Friday, February 24, 2017

Week 86


Hello family and friends!!! How are you all doing!? I hope all is well back in beautiful Seattle! Today I hit 20 months on the mission! I am getting so old!

I don’t have a lot of time to write because we have a baptismal service today for Karen and her mom Rocio! We are very excited that they are going to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized! It should be an awesome baptism. I will send the pictures next Friday! 

This past week was very busy in the office. The accounting cycle for this month ends today so I have been scrambling trying to get business invoices from gas stations and restaurants all over Coahuila. Unfortunately, for the first time in my 6 months as financial secretary, I had to ask missionaries that are living in other cities if they would go to a grocery store and restaurant to get the business invoices emailed to me because the restaurant wouldn’t answer their phone and I couldn’t fix the invoice of the grocery store by phone. We had a few stressful days in the office but everything turned out well in the end. 

The best part of this past week was stake conference last weekend! This past stake conference here in Valle de las Flores was my favorite stake conference I have seen on my mission. The speakers were awesome! Our mission president, President Cahoon and his wife spoke about our Saviour and his infinite Atonement. The temple president in Monterrey and his wife also gave great talks about the importance of regular temple attendance. The stake counselors and stake president talked about enduring to the end and finding joy in this life through the gospel. However, my favorite speaker was a member of the quorum of the 70 that is from Venezuela but lives and works here in Mexico.

I absolutely loved his talks on Saturday night and Sunday. He talked to the adults on Saturday night about several principles that are very applicable to marriages. Now, I am several years away from getting married but you could say I am married (or worse haha) in the sense that I am with my companion Elder Lopez, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He taught us that we need to learn to choose the correct moments to teach and correct. He explained a great example about teaching someone how to swim and related it to a very common occurrence between husbands and wives. 

I am going to try to explain the example like he explained it. Imagine that you were teaching someone how to swim but that this person didn’t know how. Naturally, someone who doesn’t know how to swim would start to flail, freak out, and drown in the water. Now if you were the teacher, swimming near the drowning pupil, would you start to teach the student to move your arms in circular motions and your feet up and down to propel you forward, hoping that he or she somehow learns to swim even though they are floundering and struggling for air?

After the congregation laughed for a few moments he said that the answer is, of course, no! If you were the instructor, what do you need to do to effectively teach the pupil how to swim? You need to rescue the pupil, calm him or her down, and then after they feel safe, teach the art of swimming. 

He then related this example to everyday life and said that often husbands and wives (or college roommates, mission companions, siblings, etc.) look to teach correct behavior in inopportune moments. For example, instead of trying to teach a spouse how to calm down and not get stressed out when the kids are running around the house, fighting, not doing their homework, making messes, the companion should ‘’rescue’’ his or her spouse by calming down the kids and eliminating the problem. Later, in the correct, calm moment, he or she can teach the spouse not to get mad when all of the kids are going crazy but rather to stay calm and help them one by one.
Also, I loved the part of his talk when he talked about the importance of women in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. He said that all women are daughters of our Heavenly Father and that they are very special in his eyes. He explained to us that many times, we as men, do 5 things. Of those 5 things, we do 4 things poorly, and 1 thing well. He also explained that if women do 10 things, they do 9 things well, and 1 thing wrong. However, men often focus in the 1 thing we did well and we ignore the 4 things we did poorly. Women on the other hand, often focus on the one bad thing. He told all of the sisters of the congregation that our Heavenly Father is content and happy with every righteous action and desire that they have, even if they only do 9 out of 10 things right J  and that they are never alone. He told us to be grateful for all the women in our lives and to be more willing to serve and love as they do. 

Have a great week! We are off to the baptisms! 

All love!
Elder Shipley 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Week 85

Preparation Day fun at a trampoline facility.
It's been a while since we have had horses!

Zone Conference

Hey family and friends!!  I hope you have had a great week!  Today was a really fun P-day (Preparation Day)!  We went to a trampoline place and played trampoline dodgeball and then went bowling!

This past week went really well! We had zone conference and interviews with the President which went really well. At the end of my discussion with President Cahoon, we talked about my last 3 months on the mission and I told him I want to stay in the Valley of the Flowers ward and in the office. After all, it's hard to teach an old dog (like me) new tricks (like a new ward/area) and besides, I am very happy where I am. We shall see what happens! 

Tomorrow and Sunday we have Stake Conference! We are very excited to hear talks from the Monterrey temple President and a member of the 70 from Venezuela. It should be super great! Let's hope that all of the families we are teaching go! 

The most spritual experience of the last week was a lesson with Rocio and Karen we had! Rocio is a single mom who lives with her 17 year old daughter Karen. Karen loves mutal and has a super strong testimony of the gospel. Due to Rocio's busy work schedule, they have gone to church and mutual more times than we have taught them! It is the first time in my mission that this has happened. Usually, people need us to go to their houses to teach them on several occasions, and usually with members in order for them to commit to coming to church but Rocio and Karen are super different and super special! They went to church after the first time we taught them! Also, Karen has had a broken ankle for the last month that they have been going to church and has been going to church on crutches. She loves the youth church activites so much that she even went to a stake dance on crutches! 

On Wednesday afternoon, Elder Lopez and I taught them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a few words, the gospel provides the way to be clean from sins to be able to return to live with our Heavenly Father. If we develop faith in Christ, repent of our sins, get baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and stay faithful to his commandments and seek to emulate Christ in all we do, God promises eternal life with him. We taught Rocio and Karen the plan and then invited them to follow it by repenting of their sins and getting baptized next Saturday and they accepted! We weren't sure if they were going to accept, (we never are), but were suprised when teenage Karen said, ''I know that if I get baptized next Saturday, I will make a promise to follow Christ and I will NOT fail him''. 

