Monday, March 29, 2010

Another New Companion


My week has been great, thank you for asking. Not any new investigators to really speak of. No investigators came to church this week, but one of the less active members that we visit all the time, Bro. Scott, came to church this week again - that's twice in a row! That was exciting. No, I haven't heard anything more about Tim. Elder Pickett got transferred out of Cleveland so I don't know either of the missionaries there anymore.

The Spanish is going good. Elder Wells' visa is all in order now, though, so he left for the mission home yesterday and his flight for Argentina leaves today. My new companion is Elder Gullerud. He is from Oregon, he's been out for 5 months, he has 5 brothers/sisters, and he likes to ski and build robots. That's about as far as we've gotten so far. He was serving in the Perrysburg area, which neighbors ours, 'til yesterday. His former companion, Elder Munson, is now serving in a triple-up companionship with Elder Carter and Elder Robison, the other elders in our ward. (the area they were previously serving in is now closed.) Now everybody in our ward gets to feed 5 people instead of 4! Yay!

I'm glad everybody had a good time in St. George and a great meal of steak and monkey juice when you got home. I can tell the church is still true in Ohio because the monkey juice still tastes as good here. Good job dancing well. I don't know about the dancing boys, though, Delaney.

So, hasn't Dad run whole marathons in less than 3:19:50? That must have been a nice, relaxing race. Was the second-to-last place runner's time 3:19:49 or something like that?

I'm glad we're getting a new horse. We definitely needed one. I like the sound of the stretch limo quarterhorse, if that makes any difference. Hopefully nobody complains in the next 15 months.

Did you buy any more guns while Mom was in St. George, Dad? I think we need another one.

Way to go on the charity jar. Have you set a goal for how much you want to get this year? That $20 won't hurt. Remember, "When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates" (- Pres. Monson, PMG ch. 8)

Yeah, I can't wait for conference. It's like Christmas for missionaries! 1 conference. 2 days. 4 sessions. 8 hours. Thousands of locations. (any idea how many churches the church owns?) I'll look out for Bro. Neu.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to some good weather again. Biking in the rain isn't fun.

Love You!!

Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, March 22, 2010

Letter from President Sorensen

Dear Brother and Sister Smith,

We are pleased to inform you that your son, Elder Matthew Kay Smith, has been called to serve as a trainer to a new missionary, Elder Steven Daniel Wells.

This is a tremendous responsibility for him - the most vital role a missionary can have is training a new missionary. Sister Sorensen and I have every confidence in Elder Smith's ability and desire to assist Elder Wells to become the missionary that Heavenly Father has planned for him to be. You must be very proud of Elder Smith, as he is an outstanding Elder and has served faithfully and diligently in every calling he has been given. He excels in gaining love and acceptance from investigators. He is truly a disciple of the Lord.

I am looking forward to Elder Wells becoming the missionary that Elder Smith will be training him to be. Thank you for raising and sharing your wonderful son, and supporting his devotion to the Lord.


President Darwin D. Sorensen

Training a Greenie

Hello from the previously warm and sunny city of Toledo, OH!!!!!

I say previously because today looks like Dad's and Elder Marini's descriptions of SeattleI'm doing great, though.

My companion's name is Elder Steven Wells, and he's from Billings, Montana. He's been out for 5 days now and he's already a great teacher and missionary. He was in the MTC for 11 weeks because he was waiting for a visa to the Argentina Bahia Blanca mission, but he got sent here to the OCM to serve until it comes through.

I definitely know that the Lord answers prayers because every time I pray for a good companion, I get one. (I always pray for good companions, of course). I don't know if I fully appreciate having good companions because I've never really had a bad one, but I'm just fine with that.

It's a lot of fun to be able to use my Spanish more extensively. We've got some dinner appointments with native spanish-speaking members just so we can practice Spanish. (mostly so he can practice Spanish, actually) He took Spanish 3 years in High School and 3 months at the MTC so he's pretty good at it. He knows a lot of gospel terms that I don't and I help him with grammar and non-gospel words as much as I can.

Investigators: We found a couple new investigators this week who are pretty exciting, and a couple old ones are still investigating. You can pray specifically for Mike - he's a single dad, he's pretty ghetto, but he recognizes that we've been a good influence in his life and that his 2 little girls need to grow up learning about Christ. He got anti'ed by a pastor and has trouble believing in the Book of Mormon, but he said he'll pray about it. Please pray specifically for him to be able to recognize the Spirit's answer. Also please pray for Denee (duh-NAY) to receive a witness from the holy ghost that the Book of Mormon is true and for her mom's heart to be soft and for her to be interested in the Gospel.

