Mission Report from Senior Missionaries after 18 months of Teaching Institute

paul and terry smith mission to texas 2018

Paul and Terry Smith visiting their son Jimmy and some of their grand children who live in the area of Texas where they were called to serve a mission in 2018.

Editor’s Note: My parents completed their senior mission last month and I wanted to give one final report. As they were beginning their mission, I posted several articles about their senior mission, written by my dad:

Editor’s Note Continued: My dad wrote weekly emails to the family during their mission. The following are excerpts from his last few letters. They should give a good flavor of the work they did for a year and a half, and additionally it contains a good testimony bearing. It has been good to visit with my parents from time to time during their mission. In fact, we saw them much more during their mission than before they were missionaries thanks to the travel flexibility given to senior missionaries. They are from Maryland, but they got called to serve in the Dallas metro area where I live with my family–miraculous. Without further adieu, here are some of the final letters from my dad. Please note that names of people they worked with have been changed.

Aug. 20, 2018

Dear Family,

Below is our weekly report.  Our mission is drawing to a close, but we feel there are several things we need to accomplish before leaving.  Among our remaining goals is for three specific individuals to be baptized.  Actually, we think all three will be baptized.  Whether or not this happens, and when it happens is out of our control.  But because we love and care for them, and because we pray for them with all our heart we are accomplishing what the Lord wants us to do.  We cannot force others to accept the gospel, but when our hearts are drawn out to those we serve with love and the commitment to help them–this is fulfilling the calling that the Lord gave us. As we recognize this and appreciate the fact that the love of God is in us and is helping us–this is what happens when we magnify our missionary callings.  Nevertheless, and as wonderful as this is, our hearts do fill with increased joy when these people we love have the courage and determination to enter into the waters of baptism.

We have some good news about Elizabeth and Isabelle.  Both of them are saying positive things about being baptized.  Mom and I visited Elizabeth in the knee rehabilitation facility on Friday, August 10th.  She has conducted a lengthy and thorough investigation of the Church.   She said she would like to be baptized, but she said she still had questions about marriage in heaven and about “sealings.”  I think we answered these questions to her satisfaction.  We hope she will schedule her baptism after her knee heals from the recent surgery.

With regard to Isabelle, the Elders told me Saturday that she now wants to be baptized, but she wants to make sure that she thoroughly understands the doctrines of the Church before she does so. I told the Elders that Brigham Young followed the same approach. We pray for Elizabeth, Isabelle and Anna to obtain the witness and to have the courage to join the Church–the blessing of receiving the sanctification of the Spirit fills my soul with love and happiness and with desires to serve God and my fellow man.  With all my heart I yearn for these sisters and for all my family to experience this same transformative blessing that comes in complying with the ordinance of baptism and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

We are starting to prepare the syllabus for our Pearl of Great Price class that will begin in a week.  I love the Pearl of Great Price.   We are looking forward to teaching two classes on this.

Saturday night we attended the wedding reception for Xander and Lillian.  They are both wonderful people.  It is a wonderful opportunity for us to participate in their celebration.  We have had about ten marriages in our YSA ward this year–this has taken 20 strong people from our ward.  We celebrate their marriages, and then try to figure out how to move forward in the YSA ward.  Fortunately, we have a bunch of new people coming into the ward.

God bless you all.  We pray for you every day. Love, Mom and Dad

August 26, 2018

Dear Family,

We have four weeks to go here in Denton, Texas and our schedule is totally full of things to do until then.  On Tuesday, we will begin to teach two classes on The Pearl of Great Price.  We are really looking forward to that–there are so many marvelous truths that are taught in that book.

The young lady Isabelle confronted an obstacle this week, which I hope she will be able to overcome–the Institute director had a sign put up that no animals were allowed in the Institute building.  The support specialist put the sign up on Friday, right after Isabelle and her dog walked out of the building, after having a missionary lesson with the Elders.  After I spoke with the Institute Director this morning (Monday), he took the sign down, although they will be barring dogs from the building in the future.

September 10, 2018

Dear Family,

We attended another wedding reception on Saturday.  I’ve counted ten weddings in our ward this year–and together they have involved many of the leaders in our ward.  Nevertheless, we have a couple of dozen new people, and the ward keeps on doing well.

The wedding this weekend was a temple wedding, but the bride’s parents were not happy about it.  The bride is an attractive, intelligent young lady, who has was president of the Institute council.  The groom is also intelligent and has a great personality. So the wedding festivities unfolded under a disappointing shadow, as the bride’s parents did not attend either the wedding or the reception.

