Monday, April 29, 2013

The sun is shining and the birds are chirping. So basically spring is here and I 
love my life. Oh and I got to shake an apostle's hand so like life is peachy. 
On Saturday we had a special meeting with Elder Cook and it was amazing! There 
was also a member of the presiding bishopric, a member of the presidency of the 
Seventy, an area seventy, and President Keyes and their sweet wives. Before 
getting started, we got to line up and shake each of their hands and it was so 
so cool. Some of my favorites that I learned from it: Bishop Davies talked about 
not getting the DIMS. When you get Discouraged, you become Idle, leading to 
Murmuring, and followed by Sin. And side note, Elder Cook kept it so real, he 
had us all laughing so hard and it was just a great time. Not to mention the 
Spirit was incredible. But Elder Cook helped me so much, personally and gave me 
inspiration for our area and purpose as missionaries. First, he explained about 
how they created Preach My Gospel (he played a huge role in that) and about how 
they did studies for people that have been taught by missionaries in the past. 
He said that from the groups, there were two things that the people almost 
always remembered. The First Vision and the Plan of Salvation. And that we need 
to be constantly teaching these two things and going back to them in our 
teaching and lessons. Also, he talked a lot about the fact that we are called to 
strengthen the Lord's kingdom on the Earth wherever we are. And that might be 
strengthening the ward you are in. We might not have very many new and 
progressing investigators in our area and with the limited time that we have 
there, but we are constantly visiting less actives and there is A TON of work to 
be done withIN the Shoal Creek Ward. It made me feel so much better about that 
and our purpose in this area. He taught us to be unusually kind to the members, 
gain their trust and get work done. A quote I love that he talked about "If you 
have more faith, you'll have more success." It is so so true. It all comes back 
to our faith. Elder Cook left us with a powerful blessing and also told us that 
this decision we made to serve will bless our families and future families for 
eternity, not to mention the people we serve our here. It just really hit home 
to me that I am where I am supposed to be and I am able to be a part of this 
amazing work. 
This week one of the Sisters and I (Sis Thurston that lives in the house with 
us) have been running every morning. It has helped SO much. We have had so much 
energy and I just love it. Also, who even knew birds could really copy your 
singing? Like it was the craziest thing. We would whistle songs and they would 
mimick us perfectly, we were freaking out. 
My companion, Sister Castellano, is pretty amazing. She was sick the past week 
though which made it hard because we weren't able to go out a couple of the 
days. But she received a priesthood blessing and she is better now! The 
priesthood is the power of God on Earth and it is so real. We are so blessed to 
have this restored. 
On Friday we taught Shane and his adorable 8-year old son, Kaden. We taught them 
the Restoration and they committed to read from the Book of Mormon every day.. 
Going back to Elder Cook emphasizing the power in reciting the First Vision, the 
Spirit is SO strong at this point always and I looove it. It can testify to 
people that this event truly did happen. That our Heavenly Father and His Son 
did appear to Joseph Smith. The Spirit testifies to me every time. 
Yesterday we also got to see Elder and Carrol for the first time in a long time! 
It was sooo good to see them. I never knew I could love people so fast. They 
were so excited to see us! They are the sweetest and sent us home with cinnamon 
rolls ha. I pray for them every night.. They are really involved with a new 
church that she started working in the daycare at, but I know Elder has felt the 
Spirit when we taught him about the Restoration and I know he knows there is 
something more.. Cecillia and Babawalle and their CUTEST KIDS were home a couple 
doors down as well. We were able to read from the Book of Mormon with them. They 
didn't have long but they were stoked to see us and let us right in. We read in 
3 Nephi when Christ came to the people in the Americas and testified that that 
did happen. Cecillia is INSANELY busy.. she only sleeps like 2 hours every night 
and she works the night shift at Walmart and has like no extra time. She loves 
her kids so much and just works so hard for them. She told us she would love to 
read the Book of Mormon but just does not have time. I promised her that if she 
would make time for at least a verse or a chapter every day, that this book 
could change her life. I felt prompted to promise her this and that she could 
receive strength and energy from this book. I pray that she will exercise her 
faith in doing so and see the blessings for herself. 
