Monday, May 24, 2010

Email from 5/24/2010

Happy Birthday Delaney!

Yes, I had a fun week, too. Every week is fun in the OCM!!!

?Como fue la sita, Delaney? ?Hablaste Espanol con Josep? ?Habla con un "lisp" porque es de Espana? ?Recibiste algo otro que tu nook para tu cumpleanos? ?Como funciona el nook - tienes que conectarlo a la computadora para recibir libros del internet, o puede recibirlos sin cordas o con wifi o algo asi? ?Cuesta mucho para los libros o son gratis? ?Cuantos libros caben en la memoria del nook y cual libro vas a leer primero? Es que yo tambien quisiera un nook para que no tuviera que llevar mis escrituras a todos nuestros lecciones. Antes de salir en mi mision yo tambien iba a comprar un "leedor electronico" asi como un nook pero no valio la pena porque solamente tenia un par de meses antes de mi mision. ?Cuando vas a recibir los resultos de tu examen de Espanol AP? ?Cuales otros clases AP tomaste? ?Todavia estas en escuela o ya es completo? ?Vas a tomar otra vez un clase de Espanol en el ano que viene? Es que nosotros tenemos un ciudad en nuestro area donde hay muchos mexicanos con quienes podemos hablar. Es mucho mas dificil ensenar en espanol, pero estoy agradecido que aprendi Espanol o Elder Baxter tendria que ensenarlos solos. A nadie le gusta ensenar un leccion solo y sin ayuda de su companero.

Here's a quick translation from Merrill:
How was the date, Delaney? Did you speak Spanish with Josep? Do you speak with a lisp since he's from Spain? (note: Spanish from Spain sounds like it is spoken with a lisp.) Did you get anything besides the Nook for your birthday? How does it work - Do you have to connect it to the computer to get books, or can you get them cordless with wifi or something like that? Do books cost much for it or are they free? How many books does it hold in memory, and which book will you read first on it? It's because I also would like a Nook so I wouldn't have to carry my scriptures to all our discussions. Before leaving on my mission, I wanted to buy an electronic reader like a Nook but it wasn't worth the trouble with only a couple of months before my mission. When will you get your results from the AP Spanish test? What other AP tests did you take? Are you still in school or are you out yet? Will you take another Spanish class next year? We have a city in our area where there are many Mexicans with whom we can speak (Spanish). It is much more difficult to teach in Spanish, but I am thankful that I learned Spanish or Elder Baxter would have to teach by himself. Nobody likes to teach a lesson by himself and without help from his companion.

Hmmm...Sounds like the horses need a couple hours of lunging before the next ride - or Delaney to ride them - she'd show them who's boss. Have you considered wearing spurs?

I received your letter, but I left it at home so I might not get to all the questions, but here goes:

1. Elder Baxter is from Gold River, CA (suburb of Sacramento).

2. Yes, he is called to be a Spanish speaking missionary.

3. We are teaching more in English than in Spanish - probably 20%ish of our teaching is in Spanish.

4. Things are going well with Steven - he came to church yesterday and had a good experience.

5. Besides Madison, we also work in Perry, Geneva, and sometimes Painesville (sometimes because it is not technically in our area, but we poach that area because we speak Spanish and the sisters who "own" that area don't).

6. Yes, there is a big nuclear powerplant in our area with two big huge "cloud factory" cooling towers that spout steam all day long.

7. No, I do not know where Elder Ercanbrack is from.

8. No, being M!DNIGHTED!!! doesn't seem to happen too much - maybe once every other transfer or so it happens to somebody.

9. Yes, being M!DNIGHTED!!! does make life exciting and spontaneous. It also hurts your MSF when you spend a bunch of money getting food for the month and can't take it with you (flat tires don't help either...rrrrrrrggggg). I'll probably be using my debit card some this month.

