Monday, January 27, 2014

Too Much to Tell

It looks like the time to go to Brazil is coming quicker and quicker! I got an email from Elder Menden (my FHE brother from BYU who just arrived to Ribeirao Preto) who spent a little time in the mission office... they are truly expecting me by the end of this transfer. I am in awe. The Lord knows best. I just have to keep trusting in Him. What an adventure!
I just want to testify that the Lord will place us where we need to be. I wish I had time to tell all of the experiences in my life that support this knowledge, but I do not. I sat next to a woman at church who just experienced a divorce and moved to Camarillo from a few towns over. We sat by her in church yesterday. She talked about how this has been so hard for her teenage daughters who just want to move back home. She talked about how she had been praying for a way to move back when a voice came into her mind, "You are where you need to be." That hit so close to home for me in many ways. That was the confirmation I was seeking when I first arrived in California four and a half months ago. It took a while, but I have received so much confirmation in so many different ways that I needed to be here for at least 4 transfers. I was able to tell her of my experience as a missionary temporarily assigned to California. In that moment, I knew I was meant to be in that church building in Camarillo CA sitting next to this sister. I know that there is no greater joy that can come to us than when we are where the Lord needs us to be doing His work. This can be in a particular job, studying a particular major and a specific school, in our families, a certain location to live, and in so many other ways. I felt that way at BYU when I began to volunteer at Utah State Hospital and served as a mentor for a very special and amazing girl. I know that we can each feel this way as we include Heavenly Father in our decisions. He will guide us to where we need to be if we allow Him the opportunity. I know He will continue to place me where I need to be.
Sister Shipp

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Work Goes On

A New Transfer:
First week as Senior Companion! It's been crazy, but so amazing!
My companion is Sister Ashworth from Georgia! She grew up outside of Atlanta but actually moved to Texas her senior year, just outside Beaumont. It is fun to have a companion that shares my love for Texas. She is great, so happy all the time! This is her 3rd transfer, she's been on her mission for 3 months. This week my head has been inside the map trying to figure out how to get to each place. Good thing I'm getting really good at navigating!

Mom sent me a copy of an email from the Church Travel Office estimating 2-3 weeks on my visa.
It's in the final stages of processing! She said I should be able to go to Brazil for the next transfer, meaning Feb 25. How crazy is that? My heart stopped.
Needless to say, I've been feeling pretty anxious the last couple days. I was feeling pretty torn. I love this mission and I love the people here. It was Saturday night when I got that letter, Sunday was Stake Conference, a broadcast from Salt Lake. Elder Anderson was one of the speakers. In his talk, he mentioned an experience he had when he lived in Sao Paulo. As he spoke, I felt so calm and remembered the love that I had felt for Brazil when I received my call and anticipated leaving for my mission. I know that whatever happens, whether I go or stay, that the Lord will send me where I need to go. I have seen so many reasons why I have been in the United States for the first 6 months of my mission, and I am so grateful to have had these experiences.
Miracle of the week:
Sharron, our amazing investigator! We were supposed to have a lesson with her Wednesday, but she was feeling sick, so she cancelled. Thursday morning, we had planned to go see a less active member who lives really close to her. As we approached the member's apartment, we saw Sharron outside! We went and talked with her, she met Sister Ashworth, and then invited us in. We had a spur of the moment lesson in which she asked us a lot of questions and we talked a little more about the Word of Wisdom. Then she came to Stake Conference yesterday! Afterward, we were talking with her and a member about the blessings promised as we live the Word of Wisdom. Sharron is going to encounter some medical changes this week, so the member talked about living the Word of Wisdom and how it would help Sharron with these changes. We testified that it would and committed her to begin living it. I know that the Lord really is preparing His children. We heard a lot about that in our Stake Conference. They quoted D&C 84:88 a lot where the Lord is talking. It says something like, "I will go before your face, I will be on your right hand, and on your left." One of the speakers asked, "Will He really go before me and prepare the way?" He has promised that He will! I testify that He already has and will continue to do so!
I feel so much joy as I listen to the Prophet and the Apostles that Jesus Christ has called to lead His church today, just as He did when He was on the Earth. I know and I testify that these are men called by God who have the authority to speak for Him today. I know that as we listen to them, we receive guidance, answers to prayers, comfort, peace, and joy. I know that Jesus Christ is leading this church today and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a servant of Him, spreading His word, whether in Brazil or California, it is the same.
Have an amazing week!
Sister Shipp

Monday, January 13, 2014

4th Transfer..................3rd Area

Transfers are tomorrow and............................................
I FINALLY GET TO STAY IN AN AREA FOR MORE THAN 6 WEEKS! Sister Casper is leaving me though :( She's going to my first area in San Luis Obispo. Crazy stuff. I can't believe it's already been another 6 weeks.
This week was a lot better. I've really been learning a lot and my confidence as a missionary has really increased as well. The highlight was our investigator, Sharron, coming to church! It was incredible. She really felt the Spirit and afterwards received a Priesthood blessing. All I can say is it was all a miracle.