Serving at the Liberty Jail this week was grand as always. I met some more 
amazing people that were traveling through and felt the Spirit in that sacred 
place. There are so many experiences I could share, but I will share this one 
that my companion had. She took this sweet lady through that had a very personal 
connection with the revelations that Joseph Smith received there. She has been 
battling cancer and she shared that D&C 121 has been her strength through this. 
She constantly reads those comforting words and receives strength through them. 
I can't remember if I have mentioned this before, but I promised myself after 
serving here, that I will read those sections whenver I am having a hard day or 
whenever I go through a really hard trial next.. I know they were received for 
us. And I know that Joseph Smith and all the early saints went through SOOO much 
for US. For the work of the Lord. And now we have the blessings from it, if only 
we don't take it for granted. 
One thing that caught my eye again as I was reading the history for the Liberty 
Jail was about a man named Edward Partridge. He was tarred and feathered when 
the mobs drove the saints out of Jackson County. He shares this about the 
experience "I was so filled with the Spirit and love of God, that I had no 
hatred towards my persecutors or anyone else." How powerful is that? I admire 
that so much and just think that if we are that in tune with the Spirit we will 
love everyone, even those that cause pain in our lives. That is one attribute of 
Christ that I know I need to work on. 
I hope you all have a great week and turn to the Lord throughout it all. The 
church is true and Jesus Christ lives. 
Sister Smartt 
PS. Happy late birthdays to my awesome cousins Michael and Megan. Also, shoutout 
to Bug, I'm glad the toro invite went well.  Also, a shout out to Alisa for her 
tournament in cali - sounded like a blast!!  I love you!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Comp Sis Castellano
3 best sisters in MO!!
Never thought I'd hold a snake on my mission!
Will miss Sis Minall

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO MY AMAZING PARENTS! I will keep the year hidden for 
your sake. But I love you both so much and couldn't be more grateful for 
the parents I have. 
This past week has been an insane one. Such a rollercoaster! But overall it 
was good and we are off to begin a new transfer with new adventures ahead. 
Let's start with Sister Minall's last tour at the Liberty Jail that we took 
together. I have never really gotten nervous for a tour yet but this one 
was not the case. We received a call letting us know that President Keyes 
would arrive at the Liberty Jail with the 28 new missionaries and they'd be 
expecting a tour. Somehow Sister Minall ended up as the ones assigned to 
take it and for some reason I felt soo nervous! President is not an 
intimidating man, he is so sweet, but he just carries such a powerful 
Spirit with him and I was nervous to mess up. But then I realized these 
missionaries have just arrived and are half asleep from the insane first 
day that all new missionaries have after leaving the MTC, so I shouldn't 
have been nervous.. Sister Minall and I said a prayer before and I said 
probably 12 in my heart, and it went well. One of the AP's afterwards was 
like hey wasn't that you like yesterday in those seats of new missionaries? 
Yeah practically. Mind BLOWN. 
Okay so let's talk about Departure Breakfast. All the sisters at the 
Liberty Jail head down to the Idependence Visitor's Center and we have a 
breakfast when there are sisters leaving us. This one happened to be for my 
dear comp.. But they always have them go up and bear testimony. Knowing Sis 
Minall, you'd know she'd have to leave with a BANG. And she did. She was 
asked to go up and share her testimony and when she got to the mic she 
instead sang her heart out, Gladys Knight version of "As I Have Loved You." 
(I have videos of many performances by the minall that I will send). It was 
the funniest thing. Everyone was in tears, laughing. (I was crying laughing 
as well and also crying crying, knowing one of my best friends would be 
leaving the next day). Following her gladys impersonation, she ended with 
her powerful testimony. The next morning was transfers. We woke up at like 
5 or something, then Sister Minall and I went over and ate a doughnut in 
front of the Liberty Jail and said one last companionship prayer. Then one 
of the senior couples drove us to transfer busses and we bid farewell.. It 
was too chaotic to be sad so I was doing pretty good. 
Sister Castellano is my new companion and she's from Corvallis, Oregon! She 
was actually Megan Smartt's roommate in Idaho. (Dad if you could send me 
megan's address to give her that'd be awesome). She is super chill and we 
get along great. She has been out for like 16 months. We have already had 
some adventures together. One of which, our gas tank started overflowing.. 
