Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Once upon a midnight dreary...

Once upon a midnight dreary (maybe closer to 9:30 ish)
As I pondered weak and weary (from a long day of tracting)
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore... (old Ensigns)
Suddenly there came a beeping
And our telephone was ringing
I picked up the phone to hear my ZL on the other line...
Finally the call I dreaded
Over which I'd thought and fretted
I petitioned him to know if I was gone or had more time...
All my hopes and fears were coming
To a head - my heart was drumming
And then like a hammer falling, Quote the Elder:
"You're being transferred"

So, I'm being transferred. I'll let you know my new address as soon as I find out. Elder O'Donley is staying here in Perry. I'm kind of jealous of him; I love the people in the ward and who we're teaching. In addition, the ward is super excited about missionary work and helpful to us. They have been seeing all the investigators and less-active members we and the sisters have been bringing to church, as well as seeing success themselves as they did member missionary work and it's like a snowball effect of excitement!.

Thanks for the updates on the ages - it's tough when they keep changing (except for Mom's, of course)

Our church was great, too. It was the primary program and they did great. It was a wonderful program about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder O'Donley and I sang, too. (the last song of the program was "come follow me", and small groups of primary children or soloists sang the first three verses, the sisters sang verse 4, we sang verse 5, and the whole congregation sang verse 6) With exception of the 5th verse, I thought it was excellent. Steven came to church Sunday as well as Bro. and Sis. Elliot, who came to all three hours for the first time. I kind of had to play the "I'm getting transferred, it's my last Sunday" card to get them to commit to all three hours, but hey - whatever works, right? Conspicuously missing from church was Ethan (10-yrs old) and his mother (a member) Christina, who had committed to come to church and then to the baptism of an 8-yr old in our ward afterwards. That was disappointing, but I'm still pretty confident that he'll get baptized this coming monthSay congratulations to the Lays for their daughters marriage and happy birthday to Dawn for me. (invite them to church for me as well)

You Said: "I was going to mention that maybe you shouldn't mention teaching drunken gun-toting robbers. But mom took it all in stride. Thanks for relating the story. "

Sorry - I must have miscommunicated - it was actually a balance-and-speech-challenged squirrel with a water gun, and he was just on his way to borrow some things. Nothing to worry about.

Have I mentioned before that one of my dreams for my mission is to serve in the Youngstown area? The reason behind this is that they sell a really cool T-shirt there. It says "Youngstown, Ohio, 2-time defending champion - Murder capital of the USA" (and the years that Youngstown was the murder capital) and has a graphic of two crossed M-16s. I would want one for me and one to send home for Mom. I thought she would really appreciate that.

Thanks for relating again your bishop's counsel about being with your family, even on the weekends. I remember hearing about that several times, but hadn't thought about it for a while.

Sometimes all it takes is an invitation: We committed the Dahneke family to invite the boys from a less-active family to their FHE and this Sunday one of them came to church. We talked to him there and he committed to come next week and said that his parents would be fine with us visiting them. After seeing the new face at church, the seminary teacher visited their home and introduced himself, and two of the boys came to seminary yesterday!

I'm going to try to send some pictures in a sec...lets see how this goes (Note: I got an email that said - "nevermind I'll try next week". so - no pictures)

LYMNB, Elder Matthew Smith

Letter from 8/25/10

Dear Family,

Hey, just a quick reminder that transfers is on Wednesday the 1st. There's a pretty high probability that I'll get transferred, so it might be a good idea to send any mail to the mission office until after transfers. Also, I will probably end up e-mailing on Tuesday this week, since that will be our P-day.

