Monday, May 30, 2016

Week 49

 Jeffrey and Elder Flores on his last day in Saltillo.
 Jeffrey and Elder Taylor on his last day in Salitllo.
 The last visit with the Rivias family.
Saying goodbye to Elder Smith, "his son"
 Jeffrey and Elder Nay in Nueva Rosita!
The "clutch" sombrero a member lent Jeffrey.
 Nueva Rosita is a very green area!
 At least there is shade!
 Picture Window photo moment!
A "Cool" bridge!

Dear family and friends, 

This was a great week here in Nueva Rosita! My new companion, Elder Nay, is a great missionary and we make a power team here in Rosita! I have a lot of thoughts about this week and a few thoughts about last Monday, my last day in Corona with my son that I would like to share with you all! 

First of all, here in Rosita, I am working in a small branch. In Saltillo, I was working with a larger congregation or ward. The branch is super great! I really felt welcomed and loved at church yesterday! There are a ton of women in this ward. The branch is about 80% female and 20% male across all age groups. We are really focusing on finding and reactivating inactive men so they can get the priesthood and help the district become a stake! 

Second, I am sweating so much. The sun honestly isn't nearly as hot as it was in Piedras almost a year ago but it is super humid here. I am literally dripping with sweat all day long... also, it's a very green area. This is the most green area in all of the mission! It is kinda the jungle of the Saltillo mission! 

Third, I am so glad not to be in Monclova. Monclova is the hottest town in the mission in the middle of the Mexican desert and it is about 100 there right now everyday. It will soon be 110 degrees there everyday and I am just fine staying here in Rosita for the next 3 or 4 months!

Fourth, Elder Nay, my new companion, is wonderful. He is from St. George, Utah, perhaps my favorite place on Earth, except for Seattle. He is very humble, very experienced, and very helpful. He has been a zone leader for about 6 months now so he teaches me the ropes and helps me out. We are really trying to develop more charity, love, and humilty in our companionship and in the zone! 

We had a great family of 4 that came to church named the Velasquez family! We are hoping to baptize the two parents and two of their girls in a few weeks! The work is going really well here! 

My spiritual experience for the week was last Monday night in Saltillo when Elder Smith and I visited our converts for one last time to tell them that I was going to be leaving the area for Nueva Rosita. We visited Francisco to start off and finished with the Rivas family, but perhaps the most special was when we visited Antonio and Karla and their family. 

Antonio expressed such a sweet testimony about the power of the restored gospel. He said one of the reasons he wanted to get baptized was the story I shared about my mom and dad and the power of their examples for me. I shared with him that my dad occasionally went alone to church when his parents and sisters didn't go, and that he also would attend Priesthood Sessions of general conference alone. I said that thanks to his strength and desire to serve the Savior, he was able to serve a mission in Germany. I shared with him that he is a wonderful example for me and that he could also be the first member of the church in his family! 

I told him that this was his great opportunity to be an example for his family, and he definetly took his opportunity and now his younger sisters were just baptized by Elder Smith in Corona with his new companion. I really learned about the importance of being a good example at all times and in all places. There are always people watching and taking notice of our actions and words. We should always strive to follow the Savior and become more like him because he is our ultimate example of love.

I hope you are all doing well and are getting ready to finish school! 
All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 48 --Time for a Change...ready or not!

The Saltillo Sign!
Good Bye Saltillo!
Jeffrey's Zone
Jeffrey's Zone Leaders
Elder Smith and Jeffrey!
Elder Smith, Jeffery and Elder Norman
Relaxing on a wall
Francisco's baptism!

The favorite Kellogg's cereals!  Jeffrey eats Frosted Flakes every day!

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been a crazy week! This was the last of 18 weeks of the adventure of Elder Shipley and Elder Smith. Today we are going to spend our last day together eating Dominos Pizza and ice cream and saying goodbye to our converts. At least I will be saying goodbye, because I am being transferred! I will leave Corona in the Rupublic Zone here in Saltillo, get on a bus tomorrow at 8AM and make my way north to Nueva Rosita! My new companion will be Elder Nay!  I am so excited to learn from him since I am going to have more responsibilities this upcoming transfer!  Elder Nay has only 4 more months on his mission so he will help me a lot as I learn about how to guide the 6 Elders and 6 Sister Missionaries in my zone. 

