Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Dear Momma and Daddy,

Did you watch the "Hastening the Work" devotional yesterday?? It was incredible! If you were unable to watch it, WATCH IT! It is amazing, every member and every missionary needs to see it! We are so blessed to have a Prophet of God and His Apostles on the earth today! Isn't that an amazing reality?? I love telling people about our Prophet!

This week we had Specialized Training with our Zone in Huntington, West Virginia. President and Sister Pitt and the Assistants came and taught us for 7 hours about how we can improve our planning and teaching. Our mission is recomitted to creating a vision, goal, and plan for our individual areas and for each investigator we have. 

We had a little "oopsie" with our car. Sister Ostler was driving. We were turning left from the highway onto a very steep holler called Mullins Hill. We did not realize how steep the road was, and when Sister Ostler punched the gas to cross the oncoming traffic, we literally slammed into the steep road! It felt like we hit a wall! We were only going about 10 mph, but we were thrown forward (thank goodness for seat belts!) and our stomaches felt like they fell out of our toes! It hurt so bad! We had horrible stomach aches for the next 24 hours!

 It was a hilarious experience until we had to take it to the dealership and call the mission office. We weren't laughing by then. The front, bottom of the bumper is very scratched up, and one of the bracketts that holds the radiator in place was very bent. It came to a total of $1,700 in damage.... oops... It was an expensive memory!  We are supposed to be going back this Wednesday to follow up with the less active who lives at the end of that holler, we will take the turn at an angle this time.

Our mission has set a new goal to teach 17 lessons every week. It is very difficult for us to do that in Pikeville! So we have received instruction to teach the members if we can't get enough lessons with our investigators. Sister Ostler and I made a sign up sheet called "FHE with the Sisters." Now every Monday night we go to a members home and teach them one of the lessons for Family Night. It is great because they feel like they don't have to plan a Family Night lesson, we have the opportunity to get to know the members much better, and eventually the members will invite their friends to join them for Family Night, where the missionaries just happen to be teaching about the Restoration. We are excited, and the families love it! 

We are focusing on continually discovering new ways to find people. Our Branch is so small here that every member has been asked for referrrals by the missionaries, and they have no more left! They feel like they have already given all the names they can think of to the missionaries. We don't want to seem like a nusance to the members, so we are finding new ways to find investigators through them! It has been lots of fun so far!

On Friday Our District Leader, Elder Turner, and his companion Elder Stout came to our area to do a blitz with us. They are both fantastic missionaries! We tackled a few neighborhoods and followed up with some referrals. We also did some ITLing (invite to learn) in the park, I love that! I love just going up to people and talking to them,. The park is the perfect place to do that. We were able to get 5 new investigators and 6 potentials in just a couple hours! The Elders' favorite ITL approach is to walk up to someone and ask, "Can I give you a picture of Jesus?" Who is going to say no to that?! People can always say no if you ask to give them a card ( or other pass along cards) but nobody can say they don't have time for a picture of Jesus! Everyone here is Baptist, so everyone loves Jesus Christ; it is a good way to begin a conversation with someone.

I am trying so hard every day to become the absolute best missionary I can become! I have learned that in order to become the best person and missionary I can become, I must serve the peoplel around me.  It is not easy, but I definitely know that the Lord is teaching me humility and patience! I love being a servant of the Lord, and although I am not perfect in any way, I know that He is trusting me and strengthening me so that I can do His will and feel His influence as I obey with exactness and press forward in faith.

Sister Ostler and I have faith that miracles will happen in this little tiny town of Pikeville, we just have to have the faith and diligence and obedience to bring them. It is such an exciting adventure, I love every minute of missionary work. It has only been a month and I feel like the time is going by way too fast! It is such a blessing to feel the Lord's influence and love in everything we do. This gospel is amazing, it truly does bless families and lives, I love being a missionary!!!
Sister Shumway

Monday, June 17, 2013

Teaching in Hollers

Happy Father's Day Daddy! I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting on fatherhood - I have to watch out for these parental holidays!  (I spoke on Mother's Day in Ashland, and now Father's Day also! I think the Lord might be trying to tell me something.... Mom and Dad you are both AMAZING parents! I am so thankful for the righteous parents you are and for you love, support, and encouragement to serve valiantly! Thank you!

This week my companion and I counted the average number of times that we pray every day, and then we multiplied it by the average length of each prayer, and we discovered that we pray about 40 times a day, which totals to almost 3.5 hours of prayers each day! Whew! I love being a missionary! It is great to talk with Heavenly Father so many times a day.

