Saturday, December 26, 2015

General Authorties, Left and Right!

December 7, 2015

Nothing too crazy happened this week... Which is quite the rarity to say in this branch :)

It is nearing the end of the year, so it's time for the General Authority Mission tour! Whoooo!!! And our general authority this year is.... *drumroll*.... Elder Edward Dube! *cheers* He will be giving us a zone conference tomorrow, and I am very excited. He and President Taggart had a mission leadership council meeting this past Friday, which meant all the district leaders, zone leaders, and STLs had to come and sit for three hours while President Taggart and then Elder Dube trained them in whatever the subject was. Elder Snow (our deaf district leader) had to go, so he got a few of us fluent signers and brought us to interpret. I got to sit right next to Elder Dube. No big deal. He's really cool haha. I like him. Afterwards I turned to him to shake his hand and thank him for his training. He was very excited to ask me about just how many languages I know, ha. Only two, Elder Dube... But he asked me where I am from and he told me he was just in Alabama two weeks ago! He was the closest thing to home at the moment, so I appreciated him even more. I'm excited for zone conference tomorrow.

Rosario is doing great! She dove into the Book of Mormon and loves it. She had read five chapters in five days and turned to us and said, "Honestly, I feel like He is sitting right there next to me when I read." YES! :) Yes, Rosario, he might as well me. And, clearly, He has been preparing her for a while now. She also told us she is marrying her boyfriend (father of her three children) on the 12th. So we don't need to fight that battle, thank goodness. I'm so proud of her :)

We had a young women's activity this week and made and decorated cookies! They were originally going to be for the Branch Christmas party, but because they had stuck their fingers in everything, a call was made to not bring them to the party... haha. But the girls had a lot of fun. We were able to get Makayla (from the new family we are teaching) and her best friend Ellie to the party. They loved it! :) 

I cannot think of anything else that happened, so I'll end this here. I love you all! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is Christ's true church established on the Earth today, the priesthood is restored, and families can be together forever.

Sister Smyly Crawford

Clearly, God is at Work Here.

November 30, 2015

Hello, hello!

Ok, I know it has been forever since I wrote a nice long email for everyone. I do not have a good excuse. Crazy things have happened, and I will try to sum it up for you.

We had another deaf expo on Nov 14th. It was one of those events where we didn't have any obvious success and just hope that it planted seeds for the future. There was one exception, however, and her name is Hailey. She is a fourteen year old young woman who felt the spirit when talking to the missionaries. Fifteen minutes later she as back, crying, and asking to learn more. Since then, she has been reading the Book of Mormon like her life depends on it. She has done so wonderful. She is hearing and lives outside the boundaries, and her family is very much against it, but she is still going. She could really use some prayers, if anyone is looking for ways to assist in the work! :)

We started working with Jeaneth again. I love her drive to learn for herself what is true. She is so willing to read and learn. We noticed one night that her Spanish speaking skills were pretty good (she is hard of hearing and from Ecuador). We had a prompting to ask if she wanted to be taught in Spanish. She said she would have to see it happen side by side to know. As we left her house, I had a promoting to go to the nearest church building to see if the local Spanish missionaries would be there (she lives in the Long Beach mission, so finding the missionaries would take a lot more work than we wanted). We drove there, saying a prayer on the way that the missionaries would be there. We got there, and no cars were there. Something told me to have some faith and sit and wait. So we did. We parked, and waited. We said another prayer. I don't think I have ever used so much faith before. Actually, I don't think I ever experienced such faith before. After about four minutes, if that, after we said amen, a car pulled into the parking lot. And then another. And another. Hey look! Those are missionary cars! Wow! Wait... That's the Anaheim missionaries... From the Vietnamese program.... Okkkk... We told them we had prayed for the Long Beach Spanish missionaries, to which they responded, "Oh, wait. We have their number!" Yesss! God works in mysterious ways! :) We ended up getting the right missionaries at a lesson with Jeaneth. They brought their Relief Society president with them (what a woman haha) who was perfect for Jeaneth. We decided to hand the lesson over to the Spanish missionaries so Jeaneth could get a good idea. The spirit was so strong. She was understanding so well. The best part was when the elders looked at me to testify (up until then it was all in Spanish and I had no idea what was going on). But because I signed the testimony, and it was dead silent, the spirit just about punched a hole into her heart and she was so touched. Needless to say, she needs to be taught by the Spanish missionaries. She seemed to have understood so much more. I love her and will miss teaching her, but she is going to progress so well with them.

