Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gospel Cravings!


Being a missionary is the greatest blessing! We have an investigator who has many great questions for us, which are all answered in the Book of Mormon, but this individual has a very hard heart. This results in our answers being rejected although the truth is clear. It is sad to witness someone who is longing for truth in the depths of their soul, but who has constructed a wall around their heart. The wall prevents the Holy Ghost from testifying of truth, which also prevents conversion.

This week we had a great lesson with our hard-hearted investigator. Sister Williams and I felt that we needed to teach the restoration again and focus on the foundational principles and importance of the restoration. A recent convert in our ward came to the lesson with us and shared powerful personal experiences. As we focused on Joseph Smith's experience in the sacred grove, the Spirit bore undeniable witness that Joseph Smith was indeed called of God as the prophet of the restoration. Suddenly something was different. Our investigator's countenance began to change, not dramatically, but subtly. Conversion is a gradual and lifelong process, but the beginning of it is the first step in eternity. 

As a missionary I have learned that as we live righteously and maintain good thoughts, the Spirit will speak to us continually through our thoughts. It is very difficult to discern which thoughts really are the Spirit and which ones may not be the Spirit. 

I have learned to go with every good thought I have

For example: A couple days ago as Sister Williams and I were coming home at the end of the day, we realized that our car needed gas. As we passed a huge gas station I had the thought to get gas there, so at the last possible second (we were practically passing the entrance) I exclaimed, "Let's go there!" Sister Williams slammed on the brakes and turned sharply into the gas station. Giggling because of our graceful entrance, we pulled up to a gas pump and acknowledged a sudden craving we both had for an Odwalla fruit juice. 

We debated whether or not we should purchase a juice. But when the car was filled, we scurried into the gas station. Sister Williams sped to the wall of drinks and I idled at the door, watching her. I hardly noticed the quiet woman at the cashier until she asked me about my name tag. (Missionaries LOVE questions like that!) I began explaining our purpose as missionaries with enthusiasm when she suddenly asked, "Can I come to your church?" GOLDEN!!!!!! 

 After a few moments of conversations Sister Williams and I frolicked to our car to grab an extra Book of Mormon. Upon returning to the counter in the gas station we began to teach her about the Book of Mormon and about latter day prophets. She loved the gospel truths that the Spirit testified of as we explained the simple gospel message of faith and hope. We are eager to continue teaching her.

Lesson Learned: I will never turn down a craving for an Odwalla juice. 

Life is beautiful and the gospel is true! I love y'all!

Sister Shumway


Monday, December 2, 2013

Never a Dull Moment


(Typical Front Yard Decor in West Virginia!)

This month has been great! We hit a deer driving down a holler (don't worry Mom, I wasn't driving), I was asked to cast out an evil spirit, we learned that one of our investigators is married to her cousin, we doubled in and opened a new area, we were offered a knife, and we have witnessed countless miracles and conversions! It's been a good one!


On Friday Elder Joseph Sitati of the Quorum of the Seventy came to our mission to address the missionaries in our mission conference. Elder Sitati is from Kenya and is a convert of 27 years. He is a remarkable man! In his address to us he focused on our missionary purpose which is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."  It was a powerful meeting where the Spirit clearly testified of the importance of deeply understanding our missionary purpose.

The work of the Lord is hastening, and greater understanding of our purpose as missionaries and as members is necessary for His great purposes to be fulfilled.

Our "Foursome" received a call from President Pitt on Thursday with some bittersweet news. He told us that on Saturday Sister S. Williams I would be opening an area in Fairmont, about an hour from Buckhannon. Sister A. Williams and Sister Snow would be staying in Buckhannon where the work is moving forward at a spectacular rate.

 This news was difficult for us to accept; we have loved our fiesta of a companionship!


Sister Williams and I found our apartment in Fairmont cozily surrounded by clusters of ward members who offered us a warm welcome to our new apartment. Our landlord and home owner are both members of our ward, and they have ensured that we are in a good place. Our belongings were soon in the apartment, accompanied by the laughter and warmth of those helping us. Sister Williams and I are so happy to be here! Sunday morning we were welcomed into the ward by the members with such enthusiasm and love that we felt at home immediately! We were even given a part in the Primary Sacrament program! We love the people here in Fairmont immensely already! We are excited to work diligently and to learn and grow in this area. Opening an area is a great experience.

President Brigham Young said, "There is neither man or woman in this Church who is not on a mission. That mission will last as long as they live, and it is to do good, to promote righteousness, to teach the principles of truth, and to prevail upon themselves and everybody around them to live those principles that they may obtain eternal life." Be a missionary this week! We need your examples and we need your help in hastening the work of Salvation. Remember who we are serving and what we are serving for; remember your purpose as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I love you!

Love,
Sister Shumway


Monday, October 28, 2013

FOUR is a FIESTA!!

Dear Family,
We received a wonderful surprise this week! We had a lunch appointment and lesson with a couple of our investigators on Tuesday, but during lunch our phone kept beeping. I reached down to silence it and saw that we had two missed calls from President Pitt and multiple text messages from President Pitt, Sister Pitt, and our District Leader. It is always a little bit nerve wracking when the Mission President calls you in the middle of a transfer. With racing hearts Sister Williams, Sister Snow and I finished lunch and the lesson and bolted to the car where we called President back. He was very relieved to finally talk with us and asked if he and Sister Pitt could meet us at our apartment in half an hour - they had a FOURTH companion for us! Whoah, that came out of nowhere! We bustled to a few places to resolve some former commitments and then scurried home to meet President. 

