Monday, January 4, 2016

Week 28

How Jeff felt on New Years Eve before he went to dinner with Vielma Family 
 Ahhhhh....poor guy...then....
Yay!  Dinner with the Vielma's!  So much better after the hamburger and good company! 
 Another Christmas...a new sweater, the family Christmas card and snacks arrive.
 Saying good bye to the 2015 "Pope" calendar and hello to the 2016 Minnesota Vikings calendar!
A rainy day in Piedras Negras!

Dear Family and Friends,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! 2016!!! Wow!  It's a little strange to think that I was in my house a year ago for Christmas and New Years, returned to BYU for a semester and have spent the second half of the year in Mexico! This year, I will be spending the entire year in Mexico! What a cool and strange thought that is! 

This week was fairly wet and cold, but we had some great experiences. I want to share two experiences I had this week and some of my personal goals that I have for the year 2016! My year as a missionary! 

New Years Eve was fun this year, unfortunately, there were no dance parties, Kesha or Katy Perry to listen to, but Elder Holmes and I still had a good time with the Vielma family and were very grateful that they invited us over to eat hamburgers and spend New Year's Eve with them. New Year's Day was a very sad day.   It was wet and cold, and I didn't watch ANY FOOTBALL! But from what I have heard sounds like a lot of the bowl games were disappointing. I will be a big fan of the Clemson Tigers this upcoming week in preparation for the National Championship Game that I will not be watching. 

This past Saturday night, we had a really great lesson with an investigator who is attempting to quit smoking and wants to get baptized. He currently lives with his wife.  They have lived together for 5 years, but aren't technically married. In order to get baptized, you have to live the law of chastity so he has to marry his wife. During this lesson, I explained all of the blessings that he could receive if he gets married, baptized, and then a year from now go with his wife to the temple to be married for time and all eternity. The belief that families can be together forever is one of the most beautiful things about the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

After I explained the blessings that he and his family will enjoy, I asked him if he would do everything possible to get married this week so he can be baptized soon. His response was a little uncertain. I then asked him why he was waiting to receive these blessings? Our loving Heavenly Father wants to bless you, and the blessings are wonderful and amazing. His response was, well yea, you're right, let's make it happen. So, today in fact, Elder Holmes and I, and the couple that want to get married, are going to a visit a Mexican government building here and figure out how to get married in Mexico!  Should be a good time. 

This past Sunday, we had testimony meeting in our church. Just to make sure everyone knows what that is, it means that once a month, every member of the congregation has the option, if they desire, to share their firm beliefs or testimony with the congregation. We brought an investigator with us to church and it was his first time attending with us. In fact, it was his first time attending any church  anytime in his life! I shared my testimony, which is always an adventure in Spanish because you never know what words are going to come out of your mouth. Then my investigator, who had NEVER gone to any church of any kind, got up, in front of over 100 people, and bore his testimony!! He talked about how much Christ loved him and that he loved reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and that he was very thankful that my companion and I have been teaching him. 

My jaw dropped and I could not believe what I was seeing. We had been working with this man, trying to convince him to come to church for weeks. We promised the blessings of the sacrament that are found in the Bible and in 3rd Nephi 18, we talked about the Sabbath day and how important it was that we go to church.  He told us he probably wouldn't come..... but he finally came. I was amazed, surprised, but most of all super happy! It was an incredible experience and I was so filled with joy for this man and the changes that he is experiencing in his life. 

Well, we are now in 2016, I wanted to share 5 goals I have for this year. 
1. Read the Book of Mormon and the New Testament in Spanish 
2. Read Jesus the Christ, all 500 or something pages, in English :)  
3. Certify/demonstrate that I have mastered all of the Principles/lessons in Preach My Gospel
4. Keep all of the mission rules with exactness
5. Work my hardest, every day, to bring souls unto Christ, and be willing to sacrifice my personal comfort for others when possible/appropriate. 

I love setting goals, that is something that my father has truly instilled in me. Every year as a family we spend an hour or so during a Family Home Evening setting goals as a family. I promise that if each of you set 5 realistic goals, that push you to strengthen yourself, physically, mentally, and spiritually, you will see great changes in your life that will bring joy and happiness. 

I would also encourage each of you to include your Father in Heaven in your goal setting process. Remember that He loves each one of us and that he only wants the best for us. If we pray to him with specific problems or concerns in mind, I promise that he will give us specific solutions and things we can do to become more like him. 

Thank you for all of your support! 
All the best and HAPPY 2016!
Elder Shipley 

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