Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ang Huling Linggo!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Elder Smith

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sayang na malapit na ang paguwi ko!

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

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

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

Love, Elder Smith

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grabe, malapit na ang pag-uwi ko!

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, August 8, 2011


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

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

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

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

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grabe ang bagong area ko!

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

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

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

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

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ang huling Transfer!

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hello everyone,

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

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

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

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

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hey everyone,

Things are going good in my area; not too much has changed since last time I wrote, but we are slowly making progress to build the area up. Lately, I've been trying to be more in tune with the spirit to try and find new investigators while we are walking to appointments. Being a white American in the Philippines, I get people calling out to me about 50 times a day with remarks like, "Hey Joe, what's your name?" and I've gotten to the point that I just ignore it. I used to go and try to talk to them when I was newer but they usually run away (literally, they run away). So I kind of gave up on that, but I was thinking the other day about how Preach My Gospel says to have hope and keep trying even when people don't accept you so that's what I've been trying to do and the Lord has blessed us with some success.

We were leaving an appointment the other day with our new investigator (the one that randomly showed up to church last week and wanted to get baptized) when someone yelled at us from their house. We kept walking about 10 feet but decided to just try. At first they were a little shy about letting us in but we did get in. We found out the the mom is a member but has been inactive for something like 15 years. She just goes to the Catholic church like she was never a member of Christ's true church. Her kids aren't members and really, really need the gospel. The son is 15 but has a few tattoos and the daughter is 16 with a few tattoos and a baby...

It's pretty sad to see this family and how lost they are with no direction. The first lesson, we tried sharing just a little bit with them about our life here on Earth but they just stared at us with a blank face and wouldn't say anything. It's been cool this week as we've taught them they've began to change. They answer our questions sometimes, are willing to read from the scriptures, and the daughter actually prayed last time! It was AWESOME! The mom also wants to come to church next Sunday so hopefully everything works out there. They also have a friend that started listening in on our lessons and she texted us this week to say we can start teaching her too at her house now.

It's pretty sweet to see the progress. We even felt impressed to give them a baptismal date which they were hesitant to accept so they are going to pray about it, but I have hope that the time will come that they will change their life and be baptized. This work is awesome! It's amazing to see the Lord touching peoples' lives.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hoy kamusta!

Happy 4th of July!!! I didn't even realize it was the 4th until I read some letters. I hope you are all having fun with your BBQs and enjoying your delicious food. Speaking of food, I made the jell-O my mom sent me and I let some Filipinos have some and they LOVED it. The jell-O here is WAY different, they call it gelatin... It's like jell-O but harder and doesn't have flavor except for the raisins they put in it and the evaporated milk on top. When I brought it over one of the missionaries looked at me really disappointed and said "Smith you forgot to put milk on the gelatin." as if to say "you should have just let me make it." But after they tasted it they were literally fighting over it.

It's been a sweet week! We had a lot of stuff to do this week to help our zone but it was a lot of fun. I felt impressed that we needed to be working more with our missionaries so that’s what we did. We went and worked with all the missionaries to help them get excited about the work and to lead by example and I think it really helped. We get report from them all every Sunday night and we saw that all of their work had improved so hopefully it keeps improving through the rest of the transfer.

We also got to meet our new mission president this week. Their last name is Stucki and I really like them. I know that they have been called of the Lord to lead this mission. There have been a few changes in the mission but nothing too big. The thing that I'm really excited about is that he is going to start coming out and working with us missionaries despite his hectic schedule. It's going to be AWESOME!

In other news, we were at church yesterday when I noticed that there was someone I hadn't seen before sitting in the back row. I went over to her and found out that she wasn't a member but she said "I really wanted to get baptized into this church!" Well the Lord's house is a house of order so she has to be taught first, so I set up an appointment and we went to her house a few hours after church.

We had a good lesson with her about the restoration of the gospel then I decided to give her a baptismal date to see if she was serious about what she had said earlier. I invited her to be baptized on July 30 because she has to go to church 3 more times before she can be baptized. Her reaction to my invitation was pretty funny. She looked at her calendar, thought for a few seconds then said "Saturday...I shouldn't have anything going on that day, yeah that will work." I think it was kind of funny that it wasn't a question of is this true or not, she was just making sure she was free for that day haha. It's crazy how the Lord prepares people and brings them right to us.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kamusta kayo doon!

We've had a pretty crazy week and this coming week is going to be pretty crazy too, but that's just the life of a missionary. This week we had zone conference which was pretty good. We talked about the talents and gifts that our Heavenly Father has given to us and how we can use those to be better missionaries. It's pretty cool to look at all the gifts we have both the temporal and the spiritual ones; we are really blessed.

In our discussion as a zone, I had each missionary tell their companion a talent that they've seen them use in helping share the gospel. My companion said I always change my tone of voice depending on the person I'm talking to (like if they are a child, adult, or an older person). I didn't know I did that but I've realized that the Lord has blessed us with a ton of little gifts; many that we don't even realize we have and we should use them to help us do His work.

During zone conference, President Howard gave each missionary a blessing because this is his last week here. I can't believe he is going home already. He is a really funny guy and is always pumped about missionary work. It's going to be a big change when he leaves.

