First off … HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUSTIN AND DADDY!!! Hope it was the best!! I love you both!!!!!!
Well ... Christmas was just about the best day ever talking to the cutest family on planet earth. I MISS YOU GUYS … but want to thank you for all of the incredible support and love! McKay … you are my example with the mission prep you are doing with your pals! Keep it up and study and strengthen your testimony all you can! You will never regret it. And ... tell your pals to not question the mission, JUST DO IT! No matter where they are at in their life spiritually Heavenly Father needs them and loves them! Also, Em and Justin and Parks and Cass … you are just TOO CUTE!!! You guys kill me and I love you all! Chariton you are just always the sweetest guy on planet earth. I sure do love you and can’t wait to give you a big hug champ! Mom and Dad … I LOVE YOU BOTH … and thank you for helping us all get to where were are now in our lives. You are both pretty stinkin’ incredible!
I thought a lot about what you asked me during our call about something I learned or would have changed in these last six months and I think this phrase in my scriptures sums it up: You only regret the chances you didn't take. That couldn't be more true. Sometimes we are too scared to do something, or we don't feel ready ... but we should take chances and shoot for the challenges because those are the times we grow most. So what I what I learned these last few months is just that: TAKE MORE CHANCES! It is worth it.
So this Christmas time here in Talara was beautiful … and hot. Yes ... I prayed for snow but nothing happened. But it was fun being next to the beach! On Christmas Eve we went and sang in the main plaza of Talara. We had made matching skirts as hermanas and the elders matching ties. Turned out classy, right? We sang Christmas hymns, a special musical number of a compilation of catchy Christmas songs in English and Spanish, and contacted everyone that gathered around to watch! We received many references that night and found many new families! After our district got invited to a member's home to eat a typical Talara Christmas Dinner, which includes noodles, paneton (a huge round bread with fruit snacks in it), chicken, and you guessed it ... RICE. It was delicious! It is actually pretty sketchy this night so we made sure to get back at a decent hour. (9:30pm was the rule for all missionaries! My comp and I crashed (well more like I accidentally fell asleep as I sat down on my bed for a sec) when we got home and got a good night sleep prepping for Christmas day!
Christmas morning we woke up around 6:00am and headed to the beach as a district to have a gift exchange. We had a quick gift exchange ... I received nifty binoculars to see the beach better and bubbles and took some beautiful beach pics! Then we got back in time for our studies, 8:00am-9:00am personal study, 9:00am-10:00am comp study, and then had our weekly planning which filled up the rest of the morning. Then we ate lunch with our pencionista and went out to our lessons. No one was home which is pretty typical on Christmas … but we were able to contact many people in the street. Then we went to Skype with our families! Lights went out right when I got on but luckily they came back on a little bit later. It was so great seeing you all! Then we came home, planned, and went to bed.
And that sums up Christmas Eve and Christmas in the mission! It was fun and such a treasure being a representative of my Savior Jesus Christ during this time.
Also, we had our Leadership Counsel this last week. We learned a lot about faith and trusting that we can work miracles. It was wonderful being in a meeting with the zone leaders and President Rasmussen and his wife. They are all such examples to me and are such powerful missionaries.
Our Zone Meeting was also this last week. As Hermana Leaders we had the chance to teach a part of the meeting. We discussed the importance of setting goals and I testify of this principle! Wow ... it has helped me SO MUCH in my mission and overall in life. It gives you a vision and a goal you want to reach. Our Zone Leaders Elder Antonio and Elder Rojas also helped motivate us as a zone to not lose faith. It was a great meeting!
Our Branch here in Talara is hanging in there. Sadly, this last week it was the lowest church attendance they have seen in a long time. It might be because of the holidays because everyone travels, but my comp and I realized we need to step it up a notch! We are thinking of new activities, ideas, and ways to help this branch grow into a ward. It has been hard, and even stressful at times, but I hope to leave it better then I found it!
So far we have found one new investigator named Angelo. He is 15 years old and we found him knocking doors. He just casually let us in but now seems to really have interest in our message. His Dad was even secretly listening from the kitchen, so maybe we might start teaching the whole fam! You never know! But we will keep you updated on him!
Overall Talara is doing great! We are not seeing all the results we want right now but we aren’t letting that get us down. It is killing us that we don’t have many investigators but I know that if we are obedient and work hard we will see miracles.
I love this work! This was my second Christmas in the mission and I am set on staying for a third (just kidding Mom.). It is just the most incredible and rewarding work in the world ... even when it is hard. I love my Savior and I love wearing his name on my shirt every day.
I know this church is true and I know that Heavenly Father loves us all so incredibly much. Be good and do what's right! Here we come 2016!!!
XOXO, Hermana Shumway
It's Christmas!!! Me and Hermana Valencia
Caroling in the plaza as a zone ... we had these nifty skirts made for the hermanas and festive ties made for the elders
Selfie in the plaza
Christmas morning on the beach for our gift exchange
Breaking out the inner gangsta with my comp
So sweet to see this dear member family waiting to Skype their hermana serving in Colombia … made my heart so happy
Skyping with the family!!!
Putting our gangsta faces on ... hahaha
Another pic of my beautiful comp Hermana Valencia and I
Mission Council with the President
Having fun taking pics ... I love all these missionaries so much!
District shadow selfies ... I love the beach!
Overlooking my beautiful city Talara
"El Cristo" that overlooks the valley
My foot next to "El Cristo"
On the viewing deck of "El Cristo"
Me and Hermana Valencia with "El Cristo"
I met this little monkey who wanted to hold my hand
He was such a cutie