Monday, November 2, 2015

Heading off into the sunset!

Well this is it. I can't believe it but it is coming to an end. I just need to finish packing, say some goodbyes, have dinner with Elder and Sister Horne (the senior couple) and then on wednesday I fly to Barbados for my final interview with President and then on thursday I hop on the big plane for a big transfer. Crazy! I have a lot going through my mind right now and I am going to try to use the next little bit to share all of them! If it's a little scattered please just bear with me!
These last 27 months have changed my life so much! I can't believe they are over. I have gotten to know some of the most incredible people in the entire world! I truly love the west indian people! They are absolutely incredible! They are so happy. I am going to miss that so much! I have learned from them that it isn't so much about what we don't have but focusing more on what we do have. I am going to miss that. 
I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It is there to help us come closer to Jesus Christ. We just need to use the keystone to get closer to the cornerstone. I have said this before but I know that there is peace just waiting inside of those pages.
I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet and that he was the instrument used to restore Jesus Christ's church. I know that the church is still divinely led and that the Lord is still the head of it. I know that Thomas S Monson is a Prophet and is called by God to help guide the church here.
I have also been able to see how much our Heavenly Father really knows us. To be completely honest when I came home for knee surgery, I didn't know why this was all happening and whether I would be able to make it back out. It was still one of the hardest moments of my entire life. I questioned a lot of things. I struggled a lot! But I learned that Heavenly Father puts amazing people in your life for a reason. Now I'd like to highlight a few of those. The first is obviously my mother. I have to agree 100% with Elder Holland when he said at this last conference, "No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child." During those 3 tough months and the rest of my mission my mom continued to carry me and support me. I love my Mom and I am so grateful for her and her love. I also am grateful for my Dad. Those 3 months were some of the closest moments for me and my Dad. He helped me so much with just being patient and working through it. I also had some great talks with him during that time as well. I also had some other wonderful family members and friends that were there that helped me to make it through it. But due to time I can't go into any more specifics. I guess the bottom line is though, I know that Heavenly Father truly does love us and He puts great people in our path to help us along the way! i know that!
I am also a witness of the scriptural promise, "Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." I know that is true. I may not have been the best at it over the last few years but I've tried! Ha and I've noticed that as we don't worry so much about what we want and we allow ourselves to follow the Savior and worry more about what He wants then the power will come into our lives! Then we will find the true purpose of our lives! If you want to know why you are here then forget yourself and try to help somebody else! I know that as you do that you will find yourself! Elder Christofferson once said, “Not only do we ‘find’ ourselves in terms of acknowledging divine guidance in our lives, but the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. … We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to ‘find’ ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!”
I know that our Heavenly Father answers our prayers. He loves us. I don't know why we sometimes forget this simple truth so much! It kills me! However it is something that I have also struggled with. But as I have gone throughout all of these things that were at times very hard I've realized that we really do matter to Him. He cares about us in a very special way. I hope that I will never forget that. If we will let Him, He will bless us more than we can possibly imagine. But we just have to let Him.
The greatest piece of knowledge that I have gained from my mission and the greatest friendship that I have made is definitely my friendship with my Savior. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I know that He loves us. I know that He can change us and transform us. Before we know it we will be on our way to becoming like Him. I heard a quote that goes something like this, "A life touched by Christ's grace will eventually begin to look like Christ's life." And that is the whole point! We are here to become like Him! And through the Atonement and Christ's "Amazing Grace" it is possible. I have to say that my favorite part of my mission has been seeing the Atonement change people. I think of these people that I have taught and a lot of them were in so deep. They were spiritually drowning. But as we came by and were able to help them access the blessing of Christ's Atonement, little by little they were changed and they were able to breathe. Were there setbacks and disappointment along the way? Absolutely. But they kept trying and kept working at it until the change came. I know that His grace is sufficient to change us until one day we will become exactly who He wants us to become.
I can't believe that "the best two years" are over. I have been blessed more than I could've ever imagined. I am going to miss it. It's time for a next chapter though and I am very excited. It is simply time to move on. I can't wait to see all of you! So to paraphrase the old Michael Buble song. "It will all be alright. I'll be home thursday night. I'm coming back home." I love you! I'll see you thursday!
With Love,
Elder Smith

Monday, October 26, 2015

Is your glass full or empty?

