Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hey everyone,

For those of you who don’t already know, I was told on Tuesday to pack my bags and get on a plane. So now I’m in my new area in Palawan! When the plane started to get close to the island, I could see nothing but green mountains and a big blue ocean. This place is so different than my last area. My area is a two hour drive away from the main city and it’s right on the ocean. When we were driving here, it reminded me of driving in the mountains back home to go camping; just a small two lane road winding through the hills. There are some differences though like it’s a jungle next to the road and not pine trees. My new companion is Elder Hopkins and I’m really excited to start working later on and see what the Lord has in store for the people here.

I became the district leader here but I'm a little worried, because everyone loved the last district leader and I don't know how to do what he did. But I'm trying to trust in the Lord. They said his work was the best in the mission and they put me here because my work was good and I can keep up the work he did. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I will do my best.

Before I left my old area, we were able to see one more person be baptized. I’m kind of sad that I won’t be able to go back for the baptisms of all my other investigators; it was a really good area and the Lord is really blessing it. That’s about all that’s going on here. I just want to let you know that I know this is the true church and the only way to have eternal happiness. I’ve been blessed to see this gospel change so many peoples' lives for all of eternity.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hello family and friends,

Can you believe it’s already almost Christmas?! I thought we were just starting December. I heard you guys got some more snow; that's always one of my favorite things during Christmas. One thing that is really big here is for the kids to go around singing Christmas Chorals. They make instruments out of just about any object such as pop bottles, whistles, or tin cans with rocks in them. The only difference here is you give them a little money when they sing to you. We've had little kids almost chase us trying to get our money. We also have fireworks for Christmas. As missionaries, of course we can't have any, but everyone is starting to light them at night so we get to enjoy them.

We have a lot of progressing investigators in our area thanks to the Lord. We were teaching a lesson to our investigators who are about 23 years old, and when we asked them if they prayed about Joseph Smith like we asked them to, one of them told us he did pray, but just got confused after he prayed. I was a little confused that he would say that and not say the spirit had touched him. We asked why he was confused when he prayed and I think his answer was a little funny. He told us when he prayed, he felt like someone was punching him in the chest. We are now helping him realize how the spirit can touch us and he is now starting to realize that it was the spirit that touched him.

We also have some recent converts in our area who are good active members, but their children haven't been baptized yet so we started teaching them a few weeks ago. One of their daughters just lost her job, but now she has time to listen to the lessons and go to church so I see it as being a blessing. We were teaching her and I asked her why she goes to church and she told us of how she didn't like her family before, because her dad was always drinking and they weren't close to one another. She said after her dad got baptized, her family changed and they are happy now. I've known this family for five months and it's amazing to see the changes that have taken place in their family as the mom and dad accepted the gospel and how their children and cousins are beginning to accept the gospel now too. The gospel has greatly impacted their family and really blessed them. I love you all and Merry Christmas! :)

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kamusta po kayo,

Another week down that flew by for me. We were busy all week teaching people and getting ready for a baptism of one our investigators. On Saturday, we were able to see Melanie get baptized which was great. We had been teaching her for a few months, but she was having trouble gaining a strong enough testimony to be baptized. Of course we can't give her a testimony, so we really focused on prayer and reading the scriptures so she could know for herself.

We decided to do a review lesson about Joseph Smith to help her. When we finished the lesson, we asked her if she had any questions. We were a little surprised with the questions she asked us. She asked us how many times she would need to go to church so she could get baptized. We were shocked so we asked her if she wanted to get baptized and she said yes. She had already heard all the doctrine and been to church four times so we just had to get her interviewed. She hasn’t been confirmed yet because of Stake Conference, but she was really excited to get baptized. It amazes me how quickly the Lord will bless our investigators with a testimony if they are willing to ask sincerely.

We had one day this week that didn't go too well. No one was home for our appointments, and we felt like we had just walked around all day without getting a lot accomplished. Both of us felt completely drained of energy so we were heading home for the night, but still had about 15 minutes before the end of the day. So I tried to keep working just a little longer.

I tried talking to a few people on the street but they didn't want to hear anything which is always very discouraging. I tried a group of people as a last attempt before going home. To my surprise, they invited us to come back in a few days. They didn't seem too excited, but we went to our appointment with them and to our surprise again, one of the men had read everything we gave him and he basically taught us the restoration. I also take it as a good sign when they can explain the two types of priesthood to you. We have only taught him three times but he wants to be baptized if he receives a testimony. He is definitely someone whom the Lord has prepared.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hello po sa inyo lahat,

It has been an amazing week! I wrote last week about a referral that the spirit prompted us to go to and this week they are progressing really well. We taught them about knowing if this is the true church and they said they want to get baptized if they receive a testimony. The Lord is really blessing us with our investigators and guiding them to us or us to them.

About a month ago, a guy was riding his bike as we walked past his house and he stopped to ask us who we were. We taught him a few lessons then he invited his brother to listen with him; they are both very interested in the gospel now. They enjoy it so much that they referred us to their sister and bother who is the family we were prompted to go to last week. They came to church yesterday and the mother said she couldn't stop crying. They already see the blessings in their life as they have listened to the gospel, and I'm almost certain they will be baptized.

We had so many investigators at church on Sunday that we could only sit with a few of them. The Lord has helped us a lot this week, and I know that without His help, we couldn't do this work. We have one family, the Ulans, who also came to church this week. Their son is 13 years old and he got up and bore his testimony in front of the whole church. It was probably the shortest one I've ever heard but very heartfelt and sincere. In his testimony, he said, "I know this church is true. Even though I haven't been baptized I know it's true." He has a lot of faith for being so young but he was a big example to the people at church on Sunday.

We are doing really well and the Lord is definitely preparing the people here. Love you guys :)

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kamusta,

How is everyone doing over there? Sana mabuti. Hopefully your Thanksgiving was good with lots of snow. Thanksgiving was surprisingly really good here, but no we still haven't got any snow but I still have faith it could happen. Our Bishop knows about Thanksgiving so he invited us over for dinner; he even had a ham and mashed potatoes. I found a few people that have turkeys but that is for Christmas. Christmas is really big here so we have already had 4 offers for a Christmas dinner :)

My companion had a great idea this week to start looking for a lot more referrals. We started asking everyone for referrals and it's really helped us in doing the work and we have received a lot of referrals from members and investigators. We find a lot of new investigators knocking doors, but it's so much more effective if we get referrals.

On Sunday, we had a really busy day of work. While heading to one of our appointments, my companion said "Elder, we need to go to the referral." We had plans for other stuff but when the spirit says something, that's what you should do. We dropped what we were doing to try and find a referral we had received a few days earlier. We eventually found their house but no one was there. My companion was really disappointed because he was sure that that was what the spirit wanted us to do. I suggested another referral that we had and when I did, my companion got really excited and said "that's the one." We went and found them and they were "the one" that the spirit was guiding us to.

The person who gave us the referral just arrived at their home minutes before we arrived otherwise the people wouldn't have let us in. I was able to start the lesson with a prayer and as I did the spirit filled their home. The spirit told us exactly what to say and I know it touch them. Right as I finished the prayer, before we had taught a single principle, I asked them what they felt. With a few tears in her eyes, the mother replied, and I could tell she was feeling the spirit. It really is great serving the Lord!

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hello ang mga tao doon :)

First off, the weather here is crazy. We were just walking around in the heat of the day when all of a sudden it started raining really hard, and within 30 seconds, we were soaking wet. I think I'd rather have the nice white snow than the pouring rain.

Despite the rain, we had two people get baptized on Friday. One of them is only a 14 year old boy but he already has a great amount of faith in this gospel. He referred us to one of his friends this week and now that friend and his family are investigating. We've only been able to teach them one time so far but they came to church despite some... hadlangs? I can't think of the word in English... it means they had stuff that would prevent them from going to church but they came anyway.

