Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Email from October 26th


Good work on my old room - it is hard to say Cody's room. You will have to send me a picture of what it looks like, but it sounds good.

A missionary returned the other day from his mission in Washington to our ward. I asked him his name and he said Elder Hineb ... I mean ... Nate. It was funny how he looked for all the world like a missionary without a name tag. He just seemed to naturally congregate with the other missionaries wherever we were talking and stuff like that. He just had missionary-ish mannerisms. It will probably be difficult for me to adjust to saying my name is Matt again. I hope I don't forget what my first name is within the next two years.

Congratulations on being done with Sis. Bird's house. That must be a welcome relief. I am glad you are being such a good example of a visiting teacher.

Ouch. Sorry to hear that BYU and the U didn't do too well. It's probably your fault for leaving Super Saturday early. I hope you learned your lesson. Just kidding, but wouldn't it be funny if BYU or the Jazz prospered or failed based on the faithfulness of the members in Utah? Then the coach of the Jazz would probably ask everyone in the audience to say a prayer before every game started.

Sorry you guys didn't get anything hunting. How far away was the deer Cody couldn't shoot at? Who rode which horse? I will make sure to include in my weekly letter to President Sorensen your advice that Holiday should be open earlier to not miss out on revenue from hardcore hunters. I hope you have fun pheasant hunting.

The birthday party sounds like it was a hoot. Falconing is way cool and red-tails are pretty. Did Delaney and Cody wear a glove to feed it? Did Peyton get to feed it? Do you know if the falconer guy goes falconing-hunting with his hawk? Way to go Delaney for being super-fluent (but not superfluous) in Spanish. I hope you can transfer on up to Spanish 4. That would be awesome. But who ate your eraser?

Well done Peyton at the primary program. I can't believe you memorized 3 different parts and the harmony to the song, and on such short notice. That must have been hard.

I love 3rd Nephi! It is probably my favorite book in the BOM. I really like the scripture in chapter 10 where it says "how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chicks" and chapter 11 when Christ comes to the Nephites. The rest of the book is good, too, of course. The only book I might like better than 3rd Nephi is Alma because it has so many good scriptures and stories, but it is probably an unfair comparison becuase Alma is so much longer.

To answer your questions: yes, church news is kosher for us to read. Thanks Diane for the conference issue.

We still get a ride to church with Bro. Davis. After Sacrament Meeting we go to Gospel Principles class, which is like gospel doctrine but more simplified. That is the class to which we take any investigators. I like the Gospel Principles book a lot. It just makes things so easy to understand. Like President John Taylor taught, "It is true intelligence for a man to take a subject that is mysterious and great in itself and to unfold and simplify it so that a child can understand it"

The church is about 10-15 miles from our apartment, I think. We do not live in the same building as the other missionaries in our ward. They are Elder Carter and Elder Leake, and they live in Parma, which I think is about fifteen miles from us. However, there are some places where more than one companionship live in the same apartment. I think the Spaniards live like that and maybe two or three other places as well.

No, we are not making much progress with any of our old people. Yes, we found some new people. This week we actually did really well when it comes to finding people. We had set a goal to find four new investigators this week, which is higher than most areas. We ended up finding seven new people, thanks to the helpfulness of the ward members. We went teaching with members twice this week, and both times we had lots of set appointments. Well, most of the appointments either called us to reschedule or no-showed, but we brought the members with us to our back-up plans (that is going to be another thing tough to get used to when I come home: not having a plan and one or two back-up plans for every minute of the day. I won't know what to do with myself.), which consisted of contacting media referrals. We ended up teaching several of them, and it made it even better that we had members with us. I am definitely gaining a strong testimony of member involvement in missionary work; whenever we have members with us teaching, the Spirit is stronger and the lessons just seem to go better. Some of the people we found this week have a lot of potential. Our zone leaders also left a message for our whole zone that the zone's numbers have been off the charts this week, so that was encouraging. We had zone conference this week and it was really good. President and Sister Sorensen, President and sister Titera (Stake President), the APs and the ZLs all spoke. It was really good. We talked a lot about how we can adjust our teaching to meet different peoples' needs.

Cody can use my ghillie suit for halloween, hunting, etc. I just want it back in two years. I am pretty sure it was hanging in my closet when I left. It's the green leafy one, you can't miss it.

