Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some pictures in Mexico!


Well i'm finally in mexico. The keyboard is going to take a little getting used to because of the shifts and the punctuation stuff, and it says everything that I write is wrong because its not in spanish. So i've only been here for two days, really just one night and today, but it has been so amazing. My mission president is way cool and everything is great. I'll go through our trip a little bit. So sunday night we were at the presidents house (SLC) and I was with 4 other elders from my mtc district that were leaving with me to mexico. We didnt get to bed until like 12 because of stuff we were doing and had to wake up at 530 and then we traveled. We got a ride from a shuttle that was just a big van and we got 7 elders and all of our lugage in the van/on top of it, so that was pretty crazy. Travels went well. We went from slc to mexico city to villahermosa. we didnt have too much time in between mexico city and villahermosa though because we got a little confused about where to go. When we got to villahermosa the president was there waiting for us with two elders that work in the office and he took a ton of pictures with all of us and even took videos and stuff. it reminded me a little of mom and dad when we are hiking because he ran ahead of us and had us all walk by with our luggage haha. He is an awesome president and a lot like his brother that I met. He doesnt speak very much english, but it is about the same level as my spanish so in our interview it was about half spanish half english and it worked out pretty well ha. My interview was funny because he had us fill out a form that had one of the questions being what our interests were. I put down basketball, piano, guitar, and singing. He asked me how long i'd taken piano and if i could play well, and he actually had me play at his house when we went over to eat. he then asked me what i sang (bass or tenor). I said bass and then he asked me to sing something for him haha. He told me to sing i know that my redeemer lives. then he started singing along with me and then we sang i am a child of god and that primary song that says whenever i feel the rain on my face.... It was funny but it was actually a cool experience. He then told me how important music was and how I need to share it and teach the people in the areas that i am in. Last nightwe went driving through the city and everything was so crazy. it is surreal to finally be here in my mission and i am so excited to get out and work! we stayed at the missionaries house who help in the mission office and it is a lot like elder bullocks it seems like. we can go up on the roof and look out at everything. there is no warm water so its going to be cold showers everyday for the next 19 months. there is a big tank that we have to turn on every night. Villahermosa is the nicest place around though. people here have really nice cars and stuff, but i'm pretty sure they spend more on their cars than anything else. It has also been way weird going just about anywhere. Everywhere we go, people stare at us. We have gone into stores a few times and when we stand at the end of the checkout line, all of the other lines down on both sides are all staring at us and whispering things. there arent very many white people here. basically just the missionaries. It is pretty dang cool to be the minority for once haha. We havent done too much here yet. we have been in the mission office for most of our time having orientation. we went over to the mission president's house for lunch today and they live in the nicest house ever. like really nice. its in a gated community and i'm pretty sure they are used for really rich peoples vacation homes or something. when i got here I saw elder eliason and elder hausman who were in my mtc district. they are both working in the office because they got hurt. elder E hurt his knee playing basketball and elder hausman got into a car crash. also elder green got here one month ago and is out on the island in my mission. elder e has also been here for a month and elder h has been here for 2 months because he stayed in the mtc longer. oh ya and the craziest thing is that people drive sooooo crazy here. there literally are like no rules. its kind of like go karts and people drive wherever they want. we dont get to drive, but we take buses and taxis everywhere. tomorrow i am going to get my new companion and area. i'm going to learn spanish and everything so much faster now that i can finally speak it. i am sure that it is probably going to be pretty frustrating for a little while though, but i'm excited to be able to learn everything and to finally be here in Mexico!

Before i left, i had one experience that i want to share about christmas. my christmas was really good and i got to visit a few people. on christmas day i went with elder mueller and elder martin again to go visit the ramirez family. since the dad broke his arm and hasnt been working for a while, they didnt have anything for christmas at all. elder martin and mueller went out and bought a bunch of gifts for all of them and i got them a few things also and we went over there with a big box of presents for them and then stayed with them for a little bit while they opened and played with everything. It was so fun to be able to see them again and then to be able to help them to have a merry christmas. they were saying things like "this is the best christmas ever!" and things like that. it did really make you feel good and I had a smile on my face the whole time! I also stopped by Jose one last time. he got dropped by the spanish elders that are now in that area which is really sad, but i told him to keep going and keep working towards baptism. I told him what he needed to do and i bore my testimony to him. it is sad to have to leave all of those people and especially because i'm going to miss the ramirez's baptism where i probably would have gotten to actually baptize one of them, but i'm way excited to be here and to serve here in mexico. It was also really nice to call and talk to my family and i'm glad that you all are doing so well. I love you and I miss you and will let you know more when i find out.

Oh ya, pday is on monday and i only get letters every like 4 weeks or something depending when zone leaders come to the office. usually not any more than every four weeks so thats different, but i'll be okay.

love elder smith

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last week in Utah!

So, I signed my visa yesterday and am going to be flying out to mexico monday the 27th. The mission president let us stay here for christmas or else I think i'd be leaving today. It is pretty crazy that i am finally going to be leaving. All of this time waiting here, I have become very familiar with this mission and how it works and have lots of families and missionaries here that it will be sad to leave. I am especially sad because I will be leaving right before the Ramirez girls get baptized. I was probably going to be able to baptize at least one of them too, so its a little sad. They will get baptized though and hopefully set a good example for their little brother and their parents. It was fun to sign my visa and i got to see all of the guys from my mtc district. we had some good chats about everything. I also talked to an elder who was in the same mission as elder thompson and he said that elder thompson hadnt gotten his visa yet, so i'm not sure about the other elders from my mtc district that are in other areas.

It is hard to write anything else now that i know that I am going to mexico, but this past week has been a great week, that has also posed its own challenges. English missionary work is definitely different than spanish missionary work here. I have been able to have a lotof good experiences in lessons and such, but it is a lot harder to find people to teach. Also i'm coming into an area that hasnt been doing quite as well as my past ones. I have been the senior companion for the last week and have basically done 80% of everything in lessons and outside of lessons. It has been hard because i dont really know what is going on too much in the area or with people, but it has worked out pretty well for me and has been a good learning experience. I had a really cool experience this past week with a man named Rodger. He has been taught by the missionaries for the past 3 years, and still wont pray. I went over and i think it was my first or second lesson in the area. I didnt know what they had planned to teach other than that it was prayer. I sat there for a while as the elder that went home shared some things, that rodger kind of shot down. He then shared a personal experience that was really cool and i think rodger was a little more accepting to that. He then basically tried to close the lesson, but i hadnt said anything yet, so I jumped in and told him that i had something to share. I linked together a few scriptures that i had found while i had been listening to the other elder and then I bore my testimony about prayer and about the things that he needed to do. I felt very guided in this experience it was really cool to see it happen. I felt the spirit in the lesson and at the end of the lesson he accepted to say the closing prayer. I also went over and taught him one other time this week and i had the same experience. This experience I was not even thinking about what I was saying and was actually impressed with what was coming out of my mouth. I was definitely a mouthpiece for the lord in this situation and was able to teach the things that he needed. He is pretty stubborn though and still wont pray on his own. I have a pretty good lesson planned for him tonight and i have a lot of really good scriptures lined up for him. Some of them that i really feel apply directly to his life and situation that I was helped to find this morning in my studies. Hopefully i will be able to find a way to get to him and help him to exercise his faith before I leave.

I also had a really cool experience sunday night. Hugo Flores got baptized. It was so awesome to see him and i felt the spirit so strongly when he went down into the water. I literally had the biggest smile i have ever had on my face after he came out of the water and it didnt leave me for a long time. It always makes me so happy to see people choose to follow the savior. Especially around this christmas time, there is nothing better that you could do than to show your faith by being baptized. Hugo is an amazing young man and I hope that he will be able to prepare himself to go on a mission. I was trying to convince him to go to byu next year or even uvu and be in a byu ward, so hopefully he will do that and be out on a mission in a year. He has an amazing testimony and an amazing spirit and i know that he would be such a great missionary.

I hope that you have an amazing christmas and have fun with family and friends. thank you everyone for all of your love and support of me on my mission. I will do my best to work hard and be the best representative of jesus christ that I can be. I love my mission and i love this gospel and i know that it is true.


Elder Smith

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Visa Waiter... Emergency Transferred!

Well this past week was really great, except I got a call late last night that said I was being emergency tranferred to go to an english area because one of the elders is going home because he finished his mission, and the other one got his visa and is going to veracruz. I am changing today so i didnt have time to say good bye to a single person or anything. I am going back to my old area, but am going to be in english which only covers half of the area. I was in the oquirrh and oquirrh point stakes last transfer in spanish, now i am just in the oquirrh stake in english. My new companion will be elder caterson. He is from southern oregon, and I have gone on exchanges with him before for one day. It will probably be good for me, but i wont be able to speak any spanish until I leave, and it will just be hard to be in another new place a week before christmas. On christmas day you get to go around anywhere in the mission and visit recent converts or members or investigators. I had planned to go with elder brown and elder martin and elder cline (elder browns comp now) and go through my area and my last area and it would have been perfect because thats where everyone is that i know. Now i dont know if i'll get to do that and might have to go to ppl i dont know. I'll be fine though. All part of the experience, and i'll try to learn whatever it is i'm supposed to from this experience. I got too sad and mad about being transferred again last time and i'm going to try to learn from that, but it still is hard.

