Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 27

 On the sports court across from his house on Christmas Eve in great weather!
 Inside his house
 Christmas Eve Dinner
 Christmas Eve with a ward family
 Christmas Eve with the Elders
Christmas Eve with the Sister in their ward.

Dear Family and Friends,


I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas this week and thoroughly enjoyed time with their friends and family. This week was one of the most interesting weeks on the mission! I will share with you some of the funny and spiritual moments! 

First, the weather here, once again is so crazy. On Christmas day it was 75 degrees and my companion and I were wearing short sleeves all day! Yesterday however, it was so cold! It was 35 degrees with a super strong wind.  We were very, very cold when we got back to our house. Today, it is once again 65 and gorgeous. 

My companion and I had a lot of fun this Christmas Eve with a great family from my ward and the other set of missionaries! A very different, but great tradition that they have here in Mexico is that they break a Piñata on Christmas Eve.  I had the chance to hit it first blindfolded which was very difficult but really fun!  After everyone had a turn, the family then gave me chance to hit it with my eyes open with the intention of breaking it open to get the candy. Unfortunately, I ended up hitting it like you would hit a baseball and the Piñata swung up and got stuck in a tree...I was very happy that another missionary in my ward likes to climb trees and got it down. Perhaps there is a reason why Americans don't have pinatas for Christmas?!   

I hit 6 months on my mission on Christmas Eve!!! I was very excited!  Obviously, this Christmas morning was very different. I woke up on Christmas morning, and was very excited because I knew I was going to be able to talk to my family via Skype that evening. My excitement quickly vanished when we found out that there was no hot water in the house and that our gas tank had run out. I really didn't want to shower in a cold house with cold water so I decided to wait. Later that day, we ate at a humble members house.  We ate a soup that had pure chunks of fat.  To top it all off,  nobody wanted us to teach them a lesson because it was Christmas so we just walked around all day.   This was, of course, the low point of the week.  

The high point of the week was that we had perhaps, the two most spiritual lessons of my entire mission. One lesson was with a young mother, who served as a Catholic Missionary for 3 years. We were just walking in the street and I had passed by this one house at least 100 times but had never knocked on this one door. So, I turned around and knocked.  We had an incredible lesson about the Plan of Salvation. It was one of those experiences you have as a missionary when you feel like you were taught as much or more than you taught the person you were teaching. She gave me incredible advice about serving missions, she told me that I will only have one chance, and one opportunity to serve a mission and completely lose yourself in the work of the Lord, so make the most of it. She shared a lot more advice and really wants to come to church with us! 

The other lesson we taught was with another woman.  A college student from our ward came with us and we taught again about the Plan of Salvation. The  college student was so clutch. She bore an incredible testimony about the Plan of Salvation and that each one of us will have a chance to receive the Gospel, with the goal that someday we can live with our families forever. After our investigator said the prayer, I held out my hand to give her a high five, and then felt incredibly embarrassed when I noticed that she was crying. She said that she had felt something during the prayer. Something wonderful, something joyful. She also wants to come to church with us and someday be baptized. 

I learned a lot from these two lessons, first of all, the Plan of Salvation is a perfect and wonderful plan that our Father in Heaven has given us.  This gives us the chance to learn, progress, and have joy here on the Earth. It also makes it possible that we can one day return to live with our Father in Heaven and with our families,if we live according to God's commandments. 

I hope you all keep in mind the perfection and comfort that the Plan of Salvation brings us! And if you don't know what I am talking about and want to, ask someone who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I promise it will be worth it! 

Much love from Mexico! 
Have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve! Enjoy the College Football Bowl Games for me!! I will be working extra hard this week so I can forgot all the football I am missing :) 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley

 Skyping with Jeff on Christmas Day!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 26

 Fake Pyramid in the plaza.  Look closely and Feliz Navidad is there behind him in silver.
 The Bishop and his wife in Jeff's ward.
 Elder Holmes and Elder Shipley on the streets in Piedras Negras.
At home with their Christmas tree. 
The Giant Tree in the Plaza. 

