Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hot and Cold



Bennett:

 This week was fun and very very wet. It rained so hard here that we had water leaking from the roof in our house! The river rose and filled everything in. So, now my days and area are filled with floating bridges and boats everywhere! The area is getting super worked now. We have 3 more investigators being baptized this Saturday. We are super excited for this week. This is also the last week I'll have with Elder Espinoza :( the dude is such a homie! I'll miss him a lot. So I'll have a new companion next week. The zone is doing just great. Being a zone leader is fun and has taught me a lot about kindness and patience. We will have 13 baptisms this month. It should be a great March. Elder Espinoza and I are doing fantastic work the area Bellavista. We have give or take, 20 investigators and 6-12 investigators in the church on a weekly basis so we are literally working like it was our last change. (hold your applause for Elder Espinoza)

Iquitos is fun.  Now we are going into winter so that means it will just rain more like 3 times a day instead of 2 and the temperature will be the exact same, if not hotter. Having 19 months is kinda weird.  Everyone looks at me as if I had 20 years more than that. Along with my group, we are the oldest North American missionaries here in the mission. Like we are SUPER OLD here. There are not a lot of people close to our time in the mission. Also, I'm making some bracelets for the
missionaries as a little gift for their work this transfer. There are some cool red seeds here in the jungle.  I hope they'll like them 'causeI I've been working my butt off to make 'em! 

Love you all!

Here's some floating bridges in my area. It's about 10 feet to the bottom under them.  All the surface is covered with plants! During my time on these bridges I've seen huge piranhas and electric eels and turtles, lizards and all sorts of animalitos. Also, the bag is full of the seeds I've using for the bracelets and they aren't painted! Red and black is the natural color of these seeds!









Jackson:




 Hey guys!! 
I'm in Puerto Montt today!! But I'll get to that later!! This week was really awesome! I'm saying that because if I don't I'll break down and cry! haha I miss the beach and sunshine of California! This was the first week that it really felt like winter, it poured and rained and wailed and howled! We got hit with a huge storm from the mountains and it covered us for almost the whole week! It was sunny on Monday, so we left the window open that night and I woke up at 3 am in a soaking wet sleeping bag!! It started to rain and I sleep right next to the window! I was so cold, I still don't feel warm from that still.  It's pretty hard to know that it's going to be like that for the rest of my mission!! But despite that, this was an awesome week!! We worked really hard with the members! The branch here has been hit with a lot of trials lately and although we can't do much, we can make cookies.  And who doesn't love a huge gringo with a horrible accent(me)?! Juan, who was baptized last week, got the priesthood this week!! I love how quick he moved forward! I had the privilege to confirm him last week and to give him the priesthood this week! Its the first time that I've done either of those things! It was a unique and emotional moment for me to say to someone "Receive the Holy Ghost." the power of God manifests itself in the power and firmness of those words. The same thing goes when confirming the priesthood upon an eligible young man!! I'm excited to see Juan serve the Sacrament in church next week, the first young man to do so in this branch for 5 years!! Even though I've only known Juan for a few weeks, it feels like my son is all grown up and I'm an empty nester! Is this how it feels to be old dad?! haha 

This was the first week of school in Chile! I live here and I don't think I'll ever get the reverse seasons thing down! But, since school is starting up we will be able to see everyone a lot more, because they'll be sticking around for school!! Another highlight of the week was seeing Eileen, an inactive young woman three months ago, come to church, take the Sacrament, stay all three hours, and go to the young woman's conference in Chiloe, which is a 7 hours by bus and not cheap to get to!! We stayed the night with Elder HOBBS!!! WOOH HOOH!! He and I are gonna have a ton of fun after the mission haha! But I'm in Puerto Montt today, and tomorrow, then off to Valdivia for a zone conference on Wednesday! Then finally back home to San Jose!! I'm still studying Portuguese every day!! Learning other Latin languages is so easy!! I love learning!! Life is real busy here! Its challenging and I love it!!

I love you guys!!






Monday, September 26, 2016

My Life is a Good One and This is an Amazing Experience

Bennett:
FAMILIARES!
 
