Monday, January 25, 2010

It's spring in Cleveland?

Hello, happy Monday,

How is everybody doing? Sorry we weren't able to email 'til Wednesday - Monday was a holiday and we had a zone conference on Tuesday. By the way, next week is transfers, so we'll probably email on Tuesday.

Good job everybody on great grades.

Cool presents for Dad. How does the thing in the water make it look like the ducks are feeding? Does it stir up the water or something? Is the new decoy bag any less uncomfortable to carry than the old bags? I remember a lot of walking with an aching back last year when I would go hunting with Bo. Maybe that's just part of the price you have to pay - it probably wouldn't be the same if you weren't sore and achy when you got home.

That's pretty cool that you guys did baptisms on Tuesday. It's also cool that there were a lot of other people there, too. I'm so jealous that you guys get to go to the temple!

Yeah, there are a lot of spanish speakers in our area we can talk to. We go on exchanges with the Spaniards once per transfer (6 weeks). On exchanges, I go with one spaniard and Elder Pickett goes with the other for a day. It is usually a combination of tracting and appointments. Splits are done for training purposes - so we can see somebody else's teaching style and learn from eachother. Every mission leader exchanges with every unit under them once per transfer - APs exchange with zone leaders once per transfer, zone leaders exchange with district leaders once per transfer, and district leaders exchange with everyone in their district (except sisters, if any) once per transfer. So, because Elder Pickett is a district leader, we exchange once with the zone leaders every transfer and once with the spaniards (the only other companionship in our district) every transfer.

We are staying very warm. It feels like Spring right now and it has rained the past couple of days. The hand me down boots are good - and even better because they are free! The suit doesn't fit as well as the ones we bought - the sleeves are a little short - but, again, it is free. And now I don't have to get nice suits all gross, dirty, and wet when I am tracting!

Nobody came to church this week. Tim was sick and Brenda was out of town. Brenda's kids are 12, 10, and 8 maybe? Plus an older one who I think is in prison. They live with their dad & stepmom somewhere in Ohio. Maybe Ashtabula?

Yes, some of the new investigators we found last week are progressing - there is a really cool one named Tasha. She was referred by a recent convert going to the singles ward on the East Side who is preparing to go on a mission. She seems really interested and sincere, so we're pretty excited. Member referrals are always the best.

Chipotle was delicious, yes, but it was not even close to Cafe Rio. That will be high on the bucket list of things to do after I die-probably right after going to the temple. (die=go home in missionary slang).

Sorry you got braces, Cody. That bites. I'm glad you still realize the superiority of Bingham over that other school.

You shouldn't let Delaney remove the BHS parking sticker from the car. Are my spurs still hanging from the mirror?

That's awesome that Sadie and Lauren are getting baptized on the 20th! How are they so old?

IG, FG, IAG (I'm Good, Food's Good, It's All Good)

LYMNB, (Love you most - no battle)
Elder Smith

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

E-mail from 1/20/10

This e-mail contains portions of the letter I wrote to Matt, followed by his answer to the questions I wrote.


Q: How was your week? Did you have your P-day on Monday as usual, with the exception of e-mail, or did you do regular missionary stuff?

A: Our week was awesome and we had some great success. We had P-day on Monday like usual (except for emailing since the libraries were closed), but all we did was sit around at a hospital while Elder O'Neill (one of the Strongsville elders) had hernia surgery. It was pretty boring.

Q: "Did people in Cleveland have the holiday off work?"

A: I don't think so except if they work at a library or post office? I don't know.

Q: "Is it easier to make appointments on holidays like this or harder? What kind of schedules do your investigators even have?

A: "It's about the same easiness. I didn't even realize that Monday was a holiday until Sunday night. I don't think any of our investigators' schedules was affected by the holiday. At least not that we know of.

Q: "Did any of them come to church Sunday?

A: "Yes, Brenda and Tim both came to church, and Brenda brought her 3 kids (with whom she doesn't live).

Q: "Did you speak?"

A: No. Elder Pickett will be speaking this week, though.

Q: "Any progress on baptism dates?"

A: Yes. We re-set Tim's baptismal date for February 20th. He still needs to stop smoking first, though.

Q: "Do you have any new investigators, like Mike?"

