Friday, May 31, 2013

Week #3 (May 30, 2013) MTC

Week #3? I can't believe I'm already half way done with the MTC!

This week was momentous! We have now taught multiple lessons in Hiligaynon with no notes. And not just translating and memorizing but actually following the spirit and having conversations with our investigators.  Obviously it takes 10 years to say things because you're conjugating while you go, and a lot of what we say is dumbed down because I only know so many words, but in the simpleness of our message, the Spirit testifies of truth.  I love being able to better help our investigators and I know it will only get better over time.  

For TRC (Teaching Resource Center), my companionship got to teach a real Filipino who moved to Utah from Bacolod!  Since she grew up there, she definitely knows Hiligaynon backwards and forwards.  At first I was intimidated when I found out we would be teaching her a simple message.  Even though she's LDS, I was a little scared because of my lack of language skills. But one of the Elders, Elder Schow, could tell I was nervous and said, "There's no fear in faith, sister."  I immediately calmed down and realized all I could do was my very best and the Lord would do the rest.  There is never a reason to fear (freak out in my case). Anyway, as we walked in, I realized we were the LUCKIEST companionship. Sis. Konichi is so wonderful and kind and happy and the type of person you want to be around all the time.   We were almost laughing the whole time because of all the jokes she was telling.  The crazy part was that we could actually understand her.  I gave her a short message about God's love, after we got to know her, and read a few scriptures.  We always read out of the Book of Mormon because that's all we have translated into Hiligaynon.  That experience reconfirmed that I know I will Love the Filipino people.  I was called to the Philippines for a reason and God is aware of me, He loves me, and helps me with Everything. 
Our companionship does a weekly inventory of goals, what's going good, bad etc.  This week my companions told me to be careful about laughing too much.  I know there are times when it is not appropriate to laugh, but I thought I was doing really well. Regardless, I started trying to laugh quieter and less often.  But I realized it was sort of making me depressed.  Our teachers have individual coaching hours where we can ask any questions about missionary work, language questions, or anything, and I asked whether or not my laughing was a distraction in class.  He just kind of chuckled and I realized it was a really dumb question. But I just wanted to be respectful of everyone's learning and respectful of the spirit.  He told me it was totally fine and my laughter actually helps the class relax a little because everyone's kind of getting really stressed out.  I know I will continue to laugh while trying not to annoy my companions. But my advice to you sisters: Ally, Megan, McKenna, (sure why not Lilly too), is to laugh laugh laugh.  It makes you happy, healthy, and not depressed and it really does affect your day.  It reminds me of that general conference talk from forever ago about laughing when you are about to cry.  Don't worry, I do it all the time. Plus, your eyes never get puffy that way!
This week I was assigned to be our branch music coordinator.  I get to pick sacrament Hymns and assign musical numbers. There's so much musical talent in our district, it's insane. 
Also, some funny things happened as well.  We played softball for gym one day with just the 13 missionaries in our district. Elder Morgan, from Australia, and Elder Manu, from Tonga, had never played before. They didn't know any of the rules. Plus, some of us sisters who are a little "challenged" at the sport were there as well. On the flip side, we have two Sisters who played in High School, two elders who played baseball in High School.  Let's just say it could have been really awkward and embarrassing. Which is sort of was.  But it ended up being so much fun.  Sometimes it's weird How nice and supportive and helpful everybody is.  We just laughed the whole time, which usually annoys the people who can actually play, but they were joining in and helping to teach everyone.  It was like a big bonding love-fest.  I love the unity that the spirit can bring to a group of random people from all over the world.  Another "funny" moment of the week was when our teacher, Bro. Oldroyd was flipping through his old planner while he was teaching us how to use it to plan for lessons and such. Then he randomly pauses in the middle of one of his sentences and says, "I wrote as one of my goals to buy a pet crab... I better get on that." He's more of a serious teacher, so when he said that, it kind of shocked all of us and we just erupted in laughter. I'm realizing I find just about everything funny... which I guess is not a bad thing, but I'm sorry if this is just really boring. 
On Sunday night, after the devotional, we were able to watch Sis. Monson's funeral.  It was so hard to see the prophet in so much pain, but is was also really neat to watch Sis. Dibbs talk so fondly about her mother.  I had an impression before the video started to write down all of the attributes of Sis. Monson. So throughout all of the speakers, I wrote down all the qualities and characteristics of Sis. Monson.  I love that list.  I've looked at it a lot over the past few days and I really feel like they are things that I want to develop in my life as a current relief society member, and future wife and mother.  I 'm so grateful for all the learning and growing opportunities I have been given here.  There is so much good around me, I feel kind of selfish sometimes, but I know I am so lucky to be able to serve and help the people in the Philippines.  I know that Heavenly Father loves all of his Children and He wants all of us to be happy.  I know the Church is true and I know I am where I am supposed to be. I love you all and thank you so much for your positive examples and support!