It's getting really crazy now! I have just been getting things worked out a lot lately for the next transfer and it is just weird to think that I won't be here for it! There are going to be some big changes here in St. Lucia and as the ZL it's my job to get everybody ready for them! I hope I can do alright with that! 
This week was good but pretty busy! We had 2 baptisms in the zone on saturday and so we went to both of those and I said some goodbyes to some of the members down there in Vieux fort that I got to know a little bit. It was good!
Another highlight of this week was when we took the sacrament to Brother and Sister Joseph. Sister Joe is bedridden due to a stroke that she got 8 days after they were sealed in the temple in the Dominican Republic. They have remained extremely faithful since then. Brother Joe is the Elders Quorum President and never misses. If Sister Joe has a day that she isn't feeling well and Brother Joe wants to stay home with her, Sister Joe will make him go for at least sacrament. Over the last couple months we have been taking the sacrament over to sister Joe and it has been one of the most spiritual events of my entire mission. You walk in and you are just engulfed by the spirit! It is so strong there. They have such a great love for the Lord and you can just feel it. I want my home to be like that when I am older.
Something that I have also learned over the course of my mission was how important family is. I have seen that from so many different people in so many different family situations. Now I've seen positive and negative but we'll focus on the positive. I have seen so many families who just cling to each other because that simply is all that they have to cling to. And they are so happy. It reminds me of something that Uncle Boyd said once, “Sometimes in my growing years I thought we were poor, I later learned that that was not true. We just didn’t have any money. We were always rich in the things most significant in our lives.” They may not have any money or worldly possessions but they have the things that matter! Each other. I have become so grateful for my family over the last couple of years. I love them. I cannot wait to see them again. I'm hoping that I don't cry at the airport. That would be terribly embarrassing! Ha but in all reality that is one of my favorite souvenirs from my mission! I love my family! Family is truly where the real happiness is!
Something else that I experienced this week was as I was getting ready to take the sacrament and figuring out how I was going to do better next week I was really stressed because things weren't running very smoothly in the branch. So that distracted my thoughts a little and then as I was praying I asked, "Why is it so crazy here sometimes?" In a very direct way a thought popped into my mind, "Randon, maybe instead of focusing on what's going wrong. Try focusing on what's going right." That taught me a lot. There were so many things going right but I was just so focused on other things that I missed it. I know many times we get so stressed about things and worried about what is going wrong that we don't slow down to look around and see what is actually going right. I can promise that if we will do this it will bring so much more joy in our lives. No matter what is going on in our lives. Slow down and ask yourself, "Is my glass half full or empty?" It will help! And always remember "when upon life's billows you are tempest tossed. When you are discouraged thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done." I know that! I love you all! Have a great week! 
With Love,
Elder Smith

Included in these pictures: Trade off with Elder Dixon at a beach by Donavan's house! i got to be a witness at a baptism! Last time in the water! With my boi Dannus down in Vieux Fort. Had to say goodbye! Suit saturday! P-day Eve! Visiting Brother and Sister Joe! Hope you like them!

Monday, October 19, 2015

"He won't be here in two weeks!"

