Monday, September 27, 2010

Bonjour, en forme?

This week was our busiest (spelling? my English is slowly dying) yet. We taught 29 lessons and we had 7 Amis' at the church on Sunday and Sabrina 1 got confirmed by Elder Magnan, it was great, 10% of the ward was non-members! We have been really really blessed in Carcassonne, because Elder Magnan is the district leader I get to see all of the reports of the cities in our district, and their numbers are not nearly the same. It is crazy that we are in such a small town but we have been able to find so many people that are interested in the gospel. We hardly have anytime to contact, we only met 6 new people on the road this week but we had 5 new amis'!! Usually if we find 10 or 12 we have 3 new amis' because people don't show up to the rendez-vous' or they gave us a fake number or they aren't actually interested, but this week pretty much all of our contacts were interested. The lord knew that we were busy and he put the elect in our path.

Sabrina 2 - is super super awesome and she loves the gospel, she trouble with smoking, but we have talked to her about it alot and she said that she wants to get baptised but she feels unworthy because she smokes, we have started a plan with her this week to stop smoking in 7 days, we are going to work hard with her and when she stops next week she said that she would like to be baptised. We fixed a date of baptism with David, the 16 year old basketball player, and the next day his mom told him that we couldn't come to the church anymore. Talk about the opposition of Satan. We are going to go to his house this week and see whats up and try to get him back. We taught Carlos Vento (bento), he is from Portugal and his is a non member and his wife is from Brazil and a member, we watched the DVD of the restoration in Portuguese with them and then spoke in french with him, she doesn't speak french super well so he translated it to Portuguese for her. She has a super powerful testimony and it was really good. He has already been praying with her and he is excited to read the Book of Mormon now. We also taught Simon and Caroline, Simon is an inactive member that served a portion of a mission and Caroline is his girlfriend. They are super! She has read the Book of Mormon everyday and we talked about the plan of salvation and it was really good, I love teaching them.

It is starting to get rather chilly, frankly in the morning it is freezing, and I don't have any sweat shirts or coat. I am going to buy some sweat shirts today and maybe a coat, if I can find one that is not super expensive. The clothes are about the same price here or a little bit more expensive. There is a sale in January but there is now way I can wait that long. I thought that I could wait and that is why I didn't buy clothes last, but I learned my lesson and I'm just going bite the bullet and spend money. I'm still just as cheap as I was at home.

Random side note 1: This week I was in the bathroom and I wasn't paying attention and I walked right into the top of the door frame (the ceilings are low probably 5'6" door frame) and fell on the floor. I had a very nice goose egg. We laughed about that for awhile

Random side note 2: We eat dinner with a family from England every Wednesday, and Elder Magnan was saying good bye and he tried to say "I love your house" or the sister and he said "I love your eyes" and walked out. We laughed about that for awhile as well.

Who gave the talks at the baptism if you and Elder Magnan were running around trying to get water in the font?
--- 2 Members. Soeur Talbic and Frere Serge. They are the members that we have been teaching with and Sabrina choose to have them speak.

How many of your amis have you found since you came to Carcasonne and how many of them were already there when you got there?
----- We have found 20 people while we have been here and of those 20 we are still teaching 7 and 7 others that were already here

How many baptisms has Elder Magnum been involved in was he as excited about Sabrina as you were?
----Yeah he was super excited too, He has had 5 baptisms.

What kind of a program do they have for retaining and fellowshipping the new members?
----We continue to teach them after baptism, but we try to teach as much as possible with members, for example this week we taught 22 lessons to amis' and we had a member with us for 15 of those 22. We also assign a member to sit with our amis' during Sunday school and sacrament.

When your package comes pay attention to the date that it arrives and let me know so that I can gauge how long it takes for surface mail to get there?
----I got the package on Wednesday the 22nd and It was simply wonderful. I already ate all the oreos and I made Elder Magnan try the gushers and an oreo with the peanut butter, he thought that it was weird and I told him "that is what America tastes like". I loved it and I love the taste of America. Thank you so so so much

How are your shoes holding up?
----In fact I gave one pair of my shoes away already. At the MTC I didn't have room for 2 pairs, but the pair of Ecco's that I have are holding up well. but they are in need of a good shining

Better yet how are your feet?
---- Good. I'm seen some bad blisters from other elders but I'm yet to get them, my shoes really are great. On Saturday we had rendez-vous' all over the city, we usually try to schedule our rendez-vous' close together but on Saturday we were going back and forth all day. We guessed that we probably walked 20 kilometers, I think that's like 12 or 15 miles, I'm not sure. I was tired needless to say and I slept really good.

