Tuesday, January 5, 2010

December 31st 2009


Just to let you know, my new P-day is now Wednesday. I am checking my email today because I didn't have time to yesterday since I was in Honolulu all day. I went to the transfer meeting and a bunch of training meetings because I have a brand new companion! Fresh from the MTC! This is my first American companion and my first companion that can drive AND she graduated from Pleasant Grove the same year I did. BUT we didn't know each other. She's great though, I know this'll be a good transfer. This assignment reminds me of when I first got here, which doesn't feel that long ago. It's getting me re-excited about missionary work and being the BEST missionary I can be.

I went 2 days without a headache! Somehow though, I have PLENTY of my prescription medication. I have a feeling it will be okay. I think I'm going to ask my mission president for a blessing (We have our interviews with him for the transfer next Tuesday). Also, in the mission, January is "covenant month" and our mission president said we should make a promise with the Lord about something we will do to serve him better, and ask for something in return. So I am going to make a covenant to be a more diligent and obedient missionary (I'll make it more specific) and ask for my headaches to go away in return. I hope my faith has grown enough on my mission to make it work. I'll keep you updated when I feel the miracle :)

I was so excited to hear about Ronnie's wedding! It sounded beautiful and oh so fun! I wish I could've been there. I expect to see LOTS OF PICTURES, k? I got the wedding invitation from the mission office yesterday. I was so excited! I've been telling all the sisters, "guess what! My brother just got married!!" And they said, "I know you told me 5 times already..." Haha I'm just happy for my bro.

Something extra special that happened this week is I got a letter from 3 different friends who said that I have influenced them a lot by going on a mission and responding to their letters. It was very uplifting and unexpected. Elder Eyring gave a talk once called "Rise to your call" and said, "The Lord will magnify what you say and what you do in the eyes of the people you serve. He will send the Holy Ghost to manifest to them that what you spoke was true. What you say and do will carry hope and give direction to people far beyond your natural abilities and your own understanding. That miracle has been a mark of the Lord’s Church in every dispensation. It is so much a part of your call that you may begin to take it for granted...If I only think of my own performance, my sadness deepens. But when I remember that the Lord promised that His power would go with me, I begin to look for evidence of what He has done in the lives of the people I am to serve. I pray to see with spiritual eyes the effects of His power." I can see that to be true now.

Well, I am out of time, but I love you and miss you!


December 24th 2009


I'm so excited that I will talking to all of you on the phone tomorrow. Like I said before, I'll be calling around 11:20 Hawaii time so I think that's 2:20 Utah time. I'll call the new phone # that Mom and Dad have and it will probably show up on the caller ID as a toll-free number. I'll be calling from our calling center where people order free DVD's, BoM's, etc. Yay! I'm so excited!

In other good news, a girl that I taught during my first transfer here (Tiara) is getting baptized on Saturday. And another girl I taught (Ani) will likely get baptized in January. We also have 2 Phillipino investigators in one of my wards who'll be baptized on January 10th. AND we're having a baptism on the day after Christmas. It's exciting and fulfilling to see the gospel change people's lives.

I've now been on my mission long enough to start seeing the fruits of my labors. I recently received letters from all of the people I taught in my last area that I grew closest to. I even got a Christmas present from the kids in a part-member family that I really grew to love along with little notes from each of them (Amber, Bret, La'akea, and Bella). The notes and cards were the best Christmas presents I've received yet. It's comforting and fulfilling to know that despite my weaknesses, mistakes, and challenges in my last area, I really did make a difference in someones' lives.

I'm not feeling too well today :( so I think I'm going to cut my letter short today, but I look forward to hearing your voices tomorrow!


December 18th 2009

Dear Family,

I cannot believe that next week is Christmas already! It is also my 9 month anniversary of entering the MTC! I will be calling you on Christmas day around 11:20AM Hawaii time and Can only talk until 12pm. PLEASE make sure everyone is there, even Papa if he can come, so that I can hear all of your wonderful voices!

