Monday, June 29, 2015

letter from Alyssa - June 29, 2015

Most people here in Cali freeze at 72 degrees and think it's really hot and humid at 78-79 degrees (really??). 
I did see the statement the church posted, it is encouraging and true. These things that are happening hit you harder when you're on the mission, from Elder Perry passing away to now this it's intimidating and exhilarating at the same time!
 Literally almost every single member of the church I meet say "Sister Shumway... do you have relatives in ______?" 
More pictures are coming! Eventually... 

Still looking for that investigator. We had our p-day activity with the zone at my Ward Mission Leader's house last week. I talk everyone how to play round robin and we played tournament after tournament! I was always the last sister out and the farthest I got was second place. I also beat every Elder in pool. That was so fun (for me especially). Sister Verla Sorensen is my favorite (I mentioned her in a past email). We work closely with her because she is a ward missionary. She was going through her things since her husband passed away less than a year ago and we were helping her, she found a really nice guitar that never gets used and wants to give it to me (I was so surprised!) she's checking to see if one of her grandkids want it but she's pretty sure they all have several, and if I don't get it that's totally okay. I was shocked at her casual offer to give it to me though. That's how wealthy people are, Brother Hansen (another ward mission leader) tried to buy the Elders a brand new washer and dryer like it was pocket change. Anyway, Sister Sorensen says that the reason people fall out of the gospel is the same reason people fall out of bed: they don't get in far enough. She's the best. She also told me to borrow one of her sewing machines to help alter some things out of service for the temple tour sisters so that's a project I've been working on. Last night Sister Hall and I went to teach at the School of Infantry again at the Marine base (Camp Pendleton) and I'm a designated pianist there too. Add that to the list! Other than that, we spend a lot of time making phone calls to set appointments only to leave voicemails, making visits for people to not answer doors, go contacting where people don't know how to be social outside of a small flat screen, and do all we can really to proselyte and strengthen the faith of all we do come in contact with. If there's anything specific you want to know ask me... it's tough to know where to start and what I'm leaving out and such.
If you wouldn't mind putting President Von Orgill's name on the Dallas temple (and any other temple(s)) prayer role, he is pretty sick and has been for a long time. Sister Hall tells me his body rejects most of the food he tries to eat and refuses to sleep, though you would never know it in talking to him, it amazes me how he works like all is well and never takes any thought for himself first. I think he would appreciate it greatly.
Say hi to everyone! Give hugs! Send pics and questions and puns and exciting things that happen and yeah!!

- Sister Shumway

Monday, June 22, 2015

Letter from Alyssa - June 22, 2015

. . . If others ask for my email or want to contact me, you can give it to them, but let them know it is much more likely for me to respond if it's a hard-copy letter. You can send me pics too if you want! Anyone can.

As far as the work goes, like I said there's not really any amazing stories or miracles that I've seen (not saying they haven't happened as a part of our work, but you know what I mean). We are given several less-active members to visit, and only one out of about every six answer their door and it takes about three or four times to get that answer. Contacting (what we do in place of tracting because there's so many gated communities here) is tough because everyone is either in a hurry or driving/in their house/inaccessible. Dinners are provided every night though by members. I have been asked to play about 10 musical numbers within the next month so far. I love it! We are organizing a combined yw/ym activity for next month to get the youth involved in missionary work and to get to know them better. 

We've had 3 missionaries come home in the last two weeks and about 4 or 5 submit their papers or get their calls with a lot of other youth preparing. There is a senior missionary companionship serving in Detroit and the Elder (I think his name is Elder Douglas) was just diagnosed with Leukemia (spelling-?). There's another Elder (younger) who's family was in a plane crash a couple weeks ago or so. His dad (an experienced pilot) was flying and his mom and siblings were in the plane. The plane stalled about 500ft above the ground after take off on their way home. They all died except for the Elder's 5-year-old brother. This is all I've been told by members and the bishop. The Elder may go home if his little brother needs him, otherwise, he'll finish his mission. Please keep these missionaries in your prayers (and I don't mean to scare you...). 