We were excited and surprised. When President and Sister Pitt arrived they had another Sister Williams with them! This Sister Williams was in the MTC with me, and it was wonderful to see her again! So we are now a 
quad-panionship!
It is a unique situation: Sister Williams, Sister Williams, Sister Snow and I are one companionship (meaning we work in one area and report one set of numbers, have one car and one phone) but it is so much fun! We rearranged our apartment again to accommodate our second Sister Williams, and we have spent every moment smiling and laughing since then! All four of us rarely teach together (although we have a few investigators who love being taught by all of us) and we frequently split into pairs to accomplish double the work. It has been incredible for the area! We are not sure how permanent this will be, but it sure is effective and fun! Three is a party,... but four is a fiesta! 

We had yet another incredible miracle this week! B______ expressed a very real concern to us as she explained that she felt as though she was abandoning her friends at the church she has been attending for a couple years. She loves coming to the LDS church and she knows that the Book of Mormon is true, but she has been facing social challenges from those in the other congregation she has attended in the past. This is a very difficult decision for a twelve-year-old to make, especially because her family does not support her decision to attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has permission to be baptized, but she literally does not have support from anyone in her family. However, being B________, she knew exactly what she needed to do: prayOn Tuesday she told that she needed to pray about which church she needs to attend (although she promised us that no matter what her decision was she would always read the Book of Mormon!), and she would tell us what her answer was on Thursday, our next appointment with her. We left with hearts full of faith that her prayer would be answered.
We taught B_______ in a member's home on Thursday evening and planned to watch the 20 minute Restoration video, hoping that she would feel a connection with Joseph Smith as she watched it. We asked her what answer she had received from Heavenly Father, and her response caused our jaws to drop to the floor. She responded, "I am going to the Mormon church!" With a brilliant smile, she proceeded to tell us how her answer had come. 

She had knelt in prayer, seeking an answer from her Heavenly Father concerning which church she needed to attend. That night when she fell asleep she had a simple yet profound dream. In her dream she saw two churches: the church she has attended previously, and the LDS church. Standing next to the first church was a dark figure, almost undecipherable, which encompassed the church in a dark, misty fog. Next to the LDS church was a radiating, white, equally undecipherable figure. The light figure seemed to be motioning toward the LDS church building. Brittany awoke excitedly, immediately recognizing her answer from Heavenly Father.
B_____ knows that the church is true, and she is prevailing above the swamps of opposition and discouragement from those around her. She comes to church and young womens' activities faithfully every week, and she has even started Personal Progress with enthusiasm. I am thankful for her example and for her valiant faith in Jesus Christ. Her baptism is this Saturday; she is ecstatic! 
B_____  illustrates the powerful principle that prayers ARE answered. "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened" (3 Nephi 14:7-8). The Lord clearly invites all of us to simply ask, and the promises are profound. I know that as we ask with a sincere heart and with faith, we will receive. I know that because it is a promise from the Lord, and the Lord always keeps His promises.  
I love you!
~Sister Shumway

PS.  It has been 2 weeks and B______ was baptized!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Miracles EVERY day!

Heavenly Father is a God of miracles - I cannot emphasize that enough!!

We had a fun experience this week! Our neighbor is a Seventh-day Adventist, and she wanted us to come with church with her (their sabbath is on Saturday). She then asked us if we would perform a special musical number for their congregation during the worship service. We were excited for the opportunity! Pat (our neighbor) is the pianist for her congregation so we went to her home a couple evenings this week and practiced the song we would sing. We had a wonderful time with her singing hymns from the LDS hymn book and from her Seventh-day Adventist hymn book. Music has the miraculous ability to bring the Spirit into any heart! On Saturday morning, the congregation warmly welcomed us. Our names were even on the program! We sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" while Pat accompanied us. Our song concluded with many hefty "amen!"s from the congregation. It was a great experience! I am ever more thankful for the Spirit that is found in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sound and true doctrine is a blessing!


We witnessed yet another incredible miracle this week. N_____ has been investigating the church for over a year. She LOVES the gospel and she knows that it is true. She has a powerful testimony and solid faith in her Savior. She lives with her boyfriend who is a less-active member of the church (that is how she was introduced to the church), and she has desired to be baptized for a long time. However, as she was taking the lessons from the missionaries she found out she was pregnant. She knows that being pregnant out of wedlock is a sin, and she understands that living with her boyfriend violates the law of chastity. Therefore, she felt very guilty continuing to come to church activities while she was pregnant and did not want to get married while she was pregnant. Throughout the entire pregnancy she has eagerly looked forward to the day when she will be able to get baptized! We have continued to visit her, and she has expressed that her goal is the temple. She cannot wait for the day that she will be sealed to her husband and children in the Lord's temple. When she had the baby in September, the first thing she said was, "I can get baptized now!" She planned to get married three weeks after the baby was born, and get baptized that same evening. It was an exciting day when they got the court papers for marriage! We are so excited for her! 

On Wednesday we went to see Nakell, but our visit was short. She told us that we would have to take her off date for baptism; she was not sure when she would be getting married. The court papers are only valid for 90 days, and she expressed to us that she didn't think they would be valid by the time she was ready to get married. We left with broken hearts, our heads hung in discouragement, disappointment, and dark confusion. The ride home was heavy and silent. All week we have prayed for Nakell and discussed the possible circumstances. We finally decided to simply give her some space for a few weeks and continue to love and support her. The Lord, however, is a God of miracles, and He had another plan.

