Friday, October 2, 2009

September 28th 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

Can you believe it is almost October already?! This month has gone by so fast! Transfers are next week on Wednesday, so I find out on Sunday night if I'll stay in my area or not. I will probably go to a new area :( but I'll be happy with whatever happens. One thing that Preach My Gospel tells us it to do everything we can to leave our area stronger than we found it, so I can truthfully and happily say I've done that.

Today we had a p-day activity with all the sisters on the island except the Visitors' Center sisters. It was a lot of fun to take a break from the Elders. We hiked Diamond Head Crater, had breakfast at our mission president's house, and played some games. I'll send some pictures in another email for you to see.

Other than that, things are the same as usual for a missionary in Hawaii. It's been getting really HOT lately and we've been seeing more giant centipedes and little scorpians than usual. Luckily, I've inherited Mom's hardcore ability to kill and get rid of the little buggers without freaking out, so that comes in handy :)

We recently saw one of our recent converts who works on LOST. They started production again for the LAST season and he said he'd get me some cool souvenir from the set. He also said that he could probably get an autograph from the girl who had a baby on the island and then died--meaning she's probably not dead afterall. I probably should've said "spoiler alert!!" for Audrey and Dad, haha, but I wanted to leak some news just because I can.

Anyway, I have to go. But I love this church, I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and I love my family and the knowledge that we will be a family in the life to come.

Love,
Sister Smith

September 21st 2009

Dear Family,

Last week was another great week! We had a baptism. It was AMAZING. Everyone who participated in the baptism program were in priesthood quorums (even the chorister!) and a lot of ward members came out to support him. My companion and I felt very accomplished.

The few weeks before his baptism, I was a little worried because his conversion process was so QUICK—would the ward fellowship him enough to ensure that he continued to come to church and use his priesthood? I was reading in the end of 3rd Nephi when the Savior quotes Isaiah, and I was so confused about what he was talking about and I did some cross referencing. I still don't know if I understand what that reference was about, but I came across a scripture in D&C about “the Lord's vineyard.” It says, “44. A certain nobleman had a spot of land, very choice; and he said unto his servants: Go ye unto my vineyard, even upon this very choice piece of land, and plant twelve olive-trees; 45. And set watchmen round about them, and build a tower, that one may overlook the land round about, to be a watchman upon the tower, that mine olive-trees may not be broken down when the enemy shall come to spoil and take upon themselves the fruit of my vineyard.”

The servants started to build the tower, but became lazy and decided not to do it. Then, “53. And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive-trees. 54. Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! what is the cause of this great evil? 55. Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and—after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof—built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?”

I don't know what the original purpose of this scripture is, but to me, the servants are missionaries and the watchmen are ward members (home teachers, quorum presidencies, etc.) As missionaries, we NEED to make sure that there are watchmen to look out for our converts because we can't be there for them forever. If we don't build the towers and make sure the watchmen are there, our works will be destroyed. So Sister Stevenson and I did everything in our power to make sure there were numerous watchmen for Robert, and for the time being, it seems that we have done our job. I'm practically overflowing with joy.

Also, on Sunday we had a little miracle. We were greeting people at the front doors when a lady we had never seen before asked us if visitors were welcome in our church. We said “Yes!!” and took her inside and explained our church services to her. She said she was looking for a new church, and drove by and saw people coming inside our chapel and wanted to check it out. During sacrament meeting, she told me she wanted to learn more about the church. She said, “I don't know why, but when everyone was singing tears started to come out of my eyes.” She came to all three meetings and loved it. She's coming back next week and we'll start teaching her the lessons. I felt like I was on a spiritual high the rest of the day.


Finally, I wanted to share my exciting scripture reading from this week. I just started reading the book of Ether and it is now my favorite book in the Book of Mormon. I love the way Moroni writes. I wish he could've had more time and room to write more! The events surrounding the brother of Jared were intense, and Moroni contains them in such few words, making them very powerful. From my reading today, I found some new favorite scripture verses:
(Chapter 3) 19. And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. 20. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.

