Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Easter!

hello everyone and thank you for your emails. i had another great week here in mexico and have had some really great experiences. i dont have a ton of time to write but ill try to address everything and say a lot. This week we found out about cambios. i thought it was a joke at first that i was going to receive a new missionary and i thought i was going to go to villahermoa instead of elder sanchez and that he was going to get a new missionary. Well it wasnt a joke and it was real haha. my new companion is named elder watts and he is from fairview, utah. He is a good elder and is willing to work and he likes a lot of the same things as me (sports, guitar) so we get a long well. The only thing is that he is a new elder straight from the mtc, which means that he cant speak spanish. I have really felt the help of the lord this week in all of our work. I was telling my branch president about benchmarks in my spanish. two weeks into the mission i had an experience with the gift of tongues with angeles where i was able to bear testimony in spanish that she could understand and that i was able to understand everything that she said. it was powerful and the spirit was there. i slowly progressed in my time in salt lake and learned a lot, and then i arrived here in mexico where i once again grew very fast in my spanish. then when elder tanner left to his house and i had to talk a lot more than before, i was helped again to improve when it was necessary. then i improved a lot with elder sanchez. and again this week i felt a major improvement in my Spanish now that i need to have better Spanish. i understand basically everything that everyone says and can explain and say just about everything i need to. It is an amazing experience to have to see how the lord really does qualify us for his work in our own weakness, and he makes us strong and powerful so that we can accomplish the work that he gives us. I am looking forward to making strides in what i am able to do as a missionary in teaching with the power of the spirit and in finding those those that are ready to accept this restored gospel.

This week for easter things really were normal. i actually forgot it was easter until i walked outside sunday morning. there's really no indicator and there's no easter bunny or anything here, so there werent decorations. In church on easter the president sent me a text right before the sacrament asking me to give a talk. i prepared something quickly and then as i was finishing preparing the person right before me started using the same quotes from gospel principles as i was going to use. i in like 30 seconds had to change my topic, but it went pretty well. i talked about the atonement and the savior and tied it into easter a little bit.

another funny story is that last night we were walking in the streets. we contacted these people in a park and then as wee were walking away a big group of people behind us whistled at us to come over. usually big groups of people arent the best situation, but we were too close to ignore it. we walked over to find the entire police force of la venta or like 7 guys. they asked us questions and i talked to all of the police here in la venta for 10 min. it was a good conversation and i have a lot of new friends for protection now so no worries mom haha.

also a picture i sent is of my sandals. they've been broken for a while and ive been just sliding around in them haha.

this week i had a great experience with Cruz Alberto. He is a boy of 17 years and is a son of Catalina (some of her other kids have been baptized). when we have gone over to their house before, cruz was almost always drunk and trying to say swear words in english and never really wanted anything with the church. After a while of this, he changed jobs and started working very close to our house. everyday we would pass by and he would wave and say hi, and we would wave and say hi back. after a while of this he started saying that he was going to come to church, but then never really did. then one week he said it and we reminded him everyday of the week and we went over to his house sunday morning to find him ready to go. He came to church and we started teaching him, and he changed 100%. He has a testimony very strong in jesus christ and has a desire to follow him. in three weeks he changed his life. he was on a path to become a drunk really, and he changed course and now is strong on the path to lead to eternal life. He denied opportunities to drink with friends and avoided situations, and he told his boss that he doesn't work on sundays when his boss said he needed him to work. He is very strong and i had the opportunity to baptize him this last week. I also participated in his confirmation and i felt the spirit very powerfully in both situations. I know that this is the true church and that the power of the priesthood is the power of god. i8 am excited to see cruz continue to progress and to prepare for his mission in one year.


elder smith


Hello everyone and thank you for your letters. this week was a really great week with a lot of great experiences. the biggest news is that there are transfers this week. tonight i will be going to coatzacoalcos and in the morning really really early i will go to villahermosa to be trained on how to be a trainer! im going to receive a new missionary straight from the mtc and going to stay in la venta for at least one more transfer. Elder sanchez got transferred to villahermosa an will be with another missionary from the US who has a few months in the mission i think. i still dont know anything about my companion. i think he will be mexican but im not sure. i´m a little worried about everything and training...but i am going to be very obedient and trust in the lord and i know that we can have a lot of success here. i had a really great experience with elder sanchez and we are very close friends. it is sad to part ways with him, but i learned a lot from him and know that he will continue being a great missionary.

