Friday, June 2, 2017

Week 100 - THE LAST

 Workout with Lalo and Gabi
District Picture
 Elder Alarcon - a new secretary
 The Ferrer Family from Venezuela 
 Breakfast with Zone Leaders and Mara (in the middle)
Jeffrey and Elder Lopez

Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day! 

 As many of you know, today is my last p-day on the mission which means this letter will also be the last I send home as a missionary. This past week has been very busy and very special. I attended my last office staff meeting on Monday morning with the President and yesterday attended leadership council for the last time as well. 

Just so you all know what I'll be up to these last few days, on Sunday, I will meet with President Cahoon for the last time to discuss everything I have learned and accomplished as a missionary. On Monday, I will travel across Saltillo to say goodbye to a couple of wonderful families in the Crown Ward that Elder Smith and I met and baptized a year ago. On Tuesday, I will help train the new missionaries that are arriving to the mission and say bye to Mara, Lalo, and Gabi. Later, all of the missionaries that are going home with me are invited to the President's house for dinner and then I will get on the plane Wednesday morning! It will be a long 11 hours of traveling on Wednesday but it will be wonderful to be home to see you all! 

 This past week has been a time of great reflection and gratitude. I am so grateful that I have been able to serve for the past 24 months in Saltillo, Mexico. I express my gratitude for my friends, church, leaders, and family members that have support me and helped me get to this point. Truly, I have been abundantly blessed with fabulous examples and people who inspire me to be more like our Savior Jesus Christ. Most of all, I thank our Heavenly Father that I could serve Him and sacrifice this time in my life. Truly, He could do all of the missionary work in the world all by himself, He didn't need me, but I am grateful because He gives us, flawed teenagers, the chance to participate in His eternal work. 

 I think the miracle that happened this last week was the opportunity I had to share my final testimony in the office staff meeting and the leadership council. Both times were great moments of reflection, in which I was able to measure and see the growth of my testimony. 
 During the past 24 months, I have learned patience, diligence, and humility, time and time again. I know that if we ask God to correct us and help us grow, He will help us become more like Him. I have developed a great love for others, even those I haven't met. Towards the end of my mission, I have worked hard to try to see them as our Father in heaven sees them, as His sons and daughters.

I have learned that faith requires both a belief and actions. It has never been hard for me to act in my life, but here in Mexico, I have developed a certainty that God lives, that He loves us, that He loves me. I know that Christ is my Savior, our Savior, and that through his Atonement we can overcome the sins, mistakes, trials and tribulations of this life so we can achieve our purpose, which is to have joy and be happy as eternal families.

I testify that this work is a true work. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the same church that Jesus instituted when He lived on the Earth 2,000 years ago. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God and the 12 Apostles are called of God to guide us and the world in these difficult times. These humble servants have the same Priesthood authority that Christ gave to His apostles, the same authority that Joseph Smith the prophet received. I know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God and that it is the key to finding peace in this life and salvation in the life to come. 

 It has been a privilege to share the gospel and make innumerable friends in Coahuila. It has been special to see many of them grab the iron rod, enter the waters of baptism, and receive the Holy Ghost. I know that if they, and all of us, continue to be obedient to God’s commandments, we will be able to receive eternal life and live with Him forever. 
Thank you all for your support and love. I hope you have enjoyed the weekly letters and pictures. It has been a privilege for me to write and hear from home every week. Never forget that we are sons and daughter of God, that He loves us, and that following Christ and His example is the key to this life. 

I loved my mission. It was the best and the hardest thing I have ever done. Now, like Paul once said,’’ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil wok, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever’’.  (2 Timothy 4: 7, 17, 18).

Love, for the last time, 

Elder Shipley

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