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!)