Monday, December 26, 2016

Best Christmas Present


So since I just talked to the fam yesterday there isn't much for me to update you on, but I just wanted to say that it was so good to hear from you guys yesterday. That was the best Christmas present I could have gotten. But yeah the rest of my Christmas was awesome, a bunch of the missionaries met up and we watched church videos and ate food and just had a grand time. I love this district, they're the best people I could have asked for. Speaking of that some of us decided to check out a nearby national park called Temple Valley which is literally just full of temples of various religions. We checked out an awesome Buddhist temple and got to see a lot of the cultural stuff there. All in all it has been a solid p-day. Here's a few pics for ya. (Sadly I have not been given the pics of Saidee's baptism yet, next week for sure. The baptism was awesome, so happy I got to baptize her!)

Hope you guys had an awesome Christmas. Meant to share this earlier but when you have the time you should look at Alma's testimony of Christ in Alma 7 (starts in verse 10 if I remember correctly). It's become one of my favorite passages this Christmas season. Love you all!

Mele Kalikimaka!
Elder Smith

Here are some Christmas morning pics and pics of the Buddhist temple visit today.

Face Time, We Love You!

Elder Smith's mom here - it was SO great to talk to him over Face Time for Christmas day! A wonderful, long conversation and there were smiles all around. We sure love our Hawaii missionary. We miss him but we wouldn't want him to be anywhere else!

Look at that wide, genuinely happy smile! The light of Christ shines in him. Best Christmas gift ever!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Busy Week


So this has been a fairly hectic week, not to say that we had more lessons sadly but we did do a lot of things. First things first we had mission tour, what that means is that all the missionaries on the island of Oahu got together and heard from Elder Curtis of the Seventy (he gave a talk last conference about the religious freeze in Ghana). His talk was amazing and focused on having faith. He was so cool and the spirit was so strong, it really did show me that we need to have faith at all times, whether our situation is good, bad, or hopeless. Faith leads to actions and that's how miracles happen. After that we helped a recent convert make a 12 days of Christmas video that has apparently gone viral in Hawaii so I'm basically famous. The next day we did Pearl Harbor and so me and some of the other missionaries did service on the USS Missouri. It was nice I got to know some of the Elders and Sisters that I haven't had the chance to get to know since they got here. Then we got to take a tour of the ship. Always a blast! But yeah so for the rest of the week we did our usual thing and went on some splits with other Elders in the zone so I got to work a day with Elder Mitchell and a day with Elder Villanueva both of which were great. I love those guys. Also yesterday we had a meeting with a lot of the ward auxiliaries and basically laid down what we expect from the ward. It was really nerve racking because I feel weird telling adults how to do their calling but I definitely think it was necessary. They all seem on board with our plans so hopefully we will start to see an increase in productivity. Elder Boyd and I are excited to be busy. Also excited for our baptism this Christmas Eve. Hope Christmas is going well for everyone and that you keep on lighting the world. Mele Kalikimaka!

Attaching pics. You're welcome!

Can't wait to talk to the fam on Christmas!

Love you all,
Elder Smith

Pearl Harbor

The MTC roomies together again

Japan and California!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Adventures in Hawaiian Island Driving

Dearest Ohana,

Hey! Glad to hear that things are altogether good on the mainland. Things are continuing to be slower than we would like here in Kaneohe, on the plus side we did get a new ward missionary who is pumped to help us get the ward more focused on missionary work. Basically we have exhausted our options in terms of what we can do on our own so were are pretty dependent on members for finding new people.

We did meet with Sadie this week and it went well, she is solid and I'm looking forward to her baptism on Christmas Eve. We also had a pretty good meeting with the Cupchoy family, he is going to be a tough nut to crack because he asks a lot of existential questions and is a deep thinker (really nice though) so we'll see where things go with him. I think his wife is a lot more open to it though, she said that she felt something good inside last time we were there so we're getting somewhere. Fingers crossed we don't mess this up.

So one night this past week my companion was feeling awful (he has a lot of health issues) and so we decided to call the mission nurse, she set up an appointment for us to see a doctor the next morning. She gave us the address at 8:45 or so and we didn't recognize the street and figured it was in another ward's boundaries so we drove down to the Zone Leaders pad and got their GPS. We entered the address and turns out it was in Honolulu. So at that point the appointment was in 30 minutes and so we raced down the freeway at the whopping speed of 45 mph (the speed limit here on the island) and eventually got lost in the ghetto part of Honolulu. Very sketchy place. But yeah eventually we found this hole in the wall doctors office and everything was taken care of but what a morning. Also later that week I got lost on a marine base and accidentally drove into an airfield. That was fun. Terrifying, but fun.

Anyway I think that that is all I have to update you on. I took some pics but left my camera at home. I'll try to send them later today.

Love you guys!
Mele Kalikimaka!
Elder Smith

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mele Kalikimaka!

What up fam?

So here's how it's all been. This week in the mission field was pretty mediocre. Lots of cancellations and not enough lessons. We had a sit down with mission president (who just showed up at our pad, I thought that only happened in The Best Two Years movie) and he advised us on some ways that we could work more with the ward council so we will be trying to work with them and hopefully we will see some improvement. Prayers are always nice though :)

So is Moana taking over the mainland like it is here in Hawaii? I've heard a bit of the music just from members listening to it and whatnot and it sounds pretty solid. I would expect nothing less from Hamilton himself.

I definitely do not and will not pick up all of Hawaii Pidgin, you basically have to be born and raised here in order to speak it (and sometimes even understand it) but there are some really common terms that I have picked up. For example Pau means finished or done, Kapuno means senior citizen, and Pordague means someone that really likes to talk (we use that last one a lot with some of the Kapunos around here). But yeah I'd say more than anything my pronunciation some words has changed a bit. Hearing the way people on the mainland say Ukulele just sounds weird to me now. I will always be a haole but I at least don't want to sound like a tourist.