Anyways, on a lighter note. This week was amazing. Wednesday we had the baptism for michelle martinez. She is a 16 year old nicaraguian, and was way ready. She scared us a little bit because she showed up at about 650 and still needed to change and be interviewed. the baptism was supposed to start at 7 and didnt end up starting until about 730. Other than that the baptism went great. I got to be a witness again and I felt the spirit so strongly when she was baptized and I listened to the words that were said. I also had the opportunity to bare my testimony while they were getting changed and then they came back out half way through so I got to bare my testimony directly to her and it was amazing. I love to see the faith that our investigators show when they get baptized. I have so much respect for the people that listen to us and who whole heartedly are searching for the truth. It is truly amazing to see the process of their search and then to see them get baptized. I am looking forward to mexico for this reason because here i havent had the opportunity to stay in an area long enough to see a conversion start to finish. We have many in my area that are about to. The Ramirez girls are close and have a date for january 2nd. Hopefully i'll still be here for that, but i'm not sure.One more cool thing about michelles baptism was that after it was all over and people were congratulating her, she started to cry, and i also saw after she hugged her mom, that she started to cry as well. They both felt the spirit strongly, and it is even more amazing because michelles mom is not a member, and was not always the easiest to work with. Hopefully they will be able to teach her now as well.

This week we also had a cool experience with a girl named jade. She is 16 now (had a bday last week) and has a baby. She lives with the family of the boy that she had the baby with, and they are active memebers. We started teaching her about two weeks ago and she seemed a little shady at first, but became progressively interested as we came by. We went over on thursday or friday and we asked her some questions about how things were going. We asked her if she had been reading and she said she had been with her boyfriend everynight and that he was explaining what she didnt understand. We then asked is she had prayed about it. She then told us that the first time that she prayed about it she started to cry. She receieved her answer! We were way excited for her and we had not planned to do so, but when she said this, we gave her a date to be baptized for the 9th of january and she accepted.

Friday was an interesting day and didnt go as planned at all. We were supposed to have an family home evening with the ramirez family and the escodero family (members in the ward). We went by the Ramirez family to have them follow us to the house, and found that they were all sick. We knew that some of them had been sick but thought that theyd be better by now. This gave us the opportunity to help them by giving them priesthood blessings. I got to do the annointing for the first one, and then Ermalinda asked me to give her a blessing as well. It was a great experience, and I havent gotten to see them much, but when I went over the other day, they were all feeling better, and they were all able to come to church on sunday except for the dad. The priesthood power is real and can always be used to serve and perform the will of God. We ended up going and doing the fhe with just the member family, and we watched mountain of the lord with them. It is a good movie and it went well until the last 15 minutes, which is the most important part, where it kept skipping. It wasnt the greatest lesson so hopefully we'll get to try again and get everyone there.

I have been super excited about this area because we have been finding so many new people. The last week me and elder mueller have been doing a bit of tracting. not a lot of time, but it has been increadibly affective. We would choose houses, and almost always they would be hispanics and would be nice. One lady we talked to had to g around the side of her house to talk to us becuase her front door was sealed shut, but she talked to us for a while and was super excited about reading the book of mormon and told us about how some of her family were recent converts, including her mom who had just gotten there for vacation from mexico. We also met this couple whose names are Veronica and Fransico. We went by and taught them, and they were really nice. We taught a good first lesson and had the spirit in the home. I was able to teach about joseph smith and give the account of the first vision and i felt the spirit very powerfully as I recited his words. We gave them a date to be baptized as well and they accepted. We taught them one other time this week and veronica read a lot, and is really excited about learning more. We also found the Soto family of 5 and also a lady and one of her friends who i'm pretty sure are going to get baptized nad are totally ready, and a few other couples as well, all just in this week.

Hugo is for sure getting baptized this sunday. We went over to their house and we walked in and he said "i have something i need to tell you guys. I got my answer, and i'm gonna get baptized on December 19th!" I was so excited for him when he said that. I knew that he had been praying sincerely for an answer and I knew that his answer would come. He is getting one of his friends who is a recently returned missionary to baptize him, which is awesome and will help him to stay active. He is also making a ton of friends in the ward and is doing the ward activities and sports that they have every tuesday night. He is oging to be a great new member, and hopefully he will be able to prepare to go on a mission in a little over a year as well!

the last experience I want to share is about how the Lord guides us in his work. We went to a families house for dinner after church this last sunday. We ate and talked and everything and it was great. then an older lady came in and asked if we could help give her a blessing. We did that, finished eating and then I shared a scripture. I wasnt sure which scripture I wanted to share, and this time I felt that i really needed to think about it. Sometimes I can just pick and it works, but this time i really took my time choosing. I ended up picking my missionary plaque scripture 2 nephi 22:2. I hadnt shared this scripture hardly at all this transfer and i felt like it would be a good one, especially around christmas. I started to introduce the scripture and everything seemed normal, then I started to read it. "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, he also has become my salvation." After i shared the scripture I began to explain the significance of it to me and how we could all apply it to our lives. I explained how we all have our struggles, but that if we trust in our savior, that we can be helped through any difficulty that comes our way. I said a few more things as well, but as I began talking i looked up and notices the women who's house we were at had started to cry. I was not sure and i didnt ask what she had been going through, but she told me how that was one of her favorite scriptures, and how she new that she could receive help by trusting in Jesus Christ. This was a testimony to me of how I can be an instrument in the Lord's hands. He helped me to find the scripture thatthat family needed at that very moment. My moto for the past few weeks has been, "slow down, and love the people." This encompasses everything that missionary work is. I need to slow down and really have a love for the poeple that I serve. As I seek for the spiritual guidance that i need to help these people, and as I teach with the power and authority of God through the Holy Ghost, I will be given what i should do to best serve the people here.

I love my mission, and I love being able to learn and to grow from all of my experiences. I am sad that i have to leave, especially to an english area, and that i didnt have a chance to say goodbye or anything, but I'll be fine, and am going to learn from the mistake that I made last time. I am not on my time and its not my decision and there is something more that I need in this new english area before I leave for mexico. I love you all and I miss you. Thank you so much for all of your love and for your support.


Elder Smith

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brad's Email!

Hello everyone. It has been another great week here in Utah. I am excited to go to Mexico, but i am very blessed to be here in slc and speaking Spanish and i was a little bit selfish before when I got transferred and was a little down about being moved again. Hopefully I learned my lesson from it and will learn to just always try to be happy no matter what. The longer I stay in any area the better it can get. It is kind of sad about my last area because the missionaries there now have dropped some of our investigators that we had been working hard with. Some of them i saw it coming, but some of them it was very sad to hear about. hopefully they;ll have another chance in the future and be more accepting. I'm glad to hear that everything back home is going well. I am doing great here. The weather has been significantly warmer and that has been nice. I have had to do a lot of walking this week though. I think I'm getting a little too used to having the car. We trade off the car every two days with another companionship. I am excited for all the the things that we have coming up in the area and in the mission. WE are doing some special things for Christmas which will be fun. One of which includes being able to hear from Elder Holland! I got to hear him in the mtc as well and he is one of my favorite speakers. I don't know if we'll get to meet him or not. Elder Mueller said that when Elder Bednar came last year that they didn't, but maybe we'll get to shake his hand or something. Either way it will be way cool! We also have a decent number of baptisms scheduled for its month and the very beginning of January.

We have a baptism for a 16 year old girl named Michelle tonight. She is from Nicaragua and we have been teaching her for a while. It is a huge blessing that she is being baptized tonight i feel though. Earlier this week she was still praying about the date, and didn't seem to crazy about it. One night it was just me and elder mueller because elder martin was on exchanges. We had an appointment with her and our objective was to go over and to teach a little and then try to make sure/ resolve any of her doubts about being baptized tonight. We were both thinking before hand that it really might not work out and I was really nervous that she was going to say that she didn't want to. We went and shared a message about temples, and about eternal life with our families and an eternal perspective. It was interesting that that was our topic, but it flowed very well. We explained how baptism was really just the first step and a door to obtaining all of the blessings that our heavenly father has for us. It went great and she told us she was ready to be baptized, and now its happening tonight and I'm way pumped for it!

Another funny thing that has been happening that last few weeks is with our recent convert Gilberto. He is from Cuba and awesome, even though he is about impossible to understand. He has come out with us and has born his testimony very powerfully about the book of mormon. It has been cool to see him progress even further after his baptism. He is going to get the priesthood this Sunday, a temple recommend, and he just got a calling to be a ward missionary. The problem that we are having with him though is with his old girlfriend. The real problem with them is that he doesn't speak English and she doesn't speak Spanish. He has been trying to get divorced and has been dating this lady, but she had no idea that he wasn't already divorced and she found out a little while ago and now there is a ton of drama about it ha. I was surprised she didn't know though because i found it out the very first time that I talked to him. Basically we have been the mediators/ translators for their drama, and it feels a little bit like junior high again. Hopefully it will all resolve for the best though, but its made for some awkward/funny situations.

