Tuesday, November 15, 2016


November 14, 2016
Howdy folks! 
This week was pretty darn great. 

Here are some stories I forgot to include but are still pretty awesome: A few weeks ago, there was one night when I was pretty frustrated because we hadn't taught anyone and in my personal prayer I poured my heart out to Heavenly Father and asked him to give me peace and help me in any way. As I said that in my prayer, our cell phone started ringing literally right next to me on the window sill. It was Elder Hooker, my district leader, who is an absolutely awesome guy. We talked for nearly half an hour and I just told him everything that I was worried and stressed about and he said everything that was exactly what I needed to hear. Don't tell me God doesn't answer prayers. 

Monday night we had an awesome lesson with J. We asked him what he hoped would happen from meeting from us and he said he wants to stop drinking and follow God. Before he let us in the doorstep we told him we just what to share a quick message with him. An hour and a half later: "¡Ustedes me dijeron un ratito!" (You guys told me it would just be a little bit!) J is super funny haha. We taught about keeping the Sabbath day holy. 

Then Thursday we met with him again and he hadn't kept his reading commitment to read the first chapter of first Nephi so we read that with him and his wife L. We recommitted them both to another baptismal date that will also fall through because they didn't come to church yesterday. But we're working on it. We are really making sure they stay accountable to our commitment to read. We are really focusing on helping our investigators keep their commitments to read The Book of Mormon because of District meeting Tuesday. 

It makes sense haha. If people aren't reading, they can't receive a witness that it's true. Or that Joseph Smith translated it by the power of God. Or that the priesthood was restored through Joseph Smith. Or that everything thing we teach and believe in is true. It truly is the keystone of our religion. If the Book of Mormon were not true, our entire religion would be false. Because The Book of Mormon is true, our entire religion is true. A knowledge of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon proves that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is guided and directed by Christ himself. 

This is why following Moroni's promise is criticality important. You can't know if a cake is delicious unless you take a bite. We invite everyone to simply take a bite. Just read and pray and ask God if it's true. It's really quite simple. Yet so many people are just too darn stubborn to try it out. Come on peeps! It's not that hard! 

Another excuse I'm getting is that a lot of people here in the South believe the church doesn't matter as long as you believe in God you are saved. You say you believe in the Bible folks, so why don't you live according to what it teaches? I'm done ranting about this because I've said enough already.😑 Wednesday I got a package from Elder Stallings. What a champ. Seriously made my week. Love that kid. For real though. God bless him. 

We have started teaching a few English investigators as well this week. Wednesday night we taught M. She started crying because she is going through a lot of rough stuff right now. She told us in tears "my whole life I've surrounded myself with bad people. I'm tired of bad people in my life. I need good people in my life, so y'all are welcome over anytime." 

Thursday night the impact Elders arrived at our apartment, and stayed with us till Sunday night. Basically the job of the impact Elders is to go and visit companionships and help them fix their problems. Which is nice because we could use some help. Friday we started by cleaning our apartment all day. HALLELUJAH. Not gonna lie, our apartment was getting pretty gross. They went to Walmart and bought a whole bunch of cleaning supplies and we went crazy on our apartment. We cleaned that place like we were expecting the Prophet or something. It's pretty nice to finally have someplace clean to call home. After that we had a companionship inventory, we all stated what we were struggling with. Elder Harper, one of the impact Elders (who is from Riverton, first name is Joey if anyone knows him) told how when he came out, he was planning on going home after 2 weeks in the field just to say he served a mission. But then he was like, maybe I should figure out if this is true. When he did get an answer that the Church is true, he was like: "crap, now I have to stay on my mission..." now he's one of the most powerful Elders in the whole mission 😂

Saturday Elder Sotomarino, Elder Ortiz, and I went finding. We found three new investigators (new investigator means you have taught a lesson and set a return appointment), including a couple named H & D. They are golden. Elder Ortiz sees this super buff guy working on his Dodge truck that has "Chevy Killer" spray painted on the back. We get talking to him and he tells us he has been looking for a church! Heck yeah that's what I like to hear! His girlfriend comes outside and we start teaching them both. Awesome lesson, they are so prepared! They said they want to know if this church is Christ’s church or not.

And they came for the first two hours of church yesterday😱🙏. OUR FIRST INVESTIGATORS TO CHURCH. IT FINALLY HAPPENED!!!!! Also crazy story while we were finding Saturday: WE SAW A CAT JUMP HALFWAY UP A TREE AND GRAB A SQUIRREL IN ITS MOUTH MID JUMP AND LAND ON ITS FEET. It was so intense you have no idea. Nature is so savage. The cat ran away and left the squirrel as we walked towards it. The pour squirrel was still alive but half its body was paralyzed so it was just sliding around helplessly. it was really sad 😭. 

So that was tragic. But the rest of my week was pretty good so I'll take it. Church is true. The Book is blue. Read it you goons. Talk to y'all soon. 

Con amor, Elder Smalley
Enviado desde mi iPad

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Email Doce - More rusty than Dad's jump shot

November 7, 2016
Hey folks!

To start off, I will say that this was statistically our least productive week yet, but that's okay. We only taught 5 lessons total. But also this week was bike week, and WE ACTUALLY HAD BIKES ... kind of.

We found an old piece of junk bike behind our apartment a few weeks ago that some missionary had left behind, and decided to bring it Brother M's house. Brother M is an interesting fella. Before he shaved about a week ago he resembled a Viking. It was weird to see him after he shaved, he looks totally different. Imagine a big guy who talks like Forrest Gump, and you have a surprisingly accurate description of Brother M.

But what else is interesting: he is a bike guru. This guy knows bikes. You would never suspect it from meeting him, but he is an expert in all things bikes. You never know what hidden talents some folks have, that I have learned here.

The nice thing is his house is a minute walk from our apartment. So we took the bike over, and Brother M made this thing rideable, which is impressive. Steel frame, steel wheels, probably weighs over 50 pounds, brakes are more rusty than Dad's jump shot, but it rides!

So we had bikes! The trouble is, said bike of Elder Sotomarino had tires and tubes from the 1800s, so it got a flat tire. So we got said ancient tube patched for the second time. Brother M pointed out if said tube failed again, we would need a new one. Well, guess what happened Friday night: said tube failed again. Therefore, we had no means of transportation, other than our feet. Hence bike week became walk/beg for rides from members week.

Rewind back to Tuesday: we had District meeting again. Elder Hooker is an awesome District Leader. He is always pointing us back to Preach My Gospel and how we can use it effectively. My goal is to become a Preach My Gospel missionary. My advice to anyone preparing to serve a mission: READ PMG EVERYDAY. My advice to anyone not preparing to serve a mission: READ PMG EVERYDAY. This is counsel I didn't take seriously, so children please hearken to my words, because I seriously regret not thoroughly studying PMG before the mish.