This transfer has been great, and it is crazy that I've already finished my first transfer, I was happy to learn that I'm staying in Carcassonne with Elder Magnan. This city is great, we figured our numbers out for the transfer and we taught 148 lessons in total. Crazy Crazy Crazy. I'd be happy to stay in this city for 2 years.

Love you all and I loved the emails and letters this week.

Love Matt

Monday, September 20, 2010

From France with Love

This week has been really good, just like all they other weeks. We are SUPER SUPER busy. I can't believe that it is already the end of my first Transfer and that I have had my first baptism.

The Baptism. It is soooo good. We invited all of our investigators to come and had 5 there, and Sabrina getting baptised all together 6. It was after church on Sunday because the bishop and his counselors were in Toulouse for a Stake meeting on Saturday. We got started and had 2 talks about Baptism and the Holy Ghost, we were a little bit worried while they were talking because the font wasn't filled up enough. It was time for the baptism, and there wasn't enough water. Me and Elder Magnan went into Hypermode. Everyone stayed in the chapel and listened to music and sang hymns while we tried to fill buckets up with water for the font. There was no water pressure in the church though because the font was already taking all of it. So we ran outside and into the back shed of the church and found a tap, and a hose. We ran the hose across the parking lot and through the window of the bathroom and into the font. Everyone kept singing and listening to 2 sisters play the flute and violin while the font filled up. Luckily Sabrina is quite short and the water didn't have to be really deep. When the font was filled up we had the baptism, The Bishop baptised her and all of amis' loved it. We have 2 that were there, that felt the spirit very strong and they want to get baptised. It was powerful for them to see them dressed in white and to see someone with the authority baptise Sabrina in same manner that Christ himself was baptised. I loved it. I couldn't stop smiling, I felt the same excitement of opening my mission call (ha ha you all remember that, I didn't gasp this time), and the excitement of leaving the MTC. It was really cool to see the fruits of our labors. After she bore her testimony and it was really good, and she thanked me for finding her, I told her that it wasn't me, it was the Holy Ghost. I will be eternally grateful for the trust the lord had in my to be an instrument in his hands. And how great was my joy for just bring one soul unto the gospel!!

We rarely have time to contact people as much as we would like because we are going back and forth from rendez-vous' (Appointments) and teaching so often. We really have been blessed with so much work. We have about 15 Amis' (Investigators) but not all of them are progressing. Some of them have the impression that we come to teach just to discuss religion, but that is not why we are here. We are here to invite others to come unto Christ and be baptised, in order to that they need to follow our commitments (read, pray, church etc etc). I think that we are about to apply Jacob Chapter 5 and start burning parts of the vineyard that are not ready, (Drop investigators because they don't follow our commitments). It is sad because we would like to teach everyone, and everyone is entitled to the gospel and everyone is entitled to eternal life, but at the same time we need to be effective and find the elect that are ready for the gospel.

Our contacts.

How tall are they?
Ha.. about 5'0'' to 5'11'' Sabrina, the one that got baptised is tres petite and David, he is 16 and I play basketball with him is about 5'11''. Everybody else is somewhere in between.

Do they like ice cream?----

Have they read the Book of Mormon and Prayed? ----
Not all of them, but the ones that we can see a change in and are really progressing, yes.

Where do they hail from?
[France; Camaroon; China; Versaille, Spain; Timbuctoo] ----France, Reunion (french island of the coast of madagascar), Portugal, Algeria, Congo

How many in each family? -----
Most of our Amis' are just one person or they are a couple. We have started teaching a less active man with 5 kids and a wife that are not members that are from the Congo. They are awesome and love the gospel. The rest of the family is evangelist and he has a super strong testimony of Joesph Smith, but he wants to be at church with his family and that is why he is less active. It will be really cool, to see the whole family come to the gospel.

