Friday, November 25, 2016

Week 73 Dogs!

Splits with some "older guys" in the ward.

 More Neighborhood dogs!

Closer to the doggies!
 Companions taking a much needed Thanksgiving nap!
Cool sweater vests given to the boys because they had short sleeve shirts on!

Happy Black Friday!  I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

This week, I took many pictures with several of the neighborhood dogs here in Saltillo and I have got to say that I really admire dogs! Most of them are always so happy! This past week, we had a neighborhood dog named Sparky follow us around for close to 5 hours. Sparky is a pet of one of our neighbors and for some reason was out on the street when we walked by. His owner wasn't home so he decided to follow us around the whole day! Even when we went to a teaching appointment and were inside a house teaching for an hour, we left the house and he was there patiently waiting to continue walking around with us. He was so excited to be with us! He was wagging his tail and wanted to jump on us and play!

We had quite an afternoon with Sparky. There were a few times when Elder Lopez and I had to protect him from a few mean dogs. We also had to help him cross a very busy street when we went to the mission office. He didn't follow us very closely while crossing the street and I was nervous because he almost got hit by a car and killed! After spending an hour in the office, Elder Lopez and I left and when we left, there he was again! He was wagging his tail and super excited to see us! 

Elder Lopez and I brought him back to his house around 8pm and dropped him off to his owner. She was very happy because he had followed us really far away from his house and she was worried about him. This afternoon with Sparky the dog taught me many gospel lessons. First of all, I admire the always happy attitude that dogs have! Almost nothing gets a dog mad or upset! Even if you get mad at a dog, they will be happy again and start playing with you or licking your face! We should always be happy like dogs! Being happy is a decision! Don't let the circumstances that surround you dictate your happiness! Be a light to others and make the circumstances adapt to your attitude! If we center our lives in Jesus Christ and His teachings, we can always find joy and happiness, no matter the circumstances that surround us. 

I also realized that Sparky needed our help to stay safe. I compared that to us as people needing the help of our Heavenly Father. Sparky would have been attacked by the mean dogs if Elder Lopez and I hadn't protected him. He also never would have been able to cross the street and return back home without our help on that busy street. 

Our Heavenly Father is always protecting us. He wants us to return to our heavenly home. Sometimes we are very far away from where He wants us to be, but we can return to him through repentance and changing our lives. I know that if we follow His teachings and the words of His prophets, we will be able to avoid the mean dogs, busy streets, and make it home safely. Let us be more grateful, more happy, and more obedient to those that love us and want us to return to our heavenly home. 

I hope you have a great weekend! 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Week 72! Mexican Black Friday!

 It's freezing!
 Now it's not!
 Yummy tacos in the office!
 All you can eat pancakes at IHOP for about $2.00!
 Go Seahawks!  Even in Mexico!
Christmas tree and decorations at the Mall!

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been a good week in Saltillo! I think I mentioned last week that it was getting colder and that we are now in the winter season. Well, that was true, for about 2 days it was 40 and rainy. However, since Monday, it has gotten warmer and warmer every day, and now it's about 75 and sunny! It feels like we are back in September and it's almost December. I guess that's what happens when you live in the Mexican desert. 

Today we participated in the ''buen fin'' which refers to the Mexican version of Black Friday. Here in Mexico, they have their version of ''Black Friday'', the whole weekend before Thanksgiving. They started doing it about 5 years ago to discourage people from going to Texas a week later to buy things on Black Friday to support the Mexican economy. It's sweet that we have our P-day on Friday because today we went to the mall and I bought a tie for 40% off. It was cool to see Christmas trees and decorations in the mall already! Christmas is coming up fast! 

We had a special conference this past Sunday for all of the members of the church in Mexico. Sister Mckonkie spoke in Spanish and so did President Russell M. Nelson! It was super cool to hear them speak in Spanish. Usually, we have to listen to a translation of the talks in Spanish so we actually never hear the voice of the prophet and apostles. I was a treat to hear the voice of a living apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ in Spanish! 

The overall theme of the short conference was being obedient to the commandments of God. In fact, President Nelson started his talk by saying, ''Today my message is very simple, keep the commandments of God''. It was a very powerful and direct instruction. I have a very strong testimony of obedience, both as a missionary and before I started my mission. It is often said that obedience is the first commandment in heaven. I know that in my mission, as I continue to be obedient, I am happy and teach with greater power and authority, and better invite others unto Christ. 

I also have a testimony of the blessings that our Heavenly Father gives us when we are obedient. In Mosiah 2:41, we can read the words of King Benjamin, who said, 

''And moreover, would desire that ye should  consider the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold outfaithful to the end they are received into heaventhat thereby they may dwell with God in state of never-ending happiness. remember, remember that thesethings are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it''.

I know if we strive to keep the commandments of God and repent when we fall short, we will be happier today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives. Have a great Thanksgiving! 

All the best, 
Elder Shipley 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Week 71 -Testimonies

The "secretaries" in a serious pose
The "secretaries" in a smiling pose
 Well loved and worn soles!
The secretaries and Lalo 
 Lalo, Gai, Jeff and Elder Lopez
The Elders going home...and Jeff

Dear Family and Friends,

This week went by super fast with the new missionaries that arrived on Monday, changes on Tuesday, and the departure of the old missionaries on Wednesday. I slept very little with all of the Elders in our house on Monday and Tuesday night! It's a blast being able to chat with them and catch up with them. Things got a little interesting on Tuesday night when we had a few wild Elders that had finished their missions in the house that started burning things, including a suit, and making a mess but it turned out fine. 

