Wednesday, June 22, 2011


hello everyone. another week has come and gone and it is going by pretty quick. we had a good week this week as well and a few cool experiences. this tuesday we had interviews with pres. castaƱeda. it went well but it was kinda bad too becaause he showed up two hours late. he was in another place with the rest of the zone but said he was going to come to la venta because its on the way back to villahermosa. i guess to try and save time but we ended up calling him when he was 40 min late and then he said an hour from that time hed be there so we tried to run adn do a lesson and move around our whole day, but it went alright. president told me a cool experience he had and just asked me how things were and how i liked the new training program. he also told me that i will almost for sure be leaving la venta at the end of this transfer. that will be a good thing i think. ive been here forever, but it will be hard to leave everyone here that ive gotten so used to.

a few funny stories from this week. this one night we were walking around and this taxi guy pulled over and told us to get in. we sort of knew him, but i was pretty sure he was drunk. we then spent the next few minutes driving around with him going like 5 mph on the road while he told us he wanted to change his life and that he has nothing good going. It was sad and we had him drive us to his house to show us where it was.we then got out of the car before he got back on the main road haha. we went by a few days later and the lesson went super well. we taught the restoration of the gospel and then at the end he asked us when he could be baptized. it was pretty cool and we will help him with certain problems he has so that he can get baptized.

this week also we set up an appointment to meet with this lady and her family. when we got there the next day and yelled at them to come out. (there arent doorbells and you dont cross their yard to get ppl to come out, you just yell "buenos tardes"from outside their gates and then they come out.) so anyways i yelled and then a little boy came out and said "my mom IS here... Oh i mean she´s not here" while at the same time mouthing and shaking his head and pointing that she was right behind the door haha. I then told him thanks and then invited him and his little brother to church. they were only like 6 years old ha.

also the hermano Ernan (found out his name really isnt ernansa but ernan) is really funny. everytime we talk to him he tells us another random story that takes forever to tell. this week he told us a crazy one about how this guy was bullying him or something and so he swung at him with a machete and almost got him, but just cut his nose. but apparently after that he never was bothered again ha. He also every week in the principios del evangelio gives a really long story/answer to simple questions. this week after like 5 min i tried to summarize what he said and thanked him for the comment and then asked someone else to read something and asked another person a question and then he gets up and says "i didnt even get to finish yet." he then went on to finish his story and then sat back in his seat haha. He's fun and about every priesthood he falls asleep during the class. i think its a little long for him. but its funny to watch him and me and elder watts have a hard time not laughing as his head falls all the way back and he woke up and had no idea where he was for a second ha.

also this week when we were walking by there were these three little girls outside playing. as we walked by they ran away screaming. then when we went by the house they came back with like 6 other little girls and they all started yelling at us until we were like really far away and out of sight. they were funny though. we get a lot of funny looks from ppl all of the time too. its the funniest when they're from little girls who think we´re cute. not so funny when its old ladies haha.

we almost got another baptism this week which would have been 4 weeks in a row, but the girl that was going to get baptized couldnt because her parents said she needs to go to church more time. all of her cousins are members, and shes come to church the last few weeks and really likes it. we´ll keep working with her and hopefully she´ll be able to get baptized before i leave.

we had a really cool experience witha lady named Mariveli. we have worked with her for a while, but when we ask her how are you, she never says good. she aways says mas o menos. We had a really good talk last week because she said she doesnt feel happy. the lessons with her lately have been really really good. and she has felt the spirit and has been looking so much happier. that is the purpose of the gospel and of life, is to be happy. She made a sacrifice to come to church this week and i think she really liked it. hopefullly she will be able to be baptized in a few weeks as well.

elder watts and i have been working really hard and we constantly critique what we do. It is hard to constantly have to change and there is never a point where ill be able to stop trying to be better. we have learned a lot though and are trying to be the best we can be. We have worked hard finding new ppl to teach and have found some really good families and people to teach that will hopefully turn out good. It is hard work, especially in all the sun and now rain too. i got drenched the other day when i was caught without my rain coat. I am definitely tired alllll of the time, but it is amazing to be able to do this work. I have learned so much and have been learning more and more how to trust in god in all things and let him guide me. I know that this church is true and my testimony is strengthened everyday through many spiritual experiences.


