Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas, Transfers, etc.

Merry late Christmas to you all, and have a happy New Year!

We got transfer calls on Friday. I was pretty much 100% sure that we weren't going to be moving around, but Elder Peterson is going to Bay City (20 minutes away, in the same zone) and I am going to be training in Midland 2. I am excited for this opportunity and I'm excited for the work in Midland. 

The Holidays were really good. Christmas eve day was actually a really good finding day -  we picked up a new investigator named Chris. Everyone was busy but very nice and said they wanted us to come back in week or so (after the New Year, etc). On Christmas eve night we spent time with the Henson's; Sister Henson is a ward missionary and Bro Henson is hilarious and well-read in church history and religious texts. We had dinner with them then they enrolled us in a dress-up Christmas story (picture included) and then they had presents for us. I love the Henson's. On Christmas we spent most of our time going around to Part-members and less-actives to carol and give out Joy to the World DVD's. Then we had Christmas dinner with the Jones' family - Bro Jones is our Ward Mission Leader. Their kids were in town which was fun, they all attend BYU and live in Provo. We played some games with them and had a merry time with them. They also had gifts for us which was so super nice. 

As far as teaching lessons went, this week was tough but we did a lot of door-step teaching and great potential finding. We set a date with Nick, Heather's son. He's doing alright but he is having to deal with anti stuff from his aunt. I don't know where people get the idea that we worship Joseph Smith or sacrifice children in temples (concerns we've had to work through). 

That's about it! I love you all very much and I think about you all of the time. I am excited to report about the work in the upcoming weeks in Midland and I hope that I can make a good impression on my "boy". Does anyone have any advice for me? I'd appreciate it if you do. All I know is that I want to continue to work hard and get better, and have a great time while doing it.

Happy New Year!

-Elder Schmutz

Elder Peterson was the angel.
I was the sheppard.
Alex was the donkey (buffalo pelt).
A cousin of the Henson's was the wise man, and the children played Mary and Joseph.
 It was a great time. 

I forgot to write about everyone else in the District, too. Elder Peterson is going to Bay City as I said in my big email. Sister Wamsley (sister in the front) has been in Midland for 9 months (half of her mission!) and is going to Portland. The other sisters are staying together for another transfer. Elder Heffner is going to Greenville and he's way stoked. Elder Derricott (my district leader) is training in Midland 1. Sister Empey (who was with S. Wamsley is getting two other sisters with her. She's excited because one of them is a Visa waiter so she'll have someone to practice Portuguese with.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas (week)!

Happy Holidays to you all! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas full of laughter and cheer and other good things. 

This was a very personally meaningful week. Two Fridays ago we had 1/2 mission training and focused a lot on finding. This week I finally realized what it means to teach while you find and find while you teach. Finding and teaching are inseparable activities, one and the same. I felt I had overcome a huge thing when I realized that I really love and enjoy knocking on doors now. 

This week we found many potential investigators and picked up some solid new ones. Most exciting thing this week -  we felt prompted to stop by Franky/Ansley's again on Friday. They are a referral from members, and we've talked to Franky once briefly and he didn't seem very interested and we've tried to contact them several times since then. I was surprised when Ansley opened the door and let us in right away. They were super friendly and we taught them a really powerful Restoration lesson. They are going to read the Book of Mormon together. Way cool. 

We also picked up a former named J.J. - He's met with the missionaries once a week for a year-and-a-half for a long time. He was dropped by the missionaries the same time last year. We talked with him and he is way cool - I think he knows many of the doctrines of the church are true but he struggles to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet. We're going to try and help him with that - it'll be tough. He's a very smart man and an ex-pastor. 

Funny/long story now. The other investigator we picked up this week is named Patrick. Elder Derricott and I knocked into him two weeks ago and he told us to come back another time because he was sleeping. We went back on Thursday and he let us in. I don't know where to begin with Patrick. He's a 50-year old man with a huge beard and scruffy hair, and it is very hard to understand him. He whispers everything he says and repeats it over and over again. Later in the lesson he whispered to me that he is clinically insane, so that should set the tone for the rest of the story. When we walked in, he sat on his couch and started writing numbers in no particular order in a grubby notebook. He told us he writes code for the military to make money on the side (sketch). He was listening to club music on the radio and was watching Fox News on TV which was a pretty funny mix to me. I asked if we could turn it off and he said that was fine. After that, I asked him some questions and his answers were unintelligible. Elder Peterson and I asked him to speak up and we tried to listen as best as we could but it was impossible to understand him. I asked to use his bathroom (I needed to compose myself). When I came out the first thing I heard was Elder Peterson asking, "So what was it like to see God face to face?" Patrick told us that statues and pictures of St. Peter, Mary, Jesus and God come to life and he speaks with them and we could believe it or not, but it was the truth. We didn't argue. He also talked a lot about Esau and having multiple wives (not sure in what context). We gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read it. He said he would, and he already believed that Christ's ministry in America was recorded in the Bible (When Jesus was walking on water, he was just getting back from Central America). We said a prayer and got outta there. It was an awesome experience that I will treasure forever. 

Now that that's done with, I had a few other cool realizations this week - Prayers can be guided by the Spirit. I've read so many times that the "Spirit...teacheth a man to pray" (2 NE 32:8) and finally realized what it meant. I did the personal prayer evaluation in Preach my Gospel and have been allowing the Spirit to guide my prayers. My relationship with Heavenly Father has increased tremendously as a result. I've also been praying for charity and strength for obedience. So yeah, that's cool. 

Me and Elder McGraw, my zone leader. He graduated from Timpview a year before I did so my Provo friends know who he is.

Thanks Amy for the mustache/lollipop!

My desk space

Fresh to Death

I thought I'd include a picture of our fun little Christmas tree. Thanks Amy for the decorations and string of lights, they were perfect for the tree.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Almost Christmas, What da Heck?

So, first of all, Heather got baptized this Friday! Yaay! She is the best. For those of you that are familiar with "The District", her baptism reminded me a lot of Amor Robles. Before she stepped into the water she started to cry, and after coming up out of the water, she looked up at everyone and smiled a big smile. She got confirmed this Sunday which was a really good experience. Heather is a champ- she's gone through so much in the past but she's making huge changes in her life. She is very humble and loves the Gospel. We met with her last night and asked her about how she feels about the church besides her whole family not supporting her. She said that the Church was the best thing she's ever found in her life, and she thanks God that the missionaries came when they did because they were an answer to her prayers. 

