Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Week 4!

Week 4! Time is going faster and faster! Some of the Sisters in my district now call me Sister Shippie because a couple of our teachers have. I think I keep forgetting to tell y'all that 700 missionaries entered the MTC with me on July 31. Also, no one from my district is from Utah. Neat :)

Wednesday we did some amazing stretches for our work out. It included putting our feet up against the wall, standing on our head, and running up and down stairs as well. Since we finished our cleaning assignment early, it put us ahead of schedule and I got a little power nap in! The first and probably very few of the mission I'm sure, but it was so nice! We taught Vander again that night. We taught about baptism and faith. He asked "Quando posso ser batizado?" which means when can I be baptized? BEST QUESTION EVER. We were so excited! I got a package from home that had 3 loaves of coconut bread and a big bag of Reese's! My mom is the best. Thanks so much! Still working on eating them. Roommates are in love with you and one asked for the recipe.

Thursday we had TRC again and taught the same man who is in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! We saw him during Music and the Spoken Word last Sunday and this Sunday. After the lesson, I felt a little discouraged with the language. During class we learned about setting goals and asking God for help. He told us to make a list of what we wanted to do this week. Make a plan of what you will do to accomplish those things. Then take that to the Lord and say "Okay, I want to accomplish this this week... I will do this... Will you please do _______________?" It's including God in your goals and asking Him for specific things to help. I love it. I used it during personal study and it turned the whole day around!

Friday we taught our 3rd lesson to Landon. We gave him the talk "Where is the Pavilion" that I talked about in my last email. The lesson went really well and he actually was excited for us to come back and teach him again. I found another conference talk about repentance and obtaining forgiveness from the Lord. I know that it is never too late to repent and remove any guilt you may have in your life. Pray to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. Because Jesus Christ suffered for your sins, you do not have to pay the price for them if you will repent. I testify that it is possible and it is worth it.

Saturdays here don't feel like the weekend. I learned some preterite tenses today. We planned 2 lessons today in one of our study times. I love planning lessons. I love learning about the people we are teaching and figuring out how to best help them with the questions they have or the trials that are going on in their lives. I learned today how far a simple testimony or statement of love can do for someone. I was sitting in a lesson pretending to be an investigator. Out of the whole lesson (which was a lot of great information and doctrine), the moment I felt the best was when the Elder stopped and said "I want to help you" and shared a few things that he knew. I felt so loved and hopeful and warm. Don't underestimate your testimony!

Sundays are so great! A member of the new General Young Woman's Presidency (Carol F. McConkie) came to talk to us for Relief Society and the Sunday Devotional with a Brother Stephen B. Allen was really amazing as well. So uplifting. Brother Allen really impressed upon us to live our missions in such a way that Heavenly Father will say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" at the end when we pray and ask how we did. I am really going to do that! I have 2 more weeks here, but I'm really getting excited to leave and work, work, work!