elder smith

Friday, June 17, 2011


Hello everyone. This week for me was amazing! I have one experience in particular that i want to share that truly was a miracle.
We have been able to have baptisms the last two weeks in a row and so this tuesday the zone leaders called us and told us good job with everything and to keep working hard and then asked us if we had anyone for the next week. i told them that we didnt for the next two weeks. After that they told us to do a special fast to find someone to be baptized this last week. we had just done a fast two days before for fast sunday but we decided that we were going to do it. so we ate that day and then started our fast. I had a few ppl in mind that could potentially be baptized this week, but i wasnt really sure who we were going to find. We started out the day and found a few new investigators and had some good lessons, but didnt find anyone that could be baptized that week. Tuesday we had to be in coatza (about an hour away) because we had a conference the next day early, so we lost about 2 hours of work tuesday night. we had to move our schedule around to try and fit in a few more things. We were on our way to our last appointment of the night about an hour late.. when someone from another street called to us. At first i thought it was just a drunk guy and almost just kept walking, but then seeing that it was in a house i recognized thought id just go say hi. we walked over and the guy introduced himself and somewhat awkwardly stuck his hand through a chainlink fence to shake our hands while asking us if we spoke spanish ha. We were late for our appointment, but i asked him if we could come in and talk with him for a little bit. he let us in and told us his story. His name is Abenamar and had been living in the usa for the last 11 years working. In his time in the US he had come into contact with a member one day while walking in the street and the member brought him to church. from there he started talking to the missionaries. at this time he was very sick and could barely walk and had been that way for about 3 months. The missionaries gave him a priesthood blessing and two days later he could walk perfectly normal and was healed. He talked with the missionaries there a lot and was good friends with them. he said they came over everyday and that he'd been going to church for about 5 months. he was in san antonio texas and had moved a little bit. about 3 weeks ago he was caught by immegrations and deported from the country and came back here to his home where he hasnt seen his family in 11 years. He told me that he had been praying and looking for the missionaries since he had arrived here. there was a strong spirit in the lesson and i asked him if he had been baptized. he said that he had, but not in the church of jesus christ, but taht he'd already been baptized in the pentocostle church. we then taught him a review of the message of the restoration and focusing on the priesthood authority. he remembered a lot of it and he accepted everything we taught and had a powerful testimony. I felt the guidance of the spirit as we spoke. we finished talking about the authority and the restoration and i started to explain the gospel of jesus christ and that we need to complete with the gospel with the power and authority of god to be saved. he agreed. i then taught a little bit more about baptism and i invited him to be baptized. he then said. "i have prayed a lot to know if this is true, and i know it is. yes" He accepted to be baptized and then i invited him to be baptized on the 11th of june, this last saturday and he said Yes! As soon as the words came from his mouth I tried to talk again but i couldn't. I tried to explain to him our part of this story. That we had begun a fast that very day to find someone to be baptized that week, and that we were not where we had planned to be in a time that we hadnt planned to be there, he was looking our way in the few seconds that we passed by his intersection, we were impressed to stay even when we had another appointment, and not to count the other factors that he was deported, and his history with the missionaries, or the factors of what would have happened if we hadnt have fasted and prayed or if we were not obedient missionaries. A feeling of joy combined with a new found knowledge and testimony that the lord guides his work and that all things work together for his divine purposes. It is hard to express the feelings that i have for what happened and the spirit that was there with us. It was a happiness that filled my whole body and an amazement that this truly is the work of the lord. As we talked more he also cried a little bit as he continued explaining his story and situation more. As we walked out of the lesson and back to our house, i turned to elder watts and said "Elder watts, I think the church is true!" ha. We were both amazed at the power of prayer and fasting and i know that the lord lead and guided all of us so that this baptism could take place here on this very day.

His baptismal service was very powerful as well. we had a member who is waiting for his mission call do the baptism. we had to go to the beach again becuase there still isnt water here, but it was really cool. I felt the spirit strongly when he was baptized and as always had a huge smile on my face the whole time after haha. i got to participate in his confirmation and reception of the gift of the holy ghost the next day and it was really amazing as well.

this week we also had the opportunity to hear from presidnete tenorio of the seventy, and he was reallly funny. he gave a good talk and i learned a lot from him. There were a lot of miracles this week, but the experience finding and baptizing abenamar was amazing. i know that this is the true church of jesus christ restored in these last days through a righteous prophet who was chosen of god. I know that the priesthood authority has been restored along with this church so that all those who are sincere of heart, who ask of god with faith through prayer and are willing to take upon them the name of jesus christ, can receive a testimony of the truth of this gospel and receive the blessings of salvation in the eternity and the true happiness in this life. I love you all and miss you and continually pray for you. Hope this next week is amazing


Elder Smith

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


hello everyone. well this was another amazing week here in la venta. I had a lot of really amazing experiences and have really learned so much.

