Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Billingham Boanerges

Hello Family and Friends!
So as you can see from the subject this past week has been pretty good. My companion and I won a competition that our zone was having and we were awarded the ever so coveted Billingham Boanerges belt. It's basically a plastic wrestling belt that has been blinged out. Boangerges is a New Testament term and basically means sons (or daughters) of thunder. Jesus uses it in Mark 3:17 in talking about James and John. But now I am part of the Hall of Fame and hopefully we can keep holding on to it.
The fire alarm just went off in the library so we all had to leave for about 10 minutes so that was overly exciting and a bit dramatic.
It has been super windy here the last couple of days. Like, sometimes it is extremely hard to walk against the wind and you feel like you are barely moving. Plus, it's super fun getting to wear a skirt when it's windy. Yesterday we went to York for a Mission Tour meeting (hence why I am emailing today) and yours truly drove all the way there and back with three rowdy elders in the back. Just kidding they really weren't that rowdy but it was still super windy and the car kept swaying on the highway. A bit scary but it was all good.
The Mission Tour was really good. We received instruction from Elder Donaldson, one of the area authorities here, and it was really great. He talked about faith and said that we not only need to have the faith to pray but also have a prayer of faith. We need to make sure we are constantly pondering the things we pray for and sincerely ponder the answer we receive as well. He explained that when we act on our faith we gain power to do the Lord's will. It was super good.
Well, that's pretty much all of the super exciting things that have happened this past week. Of course, we continue to see many amazing miracles everyday and that's the blessing of being a missionary. I love you and miss you all tons!!!!!! Keep smiling and don't forget to clean behind your ears.
Sister Smith

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Miracle Mole"

Hello Family and Friends!
So we have been super busy this past week which is always really good. At the beginning of the week we didn't get to use the car because we didn't have any miles left for the rest of the month and so we did a lot of walking. Luckily these dancing feet are accustomed to pain and fatigue, but my companion wasn't so lucky. But she is strong and kept on walking with me and endured it with a smile on her face. We were able to start using the car again on Thursday and it has truly been a blessing since.
This past week we have been able to witness so many miracles! We were in a teaching appointment with an investigator who has been taught since November. She has a really hard time trusting her thoughts and her feelings so explaining how to receive answers through the Holy Ghost can be really difficult. But after we said a prayer with her last week she asked us if we ever felt a hot/warm feeling in our hearts. We just looked at her and smiled and she knew it was the Spirit. That's the first time I've ever been with anyone who has felt the Spirit like that for the first time. It was really great!
We are also teaching another man who says that one of the reasons he knows the church is true is because of his "miracle mole". He said he has had this mole his whole life and it has always really bothered him but since he started meeting with us it has disappeared. He's had other answers to prayers as well but this is the most unique one. God answers prayers in mysterious ways.
On Saturday the zone leaders came to see us in action so we went street contacting with them in the High Street and knocked a street with them. They gave us two challenges to accomplish. One of them was to ask someone for a bite of their food and the other was to street contact a group of six people. For the first challenge, I went and found someone I knew that worked in a shop and then had them give me some ginger snaps while the zone leaders were looking. But they said that was cheating, I said it was clever. Then I knew the second one would be difficult as well because not many people travel in a group of six. So I ended up going over to a bus stop where a group of about 15 people were waiting to get on a bus and I started loudly explaining the story of Joseph Smith to them and telling them about the Book of Mormon while the zone leaders watched from across the street. Some older woman started saying things back to me to the effect that they were all too busy to listen and everyone else just thought I was absolutely crazy but it was really fun. I know that I piqued the interest of at least one person there...
Well, I should probably get going but I hope you all have a wonderfully amazing week.  I love you all and miss you tons!! Don't forget to put petrol (gas) in the car... I almost did.
Sister Smith

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"To Live Would Be an Awfully Great Adventure"

Hello Family and Friends!
So, yesterday was a bank holiday here in England so the library wasn't open, ergo why I am emailing today. So my daughter's name is Sister Stout and she is super nice. She is from Arizona (about an hour south of Las Vegas) and is abut 6 inches taller than me. I was pretty nervous about training but it's actually going pretty well. Plus she has a black belt so she can help me fend off the little children of Redcar now. It's also made me realize how far I have come in the past 6 months. I remember feeling so nervous and so overwhelmed when I first got here, but it now seems to come a lot easier now, something my trainer promised me everyday and something I promise my daughter everyday.
Yesterday, some pretty epic events happened. The first of which should come as no surprise to anyone and that is that after 6 months of fierce competition I finally won my first game of chair football! To be honest, it was a long time coming and I'm really grateful that I was finally able to achieve such great an accomplishment. After we played that we also played a game called Gatorball which my team continued to dominate in. We were all just really feeling the spirit and thus were able to work together really well. After that we watched Hook (hence the title of the email), which is on the approved movie list. Probably those who know me well know that Hook scared the bajeezies out of me when I was little and mom had to get me dreamcatchers so I would stop having nightmares from it. Luckily, I've grown up a bit so it wasn't as scary anymore, but some parts still gave me the shivers (especially the "boom box" with the scorpions).
Yesterday was also a really good day because I was able to witness a pretty neat miracle. A couple of days ago we were walking down the street and I saw this man ahead of us that was just about to cross the road. I felt like I should talk to him but he ended up crossing the road. I felt really bad that I didn't shout and stop him (the spirit was definitely rebuking me) and so without warning my companion, I ran across the road (dodging some traffic) and chased him down an alleyway. I was able to get a return appointment with him for last night. It turns out he is from the Philippines and his uncle and cousin were taught by missionaries (probably Keith Bradford) there and were baptized. He said he had sat in on some of the lessons back in the Philippines and had read about half of the Book of Mormon. We were able to talk with him and his wife last night and schedule a baptismal date for them! It was so amazing and really strengthened my testimony about following the promptings of the spirit. The church is so true!
Well, I've gotta bounce now and get back to doing some missionary work (which is going to involve a lot of walking because we don't have any miles left for the month --- which is not my fault because I gave some of our miles to the zone leaders because I'm just a super nice person like that). I hope you all have a tremendously good week! Don't forget to eat sweets sparingly!
Sister Smith

"I'm Gonna Be A Mommy!"

Hello Family and Friends!
So this past week has been pretty exciting. As you can all see it's transfers week, ergo why I'm emailing on Tuesday instead of Monday. I was pretty nervous because I really didn't know what was going to happen because I've been in Redcar for quite awhile and there was a chance I was going to get moved. Plus, this past transfer there has been a long running joke in the zone with all the elders that I was gonna train a new missionary this next transfer and as a good friend once told me, there's truth in every jest. So what happens during transfers week is that Monday night (at around 10) we get a call from the zone leaders and they tell everyone where everyone in the zone is going to. But starting at 9:00, President Lindley calls all the missionaries that are going to be training or becoming a district or zone leader. Well, the phone rang around 9:15 and it was from the Mission Home but we have really bad signal in the flat and the call failed. I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous and my hands were shaking when I saw the caller ID. But no one rang back or anything so I just figured maybe he dialed the wrong number. Then at around 9:45, we got another call from President Lindley and he asked me to train one of the new sisters this next transfer in Redcar! So starting tomorrow, I'll be a mission mom and I'll have a mission daughter! When I found out I was nervous, but excited ("so I started singing a song called 'Nervous but Excited'"- Zac Efron quote from SNL skit). Hopefully all will go well. Pray for me! Sister DeLucchi is moving down the coast to Bridlington so she is pretty excited about that as well.
That's probably the most exciting thing that has happened this past week. I was asked by two Peruvian guys to go Latin dancing while I was street contacting people on the High Street. But don't worry, by the end of the conversation I had committed both of them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. That's how I roll. We also taught this man this week that LOVES America. He said (and I quote), "It's an honor to have two American ladies in the home with me and the Mrs." And he said that like three times. He is in his 40s and we are the first Americans he has ever met.  I've also decided that the best compliment that a person can give you is that they like your accent. Really I don't have to do much but talk and people love it. It's great, but I'm sure all of you have already been mesmerized by my melodic American accent so it's nothing I have to go into great detail about.
We also had Zone Conference this week and it was really good! It was all about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and it was a really powerful meeting. We watched a video about a father who is a bridge master for a train and he has to sacrifice his son for the people on the train. It's really good and it's probably on YouTube so everyone should check it out. We also got to eat tacos and drink A&W Rootbeer while we were there both of which are novelties in England. The only reason we got them is because the meeting was in Harrogate which has an American Air Force Base. So that was really exciting.
Well, I'm gonna bounce now but I love and miss you all tons!! I hope you all have an amazing week! Don't eat too many sweets!
Sister Smith

"Long Overdue Pictures"

Sorry, it's not a lot but these are from Sister DeLucchi's camera.  Some are from Whitby and some are just fun ones. Enjoy! Hopefully, I'll be able to send some more soon!

