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.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hello dear friends and family,
I've waited for days to find a minute to write a little more again.  The past two weeks have been a whirlwind and I haven't found one second, but we're riding along in the car on our way to our fourth zone conference this week, so I am making a little time. 

First of all I need to let you know that we were given some specific instructions about blogs in our MTC training.  I had wanted to have a mission blog that would go out to all the parents of missionaries, but that is not allowed.  And- I will have to be very careful about what I post on this blog- no names of missionaries or investigators.  But I will try to share some of the wonderful experiences we have.

The MTC was four days of heaven.  We spent those days listening to instruction by the First Presidency and nearly all the apostles.  The feeling of priesthood power was so strong, I felt at times like the whole building would just float into heaven.  We were treated so kindly there- the staff had been instructed to memorize our names with our faces, so we were called by name everywhere we went.  We were well fed both spiritually and physically.  We were especially thrilled to receive our missionary name tags and put them on for the first time.  I've waited all my life to put on a name tag.  It was an emotional experience for me.

I'll share just a couple of special times at the MTC.  The first night we were there, we were invited to spend an hour with 17 of our missionaries who would actually arrive in the mission before we did.  That was a tender time.  We just loved them all immediately and could see how eager and ready they were to serve.

On one beautiful afternoon we were directed into the large auditorium where every missionary in the MTC had assembled to hear Elder L. Tom Perry speak for the weekly devotional.  The special part was that we got to be there too.  Our chairs were down on the main floor with 2000 missionaries seated up and behind us.  We all sang "Called to Serve".  So touching.  We could see some of our Elders and they waved and smiled at us.  After the meeting the entire body of mission presidents seated below, turned and waved to those wonderful missionaries and they waved back.  Scott and I couldn't talk for minutes because of the feelings that had welled up in us. 

I'm not sure how prepared we were after our MTC experience, but we truly did feel strengthened, encouraged and buoyed up.  The General Authorities did everything in their power to make it so for us.  We love and sustain them and are so snxious to be diligent in doing the work they have given us.

We went straight home from the MTC to our sweet little grandson, Brigham's baptism.  We said it was our first baptism as mission president!  Then back home to pack up and be ready to leave by the next morning.  Let me say here that our mission couldn't have happened without the incredible support of our children who have packed, cleaned, run errands, fed us, taken over the businesses and done a hundred other things to help us to prepare.  We know they will have to continue to help us.  Thanks kids-  we love and adore you and give you our deepest gratitude.

The night before we left was a hard one-  our hearts hurt a little at the thoughts of leaving our precious children, so it was good there was still so much to do that kept us busy and occupied.

June 28th dawned bright and beautiful and we got in the car-  after many hugs, kisses and tender words.  Those last few minutes were a little painful, and I was grateful Spencer just pushed me in the car and said, "Mom, just get in and get it over with."  We got in that car and turned our heads and hearts to our mission.  We're going to be lonely at times for our dear family, but we know what we have to do, and we accept it, and will give it the best we have to offer.

After the first few hours the trip became pleasant.  We stopped in Palisade CO to visit with my sister-in-law, Laurie Haderlie and her cute daughter Isabel.  Then on to Vail, CO.  We actually stopped in Vail and took a hike with the kids in the gorgeous mountains and cool fresh air-  ate a great dinner- slept for the night and started out again.  Colorado is having huge fires, which we could see from a distance at times- a little scary.  On into very flat, very hot, Kansas!  That was a loooooong drive!  We stayed in Salina Kansas for the night and the next morning went on into Tulsa.

Tulsa is not flat-  rolling hills and very green.  But still very hot and humid.  We are staying inside a lot!  We met with President and Sister Merkley- the outgoing mission president- for only a couple of hours.  They are incredible people who have served so well here and are beloved by the missionaries.  We just cried when they got in their car and drove away.  Those first couple hours alone in the mission home were a little overwhelming.  We hardly knew where to start!
What saved us were two handsome and very confident looking Assistants to the President, who came almost immediately and got to work with us.  They unloaded boxes and began talking-  giving us information about how the whole thing works.  We were so grateful.

The next days went something like this:
Sunday-  Met with our office staff in the morning to get oriented on what they do.  Went to our new ward- they are such wonderful, friendly people.  We love our new ward!  Worked in the mission office for a few hours preparing for our zone conferences that would start the nest day.

Monday-  Our first zone conference! The Tulsa and Tulsa East Zones. Can't even begin to tell you the feelings we had as we walked into a room full of our own missionaries- they were as anxious, excited, and worried as we were.  But there is a strong feeling that we are all in this together-  an immediate feeling of love and unity.  Our meeting went from 9:30am to 3:00pm, with a delicious lunch in the middle, provided by Stake Relief Society Sisters.  I left a little early with Abby and Taylor to take them to get enrolled in the new school district so Taylor can begin to play football next Monday.
We didn't get to bed until very late that night- so much preparation for the week's work. We had to shop for the Senior's Conference we were going to have on Wednesday.   I am getting used to getting to bed at midnight and getting up before six.  Somehow the Lord is blessing all of us to have enough energy to get through our days.  Even Abby and Taylor are getting up at 5:30 on the days we have had to travel.  We are so proud of them- they've been very patient through all of this.

Tuesday-  Same agenda for the Springdale and Rogers Zones-  about two hours away.  After the conference we drove home and got here just in time to welcome the first of the senior couples who were spending the night with us before our senior conference.

Wednesday-  The Fourth of July!  It was such a great day!  We had 5 senior couples and two single sisters spend the day with us-  a conference in the morning and a barbecue in the afternoon.  I made my famous ribs!  Four young Elders joined us too.  These Senior missionaries are the "salt of the earth".  Faithful, devoted, outstanding people who have spent their lives in the Lord's service.  We admire and love them and are SO grateful for their service in the mission.  It wouldn't run without them.

Thursday-  Up early and two hours to Fort Smith, Arkansas-  beautiful place.  Same agenda again for the Zone Conference.  I need to tell you that Abby and Taylor have also participated with a power point presentation about our family.  Abby and Taylor do a great job and the missionaries seem to enjoy it.  President Shumway and I both take a part in it, and the APs provide some excellent training.

So- here we are-  a three hour drive to Springfield, Missouri.  Another conference here tomorrow and then on to St. Robert for the last.  This has been our family mission tour and we probably never will bring Abby and Taylor all around the mission like this again, but this has been a great way to get a feeling about how big the mission is and to learn about all our missionaries.

We love this work-  we already have felt the Lord's direction a dozen times-  It's His mission, His missionaries and we'll try to follow His direction as we do it. 

This has probably been a way too long blog-  I'll try to post more often so it won't be so hard to read in the future.

One more thing-  we have fireflies!  and possums!  and Cicadas (they make a loud sound and they are very scary when they fly into your hair!)  We're having an ADVENTURE!