Friday, December 30, 2016

Week 78-The last post of 2016

 Christmas Eve  Dinner!
 Opening presents in the office!
 Elder Lopez in his new Washington Shirt and our families favorite book "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.
Skipping with family on Christmas Day!

Happy New Year!!  This will be the last email you receive from me in 2016!  This has been my year in Mexico!  This past week we celebrated Christmas Eve with two wonderful older ladies in our ward that treated us like we were their grandchildren!  We opened presents in the office on Christmas morning under the big tree, skyped with our families and prepared Mara and her son Oscar to be baptized tomorrow!

I really enjoyed this past December. It was filled with letters that Elder Lopez and I read every night that talked about the events that led to the birth of Jesus Christ. We went ice skating, bowling, played some great basketball games and enjoyed the gifts my family sent! Thanks! 

Elder Lopez and I have found several wonderful families that are all excited about getting baptized in the next few months. We have faith that many people will be able to make the sacred promise with our Heavenly Father to be able to be clean of sins. We are SO EXCITED to attend the baptism of Mara and Oscar tomorrow! Mara is an awesome mother of 4 kids and wants all of her kids to follow her on the path that leads to eternal life.

My favorite moment of the past week was when Elder Lopez and I invited 9 year old Oscar to be baptized with his mom this past Tuesday. He kinda looked at us for a few seconds and thought about it. He then said, ''well, I want to follow Christ and do what He did, so yes. Also, my mom is getting baptized, and I don't want her to be alone so I will be right by her side.'' The two members we invited to the lesson, his mother Mara, and even I got a little emotional when we heard this angel of a little guy express the love he has for his mom. Tomorrow is the last day of 2016 and will surely be one of the sweetest days I have had all year. 

Also, I don't have my personal 2017 goals ready to share yet.  I encourage each of you to think about a few goals that you can strive to achieve this year to improve and become more like our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. I love a quote from President Uchtdorf:  

“An old proverb says, ‘The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.  There is something wonderful and hopeful about the word now. There is something empowering about the fact that if we choose to decide now, we can move forward at this very moment."
“Now is the best time to start becoming the person we eventually want to be—not only 20 years from now but also for all eternity.”
—President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Best Time to Plant a Tree

I love this proverb and quote from President Uchtorf because it is so true! If you want to change or improve in anything, let this year be the year! For with God all things are possible.I know that God loves us and wants us to have happy lives. I know that Jesus Christ died for each of us so that we can be clean from sins and overcome the trials and struggles we have in this life. Don't be afraid to shoot for the moon this upcoming year, because if you miss, you will land in the stars. 

All love, 
Elder Shipley 

Sorry, I can't get the quoted parts to read in white!  Stephanie

Friday, December 23, 2016

Week 77 -Merry Christmas!

 The office Christmas Tree, the office secretaries, assistants and the President of the Mission
 Jeffrey and Elder Damuni, a new elder...who is going to play football at Utah State.  Yes, Jeffrey talked tons of college football with him!
 Opening their candy/letter advent that Grandma Jensen sent him.
 Free ice skating P-day activity.
 Carts out in the square.
Another favorite P-day activity...bowling!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve tomorrow and a very merry Christmas on Sunday! Tomorrow I will hit 18 months here in Mexico! I am about to begin the last 6 months! This past week has been a blast! I wish I had more time to tell you all about the awesome experiences Elder Lopez and I have had but I don't have a lot of time so I will be brief. 

First of all, we are going to have a very warm Christmas here in Saltillo! Today I wore a short sleeve shirt the whole day and got sunburned! Last year, when I was in Piedras Negras, right on the border with Texas, Christmas was pretty cold and wet. It'll sure be weird to be sunburned on Christmas.

The funniest moment of last week was when several other elders and I were in the bed of a pick up truck traveling back home after the several wards had their Christmas parties in the stake center. One elder unwisely accepted a Styrofoam cup full of beans as he was getting into the bed of the truck and during the ride back home the truck hit a bump and all of the beans flew up in the air! I ended up wiping beans off of my clothes and face the rest of the way home. It was rather uncomfortable and yucky but we all died laughing. 

