Monday, January 17, 2011

Mexico :)

Hello everybody. It has been another amazing week here in mexico and things are going great. Firstly you had some questions about what it is like here, and it is basically 100% different and i will try to explain everything. the town that i am in (La Venta) is pretty small, but to walk from one side of the area to the other would be probably about an hour. there is one main road that goes through most of the town and to different towns around it as well and then smaller streets and callejones (alley/side streets) that are smaller with houses on it as well. the area is set up in colonies. basically just groups of streets every so often. we live in el centro with is more or less in the middle of la venta and is where the market is. we live just barely outside from where all the shops and stuff are. there is one road with all of the shops and taxis and bike taxis (camionetas). the market is pretty cool. there are a bunch of clothes shops and then food and small little souvenier shops, that basically just have dollar store things. there isnt anything too cultural about the things that they sell here ha. the thing that is cool about mexico is that there are a lot of holidays. there was christmas, new years, and then another day called dia de los reyes (day of the kings) or january 6th. it basically is just another christmas except the three kings bring toys to the kids instead of santa claus. also they eat this bread the night before and it has little plastic babies inside of it. if you get one of them you have to do something nice or get something for the rest of the people. i think most people do it a little different depending on the house and i'm not too sure about it because we didnt get to celebrate it with anyone. everyone here says hello. everyone we walk by we say buenos días, buenos tardes, or buenos noches, depending on the time. and it is really funny sometimes because they are very specific about the time. if its 1201 and you say buenos días, they will look at you and say buenos tardes accenting the tardes, and then keep going haha. a thing that is kind of funny also here is that i think i've been served hot chocolate here more than in salt lake. its super hot out, even at night and i'll be sweating and then theyll bring in some hot chocolate and be like. ¿oh hace frío afuera no? and i say ITS HOT FOR ME. i'll force down the hot chocolate wiping away the sweat as i go haha. the food here is really good. we eat with the same 4 sisters every week and they just rotate days. usually it is something with chicken and tortillas. the food here isnt too spicy, but the chili here is really good. chili as in salsa. the weather has been better this week except for the first few days. it hasnt been as hot this week, but for three days it rained, and i think i liked the heat better. it rained and doesnt stop. i wore my rain jacket but it just runs off onto my pants and you get drenched. my shirt was dry though. also we have leaks in our apartment so when we got back my bed was a little wet and there wa a big puddle in our room. this caused some problems because then our room became super humid. i sent a letter to elise today and found that all of my envelopes are sealed shut. it was so humid in the room that all the glue got wet and then when it dried out, they all sealed shut. also i thought my backpack was waterproof, but on the bottom it wasnt and my bible got drenched. i've spent the last 4 days drying it out in front of a fan and its still wet. hopefully itll be alright though. hopefully that settles some questions about the place i'm at. if you have any more questions ask them and ill try to answer.

this last week was really good. the first few days with the rain were a little slow, but after that we picked things up and had some really hard working days. we are supposed to get 140 contacts each week, 20 per day. this week, because of the rain, we only had 5 contacts after thursday. friday we got 55 and saturday we got 50 and then we got some more on sunday as well. contacts are just when you talk to someone at their house or on the street and invite them to have us over to teach a lesson. we did a ton of walking these days and also a lot of teaching. we found a ton of new people to teach, and had some really good lessons. this week there were also hard things though. andres was supposed to get baptized but his dad still wants to talk to us before he is baptized and he isnt coming until next sunday now. also alvero almost changed his date to the 22nd of february because thats his birthday, luckily we were able to convince him to keep it to 22 of january. also we met a lot of anti-mormon people this week. last night we talked to a guy and he basically said the same thing over and over about how the book of mormon was an apostetic book and that to find christ we needed to throw it away. i dont mind when people dont accept the message, thats their agency, but when they act like they know what we believe and tell us what we believe it bothers me. i bore my testimony to him that i knew that the book of mormon was a book from god because i read it and i prayed about it and i received an answer the only way we can receive wisdom about spiritual things, from god is through the holy ghost. i told him, you cant tell me this book is not from god and you cant tell me that it is not true if you have not read it and have not prayed aoubt it . we left shortly after ha, but the spirt of contention is bad.

we had some amazing experiences being guided by the spirit and in finding people that are ready. we contacted a man one night who was visiting la venta. he invited us to his house. we went to his house, met his brother, found out that their mother was about to die. we said a prayer for her, and then we taught him the plan of salvation. he accepted a baptismal date for the 5th of february. It was an amazing spirit from the moment that we entered the house, and it caused me to think a lot seeing the woman on her death bed. it made me really appreciate the knowledge we have about where we came from, why we're here, and where we're going and that god has a plan to be together forever and to be happy.

I had a lot of other really great lessons and experiences but dont have any time to write them. we taught a lot of knew people and had a cool experience where we contacted the husband of a family and the wife at two different times within the same week, and then found out they were together when we showed up at the house. the husband was the only one there, but he was very interested and had some very strong morals and was excited to learn about and to read the book of mormon.