We've had a pretty good week so far, including some really powerful spiritual experiences. I've never been as aware of spiritual experiences as I have been on my misson. I was just writing in my journal about how the abundance and intensity of spiritual experiences is one of the things I will really miss when I have to go home. I know I can still have the Spirit to be with me even after my mission and everything, but I doubt there will be many times in my post-mission life when I will be as in-tune with the Spirit as I am now. It would be like trying to be in as good a shape as I was in during my Senior year in high school - you can't get there without long hours of workouts every day, keeping the taper rules, a great coach, and a meaningful goal towards which to work. Well, I've got the spiritual counterparts of all those elements available to me while I'm on my mission, and I lament that I might not have another time in my life when I can dedicate all my time and attention to serving the Lord. This year keeps feeling shorter and shorter - it's going by faster and faster and it scares me a little.

How's everything going back home? Is everybody having fun at school? Who has Delaney been dating lately? On a scale of one to infinity, how excited is mom for her elk hunt? (I want to hear everyone's answers on that one). Can you send back the other SD card? How old is everybody now?


Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, August 23, 2010

Email from 8/23/10

Hello everybody,

We had a pretty good week. Lisa came to church again and enjoyed it greatly. She was the only one, though.

Good job shooting, mom. Remind me when your hunt is? How is Cody's baseball team?

The quartet of be still my soul sounds like it was pretty cool. (Delaney played a violin musical number in church Sunday) I'd like to have been able to hear that. Are Delaney's teacher & son members? Elder O'Donley and I found out yesterday that we're singing in church next week. That should be interesting.

Since when do people have "the price is right" parties?

It's kind of weird to think of all these people from our ward getting married. I wonder if I will even recognize anybody when I come home after having been gone for 2 years.

Yes, the ward is still good about feeding us pretty regularly. I know the gift of tongues is real because I've never disliked anything that the members have fed us. (except for one part of one meal back in Cleveland - Viennese sausages...but that doesn't count.) I've started liking salad a lot more on my mission.

We ate with the Bests this week and she asked for your email address so she could write to you, so yes, I figured she would write you.

We went on exchanges with the zone leaders this week - Elder Jensen worked with Elder O'Donley in Perry and I went with Elder Saxton in Shaker Hts. (their area has some nice suburbs and some of the ghetto from Cleveland's East Side) Elder Jensen was Amazed at how much candy and cookies and stuff we had in our apartment. Good job keeping us well stocked with sweets, family!

Another interesting tidbit from that exchange - I had been on exchange with Elder Saxton a couple weeks ago in Shaker Hts. and we contacted a guy who was drunk, had a gun in his pocket, and was on the way to rob a house. We taught him again this week on exchanges and it was pretty amazing to see the changes he's made - he's a totally different person! His countenance was way brighter and he was excited to keep learning the gospel. He's been to church a couple times and is making a lot of progress.

Our investigators are progressing slowly. Lisa came to church this week, but she was the only one there. She had a great time, though, and is still excited about baptism. We are really excited about Sis. Elliot, also. She asked about changing her schedule at work to get Sundays off, and yesterday was the last Sunday that she's going to have to work. Fasting works.

We're not going to be able to teach Stephanie anymore - her parents don't like her learning about the Mormons. I'm pretty sure she'll get baptized eventually, though. She had some really powerful lessons with us where she felt the spirit very strongly, she's got some great friends that are good examples of living the gospel, and she loved church when she came last week. I really feel at peace concerning her because of some pretty special experiences Elder O'Donley and I had while praying on Stephanie's behalf on Friday after we talked to the Mitchells and found out that we were done teaching her. I'll tell you about that in person after I've come home. This answer was confirmed by the content of the following letter.

