Monday, August 26, 2013

HOLY blowup mattress - literally!
Ended up on the floor by morning!

Cleaning the Harsh's apartment while
Felix was at work.

Karen and her many missionaries!! She is adorable!!

My favorite picture of Felix at his baptism!! Smiling!!
Felix at his baptism with daughter Alysia.  Serenity was
being a stinker and wouldn't take a picture with us :(

Alysia (Felix's daughter) - she is too funny and I'm obviously
laughing too hard!

Great week in the work of the Lord! Slightly insane as well, but overall it was awesome. Felix and Karen were both baptized and confirmed!!!! Happy days!! First off, Satan is REAL holy cow. He worked extra hard this past week. 

Tuesday afternoon we get a call from Elder Taylor (assistant to the pres.) asking us to be moved out that day.. So basically, in between appointments, we threw our stuff together and packed our apartment into our car. We are now living with the Gardner family who live outside of our area. They were told the day of as well so let's just say we are slightly crammed in their basement. We are grateful for a roof over our heads though. We were given one bed and one holy (literally) blowup mattress, which deflated. So I ended up on the floor for the first three nights. Aka no sleep for this sister. For some reason we hadn't even thought to ask for another bed, we were just trying to tough it out.. haha. Anyways, the zone leaders found out I was sleeping on the floor and were slightly appalled! They had us go buy a mattress so we got that all taken care of.. It has been interesting because we are basically living out of our suitcases (no closet space) and we do our studies on the kitchen floor....

We aren't sure how long we will be living there and it will be interesting this week on bikes. It is a nice long and hilly bike ride just to get out to our proselyting area!! Supposedly they want us to be fit or something. Adventures adventures. Also, planning for the baptisms and getting everything organized was madness, especially running on zero sleep. Oh and both of our allergies went haywire living out there. I bought some meds at the gas station and took them without reading all the side effects (drowsiness) that contributed to the insanity hahaha. So embarrassing! I fell asleep for the first time in an appointment! And it happened TWICE. First occurrence: visiting Sister Crump (less active) and her apartment was very dark and hot so it made me even more sleepy. Not to mention she can TALK :) but we love her so much haha. Second: We got to visit Joyce (our sweetest deaf friend) and we watched the Restoration DVD in sign language. Her apartment was also very dimmed and hot, and it was silent because we watched it in ASL. So funny/embarrassed..

Enough about that. The baptisms turned out so so great!! We had some fun doing our studies at the church Saturday morning while the font filled up (took a couple of hours). The pianist called an hour before the baptism to let us know he forgot he had to play at a wedding the same time.. so last minute craziness there. Then the brother giving a talk didn't show up until they were literally going to forgo the talk and move on... he walked in JUST in time haha. The AC wasn't working so everyone was sweating.. 

But what matters, is that both Felix and Karen were able to make beautiful covenants with our Father in Heaven and they are now official members! The Spirit is so strong at a baptism and it was so great. My favorite part of this week would have to be the confirmations. Satan again worked hard on both Felix and Karen on their way to the church.. They made it in the nick of time. But hearing Bishop confirm them a member of Christ's Church and to listen as they received the Holy Ghost, I was sooo overwhelmed by the Spirit. I know without a doubt that this Church is true and we are so blessed to have all of the blessings of the restored gospel. Including the GIFT of receiving a member of the Godhead to be with us at all times as long as we live worthy of Him.

This week will be finding new investigators!! We are grateful to have another transfer here in Manhattan together and know that the Lord kept us here for a reason. There are brothers and sisters of ours that are prepared and ready to hear the gospel. It is just a matter of finding them :)

A quote that I loved in Sister Crump's apartment- 
"Please be patient. God isn't finished with me yet." (Story of my life!)

I love you all. I'm sad I wasn't there to hear your farewell talk, Bug, but I am so stoked for you to head out into the mission field. You will be an amazing missionary.

