Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 40

 At the airport with the Assistant to the President, who was Jeff's Zone Leader in Piedras.
 Peter Piper Pizza!
 Elder Martinez and Elder Shipley out on the streets of Saltillo

 Hanging in the hospital with a sick Elder.
 Elder Aguilar before he left to another area.
 Saltillo Sunrise
Split with Edgar from the ward!

Dear Family and Friends, 

I first would like to wish you all a very Happy Easter! I hope you all enjoyed this wonderful holiday and the opportunity that we have to remember the Atonement of our Savior! Here in Mexico, the locals celebrate the ¨Semana Santa¨ or the Holy Week here. The whole week there were a bunch of parades and celebrations to help the people remember our Savior.  

However, I really didn´t have a lot of time to appreciate the cultural activities that were happening around me because I received a new companion! My new companion is Elder Domiciano, from Brazil! He is the only Brazilian in the entire mission! I spent my language study time studying Portuguese and it is really similar to Spanish! 

I am going to be in a trio for the last 2 weeks of this transfer with Elder Smith and Elder Domiciano. Due to a series of poor decisions made by a few Elders and Sister missionaries in my zone, we had ¨small transfers¨ during the middle of the transfer. 

During a 24 hour period in between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon, I had 4 different companions, visited the hospital to check on Elder Domiciano, the mission offices, and also went to the airport for the first time since I arrived here in Saltillo in August. 

I would like to share how I felt and what I learned from my trip to the airport, and how we can apply it to our lives. I went on Tuesday morning with one of the Assistants to the President of the Mission to the airport, to drop off an Elder that was being sent home for disobedience. This Elder was a member of my district and also a personal friend. I will never forget the abundance of emotion that I felt when I returned to the airport for the first time since August. I initially remembered how nervous I was when I arrived in the airport back in August, and how ready I was to finally start working in the mission field. I also remember being really confused because I still didn´t understand Spanish, it is incredible to see all my progress in 8 months!

However, I was also filled with sorrow for this Elder and for the other missionaries that were going to return home early. I will never forget the look of the Elder as we said goodbye and wished each other good luck. It was a look of sorrow and distress for what could have been. I learned about the importance of the decisions that we make every day. The famous quote by President Monson came to mind, ¨Decisions Determine Destiny¨. This Elder´s destiny was changed because of the decisions that he made. However, what he told me as we said goodbye will always stay with me. He said, "I will see you in a year," best of luck. 

I learned that sometimes we make mistakes that change our course. An example could be this Elder that of course wanted to stay and finish out his mission but couldn´t. However, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his suffering and death on the cross, and his resurrection the third day give each of us hope and the chance to repent of our sins. 

Even though Easter has already passed, I want to encourage you all to reflect on the quote, ¨Decisions Determine Destiny¨ and if the decisions that you are making every day make you happy or sad. Closer to our Father in Heaven or if they drag you farther away from him. I have a strong testimony that we will all have an opportunity to repent and change our lives. Just because we make a mistake does not mean that our eternal destiny is changed, just that we have to correct a few things to get back on the path that takes us to our Heavenly Father. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that we can all change something or improve something in our daily lives to become more like the Savior, it just depends on us if we are willing to make the change to be more happy. 

Have a great week and enjoy General Conference and the Final Four! 
Elder Shipley 

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