Saturday, December 8, 2012

 Ok- so your getting this about 2 weeks after I wrote it- I just never had time to add the pictures until now.  Hope you enjoy it-  another one is coming!

Hello Dear Friends and Family,                                                                                                  2012
Four more crazy weeks have gone by!  I feel like our whole mission is going to go by in a blur.  I just get one thing finished and start immediately preparing for the next.  

The biggest news - the lowering of the age of missionaries!  It was an incredible announcement and is affecting the entire church.  The compliment of our mission will go from 190 missionaries to 250!  Here they come!  60 more than we have.  We will need 30 more apartments, more cars and bikes, more of everything.  And we will start to receive more missionaries immediately-  our incoming list for December is growing.
We are so excited about this.  Both Elder Holland and Elder Bednar said that the only reason to lower the age is that "the Lord is hastening His work".  We all know that means that the time of His coming is drawing closer and there is so much work to be done.  Huge changes and huge effort will be required.  Not just of the missionaries, but everyone.  We will need so much more member help than ever before in order to do the work-  the work which belongs to all of us-  by covenant!
The announcement sent an electric spark through our mission.  We all feel grateful to be serving at this time.

So here are some of the things we've been involved in the last weeks.

I went out a couple more times with the Sister missionaries.  I am always so impressed with them.  We went to see a 40 year old less active man.  We stopped by his woodworking shop, which was in a terrible state-  broken things everywhere, dust and garbage.  We hadn't been there two minutes before we realized this man had some mental issues-  I couldn't tell you exactly what.  He reminded me of the man on "Rain Man".    He talked incessantly and quoted about 100 scriptures to us-  I'm not kidding!  The poor sister who had a nice lesson planned for him couldn't even get a word in edgewise.  After 20 minutes of this most bazarre behavior, we could all see that it wasn't going to work.  I was curious to see how Sister H. was going to handle it, and I was watching her face.  I literally saw the Spirit working with her.  All of a sudden she asked him an "inspired question".  He stopped short like someone had slapped him.  It took all of the wind out of him.  He sat for a moment and pondered what she had asked and then thoughtfully answered her.  It was amazing to me.  For that moment I know he felt the Spirit.  It didn't take long before he started right up again, but it was a wonderful moment for me to watch our missionaries work with the Spirit.  The man needs some faithful home teachers and a whole lot of nurturing.

After we'd left, I realized I'd left my purse there and had to go back alone.  The man's non-member older father was there with a friend.  They were both friendly to me, but he asked if I was "one of those Mormons".   After I said yes he launched into the reason he thought we were so crazy-  we believe that God has a body!  "Everyone knows God is a Spirit!"   It didn't intimidate me - I was enjoying his charming Oklahoma accent!

On Sunday Oct 14 a new senior couple arrived in the mission.  I was so excited!  He is a Dr.-  I have already asked for his counsel a dozen times.  They came just about dinner time and so we enjoyed dinner with them and also a wonderful neighbor family that we had invited to dinner.
Week of Oct. 15 was another very busy and very enjoyable week.  For two days- on Oct 16th and Oct 17 we held our first Sister's Conference.  President Shumway and the assistants traveled far around the mission to gather all the Sisters in.  We went to the Oklahoma Food Bank and did service for a few hours, dressed in our yellow "Helping Hands" shirts.  The sisters looked like a ray of sunshine.    We had a fireside the first night and 5 hours of training the next day.  We have 22 sisters and they were so excited to be with each other-  lots of squeals and screams when they first arrived!  Some of them hadn't seen each other since the beginning of their missions.  There's a big difference in the pitch of the sound when all sisters are in the home, or we have all Elders for Zone Leader Council.  I love them both!
                                      Our wonderful Sister Missionaries at Sister's Conference

Abby and Taylor had fall break on Friday Oct 19th, so we traveled up to Springfield Mo, because President Shumway and I had been invited to speak in the Republic Ward.   For our preparation day on Saturday we explored a cave and ate at Lamberts- "Home of the Throwed Rolls".  And they really do throw them!  You just put your hand up and they lob a steaming hot roll at you-  the best rolls I've ever tasted, really!  Then they come around with huge buckets of all kinds of southern food- fried okra, black eyed peas... and you just raise your hand and they give you a scoop.  Fun place to eat!
The best thing about that day was that is was Dad's birthday and we got to Skype with all of you.
We loved every darling thing the grandkids did-  you are the best for thinking up such a fun birthday surprise for Dad!
                                           At the cave entrance-
                                          Inside the "cool" cave!

                                             Exploring the area
                                             Dad's Birthday dinner at Lamberts

The week of October 22nd two amazing trainers arrived from Salt Lake to spend for days training us!-  Dad and me.  The church provides every help imaginable for mission presidents and missionaries.  They think of everything.  It is a testimony to me that the Lord places high priority on missionary work.  We are constantly grateful for all the help we receive.
Monday and Tuesday we sat in Dad's office at the mission home with the trainers, and they went through pages and pages of  documents regarding our mission-  statistics that show how we are doing.  We evaluated what our strengths and weaknesses are and then on Tuesday we made a plan to go our and train the leadership of our mission in those areas of our weaknesses.  So- Wednesday and Thursday we traveled out and spent pretty much the entire day in training missionaries.  Really it was training for us, because though President and I did some of the training, we watched as the brethren from Salt Lake trained and we learned so much.  There is always something for us to improve on.

October 31- November 2-   Transfer Week
I've already described to you how intense this is.  In those three days we cooked 5 meals for incoming and outgoing missionaries, and we have hours of training.  It is getting easier, because we are training new missionaries always on the same things and giving the same counsel to the outgoing missionaries.  But there is so much to prepare.  The day the new missionaries fly in we pick them up at the airport, drive to the Mission Office for some paperwork, drive by Oral Roberts University to see the praying hands,  have lunch at the mission home, then about 5 hours of training including each missionary having a personal interview with President Shumway,  a health visit with me, and a visit with our fleet co-ordinator.  Dinner and then more training.
Sometimes the new missionaries are so tired by afternoon (they usually got up at 2am at the MTC to make their flight), that we let them have a very short nap before dinner.  We've found that if we don't do this they fall asleep during training-  their heads are nodding and they are snoring!

