Monday, July 27, 2015

Letter from Alyssa - July 27, 2015

That package couldn't have come at a better time! It was such a surprise and so fun! I loved the DVD of Mom and Dad Earl's 50th anniversary, and almost cried when I saw my name next to the mission logo. I didn't see that coming. And I'm wearing the Shumway reunion shirt today. The food was awesome! My roomates and other missionaries I see love me because I shared it. Haha even without the pistachio ice cream though, you all know me so well! It was really fun. . . .

Experiencing the Atonement in my life is the greatest miracle, and all these other blessings and miracles that come about because of it remind me of the love Heavenly Father has for us individually and as families. . . .

Irvine is a tough mission, mostly because so much blood, sweat, and tears goes into every possible individual. But it keeps us from being half-hearted missionaries, we have to give it all we've got to even get a lesson or 2 in a week with a non-member (unless you're Spanish speaking). It is fascinating what kind of refinery this mission is, because there are missionaries sent here who have no problem following every rule and giving their all in every situation regardless of the blessings that come temporally. But there are missionaries here that struggle with some of life's most harsh challenges on all levels in any way you could imagine. With both those in mind, I see a little more each day small confirmations that this is my mission and it has been prepared perfectly for me. . . .

In visiting and meeting all the people that we do, and even talking to a lot of missionaries, and in thinking of my family (immediate and extended) back home, I can't help but remember how blessed and grateful I am for the countless tender mercies I'm coming to realize more and more, especially when it comes to my home and family. It reminds me of when someone asked Thomas S. Monson (I believe it was him... Dad could correct me on it) what he would say if Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. He responded by saying that he wouldn't say anything, he would listen. I feel like that in a way sometimes with the perspective I have as a missionary, that He is showing me all these experiences to teach me how to become and how not to become, especially in relation to home and family, present and future. I don't know if I'm wording this right. But as much as I can teach or testify or help these people, whether their situations change or not, I get so much out of every little thing we do and find countless ways to apply it. As I ponder and study on this more, maybe I'll be able to explain it better later.

As far as the work, we couldn't even make weekly progress records because of how slow this week was. Our goal was 70 contacts, we got 15, 2 of which were extremely rude and all the rest were not even courteous, let alone interested. No temple tours since the temple is closed. Our investigators and potential investigators won't respond, we haven't been in contact with any for 2 weeks though we've tried. We have several meetings about not wasting time, it's quite ironic and frustrating. But this week should be better, we already have 2 or 3 referrals and new list of less-actives to visit and serve. We are going to try to place more copies of the Book of Mormon in contacting. Next week's report should be better.

Missionary life - not much different than last week. We just keep going.

Thanks again for the package! It was a moment that helped lift me up a little right when I needed it.

- Sister Shumway

Monday, July 20, 2015

Letter from Alyssa - July 20, 2015

Not much progress this week to be honest. It's been long. Our numbers are way under our goals. Numbers don't mean anything though. They do, but they don't. We've been trying to contact Shay but this week we have not heard back from her. We have to way to contact Wendy so we are praying and preparing for her next lesson in 2 weeks. Angelica has also not responded, we are trying to contact her again this week. We try almost everyday with Kerri (she said to stop by often in case she's there, crazy busy etc. that everyone says) and she hasn't been home this week really. Michelle is annoyed with us coming, she isn't that comfortable in our presence but her dad David loves for us to come (David's less active, Michelle is not a member and is 14). Chris (less-active) and Sarah (non-member) finally answered after 2 months! But they said to come back next week and that it wasn't a good time. Same story almost exactly with Joseph and Erika. Keli has been brushing us off for 2 months, said 3 weeks ago to wait to come again for 3 weeks, we're going to try again this week. A lot of voicemails, visits with no answers, a few canceled dinner appointments, contacting seems hopeless in this area though we still do it, no referrals, and another 6 hours of church behind us 'til next Sunday (The Sabbath is not a day of rest for missionaries).

