It's 2016! whoa.
Ok I will try to make up for last week's short letter this week.
We are getting on top of things in this area. I'll start with the Aliso Viejo ward.
There's a part member family, Scott and Mary are not members but Scott's son (Mary's step-son) is serving a mission in Canada. But the bishop told us he was serving in Sister Phinney's home ward so he met her parents. Sister Phinney then emailed him last week and talked to him, so we decided to go meet his parents (especially since they aren't members). And we did, I think the following night. They are wonderful people! We stood at the door for a moment and Mary didn't really know what we were doing there, but then she recognized the nametag and got super excited and welcomed us in. It was a new experience for non-members to be excited to see us. Scott got excited too, and we all sat down and visited for a little over an hour. Turns out that Mary had met with the missionaries when she was 16, but didn't feel it was her time yet to become a member. Their son, Tommy, was baptized a little over 2 years ago when Scott and Mary were married and has been out in the field since June. Mary loves to receive his emails! As we talked, we found out Scott has 3 old cars he's working on, which is awesome because Sister Phinney restored an old firebird from I think the 70s. Scott is also a fireman and Sister Phinney's dad was a fireman in the past. Mary is interested in family history work, and wants us over for dinner sometime soon so we can show her family search. They also want the Elders to come move the fridge back into their kitchen once the flooring is done (it's being done today). So we are going to go back and hopefully start up the lessons with them!
Alexis is a 17-year-old less active who wants to serve a mission. We went over one night and she and her mom were also excited to see us! They said we came at the perfect time and they want to start coming to church again. This is awesome because Sister Phinney was less active for a while before her mission too, and the sister missionaries contacted her and asked her to help them teach a lesson. Now she's here.
Carol (less active) had a birthday last week. She LOVES music, especially singing and piano so I went to play her a song for her birthday, and we brought cinnamon bread for a gift. She loved it, but it was a short visit since her sister (active) came to take her out for dinner. Her sister made the comment when she found out through conversation that Carol wasn't going to church, "Oh just go, it'll make you feel better. Alright, let's go eat!"
Susan is a less active that we just met. We've been trying to contact her since both the bishop and relief society president have asked us to. We finally had a brief contact with her, but she loves visits from the missionaries and was hoping we'd come over. She's also definitely a talker so it'll be easy to become her friends.
Jennifer called us and asked when she was getting baptized. Total surprise since we haven't heard from her in 2 weeks, turns out she's just been out of town so she'll be back for us to start teaching her again this week.
Jennifer (recent convert) is working on being able to go to the temple. She had the misunderstanding that you need to wait a year before receiving a recommend (you have to wait a year to be endowed, but not for a limited use recommend). She texted us at the beginning of the week asking if we could teach her a lesson and do some service for her helping her go through some clothes. Then she took us out to dinner. It's awesome that we're gaining her trust! But anyway, before we even knew she had that misunderstanding, we were discussing what to teach her in companion study and decided to teach her about temples and invite her to the music devotional this coming sunday (the monthly thing missionaries do at the temple. Really cool. One of my big responsibilities being on the music committee.). It was awesome! We focused on the fact that it is a service since she is so so service-oriented, and that she can be one to help others, even her own family, to feel and receive what she did for herself having been recently baptized. Now we're teaching her weekly, she was baptized only 3 months ago so hopefully we can take her to the temple to do baptisms soon.
Moving to the Wood Canyon Ward, not as much happened there this week but we have sooo much to do this week.
April is a less active, but she had an extreme car accident when she was 17 that should have been impossible to walk away from, but now she's here, almost 45 years old. But she suffered brain damage and has short term memory loss. She joined the church in her early 20s and wants so badly to be a fully active member, but her mental state makes it basically impossible to be consistent. I didn't understand it until I met her, and I still don't completely understand, but it's difficult to describe her. All we do is love her, and she's so easy to love. We've helped her get to church a couple times, and what she wants more than anything is to be able to partake of the Sacrament again but with the church time change it's made things that much harder. With all this though, I have an increased understanding to a small degree of the love Jesus Christ has for her and each of us. Her desire is inspiring, her testimony is unshakable, she does not deserve the struggle she has to go through because of mortality. Many opportunities I have in this life are not available to her, and as I've visited her a part of me has brought me to my knees asking Heavenly Father if she and I could switch places because I want nothing less than the best for her. I'm looking back on this paragraph realizing it's all scattered and doesn't do the situation justice, but I have not understood the power of the Atonement of our Savior and the reality of it as strongly as I have with her. Sister Phinney seconds that all the way. I'll talk more of her in other emails.
Sister Fusco could really really use some prayers. She is active, her family is not, I don't know all the details but basically she has cancer, her family (specifically one of her children and her husband/kids) are making things really hard on her, a lot of their responsibilities are falling on their shoulders and the way she puts it is that there is a lot of contention in her home. She is always always serving, and a devoted missionary, I wish I could introduce you to her. She always helps me feel encouraged to go work and she is exemplary in bearing her burdens with grace and patience.
I'm a little nervous with this coming Tuesday because I have been asked to give a training on obedience. I've given trainings before, but usually to do with teaching or key indicators or more result-driven missionary stuff we do. And with what I've expressed in past emails the nature of this zone compared to my last one. The last thing I want is for it to become a lecture from me on how self-righteous I am. I will be straightforward when it comes to the standards, especially in situations that come up, and Sister Phinney and I are getting better at it too, but I'm the only one (aside from my companion) not in leadership (I've been asked to give it alone). I am praying and fasting in preparation to really bring out the purpose of sparking the desire in other missionaries to be obedient. It's kind of like the concern I had giving a talk on mother's day, not wanting to be insensitive or stepping over my line of authority in any way, especially with my lack of experience. I hope it goes well and will let you know how it goes.
Changes are being made in the mission. Standards are more exactly stressed (yes!!!!!), transfer meetings are no longer being held, and more things we don't yet know about. I'll let you know more about that soon.
New Year's Eve was fun, we had to be in early (like we did for Halloween) so the zone got together at a church building (where the youth dance was not being held) and played basketball and frisbee. I'm getting pretty good at ultimate frisbee, and made a lot of 'touchdowns' today. I know it's not football, but I thought of Ty every time :D that's probably the closest I can come to being as awesome as him in that field (...get it?). Sister Phinney and I were the only ones to leave in time to be in by curfew. Other than that, I did go to sleep at the normal time (for the first time I can remember on new year's eve!) but you're right! I didn't miss new year's in Texas haha!
So with the time changes we are at church from 7:30am-4:30pm. Yesterday we felt pretty accomplished but also worn out. We'll get used to it though.
Ponderizing scripture: “And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.”
Last night at dinner the family's 4 year old girl, Sadie, was excited to have the girl bishops over.
We were at Chelsea's house the other night for dinner. She's 22 and she has cancer, I don't know the details but she didn't get sick until a couple years ago. She goes to UVU though and is so fun to talk to. She's going to become an ASL interpreter! So even though she speaks English and she's hearing I'm going to see if I can sign to her on Sunday and practice. Not a lot of people talk to her since it's just her and her mom, and she has lots of restrictions because of her health. But she does not let that get to her, we had a really enjoyable night with them.
OK hope you have an absotively posolutely fantabularistic week! Love ya!
- Sister Shumway