Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Trip to a Farm and an Awesome Week! - email from 30 April 2012

Well hello everyone! I hope and trust that all is safe and well back in the United States! This week seems to have gone so quick! I loved it though. :) I feel like each and every week I grow and progress. Even though I am a long way away from the Missionary that I want and think I should be...every week I try to see the progress I am making. This week I seemed to have taken at least one more step in the right direction!

So the pictures that you see are mostly all from a farm that we were able to visit today! It´s about 30 minutes walking from Negritos. They had a few animals and fruits, one of my favorite pics is Elder Yupa about to eat that fruit with the face. :) We had a really great time going out there and visiting, and seeing the animals. It reminded me of Grandpa Shaw, how he always had some goats, and the atmosphere just seemed to be the same. I also like it a lot more when we aren´t a huge group of missionaries. Maybe I´m weird, but I like the smaller groups more! Just the four of us went, and it really was a lot of fun.

There is one other picture of me, Elder Compuzano, and Elder Knudson. As you can see, Elder Knudson is from Utah! Elder Compuzano is our Zone Leader and he´s from Nicaragua. He is a great example to me, and we´ve had a ton of fun in these two changes together. He keeps saying I look a lot like his trainer. This past week I actually saw a photo of him and he´s right! I am almost exactly as tall as him, and I think we have the same face! What a small world...

This week we saw quite a bit of success here in Negritos! On Tuesday and Wednesday we had companion exchanges. Wednesday I went with Elder Compuzano in his area in Talara. It was a great experience where I learned a lot from him about how to really teach according to the needs of our investigators. Every elder has a different style, and he showed me a little more about adapting the lessons, and also how to make my lesson plans a little better. I´ve already begun applying some strategies and I´m loving it. :)

On Wednesdy I went out with Elder Tylen Smith, who is also in Negritos, just in the other part where Elder McDonough was. Elder Smith came with me, and he´s really awesome! He´s going to Utah State and I´m already hoping that maybe I´ll room with him when I get back, he´s that awesome! Anyway, when we went out together, I was able to learn a lot more about using examples in my teaching. The Saviour constantly taught with Parables, and I am finding that it´s so much easier for the people to understand our message if we can find some small little story to adapt to our teachings. I´m really going to focus on trying to do that in the next couple of weeks!

Our investigators have been doing ok this week. It´s been tough getting anyone to come to church, as usual. We pass by there house and they just aren´t there. Everyone is doing something Sunday morning at 9! I don´t know what though! However, we are working hard to help them continue to grow in the gospel. This past week we taught Pedro again and found out he has stopped reading the Book of Mormon and praying. Unfortunately, he´s started a downward spiral. :( It´s sad because we can see the bad effects so plainly in front of us: His job is getting more stressful, he is having problems with his back now, his two sons have both gotten sick in the last week, his wife is sick, they all got sick from some ceviche that they´s just OBVIOUS. He needs to read. He has to read and pray, and attend church. When he was doing that, he was seeing so many blessings. Now that he´s not, well, no blessings are coming his way! We´ll keep working with him.

While I was with Elder Compuzano on Tuesday, Elder Ramirez and Iribar were able to find one really great investigator! Her name is Mirian and she just seems so ready! I guess when they found her she was having a REALLY tough day. They were able to show her how Christ can really save her from all of the tough times in her life if she chooses to follow him. By the end of the lesson, I guess, she was feeling a lot better and was ready to accept baptism! When I saw her two days later, I could just see the light in her eyes! Truly, God led them to her because she needs the gospel right now in her life. She could be another one of those golden investigators that are just ready for it! She wasn´t able to attend sacrament meeting, which worries me some, but we´ll see what happens!

Another unfortunate thing happened this week with an investigator of Elder Yupa and Smith. He had made some really bad decisions in his life, drugs, alcohol, sex, which left him with a child he can´t see from a girlfriend way back. However, he´s made some great progress and put that all behind him. On Friday, President Chipman came for a devotional we had and they were able to have him get interviewed, and he passed! However, that very night he went out and got drunk. Yesterday, the day of his baptism, he didn´t come to church, so when Elder Yupa went to check on him they found out what had happened and found out. Makes me sad, but also we have to realize there´s only so much we can do to help people. They have to make the decision themselves. We can council and show them what we know and have learned, but they make the decision.

