Monday, October 29, 2012

10-29-12

Dearest Family,

First, some business.... 

I will NOT be extending my mission. I will be home on January 21. I know that it is strange, but I will try to explain. Monday night, I started feeling really weird about the extension... I just sort of brushed it off. I had received my answer and President had already given me the new date. Tuesday it was on my mind again. Wednesday I was feeling strange as well. Thursday night, I got a call from President and he said that as much as he wants me to extend and as much as I want to extend, he had been praying and he felt that he needs to let me go on my original release date. When he said that, I felt that it was correct. I don`t know for sure why the answer was yes and then no, especially for only three weeks, but I feel sort of like Abraham. I had to demonstrate that I was willing and now I am not being asked to make the "sacrifice." I really hope that Grandma hasn`t bought her plane ticket yet... if she has, I will just have to wait 3 weeks to see her I guess. Surprise, huh? I don`t really know why still, but when President told me that he feels that he has to let me go at my date, I felt that there will be some reason... there is always a reason I guess. 

We had a FANTASTIC semana. The 4 Suarez kids were baptized. Roxana, the mom, has to quit smoking and get Sundays off of work, but I have never seen someone so determined to be baptized and I know that she will be. Her testimony is growing each day. The baptism was absolutely beautiful and there was SO much support from the ward. I have loved seeing the conversion of this family. Maxi, the 15 year old son, quit smoking, cut his long hair, and took out his earings. I am so proud of him. Sofia, Julieta, and Milagros have really just blossomed in their understanding. All are doing wonderfully. I am so proud of them. The ward has been so great with them. One of the recent converts brought Maxi a full suit coat! He said that his son had grown out of it and they didn`t have use for it, but it looked pretty brand new to us... Our ward is fantastic. I feel so very blessed. 

We have seen a lot of wonderful miracles for changing the way that we are verifying. For asking questions about their conversion instead of their actions, our investigators are really progressing. Marcela and her son Jonas are just wonderful. Every time we leave, Jonas writes a summary of the things that we taught that day and the things that he will do because of the lesson. He reads the book of mormon and writes summaries... DId I mention that he is only NINE??? What an example. The older kids and the husband still don`t want a ton to do with the church, but I know that they will see the examples of Marcela and Jonas. They will be baptized on the 10th, and the whole family will surely be there. We will make sure that it is a very spiritual experience so that they can make the decision to be baptized as well. 

Hermana Hualpa is so wonderful. I am just so proud of the missionary that she has become and for all that she does in the work. She has been my companion, my sister, but even more than that, my friend. I love her dearly and am so grateful for her. She is truly an amazing missionary and I can`t even imagine all that she will become! I am so grateful for all that she has taught me. We have really worked hard this transfer and learned more than ever how to follow the spirit. We have also had a LOAD of fun! I am truly going to miss her....................

......................... yep, that means changes. We got the call last night. Hermana Hualpa is now in Tigre with Hermana Hill! That is really fun because it is right next door and we will be able to see each other. So fun! She is going to have a lot of success there, I am sure of it!

As for me??? I have been called to train again. haha. I have been feeling that that would be the case. I will go to the mission home tomorrow to meet her. I don`t know anything about her, but we are only getting one Sister this transfer, and all I know is that she is Latin. I am SO grateful for that! haha. Perhaps another Chilean... we will see I suppose. I feel very humbled by the call and excited to learn all the knew things that she brings with her. 

I love this work! I have truly seen miracles in my mission. I cannot believe how fast it is going! Yikes! Tell Lauren that I love her so much. Send her my "welcome home" and tell her that I would love to hear from her. I cannot believe that she is coming home on Wednesday. How quickly the time went. 

I love being a missionary. There is truly nothing like it. Thank you all for your love and support. I am so blessed with the best family EVER. Thank you for always praying for me and thinking of me. I know that I don`t always have the chance to respond, but I love getting the letters and emails. They are the best. Keep doing the wonderful things that you are doing. The Lord will bless you all so  much for doing the small and simple things of reading, praying, and attending church. Pray for missionary experiences and then ACT in order to find them. I know that you will. 