I have felt the lords hand in this work so often and am so grateful to be a missionary. i am having experiences here that i could not have anywhere else and couldnt have if i was not a missionary. the instant trust that people have for you and the confidence they have to tell you everything about their life in the first 10 seconds within meeting them is amazing. i am learning so much and am so grateful for these experiences and for the opportunity i have to serve the lord and see my testimony grow. I love my mission.

i love you all and miss you. thank you for your emails and for all of your love and support.


elder smith

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another week in Mexico

hello everyone. i dont have a lot of time this week because we had a zone actiity today that took up a lot of our pday time and we just barely finished laundry which takes forever now, but i´ll try to say everything that i can that happened this week. overall, thinks are going very well. we have put a few more people on date to be baptized, and we have found more people to teach, and my spanish is getting better every day. i can understand a lot more, and am getting used to the accent here, though it is still hard to understand everything that they say, and i have to really focus to get it all. usually i get the gist of what they say and go off of that. when teaching and talking to people normally, i can say what i want a lot easier, and i think more correctly as well. i dont speak very much english with my companion except to ask a word, or occasionally a sentence or two, but we try not to. other than that though, all spanish. nobody here speaks english and nobdy is white. we still get lots of looks from just about everybody, and its funny sometimes. today at our zone activity we had our zone all together which includes me and elder clark nd elder knight from my mtc zone. we had a contest thing where we did different little game things, egg toss was included and some scripture things and some different races and stuff. it was fun and i got to know the zone a little bit better. we also played a litttle basketball after too. the hoops outside the church were at least 11 feet tall though so it was erally hard to shoot anything but a layup, but it was still fun. the only downside is that when you start to sweat here, you dont stop and it doesnt go away. so the whole way home almost until we got on the bus with clima (air conditioning) i was sweating haha. that is the thing that is hardest for me is the heat. i have a very nice tan line from my collar of my shirt, and all the missionaries look really goofy in our tshirts at the zone activity haha.

this week we had a lot of success. we were able to teach a lot and to find a lot of people to teach. alvero is one of our main investigators. he is a 70ish year old man and i cant understand anything that he says because he has an infection in his throat, studders, talks really really fast, and really really quiet. it just sounds like mumbling to me and i pick out a few words. my companion cant even understand all of it. Though it is hard to understand him, he has a ton of faith. one night we taught him lesson two: the plan of salvation. at the end of the lesson we asked him where he wanted to go after this life. he said the celestial kingdom, where we can be with god and christ and our families forever. we then went back and reviewed the 5 points of the gospel that we have to complete to obtain that. faith, he had. repentace, he said he had. then when we brought up baptism, he said he hadnt and said "quiro ser bautisado pronto". (i want to be baptized soon!) it was so awesome when we heard him say this and we gave him a date and he will be baptized in two weeks. another occasion with him, at the end of the lesson he told us that before we started teaching him, he was really sad because of all of his injuries with his body, but now that he has had lessons from us and learned about the gospel he feels happy all of the time and he doesnt mind the probelms quite as much, and he thanked us for what we have done and for helping him. and then just a few nights ago he told us that he prayed for the pain in his arm to go away which he has had forever, and he said that he hasnt felt the pain since. He has a ton of faith and is an amazing example to us and i have been able to feel the spirit in his house so much.

we are also teaching a boy named andres who will be baptized hopefully this week. we have to talk to his dad. his baptism will also be somewhat of a miracle. we have been waiting to be able to baptize him forever! he lives with his aunt who is a member but his dad has never given him permission. at an fhe one night his cousin came up to us and said andres´s dad said that he can get baptized completely out of the blue. we asked andres and he said yes and we set the date for the 8th right then. it didnt wokr out because his dad wants to talk to us and its a little complicated, but andres will be baptized this week or next week.

this week has also had its down side, well just harder times. the couple that we have been teaching crystal and pedro. I love them and they are awesome and have a little baby girl who is about 1 who loves to come play with all of the random stuff around me and is lots of fun. we were planning on giving them a date one night. we had an amazing lesson 2 with them and i was able to bear my testimony very powerfully to them about the plan of salvation and about eternal families. they really liked the idea of eternal families and the spirit was very strong in that lesson. from the very start when we sang families can be together forever to the end where we all bore out testimonies. the next lesson went well also but at the end they said how they werent ready for baptism. it was sad, especially when we heard their reasons. i think that they will still come around, but they might take a little more time. the wife is a lot more ready than pedro, but i think that they will be very strong members one day.

ah i dont have much time but a ton of stories. a cool story about planning really quick though. is this week we taught a less active lady who has a big problem. elder tanner asked me in planning that morning what chapter i thought we should read with them. immediately 2 nephi 2 came to mind and that was the one we ended up reading. i didnt know her at all or anything about her situation. It was perfect for everything going on in her life, and then the lesson went amazing and had a very storng spirit. it was another testimony to me that this truly is the work of the lord and he directs all of our actions.

