Sunday, December 6, 2015

I'm Thankful for Chocolate Desserts

November 30, 2015

Only one Thanksgiving left on my mission, that sounds weird doesn't
it? This has been an interesting week to say the least, so as I say
most weeks, buckle up and get ready for a read!

Last Monday was honestly super fun! We went to Lowe's with Tom to get
some supplies to build a roof for his camper and helped him assemble
some of it in his garage, then Elder Stimpson said his last goodbye to
Tom which was kinda sad because I think they both almost started to
cry hahaha! Anyways afterwards we went to Jeff's with the Zone Leaders
and had a good ole time and Elder Stimpson said goodbye to Jeff and
Mary as well! We finished packing and headed out to the Bakers for
Family Home evening, the Uhlmans were there again so that was awesome
because it seems like they are making their way back to being really
active! We stayed overnight at our Zone Leaders apartment down in
Nazareth, which was pretty awesome!

Tuesday we woke up early and drove to Bro Brewer's house. He's in our
branch presidency, but he lives in Nazareth (not our area). He drove
us down to transfer meeting. Transfer meeting is awesome because you
get to see a bunch of missionaries and talk with em for an hour or so,
so I got to see a lot of the guys from the MTC. My new comp is Elder
Maynard, he's been out just a transfer longer than me and he's from
Bountiful, Utah. What are the odds haha? Afterward Bro Brewer took us
out to lunch with the Zone Leaders and it was some goooood food! He
got us pizza fries, which is just cheese fries with pizza sauce on it
and oh man! I took Elder Maynard around the rest of the day to meet
some people and we helped Daniel Baker teach a "fake" lesson to Isaac
Uhlman, who's less active. Daniel is prepping for a mission so we
thought it would be beneficial to him!

Wednesday we had district meeting, which was all about loving your
investigators, pretty decent concept if your actually going to help
out these people. Everyone was super busy getting ready for
Thanksgiving, so we couldn't see many people. We went to the Bakers to
help them with their Thanksgiving prep, which was awesome because I
got to bake some cupcakes and stuff and it made me miss my old bakery
job back home haha.

Thursday we went and did some finding in the morning, since we don't
have too many investigators. We ended up meeting the mayor of
Palmerton, which was pretty cool even though he wasn't interested. We
got a referral from Church HQ and the lady was a Mettanite, which is
like an Amish offshoot. She requested a bible and said we could come
back and share our message with her sometime so I'm pretty stoked to
go there! We went to the Kennedy's for Thanksgiving dinner, which was
super casual, like every meal we eat there. It was just Bro Kennedy,
Sis Kennedy and their daughter Kerry and we all sat on the couch
around the coffee table and ate our thanksgiving dinner. We headed out
to the Roeselers to eat with them, which was once again a small crowd!
We finished the night by stopping at the Bakers to eat their leftover
Thanksgiving dessert, especially the ones I baked!

Friday we went up to Tom's camper in the woods to help him out with
some things. The roof we built is awesome! He put it over his redneck
porch so he could sit under it in the rain and hunt! We came back home
and did our weekly planning, then had a lesson with Charles! Charles
is prepping to go to the temple and wants to go on a mission so we had
a awesome lesson with him and  cleared up some Word of Wisdom problems
he had. After some more weekly planning we went to stop by some
potentials which I wasn't too happy about  because I know after it
gets dark here no one wants their door to be knocked on. We weren't
successful at all, but we got back to Palmerton and we were walking
around and we met a lady who lives just across the street from us and
was interested in hearing our message, so we will be going there later

Saturday we started off by helping Lori do some stuff around the yard
to get ready for winter, she gave us a bottle of Mountain Dew Voltage
for a reward! The Kellar's called us and said they had a dessert they
didn't eat at Thanksgiving and they would meet us halfway to give it
to us. After picking that up we had our Coorelation meeting with Bro
Fegely, which was fun to be the lead missionary in the discussion! We
went out to Tom and Melanie's for dinner and we brought the dessert
from Kellars along. OH MAN WAS IT GOOD! It was a death by chocolate
trifle type thing and man oh man would my parents have loved that
thing! After dinner we went to go see more potentials, once again in
the dark, so after we irritated a few people I told Elder Maynard we
would walk up to the "Utah" part of Palmerton where all the houses are
decent sized and actually have yards. On the way up there we met a guy
outside of the hospital who said he had an emergency with his son, but
he'd love for us to come share a message with him sometime soon.