Earlier this week we went to visit one of our investigators who is struggling. She wasn't home so we decided to tract her holler. About mid-holler we knocked on a door and a man came around from the back of the house (which is very common, nobody uses their front doors in the hollers). He was very willing to talk with us, and we made a return appointment to teach him the next day. When we returned the next day he was ready to learn! He had a pop in his hand and he was sitting on the porch, with a chair set up for each of us. We began getting to know him better. He told us about his family, his job and especially  what he believes. We began the lesson with a prayer and an introduction of the Holy Ghost and his role in testifying of truth. We taught the first lesson and it was wonderful! He was asking questions and the spirit was definitely there! As I was preparing to quote Joseph Smith's first vision, his wife came home (she walks up and down the holler every evening for her exercise). We were thrilled to meet her, and we invited her to sit with us. We were very surprised at how coldly she responded. She told us she was Christian, to which we responded, "That is great! We are Christian too!" But she looked at us sternly and said, "No you're not." Like most people she thought that the Book of Mormon replaced the Bible, and that we worship Joesph Smith. We testified and attempted to simply explain the truth, but she continued to shake her head and just say, "No." It was terrifying. The spirit had been so strong, and it was scary to feel it disappear so quickly. Not only was the spirit gone though, we could literally feel Satan's power gripping and clawing at the air. It was the scariest feeling I have ever had. We knew that it was a bad situation so Sister Ostler and I testified and commended this woman for her faith in Christ. It was difficult to praise her and to commend her when I was feeling so scared and heavy inside, but we did it with smiles on our faces and with confidence. Yikes.

However, she said that we could continue meeting with her husband. When she went into the house, and I continued the lesson by quoting Joseph Smith, the spirit came back, ten times stronger!! It was so important for him to feel that contrast. He was apologetic for his wife, and happy about meeting with us again. I see potential in him, and we pray every day that his wife's heart will be softened.

A mission is hard work!! It is difficult to feel the immediate hate that many people feel toward us when they see our name tags, but for every one of those who hate, I know that there are hundreds of softened hearts, waiting for our message! We just need to find them... that may be the hardest part of the whole conversion process - being found!

 I have grown very close to the term "Godly sorrow" as I have experienced what that may be like. When our investigators relapse into smoking again, or fail to keep their commitments, or we have to push a baptismal date back, I am filled with Godly sorrow!! However, the more that I feel this sorrow and grief, the greater my love becomes for these people and the greater our joy is when they pray, when they feel the Holy Ghost and recognize it, and when they keep simple commitments. It is a remarkable love to experience! It reminds me that there must be opposition in all things, for the greater sorrow there is greater love, and that love is worth every bit of disappointment!!

 I love the hard work, nothing has ever brought more joy to my life than serving people and spending each moment thinking about those people and thinking about my Savior. I love studying! We have 3 hours every day to study and train, and it is not nearly enough! I wish we had more, but we must devote the rest of our day to finding and teaching! A mission is SO GREAT! I love having a companion all the time; Sister Ostler is amazing! We laugh all the time, and we love the work!  We support each other in everything, and our companionship has grown and developed in unity and in every other aspect! It all feels absolutely perfect! I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be because every day feels so right.

The culture is absolutely HILARIOUS here! I love it! One of the funniest things that people do here is park in the middle of the road. I don't know why!! Instead of parking in a nearby parking lot, or on the side of the road, people love to park in the turning lanes or the yellow-line medians in the middle of the road! It is the weirdest thing! They just stop their cars, get out and walk away! So weird... It is also popular to stand in the middle of the road, where there is no median. Instead of holding signs on the side of the road, homeless people or people who are having a garage sale or fund raiser will stand on the yellow lines in the middle of the road, sometimes grouping close together like a little island of people. It is crazy. It is also very common for people to burn down their houses so that their insurance companies will buy them new stuff. There are fires all the time because people will take all their meaningful items out of their house, hide it somewhere (like in a storage unit or in a friend's house) and they will light their house on fire! Then they get a whole new house from the insurance company! 

I have come to learn that talking to anyone who lives here is like playing ping pong with two ping pong balls - it is crazy! The people here take their conversations all over the place! If we are talking to two people they each have their own conversation with each missionary, as well as having a conversation with each other, and also talking to a person who is walking by,...all while taking care of a child or a dog or a cat ...and smoking. It is insane! Their ability to focus on so many things at once is incredible.

