Friday, September 30, 2016

Week 66 - New Adventures

 The Baeza Family in the Aurora Ward
 Edith in the Aurora Ward who helps a ton with the missionaries.
Jeffrey's new companion, Elder Lopez. 
Elder Marin (last companion) and the Lugo's.

Dear Family and Friends,

It's really strange to have your P-day on Friday!  It hasn't felt like P-day all day. Well, it's not a true day to relax because there are always things to do in the offices!  It's nice to share a p-day with the other 2 secretaries and with the assistants. We had a great basketball game this morning and then breakfast together! It has now been almost 2 weeks without writing home because I lost my P-day this past week during the transition but I will try to relate many of my recent experiences! 

I have spent the last week welcoming and orienting new missionaries and saying goodbye to of some of my very best friends on the mission who went home this past week. This Monday we had 10 new missionaries arrive to the mission and on Wednesday morning, I had the privilege to drop off 11 elders in the airport!  This week brought cool experiences when I went out teaching with a new American Elder on Monday, his first day outside of the MTC, and then to say goodbye to veteran elders on Wednesday morning. It is incredible to see how much a mission can positively impact the lives of not only the people we serve but also the missionaries themselves. It was tough to say bye to 2 ex-companions, Elder Johnson, Elder Nay, my first zone and district leaders Elder Briones, Elder Zapatero.  Along with Elder Daines, who was in my first district and was my leader for a long time, Elder Munoz who shared a ward with me for 4 months, Sister Mis, the mission nurse, and many other fabulous missionaries. The good part is I'll be able to see many of them after the mission but I will sure miss them! 

Also, my time with Elder Marin in the Aurora ward is now over, I am now with Elder Lopez in the ward, Valle de las Flores. Elder Lopez is from Puebla, Mexico, it's a large city south of Mexico City and is a really an awesome companion. Elder Lopez is the executive secretary to President Cahoon, and thus is always working in the offices with me. He speaks almost perfect English and is super funny. He has 11 months on the mission and will be 20 years old on Monday. He also speaks Japanese fairly well and used to live in Provo, Utah so that's pretty cool. 

Sadly, we don't get as much time to talk to people in the street or teach lessons as we used to have, but I know that my work in the offices is important too.  We sure do spend a lot of time in the offices. There was one day last week when I was in the offices from 9 AM to 9 PM and didn't leave the whole day! We just ordered pizza to the offices and kept on working. It was also the day that an official representative from the church came to audit our mission and we passed! I wasn't sure what was going on most of the time because Sister Lugo did most of it but it was a super long day. 

I am super excited for general conference tomorrow and Sunday. It's truly an incredible opportunity to listen to the counsels of the living prophets. It's super important that we listen to their words because what they say is truly the will of God and if we follow their counsel, it is as if we were listening to our Heavenly Father speak to all of us how we can be happy. I plan on having a list of questions written down and pay attention to the inspired words that they share with us. 

The sweetest moment from the past week was talking with my friend and ex-companion Elder Johnson about all of the people in Nueva Rosita that I knew that were baptized. On Tuesday evening, the day before Elder Johnson went home, we got to talk about a bunch of different people that we had found or helped attend church for the first time that have been baptized during the last few weeks. It was truly a special moment sharing with him the update that Gloria and her daughter, Irma and her husband, William, and others have been able to receive blessings in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I truly love the mission and all of the great moments I experience here. There are crazy fun nights when 10 Elders go home and leave behind 2 years of clothes and stories in my house to clean up and also difficult moments where I don't know what do, but I know that if I trust in the Lord and follow the Spirit and what He wants me to do, everything turns out well and I can always feel the Lord's love in my life. 

I hope you are all well and enjoying football season! Go Issy/UW/Seahawks! 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 65

 Sister Lugo - the current Financial Secretary
 Mexican Independence Day Celebration
 A ride!
 Jeffrey with a boy named Angel
 In the town of Arteaga.  The tree has a craving of a famous Mexican "crier"
Cool picture of the Arteaga sign!