The big news of the week was of course Donald Trump being elected as the next President of the United States. I honestly thought that there would be a larger social impact here in Saltillo, since we are so close to Texas (about 6 hours in car) but I really haven't had any problems. Aside from a few uncomfortable questions and some drugged up teenagers shouting at me that I should go back to my country with Trump, everything has been calm. 

It has gotten a lot colder here in Saltillo. It is almost always 60 degrees or colder in my house. I'm fine though because I sleep with three blankets, sweats, a sweatshirt, and a heater on! We are staying nice and warm!
The best part of the week was church this past Sunday! We had a great fast and testimony meeting during the first hour. It's always a treat to be able to hear the testimonies of the members here in Valle de las Flores because it is such a spiritual ward! I love the people!

My favorite testimonies were shared by our investigators, Lalo and Gabi, two of my favorite people in the world! I am going to share some of my favorite quotes from their testimonies. 

Lalo mentioned that he used to belong to several groups of people that weren't always the best influence on him. He said, ''I used to be in the army, police, and even neighborhood gangs and always thought that I needed to be bigger or stronger than the rest to be able to defend myself and do my job. I always thought that having weapons or knowing martial arts were important. Now I don't need weapons to be safe because I know that the most powerful weapons that exist are prayer, patience, and love. Love and charity are really the reason why I love the gospel and I love this church. I am now part of this group, my brothers and sisters, and I have never felt so blessed or happy in my entire life''. 

While discussing the changes that Gabi has had in her life, she mentioned, ''before I started going to church, praying, or learning from the missionaries, I avoided my problems and ran away from them by doing things God doesn't want us to do. Now, I want to obey the commandments, even though I have problems, because I know that obeying the commandments brings blessings and happiness. I am now so happy and content that I could die and it would be fine, because I know that I will return to be with God. It is truly a blessing to have the knowledge that a family can be sealed together forever. Even though we aren't baptized yet, the most important thing in my life is that our family can be sealed in the temple''.

The spirit was strong as these two super investigators shared their testimonies this past Sunday. We are hoping and praying that they can be baptized this month. I cannot wait to see this wonderful family enter into the waters of baptism and receive the blessings that our Heavenly Father has in store for them. 

I love being a missionary and being able to play a small part in this great work of serving others and helping others come unto Christ!

Have a great week!
Elder Shipley 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Week 70 - Humility

The Office Staff
 It's almost Monday...Transfers, new missionaries!  AHH!
 Elder Shipley and Elder Smith...the old trainee
 Zone picture
 Fall colors
 A bird got Jeff again!  Bird Poop #2 for the mission.
Jeffrey and Elder Lopez run into kids trick or treating.
 Lot's of office love!
Birthday lunch with Elder Leon!

Dear Family and Friends,

Things are starting to get super crazy here in the office for this upcoming Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday! We are going to have 8 new missionaries sleeping in our house on Monday night and then most likely 6 missionaries that are going home will be spending their last night in the mission on Tuesday night. My companions and I have been arranging meals, new missionary trainings, airplane tickets, bus tickets, and a whole bunch of things to get ready for the changes coming this next week! It's a blast working with Elder Davidson, Elder Ray, and Elder Lopez here in the offices. 

The big downer this week was that the zone leaders that were supposed to sleep in our house on Wednesday night, including my son Elder Smith, didn't sleep in our house. I guess the assistants got jealous of all of our late night Spanish rap battles that we had in our house during last months leadership council and took all of the zone leaders to their house. Elder Lopez and I were all alone on Wednesday night and rather sad. It's alright though, next month we will invite everyone to our house for a special Christmas sleepover. 

This week went well, our goal is to get all of our office work done before lunch at 2pm everyday. It's a good goal because it helps us to leave the offices and keep on finding, teaching, and inviting people to follow Christ by getting baptized to be clean of sins. It's pretty hard sometimes because we have so much to do. Even though it's hard and there is a lot of pressure to get everything done so the mission runs smooth, I see my time in the offices as a blessing and privilege and am loving it here.

I have been thinking a lot recently about being humble and not feeling the need to be recognized for when I do a good job. As human beings, we naturally seek recognition and praise. It's a normal thing to want other people to recognize the good things we do for others or when we do a good job on a task. I have been thinking a lot about the words of the Savior that I read this week in Matthew 23, verses 10-12, when the Savior told the crowds listening him, 

''Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosever shall exalt himself shall be abased and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted''. 

I believe that humility is one of the most important attributes that we have to develop as sons and daughters of Our Heavenly Father. It really stood out to me when the Savior said that the greatest among us shall be the servant. We know that we need to follow the Savior and His words, but how can we develop humility. For many of people, myself included, it can be really hard to develop humility. However, I am grateful that King Benjamin from the Book of Mormon provides some inspired insight into how we can humble ourselves and become more like the Savior. 

In Mosiah 3:19, King Benjamin said, ''For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissve, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father''. 

What a powerful statement! In order to become more humble, we need to put off the natural man and become more like a child. We can put off the natural man daily by repenting of our sins and trying harder everyday to keep the commandments. In order to become like a child, we can be more grateful, say nicer words, offer more service, serve without the desire to be recognized, have more patience, listen more, talk less, and always act as a child or the Savior would act. 

I love this concept of the Gospel. In fact, the Savior once said that humbling oneself like a little child is necessary to be able to enter into the Kingdom of God. I have a very strong testimony of the importance of humility. I also know it is very difficult to develop. But if we trust in the Lord and always think about what a little child would do in the frustrating or challenging situations that may arise, we receive the blessing that the Lord promises in Matthew when he said we can receive the ultimate gift of eternal life with Him. 

I hope you all have a great weekend and a great week next week!

All the best, 
Elder Shipley