The members are also starting to help us do the work by giving us referrals. I think about 70% of people that I've been able to baptize, including the two this week, have been from member referrals. Tracting is fun and all but most of those people drop after a week which is sad to see. But when members tell us about their friends, we see a lot more people come to the Lord. We had eight people come to church this week and each one was a referral from a member.

I hope you guys are helping the missionaries back home... hint hint :) Other than that, the time is just flying by; I can’t believe it’s already November 22nd! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you; eat extra turkey and pie for me and I’ll eat extra rice and ulam for you. Ingat.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hey everyone,

We had a transfer announcement this week, but I'm still in the same area with my companion. At the end of this transfer, I will have spent 14 months in two areas, but I prefer it this way. I've seen some elders transferring all the time so they can never learn to love the area or the people they are teaching. We also have a lot of really great investigators in this area that I'm hoping to see get baptized this December.

I wrote a while ago about a guy named Marton who we found while my companion was in the hospital. We taught him and his family this week and it was an amazing lesson. The spirit was directing everything we were saying. I was teaching and I knew everything I should do and say to help them, and then I felt prompted to have my companion speak about Joseph Smith. I didn't say anything to my companion about what I felt, but he started speaking in exactly the way I felt the spirit wanted us to teach. We knew that the spirit had touched them and at the end of the lesson, Marton told us that he knew Joseph Smith was a true prophet.

We taught him a second time later in the week and he accepted a baptism date without any hesitation; along with his wife and sister. He has really strong faith in this church and he is so excited to learn more. He has a few things he has to take care of before he gets baptized, but I know with the Lord's help, he will be able to overcome his trials and weaknesses.

My companion and I are sure we have found the reason Elder McGowan got Dengay. If my companion wasn't in that hospital, I don't know if we ever would have found Marton. I’ve already seen the gospel begin to change his life. I know this church is true and I'm so grateful to be out here serving the Lord.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hello family,

This week has been a little harder as far as getting work done. No one was home but I think it was just because it was a big holiday; so hopefully, things will go back to normal next week. Most of our investigators are doing really well and the Lord keeps providing new people for us to teach after we have investigators get baptized. I was talking to one of the people I baptized last week, and he told me he had an interesting experience when I baptized him. He said that as I was saying the prayer to baptize him, he heard a voice confirming that I was doing the Lord's will by the Lord's power. I didn't hear anything or feel anything different, but I know that the Lord does testify to our investigators of the things that we teach. I know that if He wasn't doing that, we would have absolutely no success in this work.

We got to go to the Mall of Asia today to go bowling as a zone which was a lot of fun. There is so much stuff up for Christmas already; I can’t believe that it’s almost that time of year again. The time is really flying by; I almost feel like I can’t keep up with it. There is so much to do but only a little time left. I feel like my companion and I just got assigned together like a week ago, but this could actually be our last week together if I get transferred. But I’m hoping we can work together one more transfer. That’s about it for my week. Thank you for the letters and the prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hey everyone,

This has been a crazy week for us! First thing, we have been working on getting two of our investigators married so they can get baptized but that’s actually a pain to do. They have laws here that you can't get divorced, so we had to apply for papers to make sure that they didn't have a previous marriage even though we were sure they didn't, but that’s just what you have to do. They told us it would take 2-3 weeks to get the paper work back, but if it was later than two weeks, we would have to move their baptism date; so we had a fast that it would get done in time. The Lord really blessed us and the papers got done in less than two weeks, but after that there is still a lot to do. All the time added together, I think I spent about a full day of work just running around trying to get this stuff done. To make matters worse, my companion got so sick he couldn't leave the house. We got all the paper work for the marriage and their interviews done in time for them to get baptized. I was blessed enough to be able to baptize four of our investigators last Saturday :)

Before that however, I ended up taking my companion to the hospital because it had been three days and he wasn't getting any better. We took him in for a check up and found out that he had Dengay Fever from a mosquito bite. He is ok now but I was in the hospital for four days with him while he recovered. We were stuck in the hospital but the work of the Lord still moved forward. We gave out several pamphlets and two Book of Mormons during our stay at the hospital.

At one time during our stay, I was going to my companion’s room after getting him some water when I saw a lady sitting outside of her room reading the Bible. I had a strong impression to talk to her about the church. She was very interested in the things I told her and she accepted a Book of Mormon and said she would read it. I thought that was awesome and then she came back a few hours later with her 21 year old son who had questions about the Book of Mormon. I taught him also and answered the questions he had and as we finished our conversation, he had tears in his eyes and I knew the spirit had touched him. I was so happy and excited because he has such a strong desire to know if it is true. He said he feels like there is something missing in his church.

I thought the day couldn't get any better but it did. An hour later, he came back with his sister who wanted to hear our message. When they left they gave me three different numbers to contact them so we can teach them again. I was really sad that my companion got sick, but I think through that the Lord has taken us right to his children whom He has prepared for His gospel. I know this gospel is true and it is so great being a part of it.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hello everyone,

These weeks are just flying by; I can’t believe it. We really cracked down this week to get a lot of work done and of course the Lord is blessing us. We’ve had several times this week where we were just walking by some people or a house and then felt prompted to stop and talk to them. One of those experiences was with a guy named Alex whom we have only been able to teach twice. He told us during our second visit that the second he saw us he felt like there was something special about us, and he had a desire to come closer to the Lord. We have a lot of great investigators who are accepting baptismal dates. We have two investigators that are ready to be baptized, but they never got married so we are just waiting on their papers then they can be baptized in about a week.

Whenever we work, I learn about gospel principles and the importance of obedience. This Friday morning, I started thinking a lot about obedience and how important it is for us to do this work. Later that night, we went to an appointment, but there was no male that was 18 years old so we aren’t supposed to teach. The situation seemed really innocent and both my companion and I had the thought that it wouldn’t really be bad, but I remembered the thoughts I had earlier that day about being obedient even when you don’t understand why. We decided to go ask someone to sit in the lesson with us as we taught. We found someone who was willing and by the end of the lesson, he was very interested in reading the Book of Mormon.

So that is what is going on with me; I know this church is true, and we are blessed when we are obedient. I love you all and thank you for your letters and prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hey Family,

It has been an amazing week! The first thing that happened was Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came and spoke to use at our mission tour! I was able to go up, shake his hand, and tell him where I live which only took about 15 seconds but it was still a really cool experience. That night we had an amazing, spiritual conference. Off the top of my head, I can't recall everything he said to us, but I felt his love and testimony of this work. One of the things that stood out to me the most was when he testified of Jesus Christ. He said simply that he has had so many witnesses from our Father in Heaven that he knows Christ lives and then he said "and I know that you know it too." It made me think about how many spiritual witnesses I have received in my life and how blessed I am to have knowledge of our Savior and Redeemer. When Elder Cook spoke, he didn't say anything mysterious or new, but with the spirit, he testified boldly of what he knows is true. I know he is an Apostle of our Savior Jesus Christ and he is a special witness to us of Christ's divinity.

I've thought about how, as members or missionaries, we have received many special witnesses of the truthfulness of this gospel and we need to stand with boldness and testify of its simple truthfulness. On top of all that, I have had many spiritual and uplifting events happen this week; during Zone conference, our Temple trip, and on Sunday when we had stake conference and had the opportunity to listen to Elder Jensen, who is in the Presidency of the Seventy.

The work is really moving forward in our area and the Lord is leading us with His spirit and helping us find the people whom He has prepared. My companion and I had a really good day this week where we were really in tune with the spirit. While teaching, I opened my scriptures to share a verse and when I looked over at my companion's scriptures, he had already opened to that scripture without me saying that was what I was looking for. Also, while given reading assignments to our investigators, we would both think of exactly the same scriptures.