When you say the lady you met playing volleyball whose son is in the OCM do you mean that he lives in the mission boundaries or that he is a missionary?

I didn't get the box yet, but I'll look out for it.

Sorry I haven't been very diligent about taking pictures. I'll work on that.

Elder Smith


Friday, October 23, 2009

Letter received October 22nd

Oct. 18, 2009

Dear Family,

Today is Sunday night and I'll be e-mailing you tomorrow, so I'm sorry if I am repetitive.

I am glad you were able to feed the sisters. So, I never really paid attention to the missionary setup in Utah. How many wards does each companionship cover? Here in the Cleveland 1st ward there are two companionships in the ward, but I seem to remember it wasn't like that back home.

I never really thought about if people are nervous to feed us. Maybe they are, but I think that a lot of them have fed the missionaries so many times that they don't even worry about it. maybe I'm wrong though. I never asked. That is really cool that Peyton and another girl both gave them a referral for Summer. That would be exciting.

Because it is getting colder and rainier, we are pretty much done with the bikes for the year. We walk now. Alot! We are tracting more now and getting fewer media referrals. We are hoping that our increased emphasis on family mission plans will yield more member referrals.

So today we went with Bishop Shaw to visit less-active members. That was cool - we found a few families we want to work on reactivating. Perhaps even better, we got to work with the Bishop and continue gaining his trust, which "Preach my Gospel" says is important.

I got to teach another lesson in Spanish the other day. We were tracting a street in the drizzling rain, not having much success. A couple houses up someone came out and stood at the curb with an umbrella, looking like she was waiting for someone to pick her up or something on the other side of the street. We tracked on, but I kept feeling like we needed to talk to her, so we turned around and went over to her. She spoke Spanish, so I had to do all the talking, but I taught her most of the 1st lesson and she agreed to have the "Spaniards" come over and share more with her. That was fun. I just wish I knew more gospel terms in Spanish.

Yesterday was Stake Conference and there were some really good talks. President Sorensen was there and he talked about his testimony of the Book of Mormon. It was much like Elder Holland's talk in general conference. We didn't get to go to the Saturday session, unfortunately.

I haven't had to speak in church yet, just bear my testimony.

Elder Smith

Monday, October 19, 2009

E-mail from October 19th


I'm still doing great, and enjoying the respite from the cold and rain - today it is sunny and in the sixties I think. I wrote a letter yesterday and sent it today so sorry if I am repetitive and boring. Sorry I haven't taken many pictures, but I will send home the SD card sometime soon. I hope you enjoyed the deer hunt and taking a nap. Those both sound delightful.

Regional conference sounds like it was great. How big is a region? We had stake conference yesterday and it was really good. President and Sister Sorensen spoke, as well as the stake presidency and the president and matron of the Columbus, Ohio temple. Last month was the tenth anniversary of the Columbus temple's dedication, so our stake had a temple trip. The temple president said in his talk that another stake decided they wanted to 'create' a stake on the other side of the veil. I guess the magic number for a stake is something like three thousand members, so that stake wanted to do the work for three thousand people. The temple president said they had done the work for three thousand people and more, and they were at about fifteen hundred names submitted and still working on it. I thought that was a pretty cool project. It is such a strange thought that they have to commute for hours to get to a temple. I remember at general conference everyone was holding their breath and crossing their fingers as President Monson announced the new temples, hoping that we would get one in Cleveland. If a stake from Cleveland can do that much work at a small temple like Columbus, imagine how much more responsibility we have and how much work we can do if we live very close to lots of large temples where you don't even need an appointment! It is cool that you are going to the temple weekly - have you already been able to recognize the blessings that are coming from that?

I will ask Sister Gibbs or Sister Moore, I can't remember which of them does mail (they are both senior sister missionaries) why some letters are being returned. What dates were they sent?

