Monday, August 20, 2012

Changes! - email from 20 August 2012

Well hello family and friends!! Can you believe that it`s already towards the end of August? Winter is just flying by! Haha, that`s`s summer up there in the northern hemisphere. Here I am enjoying cool weather for the first time in a year and you all are suffering from 100 degree weather! Corinne and Spencer must be dying from the heat of Texas!
On a different note, this week has simply FLOWN. I don`t even know where to begin! So last monday was pretty crazy...I had to travel practically all day for Elder Naranjo! Turns out...he`s training a new missionary!!! I`m super excited for him and I know that he is going to do a great job training in the humidity of Tumbes! Everyone says Tumbes is a punishment, but I also know that they are having a lot of success there! Heat, humidity, and bugs...but the gospel must go to all four corners, right?
My new companion, Elder Castillo that`s in this picture I sent, is AMAZING! He truly is an answer to prayers. I prayed for a companion that was obedient and that really wanted to be here in the mission. Boy, have a received the greatest companion in the world or what! I kind of feel like the two really super dorky elders from `Saturday`s Warrior` because both of us are just excited to go out and teach the people of Sechura. It`s amazing what the difference a positive attitude can make. Elder Castillo talks like the people are already committed to being baptized and have accepted our message. I think it`s a little word called FAITH. However, works miracles!
So a little more about Elder Castillo...he is from Lima! However, he actually knew about the church for the first time in Huanaco, that`s where Elder Ramirez, an anterior companion, is from! While he was studying there, one of his friends (yep, one of his GIRL friends) invited him to learn more about the church. He went to one of the dances, saw her dancing and...well...he changed! Haha. Flirt to convert, right? However, it really wasn`t like that. He has changed a ton. He`s told me just a little of what he went through to become a member of the church, and it truly inspires me.
He is the only member of five children. He got baptized without their approval, because they are all super catholics! He didn`t even tell them that he was in the mission until about 3 months in! He truly is an incredible example to me of what sacrifice is and how the gospel can change people. He left everything behind to be here, and is putting his whole heart and soul into the work! Ugh, I could literally write pages and pages of the story of his conversion and the conversion of all of the people I`ve met! Isn`t it simply incredible how the gospel can change each individual to become someone COMPLETELY different? One day I`m going to create a blog of the conversions of everyone...the world will listen and be able to share in the joy of the gospel through the experiences of their brothers and sisters.
So as for our pensionista...we`re actually eating in our own apartment! The owner said she was willing, and so we`re there. She is a JW, so we`re trying to slip in a little teaching at every meal time. She`s really a great lady, and I know that little by little, she`s going to see how the gospel truly changes lives. I have no doubt that the gospel will change each and every person that we meet.
So this week we were also able to have an incredible lesson with Ana and Nelly Berrù! We went with Prdte Bazalar and his wife. After teaching a tiny bit about the Word of Wisdom, which they were already living, we began talking about the way the gospel can bless and change lives. The spirit was super strong! Towards the end of that, Ana`s husband walked in, Michael! Although he really isn`t too willing to make a lot of changes yet, I can see that his heart has already changed a TON! We ended up spending FOUR HOURS in that house! Every time we were about to leave, something else came up. Although I normally would NEVER say that was a good thing, I do feel like we made a lot of progress with the family and with Michael. Had we not waited to leave, we wouldn`t have been able to talk to him.
Sunday was a very emotional day for me for many reasons. First of all I did NOT participate in the Sacrament! Yay! For the first time, all four of the holders of the priesthood were members of the ward. I know that is going to be the same from here on. Also, Felix gave a talk! He was super nervous, but did great! Another speaker was Sheyla, the girl in the photo I sent. She has been less active for more than two years with her family, but we`ve got them back and they are now trying to gain their own personal testimonies! Sheyla, Martina, David, and Leidy are all in that photo. Leidy is 10 years old, and is Martina`s neighbor that we teach along with the whole family. We`re working on trying to get into her house, but it always begins with one person.
One more thing that I had to write to you about is Claudia! She came to church on Sunday too! Although she really didn`t agree with all of our rules on dating, I know that she felt the spirit while she was there. It`s a whole new world in the church. That`s why we are `born again` during baptism. We have to learn everything like little kids! We also had an awesome lesson with her where my companion was able to share his conversion with her. He was COMPLETELY Catholic, but now has changed 100 percent! He shared how he came to know the truth, and I know that helped her as well. I hope and pray that she will continue to progress and that we can get the rest of her family to listen to us as well.
Well, it`s time to much to do! I love you all so`s crazy to think I`ve been gone so long. Please keep up the letters and emails! They really do mean a ton. I`ll try to be better about sending them back too....
Elder Schofield

