Monday, October 24, 2011

Hello from Nantun!

Hello from Nantun!

It was hard to say good-bye to our lovely Sister Sorensen, but I know transfers home are important too :). I am excited to have a stellar new companion in Sister Lethco!!! Yes, I went Senior this movecall...a little scary, but we can do it! Sister Lethco is so great! We will be sure to work our hardest over here! I haven't really met her before, so I'll tell you more next week!

This week has been so amazing! We had our lovely baptisms this Saturday along with the Elder's. It went so well! They were AWESOME. So ready. It was such a great experience--the Spirit was felt by all. What was really cool is one of sister invited her husband and best friend to attend--it was so special to have their support and love at her baptism. I am so proud of her courage! We look forward to their confirmations this next Sunday as we had Stake Conference this past Sunday. I was happy Sister Sorensen could end her mission with three baptisms in her last month! Pretty great. Miss that girl!!!!!!!!!!!! Glad to hear you'll have her over for dinner.

We also have been so blessed with great progressing investigators! We are very excited to help them grow closer to their Savior by helping them discover more and more of the Gospel. With one great family we haven't met the father yet, but this week the wife said she really wants her husband to be able to hear our message too!!! So we are going to work out a time to meet with the whole family this week! Also the wife and son have committed to church this week. The son has continued to read the Book of Mormon every night before going to bed. He is awesome!

We were visiting a less active this week who gave me the COOLEST pink-jade bracelet! All the Taiwanese women wear jade braceletes, so I feel like a true Taiwanese now :). It is soo cool!!! The people are waaay too generous over here.

As for Gospel learning--loved loved loved Stake Conference!!! We had a broadcast to all of Asia! Elder Osguthorpe, Sister Ann Dibb, Elder Anothy Perkins (I know him :) ) and Elder Richard G. Scott spoke to us!!! It was AWESOME. Elder Osguthorpe's talk was inspiring and gives clear direction on how our members can be a bigger part of this grand work. Elder Richard G. Scott's talk was amazing too! I wish we had had more investigators to hear his beautiful message on the value of women. So many women we teach here so lack in confidence and self worth. I think I'll be sharing his words with quite a few people this week.

Well, kinda short on time since it was a movecall day and I "killed" my dear Sister Sorensen. Thank you all for writing!!!!!!!!!!! I loved hearing from all of you

P.S Because my companion left, we were taken to sooooooooooooooooo many meals this week. At first it was just lunch, then dinners and lunches, and then tea times and pre-dinner dinners. Well, all for now!

---Sister Brooke Smith

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I know the Book of Mormon is True!

Dear Family!

This week has been so good! There have been soo many miracles! One being our two beautiful investigators who are set on being baptized on the 22nd! It'll be a great way for Sister Sorensen to end her missionary service--and both of the investigators picked the date before they even knew Sister Sorensen was leaving the next week. I am really grateful that the Lord answers our prayers and allows us to make our goals.

One sister had a lovely lesson on tithing on Wednesday and passed her baptismal interview the next morning. She was radiant. Then Wednesday we met with a golden family-- they are so great! The eleven year old son has been reading the Book of Mormon every night since we gave one to him! We are really excited for our next appointment. They also expressed a desire to attend church after we called and shared with them our church experience. And you already know about our other investigator! She is on fire! We'd been having a hard time meeting with her outside of the Sunday meetings, but after we told her it was must if she really wanted to be baptized, she met with us every night she could! It was great! Her desire to receive the blessings of baptism is so strong---she is willing to pay the price. One of the things I will never forget about her is when we started to teach her tithing she pulled out the pamphlet, flipped open to a section and said, "This is my favorite part--can I share it with you?" And then when I started to stumble when teaching fasting she said, "My Chinese is better, I can teach you!" and proceeded to teach me the doctrine of fasting PERFECTLY! Our peike (the Relief Society Pres.) was astonished and said, "Sister Smith, you need to give her a name tag and take her with you!". It was amazing. She has such a burning desire to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost in her life that she has a hunger for spiritual knowledge. It is really amazing to see how well the Lord prepares those who diligently seek for truth. I have no doubts that she will be very instrumental in bringing back other relatives to full membership in the Lord's Church.

