Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016...

Robbin was baptized on Christmas Eve, she is someone I worked with back in Chapel Hill.
Best Christmas present ever!

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

As you can see by the pictures, Robbins baptism did go through.  YESSSS!!!!!  Would have been great to be there, but most importantly, Robbin is now a member of the church.  The elders are Elder Haslam and Elder Evans.  She is awesome!  It is pretty cool with that ward because there aren't a lot of strong african americans in the ward.  Recently, there is one sister who started coming back really strong, and the sisters there baptized another really strong lady so I'm hoping that their testimonies will be able to increase the diversity of the ward.

It was good to see everyone yesterday!

We had a blast at the sleepover, we played some hardcore monopoly today, I ended up taking second which was too bad because I was ahead for the longest time. (The ZL's are living in a house and we got permission to have a sleepover on Christmas night since PDay is today.)

Thank you for the gifts! The pics are great, they bring a better spirit into the apartment, the sweats fit fine, the pillow is comfy and everything arrived just fine.

Not sure what we are going to do for New Years, but we have to be in by 7:30 to play it safe because of drunk drivers and stuff.

Have a great week!
Elder Shields

Monday, December 19, 2016

Baptism in Chapel Hill...

Hi Family,

Christmas Call:  We will be calling about 5:00 Eastern Time, looking forward to seeing y'all!

Gray Pants:  Yes, I got them.

Christmas Packages:  Yes, I have them too, still missing the one that should come today, but we should get that.

Investigator/Finding Update:  So not too much has changed from last week, we added C and P to our teaching pool.  C is an old women with some pretty challenging health problems and P is a younger man who is attending UNCP here.  But, an update from another area, Robin from Chapel Hill is getting baptized this Saturday!!!  WHOOOOOT

Scripture:  Moses 7:28-33

 28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?
 29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
 30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;
 31 And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?
 32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
 33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;
Funny Story:  Not too funny, but interesting, we found a guy who got jumped and we gave him a blessing and will be meeting with him again this week.

Elder Shields

Friday, December 16, 2016

Pembroke Talk #1...

Good morning brothers and sisters, I am so grateful to be here with you this morning and for the opportunity that we have to be in the service of our God.  This is also Elder Tyler, and it's our first time meeting you so here is a quick introduction.  My name is Elder Shields, I am from good ole Salt Lake City, Utah.  And with my companion being from Prove everyone we meet is, "Yep, just some more Utah boys.  Didn't see that coming!"  I've been on my mission for almost a year and i can tell you it has been one of the best years of my life.  It has changed so much of who I am and for those of you young men, I would highly encourage thought about serving a mission, it will bless you even more than you can imagine.

One thing that my mission has taught me so much about is the converting and changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can have on all of us.  And being a missionary it has been wonderful to see people change by living the principles within it as well as see myself change from striving to apply it better in my life to be a better example to those whom I serve.  This Gospel has been taught all throughout time and we can find Christ's teachings of it located in the Bible, but i love the purity and simplicity of it that we find in the Book of Mormon.  All of us are familiar with the steps.  Infant, we memorize them in primary as they are found in the fourth Article of Faith.  "We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are, first faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second repentance, third baptism by immersion for the remission of sin, fourth laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost." And, of course, we can't forget the step that rounds out this process, enduring to the end.  All of these steps constitute the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  But, before we go into more detail about these steps, it is good to know where this plan came from and why it was so necessary in the first place.  As we know the atonement (upon which the gospel is centered upon) was prepared before this world even was.  Alma 12:30 reads:

30 And they began from that time forth to call on his name; therefore God conversed with men, and made known unto them the plan of redemption, which had been prepared from the foundation of the world; and this he made known unto them according to their faith and repentance and their holy works.

This gospel was prepared by a loving father, who knew that the first man, Adam would partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil so that opposition, sin and death could enter into the world allowing us the opportunity to go through a mortal existence and continue our progression, but this came at a cost.  No amount of sin can stand in the presence of God, we read in Romans 3:23 "that all have sinned and have fallen short of his glory."  The law of justice was standing in the way and we on our own stood powerless against it.  But our older brother Jesus Christ who loved us, said, Father I will go and pay the price for justice, which demanded punishment for all the sins of the world.  "For there is a law given and a punishment affixed" to that law.  But because of the atonement Christ answered the ends of the law of justice and became our advocate.  He set the conditions whereby we receive mercy.  And the conditions that he set were to follow him, feel his commandments and to live and apply the gospel of Jesus as we read in Romans Chapter 1:16.  It is the power of god unto salvation to everyone that believeth.