Sunday we had our good ole branch council, which once again was fun to
be the missionary everyone turned to when they had questions! We gave
talks in sacrament. Mine was all about member missionary work. There
was an article in the 2007 Ensign titled "How to be a Great Member
Missionary". Honestly it is great to read, whether you are at home or
on a mission. It will give you ideas of how to either work better as a
member or work with members. Church was great because Isaac Uhlman was
there and now he says he wants to go on a mission! Then 3rd hour was
combined and Pres. Relitz gave a great lesson on how to be self
reliant. One point was tithing, which I know some members needed to
hear. After church we stopped by the Grubers. Sis Gruber is active but
Bro Gruber isn't. He was upstairs having a jam sesh with one of his
buddies. They are super good at the guitar so it was fun to listen to
them and talk guitar with him! We finished off the night with dinner
at the Roeselers. They are going to be moving at the end of the month,
so soon we will be helping them pack up.

Well that's about it for this week. Things are going good here, it was
a little slow week because everyone was busy with Thanksgiving, but we
taught a ton of less actives this week! This Sunday we are going to
have a baptism for Casper so I'm super stoked about that! I hope you
all had a great Thanksgiving, and have a great week!

Elder Dylan Smith

The End of an Era!

November 23, 2015

What a crazy week! First things first I get to stay in Lehighton! The
bad news is Elder Stimpson is outta here. It was a pretty crazy week
running around seeing people and getting some last minute work done,
so buckle up and get ready for a good read!

Last Monday was pretty rad because our zone leaders came down to
hangout with us for a bit! We just took em to Jeff's, but Elder
Fernandes played Jeff's drums and man he is good! They had stuff to
do, so they didn't stay too long, but they are coming back today!
After shopping and all that good stuff we headed up to the Bakers for
FHE and the Uhlmans (the family who we used to have FHE at their
house) was finally there! They moved up to Lansford, a place in a land
far far away that uses too many of our miles. They haven't had gas
money to get up here for a long time, but they finally made it back to
FHE! Bro Uhlman is a big dude, like large and really tall, but he said
he lost 60 lbs and he is getting a really good job soon! They haven't
been to church in a while because of no money for gas and health
problems, so hopefully we will be seeing them more!

Tuesday was a fun day filled of service, but really most of our days
are! Bro Schoenberger was putting a new roof on his garage, weeks
after having his hernia operation! What a crazy dude! So we headed up
to his place and moved the sheetmetal ontop of his roof for him. We
went with Tom out to his redneck camper in the woods to do some work
on it. A few days before him and Melanie went out and cleaned it
because it was full of dead mice lol. Anyways we were going up there
to put a new window in and look into putting a redneck roof over his
redneck porch. He actually forgot the screwgun so we didn't do the
window, but we helped him clean up some stuff a little bit. Afterwards
we had a lesson with Casper, we were going to teach him about the Word
of Wisdom. Their Uncle James was there, who we've never met, so we
were like oh great another crazy person in that apartment. We started
teaching Casper about tithing when his uncle said "Casper the bible
says you need to pay your tithing, but the bible also says to not add
or remove from it." And I was like oh great, here we go with the the
bible bash. We continued teaching Casper, and his brother Junior was
helping us out, then their Uncle started talking about tithing and he
just went off on a tangent and was all the sudden talking about roller
coasters and stuff. We finished up the lesson after quiet a while and
Uncle James kept talking to me and told me he loves how much the
Mormon Church emphasizes on family. What I thought would be a bible
bash turned out to be nothing and I walked out of that lesson really
confused on what happened, but at least Casper understands tithing! We
stopped by good ole Bro Unger's house afterwards and we just sit and
listen to him rant, then we joked around a ton and he warned us to
never get too whipped for a girl in the future! He told us he really
appreciates us coming over and listening to him and joking around with
him. The times before when I'd go there I felt like we weren't
accomplishing anything, but I no longer feel that way about going
there. I always try to keep in mind that a mission is about the
people, and if I can help out someone, even if it's just listening to
them, I feel like I'm doing my part.

