Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"Are you are telling me that there is a prophet on the earth?”

Nov 2, 2015
Hello dearest family :)

I honestly cannot believe we are entering week 6 on this transfer! Where has all the time gone? It just doesn't even seem possible. But alas it is. And I find myself kinda scared because I don't want the, to take me away from my dear Malaga! Haha anyway I'll stop now.

I cannot believe that Joel is actually home! I hope you are loving it as much as I wish I was there I love it here and wouldn't change a thing. It was funny last week I was talking to the Elders saying that Joel was going home and Elder Adcock told me that around the time Joel would meet with the family I would feel something. He called the mission bond break ;) well I laughed it off. When much to my surprise sitting doing area book I literally felt my heart hurt a little. Later I looked at the photos mom put up on the iCloud. Same time. It really weirded me out.

Anyway last Monday we got to teach our investigator H and his cute wife G. But it was such a powerful lesson because we brought the Elders to give G a blessing. The Elders bore a simple testimony about priesthood and faith. And before we even taught anything the spirit was there so strong. Hermana Esplin and I then got to teach about the restoration. It brought me so much joy to see this spark inside H as he started to understand more fully what we were teaching.

Tuesday we went to district meeting. Elder Adcock put me in charge of the preach my gospel search, and the "quiz" (basically you come up with some really intense scriptural questions and see who can get even one point) anyway I gave the district what I thought would be an easier question. "How did Joshua win the battle of Jericho?" Here are some of my favorite responses: "CON VALOR!", Elder Tenorio (he was pretty put out I didn't accept that); "They sent a small army and the other team killed themselves", Elder Adcock. And the only correct answer: "and the walls came tumbling down" Hermana Esplin. The quiz was super fun but, I ended up threatening to take away points for the next person to argue with me ;)

I don't know if you remember me telling you last week we set a goal to find 100 new future investigators. Well the results came in and we found 143! It was awesome. Elder Adcock challenged us to up our game and turn at least 40 of those people into investigators this week. We will see how it goes.

Tuesday night we tried to get a Skype going for one of our investigators so she could talk to missionaries in Bulgaria. But she ended up not being able to. It was a little frustrating but we tried to make the best of it. We taught a lesson to someone from Bulgaria and then headed to teach someone from China and then a cute family from Ecuador. I seriously love the south of Spain because you find people from all over the world, and from all sorts of different cultures.

Wednesday morning we got to go teach J and F they are from Nigeria. Teaching J was honestly one of the coolest experiences of my mission. He started the lesson saying he didn't need to be baptized because he was baptized 2 years ago. Well we taught the restoration. He stopped us and asked us, "you are telling me that there is a prophet on the earth? What is his name? Can he help lead me to God and salvation?" It was one of the sweetest moments to simply testify of Thomas S Monson as a prophet on the earth who is here to guide us to Christ who can help us be saved. J then quietly asked what he needed to do to be baptized with authority from God. God is so good to us.

This week for noche de hogar (family home evening) we brought back an old family game. Blow pong! We played a tournament and people really loved it. I was mostly in the corner dying of laughter. It brought back so many memories of playing with the missionaries in New Jersey. Where you would end up spitting a mint across the table instead of blowing the ball.

We also got to meet with cute A this week. She is just the best. She was confirmed a member of the church this Sunday. It was such a special moment for me to be here with her. Sometimes it gets a little scary thinking about making sure she learns everything. It’s the same with all recent converts, but then I always try to remind myself that God wants to help in every aspect of this work. This week in church, my joy was so full to be sitting with G, M, and A all around me. I love them all so dearly and just want to protect them from all bad. I know that sounds silly especially because they could all be my mother ;)

Alright miracle time. So this week we really wanted to work hard to meet the district goal for the amount of new investigators. But it was Friday and we only had 1 new investigator. So we started praying. Well wouldn't you know, God blessed us with 5 on Friday and another 5 on Saturday. I really don't know how it happened. But it was such a testimony to me that God loves us. He knows when we set worthy goals and wants to help us fulfill them. It was funny – as we went to the park to teach M, he was there sitting with two ladies talking to them about God. He looked up at us with an incredulous look on our face and said, "they don't believe in God, come talk to them, make them see". We did in fact talk with them and taught a lesson. It was so cool to see M be so bold in defending God and the things we had taught him.

Halloween in Spain. Alright I will just come out and say it. Not my favorite holiday to be a missionary. We started the afternoon with a cita (appointment) every hour. Well one by one they all canceled on us because of parties and such. Everyone we passed by was out of casa. And yet there was no one on the street. The few that were on the streets were all dressed as zombies. I'm not kidding. I didn't see one cute costume. Just zombies. Made for an interesting contacting night. Hermana Esplin and I started singing, "this is the night that never ends!" As much of a downer as it was, we actually a fun night. We found a bunch of new people to teach and I can't wait to keep working with them.

