Monday, February 21, 2011

Week 4, eu acho....

I think this is starting week 4. I know I have a daily planner aqui, mas I still can't keep tract of the weeks. Its great when MerLee sends me letters that include Taylor's weekly letters; its great to hear what else is going on in the world.
So, the exciting news of this week: *drumroll*
Saturday Fev. 26th Sister Gale, Sister Hislop, the Oakdale branch and myself, are fixing to have a baptism! awesome, I know.
totally was a miracle too. so here is the story.
Last monday after we finished up our dia de preparacao, we stopped by city hall to visit Jeanette Swallow. We've been having the thoughts to go and visit her the last few weeks but hadnt been able to catch her. Before I came to Oakdale, the sisters had been meeting with her (she had been dropped before from the teaching pool and recently picked up again) and she was dead set against baptism. She didnt understand proper authority or believe she needed it again. They had commited her to pray about baptism. Well, when we came in, she was beaming and told us that she had recieved her answer. She is such a great woman; she has such strenght and a love for the Lord. When we went over last night to do the last lesson for preparing for baptism, she was teaching us. I am so grateful to have met her and for her to be part of the itsy bitsy branch of Oakdale. We need people like her in order for the church to grow here. Gwen was supposed to be getting baptised this weekend too; she knows its the right thing but wants confirmation from the Lord that it is the right thing for her. she is also very worried how that will be concerning her family. On saturday we had a great lesson with her, and the gave the closing prayer. it was so powerful. immediately after she began to testify of how she knew that this was all true; she had always wondered why we didnt have a modern prophet and how she was just like joseph, wanting to know which church was true. We are truly seeing the vision of the south being fulfilled. Thisi is what Spencer W. Kimball said (talk given by Elder Vaughn j. Featherstone in april 1984) "Make no small plans: they have no magic to stir man's souls' this is the vision I have for the South. I belive that one day the South will baptize more people in to the church than all other English speaking missions in the world together. There are great hosts of marvelous Baptists, and members of the chruch of Christ, Methodists and Catholicis who are honrable people, and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and love him. As they see their church veering off to the right or to the left of those basic teachings, they will begin to search for the truth. And as pivotal teachers come into the church and have influence, we will see the times when we will baptize hindereds and thousands, tens of thousands. In your day you will see a million memebers of the church in the South. there will be temples plural in the Southern States..." What a great call I have to serve wtih these marvelous people! I am honestly seeing this happen in people. Yes it is hard sometimes, but we have a unique message different from others; that the Church Christ established has been restored! that there is a living prophet! I think often people get distracted by our nickname of "Mormon" and think its just another church, not what it really is. Let's not be mormons, lets be Latter Day Saints!
We have been meeting some really interesting people that I hope we'll be able to help. I keep praying that I can be courageous enough to listen to promptings and not cast them aside thinking, oh thats just me, not the Lord. We learn in Moroni that if it "inviteth and enticeth to do good, then it is of God." dont worry about it, just do it! my trainer, sister Hislop is a great example to me of that. she talks with everyone. Im grateful to have such a go getter to train me!
I also wonder about the day that I get to go to Brazil....I still can't always imagine myself there and it does scare me, but I know its the place I need to be, someday. :) Im trying to do the best I can with the hour of study that I have. Every day I pray that I can learn and understand, and that if I am not using my hour as efficent as I can, that the Lord will reveal to me a better way. I pray to be able to be prepared for my brazilerios.
Thanks for the letters everyone, its always exciting to get some mail, especially unexpected!
I try to write back as soon as I can, but with short time its hard, but I will!
Love ya'll,
God bless,
Sister Smith