This week i have continued to feel a really amazing change in the way that i am teaching. i feel more and more comfortable teaching in lessons and feel more and more as if i am teaching a personalized lesson as opposed to a rote presentation. it is hard in spanish to not do that especially when a lot of my companions in the past have. in a companion study with elder watts one day when we were talking on the subject i related how we had gotten better and how we could continue to improve by asking him the question "do we teach our lessons the same way you would teach your best friend from home". The answer for both of us was no, and though it is a little different, it was a good thought that i had to help me be myself more in lessons and really try to love the people and build a connection with them from the start. i have really felt a huge difference in the way i teach in these last few weeks with elder watts and have felt directed by the spirit more and more as i learn to really rely on the spirit to teach them.

I had an interesting experience with an investigator this week where i got pretty mad, but it was a justified good mad ha (ill explain). we went over to the perez family to teach a lesson. we got there and we basically always talk mostly with the husband (juan). we got there, had a prayer and i asked how they were and then asked why they didnt go to church and if theyd read and prayed. He then went into a list of excuses of things, but turned out he was sleeping sunday, and didnt read, and hadnt really prayed. he then to try and back that up i guess went into first how in the church the sunday they went, he already knew everything that we talked about and said bluntly. "i went in with nothing and came out with nothing". (i used that later). We talked aout the sabbath day and he exagerated how everyone knows what it is and that we shouldnt have talked about it. he then went in how we never answer their questions and gave an example that i never answered his question about who melchezidek was (which i had, but did again anyway). and other than that he couldnt remember what other questions he'd asked and so he then said the thing where i got mad. he said i dont think you guys would know the answers to my questions so i dont ask. you dont have much knowledge of the scriptures and are inexperienced, and thats why we always talk about really basic stuff. Me and elder watts joked afterwords because we had been reading in moroni about the war chapters in our studies and we said "elder smith got upset like moroni" ha. I starting with the topic of the class in church, that he doesnt know what the sabbath day is becuase he hasnt put it into practice and isnt living it. he went in with nothing and left with nothing for his attitude. i then answered his question and asked if he had any others, but he didnt. then i explained that we were there to help him and his family to find the salvation and that there was no other way they were going to be able to get it. that we arent there to just help him study the bible for fun, but it is something serious. that we are there as guides and that it is him who has been making and breaking his promises with god when he hasnt been keeping his commitments and then asked him some simple questions about the gospel and explained to him the answers of why we study the basic principles of the gospel. it is not that we dont have the knowledge to teach him it is just that if he cant and isnt willing to live simple and basic principles or commandments why would we want to study complicated principles. I spoke very boldly to say the least and at the end i think it sank in a little bit. Though i spoke strongly, i felt the spirit the whole time that i spoke and felt guided by the spirit. hopefully someday he will be able to do the very simple thing of reading and praying diligently about the book of mormon.

that was an experience that was powerful for me, but not the ones i like very much, but have to happen sometimes. I usually stay away from ppl that want to argue, but this was a good investigator who changed for some reason away from the gospel. It was a good learning experience for me though, and this example played a part in a good discussion i had with elder watts about how we can be better at finding the elect.
we also had an amazing baptism this week. the hno. ernanza got baptized. he is a old man of 73 years and is really great. we found him a few weeks ago when he called us over to talk. we were a little skeptical at first because he loves to tell stories ha, but he accepted everything and the gospel will help him a ton! he has had a rough life including separation from his family, he got hit by a car and hurt his body really bad with lasting affects that limited and limit his working ability, and has a pretty bad living condition now. he has been humbled and prepared by the lord for us to find him, and it was a great experience to be able to baptize him in the ocean (wasnt water here again this week). After presidente nazario gave a cool talk about how he entered into the gate and the way of the lord. i felt the spirit very powerfully when i thought about how this man who has seen so much and experienced so many things, had entered into this path and was completely clean from any sins of his past life. he is73 but is born again of the water and now of the spirit as well. It was amazing to work with him and to see the blessings he will receive in his life and the eternity.

this sunday was also amazing. we had just about 60 ppl in sacrament meeting. though that doesnt sound like a lot,, we usually have like 40 or 45 and so having 60 there was amazing. a lot of less actives were there and all my converts were there as well except for maria but she had a reason, and i was just full of joy. i went up to share my testimony and i tried expressing my love for the ppl there and had to just stop and wait for like a minute because i couldnt talk. It was a powerful meeting and everyone there felt the strong spirit, as everyone got up and bore their testimonies.

the mission is amazing and i am learning so much and have had some truly amazing experiences. i know that this is the true church and gospel of jesus christ and there is nothing i love more than to share this message with everyone that will hear it each day. i hope that everything is going great at home and that you are all doing well. I love you and miss you


Elder Smith

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another Week in La Venta- May 30, 2011