I was honestly blow away by the faith and conviction of Karen. It truly testified to me that we can do anything we put our minds too with the help of Christ. Never forget the comforting words in Philippians 4:13, ''I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me''. I love the mission!

Have a great week!
Elder Shipley 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Week 84

 Put Faith, put hope, put love, put Christ in your life. Some graffiti Jeffrey found.
 Mara's birthday party!
 Brother Montejo from Jeffrey's first area.  He is down in Saltillo with a successful open heart surgery.  
 Packing up Brother Montejo to move back to Corona. 
 Cute old lady names Normita.  Jeffrey is teaching their family.
The "famous" Guiterrez family.  Jeffrey met them in his first area.  Their daughter just came home from her mission and they came to visit Jeffrey in the office.

Hello Friends and Family,

I hope you have had a great week! I heard that it was snowing back in Seattle so that school was canceled! That sounded like so much fun! Many people are complaining here in Saltillo about the weather right now. They say it is way to hot in February, it is 85 degrees right now, and that it will be a very hot summer. The good thing is that I already suffered two summers of the Canicula here so I shouldn't have to suffer a third! 

This was a pretty calm week for Elder Lopez and me. We have been having terrific success in our area recently and are excited that so many people are progressing in the gospel and going to church. We are looking to baptize a girl named Karen and her mom Rocio this month! We also continue to wait for the divorces of Lalo and Gabi to be over. The good news is that the day that it's all over they will be baptized!

This past week we also found an awesome family that is super excited about the Gospel! Elder Lopez and I have very high hopes that they are going to come with us to church on Sunday! We found them last week when we were walking in the street and we saw Mrs. Reyes sweeping the sidewalk outside her house. We offered to help her and she politely declined. We then introduced ourselves and explained that we are missionaries and that we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She was a little uncertain at first but after talking to her for a while she let us in and we had a nice discussion with her. We went back on Saturday morning to meet her husband that according to Mrs. Reyes, ''doesn't want anything to do with church'' and turns out that he really likes us and what we share and wanted us to come back the next Wednesday! 

On Wednesday, just two days ago, Elder Lopez and I had a super powerful lesson about repentance and baptism with the Reyes family. At the end of the lesson, we invited him to come to church with us, and he said, ''well, in order to repent and change to be able to get baptized and live with God someday, the first step is going to church, so we will see you there on Sunday''! He mentioned that he doesn't sleep well at night and that he wants to change so that his family can be eternal! 

Also, side note, I love the Reyes family because they have a 7 year old daughter named Natalia who is so awesome! She was the only member of her family that read in the Book of Mormon when we gave it to the family the second time we went to teach them and is super smart! Perhaps the reason I think she is so awesome because she is very similar too, and basically the Saltillo, Coahila version of my little sister Cate! I love my family! 

I am so grateful for the gospel in my life and for the good it does in the lives of the people I meet here in Mexico! It is such a privilege to share the gospel every day! 

Have a great week!
Love, Elder Shipley 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Week 83

 Ricardo on his Baptism Day!
  Baptism of Ricardo with his family

 Pizza with members
Sleepover with elders on Transfer day
 Breakfast with new missionaries at Mara's house
 Elder Miller and Elder Holmes with Jeffrey and Elder Lopez.  Middle two went home on Wed. 
Elder Marin also went home on Wednesday.  

Happy February!! 

This week was a long week with very little sleep but we did a lot of great things! This week was highlighted by changes, new and old missionaries, three nights of sleepovers, and Ricardo's baptism! 

This past Monday and Tuesday we had transfers/changes here in the mission! Here in the office we stayed exactly the same, once again! For the 4th change in a row, Elder Gallegos and Elder Franco are the assistants, Elder Ray, Elder Davidson, Elder Lopez (my companion), and I are still working in the office. We are going to hit 6 months together at the end of this transfer. This next change Elder Franco goes home and Elder Lopez is going to finish his 5th change in the office so we might see some shake up, but then again... we thought we would have seen some changes in the offices last transfer.... so we will continue working where the Lord has us!

With changes, we welcomed new missionaries to the mission and said goodbye to old missionaries that had finished their 2 years of service. I said goodbye to two ex-companions on Wednesday morning, Elder Holmes and Elder Marin. We also had missionaries sleeping in our house on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night so we ate a lot of Dominos pizza and slept very little!

My favorite part of the week was Ricardo's baptism this past Friday! Let's say it wasn't the smoothest baptimal service that I have had on my mission but it ended up being one of my favorites. The weather last Friday was really bad so we were nervous that very few people were going to go. Elder Lopez and arrived an hour early to clean the room where the service was going to be held and to check the font. We were lucky that other missionaries also baptized Friday morning so they filled up the font for us, however, they didn't tell us that church's water heater didn't work! So the water that was already in the baptismal font, when we got there, was super cold! We tried to turn on the boiler to heat up the water but there wasn't any gas to power the water heaters. Elder Lopez had to baptize Ricardo in very cold water! 

Several other challenges soon presented themselves, including our mission President and his wife being the only people to arrive on time to the baptism, members that were assigned a talk that couldn't attend, and a piano that didn't work well. However, the best part is that many people eventually arrived for the baptism and it was a very spiritual experience. Ricardo may have gotten sick after his baptism.....because of the cold water..... actually he did and wasn't able to go to church on Sunday for his confirmation because he was lying in bed but that's ok! He will be confirmed this upcoming Sunday. 

Experiences like these teach me a lot! Sometimes it seems like everything goes wrong but if we focus on the things we can control and do our best, everything seems to turn out well. That's how it went in Ricardo's baptism and it was all worth it when we heard Mara share her testimony with her son that the church is true and that they are closer to being an eternal family. 

  All love!
Elder Shipley