In PEC Sunday morning, after giving our weekly missionary report, Bishop Linger grinned and casually said, "We are having a wedding tonight." Sister Williams, Sister Snow, Elder Wright, Elder Esplin and I all looked at each other with furrowed brows and tight lips, imagining the unthinkable. Bishop continued, "I am marrying N_____ and her boyfriend tonight at 6:00 right here in my office." Unreal joy and peace flooded into our hearts as we grasped desperately to withhold the squeals of exasperation and disbelief that were fighting our throats! Confused and overwhelmed with happiness I began crying like a baby! Bishop explained that N_____ did not want a big wedding: they only wanted their mothers to be there, so they had kept it quiet, but N___ WANTS to make covenants with her Heavenly Father through the ordinance of baptism. Heavenly Father works in the hearts of His children who allow Him to.

N____ is a beautiful example of someone who acts on what they know to be true and right. She knows that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. She knows that the power of God, His Priesthood authority, is the only authority by which we can be baptized and sealed to our families for eternity. She has powerful faith in Jesus Christ and she knows what He expects of her. She is taking the necessary steps, although they are not always easy, to do the Lord's will. She is amazing.

I know that this is the Lord's work and that this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ because the miracles that we witness each day are not the work of man. They are not the result of any person or thing on this earth. They are the power of God being manifest among the children of men in response to the faith of those who love and serve Him. "And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be" 
(1 Nephi13:37). We are each given the opportunity to bring forth Zion in these latter days.

 Exercise faith in the Lord and watch miracles happen!

I love you!
Sister Shumway   

3's a PARTY!

We were given our third companion this week! The Lord typically sends His servants forth two by two,... but three's a party! Missionary work is fun, but being in a tri-panionship as a missionary is Fabulous! Sister Snow is from St. George Utah, she is the oldest of 4 girls, and she has a powerful testimony of the gospel! She has been out for about three months, but she teaches like she has been on a mission forever! I am blessed to have the greatest companions in the world, Sister Williams and Sister Snow are a rich blessing in my life. We love laughing, studying, and working together to hasten the work of salvation in Buckhannon.

Wednesday evening (the night before we picked up Sister Snow), Sister Williams and I had to run to WalMart to get some sheets for the extra bed we set up in our apartment. As we were rushing through the aisles toward the check out, a young woman walking in the other direction, froze in her steps when she saw us. Her eyes grew wide and her hands were thrown up in the air as she exclaimed, "Mormon Sister Missionaries?!" We faltered in our steps, taken aback by this unusual, excicted greeting of a stranger, but we regained our composure and responded to her with smiles and nods. She introduced herself and told us that she had met with Sister Missionaries in a nearby town and wanted to be baptized. However, when she moved to Buckhannon a few months ago she completely lost contact with the church. She told us that since she moved to Bukchannon she has been searching for an LDS church building, and she has been looking for Sister Missionaries everywhere! She eagerly gave us her phone number and told us to call her. We gave her our phone number as well, and she thankfully accepted it. Her husband and her mother, whom she lives with, are against the church, but she loves the gospel and wants to learn more! Sister Williams and I floated out of WalMart in a dazed cloud, thinking,"what just happened?" I know that the Lord is preparing His children and then placing them immediately in our path. He guides His servants and by small and simple things, like getting sheets at (WalMart) great things come to pass.
Last week when we met a 12 year old girl named B_____. She had asked for a Book of Mormon, not knowing what it was, and said she wanted to read it.On Saturday one of our appointments fell through, and we felt that we needed to follow up B____ as a backup. We knocked on her door and her Dad answered. We were almost surprised when he warmly invited us in to see B_____ and to meet his two other daughters. B_____ was very excited to see us, and she reported that she had started reading the Book of Mormon! It was fairly confusing to her, but she loved the pictures in the front of the book. In fact, her four year old sister had torn some of the pictures out of the Book of Mormon, and B____ had treated the torn pages with care and taped them in the front of her Bible. Her favorite picture is the one of Christ appearing to the Nephites in America. We talked with B____ and her father for a while about God and about prayer, but her father had to go outside to watch his four year old daughter who was playing in the front yard. 

B_____ told us of some very special experiences she has had with the stories in the Bible. She loves the story of Christ atoning for our sins and dying for us because it always makes her cry as she understands the love her Savior has for her. We invited her to the baptism of one of the Elders' investigators that night, and she was eager to come! Her dad was fine with B_____ and her 11 year old sister going to the baptism, but he chose to stay home. At 5:30 Sister Williams, Sister Snow and I returned to their house to walk to the church with them. We talked about the Book of Mormon and about church as we walked, it was wonderful! 