I love you all!
Hermana Shelley

Pictures: 1. Gonzalez family (recently reactivated)
              2. Carvajals family (baptized 5 mos ago)
              3.Suarez kids-Maxi, Mili, Sofi and Juli
              4. Suarez family








Monday, October 22, 2012

10-22-12

Dearest Family,

First off, I will be officially extending. I talked to President in a leadership training meeting that we had and he said that yes, it can happen! It will only be two or three weeks more, but he wants the time that we can do, even if just a little. We can extend one month from my 18 month mark, which is January 6th, so it looks like I will be getting home around February 6th. Time is flying away from me. I never thought that I would extend, but I really do feel like it is a call from the Lord and I will do it. I figure that two weeks probably won`t make a huge difference in the big scheme of things... I am happy to be here, and I do recognize that it must come to an end at some point, even though it will be so hard to leave these people that I love so dearly. On to the next big adventure. 

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes! It was really fun to hear from some people that I haven`t heard from in a long time. Thank you for thinking of me. I am glad that you all keep up on the blog. I am sorry that I don`t get many hand written letters out. It is tricky and slightly expensive. I try, but we just don`t have a lot of time. My birthday was really good. We had MIRACLES yesterday and that is all that I wanted... that all of our investigators were in church. Wonderful. It was a really great opportunity to give my talk, and it was also Mother`s Day here, so that was fun. Our lunch appointment made me a cake and sang to me, so that was really nice. I have pictures, but this comp doesn`t have the card reader and I didn`t bring my cord. Oops... next week. The young women made me a big birthday card, and that was really special. Like always, I LOVE working with the young women of the ward. I even got some text messages from some members in San Ignacio. Not sure how they got the number, but it was really neat of them to remember. Basically, I cannot believe that I am 23! When did that happen!!! The fact that Kadon is 15 and Mackay is 20 is even MORE weird... 

I am SO proud of you for doing the trek! It sounds like it was a really amazing experience and that you had many great opportunities. I sat tearing up as I read about the deaths and resurrections and everything. I said to Hermana Hualpa as I read "my family is the best!" I am so proud of you all. I had to chuckle at the Shelley competitiveness.... what can we do? It`s in the blood! haha. 

ELDER SHELLEY!!!!! I am so proud of you! You are going to be an amazing District Leader! You know how to work hard and rely on the Lord, and that is the key. As for your comp, every companion is what you make him to be. Don`t listen to other Elders. If you go into it believing that he is the best Elder in the mission, he WILL be. I promise you that. If you go into it believing that he is 100% obedient, he will be. But if you expect the worst, it could be the worst. I must admit that I sat and cried as I saw your pictures today. It is the first time in my whole mission that the pictures have gone through from your email. I can`t believe how much of a missionary you are! haha. Of course, I knew... but you are so different! You look great. Can`t believe how skinny you are. hahaha. I will pass you the extra 12 pounds I am packing around... haha. But I have finally found the reason that I am a bit heavier... go read Proverbs 28:25... :)

This week was fantastic. 

Blanca was not baptized, but we are working with her still. It is tricky because we can`t see her in the week since she got a job as a live in maid. We can call, but not really teach much. We leave her things to read all week, and she does it, but it is difficult. Pray for her. She has the goal of being baptized next Sunday, and she agreed to pray about it. 

The Suarez family is doing wonderfully. The ward has really fellowshipped them well and I am just so happy to see their progress. They will be baptized this Sunday. Such a neat experience. I am so humbled to be able to teach them. They are learning really fast. I am especially grateful for the youth of our ward who are really talking care of the kids. They are calling them and inviting them to visit and everything. They go get them for mutual, they pass by on the way to church to go together, etc. What is especially neat is that Zahira, the girl who was baptized 3 weeks ago, is like best friends with Milagros. (yes mom, that name is very common and it means "miracles"). I love when converts get so involved. That is when they stay firm!

