Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Little Lapse.. But Please Read On

Hi Bridget Blog readers,

This is Bridget's sister and I've been slacking the past month in posting Bridget's letters. I had a baby so life has been a little chaotic. The following 5 post have recently been updated so enjoy.


A Day in the Life of a Missionary

I've had some friends ask me to describe what a missionary life is like. We have to wake up by 6:30 every morning, but here in Hawaii everyone wakes up earlier because birds start chirping around 5:30 and they're super loud.

We exercise for a half hour and then shower, eat breakfast, etc. At 8:00am we start our personal study and 9:00 am is companionship study. I NEVER studied my scriptures before the mission unless it was for a class at school. Now that I have the chance to do it everyday, I realize how much I was missing out on. The scriptures have so much knowledge and cool teachings in them. The more I study from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, the more I know that this church is true. If this isn't the true church, then nothing in the scriptures could be true. It's neat to discover this for myself.

After studying, we start proselyting. Sometimes we'll have teaching appointments. We spend about an hour a day - sometimes more, sometimes less - knocking on doors. We have a list of "potential investigators" in our area book. These people have mostly been contacted by previous missionaries in the area by tracting or meeting them on the street. No progress was made (they never were contacted again, couldn't get in touch with them, etc) so they're recorded for future missionaries to try and teach them. They're all people who've shown interest. So each day we try to contact potential investigators and set up appointments with them. We also visit recent converts and less-active members to help strengthen their membership in the church. Wherever we go and whoever we talk to, we always ask for referrals.

Every night we have dinner with ward member. Everything is SO EXPENSIVE out here, so we can barley afford to pay for lunch, breakfast and our toiletries. The members always feed us and we teach them a shore lesson.

Every night we plan the next day's schedule. Every half hour from 7am to 9pm is planned and we have "back-up" plans too, so that we're ALWAYS busy with the Lords work. We need to be in bed by 10:30pm.

I've discovered that the most important tool in missionary work is the members. They come with us to lessons, because it's much more powerful to have a member testify then just the missionaries. They fellowship-which is super important. And finally (my favorite), they give us referrals. It is SO MUCH EASIER to find people to teach through ward members. And it's easier to get them to come to sacrament and keep commitments. But members don't give us referrals very often - mostly for 3 reasons:
1. They don't know anyone that might be interested.
2. They're afraid to talk about their religion with friends, family, and co-workers because it might affect their relationship.
3. They think their friends "aren't ready for missionaries yet."

These are all horrible excuses.. never use them. You can find someone, you can invite them to learn more without changing the relationship. Nobody is "not ready" for the missionaries. We don't have "qualifications" that investigators need to meet before they can be taught. Heavenly Father wants them to hear this message and has prepared His missionaries to help all kinds of people to feel the spirit, learn truth, and obey his commandments.

Since I've been a missionary, I've learned that missionaries are truly called of God and have divine power and authority to accomplish His work. People trust our abilities more because everything we do comes through God. It's awesome to see and feel that power manifest itself.

And there you have it, a day in the life of this missionary.

August 10th 2009

We have a baptism is today!! I'm so excited!! It's going to be a really great service.

Other than that, nothing out of the ordinary has gone on lately. There is a tropical storm headed our way, but it shouldn't be too bad. We have 72 hour kits ready if we need them, a lot of food, and a lot of members calling us to make sure we'll be okay and offering help if we need it. The only likely concern is that the power will go out, but we're prepared for that!

This Thursday is our "Mission Tour" meeting. All the missionaries on the island, except those serving in Laie, will meet together and listen to Elder Kikuchi of the Seventy speak to us. He used to be a mission president here in Hawaii. It'll be neat but I heard he speaks for about 4 hours at a time so hopefully my usual missionary tired-ness won't catch up to me..

Lately I've been studying more about the Spirit World, Resurrection, Judgment, and our eternal destinations. It's interesting how deep some of the doctrine gets, but how true it is. The Bible talks about every stage of the Plan of Salvation, but it only gives bits and pieces. If I didn't know the Plan of Salvation, I would have absolutely no idea what these scriptures would be talking about. But because we have the Book of Mormon, everything makes so much more sense. The best part is that it's TRUE!

Anyway, I have to run, but I love you all and miss you! Write back soon!


August 3rd 2009

It's the beginning of a new week and this transfer is already halfway over! I will have my first baptism in a week from today and I'm definitely looking forward to it. I'll send pictures of that in 2 weeks from today. We've been pretty consistent in finding new investigators—we've found at LEAST 2 new investigators each week since this transfer started. It's good to see some real progress. In the MTC we were taught to ALWAYS leave our areas stronger than we found them, and I feel like I've been doing that. It's fulfilling to see my hard work pay off. But still, I know there's a lot more I can do.

We have quite a few investigators right now, and some with a lot of potential for progress. We're also working with some less active members and are really seeing them change their hearts. Dad wrote me a letter a while ago that said there was nothing better on his mission than to see someone he was teaching get that spark in their eyes—to know they've gained a testimony. It's true. However, there's nothing more disappointing than to see someone not do anything about it. They know it's true but they don't care enough to take the next step—whether that's getting baptized or just going to church. But my mission president told me to NEVER let someone else's agency affect my happiness on my mission. So I'm going to try to do that.