The most fun moment(s) of the past week were going ice skating twice with the assistants and other secretaries. There is a free ice skating rink here in Saltillo and we have taken full advantage the last two P-days. It is quite a sight to see a bunch of missionaries in their ties skating with many locals from Saltillo who have never skated in their life. The six of us started off pretty rusty, but after a while, we had a lot of fun racing and even falling down! 

The most spiritual moment of the week was one of the most powerful lessons of my entire mission. This past Tuesday, President Cahoon and his wife came with us to teach Mara and her son Oscar. The lesson was absolutely fabulous. We talked about the plan of Salvation and the reason why we are here on the earth. Mara started crying while the President was sharing his testimony and she mentioned that she wants to get baptized so she can be a shining light for her family and help them return to God. It was such a special lesson! We are hoping that Mara can get baptized next Saturday, December 31st! That would be an awesome way to start out 2017!

Have a very merry Christmas! Thank you for your love and support!

Elder Shipley  

Friday, December 16, 2016

Week 76 - Another Busy Week

 Office Christmas Tree with the elders who work in the office!
 Sister Mata and a "very cool" Christmas tree
 Elder Villeda before he headed home.  One of Jeff's first Zone Leaders
Sister Cruz as she heads home.  She has been in the same zone for about 7 months with Jeff.

Dear Friends and Family,

This was a pretty exciting week! We had transfers again! It seemed like they were just yesterday because this transfer only last 5 weeks instead of the usual 6. We are now in the rare 7 week transfer that will last until February 1st! After this change I will only have 3 left... that is crazy! 

This week was highlighted by the arrival of 13 new missionaries! This was the largest group to arrive to the mission since September of 2015! 6 weeks after I got to the mission! There are 7 american elders in this group so it was a blast to meet them all and hear about their experiences in the MTC and before the mission. As always with transfers, we slept very little (about 15 hours in 3 days) and had a bunch of Elders sleeping in our house! We also enjoyed a delicious lunch made by Sister Cahoon that she brought to the office yesterday that was a mix of mashed potatos, stuffing, gravy, turkey, and stuffing all mixed together and cooked like a pie! It was like having Thanksgiving dinner but all mixed together and 3 weeks later! 

Right now, Elder Lopez and I are really excited that our investigator Mara and her kids are listening to the discussions and loving the gospel! They loved church the first time they went and told us they are going to go to the Ward Christmas party tonight and church on Sunday. I love sharing the teachings of Jesus Christ with such wonderful people who want to hear about Him and follow His example! 

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season! This upcoming week is the last before Christmas! Be sure to take advantage of this wonderful time to spread the love and joy of our Savior's birth! 

Have a great week!
Elder Shipley 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Week 75

Christmas Conference for the 3 Zones in Saltillo

 Special letter from William (a convert of Jeffrey's) 
 Dinner is served!
 Elder Smith and Jeffrey
 The Zone with their Mission T-shirts on
The back of the mission t-shirts!
 Elder Lopez, Elder Ray and Jeffrey with Santa Hats in the office!
Jeffrey's Christmas tree, gifts and Christmas pillowcases!  

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week was super exciting and filled with many Christmas events!!!!! We listened to the Church's Christmas devotional from Salt Lake on Sunday and on Tuesday we had the mission Christmas Conference. The three zones here in Saltillo got together and we had a blast! 

Big shout out to Sister Cahoon for making a Christmas ham that was super tasty! I felt like I was eating Christmas ham back home! We had a wonderful Christmas devotional and listened to a trio of Elders sing Christmas songs. The trio is made up of Elders from the northern 5 zones so they have spent the whole week touring the mission and singing! My son, Elder Smith, was a part of the trio and they were awesome. It was super cool that he was a part of the trio because they all slept in my house for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday night! We love sleepovers!!!

My most joyful moment of the past week was also in the Christmas concert when Elder Smith and I received letters from one of our friends who was baptized back in February of this year, William Rivas! He wrote both of us a letter to tell us that he is going to early morning seminary, went to the temple, and regularly goes out with the missionaries to visit others to prepare for his mission! I was so happy when I read that he was doing so well and is continuing to progress in the gospel! I love that kid! 