Finally caught up, this is today, Oct. 19, 2015

I got the subject line from President Herrington when he visited this weekend. As we were talking with members of the branch and he was talking about how missionaries come and go he kept pointing at me and saying, now he won't be here in two weeks! Ha it was so funny. He kept reminding me! It's not like I ever think about it or anything! ;) Ha but it really has been hitting me that I "won't be here in two weeks!" ish. ha it's weird! I am just trying to get a new ZL, Elder Moli trained up a little and then I am going to be riding off into the sunset!
Things are going really well here though! Our member work has been phenomenal and I am so excited about it! Odelllia went to go teach her neighbor, Alma with us and it went really well! She is really open! It was so cool to teach with one of my recent converts! She was so excited about it! We are going to try to meet with Alma again tonight! Things are going great there!
Also we have been working with Sara a little bit and this is actually a really cool story! She became friends with a lady named Tessa and one day she got talking with Tessa about the church and it turns out that Tessa is a member! She got baptized 16 years ago in Canada and before she talked to Sara she had been thinking how she really needed to go back to church. Then Sara introduced us to her and we started meeting with her! She is really cool and has an 11 year old that she wants to get baptized! Crazy! Member work is really working miracles for us right now! I am loving it!
Well I am still sprinting! My endurance is paying off right now! I just hope that I can continue to endure well! I love you all and hope you all have a great week!
With Love,
Elder Smith

"Our ability to endure to the end in righteousness will be in direct proportion to the strength of our testimony and the depth of our conversion."
Richard J Maynes

We had a birthday party for Elder Stephens today! Here are some pics! Sorry about no Pday eve pics. I can't find them on my camera... Maybe next week! 

Time's running out!

The date on this email is October 12, 2015

This week was another pretty good week! We had a lot of really good lesson's with some members and we have been really trying to prepare them to go and teach and it has been really great! They are really excited about it! Odellia is so ready and excited to share the gospel! It has actually been really cool to work with her and to see her excitement about the gospel grow! I've really enjoyed that! The church is true!
We had some disappointments this week though. We had to drop Terry and Victoria because they just wouldn't come to church. That was really hard... Also Alfred still hasn't had his surgery and so he can't get baptized because he can't really leave his house because of his sickness. So that has been really hard as well. To be honest it has been a little bit troubling. I have wanted nothing more than to just go out with a bang and now we don't have any baptismal possibilities before I go home. I have been pretty upset about it! I've even voiced my opinion in my prayers a couple times! Only to be chastened a little and to realize something that I really should've learned a long time ago. That is that sometimes it isn't all about me. Maybe Heavenly Father has a different plan for Alfred and some other missionary needs to be blessed with the opportunity to baptize him. And as far as Terry goes, I learned that as hard as it is for me, it's probably a lot harder for Him to see His children not progress. His children that He has done absolutely everything for and provided every opportunity for and they still won't come. This week I got to see in a very small sense the way God sees and the way He feels. And through all this I came to realize that maybe i should think about that a little bit more. That these are His children. And He loves them too. To say I have been spoiled over the last couple years probably wouldn't be the best way to put I have sure been blessed. The Lord has taken care of me so much and if this is the way it's got to all go down at the end then so be it I guess. I am so grateful for the lesson I am learning right now. We are going to keep working and this area will continue to progress and grow. I know that. This is the Lord's work and He is hastening it. I am so grateful that I have been able to experience that over the last couple of years. I love the Lord. He has been so good to me. I love His work! I just gotta keep running and then turn the page. I'm also always going to remember that the Lord knows best. I love you all! Have a great week!
With Love,
Elder Smith

ps I loved this thought and thought I would share it!
"I had done everything I had been taught to do. We had prayed and received a strong impression to select this doctor. We had fasted and prayed and felt certain that our infant son would be healed through faith and through the power of the priesthood. Yet the Lord had not intervened. Our faith it seems had been no more than vain hope. I began to question everything I had ever believed. As I walked, I felt betrayed and angry. I was overcome with pain.
I am not proud of the conversation I had with Heavenly Father as I walked and wept that morning. After a time, I got hold of myself emotionally. I remember the words of a children’s Primary song coming into my mind. “Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?” Because you clearly haven’t been listening to mine or maybe you just don’t really care about me and my son. (“A Child’s Prayer,” Children’s Songbook, 12.)
In that moment, a tender mercy came. In my mind and heart, I felt these words: “Kevin, he is my son too.” The clarity of the prompting was unmistakable. I realized in that moment that I had not understood the purpose of prayer at all. I had assumed that, just because I had a righteous cause, I could use the priesthood and fasting and prayer to change the will of God."
-Kevin W Pearson

As you can see I'm starting to take the diet very seriously. Also you gotta love the sign!