So that was my week; sorry there aren’t a lot of details, but I don’t have time to write everything that has happened this week. I love you all and thank you for your letters and prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hello,

It has been a really busy week for us here with transfers and General Conference. I loved watching General Conference this week. I could tell that all the talks were inspired by the Lord and the first few talks answered all the questions I had. We are so blessed to have a living prophet and apostles that can lead and guide us to do what is right.

Things are going really good with my new companion. My companion is American from Utah and his name is Elder McGowan; he is a really hard worker. This week was very short because of the new missionary meeting, but we were still able to get a lot of work done. My companion is always really excited to work and I've already learned a lot from him. Everything is exciting to him and he just wants to get out and talk to everyone with no hesitation. We were at the new missionary meeting where I first met him, and before the meeting was over, he was asking who we would go to and teach that night and what we were going to teach.

So our work is going good here and I feel like we will be able to do a lot this transfer to help move the Lord's work along. That’s about it for what’s going on here just busy everyday :) I love you all and thank you for your letters.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dear Family,

May anak na ako (I have a son)! I found out on Tuesday that I’m going to get to train a new missionary this transfer. He is brand new from the MTC, and I'll be his first companion so in the mission we call that your “anak” or son in English :) I don't know anything about him, because I won’t get to meet him until tomorrow for the first time. I don’t even know if he is American, Filipino, or from somewhere else. We had transfer meetings earlier today, but I just got put with another Elder who is training and we are going to work together today and tomorrow. Then, we will go to the mission home to meet our new companions. I think it would be fun to get an American companion, but that will probably mean everything depends on my Tagalog...

We still haven’t been able to watch conference, so I’m really looking forward to that this Saturday. We are so blessed to be able to listen to a living prophet speak to us. Right after conference, we are going to have someone really special come and talk to us; I will write about that next week. We are really seeing the Lord bless this mission. People are really willing to listen to us and I know it’s because the Lord has prepared them. That’s about it over here; Ingat po kayo :)

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kamusta po,

My companion and I have had a really good week of work. We were working in one area when my companion decided to knock a house that we had already knocked a few months ago and they wanted nothing to do with us. My companion talked to them and they let us in. They are now one of our progressing investigators and they really enjoy hearing about the gospel. It's crazy that three months ago they wouldn't listen to a word we said, but now you can see that the Lord has prepared them and now they are very receptive. I got to teach some guys from Africa but they don't speak Tagalog so we got to use English. At first, my companion and I really struggled to speak but we got used to the English after a bit. Because it was in English, I was able to use a lot more eloquent words and give better explanations; however, they weren't willing to listen to the spirit so nothing came of the lesson with them. Even with our amazing English, we couldn't touch them because they weren't willing to listen to the spirit.

We had a musical fireside for our investigators and recent converts. There weren’t any talks, just the missionaries singing and special performances from elders and sisters. But the spirit was really strong as we sang, and I think it testified to a lot of people the truthfulness of this gospel.

Every once in a while, our bishop will feed our apartment of elders and he'll feed us whatever we want. One of the elders told the bishop that he really misses American hamburgers; so the bishop took us out to Wendy's for a real hamburger :) The only problem was our stomachs aren't used to that kind of food anymore. We were so excited to eat there but another elder and I almost threw up after eating. I think I might just go back to eating rice...Love you all.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hey everyone,

We had a really good baptism this Saturday where two people got baptized and I got to perform the baptism for one of them. It's amazing to see how the Lord develops the people and prepares them to be baptized. I was able to be one of the missionaries who found them and taught them until they got baptized. At first, they didn't really understand what we wanted, but over time I was able to see their faith grow and watch them gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. The mom has already submitted names for her family members to be baptized in the Temple; she has also begun telling her living relatives about the church.

We also had our interviews this week with President Howard. He told me what he thinks will happen to me next transfer but he still has to “take it to the Lord” so it isn’t for sure yet; but it could be a really exciting transfer :) Most likely, Elder Vail and I won’t stay together another transfer because he is ready to be a senior. Other than that we are just having fun serving the Lord. I love you all and thank you for your letters.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hi everyone,

These past few days have gone by really fast but they have been really good. We got to do a little service project for a member which was really fun (even though it was yard work). We did the regular stuff like pulling weeds, but they also had a lot of old banana trees in their yard that needed to be cut down. They gave us a few machetes and we went to work :) As you can imagine, 18 elders can have a pretty good time with machetes and something that needs to be destroyed... I'll leave it at that. Today for our P-Day, we went out to Alfanso Falls for a zone activity. This was my second time going there but it’s always fun to go out to the province and hike around in the jungle; it's a little different than Pasco :)

On Friday, we had one of the teaching assistants come and work with us to help us improve our teaching skills and know how to better follow the spirit. We only got to work with him that one day but I learned a lot and it was really fun. He really helped me to see how important the spirit is in the conversion process. Of course we always strive to have the spirit, but the teaching assistant taught us how we can better recognize His promptings. As we worked, I could see the difference in our lessons and how much more effective the lessons were when the spirit was the one teaching. I know we are very blessed to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost; and if we strive to listen to His promptings, we will be greatly blessed.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hello everyone,

We have had a really busy week with interviews, Temple trips, and Zone Conference but it's also been a very spiritual week for me. We have a new thing we are doing for our investigators every other week. Our President has decided that we should take our investigators to the Temple because the spirit is so strong there. We walk around the Temple and listen to little presentations from other missionaries about Temples and eternal families. We had an investigator go with us and she enjoyed it so much and felt the spirit so strong that she has already given names of family members to the Temple and she is set on going there as soon as possible.

This week, we had a guy come to church that we had never met before. After talking with him, we found out that he saw us on a jeepney and decided to try coming to our church. The Lord brought him right to us and now he is very interested in the gospel. He told us of an experience he had a few years ago when he almost died from appendicitis. He said he laid there with a really high fever just waiting to die; then he saw three white men dressed in white come and heal him. He is convinced that the three men came from the Lord but he has been searching; trying to find out why he is still alive. We taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ and he wants all the promised blessings of this gospel.

It’s amazing seeing people realize the real purpose of this life and seeing them coming unto the Lord. Thank you all for your letters and prayers for me; especially in doing the Lord's work.

Love, Elder Smith

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This is what I call "the bamboo street" which is a walkway about three feet in the air. We walk on it almost every day and sometimes it goes pretty far over the "ocean." It's not really the ocean because when it's low tide there isn't any water; just really bad smelling mud that they use as a garbage and as a toilet.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Kamusta po sa inyo lahat,

We've been having a really good transfer so far. My companion and I are getting along great and have set some really good goals to help build the Lord's kingdom in this area. We talked to our bishop and he is helping us too. We are really focusing on getting referrals from members because we will "knock" houses all day but they hardly ever progress (we don't really knock on doors however, we yell "tao po" at the door until they open it). I never realized the importance of members in missionary work until now; they are so important! Our goal in getting members to like us and give us referrals is by eating their food :) That sounds bad, but we are trying to serve the members and love them so they will love us and realize they can trust us with their friends and family.

The Lord is helping us a lot. We had two people show up to church with a member, so we asked if they would allow us to teach them. I wasn't very familiar with the area of their home but we tried finding it after church. Finding homes here is a lot harder then finding a home in America. A lot of times, there are no street names or numbers. Your best bet is just to ask random people if they know where the person lives. I was certain how to get about half way, but beyond that point I wasn't sure where to go. Right when we got the point that I didn't know, we saw the two people who came to church walking down the street. Out of the hundreds of people on the street and at just the right time, we ran into them and they showed us the rest of the way to their home. I know this church is true and that it is the Lord who is guiding it.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hey everyone,

It's the start of a new transfer and I have a new companion, but I'm still in the same area. My companion's name is Elder Vail and he is from Utah. I'm really excited to work with him. We have a lot of new things happening this transfer. We got two new Assistants to the President who are really good elders and one of the old assistants has stepped down to train in my zone. I got to work with him when I first got to the Philippines and he is an amazing elder so I'm excited to learn from him again in our meetings.