That's about it. We've been knocking on doors a lot. Most potentials we find say they'd love to talk AFTER the end of the year which is kind of frustrating but good as well. If people were for real about meeting with us after the holidays we'll have like 20 new investigators after New Year's. Looking forward to that. 

I am way out of time, p-days are crazy. 

Love you all! Be well and have a merry Christmas.

-Elder Schmutz

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Merry Christmas From Midland, MI

Hey there!

Good week. Heather is still progressing and will be baptized this Friday. We met her 13-year old son Nick for the first time and we're going to start teaching him on the weekends when he's in Midland. 

We've been doing a lot of finding. This week we didn't have a lot of outward success but Elder Peterson and I feel good about our efforts and are determined to work hard and find the elect that the Lord has prepared. 

I think the theme of this week was finding amazing, kind people that have no interest in conversion. We door-knocked into the Marcou's who have listened to, fed, and loved the missionaries for 15 years since their daughter converted. They told us right away not to get our hopes up because they're not converting but they're going to feed us dinner this week. So yeah, they're awesome and love the missionaries.

We had a very similar experience with Kathy and Richard. We door-knocked into them and they let us in right away. We kinda stood there for a sec because we didn't realize they were inviting us in. They were just finishing lunch with their Catholic friends who attend the same congregation from down the street. They fed us pumpkin bread and herbal tea (it was hilarious to watch Elder Peterson drink his herbal tea, it was his first time having tea of any kind). We talked a while about our families and ourselves. Eventually, their friend asked us to "explain our religion in a nut-shell". We taught the Restoration and had a great discussion. They all kindly declined any invitation or commitment of any kind, but we still had great conversation. Richard told us to let him fix or tune-up our bikes whenever they need it. They are awesome people. I think the most significant thing of our conversation was when they asked if we could say a closing prayer. We all held hands (it was normal-feeling this time) and Richard said the prayer. He addressed Heavenly Father, thanked God for our blessings, asked safety to come to us, and closed in the name of Jesus Christ. This was a humbling experience for me. I think I had categorized them as trinitarians (a big obstacle around here) but we talked after and I realized that they believed in what we call the Godhead. So that was a cool experience.

So aside from everything else, the Midland Nativity Exhibit was amazing. It was this weekend all day every day where over 600 nativity scenes are displayed for the public to see. The whole building was full of Christmas trees and lights and unique displays. So that was awesome. We hosted a room on Friday and Sunday and that was really nice. No one asked us about Gospel-related things (we were instructed not to start such conversations) but I think it was a good use of our time. The Spirit was strong and many non-members smiled and greeted us as they moved from room to room. 

I'm running out of time, so that's about it for now. I love you all a lot and you're great! I hope you all got to hear the Christmas devotional, because it was awesome. Honor the Savior this Christmas season by reaching out to those who need love, comfort, and a higher purpose in life.

-Elder Schmutz

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 2 - Midland

Hey friends and family! This was a fantastic week. The Lord has been blessing us with bounteous blessings that I feel unworthy to be given. I feel I have learned a great lesson on gratitude and relying on God and His Spirit in the work. Mission work would be impossible and unendurable if the Lord was not in it. He is. I know that very strongly. 

Heather is progressing really well still. She came to fast and testimony meeting yesterday and had a very powerful experience. Truly, things have not been going well as she's been investigating the church. She's faced endless opposition it seems (darn Satan). Heather is very humble and thankful for the Lord's blessings which has also been a big lesson for me. She is just great, and will get baptized December 13th

We also had a miracle find that was a huge blessing! This Tuesday we went to follow up on a potential, but ended up talking to her older sister-in-law, Christa (26). At first she was pretty stand-offish and was like, "I believe that there is room for everyone in Heaven, not just 144,000." So we were like, "That's the Jehovah's Witnesses..." This opened up further discussion that led to us being invited in. When we walked in, her dad and not-even mom-in-law gave us a very cold welcoming. We ended up going downstairs to talk away from the others that weren't so interested in us. Christa cried for a while and apologized on behalf of her family and also expressed some serious discouragement concerning religion. The pastor at her church had recently been put in jail for serious crimes, and this had shaken Christa's faith which she was feeling guilty about. We used the Book of Mormon to work her through many of her questions on faith. This lead into the Restoration and how the Book of Mormon came to be. She was way excited about all of the points of doctrine, especially that there is a modern-day, living prophet that we know and sustain. We're excited about her and she is excited to learn more. Also, her Dad came in and out of the conversation and realized that our intentions were good and ended up apologizing for his and his girlfriend's rudeness. His girlfriend was still super rude when we left, but oh well. I think we're going to end up teaching Christa, her kind-of sister Courtney, Chris (her dad) and her ex-boyfriend Tony. So yeah. Miracles happening there. 

Other than that, our week was filled with finding and getting to know some of our investigators and hunting for potentials from the previous elders. 

THANKSGIVING WAS GREAT. We did weekly planning, then our Ward Mission Leader called us to come over and help prepare for Thanksgiving (that's where we had Thanksgiving). It was the best! Along with Bro/Sister Jones was the Jenkins and their 5 kids and a widowed Sister, Sister Doring from our ward. It was a blast and the food was very good. After eating we went out and met with some less-actives and recent converts until it was time to go back for dinner (dessert) at the Jones'es. My favorite was the blueberry pie (the Michigan blueberries make ALL the difference, Mom. I finally get it now). After having dessert the Jones'es requested that we play some games with them, the first being "Guess Zoo?" which is a matching game for ages 3+. It was pretty funny because it reminded me of getting into some heated Matching games with my parents, so I felt right at home. We also played Bananagrams. I really struggled because the whole time I worried about spelling inappropriate words which says a lot about my pre-mission vocabulary (I am in sore need of repentance, I guess). The Jones'es are great and I will get a picture of them when Christmas comes around because they're having us over for Christmas too which I'm way stoked about. All their kids will be in town which is fun because they're all college-aged and/or married and at BYU.