"I'll be at home!"--Coach Boone

Sorry, this mom is late in posting last few emails.  They are all coming now!:) The date on this one is 10-6-15

So let me explain the title of this email a little bit. First off this week was nuts! It was unbelievable! But the climax was definitely on wednesday. So let's reason about this. On wednesday I had a meeting that I skyped into from the church and it was a great meeting on the Book of Mormon! I loved it! Then we went over to Elder Dixon's new apartment and it was delicious! He prepared a great meal! Parmesan chicken that was to die for! Then it was time for me and Elder Smith to go and run some more errands and we walk out to our car and Elder Smith is like, "Dude your bag is gone. Our window is shattered and your bag is gone." I thought he was joking! So I walk up and my backpack is gone and so are my scriptures. It was nuts! So In my backpack was my study journal, preach my gospel and some pens and random stuff. Luckily I took my camera out before we left that morning. Tender mercy for sure. So those things are gone and they took my scriptures that I had since I was 8. I hope they read them. It was definitely pretty upsetting. So I guess I am going to be needing a new set when I get home. The one positive to all of this is I get to quote Remember the Titans again. This happened after someone threw a brick through coach Boone's window. He responded in an interview by saying, "You can tell whoever threw this brick through my window, 'I'll be at home!' " That was what I actually said to Elder Cox (the AP) to tell him that my car had been broken into. Ha so that basically sums up a lot of the week!
I loved conference though! It was so great! I felt the spirit so strong so many times. Particularly when the new apostles spoke. That was a strong moment for me! I tried something that I remember Elder Beck talking about whenever we taught about Prophet's he talked about how we would pray when a new one was called. I'd never done that before but I liked the thought! So I did it with the apostles. The second they opened their mouths I knew that they were called of God. The spirit hit me so hard. I also loved the talk by Elder Holland. I could just picture my mom crying as she was watching it. Ha it was very well put. I know that this really is the Lord's church. It's perfect. Absolutely flawless. I know that the Lord is still at the head of His Church and guides and directs it. So stay in old ship zion. I love you all and I hope you have a great week!
With Love,
Elder Smith

Here are some pics of the incident and our window cover we put in. Also we helped angie move so I snapped some pics of me with some stuff we moved. Also her little son at conference! Gotta love the pineapple shirt! Ha

Monday, September 28, 2015

He's in the details!

This week was really good but also pretty crazy! We were just running errands and stuff for hours! So that took up a lot of our time! Things are going really well though and the Lord still prepared people for us as we worked  Let me tell you some of those miracles. 
The other day we were trying to get some of the new missionaries a phone. As we were just waiting around and trying to figure it out this guy walks up to us with a Book of Mormon. Turns out he had just found it and started reading it and he really enjoyed it. He was a young guy and wants to make changes in his life. So we are going to see what we can do to help with that!
Another guy stopped us and asked us about the Book of Mormon. Turns out that he met with missionaries in Canada. So we are going to start meeting with him! Those are just a few that I am going to share due to my lack of time.
Terry and Victoria are really causing us a big headache because they won't come to church! I swear they are compulsive liars! They tell us every week they are going to come and make it sound so convincing and then whenever sunday comes they are nowhere to be found! They're killing me! I feel like Coach Boone in Remember the Titans when Petey keeps fumbling the football. I just want to go up to terry and be like,  Or "How many feet are in a mile? How many feet are in a mile? 5,260 feet! Now you're going to pick this ball up and run every last one of them! You're killing me Terry! You're killing me!" But the work goes on...
Alfred's surgery didn't take place but it should be this week! We are really excited about his progress! He is a really shy guy and we are doing his best to help him come out of his shell and pray and do stuff like that! the other day we had to push him a little bit but after a while (20 minutes) we were finally able to get him to say the prayer. IT was wonderful! It was so powerful and you could just tell that he was having a conversation with his Heavenly Father! It was so neat! 
Oh Odellia is back from New York and she is all ready to get going on missionary work! She missed church a lot and was happy to be back! 
Things are going well! I am enjoying serving with Elder Smith! He is a great Elder who has a lot of desire to be good! We have had some good times as well so far!
I am loving it! I have come to see how much the gospel blesses people and I have decided that I am never going to do anything to live outside of God's blessings. If we want true lasting happiness it is going to come from Him. Don't kid yourself and be deceived. Have a great weekend watching General Conference! I am so excited for that! Go with a prayer in your heart and be ready to learn! I love you all! Have a great week!
With Love,
Elder Smith