The last thing I want to share is an experience that I had with the Ramirez family. We went over one night and talked to them about the restoration. We watched the Restoration dvd about Joseph Smith's vision and it went great. I had the opportunity to bear my testimony to them about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. After I asked them all how they felt, and they all share their feelings on it and explained the spirit. Some of the girls are very shy so its hard to get them to talk, especially the 18 year old, but we are working with them. I asked Ermalinda (the 15 year old) if she had read more. She said she was almost done with 2nd Nephi. I then asked if she had prayed about it yet. She then said that she hadn't, so i explained the importance of reading and praying and committed her to pray about it that night. The next day me and elder mueller came back because one of our appointments fell through. We started teaching and I asked Ermalinda if she had read. She said that she had. I then asked her if she had prayed about it and she said yes. Then I asked her how she felt. She then looked up and said that she felt a warmth and then chills. I was so excited when I heard this. And with a huge smile I told her that that was the holy ghost and that she had got her answer. I felt the spirit when she told me her experience and I am way excite for her and for the rest of her family to have the same experiences.

I had a lot of other cool experiences this week and really felt the Lords hand in helping me to speak Spanish perfectly when I needed to and also in finding more people to teach and in being guided in the lessons. This really is His work and I am doing my best to be a worth instrument. I hope that you are having a great week this week. I love you all and miss you. thank you for all that you do for me.


Elder Smith

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Week 19

Well another week has come and gone and it went well. The only bad thing was that I was sick for a few days. We went on exchanges to an english area friday, and had a good day, but then saturday morning, Elder Mueller woke up sick. We were supposed to exchange back and go back to our area, but he said he was too sick to go in a car, so i had to stay with him in the english elders house for the day. I read a lot and tried to use my time productively, but then i started feeling really tired, and fell asleep for like 10 min here and there. I didnt feel super great, but i figured that i was just being lazy and tired, so i forced myself to just keep reading. At about 5 oclock, someone knocked on the door so i stood up and walked up the stairs, and then had the feeling like i did that one summer when i got really dehydrated and passed out and i felt nauseous and everything. Thats when i realized i wasnt just lazy and tired, but i was actually sick. The guy needed to borrow some tools or something and said he'd be back so i waited for him upstairs and just put my head in my arms on a table and fell asleep. Then for the rest of the day and then all day sunday I was sick. I was really really tired, but I couldnt sleep. I was nauseous, but i never threw up. I learned from the last time I threw up, and didnt want to do it again and pass out and all that stuff, so i just didnt move too much ha. It wasnt too bad, but i missed a lot of time to go out and work which wasnt fun.

Other than that, the week was good. I had a lot of good experiences with the people here and was able to teach a lot. On wednesday after pday ended I got to go teach Hugo. He is a 17 year old boy who is really cool. The experience we had with him was very powerful for me. We went over wednesday night and when we got there we talked to him to see how he was doing, and we kind of got off topic, and talked about dumb unimportant things, and basically I just felt like the spirit wasnt there at all. We had planned on giving him a baptismal date that night, and I knew that it wasnt going to go well unless we had the spirit with us. I had my scriptures out, and so I opened them up, and then spent the next 10ish minutes reading through some of the highlighted scriptures that I had. I didnt talk or anything for that long, and they all continued in the conversation, which did develop roughly into our lesson. When I finished reading through, I looked up, and elder martin was about to give him the baptismal commitment. I somewhat interrupted/ just said I wanted to share something. I told them that i felt that the spirit wasnt there and I took part of that blame for letting the conversation drift from what it should be on. I then told them that was why I was reading in the scriptures. I then bore my testimony on the power of the book of mormon to bring the spirit and on knowing that it was true. I then related when I received my testimony of the book of mormon, and related that to how Hugo needed to do so and how he needed to show his faith in both continuing to read and pray, and to be baptized. WE gave him the date for the 19th of december, and I think that he'll make it. He is a good kid, and he has a good heart. He is smart and he likes to think and ponder about things a lot which I like. It was a great experience for me to have, and also helped me to see the importance of having the spirit as we teach to do anything.

Thanksgiving was an interesting experience. We didnt really have it ha. A lot of the spanish people dont really celebrate it and then if they do, i'd say 90% of them dont eat turkey or anything thankgivingish at all. We went to our dinner appointment at the same time as usual, at 5 oclock, and had a normal dinner, and then left and worked again. The only thing that was different about this day than any other was that we just mostly went by members or investigators that we knew pretty well, because we didnt want to bother anyone ha. I'm excited for the chirstmas season though and for everyone to get more religious and stuff. Hopefully it will help us get into a few more doors, and teach more people about the gospel. One thing that the christmas season brings is an opportunity to serve. My companions and I joke around that we are going to make a new key indicator (like baptisms, lessons w/ a member, other lessons, referrals, etc) but we were going to make it for driveways shoveled. We have a car every two days, so we drive down the street and if we see a woman or an old person shoveling their driveway we usually get out and help them out.

Friday on the exchange we taught a really cool kid named nathan. He's 18 and is one of the english elders investigators. I've never seen anyone so excited to just learn. We got there and walked in and went down to the basement. I then saw that he had a ton of amps and keyboards, an organ, a ton of recording stuff, a mac computer, and an acoustic guitar. I got to sit and play a song or two while we talked to him about himself and got to know him a little better. We told him where we were from and he said he'd been in portland and did some cool music stuff there. He also likes a lot of the same music as me, and had a john lennon poster in his basement. If i wasnt on my mission, i'd be good friends with this kid for sure ha. Anyways so we had our lesson with him, and I wasnt really sure what we were going to do. We asked him what he was reading and he said he'd been reading in the pearl of great price. We then spent some time talking about the church and about the book of mormon. We taught and explained a little better what the book of mormon was, and then spent some time all going around and sharing some of our favorite scriptures. Oh and before this he walked in with a pen and paper, and took notes on all of the scriptures we talked about in the lesson, and stopped us in the middle to go and get a highlighter so that he could mark the scriptures. The whole time he was talking about how cool it all was. We shared the story of alma the younger in alma 36 and he was way pumped about reading it. We talked about joseph smith and the church and a ton of stuff, and just had a really good conversation with him. It was probably the most fun lesson i've taught so far on my mission. I wouldnt really like to be an english missionary here in this mission, but its people like that that would make it worth it i think.

Also this week I went with Elder Brown and Elder Meuller in my old area for studies because my comp and elder browns comp had a district leader meeting. I ended up being there until like 2, but at 1 we had an appointment with Jose. I got to go back and teach jose again and it was awesome. We talked to him about eternal families and the need to be sealed in the temple, and it was a really great lesson. At one point we had all 5 elders there teaching him, which was kind of funny but really good.

Also we taught the Ramirez family. We found out that the parents, though they've been together for 19 years, arent married, but we put the rest of the family on date for january 2nd. One of the girls is super excited about learning and everything and she's really fun. Another one of the girls who is the 15 yr old with the baby, has already read to 2 nephi 25 in like a week! I'm excited for this family and I think that they will be great members. Hopefully i'll still be here for their baptism.

Overall it was a great week, and there are a lot of other good experiences as well. The people here are great and i'm improving my spanish and everything. I love you and miss you all and hope that you have a great next week.


Elder Smith

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some New Pictures

Week 18

Well this week was my 4 month mark. Not too much exciting happened this week. I'm trying to get to know everyone again, and its hard. We now cover two stakes and have a ward and a branch. The missionary work is good in the ward but is really bad in the branch, and we just dont have time to work with people and try to fix an area so we'll se what we can do. This last week in my other area we now have 6 people on date for baptism. Everything I did there was building up to this and it is still going. I'm still sad I had to leave there after everything, but oh well. We have some good investigators here. We had a baptism on sunday, but it was for a guy that I didnt really know, but it was still nice to see. There wasnt actually room inside the room so I had to stand outside with some other Elders, but I was one of the witnesses for the baptisms. The reason there were so many people there was because there was also an 8 year old who was baptized on the same night. I'm not sure why they set it up like that, but it was crowded. To tell you a little more and answer some of your questions, we cover two stakes (one ward, one branch). Every night we eat at one of the spanish members houses. Pdays are pretty busy. We wake up, have studies, today we shoveled one of our investigators driveways, then we go shopping, picked up drycleaning that we get done for free by a member, then we usually come email in the family history center in the church, then we have a zone activity where we play basketball or dodgeball or something like that, then we go home and eat, and then we have to be out working again by 6. We used to have a temple day on wednesdays when our pday was on monday, but now we dont have a time to go to the temple except for pday and we have to go before studies which means the 6 oclock session, meaning we'd have to wake up at like 430 to make it..sooo, I dont think i'm going to get to go to the temple. We also need members to take us to that because we cant take a mission car outside of the zone. We have district meeting every thursday at 10 am, except this week we dont have it because we had zone conference yesterday. My companions are named Elder Martin and Elder Meuller. Elder martin is from north caroina and has been out for 8 months. He is the district leader, but he hasnt been one before. His spanish is pretty good, we havent been together long, but i think things syhould be fine. Elder Mueller has been out 16 months. His spanish is good and he is a good teacher. He has a very strong personality and it can get a little frustrating at times, but i think everything should be fine there as well.