Elder Boyd is pretty cool. He's from some small town outside of Mesa, Arizona and is the third of six boys. He's a good missionary and we get along great but he sure as heck is different than Zollinger. We still don't quite have teaching together down to a science but we are getting better at it. We'll get there once we have had more practice.

So yeah some good stuff did happen this week, the best of which being that we got another commitment to baptism! We started teaching Sadie (the non member daughter of the Sunday school president) and she agreed to be baptized on Christmas eve so heck yes. That's probably the best way to spend the holidays that I can think of. I'm so excited!

Speaking of Christmas if anyone hasn't looked at the Light the World initiative yet you need to do that now. It is such a great idea and will bring a lot of souls to Christ. I can feel it. Christmas is just such a great time of year, especially being a missionary is awesome cause now I can focus just on Christ without all the presents and Christmas sales getting in the way. I hope everyone can remember why this is such an amazing time of year. I love it so much. I love my life and my family and this great gospel. It's all just so great.

So there's this Christmas thing that I'm making a commitment to do for the rest of my life. Every December I'm going to read a chapter of Luke every day because there are 24 chapters in Luke and it gives a really good beginning to end of Jesus's life and it will end up at the end of his ministry on Christmas eve. I'm going to do it out here and probably make it a tradition for every December.

Mele Kalikimaka!
Elder Smith

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Baptism

Dear Everyone,

This has been an insanely long week, not a bad one but in hindsight this week feels longer than the whole last transfer. Being the companion that is taking over the area has made me realize that I don't know the layout of my area nearly as well as I thought I did. It also means that I am driving all the time now, weird that I hadn't done that in so long. Anyway so a big part of this transfer was getting a new companion. Tuesday we went up to transfer meeting and I said my goodbyes to Elder Zollinger and sent him off to the big island. Also at transfer meeting I was reunited with my whole MTC dorm so I got to see Mawby, Johnson, and Campbell again. It hasn't even been that long but man it felt like a lifetime since I saw those guys, that was great.

So a cool mini miracle, Elder Boyd and I went from the transfer meeting to our last meeting with Malia before her baptism and during the meeting we were trying to figure out what their new ward would be since they just moved, and after a bit of discussion we discovered that the family now lives in the boundaries of the ward Boyd just came from. So we were able to get the info of the new ward really easily and now the hand off from ward to ward will be smooth, which makes me very happy because I was kinda stressed out about the whole thing.

So Elder Boyd is pretty cool. It's definitely a change from Z to him, mostly because Elder Z was very quiet and Boyd is very loud, not in a bad way at all but it sure is a change. It'll be good though, no worries.

So Thanksgiving was pretty great, we had it at the Aki's home and got to know their family better (Brother Aki is in the bishopric here) and we had large quantities of food. Hawaiian and Chinese. Also there were some cool BYU-H students that were there as well. They were from Hong Kong and my comp was hecka awkward talking to them so that was fun to watch.

Birthday was solid, thanks for the gifts mom and dad, the Uke has been tuned enough to where it sounds good now. I'm learning various hymns and church songs as well as CCR and Metallica. Gotta keep myself well rounded. Also the crackers were very appreciated, it has been many moons since my last Ritz.

So here's the biggie. The Baptism. It was very stressful but once it all started it was smooth and went off without a hitch. I gave a short talk on Baptism and honestly started to choke up as I was saying it. Who knew I actually had feelings right? Right after the baptism we had a car wash and I forgot to bring service shoes so I just did it in p-day clothes and proselyting shoes. I was styling. But the car wash was solid, we gave some chapel tours and just had a grand time. Also at least 6 people came and took tours just because Elder Henderson was sign waving while wearing an opug mask. Another average day in Kaneohe.

To top it all off I had to give a talk in Sacrament about missionary work this past Sunday and literally every time this week that I tried to write it something else came up so in the end I didn't write the talk and just free-styled the whole thing. All things considered it went pretty well so that was a relief.

Those are the contents of my eventful week. Apparently Moana came out? People around here seem to like it so it has the approval of the locals (not that most people would consider Kaneohe local, but it's close enough for me). Go see that if you haven't and give me the haole perspective.

Love you all!
Elder Smith

A couple baptism pics - Elder Boyd and I with Malia and some of her family

Monday, November 21, 2016

No More Greenie Status

Sorry mission portal has been down for the last few hours so I need to be quick!

Mum the packages did come, did not open them yet. Elder Zollinger is for sure heading out. He's going to Kona zone on the Big Island to be a Zone Leader. I'll be staying here in Kaneohe and my new comp will be someone named Elder Boyde ( he will be the new district leader). I really don't know anything about him aside from his name. I'll let you know more next week.

So on a spiritual note we all had personal interviews with President and Sister Bekker this week. He is so awesome, he really does his best to know each of the Elders on a personal level. Even when he is chastising us you can tell he is doing it out of love. He made me realize that I am not studying enough out of Preach My Gospel, I would recommend everyone look through that now and again just to know what we can all do to be better missionaries. Also in terms in of reading material I also recommend the book Our Search for Happiness by M Russell Ballard. I just finished reading it and it is so inspirational. It is more centered on non-members understanding us but it really is worth reading. Malia's baptism is this week so I'm pretty pumped for that, sadly Elder Z will not be here for that. Also there are some new opportunities that have come up for possible new investigators. Un-coincidentally right after a fast.

