Monday, August 29, 2016

Week 62 -Music saves the day!

 Catholic Church in Arteaga built in 1790
 Jeffrey on His apartment roof.
 A stream running though Arteaga
Luis and his family 
 Enjoying the stream

Riding in a truck with a family of "crazy kids!"

Dear Family and Friends!
This was another solid week here in Saltillo! My companion, Elder Marin, and I are really getting to know the area and finally got to meet the ward and the members yesterday in church so we are feeling more comfortable by the day. Also, we had a wonderful baptism of Luis last Saturday morning! 

Just a quick update on Luis.  Luis is 14 years old and has been attending church for the past month and decided to get baptized last Saturday! He is a great kid and has been going to church alone, walking every Sunday to attend. I have been really impressed by him and his commitment to follow Our Savior. He said the major reason why he wanted to get baptized is to receive a forgiveness of sins and to have the presence and company of the Holy Ghost to guide him every day! I love hanging out with this kid and we are working to get his parents married and attending church so they can also enjoy the blessings of baptism and the presence of the Holy Ghost. 

I want to give my parents, especially my mom, a big shout out and thank you for making it possible that I could learn how to play piano when I was in Elementary and middle school. On Sunday morning, before church started, I had an experience that made me very grateful! 

The story actually started on Saturday morning when I meet the Bishop here in the Aurora Ward. Bishop Duran only speaks to me in English to practice his near fluent English.  After the baptism, I asked the Bishop if there was a ward member that always played piano on Sundays in church or if he would like me to play. He said that usually nobody plays, so it would be great if I could pick the hymns and play on Sunday. I was totally cool with it and picked the hymns to make sure I was ready. 

On Sunday morning, we had a meeting with the ward mission leader and the Bishop walked in and told us that he had to leave to the Emergency Room because his first counselor was in critical condition. He told us, my companion and 2 other missionaries who also work in the Aurora ward, that the missionaries would have to speak in sacrament meeting with only an hour to prepare. 

The Bishop was going to ask me to speak since I am new in the ward but then remembered that I had volunteered to play piano. He ended up asking the other three missionaries to speak and I got to relax and enjoy their talks during Sacrament meeting. 

I learned about the importance of not hiding your talents and always being willing to help and serve. Perhaps, if I had not offered to play piano on Saturday morning, I would have had to give a talk on Sunday, and let's face it, nobody wants to speak in church. :) 

Many of us are blessed with unique or extraordinary skills or talents and the Lord provides a way to let us use those gifts for the benefit of others and ourselves! Always let your light shine and use your talents to bless the lives of others! Also, the Bishop told me he is going to get an electric piano to put in my house so now I will practice everyday! Also, I am quickly planning and hoping for what should be an epic 5 AM basketball game this Thursday morning between my companion and I and the Assistants before the mission leadership meeting. Let's hope we can wake up that early!

Love the mission! Hope you are all well!
Thanks for the support!
Elder Shipley 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Week 61 -Rosita, Saltillo, Monclova, Saltillo!

 Sister Hope, the owner of the sombrero
A family in Rosita 
 New friend in Saltillo and his pet snake
 Elder Shipley with Elder Daines and Elder Gallegos
 Elder Martin and Jeffrey waiting for the locksmith to open their house!
 The chapel where Jeffrey goes to church
 Another great drawn buggy in Monclova!
 Sunset in Jeffrey's area in Saltillo
The hills of Saltillo

Dear Family and Friends,

Since last Monday, I have had one crazy week! I have been in 3 different cities, slept in three different beds, gone on five bus rides, and trying to start working here in Saltillo without knowing anybody! It's been super fun, very enriching, and overall very exhausting. This week was highlighted by the visit from Elder Valenzuela of the Quorum of the 70.  He taught lots of lessons about the importance of unity, between companions, missionaries, and members. 

This week started with packing and cleaning the house in Nueva Rosita until 2 in the morning last Monday night and then the 5 hour bus ride down to Saltillo. I met my comp and we made our way to our area. My first night with Elder Marin was interesting because we realized that our door didn't work. In fact, we spent our first night together climbing through the window of the house to get back inside because the doorknob to our front door broke. We got really lucky that we left the window open! I don't know what we would have done if we had shut it! 