How old? ----- David and Leo 16, Ali and Eliane 45ish, Vanessa and Benoit 30ish, Sabrina Tabelion 25, Sabrina Kahmenisse 32, Phillipe 45, Nadia and Phillipe 45, Joelle 40, Jeanne 50, Frere Carlos 55, Christian 55

Do they smile?
Yes :)

Are their questions serious and penetrating? -----
Alot of questions are just about the reason they are on the earth and how they can be saved. There are some that have lived really hard lives, with lots of problems, they ask questions and they bring up things that are really sad. I love when we leave a rendez-vous like that and we have answered a deep question with the scriptures and we know that our investigators have found peace.

Do they stretch your language skills?----
OHHH yeah.

Do you love them? -----
OHHH yeah

Are you still getting along well with your companion? -------
We get along super well. Really though. I feel like I could stay in Carcassonne for 2 years with Elder Magnan. He helps me so much and I love to teach with him.

Is your baptism still on schedule?-------
Yes. She is baptised and She will be confirmed next Sunday.

When you have to cook for yourself what are you eating?------
Elder Magnan cooks, because he is really particular with his french cuisine. I do the dishes. It is a good deal. Usual just some kinda of pasta or dish with some new and fancy sauce. But this week we had 6 mangez-vous' (meal with a member) and it is Fantastic. It is the most Elder Magnan has had in one week on his whole mission....and me too.

I see the Elders around town and wonder if you are walking all of the time or do you ride buses etc.? -----
We walk all the time. sometimes we take a bus if we are going far. or we get a ride from members, but Centre Ville of Carcassonne is probably only the size of BYU's campus and the Chapel is 2 blocks away from that. We walk and walk and walk and walk.

Another Really good week and the work is moving along. I love all of you and I hope that this week goes well. I pray for you all each night and know that the lord has answered your prayers and bless me here because of you.

LOVE Elder/Brother/Uncle/Friend Matt Smith

Picture. Sabrina and Us. Sabrina and Frere Martin - The bishop

Monday, September 13, 2010


I have no time. Sorry. I spent my time trying to figure out pictures and reading and such.

It was so good to hear from everyone. I love it. I prefer reading to writing. So really I loved hearing all the updates. Thank you tres, mom, jen, karlee, and yes i did get the package beaner! I loved it. and thank you annaka and porter for the pictures!

Happy Birthday Addie and Happy Birthday Lish and Aaron! Jodi, good luck with the move, I think that you'll love it and I really hope that all goes well with that.

DAD. what is our relationship to Joesph Smith, I think I've been asked that like 5000 times, when ever we see a member, or teach the restoration. It is super funny and there is a family in the ward that calls me Joesph because they think that I'm a decendent or something

This week I had a conference with all of the new missionaries in the mission. all the elders that were in the mtc with me. It was soooo good. We were in Toulouse all day and I feel like when I got here, I got a little bit broadsided, I new it would be hard, but this is really hard. I love it. but it is hard. But after the conference with all of the elders that I had grown with in the mtc. It re-lit the fire for me and I was re-energized for the work. It really was just good, I didn't really learn anything new, but It was a great reminder of all the things that I had the opportunity to do at the MTC and it just simply boosted me back up to my exiting-mtc-energy-level.

This week we are having a babtism and it is concrete. It is the girl that we found on my 3rd day here. She has grown so much and has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joesph Smith. It was been incredible to me how fast she has changed because of the gospel. In three days we taught. Word of Wisdom, Law of Tithing and Law of Chastity. These ones are usually a little bit harder for everyone. and at the end of each lesson. she just said "yes". She accepted the gospel and the commandments so well. We walk past the church often and about 4 or 5 times that we have passed she is just sitting on the steps reading the book of mormon. The church is about 10 minutes from her house, but she just goes there to read and study the gospel. It is incredible!!!

We set alot of goals on the mission. not because numbers are important, but that we can measure our success and raise the bar each week. This week we were looking grim, our goals were high and we hadn't found as much success as we had hoped for. We planned sunday, the last day of the week for the goals, and if all went well we would reach our goals. well all didn't go well and we had some lessons cancel, we kept praying and trying to get as close to our goals as possible. Then in the last hour of the last day of the last day of the week. we found 4 new people to teach and taught 2 new investigators and we met our goals. literally in about 63 minutes we found people and our prayers were answered. It was incredible and a testimony to me, that prayer works and that the lord prepares a way for his missionaries!

Sorry this is so short but I'm really low on time. Thank you for all the emails and all the love.

It sounds like all is going well, you all have struggles, yet you all have found strength and are keeping strong. I love you and I'm praying for all of you.

I love this work and I am so glad for the opportunity I have to be out in the field.

