Monday, June 27, 2016

Week 53: Good Bye to our President

 The last Zone Conference with Pres. and Sister Rodrigues
 Jeffrey and President Rodrigues
 Jeffrey holding up the sign I sent him.
The Velasquez Family 
Jeffrey with the amazing Assistants the the President...Elder Daines and Elder Rose.  Checking out Jeffrey's Blog in the offices.

Dear Family and Friends, 

I am currently writing this update from Saltillo here in the Mission offices! I would first like to give Elder Rose a big shout out. Last week, his comment about the weather in my area was right on point. If you want to experience what the heat is like where I live and walk around everyday, just hold up a blow dryer to your face for about 5 minutes and that will give you a good idea. 

Also, I wanted to share a part of Elder Rose's testimony that he shared with us a few weeks ago in the special conference I attended in Saltillo. I was impressed by the testimony of Elder Rose because he emphasized the importance of baptism and the true joy of the mission is being able to see your converts enter in the waters of baptism.  Then you know that they are going to receive the blessings that our Father in Heaven has in store for them. He testified that he has grown closer to our Savior and that his faith in Jesus Christ helps him every day to be a better person and continue working, even though he is heading into the last week of his mission. I will dearly miss these great elders, (many of whom were my zone leaders and assistants to the President) for their guidance, wisdom, and great examples.  

This will be a super interesting week! I arrived here in Saltillo yesterday by bus and am going to be here until Wednesday night! I am calling it my ¨spring break 2016 ¨ :)  I had to update my visa this morning because my visa was outdated. And my visa was outdated because I have now officially completed one year here in Mexico!!! I will be here to meet the new President, President Cahoon and to hear some advice and goals that he has to share with us. 

This past week went really well! I am very happy to report that the water came back to our apartment on Tuesday morning of last week so we only lost it for a few days. On Friday, I was able to participate in the last zone conference of President Rodriguez! It was such a special day! The President emphasized the importance of reading the scriptures and making it a daily habit. He explained the passage in the Bible when Jesus was tempted by Satan 3 times, and that Jesus explained that he could overcome whatever temptation through the Word of God. It was a super meeting and we were privileged to hear the last testimonies of the President and his family. 

I loved hearing the testimony of the President when he invited us to work as hard as we can and to truly search for the Savior in our daily lives. I felt inspired to commit myself to work as hard as I can for this last year of my mission here in Mexico. I have felt incredibly blessed to be able to complete one year and eagerly look forward to spending another year serving the people of Mexico. 

I know that the church truly was restored by the prophet Joseph Smith and that through the sacred promises we make with God we can return to live in his presence someday! Everyday we should try as hard as we can to be worthy to enter the temple and receive all of the blessings that our Father in Heaven offers us. I know that this work is true and I know I have loved the first half of my mission and will love even more the second half. 

All the best and have a great week! 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 52 - Emergency Preparedness and Sleepovers

 Out teaching with members.
Happy Birthday Elder Nay!

The traditional in cake in your face or Mordita!
 So hot...It was time for shorts??
 Elder Shipley, Elder Nay and Elder Rose!
 The Central Plaza in Musquiz.  The greenest area in the mission.
Elder Nay and Elder Shipley with Viviana.

Dear family and friends, 

This week, I experienced 2 things completely new here on the mission! It's kind of strange to think about that considering I have been doing the same things every week for a year now but it was truly one of the most unique weeks I have had here in Mexico. 