Our Shiny New Missionaries

 It was Halloween Night so we made Jana's traditional graveyard cake and had Shumway sloppy Joes and bloody eyeballs (deviled eggs with an olive).  The missionaries enjoyed it!

President Shumway and our dear assistants, Elder Davies and Elder Treasure, helping to oversee transfers.

Loading up our big mission trailer to get all the new missionaries out, all the transferring missionaries around, and all the returning missionaries back to the mission home.  It takes about 12 hours!

We love having the returning missionaries in the mission home-  they come in worn out - their clothes tattered and holes in the shoes.  But they shine-  they have deep testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They have been tested and tried.  They have two years worth of testimony growing experiences.   It is a time of deep reflection for them.  They want to know if the Lord has accepted their offering and we feel the reverence and sacredness of this time-  the Spirit comes to give them peace and the mission home is filled with it.  It is also a time of celebration-  for the wonderful work they have done.  We try to make it very special so they know the gratitude we feel for their service.  President Shumway and I always feel so proud of these missionaries as we put them on the plane, but a little melancholy too.  We are saying goodbye to our sons and daughters.  And we miss them.

                                    Farewell to four wonderful missionaries!

Nov. 5th and 6th-  Zone Leader Council-  Every month!
I won't share any details about this- our outline is always pretty much the same.  The training changes and the missionaries change, but we always love it!  These are some of the finest missionaries we have- the Zone Leaders.  It's a pleasure to be with them.  This time we did try one new thing.  The Zone Leaders came in about 4 hours earlier (1pm instead of 5pm)  and we went to "Oklahoma Emergency Infant Serices"  to do a service project.  20 Elders and President and myself dressed in our yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" shirts.  We packed diapers and formula, moved boxes here and there, hung used clothing on hangers, etc...  It's always a good feeling to be able to help someone.  We have decided to add a service project to every Zone Leader Council.
The Assistants and Zone Leaders surprised us at our November Zone Leader Council by covering our fridge with about 50 different versions of OTM.  We usually say Oklahoma, Tulsa Mission, Only True Mission, Open Thy Mouth.  They came up with about 50 more OTMs-  Overly Tired Missionaries, Overflowing Truth Mission, Orchestrate The Miracle, One Terrific Mission, Obey the Mission President!  President Shumway liked that one best!  He also said he wondered how long it took them to come up with all of these clever OTMs, and shouldn't they have been out teaching!  We LOVE our missionaries.  It was very clever!

We put our "Helping Hands" shirts to work again with a service project for Oklahoma Infant Services.

Our fantastic Zone Leaders and Assistants!

My breakfast helpers-

November 8- 17
President Shumway has been on the road for days.  He interviews every missionary in the mission quarterly,  and it takes him nine days.  It's very intense for him- he probably interviews 20-30 missionaries a day and he loves it.  We've been here long enough now that he knows these missionaries well-  he loves each one so much and this is a special time for him to listen, to counsel and help.   When the Zone he is interviewing is close by, I like to go too during the hours Abby and Taylor are at school.  I sit in the hallway outside his door and visit with the missionaries just before they go into their interviews.  I can catch up on health concerns and just get to know them better.  It is always inspiring to me.  Our missionaries are so great!

While President Shumway has been on the road, I've been catching up on Missionary Medical recording and paperwork,  took a four hour drive out one day to inspect one of our apartments,  went proselyting with the Sister Missionaries,  did some cooking in preparation for Thanksgiving and am trying to keep up with Abby and Taylor.

Taylor has been so busy-  State playoffs for his Jenks High School football team.  The entire team colored their hair blonde for the playoffs.  I did my best for Taylor but it turned out orange, so I had to take him to a sister in the ward for some repair work.  Taylor has also been involved in several orchestra concerts lately-  one for Veterans Day-  it was very touching.
The whole team lined up with their blonde hair

Taylor's 2 LDS football friends.  BIG Jacob Oakley and Sam Edmondson.

Oakley is the one the coaches call Tabernacle-  because he's big and he's a Mormon!
"Tabernacle" and "Utah" (the name the coaches gave Taylor!)

Abby is still taking tennis, and she likes it ok, but she loves her art lessons and I've sent you a picture of one of her latest pieces.
Both kids are making some progress in our adjustment here.  It's been a little rough at times,  but I see that the Lord is blessing them with great friends and new experiences.
Last week our Bishop got a big bus to take all our youth to the special morning youth session of Stake Conference - one hour away at our Stake Center in Barlesville.  They showed "17 Miracles" on the way up and fed the kids juice, fruit and donuts.  Our Bishop goes to great effort to make things special for our youth.  He is our hero!

We are sooo  excited for Thanksgiving as Nathan, Jisoo and Jenevi are coming.  We'll also have 10 missionaries (some of them office staff) and an investigator family.  We are looking forward to this special day to have an opportunity to focus on the multitude of blessings the Lord has given us every day in the last year.  We are so grateful for the knowledge we have of the glorious gospel,  for the Savior and His atonement that made all things possible, for an opportunity to share this "good news",  for each of you- dear children, family and friends,  for 190 choice sons and daughters of God-   our missionaries young and old, for their testimonies, their hard work, their safety.
We are thankful for the wonderful people in the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission who are prepared to hear the Gospel message,  for the temple, the Book of Mormon,  Preach My Gospel....
I can never list all that I am grateful for-  But lastly - I am grateful for a personal testimony of the truthfulness of the message we share.  It is true-  The Lord is in charge and He is coming.

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!  We love you all!
President and Sister Shumway
Abby and Taylor

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

                               New missionaries visiting the giant "Praying Hands" at Oral Roberts 
                                       University,  just a few miles from the mission home.

A Very Long Blog about September 2012

October 10, 2012

Hello all,
  Six weeks have passed since I had two minutes to do this.  Hope you'll forgive me when you hear what kind of September we've had- absolutely crazy and stressful and wonderful!
Before I start on my long saga, I want to tell you about my recent afternoon with two beautiful sister missionaries.  We tried unsuccessfully to contact 4 or 5 less active members and investigators they had on a list, which didn't include any phone numbers.  So- no one was home.  But, we decided to try some tracting.  New experience for me and also for one of the sisters who has only been out a week.  We talked to two nice ladies- not interested, and tried to talk to a gentlemen standing out on his driveway.  I waved and smiled at him, "hello sir", and he ran in the garage and shut the door!  That was my first day of tracting!  It really wasn't painful at all.  We didn't get in, but I was glad to have a first and especially glad that our new sister got that out of the way.  And we had some time after to talk about how we could improve and think about some creative finding ideas.

