Elder Colby Ross Smith

Elder Colby Ross Smith

Building a Temple of God

Bar Yokwe non bamle eo ao

Alright alright, where to begin? For starters, 12 WEEKS TILL GOING HOME. I do not know this number because of some sense of anticipation or desire to leave. Rather, it means its go time! Time to crack the whip! No regrets. Final quarter (actually less). Yeah, I’m stoked. My recently created personal vision is entitled ‘’Building a Temple of God,’’ based on Elder Holland’s talk ‘’However long and hard the road.’’ The scriptural base is D&C 64:33 and, of course, 1 Corinthians 3:16, ‘’Know ye not that ye are the temple of God….?’’ It’s about laying a foundation of good work for myself, still seeking diligently to be the son and servant the Lord has called me to be since the spirit world. Or, at least seeking for the Lord to change me into that person, to my fullest potential ‘’via’’ the Atonement.

I love setting and pursuing goals. Ah I love it. And what’s more, making goals and plans that are inspired by revelation that comes from the Lord when you’re on His errand. I have learned and been taught so much on my mission; by the people, the missionaries, and the Spirit. That’s the amazing thing about service… It will do more for you than you ever could do for those you’re serving. I’ve seen it countless times here in the islands. I love being corrected and changed and transformed by the Lord, and I am so grateful for these last 12 weeks to do all that I can to serve, and forever be changed while doing so.

President Weir often reminds me that “[We] are here to prepare [ourselves] to be good fathers and husbands! It’s funny, I used to have so many plans for my life, so many ideas, so many ambitions… and now, though I still have desires to do well in life, the worldliness of my hopes have been swallowed up, and from it born something new. It’s pretty sick how that can happen actually. A miracle itself! All I really want to be now is a good son to my earthly and Heavenly Parents- a good family member- and a good parent and husband. Maybe saying these things sounds strange to others hahaha, but that’s really a major reason why we are here on earth!

So, yeah, anyways, I’m stoked for these next 12 weeks. Gonna give it all I got! My plan will help me to be directed by the Lord to magnify this calling. And that’s good because, to be honest, work hasn’t been easy here on Majuro. It never was before, but it’s a different game than Kiribati: different culture, people, teaching methods... We’re really trying to lift this side of the mission the best we can. That’s a long story though, won’t get into that. 

Things are a lot more modern here, but that shouldn’t be the limiting factor in softening hearts. Maybe it is, though. Don’t get me wrong, I love the people here (: They’re awesome! Especially the members. I have met some amazing and courageous members here who are such examples of service and magnifying callings. But there is an apathy to change and desire to know the truth here. We have a decent amount of investigators, but scheduled lessons rarely work out. People forget or avoid us, even after great previous lessons. We did, however, have a baptism last week! That was sick. Joseph, our investigator got baptized. He’s a great kid- 16 years old. I greatly prefer to teach whole families together, but Joseph’s parents aren’t keen to participate and Joseph is such a stellar kid.

I’m beginning to wonder if teaching all the Kiribati people over in Long Island (an hour drive away) was such a good idea.  We may be spreading ourselves too thin. We’ve been searching for new people to teach nearby, but most don’t want lessons. That’s another thing! Kiribati people have concentrated into just a few of the larger religions like catholic and protestant. But here there’s like 30 churches! Soo many small churches. And, they’re all like social groups. The social aspect serves as a main motivation for church attendance here. Next week I’ll write about some investigators that actually are progressing and coming to our church, though.

My companion, Elder Logalaca, is one of the most Christ-like people you would ever meet. He believes that I’m here in Majuro mostly for the Zone Leader part, to be a small tool in lifting other missionaries. For now, I’ll just keep doing what I know and try to see things how God sees them, hoping for and planning on ‘’Good Things to Come.’’

Elder Logalaca is from the outer island of Taveuni in Fiji. He is a 2 year+ convert to the church. He talks about the changes in his life daily so I know a lot of his stories. In short, Loga was your every day average drug dealer. He had a gang, got into lots of fights, loved to party, smoke and drink, and do anything and everything he could to feel good, even stealing money. He was a starting rugby and volleyball player and has almost died several times. His most recent near death experience happened 6 months before his baptism, after another drug overdose. He passed out and had this immense pain all over his body. At some point he had a vivid dream: I won’t go into all the details, but he promised God that he would change his life and serve God. He wanted to be happy. He began changing his life, though falling again every now and then, until the day the missionaries came to his island and he was taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and baptized a month later. Less than a year later he sent in his Missionary application. (this is a really condensed version of the story).

