Monday, June 23, 2014

Reflections of a one year old missionary


I had been praying all week that you would all have a wonderful, spiritual experience up at girl’s camp, and I definitely did not expect to hear what you told me! But, I am super glad that everything turned out so well. I am actually kind of jealous, Camp Bishop sounds like a blast! :) Thank you for sharing all your experiences. I am still laughing about the bishopric skit. PLEASE send me a picture, that sounds like something I need to see! :) 

This last week has been a wonderful, but crazy week. I can´t even believe that I have been here in Peru as a missionary for a year now. I actually had a really cool experience on Thursday, my one year mark. Our zone did this massive work visit, where all the senior companions of the zone, were paired up with a different junior companion and we were able to work together for a day to learn from each other, and help each other out. I was paired up with Hermana Olivas who has been here for about 5 weeks, it’s her first transfer. She is from Utah. So on Wednesday we worked together all afternoon in my area, and then she stayed the night with me. On Thursday morning we had studies together and then did the exchanges after lunch. We had our personal study (I finished reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish that morning, I´ll tell you more about that in a sec) and then during comp study we just started to talk, and we talked and talked and talked all morning. She expressed some of her frustrations, and difficulties that she has been having and I swear it was like listening to a reflection of me, from one year ago. For example, all the struggles with the language, not understanding what is going on in the lessons, wanting to talk and help people, but not having to words to do it, and so much more. I was able to share some of my experiences and things that I have learned that have helped me, and it was really awesome. It actually kind of amazed me, I hadn´t realized how much I had changed, and grown, until we had that conversation. I remembered where I had been, and realized where I was now. I feel like a different person, there were so many things about me that I wanted to change when I got here, and I know that with Heavenly Fathers help I am changing into a better, happier, stronger, person. I still have sooooooooo far to go, but I know that Heavenly Father has blessed me, and helped me so much in this last year. I was showing her pictures from the CCM and she said, wow! You look so young! I was like, what?? and then I looked at a picture from then, and a picture from now and it was true. She told me I look a lot more grown up and mature now. Haha, I hope so! I rememeber when I first got into the field during the lessons when my trainer would look at me to talk and I would give her the, are you crazy? look because I didn´t even know what was going on, to being the one in my trainers position, leading and teaching all the lessons with Hna Oliva, and translating for her what was going on. It was something I never would have thought possible, but here I am! 
I felt so humbled to realize, and to be able to have that experience. And so, so grateful as well, for all the many blessings I have received from my Heavenly Father. I know I still have soo far to go, and so much more to learn, but I really like the path I´m on.

That morning I also finished reading the Book of Mormon all the way through in Spanish. It’s taken me a year, but I did it! When I started out at the beginning of my mission I would read a verse, in Spanish, then reread it in English. Then I was able to move on to just having my English scriptures open next to me, that I would consult every once in a while when I didn´t know what was going on, and then somewhere in Mosiah I left behind my English scriptures and it became a whole different experience. I feel like I read the Book of Mormon this time from a whole different perspective. As a missionary, and in Spanish I understood it in such a different way and learned so many new things. I absolutely love the Book of Mormon in Spanish! I know that it is true. I love the happiness I feel every morning as I open it up, and read, and learn from its words and from the spirit. 

Another thing I learned this week is that change, is the most constant thing in our life. This last week in our zone one elder had to go home for family problems, another had an emergency transfer for the fault of another person, and another is being reassigned to a different mission along with 8 other missionaries from our mission. 9 missionaries from Central America are being reassigned to different missions for problems with visas and among them are 5 really good friends. It kind of breaks my heart to have to say goodbye to them, but Heavenly Father is in charge and I know that whatever happens, happens for a reason. 

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week and know that I am always praying for you! Tell Maddi I say hi! I can´t believe she is coming home! Ah!

Love you all,

Hermana Shelton 

Monday, June 16, 2014

One year older and wiser too...

Well everybody, I have officially decided that the best two days of my mission so far have been when Elder Nelson came in November, and Saturday when Elder Oaks was here.

Haha, Ok, maybe not, buuuuuuuuuuuuut there are up there! Listening to an Apostle speak (especially when it is directed right to you) is the coolest experience EVER. 

I started out the day just on cloud nine, because the whole mission was together and I got to see all my favorite people and friends, and old zone, and just, so many people that I love. Hermana Schroader was like, Hermana Shelton, your eyes are glowing! and I just told her, its cause I am just so happy to be here, with so many people I love! 

And then it just got even better. Elder Oaks is SO COOL. I have about a bajillion things I want to tell you that he said, and I hope it all makes sense cause I don´t have a lot of time, but here we go.

