Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Week of Miracles

I had a rough week last week, I actually have had a rough four weeks. this transfer has been a whirlwind, and I can' believe that I have a week and a half left!  In less than one week I will have a new mission president. (Side note: HOW COOL WAS THAT MISSION PRESIDENT SEMINAR BROADCAST?! I loved it!) Our mission president was totally inspired to teach us a new way to teach dinner messages just last week, and then General Authorities are asking for members help. We haven't been great at it since it was initiated, but it was still so cool!  I wish I had been in that meeting live, but it was still so amazing to sit in a Wyoming stake center and watch it from there! Technology is awesome! I miss BYU! I hope my friends there got to go to it.

My companion and I have one investigator that is really hard to get a hold of, but she came to church this week! She brought her kids too, which is AMAZING!  The daughter just turned 12 two days, and is so excited about YW!

We moved in to our new apartment on Friday! That means that I no longer have to sleep on a couch! I'm kind of bummed that we didn't get to stay longer... I mean how cool would it have been to say that I slept on a couch for a month?! And I really miss the other sister missionaries. We see them at district things, and they might give us rides to places but it isn't the same as seeing them every night. I would totally sleep on a couch the rest of my mission to live with super-awesome sister missionaries! Now it is just me and my companion. We are more productive this way, since we live in our ward boundaries, but it is still kind of sad.

Saturday we had weekly planning, and it was guided and inspired. Spiritual experiences are great on the mission, but I have realized that I need to look back to figure them out. This planning session was one of them! Weekly planning in the past can take up to four hours, almost five. This was one of those times. We realized that we needed to set really high goals, and we needed to accomplish them. I am an outgoing person, and don't really care what people think. If they don't want to hear about the gospel, oh well they aren't ready yet. My companion is a little more shy around people, so we haven't been super ambitious. But this week, man, she has changed, and I am so excited! "The Week of Miracles" began yesterday, but we started seeing the miracles occur from this planning session on Sunday! Our week of miracles consists of visiting all 69 inactive families in the ward. That's a lot! Our ward boundaries are consist of a large area, so we split the ward members into sections of the town and decided to visit certain sections each day. We have already visited some inactive members, and found they have moved. This will help the Bishop, and since they have moved, new people live there! TRACTING! I basically got a door slammed in my face, but that's ok, I asked for a referral anyway. Part II of our week of miracles: ask everyone for a referral We are trying to get 10 referrals this week. I think we have received maybe four referrals total, so 10 is a huge number!

Part III of our week of miracles: get 10 hours of Just Serve service hours in. We are supposed to do service at our Just Serve project for 10 hours a week, we have yet to get 10 in because scheduling is difficult.  But now we have bikes (thank you Mom and Dad for sending my bike).  Part IV: We are going to teach 21 total lessons. The mission standard or goal is 20, so we want to exceed that! The most total lessons we have taught in a week was 9, so 21 is way high, but I hope we can do it! Part V: we are going to get two new investigators! SO EXCITED! Our goal this week is to gather the wandering sheep, those that have strayed. We want to help them access the Atonement, to feel the Holy Ghost again in their lives! 69 is a lot, but we have already tried to reach a few, and I am so determined to at least knock on all 69 doors, to see if they live there!

Ideas kept coming to mind as to what we should do, and why we are in the ward we are in! It is so cool to be a missionary at this time! I am SO EXCITED for this inspired week, our week of miracles! We have already received a referral, and wow, it is wonderful!

Another miracle: I might have the opportunity to go to girls camp for a few hours! If any of you know me at all, you know that my heart and soul are in love with the YW and the Young Women program of the church! Even though I was assigned by the mission president to a YSA ward, and then was switched, and he didn't even know why, it was inspired. There are many YW that are looking to us now, and single moms or women that couldn't have the elders in their home before, but now they can invite us sister missionaries. I am so grateful to be in a family ward, this family ward in Wyoming! So imagine my excitement (screaming, and jumping out of my seat) when I heard that President Toombs didn't say “no” right off the bat to letting me and my companion go to girls camp for a bit! We would be doing service, and I hope to go so badly!

My companion and I also have an inspired idea brewing... "A Day in the Life of a Sister Missionary." We are excited to run this past our Stake Presdient.  We’d like to have Young Woman come out with us and experience what tracting is like, visiting less actives, and doing service!

It is going to be an awesome week! I love you all, thanks for everything you do!  Thanks for making my life so much better than it could have been! You have touched my life, and I am so grateful for that!