Dear Family and Friends, 

We had another good week here in Piedras Negras and found some new people to teach that are really interested! It's crazy to think that it is Christmas this Friday! I hit 6 months on the mission this Thursday! Elder Holmes and I are having a good time and are still speaking only Spanish! 

I want to thank all of the families and friends that sent me letters this holiday season! I loved them all and it made my day, every day, when I could come home and read a letter! 

I wanted to share a short part of the message that President Thomas S. Monson sent out in the December Liahona magazine. I really enjoyed his message and want to share a couple of paragraphs with you all. Keep in mind that what I am going to share is a translation from Spanish to English, because I don't have the Liahonia in English so I hope there aren't mistakes! 

The title of this message is called, "Make Time for the Savior."  I really enjoyed what he said. He started out by saying,  "In our crazy busy lives, with so many things that require our attention, it is essential that we make a constant and committed effort to make Jesus Christ a part of our lives and our homes¨. 

He then followed by saying that since the times of the New Testament, when Christ walked the streets of Jerusalem, performed miracles, and taught His Gospel, He has always encouraged us to follow him. The invitation is always the same, follow Him. One of the best ways to follow Him is to show your love for others through acts of service. 

By following his steps and emulating his example we will have opportunities to bless the lives of others. Our Savior Jesus Christ invites us to give a part of ourselves to others, as He did for us.

The Prophet then asks us, "is there someone that you can serve this Christmas season to better emulate the example of the Savior?"  There is still time during this Holiday season to extend a loving hand, a willing heart, and willing spirit, or in other words, to follow the example of our Savior and serve others like he hopes we will. 

During this Christmas season, my family back home in Issaquah always does a food drive for our neighborhood and the neighborhood next to us. It is always a wonderful experience when we take time to go door to door asking our neighbors for donations, knowing that the time we are spending is for the benefit of those in need. 

This Christmas season, I was not able to help with the Family Food drive, however, I have had the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people here in Piedras Negras, Mexico. Nothing I have ever done brings me such joy, despite it's difficulties. I hope that we can all remember that during this Christmas season, Jesus Christ is the true gift. And the best way we can honor this gift is to give to others. 

I hope and pray that this Holiday Season, each one of us can find a new way to serve our neighbors and family members. And that we will always remember the true meaning of Christmas, as Luke wrote so eloquently hundreds of years ago, 

¨For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a SAVIOR, which is CHRIST the LORD. 

Remember that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that when we remember him and follow his Gospel, we can find peace on Earth and hope for an eternal reward, even Eternal Life. 

Have a wonderful week and a Merry Christmas, and I hope you all find peace this Christmas just as the Angelic Host declared,´´Glory to God in the Highest,and on Earth, peace, good will toward men¨. 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 25

 On the streets with Elder Holmes
 More streets
 Jeff and his companion along with the other set of missionaries in his ward, a gentleman from the ward and SANTA!  I love Santa in Sunglasses!

 Sunrise in Piedras Negras
Jeff says he misses Hermione.  They ran into a gang of puppies this week.

Dear Family and Friends, 

Another crazy, awesome week in Piedras Negras!  It was great to stay in the same house, same area, and same ward as the last 3 transfers.  My new companion is named Elder Holmes and he is from Syracuse, Utah.  He is a really good missionary and I have enjoyed my first week with him! I was going to send an inspiring message about Christmas out with this email but unfortunately, I don't have time today! 

Last night, my companion and I got sick! That's the first time for me here in Mexico.  It wasn't very fun!  I only threw up five times and recovered this morning.  My companion is still doing poorly though, after throwing up at least a dozen times at home and not stopping, we had to take him to the hospital.  He is still there right now.  I am on a split with the other set of missionaries in my ward so I could email home.  My time is short, because I need to get back to the hospital and take care of him. 