The funniest thing that happened this week was when we celebrated the 19th birthday of Elder Smith yesterday. The Mexicans have a tradition of chanting ¨Mordita, Mordita, Mordita¨ when someone starts to cut the birthday cake. When they start chanting, they want the person that is having the birthday to put their face near the cake and take a little bite or a ¨mordita¨. However, just like March when I had my birthday, other people push your face into the cake. It was super funny when Elder Smith got his face really close to the cake because he was expecting a little push so that he got a little cake on his nose but he wasn´t ready for me! I pushed his face in the cake and then didn´t let him lift up his face at first! He got cake up his nostrils, in his eyelashes, and all over his hair. There was so much cake in his nose while he was laughing that he actually couldn´t breathe for a second. It was a great mordita that my son, Elder Smith is never going to forget. 

The best part of this week was the baptism of Francisco! Francisco is such a super special guy! He came to church 5 weeks ago and after attending almost every week to church, got baptized! He shared a super special testimony after his baptism about the peace he has felt in his house and with us since we have been visiting him. He said that he knows that the church is true and loves to feel the spirit! He is going to work hard to look for the names and dates of his family members and take the names to the temple in a couple of weeks to do baptisms. He will also be able to do the work for his son who died a few years ago and is very excited to keep growing and learning about the gospel. 

Well, this is the last day I will be spending with Elder Smith as my companion. It has been an incredible 18 weeks teaching him and learning from him. I have learned many things from him, however, I think the most powerful and lasting lesson he has taught me is the importance of always showing love for the people that we are teaching. There was a time during March and April when I honestly wasn´t sharing a lot of love with the people we were teaching. I was being very impatient and very rarely expressed my love and concern for the people. However, Elder Smith helped me start showing love again, like I had done when we started in January and Febuary. He helped me remember the very principles that I had taught him in January that if we don´t show love and concern for the people we teach, and if we do not apply the gospel in their lives, they are never going to be able to grow, change, and progress in the gospel.  

I will be eternally grateful for Elder Smith.  We are only servants or tools in the Lord´s hand. We are truly here to serve and love the people of Mexico. He has been a great little hijo and I will miss him immensely. 

Hope all is well, I´ll let you all know how hot Nueva Rosita is next week!

All the best,
Elder Shipley 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Week 47

 Enjoying Mexican Mother's Day.  Always on May 10th.
 The wedding! 
 Little Yammi!  The daughter of the couple who got married.
 The pizza party after the wedding!
 The baptism after the wedding!
 The serious pose...
 Goofing off!  This is what happens when 8 boys get together!
 train tracks for the brothers!
The two sisters in the ward who help out the most!

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was great! We had some crazy weather, spent a lot of time contacting and knocking doors. This is most likely the last week that Elder Smith and I are going to have together because it is the last week of the transfer! It's crazy that we have reached the end of another transfer here in Corona! 

The funniest thing that happened this week was when a man that was selling popcorn outside of an elementary school, yelled across the street at us, in English, and asked us to come over and talk with him. We of course, crossed the street and began to talk to him in English. 

It was perhaps the most interesting street contacts of my entire mission. This man was convinced that the Illuminati have control over the entire world, that dragons, aliens are here on the Earth and are beings of higher intelligence. He described his beliefs as a mix of Buddhist, Christian, and Ancient Egyptian. When I started asking about Jesus Christ and what he thought about Him, he just stopped talking to us and walked away. It was a great moment on the mission and Elder Smith and I just laughed. 

The best and most important thing that happened this week was definitely the wedding of Antonio and Karla and their baptism on Saturday!!! We have been working with this couple for a couple of months now and it was such a gratifying and joyful experience to see their wedding. 

The wedding itself was actually incredibly short. It lasted about 10-15 minutes! However, it was awesome to see the commitment of this young couple to get married and then in the evening get baptized. In the evening, we had a wonderful baptismal service! I baptized Antonio and Elder Smith baptized Karla. 

I had two favorite parts of the baptismal service. The first was when Antonio shared his testimony after his baptism. He said that his testimony of the Restored Gospel has grown so much and that he will always be thankful for Elder Smith and I because we never left him and always supported him. He also expressed his desire to go to the temple in May of 2017 to get sealed to his wife for time and all eternity. 

My other favorite part was the closing hymn of the baptismal service. Elder Smith and I sang the closing song together.  We sang Nearer my God to Thee. Elder Smith accompanied with his guitar and it was a truly spiritual and peaceful moment. 

I hope you all have a great week! 
Much love! 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week 46

The "Famous" Sister Zamora.  Love the Hat!  She could have gone to the Kentucky Derby!
 Emptying the baptism font by hand.  That was fun!
 The streets of Saltillo

 Mexican Corn on the Cob with Sister Ruiz!
 The train tunnel Jeff walks under every day to go home!
Mother's Day Skype!
From the Issaquah side!

Dear family and friends, 

This was a wonderful week here in Saltillo! Elder Smith and I just finished week number 16 together! This week was calm as we focused on getting a few people that we are teaching ready for baptism.

