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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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