I am so grateful for this gospel and how it works, the older I get and the more understanding I come to, the more I appreciate it and love how it is designed to help us to grow and become better and we live it day by day and apply it constantly throughout our lives.

The first step in the gospel is faith, specifically, in Jesus Christ and his atonement.  It makes sense that the very first step to this gospel is to believe that it does work and that through it all of us can be cleansed from sin.  But faith is more that just believing that the gospel works, faith is taking that belief and then acting upon it.  We learn in Alma 32:21 that "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things, therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen which are true."  We are all familiar with the story of Jesus Christ and doubting Thomas.  fThomas was one of Jesus Christ's apostles and after Jesus Christ's death we know that he rose again, was resurrected and appeared unto many of his disciples and apostles.  And they went running around trying to tell everyone that Christ had risen, but when they told Thomas, he said that he wouldn't believe unless he saw.  The Savior appeared to him, and when Thomas saw him he believed alright, but Christ told him, "blessed are they who have not seen but yet sill believed."

We learn in Moroni chapter 7 that it is through faith that miracles are wrought among the children of men, and one of these great miracles that we can have access to everyday is repentance.  As our faith and testimony grow in our Savior Jesus Christ we gain a growing desire to be more like him and we exercise our faith unto repentance.  If you take the english word repent and break it up into it's prefix and suffix we have (re) again and (pent) home, home again.  When we repent we truly repent.  We confess our sins and we forsake them, and strive to continue to not make the same mistakes that have been made in the past.  By repenting we qualify for the mercy and grace from our savior Jesus Christ, and for the person who doesn't repent, "mercy hath no claim upon that man."One thing I tell investigators about repentance, is that sin in inevitable, everyone who has ever lived (save it be for Christ) has committed sin.  Repentance isn't a back up plan for just in case you sin.  It IS the plan.  Everyone must repent.  And repentance isn't there for us to get down on ourselves, it is there so that we can recognize how we are using our agency and helps us to evaluate ourselves and become better people and become more Christlike.  i know repentance can be a hard thing and is usually never an easy thing but it is so good to know that we can be cleansed and to feel clean.  Christ has taught us that we need to bring for "fruits" or works meet for repentance and that very first fruit of repentance is baptism.

Baptism is the first ordinance we do and it is essential that we do it and enter into covenant with God.  The covenant that we enter into with God at our baptism is repeated every week in our sacrament prayer.  We promise God that we will deep his commandments, take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ and to always remember him.  God promises us that we will always have his spirit to be with us.  I love the symbolism that is in baptism, the way that I like to look at it as is that we have our old man or natural man standing in the water and then we come out of the water being born again.  Spiritually reborn as a new person.  One who is willing to follow Jesus Christ and to witness before him change from our fallen state to a saint willing to be ambitious in the pursuit for Christ.  One thing that is important to understand, however, is that the baptism of water isn't what cleanses us from our sin and is really only half of the ordinance.  Joseph Smith once said you might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man info done with the second half of this ordinance, the baptism of fire.  2 Nephi 31:17 reads:
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

After we have witnessed before God that we have fully repented of our sins and have entered into a covenant with him, then we receive a remission of our sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.  This is the fourth step in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Ghost has many roles.  The one that is mentioned in these previous verses is his role as the sanctifier.  The analogy that I like for it is:  Imagine you have a light bulb shining brightly and whenever we commit a sin you stick a little black dot onto the light which diminishes it slightly but doesn't make a huge difference.  As we commit more and more sin, however, the light gets increasingly dimmer.  But, when we truly repent the Holy Ghost cleanses us.  It removes those black marks that stain our souls and blot our our light.  The best way to keep these marks off of us is to repent quickly, recognize as soon as we acquire a mark.

Another role of the Holy Ghost is to help us know when we have acquired one of these marks.  The Holy Ghost has many other roles as well, one that I am thankful for especially be a missionary is the role that the Holy Ghost plays in testifying of truth.  It is by a witness from the Holy Ghost in each of us that has brought us and gathered us here today.  Some of the other roles of the Holy Ghost are the comforter which can bring us peace when in time of trouble and teacher in which the Holy Ghost can bring things to our remembrance and impress thing on our minds so that we can learn truths.  What a blessing to have this gift, I try to be thankful for it everyday.   And, what a blessing to know that we have God's promise that if we deep our end of our baptismal covenant, then we can always have his spirit to be with us.