We met another FAMILY this week! Javier, an amazing member of our ward gave us the referral of his aunt and family. The husband (YES! They are MARRIED!!!) isn`t around very much so we still haven`t met him, but we were able to meet Marcela and 2 of her kids. They are so prepared! Marcela and her youngest boy, Maxi, both went to church yesterday and LOVED it. The Spirit was really strong in the meetings, so that was so great. They have baptismal dates for the 10th of November. Marcela cried when we taught her about the first vision and said that she knew that it was really true. So prepared. She is an amazing woman who has really overcome some challenges in her life. She has many talents and is even teaching us some neat things! I am so grateful that we were able to meet her. 

We were called to go to a leadership training with President this week and it was really amazing. I love those meetings and I am always so humble to be a part of them! We talked about being disciples of Christ forever and never going back (based on Elder Holland`s talk) and how we can help the missionaries that we lead to do the same. We have been changing lots about how we teach recently, one of which is verifying conversion instead of verifying action. Instead of asking just "did you read? How did it go?" we ask things like "How did your reading help you become a better father?" or "how did praying help you feel closer to the Savior?" or "How did attending church help you follow Jesus Christ?" It has been really amazing because we have really seen that the investigators are thinking about their personal conversion and realizing that they are truly changing. I think that this is a principle that we can apply in all areas of the church. When a seminary teacher asks if the kids have read, instead of just getting the number, he can ask how they were changed by their reading. When a Sunday School teacher asks if everyone read the lesson, he can ask what they changed that week because of what they read. I love that. We are continually becoming converted to the Lord and we need to recognize. We don`t just read to read or pray to pray or attend church to attend. We are becoming true disciples of Christ. If we aren`t changed by these experiences, it does not do us any good. 

I loved being able to talk in church. It was a really neat experience and I felt really guided. I spoke of how to prepare ourselves to be missionaries always. I addressed two aspects: increasing our personal testimonies and increasing our personal worthiness. I based the personal worthiness part on Alma 5 and singing the song of redeeming love. It was really special to talk about our Savior and how to feel His love and how to be able to do so NOW. Then, when we get that "something different," when the Atonement is TRULY part of our lives, we will naturally share the gospel. I think it started a little fire in the ward... we received 7 referrals yesterday. I love working with members!

Can`t believe that Lauren is getting home next week. Seems like just yesterday that she headed out. Send her my love and prayers. 

Quick funny story...
We met an Elderly couple this week and we started talking with them and we set up another appointment and when we asked when we could return, the Grandpa said "Any day but Saturday. Julia here doesn`t like to go out, but I don`t let that get me down. Me, I put in my teeth and I go out on the town!" hahaha. It was SO funny. He was really cute. I thought that he was joking until we passed by on Saturday and decided to just say hi and see how they were doing and Julia told us that he wasn`t home because on Saturdays he puts his teeth in and goes out! haha. 

To answer the question, Pasta Frola is sort of like pie... just different. haha. I have pictures, but like I said, I didn`t bring the chord. Next week. And yes, I will be able to cook many of the things that we eat here! I have bought 5 cook books, so that will be lots of fun. The Sisters are always teaching me how to make new things, so that will be a great blessing! Hope my future husband is willing to try some new things :)

Family, I love this work. I love the Gospel. I know that the Church is true. I know that I need to be right here right now. I have changed so much. I can`t tell you how grateful I am for the changes that the Lord has helped me to make. I have different priorities now. I have vision of who I am and who I want to be. I understand what I want in the future, and realize what really matters. I feel like I am finally starting on the path of discipleship. I know my Savior now. I know my Heavenly Father. I love them. I love the scriptures. I love serving in the Kingdom and I know that I will continue to serve wherever I am called to serve. I have seen so many blessings and such great growth in our family and I am so grateful for that. We are going to be an eternal family!

I love you all so much. Thank you for your prayers and your love. I feel every prayer and I truly need every single one. 

Love,
Hermana Shelley

picuteres: birthday treat with Maria Elena, Jose, and Hermana Hualpa




Monday, October 15, 2012

10-15-12

Dear Family,

Not a lot of time. We had a really fun Pday and I learned how to make Pasta Frola, an Argentine sweet that is my favorite. It wasn´t too hard to make, but it takes a LOAD of time... our dear Argentine Mother, MarĂ­a Elena taught us and we had SO much fun! Oh did we ever laugh. It reminded me a lot of baking with Mom and Grandma. Good times. 