This week was good. There are a few people that I am excited for. there is the Ramirez family. It is a mom dad, 18 year old daughter monica, 15 year old daughter Malinda, an 11 year old daughter Mariana, and then a 5 year old boy. We have taught them a little bit. The first time it was just the mom, dad, and the 11 year old daughter. the mom and the daughter are pretty excited about everything and have been reading and coming to some of the ward activities (including the baptism). We went over there the other night and we taught them two separate lessons. We taught one lesson to the two other daughters who hadnt been taught before, and another lesson to the mom dad and mariana. It was kind of funny because it just sort of happened, but there were two lessons going on at the same time, in the same room. We'll teach them all together now though becuase they should all know the same things. Mariana surprised me when we asked her if she'd read. She had read a little bit out of first nephi, but then said, I bet I could read it in 2 weeks. We challenged her to read it in 4 weeks and to mark some things that she liked as she goes through, which she has already started to do. I am excited for this whole family to get baptized soon. They do have some problems though. The dad went in for surgery today. He cut himself really bad at work. He went this morning to get surgery. Thats why we went and dug out their car this morning.

Yesterday was quite the experience getting form appointment to appointment. We walked into dinner at 430 and there was no snow on the roads or anything. We then got a text around 5:00 right before we left and they said that all cars were grounded. We walked out about 30 min later when we were done with everything and it was a blizzard. There was like 4 inches of snow already and it was windy and pretty crazy. There werent too many cars out so we just walked in the roads. It was pretty fun, but it was pretty cold too. I was glad I had the stuff that I did for sure, but my face got pretty numb ha.

A story that is pretty cool that happened this week happened at dinner on thursday. We walk into the house and start talking to the family. They ask who we are and stuff and I brought up that I'm waiting for a visa. He then asked where at. I said Mexico in Tabasco. He said which mission in tobasco, and I said Villahermosa. He then smiled and said my brother is the mission president there! It was literally the craziest thing every haha. It made a pretty good connection though and we had some good talks about mexico and his brother for the rest of dinner and then I took a picture with him and his family. I'll attatch that to this email. He told me on saturday when i saw him at a ward activity that he called his brother and emailed him the picture and that his brother (president) was really excited and knew me and everything. Small world. Also last pday I was pretty down about transfers, thats why my letter was pretty bad, and i'm still pretty mad about it, but i'm trying to get over it. The lady that we live with is also really really nice. She made us hot chocolate and soup and stuff last night when we got in and we talked to her for a while. She is a widow and lives with her son who just got back from his mission, but i havent seen him at home yet. She also has a piano upstairs and I've gotten to play that a lot while i wait for food to cook and stuff, so that has been really nice. I dont really have too much music, but i'm getting really good at playing things by ear. I can play basically any song I can remember how it goes, but that list is getting shorter and shorter ha. Also some more good news about my last area is that Jose wants us (them) to teach him again. I think its still kind of what i said before. I dont know if he'll get baptized soon, but he 'll get baptized eventually. He is trying hard to do what is right and is working hard. He picked up the other elders from the baptism this sunday and so I got to talk to him. I joked around with him about hearing that he was going to be baptized and got to talk to him for a bit which was nice. I gave him a flyer that I found to help him get his GED and also gave him a referral for a place that I found that he could get a job. Hopefully things will start to turn around for him and he'll be able to be baptized. He has done the challenge I asked him to do where he drives off by himself and reads and prays twice now and I asked him about it and he said it went well. I told him to do it again. He'll get his answer eventually in one way or another, he just has to realize it.


Elder Smith

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Week 17- Transferred Again

Hello everyone. Thank you for your letters and emails. I always appreciate getting things from you all. Things have been pretty well this week. Biggest news is that I got transferred again today. I moved one area over, so i'm basically right next to my area, but cant go see any of the people. Elder Mungia is going home tomorrow, so i was kind of lucky that I got to go with him and say goodbye to everyone sort of, but I didnt think that i'd be leaving so i didnt really get to say good bye to that many people. It's hard to get transferred so soon over and over again. It's hard to feel like this is my mission when they dont let me stay anywhere, I feel like i'm just getting thrown around places a little bit. It also kinda stinks that I dont have my permiso. Hopefully everything will go well here in another new area and I will get to know the people fast, but its hard to change.

Other than that, the week has been good. We taught a lot of people and found a lot of new people that I am really excited about. We have taught one family, the Vasquez's, only two times, and have stopped by and talked to them a few more as well, but they came to church this sunday and stayed for the next class and participated in answering questions and everything. It was really cool to see. they have a 17 year old daughter who had friends in the ward too. They also have an 8 year old daughter who listens in the lessons. We haven't had a lesson with the older daughter yet though because she's still at school usually when we teach them.

Last Wednesday I went to "el salvador del mundo". It is a play put on by the church and is actually in a theater in the same building as the conference center. It was pretty cool and fun to go see. we went with a family we're trying to get more active and who we're teaching their grandpa, and also had a few of our investigators come as well. This week I was getting more excited about the Soltelo's. They are making progress and hopefully will be able to accept a baptismal date soon. They are opening up, and our lessons are going well with them.

This week also we met a guy named adan. we taught him the first lesson, and though he was a little unsure about the book of mormon, he was great and accepted what we said and we had a really good talk with him. We went by the next day though, and he asked us to watch a movie with him. We said we couldnt cause it was against the rules and that we could maybe watch it the next time if we got permission. We asked him what the title was, or if we could see the case, and he was like "oh, idk i'm not sure really. Its just about the stuff we were talking about yesterday, like about jesus christ and stuff." We said that we thought it would be fine but needed the title, we asked him to look at the disk. He went over and got the disk and it was "The Bible, Versus Joseph Smith" He then basically tried to relate the things from that movie into bashing us, but he didnt do a very good job at it because i'm pretty sure he'd just watched it right before we got there. It makes me a little mad when people do things like that. Act like they know what they're talking about and are totally closed when they really have no idea. He was willing to learn from a anti mormon dvd and except it as truth right away, but wasnt willing to pray or read the book of mormon or even consider it possible because there wasnt physical proof. Its like having a prosecuting attorney without a defense. We basically told him we were going to leave, after trying to explain some of the things. I bore a powerful testimony about moroni's promise in the end of the book of mormon in my life and then elder brown did as well, then we left. A testimony is something that no one can argue with. I know what I felt. I know that moroni's promise was fulfilled in my life. that if we read the book of mormon, and ask with a sincere heart and intention to act on the answer and with faith in christ, that we will receive an answer. I know that anyone who tests that with a sincere heart that you will receive an answer. It's hard to deal with people like that though, and I'm still a little frustrated about it and just everything, but i'll be alright.

A good thing that happened last night is that I went over to a members house. The people who took me to El salvador del mundo, to say good bye. We talked for a little bit, and it came up if we played any instruments. I told them I played piano and guitar. They said they had two guitars but didnt know how to play them and asked if I wanted to see them. Of course I said yes, and so I got to tune their guitar and then play for a few minutes. I miss music a lot and its hard to not be able to play very much. Maybe i'll be able to buy one in mexico someday, if I ever get there.

Well thats basically it. Nothing too exciting. I'm probably forgetting some stuff, but Nothing big I dont think. Hope you all have a good week and do well with whatever you have going. I love you and miss you and am grateful for all of you in my life.


Elder Smith

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Week 16

Hello everyone! I hope that you all had a great week and that everything is going well. things are good here in Salt Lake City, though this week proved to have its own challenges as well. Last pday was an interesting activity. Elder Mungia wanted to go visit one of his old companions before he went home so we went to their area for part of pday. We met at this family fun center place that the missionaries get in free for. I thought it was like a zone activity with lots of missionaries, but it ended up being only 5 of us, including us three, and then 2 others showed up too. It was probably the most awkward I've felt as a missionary. It was us in our missionary clothes walking in, and then about 50 kids running around and then moms. It was basically like Bullwinkle's except it had a roller skate rink. We got there and the other 2 missionaries wanted to go on the inflatable bouncing thing. Elder brown was still kind of sick and writting letters so I decided I was just going to finish my letter to Elise haha. They went and did that and basically i sat there for a little bit. Then we ended up playing laser tag which was pretty fun. It was us 7 elders, every man for himself, so it was fun. then we went home, but yeah the whole experience was very awkward and I felt out of place.