Sister Smartt

PS All missionaries should be given a dog. We were walking down the street with a member and her three dogs and everyone was drawn to us. Key to success=walk a dog, people automatically love you.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our District!

these sweet cat socks Shawn gave me...
hahahah - fit my nickname in Hawaii - kitten 

We were out of bowls so these little cups for
 mac n cheese - haha!

 mac n cheese on my half bday - Thanks Sis Ferguson

FELIX!!!!! He is so awesome!!!!!

Happy late birthday to Sienna!!! Can't believe she's already one.. mind blown.
Oh and congrats to my baby bro who's giving his farewell talk in less than a week!! Don't judge me when I am crying my eyes out next Sunday because I am just so proud. But really haha. Wish I was there, but I'm grateful we are able to be in the Lord's work together. El Salvador will be so blessed to have your service Bug, go get em!

So transfers were announced this morning through email.. but President Bell is hilarious and can't keep a secret so he actually told Sister Stewart and I on the phone a couple days ago. WE'RE BOTH STAYING!!! More miracles to be seen in the Little Apple.

K for starters, we are officially in a college town and school's back in session. Living across from a fraternity and so close to campus is pretty wild. Let's just say there are lots of our brothers and sisters around here that need the gospel. Oh and I got offered my first beer. Typical. Maybe we'll check back up when they're not under the influece.. ha

Yesterday, church was fantastic. I really do love this ward and area soo so much. I'm so grateful to have more time here! Felix and Serenity were able to come to church!! One of my favorite parts of church yesterday was yes Sister Pacada's talk about losing yourself in serving others, but also having a staring contest with Serenity and a funny face war. I love that girly so much! She reminds me soo much of Brynlee still and it freaks me out. Love my little twins ha. And yes Felix is still as amazing as ever. It has been so great preparing for his baptism THIS Saturday! We are beyond stoked for him. I know that Heavenly Father is so proud of the changes he has made in his life and has sooo many blessings waiting for him.

Miracle this week: There is noooo doubt in my mind that Sister Stewart and I were called here to Manhattan, KS specifically for Felix. It has been thee coolest thing to see the Lord's hands in this work and I know he led us to him. He was so prepared and now has the strongest testimony, it is amazing! He is already such a great missionary and shares the gospel with everyone around him. Oh and he is basically already a member, taking care of the missionaries and all. He signed up for dinner and cooked us the yummiest food. Also, HE prepared a lesson for us.. hahaha talk about golden!

Karen is also getting baptized this Saturday!!! She is the sweetest. She was able to come to church with us yesterday and is so committed. There are still some things the sisters hadn't taught her so we will be meeting with her almost every day this week. 

We went and checked up on the Self familia and they are still same-o same-o.. Natasha (The mom) really wants to find a new job that won't make her work on Sunday so that she will be able to attend church with us. We're praying for a miracle with that!

One experience this week really stood out to me. We met this lady named Jennifer and she was really nice but said she has problems with our church.. She is Baptist I believe and said "Well your church doesn't believe in being saved by grace. You believe you have to earn your way to heaven." It has been interesting as a missionary to have people tell YOU what you believe.. but anyways, it just broke my heart because that is such a common misunderstanding. One of my favorite talks in the whole world (His Grace Is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox) talks exactly about that. I don't have it with me to quote but basically he answers Jennifer's very question. No we are not "earning" our way to heaven. We are LEARNING our way to heaven and we are practicing for it. Jesus Christ sacrificed for us and made an investment in us. I learn more and more every day how much I need Jesus Christ in my life. I have a loooong ways to go and I am so grateful for my testimony of the Atonement to know that as long as I am trying my best, the Lord will do the rest. 

I am so grateful for my mission. It is helping me to learn more and more about the gospel and to become closer to my Savior. I hope to be a completely changed disciple of Christ after my mission. And speaking of.... time is flying way too fast!!! It's stressing me out haha. There is no way I've already been out six months.. aka I have only one year left but we aren't going to talk about that.

I love you all so much and am so grateful for the love and support. Ya'll are awesome. CPR (church, pray, read), live the gospel and talk to Heavenly Father constantly. There are people around you that need the gospel!!!

