Elder Colby Ross Smith

Elder Colby Ross Smith

Mauri Kain Amerika!

Still getting used to this whole typing letters thing each week. I keep a lot of records, books and journals, but writing letter-form reports is difficult for some reason. I will start to share more about the work here and my mission experiences from island to island. Things are going really well here in Tarawa. I still miss the “outies” (outer islands) more than anything, but that’s not unique to me. Almost every missionary prefers the outies. I hope I will be able to go back out after working on Tarawa.

I miss living with the people in a basic stick house, sleeping in my net, and the well water showers of the morning. I miss washing clothes in the ocean, biking down long roads, leading church and giving a talk or two every week. I even miss the plain food. 

The food change is bitter sweet, though, because here in Tarawa, where the church is big, I feel like I enter into a 5-star restaurant nightly! There’s just so much and it’s so different from just fish, rice and coconut!  We pass our dinner schedule at the beginning of the month and it’s full within 10 minutes. Great meals every day. People fight over the days and love having us over so much, hahaha. The only downside is that dinner with members takes time away from dinners with investigators, which is mostly what we did on Nonouti and Kuria, and it really helped us to become closer with them!

Things are great though! I love Kiribati no matter where I am and no matter what duties I have. Fulfilling Zone Leader duties prevents us from getting 60+ lessons per week, like in Kuria, or 40+, like in Kiritimati or Nonouti. But we are still managing 30+ lessons per week. I’m pretty happy with it since there’s always something necessary to do for other Elders or Sisters.

This week will be a little hectic since we have 12 missionaries coming in from the MTC. They’ll arrive Thursday and the half who are going out to outer islands or Kiritimati will be staying and teaching with us until their flights are ready to take them out to their trainers. It’s quite a process to plan for this! The APS did practically everything this time, though. I’m not complaining because that meant more time for lessons!! I love lessons, more than anything. They’re my joy and happiness. It means Kiribati people and the truths of the restored gospel taught by the Spirit. How could things be any better?!

Sooo, a little update about our investigators…
Things are going really well. We have 20+ investigators with baptismal dates and they are getting close to their interviews! They’re progressing, save a few that only come to church about half the time. We are trying to make that 100%. We found almost all them in the past 4-5 weeks by “whitewashing” the area- just going around asking for inactive members that we could visit. After spending a lesson or two with each of them we began to get referrals to other family or friends. Many of the inactive members we visited have also begun to come back to Church!

I’ve found that inactive member work is one of my favorite things to do. It doesn’t take a lot of time, because it’s just about knowing them and teaching to what their situation is (really just having a gospel-related conversation, nothing too formal), and the spirit reminds them of the past and rekindles their testimony- and they come back! It’s not that simple all the time, but we’ve already helped 7 long-time inactive members come back to church here, while getting new investigators at the same time. And they’re all so happy!

We had a lot of success with new convert baptisms in Nonouti, but one thing Elder Morley and I talked about a lot, was the inactive work we did. We brought back a good 15 or so members to church. That felt just as good as baptisms. Meanwhile, we invited their non-member family members into the mix so they can be complete the family membership and begin to prepare for the temple. I think the inactive member work has become one of my favorite facets of missionary work because the changes in them are so easily and readily recognized, and, as soon as that spark inside them is re-ignited, they want their nonmember family members to join them. It ALWAYS leads to teaching and new family converts, and, there you go, full families preparing for the temple and callings and missions! I feel like that was the major highlight of the work in Nonouti and it’s been great here too. We are looking to increase by a great deal of new investigators this next week by the same method.

Alright, well, we gotta go! A lot of stuff to do today. Next week I’ll start sharing a few stories of investigators and their progression to testimony and baptism. The gospel does provide miracles and spiritual experiences on daily basis if you’re really seeking. After all, the beauty of the journey of this life is not necessarily in new landscapes to explore, but in having new eyes. Miracles are all around those who see them. I attest to that. I have seen them daily. It’s a true testimony of the authenticity of this directed work. I love this country and its people. I love this gospel and the church that teaches it. I love this latter day work that is directed by God. It has changed me and the paths my life will take forevermore.

Till next time,

Elder Smith

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