We arrived at the baptism 45 minutes early so we did a church tour with the girls. They love the beautiful paintings that warm the hallways of the church building. In the chapel we explained what Sacrament Meeting is, and then we taught B____ about the restoration of the gospel and the Priesthood authority of God that is once again on the earth. She felt the Spirit very powerfully, and as we invited her to be baptized, her eyes filled with tears and she excitedly accepted! She is on date for November 2, and she tells every person she meets how excited she is for that day! During the baptism she was able to feel the Spirit as well, and she recognizes it! She understands that her Heavenly Father loves her and wants to bless her!
On Sunday one of the members gave Brittany a ride to church. She was very excited to be at church, and she could recognize the Spirit during the meetings! It was fast Sunday and she wanted to bear her testimony in Sacrament meeting, but she was too nervous, so she wrote it down on a piece of paper instead. She already has a beautiful testimony of the gospel and of her Savior! Brittany has a spiritual gift of recognizing and feeling truth. She is only 12 but she understands the feelings of the Holy Ghost! She has powerful faith and a desire to do what God wants her to do. She is reading the Book of Mormon, and although it is difficult to understand, she is trying as hard as she can, and she is aware of the gospel principles being taught! The Lord has prepared her to receive the gospel at this time, and He placed her directly in our path so that she could receive the blessings of making sacred covenants with the Lord.
Miracles are real, and our Heavenly Father is aware of our needs, our desires, and our efforts. "There is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness" (Alma 38:9). It is a joy to be in the service of the one who is the source of righteousness and truth!
I love you!
Love, Sister Shumway

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

General Conference

Dear Family,

Wasn't General Conference AMAZING?! I was blown away by the powerful theme of missionary work. It is beautifully clear that NOW is the time that the Lord is hastening His work. Every missionary in the WVCM was giddy with excitement and spiritual confidence as M. Russell Ballard committed each member of the church to bring just one person into their home and share the gospel with them. I know that as each member accepts this commitment from an apostle of the Lord, and as they listen to the counsel of the Prophet in joining with the full time missionaries of the church, that we will have a white Christmas. We literally cannot do it without the members! Find the one!
 
This week concludes another transfer, and it has been a GREAT one! Sister Williams and I are staying in Buckhannon, which we are very thankful for! We have done a lot of work here, but opening an area has allowed me to appreciate missionary work much more than I ever have! Although we work with all our might and diligence every day, it still feels like we have only scratched the surface! So we are thankful to be staying here. The Lord is bringing in reinforcements though! Sister Williams and I are getting a third companion! (Besides the Holy Ghost of course, who is always are third companion!) We are very excited to meet her tomorrow!


 
The trees are STUNNING! The rolling hills are densely carpeted with beautiful trees that are transforming from deep green to rich oranges and yellows. It is an amazing process to witness the trees slowly changing day by day. This process is like conversion; it does not happen overnight, but day by day. Eventually the individual drawing nearer to Christ shines with a transformed countenance, like the vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds of fall trees. Soon, as the leaves flutter from the branches to the ground, they carpet the earth in their beautiful rays of color, and those who are converted unto the gospel spread their light to all those around them. A mission is the most joyful process I have ever been a part of! "When I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me... yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me" (Alma 29:10). Serving a mission is the greatest! I love serving my Heavenly Father and His children, and by doing so "my joy is full" (3 Nephi 17:20). I know that as each member of the church "finds the one" by Christmas, that we will have a white Christmas, and we will be blessed with a fullness of joy as we witness of beautiful colors of conversion unto Jesus Christ.
 
I love you!

Love,
Sister Shumway

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Baptism!

 
We had a wonderful baptism this weekend! The E______ Family, was baptized on Saturday, September 28 ~ they are amazing! The baptismal service was fabulous, it is such a blessing to witness the joy and literal conversion that has taken place in this beautiful family. When they arrived at the church before the baptisms on Saturday, they seemed beautifully different. Their countenances were filled with joy and each of them couldn't stop smiling and laughing - they were practically radiating! They were so excited to be baptized! Since their baptism and confirmation we have seen great changes in each of them as individuals and as a family. The gospel truly does bless individuals and families as it showers us with joy and understanding of God's plan for us. 

Saturday morning, before heading to the church for the baptisms, Sister Williams and I drove deep into the mountains, weaving through orange and yellow trees on a dusty, gravel road to help some members of our ward with cane boiling on their farm. Cain boiling is a BIG DEAL. They grow sugarcane, which grows in tall, green stalks that look similar to bamboo. The stalks of cane are smashed in a home-made machine (made of various pieces of car engines), producing a thin, bright green juice which is strained three times through various strainers. 


The cane juice is then poured into a massive, rectangular pan that is plastered with clay on top of a brick oven, where the juice is boiled for hours until it turns into a thick, dark brown substance - this is molasses. They love cane boiling here! It is a deep family tradition for the family we were helping today, and is one of the greatest days of the year!

 All of the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles and all other extended family and friends are invited to work all day (it is literally a 24 hour process) and enjoy the rich tradition of cane boiling. It was fun to delve into the green cane juice and be part of the family as we helped them for a couple hours. 

They kept telling us that this was true exposure to a hill billy's life! Sister Williams and I loved it!
 


But the greatest work to be done is missionary work! The Lord is hastening His work, and He is preparing the hearts of His children to receive this gospel.   It is a blessing beyond expression to be a missionary at this time. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Now is the moment in the timetable of the Lord to carry the gospel farther than it has ever been carried before. … Many a person in this world is crying, knowingly and unknowingly, ‘Come over … and help us.’ He might be your neighbor. She might be your friend. He might be a relative. She might be someone you met only yesterday. But we have what they need. Let us take new courage from our studies and pray, as did Peter, ‘And now, Lord, … grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word’ (Acts 4:29).” 

God's children need the gospel! We show love for those we care about by sharing the gospel with them. Missionary work is filled with love, and is the most rewarding, enriching, and wonderful work, for it is the work of salvation!

I love you!
~ Sister Shumway

A Dream

 We had a marvelous discussion about the restoration of the gospel with the E_____ family. Each of them were greatly involved in the lesson, and the Spirit bore powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel as F____, S____, and L___ each committed to be baptized on September 28th. We know that they are ready and that they will especially be prepared to make the covenant of baptism on that date! It was an exciting, uplifting, and very spiritual evening in the Bishop's home, and I couldn't imagine a more spiritual or joyful evening. 

