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