Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Here's the bottom line... Our trio's down to two!"

Hello hello hello!

I will be honest with ya'll. I wasn't sure how I was going to function without Sister Pendleton, but boy did we have a successful week!

So much is happening... On Tuesday we dropped off Sister Pendleton at the mission office. Surprisingly, none of us cried. Probably because we cried our eyes out the last three nights before she left. When we got home I sat on the mattress (we had pulled all our mattresses out to the living room and slept on one giant bed). I gave myself a kick and got up and got to work. First things first, we had to completely clean the apartment. I tell ya, when you kill a companion, the apartment and car go to waste when it comes to cleanliness. So we did that. Then I pulled a 'Mom' and completely rearranged the apartment.  No shame. Then we went out and worked our tails off for the rest of the day.

We actually worked our tails off all week. More often than not we didn't have time for a lunch or dinner break so we either grabbed something on the way or didn't eat at all. Good thing I'm a missionary and the Lord blesses me, because otherwise, I wouldn't have survived! :)

We actually contacted some people this week that I have not contacted since I first got here (mainly because they refuse to be contacted). We finally got a hold of one of our CODAs (Children of Deaf Adults) down in Huntington Beach. AND she and her mom made a return appointment. Yes! Finally! So that was good. And we worked really hard with the other CODAs this week. And guess what? THREE of them came to church! No, scratch that. FOUR. Usually we only have one! Yeah! I'm pretty happy with that. Granted they might have stayed because Elder Bouck literally herded them into the classroom and sat in front of the door so they couldn't leave. Haha the things we have to do sometimes...

I just want everyone to know... I despise California drivers and traffic and roads and speed bumps and everything. Ok, now that that is off my chest... I am driving now that Sister Pendleton is gone. Sister Stucki drives some, but I have way more experience driving, period, so I drive the interstates and unfamiliar territory (which is almost everything). That being said, I have learned how to drive in California traffic. It's a technique called, "Just Force Yourself in There!" Yeah, I don't like it, but hey, ya do what ya gotta do.

Sorry, I am just rambling. I am just trying to remember everything that happened this week.

This Christmas season I want all of you to remember the Reason for the season. Maybe you have seen the video, but if not, go look at it. "He is the Gift" is a video the church put out about making Christ the center of Christmas.

 Heavenly Father gave Jesus Christ as a gift to the world, to those who had come before him, and to those who would come after. Christ did what no other person could ever do. He made it possible for us to return to live with our Heavenly Father again. He made it possible for us to live with our families forever. He made it possible for us to be truly happy. He is the Gift, the Gift that changed the world. I encourage all of you to watch the video, and then show that video to a friend. Spread the news of the Gift. Be the choirs of angels that proclaim His birth, resurrection, and everlasting glory.

I love you all! \|,,|

Sister Smyly Crawford

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I killed my companion....

For those of you who don't know what that means, it means you and your
companions were together for their last transfer before they went
home. Therefore, I killed Sister Pendleton. She goes home early
tomorrow morning. I don't know what I am going to do without her! And
boy, she is leaving me with some large shoes to fill! I love her so

This week has been fantastic! So much has happened... Let's see if I
even can remember it all...

First off..... HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE YOU!!!!
:) :) :) :) :)

Second, HAPPY BIRTHDAY FORREST!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE YOU!!!! :) :) :) :) :)

Third, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) :)

Whew, ok, now that I have said what I have been dying to say, here's
what happened this week.

I am just over the moon with happiness. The Rico family has progressed
so much. We had a lesson with them earlier this week. At the end we
had Brandon (6) give the prayer with his dad's help to sign it. It.
Was. Adorable. And in the middle of the prayer, Edward (3) turned to
me, upset, and said he wanted to say the prayer. So at the end we had
him say a prayer with his mother's help to sign. Have any of you ever
seen anything so incredibly adorable that you thought you would fall
to pieces? That was the moment that topped all of your moments. Little
kids signing is quite possibly the cutest thing ever.

ANNOUNCEMENT! Kevin Rico (8) has been baptized!  He was baptized
yesterday just after Stake Conference. His mother was so proud and his
brothers were so excited and look up to him so much. He was so happy!
I can already tell this will be something that will bless this family
forever. It will change not only Kevin's life, but all of their lives.
Brandon and Edward said the opening and closing prayers in the meeting
as well. Maria (the mother) desperately wants to be baptized. She
wanted so badly to be baptized with her son. We just need to get them
married! That will be the difficult part, but every time I think about
it, I get a calm sense of peace that tells me everything will work

Now for my funny moment of the week! Here in California, there are a
lot of creepers that love to hit on me and my companions. This is
especially true when we are in the car driving. Don't worry Dad, I
give them my special glare and they back off. But it is still very
uncomfortable. One time, a few weeks ago, we were on the interstate
headed up to the Arcadia mission to teach a recent convert when we
look over next to us and a car of guys was trying to keep even with
us. They were all trying to hit on us. We got away safely haha, but I
decided to keep a Book of Mormon in the glove box just in case I
needed to press it against the window to make them hush. Well, a
couple nights ago we were driving at night and we come to a red light.
Next to us was a truck with a couple of guys. I decided to ignore them
and just casually put my arm up to block them from seeing me, even if
they kept trying to move to see (but I mean, come on, I'm the queen of
not 'hard to get' but 'I will never allow you to get' so it wasn't a
problem). The light turns green and we continue on, but the car kept
trying to stay even with us! Ok, bring out the big guns. I pull out
the Book of Mormon and stick it on the window to block my face. And
guess what? IT DIDN'T WORK. They kept trying to get even with us! Ugh.
So we come to another red light and finally Sister Pendleton looks
over to see what's up and SHE STARTS LAUGHING. I am thinking, "What on Earth do you think you are doing?!" Then I look over. THEY HAD A BIBLE PRESSED UP AGAINST THE WINDOW! Hahahahahahahahahaha We all laughed about that, both cars. So, that is my finding activity of the week. Missionary work for the win!

I don't have too much time today to write any more, because of
transfers, but thank y'all for your support and prayers! I feel it all
every day! Love you!

Sister Smyly Crawford

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

I LOVE CHRISTMAS TIME. Even if it doesn't feel like Christmas here in paradise. The lack of chill is pretty weird... BUT that's ok! We have Christmas music! And it is amazing how much love people have, just because Christmas is coming! People who would never talk to us before are so accepting now! I just love Christmas!

And one of the coolest things about Christmas... The lights!!! They go overboard here. Not even kidding. We went to one area last week where the houses are decorated but even better are the trees. They have these hanging balls of light all up and down the streets hanging from the branches of the trees that cover the street. GORGEOUS. And last night we went over to Yorba Linda and Holy. Cow. If any of you ever have money to spare, and don't want to give it to the poor, spend it on Christmas lights (but you should give it to the poor :) ). These houses are built on a lake front and are decked out beyond decked out. My goodness.... And they have little boats (since they live on a lake) that are completely decorated too. It's insanely beautiful.