The fifth and final step to this gospel is called endure to the end.  I love how the prophet Nephi describe it in the second book of Nephi 31 19-21 it reads:

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
 20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
 21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

After we have done these things, faith, repentance, baptism, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, it is essential that we press on.  The sacrament is a very important part of enduring to the end, we are able to renew our baptismal covenants and continually be born again as followers of our Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the way the truth and life.  Brothers and sisters, I know that this is the way and that there is no other way name given whereby a man can be save in the kingdom of heaven.

I am so grateful for this gospel which has been given to us and I know it has the power to change lives.  I have seen it change mine and I am so grateful for the opportunity which I now have to be serving here with all of you.  I am grateful for my mission and how it has changed me.  I leave you with these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

If extra time:
Now I have a few more minutes and what would missionary talk be without sharing some thoughts on missionary work.  Share John 4: 29-36.

Monday, December 12, 2016

One Year Recap...

One year recap:  What are some key things that you have learned this last year being a missionary?

I can probably sum up what I've learned best in this scripture:

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

My first two trainers were very knowledgeable of the doctrines of the gospel and so in the beginning of my mission I spent a lot of time trying to gather knowledge and I did, and it was beneficial, but I completely missed the mark.  It doesn't matter how smart you are or how much faith you have, if you fail to use that knowledge and faith for helping others what good does it profit you?  I've learned that love is what matters.  I understood that intellectually before, but I didn't understand it spiritually, and I'm still trying to understand it spiritually, but it's starting to come as I strive to apply it more and more.  There have been a lot of valuable lessons I have learned, but his one is probably the most important one.

I got my Hump Day socks, they are hilarious, I am wearing them right now.  The Christmas countdown is going great, I haven't missed a day.

Could I get my light gray pants sent out?  My jeans got destroyed and I only have my dark gray ones, I will turn these ones into my service jeans and my light gray ones into my p-day jeans.

Funny Story:  Just Pembroke, this place is not what I'm used to, we were driving on a road and ended up in some guys backyard, and then on another road the bumps on it were worse than some boat chop we've experienced.  Elder Tyler gets chased by dogs, but they rarely chase after me.

Investigator Update:

T: was a bible referral who wanted to learn more about the Mormons and we taught him the restoration and he liked it and accepted to be baptized on Jan 13th.

J: Tracted into him and he is currently reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, maybe in an illegal pharmaceutical business. 

A: Friends with J also knows one of the members of the congregation here we just found out, were trying to get him involved in the teaching but he's pretty less active so it will be a challenge but if we can pull it off it will be a two for one baptism and reactivation. 

S: guy who we are trying to help quit smoking 

L & R: found them yesterday she has met with missionaries before and wants to get baptized but cant give up smoking.

Love Y'all,
Elder Shields

Monday, December 5, 2016

See ya in ONE!

Official Hump Day Pic
What was the best part of your week?
We found a family of 5, A and D and their three kids, we will be teaching them again on Wednesday.

Did you get the countdown package?
Yes I got it, thanks so much, the apartment we have is super dull, it's amazing what a little color can do.

What did you decide to do for Hump Day?
Missionary work, we are more celebrating it today at the zone activity.

Tell me about your teaching pool:
It's grown, we're just trying to get some people solidified in taking the lessons, everything is still pretty flimsy.

When you say the area is sketchy, are you safe to go out after dark?
Everyone tells us that we aren't, we try not to bike or walk after 8:00.

Funny Story:
Elder Tyler was trying to dip a pancake in the syrup bottle but dropped it so I had to fish it out.

Scripture:  Luke 14:20
20 And another said, have married wife, and therefore cannot come.

You mentioned you have a car, does that mean you are able to drive since you are the senior comp?
Yeah, we had a car in Chapel Hill as well so I was driving back with Elder Hancock.

I love you, have a great week!
Elder Shields

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pembroke, NC...

