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