Wednesday we went back up with Tom to the camper so we could actually
install the window! Now it's a sliding window so he can sit in his
camper and shoot out of the window! He took us over to his buddy
Frank's house and we visited with him for a bit. We went out to the
Roeselers to help him finish changing his oil and his break pads, but
the new tools he got didn't work either. The problem is, he had a free
oil change at walmart a year ago, and he figured he'd use it instead
of getting down in the snow to do it himself. Well they tightened some
bolts too tight and now we can't get em off, so lesson of the day is
don't take your car to Walmart! Since we didn't get any work done on
his car, we still had tome to wait for dinner so he taught us how to
play Risk, and boy do I like Risk now!

Thursday started off with district meeting on "asking questions".
Pretty much listen and ask real good questions so you can listen more!
I tried to focus on that the rest of the week. We had exchanges so I
went with Elder Laine (Pronounced line-eh) to Stroudsberg. He's in his
first transfer here, but he is from Finland and he served there for a
transfer waiting for a Visa. He's also 22 so he's got a lot more
experience than me, but being in a foreign country sometimes it seems
like he doesn't. Anyways we started off by going straight to an
appointment, but the people weren't there, so we headed out to another
lesson and those people forgot and didn't have time! We ended up
stopping by this guy named Jim, who's really involved in the Episcopal
church. When they tracted into him, he seemed kinda resistant to them,
but said they could go back. The dude was actually pretty nice. We
talked for a bit and he said he's reading the bible right now, next
the koran, and he hasn't had the chance to read the Book of Mormon yet
and I was like yo why haven't you read it? and he said I guess I've
just never put thought to it or had one, and I was like yo here's your
own copy! So we invited him to read and maybe one day he will, who
knows! I think I asked some good questions in that one. We went to
teach the Less Active member that I usually go teach out there, and
his kids weren't there this time so we got to talk more and he kinda
just vented about his life, which is fine with us! We stopped by the
Vialta's who are the missionaries favorite family in Stroudsberg. It
was Sis Vialta's birthday so we dropped off some cupcakes. I've only
met Bro Vialta twice but we are way tight now and he gave me a hug
before I left haha. We went and had dinner with the Lucas family,
which was soooo good! They are a real active older couple so we had
some good conversation with them! We then went to a lesson with a less
active member's husband. We had a great discussion and we were going
back spitting doctrine and stuff, it was super fun! His wife thought
that he was being mean to us though so she started getting mad at him,
even though he wasn't at all! I had a lotta fun with that!

Friday before we exchanged back we stopped at the church to give a
member a blessing, which is a great way to start the day! After
exchanges me and Elder Stimpson stopped by this store we always drive
by called Country Junction. Place is nuts! You walk in and follow the
yellow brick road on the ground. One minute your looking at novelty
candy, to the next looking at hardward, then looking at novelty toys,
to kitchen supplies, you name it! We had a lesson with Jeff Wartluft,
so we headed out to his place, but his wife was cleaning the house for
company later that night so we took a walk around the woods and he
showed us these awesome trees that ended up growing together! This guy
is super involved with his church, but he is very very nice and the
Book of Mormon is on his reading list, so hopefully one day he will
know it's true. Elder Stimpson had a hunch he was leaving, so he
wanted to go back and get a little packing done while we weekly
planned, but we made some awesome biscuits n gravy for dinner! We got
the call that night that he'd be leaving.

Saturday we went out to the Kellars to help em out with some stuff and
so Elder Stimpson could say goodbye. Bro Kellar had us pick up some
mcdonald's for us to eat, and his neighbor who was working on the
bathroom renovation. One of my Mcdouble's had 3 patties! Tender
mercies while serving the Lord! Anyways we did some fun stuff and
heavy lifting for him. It was a great day of service. We went to the
Kennedy's for dinner and pretty much all last week we were telling
people about funeral potatoes, trying to see how many we could get out
of it, so we had our first funeral potatoes in PA! They joked it was
like a funeral because Elder Stimpson is leaving. We ran around for
some more goodbyes before we got home.

Sunday was pretty cool because the whole Uhlman family came to church
and Bro Sandy out of nowhere was there too! Probably the biggest
attendance we've had since we've been here. Later we went to Tom and
Melanie's for Elder Stimpson's "Last Supper" and they also made
funeral potatoes for us! It was way fun because me and Tom just gave
Elder Stimpson grief because he's leaving!