A: Yes. In the past week I have been let into 2 peoples' houses while tracting! Crazy! One of them was a family who said "are y'all the Mormons?" and we said yes, and then they told us to come on in, called all the kids together, and told them to listen up because we were going to have a bible study. So we talked to the kids about loving one another and asked them what kind of things they could do to show love to their helping clean up around the house, etc. And then we talked about the restoration of the gospel. I guess the mom had met with missionaries years and years ago.

The other time we got let in was yesterday. I was (actually, I still am) on exchanges with Elder Divett in the Cleveland Spanish area. We were talking about Joseph Smith on her doorstep and she invited us in because it was "cold" outside. (in reality it wasn't - it was at least 30 degrees, and a beautiful day). So we taught her and she told us to come back today, but she wasn't there when we came back.

So what did Cody get for his birthday (other than braces)? I can't believe he is excited for braces... he'll get over it, I'm sure. (Note from Patty: I think Matt missed the sarcasm of my comment about Cody being excited to get braces.) The klondike sounds like it was fun. I'm glad Cody wasn't a whiner. Keep me posted on his eagle project.

With whom did Dad go on his missionary split? The sisters? It's weird to think of us having a convert baptism in our home ward - we live in Utah for heavens' sakes! Have the missionaries been teaching Jim? That is so cool that he wants to get baptized! Who else did they visit other than Jim?

Wow...I've only been gone for 6 months and already the ward is falling apart - Bro. Allred has MS, Warts got put down, Bros. Clawson and Erickson got hurt, you hurt your shoulder. What's next? Don't make me come back there.... (just kidding).

Yes, I got boots. I inherited Elder Wayment's when he left. It's amazing the things you can dig up in old missionary apartments - food that expired in the '90s, old discussion pamphlets, I even got another suit from "leftovers".

Yeah, the weather here has been really mild lately. All the snow is melting and it's even getting up into the 40's. The lake is frozen now, which is pretty cool.

Luckily, our meal calendar got passed around the RS this week, so we have meals again. I got all the stuff I need for fajitas, now I just have to find a time that I can make them. It's also hard because we have to be in and out the door for dinner within one hour, so I have to plan ahead for when I'm going to let the meat thaw and stuff.

That seems weird that the Cali missionaries would have to cook for themselves - I thought the church was a lot stronger there than here.

Congratulations on finishing the Book of Mormon! That's awesome! Don't forget to pray to know that it is true! That's something else I learned recently - even though we may already have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, that doesn't nullify Moroni's promise at all - we are still entitled to have our prayers answered even if we already know it's true. I guess I shouldn't say I learned that recently. Obviously I already knew that, but I just never really had a very strong testimony of it before.

I'm good, the food is plentiful, it's all good!

Love, Elder Smith

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

E-mail 1/11/10

Hello! Happy Birthday Cody!

That's pretty cool that Dad would play Rock Band with you! No way! Did he actually like it and have fun or just do it to make you guys happy? That's so cool!

I'm glad everybody in our neighborhood back home is being nice and neighborly. We say hi to everybody in our apartment complex and a couple people we see regularly recognize us and say hello. I guess a lot of the students in the ward who are from out west are kind of shocked at how standoffish, not-nice, unneighborly, etc. their neighbors are.

That's horrible that somebody would 1. take a phone into a temple session, 2. have it ring, and 3. answer it! Terrible! It seems like that would be common sense and you wouldn't need to have a church lesson on it, but I guess not.

I might get to speak in sacrament next week - Bro. Davis will tell me sometime in the week.

Yep, I sent out like 10 letters last week. I am missing some peoples' addresses, though, because I either threw away the envelopes they came in or I couldn't read the writing on the return address. I also sent you the letter I sent out to people and wrote which addresses I needed on the back of it or somewhere, but I guess you didn't get it yet. I can't remember which ones I am missing at the moment, but please send me those peoples' addresses when you get the letter.

So what do the ward missionaries talk about in our home ward? Activation and retention? What are lap weights?

Zion's mall sounds like it will be pretty cool. Is it for the RS or the YW?

Sounds like everybody had a pretty easy cow elk hunt. At least you were prepared, though.

Our weather is snowy, snowy, snowy. We saw the sun for the first time in weeks the other day, but now it is snowy again. Also cold. We bundle up pretty well, though.

I hope you guys have fun at Klondike. Did you make a sled and everything?

I haven't made fajitas yet, but I got your box the other day and I'll buy the necessary supplies today since it's P-day. Fajitas call for a lot of things that you don't generally find in a missionary apartment (I looked 3 times through the recipe trying to figure out where to put the ramen noodles).

