Monday, June 18, 2018

Tender Mercies

Aloha!

Sorry for the late email, I actually have no excuse I just straight up forgot to send an email until now. Whoops.

Not a whole lot to report this week, no real sit down lessons just some doorway conversation and service. Still little successes here and there but a lot of people have been dropping us or just losing interest. All in all we are looking to reboot the area and just find a ton of different people, we have some fun ideas planed to get the ward involved because that really is the key here. Members don't always realize the power that they have in missionary work, we are aiming to show them that power.

We went on two exchanges this week and I took over the area both times. The first was with my favorite sole Elder Fanene where we ended up getting challenged by some members to eat a super spicy pepper. We have a pretty funny video of it that I'm trying to send but email is being difficult. The second exchange was with Elder Chandler and we were able to make a cool video about how to use Facebook effectively in missionary work. All in all both were fun and informative.

The highlight of the week came Sunday night, after a week of pretty much nothing I was getting a little down on myself. Slow weeks aren't fun to have when you only have 9 weeks left, so I had a heart to heart with God for some kind of confirmation that my time here is well spent. On our way home from street contacting at night a random kid ran up to me and said "Elder Smith is that you?" I looked at him and realized it was John and his mom Leslie, two people I taught while I was in Honolulu about a year ago. I ended up taking some time to catch up with them and found out that missionaries recently started going by again and they are going to be baptized next month. Apparently ever since me and Elder Lewis taught him about baptism all that time ago he has been wanting to do it like crazy but because that ward got whitewashed 4 times I about 8 months he and his mom sorta slipped through the cracks. But they are all in now and they started thanking us for what we taught them, a lesson I hadn't even thought about for months.
I want to testify to you guys that when you open your mouth about the gospel you are making a difference, even if we don't see it in the moment someone will be touched by it, I promise you. I'm so grateful that my heavenly father gave me this tender mercy.

But that's all for this week, love you all and hope that you all find a way to serve your neighbor this week. Be bold, God is with you!

Elder Smith
Hawai'i Honolulu Mission

1. The moment before the pain set in
2. Me with Leslie and John
(Not a lot of pics this week)



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

It's Not Even Summer Yet

Holy cow it's hot here. Just saying.
Anyway this week has been a fun one, lots and lots of biking and lots and lots of sweating. Honestly I don't know what I'm going to do when July and August roll around, I might just melt. Despite the heat we were still able to get some solid work done, we did a couple service projects for people in the ward and held a couple lessons.

We have been working with some of our investigators like Cody, Casey, and the Newhouse family who are all making progress it's just slow progress haha. We decided that we need to focus more of our energy on finding new people to teach so we will take one day a week to just walk and talk to everyone that we know, we did that this week and had a good time but we accidentally picked the hottest day of the week. Met some cool people, some less than cool people, and some bashers so all in all an average day in missionary land.

Today though we had the awesome opportunity to go as a zone to the temple in Laie. As usual it was an amazing experience and really made me appreciate how blessed we are to have the miracle of modern day temples. Never take them for granted.

Wish I could write more but we still have lots of P-day things to do and not a lot of time to do them so love you all and hope you have an awesome week, promise next week's email will be better. Aloha!

Elder Smith
Hawai'i Honolulu Mission

Makakiloooo!


 District Meeting selfie


The Laie Temple




Makakilo Zone: Elders Taka, me, Gunderson, Lambert, Fanene, Furner, Andrus, Blackmore, Cowden, and Chandler with Sisters Chappel and Fifita

Monday, June 4, 2018

It's Hot, I'm Always Tired, and I Love it

Early in the week someone asked me how I'm liking the Makakilo Ward so far and I responded with the above title. It's a pretty accurate sum up of this week.

We had a pretty fun Pday last Monday, we hiked to Kaena Point then after met up with the Kapolei, Kalaeloa, and Palehua elders to have a nerf war. Turned out to be really fun!

Some of the highlights of this week were our lessons, we taught a Samoan lady named Mona the plan of salvation while eating at a McDonald's, she was a little skeptical of it but loved the concept of family history and temple work so we will see what we can do about that. We taught the law of tithing to Sebastian and he thought it was awesome and said it totally made sense (honestly this guy is straight golden). My favorite lesson of the week was with the Newhouse family. All day leading up to the lesson we were texting members to see who would be able to come and no one answered, finally about 30 minutes before the lesson Sister Kaumaitotoya said she felt like she needed to go. We had dinner with the family and Sister Kaumaitotoya started talking to Ilisha (the mother of the family), turns out Ilisha is an online college professor who teaches through Louisiana State, the same college that Sister K (I can only type out her name so many times) is starting up online courses for soon. The coincidence was pretty nuts but I think everyone in the room knew that it wasn't a coincidence. One of our main focuses with the Newhouses has been to try to find them some friends in the ward and that was just too perfect, miracles can be simple and impactful. After the dinner we had a super solid lesson about listening to the prompting of the spirit and they revommitted to reading the Book of Mormon daily, I know that as long as they keep that commitment they will be baptized very soon, all we can do is pray and guide though.

