Friday, October 28, 2016

Week 69

Hair cut day!
Walking home after dinner.
To the airport!
At the airport!
AY YA!  Dressing up for Halloween Zone Party
Early Morning work-out!

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was a solid week! We had a zone Halloween Party, interviews with the President, went on another trip to the airport, and had 5 different Elders sleep in our house for 3 different nights! There are always sleepovers in my house! This upcoming Wednesday night we are going to have close to 10 zone leaders in our house for the leadership council so we are going to have a party! 

Most of the pictures I sent this week are pictures with one of my best friends here in Saltillo! His name is Lalo and he is an incredible investigator! Not only do we go to his house to teach him and his family, but he is also our taxi man, workout trainer, and best ward missionary, even though he isn't a member yet! He and his wife always take us to church, take us to the airport, help us when we have to run to the immigration offices to avoid multi thousand dollar fines for having missionaries with outdated visas... etc. Don't worry, we always compensate him for his gas and time but it's way fun to spend time with him. 

Also, since he and his family live 5 houses down from us on the same street, we also have time in the morning to work out with him! Lalo used to be a police officer and had dreams of being in the military so he is basically ripped. At 5:30 every morning, Elder Lopez and I get up and go running with him and then spend a good 40 minutes doing rather intense body weight workouts that have left me so sore I could barely walk and my companion vomiting.

Elder and Sister Lugo, my financial trainer on the mission, found Lalo and his wife Gabi looking for a place to eat lunch. Turns out that Lalo and Gabi had wanted to go to church for long time because they always see the chapel but never knew how to go for the first time. Turns out, Elder Lugo ate in their restaurant and then invited them to listen to the missionaries.   Because of a lagging divorce we are still waiting their baptism. However, they have told us that if they could be baptized tomorrow, they would do it in a heart beat. Elder Lopez and I will spend a long time planning their baptism and making it the best of our missions! 

Lalo and Gabi invited over 10 members of their families to a family home evening with the hope that the rest of the family will also listen to the missionaries and starts going to church! It was such an awesome experience to see them share what they have learned over the past couple of months about prayer, scripture study, fasting, sabbath day observance, the restoration of the gospel, and the power of the Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

It is truly a pleasure, privilege, and blessing to be able to share the gospel with them and watch them invite others unto Christ. Every time they mention that their goal is to be married in the temple for time and eternity is the most joyful moment of my week. I love the mission! 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Week 69 - The Saltillo Office Revolution!

 Jeffrey and Elder Lopez eating sushi - Jeffrey says..."not my favorite, but my companion wanted it!"
 Jeffrey and Elder Lopez always on the phone.  "#secretarylife" 
 Random guy on the street who lives in Kent, Washington
 Yep...secretary life.  Canceling bus tickets...almost midnight.
 Just in case you didn't see the time in the first picture...
Birthday celebration for Elder Lopez and Elder Robinson

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are all doing well! Elder Lopez and I are doing really well! We are really enjoying our time in the offices and we are calling our time here together in the offices, ''The Saltillo Office Revolution''. Turns out, little by little, the offices have become rather unorganized and we have taken it upon ourselves to organize the offices and make everything run smoothly. For the past months or even years, the mission has been missing some important email accounts and computer programs. We have also been accidentally paying for the bus tickets of the Mexico, Monterrey West mission on a few occasions and the houses in the mission are generally suffering vital items including quality mattresses and hot water heaters. However, we are up to the challenge and excited to help the offices and the mission be in top shape by Christmas! Our goal is to help revolutionize the offices and make the mission be as best as possible!
I had a random experience this week.  Elder Lopez and I were returning to our house after a lesson and this guy said hi to us and wanted to talk to us in the street. So we went over to him to meet him. He told us he was a returned missionary that served in Argentina and that he now lives in KENT, WASHINGTON and is studying and working. He was born in Saltillo but lives super close to my family in Washington!  How cool!! 
I am truly thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord and serve the wonderful people of Mexico. I truly love the people and work every day so they can be more happy through the teachings of Jesus Christ! I know He lives and that He loves us! I know that if we show our love to the Lord by serving others and following His commandments, we are truly happier! 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Week 68 -Good Bye Lugo's

 Don't Study and eat at the same time?
 The office picture.  
 The relaxed office picture
At the bus stop with the Lugo's

Family and Friends,

This week went by way too fast! I feel like I just wrote home yesterday and amazes me that another week passed by. The highlights of this week (since last Friday) of course include the last weekend of Elder and Sister Lugo here in the mission and leaving them in the airport, a couple of unexpected conversations with old friends, and a very obvious and immediate testimony of the blessings of keeping the Sabbath Day holy. 