Have you heard anything lately about how Chris's or Nate's missions are going? How long have they been out now?

I was really excited when President Sorensen told me I'd be serving with somebody going to Argentina - I was hoping it would be the Resistencia mission.

Way to go on the home teaching, guys! How are family prayer, scripture study, and temple attendance going?

Yes, we are 100 % biking. There is public transportation in Toledo, but it's not extensive enough to really be of use to us and the mission doesn't give us bus passes.

I talked to Elder Pickett at transfer meeting and Tim might be getting baptized soon. I guess he hasn't smoked in weeks. That's pretty exciting.

Sorry for the dearth of letters everybody - I'm working on it, but there's just no time as a missionary. I'll do better this week. Don't anybody go quoting Alma 60 on me!

Elder Matthew Smith

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Email from 3/16/10


Sorry I think I forgot to remind you that this is transfers week so our P-day/emailing is on Tuesday (today) instead of Monday. On the plus side, we're emailing at a library today so I get a full hour.

Yes, thanks for the box. It arrived at the post office a couple days ago, but I haven't been able to get there to pick it up yet. (they won't leave it at our apartment since it isn't secured entry.) It's tough on bikes. Hopefully we can get it sometime today.

Good job speaking in church! I'm sure it was just fine. The important part isn't what you say, it's what the spirit says to people. I love how you can listen to a great talk and get insights from the spirit that have little or nothing to do with the subject of the talk. Sorry your talk couldn't have been longer, though.

So the weather here has been amazing - bright sunny blue skies and warmth. Even when the weather is bad it is only raining instead of snow.

Sorry I haven't had much time to write letters this week. It is transfers and everything has been kind of hectic. Elder Ehlert is getting transferred, so he has to pack and everything else he needs to do. I am pretty bummed that I only got to serve with him for one transfer - he's a really good missionary and we had a lot of success together (see PMG ch. 1 for what success is). He has probably been my best companion so far, so I am pretty sad to see him go. He is really diligent and obedient, which is nice and will be a great blessing to his future companions, investigators, and himself.

Elder Farmer is also getting transferred, unfortunately, as well as Elder Talbot (he is "shotgun training" - getting shotgunned into an area with a greenie). I am really going to miss serving around both of them. This is definitely the mightiest district I've served in so far, but now everybody is leaving except for me and Elder Robison (Elder Farmer's companion). I'm not going to have anybody with whom to talk about ridiculously deep doctrine anymore, either.

I am staying in this area, so that makes things a little simpler for me. President Sorensen told me my new companion is going to be a "Spaniard" - a missionary who was called Spanish-speaking. I had to dig up my Spanish PMG and BOM. We'll try to find some Spanish-speaking investigators or formers who we can teach together to help him get some practice for when he actually has to speak Spanish all the time. I am pretty excited to be able to study Spanish every day and hopefully improve a lot and get almost back to the level I used to be at. I've lost a lot of the more technical grammar, but I think my pronunciation is still pretty good (or bad, depending on how you think of it - the native speakers I talk to all say I talk like a Mexican, and I don't really like listening to Mexican Spanish compared to other accents). One challenge will be learning all the gospel-specific terms that I never really worried about before.

As for the work in this area, we haven't seen much progress with the investigators we already had, but we have been blessed with a little more success in finding new investigators, especially the other day as we followed a prompting of where to go and tract. We were able to find someone who Elder Ehlert and Elder Head (his trainer) had talked to at the beginning of last transfer, but who had fallen through the cracks somehow and they hadn't visited again. She had been reading the Book of Mormon and she said she had a page and a half of questions about it in her notebook. I am excited for our return appointment with her.

You asked if I had stayed healthy over the winter. That depends - is winter over yet? I got strep throat a couple days ago, but Dr. Aldous (the full-time senior missionary health representative over our mission and the others in the northwest area) prescribed some amoxicillin for me and I'm getting better. It was pretty cool how fast it worked. I called Sis. Sorensen, she said to call Dr. Aldous, so I did, he called the pharmacy up the street, and I walked in and picked up the prescription - interestingly, It was free, they didn't ask for ID, and I never had to see a doctor or take a strep test. I had thought it would be a lot more complicated and time-consuming than that.

It was steaks and shakes, Cody. Steakburgers and shakes. I don't think we have Steak n' Shake in Utah, but it's really good, so we should. Maybe you could start one with the money you're earning from the egg business.