We are teaching Betty again too! Oh man, we had a great experience with her. Our first lesson was basically gauging her understanding and where she was at. She is from a Buddhist background, so we found she needed to know more about who Jesus Christ is.  Our second lesson with her was all about Christ. We showed her two bible videos and "Because of Him" video. The spirit was so strong. I again had the opportunity to testify about the power of Christ in my life. Addy (a member who is best friends with Betty) felt the spirit in the lesson and was crying, and Betty herself was looking a little teary. She asked us to continue to come back. It had been a little hard to contact her since, but she says she is willing to come to church.

A couple months ago we contacted a woman, a Sister Loew. She is hearing and is friends with a deaf woman named Kathy who lives near her. Kathy was born and raised in the church, but since she was married could not go to church. She always went to church when she went to visit family, however. We weren't allowed to go over to Kathy's house because her husband was very against the church. Well, about two weeks ago, we got a text from Sister Loew saying Kathy really needed help and that we could go and visit her now. Kathy's husband had started to realize how much the church could help his family, if only temporally. We went over this past week to meet with Kathy and her four daughters (all hearing). They are all so sweet!!! The girls' names are Mikayla (14), Justina (13), Diana (9), and Selena (6). They are all very excited to get involved in church. When we went over later and chatted with just Mikayla, we asked what had made her father change his mind, if only a little bit. She said he had for a long time very against the church and very strong minded in his Catholic traditions. However, he had started to realize how much the church really tried to take care of its members and really could help his family. He isn't yet ready to accept; he has not thought to let go of Catholicism. The girls are a little wary still of how accepting he will be of their becoming baptized. But he has had his heart softened, and he will continue to be softened. I firmly believe that hearts can be softened by watching dearly beloved people in our lives have their lives changed for the better. I also believe that even though some people join the church for welfare and food, they can become converted later. This is evident in so many miracles I have seen here.

Now, that all happened in the last few weeks. Not much happened besides that (that was all super miraculous) until this past Friday. Oh my goodness. That day... It was one of those days where you are still reeling, even days later. Let me explain.

First miracle, we got the Figueroa girls to commit to come to church and to learn something. They accepted. This is a huge miracle.

Second miracle, Magdalena and Ubaldo committed to talk about a temple sealing with our branch president. After being married for so long, they are still in love and want it to continue. They are so cute :)

Third miracle, Annie went and did her missionary work and got her sister and brother in law to give permission for her niece to become baptized. She had said nothing of it to us until Friday. We can totally get her baptized before the end of the year!

Fourth miracle, and the one I am still in shock about... Know those people I just mentioned who join the church for welfare and food? Sometimes we become too frustrated with them. No, they aren't doing things for the right reason, but miracles do, truly, happen to those surrounded by the gospel. We have one family who is very dear to me. They have come to church for quite a while now. They consist of a father, mother, and five children (most of them having children too). To be quite honest, many members of this family have intimidated the missionaries, even the missionaries who aren't scared of anyone. They can be involved in quite fearsome things. The parents and two youngest have been baptized, but the oldest three kids have never shown legitimate interest in the church, although they are willing to help their physically disabled parents to church. The oldest, Rosario, has been the one we never, ever would have thought would become truly involved and committed to church. She is probably the most intimidating of all of them. I swore in the first couple weeks of my mission that I would make her my best friend (probably because I thought I would be able to accomplish such a feat with such a woman). She has always been friendly to us if we were to chat with her. Her kids are adorable and love the missionaries. Well, we serve at the Bishops Storehouse now. Sister Loew (the hearing member who helps us with Kathy) introduced us to that. It is seriously my favorite service to do. I absolutely love it. Anyways, so we were there on Tuesday helping them out for the Thanksgiving rush. Rosario and her boyfriend came in to get their food order for their family. I figured I would say hi, so I did and we small talked for a minute, then went our separate ways. A few minutes later I got a very strong prompting:

Holy Ghost, "Sister Crawford, you need to go talk to her."
Me, "Ok, fine... I mean I already did..."
HG, "No, I mean you need to go boldly ask her if she will learn from you."
Me, "Uh, what?!"
HG, "You heard me."
Me, "You want me to go up to her and say, 'Rosario, I have known you for this long and I know you haven't learned. Will you learn from the missionaries?'"
HG, "Yes."
Me, "....."
HG, *stern look*
Me, "...fine."
I walk over to Rosario.
Me, "Rosario, I have to ask you something because it's my missionary duty."
Rosario, "Ok."
Me, "I have known you for this long and I have no idea what you want. Do you want to learn about Christ and how He can help you become happy? Is that something you want?"
Rosario, "Yeah, actually, it is something that I want."
Me, *shock*...... "Really?"
Rosario, "Yeah."
Me, "O....k.... You know this is not something I'm gonna force on you. You can say no."
Rosario, "No, I really want to."
Me, "And you know your kids really love it."
Rosario, "Haha, yeah they do."
Me, "So you know this means you have to come to church."
Rosario, "I'm willing to do it."
Me, "And you are ok sitting down and talking religion with us?"
Rosario, "Yes I am."
Me, *shake myself out of shock* "Ok! When can we come by this week?
Rosario, "Any time."
Me, "6:00 Friday?"
Rosario, "Sounds good!"

To be completely honest, I am still in shock... But the thing is... This is only a small part of the miracle. We went to our appointment and she immediately hopped up and we went to the kitchen to sit down and have a discussion. She was very serious about all of it. We had our opening prayer and then asked her what she hoped to get from our teaching her. She said she has done some bad things and wants to get away from that kind of stuff. I am really proud of her for wanting that. We expressed to her that what we have to teach her will change her life. We taught her about commandments, what they are and why we need to follow them. She asked about forgiveness and what we taught about that. We showed her a scripture about why we need to forgive and how it is a commandment. She seemed pretty understanding and accepting. We explained that sometimes we are told to obey commandments that seem pointless and take too long to take affect. We gave her the example of being drenched in cold water. We could have two choices: being poured over with warm water or to sit by a fireplace. The first will give an immediate solution but will not resolve the problem in the long run, and the second will take a little longer to make her warm but will rectify the problem. She understood it very well and seemed to be in the position where we could tell her that we would be asking her to make and keep commitments which were direct commandments from God. We asked if she would be willing to commit to the things we asked her to do. She said yes. At that point, we were already so impressed by her sincere desire to progress, so we presented two commitments. First, we asked her to read the Book of Mormon every night and to pray about it. She agreed. Then, she added that she had prayed recently. Oh really??? She said she had prayed last week about whether or not church was something she needed to become more involved in. We asked if she had received any answers for her question, to which she responded that she thought she had because her mom had invited her to church. She seemed a little unsure if that was the answer. The thought came to my head to share with her about my spiritual prompting I had had at the storehouse. I did so, and as I did, her eyes started to tear up. She realized that the answer to her prayer had come through someone else, a missionary no less. She recognized that God really is working in her life and is always ready to answer her prayers. We then extended the second commitment:

"Rosario, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and become baptized by a man holding the priesthood authority given him from God?"

I have no idea how He has done it, but Heavenly Father had prepared Rosario for the gospel. I'm still not sure how to react other than complete gratitude for Him and His mysterious, miraculous ways. Rosario's spiritual experience and drive is nothing short of a miracle.