THIS WEEK WAS RAD! We had some baptisms in the ward and cruised up river to the coolest baptismal font y´all have ever seen! Walking around in farm country is the best! People always give fruit and sugar cane to us to eat. Walking through the jungle and talking to everyone about Jesus, my life is a good one. The rolling hills, mountains, reminds me of Lord of the Rings hahaah! Also, wild guinea pigs live here in the farms and mountains. Today for lunch we are going to eat guinea pig! It'll be a good time. We also received a service project from the devil himself. Friday we cleaned out some rain gutter that was like 7 feet deep!  It was terrible, 3 hours of good hard work but I'm grateful.  We got lunch and found some people to teach.

WE FOUND THE BEST FAMILY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The husband of a less active gave us a reference to his distant family member, we went, they let us in! They are super amped and went to church and LOVED I! They are very humble and are practically walking into the baptismal waters.  ITS SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!! They moved to my area about 2 months ago and they live close to a bunch of members. We always passed by their house and we never knocked! BUT, WE FOUND THEM!!!!!! I'm stoked! We are going to visit them today and lay down a date of 15 of October. They just have to marry and they are super stoked for that, too! IVAN CHUMACEDO Y MERLY CHACON VILLALOBOS......PRAY FOR THEM.......

love y'all 

chau





Jackson:
     This week was another awesome week here at the bottom of the world! I'm honestly having a hard time finding anything bad about the mission. The rain isn't so bad, the food isn't either! The people are so nice and the ward is amazing! The investigators just make you want to cry sometimes, they are amazing.  I really love every part of it, because I know that in the end anything I'm doing here will only make me a better person and bring me closer to the Savior! I lost the ability to serve a mission for a while, and now I'm back and I can't believe what I almost missed out on! This is an amazing experience.
      This week was ward conference! To start out the week we played soccer on Monday night! I scored a bunch, not because of any skill! I'm just high motor haha and I was playing against a bunch of 6 and 60 year olds! But you got to take it where  you get it. Am I right?! The next day Elder Mills and I had to head to Osorno to do stuff for our visas! We stayed in a super nice apartment with some really nice elders! NOT! I'm going to let you guess what the lie was, the nice elders or the nice apartment! Hint: cockroaches in your sleeping bag when you wake up! But, it was awesome because the next morning we got to meet our new president! His name is president Isom! He and his wife are so nice! They are from Wyoming and definitely gringos! He doesn't speak too much spanish and she doesn't speak any! They didn't receive any training from the missionary department, they received the call three weeks before they left! They saw a ton of miracles in being able to leave so quick! We had to take them to a few places around Osorno! He looked at me at one point and said that he had no idea what he was doing as a mission president and especially not here in Chile, I almost broke his heart when I had to tell him I didn't know either! haha 
     We got home on Wednesday night and we had another ward activity! It was dessert competition! I made those apple, blueberry and lemon ramekins that we ate every Sunday when we watched the Amazing Race and I WON, in the flavor category at least! Another guy won first place over all because his presentation was better, but the judge clearly said mine tasted better! My only response is that if it tastes good, who cares about the presentation! haha That night we got invited to a ton of family home evenings but only if I made that dessert and brought it. haha The next morning we had an awesome lesson with Andres about the word of wisdom! He also explained what was happening with his lawsuit against him. He showed us thew accounting sheets and was pretty amazed that I knew what he was talking about. GAAP baby!! He has been so swamped with this case that we haven't been able to share much of the gospel with him! He told us he still wants to keep sharing and that he believes in it all! 
     On Friday we had interviews with president! Our day kinda got shot because the interviews were at our chapel so we had to open it, wait and then close it! But the interview was awesome! While I was waiting for my interview I talked to Hermana Isom! She is super nice. She had a notebook with a painting of Monet's water lilies! She was amazed that anyone knew that, let alone what she described me as "a beach bum football playing man" haha During the course of the conversation it came up that I went home from my mission! The first thing that President Isom did in our interview was give me a big hug and said he was proud of me for returning! I guess Hermana Isom told him! The rest of the interview was so great! He is awesome and so ready to learn how to be a president! 
     On Saturday when I woke up my eye was swollen shut! So, Elder Mills and I spent the day at the hospital! One of my glands was being blocked by something so it caused my eye to swell! They gave me some medicine and it's all better now!
     Sunday was ward conference! We had about 50 people at church which was pretty big! After church we took the Sacrament to a member named Victor.  It was so amazing to see how much it meant to him that we came and brought it to him! He is so cool! He has a huge library with a ton of books! He gave us a  few to borrow! After that, Elder Mills and I went to visit a investigator named Patricia! She just had a baby! She asked us to bless it! It was a pretty interesting experience, especially in Spanish! After that, the father drove us home with his son and his son's girlfriend! The son's girlfriend wasn't feeling good . I was sitting next to her in the back and the next thing I know she was squeezing the life out of my arm and throwing up in her purse! haha It was pretty sad, but comical! This morning Elder Mills and I went to the coast again! We went to a small fishing town called Nieblas! We watched the waves and some fishermen dive for abalone for a good few hours! I miss the ocean! But, this week was awesome! hope yours was, too!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bennett:
Howdy Familiares
 On Friday I received a call from the Asistentes to the Presidente and I went to the Hospital and translated English and Spanish for some American doctors and practicing students from Michigan State for more than 6 hours with over 100 different people who came in to get checked out and have free medical treatment. It was awesome to give such a meaningful service as this, because they really needed it!  