I guess the sensor was broken? Luckily, her window was open so she heard 
the gas pouring out and we ran out and stopped it. Basically we just 
smelled like gas the rest of the day and I will blame that on no one 
lettings us inside ;) But we did find one new investigator! Christina, who 
we have an appointment with on Thursday. Also, we met this girl named Jeney 
who was soooo hilarious and so chill. She let us right inside and said 
she'd love to learn more about us but she's going to have to "get the okay 
from her boyfriend first". But she said we could check back up on her. She 
was so blunt and direct about things it was awesome. She asked us directly 
"Why do you like being Mormon? What blessings have you noticed from being 
Mormon?" and some other awesome questions. Another crazy thing that 
happened was our phone broke... We didn't drop it or anything, it just 
stopped working.. So we lost some contacts and it was difficult not being 
able to contact people for a day. But we got that worked out and then the 
car we were driving that day, was out of oil so we had to have someone look 
at it. We didn't have the best luck our first couple of days, but it was 
been an adventure haha. 
Sunday was insane. Our day started out with waking up at 6 and had to leave 
by 7 to get to our area in time for PEC. It hit me then that I was the only 
one that has been serving here so it was up to me to keep up with what we 
have been doing and keep the area moving along.. until we get organized 
again. But the meeting was great. Then, church began at nine. Member how we 
were supposed to speak a couple weeks ago and then it was a snow day? Well, 
we didn't get out of it. They had us speak yesterday and the youth speaker 
got sick so it was just Sister Castellano and I on the program.. I felt so 
overwhelmed because we had like nooo time to prepare talks since this past 
week has been insanely busy plus transfers, I felt like I was gonna b*** 
(throwup word I hate). I was really really struggling before going up there 
and I just said a million prayers beforehand, that I had done all I could 
with the time we had, and I was asking Heavenly Father to help me do the 
rest. I prayed so hard and I knew that I was just completely turning it 
over to Him. I felt so releived and I have no clue what I said or how I 
filled that time. All I know, is that I hope I said something that someone 
needed that day and that they were able to feel of the Spirit and be 
uplifted. Then, another reason why I was stressin, is because we had to 
teach young womens after that, with like no prep time. It went well though! 
And there ended up being a nonmember visiting who we just might get to 
teach :) I know that I was not alone yesterday, I was comforted by my 
Savior so directly. I literally felt like I was not the one speaking and it 
was the most amazing feeling. The Atonement is real. 
Also, we got to meet with Shane yesterday. We finally were able to 
introduce the Book of Mormon to him and he said he would read it. We have 
an appointment with him on Friday! He has a looooot to learn and he has 
tons of questions. And much to overcome. But he is willing to keep meeting 
with us and he is so interested so I know that if he is open to it, the 
Spirit will be able to work on his heart. One thing I heard in the MTC is 
to picture all of your investigators in white, ready to be baptized and 
even better, enter the temple. And that's what I have done with Shane. I 
KNOW that the gospel can change his life. 
Guess who I get to see on Saturday? ELDER COOK. Yeah, he is coming to speak 
to all the missionaries. So we are super stoked!! Guess what else? I held a 
snake at Shane's house. It was pretty cool. I may have freaked out a little 
inside. Or outside, as you will see in the pics. 
Love you all! 
Sister Smartt 
"If you reflect *often* on how His Atonement has *changed* you and if you 
give thanks often, you will find that your witness of Him gains *power* to 
touch the hearts of others." 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sis Smartt here!! Hope you are all doing well :)

This week was a great one. First off, it hasn't hit me yet that this time next week I will be with a new companion...... and Sister Minall will be in London.. But setting that aside for now and we'll talk about this past week! One amazing thing that happened, was that I got to call Lindsay from the Jail. (We taught her for her very first lesson and it was AMAZING. She was out of her area so we had to pass her off to other elders) We have still been praying for her and thinking about her often, so it was awesome to get to talk to her on the phone. She is doing so well! I asked how her lessons have gone with the elders and she told me all about them and what she has learned. She explained that ever since we invited her to read the Book of Mormon she has been studying from it, and ever since she said "I have been so much more patient and peaceful to everyone around me, and especially to William and his dad." She has recognized that this book has already changed her life. She went on to explain in more detail about how she has felt different ever since she started reading it. That was so awesome to hear! I bore testimony to her that she will continue to receive even more blessings as she continues to study from it and receive more blessings from the restored gospel. She got pretty choked up when I told her that and she told me that she doesn't even know how that could be possible, that she has already noticed such amazing blessings. She is AMAZING and I love Lindsay so much! I can't wait to go to her baptism in the near future. She was so prepared. And basically it has strengthened my testimony soo much to hear about her experience! The Book Of Mormon can change lives. It truly is ANOTHER testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How blessed are we.