There are definitely some perks and drawbacks to having an American companion!  It's great because we share the same culture and best of all...he loves football and I love football!  We enjoy talking about fútbol americano in Spanish!  The difficult part is that it's a battle to speak Spanish when your companion speaks your language!  However, we promised each other not to speak English during this transfer!

In order to fight the temptation to speak English, I wrote a note on a bunch of sticky notes and put them all around the house to remind us to speak Spanish! The note reads, "Even if it hurts, even if it`s difficult, even if you want to quit, speak Spanish! The Lord doesn't need missionaries who speak English, he wants us to speak Spanish!! Nobody said it would be easy, they only said it would be worth it" 

Remember that the important things in life are worth fighting!   Right now, the most important thing in my life is sharing the gospel in Spanish! I am truely enjoying my mission and the time I have to share the beautiful and joyful message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people here in Piedras Negras, Mexico!

I hope you are all well and have a great week!
Elder Shipley 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 24

Right in the middle of the Boarder bridge between Mexico and America!  
 Another Boarder Bridge picture
 Zone Picture before transfers
On the street!

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was a super great week! We had Stake Conference here in Piedras Negras and I really enjoyed all of the meetings! The Temple President came up from Monterrey and gave a really good talk on the spirit and how important it is in our lives.

I tried Mexican deer meat last Wendesday and it was pretty good! I beat the chicken neck I had a few weeks ago! 

Last night, we were able to watch the Christmas Devotional that took place in Salt Lake in the Conference Center and I loved the talks! Be sure to keep in mind the true purpose of the holiday season this December, our Savior Jesus Chirst and His birth! 

Also, we have Cambios/transfers tomorrow! I will be staying here for another month and a half!!  I was pretty certain my current companion, Elder Vielma, was going to stay and I would leave, but he only has 3 months left on the mission, so he is going to be a zone leader in Monclova and I will stay here!  I don't think the President wanted to take out both missionaries and lose all the progress that Elder Suarez, Elder Alcala, and Elder Vielma and I had done for 4.5 months.  Actually, 12 of the 14 missionaries in my zone staying here too.  I love my house, it's sweet, my area is good too!  

I have no idea what my comp is like. Or where he is from, Elder Vielma thinks he has been out a year but who knows.... Should be good! I am really happy that I can stay here with the wonderful people I already know and spend the holidays with them.  The members are so good to take care of us.   And I really like the other two Americans that are serving in the area next to me, but go to the same ward with us.  We eat together three or four times a week. This should be a good week getting to know Elder Holmes and start working with him! It will be different living with an American!  I have only been with Mexican companions since I got here.  

Enjoy the holiday season, take time and remember Christ in your life. 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 23

 A plaza in Piedras right on the boarder of Mexico and Texas!
The wonderful sisters that cooked a "Thanksgiving Dinner" for the boys.
 Christmas boxes have arrived!!
 And, he opened all the boxes and unwrapped the gifts...on Thanksgiving!!!
 Jeff then wrapped it all back up and unwrapped it again the next morning for more fun!
 Mission Zone Christmas Party!
All missionaries in Piedras Negras Area singing Christmas Carols.
Brandom's Baptism!

Dear Family and Friends, 

This was a really good week in Piedras Negras! I got to celebrate the baptism of Brandom Beltran, Christmas with my mission President and 70 other missionaries, and of course Thanksgiving! 

My mission president drove up from Saltillo and hosted a Christmas conference for three zones all day here on Friday! We played games, ate a great meal, and went outside and sang Christmas carols! He also shared a super cool and deep message with us about the birth of the Savior from the first two chapters of the Book of Luke. It was a little strange celebrating Christmas on Black Friday, but it was still very special. I am going to try to summarize what the President spoke about with us and share it when we get closer to Christmas! 