Since Sister Pendleton is leaving soon we are following her bucket list. Last P-day for her bucket list we went to Downtown Disney to see it in the Christmas lights. So much fun! We all enjoyed ourselves. Especially me, since I went and made a Build-a-Bear as my Anaheim, CA souvenir. He's a bear in an Eeyore costume. Just for your information.

Now I would like to address the package I received from the Relief Society back home. I LOVED IT. I cannot express how much joy and excitement I had opening it. I am not exaggerating when I say that 94% of all the stuff in that package I had thought about buying in the last three weeks but didn't buy yet. Everything was needed and appreciated. And the pictures the kids drew me along with the letters from everyone almost put me to tears. I loved everything so so much! Thank you thank you thank you!

We have the Stake Christmas Concert coming up!!! Why am I so excited, you may ask? Because our adorable Veronica will be performing! She will be representing the branch by signing the song, "Do You have Room" while a girl from the YSA ward sings it. Veronica signs only a few signs normally, so for her to completely sign this song is amazing. We had taught her half the song before we realized she had no idea what was happening in the song, so we taught her the story of Mary. She is practicing like no other. She won't need us to help her in the audience come time for the Christmas. What a doll.

This next Saturday is Kevin Rico's baptism!!!!! I adore that family. They have all progressed so much in the past five weeks. Maria is fully supporting the baptism and when Brandon and Edward become old enough, she wants them baptized. It broke our hearts this week, however, when she told us how much she wants to be baptized. She wants to so bad, but she can't while she is living with Alberto, her boyfriend and father of her sons. But she cannot separate with him for many reasons, and cannot marry him for many reasons. So we are in a catch 22 and it is heartbreaking. I know everything will work out. They have to, because this is His work and His timing.

We had our branch Christmas party! It was awesome! Brother Willis from the high council made breakfast burritos for everyone. And we had a magician come!! He was pretty good, but goodness gracious it was funny. He didn't exactly adjust his show for his audience. It gets kinda awkward for everyone when a lot of his show you have to depend on listening to music. And the audience is deaf. But I think everyone enjoyed him nonetheless.

I have been studying a lot about faith this week. Why is faith the first principle of the gospel? It's because faith is the driving force behind all the other principles! It is the power that pushes us to follow the commandments. Faith means to have a firm belief, to trust, accept, and apply the Atonement. When we do these things, we are not idle in our beliefs. We are taking action and can further see the blessings of faith. In Preach My Gospel, it says, "Faith in Christ leads to action." This is one of my favorite quotes from PMG. We cannot say we have faith and not act as is we don't. We must show that faith through actively increasing our faith. We need to "try as hard as we can to learn about and become more like our Savior. We want to learn about what His commandments are and then obey them." Sister Pendleton came up with a great way to have faith and to build it:

Follow Him - do as He would do and follow the commandments
Accept Him -  He is the Savior of the world
Improve yourself - try everyday to become better
Trust in Him - Show that belief in Him and give Him yourself
Help those around you - serve others

I love you all and I challenge each of you to go out of your way every day to help others! This Christmas time is about Christ and His arrival to this world. Let's thank Heavenly Father for His Gift and do Him a favor by blessing the lives of all His children!

Love you!
Sister Crawford

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's too hot....It's too cold...

Sister Crawford would like everyone to know that finally in the last days of November, it started to get cold. And when Sister Crawford says cold, she means 65 degrees. She pities people elsewhere.

The reason Sister Crawford is talking in third person is because Sister Crawford does not want to bore people who read her letter. Thus, she tries to shake things up. Hopefully this language does not confuse people.

Thanksgiving was so great! President and Sister Olsen (of the Deaf Branch, but they are hearing leaders) planned on having us over for Thanksgiving, and Sister Stewart was jealous, so she had the ASL district over a couple nights before for a Thanksgiving dinner and birthday celebration for her son on a mission. Sister Crawford and her district had lots of fun. The district  is like a family so they assigned people to different positions in the family. Sister Pendleton is the dramatic one, Sister Stucki is the argumentative one, Sister Crawford is the sassy one, and Sister Stewart is the crazy aunt. It all fits, doesn't it? :)

And then the ASL district had Thanksgiving with the Olsens'. The first part of the day, Sister Crawford and her companions taught four lessons, which is unheard of on Thanksgiving, so score! Then they went to a service project. Finally they headed over to the Olsens' house. The whole district played football, and then we had dinner. It felt so good to be in a home where one can feel comfortable and know that lice won't jump on you if you sit on the couch. But that's a story for another day.

Sister Crawford and her companions had a very successful week. They taught 26 lessons, when the standard of excellence in the mission is 15 and the other ASL kids are teaching about that on average. They picked up four new investigators on top of the ones they had been teaching before. They started teaching a woman named Zion Berry. Fun fact: she had her name changed to that. And she's not a member. Isn't that cool? She is so sweet and is just drinking in the lessons! Another investigator the companionship picked up was Thuy. The companionship had been just going through the VP (the videophone that Sorenson gives to deaf people for free. It's quite wonderful, actually.) and see her name. They did not recognize the number so they called it, not expecting anyone to answer. Someone answered. At first Thuy was hesitant. The companionship asked her what she was thankful for (it was Thanksgiving) and she started giving them her address. The companionship was shocked. Then Thuy realized she had a friend who was being taught by the companionship and was very happy and excited to see the companionship. Hooray!

Sister Pendleton gave her farewell talk on Sunday and everyone was terribly sad. This branch loves her so much and is so connected to her. The ASL missionaries did a musical number in which they sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" to the tune of "Homeward Bound" and had Sister Pendleton do a beautiful interpretation of it. The entire congregation was either very tuned in or crying. It was so wonderful to see them all feel the spirit.

Ok, to be serious now, I will switch to first person again. I have been thinking a lot about the premortal existence this week, as I am reading Jesus the Christ. I thought about how when people feel the spirit, they say it pierced them to the very center. Why would it pierce them to the very center? Have any of you heard a voice very familiar to you that you haven't heard in a while? And does that voice bring a poignant feeling to your heart that you don't normally feel when you hear other people's voices? I think it is the same with the still small voice. It is because our spirits have heard that still small voice before. We heard that voice before we were born. We heard that voice teach us. We heard it present the great Plan of Salvation. We heard it comfort us right before we were sent down to Earth. And our spirits recognize that voice that is so near and dear to us. How great will be that same feeling of joy when we are in the presence of that voice once again!

Sister Crawford wishes everyone a fantabulous week full of love, happiness, and CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!!

Love you all!

Sister Crawford

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Folks, we have a baptismal date!