The young lady we have written about previously, Isabelle, has decided to be baptized.  It is scheduled for tomorrow night.  Mom and I really rejoice about this.  We love Isabelle, and we have befriended her for over a year.  She has gotten over the Institute’s anti-dog policy incident that I previously mentioned.  She is intelligent and talented (a harp player), and she is very concerned about eternal things.  We had the privilege to be at the Institute building a couple of months ago when she came to talk about our relationship with God and the purpose of life.  We will always cherish that discussion.  Despite her parents’ efforts to dissuade her from having anything to do with the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, Isabelle has received spiritual witnesses that are now culminating in her baptism.  Last year she was dissatisfied with the gospel because she felt it was chauvinistic.  She has come a long way.  She understands plural marriage, and she is very impressed with the virtue, goodness, kindness and faith of the young single adults.  We rejoice at Isabelle’s progress and decision.

We had an outdoor pool party for the Institute people on Saturday night.  Even though it drizzled all night, we still had 50 people attend.  They swam and played games and ate hamburgers and hot dogs for about four hours.  We had at least two investigators, both of whom fit in very well.  We love being a part of the growing of the kingdom of God on earth.

We love you all, and we pray for you every day. Love, Mom and Dad

September 17, 2018

Dear Family,

We only have a few days left before we leave for home. We are leaving with flash and flare. At church, Sunday, Isabelle was confirmed a member of the Church. I had the honor to be in the circle confirming her. We love Isabelle, and we have prayed for her and attended her recitals, and chatted with her with some regularity for a year and a half. Her boy friend, Wyatt, confirmed her. I don’t believe she was baptized just to please Wyatt. From what I observed, she had made the decisions before that relationship developed. I do believe that Wyatt was a help, but I think the conversion to Jesus Christ and the restored gospel was genuine.

On Saturday, we visited 79-year-old Elizabeth in Decatur. We had a wonderful visit with her. She again mentioned her interest in being baptized. She wanted to talk to her bishop about whether she should do this even though there continued to be some things she did not yet understand.

On Saturday evening we visited Jimmy and Heather and their children. We have been so blessed to be able to visit with them several times during our mission. We love them and their children. We will miss them being so close, as we move back to Maryland.

Today, I taught the Institute Director’s two Institute classes. He had to attend meetings today with Church Institute leaders who were visiting from Utah. I loved teaching those classes—both lessons pertained to the Lord’s commission to Joseph Smith to proclaim the gospel to the world. In 1829, revelations confirmed that this is the thing that is greatest worth to us—to preach the gospel to the world. This type of service is uplifting and satisfying, as we teach the knowledge about the divine purpose of earth life, and as we teach about and offer the covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who will believe in Him. We are so grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which brings us peace and joy and certainty and good desires.

On Sunday, at church, the bishop asked us each to say a few words to the YSA ward, as that was to be our last Sunday. We were happy to do so. We love them, and we have devoted our time to being there to greet them with a smile, an encouraging word or a compliment. We rejoice in their successes, and we sorrow with their struggles. In just two or three minutes, I shared with them my witness that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Savior, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church on the face of the earth that has the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Other churches have many truths and many great people. But none of them teach all of the important, fundamental truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is so sad that other good Christians do not accept The Book of Mormon. The messages about and from Jesus Christ that are conveyed in the Book of Mormon are wholesome, pure, virtuous and true. Those who want the truth will not rest until they embrace the Book of Mormon. Those who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ will eventually accept and embrace The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know this is true.

It has been the greatest privilege and opportunity for mom and me to serve the Lord as full-time missionaries for eighteen months. We have been very impressed with all the young missionaries with whom we have labored in Denton, Texas. They are pure and dedicated and disciplined—just the way God’s servants have to be.

We love you all. Mom and Dad

Editor: Here are some other photos from their mission.

paul and terry smith mission to texas 2017

Paul and Terry Smith in the kitchen of the Institute building in Denton, Texas by the campus of the University of North Texas. Each Friday they prepared a lunch for all the Institute students.

paul and terry smith mission to texas 2017

In November of 2017, Paul and Terry’s son Jimmy was invited to speak at the Friday Forum at the Denton Institute. He spoke on what the prophets have taught about Christopher Columbus.

paul and terry smith mission to texas 2018

Paul and Terry’s grandson, Abraham Smith, performed a band concert for his middle school at the University of North Texas and they were able to attend.

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