Today for our P-day we hiked “Kuliouou Ridge.” (Pronounced koo-lee-oh-oh). It was a REAL hike. I haven't been on a real hike since this time last year when I took my geology field studies class. It was HARD but sooo nice! It felt so good to get real exercise. This trail was MUCH prettier than Diamond Head. It was extremely green and when we got to the top of the mountain we were in the clouds. I've included pictures so I hope you enjoy them :)

One thing that's been amazing as a missionary is to feel the influence of the Spirit constantly and to see its effects in people's lives so much. I think it was Elder Oaks that said we shouldn't talk about extraordinary spiritual experience too often in order to keep them sacred and recognize that such experiences are not common. We mostly feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in small ways. But as a missionary we are immersed in the gospel and everything about it, so we see these things more often. People trust us and are more willing to share such personal experiences with us. It's amazing. I know that miracles really do happen. Things that we thought only existed in the scriptures continue to manifest themselves today. I can't believe how many people don't believe in God or don't care enough to learn more about Him. This gospel is TRUE and it's not enough to just believe. We can feel the influence of it in our lives because we were smart enough to follow Christ's example and be baptized by one holding the Priesthood authority of God. “We know that it is by grace we are saved AFTER ALL WE CAN DO” (2 Nephi 25:23) I love all of you so much and don't ever want to see you straying from the path.

Well, time is up but I love you and miss you all.

Love, Sister Smith

July 27th 2009

Can you believe I've been a missionary for 4 months now?! Craziness, I know! Well, I am loving this transfer so far. I absolutely LOVE my companions. I feel like I can be my dorky self around them and they still love me (kind of like all of you!) We've been working hard this last week and have seen a lot of progress. We have quite a few new investigators, now we just have to work and work and work and pray to ensure that they will progress.

I'm starting to absolutely love the people here in Hawaii. People say I look like a local, so that makes me feel cool :) (All thanks to Mom's genes). 2 days ago I was talking to some ward members that said everyone who descends from Hyrum Smith is ultra talented. They were talking about a family they know where all the kids are pretty much geniuses and can play so many musical instruments and on and on. Haha I couldn't help but wonder if our family missed the boat on this. Maybe we are just full of exceeding awesomeness that we didn't need all those extra talents. I think Dad just got the last of it. Haha. But it's fun to talk to ward members here who are born and raised Hawaii locals. Before I came on my mission, people would always say "you're going to learn how to speak pigeon" and they were right. I guess you'll have to wait until Christmas to hear, but it's funny. They have a specific tone of voice when they ask questions, it makes me laugh. Instead of saying the number "three" they say "tree". They always say "kine" (meaning "kind"). An example would be, "yeah dat's da good kine". And one of our ward members always says "action" randomly. Kind of how todd and I say "face" at the end of the words all the time (e.g. dog-face). He always calls us "lady missionaries" too. If we're about to start a lesson he might say, "alright, let's hear some lady missionary kine action".

So in case you couldn't tell, this last week has not only been hard-working and successful, but it's been FUN! Being patient has its rewards. We've had a few minor annoyances though. We ran into a couple anti-mormon types and we taught a lesson to a member yesterday who found it necessary to ask dumb questions because "people are gonna ask you this stuff and you need to be prepared!" (please NEVER do that to a missionary. It's obnoxious and will not help in any way). In the moment, we always know what to say because the Holy Ghost guides us. We CAN answer the question/accusation if necessary, but usually the Spirit just says, "don't waste your time, there are people waiting to hear this message. Go find them!" My curse is that I am strong-willed and opinionated. I WANT to defend this church and the truth. I've had the same disagreements as most of these people and I've found the answers to settle my concerns, so I know exactly how to refute their arguments. But the biggest help for me has been 2 Timothy 2:23-24 "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient". It's important to truly represent the Lord and act as he would.

Papa wrote me an email that reminded me that it's important to stand up for the truth while being loving. Just like the Savior was charitable and loved all mankind, but he wouldn't back down in his beliefs and always defended and worked for truth. So I need to find that balance in defending the truth while being humble. While reading the Book of Mormon the other day, I saw a similar situation with Alma and Amulek. In Alma 10 it says, "Now it was those men who sought to destroy them, who were lawyers, who were hired or appointed by the people to administer the law at their times of trials, or at the trials of the crimes of the people before the judges.
15 Now these lawyers were learned in all the arts and cunning of the people; and this was to enable them that they might be skilful in their profession.
16 And it came to pass that they began to question Amulek, that thereby they might make him cross his words, or contradict the words which he should speak.
17 Now they knew not that Amulek could know of their designs. But it came to pass as they began to question him, he perceived their thoughts, and he said unto them: O ye wicked and perverse generation, ye lawyers and hypocrites, for ye are laying the foundations of the devil; for ye are laying traps and snares to catch the holy ones of God.
18 Ye are laying plans to pervert the ways of the righteous, and to bring down the wrath of God upon your heads, even to the utter destruction of this people.
19 Yea, well did Mosiah say, who was our last king, when he was about to deliver up the kingdom, having no one to confer it upon, causing that this people should be governed by their own voices—yea, well did he say that if the time should come that the voice of this people should choose iniquity, that is, if the time should come that this people should fall into transgression, they would be ripe for destruction."

Haha I want so badly to say that to people. Maybe someday the Spirit will lead me to that, but probably not. It gives comfort to know that people were just as hard-hearted and twisted in beliefs 2,000 years ago as they are now.

Well I'm getting kicked off the computer but I love you all and miss you! Send me letters!!

Sister Smith