Thursday, October 28, 2010

Email received 10/28/10

We took these at our ward hoe down. We are enjoying having your son in our ward. Thanks for preparing him so well. My son just returned from hismission in Nicaragua and has enjoyed going out on visits with them.Sister

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Last Winter is Coming :(

Hey Y'all:

So we had a District Leader training for the DLs in our zone last week and invited President to come. During his workshop, Elder Fronk said "you guys" at one point or another. President called us that night to remind him that the appropriate way to address a group of missionaries would be "you Elders", not "you guys". Elder Fronk and I decided we should just start saying "y'all" instead. Maybe not. Also, I recently was reading 3 Nephi where the Savior comes to the Nephite people and decided that I should follow His example in how I introduce myself. Now when missionaries call our phone instead of saying "Hello, this is Elder Smith", I say "Behold, this is Elder Smith". (see 3 Nephi 11:10). Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Anyways, sorry it's snowing! How much did you get? Is it sticking? When do the ski resorts open?

It sounds like you've been doing some pretty intense fiddling, Delaney! I remember watching videos of people doing that (fingering your own violin while playing the bow on someone else's) and I thought it was mind-boggling. How did you decide that was what you were going to do? You should also find out if it was Elder Butler or Butcher whose farewell you played at so I can say hi to him at transfer meeting next month. I think its on the 24th - not sure. What song did you play? Note: Delaney helped her violin teacher with a musical number in another student's ward and it was a missionary farewell. Guess where the missionary was going!

I don't remember anything about an annual donut eating contest - where was I all this time?

Sounds like Peyton is already a pretty good wingman when it comes to flirtatious capers. It's funny to me to think of you texting, Mom (or Delaney or Peyton, for that matter). In our mission only the APs have texting on their phones, but we were talking about it last month at Zone Leader Council, and we're probably going to get texting on all our phones in the next month or two.

Thanks for the info on the Nestmans' missions.

Yes, my release date is a transfer week. Here's how transfers work:

Tuesday: New missionaries leave the MTC Tuesday morning and arrive in Cleveland Tuesday night, where they have interviews with President, some instruction from President & Sister Sorensen, the senior couples, and the APs, get a whole lot of orientation stuff - their new arrival packet -, have dinner, and sleep at the mission home.

Wednesday: Transfer meeting happens at the Kirtland stake center around noon. Prior to that, President Sorensen and Patriarch Karl Anderson (the Kirtland Guru) take the new missionaries on a tour of the Kirtland sites and Kirtland Temple (a Community of Christ tour guide is also present at the temple) (the sites and temple are both less than a mile from the stake center). In the School of the Prophets, new arrivals kneel and covenant what kind of missionaries they are going to be. Then they head to the stake center. Right before transfer meeting, the trainers meet their trainees, and the APs let the ZLs know where everyone is serving. During transfer meeting, President says a few words (announcements, instruction, introducing the new missionaries), a few departing missionaries are asked to give their testimonies, and the ZLs announce who will be serving where in their zones. Then everyone disperses to their new areas and companions, usually driven there by the ZLs. The departing missionaries go back to the School of the Prophets to return and report on their missions to the Lord, then go to the mission home where they have their departure interviews, etc. They spend the night at the mission home.

Thursday: Departures cry, are driven to the airport, fly home, meet their families, and cry some more.

So what kind of chatter is there in the family about my departure date?

The primary program should be great. Our ward had our primary program yesterday and it was phenomenal. We had some investigators there and I was really glad they were able to see it. The kids (and parents) had to write their own talks, too! Does every ward do that now, or just Sandusky?

Our week was pretty good. Bro. and Sis. Jenkins came to church yesterday. We made sure their fellowshippers were all over them, too, which made for a good church experience. Esther and Yasmine were also at church. Their fellowshippers were also on the ball - I was really pleased with the ward for what a great job they did helping our investigators feel welcome and at home. Everybody liked it and had good experiences. We did a good amount of teaching this week, but we've been struggling to find new investigators. We tracted a lot this week and have a bunch of return appointments with potential investigators, so hopefully some of those will work out. We've been praying real hard that we can find some people to teach & baptize who will be solid leaders in the ward, too - our ward struggles with not having enough strong families that are really anxiously engaged to fill the leadership positions. Extra prayers would be appreciated.