Well, not us specifically, but it was a combined effort between the Elders and us. Kevin Rico is getting baptized in two weeks! He is as ready as an eight year old can possibly get. But hopefully, the blessings he and his family receive will show the rest of the family how wonderful this ordinance really is. To be honest, at this point in time, all I want out of life is to get to see this family have a happily ever after. It will be hard; they definitely have their challenges. But despite it all, I know they can achieve that happiness.

This week has been an interesting one. The pressure is really on now. I have quite a bit to do while I am here and it all seems pretty intimidating, and quite frankly impossible. But that is the greatest thing about being a missionary: this is not our work. This is the Lord's work and it is His time. We are just one of the means to the end. Yes, it requires a tremendous load of patience, and we all know how hard that is for me. But I have already seen how much more patient I have become. This work here with these deafies really requires that extreme patience. And the work I have with these crazy teenagers requires it too. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Now for the weekly "Deaf Excuses". These are the excuses I hear from Deaf people about why they can't to different things for whatever reason they give. Take them as you will.
-I can't walk, my shoulder is bruised.
-I can't pray, my hand itches.
-I didn't come to church "cuz ima thug."

I gave my first talk on the mission yesterday. Of course the person before me only spoke for two minutes leaving me with 35 minutes to talk. And of course I didn't prepare, like usual (in my defense I had no time to do so this week). So that was fun. But everyone said I did well, so yay me!

Now to confess my moment of weakness. Here is how it went down. We as an ASL district are going over to President and Sister Olsen's house for Thanksgiving and they assigned the missionaries to bring pie. So we went out and bought a frozen pumpkin pie. Sister Pendleton really wanted to eat the pie. "Sister Crawford, can I eat the pie?" "No." "Pleeeeeaaassee???" "No." "But it looks really good..." "No." So that went on for about five or six days. Then one night she wakes me and Sister Stucki up at midnight, forces us out of bed, and there on the floor was the thawed out pie and three forks. We ended up eating about two-thirds of the pie. In my defense, I was half asleep. Let's just say that the next day I couldn't eat anything because my stomach hated me. I was weak. Sister Pendleton is very proud of herself.

Now for a few questions I have gotten to be answered: 

Yes, I spend 3-4 hours in the car most days, because we cover four missions and deaf people don't tend to live all on the same street like we would want them to.

I am not getting car sick. Thankfully.

The number of people at church on a normal basis: 40-50

The ASL is coming along. It can be a little frustrating, but I am definitely getting it. We don't use a lot of pure ASL, which is my latest frustration, but we use the signs... I don't use MSL myself, but mainly because I don't know it yet. I know a few signs though. Mostly what I do is "Pidgin" which a combination of English and American Sign Language. Basically that means ASL with really bad grammar.

We cover 4 missions and have one deaf branch, yes. But there is also a branch up in the LA mission and one over in Riverside. We lose a lot of people to Riverside because people move over there for whatever reason.

Okey dokey! I think that's all! Love you all!

Sister Crawford

Monday, November 17, 2014

I know I'm not supposed to pick favorites, but....

So my favorite people this week are:

Veronica. As always. This woman always puts a smile on my face whenever I think about her. We go over once a week to help her prepare to teach the blue box class. This week, since we had the branch fall party, we brought her face painting stuff for her to paint people's faces at the party. We had fun as she practiced on us. And in blue box class she taught the story of Ammon. The class did a FANTASTIC job of acting it out. I especially loved when Alejandro chopped off the arms of on of our hearing leaders, Sister Daun, and Elder Peck. And when Juana, the king, "fell asleep". I love these guys.
Veronica practices painting on Sister Stucki
Sister Stewart. My comps and I are 99.78% positive she is a literal angel that God gave special permission to come to Earth without forgetting due to the veil. No joke. She not only feeds us because we never get fed by members, but she serves without a second thought. For example: We had a temple tour this week and we were bringing the Ricco family. Their car broke down and we had no way to get them down to the temple. We called up Sister Stewart to ask her if she knew anyone who could bring them down, and she said, "Well I'll do it! :)" We didn't mean to have her do it! But she willingly took time out of her busy Saturday to take them down. It doesn't stop there. She and Sister Pendleton went to pick them up, but as they were on their way, Elder Peck called them to let them know the Riccos' car was fixed but needed oil. Sister Stewart, without hesitation, asked what kind of oil. The next 20 minutes consisted of Sister Stewart and Sister Pendleton running to three different stores to get the oil, and she spent $40 on oil just for them. When Sister Pendleton asked Sister Stewart why she did that, she replied, "This family will not be converted until they see how much they are loved and cared for. If I can be of any help in that, then I will." She is truly a saint. She also bought all the face painting stuff for Veronica to use for the fall party, all without anyone asking her to. She searches out for service opportunities and doesn't hesitate to follow through with them immediately. If I can become half the woman she is, I will be more than satisfied with who I will become.
Sister Stewart being the gorgeous woman that she is
The Ricco Family. Alberto, Maria, and the three boys, Kevin, Brandon, and Edward. I adore this family. It is hard teaching them when Alberto is very educated, but wants to join the church for the welfare, Maria is hesitant for that reason, and the boys are always bouncing off the walls. But my two favorite parts of this week: 1) When we finally figured out the best way to teach Maria (she has Ushers and is pretty blind and is deaf) and we had three amazing lessons with her. 2) We took the family down to the temple tour and I could see the light of Christ shining in their eyes as they learned about how their family can be sealed for all time and eternity. I could see how Alberto and Maria's minds were being changed about their decision not to get married and how they could have their boys sealed to them. This was such a huge help and push in their investigation of the church. I really really hope they make the right decision. I can tell how much Heavenly Father loves them and wants them to be together forever.
Edward, Brandon and Kevin with Sister Crawford
 I hope all of you had a wonderful week and you all saw the hand of the Lord in your lives. We as a companionship always make a point to see how we saw the Lord's hand in our lives every day. It truly helps us come closer to Him and develop that personal relationship with Him.

I love each and every one of you!
Sister Smyly Crawford \|,,|

Friday, November 14, 2014

That Moment When....

When you realize how much work you have to do these next 16 months.

When you realize how wonderful these people are, even if some drive you batty.

When you feel Heavenly Father's love for every single person you meet, and you are the instrument through which they can realize that love for themselves.

When you have to completely rely on the spirit to know how to best help an investigator who has no hearing, basic language skills, and little eyesight.

When Elder Cardon from the Seventy comes down to zone conference and just feeds us spiritual knowledge.

When someone stops you randomly somewhere and compliments you on your red hair and you say "Thank you!" but secretly wonder if any of these people have seen a red-head before.

When you realize that your district is your family, and we all support each other in everything, no matter what.