LOVE Elder Smith

ps mom. if you haven't sent the package yet. Oreos and jello don't exist here either.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

UPs and DOWNs

Bonjour! P-Day is tuesday this week because we had a District Metting on monday.
Its so good to hear from all of you and I'm glad that there is still a party at the Smith Residence! always :) It sounds like it was great! I loved seening pictures of all the grandkids and everyone. So many cute faces covered in cupcakes and kids on the swings, I'm definitly looking forward to the 3rd sunday meals in 2012.
My sunday dinner was a little bit different than our typical smith sunday dinners last week. Tomatoes. Tomatoes. Tomatoes. Rice. Liver Paste Stuff. and Green Beans. I hate to say it but I actually enjoyed it. We ate with some members and it was meat stuffed in to tomatoes and baked and such, it was really good. I think something is wrong because every time I eat a tomato, mushroom, or onion. I like it. You know me. This isn't normal. As I read all the emails I remember how great kaysville and the fall is. Here it is still hot and humid and not nearly as green as all these pictures that I'm seeing. WOW it is super green in utah.
It was a little it up and down this week. We taught a good amount, 25 or so lessons but all of our babtismal dates got pushed back in the process of the week and we now only have 1 babtismal date set. A week of super high exciting times and times of disappointments as well. It is a rollercoaster ride, but I'm enjoying it. It was a good week.
I played basketball one on one with a 16 year old investigator and won barely :) but after we talked about the Book of Mormon and he had read and he prayed and he felt the spirit. It was really cool, because when we invited him to read and pray the week before he wasn't very receptive and wasn't very mature. But after talking to him, We could definitly see the sparks of a testimony in him. It was really cool and a lesson to me to not judge so quickly and to let the gospel and the spirit do the teaching not me.
We also had a DTR (Define the Relationship) with one of our investigators. We had set a babtismal date and worked really hard towards it. We taught him about 8 lessons in 10 days. We were really trying to get him ready for babtism and working hard. And we asked him about the Book of Mormon and his testimony, and he was totally opposed to all our teachings. He started to tell me that an 8 year old can't decide on babtism, and that the book of mormon doesn't have answers, and that weak people pray. I was getting really frustrated because he was insulting my entire life. He was insulting my decision to be babtised, my family, my testimony. There was a piece of me that said -turn the other cheek - and other part of me that said - defend the faith defend your family. I was about ready to stand up and call him to repentance and send him to weaping and wailing and gnashing teeth and fire and brimestone, and then Elder Magnan wispered in english "calm down" (its nice that we can secretly commincate in front of investigators cause he speaks english) and he was right. I remembered a scripture in Alma that says something along the lines of "when hearts are hard just bare a stong testimony" So thats what we did. He didn't change his mind, but I learned a lesson that love is ten times stronger than anger. and that people can't argue the things that I have felt and learned for myself. Like I said it was a week of ups and downs
We also had a zone conference with President and Sister Carter in Montpillier, It was SOOO good. It was awesome to work with them and all the missionaries in the zone, we talked about the best ways for our investigators to gain a testimony through personal revelation. Prayer. Reading. and Coming to Church. It was really good, and we learned some awesome ways to teach these priciples. I think that thus far on my mission, I've learned the truthfulness of these things. "It is by small things that great things are brought to pass" I've realized that a lot of my own testimony has developed my the small things not big experiences. "waxed strong in the lord" not dumped on all at once. If the people we would teach would do the small things like this they would progress so much better and could gain their testimonies, and the ones that listen to us and do these things are progressing faster.
1. How do exchanges work?
We do them after district meetings, because everyone has come together, and then after the meeting you just leave with someone else. You travel to the other city or stay in the same place, depends on the assignment and then the next day, one of the companionships comes to your city and your switch back and either return to your city or you send the other companionship off to their city. I hope that makes sense, I feel like I explained it very vaguely
2. What kind of a town was Beziers from the map it looks like it was close to the Mediterranean Sea?
It was hot, but I didn't see the mediterranean at all I'm not even though it is close. We were in the city contacting and teaching lessons.
3. Are you going to experience seasonal changes in Carcasonne or is it pretty much the same all year?
Yes. It will start to get cold in about a month, cold as in, put on a sweater. and in January it will snow a little bit, nor more than an inch or so. But appartently it gets pretty cold because the humidity. All the rumors we heard were false, I'll be buying a winter coat and sweaters with in the next month or so.
I love you all and I'll try to send the pictures again! Love you!
Elder Smith

Friday, September 3, 2010

OH LA LA!!!!

