Monday, February 28, 2011

Baptisms in the Ocean!

Hello everyone.
I had another really great week here in la venta. i attached a few pictures so that you can see what ive been up to, but ive had some really amazing experiences. tuesday we had our interviews with the president. It was a great opportunity for me to learn more from him and to see more how i need to be as a missionary. We got there and waited for a little while for the president to get there. he showed up and shared a quick message with all of us that was really powerful in how we need to always have the spirit with us and see gods hand in all things. He talked about how things as mundane as laundry are important when we think about why we do the laundry. we wash the clothes we work in to serve the lord. he got choked up talking about laundry! he is a really great mission president and i have learned so much from him in the little time i have had to be around him. After his message i was the first one to go in to interview with him. We went into a room he had me say a prayer and then he asked me how my spanish was and then told me he could tell that it has gotten a lot better from my letters. he then said that he was going to sing a hymn and then i would bear my testimony about the atonement. It was interesting because the last interview with him, he had me sing for him ha. i asked the other missionaries and he doesnt sing with them or have them sing. he finished and then i bore my testimony. it was a really great experience and the spirit was very powerful in the room. i read my scripture in mosiah 14:3-6 and then bore my testimony. I teared up and so did he. He then told me to keep working hard, and if i kept doing so that my testimony in the atonement would be even more strong at the end of my mission. and that was my whole interview. it was very powerful and a great experience, but different than any other interview ive ever had. he didnt ask me any questions about my area hardly or investigators or worthiness or my companion hardly. it was interesting but great none the less.
after the interview he drove me and my companion back to our area and dropped the other elders in our district off in our area as well. and in the car ride back we practiced contacts. It was a great experience and i learned a lot and elder Sanchez and i have changed the way that we do contacts from this. we now ask a lot more questions and have them talk more. we try to have inspired questions so that the person can feel the spirit in the contact. before it was more of a presentation where we were the only ones who talked and then at the end asked if we could go to their house. it has been a better way of finding those that are prepared to accept the gospel, but takes a little longer as well.
this week i also had a really great experience in my studies in the morning. i hope that all of you are trying to read your scriptures for at least a little bit everyday. it is something that has helped me a lot, and i have been able to learn so much. this last week i finished the book of mormon another time. i hadnt had much time last week to do much chronological reading in my studies but i had two chapters left for a few days. Wednesday i had the chance to read the last two. at the beginning i said a prayer asking heavenly father to give me another witness that the Book of Mormon really is the word of god and is true. In my prayer i really tried to have what we need to receive an answer: sincere heart, real intent and faith in christ. Before the prayer i was a little worried about reading this last part and testing this promise of moroni. I was thinking, "what will happen if i dont receive an answer? i have received an answer before and have a testimony, but what happens if this time i test this promise and don´t feel anything. i am a missionary and am testifying everyday to many people that this book is true. this book is the keystone to our religion because if its true, this is the church of Christ in its fullness, but if its not true, this is just another church that teaches you to be good." i was very worried about this, but i tried to force out these thoughts and have more faith. i began to read and i read the first three words. "my beloved son..." When i read these words i felt the spirit. in this part of the book of mormon it is the prophet Mormon writing a letter to his son Moroni. I felt that it really was this letter, that it was something really, that actually happened, not just some story. I kept reading this chapter and felt good the whole time, but didnt feel anything really powerful. I then started reading chapter 10 (the final chapter in the book of mormon). i read verse 1, 2 and 3 and then i read verse 4. when i read this verse i felt the holy ghost powerfully through my whole body. I was almost surprised how direct the answer had been. i had doubts but i had faith that i could receive an answer and i received my answer from god that this book really is true. I felt it and i knew that it was an answer as clear as would have been words, that this is a book of god, a holy volume of scripture, and is the fullness of the gospel of jesus christ. This was a truly amazing experience for me and has helped me in my testimony and when testifying and challenging others to read and pray about this book. i have a strong testinmony that this book has the power to change lives for the better and bring people unto christ. anyone who has a real desire to know the truth and is willing to read and pray to find out, will receive and answer that the book is true and of god. i have seen it in my own life and real conversion and have seen it in the lives of many people here on my mission.
also this week was really amazing because we had two baptisms! and was very special for me because i got to baptize Cristal who i have taught from the beginning and was one of my first lessons when i got here to mexico. the other baptism was a boy named jesus who is a brother of the two girls who were baptized two weeks ago. It wouldnt be a true baptism though if there werent problems beforehand. this one had its fair share of problems. we showed up friday night to start filling the font because it takes abuot 12 hours to fill. we cleaned it out and then turned the knob for the water, and nothing came out. we left it turned on all night in hope that it would come on at some point, but when we came back in the morning there still was no water. the president showed up as well and we had been using another well trying to fill it in time, but we only had about 5 hours until the baptism and he told us the well would trun to muddy water soon. he said we could do it early in the morning sunday or we could go to sanchez magallanes and do it in the ocean. So obviously we chose to do it in the ocean. We all went in a van and the presidents car and when we arrived hna cristal sseemed a little sad. she then told us that her husband was mad with her and was saying things like she didnt know what she was doing and she had an argument with him. we then asked her if she was going to get baptized still and she said "well i wouldnt be here if i wasnt" she said she knows its the right thing to do and she has a rock solid testimony! it was such an amazing experience. We had the meeting on the beach and i gave a talk on baptism that went well nad elder sanchez on the Holy Ghost and then we had the baptisms. It went well. the water was warm, and it was still light out just before the sun was about to set. i said the prayer and then baptized her and a wave came and she fell a little bit, and i had to pull her up haha, but it was good the first time and everything. Elder sanchez baptized jesus and it went well too. It was an amazing experience to baptize the hna cristal. i have seen her testimony grow and have seen the power of the book of mormon in her life. she started out very unsure and then little by little gained her testimony. I felt the joy of this missionary work. i also got to hear her bear her testimony. she was nervous and it was simple, but she felt that it was true and i felt the spirit very powerfully and had a huge smile on my face the whole whole time.


