Monday, September 23, 2013

Sis Stewart and I caught on camera by surprise

Our great district leader Elder Cottle who
was transferred last week.

Good morning!! 

This past week we had interviews with President Bell. He is seriously the funniest and can't keep a secret. He spilled the beans.. Next week, Sister Stewart will be transferred to somewhere in Wichita and I will be staying here in the Little Apple to train a new missionary. No pressure......

Felix received the priesthood yesterday!!! Oh happy day! All of our investigators bailed on church.. Most had a good "excuse" but it was still rough. Seeing Felix receive this sacred calling and responsibility made my day!

We are still teaching Apryl and I sure do love that woman so much. Her husband passed away last week... It is so hard watching her hurt. She is such a strong woman though! She still wanted us to come over for our appointment and coincidentally enough, we were on the Plan of Salvation. It has been so cool to comfort her with the truths of the gospel. I know that our message is true and it does bring the greatest peace that can be offered in this life and eternal life to come. 

Susan is soo so great. We had a powerful lesson with her this past week and the Spirit was SO strong. She basically already agrees with everything we teach her and when we taught about the Great Apostasy and the need for the Restoration, she basically re-taught it in her own words and talked about how it just made sense. And that is so true. IT JUST MAKES SENSE! We invited her to be baptized :) She wouldn't commit to a date yet but I am confident that she is so prepared and will be ready in no time. She is also the sweetest ever and made Sister Stewart and I bracelets. People are so nice out here, I just love them.

A couple weeks ago we were walking home and I felt prompted to go to this genealogy library that we were passing. We wandered in there and met the volunteers and got talking. They agreed to let us come back and help out there. After talking to the AP's, who then got permission from President, we are approved to serve there once a week! Everyone that we have met there has a background with Mormons (not common around here) and they all seem so prepared. We better start heating up those baptismal fonts.

We are still teaching Fatima and Juliana from Ecuador. Karen has been MIA.... NOT good.. we are so worried! She hasn't been to church in three weeks! It is so hard having to worry. Definitely keep her in your prayers. I feel like this is one big melting pot because of K State. The other day we met and taught Miriam from Iran and she's Muslim. Then met this guy that was Hindu from a place near India and were able to teach him the Restoration. Next door was Lynn from China with a Buddhist background. It it so awesome meeting our brothers and sisters from all around the world and getting a taste of so many different cultures!

My studies this past week were my absolute favorite. I want to be a missionary forever and ever because I am just learning so much every day. I loved reading D&C 138 and the insight about the missionary work going on in the Spirit world. So stinking cool.

Quote of the week:
"The purpose of the gospel is to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature." -President David O. Mckay
I have a very strong testimony of this and the redeeming and enabling powers of the Atonement. It is so real.

Hope ya'll have a greaaat week!! Sister Smartt loves you.

Monday, September 16, 2013

We were so cute - matching on exchanges - hahaha!!

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Sisters Fortuna & Hodson - matching on exchange
Sis Call's madre sent her this apron - haha

It was a great week in the work of the Lord! It felt soooo good to work hard and to know that Sister Stewart and I gave it our all.

I have a very strong testimony of the power in praying for specific things/goals. We have been praying constantly that we will be led to those that are prepared and ready to hear the gospel and I felt like we were doing all that we could but we were lacking specificity with our goals. And after our zone meeting this past week, I was just re-pumped to be a missionary basically. I am so grateful for the examples that I have around me to strengthen my testimony and to give me a boost when I am lacking the faith that I need. As a mission, we are going to start keeping track of how many copies of the Book of Mormon we give out daily and really focus on using it as our main tool in teaching everyone we meet. (it always should be, but we needed this extra reminder/strength and we were able to give away 16 after this focus was made!) 

Anyways, so we pray a bijillion times a day right? Well I decided that I, personally, need to be more specific in my prayers and in the goals that I ask for help from the Lord. So one day we set out and I asked Heavenly Father to help us find 4 prepared people that we could give these 4 copies of the Book of Mormon to. And guess what? He led us to 6 that day!!! And we only had a short amount of time for proselyting so it was a miracle, no doubt. 

Right now we are teaching this lady named Susan, who is sooo so great. She is such a sweetheart. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and we invite her to pray as she reads but she doesn't see the need to pray until she finishes it. We really focused on the importance of the Spirit and its role to teach us as we study/learn. She said the closing prayer which was soo amazing and hopefully she has been praying this week as well as reading. Also, she is planning on coming to a service project with us for Relief Society this week, which will be way awesome.

We are still teaching Apryl! She had a death in her family.. so she had been out of town. But she was able to come to church! When we got to her house to pick her up for church, she told us that she had been sick all morning but she felt that the prayers at church would help so she was going to try it out... Needless to say, she didn't last long and ended up running out in the middle of sacrament meeting and then Sister Wangsgaard took her home.. ha but what faith Apryl has! Love that woman. NO ONE can stop her hahah.