Our monthly schedule of meetings and training is finally starting to take enough shape that I can plan ahead, and I see that I will have time to go out at least once a week with the sisters.  It is such a joy for me.  Sister missionaries are very special people.  It wasn't their duty to come, but it is their special privilege.  I am honored to share in their experiences.

It makes me so happy when we find lost sheep.  It happens every day!
Two of our elders were walking around in WalMart a couple of weeks ago.  A man walked up to them and asked what he needed to do to become a member of their church!  They said they would need to teach him and then he would be baptized.  He said  that was great and he was ready!
Who says missionary work is hard!

Ok- now if you can handle reading about September.
On September first we had our first General Authority Visit.  Elder___ and his wife (remember -I can't use any names!) arrived in Tulsa.  They stayed with us at the mission home from Saturday afternoon through Monday morning.  It was an experience we will always treasure.  We made special foods from their country (not the US) which we all enjoyed.  They were so interested in Abby and Taylor and spent a great deal of time talking with them.  I think they know that this is a challenge for the children of mission presidents.
It was such a sweet experience to attend Sacrament Meeting with them the next day and then to enjoy our Sunday meal together.  A local Stake President also joined us for dinner and the office staff came for dessert.  Our office staff are incredible people who work so hard but don't always get to participate in the special experiences the missionaries have.  We wanted them to meet Elder ____ and his wife.

On Monday Sept. 3 we started a mission tour, which lasted through Thursday afternoon.  We divided our 9 zones into four groups and spent 1 whole day with each group in training.  President Shumway and I will always think of this time as an intense learning experience for us personally.  We watched as Elder ______ and his wife taught the missionaries every day without a written outline. They had videos on an I-pad, their scriptures, and other materials, but they were not going through a script and every day was different.  We knew that we were watching divine revelation first hand, especially as Elder ___ would say things that we knew needed to be said for certain zones or certain missionaries.  After a couple days I asked Elder ____ how it was possible to speak as he did each day - two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon- to each zone!  He told me that he gets up very early every morning, ususally 4 or 5am.  He prays and things come into his mind.  Then he goes to the scriptures and he reads church articles and books.  His mind is then prepared and so the Lord can use him however He needs to- the Holy Ghost can pull from his prepared mind whatever needs to be said.  Such a great lesson for us- and for our missionaries.

We learned so many other things about Priesthood protocol and organization.  Wish I could share them all.  Each day, wonderful stake Relief Society sisters made delicious lunches for us and our 40 to 50 missionaries.  The saints here are generous and kind and we couldn't function without them.
After the conference each day we drove 2 hours or more to the next area where the conference would be held the next day.  We had a dinner with local stake presidents and their wives and then collapsed in our hotel rooms.  By Thursday night when we finally left to go home, we were very tired, but on a spiritual high and we talked all the way home about our experiences.  We left Elder ____ and his wife with a rental car.  They drove to Fort Smith AR to prepare to reorganize a stake there.  We were to return to join them on Saturday.
                                           Singing our "thank you" hymn to the Relief Society sisters

We were so happy to see Abby and Taylor who had been at home, chaperoned by dear Senior Missionaries who are here working with LDS Social Services.  They do a lot for the mission as well- working with less actives and also some proselyting.  They stayed at the mission home and took care of Abby and Taylor.  The missionaries old and young have become our family.  We depend so much on each other and we love them all dearly.
                                           Our wonderful Senior Missionaries with Abby and Taylor

We spent Friday Sept 7 in Tulsa and then headed right back to Fort Smith on Saturday.  Scott spoke in the afternoon leadership session of their stake conference and I spoke in the evening session.  Elder _____and his wife also were there to reorganize the Stake.  Another General Authority and his wife accompanied them.  After one whole week spent with Elder and Sister _____, they had become our dear friends.  We will never forget the precious time spent with them and all that we learned from them.   A special gift from Heavenly Father for us.

We drove home, picked up Abby and Taylor and went straight to the airport to get Scott's sister- Linda (Aunt Joey).  We'd had some strong promptings that she needed to be with us for the next difficult week as we would have to leave again on Thursday morning- for four days for training in Dallas for Mission Presidents in our area.  Taylor was having a hard time with us being gone- and we knew Aunt Joey would calm his troubled heart- and she did.

She stayed for a whole week-  helping with cooking and everything that was going on.

It seemed incredible, but the very next day (Monday 9-10-12) it was Zone Leader Council- again!  We cooked hard and fast and whipped our training into shape- we'd had some thoughts about it during the week.
                                          Ham and Potatoe Casserole for the Zone Leaders!
                                           The breakfast crew- preparing the night before.

Tuesday afternoon, as our wonderful Zone Leaders drove away, I think both President Shumway and I felt like we'd like a long nap, but we had to get everything squared away to leave for Dallas on Thursday.   On Wednesday Joey and I drove all over town- we grocery shopped and ran errands and did business at the mission office.  We were all ready by Thursday morning and President Shumway and I felt so comfortable to leave with Aunt Joey tending things.

Mission Training in Dallas:
I'm not going to say much about this-  except that it was four wonderful, intense days of training.   We were treated to a Texas Ranger baseball game and a wonderful dinner at a restaurant - with all 50 of us.  The thing we loved best was our session at the Dallas Temple- with all the other mission presidents and their wives.  One of the seventy (our area authority) and his wife and other General Authorities were with us every minute.  It was another sacred experience- like the feeling we had at the MTC.  We were treated royally and given amazing training.  We were so grateful-  now we know what we don't know, so it was very helpful.

Home again- on Sunday September 16th
Monday Sept 17th-  We put Joey on the plane-  sad for all of us-  but so grateful she was here and looking forward to her coming back!
We had just two days to get ready for 16 new missionaries to arrive.  With the help of my incredible assistant, we started the cooking again,  and President Shumway and I,  with the help of our very fine assisants, got ready for transfer week.
Transfer week is the most exhausting thing we do.  Up early and up late and lots of work inbetween.   It's exciting and joyful to welcome all the new missionaries and get them ready to go out into the field.  It's a very mixed feeling to put the returning missionies on the plane to go home-  it makes me cry.  They really have become our sons and daughters and we miss them when they leave.

