Monday, February 22, 2016

I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go... Part 2

(So. I was a lion.)
Hello friends, it looks like I will be seeing y'all A LOT earlier than originally thought, cuz this girl is making her way back home. Before any misconceptions are made, I want to let y'all know everything that is and will be going down. However, I need to preface it first...

As many of you know, I have been through a lot of chaos over the past year and a half, all pertaining to "the mission". Before I came back out on my mission, I was 20yrs old and had just received a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and my whole life was in front of me, and it scared me. I thought that leaving on my mission, naturally, would make it so I wouldn't have to face those "real life" decisions right off the bat, but rather, 15mts down the road (jokes on me!). A week or two previous to me receiving the approval to return to Arkansas, I had thoughts and feelings that it may actually not be the Lord's plan for me. However, I pushed those thoughts away, because I had worked THIRTEEN MONTHS to return and I wasn't going to let it all go to waste. And so, I packed my bags and off I went to Arkansas.

(A pic from our zone sisters Pday.....)
It was rough from the very get-go. I was not given a full-time car, as was promised; my back pain came on even worse than I've experienced being home; I was diagnosed with clinical depression after a little over a month being back; on top of that, my therapist said that he has no more suggestions nor ideas on how to help me, because I am literally doing everything that should bring happiness, and I want to be doing them, but I'm still not happy; I have been experiencing no sleep, sicknesses, major headaches and fatigue, and major ankle pain all throughout, as well. I have come to realize that all of this turmoil was due to my wants and my will clashing with the Lord's will for me, which is the LAST thing I wanted to do. Returning to Arkansas, being back on my mission, didn't feel right. I wanted it to be right, so I did all that I could think to do to shake that feeling, but that un-rightness factor stayed. No matter what wonderful spiritual experiences occurred and grand people I met and taught, my enjoyment was lacking. Which made absolute no sense to me because I totally and completely love being a missionary. I love it, I just haven't been enjoying it. My desires were contrary to the impressions that kept arising that the Lord needs me elsewhere. And in the wise words of Nephi,
"I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do"        (Nephi 4:6).
(We got some mouth face thingies
from Sister Taylor's familia!)
That's truly how I am feeling. I feel as though I don't know all the answers. I couldn't understand why the Lord could possibly need me somewhere else. It makes no sense because this is where I truly want and have fought so hard to be.

But, the key to ALL of this is: it doesn't matter what I want, or what my parents want, or what she or he wants.... What matters is what the Lord wants, and all I want to do is to follow His will for me. And so, once again in Nephi's words,
"Nevertheless, I went forth..."
That is what I am doing. I don't know what is in store for me at home (because, I often times think nothing, heck... I'm nearly 21yrs old and already graduated from college... I don't know anything besides school), but, I am truly led by the Spirit, and so, I am going forth and returning home.

The reason that I am disclosing all of this to y'all is because I am really going to need y'alls support. It has been really difficult for me to accept this because I am afraid. I am afraid of leaving my mission, and I am afraid to have to face all the questions and the disappointed faces, all over again. I went through that once, a year and a half ago, and I won't do it again. I know this is part of Heavenly Father's plan. I ask for your prayers to help me understand what His further plans are for me, because I'm just as shocked as y'all may be.

I know that Heavenly Father quite literally has His hands in our lives, because we really do need that divine help. However, we must put our faith and trust in Him. He loves each of us because He is our loving Heavenly Father, so it only makes sense! When we fully submit ourselves to His will, only then will we be able to experience true happiness in this life and peace in the life to come. The gospel is real and I fully intend to continue to preach
 "exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth"                  (D&C 109:23).
Well, friends.... With that, I guess I will see you shortly. I'm not sure yet when, because it's not COMPLETELY finalized, but it shall be soon. I met with President Wakolo last week about it and he said to continue praying and he will as well. We will be meeting this week to set things in stone. Who knows what's happening, exactly, but I do know that I am to be home. Hopefully President gets that same answer...

I don't know what the future has in store, but I know that it will be bright!
"The future is as bright as your faith" (Thomas S. Monson).

Love y'all!
Sister Jessica Ann Smith

(Went on exchanges to Pinnacle Mountain
and I was able to see sweet Bre'Yunna!!)
(Zone Conference with the bestest!)

(After exchanges with our STLs (Sister Training Leaders...
Equivalent to the Zone Leaders, but only for the sisters in our Zone))

Monday, February 15, 2016

Love One Another

Hi friends! Happy {late} Valentine's Day <3

Longest and Shortest Week Ever!

