Monday, January 31, 2011

Email from 1/31/11

Hellooooooooooooo, Family!

Thanks for writing - it's always good to hear from you!

Way to go everybody with all your fun pursuits - sports, dances, choir, stake conference attendance, etc. Would you believe that while you're a missionary you look forward for weeks to stake conference? Who would have thought?

Thanks for jogging my memory about the hunting excursions, Dad. Good times...

The work has been going great! Thanks for asking! We've not been able to spend much time working in our area this week, since we were traveling to all the different zones for training meetings and exchanges, but the time we spent here was magnified. We had three investigators at church yesterday, plus four more nonmembers who technically aren't investigators yet (we're working on it). One of the investigator we've only met with once - he's a young ex-marine named Mark. He's super cool, respectful, commitable, positive, and confident. He's kept his reading and praying assignments, and loved church. We're really excited about him and his potential to progress. We also had Brian to church - a member referral from a sister in the ward. He's committed to baptism, but we haven't set the date yet because he balks whenever we bring it up - he doesn't think he can be ready anytime soon. We're working on helping him change that view. Bro. Schroth came out as well. He's been married for a long time to an active sister in the church, and even sent a son on a mission. We've recently started working with him - his heart has been softened a lot in the last year since one of his sons passed away. It's kind of tricky teaching him because he doesn't usually open up to us and express the feelings of his heart openly when his wife is around - I guess he doesn't want her to get too excited about him being baptized. On the plus side, the stake president is their home teacher and has a really good relationship with them. We've got a lot going for us here, and we are confident that he's going to be making some great strides in the right direction. A couple weeks ago, when I met him for the first time, we were prompted to skip right over baptism and ask him if he saw himself being sealed to his family in the temple. After a long pause of introspection and soul-searching, he said "yes, yes I do. And I think I'm a lot closer now than I ever have been before." We were understandably overjoyed.

Elder Farmer spoke in sacrament meeting yesterday. Do you remember President Uchtdorf's talk about things that matter most when he said "At this point you may be wondering, that's all well and good, Pres. Uchtdorf, but what does that have to do with flying an airplane?" Well, my joke with Elder Farmer is to say, "That's all well and good, Elder Farmer, but what does that have to do with Alaska?" It's hard for him to teach a lesson or speak at a meeting without referencing crab fishing in one way or another.

Thanks a lot for all you do for me and have done for me. I really appreciate having had a positive and supportive upbringing, and I especially am grateful that our family has high standards and expectations of us. I see so many people out here who have little or no drive, and I think one part of the issue is that parents don't require excellence and effort of their children. Thanks for expecting all of us children to excel.

Well, I love you all and keep you in my prayers. I sure am grateful to be in yours.

LoveYMNB, Elder Matthew Smith.

(look at that - I got 2 lymnbs in one day! I'm so winning!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Email 1/24/11

Hello Family!

We've been having a great, busy week, with lots of finding and teaching opportunities with less-active members and their nonmember friends. I'm always surprised at how much more eager less-active members are to give us referrals than the active members. We've been bringing a couple less-active members back as well. What with this area not being really worked for the better part of last year, there has been a lot of potential that we've been able to capitalize on.

I don't think they can really count it as a klondike if they used a big fat wall tent with heaters - that's taking all the fun out of it! Why not take tiny tent and a little 0 degree sleeping bag into a blizzard and dump a 2-liter bottle of water all over it before going to bed in negative 20 degree temperatures? (remember that elk hunting trip, dad?)Get the whole experience! :

Way to plug through and pull out the 4.0, Delaney! I'm really impressed with how well you're handling such a tough class load - well done! I'm glad you're so good at Spanish, too!

Sounds like all the birthday excitement was fun - I'll bet dad is excited to use the bow, blind, and pants - maybe he could use them all at the same time - you'd just have to go on an archery hunting date!

I didn't talk to elder fronk, but the report showed robby, esther, and yazmeyne all came to church and are still set to be baptized in february.

We drive a brand spankin' new 2011 Chevy Colorado

Elder Matthew Smith

Letter from President Sorensen

13 January 2011

Dear Brother and Sister Smith;

I would like to inform you that your son, Elder Matthew Kay Smith has been called to serve as Assistant to the President of the Ohio Cleveland Mission effective 28 December 2010.