Last night my companion (Sister Hall) and I went with the Dana Point ward relief society president and some sisters to the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton (a Marine base in the mission) to serve them dinner after their sacrament meeting. Most who attend that sacrament meeting (out of about 20 total) are non-members and the missionaries teach them. One that I met, Skyler Brock, is from McKinney and recognized my name because he was in your institute class, Dad. That was a neat experience. Wednesday I played piano at a devotional about the temple for a bunch of other missionaries' investigators. There are some pretty cool things we get to do. I'll write down stuff as this next week goes by to include in my email next Monday. 

Our next transfer is on July 7th, I will most likely stay in this area with this companion because the first 2 transfers are in training and they typically try to do that, but if the Spirit says otherwise then who knows? I'll let you know then. Chances are though that either my companion or area or both with change come August 18th (end of my second transfer).

- Sister Shumway
New missionaries in Irvine CA
Trainer - Sister Hall
Temple Tours (Exterior)
Fridays and Saturdays
Newport Beach Temple
Temptation at its best
View in her first area - San Clemente
Mission P-day Paradise
One Happy MTC District
"My dad did this 24 years ago"
"Going to California"
MTC district at the MTC map
"Going to California"

MTC companion
Sisters from the MTC district - Provo Temple

Monday, June 15, 2015

6-15-15 excerpt of an email from Alyssa

I live in an apartment with my companion and one other companionship in Laguna Niguel. We are hardly ever home so it's really nice for the needs we have. It's a little weird to not have a computer or TV because that's part of what I'm used to being standard furniture basically. We each have our own desk which I very much appreciate. The area is beautiful, but June is very gloomy and cloudy, like the clouds are threatening the rain we very much need but never do rain. Apparently it'll clear up fast come July and stay clear and sunny year-round so I'll hopefully have good pics to send then. The weather is perfect every day, not humid and not too hot or cold ever, day/night. We hardly even turn on the air conditioning because we just keep the windows open. My favorite part so far is going to Bowl of Heaven, which is like a healthy smoothie in a bowl that feeds missionaries free since the owner is Mormon. My favorite part spiritually is probably scripture chases with the other missionaries when we have meetings or games and stuff. We don't have ipads and probably won't until at least January if at all. I don't know why. I am at the temple 8hrs a week on the grounds giving tours, but not a lot of people come so sometimes I wonder if it's a waste of time, but the other missionaries have recounted miracles because of it so I use it as extra study time so far. I haven't been inside though, we get to go every 3 months and they just went right before I got here to CA. The members are either awesome or acting like it, and you can always tell. But between the 2 wards I'm over, about 800 out of 1300 are inactive so that is one of our focuses here. In a way nothing is like I expected, but in a way everything is how I expected it because I expected it to all go as I didn't expect it (make any sense...?).

We have cars in this mission. In fact, because this mission is the wealthiest of all of them, we have 2013 and 2014 Toyota Corollas, Chevy Cruzes, and Ford Fusions. Some of the missionaries joke about getting a different car at a transfer and having the problem that theirs is a 2013 instead of a 2014.

Here's some things I think you'll enjoy hearing: At our first district meeting we couldn't decide on an opening hymn so we defaulted to a verse of I Am a Child of God (of course). After the meeting we couldn't decide on a closing hymn so we sang the second verse of I Am a Child of God. The next week we did the 3rd verse for the opening then we all joked about not knowing what on earth we would do about the closing hymn that day! So we may just start doing How Firm a Foundation or A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. Those two would last us for like 7 district meetings or so. We also play grounders at the playground on P-Days as a district like little kids. It's the best when other kids are there watching us. I'll take a video of it next week. The Stake President said the best missionaries are sent here to this stake that I'm in. You would expect him and any stake president to say that, but he actually brought up a good point that I've considered a lot lately: people are lined up in Africa and places like that at the baptismal font (basically). But, once baptized, they can serve and be blessed in their families, but since they're so poor they don't have much to contribute no matter how willing they are. Here in San Clemente, but applicable to the entire Irvine mission, every baptized member can immediately contribute significantly by following the same commandments given to those in 3rd world countries. I feel like a huge responsibility is on my shoulders, but I also felt trusted enormously. Can't decide how intimidating that is yet.

