Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A transfer full of lasts

July 11, 2017

Well folks transfer news came around and I get to finish my mission in
P1 with Elder Lee! I'm so stoked because I really really really didn't
want to pack and half heartedly go to a new area. It's gonna be great
just continuing to do my thing around these parts. Im super excited
for my last transfer though, it's gonna be amazing! I remember the
months leading up to me heading out here were so strange because
anytime I would do anything I would think "this might be my last time
doing this" and now I'm running it right back again so don't be
surprised if I talk about "lasts" in my emails because those will
probably be things I want to remember.

On the 4th of July we played some basketball and some wiffleball too
which was awesome, it reminded me of playing it with the guys back
home. After being out in the sun for way too long we hung out around
the church and the P4 elders apartment. I swear I went to Wawa like 4
times that day because their water is free and they have good
slushees. To watch the fireworks we went to the top of their building
which was kinda sick, but kinda lame too because all the fireworks
were so far away haha. Pretty decent 4th though, got to hangout with
all the elders so I can't complain.

As far as the work goes this week it was pretty interesting because
last weekend I got some sort of stomach bug which was mostly just
nauseousness, a little bit of pain and losing most of my appetite, so
I haven't been eating much. Elder Lee ended up catching it a few days
after me so we've both been pretty drained on Wednesday after
teaching a lesson with the Bills we asked Sister Bills what would be
the best thing to try and eat without having an appetite and she
recommended ginger ale and ice pops. They stopped by the store so we
could buy some and no joke for like 3 or 4 days we pounded the ice
pops! I'm pretty sure some days I ate toast and ice pops for
breakfast, lunch was rice and by dinner I wasn't hungry at all so I'd
pound some more ice pops. We've consumed a few bags of them and of
course we have some bags with the left over flavors we don't really
like (red, orange, purple) but we've been forcing ourselves to eat
them too haha. Today after church we were starving so we came home and
starting making a bunch of stuff and Elder Lee said "wow, we must be
starving because we haven't eaten this much food in a long time" but I
hardly ate anything before I got full. So listen up, if you want to
lose weight by eating less, just eat tons of ice pops, they do the
trick! I also got some more dental work this week, which was supposed
to be a quick walk in, pop a crown on, walk out, but it didn't fit so
they numbed my face again and worked away. Right after we had lunch
with our bishop and it's super strange eating a cheeseburger when you
can't feel half of your face. That numbing stuff destroys me because I
couldn't even stay awake on the bus ride home haha man real life stuff
is tough.

We did pickup like 3 new investigators this week, which I'm super
happy about because I've been slacking on my finding. Our area Book
was full of investigators, but a lot weren't progressing or we kinda
just stopped meeting with them, so I dropped them all which made our
list relatively smaller than I'm used to and you truly get blessed
with people to teach when you do that! I'm not trying to teach a
record amount of lessons my last few weeks here, I'm just trying to
teach people who are actually interested and ready to change their
lives! It's great because although I'm thinking about home a lot, I
feel like I'm the most focused I've ever been on teaching to
Conversion. We taught a wonderful lady named Esther, whose teenage
kids are members in Liberia. She was so happy when we came by and
she's very excited to learn. We also taught a lady named Gurley who
has an aunt in Minnesota who is a Latter Day Saint. When she visits,
Gurley attends with her aunt. Turns out she also has a large print
triple combination that some sisters gave her in 2010! Well used too!
She has no idea what happened to those sisters because she never saw
them again, but it's okay because we are here now! She says she still
feels hungry like there's more truth out there. Then we taught a guy
named Joseph, who is in a group home. He might have dementia, but he
told one of the nurses he's a Latter Day Saint and she called our
bishop to have us come meet him. We are like 80% sure he's not a
member because he said he was baptized two years ago and no one knows
him... he also said that he lived on woodland, a popular street in the
ward, but then he said he didn't live anywhere when he came from
Liberia... not too sure, but we can teach him anyways! We'll see what
he can retain!

So a few fun facts for you, as we were visiting with our recent
convert Antoinette this week we found out that Liberia's Independence
Day is July 26th I explained to Antoinette about Pioneer Day and she
was pumped because she can celebrate the 4th, 24th and 26th as
holidays haha. Also, Antoinette told us that the Liberian
"headquarters" are in Philly, Minnesota and New York. All of the
Liberians living in America travel to those 3 hotspots if they want a
good celebration on the 26th haha. I'm so excited to stay here and
super excited to celebrate Liberian Independence Day! I hope you all
have a wonderful week!