Then F_____, the Father, asked  "Would you believe me if I told you I had a dream?" He then proceeded to tell us that 5 years ago he had a distinct dream about us and about each member of his family in the room. In his dream he specifically remembered Sister Williams and me teaching his family. The Spirit was powerful as he  told us about this dream. He felt the lesson we had that night was the fulfillment of that dream, and that Sister Williams and I were the exact missionaries he had seen in his dream 5 years ago.
I know that the Lord guides His servants. We are like blind little lambs who have no idea where to go or what to do, but our loving shepherd warmly comforts us, "fear not, little flock... for lo, I am with you" (D&C 6:34 and D&C 33:9). We are led by a far greater power and by a loving Father who knows and understands much more that we do. I know that as we follow Him and desire to do His will, that we will witness miracles. He does not require us to be perfect, but He requires us to be clean and to do our best, then "it is by grace... we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23). The work of salvation is amazing, but it requires sacrifice. When we prayerfully understand what is required of us to put on the altar, our sacrifices and our faith are honored by the Lord as we witness miracles. This gospel is amazing, and this life is full of miracles and blessings!  
I love you!!
Love,
Sister Shumway

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Miracles

Sister Williams and I are loving Buckhannon! We had a miracle this week that greatly uplifted both of us. Last Sunday we had a companionship fast to find five new investigators this week. We did all that we could and we worked hard to talk with every person who was within earshot of us. By Wednesday we had found three new investigators and we were teaching them with the other investigators in our growing teaching pool. 

By Thursday, however, I began to worry. We had been full of faith and hope all week, we had been diligently working and studying and finding and teaching, but we still had only found three new investigators. I began to grow anxious because we had meetings scheduled for most of Friday, and many appointments scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Appointments are great and we are excited to be teaching, but I also knew that we had set a goal to find five new investigators, not three, and I know that any goal set in faith and diligently sought for will not fail. So I was anxious. 

As we walked to one of our Thursday evening appointments, I expressed my concern to Sister Williams who had been feeling the same anxious pressure. We momentarily pushed our worries aside as we arrived at our appointment, so we could do our best to teach by the Spirit. We were teaching a woman named D____ whom we met last week. On Thursday we taught the restoration, and she received it very well. She had few questions and she understood everything very well. It was a crazy lesson because her two-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter were running between us, holding vacuum tubes to their mouths like trumpets and yelling into them with all the might of their little lungs - not the idea spiritual atmosphere. Regardless of her pleas for silence, the children continued to run rampant, so in faith we proceeded to teach the lesson, praying that the Spirit would find its way into her heart. I was amazed that regardless of the distraction and noise, D____'s eyes remained intently focused on ours. The room was filled with chaos, yet we could clearly sense her understanding and sincere interest. It was amazing to witness. I know that the Spirit will touch any heart that is open and trying to understand and seek for truth, regardless of the irreverent atmosphere encompassing them. 
 
Near the end of our lesson, as we were telling her about the Book of Mormon, her teenage son came home (he is a senior in high school). He walked in the front door, casually clutching a basketball in the crook of his arm, and warmly greeted his mother. Then to our great surprise, he plopped the basketball on the floor, sat down on it, and turned his attention to us. Wow. We talked with him for a few minutes and got to know him, and then we proceeded to teach about the Book of Mormon. We were amazed as he attentively listened, completely focused on the Book of Mormon and our words, and we could see a sense of understanding in his eyes, just like his mom. We felt inspired to talk about eternal families, and as our lesson veered in that direction. D___'s mom,  who lives with them as well, quietly came into the room and eased onto the couch. As we explained the importance of families and the blessing of eternal families, her eyes also shone and she nodded her head in excited agreement to the truth we shared with her. The light of understanding radiated from these three wonderful people, and the room was charged with the spirit. I am so thankful for the recognition of truth that each of us are blessed with as Children of God. We have each been given the light of Christ to seek after and recognize truth. It is a blessing to witness the light of Christ testifying of truth to someone within their own heart.
 
As Sister Williams and I were walking home that night, we realized that we had just found two more investigators. We had reached our goal of five that we had fasted for. Later that week we were able to find another new investigator, exceeding the goal we had set. I know that as we act in faith, and as we sustain that faith even after accomplishing our goals, that we do see miracles. We see the Lord's hand prominently in our work. I know that faith is power, and I know that the Lord honors His servants who act in faith and set goals. Wherefore didst I doubt?

 
 
Love,
Sister Shumway
 

Meet Sister Williams

Transfers were great, we had 32 incoming missionaries! 16 Sisters and 16 Elders - it was the biggest transfer in the history of the West Virginia Charleston mission!  My trainee is Sister Williams! She is from Monahans Texas! After the transfer meeting, Sister Williams and I were given a box of missionary supplies, a set of keys to a brand new 2013 Subaru Legacy, and told to go to work in Buckhannon! 
Sister Larkin and our trainees!

We loaded our luggage into our shnazzy new car and stood there for a moment. No GPS. No map. No apartment address. No idea where to go. We didn't even know where Buckhannon was! I knew that it was 1 1/2 hours North/East of Charleston.... and that was it. We laughed for a few minutes and then as the parking lot began to empty we said, "Ok seriously. Where are we going?!" It was one of the most comical moments I have experienced as a missionary!

