Monday, July 1, 2013

Up in the Hollars

I just realized this week that there are NO sidewalks here! There isn't enough room for sidewalks! Any and all flat land is used to build a house, and everything else is covered with trees - even the cliffs are carpeted in trees! It is amazing, my love for this area continues to grow every day: I love the fireflies and the GREEN everywhere, and the humidity, and the daily thunderstorms, and especially the people. This is such a funky culture, it is a wonderful place to live, and an amazing place to be serving the Lord and His people.

On Tuesday we did exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. Our exchange was on Tuesday afternoon and lasted until late Wednesday night. It was a fabulous experience! Sister Wines came into the mission field 6 weeks before I did, so we are both still being trained, but we had so much fun working in Pikeville! It was a very productive day and a half, I was able to learn so much from her! We taught a new investigator named Miss B on Wednesday. She had a hard time understanding the restoration.  Sister Wines and I went to teach her the restoration again. Miss B was great! She is a very outgoing person, she was willing to open up to us (as many people are.... sometimes I think people misunderstand that we are missionaries, not therapists, but it helps us teach in a way that can resolve their concerns). She was able to feel the Spirit and RECOGNIZE it. She was so excited! I loved watching her enthusiasm increase as her understanding of the restoration was clarified. She has been reading the Book of Mormon, and she was eager to go onto and to read the pamphlets we gave her. 

As Miss B was feeling the Holy Ghost testify of the truth of the restored gospel, Sister Wines extended the baptismal commitment to her. The Spirit was so strong as we waited for her to say yes! But then her concern became clear, she explained that she had already been baptized, and she didn't see a need to be baptized again. Immediately I felt the Spirit filling my mind with what I needed to say. I reminded Miss B about the Priesthood Authority that we had taught her about, and why it is vital to have that authority. She said she understood and we discussed it a little longer. We read from the Book of Mormon and from the Restoration pamphlet, and when the Spirit was strong again, I re-extended the baptismal invitation. Miss B' s response was "Absolutely!!" We were so excited! She offered a beautiful closing prayer, asking for confirmation of the truth of the things we had taught her as we knelt around her coffee table. It was an amazing lesson! We met with her again on Saturday to make sure she is staying strong; her excitement for her baptism is continuing to grow! It is an amazing thing to watch. Because she has felt the Holy Ghost testify of the truthfulness of the gospel, she is willing to do anything to be baptized. Literally everyone here smokes, so it was no surprise that she is a smoker, but she quit smoking on Saturday, the day we met with her! She has done great so far. We are so exited for her baptism on August 3rd.

We are teaching a boy  who has been meeting with the missionaries for 6 months. He is 11 years old, and he loves the gospel! We were teaching his whole family (his Mom,  Step-Dad and a random male roommate), but the other three have made it clear that they do not want to learn anymore. However, the Mom, is perfectly fine with the missionaries coming to their home to teach her son. She cooks in the kitchen while we teach him in the living room. 

They in live in a trailer deeeeeep in a holler. The trailer looks abandoned from the outside, and the holler road is hardly a road, it's more like a deer trail. This young man is so excited to learn about the gospel that every bumpy, scary drive up to their small trailer is incredibly worth while. He reads the Book of Mormon and prays every day, without fail. He has to hide his Book of Mormon from his Dad when he goes to stay with him on weekends, but he reads it and understands it. He is a fairly quiet kid and  he often sits on the floor in front of us, with his chin in his hands, looking up at us eagerly as we teach him about the restoration, the Plan of Salvation, the Doctrine of Christ, and the Commandments. He has already been taught everything, and he understands it all very well, but he can't get baptized because his Mom doesn't want to take him all the way to church (they live about 35 minutes from town). We are working with the Branch members to coordinate rides for him because he wants to come to church and he wants to be baptized so bad!! I love watching his sincere testimony of the gospel grow each time he feels the Spirit. He is an amazing kid, he knows what it means to choose the right and to be valiant in following the example of the Savior. His family is so blessed to have him. I know that he will be baptized someday! Even if he has to wait until he is 16 and has his license, although I pray that he will be able to do it much sooner than that.

I love being a missionary! It is hard work, but Mom, you are exactly right! Hard work results in the greatest happiness! It is such a tender mercy to have people stop us on the street, or in a WalMart aisle and tell us that it is refreshing to see people like us. Almost on a daily basis we will be stopped by people who tell us that we look different, that we look like good people. This tends to happen on the days that we work the hardest and strive the most to be obedient and happy. We have the light of Christ with us as we are valiant in our calling, not because of our own grand nature, but because we represent Jesus Christ, and as we live worthy of the privilege of that mantle, people are able to sense the Spirit that we carry with us. It requires effort on our part, lots of effort! We must always be obedient and diligent, but we love it. It is truly the most remarkable work, and the Lord is supporting us in every aspect! Missionary work is amazing, I love being a witness of the Savior and of the truth of this gospel! Thank you for your love and support, I love you!!


The happiest Sister Shumway there every was!

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