Tuesday night we had a member lesson with our investigator H, who is from Honduras. He has a lot of doubts. He is very skeptical of our message because the Bible doesn't talk about Joseph Smith or Book of Mormon prophets. Or so he thinks, because there are several prophecies in the Bible of Joseph Smith, the restoration, and the Book of Mormon! His issue was that it doesn't mention any of that explicitly or by name. But as y’all know, we seek not to “prove” these things merely by logic, or “by the understanding of man”, but through confirmation from the Spirit of God!

Yes, there is a ton of evidence that the Book of Mormon is a true and accurate record, but I don't really care about that. Anyone can find a way to argue against such things. The real question is: Is it the word of God? To know this, GO TO THE SOURCE. GOD IS THE SOURCE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE. If you seek to prove or disprove these things merely by logic, you will not come to a knowledge of the truth of God and His works.

You come to a knowledge of these truths by doing as The Book of Mormon, and Christ himself direct: ask the source of all knowledge. Read the Book of Mormon and pray to God to know if it is true. It is a simple formula, yet many people don't get it. I know this works because I've done it. This knowledge can't be taken from me. God told me it is, and God doesn't lie. Mic drop

Also I would like to take a moment to appreciate Hermana B, who is a member in the branch. I love this woman. She was just called as a Ward missionary and has a strong testimony, and she cooks AMAZING MEXICAN FOOD. She told me I eat like a Mexican. Maybe its because I can eat jalapeños without crying now haha. They don't seem that spicy any more, so I guess I'm finally building an immunity to spicy food, and I actually enjoy it now! The mission works miracles folks.

Anyways Hermana B is awesome. We call her youngest son diablito (little devil). He's probably 4. He screams and cries and hits his mom every time he doesn't get his way, and his parents just kind of take it. Mom and Dad, thank you for not taking any of my crap when I was little.

Carne Asada Activity with the Branch
Friday President came to Russellville to do interviews. I got a chance to talk to Sister Wakolo for a bit while I was waiting for my turn with President. She's super funny and her faith is incredible. I love President and Sister Wakolo. Words can't do them justice. Personal favorite highlight from interview with Prez: "are there any sister missionaries likely to unlock the heart of Elder Smalley?" Me: Likely? Lol nah Sir, gave the only key to my momma. President: "Good Elder", as he laughs.

Well folks I love it here. I love being a missionary. I'm so grateful to be here, and for the knowledge I have. I'm happy here.

Our goal as a mission is to baptize monthly. When we first got here, it looked like we were going to get a baptism my first week. That fell through. Our baptisms for this past weekend fell through. We may not get a baptism in November either. Maybe not December. Whatever happens, as long as I'm committed to the work, it's okay. Everything will be alright.

In a couple days I'll hit my one month mark in the field. It's been a good month. It's not about the numbers, it's about going out and acting through the Spirit constantly. That's who I want to be. That's what the Lord wants of me.

I love y'all, have a great week.

Ps nobody can pronounce my name in the Spanish Branch so they all call me Elder Smiley. It fits!

Enviado desde mi iPad

Email Once - Room for Improvement

October 31, 2016
Howdy folks,

This week was challenging and fun. To be honest it doesn't feel like I've made much progress from last week. We weren't able to teach very much this week. In fact I remember at least three days this week where we didn't teach a single lesson. It's hard to feel like you've done your part at the end of the day when you haven't taught others what you actually believe in and know to be true during the course of the whole day.

One thing from McKay's letter that really hit me was that the Lord didn't call me here to plant seeds. He has already planted seeds in the heart of His elect. He called me here to harvest. It hasn't felt like I've been doing too much harvesting,  so I need to change something I'm doing wrong. The people who are prepared are here in Russellville, I'm just not finding them.

The Spanish zone leaders came to Russellville on Friday, and Friday night we went on finding splits just knocking doors. Having them visit was really good. We were able to get twice the amount of work done and find a bunch of potential investigators. Then they stayed the night with us. It was fun to just hang out with those Elders, they're pretty cool. Saturday morning, I got to meet one on one with one of our zone
leaders Elder Spencer. It was good, he just asked me everything I was worrying about and I went ahead and spoke everything on my mind and gave him an earful. It was therapeutic to have someone just sit and listen for a bit as selfish as that sounds. He was super cool about it, gave me some awesome advice, then the others got back from teaching a lesson and he and his companion Elder Jorgenson gave us some more advice. They pointed out to us a bunch of things we could improve on, and reminded us of things we were forgetting to do.

For whatever reason it feels like no matter how hard I try or how excited I am, I'm not giving my
best, so I always feel guilty. I guess that's because we suck at planning and it just feels like we're wasting time. Anyways so that's my shpeel about the challenging part, here's the good part:

Saturday was more productive than we have been in a while, we did a bunch of contacting, and taught three lessons: one with a less active, one with a member present, and the third lesson was with a man from El Salvador. At first it seemed like he wanted to Bible bash because he was super intense. But we used the Bible to build up what we were teaching about the restoration. In the middle of the lesson he stops and says "your church’s and my churches beliefs are very similar." He told us his church also believes in modern revelation and has their own prophets. He then brought up the scripture in Ephesians that talks about false prophets and I'm sure he was about to call our prophet a false prophet but just then Elder Anaya cut him off and said "I love that scripture! Especially the part that says by their fruits ye shall know them! This book right here is a fruit of the prophet Joseph Smith!" We then bore our testimony that if he read it he would know it was a good fruit. Good stuff, and a clutch move by Elder Anaya.

Anyways I had more stories but I'm out of time!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Email Diez - Patience is a Virtue

October 24, 2016

Well dearest family and friends, this week was...well it was something.

So I developed a bit of a cold, so that was fun trying to continue doing missionary work without appearing sick.  I did use it as an excuse to take a few naps because your immune system can't work if you aren't getting enough sleep. I got Elder Sotomarino sick as well, so we were quite the happy campers.

Let me give y'all the rundown on missionary work here in Arkansas with Hispanics:

So Hispanics are usually more open and inviting then most white people, which is nice, but I must admit I'm tired of hearing the saying, "pero soy Católico..." (but I'm Catholic) as an excuse. Well that's all nice and dandy sir or ma'am, but guess what the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is for Catholics too. Congratulations. Good for you. But do you wanna be Catholic or do you want to receive all the blessings of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Dad, you were completely right about these people, what you said would happen, happened in my first week. We taught a couple named José and María (we joked and asked them if they had a son named Jesus), we taught them the restoration and they absolutely 100% agreed with every word that came out of our mouths.  They agreed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that baptism could only be done through proper Priesthood authority which had been restored through Joseph Smith, so we were thinking, well this is great. When we invited them to be baptized: "Well we're Catholic and we don't want to change." No but guys...you just said 30 seconds ago... "We've already been baptized..." yes as Catholics but so has anyone who's ever taken a shower or gotten caught in the sprinklers..."Have a nice day, God Bless." .... what just happened... I'm convinced I've heard and seen it all.