The holidays are great. The Midland wards put together a Nativity Exhibit every year that features over 600 Nativity scenes from all over the world. Last year like 2,000 people came through the doors to see the exhibits. It's a huge deal around here. Expect pictures next week. 

I LOVE CHRISTMAS-TIME SO MUCH. Have a blessed December and remember to keep your holiday cheer focused on the Savior. I've been studying the New Testament/reading Jesus the Christ and I'm blown away by the fact that I do not know and love Christ nearly as much as I have previously thought. Always remember to take part in and appreciate His love and eternal sacrifice in any way that you can. Pray, study His word, and worship Him always and LIVE LIKE HIM. 

God bless you, friends and family. I LOVE YOU SO SO MUCH.

-Elder Schmutz

Monday, November 25, 2013

Greetings from Midland, MI

Hey family and friends! I am now in Midland Michigan and have been since last Tuesday. Everything I heard about Midland before I came here was basically a perfect summary of the town. Everyone works for DOW or DOW Corning, and the Ward is fantastic. Midland has two wards with two sets of missionaries in each (I am in the 2nd Ward). We have tons of support from the members and our ward mission leaders and missionaries are very involved. Way excited for that.

White-washing has been a challenge, but very rewarding as well. We first got here having no clue where anything or anyone was and we knew no one. Now that we've been scrambling around for the past few days I feel we have a pretty good idea of what's going on in Midland. It was also difficult transitioning from having many to teach to knocking all day every day. I learn every day more and more that this Gospel is very precious to me and the Spirit truly does testify and comfort. 

One of the greatest sources of comfort has been Heather Hale. Heather is a soon-to-be single Mom with a 13-year-old boy and two young girls, 4 and 3. She was raised Baptist and has always had a strong faith in Christ and the Bible. She is going through a difficult divorce and was referred by a friend to the missionaries. She's been taught almost everything by the previous Elders and has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and everything we teach. I'm copying and pasting what I wrote to President Hess: 
We taught Heather Hale twice this week- she is the investigator with a baptismal date. She is progressing really well and is excited to learn more. She got anti'd by her therapist of all people but we worked through those things with her and she is still confident in her new beliefs. She is going through a really tough time with her divorce but has found amazing strength in the Gospel. 

Heather truly is going through many great trials, but her whole life has been turned around by the message of the Restoration and the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This has been a huge comfort to me because every day we face almost constant rejection and coldness. However, I know that there are people like Heather that desperately need our message but don't know where to find it and don't even know how much they need it. This is what will keep me moving forward as we have a lot of door knocking ahead of us.

The Lord and the Spirit truly are in this work. I have felt the Spirit comforting me and testifying of the truth of our message more than I ever have, I think. One of my favorite chapters of the Book of Mormon is 2 Ne 2, and I love verse 11. 

For it must needs be, that there is an aopposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad...

On Saturday we were knocking on doors and came to one that had a card on the door that said "No Solicitation". We see these frequently, and it doesn't stop us from spreading the word so we knocked on the door. A man came out and seeing us, immediately pointed to his "No Solicitation" sign and asked/yelled at us, "Can you read?" I didn't say anything: this was the first time that someone seemed to categorize us as solicitors, so I was amused and probably stared back at him with a dumb-founded expression. Elder Peterson said to the man, "We're servants of Jesus Christ sharing a message about him." I don't remember what else Elder Peterson said because the man screamed over him, "Get off my porch" with several words in between. We walked off after telling him to have a good day. He continued to scream profanities at us as he slammed the door. After we had walked away for a while, the man came out of his house and continued to yell and swear at us. Elder Peterson again told him, "we're just sharing a message about Jesus Christ" as we walked away to the next door. I was pretty crushed over the situation, since this was only the second time I've been yelled at since I've been on my mission. I was so discouraged, in fact, that I thought about asking Elder Peterson if we could take a break from knocking. I didn't though, and we moved on to the next door. This door had a scripture plaque hanging on the front, something from Ephesians I think. We knocked, and the man let us in. This man, Matt, was very kind and loves the Bible and talked to us for a while about his beliefs. He has met with the missionaries several times before and enjoys talking to us. We talked to him on topics of baptism and the Godhead, and got into a friendly debate/discussion about it. At the end we invited him to read the Book of Mormon and set up a time that we could come by again. 

I have seen several times so far on my mission that whenever something really discouraging happens, the Lord blesses me with comfort in some way soon after. Now, I hope I don't mean to be self-righteous when I say this but after being yelled at by a really mean person it was quite comforting to talk to a really kind person that has a portion of the truth but is clearly confused without the fullness of the Gospel. The trials and opposition I've faced in the past week have helped me to understand more deeply the righteousness and holiness of this work, and the Gospel. I've come to see the unending goodness that the Lord has blessed me with, and I realize now that I need to appreciate those things more.

I forgot to say a bit about Elder Peterson. He's from the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. He is great. He takes great pride in the fact that we are so young, and even greater pride in the fact that he's a transfer "older" than I am. He does not get discouraged by door knocking which is perfect for me. He was completely unaffected by our experience with the old man which was kind of scary (I was pretty bummed out about it) but his example was very strengthening. I have a lot to learn from Elder Peterson. 

Well, that's about it. Midland is great. I'm excited to work hard and find people to teach. I hope all of you are doing well. I love you, and I hope you know that the Lord loves you more than you or I can comprehend. God is good, and God is love. 

-Elder Schmutz
Here's a picture of me and Elder Petersen

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm Goin' to Midland!

