Friday, December 9, 2011


Dear Family,
Happy December! I was thinking about the cold weather and I realized that I don´t miss it! When we had zone conference and stayed in a hotel in Parnaiba, the shower had hot water. It was the first hot water shower I had taken in over a month and it was terrible! Anyways, I hope you are staying warm.

This last week was a slower week. We had transfers, which is odd because it was the second week of the transfer, but this mission operates on a Brazilian time schedule. Better late than never. Anyways, our district leader was transferred, and we miss him terribly. He would often call to check up on us, and he was a great support to my companion during her first transfer training. They would often talk on the phone for almost an hour.... maybe this transfter was a good thing.
Anyways, he is a great missionary and a true gentleman. Where ever he goes, he will be an asset to the area.
We have had more difficulties with Otavio, he had a relapse of addiction and so his baptismal date has been pushed back. It is easy to get discouraged with addictions, I could tell that he was really struggling with the fact that he had slipped up. I just wish we could all have this great eternal perspective, and see that while we do mess up, we can also fix it! But if we all had an eternal perspective like that, missionaries wouldn´t be so necessary.
Also this week, we were talking to a recent convert about patriarchal blessings. What a wonderful thing to help us realize our potential. I know that this too, is part of our eternal perspective. We are really capable of doing great things, great things that take more than a day to accomplish.

Last week in an email from Auntie Kristin, she asked me what similarites and diffrences Sister Borges and I have.
1) She is also a nurtruing soul. She has a mother´s personality and takes care of everybody. It is great!
2) all of her siblings are married
3) she went to college before her mission - studying biology.

1) She is brazilian. She speaks portuguese, and is often more blunt that I am.
2) She doesn´t like chocolate.
3) Sister Borges writes in cursive, I don´t

we are getting along very well now, I am going to be sad to be transferred! Our time is up in January, as that will the be the end of the 3 month training period. We shall see what transpires then.

Awesome experience of the week:
Ana Carla. The other sisters met her at the grocery store and she lives in our area. After our first meeting with her, we asked her if there was anything she would like to pray for to say thank you for. She said - yes! this moment with you. This book of Mormon could change my life, so this moment could mean a lot for me.
Pretty neat. I am glad that we have awesome experiences too.

I love you all!
Happy December
Sister Smith

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Family,

This last week has been a busy one! I hope that dinner was delicious, shopping was safe and fruitful, and that the chocolates are done and beautiful! Phew, that is a lot to do. And this is just the beginning of the holiday season, good luck:)

We had zone conference this last week. We traveled to Parnaiba, a four hour bus ride on Thursday afternoon, and a seven hour ride back on friday night/saturday morning. I have now seen the Sobral bus station at almost every hour of the day. Zone conference was good, I met an elder who has only been in Brazil for three days. Someone who speaks less Portuguese than I do. It makes me wonder how the members here deal with us, they are so patient.
My companion continues to be patient with my language, but everyday is getting a little better. My mistakes have moved beyond the basic stuff, and I am learning more and more how to communicate. Sometimes after I speak, people look at my companion for translation. Or sometimes, she looks at thier confused face and asks them if they would like a repeat. Learning a language like this is humbling, but I wouldn´t trade it for the world. Sometimes I feel blind and lost, but never before have I needed to rely on the guidance of the Spirit to literally lead my by the hand. It isn´t easy , but this experience is invaluable.

Yesterday, we had seven investiators come to church. It was pretty cool. Oitavio is our newest and most promising investigator. The second time we taught him, we asked him if he would pray, and he asked us if we could kneel with him. And then we asked if we could come back to teach him and he asked what time the next day would be best for us. Oitavio is 21, and is recovering from a drug addiction. He lives at home with his parents and older brother and they are all so supportive of him in his recovery. His mother is a gem, she won´t come to chruch but she is welcomes us with open arms because we love her son. His baptism will still be a ways away, because he needs to get rid of any remaining habits first. But the second day we taught him, we asked him about prayer, he told us that with every prayer, it gets better. His desires change. I have high hopes for him, because I can see his sincerity to change.
Amanda, our investigator who is afraid to change, well she is still afraid to change. She has stopped coming and says that she only read in the Book of Mormon because we asked her to. Comparing Amanda, who is so smart, and has percieved success with her current religious state, and comparing Oitavio who needs spiritual healing from the Savior, it amazing how humilty makes a difference. And how change doesn´t need to be scary, it can actually be sought after.

Sister Borges and I continue to work and walk and talk alot everyday with new people. Everyday, when she prays she always says thank you for one more day. I was thinking about that and how one more day, everyday is a gift in our work. For everyone., One more day is a priviledge, what are we going to do with it? I love it.

I have not much time, but I love you! Happy holidays!
Sister Smith

Happy Birthday Sister Borges!!

Dear Family,
I got so many emails this week! thank you!!! it was wonderful to have so much encouragement. I am sorry that I do not have much time and cannot respond to each email, but know that I deeply deeply appreciate the written encouragement. Sometimes, I wonder why I was blessed to have so many people to support me. I see many people that have no hope, or few people that care about them. I have so much joy in my life because of two things, my family and the gospel. But together, I have the deep abiding joy that I read about in the scriptures. Sometimes this Brazil business is really hard, and I am not thrilled. But I always have joy in my life. That makes all the difference in the world. That is why I am here, because I have an indescribable peace in my life that everyone deserves to have. I have also seen examples and evidences of people who have changed thier lives because of the gospel, and I am further encouraged to keep going. If I don´t have many who listen, it doesn´t matter, because I have found out why I am happy. If just me, that is okay.

As you can probably tell, from the ´just me´ talk, Amanda´s baptism didn´t go through. She was baptized into the 7th day Adventist church when she was 12 years old, and she had a great confirmation that she needed to be there. Now, she is waiting for something bigger than what she remembers to be baptized. She is expecting something grand. I don´t know how to help her, but I know that faith is required. She is so smart, and she reads the Bible everyday. She reads everytime we give her an assignment in the Book of Mormon, this girl has so much potential! Hopefully, she can find the faith to realize that this gospel is a good idea. Sometimes, I just want to ask our investigators if they realize why they keep letting the missionaries return. It isn´t because we are fabulous, it is because we have the truth. And it feels good. hmph.

This week was my companion´s birthday, the ward members have been very sweet to her. They love her a lot. That is a sign of a good missionary, when the ward that they are serving in recognizes their service. She is a great people person and Sister Borges has done wonderful things here. Grandpa this week talked about a missionary´s smile. That is so valuable! If we are to ask the members to be aides in our work here, we need to show them that they matter. Anyways, Sister Borges is great at that. Kids love her. The lucky girl has 7 nieces and nephews she is a natural. I made her pizza for her birthday, it was pretty fun. I finally cooked something! Oh, how I miss measuring cups.

This upcoming week warrants a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that everything is delicious and fun. On Thursday, we have a zone conference, a second best but doubly wonderful spiritual feast. I am very excited to see what a zone conference is like in this mission.

This last week we had 31 lessons. That is more than I have had my whole mission, and few of them sadly were with the same person twice. We do not have many people tell us no the first time, but then they avoid us after that. OH the subtlies of passive agressiveness. It knows no culture. It is hard not to get our hopes up when we get to see the same person twice! But, I know that any steps made to be closer to Christ are worth our time and our effort. We have also had a difficult time recently with people who aren´t married. I should be a wedding planner. Hey we have a Bishop who will marry you for free! But the paperwork costs 100$r. hmph. again. We have three or four couples who are just awesome, but the idea of getting hitched is putting a hitch in their getalong.

I must close, but I love you all! I am thankful for my wonderful family this week and I hope you have a happy thanksgiving!
Sister Smith

Elder Bednar part 2

Dear Family,
Hearing from Elder Bednar was fantastic! What a blessing it was to have the extra spiritual energy during a taxing time. I was so thankful that we were able to go, all the sacrifice of sleep and all the bug bites while waiting for the bus were worth it.

Elder Bednar´s talk/instruction was very different from what I expected. The first thing he told us was that before he left Salt Lake, the last thing President Monson told him was to tell the missionaries in Teresina that he loved us and to remind us how often he prays for us. I know that all missionaries are loved and prayed for, but an extra shout out from the Prophet never hurt anyone. He had given two previous talks about faith and had sent them to the mission for us to read them. The majority of the time spent was him asking the missionaries what they had learned from the talks, and how they can apply it. After each missionary volunteered, he would give extra insights and tidbits of wisdom. I wrote a ton of stuff down that I know I will be able to use for the rest of my mission and beyond. He talked a lot about acting in Faith, using the example of Peter walking on the water, he didn´t know he had the power until he stepped off of the boat. We don´t know our capacities until we are in the action. Faith is action and then power. I liked that very much, and wish I had brought my notes to expound more. Nevertheless, it was a perfect instruction for missionaries, and for me. How can i know what I can say in Portuguese until I actually try to speak to someone? A mission is probably a pretty safe place to see what abilities I have through faith.

