Pretty sure I had the Merriest Christmas in my life!!...as of yet...isn't it great how because of the gospel of Jesus Christ there is no cap on our happiness?! It was a WET and WHITE Christmas, no snow but a baptism on the 20th and the elders had a baptism this past Saturday as well. As far as the WET part of it, it was pouring all of Christmas, loved it. I kept hoping for a sudden arctic wind to bust through and turn it all to snow, but seeing as how that would've caused widespread panic a midst the native South Carolinian, I'm glad that it just stayed as rain. Anyways....here's my week!!!
Sister Wheelock and I had a great day on exchanges, man I love that girl. Our first lesson was with Glenda and Poncho, Bro smith (we like to pretend that we’re family) joined us as well. He knows poncho from his police force days.
The lesson was amazing, Poncho has been reading and loves it. We asked him if he’d been praying about Joseph Smith and such, and he said he had, but he hadn't received his answer. His wife Glenda pointed out that his interest and desire to read the Book of Mormon and learn more, could be his answer. He agreed, and went on to relate to us the first 5 chapters in the Book of Mormon.
Christmas eve. We spent the morning and lunch with the Haynes, making cookies and having a big turkey lunch.
Later in the afternoon we went to Elena’s for Christmas eve, she had invited Kitt over as well, so that was fun being able to talk with him in a casual setting. Haha, that didn't last long though, after a brief chat about his family, we started talking about the apostasy, and I tried my "hand" at signing about how God had prepared Columbus, America, the pilgrims, the dark ages, the 2 great awakenings, all to lead to the restoration of the Gospel.
We made it home, changed into our Christmas jammies and moved all of our Christmas decorations to the main room where we’d be sleeping. We got permission from President to have a sleepover with the sisters in our apartment complex, so they came over with their blankets, pillows, presents and Christmas decorations. Our room was so lit up, it was grand! It felt so magical. Sis Burbank’s family tradition is to watch Joy to the World each Christmas eve, so we were going to end the night with that but first couldn't get it to work. After we ran to the sisters apartment and got another DVD it would only play it in Spanish…then French…Chinese…and finally after mashing buttons and flipping it on and off it came up in English!! Yes-christmas miracle! Haha, one thing my mission hasn’t broken is my terrible habit of falling asleep during movies, I was trying so hard to stay awake for sister Burbank, but just couldn't do it. Eventually we all drifted to sleep by light of a little Christmas tree in the corner, with visions of baptisms dancing in our headsJ
For the past 25 days Sis Burbank and I have been keeping track of the 25 miracles of Christmas. We taped a big white board up in our main room and would write one at he end of each day, so here they are!!
1. Barry--- a new investigator
3. Lesson with Paula
4. Companionship unity with Stout and Nielson and Cookout!
5. Lori’s on date, and we got a x-mas tree
6. Kebo’s baptism, Sis soctomah’s first baptism!
7. Elena came to Kitt’s with us last minute
8. The Duns invited us to come for Christmas!
9. Lincoln’s lesson (they’re just a big ol miracle on their own)
10. Horrocks had us over for dinner out of NOWHERE!
11. Went to institute with Morgan, and it just so happened to be the very last one of the year
12. Morgan was interviewed for his baptism
13. Sis Barker made cinnamon rolls, a Christmas tradition for sister BurbankJ
14. New family to teach, Kelly and Amber and their 3 girlsJ
15. Sis Wheelock was here (haha, she chose today’s miracle)
16. Elena had pizza with us last minute
17. We found Sister Fagin finally, and people actually laughed at our skit
18. (Sister Stout wrote this one, she’s so sweet) “Sis Smith helped me a lot!!