Exchanges were this past week and it was interesting spending the day in the University Branch with Sister Hodson (from PG, UT and knows Hilary and Sam!!) and Sister Fortuna. They didn't have any appointments set up so we did A LOT of street contacting around campus, which was so different from anything I have experienced yet on my mission. People were surprisingly nice and we were able to teach many lessons just out and about. We did have a funny experience at the end of the day.. we were all pretty beat/delirious but these three white guys passed by us and I offered them a card. They said sure! (note: no accent was noticed) Sister Hodson went on to ask if they had a belief in God. They just stared at us with thee most confused looks on their faces. She re-asked the question and they just continued to stare. I, thinking they had misunderstood her, asked it again and rephrased God as Higher Power. We all felt like we were dreaming and thought they were A) Drunk or B) playing dumb and just making things awkward on purpose (typical college guy hahah jk) but anyways. They finally started talking and we found out they were from Brazil! They didn't look foreign at all so we weren't expecting that.. but I threw in a couple Spanish words- iglesia and Jesucristo  (close enough to Portuguese yeah?) and they looked a lot more comfortable and began talking. It was funny/we laughed real hard after ha.

I re-found a favorite talk this past week!! It is "The Challenge to Become" by Dallin H. Oaks and I looove love it. It incorporated so many of my favorite scriptures/quotes. Here are a couple favorites from it:

"The Final Judgement is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts- what we have done. It is an acknowledgement of the final effect of our acts and thoughts- what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become."

"Our needed conversions are often achieved more readily by suffering and adversity than by comfort and tranquility"

This week, focus on something that is keeping you from being completely in tune with the Spirit and from becoming what Heavenly Father has designed you to become. Be specific with your goals and Heavenly Father and our Savior WILL help you. I am so grateful for the gospel and this plan that has been revealed to us and the help that is there for us. I love this Church and I love being a missionary!!

Sister Smartt

Monday, September 9, 2013

Basically I don't have too much to say this week.. Maybe it will come to me as I start writing! But for starters, happy birthday to my Brynlee Bear on Friday!!!! I can't believe she is already five.. literally blows my mind. I love you so much Bryn and miss you guys like crazy! Also, congrats to Devin and Kella! I can't believe I will meet a new nephew that will probably be walking by the time I get home.. Looks like such a stud and I am so happy Heavenly Father brought him to our family.

Our zone is really focusing on finding! There are 11 missionaries here in Manhattan which means the Lord has prepared the hearts of many and there is a great work here. It is just a matter of finding those prepared people and fulfilling our purpose here in the Little Apple..

On Saturday, the Junction City missionaries planned a fiesta for investigators and members and invited all of us. Sister Stewart and I decided to go and Apryl was able to come with.... which turned into a crazy adventure. Sister Christensen (love her) drove us all out there and the adventures began. After arriving we found out that Apryl had fallen about 45 minutes earlier and had hit her head pretty bad. She had the hugest bump on the back of her head and ended up sick in the bathroom. We finally talked her into going to the hospital. On our way out, she heard the kids hitting a pinata (wish I could find the n with the squiggle on top)... and so Apryl ran back in and started cheering the kids on. She was a riot!! She couldn't even walk straight but she was determined to enjoy the party and talk to everyone she could... It was scary/hilarious. We finally got her out of there and got her to Manhattan so she could go to the hospital. As she was leaving she just kept saying "Don't even worry ladies, I will be at service tomorrow". Hahah that is is determination holy cow.

And she was! She still came to church the next day. Concussion and all. Church was really great. I have never looked forward to church as much as I do as a missionary. I need it every week. Even when I don't realize it, every week I always feel sooo much better after being able to partake of the sacrament and be uplifted/strengthened so that I can strengthen others that week. I really loved the lessons and needed them. For myself and for those we are teaching. After church, we were able to teach Rene, who is 10 years old. Her mom is a member but Rene isn't baptized (yet). She is such a sweet girl and I just love her so much. It is soo different teaching a 10 year old by themselves. Having to really focus on the plain and simple truths puts things into a new perspective. It is also a struggle because she has ADHD and is mildly autistic.. It has been hard but I just so badly want her to feel loved and to know her worth. She was sooo nervous but we helped her to say the closing prayer! (first prayer she has ever said...)

Also, two days this past week were pretty crazy. The sisters in the University Branch are a trio and two of them had to go to Wichita for the leadership meeting. So last minute they had us go stay in their area with Sister Fortuna. It was pretty wild trying to keep up with two areas and work together. It was just supposed to be one day but turned into two because one of the sisters got sick. So we were running back and forth between our apartments and ended up staying there. The other sister has only been out for a couple weeks so I was so weirded out that I was the one that had been out the longest out of us three and really felt responsible to keep us going and obedient. It was interesting.