So that was the end of three wild weeks-  We made it through it and we learned soooo much- 

Last couple weeks:
Very busy like all the others.  Started on Sunday September 23rd.  President Shumway and I spoke in the Tulsa East Stake Conference.  We speak so much- I start to think everyone has heard us, but there are still 6 stakes we haven't spoken in.  So I can use my talk 6 more times until I have to make a new one!  That works out great.

After Stake Conference we came running back home to be here when our area authority, Elder_____ and Elder _____ (our regional rep)  arrived for lunch.  We got here only 10 minutes before they did.  I had stayed up late on Saturday night and got up very early on Sunday to make sure most of it was ready.  Abby and Taylor left to go to our ward, and there were just the four of us for lunch.  To have such one on one special attention from our leaders was really remarkable.  We felt their love for us, and soaked up the council they gave us.  We ate and talked for about an hour and then they all left, including President Shumway for a regional Priesthood Meeting.  I hurried to clean up and get ready to pick up Abby and Taylor from church.  We met President Shumway at the building he was at and then drove two hours to Joplin, MO for the dedication of the brand new stake center that has just been built there to replace the one that was blown away by the tornado in 2011. This was the reason Elder–––––– had come, so he was there too.  He spoke and dedicated the building.  It was a very touching meeting.  Many of the people had lost their homes and cars.  The two people that gave the prayers had actually been in the Stake Center when the tornado came.  Their lives were spared- the only thing that remained of the Stake Center when it passed over, was the bathroom they were hiding in.  They walked out of it to nothing!  A very traumatic experience.  There were lots of tears shed and miracles spoken of.  Go on You-tube and see the CNN video of President Creed Jones who lost his home.  He thought he had lost his daughters too- but they were also miraculously protected.  The destruction in Joplin brought the whole community together.  There were many people from other faiths there at the dedication.  The church has donated land to their churches to rebuild.   It was a wonderful experience.  We even met an old Orem High School friend.

Monday 9-24-12 through Saturday 9-29-12
The kids didn't have school on Monday- but Taylor still had football practice!  Always football!  I think he is enjoying it though he is not getting much playing time.   Part of the reason for that is that his hernia surgery kind of got him behind in the preparation for football.  I think next year will be a better season for him.  Part of Monday I spent signing Abby up for art classes at a very nice, and close Art School.  Here come Abby's masterpieces!  She is so good at this and we'll display them around the mission home.  She also re-started tennis lessons-  the tennis club is only a mile away.  We're finally starting to settle in.  I can almost make the drive to Seminary with my eyes shut-  I don't!  In fact, I have started playing the alphabet game with myself as I'm driving to stay awake at 5am.  I never did like getting up early,  though I have had to do it a great deal in my life.  But 5am is so dark!  I'm very proud of Taylor to do this-

The rest of the week Scott traveled out doing training and I stayed home preparing for Zone Leader Council and working with Missionary Medical, which is a constant effort.  That week one missionary tried to ride his bike while talking on the phone.  Unfortunately, though he had his helmet on his head, it wasn't strapped on, so he had a trip to the ER for 11 stitches in various places on his head, and he also broke a tooth.  He's promised me he won't do that again.  It is so difficult to learn "the hard way"!

 Birthday Wishes
Something wonderful has happened in the last week.  We've had some magic!  Actually- we've had some blessings!  I call the missionaries on their birthdays to tell them happy birthday and we love them.  One week ago, I called an Elder to say happy birthday.  I told him my birthday wish for him was that he would find an investigator before the day was out.  He called me at 3:30pm to tell me they had called a referral on their list and he said he wanted the lessons and he wanted to be baptized!  I must be magic!  Two days later I said the same thing to another missionary. I told him my birthday wishes had power so I was sure he would find someone.  He called me at 9:30 pm to tell me they had found two new families to teach!  Later in the week I wasn't able to contact a missionary for his birthday wish until later in the evening- so he called me the next night to tell me they had a new person to work with.  I really wish I did have some magic to make this happen, but I know it's just because the missionaries really try hard when they are given a challenge and good things happen.  Anyway, it's made me happy and them too! 

Apartment Inspections
In the last few weeks one of our senior office missionaries and I have started appartment inspections.  It's obvious this hasn't been done in a while.  We have seen some pretty dirty apartments, but we've also seen some "celestial" apartments.  "Celestial" apartments get a reward-  cookies or candy bars.  We're going to make some fruit baskets next.  I really enjoy doing this.  Sister _____ and I have become dear friends- we have so much work to do together.  She helps with the fleet, does the finances, and all the housing.  Way too much for her, and we are trying to get a senior couple here in our stake to work as "church service missionaries" and take over the apartments.  It's a huge job- and we have a lot of concerns.  Missionaries have to be moved when they call to tell us there was a shooting in the complex, or other dangerous things going on.  At one apartment we visited, the stairs were so old and rickety I really thought my foot would go through the wood and their heat wasn't working.  We're moving them.  Then there are the holes in the walls, inflicted by missionaries, and spots on the carpets from bringing bikes inside, etc....   We're doing a lot of training and we can already see improvement.  I also enjoy doing this because it gives me an opportunity to get to know the missionaries better and to be able to picture where they are.  We have so many appartments it is not possible for Sister _____ and me to visit them all ourselves-  besides they are hours away.  So we do all the ones we can reach in an hour and we have assigned President Shumway's counselors and other senior missionaries, who all live in far away spots of the mission, to help us keep up with the job.

Zone Leader Council-  October 1-2, 2012
Again October 1st-  I love it!  We work so hard to get ready for this meeting.  Three meals prepared mostly ahead of time, and hours of training ready-  the Assistants and President Shumway and I are responsible for that.  We know these missionaries pretty well now, and they are fabulous!  They just shine.  They are hard working, happy, devoted Elders.  They bring sunshine into the mission home and I love watching them interact.  They come to learn and they listen attentively, write notes like crazy, share ideas, and really work at becoming better Zone Leaders.  I love having them sleep over for one night.  I feel all the Priesthood we have in the mission home for that day.  These are the future leaders of the Church and they are going to be great.

