Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New Address:
2560 Ahekolo ST. 
Honolulu, HI 96813

Okay Friends and Fam, it has been a century.

Sorry for that!

I've been so wrapped up in all of this, in the best way. I'm sure y'all understand!

Where can I start?
Maybe at the 7/11 on Saturday night. We went for dinner with the Reyes family.
They live all the way out in Waianae!
But since we are the only Chuukese branch, we get to take that post-card-picture-quality drive out to the dry side of the island where I fell more in love with these people.

We park at the 7/11 and out comes Sister Lybbert.
She has been in Hawaii for exactly 4 days. 
And she is being such a champ about all of this!
I remembered to warn her about all the new things I could think of.
Still, I get to whisper side notes as we gather under a tarp strung over us and under all the stars you can see out in the country.

She asks what kind of fish is on the table,
I let her know its raw. 
We say a prayer and it begins,
Elders and Sisters first. 
So respectful, these people.
They have shining eyes and easy smiles and I love to hear the women all gathered together talking about their kids and where to get the cheapest Chuukese skirts in their nasally mother tongue:
They compliment my own Chuukese skirt (a gracious gift from a grandma in the low income apartments) and I smile and say "keriso! keriso!" 
They warmly laugh at my limited Chuukese.
I pile the paper plate with rice, the base. 
The trick is to put more than you think you need. That makes them so happy!
When you get tons of food...
I put the fresh tuna on, a thick slice of raw meat.
Add the calamansi.
Next comes the potato salad.
And an interesting version of spaghetti featuring hot dogs and spam.
Stack on some barbequed meat. 
Grab the hot sauce and take my seat next to Ensina.
My favorite!
Its 7:30 and the light of the house provides just enough for me to see her gold teeth shining as she smiles.
We talk about her job in town and she brings over some homeade fish sauce for me to try.
Meanwhile Sister Lybbert is doing her very best, and you can feel the collective pride of the Chuukese people and the other missionaries there. 
She is doing it!
Trying all these new, weird things.
And she is doing it pretty well!
We talk all about how to catch octopus and where to get the Chuukese combs.
We sing with the ukulele, the sweetest song I know:
"Sises Epwe Ang Asau"
And the harmony swallows me up. Everyone all together. From the old grandpas to the 3 year old girls.
Time stops. 
And I get distracted from explaining how everyone is related to my companion and I feel the tears burning my eyes.
How could you not love this?! 

I have found my people and my place!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sitting on the Southern Most Tip of the United States, dangling my feet over the edge:
New Address:
Sister Macey Lane Smith
  1500 S. Beretania Street, Ste 416

I am leaving the Big Island and I'm not quite sure how to say it,
but I will miss this place and the people here.

The past few nights it has been hard to fall asleep.
My mind is filled with what these 3 transfers have held.
Good examples, clear warnings, and the thing that hits me most:

The eternal friends I have been able to meet and make here. 

So much has happened with my companion.
We were put together in a less than ideal way and I felt like there was so much to overcome. Selfish thoughts filled my mind with all the ways that SHE should change. What went wrong. Always blaming. But then my heart changed.

I love her now! 
I really appreciate the way she plays with kids when we teach lessons, how she scoops them up and acts surprised at any thing they show her. And I feel for her family situation. I understand where she is coming from. We both eat miso soup together and talk about the gospel and the best part is I really thought it might not be possible! 

But here we are. He brought me to it and then through it!

Then there are the blessed members!
I could fill volumes with what I appreciate about them...
My best good friend who is 7 and wears pink keds with high white socks to church and shows me how to hula dance. 

The kindest older Japanese lady who spends all day cooking for our dinners and wears long pearls with her Aloha print dresses. 
Brother B who practices playing the organ on Tuesday nights and is always so welcoming on Sunday mornings with a hymn book and a hand shake. 

There is a Hawaiian word for it: 
It means to take someone in, to bring them up as your children.

They are all so nurturing.
I feel like I am leaving something serious behind here.
But I'm glad for the knowledge that this is not all.