As for some good news, the bishop called a new WARD MISSION LEADER!!! YAY!!! I had my first official correlation with the ward mission leader and ward missionaries this Sunday. In all of my areas, there hasn't been a ward/branch mission leader so we would just talk to the bishop about our work, but he is so busy there is only so much he can do for us. They called a ward mission leader when I first got here, but he went inactive the next week :( (yeah it's kind of rough sometimes).

The new ward mission leader seems pretty good. He called me this morning and said he had two referrals for us; not bad for one day of work. Thank you for all your letters. Mahal ko kayo lahat and you are in my prayers :)

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hey pamilya,

I forgot to tell all of you about transfers last week. Elder Taylor got transferred which is a bummer because I really liked working with him. We got along really good and we both like Mexican food so we made a few delicious meals. We had a good run together but all good companionships must come to an end. Elder Taylor had been in this area for nine months so it was about time for him to leave.

My new companion is Elder Lanticse, who is Filipino and from what I've seen, a really good, hard worker. This is his first transfer as a zone leader so I'm training him. But there isn't much to that other than sending in reports, conducting meetings, and taking care of the sister missionaries. The "take care of sister missionaries" is definitely the hardest part of being a zone leader.

The sisters called me up a few days ago because the needed a box of Ang Aklat Ni Mormons (Books of Mormon) delivered to their church building. These sisters are a bit below average height so there is no way they can carry these boxes. A box has 32 Books of Mormon in it so it's got a bit of weight to it; the Tagalog Books of Mormon are a lot bigger than the English ones. I like to serve others, so we woke up a little early Saturday morning to take the box to their church building; the jeepneys don't get super close to their church, so I had to carry it a long way. I'm not sure the total distance, but I must of carried it nearly a mile. They used the Books of Mormon for an activity to get the ward to help in missionary work. When the activity was over, they had only given out like seven Books of Mormon and made me carry the rest back to their apartment. I felt like I was working for UPS or something.

In other news, it's kind of starting to hit me how fast September is coming. I got my "trunky letter" and turned it in the other day which basically is the information the office needs to get your plane ticket home. Then today, I got an email saying I have an appointment in a couple of weeks for my "going home X-ray." I really don't know what happened to the time; it doesn't feel like I've been out almost two years... Well on that happy note, I love you all and thank you for your letters and prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hello everyone,

It's been another crazy week. We've been in and out of the hospital all week with one of the sisters, but she is finally doing physical therapy and starting to do a lot better. Speaking of hospitals, I don't think I ever gave you a good update on Sister Howard. President told us that a few weeks ago she had a 105 degree temperature for 32 hours and a pulse of 126! If that wasn't bad enough, her kidneys had shut down and half her heart wasn't working right; like she had a heart attack. It was pretty certain that she was going to pass away but now she is actually walking a bit and getting back to normal. She is even supposed to be at our meeting next week. I guess everyone in Utah is talking about it and how it really was a miracle. It's pretty amazing what some faith and the priesthood can do.

This week we also had an awesome baptism for Jessie. After she got baptized, she talked for about 10 minutes about how thankful she is for the gospel and how much she loves this church. It's been amazing seeing her progress in the gospel. She loves the gospel so much and is trying to learn more and more all the time; I think her scriptures have more markings in them than mine do haha. We've also got some other investigators that we hope will get baptized in July.

Two weeks ago, we were walking down the street looking for a referral when we heard an 18 year old girl yell at us in English "I wanna hear the good word of God." She was totally sarcastic and people are always yelling stuff like that at us, but this time I felt like we needed to talk with her so we went back. It turned out that she is a friend of the referral that we were looking for. So they (Cathy and Jello) are progressing now and actually came to church on Sunday. The only problem is you never know when you might have a crazy speaker at sacrament meeting; like we did last Sunday.

The first talk was awesome and really spiritual but the second speaker wasn't so good... She got up and started asking questions to the congregation! When I say "asking" I mean she expected answers back. She started to say stuff like "What day is it?" (it was independence day) and "What year was that?" or "When did the Spanish leave?" and she got the congregation to start shouting answers back at her. Cathy really enjoyed it so she started yelling answers too. It was a MESS! It was the most disruptive and irreverent sacrament meeting I've ever seen; just a ton of people yelling answers at the speaker. It felt like we were some other religion where people stand up and yell “praise the LORD” haha. It is always an adventure here.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hi everyone,

Last week was an awesome week with a lot of success. This week however, things kind of went downhill. Everything is still going good with our investigators; Jessie is still getting baptized this coming Saturday which is going to be awesome. The members are freaking out! Usually, we have to push everyone to get just a few people at a baptism but people are volunteering to give a talk and cook food. I've never seen food at a baptism here so it's going to be sweet!

Our other investigators are also doing great; they are slowly gaining a testimony and overcoming the problems in their lives. This week however, we had some problems with sisters getting sick and injured. I swear I gave more blessings this week than I have in my whole mission. It's great to serve and use the Lord's priesthood, but it takes a tole on you when they are calling you 20 times a day; sometimes at 2:00 in the morning too. We eventually had to take one of the sisters to the hospital because she couldn't walk very well, and after three hours over at the hospital, we aren't any closer to finding out what's wrong with her.