This week we had something that was really hard for me. We went over to have a lesson with Jose on friday. We knocked on the door and then he answered and said he wanted to cancel for tonight. Then he stepped outside and told us he didnt want to have lessons anymore... This was a shock and then we had about a 30 minute conversation with him on the doorstep about it. We all talked a lot and shared how we felt about it. There was a lot said and a lot of really spiritual things said. I felt the spirit the whole time, but in the end he still didnt think he could do it. He wasnt ready to give up the worldly things and change. He really is so close to making it, but he cant see how far he's come, and he cant see how close he is. Hopefully he will change. I left him with a commitment to take his book of mormon, drive somewhere where he could be alone, pray, read, and pray again, and to pray with all of his heart and with an intention to act if he got an answer. He said he would do it, so we'll see. I have faith in him, that he'll make it. This is a really rough description of what happened, but it was truly something really hard for me. Jose was the one that i was the closest with, and I know the gospel with turn his life around and bless his family so much. His wife sandra just got her temple recommend the week before.. This was our last appointment for the night, and then we had a long walk home where I had to think about it. as soon as we turned the corner from their house though I started to cry. Its hard to see him so close and not make it. I was pretty down and didnt really talk for the rest of the night and most of the next morning, but the good thing about a mission is that your forced to be happy, or else your not going to make it. I talked to more people the next day, taught lessons, and kept living and being a missionary, and though I'm still sad for Jose, I am trying to help him, and trying to not let it happen to the rest of our investigators, but in all honesty, this next week might be hard too because we might have to drop some of them. We cant get anyone to commit, they all feel like their not ready and are turning into inturnigators.. I have faith that a miracle will happen. That we'll find someone that has been prepared and is ready.

I had some good experiences this week as well. Monday we had exchanges. I went out with Elder Neves who is a visa waiter going to veracruz. He is in an english area and we stayed in the spanish area, so i was the one who lead. It was a really great experience, though at the beginning of the day seemed pretty daunting. Elder brown did spanish and took all of the appointments, and elder mungia did english with another elder and did their appointments. This means that me and elder neves had to come up with something to do for the whole day, without any plans, and I dont really know that many people or the area that well. It was an adventure for sure, and to top it all of it was stormy and snowy all day too. This day was really great though. I had the opportunity to speak a ton of spanish and to make the conversations with everyone and the plans and i felt very guided by the spirit. I received a lot of help as well. My spanish is better than it was, but its still hard. this whole day, I understood everything just about (as in I only had to say Si, nodding my head, and smile without really knowing what they said a few times ha). I was also able to explain myself and what I needed to say in a understandable manner, and without stumbling over my words at all. Also at one point in the night, we'd gone by all the people that I had planned to go by and we started riding back one way. I then felt like we should turn around, so i said to elder neves that we were going to go this way. I had no idea where we were, but just felt like going the other way. We got down and ran into a dead end, and were about to go back when I looked at a car. I parked my bike knocked on the door, and nobody answered. I then walked down the driveway and looked over and saw that their neighbors had lots of cars out front. I knocked on the door and talked to a white guy who was a member and he gave us three referrals, one being the house I'd just knocked on. We came back later that night and knocked again. We have an appointment with the house that I knocked on first, and one wasnt home, and the other one was a kind of odd story, but included a lady who wasnt a member, taking her kids to the lds church a few weeks earlier. We didnt get an appointment with her, but we'll probably stop by them agian soon. This exchange I also stopped by Jose. He let us in and we talked for a while. he told me how terrible things were going. There were some problems possible with Sandras pregnancy, he still cant find a job and its getting worse, and sandra is mad at him for church and some other things. Basically he told me that its basically the hardest time in his life. I gave him some counsel on what I thought he should do, and talked to him for a while. I shared a scripture with him that I thought would help, and told him that he needed to put god first and that he needed the gospel in his life. I re-committed him to do the solitary book of mormon read and pray thing that I'd asked him to do before and i hope he'll do it. Some other cool things happened on the exchange too, and it is another witness that god will qualify us if we do what we're supposed to. We talked to someone who gave us a job for jose, and we taught and set up another appointment with a family that the dad usually doesnt let us in, and where they have some members of the family who arent members.

Also this week we started teaching a lady named Leslie and her dad Cesar. We had our first full lesson with them yesterday and it was amazing. Leslie just got out of jail a few months ago, but she is really nice and spiritual, and studied and learned about the church in jail. Her dad is also very receptive and nice and willing. He had already read the whole intro and testimonies and started nephi before we'd taught the lesson to him, just based off of our first contact. I'm excited about them and am excited about continuing to help our investigators old and new.

I am loving my mission here, even though there area some hard times. They make the good times that will come that much better. I am working hard, and trying to improve myself in every way I can, and it is amazing to be able to feel the spirit so much in my life. I love you all and hope that you are having a great week. I love to read your letters and hear about how you are all doing. I will talk to you in a week. Next week is transfers. I'll probably stay here, but ya never know. Elder mungia is going home and leaves us on monday to do some mission things for the last two days so it will be me and elder brown for a while. I'm excited for my opportunities to serve and to teach and I love it here. Thank you for all of your love and Support.


Elder Smith

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Week 15

Hello everyone. It has been another amazing week here in West Jordan. Things have been going well, though there have been a few different challenges. One of our main investigators, Karla, left early to go back to mexico. It was hard and we went over one last time to see her the night before she left. She had a testimony of the book of mormon and would have been baptized soon, but we knew she had to leave so it didnt make any sense. We had a lot of really great teaching experiences with her and the change in her was amazing to see. She will be in mexico anywhere from 1 - 6 months. Either way, it is 100% sure that Elder Mungia wont be here, I probably wont be here, and Elder Brown may or may not be here. She isnt able to meet with the missionaries there because she said if her mom found out that she was listening to the missionaries, that she'd probably kill her ha. So we told her to keep reading and praying and to try to go to church as much as possible and then that she could be taught everything else when she came back and be baptized. Another hard thing this week was that Indira, the lady that we had on date to be baptized, fell off date because she didnt come to church. She also hasnt really read much or prayed much either. I dont really understand because she accepted baptism, but she's just really busy with her little kids I guess. Tonight we have a lesson scheduled with her at a members house and are trying to have her aunt watch the kids so that she can focus more. Hopefully this will be what she needs and she'll be able to better prepare herself and really feel the spirit.

Things with Jose are going well. he lost his job so he has been looking around for one. He is only smoking 3 a day now so he is making progress. He also told us about a time yesterday when he was driving around looking for a job. he was really frustrated and craving a cigarette really bad, but he had already had three. He took one out and was holding it in his hand about to light it, then he flicked it away before he did, and said a prayer! When he told us that story it made me so happy. I cant believe how much he has been able to change and it was amazing to hear that story. He is beginning to read a lot more and to pray every morning and night. We have basically just been reading with him lately. We will probably start re-teaching some of the lessons soon, but for now we are just reading and he has been doing it on his own too. Reading and praying is the most important thing that we want our investigators to do, becuase that is how they gain their testimonies. We can bring the spirit and teach them everything, but until they read and pray on their own, nothing's going to happen.

Luis is also getting a little more progress. We have been able to have his daughter and her family actually stay in the room and participate in the last few lessons and it has helped him a lot. Before, even if they were home and we were teaching him, they'd say hi and then just leave. Now they are all there and participating and we are all friends and it is a really great atmosphere. Luis has read all the way through 2nd Nephi and is in Jacob now. He is doing great on the reading part, but he hasnt really prayed. We taught him the rest of the first lesson, and it was a really spriitual lesson and I got to challenge him to pray to receive the witness that the book is true. Hopefully he will do it and he will be able to be baptized soon.

On saturday I had the opportunity to go to the baptism of Angeles, Diana (angeles' daughter), and Celia. It was an amazing experince and I am so thankful for their decision. Angeles especially had to make a lot of changes and go through a lot in order to be baptized and it was so great to see her and see how she had been able to do it. It fullfilled the promise that I made to her almost a month ago now that I knew that if she had faith, that the things that were keeping her from being baptized would fall into place. Everything worked out for her. She is now living with her friend, got a car, has a job, and got baptized! This is really something that i am realizing just now, that as a missionary, the lord really does sustain your words when you speak through the spirit. It also taught me a lot about the prinicple of faith in Christ, that like Angeles, faith in christ allows us to overcome whatever challenges we are faced with. When I had hard times this week, I was able to find comfort in the scriptures in Helaman 5:12 especially, and also in 2 Nephi 4:17-21, and in 2 Nephi 22:2. I have loved the opportunity I have had to get to know the scriptures better and to receive revelation for myself and my investigators through them. They truly are the words of God. The baptism itself was amazing, and just like with all of the other previous baptisms, each time they went down into the water and came back up, I felt the spirit so powerfully and it was such and amazing thing to be able to experience.