How are our meals going? We only had 2 meals scheduled with members this week, so we not-so-subtly mentioned to a few people that we had nothing planned on several evenings and now we have 5 meals. Also, I put a few quotations from the latter half of Matthew 25 on the cover of the meal calender that gets passed around Relief Society, so maybe that will help motivate people in the future."for I was an hungred and ye fed me; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink""Lord, when saw we thee an hungred and fed thee, or thirsty and gave thee drink?""Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."I didn't write down the last couple verses about what happened to those who did NOT feed or give drink unto the least of these his brethren...I thought that might be a little too much.

I'm glad Delaney is having fun driving. We saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said "If you don't like the way I drive, then get off the sidewalk!" I thought it was pretty funny.

Thanks for all the pictures included in your last letter, that was fun to see. Isn't Penny just so cute!?!

Cody's eagle project sounds really cool! Do I know who AJ is? What timetable is he looking at for completion of the project? Are all the scouts going to be helping with it? Are they all going to go up together on a Tuesday or two and do it or what?

What do you want for your birthday, Cody? Probably kind of hard to say right after Christmas, huh? Tell me what you get.

So, we have a car now. It's about to be sold so we only get it for a few weeks, but it's a good sight better than nothing. Yes, the GPS is beneficial, thank you.

Latest on investigators:

Tim&Barbara: Dropped their baptismal dates; we don't think they're ready quite yet. Tim came to church last week and yesterday. We are still teaching them, trying to get the whole apostasy and restoration and authority idea into their heads. And Tim is still smoking a little, which is too much.

Destiny: Didn't show to church this week, but we're still teaching her. She just really needs to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. That's what we're focusing on with her.

Brenda: Has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it, but isn't sure she's received an answer yet. Please pray with us that she will receive and recognize the Holy Ghost, or that we will be guided to find out why she isn't.We were at another investigator's house and she gave us a Catholic prayer book that had belonged to some deceased cousin. She thought it was a bible. (obviously she hadn't read it).

Love, Elder Smith

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Letter to the Costanza's dated 12/30/09

Dear Diane, Randy, & Kids,

Hello! How did everybody's Christmas go? Ours was great. Poor Elder Pickett thought he was going to have his first ever white Christmas (he's from California), but it started raining Christmas Even night and washed away all the snow. It snowed hard on the 27th and 28th, though, so now we have a couple inches again.

Thanks you all very much for the Christmas package you sent. Yes, I did receive it in time for Christmas. On Christmas; we slept over at the house of the other elders in our ward. We had breakfast with a member family, lunch at the mission home, and dinner with a senior missionary couple. And, of course, we got to call home, which was definitely the highlight of the day.

I sounds like you guys had quite the adventure in Logan. Hardware Ranch, Christmas Festivals, Live Nativities, bullet holes in the hotel window...what more could you ask for?

So what did everybody make and receive for Christmas Eve? Where was the party? What was the coolest thing anybody made?

I'm glad everybody was able to dance at their recitals - being sick is no fun at all. I've been staying healthy so far, but Elder Pickett seems like he might be getting sick.

What are your plans for New Years' Eve? Is somebody in the family hosting a party? I don't know who that would all work with Lori not taking care of everything. Crazy.

Per your question, neither me nor Elder Pickett got transferred. We are here for six more weeks. We have a 3rd companion, Elder Wayment, who will be with us until Sunday; he goes home on Monday.

Well, I hope everyone is having a wonderful, Christ-centered Christmas and holiday season!

Elder Smith

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

E-mail from 1/4/10


Happy New Year,I'm glad you guys all had fun on New Year's Eve. So, everyone played scum while you and Diane played Wii? What did you play? I didn't know you played video games. Funny.

You'll have to send me a picture of Peyton's purple glasses.

While "The Princess and the Frog" sounds like fun, I think it will be pretty low on my "trunky list" in 2 years. I'm glad everybody liked it, though. Cody is probably just too self-conscious to admit that he liked it more than "a little bit".

