Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 14

 Jeff's house!  It's Sea Hawks green!  The car isn't his! :)
 A ward member lives near by and is going to med school in Mexico.  Jeff and his companion are good practice patients on their way home.
 A Sunday morning in Piedras Negras with Elder Alcala.

Dear Family and friends, 

This week I will hit the 2 months mark here in Piedras Negras! Super crazy! I will also hit 100 days on the mission! Triple digits! Everyone was right; the mission does go by fast. I truly have learned a ton though. This week was really good! I absolutely love my companion, Elder Alcala; his 23 months of experience are helping me become the best missionary I can be.  My last companion taught me how to clean with Clorox, how to iron well and he taught me a TON of doctrine from the bible.  Elder Alcala teaches me how to simply teach people to understand. Teaching is so fun with Elder Alcala! 

I am doing really really well with the language. Seriously, I feel really encouraged. I just try to soak up as much as I can from Elder Alcala because he was just the Assistant to the mission president and is going home in 4 weeks! It's crazy! We have a couple of investigators with baptismal dates and we reactivated a inactive family of 7 this week.  They came to church yesterday and the spirit was so strong there! 

I am super excited for General Conference this upcoming weekend! I would encourage you all to watch as many sessions as you can and bring a list of questions or difficulties you may have and try to listen for answers to your questions. I know that if pray for personal revelation, with true and sincere desire, the Holy Ghost will guide us and help us receive the answers we need. We also have a special chance to see 3 new Apostles be called! I have a strong testimony of continuous revelation between Prophets and God in these latter days. I hope you all take advantage of the chance to listen to the guidance we need in our lives. 


Elder Shipley

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 13

 Another shot of the Rio Grande
New companion with neighborhood horses? 
Walking the roads
Home Sweet Home!

Dear Family and Friends,

This was the first week of my second transfer in the field and it went really well! My new companion, who will also finish my training, is named Elder Alcala. He is from Mexicali, Mexico, and has 23 months on the mission. Elder Alcala will finish his mission in 5 weeks with me here in Piedras Negras so I plan on learning a lot from him. 

It is still very hot here, my favorite thing to say to the natives is that the "Canicula nunca se fue", basically, the 100 degree weather every day never left. What does a poor 19 year old kid from Seattle have to do to get some Seattle rain down here! It's ok though! I have adjusted and am really excited for the fall here. 

Elder Alcala just finished 3 months as the Assistant to the President, and thus is a fantastic missionary. He keeps every rule and works very hard. He is very different from my first companion, but I have adapted and now use the techniques from both during my teaching. We have found a couple of families who are really interested in coming to church and learning more about the gospel so I hope we have lots of success this week! 

I would like to share one of my favorite scriptures before I go, In Matthew 16:25, it says, "For whosever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life, for my sake, shall find it". 

I love this scripture! I feel like it totally embodies missionary work since we are literally serving the Lord 24/7. However, it is just as important for non-missionaries because only through Christ, keeping all of his commandments, and serving others with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength, can we have the fulness of joy that each of us desires! I have a very strong testimony of of our Savior, the Gospel, and when we put the Savior first in our lives, everything else works out for the best.

Thank you for your support! Have a great week!
All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 12

 First District
Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for the continued love and support while I forward the work of the Lord here in Piedras Negras! Today is a strange day for me! I just finished my first transfer or first 6 weeks in the field! I'm not going to say it flew by, because it didn't. In fact, it was probably one of the hardest periods of my life, but in a different way, also one of the easiest. Let me explain and reflect a little on my first 6 weeks in the field. 

When I arrived in Piedras Negras, I arrived at 5 AM by bus. When my companion and I got off of the bus it was 100 degrees in the bus station. By 1pm, it was 118 degrees farenheit outside. Remember that missionaries are suppossed to be outside all day preaching the gospel so it was a very difficult time physically. I was not used to that kind of heat. Too be very honest, I don't really remember much about the first 2 weeks. I think it was honestly so hot that it impaired my memory.  