"New Shoes"

Hello Family and Friends!
So I finally bought some new shoes. I still have my other ones and they're going stong with their super glue reinforcement but they weren't looking too hot. I don't want to look like a slob ALLthe time, especially since Zone Conference is tomorrow, so I invested in another pair of nice flats that I can wear to meetings and walk around a bit in. It'll be getting colder soon so I'll probably have to get some boots some time soon and I'm telling you all this because I know how much you all are interested in my shoe apparel.
So I was writing this email and then the internet went down so I had to change computers so almost my whole email got lost. Basically only the first paragraph as written above was saved. But let me try to remember what I wrote... This week was really good! It's amazing how the spiritual inspiration you receive as a missionary. It's great when you are prompted to go somewhere or to talk to someone and you are able to witness a mini miracle.
This week we were able to go to Leeds for a Leadership Training meeting. It was really interesting and I learned a lot. But it was also super exhausting. We had to wake up at 5 a.m. so we could pick up some elders at 6:30 and meet some more elders at 7 and then be in Leeds by 9. Then we were sitting in the meeting until about 4 (don't worry we got a lunch break and other mini breaks in between). Then we didn't get back into Redcar until 7. So it was pretty crazy but fun at the same time. It's always good to see other missionaries and spend some time with them.
I know there was more in the other email but I can't really remember it right now... Don't worry about the riots, I don't think anything too dramatic will make its way to Redcar. I love and I miss you all soooooo much! Don't watch too much tv!
Sister Smith

"Make Like Nike, Let's Do It!"

Hello Family and Friends,

I send friendly greetings from the seaside town of Redcar. Nothing extremely epic has happened in Redcar this past week but the weather has been quite nice which is good. However, for some reason I really like knocking doors in the pouring rain. I don't know why. And no, it's not because I think I'll get good "husband points" for doing it. I think I just like being out in the rain, I find it relaxing.

I know I am emailing a bit later than usual. We had zone pday today so we all met up early and studied together and then we did a picture scavenger hunt in Middlesbrough. My team definitely won but the zone leaders were being so judgemental and disqualified like 5 of our pictures. It's fine, they're elders and can be quite competitive so I just told them they won to appease them (but we all know who the real champion is).

Last week I had a really neat experience. We were street contacting on the High Street and I talked to this really nice woman and she had a young daughter. I was able to get a return appointment with her and she lived out in a small village called Brotton which is in my area as well. Then 15 minutes later I talked to another nice woman who I also got a return appointment with who lived in the same town so I made the appointments for the same night. Well, I went to the first one and she wasn't in and then I went to the second one and she was in so we were able to teach her. About 10 minutes into the lesson we figure out that the two women are actually sisters! How crazy is it that I talked to both of them and they both were interested. God works in mysterious ways. We are teaching them now and hopefully it will all work out!

Well, I don't have much more time because we still have to get groceries but I love and miss you all tons! I hope you all have an amazing week! Keep eating all your fruits and vegetables!

Sister Smith

P.S. The subject is just a phrase my zone leader said and I thought it was funny. Plus, everyone in England doesn't say Nikeee, they just say Nike. You know what I mean? And they call Adidas, Ah-dee-dahs. I keep telling them it's not spanish.

"Super Glue & Super Gator"

Hiya Family and Friends!
So this week was pretty good but it was also pretty busy. It's harder taking over an area than I thought. You have to make a lot of the decisions of where we are going to go and who we are going to see and making decisions really isn't my forte but I'm working on it. Plus, it's really all about feeling guided by the Spirit as to where we need to go so I think we'll be alright.
Super glue is truly magical. About two transfers ago (12 weeks) the bottom of my shoe started falling off and was almost completely off but I used a little bit of Super Glue and it was just like new. It happened again last week and I just put on some more Super Glue and it looks like it'll last for another 12 weeks again before it needs another touch up. It's remarkable. (I feel like that could have been a commercial for Super Glue, it's really my PR side starting to shine through).
As for Super Gators, we were at our Egyptian friend's house for tea (dinner) on Saturday and when we got there he was watching this crazy internationalesque movie about a Super Gator going against some sort of mutated Dinosaur. It was really weird and the graphics were really bad, not that I was watching it, I could just see it in my peripherals.
The weather has just been going back and forth all week. Some days it is really cold and other days its really nice. Today it feels nice but it's also super cloudy so it might rain some, but such is life.
Last Monday we went to Whitby, the home of Dracula. It was actually pretty fun. We walked up the famous 199 steps to the church and Abbey ruins. It was kinda creepy though because there were grave stones everywhere and when we went into the church it was super old and gothic. They even had this baby doll  modeling christening clothes and it was 84 years old. It reminded my of Chuckie and so I just said a quick prayer in my head and walked away. But the Abbey ruins were really neat and there were some really neat little shops around as well. I also had my first fish and chips there and they were really good but really greasy. The town reminded me a lot of Weir Beach in New Hampshire because of the rows of shops and arcades that were there. It's also right next to the shore. But yeah, that was my fun adventure for the week. I'm going to try to email some pictures to you all after I send this email.
Well, I hope you all are doing well! I love getting all your emails and letters and hearing about what life is like back in the States. By the way, I heard the US economy is going to crash today, is that true? The English can be a bit dramatic sometimes when they tell us stuff so I never know how serious things are. I love and miss you all tons!!!!!! Keep dancing like there's no tomorrow!
Sister Smith

"Teach Me How to Katter, T-T-Teach Me How to Katter"

Hello Family and Friends!
I hope you all had a glorious week! After I emailed last week we went and hung out with the elders from the zone and when we got there they were playing basketball. My companion didn't want to play but, naturally, I stepped up to the plate (or shall I say hoop). I didn't tell any of them of my past bball experience (see highlights from the church ball game where I scored 15 of our 19 points and for some reason Kelly Ann got MVP, don't worry I'm not bitter about it) and so many of them were surprised to see that my outside J was better than Troy Bolton's. The best was when I schooled one of the elders with a crossover and shot a three and swished it. Everyone started giving him a hard time. It was funny. Then we played chair football and I was SOOO close to winning. I just had to get one more elder out but I was too exhausted from basketball, there is only so much I can do.
The rest of the week went pretty well. We found some new people to teach and so that was really good and one of our investigators got baptized on Saturday! It was a really great experience and I'm so happy for her. She's so great and I know the gospel is really going to bless her. She committed to everything as soon as we taught them to her. She was found when we were street contacting one Saturday and the elders came. She actually approached one of the elders to see what he had to say and we were able to start teaching her the next day. She truly was a miracle and I'm glad I got to be part of her conversion.
It hasn't been raining much this week but it has been rather chilly. It is really windy next to the sea front and we have been getting some cold winds which isn't so pleasant. However, it's a little easier for me to handle than Sister DeLucchi since she is from Las Vegas and isn't used to the cold as much. I'm nervous for her when it becomes winter time.
My left arm is really starting to hurt from having to switch gears all the time. I don't know how people live and drive like this. But I don't stall the car anymore and I only rev the engine on uphill starts which really scare me because the people behind me give me zero room. But other than that the driving isn't so bad anymore. I feel like I could drive anywhere now after having driven in England where there are no stop signs. Yeah, no stop signs.
Yeah, that's pretty much my week in a nutshell. Oh, and shout out to Ryan Kunz from my BYU 2nd ward for his amazing article on page 20 of the Ensign. Everyone should check it out! It's really good and I have everyone in England reading it!
Anywho, have an amazing week and I love and miss you all tons!!! And don't forget to put on sunscreen! (I don't care if it'll turn into a "tan").
Sister Smith