We also had a pretty great experience with a less active sister this week. She was baptized, along with most of her siblings, over twenty years ago, but has been less active for the last several years. It has taken cancer to help her realize that she needs to come back. It is kind of a complicated situation, but over a month and a half ago she had asked for the ward to give her the sacrament and a priesthood blessing. The ward correlator never really addressed that though, and so we finally called the Bishop. He was so great and since it was Sunday and no one in the ward was available, to send the Elders over to do that for her. They gave her the sacrament that day and then set up a separate time for a priesthood blessing since her friend wanted us to be there with her. When we came, she was so excited. She had been reading the new Book of Mormon we had given her and had so many questions! She really wants to relearn this Gospel and it is really helping her regain that Light that comes from righteous living. She also recommitted to live the Word of Wisdom. Then the Elders taught her simply and beautifully about the Priesthood. While waiting for our church to come and bless her, many of her Christian friends had had their pastors/ministers over to bless her. She said it was really nice of them, but she was waiting for our Church. It was kind of sad, because it took so long for our ward to respond, she thought God must be telling her she wasn't worthy of the sacrament or a blessing yet. So she said that she'd been trying to live her best so that she could be worthy. It made us really sad, but glad that she is working on improving. We were so grateful for the quick response from the Bishop and the Elders. The blessing was beautiful and she was very touched. She told us afterwards that she could tell the Elders struggled with Chinese, but that because it was full of love she could feel the truth of what they were saying. I love the priesthood and I am so grateful for the worthy priesthood holders in my life!! Now we have things worked out with her ward and our Relief Society President has already called her! So great!

This week I saw another miracle--I finished the Book of Mormon!!! Finally right? I took a long time, but I feel much better acquainted with it. I studied every page and the people in that book are so much more real to me now. I spent at least 15 minutes every day reading the Book of Mormon for the last nine months and it really has changed me. As I neared the end it became harder and harder to put it down! I can't wait to do it again--after I pick up a fresh copy from the Mission Home! It has really helped me help my investigators-- it is an amazing conduit to personal revelation. I know the Book of Mormon is true!

I love you all soo much!!!! Take care!!

---Sister Melissa Smith

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Charity and Service

Sunday, October 9, 2011
My Dearest Family,

Sister Sorensen and I have felt a little differently about life this week. We have been able to do some really great things--such as have our lovely friend baptized, but we also have felt a sadness about the conditions of our wards. All three are struggling in the two most important areas-- Charity and Service--which is something every ward and every person can improve on. I was rereading Sister Silvia Allred's address from last Conference---"The Essence of Discipleship" and those two things--charity and service are the crux of being a disciple of Christ. Our wards have many great members, but they have a hard time looking past their own group of friends, as many of us struggle to do. The less actives are usually less active for a reason and it is hard to persuade them to come back. But that doesn't mean we can give up! That doesn't mean we can excuse our lack of service.

So Sister Sorensen and I fasted for the inspiration to help revive our wards and we are keeping that task continually before our minds. The scripture that just keeps coming to mind in Matt 22:36-40. I just am not quite sure how to get the wards to really understand the severity of those commandments--that they are commandments we must do! Our poor wards are getting very discouraged and it makes us sad too. They are great people whom we love dearly, but we know that through the power of God they can reach their full potential and help the word of God to spread forth to fill the whole earth. We know that through the power of God we can do anything. The Lord always answers the prayers of the righteous who have the faith to ask. So we are really going to work on that this week. We've had a few ideas come to mind--such a mottos or stickers--but we'll get the right answer through the whisperings of the Spirit, so we'll continue to seek that.

A little more on our beautiful new Sister; she is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She has turned all of her trials into sources of faith as she has relied on Christ. And every time I see her I am amazed at her beauty--she truly is God's precious daughter. At her baptism she shared her moment of conversion to the Church with us. It was after she had failed her first baptismal interview (because she still lacked faith in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith) and started a fasting with us to help her get her answer. As she was reading the Book of Mormom she was lead to Ether 12:27 and as she read that verse of scripture the Holy Ghost touched her soul. After that she was ready and committed. Since her second baptismal interview she has been rock solid and has actually helped in lessons. She is a very needed addition to our little singles branch.

Well, there is much work to be done, but I feel as I study diligence in the scriptures and in PMG that that really is the answer to all of this! Work, and work by the Spirit. I am so excited to see the miracles that will come after the showing forth of our faith! I love this Gospel and I know that God is here helping us along.

I love you all so much and I am so grateful for your prayers. As Sister Sorensen is coming to the end of her mission we have a lot of goals left to work towards and I believe we will see miracles! So stay and touch and be good!!!