Elder Smith

Monday, February 21, 2011


Hello everyone. I dont have a ton of time today but i want to write something really fast. this week was great and everything is going really well. my spanish is a lot better, and i have really only been speaking spanish in my time here and its hard to switch into english without a spanish accent or using spanish words. i also think a lot more in spanish. i can understand and communicate a lot better, though there is a lot that i am missing still.

to answer some of your questions. most missionaries our out on the city of villahermosa. i dont know how many are there but there is one zone in villa and the rest are outside of villa. the mission boundaries are all of tabasco and a part of varacruz. my zone is in varacruz, but i am in tabasco. i went into varacruz today though, in coatzacoalcos to buy some stuff. i bought myself some late birthday presents ha. i bought a really cheap classical guitar and a case and extra strings and a capo and the guitar is used but not too bad. i played it on the bus ride back to my area haha, and it is going to help me a lot to relax at nights. i have missed music A LOT in my mission.

this week i had some really great lessons. i had another lesson with alvaro. his daughter also was in the lesson. we watched the joseph smith movie amd it was really powerful. he told us at the end that he felt the spirit in the same way that he had before when he prayed about the prophet joseph smith, but he still doesnt want to be baptized. there is a lot of pressure from his family to not. but we will continue with him.

we also have been teaching this family that is call the lopez's. they are really great and i love teaching them. apart from the smallest boy named fransico. he is 5 and very bad ha. the first time we went over, he threw a piece of meat at me and it landed on my white shirt. it came out but still. the second time we went over to set up an appointment and he came out with a bottle. i thought it was empty...turns out it was full of baby powder and i got covered from my head to my waist. i am much more careful around him now though and nothing more has happened to me. they are great and very excited about the gospel and they will be baptized this week and next week.