We just got back from helping Tom before Elder Stimpson leaves, and it
was snowing just a little bit. So tomorrow we will head down to
Broomall for transfer meeting and I'll get a new comrade and all that
fun stuff. As for our investigators, Jon is super busy and he knows he
can't get baptized if he doesn't come to church. Casper is coming
along, but we need to get permission from his father for the baptism,
Jenny is working all the time so we can never teach Christian. Right
now it's a waiting game, but don't worry because things will pick up
and we can always find things to do to help out the branch and other
people! I hope you all have a great thanksgiving and I hope to hear
from y'all soon!

Last Picture with our District

Me, Tom, and Elder Stimpson

The Tree at Jeff Wartlufts

The bomb Biscuits n' Gravy we made

Me and Stimpy on Brother Kellar's Lawn Mower

Almost 3 Months Down???

November 16, 2015

Yes you read that right! Almost 3 months! I remember walking into our
sad excuse for an apartment the first day and thinking "I have to live
here for 3 months? There's no way!" Well I guess I did it somehow and
I'm almost done with my 12 week training too!

Last Monday we helped Tom out a little bit, then he took us over to
Geno's house (the JW) so we could replace his leaky faucet! Who
thought I would be a plumber for a JW while I'm on my mission? Anyways
it's always good to help, no matter who it is! The guys very very nice
and me and Elder Stimpson are gonna try to convert him next time we
see him hahaha. Then we went and picked up Tom's snowplow for his
truck and he said if we are still around when it snows bad, we can
come snowplow with him! We went to stop by Jeff's like we usually do
on P-day, but they were eating dinner, so we went to Walmart to finish
our P-day and wow shopping is even more boring on your mission!
Afterwards we finished the day having FHE with the Bakers as usual!

Tuesday we got a call from Jeff asking if we had eaten lunch yet, and
we hadn't so he invited us over for lunch and he makes probably the
best tuna salad I've eaten! We had a lesson with Casper later that
day, which went super good! We taught him the word of wisdom, and his
older brother, Junior, who's like 10 was in the lesson with us. Junior
pretty much knew the word of wisdom spot on, which surprised us
because he hasn't been to church since I've been here! We are gonna
focus on getting him back to church as well as getting Casper
baptized! Bro Shoenberger came to the lesson with us, and he asked
Casper's mom, Jennifer if they had family prayer every night. Junior
flat out told us no, so Bro Shoenberger committed them to saying their
family prayers every night! Pretty much a short lesson with just
Casper turned into a lesson with the entire family!

Wednesday we went and painted Tom's new trailer and went with him up
to Jim Thorpe so he could get his snowblower out from his
mother-in-law's house. On our way back he drove into Lehighton and I
had no idea where he was going, until he pulled into the parking lot
to the chinese buffet we keep eating at! He bought us lunch, which was
the 3rd time in a week I ate there, which is also 3 too many times
I've eaten there! Anyways we went back to his house to replace the
baseboard heater in his bathroom, but for some reason we couldn't get
it to work. Later in the day we decided we'd make up a bunch of thank
you notes to deliver to the veteran's in our branch. Hopefully they
enjoyed it, most of them weren't home so we left it on their porch. I
wrote one for Jeff and threw a little bit of my comedic genius into it
and he thought it was hilarious and loved it!

Thursday we had our district meeting. Elder Stimpson gave it on
listening. Listening is super important as a missionary because as you
go in to visit investigators or members, it's not about you, it's
about them and you need to listen. Elder Stimpson said he needs to
work on it a lot because every time he's talking to someone and they
say something, he will almost always have a story to go along with it.
Which is true, I've heard about every story he has more than once
haha, but he committed us to all be better listeners and go through an
evaluation in PMG. Our Branch Mission Leader prides himself on being
such a good listener. He really is, but he talks about it a lot, go
figure? A lot of the lonely/crazy people in the ward call him or he
goes and visits them and just listens. He says "the key to listening
is to say "Exactly" when there's a pause, it shows them you agree and
that you know what they are talking about". So I figured for the rest
of the week I'd focus a lot on listening and take what I learned from
our BML and district meeting. After the meeting, we did exchanges so I
got to go to Stroudsburg with Elder Martinez. It was nice to get a
break from my area! Elder Martinez wanted me to teach my object lesson
I often use throughout the day so he could learn it and teach it
himself. We started off by going to another chinese buffet out in
Stroudsburg. I don't know how much more my body can handle of that
stuff! We visited a less active member, who's kids are pretty much out
of control, so I taught him the lesson about the holy ghost and things
you need to do to keep the holy ghost in your life. We committed him
to go to church this week and I forgot to ask Elder Martinez if he
actually went. We went and visited this inactive lady Elder Martinez
has never met. I guess a member asked if we could go give her a
blessing, because she's pretty sick. We gave the lady, Becky, a
blessing and it turns out she has cancer. A member came with us, Bro
Dehaven, and he lost his wife to cancer a year or two ago so this hit
him pretty hard. Becky was baptized a few years ago and brought
another lady into the church and maybe even more. It's pretty sad, but
the Lord always has a plan for us. We went downstairs in the building
to have dinner with a member, who was the lady Becky brought into the
church. Sister Cluruso or something like that? I met her the first
time I went on exchanges and she's a very very nice lady and I got to
teach her my trusty Holy Ghost lesson as well! We finished off the
night by teaching their recent baptized family. I taught them the Holy
Ghost lesson, which was pretty perfect because they have been
baptized, but not confirmed yet so I got to tell them what they will
receive and how they can keep it in their lives! The family's oldest
daughter and her boyfriend sat in on our lesson for the first time,
and they participated a lot! It's great what you can do when you make
the gospel and the lessons fun! It wasn't too hard to listen because I
didn't know anyone in Stoudsburg so I got to listen and get to know
people a ton! I used the "exactly" thing a lot too and it worked
pretty well.

