Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

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.