Thursday, January 16, 2014

A General Authority Visits!

This week  Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Quorum of the Seventy came to our mission to speak to us! He had some conferences to attend in D.C. but he had an extra day between meetings so he called President Pitt a few weeks ago and asked if he could meet with our mission!
On Friday Sister Wahlin and I got up at 4:00 am to drive to Charleston West Virginia by 9:00 for the meeting. Elder Nielsen is incredible! In October of last year he gave a talk in General Conference about "Hastening the Lord's Game Plan" (he is known as the "exclamation point speaker"). His enthusiasm in Conference is NOTHING compared to his actual energy! Elder Nielsen is the happiest, most enthusiastic and excited man I have ever seen! He is exactly like Dad! I almost couldn't focus because I kept thinking, "Oh my lanta, my Dad has been reincarnated as Elder Nielsen!" 

It was an incredible meeting. The entire mission was there (which happens very rarely because our mission is so big) and the room was charged with the excitement of giddy missionaries and a very enthusiastic general authority! Elder Nielsen spoke to us about covenants and ordinances and what the promised blessings specifically mean to us. He was very bold and reminded us that we have made covenants in preparation to serve a mission, and that we must honor those covenants! If something doesn't seem right, he counseled us to change it NOW. It was very powerful and inspiring. 

After the mission conference we had another meeting called MLC (Mission Leader Council). It is a meeting every month for the Zone Leaders and Sister Trainer Leaders in the mission. Elder Nielsen requested to speak to us in MLC, so we had a small, personal meeting with him. He counseled us as leaders in the mission and helped us understand that all progress in the mission starts with us! We were able to refocus our purpose and understand how to help this mission become a becoming mission - a mission that becomes better every day. It was a remarkable experience to shake Elder Nielsen's hand and talk with him for a few minutes. His faith in Jesus Christ, the fundamental principle of the gospel, is so clear and evident in his eyes. It was a spiritually charged day!

Sister Wahlin and I were up at 4:00 am and arrived home at 8:30 pm, exhausted but spiritually uplifted and strengthened. It is so exciting to be a missionary!
The Holy Ghost is one of our greatest tools in the mission field, without it we can do nothing! Last night Sister Wahlin and I had an appointment with one of our investigators. When we arrived at her house we found that all the lights were off and there was no answer to our knocks. As we were leaving her neighbor came around the side of his house and asked what we needed. We told him we had an appointment with his neighbor, and he explained that she had died on Friday due to a severe heart attack. We saw her last Tuesday. It is incredible to witness how fragile life is, yet with the gospel we are blessed to have an eternal understanding of mortality's purpose. Before she died she had been reading the Book of Mormon every day and keeping every commitment we left with her. We know that she is learning the gospel in a much more peaceful place now, and that she is prepared to receive it. 

Because our appointment... fell through?... Sister Wahlin and I immediately followed through with our backup plans, which also fell through, and about five minutes later we found ourselves plan-less and with an awkward 45 minutes left of the day. BUT, we work until the end because we know that miracles happen five minutes to 9:00. So we prayed. Immediately I felt where we needed to go, so we went! And we tracted! We love tracting! We knocked three doors and everyone was hilariously not interested (we receive some of the greatest excuses when we tract!). An elderly man opened the third door and simply said, "Move along girls! Go that way!" (jabbing his finger in the opposite direction). We laughed as wished him a good evening and then we decided, "No, we don't want to go that way, we want to go this way." So we went the opposite direction because Sister Wahlin saw a house with a porch light on and strongly felt that we needed to go there. An amazing girl answered the door with a huge smile on her face! She is in her early 20's and she is incredibly kind! She was babysitting at the home, but she gave us her information and asked us to contact her later in the week. As we left Sister Wahlin and I had a powerful feeling of contentment. She was the reason we were led to that street, and we are so excited to begin teaching her!

This is the Lord's work! Therefore, He is invested in every aspect of it! And when we do His work His way, it moves forward in the hasty manner that the Lord intended it to. This work will not fail. We are here to succeed because this is the final dispensation preparatory to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is His work and it is filled with miracles as we listen to the still, small promptings of the Holy Ghost, our guide and third companion in this, the Lord's work. 

I love you!

Sister Shumway

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Amazing week!!! On Wednesday night Sister Herring, Sister Kitto and I picked up the two new Sisters at the mission office and gave them their first experience in the mission field! The five of us went to dinner at a member's home and left them with a great message, then we split up and went to different teaching appointments, tracted a little bit, and taught quite a few lessons. The new Sisters are incredible! They are prepared to be here and they are armed with testimonies and faith. We learned much from them and we are thankful they are here - they will bless the West Virginia Charleston Mission greatly! 

Thursday morning found us at the Charleston church building loading suit cases into a truck and loading ourselves into the transfer vans. Off to Virginia we went! The drive was long but there is never a dull moment with 14 missionaries packed into a “Shum-bus” transfer van (I felt like I was with the family on a road trip to Utah!). We arrived in Roanoke Virginia late Thursday evening, and my wonderful companion, Sister Wahlin (Wa-leen), was there to greet me! She is amazing! I'm pretty sure we never stop laughing - missionary work is FUN!