At zone training this past week, I was once again in awe at how amazing these missionaries are that I serve with. Like seriously my mind is constantly blown. I try my hardest not to compare myself to them and any feelings of inadequacy I push aside, I know that we are nothing without the help of the Holy Ghost and the strength from Our Savior. One thing I liked from that training was that "Some day is a dangerous word". We need to get to work and be productive always. Also, someone mentioned something about "Gratitude is the mother of all virtue". I promised myself that whenever I am having a hard day I will write in my journal that night about everythinggg I am grateful for. It's impossibly not to feel blessed and happy when we do that. Also, turning it to what more we can do for others, that always helps to turn a day around. Another thing I loved from that training "Christ is the why and why is the bullseye" of missionary work. Our whole purpose as missionaries and as children of our Heavenly Father is to become more like His Son and help others to come closer to Him. A scripture I memorized this past week was Mosiah 28:3 "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish. Yea even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble." This is the story of the Sons of Mosiah as they go to preach to the Lamanites. They are passionate about their purpose because they realize its importance. I know how important and true our message is and I need to do better on remembering that always and talking to EVERYONE. 

We met with Shane this past week. When we first met him he had been struggling big time, and had been job hunting for a long long time. This past time he shared that he had been offered many jobs just recently and that it was right after he had met with us. He asked me when the first day we met him was and a specific date.. I was racking my brain and was also wondering why he needed to know. Well he was calculating if he should contribute the success with finding work, to God and to the fact that it was right after the missionaries had come into his life. He still doesn't know what to think, but we bore testimony to him of the blessings of the gospel and that when we put God first in our lives, he WILL bless us spiritually and temporally. It is so awesome to see these blessings from an outside perspective and to KNOW that it comes from God. I just hope and pray that his faith will increase so he can have that knowledge. We are meeting with Babawalle and Cecillia and their children tonight. (Nigerian family) They are very involved with their church but are so willing to meet with us and definitely have felt the Spirit strongly so I pray for them constantly that they will be able to come even closer to their Savior and join His church. 

This past week, Sister Minall was super sick for a couple days. It was soooooo tempting for me to want to go sleep while she was but I didn't let myself and I got a lot of work done. We are finally finished organizing these 600+ members on our ward roster. It felt so good to have that strength and energy when I prayed for it. I was also able to read my patriarchal blessing for the first time out here. And it was so so powerful! Took me back to the day I received it. All feelings of inadequacy were overcome by the promises I have been given. Also, I was able to read a lot from the Book of Mormon this past week. Wow I just love that book and I am learning from it/loving it more than I ever have before. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY, end of story. Side cool thing I learned: Just as faith is an action word- charity is as well. As we are filled with this PURE LOVE of Christ, we will serve our brothers and sisters and we will do something about it because we will have that desire.

Wanna hear something cool? On mornings that are slow at our shifts at the jail, we have some study time. And I have been able to go into the reconstructed Liberty Jail by myself and sit and study by myself. It is the most peaceful and sacred spirit in there, it is incredible. I feel so blessed to serve here. I had sooo many amazing tours this past week and met some awesome people! One that stood out to me was this pretty large group, but there was this Guatemalan couple. They didn't speak English very well but the man wanted to bear his testimony after the third narration of the presentation. He bore it in Spanish I had no clue what he was saying but holy crap the Spirit was soooo strong! Many people were in tears. Someone translated afterwards and it was the most beautiful testimony.

I'm excited and nervous and sad for transfers this week, but all is well here. I learned so much from this transfer and I am grateful for all the experiences I had! Time is flying and it's weirding me out.

Love you all!!
Sister Smartt

PS. A couple funny stories this week.. there was this huge goose crossing the road that we almost hit and it gave me a heart attack. That's not something you see in az is a goose just chillin in a neighborhood. Sister Minall was laughing so hard and loved telling people how I had freaked out over it. Haha also... I am worried about me. I said "potatuh" instead of potatoe. Like seriously this Missouruh place is really getting ahold of me.. and the prob is that it's only been like five weeks. Pray for me.