                                            My assigned breakfast helpers- they did a great job!
                                            I love this picture- they all took off their shoes to keep the carpets                                                       clean.  These are the shoes of angels.
                                         Our tradition- the monthly ZLC picture.
General Conference -October 2012
It was so strange not to be with family for our traditional conference activities, but I think we made the best of it.  For Priesthood meeting, Scott took Taylor to Chuck-a-rama (a tradition), and I took Abby out to eat and then to the mall, and then we got to join with the Phil Shumway family on Skype for the traditional after the Priesthood session report. We loved that.
On Sunday we had our traditional Conference Breakfast-  homemade cinnamon rolls,  eggs, sausage and juice, and we had 12 missionaries (our office staff and 6 young missionaries) to join us!  We all watched both sessions of conference and then had a nice dinner after which everyone helped to prepare.  These wonderful people feel like family-  we are so grateful for them.
                                          Our General Conference Guests-  so much fun!
                                         Two wonderful sister missionaries-
                                           More great senior sisters...
                                            ...and their Elder husbands.
                                          A smiling Elder helping in the kitchen.

We had one very sad thing this week.  One of our sweet sister missionaries that just returned home  lost her father.  He died of cancer on Sunday.  She had returned home one transfer early because she had felt prompted to get home a little sooner.  What a blessing for her.  She got to spend three weeks with him.

Tuesday October 7, 2012
Wow! I'm caught up!  President Shumway is out traveling -  training the Trainers, the new missionaries and the District Leaders.   I'm here keeping up with missionary medical, football, art lessons, tennis lessons, and trying hard to get ready for the Sisters Conference we will have next week.  Next week will be the beginning of three very busy weeks.  Those crazy weeks seem to come in chunks- and here comes another chunk!  But now we know we'll survive!  We just gear up for it.  This would be completely impossible without our wonderful office staff and the great sister that helps me here in the mission home-  I just love her!  She has a wonderful family of her own, she gets up at 4am to teach seminary 5 days a week- and then comes to help me three days a week!
                                          Number 10 is our hero Taylor!
Jenks Football is a big deal!

                                                       Our beautiful Abby-

Wildlife in Tulsa 
I told you the bugs are a little crazy in Oklahoma.  All the crickets went nuts a few weeks ago- there were hundreds of them- big giant ones- everywhere, hopping all over the place, and then suddenly they just all died.  And then there were hundreds of them, big giant ones, everywhere, in piles on the sidewalks and in corners of buildings- so icky.
Today as I drove out the driveway, a giant hawk was sitting in the middle of the road.  I got out of the car and walked up close enough to get a picture before he flew away. Then I drove just around the corner and saw a red fox.  I've seen them before in the dark, but never in the day and up close.  Very cool!
It was my wildlife day!
                                               Dead Crickets- Yikes!
                                                   The hawk that protects our road!
                                                        Red Fox-

Ok- that's two months worth-  more than anybody wanted to read.  I keep saying I'll post more often, don't count on it!  President Shumway keeps telling me he wants to find time to write to you.  He had amazing stories-  some he can't share, but I know you'll love to hear what he can.  That's the end!
We love you all so much, and love it when we hear news of you-  drop us an email
Sister Anne Shumway

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our report of Sunday August 12- Saturday August 18

It's been a true missionary week- with some great things and some hard things.  That's the way of life and it makes every day an adventure!
Taylor really did have a hernia.  Last Saturday night as that sunk in I began to feel a little stressed.  Our wonderful new ward friend and doctor told us we could wait to take him in until Monday and that he would set up an appointment with a surgeon on Monday morning-  and that Taylor would probably have to have surgery next week.  I could feel the stress rising as I thought about all that needed to be done in the next week.  Monday and Tuesday was Zone Leader Council-  our second one.  I knew it meant cooking on Monday- the Zone Leaders would come in on Monday afternoon about 5:00pm, we'd have a fireside- President Shumway and I would speak.  Tuesday morning I'd need to have breakfast going by 6:30 and the Elders would help me cook.  We'd go to the chapel for training-  they'd come back to the mission home for lunch and then depart.

I was really worrying about how it could all get done.  Saturday night as I was kneeling to pray about it, a scripture came into my mind.  "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding...and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)  So many, many things I've had to do in the last 6 weeks have been beyond my "own understanding".  I trust that voice that tells me He will help me do everything that is necessary.  My fear left, and really I could hardly wait to see how it would all work out-  and it did!

Monday morning I took Taylor to football at 5:00am with a note from our Dr. friend saying that Taylor had a hernia and would not be able to play for a while.  Picked him back up just in time to get him home, showered, and ready for our appointment with the surgeon.  Got everything going on the food before we left and my wonderful assistant worked on it while we were gone.
Spent the rest of the afternoon preparing.  ZLC fireside went well.  The Elders helped with breakfast the next morning and I showed a couple of them what to get out for lunch.
Elders left- I cleaned up the kitchen- went to the training to do my part- and left to get Taylor to the hospital.  His surgery was scheduled last- hoorah!  The Lord just worked it all out.  I don't know why I ever doubt.

Another great thing happened for me this week.  Several weeks ago I was at a grocery store late at night.  I honestly was so tired that I think I was walking through the store with my eyes half closed.  I stopped at the meat counter and as I was snoozing waiting for my meat, I began to realize that someone was talking to me.  One of the butchers, a young man,  was asking me, "What is that?", referring to my name tag, and "Who are you?"
The Spirit tapped me on the head and said, "Wake up, Sister Shumway, someone is asking YOU about the gospel!"   That seldom happens.  I came out of the haze I was in and had an opportunity to share the gospel for a few minutes and get a name and address. That is always very rewarding.

We talked about following through with referrals at our Zone Leader Council and a couple days later I got a call from some missionaries who told me they had tried to visit my referral- the young man in the store.  The first visit no one was home, so they left a card saying they would come back in two days.  When they went back, the young man's mother answered the door.  She told them she had felt something special when she had seen their card, and knew that she should talk with them when they came back.  That day, when she looked through the peep hole and saw the missionaries, she said they were surrounded by light, and again she knew she should let them in and talk with them.  They are surrounded by light- I see it too.
The last I heard, the missionaries have an appointment next week to start the lessons.  I don't know what will happen, but I am so grateful when the Lord blesses me with missionary experiences. 

