My Time in California

I am Marcus Keith Shepherd. I am serving in the California San Fernando Spanish-Speaking Mission. My family will be updating this blog weekly (hopefully) with information and pictures about what goes on out here. Tune in regularly to see what my life is like out there.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Well, It's happened again...

Hey everyone

As far as what happened again, I'm sure you're all guessing. It's fairly simple, actually...our baptisms fell through. It's not something I'm not used to, but it's just a bit disappointing when it happens. But, luckily for us, the family is still really strong, and super ready for baptism.
The family we've been teaching, Lordes, Maria, Julia, and Jesse have all received everything we have to teach, and Maria was the one we were going to have baptized. But, when we went over there on Thursday, after we had finished the teaching, we asked her if she was ready. She said that she would like more time. In my mind, I was going, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! NOT AGAIN?!?!?!?!" I've experienced these sorts of things, and it's painful. But, they're still super ready. But, considering what happened on Saturday, this could either be a baptism pusher or a baptism killer. Their father/Julia's husband, Dionicio, passed away on Saturday morning. When we heard about that, we were super sad. It was really disappointing, especially since he was listening and enjoying the lesson. However, I'm sure he's a lot happier now. He had suffered a stroke recently, and was confined to a wheelchair, and couldn't speak or walk. I'm sure he's a lot happier right now. Plus, I think he'll accept the Gospel in the Spirit world. The next time we visit his family, we'll tell them about the vicarious work we do in the temples, and say how Jesse can go there and have the ordinances performed for his father. I'm sure they'll like that.
As far as other people, we have another investigator who has a baptismal date. Her name is Leonor, and she's super ready. She's been going to church for the last year or so, on and off, and she's super ready. She knows everything, but she's kinda hesitating baptism. She says she doesn't have an answer, and she's just expecting that perfect moment of peace so that she'd know it's true. But, that moment isn't going to come. There's too many stressors in life for it to be perfect. The time is now to work out our salvation. Still, though, she accepted the date to be baptized on the 21st, and we're looking forward to that. She's ready. She just needs to do it.
That's about it as far as other investigators go. Speaking on one, who we've been meeting with for a while. We've been going there every so often, and they are ready. The girlfriend is even reading daily. They just have, as Elder Potter put it, so much freakin' flojera (laziness). It's true, though. If they could come to church one day, they'd be sold. We're still working with them, and we hope that this sunday is the one.
That's about it. Until next week, take care, everyone.

Elder Shepherd

Monday, July 25, 2011

I think that I'm super special or something

Hello everybody

So, I'm sure you're wondering why I picked this particular title, and I'll tell you in a little bit, but first, I'll get to a bit of what's been happening here in Sun Valley.
So, we have this amazing family who is getting ready to be baptized this week. Their names are Lordes, Maria, Julia, and Dionicio Martinez. We've been teaching them for a while, but they're super ready. We're thinking that we'll be able to baptize Maria and Julia and maybe Dionicio this week. Lordes knows it's true, but wants to wait for her kids to start listening. We have no problem with that. All we have to do is burn through the last of the commandments and they'll be ready by this sunday, which is when we're thinking of doing it. What's really great about them is that Maria and Julia can't read, and Dionicio is confined to a wheelchair from suffering a stroke, but when we go over, and when they've come to church, they've said that they've felt something that they've never felt in the other churches they've been to, and they want that feeling with them. So, yeah, they're beyond ready, and I'm super excited, because they'll be my first baptisms on the mission. I'm super happy about that.
As far as anyone else, we've been trying to get in with a good family. The mom in there is reading the Book of Mormon regularly, and feels that it's true. The husband, as far as I know, likes what we're teaching, and the children do, too. However, we're worried because their nine year-old daughter is being visited by Jehovah's Witnesses. Not good at all. We figure it won't be much longer until spanish ones start visiting to talk to the parents, which is what we don't want. Jehovah's Witnesses are nice people, but they can sometimes really hinder the work. It stinks to have to compete, essentially, against them, but the truth shall always triumph.
Also, we have a young investigator who is reading the Book of Mormon. We were actually quite surprised when he texted us at 9:30 one night, asking what exceedingly and other words meant. When we heard that, we were like "YES! YES! YEEEEEEEESSSS!" It's always good to know that your investigators have been reading. Other than that, we've been working to get new investigators from other referrals.
Okay, so I'm sure you're all wondering why I'm super special. Here's why: In Lake L.A., I was thinking about Pokemon, and I thought I'd give a shot at trying to name the first 151 pokemon. I did that, no problem. Then, I went further and started naming 152 to 251. I stopped for a while, and put it away. But, back here, it's crawled back out of the hole, and I'm now two away from having that one done. Then, I decided to check how super crazy I was, and started doing 252 to 386. I'm now two away on that one as well. Then, just to make completely sure I had gone bonkers, I went from 387 to 493, which I'm four away from having that one finished. You people are free to tell me how super crazy I am, considering how I'm able to name about 485 of 493 Pokemon, but I think I just have a few too many problems that need addressing soon. Anyways, that's my interesting thought for the week, and take care.

