Sami singing the song she wrote

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chile was hit with an 8.8 earthquake about 70 miles from where Sami is living at 3:30 am Saturday morning. We have heard from Church leaders that all the missionaries in Chile are safe and accounted for. One of the other sisters who lives with Sami (Hermana Knapp) managed to call her mom & left a message saying that all 4 girls are ok and that the damage in their area 'wasn't too bad'. More updates will follow if we receive further news. We don't know how soon Sami will be able to contact us personally since power and phone service is out in many areas.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Email from Feb 22

Hello Family,

Remember when I didn't realize until today that you guys recorded stuff on my recorder before sending it to me? Oops. Thanks for the words of wisdom! Speaking of words of wisdom... But seriously, the people here are really in to that song. Here are the pictures I promised you last week. Everything is doing fine here. 5 months in Chile! Time goes by fast/slow. It seems like you are all having a lot of fun filling in holes with dirt/ watching Dad fill in holes with dirt. What I do here in Chile is a lot like that but actually not at all. Mom, some of the Elders are a little scared of/impressed by your ability to stalk people on the internet. I told Elder Miller about his keyboard and his eyes got really big and he said ¨how did she know that?¨ I saw the fear. If you have any other good information I can use it as bargaining chips for candy/other goods at zone conference. Except that I, of course, being a missionary, am joking. We have 2 more people that we are working with to help them make a covenant with Heavenly Father through baptism this Sunday. Alonso is a man in his 70s who likes to talk a lot. And Javiera is a girl of 9 years who is the daughter of a less-active member. Her mom also wants to get baptized but she needs to get some things in order first. So let´s all look forward to a week of miracles because God is a God of miracles (Mormon 9).

You can tell Tallia and Jon and Alice that I got their package and it made me so happy I even shared my granola bar with my companion Hermana Rodriguez and she asked me where they bought it but I didn't know so I told her Costco. They/also Baby Alice are so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the pens are so cool! I have already secretly written on things. I´m glad their dog works now.

Love you all muchisimo. Ahora voy a escribir al Presidente Chavez de mi semana y todas las cosas que pasaron. Y después voy a irme a mi casa para tocar mi guitarra y organizarme mejor para la semana que viene. Miracle!
Hermana Smith

Sami's email for Feb 15

Once again, I am over a week behind in updating Sami's blog. Here is her email from Feb 15 plus some other communication she sent us.
So I was about to do what my companion Hermana Rodriguez does and write just one email to send to you guys and Presidente Chavez when I realized that you guys don´t speak Spanish. Opps. This week was amazing!!! But unfortunately I don´t have a lot of time to tell you about it in detail. AND... I yet again forgot to use the recorder you gave me to record messages. The least I can tell you is three of our investigators got baptized yesterday and each one of them was a miracle. It was such an awesome experience to teach them and help them arrive at the waters of baptism. It really strengthened my testimony that this is the work of God and that He is a god of miracles. And for that this work is a work of miracles. I love it. It´s tough sometimes but it is awesome. I´m so grateful to be a part of this work.Now I can see how everything fell into place. How the experiences I've had have prepared me to be here. This truly is the work of God and I can say that because I can see miracles every day. Miracles are just the manifestation of the power of God in our lives. If we don´t see miracles it´s not because He isn't there. It´s because we don´t have the faith we need to see them through. I learned that this week. God truly works miracles and sometimes it´s hard to believe but we need to trust in Him. A testimony doesn't come from the easy times nor from seeing miracles. It comes from choosing to trust in heavenly Father even when we can´t see the end, when we don´t know what is going to happen. Putting our trust in Him when it is difficult is what brings miracles and testimonies that He lives. And that He really is our Heavenly Father who cares for us and wants us to return to live with Him. The gospel really is a beautiful thing when you thing about it. It all comes down to love and putting other people first.