This was of course highlighted by the baptism of Brandom! He is such an awesome kid! He reads all of the pamphlets we give him about the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then highlights them, and answers the questions we ask him perfectly! He is a super kid! I love spending time with him and his family! His stepdad has been inactive for 5 years but recently has been coming to church with us and it is a true joy to spend time with this family! 

We spent a lot of time talking about the Holy Ghost this week in preparation for the baptism! The scriptures tell us how important the Holy Ghost is. My favorite verse to share with the people here is in the Book of John, chapter 14, verse 26. 

It reads: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you". 

We know that the Holy Ghost has three primary functions, first to testify of Jesus Christ as our Savior.  The second, to help us understand what God wants us to learn, or teach us truth, and the third function is to sanctify us after we are baptized by the restored authority of God, so that we can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost for all of our lives.

I know that the Holy Ghost can be a super powerful influence in our lives! As a missionary, everything I do relies on the Holy Ghost and how he guides me! Always remember to be worthy and strive to feel the quiet impressions of the Holy Ghost in your life! I know that the work that I am doing right know is true and it was an absolute joy helping a son of our Heavenly Father gain the remission of his sins and also receive the Holy Ghost to be his guide for the rest of his life! 

I hope Thanksgiving was enjoyable! This may be my last week in Piedras so I am going to live it up! 

All is well, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 22

Old space heater and dust allergies...poor guy.  Notice the calendar of the Pope on the wall.  I guess they were out of 2015 President Monson calendars!

A truck!!
 On a split with Elder Wheeler from Draper, Utah

In the macroplaza with an eagle!  Go Eagles!

Dear Family and Friends,

This was another good week here in Piedras Negras! Now that we are approaching the Holiday season and December, it has gotten really cold here! Also, since Mexico doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, it feels like Christmas started even sooner. Many of the Mexican houses put up their Christmas decorations a couple of weeks ago! In the grocery store as well, we listen to Christmas music all the time, in English! It's a real treat. The Mission President is also coming up from Saltillo this week and we are having our Christmas celebration this Friday! In November! It's a little strange that we are celebrating so early but I am so excited! There will be 30 missionaries and we are going to have a lot of fun! 

This week, we had a lot of great lessons and once again focused on enduring to the end.  I want to share a scripture from the Book of Mormon that I shared in a couple lessons last week and what Enduring to the End means for me. 

In 2nd Nephi, chapter, 31, verse 20 it reads, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold thus saith the Father, Ye shall have eternal life. 

I want to highlight a couple of parts of this verse. First, having a perfect brightness of hope means that we need to have faith in Jesus Christ and in his Atonement. We need to have a firm belief that he loves us and that we can be clean from sin, as long as we act upon our faith. 

Second, this verse says that we should feast upon the word of Christ. This can mean many things. However, I mentioned to a family that we should be diligent in our study of the scriptures and study the words of the living prophets as well to receive guidance in our lives. 

Also, we must have love for God and for all men. I mentioned that one way we can show love to all men is by serving others. There are countless opportunities to serve others!  Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities to serve.   Laboring to better the lives of others is the key to finding happiness. 

Finally, if we do these things, and obey the commandments, our Heavenly Father offers us the greatest reward that we could ever seek to obtain, Eternal Life.  Eternal life means that one day, you and I will have the opportunity to live in a state of happiness and joy, with God, our Savior, and our families. Enduring to the end, and living according to the will of God is definitely worth it, in order to receive this reward. 

I would encourage all of you to continue doing to the little things, and if there is something in your live you want to achieve or improve, set a realistic goal, and work everyday to achieve it. 

I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord! Tomorrow marks 5 months on the mission and it is incredible to look back at all I have learned in 5 months. I eagerly anticipate the next 19 :) I know that what I am doing is true and that the Savior loves each one of us! 

Enjoy Thanksgiving this week!
Elder Shipley 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 21

 Walking on top of the area
 Jeff and his companion
Jeff, his companion and the the awesome Med Student who lives near.
Read the Book of Mormon...