Elder Shepherd

Monday, July 18, 2011

how is the new area?

Well, hello all you children out there.

I'm sure you're all wondering what the heck happened this week in Sun Valley California. It's nothing too special, although a few interesting things did happen at some points.
On Monday, I had to be down here fairly early, which was sad because I didn't get to do a whole lot with the people in Lake L.A., though it was nice to be back in the valley.
On Wednesday, just before Elder Potter and I were about to go out, my trainer, Elder Houghton, showed up at our apartment with his family. I'd heard a lot of good things about them, and it was really interesting to meet them. He was done with his mission on Wednesday, and he decided to visit his son, me. As far as his family, they're all really cool. Also, his sister, Tiffany Houghton, has made some songs, and has released them. She's really good. If you haven't heard any of her songs, look her up. She always would love more fans, as her dad told me, and why not? Her music rocks.
As far as the area goes, it's super ghetto here. There's a lot of poor houses, apartments, and people, but I don't mind. I actually love the valley the most of any part of the mission. The desert just isn't my cup of (herbal) tea. We're working hard, and we're getting ready to have a few baptisms fairly soon. I'm getting super excited, and so is Elder Potter. As far as Elder Potter, he's super cool. We're both ready and willing to work hard, and we are ready to give it our all. I bet it won't be long before I start having pictures on my camera of baptismal whites. Those are fun.
Also, just a random thought for those who care, but last Wednesday marked the day that I've been a missionary for 400 days. That's weird. I'm not too sure how I got to this point, but it's pretty cool. Anyways, that's about it.
Actually, I just remembered something. Last night, when we were on our way home, we got stopped by a born-again christian. He asked us to pull out our bibles and look up Matt. 23:15. For those who know that chapter, that's the chapter where Jesus denounces the scribes and pharisees as hypocrites. As soon as I heard that, I knew we were in for a bashing. I won't go over the needless details, but it was super annoying. I think born-again christians are some of the hardest people to try and teach. They focus simply on being baptized. The great thing is that as soon as you're baptized, it doesn't matter what the heck you do in this life, you're saved.
Anyways, I'm running out of time, so I gotta go.

Elder Shepherd

Monday, July 11, 2011

A new transfer, a new companion, a new area, but the same old valley...

Hello everyone

As the title to this email points out, I have been transferred. I am now in the North Hollywood 4th ward, spanish, and my companion is Elder Potter. He seems like a really cool guy, and I feel like I'm already bonding super well with the members here. It was a member who gave me a ride down here from Lake L.A. Even though I'm excited to be in a new area, and back in the freakin' San Fernando Valley, I'm really going to miss a lot of the elders I left back in the desert. Elder Ulloa is one I'm going to miss a lot, too. He and I became such good friends, and the sad thing is that this is his last transfer, so this is very likely the last day I'll ever see him.
Anyways, I bet a few of you are wondering why I got transferred so quickly. I was only in Lake L.A. for two transfers (12 weeks), so here's the reason. An elder was transferred up there, with Pres. Martin intending to have him take Elder Huskinson's place as Pres. Gonzalez' right hand man in the branch. The branch is so small, and the members are so new that they have little idea of organization. So, the missionaries, namely the DL, handle some of the stuff. However, this elder didn't meld very well with the branch, so Elder Huskinson was kept up there for at least another transfer, and I'm now back in the valley. If not, I probably would be getting a new companion in Lake L.A. today, but no, I'm now standing in a library in Burbank writing this email. Even though I'll miss the people I've met, I won't miss the heat. The desert has been really hot as of late, and it's not been pleasant. Although it's a bit humid in the valley right now, it's much cooler than normal. That I can live with.
So, here's my new address:

Elder Marcus Shepherd
9057 Cayuga Ave.
Sun Valley, CA 91352

I'll talk to you all next week, and take care.

Elder Shepherd

P.S. This last saturday was my 13 month mark. That's freaky that I have less than a year left.

Monday, July 4, 2011



I opened up my email inbox this morning, and all I see are the two emails I receive every week: The one from Pres. Martin, and the email about my MSF card finances. Nothing at ALL from family, friends, people who partly give a crap, etc...I can't believe this at all. This is probably the first time in my whole mission (MTC included) that I've opened my inbox to absolute emptiness. *sigh* Here I am, being diligent in sending emails, and I get no love from anyone who may partly love me. Why.........
Anyways, apart from the lack of amor, things have been going okay here. I'm coming up on the end of another transfer this week, so if you have any letters or packages (mom, where is it?) that you want to send me, please send them a week from now, as I may be gone. I don't think I'm leaving this area, but I have a sure feeling that one of us is being transferred. We don't know, but we may find out tomorrow. One of the APs (my trainer, actually) is leaving, and a slot is open for a new AP. I honestly think Elder Huskinson has all the stuff to be a good AP, but we don't know. There are tons of missionaries here, and only one of them will be the AP. We'll see. If we don't get a call today or tomorrow, it's not happening. However, I'm getting the sick feeling in my stomach that I'm going to train. I don't know why, but that's just how I feel. I don't know, but I think it may happen. I don't think I'm ready to train, but we never know.
As far as missionary work, we've been trying to recover from a slow few weeks. We've been trying to find new people, and it's been working, but a lot of our potentials and investigators that we have had have been going awol on us. We're not too happy about that, but that's what's happening. We did find a good potential family that could totally get baptized. Time will tell, though.
So, that's about it. Once again, don't send letters or packages until next monday, when I have word on my fate, but I'll still be on email for another 30 minutes or so if somebody takes a bit of time for some lovin' for Shepe. (That's the nickname that every one here has given me, because Shepherd is a bit hard to pronounce for latinos, so Shepe is my nickname here.)