In Hilo, there have been many moments of spiritual wrestles and I've faced hard things.
There were times that I wanted to get transferred, to have a new companion.
And when they didn't come I felt frustrated. 
But I knew it was because there was more to learn, that I hadn't won the fight or learned the lesson.
And then I did!
What a sweet peace it brought, to find myself on the other side, stronger and truer for having gone through it.

Yesterday sacrament was very sentimental.
Sitting in the back row I could see all of the people I have come to love so much.
We were singing a hymn.
My neck felt itchy with all the leis and my heart felt full. 
I looked around to see if everyone was there and I saw a Sister who has become like a second mother to me.
She has helped me and supported me through the trials of this great work.
And we have rejoiced together.

As we saw one another, we gave a knowing look and a smile.
My eyes filled with tears as I felt the rush of this moment. 
I let myself be all right there and it felt like it all slipped into slow motion.
I looked down and thought 
"I am here. 
All here. 
And I have fought a good fight in this area. 
He has carried me through."

As the meeting began, I reached for my scriptures, worn and full.
I found a verse that matched the moment perfectly:

"Behold, He changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word." 

I believe that He had to let me go through it.
And I am so grateful that He did because I got to go through it with Him.
With God, our trials are never really ours.
He is so good!

Sister Smith

                                                                       An excerpt from earlier in August:

 I have crossed this line, maybe recently I realized, where I could not retreat to the same person I was. There is no going back. There is going home (and I so look forward to it) but there is no going back. We have seen too much and worked too hard to turn back to the people we left as. And that is a good feeling! I have improved, I have grown! And I am just now starting to see it. Somehow, through the teachings and the Atonement of Christ, I feel like I am living the realist version of my life. That is really something! So I just have to remind myself, when I hear the soggy phrases like "time flies" and "missions are such a fraction of your life" that they are true! First. And then, so sweetly, that I have been blessed with this time to lean on the Lord, to find certainty in the struggle, and to count it all joy! Sometimes the most fundamental things escape us, you know? Like the fact that I have been living here for one trip around the sun and that I am not who I was in the best ways. I have fortified the good and (with any luck) trained some of the unruly traits I had before. I just have to breathe it in and remember. Anyway... All this to say things are so sunny on this side of the world and the Lord is still, always looking out. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

In Hilo with Aku

e-mail:  macey.smith@myldsmail.net
Sister Macey Smith
887-A  Mililani Street
Hilo, HI  96720
Sister Smith, Aku & Sister Baumgardner
So we are teaching a man named Aku.
Well that is not his real name, but that is what everyone has been calling him from "small boy time."
He is actually in hospice care.
And he is a breathing, smiling, sunny miracle.

The circumstances are crazy!
We were sent to the Hospice of Hilo- quite by accident- and also by Bishop.
A less active member had just entered the boundaries and no one knew her.
But we were lucky enough to get to know her. 
Her name was Carmen Kawelo and she was very near the end of her trip here.
She had long, wiry black hair and soft brown eyes.
Eyes that were warm.
She only had a few days left by the time we got to her.
She wasn't very conscious either, but she spoke to us in a soft whisper and she would just hold my hand so tightly in her own strong and marred hand.
The only thing I know about her is that she used to dance in Waikiki and she loves turtles. 
This was back when I was serving with Sister Hwang and we got to spend small and precious time brushing out her full hair.
We would weave it into big braids on either side of her gaunt but kind face. 
And sometimes we would even hum.

It was one of those slow motion kind of moments to look at Sister Hwang on the other side of the big bed, resting on the railing, she had so much love in her eyes for Carmen.
This lady that we hardly knew.
God's love was so tangible.

So, on the last day Carmen had here, we walked into the building, in a quiet rush.
As we passed an open room on the way to room #10, I saw a man in his 60s who smiled at us as we passed.

We went on to see Carmen, we found only an empty room. 
And we held hands for just a minute, knowing that this was right.