Love you all so much,

Sister Brooke Smith

Crazy Mountain Dakeng #4

September 25, 2011
My Dearest Family,

Wow, your lives just seem sooooooooo busy!!! It is funny how missionaries are really busy, but not really. Like, we do lots of things and are always on the go, but it isn't the same feeling. I guess it is because we just focus on the Lord--there are no other demands pulling on our time. I like it---even though I have now apparently developed dark circles under my eyes and break out all the time. But I figure, these are just signs that I am doing my best right? Lol, we always say you resurrect after going home, and by looking at Sis. Lew's pic, she is definitely looking good! I am so glad to hear you all had a fun time. She was the perfect trainer for me. We had a blast! It'll be fun to see her next year. Well, I am almost to my half way mark...weird eh? All of the Sisters I came out with have already hit it since they were in the MTC longer...which is weird. Lol. But I really like where I am at. I love being Sister Sorensen's companion soo much. We have such a great time together and we have seen soo many miracles. This past week an investigator was going to our church along with her church and last Sunday she just decided it was time to decide! So she did and had a wonderful baptismal interview. She is going to be baptized Oct 1st (since we have conference a week later its all good) and is so strong!!! I just love her soo much and she just makes me feel soo happy every time we met with her. This past Sunday I attended the Singles Ward with her (my first time going to that ward) and she showed me around to all the classes! She is so awesome!!! She bore a beautiful testimony of fasting in the Gospel Principles class and I just know she has the faith to endure. Also, we discovered we both speak a little Japanese and so we practice together now! So fun :). Just little words here and there, but it really made her soo excited and it is pretty fun. But our Japanese is pretty horrible...oh well! Dad will get to speak to her when she comes to visit! She really wants to come visit sometime--which is soo exciting. I hope you get to meet some of my new converts. I love them soo much. I just keep thinking how blessed I have been and it makes me soo happy. Something fun is that since it is Sister Sorensen's last movecall she gets to call of her recent converts. The mission has changed a lot during her service---there used to be a HUGE push for baptisms...and we had a lot! But now (when I came) the push is retention...since many of those baptisms went inactive. So I haven't baptized a crazy amount, but all but one is super strong in the gospel. One...well, she has a few things to work on, but we all have free agency. Anyway, it has been a time for me to ponder the many blessings I have had and those that await :). we went with two members (both baptized for under two and a half years) and hiked this CRAZY mountain in Dakeng! It is called Dakeng #4...and I have awesome pictures I will be sending soon. Maybe the members will post them on FB...not sure. But it was sweaty. We had to use hands and feet to hike this thing...with ropes! It was so fun...but exhausting and now we have no time for anything. Sigh, so I will have to write individual emails next week.
Love you all!!!!!!!!

Sister Brooke Smith


Doing Great in Nantun

September 18, 2011
First week of movecall is over and we are doing great here in Nantun! I love my new area and I love Sister Sorensen soo much. We just love serving together and teaching in unity. It is a happy time. She reminds me sooo much of Katie Lindsey! It is hilarious! I love it. We laugh together alllllllllllll the time. We are best friends. She is on her last you will get to meet her soon...she lives in Orem.

This week we saw some miracles and I'd like to share a few with you. First was that we met with an investigator who has been waffling between our church and another Christian church for
several months. Her co-worker is a member and has been very encouraging and
supportive of our investigator. Our investigator's other church is interesting
in the fact that they have many similar commandments--including tithing. When
we taught tithing this past week, she said she'd been paying ten percent to her
other church since May! So its good that she already has the desire to obey
God's commands, but she also has a hard time telling the difference between the
churches. Especially since she hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon or prayed
about Joseph Smith. But when we met with her we felt prompted to invite her to
have a baptismal interview. She did the next night and she is just still hung
up on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. But she felt like it was a very
positive experience and our district leader was great at making her feel
successful in the fact she has a lot of faith. So we were a little unsure of
the next step, but then Heavenly Father helped us out. On Sunday she met with
her member friend before church and said she felt like she just needed to decide.
Whenever she prayed about our church and attended sacrament meeting she felt
happy. She felt like God was here. And she recognized that she lacked the same
amount of that feeling at her other church. She told us she'd like to have
another baptismal interview this Friday and be baptized the next Saturday!!
Such a miracle! It is maybe a bit slower than we'd like, but it will give the
ward time to prepare and really support her. We are soo excited!
Another huge miracle we saw was with a less active family. We were out visiting some formers, which went really great (another miracle) and ended up finishing up quite a bit earlier than
expected. Sister Sorensen had the thought to visit a nearby less active family
and so we did. The father and mother are both members, but only one of their
three children is baptized. Their 20 year old son, is semi-active since he goes
to school in Jiayi and the members there are really good at encouraging him.
The dad is a police officer and the mom just said she likes watching tv...sigh.
When we dropped by the mom and son were there, and then the dad came home about
halfway through the visit. As the Lord arranged it, the son was staying over
for the weekend and after having inviting the family to come to church, the
three there said yes! And the next morning (after a whole year of inactivity)
they came in their Sunday best! It was so awesome to see and the ward was so
happy!! Of course now the objective is to go with the home and visiting
teachers to keep this family going, but we are so excited and hope to help them
love the Gospel. The mom has probably lost the most of her prior knowledge. She
thought Joseph Smith and Jesus were the same we decided it is
probably best to review all of the lessons with her. But we are going to work
hard to have members with us.