At the baptism it was also very nice to see some of my old companions (elder pence and elder carr) and also to see some of the Brothers that helped us out A LOt. Brother Wilcox and Brother Ed Smith. it was also nice to get a letter from brother smith this week as well. They are great men and examples to me, and have a lot of really good stories and incites in life that help me, especially as a missionary.

The last thing is that this saturday we had a mission lockdown. Halloween is on saturday in utah and sometimes people dress up like missionaries and do dumb stuff so for safety and other reasons, from 5-10 saturday night we met at our zone building and played basketball and dodgeball and got to watch some approved movies (how to train a dragon and part of cloudy with a chance of meatballs). It was a fun night and a good break, but really really weird. It was weird to not be doing anything, and just felt like a normal saturday night, minus the presence of girls hah.

This sunday our companionship gave a talk in church. I gave mine on faith and repentance. I wasnt too nervous and i gave a pretty good talk. I ended up talking for almost 20 minutes! afterwords, everyone told me that I did a good job and that my spanish was really good. I know I made a lot of mistakes still, but they said they understood everything, and it was nice of them to compliment me. My spanish is coming along and I get better everyday.

Also this week elder brown and mungia have been kind of sick, along with about half our zone ha. I've been fine though which is good, and we've been able to go out every night still so we've been lucky, but have had to do a few weird exchanges. Also it has been warm here this week. Thank you for all of the clothes. We'll see if i get to use them. the last few days I've just been going out in a short sleeve shirt and my suite jacket and have been fine. I usually wear gloves though cause its kind of cold. Also another side note. I got two flat tires this week. That makes a total of 4 in the three weeks i've been here, and then my bike got stolen in my last area. My luck with health is pretty good, but it is about as bad as it can get with bikes ha, but i'll survive.

I love you all and miss you very much. Thank you for all of your letters and for your love and support, it really means a lot to me, and helps keep me going. I love my mission, even here in salt lake city, and have been able to receive so many amazing blessings, and am so greatful for my opportunity that I have to serve and to learn and grow. Have a great week!


Elder Smith

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Week 14

Hello everyone from Salt Lake City. This week has been a great week, and I had a lot of great experiences. The last three days it has snowed and been kinda chilly, but i'm doing alright.

We've had the opportunity the last two weeks to teach a lady named Karla. I dont think I've talked about her before. She is living with a member (less active) and we were invited over one day to meet her. She first just wanted to practice her english with us, but we told her we couldnt do that, but that there were people who could come teach her if she wanted and that we were here just to teach the gospel. She accepted to have us teach her, and she has been a great investigator. She is 31 but has the personality of a 15 year old girl in some ways. She loves to talk and to joke around, but she has been excellent and keeping commitments and reading and praying. She is ready for baptism. We have taught her a lot of times and she brings up random doubts, but mostly just because I think she likes to see us get frustrated. For example, some of her doubts have been, why when nephi and sam were being beat up by laman and lemuel that the angel only said why do you beat your brother. SHe was upset about the singular brother, and why the angel didnt care about sam. also another one is she complains about how it says men (hombres) when talking about all the people of the earth, and why it doesnt say men and women. So in our lessons we have gotten into the habbit of when we read sciptures to always add in men and women ha. She is funny and has a testimony of the book of mormon and of the church. She would have a baptismal date, except she is leaving to go back to mexico on november 2nd, and then isnt coming back until january. She has told us of a goal she has to be married in the temple and to be baptized, so hopefully everything will work out when she gets back.

This week we also met a knew investigator named Indira. She is 21 and has two kids. We saw her one day walking with her baby and her aunt (who is 25 and a member). We talked to them and they are pretty new in the area. The member didnt know where the spanish ward was, and indira when we asked her if she was a member said, "I'm not a member yet"! It was pretty cool and we've taught her three times this past week. The second time we taught her, it was just me and elder brown because elder mungia had a meeting, so I took a pretty leading role in the lesson. We reviewed and read 2 nephi 31 with her, and then I gave her the baptismal commitment and she accepted. She is on date for the 14th of november. It was cool to be able to extend that and have someone ready to accept it. She does have a problem though, that she is starting a job this week where she will work only on weekends from 10 at night to 4 in the morning. This is going to make coming to church kinda hard, so we are going to try and work with her to change her job and get to church for at least an hour until she can. It is really cool to be able to see how the Lord puts those that are ready in our path though. It all happened because a referral we had wasnt home, then we turned around and saw them walking on the street.

Also this week at one of the dinner appointments i ate tongue. It was funny though because it was mixed with steak and we ate them in little tacos, but at the beginning the lady asked me if I knew what it was. It looked like steak to m, but i figured it had to be something weirdish so I asked her what it was. She told me she'd tell me after. I then found out right before I left that I had just eaten like 8 tongue and steak tacos. They were good, but i dont think the tongue would have been too good on its own ha.

I also had a cool experience one night. We were driving with a guy in our ward who was helping us out and we had an appointment fall through. So we had been going around to our potential investigators houses. It was almost time to head back home and we had time for another referral. We were driving towards one and then we got a little lost and so elder brown suggested that we just keep going straight to the second one we had. We agreed, got to the house, and knocked on the door. We began talking to a lady who let us in. she had taken the lessons before and told us that she found out that she was about to lose her house. She said that everytime something bad happened in her life, we showed up write after. She then also told us of when her daughter died in a car accident. It was amazing to see that we had been directed to help this lady. We shared some scriptures with her and I shared 2 nephi 2 about there being opposition in all things and also the part about the savior. I told her that it was hard, but that the savior is always the one who will help us. He is the one who suffered for all of our pains and he is the one that saves us. It was a very spiritual night, and I was thankful for that experience.

I have a lot of other things that I could share, but I will leave it at that for the week. Thank you all for your love and support. I was able to get letters this week from lots of you and I got a package that the loosle family dropped off at the mission office that I am very thankful for, it was very nice. I always love to hear from you all and find out how your doing. I love my mission and am so thankful for the opportunity I have to serve and for all of the amazing experiences I am able to have. I dont really talk much about the hard things, but thats cause they arent really important, or things that I remember. I remember the good things, and I have so much to be thankful for! I love you all and pray for you, and hope that you have a great next week.


Elder Smith

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Week 13

Hello everyone, it has been another amazing week here in the Salt Lake City South mission and in West Jordan at the moment. I love it here and have had many amazing experiences.

This week has been really great. The area that I am in right now is kind of in its growing stage whereas my last area was at its peaking stage, so it was a little hard to adjust and I wish we could have a little more success, but I cant complain and am thankful for the investigators that we have. They are great though they all have they're issues, they have great faith and I really learn a lot from them and am spiritually edified in all of our lessons. I love being a missionary and I am so blessed to be able to be here. I have been able to really learn a lot from my companions and my spanish gets better everyday. I am able to contribute a lot in the lessons and I think that they understand most of what I say, and I understand most of what they say, so though it is frustrating sometimes to not know everything, I am grateful for the help I have received from the Lord in learning this language and for what I can understand. It gives me a different perspective of all of the people who come to america and try to learn english (which is much harder than spanish).

Okay so I want to try and outline some of the major things that happened this week. it will be hard to get everything, but i'll do my best. The first experience I want to talk about is with one of our investigators named Jose. This week we have been teaching him the commandments and it has posed a challenge. He has smoked and smokes about 6-10 cigarettes a day. when he told us he said 5 or 6 but then said he could smoke a whole pack a day so we rounded to that haha. We also gave him the sabbath day holy lesson this week as well. these things are tough for him. He grew up and got caught up in some bad stuff. We are trying to help him to see how far he has come, and how close he is. He is trying to quit right now, but he gave us a month. He said if he couldnt make significant progress in a month, then he wasnt going to try. I promised that he could, but that he needed to trust in the savior. Just like with Lupitas problem (she hasnt smoked still btw!!) we gave him a picture of Jesus to keep with him at all times. I told him that I had no idea how hard it was, but that christ did, and that if he put his trust in him, that he would be able to do it. It wouldnt be easy, but it would be possible. He has been doing well, and when he is with his family he hardly ever smokes. We are calling him everyday (something I learned in the MTC to do) to keep him positive and remembering our message and the savior.

One of the days this week I went on splits with one of the English elders in our same area. We are the spanish elders for two stakes and then there is a companionship of english elders in each stake. I went out and for basically the whole day we just talked to members. I didnt really like that very much, but I figured he needed to do it and so i went with it. We got to talk to a few non members just as we were walking around, but I did most of the talking. After dinner though we had an appointment finally and it was an amazing experience. It was in a members house and we taught an investigator and her boyfriend. The boyfriend was a member who had gone on a mission and grew up in the church but then a few years ago decided the only reason he was a member was because he'd grown up a member so he stopped going. I got to teach in english and it was so easy! not that teaching is easy, but i was just able to understand everything and explain everything and answer all of their concerns. It gave me a good reminder of where I need to be in spanish. The lesson was really good. At the very end of the lesson, the woman had a lot of doubts and was bringing up all of these weird things and I felt prompted to share my favorite scripture mosiah 14:3-6. I told her i had something to say and then read the scriptrure which talks about christs suffering for us. I then bore my testimony that i knew that chirst suffered for all of us personally. That the gospel is really something very simple. The gospel is that we are here on this earth to get a body and to follow jesus christs example and return to our heavenly father and live with them and our families forever. It is only through Christ that this is possible. Its really very very simple, but its not easy. I explained how the only thing she had to do was to read the book of mormon and pray if it was true. And she would receive and answer if she asked with real intent and all of her heart. During this testimony and commitment I felt the spirit very strongly and for the first time in the missionfield I let some tears go in a lesson. It was an amazing spiritual experience and I hope that they both read and prayed aand especially that the man who was a member regained part of his testimony. I'll have to ask the other elders later.

