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!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How I Lost My Companion.......

Hello Family!
So, I made it to the MTC! And, first I would like to give a shout out to kelly who sent me my first and only letter that I have received so far at the MTC. But don't worry, I still have 2 1/2 weeks here for you all to step up to the plate and send me a letter. You can even go to dearelder.com and do it there. It's very simple and very appreciated.
So, the first couple of days here haven't been bad at all. All the elders told us when we came here that the first four days were the worst but they have actually gone by pretty quickly for me. We are in the new pilot program here which only about 3 zones (out of a lot, there are 3 districts in a zone, and about 8 people in a district, and 2,000 missionaries at the MTC. You do the math, I don't have enough time). So the new training program is focused on teaching investigators rather than teaching lessons. Usually, missionaries only teach a couple times a week at the MTC but we teach multiple times a day. It's pretty cool and I know that all the practice will help me a lot more than just learning the lessons.
My companion is Sister Watts and she is super nice. She was a little overwhelmed the first couple of days but she is doing a lot better now and I think that she'll be okay. However, like I said in my subject there was a a wee-bit of a rough patch where we lost each other. I had to go to a meeting yesterday with the Zone Leaders because I was assigned to be the new coordinating sister for our branch. After the meeting the zone leaders brought me back to my classroom where I was suppose to meet my companion and the two other sisters (Sister Pierce and Sister Edmonds, who are also very nice) in our district but they weren't there. We waited but the fireside was starting soon and we were going to have to go to the overflow room anyway so we left. Then after going to the fireside with the elders I went back to the classroom and waited a few more minutes and luckily the sisters showed up. I guess they decided to go to the fireside early to get good seats and they saved me a seat there. So yeah, that's how I lost my companion for multiple hours.
So yeah, the classes are going really well. All my teachers are really great, a little intimidating right now because they know so much, but they help out a lot especially when we are teaching lessons. We are the only sisters in our whole zone which is cool and the elders are all really nice. One thing I have learned about elders is that they are such sweet spirits. They are a little naive to the world especially since a lot of them haven't lived away from home yet so doing things like laundry isn't their strong point but by the time they leave they are good to go.
Gym is probably the most relaxing part of the day since you don't really need to focus on anything, like falling asleep. I play vollyball with some of the other elders and sisters and I almost serve the ball over the net everytime. You would all be very proud of me, I know.
I haven't heard anything about my visa yet but I am going to go to the travel services desk today and see if they can help me figure it all out. I know I didn't want to come back to Utah at first but it was good to see all my friends again (especially Jack-attack) before I went into the MTC. I have also seen many of my friends that work here whether its in the cafeteria, the security staff or they're teachers. It makes me feel good when people yell Sister Smith across the room to me and I get to see a bright smiling face excited to see me. I even saw this boy (who's a teacher) who I randomly met last year when we started talking on campus once and at that point he had gotten home from his mission from England like a week before. We hadn't talked since then but we recognized eachother and he was super excited that I was going there.
 So yeah, everything is going really well. The straps on my carry-on bag broke when I got to the SLC airport but they have bags like that here so I think I will be okay on that front.  I leave here on March 14th, and hopefully I'll be going to England then but if not then probably somewhere around here until they get my visa figured out. Everyone in my district is going to texas and there is one other elder who is going to Scotland who was also suppose to go to the MTC in England but is waiting for a visa.
Well, my time is running out but I love you all very much and don't worry about me. Everything is going super well and I know this week is going to be even better. Love you and miss you tons!!
Sister Smith