Monday, March 21, 2016

What My Mission Means to Me

The day or so before I started my mission, as I was sitting among piles of clothes to put in the suitcase in front of me, I started thinking to myself about my testimony. I thought, "What do I have a testimony of?" But then a better question came to my head, "What do I not yet have a testimony of yet?" But then the question that started my true conversion came, "Do I have a testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ?" As I sat there thinking about that question, I came to the conclusion that I didn't, or at least not to the degree I desired. Throughout my years of Sunday School, Seminary, and Young Women activities, I knew what the atonement was, but did I know it and understand it in my heart? Had I had the experiences needed, tailored to my spirit, that would teach me the true joy and give me the real understanding of the atonement? No... No, I didn't. The night before I left, I knelt down and said a prayer to Heavenly Father, just before I started the craziest journey I had thus experienced. I asked Him to give me have a strong testimony of the atonement before my mission was through.

And boy, did He give it to me.

I had never had so many joys and tears before. I had never loved so many people before. I had never had so many trials before that would rip my heart right out of me. I had never felt the joy and peace of my Elder Brother patching me back together even stronger than before. I had never seen (or at least recognized) so many miracles, whether great or small, before. I had never seen so many things that testify about the Savior's hand in every part of existence. I had never felt so close to my Father in Heaven before.

So what does my mission mean to me? My mission means everything to me, because Jesus Christ means everything to me. I love Him dearly. He has been with me through each and every step, mile, tear, smile, and laugh. He has been with me through every moment of joy in a show of progression in one I love. He has been with me through every moment of extreme frustration in someone preventing another's conversion in the gospel. He has been with me when I thought I couldn't go any further. He has been with me when He taught me eternal truths of His love and devotion.

I testify that Jesus Christ lives. He lives eternally and He loves eternally. He is the author of my faith and anchor to my soul. He is the beginning and end of my testimony. His atonement is real. It is all powerful and ever reaching. There is nothing the atonement and love of Christ cannot heal, even when the world or that little voice in your head tells you otherwise. I am eternally grateful and indebted to my Savior for all He has done for me on my mission and for all He will do for me in the future.

D&C 76:22, "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which [I] give of him: That he lives!"

Sister Smyly Crawford

The Blessings and The Temple

March 14, 2016

One of the sweetest blessings of my mission is to have been able to
watch the conversion process of these wonderful people in this branch.
On Saturday we had temple baptisms with the branch. Betty was able to
participate and partake of the spirit which abides in the temple. It
has been wonderful to watch her from the very beginning, starting back
when she didn't want to learn, then when she started to realize what
was possible, when she felt the spirit testify strongly to her for the
first time, when she decided she wanted to be baptized, when she saw
the temple for the first time, when she entered the waters of baptism,
when she relieved the gift of the Holy Ghost and was confirmed a
member, when she entered the temple to perform ordinances for those
who are no longer here and cannot do so themselves, and every single
little miracle in between. Heavenly Father has truly blessed me to be
able to watch the work of salvation in at least one person's life. She
had a wonderful time in the temple and it was everything she hoped for
and more. I cannot wait to be back to watch her go through the temple
even more and make even more sacred covenants with her Heavenly

I have a testimony that the blessings of the temple are available to
all who are worthy to enter into that sacred edifice. And becoming
worthy is always possible. I have a testimony of the sweet spirit that
can be felt there. I have a testimony of revelation that can be
received there. I am so grateful we have temples here on Earth that we
may make sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father to be able to
return to Him with our families forever.

With love,

Sister Smyly Crawford

And It Has Begun.....

March 7, 2016

Nothing too crazy to report this week. We have been traveling around a lot, though. Imagine California traffic, 123.7 miles, four hours in the car, all while teaching people. It's been a little crazy. I am just a little tired of being in the car at this point, haha.

In other news, the kittens we saved last May... One of them had kittens herself this past week! They are cute.

We have a new investigator named Ninoka, whose mother is from Honduras. Not quite sure how to communicate with her yet, as we cannot figure out her signing level and ability. We'll keep working on that, haha.

It has begun... I have started going around and saying goodbye to people. We saw Rosalia this week. I miss her, and I wish she would come to church. She knows it is true, but her desire to put it before everything else is lacking. I know she will eventually come to understand the importance of dedicating herself to the gospel.