Dear Family and Friends, 

I finished another great week here in Piedras Negras! We had lots of great lessons and some cool moments. This week, we talked a lot about Enduring to the End. But first, I want to share a few of the funny moments that I had this week. 

1. On Wednesday night, I ate chicken neck for the first time..... I honestly was not a big fan. 
2. On Saturday, we had a house disappear on us. My companion and I walked the same street 4 times, made sure that it was the right street, and still couldn't find the house where we had a teaching appointment. I am still totally confused how we lost a house and an appointment. It's like the house just disappeared.

On Sunday, I taught Elders Quorum, because the teacher didn't show up, and I also taught Gospel Principles with another Elder from Arizona. It was super cool to see how far I have come the past 3.5 months here in Piedras Negras! 

Tomorrow, we have splits, and I am going to be working with Elder Wheeler from Utah. He just left the MTC two weeks ago so he doesn't understand many people. He is still training too so I get to be a trainer for the day!!! I am so excited!

I am doing really well! Lots of lessons and my Spanish has really improved a lot this transfer. We are going to see how good I really am tomorrow! I love the mission and the work I am doing here! The Gospel is true and Jesus loves us! 

All the best,
Elder Shipley 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 20

 Elder Shipley might have to move to Montana when he comes home to be with horses!
A view of Piedras Negras

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was filled with ups and downs here in Piedras Negras but overall Elder Vielma and I are doing very well! It got cold here, very rapidly. On Monday it was 85 and gorgeous! By Wednesday, it was 40 and raining and I was covered with mud and soaking wet. I also felt sick for most of the week, however, I never let my headache and desire to vomit get in the way of the work. Oh well, that is how the mission is right! No one said it would be easy, they only said it would be worth it. 

This week, most of our teaching appointments fell through. It was actually pretty discouraging by Thursday when we planned for the week. However, we found an inactive member who hasn’t gone to church in 6 years and had a lesson with him and his family. 

The lesson went okay and I was nervous for his answer when we asked him when we can return and teach them again. His response was an absolute miracle! He told us that he wanted us to return the next day and also that he wants his wife and son to be baptized! Elder Vielma and I are so excited to teach this family and hope they can be ready to be baptized in November or December! 

This Saturday, we had an absolutely incredible Family Home Evening with a couple of families in the ward. There were 15 people there, including my companion and me. I was able to share my thoughts about what it means to have a Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit. 

This topic comes up frequently while we attend church and read in the scriptures, but I think many times we don’t understand what it really means to have a Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit. I was able to do my research and came up with 3 essential aspects that every one needs to have and develop, in order to have a broken heart and contrite spirit. 

First, we have to be willing, and consistently make the effort to develop Christ like attributes, such as, humility, hope, faith, charity, love, virtue, knowledge, diligence, patience, and obedience. 
Second, we need to feel a deep sorrow for sin and a sincere desire to repent when we commit errors. 
Third, we have to be humble and receptive to the will of God and to the counsel of those He has called to lead His Church. 

I shared these 3 aspects of a person with broken heart and contrite spirit, and then shared Luke , chapter 22, verse 42, which talks about our Saviors suffering for our sins, pains, afflictions, sorrows, and difficulties, in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

In this verse Christ is speaking, and says, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me, nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done. 

This verse has always really hit home deep into my heart. Our Savior is the ultimate example of a Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit. Concerning the three aspects, He of course, had developed all of the attributes mentioned above, perfectly and without lacking. We know that he lived a life free of sin; yet, he still was willing to feel the incomprehensible sorrow of our sins and sorrows. 

Yet, I think the third aspect, the fact that even our Savior was willing to accept the will of God, is what most impresses me. The Atonement of Jesus Christ was incredible, something that even the Son of God did not want to have to endure. He asked, remove this cup from me. He could have stopped and not atoned for us, yet he endured, and later rose from the grave 3 days later. For this, I am grateful, for this I am in Mexico serving the Lord. 