My new comp, Elder Tyler
My two boys
Elder Tyler and Elder Haslam

Hi Family,

My new comp is a greenie, named Elder Tyler and he is from good ole Provo, he went to Timpview High School.  We had Thanksgiving dinner at the bishop's house.  So, apparently the last elders were pretty disobedient and didn't get a whole lot of anything done and the Bishop was pretty upset with them.  The previous elders left no map, no area book, no ward roster , no miles on our car, no teaching pool, and a sink full of dishes to do.  Let's just say I was very unimpressed with them as well.  It will be tough work to build up member trust, but we will keep at it slowly but surely.

As District Leader, I conduct and instruct at district meetings, instruct in zone trainings, go on exchanges with the elders in the district to make sure they are doing well, and deal with key indicators or number of lessons and new investigators and the like.  The District includes two sisters and another set of elders, so it's small.

My apartment, well, honestly it's very bad, it's the worst one I have had and Elder Tyler and I both walked in and just felt depressed being there.  We will rededicate it and hope that changes the atmosphere.

Did you find anyone this week?  Yes, we found a lot.

Funny Story:  Elder Tyler physically cannot say the word hippopotamus.

What are your plans to celebrate Hump Day?  That is yet to be decided, official Hump Day will be December 4th since my mission will be 2 years and 4 days long.

Love ya,

Elder Shields

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Assignment...

Hi Family,

I don't know what I will be doing for Thanksgiving this week because I am getting transferred.  So here is the run down of my transfer call with President James...

President:  Can I move you Elder Shields?

Me:  Where ever the Lord wants me to go.

President:  Alright we will be moving you to Pembroke, you will be training again.  That area has been struggling, but I know you can do good work, just get the members trust.  The sisters there have been doing well and gaining trust, so just do what they do.

Me:    Well I will be sure to get in touch with the sisters when I get there.

President:  Well, you better, because you will be District Leader as well.

I'm excited for it, it will be a good challenge.  Elder Haslam will be staying, I'm not sure who with, but our whole zone is getting a change up.  I will send my new address on Monday.

Investigator Update:  Same old same old, just struggling to get the people we have to progress.

Funny Experience:  Elder Haslam keeps talking with drunk people who yell at him.

How is your bike holding up?  Meh.

Scripture for the week:  Romans 5:19
 "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."

Love Y'all,
Elder Shields

Monday, November 14, 2016

Church Swapping...

Hey Family,

So this week we ended up going to two Baptist related activities.  We went to a Baptist bible study and a Shout Out and they gave us a $25 BP gas gift card.  Then we went to the Summit Church, which is a super church with multiple campuses.  One of our investigators made a deal with us that if we came to his church, he would come to ours.  So, he will be coming to church next week.  It was amazing to see the contrast between the spirit felt in each of those meetings.

Funny thing that happened this week:  Our neighbors were having a party and there was definitely alcohol involved and the next morning when we were going to church, Elder Hallam's bike had been puked on.  Haha, luckily it was only on the tire, but it was still gross.  Things have been going pretty well here, it is likely I will be leaving to a new area though.  Elder Hallam is guessing Fayetteville, I am guessing Apex or back to Wilmington zone, but we shall see.  Anyways, the letter should be there soon, I'm actually surprised it's not already there so it should be there today or Tuesday.  Love y'all and hope everything goes well this week!

Elder Shields

Hey Dad,

I am excited to be looking for the moonrise today.  We will be at a dinner with the Kidd Family so I will be sure to let them know what's going on.  The beauty of earth amazes me, but I am even more impressed with the vastness of space and the complexity of black holes, wormholes, gamma bursts and the like.  It will be fun to learn the importance of the roles that the other planets in our solar system play in the grand scheme of things.  It doesn't make sense to me when someone looks through a telescope and sees the complexity of the cosmos and then claims there is no God, the very function of life itself, the odds of it just working our are astronomical.  But, anyways, it's good to hear that everyone is doing well.

2nd Nephi 9 is one of my favorites.  There is a very intellectual Catholic man we are teaching that asked for the most significant chapters in the Book of Mormon to read, and the ones that I gave him were:

2 Nephi 2
2 Nephi 9
Mosiah 2-5
Alma 32
Alma 34
Alma 40
3 Nephi 11
Moroni 7
Moroni 10

I think that is all I gave him, he's been reading and wants to meet again, his sons are friends with members so hopefully all will work out.  Warren will do a great job with being Young Men's President, that will be a good time!

