Monday, December 29, 2014

Hey everyone!

Thank you all so much for the Christmas and Birthday wishes! They brightened and made my week merry. I am so lucky to have the wonderful friends and family that I have. You all give me the strength and the drive to do my best and to “return with honor”! It was a sweet surprise to open up my "Birthday In a Box," to see the many wonderful letters and love and support from you all. Your love touched me, and I am so blessed to have each and every one of you in my life. Such a great support to me! It was the greatest Birthday/Christmas!

Merry Missionary Christmas!
I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I know that mine was fantastic! So we woke up and had a district breakfast at the stake center which was a lot of fun. In the kitchen with other goofy missionaries, is laughter waiting to happen! They are so great! I made my mom's biscuits and gravy . . .the easy way . . . I just added water! HaHa! I was surprised! It actually tasted good! After breakfast we went with the riverside elders back to their apartment to open presents and to Skype our families back home. I was so grateful to see my family's faces. It was way better than my phone call when I was going to Oregon because I could see them! I can't wait till I can run up to my family and friends and give them a big hug . . . but for know I will look forward to Mother’s Day when I can see their beautiful faces again and to wish my mother a happy Mother’s Day! (She is the greatest!) After we Skyped, we played some games and then we went and had two dinners!!! It would have been three, but we ran out of time. We had hot dogs at both dinners! Weird I know, but I guess it is a thing here...or not. HaHa! It was great! We made several visits to some part member families and to our investigators as well, and some of our less actives that we are working with. Christmas was great! It has been such a rewarding experience to experience the true meaning of Christmas on my mission. It is so true that when you serve the Lord to the best of your ability that you draw nearer to him, that you learn to love him. 

I had the greatest birthday ever! So we kicked off my birthday off right by going out for breakfast with the McDonald family. It was actually Sister McDonald's birthday too, which made it even more special. The food was great and I was able to try homemade grits for the first time! It was this cheesy rice thing. It tasted pretty good! After breakfast we tried contacting people in the pouring rain on our be honest it kinda sucked. I was cold, wet, and tired. I was hoping and aching for some sun! Anyway, after a full dreary afternoon of trying to contact people with no luck, we stopped by a less active family in the ward. This is when the day took a turn for the best! We got a new investigator! It turns out that one of the family member's girl friend is interested in learning more about the church. We shared a message with her and set up a return appointment for Tues. She was the sweetest
thing. After we taught, my companion told one of the family members that it was my birthday so she quietly left the house, went over to Jumbo's (a Chinese restaurant), and to the store to get me a cake for my birthday! It was a pleasant surprise! I got to eat with my people (love my Polynesians) for my birthday! We laughed and told a lot of jokes. They laughed at my laugh and laughed harder when I told them that I was told that my laugh sounded like a black man crying...anyway, it was truck loads of fun! I love the Tupou family! They are the greatest! Best birthday from home ever!     

New Year...New YOU!!!

With this new year fast approaching, I hope that everyone will have the time to reflect on some of their "new year’s resolutions," for the year 2015. I love the Mormon message "New Years: Look not behind thee." People in New York City are asked about the story of Lot, from the bible. The overall theme for the clip is for us to go into the new year, 2015, with faith in Jesus Christ and to leave the past behind and look ahead to a brighter future. In life we all make mistakes, but I am so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ that we are able to start anew. We don't have to wait until the next year to set another resolution. We can set them daily, weekly or monthly. Because of the savior we can start again, again, and again. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and a savior, Jesus Christ that would suffer for me. The atonement doesn't just cover our mistakes that we make, but also the feelings of loneliness, insecurities, and self doubts. We can receive the peace and joy in this life because of our savior Jesus Christ. Although we are incomplete, He loves us completely!

I love this story that was shared in sacrament meeting this Sunday. It shows the value and the need for the atonement in our lives.

