Monday, September 27, 2010

Way to Go Mom!

Hello Family,

Good job Mom (and everyone else involved in the victorious conquest)!

Thanks for all the details - what an exciting story! Mom, you should definitely let him stay in the house: I was thinking maybe the vaulted ceiling in your bedroom would be nice: wouldn't you want to wake up every morning and see that huge elk head hanging over your bed?

Why aren't you stoked for Conference, Peyton? It's like Christmas two days in a row! How was the Relief Society Broadcast, Mom? We had a couple investigators at that, but we weren't able to go with them to it. I'm so excited - I don't know what it is about your mission, but conference gets way more exciting. I especially can't wait for Elder Holland's talk. I've been asking Heavenly Father to tell him to speak about authority, so we'll see how that goes. To answer your question, conference will be broadcast to our ward building. It's kind of funny - fast sunday was last week because of conference, this week is conference, and next week is going to be stake conference (also broadcast to our ward building). In a couple weeks here, we won't have had a regular sacrament meeting for about a month! I'm pretty jealous that you will have conference DVR'd so you can watch it as many times as you want! Modern technology is so cool!

What did Mom say about my mission other than that the food is good? What did the other missionary moms say?

How was homecoming, Delaney? Did you go to Riverton or Jordan's homecoming? Did you win the football game? I KNOW Mom took pictures, so why aren't there any pictures of Delaney attached to the email? What can you tell me about Steve? What does Diane think about him?

I heard that BYU lost - our ward's Elders' Quorum was talking about recording a BYU game and watching it on a Tuesday night for an Elders' Quorum activity, but that idea kind of died when they lost. Instead they borrowed my copy of "Joseph Smith - Prophet of the Restoration" and watched it. I love that movie so much! We've watched it with a couple of less-active members here, too and it's so good! I would have seen it again on Tuesday, but I was on exchanges with one of our district leaders - Elder Leake (he came out with me and was serving near me when I was in Cleveland).

That's nice of President to send you a letter saying how great I am. Did both letters say the same thing? Why were there two letters?

News from the Perry ward: I got an email from Elder O'Donley today, and I talked to Elder Ercanbrack (his new companion) the other day - here's the scoop on our investigators: Lisa has been dropped, they're still working with Steven, I forgot to ask about Ethan, and Bro. Hanny has a calling now - gospel principles teacher! (I know, right? So cool! The Hannys are so solid!) I think Sis. Hanny has a calling as well.
Solid families we're teaching:

Esther & co.: I think I told you a little about her before: Esther (24ish) lives with her fiancee Robby, her daughter Yasmine, her cousin Lakota, and her brother Robby (and we've taught her friend Sue as well - she just happened to be at their home once when we had an appointment). Esther is super solid - she keeps her reading commitments, keeps appointments, understands well, asks good questions, and everything else. The reason she doesn't have a baptismal date is because she's living unmarried with Robby. Robby's not really on board with us - he's pretty set in his Native American beliefs. They have a marriage date, but it's in May of next year, I think, so we're working on that. Any ideas, Dad? I think I remember you saying that you had a lot of trouble with people living unmarried on your mission. I think if we can get past that concern she will quickly get baptized. Esther, Lakota, and Yasmine all went to the RS broadcast Saturday night (at the church), as well as a potluck dinner our ward's RS put on beforehand. By all accounts they had a great time and were well fellowshipped. (we weren't there, of course). They have a great RM sister in the ward fellowshipping them very well.

Michelle & Michael: I think I told you about them also, but I can't really remember, so I'll just repeat myself. We found Michelle tracting. She had basically prayed us there and was super prepared. Michael was there for our return appointment as well. As we taught the restoration, their answers to questions and their comments were sounding almost like Mormon cliches - "I don't think you can just go to school and have authority to be a pastor" and things like that. They had been talking amongst themselves recently about how there was no record of God's dealings with the indians' (and other peoples') ancestors, so were excited to hear about the Book of Mormon. They understand and believe in continuing revelation. They've felt the spirit "nagging" at them that they need to read the BOM. The only thing they don't really seem to get is authority, so we're working on that. I also think they're a little confused about our Sunday services because of the weird schedule in the coming weeks. I've asked God to tell Elder Holland to speak about authority, so that concern should get cleared up this weekend. It was pretty cool - we prayed with Michelle that she'd find a better job and right after we left she got a call with an offer that she accepted. She was pretty excited about that. They've got a lot of potential - I can definitely see them getting baptized. We've got a great recent convert as their fellowshipper, so that will help them, too.

Unfortunately, the junk food I didn't finish I left in Perry for Elder Ercanbrack. My three suitcases were too full of junk to bring any more. I'm going to have to send some stuff home once winter is over (and probably again before I come home).

So Elder Fronk is pretty intense - he does 600 pushups and 50 pullups per day (except Sunday and Monday)

I'm excited to talk to y'all, too, although I must admit I'm more than a little distressed about how fast my mission is going by and how little I have left of it.