Back Row - Dallon, Elder Castillo, Sheyla, Martina
Front Row: Leidy, David

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Baptism, Birthday, and Blunders! (BBB!!! Ahhh...)

Well hello family and friends!!!
First of all I want to thank those of you that were able to send me a happy birthday greetings!! This birthday really was a great one! I had a great time at the Berrù`s. We had a little FHE with them and then had cake, which you can see from the picture I sent! It was also a very spiritual night with them. Ana is the mother of Felix, one of our recent converts. His dad, Michael, finally came home from a long business trip! Initially, he didn`t even want to listen to us, but we just watched the video of `Together Forever`. He loved it so much he asked me for a copy! I really think that God is touching his heart as well, and I`m hoping to see the entire family baptized!
On Saturday, we also had a lesson with Ana and her sister Nelly. I felt the spirit super strong during that lesson! We talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ in very simple terms, and about the blessings we receive from it. They both testified to us that they are receiving and seeing the blessings from listening to us. I felt the spirit witnessing to them that what we taught is true. They both accepted baptismal dates for next month on the 8th. I really hope that things follow through. Hermana Ana even started to cry as she talked about how her husband was even changing after just 3 days! I know that this gospel has the power to change lives. I have faith that God is touching many other people out there, preparing them for me and my companion to teach. I hope that we can recognize them when we find them.
We also had a baptism this week! Milton Laureano was baptised by one of the recent converts in the ward, Carlos! It really was an amazing experience for me when I could see, yet again, how God is in everything.
First of all, we did not have a place to hold the baptism! We don`t have enough money to be able to go to the Union like before, so we had to search for a pool here. After visiting three places, we found one that was willing to fill one of their little play pools for us. We paid the five soles and just expected it to be ready! Well, we got there at 8 am and it was filled up to about my ankle...well, in the Church of Jesus Christ, we baptize by immersion. Not just our ankles. ;) So, that was a first problem. Another problem was our investigator! Milton told us he would wait for us in his house, so when we passed by and he wasn`t there, I was a bit worried! Also, another investigator from the center, Julio, was late as well! Turns out that us four elders were waiting for an hour there until the first people came. 2 and a half hours after it was supposed to begin, the service was underway! Thankfully, the big pool at this rec center had enough water...although they were trying to clean it and there was some scum at the bottom...but hey, a baptism is a baptism!
Claudia was also able to attend the baptism! She was there at 8...and was a bit stressed about having to wait so long. Let`s just say that the name of the church isn`t flying so high in her books right now, with her church experience and now the baptism. However, she was able to see the baptism, and I believe that she also felt the spirit as we sang songs. I sure felt it really strong...witnessing to me that God really is behind everything, and I didn`t need to worry about a thing!
Another challenge also hit us this week...that of our Pensionista! She provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us! However, this last Sunday she found out that she`s super ill! She has kidney stones as well as another sickness in her stumach. She has been in and out of the hospital and is now taking a lot of pills. This past week her mother was kind enough to cook for us, but now we`re without pension! We are eating with the other elders in their pension, but she has told us that this can`t be permanent. There are other ladies in the branch willing to provide meals for us, but the problem is that they have daughters! (Aren`t they always behind all of the problems Mom? I always told you I wanted a brother...haha, jk! Love ya sisters! :P ) We obviously can`t be there in the house every day for 3 hours with a family that has a teenage daughter...even the best of people can fall to temptation. I honestly do feel comfortable with one family because Chesy (That`s Chelsey actually!) is in school and really would only be there for dinner. However, President needs to check into it more, and we will continue looking.
Also...CHANGES this week!! I just barely found out that I will be staying in Sechura! As much as I know that Sechura is a hard area, I really want to continue to see the progress of Claudia and the Berrù family. I have high hopes for them. Elder Naranjo will be leaving, and if my suspicions are correct, he will be training a new missionary! All of that will be confirmed tomorrow. I am really excited to have a new companion...Elder Naranjo has just been kind of a downer these last two weeks. I`ve found out that I need to marry an optimistic. :) We`ll leave it at that. I am eternally grateful for what he was able to teach me about being more patient and temperate. He also taught me how to have better relations with members, and I learned that our purpose as missionaries is more than`s members too. That`s been a focus this last month for us as well. We`re getting all the less actives back! It`s just as amazing to see them come closer to Christ as it is to see someone baptised. It makes me sad to see people fall away. They once had a close relationship with God, but they stopped praying. They stopped reading. They stopped making Him the priority. All of us can easily fall off the path. All of us can easily lose track of what is most important. I have done it. I have even done it here on the mission. However, there is a way back.
This last week we visited an 18 year old that was just baptized two years ago but stopped coming to church. Cecilia just started at the University a year ago and has been preoccupied with all of that. Happens to a ton of teenagers, right? When we visited her, I just tried to make her remember. I felt the spirit guiding me as I asked some really simple questions that made her reflect on her life before, when the missionaries where coming. She was able to recognize that she had stopped doing some very simple things, and because of that her life was not as happy as it was before.
A lot of times, with less active members, I don`t know what to say! At least with investigators, I know the next principle that they need to understand from the lesson plans. However, less actives are more difficult. It`s like home teaching. IS home teaching. The only thing is we don`t have home teachers so we`re trying to help President Bazalar, the branch president, with reactivation. It really makes me [It appears that cut Dallon's email here. We did actually get an email from President Bazalar saying that Dallon had trouble sending his email.]