We quickly realized that it was going to be  tough to get to know our area.  On Wednesday morning, we had a long but very instructive training by Elder Valenzuela of the 70. We quickly realized after arriving at the house that we had shut the window and officially were locked out of our house. We spent the afternoon calling locksmiths to fix our door and got soaking wet while waiting for him to arrive. :) 

On Friday, we made our way to Monclova! I finally got to see Monclova! After 14 months on the mission, I have yet to work in the famously named, Monclovita la bella, or the beautiful little monclova (even though it is rather ugly). We had another conference with Elder Valenzuela and I really enjoyed his message. He, along with President Cahoon and the assistants have taught me a lot about unity. 

They shared great examples from the scriptures such as the account in 4th Nephi were the people were very unified and there wasn't any contention. 

3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.  

Also, there is a great verse in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 38: vs 27: 

27 Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if you are not one ye are not mine.

I learned that unity means, to be one in thought, desire, and purpose, first with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, as well as the members of the church. I would like to extend that definition and include family unity. After having unity with God, through keeping the commandments and living as the Savior lived, it's super important that we have unity as families.

 Even though I am not with my family, I learned a few things that we can all do so that there is more unity between us. I learned that there will be more family unity if we 1. Fast 2. Always show respect 3. Develop patience 4. Share spiritual experiences 5. See others as God sees them.

I really like these 5 tips, my companion and I are putting them in practice to help us develop more unity so we can better help others come unto Christ. Thank you for your love and support! I know that the church is true! And regardless of the trials we have, a broken door, travels all over Coahuila, not having power on Sunday morning, or being super tired, if we trust in the Savior, everything turns out well!

All the best!
Elder Shipley 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Week 60 - On the move again!

 Jeffrey's Zone in Rosita
 Less serious Zone picture...
 Jeffrey and Juan Mireles, a member in the branch
 "Gotta love a good hamburger!"  Dinner before the mission leadership council.
 Jeffrey and all the missionaries leaving Rosita for new areas.
 Jeffrey eating a Hershey's bar with Sister Castle in Rosita.
 Jeffrey's companion Elder Perez from Mexico City.
Jeffrey being Spiderman climbing walls.

Dear Family and Friends!
I was informed last night by the assistants that I will be leaving Nueva Rosita and am going to return to Saltillo! YAY! I am so excited to go back to Saltillo! I will miss Rosita. It is a tiny little mining town about 2 hours south of Texas where I feel like I am living in slow motion at times because it is so small. However, I have really grown to love the people and developed a lot as a missionary. 

One thing I will not miss is the heat. I will be leaving Rosita and it's 100+ degree weather every day for the 80 degree comfort of Saltillo. Also, for those of you who are fans of the sombrero pictures, they are sadly coming to an end because you don't have to wear a sombrero in Saltillo! In fact, I am heading to the zone: Valle de las Flores (Valley of Flowers), in an area called Aurora (like the Disney princess) and I am so pumped. My new companion is named Elder Marin.  He is from Mexico, I don't remember what part but we were in the same zone about a year ago in Piedras. He is a really good guy and I cannot wait to be with a Mexican companion again! 

Also, I have always wanted to be in the zone: Valle de las Flores because it is like the crown jewel zone of the mission. We are going to have the zone meetings in the chapel right behind the mission offices and the secretaries, sister training leaders, and the assistants will all be in the zone! I am a little nervous because it's a lot of pressure! But at the end of the day there really is no pressure because we are all in the service of the Lord. 

This past week, we made our monthly trip down to Saltillo for the leadership conference. I was excited to be able to learn and be taught by President Cahoon and his wife. He had previously asked us to read chapter 10 of Preach my Gospel, to prepare us so we could learn some new teaching skills and improve skills we already have. However, I was very surprised on Thursday morning when the President and the assistants started to train us about the importance of love in missionary work. 