This past weekend was crazy busy! I was spending every minute I could in the offices with Sister Lugo so she could pass me every last drop of financial wisdom. I was calling her day and night asking for instructions and advice to handle the never ending To Do list. Then, on Sunday night, we took our last traditional Sunday night office picture, and Elder and Sister Lugo left the mission offices for the last time. On Monday morning, Elder Lopez and I went to the bus station to drop them off and say good bye for the last time. It was hard to see them leave and I miss them so much! It's always such a strange sensation to say goodbye to missionaries at the end of their mission. I have now had the privilege of dropping off close to 20 missionaries in the airport/bus station, and you can always feel a little of what they are feeling: sadness, excitement, anxiousness, joy, etc. It's truly an indescribable combination of feelings, and only a fraction of what missionaries feel when they leave I am sure. However, even though the Lugos have left  coupled with several semi-serious computer issues, we are doing well and surviving. 

Even though I felt sad on Monday morning saying goodbye to the Lugo's, I was thrilled to be able to have two very unexpected phone conversations later that day. Since I inherited Sister Lugo's ''financial secretary cell phone'', Sister Rodriguez, the wife of my ex-mission president, President Rodriguez, called to say bye to sister Lugo. Sadly, Sister Lugo had already left, so I passed to Sister Rodriguez, the contact information of Sister Lugo, but then I got to talk to Sister Rodriguez for a few minutes and it was so great to talk with her again! Then later that evening, I received a call from Utah and was a little scared to answer the phone, not knowing who it would be! However, I was super excited to talk with Elder Flores from Chihuhua, Mexico! Elder Flores, just like Sister Rodriguez, wanted to talk with Sister Lugo, so I passed him her number. Elder Flores was my first zone leader here in the mission and also my companion for my very first day in the field before I started my training with Elder Suarez.  I have always looked up to him and was super excited to talk with him and remember some of my favorite moments of my mission. 

Also, this past Sunday, Elder Lopez and I meet a man named Rodolpho at church. Rodolpho was baptized about 2 years ago but hasn't been going to church recently while looking for a job. Elder Lopez and I were super excited to meet him and happy he came for the first time in a while. At the end of the services, Rodoloph asked if we could go to his house to ask him for help with his English. We agreed and said we could pass by Monday night to get to know the rest of his family and help him with whatever he needed. 

On Monday, Elder Lopez and I realized we had a ton of work to do in the offices and decided that we weren't going to be able to go to Rodolpho's house. We called him to tell him and he told us that it was urgent so he decided to come to the offices so we could help him. Turns out, Rodolpho had scheduled a job interview on Tuesday morning to be an English teacher at a local college and needed help with his English presentation he would make on Tuesday. Elder Lopez and I helped correct a few things and worked on his pronunciation and then at the end Rodolpho said, ''man, I sure hope I get this teaching job, if I don't, I will have to leave behind my wife and teenage children and move to Mexico City to look for work''. Elder Lopez and I reassured him that if he trusted in the Lord and relied on him, everything would turn out well, regardless if he was given the job or not. 

Yesterday, Elder Lopez and I passed by Rodolpho's house and the first thing he said when he saw us was, ''They called me! I am the newest English teacher at the tech!''. He was so excited and grateful that God had provided a way for him to get the job so that he could stay with his family. Later, Elder Lopez and I mentioned that Rodolpho was able to get the job by keeping the Sabbath day holy and going to church. If Roldopho would not have gone to church on Sunday, he would not have meet us before his interview. And if Rodolpho hadn't met us before his interview, he may not have been able to get the job without our English help. This experience taught me how important it is to go to church every Sunday and keep the Sabbath Day holy, because you never know what blessings the Lord has in store. 

