Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pangiapulli and Pucallpa

Saying goodbye in Mexico City


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


  Firstly, my area is Seanz Pena in the City of Pucallpa. NOW LET ME TELL ABOUT THIS FIRST WEEK.
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

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!!!!!


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

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! 


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.