Sister Williams and I visited all the way to Buckhannon. President told us that the Spirit had made it very clear to him that I needed her and that she needed me, so Sister Williams and I have set some great transfer goals and we are anticipating some wonderful miracles as we diligently work in faith!
 
We arrived late Thursday afternoon to discover that Buckhannon is an amazing place! It is a sweet little town, and it is very old. All the houses and buildings are classy and look antique - we love it here! When we arrived we did not waste any time. We dropped our suitcases in the apartment and walked outside. We introduced ourselves to a man sitting on his porch, and we soon discovered that he is a less active member of our ward! He knew more about the area and the ward members than we did! It was exciting to contact a less-active member of the ward right away.
 
Sunday was a remarkable day! We walked into the church building Sunday morning and were immediately enveloped in the arms of the ward. About 3 months ago the ward was told that a set of Sister missionaries would be arriving in August, and they have been anticipating our appearance since then. I have never felt so much excitement and love; we were embraced, squeezed and patted on the back by nearly every member of the congregation. Squeals of delight and exclamations of joy filled the chapel. The Bishop beamed at us from the pulpit as sacrament meeting began and proudly introduced us to the ward.
 
Sunday night President Pitt called us and told me that we had a marvelous baptism in Pikeville Saturday night. F_____ is the newest member of the Pikeville Branch! I was greatly saddened that I missed his baptism by only a couple days, but my joy and excitement for himfar outweigh my selfish sorrow! 
 

Love,
Sister Shumway
 

A Tearful Transfer

Dear Mom&Dad,

Thank you for the video of Bryce coming home! That was the greatest gift! I am so thankful for a big brother who has served such a valiant mission. I miss his weekly emails from the mission field; he is one of my greatest sources of encouragement! 

This week was not what I expected! Heavenly Father is definitely not predictable, but He is all knowing so I guess I trust Him. It is transfer week (transfers are on Thursday, August 29th), but Sister Larkin and I weren't scared! We were positive that we were both staying in Pikeville, and we had our reasons! Reason #1: we are only 6 weeks into Sister Larkin's training, and I still haven't finished my last 6 weeks of training. Reason #2: Elder and Sister Smith, the senior couple in our area, have finished their mission and are driving home to Utah today.  Reason #3: at the beginning of this transfer President Pitt told Sister Larkin and I that we were "the companionship that Pikeville has been waiting for." So why would we only be here for 6 weeks? That seems too short! Heavenly Father chose to differ...

The Saturday before transfers approached too quickly, but we were not afraid, we were not expecting a call from the zone Leaders! After a fantastic day of working hard, Sister Larkin and I came home at 9:00 for dinner, planning and bed, excitedly giggling about the amazing miracles we were blessed to witness, and the events / baptisms that would take place next transfer. Our phone rang. The zone Leaders. Before we even had time to push "answer" on the phone our eyes latched onto each other, quivering with premature tears. The zone leaders gave us the dreaded news that we would have to find a ride to transfers, and told us that President Pitt would be calling us soon. We went to bed heartbroken and anxious to discover the result of the transfer. 

After church the next day we got a call from President. With pounding hearts and restless hands we grappled with the phone in a scurry of sadness, excitement, and overall anticipation. President told us that we had a great assignment and calling from the Lord. Sister Larkin has been called to be trainer! She will be staying in Pikeville with her new missionary. President then asked to speak with me privately.  He told me that the Lord has called me to be a trainer again, but he said that I would have much more responsibility than just training. I am being transferred to an area called Buckhannon in West Virginia. My new companion and I will be opening the area, which means that there have not been missionaries there before. President said, "they have good missionaries in that zone, but they need great ones. They need enthusiasm and they need conversions." Whoah. No pressure!

 I never imagined how difficult it would be to leave an area. Missionaries seem to always come and go, but Pikeville has become my home! Nobody ever told me that one of the most difficult aspects of a mission is getting transferred! I have served with these people and they have served me tenfold. I have loved them, cried with them and for them. I have prayed with them and labored in prayer on their behalf. I have plead with my Heavenly Father to understand their needs so that I can be a tool in His hands, and as a result I have cultivated a love for each individual here in Pikeville that is impossible to describe!

 These people have changed my life, they have become my family. I am heartbroken to leave, but I know that there are amazing people in Buckhannon as well. My life and the Lord's work will continue to change as I love and serve with the people in Buckhannon, and I am so excited to become involved in their lives! I cannot wait to work with the Bishop and the Stake President and with each member of the ward! (They have a ward there, that'll be culture shock!). I know that there are elect individuals in Buckhannon who will bless my life and teach me much more about God's will for us than I could ever teach them. I am very excited for the adventure, progression, miracles, and blessings that this next transfer will bring.

F_____ is getting baptized this Saturday! He is ready and he is excited! It has been a great experience to plan and organize the baptism, and I am devastated that I will not be here for it. But I know that the covenants made will be between F______ and God. Therefore it does not matter if Sister Shumway is there or not.  I am humbled and thankful to be trusted and blessed by the Lord to play a minuscule part of his conversion.
 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gift of Tongues

Last week, on the 24th of July, we had a Branch Pioneer Day celebration. Nobody here knows that Pioneer day is an existing holiday, so thank goodness for a companion from Utah!  My companion and I are in charge of all Branch Socials (we try to have one every month) so we planned pioneer games and activities, organized a potluck meal, and prepared a fireside about Pioneer day. It was great! The Branch members were very supportive. We had almost 50 people there, which is more than we have at sacrament meeting regularly! 