Pallangga ko kamo! (I love you all)
Sister Smoot

Pictures of the Week

Laundry in the Dungeon!

Our thermostat has been broken for the last three weeks and stuck on 63 degrees. It has been so cold that one of the Sister, Sis. Van Slooten got sick and couldn't get better, so her companion Sis. Livingston sent this in to management. I just thought her wording was funny!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Week #2 (May 23, 2013)

This week was a lot like the first, just crazier and busier.  I know that means I'm going to progress at super speeds but it's nice to have a breather every once in a while, Thank goodness for the TEMPLE!  First of all, just to give you an excuse to laugh at me, I am now known as the girl who falls down stairs. It only happened three or four times within the same two days. Then one day, I fell down a whole flight of stairs in front of my whole district plus some of my zone.  Yup! I was sprawled at the bottom of the landing, my books and scriptures flying all around me, and everyone frozen, not knowing what to do.  It was kind of funny if you think about it.  Bottom bruised the size of a hogi bun, elbow bleeding, and the end of an exhausting day, but at least I was able to accomplish our companionship goal of finding something to laugh at ourselves about each day.  Afterwards, I did cry for a while, I think it was kind of like the last straw of hay that tips the pile (or whatever that saying is). It was the first time I've cried since being here and it felt really good. Sometimes I think it is cleansing.  Sometimes I feel like there is so much going on, and I'm feeling so many emotions, and the spirit just drains your energy after a while, you just have nothing left.  But you sleep, wake up, and start again even stronger than you were before. 
Another funny thing happened this week. Elder Morgan, from Australia, told me that when he got his call to Bacolod, his older brother showed him a video on Youtube and it was the video Uncle Allen put up of me opening my call.  He said that when I walked into class, he was so surprised and couldn't believe I was "real life there". He took some pictures with me to send back to his family because he thought it was so cool.  I was laughing so hard. At first I was a little creeped out that people on the other side of the world were watching me on the internet, but it's actually really funny.  Also, this same Elder came up to me in the hall while my companions were using the C.R. (bathroom) and asked me, "Have you weighed yourself lately?" I was really surprised by the question and I think there may be a difference in the culture of asking a woman about her weight.  But I just laughed and told him I haven't.  He looked really distraught and said quietly, "I've gained 12 pounds, I don't know what to do!"  He really doesn't look any different but he was so sad about it. I'm still not sure if he just forgot to switch from the metric system.  Don't worry, I don't think I'm blowing up yet.  I think some of the Elders just have a problem because they decide to eat everything in there, instead of just picking one meal at a time.
It's so good to see Sadie. I've only seen her a few times, but it is always nice to see a friendly face and get a good hug in. I'm so grateful for her and our friendship. Another thing that gets you through the hard parts of the week is the biweekly devotionals.  They are the greatest ever. They uplift me, strengthen me, and let your mind rest for an hour and your testimony just grows.  The Weeks are all the same, but they seem to get busier with every one.  Each time slot becomes fuller and fuller with things we are preparing for.  Our second teacher, Brother Hong, just got back from our mission in November. He knows the mission well, including the mission president, President Lopez, and it's fun to ask him questions about specific mission things as well as cultural things.  He is teaching us some fun FHE games to play with the filipinos, don't worry mom, I'm writing them in my journal.
The Language is getting trickier, but it's amazing how quickly we are picking it up.  It's easy to get caught up in comparing how good others are to you, but really, when other people are better, I can ask them for help and the more things they say in Hiligaynon, the more things I pick up from them and learn.  The one frustrating thing is when you are sitting with your investigator and you want to help them so bad, and you know exactly what you'd tell them in English, but you can't because you don't know how to say it in Hiligaynon. But if you stay calm and say what little you can, the Lord (through the Holy Ghost) testifies of the rest.  It's so powerful, I tear up every once in a while.  (I know, I'm a crybaby). 
I realize now, after reading this, that my standard for humor has dropped tremendously. But I think it's important to find joy in the little things, even when your brain is about to explode from finals, or you're so buried with homework you don't know what to do. Don't let the stress affect your attitude. I have to check myself a couple times, but I'm grateful for wonderful examples all around me.  Thanks for everyone's support and love and letters and Dear Elders! I love you all and I wouldn't be here without you!
Sister Smoot
P.S. if you send me a Dear Elder, is there any way you could Date it at the top or something so I know when you sent it? Thanks a bunch!
P.P.S. Sorry there are no pictures this week. I'll be better this week I swear!
P.P.P.S. Thank you for the packages and love!
Love, Sister Smoot

