Monday, June 14, 2010

I Like Cleveland!

!!!Happy Birthday, Peyton!!!

The subject line comes from the taxis in Cleveland - you would think their bumper stickers would say "I love Cleveland", but they usually say "I like Cleveland". Fail.

Hi everybody!

That's pretty cool that Trevor and Brittany are on missions. Where did Brittany go? When does Chris come home? No, I'm afraid I don't remember (great?) aunt Janet. Note: Aunt Janet is JoAnne's twin sister who died last week.

Good job on your marathon, Dad! (and everybody else who ran) Was the PR that you ran sub 3:25, or that you didn't throw up even once? Just kidding. I'm glad Utah has had such good marathon weather. Note: Merrill ran a marathon and had his best time ever - 3:24:50 and didn't throw up at all

The RS fireside sounds like it was pretty inspirational! I love that kind of stuff - great to bring investigators to, and great to be at and feel the Spirit. Hearing Bro. Neu sing probably didn't hurt, either. I'm a little jealous. By the way, which of your friends are you working on preparing to be taught by the missionaries in your home? (that goes for everybody).

Have fun at the big event, guys. That should be a hoot. Is Dad working there for the range or anything or is he just going with our varsity team? When is your court of honor going to be, Cody? Way to go on swimming 1000 yards at once! Don't you just love that numb feeling that comes when you've swam a long way and are tired and feel like you're falling asleep while swimming?

Have fun at clogging camp, Delaney. Take a Book of Mormon with you. Say hi to Savannah if she's there. Good job on your driving, also. How much more drivers' ed do you have to finish before you get your license? Sorry you have to go back to school, Peyton. Do well. Sounds like you had a good birthday, though. What did you get? What did you want to get?

That's pretty cool that you felt the earthquake. Did you stop, drop, and roll? What is the difference between a funnel cloud and a tornado? Check out this video President Sorensen sent us today: . I know those guys! Actually, somebody called us the other day and said that he'd seen the missionaries helping with the tornado cleanup and wanted to ask us some questions. We're still trying to get in contact with him.

Yes, I'm pretty sure you can leave a package at the Kirtland sites for me. I've talked to the Butterfields a couple times, but I don't really know them. They work mostly with the senior missionaries and the sisters who work the sites. We go to Kirtland on lots of P-days, but probably won't go the next couple weeks - we get to drive 1500 miles per month and having to drive to trainers' meeting, transfer meeting, and mission conference this month have been tough on our miles, so we have to conserve by staying near home on P-days and probably riding bikes a couple days. The butterfields can give a package to the sister missionaries and they'll make sure it gets to me on P-day or at District meeting or something. Note: We have a neighbor who's sister and her family are going to Kirtland and are related to the Butterfields. I want to send a package with them.

I'm glad Sis. Dudley is all right. Is she home from the hospital and everything? She must be about as tough as nails. I have probably given 4 or 5 blessings of healing on my mission, and a couple more blessings of comfort and counsel. Note: Merrill helped give Sis. Dudley a blessing.

My new companion is Elder O'Donley from North Highlands, California (near Sacramento). He is the oldest of 4 with three younger brothers from 12 to 17. He has never killed a deer. He has a good testimony, though, and he loves the people we are working with. He's kind of shy and quiet, but he's working on it and starting to get over it. I love him.

Our investigators are doing great. Steven came to church yesterday and enjoyed it. He is still having trouble with smoking, so we are taking Bro. Hoffman over with us to help us teach him this week. Bro. Hofmann converted about a year ago (he just went to the temple last week) and recently has quit smoking, so he should be able to help. Bro. Hofmann has taught Steven before, but the focus of our lesson was something other than the word of wisdom. Bro. Hanny came to church, too (Sis. Hanny is out of town in Atlanta this week.). I'm sure I've told you about the Hannys before - if no one else listened to me for my whole mission, it would be worth it just to have taught them and seen the change they're making in their lives for the better. Their countenances just glow now - I can't even describe it, but they have a light in their faces that was absent before. In addition, Bro. Elliot came to church yesterday. Bro. Elliot has not been to church in many years, but he kept his commitment to come. (we made him pinkie-promise that he would be there - that must have been the trick). We are also teaching Sis. Elliot, who is not a member. She works every Sunday, but asked her boss and should be able to come on the 27th. Bro. Elliot committed to keep coming to church also. We also have an investigator named Caitlyn who is committed to come to church next week. I think I told you about her before - she's the one for whom the Lord kept it from raining for about half an hour while we taught. We brought another 16-yr old girl teaching with us who had seen her at school, and they hit it off pretty well, so her family is going to pick Caitlyn up next week if all goes well. It's been a really good week in general - we've had several very powerful lessons guided by the Spirit. One of them was with an investigator who had looked up some anti material online and was asking us about it. He had some really good questions - probably the best questions anybody has asked me on my mission - about Hell, the morality of God for creating us if some of us are going to be damned, or for creating the devil. But instead of asking questions meant to attack us or talk us into a corner, he really wanted to know the answers. After we had answered his questions and explained a lot of the plan of salvation, he agreed that we had the best answers to his questions that he had heard from anybody. He said most people or religions he asked would give him the "cookie-cutter answer" and then didn't have anything to say when he asked the deeper questions, but that we had answers that really made sense on all levels. That was a real testimony builder for me on a couple different things - the truthfulness of the restored gospel and the plan of salvation, the Spirit's guidance (comparing notes after the lesson, Elder O'Donley and I got the same promptings at the same times), and preparation, even though the lesson went nothing like what we had planned.

Yes we still have the car. Yes we still tract a bunch. Yes I am the District Leader again. Yes, I have many inspiring stories to share with people, but unfortunately I think most of them will have to wait until I can tell you about them in person. Just one more from this week, though - I was giving a baptismal interview to one of the investigators the sisters in my district have been teaching and her story was really cool. She had a member friend at school (she's 16 or so) who invited her to church and when she was there she could see something different about everybody - how happy they were and that they had a light and joy in their faces that she wanted to have also. (she had also noticed it in her member friend at school) I could already tell she was ready for baptism before asking her any of the questions because she had Christ's image engraved in her countenance as well. It was really cool to hear her story about recognizing the contrast between those who did and didn't have that light. I've been really blessed to see people go from spiritual despair or desensitivity to having the hope of the gospel and the light of Christ in their eyes and faces as well, and it is really humbling to be able to observe the Spirit working on someone and helping them have a mighty change of heart, repent, and truly be brand new people. It's like watching the sun rise.

Anyways, that's my spiel.

Love you MNB!

Elder Matthew Smith

PS - can I make a special request for this package? Could you make a CD or two of some talks or byu devotionals we can listen to? If so, some of my favorites are:

"remember lot's wife" -Elder Holland, I think, given at BYU;

"the myth of mortal perfection" - possibly Hugh Nibley or Hugh B. Brown;

"Safety for the soul" -Elder Holland, 2 conferences ago;

a talk about member missionary work that compares missionaries to rescue people in orange vests and members to shepherds. It was given by one of the twelve, but sorry I don't have much more for you than that.

the conference talk by President Uchtdorf about the L-1011 crashing because the landing gear light failed.

"how to write an anti-mormon book" -a byu devotional, by Nibley or Brown

Other than that, my favorite speakers are President Monson, President Eyring, and Elder Holland