Love ya Dad!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pet Squirrel...

Elder Haslam and I were out knocking doors and it was dark and late so we were carrying a lantern.  We were heading back to our bikes to head home for the night when a lady pulls up and thanks us for carrying a light because nobody walking the streets at night in that neighborhood would carry a light. She then invited us to come over to her house and see her pet squirrel which she apparently rescued from the mouth of a cat, we quickly agreed for two reasons.  #1- we don't get too many of those invitations, #2- We get to see a pet squirrel...how could we lose?  So we head over and we try teaching her but unfortunately she wasn't interested at all, but we did get some good pictures out of it.  Oh, and the squirrel peed on Elder Haslam so I guess that's one way you can lose, but what can you do?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Teaching Kids and their Parents...

Missionary Model Shot

Elder Rose flexing in one of my shirts as hard as he can.
(zone leader on exchange)

Hi Family,

We met a lady this week, we taught her kids first actually when they were out playing in the street.  They came up to us and asked what was wrong (assuming we were police officers) but we said we were helping people have a better relationship with God.  We talked about their churches that they went to and they asked us some questions to see how good of minsters we were.  We answered their questions and then asked them some.  We went over the plan of salvation with them and they thought it was great!  One of the kids, when we were talking about the Fall, mentioned opposition in all things and how there had to be bad to know the good.  He was ten, and knows the gospel better than I do, and he's never heard of the Book of Mormon, haha!  We asked which houses they lived in and we went and talked with their parents and found quite a few new investigators from that.  The lady is the mother of the smart ten year old and four other kids.  We are excited to be teaching them.

"R" is in the hospital, but we are still in touch with her.

We reproved "M" with sharpness and then showed an increase of love afterwards yesterday, it was probably one of the best lessons that we have had.

I will be finishing your letter today!

I got Maddie's package on the 28th.

Thank you so much for the Halloween pizza.

The weather is cooling down it's starting to feel more like Utah.

I have been studying consecration and conversion a lot recently and the more I have studied them the more I have seen how charity is essential, I love 1 Corithians 13, Paul's discourse on charity as well.

Scripture:  Acts 19 13-16
"Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.  And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew and chief of the priests, which did so.  And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus i know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?  And the man in-home the evil spirit was leaped anthem, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded."

Love ya!


Monday, October 31, 2016

Count myself lucky...

Elders Shields and Haslam at the Fall Festival
(photo cred to a nice member who texted the pic)


What is it that you discovered that God expects from you?
     Coming soon in a letter near you!

Tell us about your experience finishing the Book of Mormon:
     Also coming soon, sorry there is a lot and I don't have time to type it all.

Do you have Halloween plans?
     We have an Elders zone activity today:  wrestling, spike ball and a missionary version of murder   in the dark.

Funny Experience?
     We changed Elder Haslam's GPS setting so that whenever we pass a church other than our own it    says, "Apostasy."

When is the next transfer?
     Three weeks from tomorrow.

Scripture:  Acts 5:40-41

     "And to him they agreed:  and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they         commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."

Investigator update:
     "R" and "M" are still hanging in there, R's date had to get moved back a week.

Quote for the week:
     "The only way to avoid criticism is to do nothing, say nothing and be nothing."

Christ was one who went agains the typical teaching and ways of the time and "offended" many people.  Thant's something I think about when I maybe offend someone or someone gets mad at me. As my scripture of the week says, I count myself lucky to suffer shame for His name.

Love you!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Finishing the Book of Mormon...

Hi Family,

So, what are Matt's plans for his mission, after high school or a year of college?  I bet he leaves right out of high school.  anyways, things have been good here.  Elder Haslam and I have been doing very well.  Our investigators are doing alright, it is likely that our investigator "R" will be baptized, "BB" got antied so he doesn't want to meet anymore.  Everyone else has been difficult to catch up with but we've been able to find pretty consistently, but I am doing well.  I would say the biggest thing for me is that I'm beginning to understand what God expects of me, with regards to the mission and in life in general, and it's been amazing to see.

I've been going an in depth study of the book of Mormon that I will be finishing tomorrow.  I only have Moroni, Chapter 10 left so I am excited to finish.  Things have been going well!

So, in the package please NOT a lot of candy, I'm trying to do away with the candy, but some yummy snacks that I can take around from day to day, and you can try lots of interesting things.