Ya'll have a wonderful week! 

Sister Smyly Crawford

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

This branch is one of the sweetest things in my life. Just being around them on Sundays fills me with an indescribable joy. From Juana coming up to me and giving me the longest hug, to Cecilia picking on me, to Veronica coming to me for emotional support before she goes up to say the closing prayer in sacrament meeting, to Eugene walking down the halls screaming his head off (consequently scaring the YSA Ward) in order to see if he can hear himself, to Manuel's little tuft of hair on the front of his head to cover his baldness that he refuses to let me cut, to Cliff's little freckled smiling face, to Alejandro pulling Mexican candy out of his socks for me to eat, to Serafin patiently speaking in Spanish and signing in Cuban sign language to try and communicate, to Mark and Kaliman running around but giving me a cheesy smile when I tell them to knock it off, to Darryl's machine gun laugh echoing down the hallways, to Sister Thexton sweetly and silently sitting in her chair waiting for Brother Thexton to finish his calling's duties to go home... I cannot think of anything I could experience on a mission than having a Sunday in the Fullerton 7th Deaf Branch.

I have a testimony of this gospel and the happiness and peace it brings into the lives of those who are real seekers of truth. I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and its divine origin. I have a testimony of Joseph Smith who was truly a prophet, seer, and revelator called of God to further this very true and powerful work. I have a testimony of modern-day prophets and their sacred calling to guide our Father's children back to their heavenly home. I have a testimony of temples where families can come to experience the sweet spirit from God and leave as eternal families. I have a testimony of the Holy Ghost, that quiet yet powerful member of the Godhead who, as we live worthy, can guide us to be worthy vessels in the Lord's works of miracles. I have a testimony of my Heavenly Father, who truly loves each of us more than we can ever comprehend, and who is anxiously waiting and willing to pour out a multitude of blessings upon is, all because of His love. But most importantly, I have a testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and the reality of His atonement.

Never let a day go by without an act of faith to strengthen your testimony. Never let a day go by without making someone else smile. Never let a moment go by without thanking the Lord for all He has done for you.

Sister Smyly Crawford

Zone Conference

Ok. So. Here's the thing. Every Friday night there are food trucks next to our apartment. Sister Clarke and I go to this one called Rajin Cajun. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. Oh my drool. So good. He was on the Amazing Food Truck race. Gives us discounts and free food. But the problem is that we don't know his name. Bless his soul, he can cook. Chicken, rice, sausage bisque. You would die.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Because tracting for deaf people doesn't work

We had zone conference this week. It was all about finding new
investigators, which is exactly what our area needs! So you better
believe Sister Clarke and I were paying special attention. Out awesome
Assistants to the President gave a good training on talking to
everyone and President Taggart taught about referrals and working with
members. President Taggart challenged the mission to find us some deaf
people, and he will be contacting the four other missions we cover to
do the same.

So what have we done with this training? Well, for one thing we have
been very sure to look and ask for referrals wherever we go. In the
past we have never had any success from asking our members and
investigators for referrals. The general mindset in the deaf world
over here is that all their friends and family have religions of their
own and will never change. This means whenever we ask for referrals or
ask in any way in order to get referrals, they say, "They are already
Catholic/Christian/JW/etc.". So, it is a little difficult to say the
least. However, we tried in faith this week to find more referrals by
asking. Friday night we were on the VP with a member and we taught her
a short principle and asked if she had anyone she knew who could use a
message of happiness from us. It was like pulling teeth, but she gave
us a name and number. Then, she said, "Hold on, I may have a deaf one.
You want it?" Uh, yes!! So she gave us that one. And then she
immediately said she had yet another one and gave it to us. We had to
go because of curfew, so she said she would see us on Sunday with
about twelve more. Sunday rolled around and she pulled out her phone
and went through her entire contact list and ended up giving us
eighteen referrals just standing there. Needless to say, we were
happy. Only two of the people she referred us to are in our area, but
I'm sure the LA, Riverside, San Diego, Texas, and Arizona branches
will welcome some referrals.