So our ward is pretty cool, but it's weird to not be living in a student-heavy ward with a lot of medical students that are young and recently returned from their missions within the last 10 years or so. I like the people of the ward a lot, though, and the bishop is really good. Our investigators are Steven, who has been being taught for 3 weeks or so now and came to church yesterday. He still needs to quit smoking, but he's done it before and is pretty confident that he can do it again without too much trouble. If all goes well he should be getting baptized around the end of june. Also we are teaching Bro. Sutton, whose wife is a (less-active) member. They've been on vacation and just got back so I've only met them once (we helped him paint his basement), but it sounds like they've been mainly having trouble trying to get them out to church. We are working with the Hannys as well - they are a less-active couple. She is a returned missionary 30 years ago or so and it sounds like he used to be very active as well, but they haven't been to church in many years until yesterday. It sounds like they had mainly been kept away because they thought they would be social outcasts or something if they came back, but they had a good experience at church yesterday. When they walked in Sis. Hanny said "I really don't want to be here.", but she had a great time in Relief Society and by the end of the block her attitude had turned around and she was glad she had come.

The meal situation is pretty good - not all days but most of them are filled. I think we have 4 or 5 dinners with members this week. We have a Toyota Corolla - we get 1500 miles per month.

When we went to Kirtland on P-day it was good - most of the time was just spent playing basketball and volleyball. Zone conference actually wasn't at the Kirtland stake center (which is at the bottom of the hill the temple is on), but at a chapel in Mayfield. It was kind of different at zone conference because not all the sisters in the zone could come at the same time because there had to be people at the Kirtland visitors center and other sites, so half of the sisters came to our zone conference and half of them went to the Cleveland zone conference the next day instead. It is also different here because there are about 25 sisters in the zone and only 3 other companionships of elders - the sisters work in their areas some days and give tours and stuff at Kirtland the other days.

I'll send the SD card today.

That's SO cool to hear about Bro. Gibbons blessing the sacrament!! I love success stories!

Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, May 17, 2010

Email 5/19/2010


Hello from the only stake of Zion mentioned in scripture! (no, that's not Toledo). The assistants called on Thursday about 10:15 pm and told me that I was getting M!DNIGHTED!!!!!!!! the next day to the Perry area, which is about 22 miles east of the Kirtland historic sites. I am serving with Elder Baxter, who left the MTC at the same time as me. He's the one with whom I went on exchanges in Spanish back in Cleveland. I got M!DNIGHTED!!!!!!!! because Elder Baxter's greenie chose to go home after 8 weeks or so in the field. (The assistants said he can come back out if he wants, though.) So Elder Gullerud's new companion is Elder Ercanbrack, who I think has been out for 7 1/2 months. Elder Ercanbrack was in a triple-up in East Cleveland until Friday. Elder Baxter is rock-solid, though. He's a convert of about 5 years and it's really cool to have a convert companion who can testify of the differences the gospel made in his life. Our area is a lot bigger than my other 2 - we juggle 3 different cities that we work in. We have a car!! Yay! We seem to have 1 pretty solid investigator with a baptismal date - his name is Steven. He has an issue with smoking, but he's quit before and is confident he can do it again. Other than him, our other investigators sound a little less solid, but that can change.

I got an email from Elder Horrocks today! So exciting! Have fun dating the Spaniard, Delaney. Are you going to speak English or Spanish on your date? Who else is going with you? I look forward to hearing about your escapades. Good job not killing the animals. I hope you have fun riding Zorro now that he's shoed. Sorry you have such an overwhelming amount of homework.

Good job on your marathons, Dad, Lisa, Cole, Ryan, Katie, and Lezli! You guys are beasts!

Oh - our new address is:

6762 Circle Dr.Madison, OH 44057

Mail sent to the Toledo address will take a while to get to me.

Thanks for the shoes - the plates sound like a good idea.

On P-day we email, shop for groceries, and do something else. In Toledo we would play basketball or tennis or volleyball at the stake center. Today we are going to go on a tour of the Kirtland Temple and then play basketball or something at the stake center in Kirtland. Then we work as normal from 6:00 to 9:00.

I have not gained any weight, in fact I think I have lost weight: I am now down to 141. We'll see what happens now that I'm in a driving area, though.

No, I don't think I'll try out for the Tab Choir, at least not until I complete my solo tour. Of course I'm not a ute fan - don't be ridiculous. Yes, I'm still thinking ATC.

Have fun talking about George Washington, Peyton. Tell me how your report goes.

Keep on rocking the baseball diamond, Cody. Elder Baxter was a baseball player, too.My ZDM workshop went well, thank you. I'm looking forward to zone conference on Thursday morning. Also, we're having a 70 come out and speak at a mission conference in early June.

