Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone! 

Christmas is practically here! still feels like it should still be the 1st of Dec. It is bitter-sweet to see how fast time is flying...better hold on tight. 

So...It's a Christmas Miracle! Drew Talley is getting baptized!!! We are so excited for him and for his family! He wants to be baptized in Feb. and is choosing a date right now! Hopefully I will be able to stay in Canby for a while longer so I can see everything come together. Also, Dominique Talley received her first calling yesterday. She will be teaching the Sunbeams in Primary! She is so excited! So many great things are happening in their family...we are so blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of it!

This past week has flown by. We had a couple cancelations due to the Holiday's, but it still ended up being a memorable week!

On Tues, we had Oregon City's District Meeting. It was great as always! I love the missionary's that I have the pleasure of serving with! I am so lucky! We then had to send off some reports to the mission office and then we went to the church so Elder Smith could work on his "My Plan," an online coarse that helps missionary's adjust back to life at home and allows them to set goals for the future. It took a while...extra study time for me! :) After dinner we tried to contact people before it got too late. It was a chill day.

Wednesday, Elder Smith had his departing temple trip. He had to be at the temple in Lake Oswego at 9:30 am so we left canby around 8ish due to traffic. I was then in a trio with Canby 2nd for most of the day which was a lot of fun. Canyon Creek elders had to have their car taken in so they dropped their car in Lake Oswego and we picked them up by the temple and took them back to Canby for our district meeting. Our district wanted to do a secret was so funny...on the way back from the temple the Canyon Creek elders wanted to stop by the pet store to pick up the sister's gold fish for their gifts. One of the Elders decided to get one of the sisters a mouse! It was so funny to watch the sisters open up their gifts after district meeting! I was roaring with laughter!! Don't worry! We made sure that we found nice homes for them since we aren't allowed to have pets. ;) After lunch we had to drive all the way to Molalla to drop canyon creek off and then off towards Mulino for their service with the Molalla River Elders. Felt like a taxi driver all day...I felt how my mom must have felt when she had to drive us everywhere...its not that fun. We then traveled back to Canby and then did some weekly planning with Canby 2nd. It was great! We were able to help each other out as we counseled and came up with some ideas to help them in their area. We then raced off for our lesson with Darrell! He is so excited to be baptized on Feb 6th! He can hardly wait. He is remembering more and more what we teach him! He is well on his way. So proud of him. After our lesson we raced back to Lake Oswego to pick up Elder Smith. It was like a wild goose chase since the zone leaders over there picked him up and weren't communicating where we were going to meet. The worst part was that it was 5 and traffic was terrible! We finally met up in Wilsonville at 6:30. We then raced back to Canby for our lesson with Drew at 7. It was a long day with a lot of driving around. 

Thursday was incredible! Vern, an older man in the ward invited us over for breakfast. We had waffles and he played the Organ for us. He is such a neat man and is so sweet and good to us. After breakfast, we headed over to the Canby Center to do our regular Thursday service. We then went over to the Talley's and helped them with some things around the house in preparation for Christmas. While cleaning up the boy's room. Drew came in and started talking to me. He started to open up to me , one on one, and shared with me his biggest concern with being baptized. The spirit was so strong. We were both in tears. We talked about forgiveness and how we need to forgive others and most importantly ourselves. It was so powerful. We both left feeling great and I just knew that he was going to be baptized soon! We then had some Mexican food with them, El Chilitos!!!! Elder Smith and I shared a super nacho...boy was it good!!! :) We then raced over to Loren's and the Morehouse's for our weekly lessons with them; all of which went great!

Party Friday!!! We had our Mission Christmas party from 11-4:30. It was so great to see so many that I love. I was all over the place talking with everyone! I had to make sure that I got myself to eat something haha! We then had some performances by several other missionary's. It was funny...Sister Ballard then said that I was on deck with a skit...I was shocked!! Who signed me up??? Anyways it worked out. Our Oregon City district and I sang, "Joy to the World." We were crazy! We brought the house down. Everyone was singing and clapping with us! It was so funny and we had so much fun! We then went inside the chapel and had a wonderful Christmas program with great speakers and testimonies. It was fantastic! We then travelled home (traffic was terrible as always) and then we went to a less actives birthday party to end the night. Party Friday it was!

