants us to rely upon Him and trust in Him. Many times we get discouraged because we cannot see how we can have success, but it is in those times that we need to look most to the Savior and realize that whatever He wills, can be done. It takes our faith, in accordance with His will for us to accomplish His work. Another thing I really loved is how he truly came and ministered to the ONE. Each of us had the opportunity to shake his hand. Several missionaries and members were allowed the opportunity to address us and to share their testimonies and feelings. He truly is such an example of love and looking out for "the one." 

This week in reading the Book of Mormon I have learned this same principle of how the Lord puts us into situations to show forth His power. Alma and Amulek were placed into prison and remained there until the point of starving. Then, miraculously they were rescued and the entire prison fell down. Ammon mentions that he will be successful so that He can "show forth the power which is in Him" These examples make me ponder upon how often the Lord may put me in a difficult situation so He can show forth His power in me.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 25

Hello everyone!
Yes, it was transfers again and despite all opinions and guesses otherwise, Elder White and I are still serving here another transfer :) This will make almost 8 months that I have served in Canberra by the end of this transfer. I think the record is about 9 months, so that is what I am hoping to break hehe. We added 1 more missionary to our flat, he is from Mainland China. He only became a member of the church 2 years ago when a friend of his dad's told his family about the LDS church that he had attended in America. He and his mom made the trip to Hong Kong where they learned from the missionaries and were able to be baptized, then returned home to China. A few short years later he is now able to serve and help others come unto Christ. I personally think this is so significant because although there are branches organized in China, the church is still not allowed to be officially recognized and missionaries are not allowed to proselyte, and as such, the understanding of our beliefs is very limited, yet the work goes on so that others can continue to find the truth. I love this work! It always brings happiness to people's lives when they live it.
This past week we were able to be visited by Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was an awesome conference that we had. We had to drive up to Sydney, stayed in one of my old flats when I served in the Cantonese branch, and so I was able to speak some more Cantonese which was cool. Then we woke up early in the morning and drove the rest of the way up to the conference. We had to cross mission boundaries, so It was definitely a special thing because normally leaving mission boundaries gets you into BIG trouble. The conference was spectacular though. We had 414 missionaries in attendance and each of us had the opportunity to shake his hand. I was hoping he would mention something about us meeting before, since I still remember the day I shook his hand 6+ years ago, but he didn't, so it just goes to show he is still human and doesn't remember everything :) His wife though is from the same small town as one of our flat mates which is pretty cool!
So yeah, things were pretty great this week, have to go soon, but all is well! Keep up the great work everyone, prayer works, and it is just simply awesome!
Here is my Letter to President:
This week was another great week for sure :) I am excited to stay in Canberra for at least another 6 weeks! Things continue to look up for our area and the ward since we keep adding new investigators and the ward's weekly sacrament attendance continues to increase. Especially with the establishment of a new stake presidency and some of the callings being changed for ward members, good change is in the air and I feel it is having an effect on the members. Hopefully they will continue to "catch the wave" and receive the joy that is always available from missionary work. 

This week we were able to see a great miracle in Ethan. A little over a week ago one of the members posted several fliers up at one of the Universities that had some of the questions of the soul and had our contact info for if they wanted to learn more. Then, earlier this week we get a call from a young man named Ethan who was curious what the purpose of life is. We met with him to find out that he has met with missionaries in the past up in Northern Australia and now is very interested in meeting again with us. He has already read the Book of Mormon and believes it as true, the thing that is preventing him from baptism as we discussed is family pressures since his entire family is Catholic. Things continue to look better for him though since he reads the Book of Mormon frequently and came to church this past Sunday with us as well. The thing is he technically doesn't live in our boundaries and would be attending another ward, and so we will pass him to the other elders the next time we meet with him this week, but I am very grateful we could help him so far in this stage of his progression.
This week I really enjoyed reading of Alma 5 at the same time as studying about asking questions and listening in Preach My Gospel. In this chapter, if I counted correctly, Alma asks over 40 questions in the 60 odd verses. It definitely made me think more about how often I am asking good questions and what I need to change in order to have my questions achieve the desired results. I love the examples we have in the scriptures to learn from.
As I continue to read the Book of Mormon I continue to grow in my love for the Savior. I love the verses where He speaks directly. Everytime I read of His actual words, I can feel such power and clarity that cannot be compared to. I know when the Lord's words are written down, the Spirit carries them into my heart and as I apply them, I become a better person. The same will happen to each and every person who reads and applies the principles taught in the Book of Mormon. 