I want to start off with a little follow up to the email I sent home last week. So, last week I was a little sick of eating fish 3 times in one week.  Well, right after I finished writing the letter home in the cyber cafe, we headed to a house of a member to eat lunch. Well, I wasn't sure if I started laughing or crying when the sister brought out...wait for it...FISH once again. I think I have learned my lesson not to complain because the Lord has a funny way of teaching us lessons. In fact, the fish was actually pretty good :) 

This week, we had 2 surprise sleepovers! The first was surprise because the mission office didn't tell us anyone was coming until the day before, but we had one of the assistants come up from Saltillo and he slept in our house on Tuesday and Wednesday night! We had splits and I learned a lot from Elder Rose. I enjoyed asking him questions and advice since he goes home in 2 weeks. I think the best part of the day was the way he described the heat here in Nueva Rosita. He said, ¨wow, it´s so hot, I feel like somebody is just holding up a blow dryer to my face the whole day¨. So yea, that's how it feels. I encourage all of you to hold up a blow dryer to your face for about 5 minutes straight and then you will understand how we feel here around 3 or 4 pm. With Elder Rose here last Tuesday we reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit. :) 

On Friday, we had our second surprise sleepover! We went to an area in the zone that is about an hour away by bus called Musquiz to do a baptismal interview. Well after some confusion, lost cell coverage, and bad planning, Elder Nay and I made it to Muzquiz around almost 8pm. We had to interview this person on Friday night so she could get baptized on Saturday night. After a rather lengthy interview, we left the church running to grab the bus back to Nueva Rosita and we showed up to the bus station at 9:30. We were very sad when we realized that the bus left at 9:20 and that the next bus would not leave until 10:30, which meant we would not have been home until 11:30 almost midnight. After talking with the assistants, we were sent back to the elders house in Muzquiz to sleep there for the night, with plans to return to Rosita on Saturday morning. 

This past Friday night was truly unforgettable. There were 4 Elders and only 2 beds. I ended up laying on a few blankets on the ground in my dirty clothes and all. My favorite part of the night was killing a few cockroaches and pushing away the pet rabbit of the elders away from my bed (blanket on the ground). I wasn't very happy to discover the pet rabbit in the house, because we can't have pets, but they promised to give it away today. I will never forget this sleepover! 

On Saturday morning, we made our way back to Rosita and realized that the house didn't have water. We turned on the shower, the sink, the water faucet outside... we had no idea what was going on. After talking with a few neighbors and calling a few members, we realized that the whole town of Nueva Rosita, with several tens of thousands of inhabitants just doesn't have water! Turns out that a very large pipe broke and so we haven't bathed since Friday morning. Today is now Monday! There weren't many people in church yesterday because nobody could bathe. We have a lot of hope and faith that the water will be repaired and come back today! 

I really learned the importance of being ready for anything this week. Who knows when we might have surprise sleepovers, a few hours on the ground with some cockroaches and a rabbit or a city wide ¨drought¨. I am grateful that Elder Nay and I had bought 15 gallons of drinking water a week ago because right now there are big trucks of water that are going around the city to give people water, and it's not exactly clean! 

I can personally testify to the importance of having a storage of clean water and food in house and being prepared for emergencies. The words of the prophets are true because the members here are able to help out there neighbors who have no water! Something I have thought about recently is, what would I do if no water came out of the faucets in the sink, outside, or from the shower? 

However, I have a lot of confidence that the water is going to return very quickly and life will be back to normal. I love learning new things here on the mission and I really appreciate your love and support! I know that Savior lives and that He loves us. Be sure to give the dad's in your life thanks and even more important our Heavenly Father that loves us more than we can imagine. 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Week 51 - Horses and Fish!

 The chapel in Nueva Rosita
 Jeffrey in front of the chapel!
 Jeffrey was thrilled to be back with horses!
 He decided touching the horse was not a good idea.
 A set of Sister Missionaries in Jeffrey's Zone.
A club football field in the area.  Made Jeffrey very grateful for the beautiful Issaquah Stadium!

Dear family and friends, 

Hi everyone!!! I hope you are all doing fabulously and had a great week! I can't believe that school is going to end this Thursday back in Issaquah! That is crazy! I can't believe that my brothers are going to be moving into middle school, high school, and senior year of high school! Time sure flies. 