I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for the opportunity I have to serve this mission. I love the opportunities I have to make a person smile, to help the light shine even brighter from their eyes, and to help them gain a greater testimony of Jesus Christ. The decision I made to serve a mission was by far the best choice I have ever made here on Earth. I cannot wait to see what more miracles the Lord has in store for me to see.

Sister Smyly Crawford

Friday, October 23, 2015

Palm Trees at the Temple

October 21st

Hello, hello, hello!

We went to the temple today! :) Sometimes I sit there and think, "There are palm trees all around the temple... We aren't in Kansas anymore."

To summarize the last week or so, here are two amazing lessons that happened:

We had a wonderful lesson with Maria on Wednesday. We have started just going over and reading a chapter from the picture Book of Mormon with her, so she can strengthen her testimony in the Book of Mormon and become spiritually self-sufficient. Also, there is nothing else we can teach her until she decides to get married so she can get baptized. We read the second chapter from the picture Book of Mormon this week. We related it to the subject of what a prophet is, what he does, and that we have a loving prophet today. It is interesting as we do this every week that she becomes more and more interested in the Book of Mormon. I love watching that change in her. We had her say the closing prayer. After the prayer, I felt prompted to ask her how she felt when she prayed. Oh my goodness, she blew me away again. She had testified about prayer to me about seven weeks ago, but this time it was the absolute most powerful testimony about the power of prayer I have ever heard in my life. If she has a testimony in anything, it is in the power of prayer. She told me of an experience she had. Their van always had engine troubles. It was one of the big struggles before in getting them to church. She said that she had prayed the engine wouldn't have problems, and since then, the van has had no problems. She made sure to turn to her boyfriend and tell him that it was because of prayer the engine has stayed functioning. She says since she has been praying, she has been so much happier. Before, she was frustrated, aggravated, etc, but now she can tell she is happier, and not only is she happier, but so is the rest of her family. Maria is the best. There are no words to describe how proud of her I am, and how grateful I am to have been able to work with her. She has a special place in my heart.

Annie is one of our young women. She is so sweet. On Tuesday we brought her to sit in our car and listen to half of an awesome fireside ("Break Up with the World" by Hank Smith). This fireside is basically about how we need to "lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better." If there is anything that keeps us from progressing spiritually, we need to lay it aside and replace it with something that will allow us to come to the Savior. These things can be quite the sacrifice, but it is always worth it. Brother Smith quotes President Monson who quotes a man who said, "The best thing I have ever done was to give up something I love to the God I love even more." So, Tuesday night we had her listen to the first half (ending it on a cliffhanger so she will want to listen to the second half). We decided to listen to the second half the next night (Wednesday). We brought pizza and she brought drinks and we sat in our car Wednesday night and listened to the second half of the fireside. She was very into it, and was interested to hear all Brother Smith had to say. In the fireside, he asked everyone to decide something they would "break up" with (to lay it aside). We told her we would ask her to do so as well. At the end of the talk, I watched her face. Something was working in her mind and it worked across her face. The spirit was telling her what she needed to break up with, and she was listening. We sat there for a minute in silence after the talk finished... Then she looked up at me and started to laugh in her cute way saying she didn't want to break up with what the spirit was telling her to break up with, but she knew she had to. When it comes to CODAs, you can't tell them to do anything. You can't make them do anything. But because the spirit was telling her what she needed to do, she accepted and decided to break up with it. It was so cool to watch the spirit work on her. There is absolutely no way we would have been able to do the same work that the spirit did that night.

I love you all! Keep the faith! Work hard in all you do! It pays off in the end!

Sister Smyly Crawford


October 5th 
I had a great week this week. It may have been a week of no luck
finding anyone to teach, but boy, just having the spirit with you
makes all the difference between a good week and a great week. I am
just so thankful for my Heavenly Father and His Son for their constant
love for me.

