Friday, June 2, 2017

Week 100 - THE LAST

 Workout with Lalo and Gabi
District Picture
 Elder Alarcon - a new secretary
 The Ferrer Family from Venezuela 
 Breakfast with Zone Leaders and Mara (in the middle)
Jeffrey and Elder Lopez

Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day! 

 As many of you know, today is my last p-day on the mission which means this letter will also be the last I send home as a missionary. This past week has been very busy and very special. I attended my last office staff meeting on Monday morning with the President and yesterday attended leadership council for the last time as well. 

Just so you all know what I'll be up to these last few days, on Sunday, I will meet with President Cahoon for the last time to discuss everything I have learned and accomplished as a missionary. On Monday, I will travel across Saltillo to say goodbye to a couple of wonderful families in the Crown Ward that Elder Smith and I met and baptized a year ago. On Tuesday, I will help train the new missionaries that are arriving to the mission and say bye to Mara, Lalo, and Gabi. Later, all of the missionaries that are going home with me are invited to the President's house for dinner and then I will get on the plane Wednesday morning! It will be a long 11 hours of traveling on Wednesday but it will be wonderful to be home to see you all! 

 This past week has been a time of great reflection and gratitude. I am so grateful that I have been able to serve for the past 24 months in Saltillo, Mexico. I express my gratitude for my friends, church, leaders, and family members that have support me and helped me get to this point. Truly, I have been abundantly blessed with fabulous examples and people who inspire me to be more like our Savior Jesus Christ. Most of all, I thank our Heavenly Father that I could serve Him and sacrifice this time in my life. Truly, He could do all of the missionary work in the world all by himself, He didn't need me, but I am grateful because He gives us, flawed teenagers, the chance to participate in His eternal work. 

 I think the miracle that happened this last week was the opportunity I had to share my final testimony in the office staff meeting and the leadership council. Both times were great moments of reflection, in which I was able to measure and see the growth of my testimony. 
 During the past 24 months, I have learned patience, diligence, and humility, time and time again. I know that if we ask God to correct us and help us grow, He will help us become more like Him. I have developed a great love for others, even those I haven't met. Towards the end of my mission, I have worked hard to try to see them as our Father in heaven sees them, as His sons and daughters.

I have learned that faith requires both a belief and actions. It has never been hard for me to act in my life, but here in Mexico, I have developed a certainty that God lives, that He loves us, that He loves me. I know that Christ is my Savior, our Savior, and that through his Atonement we can overcome the sins, mistakes, trials and tribulations of this life so we can achieve our purpose, which is to have joy and be happy as eternal families.

I testify that this work is a true work. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the same church that Jesus instituted when He lived on the Earth 2,000 years ago. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God and the 12 Apostles are called of God to guide us and the world in these difficult times. These humble servants have the same Priesthood authority that Christ gave to His apostles, the same authority that Joseph Smith the prophet received. I know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God and that it is the key to finding peace in this life and salvation in the life to come. 

 It has been a privilege to share the gospel and make innumerable friends in Coahuila. It has been special to see many of them grab the iron rod, enter the waters of baptism, and receive the Holy Ghost. I know that if they, and all of us, continue to be obedient to God’s commandments, we will be able to receive eternal life and live with Him forever. 
Thank you all for your support and love. I hope you have enjoyed the weekly letters and pictures. It has been a privilege for me to write and hear from home every week. Never forget that we are sons and daughter of God, that He loves us, and that following Christ and His example is the key to this life. 

I loved my mission. It was the best and the hardest thing I have ever done. Now, like Paul once said,’’ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil wok, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever’’.  (2 Timothy 4: 7, 17, 18).

Love, for the last time, 

Elder Shipley

Friday, May 26, 2017

Week 99

 Late Night trip to the office
 Someone has to keep things moving!
 Dinner with Lalo and Gabi!
 Selfie with the Gonzalez Family
 Decorating the office
 Elder Ray's last day in the office.  8 months side by side.
 After basketball with the office crew
Training Elder Atwood!

I was planning on sending a letter yesterday like normal, but when we were halfway done with the hour and a half we have to write every week when the power in the office shut off and didn't come back. Turns out that someone crashed into the power line outside the office and knocked out the power in the office and in all of the surrounding internet cafes so we left to go run a few errands. 

To be very brief, this past week went very well! We are working hard to talk with everyone we can and invite all unto Christ. This past week we taught our neighbor Elsa and her kids and they went to church on Sunday! They said they loved it! We have also had lots of success teaching a couple named Felix and Faviola. They are loving the Book of Mormon and could be baptized on June 3rd! Let's hope they can be ready by then! 