19. (fromSister Wheelock) “Sister Wheelock wuz here again”
20. MORGAN’S BAPTISM!
21. MORGAN GOT THE HOLY GHOST AND PRIESTHOOD, and his dad came to church
22. Free frosties from Wendy’s
23. Exchanges, Poncho and Bro. Smith’s perfect lesson
24. Got permission from Pres to have a sleepover with Sis Mcneely and Wheelock!
25. He (Christ) is the miracle!! He really is the miracle though, all of the miracles we were able to see happen were because of Christ. It’s been such a neat experience to write down and record the daily miracles, seeing them come on so many different ways. I’m so grateful for this beautiful Christmas day I’ve had to celebrate my Savior’s birth in a special way. I’m more grateful for my mission that’s helped me to celebrate Christ’s birth the past 18months, and forever helped me to gain a greater appreciation and love for my Savior and EVERTHING that he’s done.
Christmas was great, spent it with members for the most part, and just basked in the love I received from friends and family back home.
Have a fantabulous new year. We should be looking to change daily, and not just use the new year as an excuse to apply the atonement, but I hope that it motivates us to look back , move on and press forward with a steadfastness in Christ and a perfect brightness of HOPE!
no better way to start a weekly email..... BAPTISM! aka making eternal covenants with our Heavenly Father that allow us to progress, sanctify and consecrate ourselves to become like our Savior Jesus Christ, thus bringing about the most intense happiness and joy, now and in the eternities!
Today.is.the.day! Morgan was finally baptized…and it wasn’t an easy process. We got to the church early to help set up and hear that glorious sound of water filling the font. We moved it from the relief society room to the chapel because of how many people we had coming. This was definitely the biggest baptism we’ve had, there was a huge support from the ward, all of the families that he’d worked with, he also had a lot of his family come, it was awesome! He had uncles, cousins, siblings, parents, grandparents (I finally got to meet the lovely bro and sister Vaughan from Lehi, UT, they’re so sweet!), his dad and grandparents are the only members, so that was neat to have them all. Haha, the adversary continued to try and foil Morgan’s salvation. When we went to move from the chapel to the font, we discovered that the plug in the font hadn’t been properly placed, so the water had leaked out, it was only up to Bishop’s knees! Lucky for us, we have the best font filling water pressure in the stake and it only took about 10-15min. Morgan looked great in white, bishop was standing in there with him, but we realized his grandpa wasn’t here yet, and he was going to be one of the witnesses. His grandpa was in the bathroom, and was an older fella, took about another 10min. Oh man, the adversary was giving Morgan every opportunity to back out. I can imagine only a few other circumstances more awkward; standing waste deep in water, in a white flattering jumpsuit, about 40people are standing over staring at you, for those who you can’t see directly they can watch you in the overhead mirror. I’d imagine the feeling is similar to how the hippos feel, little kids with their faces pressed up against the glass, oh man I felt so terrible. But it happened, he did it, the spirit was there and it was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Morgan is one of the most prepared and faithful people I’ve met. He’s been through so much and is so determined to continue with this course correction he’s made for his life. When he shared his testimony, is was short, sweet and true (what else is there??). He said he knew the church was true, and that it was the only one that had the priesthood authority, he’s grateful for his baptism because it means that he can always have the Lord with him in his life, and he’s determined to keep with it.
December 17, 2014 Zone conference finallllly came, I’ve been so excited for it and it arrived. We combined with the Florence zone, so we had to drive 90 min up to Sumter, haha which is actually where I had my last Christmas zone conference back when I served in Hartsville. It seems as though I’ve come full circle. At zone conference we…
-practiced our skit, realized that the elders half of the skit was way better and more prepared than ours so we frantically started brainstorming ways to make our part up to par on the laugh scale. -talked a lot about planning and becoming better planners so that we can be better missionaries. Planning really is the key, if we think about it Heavenly Father is the best planner in the world, just ponder on the PLAN of salvation for a wee bit. If we ever hope to become like him, acquiring the skill of a master planner has to be one of our desires. -broke for lunch, BBQ, potato salad and chili, a good southern lunch -did our skits. Ours was one of the funniest, I was so relieved each time laughter would erupt from the audience, haha, definitely a Christmas miracle! -watched Meet the Mormons. I loved it, and was one of the few who DIDN’T cry during the missionary mom part. -drove back to Summerville with sis stout, she’s joining me on exchanges. The rest of the night we taught bro Isom and Lauren how to pray in sign language and then visited with a long lost semi-less active, Sister Fagin!...it’s amazing how you can just drop off the radar if the church doesn’t have your current address.
love y'all and hope you have the greatest Christmas ever!
