Monday, November 8, 2010

Letter to Utah

Hello everybody,

I'm pretty jealous that mom and dad got Garth tickets. Hope it was all you dreamed it would be! What kind of stuff did they sing at the Donnie & Marie show?

It's also pretty cool for delaney to be playing in Messiah. There's a four-stake choir that's going to be performing some of Messiah up here in december. I'm pretty excited for it. Hopefully one of our investigators will want to go to it so we can go too.

If you like being home alone that much, Cody, you'll love your mission. You're always home alone. Too bad they don't have Panda in Ohio. (Actually, they do, but not in Sandusky. I had Panda at a mall in Parma when I was serving in Cleveland.) Where was Peyton while you were writing the email alone and Delaney was at orchestra? What did Diane feed you for dinner? We had an AWESOME dinner on Sunday night - it was green bean casserole, but it was indescribably extreme. Inconcievably so, even. Thanks Diane for feeding my siblings!

Sorry they didn't leave you any ice cream, Delaney. You could always go buy some if you were so desperate.

"""How's the investigator situation? Anybody new? Who came to church this week? Inspiring stories?"""

Investigators are doing well. Esther's fiance, Robbie, likes us a lot more now than he used to. He even asked some questions about how the BOM relates to his native american heritage. He actually listens to and participates in our lessons now, which is some big progress. They had a family function and were unable to come to church, but we took them on a church tour with the Bishop and it went really well. It got Robbie and Koda, who haven't been to church yet, much more comfortable with the idea of coming to church. We even went down into the baptismal font and did a 'dry run' baptism. (now they're 'dry mormons', get it? ha ha ha...)

Sister Jenkins has to work Sundays for a couple weeks so she probably won't be at church for the rest of this month. Not much to update there.

We've taught a lot of members lately, seeking referrals. We watch the PMG dvd segment about working with members and discuss it and then commit them to think of their next plan of action for sharing the gospel with their friends, and then role-play it with them to help them practice. As a result, we were able to teach a member referral in the member's home yesterday, and we have commitments from a couple other members to share the gospel with their friends.

So you'll never believe this: President got all the zone leaders portable DVD players so we can watch the PMG and PMG2 dvds at our apartments and during the district meetings we attend. We're also getting new phones with full keyboards and text messaging. Lots of exciting changes that I never thought I would see on my mission!

President shared a pretty cool story during a leadership training meeting last week. Ether 12:23, but here goes anyways: As a VP of Holiday Oil, another company offered to pay for President Sorensen and his son (I think he was a bishop at the time) to go to a NASCAR race at Indianapolis. The race, of course, was on a Sunday. He knew he should keep the sabbath day holy, but his son really liked nascar, so he decided to go against his better judgement. The company (gatorade, I think) wined and dined them and put them up in the finest hotels. Sunday came around and they looked up the nearest lds chapel to go to sacrament meeting. Then they headed off to the racetrack. They had the option of staying in a nice, air-conditioned box that directly overlooked the finish line, or if they didn't want to sit there, they could be on the front row, right behind Jeff Gordon's box. Literally, they were right beside the track. They could feel the bass compression waves as the cars revved and roared past. President Sorensen contemplated the experience as he was sitting there watching the race, and then compared it to how he had felt sitting in an alien chapel full of strangers and taking the sacrament. He realized that it was no comparison - the world's fleeting thrills simply cannot compete with the Spirit of the Lord. I've often felt similarly as I've been teaching investigators and others - when the Spirit is present at a lesson, that is when the Godhead is making itself manifest, and neither the missionaries, nor the investigators, nor the members who are present, would rather be anywhere else in the world. It's that good.

Yes, Delaney, missionaries can and do bear their testimonies on fast sunday.

No, I didn't hear about the football games. Thanks for the update. Funny story: We were visiting a member in a nursing home last week (or maybe the week before, not sure) and his roommate had the browns game on. We pulled the curtain between us, but the guy was obviously pretty hard of hearing, so the volume was WAY up, so we couldn't help but overhear what was going on at the end of the game. Anyways, the Browns beat the defending superbowl champs with an interception that was run back 67? yards for a touchdown. Anyways, a couple hours later we were at dinner with a member family, the bishop and his wife, and the sister missionaries serving in our ward. As we were waiting for dinner to be ready, we were sitting in the living room on the couch and the bishop and Elder Fronk and I had the following conversation:

Bishop:"do you know who just beat the superbowl champs from last year?"
Elder Smith: "of course - the Browns!" (I acted all excited about it)
Elder Fronk caught on and said: "yeah, with the interception right at the end!"
Elder Smith: "yeah, the one that was run back 67 yards for a touchdown!"
Elder Fronk: "yeah, it was amazing! What a game!"

The sister missionaries' eyes were as wide as saucers - their jaws dropped. Sister Houston said "HOW do you know THAT?"

The looks on their faces were priceless.

Oh, one more thing: we went on exchanges with one of our district leaders and his companion last week. I was working with his companion in West Cleveland, where I was trained. We got to teach one of their investigators (actually, I was interviewing him for baptism, but we taught him a lesson as well.), and of course we brought the investigator's fellowshipper along with us. The fellowshipper was Tim, who I taught and got baptized right after I was transferred. It was great to see him again and see that he's still strong in the gospel and has a great testimony. He has his patriarchal blessing now and is progressing towards the Melchizedek priesthood, as well as fellowshipping investigators and helping others accept the gospel. Tasha, who I taught in Cleveland, and was also baptized right after I left, is now less-active and questioning her testimony.

LYMNB, Elder Matthew Smith