Yep, I'll probably send the SD card this week. Sorry I was unable to get a picture of Sis. Bennett because I got M!DNIGHTED!!!!!!!!! before I saw her again. I sent a letter on Friday to say that I was getting M!DNIGHTED!!!!!!!!!!!! but I didn't think you would probably get it before today.

Love, Elder Matthew Smith

ps Delaney: and the trogdor comes in the M!DNIIIIII!IIIIII!IIIII!IIIIIII!IIIIIIGHT!I!!!I!!I!!I!!!I!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Email from 5/10/10 and Highlights of Phone Conversation on 5/9/10

Hello everybody!

Talking to you guys was so much fun! I'm glad everybody is doing so well!

So do you guys know where Bo and Penny went swimming? How did they escape the inpenetrable fortifications of our back yard? Did the one chicken that thinks it's a dog go with them? What is the chicken's name?

Good luck at your orchestra concert, Delaney. What kind of song are you playing? If you're gonna play in concert, do you gotta have a fiddle in the stand? So I was thinking the other day of the 'devil went down to Georgia' song and decided to make an Ohio Cleveland Mission version of it. Here's what I've got so far:

Well the devil went down to Cleveland, he was lookin' for some souls to steal
He was in a bind, he was way behind, it was the time of the seventh seal
When he came upon two elders, they were preachin' out' the Book
So the devil jumped up on a Rapid stop and he said "hey elders, look"

I guess you didn't know it, boys, but I'm a preacher, too,
And if you'd care to look around, you'll see I've got more churches than you
Well you do pretty good preachin' boys, but give the devil his due
I'd bet LeBron against Brother John, to say I'm better'n you

Well them elders had the Spirit and it told them to be bold,
So they said "devil listen here, your rantin' is gettin' old

So elders go dust off your Preach, you'd better study hard
'Cuz Hell's broke loose in Cleveland and the Devil deals the cards
And if you win you get to go and baptize LeBron
But if you lose, the devil gets Brother John!


Well the devil opened up his Word and said "I'll start this meet"
And fire consumed the river as the audience took their seats
Satan turned his hat 'round backwards and a demon layed down a beat
And the devil dropped the lyrics and the audience shook from head to feet
And he rapped:

Well, that's all I've got so far. I don't know what the devil is going to rap yet, but it'll probably have something to do with eat drink and be merry or a similar concept. Rapid stops are train stations. The Cuyahoga river is supposedly the only river ever to catch fire. Send me any lyrical ideas you have!

As for what to send me, I would say 2 pair of black shoes probably (I checked and they are 9 1/2), I don't need gym shorts anymore (found some leftovers at an apartment), but I'd still like my camoflouge shorts. I don't think I need any more slacks. The slacks I have are getting pretty worn and torn, but nothing I can't fix, I think.

Smash Burgers sounds pretty great - it actually sounds kind of like Steak 'n Shake. I still have yet to find the milkshake that can measure up to a Fudd's shake, though. But their steakburgers are pretty good.

Per your question of "are you saving the talks you prepare for future use?" - I guess so. All my notes are just written down in notebooks, and I'm saving the notebooks with notes from meetings and interviews and studies (I've gone through a couple of notebooks already). Usually the talks I write end up being WAY different when I give them than they were when I wrote them down, since they are very interactive and I like to just improv what direction to take based on how people answer questions and what kind of experiences they share and what insights they tell us about and stuff. It's kind of weird to me, but I have found that I REALLY like the sound of my voice. I just love to talk! In companion study we have to practice cutting each other off and yielding to each other so I don't just talk for a whole appointment.

Love you most no battle!!

Love, Elder Matthew Smith

ps I'll send the sd card home once I take a picture of Sis. Bennett for you guys. Have I only sent it home one other time?

Phone Highlights:

There is 1 zone in Toledo and 3 districts. Matt is a District Leader. (He didn't think that was important so he never mentioned it before.)

Their church is about 2 miles away from their apartment, and they usually get a ride with the other elders in their ward that have a car.

There are "like a million churches" in Toledo. It's like Utah with one on every corner, only they are all different kinds of churches. One had a talk about Mormons, the pastor let a Mormon give the talk, and then encouraged people to let the missionaries in.

