Monday, July 25, 2016

Week 57 -Another Week in Rosita

 The Gutierrez Family visiting from Piedras!
 An area called Muzquiz
 Welcome to the Jungle!
 Splits with Elder Faramio
Elder Shipley, Elder Johnson and Zahory

Dear Family and Friends,
Yesterday marked 13 months here in Mexico! Time seems to just be going faster and faster. Elder Johnson and I had a good week here in Rosita! We worked really hard this week and did our best to invite members to our lessons to help our investigators feel confortable when they went to church. As always, the hearts of the people we taught last week opened up and the members were able to answer all of the questions and doubts and we were very happy to see many people come to church yesterday. I have a super strong testimony of member missionary work! If you have the chance to go with the missionaries to a lesson or a visit, be sure to go with them because the Lord gives us so many blessings when we help others come unto Christ. 

I think the theme of this week was service. Service is so important. It is a vital part of being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is also a trait of a ¨true Christian¨. During Sacrament meeting on Sunday, all three speakers gave talks about service. Being a full time missionary, my life for two years is just serving others! One of my favorite verses in the Bible teaches me a lot about why service is so important. In James 1:27 it says, 

¨Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world¨. 

I know that the words of James are true! We have to be clean from the world, or in other words, repent for the mistakes that we make and commit to be better every single day! However, something that really stood out to me is that ¨pure religion¨ or the most pure and essential worship of Our Heavenly Father isn't locking yourself up in your house to read the scriptures and pray, (both of which are extremely important), but rather helping those that are in need and may not be able to fulfill their needs and desires on their own. 

For example, yesterday after church, my companion and I were given a chance to serve. Our next door neighbor, who is a single mom while also studying in college, was washing her dirty clothes and the clothes of her young daughter in her kitchen sink. My companion and I passed by and noticed that she was absolutely drenched with sweat. We said hi and then she asked us for a glass of water, because she didn't have any more drinking water. We gave her a glass of ice cold water (which I was super excited to drink after a hot morning at church but was happy to share) and then we offered to go buy her water. Where I am living right now, you have to buy drinking water in giant 5 gallon jugs in gas stations. 

My companion and I happily went in the 110 degree sun to buy this thirsty mother and daughter some water. Our neighbor was incredibly grateful that we did this small act of service for her so she didn't have to take her young daughter out in the sun and carry the very heavy 20 liter jug of water. 

I truly learned the importance of the small, simple acts of service that we can perform every single day. I know that if we look a little harder, offer a few more times, and are more like Our Savior Jesus Christ everyday, we can make a difference in the world around us and help others come unto the love of Jesus Christ and Our Father in heaven. 

Thank you for your love and support, I love the mission! 
All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Week 56

 A set of twins in Jeffrey's branch.  One is getting married.
 Jeffrey petting a horse. "It's a huge petting zoo here," he says.
Another "sick" ride.  A horse drawn buggy on the highway!

Dear family and friends, 

This update will be fairly short because somehow I accidentally erased everything I had just been writing for the last 15 minutes and the draft didn’t save and my time here to write home is quickly coming to an end. 

Elder Johnson and I had a good second week here together! This past week, I didn’t have the rare experience of being able to give a funeral talk or the incredible privilege of seeing two mission presidents at the airport, but I did have a wonderful chance to find, teach, and invite families to come unto Christ and receive the blessings of the temple.

Something I have really enjoyed about Nueva Rosita, that I didn’t find quite as common in Saltillo or in Piedras Negras, was the frequency that we find, teach, and help complete families. As missionaries, we are encouraged to focus on finding, teaching, and baptizing complete families because the gospel was designed to be enjoyed as a family! I was able to testify, from personal experience, about the peace, joy, and love that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought my family.

The best experiences that I had this week was explaining what a temple is and the blessings that one can receive there. Many of the discussions with these new families that we have found were focused and centered on the promise that they can have eternal families through the sealing power of the priesthood of God! They were so excited to learn about the steps to take in order to go to the temple together to be sealed for time and all eternity. 