"It's Chucking It Down"

Hello Family and Friends!
So, this past week was pretty crazy with transfers and everything. Sister Lamb went home, naturally, and Sister DeLucchi came here to Redcar. I am the driver now though and that is a bit scary. I don't have any problems driving on the other side of the road, I really just have problems getting used to driving a manual. It was super frustrating the first day because I just kept stalling every time I tried to go into first but each day it gets easier and by the end I'll probably be ready for NASCAR. Sister DeLucchi is taking her driving lessons next week so that'll be good because then I wont have to do all the driving.
Yesterday it was "chucking it down" as the English like to say.  It was absolutely pouring, but don't worry I was a careful driver. You'd think for a place that gets a lot of rain they would have a better drainage system. If a natural disaster does hit England it will probably be flooding but let's hope nothing like that happens while I'm so close to the sea. It's sunny right now but it looks like it might start raining again soon. Fun!
There wasn't a lot of hype here about HP7P2 which was kinda disappointing but maybe that's just because I live in missionary world and not the real world.
Other than that nothing too exciting has happened this past week. Just knocking doors and spreading the gospel amongst the people of Redcar. One of our investigators is scheduled to get baptized this Saturday which is really exciting so everyone pray that it will all work out!
Yeah, I hope you are all doing okay! I miss you like crazy but I know this is where I need to be right now. Keep smiling and watch out for Voldemort!
Sister Smith

"Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Changes"

Hello Family and Friends!
So, as you can see I'm emailing on Tuesday which means that it's time for transfers! Obviously my companion, Sister Lamb, is being transferred back to her homeland of Missouri which means I am getting a new companion and her name is... Sister Delucchi. She actually came out the same time I did but she went straight to the Preston MTC. We've only met a couple of times but we are already best friends so I know these next 6 weeks are going to be good. She's from Las Vegas so we pretty much are just going to party all the time (in missionary appropriate fashion of course).
This week was a pretty good week for us. In the mission they have something called "The Standards of Excellence" and they're goals for each team to try to reach each week such as how many lessons you taught and how many investigators come to church. They're pretty hard to reach but this week Sister Lamb and I were able to amaze the people of Redcar and meet Standards! So that was really exciting especially since Redcar was really struggling when we first got here and now it's doing really well!
Something else really neat is how well the girl that was baptized two weeks ago is doing. Like I was saying, she is really shy and that is why she wouldn't get baptized in the past. But she has become a lot more confident now and a lot more comfortable at church and with everyone there. It's amazing how much the gift of the Holy Ghost can help people grow and progress and I'm grateful that I get to see it happen.
Our 4th of July Pday was epic! Our watergun/water ballon fight was amazing and I know you would all be so proud of me. We broke up into teams and I helped create our team's strategy and it was so good. The Special Forces have probably found out about it already and are making plans to try and recruit me. I wouldn't be surprised. We then had a BBQ and my burger, which I grilled myself, turned out pretty good. The Food Network has already contacted me to be a contestant on the Next Food Network Star but I turned it down, naturally. The winners on that show never make it big.
Well, that's pretty much it for now. I hope you all have a grand week and when you all go and see the midnight showing of HP7P2 think of me because it's pretty much my life right now. I love you all and miss you tons!!
Sister Smith

"Emergency Baptism"

SURPRISE!!!! We had a baptism last week! I don't have much time to email today because it is zone pday and we are having some 4th of July festivities but I will try my best to explain what happened.
So, there is this girl that we teach and she is really shy and doesn't trust missionaries very much. She comes from a part-member family and she wanted to get baptized but she didn't really trust missionaries to plan it but she has been taught for years. Anyhow, we were doing exchanges last week with two other sisters and I stayed in Redcar while Sister Lamb went up to Ashington and this other sister named Sister Freeke (real name, she's German) came down to Redcar. Sister Freeke has served in Recar before and she actually had a really good friendship with this girl. So we were planning on scheduling her baptism while Sister Freeke was here. But one of the zone leaders said that if we wanted we could try and plan her baptism for while Sister Freeke was here... but I just figured that was just a really "far out" idea. But when we saw Sister Freeke and told her what she said she just got all excited took the phone from me and called the girl and asked her if she wanted to be baptized the next day and she accepted. Crazy! Anyway, so then I called the zone leaders and told them and they told the mission president and he said that if we could plan it and get it done then that will be fine. (Note to everyone: This never happens. Usually a baptism is planned in at least a week). So I just put all my PR skills to the test and planned a baptism in under 24 hours. It was pretty stressful but it was all good and everything turned out well! There is obviously a lot more to the story that involves almost dying while Sister Freeke was driving the car, calling a million people, screaming elders... So yeah, that's probably the most exciting thing that happened this past week.
But yeah, today we are celebrating our independence from the Motherland by having a good ole American BBQ, an intense game of dodgeball, and having an epic waterfight.
I love and miss you all tons! Don't forget to wear red, white and blue because the church is true!
Sister Smith

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Mayor of Redcar

Hello Family and Friends!!
So, as you can see this week has been pretty eventful. I was voted the official mayor of Redcar, naturally. Just kidding, naturally. But I did meet the mayor of Redcar. It was Armed Forces Day on Saturday and there was a parade in the High Street so we went down to check it out and try to proselyte among the people congregated there. This guy Eric, who is married to one of the members of the branch (I was at his house when I called home on Mother's Day), was the parade marshall and is also a member of the council here in Redcar, a very prominent member of society so he pretty much knows everyone. He introduced me and Sister Lamb to the mayor.  Apparently though, she really doesn't have much say in the political aspect of life, she's really just more of a symbollic figure in society, if you know what I mean. But anywho, I figure it's my first step to meeting the queen so I feel pretty good about it.We also saw this plane do tricks in the air so that was pretty cool.
It's getting pretty hot here now, at least for England. It was about 80 yesterday and it's suppose to be in the 80s today as well. Don't worry though, I am wearing sunscreen.  The longest day of the year was this past week as well. It stays light outside until like 11:00 p.m., it's crazy! But everyone says its all downhill now until Christmas. They say it'll be dark around 4:00 during the winter months. Fun! But hey, it's only one winter so I think I can survive.
Oh, I saw a picture of Justin Bieber yesterday and was surprised that no one informed me that he cut his hair shorter. Thanks.
We found a lot of new people to teach last week which was really good and everything else is going pretty well. Last week on Pday we watched Rocky but they fast forwarded through all the "boring" parts and just watched the training and the fight scene at the end. Today we were going to go to a driving range (I know, me at a driving range, crazy) but not everyone wanted to go so we're not. We'll probably do a barbeque next week for the 4th of July and go around singing the national anthem while we post the Declaration of Independence on everyone's doors. That seems like the most subtle way of going about and celebrating the anniversary of our freedom from this land. How does that sound?
Oh, I keep forgetting to tell you, probably because I'm ashamed of it, but I have killed more snails here in England than I have in my entire life. They are everywhere and they are always in my line of walking. And it's really not my fault because when it's raining and I have my hood on it really limits my viewing and I don't know I've even stepped on them until I hear this loud crunch. It's sad, and I feel horrible about it.
Well, I hope you all have a fantastic week! Keep smiling and watch out for snails!
Sister Smith

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Eat Like An Egyptian 6/20/11

