Monday, May 23, 2011

10 Month Mark!

hello everyone. well its been another amazing week here in la venta, mexico and i am really learning a lot and having some amazing experiences. this week i completed 10 months in the mission which is pretty crazy. one more transfer and i'll be at my year mark. i still have that feeling that i dont really know what im doing and i need a lot more practice and improvement and work, but i think thats mostly a good thing. elder watts and i have been focusing a lot everyday on how we can be better. focusing on different topics different principles and then applying them in one week. in the new study program for training new missionaries it also has focuses. this week was how to get investigators to come to church. thats not how they said it but that was the goal of it. we focused a lot on that and we had 5 ppl in church and some ppl that we didnt think would come. also from the ppl that didnt come to church we were able to determine if they were ppl we should continue teaching or not and in many cases made the decision to stop teaching them a lot easier. there is a funny story with an old guy named juan that we found last week. he accepted a date, but doesnt really listen too well when we teach but just says yes all the time really loud while we talk, but then when we ask him something he just says yes again loud, and then he has to ask again what we said. this saturday we went over to remind him about church. hed said before that he could come. when we got there he explained how his teeth hurt really bad so i told him to go to a dentist but then he said he didnt have money to go. we then continued with the lesson and asked him about church. he then said he couldnt come cause he had to go to the dentist. i was confused and asked why hed said he didnt have money. he then said he did...? then i said well you could go at 12 after chruch right. and he said no but i cant remember why. i then said well you could be today after our lesson (it was like 1 oclock) he said no cause its saturday and i need to drink. he always talks about how bad drinking is. then when i asked about that he said, oh not for me them (referning to the dentists). i then said oh i dont think the dentists are drunk when working. he said very convinsed that they do because it
was saturday. he finally said hed go but when we saw him by chance sunday morning he made another excuse and now we dont teach him , but i thought his excuses were funny haha. and i hope you dont get drunk when working on teeth dad or anytime ha.

this week on tuesday we went to villahermosa and listened to elder quinten l cook of the 12 apostles. it was an amazing experience and i really learned a lot. he did a question and answer part and gave a talk after his wife and a 70' named elder dehoyos. it was really powerful and i learned a lot from him. i especially liked the personal stories that he told about being around the other apostles and prophets. he told one about how he never feels qualified or capable to be an apostle and then that elder packer told him one day in the temple as well that in his 41 years as an apostle he still doesnt feel qualified. It is often how i feel as a missionary, but he said that the lord qualifies us when we do his work in his way he will give us what we need to accomplish his work. i took lots of notes as well and really learned a lot. we also all got to shake his hand and meet him. it was cool to see how each missionary lit up when they passed by him, and it was a really amazing experience.

a lot happened this week but i want to share two experiences that i had. the first one is about the hna maria astrit. she has been an investigator for a while and should have been baptized but we cant get them to come to the court house place to get married. they want to and have everything ready, they just have to go! anyways we had some really good talks with her about everything this week. one night when i was about to announce her baptism she told me that she still wasnt sure about it. shed told me before that she was ready, but then started a long conversation and a really powerful lesson. we went to their house later that day with her and her husband roberto who is also an investigator. we didnt have a set plan, i just thought a lot about them and tried to find what needed to be said. i eventually found what it was and asked an inspired question, when i asked them, "why are we here" (referring to us as missionaries). they said to help them get married, baptize them, help them know the scriptures better, and some other things. i told them after each of these that that is part of the reason, but not the answer. we are here because we love them, and we want to help them have salvation. i wont be able to write the words exactly that i used but they were very powerful and i felt the lord working in me. I then made a comparison in the ways we can look at the church. there is one way of looking at things from a worldly or temporal perspective, and then you can look at things from an eternal or spiritual perspective. for example going to church. from a temporal persective, we have to go every sunday to a building where we sit and talk for 3 hours. from an eternal perspective and spiritual perspective we go to hear the words of god, be spiritually edified,
remember our savior and redeemer, pray, grow, hlep others, be closer to god. we can apply this principle with anything in this world. the problem i see with many investigators/less actives/active members, is that too often we see things only from a temporal perspective. we cant see eveything completely spiritual all the time i know, and im not trying to say that we should do that, but the more we can see things from this perspective, the happier we will be, the more we will understand god and his purpose for us in this life. I expressed to them this idea and applied it to them. i also had another lesson with the hna maria without her family where she told us how much of a difference our talks had made. i felt the sprit direct out words and saw how it helped her.
i dont have any more time, but i had a lot of other really cool equally powerful experiences this week that i will share another day after my mission ha.