Monday, August 6, 2012

Another week in Sechura - email from 6 Aug 2012

Well hello family and friends! How is everything going there in the United States? Kinda weird to think that this week I have reached 10 months in the mission! I can hardly believe it!

So this week we worked pretty hard. On Tuesday, we had a really great lesson with Hermana Ana Berrù and her sister, Nelly. They are so READY for baptism! Both of them say that if they get an answer, they will be baptised. They both also understand the lessons so quickly, it`s really amazing! Hermana Ana knows four or five members, and she`s already establishing friendships with President Bazalar and everyone else. She`s read all the way through 1 Nephi already! I know that God is going to answer her prayers, and soon, because she really is the best investigator that I`ve had so far. Hermana Nelly is also really great. She does have one challenge with a member...they just don`t get along that great. Oh well, that`s how life goes...

Wensday (i can`t remember if that`s right...) the 1st of August was a `very sunny day.` (Subtle enough Tosha?) Haha, we had our District meeting and I got letters! Thanks again mom for doing the things. It`s really cool to be able to read them all over again. They really pick me up when I`m down.

We also had companion exchanges on Wednesday (still can`t remember...) and I went with Elder Sierra. It was quite an experience! He really struggles with reading. He just can`t read very well! During companionship study, we ended up talking more than reading, which really was a great change actually! Because of his debilidad he is just super humble! I was really astounded at the way he could share his testimony with the people. In one of the lessons we had together, I could literally just feel the power of his spirit as he bore testimony that our Saviour lives and that through the Atonement and the gospel everything could be fixed in this man`s life. It truly was incredible, and made me think a lot about the way that I need to testify of our Lord and Saviour.