I encourage you all to strive to develop the 3 aspects mentioned above and become more like our Savior! Because he loves us!

All the best,
Elder Shipley 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 19

At the home of Hermano Alanis, where Jeff and his companion eat dinner every Sunday!
 Another horse picture...
Elder Shipley and Elder Vielma

Dear Family and Friends, 

This will be a very short letter which is sad because a lot happened this week! The reason that this letter is short is because we had problems with the cyber cafe, and they are closing 30 minutes earlier than I expected.

My new companion is Elder Vielma, from Chihuahua, Mexico and we are working very hard! We had a lot of success this week and found 20 new people to teach and invited all of them to church! Unfortunately, only 2 came so we are going to work on that! I am still in Piedras Negras, Mexico, at least until December 6th. The work is good! 

I hope Halloween went well for everyone! 

Thank you for all of your love and support!

Elder Shipley 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 18

Dear Family and Friends,
This was an absolutely incredible week!  We celebrated the last mission week of my companion, and past Assistant to the President, Elder Alcala. We had a lot of great experiences and success. He taught me so much! It was really hard to see him go but I know that Elder Vielma, who arrives from Monclova tomorow, is going to teach me even more and help me progress as a missionary!
The focus of this week was preparing Hermana Cinthia to be baptized this past Saturday, October 24th! And even though there were Hurricane warnings, another flood (this one was smaller though!), and the fact that the baptismal font in my chapel would not fill, we were able to endure to the end and helped Cinthia enter the waters of baptism!
It was such a special experience and I had the opportunity to baptize my first person here in Mexico! The members of our ward told us all week that we should be careful because Hurricane Patricia would roll through and we were so nervous that it was going to prevent the baptismal service from taking place but all went well because we had faith in the Lord!
I was very grateful for the opportunity to share the Gospel with this wonderful young mother, only 21, and help her join the church and enjoy all of the blessings that our Loving Father in Heaven joyfully offers us! I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve. Everyday, I learn countless things.
I am grateful for the chance to stay here in Piedras Negras for this transfer and continue teaching this sister to help her strengthen her testimony! Thank you for your love and support! It's crazy that I just finished my in field training and 4 months on the mission! I am officially no longer a new missionary!
All the best, 
Elder Shipley  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 17

Jeff called this a "sick ride" in Piedras!
Jeff rocking the cowboy hat!

Dear Family and Friends, 

This was an absolutely incredible week here in Piedras Negras! We are loving the weather now! It gets down to about 60 in the morning and 85 in the afternoon! 

The kid in the picture is a 13 years old and is super special to me. He lives in the poorest area and is a convert of one year to the church. His parents aren't members, his mom supports him, his dad does not. They didn't even have money to take the bus to church on Sunday and the ward has to help him out. However, he has such a sweet spirit, so pure. I am literally tearing up as I write this just thinking about him! He works super hard and helps his mom, even though his mom is kinda mean/abusive.... and he wants to save enough money to go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. Since the temple is 9 hours away by bus, he thinks it will take 2 years to save enough money.  He also wants to serve a mission someday.  It is literally a pleasure to teach this kid. Super kind, sweet boy, who is always excited to see me and talk about the gospel. 

This week was a very different for me. We had a zone conference on Wednesday and my mission president drove 8 hours north to reach my zone. It's crazy how big my mission is! The zone conference was incredible and I learned so much! I am going to share a shortened version of what my President taught me about faith a little later in this email. 

On Wednesday, we had splits, which means my companion, Elder Alcala went to another area and spent the day with Elder Moreno, and my district leader, Elder Miller from Grand Junction, Colorado, spent the day with me in my area! It went so well! Since he didn't know any of the investigators or contacts or how to navigate the area, I basically acted like a senior companion for the day! I decided where to go and what to do and what to teach! I think it went super well and was very confident with my teaching and Spanish. It was honestly a grand pleasure to spend an entire day with another American, but it is safe to say that my Spanish did not improve after talking about college football in the streets all day :) 

I spent my Saturday in the hospital. Before my mother freaks out and calls my mission president, let me explain. My companion had to go to the hospital because he cut his hand on a rusty door on Friday afternoon, so we had to get it treated the next day because there was discoloration on his hand. 