This last week has been a little crazy. As you might have noticed, I'm emailing you a day late. Since my companion left, I had to combine with another companionship so there are 3 of us together (for the 3rd time on my mission!). To work out our visitors' center schedules, this week's p-day is on Friday, but next week will be Thursday. So you will probably hear from me one more time before Christmas! We also combined my proselyting areas with Sister Fung and Sister Watanabe's, so we are covering about 12 wards. 6 of them are married student wards (with no non-members in the ward boundaries), so we rarely spend time there. Still, it's kind of crazy.

We went to Laie point to see the sun rise for our zone activity on Saturday. Dad told me to go there way back in my first transfer, so now I have! I've attached some pictures you might like.

I'm out of time but I'll talk to you next week! Also, I'm sending a CD to mom&dad, and to audrey that has all the pictures I've taken on my mission so far along with some videos so that you can see what i've been up to the last 9 months!


December 10th 2009

Dear Family & Friends,

Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka! Make sure to take a look at the pictures I attached because you will enjoy them. They’ll give you a small idea of what Christmas is like in Laie and at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I’m making a Christmas Card (kind of) to send to everyone with the best Christmas card picture you will ever receive in the history of Christmas cards, so be expecting it. We had our zone conference on Tuesday and were sure to all wear Christmas colors. Our mission president also gave us a present of letting us watch the Emma Smith movie. It was nice.

Just to give a heads up on my Christmas Day phone call, I will probably call close to 11:20AM Hawaii time. So check the time difference so you know when to expect me. We are only allowed to talk for 40 MINUTES. We got in trouble on Mothers’ Day because a lot of missionaries went over the time limit. And that’s why I chose 11:20 because I have to be on shift at the VC at noon and won’t be as tempted to talk too long.

I heard that is it VERY COLD in good ol’ UT right now. So I wanted to tell you a story that will make you laugh. It’s been starting to get chilly here in the evenings and mornings and the other day my companion and I got into the car after an appointment exclaiming how freezing cold it was. We had goosebumps and quickly threw on our sweaters and closed the doors. As we started driving away, I noticed that our car shows the outside temperature. It was 70 degrees. Haha I guess I’ve truly adjusted to Hawaii temperatures.

The Church is still true and I love it and my Savior with all my heart. I’m so glad I chose to come on a mission. By the time I get home you won’t recognize me anymore because 1) I’ll have changed a lot and be much less bossy and 2) My cheeks will be much more round.

On a heavier note, there’s a lot of sorrow and difficulties going on with the Sisters here and they could use your prayers. 3 sisters have Dads who are ill. Late Tuesday night my companion learned that her Dad passed away from cancer. She’s having a hard time. I’m doing my best to help, but I’m not very good at comforting people and that sort of thing. She’s still not sure if she’ll go home ASAP or wait until the end of the transfer (which is when she was going to complete her mission). There are a lot of challenges because her Dad is still in New Zealand where he was in the Hospital and they will probably have a funeral there, but Tongans cannot go there with just a passport, they have to get a visa. So please pray for her that she can feel comforted and happy and can get her visa without problems, and pray for me so that I can help in any way she needs.

I love you all and miss you so much. Remember, the best Christmas presents are letters from my family!


P.S. Dad, be especially careful putting up those hard-to-reach Christmas lights or become ill, because I wouldn’t be able to handle another disappointment.

December 3rd 2009

Dear Everyone!

Thanks for all the emails!! I was so happy to hear from Mom, Dad, Papa, Ronnie, Todd, and Scott!