I'm glad you made it out to the temple. That's probably the thing I miss the most (other than family, of course). First, Family; second, Temple; third, Cafe Rio. I always joke that I'm not sure what I want to do first after I get off the airplane - go straight to the temple or stop at Cafe Rio first.

We classify our investigators as "progressing investigators" and "other investigators" based on whether or not they are keeping the commitments we have given them - reading the scriptures, praying, coming to church, etc.

The prophets have given us commitments to do the same things: personal and family scripture study and prayer, church attendance, FHE, temple worship, etc. Are you a 'progressing member' or an 'other member'? Can ye feel so now? (Alma 5:26)

I love you, appreciate you, and pray in gratitude for you!


Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, October 18, 2010

Email 10/18/2010

Hello Everybody,

Sorry Lake Powell didn't work out, but the cabin was probably fun. What were the kids up to while Katie and Diane were slaving away and you were getting your foot massage? Where does the new road go? What is Texas sheet cake? How are you doing on the missionary sisters' assignment to find people for them to teach?

How does Sis. Nestman feel having 3 kids out on missions? That seems like it would be pretty tough. Chris is in Prague - remind me where Trevor and Brittany went? By the way, if I remember correctly, I come home on August 4th, in case you were wondering. (not that I'm getting trunked out or anything - you just mentioned that you thought it funny that Chris knew his release date so far in advance. I'm pretty sure I knew that date just about from the get-go.)

Delaney is thinking about going to BYU, huh? That's unexpected. Dad probably just said he'd still love her because he was sick and didn't really understand what was going on.

Investigators are doing alright. Sis. Jenkins was sick and thus absent from church. We've been inviting her hometeacher to come with us to lessons, though, and that is paying off. He overcame all sorts of Word of Wisdom problems in the past, so he was able to really relate to them well. Bro. and Sis. Jenkins are both making progress, albeit slowly, on the word of wisdom.

We've made a little progress with Esther & Robbie. Robbie used to be really standoffish with us, but he's opened up a lot since we invited him to come to the gym with us on P-day. He's really into MMA and would like to learn the Jiu-Jitsu part of it, so he accepted. He liked it a lot and said he thinks he's going to join the gym. He also said that he's going to quit smoking so that he'll be able to keep up with everybody there. After that he was a lot more open with us and even sat in on our next lesson, although he didn't participate too much. The owner of the gym is a somewhat active member, too, so he really appreciated us doing some 'advertising' for him.

Per your questions: we go to jiu-jitsu class once a week (on P-day, obviously). How it compares to karate - it's all about grappling and not so much striking. They're both a lot of fun. Also it's a lot more 'martial' than 'art'. Yes, MMA is why Elder Fronk works out so much.

So I just got an email from my trainer, Elder Marini, stating that he's getting married in December. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Our teachpool has kind of dwindled down to just those 2 investigators that we're really actively teaching, so we're focused on finding now. I kind of miss my last ward where the members were all really excited about missionary work and we had some success with finding through members. This ward really means well and tries hard, too, but the 'core' of leadership in the ward is pretty small, so its usually just the same ten people that are really putting their shoulders to the wheel. I've really been praying hard that we can find some people to teach and baptize that will be able to help the ward out with leadership and build it up.

Keep up the small & simple things! Individual and family scripture study & prayer and FHE are vital! If all our investigators would do that, we'd baptize tons - imagine if all our members would do the same!

LYMNB, Elder Matthew Smith

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sorry about your candy bar - I guess for future reference we know now that Penny likes milk chocolate w/ almonds, so on her B-day we can get her milk chocolate and dark for everyone else, right? What is the new mexican place called? Is it more along the lines of taco bell, cafe rio, gecko's, or la casita? Did you get/do anything else exciting for your birthday?

Thanks for doing your part in feeding the missionaries! Did they have any health concerns or allergies you had to be careful of when figuring out what to feed them? What did you eat? The sisters in the same ward as us have been in a triple-up for a week or so now after a sister in the neighboring ward went home sick - I guess she was allergic to just about everything. She said she would usually take her own meal to member dinners just to be safe and reduce the hassle for the members. It won't be a triple up anymore since transfers is wednesday. That's funny that they are triple-up training that new sister missionary - that doesn't happen very often here. What commitment did they leave you with their dinner thought?