We had a massive storm this week! Storms roll in without any warning here. The sky turned black within a matter of minutes, and rain just started hammering the ground. It is the coolest thing,... you can literally hear the wall of rain approaching, and then all of a sudden it just overtakes you! This storm was incredible, the thunder and lightening were vicious, and the wind felt like it was going to rip off someone's roof! I love storms here, we have one at least every week. We also have fireflies!  I missed seeing fireflies so much, and now we just have to look out our back door (into a forest) and we can see billions of bright fireflies. They are magnificent!

A mission is by far the most humbling thing I have ever done. I have never been so challenged in my life, but I have also never ever been so happy. Every day I am FILLED with gratitude for all the blessings in my life, especially being a missionary in Pikeville, Kentucky. I love it!  This week Sister Ostler and I could feel the Holy Ghost guiding us in everything we did. We were able to find and contact some former investigators who were eager to learn about the gospel. Our plans would not have enabled us to find those people, but because we prayed about our plans, and heeded the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we were able to contact these great people. It is amazing to witness the blessings that come from the Lord as we obey with exactness and strive to have the Holy Ghost with us at all times. I love it!! This gospel is incredible, I can feel myself growing every day as I study and learn from the Holy Ghost and from my companion. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!  
I was studying D&C 121 the other day, which talks about leadership. As a missionary this section has incredible meaning! My favorite verse says, "Many are called, but few are chosen." My goal as a missionary in this new flood of work is to not only be a missionary who is called to the work, but to work so that I can be a chosen missionary by the Lord. I know that it will require faith, constant improvement, diligence, exact obedience, and especially humility, but I know that the Lord will help me become the best missionary that I can become, and that with His support, I can invite and help others come unto Christ. 

  I love my Savior and I love how close I have grown to him these past few weeks. We are a blessed generation, and the Lord expects a LOT of us. We are doing our best to do His will and to assist in the hastening of this work; it truly a marvelous thing to witness. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!
Sister Shumway

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Made it to West Virginia!

 Missionary work is the BEST!! My last week in the MTC was amazing! Because my Companion and I were the STLs, we got to work with the Zone Leaders to train the two new Districts that came into the MTC! It was so fun to greet them and give them a tour of the MTC, and then to do a few hours of orientation with them. It was amazing to see how much my companion and I, and our Zone Leaders have grown in just a week! We have been able to learn so much, grow so richly in the gospel, and increase our faith in Jesus Christ so that we can now train these new missionaries to do the same. I loved the experience.

At our last TRC appointment we taught a couple, Lois and Gerald, who had never met with missionaries before. Before we began the lesson they hinted to us that they were real investigators. After getting to know this couple and learning about their family and their lives, we began addressing some questions and concerns that they had. This led us to the restoration and the Book of Mormon. As we told them about the first vision, and the two personages that Joseph saw, Lois kept muttering, "that makes sense." They were amazed to learn that we believe that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings, and they loved that principle! It was amazing to see how they had been prepared to hear our message and how it "made sense" to them as they recognized the message that is not new to them. I love missionary work!

The days prior to leaving the MTC, I could not contain my excitement for missionary work! I was so ready to leave the MTC and to get into the mission field! I know that I still have so much to learn, but I trust that as I have faith the Lord will stand by my side and help me in every moment. I am not nervous for any steps or for any upcoming trials, I know they will come and I am prepared to face them with the help of the Lord, I am so excited!

We had to get up at 1:45 am to get to our bus on time, which dropped us off in front of the Salt Lake Airport. We got our bags checked and then waited for our flight to take off. It was an amazing sight to be surrounded by literally hundreds of missionaries who were making their way through the airport to their respective gates as they all prepared to enter the mission field. There were 21 missionaries who flew to West Virginia, the 12 members of our District, and 11 others. We were a big group! We made a connection in Detroit, and as all 21 of us walked through the Detroit airport we could hear passing groups of people whispering, "Those are the Mormon Missionaries." I have never been so proud to be wearing my name tag! I love standing out as a representative of Jesus Christ!

When we arrived in Charleston I was blown away by the beauty of it! The Appalachian mountains roll on and on forever! They are carpeted in a thick, dense, lush layer of trees! The hills are very very steep, but not too high. There are so many mountains, and they are so close together, that the city has to literally cut off the top of a mountain to build any large building, like the airport! I will not see a sunset for the next 18 months because when you are in town, (all the towns are build between mountains) you can't see the sky unless you look straight up! It is amazingly beautiful here, I love how green it is! Everywhere!

