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