Sounds like the trek was a lot of hard work, a lot of fun, and a wonderful experience. 

Glad that you enjoyed your break so much Kadon. I am really glad that you got so much time off. 

Can´t believe that Jenny is all big and married! So happy for her and Scott. 

Things this week were AMAZING!!! We finally had 5 progressing investigators in church, all with baptismal dates. Things are looking up. 

We found an amazing family this week, Familia Suarez. The mom is a single mother raising 4 teenagers. We actually found them knocking doors! haha. With no investigators, we have even been knocking doors! Something we don´t do too often in this mission. Well, we had gone looking for another investigator and he ended up not being home, so we decided to knock some doors. Milagros, a 12 year old came to the door and asked us when she could go to church! Wow... her two twin sisters of 14 came out, followed by the 15 year old brother. They said that they have been wanting to go to a church! Wow! We set up an appointment for when their mom got home from work and when we went back, she was SO excited. She said that she has been praying for something to keep her kids on the right path and when they told her about us, she knew that this was the answer. They went to church and LOVED it and all have baptismal dates for the 28th. So great! The Lord was truly preparing them. 

Blanca is doing wonderfully! She went to church yesterday and cried through the whole thing, she felt the Spirit so strongly. She told us that it was the most powerful experience that she has ever had and that she now knows that the Church is true. She has a baptismal date for this weekend, but we might have to put it off one more week because she started a new job as a live in maid outside of our area and will only be here on the weekends, so we will only be able to see her on Saturdays and Sundays, so we might have to wait another week because she doesn´t have all the lessons. I think that she will be ready. We are praying a lot. Satan can work really hard on a person when we don´t have daily contact with them. Pray for her. 

Hermana Hualpa is doing super great! I am so proud of her and all that she is doing. She is learning and growing every day and I know that she is constantly looking for chances to serve. What a great example she is. 

I am feeling much better. We are pretty sure that I had food poisoning... 

The box got here! Thank you so much! What happens is that it gets here and then it sits in customs until the office elders go and get it. The office car was in the shop for ages and so they didn´t go for 6 weeks... bummer. So basically it was there for a LONG time... the bad news is that the Tshirts didn´t make it. The package had been opened. I think everything else made it though. I got the skirt and 2 blouses, the stickies (SOOOO cute! Thank you so much!), the 3 musketeers, and the Peanut Butter. Of course what I really NEEDED didn´t make it, but I guess someone else needs it more. I will use some of the money to buy me a new undershirt... I just don´t know if I will be able to find what I want. I will see. My undershirts are REALLY bad, so I will just have to buy some. Thank you so much for the birthday wishes. Weird to think that I am turning 23... I don´t feel like it! haha. My birthday is this Sunday, and I have to give a talk in church! Good present. The only thing that I really want is that Blanca gets baptized! That would be the best birthday ever. I definitely have my priorities in line... we made PB&J right away... of all the stuff that could have been stolen, the peanut butter made it! haha. And Hna Hualpa is SUPER happy that the 3 Musketeers made it. Every morning on the way out she grabs us each one... I think they are almost gone... YUM! Thank you Grandma and Grandpa. I don´t need more packages, but just an fyi for if anyone is planning on sending one... if you send the small mailing envelops (I think they are called flat rate envelops...the small ones), they don´t have to go to customs. They go straight to the mission office. 

Thank you Grandma Shelley for the money! That was so kind of you to think of me. My comp and I have plans to go out for ice cream and I am going to buy an Argentine flag. One of the Sisters in the ward is also going to make me an Argentine apron! I thought of you with that. 

So things are really good. We keep working hard. We only have 2 more weeks of the transfer. I can´t believe how fast it is going. I don´t know what will happen with the transfer. I think that it all depends on how many sisters we get... We will see. I don´t know anything about the extension. If it is an option, I have decided to do it. With all the talks in conference about consecration, I felt that it really did come from the Lord and if He needs me to serve here longer, I will answer yes! If we end up learning that it is not an option, I will keep serving there. I am going to talk to President this week to see if he knows anything. 

