Monday, July 25, 2011

See you next week...

Dear Family,

Happy pioneer day! That's pretty cool about the fireworks - now people won't have to go all the way out of the state to get them! Why did they decide to repeal the law when it's so hot and dry?
I tell you what, it has been HOT and HUMID recently - and we've been tracting a lot in it. We tracted 19 hours last week, which is not much compared to some missions, but it's more tracting than I've ever seen anyone report when I was a DL, ZL, or AP. Luckily everyone feels sorry for us when they see the sweat running in torrents down our faces, so they offer us drinks.

Yesterday we were tracting and were going to write down somebody's phone number at the doorstep, but realized that neither of us had a pen - good thing, because he invited us in out of the heat while he went to look for one. In his house were a bunch of football trophies, plaques, and pictures and stuff. Elder Barlow about went nuts - I guess this guy was a pretty good college player and his son is in the NFL and used to play for Ohio State - I think his son's name is Pittman, or something like that - maybe somebody back home knows who he is. Elder Barlow seemed to think he was a pretty big deal. Anyways, we got his number and a return appointment, so hopefully he gets baptized.

Our church was good as well. Bro. Horn was there, of course, and is all set to be baptized on Saturday at 5:00. He's well fellowshipped and already has a couple of friends in the ward. Sis. Coburn spoke about modern pioneers and had some really cool stories. We ate at the Coburns later that day - they're a really cool family; they've got a son on a mission in France, two return missionaries (one at home for the summer - going to BYU studying mandarin after his mission in Hong Kong and another living elsewhere), and a younger son who's pretty solid. I just love being in the homes of so many solid families. It's really cool to have so many examples of gospel-centered homes. (none as good as ours, but they all remind me of it)

They read a letter from Elder Coburn in sacrament meeting today - they regularly do that from the three missionaries serving in the ward. Anyways, Elder Coburn and his companion are teaching an olympic marathon runner from Cameroon - I can't remember what his time was, I think 2:20 or something...? Whatever it was, it was really fast. Cool, huh?

I'm glad grandma is doing at least a little better! Hopefully she continues to recover.

Youth conference should be great! I'm excited to hear what that is like. Yes, don't forget to hold on to the Iron Rod no matter WHAT Bishop Taylor says!

Okay, I will bring all my ties home. I've cut down a great deal on the number of ties I have, though, so hopefully it's enough. Does Delaney go to the singles' ward? I'm excited to hear "I Stand All Amazed".

That's great that Mekeli is going to Fiji. There is a Fijian brother in our ward here who goes out teaching with us pretty often and served his mission in Fiji and the Gilbert Islands. He loved it and had a lot of great things to say about the people there. I didn't know you could have guitar music in church - that's awesome! We sang "Come, Come, ye Saints" as a choir yesterday, but it would probably have been a lot cooler with guitar accompaniment.

Eric comes home pretty soon after me, right? I'm glad he's doing well. He probably deals with a LOT more heat and humidity than I do.

So, it's getting a little bit old that everybody here is asking how long I have left, how many days, if I am excited, what I'm going to do when I get home and stuff. I know they're just excited for me, but it's a little bit distracting.

Yes, Brother Horn is looking good for baptism. We haven't seen nor heard from Bro. Hall recently. We've got a couple investigators committed to baptismal dates - Raymond and Britney, but they didn't make it to church yesterday. They're pretty solid when we teach them, but in between not so much.

Thanks for sharing the letter from President Sorensen. That's nice.

Well, it's really weird to say this, but I'll see you next week.


Elder Matthew Smith

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Email from 7/18/11

Dear Family,

I'm glad to hear how great the week went, but sorry the hike didn't work out -I'm sure ice cream and golfing was a good backup plan, though.

"How Great Thou Art" was probably pretty incredible on violins - way to go. Is anybody doing a musical number when I come home? How often are you visiting the nursing homes? Yes-I think my talk went well-hopefully I sounded just like a missionary and you could just feel my enthusiasm. I did overhear the stake president lean over to the bishop and say "you've got some great missionaries here, don't you?" and the response, "yeah, he was an AP". Even better, one of the priests said he actually paid attention, so I guess it was probably good.

I'll bet Delaney will have a lot of fun teaching Katie violin - how often are her lessons going to be? Way to go on rocking your AP tests, also! Good choice getting AP Research into your schedule. Are you going to be able to graduate from high school with a college degree? You've probably got a lot of it out of the way by now...

Bro. Horn (as it turns out, there is no "E" on the end of his name) is still looking good to get baptized at the end of the month - he's making friends in the ward like crazy and is committed to getting baptized. Unless he's on probation or parole, it looks like that will probably work out. Bro. Hall has been really busy lately trying to become a foster parent, going to school online, and working on familial issues, so we haven't seen much of him recently. His baptism will need to be moved back.

I'm doing great over all, loving the area, the work, the investigators, the ward, the gospel, the food, the weather, Elder Barlow, and everything else about being a missionary.

Elder Matthew Smith

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

7/11/2011 email

Dear Family,

Counting down by weeks and weeks-and-a-half, huh? I hope YOU're not getting trunky! President Sorensen shared with me once that a certain missionary stopped reading his parents' letters when it was almost time for him to go home because "my family is just trunked out of their minds!". Don't worry - I think I'll keep reading your letters. (Note from Merrill: This paragraph was in response to the end of our email to him, in which we wrote: "Keep working hard and having faith to move mountains, or help Bro. Hall with the word of wisdom challenges, or find investigators, or help less active members return! Make these last 3 1/2 weeks the best of all!")

