Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 42

Jeff's District 
 The Zone!
 Jeff with Elder Smith ad Elder Newman
 Jeff threw up in the street and came up smiling!
 The baptism of Mayra Rivas
 Hiking on P-day in the hills about Saltillo

Dear Family and Friends,
Today is transfer day here in Saltillo! We found out this morning that I am going to stay here with my companion Elder Smith for another 6 weeks in the Corona Ward! I am SO EXCITED! Our other companion, Elder Domiciano is changing areas but staying in the zone. Elder Smith and I are going to be the only 2 missionaries in the ward so we are going to have a very large area and a lot of responsibility but we are very happy and grateful to be able to stay together for 6 more weeks. 

This week was incredibly difficult to be honest. On Tuesday, I went to another area on splits and walked for about 4 hours straight without a single door opening for us. I also found out that my companion Elder Smith threw up and got sick on Tuesday so Wednesday we stayed in the house until 5pm. Then Thursday, I felt pretty bad in the morning but powered through our study and planning session and even made it to lunch with the family in the ward but about 15 minutes after we had finished lunch, I threw up all over the street and we had to go back to the house and rest. After sleeping for 15 hours straight I woke up Friday and we finally were able to work and teach like normal. Friday was also very difficult because after a week without working, we had very few appointment scheduled. 

However, Saturday morning, we were able to see a true miracle of the mission and the power of the Holy Ghost in action. Elder Smith and I were about to finish the last session of his training, we were doing practice baptismal invitations when I received a text message. I didn´t pay attention at first because I wanted to focus on the practices. However, Elder Smith left for a second and I checked my phone and it was perhaps the most beautiful text message that I have ever seen in my life. 

Sister Mayra Rivas, the mother of William, and the daughter of Alberta (our baptism from last week) sent me a message that said, ¨can I still get baptized today¨? I started jumping up and down and shouting for joy because I was SUPER EXCITED! Mayra was going to get baptized in February with her son, and then later committed to get baptized with her mom, however, both times, she told us that she didn't feel ready and wanted to wait more time. We, of course, accepted and respected her answer, and continued inviting her to pray and read her scriptures and to ponder the wonderful blessings that she will receive if she decides to follow the example of our Savior and be baptized. 

This was one of the largest surprises of my mission! I was certain that Mayra was going to get baptized someday, but I truly didn't know when. We were with her and her family on Wednesday and she told us that she still needed more time, so we told her to tell us when she was ready and WOW! Saturday was the day! We started scrambling to prepare everything! And just as always here, we had to empty the baptismal font by hand, prepare the program, and call a bunch of people so that Mayra could have a special experience. 

The baptismal service that we held on Saturday night was truly the sweetest ending to one of the most difficult weeks of my mission. Once again, William, with the nicknames I gave him "pure power" or "power punch" entered the baptismal font for the second time in 6 days but this time with his mother. It was so special! 

The testimonies that the members of the Rivas family shared were so awesome. I was very excited to hear the experiences and testimonies of this great family. I was also still very curious as to why Mayra had to decided to change her mind and get baptized and was hoping that she would share what happened in between Wednesday and Saturday. 

She explained that she had followed our advice to pray to find out when she should get baptized and described her experience. She said that during her prayers, she had felt such a strong desire to get baptized that it made her cry. She then prayed again to make sure and felt the same desire, so strong that she knew she had to get baptized. It was so special to be able to see and feel her testimony. After 2 months waiting and not knowing, she was finally able to join her son and mother as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and yesterday received the Holy Ghost. 

On Saturday evening, I was talking with Elder Smith, just like a Father and son chat ;) and said that it was amazing to me how incredibly difficult a week can be, yet end with one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. I think the closing comment of the testimony of William/¨pure power¨ summed up the entire experience. He said, ¨thanks to the answer that my mom received, and the decision that she took to be baptized, we are going to be an eternal family¨. It was beautiful phrased and I hope that in a year right before I finish my mission, I can accompany this wonderful family to the temple so that they can be sealed for time and all eternity. 

Thank you for all of your support and love, 
Elder Shipley 

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