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