Tuesday, July 24, 2012

7-23-12 The Last Email!


fotos. cake in the ward counsel meeting. going away party
 





well my last week of the mission has come...it is starting to feel like it a little bit. this was a really great week where we saw a lot of miracles. the baptism that we had prepared for this week fell through, but they are a great family and very soon will be baptized. yesterday the dad asked me for a blessing to help him to get married so that they can get baptized. the familia perez that got baptized last week is still on fire! they invited one of their friends to listen to us, and we got there and they just started testifying and sharing their experiences. we almost didnt talk at all haha. hno iturbide got the priesthood this sunday and was really excited. i gave him one of my white shirts and a tie and him and his family look like they've been members forever and have learned a ton! thrusday we had a fireside. we started doing one a month last month, so this was our second. the first one went really well, and this one too. we watched one of the mormon messages, and then talked about repentace and forgiveness and the atonement. it was really powerful and the members liked it a lot. then we played games that went well too. there were a few investigators there that i think enjoyed it a lot. also elder De Hoyos, of the presidency of the seventy came and gave us a training that was really good. it was focused on the atonement. he said if all members understood really what the atonement is, there would be nobody showing up late to sacrament, nobody who doesnt read the scriptures daily, nobody who doesn't pray every day. he basically said the atonement is the key to everything, and i agree. this week i have learned a lot more what the atonement is and what it provides us with the opportunity to do.
 
sunday was a really great day. in church i got to play a song on the piano. i made an arrangement of "god be with you til we meet again". i started out doing it in minor and then changed to a major and it went well. the spirit came super strong when i played the last verse and then the bishop stood up to announce that i would be the last speaker and was crying. i got up to speak and i stood there for about 3 minutes without talking. i tried and just couldnt. i felt so much love for the ppl there and for the mission and had a flash of seeing all of the things that i had done in the last two years. i shared a short message and my testimony and we finished the meeting. the members were all really nice to me. they wrote me cards and all said goodbye. in the ward counsel meeting they brought me a cake. at night some investigators (that were going to get baptized this week but didnt) invited me and like half the ward to their house for dinner. i dont know how they paid for it all, but it was super super nice of them. i have grown to really love and care for the people here and it has been hard to say good byes. it still doesnt feel like it though completely.
 
i had my farewell interview with president castañeda yesterday as well and that was really powerful. he made me a lot of really special promises if i kept living the gospel and asked me, "what is your report to god of your mission?" that is a hard question to answer. i have learned so much in this time and been so blessed to have been here. i have seen so many miracles and seen the real conversion of so many people. there is no greater feeling of joy than to see someone embrace the gospel and receive the blessings of the atonement. at the end of my report i said. "i worked with all of my strength, and the lord has blessed me greatly." president said, "how great will it be to say that same thing when you are in you ¨final interview¨ where Christ is the judge."
 
i want to thank each and every one of you for your love and for your support of the course of my mission here in mexico and over the course of my life. i love you and have learned to love and appreciate you all much more as i have learned about the love our savior has for each of us. thank you.
 
love
 
elder smith
 
ps. see you soon :) ha

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

7-16-12

Hello everybody.

