Thursday, July 30, 2015

Week 5

 The Big Sleep Over!

The lone Saltillo Missionary in the District

Dear family and friends, 

This will be the last update you receive from me while I stay at the Missionary Training Center here in Mexico City. This coming Monday morning, I will be flying out of the Mexico City airport at 6AM and will land in Saltillo, Mexico, around 8AM. I can't believe how fast the time has gone here at the MTC (CCM). My MTC experience has provided me with ample opportunities to make friends I will have for the rest of my life and grow my testimony in ways I never imagined possible. 

This week, the director of all international MTC's came and visited and gave an incredible talk! He spoke all about the motivation of true missionary work and the infinite potential each of us has in the hands of the Lord to improve the lives of others. I loved it!  He came in and spent a day in our district and I had to teach with him watching!  

Also, there was an epidemic at the MTC this week. We had over 100 of the 400 missionaries here go down with sickness and miss class and teaching appointments. Vomiting, diahhrea, fever, chills, soreness, you name it, it hit. It was bad. The other two Elders in our district both went down and missed a day but luckily my companion and I were totally fine. We survived "La gran epidimia del CCM". We had an entire district of 8 elders go down in our zone. Now we are all good now!  One good repercussion of the epidemic at the CCM was that we were able to have a big Casa 30 sleepover in our family room on Monday night! Since we had guys sick and throwing up in our Casa, we moved all of our mattresses into the family room, like 12 of us, and it was a blast. 

I am incredibly excited for the field! On Monday morning, I will say goodbye to all of my awesome American companions and will travel to my mission with 7 other Latinos. I will have no choice but to speak Spanish!

I know next week will be one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I probably won't understand the half of things that people say to me but I know that if I stay patient, humble, and pray to have the spirit with me, I will understand the things that I will need to understand to spread the wonderful message of Jesus Christ and his infinite atonement. 

I don't know when I will be able to send another update or how long I will be able to write you individually next week in the field, but I do really appreciate all your letters and eagerly anticipate the next opportunity to talk with you again. 

Elder Shipley 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Week 4

Dear Friends, 

I just finished my 4th week on my mission! I have been gone for a month! It's crazy how at times it has seemed to drag on and at other times it seems to fly by. Thank you for your many emails this week. I really do appreciate hearing from home and staying in touch. This week was so funny. I was laughing so hard most of the time. 

For the first time in my life, a bird pooped on me. I was just outside with my district of a few other missionaries and then everyone started to laugh at me (good naturedly of course) and I didn't understand. Some bird had just flown by while I was practing my Spanish and just let it fly and nailed me. It  was terrible. I had to go home and change my shirt and worked all night to clean it. Luckily, it came out and my shirt is still white! 

Also, my compainion, Elder Stockard, and I have become over the last week basically  Legends of the MTC. It all started a couple weeks ago when we started translating "Blank Space" by Taylor Swift from English to Spanish purely from memory during a language study time. It was actually pretty productive beacuase I learned many new Spanish words. We ended up translating much of the song and performed it for our district! Our district loved it, especially the three girls that are there. We did it purely for fun and to change up the routine a bit but then the last few days I guess our Hermanas told other Hermanans and other Elders and now the two of us perform Blank Space in Spanish 2 or 3 times a meal. It's becoming hard to find time to eat! Everyone loves it and it's all in good fun so we really enjoy doing it. People I have never talked to before now refer to us as the "Blank Space Boys" , I just shake my head and laugh. It's nice to have fun in the MTC. 

We have a new cafeteria, a new classroom, and lots of new missonaries. Come Monday, we will be the big men on campus! There is only one generation older than us now and it's really great! It's almost like the same feeling you have as a senior in high school when you truly know the ropes of the MTC and can help other people around and everyone looks up to you and asks when you are leaving. It's a lot better than being the new guy I can assure you. 

Today we got to go to the temple visitors center here in Mexico City and it was wonderful. We would have been able to visit the temple but unfortunately it is closed for cleaning and repairs. The visitor's center there is the best I have ever been to. Hands down. It is beautiful and incredibly well made. It was so nice to be able to leave the CCM again. It's crazy to think, that the next time I leave, it'll be for good and I'll be on my way to Satillo! Speaking of Saltillo, I am now longer alone! I HAVE FRIENDS! On Sunday and Monday about half a dozen Latino Missionaries showed up at the MTC and they are all going to serve in Saltillo with me! They will be traveling with me next Monday so I feel much better now and I am super excited to get to know them!