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are all doing well! Elder Marin and I had a good 5th week together and we are excited to be able to enjoy this last week together before the changes next week. It's rather strange knowing where you are going to be for the next change before the current change ends. For example, in the Saltillo mission, we are notified of our changes on Monday morning after the changes ends and we have less than 24 hours to pack our bags, clean the house, and say goodbye to converts! It's super crazy and we almost don't sleep during changes. However, changes this week will be way different because I already know my next area and can spend the week saying goodbye and packing so I can sleep next Sunday night! 

I have been thinking about a comment by President Cahoon that was mentioned this morning in the meeting we had as an office staff. He directed his comment to the three Elders that are heading home next week and said, ''Your mission didn't start 2 years ago and doesn't end next week, this whole life is mission to become a follower of Jesus Christ''. 

This comment really made me reflect on my mission and that the mission is truly a blessing to be able serve the Lord and the wonderful people in Mexico and to continue on my journey to be more like Him. I love the gospel and the mission! It is such a blessing to be made instruments in his hands on a daily basis. 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Week 64 - A new calling in the Mission offices

 A "toreo" or bull ring that is never used.
 Making flour tortillas.
A favorite food now!
 Near a Catholic Church with his new companion to be in 2 weeks
Beautiful sunset with a nice backdrop. 
On splits in a field of sheep?
Playing a little street ball with the locals.

Dear Family and Friends,
We had another great week here in the Aurora! We saw a ton of progress from our investigators and were super excited to see a couple of families at church yesterday! I went on splits a couple of times this past week and enjoyed getting to know other parts of Saltillo. Tomorrow we have a zone conference and I am going to give a talk this coming Sunday (I thought I got out of it with the piano excuse but I guess not.... :) Also, I received some super big news that is going to affect me for the next 4.5 months that was really surprising!

To better explain the big news that I received this week, I want to give you a very short update how the mission offices are set up here in Saltillo. The missionaries that are working in the offices are members of the zone here in Valle de las Flores so it's always interesting to hear what they are up to. There are only 2 weeks left in this transfer and then we are going to see a ton of changes in the mission offices. 

Right now, there are two assistants to the president, one executive secretary, one materials secretary, and a senior companionship named Elder and Sister Lugo (from Queretaro, Mexico) that are working as the Financial secretary and the Secretary of Forms (registros en Spanish). In two weeks, 5 of the 6 missionaries working in the offices, all except for one of the assistants,  are going to finish their missions and head home! Basically, the mission is gearing up to see a bunch of new faces in the offices with so many experienced missionaries leaving. 

With this in mind, my companion and I have been wondering who could be the new secretaries. Then, last night, I received a call that I would be serving as the new financial secretary! 

Sister Lugo is currently the financial secretary and I am her son because she is training me to take care of the tens of thousands of pesos that the mission moves around every month to pay for the expenses of the missionaries, cost of rent, medical expenses, etc. I am super excited but also nervous! Sister Lugo  makes the mission run and answers a million phone calls a day and has a year and a half doing it! I have no idea how I am going to manage without her.... However, I am very excited to learn from her for the next month before they leave to visit their daughters in Utah.  I am confident that I am going to figure it out sooner or later. 

I also found out that Elder and Sister Lugo are planning on coming back to the mission to serve for another year and a half and return to being secretaries in January of next year. I have been told that I am going to be filling in for her, for the 4 months that they are going to be gone. I am super excited for my new comp, new responsibilities, a new P-day (FRIDAY!), and the chance to open area again. I am sad to leave the Aurora ward after only having 6 weeks there. It's a great ward with great people. 

