Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MTC: Week #3

Love the gold tie!
Helly everyone!
How's it going for ya'll? Hope everything is going just fine.  Happy Birthday Dad! I'm forgetting how old you are...what is it now...40? haha! Anyway this week has been super fun and has gone by so quickly.  Last Tuesday, Elder Russell M. Nelson came and spoke to us at the devotional.  I forget what he said to us, but I wrote it down in my journal.  Nothing out of the ordinary happened this week.  I've just been working with the language, which is slowly coming along.  Along with being able to pray, and bear my testimony, I can now teach the basics of the first three discussions and a few other things like teach someone to pray, asking them to turn and read certain scriptures, and a few other things that I can't remember at the moment.  We got two new "fake investigators" (our teachers Brother Prier and Brother Barton).  Both of them have taken on the role of being Buddhist or Yiguandao?  We haven't been able to commit them to anything really because we have been teaching them too long haha.  Me and Elder Boice need to work on not talking as much.  On Sunday, Stephen B. Allen came and talked to us and emphasized the point that we need to ALWAYS stay with our companion. 
This week one of the sister missionaries in my zone was feeling super sick.  We decided to have a zone prayer for her.  The room was filled with about 40 Elders and the spirit was so strong in there.  Afterwards, my buddy Elder Kirklin came into my room and said he had been prompted to tell me something else.  He felt he needed to tell my that "When we are and strive to be worthy, we as Melchizedek Priesthood holders can call on the powers of heaven to send down angels to bless the lives of others."  The spirit there was so strong that it made him cry and almost made me cry.  And remember, I don't cry!  I feel that there is a reason that Elder Kirklin has been prompted to tell me these spiritual insights. 
Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful last week of school.  As I walked outside the temple this morning I saw the beautiful blue sky and the Utah Lake right underneath it.  Oh how I wish I could spend just one minute out there.  But two years will go by real fast and then I'll have the entire summer to spend there.  Dad, Happy Birthday again! Hope you got everything you wanted, and I hope the ice cream cake was delicious.  I promised the Elders in my district that if I had any soda, or candy (unless I receive it in a package) then I'll have to do 100  PERFECT pushups.  Yesterday, I was tempted by a little ice cream popsicle and so I told my district they can expect 100 pushups from me.  And yes I did them all.  Gym keeps me from getting too fat.  I eat enough and then run it all off playing basketball.  
Love you all!  Zai jian wo de jiating (sorry there aren't any tones but it says "good-bye my family"), Elder Nick Smith

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MTC: Week #2

With Grandpa Smith the Day I left!
Dear Family and Friends,

So about my week. So last Tuesday after I wrote you, we went to the devotional where Richard G. Hinckley spoke. It was so amazing! It inspired me to work my hardest with the language and with the gospel. Afterwards my zone got together and made some goals to help us to improve as a zone. Wednesday I began reading Jesus the Christ. I have never loved reading before, but I cannot put this book down. It is that good! So we have gradually gotten further and further with our "investigator", and I think it was our 5th lesson that we were about to commit him to baptism but were interrupted because we had to go get chest x-rays. When we were there, the guy who x-rayed us wanted all my roommates/companions to bear our testimonies. It was so powerful and the spirit definately was there.
Later that night I had an awesome experience. We were teaching each other. And one of the Elder's stumped me with a question. I was searching through my mind to find an answer for him, but I just couldn't. My teacher was watching and told me to pray for help. Immediately after, I had the perfect response to him. We continued talking when he stumped me again. Same situation happened. I searched through my mind until I remembered to pray again. I immediately received an answer. I know prayer is real and that Heavenly Father listens to our prayers in every situation. Lately I have been slacking off with the language and not improving and I've suffered through some lessons with it. One of my good missionary buddies that I met here was saying a prayer one night when he had the prompting to tell me this saying, "When you are working your butt off, that's when the Lord blesses you. Why would you want to pay an employee that doesn't deserve his wages?" This was another testimony to me that the Lord does answer our prayers, and he works through other individuals.Now that I've summarized my week, I need to tell you some things. I would really like my friends mission addresses. If you could get those, from facebook or something, I would love that! Um, if you send packages, DO NOT send junk food. I've gained 5 pounds while i've been here and I need to start losing it. I only ate junk food the first two days but haven't since. Also, I have only had caffeine twice and I am off of it the rest of the time. 
I got a haircut today, yeah, it got butchered!!! I have never had my hair so short. One more thing, this is totally off the mission topic, I need you to start watching the Bachelor. Elder Taylor Larsen's cousin is on it. His name is Bentley Williams. Elder Larsen was telling me all about it today. He told me his friend put in info about him and so that's how he got on the show. He soon realized he didn't want to be on it anymore and so he told the producer he was leaving. They then made it seem like he swore on the tv show and made it all dramatic, but that is the reason why. So watch it!! Well I love you all and want to hear more from ALL of you. Wo ai nimen! Elder Nick Smith