Well, my time is running out! I hope all is well at home with everyone! I look forward to my call in two weeks! I wish you all an amazing week! Thank you for all the letters that I receive! :) I´m really really grateful for each and everyone one! They keep me going.

Love you all!

Elder Schofield

Another Week Gone - email from 23 April 2012

Another week has passed in the quiet town of Negritos here in the mission! Really hard to believe how long I have been here! It feels like home now. The brick buildings that are falling apart with the roofs that leak. I´ve talked to practically everyone who walks passed me on the street, and they recognize me as well! Then again, how could you not recognize the very tall white missionary that´s always knocking on your door?

This week was a little harder for us. We didn´t have much success in finding new people to teach, and a lot of our appointments fell through. When we did knock doors, a lot of the people either didn´t bother coming to the door or they just yelled from their sofa that they´re either busy or about to leave. Haha, Elder Ramirez and I always joke that we´ve never known people that were so busy! I guess they feel like they have to lie instead of telling us that they just don´t want to listen. That´s ok, it´s just kinda funny because sometimes we catch them in their lies and then they get all flustered.

We did have some success with our investigators, and I think we were also able to help some of our recent converts this week. On Tuesday last week we went to visit Maria and her husband, and we caught them just as they were about to leave together. We could tell something was going on because they just had something in their eyes, so we set up another appointment for the following day. When we got there Wednesday evening, we found out what had happened. I guess Sunday Daniel, the husband, had been working on one of the platforms in the ocean. To get down from a second level, he jumped and landed on a board. Well, the board broke, and he was barely able to catch himself with his arms on some metal pipes, saving himself from a very gruesome death admist some of the drills below. It truly is a miracle that he´s alive. However, the company is now going into an investigation about what has happened. They´re really worried about him losing his job because they do have two kids that need money for school and food. Jobs are impossible to come by here.

During the lesson, I really just felt the pain they were feeling. You could see the fear and worry in both of their eyes. We shared the Book of Mormon with them and how it can strengthen us during times of trial. How it really shows us what we need to do in the moment that we need to do it. We left them Mosiah 24 to read, about how the people of Alma were forced into a hard situation and had to find a way out of it by relying on the Lord. I´m hoping that they are able to read and apply that story to their lives, and that it will help them a lot.

I think I´m really beginning to fall in love with the people. It´s something I´ve been praying for from day one here. This past Sunday, we had another experience that just really broke my heart, honestly. We´ve always passed through all of the people drinking and smoking and fighting and it´s never really effected me. However, for some reason this Sunday I was really focusing on trying to find someone to teach. Someone that the Lord had prepared. As we walked away from a fallen through appointment I said a prayer that Heavenly Father would lead us to someone that was willing to listen to us and ready for the gospel.

As we walked, the first thing I saw was a sixteen year old girl with a 24 year old guy, drinking beer together. Furthur along, I saw a mother arguing with her neighbor, beer in hand, as her little girl about 3 years old was playing in the dirt behind her. The next door we passed I heard a little boy screaming as his dad was trying to control him by yelling. It seemed like in every street there was a party going on where everyone was drinking and just carrying on. Finally we saw one group that didn´t seem to have beer, and they began hollering at us and making fun of us for being missionaries and even worse, mormons. We just smiled and walked by.

Really, it just makes me sad. It makes me sad to see so many people not caring about their health and breaking the commandments. They all know that drinking is bad. They all know that they shouldn´t do it, shouldn´t have sex outside of marriage, and everything else. However, they deliberately choose to disobey. It makes me sad to know that they just don´t care about religion anymore, many have thrown in the towel and just have decided to live the wicked life that brings them happiness for a few moments. It reminded me of Jacob and how he talked about the wickedness of the Lamanites and how he truly felt that their sins were upon his head if he didn´t preach them the gospel. I felt that same thing, and how much I wanted to them to taste of the true happiness that comes from the gospel. However, they need to let me in the door if anything is going to happen. They need to have some sort of a desire to change. Hopefully, this week will see that.