Remind me again when Chris and Nate (or, more properly, Elders Nestman and Horrocks) get home. E. Nestman should be getting pretty close to done, shouldn't he? Any news from their parents (or anyone else's?)

LoveYMNB, Elder Matthew Smith

ps keep an eye on my debit card balance please - zone leaders have to travel and eat out a lot more.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Email 9/13/2010

Hello Peoples,

Yeah, Sandusky probably is about Sandy's size. I don't really remember how big Sandy is, but it sounds close enough to me. It's a whole lot more ghetto than Sandy, though. Yeah, the roller coaster park, Cedar Point, seems like a pretty big deal (except nobody in Sandusky seems to like it very much - I guess it would be like living right next door to Disneyland or something - they take it for granted and get used to it.

I'm pretty excited to hear about mom's massive elk next P-day! You guys should have gotten a squirrel tag, too! Has mom been practicing? Doing finger exercises? Who all is going up hunting with you guys?

Way to go my Eagle Scout brother!!! That is so cool - well done! So, now that you're the champion of the world, what are you going to do next? Do you like learning Spanish? Are you as good at it as Delaney? At least you're probably a better golfer than her, right?

I have to say I agree with you on the importance of compound bows over violin bows, Dad. Why don't you just tell Delaney that? I'm sure she'd change her mind. Why didn't Cody go to the Lion King play?

You guys continue to astound me with your knowledge of missionary lingo and practices - I never knew what 'trunky' meant or who went to district meetings until I was out on my mission. Elder Fronk and I are the Zone Leaders (or Zone Lords, depending on who you ask...). As for why the ZL area is Sandusky, I do not know and it makes no sense to me - we've burned up tons of miles already with the trips we've had to make to Cleveland, Kirtland, and other places, and we wouldn't have had to use nearly as much if we were in a closer area to Cleveland instead of at the edge of the zone. I think the ZL area is going to be moved in a transfer or two - there's an area close to Cleveland that covers two wards with only one companionship and I'm guessing that area will get divided and one of them will be the new ZL area.

Rundown on our investigators: They're all new in the past week or two. In the week before I got transferred here all our investigators we had were dropped. Fortunately, we've had some great success in finding - way more than we usually have (this is the magic of fasting) - and we're building up our teachpool again.

Treena: Lives across the street from us. She's been married for 18 years but is soon getting a divorce. She has a 17 yr old daughter and a 14 yr old son and I think one younger daughter that we haven't met yet. We've taught her twice - went over the Restoration both times and committed her to a baptismal date at the end of October. We've been teaching her on her front porch and her street is really busy, so we're hoping to start teaching her in a member's home. She wasn't at church this week because her son (probably) broke his hip on Friday and needed some extra TLC.

Janet: Is the newlywed wife of a member husband who is currently returning to activity. She's lived there for quite a while, but not been very open to missionaries apparently. They got married two weeks or so ago and that seemed to open a lot of doors for missionary work. We're pretty excited about her. She (as well as her husband and his 18ish yr. old son) came to church and had a great experience. We're still working on trying to get them to stay for the full block, but we've got an awesome fellowshipper for her from the RS and are confident that she can do it.

Jeanene (sounds like "Janine"): We found tracting the other day. We taught her the restoration and committed her to a baptismal date at the end of October as well. She has been searching for God and appears to have been pretty prepared for the message of the restored gospel. Challenges with her will include anti from friends and hesitancy to go to church because of feelings of unworthiness. She has a 7-yr old son and a 6-yr old daughter.

Esther: We found street contacting the other day, and she kept her return appointment yesterday. She had a surprising level of interest in and comprehension of our message. She lives with a fiancee that we haven't really talked to - he seems pretty gruff and standoffish, but we're hoping to soften him up with our UFC talk (he likes MMA). She also has a daughter who I think is 8 yrs old.

For Mom's talk: Missions are great, everybody should serve one. You may never have a comparable opportunity to experience spiritual growth of the rate or quality that occurs while faithfully serving a mission. Fasting works. The church is super true. You won't really understand it 'til you've done it, but it's worth it. Member-oriented proselyting is the KEY to success, and it works wherever we try it. Preach My Gospel is the 2nd most correct of any book on the earth and it was written on the other side of the veil. Members of the church are far more effective at finding and fellowshipping people who are prepared to recieve the gospel than full-time missionaries.

Sorry, Mom, I'm not really sure what you're looking for. Any more specific questions?

Elder Matthew Smith

Part 2:

I was about to get timed out of the library computer. Got back on now.