this week the hna cristal was supposed to be baptized, but she had the interview and is going to wait one week. she told me that she wants me to baptized her though and i am really excited for that. she is really amazing and i have seen such a huge change in her. when we first started teaching her, she was very, very skeptical and not the most ideal investigator, but she was willing to test it. she read and she prayed, and she got her answer that it was true. she did her part to the best of her ability and the lord blessed her with the answer and with these amazing changes in her life.

this week we also started teaching this 10 year old boy named josue. he is a different kind of investigator than any other that i have ever had. I really really need to help him. i have known of him since i got here because he is always out on the streets and always talks to us. one day when we were talking to him later at night we asked him what he was doing. he said nothing, and my companion asked where his friedns were, and he said he didnt have any. "only you guys" referring to us... at this moment started when i felt the need to help him. we set up an appointment with him, and say him another night. this night he told us about his job. his mom took him out of school and he works from 6 in the morning to 7 at night cleaning a meat shop and makes 30 pesos a day (basically 2 dollars). he makes about 30 cents an hour... we went to his house sunday morning to bring him to church and he said he couldnt go. we asked him why and he opend the door. there was a baby about 1 year old on the bed sleeping. he told us his mom left two days ago and wasnt going to be back until today (monday). his mom left a ten year old and a one year old alone for 3 or 4 days with 50 pesos to buy food. he needs a lot of help. we taught him the first lesson and it is hard for him to understand and he has some a.d.d issues too but we are going to help him, and talk to the president also to see what he can do. he is in the hands of the lord and we are going to do everything that we can.

this is a summary of my week. it was a bit hotter this week and was in the 90's most days here and is going to get hotter. in may it is going to be 116!! i will probably die, because i'm always sweating a ton here in all of the clothes we have on. I love it here and am learning so much. my companion and i are working very hard and are leading the zone right now. hopefully well be able to keep finding people and baptizing but i know that they are blessings and that we receive them when we do our part. i love you all and miss you very much. we have interviews with the president tomorrow and so i will get mail if there is any from the last time i got letters, but it might be too short of a time, but we'll see. I love you all and miss you and hope that you have a great next week. i am doing great here.

love elder smith

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Some Pictures

Here are some pictures to go along with the letter from this week!


Hello everyone! another week has come and gone, and there were a lot of really great things that happened this week. i had a cough for the past two weeks from all of the cold and rain, but its just about better, but its been a little frustrating. it has been really cold here for the past two weeks and a lot of rain. its been a nice break from all of the heat and i´ll probably miss this weather in a month when its 100 or more degrees.

this past week i had a lot of really great experiences. the first that was really great was that i finally got to baptize. we had three baptisms and i got to baptize andres and a girl named lupita and my companion baptized a girl named rosa maria. It was a really great day this saturday but there were also some problems before. we started filling the faunt the night before and in the morning got a text from a member that it wasnt even half full yet. we arrived at the church and looked and it wasnt very full at all. i looked down at the drain and the spicket had been leaking all night. we needed to turn the thing harder with plyers to close it all the way. we did that and eventually found another hose and then filled it up enough to baptize. andres is the one that i taught with elder tanner and we were just waiting for his dad to come and sign the baptismal form, but he wanted to talk to us in person first. it was really great and a miracle that he could finally be baptized. the other two girls are daughters of a woman that i found with elder tanner his last week. they still dont have all of the knowledge but we are working hard with the whole family to try and get them all baptized and hopefully a year from now sealed together forever!

also this week i got to go to villahermosa and got to see elder thompson and elder plummer from my mtc district and also the other 4 elders that were in salt lake with me. we had to go and sign our visas and we got a card also for identification. the only bad thing about this trip was that it took basically two days. we all met up in coatzacoalcos and then with about 8 elders left for villahermosa that is about 3.5 hours away by bus. we got to the bus station in villa and had to wait a long time for someone to come get us. the next day we signed our visas and after that i got to eat subway! it was really expensive but it was fun to eat american food again ha. then we came back and i got back to my area about 7 at night. it was really great to get to see all of my friends from the mtc and they are doing great and it was fun now that we can all speak spanish, mas o menos ha.

