Monday, December 30, 2013

I Know I Will See Her Again

First of all, let me say that I had a wonderful Christmas. Thank you to all that thought about me and made it so special. I am so thankful for that celebration of the Savior, the time to really remember Him, especially as the events of the week unfolded. My best friend, Chelsea Larsen, passed away this week in a car accident. In many ways it still seems so unreal. I love her so much and miss her tremendously. We were 10 years old and in the 4th grade when we met. We became friends really quickly. We even lived in the same neighborhood and rode the bus to and from school together. Throughout the years, she was an amazing friend and example to me. We took on the world together... elementary school, junior high, high school. We conquered together... graduated high school. We travelled... we took that road trip we'd planned for so long. I am so grateful for the time that Heavenly Father gave me with her. I know that she was truly a gift from Him to me, Chelsea B, and Hayley and all else who knew her. As I've been reflecting the past few days, I am simply filled with gratitude. I have been so blessed. I miss her, but I KNOW that I will see her again. I know this with all my heart. This knowledge brings so much joy and I feel excited for that day when we will be reunited. She may not physically be there when I come home in 13 months, but she is with me now. I will always carry the memories of her with me and all the things that I have learned from her. I know that she will be there waiting for me when my work here on this earth is done as well. I know she's here beside me supporting me now. I know she is with her mother, something that she really looked forward to. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Him suffering for each of us, we can push through this time. I know that He has felt any pain or sorrow that you or I are now feeling. I know that as we reach out to Him and Heavenly Father in prayer, that they will support us and take away some of the pain. They have already done this for me. This has been reconfirmed to me as I've studied Luke 22 and 23 in the Bible and also Alma 7:11-12 in the Book of Mormon... "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." I know because of what Jesus Christ did, Chelsea and each of us will overcome death. I am filled with peace at this time because of Him and the knowledge I have of Him. Yes, this is hard, but I also know that it's necessary, and that it's okay because Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us. This is part of the plan and it will all be okay. I WILL see her again. I will, I will, I will. I know that when Chelsea, Hayley, and I are reunited that she'll be right there too. I know that when we put our arm out for her in pictures, as we so often do for whoever is missing, she'll fill it even if we can't see her there. How amazing are the works of God. I can really see His hand in my life preparing me for all the events of this week. He's taking care of me and I know He will take care of each of us as we move forward, making it possible to endure whatever comes our way. I know we will each see Chelsea again.
All My Love,
Sister Shipp

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

What a crazy time of year! It really has been an amazing week. I've seen Heavenly Father blessing us in so many ways. I am so grateful for all the love that has been extended to me by each of you this Christmas season as well. There was one night I came home to 3 packages. It's going to be a good week! We get to open all those packages Wednesday and then Thursday we are going to the LA temple for my companion's birthday. YEAH. Best place ever :)
I wish I could just take all my experiences and put them in this email! It's so hard to describe everything in words. Here we go.
We found a new investigator Tuesday. He's a high school student. The Spirit was so strong as we talked about the Restoration.
We had our mission Christmas devotional on Wednesday. Only part of the mission was there, but I was able to see a lot of missionaries from my last district in Ventura. My companion and I also sang with 2 other sisters. Talk about nerve-racking... We made it through though! There is such strength that comes from missionaries gathering together, especially as we remembered the Savior and His life.
Our investigator, Sharron, came to Relief Society activity this week. It was a really nice dinner. It was a miracle she came. Really. We were so grateful to see her there and enjoy the evening with her.
This week was also exchanges! I was able to be companions with Sister Randall for 24 hours. It was amazing. I learned a lot from her as we worked together and discussed missionary work :)
I received flowers from my family on Friday, which was a nice surprise! That night we had a Family Home Evening with a couple about Patriarchal blessings. It was amazing. I was able to testify to them that I know Heavenly Father knows each one of us and loves us. He wants us to succeed and He will help us!
We had a good lesson about prophets with one of our other investigators! Yay! Her daughter was also there who is investigating the church as well.
My mission President, President Castro, and his family surprised us by attending our ward's Sacrament Meeting yesterday. It is always such a treat to see him and his family. They are some of the best people I know.
Today, we were blessed to go to the 99 cent store just as one of the men in our ward was there. He was baptized a month ago. We were able to talk with him and found out his father passed away last night.
Heavenly Father directs our lives if we allow Him to. I know that we were led to that store so we could comfort our brother. I know that He's led me to California for a reason, I see it more and more each day. I know He will lead you as well.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Sister Shipp

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Greatest Gift

It's been a good, but also a little bit of a trying week! I've been pretty stressed with getting things together for Christmas, it's something I really enjoy, but also something very hard to accomplish as a missionary. I've definitely found strength in a message that my dad shared with me and also the words from the Christmas devotional last Sunday. The best gift we can give to anyone is a knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. This is a gift that will last forever. Other presents and gifts will fade, but that testimony of who Jesus Christ is, can last forever and can carry us through everything. That is what I am striving to do this Christmas as a missionary, and that is the best thing I could be doing at this time.
The fun times and miracles of the week...
-I got a few packages! One of which was a small Christmas tree from my family. One of the other packages was coconut bread, ornaments, a star, and even a fancy looking cloth to cover the base of the tree. It really meant a lot to me. Sister Casper and I had quite a bit of fun decorating the tree during lunch :)
-A family from this ward went with us to visit an investigator who has really been going through a lot of trials. They sang a few songs to her (they are incredibly talented!) It really really touched our investigator, Sharon. One of the songs they sang was "Don't sit under the apple tree" which Sharon's husband who recently passed away used to sing to her. I know it wasn't coincidence they picked that song. Through them and our message about Jesus Christ, Sharon was really able to feel of Heavenly Father's love for her. We were so so grateful for Heavenly Father's hand in arranging this little gift for her!
-There's a restaurant called Texas Cattle Company in our area! We ate there Saturday night. I walked in and I was home :) no really, they have Texas license plates and lots of cute decorations. It was so fun and a little taste of home.
-We've been working a lot with members this week to help them put together a "Family Mission Plan." When we do this, we go over the message of the Restoration with them and invite them to act as investigators. It has been amazing and we've really had some incredible experiences. Nothing brings the Spirit quite like the message of the Restoration does.
Each and every week I reflect and write my emails, I am amazed and humbled by the amazing experiences that has really built me as a missionary and a person. I am so blessed by all the experiences and companions I have had.  I know that Heavenly Father knows me and loves me. I know that Jesus Christ knows and has experienced all that I have and will. I know that He is able to carry us through every single thing that we go through if we turn to Him. I know that He lives today.
Sister Shipp

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Heart is Full

I am so blessed to be here in Camarillo, CA! Really. We've had an incredible week.
My companion is Sister Casper! She's from West Jordan, Utah. She's studied 3 years at the U and has 1 more semester until she will begin working on her master's in Occupational Therapy (all my in-field companions.... from Salt Lake City area and have either attended or are fans of the U.....). She will be turning 22 on December 26 :) She's great. We've adjusted really quickly to each other and have really started to teach in unity.

