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