Thanksgiving was good, but it didn't really feel like Thanksgiving. I attached a picture of some of the sisters and myself after one of our dinners at a members' home. I also attached a picture of one of the most common scenes in the little town of Kahuku (aka chickens EVERYWHERE). The BYU/Utah football game was almost as big of a deal over here as it is in Utah, so after learning that BYU won, another Sister and I took the liberty of being annoying to one of our Zone Leaders and another sister who is a Ute fan. At the Visitors' Center, every missionary has a little cubby to put our stuff in, so Sister Cutler and I made signs to put in their cubbies that said, “We are filled with exceedingly great joy. Do you know Y?” I attached a picture of that too :) There are also pictures of all the Visitors' Center sisters from the first transfer I was here and now, so you can see who I'm serving with and how much my hair has grown!

I'm really happy here right now. Like I said before, being back here has shown me how much I've grown and changed. I feel like a completely different person from the last time I was here. My companion (who is from Tonga) gave me the best compliment I could receive from a Polynesian. She said, “Sister Smith, I've never met a hauli like you before,”“What do you mean?”“You just fit in with everyone!”Woohoo! Now I know how Dad felt when he lived here and was finally accepted by the Polynesians. It's kind of weird to think he was here once upon a time. All of the youth we work with go to the same middle/high school that Dad went to back in 1963 – Kahuku Intermediate and High School. Craziness.

But being here has given me a strong testimony of the Lord's hand in our work. He really inspires our Mission President to put us where we can be the most effective instrument of God. When I was first in Laie, I remember meeting a boy named Travis who had been taught for about a year, was going to be baptized, but didn't show up to the baptism. We wanted to start teaching him again and invited him to the ward “senior dinner” for all the graduating seniors. He went to the dinner and participated, but I noticed that his classmates/ward members weren't as friendly with him as a missionary would hope. They were all athletic and “popular” and he was super smart and liked computers. Travis was always in the back of my mind for those 6 weeks. I wanted so badly to help him receive the blessings of the gospel and be happy but I didn't know what to do. 6 months later, Sister Kolo and I were trying to figure out how we can get the work moving in the wards we moved into. We looked at the ward boundaries of the BYU ward we are serving in and noticed that it covers the Hau'ula area (where Travis lives). Immediately Travis' name came to my mind. Maybe he'd enjoy a student ward better than a family ward to better fit in! So we asked him if he'd be interested—he said yes. We had a lesson with him yesterday along with one of the ward members who was an ideal fellowshipper. It was SO AMAZING. He already has a strong testimony. I think he just needs friends who can support him. Our fellowshipper, Nate, is giving Travis a ride to church on Sunday. I'm so happy. Heavenly Father had this all planned out—I can feel it!

Well, time is up so I better go. But keep writing. I love and miss you all!

Sister Smith

P.S. Ronnie asked how many missionaries are serving in this mission. There are about 180 on 6 different islands. Most are here on Oahu.

November 26th 2009

Dear Family,

Today is Thanksgiving and I was so sad to open my email and not find anything from you (except Papa). :( But I am thankful for you anyway.

Speaking of Papa, I was able to get in contact with one of his missionaries from Fiji, Meli Lesuma. He is in the stake presidency of one of the wards I'm serving in. My companion and I will probably be visiting him sometime soon.

Last Friday we had a meeting with all the missionaries on the Island and Elder L. Tom Perry. President Monson was supposed to come, but his wife injured herself from a fall and was in the hospital, so we were left with a message from the Prophet on DVD. It was a cool meeting. I was in the musical number with 3 other sisters and 4 Elders. We sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" and I have to admit, it sounded really good! I was SO NERVOUS though. I prayed that I would sound ok, and when I was singing I could hear a beautiful voice coming out of my mouth, but I swear it wasn't me. Maybe an angel replaced my voice for 5 minutes so I wouldn't embarrass myself in front of an Apostle and all the other missionaries...

Other than that, not too much has happened. I LOVE my companion--we get along really well. I'm still adjusting to the Visitors' Center. I've forgotten a lot of things about working here, but it's slowly coming back. I'm serving in a BYU ward, a single's ward in Laie, and a family ward in Kahuku. Sister Kolo and I "white-washed" the area, meaning we are both brand new to these wards. It's fun, I'm enjoying it!