Hello Family and Friends!
So this week turned out to be a pretty good week. The beginning was pretty rough because we were having a hard time finding people that wanted to talk to us and a lot of people were flogging our appointments. But the end of the week turned out to be pretty miraculous. Probably the most exciting thing happened Satuday night. It was abut 8:30 p.m. and we only had a 1/2 hour before we had to be at our flat. We decided to start knocking this street and prayed for a miracle that we might be able to find some new people to teach. Right before 9:00 we knocked on this door and this man answered and even though at first he wasn't too interested he ended up invited us in and we were able to talk to him and his wife and son. It was a miracle! God answers prayers, the church is true, the end.
We also had a pretty interesting week dietary wise. On Thursday, we made dinner for the branch presidency here and we decided to cook them the sweet pork from Cafe Rio (my peeps from Utah should know what this is about) and it actually turned out pretty good. No one died so I'm considering it a success.As for the subject of this email, that is an even better story. So there is this take away place here in Redcar called Medo's and it is owned by a guy named Medo. Whenever we get pizza or parmos (a takeaway delicacy from this part of England) we always get it from Medo's and he knows us pretty well and can even recognize our voices when we call. Now, I'm not saying we eat there a lot but there aren't too many American girls living in Redcar so we are pretty easy to spot. Anywho, they love us there and Medo is actually from Egypt. His dad,Nasr, works with him and when we went in earlier in the week his dad invited us to come over on Saturday night to eat Egyptian food. Naturallym we agreed and went over. He cooked us potatoes and mushrooms stuffed in ground beef, chicken wings, rice with shrimp, salmon and for dessert we had fruit salad. Needless to say, I was absolutely full by the end of the meal but it was all really good! And Nasr pretty much loves us and told us we could call him "dad" if we wanted to. He's Muslim and said he wasn't interested in changing religions but who knows, in due time he might decide to get baptized. 
As for my attempt to not eat as much chocolate this transfer, it's been pretty difficult, but it's not my fault. I'm not buying any chocolate but people keep giving me chocolate and it's extremely rude to turn chocolate down. Yesterday for instance, I was given three chocolate bars by all different people. So really I'm just trying to be polite.
I also got a picture by the oldest lifeboat in the world the other day. I know you are all probably super jealous right now because it is probably a bucket list item for many of you to have that experience but don't worry I'll take you to it after my mission. Don't fret.
All the rain that was missing when I first got here found it's way back. It has been raining a lot here recently and when it rains it pours. Or as the English like to say "It's chucking it down". Today though there are no clouds in the sky and it looks promising that it'll be a nice day.
Well, I should probably get going. Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there (especially my own :)) I hope you all have fantastic weeks! 
Sister Smith 

Another One Bites the Dust 6/13/11

Good morning friends and family!
First off, there has been a major development this week in media approval among the missionaries serving in the England Leeds Mission. President Lindley has officially approved a new movie list for us. We used to only be able to watch animated movies on p-day, but President Lindley wanted us to be able to watch inspirational movies as well in order to lift us up more, what a gem. He let us all write in movies that we thought would be appropriate and then the zone leaders met with him last week to finalize the list. Yours truly had the brilliant idea to nominate Mighty Ducks, which got approved, hence the subject of the email. Surprisingly and questionably, Rocky also got approved... not that I'm complaining or anything, just shocked. Unfortunately, Cool Runnings did not make the cut. One zone leader brought to the attention of President Lindley that there is some swearing in the film. So, me and Coach Bombay are going to hang out this afternoon and try to find a way to beat the vicious Iceland team which will be fun!
The subject of the email also refers to yet another driving incident by the zone leaders. They got their car back a few weeks ago and the elder who got into the accident the first time has been suspended from his driving privileges for three months. However, yesterday the other one was driving and we are not sure what happened yet but they drove into the back of someone. Classic. They said they can still drive their car but it doesn't look very pretty. Silly boys. And people (and by people I'm strongly referring to an uncle of mine whose name rhymes with Moug) say that women are bad drivers.
The weather here this week has been pretty rainy. There was some hail (and no, dad, I'm not swearing) the other day that we were blessed to be out in knocking doors. We were greatly rewarded for it though because once it stopped we saw TWO full rainbows in the sky. One was right above the other one. So that was pretty neat. I am starting to realize though that my rain jacket isn't very waterproof so it's really just a regular jacket.
The missionary work here is good. We are just working on trying to find solid people to teach. A lot of people say we can talk with them but then give us false addresses or aren't home, ever. Don't worry though, I don't take it personally especially when they just read Jesus Christ on my name badge and slam the door. Silly people. We do have a couple of people that are genuinely interested so hopefully things will work out with them. Just pray for us!
Well, I should probably bounce now but I love and miss you all tons!! You are all fabulous and just remember to wear clothes when answering the door for people. You'd be surprised how many people don't.
Sister Smith

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Beached Whale

Hello Friends and Family,
So, I'm sure all of you are wondering what ended up happening to the Redcar whale. Well, they didn't blow it up, thank goodness. Instead, they cut it up into pieces to make into diesel and other stuff. Fun stuff. The saddest part is that they are guessing that the whale got lost and then couldn't find food to eat in the North Sea so it was starving and decided to beach itself. Apparently there is already a Facebook group about it. Just search "Redcar whale" and you should be able to find it.
This past week we got to go to the transfer meeting and that was pretty fun. All of the sisters were there and it was good to see/meet them all. And it was fun to see all the new missionaries coming in and to think that I've been out longer than they have. Don't worry though, I didn't rub it in their faces unlike the elders going home who kept saying "I have less hours than you have months."
Last week, we also set up a table on the High Street and that was pretty fun. The zone leaders and another companionship of elders in our district came down to street contact with us. It was fun to see how they street contact people. One of the zone leaders who's English would yell at people walking by "Hello sir, I'm from church", I'll have to try that one some time. But we were able to meet some really great people and hopefully things will work out well with them.  It was also super hot that day and I yet again got sunburned. The tan line on my feet is crazy good now. Don't worry I'll take a picture.
I also saw one of the coolest fights the other day. It wasn't like one of those wimpy girl fights that would break out at Algonquin on occasion, this was a legit fight (because you know how much I hate illegitimate fights). We were pulling onto this kinda dodgy street on our way to an appointment and right in front of where we are supposed to go, this younger guy (late 20s) is pulling this older guy (late 40s) out into the middle of the street by his neon green tank top (poor outfit choice) and he had a hammer in his hand and looks like he is going to hit him with it. Then he starts kicking him in the stomach and yelling and the older guy's wife is shouting and crying. Don't worry, by this time we have decided to pull over so we could watch it all from the safety of our car (and for those of you who are worrying right now about my safety, we had our branch mission leader with us who is this tough nigerian guy and could have killed both of these guys). And then all of the sudden they were fine and talking with one another and when the coppers showed up they said they were fighting over who would make the yorkshire puddings for sunday dinner. Then more police people showed up and things really started going down so we left the area under the instruction of our branch mission leader. Needless to say, it was great.
Well, I think that pretty much sums up my week. It's not as exciting as RJ passing out during sacrament meeting, but I think it comes pretty close. I love you all and miss you tons!!! Have an amazing week and don't forget to put on sunscreen when you leave the house!
Sister Smith

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Left Side and The Clutch

Don't worry, I'm alive. We finally were able to go to Forbidden Corners yesterday and because of poor planning on the parts of some of the leaders in the zone we didn't get back in time to email so we are emailing now. But before I tell you about Forbidden Corners, let me tell you about my 2 hour driving lesson on Monday. So all the American missionaries have to take 2 hours of lessons before we are allowed to drive, a mission rule. So I took my lesson on Monday but it wasn't just the left side of the road that I had to get used to. Almost all the cars in England are manuals and those who are close to me know that I have never driven a manual before in my entire life. So, right away I knew it was going to be a fun lesson. My driving instructor was from India and had a pretty thick Indian accent and I was his first American student (he may have taught a Canadian before but he can't remember). Surprisingly though I wasn't too bad. I only stalled the car 4 times in 2 hours and I only kinda hit one car. But I didn't really do anything to it, just the side mirror hit it and the instructor was like "It's okay... just keep going". So that was a bit dodgy but I'm good to drive now! Watch out England! It's not hard keeping to the left hand side of the road, it's really just harder making sure you are driving in the center of the lane and not driving too far to the left. So yeah, that's that.
Oh, and I'm staying in Redcar! I knew I would. Sister Lamb is staying here too and she'll finish her mission here so I'll probs be here for 2 more transfers which should be fun. Sister Lomiga is going back to her old area where she just came from. It'll be sad not to be in a trio anymore but all good things have to come to an end.
Forbidden Corners: The Strangest Place in the World. That is the tagline and it truly rings true. It was super weird. Basically this old rich man decided to turn his home and back garden into an attraction and put really weird things in it. Some of it was actually really cool and the grounds were neat to walk around. It was pretty much a castle with underground tunnels and what not. Probably the weirdest part were these singing rats (which looked liked ROUS's (Rodents of Unusual Size)) and they were singing this creepy demonic song and the chorus went "The cat is here. The cat is here. The cat is here." The spirit definitely did not reside in that part. Anywho, it was quite the experience that I will probably never forget even if I try to suppress the memory.
On Sunday, President Monson and Elder Perry spoke to all of England during a regional conference so it was good to hear them speak. President Monson spoke a lot about reaching out to others and bringing the blessings of the gospel into their lives so that was good to hear. Elder Perry talked about the Book of Mormon and how important it is to strengthen your relationship with Heavenly Father and Christ.
Also, yesterday the most exciting thing happened in Redcar since it was being bombed during WWII, there was a beached whale on the shore. It was actually pretty sad. By the time we got to see it, these scientists were performing an autopsy on it in front of the hundreds of people that came to see it. It was pretty big, 44 feet. And guess how they are planning on getting rid of it, blowing it up. I was astonished when I found out. That just doesn't seem right to me. I think there is another way, people are just lazy when it comes to the proper burial of nature's largest mammals. It's a shame.
Well, I should probs get going. I love and miss you all with my entire being!! Keep smiling and keep your chins up!
Sister Smith

