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Friday, December 30, 2011

Flight Plans!

WE FINALLY GOT OUR FLIGHT PLANS!! We got them yesterday in our mailbox. I am beyond excited! I'll try to tell you a little bit about them right now, and I'll be back on later around 4. So, we get to leave the MTC on Monday, January 9th at 1:30pm! Our flight out of Salt Lake is at 4:50 pm and will connect to the San Francisco Airport around 6 california time. We then have a 6 HOUR layover in California until we catch out flight to Hong Kong at 12:05 am. Once we get to Hong Kong, we will be meeting up with all the other Philippines bound missionaries from here (They split us into 3 groups) and we'll have a 3 hour layover before be catch our flight to Manilla. From there we will travel by ground to the Angeles mission home. 
 I know that I know over 200 vocab words... but I'm not really sure on the real numberI think that I've felt the biggest change in my perspective. I'm trying to follow Elder Bednar's council and turn outwards more like Christ.

Ingot, Mahal kita!

-Elder Garett Smith

Friday, December 23, 2011

Almost Christmas

Hey Mom!

I didn't forget about e-mail today! I got on this morning, pretty early and there wasn't an email from you yet so I decided I would wait until later. Sorry for making you wait.  When I write letter's to Kelsey, we have a designated "Urgent Q's & A's" section where we list all the things we want to be sure the other person responds to! Maybe you could try something like that. I've also heard that there have been a lack of post to my Mission blog lately... maybe you could look into that for me? =) Anyways, all is well here. Another week down, and only a few more to go! I get more and more excited the closer it gets. I have more excitement for departure than I do for Christmas! You asked about travel plans... we haven't gotten any word on that yet. It seems like most of the previous districts got theirs the week before the left. Don't worry, I'll let you know when I know. I spent most of the morning writing letters back to everyone that has sent me things this week. I received some letters from Sarah, Karlee, The Packers, and Jamie, along with a care package from Grandma, Tara/The Jackson family, and you. I was surprised to see a package in the mail from "Tara Jackson." Inside was a stocking stuffed with candy, as well as there family Christmas card. I'm not sure if the stocking came from Tara or her whole family so I send Thanks to all of them. I wrote a quick note to Dad, Hunter, and Jamie that should be coming soon. I figured you could have the e-mail, but I'll probably write you another letter this week telling you about Christmas and what not. We will be having a GA on Sunday, they just haven't told us who yet. They like to keep everything under wraps here. I'm looking forward to having a few days that aren't the usual routine. They have things planned for Christmas Eve as well. I feel like I type and type but don't get much down on the page. I'm sorry for that!!.

What else did you write about...

Oh, we did recieve 20 new elders into our Branch this week. We haven't seen them much yet though because they haven't finished their first 3 days, and they all live on the 4th floor of our residence halls. We all live on the bottom floor (thankfully). One of the new Elders is actually my old district leader's brother (my district leader was adopted into their family). I think that's pretty cool that they'll both be going to the Philippines!

One more cool thing I want to share before I go is an experience from last night. Last night we had TRC which is where we teach volunteer members that know Tagalog. They are usually just BYU students. That's what we expected going in, but to our surprise we had a Filipino Mother and her two daughters. They live here in Oram. Anyways, it was a really cool lesson! She asked us where we were serving and we told her Angeles. She got really excited and told us that they had family there that weren't members. She asked us to try and find them, and teach them if we could. We told her we would try our best to help her! Anyways, we went on with out lesson and gave an overview of the Restoration (Ang Pananumbalik) and then shared a quick Christmas message with them. We had to translate our lesson into English for the daughters which was fine by us!! It was a neat experience and they Spirit was really strong as we talked about Christ being the "Pure love of God" as talked about in 1 Nephi 11:16-23. When Nephi is shown the baby Jesus in Mary's arms, he can FEEL that pure love, and instantly knows the meaning of the Tree of live. The Angel didn't have to tell him. What a cool insight!!
I'm glad to hear that everything is going well at home. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. I'll be thinking about you a lot on Christmas eve and day! One of the things I'll miss is staying up late and playing Wii with my brothers. Staying up playing Mario is a tradition almost as old as building the fort itself! If I really wanted to, I could make the bottom bunk a fort for myself since my companion sleeps on the other bunk. We still don't have roommates. Our old Zone Leader left a few weeks ago with Elder Fisher and Elder Hubble, and they called another one after, Elder Shaw and Elder Frishnick. Elder Shaw actually came out on a mission earlier and went to the Philippines but had to return home because of some issues. He's back now, and also pretty fluent in Tagalog, so that helps our branch. He's in one of the other branches that came in at the same time as me. There's three of our districts that came in together.