Also, another thing about Hispanics: they are always working. Seven days a week. So, it is difficult to set appointments because so many of our investigators are never home. Also, many of them work graveyard shifts.  So, that makes it...yeah, basically impossible. And when we do catch them at home, they are completely exhausted from work and the last thing they want is to hear a knock at their door. (Side note, people here in the south go to bed at around 8:30 so knocking doors after dinner hasn't been very successful.) Here's something you should know about our branch here in Russellville. The Spanish branch has nearly 60 members, 8 of those members are regularly active. No that was not a typo. Thankfully, we have 4 core families  who are very strong in the church and keep the branch still existent: the Roque family (recent converts, the Espinoza family (who are planning on moving to Utah) the  Barrerá family (our branch mission leaders) and then Branch  President Hernandez who counts as a family because he's a champ. They are awesome and I love them to death, all the wives make amazing Mexican food. But because the wives are always taking care of children and the home, and the husbands are always working, we have not been able to teach one lesson with a member. Not one. We are starting to get chewed out by our district and zone leaders for that. Rightfully so. Members make such a big difference.

Yesterday in Sacrament meeting I started to get hopeful because all of the talks were relating to missionary work, and one brother got up and said that the branch couldn't expect the missionaries to do it on their own and that everyone needed to be a missionary. So after the meeting we asked him to teach with us that night, to which he agreed.  That night he never answered our texts or phone calls. So we went to our appointment alone. Only to have our investigator tell us he didn't have time to meet with us. It really feels like the world is against this little Russellville Branch growing.

 Also we were supposed to baptize an investigator Saturday. On Wednesday, our investigator

Miguél passed his baptismal interview, but then Friday told us he wasn't ready. Both Elder Anaya and Elder Sotomarino said they'd never seen anything like it before. We met with Miguél Saturday and sat down with him at the ward building.  We had the Roque, Espinoza and Barrera family come over and then bear their testimonies to him, and then we all played basketball together, so I don't know if that counts as a member lesson or not. But everything went really well and Miguél said he still wanted to be baptized and we had fun playing ball and we thought everything was okay. Then Sunday when we called him to come to church he hung up on us and never showed up. We tried to go see him yesterday afternoon but his mom told us he had gone to the gym. So yeah that was a pretty rough turn of events. McKay, you were right this is the hardest thing I've ever done. As Elder Holland said:  " If you're doing it right it will be the hardest thing you ever do." Half the time I don't even feel like I'm doing it right. I definitely feel the adversary coming after me. He may get me down, make me feel like I'm not good enough or can't make a difference from time to time. But I am absolutely and stubbornly resolute on this: Satan can't touch my testimony. I have not seen God, but I know He is there because I have seen His influence in my life. I have paid the price to know that this Gospel is true. Now I'm in the process of paying the price so that others can have that same knowledge.

Salvation isn't easy folks, it wasn't easy for our Savior when He suffered and died for our sins, and because of that I'm so grateful He's helping me every step of the way. I want to change guys. I know to become the servant He needs I have to. I love all y'all, thank you for your prayers and support, I'll keep working hard day in day out because I feel the support.


Elder Smalley


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Email Nueve - Howdy from Russellville!

October 17,2016

Well folks I've made it. I'm finally here. It's really really nice to not have to answer where I'm going on my mission anymore.

The last week in the MTC was sweet. I got to see my pals Elder Brayden Buttars and Elder Jaeron Masina come in two Wednesdays ago, which was awesome. Elder Buttars and his district just happened to be a couple doors down, but in a different branch, I still got to see him a bunch of times, which was a tender mercy, because I love that kid...I mean...Elder.

Last MTC  pic with my homies from the Branch
So Elder Ibarra and I really started to understand each other that last week, we worked out our silly little problems. We really gained a deep respect for each other, and I was able to learn to let go of my pride, which definitely needed to happen. I said goodbye to him 1 week ago at 3:30 in the morning, then I spent the rest of that day either packing by myself or with Elder Villarreal and Elder Ramon. It was weird. The MTC went by so dang fast. Really glad I had six weeks instead of 3.

Then Tuesday morning I finished packing and then said goodbye to rest of the district (the three still there left that morning too). Driving down I-15 at 4 in the morning was strange, especially since I could see Herriman from the bus. We arrived at the airport, checked in, found our gate. The pin for the pay phone Poppa Smalls gave me didn't work, so I had to ask a lady to borrow her phone. Hearing my parents voices really made me tear up, talking to them was such a tender mercy, I can't wait till Christmas.

Then we boarded, and took off, and said goodbye to Utah for 22 months. It was really funny because I sat next to an English speaking Elder going to Little Rock named Elder Smalling(yeah that made things really confusing I'll explain later), and it was his first time flying. He saw his house from the airplane after we took off, and his mind was absolutely BLOWN. You should have seen the look on this kids face. Hilarious.

Then we landed in Atlanta, had a quick missionary moment talking to a lady who had been to Palmyra New York, then boarded for Little Rock. I was able to read Be the Fourth Missionary and the 10 page letter that McKay wrote me, and both changed my life. I was really pumped as we landed, I just wanted to land and get the heck out there, finally stop talking about missionary work and start doing it!

beatiful view of the mississippi river flying in
Flying over Arkansas was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Farm field after farm field, just good ole southern green country wide open spaces by the grace of God, and then out of nowhere: LITTLE ROCK. I knew I was gonna like this place. We landed, and met President and Sister Wakolo at the baggage claim. The we got our bags, went outside, where we drove to a chapel in Little Rock and there I learned that I would be going to RUSSELVILLE ARKANSAS GETTING TRAINED BY ELDERS SOTOMARINO AND ANAYA!

Elder Sotomarino is from Peru, and as you can guess; a native speaker, which I was so grateful for. Elder Anaya is half Mexican and straight out of Los Angeles. I love these guys to death. I'm so lucky to get such awesome trainers. They have the same sense of humor as me, and everything in our companionship just flows really nicely, and they are both hilarious, so we have had lots of good times already.

So we stayed in Little Rock for a few days to have meetings about getting acquainted with the mission and everything we need to know. Every time President Wakolo said either my name or Elder Smalling's name it was super confusing because of his thick Fijian accent. But President is awesome, such a powerful guy. I met with him one on one, shook his hand, and said: "President, you're not going to have to worry about me." He was pretty happy about that.

Thursday we drove to Russellville. I was terrified entering the field, but now I don't even miss the MTC, just the people. I love it here. Lemme say that again, I LOVE IT HERE! I love the food, the culture, the people, everything.