Well, I was surprised to see that all of my family already knows the transfer news (Sister Ongert told Mom), but I'm being transferred to Midland. I will admit, I was surprised that I'm being transferred. Elder Reheis for the past couple weeks was telling everyone that he was sure he was leaving and I would stay and I started to believe him. Heh. I'm very excited though. I am white-washing Midland 2 with Elder Peterson. I haven't met Elder Peterson (I'm still in Spring Lake, leaving this afternoon) but he sounds great and I'm excited to work hard with him in Midland. From what I've heard Midland has two big wards with two sets of missionaries in each. That will be really cool I think, I'm stoked in general! It was tough to say goodbye to the people I've taught but now I am just way excited to get to my new area. I'm even packed up already (that sucked).
So, Tuesday we had half-mission training with Elder Golden of the 70. He was the greatest and his wife was really sweet. He blew everyone's mind talking about mission work and that was a really powerful experience. The Spirit was very strong. President Hess made an announcement early in the training that Spring Lake was going to become the new area for zone leaders and the Grand Rapids zone would be split. This was way exciting- Elder Reheis and I were sure that meant we would be adding two new missionaries into Spring Lake along with us. Now that I say this I'm surprised that I was suprised about the news.

Elder Reheis (pronounced Re-"hi"-sss) is staying in Spring Lake and is becoming a Zone leader. He is going to be zone-leader trained by Elder Larsen, who has one transfer left and he's leaving (he's been an AP for the past few months). I'm way excited for Reheis, and also really excited for Larsen because he was trained here like me. He's going to be born and "killed" in Spring Lake which is pretty unique and cool.
It was an amazing week other than all this stuff. Most importantly, Kilian Storm Daniel Jacobs got baptized on Saturday. There was an excellent turn-out and coolest of all, Hamish got to baptize Kilian. The first time Hamish said the prayer he forgot the "of's" and the second time he forgot to put his arm to the square. The third time was perfect. For all we know he could have messed up on purpose so he could immerse Kilian three times, which he did perfectly each time (heheh). But seriously, it was beautiful. I was very honored that Kilian asked me to do the confirmation the next day which was really nice. Man, I love the Jacobs and the Ongerts quite a lot. I'm going to miss them.
What else can I say? I'm excited.

For the next week or so send mail to:
 1400 Abbott road. ste. 310
 East lansing, MI

You're all great and I love you. I have to get going, not much time today.

-Elder Schmutz

Here's a picture of the district. 
In the front (L-R) is Elder English, Sister Procopio, Elder Gledhill, and myself.
Everyone else other than Elder Stoker (jumping in the back) (L-R) is Sister Young, Sister Pyper, Sister Braun, Elder Donofrio, Elder Reheis, Sister Harris, Elder Harris, and Sister Pierce.

A picture of me, Hamish, and Kilian at the baptism.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nearing the End of A Transfer...

This is the last week of the transfer! It's been fantastic, we're going to end up baptizing five people just in this transfer which is a huge blessing. I'm super excited/nervous for transfer-calls this Friday because it is likely that Elder Reheis is leaving. We've had a great time in Spring Lake together and I'm excited for the things that are coming anyway. It is likely that I will stay in Spring Lake for another transfer (that's what I hope at least). 

It was a great week. We had a great lesson with Kilian at the Ensign's home on the Restoration and the Priesthood. He is ready for baptism this Saturday which is way exciting. Even cooler is that Hamish was ordained a Priest since he turned 16 this Sunday. He will be baptizing Kilian which will be an amazing experience for all to see. It was so heart-warming to see Hamish pass the sacrament this week. 

Other than Kilian being a boss, we set three other baptismal dates this week. I had a great trade-off with an even greenier greenie, Elder Stoker, in which we set a date with Venessa. Venessa is the fiancee of Carlos, a less-active. She is a sweet Spirit, that's for sure. She has had three sets of Elders teach her and she's never found much motivation to work for baptism so we hope that we can can change that and help her in any way possible. Elder Reheis and I set a date with Trevor, our favorite medicinal marijuana grower. He has a strong desire to be baptized but has many concerns with the "rules" of Mormonism. We're excited for him though, and his family is way stoked I'm sure (they're recently converted members in Battle Creek). We also set a date with Rosalie, Tony Lee's new wife. She came to church this Sunday and brought her 18-year-old son Dalton as well. They are great and we love them. Rosalie will be baptized pretty soon here (December 4th). Her last obstacle for baptism was giving up coffee but we committed her to stop drinking it last Tuesday and she has stopped since. She says that coffee has been harder to give up than her smoking. 

That's the biggest news as far as the work goes. On Wednesday (after district meeting) and Thursday I did a trade-off with Elder Stoker. He's a Visa-waiter who actually got his visa to Brazil and was shipped off yesterday, but anywho he's a great missionary (he came out a transfer after me). We had a great two days and had some really powerful lessons. One was with Venessa- we finally got something through to her and re-committed her to baptism. We also had a really powerful lesson with the DeVries. I don't know if I've told you much about Paul, but he's a less-active member who is super sweet and way cool. His family has been listening to missionaries for like a year and they love the Gospel but for whatever reason can't commit to changing churches. This week I made some flash cards for teaching the Plan of Salvation that has been helping a lot. They enjoyed the lesson and I think we got Sister DeVries really close to committing to baptism. They are super sweet people and love Jesus Christ. They gave me a pair of knitted booties (see picture) that are amazingly comfortable.

That's about all the news I've got. I've come to realize that all missionaries have something that makes them stick out. For instance, Elder Reheis is freakishly tall and really likes girls. I think I'm becoming the missionary that everyone else thinks is a psychopath that really likes making up visual aids for any lesson. Elder Reheis tells me he's concerned that I talk to myself and laugh at my own thoughts and jokes way too frequently. Also, whenever we're preparing a lesson I try way too hard to include a visual. I also need to lay off on sarcasm. Repentance is a process. 

I forgot to tell you all a couple more things. Last Monday, I was at the mall buying boots and stopped in at Homestead or something like that (I found some really nice Rockports on sale).  and the sales associate asked us what our tags were about. We said we were missionaries of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and he was like, "No way, I was baptized in your church at the age of eight!" His family was active in the church until his parents split up and he moved from Salt Lake to Michigan. He's been looking to come back now that he's older and was way excited to see us. His Mom doesn't want any contact with the church but we're still stoked about meeting Trevor. He is a great guy and is only 5 days younger than I am. 

Another tender mercy- today we hung out with the Ongerts. They took us shopping and got me a SICK tie. It's the coolest tie in all of the MLM, fo real. We also had lunch with them and had a blast. They are such a blessing in my life. I love them so much. 