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Week #1 (May 16, 2013)

This first week has been amazing. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical since I have received mixed responses to the MTC, but it has exceeded all my expectations.  It's like living in the temple 24/7 and learning and growing at top speed. That may not sound very fun, now that I say it out loud.... but trust me, I'm in Heaven.  Even though we have literally no free time, our study times are so full of goodness.  I don't know how else to describe it. Welearn so much about the language, but it's not like any of the Spanish classes I took, because the gospel is always involved. I have the best teacher in the MTC, (don 't tell Russ) because he is so in tune with the spirit and evenly mixes the gospel with the language. I am in a trio companionship to I have two companions, Sister Dixon and Sister Nielsen.  They are so cute and uplifting.  The Language is so much fun.  It's part spanish and english, but mostly new stuff. If I have a question, I just use a Spanish word and there's a small chance it will be right!

On our third day in the MTC, we taught a 20 minute lesson in Hiligaynon to an "investigor".  Marioneto.  Even though we know he's not a real investigator, we treat him like one in our studies, prayers, and lessons.  The spirit we felt in each of the five lessons was amazing. I never could have imagined the love you feel for someone when you put in that much thought and prayer and dedication towards someone's salvation.

The language is a lot of fun to figure out.  I think the guide books are awesome.  They are the best in the world, since Hiligaynon is technically not a written language.  The church wrote most of the materials that are available.  That means we only have chapter 3 in preach my gospel and the Book of Mormon.  But it helps us focus on the importance of the Book of Mormon.  Our teacher learned three dialects on his mission, in Ilo-Ilo, and even though he learned Tagolog in the MTC, none of the languages he used were Tagolog.  I'm so grateful for the growth of the church and MTC so that we are able to learn a language we will actually use, even though it will probably be different once we are out there.  Anyway, the language is not nearly fluent, but I already feel good about the progress we've made.

I was struggling with the memorization about two days in, and was getting a little discouraged, but then I realized my companions were just as flustered.  I realized all of a sudden, and it hit me like  a wall, I'd been thinking about myself.  I flipped my point of view and in my prayers, instead of praying for help with my language skills, I would pray for specific things my companions were struggling with and really focus on how I could help them.  As soon as I started doing this, their language skills started accelerating, as well as mine.  It became so (I'm not going to say easy). but fun, enjoyable, and fulfilling.

I was a little worried about how a trio companionship would work out, since people kept saying how it was harder etc. But I'm so grateful for it.  With three people we get more insight, inspiration, more people to remember more words(vocab) and lets face it, personality.  It's a great stepping stone to only having one companion all the time. 
Our district is really large. Not that I would know any different, but Elders and Sisters comment every time they pass our classroom because it's so packed. We have 13 missionaries, 7 Sisters, and 6 Elders.  We are the only district speaking Hiligaynon and we are all going to Bacolod except one sister companionship (Sister Foster and Sister Winward) are going to Ilo-Ilo.  The Bacolod mission is growing so fast!!!  Our district is so positive and uplifting.  I feel like even though we don't know each other very well yet, we all want to be close and help each other.  We have an Alder Templeton from New Zealand, Elder Manu from Tonga, and Elder Morgan from Australia.  The rest are from the U.S. and most from Utah.  I went to high school with Elder Schow and it's funny to see how many mutual friends we have, even though we didn't know each other.

It's so powerful to hear Elder Manu's testimony because even though he doesn't speak English very well, you can always feel the spirit when he speaks.  It reminds me of the importance of keeping the spirit with us always and keeping ourrelationsip to God close because our language and words are not going to convert, (especially with the level we're at right now), but but it's the Holy Ghost that will touch the hearts of our investigators.
We got to hear from Janice Kapp Perry for Relief Society and for the devotional we got to hear from Elder and Sister Russel M. Nelson.  It was a powerful week to say the least.  An APOSTLE OF THE LORD!