So that's pretty much all that happened this week. Sorry this is kind of short. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it was one of the most stressful weeks of my mission. It's kind of funny how that worked out. Two weeks ago was awesome and last week was pretty rough, so I'm really excited to see how this coming week turns out :)

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hey everyone,

This was probably one of the best weeks of my mission!!! The past few months have been pretty slow for work. We try to do our best but lately the baptisms just haven't been coming. I know I shouldn't complain because I have been really blessed to see a lot of success during my mission, but we've been wondering when things will start to turn around. This week we had some awesome stuff happen. We were able to see three of our investigators get baptized which was awesome. It felt like we had a million obstacles to overcome before everything got worked out. I swear that Satan does everything thinkable to stop people from getting baptized.

First off it rained, and if you know anything about the Philippines you know that spells trouble for getting people to leave their house. We also had problems with members not showing up to the baptisms including the person who was supposed to baptize our investigators. I usually bring baptismal clothes for myself just in case of emergencies but this time I forgot. I ended up baptizing one of them anyway and it all worked out good; the Lord took care of everything and the baptism was a success!

This week we've also been receiving a lot more referrals than normal so we are starting to get some really awesome investigators. But by far the best part of the week was when we started teaching Jessie. Jessie lives with a member and takes care of the member's kid while he is at work. For some reason, she started coming to church with him two years ago but has never been taught! When I first got here, I didn't know that she had been going to church that long; I felt strongly impressed that we really needed to teacher her. The problem was she was really busy and didn't have time to be taught. Last Sunday however, Elder Taylor was able to set an appointment with her.

One of the first things that she said to us during the first lesson was, "I'm Catholic." She told us that she just wanted to learn more about our beliefs because she was kind of confused about our doctrine. We had an amazing lesson with her about the restoration of the gospel. I taught her about Joseph Smith and then I told her that the spirit would tell her that it was true if she listened. It was obvious that the spirit had touched her so I asked her what the Lord was telling her right then through the spirit. She replied "It's true." I've never met someone so prepared for the gospel!!! People say that they have a golden investigator but Jessie is platinum or something. We had taught so much in the first lesson that we decided to wait for the following day to give her a baptismal date.

The next day we taught about baptism and during the whole lesson she was pushing us to invite her to be baptized. She would keep asking questions like, "what does someone have to do to prepare for baptism?" or "how can I know if I'm worthy enough?" We've been teaching Jessie just about every day and the the only problem is she wants to know everything so we can't ever stay on one topic. We gave her a Book of Mormon and a reading assignment in Alma 32. Alma 32 is a long chapter but she read that and 1st Nephi 1 through 1st Nephi 15 in one day and wished that she could have read more. It's been great seeing her receive answers to questions that she has had for a long time and how much she loves the gospel. It's really been a testimony builder to me of the converting power of the Holy Ghost.

Love, Elder Smith

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hey guys,

I've got some good news for this week; we have survived the “end of the world” that everyone has been talking about haha. It's crazy there were people all over the world that believed that guy. We actually met a lot of people that thought it really might be the second coming on May 21. We really are blessed to have a real prophet that receives real revelation from God. Whenever someone asked us if it really was “judgment day,” I couldn’t help but quote the scripture “beware of false prophets.” I guess that was his second time being wrong so you can just read the next verse that says "ye shall know them by their fruits."

Elder Taylor and I are doing great here in Pasay. We can't believe that this transfer is already half way done. The work here in the city has been a lot slower but I feel like it's picking up a bit now. We are finding some really great people with the help of the members. We taught one inactive and she has now come to church twice. She then asked us to teach her mom who is a devoted Catholic. We thought it might be a little hard to teach her because of her strong beliefs, but as we taught, she opened up and realized we had answers to questions that she had anxiously been searching for for a long time.

We had a little problem this week with one of our investigators that ended up turning into a blessing. Our investigator and some members started disliking each other because of some gossip that was being spread in the area that they live. This problem spread to our investigator's older sister to the point where she didn’t like the church or us. We have a great ward missionary that came with us to help resolve the problem of our investigator and the members. The next day after everything had been resolved, our investigator's sister wanted to hear the gospel because of the way our ward missionary took care of the gossip problem. That investigator will be getting baptized this week and we are hoping that her sister will soon follow. It’s really great how much the Lord has been blessing us.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hello po ulit,

It has been a pretty crazy week for my companion and me. We had a few investigators that we have been teaching that are a part-member family. The mom has been inactive for a long time, but she wants her kids to be baptized so we have been working with them. Things were going great until the mom got in a fight with her brother. When I say fight, I mean a real fight. A few teeth got knocked out, a big rock got thrown at someone; it was just a mess.

They ended up having to go to the barangay which is like the local police. Because the mom was going to be at the barangay for one to two weeks, she made her kids go stay with their dad, which means we can't teach them and they can't go to church or get baptized for a while. We didn't know what to do so we just prayed that the Lord would do something to help. Luckily, their aunt is a great member who got things worked out for them to come back so we are teaching them again and they should be getting baptized pretty soon.