Monday. An Irmao Belchor taught our class who happens to know Elder Josh Menden! Surprise! He had some crazy stories. We talked a lot about the Holy Ghost in both classes and how to follow the Spirit. If you are trying to live in a way that you are doing good continually, don't worry about whether those thoughts are from yourself or the Spirit. Any good thought that invites you to do good and brings you closer to God is from God so ACT. Don't hesitate! We were supposed to teach Landon that night. Basically, the other sisters went over their time and the teacher was ready to leave because it was already 9 pm, but Sister Marchant told him to get back in the classroom and please let us teach him. We taught for 5 minutes, half outside the door and half standing inside the door. He read the talk we gave and thanks us immensely for it. We gave a brief lesson and gave him the other talk about repentance to read before our next lesson. After saying bye to Landon, Irmao Taylor asked how we had selected those talks. I explained that I'd been thinking a lot about Landon's needs and the Eyring talk just came to my mind. He said that he would send them to the real Landon. It impresses me how much Irmao Taylor trusts the sisters. He picked people that mean a lot to him to act as for our investigators and is actually using things from our lessons to help the real people. I cannot express how much joy I had knowing that I am part of something here. Just like Irmao Taylor trusts us with his loved ones, Heavenly Father trusts me as a missionary with His children. I cannot wait to go out and teach people.
I had an interesting experience sitting outside writing in my journal while waiting for laundry (by the way, it was the best laundry day ever... empty machines instead of fighting for one... what a small but significant blessing). An Elder came up to me and had his scriptures. I thought he was just fulfilling an assignment from his teacher to share a scripture with so many people everyday (gotta love the MTC), but I got suspicious when he was only talking to me and not my companion. He stuttered as he shook my hand, asked my name, introduced himself, and asked to share a scripture. He pulled out Mosiah 18:8-10 which talks about the promises we make at baptism, including to be willing to bear others' burdens. He then said that he felt that I was really good at this and in fact doing it right now. He testified how powerful that was and that he could feel it as he walked by me and just felt compelled to share that scripture with me. He said he hoped that it helped me in some way. He thanked me for listening, thanked me for allowing him to have this experience, and with tears in his eyes, he shook my hand and walked away. How could this Elder have known the thoughts and feelings of my heart last night and this morning? It was the Lord. I testify that God knows you. I testify that He is directing your life even if you cannot see it right now. I testify that He will guide your life more as you look to Him and ask for His help. I know He loves you and wants to help you. He wants nothing more than for you to return to His presence after this life and you can. I promise there is no greater joy than the joy that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ and following the example of Jesus Christ. I love y'all! Thanks again for the letters. Have an amazing week!

Sister Shipp

P. S.  I have not heard anything about my visa. I will either get a reassignment to somewhere in the states or my visa next Thursday or Friday, a few days before my estimated departure date of Sept 9.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week 3

Half way done with the MTC! I literally cannot believe it. This week flew by. Like I really don't know where it went. Let me tell you about it :)

Tuesday night we had our regular devotional. Rumor was that someone big was coming. I sang in the choir (along with over half of the MTC). The devotional was broadcasted to all the other MTC's as well. Apparently this is the first time they've done that. So guess who came. ELDER SCOTT. Oh man. We were so excited. I had no idea until he walked into the Marriott Center. He talked about prayer. I wanted to just share some of what he said.

-Every good thing that's happened in his life came from serving a mission

-He talked specifically to the sisters and said how much his wife's mission blessed their home

-To reach a goal never before attained, you must do things you have never before done

-Prayer is a GIFT... think about it. The most supreme being has allowed us a way to communicate with Him. What's better is He WANTS to hear from us. Get down on yours knees and don't rush.

-He sent us to this earth to succeed. That means He knows we can do it. It also means that any trials we are given are ones that we can overcome.

-Seek for His will and pray for the ability to fulfill it.

-Sometimes when we don't get an answer, it is because he wants to test us a bit. We need to keep moving forward, choose the right, and act in faith. Be patient. He WILL answer.

-Do not wait passively for an answer, act.

-Pray even when you have no desire to.

-Check out D&C 6:14-15,23 and 8:1-2,10-11

-He also left an Apostolic blessing that we would be able to learn our mission language if we put in the work.

So amazing. I am so grateful I could be here for that devotional.

Wednesday we had our first lesson with a new "investigator" (teacher pretends to be an investigator... they usually act like someone they taught on their mission). His name is Vander and he started to fall asleep during our lesson. Totally threw me off. He did the same thing for most of the missionaries in my district. He was trying to teach us the importance of asking our investigators lots of questions.