I haven't received dad's email yet, but I will check again before I leave. The library we email from is not very close to our house. We meet the Strongsville elders - Elder Brown and Elder Allan - in the morning on P-days and do everything together. We alternate weeks - one week we will take the rapid to the Brookpark Road station and they will drive there and pick us up, and the next week we will take a combination of buses to a stop right up the street from their house. It is easier for us to take the rapid and it takes less time, but they have to drive farther to pick us up, so every other week we take the bus, which takes longer and is less convenient, but saves them miles. (Every car area is allotted a certain amount of miles per month.) Then we email, shop, etc. and eventually we usually meet the rest of our district at the church or wherever we are doing our district P-day activity which we usually do. This week, though, it is just going to be the Strongsville elders coming to our apartment to play euchre because the sisters have something else they are doing and the Elder Carter has to go to the Cleveland Clinic to talk about getting some huge moles looked at or something along those lines. I am excited to learn how to play euchre.

Okay, update of who we are working with:

Pauly: Sadly, she dropped off the face of the earth for about a week, and her boyfriend said that she was just having a meltdown like she does every few months and that she would be back eventually. We found out that she has several mental illnesses and we are probably going to stop teaching her. That made me really sad, since she seems to have a testimony. We are going to continue trying to get back in contact with her, but whenever we are over she always seems to be too sick to talk to us. It looks like we will probably end up dropping her, though.

Reba: New investigator we got as a referral from the APs this week. We taught her once and committed her to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and the restoration pamphlet and pray about it. When we called back, she had read the pamphlet and introduction, and the first five chapters of 1 Nephi. That was exciting. We have another appointment with her tonight.

Orosz (Oh-rhosse) Family: They have been less active for a couple years, but they came to church last week. We were going to do service for them Saturday but their kids were sick. We have been stopping by and talking to the mom on the porch once or twice a week and we finally got an appointment where the whole family would be there last week. It is difficult because of the dad's work schedule and that we can't go in without a man there. Luckily, Brother Davis (a convert of about 5 years who is now the second counselor in the bishopric and the Orosz's home teacher) is really good about coming teaching with us a lot so we are going to start bringing him with us so that we will be able to teach them even if their dad isn't there. It definitely helps that he is their home teacher also, and has built up a good relationship with them. We are hoping to set a baptismal date with their 9-yr old daughter, Heather, pretty soon, provided the family keeps coming to church.

Jim Fritz: Less active guy who we do service for occasionally. He has some health concerns that are challenges for him, as well as word of wisdom concerns. He definitely still has a testimony of the gospel - we talk about it with him a lot - but he doesn't seem to be doing much about the word of wisdom concerns. Elder Marini and I both keep feeling like we need to keep going back and trying to get him to come to church, though.

Brenda: Referral we got from Sis. Reef, who used to be her neighbor. I think I wrote about her before but I'm not sure. We've taught her once and she seemed pretty interested. We had an appointment Friday but she had to reschedule.

Sis. Kilroy: She is a less active member in her seventies but tries to come to church every now and then. She had a stroke last week so we visited her and gave her a blessing. It sounds like the stroke was pretty small and not too serious. We do service for her occasionally like yard work and such.

Still looking for Mike. We'll find him.

That is just about it for our investigators and less active members who we are working with that are closest to being 'solid'. It seems like everyone is getting sick these last two weeks. It must be flu season or something. I would appreciate if you could remember Jim, the Orosz's, and Sis. Kilroy in your prayers that they will all be able to get better, and that Reba will know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true.

Thank you for your prayers and putting my name on the temple rolls, that is much appreciated. There is a whole lot of faith backing up me and every other missionary! Who can possibly stand against us?

No, I haven't taken a picture of the apartment building I live in yet, but I will and will mail you the SD card. Again, sorry I am not very diligent at taking pictures. You could probably look it up on google maps streetview. It is at 1210 West Blvd. You might even see Elder Marini and I walking up the street, since a google maps van with cameras all over it drove past us once. We would be on the West side of West Blvd. right around Clifton rd. (which is right next to our apartment).

What was I doing Saturday at noon, you ask? That would be around 2:00 pm my time I think, so let me check my planner...We were tracting W. 91st street, which is the street on which I got to teach a lesson in Spanish. (details in the letter I mailed today)

I look forward to receiving the thermals, that will be a welcome relief. I can't say I really NEED anything else, but I wouldn't say no to some licorice.

Delaney, how did your friendboy do at football? Was he playing in the game that Riverton got beat 35-7 by Bingham? Sorry for teasing you, but I am your big brother so it's what I do. Being on a mission just means I have to do it from a distance. Hopefully Cody is taking up the slack.