That's pretty cool that our stake is putting out so many missionaries - are there any statistics available about how many missionaries our stake has out versus other stakes, etc?

Way to go following the spirit in your classes and "teach(ing) people, not lessons"! Isn't it cool how Heavenly Father knows the needs of His children and helps us meet them?

"How are your investigators progressing?"

They're doing alright, but progress is coming slower than we would prefer.

"Do you have any new ones?"

Not really - we've had a dearth of finding in our area for a couple weeks. We've decided it's time to fast again.

"How are the word of wisdom concerns coming?"

Sis. Jenkins has made some progress on smoking. We've also arranged to bring Bro. Brown to our next lesson with them - he is their hometeacher and has overcome similar concerns in his life as well, so should be able to help and encourage them really well.

"Who came to church?"

This week was stake conference - it was broadcast from the stake center in Westlake to our ward building here in Sandusky, but the quality of the A/V left a little to be desired - especially as compared to general conference. The meeting itself was really good, though. President and Sister Sorensen both spoke, as well as the stake presidency, of course. There was also a really good talk by a recent convert in the lakewood ward who got baptized last month. She told her conversion story about overcoming word of wisdom concerns and how much the gospel has changed her life and improved her relationship with her husband (recently returned less-active member). It was really inspirational and uplifting, and I was glad that Bro. and Sis. Jenkins were able to see it, since they're basically in the same boat the recent convert was in before her baptism. We also had a less-active member, Sis. Young, at church. We've been working on her for a while and it is really cool to see how the Book of Mormon has softened her heart as we've read it with her. She went from being totally closed to coming to church to finally coming out on Sunday. What's more, it turns out that she and Sis. Jenkins know eachother, so they hit it off really well.

"How is the unmarried couple doing?"

Alright - Esther is gaining a testimony and feels that the Book of Mormon is true (although she's yet to pray about it, which is not good.) We think we're getting in the door a little bit more with Robbie as well. He's big into MMA, so we talk about that with him and he has been wanting to get into the Jui-Jitsu side of it for a while, so we committed him to check out Bro. Snyder's gym by coming to Jiu-Jitsu class with us today. I definitely never thought that we would commit someone to come to a fight club with us as part of teaching the gospel. It's definitely inspired that Elder Fronk is serving in this area.

"How much time do you spend being missionaries versus being zone leaders?" What
are your responsibilities as a zone leader? How many districts or missionaries are you in
charge of? How big is the zone in area anyway? Do you have anything special that you have
to do because of transfers? I've told people that you drive a truck and they think it is
funny. Is it a 4-wheel drive?"

We get to be missionaries most of the time, but there's a bunch of stupid stuff we have to do like going to more meetings, arranging for other missionaries to get to transfers or other meetings (or to the airport to go home, as has been the case a couple times this transfer), training our DLs, about a million phone calls per day, going on exchanges with disobedient or discordant companionships, etc. Usually our proselyting time isn't affected too much, except that we usually try to go to two district meetings per week, and for a couple districts that means a drive all the way to cleveland and back. Exchanges also affect our proselyting time since we have to go meet them to exchange and meet them again to exchange back. Most weeks we'll only go on one exchange, but we had to do 3 last week. Our area suffered a little because of the lost time, as well as having an extra meeting to go to in Cleveland that killed a whole day. The Cleveland zone in area is everthing from Sandusky to Cleveland. It exactly aligns with the boundaries of the Cleveland stake (as is the case with all the stakes in the mission, with the exception of the Toledo stake which is divided into two zones because of how much area it covers). 22 missionaries in zone. Anyways, we started out with 23 missionaries in the zone, then one went home, then another, then a missionary got transferred from Kirtland to serve in a triple up, and we have 22 again. The zone is divided into 3 districts, plus the Assistants who aren't in a district. We don't have to do anything too special for transfers except give people a ride to and from transfer meeting and announce to everyone at transfer meeting where people are going to serve in our zone. Yes, the truck is a 4-wheel drive.

About transfers - Elder Fronk and I are both staying here in Sandusky.

No, I don't really need anything more than prayers.

You'll have to let me know what lake powell is like in October. Hopefully everybody has fun and stays warm. It should be a lot easier to sleep, at least.