In other big news this week, I recieved another marriage offer! I don't remember if this was number 3 or number 4 on the mission but I am really starting to rack them up! Also, eating with the sisters here was rough this week. For those of you who don't know, we eat breakfast in the house before we study at 8am everyday, lunch with a sister from the ward at 2pm everyday, and then if we have 5 minutes in the evening we eat a snack before we go to bed. So, the lunch everyday at 2pm is huge and is super important because it is your major source of food. 

Usually the food is super delicious because the sisters do a great job and I love mexican food but this week we had FISH THREE TIMES..... it was so rough. Many of you know I am not a big fish guy, even though I live in Seattle... but it was just horrible. In 6 months in Piedras Negras, my first area, I ate fish once. In 4 months in Saltillo, I ate fish once. Here in Rosita I ate fish 3 times in ONE WEEK. I live in the Mexican desert! Where do they even get the fish!? Anyway, I was very happy my loving mommy sent me a few snacks last week in a box so everything turned out well in the end! 

This week, the most powerful experience I had was listening to the conversion story of a young man who accompanies us in some of our lessons with our investigators. When I got here to Nueva Rosita a few weeks ago, all of the other missionaries in the zone started asking my companion about a recent convert named, Eduardo (Edward in English). Everyone wanted to know how he was and where he was. Anyway, after asking my comp about him, I learned that this 20 year old, college student is basically a missionaries best friend. 

I met Eduardo when he picked us up in his car and droves us to our next appointment. Right off the bat, a member with a car, who plays EFY music in his car, is total gold. I learned that this member has had an incredible conversion story and during the last lesson of the evening I got to hear it. 

Eduardo lives here in Rosita and got baptized in December of last year, right before Christmas. According to the other missionaries, this guy was totally chosen and went to church the first time he was invited to go and got baptized 4 weeks. However, he explained that his path to getting baptized was not easy in any sense of the word. The relatives of Eduardo on his mothers side of the family are Christian pastors in their local church. The relatives of Eduardo on his father´s side are masons. No one in his family wanted him to get baptized. In fact, they threatened that if he got baptized they would kick him out of the house because he was 19 years old. 

This of course was an incredibly difficult decision for Eduardo. However, he made the decision, after much prayer, study, and fast to get baptized and hope that his family would respect his decision. Unfortunately, he had to move out of his house and went to study in Piedras Negras, right on the border with Texas. 

However, the reason that this young man is my hero is that during his 5 month semester in Piedras Negras, he kept to the following schedule everyday. 

5:00 am: Wake Up 
7:00 am: University Classes
12 to 4pm: Worked 
4pm to 9pm: Accompanied the Missionaries
9pm to 12pm: Homework and personal things. 

I was amazed to see the dedication and strength of this convert. He went with every companionship of missionaries in Piedras Negras, all 7, and helped all of them to invite people into Christ. At the same time, he was preparing himself for his own mission that he will start in fall of this year. At the end of his semester that just finished a few weeks ago, he returned back to Rosita, hoping that he could stay here and prepare for his mission but his family once again told him to leave and he will be living in Mexico City until his mission begins. 

I was truly impressed with the incredible strength and the depth of conversion of Eduardo. I am not sure if I would be able to do what he does all day long. He is a powerful example of how a kid who didn't used to keep all of the commandments could change his life around, despite the opposition of the people that surround him. I hope I can develop that same strength and testimony and know that only the Savior, in his infinite love, can help me do it.

Have a great week and keep on being awesome!
Elder Shipley 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 50!!!

 Jeffrey's bed
 Jeffrey's kitchen
Riding the bus home to Nueva Rosita.  Elder Nay fell asleep!
 Jeffrey's desk
 Jeffrey's sombrero in a big truck!  He says he felt like he was in Texas.
 The conference
 The mall!
 A BIG Sombrero!