this week i also had a really cool experience with a man named alfonso. he is an interesting investigator. the first lesson that we talked to him, he told us that he had already checked two other churches but was still looking for the truth, and he said maybe god sent us to him and he was ready to learn. for some reason though he doesnt want to read the book of mormon because he says he has to know the bible first, and he wont go to chruch because he says hes not ready. regardless we had some good lessons with him. one night he posed the question of that he wants to do good but if we know what is good, why do we still sin and have bad things. immediately i thought of 2 nephi 4 and nephi´s lament. i read a few verses for him and at the end of the lesson he told us how it was really amazing how we could find an answer for his question so close and from the scriptures. hopefully he will get over his doubts and be able to be baptized soon.

we have a lot of people preparing for baptism right now. one of which is hermana cristal. we have been teaching her for a while now and she is way great. she is the one with a little baby girl that is really fun. this past week we had a really good lesson with her about keeping the sabbath day holy and it turned into a conversation about whether she was ready for her baptismal date for this coming saturday. it was really amazing and as i bore my testimony to her about how she was ready i felt so so happy. i really have a love for the investigators here and i am so excited when i see the changes and the happiness in their lives. she is very ready for her baptism and as i was talking about the blessings and the changes in her life i felt the spirit and the joy of this work so powerfully. i am very blessed to be here and to be a missionary. i have been able to see miracles and see the hand of the lord in this work and i have receieved so much help. my spanish isnt perfect but it is gettting a lot better and i can teach everything pretty well and understand most things. there are only a few times now where i really feel like i wish i could speak spanish as well as english, and those times are the times when i want to basically speak very forcefully with people that are closed and its probably better that i dont say anything anyway. I am happy and loving my time here in mexico as a missionary and am so greatful for all of the blessings that i have. i hope that you all have a great next week and have a great valentines day as well.

elder smith

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More of Mexico!

hello everyone hope that everything is going great there. thank you for all of your letters and everything. This week was a great week for me but also had its challenges. i will start off with a funny story that happened monday. we went to teach these people that we had contacted a few days earlier and set up an appointment. it was two ladies. one was like 18 and the other a little older with a baby. we taught the first lesson (the restoration) and it went pretty well, but then we asked them if they had any questions. she had a few questions in the middle of the lesson about the seventh day stuff, but we tried to answer that with that if joseph smith was a prophet he received revelation from god and that all they had to do was pray to know if joseph smith was a prophet. the 18 year old kept asking questions and little by little the questions became less and less about the lesson and more and more about me. she said she recognized me from a movie and then made a comment about how she liked my last name a lot more than spanish names, and then made the comment that i wouldnt mind having the last name smith.. i understood most of the things she said but i didnt understand this last part and so i didnt know she said that until my companion and i were talking about it after hah. it was kinda awkward and we havent had another lesson with them ha. i get a lot more looks and comments now that i´m the only white person here. and for some reason i always am by this one family with these three girls that always say every word they know how to say in english everytime i pass by. their vocabulary isnt too extensive though, but they think its the most hilarious thing in the world to say "how are you" over and over again haha.

though i´m the only white person here in la venta i had a very interesting experience the other day where there were more! we were checking for one of our investigatores at their house and they werent there, but outside the house was two trucks and a trailer and it was from alberta canada. i looked lots of times to double check and sure enough it was alberta canada. a little later these two old ladies walked out and i talked to them in english and it was really weird. i told them that i had family from there and one of them even knew where champion was haha. the conversation was really, really bad. i havent spoken much english since coming here, and basically zero english with my new companion other than to say a word or something. i am so used to talking to people that i dont know in spanish that i literally couldnt speak english. i said a ton of spanish words and forgot a lot of simple words in english and it was really bad. but it was cool to talk to people from canada. the husband of of our investigatos was fixing their truck. their transmission broke on the highway and they were stranded here for a few days but are off again. they said they were going a lot further south even. its a big road trip.