Pray for Sister Stewart and I that we will be led by the Spirit to those that are ready and prepared to hear the gospel. I am so grateful to be a missionary! 

"Work will win when wishy-washy wishing won't" -Pres. Monson
"Moments are the molecules that make up eternity"
"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can read"
(Some favorites from this week)

I love you all and hope you have a great week! 
Sister Smartt

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Had to document the day of the flat bike tire - hahaha

We moved back into our old apartment!! Home sweet home. Maybe we needed a week of sleeping on the floor and living out of a suitcase to realize how blessed we are?! But we are beyond happy to be settled back in. Oh and today started out so great. Why? Because we pulled out the Christmas music!!!! Happy day! Don't judge.  (added further explanation in another email:  Haha okay let me explain all of the moving chaos. So there was going to be this new basement apartment in the 2nd ward (not our ward) but only sisters could live there and there are only elders in the 2nd ward. So they were going to have us live in that basement when it was finished. And we were living at the Gardners (Jim and Martha- I think they are related to the same gardners as Brent & Kristine because they are related to all those gardners in st george they said!) but anyways, after having us live there for a week they realized that it wasn't the smartest to have us live an hour bike ride away from our area.... that's how long it took us when we had to bike from their house!!! But yeah. So they had the 2nd ward elders who lived in our apartment for a week move in with the zone leaders and they moved us back into our old apartment. So looks like we will get to stay there hopefully :) kind of confusing

This past week definitely had its ups and downs, but such is life. Let's get the "downs" out of my system real quick. Plus they are kind of funny stories. So Sister Stewart and I were on bikes this past week which happened to be the hottest week everrrrr. Holy smokes. I have never sweated so much in my life ha. But one afternoon we had appointments that were wayyy far apart that we were hoping to get rides to but never did. We were biking way across town to this appointment that the elders had set up for us after meeting a lady that was interested. So we are biking our little hearts out trying to make it in time and literally dripping sweat (again don't judge) and I turn around to check on Sis Stewart as we are biking up this hill and find that she is farther back and calling for me.... so I turn around to find her with a flat back tire.. Interesting afternoon to say the least. We tried walking our bikes for awhile but because we were racing the clock she had me ride her flat bike and we eventually made it to the appointment! Who wasn't even home.... awesome. hahah. But wanna hear something cool? We were beyond hot and delirious/dehydrated that I literally didn't think I could do it anymore. I remember just praying the whole time and afterwards I realized that the Lord was basically pedaling for me. I have a testimony that even in silly situations like having a flat bike tire, the Lord will strengthen us if we turn to Him. And send angels to help us. Aka Sister Pacada (Relief Society pres.) came to save the day! We were able to drop off our bikes to get fixed, then we went and visited a less active that has been in the hospital. Sweetest lady ever and SO positive holy cow.

Another night this week we were dropped off at these apartments that we had two appointments set up for that evening. BOTH appointments bailed on us so we were kind of frustrated, knowing that there was a big event going on across town that would have been good to go to and meet people. But we decided we were stranded at those apartments for a reason and saw some tender mercies. The first door we knocked on was this sweetest lady (Natalie) from Russia who sat and talked with us, accepted a Book of Mormon and we were able to teach her the first lesson of the Restoration of the gospel. The next door we knocked on was this lady, Jennifer, that also accepted a Book of Mormon, and was receptive to learning more about the Restoration of the gospel and committed to come to church next week. Door number three was this sweet black guy that was so nice! He ALSO accepted a Book of Mormon and we were able to teach him more. Three doors in a row, that is like a record!! The Lord is definitely in charge of His work.

Felix and Karen are both doing soo so good! It has been amazing to see them as official members of the Lord's church. We went to Felix's the other morning to drop off his baptism book we made him and I was so overwhelmed by the Spirit as soon as we went into their apartment. The change that the gospel has made in his life and in his family is literally visible and I could also FEEL it. The Church is true my friends.

One of my favorite missionary scriptures as of late: 
D&C 24:12 "And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men." This strength is real and I challenge each of you to test it out. Share the gospel with all those you come in contact with and you will experience it yourself!!

I have literally felt and seen this strength on my mission so far and I am so grateful for this time I am able to completely dedicate to the Lord. And I am grateful for a new day every day to repent and learn from my mistakes and shortcomings. The Lord is patient. 

I LOVE YOU ALL. And am so grateful for each of you. I am grateful that my baby bro just left today to join me in this great and marvelous work.

Sister Smartt

PS - That is so great brade is offf!!!! He will be awesome. I will definitely write/email him. I'm so excited for him!