Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pink Barbie Car

Our experience last week with Kari (the white house and blue shutters) was marvelous so naturally we did it again! On Thursday we created a "know, feel, do" and lesson plan, these are our notes: 

Single mom with two young kids. She grew up in church but now she only attends sporadically; she is looking for a church. She never had a loving father, or much of a father growing up so she struggles with feeling that God is a loving Heavenly Father. She lives in the Camelot trailer park. We will identify her by the pink Barbie car in her front yard.

That afternoon Sister Herzog and I pulled into the Camelot trailer park and said a prayer of faith. We drove around the entire park and did not see a pink Barbie car. We prepared to park the car and walk around the trailer park to ITL for half an hour before moving on, but I felt a distinct pressure on my heart that this was not where we needed to be. I remembered that down the holler a little way there was another small trailer park. This trailer park was much smaller, it only has 5 or 6 single wide trailers in it. But we did not let ourselves doubt. We zipped around a curve and crested a small hill into the trailer park. As we coasted into the park, the first trailer merged into sight. Our hearts seemed to freeze in our chests as our eyes fixed on the pink Barbie car in the front yard of the first trailer. With giddy excitement Sister Herzog and I parked the car and bowed our heads, grinning in prayer. We lept from the vehicle and rushed to the door. Our enthusiastic knock was greeted by an elderly woman named Maryanne (which we did not expect!). Scurrying around Maryanne's ankles was a four year old girl. With faith filled hearts we began talking with Maryanne and connecting with her. Soon she explained that her daughter, Mary, actually lives in the trailer, and that she was only babysitting for the evening. Mary was out that evening with her other daughter.

Single Mom. Two young kids (4 and 7-year-old daughters). Pink Barbie car in the front yard.

Maryanne explained the situation to us and we learned that Mary did not grow up with a consistent father figure. Although Maryanne is married, their relationship is practically nonexistent because he is enveloped in drugs and alcohol. Mary is looking for a church for her small family, and Maryanne wants to attend wherever they choose to. We taught Maryanne about the Book of Mormon and how it blesses families and teaches of our Heavenly Father's love. We taught the very "know, feel, do" lesson plan that we had created and the Spirit was a powerful witness to Maryanne that these things are true.

We have an appointment to see them all again this week.

The Lord is merciful, He is fun, He is all knowing and He is sustaining. With eyes of faith and "with God, all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). I know that "If [we] canst believe, all things are possible to [the missionary] that believeth" (Mark 9:23). I have seen it time and time again, and I know that this is the work of Almighty God. I know that this is to change the world, and I know that God's purposes will be accomplished through manifestations of His will being done here on earth. His will is manifest by miracles. 

I love you and I love the Lord!

Sister Shumway   

A typical ward member in West Virginia.

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Know, Feel, Do"

Dear Family,

All week Fairmont was hammered with torrential thunder storms and thick, clotted clouds. However, Saturday morning greeted us with perfectly clear skies, brushed in baby blue and bordered with a marvelous sunrise. At 10:30 on Saturday morning, a handful of Saints gathered on the shaded bank of the Prickett's Fort river ("crick") to witness the baptism of Walker and Hayley Ice.

Two months ago Walker and Hayley's Dad, Conrad, was baptized and 6 days prior to their baptism, Conrad received the Aaronic Priesthood so that he could baptize his children. It was a beautiful ordinance.

The Spirit was wonderfully heavy in the crisp morning air at the river during the opening hymn and prayer and during the talks that were given. The Lord surely blessed us with a perfect day! When the time came for the ordinance to be performed our hearts melted as we watched Conrad lead his son Walker into the water. After helping Walker place his small hands in Conrad's large hands, he raised his arm to the square, beautifully said the baptismal prayer, and baptized his son. Hayley followed and again, Conrad baptized her by the Authority and commission of Jesus Christ. 

I cannot describe the Spirit that accompanied these marvelous ordinances. What an incredible experience it was to be surrounded by the Lord's beautiful creations and to witness a father, humble and faithful to his own covenants, help his children enter into some of the same covenants. This is a gospel of progression and it is a gospel that unites families. The Ice family is incredible! Walker and Hayley's baptisms were a very sacred experience for all who attended. I know that the Lord is overjoyed and pleased with the decisions this family is making!