I've included a picture from a few days ago. Some members gave some other sisters a HUGE dinner to take home, which included a whole crab (minus the head). Being the person that I am, I found it highly amusing to take a picture with it.

Anyway, time to go. I love you all and miss you. I might check my email again in a few hours, so hopefully I'll find my inbox full of emails :) Otherwise I'll be expecting letters and a wedding invitation in the mail in the near future :D


Sister Smith

November 19th 2009

Dear Family & Friends,

I hope you are as surprised to hear from me this soon as I am. We had our transfers yesterday and I found out right before the transfer meeting started that I would be coming back to the Visitors' Center. I was soooo certain that I was going to stay where I was at!

So my P-days are now Thursdays. My new companion is Sister Kolo from Tonga and this is her LAST transfer on her mission. She's GREAT. I've been very blessed to have her as a companion. I'll miss Sister Orgil though. I'm a little worried about her. I hope she'll be okay with her new companion. The day before I left, we went to a local Community College and helped the international students club make Mongolian food for a fundraiser. It was lots of fun. I am officially an excellent dumpling maker. I said goodbye to some of the people I'll miss the most. I'll attach some pictures of them. One of them gave me a shirt for a movie they were working on. It says "PREDATOR FILM CREW 2009" and has a picture of some crazy Alien on it. Too bad it'll probably come out while I'm on my mission, otherwise I'd wear the shirt to the movie theater when I went to watch it and be like, "yeah, I totally worked on this movie." I think it's supposed to be the sequal to Predator vs. Alien or something like that. The bro's will probably know.

Right now I am serving in 3 wards: One family ward in Kahuku, a BYU ward, and a single's ward in Laie. Sister Kolo and I "white-washed" the area, meaning we are both brand new to the area and have nothing but the Area Book to get us going. It will be an exciting transfer. I'm definitely happier than last time I was here. But Laie is pretty chilly these days--much cooler than Honolulu. So I could use some cute sweaters to keep me warm. There are no stores here except Foodland. Which is an oober EXPENSIVE grocery store. I could also use extra money if anyone can spare it. I came here with no food and only $30 on my mission fund card for the rest of the month. I had to use my remaining personal funds for new church shoes before I left Honolulu (aka civilization). And apparently our family ward doesn't feed the missionaries as often as they are supposed to (which is everyday) so I have almost no money to buy breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods for the rest of the month. Sad day. The good news is that I will stop gaining weight from being overfed!

The final piece of exciting news is that Ronnie wrote me the first email he's ever written since I've been a missionary!!

Well, I better go. But I love you all so much and miss you. Keep in touch and pray for me every night!


P.S. There is a sister here named Sister Bridge and sometimes I get her and I confused because I'm so used to friends and family calling me "Bridge" that I think people are talking to/about me when they say "Sister Bridge"

November 16th 2009

Hey All!

Exciting news! After almost 6 months in this area, I am being transferred! It is both a happy and sad occasion though. I will miss a lot of the people here and I worry that whoever replaces me will never love them as much as I do. But everything happens for a reason. I'm looking forward to a change though. I don't know where I'm going, except that I'm staying on the island. It's possible that I could be going back to the Visitors' Center, but I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet. I'll find out on Wednesday and you'll hear from me in a week.

But I have even MORE EXCITING news! This Friday, before our state-wide stake conference broadcast, we will have a missionary meeting with PRESIDENT MONSON! What's even better is that I'm going to be in a "missionary choir" of sorts and will sing for the PROPHET! Wow. I can't wait! I would appreciate your prayers that I don't sound terrible or do something horribly embarrassing.

