Monday, August 26, 2013

Really good week!

"Hey y'all. This week has been good. Really good. We had a fireside last night that went extremely well. It was all about missionary work, how to do it, why we do it, etc. Put on by the Ward Mission Leader. Super good. Had some investigators there, recent converts, a ton of members. It was a pot luck! The different things they learned about were sharing the gospel in their every day lives, missionary work through family history, reactivating members, and sharing the gospel through social media. Then they talked about the ward mission plan. The commitment left was for every family to have their own family mission plan. It was very uplifting, very edifying. Hopefully it helps the people of Mobile come into the gospel more frequently. Our Ward Mission Leader spoke in church yesterday. He brought 7 nonmembers to hear him speak. He asked some of his friends to come support him as he spoke and they responded favorably! I thought that was just amazing. Very very very cool to see. We will be having our first zone conference with President Smith tomorrow. I am really really looking forward to that. We have a member of the church who is not currently active but that LOVES the missionaries. He has committed to single handedly cook for 45 missionaries. Which means he is planning to cook for 90 people, he said, because he knows how much missionaries eat. He is amazing. Only has one leg, is in a wheelchair most of the time. but very very loving. He is paying for it all out of his own pocket. And when you consider that he is cooking snap turtle tail, gumbo, greens, biscuits, rolls, cheese grits, hominy, okra, peach cobbler, and undoubtedly more things, cause that is just how he is, that's pretty astounding. He has committed to come back to church, too! We should be seeing him there next week. :).......... I have been doing a lot of things that will come as a surprise to maybe all of you! This morning I sowed my pants that had a rip in the seam. Yesterday I cooked spaghetti noodles, black beans, chicken, and some spices and seasonings to make a tasty dish for 4 missionaries! I also made some garlic bread along with that. I have made some homemade fried rice, monkey bars, the list goes on and on! So yes, I have learned how to not be a slob and how to be a useful member of society (maybe "the household" would be a more applicable term). Hahaha but it's fun. I'm enjoying myself. Pretty much everything I'm cooking is my own recipe. Which is very exciting! And I was not really shown how to sew either. I watched an elder do it in the MTC, but God helped me out today to learn how! :) As you can tell, I am pretty excited. We are having tons of success right now. Saturday we found a lot of seemingly very solid potential investigators. We have 3 appointments, so we are very much looking forward to that.......... I love you all so much. God had truly blessed me in allowing me to learn from you and to love you. Thank you so much for letting me be an important part of your lives. I love you!" Elder Smith

