Friday, January 27, 2017

Week 82 - Food!

 Goofin' off at dinner
 Party crashing the 87 year old Birthday Party!

Hey family and friends!

This was a really great week! I have never had a week on my mission with such great food! We ate with a family from Peru, a Venezuelan family, Little Caesars pizza, an all you can eat pizza buffet, and delicious Mexican food from two old ladies in our ward. This week even topped the week of Christmas 2015 when I ate Papa Johns Pizza 4 days in a row with Elder Holmes who by the way is going home on Wednesday. I hit 19 months this past week! Time is flying by!

This past week was filled with exciting events! We had a blast with my son Elder Smith and Elder Crow because they slept over this past weekend for their visas and we stayed up until 1:30 am playing one of the most intense games of Monopoly of my life!

On Monday, a member wanted us to meet a family that he knows so he picked us up and dropped us off at their house on his way to work. Little did we know that he introduced us to them during the middle of the great grandma’s 87th birthday party! We totally crashed her birthday party without trying! We had a blast getting to know them and eating their cake and are now teaching them. 

On Wednesday, we listened to the worldwide missionary training and were very surprised to hear about the new changes in the schedule of missionaries. The General Authorities made our schedule much more flexible. We can now leave our house earlier and study later in the day if we want to. We can also go to bed earlier because we don’t have to plan in the evening amongst other changes. It won’t end up affecting me that much since I work in the office every morning until 2pm, but it’s cool to see that revelation is constant and thus, things that used to be very rigid in the church, like the daily schedule of a missionary, can evolve to better fit the needs of unique cultures around the world. 

We also really enjoyed another leadership council yesterday. We took the zone leaders to eat breakfast with our convert Mara and it was so fun! Several years ago, Mara’s mom used to sell Gorditas to the missionaries here in Saltillo. Her mom also listened to the missionaries and went to church but never got baptized. On Thursday morning, she was super excited to feed 16 hungry missionaries just like her mom used to. We are ecstatic right now because we are going to the church in a few hours to see the baptism of Mara’s son Ricardo! We spent most of the week getting him ready to be baptized!

Thanks for the support! 

Elder Shipley 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Week 81

The Zone
Two giant missionaries!
Elder Marin a former companion
Elder Leon
Elder Fernandez and Jeff
Companions...Elder Lopez and Jeff

This past week went pretty well! We didn't have the most successful week with our investigators but that's okay! We received some difficult news on Monday night when Lalo and Gabi called us and said that the attorneys office that has been handling the divorce papers of Gabi moved offices and that they lost them!  We were very sad because they were so excited to get married and baptized tomorrow but now they cannot get married nor baptized because the Gabi’s divorce is not technically finalized. Lalo had been waiting since August to get his papers, and then they finally arrived last week. Right after they start planning the wedding and we announced it in church, we find out that the papers of Gabi are lost again. The papers will most likely be found in 2 to 4 weeks so we are looking at a February or March wedding. The good news is that Lalo and Gabi did not get discouraged or disappointed and rather displayed a very mature perspective. They said that perhaps there is something more they need to do to prepare so they can be ready for their special day.

The best parts of my week were lessons on Wednesday and Thursday night with a couple of wonderful families! We were with Mara and her son Oscar that got baptized a few weeks ago, and their family on Wednesday night. We were so excited that for the first time ever, after visiting their home 3 times a week for the past 2 months, Mara’s husband listened to us share a Gospel message. He was very interested in the Book of Mormon and had a lot of questions! I literally love Mara and her family! They recently opened a Gordita business and give us free food! If you want to know what Gorditas are, just google it, they are delicious. Also, we are planning on baptizing Mara's 13 year old son, Ricardo, this next Friday!

The other awesome lesson we had was with a young couple who are super cool! Pavel and his wife are both super young and love to go biking, hiking, and both speak English! Both went to college in the United States so it’s super easy to relate and talk with them! We had a wonderful discussion about religion in general, about the nature of God, and once again, the Book of Mormon. It was so cool because they already had one and it was in English! I was super surprised! We had an awesome discussion and I really hope they can come with us to church as well on Sunday! 

This week was full of ups and downs, just like every week. However, thanks to these two discussions coupled with my daily study of the Book of Mormon, my testimony has been strengthened that the Book of Mormon is true! It is a wonderful testament of Jesus Christ and His divine role as our Savior and Redeemer!

Have a great week! 
Elder Shipley 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Week 80

 Saltillo Sunset
 Elder Lopez is tired! 
 Yep...that is a pig!
 Christmas is still going strong in Salitllo!
Splits with Elder Davidson from Wyoming

Hello everyone!! I hope everyone had an awesome week! This week was about as wild as the weather here in Saltillo. Last Saturday it was below freezing so I had on my beanie, scarf, 2 sweaters, 2 winter coats, and my gloves and I was still cold! Today however reached about 80 degrees and sunny so I can’t complain about that in January.