Monday, February 14, 2011

week 2 em o campo

I swear I am on week three.....
Okay so I have been in the field for two weeks, starting week three! It feels like eternity! I got a letter from my MTC companion, Sister Randall, and she said she feels like she been out forever as well. Its amazing to me to see how much can be accomplished in such a short amount of time. I truly understand why the Lord asks us to put aside all personal affairs when we come onto our missions. It would be so much harder to have the spirit, to get as much done if we had to worry about other things beside moving the work of the Lord forward. This last week my companions had leadership training in Baton Rouge, so we packed up early tuesday morning and drove to Lafayette where I was on exchanges with the sisters there for four days. I got to be on temporary assignment there with Sister Aka. She's originally from the Ivory Coast and joined the church in 2005 when she moved to utah to live with her dad. She has a strong testimony of the Lord having his hand in our lives. she also speaks spanish so she could understand a little of my portuges. Love that sister. It was good to see how another companionship works, and have an opportunity to teach in a non-trio companionship. I love to teach the message of the Restoration. There is such power in the account of Joseph Smith's first vision. Everytime I share it, I am overwhelmed as the spirit testifies over and again to the truthfulness of this gospel. I met a lot of very spiritual people; stubborn people here. One woman sister Aka and I met told us she didnt need any more searching because she knows that she is right with God, that she is already saved. Oh how my heart aches for those people who are happy with being limited on progression. I feel that is one other way that sets this church apart from others; that its all about progression continuously. Many people think that they just have to have a belief in God and they are saved. But dont we read in James that faith without works is dead? just like the body without the spirit is dead? I want to share an experience I had this past week that made me truly realize the grasp that satan, that evil one has over the children of men.
Sister Aka and her companion had tracked into this fellow a few weeks before and said that he was a mentally delayed and his mother was against him reading the book of mormon. I got to meet T. on wednesday. When we knocked he immediately opened the door to hand us back the Book of Mormon. He said that he hadnt read it and wouldnt read it. I have to admit I was scared of this man, he was a big fella, a good 6'4 200+lbs and clearly wasnt of a stable mind as he started talking to us. But I watched my companion speak with love, and utter strength; she wasnt scared at all. This poor man was completely delusioned by evil influences. He said that all angels are devils, snakes trying to ruin his life and that he was a lost soul. that God never gave him what he wanted, that he prayed to all and anything for help but he didnt get anything; the voices in his head persist. He sees people, that try to tell him to do things. (yeah, as I said unblanaced...) The saddest part is that no matter how powerfully we testified of the love the savior and our heavenly father has for him, he would not listen. It truly was as if he had blinders down that he could see no good in life. He said all he wanted was to die. In my heart I knew that I needed to show this person and whatever thing that was dwelling in his heart that we were messengers of God, and that we would not fall into the darkness that was spreading. I could feel the disspear and depression and fear this man had, but I couldnt let it take hold of me. I dont know all that I said, but I remember feeling so strong and full of light as I pointed at him and told him that God does love him, that those evil things he sees and those terrible feelings he has within him are from the devil, I know it, and I know you know it. There was silence afterwards. he didnt try to argue back like had everyother time. and then he quickly withdrew back into his apartment.
I know that when we are on the Lords' mission, that we can speak with power from on High. I am so grateful for the powers of the endowment that strengthen me, that give me the ablilty to speak the words that I would never know to say with out the Lord.
Satan knows when we are trying to do good. I see him working so hard on our investigators. Especially those who've accepted the invitation to be baptized. Its such a critical time and these people have so many obsticales put in their path. One family that is supposed to get baptized in a few weeks, I really see how the devil is working on them. Just this week Denise has been trying to quit smoking; and friday night a preacher from another sect came by and read Ephsians 1.1-9 to her family, and now they are so apprehensive about everything. I keep praying that the lord will answer their prayers, and that they willl recognize the answers when they come. Isnt it interesting that The Church of Jesus Christ of LatterDay Saints is one that actually encourages you to question your beliefs? Who are we told to get our answers from? Not from man, but from God. Deus sabe. Deus sabe todas coisas.
Im hanging in there! Excited to push forward in the work and not let kristin get in the way of Sister Smith's abilites to become!
Love e boa sorte,
Sister Smith

ps. read Elder Neil L Anderson's talk from the December Ensign! (so maybe I gave a talk on sunday and have deicided to conintue studying the Holy Ghost....because he is the way that we receive the answers, thats why!!!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

semana uma, o campo

TUDU BEM ya'll!