Thursday I could see that our studying has become more effective. It's kind of hard to figure out the most effective ways to study and how to be focused all the time, but we're getting better. We had our first experience with TRC that day as well. TRC is when members who speak your mission language volunteer. They come in and you teach them as a member in your language. Our first was Irmao Haynie. Oh my goodness. He was the Sweetest. We walked out feeling so much better about our abilities. He gave the closing prayer and just asked Heavenly Father to bless us. It was such a tender mercy to be able to spend 20 minutes with him. At dinner, I ran into Elder Brian Steiner! He was really concerned about his first lesson in Portuguese the next day. I told him it gets better. His classroom is down the hall from mine, so I talk to him every once in a while. It's good to see familiar faces :)

Friday we had our second lesson with Vander. Good news! He stayed awake! Better news! He said yes to being baptized! I cannot tell you what it feels like when they say yes. I cannot imagine what it will be like when it is really someone saying yes instead of your teaching pretending. We also started teaching Landon who has fallen away from the church. During gym time, I got to enjoy some sand volleyball with my wonderful district! Too fun. I love that they have volleyball stuff here. I still have some of my reflexes! I love it.

Saturday. I realized that a year ago Saturday was the day I left home for BYU. What great memories! That year changed my life forever. I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend school here in Provo, for all my experiences, and for all the people I met. I cannot wait to return to begin the nursing program! (I'm wearing scrub bottoms right now in honor of making it into the nursing program... just kidding... they're just really comfortable P-Day clothes. Everyone's jealous). Later that day, Sister Marchant and I memorized Moroni 10:4-5 in Portuguese! Now we have James 1:5, JSH 1:16-17, and Moroni 10:4-5 down in Portuguese! YAY! So great to feel like your making progress.

Sundays are the best days. It's a nice break. Relief Society was so good. Sister Torres from the General Relief Society Board came and talked to us about her mission and how it's blessed her life. We got to attend yet another New Sister's meeting. Unfortunately, this one was not as entertaining as last week's. They took a picture of all the Sisters here in the MTC. They said they were going to put it in a time capsule. Hopefully I get a hold of that picture someday. I'm wearing a brownish/grayish shirt in kind of the back corner (just a reminder to myself if that picture ever does show up in my possession). The temple walk was so nice. I walked over with my district, we found some shade, sat down, and just talked. On the way to the temple, there was a protester holding a cross, a Bible, and yelling at us. It made me sad. I don't know what point he was trying to make. All I know is I am right where I need to be doing what I need to be doing. I know what I'm doing is right and I know the message I'm going forth to share is true.

Monday. It's like a frustrating game trying to get a Brazil shirt from the bookstore here. They never have any. We found out they got a shipment in, ran over there, found out they only had XL and XXL left and the shipment had only come in 2 hours earlier. I give up. We had our second lesson with Landon. We were really just trying to get a feel for where he was and what he needed. He gave us a lot to think about. The thing about Landon is it's still our teaching pretending to be someone they know, but instead of a former investigator they had on their mission, Irmao Taylor picked someone he knows now that is struggling. This way it's more personal to both of us. It's a real person. We're praying for them. He doesn't know the outcome and neither do we. As we teach, the Spirit is present and we are hoping that it will bring ideas to Irmao Taylor as to how to help his friend. So after our second lesson, we knew we needed something different and something big for our next lesson. Sister Marchant and I talked a lot about him and kind of threw some ideas around. We took a couple minutes to ourselves to think about Landon. She looked in the scriptures while I got on The talk "Where is the Pavilion" by President Eyring popped into my head. (I love this talk so much. If you don't remember it or haven't read it, look it up on and listen to it or read it. It will be worth your time, I promise). It talks about periods of time in our life when we feel like a pavilion is covering God. He explains that God never hides from us, but sometimes a pavilion is covering us and keeps us from seeing Him in our lives. Sister Marchant and I watched it during one of our study times and feel that it is perfect for him. I'll let you know next week how this lesson goes! I'm excited!

My Portuguese is continuing to come along. I learned a lot of conjugations yesterday. I find that I have to plan less and less in Portuguese for lessons. We write down the main idea of what we want to say in English, get to the lesson, and figure out how to say it in Portuguese. It's working well. I just talk pretty slow. But hey, always improving. I love it :) I love Portuguese and I cannot wait to fluently speak it.