The Room by Joshua Harris
“In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."
The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.
But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.
I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.
He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."
I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.”
Happy 19th!
I know that the Savior lives and loves each of us! May we turn to the Savior and use the gift he has given us. May we strive daily to be better, and do better. 

I know that as we center Christ in our lives, that we will have a firm foundation, and that our lives can be changed for the better. We can be transformed through Christ into the sons and daughters of God that we were destined to be! Christ can help us overcome anything because Christ has overcome the world. Let him in and watch yourself be transformed.

 Keep doing “good”! 

I love you all so much and I hope you all have a wonderful New Years! Let’s make this New Year the best!!!

Lots of Love,

Elder Shaw

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Elder Shaw's Christmas "Skype"!


                   To us!   


Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas to One and All!

Wow! Can't believe that it is already here! This past year has gone by like a blur. Can't believe that I'll be hitting my 5 month mark this week! Time has flown by for sure.

It has been an interesting and "out of this world" experience being just outside of Portland. It
My New District
is weird seeing so many lights and sooo many people. The Moreland ward is cozy. . . just over 70 members showed up for church yesterday. I was able to have the opportunity to pass the sacrament, which brought back a lot of memories. This past week I pretty much met the entire ward...that was weird. I just have to remember their names! Haha! There is a lot of work to be done here, but it has been hard to see all the people that we would like too because of the time it takes us to travel on our bikes...for Christmas I hope to look outside of the window to see a car with a bow on it! Haha! The ward boundary isn't as big as Estacada, but it is a pretty good size ward. I am excited to become more familiar with the ward and area!

I had a neat experience yesterday when we went to the hospital to give one of the sisters in the ward the sacrament. She has been there for over 6 years. Her health isn't really good, but that doesn't stop her from her beautiful smile. We literally had a mini sacrament meeting with songs, a lesson and of course the most important part...the
sacrament. There was such a sweet spirit there! When we finished the closing song, she sang the first verse over by herself. It was so beautiful. The spirit touched my heart. She made my Christmas! What an example to me of someone who is so faithful till the end.

I love this wonderful season! I am so grateful for the love that my Heavenly Father has for me by giving me his son so that I might have everlasting life. (John 3:16) Before the presents are unwrapped, and the eggnog is gone, read Luke 2: 1-21 and 1 Nephi 11:13-20 and compare the two. It has a powerful message of the birth of the Savior. It is
awesome to see how the Book of Mormon IS another testament of Jesus Christ! I promise that as you do this that you will be able to feel the true meaning of Christmas which is the Savior, even Jesus Christ.

The Savior makes all of the difference for me in my life. I am going to admit that serving the lord 24/7 isn't always easy. There are some days that I feel like I can't push anymore, but right when I feel weak, tired or lonely I feel the Savior all over me. "I CAN do ALL things through CHRIST which STRENGTHENETH me!" (Philippians 4:13)  I know this scripture to be true. Christ can strengthen us! I know this because he has strengthened me! I am so grateful for a Savior that knows me and is so sweet and understanding.

Couple of stockings from home
 for my Companion and I!
It has been such an amazing experience to feel the love that God has for ALL of his children. I am reminded of it every day...I feel it and I know it to be true . . . God loves every single one of his children intimately! No matter what mistakes we have made in the past, Christ’s mercy is always extended to us! It has been a neat experience lately. I meet people I don't even know, and can't help but love them, even if they don't love me back. I am so grateful to be on my mission! It has taught me how to love. Such a blessing; to give the Lord all that I've got, and to share his message to the world.

This season comes with a lot of gifts given and received, but what gift can we give the Savior this year? For this upcoming year, my goal is to give myself to the Savior and to serve other people the way he would. What gift(s) are you going to give the Savior?

Let us remember the reason for the season!

I love you all so much and hope that you have a Very Merry Christmas!.

All my love,
Elder Shaw

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


My new Home!