My experience in the hospital taught me a great life lesson and I have set a new "life goal". My new life goal is to never visit a Mexican hospital again. Not because the level of care or equipment was inadequate or bad, because it was just fine. They had most everything you would find in an average hospital. The reason I never want to return is because we spent 4 hours navigating the bureaucracy of the hospital and I was so lost with my Spanish. We had to go between the ER, pharmacy, administration offices, front desk.... it was awful and I just followed my companion around as his hand gradually turned more white/purple. Nobody could tell us, where to go or what to do. It was quite the morning. 

Now I want to share a brief summary of what my President shared with me during our Zone conference. My mission president began with a question: what is the first principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of us answered his question and responded, Faith in Jesus Christ. However, there where others that only said, faith. He then asked, what is the difference between "faith", and "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ". 

We know from Alma 32:21, that faith is "not to have a perfect knowledge of things, therefore if ye have faith, ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true"

However, my President went way deeper than that, of course, to examine the difference between faith and faith in Jesus Christ. He explained that faith is merely a belief in something or someone. To explain what Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is we turned to Hewbrews 11:1, which says, "Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things no seen"(King James Bible). 

Something super cool that I discovered last night when I was writing this thought was that the Spanish Bible that I use every day, the Reina-Valera 2008, uses the words "certainty" instead of "substance", and "conviction" instead of "evidence".  It's crazy how just two words makes this verse SO much stronger in Spanish! 

The President explained that Faith in our Savior Jesus Christ is the CERTAINTY that He really exists. That he really loves us. That he is really there for us no matter what. That He wants the best for us. We trust him and know that He will comfort us. Also, the word certainty is much stronger that evidence, and conviction is something that you won't turn back on. Convictino that Jesus Christ is our Savior is something that is an integral part of who I am! 

Later, he explained the way that we can apply our faith to achieve our goals or solve problems and I want to share his thoughts. 

We know that achieving an end goal such as strengthening your marriage or relationships within your family, developing more family harmony,  increasing your desire to share the gospel, or strengthening your testimony, etc. starts with a desire and with a hope.  A firm hope that you can achieve your goal/s. 

Imagine that you have your hope in your left hand and your goal in your right, how are you going to get from your hope to your goal? My President taught us that we have to work to grow our testimonies, our relationships in our family, and our desires to share the gospel. But how? What should we do? 

He directed us to Alma 32:41, "which says, but if ye will nourish the word, yea nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith, with great DILIGENCE, and with PATIENCE, looking forward to the fruit therof, it shall be a tree, springing up unto everlasting life. 

We need to have diligence and patience to achieve our goals. Something I have definitely learned during my first 3 months in the field. If you want to achieve your goal, be diligent, work constantly and bravely, never let a day go by without improving something in yourself that will enable you to achieve your goal. Patience is definitely the Christ-like attribute I have developed most on my mission. Be calm while suffering and have the capacity to bear afflictions, especially things that are out of your control. 

We put these principles into practice this weekend with out investigator, Cyntia Mozerat. Cyntia currently has a baptismal date for this Saturday, the 24th of October. However, in order to teach her, Elder Alcala and I have to take a taxi and leave our area (long story not going to share why). On Friday, Cyntia wasn't home even though we had an appointment and confimed with her before we went. We were so sad! We need to teach her all of the lessons in order to prepare her for baptism. 

My companion told me on Friday night, that we were going to fast with the hope that she would be availiable Saturday and Sunday so that she can go to church. I was a little reluctant because we had already fasted twice during the month of October but I finally agreed. 