Thank goodness for nice librarians. Last week I went to the desk to get a library card and they were telling me about how I needed proof of address and stuff. I tried to sweet-talk through it like I have at all the other libraries where It's been necessary, but surprisingly it didn't work that time. I had to pay a dollar for a guest pass. I came in and tried the same thing this week with a different librarian and it worked much better. Everyone please hug a librarian for me. (missionaries can't do that)

So we have some awesome P-days in this area. After studies we went to the Sandusky Fight Club, a mixed martial arts gym, and learned Jiu Jitsu. We practiced chokeholds, escapes, full guard, and even blind sparring. It was a ton of fun! Maybe I should forget about all this ATC stuff and just be a cagefighter for my job instead. What are your thoughts on that, Mom? I think Cody would be really good at it, too.

There were a couple of days last week when it got under 70 and we had to put our suit jackets on. It was crazy. I can't believe that summer is already drawing to a close. It's back in the 70s again now, though. We're having to do a bit of biking because all of our miles are getting used outside of our area going to meetings and stuff like that. No good, but at least we get to talk to more people that way.

How is everybody's personal and family prayer and scripture study going? How about FHE? Just in case anybody's slacking off, the 13th of September is always a good time to reevaluate and recommit yourself to a renewed effort! It really makes a difference. There's a reason why we work and struggle and teach and testify and try so hard to get people to read the Book of Mormon and Pray about it daily, and why we're so devastated if they haven't! Remember, we're all investigators in the gospel, no matter how far down the investigative path we may currently be.

Alrighty, I really do have to get headed off now.

LoveYMNB, Elder Matthew Smith

Thursday, September 9, 2010

One zone to rule them all.....

One Zone to rule them all,
One Zone to find them,
One Zone to teach them all,
And to their families...

I'm back in the Cleveland Zone, baby!!!

Hello Family,

Hope everybody's having fun camping. Sorry this email will have to be super quick since we're short on time.

"We're all curious about where you ended up last week."

I ended up in Sandusky, Ohio. 1413 1/2 Camp St. Sandusky, OH 44870, to be exact.

"Please tell us all about it!"

It's pretty cool - home of Cedar Point and Kalahari waterpark (neither of which we can go to, of course, but oh well)

"Where are you?"

In Sandusky, like I said.

"Big city or small town?"

It's more of a small city. Much bigger than Perry, but much smaller than Cleveland or Toledo.

"Who's your companion?"

Elder Fronk from Tremonton, UT. He's not a hunter, he likes sports like football, basketball, MMA, and weightlifting. He's been out one transfer longer than I have. He's a really good missionary and teacher. He has both older and younger brothers and sisters.

"Car or bike?"


"Lots of investigators in the works?"

Not really. When I got here we had one investigator, but we've yet to get in contact with him, so he's pretty much dropped. We've had some pretty good success finding this week, though, so hopefully there will be more in the works pretty soon.

"What area?"

Sandusky - a little more than an hour west of Cleveland.

"Do you have a leadership position in your new area?"


"Do you like the ward?"


"You know - answer all the things that mothers think are important and you probably don't even care about."

We live in an upstairs apartment above some members of the church. The ward seems to feed us very well. There's one set of sisters in the ward in addition to ourselves. Every P-day we get to go to the Sandusky Fight Club (owned by a member) and learn Jui Jutsu (sp?).

Last Monday was "Zoned Out" - a huge missionary field-day type thing where half of the mission (the other half will go next week) meets at the John Johnson farm to play around for a P-day. I spent most of the time playing football and ultimate frisbee. It was a lot of fun. That's why we couldn't email on Monday. We couldn't email on Tuesday because of leadership training meetings. We couldn't email on Wednesday because we went to the Elyria district's District Meeting. So now it's Thursday and we're finally emailing. Sorry it took so long. Hopefully you got my letter.

How did the chukar taste?

You're welcome for the bracelets, but you can thank the Hofmann family for them.

Elder Matthew Smith

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Letter 9/7/10

Dear Family,

Hey everybody, I've been transferred to Sandusky, Ohio, home of Cedar Point. "the 'fun" and only!" My new address is:

Elder Matthew Smith
14131/2 Camp St.
Sandusky, OH 44870

My new companion, Elder Fronk is pretty cool. He's from Tremonton, UT, he likes sports, and yes, he does have younger sisters, Cody. He's a really good teacher - I enjoy his confident teaching style - and it's nice because he doesn't hesitate to take the lesson back from me, which helps me avoid teaching way too large a proportion of the lesson. our area is kind of slow, especially in comparison to Perry, but we've had some really good success the past couple days finding new investigators, so that'll help. I'm excited to get to know a new area & ward and I think we're going to have a really good transfer.

I'm not sure if we'll be emailing on Monday this week or some other time - "Zoned Out" is on Monday - it's our annual mission-wide p-day. It was tons of fun last year so I'm pretty excited. It's going to cost us a lot of miles to get there & back and pick up other missionaries, though. We're in a driving area (and we have a truck now - a Chevy Colorado), but most of our miles are going to be used outside our area - so we'll be biking a lot this month.


Elder Matthew Smith