Monday, March 30, 2015

What a... Glorious... Week!

Really the only thing I have of importance to tell you all is this: I met David Archuleta.

The end.


Sister Smyly Crawford

No, I'm just kidding, I'll type a little longer. So, yeah, last week on Monday after I finished emailing ya'll, Sister Taggart, our Mission President's wife, had a special P-Day activity she wanted people to go to, so we headed over. We got there, met the new Mission Presidency counselors, and sat down. Sister Taggart reminded us that we were not to have any cameras or ipads in there. We stood up and sang Called to Serve and in the middle of the song, David Archuleta walks in. I just want everyone to know that I called it. He gave a wonderful musical fireside, complete with spiritual thoughts, experiences from his mission and career, and songs sung by him. His voice just gets better and better every time I hear it. Every single sister was swooning, and even some elders were swooning, although they tried to hide it. I got to interpret his testimony and his song, "Glorious". It was, ahem... Glorious.

We had exchanges on Tuesday. I went English for a day with Sister Jessen, on of our Sister Training Leaders. She was really cool. I met so many people while I was there. It is amazing to see that the work is progressing even outside our little bubble here in the Deaf Branch.

A few weeks ago the other sisters found a couple of orange folders in their apartment in the stuff left over by previous sisters. It was full of potential investigators that were previously in branch boundaries, but where the missionaries couldn't go because the boundaries were not open yet. Now that the entirety of the branch is open to the missionaries, we can go and visit them. My companionship was given forty names! So awesome! And these people live all over. Some even live way down in Laguna Niguel. Talk about a long drive. I'll have to figure out what to do in the car when we drive that far... But we are so excited to go and visit all these people!

We already tried a few of these people who live in Huntington Beach. We had a couple of weird experiences doing it. I think the most awkward experience was this:

*we knock on the door*

*a young, hearing man in his twenties opens the door*
Young Man- "Hi!"
Me-"Hi! We are looking for... Jonna?"
YM- "Who?"
Me- "Jonna? That may be spelled wrong."
YM- "Oh, you mean Joanna?"
Me- "Sure!"
YM- "Yeah, she has been dead for about seven or eight years now." *turns to a person out of sight* "Hey Dad, how long has Grandma been dead now? Eight years? Yeah, eight years."
Me- O.o "Oh, my condolences. We apologize for taking up your time. Thank you!"

Believe it or not, this was not even the most awkward conversation about looking for a person who has passed away. Try going to a retirement community and having a conversation with one old  woman turn into a conversation with three old women and an old man. All saying things like, "Yeah I think she died. Was she the one next to so-and-so? The one that died a few months ago? Oh, wait didn't she go to bingo? Or was that the other woman?" I swear I am not exaggerating.

Anyways, this has been my week. It was a lot of fun. But more importantly, it has been very educational. I am discovering more and more every day how strong I really am. And even better than that, I am discovering more and more how strong the Savior is. I love him so much; he is my best friend.

Love you all!

Sister Smyly Crawford

The week of everything and nothing

Nothing too crazy happened this week, so apologies for a short email :)

We had an awesome lesson with the Rico family. We played "Mother May I?", but I changed it around to "Heavenly Father May I?" Let's just say, it was the cutest thing ever. The boys ended up saying "Dear Heavenly Father...may I..." It was so adorable. Don't worry. I got videos.

The we and the elders had an AMAZING lesson with Cheri and Irving, a married couple who have been our investigators for FOREVER. But, guess what. They agreed to be baptized and will be preparing to become baptized on April 12th. Hopefully everything will go over well and will come through.

Oh, I guess I could mention... We got in a car accident. Don't you worry, we are completely fine. We were already stopped and the guy behind us was already stopped. But a car didn't stop and hit the guy behind us, who hit us. No one is hurt. At all. Don't you go worrying Mother :) Our car had no damage. Can't say anything for the other two cars. I watched it all happen in my rearview mirror (oh yeah, I got my license in the mail, hurray! High-five for being back on the California interstates!) and Sister Stucki was reading a talk on her ipad. She will never forget that talk now! :)

Well, that was my week! Hope you all had a great one too! :)

Sister Smyly Crawford
Sisters Stucki, Backus, Munson, and Me!

Why would a week be bad if you got to go to the temple? :)

So much has happened this week, I don't think I will be able to put it all into one email. I will try to summarize the best I can.