elder smith

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 16

hello everyone. another week has come and gone and i had a lot of good experiences and some harder ones as well. we were really excited to get a baptism this week and excited about a boy named cristian who had been changing. it turned out though that he didnt really want to change and couldnt give up coffee and didnt want to go to church, so we didnt get a baptism this weeek, but thats alright cause we found some really great people and should have a lot in the coming weeks.

everything is going well with elder watts and he is a lot of fun. his
spanish is getting better and i learn a lot from him. we have some funny jokes with all the members now that when we walk by they all point up at the trees and say monkey, monkey because one of the first days elder watts was here he did that to a little kid to get him to
look away and now they do it everytime we walk by haha.

we are teaching a cool family named the sanchez vasquez family (maria and roberto). they are really amazing and making big changes in their lives. they now read the book of mormon and bible together everyday as a family and are doing family prayers and everything. every lesson they are very attentive and listening, and are still a lot of fun to talk to and stuff, and are a little goofy, but they are really
amazing. we are going to try and get them married this wednesday in the morning. we have had it planned many times before,but i hope this time it will happen. we are going over to pick them up and go wtih them to the place and ive checked all their papers and everything. i think that maria will be baptized this saturday and roberto has to get to chruch two times still before he can be baptized.

we had some good lessons with some references that we got. we almost never get references from members and we went over with the member to this reference that is two twin girls and it was a really great
lesson. they said they felt the spirit in the lesson and when i asked
them to be baptized they accepted! they also told their friend (member) that when they prayed the next day they felt the spirit very
powrefully in the form of being really happy. alegria!

we also had a cool experience with a girl named patty. she is 24 and
just graduated from her school. she is really great but has a lot of
family and friend problems. she had heard a lot of false stuff about the church, but we had a really long lessons with her one morning where we met at the church watched the joseph smith movie and then
talked about her whole life basically and how she got to the point
where she was listening to us. she said the movie and coming to church answered most of her questions and then it was really cool to see how she has been prepared to listen to our message and also cool to see how much people will open up to you about their lives. This is just someone we met on the street, and in a few meetings someone that we really care about and who is willing to tell us some of the deepest things of her life. It is awesome to be a missionary and to feel the spirit work in me to help all of these people with their problems
through helping to teach them about this gospel, that is the answer to
all of lifes struggles.

we are going to get to hear from quintin l cook tomorrow in
villahermosa and im really excited for that. also presidente emailed
me today and said that he is going to come to la venta and interview our district here and then come out and work with us. im WAY excited for that and am going to try and learn as much as i can from him while
hes here. he is really powerful and hopefully ill be able to learn to do things just as powerfully.

everything is going great for me here. I took my first hot shower today in 5 months because the sun has heated up the water. it was like really hot though, it was really weird ha. I am learning so much and having really great experiences. the time is going by way fast right now, and im almost done with my first transfer here with elder watts in 2 more weeks. i have felt the spirit guiding me so much and have been able to really strengthen my testimony, especially in the book of mormon. the book of mormon is so important and plays the biggest role nuestro conversion. i know the book of mormon is true and for that i know that this is the true church of Jesus christ and the way we find all of the happiness in this life and the salvation in the life to come. i love you all and miss you very much and hope you have a great next week.


elder smith

May 9 Picture

Monday May 9

hey everyone. it was really great to get to talk to you all yesterday. I am glad that you are all doing so well and having so many great experiences. it was a little weird to be reminded that the world is still going on back home. i told you all a lot yesterday and dont have much time today so my letter will be very short today and ill do a better one next week i think. I dont have too many new pictures to send. there was a little birthday party for cruz that i will send one picture of that shows some people from the branch and stuff. This week was good. we taught a lot of good lessons and are starting to get into the rhythm again. i dont have to teach quite as much and we are focusing a lot on teaching more direct and clear which is shorter and more powerful so that has also helped. i had a cool experience yesterday that i forgot to tell you all about. after church and eating we were looking for our lesson. the investigator we were supposed to teach wasnt there so we went looking for some of the ppl we´d talked to on the streets that said we could come back. we went to one and the parents werent home. their next door neighbors were also contacts but i kinda looked awkwardly at the m all and could see there was likea birthday party or something and so i decided another day we´d go by. when i was looking in my planner for who to stop by next a guy called over to me "guerros!" (whiteys) ha. i looked over and he waved me over. they invited us in and fed us dinner and talked to us. the one guy that called us over had talked to missionaries like 5 years ago and gone to church and stuff. he told us to talk to his in-laws whos house we were at. as we ate i tried to talk to them and find out more about them. It was hard because they gave us meat, but nobody uses knifes here so i had to use my hands to pull it apart and there was quite a bit to eat haha. i talked and found out a lot about this couple. After we finished i asked if we could share a scriptures (that was my plan). as we started talking more about what we do as missionaries and their experiences and relationship with god i felt impressed to talk about the plan of salvation. i bore my testimony of it as i explained an overview of what it is. the spirit was strong and we built a relationship with them that will help us in sharing the gospel. i was talking to elder watts the other day how i want that to be our goal for the week. i talked about how i could see and feel the strong relationship i had with my recent converts and other investigators and for that i could teach a lot more powerfully to them, but that in a lot of new investigators something was lacking in our relationship. i think a big part of that is love. they need to feel more that we love and care about them so that they will open up and start to love and care about us. when we make that connection they will be more willing to keep commitments to read and pray and to really believe what we say and listen to our message and testimony. the whole mission and life is really about relationships we make, with other people and with god. he is our father and when we truly understand that, that is when we will feel his love and presence in our life, keep the commandments, recieve blessings and recieve eternal life.