In other news this week, people have started to give us money. We had just gotten out of a lesson when we got a phone call from some missionaries. My companion was talking to them trying to help them with their problem when a guy came up to me and started saying that he likes the beliefs of our church. While I talked to him and got his number and address, he went to a tindahan and got us drinks and a snack. That's not too weird because everyone here is really nice and like to buy us snacks, but then he started to try and give us the change too. We explained that we don't take money and politely rejected his offer but he wouldn't listen to us. He then grabbed my companion's arm, put 50 pesos in his hand, then said "a gift from the Lord" and left.

We thought that was weird but a few days later, today, we were buying groceries when another guy walked up behind us and said "to support what you are doing" and slipped 1000 pesos into an elders' hands. We were all so taken off guard that we didn't even have time to say anything before the guy had slipped around the corner. So that was my week of weird events, but of course we have also been receiving spiritual blessings; not just people trying to give us money and snacks :)

Love, Elder Smith

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hey mga tao doon,

I had a really fun week. It was transfer day this week but Elder Taylor and I will stay together another week :) We have some really good plans to help our zone get stronger and get the work moving even better. We have some great missionaries so I'm really excited to work with them this transfer. Because it was transfer day yesterday, this means that the new missionaries from Utah came. One awesome benefit of being in the city is that you get the opportunity to take the new missionaries out to work their first day in the Philippines.

I worked with Elder Spencer and it was a lot of fun seeing how shocked he was. I was a little surprised when I realized that that was me eighteen months ago. I can’t believe how much has changed since that was me. The new missionaries were so excited to get out to work. Even with their broken Tagalog, they gave their very best effort and just wanted to help the people they had never even met.

After working, we took them out for a Halo-Halo, which is a tradition we have here in our mission. For those of you that don’t know, a Halo-Halo is a dessert made of ice, condensed milk, ice cream, jello like cubes, and a few other random things; it’s pretty good. By the end of the night, the elders were half asleep as we took the jeepney ride home. When we got them home, one of the elders fell asleep in his clothes haha.

This week was also the Jubilee celebration. The church has now been in the Philippines for 50 years! To celebrate, thousands of youth made costumes and spent months preparing dances to show the culture. On Sunday, there was a devotional with talks by Elder Teh and some quorum of the twelve. It’s awesome to see that the church has grow so much here.

Thank you for all your prayers and letters. I love you all.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kamusta kayo,

Wow, Easter is already over! I can't believe it. People get kind of crazy here for Easter but it wasn't too bad. We saw a HUGE parade of about thirty thousand people walking down the street carrying their Santos (basically a huge Christ, Mary, or cross that they made). They closed down a major street to do it too. They also closed another street, built a huge stage, and did a seven day play of Christ's life and death. Some of the stuff they did wasn't exactly how the Bible describes it. There was one scene where they had "Roman" soldiers marching back and forth on the stage and every time the soldiers came out, the band would play "Onward Christian Soldiers" haha.

I had a nice Easter feast too. The APs took me and my companion out to eat on Saturday to a Mexican restaurant! They had burritos that weigh about a pound! It was awesome! I haven’t had a good Mexican meal in over a year and a half. It was the best Easter dinner I’ve ever had. Rice is good and all but a little variety never hurt anyone haha :)

This week had some ups and downs but it was good overall. We found this awesome new investigator. She is really receptive to the spirit so she already believes that Joseph Smith is a true Prophet. She even understands that because this is the true church, she needs to be baptized; she understands all of this and we have only taught her twice. Right after that lesson however, we got some upsetting news.

We have an investigator, Vanessa, who has been going to church for about six months with her grandma. Her mom is really busy so we can’t teacher her, but she was totally fine with Vanessa being baptized and us teaching her when she got time. We taught Vanessa everything and got her ready to be interviewed for baptism.

The day of the interview we went over to their house to see Vanessa crying. We don’t know the whole story, but for some reason Vanessa's mom doesn’t want anything to do with us and doesn’t want Vanessa to be baptized. She got in a fight with her boyfriend so we think she is just taking it out on us. We tried talking to her but any time we get close to her she yells at us and runs away. So we are just praying and hoping the Lord will soften her heart again.

So that is my week... I love you all and you are in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tapos na ang isa pang Linggo!

We got to see some pretty awesome stuff happen this week. Early Saturday morning, my companion and I got to go to the temple to an endowment of the first person I saw baptized, Linda Bidbid. I got really close to her and her family way back in my first area and she was finally able to go through the temple. It was really awesome for me to see them again and see how much she has grown in the gospel. I was really excited when I saw her baptized, but it was an even better feeling when I got to see her in the temple.

Right after we had finished at the temple, we rushed home for a baptism of our investigator, Genesis. Genesis is an awesome kid that has been going to church for six months now! He doesn't have any problems with the word of wisdom or anything else and he really wanted to be baptized but is dad wouldn't ever allow it. His dad is always busy at work too so we can't ever teach him and encourage him to let his son be baptized. My companion told Genesis that he just needed to pray every day that his dad would let him be baptized, and that’s what Genesis did. One day Genesis just asked his dad if it would be okay for him to be baptized and his dad said yes. To make things even better, his dad come to the baptism and I really think he felt the spirit. Hopefully his dad will find time to come to church or let us teach him or something.