Everyone here has a VERY VERY VERY THICK SOUTHERN ACCENT AND IT IS SO AWESOME. Basically every stereotype about the South is true here. People here are so friendly, people who aren't members (so pretty much everyone) will honk and wave at the missionaries, I feel like a celebrity! Everyone here is Christian, there is some church every couple blocks, and people are so open about Religion so talking about and sharing the gospel isn't hard at all.

Finding Hispanics has been hard because it has been bike week aka walk week because Elder Sotomarino doesn't have a bike. So we haven't been able much because we are always walking, but it's okay, it gives more opportunities to get honked at and waved to!  When we have been able to teach it's been incredible.

STORY TIME: One time we were walking through some apartments trying to find Hispanics when this very very very drunk white guy starts yelling at us: "BOY OH BOY HAVE YOU COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE, COME OVER HERE YOU SINNERS!"

So come to find out this fellers name is Bobby. Bobby says (in very explicit terms) he used to love Mormons, shoot the good ole boy has even read the Book of Mormons cover to cover, but because of something Mitt Romney did (I have know idea what) he doesn't like Mormons as much. But after talking to this feller for a little bit he warmed up to us. We had a more pleasant than expected conversation, then suddenly his crazy also very drunk wife came out and flashed us (not making this up I swear, but lucky for me I was able to look away before getting scarred for life) and told us she didn't believe in God, and then went back inside. What lovely people.

Turns out his neighbor is Latino and the wife just recently had a miscarriage, Bobby told us, "THEY NEED Y'ALLS GO TALK TO EM." You got it Bobby.

We talked to his neighbor, and set up an appointment. Can't wait to share Moroni chapter 8 with that poor mother.

This Church is dang true folks, in less than a week, I've seen how God directs His work. Truly a privilege to serve Him.

Con amor,
Elder Smalley

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Email Ocho - Hola Y'all from Arkansas!

October 11, 2016
Elder Smalley (3rd from the left) with all new missionaries
I made it!  I'm emailing from one of my companions iPads, I get mine tomorrow! My first area will be Russellville Arkansas! Both of my trainers are Latino, super grateful for that, I already know I'm gonna love them both, my Spanish is really coming along! Getting to talk to you this morning was such a tender mercy!
I love you, I'm gonna work hard for you😘❤️

Elder Smalley

Elder Smalley with President & Sister Wakolo
Elder Smalley with his trainers Elder Anaya and Elder Soto

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Email Siete - Arkansas, here I come!

October 4, 2016

Well folks this will be my last email from Prison!  Excuse me, I meant MTC, sorry for the typo... Like I've said, I love it here and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I am convinced I'm losing my mind from sitting in class for 12 hours a day.  I GOT MY FLIGHT PLANS FRIDAY! LET’SSSS GOOOOOOOOO! I will fly out to Atlanta (no surprise there) then Little Rock, Tuesday morning. My flight is at 7:20, but I will have to report to the travel office at 3:30 am, so that will be a joy! 

Honestly I'm super nervous going into the field. Here in Mormonville, Provo, Utah, everyone shares the same beliefs as me, the crime rate is preferable, everything is handy dandy, and then….BOOM!  Welcome to the real world Elder Smalley!  In a week, I will begin the hardest experience of my life, so hopefully I can just hold out till I get my footing a little bit. Pray for me folks😂🙏. 

Shoutout to Dad for sending me sports updates!  It stinks that BYU has lost three close ones, I don't know what happened this weekend.  Also Alabama is number one...of course...😒. I'm still convinced BYU lost to Utah because some elders were being disobedient and watching the game on ESPN.  Chumps.  Also folks, can I get on my soapbox for a minute, WHY DOES BEING OBEDIENT HAVE TO BE SO HARD FOR SOME PEOPLE?  I haven't been perfectly obedient here, but I sure am trying (the no dancing gets me every time). There's an elder in our district and everyday I have to yell at him for not getting up at 6:30.  Elder Ibarra has a video of me LITERALLY DRAGGING HIM OUT OF BED! (I can send that later because it's hilarious). His definition of getting up is different than mine, and the Lord's. The white handbook says arise at 6:30!  Arise implies getting out of bed dude! 

Time to talk about the real highlight of the week: General Conference of course. WOW. Basically during the entire first session Saturday morning I was crying. It was pretty funny, I was sitting next to these sister missionaries I had just met and talked to before the session started and then I was bawling the whole time.  I didn't have any tissues and my nose runs really bad when I cry, so it was not pretty!  Kind of embarrassing, but good thing I'm a missionary now and don't care what girls think anymore😋. 

What really got me was Elder Hales's talk. "We come to know Him by loving and serving each other...His perfect love inspires us to help one another."  That was a direct answer to a prayer and a question I had written down.  Lately I have been praying for charity because it's really bothered me how self-centered I can be sometimes.  When Elder Hales used the phrase "perfect love", I immediately thought of my mom.  Like Elder Holland has said, the love of a mother is the most Christ-like love in this world.  That is especially true for my momma. We have been taught here that when we focus on the needs of others instead of ourselves, that is when we will find the most success.  Well lemme tell ya, if that's the case, my momma is as good a missionary as any prophet in the scriptures because for my entire life, and the lives my siblings, Momma Smalls has sacrificed herself for us.  She has given of her time and her effort for our welfare and benefit.  And she has done so while dealing with incredible pain almost constantly. I've been so blessed to receive the best of the best for a mom.  I know she has quite the mansion prepared for her in Heaven for all the wonderful things she has done and will continue to do. Dad you're alright too.

So in conclusion, I have been blessed with two examples of perfect love. The Savior and my momma. So if I want to have more charity, I can follow both of their examples, because they are one in the same. 

There were so many awesome parts about general conference. Too much to talk about in one email, or any number of emails. I hope y'all paid attention to Elder Bednar's talk, because that was right on the money, very similar to Character of Christ. I hope this conference was everything for you that it was for me, so many life changing messages in two days.  We are so blessed to receive revelation from the brethren twice a year. 

Also I finished the Book of Mormon Sunday for the 5th time, and I found out it's true...AGAIN!
Pretty neat stuff. Also we met Elder Reis from the District one, he's a teacher here now!


SUNDAY NIGHT VOCAL POINT CAME AND DID A DEVOTIONAL!!!!! THAT WAS SO SWEET AND BASICALLY A DREAM COME TRUE!  They sang a song called "I'll never be the same" and I started to tear up because I know that I will never be the same because of my mission, my priorities, my desires, my goals have done a 180, but don't worry folks, I'm changing in the best kind of way. I still get super frustrated at myself with how much of a bumski I can be some times, but I believe I can say I'm headed in the right direction!

