Saturday, December 6, 2014

One way flight from COLORADO...

Hello all! I have decided to continue my blog, but now with a focus on member missionary work! I might also talk a little about the adjustment coming back into "normal" life. 
First off, Happy Thanksgiving! It was so different not going into multiple people's homes this year. Holidays are some of my favorite and least favorite times as a missionary. mostly favorite because you feel so loved and you get to see so many different ways of celebrating the same holiday, and different decorations, and traditions. It's AWESOME!! Ok, so on with my week!
My first week home is probably very different than most return missionaries. I almost got an extra week as a missionary, ok not really, but it was great! 

Monday: The day before I left was one of the most nerve wracking days and seemed to drag on forever! but I did get to go see the Fort Collins Temple! One of the construction workers was HAND SANDING part of the side of the building, it was so cool to see how much precision goes in to making a temple, the house of the Lord. Then I got to see one of the members I lived with in, which was fantastic! I was so anxious to get to the mission home for that evening. Monday was really special! I was with all the other departing missionaries and we had a great dinner with President and Sister Brown. I miss them so much! After dinner we had a testimony meeting. There were 14 of us missionaries, President and Sister Brown, and a couple of the office missionaries. We probably had closer to a two hour meeting for only 18 testimonies. It was fantastic! It was almost surreal to be surrounded by good friends and fellow missionaries and try to wrap my head around the fact that we would all be separating the next morning, to return home to our families. Hearing and bearing testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel was so great. The Holy Ghost was there and it was just so great. After our testimony meeting the Sister stayed at the Brown's, while the Elders stayed at the Holley's (the office staff... who also happen to be related to Sister Brown)! We stayed up late with Sister Brown and watched "The Best Two Years." Let me just tell you, that movie is SO MUCH more FUN when you have served a mission! One of the actors was based off of my first mission president, President Toombs (so that was another fun thing to watch)! 

Tuesday: Got up early... ok for reals I barely slept because I was getting so anxious! I was able to get some sleep though. I didn't want to sleep on the plane because I wanted to talk to people!! I got to ride in President's car with 2 other Sisters and 2 Elders. It was really fun! Then out of no where... we were SHOT!!! Literally someone shot the car, probably on accident because we were passing a duck hunting spot I guess... the window just EXPLODED! It was CRAZY!! We were all ok, but it was so weird to realize that even though we are missionaries, Satan still wants to get at us. Honestly, it was an accident, but really scary! A rock couldn't have made the impact that this did, and a window doesn't explode out of nowhere, so that's what we think happened, but I have no idea. All I know is that all of a sudden there was this loud noise and the wind was shattered! Then there was hole in it, and when we later pulled over President and some of the office staff that were in cars near us pulled over and they just knocked the rest of the glass out! The adventures never end! So we headed to the airport without a window, luckily we were getting pretty close! 

President Brown holding a piece of his window.

My last picture with President and Sister Brown! LOVE THEM!

It was hard to say bye to President and Sister Brown, and leave my friends. It was surreal. It basically just felt like a transfer. I was still feeling anxious, but once we got through security and we were heading to our gates it felt so right. I can't describe it, but going home felt good, it was what I needed to be doing at that moment. Soon enough I was on the plane, talking to a gentleman who was just visiting Denver for a Broncos game, and was headed back home, near the same area I live! It was awesome! I tried to talk to him as much as I could, because this is the truth, and it was my last chance to proselyte as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! I really wanted to give someone a Book of Mormon... but Heavenly Father knows best. I didn't get to hand one out, sad day! I really wanted to give the guy I was talking to one, but guess what? HE ALREADY HAS ONE!! It was awesome! So instead of giving him one, I invited him to read it! It was awesome! It was great real life training into sharing the gospel as a member. Yes I could say that I was a missionary and that I was headed home after 18 months, but the meat of the conversation I had with him totally could be of that of a member to a non-member. It was fantastic!! I really hope that he reads it! We landed safely and ended up having to wait right outside the terminal for about 30 minutes... let me just say, those 30 minutes seems to drag on for a long time! To know that our families (I was flying with another Sister and Elder) were right inside int he building waiting for us, made it that much harder for us to wait. And I was worried that I would be late to meet my Stake President. 

Sister P and I on the plane!! 

Elder T, Sister P, and I were the last ones to get to the baggage claim. And who we were excitedly greeted by? OUR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS!!! I was getting so excited and just trying to get there quickly! I was almost giddy! Ok, lets be real, I was EXCITED!!! We could start to hear a group of people and as we are about to enter the top of the escalate to head down, THERE THEY WERE! This huge group of wonderful people with signs and balloons and most of all, LOVE! They were there for us, because they love us! I got on the escalate and headed down to hug my family. My mom was so excited she came to the bottom of the escalator. I can't even describe the hug that I received from my dear mother, my greatest support here on this earth. At this point I am crying, and slowly realizing who was there that came to support me. It was so neat!!! Then I got to hug my sister. I cannot tell you how much this hug meant! I love my sister so much! It was long awaited! Seeing my bothers was great! One grew a lot, and I almost didn't recognize him, AAHHH!! The sweet hug from my tear stained father was fantastic! I felt so loved by my family. My other sister wasn't able to come because she was up at college, but after some pictures and grabbing my luggage I called her while in the car. It was so fun being in the car with my family just talking and laughing like we used to. 

So many people!!
Love my mom and sister!!
Sister P's face is my favorite!
Mom got the first hug!

Love my sister!

We got to the stake center and I had the chance to talk to my stake president after well... 18 months! It was so good to see him and I was just so happy! It was weird that I was so excited because I really didn't want to get released. But he released me after a nice conversation and bearing testimony to my family. During our testimony meeting the night before I didn't cry, but as soon as my stake president asked me to bear my testimony to my family, I start crying! He told me that I could take my tag off when I wanted to, so I didn't have to do it in front of my family. I took it off a little bit later. I cried when I took it off, it was so hard. My tag held so much meaning, but still can! When I took it off I kind of just held it, and ran it through my fingers. Not really sure what was going on. (I was on the phone with someone from my mission when I took it off).That day was so mixed with emotions, it was crazy! That night I was exhausted, but I watched Frozen with my family and it was good! Wow, I love the music (I listened to it on my mission... it was ok, don't worry), but with the movie it is really cool! It was pretty late when my brothers headed to bed, and I wanted to go to bed too. My mom came in and asked me to go say goodnight to my brothers, OF COURSE!! 
As I walk into my living room (on the way to my brother's room) I slowly realize that there are people sitting on my couch, in the dark. Commence Sister Smith (oops I mean Kelly) SCREAMING!!! Guess who was sitting on my couch?! THE L FAMILY from WYOMING!!!!!! My beloved mission family! AAAAAHHHHH Then I turn and who is on the other couch? MY SISTER who I thought was up at college!! AAAAHHHHHHH What is this? My Wyoming family and my real family all in the same house?! AAAAHHHHHH It was the best thing ever!!! They drove all the way from Laramie to see me and picked up my sister on the way... and all of this was a surprise that had been forming since JULY! Dang, they are good at keeping secrets, all of them! They stayed the night with my family, WHAT? Life is not real sometimes... haha but it totally is!! It was a dream come true to have part of my mission at home, talk about a great transition!

Wednesday: We had some fun near my hometown with my mission family! So fun to be with all of them!

Thursday: THANKSGIVING! It was so interesting being with my family. I really missed being a missionary. It was an uneventful day for my family. Yes, we had the traditional meal, but it wasn't super exciting. I really missed the chance to go to different homes and be surrounded by those that loved us, because we were missionaries.

Friday: We went to Angel Island, which is this cute little island in the Bay Area and you take a ferry to get there)! We were planning on meeting my cousins there... and I hadn't seen them in a LONG time. My cousin and I overlapped with our missions by about 3 months, so it had been awhile since we had seen each other! When we got to the ferry dock I looked around trying to find my cousins and who did I see? My Wyoming family, it was the best thing! So I ran over to see them! I didn't realize they were coming to go hiking with us!!! then all of a sudden this girl runs and attacks me with a koala hug and then goes on to shoot me with a Nerf gun!! WHAT?! SISTER C, my companion from Fort Collins was in CALIFORNIA about to go hiking with me! SO COOL!! She returned from her mission 3 weeks before me. I just kept getting surprised and it was the coolest thing ever!!!! I soon found out that she was staying the weekend and would be coming to my homecoming talk, with the L family. AAAAHHHHHH BEST!!! It was a fantastic day on the Bay, with friends and family! BEST BEST BEST!!! It was a pretty dang good Black Friday, haha we didn't even go shopping!

I just love this girl!! Best friends for life, I think yes!

Saturday: Chelle (since that is Sister C now) and I and my brothers went to B's house to enjoy her pool and hot tub. You would think that going swimming after 18 months would be weird... ok maybe for the first little bit, but nope it's normal right away! So cold though to be swimming in November, but it felt great!!! So fun!!!

Sunday: I gave my homecoming talk and I just felt so loved, by so many people! I almost started crying when talking about different things form my mission. I know that this is true! My talk is posted below. I didn't read it word for word, and mostly had an outline, with these stories that I wrote out.

Good afternoon Brothers and Sisters!

I am Kelly Smith (still getting used to the fact that I have to go by my 

first name again) and I just returned from serving my mission in the 

Colorado Fort Collins Mission. I absolutely loved my mission with all 

my heart! More importantly I love what my Heavenly Father taught 

me while serving the people there. I was asked to speak on the 

eternal rewards of serving a mission! One of the most important things 

I have learned is that Heavenly Father could do this work completely 

on His own, but He blesses us with the opportunity to serve. He teaches 

us, while helping us. There are so many other eternal rewards, but I 

narrowed those down to five main points! 

Number 1. The Christlike attribute of Humility. I am still working on 

this, but when we are more humble, we will recognize more miracles in 

our lives! I know that humility is a hard process, but as we lean on the 

Lord, everything works out so much better and we feel better about 

whatever we are doing. I was hit in the face really hard at the beginning 

of my mission helping me realize that I needed to be more humble and 

that I do not run the show, Heavenly Father does!! I was originally 

assigned to the Colorado Denver North Mission. The Fort Collins 

Mission had been announced and I knew that it would take a chunk out 

of the Denver North Mission. I was pretty sure that I would not go to the 

Fort Collins Mission, never go to Wyoming, and ride a bike. Well my dad gave 

me some advice, and I brushed it off. He warned me that I could be in 

the Fort Collins Mission, be in Wyoming, on bike, and that they might not 

have enough housing for the missionaries because of the influx. Ok, 

sounds good, I didn't really care. When I arrived to the mission office, 

my mission president told me that I would be going to Laramie 

Wyoming for my first area. Result: Sister Smith would be in the Fort Collins mission 

once it opened July 1st. I said ok, but was really shocked! I found out 

later that I would be on bike, but on foot until we got bikes, swept in, 

my trainer had only been out for 6 weeks, and that I would be sleeping 

on the couch sharing an apartment because well, they didn't have an 

apartment for us yet. I know that Heavenly Father really wanted me to 

lean on Him, and that as I had just dropped really low, I knew that it 

would be ok. I struggled, but I know that when we are humble about 

whatever happens we will be happier, and things will go more smoothly!

Number 2. The importance of CPR - Church. Pray. Read. CPR - It really 

does save your soul. There were many people I was able to help that had 

fallen away from the church, or who were struggling. I quickly realized 

that they usually started to slip or slide down because they weren't doing the little things that really help us. 

In Alma 37:6-7 it reads, "...but behold I say unto you, that by small 

and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in 

many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by 

means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small 

means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation 

of many souls." Those little things can be as simple as not coming to 

church, praying, or reading the scriptures. It may sound simple, but the 

greatness and miracles that occur in our lives because we are willing 

to be humble and submit to our Father's will, make a huge difference. 

There was one day when we didn't have time to study in the morning 

because we left early. I struggled so badly in the afternoon and was 

frustrated, and confused as to why I was upset and annoyed at something 

really insignificant. I released that I hadn't read anything from the Book 

of Mormon yet. I quickly read a few verses before we had to get to an 

appointment. What a world of difference that made. I know that there is power 

in the Book of Mormon! I was blessed to work with the R family 

who really struggled with coming to church, praying, and reading the 

Book of Mormon, and some other things. There were so many miracles 

involved in teaching them, and it was the coolest thing to see especially 

Bro. R change! He came to church a couple of times, and when he 

did, his countenance was dramatically different. He was more alert, 

more excited, and genuinely more happy. I know that when we do those 

small things in our own lives that it will be an eternal reward for us, to 

help us return to live with our Father in Heaven. 

Number 3. The Atonement. I knew before my mission that the 

Atonement was important and I knew that Christ had died for me and 

that through Him I can receive a remission of my sins, but I didn't 

realize that it also encompassed so much more! At the end of my first 

transfer I felt completely alone. I didn't have anyone to turn to, and 

it was hard! It was at that point, in a very low time that I felt of my 

Savior's love, and of His arms wrapped around me. I know that He lives 

and loves us. I know that the Atonement is SO MUCH more than just 

being forgiven of our sins. It is for strength and encouragement, and 

enabling. I know that I can think about Him and realize that everything 

will be alright. Later on in my mission I was teaching the A 

family who were less-active. It was one of the most powerful lessons 

that I had on my mission. Bro. A told us that he didn't have any 

faith and that he really didn't believe God was there anymore. It was 

so hard to hear and all I could do was think about the time when I was 

feeling so low, but then had faith, and felt of Christ's love for me. I was 

able to testify so much more strongly to Bro. A about having 

faith in Christ because of my previous experience. I know that we are 

supposed to go through trials to help us grow, but to also help others 

grow. I am so grateful that I went through that hard time so that I could 

help Bro. A. I know that the Atonement is real and that when 

you serve a mission, you come to understand the Atonement even more, 

which truly is an eternal reward! 

Number 4. Heavenly Father guides our lives. As a missionary, you are 

an instrument in the hands of God. It is so cool! I know that He guides 

our every encounter and wants to help us find His children that are 

prepared to hear the gospel, and if they aren't right now, we still get to 

help them come close to our Savior. I was training a Spanish speaking 

companion at the time, which was unusual, because I was assigned to 

speak English. While we were planning for our day, we decided that we 

wanted to find a family of 4 that spoke Spanish. During our prayers we 

let Heavenly Father know that we were going to search for this family 

from 2-4pm the next day. The next day we still prayed to find them. Around 

3oclock I remembered an apartment complex that someone had 

mentioned that had a few people that spoke Spanish. We went 

and the first door we knocked on happened to be a member and we 

asked if she knew anyone that spoke Spanish. She told us about a little 

girl named Lily that spoke Spanish, and that she lived next door. We 

went next door and that's not where Lily lived and the people weren't 

interested.So we started walking and found a little play structure with 

some kids playing. We started talking to a little girl, and her name was 

Lilly! We were SO HAPPY!!! We quickly found out that her dad spoke 

Spanish!! We handed Lilly a Restoration pamphlet in Spanish and she 

opened it up to the picture of Jesus Christ visiting the people in the Americas. 

She looked at it and then said, I wish I could go back in time and see 

Jesus. It was so cute and we explained that He will come again and that 

we will get to meet Him! She lit up and quickly ran home to give her 

dad the pamphlet. She also told us that she had a brother and we 

assumed a mother, so this was our family of 4 that we had prayed about. 

We got back to our car and it was about 3:45pm, just minutes shy of our 

time frame! The next day we went to church and after sacrament 

meeting we headed into a primary class, because weeks earlier we were 

asked to sub. The primary president walked in with 2 girls at the 

beginning of our class. Who did she walk in with? Lilly!!! We were 

stunned! We didn't even tell Lily how to get to church or what time it 

started. It was a huge miracle, and later found out that Lily's father knew 

a member in our ward and that the member had invited him to come to 

church the day before, the same day we met Lily! I know that Heavenly 

Father guides our lives and wants us to help His children come closer to 

our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He guides our lives and even if we 

don't think so. He knows what we need and He knows what will 

help us. Knowing that He is aware and wants to help us will bless our 

lives now and forever.

Number 5. Covenants. Covenants are eternal rewards, and as we serve 

a mission we have the chance to make further covenants with our 

Heavenly Father before we go out. I know that those covenants helped 

me as a missionary and I am grateful for that. Early on in my mission I 

was able to teach a mother and son, C and C. When we invited 

C and C to be baptized, Momma C didn't respond, little C said yes 

right away but Momma C was a little more hesitant and said that she wanted 

to finish the Book of Mormon first. I also believe that she had a deep 

understanding of covenants, and that she wanted to know if this was 

right. As we continued to teach her and extending a date for her to be 

baptized, she was still hesitant. A few days later one of the members 

that had invited her to meet with us told us that C and C were really leaning 

towards getting baptized on the date that we had extended. I almost 

screamed I was so excited! I had a mini heart attack! It was fantastic! I 

don’t think I have felt that much joy and excitement in my life up to that 

point! It was so cool! After Momma C was baptized she wanted to go to the 

temple, a year later almost to the day she was able to go to the temple to 

receive her endowments. The companion I had when we taught her and 

I were so blessed to go with her to the Denver temple to be with 

her when she went. My testimony of the importance of covenants grew 

by watching her and how she changed her life because she knew the 

importance of the covenants she had made at baptism and would make 

in the temple. I know that covenants are eternal and are the only way 

to be able to live with our Heavenly Father in the Celestial Kingdom! 

I know that they are a blessing for us and help us remember our Savior 

more and bring us closer to our Heavenly Father. 

I know that the Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father loves each of us. Christ is always there for us. Heavenly Father truly does guide our life through the Holy Ghost. I know that we are lead by a living prophet today. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Homecoming talk, complete! Thanks for coming to support me! 

Since I am behind a week... 
Monday: Chelle and I taught seminary together... and we were wearing skirts since we were asked to teach... so that was awesome to teach as companions again, but this time not as missionaries!! The L family and Chelle left that morning, and it was so hard to say goodbye. I am not a fan of goodbye's anymore. You say them too often on a mission. 

These last two weeks being home have been a whirlwind of craziness! Next time I will talk more about the change of being at home. 

Love you all,
Kel Smith

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