Pretty cool story: Elder Robison (seems to have been serving near me for half of my mission or so - he's now a ZL in Findlay) and his companion were preparing a man for baptism, and had a member teaching with them. During the whole lesson the member felt like he recognized the investigator from somewhere, but couldn't place it. The next day, he had a flashback to ten years ago as he was going to general conference in SLC - the investigator had been one of the protesters outside the conference center and said some pretty offensive things to him. He remembered going inside and praying that the protester would have his heart softened and eventually be able to accept the gospel. At the next lesson the investigator said that yes, that was him. It took ten years and a lot of effort, but his prayer was answered, and he got to be part of the answer to his prayer. The protester/investigator was baptized last weekend. Sweet!

I love you! Thanks everyone for being great examples of gospel living and learning. Keep it up, choose the right, and focus on what's most important!


Elder Matthew Smith

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Letter from President Sorenson

September 8, 2010
(and September 13, 2010 - we got 2 identical letters)

Dear Brother and Sister Smith:

We are pleased to inform you that your son, Elder Matthew Kay Smith, has been called to serve as a zone leader, for the Cleveland Zone. The responsibilities of a zone leader are many, and it is a critical position because of the impact a zone leader has in the life and success of each missionary he has responsibility for, and ultimately upon those whom they teach.

Sister Sorensen and I have every confidence in Elder Smith's ability to lead this zone with his pleasing personality, his developed leadership skills, and with his usual reliance upon the Lord for guidance. I'm sure you are very proud of Elder Smith, as he is an outstanding missionary and has served faithfully and diligently in every calling he has been given. He excels in gaining love and respect from everyone around him. He is truly a disciple of the Lord.

I am looking forward to working more closely with Elder Smith as we strive to accomplish the work the Lord has for us to do here in the Ohio Cleveland Mission. Thank you for raising up such a faithful, devoted servant of the Lord, and for sharing him with us. Please continue to support him in his work with your prayers and letters.

President Darwin D. Sorensen
Ohio Cleveland Mission

You Stupid Cow!


So conference was amazing!!! I'm worried that sometime if an investigator isn't progressing or something I'll be tempted to yell "you stupid cow!" at them. That might not go over well. I love how funny Pres. Uchtdorf is - he was right - I totally was wondering what tree rings had to do with flying an airplane when he said that. My favorite talks were probably Elder Kearing's (sp?) talk in Priesthood about how flip-flops are inadequate protection in a scorpion-infested desert. I thought it applied very well to Paul's admonition to have our "feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace". I also really liked the one (Elder Oaks', I think) about the personal and priesthood lines of revelation. The one about the power of the Priesthood in healing & addiction recovery and everything was great, and was hopefully a big confidence booster to Bro. and Sis. Jenkins, who were at the session when it was given. My other favorite was probably the Priesthood session talk about how women need to be so much nicer to men. I'm pretty sad that I only get one more general conference as a missionary. That's a depressing thought. The temperature and weather turning sour is kind of a depressing thought, as well.

So I thought I saw Bro. Neu during the Sunday afternoon session - was he in the choir?

Back in Utah can you watch conference at the church or stake center, or do you just have to watch it at home?

The only investigator who came to the church to watch conference was Sis. Jenkins. Esther's daughter was sick so we committed her to watch it at home. Thanks for the advice about the marriage situation. Bro. and Sis. Jenkins are doing really well, by the way. As part of our addiction recovery plan we committed her to get cinnamon candies to eat. We were sitting by them at conference and she handed us some candy. We were pretty excited when we realized that it was cinnamon candy. She has significantly reduced her smoking habit and we're really excited for her. (she is, too). Bro. Jenkins has been dry for a week - also a major accomplishment.

We took a member teaching with us who had recently returned from his mission in Nicaragua. We talked about his mission and what it was all like and stuff. He said the mission goal was two baptisms per week per companionship at the start of his mission, and later on they stopped hardly caring about individuals and had a goal to baptize a family each week. I've heard it said that for every door you knock on in the US, someone gets baptized in South America. Pretty crazy.How does the potato fundraiser work? What do you do with all the potatoes you box? No, I'm not really trying to keep up with Elder Fronk's morning workouts. Mine have gotten a bit more intense from serving with him, I guess.

Transfers is next week so we'll probably email next Tuesday instead of Monday. I expect that I will stay here and not be transferred.

How's everybody's family prayer, scripture study, FHE, family dinners, and everything else going?

Loveymnb, Elder Matthew Smith