To any who has sent me a letter and has not heard back from me, I AM TRULY SORRY AND I WILL TRY TO SEND ONE TODAY IF I CAN. For those of you who actually read these, thank you. I'm sure there are more stories I could tell but I can't remember any of them so hopefully this'll do! Also I've given up on making my emails grammatically perfect. It's just too much effort.

So next time I email it will be almost two weeks from now and after what will probably be the hardest week of my life up until now!  How exciting!  Can't wait!  Hard is how you grow, and I definitely need a lot of growth!  I'm forever grateful for my time here, and I know that in less than five weeks Iv'e changed forever, and I have a lot more that needs to change! 
I love y'all, chose the right, and REPENT!  Talk to y'all in two weeks.

Elder Smalley

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Email Seis - The Week of Gratitude

This entire week has been centered around our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for me. Every day I strove to strengthen my relationship with Him. With as much as I need the Atonement, I'm going to need to come a lot closer to Christ.  A few Sundays ago one of the members in our Branch presidency said that a lot of the time we associate repentance with immoral and unclean things, so that is a sort of dirty word in our minds. However, repentance should be as what it is; and opportunity to improve. I don't know about y'all, but I could definitely use improvement. And actually I was kidding. I do know about y'all, y'all need it too. We all do. One of my duties is to call others to repentance. Therefore I say unto ye: REPENT. You'll thank me later.

Going back to Jesus Christ, if y'all haven't heard “I Stand All Amazed” by Vocal Point, it is a must listen to. Made me cry. A lot. As y'all know I don't typically cry at all. This week was different. I cried a lot. Every day. I feel like Dad right now, this is weird. 

My homies from Summer Term
The two times where I totally lost it 1) We watched an old church video about the life of the Savior in Spanish, I swear the Spirit is stronger is Spanish. As they showed the part of Him ascending up to Calgary with the cross, I thought that with every agonizing step, He must of thought of us, and that was His motivation to keep moving forward. 2) On Sunday we watched 17 miracles, at first I was excited because I had already seen like 10 times or so. This time I bawled my eyes out. I was sitting in the back of the cafeteria BY MYSELF (I promise I wasn't being disobedient, I had gone on splits with my buddy Elder Austin Simkins to watch a talk by President Uchtdorf that was being played in a different building, while Elder Ibarra went to choir practice and Elders Lundquist and Villareal went to watch 17 miracles. By the time the Uchtdorf talk was over, Elder Simkins took me back to the cafeteria to meet up with those two.  The only problem was that there were over 1000 missionaries in the cafeteria, not great chances of finding two people. So I sat in the very back by myself) a total mess. I used the table napkins as tissues because it was coming down, and people were wondering why is this weird Elder by himself crying like a baby. The part where they show the men carrying others across the river got to me the most. That made me think of the Savior, how He carries us, and sacrificed His life in doing so. 

I'm reading in 3rd Nephi right now and let me tell ya, the Savior teaches like a champ, my purpose here is to learn to teach like Him.

Guess who's here?  Elder Jaxon Porter from NJ
At this point a bunch of people are complaining about the food here. I don't know why. The food here is awesome. And especially after watching 17 miracles, you will never hear me complain about food. Ever. I made the decision before I came here that I wasn't going to complain about anything and for the most part I've stuck to that resolution. I think we all could use a little more gratitude attitude. 

So if you are ever tempted to complain about ANYTHING, 1) think of the Savior 2) think of the Pioneers and 3) repent and offer a prayer of thanks. You have it so good you punks. The Savior and the Pioneers suffered more than you will likely ever have to, so suck it up. For the Pioneers, their suffering allowed them to come to know the Savior and His suffering. What are you willing to endure to come to know the Savior? Hopefully I can completely submit to His will so that He can trust me enough with trials that will help me come unto Him.
Just ran in to Elder Rylan Barron from my good ole days at Providence Hall Junior High. Man this is a small MTC world. He's going to Vietnam, the mission opened 3 months ago, and one district covers the whole country, pretty sweet stuff.

Folks this Gospel is true. I know for myself. I have seen the Hand of God far too many times to deny it. I will give my witness that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that the Book of Mormon is a testament of Him, and that through Him we can find true joy and be with our loved ones for all eternity, as long as I have the breath to do so. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I have to bring others unto this same knowledge. I want my service to be acceptable before the Lord. 

Saying GoodBye to Elder Saez
On Friday Elder Saez left for Argentina, he finally got his medical clearance. Friday morning he and I went on splits to teach Viri. The Spirit was so powerful. We taught about the commandments and she committed to be baptized. I could get used to that feeling for two years.

This work and this Gospel are true folks! If you don't know that yet, do what I did: ASK! (Heavenly Father). 

I love y'all, have a great week, stay in school, be good, and REPENT!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Email Cinco - The Missionary Trying Center

September 20, 2016

Hola Y'all!

This week has gone by much faster, haha!  Ever since high school, my concept of time has pretty much been thrown out the window, and I still haven't fully come to terms with the fact that I'm graduated now, so I just kinda roll with things these days.

Tuesday night, Elder Cook came and spoke to us, 3 APOSTLES IN ONE WEEK!  Talking to others here, I've found out that pretty much never happens, so I feel extremely lucky and blessed.

So this was my first remotely hard week. Notice I didn't say bad, just harder. In this past week, I've learned about a bunch of weaknesses that I have, which has been hard. I have never considered myself a super prideful person, but I've learned when I feel I being chastened and corrected, I won't get super defensive, but instead I'll keep those negative feelings inside and hold a grudge. Eventually these grudges turn into prejudices against others that only hinder my ability to be a good servant. So I need to let go of my pride. For a long time I've believed that my way of doing and saying things is the best way, and that needs to stop. The best way is always the Lord's way, which is through following the Spirit. It’s also very hard because I don't like having weaknesses. But Saturday night before bed, I got on my knees and thanked Heavenly Father for blessing me with so many weaknesses. I am learning that weaknesses are not a bad thing, simply opportunities to grow and rely more on Jesus Christ.

As Elder Holland said, missionaries need the Atonement every bit as much as investigators do. Well good, because without the Atonement, there would be no way I could be here right now. For the first time I've learned to truly ask how to change, not simply ask for help overcoming mistakes or challenges.  Well folks, if for some reason you don't see the Atonement as the most important resource in your life, you're dumb (just like I was before I came here).

I also am learning that I am super hard on myself. I want to change now. I need to have more patience in this adjustment period of time. I am not going to be perfect, but I need to be perfect in trying, hence Missionary Trying Center.

It's funny because before I left all these people told me I would be such a great missionary. I am not, nor will I ever be, a great missionary. I can't. Neither can anyone. Without Christ we are nothing. Through Christ I can be enough.

