Monday, November 7, 2016

letter from Alyssa - Nov. 7, 2016

Casan stop growing. That's not allowed. Unless you give me a piggy-back ride home from the airport in a few weeks then that's fine.

Wow this week has been GREAT. Thanks for sending that story Dad! It worked perfectly for my training in district meeting last week.
So starting with an update on the work -
Tara (investigator) got to meet with President this last week. She came to church and the music devotional last night, she's on fire. She'll be out of town starting Thanksgiving until after new year's so we reset her baptism date for January 14th, I'm going to friend her on Facebook and keep up with her when I get back.

Randallyn was baptized! Her mom and her mom's boyfriend came to see it too. It was a really neat service. A lot of the YSA came to support! One of them, Sabrina, has been a life-saver. She's been driving Yessica and Sierra to things for us from UCI (2 of our investigators), and she brought another friend of her own with her this time! We have yet to follow up.

I've never been in an area where so many people are searching us out and finding us. The tables have turned a little on that. Karla was baptized about a year ago and recently moved here for school, she hadn't been to church in a while since she's the only member in her family and just got here, but she talked to the Chinese elders that she saw walking by one day and they referred her to us. She made it to church yesterday and we talked in ward council about extending a calling to her. She's awesome.

Yessica came to church for the first time! She's on track to be baptized in December.

Tanya came to church for the first time as well! She actually really liked it, even though she's told us she's not looking to get baptized (yet). She also came to the music devotional, took a temple grounds tour, and really enjoyed it. We have another lesson and dinner with her and Brenda (her friend/fellowshipper) this week.

Leila walked into the temple and asked to speak to a priest. The temple presidency came and talked with her, and they contacted President Clark since she's not a member. He called us and referred her number and information to us to contact her and find out more about what we could do for her. We're working on it and doing all we can on our side, including keeping her in our thoughts and prayers to find her.
The cool thing is that she's supposedly married with a kid or 2, we don't have an address, so I don't mean this in a prideful way but it's pretty cool that since we don't yet know which missionaries should technically be teaching her yet, President chose to call on us. It is an honor to be on call to help him in any way, even when we're already busy.

Ashley (less-active) is doing good. She almost came to the baptism on saturday but couldn't make it. Wednesday we had a good lesson on me helping her beat Sister Ferrel in chess. And a scripture to go with it of course.

Sierra is golden. We're still waiting for her to talk to her family. She really wants them to come and support her being baptized, not just be okay with it. So it may be a little while before she is baptized but she's reading and praying and fellowshipping some of our other investigators to keep her going. We're probably going to ask her for a referral soon, it's like she's already a member.

Guess what Landon? We did service at helping a band competition by directing people where to park. Afterwards we watched a few of the marching bands. They were tiny and nothing like Texas performances, one was pretty good, but still the whole thing reminded me of you and Tyler and going to football games/competitions and it was a fun experience.

Church yesterday was amazing. We had 4 investigators (Yessica, Tara, Sierra, Tanya), 1 recent convert confirmed (Randallyn), and a less-active come (Peau) who wants to return to activity and just needs help. President Galland (mission presidency) came and met them all, and stood and bore his testimony. Sister Ferrel bore her testimony too. The meeting was powerful. 
Also, in ward council, our ward mission leader, relief society president, and bishop all found out exactly when I'm going home. I never was trying to hide it, but never brought it up myself (it was funny, our WML Ryan had asked me before how long I'd been out and I said, 'Oh, about a year and a half.' And he was like, 'Oh, ok cool.' forgetting in that moment that sisters didn't serve 2 years until just then.). And this is the 7th ward I've served in, the only YSA ward, and it'll be for only a transfer, I thought there was no way I was getting to know anyone well enough (though of course that was no reason to slacken my efforts) before leaving. But their reaction touched me almost to tears. They were just as sad about me leaving as if I had been serving there my entire mission. I felt so loved, with as many move-ins/outs as they have in YSA, and all the busy schedules everyone has, and especially since I'm just another missionary, I could feel that they meant what they said when they said I would be missed.

And if that wasn't the nicest thing that's happened to me in this area, check out what happened at the music devotional. Tanya, Sierra, and Tara came, and I saw many members of wards I'd served in before, and one of the YSA members brought ANOTHER new friend that we set an appointment with this week to start the lessons (thank goodness for my companions for keeping that part of the show running while I ran the devotional!), on top of all that Heavenly Father did something so nice for me. I've told you I've had some of the coolest experiences as a missionary with the piano right? This one tops them all. I was asked to play the piano since it was my last devotional. I played "If You Could Hie to Kolob" with Elise Esplin, the young woman from the Mission Viejo stake who is one of the most accomplished violinists I've ever heard. She was phenomenal. The song is 6 pages, so I had the last 4 on the stand and the first 2 covering in front. I marked a certain part in the music that I had a moment to reach up and pull those 2 pages off so I could play the rest of the song. I'd practiced it so many times since this wasn't the first time I'd used this song. But this time, in the middle of performing it, the piece was going extremely well (one of those times it goes better than you practiced :D ) until I pulled the second page WITH THE PAGE BEHIND IT by accident and dropped it on the floor. I had to keep going, but I was missing the last page. While playing, I glanced around to find where the page landed, but couldn't find it. My heart sunk especially since it was my last devotional and I had so many friends there including missionaries, investigators, and member friends from all throughout my mission. Then the page was suddenly back on the stand of the piano. A man jumped up to the stand silently from the audience, found the right page and put it in the perfect spot just in time. He patted my shoulder encouragingly and left. Immediately I offered a prayer of gratitude and a plea for help that this experience would invite the Spirit to touch someone who needed it. I finished the piece in confidence, smiling the whole time feeling like someone was giving me a hug. The hardest parts I had struggled through before came easily and I wish you could hear it, I literally had a front row seat to watching, listening, and feeling the Spirit play through me what I could not have done myself. This whole experience was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father through someone else! I ran up to him right after the devotional and thanked him, telling him it was the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me. All the compliments afterward were appreciated and meant a lot, but the feeling of love from Heavenly Father could not be compared.

You guys are the BEST! Surprising me with an orange package?? :D That was so much fun!! Casan, I keep the mimic me on my desk by my scerptures :>  Those pictures especially got me so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am cheering you guys on Landon and Tyler! Or Elder Shumway and Elder Shumway! The snacks were so fun to try and share, you're all so creative and know how to make me smile :) :) :) THANKYOU!!

I love you all :)
- Sister Shumway

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