I love you all, and can't wait to hear more from you soon! I'll try to quickly check my email later tonight!

Mahal kita!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Party

Hello again! 

Thanks for the picture of the Christmas tree. I was going to ask you for one anyways, so you read my mind! Grandma mentioned your "Ugly Sweater" contest in her last letter to me. She confided in me that she wasn't really sure what an "Ugly Sweater" contest was, but that her and Grandpa went to the D.I and found some sweaters to decorate. You should definetly take some pictures of everyone and send them to me! It should be pretty funny. What else are you doing for the family party? Let me know in your next DearElder. Also, Grandma asked me a question in her last letter about how we teach our lessons to the "investegators." She was assuming that we taught in English. NOT at all. I don't think we've been allowed to teach a single lesson in English so far! Last night, we had TRC which is where BYU students come and we teach them as the members they really are. We were lucky enough to get a student that was actually Filipino, which was really cool. He spoke very fast and it was hard to understand him at times but still a good experience. After the lesson, he also told us more about the country and gave us a few pointers. That's all I can think of for now! I hope everyone has a great time at the party, and I look forward to hearing from everyone SOON! =)
If anyone asks what to send me for Christmas just tell them that I want cards and letters. That's all I need. You're right about all the food. First of all, they feed us plenty here... secondly, all of us have more sweets than we know what to do with. We try to share with eachother but none of us are ever hungry! Please let Grandma know that I did recieve her package she sent a few days ago. She was wondering how it worked.

In other news, earlier this week I left my hoodie in the gym. I went back later to get it from the Lost and Found but it wasn't there. Someone must have taken it. Hopefully they needed it more than me! Anyways, I am now without a jacket to wear and it's getting a little chilly here! So, if you get around to it, could you send me one of my hoodies or jackets? You could send it through MTCdelivery if you hurry. The mailroom will stop accepting mail from third parties on Dec. 23rd!

I better be going for now, but I hope everyone is doing well. Like usual, I'll be back on later this afternoon around 4 so be expecting that. Feel free to send me any questions or anything for me to answer at that time! 
Mahal Kayo! (I love you all)

-Elder Garett Smith

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's December

Dear Nanay,

I got your christmas box yesterday which was perfect timing. The cinnimon pinecones have made our room smell 200x's better than it did before. You can even smell it down the hallway, but no one complains. My District has named my room "The Christmas Room." Last night everyone came into our room around 10 and we read the first Christmas mission story from that book you sent. We plan on doing that everynight until Christmas. Everyone loves the lights and mini tree as well--especially the train that goes around it! Thanks so much. It made me happy. The almonds you sent are amazing as well, so good job on picking those!

The language is definetly coming along a lot better than it was before. Things are making more sence now that we have some basics under our feet. You asked me about Elder Hubble in one of your letters. I didn't see him all the time since he wasn't in our branch, but we did talk on and off. Everyone loved having him around. He knows how to lighten the mood and has a good sense of humor. He left on Tuesday and left beind some stuff for me and the other Elders. I got a few packages of gum and poprocks, which was great. We did get new Elders on Wednesday for our zone, but none of them moved into our room. It's just me and my kasama for now. It's interesting seeing the new eleders adjust and realizing that I was them only 24 days ago! A lot has changed since then. They have a lot of questions, and it's fun to help them out.

Unfortunatley, no I won't be able to call on Christmas. At least, they haven't told us otherwise. It's good to know that I'll be able to call you soon after though. I like the idea of a disposable phone, so if it'll work, go ahead and do that! Whatever I don't answer in this e-mail, I will try to answer in a letter today. I've written back Hunter, Jamie, Dad, and Grandma so let them know that I'll send that out today. It's hard to reply to your email in a new body because I forget what was said.

I heard about those crazy winds yesterday from the guy we have to report to for service!! Sounds so crazy. I'm glad to hear it didn't affect anything at home. I'm going to get off now, but I will try to write more later. I have a few more minutes so I can log on this afternoon. I don't know if I'll have time to write Logan back in an email so could you get me his address?? Thank you.

I can't think of much that I need right now. I do need some new waterproof shoelaces though because mine have frayed for some reason. I've thought of other things but I can't remember! I'm going to try to send my memory card home with this next letter so be looking out for that. I'll try to write a litte more later today.

Hope you have a great day, and everything is A-ok!