There is no Jamba Juice in Toledo, but he heard there was one on the Bowling Green campus. The missionaries there are sisters I believe he said.

He hasn't met any Amish people.

He thought Cody's voice sounded really low.

He loved a dessert that was made for him (on his birthday, but they didn't know it was his birthday and he didn't tell them). It was a strawberry roll. He said it was cake stuff that was in an oblong shape, with lots of whipped cream and strawberries on it, and then the sister rolled it up and cut it. I bet he wouldn't have even tried something like that before his mission.

As he said in his email - he loves giving talks. He is going to speak at a Zone Training meeting on Tuesday. Who would've thought they'd have to practice getting Matt to be quiet so that his companion would be able to speak.

Also, his current companion has a 13-year-old sister. Cody was interested in that! He even sent Cody her name and address in a separate email today.

Their investigators are amazing. They are talking temple with the inactive family that has been coming to church. They also committed Debbie to baptism. She is from Michigan? and their not sure how far she is driving each time they have an appointment with her. She drives to her friend's house in Toledo where they teach her. They are not sure who will baptize her or where. Even though she's committed, they haven't set a date and she's still praying about things.

It was so awesome to talk to him yesterday! We talked about 1 hour and 15 minutes. His poor companion's family had to wait until we were done, so they had to wait like 15 minutes after the time he was supposed to call because we were so gabby. You know Matt-talk,talk,talk. We have now received 1/2 of the phone calls from him during his mission and he said he's watched 1/2 of the general conferences during his mission. Seems like time is flying. He said it feels just like last month that he got off the plane in Cleveland, and just last week that he got to Toledo. I think that's a good thing! We feel lucky that he's had good companions. We asked him if that was because they were so good, or because he has a good attitude. He said probably some of both. He has realized that his first companion may not have been as good as he thought at the time now that he's had others to compare. Merrill says the good thing about being the District Leader is that you are the one who determines how things happen. We know that Matt is a hard worker with a lot of faith - so things are great!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Email from 5/3/10


Our week has been phenomenal, thank you for asking. It was a bit rainy, but it was warm and rainy so we didn't mind very much. The other day it hit 80 degrees, I think, but I think we're supposed to drop back down into the 60s halfway through this week. Oh well, time to put the suitjacket back on. I quite prefer shirtsleeves. Yes, we bike a lot. Usually all day. But I have a flat tire (again) so we've walked the past two days, which is all right since it makes talking to people on the street a lot easier and more natural and conversational.

That's so cool to hear about Bro. Gibbons' success story! (Man in our ward who was baptized last week and ordained a Priest this week.) Good job on your Relief Society lesson - what was it on? Our lesson in Priesthood this week was on Elder Oaks' talk on healing the sick through priesthood blessings and it was awesome. I was surprised how many people had slight misconceptions about priesthood blessings. The High Priests Group leader suggested that everyone do their home teaching lessons on that talk as well. Speaking of Jenn Kanistanaux, does she have a sister or cousin or something in Toledo? Because it seems to me that Sister Bennet (the one that owns a pizza place and lets us come and make pizza for ourselves) looks JUST like her. I'll have to get a picture of her before I send the SD card home.

St. George should be fun. That's cool to hear of Robbie Brito getting married. Any specific reason they picked the St. George temple? Are they going to live there?

Way to go Cody for rocking the stirruped socks off the baseball diamond!!! That's my boy right there! Leadoff hitter, 2nd base, and shortstop aren't too shabby. Hopefully most of your team isn't 'idjits' that don't know what to do with the ball.

Good luck at your shooting competition, Dad, I'm a little bit jealous that you can just go shooting whenever you want. (not as jealous as I am that you can just go to the temple whenever you want, of course)

Que tenga buena suerte en tu examen, Delaney. Se que eres muy lista y vas a recordar todo que has estudiado. Es muy chevere que no tenias que tomar las clases de Espanol tres or cuatro. !Ojala que puedas ir en un mision hablando Espanol! Aunque no soy llamado hablando espanol, he tenido muchos oportunidades ensenar y hablar en Espanol en mi mision. Yo y Hermano Delap de nuestro barrio ibamos a ensenar un leccion a una familia que habla Espanol, pero no estaban en casa cuando llegamos. (Hermano Delap fui en su mision en Chicago hablando Espanol. El estaba con nosotros para que yo no tendria que ensenar la leccion solo, porque Elder Gullerud no habla Espanol.) Estaba muy triste que no estaban alla, porque queria practicar mas mi Espanol. Es que no he ensenado en Espanol por unos meses. Por lo menos hay dos Hermanas en nuestro barrio que son de suramerica y hablan muy bien el Espanol. Buena suerte, que vaya con Dios!