(True reality of the week.... #CandidShot)
This week's email may the shortest in my mission history of emails! Why, you ask? Because we have had fevers and the flu since Tuesday!!! No bueno! It's going all around Little Rock and is knocking people out for a week or two. Today was the first day where it doesn't feel like we're getting worser (yes, it's a word). We've felt kinda selfish because in the time that we were forced to be bedridden we've had so much bonding time, cuddling time, chatting, and time to study the scriptures GALORE! It's been quite grand! We each received 2 priesthood blessings. One at the beginning of the week and one at the end of the week. It strengthened my testimony greatly of the reality of the power given to worthy men from God. There were specific things mentioned in each of our blessings that the Elders could not have known without complete help from God. I loved it!!

OH! One exciting thing occurred!! The ASL Sisters were out of town this past weekend, which meant.... I GOT TO INTERPRET FOR CHURCH!!!!! I was incredibly sickly, but I still did it and it was so great to be able to sign again! I miss it sooo much!

We are super excited to get back to our investigators and teach the world this week! Hope you have a great one, as well.

Lots of love,
Sister Jessica Ann Smith

(We had a surprise Sisters Zone Meeting with President and Sister Wakolo...
Here we are (: )

Monday, February 8, 2016

As Zion's Youth in Latter Days

(It was a rough day out tracting, so we took
a short break at the playground. I was a little
kid once again on the baby swing!)
(At the end of said "rough day",
we piled on the couch...
This week was quite miraculous and incredibly magnificent. I absolutely LOVE my companions. We have SO much fun together and it makes the missionary work more doable. They are great and we all uplift and strengthen each other in abundance.

We discovered this last week how we can help the ward, because it needs help. Basically, the members haven't trusted missionaries in quite some time. So, our task is to gain the trust of the members! Which, hopefully, shouldn't be too daunting of a feat. We are doing our best to visit everyone in the ward, including active members, semi-active members, and less actives. It's been a lot of driving, but all is well!

Oh! I am the designated driver! I don't think that I mentioned that last week! So yea. Driving. In Little Rock. With horrible roads. And not many road signs. Loads of speed bumps. It's great. Haha. But it's nice to be driving again.
(We got a cactus!!!!! Named Smarlor!)
Combination of names SMith-ARnold-tayLOR

We've had some new investigators, and we've had to drop some that we thought were golden and then weren't, but ya know...that's missionary life. You can't save em all (but you still "gotta catch 'em all")!

We've been blessed to have our Ward Mission Leader's sweet 16yr old daughter come out teaching with us. It actually has been an eye-opener for us. She has not been shaped to that "missionary mold". When we would have the exact answer and the exact scripture to pull out to rebuttle the (because it's been indoctrinated into us), she simply would testify purely. She didn't have the "missionary voice" and she spoke from her heart which was able to touch their hearts. It was a great reminder to me, as well as to Sister Arnold and Taylor, that testifying is how we can bring the Spirit unto those that we are teaching. I was grateful for that learning experience.

(We went bowling for Pday today!!!)
Sister Jessica Ann Smith
(Dinner at Stuckey home -- Ward Mission Leader)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lead Me Into Life Eternal

(My companions!! Sister Arnold 
and Sister Taylor (from Iowa))
Hello friends (:

Well. It's a new transfer, and we have a new sister added to me and Sister Arnold. Her name is Sister Taylor and she's from Iowa. She is pretty great! I love her bunches and I absolutely love serving with Sister Arnold and Taylor together.

(I cut off my hair)
So! We had a totally awesome experience this past week!! We've been seeing an older lady (Brenda) and her daughter (Susan) for a couple weeks now. For the past year, they have been meeting with missionaries. However, they were forgotten for a time. We found them again via a referral. They haven't really been progressing, like at all. BUT! That has now changed. We saw them four times this past week. They are reading the Book of Mormon together and asking questions and figuring things out via the Spirit which is what we do believe. The last time we were there, we asked if they'd be interested in a Priesthood Blessing and we explained what it was because they have been having an incredibly rough time lately. So, we brought a couple ward members over and the blessings were simply beautiful. Both women cried. We finally had a breakthrough with them and they FINALLY are allow the Spirit to enter in and are recognizing it. It was such a neat experience. I have so much love for them and it is so great to watch their progression and coming closer to being in alignment with what our Heavenly Father wants for them. It's great to be that guide. Now, if only they will attend church!!

(You see that house/trailer? That whole 
scenery is VERY typical for here. I love it.)
We've had a lot of fun this week and are keeping ourselves active and busy trying to see all the people that we can!

The ward has been helping us out a lot, too. It's been way great!

Anyways... That's all for this week!

Love y'all!!!
Sister Jessica Ann Smith
(We got some Sonic milkshakes 
and slushes! Much goodness)
(Wkind of ended up in the middle of no where
and then found a water park! So, naturally,
we had to take a picture.)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ye Who Are Called To Labor

(Our Pday was spent burning stuff.
We made s'mores and everything)
First off, I want to apologize for not writing last week. It was kind of a crazy week and I didn't really know what to say about it.

