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 \|,,|