Monday, December 22, 2014

A Wedding, a Night in Bethlehem, and a Baptism!

It has been a wonderful weekend, started with a wedding, a Night in Bethlehem, and topped off with a Baptism. Our Elders are amazing!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Party

We had a wonderful day today! Started with a great District Meeting and then off to Fort DeSoto Beach for the Mission Christmas Party. A sister in one of the Stakes hand painted these beautiful ornaments for all of the missionaries. Another Stake made cute Christmas stockings for all of the Elders and Sisters. Great food and wonderful company. Loving the mission.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

First Baptism

Had an absolutely beautiful day today. Our first experience with a baptism from first lesson taught to the font. Our Elders are amazing and so happy for Danielle.

Elder Smith, Sister Smith, Danielle, Elder Anderson, and Elder Farley

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I can't let this day come to a close without saying Happy Thanksgiving to all of my family and friends. Each one of you mean so much to me and I am so grateful for all of you. Last night's sunset was a great reminder for all of us in Florida of how blessed we are to be here. It was spectacular!

We have had a wonderful day!  It started with District Meeting with a group of amazing missionaries.  They teach me so much and inspire me to be better and bolder. We then headed to Sarasota to have dinner with the Senior Missionary Couples. We ate at an Amish restaurant and crossed over the bay on the amazing Skyway Bridge. We came back home and I was able to cook for these five inspiring Elders. None of us were really hungry, but they were great company and it was good for me to be able to cook. 

I am so very blessed to have such a great opportunity to be here serving the Lord. It would be a lie if I told you I didn't miss family and grand kids, but I wouldn't trade this season of thanks for anything. The Gospel is true and the greatest blessing of all is our Savior Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Settled into the Towers - Letter 11/03/14

Hello Everyone,

Hope this finds everyone doing well and enjoying the cool temps.  We have had a great couple of weeks.  We have finally settled into our own place and we are quite liking it, in spite of the walls and walls of mirrors.  The view is absolutely amazing from our deck and the sunsets are breath taking.  Today was P-day so we spent some time cleaning up the apartment, I think Dad is in heaven with all the glass and mirrors to clean and shine-up.  The floors are all wood laminate so he likes to dust them frequently, so not a lot of vacuuming, just dusting.  Today we had a fisherman that waded out into the channel up to his waist and was fly fishing.  It was fun to watch, he didn't catch any fish that we could see, but they were sure jumping all around him.  Big fish!! We could see the birds, pelicans,and osprey swooping in to catch the fish too. We went shopping and picked up quite a few things.  Seems like we have spent a ton of money just trying to set up house.  Our address is:
                         7050 Sunset Dr.  #1109
                          South Pasadena, FL  33707

We would love to have letters and notes...hint...hint.  I thought I could cover the many mirrors with kids art work.

We have been sitting in with the Elders, they are teaching a young woman who is 23, so they need to have someone with them.  It has been a wonderful experience. She was a self referral, so the Elders just contacted her and she was ready to be taught.  She has investigated the church quite a bit, watched pro and con off the internet.  The very first time we met with her she said, "I believe it is all true and want to be baptized", so she is pretty golden.  The Elders are amazing and do such a great job teaching her.  She came to the Branch Trunk or Treat last Wednesday and had a ton of questions for me.  It has been so great to answer her questions and get to know her.  She came to church on Sunday and is very honest and forthcoming with her questions.  She saw the picture of Esther in the Relief Society room and had questions about her.  
We had a "break the fast" on Sunday also.  Tons of great food and it was so nice to be able to visit with the members.  Sister Caphart made her famous sweet potato pie and it was soooo good.  I had my first taste of collard greens with ham and cornbread.  Yup,  love this southern cooking.  The people are so warm and friendly to us and each other.  We had some that did not stay and some that came just for the meal.
We have been working with the Branch leaders, trying to get to know them and see what their goals are for the Branch.  Our Branch Mission Leader is in his early 60's and had a stroke about 3 weeks before we arrived.  We have met with him, but he is still recovering, he has been to church the last two weeks and is coming along really well.  We have about 6 Branch missionaries to work with but have not wanted to step on toes so we are just working with the leadership council first.  They are giving us names of people they have not seen for awhile or that could really be visited and invited back to church.  
We attended District Meeting on Wednesday with all of the missionaries in our District.  There are about 8 companionship's. They are all so amazing, well trained, and knowledgeable about the Gospel.  The Sisters from St. Pete called me on Tuesday morning last week and invited me to attend a special Sister's Conference with them.  It was so nice to be included.  I'm not sure I was supposed to attend, but I went anyway.  President and Sister Cusick did a special training just for the Sisters.  It was so good and he centered most of it around the talk by Elder Jorg Kiebingat - "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence".  It was so fitting for these young sisters and this one old sister.