With the good also comes the bad though Haha, we had a not so solid lesson with Mexican woman named MariElayna which was pretty comedic. She told us that she had a dream the night before that two well dressed young men had come to her covered in light and offered to help her. We thought that was pretty dope but apparently she severely misinterpreted the dream and was convinced that it meant she was supposed to teach us about God hahaha. We tried to have a conversation with her but she was a stubborn one, kinda hard to teach someone who believes in God but doesn't believe in scripture/doesn't believe in anything you preach out of scripture. Oh well, win some and lose some, we'll try her again in the distant future.

Aside from that we did a lot of service this week, chapel cleaning, weed wacking, rock moving, more weed wacking. It was a good time. That combined with all the hill biking we have had to do has pretty much wiped me out completely. I'm getting too old for this kind of stuff.

But yeah that's thus weeks summary, the ward is awesome, the work is good, my companion keeps me in line, and the church is still true (I know, crazy right?). Love you all and hope your week is awesome! Aloha!

Elder Smith
Hawai'i Honolulu Mission


Servin'


They wouldn't take our BoM but we took their magazine


Me and Lambchop
 

My leg five 60 seconds into weed wacking



Gnarly yard we got to clean up


Reunited with my old friend Sister Iino from back in my original district #DaKingdom


Waiting to get picked up for church (spoiler alert: our ride never came)


Us and Sebastian


Most of the zone at a baptism in Kapolei ft. guest appearances from Elder Orihuela and AP Porter

Monday, May 28, 2018

It's Like Riding a Bike

Aloha from the island of O'ahu!

Well this has been a fun first week in the new area. For those of you who don't know Makakilo is on the far west side of the island and is one of the driest places in the mission, it is sunny as heck to the point where I might actually have to invest in a pair of sunglasses, and it's about 90% hills. Throw in the fact that we are on bikes and you have the perfect recipe for a very long week. I guess I said I didn't want these last few months to crawl by so God delivered. Careful what you ask for folks!

In all seriousness though this is a pretty awesome area, there are lots of people we can talk to and many opportunities to help people daily. My new companion Elder Lambert has that greenie fire burning and we are excited to see what we can get done over here.

The week is all kinda a blur but we had some dope lessons. We met with the Newhouse ohana and taught them a lesson on the role of prophets in our lives. They had a solid understanding and totally agreed with what we said, I think all four of them have serious potential.

Another awesome lesson we had was with Sebastian Stanley, a 23 year old who has been investigating for awhile. He was super receptive to what we taught so we invited him to be baptized. He said he wanted to but he is moving to the mainland in a couple weeks and would prefer to do it then so his girlfriend can be there. Aside from that hiccup it was super solid and I don't doubt that he will get baptized soon.

The ward itself has some pretty awesome members that I am still trying to get straight, and everyone is making sure to let me know that I am almost done with my mission. Also they always ask what area I came from and when they hear Ka'u they act like I survived a war zone so it's pretty dang funny to see they're reaction (Pretty much did survive a war zone tbh). But so far my favorite person is AlohaLyn, a Filipino aunty who we live behind. She has already adopted me as one of her son's so this should be a fun time.

But time is running short and I still have like 4,000 things to do before the day is out, hope you all had a great week and continue to be awesome examples of Christians. Love you all, Aloha!

Elder Smith
Hawai'i Honolulu Mission

1500 S. Beretania St. ste. 416
Honolulu, HI 96826

1. Elder Lambert
2. Me, Owens, and Chau in the Hilo airport
3. Me, Elder Fanene and Elder Furner hanging out at Kaena Point on Pday, we have better pics I just don't have them yet





Monday, May 21, 2018

1 Week, 2 Apostles, 3 Ash Days, 4 Elders

You know I've been living on God's earth a little over two decades now but I don't think I have ever experienced a week that went by quite this slow. Buckle your seatbelts because this is probably the most unconventional missionary email you've read in awhile.

So Monday, a couple hours after sending last week's email, we get a call from our ZLs (Elders Collins and Fakahau) who say that President Bekker felt strongly that we needed to get out of Ka'u asap. We were in the middle of a hike to the Kawa black sand beach when it happened so we finished things up there and spent the rest of the day packing up everything we owned. That evening we took all of our stuff to the Kea'au Elder's (Elders Dorrough and Owens) pad and converted their place into a four man pad. We didn't know how long we would be there we just decided to roll with it.