One last thing.. we have been teaching this couple Robert and Rhonda for a bit (he is way inactive and she is not a member) but we can't tell if they will progress and if the Lord wants us to keep teaching them.. they just love having us over for saturday breakfast. Anyways, they have like a bijillion dogs and cats (as does everyone here......... it is a struggle). Sister Minall and I were in the dining room and one of their HUGE dogs comes in and literally takes a dump right next to our feet by the table... Sis Minall was like "Ummmmmmm ROBERT..." It was no big d to them, happens all the time.. Oh and this was right before we ate not after..

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hope you all enjoyed conference! We didn't get to see any full sessions, but of what I did see, I loved. And I know without a doubt those men and women are called of God. The first session we were serving at the Liberty Jail and members kept coming in! It was madness.. So I missed the first hour to take a tour. No worries though, we will get to read them soon enough. I just wanted to start off by saying how much I still love Sis Minall! I can not even believe she's leaving me in a week. Such is life. But anyways, funny story. So she is obedient right? The only rule she's broken is when she answered our phone in her sleep hahahah. Someone was calling to confirm an appointment for the morning and she answered it at like 11:45 pm but had no idea. It all came back to her the next morning and we were dying laughing.
I started the Book of Mormon again in the MTC. I'm only in Mosiah but I was reading the other day about King Benjamin's big address to his people and it was right before conference, which I felt was suiting. All the people gathered as families to hear him speak to them. And he was so so humble as their leader, something I loved and it totally matches the leadership of the church today. I know we should take advantage of conference and definitely heed to what the prophets counsel us, because they most definitely receive that counsel from the Lord and for our day. We are so blessed to have modern-day prophets! Meeting people that don't have that, my testimony has been strengthened greatly of how important prophets are. I love how Mikaela described her experience of reading the Book of Mormon now and how she can "see the stories" and understand them so much better as a missionary. I completely agree! I know that if we are in tune with the Spirit we will be able to be taught throught the Holy Ghost and learn so much more. Whether that be through the scriptures or school, that is one of the roles of the Holy Ghost, to teach us.
One day this past week we went to visit this 99 year old lady who is less active. We thought maybe it was a typo that she was nearing a century old, so we decided to go see how she's doing. To start the visit off, there was nooo parking so we were forced to park in the Jehovah Witnesses parking lot across the street.... hahaha then we got to her house and knocked and knocked and no answer.. It didn't look like anyone was home but I decided to knock one more time and as I did so, I sort of leaned in to peak into the window on the door.... A FACE POPPED UP and literally gave me a heart attack. This 99 year old, wide-eyed face popped up inches from my face and I like stumbled back onto the porch.. hahaha oh my crap it was the funniest thing. But anyways, she let us in and to our surprise she will be 100 next February! Crazy talk. She was in GREAT shape, like no joke. We are going to make sure some brethren help her out in repairing some things in her house and we are going to try to get her to church soon.
Our friend Shane we have met with a couple times.. he promised that he'd come to conference but that didn't happen so it was a bummer. But we are praying for him and have an appointment Wednesday! We have met so many amazing people here but it's just the progressing part that is difficult. Most people are so willing to listen and talk to us. Don't get me wrong, we have had our fair share of doors slammed in our faces, but most people here are willing to talk and think that it is an amazing thing that we go around telling people about Jesus Christ. It is just hard to convey that we have a message to give them even MORE than their faith that already exists. There are some though that teach people that we are evil, and we have come across people that have been taught to hate us. One sister that we serve with, started teaching this lady that actually holds meetings in her house about Mormons and how we are evil and don't believe in Jesus Christ.. Interesting where people get that idea ha. But they asked her why she tells people that? She said because you guys don't believe in Jesus. And the sisters explained that we most definitely do.. There really is so much opposition against the church, just as there has been ever since it was organized in 1830. It makes me laugh because people bring up all the time that some say "Don't read the book, that's how they get ya!" This one lady we talked to said she was told to never read our book or else "she'd believe".... Because that's our challenge is to find out for yourself from God :)
April 6th was a fantastic day! It was general conference, the anniversary of Christ's birth, the organization of the church, the day that Joseph Smith and the prisoners escaped after being in Liberty Jail for 4 miserable months, and it was my month mark of being out in the field! Basically a great great day. I loved when Elder Cook quoted from D&C 121. I know that these experiences that happened here at the Liberty Jail will always be very near to my heart. "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands." Such beautiful advice and counsel from the Lord. One thing that I liked realizing this past week, is the significance of the name of the LIBERTY Jail. Joseph Smith was able to turn to our Savior as he was here and that's when we was truly "free" and had liberty.