Our plane landed, and all 21 of us mobbed President and Sister Pitt! They were there to greet us and help us get our luggage. The AP's greeted us at the airport as well and helped us commute to the mission home. That night the Pitt's housed ALL OF US except 3 of the Sisters, who stayed with the Charleston Sister missionaries. The remaining 18 of us stayed at the Pitt's and occupied every available bed or floor space. Meals were absolutely chaotic, but the Pitt's were so gracious. I have come to love them so much.

We arrived in Charleston on Tuesday afternoon, June 4th, and Wednesday was completely devoted to more in-field training with the APs. Thursday was transfer day; we were assigned an area and a trainer. I was assigned to the Pikeville, Kentucky area! My trainer is Sister Ostler, she just completed her training! She has been in the mission field for 12 weeks! President told me that as soon as I was done training, I would begin training as well! So in 11 weeks I will be a trainer; the bar has truly been raised! President likes to say, "Babies are training babies." It is true! The Lord really does trust us!

Sister Ostler is a wonderful trainer! We are very similar, and I love it! We study and work and teach the same! We work hard, and we are exactly obedient, we are diligent and prayerful in all that we do, and we make it fun! We laugh all the time. When we work and teach together we are bold and confident in our message.

Pikeville is a very small town of 6,000 people, and it is squashed among all the mountains! It is absolutely beautiful here, I love everything about it! Our Branch consists of 25-30 active members, many of whom leave town frequently. When members leave town, the missionaries are often asked last minute to teach their lessons or give their talks, so we are very involved and active with the branch! It is great. My first Sunday here we taught gospel doctrine, and next Sunday I am speaking in Sacrament meeting. Sister Ostler and I are always prepared to teach something!

This area is a very difficult area for the church, it is very weak here. Pikeville is considered the "Belt Buckle" of the Bible Belt, so people are very rooted in their family church or religion. It can be difficult in such a weak Branch where the gospel is not very strong because the doctrine can easily be altered without anyone realizing it! As missionaries we often to correct members of the Branch Presidency or other church leaders when they start preaching false doctrine from the pulpit! Fast Sundays are a little scary, but they keep us on our toes! It can be pretty funny at times.

 The people here are hilarious; literally everyone is a Hill-Billy! I love talking to people because I love sharing the gospel, but also because they are so entertaining to talk with! There is never a dull moment in Pikeville! There is a town in West Virginia called Buena Vista (a Spanish name). Say it out loud please, "Buena Vista".... That's not how you say it here! It is pronounced Byuna V-i-sta... I am pretty sure it is impossible to get more Southern than that! The people get offended if you pronounce it the "Spanish" way - I love it! I literally feel like I am in a foreign country: the climate is different (I love the humidity!!) the trees are different, the culture is VERY different, but I love it! 

This area is incredibly poverty stricken though, the people are very poor. Education is rare, and many people have not worked for years. Their attitude is very interesting though; they either don't realize that they are living in poverty, or they are perfectly content with it. Their living status doesn't exactly humble them like missionaries would like, they are simply content. We will ask questions like, "Do you ever wonder if there is a purpose to life?" Most of the time the response is, "... uhhh, no." Great. We will work with that. Yesterday we talked to a man who just said, "Y'all don't need to preach to me! I am goin' to heaven with flyin' colors!" It can be difficult to talk to people sometimes haha, but they are funny and they are very optimistic! I am falling in love with these people!

(First apartment and car!)

I drove through my first Holler yesterday!! It was quite an experience, I have honestly never seen anything quite like it! I thought I knew what a true Hill-Billy was... then I drove through a Holler... NOW I can honestly say I have seen a TRUE Hill-Billy! What a sight....

The church is not very strong here, but my testimony of faith has grown incredibly since I began working with the people in Pikeville! It is not too difficult to find new investigators, but it is extremely difficult to help people understand the importance of progressing and keeping commitments. We work so hard every single day, talk to everyone we see, obey with exactness, follow up, and exercise strong faith, but our investigators do not progress. It is challenging, but we have seen blessings as a result of our diligence!