We had butter churning contests, stick pull and tug of war, wheelbarrow and 3 legged races, and plenty of food! Sister Larkin and I explained what Pioneer day celebrates, and we shared part of President Monson's Pioneer Day message. I told the story of Charles Shumway; his spiritual pioneer journey as a convert to the church, and also his physical pioneer trek as he traveled with Brigham Young across the plains. Sister Larkin and I sang "Come, Come Ye Saints" for the Branch to conclude the fireside and emphasize pioneers in all aspects of life. It was a wonderful event and we love our Branch!

I came to the realization that we have witnessed the gift of tongues. Frequently, as we talk with people here in Pikeville, someone will speak to me, and I will understand exactly what they are saying and respond appropriately.... However, in the back of my mind I am aware of a little voice screaming, "What the heck was that?!?! I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU JUST SAID!" However, I have always been able to respond correctly. Haha, the gift of tongues absolutely applies to the Pikeville Kentucky missionaries! It is a blessing that I would be crippled without! (They definitely do not teach "Kentuck-ian" in the MTC.)

Sister Larkin and I are having so much fun together! We love the work, we love the area, and we love each other! We laugh all the time with our investigators, Branch members, and with each other. I often think of the story of President Hinckley when his secretary heard him laughing in his office, but she knew that he was the only one in there. When she asked him about it later, he said, "I told Heavenly Father a joke." Sister Larkin and I often have moments of quiet, remarkable reverence, but I think that Heavenly Father laughs with us in our more boisterous moments as well. We love it!

The work is hastening in Pikeville, our investigators are progressing wonderfully, and we have 4 people on date for baptism. We are blessed to be part of this marvelous responsibility! We are finding, teaching, and baptizing as we honor and obey with exactness the standards and responsibilities the Lord blesses us with. He is aware of all of our concerns and struggles as missionaries, and He is aware of the concerns and struggles of all of His children that we are here to serve. Therefore, he leads us to those we can help, and He directs us to know exactly how to resolve their concerns and assist them in their struggles as we share with them the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is a blessing to feel the Lord working through us to help His children. I love this work! I am feeling great changes in how the Holy Ghost influences my life, and I pray that I am becoming the missionary that the Lord wants me to be. Thank you for your love and your prayers and your faith! I love you!

Love,
Sister Shumway

Letter from a Member

Hello, Brother & Sister Shumway!
Your truly have THE neatest daughter in the entire world.  She is SO gifted in SO many ways (again, I am sure you are totally aware!)  Her gifts have blessed Pikeville and this little branch like you wouldn't believe.  This girl is truly packed with power!  She just has the most pleasing personality and the gift to draw everyone to her.  Her testimony is amazing. . .the work she is doing is hard. . .and she is so positive about it!  I am just praying that she doesn't leave this next transfer!!!  We have just come to love her SO MUCH. . .like she is our own!!!  (Can we just keep her?!!)  Truthfully, I hope my daughters are just like her someday. . .she is so wise (beyond her years) and so knowledgeable in the gospel. . .and despite her challenges with her back (bless her sweet heart), she pushes forward with a huge smile. . .you would never know the pain she was in!  Thank you for sharing your sweet girl with us here in Eastern Kentucky!  There are simply not words enough to describe how truly magnificent she is. . .I am continually in awe of how incredible she is!  And truth be told. . .I wish I had the knowledge and wisdom that she has. . .and her Christlike heart.  . I WANT to be just like her!  

Thank your for raising SUCH a valiant spirit!  I am in need of all of your secrets!   I want my kids to be as awesome as your children!! I just love you already!  Have a wonderful day!  I look forward to hearing from you!


Sister Capener

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rain Miracle!


This week we did a 24 hour exchange and I got to serve in ASHLAND, Kentucky which is 100 miles North of Pikeville.
 I was so excited to be in Ashland!

Sister Larkin and I witnessed a remarkable miracle this week! It rains a lot in Kentucky (every other day at least) and when it rains here, it RAINS. There is no messin' around with Kentucky rain! It never sprinkles; the raindrops are unrealistically massive, and the rain charges through the mountains in dense armies - it is a remarkable thing to witness! Our driveway usually starts flooding 5-10 minutes into every rain storm, I love it!

 Last week at the Pioneer Day branch social, a man arrived and began immediately making friends with all the branch members. He came to church the following Sunday and the branch members eagerly enveloped him. (One of the greatest challenges of missionary work here is getting our investigators to church, so when this complete stranger simply showed up at the branch social, and at church, Sister Larkin and I were ready to pass out with excitement!) 

We made an appointment to meet with him on Wednesday at the church with Jordan Tackett, a recent return missionary in our branch. Because we did not have another woman with us, the four of us made ourselves comfortable with some chairs right outside the church building. During our discussion, I suddenly noticed a few raindrops splattering the sidewalk around us. I started praying in my heart with all the faith and might I could muster! I knew that if it started raining we would have to halt our lesson  - we couldn't go inside the church so we would have to postpone our discussion.

 As I prayed, I realized that the rain was not Kentucky rain. The sky seemed to be misting, not even sprinkling, and although it was "raining" or "sprinkling," none of us were getting wet. It was amazing! It was still a bit terrifying because I knew that at any moment the sky could unleash its massive storage of water! I continued to pray to Heavenly Father because I knew that He could withhold the rain, and I told Him that!

