Monday, April 29, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

And it's just as beautiful as spring anywhere else- blossoms on the Red Bud trees (Oklahoma state tree!) all over the city, baby birds and squirrels everywhere, and baby foxes in our neighborhood!  This is such a great place!
This tree is to the side of the mission home- our Red Bud tree!

Beautiful Spring!

I know I've told you about my birthday wishes before, but they just keep working in miraculous ways.  I call the missionaries' on their birthdays and give them a birthday wish- that they will find a new investigator in the next 24 hours.  And they do!  It's all about faith.  This is one birthday miracle story.  I told the Elder to write it up and let me share it, so he wrote me this letter:

"Dear Sister Shumway,
So when you gave me my birthday wish on March 13, 2013 I was kind of scared because I didn't want to let you down and I knew that we were going to be busy teaching all day, so we wouldn't have time to do any finding!  We were so busy teaching that my companion and I had to split up in the evening!  My companion went with a member and I went with ____.  _____ is a senior in high school and he is preparing to serve a mission!  So he really wants to do missionary work.  So we went out and taught a lesson, it was kind of a far drive from the lesson to the church building, so we expected to meet my companion and the other member back at the church at around 9pm.  Well we got back to the church and it was 8:43pm.  We texted my companion and he said that he was about 20 minutes away (they had an even further drive).  I thought to myself, "it is late and nobody likes it when you knock on their door when it is late, but Sister Shumway wished me a new investigator and I can't let her down!"  So I looked at ____ and I told him that we were going to knock a few doors.  He said ok in a nervous voice-haha.  We went out and were driving through a neighborhood, I told ____ to tell me which house to stop at and we would knock that door.  I turned left down a street and when I was about halfway down ____ asked me if I could turn around and go back.  I turned around, we got back to the street that we were initially on and he pointed at a house and said, "That one."

I parked the car in front of the house, we said a prayer asking for the Spirit, and then we went and knocked on the door.  A lady answered with cleaning supplies in her hands.  she told us that she didn't live there and that she was cleaning the house for the bank.  We told her who we were and that our church was just around the corner, in the middle of our explanation she stopped us and said,  "You know, this is funny because I was driving and thinking if God really existed or not."  That was when we told her how we decided to knock on her door.  We testified to her that we were led by the Spirit of God to help her.  I offered her a copy of the Book of Mormon and she almost began to cry, she took it and took our number.  She gave us her number and she told us that she wanted to come to church.  It was a miracle!  I'm so grateful that I put forth that extra effort and that the Lord blessed (her) life, as well as ____ and me."

Aren't our missionaries amazing!!

Friday April 19, 2013-  Our anniversary!  And a special day to remember Grandmother!
My afternoon with the Sisters who teach in a little Branch made up of people from another country.

This day has had such an impact on me I can hardly think of it without crying.  I drove 2 hours away  to go out with the Sisters who teach in the Branch.  I didn't have any idea what I was in for.  They had set up appointments for us.  The very first apartment we entered was a very small, dark place.  A little sister- a grandmother- greeted us at the door with two darling dark eyed children hanging about her- grandchildren. There was one item of furniture in the entire apartment.  It was a small wooden chair- the sisters gave it to me and they sat on an old cooler.  The floor was littered with clothing and all kinds of personal items-  no dressers or tables.  The whole place was filthy.  A huge man lay in the corner on blankets- snoring.  We never saw his face, he was covered up, but the sisters explained to me that it was the little woman's son.
She began to visit with us in very broken English.  She was very hard to understand, Sister ____, from Samoa has picked up some of the language.  She is able to speak a little and communicate with these people.
The Little Grandmother is a member but none of the rest of her family.  Their financial situation is bleak- they may be kicked out of the apartment at any time because they don't have enough money to pay the rent.  Her son and his wife both work in the chicken industry.  Many people come  to work with the chickens.  They work all night and sleep in the day.
She kept telling us of her faith in God-  she knows He will take care of her- somehow.  And then she'd cry and cry.  The Sisters asked if we could open with a prayer-  the little grandmother said it- or rather cried it- in her own language.  She sobbed and sobbed as she prayed.  We were all crying.  Later,  Sister _____ told me that the entire prayer had been one of gratitude.  She had been thanking Heavenly Father over and over again.  It was so touching.  She has nothing of material value- but she has her faith- and she is grateful.

This little sweet sister can't come to church because she is hooked up to a big oxygen tank and she can't afford to fill the small portable one-  so many needs.  I asked when she had last taken the sacrament-  8 years ago.  We can do that much for her-  we can take the sacrament in every Sunday and perhaps we can do a lot more.

Then we went to see another family-  a father, mother and two children.  They had a table and some shelves- no other furniture.  We sat on the floor for our lesson.  They have been less active but are now working to go to the temple. 