Friday we got to have interviews with our Mission President. It went
pretty well and everyone else was speculating what was going to happen
with transfers or whatever from their interviews and I guess I'm super
oblivious, but I didn't get any hints. President Anderson pretty much
told me we need to start doing more Recent Convert, Less Active
lessons, which is something we can definitely roll with! He also asked
if I feel like I could train, so I said yes, but I really don't want
to train a brand new missionary during the holiday's? Talk about a new
homesick missionary? Interviews took up most the day, because they
also did some training on mission and companionship unity. I'm not a
fan of the word "companion" so from now on I'll be using comrade,
because that sounds way cooler! I feel like our comradeship unity is
just peachy anyways so we are pretty good on that! We went home and
did our weekly planning, but then we heard about the attacks on
France, so we went over to Jeff's because he always know's what's up.
Man it's pretty nuts though, I feel bad for France. I was a little
worried about Elder Grayston, but then I figured they shoulda been in
bed, and even if he wasn't, he could probably handle himself one way
or another! As for my listening on Friday, it was pretty good because
Jeff never stops talking so I listened a lot!

Saturday we visited the Bakers and shared with their son, Daniel, the
mormon message "Your day for a mission" which is all about a rugby
star leaving rugby behind to serve a mission. He did great things on
his mission, and returned and continued to be a legendary rugby
player. Daniel is preping to serve soon, so we figured we'd just keep
encouraging him! We stopped by Jeff's to see if there was anything new
going on in France. We headed out to the Kennedy's for dinner, and I
taught them the Holy Ghost lesson as well. Hopefully one day we will
get Bro Kennedy to church, it's not an easy task, but neither was
growing a mustache and somehow I still did that!

Sunday we had stake conference, which was pretty weird because we met
in a high school auditorium. Going into the auditorium made me a
little homesick thinking about high school haha. I can't believe I
only graduated like 5 months ago and now I'm out on mission. Anyways
President Anderson gave a talk on members needing to be more involved
in missionary work, our Stake President, President Dursch, gave a talk
on getting prepared for the Philadelphia temple. Last stake conference
he challenged the stake to index 1,000,000 names in preparation for
the temple. Just this week the stake completed the goal! Everyone was
pretty excited about that! Then the area seventy, Elder Sinclair
talked about how he grew a pineapple plant in Indiana and pretty much
we can all do hard things and we need to be that pineapple plant in
the corn field. A few visits afterwards and dinner with the Roeselers
finished the week!

I apologize for so many words and no pictures! There's just nothing
cool to take pictures of out here! Anyways I think my listening skills
are pretty good! I think my talking skills are what need to improve,
but that will come over time! Transfer calls are this Friday, and
there's not really a reason for them to move me, but we are hoping
both of us get to stay. They want to keep this transfer meeting as
small as it can possibly be so everyone feels more "at home" for the
holiday's! So please pray we both get to stay here hahaha. Anyways as
always things are good here. I always miss you all, but I know there's
a lot of reasons why I need to be out here! I love you all, keep
France in your prayers and have a great week!

Elder Dylan Smith