Saturday we had our last district meeting of the transfer and the Oregon City 5th's Ward mission leader wanted to take us all out for lunch. It was hilarious! He showed us a video of a catfish eating another fish of its was disgusting...another reason why I don't like fish! haha! Later in the evening we went back over to Oregon City and had several baptismal interviews that we took care of. The Shoup family! I interviewed the dad and the mom! What an amazing story! So they have been searching to know what church they should join. They have been investigating for years. When the missionary's knocked on their door they instantly knew that this was the church they should join! A month later and they are getting baptized! Super cool! After the interviews we then went over the the talley's and committed him to be baptized. It was a wonderful day! 

On Sunday we had 4 of our investigators at church which was amazing because we had an incredible Christmas program! The spirit was so strong. We had wonderful music and Sister Poe's talk was the cherry on top! Such a neat experience that helped me get into the holiday season even more! 

I hope that you all have an amazing Christmas this year! I love you all and I am so thankful for your love and support! 

A short thought for this week!

Here is one of my favorite poem's! It is the Symbol of the Innkeeper's Key.

"A Prayer for December"

Dearest God,
Please never let me
Crowd my life
Full to the brim.
So like the keeper
of Bethlehem's Inn,
I find I have no room for Him.
Instead, let my heart's door
Be ever open,
Ready to welcome
The newborn King
Let me offer the best I have
To Him
Who gives me everything.

-author unknown

"Each of us is an Innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus."

-Neal A. Maxwell

May we make sure that we make room in our lives for the Savior and keep him placed in the center of our lives. I know that as we do so that we will have a fullness of joy! 

Have a very Merry Christmas! 

With Love,
Elder Shaw 

Monday, December 14, 2015

I hope everyone was able to have a great week and had time to relax and enjoy this wonderful Christmas season. Another week has already escaped me...It feels like only yesterday that I was emailing home. 

This past week has been crazy busy. As you all probably know, Oregon has been experiencing a ton of rain and some flooding. I don't know where it all comes from? Canby hasn't been too bad. We have had a couple roads that have been closed down for a couple of days, but have re-opened since. Driving has been a little bit scary...this Arizona driver isn't fond of hydro-planing. :/ The rain keeps coming and coming. Hopefully we will have a dry, sunny Christmas! ;)

Although this week has been extremely busy with teaching appointments, meetings, and service it has been such a wonderful week full of learning, growing, and miracles! I will dive right in:

On Tuesday, we had a mission-wide tour, where we were able to hear from a member of the 70, Elder Arnold. Our conference lasted from 7-5:30: we had a quick leadership meeting from 7-9 in the morning, then we had the bulk of the conference from 9-3, and then a short MLC for zone leaders and sister training leaders with Elder Arnold from 3-5:30. It was incredible! I learned so much. He reminded me a bit of Elder Holland...he has some fire when he spoke...I loved it! He said that he wishes that he could be a fly on the wall in this mission for the next 18 months. He said that we have so many good things coming our way! So grateful for President and Sister Ballard for all that they do for us to lead us where our heavenly father wants us to go. I left the conference feeling energized and super excited with the work that we have been doing. Elder Arnold's words were inspired and everyone that was present felt inspired and enthused for this wonderful work. Oh I also forgot...Elder Arnold pulled all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders aside to interview them...I WAS INTERVIEWED BY A 70!!! SO COOL! I wasn't even nervous at all! :) He asked me about how the zone was doing, how my family was doing, and how I have been enjoying my mission. It added a lot of fire to my flame of missionary work! I left feeling pumped for this work and determination to keep working hard, strive to be perfectly obedient with the little things, and to endure and give the Lord everything I have for this wonderful work. We will set some baptismal dates! :)

Speaking of baptismal dates...the following day on Weds we were able to set one with Darrell for the 6th of Feb!! He was so proud! We have been teaching him principle by principle and he has already grown so much. We are so excited for him! We finished teaching the 1st lesson with him so we will re-cap and simply teach the other 4 lessons one step at a time to make sure he fully understands what we are teaching! Super exciting! 

In between of our appointments on Weds we had 2 district meetings where we did the training and practice on how to become a successful missionary, and on how to use the new christmas video's produced by the church more effectively to help us find, teach, and baptize. All of the district meetings were wonderful! We have some amazing missionary's here in OC and the Lord has blessed us in so many ways. We have several baptisms coming up in the next couple of weeks...its crazy...on the 26th we have 8 baptisms set as a zone...that alone is 2 above our mission's weekly average of baptisms...I am speechless!!! HOW ARE ALL OF THESE MIRACLES HAPPENING??? We are so blessed.

