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. LOVE YOU ALL, 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!