Missionary life:

It has been storming here for almost 2 days straight! I love it. Everyone else here doesn't know what to do about it though. It's quite hilarious to watch how traumatizing a light rainstorm for Texas is for people here.
I have been asked to be on the Visitor's Center Committee, in other words, help with organizing our music devotional nights at the temple (stake center across from the temple in the chapel, then grounds tours after the music). I played 5 songs last week for it (2 solos and 3 accompaniments) and have been asked to do 6 more next week (1 solo and 5 accompaniments). This time, they want one of the accompaniments on the organ! It is fun, I'm not good yet but every practice (which is no more than about 3hrs a week) I feel so enabled to accomplish it all, I'm not the one truly playing when we perform but I get to enjoy being the instrument in The Lord's hands. I don't know how He does it.

I feel like I'm forgetting a lot. Pics soon(-ish) to come!

- Sister Shumway

Monday, July 13, 2015

letter from Alyssa - July 13, 2015

We have been able to teach people this week, but we have to struggle for every lesson, members or nonmembers.
Brian and Mary Beth's lesson went downhill fast. We started off strong with the Restoration, but since my companion and I have hardly taught together (given our opportunities) we ended up talking way too much and going overtime. I've resolved to not let that happen again. I know lessons won't go exactly perfect in the future, but I'm not going to let that be because the missionaries talked too much. We meet with them again this week.
Shaun keeps going to church, we're passing him to the Elders.
Angelica is super sweet to us, and we are doing our best to not put pressure on her so we haven't taught a discussion yet but our goal is to try to with her this week now that she has adjusted into her new job.
Carazon is being passed to another Elder who is Filipino and can speak Tagalog with her, same with Sam.
Shay is great, she has a baptism date set for September 12th and plan on teaching her the Plan of Salvation next. She is in the process of getting custody of her kids and she has a 3-week vacation planned between now and her baptism which makes me nervous. But she loves having us over and takes in everything we teach her. She even prayed out loud to close our last lesson, it was one of the most heartfelt prayers I have ever experienced.
Wendy's lesson was a disaster. She was a referral from a member, and we thought we were meeting with only Wendy but plans changed last second and we met with her and 2 other members. At first I was excited because it's nearly impossible to get member-present lessons here, but I was also very anxious at the fact that they had no idea our plans to teach her. The lesson took an hour and a half, mostly of the members talking. Wendy is also golden, has read the Book of Mormon all the way through, loves it, recognizes the Spirit in her life, prays daily, and is full of questions. We hardly got to say a word. We planned on teaching the restoration, which we started, but the members took control without a planned lesson and soon they were talking about the possibility of Jesus Christ having kids while He was on the earth, using analogies made up on the spot, telling us which scriptures to read to her, interpreting her dreams based on false doctrine, and even Heavenly Mother was brought up. I was trying so hard not to let myself get frustrated but The Spirit was not there though we tried everything we could without forcing it. By that point I gave up and was able to get my testimony in to bring it to a close. We also don't get to see her for 3 weeks.
On a side note, we didn't get all these names in this past week, though it may seem like it because I didn't report any of the work until last week. We have been working with a list of about 30 names and going through referrals with no success for a month and a half. Contacting here is nearly impossible and a lot of our time is spent making phone calls, leaving messages, visiting empty houses, and brainstorming. We have come up with a few ideas that we've been looking for opportunities to try, and I don't let any of this discourage me because I know I am doing all I can in every situation. What I am working on most is my own becoming. I try to take every situation and apply it to myself, because every time I find something that I can improve on and my purpose in Heavenly Father's plan becomes more and more clear every day. The beginning of the transfer is also a bit rough because we have all sorts of meetings every day for the first 2 weeks. So hopefully I will be able to report more success next week.