We had a six hour bus ride to get to Teresina, I had already forgotten how hot it is there! My area in Sobral is also hot, but there is almost always a breeze here, whereas in Teresina there is none. I have a new appreciation for the missionaries who are serving in that zone:)

Our area is doing well, but we have had the majority of our appointments fall through in the last week. One day, we had planned to teach 13 lessons, and only 2 of the originally planned happened. With the fast pace here, if someone isn´t home, it is never clear when or if we will actually get to teach them again. With lots of new faces and new names everyday, it has been tough to create any kind of a bond with most of the people we teach, but I am hopeful that with the spirit, connections can be made quickly. I know that even though I don´t fully understand why things are they way they are here, the direction we have been given is for a purpose. The attitude of many here is to graciously accept us once and avoid us after that, but our message is of such power that there is going to be someone who invites us in a second time. Even though we have a high standard of baptisms, we have not had one in this transfer yet, but we do have a date set with a young woman named Amanda this week. She is already active of her own volition in another christian religion, and her knowledge of the gospel is very impressive. (she has already met with two other sets of missionaries) Her only fear now is to make the change and be judged by her friends. Change is never easy, that is probably my least favorite thing about life! Change is uncomfortable. But hopefully Amanda and I can learn together to accept why change is necessary when it means coming closer to the Lord. She is very smart and has so much potential. I hope her baptism comes through.

Another one of our investigators came to chruch yesterday, his name is Irinilton. He was a reference from another Bishop in Sobral. He lives with his girlfriend and 2 year old daughter, and we have taught the mother once while he was working. She told us that she was not interested, but would not stand in his way. well miracle of all miracles he came to church by himself this week, and was befriended by some of the members. I hope that his example can touch Luciana´s heart and they can continue to have a joyful family experience.

It was fun to meet the rest of the sisters in our mission and some of the elders at this mission conference. It is always a pleasure to meet others who are just incredible missionaries and are working so hard! It is an inspiration to me, to be more like them and work harder. Being in a large group of missionaries is probably one of my favorite things about being one myself.
It has been an awesome week, filled with plenty of disappointment but many spiritual highs as well.
I love you all and hope this week is a good one at home. As you shovel the snow and snuggle with my mom´s flannel, just remember that I am jealous:)
Sister Smith

Elder Bednar part 1

Dear Family,
Well the biggest thing on my horizon is the fact that Elder Bednar is coming to Teresina this weekend! Happy birthday Korin, I get to hear from an apostle:) I am pretty excited about it. Our travel plans are kind of crazy. We leave Sobral at 3 am on Saturday, and will arrive at about 8;30. The meeting starts at 10 and will go to 1, and we get back on a bus to come home at 5:30. So hopefully, we will be home by midnight. Lots of travel, but for a very worthy cause. I can only imagine the logistics that President Dias has had to go through to get this to happen. We have a pretty big mission, and the idea of getting all 100 missionaries together is nuts. This is the first mission wide meeting since the mission began almost three years ago. I am pretty excited.

Our investigators are just like a roller coaster! We are supposed to find 15 new people a week, and get 10 of them to sacrament meeting. The goal is lofty, and we have fallen short both weeks. The hard part is that there are so many people to teach that if they don´t show interest after the second visit, we drop them. I don´t like it, but our time is better spent finding others... I guess? This is direction from our mission president, and he knows best for our mission so I won´t question it. So it is very hard to get to know someone, assess their needs and then never see them again. We had a girl, Leidiani, set for baptism date, and all the sudden she avoided us and then we dropped her. One day, she was five days away from baptism, and the next, we won´t teach her again. Woah! This place moves lightening fast. We have a new investigator named Ana Paula, also a teenager. I really hope she comes through and starts to progress quickly, I like this one:) She seems to be prepared to hear the gospel, I hope and pray everyday that we can touch her life with the change that only Christ can bring.

Last p-day was Halloween which doesn´t mean anything in Brazil. Except that all the stores close. It is kind of like a labor day? huh. So, today we went shopping for the first time. We went to all the stores with made in China stuff that is cheap and gaudy. I have to use up some of the stuff from my toiletries suitcase so I can start accumulating souviners. I mailed some letters last week, but the post office guy said that to get from Sobral to the US, it was going to take 25 days. I have no idea why, and I don´t think they take that long to get to Teresina. The catch is that I only get my letters from the office when my district leaders have meetings or other administrative stuff, so like one or twice a month? Not sure, I don´t really trust elders, especially the ones that I don´t fully understand because they speak Portuguese too fast. hmmm.

I reread my last email. my companion isn´t 14 sorry, typo on an international keyboard! she is 23 right now. her birthday is next week. Sister Borges works really hard, and she knows the people here really well. I have come to the realization that it doesn´t matter how I am treated, it matters how I treat people. I had a thought one day of, you know she is a daughter of Heavenly Father, and is in pretty good standing seeing as how she is a missionary right now. I better stay on my toes, and treat her like the precious being that she is. Most days, I remember, and the other days I pray to remember that. The language barrier is discouraging, but we can always communicate through service and kind actions.

It is still hot here, and everyone is decorating for Christmas already. Trees and all!
Well, I love you! Hope you all have a great week!
sister smith

It's hot, but I haven't melted yet

Dear Family,
I am more person than puddle, most of the time. I have yet to find a love for the heat or the humidity! We walk 10 to 12 miles a day, in this heat of the equator, but at least I don´t need moisturizer!

So my area is Junco, which includes three neighborhoods just outside of Sobral. These neighborhoods have lots of hills, up and down, up and down, and then up and down some more. I very much appreciate a flat road now days. The people here are mostly nice, and when you ask someone if we can meet with them later with thier family, the answer is almost always a yes. Keeping comittments is the problem most often, because everybody says that they will come to church, but few actually do. This week we must have had 30 people say that they would come, but 4 came. That is okay, church is really cool, and the ward is here is very nice. There are many teenagers who are the only converts in their families and the youth group here is huge. I would say that the ward has about 100 active people, with quite a few that are less active. As missionaries here, we do not work too much with less active families which bums me out, but the work here is different.
My poor trainer, I struggle sometimes when we do things that I don´t understand. The other day, she asked someone to return the Book of Mormon we gave them because they weren´t progressing as an investigator. I would have never known that that was acceptable, and I still don´t know that I like it too much. There are so many people here willing to hear our message that those who aren´t right away ready aren´t too much of a worry. This is something new to me, but I will adjust, and it just means that I need to work harder to make connections with people in the first visits to make them stick.
My trainer´s name is sister borges, she is from São Paulo. Her family was baptized when she was 13, and she will be 14 on the 17th of november. Speaking of birthdays, happy birthday Auntie Rae yesterday! I hope your day was fun and relaxing. My trainer just transitioned from being a junior companion to being a trainer, so I think that the change is harder than she thought. It can´t be easy to go around with a confused white girl all the time that you can´t talk with too well. So, keep my companion in your prayers, because I think she needs the extra boost. I worry and feel awful that I am not more help, but with the temporal distractions of heat, language, hills, and all that other new missionary adjustment, I am just a mess! We will get there. here in the mission the training program is now 2 transfers, so we have a while to figure it out.

The ward missionaries are just outta sight wondeful. There is one girl, Glacie, she is 18 and the only member of her family. She will go with us for hours when we need member present lessons. She is such a trooper and reminds me of brooke and alexis. I just love her to bits.

We live in a 3 bedroom house with another sister companionship. Sister Johnson is from tooele, and she goes home in 2 months. She is a big help when i have a question that needs to be clarified in a langauge other than portuguese. Sister Viera has been a member for 2 years, and a missionary for 1. The missionary that baptized her was my MTC teacher, small world huh? She is amazing because her desire to continue on is so strong. She gives me hope for the young people of this ward and the people we teach.

I am adjusting. I am only slightly sunburned and have only a dozen bug bites so far. We can walk around with umbrellas here to shade from the sun, which is a very good thing. Oh, the sun rises here everyday at 5 am. I still think that this is really weird.
I am a little less confused and lonely than I was last week, and I am starting to get used to the idea that I get to do this for a time. Hopefully one day, I will come home not just having endured another day, but having enjoyed it too. I just have to remember to be patient until that day.
I love you all and thank you for your prayers and emails!
Sister Smith

Brazil. It is hot here

Dear Family,
yes, my mother dear, I did arrive safely in Teresina. The 12 hour flight to SãoPaulo was long, but there were over 30 missionaries on the flight. It was very fun to see all of my friends from the MTC and hear about reassignments. When we got to the airport, there was someone from the church there to help us out with passports and all that jazz. I don´t know why, but we did not go through customs, and everything went through quickly and smoothly.
Presidente and Sister Dias picked me up from the airport and took me to lunch, this was probably about 4pm. then they dropped me off at a hotel accross town where i could rest and shower for a few hours. It was incredibly strange to be all by myself for the first time in four months. in a foreign country where everyone speaks REALLY fast! I was not thrilled, but it was very nice to take a nap. The assistants picked me up from the hotel for dinner and we ate with the Dias family. Luckily one of the assistants was American, and Sister Dias said that I looked tired and that he needed to translate for me. I wish that was the case everyday. People in Teresina speak really fast.
The second day, I was supposed to meet a set of elders in the hotel lobby at 7 am. They were two and a half hours late, and i just waited, and waited, and waited some more. I was all alone in a hotel across town, where I couldn´t go anywhere or speak to pretty much anyone. I was thankful to see them, and they both are Brazilian, so they should be thankful that I can´t betrate them in Portuguese yet! We went all over the city in taxis that day to get my passport and visa authorized and to get me a temporary id. it took the better part of the day, and then the sisters in Teresina came to the mission office to pick me up where i have been staying since friday night.
I will be serving in Junco, a town just outside of Sobral. It is a six hour bus ride from Teresina, and my companion (who is Brazilian but I cannot remember her name right now) will arrive tomorrow morning for us to ride together. I have heard that it is just as hot, but that the place i will be staying is nice.
So, for the past three days, I have been with Sister Fisher and Sister Aguiar. Sister Aguiar speaks so fast my head spins, but she is kind. Sister Fisher actually served her reassignement in Montana as well, and she has been an asset to help me along for the first few days. She just served in Junco and said that has been her favorite area. here in Teresina, we walk everywhere. Everyday, we walk between 45 mintues to an hour to get to an appointment. So each appointment takes three hours. one to walk there, one to teach and one to walk back or somewhere else. I hopefully will learn to endure the heat better:)
I don´t have many details yet about where I will serve my first area, but I am sure that the email next week will be chalk full of details.
for now, pray for my success, I miss you all a ton!
Sister Smith

Brazil! It's really here!