I had an awesome chat about all of this Sunday with President Price. Man I love that guy!  Dad, you choose your friends wisely.  President Price is one of the coolest old guys I've ever met.  Having a Branch President that knows my Dad has been a tender mercy for me.  He's kinda filled in that father role a little bit. Don't worry pops, I'm not forgetting about you, and thanks for the letters.

One other thing I have learned is that I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. When I wake up, I get SO dang grumpy. Elder Ibarra is a very up and about kinda guy, and I may or may not be low-key verbally abusive when he starts getting ansty to get going. I'm convinced Satan has more power over me in the mornings.

So this Sunday during my temple walk, I saw Christian again, as well as my homie Carp! We got to hang out for a little bit and since Carp is friends with Elder Lundquist it was a good time.

So there's this kid in my district named Elder Villarreal, as you can tell from the name he's half Mexican, but he's not a light-skin like Elder Ibarra, haha. He doesn't speak Spanish very well, but he's one of the goofiest guys I've ever met. To give you a feel of what Elder Villarreal is like; he ate a ghost pepper as a dare, then when the heat got to him, he ran to the toilet and DRANK OUT OF THE TOILET to cool his mouth down. The man is a madman. He also has these super goofy glasses that make him look like he's blind, so sometimes he'll walk around with his glasses on feeling walls and stuff, and I cry from laughing every time. Elder Lundquist, he, and I go crazy together sometimes haha. Also we have had a new Elder in our district for about a week named Elder Saez.  He broke his foot playing bball so he had to stay for another two weeks.  So he'll stick around for another week.  He's awesome though. He's half- Argentine and going to Argentina.

Also Mom, I know you'll be super sad about this, but I won't be able to sing in the General Conference missionary choir.  On the application it asked two things: can you sing well and can you read music? Because you raised me to be honest, I must confess I can do neither of those things, so I didn't even bother filling out an application.  It stinks, but I want to be honest more than I want to sing in General Conference.  Elder Ibarra got in though!  He'll be missing out on a bunch of class and exercise time for practice. I'm excited for him! He's never been to Conference before and his first time he gets to sing!

Our lessons with Viri are going great!  She even went to church on Sunday!  She's been keeping all her commitments and she's progressing well.  Earlier this week I was frustrated because she straight up told us the reason she is meeting with the missionaries is to help her out with her Book of Mormon class at BYU... Not gonna lie, I was not to pleased after that lesson, but things have turned around and I think she wants to know more for the right reasons now.

My challenge for y'all this week is to prove your love for the Lord, what are you willing to give up in your life to come closer to the Lord? Ask yourself that.

Love y'all so much, hang in there folks!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mi Primer Bautismo!

September 13, 2016

So after another week here I've pretty much decided that the MTC is the coolest place on this earth. I absolutely love it here, I know I've already said that, but I just want to be clear: I love it here! Real quick I want to do some weekly shout-outs: Spencer Payne, Eyleen Kendall, Jenn, McKay, Mom, Dad, and Megan Thomson are all champs for writing me, especially Megan because she sent a beautiful poem about remembering the Savior during the trials on our mission. We can never complain with what we are given, because our Savior went through so much more. Also I want to say I don't have anyone on the email list saved as contacts, so if you want to hear from me; email me please. 

On Sunday during our temple walk, I saw good ole Christian Hall from BYU, so that was cool! He told me ma boi Jaron Quirante got his mission call to Oakland! Jaron, email me man! Also I wanna know where Madysen Hallman is going as well. 

So Tuesday night after emailing, (Pdays really are so blessed btw) we had a devotional from Elder D Todd Christofferson!!!! The man is like the Morgan Freeman of the apostles! His voice is so soothing and I wish I could just listen to it on tape all day long. Plus he's also from Jersey so he's also a capo for that too! He said a lot of time we focus on trusting in the Lord, but does the Lord trust us? That really impacted me: when my Savior is counting on me, can I be trusted to do the things he asks of me? Can He give me certain trials and and opportunities because He knows I can handle it? I hope so. 

Wednesday through Friday I was sick. Don't worry Momma Smalls, it wasn't nothing too bad, I was just super congested and my nose was like Niagra Falls. I didn't even have a cough! I got to skip out on exercise time and sleep because I was sick which was HEAVENLY. 

Friday we had our last lesson with Sophia and we committed her to be baptized! There's just one problem: She already is. She will actually be our teacher from here on out. I didn't take it too rough, we had found out a few days before (Elder Ibarra may or may not have logged on to our other teacher, Hermano Allred's, computer and looked through his notes to figure that out....😂.) 

Anyways on Saturday when she came in to our class on Saturday to teach us, everyone in our district started yelling: "IMPOSTOR!!!" She busted out laughing -  it was hilarious. I really loved teaching Sophia, the Spirit was always so strong and it showed me that through the Holy Ghost, I CAN teach in Spanish.  

One thing that was challenging about this week is that for the first time I haven't understood 100% of the Spanish. I don't think there's any difference in the level of speaking, I think it's because I haven't been as diligent lately in my personal studies. When I first got here I could understood and speak better than the departing missionaries who had been here for six weeks, and I really let that go to my head. I started goofing off and fooling around because speaking and teaching seemed so easy to me. Everything about the MTC has felt ridiculously easy so far, even constantly being sleep deprived isn't too bad. After being cooped up in a class all day, when there's no teacher around, it's way too easy to get distracted and forget your purpose. I need to be better and I'm so grateful for the atonement and my Savior who help me to do that.

Sunday: Everyone loves sundays here. You get up and have 2 and a half hours of personal study time, then you have a morning devotional, then sacrament meeting, then lunch, then second and third hour with your branch and district respectively, then more study time, then dinner, then more study time, then an evening devotional. Guess who spoke at that: Elder M Russell Ballard! TWO APOSTLES IN 5 DAYS😱 QUE CHIDO!!!!! It was awesome, he talked about being in Baton Rouge (Holla at ma boi, Elder Michael Jensen!) and helping the humanitarian (however the heck you spell that word lol) efforts down there and how we need to be the rescuer of souls. He promised us that if we forget ourselves then we will never have a bad day on our missions, I'm really trying hard to do that, but I feel it's harder to forget yourself here at the MTC where everything you do is for your betterment, I just need to remember why I'm doing it ;). But so far I haven't had a bad day so that's good👍

After that we watched three stories from the new Meet the Mormons, and there were all so good! Really felt the Spirit strong, but honestly if you seek it you can feel the Spirit 24/7 here, that's what I love about the MTC. 

Also the more I find out about Elder Ibarra, the more I like this guy, he's a total capo, and he's good at basketball too, so we get along really well even though our personalities are so different. he's also incredibly smart, he passed the AP Calc test, and that in itself is intelligence I can't comprehend (I got a one), also he can solve a rubik's cube like a capo. I can tell he has such a strong desire to serve the Lord, and we may have stupid little arguments sometimes, but we can always build off that common denominator. 