When you finish a long day at the Mata Deaf Expo (where 2000 deaf people gather to buy/sell crafts, t-shirts, and deaf technology) and you look down at the three pages full of contact information and think, "Yes! I love this! So many people we can teach! Let's do this!"
Sister Crawford and Sister Pendleton
Sister Crawford and Sister Pendleton with some Deaf Children at the MATA Deaf Expo, watching some interpreted ASL videos.
When you finish the fifth day in a row, completely exhausted, a headache, and hungry, but knowing that you worked your hardest, and that is exactly what you needed to do, and the satisfaction that comes from that.

When you are half awake in the middle of the night having a half awake dream where you are supposed to be planning for an investigator, because that is what your body is used to doing, and you manage to wake yourself up, laugh, then go back to sleep.

When you cannot stop laughing because the elders in your district created their own version to "My Girl" but it is "My Sister" and they sing to your companion at the surprise 9-month party you threw for her.

When you finally get through to someone and know that you are only a couple of lessons away before they finally agree to be baptized.

When the other sisters call you saying they have an investigator with a baptismal date and all the other elders tell you they got a baptismal date that day, and the joy you feel when you realize that that is one more person receiving salvation.

When you have p-day on Wednesday instead of Monday and you know that your mama is going to kill you for not writing her on Monday :)  (Mama here, I will admit, I was concerned! :))

When you hear for the 4,985th time, "So if you are from Alabama, why don't you have an accent?" and you have to turn to your companion so they can explain, "She does, but it comes out the more she talks, I promise." because you don't want to explain it again.

When you have to really control your impatience with California traffic.

When you realize that since you are an ASL missionary, you will be dealing with said California traffic for about three to four hours every day.

When you think, "Wait, it's Sunday?? Again?? Man, this time is moving fast." and then you realize you have already finished two months of your mission and think, "There is not enough time for all of this!"

When you hope that everything you write in your letter home makes sense, even if it is all whims of thought that you want to tell people.

When Sister Crawford says to everyone reading this letter, "I love you all! Thank you for your support; I feel it everyday. :) :) "


Sister Smyly Crawford

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Oh Hey! I survived my first week!

Needless to say, I will have a very interesting time on my mission. I have had so many laughs and "....wait, what?" moments that I don't know how anyone couldn't love their mission. 

 Let's just start this email with this. I MET DAN REYNOLDS. And if you don't know who that is, he is the lead singer for Imagine Dragons. See, what had happened was, we were helping a hearing leader with the wedding for her daughter. I made the flower girls' flower crowns (which turned out great, by the way) and since she loves us, she and her daughter asked us to be at the reception (guarding the presents, so that there was actually a purpose for us here). Dan Reynolds and his wife sang a brand new song for the first dance. Why was he there? He's best friends with the groom. No big deal. And let's be honest, this was basically the only reason we went to the reception in the first place. I didn't want to take a picture with him or get his autograph, because we were at a wedding, and that's tacky. However, my companions and the mother of the bride were talking with him and had gotten a picture with him before I could blink, and then they pulled me over for a picture too. Good thing he is super nice...

Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons and Sister Crawford
Now, I want all of you to know that testimony meeting in the Fullerton 7th Deaf Branch is the greatest thing that has ever existed. I don't think I have stifled so many laughs in my life. Did you know that actual pieces of the Book of Mormon are missing and that Sister C has them? She is more than willing to share! And she encourages you all to have a Signs of the Times chart (on a scroll, no less) to track the Second Coming. Don't worry, she brought it with her up to the stand so we can know exactly what it looks like (good thing it is about ten feet long when fully unfurled). Apparently that was one of the calmest, sanest testimony meetings that has happened before, so I am in for a treat. From self proclamations of claiming to be God, to saying Russia is going to hell, you can learn a lot of interesting things in this branch. 

But I want you to know that I absolutely love my mission. Everyday I can feel Heavenly Father's love for every person. I work with so many different people, from all walks of life. For instance, Juana cannot communicate with a language, and has no job, and makes money from turning in the cans and water bottles others help collect for her. Yet she is so humble and loving. She pays tithing on that money she gets from water bottles. Every time I have the privilege of meeting with her, I feel an overwhelming sense of the love her Father in Heaven has for her. She is truly a child of God. A person from a different circumstance, Cecilia, has a husband and three teenage girls. Her girls pay her no mind, and go off and do very bad things. She takes care of two other men who have to live in the apt with them. In the past year and a half, they have had to live in about three to four places, including hotel rooms, because they do not have money. Yet I see her love for the gospel and how she clings to it when she has nothing else to cling to. I can feel Heavenly Father's love for her every time I see her. 

I know every single one of us are children of God, and He loves us. I know that even in the darkest of times, we can turn to Heavenly Father in prayer and He will answer us with peace and comfort. Jesus Christ has already atoned for us. He has already taken our burdens upon Himself. Our suffering is His suffering, our sorrows are His sorrows, our pain is his pain. He loves us and will always be there to lift us up when we are down. I know these things are true. I love all of you and I pray for all of you every night in my prayers. 

Sister Smyly Crawford \|,,|

Monday, October 27, 2014

Greetings from the front lines!

I. Love. My. Mission.

But really, I am loving this so far. It started out with leaving the mission home with my companions, Sister Pendleton and Sister Stucki. They are dolls. Love them. They are so loving, patient with my torrent of questions, and we all have so much fun together. We have only been together for six days now, but I already feel so much a part of the team. I am so glad I got them.
Sister Crawford, Sister Pendleton and Sister Stucki
My district is so fantastic. They are just awesome. They are including me so much and are showing me so much love. They are a blast to hang out with and are rocking this teaching lessons thing. I am so lucky to be a part of this district.
Haha, so my branch I serve in... I love them. They are insane but I love them. They are all on different levels of communication skill; some cannot sign a single sign, and others are pro at ASL, while others are good at using Mexican sign language (MSL), and you also have those who sign SEE (where you sign everything as if it had same grammar as English and has very literal signs), and then you get some who sign a mixture of EVERYTHING and it is crazy. So basically I need to learn a few versions of sign language while I am here. I am actually super excited about that.

A highlight of some of my favorite people I have met so far:

Monica. Oh Monica. What a sweetheart! She was baptized the Sunday before I got here. When we went over to visit her, she just blew me over with her awesome testimony and sweet spirit. She is so level headed and still has so much fun loving others. I can tell she has been through a lot in her life. A lot, meaning abuse, and getting kicked out of the house for no reason, and probably more. But she does not even let any of that keep her back from learning about the gospel and loving others. She is such an example to me.

Veronica is quite possibly my favorite. Yes, I have favorites. She used to not know any sign language whatsoever before a couple of sister missionaries started teaching her. Now she is about half educated in it, has been baptized for about a year, and has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She is expert at sewing. Apparently, she looked at a car seat cover, then turned back to her sewing machine and whipped one out exactly like the first. She teaches the blue box class at church (blue box means the same thing as gesture. It describes people who do not know any, or very very little, sign language.) and is so wonderful at it. We go over to her place to help her prepare for it. Yesterday, at church, blue box class was awesome. We had a lesson on King Benjamin and why it is important to face the temple and always go back. We made a tent out of chairs and a sheet and we acted out, coming out of the tent, seeing the picture of the temple, and going to the temple. It was adorable. Sister Pendleton and I were beside ourselves with love and laughter with the other people in the class. Veronica is the greatest.