also this week we had a baptism! It was a really great experience. we baptized Josue Alfredo Gomez Velazquez. He is the 10 year old boy that i talked about before that is always out in the streets and whose mom left him for 4 days with his 1 year old brother and who works 12 hours almost everyday for 25 pesos. He really really needs this gospel and i know that it is something that is going to change the course of his life. He is an amazing kid and has a strong spirit. he is probably the happiest kid ive ever met and has a ton of energy. The branch is behind him and the President is aware of his situation and knows his mom and is going to do a lot to help josue stay strong in the church. I felt the spirit very strongly in the baptism and was just really happy to see him be baptized. there is no greater work than the work of the lord and i have been very blessed here in the mission.

this week we also have been teaching a lot of people that are progressing a lot. We are teaching a 17 year old named cruz and he will be baptized this next week. it will be a great way for the new elder to get excited to baptize more! He has made some great changes in his life to be worthy to be baptized and has a strong will to follow the savior. i feel the spirit in the lessons with him and know that he is making the changes and really feels the desire to be like christ. He lives very humbly and is another child of the hna catalina, but has changed a lot and has great faith. We are also going to have a wedding next week i think for two of our investigators maria astrid and roberto. they have 4 little girls but arent married. there are a tooooooon of people here that arent married but living together with kids and everything. they have all their papers ready and we are going to go to the civil office to do everything this coming thursday and they should be baptized well she will be baptized this next coming saturday and he should be in two to three weeks after hes come to church. they are really great and he knows the bible really well and understands it. they live humbly as well and have a very happy family, and this is going to be so great for them. i am looking forward to them being sealed a year from now!

also this week one of our investigators who we have been trying to get to read the book of mormon for a long time finally read it. we asked her how she felt and she told us "well i was reading and i prayed and i got the feeling that i think it probably all is true... but then my friends started talking to me and........" she is getting a lot of pressure from her family and friends as well, and lots of people telling her lies about the church. it is something that i dont like that people do. she asked the same question that i ask which is why only for this church do people do that. and Its because its true. there is always opposition. a quote that i liked a lot that is more or less like this. god gives us a hundred reasons to believe and have faith, but he lets there be just those 1 or 2 things, that make us really work for our faith. we have to show him how bad to want to believe, and when we do that we have a strong testimony. i have seen this in just about all of my investigators. they love to talk to us and they feel good, but then there is a family member or friends who say something, or one small commandment that they cant keep, or something that comes in the way an they cant rise above it. We do all we can as missionaries to help them, but in the end we are nothing more than guides. it is the investigator who is developing this relationship with god and we just help them feel the spirit so that they can know that its true.

I love my mission and have had so many amazing experiences. i am a little worried for these next few weeks with my new companion, but i know everything will go well.


elder smith

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The latest

well this week was another learning experience. this week there wasnt quite as much heat which was nice. but it was definitely still very hot. I am doing well here and working hard and trying to find people to be baptized. we had an earthquake here, but i barely felt it. we were studying and there was a little shaking for about a minute and then it stopped, but if id been up walking around i dont think i would have felt it. also another story this week is that i ate turtle. it was funny because the sister served the head to my companion. we also ate some of the eggs that were not fully developed. i didnt like it a ton, but it wasnt bad. it tasted a lot like beef really.