Hey all!  Sorry, but this e mail will be short due to the amount of time I have to write it in. I got transferred!!! :( Funny thing is I had a feeling I was going too. The area was doing so good! We picked up 3 new investigators and were teaching just over 20 lessons a week. I miss my Estacada family! They are so great. A new missionary Elder Parker took my place . . . he is so lucky! It has been an amazing experience to see the work in Estacada grow!

I have been transferred to the Moreland Ward in the Milwaukee Stake, just out of downtown Portland. My new companion is Elder Stone who is from Houston, Texas. He is a nice guy! I moved from the country all the way to the city...big change! I am now on a bike . . . so far so good . . . I am just a bit out of breath! Haha! The area isn't as big as Estacada, but it is a good size area especially with a bike. There are over 500 members here, but only 86 are active. I have a lot of work to do! Although this past week has been extremely difficult for me, I was never alone. The savior helped me adjust to the changes. I have found that when I don't think of myself, but think of others, I have been able to cope with the changes. There are people here that are waiting for me! There are people here that can use the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been hard leaving Estacada, but it wasn't goodbye, just see you later!
Mat and Tori's Wedding!
I am so grateful for the challenges that we face in life because it helps us rely on our source of power, the Savior. My testimony of him as grown so much! I am so grateful for him and for his perfect example. Our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us and for others. There are reasons behind every event in our lives. Every trial that we face is a new opportunity to learn and to grow! What helps me to be optimistic is to look for ways on how our trials can help us become who we our Heavenly Father wants us to be. I know that he knows what is best for us! We just have to trust him!

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

Elder Shaw

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hey Everyone!

Exchanges with Elder Snow from Gilbert, AZ
I hope that everyone is enjoying this busy, yet so wonderful, Christmas season. With many things to do, sights to see, and people to serve, I hope everyone is able to spend some time to reflect on the importance of this holiday season; the Savior, even Jesus Christ. I have been thinking of what gift I should give the Savior this year, and I have decided that the best gift I could give him is, myself: my time, effort, hopes, desires, dreams and talents; total surrender. Although some of the sacrifices we make this season may cause us to not sleep as much, or do the things that we want to do, I know that as we serve other people, we serve God, and by serving God he makes all things possible. We can receive the things we need to become successful. I love this scripture in the Bible in Matthew 11: 28-30: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Through the hustle and bustle of this holiday season we can receive peace of mind and gain help in all that we do! 

Now on the subject of the hustle and bustle of this holiday season. . . . First off, we have zone conference on Friday for most of the day, secondly we have Mat and Tori's wedding on Saturday, and transfers on Monday (I hope I stay!). Last week we managed to squeeze 21 lessons in and this week we have set 28 lessons! I was looking at the calendar and wondering if we will be able to do it all. As I pondered, I could feel the peace that my Savior gave me telling me that it will all be alright. We will be able to have time to accomplish all the things HE wants us to do. I just have to remember to take things day by day and not bite off more than I can chew. :) 

"It's REAL!"
This past Sunday we had a Christmas Miracle . . . seriously! ALL of our investigators were at church! Mat, Tori, Nina, and Nikki! I was shocked to see Nina and Nikki walk in. Right when I saw them I got a little emotional and ran up to Nina and gave her a hug. Nina said that when she started to come to church was when she wanted to start working toward her baptismal date! I was so overjoyed! We also had several of our less actives come. Enola, a sweet, spunky, little old lady (86 yrs), walked into church! I ran up to her and gave her the biggest hug! She is such a sweetheart. We then had a new couple with their grandkids walk into the chapel. It was one of our referrals that had come to church! Kirt and Marian! I was literally leaping for joy! We just got two new investigators that had already come to church by themselves. Talk about how the Lord prepares his people!! It was one of the best Sunday's I had ever had! I finally felt like all of the hard work had paid off! All of us nearly took up an entire middle bench! It felt like my home away from home! I was with some of the people I love dearly! I love the opportunity I have to serve these people. I am so blessed in every way! The members and people who live here don't have a lot, but they will bend over backwards to help others. We are all family here! ;) What an example they are to me of Christ-like love and service! I am the luckiest missionary!