This week was really highlighted by two wonderful experiences. On Thursday, we were with a 24 year old man named Antonio. We have been teaching him for several weeks and we are very excited for his wedding and baptism this Saturday! He, together with his girlfriend, are going to get married at 2pm, baptized at 6, and enjoy a dinner put on by the sisters in the ward at 7! It has been incredibly difficult to navigate the marriage process here in Mexico! The worst part is that all the paperwork was in Spanish :) Imagine that!

However, the chat that we had on Thursday afternoon was one of the most special experiences I have had here in Corona. Antonio told us that when we first started teaching him, he really wasn´t that interested in what we were teaching and didn´t want anything to do with the Book of Mormon of Joseph Smith or modern day revelation. However, he told us that the thing that was really interesting about our message wasn´t the actual message itself, but rather the change that his 4 year old daughter, (her name is pronounced Yammi, I don´t know how to spell it) has had over the past weeks. He said that since his daughter has been listening to us, attending church, and spending time with a wonderful sister from our ward named Sister Ruiz (that comes with us when we visit them), his daughter has changed and improved immensely. 

He said that he noticed this changed, that his daughter was calmer, more obedient, and caused less problems. Over time, he then said that his daughter started to pray for the family ever night before they went to bed. She also reminded the family to pray over the food at meal times. Antonio said that the change his daughter had and the faith that she has shown has been the major reason why he is wanting to get baptized. Of course, he has also prayed and knows for himself that the church is true and that through Joseph Smith, God restored his true church to the earth, however, he has noticed how much the gospel has blessed the life of his family. 

He said that he wants his daughters to grow up in the church, living the gospel so that they don´t make the same mistakes that he did. He wants them to be happier than he has been in his life. His pure testimony, which lasted for over a half an hour, was one of the strongest spiritual experiences I have had the pleasure of having. 

This wonderful experience was followed by a wonderful Mother´s Day yesterday It didn´t feel like Mother´s day here, because in Mexico they celebrate Mother´s Day on May 10th, every year. However, everything changed when I was able to talk with my family for an hour in the evening. I felt incredibly blessed to be able to have a family that shows me an abundance of love and support. It was a wonderful hour of laughs, a few tears, and a lot of love. I have really realize the importance of families during my mission. There is a reason that our Heavenly Father put us in families. It is because he wants us to be able to learn, grow, progress, and someday live with them forever. 

I love my family and I love working so that other families can receive the wonderful blessings that God has in store for us. 

Have a great week!
Elder Shipley

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week 45

 Visiting members!
 "'s the Washington Monument in Mexico!"
 "Some Mexican Revolution Statue"
 The frog...
 Jeff says he hoped if he kissed the frog it would turn into a princess! :)
 Yet another animal.
 Park near his home.
 Just hanging!
 Splits with Elder Stockman from Utah
On the Streets!

Dear Family and Friends, 

This was another calm week here in Saltillo.  Week 15 that Elder Smith and I have shared together. This upcoming week should be good! We are helping a young couple get married so they can prepare for baptism and are spending a lot of time with another elderly man named Franciso that I wrote about a few weeks ago. All three are hope they can be baptized before the transfer ends. 

This week, Elder Smith and I have been planning and preparing the Skype call that we are going to make with our families this Sunday! I am very excited to talk with my family for the first time since Christmas! However, I also wanted to mention that this Sunday is Mother's Day! When I think of mothers, I think of pure love or charity. Mothers have done so much to make me the person that I am today! One of my favorite scriptures is found in Moroni, chapter 7, verses 46 and 47.

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity,ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth foreverand whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

I love the simplicity of these 2 scriptures. If we do not have charity, or a pure love for others, we are nothing. It is truly a strong, yet profound statement that he that wants to make the most of life and be happy must develop a pure love for others. 

One of my favorite all time conference talks was given by Elder Holland in the October 2015 conference. In his talk, Elder Holland relates 3 stories of Mother's demonstrating Christ like love, and then comes to this powerful conclusion to finalize his words: 

"No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ, than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child". 

I hope that we can all take time this week to show love for the Mother's in our lives. They do so much for us, sacrificing their time, talents, and desires to serve others. Let's all take a little time to show them how much the charity that they show us, means to us, and make this Mother's Day the most special Mother's Day that your Mom has ever had. 

I truly love the mission! It's crazy that we are now in the month of May! Time goes incredibly fast on the mission because I am spending every moment of every day thinking about others and how I can be more like my Mother, and show them charity, the pure love of Christ. I know that the Church is true and that Christ is my Savior. I will be forever grateful for the supreme act of Charity that he did for all of us, His Atonement. 

Have a great week and a great Mother's Day on Sunday! 
Elder Shipley