Monday, December 23, 2013

Seriously the Best Christmas Ever

This is seriously going to be the best Christmas ever. Being able to give everything to others and the Lord, or at least trying to, is just so spiritually refreshing! You really have to just experience it for yourself. The beauty of missionary work is you never have to think about yourself-it's the greatest! But even when I try to give my all, he gives more in return in the form of extremely supportive family and friends, thanks so much y'all-and have a Merry Christmas!!
Hope you enjoy the Christmas miracles Sister Black and I have been witnessing here in Hartsville, SC

Sis King texted us earlier in the day letting us know Rosio wouldn’t be home so that lesson fell through…L But that’s ok-it’s all part of the Lord’s plan, because we were able to stop by Akia’s. We walked up (past the house with the stunning Christmas display of lights spelling out Jesus) and saw her car was there-yeeesss! We were almost turned down when her mother answered and said she was sleeping, but persistently we asked if she knew when we could come back, after she went to go talk with Akia she let us in, Akia arose and we had an awesome lesson. She had slept through Church, but said she still wanted baptism and that we had full permission to knock on her window Sunday morning to get her up. Oh, we can definitely do that-haha, never imagined I’d be making wake up calls to people’s windows on my mission-whatever it takes though.

Heavenly Father just timed it all perfectly, he always does. For some reason or another I decided to park on a different street than we normally do and because of it we were able to catch Amy right as she’d gotten home. Her husband had fallen off the roof and shattered his elbow (ummm, ouch!). When we went into the lesson of the restoration, she loved it, we shared the first vision and she was just awestruck about it all. We left her with a Book of Mormon, but sadly because of Christmas next week we weren’t able to set up a return apt, but we’ll definitely be back. On the same street we were able to have a lesson with Tonya/Will and Darlene. 

So today may have just been the best lesson so far. Seriously at the end of it, I wouldn’t have been surprised if a camera crew jumped out of the bushes telling us it was all set up for a special “District” episode, and that everyone was just acting-BUT-no amount of acting can impersonate the holy ghost. Here’s what happened. Sis Brown and Gearheart had met this nice older man the other day and set up a return apt. When we arrived he was there with his family all running about and we asked if we could share a message with them all. So we pulled over a kiddie table, a couple chairs, a rocking motorcycle and gathered in with James(the grandpa), Angel(the mom), De’Ondra(the 9yr old), Shakeela(the 19yr old), Keeondra and Dishawn(the twin 4yr olds) oh and half way through the lesson Stella (another grandma) creeped around the corner and joined us. We went into the message of the restoration and taught extremely simple. Bearing brief powerful testimonies, asking inspired questions and they just were so elect. Angel mentioned, as we were talking about Joseph Smith, how she feels the same way about churches-they just never feel right, like something’s missing. We used the pictures in the pamphlets of Christ and the first vision. After the first vision Shakeela had tears streaming down her face, and her 9 yr old brother chimed in “even I’m about to cry and I’m a boy”. We then gathered in a circle, held hands and had Angel pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet. They told us we could come back anytime, haha but we weren’t done yet. We brought up baptism and committed all but the 2-- 4yr olds to be baptized January 11th! When we mentioned how we liked  to use a calendar to keep track Angel volunteered to run inside and grab a calendar she had. We stopped her and said that we had one she could use-but we loved her enthusiasm! We were able to set up a return appointment for Christmas Eve and they said they’d definitely be at church tomorrow. As we were leaving they couldn’t stop telling us how glad they were to have us over, and how much they’d been wanting to get their lives in order and be baptized. They even told us how amazed they were that their dog hadn’t growled or barked the entire time. DAAAAH!-what the best lesson ever! We walked away from it just speechless, asking ourselves…what.just.happened? How grateful am I that the Lord allows me to be apart of such amazing, faith building experiences. It just shows how when you’re willing to turn the lesson over to the Lord he’s willing to trust you and give you those miracles. It’s all about trusting in the Lord and turning it ENTIRELY over to him, so he can in turn trust you. Even though I won’t be able to teach them again, I will eagerly be awaiting the day when they send out the baptism texts for the week and the whole burgess family is on there! Feeling on top of the world right now:)

Sister Smith:D

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Never give up on people

     Southern phrase of the day "a minute" often means a very long time, DESPITE it's actual english translation-interesting eh? 
For example, if someone were to ask me how long I've loved this gospel, I'd say "oh, it's been a minute" aka-since, birth. No wait-since the beginning of eternity-which doesn't have a beginng, soooo moving on to more tangible topics here's the weekly highlights!! love y'all 