 For 45 minutes this strange, misting vapor encompassed us, holding off the real storm. I said a prayer to close our lesson, and the moment that the four of us uttered "amen" it began to rain with torrential force. I know that it was NOT chance. Nothing in mortality or in eternity is chance because our Heavenly is perfectly aware of our needs, and He will address and resolve those needs according to His will and to our greatest benefit. 

The power of God will calm a raging sea, and I know that it withheld this rainstorm. The Lord wants all of His children to hear the gospel, and His missionaries are truly the tools in His hands. I am here to do the will of God and to bring His children closer to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. No matter what happens, no matter what circumstances I find myself in, no matter who I teach, I know that as I live, serve, and work with exact obedience and worthiness to teach by the power of God through the Holy Ghost, that He will provide. He will provide the setting, He will provide the words if I have studied, and He will lead me to His elect children as I put faith into action.

I stand as a witness that He does perform miracles every day, and that He is truly in the details of our lives. He is my Heavenly Father who loves me and each of His children. I am so thankful for this gospel and for the structure it provides. I am thankful for miracles and for the manifestation of God's nature in daily events. This gospel is amazing!

Love,
Sister Shumway

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Just for Fun

It rains ALL the time here! We LOVE our umbrellas.

Only at the  Walmart in Pikeville Kentucky!

A BIG, nasty  BEETLE!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Training!

This week was INCREDIBLE! On Thursday morning we drove to Charleston West Virginia for transfers. Sister Ostler and I were SO SAD to leave each other! We have had a fantastic transfer! We have worked hard together, and it has been an incredible experience! I am so thankful for her example as a trainer and as a missionary, I have learned so much from her! My favorite aspect of her teaching style is that she uses analogies and metaphores all the time! She thinks of incredible object lessons on the spot! I love it! 

Transfers brought  the largest set of new missionaries in the history of the West Virginia Charleston Mission! 31 new missionaries - 12 Sisters and 19 Elders! Amazing! The "greenies" crowded to the front of the chapel and introduced themselves and then were assigned to their trainers. My "greenie" is Sister Larkin! When we were assigned I ran to the front of the chapel (a reverent run) and grabbed her in a massive hug of squeeling excitement! She is from Layton Utah, and she is filled with energy! She is always smiling and laughing - I love it! We have the same constant, overwhelming energy and excitement for missionary work and for life; we are perfect for each other! 
When the meeting ended all the missionaries gathered in the hallways and shuffled out to the parking lot to load suitcases and melt in the blazing sun and humidity as we prepared for our journeys home. President pulled me aside in the missionary-filled hall, and gently whispered, "You have a great companion. The moment she walked into my office for our first interview I knew exactly who her trainer was going to be, it is very rare that revelation comes that powerfully. You both have great energy, and because of that I know that your companioship will do great things in Pikeville, and I promise that as you two channel your energy that you will see miracles and baptisms in Pikeville." 

WHOAH! That is a loaded promise! I was definitely excited to hear that from my mission President, and I am eagerly anticipating the coming transfer!
I was initially a little bit nervous to be a trainer at only 6 weeks  I know that if He trusts me to  train a brand new missionary, I can do it. I am learning  to understand that I should never be the teacher or the senior companion or even the trainer! The Holy Ghost should always fulfill those roles. I am a mouthpiece for the Lord, therefore I must allow Him to work through me by the power of the Holy Ghost. 

The Lord has promised us that as we trust in the Lord and open our mouths, not thinking beforehand what we will say, our mouths will be filled with words as the Holy Ghost works within our minds to guide and direct us. I have witnessed the fulfillment of this promise! On Friday, Sister Larkin's first full day as a missionary in the field (woot woot!)  we taught one of our investigators who has been struggling with baptism. He has been on date before, but he never comes to church. Each week he commits to come to church, but he is never there. He KNOWS the church is true, and he KNOWS that he needs be baptized in this life (he has numerous health problems and he is dying) but he will not act! 

 On Friday we focused on the atonement as we taught him. We explained that Christ suffered the pains and afflictions and sicknesses of each person on earth "in the flesh" (Alma 7:13). Christ was a mortal man when He suffered the pain of the atonement! Yes, He is the Savior of the world, He is "God the Son" as Elder Holland has said, but he had a mortal body! He suffered for your pain in the same mortal bodily structure as you! He understands your pain! Furthermore, He suffered such great pain for you because He has faith in you! If the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, has faith that you can do something, like come to church, then you can do it

As we were teaching, I told Heavenly Father that I wanted Him to really teach this lesson. I cleared my mind and literally felt the windows of heaven open up! I didn't know what I was going to say, or where the lesson was going to go, but the Spirit put exact words and phrases in my mind, and they seemed to spill from my mouth! It was amazing! The Spirit was prompting me to say exact things, and promise exact blessings. It was powerful! The blessings that the Lord promised him were so powerful, so specific, and I felt absolutely certain that they would be fulfilled as he lived worthy of receiving them. The gospel is true! I have never felt anything so powerfully!

Sister Larkin is so ready to teach and learn and work and do! We laugh all the time and enjoy every moment together! I love it; we are alike in almost every way, and we have come to love each other so much already! President Pitt's promised blessing is already being fulfilled. The day of transfers none of our investigators were on date for baptism. Within two days after transfers, we had 4 baptismal dates! We have been finding, teaching, inviting, and committing relentlessly and we have seen blessings, miracles, and tender mercies almost every moment! I know that President is an inspired man, and I am so excited for this transfer and the blessings and miracles that we will witness. My faith is growing as I recognize more and more blessings - I love the gospel! And I love being a missionary!