Wow I feel like I just received a huge hug after reading each of your emails!
Update on the work and the week -
On monday I was on exchanges with Sister Baker (MTC companion) and Sister Atchley (her current companion) for most of p-day since Sister Hawkins had a long hair appointment an Sister Wimmer could stay at the Ulta store all day. So they went and I was with the first 2 sisters I mentioned all day long except at dinner. Then that night we exchanged and I stayed in Las Flores with Hermana de Haan and my companions went to other areas. Then Tuesday night we exchanged again and I stayed in Las Flores with Sister Hobbs, with my companions in other areas. So I basically started out the first half of the week 3 days straight without my regular companions. Longest I've gone by far! It was different but so much fun! Sometimes exchanges seem a little tedious to plan and prepare for, and even thinking about going out to do the work since one missionary doesn't know the area and yeah basically it weighs as kind of a burden looking forward to them, but then exchanges always turn out so well and so much fun! I learn a lot, it's like a spiritual boost even though it can be hard. Can't really explain it, and don't know entirely why, but I do know it contributed a lot to a great week.
We finally met with Carrie again! I think the first time this transfer. She's kind of flaky, she'll make solid commitments and it's clear she understands them, and I have so much confidence in her with each lesson, and then she doesn't show up to church or read or things like that. But we are loving her and working with her. We think we've made progress in having her commit to help her son, Quincy, keep his commitments (that way she will too). She really does want to do that, I think she cares a lot more for him than she does for herself. She's expressed that in a way that she basically doesn't care what happens to her, she just wants her son to be happy and successful. He wants to be baptized and serve a mission. And he reads the Book of Mormon. The biggest challenge is just getting them to church. But we had a good lesson this last week still!
Zone Training Meeting was great. The zone leaders asked me to give a training on inviting the Spirit in all aspects of the work. I thought it was a pretty intimidating topic since there's sooo much (almost too much) to work with, so I focused on inviting the Spirit in finding and inviting people to listen to the message we have to share (so basically in contacting/tracting). I started off by introducing the training and asking the missionaries to find the principles in the things we would study and practice that they could apply to all aspects of the work themselves. It was fantastic, one of the best ones I got to do. And most of it wasn't even me! (that's probably why:) there was a lot of discussion and then participation in the following role play. We practiced promising blessings of the gospel that we've experienced in our lives on a doorstep. I challenged them to find a different approach with every individual they talk to next time they go contacting, and to list out their blessings they've received from the gospel beforehand. Tied it together with my testimony and contacting this week has been a fun experience! It's neat that there's still new things to try and opportunities to step out of your comfort zone in ways you hadn't thought of before even at this point in the mission.
We caught Annika (less-active) at home, and guess what? She quit smoking! She did it by starting vaping... but she's working on getting off that now too. She talked with us for over an hour and I think the more time we spend with her the closer she'll come to wanting to have the Spirit in her life more. She feels a ton of guilt and hopelessness with mistakes she's felt in the past, but we are helping her to feel loved and when we do, she sometimes says things that highlight her own testimony of truths in ways she probably doesn't yet realize. So cool.
One of the best parts of the week: I got to teach seminary on wednesday! Sister Hobbs was with me and thrown into it last second so we had hardly any time to coordinate teaching together, and also she wasn't feeling to great at the start of the day so I was mostly on my own. But I got so excited! We talked about missionary work and the Atonement, quoting from Preach My Gospel in the first chapter where it says that as our understanding of Jesus Christ's Atonement increases, so does our desire to share the gospel. Probably my very favorite line in the whole thing. We then tied it to missionary work of course and discussed Elder Oaks' talk from the last conference. We challenged the students to do the 3 things he said would work for any member missionary. It was awesome! Best way to start the day! No wonder it was such a great day. (Then I got a few minutes to say hello later :) sorry I was so awkward haha... I was just so happy:)
So our plans/expectations were totally flipped upside-down when I got a call from the assistants on friday and they said, "Sister Shumway, on behalf of President Clark, would you be willing to accept the call/assignment to train next transfer?" I almost asked them if they knew I was already training, but I just accepted it and that's all I knew for the next day and a half. Crazy! That was the 2nd to last thing we expected to happen. (First was if they decided to transfer all 3 of us out. Thankfully they didn't do that. But We thought for some reason that if anyone was getting transferred it'd probably be Sister Wimmer) We threw around a bunch of ideas, like maybe I would re-open Dana Point and Capistrano (my first area, no longer sisters there for now) or finish Sistre Crosset's training and go back to Live Oak Canyon with her. Or train Sister Van Den Bron, a sister who went home last year and is coming back. We had no idea. Then transfer calls came the next night and we still don't have the entire story but we have most of it. I am being transferred for my last transfer! I'm going to the Newport Coast YSA ward to be companions with Sister Edgar AND a new missionary. That's the part of the story we don't yet know, I have no idea who the new missionary is yet, not even her name. Sister Edgar just finished her training, which means she's been out for 3 months, or 2 transfers. Why they want to pull me out of a training trio and put me in a new one in an entirely different area? No idea. But I guess that's where I'm supposed to be! This means I'll have served in every single zone in the mission except for Irvine (funny, the zone the mission is named after) (I've served in San Clemente, Rancho Santa Margarita, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, even Spanish, and now Newport Beach). I've never served in Newport, and I've never served in YSA, it'll all be so new and probably fly by.
Because I'm leaving, we got big plans coming up! Last night Brother Holiday made us this Finnish dessert from his mission because of the special occasion that I was being transferred. It was weird, but not bad, like melted strawberry flavored whipped cream. It's so fun to try new things. Today we have dinner at the Galbraiths (less-actives that asked us to come for dinner before I go, best cook I've ever met), they're making us a Korean BBQ. Tomorrow we were going to get together with Stacy (less-active) be she has to leave out of town last minute. And the best part is that Sister Smith wants us to come and teach seminary tomorrow before I go! :D It's going to be a fun week, I hardly even know what to expect.
By the way, thankyou Grandma and Grandpa and Mom Earl and Dad Earl for your letters and emails! I can feel your love and prayers and I wish I could express to you how much that means to me! I think of you EVERYDAY and look forward to seeing you again, and I'm sooooo grateful for your encouragement and support and love!
Love you :)
- Sister Shumway