my birthday was pretty much a normal day. nobody really knew or anything here and i definitely didnt announce it haha. at the end of the day me and elder tanner ate a twinkie ish type thing, and thats about it haha. on sunday also i tought the gospel principles lesson and it went really well, though i was a little nervous about talking for an hour straight in spanish, but it was really good and i think everybody learned a lot

well i got to go, but i love my mission here, and things are going excellent.


elder smith

Monday, January 3, 2011

2nd week in Mexico

hello everyone. Well it has been a whole week in mexico already and it has gone by fast and a lot has happened. First things first, i am in the city of La Venta. i´m not exactly sure where it is, but i think it is about 45 min west of villahermosa. the city is very small. we live in a one room "appartment" here that is pretty nice. it is one big room, tile floors, two beds, a refridgerator, a washer type thing, and a bathroom with a shower, toilet, and sink all in one small room. It is pretty nice compared to most peoples houses though so i cant complain at all. we live in the centro or downtown area, but the downtown is only about a block of different stores and then the rest of the area is houses. the area is pretty big and we take taxi´s sometimes up and down the main road to get to different parts of the city. the taxi´s arent too crazy here because theres only one lane, but its def different than the US. my companions name is Elder Tanner. He is from spokane, washington and has 23 months in the mission. he gets home the 28th of january, which means that i have to know the area well enough in 3-4 weeks to be able to take over when he leaves. That is going to be really tough, but hopefully i´ll be able to do it. the streets in the neighborhoods are really hard to follow and there are a lot of alleyish type things and different paths and stuff, but i´ll try to learn it the best as i can. he is a good missionary and has really good spanish and teaches well and is obedient, so i am happy. he is helping me with my spanish and I am trying really hard to be better. it was hard teaching in english right before getting here, but it gets better everyday and hopefully soon I will be able to communicate without problems.

This week there have been some fun things that have happened. New Years we went over to the other two people in our districts house and spent the night. there are just 4 elders in our district and my comp is the district leader. elder clark from my mtc district is in the other area so it is nice to still be together with him. on new years we didnt go to sleep on time because it was way too loud. everyone gets together in their families nd blast music from 7 at night to 9 the next morning. they also light off nonestop fireworks all ngiht. the majority of the fireworks are just these popper things that they light and then go off and just sound like a loud gun shot. at midnight they take this jumpsuit filled with paper and fireworks that they have made look like a man and then light it on fire. It was pretty funny to watch the man on fire and explode with fireworks.

Also this week while tracting i had an accident where i ran into a cement block. It was sticking out of the side of the wall like a foot and a half right at head level and I hit it pretty square on. It didnt hurt too bad but was a bit of a shock. Luckily we were close to our house so I got my companions little towel thing to put on it and then we passed a few people that I think probably thought we just got mugged or something, that gave us some weird looks, but i got cleaned up quick and then didnt have a headache really or anything after, but it was a weird feeling for the rest of the day.

We are teaching a lot of really great people. We didnt have too many people when i first got here, but we have been working hard to contact people and have three people on date for the 22nd of january now! we are trying to build our teaching pool and are trying to talk to everyone on the street. We have had some really cool experiences in lessons and have been teaching a lot. I am getting better at my spanish, but it will be a process. Also this week we had a zone conference. The president got up on the stand a little before it started and asked me to play prelude music and then all the music for the zone conference. i wish i knew more hymns by heart, but it went pretty well. also he got up and had all of us new missionaries sing a song for everyone that he had just had us practice once in the car one day. its not a song i know in english by was called se que me ama el senor. it is a good one and i like it a lot. the president played piano for that one. he is a great president and jokes around with you but it very spiritual. he had us sing it once for everyone, but then said that one was practice and told us to come over. he then told just us to really sing with all of our hearts and bear our testimonies when we sang and he teared up while he said it. We sang it agian and it was much better. This mission is much more obedient than my other one and i am really excited to keep working hard here. There are challenges, but i know that i am given the help that i need. this is the lords work, and as long as i keep myself a worth servant of him, i will be given the ability and the spirit to accomplish his work. I have had many opportunities to bear my testimony to people ehere this week, and also to give the experience of the first vision. we have taught a ton of first lessons which is the foundation of our church. it has helped strengthen my testimony as i testify to others and say that I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ and the only way that we can return to him. I love this gospel and i love these people. there is no happier feeling than hearing the words come out of someones mouth saying that they will be baptized. We taught a man named alvero yesterday where after we taught him the plan of salvation he said. ¡quiero ser bautisado pronto! I felt the spirit and felt the joy of this work when he said that and know that he is doing what his savior wants.

Dont worry about me here, everything is going great and i am loving my mission.


elder smith