Dear Mom and Dad,
I got a phone call from my mission president about an hour ago telling me that my visa has come and that I will be going to Brazil next Wednesday. Sister Ricks also received her visa and we will be traveling as far as Sao Paulo together. Can you believe that tender mercy? I am so glad that I will get to fly all that way with her, it will prove to be a long day.
President Garner will pick us up in Helena on Tuesday night, and we will leave the mission home at 4 am the next morning for the airport.

I hope that this email finds you well and excited. I can't believe it. Just like when I was in the MTC and found out that I was going to Billings Montana and I couldn't believe it. But this reassignment has been the best thing to happen to me, so I can only imagine this change will be the same.
I love you and will talk to you next week!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tara’s First Area!


Junco is a town just outside of Sobral, Brazil. This is where Tara will be serving for her first area! It is about a six hour bus ride from the mission headquarters in Teresina.


Wikipedia says that the population of Sobral is 182,431. It also has this information about the city:

“Sobral is the second largest municipality of Ceará, after Fortaleza. Its economy is based on agriculture, services and some manufacturing industries. The city has two public universities (Universidade Federal do Ceará, with a medical school) and the Universidade Estadual do Vale do Acaraú, and also counts with two other private colleges, Faculdade Luciano Feijão and Inta - a theological institute. The city is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sobral. The city became internationally known when it was the place where the first astronomical observation of a solar eclipse on May 29, 1919 by a team of British scientists led by Sir Arthur Eddington was offered as the first proof of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity[citation needed], which had been published in 1916. A ‘Museum of the Eclipse’ celebrates this event in the town. There is a monument at the museum marking the location of this solar eclipse.”

Brazil. it is hot here.

Dear Family,

yes, my mother dear, I did arrive safely in Teresina. The 12 hour flight to São Paulo was long, but there were over 30 missionaries on the flight. It was very fun to see all of my friends from the MTC and hear about reassignments. When we got to the airport, there was someone from the church there to help us out with passports and all that jazz. I don´t know why, but we did not go through customs, and everything went through quickly and smoothly.

Presidente and Sister Dias picked me up from the airport and took me to lunch, this was probably about 4pm. then they dropped me off at a hotel across town where i could rest and shower for a few hours. It was incredibly strange to be all by myself for the first time in four months. in a foreign country where everyone speaks REALLY fast! I was not thrilled, but it was very nice to take a nap. The assistants picked me up from the hotel for dinner and we ate with the Dias family. Luckily one of the assistants was American, and Sister Dias said that I looked tired and that he needed to translate for me. I wish that was the case everyday. People in Teresina speak really fast.

The second day, I was supposed to meet a set of elders in the hotel lobby at 7 am. They were two and a half hours late, and i just waited, and waited, and waited some more. I was all alone in a hotel across town, where I couldn't go anywhere or speak to pretty much anyone. I was thankful to see them, and they both are Brazilian, so they should be thankful that I can’t berate them in Portuguese yet! We went all over the city in taxis that day to get my passport and visa authorized and to get me a temporary id. it took the better part of the day, and then the sisters in Teresina came to the mission office to pick me up where i have been staying since Friday night.

I will be serving in Junco, a town just outside of Sobral. It is a six hour bus ride from Teresina, and my companion (who is Brazilian but I cannot remember her name right now) will arrive tomorrow morning for us to ride together. I have heard that it is just as hot, but that the place i will be staying is nice.

So, for the past three days, I have been with Sister Fisher and Sister Aguiar. Sister Aguiar speaks so fast my head spins, but she is kind. Sister Fisher actually served her reassignment in Montana as well, and she has been an asset to help me along for the first few days. She just served in Junco and said that has been her favorite area. here in Teresina, we walk everywhere. Everyday, we walk between 45 minutes to an hour to get to an appointment. So each appointment takes three hours. one to walk there, one to teach and one to walk back or somewhere else. I hopefully will learn to endure the heat better:)

I don´t have many details yet about where I will serve my first area, but I am sure that the email next week will be chalk full of details.

for now, pray for my success, I miss you all a ton!


Sister Smith

Thursday, October 13, 2011


So I sent this email on Monday, but I didn't know that wouldn't send because I attached too many pictures. Well here is the original email. Except this isn't all true anymore! I was going to stay in Townsend, but my visa has come instead! I leave next Wednesday from Billings at 6:00 am. It is a very bittersweet time because I have grown to love and adore my companion and my area very much. I am borderline freaking out because I just don't know enough Portuguese! Anyways, I suppose I get to call my mother and dad next week in the airport, and President Gardner said that they will be sent my flight itinerary.
I am really going to Brazil! I have made it to the next step! I just can't believe it.
I love you all, pray for me as I pack:)

Dearest Family,
I got my transfer information, I am not transferred:) I am staying in Townsend with Sister Van for her last transfer. She goes home at the end of this six weeks, and she is getting excited to go home. We are at totally opposite ends of the spectrum, which actually gives us both good perspective. She doesn't want to go home, and I am homesick. Or She is totally jazzed to see her family and I can't imagine leaving before I am ready. The balance is good and things are great. I am sometimes jealous, but I have so much left to learn and I have yet to get to the next adventure. I have too much to do! At the end of this transfer, I will have a year left. Hopefully, I can spend that year in Brazil, huh? Keep praying for my visa, and warmer weather in Montana. there isn't snow here just yet, but it has been in the 40's and 50's.

We went to church in White Sulpher Springs yesterday. The branch had about 14 members there. The town has about 400 people,and we are only there every other weekend, so it makes it tough to find investigators that can stick it out with infrequent visits. The Lord understands our restrictions, and I hope and pray that we can find some more work there. We tracted into a Woman who said that she was Catholic, great! we thought. Any religion is great! We told her to have a nice day and offered her a pass along card that has a picture of the Savior. She told us no thank you because she knows that He wasn't white. You do not hear that one everyday in rural Montana. The seminary teacher in Townsend says that she has trouble with racial comments about terrorists all the time while they are studying the old testament, good thing the descendants of Ishmael are not here with us I guess.

The ward in Townsend seems to be doing well. The Ward Mission leader is bound and determined to gather the lost sheep. He has asked every auxiliary to focus on five less active members of the ward, and work on just a few at a time. Every leader in the ward is starting to get involved in member missionary work. That is something to be totally jazzed about! Brother Mitchell is tireless, even though he is 78 years old. He has been hospitalized twice in the last two weeks with heart problems and he has atrial fibrillation? I hope that he doesn't get discouraged now that he is having to take it easy. Bless is heart, literally! but now that he has involved others, the work will still continue to move forward.

This week I had stroganoff with raisin bran on the top. We thought that they were corn flakes, but nope there were raisins in my noodles. That tops any captain crunch berries, huh? We have had some real winners for dinners lately, including a twice baked potato where the horseradish had been accidentally tripled.

Sister Ricks is also staying in Helena, so we are still in the same district, which is a blessing because we can still practice Portuguese. I am getting nervous about my language skills slipping. I practice an hour a day, and I know that the Lord understands that I can't control my visa, so He will make up the difference. Nevertheless, I am pretty darn worried about how on earth I am going to meet my mission president in Teresina who doesn't speak English. The gift of tongues and lots of faith I suppose. I know that it will all work out in the end, but this waiting thing is harder than I initially thought it was going to be.

We have been having a good time this week sharing general conference messages with everyone. President Uchtdorf's forget me not talk sure has been a hit. That man sure knows how to give a classic, doesn't he? I am so thankful for prophets and apostles who say things so eloquently that can touch the hearts of many. It is so important to forget not that the Lord forgets not us. I needed to remember that for sure this week as I got all worried about my visa. It has never been in my hands, since the minute I decided to file mission papers, this has never been in my hands. How could I ever think that I was forgotten? I sure wasn't.