"One of the remarkable characteristics of young wild sunflowers, in addition to growing in soil that is not hospitable, is how the young flower bud follows the sun across the sky. In doing so, it receives life-sustaining energy before bursting forth in its glorious yellow color.
Like the young sunflower, when we follow the Savior of the world, the Son of God, we flourish and become glorious despite the many terrible circumstances that surround us. He truly is our light and life."
Quentin L Cook

 Here is the flyer for our Dinner and Devotional! It went great! First thing for the new missionaries right off the plane!

Me and Gordy 

 P Day eve! We were in a four man for a couple days!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Life Comes at you Fast!

Well things are getting a little crazy here in St Lucia for my last transfer! My mission has been full of surprises though so why would I expect anything less to finish it! So on Friday we got our transfer calls and Elder Dixon and I are actually going to be splitting up and he is going to be going to a new area in Castries to train a new Elder and I am going to be finishing another missionary's training. This missionaries name, Elder Smith! Ha when President told me I was just like, "Wait, what?" Ha he then assured me that I had heard correctly and said that we should make quite the team! Which in all reality I can believe! Two Smiths together has to be a good thing! There have been a lot of really great Smiths in the church. Joseph, Hyrum, Joseph F, Joseph Fielding, the list goes on and on! Ha so we'll see how this goes!
I am going to really miss serving with Elder Dixon though. Training him ( I guess it would be better to say being his first comp. He came pretty trained already.) has been such a blessing to me! He has helped me so much and i am really grateful for the friend that I have in him! I am really going to miss serving with him!
So this week Yuandia got baptized! We felt like she was good to go and so we did it! She was really happy and excited! IT was a neat experience to see her make some changes and she is recognizing some changes that she still wants to make! It's cool how the spirit works that way! We are now shifting our focus to her family as they are also pretty receptive!
Terry and Victoria have been a little frustrating lately because they won't come to church but we are just going to keep praying and keep trying!
We had some really good lessons with our boy Alfred this week as we were preparing him for his surgery that he is having today. He is so close to the spirit and the Lord. To be honest I don't know if I have seen a heart that has been so prepared for the gospel my entire mission. He is so ready. Every time we ask him if he has questions he just says, "No, I just want to get baptized." So after he is healed from the surgery we are going to make that happen! Teaching him really just shows how much this truly is the Lord's work! 
Lately I have been thinking back on my life and just some changes that have occurred over my mission in my personality and stuff, I have realized that I have made some dumb decisions at times. Maybe not dumb but not very smart. Or in other words, not very consecrated decisions. I wish I knew then what I know now and could've been like, "Is this going to bring me closer to the Lord?" I could've saved myself so much trouble if I would've thought about that before I made the decision. I should have understood the why. I am so grateful for the experience of my mission and all that it has done for me! I have grown a lot and probably been blessed by others so much more then I have blessed others. It has been a wonderful experience! I owe the Lord so much and so that's why I am going to change some of my thinking when making decisions!
Well it's crazy how fast time is winding down! Last transfer here I go! I am going to finish strong and sprint through the finish line! We still have some more saving to do! I love you all! Have a great week!
With Love,
Elder Smith

Living with real intent means understanding the “why” and being aware of the motives behind your actions. Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Ponder how you spend your time, and ask yourself regularly, “Why?” This will help you develop the ability to see beyond the moment. It’s far better to look ahead and ask yourself, “Why would I do that?” than to look back and say, “Why, oh, why did I do that?” If the only reason why is that God wants you to, that’s reason enough.
Randall L Ridd
Yuandia's Baptism

P-day Eve