Since then, my Spanish has improved rapidly, it has gotten a lot cooler and my companion and I really started to click. I'm not going to say that it was always easy, at times, it was very difficult, but I learned so much from him and will never forget my first 6 weeks here. 

I have learned the importance of patience. Never in my life, have I had to be so patient. However, the past 6 weeks have also been some of the easiest because all I do, everyday, is walk around and talk to people about Jesus Christ! How cool is that! And in Spanish! I don't have to worry about school, grades, money, how my favorite football teams are doing.... I have one of the most unique opportunites in the world to share what I know with the people here. And I know that the Gospel is true and that Christ is our Savior. God is our Father and loves us more than we can imagine. Really, at it's core, a mission is very easy. I have the incredibnle opportunity to share the gospel every day, and I love it. 

I hope you are all doing well! Thank you for the updates on your lives! 
Elder Shipley

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 11

Dear Family and Friends, 

This was a pretty tough week here in Piedras Negras. The heat returned and my companion and I had to walk 14 kilometers or more, every day. We did have some spiritual lessons and my Spanish is improving everyday. This post will be shorter than last week, don't worry :) however, I hope you all had the chance to read the story of Elder Suarez. It truly is an inspiring story and can brighten any day. 

Non-spiritual thoughts:

When I was in the MTC in Mexico City, my Mexican teachers told me that there would be many people who would attempt to speak English with me, since I am serving right at the border. I am literally as close to America as humanly possible without entering my own country.  During the first month here, I had very few people talk in English with me. However, that totally changed this week. On four separate occasions, people started talking to me in English.  One of the English Speaking Mexicans started talking to me about NFL football and I want to declare my picks for the Super Bowl. I am going to pick my beloved Seattle Seahawks to win the super bowl, 32-24, over the New England Patriots. I feel like a rematch would be very appropriate. By the way, feel free to send me football updates if you feel so inclined. I would love to get more football updates :) 

Now, spiritual thoughts: 

I want to share an experience I had this week and a message that I really liked. This past Friday night, my companion and I were walking the streets, trying to get to our next appointment when a man walked up to us and said, in almost perfect English, "you guys are missionaries right". We of course responded "yes". He then said, "I have been looking for guys like you to help me find God and improve my life". My comp at this point was pretty lost in the English so I had to take over and it was such a cool experience. As a missionary, I was of course thrilled! "Yes! This guy WANTS to talk to us and change his life! He then imparted his life story to me and I will summarize. 

He explained, my life has been really bad. I was born here in Mexico, lived in San Antonio Texas for 30 years. However, over the past 5 years, my wife has left me, my parents died, my kids don't talk to me anymore, I was deported by the US government back to Mexico, so I lost my job, and even decided to attempt suicide twice (but didn't follow through). 

I was like, wow. That's tough. At this point, I'm not even trying to speak Spanish because I have no idea how to console and respond to that story in Spanish. I just shared my testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ and the love that he has for all of us. Even when life is tough, and this man has endured more than I can even imagine, the Savior is there for us. We didn't have a lot of time to share a complete message but I think a pure testimony of Christ and his atonement hopefully offered him hope and consolement and later this week we have the opportunity to visit this man again and hopefully help him make God and Jesus Christ a part of his life. 

I read a poem that was written on a sign and want to share it because I think it has a short but powerful message. First in Spanish and I will translate it:

Donde hay Fe, hay Amor
Donde hay Amor, hay Paz
Donde hay Paz, esta Dios
Donde esta Dios, 
No falta Nada 

Where there is faith, there is love
Where there is love, there is peace,
Where there is peace, God is there 
Where God is, 
Nothing is missing (personally, I prefer, you have everything but nothing is missing works too) 

I love this short poem. It is very simple, but offers me a lot of comfort. Just like it says in 1 John, that love is God. Brothers and sisters, this life is very complicated and complex, yet deep down, very simple. Have Faith in God, because he is Love. Where there is love, there is peace, Where there is peace, Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are with us and when they are with us we can do anything. I know this to be true! When we have faith, a firm hope that God exists and that each of us has a unique purpose, a divine purpose, we have everything. 

Love you all! Have a great week! 
Elder Shipley