Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 36

 In "Novasports"  Jeff found a seahawks hat!
 Jeff's Zone "Republica"
 A long 4 hour day of cleaning the church!
 William's family on his baptism day.
Cleaning out the brown and yellow water that came out of the facet in the font...yuck!
 Jeff is now a District Leader.  This is his district!
William's baptism

Dear Family and Friends, 

This was a super special week here in Saltillo! I finished my first transfer here with my hijo/son/trainee Elder Smith! I am very excited to be able to stay here for another 6 weeks and finish his training! I was a little worried last night that I was going to leave when one of the Assistants to the President called me to tell me I will have more responsibility next transfer, and he asked me if I would be sad to leave... but he was just joking and I will be staying in Saltillo!  I really love my ward and am excited for the next 6 weeks here. 

The highlight of this week was of course the BAPTISM on Saturday night! I am literally so grateful and feel extremely blessed to be able to help my trainee, Elder Smith, baptize in his first transfer here in Mexico. When I arrived here in my area, Corona, on January 18th, I was honestly very nervous. I showed up in my area, without a phone, without a map, with a dirty house, without a calendar of food, without investigators or a list of people I should visit.... It was looking like it was going to be a very tough first transfer for Elder Smith in the field. But little by little, we overcome the trials and challenges. Now, I look back on the past 6 weeks and can't believe all that we have accomplished! We were able to help William Rivas enter into the waters of baptism and open the door to eternal life with Our Father in Heaven! We also have plans to help other people make the decision to be baptized in the next 6 weeks! 

Perhaps, a moment even more special than a baptism was a lesson that Elder Smith and I had with William on Friday night, the night before his baptism. We taught him about the temple and how special of a place it is. He then asked me a question that I am never going to forget. He asked, 'In a couple of years, am I going to be an Elder/missionary like you guys too or do I have a choice?" I responded, of course you have a choice William, Our Heavenly Father gives us our free agency to choose whatever we want in life! The question you have to ask yourself is what path you want to follow. I then shared one of my favorite verses from the Doctrine and Covenants with him, In section 18 it reads:

15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance until this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! 
16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought until me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

I shared that missionary work is hard, sometimes, it seems impossible, but at the end of the day, the Lord promises us wonderful and marvelous blessings.  I think that one of the greatest is the joy that I feel everyday serving the Lord and helping others come unto Christ. I told him, that perhaps someday, he will remember this conversation, and I hope he does, because a mission truly allows you to change your life and make the lives of countless others better. And a life not lived for others, is not a life worth living. 

Have a great week, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week 35

At the Market Place in Saltillo 
 Music anyone?
 Historic Downtown Saltillo
 Cathedral in Downtown
 Elders Smith and Shipley
 The streets of Saltillo
 Packing day!
Ward Activity

Dear Family and Friends,

This was another great week in the Corona Ward here in Saltillo. We are heading into the last week of this transfer! It's hard to believe how fast this transfer has gone! We are hoping to finish this transfer strong with a great week! 

This was a crazy busy week! I am honestly happy that it is over! A week ago, when I was writing my update I was pretty stressed out! I knew I was going to have to prepare a 1 hour training for my district on Tuesday, a Ward Activity in the church, a talk for Sunday along with all of my other regular activities! I felt like I spent the whole week preparing for the next big event! However, I am very pleased and satisfied with the week we had! I received a few compliments from the members of my district on my message, the ward loved the activity we had on Friday, and my talk went well! 

However, the highlight from this week was when I went on splits with my district leader and spent the day in the Brisas area of Saltillo. I was able to offer my first service hours of my entire mission! It's kinda strange because usually I hear about missionaries doing a ton of service, so finally for the first time in 8 months, I was able to perform service! We ended up helping a member of the Quorum of the 70 here in Mexico pack boxes to help them move! My companion for the day was Elder Florez from Columbia.   We had two Sisters help us, one from Guatemala, and the other from Peru! How cool is it that!  An American, Columbian, Peruvian, and Guatemalan helped a Mexican family pack up their house and move!  I just felt super happy to be able to be a missionary and serve other people! I can truly testify to the importance of service! 

The other is our ward activity that the missionaries put on! It was great and we had over 50 people there! It was a great activity and each missionary had his own station where the members played games and then we shared a gospel principle with them! It was great! I want to share with you what I shared with my ward on Friday night in the activity. At my station, the members were able to do a team building activity and then I shared with them a message about Family Unity. 

I asked them what they learned from the activity, and how important it was that all members of the team worked together in order to achieve their goal. Afterwards, I shared the scripture Mosiah 18, verse 21.  It says: 
 And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith, and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love towards another. 
I really like the phrase, "Hearts knit together in unity".  We all have problems within our families at times. Sometimes siblings fight or we don't do our chores or we don't help mom with the dishes. Whatever it may be, there are always going to be problems and issues that create contention and strife within a family. However, I know that the small and simple things like Family Home Evening, family prayer, and scripture study as a family, make a huge difference in creating more love and family unity. 