Yesterday we taught our first actual investigator named V, and it went really good! We committed her to read the Book of Mormon, so I think we have something to work with!
I absolutely love being a missionary, I love teaching, especially in the beautiful Spanish language! I'm so grateful my Heavenly Father and Savior trusted me enough to give me this sacred call, now I need to give back and earn their trust and completely submit my will to their's. 

Elder Smalley


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September 6, 2016 - I'm really not dead

Hey everyone!

Thanks for all the letters! And by everyone, I mean MOM!  BTW, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMY!  TE AMO TANTO. Seriously the only people I heard from this week was Mom and Elder Jimenez. I just want to clarify that I am not dead and would love to hear from you. This means you! I'm not going to give any names... Joel. Juan. Nathan. Everyone.  Email/send me Dear Elders,  ya doofuses!  Also Mommy, I want you to know I did get your Dear Elders Thursday night and I love them. Sorry My District leader is a stinker and is bad at getting the mail sometimes. He's also sitting next to me and reading this threatening to not get my mail now. Love ya Elder Lundquist!

Seriously our district is the best!  We get along too well!   A lot of the time, we get super distracted during ciclo and district meetings, but we make sure we have fun. I cry from laughing everyday. If any of you don't want to take the time to send me Dear Elders because you don't love me enough, I guess an email would be fine... But really if you can, Dear Elders are the best and ITS FREEEEEE! Just go to dearelder.com and select Provo MTC!

Everything here is going well, being cooped up in a classroom for 12 or more hours of the day kind of makes you crazy, so if you saw how our district acts sometimes for entertainment, you would probably be pretty freaked out.  When we don't speak in english to each other, we talk in Mexican gangster accents, it's hilarious!  And we've figured out how to play our name tags like kazoos.  But getting to teach makes all the crazies worth it. Man, I love teaching Sophia.  She is so amazing and I have so much love for her!  She is so full of light and she is so close!  The other day we were only supposed to teach for 20 minutes but Elder Ibarra and I went off and taught about the Plan of Salvation for over an hour.  The gift of tongues is so real!  I can understand 100% of what Sophia says, and I have been able to speak not knowing beforehand what I would say and been able to clearly get my point across.  I love Spanish!  Teaching in Spanish is so awesome, it honestly isn't that scary and feels pretty natural.  I love it.

Sunday was like "a spiritual monsoon" to quote our zone leader Elder Schelly. We had a evening devotional where CHAD LEWIS spoke. And ya know, Chad is basically my hero because he played for both BYU  and the Eagles, so that was pretty dang sweet!  Then we went and watched on a projector Character of Christ by Elder Bednar. I don't know if y'all have access to it back home because it is an MTC address but I definitely recommend because it changed my perspective on my whole mission.

Alright you guys -  I love ya, even if you've forgotten I exist.  I'll send some photos later today, have a great week everyone!

Elder Smalley

Saturday, September 3, 2016

September 2, 2016 - It was so AWESOME!

Holla amigos y familia, 
Things here at the Provo MTC are just dandy!  I have already seen Elder Brodie Brown, Elder Josh Augenbaugh, Elder Jake Theriault, Elder Austin Simkins from BYU, Elder Jake Cottle from EFY last year, and so many other people I know. 

So my district is LEGIT. Mi companero es Elder Ibarra, he's half Mexican, but he looks como un gringo, you'd never know without the last name - jaja.  He's from Salinas, California and going to Richmond Virginia, and he's seriously cool!  We get along great, we laugh our heads off cada noche!  Our district leader is Elder Lundquist, straight outta TEMECULA, California, home of Cameron Carpenter (holla at ya boiiiiiiiiii!) So yea, he knows good ole Carp and Jonathan Segura also!  I love all the Elders en nuestro districto!  Mom remember that one future Elder going to Chihuahua, Mexico at missionary mall?  Well, HE'S IN MY DISTRICT!!!!  What a coincidence! His name is Elder Ramon and he's an OG. Anyways, the food here is bomb, all you can eat por dias! People say you get sick of it, so we'll see over the next 5 and a half weeks. (I apologize this keyboard does not allow me to put question marks or apostrophes) 

The Spanish es muy bien! It all came back super quick and I have continued to learn a lot, el don de lenguas es verdadera!  This place is seriously the coolest!  You get to hang out all day with people your age, feel the Spirit and learn so much, and also we played bball este manana, Elder Cottle and I balled these nillas up!  Seriously, this is so cool!  

I'm doing alright with the homesickness and trunkyness, not really too bad at all! I miss y'all but when you go to work and invest yourself, you begin to lose yourself - which is totally sweet! 

So today I taught mi primer lesson, EN ESPANOL! It was super scary at first, but I was tan emocionado! Nuestro investigadora se llamada Sophia. She is so sweet and kind I wanted to give her the biggest hug (but I refrained, don't worry!)😋 Her familia es de Mexico, but she is from Cali and speaks ok English. She goes to BYU and wants to know more about our church. Her family is Catholic, but she has drifted from that and doesn't know if God exists, but she said she wants to know, so I was like BOOM!  And whipped out Moroni 10:4 and shared Moroni's promise! You could tell she felt the Spirit! I then bore testimony of my conversion and then promised her that if she read El Libro de Mormon and prayed and asked Dios if it was true, that she would know for herself!  I then gave her my own Spanish Book of Mormon and Elder Ibarra and I wrote nuestros testimonios en el libro. It was soooooooooo awesome! This church es verdad ladies and gents, yo se esto!!!!!

Hope y'all have a great week, know I love ya!😍
PS... my Pday will be Tuesday so I'll email ya then!
Elder Smalley

September 1, 2016 - I'm Good and I'm not dead!

Hola Mommy! 
Estoy bien y no muerto!  Things here at the MTC are awesome, I love it here!  I have been so blessed, I have never felt so much peace and spiritual reassurance en mi vida!  Literally in my first ten minutes here, I met five of my friends from Herriman and BYU, SUCH A TENDER MERCY!  Being able to see familiar faces was so helpful in my transition.  After those ten minutes I already knew that I was going to like it here. I miss you guys, and I love you more than I can even express, pero estoy tranquilo.  Yo se que Cristo sabe mis necesidades.  I am so grateful to be here!  In one and a half days I have learned so much, especially about myself.  I know that this is His work, these are His two years, and I'm going to give Him my best.  Only have 15 minutes today so sorry this is short, but love y'all sosososososo much!  Also while I'm here at the MTC, DON'T EMAIL ME,  DEARELDER.COM HAS FREE DELIVERY TO THE PROVO MTC!!! That means I can read it right away, same day delivery, it's totally boss.  Also, if you so desire to send me a package (I'll love you forever) our district is mailbox 142! Anyways outta time, email you tomorrow!😄
Elder Smalley

August 28,2016 - Spencer's first missionary talk

Elder Spencer Smalley
Farewell address Autumn Hills Ward, Herriman, Utah
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Personal Conversion

Personal conversion is just that: personal. It is different for all of us. According to dictionary.com, conversion is: a change in character, form, or function, a spiritual change from sinfulness to righteousness, a change from one religion, political belief, viewpoint, etc., to another, or a change of attitude, emotion, or viewpoint from one of indifference,disbelief, or antagonism to one of acceptance, faith, or enthusiastic support, especially such a change in a person's religion.