Again thank you everyone for your prayers, letters, and support. They are dearly appreciated. I love you all and I pray for you every day.

Elder Smith

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Letter from October 12th

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Surprisingly, the library is open today even though it is Columbus day. I guess the Lord really does love us.

Yes, I am staying warm and toasty. Actually a lot of the time I am too warm since they have turned the radiators on in our apartment and we don't have control over them, so on warm days like we have had the past few days, it gets hot. I enjoy the warm days, though, because I am sure there are not many of them left. I don't need sweaters or under armor, I think, but I will probably need thermals before too long.

Good job Cody for shooting the grouse. It sounds like the cabin was fun. How did you find the grouse?

So how long has Mac Evans been back? That is cool that he can bear his testimony in Farsi. I am glad that Eric is doing well. It should be pretty hot in Honduras, right? Does it get cold there? Will he have to send back the thermals and sweaters before he leaves the MTC?

Good job on not messing up while conducting relief society. I'm sure that was nerve-wracking. Imagine how Elder Eyring or whoever was conducting must have felt in General Conference when he forgot to mention those seventies who had been called!

I'm glad you had a good birthday. It sounds like everything was delicious. I'm jealous of the malts, though.

My wrist still looks pretty much the same as it did before, I think, except you can't see the stitch-marks so well. You can hardly even see the scar on my finger now, but I still can't hold it straight out. The smaller cuts and scrapes on my hand have totally disappeared. I will take some pictures and send them home.

So here's the drug dealer story, if I didn't explain it well: Elder Marini realized he had misplaced the phone after we got off of a rapid (train). We couldn't find it for a while, but we were supposed to meet a member for dinner at the rapid station so we waited for them to come pick us up. When they arrived we used their phone to call our number and someone picked up and said he had our phone and we could pick it up at the airport convenience store on Rocky River Drive. We knew where that was because one of our investigators lives in the government housing projects right next to it so we said we would be there in a few minutes. The members took us there and we waited outside the store in our black trench coats, just loitering for a few minutes, looking for all the world like drug dealers. Eventually the guy who had our phone showed up from the projects and walked up to Elder Marini, handed off the phone, and walked away. Some policemen that we hadn't noticed were there must have been watching us suspiciously, because out of nowhere Elder Marini was cornered between two very large and muscular policemen who asked him what he was selling. Elder Marini stammered out something, but then the member who was sitting in the van right next to us opened the window and explained the situation to the police officers. Also, while all this was going down, we happened across the investigator who lived near there and set up another appointment with her. So, the police sent us on our merry way and told us to be careful and we had a heck of a laugh with Elder Marini. Of course, when we were telling this story to Elder Carter, our district leader, there were fourteen policemen with shotguns at the ready and Elder Marini got tackled and frisked.

Unfortunately when we showed up at the appointment with the investigator we happened upon, her boyfriend said she wasn't there, but we saw her as we drove away. (Brother Nebeker, one of the ward missionaries, was with us, which is why we were driving away instead of walking away.) We will try her again in a few weeks.

Not much else to report this week, except that a less-active family, the Orosz's, came to church yesterday. We have been talking on the porch with sister Orosz for weeks trying to get an appointment when the whole family would be there and Saturday we finally were able to talk to them all. We invited them to church and they showed up. Hopefully we will be able to help them see the blessings that come from attending sacrament meeting and they will keep coming, although the dad's work schedule will be a challenge for him. When he can't take them, though, we have a member family who will probably be willing to give them a ride.

Oh! also we got a referral from a member for her old neighbor and had a good visit with her. We don't know if it is going to go anywhere yet, but we are hopeful. It is really great when members have the courage to talk to their friends about the gospel, and it also really invites the Spirit when members are with us at appointments when we are teaching people, since they can add their testimonies to ours and be another witness of the truth. Plus, when we bring members with us to teach and fellowship people, it helps them build relationships and friendship with the investigators so they will have a friend who is in the church who can answer their questions when the missionaries aren't around. I am learning that when members are involved, missionary work is much more effective.

Good job Peyton for inviting your friend to Activity Days. That is actually one of the reasons that helped us get the Orosz's back interested in church: a member in our ward bringing their daughter Heather to Activity Days. It was also interesting that when we talked to the Orosz's they were kind of timid to come back to church because they were afraid people would condemn them for not coming for so long. I guess when the mom came to church once last year someone said something stupid and offended her, and it has taken us months to try to repair that hurt. It is really important that we be welcoming to everyone. I think it helped that we told the bishop and everybody else that we could that they were coming so everyone was very nice and welcoming when they walked in.