(Chapter 6) After they had built the barges that were “tight like unto a dish,” they sailed for 344 days with fierce winds and terrible tempests, being submerged under the water for much of the journey. If they didn't build the barges in the manner taught by the Lord, there's no way they could've survived. My favorite verse in this chapter is:
8 And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.

I like this because if we live our lives in the manner taught by the Lord, we'll be able to survive the winds and trials in our lives—and it will never cease to “blow towards the promised land,” or bring us closer to our eternal goal.


Well, my time is about up. Sorry this is such a long email, but it was a week filled with spiritual enlightenment. I can't keep it to myself—I've never been this excited about the scriptures or the gospel before in my LIFE! It's a good feeling. :)

I love you all and miss you and miss getting letters from you *cough* *cough*

Love,
Bridget

September 14th 2009

Hi All,

It has been another good week with a lot of success. We have a baptism this Saturday and I'm looking forward to it. The baptism program is pretty much being done by the Priesthood holders in the ward, so it could be kind of interesting (haha) but ward members are usually better fellowshippers when they participate in the baptism, so we're hoping that'll be the case here. After church yesterday, our investigator came out of class practically glowing. Everyone was congratulating him on the baptism and he seemed to feel very welcome in the ward and happy with his decision to be baptized. He was kind of nervous when we first extended the baptism invitation with a goal date, but he took a leap of faith and said yes, and he says he feels very good about it now. He said he was grateful that we would come over and bug him all the time because he needed it, and because of us he's been able to change and be the kind of father he wants to be. It's an AMAZING feeling.

On Saturday we did exchanges with the new sister trainers. One is Sister Gardner, who was the Sister trainer at the Visitors' Center when I was there. This is her last transfer. The other is Sister Faivakimoan. I went to their area with Sister Faivakimoana and Sister Stevenson stayed with Sister Gardner. Sister Faivakimoana is from New Zealand and was a blast to serve with. Her area is mostly military, so it was very different from what I'm used to, but I enjoyed it. It's kind of fun to do exchanges every once in a while to just do something different and learn in different ways.

That's pretty much the news for this week. The transfer is already halfway over and I'm almost at my 6 month mark on my mission. Crazy!! That's 1/3 of the way through!

I love you all and miss you. Please keep writing!

Love,
Bridget

September 7th 2009






Aloha,

How are things in Utah? I'm definitely happy about missing the winter months there, but I'll be a little sad to not have a good Utah fall in the next few months. At least I'll only be gone for one Halloween!!

Things are going good right now. We have another baptism on the 19th. We were going to have it on the 12th, but things moved so fast that we don't have enough time to plan everything for the baptism. He is actually friends and coworkers with our last convert. He wanted a good foundation for his daughters to grow up in, and knew that he needed religion in his life. A good friend from work shared a little about the gospel with him. He doesn't remember much about the doctrine when we teach him, but he notices the good feelings when we teach and the changes that are brought up in him when he prays and reads the scriptures. He has 2 daughters, one is 8 and the other is 10, and they love learning more and coming to church. They'll probably be baptized soon. It feels good to see someone really change from the gospel. We're trying to get really good fellowshippers in the ward to make sure he has support to keep him strong. We're teaching some other good people as well. It's exciting to see them progress!

We went to the zoo last p-day. Our whole zone was there, and when we go out in public we have to wear our proselyting clothes unless the activity prohibits it, like hiking. So as we were walking around the zoo, people were looking at the Elders as if they were some sort of crazy exhibit as well. It was pretty funny when Sister Stevenson and I walked in and immediately spotted about 14 boys all in white shirts, ties, and slacks at the zoo. Unfortunately since today is Labor Day, we couldn't go to the library to check our email. Right now we're at the Apple Store in the mall using their sample computers....so I don't know how much longer we can stay...

Anyway, I love ALL of you and miss you tons. But I also love serving the Lord and have seen many miracles as His servant.