I hope that civilization is not crumbling without me there. I love you all and think of you all the time.
Love you guys and sorry I can't write more! Happy Thanksgiving to all! I'll be eating food. Lots and lots of food.

Elder Smith

Monday, November 14, 2016

Missionary Life

So as you can see by the pictures I have sent the dryer is not fixed. Elder Z and I went to Times (local grocery store) and bought some clothes hangers and twine and made a makeshift clothesline that bends and weaves its way through our whole house, then we set up a bunch of rotating fans to dry them off. An Elder makes due. After we washed our clothes, we washed our car with a kitchen sponge. If that doesn't define missionary life I don't know what does. So I'm not sure if I've said this before but in Hawaii almost no one has an air conditioner, just copious amounts of rotating fans, it's cheaper I guess but it sure as heck takes some getting used to. Also not many people around here have dryers or dishwashers, it's seen as a waste of energy so everyone hand washes dishes and air dries their clothes, makes our circumstances a little harder but there are elders in worse spots so we don't complain.

So work wise this was another slow week, the appointments we had set up canceled but on the bright side we have a lot of appointments set up for this next week, it's the last week of the transfers so Elder Z and I are hoping to end on a strong note. Especially since this will probably be our last transfer together.

So there is no for sure system of who gets transferred when but 9/10 times you are trained in one area for 2 transfers then your trainer is moved and you get a new companion who is still experienced but who you have to teach about the area. There are exceptions to this, but that is just what usually happens. President Bekker was at stake conference this Sunday and made a remark to me about leading my area soon so that basically confirmed that Elder Z will be leaving. I'm kinda nervous to be the senior elder already but I know that I'll figure it out with the Lord's help.

I went to a baptism of a child of record this week, got me super excited to see Investigators get baptized. I'm so excited for the end of the month when I can see that happen. Ooooh also we got in contact with a 10 year old cousin of the child that was baptized and I think we are going to start working with her, she's taken the lessons she just needs to be dunked. Also after the baptism we went to a dinner at the grandparents house and we had poke (raw fish) and tako (octopus). Not gonna lie they were both very good, the food here is growing on me. Even the spam believe it or not.

So Trump is President, Not sure if I will ever get used to that. Our political knowledge is pretty limited when there is no exposure to the world so I really didn't expect him to be the winner. Hope the mainland is still there when I get back.

Keep spreading the good word!
Love you all!
Elder Smith

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hawaii Temple P-day

Aloha Ohana,

Ok so I'm hopping right into this, I thought I had like an hour more on here but it turns out it might just be a few minutes. Sorry!

Temple was awesome today, it was cool being in one of the first temples that was ever built, very simple interior but still just so spiritual. So great! Being in the celestial room is just such a beautiful experience, it really is the closest we can get to being in the presence of God. I will send pics!

So I had an awesome lesson with Malia this week, we taught about Tithes and Fast offerings and she was so much more receptive and conversational with us this week (she is really shy). I think it was because she consistently prayed every day this week, it is amazing seeing how something so simple that we often take for granted can have such a positive change in a person. We have decided on a date of November 26th (tried to get it for my birthday on the 25th but it didn't quite work out) so I'm really hoping I don't get transferred on the 22nd, that would be poor timing, but odds are I'll stay here and get a new comp.

Hey so I forgot to mention but I Elder Z and I made chili for our ward Halloween party a couple weeks ago and turned out hecka bomb. Especially considering we had nothing to measure the ingredients with or a crock pot to keep it warm. An Elder makes due.

So yesterday we found out that the dryer at our pad doesn't work anymore, we're getting it fixed but in the meantime let's just say that all of our rotating fans were temporarily dedicated to drying off all of our white clothes which were in turn strung up all around the interior of the pad. Good times.

I went on several exchanges this week so it was awesome getting to see other parts of the Kaneohe Zone. I got to know Elder Villanueva really well on our exchange. He's from the Philippines and was only converted like two years ago. Also he's 23, it's weird how when we're all on a mission we seem like we're the same age and yet in reality he's 5 years older than me. He's awesome though.

Some quick facts before I gotta book it that I keep meaning to tell you but forget every P-day.
1. The organ player in our ward is 8 years old. That is not an exaggeration, he acts just like an 8 year old, he just plays the organ like a champ
2. In Hawaii high school football is bigger than NFL (Hawaii has the most high schools that go pro per captita so they see a lot of people here go big). It's the same type of fan bases as professional sports, plus all the high school games are so on tv. I think it's great that so many people support the high schoolers here.
3. Hawaiian slang of the week: Howzit = How is it going. Been using that one from time to time, basically everyone says it. And it isn't so complex to the point where I look overly haole when I say it.

Anyway I'm so sorry it's another rushed week but we'll be back to normal p-days next week.

Love you all so much!

Elder Smith

(Kaneohe Zone at the Hawaii Temple - Elder Smith 2nd from right)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Every Member a Missionary


So this week has been a pretty average one, not a lot to report which is itself not good. The work is moving really slow in this ward, we're keeping a good attitude about it and everything but it can be frustrating when we really want to be busy and just can't find things to do. I know I've already harped on this before but I can't express how important it is for members to talk to their friends about the gospel, as a missionaries it is our job to teach, but it's pretty sad when people take one look at you and already know that they don't want to hear anything you have to say. I have no doubt that if they would hear us out for 5 minutes that they would want to know what it is that we represented and the happiness we want them to have. This week they adjusted our accounting so that now we're only keeping track of how many New Investigators and Member Present lessons we have, so clearly they want to move our efforts towards member involvement in missionary work. Members always say they want to help us so me and Elder Z are just being more bold with them, we're giving them commitments like we would to investigators, hopefully this all starts to work out and we can increase our teaching pool.

