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