Good job on your swim meet, Cody - how did you like it?

We've made some good progress with investigators this week. Bro. Hall was unable to come to church, but we did have another investigator there - Bro. Horne. He is a member referral - his sister is in the ward. He is pretty cool and he accepted a baptismal date for July 30th. He definitely seemed at home at the church - I guess it helps that his sister is in the ward. It was his first time coming, though. He was making friends just fine and he even volunteered in Elders' Quorum to help a member of the ward paint their house, and to come to the ward service project in a few weeks! He seems like he will probably get baptized on the 30th, unless he has any Word of Wisdom issues; we didn't smell or see anything, but we haven't talked about it with him yet. That's the next lesson. Bro. Hall is doing well enough, too - he had some health hiccups relating to his diabetes this week and was pretty swamped with red tape since he and his wife are trying to become foster parents, and he's going to school online at the same time - all of which, put together, precluded him from meeting with us this week. He has been reading the Book of Mormon, though.

We found a couple other new investigators from tracting this week that are in the very beginning stages of investigation. We were really excited for yesterday to meet a member's neighbor who the member had set up an appointment for us with, but they no-showed. Too bad - Bro. Jones moved up a stake high council meeting, shortened a high priests group meeting, and pushed back high council Ward Mission Process visits with the Medina ward in order to make himself available to introduce us to his neighbor that he invited to meet with us.

I interviewed a girl yesterday for baptism that the Wadsworth elders (a neighboring area) have been teaching, and it was pretty ridiculous how prepared she was. Not only did this 12-yr-old have all the textbook (but still heartfelt) answers to the baptismal interview questions, but as we read Mosiah 18:8-10 together, she recognized the phrase "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places" as part of the Young Womens' Values! I'm not exactly sure why she wasn't baptized yet, since her family seemed to be pretty solid and active, and it was pretty obvious that she'd been through the whole primary program. Interestingly, we talked a couple weeks ago with a recently returned missionary from the Utah Ogden Mission, who was in town visiting a relative - he said that they would go through lists of unbaptized 9-yr olds given to them by the bishops of the wards in which they served and see if they could baptize them, which usually involved reactivating families - he said that he once visited a family with his companion for one of these situations and found that the family was entirely active (even in leadership positions in the ward) and had simply forgotten to baptize their child! I guess they were on an extended vacation right around her 8th birthday and never got around to it. Thanks for remembering to have me baptized.

Well, I need to go while I still have a little computer time so I can look up some information on for my talk in church this Sunday on the Gathering of Israel.

LoveYMNB, Elder Matthew Smith

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Letter from President Sorensen

05 Jul 2011

Brother and Sister Merrill Kay Smith
2978 W. 12130 S.
Riverton, UT 84065

Dear Brother and Sister Smith,

On 4 Aug 2011, your son, Elder Matthew Kay Smith, will complete his missionary labors in the Ohio Cleveland Mission. He has made a significant contribution to the work in the areas in which he has labored. I don't have adequate words to express my gratitude to him for the excellent work he has accomplished. We love him dearly, and we will miss him a lot. He has a fine reputation among the other missionaries and has demonstrated his ability to work well, even in difficult situations.

During his 24 months of service in the Ohio Cleveland Mission, Elder Smith has served in the areas of Barberton, North Olmsted, Lakewood, Sandusky, Perry, Southland, and Garfield Heights. He has served in the important positions of District Leader, Zone Leader, Trainer and Assistant to the President. This time of service can be a springboard for many wonderful achievements in the future.

The Ohio Cleveland Mission will miss Elder Smith and his dedication in doing the Lord's work. We thank you very much for sharing your son with us during this important time in his life. We appreciate the love and support which you have provided during his mission. We extend our best wishes to you, and pray the Lord will continue to bless your family.

Darwin D. Sorensen
Ohio Cleveland Mission President

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Email from 7/5/11

Hello Family (also from a hot and sunny Ohio)

Apologies in advance for a short email since we have to squeeze in time on a non P-day and we're at a different library than usual that doesn't give as much computer time.
I'm glad the party went so well, and that Grandma was able to enjoy it free from dolorous distractions!

Testimony meeting in our ward was great as well - the Bishop specifically invited those who hadn't shared their testimonies in a while to come up and a lot of them did. I didn't qualify, but I figured I couldn't pass up the opportunity since this was my last fast sunday as a full-time missionary. I love singing the patriotic songs in sacrament meeting, too.

(we wrote:) "Mom has had her internet phone since October. We all have texting plans now. Delaney sends thousands per month, and the rest of us are in the low hundreds."

(Matt wrote:) mind-blowing

Elder Barlow got a package (it was his hump day last week) and in it was a letter from his mom saying that mom had emailed her. cool!

We found a new investigator this week who is pretty cool: his name is Bro. Hall. Elder Yukish and I originally contacted him a couple weeks ago tracting and we just got to teach him for the first time this week. He's really cool and open and he's accepted a baptismal date for the 30th of July. His main hurdle will be quitting smoking, but he mentioned to Elder Yukish and I when we originally found him that he was trying to stop smoking and drinking coffee already. He came to sacrament meeting on Sunday and had a good time. We're going to teach him later today, as well, and hopefully set some goals with him pertaining to the Word of Wisdom.

Elder Matthew Smith