So maybe I'll be speaking portuges with a southern accent. It was great to get to talk to mom and the kids for the few mins between flights. Its been a crazy week and I am really trying to be a good missionary, opening my mouth and being friendly with people. I am great at talking to younger people, its just the adults that are more intimidating, but I will get over that. Its all about trusting in the Lord, right?
I got the letter you sent mom, THANKS EVERYONE!! it really lifted my spirits. Samuel, you'll have to send me a copy of your story you're working on.
We have a senior couple who got here a few weeks before I did, last night they had me and my companions, Sister Gale and Sister Hislop over for dinner. Sister Manning was showing us some family pictures and pulled out a journal she had put together with her 4 generation sheet w/ pictures in it. It turns out, sister Sue Manning is Sue KUNZ Manning. She's from John Kunz IV line. How cool is that?! I found a cousin down here!! She went on a trip with a bunch of other Kunz's in 2003 and said she had met Ashley Kunz, wasnt' that when Grandma went? I am really curious because I was thinking it was indeed and ya'll met each other and didnt even know it! that was a really neat experience, to find that family connection. she told me about going to the temple, there were like 50 kunzs in the prayer circle and It really touched my heart, to think about that prophecy of Maliquas (Malicah) of the hearts of the children turning to their fathers. How important is our missionary work! Not only for the dead, but for the living!!!
We've been meeting with a family, Denise, jud and markus (i have yet to meet 18 yr old markcus) and had neat experience with Denise my first time meeting with her. We had just dropped by to say hi and started talking and she had a question from the bible. That story about Lot's daughters getting him drunk and sleeping with him. It hit her heart because apparently her parents were second cousins and in theis small area, she was made fun of and told she was mentally challenged, and her parents were sinners. Churches wouldnt allow them to come because of it. It was amazing to teach her about the atonement, how it can heal passsed hurts, and brought up how marrying within the family was so common in the bible, to preserve the seed, the lineage. Think of Issac--sending JAcob to find himself a wife within the covenant people. Tonight we are going over to do a stop smoking workshop with her. People here have serious word of wisdom issues. everyone has cancer, but dont seem to see the correlation between tobbacco and drug use with poor health. There are a lot of lost souls here, and a lot of good people too, who just need to let go of the comfort zone of what they know and be willling to listen to the better. It really seems to be polar opposites here, either very religious or so stuck in drugs and poverty no time for God. There are alot of good people here searching for the truth. One woman I met recently, the sisters found about a week ago, says she knows the book of mormon is true and that was before even reading it, but she says "where much is given, much is required" and so wont read it because she doesnt want to have to do more. I love the people here, they are really friendly and love to talk to you, and love to love you.
Well my musical talents are going to be put to use here, thereas nobody really can play piano. I am glad to be able to be used in that capacity, because it makes me happy. I've just started reading the BOM from the begining again, so I've been learning alot about the example of Nephi. I think in the past I have under emphasized just how great of a man Nephi was; I think part of that is, everyone reads the book of nephi before they loose track and start over, so we all know it; so I have in the past tended to skip over reading it. ESTUPIDO!! Nephi is so great!! How many people do you know that will drop everything and just do it? God says jump, he says how high. Clique I know...but I just love how he never doubts. He says a couple of times in the first few chapters, I do not know why I do this, but God has asked me, so I will. and then his example of forgiveness. How many times have Laban and Lemuel tried to kill him, yet he frankly forgives? I was talking about this in companion study and sister Gale said, yeah we never read of Nephi saying, well you want to go back to Jerusalem and be destroyed? Go ahead see you later I am going back to Father Lehi!!" Nephi tells this is what will happen, but you have got to keep going. It shows his love for his irmaos; I related it to how our Pai Celestial loves us. God always gives us a second chance, we are constantly being invited to change, to follow me. God doesnt give up on his children; neither should we.
This week is going to very interesting; my companions have leadership training for four days so I will be going down to Lafayette to work with the sisters there while my companions are away. This training is a little annoyng to our goals and plans for the week!! I did my first legit tracting yesterday, we met a sweet old lady who just cried because she was so glad to see us out sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ (she was a missionary once for her church too) and a younger guy named Charles. Charles isnt a potential investigator at this point, I just wanted to tell you his reaction to us talking to him. He keep shifting his eyes from each of us with a look of total suspicion. kinda are these girls asking me these questions and talking with me? I laughed in my head everytime he looked between the three of us.
Well, I dont know what else to say, so I quess that means I'm done speakn!
Boa Sorte to everyone, always be an example and share what you know!
love always,
Sister Smith

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New address!

This is just a quick note to tell you that your daughter arrived safely in Louisiana yesterday.
Her mailing address will be: 408 E. 6th Ave
Oakdale, LA 71463

She will get letters much faster if you mail them to this address (her apartment) rather than the mission office.