Monday, September 30, 2013

Urgent Care, Baptisms and Half Mission Conference

Elder Smith has been experiencing some chest discomfort/pain in recent days which required a trip to the Urgent Care. Based on the exam and findings with the initial tests, he will be undergoing further evaluation to better determine what is going on. Despite this, he continues to think positive and do what he can to serve. Regarding this he said, “.......I am not concerned. I got a blessing from Elder Clayton and things are good! It's just more of a guessing game at this point. But, the Elder Smith saga continues. :) I am not supposed to do any exercising or driving until I get checked out further. All I really have gathered from the past twenty four hours is that they have no idea what is going on with me! But the Dr. did say that it was almost certain, from his findings, that the pain I am feeling is associated or originating with the heart." He continued with, "Now, on to far less depressing topics!! Haha seriously though y'all, I'll be fine! The work here is going swimmingly. We had a baptism this Saturday! Elder Clayton baptized Mackphie and I baptized Aslinda. I'll send some pictures. :) Alsinda is 9, and her brother Mackphie is 8. It was awesome to be able to have them baptized together!! We also have two other baptismal commitments, with more on the way be assured! :) The Half Mission Conference with Elder Pino was justy great too. He talked very much about the doctrine of Christ, and how we can more fully teach the doctrine in our work. He also spoke, as well as President Smith, about our mission goal of 450 baptisms. They both emphasized concentrating and keeping our eyes fixed upon that goal. I got to see everyone that was in my MTC district, and I also got to see my previous companions, except for Elder Dattilo. It was amazing! I really enjoyed it. I was actually the one who drove the van to Crestview. :) President Smith is looking at sending one or two more sets out here to mobile, believe it or not!! Witth the campus opening up and Family History taking off like it is, he may send out some other missionaries! It's cool to see all that is happening here. What a spectacular blessing it is to be allowed to participate in this great work of God. :) …........I am happy! And it is raining. I love you all! Talk to you next week. :)" Elder Smith

 Please remember him in your prayers, thank you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Progress is at a fantastic pace!

“Elder Clayton is my new companion! And he rocks. He is from Salt Lake. And is a total boss! Went to Skyline High School. I am absolutely loving getting to be his companion. He really focuses on committing people to pray. Prayer is a huge thing for him. I love it! He has so much enthusiasm to be doing missionary work. The work continued to roll forth at a fantastic pace. All of the people we are currently teaching are part member families. We have 7 investigators. 3 with dates to be baptized. We had over 20 people at church who were either less active or investigators/nonmembers from our efforts. That is unreal, when you consider at the beginning of my time in the area they were averaging less than 100 people per week in attendance. Most of the people who came either came for the first or second time since I've been here. Like. Awesome... Things are just great. We split our area too, which makes it even more significant!!! We have been working very closely with the zone leaders, helping them with their maps, information about members, so forth. They also have no phone, so the past week we have been sticking pretty closely together with them. Other things that have happened this week: The LDSSA got approved. I feel very accomplished with that. The stake has desperately needed that for a long time. Grateful I was able to help in getting it set up. The other huge news has to do with family history. We scheduled an appointment with the head librarian at the closest library to our house to discuss the possibility of a family history class there. He LOVED the idea. We just found out the Mobile Public Library system is going to back it as their own program. All around Mobile we will be teaching classes on how to do family history. 2 times a month. And we should be able to turn those into teaching opportunities. That is HUGE. Like, amazing. We will be able to advertise at the libraries for the class, they will provide the resources... I am stoked. So. All in all, things here are just going wild. There is tons of work that is coming our way, and we have plans to have even more!!............. We have Elder Pino of the 70 coming this week to Crestview for a half mission conference. I am stoked about that!! Also, we have got a baptism coming up this Saturday. So pray for that!!! I am just so happy to be doing what I am doing. Serving God. I haven't found anything better than serving God with all of my heart might mind and strength. There is peace that you get that you can't get any other way. Your mind is clear, your heart becomes pure. It is worth all the effort that it takes to get here, to stay here, and to be apart from all of you. You all need to know that I love you, and would not be the person I am without you. Thank you so much!! Elder Smith

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lightning, goals and transfer