Our mission is doing really good. Last month, we got just over 200 baptisms! I see a lot of potential in my area and I know the Lord has great plans here. My companion and I are already getting along great and we are really excited to work. Other than that, we are just working really hard and the Lord is really blessing our work.

Love, Elder Smith

Friday, August 20, 2010




Her name is Erika

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hey everyone,

It’s been a really crazy week. We had a transfer this week that was three weeks early. My companion was sent to the Island Palawan, which is the place every missionary wants to go. My companion is Elder Ahat now but I'm thinking I might get transferred next week; so this will be a really short companionship.

We had two people get baptized this week, and I was blessed enough to be able to perform the ordinances. It's great to be able to be the one performing the baptism, but the best part for me is seeing their big smile after their baptism. The Lord really blessed us this week in finding the people whom He has prepared. I was getting a little worried about running out of investigators but the Lord led us to some new ones.

One couple in particular has definitely been prepared by the Lord. It was our third time teaching them and we were teaching about prayer and knowing if Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon were true. The spirit told me, during the lesson, that that was the wrong thing to be talking about. I quickly ended what I was saying and opened 2nd Nephi 31 about baptism. The mom's face lit up as she read the word "baptism." I started to invite them to be baptized but before I could even finish my sentence, the mom cut me off and with a big smile said "yes." I love doing the Lord's work and seeing His guiding hand in our work everyday.

Love, Elder Smith

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

SORRY THIS TOOK SO LONG BUT HERE ARE FINALLY SOME PICTURES: MUCH MORE TO COME!















Monday, August 9, 2010

Hey everyone,

We've had another busy week as always. We have a lot of people getting baptized next week so we have been really focusing on finding new people to teach after all our current investigators get baptized. We've been doing that the last couple of weeks with a lot of success, but after the first or second lesson they stop investigating. This week, however, the Lord really blessed us in our efforts. We found a family who is currently looking for the true church; so I'm really excited and have high hopes for them. We also have an elderly couple who we have been teaching for about six weeks now. They really want to get baptized but the husband has a problem with cigarettes. He was able to quit smoking most of the time, but no matter what we did he had to have three a day. I didn't know what we could do to help him other than pray. He had a stroke about a week ago but is doing okay now. That in itself of course is a bad thing, but the doctor told him some things he needs to stop doing to keep his blood pressure down. One of the things he was told to stop doing was to stop smoking. I didn't pray that he would have a stroke, but I think that event helped him because he is no longer smoking.

We have one investigator that we have been teaching for over a month but he won’t come to church; he always has some kind of excuse. He said he would come this week, but to be sure, we should stop by his house an hour before church. The night before, it rained for about 10 hours but I didn't think anything of it, because there was no flooding by our apartment. We were almost to his house when we saw that the whole place was flooded. My companion was ready to just go to church but I'm kind of stubborn at times. I knew our investigator wouldn't show up if we didn't go to his house, so I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants and started walking. After a little bit, my companion realized I was serious and reluctantly followed. The closer we got to his house, the deeper it got because he lives right next to the ocean. We were up to our knees in water but we made it to his house.

It's a pretty cool story but he didn't come to church. He said he would go at 2pm with the other ward but he didn't show up there either :( Our investigators that have a baptismal date, however, did walk through the flood to come to church; so that’s the happy ending. I know this church is true and I love you all and you are in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hello everyone,

Another week is already over; I feel like the days are going so fast I can't keep up with them. We had an amazing baptism this Saturday for our "golden investigator". We didn't have a single concern the whole time we taught her; she probably could have been baptized the first week we taught her. She gave a great testimony of how she knows the church is true and how grateful she is that we brought her this gospel. It is an amazing feeling to have someone that grateful towards you and to see the changes take place in their life as they accept the true gospel. Our investigators really become like family as we teach them. I'm really blessed to be able to do the Lord's work every day.

We have a member that asked us to give them some counsel with some problems in their family that is really trying their faith. I really had no idea what I should say to help them. I tried sharing a few scriptures but they weren't helping too much but as I listened to the spirit, I was guided to know exactly what to say and the perfect scripture to go with it. The Lord has really been blessing us in helping us know what to do to help our investigators and help them come unto Christ.

So a lot of you obviously thought it was funny that I forgot how to speak English. When I speak to other Elders in English, I don’t have any problems; maybe it's because I can throw in Tagalog too and they understand. We were out finding this week when we knocked on the door of a guy from England. My companion doesn't speak English so it was all up to me. I was really excited until I started stumbling over all my words saying stuff like “We are missionaries...with a minssahe...message... and want to talk to you about Jesus." I tried talking to him but it was probably the most ineloquent English ever. I plan to go back there when he isn't busy, but I might have to work on my English :)

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kamusta po kayo ang akin pamilya,

We had a pretty effective week. We were able to get 12 people to sacrament meeting which is the best I've ever had. Of course it really wasn't anything we did, it was entirely the Lord. We had one older couple that we had been teaching but they weren't really progressing, wouldn't come to church for three weeks, and were never home. We decided it was probably time to stop teaching them and start focusing on other people that would progress. As always, we ended our last lesson with an invitation for them to attend church. I don't know what changed, but we were waiting at church when we saw them walk in. The Lord had obviously touched them in some way to create a desire for them to come to church.

The First Presidency is changing a little bit of the way we missionaries work. It’s nothing big, but they are focusing more on the missionaries teaching by the spirit and the needs of the investigators. They are really trying to get us away from the routine lessons. So that is something we will be working on a lot these next few months. We got a brief overview of it during Zone Conference and I'm really excited about it. It will help us follow the spirit, teach by the spirit, and really do this work the way the Lord wants it done.

Something is happening that I never thought would ever happen to me; I'm forgetting English! Our zone went to a family home evening at some couple missionary’s home this week but they are from England so they don't speak Tagalog. I was the one that got to translate for them but it's so much harder than I thought. I would sit there listening to the speaker then realize the couple missionaries had no idea what was going on. When I tried to translate, I would accidentally repeat stuff in Tagalog or completely forget the English translation of a word.

Well that is what's going on over here; plus a lot of rain. It's crazy how hard it rains here and how quickly places start to flood. Thank you all for your prayers and letters.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hello everyone,

We had a great baptism on Saturday! It was one of the people that comes to church every week but there hasn't been a third male to go with us to her house. Our Mission President gave us permission to teach her outside if no one else was home. She accepted a baptismal date on the first visit and was so excited to get baptized. She lived in Cebu, but she felt like she needed to move to Manila for some unknown reason, even though her family didn't want her to. After being baptized, she said that she now knows why she moved here. She has a very strong testimony and loves this church and everything in it. She used to be Catholic and she told us it's so great that we have rules and commandments, because that's how we really do become closer to the Lord. The Lord led her right to us; she moved in with members so we didn't even have to find her.

Well, this letter is pretty short, because I just wrote like four days ago so not a lot has happened since then; just a lot of rain. Thank you for all your prayers and letters. I know the Lord hears them and He has blessed me. The Lord is really blessing us in our work and helping us to find His elect children. You are all in my prayers and I hope all is well on the other side of the world.

Love, Elder Smith

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hello,

I'm a little late writing because we got hit by a bagyo at about 1:00am Wednesday morning (bagyo is a hurricane). The hurricane took the power out in all of Manila and the surrounding areas; so we had no power which means we couldn't email. This is the first hurricane I've ever been in and it was pretty crazy. All of us Elders woke up because the wind was so loud and we just laid in bed for a few hours listening to it. I talked to some members and they said the wind was about 160 kph (we guessed that is about 90 miles an hour). Everyone keeps telling me that was a weak one. They also said there will be a lot more and they are just going to get stronger. I was kind of worried about some investigators who live in bamboo houses that are over the ocean (it’s crazy what Filipinos can do with bamboo). Luckily, they all went to someone’s house that is a little more stable, and waited there until the hurricane was over.

