Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Experiencing the Hand of God

Greetings from Panama City! This week has been chalk full of excitement. It's crazy, really! Today we had a member buy our groceries for us. He approached us yesterday and explained that he takes all three set of missionaries to Walmart at the beginning of each month and buys their groceries... I was like, floored away. His name is brother Beard. We have been teaching up the wazoo too! We had 3 new investigators in 3 days, with 3 member present lessons, 2 other lessons, and 2 returning member/recent convert lessons in the past 3 days! It's hardly given us anytime to unpack. Especially because we know no one, nor where anyone lives. It has been quite the adventure for sure!! One of those investigators came from a young man requesting missionaries on mormon.org. He typed into Google "missionaries" because he wanted to learn how to go out and preach the gospel and touch peoples' lives. it popped up mormon.org and he requested us! But I need to share an experience that happened last night. Elder Douglas and I were leaving our apartment after eating dinner, and our neighbor, who was extremely drunk, was outside. This is not out of the ordinary, seeing as though he is always outside, drunk as a skunk. We started talking to him as usual, but what was not normal was the white guy standing there talking to him. Our neighbor was explaining that he needs us to watch out for him when he's intoxicated. We began asking question to the man standing next to him, who was not drunk. He explained he had just recently walked here from Montgomery, AL (some 250+ miles away). He then explained that he would be leaving tomorrow to walk to Colorado. He also informed us he had been in the army and had been deployed in Afghanistan. During his first week of deployment he lost his daughter the 1st week there. The third week there he got injured and kicked out of the military. All of his money went toward paying his daughter's funeral. Anyway, the idea popped in our head to call up a recent convert of ours who is on fire and ask him if he'd be available to meet us at the church to do a church tour. Brother Melander was at work, but said he'd be willing to leave work so he could come. So we went back over, and asked if he'd be willing to come on a tour of our church building. He agreed, and so we set out and walked with him to the church (we can't drive nonmembers). As we walked, we talked some more. He told us he left Alabama because his girlfriend kicked him out of the house, leaving him homeless and jobless. He was looking for direction and purpose in his life, and decided that walking somewhere would give it to him. He was hit by a truck into a "US Hwy 231" sign, which he took as his sign from God. He started down the 231 and ended up here, in Panama City. So we arrive at the church, Ben pulled up just in time. We take him on the tour of the church. Some of the feelings he expressed were "I've always been looking for some place where I felt at home" and "This all just makes sense" or "I feel like this is the reason why I came down here." He informed us at the end that he would not be leaving to Colorado tomorrow, but was going to stick around so he could learn more and attend church with us. Our member, Ben Melander, explained afterward that that had been the most spiritual experience of his life. I have to echo what he said. It was amazing. I felt the hand of God in my life. As I testified to this young man I felt the spirit so strongly that he had been sent here on a purpose, and that this had been the very thing he was looking for, that he walked miles upon miles to find. We have an appointment with him tonight, 7:15, at the church. I am so excited to see what the future holds, and cannot wait to testify that he will see and hold his beloved daughter again.
God is so great. I know that he lives, and the he directs me every single day. I love you!

Elder Smith

Monday, July 7, 2014

On the move again

5 companions in 5 transfers... What the?!  Yes, you heard correctly. I am again getting another companion! This time I am getting transferred. To Callaway, FL! Going to go be a district leader again, and I am so happy about it! I have loved the opportunity to serve the zones of Pensacola and Mobile, but my heart has been in district leading for sure. Like, for sure for sure. And God has given me another opportunity to do it! Can't believe the past 5 transfers though... It has been a whirlwind no doubt about it! Anywho, that is the news for this week!
I am also still itching! Today marks day 22. :) Haha it has honestly been more funny than anything else, at least at this point. I'm used to it now, and although it still drives me crazy, I have been able to laugh about it. I go to the allergy Dr tomorrow. Hopefully all goes well! :)
So Cody, the kid with the BCD(baptism commitment date), was at scout camp this past week! Brother Atwood said "he put the members to shame" during the testimony meeting. Apparently his testimony was so pure, and so great, it touched everyone there. I love that kid! It's too bad I won't be here to see him baptized. He was even telling everyone about his date to be baptized on August 3rd! I am so happy. This area is popping, let me tell you! We had 100% of our lessons to investigators taught with members present this week. 6 of them! That has never happened in this area. We had 5 nonmembers at church yesterday, along with 2 members trying to return to activity!! I know that God's hand is here. I know without a shadow of turning that he leads and guides me daily. I always get so frustrated because of my flaws and weaknesses, and it is just the biggest showing of his power that so much is happening here. Soon they will have 7 investigators to sacrament meeting here, mark my words! Well, today has got a lot in store for me, so off I go... I love you all so much!!