Last week Elder Smith and his companion saw a lightning strike about 500 feet in front of them and they saw the smoke it created after it hit the post! That's kind of scary! Also, in spite of illness related issues with he and his companion the past couple of weeks, there were successes! He said last week, “......we had a totally amazing week number wise!! We exceeded most all of our goals.......we are having a lot more investigators show up in our pool now. I am really looking forward to keeping it rolling! We have a baptismal date coming up on the 21st.” In today's letter he shared, “We had some crazy numbers this week. Like, totally crazy, let me tell you. We exceeded or met almost every single goal. We had 4 investigators to sacrament meeting! Most I've ever had, I believe. I also got news that TJ (an investigator we worked with extensively) got baptized. Man!! I am stoked!!!!! Our new baptismal date is with a part member family..... We got the husband, who hasn't been in at least 5 years, to come to church too!! Holler!.....” He went on to say that his week was awesome, things are cooking there big time and there are huge changes taking place. Sounds like he'll have a lot to update us on in the near future! This week is transfer week in Elder Smith's mission and he says that his current companion Elder Dattilo is heading to Tallahassee to go work with the missionaries in the mission that are waiting for their visas to come in so they can go to Brazil. He will be helping them learn Portuguese. Kevin is getting a new companion and his area (the zone) is getting split in to a Mobile North and a Mobile South zone. Elder Smith continues to work hard, be excited about the work and better himself as a person and servant of the Lord.

Monday, September 2, 2013

September's Hero......The late Elder Wiberg

My hero for the month is Jason Wiberg. For every reason possible. As you know, he was killed a week ago while serving as a missionary in Singapore. He was hit by a car while he was out biking. I am so moved by Elder Wiberg. He obviously had no idea he was going to get hit that day. He did not know that his final day on this earth was going to be spent serving in God's army. But I know he lived his life in a way that was pleasing to God. The scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, teaches me that this life is a time for us to prepare to meet God. And that this is a time for us to learn the lessons in the flesh that we need to learn in order to become like our Savior. As he was a missionary, we know that God trusted him with some amazing things. God trusted him with the calling to share his testimony full time with the world. He was given the Melchizedek Priesthood, which means he was worthy to act in God's name. He was representing the Savior himself until his very last breath. God obviously saw that he was righteous. Amazingly righteous. He learned all the lessons he needed to in this mortal life. I just think about him, and how righteous and Christlike he must have been like, in order for God to call him out of mortality like that. By the reaction of his parents, I think you can just see how solid he was. From what my mission president told me, his parents were handling it very well. Not cursing or questioning God, but showing true faith during undoubtedly the hardest time of their lives. I will forever be grateful for the exchange I had with him in the MTC. He was so happy. Excited to see me, wanted to talk with me, was so so stoked about going to the field to teach. He saw me, immediately gave me a hug, and asked how I was doing, told me how excited he was to see me. I cannot wait to have the same type of greeting on the other side of the veil. I really cannot say enough about Jason. But I will forever be grateful for the sacrifice he made on behalf of God's children. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865585314/Parents-couldnt-be-more-proud-of-late-LDS-missionary.html

Taking the opportunity to study

This past week has been a test! Elder Dattilo has been in bed sick most of the week. I have taken that opportunity to cook, clean, try to get fully better myself, and of course read the scriptures...........A lot of the people in the area are sick. For example, the last 3 people we went to see yesterday all missed church because of illness. And it seems to be pretty much the same stuff. Coughing and sinus stuff. Also, many of you know about my friend Jason Wiberg who passed away. Some of you have asked about how that is going, what it has been like. It has been a challenge. I was very saddened on Monday to hear that he had passed away. I saw him in the MTC. He was the happiest guy in that place. He was stoked to see me, I was very excited to see and talk to him. As you can probably imagine, this past week, with a ton of time inside, I had loads of time to reflect and think. Also, I was able to tell Elder Dearden, a friend from my ward who is in the same zone as me. We went out of the zone conference, cried it out for a minute, and then went back in. That was tough for him to hear, tough for me to tell him. Anyway, I know that Elder Wiberg is preaching the gospel in the spirit world right now. I know God will receive him into the Celestial kingdom, and that he was an amazing missionary. I am sad I won't get to see him again for a little while, but as the scriptures say over and over "the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ." Thank goodness for my knowledge of the plan of salvation. I don't know what I would do if I did not believe that was true. With the time I have been granted inside, I have used that time to really delve into the Book of Mormon......In conjunction with the August issue of the Ensign on how to study the scriptures and receive revelation, I feel like my testimony is greatly increasing. I am really studying the scriptures. I am making a map of the Book of Mormon, for example.......... I mention this just to let you know that i love the scriptures. I am making it my life long goal to be a student of God's word. I don't just want to scratch the surface, to get the easy and obvious things. I want to dive deeper. I want the mysteries of God to be unfolded before me. And as I've been reading in Alma, I have seen that God is willing to give us those mysteries, but we have to want them, and do all we can to receive them!........ Zone conference was super good. The food that brother leferink made was amazing! The alligator snapping turtle tail was super good. It was a huge hit. All the missionaries loved it, it seemed. I'm doing well though. Learning a lot, and I am happy with the person I am becoming. If only I could get there quicker. I love you!! Elder Smith