Tuesday proves that the church is in fact true because that morning we found out that mere hours after leaving Ka'u a huge ash cloud hit Pahala (The northern most town in our area) and air quality was dropping like crazy. Vog and sulfur levels have only risen since then, it's still pretty bad.

Despite that we had an amazing opportunity to hear from two different apostles on Tuesday as well. Elder Holland and Bednar were in Laie giving a devotional to the students at BYU-H but wanted to do a special devotional for the missionaries. All the outer island missionaries were able to Skype in so we could hear too. Many great things were said but my favorite was Elder Holland talking about how serving a mission isn't just something we check off a list, it is what sets us on a trajectory for the rest of our lives. If nothing else the church can expect us each to have one convert, ourselves. It hit me pretty hard since I'm getting towards the end of the mission and gave me the kick in the pants I needed to finish strong.

Sadly the kick in the pants needed to wait a little longer because early Thursday morning we had another volcanic eruption only this one was slightly more explosive than the previous ones. LOTS of sulfur got kicked up from that one and President told the whole Hilo Zone to stay indoors for the day and to use best judgment from then on. The air in Kea'au was pretty bad so while the others were able to start working again after a day the four of us got stuck inside for three straight days. We messaged investigators, updates records, and cleaned everything we could think of and still had time to spare. We played every board game and card game imaginable but cabin fever started to hit us pretty hard. It's a good thing the four of us like each other or else we might have just gone crazy.

So Saturday eventually rolled around and transfer news came in. I got word that I am transferring back to the island of O'ahu and will now be serving in the Makakilo Ward on the west side of the island. My companion will be Elder Lambert who is only three months out and just so happens to be my grandson (he was trained by my "son" Elder Hayes). I am pretty excited to be going back to the rock and am looking forward to seeing what adventures my last area has in store for me.

We journeyed back Ka'u on Sunday so I could say goodbye to the ward. The volcano has really affected the air down there in the last week, it was pretty ugly. I am really going to miss this place though, I have really come to love the people here and see just how the spirit works on individuals. The ward is very loving and while they will probably all have forgotten my name in a matter of months I know that I made a difference here and that they have all changed my life.

Well that's the basic rundown of our rather odd week. Grateful for the experience but excited to get back to actual missionary work this next week. Adventure is out there!

Elder Smith
Hawai'i Honolulu Mission

1500 S. Beretania St. ste. 416
Honolulu, HI 96826

Me and the Makuakanes (One of my favorite families)


Me and Moki Simmons (EQ President)



Me and Ferrin with Ethan Kobzi, a hilarious kid we are teaching


This went on for 3 hours


When the air quality is junk but you still need a haircut

Me and Mandy (super fun investigator)

Me with Josh Viernes, our recent convert who is just an amazing person


Me with Gary and Candice Kaawa, a family we are teaching that I absolutely love


Me and the Sherlines

Monday, May 14, 2018

Hold Your Breath

Aloha friends and family.

This is probably going to be a shorter email since there isn't a whole lot to report on aside from the weather. So last week I made the comment that mother nature couldn't stop the work, buuut I did find this week that she can slow it down.

So for those that haven't been following the news this week Kilauea's eruptions near Pahoa are ongoing. We had a couple quiet days but a few more small quakes opened up a couple more lava vents. We are pretty far (about 40 miles) from where the lava is but because of the way the wind is blowing we are getting the vog and ash worse than anyone. Some days are worse than others but it made it really hard for us to find anyone since people just barricaded themselves indoors. Also almost everyone we teach has allergies of some kind so they were all getting sick from the air. President Bekker told us to stay put unless things get worse so all week has been a bit of a waiting game.

The media is saying that if the lava continues to drop in the main vent that it will eventually hit the water table which will cause a decent size eruption. The surrounding area has already been evacuated but IF that happens Ka'u would get hit by a good size ash cloud and we would all need to evacuate. That being said this probably just the media blowing things out of proportion so only time will tell.

Sadly not a lot of missionary work to report on, mostly just checking in with our investigators and making sure they are all good. We did exchange one day this week and I went into the Kea'au ward with Elder Owens. Let me tell you, I don't know if there was something in the water up there but everyone we talked to was in a bad mood. I've met plenty of rude people in the last 21 months but I'd never been given death threats before. I got three that day so look at me go. (One guy told us he was a mercenary named Diablo so we didn't spend a whole lot of time on his property).