I honestly don't have a lot of awesome stories. We work hard. We set goals. We make contacts, have dinners and appointments, study, give temple tours, go to a lot of meetings, study, update records, map our area, study, go contacting, study, go contacting, study, etc. And I don't need a huge miraculous experience, I'm doing my best and so is my companion, and so are we together. So I guess we will see what happens.

- Sister Shumway

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Letter from Alyssa - June 7, 2015

Letter from Alyssa - June 7, 2015

I have very limited time on the computer so I will try to answer questions as best as I can and relate what has been going on through the week. But if anyone does want a more detailed and personalized letter, inside or outside of family, give them the mission address (23 Lake Road Irvine, CA 92604 - double check the accuracy of that address on the Irvine CA Mission facebook page or something) I have time set aside every night that I can write back. So emails I will try to do as much as I can, but know that that's also available.

I had to look back in my planner to remember things to send! These past 2 weeks have been slow. No new investigators. Hardly any lessons. TONS of meetings, for some reason everyone wants to take 2-3hrs for all the missionaries to get together and listen to people's opinions on the gospel. I've gotten a few ideas out of them, but looking back I wonder if we're meeting to talk about missionary work more than actually doing the work. We hardly have time to go contacting (they call it that now instead of tracting because tracting is one of the most unproductive things to do in this mission, so we go on the streets and the harbor and more popular areas outside). And I haven't given a single tour out of the now 16hrs we've sat in front of the temple, so I don't know what miracles the rest of the sisters talk about yet. However, I have pulled so much out of my studies. I've talked to so many people. We have dinner scheduled for us in members' homes every night for the next month and it looks like it will be that way for at least the 3 months I'm in San Clemente. I'm trying so hard to use new ideas and approaches to introduce the gospel to people, which seem to work quite well, but my companion is very much a visitor's center missionary. In other words, she loves sitting at the temple waving to cars passing by and hates talking to people. She does try, but she also has her way of doing missionary work so sometimes it is hard to be unified. We have had no contention though, especially in times that I could easily see other missionaries giving in to that kind of spirit in those situations. We're friends and it gets better everyday, I am helping her out of her comfort zone and she helps me get to know the way of missionary life. There is no comfort in the growth zone, and no growth in the comfort zone, which I am striving to learn better all the time.
One of my favorite things that happened last week was meeting with the mission president. I wish I had a good enough word to describe him! I think this defines his character and who he's become: about a week and a half ago (he told me this last week) there was a missionary who texted him and said "President, please pray for me" and that's it. He was in the middle of a meeting so he closed his eyes and silently offered a prayer in the Elder's behalf. After closing the prayer, he said that the Spirit told him it was insufficient. So he immediately excused himself from the meeting, went into his office and got down on his knees pleading to Heavenly Father to help this missionary with whatever it was he stood in need for, not knowing what that need was but expressing that he knew Heavenly Father knew. He doesn't know how long he was on his knees. After closing the prayer, he felt a sense of peace and returned to the meeting. No one questioned him. He then got a text a few minutes later saying "thank you" from that missionary.
Another experience he shared was Wednesday night, when all the new missionaries (23 of us!) were invited by tradition to have dinner in his home. He told us of an experience he had on his mission. He starts by saying he had never seen the ocean in person all his life even when he was called to serve in Tonga. He flew from Salt Lake and landed in California in the early evening out of view of the Pacific. Through the night he flew to Hawaii, and from there to Tonga. It wasn't until the plane started descending to Tonga that he say the ocean at dawn the next day, so much of it also that he didn't even see the land until the tired landed on the ground. Some of the Islands he served on were small enough that he could get up in the morning, run all the way around them, and be back before breakfast. In that time and at that mission, he was in the ocean at the beach every day. That's even how they showered, then using a little fresh water to rinse off the salt. It was a part of the culture. and they waded through water on reefs between islands. They also wore solid colored shirts and Levi's instead of suits and ties. One day he and his companion were on the beach, don't remember what they were doing but they were early. They saw a log that seemed cut just right to work like a pretty functional surfboard. So together they paddled on it out to the water, faced it towards the beach and waited for the waves, which were pretty good for surfing that day. After a few tries, his