Last Monday was a busy busy day! Since Sister X and I were both being transferred, there were tons of packing to do! We managed to find a little time for ourselves and go to Ventura Harbor to watch the sunset. It was beautiful! One day, I'm going to go back and watch the sunset standing on the sand. We also did a little shopping! I got a Ventura shirt and a small California flag (never did I think this day would come...). The rest of the night was frantically packing. We managed to fit both of our numerous things in our small car (mini miracle!) and headed to transfer meeting. It was bitter sweet leaving, but I got to see Sisters Cusick and Anderson at the meeting. I tackled them in a hug as they entered the church building. I am so grateful I was able to see them! I got to catch up a little with Sister Anderson which is such a blessing. I miss her. And now I miss Sister X, but I know I'm forming friendships that will definitely last forever :) Sister Bennett went home to Minnesota this week. She is so grately missed! I am so grateful for the wonderful example she has been to me and the influence she has had on the whole mission as a Sister Training Leader.
I met Sister Casper and we headed to Camarillo. We ate lunch with a member. As we ate, the sister randomly exclaimed, "I know why you're here! Ana!" I guess there is a lady here from Portugal who is started to come back to church. It looks like she will be able to help me with my Portuguese and all I can talk about is the gospel... so it'll be great! After settling in, we made contact with a few people, one of which was Hugo. We taught him a brief Restoration lesson and set a return appointment. We've taught him once more since then and we are excited to continue to teach him!
The highlight of Wednesday was meeting Asayo. We taught him a brief Restoration as well. When it was time to talk about Joseph Smith, my companion turned to me. Now, you have to understand, I've never recited the First Vision to an investigator in english before, my companion somehow always did that. I took a deep breath, and the words just came out. After I finished, Asayo said, "Wow. That's so cool." I thought, "Yes. It really, really is, isn't it?" We are hoping to meet with him this week!
Thursday, we had dinner with the Torgerson family. The parents grew up in Springville and actually know some of my relatives. It was so fun to figure out the relations between everyone.

The greatest miracle was Saturday. Earlier Saturday, we decided to knock a few doors. We met Maria, who is young and really open about religion. We were just finishing talking about the First Vision when her neighbor opened her door. We thought she was going to come out and leave to go somewhere. Instead, she looked straight at us and said "I'm done. Don't knock on my door, I don't want to hear it. Take it to the streets, I'm done." and slammed the door. My oh my, people's reactions... Our last stop before our ward party that night was to see Lorena, who has had a lot of interactions with the church. A family friend of hers, William, was also there. We found out Will has a lot of questions about religion! We began to answer some of them. I always get excited when people ask questions we have the answer to. We ended up having a really great talk. We are hoping to work with William and answer the rest of his questions. In the middle of all of this as well, we found out that Lorena's hold up about joining our church is her belief in the Trinity. I guess the missionaries here have been trying to figure out her concern for quite a while, and now we know :)
Church was really great yesterday. Seems like an awesome ward.
I am so incredibly grateful to be here! This may be my favorite area :)
Love y'all!
Sister Shipp

Monday, December 2, 2013

Third Transfer, Third Area

Third Transfer, Third Area

Transfers are tomorrow! I am being transferred again! So far I haven't missed a transfer meeting yet! I am going to the Camarillo 5th Ward. It's just like a 15 minute drive west of here I think! Sister Xayadeth was in Camarillo a couple transfers ago! It seems I am following in my companion's footsteps! She is going to Newberry Park. Ready for a new adventure!
Last P-Day, we went to Ventura Harbor! It was us and the 6 other Sister missionaries in my district! It was so fun! We took some fun pictures :)
We've had some disappointments this week, but I won't dwell on those. Our investigator, Jessie, is really determined to be baptized. We teach her quite a few times each week. The nurses always notice us and some have started to ask questions. They see how often we visit Jessie and they are curious to learn more! I think we're definitely making a little difference there.
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! I definitely had fun :) We had district meeting! It's always amazing to be around other missionaries. This district meeting was definitely inspired. We talked about how important it is to be your best TODAY. It's always tempting to feel like you won't reach your potential until a later date, but you can be your best today and that's what Heavenly Father wants. Not only is that what He wants, it's what the people around you NEED. Decide now to be your best today! We went over to the Jones home for Thanksgiving which is our stake president! There were a lot of people. They made us feel so welcome. We stuck around for a while and even played a game! It reminded me of home a little bit and playing catch phrase with the family, John, Alice, Grant and Thomas. Know that I miss y'all! It definitely wasn't the same, but it was a good kind of different.
I'm really going to miss this area! Our investigator, the ward, and MY COMPANION. I know I'm needed elsewhere though and I have things to learn from my new companion.
I could go through the rest of the week, but I'd rather say a few things I've learned or had brought to my mind this week.
-The reason Jesus Christ went through with His sacrifice was because of us. The way we let Him down is when we don't remember or use His sacrifice.
-Family is so important and is a blessing from God. It takes lots of work to make a good family, though. It is worth all the effort.
-Love everyone, especially those who live different lifestyles than you. They are the ones who probably need that love the most.
-I have been called to preach the gospel, just like all missionaries from this church. Trust them with your family and friends. No matter where I end up for the remainder of my mission, that call is the same. I will preach the gospel wherever I am.I hit my 4 month mark a couple days ago. As I see some of the amazing Elders and Sisters I have worked with go home tomorrow, it reminds me of just how quickly time really does go. Seize today! Make it count!
Sister Shipp

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Work Goes On!