This upcoming week will be my last here in Saltillo. It's strange to think about it but I will do my best to enjoy it and not be trunky. :) We are going to work super hard until the very end to make sure Elder Atwood is ready to take my place as secretary and to baptize! 

I love you all! Thanks for your support and love! 

Elder Shipley 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Week 98

 Elder Atwood and Jeffrey on the streets.
 Jeffrey and Recardo at church.
 Skype Call on Mothers Day!
 Jeffrey and Elder Ray with the Virgin of Guadalupe
 Jeffrey, Elder Ray and St. Judas
Jeffrey, Elder Ray and a "homie" from Venezuela.  

This week has been pretty good! Elder Atwood and I have been working super hard in the office to get him all trained up! He is learning quickly but we have had so many issues with the business invoices that we have to get and the missionary reimbursements that we do. I guess it is good practice and training for Elder Atwood so he be confident after I leave but it has been a ton of work in the office. 

Today is Elder Ray's last P-day in the office. Elder Ray has been the records secretary since September and has done a great job. We have sat next to each other in the office for the past 8 months so we are basically best friends.  On Monday, he will be heading to a different area and no longer be responsible for the baptismal records and other things but I will sure miss him! We are going bowling soon to have fun for the last! 

The most spiritual moment of this past week was a fabulous lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon with a couple named Felix and Fabiola and their kids. They have so many deep questions about repentance and the plan of salvation! It is a pleasure to teach them and share verses from that powerful, and true testimony of Jesus Christ. We hope they can be baptized the first Saturday in June! 

I am super happy! I love the trio I am currently in.  I told my family on Sunday in the Skype call that this is on of the happiest companionships I have ever had.  We are always joking around and having a blast. I feel very blessed that Our Heavenly Father has given me the chance to serve and to spend time with Elder Atwood and Elder Olvera during the last few weeks. 

Have a great week! 
Elder Shipley 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Week 97

 Brazilian Steak House 
 Everyone full and happy outside the restaurant!
 Elder Morano and Elder Gomez.  They have gone home now. 
 Dogs on the roof!  With no yards...they are up on roofs a lot!
 Elder Atwood the new trainee.
Keep working trainee!!

Happy Thursday and happy p-day!  For the first time on my mission I am having my p-day on a Thursday!  It's a little strange, but we are going to take advantage of it!  We are heading to a place with a bunch of trampolines to play dodgeball and do flips for a little while!  Afterwards, we are heading to downtown Saltillo to eat super good Gringas and buy some souvenirs!  

This week was very fast! Shockingly fast! The most important thing that has happened this past week was a change of plans here in the office! I received a call from the President on Sunday night informing me that Elder Crow, the current materials secretary who I was training to be the next financial secretary, is going to stay as the materials secretary for next change. He then told me that Elder Atwood, a super young missionary from Arizona, has been called as the next financial secretary! I was super excited to hear the news!!!! Elder Atwood is super cool and a future star of this mission! It will be a privilege to be in a trio with him and Elder Olvera for these last few weeks. 

We are still working with Luz and her son Elliot so they can be baptized on May 27th or on June 3rd! They are so awesome!! Tomorrow we have a zone conference and then an interview with the President on Saturday.  Then on Sunday, it's Mother's Day!

Thank you for all of your support and prayers! I am very happy and content. I am enjoying every minute and doing my best to help the wonderful people of Saltillo to know our Savior a little better. In the process, I am learning so much and loving every day. Have a great Mother's day!

All love!
Elder Shipley  

Friday, May 5, 2017

Week 96

 At home
 Training Elder Crow! 
 You better do it right!
On the streets with the foursome
Elder Smith in the background

I hope you have all had a great week! This past week in Saltillo was pretty busy! Now that we are 4 missionaries living in the same house and 6 working in the same ward, we have been doing lots of divisions. We have found a ton of new people to teach and are seeing a lot of success on our ward!

In the morning, I continue training Elder Crow to be the next financial secretary. He is doing really well and even improving a few of the things I used to do! He is a great guy.  

We are still teaching Armando, Mitchel, and they are doing well! Both of them started working and have a lot of projects to do for their last year of high school so it is getting harder to teach them. The good news is that last night, Elder Smith, Elder Olvera, and I taught a single mother named Luz that is so awesome!!! We are so excited to teach her and hope she gets baptized soon this month or next!

I love the mission! 

Elder Shipley 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Week 95 - A great week!

 Elder Olvera, Roberto and Jeffrey
 Laio, Elder Olvera, Roberto and Jeffrey
 Chilling outside the mission office
Elder Lara and Elder Antonio before they head home

Happy Friday!! This week has been awesome and super busy!  This past week we had transfers in the mission, new missionaries that arrived, old missionaries that went home, training for my replacement as financial secretary, and amazing miracles in Roberto's baptism!