Elder Smith

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Many updates

Mom has been very delinquent in posting update for Elder Smith. Here are a few excerpts from recent weeks and this weeks email, along with some pictures. Enjoy!

"....Got back into by a member, and man that was awkward! They were so displeased.....
......Just saw a member at the library. That is always fun. We are actually eating at their place tonight! :) We taught a family history class at this library this week... We had about 20 non members between the 2 sessions show up! We also got to go on 2 trade offs! Actually, both have been spanish trade offs. It was so neat to be able to be spanish speaking for a day or two! Like, super fun.
We went to lambert's cafe, a super sweet place to eat down there. It is famous throughout the mission. It was a lot of fun! There is a HUGE outlet mall down there as well that we stopped at, Tangers. We played ultimate frisbee on the beach with the both foley companionships too. We stopped at alligator alley and at a thrift store down that way as well. It was a blast! We went down with the Daphne Elders. Anyway! Yes indeed. Zone training went very well! It was lots of fun. I love the zone we have. We've been going on tradoffs here pretty regularly. It's so great to get to know so many fantastic people personally week in and week out. Haha this past trade off there was a missionary who was looking through my ties and called after planning and asked if I would trade him... We ended up doing a 12 tie trade! Hahaha so funny. But it keeps things light and fun, and helps me connect with the missionaries. For the past 4 days now I have been itching soooo badly. Imagine insulation all over you... That is how it has felt. And boy has that been tough for me! It's kept me up at night. And it is extremely hard to be professional when you feel like you need to go grizzly bear style and scratch your back on the nearest tree!! Hahaha anyway. Things are good. I am really learning a lot. Recently the things I have been learning have been wayyyy different than I ever expected to learn. But I tell you, it has been amazing. I am just trying to change as much as I possibly can. And it ain't easy!! I sang in church with my companion this past week!..."

Now this week June 30th
"Today is the 15th day of the itching! But it is all good because I tied my course record in disc golf today. :) Haha but really! Can you believe it? The plan now is for me to get allergy tested in 2 weeks. Let's pray they get it figured out, cause I don't know how much longer my skin can handle the constant scratching! I went to another doctor this past week though. I have faith! At least it is just scratching, right??
Anyway. MLC is this week. It'll be a bit closer to home though, in Crestview, FL. We were able to set a baptismal date with possibly the most solid investigator I have ever taught this past week. He came to church yesterday, and went to scout camp today. He's 12 years old and just the kindest most sincere kid ever. His prayers are amazing. He speaks to God like he is speaking to his friend! He recently told us he was in 2 Nephi chapter 15... Wow! That has been a huge bright spot. We also had 2 other investigators come to church this past week. Things are really picking up. We taught the most lessons I have taught here in Fairhope this past week! Elder Miller and I seem to be more unified, understand one another better, and are teaching better. Happy to say that besides the itching, things are great!
I have been reading "Our Heritage" recently. And I have been floored at what is in there! I think I have neglected "my heritage" a little bit. Growing up, we know that the pioneers crossed the plains, we know Joseph Smith was tar and feathered, mocked, and killed. We know they were driven from place to place. But I had no idea all that went on. I still don't! But I have a much stronger desire to be obedient and follow the counsel of my leaders, and to give everything I have because of what they did for Jesus Christ. It makes me want to study it out even more!
Lastly, I am thrilled to hear about Drew's talk in church and the fun times that seems to have generated. I am sure there are some very bitter sweet times that will commence from now until he leaves, but I am so proud of him, and so glad you all are getting to witness these monuments in his life. I love each of you! And pray that you all will have a Spirit filled week. :)"
Elder Smith