Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi guys!

Wow! Can't believe that it is already the holidays! I love that special feeling in the air every year around this time. I enjoy the time that I have to reflect on what I am grateful for. 

This week has been extremely fun, yet very busy! I have been trying to keep up! HaHa! We were able to have 20 lessons with our less actives and investigators!!! I love teaching people about the gospel! Also I was very happy that we reached our goals! :) It just goes to show that if we plan and set goals and ask the Lord to help us, he will help us see things through! When we call upon the Lord in prayer, he will guide us in our lives and help us reach our goals. It is crazy how my testimony of prayer and scripture study have been strengthened since I have been out. I have found that by doing the basics: prayer, scripture study, going to church, and serving others, we are able to find joy, peace, happiness, and enjoy the presence of the Spirit in our lives.

I love serving the people in Estacada. It is such a humbling experience. Not a lot of the people here have a lot, some come from broken families, some have overcome obstacles that I could never have dreamed of overcoming, and a lot of people don't have the support and love that comes from a family. I can't help but to love them! They are my brothers and sisters and we are all part of one big family. I love sharing the gospel with them specifically the strength and joy that comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. I may not know how I can help them, but he does! He knows us! He has suffered for us! He loves us each and every one of us. As we rely on the promptings of the Spirit, we will know what to say, do, and will be guided in our lives. 

I am so grateful for the gift of the Spirit and its influence in my life. The Spirit talks to us and as we listen intently without fear, we can do the will of our Heavenly Father. Fear is the absence of Faith. We all can triumph over our fears and insecurities as we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He can strengthen us . . . . . he has strengthen me! 

I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and for my brother Jesus Christ. I am grateful for this opportunity I have to be on a mission and give the Lord my heart. "I, Nephi, (Elder Shaw), having been born of goodly parents..." I am so blessed to have the parents, family, and friends that I have! I can feel your love every day! You all keep me going! I am so grateful for your examples and love that you have given me. I am so grateful for a mother who sacrifices her time, efforts, and will for her children and for the Lord. Her testimony has saved me in my life! She is one of my rocks that I lean on in my life! I am so grateful for a father who worthily holds the priesthood and has taught me the importance of serving others. Every time there is an opportunity to cut the grass, boy do I take it! ;) 

I miss my sisters so very much! They have influenced my life in so many ways, and I have confidence that they will be great instruments in the Lords hands. They have always been such a great example to me! I am so grateful for the many blessings that come from the gospel of Jesus Christ.   

This scripture sums up my feelings perfectly: "Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen." (See Alma 26:37)

I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that the Lord is mindful of his children. There are never coincidences. The people that we met and talk with are put in our path for a reason, and that reason is to share the gospel with them. In the bible dictionary the word "gospel," means "good news!" Let us share the glad tidings of joy this holiday season!  

 Love you all! You all are AMAZING!!!!

Lots of Love,

Elder Shaw

Monday, November 17, 2014

Baptisms, Weddings...Oh my!!!

Hey everyone! 

I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of the holiday season as I am! It has been a whole truck load of craziness! First off the weather has been ridiculous! Thank goodness for scarves, jackets, and for the heater in the car!!! It was in the mid to low 30s and even some days in the 20s! My thin blood from AZ has had to do a lot of adjusting! Ha-ha! I am beginning to like the cold...weird right!?! We had freezing rain on Thursday! It was crazy! Nothing like I have ever experienced! These past 3 days have been cold, but the sunshine has been great! 

The work in Estacada is going crazy! We have been so busy this past week! We have been go, go, go! We had over 15 lessons! We had to eat in the car a ton last week because of all of the driving to and from appointments. On Wednesday, we had an appointment with 3 of our investigators: Mat, Tori, and Kody and we were able to teach them the plan of salvation. During our study before hand, we felt like it was time to extend the invitation to be baptized. We prayed for a date and the spirit told the both of us that Jan. 24th will be the day they will be baptized. We met at the church and had a very good lesson! The spirit prompted us to extend the we go! I first asked Mat if he will be baptized he said yes! Then I asked Tori if she would be baptized! She also said yes! Then finally I asked Kody if he would be baptized and he said . . . . . . YES!!! We now have 3 baptisms on Jan. 24th 2015!!! Words couldn't explain all of the feelings of happiness that I was experiencing. All of the bad days made this moment worth it in my mission! It was one of the greatest moments of my life! Mat, Tori, and Kody remind me so much of my friends. They are always there for each other no matter what! I knew that I was sent to Estacada to find them and to give them the opportunity to come closer to Christ. They are so great! Mat is 20, Tori, is 19, and Kody is 22. Mat and Tori are engaged, and Kody is one of their best friends. Since Mat and Tori are engaged and have been living with each other, before the baptism they need to be married. They wanted to be married in August, but financially it didn't work out. We said how we could arrange a wedding at the church where Bishop Hawkins could marry them, and have a potluck afterward.