Love, Elder Smith

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Missionary or drug dealer?


Dear Family,

Hello, I just thought I'd write and tell you about a funny story that happened yesterday. Elder Marini and I pretty much got mistaken for drug dealers.

It all started when Elder Marini realized he didn't have the phone. We thought he had probably lost it on the rapid (train) so we searched a few train cars and talked to the drivers, but no luck. Our dinner appointment was supposed to pick us up at a train station so we waited for them and when they arrived we used their phone to call our number. Someone answered and said we could pick up the phone at the airport convenience mart on Rocky River Drive, so we headed that way. We have an investigator in that area and it is a pretty ghetto store surrounded by government housing projects. We got to the store and proceeded to wait for our man. We were dressed up in our black trench coasts, arms folded, loitering in front of the store, looking for all the world like drug dealers. Then the guy (shabby looking) with our phone waves at us, we go pick up the phone, and we all walk away. A couple of cops had been watching us and pretty soon Elder Marini was cornered between a wall and two very no-nonsence body-builder looking cops. They already must have had us tried and convicted in their minds. It probably looked exactly like a drug deal.

It reminds me of the time dad and I got pulled over for poaching - we were already guilty.

Anyways, I just thought I'd tell you since I thought it was funny. I have an appointment to hurry off to, so goodbye.

P.S. I might not be able to email til later in the week, I am not sure.

Elder Smith

Letter During General Conference

Dear Mom and Dad,

Hello! I am doing well, as usual. Thank you for your letters and the package. It has arrived just in time to save me from a cold, windy, rainy day, much like it sounds like you are enjoying. The scarf definitely looks missionary-y. Sorry to hear the roof is leaking again. The jerky is really good. You should try it, mom. You can't even taste the lysol. Plus, it is super juicy and not dry like most jerky is. Amazing! How can it be so juicy?

I hope you get the inspiration you are looking for at conference. I can't wait for it! A lot of times Elder Marini and I will listen to old Conference talks or BYU devotional talks if we are at home during lunch or dinner.

I wrote that last night. I am now waiting for Priesthood Session to begin. What a great conference so far, though! I loved the talks! Especially Elder Scott about writing down and praying about inspiration we receive. I hope you have had some ideas about the Relief Society theme. I also really liked Elder Oaks talk about love not overriding the laws or commandments and Elder Bednar's talk about being consistent. I can just see Cody yelling "Peyton is breathing my air!" They were all really good and inspiring. I wish I had payed more attention at past conferences! Well, the Priesthood Session is starting.

Sunday morning now. Priesthood session was good. In case dad hasn't told you yet, mom, they said wives should be nicer to their husbands. (Note from Patty: According to Merrill that is what they say at every priesthood session!) In light of Elder Ballard's talk dad, I thought I should thank you for fostering the kind of relationship that Elder Ballard said is so important. I always loved being alone with you in a car, a plane, a tent, a hunting spot, or wherever so that we could talk about God, people, politics, science, school, animals, or whatever we felt like. I thought everybody had parents they could trust and talk to, and I never realized what a blessing it is. Many of our investigators here have kids but aren't married or aren't living with their spouses. I see young men acting like total punks (yes, I know I was a punk, too, but I wasn't THAT bad) and low-lifes, and I wonder if any of them would act that way if they had been raised by goodly mothers and fathers who had personal, positive relationships with them. Thank you for letting me know that if I was going to act like that or talk like that, it would earn me a few stern words and a swift kick in the rear--or worse--a disappointed and disapproving look. You are doing a good job. Keep it up. I love you.

Sunday night now. Has conference always been this good or have I just never payed attention before? Elder Holland's talk just blew me out of the water. The Spirit was SO strong, too! What a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I could study these conference talks for a month and still be getting stuff out of them.

Well, goodbye. I can't wait to read your email tomorrow!

I love you everyone!

Elder Smith

Monday, October 5, 2009

Letter from Ohio


Cody must be excited to get his new and remodeled room. Don't give in to Delaney wanting to paint her room yellow. I'm pretty sure that would be a sin. Sorry that the roof is leaky. When you say we need a new roof does that mean...new shingles? How do you replace the roof?

