Monday, December 28, 2015

Sister Shumway on Christmas Day 2015

letter from Alyssa - Dec. 28, 2015

What a week! So this week my email will have to be a bit shorter because I received an email from an anti-mormon group that was a concern so some of my time was taken to call the mission president and take care of it. I had more I wanted to email, and I LOVE reading the emails you send, I wish I could respond better but I will do my best this week to send what I can and try to make up for it in future weeks.
The work is starting to pick up. We are coming in contact with some people, but this week has been slow due to the Christmas holiday. But like I told you over skype last week, we are over 2 huge wards so we have sooo much work to do.
We have been receiving information little by little about changes that are coming up in this mission. Most of it is polishing up our obedience and being consistent with the missionary handbook and Preach My Gospel, but it's all preparatory is what we've been told. Also our new mission president is to be announced in the next couple months so I'm sure it has to do with that.
We found insideout CDs in the apartment. Sister Phinney has never heard them, I got excited and told her I know these songs insideout (...get it?). That's been fun.
We had sticky rice for dessert at the Noblezas. Not the sweet kind you have with mango, but the thicker stickier kind dad made for us a long time ago. That was fun too, the Noblezas are awesome.
Thankyou again for the wonderful Christmas!! Especially talking to you all, that was so so so neat.  I am blessed in so many ways, I think Heavenly Father enjoys sending extra blessings, even if we don't necessarily need them, to remind us He loves us.
I'm sorry again for the short email, love you all and talk to you next year :D