I wanted to focus on a story I studied in the Book of Mormon yesterday, Ether 6. This is when the Brother of Jared and his family get into the 8 dish-like barges he built to cross the sea to the promised land. It says everything so matter-of-factly, but if you really think about what was going on, it must have been terrifying.
"they prepared... and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God."
His family somehow divided themselves up and got into these 8 barges, trusting the Lord that they would make it to the promised land and see eachother again. It doesn't give any indication that they could steer or anything. They literally commended themselves to God.
"And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, toward the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind."
God provided the wind, always pushing them toward the promised land. It doesn't say that He gracefully did so, they were tossed to and fro, but always in the direction of the promised land.
"And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind."
"...when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters."
There were times when they were pushed to their limits. They had to cry to God in prayer, and He delivered them each time.
"And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind"
Despite all the obstacles faced; the storms, rough seas, tempests, the wind was ALWAYS pushing them in the right direction, toward their desired destination.
"And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord."
No matter what obstacles they faced, they always praised the Lord, trusting Him and remembering how great and merciful He is always, even in the midst of their trials. Good times or bad, they always praised the Lord.
"And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water."
Through God, they could overcome everything. This wasn't a short journey:
"And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water."
Did you get that? 344 DAYS! Almost a full year? Do you think that was easy? No way. And yet they didn't lose faith that the Lord would fulfill His promise. And you know what?:
"And they did land upon the shore of the promised land..."
Powerful. This really hit me this week as the past few weeks I've really been thinking about the purpose of this life. When we chose to come to this earth, we were commending ourselves to Heavenly Father. We knew that it would be hard, but we knew it was necessary. We also knew that returning to our Heavenly Father and overcoming all of our trials would be possible through Jesus Christ. Now we are here, on our own sea for however long Heavenly Father decides. We will be tossed from place to place, but Heavenly Father is always leading us through our trials and experiences back to our desired destination: back home with Him and Jesus Christ. No matter where we are in life, He is giving us the experiences that we need to become the people we need to be to return to live with Him. Sometimes it's hard, but we need to trust His will for us, that He is leading us to what is best for us, and always praise and speak with Him. If we do these things, He will lead us back to Him, and that is worth every sacrifice.

I love you all. Thank you for all the prayers.

Sister Shipp

Monday, January 6, 2014

Life Goes On

It's been a roller coaster this week, but I'm hanging in here.
I've learned so much this week. So, so much.
-It's okay to not be okay. Heavenly Father is helping me SO MUCH, but that doesn't make it easy. It's still going to be hard, but that's okay. We just need to keep pushing.

Definitely miracles were seen this week. I just feel so blessed. Heavenly Father is finding lots of little ways to show me He loves me.
-We've been working with a couple, Billy and Madyson. Billy received the Priesthood just before I got here 5 weeks ago and actually baptized the twin 8 year old daughters of a woman who was baptized a few months ago. We've been working closely with both families. It was a really wonderful day. I think the best part was just being able to see Billy baptize them. He has grown so much even in the 5 weeks I've been here. He's a sweetheart. Him and Madyson really take care of us. We love being around them.
-My companion is literally the best. Especially in my hardest moments, she always finds something to do for me. Often times it's doing my dishes, just cleaning the apartment, or even talking to me or being silent the moments I need it. She's amazing and I appreciate her so much.
-I was having a particularly hard time on New Year's day. We were going to contact someone and parked a little ways down the street and spent some time just talking. We were there for a while just talking through things when a man came out of his house and started talking to us through the window. We rolled down the window and he talked to us about little insignificant things. I think he could tell I was having a rough day and had just come to say hi and try to make us laugh. That helped me feel a lot better.
-We were finally able to sit down with one of our investigator this week. She has a lot of really good questions that we are excited to answer as we meet with her this week. Her heart is really open and we are so grateful for the opportunity to teach her.

Thank you for all the prayers!
Lots of Love,
Sister Shipp