well this week was literally full of miracles everyday. i told you about what happened last sunday when we got the message from the family perez. well monday night we went over to see what the story was and what happened. we had thought that the experience had happened to hno iturbide (the dad). walking up to the house i was talking to my companion. what are we going to do to help the wife (irma) so that she will want to get baptized too. she was the one we were most worried about. we got there and they greated us very warmly and we sat down. then the hna irma came out of a room and began to tell us that it was her who had received the answer to her prayers. she said the sunday night her daughter named isis naomi (5) came up to her and told her she was scared and couldnt sleep. she told her daughter to go to bed and she would sit outside the door and watch her. she had been thinking about the invitation we had extended to them to be baptized on the 12th of July, and was thinking about how she could get an answer to know that she should be baptized or not. she grabbed the book of mormon that we left with them and she sat down. she opened it up, but didnt read for a while. she then looked down and was about to flip the page when she said she remembered something that i had said walking out the door before we left the day before. i said, "open pray and open up the book of mormon to whatever page and start reading, and there you will find your answer." it isnt something that i say to everyone, in fact it is the first time i think i have ever invited anyone to do that, but i felt prompted to say it right before we walked out the door saturday. she said that right before turning the page, she looked down where she had opened up and started reading. she opened up to alma 6. she read the first two verses that say,   Y sucedió que después que hubo concluido de hablar a los de la iglesia establecida en la ciudad de Zarahemla, Alma ordenósacerdotes y élderes por la imposición de sus manos, según el orden de Dios, para presidir la iglesia y velar por ella.
  Y aconteció que de los que no pertenecían a la iglesia, quienes se arrepentían de sus pecados, eran bautizados para arrepentimiento y recibidos en la iglesia
she said that she read those two verses and was in shock. she re-read them a few times to make sure that is what they said. she then grabbed the phone and sent us the message that she had received her answer and knew that the church is true and that her and her family needed to be baptized. when she said that i was in shock at the miracle that god had done. it is the perfect scripture and she opened right up to it after praying and pondering and having a desire to know if it is all true. her husband was already ready really for baptism and the daughter Zulmy had a dream and also was really excited to be baptized. they all passed their interviews for baptism which was also another story of miracles. and then the day of their baptism they were so excited. they shared with us the spirit that they felt. Friday night we went to their house and talked about the confirmation. i at the end of the lesson said, "im really excited for you and your family to receive the gift of the holy ghost", hno iturbide said, "no hno, i think im even more excited." he was literally like smiling ear to ear. I got to baptize Zulmy and confirm Iturbide. It was one of the most amazing and gratifying experiences i have ever had in my mission to be with them sunday. we talked about temple marriage in the class and they accepted the date to be sealed in the temple this week of july next year. hno iturbide paid his tithing (which is a huge sacrifice for their family) without us saying anything that he needed to or anything. after church he read about and learned all of the offices of the priesthood and is excited to receive the priesthood next week. and the bishop and the ward are super excited for the family and the hno is going to be called as the sunday school president. when we went at night to their house hno iturbide thanked us for everything we had done to teach them and help them to change. it was one of the most special moments of my whole mission. it is a very very special family, that i know will be sealed in the tmple in a year. they have learned so much and have an eternal vision. they act on faith not worrying about the consequences and recieve the blessings from god. he told us of a miracle or how last week they were without money almost where they didnt know how they got by, but that somehow, everything they had lasted them. blessings of faith and tithing. i love this family so much and i cant believe the blessings that god has given me to be a part of their conversion. this is long i know, but it was just really really amazing. it fits very well with the scripture in d and c 18:16. 

this week i also got to see yuridia and norma, some converts from tierra colorada. they are doing great and progressing really well and it was nice to see them and talk to them for a little bit. they came to the baptism of the familia perez. 

well there are a ton of things that happened, but that is basically all. i love you all and miss you a ton. it will be weird and nice to be back, but really i cant imagine it too much. it still seems like im just going to have transferes again and go to a new area, it hasnt hit me yet that im actually going home. have a great week. 

love 

elder smith

fotos: yuri and norma, baptism, bad english translation




Monday, July 9, 2012

7-9-12

fotos. bautismo de hna guadalupe, learning to be meek and humble as a little child, a turantula that we found in a house of an investigator, drinking from coconuts, parque la venta.












hello everyone. this was another amazing week here in villahermosa and i am learning a ton. 

i am enjoying the last part of my mission. it is weird that it is coming to a close but to be honest it really doesnt feel like it at all. it seems normal, maybe it feels like i have transfers or something like that, but it doesnt feel like im going to be going home and stop being a full time missionary. i think on the airplane home it will hit maybe. we have been working super hard here and seeing a lot of  miracles. 

yesterday i had a really cool experience. we went to a few different appointments yesterday and we found ourselves in two of them with people form other churches that just wanted to argue. i always hate those appointments. i used to get mad and open up my bible and show them everything, but now ive learned not to do that and i stay calm and try to help them to understand the key to our message. usually they dont listen, and we leave. we are here to call those that are prepared to repentance. 