With love (since I have some to actually share)

Elder Shepe

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another week...

Well, hello everyone

This is just another week. There really hasn't been anything of great report for our area. We have been working with the English elders a lot, and their area is currently flourishing. However, we haven't had much. Since we helped them a lot, our area has been dying down a bit. We're working super hard to change that, though, and we're going to continue to work hard.
As for investigators, one of our investigator families had to drop us because their son, who owns the house they're living in, doesn't want us to go over there anymore. It's sad, because they were SO golden, but the seed has been planted, and maybe someday it can grow and be harvested. Other than that, there hasn't been anything really great to mention. However, I actually just remembered a funny story that happened to me yesterday at a Goodwill store. For those who don't know, Goodwill is essentially like Deseret Industries, just not church-run. Since it was so funny, I shall explain it in novel form:

"And thus it was, Elders Ulloa, Huskinson, Herrera, and myself were in Santa Clarita, having a doctor appointment taken care of. After having been at the mall for a few hours, we went searching around the nice part of our field of labor, Santa Clarita. We searched around and found, sitting atop a hill, a great and spacious Goodwil building. Drawn by the aspect of cheap clothes and ties, we went inside. I was drawn to the electronics department, in search of a novelty. I browsed the movies, DVDs, cassette tapes, records, and old television sets. I was losing hope, because I could not see. Then, when I looked down, I saw, in all it's blazing brown and gray glory, a Nintendo Entertainment System.
My heart leaped, and my wallet was singing with the prospect. I picked it up, examining it, and imagining Handel's "Hallelujah" playing in the background. However, upon searching the bag taped on the top of cords, I noticed that the power cord was missing. The heavenly song stopped, and I could hear my heart sagging in failure. But, I was not to be deterred. I searched the boxes of miscellaneous cords fervently, and found an adequate replacement. Upon finding this, my joy rekindled, and I went to the front to ask if the aged piece of hardware could be tested. I borrowed a game from their shelf, anxiously hooked it up to a television with the supervision of an employee, and pressed the power button, ready to enjoy the nostalgia. However, something happened, that brought back many memories of stress and frustration from my childhood regarding our old NES system: the flashing power bulb, and the strobing gray screen on the television.
My joy was now defeated, and I heard the sound of my heart crying. I tried many tried and true methods to have the decrepit console function, but to no avail. No amount of blowing on the circuitry would revive the poor creature. So, in utter defeat, I unhooked the system, placed it where I found it, and sat in a chair. The lights dimmed around me, except for a single dim light bulb that shined on me. My heart, practically in pieces, was completely broken. I sung my final requiem, and gave up the ghost. And thus it was."


I hope you enjoyed my presentation, and I thank you for your time. You may resume your normal happy lives now. Thank you.

Elder Shepherd

Monday, June 20, 2011

What an interesting week...

Hello Everybody.

Well, this has been a pretty interesting week, and that's mainly for one reason. There's a greenie in the English Elder's house, Elder Verive, and he has a massive desire to go out and work. However, his companion, Elder Tindall, has been down and out from getting his toes operated on for ingrown toe-nails, and so Elder Huskinson and I have been doing exchanges every day with them, to help Elder Verive get all the experience he can. We haven't been working in our area a lot because of this, and so we don't have a very good week to report. But, generally, every day, we wake up, do everything normal, and go out with Elder Verive. We go from 11 to lunch, then after lunch for a few hours, then one of us goes to dinner with him. Since we've been working so much in their area, their area is BOOMING!...and I really mean booming. It's going so far that it's crazy. They've already got over 4 baptismal dates, and several investigators. They're on fire.
That's about it for them. As for me, there hasn't been anything to really report. The only thing I can even come close to thinking of is that I won the Settlers of Catan game we played. Really, that's about it.
Also, for those who receive this letter and are currently serving, or have served a mission, would you send me experiences on some stuff that may have happened. Most missionaries always explain things about positive experiences or companions they hated, and they rarely talk about how they themselves fared. I want to know mostly about stuff that you would do to keep yourself motivated, keep pushing, times where you think you had been in a slump, or whatever. I'm interested in that sort of stuff, so if you could, that'd be awesome. Thanks, and have a good one.

Elder Shepherd