As for gospel study, I have really trying to do better at studying specifically for investigators. The Lord has really been blessing me to find resources to help them, but the hard thing is
actually using them sometimes. So I am going to keep working on it! I know the
Lord can help my investigators better than I can. I love the Book of Mormon and
have been trying to help all we work with develop that same love!
Well, all for now, but I love you alllllllllll sooooooooo much!!!

Wufeng, Beichu, Zhanghua & Nantun All in One Week!

Soooo this week has been wayyyyyyyyyy crazy!!! I started off in Wufeng (my old area) had a day in Beichu and three in Zhanghua. And now....I am serving in Nantun! Lol, it is actually in the same zone as Wufeng...hehe. But about that a little later. Being able to see different areas helped me to gain appreciation for the amazing mission we are in! We all have the same goals and purpose. I love that.

First off, this week we had Sisters Exchanges and my dream came true!!!! I FINALLY was able to serve with Sister Chloe Ith!!! I love her sooo much--we met up in Gaoxiong and both ended up moving North. She goes home soon though. She was born in America but grew up in Singapore. Her dad is Cambodian and she knows soo many of the same people I do! Sister Ith also knows me from BYU because I spoke on going on the BYU Study Abroad to Nanjing and she ended up going the next year! So we have a lot in common. When I was in Beitun we shared a chapel and when I was in Wufeng we were in the same district! I love her so much! Sisters Exchanges was a blast and I received some answers to prayer with her. It was a very uplifting and edifying experience. And guess what!!? She just moved to Fengshan today!!! My first area :). It is pretty awesome.

Then on Wednesday Sister Laxi got the call that she was going trainer---my third companion to do so!!! It has kind of become a mission joke that I train Actually all of the Taiwanese Senior companions went trainer! We have nine new sisters come in this week--five of which are natives!! So great! On Thursday I got to meet the new trainees because I helped with their Dan Jones night! It was so fun seeing them and remembering how I felt. I saw Elder Riley White (go Springville!!!!) and he is doing so good! He told me that Missy told him something to tell me...but he forgot! She cuts hair at the MTC now so he saw her there. Anyway, it was way fun to see him--he got sent waaaaaay South! He'll love it!

For my last little bit in Wufeng, my cute 18 year olds are doing so great! They both have such a desire to learn more about the gospel and to feel the Spirit. I have complete confidence that Sister Laxi and Sister Wang will be able to help them progress towards baptism and enduring conversion. Also, another investigator is doing great and has been keeping her commitments. All three should be coming to church this Sunday and it is exciting!!! We love them so much.

So come Friday morning I had to move out and I ended up going to Zhanghua for three days. But funny thing is they kind of forgot about me so all Thursday night we had to make a KABILLION calls and we finally got it all straightened out. It was way fun in Zhanghua because I whitewashed with Sister Pomeroy!!! She was my first MTC companion (with Sister Miller)! Whitewashing means the area was closed and so two new missionaries have to reopen the area and start from the bottom up. It was so fun. Even though I knew I wouldn't be staying I just fell in love with the ward. We saw so many miracles! Sister Pomeroy is amazing and she also answered so many of my prayers. Our time together really bolstered me up and she is totally coming to Thanksgiving with us after we go home (we will be going home together). Yep! She is the coolest Chicka around. She was companions with Sister Bray last move call, but now Sister Bray went trainer!! And she is training an old mission president's daughter! Actually President Watterson was the Taizhong mission president when I lived in Taibei. So I totally remembered the other day that she was Jeremy Perkin's date to prom when I doubled with them in 2005!!!! So we have actually met before...but both kind of forgot about it. Small small world. She is way cute though. Oh and Sister Cooper moved from Fengshan to be with Sister Pomeroy!!! How cool? All companions with companions.