I met another sweet lady in the doctor's office who let me tell her a little and at least explain that we really are Christians-  hence, the name-  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  She said she has wondered why people think we are so kooky- I seemed perfectly normal to her!   It's fun to educate people.

I continue to have very interesting experiences taking care of the medical for the missionaries.  Sometimes it scares me-  I'm so afraid to make a mistake with one of these precious young people whose parents are trusting us to keep them safe.  Sometimes I have strange dreams-  I dreamed a few nights ago that huge bedbugs were biting me after one Elder called to tell me he thought he might have them-  he doesn't, thank goodness!   But now our Area Medical Advisor says we should all be worried about West Nile Virus-  that'll be easy for me!  To worry!!!

While I was taking care of Taylor last week, Scott was traveling around the mission training the new missionaries, the trainers, and doing interviews.  He was gone Tuesday night through Friday night and went right back out again on Saturday afternoon, not coming home until Monday night (23rd).  He comes home very tired but he has such great things to tell me-  I love to hear it all.  He is a wonderful mission president-  he loves his missionaries.

So that was last week and here we are in another one.  I'll report about it on Saturday or Sunday.  Every day goes by so fast-  we can't believe we have been here almost 2 months!  We are just starting to understand our responsibilities - we have a long way to go.  But we know one thing- the gospel is true and the Lord runs this Church.  He is absolutely in charge and that is the reason we puny mortals are able to help Him.  We would really mess it up without His guidance.  I'm so grateful to know He is here- and so are the very angels.  We feel that too-  some of them we know well and love dearly.
Hope you are all happy and well.  The Shumways love every one of you!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

It's hot in Oklahoma!  Though I can't really complain today because it's under a hundred.  For the last month we have had many days over 110 degrees, a couple 112!  It truly felt like my eyelids were going to melt.  And with the heat have come so many health problems for the missionaries-  nausea, headaches, rashes, stomach problems, and a couple of serious heat exhaustion cases.  We've all had to drink a lot and use wisdom in our "finding" efforts.

Every hot afternoon, when you really can't even breath outside, a cute little squirrel climbs up in the tree at our back window and flops himself over the branch.  At first I thought he was dead, but when I got up close he opened his eyes and went "on alert".  He's just trying to stay cool like the rest of us, and he's made me smile.

We've had so many experiences in the last few weeks, I hardly know where to begin.  Some nights as I crawl into bed I can't even remember everything I did that day-  the days are so packed.  And though this is hard work, it is wonderful work.  I'd have to say my favorite part is the association we have with our missionaries.  They are incredible!  We love each one.

I've also been completely overcome with admiration for President Shumway.  He has had to deal with some very difficult circumstances and has known what to do.  It is easy for me to see the Spirit at work with him.  He is absolutely being guided and I'm so grateful that I have the privilege to watch it.  He was so worried about this first "transfer week", but it all worked out just the way the Lord planned it.

The transfer process started last week. Each day President Shumway spent pouring over "the board"-  a huge magnetic board with all the missionaries names and pictures, divided into the zones and areas they are serving in.  I felt overwhelmed for him as I thought about the task of praying and making sure that all 190 missionaries were in the right place, with the right companion.  But again-  the Lord was in charge.

I'll admit that I had a pit in my stomach about transfer week.  I guess I'm always a little worried about things I haven't done before.  There was so much food to prepare, the mission home to be ready, and training to prepare for.  So now we've done it once, it will be easier next  time.
Here was the schedule:
Tuesday about 1:00pm-  the new missionaries arrived at the airport.  There were only six this time, a very small group.  And that was just perfect to break us in.  We stopped at the mission office to do some paperwork, took a short tour around Tulsa and then came to the mission home for lunch and training.  Our amazing assistants did a couple hours of training- working through a packet of details for each missionary-  signing papers for permission to drive vehicles, missionary medical documents, all kinds of things.  President Shumway and I took an hour to do some training we felt strongly about.  In 5 short weeks, we've already seen some things that missionaries need to really be able to function well. 
Then dinner.  I have a wonderful assistant that I really could not do without.  She and I cooked for some days last week to prepare for all the meals we'd be feeding missionaries this week.  No time in the middle of the transfers for any cooking.
After dinner a testimony meeting.  Oh these new missionaries are so sweet-  they have such a desire to serve and find souls to bring to Christ.  It was very touching to me. 
Wednesday morning- up at 5:15am to get breakfast out for the missionaries.  They had to be ready by 6:30 to get into the big mission van that would leave to start transfers.  It pulls a huge trailer we call "the bull" that takes all their luggage and picks up all the luggage of the transferring missionaries.
So transfers begin.  The van and another large truck go on two separate loops moving missionaries all around the mission and gathering the missionaries that are returning home.  The drivers of those vehicles are just exhausted by the time they pull back into the mission home about 5pm.  They've driven hundreds of miles.
Wednesday night-  What a very special night.  We had 12 returning missionaries.  11 Elders and 1 sister.  We fed them dinner on the china- they deserved it!  The mission office staff joined us-  they are some of the wonderful mission family that have served these missionaries for the last 2 years.
After dinner we listened to the testimonies of each returning missionary.  They have given all they could, they've grown up in numerous ways, their testimonies are strong, and they are reluctant to return home.  There were lots of tears.  I think it was a sacred moment for all of us.
The office staff and assistants left and President Shumway and I took an hour to give some counsel that we hoped would help in the huge transition ahead for the missionaries.  Our office staff makes a special binder with things that will help them.
Thursday morning- up just after 5:00again to get breakfast ready and load up for the airport.  We had to leave before 7am to make it for the first flight that would go out.

I don't like the airport experience much-  We've only been here a short time, but it hurt our hearts to say goodbye to this first batch of returning missionaries.  We'll try to stay in touch with them and we'll always be interested in them.  We're happy for them too-  they've served honorably and have blessed the Lord's kingdom,  and now they move forward.  I just remember the hard time it was for my own boys to make the transition from full time service to being home.  I'm praying for them.

I'll never write all that much detail about our transfer week again- but I thought you might be interested to see what we do.