- Sister Shumway

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

letter from Alyssa - Dec. 21, 2015

So Tuesday was another transfer meeting. It was hard to imagine being transferred out of Live Oak Canyon. When my name was called to be transferred, I stood to leave and Sister Ward stood up and hugged me in front of all the other missionaries before I went to join my new companion. I am so confident in her and the great work she will do with her new companion there. Her new companion was in the MTC with her, not her companion then but they have both been out less than 3 months. I also collected a bunch of names from that ward list of who to friend on FB when I get back. Oh we also found out at transfer meeting that MTC time for those speaking English has been extended to 3 weeks, so this transfer is 7 weeks long instead of 6 because last transfer was 5 weeks long (due to plane flights and timing that before the week of Christmas), but now next transfer is also 7 weeks long and then we'll go back to 6 week transfers. So every transfer is a week later than before. I don't know how that will affect those going home from then on, including me, because I was supposed to fly home November 23rd but it may now be November 30th. So I talked to President Ellis (just because I saw him at the chalk walk, which I'll tell you what that is later in the email) and he said we will have a new mission president by the time I go home (which I knew, I just forgot) so things will be handled differently and I'll find out. So now all I really know is that I'm going home sometime in November and that I have plenty of time to not worry about much more than that yet, and it'll be figured out. Now I have been transferred to 2 huge wards again: Aliso Viejo and Wood Canyon in the Laguna Niguel Zone. My new companion is Sister Phinney, and to be honest I bet she will be my favorite companion on the mission. I love her! And I don't even know her that well. She is one transfer behind me, so she's been out 6 months and I've been out for 7. She is from British Columbia, Canada in a little city called Quesnel. She's so cute and I'll send you a picture of us sometime. She's a really really really good baker and so sweet to everyone. She's been in these wards for 3 months now. We totally get along, we can talk openly about ourselves, our studies, back home, experiences, I so enjoy being with her. It's like I wish I knew her in High School or something, we would've been such close friends (like we are now!). I can't wait to get to know her better.
Aliso Viejo and Wood Canyon are huge and constantly changing. But there's so much potential and a lot of work that can be done! I have never served in Laguna Niguel so this is also a new experience. But now I get to draw upon the things I've learned and done in other wards and get things rolling here. My first area in Dana Point and Capistrano is not far at all from here, and that was also 2 big wards at once. But I've never served with someone who's had similar and about as much experience as I have.
The Elders we're serving with are pretty cool. In Aliso Viejo we have the Zone Leaders, Elder Putnam who also just got transferred here and Elder Medina who I ward shared with when I was first in Live Oak Canyon. In Wood Canyon we have Elder Norton (one of our District Leaders) who is training Elder Mask. All 4 of these Elders are great as far as I have seen.
Sister Phinney (and experiences I've heard of on many accounts) tells me that Laguna Niguel is not a very obedient zone. They are very close as missionaries and actually probably have the most baptisms regularly out of the zones throughout the mission. They also don't disobey what would be considered big things or serious sins I guess, but in little ways that add up they have created a culture that rationalizes ignoring some of the standards we've been given. For example, on p-day they go in big groups to public places to hang out, which is discouraged. At ward or stake events and other meetings (like ward council) missionaries will be without their companions because they've said they're with endowed members and in the same building as their companion. Getting in the apartment on time is not a priority. Long dinner appointments with members even without giving a spiritual message happen easily. Basically a lot of things that are not hard to obey are being disregarded and many missionaries are not taking initiative. They still work hard, they still proselyte and refer to the handbook and Preach My Gospel on many things, but they are noticeably lax. It's having an effect on their conduct. I think part of the reason is because the zone used to be made up of a bunch of veteran missionaries that had been out for over a year and so the way they do things is acceptable by default. Some of those missionaries have gone home. Sister Phinney has expressed concern about a few of these things as they've come up since I've been with her this last week, but has not received very positive responses from those she's tried to confront (and she's not very confrontational at all). So we agreed to help each other. Neither of us have been out that long, so we decided to lead by example. It will be the perfect opportunity for us to become more polished in obedience, conduct, and unity ourselves, and may set the tone for the zone again. We are already seeing great things happen, it's considered a very successful are and many baptisms are already lined up. So imagine what more could happen and the greater miracles we could witness if we added greater obedience to invite the Spirit in greater abundance and power! We are working together to look for ways to show The Lord we are His servants and disciples. I am so grateful for a companion that is unified with me in purpose, willing to work more than having just good intention, and still have fun experiences through it all.