The President explained several excellent passages about love including when the Savior asked Peter several times if he loved him. He also shared several verses about keeping the commandments and how ¨if you love me, keep my commandments¨. However, he spent the majority of his time focusing on charity and the importance that charity has in the work of the Lord. I love what it says in Moroni 7: 45 and 46:

45. And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth in truth, beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

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-
Charity is the opposite of pride, selfishness, laziness, and every negative attribute or characteristic that I can imagine.  If we have have charity in missionary work, in our relationships, and in all aspects of our lives, we will realize that is is the only way to have success and joy.  The Savior is the ultimate example of charity, including his teachings, his dealings, and his ultimate sacrifice.  President Cahoon extended to each of us the invitation to memorize Moroni 7: 45-46 and to put this most important principle into daily practice.  I extend the same invitation to my family members and friends.  Inviting you to have more love and charity towards everyone you come in contact with.
Thank you for your love and support! I love my mission!

All the best, 
Elder Shipley

Monday, August 8, 2016

Week 59

 Jeff and his friends
 The trio!
 5 missionaries out to an interview!
 Good Bye Elder Archuleta!
 Sister Hope's plate from when she lived in Washington!
 Waiting at the bus stop!  Elder Johnson is taking a nap.
Because Jeff has such soft hair and he is always happy, the other missionaries call him their mission dog!
The flour tortillas with the Galicia family.

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope all is going well back home! I am doing well here in Nueva Rosita and getting ready to start the last week of this transfer! It is likely that I will be leaving my area next week so I am going to live up this crazy cool small Mexican mining town! 

This week was interesting because I have been in a trio since Thursday morning! My companion and I have been with Elder Perez from Mexico City who is the  companion of  Elder Archuleta from Utah. He went home 1 week before the change ends so he can start playing football for the University of Utah. 

I have really enjoyed being in a trio! We have had to adjust our teaching and contacting since now we have another person. I love having a native Mexican as a comp. Usually when Elder Johnson and I have a question about Spanish or we disagree about how to say something, we have to debate and write down the question until we go home to check in the dictionary or our grammer books. Now we just say, √člder Perez, ¨how do you say (whatever)¨ and we get an immediate reply! 

Also, since he is learning English, we have been speaking a lot of English in our apartment. Elder Perez also listens to music in English to help him practice, and turns out that he only listens to Christmas music! It's been so much fun to listen to Christmas music in August with my new Mexican companion, even if Elder Johnson says it's too early just like my dad :).

Quick update on how the investigators are doing: 

The family that I was talking a lot about a few weeks ago has stopped coming to church for a few reasons like a potencial move, change of jobs, and family sickness. We are still working with them with the hope that they can progress. Also, we had two new investigators in church yesterday. One is a 30 year mother named Gloria and she was accompanied by her 13 year old daughter also named Gloria, and her 3 young babies. She actually has 6 kids but only 4 came.  Despite the difficulties that her husband is causing, she shows incredible strength and true love for her children. She said in her own words that she wants her children not to make the same mistakes that she made and she wants them to have a brighter futured centered in our Savior Jesus Christ. I really hope she continues progressing.

I love the mission! I know the work I do and the church I represent is truly the true church of God. Thank you for your continued prayers and support! I feel them every day! 
All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 58 - Humility

 Catholic Church in the town square in Muzquiz
 Near their apartment complex
A "Pulga" in the center of Rosita.  Basically a big garage sale or flee market.

Dear family and friends, 

The update this week will be short because it was just another hot, work filled week here in Nueva Rosita. However, it went by super fast because when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life (or mission). 

I felt rather humbled on various occasions this past week. I think of all of the attributes of Jesus Christ that I have developed during my mission so far, I think that my humility has been the attribute that has most grown. Perhaps, it has to do with learning Spanish and not always understanding what people saying, or worse, when they don't understand me. Perhaps, the schedule, weather, or daily rejection has been the cause. Perhaps it is a mix of all of these things.  However, I think the part of my mission that has most taught me humility is understanding our Savior and how he showed humility through his actions and ultimate sacrifice. 

I love the account of our Savior when he washed the feet of his Apostles in the Bible, 

 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 

I truly have come to understand how deep and profound the actions of our Savior were when he washed the feet of the disciples. I doubt it was a very enjoyable task, in fact, I find it to be one of the more humiliating things a human could ever to do another. However, I appreciate the act because it teaches me that if our savior, the greatest human to ever walk the Earth was willing to humble himself to such depths, then I, as one of His humble followers should be willing to be just as humble. 
Thank you for your love and support! I love the mission! Have a great week! 
Elder Shipley