According to the Bible Dictionary: “[Conversion] denotes changing one’s views, in a conscious acceptance of the will of God. If followed by continued faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism in water for the remission of sins, and the reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, conversion will become complete and will change a natural man into a sanctified, born again, purified person—a new creature in Christ Jesus. Complete conversion comes after many trials and much testing. To labor for the conversion of one’s self and others is a noble task.”

Drawing from these two definitions, if one word embodies conversion, it is change.
Such a change is addressed by Alma the younger (who might know a thing or two about conversion himself) to the people of Zarahemla in Alma chapter 5: 

11 Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them?
 12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
 13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.
 14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
 16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

Skipping ahead, Alma says: 

26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

This change of heart Alma speaks of is telling as to whether or not we have been converted. When our hearts change, our thoughts and desires will change. As a direct result our actions, our choices, and the way we live our lives will change. Conversion begins within, and is manifested in the way we exercise our agency.

Conversion is much like water becoming ice; in order for that ice to remain as ice it needs sustained cold, otherwise it will melt and return to being exactly what it once was. Therefore for us to remain converted we need to continue to put into practice the things which gave us a testimony in the first place. We need to stand in holy places and seek the guidance of the spirit.

There is a difference between having a testimony and being converted. The scriptures testify of individuals, such as Korihor, who had a knowledge of the truth yet lived contrary to that knowledge. Thus it is crucial that we not only attain a witness of truth, but adjust our lives accordingly. The beautiful thing about the Gospel is that we can always give more. We can always find ways to better serve, and to improve ourselves spiritually. We can always become more converted.

This is where the personal aspect of personal conversion comes in. It is important to be self-reflective and look at our lives as a whole. What can we improve? What can we change? What more can we give? As we seek that answer through the guidance of the Spirit, we can make the necessary adjustments and allow ourselves to become further converted.

Conversion is not only a destination but a process. Never at one point can we be content to say “okay, I’m converted.” If conversion were not a process, we would have no need to attend church every week, partake of the Sacrament, go to the temple often, or serve others as much as possible. It requires, steadfastness, diligence, and faith. Conversion is a lifelong pursuit, and is crucial to our eternal progression.

Christ said to Peter: “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” When we have experienced a change in our hearts, our Savior has asked us to strive to help others experience this same change. Doing this will in turn deepen our conversion. This is the Spirit of missionary work.

A missionary’s purpose, as found on page one of Preach My Gospel is to “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith inJesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
I would like to focus specifically on the last phrase: “endure to the end.” As I have stated, conversion is a lifelong process, so wouldn’t enduring to the end be a crucial element of conversion? Returning to the Bible dictionary definition: “Complete conversion comes after many trials and much testing.”

As we faithfully endure the challenges and struggles of our mortal experience, our conversion will continue to progress. As the Lord said to Joseph in Liberty Jail:
 7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
 8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”

There are promised blessings if we but endure. This is crucial to missionary service. News flash: serving a mission is not easy. For 18-20 year old boys, serving a mission will the hardest thing they have done in their lives up to that point. All missionaries experience mental, emotional, and spiritual hardship to some degree, many suffering physical trials as well.

 In a talk entitled “Missionary Work and the Atonement”, given to missionaries at the Provo MTC, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: 

“Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?

“You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.

“Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.

“For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.

“If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, ‘Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,’ then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.

“The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

I testify that Jesus Christ lived the only perfect life this world has ever known, I testify that in following His perfect example, and accessing the power of His atonement when we fall short, will lead to total conversion.

Now I wish to speak to speak to all the young men: You need to serve a mission. If for whatever reason you are unable to, you need to at least try. If you are not worthy, you need to become worthy, whatever that requires. If you are not at the right place spiritually to serve, start changing now. If you do not have a testimony, put Moroni’s promise to the test. It doesn’t matter whether you are 8 or 18, make the decision to serve NOW. Begin preparing NOW. There is nothing you can leave behind at home that is worth sacrificing the blessings that will come to you through your dedicated full-time service. The Lord is preparing the world for the Second Coming, and He needs YOU on His side. There are those out there who need the truth brought to them, specifically by you, because of the talents and abilities and experience Heavenly Father has blessed you with. Your Savior has extended a call to you to serve. It is your duty. If you ignore that calling, you deny those whose hearts you would change and yourself the blessings of conversion.

Now I would like to speak concerning my own personal conversion. I made the decision to serve a mission around the age of seven. My main motivation in making that resolution came from my mother telling me that a girl would only marry me if I served a mission. The idea of serving a mission seemed terrifying, sacrificing material things for two years, to me it sounded like two years of Sunday school, which I definitely did not want. But I always knew I was going to serve a mission, even if it was initially because I was concerned about my love life.

When I was 13 years old I read the Book of Mormon all the way through for the first time, and I followed the counsel of Moroni: I knelt down and prayed, asking my Heavenly Father if it was all true. I felt the Holy Ghost testify to me in my heart that it was true, and from then on I could say that I knew for myself.

As I got into middle school I began to take the Gospel less seriously, focusing mainly on sports and what others thought of me. I began to make poor choices and surround myself with the wrong people. I had a testimony, but I was not converted. Then, freshmen year, I began seminary, and I learned about the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles throughout the New Testament. As I began to immerse myself in the scriptures and truly study them for the first time, I felt a change of heart. My desires began to change.

As I went throughout High School, things like sports and popularity and impressing others took less and less importance. Not to say these things went away all together, but I slowly realized, that these things were of little significance in terms of who I was and what I wanted to become.
My motivation to serve changed.  I had experienced first hand the blessings of the Gospel, felt the literal strengthening, redeeming, and enabling power of the Atonement, and felt greater joy than I had at any other point in my life. I wanted the Gospel to bless the lives of others the same way it had blessed mine.

Considering all of this, I will gladly give two years of my life to serve my Heavenly Father and Savior. A mission is not, and never has been, about me. Though I know that serving will tremendously bless me as a person and will forever change my life in the best way, I choose to serve because I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I know that they are real. I know that this Gospel leads to everlasting and eternal joy.