I've really been focusing on personal study this week. I started reading the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon. I start out with a prayer and ask to know what Heavenly Father would have me do this week. As I read, thoughts come into my mind. Most of the time it has nothing to do with what I am reading, but the fact that I am reading the scriptures shows Heavenly Father that I love Him and am trying to follow His commandments and therefore invites the Spirit. It puts me in the right mindset to listen, brings the Spirit which is the means by which Heavenly Father speaks to us, and provides an opportunity for inspiration. This week for instance, some of the thoughts were just "hey, I should write so and so." Whenever those thoughts are good, act on it. I know the Lord hears your prayers, knows your situation, and will speak to you through thoughts and feelings if you allow Him to. I love this gospel and know that it is true. It has blessed my life tremendously and I know that it will bless everyone that will accept and act on it. I know the Book of Mormon is true and will truly bring us to Christ if we will read it and make it a part of our lives. Have a good week, y'all! I think about and pray for you often.

Sister Shipp

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Week 2

Week 2:

Thank you to those who sent me letters! Seriously. Y'all are the best! It's been a crazy week here, but another great one! This P-Day has been the fastest day EVER though. Let me tell you about the week!
Wednesday! Elder Valentine came to the MTC! I ran into him Wednesday night and we got a few pictures together, with my companion OF COURSE ;) It was so amazing to see him! We also taught our "investigator Lucas" that night again in Portuguese.
Thursday! Sister Marchant auditioned for a musical number in one of the many programs, firesides, etc and SHE MADE IT. I am so proud of her :) We're still waiting to figure out when she will be performing. I might add that I was a pretty good page turner for her. We also taught Lucas for the last time. We asked him to be baptized and HE SAID YES. It was the most incredible feeling. All we could do was get to the end of the hall and kneel down to pray. We were so grateful and just had to express it. It's amazing how much you pray here. I should start counting how many times we pray each day. You really need to though. Being a missionary is hard. It's so easy to feel inadequate with the language and teaching skills (especially when you are teaching in a new language). Sister Marchant and I are always praying for the spirit and help and thanking Heavenly Father for our progress with the language and the opportunity to be here. Thursday was also the day I got cookies from my wonderful mother. Thanks mom! They were so great! I finally finished them last night. My roommates loved them as well. So here's a funny story that happened to 2 Elders in my district... they were teaching Lucas and asked if he had any questions. He asked why Nephi cut Laban's head off in the Book of Mormon. They frantically searched for the verse that says that it was better for one man to perish than a nation dwindle in unbelief in their Portuguese O Livro de Mormon. They guessed which verse it might be and asked Lucas to read it. They then said that that was why Nephi killed him and moved on. They found out later that they had him read the very verse where Nephi cut off his head instead of the intended verse. Oh, man. Good times. Yesterday Sister V and I were roleplaying and she accidentally said that Jesus Christ was the investigator's son rather than brother. It is fun learning a new language! You just have to learn to laugh.
Friday! We got our second teacher and guess what... IT'S LUCAS. Well, that's not really his name. We were SO excited and he is such a great teacher. His name is Irmao Taylor. He explained to us that sometimes the Gift of Tongues isn't the ability to speak or for the investigator to understand the words you are saying, sometimes it's that the investigator can feel the Spirit of what you are saying in their hearts. I thought that was the coolest thing. I know I'm going to need all the help I can get when it comes to actually teaching the people in Brazil. I have a goal to be able to teach all the lessons in Portuguese by the time I leave here. I'm working hard at it!