And as for this week.... Pretty much the same boat. We've had a lot of members come with us to lessons. They were some pretty solid appointments, too. We taught and we testified. We set a baptism date with a family, which was way rad!

We had a Mission Broadcast during our District Meeting this week. Elder Oaks, Anderson, and Bednar spoke to missionaries in the Utah area. It was broadcasted to the missionaries all around the world. It was so neat and we learned a lot pertaining to teaching, inviting, the Spirit in conversion, and working with members. Elder Oaks is the new Chairman for Missionaries and his new vision for missionary efforts is "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts". So the broadcast was centered on that.

Transfers have occurred. And, drum roll, please..... I am staying in Otter Creek. Still in a trio. Sister Quick is going to the area right next door and Sister Arnold and I will be getting Sister Taylor. Sadly, I am not being transferred to ASL. But that's okay. Life goes on. President actually closed an ASL area, so now there are only two open, instead of three.
(Elder Sandman, Elder Boggess (District Leader), Sister Wood,
Sister Hirschi, Sister Quick, ME, and Sister Arnold)

I love being able to go out and to share the good news about my Savior which has provided me with so much happiness and joy in my life. I absolutely love being a missionary. Even though there are INCREDIBLY hard times, and I have to endure through a lot, there is no other place I'd rather be. I am so blessed to dedicate 18 months to serving my Lord and Savior.

Have a good week! (:

Sister Jessica Ann Smith
"We picked out animals that match the appearance and personalities
of the missionaries in our area. Sister Arnold drew them.
Sister Smith - red panda
Sister Arnold - kiwi
Sister Quick - fox
Sister Wood - otter
Elder Boggess - lion cub (because he is almost ferocious)
Elder Sandman - turtle
And then the others are the missionaries that are around and near us."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Don't Really Have Anything To Say

Jessica said she didn't do a newsletter this week because nothing really happened. She sent me some funny and interesting thoughts and some photos that I would like to share with you. Next week are transfers, so she is waiting to hear what happens. She said it is going okay with her two other companions. She has been struggling with her back pain, but was able to get approval to see an Orthopedic Surgeon there, so I sent her MRI results for him to see.

(Sister Quick, Arnold, and me (:)
I don't know if I will be sending out a newsletter... I don't really have anything to say...

I don't have a car this week. It's really rough. No Bueno. My back is NOT doing that great. At all.

Mom. I could potentially marry the Brother of Jared, or Captain Moroni, or Moroni (the son of Mormon). If I die before I get married, I would just be sealed to someone during the Millennium. IT COULD BE SOMEONE FROM THE BOOK OF MORMON TIMES! So, basically, I have had a guardian angel watching over me throughout the entire span of my life. It's my husband who died 2000 years ago. No big deal.

Elder Robert D. Hales is VERY frail... It looks like he will be going next, and soon. :( We had a broadcast for the stake (well, for all the stakes in the southeast area of the country), and Elder Hales was presiding. He does NOT look like he is doing too well. Just for your information.. I thought you would be interested in knowing that, so that when he passes on, it wouldn't be such a shock. I don't remember how he was doing at General Conference this past October, but I don't remember him looking this bad....

This made a question arise.... If you looks at all the Apostles, they seem to be reasonable right in the mind (well, apart from President Monson who is struggling). So my question is... Does the Lord bless the people He calls and give them the ability to still be strong in the mind? Orrr... Does He take them before they go south (meaning, allow them to die before their mind goes away..)? What are your thoughts? That was just a random thought that came to my mind while watching Elder Hales.

I love you!!! Thank you for all that you do for me!
Sister Jessica Ann Smith
(I held a bunny!)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I Have Work Enough To Do

I don't even know where to begin...

I am in a new area. Back to Little Rock, except a different ward from where I started my mission. It's great to be back in my birth city. I FINALLY heard the word "finna" used in a sentence (i.e. I'm finna get my hair done). It is the more uneducated way to say "fixin' to", which means basically "getting ready to" or "going to".

I finally had expressed how much I loved my area in Cabot. I LOVED it, so so so much. I loved the area, all the camo and beards, the members, my companion, and the few investigators and potentials that we had. My goodness... The members. They truly were the best. And now, I left it, and I left them.

It is hard to get situated in my new area. Mainly because it's a two person apartment and now there are three people here. There's no place for all my things. I am still living out of my suitcase. That adds to feeling as though I'm not really in this area. I got added to a companionship that already has there things set and work together, and then there's me that knows nothing about the area. Heck, they hardly even know the members (including the active ones). So it's definitely been a struggle.

I don't know why I was yanked from the place that I loved, in the middle of the transfer. But, I know that President Wakolo is called of God and that I am needed here with the Otter Creek sisters. There is one plus side to this whole ordeal... The Little Rock ward (which is my ward) is the same as the ASL sisters. Which means... We have Deaf members!!! I am way stoked to meet them! I know a couple of them already from last year. I will actually be interpreting for different meetings and such. A member from the ward that interprets was excited to hear that I know sign because then she won't have to interpret entire meetings. The ASL sisters interpret for Priesthood, but she would be the one that would sign for Relief Society always.