His wife spoke before him, and finished by telling us all to say a prayer in our hearts and ask for guidance that we needed, or a question that we wanted answered, and that we would receive an answer through the words of Elder Oaks. So I did. And then Elder Oaks got up, and told us about an experience he had where the spirit taught HIM while he was the one giving a talk. He said that as he was talking to an audience (I don´t remember where) He shared something that he told them wasn´t Church doctrine, but was more of his personal opinion. He said in that moment he received a very strong spiritual impression that he wrote down as soon as he finished talking. And that impression was, ¨Never share your personal opinion. As an Apostle of the Lord you are not entitled to that anymore¨ It was cool to hear him say that because it affirmed my testimony that everything we hear from him (and the other apostles) are words directly from God. They are words that we can trust. He then told us that in meetings like this he never prepares a written talk, his only way to prepare is by reading the scriptures and prayer. Because every audience is different and needs different guidance. Even the Peru Cusco mission that he spoke too on Friday needs a different message then the Lima North mission needed on Saturday.

So, before I tell you the next part. I´ll tell you what my question was. It was along the lines of, ¨what can I do to be a better missionary? How can I make these next six months even better than this last year? How can I be more diligent, more obedient, more focused, etc....¨ It’s something I have had on my mind for a while because I felt a little stuck, and frustrated, because there are so many things I want to do, but sometimes the natural man gets in the way. And I get frustrated with myself and get down, which is something that never helps. So I asked for help with that.

Well, after he finished telling us a funny story (Elder Oaks is really funny, he told us some funny stories and jokes and we were all just laughing, and laughing. he told us that God gave us a sense of humor to get us through the hard times. :)) He paused for a moment, looked upward, and then told us this.
There are a lot of missionaries that when they talk about their mission refer to it as ¨My Mission¨ and that isn´t necessarily bad. He said he wouldn´t necessarily correct someone if they said that. But, he said that if saying that impacts our point of view, then we shouldn´t refer to it that way. For example, if we are thinking more about what WE get out of the mission (learning a new language, living in a different country, etc...) then we aren´t allowed to say My Mission. Because the truth is that this isn´t our mission. This is HIS mission. It doesn´t matter what we gain because we are here to do the Lords work. Knowing that and focusing not on what we can gain, but what we can gain for the Lord, helps us to be more obedient, more diligent, continue on when we are tired, etc...
Like it  says in Alma 17:9 we are instruments in the hands of the Lord. He used the example of a pen. A pen doesn´t say to the hand he´s in, ¨I don´t feel like writing for you today, or, I´m too tired to write right now¨ A pen writes(shares) the message of the hand it’s in.

And he said so much more that I don´t have time to share! Ah! As he was talking I was trying to write as fast as I could to write it all down when he blessed us with the memory of this day for the rest of our lives, and the strength to keep our commitments according to our desires and faith. 

This helped me so much. Every time I feel tired, or discouraged, or whatever other feeling that impedes the work, I just think ( and will think) This isn´t MY mission. This is HIS mission. I have done that the past two days and have already seen a difference.

After the meeting I was like, man, I must have been the only one who asked a question because he was talking directly to me! But during lunch Elder Rosa, one of the missionaries in my ward, said that he felt that same. That he answered exactly the question that he had asked. It was so cool to be in that room and feel the Spirit, and power, and authority and see the Spirit work through him to teach us all what we needed to hear in that moment.

I know this Church is true and is led by a Prophet and Apostles called of God. 

Ugh. They are kicking me off. Sorry I don´t have time to respond to anyone individually. Happy Father’s day dad! I love you! Thank you for everything you do for me! Also, Jess I loved all your girls camp cheers. They are super clever. I loved reading about your adventure with Grandma. We need to do one just like that when I get back. :)

Ok! Love you all so much! Have a wonderful, wonderful week at Girls camp!

Hermana Shelton

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Helloooo everybody!

I can hardly believe another week has come and gone. I love hearing from all of you and for all the stories and quotes that you share. They really help and I love hearing about what’s going on at home!

Tell Grandma Cutler Happy 98th for me! Wow. I look forward to being there for her 99th birthday :) Also! I can`t believe I forgot to put this in last week’s email. Tell Ashley congrats on her mission call! I bet Holly is excited that she is going to Spain, and I am excited that we will be able to talk in Spanish when we all get home :) A girl in my ward just left last week for the Portland Oregon mission, and I told her to look for Maddi....but. They probably won’t meet. I didn`t realize Maddi was getting home so soon! Wow.

Also, Mom I got the package this week! Thank you! I love all the pictures. Also, I finished reading the conference ensign in two days. I love general conference so much! It was great to be able to read the talks I missed and to be able to read them all in English :)

Exciting news of the week. Elder Oaks is coming to our mission on Saturday! Eeeeeee! 

This last week we had the marriage of a less active family. I have pictures I want to send, but Hna Valdivia told me that the last time she tried sending pictures in this internet cafe it erased her memory card. sooo... I probably won’t be sending any pictures for a while. But there was one moment during the wedding that just was a "everything is worth it" moment. The family has two little kids, and after they had their first dance together their two little kids joined them. They were all dressed in white and were dancing in a circle together, and it was so sweet. They now have a goal to be sealed in the temple in one year from now. And it just made me realize, that is why we are here. So families can be together forever. 