Juana is such an adorable, lovely woman. She is completely blue box, but that does not keep her back from loving every person she meets. She is absolutely one of the most loving people I have met here. She considers herself the mom-like figure for all the sister missionaries and remembers each and every one that she has met since she first started to learn about the gospel.
Earthquake!  (2.8 on the Richter Scale)
So I see you all have seen that I had an earthquake the other day. You spoiled my surprise! But guess what! I have now had three! I had two that day (last....Thursday?) and one this morning while we were studying. I love it. So. Much. The only annoying thing is that each time they happen, I feel it, but I don't stop to think about it because it just feels like someone slammed a door down the hall. My companions tell me I have to stop praying for earthquake experiences because they don't want anymore and apparently they almost never had any until I got here. Hahahahaa :) :) 

Fun fact: We actually now cover FOUR missions!! Yay! We cover all of Anaheim, Irvine, Arcadia, and Long Beach. Oh yes. We are awesome. And because we cover so much, we are the only mission in the world with this much freedom. We are allowed outside our mission. Some people are allowed outside too, but not to this extent. We are so special, I love it.

One last thing, the lesson I expect this mission will teach me the most is patience. And good thing too, because that's what I need to learn most. With maybe two or three exceptions, everyone in our branch and that we teach are on welfare. They don't have jobs because they will lose welfare and their job would pay them less than welfare pays them. And on top of that, many members and investigators are only such because they want welfare from the church. This bugs me. But, I love every one of them, and I can see the light of Christ in each one of them. Even if they are in this for the wrong reason, they are still a part of this gospel and will eventually see how the gospel blesses them far more than welfare helps them.

I love you all and pray for all of you every day!

Love love love, 
Sister Smyly Crawford

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Arrived in Anaheim!!

President Taggart, Sister Taggart and Sister Crawford

I have arrived in Anaheim! With only 2.5 hours of sleep, and a loooong morning of travel, I am sitting in my mission home getting to know my wonderful Mission President and his wife. I will be able to meet my companions in about an hour. They are Sisters Stucki and Pendleton. I am so excited to finally meet them, esp since I have already been in contact with them before I even left for the MTC. California... This is going to take some getting used to! I'm not in Utah or Alabama anymore, that's for sure. But it is beautiful here. I have already experienced the terror that is California driving. This will be interesting. But I know I will come to love it here. My Mission President and Wife are so kind and loving. I already feel included. They even bought me a late breakfast and are making me take a nap so I already love them. :)

Sister Crawford

p.s.  Xina here, we were able to VP (video phone) with Smyly on Sunday night in lieu of the customary phone call from the airport when leaving Salt Lake City.  It was so good seeing her and she just glowed.  Her ASL has improved immensely and she seemed like she was in heaven.  She is gonna show California what she is made of!  :)

Friday, October 17, 2014


Four More Days until I hit the battlefront! Woohoo!!

First of all, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your emails, DearElders, and letters! I get so much, the elders in my district are successfully rolling their eyes every time they hand me a letter. Every. Single. Day. So congratulations on that! :)

Second of all, this week has been flat out awesome. I cannot even describe it. But I will try!!

One of our teachers, Brother Featherstone (remember that our teachers are recently returned missionaries) had a game for us.   Uh oh.   He herds us out into the hallway and we see that he has made a giant V on the floor with tape. He tells us that we each have to walk with one foot on either side of the V until we couldn't go any further.   Oookkkkk.... But don't worry! He didn't make the sisters try too hard, especially since we were all wearing straight skirts. But the elders he made go the whole way.  And in his defense, he did make sure to tell them to stop going any further if we were going to rip our clothes.  Anyhoo, he goes down the line of elders and they each try it. One elder, two elder, but then the THIRD elder. He starts walking. And walking. Then he staggers a little and we hear a POP. In a flash, he jumps up, pins his legs together, and leans on the wall. He had ripped his pants from crotch to knee! Everyone, including himself, was laughing harder than we thought we could. We had to wheel out one of the chairs so he could sit in it and cover his lap with his suit coat, because he couldn't walk. He was a great sport about it. His companion and another elder ran to get him a change of pants, and when they got back, they wheeled him to an empty classroom to change. So funny.

The second thing I wanted to share with you was an awesome teaching experience. We teach in the TRC, which basically means we teach volunteers, who may or may not be members. For me and Sister Stromness, it is a little awkward because we always get stuck with the recent RMs who end up teaching us. Cool. Back in the classroom we have no idea what to do. Bro. Featherstone comes in and mentions how he knows one of the RMs we taught. He offered us to teach him, as himself, to get comfortable with teaching members. Ok, cool. S. Stromness and I start separately studying to see what we could teach him. I open to a page in Preach My Gospel and see a pic of Christ and a thought pops into my head that why not do 'strengthening a personal relationship with Jesus Christ'? Ok, cool. So we discuss how to do that and come up with prayer and scripture study. Bro. Featherstone comes back in and sits down. We chat with him for a bit and then offer a prayer. After 'Amen' he turns to us and says, "Ok, sorry, I know you have something prepared, but I was wondering if you could help me with something. You know I have been home for five months and I have found that my scripture study and prayer have been lacking and not the same as before on my mission. How can I fix this?"   *sly look at Sister Stromness*  "Well, Bro. Ben, interesting you should ask!" Hahaha so we proceed to teach him the lesson we had already prepared. Because it applied. Then another thought popped into my head. "Ben, do you ever study and pray as if you were still teaching investigators, but from the point of view that YOU are the investigator?" His eyes get really wide and red and he becomes really focused as I explain how to do that. At the end of the lesson, after the role-playing is over, he tells us that he actually had never thought of that before! We actually helped him! We had even surprised him with how well we taught with the spirit! And this is all shocking to me, because he is going to be a general authority some day soon and he knows almost everything. Seriously. So it was interesting that those thoughts that popped into my head were specifically the answers to the prayer he had said the night before to Heavenly Father. I love this. I love teaching people and listening to the spirit to help them solve their problems. Ben (Bro. Featherstone) was not the only person we helped this week while listening to the spirit.

Last but not least, I want to give you a summary of one devotional we had this week by Elder Larry R Lawrence of the Seventy through my eyes. Satan has NO power over you. He can try, oh he can try. But he is not able to read your thoughts. He has NO power to read your thoughts. He is not able to do that. He only knows the things he does know from your words, facial expressions, and actions. And he takes notes. Then he has four tactics he uses against us: direct temptation, lies and deception, contention, and discouragement. Real original, right? But why should we fear? We can literally say, "Get thee hence, Satan" and he will flee. He has absolutely NO power over us. How did Christ live His life so perfectly? Besides the fact that He is the Son of God? He had a mortal life, the same as others, so he had to have been tempted more than what it says in the scriptures, right? But what I realized is this: Christ understood that Satan has no power. He understood the tactics Satan uses. He understood how to simply overcome him. If we remember these things, we can live as Christ did. Yes, we will still be tempted, but we can have more confidence living in this world and teaching our children to be safer from evil if we remember these things.