Another thing Sister Clarke and I have been cooking up is an idea to
use the YSA Ward which shares our building. We do not have enough
members who will give us referrals. Not all are like the one member I
just described. However, there are other members. There is a finding
activity we have always heard about, but have been hesitant to try. We
are trying now. It involves going to a member or nonmember's home,
teaching a really powerful lesson on a short principle for about ten
to twenty minutes, and then have the person pray and think of an area
we can go try to find a person. Typically this is used in areas that
are much smaller so they would end up with a road to try, but maybe
the person can give us a very specific area. The whole principle this
relies on is the person's faith, just as when Christ healed people in
his time and when we receive priesthood blessings in ours. Yesterday,
we went into the YSA Relief Society and explained this idea asking for
them to sign up to be the member we teach and receive an area to try.
When we came back at the end to get our sign up sheet, there were
fifteen women who had signed up! What faith!

I know that this work is important. There is nothing more important I
can be doing right now. Our brothers and sisters are out there and we
have the crucial responsibility to go and find them. I don't know
where the people I'm supposed to find are, but I am trying my best to
find them. It is hard, but when we do find someone, I find it is all
worth it. I am so grateful for the Savior and for His love. He is
always searching for me, just as I am searching for those who are
ready to receive the gospel. By His spirit, I will find those who have
been prepared.

Sister Smyly Crawford

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A great beginning for a great end

February 15, 2016

Not much to write about this week, but I'll say whatever I can.

I have loved this week back in the north area with Sister Clarke. What
a happy way to have my last transfer. We are working hard trying new
ways to find investigators, because all the normal ways are not
working and we are in desperate need of people to teach. Plus, there
are deaf people out there. We just gotta find them!

We had a special Stake Conference yesterday. It was a special
broadcast from Salt Lake City to several of the western states and
maybe a few countries out in the Pacific, not quite sure which ones.
It was really good and was presided over by Elder Renlund. Something I
love about this stake is that there is always a really good turnout at
stake conferences. They know they need to be there, so they go.

It was a sad moment afterwards, however, when Veronica comes up to me
and gives me a hug and starts crying while saying, "I love you so much
and I am going to miss you when you go home in five weeks." We both
just stood there hugging each other crying. I really love this branch.
They have become such a wonderful family for me and will always hold a
special place in my heart.

Have a week full of service. Go make someone smile everyday.

Sister Smyly Crawford

Transferred Again!

February 8, 2016

Yup! That's right! Guess where? Haha, just kidding. There's only two areas so where else could I be transferred? North area. And my companion? Drumroll please.......... Sister Clarke! Yay! I love her! I'm so excited for this transfer!!

I cannot say too much has happened this week. Our appointments all keep falling through. However, we had good bonding time with the Figueroa girls. I love them haha. Adriana asked that I come over before school and braid her hair, so we have some service tomorrow morning :)

We did have one thing crazy happen.

This is a story about a cat named Cat Lamoni. Here is what happened. Ever since the other sisters moved apartments they park their car outside. It's a little cold at night so cats like to crawl into cars to keep warm, then in the morning you have to hit the side of the car to scare them out. Well, in their apartment complex they have lots of cats, but after studies and lunch it is noon, so they typically didn't because the cats should be out by then. But sometime Tuesday night a cat crawled into the front of their car close to the engine and Wednesday morning they got in and headed to district meeting. They left earlier than they typically would and as they were driving, and they had been in the car for a few minutes, they heard something in the front of the car, sounding like something happened to the engine or tire. So they stopped and didn't see anything wrong and as they drove it sounded perfectly fine, so they went on with their day. Thursday was a normal day, then as they were leaving the church Thursday night after VPing (video phone) a few people they saw something under their car. Fearing the worst, they called both north and south elders (its about 8:35pm) and they were heading home. The south elders were farther away and since we can't have two sisters and two elders together, they called us to come down to the church. We pulled in and the two of them were absolutely terrified and the elders were putting trashbags on over their clothes. The elders had opened the hood and saw the cat... well... All of us sisters went inside the church because we couldn't stomach it and the elders had a hay day! The south elders arrived and they got the cat out. Soooo moral of the story always hit the side of your car even if you think there are no cats in there! A blessing from this is they couldn't smell good ol' Cat Lamoni because he stinketh not to us even after two days!!!

Sorry if you were grossed out by that story, but it is my duty to report my mission ;)

Have a great week!

Sister Smyly Crawford