Love Elder Shafer

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 24

Don't have heaps of time today either, sorry :(
This weekend was just awesome!! Elder Pearson from the Pacific Area Presidency came and presided at the stake confernce we had where our stake was reorganized. It was an awesome meeting and I loved the talks he gave about missionary work and going to the rescue of the members. Especially his remarks to the Brethren Saturday night in awakening us to our duties of helping everyone enjoy the wonderful blessings and happiness that come from living in Harmony with God's plan. Perhaps next week I can give some more specific quotes, but for now, here is my letter to President Lew:
This week has been great. Honestly one of the greatest days of my mission happened last Saturday. Friday's Zone conference was a great uplift and spiritual prep for the stake conference weekend, but Saturday was just an AWESOME day. 

We went to teach a potential investigator at ANU (the Australian National University) while walking there, we talked to this guy named Danny- from Malaysia. Long story short, he was keen to meet. We got all pumped and kept walking to our apartment, while waiting for her to arrive, we met someone else who also was keen! I was on cloud 9 at that point! Our potential investigator showed up and we had a great lesson with her, yet another miracle because the thing that made her say yes to meeting was when she was so surprised in me speaking Cantonese (one of the few people I have been able to speak canto with here!! :) ) She is super shy but quite interested to learn more about Jesus Christ. She said "I have been going to church for about 5 years, but haven't been baptized" Can you say "GOLDEN!!??" :) After commiting her to be baptized she asked "I just have one more question.... do I need to know more about the Bible and Jesus before I get baptized?" With a smile we explained that our job is to make sure she is fully prepared and that we will make sure she knows all she needs to before she makes that promise with Heavenly Father. Anyways.... so after that lesson we had another lesson with 2 former investigators who had gone back to China. While waiting for them, we just so happened to be led to another Korean student who would be keen to meet up again as well, then the lesson went super well with the 2 formers. Before they went home to China, they didn't believe in God and were pretty cold hearted, but now one of them said she was 80% sure she would get baptized. WHAT THE??? Huge miracle again. So after several hours of just awesome miracles I was so thankful and just pumped up, but also hungry as it was 3:30 and we hadn't had lunch yet that day. We decide to go get lunch, and here is the key..... I was sitting at one of the tables when someone walks up to the counter and tries to turn in her resume for a job. It was at this point that the thought came to mind "do i talk to her? She looks pretty busy, and we are in a restaurant....etc etc." but I decide to just go for it anyway. Catching her off guard with a few questions, I find out she is from Taiwan, knows and respects missionaries very well, and would be keen to meet once she can find a job since that is her #1 priority right now. So, what is the lesson I learned that day you ask?? It would have been so easy for me to just be content with that one miracle of Danny. That got me so excited and I probably could have gone the whole day just remembering and reflecting upon that miracle rather than using it as a springboard to go find more miracles. As the miracles kept happening, I was ever more enthusiastic to go find more and more people to talk to. Many times we find it hard to really determine the level of our faith, but I have seen two important indicators- enthusiasm and work. If we go out and work we are showing our faith. Also, when we are excited about the work we have the faith to succeed. Now, those may not be spot-on doctrinal answers, but it is just what I saw that day. I feel that in those few hours I truly had "the faith to succeed, not just the faith to serve."