I love you all, and I pray for you every night!

Sister Smyly Crawford

Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's Christmas!!

Well, not really, but it sure felt like it. General Conference was fantastic. I have officially decided my top three favorites.

1. Elder Bednar.
2. Elder Holland.
3. Elder Oaks.

I love how they have no fear to tell it like it is and put people in their place. In these days, there is no time or room for too much sugarcoating. Love it. Love it love it love it.

I am really enjoying all the emails everyone is sending me!! Thank you so much for the love and support you are giving me! I apologize right now if I don't respond this week, as I have even less time today to write. I pray for all of you!

OH! Sunday night devotional: Vai Sikahema. The greatest devotional I have seen thus far. Not only is he hilarious, but he cares so much about missionaries and missionary experiences. He makes the most of his life to spread the gospel where ever he is. What an inspiration. And Tuesday was Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy. Fun fact, this week we were at 88,034 missionaries in the world. The gospel is true.

I am really starting to enjoy teaching. My lessons are less forced and awkward. Finally. I am more comfortable with the language, even when I am not using it and only gesturing.

Ya'll want a challenge? I want you to try this. Try having someone guess what you are saying while sitting on your hands, not moving your mouth and no sounds period, while only using facial expressions and body language. And try having them guess "Your First Baptism". Hardest thing ever. We eventually got it, but my goodness.

This week I learned a lot more about focusing on the blessings of our life and not on the trials. It is so easy to focus on the trials and problems in our lives and not on all the blessings that Heavenly Father is pouring down on us. Coupled with that, I hope you all read or watched President Uchtdorf's talk in the Priesthood meeting. When Christ told His apostles one of them will betray Him, what did they do? Did they turn about and wonder which of them it would be? No, they did a self-evaluation and asked, Is it me? How often do we think that the person with the problem is the other person? How often to we blame others for our problems? We need to first cast the beam out of our own eye before even looking for a beam in anothers eye. This has been a lesson I have always been learning, and I am so grateful President Uchtdorf addressed it for my own benefit.

Another experience I have had happened about two minutes and 38 seconds ago. In the middle of my email. Because I am Sister Training Leader, the sisters come to me if they need anything. A sister approached me asking if I could help her get a blessing. As we all gathered in a room for that blessing, I could feel the Spirit preparing to show its power. As our 18 year old zone leader, who has given one, maybe two, blessings before put his hands on this sister's head, and started speaking, I knew that it wasn't his voice. It didn't even sound like him. The jests and teasings that usually come out of his mouth did not show themselves here. As I looked at his eyes while he spoke, He had a certain light coming from them. I almost am inclined to believe that his spirit was not there and it was replaced by an angel from on high as he relayed the message that our Heavenly Father wanted this sister to hear. I know that priesthood blessings are from the Lord. They are not of men, nor are they men's words. They are the Lord's words of comfort and relief. I hope we all remember this wonderful power the Lord has given us in this day. I hope we all recognize how easily we have access to this godly power, should we have faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I love you all!

Sister Crawford \|,,|

Friday, October 3, 2014

I Love to See the Temple

But really though, p-day is the greatest. It's not that I want to wear pants again, or that I can write ya'll (which is great, don't get me wrong). Why do I look forward to p-day every week? Cause it's actually t-day. TEMPLE DAY. I LOVE going to the temple. It is by far the best part of my week. I love the peace I feel there. I love the things that I learn every time I am there. I love love love it. Beyond words.

I love being Sister Training Leader. I have had so many opportunities to help other sisters, and even elders, through this calling. It has helped develop the love I have for others. I have learned that sometimes the only way one can fix a problem is to show love and support. Just show them you love them, you won't show an inch of judgement, and you will help them in any way you possibly can. It's one of the best ways I can show Christ-like love right now.

GENERAL CONFERENCE IS THIS WEEKEND. Are ya'll ready?? I don't know why all of the sudden I am eager for General Conference.  Let's be honest, I slept through half the sessions before now. But now that the Spirit of Eager Learning has invaded my quiet bubble of sleeping through conference, I will be staying awake and learning all I can.

Don't even worry. When I get home, it won't be weird to hear my first name again. No one actually says "Sister Crawford" here (since we are in an ASL district and no one says anything period). They just sign it or wave to get my attention. Or in the case of Aryanna Hyde's district, I am Smyly. Because Aryanna and I are still getting used to this whole Sister Sister thing. Ha, I promise we'll get better.
Also, a funny scripture study I had. Alma 32 is about faith, right? Well if you change out the words "faith" and "words" with "dating" it is perfection. My companion showed me this and I about died from laughter. It starts in about verse 26. In verse they start getting serious and get engaged. In verse 41 they get married. Hilarious! I know I am missionary. I am focusing. It was just funny and I wanted to share it.
Teaching is going well! I am starting to learn how to trust the spirit as I teach and just do as it says. I love teaching our investigator Ramon. He is deaf and knows no ASL and only reads very little Spanish. Talk about a challenge! But people like him are generally more willing to learn and more open to the spirit. Our other investigator, Taylor, is wonderful too. For ya'll information, they rarely trust us MTC missionaries with real investigators. Our teachers role-play a person they know and that is who we teach. Taylor is actually one of our teacher's grandfather, and with what Taylor has told us, it breaks my heart and lifts me up with the personal knowledge I have of that teacher now. I can see how the Savior has worked in her life and how if we depend on Him, we will get better.

I love you all!

Sister Smyly Crawford \|,,|

Friday, September 26, 2014

MTC Bacon

I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors I make. The ASL grammar is affecting my writing and makes me sound illiterate.

OK. First of all, something I keep forgetting to tell ya'll. I have found the reason why missionaries get fat at the MTC! There is literally bacon in at least one dish, every meal, every day. Bowls of bacon for breakfast. Bacon in my cole slaw. Bacon in my green beans. It has become a game for me and one other elder to play "Find the Bacon".

I am so glad I am here at the MTC. Yes, sometimes (well, more often than just sometimes) I feel like I'm in a jail. HOWEVER. We are getting to participate in some of the greatest experiences. We had Tad R. Callister and Elder Richard G. Scott come to talk to us last week and this week we had Elder M. Russel Ballard come this week! And on top of it all, we got to participate in the Ogden Temple Dedication! What I remember most from the temple dedication was during the dedicatory prayer, you could hear the sheer power in President Monson's voice as he said the words, "We dedicate this temple." Wow. I would not have been at all surprised if an angel had popped into the camera angle. It was awe inspiring.