We basically don't have much to go off of as far as the work goes. Our leaders are awesome, but the wards are so big and change a lot. That and the sisters before us didn't accomplish much, it is difficult to do a lot especially between 2 wards like these, but that makes it easy to get spinning your wheels without going anywhere, which is what has happened recently. So we are starting by going back on former investigators and things in the area book to try and find people that way first. But we also have a lot to work with when it comes to finding in this area so we will work on that next.
Bishop Weaver (Wood Canyon, or WC) and Bishop Miller (Aliso Viejo, or AV) are fantastic. I don't know how they do it in these wards. Bishop Miller meets with us and the Elders every Friday morning to correlate. Bishop Weaver is putting together a list of names he wants us to visit and try to work with. Brother Turner (WC ward mission leader) is always in contact with us and ready to help. He has us text him every night when we get home to make sure we made it back at the end of the day safely. Brother Parker (AV ward mission leader) also keeps us busy. Sometimes we will correlate while we play games with him and his family at his home, so he is so much fun too. One of the biggest challenges being assigned here is going to be to try and keep all the names straight between wards, let alone remember them.
On Friday and Saturday night the stake did a Christmas activity called the Chalk Walk. Missionaries helped serve cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, so we met most everyone there and there were a lot of friends that members brought! Artists (members and nonmembers alike) were given parking spaces to do chalk art for Christmas, they were stunning! I was so amazed. I wanted to take pictures but it actually rained Saturday night (of all the times to finally rain here, but we've been praying for it so I guess we can't complain). It was so much fun.
We haven't been able to get into the work a whole lot with transfers happening, but the first day I was here we did teach a now progressing investigator, Jennifer. She is solid. She has been to church the last 3 weeks in a row and has been reading the Book of Mormon daily! She was taught the restoration before I got here, but when we went to teach her she had so many questions we found out she didn't really understand what was taught, so we retaught it to her and it could not have gone better. She even prayed at the end of the lesson without hesitation! Sister Phinney said the difference between the 2 restoration lessons she's had were black and white, and that that experience was amazing. I was so excited after, I get this feeling after we teach a really good lesson that just makes me so so happy. And that was definitely one of those times. By the way, Dad she said she's lived in Virginia most her life, where was it in Virginia you lived and when?
April is a less-active that wants so badly to partake of the Sacrament. Yesterday she got to church just after the priesthood sat down after passing it. The week before she made it for the last 15 minutes of Relief Society. But she has short-term memory loss due to a serious car accident she was in when she was a teenager. And she's actually been baptized a member since then! So she really struggles with a lot of things she can't control, and doesn't have any friends that won't take advantage of her condition. So we do all we can but we're going to see what more others can do since there's only so much we can do for her as missionaries. I don't know much more about her yet.
Julie came to church for the first time in almost 40 years! Well actually she came to the chalk walk, but to the church building was a miracle. She left when it started raining so she didn't stay long. But we had visited with her the day before and she really knows how to talk. She said she may be there, but didn't sound very promising. Her son is having surgery at the end of the month, and this week he was really sick so he won't be coming to visit her until after Christmas. But Julie said one of the reasons she's not coming to church is because she has no skirts. So Sister Phinney and I are going to make a trip to the Sister's closet and pick up some skirts for her to choose from as a Christmas gift so she has a reason to come to church, because she won't wear a skirt to anything else either.
Kynsie would love to visit Shirley with us. She has sooooooooooo much crafting and art stuff. Probably more than Hobby Lobby. I bet it's so hard for her to shop at a craft store because she can't find something she doesn't already have, like it's worse than Ty trying to find a hotwheel he doesn't already have. She helped us make Christmas card while we talked to her about what she was reading in the scriptures lately. It was a pretty neat conversation. She doesn't really want to come to church though, but she's been close to coming so we'll keep working with her, especially since we are some of her only visitors.
We are having Christmas with the AV Elders at the Nobleza home. They are also Filipino! So Dad and I will have both spent our first Thanksgiving and Christmas on the mission with Filipino people and food. Remember Elder Medina is Filipino, so it was probably his request, and I'm excited.They said they are probably going to make rib roast for dinner. But we will spend a lot of time with them so we can call families, help make food, have dinner, and give a Christmas message. I can't wait!!

