Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Message of Hope for Families of the Kiss NightClub Fire tragedy in Santa Maria

How was your week?
Well, it went super well, then ended really sadly. 

Will you be staying there in Santa Maria for a while?
Yes, I have a feeling I´ll be here for a while. Who knows though. 

Do you still live with the same 3 guys?
I live with Elder Gula, Elder Morrison, and Elder Pagotto. Elder Pagotto is from Philadelphia. 

Do you now see Elder Mason?  Does he live close to you?
I see him every once in a while. He is on the other side of the city.

Any new investigators at church this week?
Yes, we had a family! And they are legally married so I am super stoked!

Hi Family!

Dad sent me the email about the fire that happened here. It was massive. It happened a few blocks away from our apartment. It was really really sad. 233 teenagers and young adults died. It was a freak accident, and the club only had one exit, so everyone was just trapped inside. They brought all of the bodies to a military base in front of our apartments so that the families could come and identify the bodies. After church we were there at the military base all day volunteering. The members all came too, wearing those helping hands vests. We passed out water and food to all of the people waiting in the lines. It was just a sickening scene. There were people crying, screaming, it was just a mess. It was way sad in the area where the bodies were. We went in there to help out and it was just a tragic scene. We gave away a ton of the plan of salvation pamphlets and gave a ton of consolation and comfort for families. It really threw everything into perspective for me. How much we take for granted, and how important families are in God´s plan. The city is basically shut down right now. It just shocked the community and no one has desire to get up and work now. This is the perfect time for us to show people that there is a light, and that they will see their loved ones again. 

Please keep these families in your prayers. There weren´t any active members in the city that died, but I don´t know any more than that yet. We were supposed to have zone conference today, but it got moved to Thursday so that president could deal with some things. This is God´s plan, not ours! So now we just need to go out and work and help and love these families!   I think we´re going to go back to the military base at 6 to do some more volunteer work. Only half  of the victims have been identified because a lot of them were college students, so their families live in different cities and states. The military base is right next to our church, so the church opened up and there were signs outside inviting people to come in for bathrooms, water, and to just sit in the chapel and rest. All of the meetings were cancelled after church, and President Ribeiro was supposed to talk but that got cancelled too. He came over to the base in a helping hands vest and started volunteering as well.

We had a family with us at church yesterday! Elizabeth and Thuane won´t be getting baptized ‘til the end of the month now because they just left out of town ‘til then. they are both super ready though. Renan and Fernanda and their two kids came to church with us yesterday. I am so excited to see how things work out with them. We´re going to their house on Wednesday with our Bishop and his wife, and we´re going to try and mark a date for the 9th for their baptism. It might take a little longer because I want to be really careful. This is a family, and I don´t want to lose them.  The message on Wednesday will have to be super spiritual, which is perfect because the Bishop here is such an inspired man.

I´ll try to send something off soon that you could give to President Morris.  He is an awesome man. I´m glad he was the one who got to send me off. The rest of the week was really good. We have a good investigator group, and a lot of them didn´t come to church because of the accident the night before. Next Sunday I´m sure we will have at least a few more at church. I will try and get the bag of protein here, I´ll try to find it. Dane was probably in a city called Riveira. It borders one of our cities. I haven´t served there yet, so I probably won´t get to see him during my mission. It´d be really cool though if I did. The weather here has been so so much better. It´s cooled off quite a bit and there has been a nice little breeze going through the city.

Thanks so much for the little preach my gospel book. It is so much better. I hated hauling the big one around because it doesn´t fit in any of my bags. It´s getting pretty beat-up too, so we´ll have to give it a break and I´ll use the little one. I´m excited for zone conference on Thursday. President always gives good insight on revelations he´s received for us to teach better.
Austin [Phelps] said that the language is getting a lot easier, so now the work is picking up for him. It sounds like he´s having a blast and doing really well. Bryan [Nance] didn´t send me his email yet this week but I´m sure he´s doing really well. I haven´t emailed Trevor for a while, but I´m sure he´s doing just great.    

Sorry, not a lot to say today. Yesterday kinda just rocked things up and I´m lost on what happened this past week. I feel my testimony growing so so much, and I know that this gospel is true. Every time I bear my testimony I feel the spirit testify through me and it is such an amazing feeling. Taylor, study the Book of Mormon every day. Learn cross references to the bible for The Preach My Gospel lessons. Those two things will help so much when you get out here. The plan of salvation message is also really powerful, especially in times like we have here right now. People have all of these questions right now, “if they´ll see their family members again?”. So study chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel, and make sure to at least read a little out of the Book of Mormon every day. Try to set a goal to read it as many times as possible ‘til you leave on your mission.
I love all of you very much! Good luck in swimming Tay, and good luck with softball Hailey! You guys rock!
The snow is just making me trunky, I think I might miss that as much as anything else haha. Have a great week!

Elder Shepherd

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