The Mitchells gave us a copy of a letter Stephanie wrote to Elder Dahneke (a missionary serving from our ward in the long beach CA mission that she knew from school before he left): here's some excerpts from it:

"Hello! Rulon gave me your address cause he said it would be alright if i wrote you. Umm, I know you must be busy and whatnot with your mission and stuff, but I wanted to tell you that I've been talking with two missionaries here - elder smith and elder O'Donley, and before i had met with them i had went to your church once before and she (Rylee) wanted me to meet with the missionaries and I complied but i did not give much thought to it. well i did but i was more nervous that they would, like, want to convert me, and I'd be like, "no", and they'd get angry. but I've always respected Rylee because of how much love she felt toward her church and always, always asked questions. so when i went to this meeting with the missionaries at the Mitchell's house i had a list of question s which were eventually all answered and then they began to talk and to teach me - we talked about the Lord and how He loves us and what the Spirit truly is and how the gospel makes you feel. We went around the room and each described what the Spirit had felt like to them and when they came to me, to be honest, I didn't know what to say because i don't think until then i knew what it felt like. I replied that "i can't stop smiling". I had butterflies sand felt so happy. I just wanted to give e those dudes a hug (but i didn't ha ha) I went with the Mitchell's to church the following Sunday and loved the atmosphere. it was amazing, just the people and the love they displayed. it was like one bit happy family. following the service I went to the Mitchell's house again to speak with the missionaries again and ask more questions. i admitted how I attempted to read the book of Mormon but failed epically (so now Rylee is going to help me out with a little study session) then we talked about faith, repentance, confirmation, and receiving the Holy Ghost and I asked a few other trifling questions such as why bad things happen to good people and things about my family. After they left i began to become very emotional for my parents do not necessarily approve of expanding my knowledge and interest towards your church, and neither does one of my close friends. and i found this very hard because i do not like letting people down, but mama Mitchell (that's what I call Rylee's mom) gave me some strength and told me its about making the right decision for myself ... There's no way I'm going to stop furthering my knowledge about your church ... I will never ever forget the way i felt after my first meeting with the missionaries ... I left out telling you about the uber important thing which I'm sure you know about: Moroni 10:4 - to ask god the eternal father. And I have several times and I do not find myself doubting it ... In ONE WEEK I feel like everything has changed for me, i am beginning to want God in my life and to be the best person he wants me to be. I've been happy the entire time I've been writing my tale to you and I thank Elder Smith and Elder O'Donley and I truly bless them for helping em and presenting me this gift . and after they left this past Sunday i thought of you because other than my missionaries you're the only face i could put to doing such a great thing and a great duty. ... You have a very important job to do and i very much so hope it is going well, and you have found someone to help, like me. ..."

(end quote) Sorry, I typed that fast so there's probably a million mistakes. She also wrote us a letter which said pretty much the same things. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, got to go.

LoveYMNB, Elder Matthew Smith

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Email received 8/19/2010

Hi. I am a member of the Perry ward and just wanted to let you know what a great missionary your son is. He has done a wonderful job here. We have had him in our home many times and have been impressed with the way he and his companions teach. They truly invite the spirit to touch people’s hearts. Elder Smith is a hard worker and always has a smile on his face. He is also very patient with the new missionary he is training. Thanks for sharing you son with the Perry Ward. He has done a lot of good here.


Jennie Best

Email from 8/16/2010

Hello Everybody!

Yep, our week has been great, although it was marred by a lot of appointments being cancelled, which delayed some of the progress we were hoping to make with our investigators. It was good all in all, though. We only had one investigator at church this week. That was Stephanie, who we've been teaching at a member's home. She had a great experience at church and loved the 'ward family' atmosphere. It contrasted starkly against her old church where she goes in, sits down and listens for 45 minutes, and leaves, pretty much without talking to anyone.

I'm really grateful to be serving in such a great ward; the Perry ward is excellent at making new faces feel welcome and at home. I recall a couple weeks ago when Lisa came to church. She was the only african american in the whole congregation and I worried that she might feel out of place or something. Talking with her afterwards, she had the same worry when she walked in, but all the smiling faces and people introducing themselves and making friends dispelled that immediately. This ward is great.

Anyways, Stephanie is reading, praying, and doing great, but we may have a setback with her because she's only 16 and her parents are nervous about her learning about the mormons. Prayers for a softening of heart on behalf of her parents would be appreciated.