Last night we taught this family from Nigeria. Cecillia has not been well.. we just found out her father passed away and she wasn't able to go home for the funeral, which they are a huge deal in their culture and last for weeks! It just broke my heart for her. So she wasn't in the lesson last night, but her husband Babawalle and their three adorable kids were. The dad has such strong faith in Christ and he says he is willing to listen to us because we teach about Jesus Christ. Even though if "he would have known we were 'Mormons' before he wouldn't have." He also thought we were not believers in Christ.. Before he knew us that is. We taught them the first lesson and it went well! We have a return appointment for next Sunday :)
The members here are AWESOME and so helpful! They love missionaries. And were so stoked to have sisters again, for the first time in a long time. We are going to keep focusing on finding new investigators, as well as helping/strengthening less actives and recent converts. Because there are LOTS. And we are going to get more members to come out with us to help the work.
When people are not receptive here, I try to remember a quote from Joseph Smith as they were wrongfully accused, and treated terribly. In the Joseph Smith movie when he rebukes the guards, that is in Richmond, where there was a hearing before they were taken to the Liberty Jail. He wrote home to his wife "We are in good spirits and rejoice that we are counted worthy to be persecuted for Christ's sake." How powerful is that! And I know that when we are persecuted as missionaries, we should feel priveleged that we are "worthy enough to be persecuted for our Lord and our Savior." Goes along with 3 Ne 12:10
I love being a missionary and being a part of this amazing work. We truly are a part of Christ's church and we are so blessed to have the fullness of the gospel! I love it so much. Family, I miss you guys so much and love you more than you know. I don't know why I was placed in such an amazing family with the best parents but I sure am grateful. You are all amazing!
Love you so much,
Sister Smartt
PS the ONLY good thing about having a companion that is going home is that all the senior couples are fighting over taking us out to lunch and stuff. Spoiling us to no end. Which is where we are off to after emailing :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Congrats Devin & Kella!
Two Awesome Sisters!!

Last Storm!

HAPPY EASTER!! Such a great day, celebrating the Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. Something that my amazing comp Sister Minall said is "Did you know that we celebrate the resurrected Christ every time that we follow the prophet's counsel? Because only the LIVING Christ could direct the prophet today". This is literally Christ's church and once you realize that, everything falls into place. Just as He established His church when He was on the Earth, He and our Heavenly Father appeared to Joseph Smith to restore the fullness of the gospel back on the earth. We are so blessed to have this knowledge. And the knowledge that HE LIVES.
Thank you SO so so much for the packages. Seriously made my day. Favorite quote "woot woot cash money" hahaha I knew it was the result of Alisa's handwriting. So thank you all, I seriously love you so much! And the Smartt name lives on! Congrats to Devin and Kella, I am so excited you're having a boy!!!! Congrats to Michael on that award, I wasn't given too many details but it sounded awesome and was linked to MEN2A which is so cool. Yes, dad I've heard Wichita State is in the final four for NCAA tournie so basically we are a big deal out here. Bug I am so excited you started your mission papers! Best decision you will ever make. The mission is an amazing thing. The fact that we are trusted to represent our Savior Jesus Christ is incredible! We have something that can bless EVERYONE. We went on exchanges this past week and I was with Sister Lewis for a day. I learned a lot from her! One main thing though is her testimony of the fact that we are representatives of Jesus Christ at this time. She is constantly praying/striving to know what He would say or how He would act. It is such a powerful thing to realize.