Monday, May 30, 2011

First Sunburn of the Season

Hola Family and Friends:
So nothing terribly exciting happened this past week. However, we didn't get anything thrown at us and no one threw beef stew on our car so that was an improvement. One couple actually gave us a package of chocolates last night which was nice of them. Don't worry they were in a sealed bag and I already ate them (naturally) and I'm still kickin' so I'm pretty sure they weren't poisoned. There was also a fair in Redcar this week but it looked kinda lame and there were just a bunch of chavs (definition: grungy teenagers stuck in the 90s) there. It seemed like all the excitement there was caused by the drama being created by the chavs. The Southboro fair a few years back was definitely better than this one. They didn't even have the big ship ride at this one. Unacceptable. And they call cotton candy "candy floss" here. If you ask me it has a more cottony feel to it than flossy.
The weather here has been kinda weird. As indicated in the subject I got my first sunburn of the season this week. I'm rockin' a pretty sweet tan line on my feet as well with the shoes I'm wearing. I'll take a picture for you all because I know you want to see it. But it has also been super windy. Like it's been hard to walk sometimes because the wind is pushing us back so much. It's no wonder Mary Poppins had a hard time staying on the ground with her umbrella. The cloud movement is also incredibly fast. I'm watching it now out the window as I type this email and I'm just amazed at the speed this nimbuses are moving at. It's mind blowing.
Transfers are next week so I won't be emailing until Tuesday. I'm not really sure what is going to happen at transfers. I'll probably stay here in Redcar which is okay with me because I'm kinda just starting to get used to everything here. Out of what is now being called the "Trio of Life", one of us will most likely get transferred. Next transfer is Sister Lamb's last one before she goes home. At first she thought she would get transferred but now she is not sure. Sister Lomiga could also get transferred. But everyone is pretty positive that I'll stay here which is fine with me.
I also have a video on my camera from last week when we went on this playground and I went on this one part that is highly dangerous for anyone under the age of 20 to go on. It's hard to explain but once you see the video you'll understand the danger involved. Let's just say you're whipping around in circles and by the end you feel like you wanna throw up. There were other highly dangerous parts of the playground that I have yet to encounter.
Well, I should probably get going but I love and miss you all tons!!! Thanks for everything you do for me! I hope you all have stellar weeks!!
Sister Smith

"They're gathering stones" 5/16/11

Hello Family and Friends:
This week has kinda been a weird week. We had a zone conference in York on Tuesday which was actually really good. Before we went to the meeting we went over to see the West Minster Abbey which was really neat. And the city of York is actually surrounded by a stone wall. It kinda felt a little bit like Robin Hood and I was pretty much just hoping we wouldn't get sniped by some archers. The meeting was also really good. It focused around Joseph Smith and President Lindley shared some really neat things about the prophet and all the things he went through in his life. It really strengthened my testimony about him and about his service to the Lord.
So I was nervous about working in Redcar for a few days without my trainer but it actually went pretty well. We even met this 17-year-old girl, Holly, whose mom let us teach her and we scheduled for her to be baptized on May 28th. However, it was later on in the week that things started getting a little rough. I'm pretty sure the children of Redcar have made a secret pact with eachother to torment us. When we went back to see Holly later on in the week her little brother (I think he was 11) was there and started yelling at us to go away and that Holly didn't want to see us. We started knocking some other doors on the street and this 11-year-old kid gathered his friends and started taunting us and were gathering stones and I think one of them tried to throw one. It was actually really funny but at the same time annoying because it's hard to talk to people when you have a posse of children yelling at you.
But don't worry, it gets better. Last night pretty much the same thing happened in a different neighborhood with different children. The only difference is that instead of throwing rocks they were chucking candy at us. Luckily they ran out of candy and had to go back to the store to get some more. And a couple of people whose doors we were knocking on yelled at them and told them to go away. And we were able to get return appointments with those people as well so it all worked out in the end. Oh and at one point last night we parked our car and left it for at most 7 minutes and when we came back someone had thrown bread and some sort of beef stew all over the car. So that was fun and we took some good pictures with it. We just figure we must be on the verge of something really great or Satan wouldn't be trying so hard to get us down.
Well, that is pretty much all the fun and interesting news that I have.  I'm still just trying to take it one day at a time. Some days are better than others  but that is to be expected. I hope everything is going well with all of you! I miss you all so much and I love you! Be happy!
Sister Smith

The Forbidden P-Day 5/9/11

Bonjour Family and Friends:
So, today for p-day we (the zone) had planned to go to this place called the Forbidden Corner which I think is like a maze/scavenger hunt place, anyway it's suppose to be a really fun place. So we left the task in the trusty hands of our amazing zone leaders to figure out. We got a voicemail from them at 11:00 last night telling us we needed to be at one of the chapels at 8:30 a.m. to go (don't worry, the mission president said it was all okay). So we get to the chapel at 8:37 (fashionably late of course) and no one is there. So we call the zone leaders to find out they had gotten in a car accident on their way to the chapel. The best part of the story is how they got in the accident while playing the game to see how many people you can get to wave back at you when you wave at them. One of the zone leaders was in the passenger seat and had waved to someone and everyone in the car was looking to see if she would wave back and before they knew it they had hit the person in front of them and smoke was coming out of the hood.  So thus ended our trip to the Forbidden Corner. We had to go pick them up and then we all went to one of the chapels where I yet again dominated in chair football and we watched 2 of the work and the glory movies. Sister Lindley (the mission president's wife) did the costumes for it. And that has been my P-day thus far. I just hope we dont have to give them our car to use especially since this is the second accident the elder who was driving has got in on his mission. And he really has no excuse because he's English. We shall see.
Nothing else too exciting has happened since I spoke to you all on the phone yesterday. You all looked well which is good and there were some changes in hairdos which is always nice to see.  Just think, two more phone calls and I'll be home. It's really not that far away.  Tomorrow night and on Wednesday we are doing exchanges and I am the only one in my companionship staying here in Redcar so I'll kinda be taking over the area for a couple days which is kinda nerve-racking. I guess we'll get to see how well I really know the area.  We shall see.
There really isn't much left to say. But I love you all and miss you tons! I hope you all have a fantastic week! Don't forget to brush your teeth. If you don't, they'll fall out. Just ask anyone in England.
Sister Smith