This lady (the interpreter), Sister Loken is super great. She has five boys: Peter Andrew - 16; John Hyrum - 14; Phillip Isaac - 12; Joseph Timothy - 10; and Daniel Bjorn - 7. They are the craziest family, ever...especially being a household of all boys. We had dinner at their house and I was just eating it up! Being there simply made me realize how even more stoked I am to have my own family. Surprisingly, now I am looking forward to having boys, too. Which I have never really been wanting. But they were just the cutest. Gahhh. I love children. #ChildStealer 

Oh! And I may have made it so Phillip and Daniel have a slight crush on me. It's simply wonderful! They are just so adorable.

I'm continuing with my best efforts to keep a smile on my face and a joy in my step. Change is tough, but I know that I'm where the Lord needs me. So, I will continue to serve with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength!

Sister Jessica Ann Smith

(Elder Butler and Clark thought to try on Sister Eckley's jacket that we just bought from Walmart (I have the same one... Love that camo!). It's a size XL in kids... They thought they were cool.)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Come, Let Us Anew

This week definitely was a trying one, to say the least.

(Pomeranian/Shih Tzu. She reminded me 
a lot of Angel (my dog back home).)
I finally was able to meet Carolyn (the Deaf lady)! We went in just planning to introduce ourselves and basically do "How To Begin Teaching" with her, however, it definitely went a different way. She was soooo very interested and was wanting more. She simply was not satisfied with the little that we shared. So basically, I went into signing the Restoration for her (which I had never done before, so it was pretty rough). She LOVED it and was anxious to meet again. I am so excited to teach her and to have her come to church. It will be great, once I actually learn how to do the discussions more clearly in sign language. I've been taking some time to do language study, which has been beneficial. Especially since the Elders also gave us a referral to another Deaf lady. Whoooo!

Happy New Year!!!! Our New Year's Eve was spent like this.... We were at the church for basketball, left because it was over and went home to change and get ready to go to our dinner appointment. Our District Leader texted us and told us to go back to the church. We had dinner in a half hour. He said change of plans and to meet them at their house in Jacksonville, which was about a 20-30min drive from us. Basically, we had to completely postpone our dinner appointment. We arrived in Jville and they told us we were to go on exchanges with their sisters. Which meant, pretty much cancelling our dinner appointment. So, we drove back to Cabot, Sis Eckley got her things, and we drove back to the church (in Jville) to exchange with them.

Sister Hyer and I were together in Cabot and we went to our dinner appointment at 7:30pm (originally set for 6pm). The Elders decided to take it from us, and so when we arrived, they had finished dinner. The meal wasn't quite appetizing either........ It was chicken kabobs. But, the chicken was a chicken that Elder Phillips had killed from their house. And Elder Butler has the chicken foot (hanging from their car rear view mirror). That was hard to stomach. Oh! And two nights in a row, I had pot roast... I am leaning more and more towards fully being vegetarian. I am not a fan of all this meat... Anyways, after dinner, they had a bonfire with hot chocolate. We couldn't stay too long because of curfew, but it was great. So, my New Year's Eve was me in my apartment, going to sleep at 10:30pm. Happy 2016!!

We had interviews with President Wakolo this week, too. Which was super great. Man, he is definitely called of God. I truly feel so blessed to have such a wonderful Mission President who cares so deeply.

I'm grateful for the knowledge that I have that I am never alone. In life, we all go through some hard times, but it's a comfort to know that the Lord is with us. This year, I am looking forward to noticing His hand in my life more abundantly. He truly is there with me every step of the way, and I plan to recognize Him and show forth gratitude for all that my loving Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ do for me each and every day. I invite y'all to do the same! When we realize all those tender mercies and acknowledge Him in our day to day lives, we can see and feel His love for us so much more deeply. When we show gratitude towards Him, He is more willing to bless us in even greater amounts.

So say goodbye to the selfish and ungrateful person of 2015, and say hello to the selfless and full of gratitude you of 2016! (:

Sister Jessica Ann Smith

P.S. Sister Eckley and I are being Emergency Transferred (ET). They are closing Cabot 2, sadly. So no more sisters. I have just started to know all the members here, and now I'm leaving. But I know that it's the Lord's will. I am leaving tonight to Otter Creek (in Little Rock), and Sister Eckley is going right next door to Jacksonville. We both will be in trios. Since no missionaries are taking our place, there is A LOT of packing and cleaning to get done today....

(Well, that's the South for you, I guess. Pastors that are on fire.
Don't worry. Sister Eckley and I are now official firefighters! (:)