This week was a good week, Monday we went to Quistococha which is a nature park, zoo and lake all at the same time. It's in the middle of nowhere and completely surrounded by jungle.  It was sweet! The zoo is cool, the monkeys escaped out of their cages to come play with us ahahhahahahahhaha pretty nutty. We played futbol on the beach and volleyball, too . It was a good time with lots of crazy animals!

It was crazy working this week!  The heat was off the charts and it was blazing. But, we just bit the bullet and kept going on till we had to escape to the shade for a few minutes and then just head back out. The diligence was a pretty big thing for us hahah. We also saw about 500 clowns all from Canada come to our area to play with the kids there....pretty weird...they were a pretty rowdy crowd and don't like the Mormons too much! We had some good contacts. On Friday we woke up earlier and hiked to the river Itaya through straight jungle to fish at 4:45 in the morning.  It was cool.  We got some piranhas.

  This week was a week of diligence and improvement. Just being the missionary and doing all the things that they do. AND DOING IT HAPPILY! That's what the Lord wants. Taking the pride out of our hearts and letting humility and virtue fill the empty spaces. I'm also about to finish the Book of Mormon in Spanish!

How is everyone?


Jackson: This is two weeks of letters:

 Time is flying by! This week also felt weird in terms of time! Every day felt like it took a while, and BAM its Monday again! We met a ton of new people this week and saw a ton of progression in our investigators! My Spanish is still getting better! When I speak with Elder Mills in English sometimes it's hard to talk because I'm getting used to Spanish grammar! Which I don't feel too good about because I love the English language! It rained a ton this week, surprise! We wore rain pants and jackets almost everyday! My shoes and boots are keeping up great! We had a pretty cool experience with an investigator this week! His name was Andres. The missionaries taught him a while ago and hadn't been back! So, when we were reading through the area book, we felt an impression to go and see him! When we got there we asked him if he had been reading in the Book of Mormon! He said, "yes",  and that he was in Nephi! usualy when most people say this, it means that they read a page in the beginning! We talked for a little longer and then asked if we could give him a scripture to read before we saw him again! He went an grabbed his Book of Mormon and it turns out he had read all the way to 3rd Nephi!! He is almost done with the book! It was super cool to see he has a ton of interest and seems excited to learn more. Right after we visited him that night we went over to another family in Collico! We went to go see Mauricio and Janet! We asked them if they had read any of the Book of Mormon and they had! They both said how beautiful it was written and how it is so much easier to understand than the Bible!! We also taught another family who own a store on the corner near our house! We stop there every night to get a piece of pie before we head home! We had become super good friends with them and the other day we asked if we could share the gospel with them! We taught them in their store on Saturday morning which was kinda hard but they had a ton of questions and he had started to read the Book of Mormon He already had! Everyone is reading, which is great. We had a ton of progress this week but we were also turned down a lot. I read a talk a few days ago mentioning how God uses more than just the Latter day saints to get good works done. There are other people of God out there! As I read that talk I thought a lot of how I personally rejected other faiths in the past and how others reject us. I wondered how Christ would handle the situation. Christ would be charitable and listen because he knows that this means a lot to the other person, he would also listen because he would humbly admit that he can learn something from anyone, even of other faiths. With his beliefs firm he would discuss with the other missionary and see if he could learn anything from them. We have a lot of evangelico churches in our area and we get turned down all of the time because they, like many of us think that they can't learn anything from us and that they are the only people of God. Next time the Jehovahs Witnesses knock on our door, let them in and see if you can learn anything!! I hope everything is going well at home! I miss you all! 

