Monday, March 31, 2014

Letter # 44 (March 31, 2014) Transferred from Cadiz

I got Transferred this morning!!! I've decided I don't really like having weekly baptisms because when you get transferred you have to miss their baptisms :) But I know everything will work out in the end. There have been so many changes in our mission that it's hard to keep up, but it's a lot of fun to. I'm back in Bacolod Central Zone (my first zone) and we share a ward with our zone leaders. I've figured out that I am actually kind of close to Magsungay (my first ward). I'm back with a Filipina, her name is Sister de Leon. I replaced Sister Nilson (Sister Jenna Smoot's companion from the MTC). 

But I'm still going to write this letter about Cadiz because I was there the whole week.

This last week was crazy because we got new elders on Friday that we had no knowledge up. Our district leader texted us and said they were adding Elders to our branch and that it was up to us (me and sister Remund) how we would split the area. It's hard splitting the area fairly when you want to keep all your beloved investigators and recent converts, but we tried to do what was best for the area. We didn't end up losing a lot because there was a lot of area we were not allowed to go to because we are sisters and it isn't safe. So we gave the elders all of that and the ward members said that missionaries have never been out there, so the Elders should have some fun over there.  We had a baptism this week for Brother Justine!!! He was so excited. His whole family was supposed to get baptized, but they all decided that just brother Justine would get baptized first.  We were so sad and spent the whole week trying to figure out why and ask them how we could help them and did a lot of practice teaching trying to figure out their hidden concern, but we came to the conclusion to just let them wait even though we were devistated. Also, I'm a little upset that I will never know why they didn't get baptized because I am no longer there. But Justine is so strong and promised God on several occations while praying in our lessons that he will stay active in the church his whole life :) Also, on his very first sunday, the sunday of his confirmation, he payed tithing! Talk about conversion. I was so lucky to be able to find and help Justine come closer to God. He will do amazing things in his life. He is only 14, but I thought he was megans age the whole time. Then we were getting his information for his baptism and he said the year that he was born and I almost thought he was joking because it was 1999. I remember what was going on in my life in the year 1999 and that was when he was born. It made me feel really old for a minute. Also, I then realized megan is 17, not 14 anymore. Life just moves on ahead of me. :) 

This week we had an FHE with a family who has a huge potential in the church, but right now half of them are baptist, and one of them is the preacher. Step by step they have let us into their home and have a lot of good questions and we had started to build a lot of trust. The preachers wife, Sister Myrlinda even came to church two times and was one of the ladies in the baptism picture with Sister Rocel (they are neighbors). We had an FHE and we had the spirit so strong. One of the sons who is training to be a preacher, started questioning me, but they were sincere questions, not just testing. The spirit helped me so much to be able to answer their questions with Scriptural Support.  The exact scriptures came to my mind for all of them and I was able to share with them. They were really satisfied with the answers and committed to finally read the Book of Mormon. (They are scared to read the Book of Mormon because they have seen other people be committed to the church after reading it! I said, yes, because it's true and there is no way to deny it :) ) It was a cool experience because I love being able to be an instrument for the Lord. I hope I can continue to be exactly obedient in order to become more and more worthy of that pure divine guidance. 

I'm sorry that I cant really remember everything this week because my brain is kind of fuzzy from the travel and from the call last night that I will be transferred and then mad-dashing last night to pack everything up.  I will be more organized next week but we were a little short on time today. I love you all so much and I hope you are all doing well. Thank you for keeping me updated and for continuing to support me. I love you so much and I am glad you are having so many amazing things happening in your life. Ally going through the temple and preparing for a mission, Megan turning 17 and getting so old, McKenna doing volleyball and her temple trips to all the temples in Utah!, and Lilly just being way too cute :) I love you all and thank you mom and dad for the letters every week :) Palangga ko kamo!
Love, Sister Smoot

ROCEL's Baptism!

Some Beautiful photos in my area

Letter # 43 ( March 23, 2014) I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!

We had a good week this week with lots of miracles! We had a few funny moments as well. First of all, Sister Rocel was baptized on Saturday! She and her mother were scheduled to be baptized, but her mother decided to wait for her husband. It's always hard when we see people come so close and then choose not to go all the way, but I know that everyone has their own timing and own situations, and I can only pray that her husband will be softened to the truth.  The spirit was very strong at the service and sister Rocel was so excited to be clean. She is so beautiful and even extra beautiful all dressed in white.  Bother Rocel and her mother, Ruthcel will be in my heart for a long time. We've cried together, we've shared together and we've learned together and it mixes together into a big ball of love. I just pray we can all make it to the celestial kingdom and see each other again! 