Mahal Kita,

Elder Garett Smith

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pictures from the drop off day

Happy Thanksgiving

Kumusta Nanay!
Thanksgiving was a lot better than I thought it would be. The morning started off with a devotional by Elder Russell M. Nelson, which was great. Did you know that he remarried after his wife died? I didn't. I wonder how it would be to date as an Apostle... Also, I learned that Elder Nelson was President Kimball's doctor before he was called as an apostle. Interesting fact. Anyways, he and his wife talked to us about Gratitude and Thanksgiving and the spirit was so strong. We sat pretty close and it was great. Oh, and the day before, we had the chance to hear from Elder Christofferson as well. Two Apostles in two days. I guess being at the MTC is a blessing. We had our "Thanksgiving Feast" for lunch so that the workers could go home to their families for the evening. It wasn't the greatest food ever, but Thanksgiving has never really been about the food for me anyways. The Pumpkin Pie was great though! I had two slices. After our feast, we put together sack dinners to eat back at our Residence halls. We then had another fireside with the MTC President. After that, we participated in a service project where we put together humanitarian packages to be sent to Somalia. My job was to pass empty boxes along a "Human conveyor belt" towards the supply tables. It wasn't difficult and we finished pretty quickly. We then had dinner in our rooms, and we all thought about what our families were doing at the moment. I guessed that you all would probably be in a movie or eating Pie. Later on, we returned to the gym for a movie. We watched "17 Miracles" which was just as good as the last time I watched it. It was nice to have time to relax!

It's only been about three weeks but it feels like I've been here for an eternity. The language is still difficult, but I'm adjusting to it finally. I'll try to recorded myself saying some things in Tagalog for you. I don't know if I ever told you, but our "investigator" Niko turned out to be our second teacher for class. I didn't think he was a real investigator, but we were shocked to learn he was our teacher. It was a weird transition, but Brother Pearce is a pretty cool teacher now. 

Well, I better be going now. I'm basically out of time! I look forward to reading more letters from all of you... and more packages.=)

Miss ya, but I'm doing well.
Mahal ko Kayo!

Elder G. Smith

Monday, November 21, 2011

One week down

Time is a really weird thing here at the MTC. Day's start meshing together
and it's hard to remember what happened when. It's all a blur. I know it's
only been a little over a week since I got here but it feels like I've been
here forever. The language is progressivly, but slowly, getting better.
Yesterday we leaned abuout a thing called MAG verbs, which just added to
the confusion of everything, but it will hopefully all work out for the
We went to the Temple this morning which was great, although it was a
little weird going without you and Dad since you've been there bothe times
before. It was a neat experience with my district though, and the Temple
Cafateria food is to die for. It's nice to have something fresh and out of
the ordinary once and a while. We loaded up, so I'll be skiping lunch
today. My companion, Elder Johnson, is alright. He has a dry sense of humor
and isn't very outgoing, but I'll manage. He's from Kansas, and you can
tell.  But all in all, he's a good person, and smart with
the language. He really helps when we are teaching our Investegator Niko in
Tagalog. It's basically all a simulation, but it's great practice. Our last
lesson, we invited Niko to be baptized. He was reluctant because of his
Smoking habits but we promied he could do it with our help and with God. He
accepted the commitment and I was suprised by how excited I was for him!
It's a reallty great learning experience. =)
Mahal ko Kayo! (I love You)
Elder Garett Smith

First Letter

I feel like the last few days have been an information overload, especially with all the time we have spent studying Tagalog. They have a new program that has only been in effect since June. Yesterday, on only our second full day, we had to teach an "Investegator" in Tagalog. It was a very real situation and my companion and I were pretty stressed about it. All we have learned so far is how to bear a simple testimony and give a simple prayer. So... that's pretty much all we did. We tried to discuss his family and talk about The Fall, but we had to idea how to respond to what he said to us. It's so frustrating becase I want to know what he is saying and I want to communicate so badly. For once, I have to actually think about what I am saying. Most of the time I get it wrong, but I am learning. We have another appointment with Niko (our investegator) this afternoon. It's probably going to be just as rough as the first time, but I guess it's a good experience. It gives me more motivation to learn the language. I think that's what they're aiming for. Well, it's working!! My companion is smart and learns the language fast so he helps me out a lot. The other Elders we share a room with have been here for about 7 weeks so they are able to help and give us advice as well. Our teacher doesn't speak to us in English at all. It's been Tagalog from day one. It's kinda like a guessing game trying to understand what he is trying to teach us. Although I still don't know very much, I am suprised by how much I have already learned. A lot more than I thought I would! Anyways, things are going well here at the MTC.