Sunday was wonderful as always. Hermana Esplin and I were in a park waiting for an investigator when suddenly literally out of nowhere it started to down pour. We sat there with no jackets or umbrellas and looked at each other and just started to laugh. It was cold so Hermana Esplin’s glasses started fogging up and she couldn't see a thing. We just laughed, and kept going. We stopped by some investigators that ended up not being home and then finished in a members home. When we showed up for our cita (appointment) completely drenched but still laughing they took us in and gave us warm milk and towels :) later we realized that Sunday afternoon could have turned into a really sad night. But when you can choose to laugh or cry. Why not laugh? Life is better that way. I'm so glad for a companion who will just laugh with me.

Today for p-day (preparation day) we headed to the country side with a member to just relax and look for adventure. It was a much needed day of rest and fun:)

I just want you all to know how grateful I am for this chance I have to serve a mission. I know this email may have come across silly, but really I am so grateful for this chance I have to serve the lord. There is a quote I love that says "If you let him, God can make a masterpiece of you, where you can only make a smudge" sometimes this work is hard. You literally feel like you are just beating you head against the same door over and over and that despite all your effort, no real work is happening. But I think the most cunning way satan gets people to stop making a difference is by making them feel as if they aren't making any. Don't you ever let him tell you what you are doing isn't worth it. We know that's not how God communicates with us. So instead of letting those thoughts or feelings get you down. Let them do the opposite. Be happy. You are ruining the Devils plans made for you and those around you, keep fighting and pushing forward. That is how God can shape you and make you into a masterpiece. But not giving up, choosing to push forward. I know God has plans for me and for all of you. Let him fulfill them :)

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Much love Hermana Smalley

Then comes the crazy …

Oct 26, 2015
Hello to my beautiful family, 

I loved seeing the pictures of you all with Hermana Gallegos :) I hope you guys has a super fun time and I can't wait to read all about it!

Shout out to Joel on his last p day. Finish strong. Love you so much!

It seems so wired honestly how quickly this transfer is just flying by. I have the best district the most beautiful area and an amazing companion. I can't complain and I'm loving it! Malaga has just stolen my heart. The people, the smells, everything about it I love. Sorry I'll stop gushing but just so you know it is amazing!

Nothing much to report about last Monday. I had more chances to improve my soccer skills. One day I might be able to play ;) we got to play in the rain which meant lots of slipping and falling. But it added a whole new element ;) Elder Puelles and Johnson let me practice my five meter shots on them. No I didn't miss ;)

Tuesday we had district meeting. It was Elder Puelles last one. To put it in Elder Adcock words, "I might have inspired myself writing this taller ;)) we really had an amazing district meeting one of the best I have been to. We talked a lot about the need to contact. That contacting is the price we need to pay, and the way we can show our faith so that God can work miracles through us. I have got to share something I read in Hermana Eyring’s weekly letter a while back, about how their president had them write encontrar and ensenar on the bottom of their shoes (find and teach) so that every step they take should be focused on finding. And just like your left foot follows the right you should always try to teach the people you find. The district took a vote and we all decided to do it :) We also set a goal to get 100 “futures” in the next five days :) we said goodbye to Elder Puelles and headed off to work!

That afternoon we started intercambios. I was with Hermana Merrill. She is super cute and we had such a fun time together! However I walked with Hermana Esplin to drop her off and then walked back with Hermana Merrill to our Pizo (apartment, 30 min away) only to realize we had left the keys to Pizo with Hermana Esplin! Qué vergüenza (how embarrassing)! So we did our best to try to break into Pizo. Which we did in fact manage to do. Then out to work! We got to go teach H. He and his family are new here from Cuba and basically a joy to teach. He wants to keep moving slowly forward and we want to make sure he really understands. Then we got to teach a less active member and animar (encourage) him to come to church. It was wonderful to hear his testimony and remind him of all that he can regain by coming back.
Anyway we ended up meeting with the other Hermanas that night to get the keys back :)

Wednesday morning we had literally ever cita (appointment) (appointment) fall through. And yet, with district meeting still ringing in our ears we just contacted people. It is such a cool part of the work we do, to talk with everyone that we see. You meet so many interesting people from all over the world :) it has really helped me in a way, to not always assume the worst about people. For those of you who knew me before my mission know what I mean. I had is nasty habit of always assuming the worst about what people might be thinking. But I have learned that is not the case. People are awesome.

Wednesday afternoon I got my companion back! I had to assure the Elders that I had not gotten rid of another companion ( I have the most companions for my time in the mission in the whole mission ;)).

That night we had consejo and noche de hogar (family home evening). As usual :) then off we went contacting and teaching again. We got to work with some members on Wednesday that are struggling a little. Honestly it is one of my favorite things to help members having hard times. Because you just remind them who their biggest source of strength is. You turn them back to the source of their testimony and help them have the hope that gospel brings.