So here's something cool, if I'm still in this area next transfer then I might need to also start covering the Kaneohe 5th Branch which is the Tongan branch (as if I wasn't already getting fed enough). If that ends up happening then I'll go to church twice every Sunday and basically have no idea what's going on for half of that unless I decide to learn Tongan. So far all I know is "kaike mate" which means "eat until you die." Should be enough to get me through the first few weeks.

So since P-day and Halloween fell on the same day we basically get a whole day off (since on a usual Halloween you take the evening off anyway) and so all the missionaries in the zone that are available are heading to Elder and Sister Burnside's house (the senior couple in our zone) for a party. I bought a White Power Ranger mask to wear at the party so you know it's going to be poppin'.

Pday will be on Tuesday next week so we can go to the Hawaii temple in Honolulu. Definitely looking forward to that.

But yeah that's basically all I have to report at this point, work is slow but if all goes well it should be picking up in the next couple of weeks. Every member a missionary!

Love you guys!
Elder Smith

Monday, October 24, 2016

Solid Week in Kaneohe

Aloha fam,

So this week has been a pretty solid one, some laughs, some frustrations, some "danggit Smith"s. So all in all an average week in Kaneohe. Oh yeah and obs since I'm emailing you right now my p-day is today. I believe the first week of November my p-day is on Tuesday because we have a temple trip that day, definitely looking forward to seeing the Laie temple. That'll be a great experience. We spend a lot of time in the car either driving to different neighborhoods or playing taxi driver for Elders Henderson and Villanueva which also gives us plenty of time to listen to virtually every talk Elder Holland has ever given. An Elder who went home this last transfer (Elder Kang) gave us his flash drive that had all of them on it, even BYU devotionals and times before he was a General Authority (the funny thing is if you listen to those you start to notice that he cracks the same jokes every couple years. Classic.).

Awesome spiritual experience this week that I gotta share. So you remember Malia right? The teen that we were making progress with but then was going to move. Well she's actually moving this week (not to Lanai thankfully so she'll still have strong church support wherever she goes) and we wanted to get one last lesson in with her before she left so that we could pass her along to her local elders. But then when we told this to the Ward Council they advised us to just invite her to be baptized before she moves, be bold. So we had a lesson with her in Bishop Pasikala's office and we taught her about commandments. After that I started to ease in to the question of baptism and established that she still wanted to be baptized, she said she did but wasn't sure if she was ready. I wasn't really sure how to proceed from there but before I could say anything Bishop just says "Malia. You are ready." Then he bore his testimony about how now is the time for her to be baptized so that she can move forward and improve her life. Her Mom was there also and so was Sister Alameda (one of the RS counselors), all of them were a huge help and in the end Malia agreed to be baptized the week after next (it's after she moves but her records will still be with us so our ward can put it on). I'm honestly so dang excited for this, she needs this so badly. She's made some mistakes but I know that she is heading in the right direction towards correcting those mistakes and coming unto Christ. I've learned that you need to let people know that they don't need to be perfect to be baptized, they just need the desire. I've also learned that it always helps having a bold Tongan with you when you need to extend extreme commitments. So yeah unless something crazy happens she should be my first baptism (not that I'm counting or anything :P).

Someone asked me if it rains much. Does it rain? Yes. Yes it does. It's basically sporadic drizzles and downpours all the time. There's not really a pattern to it either, you're gonna get some water no matter what. I've just learned to always have my umbrella. For some reason Elder Z is always forgetting to bring his. And they call me the greenie.

The polyester ties are holding up as are the rest of the clothing but being out here has made me realize that my collection of ties is severely lacking when compared to other elders. I imagine I'll pick some up here and their over the next two years so you don't need to send me any. Missionaries that are close to leaving have like 30 to 40 ties.

Mom was wondering how I communicate with the mission pres. Aside from my first couple days in Hawaii I haven't seen much of President and Sister Bekker. The missionaries all send him an email every week and he tries his best to email us all back but I think he focuses a lot on missionaries that are having problems. Needless to say he hasn't emailed me much aside from some encouraging words. I really like him though, he talked to me a bit at Zone Conference a few weeks ago to be sure all was going well. Sister Bekker is about the nicest person you'll ever meet, you can tell that she honestly loves each and every missionary.

I think that my favorite new food that I've tried so far is the time I had Filipino food with the Okimoto family (he's Japanese, she's Filipino). Not the nasty weird Filipino food though, I believe it was called Chicken Adobo and Minudo. Don't trust my spelling though, I could be wrong. Thus far no street vendors, there aren't a lot of those here though.

News from the kitchen, not many people signed up for our wards Chili Cook-off so elder Z and I decided to inspire everyone by signing up. We bought ingredients today and have no idea what we're doing. Should be an adventure

Hope everything is good on the homefront. Miss you all. Church is true.

Elder Smith

Monday, October 17, 2016

New car, dead rat

Aloha mi Familia,

I got the Halloween package you sent me mom, thanks! The Elders very much enjoyed. You asked about a b-day present, I think that a Uke would probably be a good present. Elder Z and I are getting along really well. I'd say a solid thing about Elder Zollinger is that he basically likes the same form of entertainment that I do. Movies, video games, TV, books, the whole lot.

This week I learned that apparently some Hawaiian people believe that in the 62nd chapter of Alma when a man named Hagoth sails across the sea and is never heard from again that he actually sailed to the Hawaiian islands and founded Polynesia. There is literally no doctrine backing this up but they have to find some way to tie the BoM into Hawaii. It's amazingly weird. Also something cool about this mission is the amount of missionaries serving here from other countries. So far in my zone alone (in 2 transfers) I've met 2 from Japan, 2 from the Philippines, 1 from Korea, 1 from Tonga, 1 from Samoa, 1 from Chile, and one from some random Micronesian island that I'm not even going to try to pronounce. So yeah it's really cool meeting all of these different cultures.