I thought about that and how I was perfectly safe in my house (other than a leaking roof). And then how a ton of people were in big trouble with no place to go but their tiny bamboo house which would have a lot more problems than a leaking roof. The thought came to me of how important it is for us to be prepared before the storm hits. Lots of people lost roofs, walls, and other things. This made me think about the parable of the Ten Virgins, that if we don't prepare now, it will be too late. There won’t be time to prepare and we can't run for shelter in our neighbors' house like the people here did yesterday. I'm so grateful for this gospel and the knowledge we have of what we must do to be prepared for things more important than preparing for a hurricane.

Lastly, we had transfers but I'm still in the same area with the same companion if any of you were wondering. Thank you for your letters; I love you all and you are in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hello all,

We have had a good week with some ups and some downs. We have a golden investigator here, Russel. She has been to church three times but we didn't even know that she wasn't a member; she had her uncle give us a referral. We went to her home and she was really excited to hear of the Restoration. We returned the next day and she told us that she had received an answer to her prayers that this is the true church. We committed her to baptism during the second lesson and she accepted. We have continued to teacher her and she doesn't have any problems with the Word of Wisdom or going to church every week. We went to church on Sunday but she didn’t come with her uncle so we asked him where she was and he told us that she moved back to the providence. We were so disappointed because that’s the third time that has happened to us. Luckily, he was just playing a mean joke on us and she showed up a few minutes later.

So things are going good but we do run into some people that don’t really know what they are talking about. We had one lady that wouldn’t listen to us because she said “I already know everything.” We then had a guy who was willing to listen and after the lesson, we asked what his feelings were about Joseph Smith. He said “I know he is a true prophet, we are all prophets.” I can’t figure out how some people come up with this stuff. Then one of my favorites is the people that don’t want to talk to you at all. I tried talking to one guy and all he would say was “wala” meaning nothing, or you don’t have. I asked him his name and he would say “wala” (I don’t have a name).

But overall, things are going good here and I hope things are good back home too.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kamusto po kayo lahat,

Things are great; we had a baptism this Saturday and we have about five people we are really hoping will be ready for baptism this July. The girl that was baptized on Saturday is 13 years old and the only investigator in her family. We invited both her parents to the baptism and her mom actually came. After the baptism, we were saying goodbye to them and you could tell that she had been crying. It’s great seeing the spirit testifying to people even though they don’t listen to us. We are hoping to be able to start teaching her and her husband now.

There is a problem in the Philippines with inappropriate calendars on peoples' walls. Alcohol and cigarette companies give them out free so they are everywhere. Sadly, they sometimes get into members' homes. We were at a member’s house that had one proudly displayed in their front room. I couldn’t stand seeing it so I asked them why they had it and they didn’t know why. I asked if we could rip it up and throw it away. They let us and then took us through the rest of their house to make sure there weren’t any more. It’s kind of cool; you can be bold and they don’t get offended because you are a missionary.

Well that’s my week. Lots of work and lots of rain, and we haven’t even had a storm yet. Thank you for all your letters.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hey everyone,

It’s been a good week as always. We had a few set backs with some investigators who are supposed to get baptized on Saturday. One of our investigators hasn't had a job for a few months now, but he really wants to be baptized so he comes to church every week. We went to his house on Friday to make sure he would be ready for the interview on Saturday but he was gone. He got a job at some place about 2-3 hours away; we don't even know when he will come back or if he will. The Lord has been blessing him as he was preparing for baptism but then a week before it gets messed up. That just shows how Satan will try to stop people from doing what’s right. But despite that, a lot of good things are still happening for us.

We were walking to an appointment when I saw a guy, Rome, and was prompted to talk to him. I have really high hopes for him. As we taught him, he told us he wants to find the true church but isn't sure how to know which one is true. Then in his prayer, he thanked the Lord for us being there and asked the Lord to bring him the truth. It is so amazing how the Lord guides this work and that He leads us right to the people we need to speak to.

My area is a little backwards as for people going to church. Usually we teach a lot but they don't make it to church. In this ward, we have people that have been going to church (some for months), know it's true, and want to be baptized, but are just too busy to have us come to their house. We were finally able to talk to one of these people at their house and she accepted a baptismal date the first time we taught her. All I have to say is it is great serving the Lord!

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hey everyone,

It's been a really crazy week again. On Sunday, we were able to go to the church to see the dedication of the Cebu Temple. We are so lucky to have so many temples all over the world and that it's so easy to go to the temple to do work for others. The spirit was strong as they talked about the importance of the temple; I know they really bless our lives. I had the opportunity to go to the temple this morning. It is so nice to just sit there without any distractions from the world and to receive inspiration. I also learned that President Monson is a really fun person. When he was outside the temple, he made the piano girl move so he could play. It's so amazing to me to have a living prophet here on the earth that can exercise the power of the Lord to dedicate temples for our benefit.

We are getting a lot of rain now. We were out working and then came home to eat lunch and while we had been out working, the sky was completely clear. Then 30 minutes later, as we were eating, we had a crazy rain storm with wind and lightening. It was probably the hardest rain storm I had ever seen; that's happened twice this week. It's definitely not like Pasco, but we continue to work. There hasn't really been a problem with flooding yet, but you do have to walk on higher ground or you will soak your shoes.

Well that's what's been going on here. I love you all and you are in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kamusta,

It's been a great week; I really like working here. This area has a lot of potential and I'm learning a lot about how to be a better missionary. There have been so many times this week that my companion and I were walking and then either my companion or I stop, as prompted by the spirit, and go talk to someone and they let us in. We don't actually talk to a lot of people because the ones we talk to usually let us in to teach. We were walking one day and my companion just stopped and walked over to a guy and started talking to him. We only taught a short simple lesson about how the gospel will bless his family, but as he gave the prayer, he had tears in his eyes and then he went to church the next day. I had one experience where we were teaching a guy and the thought came to me that his wife had passed away. We talked to him a little more about his family and sure enough his wife had passed away. It's amazing how the Lord directs this work and helps us find His prepared children.

I do have one complaint about this area. In my old area we had a church right next to our house. It had a big bell at the top and they liked to ring it as loud as they could at five in the morning or in the middle of the day for funerals. I thought I would get a good night sleep here, but now we have chickens next door that like to stay up all night and be as loud as they can, but it's all worth it to serve the Lord :)

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hey everyone,

Kamusta po kayo? (Guess what finally happened?) After 7 months, I finally got transferred and became a senior. When we got the transfer announcements, the Assistant to the President wrote "Elder Smith will finally transfer." I'm now in Bacoor, Cavite, which is more city but not like Manila or anything big but we actually have stores here... I think. There are places called "squatters areas" where people just sit there doing nothing all day; basically like there is no point to life. It's going to be different but fun. I realized how blessed I was with my last apartment. In my last house, we had a hose with a shower head to shower with, but in this house we only have a bucket and our toilet doesn't flush; it's basically just a circle and you dump a bucket of water in it to get it to flush. It's pretty cool here though.

My companion seems really great. He is Filipino which is good because I can't talk to him in English so I feel like it's already helping my language. And it's also good in case I don't understand an investigator, he can help me. I'm really excited to start working in our area. I really don't have any idea what to expect but we had a really good transfer meeting and I know that it is the Lord who is directing this work. As long as I'm obedient and doing my best, I know the Lord will do the rest. It really is amazing to me how much the Lord has helped me in the language and how much He guides His work everyday. I love being able to share the gospel every day and know that it is the Lord's work that I am doing.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hello everyone,

Time is going by really fast; I can't believe this transfer will be over in a week. The work here is moving forward but of course we hit some bumps on the way. We have some great investigators that believe everything we say but they say they aren't sure if they would ever be baptized into the church, because they are Catholic and that’s the church of their parents. To me, that doesn't really matter if they know this is the true church of God. Satan really uses whatever he can to stop the progression of the Lord's children; it’s really sad when he succeeds. Despite the many attempts by Satan to stop this work, we have a lot of success.