"Forget yourself and go to work" 

Sister Smartt
PS. Because so many of our friends are from Ecuador, I have been practicing mi espanol. 
"Hola. Yo soy una missionaria para la iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos dias" 
(don't judge the spelling. I'm just grateful I was called to preach the gospel in English)

PSS special shoutout: I am mostly grateful for more time in Manhattan to have another chance for FINGER PIE. Hahahahah love you Alysia, you are my favorite :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rogger!! Eating chocolate.  He always gives us
 candy from Ecuador when we see him.

Sina!! From American Samoa.  She has been
going with us to appointments.

Sad farewell with Carlos...he is AWESOME!!!
Sister Fran Swan!!! Always cooks for Felix and
brings them cookies.  Biggest sweetheart ever.

Zone conference last week!  

Yesterday was such a high. We have been so blessed!! 

First off, I learned soo much this past week and feel like my testimony grew so much as well. I started reading Jesus the Christ along with my scripture studies and it has been incredible. Oh and did you all know that animals really do go to heaven!? I was studying in Revelations and then ended up in the Bible Dictionary and it says on page 763 "Animals are resurrected from the dead, and there are animals in heaven, redeemed by the blood of Christ." I thought this was so cool! We will see Simbers again!!!! And Lex- STORMEE!! Hahaha

Another quote I loved in Jesus the Christ was "The purposes of God, as they ever have been and ever shall be, are infinitely superior to the deepest designs of men or devils." (JTC pg.20) The Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ overcomes all. Yeah, Satan is extremely powerful and is more involved in our lives than we realize, but light always overcomes darkness. I love the Mormon Messages by Elder Bednar about Revelation and his teachings on light. So powerful. It has been thee coolest experience watching people fill their lives with light to help them overcome the darkness that previously existed.

Felix is still AMAZING!! He was so bold with his boss this past week and told him that he will NOT be available on Sundays anymore. So they were able to come to church yesterday! :) Sacrament meeting and the lessons were absolutely perfect. Watching Felix transform/progress/grow/change these past three months have helped to strengthen my testimony so much. He has truly applied the Atonement and the gospel of Jesus Christ into his life and there is such a noticeable difference in him and his home. I love being a missionary. He is soooo ready for baptism. 12 days and counting!

Guess what? SHAWN CAME TO CHURCH. Ahhh best surprise ever. We were actually prayerfully considering dropping her because she wasn't progressing at all and we had role played on how we were going to bring it up to her. We get to her house and she had this whole speech planned out about how she didn't want us to feel like she was using us and she doesn't want to waste our time. Tender mercy that she was prepared for this talk! We bore testimony to her that this IS our Savior's church and we allowed the Spirit to work within her. We asked her if she has done her part in finding out and done all that she could.. She admitted honestly that "Well, no I haven't." We told her that there are blessings WAITING for her but she has to do her part. She then committed to come to church and "test the waters". Brother Coleman's talk was absolutely perfect for her and she was taking notes the whole time. Miracle noted!

Saturday afternoon we had like 20 minutes of extra time before dinner and so we decided to knock a couple houses. Little did we know- that was Heavenly Father's way of leading us to Suzanne!! The first door we knocked on was this sweetest old lady, named Suzanne, who is visiting from California. She was almost in tears when she talked to us and shared her experiences with the Church. She used to meet with missionaries in Virginia and has been to church many times. After she moved to California she hasn't been able to find her "Men in Black" and has missed meeting with missionaries. We invited her to come to church with us and she came! Also, we got all of her information and sent it in so that missionaries will contact her. Tender mercy it was finding a lost sheep!

Karen is the sweetest spirit! She is from Ecuador and has been meeting with the University Branch Sisters but has 2 kids back home so she is going to start attending our ward. We ran into her the other day, miraculously, and were able to build a relationship with her and pick her up for church. She is also set for August 24th to be baptized!!