Bro. Elliot came to church today, after a couple weeks of missing. Sis. Elliot's work schedule should be changing next month and allowing her to come to church as well. We are really excited about that. They've both shown a great effort in reading and praying and coming to church and we've been really excited to see the progress that they've made.

Good job being the king of the archers, Cody. Now I guess you just have to work on your fishing. Maybe you should have tried archery fishing?

That tent stove idea sounds pretty cool (or warm, as the case may be.) Be careful of Carbon Monoxide.

Good job teaching and listening about temples in sunday school.

Yesterday Sis. Hofmann and Bridgette Hofmann (12) spoke in sacrament about the temple. They were baptized a year or so ago and were recently sealed as a family. Sis. Golightly also spoke about sealing power and forever families. All the talks were great. Bridgette Hofmann had to speak in Primary as well as Sacrament meeting, so Bro. Hofmann was joking about how he had to write three talks - one for his wife and two for his daughter. How did your talk go, Peyton?

Sis. Hill from my district went home on Friday. She's been really sick for the past couple weeks and they haven't been able to figure out the problem. Prayers for her and her trainer, Sis. Carter would be appreciated. Sis. Carter's new companion is Sis. Reed, who is waiting for a visa to Spain. She has been in the mission for 9 weeks.

How's the family reading, prayer, FHE going?

Love, Elder Matthew Smith

Friday, August 13, 2010

Letter 8-9-10

Dear Family,

Sorry my email was so short this week. The library was crowded and other people needed computers so we didn't have much time.

Like I said, this week was inspirational and fraught with miracles and answered prayers. This is not unique to our area either; everybody in our district had great experiences recently. I just can't get over how excited I am about our new investigator, Stephanie. She was referred by a young woman in our ward and we had such an inspirational, uplifting lesson with her in the members' home. She was super excited to learn more and to read and to pray, she felt like the answers to her questions made a lot of sense, and we didn't even have to commit her to come to church - she asked the member family if she could come to church with them this Sunday. The member family was really excited, too. Participating in the lesson were Stephanie and her member friend (they are both yound womens' age - maybe 16), Sis. Mitchell, who is really cool and has a great relationship with Stephanie also (I guess Stephanie is over at their house all the time), and one of their sons who is preparing for a mission and has come teaching with us a couple of times. It was a great experience for everybody. I'm knocking on wood here because I've found golden contacts before that didn't work out and broke my heart, but I think Stephanie will probably get baptized. Prayers on her behalf would be immensely appreciated - that she will receive answers to her prayers about the Book of Mormon, and that her parents will be supportive and, hopefully, interested for themselves. My testimony of member missionary work continues to be strengthened, especially my testimony of how much it helps to teach in members' homes! I am really grateful to be serving in such a supportive ward where people are willing to come teaching with us, to say hello to the investigators we bring to church, and to help their friands and family accept the gospel. I feel really bad now for not being a better example of member missionary work before my mission - I didn't realize how much of a difference it made. You can bet that I'm going to improve on that once I'm home!

The work continues to go well with our other investigators as well. We've committed two more people to baptism this week, but I already addressed that in the email. The members of the ward continue to be selflessly supportive in the missionary work, and a lot of exciting things have been happening in the ward. Stephen continues to read and pray, but continues to have difficulty with smoking.

Did I mention that the Mitchells asked us to come over and teach their friend the day after we fasted to find people who were prepared for the gospel? It works.

I'm sorry I didn't get to write a mission summary for the family reunion thing. I hope you get this letter before then, but if not then I'm sorry. In addition, I'm not sure what length would be appropriate, so I'll try to keep it brief. Also keep in mind Ether 12:23-25 when you read this. My mission, summarized into one paragraph, follows:

Although a little over a year ago I didn't fully understand what it really meant to serve a mission, and it may be many years, or indeed a lifetime, before I come to realize the full measure of the blessings which the Lord has poured out upon me during my missionary service, I can state without reservation that the opportunity to dedicate all of my time and attention to the service of the Lord ranks among the most prized of the gifts I have received at my Savior's hand. The past year has been a period of challenge and growth that cannot be justly compared with any other time of my life. Through mighty prayer, powerful experiences with the Spirit in my own life, and watching the Spirit work on the hearts of others to bring about great changes in their behavior, their countenances, and their very dispositions, I can declare with full confidence that God is our loving Heavenly Father, that His son, Jesus Christ, is the savior and redeemer of the world, that Joseph Smith verily saw the Father and the Son and was called to usher in this last dispensation, that Thomas S. Monson is called and commissioned by God to be a prophet in our day, and that the Book of Mormon - another testament of Jesus Christ, is the very word of God, and that all who sincerely seek a testimony of its truthfulness through diligent exercise of faith will come to know the truth by the manifestations of the Spirit of the Lord in their hearts. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a more powerful catalyst in effecting positive change and progress than any earthly motivation, no matter in what stage or circumstance of life we might find ourselves, because it is based on the greatest and most ennobling motivator of all - love: The Savior's love for us and our love for Him and our fellowmen. I solemnly testify that honorable missionary service will soften the heart, fortify the testimony, and enlighten the mind of all who faithfully serve. I am immeasurable rateul for my family's unfailing standard of righteousness that has shown me by loving example the way to live, love, and serve the way my Savior would have me do. Truly I see in my angel parents dedicated disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the eyes of my siblings the fulfillment of His proclamation through His latter-day prophets that the youth of today consist of the choicest, the most powerful, the most faithful of the antemortal hosts of heaven. I cannot express enough my thankfulness for the love and support of my immediate and extended family. The gospel is true, Jesus is the savior, and the youth of this day are His servants foreordained to prosecute the great work of proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the saints, and redeeming the dead in these latter days. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Well, that got a little longer than I anticipated. Ho well. Try to read THAT without crying mom!

Love, Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fasting. Works. Period.‏

Hello Family, how is everybody doing?

We've had a truly inspiring week. I don't even know where to start. First of all, after months of trying to contact a less-active, part-member family, we've finally been able to teach Christina and her 10-yr old son, Ethan (who isn't yet a member). Once we got smart and realized that a couple in our ward knew them and had a great relationship with them, it was a cinch to just have the member couple invite them and us over for dinner and a lesson. We had a good discussion (and meal) and committed Ethan to be baptized. We will continue teaching them at the members' home. They committed to come to church this week (they had an unavoidable family function yesterday), and when we followed up with them the other day they had been reading and praying daily.

Lisa was quite ill yesterday and thus unable to attend church. We had a good lesson with her last week, though and committed her to baptism as well. She enthusiastically agreed and, grabbing her calendar, wrote down the date. She had been taught by missionaries before, but doesn't seem to have talked about baptism with them. She has difficulties with WOW, which is why she was dropped by previous missionaries, but has had some awakening experiences with liver problems that are giving her more motivation.

Finally, Saturday we fasted for help finding new investigators since we've been struggling in finding for a while and at church Sunday we were approached by one of the young women who asked if we could come to her home later and teach one of her friends who has questions about the church. Her friend was way prepared and open and has a great relationship with the member friend as well as other members. It was a great lesson and she's excited to read, pray, and come to church. We've got really high hopes for her.

Overall, I'm doing great and so is Elder O'Donley. We're seeing a lot of miracles and having a lot of success. I've got nothing about which to complain.

Over the past year I've learned a lot, and my testimony and conversion have grown in ways that I never before imagined. I have come to see by experience and feel by the Spirit that the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the prophet Joseph Smith are true and that exercise of faith always yields blessings.

Got to go quickly, sorry, I'll write a letter.

Elder Matthew Smith

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Letter from July 27

Dear Family,

Hello everybody! I received your hump day pckage with excitement today and am pleased to report that it wasn't half bad. It looks like a lot of effort went into it - thanks very much to all who contributed. It means a lot.

