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 \|,,|