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