companion got bored and swam to shore despite Elder Orgill's calls to get him back. His companion sat on the beach, and Elder Orgill tried again and again, thinking maybe it would work now that there was only one person. It started to get later, so he thought he'd go back. Not knowing anything really about the ocean, he soon found himself stuck as he tried harder and harder to swim back to shore, much like I was when we were in Florida. The undercurrent had caught him and the more he struggle, the smaller the island became as he was pulled out further and further. The water began to darken as he traveled on the board over deep deep water. It got to the point where the water was almost jet black, and he realized (this much he did know) that he was over the Tongan Trench, which is the 2nd deepest part of the ocean in the world. Frustrated, he saw the board/log as useless and jumped into the water to swim back like his companion had. This was a mistake because he realized that way that Levi's get very heavy when they're wet. He turned to get back on the board but jumping off sent it about 30ft in the opposite direction he wanted to go. He swam desperately until he was near exhaustion and feared drowning. he began praying and asked Heavenly Father that his Branch President would be blessed with the words to use that would best comfort his mother with the news of his death. The Spirit came to him and said "wrong prayer." Confused, he prayed again, crying out much like Joseph Smith must have with his last desperate pleas saying, "I can't do it by myself, please help me to find a way for me to get back, help me know what I can do to get back to shore." Then the waves picked up and he was sure this was his last day. But then he decided to try to use the wave and ride it towards the island. It worked, timing his position and striving to pull together all the strength he had left to do so. After doing this once of twice, the water started to get slightly lighter in color and he found hope. The next wave he caught was perfect, and carried him far though he still had a long ways to go; however, this time as it curled and fell it slammed him into the reef. Bleeding from his chest, arms, and face, the Spirit told him "do it again." Not having any time to think of some other way, he obeyed, caught the next wave at its peak, and slammed again hard into the reef. This time, the Spirit to him to hold on.  He gripped the reef as best he could under water, opening more wounds in the salt water of the ocean and he felt the current underneath pull back again for the next wave. Though he tried, he lost his grip and the wave ripped him off the reef, shredding his skin on his knees and the palms of his hands. But he knew he had to do it again, so a third time the wave lifted him and slammed all the momentum down on him back to the reef. This time he prayed for strength that he could hold on, being about 15ft under water. The current pulled back again, and he held on in the darkness, out of breath, and prayed one more time for the Spirit to let him know when the timing was perfect for him to catch the next wave without being dragged back out. Waiting for seemingly an eternity, The Holy Ghost finally 'gave the signal' and he pushed with every bit of energy left, surfacing at the exact point of the wave and crashing into the shallow parts of the reef where he rolled and was dragged to the shore. He turned to his companion as he lied in the now red sand, asking "where were you?!" Hi branch president was there and explained that this area was known as one of the most dangerous places anywhere to be swimming and many natives have died in those waters, many more losing their lives trying to save them. Elder Orgill offered a prayer in repentance of his thoughts towards his companion and thanked Heavenly Father for saving his life. Now President Orgill explained to us, after we had a discussion of the applications to us now, that he doesn't share this for the sake of the miracle of his life being saved. Rather, he shares it so we can see the importance of knowing Heavenly Father's voice through the Holy Ghost and relying on Jesus Christ, especially when we are "safe" on the beach.
I hope I'll have more to report next week as far as what's happening now in California, rather than what happened a long time ago in Tonga. It's been pretty uneventful and repetitive to the point when I don't even know what to report. But that's okay, I'm not depressed in the least, and remember the principle taught by Jesus Christ, because I've been promised that they will be foremost on my mind in times when I really need them if I do what I need to in order to make that possible.
One question: are we related to an Eric Shumway? Good friend of President Orgill, well known throughout Hawaii and Tonga because he served his mission in Tonga about 10yrs before President Orgill and served as President of BYU-Hawaii while President Orgill was President of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii before being called here to Irvine in July of 2013.
I know this email is insufficient, I'm so sorry! Emails are the HARDEST part of serving a mission. Literally. They drain me emotionally, and I have to try to go super fast and make it last for the entire week. Given, it would be much worse if I couldn't email and I'm not complaining, I only wish I knew what to send for it to be at least satisfactory. I do look forward to hearing from you every week!