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MTC: Week #1

My Tag -- I'm Official Now!
Hi Family and Friends,
So this first week at the MTC has been so much fun, but it has gone by so slow. When I got dropped off I was greeted by one of my good college buddies Connor Dehlin. I then went and picked up my new nametag and all my chinese missionary supplies. Dad, don't worry about sending me the Book of Mormon with the chinese characters, pinyin, and english. They gave me one. So, far I have learned to pray, bear my testimony, and teach investigators in chinese, however, I do struggle with it...a lot.
On Sunday, President Samuelson from BYU came and spoke to us about spiritual gifts and the ministering of angels. I learned quite a bit, even though I gave the same topic at my mission farewell.
So about teaching our MTC investigator. We have met with our fake investigator three times already. The first time, we were somewhat nervous. We had no clue what to teach. We ended up teaching him about our Heavenly Father and about the Book of Mormon. He committed to continue reading the Book of Mormon, but told us that he wouldn't pray.
Our second visit we decided to talk about the importance of prayer. Afterwards he told us he liked reading the Book of Mormon, but felt weird praying to God. We didn't know what to do, and because we don't understand the language, it made it so much harder to answer his questions. We ended up leaving (haha), which probably wasn't very good.
Our third visit, we decided to talk about Jesus Christ, the apostasy, and the restoration. He told us he knew the Book of Mormon was true, he just wouldn't pray about it. He said he gets weird feelings praying and he feels he is just talking to himself.
So during our next visit we are going to be asking him questions on how he feels and why he feels that way. Just so we can get some insight on him and hopefully teach him the proper way to pray. Even though he is just a fake investigator, it is teaching me that we need to understand the needs of our investigator instead of just teaching him a lesson and going on our way.
Today, Tuesday, is my P-day. We started it off by going to the temple at 5:30 a.m. That is too early for me. The best part about it, besides the wonderful work we were doing, was the temple food. I got an amazing omelet, bacon, and hashbrowns. It was amazing! The food here at the MTC is terrible. It gives everyone bad gas. Our classroom constantly smells haha.
Anyway, I had the wonderful opportunity to go out of MTC grounds. My companion had to go get some shots at the BYU Health Center, so I got to leave with him. I felt like I was back at school with all my buddies. I was even tempted to go down the street a bit and say HI to my friends at BYU, but I didn't. One thing I need to mention . . . About Sunday walks— my Branch President warned us that they may not let us go on the walks anymore because too many visitors have been meeting up with missionaries. If you do come, all I can do is say hello, shake your hand, and then say goodbye. Sorry if you were thinking about doing that!
So about my district and my companion. I would first like to say that I was called to be District Leader. Pretty exciting! It's really not that hard, I just have to go to an extra meeting or two. My companion, Elder Boice, is a pretty cool guy. He is Japanese and we have gotten along so far! My other roommates are pretty cool. Elder Larsen is the one who Uncle Rob introduced my to, and so we have gotten along pretty well so far. Elder Haag is my other roommate and seems like a really nice kid. The other Elders in my district are Elder Morgan, Elder Moore, Elder Clawson, and Elder Rosen. Elder Morgan reminds me of Hayden Blackburn, a lot! He is constantly making jokes, making people laugh, and bouncing off the walls. Elder Morgan is way sweet too. He is from Washington and apparently knew Sam Johnson while they went to BYU Hawaii. From what I hear, he is an amazing wakeboarder. He is talking about doing all these cool, amazing tricks. I'm sure he'll go pro one day. Elder Clawson actually went to Davis High School. Elder Rosen, his companion, is from Sweden, which is way cool. He is a way chill kid and pretty much knows Chinese already. He is way shy though. So far, my district has gotten a long really well with each other.
Some things I will need you to do: first, whatever you do, DON'T send me emails. I can only check them once a week and won't have time to read all the emails. SEND ME letters from dearelder.com. It will make things so much easier. When you do send me a package (and please send me one soon) make sure you pack that temperpic pillow (my neck is always sore in the morning), new contacts (because my left one split in the middle on sunday), mints NOT gum (my mission president here said no gum), and tell people (my friends, ESPECIALLY girls) to write me letters or send them from dearelder.com. Also go through my email and send me all my friends letters. I want hear from them. Love you all, Elder Smith (Sima Zhanglao)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MTC DROP-OFF: Bye Bye for 2 Years

Hi, I'm Elder Smith
I'm gaggin' excited!

Family at Provo Temple just before MTC Drop-off

Favorite cousin Tessa!

Here's my best SMILE!

Shall we go?!

Yeah, I'm ready . . . 

Just need a companion!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Farewell Day

My farewell was held, May 8, 2011 (also Mother's Day) 
at 1 p.m. in the Chase Lane Ward:

Sacrament Meeting
Bishop Maury Flake

Bishop Maury Flake 
Tamara Kirkham
Ruth Blair
Opening Hymn:
The Day Dawn is Breaking, Hymn 52

Emily Utley
Sacrament Hymn:
There Is a Green Hill, Hymn 194

Administration of the Sacrament

Joanne Day, Salt Lake Inner City Mission
Mark Day, Salt Lake Inner City Mission
Musical Number:
Lead Kindly Light by Patrice Cox
Nick Smith, Taiwan Taichung Mission
Closing Hymn:
Onward, Christian Soldiers, Hymn 246

Gabe Utley

Me and My lifelong friends

Kohkonen cousins

How did Spencer and not me get in this shot with Jessica and Rachel? 

Soccer Buddies


With Bangerter Family -- former Bishop and my Priest Quorum President

With cousin Brandon and his fiance Amanda