From the Book of Mormon today I answered the question of "How can we become more like Christ." I wanted today to focus on what those chapters I would be reading today had to say in answer to that question. The answer? In Mosiah chapter 12, Abinadi is rebuking the priests of Noah for their hypocrisy in teaching, but not living the Law of Moses. One line that he said stood out to me, in verse 27 he says "ye have not applied your hearts to understanding." That really hit me and I thought, the priests knew the doctrine, I am sure they had read the scriptures/ studied up on their doctrine, but they didn't apply it in their lives at all. That is the key, we have to apply the Doctrine of Christ into our lives and understand it with our HEART. He says exactly that in Chapter 13:11 "I perceive they (the commandments) are not written upon your hearts." That was my answer from reading today, I must continue to help others and myself truly write His commandments upon our hearts. I love Abinadi, he is a great example of speaking with boldness.

After studying more about How To Begin Teaching, I realized I need to make the first few minutes of how to begin teaching not stretch on too long. I like your quote that we often have "the gift of gab." I think there is a good lesson to be learned in fulfilling our roles as teachers and leaving the fellowshipping to the members. This is another key role of why members are so important at every lesson, They can talk about the rugby game, upcoming movies or whatever else the investigator would like to "gab" about, and we can focus on that person's spirituality for those 30-45 minutes, rather than just gabbing about things not focused on our purpose.
Love you all!
Elder Shafer

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 23

Dear everyone!
This week has been pretty spectacular! We need to go to a funeral right now though, so this letter will be pretty short. Last night we had a great broadcast from the Area Presidency about missionary work, this week we will have Zone conference with our Mission President, and next week Elder Nelson will be coming with Elder Hamula to our mission for a special conference, so these upcoming weeks are going to be PACKED with some awesome trainings and I am excited for them :)
Have to go, love you all!
Elder Shafer
Letter to President Lew:
This week has been one of significant miracles. Our investigator from Iran has committed to be baptized on March 15. His desire is definitely there, he just needs to make sure he is fully able to live the commandments and attend church on a regular basis. He and his partner own a Hotel here in Canberra, and finding staff who are able to work on Sundays in order for them to go to church has been tough. They had been praying and fasting for someone who would be able to work reception on Sundays to allow them the opportunity to attend church regularly. Earlier this week, that happened. After weeks of no response to ads and invites for employment, a lady just walked into the hotel and mentioned she was looking for casual work on the weekends since she will be studying during the week. After passing the interview, she will be starting this upcoming Sunday and thus Reza, his partner will have the opportunity to attend church regularly! :) This is such a big step for them. Also, another miracle we saw this week was with Luna, a less active member. She was baptized, and unfortunately fell away from the church rather quickly because of animosity from her relatives. We have been meeting with her and inviting her at every lesson to come back. One by one, her concerns fell away and were resolved, and finally this Sunday, she came to church and had an AWESOME experience. There was hardly a moment where someone wasn't talking to her and asking how life has been for her recently and expressing their friendship. I could see that she was so grateful that the members did not judge her or ignore her since she has not come for several years, but that they just looked towards the future and helped her to feel welcome. I have often looked at our sign outside of the Church which says "Visitors welcome." I almost wish someone would change it to say "everyone is welcome!" It has been great to come to church every Sunday and see new families moving in, others returning back to activity after periods of inactivity and many new faces coming to join in worshipping on the Sabbath. There has not been a single week since the new year that there hasn't been somebody new that is moving in. In talking with them as well, I find that many of them were not active in where they used to live, but with the change of their physical position, they wanted to also improve their spiritual position and come back to church. I love when people are commited to positive change. It truly does bring happiness when we admit our mistakes, and express our desires to improve. Repentance, I have learned is an enlightening and positive process. It always makes one better and happier than they were beforehand.

