Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

btw, the mailman just came into the office while we were sitting in staff meeting this morning and brought in your letter. I'll take care of it today.

Cool story: I was on exchanges with the Findlay zone leaders in their area this week and we taught a super solid guy - he's known a couple of LDS families throughout his life and always been very impressed by the ways they lived up to their high standards and stuck together as families. He's had questions, but never been invited to learn more (until this week he was invited to meet with us by his friend who got home from his mission a couple weeks ago). It was an amazing lesson - the Spirit was super strong and he wanted to learn. A couple quotations from that lesson:
"So, I'm not sure if you have to be born a member of the church, or can I join?"
"I'll be in this area until August - is that long enough to become a member"
(after teaching the apostasy): Yeah, I've definitely seen that in a lot of my churches I've gone to - everybody's got a different interpretation!
(after sharing Joseph Smith's experience): Whoa - Hold on - I don't want be rude and interrupt or anything, but I just have to say that that makes SO much sense! Where did the prophets go?

We invited him to be baptized on May 28th, and he accepted readily. He went to Kirtland the next day and had a great experience. The night after, he stayed up all night reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know the truth. He now knows. He is excited for baptism and would like to serve a mission as well.

Arches sounds exciting! what was the weather and temperature like? Way to go doing the 9 mile hike! that's impressive - how long did it take?

We had plenty of nonmembers at church yesterday, but no investigators (the Schroths were out of town). We're working on trying to get some of those nonmembers to become investigators, though. Easter is a great day for getting people to church. Sunday was probably the shortest and unorthodox sacrament meeting I've ever attended, though. It only lasted about 40 minutes and some of the pretty standard components of a sacrament meeting were missing - like the closing hymn, etc. (Due to a series of unfortunate and confusing events.)

Elder Matthew Smith

I emailed and said: We're all wondering what events happened to make sacrament meeting so interesting!

Matt replied:

no "amen" in the sacrament prayer

no closing hymn

no "in the name of Jesus Christ" in closing prayer

the bishopric left the stand when the choir got up to sing. The cantata was much shorter than expected. There was one speaker afterwards, and it didn't take too much time. After he got down, everyone kind of just looked around at eachother. The bishop had left the chapel to take care of one of his kids. So, the 1st counselor just pointed at the person assigned to give the closing prayer, and up he went. After that we all pretty much sat there in the chapel, because the other ward wasn't out of their sunday school classes yet

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Easter

Hello Family, Happy Easter

We've had a pretty fair week. We tracted a lot last week and this week we got to start teaching a couple of the people we found, including a couple that moved from California about a year ago and used to live right next door to a bishop there. They were really friendly in inviting us in, and excited to tell us about all the members of the church they knew back in California. We also got a referral from a less-active young woman in the ward who we've started to teach. It was pretty cool, the young woman, who hasn't been to church in years, invited her friend to come to sacrament meeting if she wasn't working on Sunday. The ward seems to be pretty excited about missionary work in general. The ward mission leader asked during the opening exercises of priesthood if anyone had a missionary experience they could share and three people wanted to talk about their experiences. After that, the bishop spoke from the pulpit on an experience he'd recentlyi had with sharing the gospel.

My birthday was great! Thank you everybody for the cards, packages, and letters! Yes, Mom, people knew it was my birthday. They actually announced it at a ward activity we attended on Friday. So how into golfing is Dad getting? He seems to be pretty serious about it now. Is he any good? Elder Hunt played on SUU's college golf team before his mission.

Good job beating some little girls, Cody. I knew you could do it. Tuck your chin to your chest when you dive in and your goggles won't fall off. Or just make them tighter.

We had a stake easter cantata yesterday, with all the ward choirs from the stake singing, as well as the stake choir and a couple solos, duets, and quartets. It was really beautiful. It was funny - we were eating at the Nelsons' house the day before and brother Nelson said he was singing a solo in our choir's song. He only had two words: "Crucify Him!". He said he wondered who picked him for that part.

Mothers' Day - the second most important holiday of the year! I'm excited, too.

Things are going pretty well with our investigators. Bro. Schroth is pretty much set on getting baptized now. He's even talked about how he wants to fly out a couple previous bishops from out west to see his baptism. He still hasn't decided on a specific date, but that seems to pretty much just be details now. We've got a couple new investigators in the beginning stages of investigation, so we'll see how they work out.

Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, April 11, 2011

Email from 4/11/11

Hello Family!

So, how good is Delaney at the violin, anyways? It sounds like she's pretty much a master violinist - I'm pretty excited to hear her play after all the hype she gets. Apparently she's a master scholar, too. Way to go on the 34! Peyton also plays the violin, right? (Note: Delaney received a "Maestro Award" for Outstanding Soloist at her Orchestra Festival in Seattle last weekend, and got a 34 on her ACT test)

Congratulations to Cody on surviving week two of swim practice - sorry you get beat by little girls all the time, though. That's always tough on your pride. I remember when little girls could beat me at swimming, too - it was frustrating. Don't worry - after a couple more weeks the little girls won't be able to beat you any more. Keep working on the six pack - I expect it to be rock solid by the time I get home.