We spent a few days in a trio with another missionary named Elder Norman who I met his first day on the mission. He arrived in Saltillo the same day as my son, Elder Smith, so he is technically my nephew. It was a lot of fun for him to sleep over for a few days but then he left on Monday morning so now Elder Lopez and I are back together alone. Also, since the President hasn’t called a new secretary to come to the office yet to be trained, Elder Lopez and I assume we are going to have a 4th change together as secretaries! We will most likely be together until my birthday in March but are excited because lots of people in our area are learning about the gospel and going to church!

Two miracles highlighted this week. We had been waiting for the first miracle for close to 5 months and the other happened all in the matter of minutes. As I have mentioned in past letters, we are currently teaching a young couple named Lalo and Gabi. Elder Lugo found them back in August and they were taught for close to 2 months by the Elders that used to be in this area. When they went home, Elder Lopez and I continued teaching them but they could never get baptized. Even though Lalo and Gabi wanted to get baptized back in September, they couldn’t, because they were waiting for a legal paper to arrive in order to finalize a couple of divorces to make marriage possible.

I am very happy to report that the long-awaited certificate of divorce arrived from Mexico City on Sunday night making their marriage and baptism possible! It was truly a miracle. They have waited so long for this one dinky piece of paper and it finally arrived! Later, on Wednesday night, with the help of the Bishop, we made plans for their wedding and baptism next Saturday! We are so excited and happy for them to finally experience the blessings that come through baptism!

The other miracle of the week was super special! We went to a teaching appointment on Monday night and knocked on the door. A young man we hadn’t meet before came out of the house and said that nobody was home and that he wasn’t very interested in listening to our message. We then asked him if he knew of someone that we could visit, who was perhaps going through challenges in his or her life. He told us to visit an older woman named Mari who lived 3 houses down.

A few minutes later we knocked on the door of Mari and an older woman opened the door. Before we even had a chance to say anything she said, ‘’Why did it take so long for you guys to knock on my door? I have been waiting for you to share your message with me’’.  I was very taken aback, since nobody has ever told me something like that here in Saltillo. She then pointed at me and said, ‘’And I already met you! Why hadn’t you come yet?’’.  I was rather speechless and amazed. Before this moment, I had never seen or talked to this older woman in my entire life. The only thing I could think of saying was asking her if we could share a message of Jesus Christ with her. Little did we know that this wonderful lady had recently lost two of her 5 daughters to cancer and is struggling to raise her grandson who has special needs. We had a wonderful discussion with her and she is now enjoying greater peace that only our Savior Jesus Christ can bring us. We hope that she comes with us to church on Sunday!

Thanks for all your support!
All love, 
Elder Shipley 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Week 79 - 2017!

 Jeffrey and Oscar
 Jeffrey, Elder Lopez, Mara and Oscar on their Baptism day.
 At the house of Laho and Gabi on New Years.
 Jeffrey, Elder Holmes and Elder Lopez at the President's house on New Years.
The wonderful family that feeds the missionaries every first Sunday of the month.
Sick on the couch.  I didn't post the outside picture!

Dear Family and Friends,

We had a wonderful baptism last week on New Year's Eve to finish 2016 and have so far had a great few days of 2017! 

I am going to talk about my week in reverse order, starting with today and finishing with last Saturday. Today we had a pretty exciting P-Day! We went bowling, grabbed hamburgers, and cleaned our house. I have gone bowling more times than I care to admit over the past few months here in the office.... but I think I am going to be pretty good when I get home... we also had two Elders in our house last night until 11pm and then they left on a 9 hour bus ride to Acuna. At the same time two Elders from Monclova arrived at our house to sleep around midnight so it seemed like the sleepover never ended... it just kept going but with different people! 

On Thursday we had the leadership council with the the zone leaders from the mission and it was pretty calm. It's always exciting to see other missionaries from all over the mission! On Wednesday afternoon, I got sick all of a sudden and slept for a couple hours on the office couch. Around 7pm, an Elder brought me a glass of water because I was thirsty. I drank it, and then ran outside to the grass outside the office and threw up! I felt way better afterward. 

The best part of this past week was the baptism of Mara and Oscar this past Saturday! It was so special to see them both make a promise with our Heavenly Father that they are going to keep his commandments and be faithful to him in order to receive such incredible blessings! Mara is super excited to go to the temple to do the work for her mom that passed away that met the missionaries for the first time almost 20 years ago but couldn't get baptized. Her testimony is so strong and she is helping the rest of her kids and her husband to feel the same love and receive the same blessings that she is currently enjoying! It is an absolute pleasure to visit her family and share the gospel with them. We never want to leave her house because we always feel the spirit and the love of our Heavenly Father and Savior when we teach there. 

Have a great week! All love, 

Elder Shipley