K this is long i'm sorry but i also had a cool experience saturday night. There was a ward party called Dia de Hispanas. It was a day celebrating all of the different countries people in the ward were from. There was lots of food and then a talent show with lots of music and dances. I will send a video but i got to be in one of the dances (we got permission dont worry haha) We did the dance of the viejos (old men). We had masks and canes and sombreros, and it was really funny. the whole place laughed a ton and it went really well.

I also had another really great lesson last night with the Soltelos. It is a couple in their50's. We werent sure what to teach them and me and elder brown had decided to kind of chastise them for not reading or taking it very seriously and reading mormon 9 with them. before we went in elder mungia said he wanted to take it soft and just read the beginning of the book of mormon with them. We consented, but before we went in I expressed that I wanted to know what their testimony was about the book and about our lessons and the church. We went in and talked, had a prayer, and then elder mungia said, "elder smith has some questions for you" I kind of got a smile on my face and was a then asked the questions I felt needed to be asked. She LOVES to talk so in summary and after asking a series of questions we found out that they believed the book of mormon was the word of god. They didnt have any doubts, werent afraid, but werent ready to be baptized. She wouldnt tell us a doubt or reason why. and she kept saying she knew it was true because she felt the same way with the book of mormon than when she read the bible (the spirit!) but we couldnt find out why not and she was a little mad that we were asking and said she would tell us when she was ready so you dont need to ask. We were about to end the lesson and I had been feeling very impressed to share somehting with them. Elder mungia was setting up the next appointment, and then I spoke up again and said I had something to say. I then bore my testimony to them. I told them how much I loved and cared about them. I told them that I knew that the book of mormon was true. I had read and prayed and i received and answer. I knew that god loved them, and that he wanted them to be baptized. I told them for the first time that i was supposed to be in mexico, but for some reason, I am in salt lake city utah. I know i'm here for a reason, and this testimony might be it. I asked them to pray sincerely to ask heavenly father if baptism is what they needed to do, and promised that they would receive an answer and so many countles blessings if they were baptized and showed their faith. I also felt the spirit very strongly in this situation, and i cried here as well. This though, unlike the other one, was all in spanish. I was blessed with what to say, and am confident that those promises I made to them were from God. They felt the spirit, and I even saw the very stoic Hermano Soltelo wipe some tears from his eyes.

I love my mission and am so thankful for the experiences I have been able to have here. I am blessed everyday to see the hard of the Lord in everything, and it is truly inspiring to be here. I have been able to learn so much and hope that I can live up to the expectations that my heavenly father has for me.
I love you all and hope you have an excellent next week.


Elder Smith

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Here's some pics!!

Week 12

Okay, so I have a ton of stuff to talk about in this letter and it is going to be sloppy i'm guessing ha. Firstly, I got transfered...Ya i was a little shocked too when I got the call last tuesday night. So for the past week I have been in West Jordan, Utah serving in the Oquirrh and Oquirrh point stakes and we have one spanish ward. From my last area Elder Thomas got transfered (english speaking area) and Elder Carr got transfered as well, and elder pence is staying in the area. I was a little sad. Our area was on fire and we have a lot of baptisms coming up. I missed one for two of our investigators on friday, but they had one here on saturday too, but i didnt know these people too well but it was still amazing. My new companions are Elder Mungia and Elder Brown. Elder Mungia is from Mexico originally but has lived in arizona for 4 years before his mission. He is a convert of just 3 years and goes home at the end of this transfer. He is a great example to me and is a great missionary. Elder Brown was in Elder Pence's Mtc district and so he has been in the field for 3 months. He is from Michigan and is also a great missionary and example to me. Things are a a little different with them. We wake up at 6 everyday and go run. You all know how much I love running...ha but its okay cause we only run for a shortish distance and then get to a park and then elder brown likes to run for a little longer then we go back. Elder mungia and I usually just sit on these benches and look at the stars and talk for a little bit. We also plan really well, and it has been good. We also do one thing every night that I like a lot and would challenge you to all try to do more. Everynight before we go to bed we share a scripture on faith and then give eachother a compliment of what we noticed that the other two companions did well that day. The first night we did it I thought it was a little bit weird, but I have grown to love it and appreciate it and it really helps strengthen our companionship. I would challenge all of you to just look at all of the people around you (friends and family especially) and give them compliments when you see them or even when you have to come up with them. They make you feel better and they make the other person feel better.

This area is a lot different than my last. My last area was small and all appartments. This area is relatively big and is 100% houses. There's one walmart and then just houses. There's literally not any other store except for like a subway and a chinese restaurant in the same parking lot as walmart. It's weird, but we find people to teach. We have 4 main investigators now. We have a lady named Lupita. She is about 30 and has a son who is almost 8. We have the Soltelos, a couple in their 50s. Jose who is 23 (had his bday yesterday), and then we have Luis who is about 80ish I'd guess. They are all great and I love them and love teaching them. We also go and try and find new investigators a lot. We have a lot of sheets of papers that are from 2005 that had a lot of the spanish people in the area so we have been going and knocking on those. A lot of them have different people, but also a lot of them are still spanish so it works out. Its hard to find people home though, even when we have appointments.

The first day I was here I had the opportunity to give my first blessing in spanish. It was to a little boy who was in his moms arms and crying because he didnt want one haha. It was a little hard to find the words to say, and to rmeember his name and the first part of how to start a blessing. Their names are 4 names long. (first, middle, last, mothers maiden name) and they say their names faster than they say everything else so it just sounds like a;ld;aljgahgk Lopez haha, but I'm getting better. The boy had fallen and had a bunch of bruises all over his face. It was cool to bless him and I knew that the words werent what would fix him anyway so I just tried to bring the spirit and it ended up going better than expected.

With the Soltelos, the sister is having trouble at work because of her boss who bothers her. She says that she just feels angry when shes around her. We have been trying to get her to pray and read and trust in the savior. I've had some very spiritual moments where I've given my testimony about how she can love everyone, and gave a few examples about times when I had trouble with it a little bit. I felt like it helped, but she is still being persistent and is trying to quite now and it is making teaching them harder. she doesnt listen too much and we just end up talking about this problem. We have spent a lot of time trying to plan for our next lesson that we have at 5 tonight. It is durning pday still technically but we wanted to see her soon. We have a really good lesson that we hope will help her, an I am really excited for it. If your read this before then, pray really hard for us and for her to feel the spirit.

Jose is my favorite person we're teaching right now (though I love all of our investigators). He is 23 and has a problem with forgiving himself. He has told us that in his past he lived a life that was really bad. He got married to a mormon girl who I think was inactive at the time, but now we are teaching both of them. He has had mormon friends and missionaries before but nothing. He cant forgive himself. It has been so cool to teach him and see him grow though. I also had the opportunity to give him a baptismal commitment. He said no, for the same reason, but then I asked him to make it a goal to be able to be baptized and that was a little softer for him. Last night was his birthday and my favorite time teaching him. We shared Alma 36 with him. It is when Alma is telling the story of his conversion. We prefaced the story a little bit by saying how alma was really really bad, like as bad as you can get, and then he turned into one of the greatest most powerful missionaries in the scriptures. He was excited and wanted to know how. We went through and read the first 21 verses with him, stopping every 2 or 3 to explain and had them explain what they meant.It made sense to him and i really am excited for him. At the end we gave him some presents. I gave him a picture of Jesus Christ that I had. I wrote something on the back to and I bore my testimony about it. I told him how AMAZING this gospel is for the exact reasons that we'd read about in alma. You can be the worst of the worst and then through christ can be made perfectly clean and free. That is why Christ is so important and central in this gospel. Without him, we are all condemned, but through his we are all saved and given the opportunity to experience more happieness than we can imagine. I also talked about eternal life and families. He has two little boys about 4 and 1 i'd say. I am so excited for him to fully change and be baptized!

Luis is a man whose family (daughters family) are recent converts of a year. We have taught him, and he really reads the scriptures and understands a lot. Lessons with him are great and this last time we met with him, I got to commit him to baptism and this time he said YES! It was way cool and I felt the spiit very strongly. He was unsure about the date that we gave him (oct 31), but he said he would pray and ask, and he meant it. He has really strong faith and I feel the spirit evertime I'm at his house.

