Friday, March 17, 2017

Week 89

Hanging in the office
Bird poop AGAIN!
New Elder from Guatemala named Jeffrey!
Before the baptism!
Baptism/Confirmation of Lalo, Gabi and Renata!
At the Wedding dinner
Selfie with the Bride
Missionaries with the bride and groom.
Bride and Groom and Jeff
Wedding party!

I am going to try to write a letter to describe everything that has happened the past 7 days but I don’t know if I will have time because so much has happened! This past week we welcomed new missionaries, helped with transfers, cried when old missionaries went home, had Elders in our house all week sleeping over, celebrated my birthday, went to a wedding, had the most special baptism of my mission, and wow I am so tired!   I have only slept like 6 hours a day for the past week but it has been awesome! 

This past week was highlighted with the wedding and baptism of Lalo, Gabi, and Renata! They got married and baptized on my birthday this past Saturday! I hope you can all check out the pictures we took because it was so awesome!!! Lalo and Gabi wanted to get civilly married in the church so they could get baptized right after and it was perfect! A local judge came to the stake center and they held the ceremony in the social hall at the church. All of the missionaries from our ward  put on matching ties and it was a blast. The wedding itself was pretty short and boring, in fact, I couldn’t even hear most of the words that the judge said but I was just relieved that they were married so they could be baptized. 

The awesome part is that over 50 of Lalo and Gabi’s family members went to the stake center for the wedding. Right after the wedding was over, we invited all of the family members and members of the ward that attended to pass into the chapel room for the baptismal service and it was so special. We had over 120 people present for the baptismal service including our mission president, his wife, and the stake president. We heard fabulous talks, a moving welcome given by the president of the young women’s organization, and a touching musical number by the young women that would have made anybody cry. 

To finish the services, Lalo and Gabi shared their testimonies about the long 7 months it took to get baptized. They talked about how they started listening to Elder Zapatero and Elder Briones and how they started making changes in their lives. They stopped smoking, drinking, going to parties, started praying as a family, and going to church amongst other things. Lalo described the joy he has felt as something indescribable, a joy that fills him to the point that he wants all his family to experience it as well. He said that with his baptism he truly feels clean of all his past errors and has turned a new page. Gabi told us that she wanted her wedding to be in the church so that all her family could be with her in church so that they could feel the peace and calmness that the spirit brings with the hope that they can learn about Jesus just like her. 

I think the most impressive and personal moment of the baptism that I experienced was when Lalo, Gabi, and Renata had just barely gotten out of the wedding clothing and changed into white baptism clothes. Almost everyone else was sitting down in the chapel 
waiting for them and they were alone in the hallway. I walked out to the hallway and saw all three of them hugging and crying right next to a beautiful portrait of Christ. I will never forget seeing all three of them dressed in white and hugging. It truly represented the patience, hard work, and love that they gave to feel such perfect joy. It was the most special birthday gift that I have ever received, seeing some of my best friends take their first step towards becoming an eternal family. 

All love!

Elder Shipley 

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