On Thursday we had the entire day to work in our area...can I get an AMEN! :) We had lessons with our investigators: Drew Talley, Fabian and Lucia Sifuentez, Paul Sowards, and with some of our less actives: Loren Shepard, and Bro and Sis Morehouse. The day flew by so fast!! We were running everywhere...a mile a minute! The lessons were great! Drew shared with us a couple of his concerns and we helped him focus on prayer and reading the scriptures. He told us that his is getting really close to baptism. We are still shooting for the 26th of Dec to dunk him....we shall see how this week goes. He is sooo ready!!!! We also were able to have dinner with the Sifuentez family and talk through Fabian and Lucia's concerns with the holy ghost and prayer. It was such a powerful lesson...the spirit was so strong...we all could feel it! We will be teaching them the plan of salvation tomorrow and will hopefully set a soft baptismal date for them to be baptized. I have a feeling that it will be a powerful lesson! :) Paul is doing great! He is going to go before the high council in these coming weeks to see if he can be cleared to be re-baptized. He should be baptized if all things go through, this coming March or April. We are just as excited as he is. Such a great guy...we are so proud of him! We then went about sharing Christmas cheer and messages with Loren and the Morehouse's. Both lessons went great and really got us all into the spirit of Christmas!

So one of the best things happened on Friday...I was able to go to the temple! I love going to the temple! I always feel uplifted and peace whenever I go; but the best thing happened. After our session I was walking towards the entrance/exit and who did I see? NORMA AND MAMA MORRIS!!! So a brief background...While I was in Hillsboro I lived with the morris's and every Monday evening for family home evening, the Thomas's and Norma would come over for a lesson and then to play games. Norma has been working on receiving her endowments. Before I left Hillsboro I promised her that I would be there no matter what. It was so cool to have been able to watch her as she checked in at the temple for the very first time. My eyes got a little misty to be honest. It was such a sweet blessing seeing Norma and Mama Morris at the temple. It bore witness to me that there aren't any coincidences in the gospel and that our heavenly father is looking out for us! It was pretty cool how of all the day's I was at the temple on that date and at that time I got to see them. If I was just a minute later I would have missed cool! I know that our Heavenly Father is looking out for us! 

After the temple we went to Deseret Book and I saw another member from my Greenie area, Estacada! I saw Sister Thompson as I was at the check out line. It was real neat to talk to her and see how she was doing and how my home ward in Oregon was doing. Again another blessing to see so many people that I love! It was an amazing day!!! 

On Friday evening we had our ward Christmas Party! It was great! We had 4 of our investigators come: AJ (new investigator), Tracy, Casey, and Darrell! (Drew wasn't able to come due to work). It was so neat! All of our investigators were sitting by members! We were able to weave through the crowd to see them and give them hugs! Such a blessing! While we were socializing they showed a short Christmas program by the primary where they reenacted the nativity. It was so cute. It was a great night that really got me in the Christmas spirit! 

Saturday morning we had a stake meeting, SPC with a breakfast at 7 and then a meeting from 8-9. Elder Smith was able to share his testimony there for that last time as a missionary and did a great job! It was a short and sweet meeting. Afterwords we raced back to Canby, changed, and then raced back up to Oregon City for the final district meeting for the week...yay! We shared our training and practice and before we knew it District meeting was already over. It was great! It got us all pumped to do missionary work and to share glad tiding of great joy! ;) I was then asked to help sing at a baptism and had a solo...I didn't think I could sing...I guess I could carry a note thanks to my dad! ;) I really enjoyed it...super weird...before my mission I didn't like to sing and now I love it! Weird how things change with confidence and a little bit of work! ;) The baptism was great! I always love going to baptisms. The spirit is always so strong! After the baptism we had to get our oil changed in Oregon City and after about 30 minutes we were headed back to Canby. We had time to see the Martin's, a part member family before dinner. They are a older couple and Bro Martin's name is Steve Martin! haha! Bro Marin is 94 years old and has had 6 hip replacements, but is still kicking. His wife is a non-member from Canada who loves it when we stop by, but isn't interested in taking the missionary discussions. It was so funny...we knocked on their door and waited, but looked like no one was home. While we were headed back to our car they pulled up and she looked like she was scowling at us. I just smiled and waved! She then recognized who we were and then smiled and waved back. In my mind I was waiting for her to pull out a gun and make shots in the air to tell us to go away when she ended up being the sweetest lady. We shared a Christmas message with them and they left them with our number and a Christmas card. They are great! We then had dinner and then had a lesson with the Talley family! It was a great day!

On Sunday after church, we had a fireside in the evening where all of the Canby missionarys: us, Canby 2nd Elders and the Spanish Sisters sang with some of the Canby 2nd members about missionary work: "All Times, All Things, All Places." It was great! The spirit was so strong. While singing I looked out in the audience and saw that their wasn't a dry eye in the room. It was really touching! I love being a missionary sooooo much! I'll say it again...THE BEST CALLING EVER! 