P.S. MOTHERS DAY! I'm sending you a personal letter mom! But we watched Music and the Spoken Word and the whole thing was on mothers.  I teared up as I thought of you and all you've done for out family.  You are so amazing, I don't even know how to word it.  Even the simple things.  A sister in my room ripped her shirt along the seam and was so sad she couldn't wear it anymore.  I was like, "sew it up." She didn't know how so I did it for her.  She was so amazed, I just kind of laughed because it was a skill I always took for granted.  I'm sure there are so many other things I don't even realize I know because of you. So thank you for all of your hard work!!

Lots of LOVE!!!
Sister Ashley Smoot

P.P.S.  Letters and Dear Elder are best so that I can spend more time responding and reading!! Thanks for all of the support! My mission has free Dear Elder!

Here are some pictures!

My companions (from left to right: Sister Nielsen, Sister Dixon, and me)

Cheesy district picture :)

A taste of language class...

District Temple Walk

Monday, May 13, 2013

We got our very first handwritten letter! (May 8, 2013)

I hope it's ok to send this!

Dear Family, Kaamsta!!

I love you guys so much! Thanks for all of our love & support. They are letting us write a letter to our families the first night, so I am not breaking the rules. ;)
This first day was crazy! A lot of people got overwhelmed and everyone is just asking, "How's your first day? Everything is going to be fine."
Haha I just have to smile. I am totally taking the advice & enjoying everything and smiling & laughing. For some reason I am totally calm. It's crazy. Maybe it will hit me later, but I am already really comfortable here.
EVERYONE knew Jenna! She is so cute and told everyone to take of me. She even left me a note in our classroom. :)
I have ave two companions. We are the only trio in our district, but I'm sure there are others. People keep saying companionships are hard but we get along really really well.
We are the three that are the most smiley and we are trying to have really positive attitudes. We are ready to take over! hahaha JK
Sister Dixon, Sister Nielson and I. Jenna's companion was also Sister Nielson so people keep commenting how there is another companion pair Nielson and Smoot. Also her grandpa is our Highland Stake Patriarch Stowe and our old Bishop Stowe's uncle.
Anyway, I walked into class and the teacher started talking to me in Hiligaynon. Yeah, so I don't really know what he said, but we used a lot of charades. He won't speak any English until next week, so pray for me, my accent sounds like hick needs some work!
I love you all so much! OH! We had a group discussion with a real investigator, it was a lot of pressure, but the spirit flooded in and he started crying. It was so amazing!
My brains a little fried. I don't know if this is making sense, but I love you!!! Don't worry mom, I will send pictures. I saw my roommate Sadie within the first 5 min-so fun! (going to Italy)

I love you all!
Love, A (whoops) Sister Smoot

Entering the MTC - May 8, 2013

Sister Ashley Smoot Entered the MTC in Provo, Wednesday, May 8th 2013.  Here are some pictures of that day. The girls wanted to get out of school at the last minute to see her off. It was a little emotional but we were also so excited for her. The time had finally come! We ended up going out to lunch for one last request...IN-N-OUT. We then went to the temple to take some last pictures together as a family for 18 months! We will miss her but we know she is doing the best thing she could do right now- serving the Lord. Philippines watch out! Here comes Ashley.

Another thing very cool was that Steve's parents work at the MTC right now as hosts and greeters on Wednesdays welcoming thousands of missionaries. So here is Grandma Smoot welcoming Ashley. She saw us ran down to stop #20 and just swooped Ashley up into her arms. That was so cool and comforting for all of us. We kissed, hugged and off she went. We got back in the car and it was funny. Total silence and lots of tears. We sure are going to miss her but we are so happy for her.

In-N-Out Burger

Ashley and her friend Annie saying goodbye

One last family picture together!

Ash and McKenna 

Ash and Megan 

Ash and Lilly 

Ash and Dad

Ash and Mom 

Ash and Ally 

It was so fun to see grandma Smoot swoop Ashley up into her arms to welcome her to the MTC
It's starting to rain!

It's starting to RAIN
I guess this will be quick

Ash and Grandma Smoot 

She's in good hands!
Good Luck Ashley-SEE YOU IN 18 months!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Getting Set Apart May 7, 2013

The night before, President Anderson came over along with our cute Bishop to set Sister Smoot apart as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was a very cool experience, the spirit was strong and we had lots of tears. Mom and Dad Smoot were there too and shared some great advice and experiences from their 3 missions. This was our last family night together-

Getting Setting Apart 
(May 7, 2013)