Monday, February 17, 2014

Weekly Update: Week 3

Aloha everyone! I am currently in an Apple store at the mall haha. The libraries are closed today due to Presidents Day. It has been a roller coaster of a week and has rained a few days. We made it to the airport without a hitch on Tuesday, but our flight was delayed due to hydraulic issues. We were entertained by a blind man who plays the ukelele better than anyone I have ever seen and the singing of a local cheer team returning home after winning nationals! We took off eventually and had a great flight! I got an exit row so I was pretty comfortable! Thank goodness!

Six hours and 37 mins later we landed in Honolulu. It was incredible. We circled around Maui on approach and came in over Pearl Harbor and the air force base. It was so cool! A large portion of the US navy fleet was docked there and there were bombers and fighter jets on the runway! I loved it! After landing we were greeted by our mission president and his wife, President and Sister Warner. They are great! They took over in July and have made the mission a little bit more strict but they are great! So loving and caring! We had the opportunity to attend a baptism that night before headed back to the mission home on the east side of Honolulu.

We slept there and I woke up early and showered and studied before everyone got up at 6:30. While they got ready I helped Sister Warner prepare breakfast and lunches for those who were being assigned to other islands  and would be taking off that afternoon. I have been assigned to the Kaimuki ward in the Honolulu Zone which is just east of Waikiki. It's so beautiful! Our apartment is 10 blocks from the coast and we have a beautiful view of the ocean. My first companion is Elder Miller. He will also be training me for the next 12 weeks. He is from Kaysville, Utah and is awesome! He has been out 6 months and has served that whole time on Maui! We get along great. Our area has been what is called "white-washed" which means we are both new to the area, so we don't know anyone and have no contacts. We have spent most of the week getting our feet under us and figuring out the area and who is who in our ward. We have a great bishop here in the Kaimuki ward. He is awesome! Our Elder's quorum president is also awesome. His name is Tony Suafoa and he is a convert of about 6 years. I love that guy already.

There are actually another set of elders assigned to our area. Elder Boudousqiue from Idaho and Elder Saunders from Oregon. They have been out for 15 months and 3 months respectively. They live outside our actual area so they have the car and we are on bikes. :( it sucks!!! The hills are huge and since it's 80, sunny, and humid. We sweat like crazy! haha. The food is great! The members are so generous and loving! We have dinner appointments almost every evening and the food is so great! I had Spam for the first time this morning and loved it! I will hit 300 lbs easily! My goal is to do it in muscle though! We work out or run every morning along the coast and play basketball all the time! We have had great games and will be playing again today! I love it here already and am excited to get to work.

But it hasn't been all fun and games. Wednesday morning it really hit me. Homesickness. I was at such a low. All I could think about was home and being away from it for two years and not being able to see anyone. I was at the point I wanted to call President and be sent home. But then Elder Miller and I talked and I felt much better. I know it's going to be hard but I'm excited to see where the next two years take me! I know the church is true and I was sent here by God to bring his children to Christ.

I take that back about having too many snacks. :) I couldn't bring any with me to Hawaii so I could use some more! I would also love to hear from everyone! And send pictures! Please send everything to the mission office address then they will forward it to wherever I am. Then there is of course email! The mission office address is:
Elder Thomas Shoaf
Hawaii Honolulu Mission
1500 S. Beretania St.  Suite. 416
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
I love and miss you all! Please write me! 
P.S. I will be sending home more detailed daily updates that my family will type up every week and post on my blog.  Feel free to follow that as well! It will also have all my pictures! 
Elder Shoaf

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekly Update: Week 2

Hey Everyone! Today is my last P-Day at the MTC! I leave Tuesday morning for the Aloha State!!!!! This week has been a crazy roller coaster. From some of the lowest points I've ever been at to the highest spiritual experiences every couple hours sometimes! We have been doing basically the same stuff but with more and more skills and depth to our mock investigators and role-plays. I have noticed that everything is starting to click in a way and it's getting easier and easier. The first couple days I was here I was so overwhelmed and freaking out. I felt like I was drowning and I had no idea where to even begin to understand or prepare to teach, let alone teach! But we make progress everyday. Our teachers take upon roles of investigators they had in their missions and we teach these investigators daily and because they are our teachers they can give us really good feedback after we have "left". They also throw unique circumstances at us too. Such as one day we showed up to teach "Grace" (Ms. Wilkinson) and she was flat out drunk! Haha. But also on top of this we gained a TRC investigator (training resource center) Monday which are volunteers who come to the MTC to pose as investigators and  we teach them the gospel. They are all either non-members, recent converts, or members but they don't tell us! So we have no idea if they're acting or truly not members! Our investigator's name is Chad and he is a former atheist who is looking around at different churches trying to find happiness and found and had requested a Book of Mormon. This is all we had going in, but we have developed a close relationship with him after just three 45 minute visits.  At first we thought we were struggling to connect with him even though he is very open and nice. But last night we finally learned what our teachers have been teaching us about "teach people not lessons". We went in there very nervous and depressed about the night before but in our prayer before we went to meet with him Elder Hatch and I asked for the Lord to guide us and to know what Chad needed to learn and the answer came while we met with him. Both Elder Hatch and I cleared up some deep questions he had and shared some personal experiences and the spirit was so strong that all three of us began to cry. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. Truly astounding. As I said before the MTC is a roller coaster. This was a high and that followed a pretty low day. I have learned that this work is not possible without the Lord. You have to prepare diligently but have the humility to turn to the lord for help and give him everything you have and he will take care of the rest. Over and over I have seen this in just the past 10 days. The MTC is a grueling, grinding experience that takes everything out of you but when you have experiences like I did with Chad last night it makes it all worth it.