This week i had another interesting experience with alvaro. we had a really good lesson with him for the most part on wednesday. i had good scriptures and everything for him, and i was trying to help him see the testimony that he had. at the end of the lesson i asked him to kneel down with us and to pray and ask for an answer about the book of mormon. we all kneeled down and he said the prayer. when he asked the question "please help me to know if the book of mormon is true" i felt the spirit so strongly in all of my body. i received another witness that the book of mormon really is a book from god for all of us. it is a book of scripture that was translated by the prophet joseh smith which means that joseph smith really saw god the father and jesus christ in that grove of trees when he prayed and that jesus christ restored his gospel through him and that this is the only church of jesus christ with his priesthood authority. I felt this very strongly. at the end of the prayer (15 min, alvaro has to rest his voice a lot in prayers) alvaro told us that he didnt feel anything. i then talked with him about how he had received an answer about the prophet joseph smith and that he had received an answer about the book ofmormon before and that he needed to overcome the doubt that satan is giving him. as we talked he told us that he believed that what he had read so far in the book of mormon was true, and then as we were talking about baptism, his daughter burst in from the other room and started yelling and talking to him, but everything was directed at us. she made some pretty direct comments and its probably a really good thing that my spanish arguing isnt perfect yet or i probably would have been very very, bold... anyways she then stormed out of the room and the spirit was completely gone and so very shortly after that we left as well. these are the comments his family is making when we're there and i can imagine that they are probably worse when we are not there. alvaro wasnt at church this sunday and i am very very worried about him, but i fasted for him and have been praying a lot and hope he will be able to overcome this challenge.

this past week we found some good people to teach and have a few different baptisms lined up. one thing that was really great that happened yesterday is that andres´ dad finally came. the family sent us a message and we went over there right after and then talked to the dad. he had a few questions for us, but nothing too big. he asked me how old jesus christ was when he was baptized, and i thought he was going to try to argue that andres wasnt ready. i then told him 30 and then waited for his response. he then said oh, and then said well andres is only nine. i then explained about the age of accountability and then related a few experiences about andres and that he was ready, and understands everything. i told him that andres would be a great example to his other two younger brothers and that this baptism would be something as a foundation for his life. the dad accepted that and then signed the paper and gave his permission. i am going to get to baptize andres this tuesday or wednesday or thursday! we will also have two other baptisms this saturday and have a lot more lined up for the rest of the transfer that i am very excited for.

i am working hard here and trying to improve my spanish and to complete all of the goals of the mission. i am very close to completing with the mission standard numbers, but am missing the baptisms. i think that things will start to go up from here. we are finding people to teach and have been giving lots of dates, and trying to get people to church, but this is the main problem right now. i love you and miss you all and things are going great here.


elder smith

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Companion!

hello everyone. another week has come and gone and this week really was amazing. I have been greatly blessed to be here and things have been great. My new companion is named elder jared sanchez and is from puebla mexico. he has only been out 5 months in the mission and i have only been out a little over 6 months. it is fun because we're both excited to work hard and also because i get to lead a lot more and speak a lot more in the lessons. i have all of the relationships with the investigators and everything so i do most of the planning and phone stuff and everything. its a good experience for me and i'm learning a lot. I felt like i received a ton of help this week from my heavenly father with this language and also in having success. we put 10 people on date this week to be baptized and taught a lot of lessons and found some new people as well. most of the people that we put on date were people that i found last week with elder tanner. i am a little worried about some of the people whether they really have the desire that they should, but i am going to work hard with them and try to make sure that they are ready. we had a lot of success this week though and the president called me today to tell me to keep it up and keep working hard and that he expects a lot out of us here this transfer. that was way cool, and i am going to work really hard in order to acheive everything that we can. my spanish is getting a lot better, and i felt a lot more comfortable in lessons and everything. it is still hard to understand everything, but i'm pretty good in lessons because were talking about the gospel and my gospel vocab is really good. my grammar is getting better and bettter every day, but it definitely takes a lot of patience and i'm trying to work on that.