I'd just like to point out how blessed we are back home to have members that are willing to speak in church. Last Sunday, I was asked to give a testimony in church because I was the new elder in the ward. So when the 1st counselor was looking for a replacement speaker this Sunday, I thought I was off the hook. They had no speaker for sacrament meeting so 30 minutes before we started, they decided to invite me to speak for 15 minutes. Of course I said yes and did my best to follow the spirit and give a talk for people I don't even know. But the spirit knows everything so it actually turned out really good.

It’s been a fast week but a good one. Thank you everyone for all your prayers and letters. I love you all.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hello everyone,

Another week has already ended! It feels like I just emailed two days ago but now it's time to email again. This week I think I witnessed the healing of the sick. If you remember, my companion had to have an in-grown toenail removed last week. I watched them remove the nail and it looked pretty gross after she cut half of his toenail off. We were told that he would probably be up all night in pain and that he shouldn't work for the next three days. They gave him a little pain medicine but only enough for two days. By the end of the night, his toe was starting to hurt him pretty bad, and we have one thing that the doctor didn't know about; the priesthood.

Before the removal of my companion’s toenail, another doctor in our ward and I gave my companion a priesthood blessing. My companion slept the whole night without any pain in his toe. He had a little pain while we worked the next day but not very bad. They said he wouldn't be able to work for three days but we were out and working the very next day. That night he needed to change some of the gauze so I got my camera for evidence of his disgusting toe, but when he took off the bandage, I could barely tell that something had even happened to him. My companion never had to finish his pain medicine and by the second day his toe looked like normal. I have no idea how it healed so fast other than that the Lord had blessed him after we gave him a priesthood blessing. It was pretty cool to see.

We finally got to watch conference this week and it was way awesome. I loved all the talks and seeing how I can improve myself to better help the kingdom of God here on earth. I also really enjoyed the priesthood session about being a better priesthood holder and how big of a responsibility it is for us. Being on a mission, I’ve really learned to value the words of a living prophet. About 90% of the people we come in contact with say “it’s all one god, it doesn’t matter where or how you worship him.” Looking at some of the crazy ways they worship, I’m grateful for a prophet that tells us what we really should be doing as followers of Christ; not just following the false teachings of man. Like Elder Holland said, they are all angelic messengers of the Lord. We really are blessed.

Love, Elder Smith

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hey everyone,

I'm doing really well over here; the new area is great! It's way different than all my other areas. It is SO loud here! In my other areas, a lot of people couldn't afford a vehicle, but here it seems like everyone has one so there are always loud horns and exhausts wherever you go (exhaust here is totally different than back home because there are no sound laws).

I remember in one of my areas I could look over the Manila Bay and see the city and it always had a dark cloud of pollution around it. That is my area now and there really is a lot of pollution, because there are so many people living here that they literally live on top of each other.

The work here is a little different too. Out in the province, you can just knock on doors and people will let you in but not here in the city. Luckily, there are some really good members in the ward who give referrals and somehow we just get new investigators without really knocking on doors.

I did go to the hospital again this week, but it wasn't for me this time haha :) My companion had in-grown toenails that needed to be removed. I never thought I would be in hospitals so much while on my mission, but it seems like missionaries get sick a lot out here. However, the Lord always gets us back on our feet pretty quick and then we are out working again. We have been working hard this week and it looks like we are going to have a lot of success in the coming months.

Love, Elder Smith

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hi everyone,

I don't have a lot of time right now; I'm just writing to let all of you know why I didn't right on Monday. No one freak out or anything but I was in the hospital for a few days. I had a really high fever last week, but it got better on Thursday and on Friday, my stomach hurt just a little. The pain wasn't very bad so we just worked the day as normal but the pain got worse throughout the day.

That night I was up until 12:30 with a horrible pain in my abdomen and I couldn't stop throwing up. At 12:30 in the morning I couldn't take the pain anymore so I woke up my companion and we went to the hospital. They had to give me three things of pain killer before the pain went away and then they admitted me. They gave me some antibiotic medicine and I got a blessing and there was very little pain after that.

The doctor didn't want to let me go in case something was wrong so they ran a few blood tests, and I got an ultrasound (don't worry I'm not pregnant) and a CT scan. I wasn't really in any pain unless you pushed on my abdomen but they worried that it could be appendicitis, because they could see from the CT scan that there was a little swelling. We eventually just checked out because we had a meeting in Manila that we needed to be at.

President Howard has decided to transfer me off of Palawan so I can be close to the good hospital in Manila just in case something happens. I'm now working in Pasay with Elder Taylor; we were in the MTC together. This area is nothing but deep city! I went from the rural island of Palawan to deep city Manila, but it is an awesome area.

I've only worked today but I love this place and Elder Taylor is a really good companion. I might get to go back to Palawan but it isn't for sure yet. I think they are going to run a few test here, because the hospital is way more advanced than the last one I was in. So that's what is happening here. Don't worry I'm fine; I'll let you know if anything else happens and I'll reply to all of your letters next week.

Love, Elder Smith

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hello everyone,

It's been a really busy week for me; being the end of the transfer. I went up to the new area that was just opened called Taytay to do exchanges with the elders there. We had a pretty good day of work up there and found a lot of people that will hopefully accept the gospel. We had been trying to find people in one area but had no success and it didn't feel like the spirit was there so we decided to leave. When we were leaving that area, we passed by a house that we wouldn't have passed if we hadn't been leaving. We found two families there which were both interested in the gospel and finding out why we are really here on earth.