I had a really good experience this week by following the spirit. We were at one of our regular appointments and were about to teach our planned lesson but as we talked to the mother, she told us that there is a "problem" in her family. We didn't know what kind of problem but as directed by the spirit, we decided she needed to hear another message but had no idea what to teach. I opened my Book of Mormon to a random page and read one verse to myself. It was the first verse I read but I felt it was exactly what they needed to hear. We read it with her and shared a brief message about putting our faith in the Lord and he will support us in all our trials. The mother was crying at the end of the lesson and I knew that the spirit had testified of the truthfulness of our message to her. The next day at church she stayed all three hours; something she had never done before.

I am so grateful for the spirit in our lives and for its influence and guidance to bless us and help us bless others.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hi everyone,

This week was really good; we had a baptism. It was an investigator who had been investigating for over a year but we finally got her ready for baptism and it was great. She will be a great member; she has a lot of faith. I got to work with the teaching assistants this week and it was good to see how they teach so that I can apply it to my own teachings and be a more effective missionary.

We went out finding in the mountains yesterday; it's really cool. The only sound out there was the wind and birds which is a LOT different than how it normally is here. No one was at their homes but before we left, a member came out of no where and started to help us. They took us to a friend's house and we had a really good lesson with them and we are really hoping for them to progress to baptism.

So something kind of funny this week: we were teaching a few days ago and I was teaching about how the spirit will testify to us through our feelings. I accidentally let the wrong word slip out; I wanted to tell them that their feelings would be "masaya" (happy) but I accidentally said "masama" (bad or wicked). My companion had to catch himself so he wouldn't laugh and luckily, I realized my mistake and corrected it. Tagalog is pretty fun sometimes :)

Well, I love you all and thank you for all your prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hey everyone,

It was great to call home and have a chance to talk to my family. I've got to keep this pretty short. Today we aren't allowed to work because of the elections here. I can't wait for the elections to be over! People drive around with huge speakers in their trucks playing loud music and yelling who you should vote for. It's been that way for a month now.

We had someone get baptized two weeks ago but he couldn't come to church to get confirmed because he got really sick. We went to his house on Sunday to make sure he was coming, but someone in his family had died so he said he wasn't coming which meant we would have had to re-baptize him. It's amazing how Satan tries to stop people from doing what's right. I bore my testimony to him and he decided to go for 15 minutes to get confirmed; we barely made it in time. After he was confirmed, we expected him to leave and go back to his family, but with tears in his eyes, he sat down next to us and said he wanted to stay. It's so amazing here and I love serving the Lord everyday and seeing how He blesses their lives.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hello everyone :)

Ever since I got here we have been in a drought, but this week it finally started to rain as we are getting close to the rainy season. I think I saw more rain in one day than I see in a year back home. I went and got an umbrella but I was still soaking wet from my knees down, and people say that's not even bad... I love the Philippines :)

We were over at a recent convert's home this week when the mom started telling us about her feelings when we first came to her door. It was completely directed by the Lord that we went to their house at that time because the dad is only home for half a day every week; which means most of the time we wouldn't be able to go in and teach because there is no other male. However, we were directed by the Lord and we taught them. The mom told us that when we came and taught, she realized that we had something--a promise of happiness that she had been missing her whole life. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to share this wonderful message everyday to these people that I love. Just the other day, I was inspired to give a scripture to a past investigator. We followed up with her to see if she had read it or not and as we talked to her about the scripture, it led us to find her concern and why she stopped investigating. She is now praying to find out if our message is true.

I love you all and you are in my prayers. Thank you for your prayers in my behalf in the Lord's work.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hi everyone,

Subrung balis ang mga lingo dito (the weeks are so fast here)! It's crazy the week is already over, but it's been a good week. It started out a little weird when we got kicked out of our apartment. Our floor was so bad that if you were writing on the table and someone walked by, the table would bounce up and you would end up scribbling; I know from experience. So we had to move to the zone leader's home for a few days while they re-did our apartment floor. It really messed up our working schedule which was frustrating. It gets really annoying when you don't get the work done that you want to.

On Saturday, we had a baptism for a father which means the whole family was baptized. They are an amazing family. I had the honor of performing the baptism for the father, and when he got up to bear his testimony I was trying to listen really hard to understand all of his Tagalog. I understood just about everything; more than I ever have before which was great. I can't describe the feeling you get when someone stands and thanks you personally for changing their life and giving them the greatest thing in this world. It wasn't anything I did, but it is an amazing opportunity to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and doing this great work. I love this gospel and the opportunity I have to share it everyday.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hello everyone!

It's been another fast week here in the Philippines. I was kind of sad this week when transfers came. I had grown really close to my companion, Elder Velasco. We worked really well together and he taught me a lot of things. I was a little scared about who my next companion would be but I got assigned to Elder Bingham from Idaho. He is my first American companion :) I'm still in my first area which people think is crazy because 6 months is a long time to be in one area but I'll be here for at least 7 1/2 months, and I'm really happy about it. I really feel like the Lord wants me to do some things here before I leave. I was pondering it when I felt impressed about the things I need to do to help this area. I'm really excited for this transfer and the work the Lord has for us to do.

It amazes me how much I can still learn and be humbled by the people of the Philippines. I was working with an Elder in another area a few days ago when I met one of their recent converts. She started talking to me and asked me why I'm so blessed in America when she has so little. It really tore at me as I thought how to respond. I thought about telling her that it's not always easy in America but I realized no matter the trials I had back home it didn't compare to the trials she faced daily; her house is the size of my bedroom and she struggles to feed her family everyday, but despite all that she is happy and has her family. I realized, again, how truly blessed I am not only spiritually but materialistically. It's a great opportunity to serve here; I've been blessed beyond measure!

I hope you all have a good week.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hey everyone,

This week has been really good with conference. It's such a great opportunity to hear the words of the Lord's living prophet and apostles. It was great when they were all talking about families; it was a really good spiritual lift and has helped me to work harder. I learned so much in conference and I know that the people who spoke were directed by the Lord.

The work here is great and the Lord is really helping us in His work. He has also been blessing me a great amount with this language. It's amazing how He helps me do His work and communicate in a language I really don't know. The Lord is really preparing the people and He is leading us to them.

I had an interesting experience one night. We were all getting ready for bed and all the lights were off and all I had left to do for the night was say my prayers and go to bed. I knelt down to pray like I do every night but I couldn't get myself to say anything. I was trying but I literally couldn't pray. I couldn't figure out why so I just sat there pondering what could be stopping me from praying. The thought came to me to go brush my teeth. I thought that was weird and didn't know how I had even forgotten that. I figured I might as well and as I was brushing my teeth the thought came to me " check the door." I thought this was a weird thing to think as well. I checked the door following the impression and saw that the door was unlocked. I later found out that another elder had had the same impression. It's amazing how the Lord watches over us and protects us and guides us by the spirit.

I'm so grateful for this gospel in my life and the many blessing which it brings to me. Everyday the Lord strengthens my testimony and brings me closer to Him. I know that this is the Lord's true church that was restored here on the earth through His prophet Joseph Smith. Thank you for all your letters and prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

p.s. A quick random thing: An elder and I believe we have found evidence of dinosaurs in the Bible. In Genesis, it says that giants try to kill Noah... We concluded that Noah would never take something on the ark that wanted to kill him so they all drowned in the flood :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Easter everyone!

Easter was pretty crazy here. There are a lot of Catholics and they do some crazy stuff; big parades, reenactments, and church all week long. Some of it is kind of funny. They think that God dies on the day Christ was crucified, so they won't leave their homes in fear that if they get hurt there is no God that day to heal them. There is some stuff that is really bad too. They actually nail a guy to a cross while other guys beat themselves thinking that it will bring them a remission of their sins. It's like that all over the Philippines...pretty crazy huh?