The rest of the week seemed to pretty much fly by. On Thursday we had a very interesting lesson with Claudia. We taught her about the Apostacy again, and I felt that I needed to be SUPER direct...well, I was. I told her about Constantine, about how the Catholic church changed doctrines, the bible, William Tynsdale, and the protestants. She was in shock. I don`t think she had ever heard that the Bible had been changed at all. They`re all just so innocent, and follow their leaders blindly...I really hope that she will pray to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that she will have real intent. She has a very strong testimony that her saints are real...which really makes me sad. A 14 year old girl is worshipping idols because her parents told her too. It really isn`t her fault at all...I hope that things will work out with her. mind is super scatterbrained right now. I didn`t write very much in my journal this week, and I haven`t spoken english for more than a month. I think I`m forgetting it! Oh well...someone will have to teach me when I get back!

Love you all!
Elder Schofield

Sunday, August 5, 2012

¡Una Biblia! ¡Una Biblia! ¡Tenemos una Biblia! - email from 30 July 2012

So I just had to put that as my title because I was able to see that prophecy in action yesterday! We taught a lady whose name is Trinidad about the Book of Mormon and how it testified of Joseph Smith, the church, and most importantly of Jesus Christ. Her boyfriend that she lives with is a member, and that`s why she`s listening to us. Well, after coming to church, she says we teach the same things she believes. When we invited her to read the book of Mormon she actually said, `I have a Bible, why do I need to read that?` Well, guess we can say that prophecy is true! In the end, she accepted it and said that she would try to read...we`ll see how it goes.
This week has been incredible for me and I really hope that I will be able to get everything down here! If I mess up some times...pardon me, because my english is horrible now! But I wanted to tell you all of the amazing spiritual experiences that I`m having here in the grand desert of Sechura Piura Peru!

So the first person I have to tell you about is Ana. She is the mother of our recent convert, Felix. She`s been fairly open to our message, mostly for her son. However, she`s never really expressed desire to listen or anything, even when I have offered to come over and teach her. However, that changed over the course of a few weeks!

On Tuesday night we watched a small Mormon Message with her, and at the end I had the impression to be super direct with her and invite her to read the Book of Mormon and take the discussions. Well, after simply bearing a bold testimony, she asked me what she needed to do! It was like music to my ears...having someone finally ask what they needed to do. I pointed to the BOM as the first step...tomorrow we find out if she took it!

The other miracle in my life is Claudia. She is only 14...and I do think that part of the reason she listens to us is because she`s a snake. However! She is really receptive and is following through with committments. This Sunday she even came to church for the first time, a big step!

So last week we had a lesson with her on the Plan of Salvation. We felt impressed to teach that before we even showed up, but when we got there we found out why! A super close family friend, they call her their `aunt` just died. She began to cry as she told us that. Well, as the lesson went on, and I began explaining the power of the Atonement in our lives, we both could feel the spirit super strong. I shared Alma 7:11-12 with her, and she couldn`t finish because she was crying. I felt the spirit so strong in that moment.

In the next lesson, she related to us that she felt something super warm come over her...and that she even felt a hand on her shoulder comforting her! I felt the spirit witness to me that it really did happen. She is recognizing the spirit little by little, and I have faith that she will receive and recognize the answer from God that this is the true church.

Sunday was quite an experience as well with Claudia. She was SUPER nervous to go, it was the first time she had attended any church other than the Catholic church. She knew two or three members, but none were really her friends. During sacrament meeting, I sat next to her, and I could see and feel the tension, stress, and fear in her. I said many silent prayers that she would be able to relax and feel the spirit.

Unfortunately, two of the loudest members sat directly behind us. One of them had his cellphone on, and it went of FIVE times during the meeting! Even after the Branch President clearly asked that everyone turn off their phones, it went off. He also began an argument with another member, and it ended up that Claudia and I weren`t able to listen to a single talk because they were so distracting. Claudia even began crying, just a 14 year old girl, and said that she wouldn`t come back again. It practically broke my heart because of these two 20 year olds acting like they were 6. I was a little upset, to say the least.