- Sister Shumway

Letter #1 (from CA) - June 1, 2015

Letter #1 - June 1, 2015

Let's start with a story (given by Verla Sorenson, a fantastic elderly woman who gave a talk in church yesterday) : there was a little girl who went up to her mom and asked where we came from and how we're here on the earth. Her mom responded by saying, "we came from God, and we came from heaven, where we'll return someday." The girl then went to her dad and also asked where we came from, and also how we're on this earth. He wanting to make her laugh, he told her "we came from monkeys." Confused, she went back to her mom asking why the answers were so different. Her mom said to her, "oh it's very simple, I told you about my side of the family and Dad told you about his."
Sister Sorenson is fun. She also had Brother Goodsell from the bishopric stand next to her at the podium and hold up laminated quotes she had prepared (like we were in primary again or something) as she read and explained them because since he asked her to speak she assigned him to help.

Anyway, I do miss the MTC but I'm excited to be here. I hope I cover what I want to but I only have so much time and I'll probably think of all these things I wish I had included later. So this email can be forwarded to anyone just in case I don't have time for more than this.

Our travel group to CA turned into 23 missionaries all brand new: 19 English speaking, 2 waiting for Visas to Mongolia, and 2 Spanish speaking. The transfer meeting was huge. My first companion in the field is Sister Hall, who is also my trainer. I like her, she's not one of those super overly-energetic sisters that you find a lot. But she is more a visitor's center missionary. She doesn't like contacting, so I am always trying to come up with ideas to meet people. And her favorite thing to do is give the tours on the temple grounds, which we do every Friday night and Saturday morning (temple tours go all week, but this is our shift). The temple is gorgeous. I haven't been inside yet, we get to go every 3 months. I like doing the tours, but we don't have a lot of people that come so I feel pretty unproductive sometimes sitting there for 4hours. There's a nearby food place called Bowl of Heaven though that feeds missionaries for free so that's a fun treat every once in a while. We started off on day 1 with no area books, maps, or directories, and we are supposed to cover 2 huge wards. Over this last week we've done a lot with finding all that information, which we finally gathered and organized yesterday. Our goals have suffered because of it, we don't have a single investigator and a line of 0's down most the other things. But there are plenty of less-actives to visit. I'm trying to ask for referrals from them especially. This week should go better, though we have A LOT of meetings unlike usual. We are in the San Clemente area, which I've heard is where every missionary wants to serve. Our leaders and members are great! And we are generously fed. We haven't had to provide a single dinner for ourselves and won't have to for the next month. Even several breakfasts and lunches have been provided. On Saturday there was a Relief Society activity that was bigger and more elaborate than a wedding reception.  I have some friends from my MTC zone here in my district so it is a lot of fun.

I also found out that Elder Perry passed away (as I'm sure you know). We found out in the closing prayer at sacrament meeting. The missionaries are always the last to know.

The strangest thing I've eaten on my mission so far is dandelion jam and violet jam made from flowers. We also had some sort of edible flower you can pick right off the stem and eat, and it's good for you. It had a slight radish flavor. Weird.

Collin (our cousin) wrote me a letter while I was in the MTC! It was short and sweet and made my day. And it had a stick figure drawing of Jesus on it. Sometimes I tell the sisters I have a boy writing me.

Yeah I feel like I'm missing a lot of stuff but I'm about out of time so I'll write things down throughout the week so I don't miss anything next week. <3ya!