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Completely Committed

Word on the street is that a tropical depression hit the past two days or so. We wouldn't know, of course, cause we don't have access to the weather, but it was cloudy for literally 2 straight days, which is so out of the norm here. Saw the sun and was like, where has that been the past couple days?? And then wake up to more wet weather. I am loving it! The medicine I am on, as I said, prevents me from going out in the sun. Well there was a service project on Saturday, and because of the cloud cover, I was able to do it! It was a fiasco. We were cutting up an oak tree for a family in the ward. It was organized by one of the deacons, and we were asked to come help. It was a project! The tree was huge, water logged, and very, very heavy. I spent a good amount of my time cutting the wood for firewood. It was a blast! The bishop had to go to the hospital due to a finger injury. That was a scary moment, but he immediately received a blessing, and his finger was alright for the most part. Still broke it and had to get stitches, but did not lose it, thankfully! I also smashed my finger! Boy did it hurt. Still hurts! But I'm fine. It's just purple now. The service project was a blast though. It felt very good to change up things and serve physically for awhile. I have been feeling pretty good for the most part recently. In the past four days or so I have only had a headache about twice. It seems as though the antibiotic is working. I just finished it, so I'm praying that the headaches will cease now. So nothing to worry about in that department!! Our Ward Mission Leader got back from a three week vacation this week. Thank goodness!! We could noticeably feel a difference in the work when he was gone. He is doing a fantastic job. Really giving his calling his all, and is undoubtedly magnifying his calling. It's awesome to be able to work with someone so closely who strives to do what the Lord Himself would do. The LDSSA forms are now officially completed and submitted. We are now waiting on the university to approve the papers and we will be able to proselyte on campus! Elder Dattilo is particularly excited for this prospect. Ever since leaving the 3rd largest city in the world, he has dearly missed contacting people on the streets. Haha! I have personally been working on improving my studies and desires recently. I want to have a stronger desire to follow in Christ's footsteps. I want to study for the people that I am working with. I want to receive revelation on behalf of those I serve, and want to do everything within my realm of authority to help them accept the restored gospel. I have been hitting PMG (Preach My Gospel)very hard. Trying to understand even more fully what exactly God expects of me as a missionary. Trying to increase my knowledge of the doctrines. I have been reading 30 minutes every single day out of the Book of Mormon. I have also been studying every day for 15 minutes out of Preach My Gospel. And it has helped immensely. It is helping me focus upon others more than anything else. I at times feel like I have no idea how to help people come back to church. I feel as though I have no idea how to help people actually get baptized and confirmed. So that is my focus right now. I have become in the past transfer a better person than I have ever been before. The trials that I've passed through since coming to Mobile have really helped me become more Christlike. I spent a transfer really focusing on that. And now I am trying to get myself to be the best missionary I have ever been. Because if I can couple being the most Christlike I can be with my best understanding of how to fulfill my calling to find, teach, and baptize, amazing things are going to happen here. I want each one of you to know that I am completely committed to my calling to preach this gospel. I am here because of Jesus Christ. I believe that He is the Savior of the world, and has forgiven me of all that God has seen amiss within me. And for that reason alone, I am here. When you feel the Holy Ghost tell you that you are a child of God, and have a specific purpose for living here, and that you have been forgiven by the only Being who has authority to forgive sins, in my opinion, that is life changing. It is something that cannot be denied. It should be something that changes us forever. For me, the decision to do missionary work boils down to this: Do I really care about being forgiven of my sins? Do I really appreciate the gift God has given me? Do I really understand the fact that Christ's suffering was specifically for me? Have I really felt His love surround me and comfort me? If I have, then there really is no other choice than to serve God for the rest of my life. There really is no choice between going on a mission and not going on a mission. There is really no reason to skip church, to shrink form my callings, to be unkind to someone. Because if I really truly believe that I have been forgiven, then I had better be willing to share it. To hold the gift of eternal life, forgiveness, peace of mind, and every other fruit of the gospel and not share it would just show God that I actually could care less about the gift He gave me. It would show Him that I don't really cherish the fact that He sent Christ on my behalf. To not share the gospel is basically telling God that you want the blessings but are not willing to put in the effort for them. One of the problems people face that do not have enough money to live is the simple fact that they do not want to work for it. They want to be supported by someone or something else. It's exactly the same for us. We want to be saved, but we don't want to follow every single commandment in order to receive such a blessing. To quote Jeffrey R Holland "Salvation is not cheap." If I expect to be saved in the Kingdom of God, to have all of my sins forgiven me, then I should live worthy of such a blessing. Every fiber of my being should desire salvation for others. I read today in PMG a quote from Joseph Smith: "After all is said and done, the greatest responsibility we have is to preach the gospel." That hits me hard every time I read it. The very man who set up this church again on the earth said that I have no greater responsibility in my life time than to help other people into the gospel. So, to finish off my thoughts, I say all this because this is what I have been feeling. I know I am not committed enough to my calling. I at times don't desire above all else to share the gospel. But I know I need to. I know that God has entrusted me and each of you with a very sacred calling. "For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation." (D&C 82:3) So, if I really feel like God has given me spectacular and marvelous experiences, then He expects me as well to do something about that. And that is what I have set out to do this transfer. I hope all of you will reflect on just exactly what God has given you, and ask yourselves "am I living worthy of such blessings?" I love Jesus Christ. I love His Church. I am so grateful to have the knowledge and light I already have, and am absolutely thrilling in the opportunities to receive more. I love you all so much!