Going into the last week of this transfer! WHAT?!?! Where did the time go! I'll find out in a week if I'm going or staying. I hope I stay.
I keep forgetting it's Thanksgiving! The life of a missionary. It's all the same, year round. Plus it's like 60-80 degrees everyday, so it's hard to remember it's the end of November! Plans just changed with transfers being next week; President is really busy trying to figure out where each missionary will go, so we are going to spend Thanksgiving with the Stake President and his family instead! They are super super nice so we are excited :)
On Tuesday, we had Zone Conference! Incredible! We did all sorts of things: President and Sister Castro spoke, we heard testimonies from the new missionaries (myself included), had lunch, had training, and got to see missionaries we don't see too often as well. It was wonderful. I learned a lot! Here are some take-aways:
-Just like Christ changed water to wine, he can change us! He didn't just turn the water into wine, but the best wine. He will transform us into our best selves if we do what He asks.
-John 4:35... The field is white already to harvest. NOW. Not in 4 months when you learn the language or the lessons.
-We are an instruments in the Lord's hand, a sickle. What kind of sickle are we? Are we sharp? Can He make a clean cut with us?
-Love the people you are talking to. Fight for them! Fighting for them means being persistent and letting them know what this message is.
It was really great seeing Hermana Coleman again. She is going home soon! Her family lives in Katy! She is the Sister I was with my first day here :) I told her to find my family. Maybe y'all can go to her homecoming? She's amazing.
We visited Jessie quite a few times this week. She is so amazing and I love her so much! She was supposed to come to church this week, but the person who was supposed to take her never came. We went by to see her that evening and she was devastated. She wants this so badly. She really loves learning and we mean a lot to her. She says that she prays for us each day: that we'll find good husbands and have good children that obey us. She's a sweetheart! She also likes to give us marriage advice (she was married 42 years).
Wednesday we saw a less active brother in our ward. He has a lot of concerns that missionaries have tried to resolve in the past. He gets hung up on little details. This was my first time meeting him, but Sister X was not excited to see him. We weren't sure exactly what we were going to do besides give him a copy of True to the Faith. I ended up just very boldly telling him that he needed to set aside time each and every day to read his scriptures and to start his study with a prayer. It suddenly became so clear to me as we talked with him. I know that his concerns will not be resolved any other way. Answers are something you have to work for. Pray and ask God, then open up the books and look. I asked him if he would and he kind of avoided the commitment, turning to my companion saying I was like an Hermana he knew a while ago. I then said, "Well, will you do it?!" He said "Wow, she really is the hammer!" He laughed and said that he would try. I promised him that as he made that time that his questions would begin to be answered and also that his relationship with his girlfriend (who is also a member) would be better. I told him we'd follow up with him as well. As soon as we got out of sight, Sister X threw her arms around me and said, "Now that's my companion!" :) We ended the night by walking through a trailer park, looking for a less active in the rain. We finally got there only to be told she didn't want anything to do with the church anymore. Really wet, we returned to the car. All you can do is laugh sometimes. We find ways to enjoy those moments.
We had the opportunity to help a Sister in our ward unload her stuff from a moving pod. Lots of heavy lifting, but it was awesome! Lots of fun.
We had lots of dinners with members this week. One family played a game with us where we drew a picture of something we were grateful for, passed it to our neighbor, and they had to guess what it was. It was a lot of fun :) Makes you feel like your home sometimes. We also had dinner with a partially less active family. The mother texted us afterward and expressed that it was a miracle that her son joined us and talked with us. She was so grateful that we had come and for the message we shared.
Saturday was an interesting day. The first man we ran into, JP, has had several missionaries come to his door. He wasn't interested, but said he'd leave us with a joke:
"It began to rain really hard, and the people began to realize there was going to be flooding. Evacuations started happening. A jeep spotted a man and told him to get in so they could leave. The man replied, "No, the Lord will provide." The water rose and the man had to go to the 2nd story of his house. A person in a boat saw him through the window. Calling to him, he told him to climb into his boat and he would take him to safety. The man replied again, "No, the Lord will provide." The water continued to rise. At this point, the man was on the highest point of his roof. A helicopter spotted him and called to him to grab the rope so they could take him to safety. Once more the man replied, "No, the Lord will provide." Well, the man drowned. He got up to the gate and met Peter. Peter asked what he was doing there. The man said "It was raining and I was waiting, I thought the Lord would provide!" Peter then said, "We send a jeep, a boat, and a helicopter! What else did you want?!" Sister X and I just laughed as we walked away. How ironic. JP is going to get there and say "Where was the truth? Why didn't you show it to me?" The response: "We sent those 16 sets of missionaries! What more did you want?"
A 12 year old in our ward took us to visit his neighbor who had asked him about the church the other day. He is going to be such a great missionary :)
I've learned a lot more about Sister Xayadeth this week! She really is incredible! We decided that after our missions, in 2015, she is going to come visit me and we are going to go to the Houston Rodeo. It'll be fun! Today, before we went grocery shopping, we took pictures in a little photo booth. It's the little things :)
Time is flying. Really, really. Thank you so much for the letters and prayers! They mean so much. I hope everyone has an amazing week. Keep trying to do and be better :)

Sister Shipp

Monday, November 18, 2013

God is Good

Highlights of the week:
We have a new investigator with a soft-set baptismal date of December 14th! Her name is Allison and she has 3 small children.
I'm getting really good at declaring (telling people briefly about the Restoration) to people in Spanish! When all else fails, hand them a card :)
I got a package from the Valentine family :) That was so sweet!
We taught several lessons to Jessie this week and they all went well! She is continually progressing!
Speaking in Sacrament meeting! I and the other 3 sister missionaries all spoke in Sacrament meeting yesterday. It was wonderful. We saw many Less Actives we have been working with come. It was a miracle.
We got so excited about finding a family who legitimately seemed interested. We set up a return appointment for the next day. The fiance' met us on our return appointment and said that his fiance' was not interested and that we shouldn't be doing what we're doing.
Funny moments:
We are experts at finding particular addresses! It seems we still have work to do because sometimes it seems like it takes quite a while. There's one address we are convinced doesn't exist. We'll try and find it again this week :)
We were trying to contact a less active last night. We got out of the car and a cat ran at Sister X who is allergic to cats, so she dodged it rubbing against her legs. At this point, I guess the cat decided we were playing a game. It started chasing us. It was following us and literally would not leave us alone. Sister X ran and jumped in the car and then it started chasing me! Like literally running at me. It eventually got distracted and so I ran into the car. Then I realized I had to get out and back my companion up. Luckily that cat had run down the street.
I wanted to spend most of this email talking about the talk I gave in Sacrament meeting yesterday.
"I never cease to be amazed by how the Lord can motivate and direct the length and breadth of His kingdom and yet have time to provide inspiration concerning one individual."
Have we ever really though about this? This God is our loving Heavenly Father. He is literally a parent to us. We learn that we are children of God in Romans 8:16-17. Because of our heritage, we have a divine potential! We can become like our Heavenly Father! THIS is why we are here!
Any parent knows that in order to teach a child to walk, you can't keep them in their arms forever. Eventually you have to even let go of their hand and try it on their own. Through it all, though, you stay right by to give them the help that they need.
In many ways, this is our relationship with our Father in Heaven. He has sent us here to learn and to grow so that we can reach our divine potential. Like a parent following close behind their newly walking child, arms extended ready to help, so is He near to us and providing CONSTANT support.
He also provides for us the way. Just this last week, I found out I had to fill out forms and get fingerprints done to obtain an FBI clearance. Looking at the instructions from the travel office, I was getting really overwhelmed. I spent most of last Monday stressing about it. On Tuesday, I received a package from my sweet mother. She sent me addressed fed-ex envelopes that I needed to send things in, the instructions more simply explained step by step, the forms I needed which she had filled out already. She even put little sticky notes with arrows telling me where to sign. She did everything that she possibly could for me and gave me instructions on the part I needed to do myself. She knew that as a missionary, I don't have time to stress over paperwork, and she provided the way for me to accomplish what was needed.
This is what Heavenly Father does for us. He knows our circumstances and He knows what we need. He has provided the way for us to be happy in this life and the world to come. This way is found in the scriptures, words of prophets and apostles, and personal revelation we receive from Him. He has given us a way to communicate with Him. Do we really understand how amazing prayer is? We are literally talking with Him. He, the Supreme Being of the universe, listens and responds to us. It's like the first 3 weeks I was at BYU. I called my mom everyday. She knew generally what I was up to, but it was up for me to fill in the details. She wanted to know how I was doing and what I was up to. Heavenly Father wants us to communicate with Him! Anything that is important to us is important to Him.
The greatest evidence that we have of His love for us is that He sent His Son. We cannot comprehend how much He loves us. His purpose is to help us to be happy. His love is always there for us no matter what. He weeps with us when we are sad, and rejoices when we are happy.  His joy comes from us. I think this line from one of my dad's emails perfectly explains it, "One of the greatest joys as a parent is watching your children grow."
We show our love for Him and gratitude for all He has given us by our choices, by following His commandments and using the tools He has given us. One of these is families! Families are a place for children to learn and to grow. They are our greatest source of joy. They are meant to bring us joy. In 3 Nephi 22:13 we read, "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of thy children." They gospel of Jesus Christ is that way that "Home can be a Heaven on Earth." The key is the Spirit. When we follow Jesus Christ and have a gospel centered home, God can be with us through His Spirit. This Spirit is the source of joy, peace, and love.
Within this church is also the authority to bind or seal families together forever. Looking back at the days leading up to my departure to BYU and later to the MTC to begin my mission as well, I am reminded of the final things my family did together. Sure, we went out to eat, went to a movie, and went to a golfing range. But the nights before I left on each occasion, what did we do? We had a Family Home Evening, my father gave me a blessing, and we had a family prayer. These final things gave us the strength to say goodbye, this time for 18 months. We could do this because of the knowledge that we have that whatever happens, we WILL be together as a family forever as we live the gospel.
I know that this church is His church. I know that through this church, families can be together forever and families are blessed in countless ways. I know that Heavenly Father is our father and loves us. I know that He did send His Son here. I know these things to be true. This gospel has blessed my life and my family more than I can describe.
Sister Shipp