Rogger is still doing so well. He wasn't able to come to church yesterday but he promised that next week he will be there! And cool miracle with him: We had an appointment bail on us and we decided to check up on Rogger and confirm plans for our appointment. We show up and talk to him for awhile and had a little lesson outside. It was good and we didn't think much of it. But afterwards, he asks "Do you believe in angels?" And we were kind of caught off guard because that wasn't at all what the conversation was about. But answered "Yes of course!" Talked a little bit about how our spirits are eternal and that definitely angels or spirits watch over us. He then explained that he had a really rough day and was very homesick/depressed. His friend Sixto had asked him to go to the gym but Rogger decided to stay home and sleep because he was so down.. Right after that is when we showed up! And he shared how we were "his angels" and that he felt sooo much better. It was the coolest thing! He is so humble and has such a sweet spirit about him. I love our Ecuadorians here.

I love my mission so much. I love this gospel. And I love Manhattan. At least another week in the Little Apple for this sista!

Love you all,

Sister Smartt 

'"The great test of life is obedience to God". We are not here to test or "prove" God, but to be tested and proved ourselves. We are on trial, not God." -President Ezra Taft Benson

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Serenity!!!! Love this girly so much!!!!

Shawn gave us a bunch of stuff including these Bahama
Bucks umbrella!! Made me so happy!!

Sister Levesa and yummy chips straight from Samoa!

August 5, 2013

Yesterday (being fast sunday and all) Bishop had asked for the ward to do a special fast for missionary work! There is a greater excitement in the ward and it is so awesome. Having two sets of missionaries in the ward, they're really buckling down! The lesson in relief society yesterday was soo so great. It was all on missionary work and how we can prepare our kids (future kids) for missions.. and it just made me think back on allllll the many experiences/people/examples that helped to prepare me.  I was really overwhelmed with the Spirit and felt way too blessed as I reminisced on primary, young women's, girls camps, EFY's, youth conferences, my PARENTS, siblings, friends in high school, amazing people I met from work and college... the list goes on. I was in tears just remembering the examples that I have had in my life and I don't know why I have been so blessed. They kept talking about what they can do in their homes and what is most important to help prepare their kids.. I just kept thinking it really all comes down to example. That is how Christ led- is by example. That's how my parents led- is by example. Madre and pops, catching you praying so many nights has reaaally helped me when I've needed it. Whenever I am completely overwhelmed and about to break, I flashback to picturing you kneeling by your bed in prayer and know that's what I need to turn to. So thank you.
Let's talk about Felix! He is doing so well. Baptismal date is set for August 24th!! :) He would like Bishop to be the one to baptize him and we have started talking details. We have almost taught all of the lessons and all of the commandments.. we just have follow the prophet and obey and honor the law left. So after that we will start going back through and helping to strengthen his testimony even more! We explained the interview process for before baptism and went through the questions with him.. it was SO COOL. For many of the questions he had such powerful answers. For the question about the church and gospel of Jesus Christ being restored through the prophet Joseph Smith he just said "I have no doubt in my mind." His faith WILL help him to overcome his smoking/coffee addictions and I just know it. Knowing that transfers will be before his baptism makes me extremely nervous..... but we are going to ask president for permission to make sure we are there for it. We realized Felix kept pushing the date for sooner so that Sister Stewart and I can be there but he was doing it for us not for him... and we know that August 24th is a good date and a good goal for him and his circumstances.
I was studying in Mark this past week and I loved chapter 10 and in verse 23 "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" A man came to Christ and asked about receiving eternal life and what he needs to do. Christ recites some of the commandments to him and the man says that he has already been doing that. So then Christ tells him that what he lacked was to give to the poor. And another verse that stood out to me was "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." These were such powerful verses to me about the danger of riches. And Felix is an amazing example to us about this! He was just offered a pretty good job that would have paid a lot more and he turned the offer down because he knew it would take too much time away from his family and he said he had a bad feeling about it. He says that all he needs is a roof over his family and enough money to keep them fed. We shared this with him one night and thanked him for the great example he is to us.
We neeed to find new investigators.. we are trying our best to work with the members in finding and I know it will pay off. But this past week we had many tracting adventures... hahah. We met Moaning Myrtle off of Harry Potter. I'm sure it was her. Creepiest door approach I have ever experienced. Also, we met tons of investigators that fit under the single's branch sisters and also the elders.. so we got to meet lots of awesome people but most were passed off which is always hard. We did meet one new investigator though! Her name is Keasha and she is just great. She's met with missionaries in the past in Junction City and is open to learning again :)
We have been helping Shawn again. She isn't doing too well.. and it is super frustrating and hard knowing how to help her because it all comes down to her agency. We are trying to be more bold with her so she understands our purpose more fully. But the most important part that we feel- is to testify to her that we can't understand all of her trials but our Savior understands perfectly. Sparkles and Lil Sis love her but can only do so much for her and the rest is up to her.. It has just strengthened my testimony so much in helping her and also has made me realize how very real Satan is.
We got to teach Carlos last night!! He is incredible. We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and it was such a powerful Spirit that was felt there. He accepted the invitation for baptism and he is just so solid. He has suuuch a strong faith. We are going to miss him, he leaves soon to go back to Ecuador. But I just know he will be an amazing member down the road and I could so picture him as a bishop in no time. Oh and he asked us how he can serve a mission once he gets baptized! Haha he is unreal. We explained how important families are and that he should raise his kids right now but that he can be a missionary wherever he goes. He liked that answer.
My favorite quote for the week: "Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words." SO true. Just be an example to those around you and let them know who you are, why you're here and where you're going. And you can do that through the person you are and how you act/treat others. We are in some amazing times right now and I know that the Lord is in charge of this work so let's all help Him out and share the gospel with all those that we meet.
I love you all!
Sister Smartt
July 29, 2013