"Pass A-long card decorations!"

This week I have gained a great testimony of the power of prayer and fasting. The Lord hears and answers our prayers! We just need to do all that we can in our power to serve the Lord and he will pour down all the blessings we desire and need! Although fasting for two consecutive meals may be hard, it is worth it in every ways. I promise all of you that as you fast with a purpose and with a prayer in your heart the Lord will bless you with the things you need. So use the power of fasting!!! It works!!!

It has been such an amazing experience, the past 4 ½ months, to watch the work in Estacada grow so much. I have learned that as we are obedient and always do our best, that the Lord will pour out his miracles to us! I love this quote by Ezra Taft Benson "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power." Always strive to be obedient! When we do our best and are obedient to the Lord and his commandments blessings and happiness comes . . . ALWAYS!

I hope all of you have a wonderful week! Never quit! Keep doing what is right and always do your very best and what miracles happen! You all are AMAZING! Don't let other people tell you otherwise!  

Love and miss you all!

Elder Shaw

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hey all!

Wow! Can't believe that we are already in December! Only 25 days till I receive the greatest Christmas present ever...a call/Skype home!!!

A lot of exciting and stressful things are going to be happening in the next two weeks! Mat and Tori's wedding is moved up to Dec, 13th at 3! Super excited to participate in the wedding!  I get to be a groomsman! (I'll make sure that we take loads of pictures) We also have zone conference next week and transfers on the 15th of Dec. Yikes!!! I would love to stay in Estacada for one more transfer to see mat and Tori's baptism go through, but I understand that the lord will put me where I need to go for a specific reason. He never makes mistakes! I have learned and have grown in so many ways from being in Estacada! I am so grateful for the wonderful experiences I have been able to have thus far on my mission! #lovebeingamissionary

This past week has been a blur! We have been very busy! Lots of lessons! The work in Estacada has picked up a ton! We visited a member family last week and were able to get a family referral from them! 5 possible baptisms!! Yay! I guess the mother and father are very interested in the gospel and would like to come to church! The mother is suffering through kidney stones and has her surgery on weds to zap them. We will be stopping by tonight to give her a blessing.

Our investigators have been progressing very well. One of them plans on attending church soon! I am so grateful for the Lord! He prepares his people to receive the gospel! As missionaries we are only instruments in his hands!

Thanksgiving was bitter-sweet. It was sweet because of the yummy desserts! Haha! Also we were able to eat at the Jones's which was very fun filled! It was kind of bitter because I wasn't home, but overall it was sweet! I loved experiencing different things. Not only has it helped me grow, but it has helped me have the courage to try new things (Except for my order at Panda Express; only chow mien and orange chicken) P.S. the Lord knows me! He has put me in a place where there is a Pandas in every city! I am so spoiled! :/ Been going to Pandas every's bad! :/

This week I have been able to experience one of the many tender mercies the lord had given me. It has been a crazy past couple of weeks. It has been go, go, go and I didn't really have a lot of time to catch my breath, physically and emotionally. I was very tired and missed my family a lot. So of course when I was able to have some down time this Thanksgiving I let it all out. :( I remember that I just sat down in the bathroom, and just let it all out. I felt very homesick and alone. Then I could feel the Savior's love wrap around me and in my mind I heard him say, "I am with you every step of the way. I will never leave you comfortless." It was such a tender experience. I was reminded that the Savior was aware of me and my situations. He was in the details of my life. He loves and cares for his brothers and sisters. He will never leave us comfortless.

I hope you all had a great thanksgiving! I am so grateful for each and every one of you! You all make me feel like the luckiest missionary alive. Have a wonderful week!

Much love, 
Elder Shaw