Kevin's Hero for August

My hero for the month of August is President Smith (new mission pres). I have already grown to love that man so very much. He has shown a lot of concern and involvement personally on my behalf, as well as on Elder Datillo's behalf. With me being sick, and Elder Datillo dealing with some problems he has not ever faced before, he has taken the time to listen. To counsel. To inspire, uplift, motivate, and love. He cares a ton about the people of the Florida Tallahassee Mission. He has shared personal experiences and examples in order to help Elder Dattilo and I. He responds to my emails all individually, and ensures that I know I am being listened to and helped each week. He delegates responsibilities in order to help the leaders of the mission grow and improve, and so he can have as much time as possible to do the most essential things. He came home from serving as a mission president in the Martial Islands in order to take care of a family emergency. He obviously knows where his priorities are, and his family comes first. He loves Sister Smith with all of his heart. He never served as a stake president before either time getting called to be a mission president, and yet he knows so much about working with members, so much as to how to find people to teach. He wants us to find as many people we can to hear the restored gospel. I'm sure it was extremely hard to come into a mission and take over the responsibility. But he knew he had been given keys, and that he was authorized to use those keys to help bless the mission. He knows there is a specific purpose for him being our mission president. He does not pretend to be President Jensen, and does not even try. He teaches by use of parables, much like Christ does. He is very good at giving compliments. While he was here, he made it a point to compliment us on what we were doing well. I am so much looking forward to learning and serving under his direction for the remainder of my mission!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Recent Baptism!

A young girl named Courtney that Elder Smith and his companion have been teaching was baptized by her grandfather on Saturday and he couldn't be more excited. He said, “that was definitely a great experience!” Below are pictures at the baptism.
Elder Smith continues to experience headaches and sinus issues but is being treated and hopes that they subside. He said they're tough to kick but he continues to work through it.
In other news he shared, “Elder Datillo made the decision this week to stay as long as he possibly could, which is going to be Jan 2nd. He is a champ. He had the option of ending earlier, and chose to take the high road. Mad respect for him. I am learning a ton about true discipleship from him! We had a missionary from Toxey with us on Wednesday while his companion was transferring. That was extremely fun, being in a trio...........As for the USA campus, we have all the students we need on board, we have a student advisor, leaders of the LDSSA have been called, and so now all we will be waiting on is the University to okay the association, and then we will be able to work on campus!! I'm very excited about that. Feels like we are making a permanent change in the right direction. The stake has been trying to do this for years.............We were able to talk to the wife of a member who is not currently active, and she is wanting to learn about the church! So we will be seeing her tomorrow. There are loads of part member families here. I think that is where we will be focusing. Helping a family get on track to getting to live together for all eternity is the best thing I can really think of............”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

LDSSA......slowly progressing

Well, neither Elder Smith or his companion got transferred this week. They're happy to be able to continue where they are. The LDSSA they're hoping to help establish on the campus of USA is slowly coming along. Kevin says, “The LDSSA is going well. The stake is moving quickly for us. By Thursday we are hoping to have names of officers to submit to the university. Then all we have to do is bug the university about the progress of the paperwork. Just gotta try to help them move it along for us.” I'm sure he'll keep us posted! He's excited about an upcoming baptism this week (Saturday). The baptism will be that of a young 9 year old girl named Courtney. The fact that he did not get transferred, he'll be able to see that through and is really looking forward to it. Unfortunately for Kevin, he has experienced rather severe allergies and some illness since being out. Most recently he's been suffering from headaches (4 weeks) and is in the process of some testing to better determine the cause. He continues to stay positive and work through the challenges of not feeling up to par. Please remember him in your prayers and pray for relief and treatment so he can continue to serve to the desires of his heart. Enjoy these photos he shared!!