Well, that's it, folks. Love you all. I wish I had something inspiring to say, but all I know is that I love being a missionary and I don't know how to fully express it. The Spirit is fantastic and it's such a blessing in our life. Always strive to be worthy of the Holy Ghost's presence and things will turn out all the better. God loves us. That's all.

-Elder Schmutz

the picture is of me right before comp study sporting my amazing new sweater from Celia and Benson and my home-made, knitted booties from Sister Devries. 

Elder Reheis hates when I call them booties or slippies. He also hates when I use the word "fragrance". Arizonians are so weird. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What A Great Week

Hey family and friends! Good to hear from y'all again. 

There are some really exciting things going on in Michigan. The Lord is in the work and things are going really well. Yesterday was a wonderful Fast Sunday, and we're already seeing results of the fast for mission work throughout the whole mission.

I was in Holland earlier this week with Elder English. It was a good, busy day and I got to meet Bro Rose. Bro Rose's wife is an active member and he is an active investigator. He's been coming to church for a long time, but didn't want to get baptized until he had read all of D+C and the Pearl of Great Price. He's wonderful and knows the Book of Mormon is true. Yesterday, I found that he wants to be baptized this Saturday! That was way exciting to hear.

I don't remember if I told you about Alicia, but she's a college student who has studied the Bible and showed up to sacrament meeting a few weeks ago. We taught her for the first time this week on Halloween. We taught her the Restoration and talked about the Book of Mormon. She is way stoked to read it and pray about it. Woo!

We also taught Jasmine Malcolm the Restoration and invited her to read the Book of Mormon. I am so excited to teach her the Plan of Salvation next time we see her.

I was on trade-offs with Elder Leavitt (one of our zone leaders) this Friday in Wyoming. He is an amazing teacher. The first appointment of the day, we went to go see an inactive member, Gary. Before we sat down, we saw his wife (nonmember) Peggy in the hallway. She told us she wasn't feeling well and that her sister was dying of cancer as we spoke. Before she could leave to her room, Elder Leavitt asked her if she had ever talked with missionaries about the Plan of Salvation, she said she hadn't. He then told her that was exactly what she needed at the moment, and that talking to us would bless her life. She seemed off-put, but said she was going to go lay down for a while then she'd come out and talk. We talked with Gary for a while about the Atonement until Peggy came out. We then taught them the Plan of Salvation. It was amazing to see- when we started teaching Peggy was indifferent and clearly upset and angry. Within the hour, her countenance completely changed. She cried and expressed her love for God and her family. Her heart had been softened by the Spirit and she accepted an invitation to baptism. That was an amazing experience.

OK, here's a kinda funny story. Last night we went to try and start teaching potential investigators. Pete and Jessica, a young couple, invited us in which we were way stoked about. As we were preparing to sit and teach, their pitbull Rosco escaped out the back door and ran off. So, instead of teaching we helped them find Rosco. Elder Reheis and I ended up walking back behind the house for an hour in some deep woods. I fell into mud which was pretty hilarious. When we gave up and headed back to their house, we saw that they had found him and were sitting outside with him on a leash. They saw me and the muddy mess that I was and felt bad for me. We're going to go see them and actually teach them later this week. 

Well, that's about it, folks. I love you all and you're amazing. Thanks for all of the mail and packages, I don't deserve all the kind things you do for me. I pray and think about you all the time.
Much love, 

Elder Schmutz

Monday, October 28, 2013

How is it Monday already??

Yep, this week was crazy fast. Tuesday was quick because I was on trade-offs with Elder Gledhill. We knocked on lots of doors and found a few people that were really excited to meet us. We gave out lots of copies of the Book of Mormon. Elder Gledhill is an amazing doorstep teacher and I learned a ton from him. Wednesday was interviews with the mission president and district meeting. My interview lasted a total of two minutes- I told him that things were good and he sent me on my way. District meeting was nice as well. Thursday was all about contacting potential investigators. We have talked to a lot of people on the doorstep that wanted to meet with us again but we haven't talked with them since. It's somewhat frustrating, but I'm not letting myself get discouraged. We taught the Ongerts and had a really good talk with them. They're great and I love them to death. Friday we went and saw Trevor again. He is a sweet guy and really hilarious. His sister Lauren was with us during the lesson. Elder Reheis taught Lauren and her family in Battle Creek and their members. It means a lot to them now that Trevor is listening to the missionaries. Anyway, Trevor is awesome and he owns lots of guns. We went over principles we previously taught and answered questions. It was a great lesson and lots of fun, too. Saturday was the ward Trunk or Treat/chili cook off. That was lots of fun. I was a little disappointed because we invited all of our potential investigators and they said they would be there then didn't show up. The members invited friends though, and mostly we got to have a friendly, good time with the ward and other people that showed up. After the ward trunk or treat, we went and contacted a referral we got from Elder/Sister Harris. We met Ryan and Jasmine, who invited us in and we talked for a while. Ryan served a mission in Provo and we're now teaching his wife. They are both great and really fun. Ryan's favorite band is 311 so we get along great (heh). Sunday was a wonderful Sabbath day. Church was great, we knocked on doors and taught Kilian. He is progressing beautifully and will be baptized November 16th by Hamish. Woo! Usually I bring my journal so I can remember all the stuff that happened but I forgot to this week. Sorry.This week zoomed by and we're so blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives. The members are fantastic and we are blessed to meet more and more wonderful people every day, whether or not they're interested in the Gospel. Heavenly Father is truly in the work and he is watching over me and all of us. I love the Gospel and I know it's true. I love you all! Thank you for your emails. We're working hard and loving it out in Spring Lake. I pray for all of you every day and I think about you lots. Keep being great. -Elder Schmutz I've been talking about the beautiful fall and haven't sent a picture yet. This one is right outside our window at our apartment. Elder Reheis found this picture in Battle Creek in his desk. When I first saw it, I laughed for 5 minutes straight and almost threw up because I couldn't breathe. I think there's something wrong with me. Then again, I think you all already knew that

