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