I want to extend an invitation to each one of you that you can take a moment tonight and offer a prayer to God and ask him to reveal to you one thing that you can do to improve the level of unity in your own family. Perhaps, you will feel the desire to help do chores without asking or wake up early to make your Mom or Dad breakfast. Whatever your answer may be, I encourage you to act upon the answer to help your family grow closer and more full of love this week. 

I know that the church is true and that the work I am doing right now is the most important thing I could be doing during this time of my life. I know that the Savior lives and that He loves me! And each one of you! Thank you for the continued support! 

Much love from Saltillo, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 34

 On the streets of Saltillo
 Jeff loves the mountains in Saltillo
 Taking a break!
 Happy Valentine's Day!
 Studying in a cold house!
Viewing church videos on the "big screen"!
 Domino's!! Yum!
No more horses...just trains!

Happy Valentines Day!! 

This was a wonderful week here in Salitllo! I hope everyone had a great week and enjoyed Valentines day! 

Elder Smith and I are doing so well here in Saltillo! We have seriously seen so many miracles and had wonderful moments! This coming week will be tough! I have a lot of things to prepare for! I have to give a one hour training for 8 other missionaries tomorrow in my district meeting, on Friday we have a ward "Family Home Evening" that we, the missionaries are putting on, and then I am speaking in Church on Sunday! So much to do, and I love it! 

This week, we had a couple of great experiences. First of all, I want to make an official announcement that I have received my second marriage proposal of my mission! In honor of Valentines day of course! This time it was a little strange because the proposal was with a 17 year old instead of the 55 year old proposal that I received in Piedras Negras. Anyway, to make a long story short, we were with a new family of investigators, and the mother started asking if we were married and we said no. Then she asked if we, my companion and I, wanted to marry her niece and daughter and take them back to the United States with us. It was all in good fun and nobody was serious but at least I got my second invitation. I think it would be nice to finish with five so I have options when I come home :) 

On the more spiritual side, we had perhaps the most powerful lesson of my mission with our investigators named William and Mayda! They are so great! We taught about baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end! The Bishop and first counselor in ward were both present in the lesson! (Another shout out to the Corona ward here, they work super hard). This mother and son accepted a baptism date for the 28th of February so we are working hard to get them ready for this date! 

We had another lesson, with another family of investigators where they started calling me, Elder Chicle, and my companion, Elder Chiflado. Chicle means gum in Spanish and Chiflado means spoiled,misbehaving child. They call me Elder Chicle because it is easier to pronounce my last name, Shipley, if I tell them it sounds like "chicle". The reason that my companion is named Elder Chiflado is that to give a simple example of repentance, I tell investigators that my companion doesn't wash his dishes in the morning.  I then explain that I reprimand him every morning, which requires the process of repentance. It's just an example, however, I am fairly certain that the only thing some investigators learn from my example is that my companion is spoiled/rotten or chiflado. :)

I just wanted to share one scripture. In 1 John, chapter 4, verse 8, it says "he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for GOD IS LOVE"

I love this verse because I always try to remember to have charity and love for every person I meet or teach. Remember that God is love, and that He loves us. Let's find time to remember his love and show our love for Him. After all, he sent his only begotten Son here to Earth to suffer for our sins. The sacrifice of our Savior makes it possible that one day we can return to live with him. Through our faith, repentance, pray, study in the scriptures, and attendance at church and at the temple, we can show how much we love him.

I truly love the Obra Misional, training a new missionary, and helping others come unto Christ. We also had 2 families of investigators at Church yesterday! What more can you ask for on Valentine's day? 

Much love,
Elder Shipley 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week 33

 On their way to help move rocks and Carne Asada!
 The reward for moving rocks!
 Trains anyone?
Their chapel in Saltillo

Dear Family and Friends,
Another Monday! It´s crazy how fast time flies here!  Every minute is precious here on the mission because I know that this is the Lord´s time not my own so we are working really hard! 

Since I am training an American right now, sometimes we have some really funny moments when speaking Spanish! This week, my young trainee, Elder Smith from Idaho, had a few English words slip out of his mouth while talking to people on the street. For example, he asked if this one man had ever seen ¨two gringos¨ instead of saying ¨dos gringos¨ in Spanish. The man just looked at us and didn´t say a word and I was dying from laughter. I always remember the importance of smiling and laughing! I just think it´s pretty cool that two Americans are living in Mexico and all day long are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

This week, I felt like Superman in church! Let me explain why.  I currently share a ward with one American, one Mexican, and one Brazilian. My Mexican companion this week had to have gall bladder surgery, so he and his Brazilian companion couldn´t come to church. In their absence, considering that my companion just arrived in the mission field, I ended up playing piano during sacrament meeting, leading the music in another meeting, teaching a class for an hour by myself, and played a large role in creating our ward mission plan! It´s very gratifying to see how far I have come after 7.5 months in Mexico. 