there were a few things this week that were funny that i wanted to share. the first one was that I stick out a lot more now that i'm the only white person in la venta. its really weird to be the minority and i get a lot of comments/looks and stuff like that. also lots of people try to talk to me in english. it's usually really bad and just like "how are you" and then they all laugh... ya haha. some other funny things are that my comp saw my drivers license picture and didnt believe it was me with all of my hair and said i looked like i was from a movie, and now he calls me elder brad pitt haha. another funny thing was that a mom threated her kid to make her behave with a chili. like if the kid kept being bad she was going to have to eat a chili haha. i also saw a house that was flooded and needed a boat to get into and also in a hoiuse that we eat at there is a mark on the wall about 4 ft up from a flood that they had a few years ago. the wet season is going to be interesting... also during one of our contacts while i was talking saying "we're missionaries and representatives of jesus christ and want to share a message with you" she was taking pictures of us, and it was weird ha. there were a few other things but i dont have much time.

today we went to the area of the other elders in our district and played soccer on the beach. it was really fun and way cool to finally see the beach. the water was really warm and there were a bunch of spear fishermen out too. i really wanted to go swimming, but i resisted the temptation and made it back here. and i found a whole sand dollar.

this week there were a lot of really cool experiences but the one i'd like to share this week is one that i had with alvaro. he missed his baptism the other week but i have met with him a few times since then. he is having a lot of pressure from his family. I taught him a whole lesson basically by myslef. we went in and started talking about why he hadnt recieved his answer about the book of mormon yet. i talked to him for a long time about this and also the amazing part is that i was given all of the help i needed so that i could understand him. usually icould count on one hand how many words i could understand in a lesson and this time, with a little work, i understood just about everything and was able to help him. i felt the spirit very powerfully in this lesson. it started out when i told him how much he ment to me, and then after he had told me that he wanted his baptism later and later, i shared with him how i felt about it. i said that he meant so much to me and i felt like he wasnt recognizing the temptations from satan. he had already received his answer about all of these things and was forgetting. i shared with him that he needed to have the strength to make the decision and that he would be able to recieve everything that he needed. i felt as though he was going to push the day more and more until he would say one day that he wasnt going to be baptized. i shared my testimony about how he really needed to pray and make the decision and that i knew he could have an answer because he has so much faith. he has seen miracles. i then shared with him my experience with obtaining my testimony about the book of mormon. his wife and also one of his daughters who is really against us was in the room. i shared with him, that i had received numerous witnesses that the book of mormon was true. especially on my mission, but one time in particual about a year ago at school is when i say i really got my strong testimony that the book is true and joseph smith is a prophet. i was reading and praying everyday for a long time for an answer, and then one day when i was alone in my room reading the scriptures, i read one verse, and the spirit hit me so powerfully. i knew at that moment that joseph smith did not write this book. that this is a book writen by prophets and are the words of god for each one of us. and because i know the book of mormon is true i know that htis is the only church of jesus christ with all of the priesthood pwer and authority of christ to perform the ordinances of salvation. when i shared this with alvaro i flet the spirit so powerfully and started to cry a little bit. i know that he flet the spirit and he told me with a very sincere voice that he was going to read and pray. i hope with all of my heart that he can receive that answer and know that the book of mormon is a book of god as i do.

It was an amazing experience and i felt the lord working through me to say what needed to be said. I have been so blessed and i love my mission here. it is hard, and everyday i feel like my body is going to break down, but i'm given all of the energy that i need to make it everyday and i have gained a stronger and stronger testimony everyday that this is the lord's work and that as i stay obedient i can be his instrument to bringing many souls unto him, regardless of the language or situation or person.

i love you all and miss you very much. i'm grateful for each one of you in my life and hope that you all are doing great. i'll talk to you again in another week.


elder smith