This past week my companion and I studied a lot on how we can improve teaching skills and the ability to resolve people's concerns on the spot. This is what the majority of our focus was on in our last Zone Training Meeting. It was so great to learn and refresh on how we must prepare ourselves and qualify to have the Spirit, to follow the spirit in the lesson, and to follow up and encourage those we teach after our lessons. Though many of our missionaries are new, we should not rely on our own experience, but trust in the Lord and be humble with faith in His promise that when we do all we can, we shall be given the words to speak and what to do through inspiration. I am grateful that it is not up to me to do the converting, instead, that is the role of the Holy Ghost. I feel that too often we rely upon ourselves to teach. We must always strive to prepare ourselves, and then rely upon the Holy Ghost to guide our preparation. I feel that once missionaries truly master that principle, they will see great success. I know it is still something I need to work on as well.

To go along with this, I was reading the story of Sherem confronting Jacob about the Coming of Christ. In Jacob 7:8 we learn that in response to Sherem's attacks, Jacob did not rely upon himself, but rather "But behold, the Lord God poured in his Spirit into my soul, insomuch that I did confound him in all his words." Thankfully, most people do not come at us attacking our beliefs as Sherem did, but in the same manner, I know that when I follow the Spirit, I can be a tool to resolve people's concerns and help them truly obtain their own testimony.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 22

Hello everyone! I hope this week finds you happy and well :) I had an AWESOME week. Went on several trade offs with other missionaries, which always bring miracles and had some great experiences with them. One of the greatest was when we were able to teach a less active member on trade offs. This man was a returned missionary of about 3 years. Shortly after arriving home, he was diagnosed with Depression, and quickly fell away from the church. As we were visiting with him, and munching on some light food he provided (everyone in that ward gives you food...... I was so stuffed from every visit! ) I had the mormon message "my new life" pop into my head as a great video to watch.

If you want to see it, copy and paste: 

After watching this, we had some great discussion which, in the middle of, another video popped into my head to watch as well. Though I thought it at first a little unusual since the first video mentions dealing with trials, and the next one was about forgiveness, I have long since learned to follow the promptings and ideas that I get while teaching, as I honestly believe they are given by the Holy Ghost to help the people we teach.

I am so glad that I did!

After the second video, he opened up much more and said "you know, it's very interesting that you decided to share these two videos, because both of them talk about great loss in someone's life.... that is something I struggle with a lot." Through some more discussion we shared we found out how much he missed being involved in Church, and more especially how much he missed having a strong relationship with his Heavenly Father. I truly felt so much love for him and was very excited for the future as he expressed his desire for this new year to be one of great change for him. Helping people change and be happier is the greatest thing we can do! I just love it :) Too many people try to make themselves happier by putting other people down, they feel that they must be above others in order to be happy, but that is so false, true happiness comes from lifting others and helping them be happy.

Have to jump off for now,

Have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Shafer

Here is my letter to President:

Another awesome week in Canberra. The longer I stay here, the more my love for these people grow. Yesterday we had one of the highest attendance at sacrament meeting that the ward has seen in a long time. There was a baby blessing for a member who had recently come back to church, and his wife was recently baptized. Shortly after the blessing of the baby, you could see the happiness on the father's face as he knew he was worthy and able to perform that blessing. While we were working with him and his wife before her baptism, he mentioned that even more than baptizing his wife, he desperately wanted to bless his little baby boy, and thanks to the mercy and Atonement of the Savior, he was able to do both. I love that family! As people kept coming to church I was reminded once again of why it is so important for each of us to attend the Lord's church on a regular basis. He has allowed us the opportunity to renew our covenants with Him on a weekly basis- what a gift. I don't believe there is a week that will go by in my life that I will live perfectly, however, on a weekly basis I am able to re-evaluate my efforts and set new goals in order to become more like the Savior and live the promises I have made. I often call Sundays my "pay-day" as a missionary. We go about our week continuing to find and teach people who are prepared to progress towards Christ, and I really feel my efforts have paid off as I see more and more people coming to learn about and worship our Heavenly Father in His church every Sunday. Seeing people seated as families or groups of friends in singing and praying and learning about the Savior is such an enjoyable experience for me. Many times I just want to give people a giant hug as they walk through the door, and just say welcome! However, I have to try and display the same feelings through a courteous handshake :)