Lupita is about 30 and has a 7 year old boy who turns 8 in 2 months. She has roughtly commited to being baptized when he turns 8 which is amazing, but we are working with her on a lot. This last week we had a fast with her that she would be able to talk to her boss and ask for sundays off so that she could come to church and also keep the sabbath day holy. Last night or two nights ago we also taught the word of wisdom. She brought up that she had smoked two cigarros in the last two days and we talked to her about that. She then told us the story that her son didnt like that she smoked and that he thew away her cigarettes. It was funny because right after that I had an impression to share a scripture we'd prepared for Jose but didnt use and then Elder Mungia talked to her and just said "Elder Smith has a scripture he'd like to share with you" and we both got the same prompting. I shared Helaman 15 about the lamanites burrying their weapons because they feared sin and because of their great faith in christ. We commited her to throw out her cigarettes and to also put in their place in her purse a picture of the Savior.

On sunday I also had the opporturnity to take part in the confirmations of Edith and Jasmin (the two that got baptized on saturday). It was a great experience. and I felt the spirit very strongly especially when the words were said "receive the holy ghost".

I love being here on my mission and I am so blessing in many many ways. I have a ton t say and so many amazing experiences but I will leave it there, you can all read my journal later ha. I love you all and miss you very much. Thank you for all of you who sent me letters. I always appreciate it and it brightens my day. Thank you for all of your love and support. Continue to read and pray and to build your testimonies and share the gospel and you will be able to have the same joy that I have here. Have a great next week.


Elder Bradley Smith

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 11

Firstly, My pday is being changed to wednesdays now. and i will have district meeting and get mail on thursdays so that will be different as well just so you all know.

Hello everyone! the last week here has been so great and I am loving it here in good old Salt Lake City South mission. Right now i'm still in Taylorsville. Dad you asked about where i'm living and my companions. I thought I did that in my last email but i cant remember. There is Elder Carr and Elder Pence who are assigned to this mission who have been out one year and 4 months. Elder carr is from Arkansas and Elder Pence is from Iowa. They are both great missionaries. I switch off which on of them I am with each day, and then sometimes I also go out with the other Elder in our Companionship, Elder Thomas. He is a visa waiter like me waiting to go to the Tuxla Gutierez mission in mexico. That is the mission right below me. We live with a member but dont really see him to much. It is a Spanish guy and his wife. We live in their basement but it is very nice because it has its own entry, kitchen, bathroom, livingroomish thing, and two bedrooms. It is not the best place in the world, but is perfectly great for missionaries and we arent there too much anyways. We live a few miles outside of our area so we have to bike in about 15 minutes each day, but a few times this week we've had to walk it which takes a long time. Elder Pence and Elder Carr had their own bikes and then there are just two others at the house from missionaries who left, then one torn apart bike that we use for parts and then one bike with everything but pedals. Tuesday night the bike that I ride got stolen. We are now locking all of the bikes up. It was odd that they stole mine though because though it was the most shiny, it was also the wost bike, but it was probably the easiest to grab or something idk. So anyways later today I am going to try to switch the pedals from our parts bike to the bike that needs pedals and use that hopefully. Also side not to dad. Good job on your golfing. We went golfing last pday and just did 9 holes. I started doing pretty well though and got 4 pars. I got pars on the first two holes then just scattered. It was fun though, even though it was really hot. October first it hit 90 degrees which tied the record for hottest day in october, and now since conference is over we have to wear suites everyday. Today its been pretty cloudy and stormy so it isnt bad, but it might get worse later this week and be way hot.

This week was so great and we are getting a lot of work done, and we also had general conference, which has an interesting story of its own. The first experience I want to talk about is with one of our investigators named Angeles. One night me and Elder Carr were over at her house teaching her and her daughter Diana. WE decided to read Alma 32 with her this visit and talk about faith. We did so and most of the lesson was done by Elder Carr because Brittany, Angeles' 3 year old girl was trying to play with me the whole time. It was fine, but i just couldnt really pay attention at all. Then at one point in the lesson I felt the atmosphere change, and it became much more serious. Angeles had a date for baptism for Oct 9 (now the 15th or 16th) and she needed to move out of her boyfriend and father of her childrens house. She doesnt have a job or much money right now and she explained how she didnt know if she could do it. At this moment I then realized that i had understood everything that had happened in the 20-30 min conversation that had occurred up to this point. This was a first for me and this is all while being heavily distracted by a little girl. I felt like I needed to say something even though I didnt know what would come out or if I could explain what needed to be explained. I began to speak and related her problem with the scriptures that we had read at the beginning of the lesson about faith. I talked about how we have to have faith to get through trials and always rely on our savior jesus christ. I told her that i knew that it was hard, and i didnt know how she felt, but that christ did, and knows that she could do it, and i knew that she could do it. I told her how much faith I saw in her and what a great example she was to me. I then talked about how it took faith and how it was a hard thing to come out on a mission. It is a lot of time, money, energy, I had to leave my family and my friends and the people that i loved to come out to work for two years. It was hard, but i have already received so many blessing that make up for everything. Teaching this lesson was one of those blessings. I felt the spirit work through me and I felt it so strongly. When I was finished I looked up and she had tears in her eyes. She understood everything that I had said, and she then said that she had faith and she needed to exercise that faith by moving, and she knew that she could do it and that the lord would help her. This last night, after many struggles of trying to find her a place to live that worked, she told us that she is going to move in with her friend tomorrow and that she would be ready to be baptized with her daughter and two other of our investigators (Celia and Alejandro) on the 15th. She also explained to us that when she was sad, she would used to go smoke a cigarro, but that the night before she made a promise to never do it again. It is so amazing to see her growth and I am so excited for her.

I've had the opportunity to start to teach a family and to give them baptismal dates. it started out with a broken lesson to a girl named Neeli (19) who has a little girl. Then the next time we showed up, her mother (angelica) was there and was very excited about us. then the next time we showed up the dad (jesus) and neeli's boyfriend (Abram) were there. We taught them all up to the 2nd lesson and gave them all a date to be baptized on october 30th. It was so great. I am not sure so much about Abram though but Angelica is way great and explained the scripture assignment that we gave her in great detail without even refreshing at all. I am excited to keep teaching them. We have an appointment with them later tonight.

On Friday night we had the baptism of the Depaz family. It was amazing! I played the piano for the hymns, and there were three of them who got baptized. Maria, one of the daughters decided she didnt want to so we'll keep working with her. It was such a cool experience. When they went down into the water and came back up they all looked so happy, and the whole time i felt the spirit so strong and just had the biggest smile on my face ever! I had the opportunity to teach them a few times, but I didnt really have anything to do with their getting baptized so I am excited for some of the people that I have worked with more to get baptized as well. I love it!

Conference was crazy. Saturday we went over to a members and watched it and he made us good food and told us cool stories from his mission and NSA work. Then sunday morning was when I was assigned to go. I got a ride to the trax station and there were no other missionaries there. So i got on with some members (an old couple from Sweden) and rode with them. I got to the conference center and still no other missionaries. so i took this couple with me to the willcall to get a ticket and they told me that my mission president should have my ticket. So i then went through a series of frantic calls. I couldnt go back home by myself, I didnt have a ticket to get in, and i didnt have any other missionaries around me. I called my companions, then the Zone leaders, then another Elder, then the Zoneleaders again, then the Assistant to the President. I found out that my district leader had told me the wrong day to go and that I was supposed to go saturday morning not sunday. I was a little mad at him because this was a very stressful situation. I eventually got in contact with the group from my mission going to conference and met up with them about an hour after gettting to the conference center (they were really late), then they had an extra ticket luckily for me to get it, but since they were late, we had to sit at the very top. I havent had the best luck with trying to get into conference. When I went with Elise last April, we tried to go, but accidentally waited in the wrong line and then ended up not getting in even though we had tickets. At the end of conference I was walking out and then Claire and Michael Jeanfreau walk right up the stairs next to me. it was cool to see them and talk to them for a bit and it seems like they are doing great. For some reason it wasnt quite as awkward as with chelsea and sierra. It might have been because I am now back in the real world, or that michael was a guy and there and there werent a thousand other missionaries around me judging me haha. Anyways it is always fun to see people you know. Conference was amazing and i really learned a lot. I wont share too much, just one quote that I really liked. It was in Elder Scotts talk and was "We become who we want to become, by consistently being who we want to become each day" This is something that I try to be as a missionary. I want to be the missionary that the lord needs me to be, and so I pray to try and know what that is and try to be the best I can be and grow as much as possible each day.

It is so great here in the mission, and I am able to learn so much. I am getting a lot of help from the Lord and am starting to understand more and more and be able to explain myself better in Spanish each day. I am excited to continue to serve and to see the changes that the gospel brings about in peoples lives. I love you all and miss you, and hope that you all have an excellent week and are accomplish everything that you set out to do.


Elder Bradley Smith