this week we had another baptism fall through, which was probably that hardest one ive had so far. We´ve had a lot of opposition here. In my three and a half months here 4 baptisms have fallen through the day of or the day before and 8 people have not been baptized. THis week the lopez centeno family wasnt baptized which consists of 4 people. a mom and her three kids ages 18, 17 and 9. It was really hard. We taught them everything and they were all ready and excited for their date. we had their baptismal interviews this thursday and they all passed and knew everything and were ready. we then went over another night quickly and then saturday morning a few hours before the baptism we went by and the dad who we have only talked to once came out, set up three chairs and said he wanted to talk with us. he told us that he wasnt going to let his family be baptized because they were catholic. He told us when we first started teaching the family that he didnt want anything to do with us, but that his family could do what they wanted and didnt say anything else and then left the room. up until this day we hadnt talked with him more or really seen him. he told us that though he was not active in the church at all he was going to be better and go to church and that his family wasnt going to be baptized. we talked for a long time with him, and by the end he was very confused with himself and wasnt saying anything. we then asked if we could talk to the family and when we talked with them we asked if they wanted to be baptized and they responded with basically they knew they needed to but that their dad/husband wouldnt let them... 45 min before the baptism we had to cancel and told the president of the branch and he told everyone else. i was pretty down for the rest of the day, and was rough. just a culmination of all of the experiences like this are really the thing that is the hardest. i prayed a lot before our last lesson with them. i did a personal fast and fasted again sunday for them, but idk.
i have learned a lot from these experiences and am always reminded of the words of elder holland when talking about the trials of a mission. he posed the question. why does the mission have to be so hard? He then said, the atonement was not easy, and salvation was never a cheap experience. why would we expect or want it the mission to be easy. we as missionaries are representatives of jesus christ. if we are his representatives we have to walk in his footsteps, we must cry some of the tears that he shed and bear some of the trials that he suffered and in this manner we learn and appreciate and develop more faith in him, and truly become his servants. I am grateful for my experiences here, and for what i have learned. only in a mission would i have the opportunity to have these experiences. know these people, and feel a love for them and desire their salvation. i understand my purpose and am fulfilling it to the best of my ability but will be better and work harder and will find the success when the lord gives it to me. The field is white, and there are people here who are ready, we just have to find them, help them to feel the spirit so that they can be taught, so that they can accept this restored gospel and receive the blessings that the lord has prepared for them.
i am doing well, no worries. love you and miss you and hope that all is well.
elder smith

Monday, April 4, 2011

Today's Email :)

hello all. i had another great week, and not much time. today was pday and we had a zone activity. we have one overy fith pday of the of the transfer. It was a lot of fun. we watched monsters vs aliens that was really good and funny and then played some basketball outside. This week the heat came even more. It is really really hot. and super humid. even when there isnt sun its hot because it is so humid. Hopefully i´ll adjuest more, but its really hot. Normally pday we wake up, study for an hour, wash clothes. lately me and elder sanchez have paid a lady 30 pesos more or less to wash our clothes and it saves us like 3 hours of pday haha. we wash our garments in like 30 min. and then play cards, guitar, eat, sometimes go to coatza or villa benito with other elders and usually is really low key.

this week conference was amazing. i learned a lot, even though it was in spanish. one member has internet in their house and so we watched it on the presidents tv. it was really hot and in spanish so not the easiest to understand. but i focused really hard and learned a lot. a cool experience that i had this week with conference was the this past week president asked us to pray to know if thomas monson was a prophet. this is something that i haven't ever done. ive received answers about the book of mormon and therefore joseph smith, but never about a modern leader. id prayed all week for an answer and then the saturday morning session, as soon as president monson began to speak i felt the spirit very powerfully and let go a few tears. a little kid was looking at me and i dont know if he could tell if they were tears because i was sweating a lot as well and ya. but it was a very powerful experience that i had and i know that president monson is a prophet of god and through him, jesus christ leads and guides his church. this is really the greatest blessing we have with the true church. many churches teach people to be good and be like christ. but this is the only church that is truly led by prophets of god and jesus christ. we recieve what we need now in our day to follow our savior and receive the blessings. in the book our heritage, there were many quotes of people who followed the prophets and how the chruch was saved because the prophet prayed for guidance and received an answer of how he should direct the people. we are led by jesus christ.

this week i have felt an increased love for the people here and for my savior. i have tried very hard to be more humble and have this sprit of love in all of my lessons. I have felt the guidance of the sprit as i have strived to do this, and the lack of the spirit when i forget and focus on how hot i am or some other thing. The gospel is very simple. when we obay the commandments, we are happy and are blessed. when we dont we work with our own power, and are weak. I have learned a lot here in the mission but it is the simple things that i constantly have to work on like this that are the most important.