She did end up staying for the classes, even though I could tell she felt uncomfortable the entire time. I prayed super hard that God would comfort her and that she would be able to feel the spirit there in the church. I felt the spirit whisper to me that I can trust in God. I know that to be true, and even if one Sunday is a horrible experience, God can overcome that and still convey His message to Claudia.

After church we talked with her quite a bit, and I could tell that she was upset about the way things went, but also she was accepting. She understands that there are people that are loud and interruptive. She really is quite understanding for a 14 year old, which is why she makes such a great investigator! She reads and understands the Book of Mormon 10 times faster than many of the adults we teach. We just have to get her to apply and have desires to know the truth.

I am praying for a miracle with her. She is deeply rooted in her Catholic beliefs, and also in her Saints. However, I know that if we can just get her to read and pray every day, everything else is going to fall off her and she`ll have an increased faith in Jesus Christ and His restored church.

It`s really tough to believe that this week marked 9 months in Peru! I am starting to feel like I`ve been away a long time from the states. Especially right now when I`m writing...I know that the grammer is absolutely horrendous, but the problem is, I honestly don`t know how to fix it anymore. It sounds wrong even as I write it...but I don`t know what it is that is brain is gone I tell you!

Anyway, I hope you all are enjoying the Olympics! I`m fighting hard to NOT watch them! Not going to lie...I got a peek on Sunday of some swimming and weights. We`ve got one USA fan here in Sechura at least! Go USA! Gold all the way!

Well, remember that I love you all! Remember to do the most important things first: read the scriptures and pray. Your relationship with Heavenly Father is more important than any other thing in eternity. Always remember that!

Elder Schofield

A Tough Yet Wonderful Week in Sechura - email from 23 July 2012

Well hello everyone back in the states!!!

Hard to believe that this week has already gone by! I can`t believe that things have already gone by! This week was a challenge for us, but we worked hard, and that`s really what matters. I feel like God is finally answering my prayers with the challenge that I asked for. I felt the spirit witness that to me on Sunday. I know that if I can continue to follow His councel and guidance, I will be able to overcome any challenge that I have and be able to have an unshakable faith in our Heavenly Father that will bless my life and the life of others forever.

So this week I had quite a few really good experiences, as well as some not so good. The first one is Hermana Magnali. We have taught her a few times, and when I challenged her to be baptized the first time, she completely shut me down. She accepted that when she knew that things were right, she`d be baptized, but was NOT willing to set a date at all. I left that lesson just praying that God would be able to touch her heart and change her mind. We had given her a Book of Mormon, but she hadn`t read. This week we visited her with Yanis, one of the young men in the ward preparing to go on a mission. The lesson didn`t go great, but something must have got through, because she read!

When we got to the next lesson, I could see that something was on her mind. At first, I thought that something had happened in the family, or something bad had happened. I began questioning her, but that just wasn`t it. Finally, I asked the question we ask in every lesson: did you pray? Did you read the Book of Mormon? She answered yes...and in that moment I knew she had felt something. I asked her what she thought, and she said she had only read three verses, 2 Nephi 2:11-13, but she had felt something she had never felt before. She said that it was some kind of relief, a peace of heart that she simply hadn`t ever experienced. After reading, she said she prayed as well.

Can I just say, God answers prayers. I have been praying for a long time that she would read and feel the spirit. She did! Unfortunately, her husband got home exactly at that moment so the lesson got a little off track and we weren`t able to really have a conversation about what had happened, but I know that God is answering our prayers, and I hope that she will continue to read and feel that same spirit, the spirit that each of us can feel as we read and are obedient.

The second experience I wanted to tell you about wasn`t the most pleasant of my mission. We were walking one day when a motorcycle stopped and Cristian introduced himself. He said he had met a member and wanted to know more. He began talking about how there are a bunch of religions that believe in the Bible but don`t practice what`s in their. Initially, I got excited thinking that he had been prepared to receive the restored gospel by reading and understanding the scriptures. We set up a lesson, and came back on Saturday. However, my initial impression really couldn`t have been furthur from the truth.