I totally forgot to acknowledge the cutest letters that the primary kids from back home wrote me! It was the best surprise ever. They all drew me pictures and wrote a little letter. I was laughing so hard at some of them. Here are a couple that were off the wall that made me laugh:
"I do not like Bufuloe. I do not like fish. I do not like tunue. I do not like lozers. I like you you are nice. By Noah." Then he drew a picture of a tank to go right a long with his message.... haha
Next- "Have fun teaching the gosple to other people. What is your favorite color I like gold. I like you bye." Hahahah sooo stinking cute. I love kids too much.

This week was a pretty good one! Let's start out with Felix. He committed to prepare for baptism on August 10th!!! So just 2 Saturdays away. He is so so awesome. They weren't able to attend church because he had an interview during our church time.. but we have still been meeting with him often. And we set up an appointment tomorrow for him to receive a priesthood blessing by Bishop :) He is overcoming smoking/drinking coffee and we both felt prompted to teach him about priesthood blessings and he was so excited for that extra strength from the Lord. 

Also, miracle time! Felix was really interested in getting a set of scriptures just like ours (a quad) and so we told him that those cost like $40 but we can get them separately for him for free or we could get him a set for his baptism as a gift.. he really wanted it so he said he was going to start saving up. We decided to order him separate copies of the standard works anyway.. the VERY next day the sisters showed up to give us the Bible we ordered. And in their hands was a super nice quad!!! They said they miraculously were given that and they didn't know why so they decided to give it to us. Tender mercy from the Lord for sure. We got Felix's name engraved on them and have them all ready to give to him! We are debating to wait until his baptism or if we should do it sooner... knowing my personality I will give in earlier because I am just not one for surprises. Too anxious ha..

Serenity quote of the week: We were sitting outside talking to them and I sat down next to Serenity and started asking about her picture Book of Mormon that we got her and if she's been reading it. She said "Ohhh yes I love to. I love reading it to Baby Girl too. (their kitten) And so baby girl really just loves church and she'd love to come. But don't worry I will just put pretty clothes on her and we will put these glass slippers from my barbie and she will be soooo polite!" Hahahaha I was dying. She is the cutest. I told her sadly (not really though) cats and animals can't come to church with us.. but that we can tell them ALL about it afterwards haha.

Saturday we got to attend a baptism for someone in the Manhattan 2nd Ward and it was so great! It was also the worst morning ever ha. Apryl called last minute to tell us she wouldn't be able to go anymore (even though we found her a ride....) and while we were on the phone with her, Felix texted us saying he was soooo sorry but just got called into work and couldn't go. Double whammy and we were devastated. But after the baptism- it was so great! President and Sister Bell were there and we had a testimony meeting with all the missionaries and an investigator. SO so powerful and the Spirit was so strong. Made me want to be a missionary for the rest of my life.