Speaking of Christmas, I will see you all Friday! Merry Christmas!!

- Sister Shumway

Monday, December 14, 2015

letter from Alyssa - Dec. 14, 2015

This week was a lot. But it was good. But it was a lot.
So we have had SOMETHING going on every single day due to Christmas stuff. I mean, we always make plans, but we've had to cram all the stuff in now as I'm sure you can imagine. I bet our lives (my companion and I) have been pretty chill compared to how crazy and awesome things are going with you guys.
But anyway, Tuesday (DAD'S BIRTHDAY!! :D) was the mission Christmas party. I didn't even know we would have one until we got the text. But it was great, we had dinner, and a video we all put together for President Orgill (I'd be surprised if it's not on the mission FB page), Santa came, we took pictures, had music numbers performed, played minute to win it Christmas style (I totally got the cookie one on the first try, the one where you put the cookie on your forehead and get it to your mouth with only the muscles of your face), and heard a message from President Orgill. It was like 5 hours long. So much fun. What's unique about this mission is that there are approximately 172 missionaries (may change tomorrow) all serving in an area that is so geographically small, so you get to know most all of them. It's so neat and one of the reasons I'm very very grateful to be called to this mission.
Wednesday was the Relief Society Christmas party, and that was so well done. The program was so well-prepared and invited the Spirit, dinner was awesome, then we did a service project putting together Christmas baskets for less fortunate families. But the best part was that we had several less-actives and nonmember friends come! Many that will be in contact with us to start teaching or serving.
Thursday we had a special Sisters' Training in Irvine for all the sister missionaries. It was on music, health, fashion, love, and all sorts of sisters' stuff. Lunch was really really good though, I think that was my favorite part. I gave the training on music with my companion, Sister Ward, we read from the preface in the hymnbook and taught them all to lead music. Sister Orgill loved it. That also went for about 5 hours or so, even though it was planned for 4, but then our mission president decided to tell us all the story of how he and his wife met, dated, and got married. It gives mom and dad's story a run for their money.
Friday we had breakfast at the Stake President's house again, President Brennan, along with Brother Hobbins who I've mentioned a lot over the last few months. They gave a wonderful training and helped motivate us to really want to go out and work. Breakfast was really yummy too. President Brennan asked me to play the piano while the entire zone sang a few Christmas carols, and that was fun. Though I couldn't contribute much more than that since I had lost my voice and later ended up coming down with a cold. It lasted through most of Saturday, but I didn't have a headache or fever so I just worked through it. It wasn't very fun coughing, sneezing, losing my voice and having a pretty stuffed up nose, but it went away and I'm fine now.
I don't know why or how the members love us so much. But we've already received a lot of Christmas presents from people. Sister Judd runs a boutique and told us to each pick out a new dress. Sister Klein made us a really really yummy loaf of peach bread that she knows I love. Sister Sawyer got us a kit of body wash, lotion, deodorant, and stuff along with a plate of cookies and mini loaves of chocolate chip banana nut bread. They have been so generous and sweet to us, and helping us feel loved and supported especially being far from home at this time of year. I will so miss them.
We had 3 or 4 missed calls from Joanie on Wednesday because she thought we had transfers last Tuesday and she saw the Elders for the first time so she was afraid we were both gone without saying anything. We called her back and reassured her, but it was so sweet of her. She also gave us a Christmas gift, these little Christmas chocolates and a tender note to us. We are trying to work out having a family home evening with her tonight with the Mauss family.
Last week we introduced Emily Peterson (a laurel who speaks Turkish) to Inci and her son Cevik. Inci and Emily started speaking Turkish and they got so excited that Inci came up to Sister Ward and I, pulled us into a tight hug, and said "I love you so much!" We didn't get to teach her this week since Cevik has been working on finals at school, but they both came to Follow the Star (Christmas even I'll talk about) with the Peterson family, and they had Emily over for dinner the next night. Inci and Cevik are leaving for Turkey for Christmas on Friday, but they will be back in January to continue discussing about the Book of Mormon.
Follow the Star was an event mostly put on my the Mausses and Brother Shields (awesome awesome awesome member missionaries). They've been doing it every year for years, it's a live nativity of the story of Christmas with real animals, an authentic-looking scene, real baby for Jesus in the manger, and all that. It's a neat production that's about 15-20 minutes or so. So they do it 6 times each night for 3 nights, along with a set up display of nativities from around the world inside and Mormon messages of Christmas playing. The best thing ever to invite people to. And the turn out was phenomenal! Sister Ward and I alone had 2 potential investigators, 5 investigators (and one of them brought their 7 kids), a part member family, and a few less-actives all come over the course of the 3 nights. Lori couldn't make it, but she came to church yesterday so that's even better. Sean came, first time I've seen him in over 3 months, and we got to talk with him and Devoree for a while. Things are looking up with him! The Collins family came but Leslie didn't, she's still so sick and striving to recover. We still don't know many details. Charlotte came, Inci, Cevik, and a few members brought their friends. It rained last night but it was still a great experience.
Last night, at Follow the Star, Sister Ward and I also met Elder Clayton of the 70. I had no idea he was coming, it was awesome to be able to shake his hand. He just walked in, looked at my nametag, and said, "hello Sister Shumway, I'm Elder Clayton." and his voice sounded like I was listening to General Conference so I recognized him and told him how good it was to meet him. We had the usual short conversation, he asked where I was from and such, and he told me and Sister Ward that he knows our mission president. He also said he knows the next one and that he is just as wonderful as President Orgill. I never doubted that, as much as I do love President Orgill, and I know all the missionaries here do, but I didn't even think that the next one was called. Whoa.
So I am being transferred, very sad to leave but I'm at peace with it. Everything from tomorrow evening right after transfer meeting seems like a blur because I again have no idea what to expect, but I know that whatever it is it will be so much better than what I could've planned for myself. It always is. And that's true in all circumstances, Heavenly Father's will is the best way and I can't wait to find out what's in store. The ward had me bear my testimony in Sacrament meeting yesterday, Elder Forthman is also being transferred so we are leaving our greenies to take over the area with the senior companions they're bringing in. I'm fully confident they will do incredible things and see miracles here. This is what I emailed President Orgill about my companion: "Sister Ward is extraordinary. Her desire to share the gospel and work hard is contagious; her positive, loving, faithful attitude is inspiring and uplifting; and her testimony has proven to be a remarkable source of strength and power as she serves The Lord. What a privilege and a blessing it has been to train her! I love her and will miss her just as much if not more than the amazing ward here since I am being transferred." I totally mean that, Sister Ward and I have become friends and will continue to be friends of course!
Ponderizing scripture this week:
"For I am God, and mine arm is not shortened; and I will show miracles, signs, and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name. And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk. And the time speedily cometh that great things are to be shown forth unto the children of men;"