This week's letter:
This week whirled by! We were really blessed with rain every day too! YOOHOO! We saw a ton of progress with our investigators this week! We went in to talk to Andres at his store and he told us he had read the whole Book of Mormon! It had only been three days! He had so many awesome questions. Most of his questions were about deep doctrine, he is really doing his research. We talked to the other Andres down in Collico and had a lesson with his family! He has read all the way up to 3rd Nephi and his family has read a few of the pamphlets and started to read the Book of Mormon! We also taught Matilde this week! She is the mother of our mamita, Hermana Edith! She read a few of the pamphlets and Elder Mills and I are gifting her a huge Book of Mormon with easy read print for her birthday that is coming soon! She told us that she is praying and knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that this is God's true church! Its amazing to see every one of our investigators receive answers to their prayers this week! We've been working really hard, and we are seeing huge progress in this part of the Lord's vineyard! We went to eat lunch yesterday with a hermana and her family this week and she asked to give the closing prayer! About halfway through the meal her daughter that was eating with us left to take a phone call! During the prayer she thanked the Lord that the missionaries were here to cast out the evil spirits that annoy her at night, and then in a tearful voice asked the lord why her daughter had left during the meal and that she missed it when her daughters cheeks were bigger and she used to eat more.  She asked the Lord to please help her get her big cheeks and appetite back! This same daughter is also going to get married her real soon, so the hermana asked for help when she has to tell her daughter that her fiance is going to die. It was a huge example of someone who truly talks with the Lord during her prayer, like a daughter would talk to her father! There were a few gunshots this last week in our neighborhood! We heard them at night, and the next day when we went to our mamita's house she said that someone had gotten shot in the leg and the guy who got shot came inside her house because it was raining and waited on her couch.  This is defintely not the United States. The members in this ward are awesome! They feed us very well, and always ask us to come over or to take them with us to lessons! Elder Mills  and I get along great!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pangiapulli and Pucallpa


 
Saying goodbye in Mexico City


  Jackson:

These last few weeks have been crazy! First, let me begin with the last week in the CCM! It was so much fun and so hard to pay attention! I wanted to get as much time with Bennett in as possible and study hard as well. There were still tons of pranks and fun though! Elder Padelsky ate a huge moth! I have a video of it! I'll try sending it!! On every Sunday everyone gets together to watch a movie! After the movie everyone sings goodbye to the elders who are leaving! They show a slideshow of all of the districts who are leaving! Bennett's group managed to sneak in circle signs in their picture! The whole auditorium busted up laughing. It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen!! 

Afterward we had a testimony meeting with all of the people who were leaving. Bennett and I both bore our testimonies. It was a very spiritual experience for the both of us! Luckily Bennett and I left on the same day! He left at 12:00 and I left at 4:00! It was so hard saying goodbye to him! I miss him so much already!! Calling everyone in the airport was awesome! It really gave me a much needed push! 



