Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Zone Conference

We both spoke at zone conference about the motives for our obedience.  We felt heavily guided by the Lord.  Afterwards, I got to teach Pilates to the Hermanas!




After zone conference, we had  to sit for a picture with all the different zones. We thought a photo of the photographers would be more fun than a photo of the zones.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Our First Noche Blancha

Our first noche Blanca, a night where all the missionaries in the zone do their baptisms together. It's so cool! The older, shorter lady in the center front was baptized by her neighbor -- a tall man about her age. The elderly man was baptized by his new bishop. Many of the guests at the baptism were investigators scheduled for baptism next week. Wish we could attend them all!

Oh, also, they had a camera in the baptismal room broadcasting the baptisms to the chapel, so everybody who didn't fit in front of the font could still see. Presidente spoke, and I said a few words.

Quisqueya


We attended a tiny branch today called Quisqueya. The baptismal font is in the back yard, and the member there was baptized 10 months ago. The branch President commutes to Punta Cana to work with the tourists and returns every other week. The missionaries literally run everything.


Interviews

We finally finished interviews with the missionaries.  Presidente interviewed 152 missionaries over the course of two weeks.  He took from 20 minutes to a full hour with each one.  They have amazing stories.  So full of faith.  I'll share a couple that I remember (because they were most recent.)  We need to take a poll, but our guess is that at least 70% of our missionaries are converts and at least as many come from homes where only one or neither parents is member.  They have amazing faith and love the gospel like it's literally the tree of life.

Two sisters from the Dominican Republic, East mission.  Both speak like Dominicans and I had to ask them to slow down considerably so I could understand them.  But when they slow down, they speak fine.  One joined the church at age 9 and for a year she went to church by herself until her parents joined at age 10.  The other joined the church at age 12 and went to church by herself for 7 years before she went on a mission.  Her parents are now taking the discussions and plan to be baptized when she returns.

The Smallest Branch in the Mission

This six-year-old brought her little brother to church today all by herself. No adults.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Roadside Sightseeing

This is how I imagined the DR but its only like this in the country and there are lots of cities.
Traffic is very different here in the mountains than in the city.

Recycling



Spence, what do you think of their recycling?  The baseball players are like 14 feet tall!

Abundant Produce




We stopped for lunch at a roadside stand and found they would not sell us one banana.
They are only about 3"-long.
The avocado almost filled an 8x11-inch cutting board.
The mangos here are so big I can barely hold them.

The missionaries tell me I always get overcharged at the comados, but when I see how little they have and remember how much I have, I figure it's just fine.

Welcome to Hato Mayor

This is your 4 1/2 star hotel in Hato Mayor. It comes with one towel and a bar of soap left over from the last guest carefully wrapped in toilet paper :)

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Medical Miracle

We have the most amazing missionaries they have experienced miracles even before they became missionaries. One of our missionaries had terrible asthma his whole life. He had many visits to the hospital and many treatments. He always carried a nebulizer. Since he had been here, his asthma has completely disappeared.  

That's just one of dozens of stories I'll try to find time to share.

Too Many Baptisms?



This is the third building I have encountered where the baptismal clothes are hanging over the bathroom door. They don't even put them away between baptisms. One elder told me they once baptized 17 people in the same font before they changed the water!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Today's Discussion

After a full day of interviews, we taught with the missionaries again today. I went out with a miracle -a sister who wanted to go home when we arrived - and now she is teaching with power!

All the neighbors joined in the cita (appointment). There were ten kids, two adults, and one 60-watt bulb in an 8x10-foot room. The love was tangible. We committed one teen to baptism. I don't know what fascinated them more: my hair which they kept touching and saying oro (gold) or the fact that this old lady (Hermana Smith) spoke like a 2-year-old.

The Tallest Missionary



Today we met the tallest missionary in the mission (probably in any mission). He's 6"10" and he loves to dance and write his own songs. He sang one for me. Great rhythm. He's from Jamaica.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

We Are Very Busy

July 5, 2017
9:00-3:00 Mission Leadership Council; 
3:00 Meet with trunky missionaries;
4:00 Meet with Sister's Security Council; 
5:00 Drive two hours to meet with stake president in San Ramon; 
9:00 Regressar (Return?); 
11:00 Meet with finance; 
12:00 (midnight) Fall sound asleep.

July 6, 2017
8:00 Drive to Villa Mella
9:00 Begin intravistas
4:30 Leave for home but get redirected to meeting with stake president at 5:30
7:00 Leave for meeting with another stake president at 8:00
9:00 Meet with zone leaders and sister leaders in Villa Mella
10:00 Search for a place for sisters who are an hour from their own casa to spend the night
11:00 Arrive home and fall exhausted into bed.

July 7, 2017
Thirteen hours of interviews. No Smith factor!

How to Balance Serving with All Our Might and Preserving Our Health

Meridian just published an excerpt from Sister Smith's book, Side by Side: Supporting a Spouse in Church Service. (The link on "an excerpt" will take you directly to the article.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Big Surprises

I guess we should get used to it.  We showed up to a meeting with a stake president tonight, thinking we were just going to go over the statistics for the stake about missionary work. Lo and behold, we were scheduled to speak at a fireside!

Of course, Presidente embarrassed me and had me speak. I still make hundreds of mistakes, but the members were charitable and the spirit was so strong, we could have stayed forever!

Church Today


































I wish could wear a Go Pro on my head because sometimes it's inappropriate to take a photo but you want to save the memory. 

The people here are sooo very loving. In Sacrament Meeting today, Presidente and I stood at the pulpit together and I bore my testimony first and then Presidente bore his testimony next. When Presidente was speaking, I had the chance to look out over the congregation and every eye was riveted on Dad. Nobody was sleeping. Nobody was looking at their hands or in their lap. 100 pairs of eyes, looking together for instruction. I wish I had a picture.

After sacrament meeting we met the branch president and he was so loving toward one of the older women in the congregation, he held here hand with fingers entwined and I thought she was his mom. I wish I had a picture.

When I went into the bathroom after our meetings, three little girls with pig tails poking up everywhere came up to me one at a time and wrapped their arms around my hips and gave me a hug. They had never met me before and that was our first greeting. How they win your heart.

The photo of the woman in front of the chalk board is the Relief Society President. (I snatched a photo of this scene). They turn the chapel into the Relief Society room after sacrament meeting. The women all stood up together and in one voice repeated their theme from the Book of Mormon:

Moroni 7:46 'Wherefore my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing for charity never faith. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail."

The people here have all different shades of skin, from bowling-ball black, to French vanilla white, and everything in between, cafe, brown, cream. It's beautiful. It reminds me of a painting of a landscape, with amber waves of grain.


I have already had to make difficult decisions regarding the missionaries’ health. I have felt the Holy Ghost confirm to me in a most powerful way that each decision was correct. We are so blessed to be instruments in the Lord's hands to do his work.

Go and Do!

Zone Conference

We both spoke at zone conference about the motives for our obedience.  We felt heavily guided by the Lord.  Afterwards, I got to teach Pila...