Bonjour Tout le Monde! J'espere que tous est bien! Je vous aime!
So I just figured out how to change the keyboard into english! Last week was ridiculously difficult to type!

All is well here and I still don't speak French, but I'm starting to understand French. I hope eventually I can speak it. It is kind of hard to learn, because my companion can speak french obviously but he can't explain why he says things the way he does. So when I learn it goes like this....."zay it zike zis .....blah blah blah" I ask how it translates and he says "I do not know, just zay it zike zat". Its kind of funny and I love him teaching me but I can never remember how to say things because I don't know the translation and the grammer. I'll keep working and I know eventually it'll click :) i hope.

CARTER STERLING PACK!!! I love it! I'm so glad I now have a name to put with the face. Welcome to the family and in 2 years you get to meet the Favorite Uncle! for now you'll have to settle with the others. haha

So I have a piece of advice to all the members of the family and to all of the nephews and nieces.
LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHERS!!!!!!!! Mom you offically can say I told you so. The first week I led the music in sacrameeting and the second week I played in sacrameeting, I wish that I would have listened to you and practiced the piano and learned the hymns, it went well but I'm not gonna lie the opening hymn was pretty choppy. All those ours of my complaining and all the years of practicing and warning me "you're going to have to play the piano on your mission" has finally come true. Oh you are so wise! Dad you are wise too.....LISTEN TO YOU DADS AS WELL haha

This week we worked a lot but one of our babtismal dates has been pushed back because he is struggling with the word of wisdom. And our other one is flirting with getting pushed back as well because the word of wisdom. I keep praying and I hope that they can really dig deep and over come this trial! The word of wisdom is the thing we face the most. Everything closes here on sunday and people don't have any problems with that, The Law of Chasity is an issue but not everyone struggles with it. But almost EVERY person has a struggle with the word of wisdom. Its pretty gross how much people smoke here.

Teaching is going well, we taught 28 lessons this week, the most that Elder Magnan has seen while he has been here. I went on an exchange this week and I went to Beziers. It was good but I'm a little bit partial to Carcasonne. In Beziers we found a family of 5 at the very end of the night that was very interested in our church and the book of mormon. They even approached us and asked us who we were and were interested in the restoration. I know know if they are still teaching them, because I'm not in Beziers, but it is a definite testimony to me to keep working hard because we have found about 5 people at the very end of the day. And sometimes when I get tired and just think, wait for the end of the day and the last contact will be interested, I think its funny but I should have more faith through out the day as well.

Questions of the Week:

How is the food?
Fantastic, the rumors that we heard that I would get skinny here were all lies. If I don't keep doing my exercises here in the morning I'll weigh 500 pounds in 2012. At the same time because we walk all over the place I'm usually pretty hungery and burn off all the food by the end of the day. Last week I had the sterotypical french meal. It went like this, Sit down and eat cheese and bread with pepsi (sorry a typical mormon french meal, usually it would be wine) for like 35 minutes, then I thought that it was time for the meat or the potatos or something, more bread and different cheese for 20 minutes, then for sure I thought it was time for the real deal......a salad....... then more cheese and a Tarte au pomme(french apple pie)....more pepsi and then I was POSITIVE it was time for the meat and such. and we were done. haha It was very very french, the whole time we just talked and laughed and ate bread and cheese. It was delicious, yet very french

Can you remember how to cook?
Not really all the ingredients are different here

Did you take your college cookbook with you?
Unfortunately No

Do you live above a flower shop?
Yes in deed and i live on 3rd floor with the tiny window

What kind of fruit can you get?
All the same stuff, I really like the nectarines the most

Life is going well, and I love you all. I'm definitly jealous that I can't hold Carter for 2 years but when I get back he'll be running around and talking. I'm excited. I get pretty tired through out the day and then I think about all of you and realize I need to work how you would expect and want me to. I put back on my smile and keep going. The gospel is true and I'm so grateful for the knowledge it gives us and I hope that these people can come to that knowledge as well!

Love you all
Elder Matthew Sanders Smith

Ps. Mom in the package, send Peanut Butter!!! it doesn't exist here and I almost came back home when I found out. Ha Ha