Love you all so much. This Church is the true church! We are lead and guided by living prophets. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. The Temple is the house of the Lord. Families can be eternal. The Book of Mormon is true! I am so grateful to all of you for all that you do and for always supporting me. I could not be here without you all. Thank you for your love, your prayers, your support, your encouragement, etc. I feel your prayers, and I need them. I love this work and I love this gospel! 

All my love,
Hermana Shelley

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

10-8-12

Dear Family,

This will be a quick one... I have been really sick and I am doing well to be upright at the computer. I am much better now but want to get home and sleep one more hour before going out to work. My fever broke, so I am just about better. Vomiting has almost stopped, so I am happy about that. No biggie. Don`t worry. 

Before I forget:
I got my tooth fixed. It was exactly what I thought it was. A filling had come out and taken a bit of the tooth. I caught it early, so they could just refill it and not have to do a root canal. It was 350 pesos, which is about $80. That covered the visit, Xrays to make sure I didn`t need a root canal, and the new filling. I am feeling much better. Sorry about the money.


How about conference? It was FANTASTIC!!! We got to the first session about 15 min late because we were waiting for our Peruvian family. So we missed President Monson. When Elder Cook talked about the historic change in missionary service, we were really antzy to know what it was. Then, Elder Nelson talked about it in detail and my jaw dropped! I have been expecting the 18 year old change for YM because I know that they have been doing it in various countries. But 19 for the Young Women?!?!?!?! WOW! What a change! I am so excited for both young men and women. I really feel that the Lord needs more missionaries and this is going to make the difference. At first I was a bit bummed... I would have LOVED to have left on my mission at 19, but then I realized that I need to be right here, right now, with these people, these companions, and this mission President. All in the Lord´s timing. But man, I don`t know what it is like there, but just about every young woman here has decided to serve a mission now that they can do it right out of high school. I feel that we are going to see a HUGE increase in Sister Missionaries. 

Loved conference! I loved the theme of life long discipleship. That is so true. The Lord has called us and He wants us forever. It is so true that it is all about service. We have to forget ourselves and serve others and then everything works out okay. I loved all of the talks and have set some good goals to improve. Much to do. Much to change. 

Temple in Tucson!!!!! So happy! I also didn`t get to hear that, but Elder Abaroa told me (we are in the same zone again). So neat. We will soon have 6 Temples in Arizona. Wow. What a blessing. 

Sorry so short. I need to get going. I love you all so much. I love this gospel. I know it is true. I know that as we will listen to and head the words of the prophets that we will be greatly blessed. May we study and really apply their words. 

Couple last things... 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELDER SHELLEY!!! I can`t believe that I am going to have a 20 year old brother... that makes me feel OLD. haha. I really hope that you have a wonderful day and that you are enjoying the work. Keep working diligently and you will see the miracles. I am so proud of you. 

Jenny and Scott!!! I am so so so so happy for you! I can`t believe how quickly the big day came! I got the announcement! It is so cute. Thank you for thinking of me. You are both so great. 

Grandma, glad you could use my car! It needs to be used. 

I love you all dearly. The Church is true. We are lead by living prophets. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. 

All my Love,
Hermana Shelley

Monday, October 1, 2012

10-1-12

WOW! What an amazing week we had. 

Zahira was BAPTIZED and CONFIRMED this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You may be asking yourself, Who is Zahira? How did they have a baptism when they didn't even have investigators? WHAT?!?!?!

Let me just tell you about this amazing miracle...