I love you all lots and lots, and I miss you!
Have a great week,
Love Sister Smith

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Conference feast

Dear Family,

I just loved General Conference! It was so wonderful. I so appreciated the talks about missionary work and about covenants. I have been studying in Alma lately and reading about the sons of Mosiah, Zeezrom and many others who were deeply converted to the gospel. In every instance, those who were truly converted, or wanted to stay converted, made covenants with the Lord. That is how we show our love for Heavenly Father. We make covenants. They are so powerful. I loved the talk by Sister Dalton to fathers. I cried through the whole thing because I felt like she was describing my dad in her talk. So thanks dad, I am so glad that I grew up with a father who loves my mother with everything he has and a father who has always honored his covenants.
I had no idea that Elder Hales was so sick, but I thought his talk was particularly sweet talking about waiting on the Lord. I learned a lot from that talk and I can't wait to reread that one.
One last thing - A SECOND PROVO TEMPLE! And a Wyoming temple. No that isn't in my mission, but it is right close to the Zollinger's. I am very excited for those two open houses. That will be wonderful! Aren't temples a miracle? I am so excited for that Provo temple, I have had stake conferences in that tabernacle, and it will hold a lot of meaning for many Provoites. How incredible. I bet everyone at home is all abuzz about it.

On to some business - This has been the warmest September in Montana on record, I am pretty sure. I hope that they know that if I stay here for October it will be more of the same. I am pretty convinced that the Lord is reminding me that He is mindful of where I am with what I packed. President Monson mentioned that a ton didn't he? The Lord is always mindful of us.
Transfers are this next week, I will find out on Friday where I go or stay. I just have no idea, but I will tell you this, I am pretty excited to not be a greenie. Everyone is all predicting about transfers, and I just want to tell them that not having your visa, that feeling is always near. I never know where I will be next week. I am a planner type so this is a good experience for me to wait on the Lord, like Elder Hales beautifully reminded us.

The ward in Townsend is great! I love it here. There was a little girl named Sophie who was baptized this week. I told her that I was going to send a picture to my family of my first baptism. Even though she is eight, it was still just as awesome to see someone make a covenant and beam with cleanliness. Sophie was just beautiful.

This last week, we knocked on a door and an elderly gentleman answered saying that his wife was in the shower and to wait outside for a few minutes and he would let us in. We waited, and waited. I noticed a bird flying above us in circles. It was a vulture. Before we realized that the Old Man wasn't going to come back, there were 8 vultures circling overhead. Is that a sign? We haven't been back yet.

We haven't gotten any new investigators this week, but I am optimistic. We do a lot of good, and we invite many to come unto Christ, I am full of hope that our efforts aren't in vain. We tract, but we haven't had anyone say yes since I've been here. We just need to make the word available, it isn't our job to make anyone accept it.

Well, I know my news is sparse, but things are going well. I love you all, and I missed you during general conference. I hope that it was a great time anyways, I was thinking about you!
Sister Smith

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How long have I been here?

Dear Family,
I was going to write the week number of my transfer, but I don't remember how long I have been here? is it week four or five? Anyways, however long it has been, it hasn't been long enough! I don't want to leave:) Whenever my visa comes, it will be an exciting day, but I will miss Montana dearly. My mission president, the ward I am serving in, and my companion have all been just so wonderful. My expectations for the rest of my mission are sky high, because this is all GREAT.

This last week has been Indian Summer to be sure! How hot has it been at home? Last Tuesday, in the morning on the way to a Zone Training meeting in Bozeman (an hour and a half drive) it was 25 degrees. I couldn't believe it. And then on Wednesday afternoon, it was 87 degrees. The rest of the week, it was almost 90 degrees everyday. Today it is something like 70 outside, so almost sweater weather. For the end of September, the weather has been just perfect for someone who has packed for Brazil.
I can wear lightweight cotton clothes with the best of 'em.

On Saturday, our ward mission leader and his wife went to the Rexburg temple and were sealed. Brother Mitchell, I don't know if you remember from a previous email, was baptized a year ago. His wife was baptized about three years ago and had already been through the temple. Anyways, he got his endowments out and then he and his wife were sealed in front of about a dozen returned missionaries and many ward friends. Everyone there did one of their family names for them. I was so sad that we couldn't go with them, but Sister Van and I did get to see them that evening when they came home and they were just GLOWING. It was one of the most touching things I have seen! Brother and Sister Mitchell are the most wonderful people and they are so supportive of missionary work. Every week, they host a dinner for our investigators and some less active members. Their love for people is incredible, I want to be them when I grow up.

Did I already tell you about Brother Gordon Coop in the ward? He has the coolest reactivation story. I am going to retell it. He had a very difficult divorce, and he doesn't have very much to do with his children. After losing his home and I am assuming his job, he moved up to Montana to stay in his sister's home while she works out of state. One evening he went into a crawl space to fix something and found a large plastic bin full of scrapbooks. The top one was a mission scrapbook for one of his other sisters who has passed away. She served a mission in Brazil in the 1960's (one reason I love this story, naturally). Shortly after he found this memory of his sister, the Sister Missionaries of townsend knocked on his door, and he let them in to honor his sister's memory. Since then, he has been coming back to church and he is a very loving, kind man. This is so touching! We never know how our missionary service will bless our family, or other future missionaries.

Montana is fun, I am certainly not in Sandy anymore. The other day, a sweet older woman took her dentures out after dinner and began to suck on them. Later I thought to myself, "I have officially been broken into Montana". The things you see as a missionary. We went to visit a woman one evening and her husband answered the door wearing swim trunks and sunglasses. He didn't have a swimmer's build. Another day this week, I got to dig a three foot wide, one foot deep hole for a member of our ward who is renovating their basement. They grow rocks in their garden about as well as the Becksteads do!

Zone Training was definitely a highlight from last week. We met for a few hours and talked about the Book of Mormon, each taking turn to bear testimony of what we are learning from our reading right now. There were about thirty missionaries there, so it took a while. I love being around other missionaries, I told President Gardner this and he smiled and said "when they are acting like missionaries... yes!" I must be lucky, I have only seen them be on their best behavior. I just love my mission president, I can't say enough good things about him.

I best be off, but as always, I love you all! Enjoy general conference.
Sister Smith

ps - the relief society talk about forget me nots was amazing, wasn't it?

Monday, September 19, 2011

sixty degrees and partly cloudy

Dear Family,
Hello from Townsend:) I am doing just great, or rather, better than most other BYU fans are doing today. OUCH. I am kind of thankful that I didn't have to be there to watch that one. I hope that you can heal for next week. I have been teaching a lot about general conference, the cool thing being that everyone here has a satellite dish and BYU TV! Everyone can watch from the comfort of their lazy boy that they don't leave when we come to see them. So anyways, I have been sharing Jacob 2:8, talking about those who listen to the prophet to heal the wounded soul. I know that this is so true in my life, as general conference, and the words of President Monson ANYTIME heal my wounded soul. I have a lot of weaknesses as a missionary, and sometimes it is hard to not to be too homesick, but I know that as I try I will be sustained. I am very excited to hear from the bretheren this upcoming session! We get to watch with a member family, and we even get to drive up to Helena for the relief society session this Saturday. I am glad that I am still in the US to watch at a regular time, with regular hours and regular English. I am just too blessed. Everyday, I keep thinking "are You SURE that I deserve this?!" (I really don't)

This week we taught the couple again who don't like eternal families. I told them that I am from a family of three and she questioned whether or not my parents were devout latter day saints. three isn't enough for most of us apparently. I told her that we don't have children to boost membership numbers, but to raise good people. I don't think she believed me.

We met with a woman who we tracted into a few weeks ago. She is already a member, but doesn't want visits or anything because her husband is antagonistic. It was heart wrenching. As missionaries we get to help many people, but when you can't even help for risk of troubling a marriage, it is just awful. Religion never killed anybody. (aside from persecution and a myriad of other things, but who is counting?) Religion in Townsend Montana will not hurt you. That I am pretty sure of.

So I can't remember if I recounted a story about peaches yet, but some members of the ward drove 8 hours down to Brigham City, UT to buy peaches for people. They got over three thousand dollars worth of fruit. I had no idea that Utah peaches were so heavenly! Maybe there is a difference between Orem peaches that Trevor ran over and Brigham City peaches? I don't know, but I did have one yesterday from the triumphant return and it was good. I hugged Sister Mitchell because she had essence of home all over her! I do miss Utah.

Mother, I got my flannel pillowcase, it was my favorite thing you sent. Thank you! Everyone in this town sews and likes to craft, you and Auntie Rae really need to bring up your watches you would make a killing. your flannel would be the envy of every quilter in town. I also loved the letters from the primary, they are so sweet. I am having a good time, someone asked me that in their letter. Yes, missionary work is a hoot! one more highlight: my costco card. We are going into Helena today so I get to go! I have missed it so. Thank you mother for the costco card.

I am sorry that this letter is so very sporadic, I do not have very many anecdotes to share, but do know that the work is going along just fine. We taught 25 lessons last week, I have no idea if this is average or whatnot, but the mission standard of excellence is 20 lessons per week, so I feel optimistic. We taught mostly less active members of the ward, but they are so sweet and accepting of us, I just can't help but wonder why they won't let the ward in like that. I have learned a lot about how much I slacked off before my mission on this front. I hope to be much better at loving, fellowshipping, and reminding people how much they are needed when I get home. I have a lot to work on!

