Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ang Huling Linggo!!!

Hey everyone! I can't believe that this is the last letter that I'm going to get to write as a missionary! I know everyone says this but the time as gone by so fast; I don't know what happened. It's crazy to think that I only get to go out and work 4 more days and then it's all over. I'm just going to keep giving it all I’ve got until the end... It's really been an amazing experience.

I'll apologize right now if I'm not able to replay to every ones emails but everyone in the family decided to write me this week so now I don't have time to reply. Plus there is a funeral at the normal internet shop so we had to go to another one and it took me 30 minutes just to log in... oh well, I guess I can just talk to you all in a week.

Of course I'm excited to come home and see everyone and get to take a hot shower, but I'm sure going to miss doing this work. There is so much awesome stuff happening in our area right now and I'm going to miss it all; it's really a bummer. I'm excited to start home teaching though when I get home. I'm just hoping that the Lord won't wait to long to give me some kind of assignment. There really isn't anything better than serving others and serving the Lord :)

My companion and I have been having some awesome companionship studies this week and we have been learning about getting the branch leaders more involved in our work. This week we decided to give it a shot and it really paid off. Our branch president lives really far away but we felt like we really needed to go visit him at his house. It took a lot of time out of our work but now we have a better understand of how we can help him and how he wants to help us. While we talked, he gave us a few names of people that he thinks we should visit that have gone inactive. The Spirit told us that we need to change our schedule and go visit one person in particular. We found her pretty easily, but she was really hesitant to talk with us; thinking that we were going to chastise her or something.

After talking for a while, we got her trust and she was willing to listen to a message and she even invited her friend. The lesson was simple but awesome because her friend has a ton of questions that no one can answer... except us :) So the Lord is totally guiding this work and led us to an inactive and a non member that had been searching a long time for the truth.

I'm excited I'm going to finally get to tell all of you all the other things that have happened these last two years; I've never had time to really explain anything. I have loved my mission and I have loved this time that I was able to serve the Lord. These two years have changed who I am and what I want to do in this short life we have. We are SOOOOO blessed to have this gospel in our life! I've see the gospel change lives and it really will bring us true happiness if we learn it, live it, and apply it.

I know that this is the church of Jesus Christ. He leads and guides His church through His prophet. I know that He is our Savior and Redeemer and that he lives. He is the ONLY way. It is by Him and through Him that one day we can return to our Father in Heaven and receive his greatest gift; eternal life. I love this gospel. I'm so grateful for the help and direction it gives us if we live it and it’s been an amazing two years sharing it with the people here in the Philippines :) Love you all!

Love, Elder Smith

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sayang na malapit na ang paguwi ko!

Things are great in our area! We are having a lot of success and I wish I had more time to see all these people progress and be baptized. I'm lucky though because I'll get to see Jimmy and Dominico get baptized on Saturday. Right now, we are trying to focus on referrals and trying to get the members to help us in our work; it's going good but sometimes it's a little slow haha. In our companion studies, we have been learning about effective ways to get members involved in the missionary work and I really feel like it is something we need to take advantage of in this area. The members are great and love the missionaries, they just need a little push and I know that the work will explode in this area.

On Sunday, all of our investigators weren't home so we started going to a few members and inactives. We had some good work but weren't having the success we wanted which was a little disappointing. We were just about done for the day when we felt impressed to talk to one more person while walking by their house. They are going to be gone for two weeks but they are really interested in the gospel and have really been prepared by the Lord. They are so interested that they had us come back Monday morning to teach them before they left and then promised to come to church in two weeks.

This week I had one of the coolest experiences of my mission. Way back in my second area, we taught and baptized Cherry Ocampo. And this week I had the chance to see her go through the Temple for her endowments; it was awesome! She is a super strong member and she has wanted to enter the Temple ever since she was baptized. It was a huge blessing to be there at the Temple to support her. While at the temple, I found out that that old area is doing awesome. The membership is so good there that they are going to build a new stake center and a Bishop’s Store House there. It will be the first Bishop's Store House in the Philippines! That was my favorite area so it's awesome to see whats happened there. The work really is moving along here and it's awesome to be a part of it! :)

Love, Elder Smith

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grabe, malapit na ang pag-uwi ko!