- Sister Shumway

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sister Shumway and Sister Hall
July 9, 2015
(After dinner at the Mannings whose son is in the Dallas TX Mission)

letter from Alyssa - 7/6/15

Ok it is the first week of the second transfer, me and my companion are in the same wards and same area together for this next transfer to finish off my training. Next transfer is August 18th and I have no idea what'll happen yet, but if I haven't told you I did get a fortune in a fortune cookie my first night in CA (we went to a place called Pick Up Stix for dinner). It said "Remember 3 months from now - things are about to change"... or something like that. I have 6 more musical numbers to do in the next couple weeks and a few more pending.
Sister Hall is 21 years old and a quarter Navajo heritage. She attended 3 semesters at BYUI before going on her mission a year ago (July 23rd). She is the 2nd of 6 kids and her parents are divorced. Her mom is marrying a man named Ed this month who Sister Hall has never met. 
Here's updates on the work:
Brian is a less-active member and his wife was a former investigator. We had a teaching record in the area book about them, they've received the lessons several times. We went by and they were super sweet and really receptive. We took a turn on the approach though, which we planned ahead of time. We told them we had no current investigators and haven't taught the lessons in a long time. Since we don't want to memorize a presentation, and role play is difficult with only 2 people, we asked if they could help us out by letting us practice the lessons with them. They could pretend to be investigators with different kinds of backgrounds and ask questions and be difficult. They loved the idea and we meet with them every Thursday night to practice the discussions with them. We start this week. In the district we joke with the other missionaries that we succeeded in tricking someone to take the discussions.
Shaun is a less-active member on our never-ending list. We called him and left a voicemail, which happens to every single one. We went by and visited and he wasn't home (or didn't answer). We left a card with our number on it on the door. The next day we get a phone call saying "Hi sisters, thanks for stopping by! Sorry I missed you. Maybe I can take you both to lunch sometime? I will be at church Sunday. I have family in town and they informed me that we're going. I don't have church clothes since I haven't been in 15 years, but they said I could just wear a collared shirt and jeans. I'm excited though! See you there?" We almost didn't know what to say. NO ONE uses our card with our number on it. And the less-actives here are almost impossible. And we didn't even really do anything!
Angelica (g pronounced as an h) is a referral. She requested a Book of Mormon. She's 18 and just graduated High School, but had friends that were Mormons that she always respected, though she knows almost nothing about our beliefs/values. She's very interested and we're meeting with her this week. Sister Hall was really surprised because most of the referrals we get are fake to play jokes on the missionaries, or nonmembers will refer us people they know to prank them. But this one's for real and we're excited.
Carazon is a Filipino lady who is less-active and works at a retirement home care place or something. She speaks english but is hard to understand because of her very thick accent. She was excited to see us though! We are taking Sister Gaines with us who speaks Tagalog, and we may take Sam if her work schedule permits (Sam is an investigator who comes to church every Sunday but avoids the missionaries. She's from the Philippines and works here to send money to her family there. She goes to mass at a Catholic church and confesses her attendance at the Mormon Church every week).
Shay is . . . wait for it (drum role please). . . . . our new investigator! Our assistant ward mission leader called us and said "Shay wants to take the discussions. Here's her number and address. You have an appointment tomorrow at 1pm." That never happens either. We met with her and taught her the Restoration after getting to know her. She ate it all up, took in every word, and is just golden. Which kind of scares me because I want it to work out and we'll do the best we possibly can. She has 3 ex-husbands and has been sober from alcohol for less than 3 years. She has 3 kids that she loves but the custody of them is complicated (we don't know details). She wants a relationship with God and expressed this to us. Couldn't have gone better, we meet with her again tomorrow.
Wendy is a potential investigator given to us by a member. We have an appointment with her Sunday to start the discussions and get to know her. That's about all we know. But these have all happened in the last week! Along with a bunch of other little things that don't come to mind at the moment. But finally in the last week of the transfer we have a bunch of potential investigators and a couple new ones (which is A LOT for this area. Like a lot a lot).

All is well in Zion.

- Sister Shumway