I've had several opportunities to go out with the sister missionaries.  I'll share one experience and then I'll be done with this long blog.  The first time I went out with the sisters, we visited one part member family with a 9 yr. old boy that hadn't been baptized.  I loved watching the sisters teach and help this family (he was baptized a couple of weeks ago).  After that visit we tried to visit another family that weren't home and as we walked back to our cars, we met a very nice older gentleman who said he would allow us to come to his home the next week and share a message.
The next week we did visit him- and his dogs.  He was so nice to us and very friendly- and so were the dogs.  While one of the sisters was trying to teach the first lesson, those two dogs climbed all over us. The very nice man said we would know if one of the dogs liked us, because he would bite us on the wrist!  That very dog came over to lick on me and I thought, "Oh just pet him Anne and get it over with!"  Some of you know I am not very fond of large dogs and even quite a bit afraid of them.  After I'd stroked his back a couple of times, he opened his big mouth and chomped down on my wrist!  Oh dear- he liked me!  It didn't hurt, but it was a little frightening.  He drooled doggie slime all over my arm and then climbed right up on my lap and licked my cheeks.  It took all my will power to keep smiling.  Thankfully, his owner finally lifted him off my lap, and we went on with the lesson.
The amazing thing was this.  Even with all the doggie distraction, the Spirit was there.  When one of the sisters quoted Joseph's vision, the brother lifted his head and listened intently.  You can't talk about that most incredible event without the Spirit attending.  It was amazing to watch.

The next week, the sisters and I had a prayer before we went in to teach this man.  We asked the Lord to help the dogs be calm so we could teach without distraction.  For the entire time we were there, they laid quietly on the floor.  It was truly an answer to our prayers.
That was going to be the end, but we have just come back from a football dinner for Taylor-  the first with the whole team and families.  Probably a thousand people there-  it was incredible.  And this morning was Taylor's first team scrimmage-  so fun to watch.  As we drove home tonight, Taylor said he was really hurting and thought he might have a hernia.  Our dear new ward friend, a doctor, has just left our home.  Taylor does have a hernia- a bad one.  We'll be having surgery next week-  so much for football.  Taylor is going to be so disappointed.  We'll see what the Lord has in store for Taylor.

We love you all so much- and miss you.  We are learning and growing into this incredible calling.  We spend a lot of time on our knees and the help always comes.  We've learned that no one could really do this without divine help-  it would be impossible.  We are so blessed and so grateful.
Please keep in touch with us.
Love,  Sister Shumway

(I talked President Shumway in blogging!   Below-)

Dear All,
I heard one mission president describe his first month as the longest year of his life. There may be some truth to that. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just unbelievably packed with non-stop activity including, but not limited to,  meetings, interviews (over 110 of them) emergency calls, dinners, Elders, Sisters, couples, conferences, travel (over 4,300 miles in four weeks) , speaking, preparing  and finally, transfers.  Not to mention one small crisis after another followed by a few big ones which have been thrown in for good measure.  

Through all of this we watch miracles happen every day and we hear about many more that are happening with our missionaries. In the end and on balance, this whole mission thing is overwhelming….and fun….and fulfilling….and frustrating. We love it and wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything in the world. At the end of every day we wonder how we did it all and we know that it will start right up again the next day. At the end of the week we look back and realize how blessed we have been and what a great time we are having. It really is fun.

As some of you know, the thing that has frightened me the most has been the transfers. I have spent hours either on my knees or standing in front of the transfer board trying to know the Lord’s will for 190 souls. It is the most intimidating thing I have ever done.  I would listen to what my wonderful Assistants had to say, then listen to what Anne had to share, and yet I was still looking into the faces of hundreds of missionaries that I had never personally met. I cannot express the promptings that I felt in words but it was miraculous to sense the Lords approval with every move or non-move that was made. If it wasn’t right, I would immediately know that there was something wrong and change it until the puzzle pieces started to fit together. Later on, as I began to receive the weekly e-mails from the missionaries it was amazing all of the “coincidences” that had occurred. I’ve had two thoughts about this entire process. One of them was a simple confirmation of what I have said dozens of times. This is not my mission. It is the Lords and he is in charge and ready to guide the affairs of everything.

The second thought I had was that I think somebody has a “big” transfer board somewhere and the Lord’s plan for us is laid out with all the pieces coming together. I think Neal Maxwell said, ‘’there are no coincidences in the Lords church,” and I am more certain than I have ever been that He is in charge and it is our reaction to the directions that we receive that will measure out success.   

It has also been very interesting and fulfilling to me to actually see some of the reasons that I have been receiving impressions since last November regarding specific things that we need to work on in this mission. ( I know that was a complicated sentence but if you read it enough times you will get the point)  Before we came here I had some strong feelings about directions we needed to go and training that would need to be emphasized. It all turned out to be exactly right and I don’t know why that continues to amaze me. At some point I suppose I just have to realize that it isn’t so amazing, it is just the way it works and if I stay in tune, it will always work this way.

One of the things that I continue to watch with wonder is Anne. She is balancing so many things but her responsibilities over missionary medical is astounding. I believe she will be qualified and should be certified to work in any ER in the country when she is finished. She has seen more “stuff” and diagnosed more weird ailments than I can even count. From broken bones to rashes and everything weird in-between.  Her phone never stops ringing. You should see the picture of one of the sisters legs where she has ringworm!!

I have given countless blessings and said so many prayers that I wonder if the Lord is getting tired of me. I have Him on speed dial but sometimes that isn’t fast enough. However,  in a very real way, I sometimes feel like I am on a direct Skype connection with Him and I cannot describe how wonderful that is. One other thing that you may find interesting. I have felt the presence on more than one occasion of mom, or dad, or both.  Anne has felt the same thing at different times and I continue to remember that Elder Holland told me it was okay that dad was no longer here. He felt that dad would do more for us where he is that anything he could have done if he were still here. Elder Holland’s words were both prophetic and accurate.

Taylor and Abby are doing well. We went to Taylor’s first scrimmage today and there were more people there for the scrimmage that you will see at any sophomore or JV game in Utah. We go to our first football dinner tonight which is being funded by the booster club and we are being encouraged to buy season tickets so that we won’t have to sit in the end-zone seats. Really…..they have end-zone seats. Abby is anxious for school to start and she has made some very good friends here. That has been a great blessing.

I hope you know how much we love you all and we miss you more than we can express. We love hearing from you and we pray constantly for everything to be alright with you.