I really am so grateful for our Father in Heaven. Even in all of this, with the people choosing not to follow and to take the easy way out, He is blessing my life. I have really never felt His love more for me. I know that I have a long way to go to be the man and missionary that He wants me to be, but I know He´s going to help me get there. I pray that I will have the strength to face the challenges, and I trust that He will be there every step of the way. This week we´re going to work a lot more with the less active members, and I have a feeling that He has prepared them to come back. We´re going to see some success with them, and I hope that in this way we´ll be able to find more people to teach as well. God truly works in many different manners, and we´re going to try a different way this week.

Thank you for all of your prayers on my behalf! I look forward to every letter I receive! Keep it up!

I love you all!

Elder Schofield

A Very Interesting Week! - email from 16 April 2012

Well this week has literally just sped by. I honestly feel like every day was only one minute long. I don´t know how I´m going to keep up with what´s happening! I´m trying really hard to keep a good journal so that one day I can go back and read what happened because I don´t have time to really realize what´s going on! Time is simply insane on a mission.

So this past Tuesday, God really sent me a great message. :) I am supposed to be here in Negritos. On Tuesday, we found 3 new people that were interested in our message! It´s been a while since we found someone that actually wanted to listen to us, and we found three in one day! I was really so very thankful for that, and it was a great testimony builder that I am supposed to be here for a fourth change. We are going to continue working with these people, as they still have not accepted baptismal dates. However, I know that Heavenly Father guided us specifically to them and that things are going to go out well.

I wanted to tell you about one of the new investigators we met, and a little experience we had. Her name is Maria Bennites Vargas, and she has two children that are both in the equivilant of elementary school. When we knocked on her door she immediately just let us in. Normally when people do that it´s because they listen to everyone. Well, it was the same case with her! However, when we started the lesson, I think both Elder Ramirez and I both felt the spirit directing us as to what message she needed that day. It was one of the best lessons I´ve had because we were able to keep a conversation going the entire time. A lot of times it is difficult to do that because people don´t understand different points to the lesson. Maria understood. We taught her the plan of salvation, and she was able to understand all of it very well.

At the time, we didn´t understand the reason why we taught that lesson. We just knew that was what we needed to teach her. When we went back for the second lesson, she told us why. Her mom died just a few months ago, and she has talked to multiple religions about where her mom has gone. She´s been unsatisfied with every response. She said when we came in and just taught her without her having to ask, she just felt it was true. What a great feeling! At that moment I felt so grateful for the influence of the Holy Ghost in our work. We then began talking a little more about her family, and she said her husband, who is normally anti-religious, has taken the pamphlet we left her and is also interested in our message! She said she had also talked to him about our message, and he seemed really interested!

I´m so excited for this family. The second lesson was something of a miracle too. Her kids were there, running around the entire time, and even screaming a lot. Trying to teach about the Restoration with screaming kids is NOT easy. We got to where I was relating the first vision, something that is very sacred to us, when the dog just started barking REALLY LOUD, right in front of us! Maria got super upset with the kids who were bothering the dog, and for a few minutes we just had to wait. Thankfully, the spirit waited as well. When we finally were able to get back to the lesson, we finished without any other interruptions. I know that God had a hand in that. We gave her two pamphlets this time and set up an appointment to meet with her and her husband. I hope that things go well!

Another great experience we had this week was with Hermano Pedro. When we first showed up to his house, we ended up helping his son with some of his religious homework. It really amazes me how the Catholic high school is having them do this work! The questions were about Acts and the orginal church that Christ organized here on Earth. It simply doesn´t make sense to me that they study the church that Christ organized, with a prophet and apostles, living the commandments of tithing, baptism, confirmation, and even talking about the authority, yet they can still say the Catholic church is true today. Simply astounds me. When we helped him with his homework, we told him exactly what the Bible says! The church needs to have authority like the apostles had, and we need to be baptised and confirmed by the laying on of hands. However, he still doesn´t want to accept what we´re teaching. That´s ok!

After that little experience, we taught Pedro about Lehi´s Dream. It really was a great lesson where we talked about how he could take the first step, he could be the first to be baptised and his family would follow. We also talked about how he has received his answer. He agreed with us that he feels like he has received an answer, but when I tried to set a baptismal date he said he wanted another answer, this time as a strong feeling, something he couldn´t deny. Well...try as we might, we can´t change that desire. He wants that strong sign from God before taking this step. We told him that he could receive confirmation of the answer, but he has to do his part: read, pray, and attend church. However, he didn´t attend church yesterday. :( Not sure what happened because on Saturday he and his wife both said they would come. Oh well, we´ll keep following up with them!