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Jacobs' Baptism

Dana Bignall and her two kids Madison and Hamish Jacobs got baptized and confirmed this weekend! I got to baptize and confirm Dana which was a really cool experience for me.
The ward in Spring Lake has been responding amazingly to the people that we've been bringing to church. Everyone has been really supportive of the Jacobs. Mission work is great!
This Thursday, we met the Jacobs at the Ensigns for dinner and for a spiritual thought. After that, our zone leaders came and did baptismal interviews. At one point, everyone was sitting in the living room chatting while the zone leaders were interviewing Dana and Hamish. I took the opportunity to talk to Kilian about the Book of Mormon and what we believe. I expressed that we were impressed with his decision to wait until he was ready for baptism and knew it was the right thing. When Dana was done with her interview and sat in the living room, a few minutes later Kilian made an announcement. "Mom, I want to be baptized!" This news was celebrated in shocked silence. Eventually we got talking and set a baptismal date forNovember 16th.
We set the date for the 16th because the week before, Hamish will be ordained a Priest and will be able to baptize Kilian. What an amazing experience that will be! I'm so excited and the Lord has blessed me and Elder Reheis to be a part of this family's conversion.
What else happened this week? I did a trade-off with the new Holland Elder, Elder Donofrio. We had a great time knocking on doors and contacting potential and former investigators. He's from Arizona and we get along great because we're both huge video game nerds.
This Sunday was the confirmation which went really well. We had two surprise people show up to Sacrament: A girl named Alicia who is taking a Worlds Religion class and decided to come and investigate the church, and Trevor, the medicinal marijuana grower. His sister Lauren (a member from Battle Creek, Elder Reheis taught her and her family) came with him. That was a lot of fun, and lots of guys from the Elders Quorum made friends with him quickly talking about guns. Heh.
That's about it for me! This has definitely been a long week but also a very rewarding one. The Jacobs are fantastic and I love them to death. I love you all, too! It's great to hear from you all. I keep all of you in my prayers and I think about you all the time. Pray that we can find some more people to teach- we need to grow our pool of investigators!
-Elder Schmutz

Monday, October 14, 2013

Put Your Trust in the Lord

What an amazing week! I have learned that I need to trust the Lord because this is His work and he is with us. I just need to put my trust in the Lord and everything will fall into place.
I haven't told you much about the Ongerts, but I will now. Kathy Ongert got baptized and confirmed this weekend by her husband Steve Ongert. Their story is amazing and I'm going to try and tell it as best and as accurately as possible with the time I have.
Brother Ongert joined the church about 40 years ago and after a few years became inactive. He eventually met up with Kathy and they were married. They studied law together (in Texas if I remember right) and eventually they paired up and become the most fearsome divorce attorneys in the state of Texas. I believe their conversion all started when Brother Collard (counselor in the bishopric in Spring Lake) went and visited Steve. Through this, Kathy started coming to church because she felt a need to get closer to God.
One week at church, it was announced that two BYU women's rugby players need a place to stay while they attended a tournament in Michigan. The Ongerts decided to volunteer their home to keep these female rugby players. Jenny Lewis and Kayla Richardson stayed with them for a few weeks, and during that time, the Ongerts fell in love with them. Jenny and Kayla had a profound effect on Sister Ongert, and eventually she agreed to meet with missionaries.

Keep in mind, Sister Ongert is a fierce lawyer and made it clear that the missionaries that came to teach her had better come prepared and ready to teach her everything. She originally planned to investigate the church for a full two years with her first set of missionaries who she assumed would be staying with her throughout her whole investigation. She was somewhat annoyed when she found we missionaries shuffle around and leave every few transfers. Kathy was about ready to quit meeting with missionaries and study on her own when Elder Reheis (my companion) came around. When Elder Reheis mentioned he was from Gilbert Arizona, Sister Ongert asked if he knew Jenny Lewis (she's from there!) and he said he did. In fact, they grew up together and went to school together.
I guess that lead us to where we are now. Sister Ongert is baptized and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is truly converted and has and will continue to build up the church and others around her. Her conversion truly was a miracle; so many key things happened just at the right moment. The Lord is in control!
If the baptism this weekend wasn't enough, we're baptizing Dana Bignel and her children Madison and Hamish this Saturday! They're amazing and are fully committed to baptism. They're awesome! Be on the lookout for pictures of them next week. :)
Stake conference here was awesome! The Grand Rapids stake is pushing member missionary work like crazy and the members are responding already. Are you all looking to improve as member missionaries?

Woah, I thought I have been blessed in the field so far but Heavenly Father is blessing us SO much to allow us to be a part of the baptism of wonderful people. Regardless of what happens in the future, I know that the Lord truly is in this work. Whether I'm a part of another baptism or not, I can know that I've been successful as long as I work hard with diligence and obedience and feel the Holy Ghost work through me to the hearts of others.
This makes me think of a personal study activity I did in Preach My Gospel recently. Compare the story of Abinadi and Alma; Abinadi cried repentence to the people and was brought in chains before the wicked King Noah. He did as the Lord commanded and preached of the commandments and the wickedness of the people before the King. After his message had been delivered, Abinadi was burned to the stake. I don't know if Abinadi knew of the effect he had on Alma, and he may have died thinking he had no success. However, we know that his words lead Alma to repentance and through him and his son Alma the younger, NATIONS were baptized. Both Abinadi and Alma did the work of the Lord and did as God commanded them. Abinadi saw little success and was murdered. Alma baptized thousands. Both were faithful servants of the Lord and did their part.
Well, that's about it my friends. Pray always and study your scriptures. Keep being you. I love you all so much.
-Elder Schmutz

here's a picture of me, the Ongerts, and Elder Reheis on the day of the baptism. I don't know what Elder Reheis's deal is with not looking at the camera.

Elder Schmutz's "I Love Warheads" Face

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gen Conf, etc. etc.