I have gotten another calling! Sister Stromness and I have been called to served as Sister Training Leaders for our branch. Meaning, we work alongside the Zone Leaders in helping the new missionaries make their transition into the MTC, make sure they know what they need to know, conduct meetings, and especially be that support for the new sisters coming in. They sure need it their first week, and that's where I am more than happy to come in. One of the new sisters is Sister Zugcic (don't ask me how to pronounce that. It's way more complicated than it seems and even after three days I don't know how to say it properly.) who is from England. Imagine the most stereotypical British accent you have ever heard, exaggerate it a little, and that's her accent. It is so sweet and I love hearing her talk. So is so nice, and I'm glad she is a little sassy so I'm not the only sassy one here.

Any music that is not mission appropriate has been dubbed "Babylonian Music". I miss my Babylonian music.

For those who do not sign, I will describe a little how ASL grammar seems. Note: this is not the correct way. It just seems this way. Ok. You know how book or movie titles have certain words capitalized and others not? Take those not capitalized words and throw them out and bury them. You don't need them. Now those other words? You sign those. But you have to move your eyebrows up for some, and for others you move them down. On top of it all, repeat a few of those words at the end of your sentence for good measure. This has been a lesson by Sister Crawford.

Well, I hope everything is going well for ya'll! I love every single one of you and think about you often!

Love you,

Sister Crawford \|,,|

Monday, September 22, 2014

Drinking from the Firehose

I got to teach my first investigator! Her name was April. She moved from NYC to Provo to go to UVU. We had four lessons with her and she agreed to be baptized! I found my problem is not my lack of knowledge of ASL, but my wanting to spill all of my spiritual knowledge to the investigator when they just asked a spiritual question. It's like how we tease you, Dad: Ask me the time, I'll tell you how to build a watch. April, as it turns out, is actually Sister Livingood. One of our teachers. So it will be fun to see her in class and try not to call her April.

Can I just say, my teachers are AWESOME. We have Brother Horlacher, Brother Featherstone, and Sister Livingood. Bro H is hearing and served his ASL mission in San Jose, CA. Bro F is deaf and served his English mission in Australia where he learned Australian Sign Language too. What a boss. And, we don't know too much about Sister L just yet, but that will be corrected soon. But seriously. These teachers though.

My companion and I are having fun together. The poor girl has to be subjected to my anti-everything mood in the mornings. I just don't do mornings. And we have fun with the other sisters, Sister Garcia and Sister Slaughter. They are all super cute and funny, and I am glad they appreciate my sarcasm and sass, haha.

The elders in our ASL classes? Let's just say mine and Sis S favorite sign is signing "Elder" and shaking our heads. They are so funny. I have a blast with all of them and I am glad those who are fluent are willing to help me improve my ASL.

So the devotionals here? They really take them seriously. Sunday Devotion we had Tad R. Callister. Wow. And Tuesday? Elder Richard G. Scott. And apostle of the Lord. And this is a normal thing. Wow.

If I could make you all do whatever I wanted, I would make you go watch Elder David A Bednar's talk, "The Character of Christ." It will change your life. I absolutely loved it. It is something I will definitely go and watch again. And it also reminds me why Elder Bednar is my favorite apostle, the close second being Elder Holland.

Besides ASL, what else have I learned here? What has already changed about me? Well, I learned a lot, and there is no way I could list them all here, but what has changed? I have found my prayers have changed. Sometimes we get in the habit of praying for the same things without any feeling at all. I am definitely one of those people. But I am starting to really pay attention to the time I have to talk to my Father in Heaven, and allow him to comfort and guide me as I move along this path he has set before me. I have also felt the spirit is with me more and more often. I appreciate every moment I have it with me. It is a wonderful feeling.

Remember, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith!"

Love you all!

Sister Smyly Crawford \|,,|

Friday, September 12, 2014

Whew! Talk About Crazy!


So those first two days, huh? Craziness. From getting up at 3:50 in the morning, flying for way too many hours, meeting my companion, and meetings galore, I am still trying to catch my footing. A special shoutout to Hege Farnsworth for picking me up at the airport! :) You are wonderful! I arrived late at the MTC (due to my flight getting in later), which was totally fine. I did not miss too much. However, my host took me to the right room, but wrong building, so I did not get to meet my class until after the opening meeting with the MTC presidency. 

I was able to find my companion after that, and she is super sweet. Her name is Sister Stromness, and she is from Riverton Utah! She is serving in the Vancouver Washington mission. Although we have not had too long to get to know each other yet, I know we will have a lot of fun together. We have a mutual agreement: she is patient with my anti-people mornings and I am patient with her ASL. We found that even in a day and a half, our ASL is getting better, as long as we only sign. I guess the gift of tongues will only help if we communicate solely in ASL.

My district is THE COOLEST. Just saying. We have four sisters and seven elders. Two of the elders are deaf, and one of the sisters is hard of hearing. Elder Snow is deaf and he has also been assigned to the California Anaheim mission, so we are making a special effort to be friends. Everyone else is going to different places all around the USA. Sister Garcia is hard of hearing and is very patient with the three of us other sisters as we constantly ask her questions how to sign this or that. Bless her.

Oh, and Aryanna? Oh...ahem....excuse me. SISTER Hyde. I see her several times a day! In Finnish, Sister is actually "Sisar" so I make a point to address her as "Seeeesaaaarrr" whenever I see her. I am not kidding when I say that I call that out and all the Finnish Sisters respond to it, like they believe that's how it is pronounced too. It's my source of amusement.

I sure hope those brothers of mine are appreciating that car and phone I left for them!! That's all they would talk about these last few weeks! :)  Ma, you are right! 24 hours are up! No more tears! :)

I am not sure I have much more to say... Just pray that I can catch on to this no talking, only signing, lack of communication thing. :)

Talk to ya'll next week!

Sister Crawford \|,,|

ps... Something the MTC president said the first night. It will be the thing I quote throughout my mission. "Let's talk about how we address people. There are no 'guys'. There are only 'Elders and Sisters'. The 'guys' are home dating their girlfriends." I am still laughing about that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Farewell Talk

Instead of a teary post about how much I will miss everyone (although I will) and about how excited I am to serve a mission for the Lord (although I am), I figured I would just post my farewell talk for you all so that you can be a part of my mission experience from beginning to end. Farewell, all, I will see you on the other side with a heart fuller than I ever could have imagined.