It's been a really busy week and we haven't gotten to watch conference yet. For some reason we watch it a week late, but I'm really, really looking forward to it this Saturday. It's such a great opportunity to hear God's living prophet speak and His apostles.

We had a great baptism on Saturday for one of my favorite families. The dad still hasn't been baptized yet but wants to be; it's just a problem with work. After they were baptized, the mom was giving her testimony. It was really short but she said, "before my life was really bad, but now I have a new life." I love seeing people getting baptized and seeing the joy it brings them.

We were teaching a lesson this week when our investigator said to my companion "I want to ask questions to Elder Smith but I don't know if he will understand my Tagalog." I started thinking about how I really need to improve to help our investigators. I started pushing myself to only speak Tagalog to my companion. I had only been doing it for about an hour when we started to teach some new investigators. When I started teaching, I spoke clearer, faster, and more correct than I think I ever have. It was a really cool experience.

So, a funny story to end my letter. I went to get my hair cut and they do a really bad job cutting hair here. Back home we call it a "bowl cut." They leave it really long on top and cut it short on the sides. He did that and I told him to cut more because it was too long. He didn't even cut any off the top. I gave up after a while and went home to look at it... it was REALLY bad! My companion had been telling him it looked bad but the guy wouldn't listen. When one of the other elders, Elder Hart, saw it he said "I can fix it." I figured he couldn't do much worse so he grabbed some scissors (the type first graders use) and started cutting. It was his first time cutting hair but it turned out pretty good. I think that could be considered as having a lot of faith :)

I hope you all are having a good week; I love you and you are in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hello everyone!

It's been a good week as always. We had zone conference this week which was really good. It's amazing how the work is moving forward. The Lord has really prepared the Philippines. My companion and I have been doing really good in our area. We got home after zone conference with only a few hours to work (because we live so far away) and decided to just do a little finding before the end of the day. We followed the spirit to where we should go and found people to teach. We have been back to teach them and although we haven't taught a lot, I told them they needed to prepare to be baptized. I thought it was still too early so I didn't want to, but in the middle of the lesson the spirit told me I needed to. They said they would begin preparing to be baptized. It is a great feeling when they make that commitment.

We had something kind of funny and bad happen this week. Every month and a half we have apartment checks to make sure our apartment is clean. We were really busy that day cooking, studying, and showering. Then all of a sudden, the couple missionaries walked in the door. Another elder and I were walking around in our towels waiting for the shower so it was pretty embarrassing... Thank you for all of your letters and prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hey everyone,

This week was pretty normal until Sunday. First, we had district conference and Elder Sinamban of the area 70 came; he was really good. One of my favorite parts was when we had a meeting for the new members. He was explaining how they can stay active and go to the Temple. He called up one of our recent converts and told him he needs to go on a mission. This is exactly what we are trying to get him to do. He later called up a couple in our branch who have been inactive for 10 months. My companion and I had just met them a few days before and were trying to get them back to church. They came to the district conference and Elder Sinamban told them they needed to be active in the church if they wanted to be together forever. He said exactly what they needed to hear even though we never told him about them.

After the conference, we were asked to give a blessing to a man in the hospital who was in a coma. I'd never seen him before and I didn't know what had happened to him, but I was asked to give him a blessing. I realized how important it is to follow the spirit and be worthy of the spirit at all times. President Eyring gave a talk about how we must always be worthy to use the Priesthood because we never know when the time will come that we will be asked to use it.

The last thing that happened occurred in our last lesson Sunday night. We were teaching my favorite family about baptism. While teaching, the mother started crying and we asked what her feelings were and she said masaya (happy). It is an amazing feeling to see people accepting the gospel and realizing its truth. I love the gospel and the many blessings it brings to us. I know this is the true church and that the Lord does have a plan for each one of us.

I love you all and you are in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hey everyone,

Another week is already gone; it's crazy how time flies. Things are good here; we are working really hard and seeing the success of it. In our teachings, we have been really led by the spirit to the things which we should say and do. It's amazing the hold Satan has on some people though. They are great people but they wont even try to pray or read. On the other hand, we see people whom the Lord has prepared and they are receiving the gospel with their whole heart. We are teaching a mom and she told us how different this church is; that you can actually understand it and feel uplifted afterwards. She told us how her "heart burns" as we teach and testify of this gospel. It's so amazing to me; I love seeing these people come closer to the Lord and receive so many blessings.

We have been teaching a guy whom I really feel like we were led to and should be teaching, but he is really hard hearted. It's really hard when we tell him this is the truth and he won't accept it. I know this is true and I know there are endless blessings to the people who will accept it and live it. I'm so grateful to be a member of this church. I've been blessed so much while I've been out serving the Lord. I love you all and you are in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hello everyone,

We had transfers this week. Thirteen new elders are coming from the MTC, that means 190 missionaries in this mission... It's huge! Nothing changed here though, but I'm happy with that. I like my companion and I feel like there is something we really need to do together in this area. We got a new elder in my apartment though. He was my zone leader in the MTC for a few weeks but left before me; I really like him. We were talking and we think I may have worked with his cousin in Washington when I went on that one week mini-mission. When I first got here, I was the only white elder in the apartment but now there is only one Filipino. That probably means we will only eat a little rice now :)

Sorry this letter is way short; not a ton has happened. We are working hard and we have really high hopes for some of the people here and their families. Thank you all for your prayers, love, and letters. You are in my prayers; I'm so glad we can pray to the Lord and receive answers to our concerns and have protection. I know this is the Lord's true church and His work. It's great being able to share it everyday!

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hey everyone,

My week was great! Elder Teh of the Seventy came on Tuesday and that was great. I even got a hug from him. He was giving an example of how Satan will hold us and won't let us go if we go to places where he is at. He tempted me with chocolate; I got the chocolate but then he put his arms around me and wouldn't let me go. He had us ask questions but he didn't answer them. He just started teaching what the spirit told him to teach, and he told us to find the answer to our questions through the spirit. It was really cool! He didn't come out and answer my question but I still got an answer by the spirit.

We had two baptisms on Saturday. I got to do one of them; he is really great. He said in his testimony that he used to think that all he had to do was have faith in Christ but now he realizes that he has to be in the true church with the authority of the Lord. I'm really hoping he will be on a mission in a year. I realized, again, how lucky we are back home. My companion and I spent a lot of time just getting things organized for the baptism and without cars or cellphones it makes it so hard. We didn't even know how to get one of the guys being baptized to the baptism because they didn't have money for the bus. But of course, the Lord provides a way.

On Saturday, Jon Schmidt came! If you don't know who he is....shame on you (just kidding) he is an amazing pianist! It was a fireside so it was more of a spiritual event than a concert. He also brought Steven Sharp who is amazing at playing the cello. They were here for a fund raiser and wanted to play for us; they were so amazing. At the end they played "I am a Child of God," and they were so incredible! They didn't have music, hadn't practiced it, and were improvising but it was so good. They are also very strong in the church. They told us to pray for help with everything, even if it's just practicing the piano. We really can't do anything by ourselves and if we ask for the Lord's help we are blessed so much. I've started doing it and I feel like it's helped me so much. It helps you have the spirit, focus on the Lord, and you are blessed in whatever you are doing.

Well that's about it for this week. Thank you for your letters; I love you all!