Freedom, Slurpees, and Eternal Families

July 4, 2017

The last words my mom sent me last week was "I will watch for your
email, we will be at the wonderful Centerville Parade!!" I can almost
sense the sarcasm in her voice AND my dad's lack of excitement to sit
out in the blazing sun. So why do they do it? Why do they spend every
4th watching the parade? hopefully I can make a couple analogies about
this using missionary work because my last few emails have lacked some

First I always want to toss down a few highlights from the week. I got
to do an exchange with Elder Yirena-Tawiah again this week and if i
could have one more companion before I head home, it would probably be
that guy! Not only is it a blast being with an African in lil Africa,
but he's just such a good kid and loves to have fun. He said it was
one of the best exchanges ever as we went out to teach and find. The
day flew by. The next day our zone leader Elder Lee came with us for
most the day, so we ran around the streets in a trio doing work and
eating water ice. Before getting water ice a lady literally drove up
to us, asked if we were Latter Day Saints and asked for a Book of
Mormon. Got her phone number too and we hopefully can meet with her
this week. I looked at the elders with me and told them that that
situation happens more than they'd think. We got water ice and the
girl at the cashier told us she used to go to our church and met with
missionaries a few months ago and would be open to meeting with us
again. What? So we took our water ice and started on our way back home
when another car rolled up to us asking if we were Latter Day Saints.
This lady wanted a bible and wanted us to come teach a bunch of older
people in a nursing home. Elder Lee looked at me and said "Elder Smith
I thought you were exaggerating, but this is insane". Within 30ish
minutes we had 3 people contact us AND got water ice! Sounds like a
high score to me.

We had a couple other good lessons this week, one with a recent
convert named Emmanuel where we did some family history and found like
10 names which is insane because Africans don't really keep records of
their ancestors! We had a couple good lessons with Jamie and Edwina
and they came to church this week! It's gonna be a process, but I'm
sure that they will be baptized soon. On Sunday, after church, the
other elders in the ward were taking a recent converts family to see
the temple grounds. Amber has a cool story, she moved to Hawaii a
couple years ago and as she was moving in with no help, her wonderful
LDS neighbors requested the missionaries to come by and help them move
in. Out of nowhere there was multiple sets on missionaries helping
Amber and they moved her in in no time. Since then she had been going
to church and meeting with missionaries. Somehow she found herself
here in Philly and found the church. The first missionary she meets
when she walked in to the church was Elder Makuakane, who is from
Hawaii. How crazy is that? Elder Makuakane was able to baptize her a
few weeks later and Sunday we visited the temple grounds with them and
the Bills. It was amazing to see how peaceful it is, especially on
Sunday. It was so cool to sit on top on the arrival center of the
temple where you can look out over parts of Philly. Amber asked for us
to give her a blessing and we did it right there in the open air of
the city, right next to the temple and the spirit was strong. Things
in Philly didn't work out for her so she had plans to leave back to
Hawaii yesterday.

Now the temple is a strong theme because on Saturday I got to attend
the temple sealing of Jennifer and Geraldo Rosa, with 3 of their kids.
I can't even begin to describe how happy I felt. I was grinning ear to
ear the entire time, it was amazing. Jennifer and Geraldo were a
couple that me and Elder Johnson worked hard with last year to get
them married then baptized. They've grown so much and the gospel has
blessed them so much. Like I said, I can't even describe how amazing
it was, you'll just have to imagine it for yourself. I'm thankful I've
gotten to work with them because this one moment at the temple with
them seemed to make this entire 2 years worth it. Even if it's the
only thing that came from being out here, it's totally worth it.
Afterwards my old ward mission leader, George, took us out to get some
cheesesteaks afterwards, so it was like a cherry on top! See and
that's where I'd like to draw some parallels, we got out and work
tirelessly each day, sometimes thinking "why do I do this?" But we do
it for the blessings down the road. My parents probably go to the
parade to make memories because they know somehow they will enjoy it,
because we always do! Even if the floats aren't that great or us
missionaries get rejected we can laugh and find good in the moment and
look towards the blessings in the future. Yesterday we went out and
"blitzed" the area around the temple as a district. Our goal was to
get people to come have a tour of the chapel across the way from the
temple. The other zone had 2 in 4 hours so we weren't optimistic at
all, but we made it a competition between the companionships to have
fun and immediately saw Blessings. All 4 companionships had a tour
within 5 minutes. 18 total tours in about 3 hours! I'm thankful for
these wonderful experiences and I'm thankful for the hard times that
make us appreciate the good and the hard times that we make fun. Hope
your 4th of July is wonderful, we are going to make sure this is a
memorable one here in the city where freedom started!