They were thrilled!! So I guess I am planning a wedding!!! We had a couple of dates in mind, and they decided that since the baptism and the wedding would be a new start for them in their life, they decided to have their wedding on Dec. 31st, 2014! New Years Eve!!! Mat said that he might want me to be his best man! :) I have a lot to look forward too! After we would teach Mat, Tori, and Kody the lessons, Mat would then teach me how to play the piano. Who knows I might come back and be able to play like Beethoven?!?  It has been such a great experience full of fun! They are a great group of young adults! This past week has been crazy but boy has it been worth it! I love being a missionary!

Another one of our investigators Nina is super close to being baptized. We are going to extend the commitment this week! Who knows we might be able to have five baptisms in January!!! The only thing that worries me is that transfers are already three weeks away...I don't want to leave Estacada! Hopefully president will see all of our hard work and will let me stay for one my transfer so that I'll be able to go to the wedding and the baptisms and not have to go to a different area before Christmas! That would be extremely hard! Anyways I just have to hold tight and enjoy the ride! 

This week I have been thinking of one of my most favorite quotes by Elder Jeffrey R Holland: "Don't you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is hope and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come. "We all have rough days. But don't you quit. The good days that we receive, far outweigh the bad days. Always be optimistic and focus on the good and always have a grateful heart, and you will find that life will be a lot easier. When things go wrong as they sometimes will, if you have an optimistic mindset you will be able to focus on what is most important and will be able to enjoy life more freely! Always focus on the good.

We all have insecurities. We may wonder why we experience the trials that we do. We may wonder why we have received the callings which we have, but I know that the Lord will qualify us for his work. "Who the Lord calls, the Lord will qualify. When you're on the Lords errand, you're entitled to the Lords blessings. “– Thomas S Monson   Heavenly father sees our full potential. We have to continually trust him and his power and I understand that he knows what's best for everyone of us. We need to remember to be patient not with just other people, but also with ourselves. Never forget who you truly are, a son or daughter of a heavenly father who loves you. We all have so much potential! 

Never quit! Focus on the good! Keep going! Good things will always come from your good works! Keep being AMAZING! Always look for ways to do good! 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love and miss you all! 

Lots of love,

Elder Shaw 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Endure and Trust God in All Things

Greetings from the rainy country! Wow! Has it rained! It is crazy! I am starting to miss the sunshine...It makes me grateful when I look outside of the window and see a little patch of blue sky...haha there is always hope!

This week has been a little bit stressful, but it has been great all together. Getting adjusted to change can be tough and stressful, but I have learned that stress only comes from not having enough patience in our situations. We need to have faith in our Heavenly Father and his timing and trust that things will happen for our good. Heavenly Father is aware of our situations. He knows what's best for us. Whenever we need help or guidance we just need to ask. I know that he will help us because he has helped me in so many ways. "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you."(D&C 88:63-64)

Rain is just water dancing!
The work in the Estacada Ward continues to surprise me! We had a powerful lesson with one of our investigators Nina. We shared the talk "His grace is sufficient." The spirit was so strong! It was exactly what she needed. She then said her first prayer. It was beautiful! We also had another lesson with another one of our investigators, Bob. Originally we were going to teach him about prayer, but less than an hour before the lesson the spirit prompted me to talk about faith, specifically having faith in Jesus Christ through trials. When we got there and as we listened to Bob he talked about how he was trying to build his faith in Christ after his mother recently passed away. He then talked about some of the other trials he was facing. The lesson planned was perfect. The spirit sends us promptings and talks to us, as we listen to the spirit, act on the promptings we receive, and are worthy to have the spirit with us we will be guided and directed. I am so grateful for the decision I made 10 years ago to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was given the gift of the Holy Ghost that day, and I am so grateful for that wonderful gift. The Holy Ghost gives us guidance, direction, comfort, and protection in our lives. I am grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

We had the privilege of having stake conference this past weekend. President Monson and several other leaders in the church talked to us. It was very good. I liked Neil L. Anderson talk when he spoke of an opposition in all things. There is a scripture in 2 Nephi 2:11 "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility..." If it wasn't for opposition we could never learn or grow. If we never know misery we could never know happiness. If we never experienced the storm and rain we would never experience the sunshine. :) Always remember that the trials that you may be facing won't last forever and that if we turn to God we can receive peace. Just how Joseph Smith was faced with trials in liberty jail, God gave him comfort in D&C 121:7-8: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes..."  We can do all things through Christ.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week! I miss you all! Remember that you can do all things through Christ. Keep doing good! ;)

Lots of love, 
Elder Shaw

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hey everyone!

