Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

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


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Canberra Zone Week 18

G'day everyone!

Sooooo last night we drove down to have an exchange with the Elders in Merimbula. Can i just say that this place is what Heaven will Look like?? It is BEAUTIFUL!!! Right on the ocean with heaps of beautiful trees and foliage (love that word) and lakes and streams and everything! It is absolutely stunning. Wish I had time to send pictures, but there are only 2 computers here in the chapel, and 4 missionaries, and we would rather spend some time seeing the beautiful country since it took us 3.5 hours to drive here. I never imagined ever I would spend this much time driving on my mission haha. The past 3 weeks we drove up to Sydney one a week, last night we drove down here, and next week we are back up to Sydney. SOOO many hours in the car. Luckily I have a great companion to share all that time with! Hope all is well!
My letter to President Lew:

What an amazing week down in the Canberra zone!!!! Things have been taken to a whole new level now that we have had our Zone training meeting. After our last Missionary Leadership Conference, Elder White and I really wanted to make sure we got the message out and into the hearts of ourselves first and into the zone members. We have definitely changed and are continuing to give more of our whole heart, might, mind and strength unto the Lord. One of the things that we discussed in our meeting is that we need to go back to the basics. One of those fundamentals is praying with faith. We had an amazing experience on Wednesday night with an investigator of ours that helped me understand this principle of praying with faith. We were there meeting with a man who really wants to join the church, however he will very shortly be returning to China since his request for permanent residence was denied. He may only have a few weeks with us, but Elder White and I were still determined to help him accomplish his desire. We know that he could be baptized here and attend church back in China with his family because they have a church in his home town. We were talking with him about what needed to happen for this vision to become reality. The biggest problem- working on Sundays. Because of his lack of permanent residence, he must keep a job in order to stay in Australia. If he does not have a job, he is sent home within 28 days. Thus, many of the employers understand this principle and unfortunately, abuse their power in making these people work extremely long hours at very low cost. To make a long story short, Lu (our investigator) has been too scared to ask his boss for time off on Sundays because his boss is very stern and mean, and is afraid he will be fired if he requests time off. As we were talking with him about how short time is and how important the ordinance of Baptism is, Lu says "can we do pray?" we knelt down together on the floor and at the request of Lu, Elder White said the prayer. After the prayer, nobody moved. Peeking open my eyes, I could see Lu was praying and decided I needed to pray that he would receive answers to the prayers he has offered and is now offering. We didn't get up off our knees for 15 minutes. I had to peek at the clock to make sure we wouldn't be home to our flat late because Lu just KEPT PRAYING. Kneeling there, I was humbled so much. I prayed more fervently for him at that time than I probably have for any investigator I have worked with previously. I could see his faith and his desire to receive an answer, and I was begging our Father in Heaven that he would answer. Finally, Lu finished his prayer and sat back in his chair. He said "I have a great idea.....maybe I can ask my boss to go a couple hours early into work on Sunday so that I can leave in time for church and then finish my work when I come back. That way I can go to church and my boss wont be angry since I will do all my work." We asked Lu "that's a great idea Lu, where did you get that idea from?" He responded by pointing at the floor and said "right there, when I was praying." My heart leapt with joy! The power of prayer is real. Though Lu has not asked his boss yet, he has committed to ask his boss and we keep in contact with him. He is trying to find his boss on a good day and wait for the prompting to approach him about his idea. I am so thankful for prayer, and the lesson Lu taught me. I now want to make sure I pray with more faith for my investigators and help them also to do the same. While reading the Book of Mormon this week as well, that same principle came up several times- we must pray with faith for our prayers to have effect. Faithless prayers just wont make the cut.


Elder Shafer