When we arrived in Osorno the A.P.s and our mission president were waiting for us with a huge mission flag! President Obeso came up to me and started talking about surfing!! It was awesome! One of the A.P.´s name is Elder Davis and he is from Temecula and knows Jake Billings!! He also knew me and several people from San Clemente!! It was awesome to see some familiar and friendly faces! It was super cold when I landed! We went to the mission home and had lunch with the president and he told us where we were headed. He told me I was going to Panguipulli! My trainer would be Elder Germann! The second he said that I knew that this is where I am supposed to go! We spent the night at a really cheap hotel and then went to the goverment building the next morning to work out our visas. After that we went to a nearby church building and met our companions. Elder Germann is the coolest! He is going to be a great trainer! He is from Austin, Texas and he plays collegiate golf!! 

After I met him we started to travel to Panguipulli! Panguipulli is in the North and is up in the mountains! It is surrounded by seven lakes and four volcanoes! I haven't seen any of them yet because the sun hasn't come out once since I've been here!! But we went to the bus terminal to start going to Panguipulli! The place was so hectic! I don't know how Elder Germann got up to Panguipulli but he did! First, we took a one hour bus ride to Valdivia in a semi nice bus! After that, we took a bus ride to Panguipulli! It took about three and a half hours during the middle of a rainstorm on a road under construction in the worlds dirtiest bus!! Haha! We got to Panguipulli at about 6:30! That night he just took me around and met some of the ward members! It poured all night! The next day was when all the real fun started! We started talking to our investigators!! We have about 15 investigators right now! All of them have baptism dates! It's really hard to keep track of this all because our area is huge! It's about 200 miles by 100 miles wide! 

I've invited two people to be baptized while I've been here already! I've never felt closer to the spirit. I invited Mercedes, who is the mother of another investigator named Yesica! It was super awesome! She couldn't understand me at first but, when I said it again she got it! Seriously, it was so awesome! I love this place! The branch is about 80 members strong, we got about 60 at church this weekend! Ten of those sixty were some of our investigators!

 The Spanish is so different here! It's super fast and hard to understand! And it rains every day! It's so crazy! I haven't seen the sun once since I have been in Chile! We live in a house with two Latin elders! Elder Bustamante and Elder Mayuri! Elder Mayuri's house burned down and he lost everything. His companion gave me the only thing he owned, a pair of slippers because he was finished with his mission! Some of his shirts have burn marks in them! He writes in a binder with a hole burned in the middle! I love them both! They are so much fun to have around and they help me with my Spanish so much!! I'll get better news for you guys next week! I love and miss all and I appreciate your support! I love you all!
Elder Sheppard

Arrival In Panguipulli
Stoking the fire

 Bennett:


  Firstly, my area is Seanz Pena in the City of Pucallpa. NOW LET ME TELL ABOUT THIS FIRST WEEK.
 I HAVE A BAPTISM FOR OCTOBER 10th! I HAVE A FAMILY BEING BAPTIZED NOVEMBER 28th! 
Alright, here is all the crazy stuff. I fought off a pack of dogs with my umbrella, on Friday it rained so hard that our apartment flooded, this area is all sheet metal and on Friday it rained so hard that two houses washed away. My companion is Elder Gutierrez from Lima.  He doesn't speak a word of English! My Spanish is getting wayyyyy better also! It felt amazing to extend a family the invitation for baptism and they said yes! 
I came here  by a rickety plane, I taught the first lesson to an older lady and bore my testimony, then she showed me her dentures and which teeth she was missing in them...
 
I'm far down from Iquitos and I know why your friend said his area isn't hot. It is because his area was mountainous and it's in the foot hills of some mountains, THIS PLACE IS A FURNACE! WE WALK ALL DAY AND NIGHT AND I SWEAT BUCKETS! IT'S SO HOT HERE! This is the hottest zone in the mission and it kind of junglely and kind of dusty. We use these little moto carriages to get everywhere like in Thailand! We also taught a blind man who is less active and he said he would come to church.  So, we guided a blind man to church and the church was like a mile away! That was an experience! Also, I got to hear people pray for the first time in their lives! It was one of the most heartfelt prayers I've heard! Truly beautiful!  
I love you all, 
Elder Sheppard
 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Priesthood blessings, Apostles and Temples