We WERE going to have a baptism today, but a few days ago it got postponed. It was for a 15 year old named Bret, and his whole family are converts of about a year and a half, but he was never baptized due to family pressure. So Sister Stevenson and I taught him individually and he really started to progress and WANTED to be baptized. Still, due to time constraints and family pressure, we will now have to wait until the step-dad becomes active in church again and gets the Melchizedek priesthood so that he can both baptize and confirm Bret. I'm sad I won't get to see it happen, because I became so close with this family and especially with Bret. He feels like my little brother. I know he's disappointed, especially because he was READY and it was HIS choice, but he didn't get the ultimate say in things. Hopefully his baptism won't be delayed any longer.

Lately, I've been reading the Pearl of Great Price. I've finished Moses and Abraham. I think they are some of my favorite scriptures so far. The name "The Pearl of Great Price" is very fitting. If I named it, it wouldv'e been called, "The glorious treasure chest of God's mysteries," but that's probably why didn't ask me to name it... Anyway, I really like the book of Abraham. He doesn't use as much biblical language as most other scripture authors. I'm looking forward to learning the full translation of "Fascimile #2" someday.

Finally, I wanted to tell Warren that I am using the same laundry bag that he used on his mission! Whoa! That was like 10 years ago! And also to tell Dad that yes, he can forward my weekly emails to anyone he would like and the same goes to all of you!

Anyway, I love you all and miss you and can't wait to talk to you on Christmas!!



November 9th 2009

Hello Everyone!

How have you been this week? I've been doing well. Transfers are on the 18th and I'm very curious as to what is going to happen. I've been in this area for a little more than 5 months, so it's likely that I will leave. But if I stay one more transfer, I'll be here a total of 7 months. I really love the people here. We might have one more baptism on Monday the 16th, so I'm hoping (and especially praying) that it can happen. Some families in this ward have become extended families for me, so it'll be hard to say bye. I wouldn't mind a change though. BUT there's still a big possibility that I can stay. It's so much harder to figure out transfers for the Sisters! They have to take into account who is a driver, who is full-proselyting, who is a visitor's center sister, how many new sisters are coming and how many are leaving, etc. I'll know by next week so I'll keep you updated!

I got a letter from Dad last week talking about being in the Stake Choir and directing the Ward Choir, etc. It seems like it would be difficult to direct a choir when people aren't as eager to join as you'd like. The ward choir here has a total of 2 men. They sang in sacrament yesterday and since I was at church early for meetings, I sat in on the choir practice and sang with them in Sacrament. It was fun. I don't know how we sounded but oh well. If Dad is still the choir director when I get home from my mission next year, I will definitely join the choir. Which reminds me--I go home in less than a year!!! AND I get to talk to everyone on the phone in less than 2 months! I'm so excited.

We found out that President Monson will be speaking at our Stake Conference on the 22nd. It would be a live broadcast from Laie. I don't know if he'll meet with the missionaries though. That would be neat. I remember seeing him about this time last year with Ronnie at BYU for a CES fireside. I remember the Marriott Center was PACKED and the moment he walked into view it was silent and it felt like his authority just filled the whole arena. He really is a prophet of God.

President Monson reminded us that we need to "find joy in the journey NOW." He quoted "The music man" by saying that if we keep looking to tomorrow, we'll have a lot of empty yesterdays. There's so much to do now to improve ourselves & families, to help others, to serve, to do temple work & missionary work, etc. I'm so glad to have a living prophet to help us know what our priorities in life should be.

I wanted to share one small experience that happened a while ago, but is kind of neat (I just kept forgetting to include it in my emails). I usually run in the morning for my exercise, but in July/August I felt like I pulled a muscle in my leg, so I eventually stopped. It hurt really bad. It extended along the inside front of my thigh, and every step I took hurt. After not running for about 6 weeks, the pain went away completely so I decided to start running again. After a couple days, it came back. I was so frustrated. How could I keep my body healthy if I couldn't do decent exercise. I prayed and asked for help and the thought occurred to me that I didn't pull a muscle. I felt like I could keep running, so I did. I started to notice the pain would vary, but I couldn't figure when or why it hurt at certain times, and other times the pain was gone. The words "your back" came into my head. My back? I thought about it and realized that I hadn't done any back strengthening exercises for about 3 months. When I first learned that I had a bulging disc in my back, the x-ray technicians said that sometimes it can pinch a nerve and send pain down the leg. So I decided to go by my prompting and try to strengthen my back, even though the pain was clearly in my leg and didn't SEEM connected with my back. I did some good exercises everyday and about 2 weeks later the pain was GONE. I never would've guess on my own that my back was causing the pain, but Heavenly Father answered my prayers and helped me fix the problem.