Good morning Brothers and Sisters. I am so happy to be here again with you and to be able to share my thoughts and testimony with you today.  As many of you know, I have chosen to serve a mission for the Lord for 18 months. I have been called to serve in Anaheim, California teaching in American Sign Language.  I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve the Lord and learn and grow through the experiences that I will have.
On my mission I will be able to spend all my time emulating the Savior and His life on earth.  Christ spent all of His time serving those around Him, caring for them and their needs.  He has asked us very clearly to be shining examples of Himself:
            “What manner of men aught ye to be?... Even as I am.” (3 Nephi 27:27)
            “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
            “I have given you an example, that ye should do even as I have done.” (John 13:15)
Elder Russell M Nelson, at a devotional on August 18, 1998, reminded us of five aspects of our Savior’s life that we can emulate in our lives. The first aspect is Love. If you were to go to any primary class and ask the children there what they know about the Savior, they would all tell you, “He loves me.” This is so true. He loves each and every one of us.  “Jesus loved His Father and His mother. He loved His family and the Saints. He loved the sinner without excusing the sin. And He taught us how we can show our love for Him.” 
His attribute of love includes “His compassion, kindness, charity, devotion, forgiveness, mercy, justice, and more.” I would like to focus on His charity. My favorite scripture concerning charity is in Moroni, chapter 7. Verse 45 lists several attributes of charity, “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Now, in verse 47 we read, “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.” So, charity is the pure love of Christ, and as we know, Christ only ever exhibited charity to all he met.  He IS the embodiment of charity. Knowing this, if we go back to verse 45 and insert Christ’s name in the scripture, we read, “ And [Christ] suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not [His] own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” For me this is the best description I have of my Savior in one verse.
An example of His love for us was His service. “He served His Father, and He served the people with whom He lived and labored.” Service is the majority of what missionaries do. They serve the people they meet, whether they meet the people on the street briefly, they have lessons with them, or if they are members of the ward. In this regard, our Savior is the best missionary. He served by healing, by feeding His disciples, by teaching, and giving His disciples ordinances.
The Savior’s emphasis on Ordinances is the second aspect Elder Nelson reminds us of.  Christ demonstrated the importance of baptism when He was baptized by John in the Jordan River. When questioned on why He was being baptized, he explained, “For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15) “Later the Lord instituted the ordinance of the sacrament. He explained the symbolism and administered its sacred emblems to His disciples.” He explained the importance of the partaking of these ordinances in Moses, chapter 6, verse 59, “Ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.”
The greatest example of the third aspect Elder Nelson gives us is recorded in John, chapter 17. This is where our Savior gives the great Intercessory Prayer. In it, the Lord teaches us how to Pray.  He communicates with His Father on our behalf, and demonstrates His eternal love for us.  It is a wonderful model of prayer that we are given. There are many other accounts of His prayers throughout his mortal ministry that demonstrate to us how to pray, and much more, how much He loves us.
Elder Nelson next describes the fourth aspect of the Savior’s life that we can learn from: Knowledge. Why was He the greatest teacher? “Was He a skilled instructor of engineering, mathematics, or science? As Creator of this and other worlds, He surely could have been. Or, as the Author of scripture, He could have taught literary composition very well.” What made His teaching above all else was that He taught truths of eternal significance. “Only through Him could we learn of our premortal existence and of our postmortal potential.”
It is at this point I would like to take a small tangent, yet still related, to Elder Nelson’s talk.  For me, while I have found that I can find the knowledge my Savior gives me in the scriptures, through prayer, through church attendance, and going to the temple, I have found that my greatest source of knowledge and comfort comes through my patriarchal blessing.  I have learned so much more about faith, obedience, and eternal happiness from my blessing than I have through anything else. Sure it is much, much shorter than the scriptures, and it is nothing like receiving revelation while spending time in the temple, but for me, my blessing never fails to teach me something new every time I read it.  More times than I can count I have gone to my patriarchal blessing for comfort and for guidance on how to go about a particular problem in my life.  Though it has been a few years since I received it, and though I have read it innumerable times, I still feel that very same Spirit and sweet peace when I read through that wonderful blessing.  Through studying my blessing, I have come closer to my Heavenly Father and His magnificent plan for me.  It brings me more relief than I can ever describe reading about who I was before coming to Earth and the blessings I may have should I remain faithful and obedient.  In our patriarchal blessings, we learn our lineage.  As a part of the line of Ephraim, I have the responsibility and call to bring the children of the lost tribes of Israel back into the fold.  I am so glad to know that I will have the blessings of this lineage, to know that I will have some extra blessings on my side as I go out into the mission to bring people to the gospel. Some peoples’ spiritual anchor (besides the Savior) is the scriptures. For others it may be temple ordinances. But for me, I feel closest to my Heavenly Father and loving Brother, Jesus Christ, when I am reading my patriarchal blessing.
My patriarchal blessing helps teach me Endurance, which is Elder Nelson’s final aspect of Jesus Christ’s life. He suffered through so much in His life. He suffered so much mocking and persecution. He grew up amongst the people who were supposed to be His people. But His people persecuted and crucified Him. Despite this, He endured to the end. He finished His assignment. He atoned for the sins of all humankind. For me, that is the greatest example of love he could give. He atoned for all the sins of the world, taking upon Him the sadness, burden, and heartache of every human being even if they would not thank Him. He endured to the end, and what a wonderful blessing for all of us that He did. I know that if he can make it through all of that, I can make it through anything.
How can we emulate these five aspects of Jesus Christ in our own lives? I will quote Elder Nelson on this because he sums it up so well.
Love for family and friends, great as it may be, is much more profound when anchored in the love of Jesus Christ. Parental love for children has more meaning here and hereafter because of Him. All loving relationships are elevated in Him. Love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ provides the illumination, inspiration, and motivation to love others in a loftier way.
Ordinances provide a focus for service of eternal worth. Parents should consider which ordinance is needed next by each child. Home teachers should think of an appropriate ordinance needed next in each family they serve.
The Savior’s example of prayer reminds us that personal prayer, family prayer, and prayerful pursuit of our assignments in the Church should become part of our lives. To know and to do the will of the Father provides great spiritual strength and confidence. On the Lord’s side is where we want to be.
Knowledge “of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be” allows us to act upon true principles and doctrine. That knowledge will lift our level of behavior. Acts that otherwise might be driven by appetite and emotion will be superseded by deeds shaped by reason and right.
A commitment to endure to the end means that we will not ask for a release from a call to serve. It means that we will persevere in pursuit of a worthy goal. It means that we will never give up on a loved one who has strayed. And it means that we will always cherish our eternal family relationships, even through difficult days of disease, disability, or death.”
Brothers and sisters, it is my testimony that Christ lives. He lives for us, and that through Him we can come to live with our Heavenly Father once again. Through temple ordinances we can gain exaltation and be with our families for eternity. I know that Christ is at the head of this wonderful church we are a part of. He guides His church through a modern day prophet, who is called of God to lead and direct this church. I know that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet and that he helped restore the gospel of Jesus Christ to this dispensation. I know that if we study and ponder the scriptures we can gain more knowledge than we ever thought we could. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior so very much and I am grateful for the opportunity they have given me to serve my fellow men. These things I leave with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.