Saturday! So It's a little hard having Elder Valentine here and not knowing where he is or how he's doing since we cannot write each other while we're both here. So Saturday at the beginning of personal study, I said a prayer and included asking that I could see him soon just to see how he was doing. I looked up from scriptures a few minutes later and there he was! With his companion! Walking towards me! The church is true, y'all. It's the little things. My district played a "guess which missionary" game. The sisters drew stick figures on the board and we had to guess which missionary in our district it was. I am known as a stick figure girl balancing 10 packages on my hand. HA. People were so good at sending me things, especially the first week. Thanks again! I love to hear from y'all and see how you're doing! I almost fell asleep during the additional study times that day. It was so hard to stay awake. I taught a 15 min surprise lesson on the Restoration in class! It was such a confidence booster to see how much I could say and use the words I know to convey the message.
Sunday! Sundays are so great here. I became the Senior companion, and Relief Society was with the Primary General President, Sister Wixom. It was so great! We then had a New Sister's meeting where we learned stuff like "if you don't wear lipstick, the first thing someone looks at is your eyes and the second is your nose," how to sit and not "plop," that we should glide when we walk (Miss Congeniality much?), and that every time someone slams the door in our face we should see "Thanks for the nice breeze!" Good stuff. The essentials, you know? I saw Elder Valentine quite a bit Sunday. It's the only day we have the same schedule. It was good to see him and see how he's doing. Don't worry, we keep our distance. Sacrament meeting is largely in Portuguese and it's awesome! They call on 2 random missionaries to get up and talk for 3-5 minutes though so I have to prepare a little talk each week. One of the members of the Branch Presidency had a couple visiting from Brazil that talked to us for a little bit. The woman was actually one of his converts when he served his mission! It was so inspiring to see. Because she joined the church, there are 1000 more members. There are people waiting for me in Brazil. I cannot wait! I had my weekly interview with my Branch President. The first thing he asked was, "So how's Elder Valentine?" My heart like stopped for a second. Word gets around fast. Those darn District Leaders ;) He totally just wanted to make sure that I was doing okay with the fact we are both here. He's so sweet!
Yesterday was a little hard. We taught a "new investigator," Manuel, who is really our teacher role playing. Our lesson went totally in a different direction than planned though. We were a little bummed by how it went. I guess we just realized that there are a lot of things we still need to learn and apply to our lessons. It gets a little frustrating sometimes. Today has been the perfect follow up though. We went to the temple this morning. After, Sister Marchant and I have been so happy! Even through doing laundry (which is probably the worst thing about the MTC by the way).
The Lord will bless you. After that hard lesson with Manuel, I was reading in 1 Nephi 17 where he says that the Lord will provide a way for you to accomplish what He commands. He has called me to be a missionary and to speak Portuguese which means there's a way, and I CAN DO IT WITH HIS HELP. It's the greatest feeling ever and so important to remember. I love this church and all that it teaches. I love the MTC. I love my district. We pretty much have every personality possible in my district of 6 elders and 6 sisters. It's incredible to see how inspired the companionships are as well. I love my fellow district sisters. I love my companion. I love Portuguese and one day I will master it. I love this opportunity to share something I love so much with others. I am so blessed. I cannot express it. I hope all is well with all of you! Write me a letter and let me know how you're doing! I pray for the people at home all the time. Heavenly Father is watching out for you!

Sister Shipp

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

1st Week

First P-Day! So much has happened this week. It's pretty much been the longest week of my life.