(Translation as per Merrill: Good luck on your test Delaney. I know you are very ready and you will remember what you've studied. Its cool you didn't have to take Spanish 3 and 4. Hopefully you can go on a Spanish speaking mission! Even though I'm not called to speak Spanish, I've had many opportunities to teach and speak in Spanish on my mission. Me and Brother Delap of our ward were going to teach a lesson to a Spanish speaking family, but they weren't home when we got there. (Bro. Delap went on his mission to Chicago Spanish speaking. He was with us so I wouldn't have to teach the lesson by myself, because Elder Gullerud doesn't speak Spanish) It was very sad that they weren't there, because I wanted to practice more in Spanish. Its because I haven't taught in Spanish for several months. At least there are two sisters in our ward from South America and speak really well in Spanish. Good luck and go with God!)

Holy Toledo! Trevor already has his mission call?!?! Time is going by WAY too fast for my liking. My MTC roommates were going to the Dallas mission, I think. Does Trevor speak much Spanish? Has he been going to college? How long 'til Chris comes home? I wrote a letter to him, but he never responded. The address was really weird, so I'm not sure it got there.

Anyways, like I said, this week was great. The Point Place elders had a baptism and Elder Gullerud and I taught the restoration while they changed clothes. It was a really good, powerful lesson. Some of Jason's (who was baptized) family were there and the Holland Elders now have return appointments to teach them more. The reason we taught the restoration and not Holland was because we thought the family members were in our area, but it turns out they are all in Holland's area.

We had a great lesson with Debbie (did I already tell you about Debbie?) this week. She is Sis. Coffer's friend, and we've been teaching her in Sis. Coffer's home. It is always so much nicer to teach in members' homes because: 1. the member can bear their testimony and share personal experiences with the investigator. 2. Members; homes generally are cleaner, more Spirit-inviting places than nonmembers' homes. and 3. The member will turn off the TV and radio, put the dog outside and keep the kids quiet or send them out of the room during the appointment and thus remove many distractions. Debbie is super open to learning and is excited to read the BOM. We'll probably try to commit her to baptism this week. The only problem is that she actually lives in Michigan - she's just been driving down here to hear the lessons. So if things continue to go well, we'll probably have to do some coordination with another mission (I assume it would be the Detroit mission) to have the elders over there meet her and start integrating her into the ward where she would be baptized.

Also, we had a great first lesson with a media referral yesterday. As we taught and testified of the restoration, I got the prompting that she was feeling the Spirit and I should point it out to her. Before I could even open my mouth, she stated that even though her sister had warned her about getting 'confused' by the Mormons, she knew what we were saying was true because of how strong the Spirit was. I expounded a little bit on the Spirit and testified of the restoration and Book of Mormon again and then we committed her to baptism, following a prompting that Elder Gullerud and I both recieved. That was really cool.

i'm about to get kicked off a library computer. 20 seconds to go.

i''ll try to get back on

love, elder matthew smith

Whew! I got a couple more minutes.

Anyways, yeah it's all going well. Mom, Brenda VanWagoner wrote me and asked if she could get my emails home sent to her. Could you please direct her to the blog?

Does Mr. Mac have any warranty or replacement policy on shoes? My shoes are now worn all the way through on the bottom and it's starting to get old having wet socks every time it rains. More on that story next week.

It's crazy to me how Mothers' day is now the 2nd most important holiday of the year for me. We haven't recieved any instructions about when to call home on Sunday. I would assume we will call in the evening. Probably it will be between 7:00 and 9:00 pm, Toledo time, so I think that would mean 5:00 to 7:00 pm, Mountain time. But maybe it will be earlier. I don't know. Don't skip church or anything. Probably we will be able to call on Saturday to coordinate what time to call on Sunday. That's probably most likely.

Love, Elder Matthew Smith