Chocolate Wasted 4/28/11

Friends and Family,
There is really no need to threaten excommunication when I go a few days without emailing. If any of you were interested in the lack of email you would have seen that Monday was a bank holiday here in England so all the libraries were closed. Plus we had meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday so today was the first day that we were able to email. So, there is another bank holiday this Monday as well so I wont be emailing till Tuesday (I think). After that it should go back to regular until the first week in June when we have transfers and I'll email on Tuesday. It's all very simple.
Nothing too exciting has been happening this week. Still trekking along, some days are better than others. Tuesday was actually really good though because my trainer had to go to Leadership Training so I got to go out with the sisters who serve in the Leeds area. Leeds is a bit nicer than Redcar so it was interesting and fun to serve in a different type of area. And I got to be with a group of sisters which was fun because it's always fun to be with other missionaries. I was a lot more bold though than I usually am and I learned a lot while serving with them.
The new sister serving with us is Sister Lomiga. She is from California and she is Samoan. She has been out for six months and she is really nice. It's interesting being in a trio again. I've actually spent more time in a trio on my mission than I have in a regular companionship. It has it's pros and cons to it but it's good.
I've seen the ads for the latest Fast and Furious movie. It looks like Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are really trying to give Littlefoot a run for his money with the longest running film series. The Land Before Time does have a bit of an advantage seeing as though it is animated and I'm pretty sure they didn't use the same voice actors for each movie. At least The Rock is getting in on the action now. I always though him and Vin should do a movie together because they look a lot alike. Are they related in the movie? (Not that that question will get answered because no one ever answers questions that I ask in emails...) 
Anywho, the Royal Wedding is quickly approaching seeing as it is tomorrow. People here either act really excited about it or they try to act nonchalant about the whole ordeal, but they all are going to watch it. Right now we are planning on doing some service for some members with hopes that we might get to see what it all looks like.
So, I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe! Oh and the subject refers to my Easter endeavours. We had a lot of people give us chocolate and you can't just turn them done. I have enough to last me at least a couple of weeks which is nice and comforting. Well, I should probably get going but I love you all and miss you tons! Thank you so much for everything you do for me!
Sister Smith

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Step by Step, Day by Day

Family, friends, and everyone else:

So the subject of this email is pretty much how I've been trying to handle this last week. People told me my mission was going to be hard, but I never anticipated something like this. I am doing much better now. I think I was just in such shock last week that it was hard to imagine 16 more months without being home with family. But I know now that this is where the Lord wants me to be and that through Him I will not only do missionary work but that I will become a missionary. I really do miss mom a lot and I think it is going to be hard when I come home and she's not there but I know the Lord will give me the strength I need to overcome this trial. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be sharing with people the same message that is giving me strength and comfort as I face this trial now. I love you all so much and I appreciate all the support and comfort you have given me through this hard time.

Also, this subject has led me to think more about the classic television show Step by Step with its catchy theme song and 90's view of a Brady Bunch type family. But, question: Why didn't they just let the cousin (who's name I cannot remember for the life of me) live in the house rather than living in his van in the driveway? It doesn't seem very nice nor necessary to treat him like that. Just some food for thought (which is a phrase everyone around me has been saying so I thought I would try to use it in my email).

The work here is obviously a lot different than it is in Utah. Instead of tracting for referrals, we actually tract non-members which just seems crazy after being in Utah. There are some nice people who actually listen to what we have to say and then politely turn us down. And then there are others who aren't so nice and may use some extravagant wording before closing the door at a rather swift pace. But I'm not letting it get me down. We are teaching a good group of people and a couple of them have a baptismal date which is exciting. The branch is still really struggling though so we are going to have to have to work with a lot of less-active members. But one of my investigators told me that this town is the worst part of England so really my mission can only get better from here.

It's funny that so many people gave me advice about England like the food, the phrases and the accents but no one thought to warn me about places like Poundland and Poundworld. I've recently discovered my ignorance to the fact that these are not stores for dogs but rather comparable to dollar stores in the US. I feel foolish that I have lived in this lie for so long. So for all those who are planning to come to England in the future, consider yourself warned on the reality of pound stores.

The Royal Wedding is this week. We are not allowed to watch it though and we are not allowed to knock on doors that day either, street contacting only. Which seems weird because the drinking laws here are "relaxed" that day so people can drink in the streets. I'm thinking though that it might be best to do some service that day because I don't think anyone, especially here, will be in the right state of mind to accept Jesus Christ into their lives. I did hear about the royal wedding donut though that Dunkin Donuts has. Sounds classy.

Oh, something else I need to tell you. I know you have all been worrying about the fact that I am no longer in a trio (3 missionaries together) but don't worry because we are getting another sister here tomorrow. It's transfers week (hence why I am emailing on Tuesday, Pdays are on Tuesdays when its transfers) and we found out last night that they are going to put three sisters here to try and help the area out a little more. I think it will be nice to have 3 people again because that way there is more insight and I can learn more about how missionary work is done here. We are also getting a car which I guess is okay but I like walking so hopefully we wont use the car too much. we really only got it because a lot of less actives live farther away so it will be easier to visit them if we have a car. But yeah, that's pretty much it.

Well, I love you all SOOOOOOOOOO much and I miss you SOOOOOOOO much. I hope all is going well. And I know I was going to try and write written letters every other week but it is so expensive now with the international postage so I'll probably do quick emails to each of you as much as I can. Also, when if you do send me a package and they ask what is inside (if they do, I don't know) you have to say it is either "Used Clothes", a "Gift", or "Missionary Supplies" in order to keep it from getting a lot of duties taxed on. Oh and no meats, because you can't send it and I don't think I would want it. Well, I love and miss you tons! Keep showering and stay clean.

Sista Smith

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Love My Mom

Friends and Family,

I love my mom very much and I am so grateful for the support and comfort that I have received from my family and friends during this difficult time. At the end of this email I am going to put my thoughts to be shared at her funeral so I'm not going to say much now about it but I know that my mom would never want me to give up on anything. I would love to come home now and spend this time with family but I know it would be extremely hard to come back to my mission if I left it now. I know my mom is with me now, encouraging me to continue in this work. I know the next 16 months will be hard, but I know my mom will always be by my side (yelling at the people who slam their doors in my face and singing "We are the Champions" when we schedule someone for baptism), something she wouldn't have been able to do if she was still alive. I just ask for your prayers and continued words of encouragement. I love you all so much and I know I wouldn't have the strength to stay if it weren't for all of you.

I don't really have much to say as far as the rest of the week has gone. The members here have been really supportive and I'm probably the most popular person in the mission right now. I guess while I was waiting for my visa in Provo everybody was wondering why it was taking so long for my visa to get processed. Their conclusion (at least what most of the elders thought) was that I had a tough criminal background and thus had a harder time getting through the background check. They think of me as the "hardcore sister".

There's also a place here called "Fatso's Filling Station". I thought it was both mean and funny.

Well, that's pretty much everything for right now. I love you all and miss you tons!

Sister Smith

Thoughts for my Mother's Service

I love my mother more than any words in any language could ever describe. There is no place I would rather be right now than with all of you, remembering the amazing woman that she is. But I know my mom very well. The one thing she always taught me was to never give up. I would have to be on my death bed in order to get out of any sports practice or dance class. She always told me I had committed to it and I had to be there. In her last email to me she said, "I love you so much and I miss you, but I am so proud of you for doing Heavenly Father's work." When I talked to her on the phone about a week and a half ago to tell her I was finally going to England she was more excited than I was. I have committed to serving the Lord here and I know my mom wants me to stay here. And while I am not there with you all physically, I am there in spirit just as she is.

Perhaps one of my mom's greatest qualities is the one the embarrassed us the most as kids, and that is how friendly she was. No matter where we went, my mom always ended up becoming best friends with everyone around her. During races she always made friends with all the other triathletes, encouraging them to finish the race. Or yelling at us on the soccer field to play our best. She truly was a "Chatty Kathy". She always loved to tell stories as well. No matter how much snow we got it would never compare to the Blizzard of '78 where the roads were shut down and they made snow angels on Route 9. As many times as we heard that story, it was always a fun one to hear.

My mom also loved to serve others. She cared about all those around her and always tried to lighten another's burden. She would put my hair half-up, half-down every day in elementary school and always made sure my peanut butter t jelly ratio was always perfect. Although that seems like a small thing it means a lot to me now. She really did have the pure love of Christ in her. I hope to have the same charity she has some day.

My mom always said her favorite part of any race was biking up the steepest, longest hill. She said it is what made her stronger and gave her the boost she needed to end the race. I know these past couple of years my mom has struggled to bike the hardest hill of her life. But I know now that she is no longer having to endure that pain and hardship and that she has finally reached the top. In Alma 40:12 it reads (I don't have time to type it so please insert it for me Jen). I find peace in knowing that my mom is happier and more relieved than she has ever been at this time. 

I love my mom with all my heart and I will never forget the strength and courage she has been such an example of. I hope to be as good a mom to my kids as she was to all of us.

Cheerio Utah! Goodday England!

Hello Family and Friends!