Temples was such an important topic this week that the primary president here in my branch asked my companion and I to give a lesson to the primary kids about the sacrifices the early saints made to be able to construct temples in Kirtland and Nauvoo. I was very impressed and very grateful to read the incredible stories of the saints sacrificing everything to make it possible so that we can enjoy the blessings of the temple. 

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

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 55 -Funeral talks

Saying goodbye to Elder Nay at the bus station
 Elder Johnson and Jeffrey on an old fire truck in Rosita
 Playing with boys!
 Elder Johnson and Jeffrey by the large smoke stack in Rosita

First day with Elder Johnson

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was the first week I will have with Elder Johnson! Elder Johnson is from Ohio, not California, and has 21 months on the mission. He is going home in September with my last companion Elder Nay! He came straight out of high school on the mission and is 20 years old! After the mission he is going to study in BYU Idaho. He is a really great missionary, super organized, and very obedient so we are having a good time here in Rosita. 

This past week was filled with finding new people and helping the rest to progress in the gospel. It always happens when you start a new transfer. The new missionary comes and helps you find new people and it's always fun because it's like the area is totally new even though it is the same area, it's just that you are visiting new people. 

I think the best part of my week was actually with Elder Nay the night before he left to Monclova. Last Monday, we washed our clothes with Sister Hope, ate lunch, wrote emails, and then went on some errands. We got a call while shopping from a teenager that used to listen to the missionaries and he asked us if we could pass by a funeral home in the afternoon to say a prayer with his family, because his grandfather had recently passed away. 

Elder Nay and I thought it was a rather unusual request but of course were happy to offer a prayer to a family that is a little sad after the passing of their grandfather. Around 6pm, we set out for the funeral home and what happened next was definitely one of my top 5 unique experiences of my mission. 

We walked into the funeral home and asked this teenager where we could offer the prayer with the family. He then asked us to talk to his uncle about what was going to happen. This man, who actually turned out to be an ex-bishop of a ward in Saltillo, met us and was so happy that we had arrived. The man then asked us if we would be willing to lead, sing, and give the message for the funeral service. 

At first I thought he was just joking, I actually started to smile and quickly realized that this man was totally serious. This group of over 50 family members, were waiting on two, 20 year old American missionaries to have a funeral service and were depending on us to lead, pray, sing, and give the message.. so for the next hour Elder Nay lead the funeral services, together we sang a few hymns in a duet for the family, and then my companion said that I was going to share a message to honor the death of this man. 

I wasn't sure if I laughed or cried when my companion volunteered me to give my first funeral talk of my life. Well, I got up, with my bible in one hand, since I had left my Book of Mormon in the house by accident, and gave a 10 minute talk, without planning out a single word beforehand. I talked about faith, repentance, the Plan of Salvation, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was truly one of the coolest and unique experiences of my life. 

I truly loved this incredible experience last Monday. I still can't believe that it happened and whenever I think about it, I just laugh and smile. I am grateful that I have had the chance to study diligently so I could be ready to talk in front of a large group and just give a funeral talk even though I didn't even know the name of the man I was talking about. 

I love the mission, I love being able to serve the people of Mexico everyday and invite them to Christ! It's the best job ever, it's not the easiest. because every day it is more than 100 degrees in the street and it should get up to 110 pretty soon but it is truly a privilege and to give a funeral talk every once in a while. 

Hope you are all well! 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Week 54 -At the Right Place at the Right Time

 Peter Piper Pizza where Jeffrey out ate a linebacker!  So Proud...
 At the airport with the new President and the old President
 President and Sister Cahoon

 Jeffrey and Elder Nay with Sister Cruz and Miz from the Zone
Jeffrey with Elders Nay, Rose, Daines and Sister Hope (Hermana Esperanza).  She is a very supportive member in Saltillo. 
 Reunion with Elder Smith, William and Jeffrey
The Zone with the new President and his wife.