It wasn’t an easy path, severing ties with old friends while being practically disowned by his own family. His family angry anymore, but he hasn’t heard from them since leaving for his mission. (even after the big Fiji storm, he doesn’t know what happened to them) But Loga has big dreams for his future and his family and kids one day and also his village (he’s the only member). Every day he lets those around him know how happy he his. He always has words of wisdom (usually quotes by scripture, latter day prophets, or reggae, like Bob Marley hahaha), and he’s always looking to help others. He’s another example of what I meant when I said I’ve been taught so much more on my mission than I have taught others. Love this guy. Seriously, almost every day he throws his hands in the air and yells ‘’Yeah! I don’t know why, man, I’m just so happy all the time!’’ He often talks about how his life was saved, how his eyes are open now, and how grateful he is that Heavenly Father loved him enough to cut him down so he could grow. 

He’s still enduring certain challenges, but always smiling and positive. He is living proof that ‘’the future is as bright as your faith.’’ So that’s Logalaca, and I’m Elder Smith. And we are West Zone Leaders of the MIMM! Best mission in the world! I love my mission! And I’m so grateful for every second of it! Peace out till next time!

Elder Smith

1st Report from the Marshall Islands

Iokwe Aolep,

Things are all good in the West Zone here in the Marshall Islands. I‘ve now been here for 2 weeks and time has flown by. I'm loving the work, people and new language, despite the many many differences with things I love about Kiribati.

It's starting to get fun now because I'm able to speak a little. All last week I taught the entirety of our lessons, with Elder Logalaca following up to make sure they're on the same page due to my accent and limited vocabulary. Really having a blast learning Marshallese. Just speaking all the time and not worrying what others think, combined with lots of study, and even more prayer and fasting makes for a good combination of learning quickly. Already knowing another language (Kiribati) helps a little, too. Which brings me to another point...! We've been given authority to teach all Kiribati people throughout our zone (as ZLs, we have a car). I'm now the only Kiribati speaking missionary here since the assistants just left for Kiribati for a couple months because we are having a senior couple shortage. So...we inherited all of their Kiribati investigators, which is good because, though there are no Marshallese in Kiribati, there are loads of Kiribati here in the Marshall Islands. And that means more time teaching for Elder Smith, which makes him very happy!

Our immediate area of Arrak, though beautiful and lush as it is, it is not exactly ripe with prepared individuals. Hahahaha. Nah, there are plenty, I’m sure. We're just having trouble finding them at the moment! I remember times in Kiribati, such as my last area of Betio, there were many prepared people. It took lots of praying and fasting and hard, hard work to find them. But Elder Christensen and I did find them, and it was the same in all my areas. We intend to do the same things here and show everyone that this place CAN and WILL have many baptisms, despite the differences in culture and life here, and despite the low population of our area (we are in the “bush” of Majuro). There have been very few baptisms here. BUT WE BELIEVE. We have a vision, and goals for that vision, and plans to accomplish those goals. Mostly this consists of work, work, work, work, and more work (We can sleep or rest when we die, right?) Of course, all hard work must be combined with much prayer and fasting, since we can’t accomplish anything without the Lord’s help.  

Anyways, yeah, things are on the rise. Average lessons a day? 2. But it’s on the rise. And I'm stoked (though I love this language) to be able to also teach in Kiribati. Man, I love Kiribati. 

Elder Logalaca is the best companion! He's great. At some point I'll probably talk a little about him and his life because it’s a crazy story. We're having fun and working hard, just sad that the time is flying by...

I signed a paper last week for my return home... something about my flight. It's been moved forward to the 23rd of June. Just about 3 months left.... I don’t know where the time has gone. I'm excited to go home, of course. Many great things to come. But, I don’t know.... I just don’t know what else I want to do, really. I don’t know how to live and not be a missionary every day. Of course that’s what I'll continue to do when I get home, but yeah, you know what I mean. It’s not the same. It has gone too fast.

A little sad about that... but doing great. I love my mission. I love my home of Kiribati, but I also love the Marshall Islands. I love the Lord, His church, His atonement, and the gospel created to access its power. I love to serve!
Until next time, 

Elder Smith