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