Monday, July 21, 2014

Today is July 21st

Hey everyone!
This week was good! Jack Robinson is on track to be baptized this week should he choose. He expressed to us that he wants to be 100% over his addiction to coffee/tobacco before his baptism. He's been smoke-free for more than a week and coffee-less for about two so we think he's pretty much ready. Ever since he's received his answer he's just taking in everything we teach him and loving it.
Other than that, not much new. We are trying to get creative with our time in the early afternoon because not many people are home. When people are home though, we have good conversations with them. Earlier this week Elder Coziar came to work with me in Holland and we found a new investigator doorknocking. His name's Jose and he has Mormon family but doesn't know much about their beliefs. We taught a very basic Restoration and the Spirit was strong.
I taught a district meeting on effective study habits and it went well. I was especially grateful to take the opportunity to prepare for the week by thinking about how priceless the scriptures are. I never treasured the words of eternal life before my mission but when I think about them now, I wonder how I survived without them. I feel that teaching from the scriptures has become a great strength on my mission so far.
Hopefully this week we'll start teaching a few member's friends which is really exciting. We've been working hard to gain the trust of the members so when they do have a referral for us they can know we're there to preach the Gospel by the Spirit.
Did I forget to tell you about meeting our new Mission President? President and Sister Jacobsen are the best! I will really miss the Hess's but man the Jacobsens are the perfect people for the job. We met them a couple of weeks ago at a zone conference-like thing. President Jacobsen is very sporty so our trainings feel more like locker room pep-ups as compared to college lectures from President Hess. They are very sweet people and I'm excited to work with them.
OK now for some tracting stories. We had some WEIRD animal encounters this week, all on the same street. The first house we talked to this nice girl and in the middle of our conversation her pet PIG just walks up on the scene. I said to her, "that's a pet pig" and she's just like "yup" and that was about the end of that.
A few doors down (a different day) we walk down a long driveway to this secluded house and when we get to the doorstep we see what looks like a cat on the porch (patches of hair missing, this thing looks scary). I stomped loudly to try and wake it up but it wasn't moving or breathing so we wer like, "Ok, that's a dead cat." After I ring the doorbell it comes to life (we think) and hisses at us until we leave. Michigan is wack sometimes.
Last one: we got chased off by a bear-dog. I defended us by snapping my fingers; that scared it off.
So yeah. I'm doing well. Holland Michigan is great as ever. I'm happy and healthy and I'm just savoring every moment. God is good and is blessing us with tender mercies. I'm growing in Christ-like attributes, especially patience and humility because those are Christ-like attributes I don't excell at. :) I am grateful that the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible for to overcome weakness and eventually make them into strenghths. I forgot my camera, next week I'll have to send you some good pictures.
Love you all! have an awesome week and be safe in your pursuits and travels!
Elder Schmutz

Monday, July 14, 2014

Today is July 14th.

Are you sick of hearing how quick the weeks go by? I feel like I picked up Elder Hudson from Lansing just about yesterday. Today is my 11-month mark which is not even real. I remember coming out and serving around the people that had been out that long and thinking, man, they are OLD missionaries. I still feel so green though.
This was a pretty good week! We have been working super hard to find. Lots of doorknocking broken up by visiting everyone on the ward roster. We have lists and lists of potential investigators; now we just need to meet with them.
We currently have one progressing investigator, but he is doing so well! As I told you, Jackie Robinson got his answer that the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet and since then he's doing amazing. He's cut down from three pots of coffee a day to none at all. He's struggling to quit smoking but has been smoke-free since Friday. He's on track to be baptized by the end of this transfer (July 26th). I've seen time and time again that God has answered my prayers. It was very special to see that so clearly in the life on an investigator.
I went on trade-offs with an Elder in my district, Elder Wiehl. Picture included. We went finding just about all day and got to know each other pretty well.
This weekend was awesome. On Saturday we had a few return appointments from DK'ing right next to each other so we took Gerardo (a recent convert visiting for a month from Florida) out with us. The first didn't happen so we went to visit Jackie and J.R. as backup. Then we went to our other return appointment- the original person wasn't there so we taught his friend who answered the door. He was fascinated by the Book of Mormon and was super excited when we gave him a copy. Gerardo was a huge help for all of the appointments- he joined the church only in September and is planning to serve a mission this October! Super solid testimony, he's way cool.
Another highlight of the week- we went to Stake General Priesthood meeting so I got to see a bunch of people from Spring Lake. Bro. Ongert gave me a big hug and I saw Bishop Ensign and others. Way fun!
I think that's about it. I love you all. Keep doing your thing, I guess.
{picture mentioned above}

Elder Lyman who I did a T-off with last week

Unless the scale in our apartment is wrong...I've lost like 35+ pounds since the MTC.
(Elder Schmutz might kill me for adding this one but I couldn't help it! He's so dang great!)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy 4th // etc. etc.

So things are going pretty well over here. We've been doing a lot of finding - a lot of our investigators have dropped us or aren't progressing so we've been praying hard for investigators that will make and keep commitments. I am confident that the Lord is preparing people and we just gotta find them- or they gotta find us!
We went on trade-offs with the zone leaders this week, Elders Kinikini and Lyman. They are super fun and they love to talk to me about Spring Lake and everyone there. I worked in Holland with Elder Lyman and we just went finding hard-core. We found a bunch of potentials that we will hopefully pick up as investigators this week. Elder Lyman is super funny - in fact, you all should go on youtube and look up "Singing Elders". It's a video of Elder Lyman and his trainer from Sweden lip-syncing a song and it has a ton of views. Apparently it's funny but I haven't seen it yet.
Something new we've been doing is using visuals in our finding. I've been doing it since I was with Elder Bass in Lansing because he does this super well. Basically we just show people pictures out of the gospel art book and talk with them about it. Elder Lyman and I doorknocked into this guy named Fontaine that at first gave off a "I'm not interested" impression but we showed him a depiction of the first vision and he kinda just melted. I don't know how to explain it- the Spirit just works super quickly with people when they see something we're describing. This has happened countless other times with different people and different pictures. It makes finding that much more enjoyable - I love talking with anyone about the restoration of the Gospel!
Tender mercy this week - we finished doorknocking a kinda rough street and we were feeling a little worn out. We decided to stop by our investigator Jackie's house to follow up with him (yeah we found him again, false alarm). We had committed him to pray again to know if the Book of Mormon was true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet. After we sat down with him he told us, "Well, I did what you said. I got an answer." Elder Hudson and I just froze and waited. After a painful pause, he declared, "Mormon is true!" He had received a distinct answer from God that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. That was a pretty good ending to our day. He now knows that he has to quit smoking and drinking coffee but once he's done that he can be baptized. It's moments like these that make all of the rough times disappear. This is God's work.
That's about it. Our 4th of July was good - it started with a ward pancake breakfast and later we went to a Cambodian barbeque a member invited us to. My companion was a little miffed- as we left he said, "I didn't think I'd go to my first party with alcohol on my mission." It was a pretty good finding experience, struck out a few times trying to talk to people that didn't speak (or pretended not to speak) english though, haha. We got a potential out of it though. And I tried chicken gizzard!
Love you all!