They are keeping us pretty busy, we have two meetings this week in Tampa at the Mission Office.  We have transfers and they want us to attend the New Missionary Training on Wednesday and then the transfer meeting on Thursday.  It will be fun to see how the whole thing works.  Wednesday will mostly be training on the Ipads.  Our mission is one of the few that have them.  They are so valuable, I don't know how they could do what they do without them.  What a blessing it is for the missionary work.  When they talk about Hastening the Work those little things are sure going to help it happen so much faster.   
Our mission has started a new program to help the missionaries help the members share the Gospel and help get the full-time missionaries some referrals.  They call it "Sunday Game Day"  the first week they did it they had over 765 referrals, that is more than they have had the past year from the members.  It is pretty exciting to see it happening and watch the members feel a part of missionary work.  The members do not feed the missionaries here. President Cusick's theory is that when you feed the missionaries you feel like you are doing your part,or share, of missionary work. We all need to be doing more. The only way the missionaries can eat at a member's home is if they have an investigator or someone who has been inactive for a very long time, invited to be there also.  He says it is time we quit taking the Gospel to people like "pizza delivery guys", giving them a piece of the Gospel when we visit them. They may feel satisfied for awhile but have not had to make a commitment.  We can really see what he is talking about.
Well I had better wrap this up and get ready for bed.   It was so good to Facetime with most of you on Saturday.  Hopefully this week we can catch the rest of you.  We have the internet now and it seems to be working pretty well.  Thanks for the letters and updates on your families.  Please keep me posted on how everyone is doing.  We love you all so much and pray for you everyday.

Love Mom and Dad

Sun setting on the Gulf of Mexico - taken from our apartment deck
So many inlets and islands everywhere
The sisters and I at the conference on the beach
The Elders and President Stretch at the Trunk or Treat
The Elders did a "trick" for the other set of Elders, now they want to make pumpkin pie
The brick streets in Old Gulfport city
Dad on the beach in shorts

Sunday, October 19, 2014

We Made It!!

Hello family and friends,

We wanted you all to know we made it to the beautiful state of Florida safe and sound. I'm just going to give you all a little rundown of what has been happening with us since we left all of you.  After spending a great conference Sunday with Jared and Mary we headed off to Provo. We checked into the MTC on Monday morning at 10:30.  It's hard to imagine that was almost two weeks ago.  The MTC was amazing and such a great experience for us.  We learned so very much, like how to approach people with boldness, how to and why we commit with the phrase "will you", and of course how plain and easy the scriptures are to teach from.  There were 84 Senior missionaries in our group.  It was one of the largest groups they have had in quite awhile.   That made it a little hard to get to know very many of the couples but we did make some great friends.

There was another couple from Idaho Falls, the Crandalls, they will be serving in the Tallahassee Florida Mission.  We also had another couple that were going to the Tampa Florida mission.  They were an older (older than us) couple from the Provo area and this is their second mission.  I really was surprised at how many Senior Couples were heading out on their third and fourth missions.  Speaking of older couples, we are pretty sure we were the youngest couple in the bunch, even with me turning the big 60 at the MTC.  Most were well over 65 and I would say most of them pushing 70.

We had a wonderful devotional on Tuesday night with Elder Neilson of the Seventy.  He is over the Mission Department and gave such a great talk.  He said there were 2,000 missionaries at that Devotional and before they are finished serving they will bring three stakes into the Church and baptize 10,000 people.

He brought out 11 points for all missionaries.  He started with 1- You are normal  2- You can do hard things 3- It's not all about you  4- your companion is on your team 5- teach people not lessons 6- you will have another adjustment when you reach your mission  7- the heavens are open to everyone 8- you are the connection to heaven for an investigator 9- "Will  You" invite to change? 10- your righteous efforts will produce change 11- it is all about YOU. Go and become!   I really enjoyed it!