So as many of you know I have left the promised land and hopped over the Atlantic to the Motherland. I got a call at 4:00 on Wednesday telling me that I would need to be at the MTC travel office at 8:00 a.m. the next morning to go to England. We still had lessons for that night so we didn't get back to the apartment until 9:30. So I quickly packed and then the next morning we met with our district for a quick goodbye breakfast which was fun. And then I hopped on a plan to Atlanta and then I had an overnight flight to Manchester. That is the quick version of what happened. I didn't really sleep at all on the plane so by the time I went to bed Friday night I had been up for about 36 hours.  So since then I have been a little tired but I'm starting to get used to it all.

So I know that this all happened very quick and there really wasn't a lot of time for you all to do the math that I am either 5 or 7 hours ahead of you but I thought at least one of you would have figured it out and would have emailed me on time this week.  I forgive you all but I am expecting at least 2 emails/letters from all of you this week to make up for your lack of emails this week.

So being here is England is going really well! The missionary work here is a lot different than it is in Utah which is to be expected but I had adjusted to being a missionary there and now I have to readjust to being a missionary here which is harder than I thought it would be but I know with time I'll become more accustomed to it all (sorry for the run-on sentence).  Right now I am serving in Redcar which is right next to the North Sea. Our flat is only a five minute walk to the beach which is nice, even though we can't go swimming it's still nice to look at. The area isn't as "posh" as other areas of England are. They call it shavvy (and that's two v's) which kinda means ghetto but its not like there are gangs and violence. It's more of the attitude and trends here. Some people are nice and some people aren't, which is also to be expected wherever you go. The branch here is super small. There are only about 90 members and only half of them are active. We were suppose to "white wash" the area but it didn't really work out because I didn't come right away. But now that I'm here were going to start on first building the existing branch up so that it is able to support new members that come in and then find new people to help the branch grow. It is going to take a lot of work but I think we can do it. The branch president is only 23 but he's really motivated to try and help stabilize the branch. I think this is one of the harder areas to serve in in the mission so I think I will be able to learn a lot right away and then be able to use it all when I serve in other areas.

England is also very pretty and there are a lot more sheep here than I expected. And they are numbered which brought a whole new meaning to counting sheep to me. The lambs are also really cute and I have decided that when I get home I want a lamb as a welcome home present. However, it has to be a lamb that will stay a lamb and wont grow up into a sheep because the sheep aren't cute. And for those who are now thinking of a stuffed animal, the lamb has to be alive.

My trainer's name is actually Sister Lamb, no joke. She is really nice and really fun. She is also really bold and has followed people down the street trying to talk to them. Perhaps someday I'll be able to do that too. We get along really great though and she has already taught me so much. And for all of those who were worried about my well being here you'll be happy to know that my mission president was in church security and was a personal body guard for President Hinckley. So if he was given the responsibility to protect the life of a prophet I think I will be okay with him watching over me. His wife and him are both super nice and really welcoming. Apparently my delayed arrival was the talk of the mission for the past couple of weeks which is also to be expected. Just kidding.

The accents aren't hard to understand it's just the weird phrases that I'm like I know what each one of the words you just said mean but I don't know what they mean when you put them altogether like that. But I'm catching on and my trainer usually translates for me. Most people like to hear me speak because my voice is so melodic and calming and american which I'm sure is something you all already realized.I don't really have a British accent yet but you can kinda hear one when I ask questions because there is a different inflection.

No, I have not seen anyone from Harry Potter yet.  I do constantly keep my eyes out though just in case and I have more time here to find and teach them. The Hogwarts Castle and Diagon Alley are both in my mission so hopefully one day I'll be able to go there. I would attach some pictures of England but I don't really have any good ones yet so I'll hopefully send some next week.

Well, I love and miss you all very much and I hope you all have the most stellar week in the whole wide world!!

Sister Smiff (a lot of the English people and elders have had hard time pronouncing the "th" so I have had to change my name for the duration of my mission)

Please don't hit me with that baseball bat......

Bonjour family and friends!
So, I am still in Utah. I knew that I was still going to be here this past week because it takes about a week to process visas for the UK (or that's at least what I read when I was being held for interrogation at the Home Land Security office/ getting my fingerprinting done there). So this week could be THE week. And no one answered my question about the royal wedding. Thanks. I kinda hope this week is THE week because we got a call from the zone leaders on Saturday telling my two companions that they were going to General Conference, but that I wasn't and I think pretty much all the other sisters are going. I don't really mind because I have already been to General Conference but hopefully this is divine inspiration that the reason they didn't plan for me to go is because I'll already be in the Mother Land and the commute would just be too difficult. You know what I mean?
Anywho, we were tracting this week and there was this one house where the map indicated that the husband was a member of the church but the wife wasn't. So it was in the middle of the day when we went knocking on it and the first time we knocked no one came to the door. And then we knocked again and after about 15 seconds a woman (about in her late 40s) answers the door with a wooden baseball bat in her hand. I was just thinking, who did she think we were? I mean if we were going to rob the house I don't think we would have knocked on the front door and it was midday and all her neighbors were outside. She might have thought we were bookies or something (I mean it wouldn't be the first time in my life that someone has mistaken me for a bookie). But I'm not well acquainted with the bookie population here and I don't think it is very prominent so that explanation is questionable. Ergo, I am highly questioning the necessity of the baseball bat.
Oh, and I messed up the date for Brody's baptism, it is really today instead of the Saturday. So that is really exciting! We were able to do a lot of teaching this week. We are now teaching a foreign exchange student from Germany (shout out to Jathaniel). We are also teaching someone whose parents are from Russia (shout out to Anastasia). The work here is really great and I love having so many great members here to help us out! We are inviting all the members we talk with to invite either a non-member or a less active member to watch General Conference with them. There are so many great things we can learn as we watch General Conference and everyone can feel the Spirit.
Well, I almost got electrocuted last week while I was flying a kite and it got stuck on some telephone wires. But don't worry, it was snowing too so I probably wouldn't have been as hurt. Last week we also hiked to some waterfalls which was fun and today we are going to play volleyball. None of the elders know yet about my Dream Team status at the MTC so they are probably going to be really surprised with my mad skills. But probably not too surprised since I schooled all of them in Apples to Apples last week. I told them, "You gotta play to the judge." 
Well, that's about everything. I do think I pinched a nerve in my neck because I can't turn my neck left but usually it goes away in a few days. You should all be grateful that you are all ambiturners. Well, I love you all and miss you tons! Stay righteous!
Hermana Smith

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

World of Wreaths

Hola Friends and Family!

So since everyone wants to hear about my visa updates I guess I can start with that. There isn't an update. I didn't have to sign some papers on Thursday for it and give my travel agent my passport (I don't know why she didn't want it earlier) but yeah I'm still waiting but I am thinking/hoping that I'll get it by the end of March. That gives me a little less than two weeks so I think that is enough time. Question: Did I already miss the royal wedding?

Things here are going really well! This past week we have started teaching a lot more new investigators which is great and we have a baptism on Saturday! It's really exciting and I love the 9-year-old boy getting baptized. His name is Brody and even though he is a Lakers fan and I a Celtics fan we have found a way to put that difference behind us and have become best friends, naturally. He's really funny too. When we asked him to explain what coveting and jealously was he said "It's kinda like when I like a girl and then another boy likes the same girl..." and then he got really red and his dad just looked at him like "We need to talk." But yeah, I'm really excited for Saturday.

My companions are really good. It is still me and Sister High and then our new companion is Sister Lee and she is from Indonesia. What's great about Sister Lee is that her first name is Sara, making her name Sara Lee. I thought about bringing up that her name was also a bread brand but not everyone is as well versed in the world of bread brands as I am and so I didn't want to intimidate them with my vast knowledge of the bread brand world. You know what I mean? But other than that we are all getting along great! We do really well teaching together and I can definitely feel the spirit more and more as I continue teaching others.

Let's see. I guess I can explain the subject. There are many things, even hundreds of things, I have learned so far on the mission but one thing that I have found most interesting is my past ignorance on the use of wreaths. My whole life I have been under the common misconception that wreaths are really only for the Christmas season. However, my service of knocking doors in the Utah Provo Mission has open my mind to the many occasions for which wreaths can be used. You can have a Valentine's Day wreath, a spring wreath, an Easter wreath even a St. Patrick's Day wreath. My purpose in sharing this message is in hopes that no one else follows in my ignorant path of poor wreath usage.