It sounds like the duck opener was a hoot. How many did you guys take total? Mom, were you sick or something or did she have a meeting to go to that made it so you couldn't go with them? I'm sorry you had to miss it. Cody, did you use your 870? Which gun did Delaney use? That's lucky that they didn't check Chris's license. It sounds like everybody had fun. Unfortunately I can't get this stupid library computer to show the picture. I don't know why Bo doesn't like the suburban. Maybe if you let him sit on the seats (like I did when I took him with me in the escort) he would like road trips better. That is sad to hear about Harley.

Wow Delaney, you must be pretty disappointed! First you "don't pass" your driving test and then you get a "B" on a math test! Holy smokes! You might as well just drop out now and become a ... ummm....fish farmer maybe? Or a hunting guide...or perchance an underwater basket weaver. No wait, I think you need a degree to do that. Yeah, you will probably end up as a fish farmer. Just kidding, of course, I am sure you will do just fine on your driver test and subsequent math tests. (Note from Patty: The testing was closed by the time Delaney got there to take her Driving test. They were open to take our money, but had stopped administering the test by the time it was Delaney's turn.)

Hi Peyton. Don't not pass tests like Delaney does once you are back on track. Can't have all my sisters being fish farmers.

Cody, good job on covering the whole side of the field in your game, that must have been fun.
(Note: Cody's team only had 5 players show up, so they forfeited but still played a game for fun, and Cody was the 3rd baseman, shortstop, and left fielder. BTW - they won)

I hope you watched the conference talk in priesthood session about what sons need to do to have a good relationship with their dads. I really liked that talk. Chuck Norris can blow bubbles with beef jerky. Watching conference was awesome! We got to watch it at the church here which I thought was the coolest thing ever. We got home from priesthood session at about 10:45 or so, I think. Everything is delayed by two hours here from Utah time. The conference talks were really good, though. I like how the whole theme of the conference seemed to be love. Did you find some inspiration as to what the relief society theme should be for next year? Yesterday (Sunday) the ward had a potluck between the sessions. Saturday our district ate at a chinese buffet between sessions.

Yep, I got the package, and thank you very much. The weather is definitely getting colder, but some days, like today, you can hardly tell. Today it is nice and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and a balmy 50 degrees! The rest of this week has been kind of rainy, sleety, windy, and cold, though, so I am glad you sent the package with the winter stuff. You will probably need to send some thermals (but not thermal garments, I have heard bad reviews from all the missionaries I talked to about them), since I guess it gets pretty cold and snowy in the winter, if you can spare any during hunting season, if not I can buy them here. The jerky is delicious and juicy beyond belief.

That must be hard for Elder Fleischel to be all locked down and not able to work very much if at all. They asked us in conference to pray for the areas where we can't send missionaries yet, but I guess we should also pray for the areas where we can send missionaries as well. I hope Eric doesn't have too much trouble. Do you know if all of Honduras's missionaries are in lock down or just Elder Fleischel's area?

Yes, transfers are just once every six weeks, so I get to stay here in the 'hood for at least that long. Unfortunately, this week hasn't been very succesful. We have dropped or been dropped by several investigators this week and it didn't seem like anybody wanted to talk to us. But we are praying and fasting to be able to find people who are ready to hear and accept the restored gospel. People like Mike. Still haven't found him yet, though, but we will. I guess that President Petersen (the old mission president) said in a mission conference that every area has at least ten people in it at any time that are prepared and ready to accept the gospel. We just have to find them. One person we are hopeful about is Sister Ondrick, who recently moved into our ward. She is not active, but when we visited her she said she would like to come to church and just needs a ride. If we can find a ride to church for her every week we think she might return to active church membership. It's just up to the ward to be willing to make the sacrifice to drive her to church. We also have the same problem with another lady, Sister Orosz, who can't drive to church and needs a ride. We will keep working with both of them and hopefully they will see the importance of taking the sacrament and attending church every week and become active again. Pauly, we found out, is back in town. She is an investigator who we lost contact with for a while but we hope to be able to start teaching her again.

Well, that is about it for now. I sent a letter today, so you should get it pretty soon I hope.