So this week was a fairly slow week, a lot of people canceling appointments and not being home, but hey the good/bad news is that we have a car now. It's good because it's way easier to get around our area now, but it's bad because now we have to taxi around all the elders that don't have cars. So for now I think we're actually getting less work done than before, but it should even out a bit this next week when the Zone Leaders get their car back. Hopefully. Hey want to hear about a sketchy house we went to this week? So Elder Z and I got a new ward list and so we have been going to all the houses of families or people that are on the new list but weren't on the old list because that would mean that they have moved into the ward boundaries within the last 6 months. So we went by this house and let me tell you it looked like year round Halloween. Crazy over grown grass everywhere, cars with no license plates that had plants growing out of them, stuff scattered all over the floor (from what we could see in the window), and to top it all it had one of those spooky door knockers on the front door. Nobody answered (and the family last name was on the front door so we were at the right place) and when we turned around to leave there was a dead rat on the porch. I'm not talking recently deceased or store bought dead rat, I'm talking this thing has been there so long that parts of flesh were rotting away and most of its skull was visible. Hecka sketch.

Today I made brownies with Elder Z for Sister Alldredge whose B-day is today, then we did some shopping and laundry. Quite an exciting day.

I'm going to try to write letters this week to the sibs but it is really really hard to find time to do that. Tell Dylan that I recognize the name of the Speedster he mentioned in his letter, I think he's an enemy of Jay Garrick from the comics called Rival. He was the first evil speedster in the comics. Thanks so much for the pics of Savy's wedding, still pretty sad that I wasn't able to go. Tell everyone I love them!

Love ya,
Elder Smith

Here's a pic of the old district before most everyone got transferred and Elder Kang went home. Love these guys! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Kualoa Ranch

Elder Smith and his zone got to spend some time at Kualoa Ranch - parts of the original Jurassic Park were filmed there. They had a great time! One of the other Elders moms posted this pic on Facebook.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Two Months a Missionary!


Glad to hear that everything is going well. I was pretty bummed to not be at Savy's wedding but it looks like it all went really well. Maya looks adorable in her dress. Congrats to Savy and Will, can't wait for more pics!

So anyway transfers are this week, Elder Zollinger and I are staying put but a lot of the Missionaries in my zone are transferring out and a lot of greenies will be starting here. 4 new ones, which is pretty crazy. Should be interesting since I am technically also still a greenie (I'll lose the status after my next transfer). Elders here are saying I'm the David Bednar of the zone, I'm still hecka young but I'll have seniority over half of the missionaries around here. Teaching has been good but progress is slow, Elder Zollinger and I have been focusing most of our efforts on getting members involved in missionary work. So please encourage everyone you know to help out the missionaries, I'm not just talking about feeding, that's great and all but it's also a great opportunity for missionary work. Invite non-members to dinner appointments, casually bring up the gospel in conversation, invite to church. It all seems like crazy things for us to do but it really isn't that hard and it makes it so much easier and far more enjoyable to missionary work. So hopping off my soapbox now, we did have a lot of good finding people, we were able to get in contact with 3 different people who used to be taught by missionaries but for one reason or another stopped taking the discussions, all of them seem very interested in starting up again so I'm very much looking forward to that. I'll keep you posted.

Really weird story to share, it's not really spiritual or funny, it was just odd.
So 2 weeks ago I was on exchanges with the Elders from the Kahalu'u ward so Elder Zollinger was in our area with Elder Henderson. After the exchange ended they told me that they had met a Hispanic guy named Alejandro who seemed genuinely interested and invited them to come back. I was excited because people don't do that very often. ON top of that I thought it was interesting because I've run into a lot of different ethnicities on this part of Hawaii but I had never seen any Hispanics. So two weeks later Elder Zollinger remember this guy and decide to swing by and either teach him a lesson or set up a date to come back and teach him. We get to the house (keep in mind I've never been there) and this Hispanic woman answers the door, naturally we assume it is his wife. We say that we are there to talk to Alejandro and she says "who?" we repeat Alejandro and she says that her name is Alejandra. We were both taken aback by this and didn't really know what to say so Elder Zollinger said "last time we were here we met with a man named Alejandro" and she said that she didn't know who that was and that she had only lived in the house for two weeks, which would have been right after the other elders were there the first time. Now normally looking at this you would think that she was just covering for him or something, and we thought that too, but then right after all of this we don't know what to do so instead of just stand there awkwardly I jump into the normal door approach and ask if she wants to know more about the gospel. And she set up a time for us to come back and teach. We walked away from that house so confused and we honestly still have no idea what happened. I'll let you know if that bears any fruit but dang we had a good laugh about. Hope it goes somewhere but if nothing else it's a good story to tell.

My zone all went glow in the dark mini golfing today, the whole place was filled with little kids and us. It was grand. Also I think Hawaii is already messing with my brain, there was a product called Maui Kapowee that is obviously pronounced so that the two words rhyme but I'm so used to reading names and locations with Hawaiian grammar rules so I pronounced it Kah-poh-vay-eh. Took me and my comp about 5 minutes to realize it was a Haole product so those rules don't apply. Hooray for cultural immersion!

I've never had so much rice in my entire life. It is literally served with everything. That is not an exaggeration. Literally. Everything.

Love getting mail - keep those letters coming.