I must draw to a close, but know that I love you all very very much. I love MY eternal family and it is a privilege to share my testimony with others to help draw their families closer together. I know that a family centered on Christ is a family that will find lasting joy, I am so thankful to have that at home. So thank you for your examples and inspiration to me!
Lots of Love,
Sister Smith

Friday, September 9, 2011

Townsend, MT

Dear Family,

I am here, I love it, and my goodness is it difficult! Walking around and telling people that you are a missionary is harder than it looks. Literally one woman looked at us and said "I know what you do..." and that was about the gist of our conversation. There is rejection, that is to be sure. The hard part isn't that someone isn't going to like me, the hard part is that I KNOW the message of the restored gospel is EXACTLY what they need! It is sad to see someone reject the only lasting happiness that they are going to ever find. Hmph. I love them anyways. Most people are really nice about beating around the bush that they don't like us, but no matter how we are rejected, I love them anyways.
Enough about rejection! I am sorry I started with that! I actually LOVE Montana. The ward is nice, the small branch we serve in is very kind, and the people we go teach are warm. I have several people to introduce you to:
1) Brother Wayne Mitchell - He is our ward mission leader. He is 78 years old, was baptized a year ago, and will be sealed to his wife in the Rexburg Temple next week. He reminds me of Tim Burke. I think that is the kindest thing I could say about anyone. Every week, he and his wife (who was baptized 3 years ago) have dinner for the missionaries and some of the less actives in the ward. His love works miracles for people. Brother Mitchell is a hoot too! He teases all of the time. It took three years to get him baptized and the first time I met him he told me he had a fridge full of missionaries. (Just pictures on the front, but I was thinking..."welcome to Montana Sister Smith") I love the Mitchells, he always says that he wants his home to be warm and welcoming to every missionary that is far from home. Mother, I will have to get their address and you will have to send him a Christmas card.

2) Phyllis Lee - She is 83, was baptized about 10 years ago. We went and visited her yesterday, she just got home from the hospital and is in great spirits. She only wears one earring because she got in a bar fight once when a woman was hitting on Sister Lee's husband. She lost part of her ear lobe. As a badge of honor, she only wears one earring everyday, like the long dangling kind. On her side table by her chair, she has a picture of her husband ( he passed away quite a while ago) wearing pink fuzzy pajamas while camping. The story goes like this: She was working, he was in charge of packing for the trip. He didn't pack for himself, and so he got to wear her pajamas for a day. She said any strife of keeping the picture was worth it. I for one, agree. She is spunky woman with an amazing testimony. Her seven children, and numerous grandchildren don't understand why she is a Mormon, but her belief is an example even to me!

3) The Williams family. part of our area is White Sulpher Springs, which is 45 minutes west of Townsend. We go there everyother weekend to tract and to go to the branch on Sunday. We stay with the Williams family. Brother Williams got his mission call to Brazil, but got sick while in the MTC. Fifteen years later, and I am determined to have a conversation in Portuguese! They have three little girls who are the cutest things. They have an almost six year old who literally looks like she is three, she is Tiny! Sister Williams reminds me of Laura Hughes in a way, and she let me read a cookbook. I loved her instantly.

4) Sister Van Leishout. My trainer. She is patient with me and lets me study Portuguese all I want. I love her to bits! She is from Olympia, WA and has about three months left on her mission. I am her third greenie, bless her soul. She has a degree in Music from Washington State, and just turned 28? Anyways I like her a lot. she has a great sense of humor, and she has a tremendous love for the people of Townsend. She has been here almost 5 months and knows everybody! she is an inspiration.

The town is small, it is a 40 minute drive to get to Wal mart on Pday. But yes we have a truck. which is great because not many roads are paved:)

I have compiled a small list of ways to know you are in Montana:

- You know you are in Montana if a mother won't let her son watch Bambi because hunting season starts next week.
- People tell you to eat bears that have been eating berries not fish.
- You offer someone zucchini, and they decline because they don't want to fill their freezer too full in case their husband shoots an elk on his hunting trip.
- Tracting in White Sulpher is difficult because there is a demolition derby, a parade and a rodeo for Labor Day weekend.
- And finally, it is September 5th and there is ice on your truck when you try to wash it on P-Day.

I love it here! I can't wait to tell you more.
For now, just know that while yes, Missionary work is hard, it is the greatest privilege I have ever had to tell people about their Savior. It is the best thing I have ever done to be loving and kind to someone and reflect well on the church that I represent.

Ate mais,
Sister Smith ( not seester smeech... yet!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Onward, Ever Onward

Dearest Family,


Sister Taralyn Smith
Montana Billings Mission
1848 Rimrock Road
Billings, MT

It is here, it is really really here! I am leaving the MTC tomorrow! I can't believe that 2 months of my mission are gone and done. Time has gone by so fast. Trevor has been gone one year this week, I also am having a hard time swallowing that:) I am SO excited to go to Montana, I felt an automatic sense of rightness when I heard where I was going. I am so glad that I am going with Sister Ricks and Elders Hutchins and Morrey as well. What a tender mercy. I have a mission with someone in my district now! That has been a hard thing, not meeting anyone going to Teresina while I have been here. Heavenly Father knew that I needed a connection with my Brazilian missionary friends. I love my district so much, it has been the best part of my MTC experience getting to know them.

I was shocked when I found out that I was going to the Montana Billings Mission. I love the idea of it. I already love the people I am going to serve, and I am so excited to go meet President Gardner and tell him to put me to work. I am going to act like this is my mission for 18 months, I will represent well and I will serve with my whole heart and soul. I can't wait! 24 hours from now, I will be on a 1 hour and 28 minute flight that will get me to the greatest mission on earth.... except maybe Teresina:) I am not even worried about my visa, when it comes, it will come. See Alma 13:25. I know that the Lord has impeccable timing for our growth and I am going to learn something necessary for my experience in Brazil right now. The timing is right, and for now I need to be somewhere besides Brazil. It is humbling to think that I am needed in two places, very specific places. It is times like these when I think, woah! Are you sure I am cut out for this? Billings has a temple too! I hope I get to go. Have you seen a picture? It is beautiful! Go look, right after you read in Alma. I can't wait to get there... or really just leave before football season starts in Provo. That would be a trial of my faith... much more than a visa delay:)

The last week of the MTC has been a blur. It scares me. My whole mission is going to be a blur isn't it? Last classes, saying goodbye to teachers and members of the branch presidency, final 14-hour field training (that was a brutal day), and packing. Oh packing. I can fit it all in, I have great faith. I wonder what airport security thinks when they scan missionary luggage. Who travels with 6 sticks of deoderant? I bet that this would be an entertaining job anyways. Imagine what people think when they see Taci's luggage. A tree branch? If I can't fit everything, I'll just wear 5 skirts and carry my Portuguese books in my arms like a baby. No sweat.

Last Tuesday, I recieved a beautiful blessing from Elder Morrey and Elder Sudweeks in my district. I had a migraine. Probably the worst that I have ever had, including numb hands, nausea and disorientation. I am so thankful for the Priesthood. After a blessing and a nap, I felt so much better. I know that resting and medicine don't hold a candle to what God can do for us. I am so glad to be around elders who are worthy and willing to share their priesthood. These young men are INCREDIBLE! They make me think of the men in my family, and the good they do. Especially Elder Beckstead right now, there is good to be done with this sacred power of heaven. I cannot express what it means to me to have righteous men in my life, there is no replacement for it. I think of my uncles, my grandfathers, my brother and brother in law, my cousins and of course my father, and I am left to marvel at the blessing their priesthood has been to me. What a precious blessing we have to have each other. So thank you, every last one of you! Thank you thank you.

I must head to pack now, but know that I love you and I am so excited to email you from Montana! Oh my goodness, I am going to be a real missionary!

Sister Taralyn Smith

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


News alert!
My mother just called me (Taci, Taralyn's sister) and told me she got an email from Tara letter her know that she has been reassigned to Billings, Montana. She will leave on Tuesday morning and will stay there until she receives her visa to go to Brazil.

Mais Um! (one more)

Dear Family,

It has been another week, I can't believe that I am almost done with the MTC. It seems like I have been here FOREVER, but at the same time, I keep thinking... wait a minute, already?! I am a little stir crazy having been here for a space of many days, but I don't know how it will go when I teach actual investigators. It is going to be alright, I already love them! No matter where I go, I love the people that I am going to meet. We have such a great message to share with people, and the best part about it is that Heavenly Father loves us. Who doesn't need to hear that? It certainly makes me feel better about myself. The inevitable topic has surfaced... my visa. Not yet. I will get reassigned in two days. On a scale from 1 to 10, how hard do you think it is for our district to focus? Haha, we are always counting down the days and making crazy guesses. I am going to go to the Hawaii visitors center I just know it.