This week we were teaching one of our recent converts, Melrose, who has never had schooling.  She only knows Ilonggo and the really deep old Ilonggo. She also doesn't understand any english. Sister Remund is still learning Ilonggo so she is teaching in English. Half-way through Sister Remund's section of the Lesson, sister Melrose just speaks out.. "I don't know what she is saying." Sister Remund started feeling sad so I gave a speech to Melrose about how Sister Remund is an angel because she is a missionary, so even if Melrose doesn't understand what she is saying, she will be able to feel them through the spirit. I asked Sister Remund to keep teaching and at the end, Sister Melrose held her hand up to her heart and pounded it against her chest while saying, "I felt it." It was such a precious, sweet, moment that made me chuckle a little afterwards. She just has such a horrible living condition and a horrible family life, but she still has a testimony of the spirit and the church and she continues to show us that she is a child of God. She is a very special girl.  

A very funny and might be innapropriate thing that happened this week was with the Corro Family.  They are a family of all girls. The mom has 4 girls and the husband left a while ago. So it's just a family of girls! We were teaching about the priesthood and how men and women have different responsibilities but we are all important and apart of God's plan. Then I asked them what are some things that women in the church do? (looking for something like teach, help, cook, they love people, have children .....) The oldest daughter reminds me of myself as a Know-it-all, very factual 12 year old and says "nagamense?" I didn't understand the word so I asked her what that meant, and she said, "menstrate?" I almost died trying not to laugh. Well, now we know what woman in the church do. :) 

This week when we visited the Aliponga family, they asked us if we could teach some of their friends. Of course we were happy too, but it is an area that we are not allowed to go to at night and it was starting to get dark. So I told her to talk to her friends first, and we would come back on Sunday to meet them if it was okay with them. Yesterday on Sunday it rained all day and very heavy rain. The area where they live is just a mud pit so it's hard to get out there, let alone in the rain. But we just knew we couldn't let them down. So we prepared ourselves for the hike and half-way there saw our shoes caked in a 3-inch layer of mud. We just laughed and kept hiking until we got to their house. When we got there, sister Delia Aliponga (who was baptized on March 1) saw our feet and rushed us over to her laundry buckets and washed our feet. I was so shy at first to let her wash my feet and tried to do it myself, but she insisted and washed my feet and my shoes. Her love and her motherly love for us made me feel safe and at home and I know it's just a small thing, but it just made me love her and her family so much more, even though they are basically already my family. I love this area because I have been able to be apart of the whole conversion process with so many families.  I was the first missionary to teach their family, and I got to see it all the way through even to the point where they are the fellowshippers for others. We went and taught their friends and they were able to teach their friends how they came to know of the truth and they were so excited. Their spirit and testimonies are continuing to grow and I am so lucky that I just get to witness it!  We were able to teach the whole family (the neighbor) and they all have a lot of potential. I just love being a missionary. :) 

I just want you to know that I know that the church is true and I know that missionary work is from the Lord. He is the one directing and overseeing everything. We just have to have the faith to follow through and follow the promptings and become examples of obedience and kindness. I hope you are all doing the small things in life that bring happiness and peace. I love you so much and I am so grateful that you are my family! Love you! Palangga ko kamo!
Love, Sister Smoot 

Letter # 42 (March 17, 2014)

This week... I can't keep them straight anymore! First of all, I am so excited Ally is going to the mission field! I tried to get some of the ward members to stalk her on facebook to have a sneak peak of where she is going, but they could see anything.. haha. Sorry if you get a bunch of random friend requests from the Philippines. oh well, now I know, I watched her video very first so i would be surprised- Chile? That is fantastic and Spanish is way more useful than Hiligaynon, (even though I love Hiligaynon and would never trade it. It really is my new favorite language and I know you will feel the same way about everything in your mission. That's just what happens when you give your heart to something. This is a long side note, sorry!) 

We had an amazing zone conference in Bacolod so we didn't get to proselyte on Wednesday or Thursday and on Friday and Saturday I had to stay in because I was sick, but don't worry, I went out for the baptism, but that's why I look really good in those pictures! I'm not going to die, I'm healthy again. It's just what happens when you eat weird food with lots of heat and walking around, I'm getting better at taking care of myself and it will not happen again. Then on Sunday we had a fireside with President Lopez at our stake center. So our proselyting hours were very limited and we didn't get to visit all the people we needed to. As a result, our numbers were really low, and our spirits are never as high as when you get to go our and work and testify. You feel the spirit way more when you are working your hardest. Don't be afraid of hard work in the mission field, because it almost becomes addicting. If you don't work your hardest, your spirit feels it and hungers for something better. When I'm working my hardest, even when we have dissapointments, we still have the spirit. This week was just a little lower and it affected every part of the work. It even affected the spirit in our companionship. But we will start anew each day and work together to serve this area. It's all about the people here. We have been very lucky to continue having weekly baptisms and we are excited to keep finding new investigators.  We start again and again each day to be better. 