On our way out, the kind man waved us into the room.
He was with 2 other people, directly across from him was Aku.
He wears plain white t-shirts that are always clean, with plaid boxer shorts and socks. 
He has the whitest beard.
It is neatly trimmed and his eyes, though sunken, are deep.

The man that introduced us in was a member in the ward 1 hour south of us. 
He is the groundskeeper and had been invited (for the first time in 10 years of working there) to meet and talk with Aku.
Originally he played old Hawaiian songs and talked about family history. 
But he had recently understood that his calling was to teach Aku about the gospel.

Only a few days earlier he had given him a copy of the Book of Mormon.
And he said that in his 10 years there he had never seen a set of missionaries there.

But there we were, on a Tuesday.

I ran into the definition in my studies this week.
Its called divine choreography.
And it happens all the time, we just don't see.

So we go to teach Aku every week.
He always stands up to shuffle over to the door to tell us goodbye and give us aloha kisses.
I hope I never forget the way he says prayers, his thick pidgin accent and hand wrapped tightly around mine. 
"thank you, Heavenly Father, for my sisters."
He has been gaining weight and he has been sleeping better, but I can't help but wonder how much time is left.

It humbles me to know that the Lord would let us come in for the winding up scenes of such a beautiful life. 
He saves his tapioca pudding for us and every now and then challenges us to a game of Hanafuda ( a Japanese card game).

And it was on the wicker chairs in his room, lucky #4, that he asked that question,
"when did you know it was true?"

Divine Choreography....

I am grateful for the time and the people and the grace I have been blessed by. 

And I am grateful for YOU all and the love you show me!

Sister Smith

Thursday, May 26, 2016

e-mail:  macey.smith@myldsmail.net

Sister Macey Smith
887-A  Mililani Street
Hilo, HI  96720

Hello Hilo!
The Big Island is called such for legitimate reasons!
Man this place is HUGE! But then again, it could just be because I have been on Oahu for a while.

So Hilo is rainy and green and full of hills and old things.
There is a rich history here that is not easy to miss.
The people are a big part of that!
This is a big island, but a small town for sure.
Everyone knows everyone.

My companion, Sister Ranck, is a spunky thing straight out of Salt Lake City.
But not really "straight out".... Because she is going home very soon. 
Like 3 weeks soon!

Many people here come for the space and seclusion they can't find on Oahu.
As you can imagine, this makes for a pretty interesting group of folks!
A prime example is our good friend Flavia.
She was raised in New York to immigrant parents from Eastern Europe and she married a man she lovingly refers to as "the punk" who works as a janitor at the University of Hilo.
Both of them take college courses for fun and, now in their early 60s, are a wealth of surprising facts and Bob Dylan lyrics.
Flavia calls us "the Swarmin' Mormons" especially when we do service to help her out.
They live without a lot of things, but they are happy as clams!

The highlight of this week, for me, was teaching a young family- the Andersons.
Brother Anderson has spent quite a few years on Maui and now here after growing up in the Marshall Islands and his wife doesn't speak much English. They have 4 bright eyed kids. They remind me of all the cute little chugs I had to leave behind in Makaha! Small hands waving and loud laughs. Man, it gets me every time! 
He asked to look at the Book of Mormon.  As soon as I pulled it out of my bag he began reading the introduction RIGHT THERE. Sister Ranck and I kept looking at each other with expressions that said something like "is this really happening?"  Then he asked what time church started!
We promised to bring by a Marshallese copy of the Book of Mormon for his wife along with a few DVDs about the restoration and prophets. Closing with a prayer, we shook hands, gave hugs, handed some pass along cards to the kids who couldn’t have been happier with a million dollars, we left. And then continued to talk about how incredible it all was.

I also felt an overwhelming love from Heavenly Father. He is so proud of us, all of us. Those who keep trying, those seeking truth, even those people who stick gum under tables at Mexican restaurants! He loves all of us. In a way that overcomes everything else. Please don't forget!

I love you all! Have a happy Mother's Day! And shout out to Mi Madre who puts this all together. She is everything I want to be.