Something else funny happened yesterday. We met this man from Chile, who is already a member, but we were talking with him and he told me something really funny. He said, "If you want to talk about love, you talk in French. If you want to talk about food, you talk in Italian. If you want to talk about business, you talk in English. And if you want to talk to God, you talk in Spanish." He said Spanish is the "celestial language". I could tell we would be good friends, especially since I have mastered rolling my r's...

Something that I find as cruel and unusual punishment is tracting during the BYU game. It is really hard to stay on topic when people are yelling and screaming in the background (some people even ask us to come back later...). And I'm not gonna lie, I do ask for updates from the members and I knew we had won on Saturday when I saw mini fireworks go off in the neighborhood we were tracting in. And I'm not gonna say that BYU is winning because I'm serving a mission, but they may not be entirely independent... So I guess I'll say "you're welcome" just in case the two are, for some reason, related.

Well, I should probably get going but I hope all is well with everyone! I love you all and miss you tons!

Hermana Smith

Monday, March 14, 2011

"A Family That Kicks Together, Sticks Together"......

Hello Family and Friends!
So many of you know my current status but let me update you all. On Wednesday I got my temporary reassignment to the Provo, Utah Mission and left to "come" here Friday morning at 9 a.m. which is really weird since I was only in the MTC for 2 weeks and 2 days and all of the rest of my district wasn't leaving until today, I'm pretty sure they were all really jealous of me. Anywho, so then on Thursday my visa information came through so I was able to apply for that online that day and then today I went into Salt Lake to do my fingerprinting appointment for it.  It said on one of the forms that they usually like to process them within 5-10 business days. So, we'll see. I could be leaving next week for England or it could take longer. Nobody knows, except for the Lord of course and the British Consolate in New York City. But that's all my visa information for you.
The mission here is going really well! Funny story- the mission president was going to assign me to the BYU campus because that's where most new missionaries go. But then he decided not to which is okay by me. I mean BYU campus is way too far gone anyway for me or any missionary to try to save, especially those Villa dwellers, there is no hope there... Anyway, I am serving in Linden (pretty close to London...) and Pleasant Grove. We cover four stakes with about 30ish wards in total. My trainer is Sister High from Calgary Alberta, Canada. And yes, she does say "aye". My other companion is Sister Finau from Western Samoa but unfortunately she is being transferred on Wednesday and we are getting a new sister. But I get along with them really well and we are doing a lot of teaching here. We teach a lot of children whose parents are less active and so they weren't baptized when they were 8. They are probably my favorite to teach. This one boy is 9 and he is autistic but he is so smart and the only reason he didn't get baptized when he was 8 was because he was afraid of water. But he has been taking swimming lessons and will probably get baptized by the end of the month.
Sunday was pretty crazy. I went to a stake correlation meeting, a ward council meeting, gave two talks, taught a combined YM/YW lesson and then went tracting and teaching for the rest of the day. It was really busy but really fun. You are probably wondering right now why we go tracting in Utah. Well, the sisters opened this area just 3 months ago because no one was really serving here (it was part of a really big area) so now we are just going around knocking on all the doors and trying to get to know everyone. A lot of the people are members but some are able to give us referrals and also people who are less active. There are also a surprisingly large amount of excommunicated members here as well. But they are always really nice and some of them are even willing to hear the lessons. We are actually teaching an excommunicated person tonight which should be interesting.
Anywho, I'm not really sure what else to tell you... Members feed us every night which is nice. At first I didn't have a bed but then they brought me one. Oh, my mission president's name is President Pitts, as in the plural of Brad Pitt. He is really nice and I am pretty sure he is like best friends with all the apostles because he always talks about them so off-handedly like, "Oh, I forgot to call Elder Ballard back." Who forgets to call Elder Ballard back? So yeah, he's pretty cool and really nice. Oh as for the subject - that is the slogan of the Royal West Martial Arts School in my area. I felt it really helped combine the ideas of fighting and family unity quite nicely so naturally I made it the subject if this email. 
So my mailing address is:
Sister Kathryn Smith
2520 North University Ave #100
Provo, Ut 84604
But don't feel obligated to write me. I mean I know you are all super busy with your lives and I'm just a mere memory to you so if you don't get around to it it's fine. I probably wont cry. Well, I love and miss you tons! Don't get into too much trouble while I'm here.
Sista Smith

The Dream Team.....

Hello all!
I hope everything is going well! Some of you have definitely stepped it up this week with your writing skills and I am thoroughly impressed!  Keep it up! When I get to England it is going to be 98 cents to send me a letter so embrace the free mail while you can.
As for going to England, I still haven´t been able to apply for my visa because I am still waiting for ¨sponsorship approval¨. No one really knows what that is exactly and I can´t ask my travel agent because I think I am annoying her. If someone wants to google it and let me know that would be great! But I am scheduled to leave for England a week from today, which probably wont happen. Today I´ll go to the travel services desk and ask them if I am going to get a temporary reassignment. If they say I am then the apostles will get together and issue me a new temporary reassignment. But everyone at travel services has assured me that I will get to England soon. Especially the girl that I met there that served in Leeds and got back about a year ago. She was super excited to meet me since most England missionaries dont come here. But if I do get a reassignment I will tell my roommate during breakfast who can relay the info to JPSY and Kelan and who then can tell the world.
Anywho, I suspect most of you understand that the subject of this email refers to my current status on the volleyball court. Early last week I was invited to join the ¨Dream Team¨ which consists of some elders from my zone and I accepted the invitation readily. We all understand that we are super good and can´t make the other teams look bad so we concentrate more on the style of our playing rather than the quantity of points we obtain. Some of our moves including kicking, punching and karate chopping the ball over the net. Clearly, we are having the most fun. Two of the elders on the team are from Hawaii and they are hilarious. One of them is really short and small yet he is like a little beast. He hits the ball harder than anyone in gym. The other one I like to refer to as the gentle giant. He hits the ball really lightly and it goes super high in the air and if the ball is coming at him really fast he´ll just move away. They are all just sweet spirits.
Speaking of sweet spirits, the elders are truly living up to their sweet spirit status this week. So far we have reviewed how many stamps to put on envelopes, had a mini geography lesson (just the basics), and also discussed the goverment system in the United Kingdom which involved explaining  that there was a queen and we also discussed Princess Diana with them. Obviously, it has been a successful week with them. But really, I love them and they really are great elders!
So other than that the week has been pretty boring... just kidding!! Classes are going really well and the time has flown by soooooo fast! I can´t believe I only have a week left here! We are learning so quickly and so well. We have two ¨teaching appointments¨ a day which are woth fake investigators and I can tell that I am getting a lot better at asking questions and really applying the lessons to the investigators.
Also, one thing I forgot to say last week is that Ann Dibb came to speak to us during relief society and she is President Monson´s daughter. Her lesson was really good and then afterwards she let us ask questions about President Monson and it was fun to hear about him from her perspective. In a nutshell, he is a great man and is just as much fun as he seems.  I don´t have my notes with me or otherwise I would share more.
Things are going better with my companion. We are still working on getting ready faster in the morning (and for those of you who are saying ¨I told you so¨, I am actually the first one in my room ready in the morning). But other than that we are getting along. We are definitely different though. She is a little bit more girlier than me and a little bit more dramatic, but hey who isn´t (insert question mark. the keyboard is messed up...)
So yeah, other than that there is really not too much going on. We do have to move into a new dorm room today because they are starting to do construction on the one we are in. It seems kinda silly that they would move us in and then move us out a week later but its alright. The elders are going to move all of our suitcases and what not so it shouldn´t be too much hard work.
Well, I should probably bounce because I am running out of time and I think my laundry is going to be done soon. But I love you all sooooo much and I miss you! Oh, one of the things we are not suppose to call each other is ¨guys¨ so I want you all to try and not use that word. It is a lot harder than it seems! I love you and miss you tons!!
Sister Smith
P.S. Please forward to the appropriate individuals. And I think I got Grandpa´s email wrong in my memory so if you could forward him this and last weeks that would be wonderful!