Our baptism on Saturday was of Razel and Mia. Mia's actual name is Frauline, but that is really hard for people to say, so everyone calls her Mia (her nick-name).  Razel and Mia were the two teenagers me and sister Madronio found my first week here in Cadiz. They went to church that first week and have come ever since, but the reason it took them almost three months to get baptized, is because they are the busiest people in the world. We were never able to teach them. Right after church they would have somewhere to go and do and they never had time to teach them. We tried teaching them through texting... that doesn't work too well. We tried teaching them during church, but we really needed to be able to be with our other invetigators during church too. It was a struggle, but they were finally able to learn all of the lessons and experience real conversion. The spirit was so strong and they already of such a strong unity in the ward. Half of the ward members thought that they had already been baptized a few months ago. Their spirits are strong and they are already preparing to serve missions. I can't wait to write them as they are serving! Maybe they will come to Utah and we can feed them there :) Anyway, it was a really good day!

I will try and share more miracles next week, but this week was kind of dull. I'm working on always being good, but this morning I was particularly discouraged about my performance as a missionary last week. Then I read in our stress management guide that we cannot always perform above our average. We will have times that are not our best. We cannot be alarmed, we just move forward with faith, knowing our overall average can still improve. I know that even though sometimes we are so hard on ourselves and we feel like we are inadequate, if we are doing all we can to serve the lord, we will not fail. Feeling like a failure is really just pride, because it is putting the confidence ourselves... right? If we have true confidence that this is the Lord's work, then we will not get discouraged. We will just continue in Faith. I'm so grateful for this gospel. Even the little things. We don't need to be discouraged. We can all be happy, even when we are going through a sad time. Overall, there is a peace there. I love you all and hope this week we can all feel the peace, even through the fast times in life! I love you!
Love, Sister Smoot

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pictures of the week

Our Baptism on Saturday, March 8, 2014
Irene, Arvylyn, Melrose

Cabaluna Family!!! These are the cute kids who ran and hugged me when they got to church last Sunday! They have a baptism date for April 12th!!

Melrose!!! (in White) And our investigator Mia! (Her sister is the one who looks like me!)

Me and Sister Remund

Letter #41 (March 11,2014) Sister Melrose gets baptized-Obedience beings happiness! never forget it!

This week was a little bit crazy. We found out last week that we wouldn't have pday until today (Wednesday) because of our training tomorrow with president in Bacolod.So most of today will be travel to Bacolod. Everything is going okay, but I'm a little bumbed we will miss our on some of our great appointments today and Thursday. But...I will get over it! I'm way too excited to know where Ally is going on her mission... you better just come to the Philippines with the rest of the family :) I love you and know that wherever you go will be for your benefit and for the benefit of the people there!
On Friday we were having a slower day because none of our set appointments followed through. We found a lot of back-up appointments with Recent Converts and Less-active members and were able to do okay, but it's always harder for us at night time because there are a lot of areas we are advised to stay away from at night (as white sister missionaries). We were on our way to a less-active member when my stomach started hurting and my head started buzzing. I asked Sister Remund if we could stop for a second and she asked if I wanted to go home. I said no (because I hate going home) and looked around for somewhere to sit for a second. Just then I saw a Tyungge ( a little store in front of homes). Something just told me that if I could just buy and drink some water than I would be okay. We went over, but the lady said they didn't have any bottled water, I thanked her and we walked away and paused for a second, then she came outside of her house and offered some of their personal mineral water inside. Normally I don't like to take things from people, but for some reason I said yes and we walked inside. We started talking to their whole family who was just sitting in their front room and found out they were members in the church but had been less active for 10 years. She said they switched to Catholicism because there were less commandments, but she noticed there was something missing in her life. We were able to share a message to their whole family and they received it very well. The miracle, is that immediately when we entered their home, all of my sick symptoms vanished.and we were able to help this family.  If the lord needs to make me sick to find his children, that is okay with me. As Sister Remund and I left the house, we felt the spirit strongly testify to us that this was a miracle from our loving Heavenly Father. I am so grateful to be a missionary at such a miraculous and urgent time. The Lord is aware of all of us.
We had a baptism on Saturday for the Irene and Arbylyn and another sister, Melrose. When we arrived at the chapel, Sister Melrose was already there. (She is the one with the horrible family situation. He father didn't even know her birthday or any of her information, and we were just glad he signed the papers) Melrose is 12 years old and is responsible for her own food and needs every day. She has never had school, but faithfully runs her fingers across the letters in the Book of Mormon. Even though she invited all of her friends, no one that she knew showed up for the baptism except for our Young Women President and some other members  who were there for the other candidates. We were heartbroken when she said she had gotten to the chapel at 6:00 in the morning, because that is the cheapest time to come into the city. She had been waiting out front for 10 hours but was still as happy as ever that she was going to be able to be baptized.  When the members started arriving, one of our strongest investigators, Sister Mia (who will be baptized this saturday) came with some of her member friends to witness a baptism.  She saw little melrose and immediately went to help her. (Mia is the one who told us last week that she wants to be a teacher and wanted to start now by teaching Melrose how to read).  Mia is only a teenager, but went over and told Sister Melrose that she was her family, and she stuck with her the whole day, even for the picture sesson before the baptism. Sister Melrose felt the love of Sister Mia, but more importantly, we were all able to learn a lesson about the love our Savior has for all of us, and how he shows us this love through others.  It was a particularly memorable baptism for me as I felt undeniably in my heart the love that the savior has for sister Melrose and for Mia and how happy He is when we become more like him. I hope I will always remember this example in my own life, as we all continue to strive to be more Christlike every day and continue to repent as we change our attitudes, hearts, and desires to be more centered on Christ. I am so grateful for this time in my life. I'm also grateful that some of my sisters will be able to feel of this spirit and this love too! Especially Ally in the coming months. I love you all and hope you are doing all you can to keep the spirit in the home and keep being obedient. OBEDIENCE BRINGS HAPPINESS! never forget it :) I love you all!
Love, Sister Smoot