Monday, November 11, 2013

Heavenly Father Understands

What a week. So it was brought to my attention that I really haven't said much about my companion! Her name is Sister Xayadeth (Sigh-uh-debt). I cannot tell you how many times I have heard her explain to people how to say it. Basically she's "X" and I'm "boat" you know, pretty great! She is from South Jordan, Utah and is a U fan as well. She is 19 and has not done any college yet. She is great and we have a lot of fun together :)
This week was humbling. I was sick Tuesday and Wednesday so had to stay in. Sister Xayadeth got sick Thursday so we basically lost 3 days this week. Being sick as a missionary makes you feel guilty; all you want to do is be out! I was feeling pretty down while Sister X was sick because I just wanted to be out. I was reading conference talks and the thought and overwhelming feeling that came over was that Heavenly Father understands. It's okay. He knows us and He knows that we have limitations, but He also knows when we are doing our best. Feeling the approval of Heavenly Father is the best feeling in the world.
So basically the week was lessons with Jessie! We taught her 4 times! She is doing so well and began to live the Word of Wisdom this week. She has so many good questions that the gospel answers. The Gospel (and specifically the Book of Mormon) answers all those questions we struggle with from one time to another! It's incredible. She still has a baptismal date of December 14th and is planning on coming to church this week! Which is especially great because Sisters Bennett, Stoker, Xayadeth, and I are speaking this week (All the missionaries serving in the Ventura 2nd Ward). All the members were encouraged to invite a friend, so hopefully they follow through! It's going to be really powerful :)
This week, we gained a couple strong potential investigators. We met the girlfriend of a new investigator! We were trying to contact her boyfriend, but met her instead. They have a Book of Mormon and have read parts of it. She seemed excited to learn more, so we will be trying to teach their family this week!

Saturday was a great day! It was so good to be working again! We went to visit a potential investigator that we found in the area book and met Rosie. She is awesome! She grew up Catholic, but then started going to a Christian church and understood concepts a lot better. She still has lots of questions though and does not attend church currently. We taught her a lot of the Restoration. She asked us where our church is and said she wanted to come and see! She wasn't there yesterday, but we are hoping to get her there this week! The rest of the potentials we contacted near her only spoke Spanish. I did my best to communicate with them. Basically I can tell them we are missionaries and what church we are from. After that, it's like a battle in my head trying to remember Spanish and keep it separate from Portuguese. I really should just start speaking Portuguese to them and see if they understand. Maybe one of these days.
I learned a lot this week! And have had some really neat experiences. I can now truly say I love being a missionary. I was struggling to be able to say that before. It's definitely a big adjustment! I've been praying for experiences that will strengthen my testimony of missionary work, and I have seen major changes in my life. I love it! I love it! Heavenly Father is amazing! I've also been beginning to realize I may not mind staying here. I love it here. This is my mission! This feeling probably came at a good time seeing as visa requirements are changing and so I've got lots of papers to fill out and more fingerprints to acquire and such. I may be here for Christmas! We shall see!
Another thing I didn't truly realized is how powerful the Restoration really is. Every member knows the story, Joseph Smith... grove of trees... lots of churches... but do we really KNOW the restoration? Do we understand the significance? I would invite each of us to really study the Restoration! Grab a Preach My Gospel! That's an excellent study source. Chapter 3, Lesson 1.
I love you all! Thanks for the prayers and the letters! They are so appreciated. More than you could know.
Sister Shipp

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ventura - Birthday Week :)