Anywho that's all I can really report on this week. Transfer news is rolling in next week and odds are I will be moving to my last area. Hoping that my last week in Ka'u picks up but regardless I am happy with the chance I have had to live the country life for a few months. Love you all and keep the faith 🤙

Elder Smith
Hawai'i Honolulu Mission

1500 S. Beretania St. ste. 416
Honolulu, HI 96826


Only pic I took this week. Sent this in to the mission office with our mileage report. It's a basic summary of what my Big Island experience has been like over the last 6 months

Monday, May 7, 2018

Pompeii

Well we made it through the week despite Pele's best efforts. Just a quick rundown of the week and just so you know not a whole lot of actual missionary work got done sadly. Still a very memorable week regardless.

Last Monday was a fun Pday, we traveled around with the Kea'au and Keaukaha elders and hit up a lot of shops around Hilo. Had to grab some Big Island specific tourist-like things while I'm here.

That night we exchanged with Kea'au so I went back to the Ka'u area with Elder Owens, only to have to turn BACK around and go to Kea'au again because Elder Owens accidentally brought his car keys with him. So by the time that round trip was done the day was half gone and we were only able to see a couple people. We did make French toast with the YW though so that was pretty dope.

Wednesday we went up to Hilo for interviews with President Bekker and that was another awesome experience. We talked through the ways Ka'u has improved and what needs to happen to really help it spring forward (basically whether this area should still have Elders or not). I gave him my two cents (that it should) but we will see what happens when transfers roll around in a couple weeks.

Thursday me and Elder Ferrin started week planning and felt a couple small earthquakes through out the day, nothing to worry about through. That evening however we went up to Kea'au again to help those elders be in two places at once only to find out right after we got there that Kilauea (Big Island's volcano) just erupted in Pahoa and that Leilani Estates was being evacuated because of it. We being the geniuses that we are of course went straight to Pahoa to see if there was anything we could do to help. The situation was pretty much under control but lots of people are having to live in shelters right now. Pretty sad, though no one was hurt. Not much you can do about a volcano except let it run its course and get out of the way.

Friday we carpooled with the Kea'au elders up to Waimea for the Big Island Zone Conference. The theme of the conference was building your personal testimony. Halfway through the conference during a special musical number we were hit by a 5.4 earthquake that shook the building pretty good. After confirming that the rest of the island was still there we went on with the program. About an hour later while having lunch we were hit by another quake that was a bit more violent (6.9) but ultimately we were all fine and nobody got hurt. We were pretty far from the epicenter so I guess having the conference so far north was inspired (Usually the conference is in Hilo which is where the quake was worst). We kept on going though and finished out the conference. I was called on to give a talk so I shared a bit on overcoming doubts and improving our personal conversion, it was a fun time.

With all that behind us we started calling our members and investigators to see if they were ok. Everyone came out alright however there was a bit of a scare since Punalu'u was showing signs of tsunami, but it passed without an incident (Punalu'u is about a 10 minute drive from where I live). All in all hectic day but not one that will be forgotten.

Saturday and Sunday were really our only days to proselyte and they were pretty slow. Given the craziness of the rest of the week I was kinda ok with that. Saturday we went to a Coffee festival in Pahala and mingled with a bunch of different people. Sunday we once again taught most of Elders Quorum and did our usual visits. One of our investigators Gary Kaawa is down with a bad infection on his foot so we taught him about priesthood blessings and gave him one. It was an awesome and super spiritual experience. Good way to close out the week.

Sorry this email was so long, just figured you all wanted to know about everything that went down. We are all safe and still waiting to see what the church wants us to do to aid the relief efforts. The missionaries serving in Pahoa and Waikahe have been temporarily moved to another pad but they are still proselyting in their areas. Also Elder Ferrin's eyes are not liking all the vog and sulfur in the air right now so prayers for him. And as a closing note the glow from the volcano at night legit looks like Hell, sketchy but cool at the same time. Anywho have a great week and know that not even the forces of nature can stop this work from progressing.

Lava you guys!

Elder Smith

Hawai'i Honolulu Mission
1500 S Beretania St. ste 416
Honolulu HI 96826

1. May 1st was Lei Day. No idea what's it's celebrating and I don't think anyone else does either I just used it as an excuse to wear my Kukui nut lei
2. While on exchanges a member gave me and Elder Owens a huge spider decoration so naturally I put it in Elder Ferrin's bed. He wasn't a fan, I had a good time though.
3. Cain Spider, the second most annoying venomous pest in Ka'u
4. Didn't know you could make clothes that broke the word of wisdom. Science man.
5. The Pahala festival had Krispy Kreme donuts so naturally we grabbed some.
6. I was very excited to eat a donut
7. Hilo Zone