Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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

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