Bennett:
HEY FAM! This week was awesome! The whole CCM got to hear from Elder Christofferson which was amazing considering the size of the CCM. I was right up at the front next the pulpit and soaked up every word! Elder Christofferson gave some very profound answers for the questions given especially the questions on the atonement. My Spanish is coming along nicely but still having trouble understanding the Latino brothers and sister THEY SPEAK SO FAST. I’ve given up on the breakfast food here and just stick with cereal. I’m tried of guessing if the food I’m eating is eggs or not. Elder Smith had another amazing week of comments, Elder Smith was asking if he could send himself a package during our TALL time on the computers (Tall is language study) Elder Fenstermaker said ´´do what you want just remember god is watching´´ Elder Smith replied ´´Well, I hope God doesn’t steal my pin number.” 
This week Jackson and I have been in a prank war. I found a moth that had a foot long wing span and woke up in the wee hours of the morning and turned on the lights and let that thing lose and turned the lights off, They thought it was a bat and I’ve never heard so much crashing and little girl screams!!
 My favorite parts of the day are personal study and gym time. I finished all of ´´Our Heritage; in one day and was touched by the spirit our early church members had.
Gym time is amazing cause I kill everyone in ping pong except Elder Solari who is amazing. On Tuesday I went 12-0 games and beat everyone! So awesome. It was sad to watch Carter leave but, excited to see that he is going to serve out in the field.
 I’m starting to love prayer more and more just from how much we pray everyday! My companionship is becoming more fun everyday as we start to get a long more and joke around and have fun.  It’s crazy how this Sunday is already my half way point till I leave for the Amazon! Time here is flying!  It's funny to me because I just think two years is short and  it’ll go by fast and it really is. I’m trying my best to be kind and loving to everyone. Today we got to tour the new Mexico City temple before it’s re- dedicated. Man, is that temple HUGE. They have so many rooms in it! That’s it for me.  What else it happening at home? How’s the wards and I wanna hear from em! ALSO AARON OBORN GOT HIS MISSION CALL LYON FRANCE!!!!!

 

Jackson:
What an eventful week! On Sunday night walking home to my house, I collapsed from dehydration. I started to shake and have twitches and I knew immediately what was coming. Back in July when I got my wisdom teeth out a combination of dehydration and anesthesia caused full body muscle spasms every few minutes for a few days. Here at the CCM I was dehydrated.  After I came to, I was carried to the infirmary and tried to get immediate medical attention. I started to have the muscle spasms within 20 minutes of passing out, Luckily, I was in a bed in the infirmary already and had already received a priesthood blessing. I tried to drink water but the muscle spasms were random so we didn´t want to risk having water in my throat while I had a spasm and have the water go into my lungs. The spasms happened every about every thirty seconds give or take ten seconds, so they could´ve been every twenty seconds or every 40 seconds and they would last from 5 to 10 seconds. They were unbearably painful, I think I pulled a few muscles while this all happened. After about 20 minutes of spasms the doctor and I decided that we needed to risk water or try an IV. The doctor gave me electrolyte water and thankfully I had enough time to gulp it all down before another spasm. Things immediately got better from there. The spasms happened less often, I kept drinking the water, and eventually after an hour they stopped all together. I know that the priesthood blessing I received from my companion Elder Hobbs worked. Last time it took several days for the spasms to subside, this time it took an hour. These last few days have been extremely painful because of the soreness of my muscles. I have huge knots in every muscle in my back and legs and arms and a huge kink in my neck. My core burns every time I stand up or sit down, and my legs burn every time I walk. Other then the first morning, I still make it to all of my classes and I still wake up at 6:30am. During meals I´ll eat quickly and go back and sleep until my next class... Although my weeks here at the CCM have been spent in sickness, I am still learning as much as I can and doing the best I can. I´ve lost about 15 pounds and I look like a body builder because of those muscle spasms, I should be pale and tired and angry, but the Lord has given me the strength to go to all of my classes and continue learning the language! Other then the sickness, I’m having a great time! 
Elder Hobbs and I play Futbal every day for gym against a Latino district! At first they creamed us, but now we are creaming them! Elder Hobbs has lightning feet and all of the Latinos call him Messi! They call me Lebron because I just muscle my way through to the goal!
 During lunch we sit next to the other districts in our zone and have contests to see who gets the most desserts! There is no official rule that you only get one dessert but there is a lady who stands right behind the dessert table and if she sees you taking another one she will make you put it back! On Saturday we had Magnum Ice cream bars! Those are the Holy Grail of all foods served here. I went up and got an ice cream bar and ate it super fast and went back for another but, the lady had seen me take one already and made me put it back! Some other elders tried to get seconds but we were all caught! I gathered up all of the ice cream wrappers, put them on my tray, walked up to the lady with a huge smile, grabbed three ice cream bars and walked away! The lady looked at me, just laughed and let me go! I had set a table record by grabbing three at once and the overall record by getting 4 desserts. But then Bennett showed up. He had an ice cream bar in his mouth and walked up and grabbed one! He brought it back, and then went back FIVE more times WITH an ICE CREAM BAR IN HIS MOUTH. If any of you have seen the Seinfeld episode with the soup nazi, the dessert lady is the real life version. Bennett is a living legend at the CCM. 
The language is coming along slowly but surely. I missed a ton of studying these last few days because of doctor visits but I´ll find a way to catch up. Elder Hobbs and I are best friends. We always talk about our girlfriends and share hilarious stories with each other. The other companionship in our districts all get along really well too. I love spending time with them. I don´t have a lot of responsibilities in my calling! I get the mail everyday, I get to welcome new missionaries, and I assign talks! I see Bennett all of the time. We eat lunch together, play sports together, talk at night before bed, and occasionally get to study together! It´s awesome! 
Carter left the CCM this week! I’m glad I got to spend sometime with him before he left. Carter is going to be a great missionary. I Love you all and miss you! 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Beacon of Light