So those where the highlights for the week! Things are keeping busy here! I can't wait to take a short nap today on tired ha! 

I hope everyone was able to have a great week and that it was filled with fun, joy, and laughter! Thanks for supporting me and for being such a blessing in my life.

I would like to end with a short message that I got from my studies this week:   

I found this quote by Elder Bednar and absolutely love it!  

“We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

I know that we are never alone. Our Heavenly Father is cheering us on and our Savior is pulling with us our trials and challenges in this life. I know that the tender mercies are all over us! Look for them in your life and have joy! 

I love you all and hope that we can all find the many tender mercies of the lord! May the lord bless you! 

With love,
Elder Shaw 

1 Nephi 1:20

"...But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy December everyone! 

Wow . . . 2015 is already coming to a close . . . so weird . . . it feels like this year just barely started. 

So there have been many highlights for this week. We are still teaching Drew Talley! Uhhhh he is soooo close. He met with the bishop yesterday and got talking with him about baptism. Bishop told him that he is ready and just needs to step in the water. Drew was really touched! We are pushing for Dec. 19th!! We shall see how this week goes! 

Aaron and Josh are doing incredible! It was crazy! Both Elder Smith and I got up at the same time to go up and share our testimony's on Sunday and while we were waiting on the stand, Josh and Aaron ran up to sit with us. After we shared our testimonies they did . . . the spirit was so strong! I am so proud of them and I could feel how much heavenly father loved them and how he was very proud of their courage to share their testimonies . . . I might have shed a tear or too . . . so proud of our boys! 

So one of the many miracles that happened last week was when we went over to teach Fabian Sifuentez (referral from a less active) the Restoration. He read the pamphlet that we gave him 3 times and started reading the Book of Mormon. He is searching. His wife Lucia Sifuentez was raised Catholic and was very interested in what we had to share. We taught the Restoration. The spirit was so strong. We felt prompted to touch on baptism towards the end of the lesson and they both, especially Fabian were very interested. They are a sweet young couple who are searching for the truth! After the lesson they wanted us to come over this week and have dinner with them and have a lesson. We are looking forward to it! Such an awesome family!! We are pumped!!! Miracles for days!!!

Darrell Millar is doing a great job! We had some lessons this past week with him and the Ganir's. We have been teaching him slowly, principle by principle, and he is doing such a great job! He is remembering more and has keep ALL of his commitments. Towards the end the Ganir's brought up baptism and now we have him praying to know if he should be baptized. He was so funny . . . he said, "But I don't want to drown!" We all chuckled a little and reassured him that he wouldn't drown. We got a picture with him and his new suit. He is so proud of it and wears it everywhere! Ladies better look out!!! ;)

Tis the season for the hustle and bustle! We have been having a lot of meetings lately and will have a lot this week. We have zone conference all day Tues, the regular 3 district meetings, SPC, and for the fun ones: Temple Trip on Friday and Ward Christmas Party on Friday Night!! We are pumped!!! I love the spirit of Christmas! Then next week we have to finish our exchanges, Elder Smith has departing interviews and Temple Trip, and we have our Mission Christmas Party on Dec. 18th! Before we know it December will be gone! Crazy!!

This is my favorite time of the year. Everyone's spirits seem to be a bit brighter. I especially love being a missionary this time of the year! I love sharing my testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ. I am just sooo happy!! I love it! I hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of this wonderful Christmas season! 

This week I have been able to reflect the "Why," of this Christmas season: Why was a Savior born? I love the new Christmas video's #ASaviorisBorn. I was pondering this question this week: "What if a Savior wasn't born." I couldn't imagine a world without him. Having to cope with challenges alone. Having to live life in my mistakes; no back space, no delete. Not being able to feel relief from trials and sadness. Not being able to live again with my loved ones and with my heavenly father. Life would serve no purpose without our Savior Jesus Christ. Because of Him we can receive forgiveness, Because of Him we can live again, and Because of Him we can be happy. This Christmas season discover what is possible because of him and share it with others. We are so blessed to have the gospel in our lives and have the knowledge that we have of our Savior Jesus Christ. #sharegoodness

Matthew 1:23 "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

I know that God is with us, up and down, through thick and thin. He loves us. Share that love this Christmas Season!

I love you all so very much! I am grateful for your love and service. I hope you all have a wonderful week and touch the lives of many!

Elder Shaw