On Monday, our zone leaders called and told us that someone was prepared in every area to be baptized this weekend. At that very moment, the thought came to my mind "The sister of Johny." (He was baptized in June and hasn´t missed a Sunday since) I said to Hermana Hualpa "Does Johnny have a sister?" She said yes and that her name had come to her mind as well. Neither of us new her. We went to the area book and looked her up to at least learn her name. We found out that she is 12 and that she goes to church just about every Sunday but that her mom didn´t give her permission since she is only 12. So, we decided that we would go meet her. On Tuesday, we had the appointment. Earlier, we were visiting another family and Augustin, our Teachers Quorum president accompanied us. We felt to ask him what he knew about Zahira. He said that she wanted to be baptized but the mom didn't give permission. But then he said "Don´t worry Hermanas, her mom LOVES me. I will make it happen!" He agreed to come to the appointment with us. We went and the mom wasn´t home. So we waited and waited, but she didn´t come and we had to be home on time. Augustin agreed to stay and talk with her. We went home, praying and with loads of faith. At 10:00, Augustin called and said "okay, Hermanas! She will be able to be baptized this weekend!" WOW! We were so happy, we were jumping up and down. This girl was SO prepared. She has even already been doing personal progress, going to mutual, etc... just lacked the water! So the next day we went, and the supposedly "dura" ( I don´t know how to say that... hard seems wrong, but it is the right word) mom received us so well and was super happy about her daughter´s baptism. Through the week, we retaught the lessons just in case (she already new everything super well) and she was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday! What a miracle! The Lord is truly preparing His children to come unto Him. I love it! It was a wonderful baptism and we had so much support from the ward. They are amazing and I was so pleased with how it all turned out. I love El Talar! We learned a lot about following the Spirit this week with this experience. The Mom told us after the confirmation "Hermanas, you can come by on Tuesday, but after that I go back to work and will not be able to have you over. Zaira with have to meet with you just after church or something." Wow! It truly had to happen THIS week. If we had waited another week, the mom would not have let us in. This is truly the Lord´s work. 

Ruben is doing well. He told us that he wants to be baptized but needs more time. We know that he will choose to be baptized very soon. His son is helping him a lot. The tricky part is that he works every day from 8 in the morning to 10 at night. So we have special permission to see him at 7, but it is tough. It will all work out. 

We are working with a Peruvian family who is doing well. They have lots of doubts, but will come around. They are reading and praying, so we know that they will receive their answers. So special! The key is to read the Book of Mormon and pray. The answers will come from there. 

We had to drop our Dominican Family... well, it´s more like they dropped us. They don´t want to change right now and didn´t want to read or pray. It was hard to leave them, but we will use the time to find new investigators. 

Louis disappeared. We can´t get in contact with him. 

We are constantly looking for new investigators, but also finding many. President has taught us the best way to find new investigators... when we don´t have appointments with investigators, we are teaching the less active members and the recent converts and asking for referrals. They know those who are chosen. Especially the recent converts, because they have a great desire to share the gospel and they are so new in the church that all of their family and friends are usually not members. Also, on the way, we talk with the whole world. Often, street and door contacts don´t progress, but sometimes they do. And our duty is to open our mouths and invite. The Lord is preparing His children. Mackay, give that a try! Go and teach the recent converts or the less active members (do they have 555 there?) and commit them to share the gospel. Get references and then contact them in the moment. You will see miracles. If you don´t have investigators to teach, get into the houses and teach those who are lost or those who are new. 

Thank you everyone for your support. I just about fell out of my chair when GRANDMA said that I should extend! hahahaha. Unexpected. I am leaning towards it. It is not much time, and I do feel that it comes from the Lord. I am praying still and think I will make an official decision with General Conference. 

Sounds like you all had wonderful weeks. I am not at all "trunky", but it was a bit hard hearing all about Jenny´s bridal shower. I am so glad that it was so special and I am just so happy for Jenny and Scott. What an amazing couple. I can´t believe how close the big day is! 

Grandpa, I hope you get to feeling better soon. I was sorry to hear that you are back in the hospital. I am praying for you and know that I love you so very much. 

Sounds like trek preparations are going well. I loved the trek so much! It really taught me so much about the pioneers and about the gospel. 

How is everyone´s Book of Mormon reading going? I hope you are still reading daily. Remember the OLA.

I love  you all so much! I love this gospel. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love being a missionary. I know that the Church is true. I know that we are lead by living prophets. I know that they will speak the words of God to us this weekend and that as we listen to them, we will be so very blessed. 

Thank you for your love and prayers,
Hermana Shelley