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