I'm so greatful to be in the position I am on my mission. The world, and many members and missionaries look at the missionary rules as restrictions that hold us back, but I have been blessed with direction from my heavenly father to allow me to foster the greatest potential for spiritual growth. just think, I don't have to worry about finances, school, work, relationships, dating, what I wear, nothing, my only concern is bring others to Christ. What a job?! :D:D It's the greatest in the world and I earnestly pray that y'all can take the time to have a moment with the Savior, and ponder or the reality and divinity of his birth, ministry, sacrifice and death, and how he still lives today and leads us in His restored church.
MERRY CHRISTMAS Y'ALL!! love, sister smith
In 1 month I will return Jan. 22 at 2:22pm an early present for my mom Birthday 2-22
I really didn't think it would be possible to squeeze any more love and happiness into my being, but He's done it again, but seriously this time I think I'm about to burst. Morgan's getting baptized on Saturday, I've yet to teach anyone so faithful, strong and prepared, he's going to go so far! I'm so excited. His grandparents fly in from Utah this wednesday and the baptism is Saturday. Aw man, I wish I could skype y'all in, it's going to be a day to remember for sure!
...pictures to come next week!! ...in other news... The Haynes are planning for their baptism way off in February, but we wanted to do something to get them excited. We bought a poster board and made a giant, neon green baptismal calendar. Complete with a big picture of Helaman and his army, and little CTR, Jesus and Church stickers so they can map out their spiritual progression for the next few months. It looks so good! Too bad they weren’t there for their lesson, they were out playing with friends, and were supposed to be home but had forgotten. It worked out though, we were able to visit a little with sis Haynes and talk with her about how she’s doing. She’s so amazing, and has been the EASIEST less active to bring back. Ha, all we had to do was knock on her door. She’s done everything else, and has been a rock in her family in bringing them to church.
Following a big dinner of waffles and bacon, we went over to the Horrocks for a big dinner of tacos and crepes for dessert. We were so stuffed, but it was worth it. They’re the sweetest young couple, with a new baby girl. He was raised in the church, and she was raised catholic but has always been around members and is familiar with it all. They had a great experience at sacrament. All meetings are great, but this one was especially good. So next week is Sadie’s last week, she bore her testimony. She also signed it at the same time, which isn’t as easy as you’d think…it’s like trying to speak 2 languages at the same time, and not only that, but she was sharing a story from her mission in Peru so she was translating her memory from Spanish to English to American sign language. What a woman!! Sadie bore powerful testimony about charity and faith. She then bore testimony of Kitt’s testimony and how he has such great faith to continue to come week after week, surrounded by people he can’t communicate with, and she encouraged everyone to learn sign, even if it’s just so that they can learn from his testimony. I’m so glad the Horrocks were there for that. They were really touched. We spoke for a while and got to know them, and closed with a thought from the Book of Mormon and also about #HeistheGift. They said we’re welcome back anytime. It was a little hard to teach because Sis Horrock's mother is in town for the holidays and she’s more devout catholic than her daughter, but it’s so sweet how both of them have a strong desire to get back into religion because of the birth of their daughter.
We ended the night with another miracle, a last minute impression to text a less active was heeded, and they texted right back and said we could come by!
Morgan came with us to institute for his first time, and just our luck they’re studying the D&C. After the opening prayer the teacher says, “So what did we finish talking about last time?” Class response, “the sons of perdition”. That little missionary alarm goes off in Sis Burbank’s and my head, and I lean over to Morgan and try to simply explain what the sons of perdition are. The rest of the class was all about D&C 76, the 3 degrees of glory, haha, oh glory. We asked Morgan afterward how he felt, he said he liked it, but was a little lost. It was still good for him to find a little bit of fellowship and mingle with other singles his age.
Taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Haynes. Izayah was asking when he could get baptized, his mom was all for Feb 7th, but Brother Haynes said they still needed to talk about it. Izayah starts to panic, “dad, no, please let me get baptized!!”. Later Jojo was having a bit of an attitude and his mother wasn’t happy with him and told us how he had lied earlier in the week and had peeked at his Christmas presents. We had just finished talking about repentance and the steps, so Izayah chimes in, “Jojo you just need to recognize, regret, etc” and he explains all the steps of repentance. Haha, I love these kids! Dec. 13: That evening we helped Paula decorate for Christmas and did a little Christmas lesson afterward. Gerald, the 6 yr old was helping his uncle Daniel get some stuff from the back closet, we heard a big crash and Daniel then tells Gerald that he’s not allowed to tell anyone about this, but to just keep it between them. They’d just spilled a little box of nails or something, he was just joking around. Haha, but Gerald comes out and comes straight up to me and says, “I’m going to use what we learned”, “and what’s that Gerald?”, I asked. “Honesty”, he replied. About a week ago we’d had a lesson with Gerald and his sister Alysa about honesty and integrity. Gerald then went straight to his Grandma and told him that Uncle Daniel had made a mess, it was so cute, and I was so proud! **tear**
love y'all!!!! find some Christmas miracles!! love, sister smith:D
oh and a little bonus, this was just something I've been thinking about... On my mission I’ve been blessed with some baptisms, some solid investigator and miracles. During those moments it feels great and I’m happy, but what happens after; After the font is drained, after the closing prayer is said, after my mission is over. Those moments are great blessings from my Heavenly Father, but they’re not lasting. What brings me lasting joy is my relationship with my Heavenly Father and Savior, after all of that’s over, or whether it never happened at all, I find great joy and fulfillment in my progression in the gospel; faith, repentance, covenants and enduring to the end. There’s a quote from cool runnings that the coach says, “a gold medal is a great thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it”. I like applying that same quote to baptisms, or anything else we find validation in (callings, money, awards, compliments, praise, attention, etc), “if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.
I just can't get over how happy where I am, doing what I'm doing, with the people I'm doing it with! I love sharing the gospel, I love teaching, serving, smiling and knocking on doors that no one answers. I love finding with faith, sharing my testimony and studying the doctrines of Salvation. I'm so grateful for the many Christmas miracles that are being placed in our path everyday. Here's a glimpse of my miraculous week!
Christmas Miracle #1: We were going to Rhi’s like we had planned last night, but when we pulled up to her house, neither of us felt like we should be there. We said a prayer, and concluded the spirit was restraining us from being there, so we carried on with our plans. We decided to go drop by Elena’s (a recent convert), we tried calling all THREE of her phones, no answer, but we still felt good about dropping by. It turns out she had her friend Barry over, we asked if we could do a quick lesson with them and he was all for it. We then presented, through the power of the Holy Ghost, one of the best restoration lessons. Barry loved it, and could really feel the spirit. He told us he felt hope, and a desire to learn more. He was so excited, and felt like he could finally get answers to his questions. Elena was amazing and bore a powerful testimony about how the gospel and church had helped her through some of the darkest times of her life.. We committed Barry to be baptized Dec. 27th, he said of course. He’s stoked to go to church with us this Sunday, and get this! He lives right next door to the church! Miracles are out there, and I’m so grateful for the spirit that kept pushing us towards Barry. He kept saying at the end what a miracle this was, there was no coincidence. You know, I’m kinda really grateful that Heavenly Father allows us to act in faith. When we decided to not go to Rhi’s and continue onto Elena’s the spirit didn’t say, “you can’t go to Rhi’s, and you need to go to Elena’s because there’s someone there you need to teach”. And then when we tried to call her 3 different times and she never answered, the spirit didn’t chime in and say, “no, you still need to go to Elena’s there’s this guy named Barry and he’s super prepared, so just keeeep on driving”. No. we didn’t get that, but we carried on, and ta-dah, MIRACLE! J