I am glad I was able to study more about how we can help others to receive revelation through church attendance. This week, I learned something new. Many times people feel that God is not answering their prayers. In pondering this, I have learned that very often, we must be in the right place and doing the right thing to receive that answer. By regularly reading our scriptures, praying, and attending church, we show our Heavenly Father we are open to His answers. That is one thing I feel is lacking for many of the people we work with- they may not have the ability or faith to find their answer without attending church regularly. For example, how can we expect to know that the church is true, without attending its meetings regularly and evaluating for ourselves the truth of what is taught and practiced there? We must have faith in order to receive the answer, and often those answers are found by seeing how the restored church of Jesus Christ operates today. 

I had the opportunity this week to meet a man named Ben on trade-offs. This particular investigator based a lot of what he believed today on what was found in the past. His beliefs in the Old Testament stories were founded upon the supposed findings of Chariot wheels in the red sea which were left by the Egyptians being killed there, and many other artifacts or items discovered that coincide with the stories we read in the Bible. While these findings are great and valuable, in my opinion, they do not develop faith. Scientific findings and theories will come and go- the sun revolving the earth, the earth being flat, and tobacco being healthy for the body, to name just a few; but faith which has been developed by personal experiences with the feelings of the Holy Ghost can last forever. For me, I am so very grateful that we have modern day revelation and the divine guidance of Prophets and Apostles today. I will be the first to admit, my knowledge of what happened thousands of years ago is very lacking, but my knowledge of what is happening today is much stronger. My opinions are the same regarding the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. Rather than digging through the past and having debates over events which have happened many years ago and the truth of which may have been long been lost, why don't we evaluate the vast amount of resources we have been given today and use that to judge whether or not the Church truly is restored. Reading the Book of Mormon, and attending the church services will resolve almost every question or concern people may have about the History of the Church, and some story they have heard or read here or there. The truth is right in front of us for evaluation, use it. We are told that "by your fruits ye shall know them." I greatly enjoy inviting people to come and taste of the fruits the gospel brings into their lives by attending and worshiping with us on Sundays. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 21