Dear Family and Friends, 


Tomorrow we have tranfers! This morning I learned that Elder Nay, my current companion from St. George will be leaving tomorrow morning and heading to Monclova where he will most likely finish the last 3 months of his mission. I gratefully will be staying here in Nueva Rosita for what should be 6 weeks more and my new companion will be Elder Johnson! I will be with another American! I have been with an American companion since before Christmas and now we are in July! It's a miracle that I can still speak Spanish after being with pure gringos for so long. I am very excited to work with Elder Johnson. I met him about a month ago in Saltillo and he is from Ohio and also has 3 more months left on his mission. 

I was extremely lucky this week to be able to see the arrival of our new President, President Cahoon and his wife. I could truly feel of their love for the mission and for me personally the first time I was able to talk with them. I'll give you a little run down on my week and why it was so special. 

Last Monday morning, I was in Saltillo renewing my visa because I completed a year here in Mexico!! I spent the afternoon with an Elder from the zone, named Elder Archuleta. Elder Archuleta only has one transfer left on his mission. In fact, he is even going home 3 weeks early so he can start training with the University of Utah football team. We had a great time talking about college football and high school football and it was truly a blast to be with him. The highlight was when we went to an all you can eat pizza buffet and I ate more pizza than him! I was so proud!!! I can honestly say that I ate more pizza than a hungry polynesian 20 year old future college football linebacker! Wow! Best day ever! 

Afterwards, Elder Archuleta headed back to Nueva Rosita and I stayed in Saltillo with my best buddies Elder Daines and Elder Rose. I was so excited to be able to see our new President arrive, President Cahoon. Just to clarify, the reason I stayed in Saltillo instead of returning to Rosita is because I was already required to be in Saltillo for Tuesday and Wednesday for a conference and didn't want to waste money sending me on 4 bus rides in 4 days. Instead of wasting over 1000 pesos and 10 hours in bus, I got to stay with the assistants and sleep in their house! 

On Tuesday morning, I had one of the most special experiences of my mission. It wasn't super spiritual because it was in the airport, but I was able to tag along with Elder Rose, Elder Daines, and the secretaries, to see of President Rodriguez and his family at the airport! I felt totally out of place since I don't work in the offices of the mission but it was such a cool experience!! I also got to meet President Cahoon and his wife in the airport and instantly knew that they were called by the Lord to guide this mission! I was the 5th missionary they met here in the mission! Afterwards, the President and his wife wanted to go out to eat lunch and they even invited me! I felt super humbled and a little out of place! But it was great! 5 Americans, Elder Daines, Elder Rose, President Cahoon, Sister Cahoon, and I went out to eat and I loved spending time with them! I was so lucky that I happened to be the only missionary who had to renew his visa the same week as the arrival of the new President! 

On Wednesday, we had a 7 hour conference with our new presdient and it went super well. He asked each of us to share our testimonies and it was super powerful! It sure took a while to get through all 25 or so testimonies but it was truly a special moment where I could feel the love of the Savior and the truthfulness of this work. I can testify that President Cahoon is a man of God, called by him to preside this mission, I felt a ton of love from him and his wife 

The rest of the week and weekend was very hot back here in Nueva Rosita. Elder Nay and I are getting ready for his departure and the arrival of Elder Johnson. I will be forever grateful for these short 6 weeeks that I have had with Elder Nay. I look back on this change and think about all of the great people that we have found and brought to church. However, I think the most important thing that ELder Nay has shared with me has been his testimony of the Resoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Of all of the companions that I have had on the mission, nobody has had such a strong testimony of the work that Joseph Smith did to resore the gospel in these latter days. 

I am very excited to spend the canicula, or the hottest 40 days of the year with Elder Johnson! I'll tell you more about him next week! Hope all is well and have a great 4th of July!! 

Elder Shipley