We also found some people that weren't interested except to try and argue their point. I had a really cool experience talking with one in particular. She was telling us that we don't have to do anything in this life to be "saved." She said all we have to do it say we accept Christ. I showed her the scripture that says "faith without works is dead" but she said that doesn't apply to us. She explained that we should only use scriptures that are written to us and we can't use the book of James because it was only written to the tribe of Israel. She said to me, "you aren't of the tribe of Israel so it doesn't apply to you." The spirit hit me REALLY hard as I said in reply, "No, I'm from the tripe of Ephraim." The whole atmosphere changed after I said that and she knew that I wasn't joking. The conversation itself didn't go too far, but I received a personal witness from the spirit of my lineage. We really are blessed as members to have the Lord reveal things to us.

In other news, I got transferred to Puerto which is still on Palawan. My new companion is Elder Smith... Yeah people are already making jokes about us. I just can't wait to find a new investigator and say "Hi I'm Elder Smith, this is my companion Elder Smith and we want to tell you about Joseph Smith." People are going to start thinking they have to change their name to Smith after they get baptized. I loved my district and being able to teach and stewardship them so I'm kind of sad I won't get to be as close to my district now. But I'm excited for this transfer, the new changes, and the work we are going to do here.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hello po,

We had some really cool experiences this week especially when we worked with the Teaching Assistants. We just found a retired radio announcer a few days ago who had been taught years ago by the missionaries but nothing really happened. As we taught her, she kept telling us how religions are so wrong because they just want money. She said the only time a church should ask for money is when they ask 10% for tithing haha. We explained to her how things get changed without prophets and people make up their own beliefs.

We told her about Joseph Smith and she only had one concern with Joseph Smith. She was smart enough to figure out that he couldn't still be alive, so we proceeded to tell her about Thomas S. Monson. After teaching her about the restoration we asked her if she would pray and ask God to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet. She said "Of Course! I'm going to ask if Joseph Smith is a true prophet and Thomas S Monson." It was completely by accident that we found her, but I'm sure the Lord had a hand in it.

We were also led to some new investigators who live right outside our door. I've tried knocking all the houses on our street, but we didn't have any success. One day however, we were walking out our gate when I saw a man sitting on his porch and I felt that I really needed to talk to him. He is a pastor for Seventh Day Adventist but is really nice and opened minded to what we have to teach.

During the lesson, the Teaching Assistant felt impressed to pull out an article of faith card. They read through every article of faith and said that they believe they are all true. While discussing the articles of faith, one of the girls was reading the pamphlet and the Book of Mormon and would answer the questions of the pastor concerning Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the ordinances of salvation. Normally, I don't like teaching pastors of other sects, but I know that we were led to them and that the Lord had softened their hearts to listen to this message.

Thank you for your letters and prayers. It's great to hear how much the Lord is blessing all of you back home.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hello po sa inyo,

We have had a pretty busy week, because we had interviews on Friday and then District Conference on Saturday and Sunday. District Conference was great with Elder Sinamban of the area seventy speaking to the members. He gave a great talk about supporting and protecting your family by serving the Lord and keeping the commandments. It was exactly what the people here needed to hear. I really enjoyed conference, but because we live so far away from the district center, we just stayed there for three days and worked with the Zone Leaders which means we didn't get to work in our area. Although we were only in our area a few days this week, we still had some great things happen.

My companion and I have set some really good goals and schedules to help us be more effective and not lose any time when we could be working. With our efforts, we have gained a lot of trust from the branch members. I've never heard of our branch president giving referrals to the elders or going out to work with them. But this week, he worked with us and gave us an awesome referral to a family who we already have high hopes for.

Thank you for all your prayers, I know they have been a big help.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hello family and friends,

It's been an interesting week with some of the new things we are trying to help the branch become stronger and to help build the area. We've been working with one inactive, Sister Calex, who is a nice older lady that just kind of fell away, but after a few visits, she is now coming to church and going to Relief Society activities.

Finding people and baptizing them is a great feeling, but it's an amazing feeling to see someone who once had a testimony come back to the church and find the straight and narrow path again. I'm hoping a few more will come back to the Lord in the coming weeks with all that we are doing to help bring back the inactives. Our branch president is also a huge help. He went through every inactive with us and gave us all their information so we can try to help them. I'll just say we've got our work cut out for us.

We were also led to go to a recent convert and now we have begun teaching her husband and her son and daughter. This family has been taught countless times by missionaries, but her husband and her children have always been reluctant to accept the gospel. This week however, they came to church for the first time. We are hoping they will accept the gospel and be able to be sealed as a family in the temple. So "work" is awesome! We are really being blessed.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hey everyone,

My companion and I had an awesome week. We did a lot of things differently this week than we normally do, but we were really happy with the results. Monday night, Elder Hernando and I talked about how many opportunities we miss out on if we don't ask for the Lord's help. We decided that we really needed some help to find people that would accept the gospel. So we both prayed diligently to know exactly where a family was that would be ready to receive the gospel. We felt certain that the Lord would tell us where to go.

We began work on Tuesday by searching for the people whom the Lord had prepared. I felt a strong impression of an area we needed to search in so that is where we started our finding efforts. We went to the street where I felt impressed to go, and after walking down the street a ways, I realized that my companion had stopped and was facing a house which he said he felt we needed to go to. This was the first place we tried and we were welcomed into the house.

