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