The funniest thing that has happened recently was when we had the day of service as part of the church's Christmas campaign called, ''Light the world''. We helped the mother of a Bishop from a nearby Stake move out of the house of her son and into an apartment in my area. She moved into a apartment on the third floor of the building! It was super funny because two other elders and I carried an old heavy refrigerator up three flights of narrow stairs which resulted in lots of smashed hands and strained back muscles but it was totally worth it to help out this elderly lady. Someday I'll show you guys the video of us trying to smash this fridge up the stairs and you will enjoy the groans of us sacrificing our bodies so this lady could have her fridge.

The service that we gave is part of the church's worldwide campaign to share the light and love of our Savior Jesus Christ! I encourage all of you to participate in the ''25 Ways in 25 Days'' by following this link: 
It's really cool and helps us remember the birth of our Savior! After all, if it wasn't for the Atonement of our Redeemer, the birth of the babe of Bethlehem wouldn't have matter in the first place. I close quoting a great talk from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

''There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.
I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal, Living God. None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak His name in reverence and wonder. I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth. I thank Him and kneel before His Beloved Son who reached out long ago and said to each of us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
For each of you may this be a merry Christmas. But more importantly, I wish for each of you a time, perhaps only an hour, spent in silent meditation and quiet reflection on the wonder and the majesty of this, the Son of God. Our joy at this season is because He came into the world. The peace that comes from Him, His infinite love which each of us may feel, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for that which He freely gave us at so great a cost to Himself—these are of the true essence of Christmas.''
Have a great week! 
Elder Shipley

Friday, December 2, 2016

Week 74 - It's Beginning to Look A lot like Christmas!

 Elder Holmes...last year's Christmas Companion
 Leadership Meeting
 Office Christmas tree!
 Having fun with the elders in the Zone
 Yet another pose...
 Elder Leon and Elder Shipley
 Tie Battles!
Yep...the timer went off...good try on the Zone picture!

Dear Family and Friends,

We had a good week here in Saltillo! I am super excited for this upcoming few days! Tonight, our ward is having a talent show and we are planning to take a few investigators. On Sunday night, we are going to be able to see the Christmas Devotional that the church does every year from the conference center and it is so awesome!! It really helps to bring the Christmas spirit, listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Christmas songs (in English!) and the words of the apostles and prophet. Then on Tuesday, we are going to have the three zones here in Saltillo come together for the Christmas Conference that President Cahoon and his wife have planned! I am so excited! I was in Piedras Negras last year for the Christmas conference, I can't believe it has been a year since then! 

Elder Lopez and I are really excited for this month because we have faith that we are going to see a few baptisms! We have had a slow start here in Valle two, waiting for the divorce papers of Lalo and Gabi and looking for other people, but last night, we received the news that the divorce should be finalized in about 2 weeks so that Lalo and Gabi can be married and baptized by Christmas or New Years!!! What a great Christmas present that would be! 

My Dad sent me a quote in his email this past week that I really enjoyed. Once President Hinckley quoted Jenkins Jones and said,

''Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed.  "most putts don't drop.  Most beef is tough.  Most children grow up to be just people.  Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration.  Most jobs are often dull than otherwise.  Life is like an old time rail journey--delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.  The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."  Jenkins Jones and Pres Hinckley

I think it is very applicable to a mission as well. The mission isn't perfect, isn't easy, isn't comfortable, but it is most certainly the most valuable and important thing I could be doing with my life right now. I am very grateful for the Restored Gospel and for the love of our Heavenly Father. The beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed that I experience on the mission are felt when others listen, understand, and apply the gospel in their own lives, and by doing so, changing who they and their family are. The gospel of Jesus Christ is truly miraculous and marvelous. Wonderful and life changing. It provides us with hope, peace, and love. Be sure to take the time to remember the Savior during this holiday season and all of the blessings we receive, thanks to Him. 

Have a great week!
Elder Shipley