Wow! A ton of things have been happening lately! First off, the weather is in the 40s, lower 50s. The leaves on the trees continue to change their color so the drop in temperature is well worth it. Thank goodness for jackets, sweaters etc. ha! They keep me warm! I heard the weather is finally getting nice down in AZ! :)

Me and Elder O'Sullivan

We had transfers yesterday so I had to say "see you later" (never goodbye) to my trainer Elder Olsen. It was way tough parting ways with people that you have grown to love. (Ha! I thought that was tough can't wait to see what emotional state I will be when I leave my mission. :/ ) It wasn't a coincidence that we were put together. We had our tough times, but mostly good! He became one of my best friends! I have learned so much from him and I look forward and I am excited for the opportunity I have to learn from my new companion Elder O'Sullivan (Sully).

I love the people that I am serving! It is going to be extremely hard to say "see you later" to them. When I was done with my training it was interesting to see how much I have changed. The mission has already changed my life is so many ways for the better! We come to know Christ when we serve Christ and by serving other people, we are serving Christ! I love this great opportunity I have to learn and to grow and to adapt to change. There will be a lot of changes with the mission, but I know that I will become stronger from it. I never thought I would say this, but I love opportunities to change, although it isn't always very comfortable.

We had a ward "trunk or treat" and a chili cook off last week for Halloween. We got so many less actives and investigators there! It was an AMAZING experience and I had a lot of fun! (People loved my devil eyes! Ha I hope I didn't scare to many children!) We were able to give some of our investigators a tour of the church building. It was fantastic! We then decorated our trunk and passed out candy to the young ones. It was a great night!

A couple of months ago, when I first came to Estacada, we ran into some homeless couple (Mat and Tori) and gave them our number to see if we could do anything to help them. Long story short, they both got on their feet, both are working at Sparky's Pizza, and both of them are doing pretty well. Mat is 21 and Tori is 19. One day we found out where they were living and made a visit to them. After a series of short lessons, last week we finished teaching them about the restoration. We then invited and got them a ride to church and they came on Sunday as well as 2 of our other other investigators. We received a new bishopric and they were able to bear their testimonies and then they turned the time over to us. Mat walked up to the heart raced! Then he gave a beautiful testimony and said "I know without a doubt that this church is true!" Tears streamed down my face. The spirt was so strong! I tasted how sweet a mission can truly be! I have realized my true purpose as a missionary, invited others to come to Christ! I know that the Lord prepares his people! There aren't any coincidences. The people we meet are put in our way for a reason. Later, Mat and Tori committed to baptism! We are working on preparing them and helping them the best we can (they have to get married first so I might be able to go to a wedding on my mission!). What a blessing I have to be a missionary in this day and age. The Lord is hastening his work so we all better hold on tight!

This week I have been under a lot of stress, (taking over the area! Look out! ) but I have turned to the lord and to the scriptures and found much needed peace and guidance. I know that the Lord qualifies us for his work. We may feel inadequate with the calling we are asked to do, but I know that whatever we are called for is for a reason! We may not know why or how, but if we rely on the lord, prayer, and the scriptures we will receive peace, guidance, and certainty that the callings we were chosen to perform is just for us and it is exactly what we need. The lord knows us perfectly!

I have been humbled to work with many people that don't have very much. It breaks my heart to see children and families that don't know what they will have for their next meal. It has shown me that I always need to be more charitable and giving. I don't need to think of myself, but I need to think of others. I have found that when you go out serving others your struggles and challenges fade away and you receive much need strength to pull through your trials. I know that we all can do the same.  Our burdens will be made light as we serve other people.

I love you all and I hope that you are all doing great! You are all in my prayers nightly! Thanks for your awesome examples, love, support, and optimism! Can't believe that the holidays are coming! :/ wow! Time flys when you are having fun! Have a fantastic week everybody!

Lots of Love,
Elder Shaw