I think the most wonderful experience I had this week was with a less active member and my companion. It was like 8:45 pm and I was planning on teaching about the importance of the Sacrament. The less active member that we were teaching is a returned missionary and truly is a wonderful member of the church. But for one reason or another, he doesn´t go to church on Sunday even though he knows a ton about the Gospel. He started to share his life story with me and after close to 20 minutes listening to this Brother´s story, I didn´t know what I was going to share... I was trying to feel the spirit, and think about what he needs to hear, but I truly didn´t know. 

Then, my companion, my brand new son here in the mission field, caught my eye, pulled out a couple of scriptures that related perfectly to the story that the less active member was sharing and beautifully explained the blessings of the Sacrament . I then added a few things of my own and this member told us that he was going to attend church and that he was going to invite his sons, who aren´t members to listen to us. The best part was that the Spanish of my companion was close to perfect. When we left the house, he began to speak again as if he only had 3 weeks here in the field, but for 20 minutes, his Spanish was wonderful and I was so proud. 

I know my testimony of the gift of tongues and the importance of the Sacrament were greatly strengthened. I know that we are doing the work of the Lord here in Mexico and I truly do love the mission. I hope you are all having a great week! 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 32 Snow!

 Jeff's "I am cold!" look!  He said he had on all the clothes he had!
 Okay...this isn't too bad!
 The condition of the shower when they moved in!  They spent some time on their hands and knees so it would be clean!
 The boarder of Jeff's new area.
Having fun?
 The four missionaries in Jeff's ward. 
 What?? Snow in Mexico!?
And back to 80 degrees!

Dear Family and Friends, 

I want to start off this email with a big shout out to my FAVORITE DAD in the whole world, ERIC SHIPLEY and wish him a very happy birthday tomorrow!  (Eric wanted me to edit this out.) :)

This week was perhaps the fastest I have ever had on the mission, I seriously can't believe how fast time passes here on the mission. This week was of course highlighted with the weather here in Saltillo. On Wednesday it got really cold and started to snow! Snow makes missionary work really hard because you are outside all day long.... except when people let you in to teach them! But here in Mexico the houses are often colder inside than it is outside because they often don't have insulation but hey that's alright, we are having a good time! 

A few updates for you all, I am currently in the Corona Ward, here in the Stake, Repulica. This ward is super great, they are always asking when they can accompany us on appointments and we have some really great investigators right now! I want to give another shout out to Hermana Teri in our ward because she is the owner of our house and is always willing to help us! Her children also live in Seattle so that is pretty sweet that we can talk about Seattle and what her kids are up to back home. 

This past week, we have been cleaning the house here in Corona. The last group of missionaries left the house nice and dirty so we have been cleaning a lot! I think it is a good learning experience to clean a house your first change. It is exactly what I did with my trainer on the mission when I arrived in Piedras Negras in August! The saying, like father like son, could not be more true. I have had some moments during the last week where my companion will ask me a question about why I do something a certain way or where I learned it, and my answer is almost always, "well that is what my dad/trainer taught me so that's what I do". It is very funny and a little strange to look back on my training and now have a trainee of my own. More often than not, I find myself telling my son what my dad's, Elder Suarez/Elder Alcala told me. 

A friend of mine asked me to share a miracle that I had this week and it was a really great question so I am going to share it with you all as well. 

My miracle of the week was yesterday, or Sunday! Almost always we have like 5 or 6 teaching appointments to make sure that we are always teaching and always inviting others to come unto Christ. Yesterday however, we only had one teaching appointment and so we put down a lot of plans with names and address of old/new investigators and set out to find them, with the hope that we could find some new investigators and have some great lessons. 

Wow, what happened for the next few hours was so rough, people weren't home, rejected us pretty bad, lied to us about who actually lived where and if they still lived there, and it was a really tough 3 or 4 hours. We were walking the whole time and nobody let us in. Around 8 pm, we came back to a house we had already knocked at, and met a family of 4 and we taught them and they want to get baptized and come to church with us and I was super happy. Literally, I was filled with joy and wanted to cry when we left the house. There is nothing better than having one great lesson at the end of the day, even though you spent 4 hours walking around with nothing. 

I was filled with so much faith and honestly super pumped, that we went to find one last investigator. We have been trying to find him for a week! He is super awesome but almost impossible to find.  We set out to find him at 8:30 instead of just heading home to enjoy our Sunday night. We found him at 8:50, and had a short little chat with him and were able to finally figure out his work schedule, get his phone number, and invite him to church. 

I learned a lot last night about never giving up. Even when you have 4 hours of rejection and walking, the last hour makes all the difference. It doesn't matter how you start, what matters is how you finish. 

Much love and have a great week!!! 
Elder Shipley