This week was awesome! We were walking down the street earlier this week when we had someone call us over so we went and talked to her. She isn't a member but her son is a convert that has been on a mission for about six months. She just moved into our area, but wanted to know if her son had sent any mail to the church for her back in her old area. We did a little service to help her out and got in contact with the other branch. From that little bit of service, she really started to like us and started letting us teach her. We have only been able to teach her twice, but she has now been to church, believes that this is the true church, and wants to get baptized! It's was awesome how the Lord literally just put her in our path.

On Sunday last week, we went and worked with the branch president and a few other members to contact some inactive members. We went to one member who is the only member in his family and we also got to teach his wife. His wife has been taught before, but was never baptized because she doesn't want to leave the church that she is currently in. Every time we taught her, she agreed with the doctrine but I didn't feel like we were really hitting the topic that needed to be discussed. In our nightly planning one night, we saw that we had another appointment with her the following day and figured we would just discuss the apostasy and Joseph Smith a little more with her. However, our plans changed a little after we had companionship study.

In our companionship study, we discussed teaching people and not teaching lessons. I always try to do that, but that particular morning I felt the spirit tell me that I can do more. In our lesson with her, I strived more intently to listen to the spirit to know the things that I should say. At first my mind was pretty much blank but after a few minutes the inspiration came. After talking with her for about 30 minutes and asking what the spirit wanted me to ask, she admitted that she knows that this is the only church with the priesthood of God. I was really surprised when she said that but she still didn't want to get baptized.

I continued to listen to the spirit and eventually the real concern began to come out. In her religion, women can be called as a prophet or priest but in our church she wouldn't be allowed to hold the priesthood. That’s the last thing I would have thought of! I'm so grateful that God knows the concerns of His children and directs this work and told me what this sister needed to hear.

During the whole lesson, she was also complaining of some serious pain in her head from an accident a few years ago. My companion and I both felt the spirit say that we needed to give her a blessing, so we did. At the end of the blessing, she said it felt like a stone had been removed from her head. It was pretty cool that we not only talked about the priesthood with her, but she experienced the evidence of it for herself.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, August 8, 2011


Good news, I got a map of our area! This area is like a maze and it's been driving me crazy trying to find places without a map, but I think I've got the layout of the area down pretty good now. I'm loving this area! I've really been blessed to have been assigned in this area the last transfer of my mission. The members are doing all that they can to help us and even when there isn't a lot that they can do, the Lord leads us straight the people we should talk to. I don't think I can't count how many times we were walking this week and felt impressed to change our direction or talk to a specific person and had great things happen because of it.

On Saturday, we were walking down the street when I felt like we need to go talk to a tatay. I kind of hesitated for a minute thinking about how we had somewhere else we needed to go, but after a while of standing there I realized I needed to follow the spirit rather than what I thought was best. The tatay let us in and the mom started asking us what the difference was between our church and the Catholic church. I had my companion answer her question and one thing he said was we don't use memorized prayers. When he said that she started agreeing with us that there are some things in her church that aren't in harmony with the the teaching in the Bible.

I talked to her for a while and found out that she used to go to our church before she got married. She said that she felt different when she went to our church and she wants us to come back so she can know the truth. It was a pretty sweet experience and we had a lot more like it throughout the week.

We also have three families that we found this week and we have been teaching them. They are some of the investigators that I have really high hopes for and this week we found out that the three families are related to each other. It will be sweet if they get baptized because they will have their brothers, sister, and their families all there at church supporting one another. Things are going great here and I love doing the work of the Lord!!!

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grabe ang bagong area ko!

It's been a crazy few days, even more crazy than usual. I got my new companion, fresh from the MTC. His name is Elder Partridge and he is from Utah. It was an interesting start to the new transfer, considering I didn't even know where our area was. We started work on Friday with no idea where to even begin. We got on a jeepney and just told him to let us off at Carissa, my new area. We somehow found the right place and started work right away. I love this area already! It just feels like there are a lot of people here waiting to hear the gospel.

When we got off the jeepney and started into the area, we found a nanay carrying a lot of bags so we offered to help. While we were helping her carry the stuff, we found out that her husband is an inactive member and she hasn't been baptized! We got her address and will hopefully talk to her later this week. We helped her to the trice then continued into our area where we were let into the first house we stopped at.