Then come Saturday night....we found out movecall! Except there is another Sister Smith now and they confused our transfers! But we got things figured out and I moved from the Wufeng District in the Taizhong Zone to.....the Nantun District in the Taizhong ZONE! Lol, and my old district leader became zone leader and the zone leader became my new district leader. And the district leader in Zhanghua I was just with became the new district leader in Wufeng. I feel like we were all just shuffled around a little. I love it because I was really not ready to leave my zone! I love it too much! I am now on my 6th move call, 5th companion, and 4th area. It is exciting! Lol.
I will probably stay in Nantun for at least two movecalls though since my new companion, Sister Sorensen is dying here. She goes home next movecall! WEIRD. :p

Something else fun was that today is the Moon Festival! So last night we went over to a member's (in Zhanghua) and had a bbq!!! Chinese style :). It was so good and I am really going to miss the sweet Chinese sausages (their equivalent for hot dogs). But luckily I still have awhile, so no worries! And the fireworks were way great. I love Taiwan.

I am always so grateful for our study time. I have learned so much from that precious time, and I can't wait to keep learning more. The Lord has really given me so much comfort through His word. One thing that Sister Pomeroy and I studied together this week was the talk by Elder Bednar on "Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary." It is so powerful and motivating. But we especially enjoyed the "You Can Do It" section at the end. Sometimes we just see all of the weaknesses and it is hard to remember the good parts in ourselves. But I know the Lord can help us accomplish His will in His way. I love Him so much.

Well, all for now! I love you all sooooooooooo much!!!!

Wufeng has been Fantastic

Dear Family,

Can't believe it is already the last week of move call...that is weird! I really hope I don't move again! Wufeng has been fantastic. I love it here soo much! And my da tongban (senior companion...literally "Big companion") has already been here for three move calls. So many predict I will go "Da" (senior) here. Who knows. The thought of going Senior is more than just a little bit scary. Lol, but the Lord will have what He wants happen and we just have to be humble enough to accept it. This week we had some really great things happen. First, we have so many awesome investigators!!!! Two cute little 18 year olds came to church for the first time this Sunday. AND...they biked there with us :). It was such a happy ride to the church that morning. And the two girls became fast friends---I foresee a joint baptism! They had such a good time at church and both are making plans to come next week. One investigator has a piano class every other Sunday, but after church she told us that she was going to talk to her teacher and see if she could schedule it for a different day so she could come to church every Sunday! It was so awesome! I love teaching people who have a desire to learn and are willing to test the principles we teach.

Our week a away from baptism investigator, dropped this week though. It has been a rough week. She encountered some family opposition and for a bit told us we couldn't visit at all. But then a member went to the rescue and made it possible for us to visit them Sunday after church. Originally she was still going to come to church, but she didn't feel good. I think we will have to slow it down a bit, but we had a great visit with them after church and I think we'll be able to set a time up before next Sunday. She really loves church and says she will come next week!

As for RCLAs, we found some really awesome part-member (member part inactive) families this week! Both said they'd come to church...and both didn't :(. But we will keep working with them and involve the members more. I am excited to see how the Lord will bless us because they are awesome families and we love them sooo much. Last night we also visited a new part-member family-- (a recent convert who is currently serving a short-term mission and is a RC from Beitun--my last area). She is on fire and before she left for her short term mission gave me her family's info. So we finally got them to set up and last night we had such an awesome visit. They were way nice and the mom seems very receptive. The dad is willing to listen, but he also feels that all religions are the same and that in the end, we are Jesus. So there is some work to do there, but we are willing to do it! They want us to come over for dinner next-next Sunday :).

I love the attribute activity soo much! Every month the attribute is exactly what I need to work on. I learned a lot about patience, and feel like I have found several ways I can improve my lack of patience! One of them is by developing humility---which just happens to be this month's attribute! Yay! I really feel like the Lord is supporting me in every aspect of this missionary work--including the work I am doing for my loved ones. I love Heavenly Father so much and am so grateful He allowed me to have this opportunity to learn and grow.

Well, I am about to head out and go to a Sisters Activity with Sister Bishop (wife of the mission pres.!!). We are way excited! I am sure there will be some fun pictures coming your way soon.

Love you all!!

---Sister Brooke Smith