This is my first letter since the phone call and so I want to reflect on what a wonderful experience it was. I'm still kicking myself for not figuring out ahead of time how to record it. Those were priceless moments and memories we'll have to make sure and record in our journals at the least. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. I could tell that Sam and Ben were loving seeing their big brother again. I'm not sure you know what a powerful influence you have on them and what a positive impact it is on their lives to lead the way into the mission field.
I was especially struck by your own conversion story as you went through the crucible of doubt and came out with a refined testimony on the other side. I could certainly sense the struggle at the time but of course no one can be converted for us. Thank you for the powerful testimony you bore and for your choice to believe. It will have repercussions for generations to come. We love hearing the details of the people you meet, your companions and the little details of your mission.
I think we might have mentioned on the call that we dug up the front yard. Included a few pics for your viewing pleasure. Ben was a trooper and helped me all day long to cut out and haul the sod to the dump. Also captured a pic of Tutti Frutti for Sam's birthday. He managed to fill up a $17 yogurt!
A couple of months ago Tyler mentioned to me that he was reading a book called "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". I was interested and so I picked up the audio CDs from the library and have been listening to it. It is quite fascinating and pretty deep, but one section in particular really got me thinking. The book is essentially the story of a father and son on a motorcycle trip across the country and the thoughts the father has and shares along the way. One thought he discusses is the idea of "gumption". It is kind of an old fashioned word but he defines it like this: "A person filled with gumption doesn't sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He's at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what's up the track and meeting it when it comes." It is a similar word to "enthusiasm". I was reminded of it last night in our Stake priesthood meeting when we watched the Mormon message called "Strive", another great word. The next thing he discusses in the book is what he calls gumption traps and states, " the thing that must be monitored at all times and preserved before anything else is the gumption". I think over the next few letters I might share with you some of the gumption traps he discusses as I think they are very relevant to our ability to be successful and happy. If we can learn to push through the struggles and setbacks and keep our "gumption" and enthusiasm high, we can accomplish most anything. I think it is part of the formula for opening ourselves up to the help of the Lord as he is most interested in us becoming like him and as we do, he magnifies those efforts.
There, I've given my speech for the week :) One of the pictures I've attached shows one of our YM activities where the priests and the deacons built a "Monkey" rope bridge. The kids had a great time on it and Sam was the 5x winner of the challenge to knock everyone else off.
Life carries on and we love it. Full of experiences and setbacks that we get to conquer. We are excited that we got our development permit on Friday. That allows us to move ahead with ordering the house and doing a bunch of things to get the building permit in place which will open up the whole flood gate of things to do to actually build it!
Exciting times, Elder Smith, both at home and in California. Hope and pray that you will be filled with gumption this week!
Wow! the yard looks great! and I am so excited to be able to come home and see everything that has changed.
I am with a new companion in the Saugus 3rd ward, his name is Elder Thorpe, we both got together and are whitewashing an area, which means that we are going in blindfolded, we replaced sister in this area and have been lost every single day so far this week, we do not have a GPS and are relying on a map for guidance, it has been such and adventure and it is really so much fun, Elder Thorpe and I get along really well which has made this transfer super great so far, we are co-district leaders together and have had such a great time teaching and going out and working together, I am in a ward full of people that are really friendly to missionaries and they have given us food every day so far, our dinner calender is full and everything is great, the problem with having such a great connection with my companion is that we will talk a lot, and will often get to bed late, so I have recommitted myself to being on time for everything like studies and bed and knocking.
I have set a goal, I am trying to get out of my shell more, I realized that I have the habit of really wishing I could talk to someone but then second guessing myself until I miss the chance to have a good conversation with someone that could have influenced their lives, so I have dedicated myself to talk to people even if its awkward, especially when it is awkward, so that I could learn to come out of myself, I read this talk that said that we are always changing no matter what we do or how we do things, even if we are doing nothing we are changing, and you can either change for the better or change for the worse, so I choose to change for the better. I am going to talk to people I choose to act before i start second guessing myself, so I can be a more social person. I have also been learning about being bold and challenging people to do things that will benifit them.
I challenge you all to break out of your shell, when your passing someone at work and feel you should talk to them don't let doubt pull you back, talk to them. if you feel like you should knock on your neighbors door before that doubt sets in knock and say hi. Put yourself in those awkward situations so that you can teach yourself how to act when your are called upon to do that, walking out of school from seminary, talk to someone, after activities talk to someone you wouldn't usually talk to, invite that girl you like on a date "Sam" (not to single anyone out Sam) at Acro you can speak to someone in your class that is shy, the time is now that you must step out of your shell. So do it, Act,, become who you need to be. No more excuses.
I love you all, and will be expecting a report next week Sam, go on dates!
Me and Elder Wilson doing crafts and me giving service I lost my favorite tag as you can see.
Oh my goodness! So much has happened in this week and I only have 4 minutes.
I have a new companion, His name is Elder Thorpe from Ogden Utah, he is a pretty neat guy and is really outgoing, I am in Saugus California and am doing a whitewash of the area, which means we replaced two missionaries by coming in here, so we are both new, we both don't know what we are doing and are both doing great! we are loving the challenge and are working hard to progress the Lords work in this area, It is hard but rewarding, I know this is such an important thing for me to be doing and am excited to get out of my shell and talk to more people.
As a goal I have chosen to talk to more people, and that can be awkward and I second guess myself a lot, but I am going to put myself in those situations to be better, because you are either changing for the better or for the worse.
Love you all