1) exchanges with Elder Lee and Elder Tawiah
2) Jenn and Geraldo's baptism in March of 2015
3) The Rosa's sealing!
4) when your in the city there's no grass quite like the temple grass
5) much too hot of a day for suits...
6) cheesesteaks after the sealing
7) slurpee's after our temple blitz

Wuder Ice

June 26, 2017

Yes I've slacked off on sending this off earlier, it's honestly
getting tougher to write these things! Tonight we should be getting
fed chicken wings so I'm mad pumped! Overall we had a pretty fun week.
At the beginning of the week I went on exchange with Elder Fowers in
my area. We ran around all day dropping by investigators and talking
to people. We grabbed some water ice and ate at my favorite Thai
restaurant. It's super well known that Elder Fowers loves milkshakes
so we went on a run to buy some, we figured we could burn the calories
before we drank it! We also had golden Retraining this week. Those
meeting are always pretty awesome! We snagged some Freddy's afterwards
which I love because they have fry sauce! We taught one of our less
actives Vafa, who invited her friend over to meet with us, how cool is
that? One of my favorite guys here, Emmanuel, invited us over to teach
him how to do family home evening with his 3 kids and next week they
are going to take charge of it! A pretty solid family in the ward
moved to Alaska, so we helped them pack up a moving truck with the
entire ward haha it was the most supported move I've ever seen! All is
good here, I think I hit 22 months this week or something like that. I
can't believe how fast that all went, and I'm sure the next two are
gonna go the quickest! Next week our pday is on the 4th of July, so
I'll be emailing on Tuesday! I love you all, have a good week!

1) eating Thai food with Elder Fowers
2) dude was sellin turtles on the street hahaha
3) $1 water ice!!!

"If anyone tells you that you have a big mouth, tell them your dentist says it's not true"

June 19, 2017

Today marks exactly 22 months since I left home, can you believe it?
I've been doing this for a long time but it's gone by so much quicker
than I'd imagined! Last week for pday all the elders got together at
the fields with a Elder and Sister Bills for some football and rugby!
Sister Bills scored a few touchdowns to beat our team, MVP status.
This week we helped some members in South Philly pack up all of their
stuff in a moving van to head out to Utah. They told the South Philly
elders to get as many elders to come as they could and they would buy
us all pizza. Not only was it super good pizza, but it was fun to be
out workin hard with the zone. I also finally decided to get my teeth
fixed after procrastinating for the past year and man did it remind me
that I still need my mom. The receptionist told me the pricing of the
procedures and asked if I had the money to pay for it. After giving
her a long blank stare I said "can you call my mom?" Even though I've
been living on my own for so long, I still can't do it all on my own
haha. I forgot how strong the effect of the numbing is for me, I
couldn't feel my face for like 4 or 5 hours and couldn't keep my eyes
open once I left the office. Just giving me a taste of real life! To
make it even worse they put a temporary cap on my tooth for a few
weeks and as I was enjoying some banana bars yesterday I realized the
banana bars weren't the only thing I swallowed... looks like another
trip to the dentist this week:/

We had a wonderful mission conference this week where Elder Kopischke
of the seventy came and spoke to us. He's from Germany, and other than
that I don't know much else about him but that's okay because he's a
cool guy! The first half of his training didn't catch my attention,
but the second half was super good!! He talked about working with the
members and pretty much did a Q&A. Too bad my P1 problems are
completely different than any other areas problems. It's crazy to
think that I only have one of those left. After the conference I
brought Elder Makuakane on exchange with me to P1. It's always a blast
to have that kid around. We got in contact with a few recent converts
we haven't seen in a while so I was super pumped about that! They all
came to church too! As well as a less active we started working with a
month ago. Vafa hasn't been active since she was in young women's so
it was great to see her there! Kinda a side story that my parents
would appreciate, when we went shopping Elder Lee grabbed a bunch of
stuff that would be easy for him to make and eat because he can't
cook. When we got home he showed me all the things he got, one of
which was frozen waffles. Now let me explain that all throughout
elementary school, junior high and sometimes even high school I ate
frozen waffles for breakfast the majority of the time, but I never put
syrup on them, just butter. It's like a ramped up version of toast for
me and it's amazing. All day I was thinking about those frozen waffles
elder lee bought because I haven't had one my entire mission. That
same day our A/C went out so I couldn't sleep at all. Around 1 o'clock
after falling asleep and waking up a billion times I got up and made
myself a waffle... and now I can't stop eating them. Hope it was a
wonderful Father's Day!! Love you guys.

1) pday with the squad