We began teaching them but quickly realized that they weren't really listening. We were a little disappointed at first until we found out that there were some members there too; members who were struggling with their testimony of the church. We had a really good, spiritual discussion with them, and we realized that they were the ones we had been led to and that they were the ones that we needed to teach.

Throughout the week, we've been strongly impressed to follow the council of the prophet and help the in-actives and those struggling with their testimonies and bring them back to the church. Our mission president has also said he wants us to try and bring in-actives back into the church. By doing this, we have had several spiritual experiences and a lot of success.

Also throughout the week, we have been led to several people who want to come back to the church; they just needed a little push. We noticed that the branch seems happier now and the spirit is a lot stronger during church meetings. This week at church we also saw that the attendance at sacrament meeting nearly doubled. That didn't just happen because of our work. It is pretty cool to see the Lord working through us, the branch president, and the members to bring back His lost sheep. I have learned a lot this week, especially about how important home teaching is; that little effort can really go a long way in bringing people back to the church.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hello everyone,

I heard Kyle got home this week. I can't believe that he is already home. These two years don't seem like two years at all.

Elder Hernando and I are working really well together. This week we have been working really hard on just finding good people to teach which sometimes goes really good, and other times not so good. We found a lot of people this last week and we are excited for a lot of them.

Sometimes I wonder how people don't realize this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. When we teach, we teach so simply that a child could understand. The spirit and scriptures also testify to the investigators that what we are teaching is true, but sometimes they still reject it and say "we don't need a prophet" or "it doesn't matter, as long as you say you believe."

Despite some of those set backs, we have high hopes for this area and the people here; we are doing all we can to move this work forward. We have had a lot of success this week. We have found a few families who are struggling because they don't have the gospel in their life; however, we found a doctor who realizes the importance of a living prophet.

One of the most exciting people we found is someone who may be related to my companion, Elder Hernando. We are still waiting for his parents to write and confirm it, but I don't think it was a coincidence that the Lord sent him to this area and we found this lady his first day here. Overall, it's been a great week and I'm really excited to see how it turns out this coming week.

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hey everyone,

It is the start of a new transfer today and I'm really excited to work with my new companion. His name is Elder Hernando and he is Filipino, but he has lived in Utah for a long time. I have met him a few times before and he seems like he is a really good, hard working elder, and I think we will work really well together.

In my zone, they are going to be opening a new area which means I will finally have elders in my district and not just sisters. That means I will have a bit more to do as a district leader because I can go on exchanges now. I couldn't do exchanges with the sisters last transfer, that’s bawal. It has been fun doing “stewardships” with the other missionaries. I am able to talk to them about the week and their experiences and see how much the Lord is blessing them in their efforts. He really is the one that leads us to the people that He has prepared.

With the change of companions, that means there is always the “going away dinners.” My last companion had been in the area for six months, so when he left, a lot of members wanted to feed him which I was excited about. But when you have three dinner appointments in three hours it creates a problem for a little stomach like mine... To make matters worse, at every dinner appointment, they decided to feed us the exact same meals: chicken and rice. If you know Filipino culture, one plate is never enough, you always have to eat more. So by the end of the night we could barely walk. I'm not sure if it was a good experience or not.

I’m so grateful that the Lord is blessing all of you so much and taking care of you. I love you all and you are always in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, January 31, 2011


We had a really good week with not too much stuff going on. We had interviews with President Howard which is always a good experience, and I also got to go on exchanges with the zone leaders. I have been on exchanges before, but that was when I was really new in the mission so I had no idea what they were even saying. I went on exchanges with Elder Smith so we had a lot of fun convincing people that we were brothers; really it wasn't very hard to do :) I had a really good day of work with Elder Smith, and I learned a lot about different teaching skills that I can improve.

A few days after our exchanges, I tried really hard to apply what I learned about asking questions to investigators to help them learn. It's kind of weird to think that asking questions can help someone learn new things but it really works. I "taught" a lesson to someone after the exchanges, but for the most part I only asked questions. Instead of having a plastic lecture, we had an actual conversation with me asking inspired questions and her realizing the answer was from the spirit. That experience helped me learn a lot about what is said about letting the spirit teach, not the missionary.

Other than that, things are going really well. I have just one complaint and that is that they have decided to shut the power off every day for the next two weeks... We will have it for a few hours every day but that's still questionable. This little town always has something fun going on in it :) Thank you for all your letters and prayers. I hope you all have an excellent week.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kamusta po kayo,

I don't know about all of you back home, but time seems to be speeding up; it feels like I just emailed yesterday. We have been blessed these past few days for investigators, but they came straight from the Lord and not any finding on our part. We have had a few people come to church a couple of times that we hadn't noticed weren't members. We started talking to them and of course they were willing to let us go to their homes to teach them.

One person, whose name is Mary Rose, was one of those people who started coming to church without us ever meeting her. We went to her home to teach when we found out that she had already asked her parents if she could be baptized (all of this happened before our first contact with her). We gave her a baptismal date in the first lesson and she quickly accepted. We thought that was great until we found out that Mary Rose's parents wanted all of their children to go to church and to listen to us! We still don't even know how they found out about the church. Her parents are always working so we haven’t been able to teach them, but we will fast and pray that the Lord will make time so they can listen and go to church like their children.