Love,
Bridget

August 17th 2009



Hi All,

We had a baptism that went really well. The Spirit was so strong and a lot of people came out to support him. It was so fulfilling to see someone that I taught get baptized, especially after learning that he might not be able to for 2 years!! A few days after his baptism, he even came with us to a lesson with an investigator as the fellowshipper. He was the most golden investigator a missionary could ask for.

I've also included a picture of a super cool lizard we found. We saw it on the sidewalk after the big rainstorm that was a result of the Tropical Storm that was supposed to come through Hawaii. We were tracting and thought the lizard was fake. Sister Matthew picked it up and we realized it was REAL and likely not alive... Being the weirdos that we are, we took it home to take pictures of it. Haha but you have to admit it looks cool.

On Thursday, Elder Kikuchi came and spoke to us for the all-Oahu Zone Conference. He talked about the importance of keeping the morning schedule and making sure that our study time isn't just studying, but our own “Sacred Grove” time. He kind of talked about this in his Ensign article this month (http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=8bbe15e67b5b2210VgnVCM100000176f620a). He talked about the importance of obedience with exactness, faith, prayer, and diligence. Our mission's goal is to have 100 baptisms this month, and he said, “You can do it, you can get 110 baptisms. But remember, it's not about the numbers, it's about the FAITH.” Faith can truly bring miracles to pass. We just need to strengthen our faith enough to see that happen. And the BEST way to strengthen one's faith is through diligence and obedience. It was a good, motivational meeting and helped me to gain my focus back.

I have one more story to share that really stands out to me from last week. A couple days ago we were doing what we call “Windows to Heaven”. During our nightly plan, we choose somewhere we want to go to talk to people (usually by tracting, but it can be street contact or other things). We set a time when we will be there and pray to Heavenly Father (about 8 times in one day) that those who are prepared to hear the gospel will be home at that time. Most of the people we are teaching right now were found during Windows to Heaven, so I know it works! But this day, we went to a street that REALLY stood out to me during planning, so I was sure it was going to be a jackpot. We didn't end up finding anyone to teach, but there was one person that I'll never forget, and I think he was the reason we needed to go there. He started out really nice. He knew that we were from the LDS church and said he knew a lot of Mormons that were really good people. Then he started going on about some website that 2 ex-Mormons made. Supposedly they are archaeologists and were trying to prove the Book of Mormon is true, but instead couldn't find any archaeological evidence that the Lamanites and Nephites existed. We've run into some pretty rude anti-Mormons before, but they never really bothered me. There was something about this guy that I couldn't shake. He continued that he believe in the Jesus Christ of the New Testament ONLY, and not “ours”. He spent a lot of time trying to tell us that the Bible is the most historically accurate book ever and that the Book of Mormon is false. Something inside of me couldn't keep quiet anymore, but it wasn't the opinionated and bossy Bridget trying to get out. I knew it was something else. So I asked him if he based his faith on physical evidence. He said no, that he had a spiritual experience where he truly came to know the Savior. Then he continued to talk about how the Book of Mormon isn't true. So I asked him if he had ever read it, and he said no. He started to say something else but kind of faltered in his words so I “opened my mouth and it was filled”

I said, “Well I have read this book and I KNOW it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost. I have prayed about it and I received a Spiritual witness that it is true.” He tried to say something about Joseph Smith, but before he could, I said, “Do you know who Joseph Smith is? He's my great great great grand-Uncle, and he is REAL. He was a man of GOD and I know this by the Holy Ghost.” He said, “Well have you ever been to this website? (giving the web address).” I said, “No. Because I don't need men to try to convince me that what God has told me isn't true.” We started to walk away and he shouted “well good luck at the judgment!”

My eyes were tearing up, but I couldn't help but smile at that comment because I knew that I had spoken the truth. I felt like Joseph Smith when he said, “I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it;” I know that Joseph Smith was called of God and I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and I know that this church is the only complete, full, and true church of God. I know it. And I know that God knows it. And I cannot deny it, neither dare I do so.

I don't know if I had an impact on this man or not, but this event strengthened my testimony a LOT. And I know that we were led to this man, by God, for a reason unknown to me. I don't know if this man will ever change, but I hope he knows that I am looking forward to the judgment day :)


I love you all and miss you!

