Sunday, March 24, 2013

"One of the great discoveries in life is finding a dependable person."

Happy Easter

Dear Family and Friends,
Hey! Hey! Hey!  How's it going everybody?  What's new?  If so, just let me know.  It was great to hear from you all this week.  It's the start of a new semester, and the last for this school year.  Hey Spencer, keep it up, work hard, and have fun this last semester as a high school student cause it's the last one you'll get.  Well, this week was absolutely wonderful.  Elder Thorpe and I just had a blast, having so much fun, and getting the work done here in Puli.
This week the entire mission had some training on how we can better allow the Spirit to teach in our lessons.  Yup, that training paid off!  It was really good, and Elder Thorpe and I had quite a few experiences where the Spirit was absolutely strong throughout the lessons, and was the TRUE and ULTIMATE teacher.  One in particular was with a man named Wang Ping Guo.  I ran into him a few days beforehand, had actually sat with him once.  We brought him to our church, gave him a tour, and the just began conversing with him.  After he was comfortable with the everything we were able to find out what he absolutely needed at the time.  Without going into too much, he has had lots of troubles and things in his life that just bring a lot of stress into his life and he just wishes that he could know how to handle each of them.  The Spirit was super strong and was able to guide my companion and I on what to teach and preach.  We shared with him Mosiah 4:9 which teaches us to believe in God.  We were able to teach that God has all wisdom, and is willing to part us all with some of that knowledge, and that that knowledge comes from diligently prayer and search from the scriptures.  He has humbled and as he prayed at the end, the Spirit was super super strong.  This was a testimony builder for me that the Spirit is the true teacher.  We were truly lead and guided through that lesson, and the other lessons we had this past week.  Super great experience.
Other than that we have been able to work with a part-member family.  We have been working with a 7 year old girl named Liu Pin Yu, cutest little girl you'll ever see!  Since her parents aren't members, but her grandma is, we have been teaching her the lessons and she is just truly amazing, and adorable!  We are looking forward to her baptism here in two weeks on April 6, which is a super great day to get baptized!  We're excited about that.
Well, it was a great week!  Had many learning experiences during my studies and out on the street preaching the gospel.  One thing in particular that I learned was when Alma the Younger had his encounter with the angel of the Lord.  He talks about how was redeemed of the Lord, and was born of the Spirit.  He had a change of heart, was changed from a carnal state to a state of righteousness, and became a new creature.  We, all like Alma, can become new, better people, having a change of heart because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  What a great feeling!  Through Christ we can all become better than the person we were the day before.  I'm grateful for that knowledge and know that it is true.  I know Christ is indeed our Savior and Redeemer.  I hope that you all can continue to have that motivation to change and become better than who you were the day before.  I love you all and can't wait to hear from you all next week!  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Today is the Day I Proclaim what I Believe!

Transfer Day is always bittersweet!
Family and Friends,

How's it going everybody?  You all holding up alright?  Everything is going just great here in Puli, and I'm enjoying my time with him.  He's been in the field for about 5 months-ish and is super awesome, and super funny!  We're getting along just fine and so is the work here.  This week was great and so lets just jump right on in.
So, Monday was the first day my companion and I had together to hit the streets.  We visited with a WONDERFUL family (dad's name is Wang De Fu) and yeah.  The dad is a cop and his family is Catholic and so he was a bit apprehensive about meeting with us in the first place.  As we taught him, my companion and I focused on how God has given us His gospel so we can know how we can return to live in His presence and live eternally with his families.  This part of the lesson really stuck out to him, but then he kind of zoned out as we moved on with the rest.  Super sad and we thought as if that was our only chance with this family.  However, at the end of the lesson wife and kids came on home, the kids ran in the door and after a few minutes the wife and kids just loved us and actually asked when we were coming back again.  We're going back on over tomorrow night to visit with the whole family so we're hoping that all goes well!
Tuesday was probably the hardest day of my entire mission.  Why?  Well, my companions bike hadn't arrived yet, because my bike got stolen I'm using the apartment spare, and so we walked the entire day.  I truly admire those missionaries who walk all day cause it is rough on the knees.  Despite that fact, we had a really good day, and had a great lesson with a family in the ward.  There son turns 12 in the next week or two and so we began working with the branch to help him prepare to receive the priesthood.  The best part about it was his less active father was able to help join the lesson and help teach and prepare him to receive the priesthood.  Great experience.
Thursday we visited with the Xu family and had a great lesson with them.  Xu Jia Xiang is the only one who hasn't been baptized yet, and so we've been focusing our efforts on him.  He is almost 12 years old and absolutely loves sports, especially basketball.  Before I got my new companion we visited with them and talked about playing on God's ball team.  While playing you can't do it on your own or else you will lose.  You need the help from other teammates, and we laid out the players on God's ball team.  Through daily practice (reading scriptures, praying as a family, and coming to church) we can work well with our other players and have a chance to win the championship (returning to live with God as families).  This week we focused on one of the most important players, and that is Christ.  We watched a portion from The Testament and talked about it.  Each family member, starting with Jia Xiang, all mentioned that there was a feeling that they couldn't describe as they watched it.  It was incredible to help him receive that witness from the Spirit, and as we continue to work with him to help him recognize it more.  His desire for learning has gradually been growing including that desire to be baptized.  He's a great kid and look forward to what comes up next.  
Overall, this past week with Elder Thorpe has been awesome!  It was great to work with him this first week and to see and feel many things happen.  This week I was able to see the truthfulness that comes doing the small and simple things.  We had a few experiences where we were able to help investigators recognize the feelings that come from the Holy Ghost.  They all felt the Spirit, but when describing those feelings to us, they weren't able to.  One individual in particular expressed to me that as we prayed, she had this feeling in her heart that felt like the sun was shining on her.  She felt a warmness in her heart, but wasn't sure what it meant.  I'm glad I was able to bear witness of the Holy Ghost, and the role it has in learning and testifying of truth.  My personal testimony was strengthened and I know that God truly does love us and sends His Spirit down lead and guide us in our mortal journey here on earth.  I'm grateful for this spiritual GPS in my life.  I love you all, and will talk to you all next week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Building Upon the Foundation of Christ