Dear family and friends, 

This was a super great week here in Nueva Rosita with Elder Nay! It is starting to get pretty hot but the sombreros keep us nice and cool! This week, the highlight was our two days that we spent in Saltillo! I'd like to explain the pictures of me sitting in a massage chair in the mall that I took this week, just so you all don't think I am a lazy missionary :) 

In the mission Mexico,  Saltillo, the first Thursday of every month, the President holds a leadership conference in the mission offices and this was the first time I was invited! I was very excited to be able to attend! On Wednesday afternoon, we got on the bus and made the 5 hour trip down to Saltillo. We got there around 7pm and then the President told us that we could head to the mall to grab a bite to eat. I went with my companion to the big, American like mall that is super close to the offices and we had a very nice 2 hours. We sat in a massage chair to relieve a little bit of stress, went tie shopping, looked through this cool Egyptian store, and ate Dairy Queen ice cream! It was so sweet! 

In the evening, I slept in the house of the assistants and it was a mess! There were 10 guys and only 6 beds! At least there were a few extra mattresses in the house so only 2 guys had to share one mattress... I was lucky and got my own mattress but forgot my pillow so it was a long night. We didn't sleep very much because some of the older guys thought it would be fun to have an initiation process, for my first conference, and decided to blind fold all of the new guys. Nothing really happened after, I was fairly disappointed to be honest. I remember when I went to football camp as a sophomore in high school and got my head shaved. I was hoping for something just as revolutionary but it just wasn't going to happen on the mission. 

The most spiritual and honestly one of the best experiences I have ever had on the mission, was the conference that we had the next morning. The next day, all of the missionaries that the president invited to the conference got together and the President started with a super cool training or message about how to develop the attributes of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He asked us all, how is it possible to fulfill with the commandment that the Savior gave us to be perfect? Of course we aren't going to be perfect, we commit mistakes everyday and the only perfect person that has ever lived was Christ. 

He told us that the key was to recognize and understand the verse in Moroni 10:32, which reads, ¨Yea come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ, and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in no wise deny the power of God. 

The take away from his message was that it is more important what we are then what we do on the mission and in life. He said that a missionary that continually develops Christlike attributes, wouldn't require that someone else tells him how to be a missionary. For example, a missionary that is always trying to be like Christ and develop attributes similar to those that he possess would never be disobedient because that's not what the Savior did. I learned that I still have a lot of work to do and that there is also hope to become better everyday. I also learned that the Lord truly never gives us commandments that we can't fulfill. Even though the commandment to be perfect, seems unachievable, it is possible through the love of our Savior. 

After, I was privileged to hear the testimonies of the Elders that are heading home and finishing their missions in 4 weeks. However, of the Elders that are going home this change, 4 of them were assistants to the President and a few of them are my very good friends and idols on the mission. It was so powerful to hear the testimonies of Elder Ninatype, when he stressed the importance of enjoying the trials and sufferings on the mission because that is truly when we are molded by the Lord into better people. Also, Elder Flores, my first zone leader who is basically the missionary I want to be like someday, talked about the importance of improving everyday, showing love to all, and searching for the Savior and His love everyday. Also, Elder Montero, shared with us his testimony that the Lord doesn't need us here in the mission field to accomplish the work. He could easily do it all himself. However, it is truly and blessing to serve because He gives me a chance to grow and help others in a way that wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the mission. He also said that on the mission he has really searched and come to know the Savior as his friend. This really stood out to me. He said that Jesus wasn't just the son of God but that during his time on the mission he has developed a personal relationship with him, something that I try to do everyday. 

To finish the conference, the President and his wife shared their final testimonies with those of us that went to the conference. In 3 weeks, President Rodriguez will be heading back home and President Cahoon will begin his 3 years of service. The testimonies of the President and his wife were super powerful, I truly felt the love they have for each of us and that they will always be my friends. I hope that during the second half of my mission, I can become more like these Elders that have taught me so much and look back and be satisfied with the work that I did and with the person I have become. 

Hope you are all well! 
Elder Shipley