Before I conclude, I would like to share a short scripture in the Book of Luke, Chapter 6, verse 37. We had a fabulous lesson on Sunday about not judging others and completely fogiving others as Christ did. Here it is: "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged. Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned. Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven". I LOVE that scripture. Basically, if we don't judge, condemn, or hold grudges, Christ and God will do the same for us! I know that I need my Savior everyday and that he is such a wonderful postive influence and focus of my life. We can turn to him every day for strength to overcome our challenges. I hope you are all happy and well!

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Week 3

Dear Family and Friends, 

I just passed the halfway point in the MTC on Monday night and I am doing very well! Thank you for your prayers, support, and emails. I really enjoy reading about what's happening back home. Truthfully, this was a pretty tough week. I am still really happy and enjoying my time in the MTC!!  I am loving speaking Spanish and learning about our Savior Jesus Christ! 

First of all, I was playing soccer during my gym time on Saturday with a bunch of American Elders, and I banged up my right foot pretty bad. About halfway through the game, I attempted to make contact with the ball and shot right in front of the goal, but then another Elder who has never played soccer in his life swung his foot and our feet collided and my foot came out way worse.  I have been limping and pounding Tylenol since Saturday. However, don't worry, nothing is broken or sprained. I will soon be healed and back on the basketball court tearing it up with my companion Elder Stockard. 

This week was also hard because our evening teacher, who is fantastic by the way, but also demands a lot from us, informed my district that we were "Soló Español" missionaries for our last 25 days in the MTC. Soló Español means that I cannot speak English at all outside of my house, on Sundays, or on Thursday. So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, from 7:15 AM to 9:30 PM, I only speak Spanish. And for every word I speak in English, except to clarify things in class, I have to do a push up. I average about 120 pushups every day. It's tough. But honestly I am so grateful for it because I am discovering the words I don't know and need to learn to have an everyday conversation and I'll be only speaking Spanish come August 3rd so I might as well start now! I honestly love speaking Spanish too, I can't wait to go out to the field! 

Yesterday, we welcomed another batch of missionaries to the MTC. Every Wednesday we welcome new kids and it's always refreshing. One of the new sisters even asked me if I was a teacher here! It was one of the greatest compliments I have ever received. I quickly assured her that I wasn't, I guess she heard me talking with another teacher and thought I could speak Spanish. If she saw my lesson with a native of Mexico City last night then she definitely wouldn't have thought that because I probably understood half of what she said so I'll keep on practicing. 

The MTC is such a funny experience to me. It's amazing how uniformed I am of the outside world. For example, on Tuesday, a few Elders had their preparation day and read their emails and I guess one of their friends played a joke on him and said that Lebron James had gone back to the Heat after only one year in Cleveland. These couple of Elders proceeded to convince every Elder in the MTC that Lebron had indeed moved teams and even showed everyone the email to convince us. Basically, for the past 3 days, until now, I have believed that Lebron James moved to the Miami Heat. It's both a blessing because I can solely focus on my missionary training and on the Spanish language and also incredibly funny because false rumors about the outside world spread like wildfire. 

Anyway, all is well! I love the Gospel and love Jesus Christ. He truly did die for our sins and for that I am eternally grateful. Remember that this is a life of joy so find happiness in every moment. 

All the best,
Elder Shipley 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Week 2

Hello everyone! 

I hope you are all doing well! Today was the greatest day ever. It's day 16 and today was the first time I was able to leave the MTC and see the outside world. Mexico City is absolutely enormous. All of the kids in my generation that are staying in Mexico for their missions had to go to the immigration office in downtown Mexico City so we got to spend the day in Mexico City! My experience in the CCM is pretty good so far! I am so grateful for my companion. We totally connect super well and see eye to eye on pretty much everything. Our Spanish complements each other, sometimes he knows how to say things that I didn't learn and we play off each other really well in lessons. 

My Spanish is really coming along though! I leave 3 weeks from Monday and cannot wait. I try to talk to Latinos whenever I can! It's so nice when they compliment me on my Spanish it makes my day! 

