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