Love,
Beejoso

August 31st 2009



Dear Family,

Things are going well. It is good to be back in a companionship with 2 people, I think we work a little more effectively that way. I especially love Sister Stevenson as my companion. She is the one from Japan. We get along SO WELL and work in nearly perfect unity. We told our mission president that we truly have a zion companionship.

I've attached 2 pictures. One is from our hike to Kuliouou Ridge. One of the Elders gave it to me and I thought it was pretty rad and thought you guys would enjoy it. The other is a picture of one of the most random street signs I think I've ever seen. We drove past it and I thought my eyes had played a trick on me—a teeter totter street sign?! But I think it means there is a park nearby. Although there is no teeter totter in the park. Hmm... Anyway, I thought it was funny and hoped that you would too.

Papa sent me an email that made me laugh. He said the last picture I sent indicates that there are some interesting people in my mission. Isn't that the truth!! I guess that's what you expect when a bunch of 19-21 year boys get together. Some of them baffle me. But there are a LOT of excellent Elders as well. Our zone leaders are great examples of good missionaries (while still being REAL people). The other day we had them come to an investigator's home to give her a blessing. It was such a neat blessing and the Spirit of the Lord was so abundant. It was evident that those young men truly have the power of God.

Lately, we've been seeing a lot of success..or the beginning of it. My first transfer was frustrating because we couldn't find anyone to teach. The next transfer was good because we found a LOT of people, but many of them were kind of flaky and not very sincere. It was hard because the scriptures tell us that there are so many people out there who are READY. “The field is white already to harvest”! Those are the people I wanted to find and was having a hard time. But the scriptures also tell us that we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith. I think I've finally endured that trial because I feel like we've just hit a gold mine! We've started teaching so many solid people in the past 2 weeks, most of them came as a result of our efforts in the beginning of last transfer. These are the people that are prepared by the Lord, that are pretty much ready, they just need us to kind of lead the way. It's such a good feeling.

I'm out of time, but I'll send some pictures from our P-day activity next week (the zoo!).

Love,
Sister Smith

August 24th 2009


Dear Friends and Family,

I've attached a photo from our zone conference/mission tour with our mission president and Elder Kikuchi.

Transfers are this Wednesday and we just got transfer news last night. Both Sister Stevenson and I will be staying here, and Sister Matthew will go home (now that her mini-mission is over) and finish up her papers so she can go on a full-time mission. I'm really happy with the news because we're starting to see a lot of potential in this area and I'd love to see more success. I'm starting to connect with a lot of our investigators and am definitely not ready to leave! I'm also very happy to stay with Sister Stevenson as my companion because we get along really well.

Some good news is that we have another investigator with a baptismal date! He's really solid so we're hoping that Satan's forces won't be able to overpower him and he can be baptized on September 12! If all goes well, we might have more than one baptism for this coming transfer!

Yesterday in church, a member came up to us after sacrament meeting and said, "A girl just walked in all alone, so we invited her to sit with us. You might want to meet her." We went to meet her and found that she had kind of researched the church for a while and wanted to come and see what it was like. She stayed for all 3 meetings. She's originally from Japan, so Sister Stevenson was able to have a long conversation with her in Japanese. It's cool to see stuff like that happen.

So the other day we were eating dinner at a member's home and I was looking at some wedding invitations and thank you cards they had dispayed and all of a sudden I saw a picture of a family at a wedding with our cousin Barbara right in the middle! I talked to the ward member and she said the Troy (Barbara's husband) and his family lived in this ward for a looooong time. So someone will have to tell Troy that I'm serving in his home ward!

In other news, I'm already debating my return date. I'm supposed to go home September 9, 2010 but I can extend to October 21, 2010. I am torn. I can't decide what I want to do, so I could use your advice. I know it's a long ways away, but my mission president likes to know pretty far in advance...

Other than that, there isn't much else to report. It's been a good week and the last transfer went by really FAST!

I love you all and miss you and really really really really really wish my brothers would send me letters and/or emails :D

Love,
Sister Smith