Choke Aloha,
Sister Smith

April 18, 2016

My corner of paradise is really great right now! Like eating rice cakes and walking to the low-income housing to sing some primary songs and talking about life with my companion great. It feels like this is going going by so wonderfully and weirdly fast and so I just slow right down and get lost. And then found. Do you know what I mean? It has been really good to just get wrapped up in this place with these people!
As for me, I am just a puddle of feelings! Mostly all good ones though. The work here is going like crazy! We have two more boys with baptismal dates and a few families really getting the gospel! It sure is sweet to see. The companion is a dream. She has asked a few times this week "will we be friends after the mission? Because I really want to be! To which I happily agree. I think, because of we struggled, we are so much stronger together.  We had to experience each side and choose the happy one.
This also makes it hard to say good-bye.
I am flying to Hilo on Wednesday morning. Mom I AM SO EXCITED! And sad that I have to leave these folks (seriously like losing an internal organ every time....) but THE BIG ISLAND! I think it will be a grand adventure.
Give my Love to everyone!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sister Macey Lane Smith
84-590 Kepue Street
Makaha, HI 96792
Transferred!                                                                                               February 1, 2016
The west side! 
It is so so seriously different from Kaneohe. 
Lots of Micronesian friends and locals and homeless people. 
The best sunsets probably ever.
This place is dusty and full of potential! 
I have found parts of myself all over this town. 
Walking along the worn out 2-lane road (the only one in town) as the sun starts to go down, surrounded by kids in State housing as they fed us fruit snacks with salty brown fingers,
walking into the small chapel on Sunday and sitting among about 60 faith-filled people, 
singing hymns with my companion. 
Such a tangible magic.
It's like I am picking up the pieces as I go. Nothing is ever random. Ever.

Saying goodbye to Sister Carlsen was kind of a drag. We were the best of friends! And the Kaneohe 1st ward. Swoon! Those people are deep down good. Especially Bishop. He serves humbly and diligently. I will miss the Ko'olaus and the rain. 

Maybe that is why it is so easy to love Makaha, because they are quite completely different. Parts of Makaha look like Pocatello... or maybe Ogden. I still am trying to figure it out! 

Both of us are new in the ward and it is not always easy to find your bearings... but my gosh. It is SO fun! We are always learning and laughing and seeing new things. We live with 2 other sisters so it's like one big, strung out sleep over most of the time. We have driven all over this place trying to meet the important people in the ward (leadership, investigators, members, e v e r y one) and we got kind of dizzy by the end of the 2nd day. We had big boxes of food that some of the sisters in the zone had dropped off after service at the food bank. I think we go just about every week and we don't even really grocery shop because we get so much food! We are talking like 25 boxes of fruit snacks... 

Earlier that day, the sisters had driven us around trying to orient us. They told us about this patch of trees along the highway. It is known as "the bush" and pallets line a pathway back into the trees. The sisters told us it was a community of homeless people. The stretch of trees cover a pretty big area. 

After a few appointments had fallen through and at that awkard time right before dinner, I was feeling pretty ineffective! I mean, it just comes with starting fresh. We HAVE to stumble around for a few days because neither of us know the place or the people. I just didn't want the sun to go down on us without having done something... good. Something that helped another person. So we grabbed the boxes stacked up by our kitchen and headed for the bush. 

The side entrance is next to the boat harbor, a big space of dirt and litter before you get to the dock. We parked, prayed, and put the boxes on our shoulders. As we got to the entrance, we met two men smoking. We asked where we should go. The boys told us to take it to Aunty Twinkles just inside the bush. As we walked back behind the trees, I was really pretty curious. 

As we got through the walkway of pallets and tarps and sticks piled up, we heard the radio playing reggae music. There was a make shift porch in front of a big tent. On the porch was (who we later found out was) Aunty Twinkles. Her daughter had just finished dying her hair and she was putting an old bread bag on her head as she was singing along the the radio. 4 or 5 granddaughters danced and played with a volleyball. As soon as they saw us coming, they smiled. The girls each took a little food and then Aunty said "bless you. You go on and see if any one else needs." 