Jackson:
HELLLOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! I haven´t slept at all, my stomach is in a constant war with me, and the language is killing me! But I am having the time of my life! Seriously, this place is awesome! Let me start from the beginning, Bennett and I rode over on the plane with Elder Heaps and Gledhill, Elder Gledhill is going to my mission! When we got of the plane we all went and found the bus and rode to the CCM and when straight to orientation! The campus is beautiful here! It is 93 acres of beautiful green grass and white buildings surrounded by a 20 foot barbed wire fence that protects us from the most dangerous part of Mexico City! Imagine the Favelas of Rio De Janero and then drop a huge Sanctuary right in the middle! It’s insane! Every night and all day we hear gunshots and horns! It was so hard to sleep the first night because you have to keep the windows open because it will get hot in your house, but when you do that you can hear the gunshots and horns! 
But anyways, I’m in a house with 13 other missionaries, 9 of them are going to Chile, Osorno with me! Bennett is in my house, I was so grateful to walk into my house after orientation to see him unpacking! I see Bennett all of the time! At lunch, around the campus, during breaks, and we get to talk every night before we go to bed! I'm so lucky that he is here with me. After orientation I got back to my house and met my Companion, Elder Hobbs!! He is from Roy, Utah, he is 18, he has a girlfriend too, and he is 6"2´ just like me! He is an amazing athlete and we have yet to be beaten in any sport by any other companionship or team! He and I get along very well! Most of the people say that he is almost like another Bennett for me! He is a little more quiet and reserved but he is still confident and very funny. My district is pretty cool to! We have two sisters! Hermana Norton and Batty and six elders! Elders Hobbs, Gledhill, Nelson, Mills, Jacobs and I! All of them are from Utah.  We are all going to Chile! The next morning we went straight to class and started our language study! The language is so hard, but I keep studying my hardest and I really feel like I am getting a hold of the grammar concepts! Some of the Elders and Sisters here are practically fluent after six weeks! It´s amazing! We just studied all day until that night! We had huge fireside with all of the Missionaries and they welcomed us to the CCM with some songs and advice! Afterwards, we went and met the CCM president and his counselors! President Rubalcava is the father of my Sunday School teacher in the Las Flores ward! He knew my name already and his wife had baked me some cookies for my companion and I! I see him all the time, he gives my Companion and I the VIP treatment! Somehow every person I meet has some connection to me! Through cousins, or friends, rugby, traveling, or even instagram! It´s like a huge family reunion. All of my district and zone are amazed! They can’t believe that I know so many people and so many people know me! They have taken to calling me the "most interesting man in the world" the whole CCM calls me that now! During devotionals or firesides when I'm asked to give a prayer or they call on me to answer a question President Rubalcava calls me that! It’s such a blessing that I already have so many friends here and people who look out for me! After the Fireside we met our teachers and Bishops! My Bishop, Bishop Ortez lived in Dana point for a few months two years ago so we had a lot of acquaintances! The other districts in our zone are awesome! We eat lunch with them and hangout with them all of the time. I´ve already taught my first lesson in Spanish and probably the most important things I learned from that is, I don't speak Spanish very well at all, but the spirit is fluent. I hope my next five weeks are as good as my first one.
 Other then some sleeping, and stomach problems I’m doing great! I got the packages and my companion and I loved them! I wish all of you guys could come and visit this place! It’s a beacon of light in one of the most dangerous places on the planet! My testimony has grown so much, it’s amazing how differently you can look at things when you've only been here for a week! As always, I miss and love you guys. You are constantly on my mind and I hope everything is going great at home. I love missionary work, and I love the Lord! 