On Monday morning, we saw the transfers on the mission website and saw that a new area was opened up in our ward! We were super surprised! For the last 8 months here in the Flower Valley ward, we have been just 4 missionaries. Now we are six missionaries living in the ward and the other 2 elders live in our house! I was also super shocked that a new missionary was not coming to be in a trio with Elder Olvera and me. Instead of training a missionary from outside the office to be the next secretary, I am going to train the current materials secretary Elder Crow to be the financial secretary. I am super happy because Elder Crow is a great missionary and super smart! He will be a better secretary than I am for sure. The best part is that he is going to study in BYU in January of 2018 so I will see him again! 

The highlight of the past week was of course the baptism of Roberto! Roberto is Lalo's co-worker who has been listening to us and attending church for the past month! Roberto has truly had an awesome conversion story. A couple of months ago, he was struggling with drinking, smoking, and problems with his wife. He had noticed several changes in the character and behavior of Lalo since he has started going to church and following the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Lalo told us that back in March, he received a call from Roberto asking Lalo to help him come closer to Christ and clean up his life. Lalo, being the fabulous member missionary that he is, invited Roberto to church and he came! 

Elder Olvera and I started sharing messages about faith, repentance, baptism, the plan of salvation, and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with Roberto and he was super excited to start to keep the commandments, make changes in his life, and get baptized to follow our Savior. This past Wednesday, Elder Olvera and I were planning to have Roberto's baptismal interview on Thursday, so we called him to set it up. He said that Thursday afternoon would be perfect and assured us that he would be there. On Thursday morning, I called him to confirm his interview time and he didn't answer. In fact, he didn't answer any of our texts or calls Thursday or Friday! We honestly had no idea what happened to him and were worried that he wouldn't be able to be baptized on Saturday. 

Our worry soon turned to relief late on Friday night. We were back in our house around 9:20pm, after a good day of work, when my companion received a phone call from missionaries in a city several hours away asking for him to buy them bus tickets so they could go to an interview in another city. The missionaries wanted us to go to the office right away to buy them because they were going to travel very early in the morning. My companion, aware that it was already 9:30pm, didn't want to leave our house and told them that we would go to the office super early on Saturday morning to buy them. 

I was in the room with my companion and overheard the conversation. I remember in that moment, that I felt an overwhelming need to tell my companion that we had to go to the office to buy the tickets. It was strange to me because really, I didn't care when we bought the tickets, waking up early the next day would have been fine, and better so we weren't outside after 9:30pm, but I felt the strong need that we had to go the office right in that moment! I remember telling Elder Olvera that we needed to go right then to the office and that we were going to see Roberto and see a miracle!

You might call it chance, fate, or just dumb luck, but I know what happened next was a result of us listening to the promptings of the spirit and acting with faith. We left our house and started walking through the park that leads to the office and then we both jumped out of surprise when we saw Roberto, the same guy who hadn't answered his phone or seen us for 2 days, sitting on a park bench, all alone, waiting for us. We taught him that evening, then confirmed his baptism for the next day, and had a wonderful baptismal service on Saturday evening. 

I know that miracles exist and happen all the time. Perhaps, we don't always recognize or perceive them, but if we listen to the Holy Spirit and His promptings, and act with faith, miracles occur. I know that God lives, that He loves us, and that there are a few more miracles waiting for me in these few last weeks here in Saltillo

Have an awesome week!
Elder Shipley 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Week 94

Roman Guard in the Easter Reenactment
 Easter Reenactment 
 Painting a wall 
 Painting a house 
 Zone get together in Arteaga
 Secretaries in Arteaga
Out with Elder Damuni and lots of football talk!
 Saltillo Fountain with Elder Olvera

Happy Friday everyone!  
We did a ton of great things this past week! Last Friday we spent our afternoon witnessing a Catholic reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ. There were a ton of people outside the church at the park. It was a great cultural experience!

We painted parts of the fence and house of an investigator on Saturday morning! I got super sun burned on Friday and Saturday morning after painting the house so I am now using sun screen again.  Being in the office helps keep me from burning as often! 

On Sunday, the day of Easter, we had a zone contacting activity in Arteaga. We set up a screen showing an awesome video about Easter that was on and invited people to watch it with us! We also went on splits with our district leader Elder Hall. My companion Elder Olvera went to the area of Elder Hall and I stayed in my area with my buddy and future Utah State football player Elder Damuni! We had a blast talking high school and college football for 1 day and 2 nights. I love that guy! 

We also had several great lessons with some of our investigators including Jose Armando, Javier, Michell, and Roberto! I have a lot of faith that several of them will be baptized in the coming weeks!

I love the mission! Thank you all for your support and prayers!

All love! 
Elder Shipley