Love you all,
Elder Smith

Monday, October 3, 2016

That Greenie Life

Aloha Ohana,

Zone conference was pretty amazing, we got to go to get trained by President and Sister Bekker and also by our APs and ZLs. If you don't know a zone conference is when 2 or 3 zones of missionaries get together and get trained by the Mission President (President Bekker) and sometimes a higher up. Since I'm new I had to get up in front of everyone and bear my "Greenie testimony" which was pretty cool. These only happen every 12 weeks so there were a lot of other new missionaries there. We got some awesome training on how to work with members and we had some bomb nachos. In the end all the missionaries that are leaving in the next 12 weeks also bore their testimonies then we all sang Aloha 'Oe to them. Let me tell you it wasn't super sad because I only knew 1 of the elders that's leaving but maaaaan when it comes to be my time to be on the receiving end of that I'm gonna bawl. I can tell. Lots of good stuff between them all but over we learned about how to best work with members and how best members can help the missionaries, I also heard a lot about that in conference. We watched conference in the stake center and the rough thing was the sessions are at 6 and 10 AM. Makes it a little hard to stay awake but all in all great conference, loved Holland's talk on Home teachers and how important it is, definitely have a new respect for it. Honestly this week has been hard, not a lot of chances to do missionary work because most of our appointments canceled but hopefully the work will go better in the future. We have a lot of appointments set up for next week. I would say that staying positive throughout the week despite all of this was probably the most faith strengthening part. It's good to know that things will get better, so I'm doing just fine.

Finally got a haircut! It was was good, it's a little weird because it's not what I'm used to but I like it. Elder Zollinger cut it for me.

Ok so are you ready to be jealous? This morning I went to a Ranch where a tons of movies and TV stuff have been filmed. I got to hide under the log that Alan Grant and the two kids hid under in Jurassic Park. I also saw a ton of props from Lost. I'll send pics of those. All in all it was a pretty crazy awesome morning.

Ok so right now all the Elders are standing in the same room as me bible bashing about deep doctrine so it's really hard to focus on what I'm typing. Sorry if the email suffers because of that. I'll attach some pics. I'll email Dad but give him a happy birthday today from me.

Love you all!

Elder Smith

Hawaiian food - good stuff

Lizards are everywhere

Elder Kang and Elder Henderson

The Dharma computer from LOST! Geeking out.

More LOST stuff...


On the LOST computer...4,8,15,16,23, 42...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Aloha, Ohana

Life is great here in paradise. Met a guy here named Brother Chandler that really reminds me of Brother Scanlan. Probably the coolest member I've met since I've gotten out here. He's a huge Samoan guy who used to be a drill sergeant and then he was the head mechanic of the presidential helicopter during the Clinton administration so he has a framed photo of him shaking Bill Clinton's hand. He also has a very, very, very high respect for missionaries and missionary work. He told us his story of conversion and how he has come to know that the gospel is true. Almost brought me to tears. He also told us that having dinner with the missionaries is the closest thing we can do in this life to having dinner with the savior. That was really a wake up call as to how important missionary work is. Loved that family.

I have done some pretty cool Hikes on p-days. Last week we got up really early to do a sunrise hike only to remember that it's Hawaii and there are clouds everywhere. Still fun though. Today we did a short hike that led us through some pretty awesome Bamboo forest type things. I didn't have my camera but others took pics so I'm still waiting for them to email them to our group.

Here's some random things about Hawaii: Lizards. Are. Everywhere. They're like flies, they just chill everywhere and are constantly running across the sidewalks. Nothing bad though. Also basically everyone owns a dog. and on top of that they all want to kill us. I don't know if it's Satan or Hawaii or what but out here dogs hate missionaries. They all want to take us out and eat us. Especially the little ones. Makes me miss Indy. Also people are less outwardly kind than you mighty think, almost everyone has no trespassing signs or gates around their house or really mean guard dogs. If that's the case we just yell "Aloha" or something over the fence and hope that they come out. Teaching is going pretty good so far, we made a lot of progress with Natalie, got her to commit to baptism so hopefully she will stick to that. Sad thing is that Malia was making a lot of progress but due to some personal issues she is moving to Lanai. There are currently no missionaries on Lanai due to the small population so we're hoping that she won't lose the desire that she has. We're keeping her in our prayers. Yesterday really boosted my testimony on fasting. It can be really hard to do a full day fast as a missionary but my companion and I stuck with it and met a less active that seems really interested in getting back into church and we think that we might be able to start teaching another investigators pretty soon. I'll keep you updated on those if they progress.

I have met a lot of awesome Elders and Sisters. Cool thing is we get a lot of foreign Elders serving here. A lot from Japan, the Philippians, Samoa, and Tonga. Also a lot of the members are from Samoa and Tonga so I've gotten to talk to them a lot about that. Yesterday Brother Siliga (ward mission leader, Samoan) fed us Taro root. Basically Purple Potatoes. I think it's what poi is made of. Not great but not bad, the kind that we had was made with coconut milk so that was actually pretty good.

That's all the fun facts I can think of. Hope everything is going good with you guys. Hope the week goes great, also I hope that Dylan's surgery goes well. He's been in my prayers.

Love you all,
Elder Smith

Story he sent to a friend that passed it along to mom:

Anyway so funny story, a couple days ago I was on splits with the Zone Leaders in the 2nd ward so I was in their area and was with Elder Kang (great guy). He explains to me that he and Elder Jensen had been teaching this woman named Elizabeth but that she lived out of their ward boundaries so they were handing her off to the Elders in the Kailua ward (there were three of them at the time). Anyway I met Elizabeth, she's an older lady, retired elementary teacher and from what I can tell I think she was pure Hawaiian or at least dominantly Hawaiian so naturally she had a lot of cultural stuff around the house. When we sat down on the couch to talk with her guess what's on the wall right behind where she's sitting? Why naturally it's a significantly large portrait of a Hawaiian hula dancer, and naturally since it had to be historically accurate she was topless. So yes, my comp and I had to try and teach this whole lesson while not looking at the "art" that was only 6 inches from her face. Basically the whole time I was mentally shaking my wrist at the wall and thinking "are you kidding me?" After we got out of that house we just started laughing because of the whole situation.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Aloha Everyone!