We put ourselves to work right away in Roanoke! This area is remarkable - I have never met so many nice people in my life! Everyone is willing to talk with us, and many are eager to learn more! In the few days that I have been here we have witnessed countless miracles. The Spirit has been a more powerful part of our work this week than it ever has been before. The Lord loves us so much and He makes it clear every day! 

Last Monday 12 year old K____ was baptized. Her Mom is a less active member of the Church, (she can't attend church because of health complications), but she has a powerful testimony. K____ started meeting with the missionaries three weeks ago and immediately wanted to be baptized! She has an amazing testimony of the gospel and she is a solid young woman! She has been sharing the gospel with her friend, S____ who is also 12. S____ has come to church twice  and she often sits in on the lessons. On Friday we began teaching K____ the new member lessons, and S_____ was there. We asked S_____ why she liked coming to church, and she responded, "I feel happier the rest of the week when I come to church. It feels good there." We asked her if she would like to take the lessons and be baptized, and her enthusiastic "YES!" nearly blew us through the roof! What an amazing girl!

However, because S____ is not 18 yet we need parental permission to teach her. Yesterday we kept thinking of her and we wanted to get parental permission ASAP. We didn't know exactly where she lives, but we knew the general area. So we began tracting. And we tracted. And we found some great people to teach! And we tracted. And we found some more great people who were interested! And we tracted. Finally, as we reached the end of a street, we decided to knock on the last two doors and then head to some appointments. Behind the second to last door a man told us that he was not interested. At the last door a very kind man said the same thing. As we were walking back up the road, we suddenly heard our names being tossed into the rainy wind. We turned and saw S____ and her Mom waving their hands and bobbing their heads out the door - it was the second to last door! We hurried back and they let us into their cozy home. S____'s Dad answered the door and had not recognized us as "S_____'s missionaries." Her Mom immediately told us that she would love for us to teach her daughter, and that she would be thrilled if S____ was baptized! She said "If S_____ wants to become a Mormon then I trust that it will be good for her and I will support her." Amazing! S_____'s Mom said she did not want to be a Mormon, but she would like to sit in on a few of the lessons to learn more about S____'s beliefs. We were beyond excited!

They are an amazing family, and I know that the gospel will bless them! S____ and K_____ are ideal examples of those who are prepared to receive the gospel. In Alma 16:16 it says that "The Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, ore to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them." That is still happening. The Lord prepares His children and then He gives us the easy job: to find them! And He is even willing to lead us to them. Keep your hearts and your minds open and I know He will lead you to those who are prepared to receive you and His gospel. We witness it every day and I know that it is true!

I love you!

Sister Shumway 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas 2013

Dear Family,
Christmas as a missionary is INCREDIBLE! This week has been marvelous!
Two days after Christmas President Pitt called us and asked us to pack up all of our things and come to Charleston the next day! Whew! We had 24 hours to pack everything, take care of all of our appointments, area book, apartment needs, area needs and information for the new set of Sisters who will be coming in next week. President said that the Lord needed us in different areas, and that we would double out and next week new Sisters would double in! Exciting! Sister Williams and I were very sad to leave Fairmont, that area has been marvelous! We are so thankful for the rich experiences we had there and we are grateful for the incredible people. We witness many miracles and blessings in Fairmont as we diligently participated in the hastening of the Lord's work in that specific area. The new Sisters are so lucky! They will love it!

Sister Williams and I drove to Charleston the next morning and had lunch with President and Sister Pitt and the Charleston Sisters, Sister Herring and Sister Kitto (who are amazing!). Sister Williams was transferred somewhere else and I will be staying in Charleston with the South Hills Sisters for a week. At Transfers on Thursday I will be transferred to Roanoke Virginia where I will be serving with Sister Wahlin as an STL (Sister Training Leader). Saying goodbye to Sister Williams was SO DIFFICULT! We cried like little babies, but that is one of the greatest aspects of a mission! You build beautiful relationships with people (companions, investigators, members, ect.) and when you leave you finally understand how much you truly care about them. Sister Williams has had a profound impact on my life and she has taught me so much, but I know that she will continue to serve and bless those who she is serving! 

Sister Herring and Sister Kitto are hilarious - the three of us are out of control! It has been great fun to serve with them in Charleston! We have encountered great success every moment of every day!  On Saturday we knocked on a shabby looking door near our house. In immediate response to our knock, the curtains on the window were swished apart by a pair of tiny hands, and two small faces curiously peeked out at us. A few moments later a woman opened the door. She expressed that it was not a good time, but agreed to let us come back. 

The next day we knocked on her door again. This time she opened it up and told us that her family was very sick and unable to meet with us at that time. However, she expressed her sincere and almost desperate desire to meet with us. Years ago she had met with missionaries briefly, but today she had been praying for God to show that He still cares about her family. She plead with us to come back at a later time when the sickness had left their home. We prayed with her and promised we would return. Although I will not be here when the Sisters return, I am thankful for the evidence that the Lord DOES care about each person individually. Heavenly Father does answer prayers, and it is a blessing to experience and witness the truth of that.

 Thank you for all your love and support! I love you!

Sister Shumway
I had a surprise visit on my birthday! It was truly a birthday I will NEVER forget!