I hope all of you are doing well. I love you all and I miss you A LOT. Write back!


Sister Smith

November 2nd 2009

Dear Family,

How are you all doing? How was your Halloween? We had fun, but it was nothing compared to Halloween in Utah. We were told to stop proselyting at 5pm (probably so people wouldn't call Church Headquarters and complain about the Mormon missionary trick-or-treaters) so we went home and relaxed for a little while, then we went to look at trick or treaters. It was so fun to see Sister Orgil, who's from Mongolia, get excited when she saw all the costumes. We went to a neighborhood that was supposed to be packed with kids asking for candy, but we drove up there and there weren't many people and only 1 in every 4 houses were giving out candy. The next day a ward member asked, “Did you get a chance to go to Kalama Valley? It was crazy! There were so many kids!!” If only they knew what REAL trick or treating was like. My companion still enjoyed it though. We also carved pumpkins and went to 2 Halloween parties/get-togethers at ward members' homes. It was fun, but not as fun as dressing up and having it smell and look like Halloween outside. But next Halloween I'll be able to have the FULL experience again!

The missionary work in this area is slowing progressing again. I got into a habit where I was teaching lots of lessons, but that's all. Just teaching a lesson. Reciting stories, interesting facts, etc. Then I was reminded that nothing happens in missionary work without the Spirit to touch the hearts of those we teach. I was so busy relying on myself, that I forgot that I can't convert anyone—only the Spirit can. So the last 2 weeks I tried my hardest to rely on the Spirit. It made such an overwhelming difference. I could see and feel people change in our lessons. They acknowledged that they felt something different. I don't know if they'll act on it, but I know they felt it.

My scripture study has been especially good lately and it just makes me so excited to teach the gospel! As we teach lessons, we're supposed to extend commitment invitations. The commitment can be anything from reading the scriptures, to obeying a certain commandment, to getting baptized. We always promise blessings when we extend a commitment, because it gives people a reason to act and when they receive the blessing their faith is strengthened. A few weeks ago when Elder Johnson of the Seventy spoke to us he said we shouldn't just promise blessings from ourselves, but we should promise blessings from the scriptures. We should search the scriptures and find God's promised blessings, then share those with others and bear testimony of how we've felt such blessings. So I've been going through the different lessons and commitments and searching the scriptures for promised blessings. I love STUDYING the scriptures like that—with a purpose and goal. I always find something and my love for the scriptures continues to grow. The scriptures really do contain the word of God, and by truly hearing His word and trying to understand and apply it, His Spirit starts to overflow into my mind. It's a good feeling.

Well, it's time for me to go, but of course I love you and miss you all. Please keep writing!


Sister Smith

October 26th 2009

Dear Family,

Last week has been pretty good and I'm looking forward to HALLOWEEN this week! We can't do any proselyting after 5pm, so we can either relax at home or go have fun. So we are choosing to go have fun. One of our members invited us over for dinner, she makes chili every Halloween and her family has a little party of sorts. We're also going trick-or-treating with some members. My companion, Sister Orgil, has never experienced the excitement of Halloween before since Mongolia doesn't celebrate ghosts, witches, zombies and creepy things. When you really think about it, I guess Halloween is a weird holiday. I wonder how it came about. We're going to carve pumpkins tonight, and we even tied in a lesson about repentance with carving pumpkins. I wanted to know if anyone can send pictures or advertisements about corn mazes and haunted houses and stuff. I was telling my companion all about fun Halloween festivities in Utah and I'd love to SHOW her too.