Sister Kelly Smith

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Roadtrips, 88 degree Summer, and cottontail rabbits different, but I love it! This week I got to go on a roadtrip twice to Colorado! Colorado is beautiful.  Wyoming is too, but Colorado, I can see why people want to live there. I went for trainer’s meeting, and that was fun. I got to see my MTC friends and go to Target! Our town doesn't have a Target... I felt like a real person when I was there! It was WEIRD.

The second time I got to go to Colorado was for mission conference, as in ALL approx. 270 missionaries were in attendance. It was awesome!  This was the last time the Colorado Denver North Mission will be together before the split! When all the missionaries stood to recite our missionary purpose, wow it was POWERFUL. I will miss President and Sister Toombs, but I am so excited to meet President and Sister Brown! It was so fun to see friends! I said goodbye to my MTC companion, she will be staying in the Denver North mission. She is the only one from our MTC district who is staying in the CDNM; the rest of us are in Ft. Collins. 

Since I am on foot (until tomorrow), I get to talk to a lot of people. This past week I decided to just carry cards in my hand and pass out to people on the street. We wrote on the back of them our name and number and a short message like "Have a great day!" or "We believe in Jesus Christ." I would go up to people and just flat out ask if they wanted a card.  Most people would be like "what is it for?" Then I would proceed to say, “Well, we are missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  From there, people would either accept or reject the card. So when I started this, I had about 38 or so cards. I passed out a few the first day, and the next day they were GONE!  I passed out about 40 in two days, it was awesome!  We also put some in doors... One time I gave one to someone and he said,  “Oh I have a buddy that just got back from Argentina for two years. I haven't seen him yet, but I want to.”  Then another person we gave one to, quickly turned to another guy and handed it to him,  "Here, you need to shape up your life." Ha, I thought that was great! If someone wants to change their life, the gospel can help.   

There are lots of rabbits here, They just hop around all over the place and are not very afraid. They cross the street within a few feet of a car!  

Love the 88 degree summer here!  It’s so pleasant.

President Toombs came up to Wyoming and we had zone training. I had to give the recitation (a short talk on one of the things we have to memorize as missionaries). I found out I was doing that when I walked into the room!  I was very nervous; it was my first time. I also ended up playing the piano for the opening song, but it was one I didn't know.  I ended up using my right hand only. I need to learn more hymns! 

We started using a new dinner message approach.   It was the first time I attempted to recite the account of Joseph Smith's First Vision word for word (I messed up, but still the Holy Ghost was so strong)!  Afterward the lady said she was thinking about someone to give a Book of Mormon to!  Because of the influx of missionaries, we are trying to get the members help.  

My time is out, and that was only a touch of my week! So many great laughs, and a crazy freak storm:  it basically snowed! Good thing it lasted for only a little bit!

I love you all! I love being a missionary! I say it is hard, because it is, but it is also very fun. The work is slow, but that's OK. I can strengthen the ward. 

Love you ALL!
Sister Kelly Smith
                                                       I took this picture for my brothers!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Heat Wave in Wyoming

So I'm in a heat wave right now... but that heat wave for this small Wyoming town is not even above 90 degrees!!! I'm used to around 100, or above so this feels great! There is also almost always wind or a breeze, do it doesn't even feel like almost 90 degrees! It's awesome! The wind is still not my friend, but that's ok, it makes it feel pleasant! The walk home last night was BEAUTIFUL! We didn't even have to walk all the way home because the other sister missionaries picked us up :) The evening was just gorgeous!! The sky here is AMAZING!

This is me trying to "push" through the wind!

My companion and I had an, well um, an experience this week. My companion and I went to visit an elderly lady (84) who has known about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for many years now.  So we finished talking with her and singing for her. Well, I played the piano, while my companion sang. Thanks for forcing me to take piano lessons, mom :) We left her house and started walking down the street. We passed by a Christian church and there was a lady outside weeding a planter box. We said hello and she started talking to us. I was getting so excited, here was this wonderfully sweet lady so prepared to hear the message we had to share! She has a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and the ability to be forgiven. She prays, and she prays to God in the name of Jesus Christ, like us! We asked her if we could come back the next day and help her weed (this time in jeans and t-shirts). She said yes! I was so excited to have a return appointment, and to be able to do service! I just love service!! I haven't done yard work in a while so I was excited to do some small weeding, too!

Next day: My companion and I walked to the church, rounded the corner, and there she was, already weeding! I was so excited; she actually came, and didn't stand us up! We start weeding and talking, and boy this conversation went differently than expected. She asked us questions, and was not afraid to tell us what she believed. Actually she told us a lot about what she believes. She ended up talking more than we did. She was Bible bashing us, but not in a loud, mean way. It was interesting. (The day before our district role-played  missionary skills and we focused on testifying in Bible bashing situations.) She talked about how Joseph Smith was a false prophet, and that we were polytheistic. Do you remember how I said I wanted to testify every time I had a lesson or taught someone? Ok, so I wanted to testify to her so badly that I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that through him the Church of Jesus Christ had been restored! She said so many things that I just wanted to stand up and be like, "I KNOW THIS IS TRUE!!" But I couldn't. I just kept weeding and smiling, giving input when I could. The scripture about being constrained by the Spirit IS TRUE! I made that promise to myself, so at the end I was like "I know this is true, and you can too, by reading and praying." It was empty, though. I was just saying words. I realized that the promise is good, but can't be a promise anymore. I only said I knew it was true to fulfill that promise. If we had given her our testimonies, she would probably have bashed those. She was basing her faith off of archeological evidence, which was interesting, and a video that she had seen. A testimony and conversion to the gospel will not come based off of evidence. You have to read, pray, and seek the Holy Ghost to give you the answer that it is true! I love the story of Joseph Smith! I love how he read the scriptures, took them to heart, and prayed! He prayed with such sincere faith that God would answer him. That's what we need to do. We need to go to the basics because they are foundational. We need to read the scriptures, act on what they say, and PRAY! Prayer is huge! I need to rely more on prayer and the power it has. Joseph Smith prayed, not just any prayer, but he PRAYED! He prayed to truly know what to do! We need to do that as well. I know I need to not take prayer as lightly! It can be a huge blessing and comfort in our lives. I love prayer, and need to make it so much more! We get to talk to God when we pray! How amazing is that?! Heavenly Father cares so much about us that He hears and answers our prayers! We just need to act, and pray to Him.

I love you all! Thanks for all the support! I love getting letters!!

Sister Kelly Smith

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wide Wyoming Sky... and a Pick-Up Truck

So this week has been AWESOME!! Actually I just think the last few days have been spectacular!
I LOVE WYOMING!!!  I seriously love this small town! I'm not a huge fan of the wind, but that's ok!  It's sunny, but with the wind you don't feel the heat as much!

Saturday, was one of my favorite days of the mission so far... During the day my companion was sick, so we just wanted my companion to feel better by 7:00ish because we had a lesson set up with our only investigator at 7:30pm.  I cannot express to you how much of an incredible experience this was!  I wouldn't trade it FOR ANYTHING!!  The ward missionaries (a nice newlywed couple) drove us to our appointment and stayed with us for the lesson; they added great input. Our appointment was outside of the main area of town, a few miles into the country!! I MEAN COUNTRY! We were on a dirt road for a while and ended up coming to the end of the road (there aren't house numbers on the few houses on the street). Brother S rolls down his window to talk to a rancher outside. The rancher used occupations to distinguish his neighbors, "Oh you mean the goat herders, or the horse farmers?" Well we had passed the house we were trying to get to... but as we were leaving the old rancher's house, we saw a cow's head in a tire, near the front entrance of the house! Apparently it was a fresh cow’s head too (horns and all). Yeah I'm in the COUNTRY!

We finally get to our investigator's house, and it is a ranch with about 15 horses on it! We pull up and talk to Sister L. Here is the part that I wouldn't trade for anything! Sister L. doesn't want us to come inside because they were cleaning and getting ready for a landlord inspection. So we have a lesson outside. Brother S pulls his car around to face the back of Sister L's pickup truck. I sat on the back of the car while our investigators (Sister L and her daughter) and Brother S sat on the back of the pick up truck. We taught the Restoration, outside under a beautiful Wyoming sunset! I love the Wyoming sky! Ok, but really being able to teach about the gospel, that Heavenly Father loves us, while surrounded by amazing creations from God, under the direction of Jesus Christ. I just would not trade that for anything! Remember, this is my very first lesson with a real investigator! So my companion nudges me (giving me the cue to invite them to be baptized). I invited Sister L and her daughter to be baptized -- want to know what they said?! YES! haha So excited for them! The H family (from home) came to mind a few times, so I told her about them. It was very cool!

Weird tidbit: seeing the missionary dinner calendar go around Relief Society when it is meant for you... it feels like we are asking for dinner in a way, which we are! We are fed almost every night!

Sunday night at Grandma's: Grandma is this sweet elderly lady in town, and almost everyone calls her Grandma. A lot of young single adults gather at her home on Sunday night to sing hymns. The missionaries get to go too! I loved being surrounded by people my age, who love this old lady, and sing to our God. It was so great! Um, new missionaries have to sing a solo for Grandma! So I sang a solo... haha that was interesting! If you choose a hymn with four verses, you had better be prepared to sing all four verses. Grandma likes that! Which hymn did I pick?! Love One Another! How many verses does it have, one! haha She is so sweet, I want you to meet her so badly!

I LOVE P-DAYS! They are a great change of pace! Even though we still wake up at 6:30am. Well, we woke up and what did we find outside on top of the car of the other sisters we are living with? A mattress and box spring!!!  The zone leaders put it on the car, with a note: "Herd you were sleepin’ on a couch. Please enjoy!" Yes, with that spelling! haha It was so funny! True though, I am still sleeping on a couch because there are only two beds in the apartment.   So we work out, and then study, then do laundry... then P-day really gets started! We got to go shopping for food. Then we had a mini BBQ with shish-ka-bobs, and brats. The zone leaders live in our apartment complex and so we set up the mini grill on their front porch. Our district just hung out and we talked, laughed, and wrote some letters. It was relaxing.  My district has four sister missionaries, and eight elders. There are 12 missionaries in this town! That's so many, but it's great.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Change in Mission Assignment!

Got to Denver after our flight got delayed. arrived around 10:30 a.m. and went to the mission home. There was a restaurant we passed called Gunther Tooday's (yes 2 oo's). On the outside wall of the restaurant was painted "No Hula Hoops." Weird, right? But it was funny. It looked like a Mels Diner... So we get to the mission office and I see Sister M!! She's from our stake. She gave me a huge hug!  Monday was the LONGEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!! So much orientation and sitting around, and pictures after traveling, ugh! I was the first missionary to receive my assignment (my first area in the mission field). Want to take a guess where I'm serving?! Dad you were right all along!!  WYOMING!!! I’m in the COLORADO FORT COLLINS MISSION.

Ok, so first I learn that I'll be over 3 Young Single Adult (YSA) wards, that's cool. Later that night I find out that we are covering a family ward (good, I like that). We are not only covering this family ward, but it is one of the most northern wards in the mission, and guess what? NO CAR, we don't have bikes yet so we are walking for a fair amount of today! Oh and summer here might not even reach high 80s!! It's RAINING right now!!  Four sister missionaries are living in an apartment meant for two, that means I'm on the couch... so is another missionary.  We are basically starting from scratch. SO MUCH WORK TO DO, but that's good! We are going to try and contact members today to get a good ground on what we are doing. My companion has only been out for 6 weeks (in the field).We are basically learning together; she is 19 and from Texas! She is really sweet, and strong in the gospel. I just feel so out of place here...

So here are a few realities I wasn’t really prepared for:

1. I thought I was staying in the Denver North Mission                                                         
2. I never thought I would go to Wyoming
3. I thought I would be in the city
4. I thought I would be in a car
5. I thought summer would be 90 degrees
6. I never thought my trainer would be younger than me
7. Living out of suitcases is NOT FUN, especially in a tiny apartment

I have to find good in every day, especially in this little town that feels like it is in the middle of nowhere.  But really though, it's tough! I want to go home so badly and just sleep and hug my wonderful family!  
Things to be positive about:

1. The sun came out for a little bit yesterday
2. I got a wonderful meal from a nice family in my ward
3. We have a dinner appointment tonight
4. I get to see what opening an area is like
5. I'm involved with lots of planning (I like planning)
6.We pray a lot! 
7. My comp is so nice, and has a strong testimony
8. We get to learn together, and with help from the Lord! That's the best help we can receive!
9. We get to do service EVERYDAY! My mission is in a pilot program called Just Serve. So we are going to try and do planned service (like at Salvation Army) 2 hours a day (except Sunday).
10. We get rides from the other sister missionaries in our apartment a lot
11. The Institute Director is very nice, and it was so easy to talk to him. He was the first member of our ward that I met. 
12. I'm in a college town, so it's basically deserted right now. But I kind of envision this to look like what Provo used to look like for you, mom and dad. So that's cool! 

Mom, thanks for your letter you gave me two years ago! “Cry a few tears, but then move on and draw your strength from the Lord.”   I have to do that to find peace, comfort, and happiness. Missionary work is hard, but it can also be fun! I have to find the fun in it!