Oh what a crazy time! We are leaving for the Philippines on Monday!!!! It's very bittersweet because I am going to miss my teachers so much. They have taught me loads about the gospel, myself, missionary work, and the people in the Philippines. However, it's mostly sweet because we will be able to finally live with the wonderful Filipino's in the greatest place on earth and learn so much from them as we serve. I just feel extremely lucky to be able to be in this situation! We are definitely blessed.
This last week we finished teaching our investigators and I'm actually sad to leave behind Juralyn and Rochy. Even though we will be able to see them (our teachers) when we get home, it's like a preview of how I'm going to feel when I'm finished with the next 17 months. You just fall in love with serving them and bringing them hope and it's really hard to let it go! But it just reminds me that I can't waste any time and I need to work my hardest to help as many souls come unto Christ as I can.
This week we had our missionary Tuesday devotional in the Marriott Center at BYU. It was weird to be back at BYU and yet it was different because it was full of just missionaries. The choir is preparing for the first presidency and a bunch of the Apostles who are coming next Tuesday. (Yes, I am missing them by ONE day!) But they sounded so Angelic. It will be one of the largest choirs ever with over 1100 members in the choir singing. The sound was incredible as they sang called to serve (which is already a tear jerker from missionaries.) Also, I love Elder and Sister Arnold from the seventy. They had a perfect balance of encouragement as they spoke, through complementing while promoting work ethic. We learned a lot about the sacredness of our calling and our divine nature along with the divine nature of our investigators. Our future investigators' ancestors are helping us as Angels on the other side so their descendants can receive ordinances and then do their ordinances in the Temple. I don't know if this has enough context, but just know it was a devotional I won't forget for a while.
This week we were just walking to dinner when Sis. Dixon says, "I wonder how your Filipino companions are going to react to you since you are so happy all of the time." Yeah, I just started laughing. I'm a little worried about cultural differences, but I know that the Lord won't give me anything I can't handle. I'm excited to learn new ways of doing laundry (this is the last time with machines), and new food and new testimonies and new perspectives on life. Next week as I write to you, I will have a totally different companion and I will be writing about completely different experiences. I am so excited for what the Lord has in store for me. Whether it be good or bad, I can't wait to learn from it. I know that whatever happens, I will just become a better person because of it, and I can't wait.
This week I took on our branch president's challenge of writing down all the things we are asked to do in our Patriarchal Blessing and all the things we are promised. It really helps me focus my studies and life on what is really important. Along with remembering all of what I am supposed to do, it uplifts my day to read through all of the promises and gifts I can receive. The second list is twice as long as the first. This is just another testament to me of how loving our Heavenly Father is. He cares for us, loves us, and wants to bless us so much. He asks for so little compared to the great blessings he gives and the great sacrifices made by our Savior. We can make time for our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
This last week, our sacrament meeting was on The Atonement. I'm in charge of picking the hymns and special musical numbers for our branch, but there are so many good Hymns about our savior. I wrote down a long list of applicable songs that were appropriate for our sacrament meeting, then prayed to know which ones I should choose. I had a list, but it didn't feel right. Normally when I do this, everything goes really smoothly and I don't change my list very often, but this time I decided to switch out the closing song to "How Great Thou Art." In sacrament meeting, one of the branch presidency wives was speaking, and she broke down in tears, saying she had a feeling we were going to sing this song for our closing song and told an emotional personal story about how important is was to her. I was shocked. I had no idea that picking a song could impact an entire meeting. I am so grateful for my continuing relationship with the Holy Ghost. I know I am so blessed to be able to focus my whole life on Christ and spend so much time strengthening my relationship with the gospel, Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I know that Jesus Christ lives, that He helps us daily, and that there is no other place I should be then right here serving His children. I love this gospel, I love continuing to learn about it and I'm grateful for the continual strength I receive from it. I know that testimony and conversion is a life long process that leads to eternal life, and I'm so glad that I have been able to boost my speed on that process through serving full time. I love you all and I am so grateful for all of your love and support.
Love, Sister Ashley Smoot
P.S. Happy Fathers Day Dad!!!!! I'm sending you a real letter in the mail. Also, I'll be able to call you at one of the Airports, either in Salt Lake or in Oregon. I'm attaching a picture of the flight plans so you will know the time range. If you don't answer then, oh well, but I think I will call mom's cell first, then dad's. I don't want to break any rules so I'm planning on using the pay phone, I already bought a calling card. But tell Brother Lowder thank you anyway! I'm pretty sure today is the last day you could send me stuff because Saturday morning is the last time my district will pick up the mail. I think emailing from now on is how I will contact you, but you can still Dear Elder me for free to the Philippines, just don't do it to the MTC, or I won't get it. I love you all so much!!!
Mail and Laundry Room. Our last P-Day at the MTC!
The most awkward picture of me ever, but all of the sisters in our district. I will miss them!
Just Kidding, this one is the most awkward picture ever. Cleaning Day! We cleaned the bathrooms in the Spanish building every mondaymorning from 6:00 am to 7:20 am. So fun... and attractive...