Monday, January 28, 2013

It's in the 70's here =)

Thought I'd just let that sink in a bit. Haha well, this week has been a very good week for us! We either exceeded or met almost all our goals this week. We have 3 baptismal dates with people, all on March 2nd if you can  believe that! Things have been really great. I'm improving so well in terms of obedience. I am obeying now more than ever with exactness. The desire has always been there for me, but I am just starting to see just how much the Lord is helping me obey because of my righteous desires. I love the people here, they are taking such good care of us. I got sea food for the first time while out, fried flounder and shrimp creole. Yum! ;) It actually wasn't bad. I have had fish tacos thus far as well. A word of advice, please don't serve the missionaries spaghetti. They will tell you they loved it and will eat is, and they may actually really enjoy it, but we get spaghetti or lasagna out here like nobody's business. And apparently that's how it is most of the time in the states. But it is good. I'm maintaining a great weight of 135. It feels wonderful! One of my goals for the transfer is by the time the transfer finishes I want to look as ripped as the hulk. Hah not really. But I have made some goals to have a more healthy body. Just by way of clarification, I am still indeed with Elder Davis, he is just now training me in conjunction with being district leader. My thoughts spiritually this week have been turned to our testimonies. Have you ever wondered why so many people fall away from the church? Why after serving a mission they ever would or even could leave the church? Maybe at times in your lives you have seen or felt like you had a testimony that God was real, or that Joseph Smith was really a prophet, but you weren't acting on it. Or maybe you believed that you didn't know those things were true but upon further inspection and realization you did in fact all along know that those things were true. Well, in my studies of Laman and Lemuel, I have found the answer as to why that can happen. In 1 Nephi 17:55 you get a great account of Laman and Lemuel. Remember, they have heard the Lord's voice, seen an angel more than once, have been led by the light the Lord provided them, not by fire and have now been shocked by Nephi through the power of God. Then they say: "We know of a surety that the Lord is with thee." That sounds like just about the best testimony anyone could give. I KNOW that the Lord is with thee. And this isn't the first time they have said similar things. And yet, they fall away. And forget. And tell themselves and let themselves believe they never received a witness. But is it really because they didn't believe it in the time, or was it because they just were lied to and told to forget? It is my testimony to all of you that they did know it was true. That the Lord is real, and that Nephi was a prophet. Yet that wasn't and isn't enough. Satan is the father of all lies. He can lie to you over and over and over until you don't know what to believe. The reason people fall away, and the reason Laman and Lemuel fell away was because they loved the things that the world, or Satan, could offer more than what the Lord promised them. They didn't act on their testimony, they didn't let God work within them. And the same thing can happen to you and me and all of us. If we don't "choose ye this day whom ye will serve," you will fall away. Our testimony is not something we can just expect to be there forever. It takes work and effort on our part. If you and I don't love the things God has in store for us, or do not keep His commandments, our testimonies mean nothing. You and I are never safe from falling away. And to think any differently is what Satan would have you think. "Keep the commandments, in this there is safety, in this there is peace." I love you all! Go out and do some missionary work, and let Jesus Christ change you each and every day. With all my love, Elder Smith

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First transfer week

This is my first transfer week! I just read the transfer email. It looks as though Elder Davis is going to be the new District Leader for the Perdido district (the one that we are in). This Wednesday will be the start of his 5th transfer out. He just hit his 6 month mark 3 days ago. So that is certainly exciting! He'll be training and will be the District Leader! Poor soul. Haha other than that not a ton to report on in terms of transfers. It's exciting though! I kinda figured it was coming, to be completely honest. He's a good Elder!.......... And hopefully ya'll are giving out my address to people! The mail I get currently is either from Brooklyn or from family. Which is bittersweet because I feel like I have the coolest family ever, but makes me think I have only 1 friend! Ha. And I know Curtis and Josh just laugh every time they read my emails. I know exactly what is going through their mind " Poor guy. He just doesn't get it yet. Friends won't write you!!" Yes, I know mail usually comes to a screeching halt from friends, but I don't feel like I've even given them the opportunity to stop writing me! Anyway, anything ya'll could do to get me some addresses and encourage some letters would be sweet. You wouldn't think so, but it really helps. Which brings me to my next point, thank you for all the love and support I am getting on the home front. It's apparent I am a loved by my family. I love to read the emails ya'll send, and have really enjoyed the handwritten things I've received as well. I love to hear from you, hear what you are doing, how things are going and all that jazz. So thank you all for that! The work is progressing! We had my first 0 lesson day on saturday. That was a huge bummer. Elder Davis and I are working our tails off. We really are. We are not trying as hard as we need to be though, and there are loads of things we could be doing better. We are not as obedient as we need to be, and don't do everything like we are supposed to. Now, pay attention, because here comes the thunder. Elder Davis and I are trying as hard as we can to be perfect. Yet, we never will be. If I were a perfectly obedient missionary I would be a perfect person. To be exactly obedient would mean that you obey all of God's commandments, 100% of the time. Whether they be commandments given by way of the missionary handbook, or by the scriptures, or the current prophet, whatever. And unfortunately, I am not perfect. There are things that I need to improve upon each and every day. And I do. At least I try to. So, when you think about how I am doing, don't think that I am doing everything exactly how God wants me to do it, because sadly, I'm not yet. I wish I could say that I was obeying absolutely perfectly, but I'm not. I really hope I can get there some day, but for now, I know God is pleased with my efforts to do my very best. And I fall short each and every day. But hopefully, by the end of my life, I can look back and see the improvements that have been made because of my willingness to change and to grow, and be completely happy and satisfied with my efforts to become more like Jesus Christ. I pray that each one of you are evaluating the person you are each and every day, remembering and accepting the mistakes you've made, and then praying with all your heart to God to help you overcome those things. I know this is what we were sent here on this Earth to do. And through Jesus Christ and His Atonement, I know that as we take the sacrament each week we will know we made mistakes, yet we will know God forgives them and is very pleased with our efforts to become more like Him. I love you all. I am trying my very hardest to be the person you hope and pray that I become. I can't wait to have ties with you all for the rest of eternity. With all my love, Elder Smith