Love ya!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Faith is so important...

All we needed was a yellow sweater...$1.50 at the nearest thrift store.

Hey Family,

So this morning by accident Elder Haslam wore a green sweater, Elder Jensen wore a blue sweater and Elder Carter wore a red one, and I didn't wear mine, but looking around we said, "All we need is a yellow sweater and we will look great!"  So, we went and got me a yellow sweater for $1.50 at the nearest thrift store and we look fabulous!

This last week was good, we found five new investigators, none of the people we are teaching were able to meet with us this week so we buckled down and went finding, here is the list of all the people we are teaching:

"A" is a muslim and will convert if we can prove the Book of Mormon is better than the Koran, he is on a search for the true religion, he knows there is only one, and Islam is the best he has found.

"B"- Y'all know him, he is an older gentleman with Muscular Dystrophy.  We will be going and seeing him today, he has been reading but is having a hard time giving up his tea.

"R" is from Guyana and believes in everything we do.  He just doesn't think he needs to be baptized again.

"R" is a Bible referral, she ordered a Bible because she has a Book of Mormon and wanted to understand it better so she got a Bible, crazy right.  She is in her sixties.

"M" is a man in his early thirties, we found him and tought him this week, he has a baptismal date for the 19th of November.  Lives with his girlfriend so we will have to work through that.

There are others but lots of investigators we pick up then drop pretty quickly afterwards, but when they start progressing I will let you know about them!

What I love most about the gospel is that we can't know everything in this life, the searching in this life will never end even if we try our hardest, and those who do try extra hard, it will rise with them. There was one man we talked to and he has zero faith, and it was so awful to see, he was a good man, very kind and intelligent but he was asking us about how we could have blind faith, the analogy he used is you can't have faith in God because there is no evidence.  We can have faith in flight because it may seem unbelievable that a 200 ton metal box can fly but we can see the evidence.  We told him that just as with flight we see the evidence after the trial of faith.  You don't know you fly until you go barreling down a runway at 200 miles per hour.  You have to exercise your faith.  He just couldn't accept what we were saying.  I can honestly say my soul pained for him.  Just from the things he was saying I know even if he saw God he wouldn't believe it.  Faith is so important.

Elder Shields

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hurricane Matthew & Zone Conference...

Video is of Southport, NC (Jake's first area) during Hurricane Matthew


Tell me all about the storm! 
     So the storm where we were at was very lame, just overcast and rained all day, not eve very big rain, we did lose power though which was interesting.  There was hardly any wind.

Did you have to stay in your apartment?
     No, we went out for a little bit.

Any flooding in your area?

Are you going to go help with the clean up?  
     There isn't anything to clean up in our zone so, not really.

Investigator Update:
     "B" has a baptismal date for the 19th of November so we are excited for that.  I told him that we were leaving in six weeks and would love to see it happen before then.

Did you find anyone new?
     We had meeting all this week so we didn't have much time to get out and go finding.

Tell me about zone conference:
     It was a lot of fun, our zone won the activity contest so that was great, I was able to see the Hydes again, so that was great.  They go home in November so y'all will have to go see them.

Funny Story:
      I got in the dryer.

Scripture for the week:  Romans 1:16

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Love ya!

Elder Haslam and I fishing in the background
(We caught the biggest fish!)

Log Run competition, yup, we won!

And the most humble zone apparently won.

And the winner is...

Hey Dad,

So this last week was meetings and meetings and more meetings.  We were hardly able to get any missionary work done, which is frustrating, but it happens.  And, yes, Elder Haslam and I both caught the biggest fish, it was tons of fun.  Our zone won the competition that they held.

Thought for the week:

Everytime I leave a lesson, I feel that there is always something that I could have stated more clearly or boldly, but then I remember 2 Nephi 33:1, that it's the Spirit that carries what we say the their hearts and what matters is that we help provide an atmosphere where the Spirit can dwell and it can only carry the message to their heart if they choose to let it in.

Love ya Dad!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Bikes are found!

Hi Everyone,

We found a man tracting this week, we were impressed to knock on his door, he was busy but we said we could share what we had to share in five minutes, so he let us in and we shared a short restoration. He was very prepared and we invited him to be baptized on the 29th of October and he accepted!

Interesting story, we get a call from a former member of the ward who lives in New York but is traveling to NC to pick up some things and apparently he loves Koreans, and he found a Korean hitch hiker who he picked up and he wanted us to teach him so we shared the message of the restoration with him.