Yesterday Sister Herzog and I created a "know, feel, do" lesson plan. As we prepare for the day, we pray to know who the Lord would have us teach. We prayed for inspiration, then wrote down our impressions.

  We invited Heavenly Father to help us create an accurate vision of this family. These are our notes: This family consists of a mom, dad, and two children, but the mom and dad are not married. The parents were raised in religion but do not currently attend a church because the changing doctrine is confusing. This family of four has struggled with feeling that God loves them. We will identify them by their house (which will be white with blue shutters) and because they will let us in right away.

This is the vision that Sister Herzog and I prepared for this family of four that we knew was out there somewhere! We planned to find this family between 4:00 and 5:00 yesterday evening in the Rayford neighborhood. After planning these things in detail we knelt on our study room floor and offered a prayer with all the faith we could possibly muster. We gave our lesson to the Lord and promised Him that we would do ALL in our power to find this family according to His will. We knew that He would sustain His faithful servants.

And we went to work.

At 4:00 Monday afternoon we pulled into the Rayford neighborhood. Our stomachs fluttered with butterflies of excitement as we bowed our heads in prayer before leaping from the car. We knocked only on the white houses with blue shutters. There were more than I expected! (I didn't realize how popular blue shutters are!). The first two doors were void of any response but as we crested a hill our eyes were drawn to an off-white house with blue shutters. Sister Herzog and I looked to each other and muttered, "this is it."

A man was mowing the front lawn but as he saw us approaching his house he waved for us to walk around the back. That was awkward. We walked along the side of the house and poked our heads around the corner into the backyard (feeling like creepers). A woman sitting on the back porch practically leaped from her chair when she saw us and with a smile on her face she exclaimed, "Why hello! Would you like to come in?" With a kind smile and gentle, tired looking eyes she opened the sliding glass door and ushered us into her home, which they recently moved into. She proudly introduced us to her son, Bently, who is three years old. Bently is a small child for his age, and he is constantly hooked up to an IV and many other tubes and medical devices I have never seen before. It was a very intense scene. Bently's nurse, Faith, warmly greeted us as well as she adjusted tubes and gave shots to little Bently. Bently's Mother, Kari, explained to us that Bently was born with a misdiagnosed heart disorder. Because of the misdiagnosis some severe damage has been done to his body. A smile still spread across her young face as she explained Bently's many medical needs. She is a strong woman!

Kari invited us to sit on her couch and we began getting to know her. We asked if the man mowing their yard was her husband and she replied, "Yes he is.... well, actually we are not married yet... but we are engaged!"


I almost couldn't believe it.

We asked if they had any other children in addition to Bently and Kari exclaimed, "Oh yes! We also have a daughter named Hailey but she is in Oregon visiting family right now." 

Double Whoah.

White house with blue shutters. Let us in right away. Not married. Two kids.

Kari told us about her life and about her struggles and about the many miracles she and her family have been blessed with. She was raised in a Baptist church but as she grew older she became confused with the changing doctrines of each Baptist church. She felt that all Baptist churches should agree on doctrines, but instead they were always disagreeing. She stopped attending church a few years ago and she has been searching for something since then. We asked Kari how she has been able to feel God's love in her life and she listed some marvelous blessings that have expressed His love for her, but she concluded by saying,
"That is actually something that I really struggle with."


Raised in religion but not currently attending. Confused by changing doctrine. Has difficulty feeling God's love.

We taught Kari about the gospel of Jesus Christ that has been Restored to the earth. When we showed her a picture of the Prophet Thomas S. Monson and the Twelve Apostles she said, "Wow, I just got goose bumps! I didn't know there was a prophet on the earth today!" As she looked at President Monson's face she reverently said, "Isn't it wonderful that you can see so much in a person just by looking at their picture?" Kari loves the Book of Mormon and everything that we taught her. Near the end of our visit Kari's husband, Bobby, came in from mowing the lawn and joined our discussion. Kari and Bobby are incredible. They have been prepared to receive the gospel and they are excited about it.

I love the Lord. I love faith. I love prayers and I love answers to them. I know that the Lord will go to eternal lengths to sustain His faithful servants in the prayers of faith that we express according to His will. This is so clearly the church of Jesus Christ, and it is filling the world in these last days, preparing the children of men for the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I love you!


