Monday, September 18, 2017

First Week as a Trainer


Has it only been a week? Feels like it's been a month (in a good way). Its funny how when you do something new on the mission it just makes time crawl. I have definitely learned a lot this past week and will continue to learn a lot over the next couple months. So my son's name is Elder Hayes and he is from Aurora, Colorado (still no Utah comps, that's five). The first and most unusual thing about him is a difficulty that he has with his left leg, namely that he doesn't have one. So yeah that was a bit of a surprise on Tuesday when President pulled me aside to give me a heads up. His leg was amputated when he was 6 because of cancer in his knee but he has some pretty fancy prosthetic so he is actually a para-olympian gold medalist. Basically I took that as a "don't go easy on him" so right after we dropped his stuff off and did some studying I took him door to door and visiting people for 4 hours, he was tired but then after we got back to the pad I found out that working in the humidity that long actually kinda messed up his leg and potentially damaged the skin... soooo I decided that maybe we needed to plan our day a little smarter and avoid that happening again. He doesn't want me to go easy on him and he is a hard worker but I just don't want to cause a problem that will get him sent home. So now instead of doing our studies in the morning we work in the morning and study in the afternoon so he has time to let his leg air out. It's still a trial and error process but we are figuring it out.

Lesson wise we had a meeting with our former with-date Ikaika and tried to reset him for a baptism date, but I think we need to do a better job explaining the why and less of the what when it comes to these things. He is a bit of a slow learner so there is slow progress with him but we are hopeful. On top of that the senior couple (Elder and Sister Anderson) brought a couple to our ward that might be interested in taking the lessons. We met them on Sunday, their names are Francis and Felicia and they are from Ghana. We didn't get to talk to them much but they seemed really open and said they would come back next week. Also that senior couple is working with another couple who they are bringing next week from Haiti so we are bringing in all the Africans. We are very hopefully about these people and looking forward to the chance of teaching them.

So yeah it has been a long week but a good week, I hope Elder Hayes isn't sick of me yet but if he is that's alright, he's stuck with me. Oh yeah we also got majorly cussed out but a very angry man yesterday because we "cut him off" in traffic. He claimed that he hated our church and was a Catholic and many other things that I will not repeat. The moral is if your mad at someone or being dumb please don't throw your religion at them because I have met lots of wonderful Catholics on my mission and this guy was just disgracing them. Remember that you represent more than just yourself out there.

Anyway love you all and remember to keep spreading the word.
Ofa atu

Elder Smith

Monday, September 11, 2017

Transfer Week


Well I actually have a lot to say so buckle up.

First things first this is transfer week and as such on Saturday we all get notified about leadership calls, about halfway through the day I get a call which didn't really phase me because I figured I was going to get re-called to District Leader (which i was fine with because I know how to do that). So I chatted with President Bekker and he said to me "Elder Smith I've prayed about it and I would like to call you to be a trainer" and I had no clue what to say. Naturally I accepted the calling but I was a little more than uneasy about it so needless to say these next 12 weeks will be very very interesting. I do not know who my new companion will be because President doesn't finalize that until the day before (so tonight) and I will meet him tomorrow morning. This will also be interesting to see because I don't have the area 100% down yet. Elder Fa'alavaau is being transferred to my old area in Hon-west and he will be training also so we are freaking out together. I gave him a bunch of names for him to check up on while he's there so he won't be going in completely blind.

In Waipiolani news we had a really solid lesson with the Elizinga family, they have had a hard time keeping commitments but we are seeing small but sure changes in them, especially Tika (the dad who is a less active). They told us that they are very grateful for us and that though we may not be able to see it we are having a positive impact on their life, it was really nice to hear and I can tell that whether they know it or not they are coming closer to Heavenly Father. We also had the chance to briefly meet up with Junior who we met at the Stake car wash a few weeks back, we set up a time to see him so hopefully we will be able to continue on that this next week.

In world wide news it was recently revealed to our mission that starting in 2018 all of the missions in the united states will begin transitioning to using smart phones. I don't believe that there has been an official announcement on it yet but the guy in the church that oversees all technology was vacationing in Hawai'i and told all the ZL's and they told us. I'm not fully convinced that this isn't some mission wide prank but if it is true it will definitely change the way we work a lot. I'll keep you posted on that.