My favorite conference talk was given by Elder Cornish.  One of our investigators came with us to watch General Conference, it was a wonderful experience.  We got the pizza after the priesthood session, priesthood session goes until about 10:00 so we didn't get it until later but it was delicious.

So, we found our bikes!  A former investigator of ours stole them.  We found him riding on it and we confronted him and he gave it back, his friend took the other one so we went to their house and picked it up.

Scripture:  D&C 58:40-43

"And also let my servant William W. Phelps stand in the office to which I have appointed him, and receive his inheritance in the land; And also he hath need to repent, for I, the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not suffciently meek before me.  Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.  By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins--behold, he will confess them and forsake them."

Love ya!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Snail Mail...

I love it when we get real letters, this one came just today...

Dear Family,

So, first, in response to Dad's question about Bible Bashers.  President James exact words on bible bashing, "Don't bible bash, but if you do, you better win!" (haha)  So, I don't bible bash.

A great quote "Without faith even seeing won't be enough."  The Pharisees saw Christ, and saw him heal, but were not convinced.  Laman and Lemuel did everything that Nephi did, but still turned out the way they did.  You can shove truth at anyone and everyone, but if they don't have faith, they will not receive it.  They need to let that seed work in them.  It is important to know your Bible so you can use something in teaching that people can relate to and already believe in.  Testifying of the divinity of the Bible and the Book of Mormon together is definitely most important.  Testimony plants seeds of faith better than facts can, and that is that.

Well, an update on what has been happening here in the Chapel Hill First Ward.  Everyone dropped us this week so we are back to square one.  Not quite, I guess, though "A" got really sick and we won't be able to go over and see him for awhile, but it has been really disheartening to finally be able to get people progressing, coming to church and commit to baptism and then all of it slipping away.  I understand none of it is really my success and my job is to be as pure a vessel as I can be and carry out God's will and that I shouldn't measure my success on the agency of others, but it's really hard not to sometimes ask myself, "Everyone else is doing the same thing I am doing and having success, am I just not as good?"  or, "Everyone else in the group that came out with me has baptized, they should be the ones training, not me."  I realize these thoughts are not of God and I'm doing my best at trying to put them away, but it is hard.  A scripture that has brought me a lot of comfort recently is a familiar one, "Awake my soul no longer droop in sin.  Rejoice O my heart and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.  Do not anger because of mine enemies do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions."  2 Nephi 4 28-29

How often do we slacken our strength because of our afflictions?  When the road gets tough how often do we droop and feel sorry for ourselves and "slacken?"  I like to compare it to biking, because we are in Chapel Hill ,and they put the "hill" part in there for a reason, as we are going along our bicycle trail of life when we come to a hill, that is when we need to be pedaling the hardest.  Praying harder and studying harder.  When you do finally get to the top don't slacken, watch and pray always and keep that pace so every time you come to the top of a hill you are always moving faster than you were before, until you finish your course.

I love you family!

Elder Shields

Monday, September 26, 2016

An Adventure...

Hi Guys,

I heard about the tornadoes from someone else, crazy how fast news can travel these days.

The marks on my face are from wrestling with Elder Hancock.  Elder Haslam and I are good with working out in the morning, he has been sick recently but I still workout.

I heard that in Russia they can't proselyte anymore and the missionaries are all called volunteers is that still a thing?

Investigators:  "A" is really sick and it has been hard to see him, we had to drop "K" because her boyfriend won't let us meet, and "B" is still doing alright.  We found an Arabic family with a guy who is a truth seeker and very anxious to learn.

Funny Story:  Elder Haslam is lactose intolerant and he has these pills he takes to eat lactose, and it is just an adventure.

Scripture:  Matthew 6:21
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

I love you and hope all goes well this week.
Elder Shields

Monday, September 19, 2016

Full week of dinners!

Elder Haslam and I 
(The scrapes on my face are from a wrestling match.)

Hi Family,

Well, "A's" baptism was canceled, it was causing contention in the home.  We are seeking advice from President James on what to do.  Baptism is essential, but we don't want to ruin a marriage either. We are holding off until we can receive more counsel.

Investigators:  We are teaching a practicing Jew who is very smart and just an all round great person, and "K", who when we contacted her recognized that the bible talks of one true church and it is a matter of trying to find it, she is solid.