Bennett:

My first week in the MTC was a different experience in all terms. My soon to be companion never showed up so I am in tripanionship, however you spell it, I don’t know. My companions are Elder Barba and Elder Solari. They are both going to be serving in Ecuador and have the Galapagos islands in their missions! So far, I am the only missionary in this MTC going to Peru. So when they call people to stand up by countries they are serving in I am that one kid standing alone. I have a great district! We all get along pretty well with each other. Jackson also lives in the same house as me! So, we get to talk every night and discuss what we learned. They force the language on you pretty intensely here. Our second day they had us teaching investigators in Espanol! The Spirit here is out of this world, all the studying and reading really does pay off with the spiritual part of this place. The living here is okay. The food is also really good or really bad, like really, really bad. The first thing I actually heard here was “don’t eat the burgers”. The first three days were really hard, meeting sun up to sun down. They worked us like the newbies we were. Also, ELDER HARRSISON IS MY ZONE LEADER!!!! I get to see Carter and Jackson all the time!!! Everytime I see Jackson, regardless of the distance or class he is in, I’ll yell or whisper MI GEMELOOOOO (that’s twin in Spanish) and every time he answers back. It’s actually kinda funny because the whole MTC knows exactly who each of us are talking too and who’s saying it. You’re one of the twins that always yelling in Spanish at your brother.  It’s so funny seeing him all the time. I try to speak Spanish as often I can but I also teach some of the Latino elders some English! I said ´´howdy´´ to one of them and they didn’t know what it meant! So, now every time he sees me he goes “howdy, howdy, howdy!” We study all day and night and it’s hard to keep up but I feel like the routine is getting easier. One elder told us that the days go by like weeks and weeks go by like days. Which is so true, it's remarkable how I’ve already been here over a week! LOVE YOU GUYS!!!! PS: I’m also remarkably talented at the jaw harp now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

And off they go...



Today the Elders Sheppard left for the Mexico City MTC. We are consolidating their correspondence into one blog. 

Jackson's email came in and he has arrived and is getting settled in to mission life.   

I´ve arrived! Everything has gone great so far! I got the worst seat on the plane though! It didn't have any windows and it was a service hatch so I lost about six inches of leg room! My seat also didn't recline! But I´m fine, I always am! We got to the MTC super late so I haven't met my companion yet, but I know his name is Elder Hobbs! I'll send more info once I get to know him better.  I'm going to miss everyone so much! But, I know that this is the place to be. I have a lot to learn and I´m ready to be taught! I hope that I will be able to quickly get used to my schedule and learn the ropes of the MTC. I already have a name tag! It's the weirdest experience being called Elder Sheppard I Love you guys! Send Jenna my love!


Bennett didn't send anything but, his cousin did!!!


Elder Carter Harrison is Bennett's Zone Leader!  SO fun!