I had the best week ever. Really. Y'all are the best.
Monday after emails, I found out that we were going to go to the temple!
So Tuesday, I woke up, opened presents from my family (stickers, magnets, TX to-do list, pictures, pumpkin mix, cream cheese frosting, candles, and a book by Thomas S. Monson) as well as cards! Thanks to everyone! The thoughts really meant a lot! We studied a little bit, then left for the temple. Okay, IT'S HUGE. Like Gigantic. It was incredible. As I was sitting waiting, I was filled with SO MUCH love and gratitude to Heavenly Father for so many things. We ate at the temple cafeteria (which was awesome) and then drove home on the PCH. This area is so beautiful! It still amazes me! I love the ocean and all the different trees everywhere and the hills/mountains. Incredible! We got back just in time to head to dinner with a member of the ward. She put a candle in my piece of pie and they sang happy birthday. After that, we taught a Book of Mormon class at the church. We took an hour discussing 11 verses. After each verse, we stopped and made an application. I love that exercise because it really helps you to realize that each verse is in the Book of Mormon for a reason and you really can learn something from each detail! After that, I hurried and packed up my stuff! We did a 24 hour exchange with the Sister Training Leaders, so I got to sleep over at their apartment while Sister Bennett slept in my bed. It was fun :)
So all of Wednesday, I was with Sister Stoker. She is incredible. She is from Idaho. My goal for that day was to work on door approaches. The goal was to ask people 3 questions to get to know them. It was hard. We started off near the beach. Rejection. After rejection. After rejection. We stayed there until it was time for lunch. Before leaving, we walked down the rest of the street to look at the beach. We're not allowed to be on the sand, so we stood on a cement square and took a picture. It was so fun to be so close to the ocean though! We went to Chick-fil-A for lunch with Sister Bennett and Sister Xayadeth. Sister Bennett bought my ice cream for my birthday. The rest of the day was just knocking. I completely froze a couple times. The thing about knocking on people's doors are, once they open it, your mind has to go really fast. We practiced in the car to help me get going again. Sister Stoker acted like a person who had just opened the door. It really helped actually! I did a lot better practicing than in real life, but I could tell it helped later in the day. That night was the Trunk or Treat! We had a good turn out and had some good food as well. I was so grateful for the day I spent with Sister Stoker. I learned so much. She is an amazing example. She is so loving and so willing to help. She was able to answer lots of questions and give me ways to become even better.
Thursday was Halloween! We had District Meeting. My District found out I'm a visa waiter and also that it had been my birthday. Luckily, my District Leader had made a cake for Halloween and got everyone to sing to me as well. It was really sweet :) I have a really great district. We did more tracting afterwards. I am so much more confident talking to people now! I even pointed a guy out that we should talk to. He was raking leaves. We offered to help, but we ended up just talking. He has had a lot of interaction with the church! We had a really great conversation and invited him to read from the Book of Mormon and to pray. He didn't want to set up a return appointment, but that's okay! Planting seeds. We'll probably go see him in a couple weeks. We had to be in by 7, so while I was doing language study, Sister Xayadeth made the pumpkin bars that my family had sent me. It was awesome! I got to blow out candles as well.
Friday was weekly planning and it took most of the day. It was kind of a rough day for some reason. After a few hours of planning, the doorbell rang. It was a package. From Elder Valentine. He had led me to believe that the card and letter I received a couple days prior was all he was sending for my birthday. Wrong! What a surprise. I opened the package to find about 15 wrapped (interestingly wrapped ;) ) presents. The first one I opened was a tape recorder with instructions on what to do and a sweet birthday message. The rest of the presents included postcards, candy, a kid toy story ring, a scripture marking pen, pictures, a picture frame, a super-hero shirt, Brazil shirts from the MTC (which are impossible to find), one of his Cali shirts, a DC hoodie, and a compilation of notes and journal entries from the past couple months. Amazing. It completely turned my day around!
Saturday, we visited Brenda, a less active. She opened up to us and told us about problems her sister is having. Throughout the visit, I kept thinking of James 1:5 for some reason. I shared that scripture with her and related it back to her life. I have no idea why I needed to share that with her. Hopefully one day, I'll know!
Sunday was a good day! Maybe because of the extra hour of sleep. We ended up having an extra hour before church we hadn't planned for. It was tempting to stay at the church and just wait, but I felt like we really needed to be tracting, so we went. It didn't yield any new investigators, but my confidence really increase. We had some good conversations and I'm getting so much better at talking to people! I had really hit a road block before, it seemed. Church was good. One of our investigators came to church! Yay! First time that has happened! We also saw our investigator, Jessie. She is in a nursing home. She had open heart surgery not too long ago and lost a leg as well. She is so sweet. We taught the Plan of Salvation. She has a baptismal date for December 14. She offered the closing prayer. She prayed for us, that people would be drawn to us so we could teach them. She thanked Heavenly Father many many times for us and the messages we bring to her. She also prayed that she would be able to make her baptismal date. She's incredible.
Thanks for all the thoughts and birthday wishes! Y'all really made the week so special.
Sister Shipp

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ventura - Last Day as a Teenager!

Last day of a teenager! What? I'LL BE 20 TOMORROW.
I can't believe it. It'll eventually hit me, I'm sure.

Well, it's been an interesting week with a ton of change.

Monday was my last day in SLO. After emails, Sisters Cusick, Anderson, and I got our usual donuts, got Chipotle for lunch to celebrate my birthday, shopped, and packed, packed, packed. We had dinner with the Huber family that night. When it came time for dessert, they sang happy birthday and brought dessert with a like "20" candle. Total surprise. Thank you Sister Anderson! and the Hubers for going along with it :) It really made my day. I was feeling really stressed. We had a lesson with a family that went really well. Then we made the trek to Lee's house for the good-bye. I knew it would be hard. We visited for a little bit and then the goodbyes started. We all cried. Lee told me how much I have meant to her and how important my work here is. She was my first investigator and is definitely someone I will never forget. I finally learned how to get her crazy dog to sit. Just in time to leave, I guess. The rest of the night was packing. It was hard. I definitely came to love SLO and the people there.

Tuesday we woke up early early (4:30) to finish packing and leave for transfer meeting. We rode with the Keeps who are the people who took me to SLO in the first place. They are so nice! Transfer meeting was good, but the goodbyes were hard. I felt bad for Sister Anderson's new companion, straight out of the MTC. She was standing and watching Sister Anderson and I cry as we said our goodbyes. I told her goodbyes normally weren't like that, but that I could be shipped off any day to Brazil, so it's a little different. She was understanding. After that, it was time to jump into the routine of missionary life once again. We went to an appointment, grocery shopping, unpacked, and studied. Ventura certainly is beautiful.

Wednesday, I got to meet some of the people we regularly visit. It seems like this area may be a lot of strengthening the ward.

My district seems fun! We have the Sister Training Leaders in our district and actually in our ward as well. It's different having 2 sets of missionaries in the ward and consequently, we don't get fed as often, but that's okay. College-student-meals. We tract a lot here. Lots of knocking doors. It's amazing what you do as a missionary! I can't even remember what I thought it would be like, but I love it! I've met some incredible people this week and we've found some teaching opportunities, but I know more will come as we carry on.

I love the ward here. President Castro and his family are in the ward I am serving in as well! It is wonderful. They invited us over for Thanksgiving, welcomed me into the ward, and wished me a happy birthday. They are incredible and I love them so much. The Laws are also in this ward, which is the family I stayed with my first night in California before transfer meeting! It was good to see them again!

Reflecting back on last transfer, some reasons for my being in California have become evident. I know that I needed to meet the people that I have. I have learned so much about being a missionary and have formed friendships that will last forever.

Thank you for all your support. I've gotten many letters this week. If it seemed like it was a birthday card, I put it in the box with my unopened presents from family to open tomorrow. Y'all are the best. Really. Tomorrow might be a little hard, but I know that this work is worth it. I know this church is true and I know the joy that it brings. I want everyone to experience the joy that comes from this knowledge; from knowing that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us, that He sent His perfect Son, Jesus Christ for us, that we have a prophet on the earth to guide us, and that we can be with our families forever.

Have a good week. Love y'all!



Sister Shipp

Monday, October 21, 2013

This is Missionary Work :)

First of all: Today is the last day of the transfer! I got a call this morning, and I will begin my next transfer tomorrow in the Ventura 2nd Ward!

Sister Anderson and I really felt like the pay off for this transfer has been this past week. This transfer has been tough. We haven't seen a lot of steady progress and it takes it's toll, but this week has just been one of those weeks when it all becomes worth it!

