Elder Colby Ross Smith

Elder Colby Ross Smith

New Standards of Excellence


A lot to talk about this week, but I’ll keep things short due to time restrictions. We feel very well into the Zone Leader life and adjusted to Tarawa living. The members here are resilient, strong and faithful. I love them. And I love our investigators. We just had 8 baptisms. It was the first wave since we got here, but there are many more to come. Some are getting stronger and seem ready for interviews next week. There’s been a little confusion lately since, for a month now, Elder Afatasi and I have been on constant splits and exchanges. The last Elder from the recent intake left just yesterday. Yes… yes… they finally got to all there places. This has been the worst transfer (in the “drawn out” sense) of all time- so many broken planes and times of bad weather. But they’re finally all set now and, as of last night, it’s just the two of us in our house. Felt weird. Lately there have been 5 in our house, but it was good- we were able to use the extra help to teach more lessons and find new investigators. Over 30! 

Radio is used to contact "outies" weekly
Teitei Bird 
Now, we’re not quite sure how the two of us will manage all these new investigators while juggling ZL responsibilities, but it will be nice to be back to normal for a week before a new intake of 15 Elders and Sisters arrive. A few days after that, Elder Afatasi will transfer back to Christmas Island and I’ll stay as ZL for the East. We’re currently in the process of reopening the West Zone and two new ZLs will be called up. This is in preparation for the APs to move back to the Mission Home in the Marshall Islands. Additionally, a ‘’Mission Tour’’ will be held this week for Elder Pearson of the Area Presidency. We’re all really excited for that!

We’ve had lot of meetings and conferences lately. Just a couple weeks ago, before President returned to the Marshalls, we had a second island conference to discuss the new Mission Goals and standards of excellence. The work is being hastened! The new standard is one baptism per week, per companionship. All other standards were raised as well. Our mission goal is to prepare 2,500 islanders per year for the Second Coming through baptism and confirmation. There are not a great number of missionaries here, hence the standard of one per week, per companionship. Definitely possible though!

Our most recent meeting was General Conference. We received recordings a week after everyone else, since it took time to translate and transport. I was able to watch in English. I wish I had time to go over all my thoughts about conference and my favorite talks, but suffice it to say it was amazing! Never fails. I felt such a sense of renewal and light after- similar to what I feel after study and prayer, of course, but conference is a whole new level!

We recently starting teaching a family of 3 couples- each couple has several young kids. They all live in one small house that has no light, literally J. We started just a couple weeks ago, and they came to watch General Conference with us! Tenamoiti and her inactive mom also came, along with the other members of her house.
Our man, Katoi, also watched General Conference with us. His baptism date was coming up soon, but recently he got together with one of our recent converts and…. yeah, we’re trying to figure that one out since our recent convert is only 17 years old and can’t be legally married. I don’t know how everything is going to work out yet.

Takaio came though! The credit for that goes to his family members. He’s set to be baptized next week. He turns 26 (maximum age to leave on a mission) exactly a year from now and is hoping he can go as soon as he hits a year after his baptism.

There were many more that came to watch General Conference with us- pretty stellar! My main girl, Rutian, unfortunately, didn’t make it… her story is pretty cool. One day I was on splits, driving around Eita, and decided to drop in, unscheduled, on Kaiea, one of our male investigators. Kaiea wasn’t home. But we met Rutian, a friend of Kaiea’s member wife. Rutian is a 22 year girl and one of my favorite investigators ever. We started with the first lesson, but she wanted deeper explanation of everything right away. She didn’t stop asking questions, wanting to see the scriptures behind them; not to find fault, but to know more. This was my time! I have an arsenal of hundreds of scriptures and stories in my head at all times to call upon. She continued her line of questioning through the end of the restoration discussion. We asked her to be baptized. She explained to us that she was recently made a Deacon in the Protestant church and was about to be set apart on Abaiang atoll the following week. Nevertheless, she did accept our invitation to be baptized under the condition that she discovered for herself that what we taught her was true. That lesson was 2 hours long! The subsequent lesson about the Book of Mormon was similar in length and questions. We dove in deep on several subjects. The next lesson was about the Plan of Salvation. She was a bit skeptical on this subject, but received it well and committed to pray about it while continuing to read in the Book of Mormon. Since then… we hadn’t seen her for a week. We thought she had left to be set apart, as expected. But, then, just a few days ago, we met again and invited her to conference. She could not come because she had her own church responsibilities. But, we are having one final lesson tomorrow at 2. It’s now or never! I’m pumped for this one.

I could tell many more stories like this one about Rutian. Next week I’ll tell you about my favorite current project… Beetua and Monika. And they are a project! They will come around, though. I believe in them!

Anyways, things are good. Living the life of Zone Leader in the Kiribati islands! Lots of great members, investigators, and missionaries to serve. Being a missionary is the greatest and most rewarding work in the world. I’m excited for the new week ahead of me!  I’m continually in awe of the magnificence of this work. I can’t comprehend how a person as inept and inadequate and imperfect as I could be a tool to help change the life of any Kiribati or fellow missionary. As Elder Renlund quoted ‘’and by the weak things of the earth the Lord shall thresh the nations by the power of his Spirit.’’ (D&C 133: 59) It’s a testament to me of the reality and divinity of this work. It’s a true testimony that the Lord does His work through imperfect and prideful men- that He is at the helm. Do I deserve this success or these many blessings or peace and happiness? No! hahaha. I wish I could say yes, but I’m far from it. I’m just doing the small things that I can and He does the rest. He qualifies me. He makes me whole. He lifts me each day and allows me to say each thing I say or do each thing I do. It is by His spirit that others receive their witness, that others are changed, that others are baptized. It is by His priesthood they are baptized, confirmed, blessed, and strengthened. I’m so grateful that I can be a part of this work. I know it to be true; I know this to be the living Christ’s restored and guided church to preach His perfect plan and gospel. This is knowledge I know for myself and it is, as Elder Rasband said, ‘’wonderful to me.’’

Peace for now! Have a killer week everyone!
Elder Smith

‘’Stick to a task until it sticks to you; for beginners are many, but finishers are few.’’ –Thomas S. Monson