One huge thing that happened this past week is going to my first zone conference! It was actually combined with other zones so there were a lot of missionaries. So powerful being in a room with that many servants of the Lord. I feel sooo strengthened by everyone else and their testimonies, it is amazing! Okay so first off, I sat up front and President Keyes picked on me twice out of all the missionaries so basically we sat in the wrong place. Ha just kidding, but really. Also, once again I love and sustain President Keyes and his sweet wife. I know they have been called of God to see over alllllll the 300+ missionaries in the Missouri Independence Mission. They are INCREDIBLE and I can feel so strongly of their spirits. But it is no surprise why the Lord has decided to split our mission. Who knows if I will be in the Wichita Kansas Mission come July or not. Either way, I am honored to be a missionary! At the conference, Pres Keyes read to us something from the first presidency. We are allowed more time to email and are encouraged to write family and friends now! Which is cool.. Our pdays were given an extra hour to make that possible. But I don't have anyone's emails so I will prob just keep writing the fam hahah. Also, they emphasized that the work is changing. We are called to not ony "find,teach, baptism,confirm, and retain." but now we add to reactivate as well! That is a huge change for the work. And the fact that there are 641 members on our ward roster, we have A LOT of work to do. After the conference, we all got to shake President Keyes hand and talk to him for a minute. He asked how my lessons were coming along and I told him I just passed off lesson three! He got really excited and said "Great job sister Smartt, you are on track to be done with them by the end of the transfer! And you will be qualified to train." I sort of froze and we laughed about it but then he told me how serious he was and how proud he was of me. There is a flood of missionaries right now and no guarantees I will have to train anytime soon but he just said be ready!
They had all of the missionaries that are leaving before next zone conference bear their testimonies and oh my crap the Spirit was sooo strong, I was nervous that the room was going to catch on fire. Let's just say this was the first time I have cried here and there were no tissues so it was a sight. First off, my amazing companion will be leaving me in about 2 weeks.... And it really hit me. She went up to bear her testimony and these are the first words that came out of her mouth "Well, today was the worst day to forget deodorant." She then went on to bear one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard. That is just her. She is one of the funnniest people you will ever meet but one of the most powerful as well! I have learned soooo much from her. And it scared me a little bit about what I am going to do without her. But I know I can do it! I just love her so much. I know the Lord knew I needed her as my first companion. And she tells me every day how grateful she is that we are comps. We have a blast but work hard and feel the Spirit all day long, it is amazing.
This week at the Liberty Jail, I feel like I was able to improve my presentations and tours a lot. I like to see all ways of doing something and then implement that into my own. So I decided to shadow some of the other sisters that I don't serve with normally. And I have added some of their techniques and analogies into my own tours which was such a help. All the sisters here are incredible and I learn so much from them. One of my favorite tours this week was by myself I took these three Samoans. (SHOCKER- everyone knows I love my polys :)) But anyways, two were members from Independence but one was not a member from New Zealand. The Spirit was so so strong and it was the first time that I felt strongly to teach more from Preach my gospel during a tour than to focus on the history/ lessons from Liberty Jail. It all flowed so nicely and I basically taught the first lesson throughout the tour and also testified of the experiences there. The nonmember from NZ really opened up and had so many questions! He was the one afterwards that kept wanting to talk and had so many questions. I hope he was touched in some way. Our calls here are amazing! We see sooo many people every day and teach not only our proselyting area but people that pass through the jail.
One evening we were tracting and knocked on this minister's door. We ended up talking to him for awhile which was interesting. He talked about how he was born again in 1974 (another one of those specific dates) and it just frustrates me because when they were "saved once" when we can be saved literally daily and again and again! Our Savior's Atonement is infinite and we can turn to Him at all times, again and again. It was also interesting because we talked a lot about the Book of Mormon and he shared how he only believes that we need the Bible. Sister Minall said, but what if God wants you to read this book Juan? And he said well I would only read it if God himself comes down and hands me the book himself. We shared that we are representing Our Savior who has brought him this book. We asked him if he would at least pray to know if he should read it or if it comes from God. And he said "Well no beacuse I am already saved and I have everything I need." Ahhhhhh how frustrating to think that people won't even pray to Heavenly Father with questions! And they don't realize that there is sooo much more we can learn. We are to be eternally progressing, it doesn't just stop. Even those people we run into here that haven't been interested, I know we met them for a reason. I learn something from them maybe to help someone else down the road who is a little more prepared. And it helps me to understand other beliefs better and where people are coming from so I can know how to soften their hearts and help them to realize that they are missing the FULLESS.