All in all it has been quite the week and lots to do in the weeks to come. Keep me in your prayers because I am for sure going to need them.

Love you all!

Elder Smith

Monday, September 4, 2017

Waipiolani News


Well we had anther enjoyable week in Waipiolani. It was a tad slow this week but nonetheless enjoyable. The main problem is still getting the people we are working with to follow through with commitments, we had a really good lesson with the Elzinga family and talked to them about how important it is to maintain doing the little things like church, reading, and prayer so that we can gain our testimonies and be truly converted to the gospel. They agreed that they needed to work harder at this if they want to know that it is true... then they overslept and didn't come to church (the one drawback to morning church). Sooo we are still working with them and trying to get them to put forth a little more effort. Keep them in your prayers because they are so close to knowing this is true.

Elder Fa'alavaau had to go to Honolulu to get his blood levels checked (he has a mechanical valve, I call him Cyborg) and we drove all the way there only to find out his appointment was for the next day. So we went to Honolulu again the next day and had his actual appointment. The downside was that was a good amount of driving but the upside is I got to drive through my old area twice so that was pretty cool. Also we got to go to Pearl Harbor again this week (my eighth time) and swept through a bunch of the decks. This morning we had a pad inspection so our place actually looks nice now (pics below) and yeah that about sums up this week.

This past week I was reading in the Book of Mosiah and saw the story of Alma the Elder and his people being suppressed by Amaron and the Lamanites, the unique thing about this story is that instead of the Lord liberating his people immediately he allowed them to be tried and tested through their struggles to see if they would remain faithful (which they did). Along the way though he still heard their prayers and gave them the strength to overcome their trials, he didn't change their circumstance, he just helped them overcome them. I have seen this apply to me a ton over the past year, I was very overwhelmed when I first got out here, but every day as I prayed for help I could feel the Lord their strengthening me, he didn't make the work easier, he just made me better. Little by little. So yeah just some thought for the coming week.

Love you all and thanks for all you do!

Elder Smith

Monday, August 28, 2017

Share What You Know


This week was quite the blur. Most of our investigators were busy this week so that was kinda sad. But we still have hope that they will progress, just remember to keep Ikaika and the Elzinga Ohana in your prayers, they need help keeping commitments. The frustrating thing about work is sometimes we get caught up in the idea that we are only successful if our investigators are doing everything we want them to, but it's important to remember that everyone has their agency and we can only judge our success on how well we invite them to come unto Christ and utilize his atonement. The same goes for member missionary work as well, we can talk ourselves out of sharing the gospel because we think that they will say no, but that isn't what matters. Success in sharing them gospel is not determined by what they say but instead by how much effort we make to testify. Just some thoughts to have this week!

So Elder Fa'alavaau and I were out doing our thing when we saw a less active washing his car. We struck up a conversation with him and got to know him a little better. We found out he is on probation and just got out of prison. He asked if we could share a scripture and the first one that came to mind was Ether 12:6 which says that a witness shall come after the trial of thy faith. We testified to him that as we remain faithful through our trials that we will gain a stronger testimony and become faithful because of, and not in spite of, hard times. He started to tear up and said that that day he was very tempted to begin his "old habits" and that because of our message he knows that God is mindful of him and loves him. He thanked us a ton and it was a really cool experience.

In other news me and Elder Fa'alavaau are still going strong and trying to spread the word. The members are still great and the work is moving forward, even if it isn't quite as fast as we'd like. Also the our two most solid Investigators just got poached by the Samoan Ward so that was a bittersweet moment. Aside from that the week has been great!!

Have a wonderful week and remember that everyone has the chance to share what they know.

Love you all!
Elder Smith

Monday, August 21, 2017

Spreading the Word


So this has been a pretty eventful week . I am still working on getting to know my area but it is coming along little by little. This ward continues to be amazing and I have been able to meet so many great members with a lot of great intent to share the gospel. We had a harder time getting people to church this week but I believe that they are still heading in the right direction. We are just going to need to be better about getting on them about keeping commitments.

