Monday, January 11, 2016

Week 29

"We had splits with my bud Elder Garcia from Mexico City on Tuesday"
"It was so sunny this week, we went back to short sleeves!"
 "Out walking the streets in our area"
Elder Holmes falls off his chair while studying! 
"A picture of me with my boys Juan and Brian. They are awesome boys!"
"Here Elder Holmes is looking very happy as a missionary..... I laugh so hard when I see this! Mission life is so hard but very happy :)"

(No Subject)

Dear Family and Friends, 

Wow, I wish I had like another hour to write a longer update but unfortunately, I don't have that time so I hope this turns out well!

This week was filled with laughter. I don't think I have ever laughed so much in the same week. Elder Holmes and I are either teaching a lesson with someone or having a good time! Here are a few funny moments from this week: 

1. There was as lot of trash talking this week about the Seahawks-Vikings game. I of course, was defending the Seahawks and my companion sided with the Vikings. It was very strange to be talking trash in Spanish, because we are still only speaking Spanish but man, GOOO HAWKS! 

2. My companion told me, "You never stop singing!"  When he told me that he has never met someone who sings as much as me I was cracking up. He told me that I am always singing Primary songs, church hymns, or other songs that Elder Suarez left me on my Ipod. Occasionally, I return to the old life and start singing songs by Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, or Kesha, and I have to remind myself that Tik Tok is not a song missionaries should be singing in the streets.  :)

3. Elder Holmes fell out of his chair when he was studying. 

Many many many other things happened this week but it is missionary humor and if I explained it, it probably wouldn't be funny to anyone else. 

This week was filled with rejection, not going to lie. Elder Holmes and I have to find some new investigators this upcoming week!  Saturday and Sunday night were really interesting though. 

On Sunday, Elder Holmes and I visited three part member families. When I say part member families, it means that some of the members of the family are baptized and attend church every Sunday, others are listening to the missionaries and attend church every once in a while and the rest like to give us carne asada :) 

It was really interesting to see how these three families were doing because each is facing a very significant but difficult trial within their family. One family has a very close relative who is in a coma and is very close to passing away. Another, has a young teenager who is in middle school facing a group of friends that pressures him to smoke cigarettes and marijuana. The last is battling complex family and marital stress which threaten to separate the family. 

As a missionary, it is really hard to see the people that you care about suffer and endure these trials. As a full time missionary, you try not to spend time thinking about pursuing your future education, work, jobs, money, your past or future dating life, music, sports, and even your family. Thus, you spend all your time thinking about the people you are teaching, the people you are visiting and what they need. 

You spend all of your time designing lesson plans, searching the scriptures, praying for other people to help them come unto Christ, and thus never have time for to think about yourself because these people become part of your family. Their problems become your problems, and their worries become your worries, and their goals become your goals. 

Of course, I am not going to get directly involved in the marriages of other people and attempt to solve them.  I am 19 years old and still battle to understand the unreal amount of slang and street words that the people use here, but it is my job to invite all to come unto Christ and receive the blessings that he has promised us. 

These three families are struggling right now, but another family showed me how important the gospel is and how coming unto Christ can strengthen, help, and even save a family. When we center our home, families, and lives in Christ, he can help us face the temptation, family discord, and moments of sorrow that each families endures at one point or another. 

The infinite atonement of Christ is the power that allows us to overcome our sins and to find refuge in a tumultuous world. Remember that he suffered everything for each one of us. Something that we can never pay back.  This other family, that we spent time with on Saturday showed me how the Atonement and the Gospel is helping to strengthen their family so that one day they can be an eternal family and obtain eternal life!   The mother is a member, the daughter is member, the dad is investigating the church and their boy is going to be baptized soon. When I arrived in August, this man was always at church and always participated in the classes and asked great questions. We were visiting him and then in September, he frankly disappeared. I wasn't sure why. He didn't go to church and he was never home when we went to visit him. However, a few weeks ago Elder Holmes and I began meeting with him again. There has truly been a remarkable change in him. 

After a few chats with him, it was clear that he wanted to get baptized but there was something that was holding him back. During the course of the conversation, my companion asked how each member of the family was feeling about the church right now. Each person said nice things but the daughter of this family revealed the desires of her heart. Quite plainly, but perhaps one of the most sincere comments I have ever had the privilege of hearing.  She said, "I want to be an Eternal Family". 

About 5 minutes later, this brother agreed to be baptized and we have a goal date for February. I don't know if I will still be here in Piedras Negras in February, but I do know that this family is desires and is willing to walk the path that leads to eternal life as an Eternal Family. 

I urge all of us to center our families, homes, and lives more on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and promise that if you do so, you will receive the strength that you need to face the trials that we all encounter. Someday each of us can receive Eternal life and live with our families for forever, if we do the little things like pray and read the scriptures every day.  I know that Christ is our Savior and that missionary work is the most difficult, satisfying, and important work on the Earth. 

Elder Shipley 

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