My daily schedule is almost the same every day. Everyday it's just wake up at 6:30, breakfast, study scriptures, study Spanish, teach a progressing investigator (teacher pretending), Spanish, lunch, Spanish, Spanish, basketball, scriptures, dinner, practice teaching, teach, study. BED. I really like both of my teachers. They are both native Mexicans and really care about teaching us and making us better missionaries. 

I want to talk about my mission for a moment! I ask every single Latino, "Como es Saltillo?" Meaning how is Saltillo. They always say basically the same thing. Very few of them have ever actually been there. Those that have always say: Hay mucho carne. Meaning, there is lots of meat. hahaha it kills me every time. Basically I'm gonna be eating a cow a day in Saltillo. I also heard from one guy that it is a desert but has some green to it. The border towns are for sure the most vague. Nobody knows anything about them except for that they have a slightly different accent, apparently it is a little sing-songy. Also, there are cowboys and most of them say the towns are safe so that is good! Also, one thing that has been a source of uncertainty and also makes me feel special at the same time is that I am the ONLY MISSIONARY GOING TO SALTILLO. There are 18 other guys all going to the same mission, Ciudad Obregon that all arrived the same day I did. Like of the 300 missionaries here at the MTC, none are going to my mission. It doesn't make me that nervous and I'm incredibly excited for the field but it is just interesting. 

I am so grateful that I had a background in Spanish. In my life, there are few things I am more grateful for than that. It has been SO clutch. I have become way more impressed with what a mission actually is and now understand how meaningful they are. They are a lot of work. Parts of it are super tough but other times it is incredibly joyful, whether I am balling, playing piano, really feeling the spirit while teaching, or speaking good Spanish, these are the moments that make it worth it. 

The food is really good. They have American and Mexican food kinda rotating meals. They say it is so our stomachs can adjust. I haven't eaten the beans though.... it's going to be interesting. I eat all of the other Mexican food though and love it! The weather is so nice. Basically paradise. Always between 65 and 75 degrees. I'm always in a t-shirt. It usually rains though between 4 and 6pm though. And when I say rain, I mean it's a flash flood and we have to be like Noah and build an ark just to get to dinner. 

Anyway, all is well. Remember that this life is supposed to be joyful and the best way to have joy is to be serving others and serving our Heavenly Father!

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Week 1

Jeff's Farewell

                                                                                  Airport Farewell

                                                                             Companion in the MTC

Halo family and friends! 

I hope you are all doing well. Today is the very first P-day of my mission! I haven't had any contact with the outside world for 8 days so it was nice to hear about something that wasn't in Spanish. The last 8 days have been totally surreal and crazy. I absolutely love the CCM (MTC) here in Mexico City! The MTC is in the middle of the city and is always loud. Even late at night when I am trying to go to sleep we can hear Mexican music, dogs barking, and so many cars honking their horns. It´s a really pretty area though around us. 

Last Wednesday was probably the longest and most emotionally confusing day of my life. I woke up at 3:30 AM  and my family dropped me off at the airport around 5. I'll miss them a lot but I know I'll see them soon! The flight from Seattle to Salt Lake was quiet but then the flight from Salt lake to Mexico City was so much fun! There were like 60 missionaries on our plane and everyone was so excited to start our missions. I wasn't able to eat until I got the MTC at like 6pm and I was totally wide eyed. Everyone looked like they were so old. Especially the other Elders. Turns out, I was just crazy because I was in Mexico and hadn't eaten for 15 hours and only slept for 2 hours the past two days. Turns out I am actually older than most of the Elders down here because most of them are straight out of high school and graduated a few weeks ago. 

I love my companion! His name is Elder Stockard and he is from Reno, Nevada. He went to BYU this past year and even lived in the same building as I did, but we didn't know each other until we came to the MTC! He played basketball in high school so we tear up the court during gym time. It's a blast. The first few days were pretty long though with orientation meetings and trying to adjust to the schedule. Now though, I am really enjoying myself and totally enjoying
 the opportunity to learn Spanish and teach in Spanish. I said my first prayer in Spanish last Thursday, my first full day here! It's crazy. I pray in Spanish, read Spanish scriptures, talk in Spanish all day, study Spanish, and even think all the time in Spanish. It is truly immersive and I really love it now! 

 I can't wait to head out to the field on August 3rd! All of the Latinos here say they love Saltillo so I can't wait. I am so grateful for my Savior and the strength he gives me everyday. 

All the best,
Elder Shipley