I want to relate all of the changes that are happening in the mission with a great comment I heard on Sunday in church. The teacher during the third hour mentioned that there are a few constants in life. One is death, one is change, and one is the love that our Heavenly Father has for each of us. This change in assignment, and my time as secretary will last until probably the end of January of next year. That means that my time to be a leader here in the zone will also come to an end here in 2 weeks. That makes me sad because I really enjoy helping the zone become better disciples of Jesus Christ. I wasn't expecting it, but I know that I will come to love it because I know that is where the Lord wants me to be so I can best help the mission. Even though change can be intimidating or uncomfortable, I know that change makes it possible that we can progress and improve as followers of Christ. Thus, I am very excited and ready to continue giving it my all and loving the wonderful people here in Mexico. 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 63 - Sad, Exciting, and Joyful Experiences

 Walking the Streets!
 Another "sweet pic"!
 Jeffrey's first Zone Leaders who are now in his Zone and going home in 3 weeks.
 Jeffrey and Pedro
Reading the Book Of Mormon on a couch in the middle of a field...why not?! 
Epic Basketball game at 5am!

Dear Family and Friends,

All is well down here in Saltillo!  I want to mention a few really unique experiences I had this week. Some were filled with excitement, others were incredibly sad, and the best were filled with joy. 

First of all, I was super happy when I heard that Irma, a woman Elder Johnson and I had found and were teaching in Nueva Rosita, was baptized this past weekend! I was super excited for her! I also heard that her grandson and another person that we found  are going to be baptized this Saturday. It is very true that sometimes you reap and sometimes you sow here in mission field. 

This past Thursday morning, we also had the leadership council for the month of September. The highlight was the 5AM basketball game with the assistants and some of the zone leaders. It was a blast playing basketball with other missionaries from all parts of Latin America, (with all sorts of street rules that I had never heard of). My companion and I were sore for days.   I felt like I had just finished "2 a days" for high school football. However, it didn't stop us from working like normal and we had a successful week. 

The sad experience this week was that I attended my second funeral here in Mexico. In fact, I have now gone to more funerals during the 14 months I have on the mission than I had gone to in the 19 years I had before I started. The first time in Nueva Rosita when I gave my first funeral talk.  The second time around, I didn't have to speak, but it was most definitely a more sad experience. 

The funeral honored the late Sister Lucia, aged 76, in our ward here in the Aurora. My companion and I didn't even meet her until last Tuesday. Last Tuesday, a brother from the ward dropped us off in front of her house, which is actually one single concrete room in the middle of a dirt field. We were very excited to meet sister Lucia because she was a recent convert that was baptized 4 months earlier. We were also excited to meet here husband Pedro, who isn't a member, who committed to being baptized later in the lesson. 

It was perhaps one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had on my mission when she invited us into her kitchen, which was another room with 4 concrete walls. She mentioned that she didn't have running water or electricity. She then pointed to the corner of her kitchen and said, with a smile, ''look there's my fridge'', I looked around and was very confused wondering how a fridge could work without electricity. I then realized that the fridge she referred to, was a spot on the dirt floor that was soaked with water and on top of it, was placed a carton of milk. She said that the water keeps the milk good for a few days. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my mission when she then gave us eggs and beans to eat and I could truly feel the love that she had for us, even though we had just met her and she had very few of the essential items of everyday life. 

Sadly, just days after meeting us and sharing food with us, she got very sick and went to the hospital and passed away on Saturday evening. Elder Marin and I attended her funeral, to support her husband.   During the funeral, I noticed that there was a great difference between the members of the church, who sang hymns, shared a nice message and have knowledge of the plan of salvation. Those that weren't sure what's going to happen after this life began to cry, scream and the situation almost became violent. 

I was very grateful for the knowledge of the plan of salvation, knowing that if we follow the plan that God gave us we are going to be happy forever, and even though we all have trials and problems in this life, we can face them with calm and peace knowing that we have faith in Him. 

The most joyful moment of the week was when Elder Marin and I went on splits with 2 adult members of the ward and we were able to find an incredible family of 8, that we have been looking for for 3 weeks. We couldn't find them because they moved but after some diligent searching we found them all and I am so excited to continue teaching them! 

Thanks for all of the support, 
Elder Shipley