Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Letter #21 (Oct 14, 2013)

Dear Family, 

This week was another great week. We totaled up all of our numbers for the week and this week we taught 44 investigator lessons. We are consistently being obedient and consistently searching for more and more people to teach and we are working on having short and powerful lessons to leave the investigators with a strong spirit in their homes.  Even with all of our dedication and hard work, I know this is only possible through the Lord.  Even if we were perfect missionaries, it is only through the Lord that these people are converted.  We had to do a lot of clean up in the area because of people attached to the last missionaries. The investigators stopped coming to church because they wanted the old missionaries back. Now we are working on gaining back their trust while making sure their conversion is to the Lord and not to us. It's a hard balance to balance our friendship and trust with each other, while making sure they are relying on the Lord, and not relying on us. I don't know if this is making any sense, but I'll just say that we are really busy, and I know I'm really lucky.

I'm still adjusting to training a Filipina, but I'm learning a lot of Tagalog.  Sister Natarte is so dedicated and really wants to learn and speak Ilonggo, but since she didn't learn it in the MTC (natives of the Philippines just have a week and a half in the Philippines MTC with no language training, so they just show up with nothing and learn they need to learn a new language) she teaches in half Tagalog and half Ilonggo. The grammar structure is almost the same, it's just about learning new vocab, but she's picking it up really fast.  Sometimes it gets hard when they hear her speaking Tagalog so they start speaking Tagalog to match her... then I'm just completely lost, but I'm learning to pick more up and she's learning to speak more Ilonggo.  Either way, the spirit needs to be really strong between us so that we are able to understand what is happening in the lesson, and even when we don't understand everything in the lesson, the spirit works really strongly to help us know what to say.  I'm so grateful for all of my past experiences with the language to give me the strength and confidence to continue doing missionary work with all of my might, mind, and strength. 

Since we are both new, most of our investigators and brand new, so still in the beginning processes of learning the gospel. It's fun to have a lot of the same lessons throughout the day, and we are really learning how to refine our lessons and teaching skills as we teach over and over again. I just can't believe how incredibly blessed we are. It's also a great help for Sister Natarte to get used to the lessons and she is so great about adding her own insights and I love learning from her. I just feel so guilty sometimes because I get to learn so much. I just want to keep learning at this pace for the rest of my life! Oh no, there's my inner nerd coming out again. One quick story about an investigator. Brother Joel is a minister in another religion, but he is very kind and let the missionaries teach him. We found him in the area book so we found his house after asking around and it turns out he has read a lot of the book of mormon and prayed and he knows it is true! He is just worried about leaving his commitments at his church, but he wants to get baptized! We will continue to visit him and support him in following the Lord, but I know I'm so lucky to be able to meet someone with such incredible faith and dedication to the Lord and be a small part in his progression towards God. This work is truly amazing and the daily spirit we feel is so filling. I just feel full all of the time. Full with investigators and full with happiness and full with the spirit and full with the Love of God. I know life isn't always supposed to be this wonderful, and just like we learned in conference, there is also a lot of suffering and enduring,  but it's just so wonderful that we have such hope and comfort and times that are amazing too. Even the days that are hard and we have minimal teaching appointments, we just find a few things to laugh about, and everything turns out okay. When we are diligent, obedient, and choose to smile: that's when I feel the spirit of love and happiness the most.  I love you all and am so grateful for all of you! 
Palangga Ko kamo!
Sister Smoot

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