The area is pretty small but there are still a lot of people that say they haven't met missionaries. On Saturday, we returned to the area and kept on trying to find new investigators. While walking, someone called us over who we later found out is a member, it was a huge relief to finally find a member that could help us. He was kind enough to take us to another member who explained the layout of our area and took us to meet some other important members and told us where the church was. You have no idea how hard it is inviting people to church when you don't even know yourself where the church is haha, so finding the members was a HUGE relief to me.

The members in this area are AMAZING! It's just a branch but they are so strong and want to do the Lord's work. We even have a branch mission leader! When we got to the church on Sunday, he came up to me with a list of all the members and had highlighted all the inactive and marked a few part member families. I'm really excited to see what we can get done in this area; it's going to be great, and the Lord is already blessing us in our efforts :)

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ang huling Transfer!

Oh man I can't believe it! It's already my last transfer! It's going to be really crazy too this transfer. I wanted to train my last transfer, because there are 27 new missionaries coming in but there was very little chance that would happen because they want me as a zone leader, but I guess the Lord had other plans for me.

I was talking to Elder Afaga the other day, one of the APs, and he said they were talking about who should train when they came across my name and and they said no I shouldn't, that I was "the last person" they would pick to train, but I'll be picking up my anak tomorrow morning.

They decided to have me go to an area that has been closed for almost a year so we will be starting with nothing. I've never shot gunned before so this is going to be a really interesting six weeks. The church has also come out with this new program for trainers that is going to take a ton of effort but should have great results in training.

Last time I trained, I just kind of did whatever I thought was best, but now they have outlined exactly what a new missionary needs to be taught for the first 12 weeks of his mission and I'm the one to teach it to him. One of the big changes is in companionship study. Normally, we have an hour for personal study, then for companion study, and then for language study. But now we have two hours for companion study and a DVD player to watch training movies; it's going to be crazy but I'm super excited! I don't even know where to begin so I'm going to be doing some serious praying now until 11:00 am tomorrow... and then probably until September haha. I heard that my companion isn't Filipino or American so I'm excited to find out who he is tomorrow.

Other than that, it's been a super busy week. We had a lot of baptisms this week; five total and I got to interview four of them while the district leader interviewed our investigator. It's amazing how strong these people are even though they have only been taught for a few weeks. It's really awesome how the Spirit will testify to people and they are willing to act on that impression of the Holy Ghost. Well I love you all. Thanks for all your prayers. Kita kits.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hello everyone,

I've had a great past few days. I can't believe how fast time is going by. When I was at the temple the other day I got my "going home X-ray" and then I was at the office the other day doing some stuff for the zone and they gave me my flight plans to go home!!! I was shocked! I was like, what is this, I've still got lots of time. It's crazy how fast this mission as gone by. I was looking at the flight plan and it says that I'll go to Atlanta, Georgia and then my last stop is in Tennessee! I like to visit new places but I really don't want to go to Tennessee. I guess there is a Tri-City airport there so they got things mixed up; hopefully I'll end up in Pasco in the end :)

Church was great. We had a lot of investigators come; some that we have been pushing to go to church for months and they finally came. We also had some good speakers so everything went great. I think the Ward piano player is trying to make me his assistant though. He is always telling me to play and I usually do for Priesthood, but I'm no good at Hymns so I always tell him no for sacrament meeting. But on Saturday, he told me he wouldn't be at church so I had to play...I did alright. I'm not the best at piano and there is no time for me to practice so I'm basically trying to sight read. It's ok though, most people sing so off key that it doesn't matter what I play haha.

I also had to play at two baptisms on Saturday, straight sight reading, it was pretty rough. At one of the baptisms, the members were already singing the opening hymn when a missionary told me to play piano, even if it was just right hand. So I started to play but it sounded horrible so I stopped. I realized it wasn't me playing the wrong notes; it was just the members being so far off key that the piano sounded bad with them haha. So I started playing super loud and eventually they adjusted to me.

One of the coolest things was playing with a violinist. After the baptism we just played a few hymns together and it was sweet. Oh man I miss music. Other than that, things are going great. We have some great investigators who are really close to being baptized. They have just a few concerns, but I know the Lord will help them. I love you all and thank you for all your prayers.

Love, Elder Smith