Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hi dear loved ones!
So this week we've had two vehicles stuck in the mud,  a couple of aching backs,  a broken toestomach flu stitches in a split knee,  a terrible dog bite from a pit bull.......
Every week is an adventure in the OTM!
We've also had miracles!   New investigators found-  some just walk right up to us and ask about the church.   Sometimes our wonderful members here invite their friends to church or to their homes and those are the best stories of all-  because they end with baptisms and covenants.
So here are a few of the things we've been up to in the last couple weeks.
We love you all dearly-  our time is flying so fast!
President and Sister Shumway

Tuesday March 10, 2015
Our first day of zone conferences!  We started with the Tulsa, Tulsa East, Bartlesville and Fort Smith Zones.  All came together at the Tulsa East Stake Center.  It was a very powerful and emotional day for me.   I felt the Spirit all day long.   There were many missionaries in this group that are going home soon.  I love each one, and I was so touched as they shared their testimonies with the mission for the last time.
We started at 8:30 am with a group picture of over a hundred!  Our assistants were very well organized and everybody was ready for that quickly.   The day consisted of many trainings,  workshops,  3 beautiful special musical numbers,  a wonderful lunch, etc….     I present a health or safety training for each of our conferences.   I loved what we did this time!   I had some of the missionaries throw “super” balls against a target in the gym and some throw water balloons!   This was all to make the point of “bouncing back” -  having a positive attitude.   Water balloons just splat!   They let the obstacle (wall) get them down!  It was fun!   We also had a scripture bee- which we have had before and really enjoyed. 
These conferences are always full of lots of tears- love for each other, love for the Savior,  commitments to try harder, happiness at seeing each other.   Special days!

 JOURNAL  Wednesday 3-11-15
Wonderful Conference with the Bentonville Stake tonight!  We invited them to come to a special Stake/Zone Conference and more than 800 showed up!   
We had given the stake a list of the music we would like them to provide and it was really remarkable.  Beautiful music bearing witness of the Savior.
The theme was "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ!"   and there was such a powerful spirit there-  truly I think the Holy Ghost bore witness to all of us of the reality of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I felt it.
We are in a hotel tonight in Bentonville.  We'll have our 2nd Zone conference in Springdale tomorrow.  It's 12:30 at night-  off to bed.
THURSDAY 3-12-15
Another rewarding day spent with our missionaries.  Zone conference in  Springdale AR, with the Springdale, Joplin, Rogers, and Bentonville Zones.   My favorite special musical number-  Two Elders sang "Savior, Redeemer of my Soul".   I did a lousy job of accompanying them, but it didn't matter.  They were beautiful.  This song touches my heart.  The text was written years ago by Orson F. Whitney, and the music recently by Rob Gardner.  It expresses my testimony of the Savior so completely.   President Shumway loved it so much, he had them sing it again later on our agenda.
Workshops, talks, training, etc...-  another full day!
We finished there about 5:30pm and drove two hours to Springfield, MO to be ready to have our last day of Zone Conferences tomorrow.
I have felt the Lord's sustaining power in the last few days.  We are running hard and fast, yet we have the strength to do it.  The Spirit has been present in our meetings.  I am so grateful.
Friday 3-13-15
Zone Conference in Springfield MO.  -Springfield, Springfield South, Monett,  St. Robert and West Plains zones came.  This was our biggest conference.  About 95 missionaries.  The same outline as the previous conferences this week, the same wonderful kind of missionaries, the same beautiful Spirit.
After the conference we drove to Branson to go with our Zone Leaders there.  We visited and taught a man who is investigating the church.  He is loving it and loving the Elders.

Saturday 3-14-15
A fun missionary day!  We attended a baptism in the morning-  one little girl and a wonderful woman.  Both were happy daughters of God.
In the afternoon President and I met the Sister Missionaries-  who work with the Young Single Adult Branch.  These two sisters are just the best!  We went to the institute building and participated in one of their lessons with an incredible young man who is being baptized soon and is making major changes in his life. He is so happy because he has the hope that the gospel brings.  We taught him about the Pathway Program that the Church offers through BYU Idaho. It allows people to get their degrees online at such a minimal cost- and I know he will do it!  It will change his life.
We met another wonderful young man they were teaching-  it was his second lesson.  We couldn't stay for the lesson because we had to get to the Springfield STake Center to prepare for another big Stake/Zone Conference.  This time about 300 attended and one of them was the young man the sisters had just been teaching!  He had just accepted an invitation to be baptized!  He came and sang in our missionary choir!  He just jumped right in!  There was such an amazing feeling at this conference-  I was so glad he had come.  

The Sisters with their dear friend- happy on this baptism day!