Lo siento for an unacceptable short email on Monday. P-day got a little intense. We started out with a zone service project - we went shopping for supplies for the mission office, which was broken into last week. (ONLY in the Kirtland zone would you ever find missionaries going shopping, of all things, for a service project!) After that, the elders in the zone (all 8 of us) stuck around at the stake center to play some sports since none of us had been able to afford to use the miles to go to zone p-days recently. So we played dodgeball (in the pitch dark of the cultural hall - it was super fun!) and indoor soccer. The soccer game got pretty intense and we kept on going for 'just fifteen more minutes'. We all had a lot of pent-up energy from a month without any sports on p-days. After that we shopped and went to an early appointment who hadn't been able to meet with us any time except during p-day. Then we emailed briefly, and now here I am writing about it. Kind of a long spiel about p-day...oh well.

Last week was transfer week. Sorry I forgot to give you some heads up that transfers was coming up. Elder O'Donley and I are both staying here in Perry. (as are all the other elders in the zone-none of the elders were transferred. The guidelines from the brethren are that missionaries should be transferred as infrequently as possible.) As for the rest of my districe, Sister Carter and her greenie sister Hill both stayed in their area; Sister Golightly's two companions got transferred and she got a new greenie named Sis. Decker (which, coincidentally, was also the name of one of her companions last transfer.); and Sister Lee got a new greenie named Sister Maughn. So basically, half of my district is green. I guess going green is the popular thing to do these days anyways.

Well, we had a really awesome week this past week. A couple highlights:

-Two Saturdays ago we took Steven on a tur of the Kirtland sites between Bro. Andres' baptism and the Kirtland play. Siss. Golightly, Wirig, and Decker gave us a tour and it was a really powerful spiritual experience for everybody. This was emphasized last week as we asked Steven to give the closing prayer at the end of the first lesson we had with him after that tour. He prayed with a lot of faith, sincerity, and gratitude to Heavenly Father for allowing him to be where the prophet had been and see even more evidence that Joseph Smith really was a prophet. It was so cool to hear him pray like that. (He's had a lot of very heartfelt, uplifting prayers with us in the past as well.)

-Roleplaying is the key to revelation. One day last week we were preparing during our studies to teach the Elliots. As we roleplayed the lesson we had planned to teach them, it was flat and something just didn't feel right. So, we knelt down and sought further guidance about what to teach them. After our prayer we both felt the distinct impression that we needed to teach them the law of tithing. We had tried to teach them about tithing a couple weeks ago and it didn't go very well. Even though we had a member with us and invited the Spirit, they weren't willing to commit. But, we felt impressed to reteach the principle so we followed the prompting. We taught them again about tithing and this time they were ready. They had prayed about it and felt that it was the right thing to do. I am grateful that the Lord let us know exactly what they needed to hear that day and that we were in tune enough to recognize and follow that prompting.

So yeah, last week was inspiring. There's been a lot of miracles happening in our area and elsewhere. I've been having my district report every week on some of the miracles they've seen and that is very inspirational as well. It sounds like y'all have had a good week as well. There was lots of exciting news and I was glad to hear that no one ended up in the hospital from the family reunion this year. Funny story - our stake and the Cleveland stake had their pioneer trek last week. It was super hot and humid and the youth started, for lack of a better phrase, dropping like flies. They didn't walk the last day because the hospital told them that if one more person got sent in they were going to notify CPS and file charges against the church. I'm glad our trek was a little less realistic than theirs.

So we've been teaching members about member missionary work recently and the other day we roleplayed with a member couple how they could invite one of their friends to hear the gospel. It was a pretty cool experience. I'm sure you've been working diligently to find some referrals for the sister missionaries back home.