When I got to the airport gate Wednesday morning, I met 4 other missionaries including Sister Jessie Young who is going to the same mission as me and knows President and Sister Allen. Tender mercy right there. I sat next to a sweet girl a year younger than me on the plane, we talked a little bit and she shared some Christian music with me. I had lunch at Costa Vida with Amy, Molly, Grandpa and Grandma Shipp, Julie, and Stacy. Amy gave me a letter from herself and one from Kelley before we said bye. It was so sweet! I called mom one last time and cried and said goodbye. Molly dropped me off at the MTC. I picked up my name tag. I am still Sister Shipp! Apparently they call the Sister missionaries Sister in Brazil instead of Irma like the sister members of the church. We go around saying "Seestair!" :) My companion is Sister Marchant from Cincinnati, Ohio. We have a lot in common! She was also at BYU this past year studying pre-nursing, but has not yet applied to the program. On my way to pick up my books, I ran into Sister Brynne Chamberlain from my BYU ward. Another tender mercy. We started learning Portuguese the first day. The teacher spoke it a lot and it was a little overwhelming. Later in the day, I ran into Elder Brett Nebeker from my FHE group! Another tender mercy. There are 8 elders in my district and 6 sisters (although 2 elders got their visas and left today). We are going to the Riberao Preto mission or Natal mission. Sister Jett Hoffman from my BYU ward is in my district and in my room. There are 6 sisters in my room! It works out just fine. There is plenty of space and I love the sisters. The companionships are so inspired. Each companionship became instant friends. Our personalities are so similar and together, we are hilarious! You really see your view of entertainment change in the MTC. Earlier today, for fun, we threw a little football around the room at each other. It was pretty much the best thing ever. Would you normally think so? Probably not. I am on the top bunk. Brings back memories of when I was younger.


I cannot express to you the amount of studying taking place here. I don't think I've ever studied this much (maybe besides finals week). We taught our first investigator in Portuguese on Friday. Did you catch that? After being here for 2 days, we had to teach a lesson in Portuguese. Luckily, Sister Marchant took 4 years of Spanish in high school and studied Portuguese during the Summer. She has a pretty good handle on the language. We somehow made it through, but didn't feel like we could really connect with Lucas because we were mainly reading from our notes. On Friday, I received 5 letters, a postcard, and a package! Thanks for all the love. Everyone was jealous! I am now known for taking up half of our district mailbox each day. Largely thanks to Kelley, who everyone now knows about, and who will be reporting here tomorrow at 2:30! Crazy. On Saturday, we taught Lucas again. The lesson went better. I could understand a lot of what was said, but still felt like I couldn't really contribute. Learning a new language is definitely a humbling experience.


Everyone kept telling me to make it to Sunday. Well, I did! Fast and testimony meeting was in Portuguese and I could understand almost all of what was said! I know God is helping me with the language. There's no other way I could have made this much progress in less than a week. At night, the devotional was performances and a talk by Elder Oak's daughter, Jenny Oaks Baker who is an amazing violinist. It was amazing and the Spirit was so strong :) Then we watched an MTC address entitled "Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar. It is an amazing talk. Go look it up if you have some time to spare. It gives great insight on who we should become, especially as a missionary.

During gym time, I've been playing volleyball! It's so nice to play again :) Sister Marchant played with me yesterday. For not ever playing, she is actually pretty good and it was tons of fun! I ran into Sam Whitworth (my friend from nutrition class that teaches Iclandic at the MTC) yesterday! Another tender mercy. We talked for a couple minutes. Sister Marchant and I taught Lucas for the third time last night. We went in with only a few words written in English as an outline. Our teacher had told us not to use notes on this lesson, but pray before and ask for the gift of tongues. I was really nervous going in, but we actually taught about the Atonement for 35 minutes! It was great. Sister Marchant did a lot of the talking, and I got lost a couple times, but I was able to add some comments and a good testimony. The Spirit was definitely there.


It's been a little hard to get used to the schedule here. Since we are visa-waiters and weren't supposed to be here, we have breakfast at 6:30 instead of 7. We also have a way early dinner at 4. That means I get to bed at around 11 and am waking up somewhere around 5:30 or 6. I woke up with a fever today after having some strange dreams involving a lot of Portuguese. I'm feeling better now. I've spent most of the day writing letters and doing laundry. P-Day is definitely too short though. We have a devotional tonight with Elder Christofferson! I am super excited!


So there's a tree here that smells like Cream Soda. Literally. We took a picture with it. Sister Marchant and I are trying to take a picture everyday holding up the day number we are on. One of them is in front of this tree.
All is well here! I love the MTC and am doing great!

Sister Shipp