I was so proud of our two Sisters-  who are working almost feverishly to help these people-  one appointment after another.  Every Monday night they teach 5 family home evening lessons!  They are building the kingdom!

Saturday April 20, 2013
Our preparation day-  but every day is a missionary day and today I found 3 new referrals.  All were young men!  One was a smiling, charming 21 year old at the dry cleaners I use.  I told him how much he would love our Young Single Adult branch and that the missionaries would love to teach him about the gospel of Jesus Christ and he asked, "Will they come today?"   Oh that just makes me so happy!
Two other young men came to work on our lawn.  They were hired by the LDS lawn company and their boss- a great returned missionary was actually with them.  I asked the boss if he had ever invited them to listen to the missionaries.  He hadn't but they had talked about the church, so he had prepared them for my question.  Could I send some missionaries to teach them about the gospel.  Yes!! They both gave me their contact information.

Sunday April 21, 2013
Yesterday President Shumway spent the entire day in Oklahoma City for a huge Priesthood Leadership Meeting that included the Mission Presidents and all the Stake Presidents and Bishops for our mission as well as the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission.  There were several general authorities there and President Shumway felt like he was well fed.

 One of the General Authorities traveled to our mission last night and spoke today at the Tulsa East Stake for a special conference which President Shumway was invited to speak at-  I just bore my testimony.
Immediately after the Stake Conference we had a remarkable meeting.  All of our 211 missionaries were invited to attend, about 2/3rds in person and the rest via satellite at their church buildings. I can't tell you how my heart felt to look out on that many missionaries- our missionaries!  I just wanted to hug them all at once.  We love them so much.  After the meeting, the General Authority shook every one of their hands.  He is a very kind man.
President Shumway hugged every one and I got to shake hands too.  It was such a blessing for all of us to be together.

Tonight Taylor and Abby had a youth fireside- sort of a talent night.  Taylor played both his mandolin and his violin.  The Bishop had invited a special guest- a 12 year old non-member who can play the banjo like crazy!  I took the kids and stayed to hear them.  I was so glad I did, because the banjo players father started a conversation with me about our missionary work and he gave me his phone number so the Elders can go teach them! 

Friday April 26, 2013
Today I went out with two more sister missionaries.  Another day to witness incredible poverty. 

When the Savior was on the earth He went to sinners, to the poor, the sick- lepers even, anyone who needed Him, and he expects us to do the same.  We can't be afraid to go in to these places where people are starving for hope and love.  I am so proud of our Sisters who walk right in, with courage, and take the message of the gospel to people who desperately need it.

That's my week!
Yesterday we moved our new Sister Shumway - President Shumway's sister (and her companion, Sister ____) into their new apartment- with the help of 6 wonderful Elders!  It is one of our greatest blessings to have "Aunt Joey" right here with us- 

I've had missionary medical work to do-  President Shumway has been traveling for the last three days training the "trainers" and the "new missionaries".  He'll come home weary tonight.

We are so proud of Abby, who was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society- because of her excellent grades and her level of scholarship.  She's taking a high school math class and doing very well!

Abby accepting her award!

We're sad for Taylor this week-  he had bone scans last week of his legs.  He has stress fractures in both tibia's - it's a result of the incredibly difficult football workouts they put the players through at his high school.  We are waiting for the Dr. to give us the final word, but he told us to expect that Taylor would not be able to run, jump, or workout his legs at all for the next 3 to 4 months, so that means basically no football.  Taylor is pretty disappointed- He'll miss the BYU football camp he is enrolled in this summer.

The gospel is true!  And my heart is grateful for all I am seeing and learning.  I am grateful for an opportunity to work with 211 incredible young men and women who desire to have an impact in the "hastening" of the Lord's work.  I am grateful for 22 more missionaries- Seniors- who leave comforts and family to do the glorious work of the Lord.  I know they sacrifice, but I see the blessings-  they would tell you it is all worth it.

We love you all- and miss you so much!
Mom and Dad

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dear Wonderful Friends and Family!

Wednesday 1-30-13
Today seemed like a normal day in the OTM, if there is one.  President Shumway is traveling, talking with missionaries and Stake Presidents, and I have been at home for a couple days, catching up with missionary medical work and trying to prepare for Zone Leader Council next week.
I had to go into a store and buy an item for missionary training.  The man in the store that was helping me asked me what it was for.  I told him that I was a missionary and that we were training missionaries, and started in on my introduction of the Church.  He said, "I know who you are,"  and then told me that as a child in Cleveland he had watched television every Saturday morning, and every time he did there were Mormon Messages, Mormon Ads, or whatever they were called then and he loved them.  I told him that's who we were and asked if I could send the missionaries to give him more information.  He said he would like that very much! 