We have another investigator that I'm really hoping will come to church this week. All of her family has been baptized, but in the six months that she has been listening to the missionaries with her husband, she hasn't really progressed towards baptism. I only got to meet her when we went to talk with her husband, but when I met her, the spirit was really strong about her being ready for the gospel.

We have taught her a few times now and I've been told that she is accepting our message a lot more than she ever has in the past. I've had a lot of spiritual experiences teaching her where the spirit has told me exactly what needed to be said, and she has begun to understand why the gospel is important. With the help of the spirit, she went from sitting in the corner to actually reading the Book of Mormon and praying. It has been fun having the spirit work through us to do the things we need to do.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hello everyone,

It's been a super busy week for us. Whenever we have a meeting or activity, we have to drive two hours to the city called Puerto. We had to go to Puerto three times in one week for district meeting, zone conference, and for a zone activity. Needless to say, we've had a lot to do.

For our zone activity, we got to go to "The Underground River" which is the only time in our mission that we can ride a boat, but here we got to do it in a cave. It is pretty amazing to see the things that the Lord can create. We first got to see how the Lord has made a huge hole run under a mountain, and then we got to see how He can make the ocean a pretty rough place. We almost didn't get off the beach, because the huge waves kept pushing the boats back onto shore. Eventually, we were able to break through and get to the other beach where the car was parked.

The week wasn't all fun and games though; we had an amazing zone conference. In December, we set a new record in our mission for the highest baptisms in a month, but the APs and President know that we can do better. At zone conference, we focused on how we can change little things in ourselves to better help the mission. They did things a little different by having us go into a room by ourselves and "find our own sacred grove." We got to spend 30 minutes just praying and trying to listen to what the Lord would have us do. Of course on a mission we are always praying and trying to listen to the spirit of the Lord, but it's rare that we can do it alone.

I personally had an amazing experience just speaking one on one with my loving Heavenly Father. Someone later pointed out how great an opportunity it is that we can speak to an all knowing, all powerful Being whenever we need to. Prayer is something we shouldn't take lightly. I learned a lot from those 30 minutes, and I just wanted to invite all of you to take 30 minutes, by yourself, and have a conversation with the Lord. We are now using the things we learned from that experience to better ourselves to help better bring the Lord's children to him; it is a great work to be a part of.

Love, Elder Smith

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hello everyone,

First off, p-day was awesome! Because we are so far from President Howard, we have another "Mission President" here whose name is President Thomas. He is just like a mission president but is still a councilor to President Howard. President Thomas picked us up on our p-day and took me and three other missionaries to a place called Taytay. My area is the farthest area north but this place is another hour farther than mine. He took us there to look for an apartment so they can put new missionaries there.

After that, he let us check out an old Spanish fort on the beach. Then, he took us to a place called El Nido which is for sure the most beautiful beach I've seen in my life. That was the extent of my p-day, but I thought I would tell you about it and hopefully you don't get maingit (jealous) haha :) Don’t worry I will send you a few pictures when I get a chance. I had a really good time, but it was also great to do all that stuff with President Thomas and see the spirit that he always carries with him.

We have been really busy this week just trying to find people who are ready for the gospel. The people here are great and always welcome us into their homes but it is a little hard finding people who will seek for the truth and are willing to pray to receive an answer from the Lord. We found a family of twelve who are really receptive so we are just trying to work around their busy schedule to find time to teach them. Despite their busy schedule, three of them came to church and seemed to really enjoy it. They are so busy that it’s been hard to find time to even talk to them; but we have been praying for them and I have faith that the Lord will provide a way for them to listen.

That’s what’s going on in Roxas; thank you for all your prayers and letters. I love you all and I always keep you in my prayers.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, January 3, 2011

Maligayang Bagong Taon,

I can’t believe it’s already 2011! The time is going way fast over here for me. My area is really great; I can see a lot of potential here. Right now we are actually working on two areas about 20 miles apart. We live in Roxas and we go to Magara about twice a week. We are hoping to start building that area and see if we can start a branch. The Magara area is actually where we seem to be having the most success. We are just trying to get the investigators over there to gain a strong enough testimony to be baptized and support a new branch. The funny thing is we have several eight and nine year old children that love going to church but I don’t think they are ready for a church calling in a branch. If you remember, I would appreciate your prayers asking the Lord to testify to the people in Magara. They enjoy learning the gospel and they believe it’s true because we say so, but they haven’t received a strong assurance from the Lord.

This area is very maganda (beautiful) with the ocean and mountains and jungles; it’s really far from city life. Over this week, I’ve wondered if this place is too far from city life because for some reason they like to shut the power off. There has only been one day this whole week where I’ve woken up and we still had electricity. The power usually goes off at about four in the morning and then comes back on at about 8:30. Do any of you know how hard it is to get a good shave while using a candle? Harder than shaving is trying to iron your shirt. Without power, the ironing isn’t possible; I know from experience. We were washing laundry this morning (by candle light) when the water stopped working too. But despite all the temporal stuff, I’m have a great time serving the Lord. I love you all.

Love, Elder Smith