Sister Doyle, on of our companions got her reassignment last wednesday and she left friday for Temple Square. eeeek! I will probably leave next monday or tuesday. Anyways, nobody gets temporarily reassigned to temple square, this call was certainly inspired. Brooke and Taylor, you simply must look for her. She is 5'1 and has glasses. She has a hug for Brooke to give to Mom. Sister Doyle was put in an MTC district with all goofy elders and she didn't like to dress the part of a missionary, Sister Ricks and I think that she was sent there to learn how to be ladylike again. I hope it goes well for her. The elders from last week got reassigned to Detriot, Baltimore, Pittsburg, and Riverside CA. There were some good ones! The few weeks before that, everybody was sent to St. George or Pocatello. Wherever I go, it will be where the Lord wants me to go, so I am not too worried. Just excited! It is kind of like another mission call.

This week has been a busy week, but if I reported anything to the contrary than I wouldn't feel like a good missionary. Our teachers are going to be sad to see us go! We spend a lot of time in that little classroom, but we have learned so much. The other day, Elder Head said that he feels like he has just been at an eternal EFY session, somedays I would just have to agree. It is amazing to me to see the spiritual and language growth of the missionaries around me, and I hope that I have grown too. I know we all have, and it is inspiring to think that we have just scratched the surface of what we will learn in 18 or 24 months. I can't wait to see who we all are when we get home. I am going to miss my district very much, most of them are going to the same mission as Sister Ricks and Sister Rust( the new sister with hair pretties) [Brasilia, Brazil]. But, I have made all of the elders promise to go to BYU and look me up for a home cooked meal. Whenever a district of elders leave, I make them promise me two things: 1) keep up on language study while reassigned in the US and 2) come find me in Provo, UT in two years. These young men are just incredible! It is such a priviledge to be surrounded by stalwart servants of the Lord who make me want to be better, just by being themselves. I love them. Missionaries, while sometimes silly 19 year old boys, really are choice young men. I will miss this part of the MTC most of all!

Last Wednesday and this next wednesday, I get to be a new missionary host. That means that I get to help the missionaries who have just been torn from their families get situated, get thier name tag, and find their classroom. Good thing Elders that are host missionaries are the ones who get the luggage from the car and witness the tearful scenes. I would cry harder than most mothers. Just the other day, I saw from afar a mom hugging her daughter goodbye and I was briefly tearful. It is actually a great fun diversion to be a host, I met someone who has recieved their mission call SINCE I have been here and they are already here too! At the end of the assignment, I just think to myself, boy am I glad that my first day is over. That certainly was a hard day. But they do keep to busy from the minute you get here, and there are so many new friendly people to meet.

The other day I got hiccups while teaching a lesson. In the middle of giving a prayer. Just after learning that you should make 500,000 mistakes in a language to become fluent. Do you think embarrassing hiccups while trying to speak Portuguese counts as a couple hundred mistakes? I hope so.

The last devotional we had was the first one where a general authority came to speak, Elder Evans of the 1st quorum of seventy came and his talk was great. He said that he was talking to some members of the twelve and one of the things they most want new investigators to know is the first statement in the Preach my gospel lesson #1. God is our Heavenly Father. It is amazing that the more basic doctrine is that you are talking about, the more easily the spirit can testify because it is so true! I loved that talk. Then I taught our district meeting and the lesson topic was the same principle. I truly believe that we can learn more about our Father in Heaven by looking at our potential. It is times like this where I am reminded of what I need to be learning that I am so thankful that I am not studying alone. I know the Lord guides missionary study because our work is so important. It is humbling to be part of something so important to our Father in Heaven.

I am excited to let everyone know where I am going! I love you all very very much and I am so thankful for your support

Lots of Love,
Sister Smith

ps - Auntie Kristin asked me a question "What experience this week strengthened your Faith in Jesus Christ?"

Well, I had a very touching experience while in the TRC, a practice teaching session with a volunteer that comes. They just changed the protocol of the TRC, and instead of role playing, we teach the volunteer as themself. Even returned missionaries. Sister Ricks and I taught Brother Webb, who served his mission in Brazil when it was one mission. He is a very sweet older gentleman. We asked him about his family and he told us that he and his wife had one son, who passed away at the age of 9. We taught him about prayer, and asked him to share an experience in his life where prayer was helpful. He talked about how when his son died, they prayed that life would continue to be okay. Through his faith in Jesus Christ, he was given confirmation that he would see his son again and they could live together forever. My faith in the Savior was strengthened too, because I can see how when we are given trials we are given opportuity to grow. The thought crossed my mind a few weeks ago that whenever I have a hardship I should really just think to myself "Heavenly Father really loves me! He has just given me an opportunity to get to know Him and His Son better! Really, He just wants to be closer to me." I know that when we strive to be closer to the Savior during the hard times, our faith WILL grow. I know that when we have faith in Jesus Christ, he can help us through anything.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Dear Family,

on the last p day I had, everything was crazy and nothing seemed to go right. So i apologize if my email seemed a little blue. I am a complainer in my email at times, because I try not to complain to my companions too much. The complaint just isn't worth the contention. Learning patience is harder than learning portuguese. Speaking of speaking Portuguese, I spoke in church yesterday. I was called out to speak during the announcements. ONe of the MTC presidency was there and he wondered what I had done to sound so fluent. I have no idea who he was listening to, but I am amazed at the progress that can only come through learning with the spirit. My companions always tell people that I took 16 credits when someone says that I speak well, but I know that is not where the credit should go. I am so very blessed! don't worry, I am not fluent, and yes I make a million mistakes everday, it is still hard:) but I am blessed.

We have a new roommate/companion. She is going to Brasilia with sister ricks, but she is in another zone at the mtc. She is a solo sister, so she lives with us. When she was unpacking, she pulled out a tackle box with organized "hair pretties". Oh my. And she loves purple. And she is from Alaska. It is comical to see how different she is from Sister doyle and sister ricks, but this new Sister Rust does a great job. she is very sweet and things are going well.

Grandma- Thank you for the package and I loved the letter from Grandpa last week! I could read everyword:)

I have to tell you about a very sweet experience I had this last week. Well a few weeks ago was when this started. I had a spiritual thought for my district and I read Enos 1:27, AND I told a story about a boy I met at EFY who had lukemia. I will never forget Seth's testimony about eternal life. He had such an impact on me and I will never forget when he looked at all of us 15 year olds in a room at byu and told us " I know exactly where I am going" it was beautiful. So I told my district about this experience and how we can hope to have eternal life too. Well this last week some missionary came up to me when I was walking back to my residence and said he recognized me from EFY. He has been a missionary at the MTC for two years in the referral center. He came to talk to me on his last night of his mission, because he felt impressed to say hello. It isn't everyday that you get to meet someone who changed your life twice. I have a testimony of how the Lord prompts us to talk to other people. He saved me that day, and it gives me hope that one day I can do the same for someone else to a lesser degree. Elder Stevens is now home with his family in colorado. what a sweet reunion that must have been!

Last week, an elder taught me in a workshop. He was from central America and was learning English. His language wasn't perfect, but the sentiment was touching. I loved him for trying and I know that the Spirit knows all languages. I hope people in Brazil will be the same way. MY languages is far from perfect, but I know that love can translate. I have come to realization while in the MTC, my practice here is less about teaching doctrine and more about learning to communicate soul to soul. Tell missionaries you meet the same thing. Teach people, not lessons. I have also learned about being patient with myself, I have learned that excellence can only enter when self acceptance abides within.

So, one last thing, no visa yet. A week from this wednesday, I will get my reassignment. Crazy, I get another mission call! Some elders just got reassigned to the Pocatello Mission. So Taci and Jake if you meet any missionaries, ask them if they are visa waiters.

The MTC is still here, and so am I!
I love you all!
Sister Smith

Monday, August 1, 2011

we've gotta hold on to what we've got

Dear Family,

Oh we're half way there! oh-oh livin' on a prayer. Who knew Bon Jovi could explain my life as a missionary so well. Yesterday was my 4 1/2 week mark in the mtc, I am half way done! It literally feels like I have been here a year. Yet, the time has moved lightening fast. I don't know how to explain it. I sure hope the mission field gets better, I know it will be better and worse, but can your situation really deteriorate or improve, or just your attitude? I will just keep living on prayer. Visa? Nope, but i am not worried. I will be pretty excited to go grocery shopping where ever I happen to get off a plane and serve people. I really really miss cooking for myself. Silly? yes but I miss having a kitchen and a fridge to put yogurt that I like into.

The highlight of my week was that I got to go to the temple today! P-day! The temple has been closed for cleaning and then pioneer day, so I haven't been since before I came into the MTC with Taylor. I was so thankful for the peace and quiet. I haven't yet been so happy for that time to myself. Before when people would talk about the peace in the temple, I was like... yeah okay, this is a nice feeling. But now, I realize what it means to get away from all of the hard things and just pour out your heart. I admit I was pondering how jealous I am that I don't have a temple in my mission but I am thankful to find this out now, with so much time left in life to have the temple be vital to my happiness. I am learning all kinds of things that will be important to me forever, at any rate, the things I am learning right now as a missionary will be things I implement in my eternal family one day. I can see how much better of a mother I will one day be because of this refiners fire right now.