President Shumway called me late tonight.  He was going to try to make it home, but had left his scriptures in a church and had to wait for someone to bring them to him.  He was waiting at a gas station and the worker there kept it open for him, even though it was closing time, because it was so cold outside.  They had a good visit and the man wants to know more about the gospel.  President Shumway knows it was no accident he left his scriptures.

I had two missionaries call me today.   One Elder told me the birthday wish I gave him this morning had just come true.  My wish for their birthdays is that they will find a new investigator.  They had decided they couldn't ask the Lord for a new investigator if they hadn't paid attention to the potential investigators they already had.  They went to visit one of those- a man.  He had moved.  There was someone else living in the apartment.  As the Elders turned to leave they felt prompted to ask the new man if he was interested in hearing the gospel- and he was- and his girlfriend too!

Another missionary called me-  he knows I love to hear about new investigators.  They were following up with a media referral and found two new people to teach.  As they were leaving that house, a lady pulled up in a car beside them and told them she had been looking for the missionaries and would they please teach her!

Incredible stories!  We just have to be in the right place when the Lord wants us there- follow the promptings and the Lord delivers people who are prepared.  I love being a missionary!!!

Thursday 1-31-13 
This was such a great missionary day for me.  I spent most of the day in Skiatook, OK with our Sister Missionaries there.  This area has previously been Elders and the Sisters have only been there about 1 week.  They are doing great!  I participated in their companion study,  went out into the community to talk to people about possible service they could render- we went to the Municipal Building and found a thrift store (they donate their proceeds to the homeless) that needed volunteers.  We ate lunch together and spent part of the afternoon tracting- one Sister's first experience with that!  We didn't have much luck with that, but a few hours later after I'd returned home, they called me to tell me they had gone out tracting again and had 3 new people to teach!
I truly enjoy my time spent with the Sisters-  they are remarkable young women with such strength- a blessing to the mission.

Sunday 2-3-13
We learned that a Sister missionary was hit and killed while riding her bike in the Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission.  Everyone in our mission has been so saddened by this news and disturbed by it as well.  This Sister and her companion were keeping all the rules- riding single file, they had reflectors on and helmets on.  Oklahoma is a hard place to ride a bike.  There are no shoulders on most of the roads and sidewalks don't exist here.  So when you are on a bike, the traffic is within inches.  We are praying for her family and for all the missionaries in her mission and also for her Mission President and his wife.   We worry so much about our missionaries in the OTM, something like this would just break our hearts.  We know they must be struggling.  We're grateful the Lord is in charge, and we trust His plan and that has to be a comfort to all of us.

Monday and Tuesday 2-4-13 to 2-5-13  ZONE LEADER COUNCIL
I look forward so much to this.  We decided to do something a little different this time.  President Shumway needed to have an interview with each set of Zone Leaders, so he asked them to come about 2 hours earlier than they normally would have.  President Shumway did about 2 hours of interviews and the rest of us made baby blankets for the Tulsa Emergency Infant Services. I think we all enjoyed it.
Then a nice dinner together.  A Stake President came to dinner and then talked to the Elders afterwards about member-missionary relationships.  President Shumway and I also spoke to them.
Tuesday was four hours of counseling and training, lunch and then they all went back to their areas.

Friday 2-8-13
Had a wonderful day!  Attended the Tulsa Zone Training Meeting in Bartlesville conducted by their Zone Leaders.  President Shumway was out in another part of the mission, and I have decided to attend as District and Zone training meetings whenever I can.  It helps me get to know the missionaries better, and I can really see if our training is getting "to the end of the row".  I love watching the missionaries train each other.  They are really incredible- very knowledgeable and in tune.  I was so inspired this day to watch two of the Zone leaders train.  They are leaders and the missionaries love, trust and respect them.

Saturday 2-9-13
President Shumway felt early on in our mission that part of our missionary work would be to help build the kingdom here by helping to prepare the youth here to serve missions.  To that end, we put together a fireside that includes Abby's testimony, Taylor on the violin, a virtual tour of the mission home on a powerpoint, counseling from President Shumway and me, some short DVD clips, and some actual missionary role play.  We have love doing this all over the mission-  Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma- so far about  10 times.  We are really getting to know the fine youth and many adults in our mission.  When we travel out far to do this, we always take Abby and Taylor, and that has been an enjoyable family time together.  Taylor said recently that a 3 or 4 hour drive means nothing anymore!  We just go!

On this Saturday we didn't drive out to do a fireside.  The youth from Grove, OK came to us!  We love that so much better.  There is a special feeling in the Mission Home and we love to share it.  We let them tour the home, and tell special stories about things that have happened here,  then we proceed with the rest of the fireside.

April 2013!!!
Wow - what happened?!  I just keep going along and all of a sudden two months have passed.  Time almost has no meaning to me out here-  it's kind of crazy.