Love you! Miss you! Praying for you!
- Sister Shumway

Monday, December 7, 2015

letter from Alyssa - Dec. 7, 2015

This week was weird. I feel like we did a lot, and we did, but nothing went according to plan. Of course haha.
Tuesday we took Lori to the temple grounds and talked about the plan of salvation, the ordinances performed and the need for baptism, and of course blessings and more blessings from it all. It was a neat experience! She is starting to progress! Sister Hobbins went with us and helped SO much. She's a wonderful member missionary, and so is her husband. Lori says she wants to begin reading the Book of Mormon again, and on Friday she came to the ward Christmas party and really enjoyed it.
We have also started volunteering at the community service center and we go for an hour every Friday morning. The person we work with, Dawn, we found out lives right next door to a part-member family, the Klapps. Sister Klapp is awesome, and she's very active, though I have not met the rest of her family. She is inviting Dawn and her twin 19-year-old girls to the relief society Christmas party Wednesday (which I found out is at the Coto de Casa Valley Country Club, the biggest gated community in the world). So we will start to get to know Sister Klapp, her family, Dawn, and her daughters better altogether!
Joanie came to church!! AND she brought her daughter, Kristan, who is Elder Everett's mom (he was with me in the MTC, and he baptized Kristan since he's been out in the field). She loved it and stayed all 3 hours! She struggles to make and keep any commitments, but we have plans to go continue to teach her this week. Oh, and Kristan bore her testimony in sacrament meeting for the first time! It was a neat spiritual experience.
Inci is very very interested in the Book of Mormon. On Friday we got to teach her about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and prayer. She talks openly with us and expresses her beliefs with an open mind. We are taking Emily (laurel that speaks Turkish) with us to teach her this week. Inci also gave us real Turkish delight straight from Turkey, it was kinda weird but pretty good! Just hard to chew. And there's a lot of powdered sugar. That kind was orange, she says she's bringing pistachio next time though.
On Saturday we went to see Sister Judd and help her and her husband clean out their garage and plant flowers in their front yard. We were only planning on an hour or so, but she got really really sick suddenly, and we didn't want to leave Brother Judd alone to finish the yard, and garage, and take care of his sick wife, and the baby, and with her parents coming the next day. So we ended up staying another 5, but we got the job done and were tired after! He really really appreciated it, so that was really neat to be able to help their family. And they're bringing lots of friends to an event this weekend!
Speaking of this weekend, there's this HUGE Christmas even that hundreds of people  all over the mission come to in this area, called Follow the Star. It's a short play of the nativity, straight out of the scriptures, with real animals, children and adults playing parts, a real baby, and an authentic set up outside the church building. We are inviting EVERYONE we see, and most all our investigators, potentials, less-actives, and friends are coming and bringing friends. :D
Also this weekend we have transfer calls, the transfer day is the 15th and anything could happen. I honestly don't want to leave the area, I love it and the people here too much. But Sister Ward will have finished her training and I'll have been here for 4 months, so we will see what happens! I will know Saturday night.
This week is so so so so busy. I may have said that already but I don't remember. Tomorrow is Dad's birthday (I didn't forget I promise! Like it or not something's coming! ...but it'll be late. love you still:) and we have the Mission Christmas party that night. I'm not sure what all that entails, but sounds fun! Wednesday night is the Relief Society Christmas party, Thursday we're having a special training for Sisters (don't know what that entails either...), Friday we have breakfast at the Stake President's home again with Brother Hobbins, Friday through Sunday is Follow the Star, and everything on top of that. Whoa! It feels good to be busy as a missionary though.
Let me say it again, the ward members here are amazing. Sister Klein just got news that her cancer is back, and she came to us Sunday with a Christmas gift to break our fast, her famous and reeeeeally yummy peach bread. Sister Ranck (less-active, her daughter has a concussion) signed up to have us for dinner on Christmas. Many of the ward members have been grabbing for the dinner calendar to have us over again before transfers. The Bishop, Ward Mission Leader, and other auxiliaries are incredible supports in the missionary efforts. The primary kids come give us hugs and I have almost all their names! I have all the young women's names easy. One of the greatest and most rewarding feelings I have experienced is seeing others feel of Heavenly Father's love for them through one other, I have felt that from those around me and try everyday to pay it forward.

The church is true! Love you all!
- Sister Shumway

Sunday, December 6, 2015

letter from Alyssa - Nov. 30, 2015

I'm so glad you all had such a fun Thanksgiving! Sounds like you have EVERYTHING going on this season with Christmas and everything else too. Here's a few updates:

ponderizing scripture is 2 Nephi 32:3 (I really really liked yours too, mom) "Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." I don't remember if I already ponderized this one or not, but I obviously needed to again if so. It's one of my favorites, partially because of how familiar it is to me and the meaning it's had in my life over the years.