My third experience this week really made me quite sad. It started Sunday afternoon when we went to visit Doraliza. She wasn´t there, but on our way back she flagged us down from a moto and we followed her back to her house. After a quick lesson, her non member friend came in, and we also talked to her for a while. I think it was all timing for what happened next. When we did leave, and were walking down a main street to go back towards our pensionista for dinner, I saw a SUPER drunk guy trying to walk home. When I say trying, I mean it. He could not tell his right from his left, and I could barely believe he was making any progress at all. At a certain point in the sidewalk, there are about four steps up, and they´re pretty high steps! He was on the other side of the street, and we were a little behind him when I saw him try them for the first time. He got about halfway and then fell back down, but managed to catch himself. Something inside me told me he was not going to make it the second time, and I was right. The second time he tried he tripped and ended up falling back and hitting his head, HARD on the pavement, where he stopped moving. We ran over, and he was out cold. When we started to try to see if we could get him to sit up, we noticed that he had cracked the back of his head open and was bleeding.

My companion ended up getting blood all over his white shirt as we leaned him up against a concrete wall. The man came too and began telling us to go away, that he was catholic and would always be catholic. (funny how they still have that line even when they are completely hammered) We tried to tell him multiple times that his head was cracked open but he couldn´t tell and just wanted us to leave him to walk home, which was probably about 3/4 of a mile away. We refused, and showed him the blood that was all over his shirt.

While we were arguing with him, trying to get him to realize that he was hurt and needed to get a car or something to his house, people just kept passing us by. We finally got a moto to stop, and they even told us they knew the man. They said they would run and get someone real quick but they left and didn´t come back. Finally I told my companion, look no one is going to come. By that point the man had stood up and we were still fighting him to try to get him to wait for a car. He was just too stubborn. Finally, another moto passed by, this time an empty one. We flagged it down, and took the man to his house. However, his sister was not home, so we ended up having to leave him by himself there. His neighbor was kind enough to tell us, ¨ya, he lives there. Just let him be.¨ as blood was still coming from his head.

It really makes me sad to think that someone would drink so much that their mind just is not there at all. It makes me even more sad that a man can fall like that, in the middle of a street, and no one even tries to help him. I know that Heavenly Father put us there at that time so that we could help him, even if all we could do is make sure he gets to his house ok. The problem is that this is just NORMAL for everyone. People get hammered every weekend, so seeing someone like that walk down the street just isn´t a big deal at all. It makes me sad, and makes it so much more important to me to try to give people the gift of the gospel in their lives, so they don´t have to wake up every Monday with a gash in the back of their head and a huge headache.

So anyway, that´s what I was up to this week! Oh! I also had an AWESOME suprise! Elder Foutz sent me a package this week full of candies!!! Thank you!! It was an awesome!! Kinda crazy to think that from the original 4 that were here in Negritos, I´m the last one here! Changes sure happen quickly on the mission!

I hope you all know that I love you! Thank you all for your continued support and love. I am so grateful for all the letters and prayers I get from you all! I know that I am so blessed to have a great family behind me. I look forward to talking to you in another month! I´m pretty sure it will be the second Sunday of May, and I will be able to use Skype again. :) I look forward to it!

Love you all!

Elder Schofield

Four Changes in Negritos! - Email from 9 April

Well, we found out our changes today and I´m staying in Negritos with Elder Ramirez! It´s really hard to believe that I´m going to spend more than 5 months in my first area! Not going to lie, I have knocked every single door in this area now...many of them two or three times! That´s ok. :) Heavenly Father is always preparing people, and I know that He is the one that decides the changes, not President Chipman or the assistants, it´s God who is directing this work. I only hope and pray that I can continue working diligently in order to find and bring more people unto Christ. Sometimes it´s hard, not going to lie, looking up and down the streets and remembering knocking every single door and wondering, ´where should I go know? Which door should I knock again?´ However, I´m learning that I can knock the same doors over and over again, and usually you don´t run into the same people. :)