Have a great week!
All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Week 67

 Jeffrey's new desk!
 Jeffrey and Sister Lugo
Elder Smith and Jeffrey!

Dear Family and Friends,

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had been moved to a new area, called Valle de las Flores 2. Well, I haven't left the area, nor will I leave it for several months, but I would like to rename the area, ''Mission offices''. It seems that Elder Lopez and I never leave the offices! Every day, we have a goal to leave the offices at a certain time in the afternoon to head out and teach the Restored Gospel to the wonderful people of Saltillo, but it seems like just as we are about to leave, the whole world starts to call us about not having money in their bank accounts, needing us to buy them bus tickets, wanting us to talk to the owner of their apartment to fix a door, losing the keys to their house and then losing the copy of the keys... and it seems like every time I check off a task on my to do list, I have to add 5 more. Perhaps that is how all of those mom's feel out there who read this letter. I think I finally understand what it means to be  like a mom! It's truly an adventure here in the offices and I am really enjoying all of the new things I am learning. 

I had some really good learning experiences this weeks as financial secretary. This past week, we had the leadership council for the whole mission so 8 Elders came from the North to sleep in my house on Wednesday night! It was a blast to be with my trainee/son Elder Smith and a bunch of my friends from other parts of the mission! Elder Smith and I stayed up until 1 AM catching up on everything that has happened since we were companions, which made yesterday a really long tiring day. As part of the leadership council, the Sisters and Elders went to eat breakfast and lunch and I had the responsibility to arrange the meals and negotiate prices with the restaurant managers. It was a little stressful but everything turned out well!

Other stressful moment from the week: On Wednesday afternoon, a women stormed into the offices very upset, wanting to talk with Sister Lugo about some minor damages to an apartment. She was upset that the grass was long, that there was grease around the stove, and that the piece of plastic that holds toilet paper in the bathroom was missing in the house she was renting to the Elders..... I thought she was joking for a moment but then demanded that Sister Lugo come to the offices to talk with her. Unfortunately, Sister Lugo was busy in another part of Saltillo. After a very heated phone conversation between Sister Lugo and the owner of this apartment, then owner hung up and told me that she was going to send the police.... I didn't really know what to think but thankfully Sister Lugo told me the owner doesn't have any right to send the police or enter the house while we are renting it and just told me to keep on smiling and enjoy the experience! 

This was actually the second time an owner of an apartment has threatened to send the police to an apartment of a missionary this past week. In another house closer to the Texas border, the owner was also pretty upset and gave us 24 hours to fix the situation that a few Elders had caused and Sister Lugo and I fixed it all! I am not sure what I am going to do without her this Monday when she leaves but I will figure it out! 

The highlight from the past week was of course general conference. It was a pleasure to listen to the Apostles and Prophet for 10 hours. I listened for 6 hours in English and 4 hours in Spanish and enjoyed every moment. I really enjoyed a talk from Sunday morning, by Elder Russell M. Nelson. It is called Joy and Spiritual Survival. One could summarize his talk with the phrase, ''When the focus of our lives is Jesus Christ and His Gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening, or not happening, in our lives''. 

In his talk he mentioned that, ''A dear colleague recently told me of his past two decades of heavy trials. He said, “I have learned to suffer with joy. My suffering was swallowed up in the joy of Christ.”
He followed by asking several deep and introspective questions that we should all consider, 

''What will you and I be able to endure as we focus on the joy that is “set before” us? What repenting will then be possible? What weakness will become a strength? What chastening will become a blessing? What disappointments, even tragedies, will turn to our good? And what challenging service to the Lord will we be able to give?'' 

That phrase, ''Suffering with Joy'' really stood out to me and has a very deep meaning. During our time on Earth, we all have trials that are actually for our good. Life is hard and stressful because that is how it was designed to be! We have an eternal destiny and potencial, to be able to reach it, we need to learn how to suffer with joy in our Savior Jesus Christ. I invite each of you to read this talk and savor the words of Elder Nelson. 

I promise that each of us will be able to find more joy in the difficult moment that life presents if we remember that the Savior is the focus of our lives. As they say in Spanish, ''Pase lo que pase, sea lo que sea'', Happen what may, be what it may, let's find joy in Chirst. 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley