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!|
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,