Monday, we were walking to an area we were going to knock and this lady at a bus stop we were walking past said hi to us and asked us to come over to her. This doesn't normally happen. Usually we initiate conversation. She told us that she was baptized about a year ago and had just moved to another city and had been praying to run into missionaries. She said that after that prayer, she ran into a member who gave her the number for the missionaries and today she found us! God is so aware of each of us and really sends what we need. She hugged us multiple times.

Tuesday, we were visiting a few potential investigators and got 3 big rejections in a row. We were walking toward an apartment of a referral when we passed a man. Sister Anderson said Hi just to be friendly. He turned, took one look at us, said I'm not interested, turned, and walked away. Sister Anderson was like, "Oh, we just wanted to say hi and see how your day was going." No response. We knocked on the apartment of the lady we were trying to contact. We heard a voice come through the open window. She asked who it was and said she was busy. Sister Anderson then asked when we could come back. Silence. Sister Anderson stared at each other for a minute trying not to laugh. Finally Sister Anderson said, "Well, have a good day!" People are so funny. It's like the equivalent of someone knocking and the door and you saying "No one's home!" Oh well. Finally, we were walking back to the car from this apartment, and offered just a card of a website to this man. He looked at it and gave it back and walked away. We decided at this point it was time to try somewhere else. Later, we went to contact a referral from a lady who visited our ward on Sunday. She wanted us to visit her mother-in-law. So we went to the address she had given to us  and it was this old lady who is from the Ukraine. She thought we were Ukrainian as well. We talked to her for 45 minutes and I cannot tell you what was said. The whole time we were trying to figure out if she was really the person we were sent to contact or if it was the wrong address. We couldn't tell! We figured it had to be. She couldn't hear very well and was all over the place, so that didn't help us figure that out. We ended up leaving her with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. We walked away very confused and managed to barely hold our laughter in until we reached the car. We called the lady who gave us the referral back to tell her about the visit. We said that she thought we were from Ukraine as well. She said, "Ukraine? She's from Canada!" Obviously she'd given us the wrong address. At least we had a good story come out of it. We turned the car around to contact the real mother-in-law who was super nice and a lot easier to understand.

Wednesday we had the best District Meeting ever. I think it really changed the course of my mission. Elder Bostrom told us to picture each person as our dad, mom, sister or brother. That's what they are. They need this. They need what they have. That goes for everyone, not just missionaries. The people around you need this. They are just as much children of God as you are and mean just as much to Him. Share what you know! Anyway, we walked to our dinner appointment and knocked and no one was there. We sat on a bench swing they have in front. We sat there and contemplated what to do. Sister Anderson finally said, "Well, we got stood up for dinner. Luckily they have this swing though." They showed up 15 minutes later. We had our Book of Mormon class with Sandy. I will miss her!

Thursday, we visited with Linda in the nursing home. She is the sweetest. I remember meeting her my first week in the ICU. She's really improved since then. She is such an example to me. She always recognizes the Lord and is quick to remember that whatever trial she is going through, is part of God's plan for her and things will be made right soon. I will really miss her as well. After we visited her, we visited another member of the ward who has pets, pets, and more pets. I made the mistake of petting one of the cats and had cat hair all over my hand. Completely. Sister Anderson sat there trying not to laugh as she saw my facial expressions and somewhat discreet effort to wipe the hair off me. I hope I'm only that obvious (my dislike of pets) to Sister Anderson since she knows me so well by now. I got a package from the Merrell's :) It completely made my day and added to the feelings of joy.

Friday Sister Cusick and Sister Marchant surprised me with a cake to celebrate my birthday early since we didn't know who would still be here on my actual birthday. We lit a candle and I blew it out. They sing to me and everything. It really was so thoughtful of them. I felt so loved! The cake was delicious and super cute too. We had dinner with a family from the Philippines. Honestly some of the nicest people I have met. I think they gave me a taste of what the people in Brazil will be like. We took off our shoes by the door and she gave us slippers to wear! She'd made spaghetti ahead of time, so we warmed it up. The mom and the daughter sat and talked with us and ate a little of some soup thing while we ate our spaghetti. They kept telling us to go back and eat more. We ate a ton. And when we were done, the Sister pulled out legitimate To-Go boxes and packed the rest of the spaghetti, egg rolls, sauce, 2 onions, and some turkey she'd made earlier into a bag for us to take for later. We walked out of there to our next lesson about ready to explode. That night, we taught Alex! He's the Cal Poly student. His roommate John joined into the discussion. We taught about the Plan of Salvation and they had really really really good questions. We walked out feeling so good. We left John with a Book of Mormon. Now all 4 roommates have a copy. 3 of the 4 are agnostic. We invited them to pray. I know this is something they need! I'm so excited for them to continue. I'm sad I can't continue to teach them. They are some of our best lessons. That night, I returned home to find a package from my family! In the box, was 9 wrapped little presents I can't open til the 29th. Thanks for all the birthday thoughts so far! I've still got a week. Ahead of the game :)

Saturday, one of the Young Women came out with us for a couple hours. MIRACLES. We had planned to go to another area, but things just worked out that we knocked houses near her apartment. That was the best knocking experience I have ever had. Elizabeth did so well and had a good experience. We found Eric, Michael, and Charles. Charles is elect. Golden. He is from Kenya and is Catholic. He has so much faith and love for Jesus Christ. Our hearts dropped when we found out he is a student at Cal Poly because that means we have to eventually refer him over to the YSA Elders, but then he told us he returned to Kenya last year and got married! Yay! So that means he's our investigator. He was amazed by the amount of faith we have since he doesn't see that as something young people generally have in this culture. We had a beautiful discussion with him and left a Book of Mormon. He said he'd read it. Before we left, he offered an amazing prayer. I cannot wait to hear what happens with him this next transfer. We also met a student named Carson, who has a lot of questions about why we are here! We met so many great people that day. We also had a turn-around lesson with our investigator, Lee. We watched The Restoration video about Joseph Smith that's about an hour. It is so powerful. It completely changed her view of him and made all the difference. The Spirit was so strong. I was able to share my experience of visiting Nauvoo, Independence, and Carthage this summer. Sister Anderson and I were literally on a cloud as we had a kind of last supper with Sisters Cusick and Marchant to celebrate the end of the transfer.

Sunday, we talked with Sister Cusick and Sister Marchant after church. SISTER MARCHANT GOT HER VISA! She is actually on a plane right now to LA, then NY, then Sao Paulo, then Ribeirao Preto. The day consisted of mainly a lesson with Lee. We talked about baptism and committed her to live the Word of Wisdom. I can tell she really wants this. It's just getting her there, but I know she can do it. That night, we got a call from the Assistant's. Sister Anderson will be training this transfer. That meant we wouldn't be together. We cried and hugged as soon as we hung up the phone. This morning we got the call telling us our fate. Sister Anderson is staying in the SLO 1st Ward, Sister Cusick is staying in SLO 2nd, I'm going to Ventura 2nd Ward. It will be an adventure. I will miss SLO and the people here. Especially Sister Anderson. I have learned so incredibly much from her and will miss her terribly but I know this will be the new adventure that I need and that Heavenly Father needs for me at this time.