Hello everyone. i had a really great week this week and i'll try to get everything into this email. to explain the pictures as well. there was a terantula in our shower one morning i walked in and looked down and was a little surprised ha. we put it in a bag and threw it outside, we told other ppl later and they all said we should have killed it cause theyre pretty dangerous. its the first one ive seen though so dont worry. also i thought dad might like the harley we saw here hah. the others are from when our investigators (maria and roberto) got married, and then the baptism in the ocean. elder watts got his first baptism in the ocean so that was really cool.

this week was amazing. I am really starting to understand how to teach and listen to the spirit and how to adapt lessons to each person that we teach. i feel a lot more personable, and i feel like we develop a stronger relationship with the people after just a few minutes of talking. It is really an amazing experience to feel the lord working through me and have things ive never thought of come to my mind to say, that just seem to work perfectly in helping these people here. we have met some really great people and had some really powerful lessons. one of the ladies that we are teaching is named guadalupe. she is really great and is really studying the scriptures. she was having a little bit of trouble one lesson and we came over and she told us the first thing "i dont think we should talk anymore, i think i got an answer that i need to go back to my old church..." when i heard this i would have thought that i would be very worried. that isnt what we planned on thats not what happens very often either. usualy we drop ppl because they dont progress. though when she said this i was excited for the opportunity and knew it would be an amazing lesson. i prayed very hard for guidance the whole lesson and felt that the spirit dirrected us as we taught her. we focused on the book of mormon and how big of a role it plays in conversion, and about how her prayers would be answered. the lesson was very powerful and ended with me bearing my testimony about how i came to know the book of mormon was true. this time i chose to tell about an experience i had on my mission when i finished the book of mormon again and prayed to know about it. i dont tell these stories very often in great detail in lessons because they are sacred things. i know that she felt the spiritl, and that it was what she needed. she is continuing reading and praying and is a really amazing lady with great faith.

this week also maria and roberto got married. it has been planned to happen SOOO many tiems and also this week was planned for tuesday then thursday then finally for friday which was the last day it could happen so that maria could be baptized this week. I was praying so much this week that it could finally happen. i had been studying patience in the christlike atributes part of preach my gospel because i didnt feel very patient ha. It was hard when they are so close but just hadn't done it. the day before, (thursday night) roberto said it was going to happen but i still had my doubts. we got president nazario to drive us to their house and didnt find them at home. we drove back to the centro and found them waiting outside the registro civil to get married. theyd already gotten pictures and coppies of all paper and were ready. they needed three more witnesses becuase me and elder watts cant be witnesses but president nazario knows everyone here and in 30 seconds had three people's credentials (drivers licenses) and went off to make copies. the ppl came and signed and then they got married! it was literally the happiest feeling in the world when i saw them waiting to get married. they were excited and i was just so so happy ha.

the next day there was still no water in la venta to fill the font so we had to go all the way to santana to the beach to do the baptism. it was a great experience. it was just me elder watts, roberto, maria, their baby and one other of their girls. it was really small but really great. we had a little meeting, sang families can be together forever, and i gave a small talk on baptism, took some pictures, and then elder watts got to baptize his first person in the ocean. he was way excited and it was really great. the beach was beautiful as dusk and the sun was big and very red, though it doesnt look that way in the pictures. the spirit was very strong as they stood in the ocean waves and said the prayer and then baptized her in the water, just how christ was baptized. it really was so amazing to see this family make changes. we started teaching them when elder sanchez first got here but then stopped because they were talking to other ppl and didnt really ever listen to us. we went back to teach them after they went to a primary activity at the church and everything changed! i now understand why we have those activities. they are amazing. never hesitate to invite someone to a church thing even when it seems like they wont like it or it will be awkward, because they work miracles. this families atitiude towards the church changed and the hna maria started coming to church they started listening, they read the book of mormon, gained a testimony, got baptized and they are amazing. god prepares his children for this message and we are talking about robertos baptism in three weeks. he was basically a drunk and now is awesome and i could see him and branch president someday! we had a really great talk with him and president nazario on the car ride home. We've talked a lot about the temple with them and i am so excited to see them agian in one year to see them be sealed for time and all eternity.

I love you all and miss you very much and hope that everything continues well for you all at home. i am going to stay another transfer here in la venta so by the end of this next transfer i'll have almost a year in the mission and almost 7 months in la venta haha. I love the mission and am very greatful for all the amazing experiences i have had in the midst of many trials as well, but without those the blessings wouldnt be so great. we are going to have another baptism this next week and we are working hard to find ppl to baptize every week now. ill talk to you all in another week.


elder smith