Also we have more than enough food!! Thank you to all that sent food to us. Between us we have 8 boxes of food!!! We do not need anymore food here at the MTC haha. On another note I can't seem to send photos from the MTC computers so I will share photos when we get to Hawaii. But please send me pictures! I would love to see some photos from home! I can't wait to get to Hawaii and start teaching the Hawaiian people! I'm not sure what day I will have P-day in Hawaii. I assume it will be Monday so it will be the Monday after next. The best way to send me letters is still through! Here at the MTC until Monday before noon then in Hawaii for the rest of my mission. My mom sends me them daily so I'm sure she could answer any questions you have! Thanks for all the support!
      Elder Shoaf

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

First Email!!

Hey everyone! Today is my first Personal Day at the MTC (missionary training center, Provo, Utah)! Which are Fridays as you can tell! Once I arrive in Hawaii personal days will be Mondays!  Today is my second full day, third overall! It's not too bad but a lot of work. It is so cool to have a name tag! We get up at 6:30 and we are non-stop till 10:30 at night. The food isn't bad but it is BYU cafeteria food so it all tastes the same. My companion Elder Hatch is from Arizona and is a computer guy. He is barely 5' 6" very skinny and NEVER talks. I'm starting to get him to know him slowly and he's great. He has great views on the gospel and life. We get along pretty well. I am in a district of 6 guys. We are all going to Hawaii which is rare for the MTC for everyone in a district to be going the same place. I love my guys. Elder Spencer and Elder Penrod are from Utah, Elder Willis is from Arizona as well and Elder ILI in from Cali. We have great times together. Unlike most districts we stick together. At the MTC we must stay in sight and sound of our companion.  So far I feel super overwhelmed trying to learn everything I need to know in just twelve days but other times I feel pretty good. As a district we support each other the best we can and keep it light hearted most the time. But we are also very spiritual in class and during our studies. We spend most the day in our classroom either getting instruction or we have personal and companionship study times. Sometimes we have the personal study time to study what we want such as read the Book of Mormon or Bible but most the time we are study to prepare for our next discussion with our Mock investigator. Usually played by our teacher. Elder Hatch and I are currently teaching our teacher Sister Wilkinson who plays a friend of hers in real life named Grace who isn't a member. She acts as if she were Grace then afterwards she gives us feedback on things we did well and other we could change or improve on. We have learned quickly that as cookie cutter lesson doesn't work for every investigator. We have learned that you have to change it to fit each investigator's needs and what they are seeking. It is a humbling experience being here. You really have to rely on the Lord and the Spirit to guide you. Without it there is no way you can be successful. Today we got our itinerary for Hawaii. We fly out at 9:00am February 11th on Delta airlines non-stop to Honolulu. A SEVEN hour flight. I checked with the travel agency and both business and first-class are full already..... this isn't going to be fun. For all you who don't know I do not fit into economy seating. I have to have more leg room.  Looks like zzzquil will be my best friend on this flight. I'm going to check again when I get to the airport but I'm not getting my hopes up. but I cant wait to get to Hawaii!!! Also on another note since dinner is at 4:30. We raid the vending machines every night. The problem is they only give us a $6.00 limit each week on our ID cards to spend on dry-cleaning, bookstore, vending machines etc. Well I blew through that the first night on the vending machine so I quickly had to find someone to break a $20 so I could use cash haha. So if you would like to send us food it would be appreciated:) but just make sure it gets here before the 10th! On another note I am seeing people I know everywhere. All the guys are blown away by how many people I know, which is all due to my connections. I have seen several friends from BYU already as well as friends from Pageant in the summer of 2012. I have also seen the other guys from the BYU football team as well as Chris Cox and Hayden Klienhenz from home. Both are doing great!! but I have seen the other missionaries going to Russia who have been here for NINE weeks already with three to go and they have all gone insane. They play curling in the bathroom....  I fear Chris will soon join them in insanity. Good luck Skyler:) but overall everything in great! I love being a missionary and can't wait to see what is in store for me. I love and miss you all greatly. Hope all is well. Talk to you next Friday!  "Through God all things are possible."

Elder Shoaf
Honolulu, HI

P.S. If you would like to email me please do it through This site receives your emails and prints them and places them in my mailbox the same day. I can only check my email once a week so if you go through DearElder I can read it the same day you send it and send a letter by mail that day if its urgent if not I will respond via email. As well I only get an hour to email so if I can read them on paper I can use the whole hour each Personal day to respond individually. Also if you would like to send packages or letter I will have Mom respond all and provide you with my address here at the MTC. She can also assist with DearElder questions since she has already sent me two letters