I love my mission and my opportunity to be here and to learn and to grow. i have had so many opportunities to share this gospel and to feel the lord working through me. to help me in a situation that alone i would not be able to handle. i have learned to trust in him, though i still often forget, and when i do i have the power to teach and testify and help others recieve the restored gospel of jesus christ.


Elder Smith

May Day- May 2

hello everyone. thank you for all of your emails. it is always great to hear how you are all doing. i have had a lot of really great experiences. i am excited to talk to yiou this week and we´ll see how it goes.

everything here is going very well and i have been working really hard. i told this to elder watts the other day that i have never been the senior comp, but my whole time i would follow my comp but sometimes i would think that when im a senior comp ill do it a little different. and now i can do it the way i think it needs to be done. i am trying to be as obedient as possible and trying to wrok as hard as i can and we are going to have lots of success. this week we had a lot of slower days, where we passed by like a million people, but nobody was there. elder watts is doing well and is willing to work and is obedient. i still have to reteach just about everything he does because the people still dont really understand him much, but he'll impove fast. this week we had a zone conference. we watched a talk by elder holland and learned a lot. also we did a lot of practices. at one point president casteƱeda asked me to come contact him using the language of jesus christ. it was pretty nerve racking haha. but i did okay the second time i tried, the first time i rambled a bit haha. i learned a lot and am going to change some things how we teach.

i had a cool experience sunday where the hna catalina told me an experience. she said the day before cruz got baptized she started crying because she was just so happy. also cruz had a cool story about how he paid tithing and now he has more money than he has ever had before. also another one of our investigaotors completely gave up drinking coffee. it had been a problem and she always said that shed give it up little by little. but we went by the other day and i asked her and she said that she gave it up. and her kids as well. she should be getting married this week and we have a time scheduled to go over their papers with someone and hopefully shell get baptized this saturday! her husband is really good too, but has to give up drinking. hes working on it though. the hna maria (gave up coffee) acredited everything and all of her happinenss recently to the church. going to church and learning from us. reading the scriptures and praying. it was way amazing and all of these experiences caused me great joy. i felt just so so happy.

also this week we had one really geat day. saturday we found 12 new investigatos. the most ive gotten in one week before is 13. we had 18 in total this week. I went around and everyone was home. we also found two families that seem really good. We also found a boy named jose antonio. he contactd us on the street by calling us elderes! he then explained how he had a cousin that was a member. he is definitely chosen. he learns and understands super fast. he accepted everything in the first lesson and accepted to be baptized on the 14th. sunday we were excited to take him to church and went by but nobody was home. we were sad that he was gong to fall off his date to be baptized, but had to leave. as we were walking away i heard someone behind me scream "ELDER ESMIIIIT" i turned aroun and saw him sprinting towards us from far away. we went to chruch and he participated and almost bore his testimony. we taught him the book of mormon later that day and when i told him about how there was a lot of writting but that mormon had all of the writings at the end and then he... and before i finished he said " oh and mormon took all the writings and wrote just the most important stuff on the platesof gold right?" and i just said yes... i have been stunned by some other things that he has said also. he is way amazing and im excited for him. also cruz should be receiving the priesthood this next week and coud baptize his mom (catalina) after she gets married, but well see when that is.

all in all i have been very blessed. i am learning a lot, and feel a lot more comfortable with the language. i am working harder than i ever have and we shoud have a lot of success in the coming weeks. i love you all and miss you very much and hope that all is going well.


elder smith

Pics to go with Easter Message