This week has been one of reflection for me, I think! I´ve been thinking a lot about the teachings of Christ this week and how I am personally applying them to my life. We haven´t had a lot of success finding people that are interested in our message. It´s been tough, a lot of people just simply aren´t interested. As a result, personal study has sometimes been just that: personal. Normally, we study for the investigators that are progressing so that we can help them. When you don´t have anyone progressing...well, you study to strengthen yourself. :)

Anyway, I was reading in Jesus the Christ about the parables of the kingdom of heaven. Mainly a couple that talk about someone leaving everything behind in order to reach the kingdom of heaven. I´ve been really pondering that a lot. Am I really willing to leave EVERYTHING behind for God´s work? As a missionary, do I still have some things that I´m trying to hold on to from home? It´s been tough to face the facts that yes, I still am not completely 100 percent devoted to the Lord´s work. I remember in the MTC I would always have to fight thoughts of worldly songs or people, or whatever. Here in the field, it is a lot harder. My neighbor just happens to be a fan of Styx and Queen. :) It´s not easy to not listen to that, or to not remember listening to it with Dad in the garage working on the cars. The streets are full of music and different things, and I haven´t been gaurding my thoughts as much as I should have.

The other thing that I´ve thought about is really submitting myself fully to God´s will, and not having my own priorities. Honestly, that is my biggest desire right now. Before my mission, I still had the worldly desires to have a great job and accomplish something for myself. Now...I don´t want that. I´m begginning to understand that yes, I am going to be judged for each and every action and decision I make here on earth. Christ was perfect because every action and every word He said was under the direction of our Heavenly Father. I want to do that. I want to be completely devoted to Him, and to forget everything else in this life. I´m beginning now, and I hope and trust that God is going to help me and direct me. I know that only by doing this will I have eternal happiness.

As far as investigators this week, I did have quite the interesting experience with Hermana Doraliza and her daughter. We were teaching a lesson, and I happened to ask a question, and her daughter Marla did not like the reply of Doraliza. She came out of our room and began calling her mother a liar, and ripped her up oneside and down the other. Doraliza began crying, and you could tell that Marla as well was really upset. Marla says that Doraliza has not been the perfect mother and Marla blamed everything on her. It was pretty pathetic, to tell you the truth.

However, I could tell that there was true feelings behind what Marla was saying. Maybe Doraliza has said some horrible things to Marla, maybe some things haven´t gone the greatest in their family. However, Marla blamed absolutely everything on her mom and wasn´t willing to face the fact that the reason she´s not happy is her own fault. We ended up going back the next day and just teaching Marla. We talked for a long time, and I think she understood that the responsibility to be happy rests on her shoulders. She needs to follow the gospel and keep the commandments, that is the ONLY WAY to be happy. It doesn´t matter what other people do to her, what they say, or even what they think. What matters is if she is completing her purpose here in life, if she is following Heavenly Father´s plan.

Another update is on Pedro Alama! I think I´ve told you quite a bit about him, he´s the lawyer that we´re hoping would get baptised soon. Anyway, we visited just his wife and son this week because we just haven´t had the opportunity to teach them, school has started so their very busy. We found out that He really does want to get baptized. He is reading the Book of Mormon and talking with his wife and son about joining the church. However, they both told him that he can join, but they will not. They say their whole extended family is Catholic, and won´t consider changing religions. Edy, his wife, made sure to tell us multiple times that she does have confidence in us, and likes that we come around and likes our lessons, but she just doesn´t want to change. She said maybe with time, but right now, no.

Well, it was kinda tough to hear that, but I´m really glad she came out with it. We said we understood, of course! A big change like this is hard, especially when your whole family is Catholic. All we can really do is try to keep encouraging them to progress, and to keep reading the Book of Mormon. Edy hasn´t read any of the Book of Mormon on her own. She said she doesn´t have time, or Pedro keeps taking it to his office. Well, I solved that by giving her her own copy. :) Now she really doesn´t have an excuse.

I hope this family can progress in the gospel. We´re going to keep working with them. I really hope that Pedro will have the strength necessary in order to be baptized without his family, and that they will follow after. I know that he knows it´s true. He´s received more than one witness. We just need to get him to commit. I think that´s going to be our goal this week.

Well, nothing else really big has happened this week...I keep chugging along here in the mission! I hope all is well with everyone in the states! Keep up the letters! I love receiving every single one of them!


Elder Schofield