We met a lady that is Pentecostal? which is an apostelic faith? Excuse my misspellings or informal references but she believes that we only need to study the New Testament and the teachings of Christ to his apostles. It's so crazy to me because our Heavenly Father loves us sooo much! He knew we needed The Bible, the Book of Mormon, all the standard works, a living prophet today, and so much more. He has given us so many tools to return to him. And utimately his Only Begotten Son. Dan the baptist we met, he told me that he doesn't need to pray because he already has the truth. He also said "You have to accept Christ in this life, or you go to hell." MIND BLOWN. People really believe that a merciful God wouldn't give everyone a chance? He loves each of His children so so much. And those that die without a knowledge or babies that don't live to "confess that Christ is their Savior" will most definitely still get a chance. We are so blessed to have this truth.
One HUGE frustration I had this past week is when we taught Lindsay. She was a referral we recieved the very first day we got here and have talked on the phone with her quite a bit. Her appointments always fell through, but we found out she literally just had a baby so that had something to do with it ;).. But anyways, we were finally able to set up a time with her and she was stoked to meet us! We realized that she was just out of area but already had the appointment so went anyway. (knowing we would have to pass her to other missionaries). We accidentally spent three hours with her! She believes everything we believe already on her own which was incredible and she has such a strong relationship with God. The Spirit was soooooooo strong and we were best friends immediately. She had so many questions about the Plan of Salvation, we also taught her the Restoration. And she agreed with everything! Before we started she said so many things that blew my mind. She shared about how she can only imagine God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit being separate. And she figured that out on her own based off of going to other churches and knowing that that can't be right. (The trinity beliefe is huge out here) She referenced Mathew 3 when the Savior was baptized and it specifically talks about the three members of the Godhead, separately. But basically we felt such a strong connection with her and it was amazing! When we explained about other missionaries having to teach her she almost started crying. She told us that she felt so strongly connected to us two and that it made her so sad to think she can't choose who teaches her.. It was so hard! I loved her immediately and I wanted to be the one to teach her! But you know what, the gospel is the same whoever shares it and I know she will do great things. She promised she will come visit us at the jail and update us on her book of mormon reading!
Shane was Joe's friend and we met them together. (Joe is the one who's fiance is catholic, caused problems because he is interested. But we have an appointment this week with them. Fingers crossed!) Anyways, we haven't seen Shane since that first time but when we were on exchanges, sister lewis and I were nearby and I felt prompted to chech up on him. We weren't allowed in because there weren't any females home but he was so excited to see us and grabbed a coat and we talked outside for like an hour. The spirit was so strong! He opened up to us about so many of his worries/trials and it was so cool because he doesn't do that normally. And I think he was a little confused at why he felt so comfortable with us. But we bore testimony many times to him and invited him to come to church. At first he said no because he is insanely busy! He is out of work right now and has a bunch of side jobs that he needs the money for (he is very passionate about helping others and he fixes cars). I felts soooo strongly to tell him that if he puts God first, that he will be blessed to get everything done that he needs to. We talked about that for a bit and his heart was definitely softened. He said he would come to church and "take that step of faith" that we talked about. We prayed with him right there on his doorstep and it was so natural and normal, it was cool. He doesn't really pray because he doesn't know how so we talked to him about that and showed him how and told him that we are literally just talking to our Father. He loved it! He asked us to come back so we have an appointment with him on Tuesday. It was really sad because he didn't end up coming to church yesterday.. I know he was scared and worried and nervous so I understand that it would've been really hard for him to do, but we will work with him, I know he has so much potential! And I know for a fact he knew what we were saying yesterday was true. The Spirit told him so.
I basically write a novel every email so my apologies. Just know that I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. We are so blessed. I am so blessed! I love this gospel with all my heart and I love my Savior and my Father in Heaven. And every day my appreciation grows for the gift of the Holy Ghost that I have been given to lead and guide my life/mission. He is literally a member of the Godhead that we are able to have with us at all times if we live worthy of Him.
Much love,
Sister Smartt :)
PS. There are sooooo many other stories/experiences that happened. I love my mission. Oh and some funny things as well. There is this apartment complex right by where we live called the ashley acres and everyone that lives there is a part of this crazy cult.... hahah so it is interesting. Also, at dinner one night at these member's house their cat killed a bird right before our eyes and it scared the crap out of me! Also, a bijillion other funny things happened and I could go on. But I will save you the grief. LOVE YOU ALL!
"Just as God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, as we become more like Him, neither can we. The best people have a heightened awareness of what little of the worst is still in them." -Elder Neal A. Maxwell