Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

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.