    It’s funny when people say “just down the road”-when you live out in the countryside of SC, “just down the road ends up being a lot farther than you anticipate”. So after we drove “just down the road” from Sister Horn’s to the referral she gave us, we pulled up to a gorgeous brick home, with multiple cars-one of which sported the license plate “WOODHAM”,  so we knew we were in the right place. Skeet wasn’t home but we got to talk with Wanda who had lots of questions, didn’t agree with the idea that not everyone can go in temples (she understood once we explained but didn’t agree). She was very forward about her beliefs and conviction to the Methodist church so I was hesitant, but was led to offer her a Book of Mormon. And as soon as I pulled it out and said “we’d love to give you your own copy”-she lit right up and was so excited. She was ecstatic to finally have one of her own to read, and had been wondering what she was going to do at the doctors office all day tomorrow. We testified, prayed and went away quite pleased with how things turned out-hopefully we’ll get to stay in contact through the Horns and see how it all works out. 

So Ernest had been calling us sporadically, so we’d call back or stop by but no one would answer. Finally we caught him and walked and talked like normal. He told us how he had been accepted into a University in Indiana-when I brought up baptism he said he'd  like to do it this time. It’s so hard to know how he really feels-being a 20yr old guy I don’t think he loves to talk about his feeling received an answer. I rolled with it and busted out my planner and the baptismal interview questions.  Remember when we dropped him and Sis Makin and I went away weeping-and now baptism! What?! I can still hardly believe it!

Madison Scott and her grandma Elain…alaine? (questionable spelling) are the best, buuutt, live so far away!  We only get to see them when we go out to Bishopville, so this time we committed to make this visit super effective and on topic. They both love to chat, and madison-typical 14yr old-can be slightly distracted sometimes. It started out a wee bit off topic as usual, but we pulled out the cups and Alaine really picked up on the idea of one true church, and how it needed ot be restored. We helped them recognize the holy ghost, and Alaine  was almost in tears as Sis Black bore testimony. We asked them to pray and read from the BOM and invited them to church and to the Christmas party. As we left they told us we’d be seeing them before Christmas. We’re almost positive Alaine knows it’s true, what’s holding her back, we don’t know.

Still love y'all! and cool thought from Pres. Hinckley. In a devotional he gave once he spoke about how during Christmas we rightly focus entirely on the Savior, but he said it'd be important to carve out just a little time to remember Dec. 23rd-the birthday of Joseph Smith. who "has done more, save Jesus Christ, for the salvation of man than any other person"-John taylor (definitely paraphrased, sorry Pres. Taylor.

LOVE-Sister Smith:D:D

Monday, December 16, 2013


Sisters' Conference

Another South Carolina pineapple

Hartsville fire hydrants are the cutest

Found lights in attic and trying their Iron man powers

Going to Temple with Sister Sundi Catoe

So excited to go to Columbia Temple and see new movie

Monday, December 9, 2013


Christmas approaches and SC can't decide on what weather to have....80 degree like it was last week, or back down to 8 like it says in the forecast for wednesday. no matter, it's all good when your in the Lord's service. But seriously-he keeps giving me the best gifts ever for Christmas, even though I'm trying my hardest to give everything to him.

Best lesson to start off the morning! We knocked this door, and a nice black woman maybe in her early 20’s answers-I only was able to get out a smile and “hey, how’s it going?” and she immediately invited us in. Later she told us she was just being friendly but I’m pretty sure it was the spirit. We talked about the restoration and Joseph Smith and then asked her about baptism. She said she’d think about it and I had the thought come to me-let’s pray about it. We invited her to pray, and at first she was hesitant. Sis Black helped her feel more comfortable with the idea and she readily went along with it. We knelt and she offered a simple sweet personal  prayer, just asking heavenly father if he wants her to get baptized and if it was right for her. The spirit was so strong as soon as her prayer started, and during the middle you could tell she started getting a little choked up about it all. We hugged, set up a return apt and walked out of there feeling on top of the world. I’m still wondering why heavenly father decided to bless us with such a great golden person?! What did we do to deserve this? Akia just ate up everything that we said and honestly it was one of the best lesson ones I’ve ever taught. The spirit just guided our words perfectly-I’ve never been able to explain it all so simply and efficiently-i love being a missionary!

SHE GOT HER DEER!(sis black promised her if she would read from the BOM she’d get a deer while hunting) We had our lesson with Ellen, and yes she started reading the Book of Mormon and yes she got a deer. Sis Black was so cute, jumping out of her seat squealing a little when Ellen told her. What I was most excited about was how much Ellen seemed to love the Book of Mormon-she hadn’t made it very far but was already marking it up. She basically believes in it-and told us it only makes sense that there would be additional records about Jesus Christ. She loves to “run her mouth” as she says, so we’re slowly making progress trying to help her understand more of the doctrine. She’s just eating it all up. I can’t get over how excited she gets when we talk about things that she already believes or that teach her something she’d never considered. In her thick southern accent she reacts with “oooooooh” and “oh, woooowww”, sometimes she’ll gasp and I’m waiting on the edge of my seat to see if it’s a good gasp or a gasp followed by a “well I’ve never heard that before”. She wholly accepted our invitation to watch the Christmas Devotional with us at the Barfields this Sunday and was really interested in hearing the prophet speak.