With regards to the Hanny family, it was just the husband and wife that went through the temple a couple weeks ago. The children are in the UK, but they are active members of the church as well. Bro. Hanny recently made a trip back to England and had the sacrament passed to him by his grandson!

I haven't followed up too much about Robbie, Esther, and Yazmeyne since their confirmations, but I know Robbie spoke in Sacrament meeting a couple weeks ago.

Yes we did attend the commemoration of the temple dedication. It was amazing and inspiring - the holders of all the keys that were restored in the temple were present and spoke. It was really cool that the Community of Christ allowed the picture to be taken in the temple - that's a really rare occurence.

I think there are 159 young missionaries in the mission right now. It's hard to keep track - we just sent two more elders home this weeek and we're getting a Sister from Temple Square to serve in our mission for two transfers this week. The numbers are always changing.

Yes, I have seen the John Tanner story video - it's really touching and powerful.

The work is coming along pretty well - we've stopped teaching a couple of our invesigators, but the ones we are still teaching are pretty solid. We've had a lot of finding opportunities this week, and we anticipate starting to teach a couple of new investigators in the coming few days. Our next baptism isn't scheduled until June 24th, but we are hoping that Bro. Schroth will be ready pretty soon as well. We are having some success reactivating people as well, but we worry about how much effort we have to put into some of the families that we are teachng to help keep them active and wonder if they will keep coming if the focus is taken off of them.

No, I will not likely remain an AP for the rest of my mission. I anticipate that I will be released at the end of this transfer. So probably in 3 weeks or so we will be in a triple-up with the next assistant, who will be Elder Hunt's companion.

I tried to think of some cool "small things" experiences from this week, like you asked for. I thought back on what a great week this was, but nothing particular seemed very impressive. I kind of realized that the things that are really cool and impressive and powerful for me, probably wouldn't sound that interesting in an email. The type of things that happened this week are like "we were teaching and testifying to an investigator, and the Spirit bore witness of the truth!" - it doesn't sound that cool, but it is amazing to be there in the moment. I don't know if that made sense at all. Sorry if it didn't.

Elder Matthew Smith

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Conference

Dear Family,

What an amazing conference, eh? I especially liked the talk by Elder Maynes (I think) of the 70 who read the poem about sheep and lambs..."when the sheep are lost, what a terrible cost the lambs will have to pay.". It made me very grateful to have some good sheep for parents. There are plenty of families who I work with or have worked with to whom I wish I could get the message across how much they need the church and gospel in their lives not only for themselves, but for their children. In the most humble way I can (this sounds prideful), I just want to yell at them, "Don't you want your children to grow up and be like me and Elder Hunt!?!? They need the gospel!"

So President Sorensen's picture was on the church news website - last Sunday was the 175th anniversary of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, and there was a commemoration service where the holders of all the keys that were restored there spoke - President Sorensen, the temple president, and the stake president of Kirtland. The Community of Christ even let them take a picture inside of the temple!

Don't worry - the Kirtland Temple will never be a chore! I never go but what I learn something new and feel the Spirit testify of the sacred events that happened there. It's amazing to read the revelations right there where they were recieved in Joseph Smith's office on the temple's 3rd floor, or to read about the keys being restored while sitting only 10 yards from where the angels and the Savior stood. Maybe driving to and from the temple could be considered a chore, though.

So at transfers this week, somehow things got mixed up between us, the ZLs, the DL, and the missionaries, and one elder who wasn't supposed to be transferred showed up at transfer meeting, while his companion who was supposed to be transferred stayed back in his area. Imagine our perplexity. To make matters worse, it was all the way out in Wauseon - almost as far from Kirtland as you can get and still be in our mission. It made for a long day of driving to get everybody to where they were supposed to be - we were in the car from 1:00pm to 11:30pm driving people to their proper areas who had been part of the mix-up. At 11:30 we had everyone to their new areas (except for us - we stayed with the Canton elders for the night and drove back home in the morning.)

Good job taking care of business back home! Sounds like a hectic week for you as well. Way to go Cody for surviving the first week of swimming!

I think I would probably rather fly home than be picked up if that's alright. The work is going pretty well.

Do you remember me writing about the Hanny family back in July or August when I was in Perry? We were helping them become active in the church again. I got a letter from them this week to let me know that they had just been sealed together for time and all eternity in the Columbus temple! Interestingly, they were replying to a letter that I sent just after I was transferred, but that got lost in the mail and was delivered just a couple weeks ago.

We watched conference at the church building. Bro. Schroth came to the priesthood session, and we were very pleased to see a couple less-active members coming out to watch it also. Most people just watched the other sessions at home, though. Bro. Lewallen watched conference from home as well.

Wow, I Totally forgot that it's my birthday this month - thanks for the reminder! There's not much that I want or need - maybe some good-lookin' ties and some candy, I guess.

Love YMNB,
Elder Matthew Smith