He is an outstanding Elder and has served faithfully and diligently in every calling he has had. He excels in gaining love and acceptance from investigators and his baptizing record is outstanding. You should be very proud of this great young man. He is truly a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am looking forward to working more closely with Elder Smith as we serve the missionaries and the Lord here in the Ohio Cleveland Mission. Thank you for raising and preparing this fine, faithful, and devoted servant of the Lord, and for sharing him with us.

Please continue to support him in his work with your prayers and letters. We pray the Lord's choicest blessings will be with you and your family.


Darwin D. Sorensen
Ohio Cleveland Mission President

Monday, January 17, 2011

Email from 1/16/11

Hello my dear family!

Since it's MLK day most missionaries aren't going to be able to email today since libraries will be closed, but we get to come to the office!

I'm glad to hear of all the excitement from home. Happy Birthday, Cody! That's about the coolest birthday present I could think of to have your swan mounted. I'm pretty jealous. It's pretty amazing that you and dad are Iron Men, too.

I'm really excited that the Haimin boys are making some progress in coming back - I love seeing families united through becoming active in the church - it makes me so happy. We had a less-active family come out to church this week as a result of our efforts and we were super excited.

I'm sorry I just haven't found time to see a medical examiner yet. We are just always traveling or preparing for meetings with missionaries or exchanging with problematic companionships (or good ones) or busy with something else. We hardly have time to work our area. I've yet to take a lunch break or a full P-day as an assistant. I will try really hard to make time to see one, though. Is there any deadline that I need to keep in mind?

Per your question, yes the ward kind of did realize that they were getting the shaft with the elders working two areas, but they weren't sore about it. They are just really excited to finally have their own missionaries now.

As for Robbie and Esther, I know they came to church last week but not this week. I haven't talked to Elder Fronk recently (Cleveland zone belongs to elder Farmer), but I'll be seeing him today and I'll ask about them.

Well, I've got to be going - Thanks so much for your support (and for your patience when my emails are short!)

Love You MNB!

Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, January 10, 2011

Email from 1/10/11


It's a bright, beautiful, sunny day here in Cleveland!

Sorry for the shake-up of emailing on Sunday last week! That shouldn't happen too often. Per your question from last week, you can continue sending mail to the mission office while I am serving here - 2070 w. 117th st. Cleveland, OH 44111.

I have to say that I am pretty well impressed with dad and cody doing an Iron Man! That's a whole lot of dedication! How long is it going to take them to complete it? Are they going to do all of it together?

I'm sad to hear about Grandma Smith's health difficulties. I have a lot of faith in the family being more than supportive in helping her in whatever she needs, though. I'm really grateful to have such an amazing family that looks out for each other and loves each other so much.

It's so much cooler to hear about people getting their mission calls when you're on a mission. Congrtulations to Sis. Clawson! Does she speak Spanish? Is she planning on studying it now or just picking it up in the MTC? May sure is quite the wait, isn't it?

The work is going slowly but well. We have a couple leads for people to teach now, and are making some inroads to get into the homes of some less-active members as well. Elder Farmer and I are basically opening up a new area since when the APs covered Lakewood and N. Olmsted wards almost all of their work was done in Lakewood. That's good for Elder Jensen's new missionary, though - he should have several baptisms this transfer.

It was REALLY WEIRD taking the departures to the airport to go home. I makes me really sad to think that someday I'm going to be the one saying goodbye to President & Sister Sorensen instead of them. I was glad for the opportunity to go to Kirtland with the new arrivals, though. Karl Anderson gave us a tour of the Kirtland temple, as always. Elder and Sister Butterfield (Karen Brito's aunt) were there, as well. It might very well have been their last tour of the temple before they go home.

Way to go on your walking, Mom! How long before you've completed the Iron Man? At 3 miles a day you'd finish a marathon in a week or two - maybe you and Sis. Brito should take up biking and swimming.

So just in case anybody is wondering, missions are pretty much the best thing ever. We were just talking to President Sorensen about how much your misson is totally not a sacrifice at all. I'm really grateful to have recieved the gospel early in my life so that I get to have the opportunity of sharing it with others with all the strength of youth. I can't believe how much my mission has improved me - I never understood at all before what it meant to be purpose-driven. I'm so excited for Cody to go on a mission (and maybe Delaney or Peyton, too, if they can beat all the boys away from them for that long). Have the two of you ever thought about serving a couples mission later in your lives?

Well, it's 5:00, P-day ends at 6:00, and we definitely haven't been able to do any Preparation what with all our AP duties, so LYMNB!

Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, January 3, 2011

North Olmsted is the place to be in 2011‏

Hello Family!!! Happy 2011!!!

Well, I'm having some good times and long days serving with my new companions, Elders Farmer and Jensen. As it turns out, I will actually be serving with Elder Farmer for the next transfer. Elder Jensen will be serving in the next ward over from us. You may remember reading about Elder Farmer from my emails 17 months or so ago - he was in my MTC district and I also served around him in Toledo for a while. I'm really excited to serve with him - he's a great missionary and a great friend.

So we just had departure meeting a couple hours ago - where the departing missionaries have dinner at the mission home and then have a testimony meeting and interview with President Sorensen. It caused me to reflect on my mission so far and think forward (in a totally non-trunky way) to the end of my mission. I don't envy those missionaries who have to go home now, but I am pretty excited to return and report to the Lord in the School of the Prophets about my mission, and to have my departure interview with President. I have no doubt that those will be incredibly motivating and spiritual experiences. Tomorrow we will drive them to the airport to see them off, then head back to the mission home for trainers' meeting. Tuesday we'll pick up the new arrivals from the airport and spend the day with them going to Kirtland, having interviews, practicing missionary work with them, etc. Then Wednesday we'll have transfer meeting.

Elder Farmer and I are really excited to get to work the North Olmsted ward. Up 'til now, the APs have been covering two wards: Lakewood and N. Olmsted. Now the areas are getting split to have one companionship per ward. The members in the N. Olmsted ward are really excited to have a set of missionaries dedicated to their ward - N. Olmsted was kind of getting the shaft - most of their work was done in Lakewood. That kind of leaves us with a dead area to resurrect, but we're OK with that - we'll get it going again.

So it's a lot of fun to be an AP! There are lots of perks, like hanging around with President Sorensen a lot, going to cool things like departures, arrivals, trainers meeting, and transfer meeting, seeing how the mission really works, and of course, having a mug with "AP Smith" written on it.

There are also some antiperks - like having a lot of extra responsibilities that keep us up all night. I don't think I've got to bed on time once since I got transferred, and we've also had to get up earlier than usual for different reasons. We also have to deal with all the stupid stuff that goes on in the mission - like disobedience, laziness, or open rebellion. I never knew before just how much disobedience went on amongst missionaries. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for teaching me the more excellent way and how to work hard. Apparently some of the missionaries out here never learned that skill. Also we don't have as much time to work in our area as other missionaries do because of having extra responsibilities.

Being an assistant has definitely opened my eyes to how things really work in the mission. Thursday we got to join with President Sorensen in figuring out where everybody is going to go at transfers. We would discuss each missionary and who they would work well with, study it out in our minds, and make decisions based on our foreknowledge and the promptings of the Spirit. It was an intensely spiritual process - probably one of the coolest 7 hour meetings I've ever gone to. Sometimes we would think we had something figured out, but then the Spirit would say otherwise, despite what we thought. However, once we followed His guidance and made the right changes, we definitely received confirmation that we had made the right choice. In discussing who should go where, I never really understood before how much disruption one disobedient missionary caused to the rest of the mission. We had to think long and hard about several of the missionaries to make sure that they had a companion who was strong enough to help and not be 'ruined' by the missionary's disobedience or laziness. We ended up having to assign a lot of the good elders as 'babysitters' for the bad elders.

Anyways, I'm not sure if I'll be able to email again this week or not, what with having things to arrange for transfers. If you send an email I'll probably recieve it, though. We end up having to come into the office a lot. I may end up emailing on sunday nights a few more times as well, just for a heads-up.

Mom & Dad, I can't express enough my gratitude for the immense blessing of being raised in a righteous home and having your support in all my righteous endeavors. So many children and young adults we come in contact with out here are so bright and good, but are held back from their full potential by home and family circumstances that could be improved and resolved through the faithful application of gospel principles in the home. You are truly the best parents I could have picked, and I have more love and respect for you than anyone else in the world. Thank you for giving me, by the consistent righteous choices you've made and example you've been, the life I enjoy today.

Delaney, Cody, and Peyton, I love you too. You're great and I admire your faithfulness and devotion to Christlike living. I pray for you specifically and daily (you too, Mom & Dad) and have complete confidence that you are appreciating and taking advantage of all the blessings that come to you from living in a home led by the Christlike examples of perfect parents.

Elder Matthew Smith