Monday, March 23, 2015

2 Weeks into 1 email

A lot has happened in the past two weeks and I'm going to try and fit it all in. I must admit my emails have become a journal of sorts but I've been doing better at writing every day in my paper journal.

Two Wednesdays ago was our zone training. I conducted and did my training first. I spoke about consecration and obedience as well as remembering Jesus Christ. At first I was disappointed I didn't get to train on the area book and planning, but my segment turned out really well. I practically put together a bunch of things I've learned from past leaders, and I used a cool handout I got from my great-grandfather Elder Patterson. 

I love talking with everyone. It's something I didn't understand when I was a young missionary and I disliked doing it. Now I don't think there's anything better than striking up a conversation with someone I come across. Two weeks ago we were out doorknocking and we saw three girls walking in the middle of the road/parking lot and I felt like we needed to stop them. I kind of startled them by yelling a "Hey" to get their attention. After exchanging pleasantries we found out that one of them was a former investigator who had previously gone to the KUB for 6 months. While we talked about the church she chimed in to share her experience and testimony of the Book of Mormon and other principles of the gospel. It was a very interesting experience that could have been passed up if we were too nervous to walk up to them and say hello. 

The rest of that week was spring break, so proselyting was a little slower. We also got assigned to clean out an old apartment which was pretty time-consuming. Despite little time working in our area we still found 5 new investigators. We're now teaching one of the WMU football players, Andre (we also found him by going out of our way to talk to him in the parking lot). We also got called up out of nowhere by a member's friend who was previously too busy to learn from us. He called us during break and said he had nothing better to do so we went and taught him. Turns out he loved the Restoration and is progressing well. 

THIS week was pretty nice. Since we didn't have p-day Monday we proselyted instead. We picked up a former named Cody as well as his friend from Grand Rapids. 
On Tuesday we did a lot of finding since our usual appointments fell through. We pc-ed into a music major who sat down with us right away. We taught him a super shaky plan of salvation but surprisingly he wanted to meet again. He loved the Restoration and wants to get involved with the church. He shows lots of potential so we're excited for him. We also followed up with Sujith Dudekula, a student from India we doorknocked into. 
On Wednesday we did trade-offs with Sturgis and I was on campus with Elder Pace. We had a full teaching day, and we also found two new investigators that dropped us the next lesson. They were kind of into the "Holy Roller" thing so we were probably too low-key for their taste. 
On Thursday we had interviews with the President and trade-offs with Battle Creek. I was with Elder Stewart, my former companion's trainee. We had too much fun for the days we were together. He is super funny and could make me laugh pretty much at any point. We also taught a bunch of great people, including Yvonne Jones. She's an older lady that's been investigating for years. She remembers all of the missionaries that ever taught her and she loves the Elders. She even told me about how Elder Reheis promised he'd take her on a plane ride one day. 
Saturday, all of our appointments fell through and we went to the tail end of the YSA conference at the KUB. We helped prepare food and eat it as well before the fireside. We then got to see the Lamb of God. 

EVERYONE. If you haven't heard it, you should. Listen to the soundtrack. It's the most beautiful thing ever. I pretty much know that I want to be a musician when I grow up because of Kalamazoo's performance of the Lamb of God. 

Sunday was stake conference, and Elder Cook of the Quorum of the 12 came to Kalamazoo! It was the best thing ever. I had to trample some old ladies but I got to shake his hand. What an action-packed weekend. 

OK, sorry for longest email to date but that's pretty much my life for the past two weeks.

Here's some other news though; we've fallen out of contact with Alex. He was ready to go but something must have happened during break. We warned him of opposition/anti to the extreme and kept in contact with him throughout break but he hasn't responded for over a week now to any of our calls or texts. All prayers would be much appreciated! WMU has been one of the best but hardest roller-coasters of my mission. I've been privileged to teach so many prepared individuals that seem to fall to the wayside just before they're about to make it. It's one of my greatest weaknesses, but I am coming to understand the role of agency in the Plan of Salvation. 

On a positive note, I know God lives and His plan is perfect. At the end of the day, we have the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of the miracles and joys of bringing others into the gospel is just icing on the cake after that. I love Jesus and I can't adequately describe my gratitude for His eternal, atoning sacrifice. I think I understand better after hearing the Lamb of God in person, though.

Love you all! Stay strong and do what is right. 

-Elder Kent Schmutz

Monday, March 9, 2015

Come On! Feel the Illinoise

Hey everyone! This week was swell. If you haven't seen on facebook, I went to the temple again on Saturday to support Long Chen for his endowment. It was super awesome! The temple is so awesome.