Hello everyone!
So to start off on a random side note- Aussie talk is the best! :) I know I haven't talked about it much, but some of my new favorite and most used words are "far out, I/you reckon, heaps, and hard yakka." The last one is a newbie- hard yakka is a term for hard work. It has also turned into a brand for work pants, and it's something I will likely never stop saying for my whole life haha. The first time I heard it was priceless. I have reached the point where hearing Americans speak sounds weird. We had dinner over at a family who is from the states this week and hearing them speak just sounded so different. we put a big emphasis on our "R" in the states, and it just sounds off now hehe. Guess I am truly becoming Aussie the longer I have been here.
We are going to have p-day with some of the members since today is a national holiday. Or rather yesterday was Australia day, and they just wanted an excuse to have another day off of work, similar to Memorial Day for us I guess. This week has been an awesome week. I love the ward, I love the people we are teaching, love my companion, the weather, and just everything else that is happening right now. Things are going very well and I am excited for what the future holds.
I had better sign off, but in my studies this week I studied quite a bit about the Holy Ghost and personal revelation... this video helps to explain a bit about what those things are:
This week has been awesome. we were SO close to achieving the standard of excellence for our area this week. We would have exceeded it actually and accomplished almost all of our weekly goals had all of our set appointments followed through, but unfortunately several cancelled out. When Sunday night came around and we had everything lined up I felt quite happy knowing that our hard work in setting apointments and working with people would pay off. We have been striving to achieve the standard of excellence for some time but have been unable to achieve it regularly. But as we have kept pressing on and finding more people to add to our teaching pool, both investigators and less actives, this week has seen many miracles. Each night that we were planning, we already had several appointments set up for the next day and often the day following which was so exciting! There is not much worse than looking to plan for the next day and not seeing a single set appointment. Through this week though I learned a lot about the importance of setting return appointments. That has been the key to our success. Each appointment that we have gone to, we make sure we set a return appointment. Many times people are unsure of their schedule, but I have seen that just setting a day and time that probably will work, and then checking back once they have their schedule, makes a big difference. Doing this over the past week and a bit beforehand has been what has allowed us to have so many set appointments for this past week, and looking at our planner for this week, it looks like this week will be a great one as well! Even though it is a small thing, in the long run, it makes a difference. Also, we have seen the Lord's hand at work to soften the hearts of many people in this area, especially some of the less active members of the church. Our bishop's theme for the year is "bring them home." He has a big focus on the rescue efforts and we have seen great success in calling people who we have not met or have not seen in quite some time at church, and they are keen to have us come, whereas in the past they always just seemed busy no matter what time we asked to see them. One great example was Jacob. My companion called him up after seeing his name on the list. He is a returned missionary, and his wife is not a member of the church. We called and Jacob picked up the phone. after introducing ourselves he jokingly said "oh, so I am on your less active list eh?" We reassured him it was more because we had not met him yet, and being a returned missionary, he understands how we always reach out to welcome everyone back. The cool thing was that a few days after we called him, another member family in the ward went over to have dinner at their house without even knowing that this man was a member of the church. Both of the wives are close friends, and as the husbands started talking they found out that each other were members of the same ward! Crazy how things work out like that. Luckily, the active family knew us very well and started talking a lot about us and helped Jacob and his wife to feel even more comfortable with us coming over. Miracles keep on happening down here in Canberra, and especially in the Ginninderra ward. This last week we had the most in our gospel principles class I have ever seen. There must have been about 25 people in the class, several of which where investigators or recent converts, and the rest were members who had not been to church in a while and wanted to rekindle their testimony. I love these people here! There are so many wonderful examples to be seen here in the ward.

As for my studies this week, I really enjoyed learning more about how to receive, and the importance of receiving personal revelation. This is key in missionary work. If we are not receiving personal revelation on a regular basis, we need to think about what is hindering the Holy Ghost from being able to enlighten us. It doesn't have to be big, but receiving personal revelation on how to improve, what to say, where to go, and so on is absolutely essential to being successful. I also learned how we need to know how to receive personal revelation so that we can help our investigators know the same. They can only gain a testimony of the Savior and His church by personal revelation. They must come to know for themselves through the Holy Ghost that these things are true. That will be hard to do if they do not understand how to receive answers to their prayers, and how to recognize them. I learned that we need to focus our studies on how to help people understand and gain answers for themselves. Giving a person all of the answers does not benefit them nearly as much as giving them the tools to find the answers for themselves. For example, we often use scriptures to identify and clarify the doctrines that we teach. We should not however be satisfied with just giving them the answer and thinking that everything is okay now. After we use the scriptures, we should encourage them to read the entire chapter, or other similar scriptures that will further enlighten them and allow them the opportunity to receive personal revelation and truly to find answers to their questions. 