January's Have a Hero

Here's is Kevin's "Have a Hero" for the month of January! This months choice brought some joyful tears as I thought how great it was that Kevin would look for or seek out the positive qualities and strengths in his brother's. Here is in part what he said:
"This month my hero is Sean and Drew. I know that is kind of cheating, because it is two people, but you can't have one without the other. Let me tell you a little bit of why I chose them together,.......Sean and Drew are best friends. They include one another in much of what they do. They both have persevered a lot in their lives. Yet they both stay so happy, so positive, and are doing good things. They are not content with being mediocre, they are taking steps to excel........It takes so much courage to run for office. It takes so much faith to run for office. And yet they both tuned out what Satan was trying to tell them, and they pursued some dreams of theirs. Rejection is hard. And running for an office at school would take so much courage, yet they had enough to step out and show the world, but more importantly themselves that they are leaders, and they want responsibility. I respect and admire both of them for their courage........They are that personable. But probably the biggest reason I chose them is because of the amount of love they have in their hearts. Each time they write to me I can feel their love for me. They have love for their friends and fellow men by trying to help them receive Jesus Christ's Gospel. They love one another. It is so apparent. For brothers to be as close as they are, they've got to be special people. And they are. All the fighting and quarreling and contention that unfortunately brothers have one with another hasn't mattered with them. They have looked past the times that they have fought, and are the best of friends. It is so great.........Sean is smart. Wicked smart. But just because God gave you a gift doesn't mean you are hot stuff. Sean understands that. He doesn't boast of himself. Nor does he throw away the talents he was given. He uses them....... Sean has also overcome some rough things in his life. Yet he has been able to overcome them because he has let the gospel sink in. I can't count how many times I went into Sean's room to tell him goodnight and I saw him praying to God, or reading his Patriarchal Blessing, or highlighting and feasting on the Book of Mormon. The reason he is the man he is today is because he loves God, and was willing to do the things he learned in primary. What a good example he has been for me as my younger brother. Drew. There are not many people in this world like Drew. Drew is the type of person that would literally give someone the shirt he was wearing if they needed it. If he can make someone happy, he really tries to do it......... He is always thinking about others before himself, just like Christ did........He has so much love in his heart, he just wants everyone to love one another. Drew was always willing to go out and throw a ball with me. Even if I knew he really didn't feel like it, just because he loved me he would. I love Sean and Drew. What I said about Sean definitely goes for Drew as well. And what I said about Drew goes for Sean as well. They are some of the best examples I have ever had in my life. I know I wasn't the best older brother I could have been for them, yet I know they have forgiven me, and love me for who I am. I don't know how I got so lucky to be sent to the Earth with such amazing younger brothers. I would not be anywhere near the person I am today without Sean and Drew. Their examples to me have meant so much to me. I really look up to those two buggers. When I think of them today, I truly do see them as my heroes."

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy '13

Lucky number thirteen! At least it will be in this family. Sean is graduating this year! Bet that makes ya'll feel old. Haha well sweet. The start of the year has been great for me thus far. New Year's was pretty uneventful for Elder Davis and I. Other than the whole having-to-go-in-early-for-fear-of-many-drunk-drivers thing and being awoken at 11 PM because of all the loud fireworks, the new year passed pretty quietly for me. Any good new year's resolutions ya'll are working on? Currently I am sick, taking augmentin for what the mission doctor believes to be a bacterial infection. I have been sick now for about 6 weeks. I figured it was just the norm, a sinus infection that would eventually go away. Well it didn't, and hasn't. The doctor, like I said before, in the MTC thought it was viral, but seeing how it hasn't gone away in due time, they figured I had ought to take something for it. And consequently, I have been sleeping extra long in the mornings, trying to shake this off. But I am fine. I haven't had to miss any appointments or anything because of it, just been missing some of the studies in the morning and exercising. Hopefully it goes for good this week.  Nothing really new to report on work wise. Still no baptismal commitments, although we are close with a few. We have been biking a ton recently, which has actually been pretty refreshing. Elder Davis ran over a dead opossum in the road the other day, that completely made my night. Hahaha let me see what else... Oh in the class we taught at church yesterday a lady (yes she is a member) told the class about the gift of tongues. The only problem was that she taught complete false doctrine  Plus, we had an investigator in the class. That wasn't super fun. A lot of the religions down here believe that the gift of tongues is where you start to shout and holler and roll around on the floor because the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And it happens because it is something that is very intimate between you and God, and makes it so Satan can't listen to you praising God. I dunno. I've heard a few people explain it and it just gives me the creeps personally. But that was what she was explaining to the class. And of course, we know it is to help preach the Gospel. In Acts you hear about it all the time! Anyway, I guess I just didn't realize people believed that way. So that was interesting. But the work is progressing, and I am doing great. Happy to be here where I am. I love you all, you are in my prayers. Can't wait to hear from you! Love, Elder Smith