Speaking of my companion, she is HILARIOUS. Yesterday we were tracting. The most common "conversation" we have at the door goes like this:
"Hi! We're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints-"
"No thank you. I have my own church." (starting to close the door)
"Ok, well who do you know that would be interested in or could benefit from our message?"
"Not interested. Sorry."
".......ok. Have a good day!"

So after having a couple of these conversations, Sister Orgil asked me (in her Mongolian accent), "Sister Smith, what would you say if some guy asked you out but you had a boyfriend?" I wasn't sure if it was a trick question or what, but she laughed and said, "Come on! You learned it on your mission!" I was awaiting what she was going to say and she responded, "You'd say, 'no thank you, I have my own boyfriend.' And if he was a returned missionary he'd say 'oh, ok, who do you know that would be interested in or could benefit from going on a date with me?" Haha, I hope you find that as funny as I did. Maybe I've just been a missionary too long...

Anyway, on a more spiritual note we've had a few REALLY GOOD lessons last week. Also, Elder Kenneth Johnson of the 1st quorum of the seventy came and had a short mission conference with all the full-proselyting missionaries on the island. He was very inspirational. My favorite thing he said was that when we have the Spirit with us, we can never get burned out--rather, we'll get fired up! It's so true. I've had more days feeling burned out now that I'm getting deeper in my mission, and sometimes I just want to go home and sleep. But at those times I never have my mind centered on the gospel and I'm not trying to feel the Spirit. At that meeting I felt like I had a wake up call and am ready to get back out there and be fired up!

We had an especially spiritual lesson on Thursday with some investigators who've met with missionaries on and off over the years. We've been teaching them for almost 2 months and we decided we needed to teach the Restoration again. We brought a ward member with us who is exceptional when it comes to inviting the Spirit. After we had shared our testimonies about Joseph Smith, we could feel the Spirit's presence in the room. Then Brother Molale (the ward member) shared his testimony on the Priesthood and how we can know the truth. He talked about his conversion and how he received an answer to his prayers. He talked about how we feel the Holy Ghost--especially with a warmth in our hearts. He then, by the power of the Priesthood, blessed that everyone in the room would feel the truth of the message by a warmth in our hearts and said, "I bestow this blessing upon you now." Immediately, I felt it STRONGLY. One of the investigators was crying and didn't know why. Wow. I hope the man I marry someday is a worthy priesthood holder with such great faith so that he can use his priesthood like that. Words cannot describe how powerful that moment was.

Well, time is short so I have to go, but I hope to hear from all of you soon! I love you ALL and miss you.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

October 19th 2009

Dear Friends & Family,

How are you all doing this week? I miss you all so much, but we've been so busy as well. We're struggling to find more people to teach, so we've been working twice as hard. No luck yet...but I guess it doesn't really come down to luck, does it? Still, things are going well. My companion and I get along really well and she's easy to work with.

Lately, I've been studying a little more about Lehi's vision of the “Tree of Life.” I never realized how consistently the Book of Mormon refers to this vision and how deep of doctrine it really contains. After we have dinner with members, we've been reading the account of the dream in 1 Nephi 8 and having each of the members draw what we read. After discussing the meaning and symbolism of the dream, we have the members draw themselves in the picture. Then they draw 2 non-member friends. It's interesting to see where people put themselves and their friends, and how it makes them evaluate what they need to be doing in life and how they want to help their loved ones.