We had a birthday dinner and lesson with Sis Lincoln and of course the rest of the family. We talked about, ENDURING TO THE END! And related it to how we need to endure to the end in minute to win it games. Their family is doing so great, the other day when we taught them about temples Sis Lincoln told us how excited she was to go to the temple. I love this family so much! We did the oreo game, when you have to wiggle an oreo down your face into your mouth. Bro Lincoln decided that the oreo wasn’t worth the work, so he gave up after 2 tries. Haha, he said that, like life, you have to be working towards something that’s worth the work. Eternal life is always worth it, so we need to sacrifice whatever it takes, however money and recognition aren’t so why “labor for that which is of no worth”.PS: Sis lincoln told us how excited she is to go to the temple one day! :):)
During lunch we went to town decorating our apartment for the most wonderful time of the year. Paula donated a full size Christmas tree, but when we pulled it out of the box to set it up, we realized it was missing the top piece, we improvised, and with a little fluffing, ornaments and lights we the the best Christmas bush this side of the Mississippi. We hung snowflakes from the ceiling, arranged a little nativity set, colored a big “Joy to the World” banner and just basked in the majestic feeling of this wondrous season. I couldn’t be Jollier!!...even if Jollier isn’t a word;)
Sunday: During my morning prayers, I was just smiling the whole time. We saw some great miracles as well, a whole bunch of people came to church, they even had to open up the overflow! Morgan got confused about the Christmas devotional, and that little diligent guy came to the church at 8AM! We felt so terrible, but he ended up coming back again at 8PM. Another miracle, we were panicking because we couldn’t find anyone to come to Kitt’s with us, but at the last minute we called Elena and she came through for us. Kitt’s so funny, he lets us teach the new member lessons, simple stuff like tithing and fast offerings today, but as soon as we finished, he was like, “ok, finished with that, now I have some questions!”. Kitt’s so funny, and was asking all about Christ real birthday and how it coordinates with the Jewish calendar, aw man Kitt, I told him that I’m learning so much from just teaching him. He literally studies the gospel all day. He’ll bust out these student institute study manuals and flip all through it showing us different sections and then ask some crazy question. He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met-I love him so much!\
Love y'all, go lip sync to some Christmas tunes, enjoy your family and share the He is the Gift video with someone from christmas.mormon.org LOVE! SISTER SMITH! PS:guess what, only 16 days til christmas!!!!!!! haha, and even better only 12 days until Morgan's baptism!)
Our first thanksgiving meal was with Doris, her son and her 6 grands. It was so much fun! They’re just a good ‘ol southern black family. The meal consisted of yams, rice, collard greens, potato salad, mac-n-cheese and a Tur-duck-hen. Not all of your traditional western thanksgiving foods, but when we told them that back home I’d never had a thanksgiving with mac-n-cheese they were appalled. Keenan exclaimed, “what?! That’s the only thing I look forward to each thanksgiving!”
Welcome to December, and this week's edition of The Lord's Vineyard: Summerville, South Carolina Edition...I'm your host, Sister Smith and I'll be filling you in on the miracles, adventures and happenings of my time serving as a full-time representative of our Savior Jesus Christ, hope you enjoy and feel a little more joyful after reading!!
Nov 24th: The Cicon’s had Morgan over for FHE tonight. I love how we’re on such a steady schedule with morgan. Every Monday we go over and he follows us to a members house to have FHE, then every Friday at 10:30am we meet in his driveway on camp chairs and have a lesson. He’s the greatest. He told us he’d finally finished 2 Nephi, he’s a little nervous for his baptism, but he’s getting excited as well. The Cicon’s had no idea he was getting baptized, so when they started asking him how he was feeling about the church and such, he piped in, well I’m getting baptized Dec. 20th. They were like, “WHAT!?”, they had the peeeerrrfect reaction, as they both shouted and congratulated him with jubilance. Which is how it should be, this is one of the most life changing decisions, he’s making an eternal covenant with God, I think it deserves a few emotional pyrotechnics.
Nov. 26th: After unexchanging with Sis Havens, we went to the Haynes for our lesson. We taught the little munchkins about the plan of salvation. We started with having them color their own, and I did my best to help the 6yr old not “scribble-scrabble” all over, because as she told me, “you can’t scribble-scrabble, it’s dangerous!”. We cut them out, and laid it out piece by piece explaining it all. I love breaking things down to a child’s level, that’s the simplicity we should all be looking at things with. We mixed up all the pieces and challenged them to put it all back together again. Izayah, the 10yr old was great, we’d only asked him to rearrange the pieces in order. He not only did that, but proceeded to explain to us about what each piece was, and how it fit into the plan. He was a little confused about what temples are, and told us that’s where all of our bodies are kept, we quickly cleared that one up, haha.
Nov 27th: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! HAPPY HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I couldn’t be more grateful to be where I am right now. Smack dab in the middle of the Lord’s vineyard, sporting a shiny black nametag bearing the name of Jesus Christ, and his Church in these Latter Days. For the first time ever, I got to participate in the Turkey Bowl. It was a blast, and felt so good to play a competitive sport after such a long time. Our ward was combined with the 3rd ward, so we got to play with the other sisters and elders as well. We layered up, and headed out. Sis Wheelock was so pumped, the day before she’d been sick with the flu, but sure enough she shook it off, and said there was no way she wasn’t playing in the turkey bowl because of some little flu. Sis Mathias was a little unfamiliar with it all, but she caught on fast. We randomly split up the teams, making sure companions stayed together to make sure companionship unity was maintained. We played 2-hand touch, only sisters could guard sisters, but if a sister caught a pass it was an automatic down. We did pretty good, and I think represented the face of all sister missionaries everywhere. Sis Burbank caught a touchdown pass, I played more on the defense and tipped a few passes, took down a few runs and caught a interception, and Sis Wheelock had the same. haha, and this was sis Mathias' first time playing american football, and she didn't do too shabby.
Our first thanksgiving meal was with Doris, her son and her 6 grands. It was so much fun! They’re just a good ‘ol southern black family. The meal consisted of yams, rice, collard greens, potato salad, mac-n-cheese and a Tur-duck-hen. Not all of your traditional western thanksgiving foods, but when we told them that back home I’d never had a thanksgiving with mac-n-cheese they were appalled. Keenan exclaimed, “what?! That’s the only thing I look forward to eachthanksgiving!” The rest of our Thanksgiving was with the Blonquist family.
Nov. 29: All afternoon we were struggling to find anyone to let us in and teach. We pulled up to our last plan, and it was only 7:30…I prayed for a miracle, and that some way these people would let us in, and we’d be able to teach them. We knocked in the Peterson’s neighbor’s door. We’d tried before to meet with her, because the Peterson’s told us they might be interested. She answered and let us right in! We got to teach her, Amy, and her boyfriend, Joe! They’re middle aged, with families of their own and were the sweetest little miracle of the night. Looking back I can tell how the spirit guided us, we were lead in our questions and we taught in a different way than we ever had. It was doctrine focused, but applied in a casual way that testified of how ultimate truth is out there, and it can bless their individual lives. They areed to read from the Book of Mormon, and said we were welcome to come back, and even sent us on our way with a big bag of chex mix! I’m smiling just thinking about how sweet Heavenly Father was in leading 2 cold, lonely, rejected sisters to their home, so we could be an instrument in His hands.
ok, this episode ended up being an extended addition! But there was just too much goodness and blessings this week! hope y'all experience the same! miracles are out there, go get em!!