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