We had another amazing lesson with Jeaneth. She is so motivated and eager to learn the truth. I respect her so much more for wanting to know the truth and actively searching for that truth, rather than wanting to become baptized for welfare, which is a common issue here. However, on that note, I have seen many people join the church for that reason alone and then become converted to the gospel afterwards. Never doubt the Lord and His ways! :)

We met the cutest deaf little girl named Idhalia. She has autism, and is not accountable, but she is so sweet. It is such a tender mercy to talk to her mom (who is hearing). Her mother is always so happy and desirous to chat with us. She loves the idea of us coming over to play with her daughter and serving her. Although Idhalia is not accountable, we will continue to go over and visit her. Maybe through our service, the spirit can soften her mother's heart to want to learn more about the gospel.

Wednesday we also got to go down to the temple to have a temple tour with Annie, Adriana, Alisa, and Jazmin. To say it was amazing is an understatement. Annie and Adriana were incredibly focused and drank in everything the sister tour guides told them. Jazmin and Alisa asked many questions themselves. I think the miracle in this was before we left for the temple trip, Annie told me she was not sure she would go to temple baptisms on Friday. After the temple tour, she was dead set. If I could high-five the Holy Ghost, I would.

On Thursday we went all the way down to Lake Forest, which is in the middle of the Irvine mission. Quite the drive. We went to go see a new investigator, Michelle, but she was not home. So, instead of heading all the way back up to Anaheim, we went a little further south to visit Albertina and Serafin, who are wonderful members of our branch. For the longest time the branch boundaries where they live were not open to the missionaries, but now that the boundaries are open, we can visit them! Serafin is the studliest old gentleman from Cuba. He speaks fluent Spanish, but is hard of hearing and signs in Cuban sign language. Heads up, Cuban sign language is nothing similar to ASL. But he is so nice and, again, a stud. Albertina, his wife, knows ASL, MSL, CubanSL, and some GermanSL. She's amazing. While we were there, Serafin cooked us Cuban potatoes. It's like mashed potatoes rolled into a fist-sized ball and then fried. It was delicious.

Saturday was the best day ever. TEMPLE BAPTISMS WITH THE DEAFIES!!! Veronica and Juana were in their white dresses (because they think they have to wear white) and were as cute as can be. Serafin and Albertina were there. Annie was there. And many other members of the branch. The elders do the baptizing, and the sisters go and interpret the confirmations. My favorite experience in this was interpreting for Xa. Xa is like Veronica and Juana in that she does not sign, but knows a few basic signs. I had to sign what was being said, as it was an ordinance, so I am not sure how much Xa would normally understand. However, as I signed to her, her eyes glowed and seemed to understand everything I was signing to her. It just teaches me how much the spirit teaches people when means of communication otherwise fail. Also, at the baptisms, Elder Bouck had to do baptisms in English, ASL, and Spanish. It was kind of a shining moment for him :) He is doing great as the new district leader.

My favorite scripture this week: Psalms 55:16-18,22. 

Love you all! :)

Sister Smyly Crawford
Sister Crawford, Dahila, her daughter, and Sister Stucki

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Part of the Family

I am so incredibly happy. Before I started my mission, I didn't think I could be this happy, but I am. I am surrounded by the best people. I am surrounded by love. I am surrounded by joy.

The best part of my week was FHE with my favorite family. This is the family with Ashley, Adriana, and Alisa. The entire family and more gathered around in a kneeling family prayer, along with us four missionaries. We asked Julio, the dad, to pick someone for prayer. He turns to me and asks me to pray. "No, Julio, you need to ask a family member to pray!" I said. He looks at me and says, "You ARE family." I just about cried. I love these people so much.

Remember Cliff? We had passed him to the elders back in December. That man has changed entirely for the good. We were teaching his wife, Michelle, who is a member, and she turns to me and says, "He is so happy all the time. He comes home from work and is so tired, but he is so happy. He is always saying to me that I am his wife and he loves me so much. We even have gospel discussions! He is just so happy and I am so grateful for the missionaries working with him." I witnessed for myself this happiness when we went over there to look for their granddaughter. He sees us and says, "Sister Crawford!! How are you?? How is your mom and dad??" And we just chatted about everything. I have never seen him so truly happy. The turning point to this happiness is when he actually followed through with his commitment to read from the Book of Mormon. This is evidence that the gospel changes lives. The Book of Mormon changes lives.