I Love You all !!!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Hello ya'all or is it you-uns?
I'm still trying to figure out what is appropriate when! 
I can see it is going to be a challenge for me to try and find a permanent time to write on this blog-   I'm just going to have to use the snatches of time I can find.
Do you love my cicada picture?  This is the creepiest bug ever!  They are everywhere- up in the trees- and they make a very loud metalic sound.  We find the shells they shed all over the place- also creepy.
But we are learning to love them- they are one of Heavenly Father's creatures!?!

I love my early morning walks.  I see little cottontail bunnies, beautiful flowering trees, and today- a fox!  A small fox- and I didn't get a picture.  The neighbors say I will see lots of little baby foxes in the spring.  I'll look forward to that.  It is so hot- even early in the morning-(6:30am it was 86)- and so humid, that I am dripping by the time I get home and very thirsty.  Some of our elders and sisters are struggling with dehydration and heat exhaustion.  They have to drink a lot to keep up with it.
We've been over 100 degrees for more than a week now and it doesn't look like it's going to cool off.
But I think we are truly starting to get used to it.  At least Taylor tells me he feels better at his 6am football workouts.

Oklahoma Football!  Wow!  No one loves football like they do here.  When Taylor's fall schedule starts he will have football practice every afternoon for four hours and on Saturday morning too-a game every Monday night,  a "position" dinner (required and provided by the parents who take turns) every Tuesday night,  Wednesday night is free after the 4 hour practice because it is church night (all churches have their activities on this night so no one schedules anything else).  Utah could learn a lot from that!  Every Thursday night is a team dinner, every Friday night is the varsity game (everyone suits up- sophomores too and they stand on the side lines with the team).  After the game there is a dinner for the players provided by the Booster Club (made up of the parents).  Saturday am is another workout and watching of film.  Then there are the special events coming up- like the Father's and Son's pancake breakfast.  Football is a real community affair- everyone shows up.  People have had season tickets for 40 years, and if you want a good seat you better get yours!  It is impressive.  The whole community supports the school and the kid's activities. 
I am so impressed with our head coach who has told the boys that their first priorities are 1. God, 2. Family, 3. Church 4. School 5 Football.  That's impressive too.

Alright- now about our last two weeks.  Two weeks ago on Monday and Tuesday we had the monthly Zone Leader Council at the mission home-   a lot of work and so wonderful!  I just loved it.  18 Zone Leaders came, plus two sister missionaries and the two assistants to the President.   Monday night we had dinner together, and a fireside that President Shumway and I presented.  There was such a sweet spirit here in the mission home-  these are all outstanding missionaries- hardworking and devoted to the Lord.  18 of them slept in the mission home- including the two sisters.  They got to sleep in the general authority bedroom on a different floor of the mission home.  The Elders sleep in the enormous bunk rooms that we have upstairs- a total of 15 beds in the two rooms, plus blow-up beds if anyone needs them. 

The next morning 6 elders got up early to help me cook breakfast for the crowd and then all the missionaries left for the closest church for their training meeting.  Afterwards they came back for lunch and then left for their areas.  It was just a great experience.  They were all so polite, positive and fun to be around.  I'm going to enjoy this each month.

The rest of the week and part of the next week President Shumway traveled around the mission doing "New Missionary Training",  "Train the trainers"  and "District Leader Training".  Our schedule is a little off, but normally this will happen just after transfers, when we have new missionaries to train.  It took him three days to get around to all the new missionaries and their trainers, but I know he really enjoyed it.
In the past three weeks he has put about 3,000 miles on his mission car.  We have a big geographic area and he will have to do a lot of driving. 

The end of last week and this week President Shumway is doing interviews.  He has 180 missionaries to interview every quarter, and he won't get them all done this week, but a big chunk of them.  This is also such a joy.  President loves to talk with them, and when I can I go too.  I call them out of the meetings they are in (usually a Zone Training Meeting or a District Meeting)  and visit with them before they go in to be interviewed.  I am learning so much about their lives before they came, their desires, their problems and successes in missionary work.  They are truly God's choice children.

I am not able to go everywhere with President Shumway because my priority is still to Abby and Taylor.  They are getting involved in things here-  Abby started a tumbling class that I think she is enjoying.  This entire week she will be at an art camp with the University of Tulsa.  Taylor is at driver's ed right now- a 5 hour class today and tomorrow.  He is NOT enjoying it!  But the reward will be that he will have his learner's permit and then we will have to drive with him for over 50 hours-  something I will NOT enjoy- I'm scared...    I love that boy but I don't think I want him to drive me around town-

Even though I'm not on the road with President Shumway, my own missionary responsibilities have kept me pretty busy.  Because I am responsible for the missionary medical-  I get 5 or 6 (sometimes more) phone calls every day from missionaries who need help-  everything you can think of, or can't think of!   Stitches in the ER,  poisen ivy, heat rash, sprained knee, sprained ankle, swollen lip, etc...
I am learning a lot about first aid and home remedies.  Lots of things have to go to the Dr., but for most we can think of something to handle the problem.  It's always interesting, and even though I'm not glad the missionaries are hurting, I'm happy to have opportunities to help them-  I love them.  One Elder said, "Sister Shumway -  don't worry about us".  I've heard that before-  right Matt!  I told him the same thing I told you.  It's in my job description-  "Thou shalt worry!"   And Pray.

I also do a lot of cooking-  a LOT!  And everything I cook- they eat!  Now isn't that nice.   Send me all your best recipes-  for the masses.  I"ll try everyone of them.

One of these days I'm going to grab President Shumway and get him to put a paragraph on this page, but until then you'll have to put up with me.  I'll just close this post by saying that I love being a missionary.  I love giving away pass-a-long cards.  I love it when someone will give me their phone number and address so I can send the missionaries.  I love all our missionaries -old and young.  We have such incredible senior couples and office missionaries.  They carry a huge work load and are so willing to do it all.  I love asking the Lord for help with our new and sometimes overwhelming responsibilities and hearing the still small voice tell me exactly what to do.  I love hearing President Shumway bear his testimony of the restoration of the gospel and I love watching the Spirit direct him in his service.  He is working so hard and doing such a great job. 

And-  I love all of you and miss you.  But I wouldn't come home for anything.  I am so grateful the Lord sent me to Oklahoma.