Sunday March 15, 2015
Oh what a week we’ve had!   Six days of conferences, of one kind or another!  We are finally home!  We missed our children this week, but they were well cared for.  Taylor is not even here!  He left yesterday morning for Utah to spend spring break with his brothers-  they will go to Southern Utah for some fun!
Abby got to travel yesterday morning to the Oklahoma City Temple with our youth here and she had a great experience.  So this begins her spring break and she’ll have to hang out with Mom and Dad.  We are going to include her in some missionary experiences and we may take a minute or two to do something fun with her!
This morning we attended and spoke at the Rogers AR Stake Conference.  Oh I love the people in Arkansas!  These are truly some of the most genuinely warm, loving people I’ve ever met!  We are going to miss them!  There was such a sweet spirit there-  beautiful music, inspiring testimonies and messages-  from recent converts and others.  President Chandler, the stake President spoke with power.  This was his first Stake Conference and he was prepared. 
Two hour drive to home-  we loved noticing that spring has come to our mission!  Some of the trees are in blossom!  And it was 72 degrees today! 

Drove to Henryetta, OK this morning to work with two Sisters there-   Both are outstanding missionaries – hard workers who know the gospel and have a desire to be great teachers and missionaries.   Several of their appointments fell through so we did a lot of door knocking with no success.  But we did give away three pass-a-long cards.  You never know what will become of those!  And, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant and talked our very nice waitress into sitting and watching a two minute video-  “Because of Him” (Easter video from last year).   She really enjoyed it, told us she was Nazarene, but took the Sister’s names and phone numbers, so we’ll see.
We did have an appointment with a less active man and his non-member wife.  They are moving along the gospel path.  They own a crazy cat!  That cat never stopped running around the room!  It clawed at my nylons, chewed on my shoes, and clawed at my skirt!   I guess it just liked me!
Abby spent the day hanging out at a friend’s home.
Tonight-  our assistants came for St. Patrick’s day corned beef and cabbage. 

This was a strange spring break for Abby but I hope she enjoyed it.  We took her with us to the District Meeting in Joplin-  it was great!   Had lunch with the missionaries there-  found a referral!!  Then on to Ozark, MO to go out with the missionaries there.  President went with the Elders and Abby and I spent the night visiting and teaching with the Sisters.   I was especially touched by one of our lessons-  a young less-active mom with five young children.  She is divorced.  Her story is complicated.  But those children!  They knew the gospel!  Their mother has told them the stories and the doctrines.  It brought me to tears.  As we taught the children responded with real testimonies.  The oldest child is Abinadi-  he is 13 years old.  He still has not been ordained to the Priesthood but he wants to be.  I watched this sweet Mom who works every day until 7pm (they had just walked through the door) and she responded to each child with kindness, love and patience.  Surely the Lord is blessing her.  This little family needs a grandma and grandpa in the ward to love them.   The Sisters will try to help that happen.
Joplin District-Abby was taking the picture- but she found a way to get in it!!

Lunch out with the Joplin District :)  Two beautiful Sister Missionaries!

Two of our great Elders!

What a happy day!  Nate, Jisoo and our darling Jenevi arrived late this afternoon.  We took some time to enjoy them!
We love getting to see our kids!

So much fun to see our kids!!

An Oklahoma Sunset-  they are spectacular!

Saturday March 21, 2015
Drove 2 and ½ hours to Monett MO to present another Stake/Zone Conference,  our theme again, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.   We took Nate and Jisoo with us and left Abby to tend Jenevi.  They baked cookies, ate pizza and had fun together. 
This was another wonderful meeting with the incredible Saints in Missouri!  We truly do love them!   Monett is a brand new stake-  organized just a couple of months ago.  This was the first real Stake meeting they have had.  It’s a fairly small stake and very spread out, like all of them in Missouri, but we had several hundred members show up and there were several investigators there so we were very happy.
A wonderful young recent convert bore her testimony-  she is only 17 and the only member of the church in her family.  They have taken her car keys, and taken away all her privileges because she is going to church with the Mormons.  She is determined to be respectful to her parents but also determined to come to church, so she willingly has given up her car keys, listens to her parent’s criticism and finds rides to church.  I wonder if I would have so much courage.  I am amazed by her!

Sunday March 22, 2015
Nate, Jisso, and Jenevi came to our New Haven ward this morning.  President Shumway spoke in Pryor, OK at their sacrament meeting.  Taylor spoke in our sacrament meeting and gave a wonderful talk!  I was so proud of him.  
I was happy to be able to teach another Temple Preparation lesson this morning.  My class has shrunk.  There are really only 3 families and two single men that come regularly.  That’s ok with me.  If I can help even get one of them to the temple, I will be thrilled. 
Tonight-  President spoke in a  Stake Priesthood meeting in Bartlesville, OK and I had 16 people for dinner!    I had invited two of our Elders to join us for dinner and told them they could bring an investigator and they brought 4 people!   A part-member couple-  wonderful people!   And two young people – one young man that is headed on a mission and his non-member girlfriend-  two exceptional young people.    Our senior office missionaries and assistants also came-  it was a wonderful dinner and our conversations centered around the blessings of the gospel.  The Elders taught a powerful lesson about the atonement.  I am so grateful for these experiences that we have here in the mission home.  I love the feeling that comes when this house is full of the Lord’s anointed servants.  It is a sacred place to me.  

Another week of blessings in the OTM!  I am grateful to have seen the atonement at work in so many lives, I am grateful for the fellowship we feel with the great saints here,  I am grateful for the Book of Mormon that so clearly teaches all the beautiful truths of the gospel, I am grateful to be a missionary in the OTM!

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