Last week Sister Ostler felt prompted to take our spare apartment key out of our house and give it to a ward member to hold onto for us. On Saturday we locked our house key (with the car key) inside the house. Luckily we had the phone with us! So we were able to call the Smiths, who had our spare key, and ask them to drop it off. We had been on our way to the Library to do some research on, and we had a dinner appointment and a lesson that night. As we waited for the Smiths to stop by, we decided to tract a street near ours. At the first house we approached, an elderly man and woman were sitting on their porch smoking, staring at the mountain in front of them (that is what everyone does here). We talked with them for a long time about their family, and the elderly woman told us about some struggles she was having with her family. We testified of the importance of our message and the joy and peace that we know it could bring to her family. We gave her a card with our phone number and promised to stop by again. Two potential investigators.

By the time we finally got our key and were able to drive the car, we were an hour behind schedule. As we drove by the park on our way to the library, we saw one of our less active members sitting at a picnic table with a friend of hers. We quickly found a parking spot and made our way toward her. She was excited to see us, and she introduced us to her friend, Don. They invited us to sit with them, and she immediately began telling Don who we are and what we do. Then she said, "Don, do you want to learn more? They can teach you right now! Sisters, do you wanna teach Don right now?" I almost laughed because I was so excited!

For over an hour we read from the Book of Mormon and got to know Don. He was excited to learn about missionaries and what we do, and he was interested in our message. We committed him to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon, prayed with him, and set up a return appointment. The less active woman came to church the next day. If Sister Ostler and I had not been an hour behind schedule, we may not have been able to teach them. Another potential investigator.
After our dinner appointment, our lesson was canceled. We needed some anti-itch cream for Sister Ostler's garden of bug bites, so we ran to WalMart. As we were walking down the aisle, we saw a woman pushing a shopping cart, and pulling another. She had a car seat and a baby in one, and a toddler in the other. We stopped to talk with her, and she began telling us about her baby who died last year. He was only 3 months old. She was very open about her life and her trials. We talked about her family, her loss, and our message for nearly 45 minutes in WalMart. She is excited to meet with us again. Another potential investigator. But if our appointment had not been canceled, we would not have run into her. The Lord carefully watches our path and the paths of others. He strategically places us so that we will meet the people who are prepared to hear our message. I know that because we had faith and were diligent and obedient, the Lord helped us to exceed our goals for the day. He is in charge and He is aware of us!

Every day I receive a witness that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I love the people here so much. It is an amazing experience to knock on someone's door, or walk up to someone in the park or on a street corner, and feel a sincere love for them, even though we have never spoken before. Missionary work is amazing. I love the study time we have each day, and I love working hard every day to bring people, even Hill-Billies, closer to Jesus Christ. What a blessing to be a part of this generation of missionaries. This work is remarkable, and it will continue to go forth until it has penetrated every continent. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!

Sister Shumway

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Heading Out!

This week has been incredible!! I cannot even come close to describing how much I love the MTC!  I love the work, I learn something new every time I teach a lesson. It has been a cool experience to learn how to teach by the Spirit. I have a strong testimony that as we put our trust in the Lord and go into a lesson with a willingness and a commitment to teach by the Spirit, that the Lord literally puts thoughts in our minds and words in our mouths. The Spirit here at the MTC is unbelievable! I am still struck at the magnitude and the strength of the Spirit here, I love it.
I have only been here for two weeks, but I have changed more in these two weeks than I ever have before. I have come to know my Heavenly Father and my Savior more deeply than I ever have before, and all of our time here has been focused on bringing people unto Christ through the restored gospel. As we do that it is impossible to not become a better person yourself.

 I am amazed that in only two weeks I have come to understand patience, charity, humility, faith, and many other Christlike attributes. I do not fully understand how to master each of these attributes, and I am nowhere near doing so! But I know what the Savior expects of me and what He wants me to be, and I am striving to get there. I am so filled with gratitude for the trust that the Lord has in me to allow me to be the tool in His hand. I know that I am not here to change people or impact their lives, but I am here so that the Lord can change their lives through me. I am humbled by that reality.
I leave  for West Virginia! We leave the MTC at , and will fly to Detroit and then to Charleston. We will land in Charleston at  night. So exciting!

 I love being here, I love being a missionary, I love serving the Lord, I love studying, I love the gospel, and I love my Savior! I have come to understand that this mission is not an adventure,..... it is a lifestyle! And I LOVE IT!!! Being a missionary is the BEST. The gospel is amazing, and it is absolutely true. My excitement grows every day.

Sister Shumway