Alright so here it goes.

We have a few people that we're teaching regularly, "M" is a 17 year old High School Senior who has less active parents but active grandparents, her grandpa is actually our ward mission leader and he is awesome. Mrs. T is an older Tongan lady that is really hard to teach because she just loves to talk. It's hard for us to get anything in so we teach as much as we can. There's a solid guy investigator named that I've heard about but he's been out of town since I got here. Then there's "N", she is an early 20's woman who seems fairly interested but also has a very interesting life. Not a lot that I can talk about in an email or otherwise but she always has some interesting stories to tell us. Hope to be making more progress with her.

I've met a lot of members but the main ones that I see a lot are the Siligas (he is the ward mission leader), Brother Beatty (young men's president), and Bishop Passicalla. He is an awesome bishop and we live in an add on to his house.

I think I'll be getting a haircut this afternoon from one of the Elders, I saw him give one to Elder Zollinger and it seems solid enough. Can't be too picky out in the mission field.

I have a couple photos but nothing all that great, its just kinda a hassle taking it with me everywhere. I'll try to do better.

We live in a pretty financially well off part of town but at the same time most people work a lot. It leads to this bad combination of "people are never home" and "people are too well off to see the need for religion." Basically it's really hard to get people to listen to us but we're trying our best to keep a positive attitude, everyone once in awhile someone listens so we just need to look out for them.

Mom asked what I ate for breakfast - Usually I just eat cereal for breakfast or just skip it all together, not because we can't afford it, it's just that we usually eat lunch at noon and the morning is pretty busy so sometimes i just skip it. Also we are sometimes still full from dinner the night before!

Good spiritual experience to share this week is to never give up. We'd gone a long way down this road with basically no one giving us the time of day then just as we were about to turn around we realized that we were near a referral that we had been given a few days earlier. We dropped by and met him and he seems awesome. He's really busy so it's hard to catch him but he told us he's very glad we came by and that he wants to start meeting with us next week, we really needed that boost so that was great.

Funny moment of the week: early one morning we got out of bed and Elder Zollinger went to use the bathroom but then told me to take a look. I peeked in the door and saw a toad roughly the size of my open hand just chilling there. We spent the better part of our morning chasing this big guy around our pad until we finally tricked him into hopping into a paper bag then we were able to get him outside. Let me tell you theses things can leap. Well that's about all I can think of to send this week, hope everyone is doing well back home.

Missionaries love mail!

Love you all,
Elder Smith

Monday, September 12, 2016

Second Week in Hawaii

So my week was pretty good, better than my first one I'd say. Not gonna lie, doing missionary work here is hard. Everyone here is too content with life so nobody sees the need for church, me and Elder Zollinger do our best to share what we can but we just get people telling us no basically everywhere we go. Sometimes it feels like there's no reason for me to be out here, but then I remember that even Jesus was turned away by many and if I only bring one soul to Christ in the two years that I'm here then that's ok with me. I'll aim high and as long as I stick to that then it will all be worth it. The members here are great, always willing to help out and feed us, so far the amount of walking we do has prevented me from gaining too much weight but that could change once I get transferred to a driving area. Probably gonna gain 40 pounds while I'm here. Haven't had the chance to eat any Hawaiian food yet, nothing weird at least but plenty of rice. I'll let you know when they feed me raw fish or something else hecka sketch.

In terms of my day here is an average example. We wake up at 5:30 and get picked up by the Kahalu'u elders (another ward in our building) because they have a member in their ward that owns a gym. We work out in the gym for close to an hour and then we head back to our pad and shower/eat. After that we have an hour of personal study followed by an hour of companion study. We mostly study out of Preach my Gospel and The Scriptures but I also like to read from Our Heritage and True to the Faith. After that we sometimes do 12 week because I'm a new missionary (it's like basic training type stuff) and then we try to visit or tract people. Usually by then it's lunch time, we either eat leftovers or fast food but we eat pretty quick. 1-6 is our heavy time for preaching and teaching, we try to have a few appointments and visit people who have been taught in the past or less active members. We only have a couple people that we teach regularly and that's usually weekly. After that we have dinner at a member's house and then we try to preach or tract for another hour or so before we head back to the pad. Most people are unresponsive after the sun goes down (around 6:30) so we don't get much luck unless it's a scheduled appointment. After we get back we take the time to total up our key indicators (quality gospel conversations, lessons taught, member presents, etc.). After that we plan who we are going to see the next day and by then it's usually around 10. We get ready for bed, go to sleep, then wake up the next morning at 5:30.

Glad to hear about everything back home, especially Poppi and Brother Scanlan are both doing better. Not sure how much computer time I'm going to have so I'm going to end it here. Hope everyone has a great week.

Love you all,

Elder Smith

Monday, September 5, 2016

Aloha from Hawaii!


My first area is the Kaneohe area serving in the Kaneohe 3rd ward. I'm currently in a biking area but there's a lot of hills so we mostly just walk. I'm in the Kaneohe zone and stake. It's in the North Eastern part of Oahu near the big military base. It rains a little every day but not as much as what the Big Island is getting right now. The flight was long and hard because I accidentally packed everything that could pass the time, the other elders were sleeping, and I wasn't. I tried to sleep but that never really works out that well. I got to know some of the elders at the mission home. I really liked Elder Taka. He's from Oregon but grew up in Tonga so he'll be Tongan speaking out here, he was hilarious though. I sat by Elder Roberts I believe. Like I said they were asleep most of the time. President Bekker seems really cool. I got to know him pretty well and I think he's going to be a well organized president. His wife is great, she's one of the most positive people I've ever met, spent a good amount of time getting to know her.