Well, I love you. I´ll put you first when I get back. :)
Hermana Smith
ps. Thank you for the tabs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
( I sent her some guitar TABs for some English and Spanish Sheet music.)
This is from a letter that Sami sent:
 I'm learning things, some of which I already knew, others which I didn't. One thing that I am realizing is what is really important for me in this life. Or maybe some things that aren't really that important that keep me from other things. For example: Important ->my Family, Not Important -> Vegging out in front of the TV. Important -> Gaining Knowledge/Studying, Not Important -> Spending all my time and money on clothes in Thrift Stores (but I' so good at it). And the things that are important to me aren't necessarily important to other people (my religion). Nothing brings that point home more than spending all day, every day, sharing it with other people. But it helps me realize how important it really is to me. If it wasn't, I definitely wouldn't be here.
Something else I've realized is that no one can prove that the church is true. It's absolutely impossible. But, on the other hand, no one can prove that it's false (and people have been trying to do that since it was formed). The more the church withstands the attacks of its dis-creditors, the stronger my logical testimony grows (yes I have a logical testimony and a spiritual testimony). Because to me the church just makes a lot of sense. We have a purpose here, God is actualy our Father and we can become like him. There is a point to trial and adversity, we can't grow without it. God didn't leave us here alone. He gave us instructions so we could accomplish what we came here to accomplish. Some people don't want to look at the instruction. Other people changed the instructions beause they thought they had a better idea. But God is just and fair and he wasn't going to let the mistaken ideas of a few (or many) of his children screw it up for the rest of us. So he gave us instructions again. And there are still people who don't want to follow them and others who want to change them because they think they have a beter idea. But God doesn't want us to be confused, so he gave us prayer so we could communicate with him. It's jut like when I call you, I can't see you either, but i know your're there because you answer me when I talk. It's the same with Heavenly Father and prayer, except sometimes it takes a little more work and practice to recognise his answeres, but that doesn't make them any less real. For me I kow that this church is true. I know in my mind and in my heart and I will not deny the witness I've received from my Heavenly Father just because I can't prove to anyone that he is there. It is also impossible to prove that he is not there.

And from a recording she sent us:
I was reading Alma 15:16 (And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek, Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred) - I had not realized that he left everything to preach the gospel - he did all of that for word of god. And in Alma 15:18 (Now as I said, Alma having seen all these things, therefore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord.) Alma took Amulek in and administered to him. As members we have a responsibility to help people who are converting - help them figure out what is going on - help them to feel comfort - be their friends and help strengthen them in the lord. You  find new things every time you read in the Book of Mormon. The Lord is awesome and works in mysteries ways

Before I was a missionary when I saw people I did not know at church I was afraid to talk to them - but now I am on the other side. Bringing investigators to church and activities, it is scary trying to get others to talk to them. So just remember to talk to less active members, investigators, new converts & new members.

Monday, February 8, 2010

letter and recordings from Feb 8

Hermanas Smith and Rodriguez with a convert
Sami's Chillean Zone before Feb 2010 combios
Hermanas Knapp, Rodriguez, Smith & Torres
So now I have GOOGLE My LDS Mail. Whoa. They were so kind as to think of a name for me: samanthas You can remember it easily because there are more than one of me. Yes cambios were today and no I am not going anywhere. But I will probably move within the next 2 cambios. I weighed myself today because I have noticed that my belly is larger than it was when I got here. I had to pay 200 pesos to weigh myself. I thought for that much it would at least tell me that I weigh less than I do but apparently I payed for the cheap weigh. Anyway. Ahahaha! Yeah, okay. So now I weigh 66,1 kg. I don´t fell bad telling everyone because I really have no idea what that would be in pounds.
More importantly: Claudino was confirmed a member of the church yesterday! And two of our investigators might get baptized this Sunday (14). We are finding more people to teach that are ready to change their lives. I read somewhere recently that the church isn't just a way of worshiping, it´s a way of living. It´s true. I can´t really think of one aspect of my life that isn't affected in some way by my beliefs and this gospel. Pretty cool, huh. Pretty intimidating for new converts, huh. That´s why it is so important to help those people who are making this change. They need help navigating in this new world and feeling comfortable with everything. That´s where we as members come in. Well, ideally we were always in. As in we help the people who are investigating the church from the very beginning so they always have the support they need.
The piano playing isn't going so well (because the only place to play is the church, only during lunch, when I have extra time). No wonder I´m still terrible. Even though it would be nice I don´t think a keyboard would be a good investment for me seeing as I already have to haul around my guitar and all my other stuff. I can´t imagine 2 suitcases, blankets, guitar, AND keyboard. Looks like my playing will have to continue to suffer, and the members with it. :)
I´m glad you got my Christmas package! Especially since I sent it more than 6 weeks ago...

Well, I hope you are all well. Sorry for the shortness this week. Keep it real.
Hermana Smith
From Recordings:
Wed Feb. 3 – I started reading Our search for Happiness (by M. Russell Ballard ) on the bus to district meetings. It is directed at everyone, not to convince anyone the Church is true but to help them understand our religion. I highly recommend it, at least through page 36 which is as far as I have read.
Today was a good day. We are working on finding more people to teach. I don’t know what will happen on combios (transfers).
Monday Feb 8: I thought I would get transferred. Two of the 4 girls in my house will finish their missions in 2 more combios.  I spend Mondays trying to figure out music & playing my guitar. I forget to make recordings the rest of the week, but will try and do better in the future.