Thursday we had weekly planning. After weekly planning Hermana Esplin helped me be humble enough to ask for a priesthood blessing. I was struggling a little bit because I was so stressed out with everything that was supposed to be happening, I let satan get in my head and start telling me I wasn't doing well enough. It was really dragging me down. And my amazing companion called me out and reminded me that we aren't asked to take the world on alone. Sometimes I just get so caught up in trying to do everything I forget that God gives us tools to help us in this life. Me trying to do everything on my own is assured. Because I cannot and will never be able to do this work alone. I easily fall into the trap of thinking that if I can just hold out one more day then I will be happy. But that's not how we are meant to live this life. It is meant to be a joyful experience. I also know that in my pride I don't want to ask for help. I want everyone to think that I am just fine and dandy. But I think it would be better to actually be that way than just have everyone think it. So I got a blessing and it really helped me. I would encourage all of you who are like me, who like to pretend they can take on the world, if you are struggling to keep going remember you can rely on your Father in Heaven.
That night we got to teach our cute A! She is the most amazing woman in the world and probably the cutest lady you ever have seen. We just met with her to finalize everything for her baptism on Sunday and animar (encourage) her for the special day! Then we taught English classes and went with a member to a member’s home who has been struggling recently. Again with the, I love working with members to help them regain their testimonies.

Friday morning I still wasn't quite right. Again my companion knew it. She basically forced me to call Hermana Anderson that morning to just talk with her. So I did. And oh my goodness it was really just what I needed. Hermana Anderson reminded me that sometimes when we do little things wrong satan just gets under our skin and makes us feel awful about ourselves. And yet that is not and never will be how God works. He corrects with love and marks improvement more than failure. I am so grateful for my amazing mission president and his wife and their support.

Then comes the crazy … because of course, we were having a baptism and things can't just go according to plan for baptisms. We found out that the other ward was having a baptism and the JAS (young adults) were having an activity that night around the same time we had planned the baptism. But we decided to just keep moving forward with faith and trust that God would help us with all the rest. So Friday night we put together the rest of the plans for the baptism and Hermana got domestic and sewed up some holes in the baptismal dress.

Saturday we had correlation with Brian which is always an experience. But he gave us some ideas on contacting. He encouraged us to make a game of it. Like every time you see something you have to contact that person. So I challenged Hermana Esplin to contact every man with a beard. And I had to contact every person we saw kissing. Yeah it was weird. But as a missionary you kind a just live in the wired. 2 futures in 1!

Saturday night was the strangest craziest awesomest night :) we had all of our cita (appointment)s fail but managed to teach a bunch of new people. God is just so good to us. Sometimes I literally just don't understand it. God uses such imperfect beings and yet allows us to take part in such a great work. He blessed us for what we do, even when it really isn't enough he makes up the difference.

Alright then came Sunday. It was the best. I love coming to our ward because it is just like our little family. They just love all of our investigators and recent converts. Cute A brought her daughter for the first time. All of our Elders just swarmed this little girl and she stole their hearts. Elder Johnson came up to us afterwards and said "I show my love by baptizing people, I know she isn't eight but can we just baptism her please!" Seriously she is the cutest little girl you have ever seen! The members fell in love with her too! That night we got everything lined up it was all set ready to go and we were just waiting on A. My heart was ready to break because it was seven and she wasn't there! But then she walked in with her husband and daughter. He service was beautiful. And Hermana Esplin and I sang together. I was terrified but I think it turned out alright. A’s husband after the baptism said, “Hermana A…! Look at you, you have a family here”. And he couldn't have been more right. Don't worry we are coming for him next ;)

This week I have been studying a ton on consecration and obedience. Going back to the whole contacting thing. I realized that it is a commandment to missionaries to talk to everyone. In all times and all places (D&C). If I really wanted to be obedient I needed to follow that. I also got to read an amazing talk by Elder Durrant about parents who came to their son’s mission with his older brother. They followed their son at a distance all day and watched disappointed as he disobeyed practically every rule and showed a blatant disregard for his calling. The older brother was especially saddened because he had served a worthy mission and had hoped his brother would do the same. They wrote a letter to the mission president about their experience and signed it in this simple way,

With love from your heavenly home, Father, Mother, Jesus Christ.

This story of course fictional. Really hit me. Every day I have three people watching me with love hoping I will give my best. And unlike normal observers they can see my heart. They know what I am truly giving and if it is given freely or grudgingly. I want to give my whole heart to this work and make all of my parents proud.

To finish up I want to share an experience. Every week when we give numbers we are asked to give our obedience on a scale of one to 100. I always say around 96 98 but we give the number as a companionship. Hermana Esplin always says 100. And Elder Adcock takes the higher number. This has become quite the source of discussion in our district (we have the district leaders and the zone leaders in our district so they all know our numbers) because 100 percent obedience is pretty hard. So last night we had given numbers and Hermana Esplin and I had this same discrepancy. Elder Adcock curious as to why it always happened this way asked what was behind our numbers. I just thought I'd share with you all how I measure my obedience. This might sound weird. But I think about the Smalley family missionaries. Dad, McKay, Joel, but not just them. I have often thought of Grandma and Grandpa Smalley and other members of our family on the other side of the veil. I measure my obedience based on my worthiness to have them at my side. I always want to be the missionary that they would be proud to stand at my side. I feel that I am that missionary 97 percent of the time. I want to get to 100 but I have my moments I need to be better. Anyway. I didn't realize that was how I was judging it until he asked. So there it is ;)

Love you all so much have the best week!