My comp is Elder Zollinger, he's been out 10 months and is from West Virginia. He's fairly soft spoken but he knows what he's doing, I get along really well with him and the other nearby Elders mostly because we all quote Spongebob and Star Wars non-stop. This week I've only had one teaching opportunity and it was ok, I think me and my comp did a good job I just don't think the woman we were meeting is very interested in conversion of any kind, she just likes the company. We're gonna keep working at it though. This week was mostly tracting and service but we have some appointments set up for next week.

Dinner has been good, so far nothing crazy just haole food. My trainer said we've been getting an unusual amount of Haole food and that we normally get way more Hawaiian or other food.

The hurricanes didn't really hit here, there was a good chance of serious impact on Saturday (all of the missionaries are volunteer Red Cross assistants in the case of an emergency so we all had to be trained over the phone) but ultimately Oahu was left untouched aside from some slightly harder rain. Big Island got hit a bit harder from what I've been hearing but I don't know the details.

The spirit is very strong here, the members are great and simple gospel principles like prayer mean so much more to me now than they did before I came here. Also I started reading Our Heritage, highly recommend it, it's basically the early history of the church but written more like a history book.

Church here was really cool, everybody was excited to meet me and everyone's last name is crazy long so it's gonna take some getting used to trying to get everyone down. This is why everyone should wear name tags!

Forgot to bring my camera today. but next week some pics for sure. Got some sweet views here.

Glad to hear about everyone's health and so so sad to hear about Brother Scalan. He will be in my prayers, if you seen him or his family give them a hug from me. Hope things continue to go well.

Love ya,

Elder Smith

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


A few shots of all the Elders and Sisters headed to Hawaii from the SLC airport!

Zack and his MTC companion, Elder Johnson

Elder Smith and Elder Campbell, talking to their moms on the phone before boarding the plane! 

All the "greenies" with President and Sister Bekker

 Elder Smith with President and Sister Bekker

 Elder Zachary Smith, fresh in Hawaii and ready to work! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

MTC Pics - Week 2

Elder Smith and his district in the MTC

Elders - boys will be boys! 

MTC Part 2

So week one of the MTC felt like about a month, week two felt like a day. Time really starts to fly when you get into the groove of it all. Teaching lessons is getting easier, I'm learning to better teach by the spirit and to the needs of the investigators. When I first started I was so glad to only have to teach 25 minute lessons instead of the 45 minutes that some people got but now I find myself wanting the longer times because there's so much more I want to know about them and talk to them about. All in all I'm pumped for the mission field.

Speaking of that I leave the MTC Monday for Hawaii, so if any of you were planning on writing me from Dear Elder hold off for this one week because they might get lost in the transition period. Surprisingly there have been only two times that I've gotten another Elder Smith's mail. One of them was really confusing because it was too an Elder Zachary Smith but I couldn't tell who it was from. Two and a half pages in I finally realized it wasn't mine. Whoops.

Anyway MTC life has flown by, it's gonna be real hard to leave these Elders and Sisters when we all go our different ways, but we're all excited. Also last Thursday my companion and I were made Zone Leaders. That means that yesterday we had to welcome all 24 of the new missionaries in Zone 41 to the MTC, then me and Johnson were in charge of the Elders from that group. Naturally that was 20-24 of them with 12 of them all going to Ghana. Kinda crazy but we enjoyed leading the orientation and making sure they all felt comfortable.

We've had the chance to hear from a lot of speakers here, my favorite was Juan Uceda of the seventy (from Peru). For starters he sounded exactly like Ricardo Montelbon but on a spiritually note he had a lot of great points. He himself was a convert and assured us all of the power that we held to change the hearts of many. He also stressed giving all your heart, might, mind, and strength to the Lord while serving. That really hit me, you only get as much as you give.

One last closing thought, it's amazing to me how much more meaning Hymns have now that I'm a missionary. The songs Called to Serve and Army of Helaman hit me particularly hard whenever we sing them. It's a great feeling.

Thanks for all the letters and emails, hope to keep seeing them,

Elder Smith

Excerpts of an email to Mom:

Aight here we go with those quick answers. Elder Johnson is from Colorado, also he's ethnically Hawaiian but he's never been there, knows all about the culture though so that's cool. He's great and we get along perfectly. Honestly I'm close to the whole district but I'm really gonna miss the Mesa-narries when we all part ways. Checketts, Dodds, Muir, and Empey are all great guys so saying goodbye is gonna be tough, it's crazy how you can get so close to people in such a short amount of time. I haven't given any blessings but I have participated in two when a few of the missionaries in the district got sick. There's been a cold going around since I got here, I've had it the past couple days but I'm already feeling better. Some got it real bad. I briefly met another Hawaii missionary but for the life of me cannot remember his name. My flight leaves 11:56 am Utah time on Monday so I'll probably be there an hour or two before then, expect a call from me within that block of time, sorry I can't really be more specific. A lot has happened this week, I'll talk more about those in the group email, but I got made Zone leader about an hour after I emailed you last week so that's a thing.

Glad to hear things are going well with Dylan and Poppi back home from the hospital, not sure if it's happenstance but I do really believe that me being out here is helping everyone back home. Yay! Alright well I got emails to type so I'll talk to ya later.

Elder Smith