Saturday came, we took a taxi at noon. We knocked on her door for 30 minutes. Called her. Called her mom. We did everything we could. I was so sad! How were we going to teach her the Gospel if she wasn't home. We returned to our area, taught a couple of lessons, and ate with a member. 

My companion decided that we were going to once again, take a taxi there and back, our 5th and 6th taxi ride of the day, (remember that we were in the hospital all morning that same day....) because we had the CERTAIN HOPE that she would be there. We trusted that the Lord would help us achieve our goals because we were being diligent and patient. 

We arrived at 3:30. knocked on her door, and she still wasn't home. We were devastated. After an hour of waiting for her, without her arriving, we decided to call it and returned to our area. I, now thoroughly hungry, was frustrated.

However, at 10:00pm, as we were preparing for bed on Saturday night, we received a phone call, from none other than Cyntia! She told us that she was sorry that she wasn't home and wanted to know when we would pass by her house to pick her up in the morning for church! She also expressed her desire to keep the baptismal date for next Saturday! We were ecstatic! 

I learned a great lesson of faith on Saturday, we started with a firm hope that Cyntia would be in her house on Saturday, however, we were wrong. She wasn't there and we ended up losing hours knocking on her door. Yet, the Lord answered our prayers and she ended up coming to church and we achieved our goal of getting her to church! I'll let you know next Monday if she chooses to follow through with her baptism and achieve another goal!

Thank you for your love and support! Elder Alcala finishes his mission next week with me as well next week so I will let you know who my new companion is!

Elder Shipley 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 16

 The Rain Begins

 More Rain
 The "flood"
The Grocery Store!

The sink

Dear family and friends,

This week was another incredible week here in Piedras Negras, Mexico! I am doing really well and continuing to learn a lot! 

I hate to be that guy who is always talking about the weather here, but I think it is totally warranted! The weather here is incredibly unique! On Tuesday, it was 100 degrees, in October!!  It doesn't matter how much sunscreen I apply, I still come home red every night. Then on Thursday, we had a flood! The next day, all of the locals here were sweeping out all of the mud, water, and garbage out of their houses. We offered to help as many as we could but only one of them accepted our help. In fact, we are going to help later this afternoon. There was 6 inches of water in the house of our bishop and in certain rooms of our own house, there was 2 inches of water. Then yesterday, it was 100 degrees again. What can you do...

Update on investigators:

I am going to do a better job on updating everyone with the actual people I teach. This week, a young mother, named Cyntia, recently seperated from her boyfriend and moved in with her mom. We had a lesson with her on Saturday and she wants to get baptized! Elder Alcala, my companion, finishes his mission in 2 weeks so she agreed that the 24th of October would be a good day for her to get baptized! The last Saturday of Elder Alcalá's mission! I really hope it happens! 

I want to share a lesson on the Law of Sacrifice that my companion taught me, which we later shared during a Family Home Evening Lesson with a family from the ward. We taught them that there are three fundamental principles of the law of sacrifice and read scriptures to explain them. Feel free to look up the Old Testament references and read.   I won't take the time to write them.

1. A sacrifice has to cost: Genesis 4, Moses 5:18
2. We can't sacrifice what we want to sacrifice, rather, we have to sacrifice what God asks of us:   2 Samuel 17-25 
3. We are asked to sacrifice all that we have. For this principle, we shared Mark 12: 42-44 which state:
  • 42. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 
  • 43. And He called (Jesus) and saith unto them, verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury.
  • 44. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in ALL THAT SHE HAD, even all her living. 

I was really impressed with the story and how my companion taught that it is easy to give that which you have in abundance, however, to give that which you have little of is a true sacrifice. The Old woman gave all that she had to the Lord even though it was basically worth nothing in the eyes of men.  It was worth everything in the eyes of God. 

Thank you for your love and prayers! I miss you all and hope you are all doing well! 

All the best!
Elder Shipley