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.
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