Sister Shumway

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Service in Skirts!

REAL Sister Missionaries do service in their proselyting clothes!!

(unexpected service opportunities = thank you Mom and Dad for teaching me not to be a wimp! 

I love you!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Strange Pets

Dear Family,

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia is DEFINITELY wild and wonderful! Thunder storms roll in, flood and rain torrentially, and roll out in a matter of 20 minutes, and the culture here in West Virginia is fantastically foreign. I LOVE it. I love doing the Lord's word here among these marvelous people.

Elizabeth is doing great! She has set a date to be baptized on July 26th! She loves the gospel with an excited energy that strengthens the faith of everyone around her.

Walker and Hayley Ice are getting baptized on Saturday! Their Dad received the Priesthood yesterday and he will be performing the ordinance. It was a beautiful experience to witness Conrad's ordination to the office of a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. Conrad received the Priesthood with a marvelous blessing and with the humble confidence of a new member of the church and a disciple of Jesus Christ. We are excited for the baptism this weekend! It holds great meaning for the covenants that Walker and Hayley will be entering into, and it also holds great significance for the covenants that their Dad has made through the ordinance of baptism and receiving the Priesthood. Ashley is thrilled with the progress of her family, and they are working toward the temple! They will be an eternal family in no time!!

On Monday evening I recalled a potential investigator that Sister Williams and I met 6 months ago. We were at a gas station fueling our car one evening and the gas pump we were at wouldn't print our receipt. We rushed inside quickly to get a receipt from the cashier, her name was C________l. She immediately asked us about the significance of our nametags. We explained our role and purpose as missionaries and her response was, "I have never heard of your church." She had a plethora of questions so we taught her about the Book of Mormon and she gave us her information so we could teach her more.

We never contacted her again. She never answered the phone or the door. We were never sure if she was avoiding us or if we simply missed her every time.

Then we left Fairmont.

None of the following Sisters were able to contact her.

As we drove by her apartment last week I felt impressed to stop and just knock on her door. As we pulled into her parking lot and said a prayer of faith, I plead with the Lord to be able to contact C______ once again and to be able to do His will. We stepped out of the car, approached her door, and knocked with a friendly rhythm. And waited. We knocked once more. And waited. And then she answered!! We had a great reunion as we recognized each other! She asked us to come back the next day and we taught her the restoration lesson. She loved all that we taught, especially the manifestation of God's love through Prophets in every dispensation. The following Saturday we returned with a member of our ward and taught C______ with her husband and their three beautiful children. The gospel will be a great blessing in their family.

I am thankful for the Lord's orchestration in His eternal work. There is purpose in everything we do!!

I love this work and I love the Lord!!

Sister Shumway

This is a pet racoon....what else might you find deep in the Hollars?

June 2, 2014

This week was the best kind of missionary insane! We only had a couple days this week to work in our area because we had meetings in Charleston, Clarksburg and Morgantown! We were also sick with the pukes this week but we didn't care! We put everybody else at risk and did missionary work anyway! It is a splendid feeling to come home at the end of the day, sicker than a dog, knowing that you did your best and saw success!
                                      MISSIONARY WORK IS THE GREATEST!

Yesterday we had our first lesson with Elizabeth who lives in a nursing home. As we taught the Restoration lesson, Elizabeth's eyes fixed intently on ours. She felt the Spirit as we recited the first vision, and she exclaimed her excitement about the Book of Mormon and the Prophet! Before we could even offer she asked is she could have her own copy of the Book of Mormon, and before we could even invite she asked if she could come to church with us! Elizabeth loves the gospel already and she is close to the Spirit. We are excited for her progress and we know that the gospel will bring her comfort and peace.
I am thankful for the redeeming and changing qualities of the gospel. We are so blessed with the opportunity to witness a change and a light in the eyes of those we teach. Elder M. Russell Ballard explained,  “True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals … feel the Spirit working with them, or when they seethe evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. These experiences with the Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how we come to feel‍ the gospel is true”
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of change. The initial change that takes place is the light that sparks within the eyes of the hearer as they initially feel the truth of the gospel. This work is real, it is remarkable, and it is His. 
I love the Lord and I love you!
Sister Shumway
p.s. This week the message on a church billboard was:

"Honk if you love Jesus,
Text and Drive if you want to see Him!"