 Wednesday 4-3-13
Monday and Tuesday of this week was Zone Leader Council.  We had a very special experience.  The Zone Leaders come in about 3 pm so they can each have a turn, as a companionship, talking with President Shumway about their zone.  This time we also videotaped each of them talking about how they are working with the members in their areas, and how they have been able to increase their "member-present" lessons.  It will be used in a training we will participate in.  

We also had a service project for ZLC-  I chose several people in our own neighborhood-  two were widows who were needing some outside work done, a car battery jumped, flowers planted, etc...
They were so impressed with "the great young men".  I got thank you notes today- very sweet.
It was pretty cool to see 8 to 10 Elders in their "Helping Hands" shirts out there working in our neighborhood.

Tonight we had another "Missionary Youth Fireside" here.  This group traveled 2 plus hours to get here.  We could have taken the fireside to them, but their Bishop wanted them to have the experience of being in a mission home.  Great bunch of youth and very receptive! 

Thursday 4-4-13
I had the wonderful opportunity to go out with the Sister missionaries in Claremore OK today.  They are both beautiful young women who have outstanding testimonies, work hard and are teaching 20 lessons a week!    We taught a man- an investigator who is struggling with smoking, lives with a woman, and has multiple issues, but also a real desire to learn the gospel and make changes in his life.  The Sisters said they could hardly recognize him today, he had shaved off his beard and cut his hair,  he read from the scriptures with us, and he prayed at the end of the lesson-  progress!  We also had several "finding" opportunities, and gave out half a dozen pass-a-long cards.  Great day!

Wednesday 4-17-13
I'm just going to throw all these posts at you-  You may never even take time to read them all-  I'm trying so hard to get better organized.
We are getting missionaries by the planeload!  20 in Jan. and five weeks later 28!  That plane was so loaded that they were overweight and couldn't send all of our missionaries' luggage, so some of it came later that night.  We are not even able to house that many in the mission home, so we send the sisters to a wonderful couple around the block to sleep for the night- they actually live in another ward, but are willing to help us.

We had the biggest Zone Conferences ever in early March and worked hard on the basics.  We did four workshops in the morning with each one including some role playing which is critical for our missionaries.  We have half of our missionaries training right now!  The Lord truly is hastening is work and we're trying hard to keep up!

One of the best things that happened in the last couple weeks is that Sister Shumway finally arrived!  President Shumway's sister will be serving in our mission office for 18 months.  We are so thrilled, and Abby and Taylor are so grateful to have family here- their beloved aunt!  She is actually staying with us in the mission home until next week when she can move into her apartment.  We love it!!

This last week was pretty amazing-
We welcomed 18 new missionaries on March 10.  Four of them are "visa waiters".  They are actually assigned to a mission in Australia, but have to wait until their visas come through, so they will spend some weeks here.  They are great young missionaries so we're glad to have them and we'll train them just like our own.

Our new missionaries - plus our assistants- Elder Bott and Elder VanRoosendaal

Seven elders returned home.  One of our dear Senior missionaries (remember I can't use names) is leaving us too- we have become so attached to all of them it made me cry.  It was especially hard because we had to have them come a little early to the mission home.  We had a special lunch instead of a dinner, and then our "farewell" talk with them in the afternoon instead of the evening.  All the office staff came for the lunch.

We are going to miss them so much!

After our talk we very quickly packed, hugged them all goodbye and got on a plane to Phoenix Arizona for our semi-annual Mission Presidents Training.   We had an office couple come and be "Mom and Dad" for the evening until the returning missionaries left the next morning.  We were at the conference Fri, Sat and Sunday morning and returned home by Sunday evening.

The training was incredible.  I have a book full of notes-  I couldn't write fast enough.  Those who train us are the Lord's chosen servants- I have a testimony of that.  We learn so much!
Mission President's conference is also great because of the incredible ideas we hear from other mission presidents who share.  We are already using some of them!
I guess you heard the announcement at General Conference that there will be special Sister missionaries called to be "Sister Trainer Leaders".  It's amazing that President Shumway and I were already thinking along this line.  We already had a "Sister's specialized training meeting"  lined up for May 2nd and we were already going to try to work out an exchange schedule for the sisters, so this came just at the right time!

This week we are working hard and fast to get ready for a general authority who is coming on Sunday- he will not be staying with us.  He is going to have a meeting with all our missionaries!  We can't bring them all in, so we are just going to bring part in and broadcast to the rest.  Can't believe we can actually do that-  the world is wonderful!

I think that is more than enough!  Sorry I didn't send it in parts to you earlier.  Don't read it all if it's too daunting.  We are working so hard-  and loving our work.  The gospel is true and it's worth all our efforts to share it.   Every day the Lord puts someone in my path that shares their contact information with me and allows the missionaries to come.  The Lord is doing his part- we just have to do ours.
Hope you know how much we love all of you.

Love from the OTM
President and Sister Shumway