This week was action packed! I told you last week about our zone baptismal date goal...We hit it, of course! 21 out of 21, right on the dot. 11 of 15 areas contributed to the goal which is also really awesome. We celebrated today by getting together as a zone to play basketball, and the assistants even came over from Lansing. Too much fun!

So we saw some pretty incredible miracles in our area this week. I already told you we found Nikesh again, so that was sweet. On Tuesday we were at MLC so we discussed topics for our zone training coming up this Wednesday. After we got home we went doorknocking at 58 west. We felt inspired to knock building 5 and the second person who opened the door was Ashley. After we exchanged pleasantries she let us in right away. We talked to her and got to know her. We taught her half of the plan of salvation and she was blown away. At some point in the middle of our lesson she told us that the night before she had prayed that God would send someone to talk with her so she could change her life. For the past six months she has contemplated being baptized. She told us practically her life story and how she lost faith with God but knew she needed to get back in touch with Him. It was a powerful lesson and a huge miracle from Heavenly Father from what I think is a result of our goal. We set a baptismal date with her in May and we taught her 3 (almost 4) days in a row. The only obstacle so far is that her grandpa is the pastor of her church and it will be very hard for her to transition to a completely different faith.  All prayers would be much appreciated!

We actually didn't talk to many people this week because once we started finding, we got let in for a lesson. We also found this sick couple named Terriana and Tommy. They let us in and we taught them the Restoration. When we asked them what they wanted to get from our meetings, Tommy told us he wanted to learn to say better prayers and Terriana wanted to develop faith in God. She told us she knew little about religion but wanted to have a faith in God. Right from the beginning Terriana looked at the back of the pamphlet we gave her, and she asked, "do you do baptisms?" We were like, "Yeah", and she just got a fat grin on her face. When we showed her a picture of Joseph Smith receiving the priesthood, her face lit up and she was like, "So Joseph Smith received the priesthood authority that was lost after the apostles were killed?" And we were like, "Yeah". Both of them accepted a date. After we explained what the Book of Mormon, Tommy asked, "Where can I get a copy of that book?" and Elder Marley just set one in his lap and was like, "this is your own copy". He was ecstatic. We set a date with them for May as well. Before we left, Terriana said, "Hey! Could you write the day of our baptism on the back of my pamphlet?" and we were like .

So there you have it! It should be another good week. I'm feeling excited for zone training. You won't hear from me next week since we need to switch out a P-day for going to the temple. Spring Break has begun for WMU so things will be getting interesting over here. Other cool thing: our investigator Alex went to church in Colorado by himself and really enjoyed it. The gospel principles class was on Adam and Eve which is just what we learned so he added lots of insights to the class. He probably brought up Adam being mighty Michael or the Ancient of Days because that is definitely what got taught at the KUB last week. #MilkbeforeMeat. 

Love you all! I am so happy to be a missionary and I love you all. Jesus Christ is so involved in this work, because it is His church. I am far from being perfect consecration, but if we give our all to building the Lord's Kingdom we will find true happiness. 

-Elder Schmutz

I forgot my camera. You'll see pictures on FB. 

Love you all

Monday, March 2, 2015


Hey everyone, it's been a good week! Elder Marley and I are having a lot of fun at WMU already. The work is good and I am so happy to still be here in Kalamazoo!

Alex is doing super well. He's come to church 4 weeks in a row and loves it more and more every time. He told us he feels very comfortable at the branch and is excited for baptism. Sierra also came to church and enjoyed herself. Fast and testimony meeting was powerful as always and in gospel principles we learned about Adam and Eve. It's one of my favorite doctrines to teach as a missionary! We learned in class that mighty Michael was Adam or the ancient of days. Way too deep for gospel principles but our investigators and less-actives loved it! We had break the fast after and everyone had a great time.

We have fallen out of contact with Kirstin. It has been heartbreaking to see someone progress so far and then fall off for whatever reason. My first thought is, "what more could we have done?" but in the end people have agency and I can't change that nor should I want to change that. Just as Sister Voyles (in the district) explains, seeing others use their agency poorly helps us know how God feels about us when we make poor choices. He has a lot of patience for each of us.

Elder Marley is a great companion and I imagine he will spend time at MSU in the future as an assistant. MAYBE he can go AP after this transfer and I'll get to stay her for another transfer! That would be a dream come true. We have already had some cool miracles and I'm excited to keep working hard here. During my time here I've been so focused on the result of our missionary work that I've lost sight of the most important part which is the process of conversion.

Saturday was probably the highlight of this week. In the morning we had breakfast at the Bertolina's with all the members of the branch plus some less-actives and non-member friends. There was a long conversation about the dress illusion and it got pretty heated. Later we got dropped off by our father Long Chen at a place we were going to doorknock. We had him choose a place for us and when we started knocking, the fourth door we knocked on we got let in. We taught Andrew the Plan and he really enjoyed it.