Letter and recordings from Feb 1

I just realized I failed to post Sami's email & recorded information from last week. I will try to do better in the future. Her email was very very short - but she did send us several voice recordings which I finally had time to transcribe today.
Sorry for the short email. This will probably be the only one today. They are changing the email system and we all know how well I get along with computers so it is taking me a long time to figure it out... I hope you enjoy the recordings. I don´t remember what they say and if I did I would probably be embarrassed. Dad, I think it is the NE Volcano that is smoking. Mom, I love lego cakes (I made a lego star wars cake for her nephew Zack's birthday). Jennie, sing with me. Mike and Jeannie, rockin party (they had an amazing Star Wars birthday party for Zack complete with padawa robes & homemade light sabers for all 15 attendees.) Brian, where is your hair? Shana. Kristi. I think that is everyone. Happy birthday Zack!!!!

Mom, if you could send me recipes for desserts and stuff in the microwave (besides chocolate cake) that would be awesome. By the way, wacky cake is a hit. It tastes close enough to brownies to be delicious but is a lot cheaper (no eggs or margarine). Score.
Sami/Hermana Smith
From Sami’s voice recordings:
Friday Jan 29:
My words of wisdom are – I have no words of wisdom.
I have learned to like fish-which is a testimony that God is a god of miracles & still works miracles today because you know how I felt about fish before my mission (except tuna sandwiches). I started by not wanting to offend anyone –but now I actually like the fish. (She has been really good at trying whatever she has been offered in the way of food & seems to have learned to enjoy most of it)
I have been thinking about the natural man and about working toward being more spiritual. People have a natural man that wants to do what is easiest for us, that does not want to help others or put others first, but gratify ourselves before others. Sometimes I feel that I am doing ok about being spiritual and sometimes I think I am pretty far away from where I want to be.  I still have a long way to go overcoming some of my faults. (As her mother I think she is already perfect of course)
I hope you looked at the full moon (her dad has always loved looking at full moons with his kids - he even texted them at college to tell them to go look at one). It was low in the sky & bright yellow & I could see a volcano smoking against the full moon. I wanted to call and tell you about it.

I heard there have been a couple of small earthquakes in the area, but I haven’t felt them.  I am ok with an earthquake as long as no one gets hurt.
Sun Jan 31 

One of our investigators (Pablito was the name I think) was baptized. He is awesome; very diligent and consistent. He is such an example to me. He started coming to church and hasn’t missing a Sunday. He said he needed answers to his prayers & got his answers and was baptized. I played my guitar and sang I feel my Saviors Love at his baptism.  The day had started out bad in the morning but things worked out.  Everything seems to work out how Heavenly Father wants it to work out in the end – that is a lesson I still need to learn – I just need to do my part. Sometimes it is stressful to determine how much is our part. I stress myself unnecessarily just like Jennie (her sister) does.
I have been on my mission for 6 months already.  Hard to believe there is only 1 year left. 
Saturday my companion and I went to Roman & Carmen’s  (investigators) home. It is a little out of city where it is cooler. They had guests and were making Humitas (I think) – kind of like tamales - We helped make them (so I learned how to wrap them) but we could not stay to eat (even though we wanted to) because it was getting to be too late.
Things are going well here & I hope they are going well for you. We hope that Mario will get baptized soon. Since he is under 18 we need to talk to his dad.  We have permission from his mom, but his dad is never there. Lots of people in San Carlos work outside of the area. Some work in mines in Santiago. They go  there and stay for 15 days & then are home for 15 days. Others do other work in Santiago.  One of our investigator’s father works as a bus driver,  and sometimes he is only home for a few hours.
I am learning a lot about a different culture, and I am learning to depend on Heavenly Father. A mission is a lot of work & a lot of responsibility. You can’t do it without Heavenly Father’s help & the help of the spirit. We should not teach without the spirit.
I was reading in Alma 8:10 ‘Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty  prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance.’ I like the concept of ‘wresting with God in mighty prayer’.  We pray to find people who are ready to receive the gospel. I imagine Alma wrestling with God like you would wrestle with a bear. Alma used ’ mighty prayer’.  Prayer takes effort if it is to have results.  We probably get a lot more answers to our prayers than we recognize and a lot of guidance from the spirit that we don’t recognize. It is important to learn to recognize it.