When we got to his house, it was dark. That was the first time I felt the spirit telling me that we really shouldn`t go in to teach him. We began talking in the doorway and I just didn`t have a great feeling. So, I asked if we could go in and turn on a light, thinking that he didn`t have a light in his front porch and that we`d just set up another appointment. Well, turns out that we did go on. It also turned out to be a sort of ambush. Cristian had set up a meeting so that his teacher from the Jehovah`s Witnesses could come and we would have a `debate.`

Once in...I didn`t feel like we could immediately leave, so I said a silent prayer asking for God`s help. Before we started, I stated the fact that we were there to share what we knew from personal experience, and we weren`t there to dispute. Then we said the first prayer...and the first issue came up. Of course the teacher asked me why I didn`t call God Jehovah. He wouldn`t allow us to move on without explaining `where in the Bible does it say that.` Well, I knew of Isaiah 53, how it explains very clearly that Jesus Christ is Jehovah. We shared that with him, and I could tell he got it, but just moved on to another point to try to battle our doctrine. Thus went the `lesson.`

In the end, they didn`t accept what the Bible teaches: that God calls prophets, that He communicates with His children through revelation, and that there is such thing as divine authority here on Earth. I felt really sad to feel, see, and hear how their hearts and become completely hardened. I invited them to pray to know if what we were saying is true, even pleaded with them to do so. I know that God would help them to see the light if they would let Him.

I think Dad said it right in this email...we believe in experiencing the gospel. Those two men believed in knowing the Bible intellectually. I, however, learn from the Bible how to experience the love of God in my life and how to spread it. I know that God speaks to men through personal experience. I know what a prophet is because I have listened to one. I know what the authority of God on Earth feels like because I have been baptised by someone who holds that authority, and have even been blessed by the opportunity to excersize that authority myself. I believe that Christ lives. I believe that He continues acting among the children of men, and that it did not cease after the Bible was written.

One thing that came to mind during the lesson is that the Bible could be likened to a letter from God. It`s His will, right? He wants us to know His will. However, Dad sent me a letter this week. Does that mean that he know longer wants to communicate with me? No. One letter and that`s it? No. There is such thing as a telephone, and there is such thing as not being able to write everything in one email, one book, or even hundreds of books. There is more.

Love you all, have to go!
Elder Schofield

Week in Sechura - email from 16 July 2012

Wow...has the week already passed? Hard to believe how quickly things are flying by! This week we worked really hard. I feel like every week I just have to go pedal to the medal and give it everything I`ve got. I`m beginning to realize that 2 years really isn`t a lot of time, and that I really want to be able to do more! I hope and pray every day that God will magnify the efforts that I am making, because there is no way I can do it all on my own!
So this week was kind of crazy! We had an emergency transfer in our district! That means that I am now the only gringo here! It`s the first time it`s been this way, and I actually kind of like it. I think that I`m going to get to speak Spanish a lot better. We have four missionaries in this branch, and I think we`re going to be great. Elder Christensen got booted out, but is still in our Zone! Kinda crazy, just a quick companion swap!

On Thursday we also had a meeting with President Rowley! He came and we had a zone conference where we talked about finding new investigators and a little bit more about how to use the Book of Mormon in our teaching and our personal conversions. I know that the Book of Mormon has power to it. I know that if we just read it every day, everything in our life will be a million times better!

So today we went to the Zoo! It was kind of pitiful...the animals were in some really tiny cages and looked underfed. What can you expect if it`s free to get in? We actually played soccer most of the time on the field there...that`s all we ever do on P-days! I`m actually starting to be able to do something! When I first got here, I honestly couldn`t do it, I kept wanting to pick the ball up and dribble. Maybe by the time I come home I`ll know at least something!

Well, I`m gonna try to add a few pics...the internet here is horrible! The connection is super slow so that`s why my letters are so small...sorry about that. Just know that I love you all and pray for you often!

Elder Schofield