Love, Elder Smith

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Letters to Katie and Diane

To Katie's family:
Hello! How are things going? I am doing just great. I am still psyched about finding Pauly and Merle - you can read about them on the blog. We had an appointment with them today but they weren't there, but I am still excited about them.

That is hilarious that AJ ripped one right in the middle of the ordination. I don't know if I could have kept from laughing. Did the person doing the ordination hear it? I got a letter from Diane and she said she was laughing her head off.

What do you think about Delaney having a text plan? I hope you didn't let yourself get recruited to fight for her. We have a cell phone for each companionship here. We get referrals from church headquarters via text messages on our phones. We can't send texts though, only the AP's can do that. Maybe the ZL's too. I don't really think Delaney needs a text plan though.

Thank you so much for the letters and package. I thought all the cartoons I had seen about missionaries being crazy about mail were hyperboles. I am not so sure now. Elder Marini and I are always so excited to get mail! And when I got to the library on Monday and didn't see an email from home I was devastated. (Luckily it arrived before I left.) Eating candies makes it much easier to stay alert in the morning during personal study, so thank you.

I am getting much better at speaking black and understanding it, but some people have heavier accents than others or talk faster and they are still difficult to understand. There is also a bunch of missionary slang that I am starting to get used to as well.

I'm glad AJ likes preschool. I seem to remember preschool was much more fun than the rest of school though. I am sure you still think of an amazing and original idea for Christmas Eve. I can't wait to find out what everybody makes.

To Diane's family
Hello, how are things going? I am indeed well and enjoying the lovely fall weather. The temperature has been nice - usually in the 70's and sunny, but it is a lot more humid on some days. Yesterday was super humid and muggy. It felt like walking through a cloud. Plus, Elder Marini and I went over to do service for an old lady in our ward who lives with her sister who is a member, and we had to mow her lawn - which was over a foot tall - with a rotary push mower. I am not talking like a push mower with a gasoline engine, we do that all the time, this was an old-style contraption where the pushing makes the blades rotate. The grass was so long we had to go over it again and again, and it would get gummed up with grass every foot or two. It was tough. I won't even start talking about her 2 window air conditioner behemoths we had to move.

Thank you SO much for the letters and package - they contain just about everything I could ask for. Thanks especially for the Nesquick - I haven't had chocolate milk for a month! It's funny how I drink a lot less milk when I have to pay for it, huh? The best part, of course, is the letters. Elder Marini & I always can't wait to check the mail every day.

Congratulations on your elk, Randy! I can't wait to see pictures! I have no idea at all why Diane and my mom don't want magnificent, majestic, beautiful dead animals hanging on their walls. What could possibly look better on the wall? (Except a picture of Christ, the 1st Presidency, the 12, etc.)

Keep on keeping an eye on Delaney for me. This "friend boy", Nick, sounds a wee bit suspicious...

I'm glad some pictures got put on the blog, that is cool. The "armor of god" poster isn't actually mine, that is Elder Waterman's, my district leader. He goes home this transfer. Transfers are this coming Wednesday (today is Friday, Sept. 25th). So I should find out Tuesday if I am staying in Cleveland or going to a new area, if Elder Marini will stay or go, and if I will have a new companion. I am pretty excited to find out. (Note from Patty: Matt and Elder Marini both stayed.)

We have 4 people we are actively in contact with and teaching right now. Tenika, Dorothy, and Pauly & Merle. That doesn't count the less-active members and part member families we are working with. I will try to include a fuller description of everyone we are working with on the blog from now on.

Alyssa, Lauren, and Brynlee, I love the name you have for Randy's elk - Bob! No, I haven't had any baptisms yet, but I am meeting lots of new friends and investigators. Surprisingly enough, I actually have not yet had a door slammed in my face. I will be sure to share the package with Elder Marini. I haven't had any new spiritual experiences that were that exciting, but earlier today my companion and I were teaching a lady about the Book of Mormon and testifying about it and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost and the Spirit was really strong. That is a spiritual experience, even though it isn't anything supernatural or anything. What did you build your fort out of?

Wow, I just looked back at this letter - sorry my handwriting stinks so much. You'll need a urim & thummim to interpret!

Again, thank you for your letters, prayers, packages, & love! They are much appreciated!

Love, Elder Smith