I love this north area. Admittedly, I was not too excited to come here
six months ago after feeling the love of the south area, but since
then I have really come to cherish this area. It is full of so many
honest truth-seekers. It is full of people who truly love the
missionaries, the gospel they present, and the One they represent.
Sadly, after six months, I have to leave the area. I am being
transferred back to the south area today (with Sister Richardson as my
companion). I absolutely love the south area and I am ecstatic to get
back down there and work. However, the north area will always have a
special place in my heart. But you know what the best part is? It's
all the same branch. I'll see everyone at church  I seriously have
the greatest mission. There really is no final goodbye with these

Once again, we had a phenomenal General Conference! We were able to
sustain the three new apostles, Elders Rasband, Stevenson, and
Renlund. I would like to add my testimony to those who have already
bore theirs that these three men have truly been called by our Savior,
who leads and guides this church today. I am excited to hear their
counsel to the world in the coming years. My favorite talks were
President Uchtdorf's (are we making our discipleship too
complicated?), Sister Marriot's (not just because of her accent
though, haha), Elder Lawrence (what lack I yet?), and President
Nelson's (I love that he expressed his love for the women of the
church, and not because we are sweet but because we are powerhouses).

I love you all and hope you all are reading and studying your Book of
Mormon. It's important.

Sister Smyly Crawford

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Another Baptism! Surprise!

So, um.... Tim is baptized now! We had no idea he was going to be ready. In fact, we thought it was going to be a few more weeks! But then the elders gave us a call Saturday night saying that Tim would be baptized the next day! Even Bonnie and Peggie had no idea! So Tim is now baptized! :) As soon as he stepped into the water, his entire countenance changed. Even afterwards, he was filled with so much more light. Congratulations Tim! We all love you! :)

Also, another "Say what?" moment... Nadia is now on date for baptism. We arrived at our lesson and we sat down with her. Immediately we recognized the lesson was not going to go anywhere because the spirit was being pushed away. But we sat there and tried to help her focus and feel the spirit. Here is the conversation.

Me:  "Nadia, have you been reading the Book of Mormon?"
Nadia:  "Yes, every night I read and study it with the bible and read it with the kids."
Me:  "What did you study?"
Nadia:  "I read about baptism and how we need to get baptized in water and..."
Me: "What do you think about baptism?"
Nadia:  "It's a commandment from God."
*Me and Clarke stare at her wide eyed*
Me:  "Yes...... Yes it is.... *shake myself out of shock* Are you willing to be baptized?"
Nadia:  "Yes, but next year 2016. Probably November. I want my daughter baptized too."
*Clarke and I sit there and think...November is too far away* *Idea!*
Me:  "Nadia, I fly home in March. I want to see you get baptized before I leave!"
Nadia:  "Wait. March?? You fly home?? Where is home??"
Me:  "Alabama."
Nadia:  "Alabama?!? That's so far away!!"
Me:  "Yep..."
Nadia:  *sits there and thinks* "Ok, then I will get baptized before then. Maybe Feb. My daughter's birthday is on the 14th. She turns 8."
*I look at calendar, and conveniently the 14th is on a Sunday, or usual baptism day*
Me:  "Nadia, will you get baptized on February 14th? And maybe your daughter will be baptized the same day?"
Nadia:  "Yeah that sounds good. Next year Feb 2016."

I know that conversation could have gone smoother, but holy cow I couldn't ask for anything better. Just watching the spirit work on her is worth everything. And she studies all by herself and if she has questions, she asks us for clarification. Even if our answer is different than what she thought it was, she is so trusting that she thinks it through and believes us. Ha, I just love her.

I know this is completely off topic, and not related to missionary work, but I would like to congratulate the Utes on their beautiful victory against the Ducks. I wish I could have seen it.

The church is true! The Book of Mormon is the word of God! I am now starting Alma in my Book of Mormon reading project! I had a moment this week in my reading where I got so into it that I couldn't put it down. I always have that experience with every other book I read (I just love reading... :) ), but to have it with the Book of Mormon was awesome. I love that book. I promise as you, too, read it, you will feel the same joy that I am able to feel.

I love you all!

Sister Smyly Crawford
Sister Crawford, Tim and Sister Clarke