We have been struggling a little, my companion and I to find new investigators. Well this last Sunday we fasted for that purpose and had two awesome experiences. On Wednesday we went to visit a less active young woman, and instead found her dad! He said that he had attended church before, but when we introduced the plan of salvation to him he said he`d never heard about it. He let us in and we taught him the first part of lesson two, and invited him to be baptized and he accepted! He wasn`t able to come to church this week, but we feel good about him and are excited to work with him, meet his wife, and continue working with his daughter. Also, yesterday as we were walking down the street and older lady stopped us, and asked if we could teach her about the gospel. Of course we said yes! and she asked if we could teach her right then. So we did, and she invited us back to her house this Wednesday because she wants to hear more and wants us to teach her children as well. 
Heavenly Father answers prayers!

I wanted to tell you a super cute story from a family home evening we had last week but there isn`t time. Remind me next week to tell you! 

I hope all is well at home and that everyone is happy and are reading their scriptures and saying their prayers every day! It’s the little things that count.

Love you all!
Hermana Shelton

My zone leader just forwarded us a picture of our zone. Here you go! This is my new zone, zona Collique. My companion is the one in the tan, to the right of me.

Monday, June 2, 2014


It is super weird to me that you all are out of school and that it is summer there! Today Hna Valdivia and I are going shopping for tights, gloves, and scarfs to keep us warm cause it is gettin pretty chilly here! The other day I was thinking about it, and in the space of two years I am going to have 3 winters, and only 1 summer. Super weird, but it’s ok. It’s worth it because I love being here in Peru!
One thing the cold brings though is well....a cold. Ha. I have been sick with a pretty bad cold since my 2nd day in this area (going on two weeks now) And I lost my voice for a couple days. That sure made teaching lessons an experience. It also happened to be my first Sunday in the ward and now everyone here thinks that I have the voice of a frog. Buuut it’s ok. Life goes on. I`m feeling a lot better now as well, and the bishop of our ward here took us to the pharmacy and bought some medicine for me which was really sweet. 

Guess what?! I LOVE my new area! Imagine that? It’s always hard to have changes, but I know that they are necessary and bring new experiences and I know that I am here for a reason. I absolutely love my companion. I think I mentioned before that she is from Mexico. We are a lot alike. She also has only girls in her family, but there are 3 of them instead of 5. And all three of them are out on missions right now. She lives like 30 minutes away from San Diego and after her mission she wants to get a visa and go to school at BYUI. She was trained by Hermana Hulse, my companion from the CCM which is kind of fun cause we have that connection. We both love guacamole and salsa (which they don`t have here) On Friday one of the less active families we are working with is getting married and we volunteered to make guacamole to bring to the reception so everyone here can try it and see what they`re missing out on. :)

I feel like Heavenly Father has answered a lot of my prayers by putting me in this area. It’s hard to explain but it’s true. 

Also! I`m losing weight again instead of gaining, woo hoo! haha. Because my last area was so big I got used to always taking the bus or a moto. I guess you could say I got pretty lazy. :) But here there aren't any buses that go through our area really and we only take motos if we are running super late. And, our area has a lot of hills again! So, basically we walk a lot, and climb hills all day. I`m ok with that though. :)

 We had a cool experience this last week that has helped me understand even more the importance of teaching the members as well. Our ward mission leader is a recently rescued less active, his wife was baptized in December along with his brother in law, his sister who was less active as well is active. The four of them live together with their families and all of them have callings in the ward. The two sisters are in the Relief Society presidency, and then the other is in the young men’s presidency. They are all really strong and are the ones we can always count on to do their visits and accompany us to lessons and we really enjoy being with them. Well, last Monday we had a family home evening and we felt impressed to share the video about John Rowe Moyle, ``Only a Stonecutter'' After we watched it our ward mission leader said that the he had been praying for a very long time for an answer and that he felt that we had come in the precise moment to show this video to him, and it had been an answer to prayers. It was a cool experience. And it was cool because, even though he is our ward mission leader it still goes to show that it is important to share the gospel with everyone! It is an awesome feeling knowing that you followed a prompting and were able to help someone else. I think that is one of the best parts of being a missionary. 

I wanted to share a quote with you all that I found this last week in a glue-in in my English scriptures. It’s from CS Lewis from his book, Mere Christianity.
''People everywhere seek to invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history-money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery- the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God that will make him happy. The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us, invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He himself if the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.''

I don`t know why, but for some reason this quote really stuck out to me. I have been reading in Helaman in my personal study of the Book of Mormon (I have been working on reading the Book of Mormon all the way through in Spanish, my goal is to finish it by my year mark) and I found a scripture that goes right along with that quote. It is what a lot of people were trying to do in this period of the Book of Mormon. They were trying to find happiness outside of God. But the truth is that it just doesn't. exist. You can feel happy for a little while maybe, but it doesn't last. I know that the only true, lasting happiness comes from our loving Heavenly Father. If you’re interested I was reading in chapter 13, verse 38.

Ah! the reason we have less time is cause our zone leaders give us less time in this zone. :P So I have to go, but I love you all! Have a wonderful first week of summer! :)

Hermana Shelton