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sister Remund, my first American companion

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Letter #40 (March 2, 2014) Twenty one investigators! Hugs and more miracles!

My new companion is Sister Remund. She is from St. George Utah, has red hair, and came two transfers after me so she is the same transfer as Sister Natarte.  Her family owns Great Harvest in Southern Utah and she is very athletic... haha,  It's weird having an American Companion. She is my first one and i have been out almost 10 months! I'm not used to it yet and it is distracting for the people we teach, but I'm sure we will get the hang of it.  

Yesterday was full of MIRACLES!! I think this whole letter just might be about Sunday because I could write a separate letter for each day. But yesterday was spectacular... so I'm going to focus on it :) First of all, we had 21 investigators at church!! WOW, that is the new record:) I know it is not all about the numbers, but think about the 21 souls who got to come closer to Christ :) It's really beautiful.  Also, apart of the 21 was a family we have been teaching for a while. I found them with sister Fotofili and they have a large family. Six of them are investigators, but there are 9 people in the family. They haven't ever been able to come because it's so hard with so many kids, plus financially it's hard to pay to get everyone to the chapel, but yesterday they ALL came! One of the members who had taught them with us, came up to me in the middle of switching from relief society to gospel essentials class. Everyone was seated and we were getting ready to start, but Sis. Remund and I slipped out to find them. They were all walking down the hall and when they saw me, all of the kids started running towards me yelling "Sister Smoot!" There were 6 kids surrounding me and hugging my legs and I've never felt such a full heart of love and gratitude. I literally felt as if the Savior was there too and I was just hugging them for Him. I know hugging is against the rules but I made sure I wasn't hugging them, they were hugging me and I was just smiling and shaking their hands :) It was a really special moment that I hope I never forget!!

Also, we had three interviews for baptism. They will be baptized March 8 and they are all excited. Sister Irene and Arvalyn are both in the same family and then a little orphan girl. The little orphan is Sister Melrose. She has been taught by missionaries for almost a year, but has never had school so she doesn't know how to read and can't afford fare to get to church. She has learned the lessons again and again and is very smart. She has everything practically memorized. She finally made it to church the ammount of times needed, but we were still worried that after her baptism she would just start coming. She is 12 years old, lives with her drunk dad who is abusive, and finds her food each day from begging. We contacted the young women president who miraculously lives pretty close, and she an the other young women are watching out for her. Also, remember the two sisters who always come to church, Razel and Mia (Razel is the one who looks like Ally)? They are getting baptized on March 15, but sister Mia said that she wants to be a teacher when she gets older, so she will teach Melrose how to read. I just started crying again last night after all that had happened. I love melrose so much, and now the whole branch is working together to save her from a horrible situation. I'm so excited for her baptism too on Saturday.

Last night, we were walking down a street looking for a lady we had contacted earlier in the week. She told us the street name, but it is a huge street with not too much hope of finding her.  We were just walking down when we heard someone calling out to us. It was Sister Juliet, the sister we were looking for! She invited us in, gave us food, and wanted to hear our message. At the end after talking about Joseph Smith, she was in tears and shared how God has blessed her too in her own life. I am so grateful for the guidance of the spirit and also for the help he is giving us everyday! I'm just overwhelmed by how many blessings and amazing things are happening, and I know that it is only because He is giving us these opportunities.  I'm grateful for this gospel and for the hope it is giving to everyone. I still had 3 other miracles I wanted to write about, but don't worry, they are in my journal for when I get home! I love you lots! I know this church is True and this is the Lord's work. Only through Jesus Christ can we be saved, and He is helping and guiding us to Him! How glorious is this hope!!

Love, Sister Smoot