Love yous
Elder Shafer

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 20

Finally! After several crazy hot days..... it has rained and is cloudy... Oh happy day! :)
Have to go since we have a zone p-day!
Love yas!
Here is my letter to President:
This week has been pretty great! Since we did not come up to transfers, and our entire flat is staying for this transfer, it seems that almost nothing has changed and so we had no problems in moving forward with the work. Looking over the past transfer, it seems that Elder White and I have been fairly consistent with our teaching which is good, it just needs to raise up a bit and stay consistently at the standard of excellence. We really have discussed a lot more of how we can keep helping our zone see WHY we are striving to teach 20 lessons a week. We both agree that we feel the focus on ordinances is not as large as it should be. For each person we teach, we need to be focusing on the most essential ordinances for them, whether that be Baptism, Sacrament, advancing in the Priesthood, or temple ordinances. We must always have a goal in sight and a vision for those we are teaching. For example, there are many areas which teach several member present lessons to investigators every week, but have a chronic problem with investigators attending sacrament meeting, which in turn hinders them from baptism. For me, having a "lazer like focus" on key indicators is seeing how they interact and depend upon one another. Please correct me if I am wrong, but to me, we need to be having a great focus upon the key indicators of Baptism and confirmation, and sacrament attendance. These are the two most important. to use the metaphor of a magnifying glass, these need to be the focal point of the magnifying glass, and the other aspects which are also enlarged are what need to be seen and adressed to help keep that focal point where it needs to be. Too often I feel we move the magnifying glass around. One week we focus on recent converts and less actives, another week we realize we need to seek more referrels, then we find out that it is difficult to find members present for teaching.... and so on. Doing this moves our focus away from the two most important key indicators. But as we focus on those two and really evaluate "what do we need to do in order to get people to sacrament meeting?" and "what can we do this week, to better prepare these people for baptism?" we will find that the answers come in the form that we need to have members at our lessons, that we need to be teaching them often, we need to constantly seek referrals so that we can have more people to teach when our investigators get baptized and so forth. I believe as we focus our actions, studies, and teaching upon the two most important key indicators, the others will also fall into place and we will see more people being baptized, and moving on toward the temple.

In my Book of Mormon reading this week, (I am sorry I am a bit behind, but I will catch up) I really liked the short and simple verse of 2 Nephi 11:6- "And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish"
For me, this statement is so true. I love helping people come to realize for themselves the Role that Jesus Christ has in our lives. He is THE way, THE truth, and THE light. In today's world we have many choices- when we want dinner, entertainment, electronics, etc there are so many different choices we can pick and choose, and in the end whichever way we pick is fine. Nobody will really care if I decide to eat Indian food rather than Thai food for dinner. However, when it comes to Eternal Life, there is only one choice. As stated in Ephesians 4:5 there is "one faith, one Lord, one baptism." We had the opportunity to help a man named Shiran understand that earlier this week. We went to dinner at a family's home. The daughter had brought a 19 year old friend to have dinner with them and us. After the meal, we moved into the family room to share a message with the family. Long story short, Shiran had questions about what is the differences between our church and his as well as all other Christian churches. Without trying to tear down his beliefs, we taught him about the need for authority and how we believe the authority to baptise, and govern the Church was lost and then restored. He went away excited to read the copy of the Book of Mormon we left, and mentioned to his member friend that he is curious to find out where their Church's authority came from. For me, it was a great moment to learn that in regards to religion, there is truly only ONE truth. We can have many opinions or views, but when it all boils down, there is only one way and that is God's way. That will be what happens and I am grateful for the opportunity that we have to pray to know what is His way. He doesn't want His children to be confused, He wants them to obtain eternal life and come to know Him on a personal level. I am grateful for my understanding and relationship that I have with Him.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 19

Dear everyone!
I am an uncle! WAHOO! :) My sister had a beautiful little baby girl this weekend- and all is well for her and the baby. I am definitely thankful for the miracles we have of knowledge and experience in the medical field to help out when things dont quite go as planned. This week, we saw heaps of miracles!! One of the greatest was that I am staying in Canberra with my companion and same flat mates for another 6 weeks... yipee! I love it here :) Another miracle we had was in doing a church open house. We decided to try a new finding idea yesterday and hosted a church open house. We had some kool-aid, cookies and treats outside with a little poster inviting everyone and anyone to come and see the chapel. With some pamphlets, copies of the Book of Mormon, and mormon messages playing on the screen. Elder White and I were so pumped as we were setting up and a lady walked by saying that she would love to come back. Ten minutes later, there she was!! We showed her around and were able to get her address in response to her wanting to have missionaries come and visit. Then about 20 minutes later another man said he would love to see it, but was walking to work right then. We set a return appointment for tomorrow to show him the chapel. This really got us excited!! After a couple more hours of miracles, we wrapped it up and had a wonderful day that made us very grateful for new ideas and the joy it brings to try something new.
I want to send some pictures this week, so I will wrap up the email and send out some pictures of beautiful Merimbula and some other great experiences as of recent! :)