Woah, what an amazing week. It's been a very fun but busy P-day so far. We were completely out of Books of Mormon (Book of Mormons, Book ofs Mormon...Wherever the "s" goes) so we had to travel to Holland and get some.
General Conference was amazing. I've never appreciated it so much in my life until now. A primary focus in many talks was hastening the work by bringing missionaries and members together. That is super exciting. I had two personal favorite talks though: Pres. Uchtdorf on Saturday Morning and Elder Holland's talk. Like Elder Christensen, I was brought to tears by only one talk: Elder Holland's. I didn't just cry though, I sobbed. Loudly and embarrassingly.
First of all, I love President Uchtdorf. I feel I know him personally even though I've never met him face to face. His talk was incredible- the Gospel is true and this is Christ's church. However, God works through imperfect people and mistakes have been made and no matter who you are this church has a place for you. How profound and touching. I'm not going to try and explain Elder Holland's talk, because I only know how I felt at the time and that it brought me to sobs. You should watch it/ listen to it if you didn't get a chance. That man speaks with a profound and unique power that cannot be duplicated by anyone.

Other than GenConf weekend, our proselyting week was amazing too. The most outstanding thing was our lesson with the Jacobs in the Ensign's home. Since the Jacobs have been coming consistently to church, the members have been asking us for fellowshipping opportunities. Last Sunday, we set up a dinner/teaching appointment within the home of the Coulsons on ThursdayOn Thursday morning, Sister Coulson called to cancel; she was very sick. We frantically called other members to hopefully find someone who would invite the Jacobs for dinner and a discussion on short notice. The Ensigns accepted without hesitation. Dinner was fantastic; everyone got to know each other better and it became a very friendly and loving environment. We taught a lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ; Brother Ensign studies Preach My Gospel and was able to help us teach, and Sister Ensign added beautiful testimony. As a result, we commited Dana Bignel and her younger son Cillian Jacobs (12) to baptism. Our goal is to get Sister Bignel and her three children baptized on October 19th!
This week, Sister Ongert's getting baptized. She's awesome and will (and already does) contribute to the ward and the work as she endures to the end. She has been investigating the church for 8+ months now, and she is converted. I love the Ongerts.
On a somewhat funny note, I've come to find that people we barely meet volunteer very personal information before we can tell them that it's the last thing we want to hear. I wish that I could spray my brain with Lysol and disinfect some of the confessions I heard this week. Haha (but seriously).
I love all of you like crazy. I must admit, General Conference weekend was a little home-sickening but as I continue to try and improve and work hard the Spirit comforts me. I love the Gospel, and I know it's true. 

-Elder Schmutz

I have included a picture of my first MLM district. Believe it or not, this is the best picture out of the 4 or 5 that we took.

In the front is Elder Gledhill and myself. I'm such a goober.
From left to right middle line: Peterson, Benitez (both leaving), S. Braun and S. Pierce, S. Wiberg (leaving), S. Procopio, and S. Young.
The two blurries are Elders English and Reheis.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Today is September 30th.

Like my dear friend Elder Christensen, I'm tired of thinking up clever subject lines for my emails. This way I'll have more time to just jump into my emails.
It was a great week, a blur mostly. We've been super busy and everything is going really well. All of you have asked about the weather: Yes, it is getting somewhat cold but it's very pleasant. Mid 60's-low 70's. The most amazing part is the TREES. They are changing colors and they're so beautiful and they're EVERYWHERE. I'll get a good picture one of these days to show y'all. Also, someone asked how we get around in Spring Lake (on-foot, car, bikes, rollerblades) and the answer is car. We have a full-time care in Spring Lake. It's boss and I'm way thankful for that. In Wyoming they are on car swaps or whatever so for 2 weeks they have a car then for a week they don't. That's why I got to ride a bike last week.
Anyways. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

Earlier in the week I did a trade-off with Elder English. He's a very nice, sort-of short missionary from Texas. We got along fantastically because we both love missionary work.
Side-note: I've been told by several people that I have a slight southern accent. I'm freaking out. Is this true? Did I ever have a southern accent? People frequently guess that I'm from Texas before I tell them from Provo, Utah.
District meeting was great this week- Elder Reheis does a fantastic job leading the discussions. Our Zone Leader Elder Leavitt and one of the AP's, Elder Larsen were at Disctrict meeting. I practice-taught with Elder Larsen and I received a lot of personal revelation on teaching the importance of prayer to investigators. No one can be converted without prayer, and it's especially powerful when we as missionaries can help others understand our relationship with our Heavenly Father before we ask them to pray to Him for answers. Man, I have so much respect for the missionaries with Leadership callings. They're all so unique and have different talents and abilities that I can learn from.
Madison and Hamish and their Mom Dana Bignel have come to church 3 weeks now. They are fantastic! Madison and Hamish keep commitments and are getting more and more excited for their baptism. Their mom is super nice and way friendly and is thinking about baptism as well (we've invited her a few times now). She loves church but is still looking for a firm confirmation that it's the right thing to do. Madison and her Mom went to the Relief Society broadcast last Saturday and the ward is doing great with fellowshipping this wonderful family. Also, they stayed and saw the baptism of 8-year old Lance Mabrito after church and that was a great experience for them.
I don't think I've mentioned Sister Ongert before in my emails, but she's a wonderful woman who has been investigating the church for the past 7-8 months. She's a lawyer and very smart and has been very thorough in her investigation. She is being baptized by her husband Steve Ongert on October 12th. Way exciting! I'm way lucky to see her be baptized because she and her husband have had a long journey in the past few months (Steve has been a member since he was 20 and had been inactive for a few decades). They are so wonderful and so kind and they are a great contribution to the ward.
Okay, last big news. Elder Reheis and I felt very much impressed to teach Corey and Kelle the law of chastity last week. We taught by the Spirit and did it all with love for them. They responded somewhat indifferently so I thought that we must not have made a big impression on them. However, on Saturday they called us and told us they wanted to get married! They are working towards marriage in October now. This came as a huge shock to us. I don't even know if what we taught made an impression but I'm just so happy to know two wonderful people like Corey and Kelle.
Thank you for all of the wonderful emails. I make it a point to read all of them and I love them and appreciate them like crazy. You are all great and I love you lots.
Man, I love missionary work. I'm so blessed to be a part of this work in the best mission in the world. Michigan is so cool.
-Elder Schmutz

Elder Schmutz'es "Not Quite Ready for Comp Study" Face.
Keepin' it Real in Grand Haven.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's A Seventh Day Adventist??

Hello dear family and friends! 

I seriously can't believe it's Monday again already. This week was crazy busy and super hard but so much FUN. Whoa, we've been so blessed this week.