New comp, Elder Thorpe
Hey hey hey!
How's it going?  How you all doing this fine day?  Things are going great here in Puli and have some sad and some good news.  Sad news is that Elder Shang, my first Taiwanese companion has moved away, but the good news is that I have a new white companion, Elder Thorpe.  He is from Draper and I love him already.  Things have started off great within the few hours we've been together.  So this past week was full of great learning and spiritual experiences, and today I'll share one of them with you.This past Thursday we were able to visit with a less active family, the Lin Family, and actually visited with the son last week.  So we began off by seeing how much the son remembered when he was in primary.  He didn't remember much at the start but we were able to bring some stories and primary songs to his remembrance.  One we shared with them was about the wise man building his house upon the rock.  One scripture I truly love is Helaman 5:12, where it teaches us that as we build upon the foundation of Christ, the temptations of the devil will have no effect over us.  The mother added a few insights and then brought up Lehi's dream, and stated  that she remembers this most.  We continued to share about these two topics, and as we finished off the lesson we sang together "Families Can Be Together Forever."  During the end of singing I noticed that the mother stopped singing and I watched her closely until we finished.  As she lifted up her head, tears were streaming down her face and her hands began to tremble as she tried to cover them.  She had felt something she hadn't felt in a long long time, and it was the Spirit that had touched her heart.  As we rode home I began pondering upon what had happened and the things I had learned from that experience.  Eternal families is the hope we all have, and that by "small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6).  As we do the those small and simple things in our life--read and pray daily as individuals/families, go to church, hold FHE, live and keep commandments, etc.--that we build upon the foundation of Christ and get a firmer grip on the iron rod.  It is absolutely crucial that we keep this eternal goal in mind, and do the necessary daily things to attain it.  I personally am grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for the example he set for us all.  I know that He loves us all and it is because of this love that He was willing to atone for all mankind.  I know it is as we follow his footsteps, his example, that we can experience true joy and and happiness in our mortal journey.  I know that through the scriptures we can study eternal truths helping us build upon the rock of our Redeemer, and hold more firmly to the iron rod.  I know that as we continue to endure on this path, holding firmly to the rod, that we can obtain a fullness of joy with our loved ones in the presence of our Heavenly Father.  I love you all and hope you all can do those things necessary to enjoy this eternal joy.  Til next week!   

Monday, March 4, 2013

Turning 21!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hey everybody!
How's it going?  How's everyone doing?  Hope things are going alright in cold, cold, Utah.  Well, it's official, I'm now 21!  Doesn't feel like it, but that's ok.  I'm now one year older, and I hope a bit wiser than I was last year.  I had a great time celebrating my birthday, and even there wasn't any ice cream cake I did the best I could (see attached photo).  Thanks for all the birthday wishes and for all your support!  Well, enough of that, let's get on with this past week.  
The week started off pretty good!  Monday night my companion and I held a family home evening activity for our branch.  The outcome wasn't what we expected, but we still had a great time.  We were able to help those individuals, including a few investigators, see how this time together as a family can truly strengthen relationships.  One of our investigators, Brother Chen Huan Wen, mentioned with the entire group that when he gets married he is going to hold FHE because he felt and knew that the time spent as families is limited and as we spend this time together, families will learn, grow, and become more united.  Although it wasn't quite what we expected, the impact it had on those that attended was quite fascinating.  It brought back memories of all the family home evening's that my family and I held in the past.  At that time I sometimes felt that it was boring and that there were friends that I could be hanging out with, or other things that I could do that were better, but I'm grateful for the time my family set aside to hold FHE.  Looking back I have seen the blessings that holding FHE weekly has brought to my family and me, and how it has strengthened the bonds within our family.  Such a great blessing to share with all those who were in attendance at our activity.
One of my favorite things that happened this week was when we visited with a ward member, Brother Luo.  He and his wife have been sick lately and for that reason haven't been able to come to church, and so we went and visited them to strengthen them.  In return I learned quite a bit from his remarks.  He talked to us about hope and how maintaining that hope and never losing hold of it is important in each of our lives.  It reminded me of the tree in Lehi's dream.  Lehi beheld the tree and the fruit that was desirable to make one happy.  He then went forth and partook of it and was filled with great joy.  He then desired that his family could partake of it.  He had this hope and didn't lose sight of it.  It really made me think a lot on my own hopes as a servant of the Lord, and how I can help investigators have similar hopes.  The tricky part is the buildings and other influences in Lehi's dream that cause us to lose sight of that hope.   However, as we hold onto the iron rod, keeping our eye focused on that hope and not losing sight of it, we can and will obtain eternal blessings.  I was grateful for what he shared and we all were truly edified.     
Well, just wanted to thank you all for all the support you have given my family and I these past two years.  It truly is felt over here :)
Love you all!
Elder Nick Smith