Carry on, Carry on, Carry on!

I love you! I hope you have an amazing week!


Sister Shipp

Monday, October 14, 2013

Miracles :)

It's been a week of some miracles! I knew some better times were coming!
Monday we took a beautiful hike up Bishop's Peak with the entire zone. Imagine 25 missionaries hiking up a small mountain. When we finally reached the top, some of the Elders loudly proclaimed scriptures from the top of the mountain. We also took lots of pictures! It was incredible. You can see all of SLO from the top. By the end, we were sweaty, sweaty, sweaty and covered with  quite a bit of dirt. It was a wonderful break from the usual schedule and it was amazing to meet some of the other missionaries in this mission!
Tuesday we had a lesson with Sarah who has some interesting beliefs. It's incredible how invested you become in lessons. It's kind of like watching a movie; something breaks your focus and you realize an hour has passed. As usual, we've elicited a number of reactions while knocking on doors. One lady answered while on the phone, we asked when we could come back, and she said "You Can't." The person on the phone laughed and she smiled and quickly shut the door. One of her neighbors answered and began to lecture us on her church and how it was the first to accept gay marriage. She was so proud of how liberal it was. Walking away from her house, Sister Anderson leaned over and said how grateful she was for a prophet today. A prophet is so important. He really keeps the church on track. It obviously states marriage is between a man and a woman in the Bible, but look at how much confusion there is about it. A prophet is one of the amazing tools and guides Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have given us in our lives because He LOVES us. That night, we had dinner with a family in the ward. Their daughter has been bringing her friend to church with her and she wants to be baptized! We are planning to start work with their family soon.
Wednesday. 1 MONTH OUT IN THE FIELD. Crazy. To celebrate, Heavenly Father decided to give me an amazing miracle. Sister Anderson and I were walking back from District Meeting when she decided she needed to go to the bathroom (I think she goes more than you, mom! It's an accomplishment on her part I guess). So we stopped at a shell station. These 2 men walked in and we figured out they were from Brazil. WE RAN INTO A MOTOR-CYCLE GANG OF BRAZILIANS AT A SHELL GAS STATION IN SLO. Tell me that is not a miracle. They are from somewhere near Rio. They flew into Las Vegas for a 22 day motorcycle ride mainly through California. I got to talk a little in Portuguese with them and tell one of them a little about the church. So amazing. It made me excited to go to Brazil again.
Thursday we had a meeting with our Ward Mission Leader and Ward Missionaries. Sister Anderson and I had really been trying to figure out how to best help this area, because as far as numbers go each week, we are struggling because it is difficult to find people to teach. It comes down to the members. Knocking on doors is just not effective here. The Lord tremendously blessed us this week of ideas to help members get more involved. The Ward Missionaries all agreed, so the work should be moving along better soon. I cannot tell you how important members are in missionary work! I am going to be such a better member missionary when I return.
Friday we did some street contacting on our way to an appointment and ran into Brandon and a couple of his friends. Brandon actually started talking to us because he had dated a member of the church for quite a while. We were able to invite him and his friends to church! Just after saying bye to them, we began to talk to a girl named Lexie, who was standing behind us waiting to cross the street. She has a background with the church as well! We invited her to church and she said she would come! She said that this is just what she needed because she'd had a really rough day. We each gave her a big hug and told her how excited we were to see her Sunday! Later that night, we had a lesson with Alex (college student as well) who is agnostic. I think he really is searching to know if there is a God. I want him to know so badly that there is! He is our Heavenly Father! He loves Alex!
Saturday we visited one of our dear member friends in a nursing home. After our sweet visit, we were leaving when 2 women in wheelchairs started talking to us in the hallway. Their old age had kind of taken their memories. One of them even asked us if we were her daughters. We helped them the best we could, then got a nurse to help them find what they were looking for. He took one of them and the other wanted to come too, so he said "come on Levon!" She said, "How did you know it was Levon?" He replied, "I took a guess!" Old people are so cute and funny. Levon turned around and called out a "Thanks girls!" as we walked away. We got Chipotle for dinner. It's probably a little sad how incredible happy it made me. Oh, well :) Sister Anderson and I really enjoyed our burritos and chips after a good week.
Sunday! LEXIE CAME TO CHURCH. It was a miracle. We had invited her to the Single's ward, which the Elders are over. We were waiting outside for her when Brittney arrived to church late and came to say hi to us. Here is the story of Brittney: 2 weeks ago, we were rushing home on foot after failing to find an apartment of a referral, so that I could get home for a full hour of Portuguese study. While walking down the sidewalk, we heard a "Hey Sisters!" We turned around and met Brittney, a member of the Single's Ward. We talked to her for a few minutes before continuing on our way. Now 2 weeks later, we explained we were waiting for an investigator and Brittney asked if we'd want someone to walk in with her. It's amazing how the Lord work. Lexie arrived, we ran to her, introduced her to Brittney (they are like instant friends and had some common friends as well), and prepped her to go into Sacrament Meeting. We heard later that she had a wonderful time and the Elders have an appointment with her Friday with Brittney as well! Miracles. Heavenly Father knew that Lexie would need Brittney far before we knew about either of them. We saw our investigator Lee, later. She is having a really hard time right now. We walked her dog, Tanner. I had only walked a dog twice before my mission... Now I can't count how many times we've walked that dog. Missionary work is walking dogs sometimes, just thought y'all should know. We returned and visited with Lee and sang what we remembered of "Be Still My Soul" and it's amazing how quickly the Spirit came and how immediately Lee calmed down.
Heavenly Father really is amazing and there are miracles all around us if we will just look around and see! Especially after hard weeks, the light comes. There's a better day ahead. Always. There is always something to look forward to.
I love you all! Thanks for the prayers. I really feel them. Have a wonderful week!

Sister Shipp

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


hit my 2 month mark on Tuesday! It's crazy it's been so long already! I've been here in SLO for almost a month!
I hoped y'all watched conference. INCREDIBLE. My companion described it, "It's like the Super Bowl for Missionaries. But Better. Like Way Better." Here are some major things I learned this week, both from conference and other experiences:

-Hope, according to Chapter 6 of PMG is an expectation, confidence or assurance something will happen. It's a step up from Faith. Our Hope is based off of our Faith (belief). When we truly believe in Jesus Christ, we will expect the blessings of His Atonement in our lives and the promises He has made to us. Esperar (Portuguese) =to hope, but also to wait and to expect.

-From exchanges with Sister Bennett this week, I learned to not be intimidating to talk to people. They should feel lucky we are talking to them. We have the most important message they will ever hear. If they don't know that, at least we do.

-ALWAYS be strengthening your testimony. Continually cling to the iron rod. This includes going to church and listening to conference. Those are ways we can receive personal revelation and always have the spirit.

-It's not where you serve, but HOW

-Bringing others to Christ blesses their life for eternity, not just the moment

-Blessings do not always come how we expect them. Often we will receive a greater capacity to change our circumstances rather than have our circumstances directly changed.

-PRESIDENT UCHTDORF's TALK was so powerful. Missionary tool! Love it!