It's especially interesting to hear others' interpretations of the vision. There are things we know for sure—the tree is the love of God, the iron rod is God's word, the building is the pride of the world, the darkness is the temptations of the devil. But we are told to liken the scriptures unto ourselves, and everybody does that a little differently. Some people have said that for them, the iron rod circles around the tree, others said that they think the path keeps going after the tree. That's how some people partake of the fruit but became ashamed and fell away. It's sad that that happens. The scriptures say it's worse to leave the path after entering than it is to never get on the path. And when you think how much is lost when you never enter that path, how much more will be lost when you leave it? It's like Elder Holland talked about—the very ELECT will be deceived. That's how much power Satan has. It's a scary thought and reminds me much more of the importance of holding to the rod. There's the tree at the end of the path, which is most desirable, and we can't let it out of our sight.

Sister Smith

October 12th 2009

Dear Family & Friends,

What a wonderful start to a new transfer! Megan and Taylor, Robert's daughters, were baptized on Sunday and it was such a great baptism service. A very large chunk of the ward attended and the girls were so excited. They were baptized by 2 young men, both of which had never baptized anyone before. They were so nervous and messed up a couple times, but everyone laughed and it turned out well. I'm SO GLAD I don't have to go through that. I'd be so nervous about messing up or saying something wrong.

Like I said last week, my new companion is Sister Orgil from Mongolia. She's really sweet. It took a little while for her to warm up but we're getting along great right now. Our biggest challenge is finding new people to teach. A lot of the people we were teaching before kind of flaked out on us so our teaching pool has narrowed drastically. We're having a really hard time finding people on our own. I never realized how important it is for members to share the gospel with their friends. I always thought the missionaries just do their thing and baptized people, but now I realize that the main objective for missionaries is to teach and help others feel the Spirit. They're much more willing to listen to us if someone they know and trust invites them to learn a little more about what they believe.

Well, my time is short. It's been a busy week and we have a busy week ahead of us. I hope to hear from all of you soon! I love you and miss you!

Sister Smith

October 5th 2009

Dear Family,

It is again the end of another transfer! Each 6 week period goes by faster and faster. We found out that my companion will be going to Maui and I will be staying here in Hawaii Kai and getting a new companion. We're 99% sure that my new companion will be Sister Orgil from Mongolia, so it'll be a fun experience. My only worry is that I'll get too comfortable staying in one area for such a long time. It's so easy to to get lazy and too laid back. We're also having a hard time finding new investigators and are losing a lot of the people we're teaching, so it's frustrating. I'll just have to work harder and put my trust in the Lord.

Anyway, wasn't conference FANTASTIC?! I absolutely loved Elder Holland's talk. I'd love to watch it over and over and over again. I love hearing him talk because he speaks with so much conviction. He's not afraid to chastise people, but he does it with love. I was reminded of when he spoke at the MTC. He was doing a lot of yelling, but it was so powerful that it made everyone want to be the best missionary possible. I also liked Tad R. Callerton and H. David Burton's talks. And President Eyring is always a favorite as well. They did a delayed broadcast on the public broadcast channels, so we could watch conference at 10 and 2. But we watched the Saturday morning session live at 6am at a member's home. It felt so good to be watching it live, to be seeing the exact same thing at the exact same time that my family was seeing. I'm jealous of everyone that gets to attend priesthood meeting. Those are my favorite talks to read when we get the conference Ensign. I hope my brothers realize how blessed they are to be able to use the Priesthood Authority of God and have constant guidance on how to use it worthily.

I never was this excited to watch conference before! Can you believe we have a living prophet and apostles who receive revelation from GOD?! Do you realize how amazing that is? Do you realize how lucky we are to have this gospel, to KNOW it's true, and not have to go around searching for it. I often wonder what my life would be like if I wasn't born into a family that had the restored gospel. Would I recognize that something was missing? Would I search for the truth? Would I accept the truth if it was presented to me? I have no idea. But it makes me even more grateful to know that I didn't have to have this truth, but I DO. And I didn't even have to work for it. That's part of the reason I'm serving a mission. It's the only thing I can think to do to show my gratitude for this gospel in my life and my family's life.

Well, I better go, but I love you all so much and miss you tons. Don't forget me!!!