So, we picked up 3 new investigators since the last time I emailed you.
Carrie is Christian, we taught her the Restoration on Monday and she said she wanted to talk to her husband about it and see his thoughts. She has 3 kids ages 13, 10, and 4, they are so sweet and their family is very close. Carrie told us the reason she let us in is because she was kind of curious why her aunt converted to the Mormon faith in the last years of her life, and also because she knows we get a lot of rejection so she let us in for us to share our message. Which I thought was nice, never heard that before, and it's not the motivation we want of course but it's not a bad start.
 Inci (not sure how much I said about her, but you pronounce her name Angie) is from Turkey, living here with her son Cevik to help him find work and get into school, he's 18. Inci's husband and daughter are still in Turkey, and she'll return to live with them there in about 10 months. She's interested in the Christian religion though she's traditionally Muslim. She also speaks German, English, and Turkish so she's the one that we gave the Book of Mormon in English in Turkish. We started the Restoration with her and her son, but left off at Joseph Smith so we will pick up there this week. She found it interesting and started answering some of her own questions as she was talking about it with us!

Dante is a potential, he contacted us and wanted to set up a gospel discussion with him and 3 of his friends/roommates. That's about all I know so far, trying to work out a time.
Brother Shields (AWESOME member missionary) came over to see Allie with us (less-active). She was unavailable, but her husband, Akio, was outside putting up lights. He's Japanese and Brother Shields served his mission in Japan, so they spoke in Japanese. It was fascinating! They told me if I was a missionary in Japan I'd be called Shumway Shemai (idk if that's how you spell it, pronounced she-my). We invited him to the ward Christmas party, it was a great conversation and I really hope they come.

Leslie is still really sick. She and her husband Doug are going to Hawaii for a week to go through her mother's home, who passed away this last July. Her kids are doing ok, but the oldest, Matthew, is struggling. Not sure what with, but that's all I've been told. We keep them in our prayers and look for ways to serve.

We taught Lori! We shared a scripture from the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 4:15, and I gave her the context of the story before reading it to her. She loved it! We had planned to commit her to start the Book of Mormon from the beginning, but before we could she said, "I need to pick that up again and read it myself," I asked her what her experience was with reading the Book of Mormon. She said the Elders would come and read a chapter with her brother, Dennis, and she would just listen in, but they jumped around a lot and she doesn't remember really anything from it except that she kind of enjoyed it at the time. I told her the prophet that wrote that verse was the one who writes in the Book of Mormon at the beginning in 1 Nephi, and before I could ask her to read that she said, "Oh, that sounds like the perfect place to start! I'll do that. Could I text you if I have questions?" I wanted to hug her. As missionaries, our ultimate goal is to lead people to baptism, but one of my favorite things to do is to help or encourage anyone to read from the Book of Mormon. I feel the warm approval from the Spirit every time I see someone open that book, and even when I read it myself. Jaxson (the baby) is doing much better, he had his medicine switched so he's not throwing up nearly as much and so we still have plans to take Lori to the temple grounds tomorrow.

Liz's baptism date is obviously canceled, we've had minimal contact as much as we've tried. But we will still reach out to her of course and see what we can do.

Thanksgiving was awesome. We went to the Bishop's house first, his family has 2 marines over each year and it was neat to talk with them and the Bishop. We shared experiences and they pointed out that it's neat that we are also their age, out here away from home and family, wearing a uniform, serving others that may not even know who we are. We really enjoyed that. Then we went to Racquel Batimana's place, they have a big family and they are all so much fun! One of her brothers just turned in his mission papers last week and has his availability date for December 1st so literally any moment we should hear from her about that! He's also a really good singer and sang for us "I Stand All Amazed." We had normal thanksgiving food with Saviche, a sweet/spicy dish with tomato, cucumber, some sort of sauce, shrimp, crab, and these really thin noodles. She said Chicken Adobo is really good though and that she should make it for us sometime. Their family is so fun. Her dad is American and her mom is Filipino, we talked with them and Racquel most of the time. Then we gave her daughter, who is in her teenage years, a Book of Mormon, and she wants to read it. We have plans to go back and talk about it with her.

Saturday I got to go on an exchange with my trainer Sister Hall! She's my sister training leader this transfer and it was so awesome to show her the progress of this area and the work we're doing. I was also so grateful for the opportunity to show her that, though I didn't do so well my first 3 months and I probably made her feel at times she was failing as a trainer, especially now that I've tried so hard to improve, her work and efforts and love was not in vain. In fact, a whole lot of the blessings that people in this area are experiencing are due to her faith in me during and after my training. That was such a neat experience with her. I love Sister Ward, but I miss Sister Hall a lot too. I joked with Sister Ward since I'm training her that I'm running from my child to my mother for a day (mission language stuff).

If I think of more stuff I'll let you know! Keep up the AWESOME work and know that you are each in my prayers all the time!! (we pray, a lot... like all the time. we probably pray more than we teach.)

- Sista Shumway