We drove down to Lake Forest on Saturday to meet a new investigator, named Michelle. Lake Forest is in the middle of Irvine mission and it took us about 45 minutes to get there. But, man oh man, is this woman amazing. I am so excited to teach her. Sh is so happy all the time and is very willing and eager to come to church. She would make a wonderful, strong addition to this branch.

Transfers are today. Sister Stucki and I are staying together! Yay! By the end of the transfer (the 4th together) we will have been together six whole months! We are pretty excited :)

Elder Hayes (well, I guess he's not 'elder' anymore...) came down to visit this weekend! It was great to see him!

We got new iPads. These are the ones that we will be keeping. We are also getting many mission-wide iPad trainings over the next couple of months. Elder Brent H. Nielson came down to give this week's training. He told stories of the missionaries in the Philippines who were caught in the typhoon that swept through recently. One story he told was of a companionship of elders who huddled in the middle of their hose and the wind completely blew away the walls from around them. Know what they did next? They found their way to the nearest center of people and served them. The same can be said of internet use and missionary work. On the internet and technology in general, we are surrounded by typhoons and whirlwinds. We could be swept away in this storm or even allow it to destroy us. We could use it to help us learn and grow. But no matter the insanity of the winds or the speed of the floods, there is always a place we can go to serve others. We always have that choice to go spread love and joy with others, even in the most devastating of places.

I love you all! Have a great week!

Sister Smyly Crawford
Sister Crawford and Sister Stucki enjoying their new Ipads

Monday, March 2, 2015

More strange food, but hey, worth it! :)

I am terribly sorry my weekly emails are not very good. So much happens in one week, but I forget it all when I sit down to email. I will try to do better. I will repent. :)

I will just go through my area book and see what I can remember...

One day, we walk into our favorite house, the one with my CODAs, and Cecilia, the mom, before saying anything, says, "Crawford! Crawford! I am making meatball soup tomorrow. You coming??" My response, "Um, YES." Let's just say this cute little woman is the greatest cook ever. I watched her make said soup before and she has this legitimate mortar and pestle she grinds spices with. So we come over the next day and she sees me and goes, "I am SO SORRY. I didn't have time to make the soup! But don't worry, I will make you something else." So she proceeds to feed us a Mexican version of alphabet spaghetti-o's with lime in it. Also tuna fish and corn sandwiches. Oh, and Kool-aid. Lunch of champions. Don't worry, later that week, when we showed up she had her trusty mortar and pestle out and was making her meatball soup. Greatest surprise of my life. It was delicious.

We are continuing to work with Maria and her progression. She is progressing wonderfully and is learning so well. Only problem is that she is still not willing to marry Alberto. Many background issues and reasons to that, but it only means she cannot get baptized. So my comp and I, as well as the Elders who work with us, decided to really get super serious about the marriage thing because this family needs to progress and get over fears by putting them on the Lord. So Sister Stucki and I went over to teach Maria. Stucki had to distract the boys because they were crazy again, so the teaching was left to me. I was not expecting to say everything that I said to her, but the Spirit was telling me to say it all. It basically ended up with me telling her that it was a commandment and law from the Lord that she was expected to follow, not a desire from the missionaries. By the end, I could tell the spirit was really working on her to help teach her. Thank goodness for the Holy Ghost! :)

We had an awesome lesson with Jeaneth. She is so golden, it is ridiculous. We were going to teach her about the Book of Mormon, but she out of nowhere asked about baptism, expressing how she knows she needs to get baptized (as in a general baptism, but not necessarily in the church), but needs to be ready before that. So we start to teach her about baptism. She interrupts and tells us about a dream she had where she was in front of this pool of water that was lined in white, and she climbed down the stairs into the water, walked right under it, fully immersed, and came up the stairs on the other side. Now what does that sound like...? :) So of course I latch on to that and show her how that exactly relates to how baptisms work and how you need the proper authority. She was flabbergasted on how perfectly it matched up and is very willing to get baptized now. I love that girl :)

Also, I will have everyone know that Ashley, Adriana, Alisa, Adriana's friend Jazmin, Annie, and Toni all came to church yesterday. I don't think we have had that many young women attend this branch at the same time in a loooooong time. I am so proud of these girls for making right decisions :)

Love you all! Have a great week! :)

Sister Smyly Crawford