My letter to President Lew:
So we had an awesome week here in Canberra! I am very excited to stay here for another transfer with these amazing missionaries!! The first couple days of the week, we were on exchange. I love being able to go on exchanges with missionaries and help them feel the enthusiasm that missionary work brings. Often I have found that just talking about how excited we are for the miracles we will have and the things we will accomplish really helps to build enthusiasm and bolster faith. We went down to the beautiful area of Merimbula because we know the missionaries serving there were having a hard time feeling motivated to work and felt a little left out since they are so far away from our zone. Calling them a few days before we kept sharing with them how excited we were to be able to go down there with them, which really got them excited. When we arrived we just started talking about how fortunate these missionaries were to serve in such a wonderful area. It is absolutely beautiful where they serve! And even more than that, at this time of year there are lots of people to talk to since there are a lot of tourists down in Merimbula. Throughout our exchange, we got a first hand look at what it would be like to serve there, and it was really enlightening to see the aspect of work that the missionaries are doing. We were fortunate enough to see the branch have a child's baptism while there and almost the whole branch turned up in attendance. Mind you that was about 20 people, but it was awesome to be included and feel like a part of the family. The members were very talkative and really opened up well to us. Later, we saw how much the members appreciated having missionaries down in Merimbula. Though it is not the most renown place for baptisms, there is great potential there, it just needs to be executed properly. Many of the members ask the missionaries for service, and that is such a great way to develop member relations, and seek referrals. One of the greatest miracles we had down there was just in talking to everyone. Elder Boswell and I visited several former investigators and everytime we were walking to or from a house, we would seek out more people to talk to, and we found that every person we talked to, we were able to give them something and committed them to either read it, view it, or pray about it. At the end of the day, Elder Boswell mentioned that he was so excited to see miracles like we had seen each and every day. We learned a valuable lesson- enthusiasm builds faith and faith brings miracles. I honestly think this exchange we had was one of the most productive and valuable ones I have had on my mission. The missionaries came away knowing and feeling our love for them, our desire for their success and our faith that we have that they can be successful.
One of my insights that I loved from reading in the Book of Mormon this week is about how the Spirit works to teach us. Though I have read the Book of Mormon several times, there are still chapters, verses and stories that for some reason stick out to me more. There have been questions I have had from reading this time which I never have thought of before. Though I am a little bit behind in the reading because of these questions and starting a more in depth study of Preach My Gospel, I am glad with the lessons I am still learning and dont feel I am being left behind in receiving inspiration.
From the "remember this" portion of Preach My Gospel- we have actually started reading it daily as part of our recitations in our companionship study each morning. Doing this has been really helpful for me to daily get a reminder as to what is most important. I will remember "oh, we forgot to contact one of our investigators yesterday" or find other things which we can improve upon and set goals to try and improve upon them each day. I know there are so many things I need to improve upon, but with steady and dilligent progress, I will improve :)

On a side note, we saw another miracle for my family this week. I read today that my sister had her first little baby girl a couple days ago. I am grateful for the miracle of medical science and technology which has been given us to help in these days.
I am officially now an uncle! :)
Love yous!
Elder Shafer

Me acting like a Koala

The dog of a less active member we are teaching. The first time we knocked on her door, it was a bit dark inside with the door open, but the fly screen shut. Next thing I know, I see a giant dark shadow turn the corner and run toward the screen barking and growling. I about wet my pants right then and there! Only a small screen door between me and a dog the size of a small horse, but thankfully we have become better friends now, the dog and I :)

Me feeling like a cowboy when we were driving way out in the "woop woop" aka the middle of nowhere