You would think that the MTC would be a great place for peace and quiet but, elders will be elders and do things like sing Bon Jovi songs. I love being around them, they are my source of entertainment when portuguese verb tenses start to get fuzzy. They break the tension when the going gets rough. it is an honor to be here with young men who are learning how to use thier priesthood. I wish I could send a video to their moms, they would be so proud. I love learning and growing alongside my companions and my district, I can see how great these young men and women will be in the field. Brazil is so blessed! I really think that the cream of the crop in this MTC right now are here waiting for Brazilian visas.

We had a birthday this week in our district, Sister Ricks turned 22. Her mother mailed us out of this world cupcakes and party hats and what not. Guess how much of our district study was devoted to doctrine of the Kingdom? It was fun, and worth it because a birthday away from home can be hard. And anything to make a happy memory is worth the effort indeed. Mom and Taci sent her gifts, thank you for making me look good:) Thank you for making a missionary's birthday a little more sweet. My family is wonderful.

On Saturday, Sister Doyle was sick in bed with aches all over. The poor dear. I had given her some nyquil the night before, and she slept in for a few hours.. Her companions got to watch her drug induced sleep while trying to be effective in a cinderblock prision. Sunday, going outside again was a gift! i am happy to report that Sister Doyle is chipper and happy again today, all is well.

The MTC days are long, but I am still not able to envision leaving. I've still got a while. Never fear, I always take comfort in knowing that I am here doing good things. For now, I am blooming where I have been planted for a season.

I hope things at home smell like roses. I wish I was there to see Dad's first green august lawn. i still want a picture of how my petunias are doing.

Lots of love!

Sister Smith

Monday, July 25, 2011

No toil nor labor fear

Dear Mom and Dad and everyone else:

Happy pioneer day! I have recieved many thoughts about our ancestors both in the MTC and in emails today. I miss this holiday more than I missed the 4th! I keep telling elders in my district how cool the parade is, but really this is a great holiday I can't wait to tell people about in Brazil. NO more visa work. Patience.

As a recap of my week:
I sure am spoiled! In the last two weeks I have recieved packages from Grandma, Aunite Kristin, Mom and Taci. I am spoiled and my district loves you all! thank you thank you! On the days that I just can't take another minute of Portuguese, I remember how many people are on my team back at home, and I remember the prayers and support and it all becoms alright again. I can feel how I am sustained. I am so blessed! I can't tell you how much it means to me that I get to be a missionary right now. There were many things to stop me from going, but I am glad I had help to pull through. I need to be here right now, I feel that everyday. I love all the things I get to do, even when I complain and say I don't like it. I really love it.

Let me tell you about the goings on during my past seven days:
Our Zone leaders left for Cape Verde. They are going to do so well! what a bittersweet time, the elders that were experienced when I came to the MTC are now greenies! What? Our branch of 50 sang them off singing in Portuguese. We had a day teaching in the TRC, a volunteer thing where people pretend to be investigators. We BOMBED. It was awful. At least in the field, my inexperience will be compensated by another missionary. Humbled humbled humbled. Oh my. I don't make enough eye contact. I speak too much. I don't expound enough... how does that work? IT was a hard crummy day. But eventually I will be glad that happened in the MTC not in Brazil. Still I didn't enjoy being called out with my companion by our teacher so harshly. Sometimes, I just wonder, I am trying to teach people about CHURCH, how can I do a bad job?

ON Sunday I sang a solo in sacrament meeting, they were desperate for a musical number. We all lived, barely. Singning How Great Thou Art as a soprano at 8am? I lived, and that is accomplishment enough. Anything else new? We are trying to speak Portuguese exclusively. Tough! But when I get to my mission I won't have a choice about it so I better practice now. I am not worried, practice never hurt anybody. Unless you consider sports injury, I hope I am safe. The other day we had the fire alarm go off right before bed, some sweet sister with thick hair was straightening it and there was smoke. There you have it, 4 floors of missionaries evacuated in jammies. Enough newsy bits.

As I continue to be busy, I continue to become more aware of my weakenesses. I can't focus on reading for hours sometimes like i am expected to, I can't study, go to class, speak only Portuguese and not be tired. The day I realized that I by myself am not enough as a missionary was a tough day indeed. What does one do at a time like this? I realized that my Savior makes up the difference. I realized that all I have to do is try. That is what I tell investigators to do - turn your flaws to the Lord and just try everyday. There is so much hope when we fully understand, or just increasingly understand that Merciful Father in Heaven will bless our efforts. I am so glad that I am imperfect, because I really do need divine help and my imperfections soften my heart towards other children of God. I always said that going on a mission would make me tougher. But really, if I do this thing right, I get a softer heart. I have a testimony of this. We need our Savior. I get to spread this hope of my newfound capability to other people.
What a job!

Lots of Love,
Sister Smith

Monday, July 18, 2011

week 3

Hi Howdy Hello!
Life at the MTC must carry on, business as usual. I have been here almost three weeks, wild!
My companion and I remain blissfully unaware of when the final installment of our visa will come through, and thusly I don't even think about repacking. We will most likely be here the whole 9 weeks, considering others who are here still.
In the past week, I have continued to make mistakes in Portuguese and laughed all the way through. I didn't tell a man that his dead wife had it coming to her like another elder did, so I must be improving.
The weather has been warm, but I have actually never known the temperature. So really, how tough have I been while running around outside in the afternoon? Is Teresina going to be small potatoes compared to a July in Utah? Where is Brooke to give me weather updates? I keep thinking how glad I am that I'm not here during the winter, we study outside all of the time, the headcount in the MTC is currently 2600!
I still haven't met another soul preparing to go to Teresina, at this rate, I will be the only blonde on at my zone conferences. I got the inevitable this week: a cold. This is the kind of place were a sneeze is like a dandilion gone to seed. Poof! Sister Ricks and I had our elders give us blessings, for some it was the first healing of the sick they have ever done. It was a great experience and very touching. Thank heavens for the Priesthood, I can tell what a difference it makes.
I got a package from Grandma B, thank you!!! My district loved the cookies, everyone was so excited for PUMPKIN:) Every Sunday after the fireside, our branch watches a movie from media library and we share our snacks from packages. My grandmother is a popular woman. yesterday we watched the 2010 christmas devotional. The holidays are going to kick my trash! But I have to say, hearing the voice of the Prophet makes me feel at home no matter where I am. I love President Monson. I read that my accepting my mission call is a way of sustaining him, that made me feel good, I love sustaining such a great man.
I missed a family party! Sister Ricks has a birthday next week, but how do you surprise a companion who is always with you? I love her and am thankful for her everday. her knowledge of the scriptures is great.
I love telling people about my family, from the large cookoffs to the aluminum christmas tree to costco stories, it is so much fun to explain where I get my "fun" personality.
We, meaning me (I am with someone all the time so often I am a we) just love the opportunites to learn and grow. Practicing teaching the Plan of Salvation in Portuguese in humbling, but thankfully the Spirit knows no language barrier. I jsut have to put all the love I can muster in my smile and tell people how much they are loved and adored by their Maker. What a job!

I love you family!
Have a great week,
Sister Smith

ps. - what did missionaries do for exercise time in the field? I need some ideas, and I am thinking about asking mother for a jump rope for that cardio excersise I am encouraged to do. Ask around for advice, Thanks!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Portuguese Progress

Dear Family,
Thank you for all of the dear elders, letters, and package(momma) There is nothing like a word hug from home, and we can read dear elders and letters everyday! And I like to get more than the elders in my district.
I am in the swing of things, struggling along in Portuguese, It is tough because my companion and I are on different levels and we struggle to work together sometimes. I naturally speak faster so our investigators speak faster and she gets lost, embarrassed and I feel bad. My goal this week is to slow down, focus on helping her rather than trying to progress myself. I am so thankful that they give us a forced 8 hours of rest, even when I can't sleep. Nobody is allowed to bother me!! My companion and roommates are very kind, but my patience needs an 8 hour break too:) Earplugs, pillow over my head and mandatory quiet time? The Lord does love me immensly, and this is one of those tender mercies that I am very aware and thankful for.
My branch has 50 elders, 3 sisters. Great odds for a singles ward activity eh? It is also nice here, we rarely open doors and always get the fun wheely chairs in the classroom.
Almost everyday, we have 6 hours of class, and about 80 percent of it is taught in Portuguese. I understand most of it, and now I am learning how to teach it. We have already taught about the restoration and the plan of salvation. You try to conjugate translate into past tense. There was a new batch of missionaries this week, I am no longer the newbie! Watching them get dropped off was killer hard though. The sisters that came in with me who are going english speaking have less than a week left here. Time flies!
Being around elders all fo the time is a blast from the past. They talk about high school sports, 17 year old girl friends and explosions. They reverence my star wars quoting and college football knowledge, but I still scare them. I always cry when we watch video clips about families being baptized. It is just so beautiful! The temple is awesome! I cry everyday because of something touching, I am giving sisters a bad name:)
Gym time is precious, don't take wearing pants for granted! The gym floor is being refinished this week, so we have been outside on the field. Mid day, right after lunch. this is worse than middle school gym with Mr. Reno. I have a healthy companion who likes to run uphill. We got stuck in one of those freakish 5 minute rainstorms the other day. We were running to get back inside and water got up my nose and I chocked. What am I a chicken?
Here is a nice anecdote for you:
I was contacting in portuguese and asked someone if they wanted a massage about Jesus Christ, rather than a message. I can not live that down in my branch. Then I proceeded to ask a 17 year old if he had a wife and children. I thought he said 27. Save that lesson about eternal families for later.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a missionary. I have been extended and humbled. I have begun a countdown and fallen to my knees to thank my Heavenly Father that I can be here. Uncle Ryan was right: 2500 missionaries singing called to serve is electrifying!

