Elder Colby Ross Smith

Elder Colby Ross Smith

Lots to Do!

Mauri moa n te ririki ae boou!

Wow, so many things I could talk about! Don’t know where to begin. It’s been a while since I’ve written, so I have quite a few updates. For one, Betio is a great area!

After about 6 cancelled meetings with the Bishopric and Ward Council, many prayers and reminders, we finally got one! It went great. We felt so good after. It’s amazing what can be accomplished. I hope they all felt the same, so we can have another meeting soon. We discussed about 25 men- recent converts, less actives, or soon to be baptized, who could receive the Priesthood in May. Finally, we have a list to work on.

Our main challenge, as usual, is the lack of time. Our recent converts and investigators are all on track. The key is getting Bishop and other members to fellowship them, so they don’t ‘’leave out the back door’’ once they’re in. We just started doing splits with prospective Elders- we’re aiming for Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Saturdays, we split with the local returned missionaries so they can get to know our investigators and help with fellowshipping (our Ward Mission Leader is still new and learning). These splits won’t last for much longer, though it was so nice while it lasted; last week we taught 60 lessons and started with 10 new investigators that are sooo legit! I am so over-joyed with the great lot of couples and families we are teaching now.

My companion will be leaving soon to Aranuka, his first “outie,” and my new companion will be a Kiribati missionary that is waiting for a Visa to go to another mission…. We’ll still have an extra tag along with us each day, in addition to some returned missionary sisters since they are such a great help and bring such a nice, bright spirit to the lessons.

Hey… It’s now a couple weeks later- never finished the previous update. Elder Christensen is gone and after flying solo for a few days I got my new companion, Elder Tune. He’s part a pioneer family that helped establish the Church in Kiribati. He graduated from Moroni High School a couple months ago and is waiting for his Visa before her transfers out to New Zealand, Hamilton Mission.

Things are pretty sweet so far. He’s a champ. Still learning a lot, though, since he hasn’t been to any missionary training center yet. We’ve had a lot of fun the last week! He’s a really hard worker.

As for the work- things are better than ever! We had 7 baptisms so far this month. 3 more are scheduled for January 30th. And, once February arrives, the real fun begins! All of those are people that started taking the lessons since I arrived here in Betio. Ah gosh, I love them. The idea of using returned missionaries is going well. We’ve been pushing the members to fellowship investigators/recent converts and they’re really beginning to put forth an extra effort.

Four of our most recent baptisms all required marriage first. One of them, Joe, in his thirties, married our Bishop’s adopted daughter. He was previously a devoted catholic, but has been coming to our Church and Institute classes independently and never even had lessons. All the Ward members thought he was a member; he already knew so much basic doctrine. He started lessons just before my arrival. We helped him finish up his divorce papers and got them married. The marriage took place just one day before his baptism, followed by a fun party. They have a baby on the way.

Another, Baenana, married our Stake President’s nephew, Kaiea. She has such a sweet heart- an easy crier. She’s only 19 years old, pregnant, and due in the next few weeks! She’s had taken lessons with missionaries for several months before my arrival and has had a testimony of this Church even though she had never read the Book of Mormon and asked God if it was true. She wants so dearly to have an eternal family and peaceful and happy life for herself, husband and daughter. Once she received her witness of the Book of Mormon and her marriage paperwork was ready, she was married just before getting baptized- a huge baptism and marriage that included their entire family, including the brother-in-law that baptized her. There was a big party at their house last Saturday night.

Lastly, my other favorite couple, Buren and Retia…! I love them so much- I love all these families and couples here…. Ahhh, gosh it’s the happiest thing in the world to teach and help families increase their faith in Jesus Christ by preparing for Baptism and the Temple afterwards. Couples and families are my favorites. Luckily, we have 4-5 more marriages to go and a couple more full families being taught! Betio is on fire! 12 adult investigators at church yesterday, along with their kids. A couple of them are YSA who are typically fellowshipped like crazy by the 10+ RMs in our ward. Anyways, Buren was another who had had lessons for some time but nothing clicked…that is until Retia joined in right when I got here. He’s protestant, she’s catholic. Now they’re Mormon! What better combination?! She was a huge deal changer. Buren has changed so much lately. They came my first week here and have not missed since (8 weeks in total), attending Church for all 3 hours (that is an accomplishment….hahaha- seriously). So I’ve had a lot of marriages and couples baptized together in my time, but that was definitely one of the coolest. Like Baenana and Kaiea’s wedding, they came in tux and dress and invited their non-member friends to attend (they’re totally embracing the member missionary thing), and we had a small wedding reception at their house where they wore matching outfits. Three days later they were baptized and their testimonies were some of the strongest I’ve ever heard. Both were so well prepared.

More to come. I’ll just end this for now…sort of rambling on. I’ll relate more investigator stories next week. A lot of other good ones. I’m attaching a couple pictures this week! I’d write more but we need to get going! Lots to do! Things in Betio 1st are great! I love it here and I love the members and our investigators so much. Till next time,

Elder Smith


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!

Just a thought for this week- Lately here in Tarawa, due to recent modernization (more portable video players and laptops), an anti-Mormon video against the validity of the Book or Mormon as scripture has been spread around like a sickness from the other churches who take pleasure in bringing our Church down. I’ve seen stuff like this before. They’re actually easily answered questions if you know a thing or two about history, the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Frankly, they are pathetic ploys made to maim members’ faith and testimony. But, if you’re a member here and you’ve never heard of something like this before, it affects ya, I guess. Consequently, a lot of Kiribati members are a little shaken up from it. I’m sure this happens around the world. Actually, things have been this way since the beginning of time. But the internet has escalated misinformation to a new level- I’m sure many of you have seen.

Anyways, last Sunday was fast and testimony meeting and it was really cool hearing testimonies from about 25 people (there were so many), telling stories- most of them being about how the Book of Mormon changed their lives. So, Elder Christensen and I were talking and he shared a Book of Mormon scripture, Alma 62:41. It reads, ‘’But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.’’

Affliction, sorrow, sickness, temptations and even ploys fixed by the adversary to damage testimonies of Christ and His church come to everyone! It’s inevitable in a fallen world. But, we can choose how we react. That’s where desire, action and faith come into play. You all know numerous scriptures that support this simple and crucial truth. We’re all given the same gift of agency- it being a central part of God’s plan built on Christ. When adversity comes, we can either become ‘’hardened’’ or ‘’softened.’’ I love how because of it, while some have been hurt, most have found humility, growth and strength in times of adversity.

I love the members here. It reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures in the Epistle of James. So many in his letters. James 4:10, ‘’ Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.’’

Though we live in a ‘’fallen’’ world, if we will simply humble ourselves in times of doubt or challenge, and exercise just the morsel of faith we have left, to walk the path shown by our Savior, Jesus Christ, He will recreate us. He will ‘’lift’’ us up, in faith, knowledge, strength, and He will make us into all we are meant to be. When we were ‘’softened’’ and like clay, we can be made into all the Master desires, but when ‘’hardened’’ we are left to our own abilities, which is hopelessness, never to truly progress in this life or the next, or receive the fullness of joy that comes from being humble enough to follow Him, and be made into more than we can imagine.

But remember this at all times: ‘’The Lord cannot give you something that you do not choose.’’ Your personal desire is required! Elder Dallin Oaks said, “Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming. It is our actions and our desires that cause us to become something, whether a true friend, a gifted teacher, or one who has qualified for eternal life.”

The Book of Mormon contains many teachings and lessons about the importance of desire.

Till next time,

Elder Smith