We had a really cool stake activity this week where the wards put on a huge free car wash and the missionaries took the people on chapel tours. I have done this in my other areas too but this was much more successful. Elder Fa'alavaau and I were able to give 6 tours and the other companionships were about the same. We got a lot of solid referrals out of it and one or two of them were from our area. The members really made the difference, they put the word out and personally invited a lot of friends. It was all in all a great time and I hope to be able to see this happen more regularly (the stake is considering doing this every 3 months).

On top of this we had a zone conference up in Laie where we learned more about the atonement of Christ and how it is the central point of doctrine that covers our whole church and what gives everything meaning. During the training we had to teach the restoration but tie every point into the atonement. I thought it would be awkward but the more we thought about it and taught by the spirit the more we realized how the atonement really does tie in to everything in this gospel. It's a beautiful thing.

Aside from that it was a pretty typical week of hitting the pavement and visiting less actives, always a fun thing to do. But that's all I have to report this week, hope everyone is spreading the word and being an example. Alofa atu!

Elder Smith

1. Klaassen and Vanshaar
2. Me with my "dad" and "brother"
3. Me and Campbell
4.  Elder Fa'alavaau

Monday, August 14, 2017

One Year Down

Aloha Ohana!

So this week has been a pretty great one. We were able to teach a couple lessons to the Elzinga family and Ikaika Stuart which were both great and the highlight of the week was that they all came to church! So that was great. They are all set with baptismal dates right now but we might have to push a few of them back. They are all progressing though which is always great to see. There are a pair of Samoan girls named Va'e and Tu'ua that are also set with baptismal dates but I haven't had the chance to meet them yet because they have been with family in Waipahu, so hopefully it will work out this week.

A big thing I have thought about this week is how much I took the gospel for granted growing up. I was used to people in my old area having hard times because it was mostly low income housing but this is a much nicer area and yet there are still so many people in unfortunate circumstances. The thing is it almost all stems from someone in the family going against the commandments of God. Some of these family situations are so uncertain and sketchy that it makes me so grateful to have a relatively normal upbringing.

On another note it was really weird to hit my year mark this week. Crazy that a year ago i was a nervous little boy in the MTC, playing beach volleyball with Elder Johnson. A lot has changed since then and a lot will continue to change. I can't wait to see what else there is to do in this area.
Well I don't have time to write much else but just know that this ward is taking great care of us and that me and Elder Fa'alavaau are getting along great. Keep praying for us and we will keep the work going! Love you all!

Elder Smith

Monday, August 7, 2017

Loving Mililani


So this has been an insanely long week, but in a good way. On Tuesday morning we finished packing up the pad and went off to transfer meeting. It was awesome being able to see so many people again and catch up with a few past comps. After saying goodbye to Elder Lewis I met up with Elder Fa'alavaau and we drove to Mililani to start working. I have never been to the central part of O'ahu so it has been really cool to see this area, it is way more beautiful than my last area and the work here is great. This was by far the most warm welcome I have ever gotten into a ward, they all made a point to talk to me, I've met most of the auxiliary leaders already, members have us over all the time, and the best part is they actually volunteer to help us out a lot and give us referrals. I am not one to compare areas but I have a feeling that this ward is going to be my favorite area. My new comp is cool too, he still has his greenie fire so that is awesome to be working with, on top of that the ward loves him. He was born in American Samoa and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. His parents are converts so he has a soft spot for missionary work, he likes a lot of the same nerdy stuff as me so we get along just fine.

In terms of the work we have a handful of investigators we are teaching but I am still in the process of meeting them. There's this kid named Ikaika who we are getting involved in cub scouts and a part member family named the Elzingas that seem really solid. So all in all I love the area, the ward, and the work. I really am at a point now where I just love doing this, it isn't just a duty anymore, it's a privilege.

I had the opportunity to talk this past week with a member in the ward that has been excommunicated and is working on coming back, he told me that God has released him from his covenants because it was recognized that he wasn't mature enough to uphold them so he needs to reevaluate himself before he recommits to the covenants. He basically testified to me that even the church's discipline is an example of our Father's love for us. I think it is the biggest testimony builder in our Heavenly Father's love for us, that he is always willing to take us back.

So yeah that is my first impressions of the area. More to come for sure. Didn't grab any pics this week but I have some more that I took from Hon-West.

Love you all and can't wait to tell you more about Mililani!

Love and Aloha,
Elder Smith