I still haven't worn the same outfit twice... I think I brought too many clothes.
Taci: my compainion respects my scarves- everyone does
Brooke: thanks for your dear elders they are the light of my life
Mom: You dear elders keep me going!

I love you all! Thanks for all the love and support. I pray for my family every day, and remember missionary prayers are extra special:)

love love and more love,
Sister Smith

Monday, July 4, 2011

My first P Day

Dear Family,
I don't have taci or taylor's mailing addresses, just so you know.....
but I sent you both letters care of cleo and mother so look forward to that. The MTC is marvelous. Hard the first day, i am sure my first letter scared you a little bit. but I am doing just fine. My portuguese is coming along great, what a blessing that has been. I bore my testimony in portuguese in my branch yesterday. Many of the elders who have been here four weeks say that my pronunciation is better than theirs. I hope I can stay on top of it.
Thanks for the dear elders, my pday is monday so that is when you should email me... well do it sunday. My first day i got 5 dear elders from all of you and 2 packages. Nann sent me a PRIMO package. I shouldn't be surprised. She is a loving lady. but it was super nice with tons of treats and patriotic what not. I loved it. We did watch the fireworks from the stadium of fire. There was a program beforehand, and 2500 missionaries sand yankee doodle. Kind of surreal. but it was fun. They had a program where everyone cheered for thier mission, I totally cried because I am part of God's task force right now. Incredible.
I love it here. The spirit tells me everyday that I need to be here.
The visa sitch is still up in the air. They say that the online visa is the key, and even if you have that you won't elave provo for 4-6 more weeks. so I am here for a while. nope, haven
t done it yet.
Okay, I must sign off, Love you all! DEAR ELDER. thats all i am saying.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tara is Officially a Missionary

Tara left to go to the Missionary Training Center today at 1:30pm.  She will be there for about 9 weeks!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Eternal Enchilada

I am just thankful for my family. Every single last one of them. From the small ones to the old ones. I sound like a Dr. Seuss book. I sure love you guys, and I am really thankful that I get to think about saying hellos to you forever, instead of just a small goodbye for now.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dear Trevor

May 14, 2011
Dear Elder Beckstead,
it was great to be able to say hello to you last week. Everyone was so funny, so excited to talk to you. Your mother never left the side of the phone and Sam was bored after three seconds. No really, it is amazing to see how much love a family can have for one another and the support it provides to know we are eternally together. I am so excited to teach people about eternal families, it is one of the choicest blessings we have, and perhaps the most comforting when life goes beyond our control. Sometimes, like today, I am filled with so much fear and doubt because I am going to far away from anything I have ever known. I won't know a soul, I won't know the language, and I won't know what hit me when I breathe in the hot humid air. I am so scared, and full of trepidation because my life is about to turn upside down. And then I remember why I am going, not to be comfortable, not to better myself, but because I want to tell people about the blessings that I have because of Jesus Christ. My fear is a testament to the joy that I have in my life now, I really enjoy this earthy life that I have going for me! But when I take a step back, the real joy that I have is my family, is the gospel that I get to live, and is the simplicity that comes when I do what I am supposed to.
Tell me this: yes I know that my life is about to really change, and it is going to be hard, super hard. But does it get simpler as a missionary? When you have specific rules, and specific time lines, do some of the stresses go away? Sometimes I get so frustrated because I don't know what is coming next, or I feel so alone. The endless complications of getting ready to go on a mission have been incredibly stressful, and I am hoping (keep those fingers crossed) that some of the stress can go away to I can have time to listen to the spirit. So, is there quiet time to do that? That is really my question.
This last week I got a phone call and an email from my stake president, they have pushed my MTC date back a week. I now leave on June 27th, rather than June 21st. What is an extra week? At this point, I appreciate the extra time to hug my mother goodbye, but at this point I really just want to jump in, feet first. My life right now can be compared to jumping off of a high diving board. It took all of this effort to climb the stairs and now I am on the platform, looking down. I am scared but excited for the unique feeling of taking that huge leap. I am waiting at the top, looking down. I want to jump and part of me wants to get back on the ground where I know what to expect. I am going to jump, I really am, but I wish someone would just push me tomorrow!
Patience, mixed with anxiety, mixed with fear? what does that equal? A whole lotta of extra faith.
Pray for me. I'll do the same for you.
Have a great week,
Love you tons!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

I've registered! to be a missionary?
I have had many people ask me what I need to get ready to go to Brazil, so here are some ideas.
go to this link, and the registry ID is Taralyn's Registry.

or... here are some things remaining on my packing list

peds (low-cut, no show sock liners)

light weight pajamas


4 flat twin-size sheets, 2 pillow cases

2 bath towels (Microfiber)

small first aid kit

gold bond medicated powder (for heat rash... I'm excited!)

35% deet bug repellent

small sewing kit

shoe shine kit

wind up or battery alarm clock

laundry bag

international plug adapters


moleskin for blisters

photo album - give me pictures to remember everyone!!!

four generation pedigree chart

note taking materials - Highlighters, pens, pencils, etc.

personal toiletries to last duration of mtc stay

clothes hangers

phew! I need to go shopping!

Monday, March 28, 2011

cutting onions makes my eyes sting for hours, but I love them anyways.
watching say yes to the dress makes me cry.
I consistently dominate bridal shower games, that should be an olympic event.
if I go more than few weeks without crafting, I just don't function at a high level.
I read cookbooks for fun.
freeway construction makes me uncomfortable.
I will never go to Ikea on a Saturday again.
my idea of a perfect day is having my hair clean and my bed made.
blogging is an excellent display of narcissism.

Monday, March 14, 2011

100 days!

Let the count down continue, I have 100 days until I land in Brazil. I am so excited, and ready to get going!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

soup and such

I made soup this week, I was so sad because it was my most vivid culinary failure in several months, minus some ill fated cupcakes over the holidays. That will teach me to use generic brand baking mixes. The soup recipe was from the Food Network Magazine, Mushroom Hummus soup, I feel so ill advised. I just love hummus, and mushrooms, who knew?
Today Brooke and I read my Portuguese text book, shoot. I have lots to learn and remember. My mother, bless her fuzzy little heart, has been putting up with me very bravely, she can't wait for June either! I am continually amazed that preparations still ahead for me to go, but I have never met a shopping trip that I didn't like:)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Called to Serve

I have been called to serve in the Brazil Teresina Mission. I report to the Brazilian MTC on June 22, 2011.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nope, not yet.

Me and my big mouth. No mission call this week. I can finally say that I am at peace about the whole thing, and when the day does come that I open that mission call, I will be ready and excited. In the mean time, I really need to be distracted... anyone want to take on the task??

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Worth it, but still waiting.

Waiting for my mission call has seemed like a mission all on its own. About a year before I was old enough to go on a mission, I began to plan when I would take time off from my college schedule, when my date of availability would be, and what was the earliest day I could turn in my mission papers. Waiting for the process to begin took long enough.
As I began the process, my medical exams showed irregularities that led to two extra months of examinations, at least 6 doctors, and several tests and procedures. It all began with a heart murmur, which is nothing incredibly irregular. After an echo cardiogram (which is basically a heart ultrasound), more red flags arose and I was referred to a pulmonologist for more answers. Two more cardiologists later, I found myself scheduled for more appointments, to discover if I had pulmonary hypertension or not. The last procedure required me to be admitted to the hospital. As I was sitting in cardiac intensive care, the very week that I had first anticipated receiving a mission call, I wondered if I really wanted to go through more hassle. The final word was that I had a clean bill of health, with a mild, run of the mill heart murmur. Thankful not to have a life changing physical condition, I was and still am glad for the opportunity to find out that I am alright before things became critical.
After medical examinations, I was given a clean bill of health a week later and I was able to continue on with my missionary application. More questions, more confusion, and working with my Stake leaders over the week of Christmas, the delays seemed to pile on and on. And on. And on.
Today is now Wednesday, the day that my call letter was supposed to come. It isn't here. I began my mission papers almost five months ago, and I have been on what I can only call a roller coaster. I have been more frustrated and more sad than I have ever been about any other decision in my life.
Here is the good part. After the delays, after the tears (and there may be more), I know now what I didn't know at the beginning. I know that my life is truly in the Lord's hands. As my mother keeps reminding me, this is just preparation for a mission call that will be exactly what I need, and exactly where the Lord needs me. I know that I am a beloved daughter of God, and that even though I am not his most patient child, I am still blessed beyond measure. I am so excited to go share my testimony with some of my brothers and sisters, and no matter where I go, this journey so far has been worth it.