Our spider's name is Bert.  No word on the bikes, we forgot to bring the lock, so they weren't locked up.  You don't need to do anything, we will just borrow mission bikes until further notice.

This ward is great, we had a full week of dinners!

love y'all,
Elder Jake

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pet Spider & Stolen Bikes...

Elder Haslam's first week on the job


Wow, Kate is engaged, that is great!  Tell her I say all the good stuff you are supposed to say to engaged people!  That is interesting for Spence, hopefully he gets the job, funny how that works out. And that is weird that you are in school again, when do you finish classes?

Elder Haslam has been doing just fine and adjusting well, he prepared beforehand very well.  The connection with Elder Haslam is through Robert Haslam our Great, Great Grandfather.  Our great grandfathers were brothers, David Jeremy Haslam Sr. and Byron Haslam, hence the 3rd cousin relation.  We get along just fine, no problems.

Elder Haslam and I have a pet spider outside of our apartment that we catch bugs and feed, and also, less funny, our bikes got stolen, but we called the police and filed a report and we have borrowed bikes from the mission that we are using for now.

Favorite food item for the week was a Ghana dinner we had last night with some members, it was super good!  This week for dinner, we had three food drop offs, and two at a members home.

Investigators:  We found a guy who is Rastafarian, Bob Marley is their prophet, we will see how that goes.  We found another woman who is a Lutheran Priest, and a nice older woman.

Scripture:  Revelation 21:4

And God shall wipe away all tears from theri eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for the former things are passed away.

Love ya,

Monday, September 5, 2016


My new companion Elder Haslam (straight from the MTC)

All in the family, we are 3rd Cousins!
Hi Family,

I'm training!

So, we just did relative finder and we are 3rd cousins, Elder Haslam is from Kaysville, Utah.  He pole vaulted and played volleyball.  He went to SUU for a year before he came out.  We get along great! We are both more introverted, so it's quiet, but we get along just fine.  The training is going great, he has adjusted very well.

Investigators:  We are meeting three times a week with one and have a baptism date set for the 24th, but no longer have a date set for J, but doing alright and still moving in the right direction.

We have been working with a less active and went and visited him this week.  He was wasted and just acted super drunk.  We got out of there pretty quick.  We've seen an unusual amount of crazy this week to break in Elder Haslam.

Laundry is working out well, we have a washer and dryer so things have been doing fine.

Scripture:  Luke 12:6-7
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore:  ye are of more value than many sparrows.  

Love ,
Elder Shields

Monday, August 29, 2016

Rico 2.0 goes missing...

Some fun with Elder Hancock

Hey Family,

To be honest, it hasn't been looking too good for our investigators that we set baptism dates for last week, still staying optimistic but they both had rougher weeks this week.  As y'all (still don't like that word) have known, baptisms are few and far between here, however, One investigator was singing at a memorial service for someone he knew and he invited us to it and we found someone there, which was awesome.

Funny Story:  So as I have said earlier, Elder Hancock is Elder Roses boy, and we had three or so exchanges with them this week, during which, Rico 2.0 (the name of the duck Maddie gave me) was taken along with all of Elder haycock's ties, except his super ugly ones.

In answer to your question about what happened to my shirts?  North Carolina happened to my shirts, it'll get ya!

Elder Hancock is doing good, He's being transferred to Wilmington and I'm staying, but I don't know who is coming here until Tuesday.

Any unusual food?  Everyone in our ward is a grad student at Duke or UNC, so nothing weird.

Scripture for the week:  Ether 12:37

And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me:  If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean.  And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.

Elder Shields

Monday, August 22, 2016

Numbers are up...

Hey Family,

So this week went very well for us, as far as numbers go it was the best week of my mission.  We were able to set two baptismal dates with our investigators; one on September 10th, and one on September 24th.  We are excited for them, we hope they will be able to make those dates!  Elder Hancock and I are going great.

Scripture for the week:  Ether 6:2

"For it came to pass after the Lord had prepared the stones which the brother of Jared had carried up into the mount, the brother of Jared came down out of the mount, and he did put forth the stones into the vessels which were prepared, one in each end thereof; and behold, they did give light unto the vessels."

Glad the family is doing good, I bet y'all are excited to have Lauren back for a bit!

Elder Shields