Monday, September 16, 2013

San Luis Obispo, CA - Week 1

So here is my mailing address (it is the address for the mission office, they forward the mail to me):

Sister Maryann Shipp

California Ventura Mission
3301 West Gonzales Road
Oxnard, CA 93036

I have been assigned to San Luis Obispo, CA! I love it. I can definitely tell I'm in Cali though. I'm making a list. You know you're in California when.... (Please don't be offended.. These are just my observations.. Very different from Texas):

-You run into 2 brothers named Forrest and River

-You are taxed when you don't supply your own bags at stores

-Drive Throughs are illegal in your town

-Someone yells out the window of their car while smoking weed and says "Nice Bible!"

-You see a sign pledging allegiance to Earth and life

-You pass a shirtless man carrying his life on his back, hitch-hiking to Long Beach

-The town has a "Thank the Whales" celebration

Kind of a whole other world over here, but I love it. No house looks the same. They are all different colors. And the weather is perfect! I cannot even describe how nice it is.

First week in the field! It has been incredible. I love Sister Anderson so much. She is from Salt Lake City and is a huge Utah fan, but we don't hold it against each other. We have seen so many tender mercies and I have learned so much from her so far. I love San Luis Obispo and am so happy to be here serving the Lord and the people here.

On Tuesday I met our investigator, Lee. Sister Anderson just wanted to share a quick scripture with her so she could get to know me. She asked me to share one of my favorite scriptures and I felt prompted to share D&C 6:20-23. As I read those verses, I substituted Lee's name into the verse. I guess it was exactly what she needed and had addressed some of the things that she had previously been through. It was definitely a tender mercy since I was not fully aware of all the details about Lee.

On Wednesday I attended my first district meeting in the field. Incredible. I am so impressed by the revelation that came as we met and strengthened our resolve as a district and worked to improve our teaching skills by learning how to ask inspired questions. It is definitely something I want to implement more strongly in my teaching. Later in the day, we met a woman named Liz who loves the Bible. We gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to read and pray about it. Hopefully we can catch her this week to follow up. After that, we ran into the mail woman who happens to be LDS! She gave us 6 referrals (some of which were for other wards). What a miracle. I don't know how many referrals we normally get, but apparently 6 in one day is miraculous. The Lord is looking out for us!

Thursday we had 5 lessons planned, but 4 cancelled. It was a little discouraging. We visited a less active Sister in our ward named Linda in the ICU. She was really struggling that day, so I think it was a really good thing the Spirit had led us to visit her. We were able to pray with her, talk about the Atonement, and about the purpose of life. I think those little messages really touched her and the support of a visit that day was especially what she needed. Later, we experienced a miracle as we met Larry when we were on our way to one of our appointments that eventually fell through. Larry is a super optimistic man because he "keeps Jesus in his heart" all day. It was inspiring to see his faith and how he manifests it to others. We left him with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and have an appointment with him this Wednesday. We also had a lesson with our investigator, Gene. We taught about the Plan of Salvation since his wife died somewhat recently. I don't think he believes he can really know for sure if this plan is God's plan or that there is only one true church. We are trying to figure out the best way to help him understand.

Friday we spent a long time on weekly planning. I loved it. I really felt like we received some good direction on how to best help our investigators and who to focus on this week. I really am so thankful for Sister Anderson. She is so encouraging and is so easy to get along with. We have similar ideas of what we want to accomplish in this area and set goals to make them happen. We are really striving for 2 baptisms this transfer and praying everyday for the help to accomplish it. We visited Lee that day, walked her dog, and shared a scripture with her. She is going through a health scare right now. We don't know what she might be facing, but tests will come back for whatever it is this Friday. We have been planning on teaching her tithing, but with her anxiety and level of faith at the moment, we think we should focus on faith first. She is going to receive a blessing on Wednesday.

Saturday we found a college student named Crystal when we returned her roommate's iphone (we found it on the sidewalk while running that morning). I think it was a miracle. Crystal grew up Catholic, but is looking for a new church. We told her a little about the Single's ward and suggested it for her. We met 2 interesting guys later in the day as well. First was John who is conflicted between science and religion. He really likes the Bible so we left him with a Book of Mormon to read. The other man is Chase. Chase has been through a lot in his life. Part of the time, he was challenging us, especially when we pulled out a Book of Mormon to give to him. It got to the point where he wasn't letting us talk. He was just falsely criticizing this book. Sister Anderson boldly interrupted him and testified of the Book of Mormon. He was silent. I think there were tears in his eyes and he shook our hands and said he would read it. I really hope he does. I don't know what he is going through right now, but there is something and I know the Book of Mormon and the rest of this gospel will help him. It's amazing how strongly I felt the Spirit as Sister Anderson testified.

Sunday I attended the SLO 1st Ward. I love it. The ward members are so nice, welcoming, and excited that we are here. I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Joe, a less active in our ward who is struggling with his testimony, and suggest that he read "Lord I Believe" by Jeffrey R. Holland. We did a lot of tracting and met some nice individuals and invited them to church.

Overall, it was a wonderful week and I am so thankful to be here. I love this area. I love the ward. I love my companion. I love being a missionary. I know the Lord is helping me retain the Portuguese I learned in the MTC. It's incredible how much it has stayed with me and how I am still improving even though I only speak it a little each day.

I am excited and looking forward to many more miracles this week.

The family we ate dinner with last night actually served in Ribeirao Preto. He showed me tons of pictures and told me all about the area. I am excited! Excited to be here. Excited to go to Brazil. It is so nice to speak English. I said the prayed in Portuguese and he said it was really good! Yay! I'm trying to teach Sister Anderson Portuguese. She broke our key to the library this week. In the lock. Good times. Love her.


Love Y'all! Have an amazing week!

Sister Shipp

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