In between key indicator call-ins we went to follow up with some people at an apartment complex and we found Nick again! He was happy to see us and he is looking forward to coming back to church and meeting up.

OK last thing. We set a goal for 21 new baptismal dates thoughout the zone by the end of this week and we're already at 5. I'm excited to update you on it next week! Last last thing: we're probably going to go to the temple again this weekend with Long Chen for him to receive his endowment. WOOP WOOP

Love you all!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

Hey everyone! This was a super eventful week and I'm going to try and pack it all in this email because I don't have much time.

Transfer calls! From talking to other missionaries, no one saw the results coming but me. I'm staying another transfer in WMU and Elder McMurtrey is being transferred to whitewash/train Battle Creek! My new companion will be Elder Marley, he is coming from Holland which makes 3 missionaries in a row that to from Holland to WMU. (Me, Mac, and Marley) I saw Elder Marley at our last training and I told him he was going to come serve in K-zoo with me. CALLED IT. I am beyond ecstatic to stay at WMU for a 5th transfer. I'm a lucky dog.

Saturday: Went to the temple with a member of the branch, Kiersten Meales! She joined the church a couple years ago and is becoming reactivated so we got to go to the temple for her to receive her endowment. You can see all of the pictures on Facebook, I'm not going to bother posting them through email. It was incredible to go to the temple after 18 months! I was dying to get there and it was so awesome. I never would have thought I would go to the Chicago temple during my time in Michigan, and I'm really glad I got to go thanks to the new rules. I'll probably go next month with Long Chen and Chris Bates when they receive their endowment. 

In other news...We got broken into last Monday night! We left our apartment at 6 for trade-offs and interviews with Sturgis, and when I and Elder Erekson returned, I knew right away we had been broken into. Our stuff was kinda thrown around; they clearly went through all of our stuff pretty thoroughly. They climbed up our balcony into the unlocked sliding glass door. They stole an expensive watch from an elder, our Microwave, vacuum and broom (who would steal a broom, IDK), my companion's GPS, stamps, and a single dollar out of my wallet. I accidentally left my wallet and they just took the cash I had which was very little. However, they did steal my nice Timbuk2 bag from Celia and Benson which was saddening. They didn't steal my scriptures though which was a miracle. Although it was pretty wack and it sucks getting stuff stolen, I feel very fortunate that they didn't take my scriptures or whole wallet. 

Our interaction with the police officer that came was pretty hilarious. He had lots of questions about our rules and why on earth we were together for only 24 hours and had to stay within sight and sound of each other, etc. Elder Erekson invited him to learn and he got wayyy sketched out but it was a pretty fun and funny experience. 

The area is doing good. Alex decided he wasn't ready to get baptized this weekend, but he is super solid and will be baptized soon. Kirstin is having a lot of family issues and wasn't in town. She still talks to us though so that's a plus. Tomorrow is her last day at OG we're pretty sure so once she's outta there we'll be able to teach her and get her to church. We picked up a lot of other great new investigators and we're seeing them progress really nicely. 

Love you all! Have a great week. 


Monday, February 16, 2015

Well Hey.

How is everyone? Things are pretty good here, it was a crazy week because of the weather. We are in a rush so I'll try to keep it brief (but it never happens). 

The highlight of this week was our training with Elder Nash. We thought it wasn't going to happen for a bit, but it did. We had a training from him yesterday and it was very good. 

Last Monday us and the K1 Elders went to the mall and got some really cool pants at Banana Republic for a good sale. We did a photo shoot (pictures attached). 

We did a trade-offs with St. Joseph on Thursday night with the plan to trade back on Saturday morning at Elder Nash's training. I had a great day with Elder Giar, we did some finding earlier in the day and then taught investigators and less-actives for the rest of the evening. I really like all of their investigators, they're teaching some really cool people in St. Joe. When we got home from the evening my companion called to tell us that Elder Nash got cancelled until SUNDAY because of a severe weather warning. Our exchange got extended about 30 hours. The weather was so bad we couldn't leave our apartments for some of the day. When we did, we luckily got let in by investigators and other less-actives when we stopped by. We also went and visited this super cool member who plays percussion! After we taught him a lightning lesson he let me play his marimba/drum set and we jammed out for a sec. That was a pretty sick tender mercy. We talked for quite a while about all of his close friends in the drum corp world (Scott Johnson, Ralph Hardimon, etc.) basically people I idolize.