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hi everyone,

It has been a good week; we have been staying busy. Something really exciting is happening this Sunday but I'm not going to tell you guys until next week :) But to give you a hint, I'm going to a "concert" on Sunday and it's one of my all time favorite musicians. He is really talented, I've always wanted to see him play, and I've even tried playing his music but I'm not that good. I'll give you all the details next week... :)

Something really exciting happened this week. We were at church this Sunday, and it was just about to start when a family of our new investigators walked in. We have only taught them twice and only once a week because the father works all week. We were so surprised to see them. The father said that the week before, he was working on Sunday (driving) and almost got in a wreck. He said after that he knew he needed to go to church like we had invited him to do. Later that day we invited them to be baptized, and they accepted! :) There is something really special about this family. I love seeing people here who want to follow the Lord. It is an amazing feeling to share the truth with my brothers and sisters and see the joy it brings them. I never thought that I could love people that I've only met once. But I really do love them as my brothers and sisters and really desire for their salvation. I love this gospel and the endless blessings we receive as members; I know this is the Lord's true church. I love you all and you are in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hi everyone,

This week has been really busy as always. We have been doing really well here in Maragondon. It's amazing to have the spirit with us to testify to our investigators and lead us where to go and what to teach. We were teaching a lesson this week to a new investigator. I was teaching the first vision of Joseph Smith. When I finished, she had tears rolling down her face. I know it was nothing I did. It was the Lord testifying to His children that this church is true. It is so great to be a part of the work. I know it's true and I know it's the Lord's work.

We were doing some finding this week but weren't having much success. My companion decided to just go down a random alley. We weren't finding anyone but decided to try the last house. The guy we found says he has been looking for a church for years but no one can answer his questions. He asked a lot of hard questions but it is amazing how the spirit leads me and my companion. There have been countless times where I would be speaking and my companion would open to the perfect scripture, or if one of us doesn't know what to say the other one easily continues where the other left off. I've had so many ideas and scriptures come into my head that I've never used or thought of before. It is a great experience having the spirit teach through us. One time I just opened the Book of Mormon and felt like I should read a verse, and it was exactly what we needed. Even with my bad Tagalog, our investigators understand. Then after teaching for that day the spirit tells us what we should teach the next time. It has been a great experience.

I love this gospel and I'm so happy to be a part of it! I love you all and pray for you everyday.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hey everyone,

It's been a busy week. My companion and I are staying really busy and finding a lot of new people to teach. The Lord has really been blessing our work as well. In five days we found 30 new people; the standard is 20 for a week. It's great seeing the Lord direct us to the people He has prepared. There were many times this week where my companion or I randomly went to a house or a talked to someone and they let us teach them.

We found a little girl this week and she is so ready for the gospel. When we came to teach her the second time she came running to us and hugged us because she was so excited. It scared me so bad because I haven't had a girl hug me in 5 months. She is only 11 years old but when we go to teach her she tells us about Joseph Smith and that he had the priesthood. We asked her to read Moroni 10 in the Book of Mormon. When we came back, she had read that plus she started reading the first few chapters of 1st Nephi. We almost need to teach her two times a day to keep up with her. One day we came to teach her and she started crying. We found out it was because she accidentally spilled a little water on her Book of Mormon; she loves the Book of Mormon! She sleeps with it and asks for a reading assignment in it even though we have a different reading assignment for her. But of course, Satan does all he can to stop the work. Her parents aren't too sure about her being baptized, but we will pray about it and we are working on that.

I'm so happy to be a member of this true church. I know it is true and I see so many blessings from the Lord everyday when I take the time to look. I love you all and you are all in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hello everyone,

It's been a short, fast week. Things are good; I really like my new companion, Elder Velasco. We get along really well and work good together. It's teaching me a lot also because I know the area and he doesn't. So, I plan all of our days and keep track of our work which is teaching me a lot and getting me more involved in with our investigators. I'm really excited about this transfer. Sorry there isn't a lot to talk about this week; we have just been working a lot!

I want you all to know that I know this is the Lord's true church. So many people try to find happiness in other ways but the greatest happiness is in the Lord's true church. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father. I know that Jesus Christ really did atone for all of our sins. I know it is only through Him that we can return to our Father in Heaven. I know there is a reason we are all here on Earth. I know we willing came here to follow the Lord's plan, and if we do our part, we will receive the righteous things that we desire most in our lives.

I love you all and you are in my prayers. I know the Lord blesses us everyday and I hope you all see and feel how blessed we truly are.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hey everyone,

This has been a really busy week. I baptized someone on Saturday; he is 86 years old and he has a really strong testimony. When I pulled him out of the water he just stood there. Then he started telling me how grateful he was. Later, he said to me "Thank you for the blessings you have brought to my spirit." It was amazing! Knowing that I am doing the Lord's work and seeing the joy it has brought into his life. He seems so much happier since his baptism. After he was confirmed he went out working with us.

I got to teach the German man again. It's fun speaking in English. At one point he started saying things like "I just don’t know how some of these things can be true" or "People sometimes just believe not really know." As he was saying this, my mind was filled with exactly what I should say, and when I said it he knew I was right and said that I had a really good point. It was amazing! It was just like the Lord said, if we treasure up His word He will give it to us in the very hour that we need it. That is truly what happened to me. I can't remember exactly what I said but I remember the feeling and I know it was directed by the spirit.

I also got a new companion today. He seems really good; he goes home in 4 months but I'm excited to work with him. I love you all and hope all is well.

Love, Elder Smith

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hello everyone,

Things have been good here, but not much has happened since my last letter though. The work is good at times but goes down at other times. We find people and they seem great and want to learn more but then they stop wanting to hear us. I don't know why but we are doing our best. I got to teach that German guy again. It was so awesome being able to say everything I wanted to. When we found him he told us not to get our hopes up, but some of the things we said really got to him I think. I think the spirit really testified to him about what we were saying; it was great.

Other than that not too much has happened this week. I'm just trying to continue to learn the language. I've been praying a lot about it and working hard and I'm blessed for it. There is sooooo much love in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even in the worst circumstances we know we have a loving Heavenly Father and can find peace and joy in Him. I love you all and want you to know that I know this is the Lord's true church upon the earth.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hey everyone,

It has been a busy week. We have had interviews with the zone leaders and President Howard. President Howard said there is a really good chance I'm staying here and will get a follow-up trainer. It's not set in stone but there's a really good chance that's what will happen. He also gave me permission to have a little keyboard to practice piano on. There isn't a lot of time to practice but 30 minutes every night before bed is good enough for me. It's really nice ending the day with a few hymns.

My companion and I went to a new part of our area this week. No one has been there in a long time. The first house we went to I started talking to him in Tagalog then my companion said to me "He is speaking English." I didn't even realize it; I tried to talk in English but I didn't know what to say. In Tagalog, I say "Maarri Makipagkilala" (can we have the ability to meet you) but that makes no sense in English so I was kind of lost for words; It was pretty funny. He is German but has lived in the Philippines for about 15 years. I've met so many people that aren't Filipino.

We also went to the Temple today; It was great! I love going to the Temple and forgetting about everything else for a while. It's so calming having the spirit and being in the house of the Lord. I'm so grateful to be a member of this true church. I see blessings from this gospel everyday. It's really sad seeing people without it. It has brought so much joy to my life.

Thank you all for your letters; I love you all.

Love, Elder Smith

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year everyone!

New year's was good. We did the same thing for new year's that we did for Christmas. We even got to see people setting off fireworks. We had to be in the zone leader's house by 6:00p.m. because it's too dangerous to be out working on new year's. There aren't any laws here about fireworks so a lot of little kids are in the streets playing with them.

Today for p-day we went with two other zones on a hike through the wilderness to a waterfall. It was really cool; I'll have to get you guys some pictures. We have been working a lot this week. It's been really hot but we keep working and we have found more people to teach. It's amazing to be teaching and have the spirit testify to them even though what I'm saying isn't perfect. Thank you all for your prayers; I have really been blessed out here. My testimony becomes stronger every day, and I know that this is the Lord's true church. I love this gospel, and it has blessed me so much and continues to bless me every day; I know it is true.

I'm glad to hear you are all doing well. I pray for you every day and hope the best for you; love you all.

Love, Elder Smith