Miracle! We were driving to a back up, and for some reason I went against the back up we had planned and pulled into check on a lady we hadn’t seen in a couple weeks. When we parked sis black questioned me asking why weren’t we going according to plans-i didn’t have a solid answer and was starting to feel lame for making such a decision. We’d already parked so we went ahead to find  Priscilla and as soon as we hopped out of the car, Priscilla and her 2 grandkids pulled up. In response to the miracle, Sis Black exclaimed-“it never ceases to amaze me”…I breathed a sigh a relief and a silent prayer so grateful for the guidance of the spirit even when I fail to recognize that it was the spirit guiding me. We had a swell little lesson, and she told us she really wants to come to church when she’s not working. But she’s not willing to commit to anything until she gets more into the book, comes to church and finds out for herself. That is just fine by us.

welp-hope y'all have a good week and that you really take elder ballard's challenge seriously to bring one soul closer to Christ this Christmas:)

love y'all!!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fried Turkey is the Best

South Carolina is so great! Back in Utah people would joke about frying turkey's and it only ever seemed like a legend...until now. People all over the beautiful south celebrate the day of gratitude by deep frying a big ol bird in a pot, and I'm not sure if I can ever go back to the traditional oven baked bird. Here's a wee bit more on the lovely holiday week!

We were able to have another lesson with Marie, who just seems super golden. If only she wasn’t so busy so we could teach her more often-but still. So often she’d say something about what she believes and we’d bust out a scripture from the BOM that went along with what she said. She was like “whaaaaat?-did I write this, everything I’m saying shows up in this book”. She’s a chatter though so we weren’t able to get as far into the lesson as we would’ve liked. But as we were reading books open and everything there’s a knock at the door-whaddaya know her landlord drops a turkey off wishes her a happy thanksgiving and heads out. MIRACLE!-we told her it was because she was reading the scriptures. She was so awestruck, saying “yeah, you know I was thinking about that and about how I hadn’t gotten one yet and didn’t have anything to cook, and then that happens”. I was like “quick start reading again maybe he’ll bring back some pie!”. No pie, but it was way cool-you just never know what miracles may await as you obediently heed the Lord’s counsel.

It’s been raining allll day, and I was so excited to use my shnazzy umbrella and raincoat-plus I just love the rain! We were knocking the SIDE DOOR (so many people in the south don’t use their front doors, like, EVER. So it can be the biggest dilemma trying to decide which door we should knock on) just chilling out and “BRRRAAAAHHH!” this big burly man with some scruff scares us from behind. We both jump, and I’m busting a gut at our reaction. Turns out our “attacker” was a jolly dude named James. He was super friendly, and had an infectious higher pitched chuckle, which made the fact that he would laugh at his own jokes even better. He seemed really open to everything we shared, except for the fact that he put it right out there that he’s a Baptist and always has been. But we were able to have a pleasant mini lesson under his carport in the rain (poor sister black was freezing) but I just loved this guy. We talked about a whole bunch of things from the Book of Mormon to frying turkeys to “how is it gonna work in heaven if I marry 2 women on earth?”. I wish people wouldn’t be so closed minded to change, they’re so comfortable where they’re at that they don’t realize they’re getting’ comfortable in a run down motel room when there’s a castle right around the bend, aka the restored gospel, but he’ll come aroundJ

We stopped by our favorite pretend investigator Verley. Naw, she exists, she’s just never home. We met with her a couple times and she had made her way about 30 pages into the Book of Mormon-we were like SWEET! So we kept trying back to see her, no luck. We always get to chat with her 7yr old Troy though, he’s cool. We’ve also gotten more familiar with some of her other family members. One of which is James-he’s been into some pretty bad situations, wants to turn his life around and while we were talking readily agreed to come to church with us. He said he’d be ready by 9:40am and he would follow us over. When we were telling him how everyone is invited-he was like “so I can really bring as many as I want?”..ummm “yes!”. I had fantasies that night dreaming about James inviting all these people, and us leading this huge caravan of cars to the church.

Thanksgiving was grand-we went member hopping all over the place, slightly worried that we'd also be fed about 8 different times. No worries there, every members home we had arranged to come over to were either all finished eating or weren't quite ready. So I didn't have the normal-stuffed to the rafters thanksgiving, but I couldn't be happier and more grateful for the situation that the Lord has place me in now.
Love Y'all!!