Last Tuesday I was in Wyoming for trade-offs (Ive been in Wyoming three weeks in a row now). I was with Elder Gledhill, a solid, awesome missionary, and we had bikes that day. We got a lot done, did some door-knocking, saw investigators and less-actives. Good day. My thighs and lungs were tired though, and my butt hurt a ton. I couldn't sit right for a couple days after. 

Wednesday was half-mission training in Grand Rapids. Half-mission training was great- we got to hear the wise words of President and Sister Hess, and the Assistants Elder Snow and Larsen. It was a great day. 

Thursday was amazing. We started the day by going to an appointment that the senior missionaries (the Harris's) set up for us. We went and taught Jake St. Amor, who was in our ward directory but has never been baptized and told us he had only been to our church once or twice in California. Weird. We taught him the Restoration and he really enjoyed it. We're teaching him again this week. 
After that, we went and contacted former investigators. The first house we went to we found that the former no longer lived there, but we talked with the young woman that answered the door. At first she wasn't really interested, but when she mentioned that she had just given birth to a daugher a few weeks ago Elder Reheis jumped right into the Plan of Salvation and she wanted to learn more. We have a return appointment with her later this week.
The next house we knocked, no one answered. As we walked back to our car, two women in a black mustang yelled at us "Are you 7th day adventists?" and we replied, "No, we're the Mormons!" To my surprise, they pulled over to talk to us. The woman driving explained to us that her daugher in Grand Rapids had been "studying" us and really liked us but for whatever reason the missionaries stopped coming. She also said that she wanted to study us as well, because the missionaries had changed her daughter's attitude so drastically about church. So out of this chance encounter, we got a referral for Grand Rapids and we will be teaching two other people, or rather, they will be studying us. Man, what a blessing from Heavenly Father. By looking through the area book and looking for former investigators we found three new investigators within twenty minutes. 

We met with Corey and Kelle twice this week. They are taking their time with the Book of Mormon. They love the discussions of the Gospel that we teach, and they've invited cousins, friends, and parents to come. I think they have already felt that what we teach is true and we're trying really hard not to force it upon them. They are great and I love meeting with them. I'll try getting a picture of them. They call us their best friends and I feel the same way about them. They really like meeting with us and I love meeting with them.

You know how last week I said that everyone in Michigan has Faith in Christ, a dog, and a gun? Almost always true. Corey and Kelle have three beautiful pit bulls, a chihuahua, and a cat. I love them. I want a dog so bad when I get back. 

Funny side note, and I think I might have mentioned this last week: I have been asked twice if I know Mitt Romney. Like, of course, I'm a Mormon so I must know Mitt Romney personally. People love Mitt out here.

Sunday was great, church was very uplifting. Even better, we had seven investigators come to Sacrament meeting. The Jacobs and their mom and brother, Corey, Kelle, and Maijia. It rocked. After church I got a bad headache and so I took a rest while Elder Reheis did numbers. After my rest, we went to the Cardons for dinner. They are a wonderful young couple with two boys and a baby girl. We got along swell because we started talking about Arrested Development when I mentioned I was the "Buster" of my family. Anyway, they were great and we shared a really good message with them after dinner. 

I really love the members out here. Each time we meet with the members I'm reminded of my family in some way. It's really comforting and a big blessing. I love my family.

That's about it, friends and family. I love you all and I've been blessed so tremendously this week. I hope you all are doing well, I love to hear from you in the little snippets you send to me. Read your scriptures and say your prayers, ok? 

-Elder Schmutz

Monday, September 16, 2013

Greetings From Lake Michigan!

Hey Family and Friends! It's been a wonderful week in Michigan. Just an hour or so ago Elder Reheis and I went to Lake Michigan and took some pictures so those are coming your way. I love Michigan. It is so green, lush, and beautiful. The people are pretty great too. I've come to learn something. Just about everyone in Michigan has all of the following: A dog, a gun, and some kind of faith in Jesus Christ. I mean, what else do you need? (Other than the fulness of the Gospel of Christ) This week went by FAST. Right after I finished emailing last week, I headed straight to a members house to do service. Elder Reheis and I felled a 40-50 foot tree like a boss. Bad news: the tree fell toward their house BUT HEY, nothing was too damaged. I did trade-offs again in Wyoming. This week I was with Elder Patterson, my Zone Leader and Great-Grandfather (he trained Elder Richardson who trained Elder Reheis who is training me). We taught three really powerful lessons to investigators and a less-active chap. The really cool thing about the Wyoming area is the Pawsons. Sister Pawson is a convert to the church (4-5 years) and her sons (Doug, 25) (Andrew, 22) are recent converts. Doug is actually on a mission right now in Alaska, he entered the MTC a week after I did. Andrew is getting is papers in this week I think. What's cool about the Pawsons is that they attend every single lesson that the Zone leaders teach. It really makes a big difference. Their whole lives are dedicated to supporting the missionaries. They are really fantastic. Sister Pawson is about the nicest lady I've every met, too. So, the funniest thing that happened this week was our lesson with Trevor (the pot dealer). His girlfriend wasn't home so we only taught him. At the beginning of our visit, Trevor talked to us about marijuana science and his theory on the world ending in 2017. He believes we are in for an EMP and the whole country is going to collapse. He also thinks that a Zombie apocalypse is very possible as long as a polio strand gets with, like, a rabies strand or something (in his words). Pretty cool stuff. Anyway, this transitioned beautifully into the Restoration and prophets. Best lesson ever. On a more serious note, I'll tell you about the Jacobs. Elder Reheis and Elder Leavitt ran into Madison (17) and Hamish (15) Jacobs while I was on trade-offs with Elder Patterson. They taught them a lesson and they committed to baptism. I met them later this week and we had a really good discussion on the Plan of Salvation. They have been reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and they came to church yesterday. They even enjoyed church. The Jacobs are a miracle find. Golden. Love them to death. Later in the evening, we went and taught them again and their mom sat in. We're going to be teaching all of them now. Seriously, what a blessing! God is great. That's all I have for this week. I love you all, thank you SO much for all of the emails this week. I loved them and read them all and I'm going to try and reply to each of you with the rest of my time. -Elder Schmutz