Walking down the dirt path, I have never seen so much need. Some people seemed to expect us as we approached they took the boxes with a nod, some said they were fine, others cried. I still can't shake the look on a young Tongan mother's face as she took a bag of candy for her boys. She told us we were the most beautiful girls she had ever seen and gave us flowers for our hair. 

It is hard to explain the tragedy and triumph of this place. A million broken hymns were gathered together from all different places and situations. Many women who ran from abusive relationships, people who had addictions that made them forfeit everything they had, one man a successful business man who said he had become so sick with society that he had done all he could to leave it. All around me, I saw Christ. He was there. With these people, loving them though many didn't know it. Never before had I had the opportunity to walk some of the path that He may have, but standing amid that place with all those who had been so broken down, I felt Him.And I felt a need for Him. As we found our way out, tears filled my eyes. I looked back to see the young mother, who waved as she counted out candy for her boys.   

So many have told us, as we have prepared to come, to be careful, to watch out, to keep our belongings close to us. We pray for safety and protection. But I so look forward to this season of giving like I never have before. These people are starving for it. They walk the streets looking. And we have the answer. We have the end all be all to heal them. For this I am grateful. My heart is full. I feel Him.  


Hello All,                                                                                                        January 22, 2016
I have a new companion; Sister Carlsen from Pocatello, Idaho!  We've been together for a few weeks and are just.... soul sisters.  She likes all the same stuff I do and we see things in the same light. Our intentions are the same. She is full of unabashed joy and these past few weeks have been like a romantic montage of missionary work. I mean, hard starting in a new area (we got moved from the 4th ward to the 1st ward) where there is so little to go off of. But I thank the Lord that I got a dream of a comp to go through it with!

Here at camp Kaneohe, we have had a week just full of life. All kinds of it. There is a really sweet couple who we are taking to the temple visitor's center this week! J____ is going to be baptized and it breaks my heart to know I won't be here for that but he is so ready. So prepared by the Lord! We set his date in February and he said " do we really have to wait that long?" When I see him and his girlfriend reading the Book of Mormon, I feel like we are doing something right. There is also a really sweet family we are teaching! They have 4 kids and all of them are so well behaved. They are another family where I feel like we just bumped into them at the right moment. The Lord has been preparing them. They just had a little keiki named E___. She is so tiny and fresh from heaven! Their daughter K____ is pretty much kid-Paige which makes my heart so full!  Also, Bishop Carlile is the tops! That man. He is so ROL. And we are getting more to the gamey side! Being a missionary gives you the chance to have a view of the ward like you might not get any other way. We get to see these people, work around them, hear their stories. It is a gift. Sometimes I spend sacrament writing down people's names and things I have noticed about them, things I love. Its pretty creepy actually. Pretty Holmes-esk. But I can't help but feel like they might fade and so I am trying to hang on! Ugh. This whole serving the Lord thing can break your heart ten ways from Saturday... but I love it more than I can say.

Here is a jumbled and slightly exaggerated list of the good, the bad and the hot mess of it all:
1. Gave a homeless girl our chinese leftovers and said a prayer with her.
2. Somehow managed NOT to kiss a cute tan toddler who jumped in my lap on Sunday.
3. I felt my Saviors love for me & those I met.
4. Was a reff for a wrestling match the elders had on the church lawn!  They are such BOYS!  haha, sure is fun :)
5. A Sweet Aunty in the ward gave me a coconut bracelet to "always remember Hawaii by".
6. Got a little misty on Sunday realizing I've been out 6 months already.  The time is going SO FAST.
7. Petted someones domesticated tortoise (and thought of PG:)
8. I finally learned how to eat rice with chop sticks and not look COMPLETELY caucasian (truly an answer to prayer)!
9. Stole coconuts from the graveyard...
10. Got cupcakes delivered from the district leaders on a long day.
11. Said 1,000 prayers for y'all.

All my Lovin'