I've been receiving letters sent to the apartment's address, but I double checked and it's just 3309 Arlington Ave, not 3309 S. Arlington Ave. Maybe that was the problem.

Could you please look a few things up for me and email them? Not having much internet access is tough sometimes.

1. A story about a man commanded by God to push a rock. He gets discouraged that the rock doesn't move, but then is reminded that he was commanded to push the rock, not move the rock, and that he has grown from his labor.

2. A poem about gratitude and attitude that goes something along the lines of ...some murmur if one cloud mars thier perfect day...some are grateful if but one streak of light breaks through the clouds...

3. A talk from a general conference in 1990 - april, I think, about what it means to endure to the end.

Sorry. I know those aren't very specific descriptions and you may not be able to find them (well, I'm pretty sure you can find the conference talk), but just do your best.

Love You!!!!

Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, March 8, 2010

Email from 3/8/10


I'm doing well. Yes, Tasha got baptized last Saturday. Yes, I know Elder Talbot - he's my district leader - he's serving with Elder Allen in the Point Place area, which borders our area on the north. He is in the Toledo 2nd ward. I talk to him just about every day on the phone, and see him a two or three times a week.

That's pretty sad to hear about Bro. Dudley. I hope the family is doing alright. Yeah, I'll probably write a note and send it to you to deliver. (A man in our ward died who was our home teacher and also one of Cody's scout leaders.)

Thanks for the weather update - rain definitely beats snow after a whole winter full of it. The 50's sounds so nice!

The missionary work is going alright here. We had some good success finding new investigators this week, but it remains to be seen if they will end up being flaky or solid. We set a baptismal date with David, one of our investigators, on Wednesday, but on Friday he called and dropped us. We think he got anti'ed. The members have been good about coming teaching with us, which adds a lot to our lessons.

No, people don't usually give us food to take home - usually we eat at their homes. We probably live 1.5-2 miles from the church. Yes, the church building looks the same as the ones in Utah. Yes, we are an amazing companionship.

Yeah, sorry the emails are shorter. We email at the family history center at the stake center, and there are only four computers and a lot of missionaries that have to email. Plus, today one of the computers is broken and someone is doing family history on another one so there are only two computers to share.

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, March 1, 2010

Email from 3/1/10


Thanks for the horse info.

So I'm looking at the picture you sent of 3309 Arlington, and my apartment building is in the picture. The parking lot and building are the UT Medical Center (it's awesome living right next to it, because we can see life flight landing a lot of times), and the brownish long building across the street on the left side of the parking lot is my apartment. I'll double check the address and get back to you, though.

I've received a couple letters - 4 maybe? - , but I can't remember exactly how many were from whom.

Yeah, the Abrahamic Covenant and the blessings associated with it are pretty cool. I recently read a talk/packet thing called "the calling and election of the houe of israel". It was a lot of fun to read about. You should check it out.

Sorry you have to talk in church. Not really, I'm sure it will be a blessing for you. I would check what PMG says about following the prophet if I were you. That's what I usually do for speaking assignments. Also, yesterday in Gospel Principles we were talking about commandments and it was interesting to see that commandments (including those received from modern day prophets and apostles) are blessings. I can't recall exactly where in the DC this quote is from, but it states that the faithful and diligent will be crowned with "blessings, and commandments not a few". see also alma 29:9

Turn signal fluid? I would assume it goes in right next to the headlight fluid.

Good job everybody at dancing, sbo-ness, and basketball. Dad and Peyton need to start playing. I'm really taking a liking to basketball now that we get to play with the zone every p-day.

We haven't found any new investigators this week (we don't count people as new investigators until we have taught them twice), but we had an awesome day yesterday. We had fasted for help finding new investigators who were prepared, and we were very blessed. On Saturday night, we saw that we had a long block of open time with no appointments and decided we could go to a farther-away area of our area where we can't usually take the time to get to. I was unsure if we really wanted to bike that far and spend so much time traveling, but we prayed about it and the Spirit confirmed our plans were what we should do. We followed the plans we made and it was amazing! We tracted a couple streets and nobody was mean to us or slammed doors, and we found like four people who wanted us to come back. Fasting is so cool.

Yes, I'm enjoying the ward and getting fed well. The apartment isn't anything special, but it aint bad.

It's a beautiful day today, but it snowed the other day. The weather has been a bit temperamental, so I'm not sure what the weather will be like in the future. no shoveling lately, but yesterday as we were heading back to the apartment for dinner (members had given us food to take home at church in the morning), we saw some people moving into an apartment across the street from us, so we stopped and helped them.

Elder Matthew Smith