this week, we put a few more people on date to be baptized. we will baptize the family lopez centeno this saturday (fransica (mom 45), carlos (18) anel (17) and alfredo (9)) and also we will baptize a boy named josue (10) who i told you about before whose mom left him with his baby brother for 4 days when she went to villahermosa. i learned more about the situation of him and his mom and it is not vey pretty and is very sad. despite all of his problems i have never talked to a more cheerful or happy kid. he is always excited to see us and talks to everyone. There was a theme in conference about becoming as a child. i think that he is a good example to me of this. Trust in the lord and be happy no matter what. he has a plan for us that often includes many trials and challenges but as we live worthily we will be guided in this path that will lead to happiness and eventually eternal life.

i have seen a great change in the family lopez centeno. they have come to church and shown interest and studied the book of mormon and have prayed to god for the hlep and support they need. they are not an exception to the scriptue that there is opposition in all things, but they are ready and have trusted in the lord and will be blessed for their sacrifices and faith.

i love my mission and am grateful for this opportunity i have to be busy in the service of god. i am trying my hardest to be a loyal servant of him and hav been very blessed for my labors thus far.

love you and miss you

elder smith

Last Week's email

Hello everyone.
Things for me have been going very well, and i am learning a lot in my time here in mexico. i think i´d trade you weather right now haha. it is really hot here, and we are out walking all day and we luckily have
an air conditioner in the room but hardly anyone else does, so theres
no way to escape the heat during the day. I am more accostumed to the heat, but it is still really really hot haha.

things here this week went really well except that i got a little
sick. Thursday morning about 10 i started having a pain in my stomach. i kept going about the day as normal exceppt that i didnt eat much at lunch, but it was fine, just hurt, but at about 530 i threw up, and then again at 7. i feel fine now though and everything is better.
the president of the branch here is a paramedic and his wife works in
the hospital here as well. They gave me the medicine and everything
that i needed and helped me out. one thing they gave me is called
suro. its saline fluid and you drink it, but it tastes horrible.
I had a great experience this week teaching the family lopez centeno.
We have been teaching them for some time now, but they have had a few problems and for these problems their progress has been kind of slow.This week we went over to teach them a lot more, and things are going a lot better with them. this whole week we had been planning on
watching the joseph smith movie with them (we have it here, i think it
was elder tanner´s but not sure, possible ill use this one) but there
was always something that happened. one night the power went out.
another night carlos (18 year old boy) had to work, another night i
threw up before we went over, and just lots of things. We went by with them one day a little earlier during the day and taught them a quick lesson. we read with them 3 nephi 27. we read 2 verses each person and me and elder sanchez took turns explaining the parts. It went really well though Anel (17 daughter) and Fransica (mom) were the only ones there. They both are reading the book of mormon outside of our lessons and are praying. It went really well and they understood everything and were excited to learn. chapter 27 talks about the gospel of jesus christ and the 5 things we have to do in this life to have eternal life. faith, repentace, baptism, recieve the gift of the holy ghost, and endure to the end. We talked about how they needed to be baptized and they understood everything perfectly and when we challenged them to be baptized they accepted a date for april 9th. It was a great experience and i´m really excited for them.
also this week, well more yesterday and today I have been praying a
lot to know what i need to do to be a better missionary and how we can have more success in the area. last night specifically i was praying
and felt that i needed to be more humble. I need to focus more on
others and what they need instead of focusing on myself or anything
else. I am learning a lot and trying my hardest and am trying to have
more love for all of the people around me. Also this morning elder
sanchez and i prayed and felt like we needed to be more humble, have a more powerful spirit in the lessons, not have excuses, have more faith and more desire to help this people and that they can be baptized. Also i liked something that grandpa said in his letter today. he said "missed opportunities are the story of life, except for those who learn and apply that lesson early on." I am going to try to not miss a thing in my mission and work as hard as i can so that i can help these people here.
I love you all and miss you very much and hope that everything is going great for you all at hme. things with me here are going great. i
love my mission and am grateful for the opportunity i have to be here.
Ill talk to you all in another week,

elder Smith