How has teh hometeaching been going? Have you tried teaching the PMG lessons yet? I can't think of anything that would better help Cody prepare for missionary service than following the smae process missionary companionships use to prepare to teach: planning, personal study, companion study, teaching, and companionship inventory. (Unfortunately, you don't really have the luxury of district meetings and zone conferences, which are also part of the process.) Prayerfully plan what lesson to teach, study it alone, study it together and discuss who will teach what part of the lesson and how you can tailor it to their needs, plan what commitment you will leave, teach the lesson, and evaluate what went well and what could have been done better. Sorry for that little bit of preaching there, but it's something about which I feel strongly.

Well, good job everybody on your great accomplishments of this week like mastering the Spanish language, captivating a congregation during a sacrament meeting talk, going back to school after summer vacation, or not getting sliced up at the family reunion.

LYMNB, Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, August 2, 2010

Email from 8/2/2010

Hello all,

Sorry last week's email was rather subpar. I wrote a letter, but then I kept forgetting to put it in the mail, so you'll probably get it today if you haven't yet. Sorry, Mom.

I'm glad that Mom's having dreams about elk hunting. That's a very good sign.

What with all the candy I've recieved in this past week the horses probably aren't the only ones who will be gaining a hundred pounds. Thanks, everybody!

Sorry you had a tough lesson experience, Mom. We get that a lot. I love it when investigators or others we are teaching share comments and experiences, but some of them have bad habits of going WAY off-topic really fast. Some of the members we take teaching with us do the same thing, but not really anybody in this ward, now that I think of it. That was really nice of the Kanistaneauxs to bring cookies, though.

Was it worth eating the tootsie-roll wrapper, Delaney? You didn't have to walk all the way to the secure trash area. You could have just put it in somebody else's tent instead. That way the bears wouldn't bug you. Note: Delaney and another tent mate ate a tootsie roll wrapper instead of getting shoes on and taking it to the locked trailer which held the garbage.

So as we were finishing up our weekly planning session on Thursday we heard somewhat of a commotion in the entry hall of our apartment. (You have to understand the layout of our apartment complex. There are four apartments - two on the 1st floor and 2 on the 2nd floor. The parking lot is around back and every apartment has a porch and a sliding glass door in the back. That's how everybody comes into their apartments. In the front of the building is one door that leads to a shared entry hall that has the front doors to each apartment. I'm not sure if we even have a key to our front door because we never use it.) So we heard a disturbance (whispering, giggling, etc.) and were curious since nobody uses that entrance. We started unlocking the door and heard an "oh, crap!" and the sound of people rushing down the stairs. A look out the window revealed a U-haul with two not-so-unfamiliar personages climbing in. They left candy and doughnuts. Thanks, Lori & Katie!! Good job escaping fast - that was a close one.

Don't feel bad, Mom. I still love you. Note: Hearing that Katie & Lori were so close to Matt made me cry.

I got your package, yes. It was 'halfway decent' - very clever. I especially liked the pictures of everybody holding the sign. I think we're going to have to bike a lot so I don't turn into a big blob of chocolate, considering how much candy we got this week. There was your package, the Lawrence's package, Lori & Katie's package, an investigator gave us a bag of chips ahoy! cookies, and to top it off, we were contacting at a fair this week and after it was over a pastor from another church in the area gave us a grocery bag filled with cookies his church hadn't been able to finish handing out to people at the fair. It's like being in candy heaven. (but probably enamel hell.)

answering questions:

were there changes to our district during transfers?

yes, Siss. Lee and Golightly have new greenies they are training - Siss. Maughn and Decker. So now half of my district is greenies and the other half is trainers.

who came to church, etc.

We had a new investigator at church today named Lisa. She was a former investigator a couple years ago but stopped investigating so we stopped by to see if we could teach her again. She accepted and even came to church for the first time. She had a great experience and had nothing but good comments - especially about Relief Society. She hit it off really well with a couple of the sisters and said she would be coming back next week.

Steven hasn't made much progress with smoking - we're still working on it.

I got your postcard today - it's funny. I love that artist. Thanks for writing!

The church is true, the book is blue, and I'll see you in 2...I mean 1. Kinda kills the rhyme, though.


Elder Matthew Smith