-One of the questions I wrote down before conference was how do I get members more excited and involved? Just watch the first session of conference again. S. Gifford Nielson: What if the prophet called you? HE HAS. Pray for the missionaries and their investigators by name each day. The Lord cannot hasten the work in the manner He wants without the help of members.

-Christ's healing begins with Faith

-We chose to live in this fallen and imperfect world with trials and sickness

-If the bitter cup doesn't pass, drink it and hope for (or expect) better days to come

-Conversion comes by FIRST living it

So my week:

Tuesday. Sister Anderson and I ate a whole pizza. No big deal. Walking really racks up a big appetite sometimes. We also got lost in student housing looking for a referral. Just imagining opening lots of doors and peering through windows. It was good. We also met with Linda in her care center and met her roommate Debbie! It touched me how Debbie talked about her husband and family. It literally brought tears to my eyes the relationships she has with her family and also what a wonderful friend she is to Linda who really doesn't have family.

Wednesday was my first exchange! I was with Sister Bennett and learned so much. I really learned how to talk to different kinds of people. After all, you knock on a door and you never know the person who will answer or the response you will get from them. One of these was Bob. Bob is an atheist. He was going to close the door and I stuck out my hand and was like "Hi, I'm Sister Shipp!" Anyways. Long conversation about how he thinks there is no God. He tried to keep up an argument. Favorite moments: Sis Bennett asked how he could prove love. He was like "I feel it!" I said "Well, I feel the presence of God!" Later, he told us we were lost. Sister Bennett said, "Well, I'm usually in Ventura, so I don't really know this area... But we've got a car and a GPS so I think we're okay!"

Thursday we met a Cal Poly student named Alex who is the roommate of a referral we received a couple weeks ago. He is agnostic. We talked to him a lot about the Book of Mormon and God. We have a return appointment this week. I am so excited! We felt the Spirit really strongly.

We started making 72 Hour missionary kits for the families we eat dinner with! It includes a Book of Mormon, Pamphlets, and cards. I am really excited to continue this after all the messages about member missionaries during conference!

There are some really amazing families in our ward. One of which is the Riries which we ate dinner with last night. They reminded me of eating dinner with the Paystrups or Shipps. Miss y'all!

One thing I've learned is that you are a successful missionary when you teach with the Spirit, regardless of whether the person accepts or rejects the message. We had a lesson with a man named Ryan the past week. We both felt the Spirit so strongly talking about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. In the end, he said he didn't see how Joseph Smith could be a prophet and didn't indicate he would read the Book or Mormon. I was disappointed that Ryan couldn't see past his doubts, but I am completely confident that I delivered the message I was called to share.

I hope all is going well with each of you! I invite you to read or listen to conference again and again. There was a specific promise to the youth that as they listen, the Lord will show them the direction He wants them to take in their lives.


Sister Shipp

Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 3! It's a Roller Coaster

This week has been a week of miracles and set backs! Isn't that what missionary work is? It's a roller coaster it seems.
Monday we had a good lesson with a family about the enabling power of the Atonement. We know that this will really help the mom with the trials she is struggling with! She committed to study more about the Atonement! I know this will be a blessing in her life.
Tuesday was President's interviews. Amazing. I felt the Spirit so strongly. It was a source of spiritual strength and an uplifting time that was needed. Sister Anderson and I also received a lot of revelation for our area as well. I saw Sister Coleman again! It's nice to see her! I was able to tell her about the email she sent to my mom this past week. In my interview with President Castro, he said that as I work hard here, I will be able to keep up with the language, and when I do get to Brazil, it will be as if I've been there for a while already. 
Sister Anderson and I didn't have any letters that night, so we decided to make a feast for dinner. She made french toast with her non-hormone eggs, I made scambled eggs with hormones, cheese, and mushrooms. It was good. I love her. I feel like I've known her forever, and then I realized it's only been 3 weeks. Here are some quotes from the night:
-On a scale of 1 to eating a jar of Nutella, how depressed are you?
-Who came up with French Toast? Well, possible the french...
Wednesday we met with our investigator Lee who has a baptismal date of October 19. We sat down with her and made goals. We then broke her goals down into what she was going to do, what Sister Anderson and I were going to do to help her, and then help she needs from the Lord to complete these goals as well. We invited her to pray about these goals and ask Heavenly Father for the help that she needs. Through addressing her concerns, it became evident to me just how incredible it is how Heavenly Father has prepared me in the past for these investigators! As I talked with Lee, some of my own experiences came to mind and I was able to share these with her.
Days we don't have the car are interesting. The couple we ate dinner with offered us a ride to the church, but Sister Anderson refused. We walked like 2 miles. Quickly, with full stomachs and full bladders. I told her next time, we take the ride and walk up and down the street once to get some street contacting in :)
Thursday we had a lesson with Carl who seems to be an eternal investigator. I was impressed to share in James 2 that faith without works is dead. We were hoping that this would be the push he needs to take steps and progress, but we are not sure that it worked. We are planning on a commit or drop lesson this week. Later that day, we met Killian! He is a student at Cal Poly, so we referred him to the Elders in the Single's ward, but he seems elect. It was a blessing. We also had a short visit with Lee where we shared Matthew 5: Let your light shine. It really helped her to remember the goals that she set.
Friday morning, I was sick. It really set us back in numbers this week, but that's okay! I got rest and felt a lot better the next day. Later, we met a potential investigator, Ryan, who we have a return appointment with this Friday. We also met with Lee. who had had a really rough day and had unfortunately watched a show on TV that was not so nice about the church. We addressed her concerns and then left.
Saturday Sister Anderson was sick in the morning. We have both recovered and are doing much better. Lee cancelled our plans to attend the Relief Society broadcast together. This was really disappointing. Sister Anderson and I attended the broadcast and had many of our concerns and disappointments lightened as we listened to the words of the conference. It's incredible the revelation you receive not only for yourself, but also the area and your investigators as you invite the Spirit into your life. We felt much better after the conference and have some new direction to work on this week. I also got 4 letters each on Friday and Saturday which were the hardest days of the week. I know Heavenly Father is watching out for me, and so are you all. Letters mean so much and get me through the hard days, thank you so much!
Yesterday we visited briefly with Lee. She was dealing with a lot of medical pain, but we left her with a quick message. We are not sure where she stands at this point with being baptized on the 19th. We will follow up today.
Missionary work is hard, but I know that it is worth it! I know that miracles are coming! I love San Luis Obispo and am striving to increase that love for everyone here. I love Sister Anderson more than I can say! I feel like I've known her forever, and then I remember it's only been 3 weeks. 
The Relief Society Broadcast was so good! I am so excited for the rest of conference! I know it is such a blessing in our lives! Watch it! It's on on Saturday and Sunday. Prophets and Apostles of God are speaking. How incredible is that?

I love each of you. I know Heavenly Father loves you! He knows you perfectly and loves you unceasingly. Find one way you can follow Him and His Son a little better this week :)

Sister Maryann Shipp