I like the RS theme - "encircled in love" - should be a great idea to base all the other lessons off of. That is basically the first principle in the first discussion - "God is our loving Heavenly Father". We talked about God being our loving Heavenly Father in Gospel Principles yesterday. Does our ward even have a Gospel Principles class, or just Gospel Doctrine? Are they going to be using the new Gospel Principles Manual in Priesthood? I've decided that the Spirit must be a lot stronger in RS than Priesthood, since you hardly ever see men or women crying in Elders' Quorum. Or maybe women just feel the Spirit easier, because on the other hand you rarely see men crying in Relief Society.

Don't try to tell me that it's almost Spring! (Peyton announced Sunday morning that it is almost spring.) It's been snowing all week. It's cool, though, because they actually have snowflakes here instead of great big globs of 50 snowflakes all squashed together. I there is one good thing about not having mountains around - no inversions!

We went to a fireside at the church yesterday where Elder Lambson played a bunch of hymns. It was really cool, and it was his last one on his mission. He and Elder Wayment both fly home this morning. They should be home in a couple of hours. So, I knew Elder Lambson was good, but I didn't realize how legit he was until Bro. Wray (who was conducting the fireside) read his introduction. He has won all sorts of championships, toured Europe a bunch of times, played for the Queen of England and a bunch of other royalties, dignitaries, and bigwigs at international conferences...and, to top it all off, he lives next door to Elder Holland! Pretty cool, huh! And, of course, his music was amazing.

Tim came to church yesterday and liked testimony meeting. So did Brenda. We invited Tim to fast with us yesterday for help to quit smoking and challenged him to quit smoking within a week. I think he can do it. Brenda is really sincere in her investigation-she comes to church and reads the Book of Mormon. Now she is just waiting to receive an answer about the Book of Mormon. Destiny is out of town right now. We've found a few new people, but no one that we've taught more than once or twice yet.

Way to go Peyton! I am so proud that you are going to read the Book of Mormon this year! That is so cool! I know that as you do, you will be able to feel the Spirit more strongly and you will be able to know that the Book of Mormon is true because the Spirit will tell you so! That is so awesome!

Per your question- we are supposed to read the Book of Mormon in 90 days, circling all references to Christ by any name (Jesus, Lord, I, he, me, etc), highlighting His attributes and keeping track of them, and (in 3 Nephi 11-28) underlining things that Christ did that we can also do. Before we began, we did the "attribute activity" at the end of Ch. 6 in Preach My Gospel, and we will do it again after we finish and compare differences.

No, I don't feel neglected. The inbox is just as good as the mailbox. I'm working on replying to the letters and cards I received - there are just a lot of them and so little spare time available with which to write.

"Go Browns"? Seriously?

Elder Smith

hey, could you please send me a recipe for fajitas? Our meal coordinator got released and it looks like its' going to be a little bit slimmer pickings than normal next week.

Letter from 12/31/09

Dear Family,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone is having fun and being safe tonight. I don't want to hear about anybody doing the 'watermelon crawl'! (But it's better than driving I guess.)

Today being New Year's Even, we weren't supposed to proselyte after 5:00 p.m., so we had our weekly planning session or U.P.S. (The U is for Ultimate) tonight instead of in the morning like usual. We tracted a lot in the afternoon, but without much success. Elder Wayment goes home on Monday to Ogden. He still works hard, but he is getting pretty trunky. We went to the bank today to get him some money to pay for his luggage on the way home and he found out he has been getting hit with a monthly fee for not using his debit card often enough. Do I need to worry about anything like that?

We took Tim to Kirtland with us yesterday. That was really cool. We got to see the special international nativity display exhibit they have set up, watch the Joseph Smith movie, and tour the Newell K. Whitney store. The Spanish elders brought an investigator as well, (Elder & Sister Hartman drove us) but they separated from us so they could have the tours in Spanish. The sisters giving the tours were really good and the Spirit was strong. It was a really cool experience and I think it was really beneficial for Tim. I just hope we can start getting Barbara to participate more actively in our lessons.

So, I've realized recently that this area has really started to prosper. I didn't notice for a while because it was so gradual, but when I got here in August we had zero solid investigators and now we have baptismal dates with two and are talking about setting two more. I guess all I had to do to see the Lord's work progressing was just open my eyes.

That was so great to get to talk to y'all on Christmas! I can't wait 'til Mothers' Day now! (Surprisingly, Mother's Day has recently jumped up in the ratings to being my 2nd favorite holiday!)

I love you! Keep reading the scriptures and having family prayer! I am gaining a stronger and stronger testimony of how important those things are!

Elder Smith