- Sister Shumway

Arrival in Irvine, CA - May 25, 2015

Arrival in Irvine California - May 25, 2015

President and Sister Orgill

I have a minute to let you know I've arrived safely in Irvine. The Mission President is absolutely fantastic! I'm already loving it here.

- Sister Shumway

23 new missionaries in CA Irvine

Letter from Alyssa (MTC)

Letter from Alyssa (while in the MTC)

So I have to tell you, when you send things to me over DearElder the MTC prints it and delivers it daily (though we can only respond on P-days which is Tuesdays in the MTC for us). On Friday, my district joked about how popular I am and how many "Dear Johns" I'll be writing over the next 18 months because I had just about 10 letters, almost all from you.
To start, the MTC is not hard. You have a focus, everything is clear, and you feel safe; physically, spiritually, and even just a safe place to learn. My companion is great, we're always getting better. She's pretty reserved so I'm still getting to know her. The district is awesome, we're like siblings. We look out for each other all the time. One of the best things about the MTC is that we move past all the "fluff" of the gospel and focus on the central doctrines and principles essential to us and applicable to the Atonement, a lot like Dad's classes that he teaches.
On Sunday after meeting the Branch Presidency, I was assigned to be the District Sister Training Leader. It's a lot on top of all I already have, but The Lord is already starting to show how He enables those He calls.
My entire zone +3 more Elders (11 Elders, 8 Sisters, 19 missionaries total) are all flying together to Irvine on Tuesday morning, the 26th. We'll meet the Mission President and his wife at the airport.
P-day is Tuesday (today), we got to go to the temple this morning. It was neat because the Provo temple is the first temple I ever went inside. We also get to walk up to the grounds on Sundays. This last Sunday our branch was assigned to conduct sacrament meeting for the cafeteria staff and he asked me to play the hymns. It was great to serve those that had been diligently serving us all week. I also played during our own sacrament meeting. Those Sisters and Elders departing this week (yesterday) asked me to accompany them singing a special number, I had about 15-20 minutes to learn an 8-page song. I did my best and when we all did it I mustn't have been the one playing because there's no way I could've played so beautifully with an entire week to practice on my own.
Mom and Dad Earl have Elder and Sister Palfreyman watching out for me. They're the best, and always have lots of stress medicine (candy).
My teachers are inspiring, they meet the needs of our class whether we verbalize them or not. I have been asked if I know Shumways that are members almost everywhere I go. But it's a positively revered name every time that I'm proud to bear.
For you future missionaries, my 2 pieces of recommended preparation:
1) live the 4th article of faith in everything you do. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End is all we teach. Even if we're teaching the restoration, plan of salvation, commandments, etc. we teach it through these things. To endure to the end = repeating the first 4 steps over and over continually.
2) Here is your MTC Scripture Mastery:
D&C 4
JSH 1:16-17 and only this much "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other - This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
and Your Purpose as a missionary, found on page 1 of Preach My Gospel "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.
I have compared getting to know my brothers to helping investigators who come to the MTC get to know Christ and trust Him. I've also brought up Casan's baptism when we teach about it and his faith. It's fun to hear updates, sounds like summer is just taking its own sweet time getting to Frisco. Push through though! To "hang in there" is not a principle of the gospel, so endure it and enjoy it well. 

- Sister Shumway

Dropping off at MTC - May 13, 2015

Dropping Alyssa off at the MTC (Provo) - May 13, 2015

Thank you Mom Earl and Dad Earl!

Arrival in SLC

Arrival in Salt Lake City

Thank you Mom Earl and Dad Earl!

Alyssa and Mom Earl


Good-bye Alyssa

Good-bye Alyssa . . . .

Last family meal

Last family prayer with Alyssa

Alyssa's Mission Call

The Mission Call

After dozens of predictions from family and friends were posted on her world map, the mission call arrived. We gathered as a family with many of our extended family watching via the internet . . . .

California Irvine Mission (English speaking)