Even though Apryl cancelled on the baptism she was still able to come to sacrament meeting! She is so great haha. I looove being around her. She is in her 60's I believe and has the most energy out of anyone I know. She is soo so positive and enthusiastic about life, I love it. All throughout church she is always going "Hmmmmhmmm" and "AMEN" in her awesome black raspy voice, it is fantastic.

We had exchanges and Sister Call came to our area for the day. Man it was the best ever!!! We had soo much fun! I really look up to her and am so grateful to be serving around her. Also, we may have fallen asleep sitting up in studies and that was the funniest moment of my life. The elders knocked at the door which woke us both up and we were terrified. She went over and opened it and just started rambling for a good 5 minutes, having no idea what she was saying. Hahahaha I was laughing sooo hard. First time I have fallen asleep in studies and it was a scary feeling- thank goodness missionaries aren't exempt from repenting.

Cool story! We went to check up on a former investigator named Kenneth. He answered and was about to ask if we could reschedule but there was a lady behind him that was appalled. She was like "Kenneth this is a sign from God- let them in!!" We were kind of taken off guard/ so happy. So we head in and get to know them. Louisa was the lady's name. She is Muslim and just got out of jail. But as we bore testimony to her of the restored gospel she started bawling! She just kept telling us that she knows God sent us and that she needed that visit. She kept intensely staring at me the whole lesson and it was kind of freaking me out. But towards the end she said "You guys just have this LIGHT in your eyes and I want some of that." Sister Stewart and I looked at each other and just tried not to cry/laugh thinking of Shawn. We are going to meet with Kenneth and Louisa tonight!

We're still teaching Roggar from Ecuador! He is so awesome. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and talked a lot about baptism. He always has lots of questions :) But he said he knows what we teach him is true but he is still attending another church and feels bad going to two churches.. He says if his ride doesn't pick him up for the other church he would love to come with us! So we may have prayed that his ride wouldn't be able to pick him up.. haha. But he is just such a sweet man! All the Ecuadorians we meet here are sooo friendly/open to learning and it is awesome. It is also a problem because they are too nice to say no.

There's a less active sister (Losi) that just moved into our ward that we were asked to go fellowship! She is from American Samoa so obviously I was stoked about that. Her mom and sister are staying with her for awhile to help out because she just had a baby. Cutest baby ever!!! Her name is Rocki Lynn. We loove visiting them and were able to help them get a ride to church. Also, there is this less active lady named Angela that we felt like we should check up on. She lives on an isolated farm and it is sooooo pretty out there holy cow. It is so green and I felt like we were in a jungle. She is totally open to visits so we are going to start teaching her.

We have been so blessed here in Manhattan. I love this ward so much! And I LOVE the people we're teaching. Being a missionary is the greatest. The church is true and the book is blue. I love the Book of Mormon more and more each day and I challenge all of you to read from it every day! It has been the coolest experience to see such a huge strength/power in my own life but in the lives of those we teach as they actually read and keep their commitments. One huge thing I have learned so far on my mission is the importance of serving. Jesus Christ was ALWAYS serving and that is the example he left us. I have seen such a huge strength in our relationships out here with companions, investigators, members as we just serve. (James 1:27 and a quote "Service is the very definition of pure religion.")

Love you all,

Sister Smarttttt

PS funny story yesterday that I just remembered. So Sister Stewart and I were in a huge hurry but a member had told us to come by to get some cookies for Felix. So we stopped by and her husband (who doesn't like missionaries..) answered. He hesitantly let us in then ran to his room and said his wife would be out soon.. So we were awkwardly waiting there for a good 10 minutes debating if we should leave because we didn't hear a peep. Still nothing. Then the dog pees on the floor right by us.. It was the most uncomfortable situation and we were both laughing uncontrollably because we didn't know what else to do. We were not very welcomed, then waiting in the entryway forever and the dog makes a mess that we didn't know what to do with! Adventures of a missionary.