So that's it for this week. We need to jet off because we're doing a bunch of baptismal interviews tonight in Sturgis. The zone should have 10 or so baptisms this weekend, including one from us!

Love you all,

-Elder Schmutz

Banana Republic Models in the Middle of a Snowfield.
P-Day Well Spent. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Church Wasn't Cancelled!

Not much has happened since I updated you last on Wednesday! Thursday was pretty slow. Our investigator from India no-showed probably like 5 appointments this week because we can't understand him over the phone. That's cool though! Makes for funny moments. We had dinner with dad Chen on Friday followed by teaching an investigator with three members. It was pretty sweet. We also had stopped by sports night before teaching Kirstin the word of wisdom. She took it like a champ, but we knew she would. She didn't get to church this week because her boss is psycho and her coworkers wouldn't take her shift but the (kinda) good news is that she had such a horrible day at work that she put in her two weeks notice! It was great, she needs to get a job that will allow her to honor the Sabbath day and keep it Holy. 

Saturday we walked around everywhere and did some quality finding. We also went to Insomnia Cookie (have I told you about that?) and we got ice cream sandwiches. I almost died because it was so rich; I only got through half of mine before giving up.

Sunday was super good! Since Break the fast/Bring your friend to church day was cancelled last week, we had it yesterday. Not many of the members were there but us and the sisters had a few investigators. President and Sister Jacobsen came and visited for the sister's investigator's confirmation (he got baptized Saturday!) so it was good to see them. Our investigator Alex and a new investigator Tony. Alex stayed the whole time and made tons of friends, it was great! We had two lessons on agency but both of them were really good. We had a turkey dinner/lunch after and had tons of fun! 

In other news, we got called by some girl from Iowa that tore her ACL and has to get surgery so she's back home (in Kalamazoo). She ran into some other Elders on campus two years ago and kept their number and called us. Her roommate in Iowa was mormon and got her to read the Book of Mormon and she loved it! She called us last night mid-hysteria (we think she was on pain-meds) but we're hoping it will be a good teaching opportunity and we're not just getting punked or something.

Love you all! The mission is great. We're having some good laughs and being obedient. I learned again this week that I need to not freak out over things I have no control over. The lesson I must learn over and over again is patience, I'm sure of it. 

-Elder Schmutz

Did I already send you this picture? Can't remember.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Quick Update

Hey everyone!

I didn't get to email you until now because Kalamazoo got hit really hard in a winter storm! We were practically snowed in for all of Monday and everything was closed anyway. I was on trade-offs yesterday so here I am now. 

This last week was incredible for mission work! On Monday we went to FHE and our investigators came and loved it. We started trade-offs with the assistants in the evening, and I got to stay at WMU with Elder Green! We had a great day full of teaching. Missionary work has changed quite a bit since our last training. We spend less time tracting and personal contacting and more time teaching the members. We got more referrals this week than I have in the past transfer. In the evening we taught Dontreal who prophesied to both of us. That was pretty great. 

Wednesday was slow, but we got a really solid referral from a married couple in K1 ward that want us to teach their best friend. 

Thursday we did trade-offs with K2. I was in K2 again with my MTC companion Elder Safley! We had a pretty good but rather cold day. We picked up a bunch of referrals from this lady on the street we started talking to. She wasn't interested but when we asked about her neighbors she basically pointed out to us which of her neighbors needed the Gospel or had recent life changes. We picked up a ton of potentials as a result; that's why you ask everyone for referrals! We also got let into this guy's house named Phil McNeil. Super prepared. We taught him the Restoration and set a baptismal date with him. 

Friday we were in Battle Creek doing a blitz. We were supposed to be teaching the rest of the day when we got back but everyone fell through. A busy day nonetheless. 

Saturday was really cool! We were walking and we talked to two people total that whole day and we picked them both up as investigators and set baptismal dates with them. It was a very cool experience; this is God's work, not ours. The rest of the day was spent teaching other lessons and helping a part-member family move.

Sunday was SUPPOSED to be "Bring your friend to church" day. We woke up and it was snowing hard; it had already snowed a good foot. Church got cancelled and I went hysterical because we were supposed to have 6 investigators there AND it was going to be a great finding experience. Oh well. God had other plans. We got permission to do a little sacrament meeting with the district AND Kirstin came. That was super cool. The Spirit was strong. The rest of the day was spent doing call-ins and helping other missionaries get around without dying (we have a truck so it travels well in severe snow storms). 

Monday we were snowed in and weren't allowed to drive so we played this nerdy/super fun game called Munchkin with the K1 Elders that live right by us. 

Quick update turned into a journal entry. Sorry! In other news, my new nephew Sebastian is super cute and I love his face already.

Love each of you. I'll send some pictures next week!