We had class everyday from 8:00-4:30, we were so not used to being given so much information and sitting all day long.  By the time the day was finished we were pretty toasted.  It was good but it was tiring, realized how old we are getting.

We left the MTC on Friday afternoon and headed to Colorado.  We stopped that night in Glenwood Springs.  The next morning we took off for Denver to see Frank and Georgiann Koscis.  We spent the night with them and had a great visit.  Headed for Kansas City the next night and then on to St. Louis the next morning to see if we could find Aunt Beth.  It was pretty fun to just show up on her doorstep.  We were so glad she was home and we were able to see her and meet her two grandsons Ethan and Zach.  We didn't stay long because we were under a tornado watch and it was raining like crazy. We drove on to Paducha, Kentucky and went to the National Quilt Museum.  I really enjoyed it and dad paced the hall watching the rain pour down and the wind pick up.  They decided to close up early because of the storm so we hit the road again.   We made it just south of Nashville and stopped for the night.

We would have loved to have stopped a little along the way but it was so blasted rainy we wouldn't have been able to see anything. It rained all the way for us until we stopped in Ocala, Florida for the night.  We were about 1.5 hours from Tampa.  We got up the next morning and made arrangements to meet with the housing director and President Cusick at 11:00. We didn't get as lost as we thought we might so we were early to meet them.  President Cusick is very young, probably in his early 50's, very nice, and I believe he has a great handle on what his task is.  We were able to see Elder Dallin Snell while in the Mission Office, he was preparing to come home on Saturday.  It was a bit of a heart breaker.

We were given our area assignment, some materials and information, and sent on our way to find an apartment.  They have put us into a temporary apartment in Clearwater until the end of the month.  It is very nice and the furniture is very nice. It is about 45 minutes down to the Branch so they want us to find something closer to our area.  So searching for an apartment is pretty much all we have done since then.

 We are assigned to the Gulfport Branch in the St.Petersburg Stake.  President Stretch is the Branch President, he is a cute little old man with very unruly hair.  He reminds me a little of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.  He has a great love for the members of his Branch and a strong desire to see this little Branch become a Ward some day.  He has lived here for 38 years. They have their own building and it is very nice, quite new, small, clean and very nicely decorated.   He had a couple of apartments for us to look at, but we were lead to believe they were maybe not in the safest neighbor hoods.  We have seen one we quite like and will probably go with it.  It is in the Chateau Towers, the condo is on the 11th floor and the view out the West window is breath taking.  We will be able to sit and watch the sunset every evening.  The apartment itself has a real 70's decor about it with lots of mirror tile on all of the walls and light colored hardwood laminate in all of the rooms.   We looked at another apartment that I like, it is much more modern and neutral, but does not have a great view.  Their are also a lot of law students that live in these apartment so the possibility of parties is strong.  They are both two bedroom so we will have room for anyone that would like to come and visit - hint hint-  We will make a final decision tomorrow.

We wondered around the area yesterday and today. We went to Madeira Beach, had lunch at a little fish house.  It was very yummy!  Yesterday we tried Cuban Sandwiches at a little shop in Old Gulfport.  The weather has been beautiful, mid 70s with a nice breeze not to much humidity, although my hair would tell you differently.  (Can you say bush woman).  I think we will really love it here and can't wait to get started on the real work.   We are excited to meet the people at church on Sunday.  I will attach some pictures or send them separately.  We have no internet just my "hot spot" on my phone so it's not great.

 One scripture they shared with us at the MTC has become my favorite.  It is Matthew 19:29:
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."   Not that we feel like we have forsaken anything but I do know we will all be blessed because of us serving.

 We can't wait to get some decent internet so we can FaceTime with all of you.  We do miss you and love you so very much.  Thank you for your love and support. We will let you know as soon as we have an address.  You can send stuff to the Mission office and we can pick it up there.  13510 North 42 Street.  Tampa, Florida  33613.  Email is great and so is texting.  I have NOT been given any rules yet so I, guessing it is all free game until we hear differently.

Mom and Dad

The rain storms

 Aunt Beth with Zach and Ethan, so glad we found them!
The buildings on the left are the Chateau Towers
 A new little house pet found on our wall tonight.  He was so tiny!
This would be our view every evening, not too bad and I think I can live with the mirror tile for this view.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Elder and Sister Smith spent five days at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo, Utah, learning and being trained on how to be effective missionaries.

Elder Smith at the MTC