anyways, yesterday we were hoping to have a huge attendance at church for ward conference. we made invitations and went around to lots of members and less active people inviting them and telling them to bring their friends and family. we didnt meet our goal and it was a little disappointing. after that we had these appointments, and it was sorta a harder day, especially because the family perez didnt come to church. they had a date to get baptized. i didnt get discouraged, but i wasnt full of energy maybe ha. when we got home at night my companion said the prayer to start planning and while he said the prayer i started receiving a lot of impressions. when he finished praying i started thinking out loud saying all the things that were coming. i was reflecting on those lessons and what we did wrong, and what those ppl did wrong, and what is our purpose here. i felt a few things. one, we need to be humble and understand who we really are. we are children of god, not god, we as moses said coming out of the vision where he saw all gods creations "i know that man is nothing". we cannot begin to comprehend the smallest fraction of what god can. we need to understand that, and learn to not try and do everything ourselves, but to trust in him. 2, i learned that we need to have faith. but real faith. faith to move mountains, or like nephi, faith to dry the sea if god commanded it. sometimes when the hardest more difficult problems come, we think "theres no room for errors, i cant chance it on faith, i need to do it myself", when really the solution is, trust in god. 3, i learned that we need to work and be diligent. doing everything we can to complete with the first two points and all the commandments, basically be obedient. i felt like i hadnt done all those things as well as i could have. that i had trusted too much in my own knowledge and not in miracles of god. as i said all these things, i literally felt my faith growing. i know that god works miracles. 

that night we went to sleep and at 11:30 i woke up. i looked at the phone and read a message that had just come in. it was from Hno Perez, it said "God just answered my question. what you told me would happen, happened." the day before i had invited him and his wife to go into their room alone, read a little from the book of mormon, and then say a prayer out loud asking if it is all true. they did it. I yelled at my companion to wake up and threw the phone to him. we have been fasting almost every week for them and our investigators and i know that god answered our humble prayers in answering that prayer of faith of Hno perez. 

i know that this is the true church. if we pray and ask god we can know all things by the holy ghost. 

love you and miss you

elder smith

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

7-2-12


pictures: baptism of hna guadalupe
 


pictures: baptism of hna guadalupe, learning to be submisive and meek and full of love like little children (:, drinking coconuts, la venta park in villahermosa (basically the same stuff as in la venta but the real stuff!, olmec head
(We didn't get these other pictures)

well this was a really great week. i basically dont have time to talk about it though. we saw really great miracles this week and were able to have a baptism of hna guadalupe. it went really well and there was a great spirit in the meeting. we had a miracle the day before because the hna needed to be interviewed with president castañeda and it was sorta last minute. i called him, hoping and praying, that he could do it that same day, the day before the baptism, because the next day he would leave to a different part of the mission. i called and he talked to someone to check a time, and said, be at the chapel at 6 and ill do the interview. i couldnt believe that he wasnt busy at 6. it really was a miracle and helped the hna guadalupe a lot. it was amazing to see her after the baptism. she hugged all of the people there, but like really hugged them. she really has a gift of loving people and the ward helped to support her. it is amazing that three weeks ago she had no idea about the church and now in just three weeks she has changed, repented, learned, grown, and developed a testimony, and now baptized and confirmed. all because we decided to stay out a little bit longer talking to ppl on the streets one night when we could have gone home at 850 instead of 9. god blesses us when we work hard! 

we have worked a lot with the family perez that came last week and they are progressing really well. the 10 year old girl, Zulmi, said that she prayed and asked god if she should be baptized. she said first i felt like i shouldnt, then i felt like i should, then as i was pondering about it, and yes she used the word pondering! ha; i fell asleep and had a dream. i saw my life after i got baptized andi was happy and lots of good things happened. then i saw my life when i didnt get baptized and it was sad and had a lot of problems, so i really, really want to get baptized! i felt the spirit as she told me that and know that she really received and answer from god. children are very good examples to us in their faith in god and their trust in him. 

ay,.... pues a lot of things happened this week but i cant say everything for the time. today i went to a place called parque la venta. it is basically the museum in la venta but with more money put into it and with all of the real things. i went with elder medina, his comp, and an elder named elder bowman and his comp, also from my zone in mina tec. it was a lot of fun. i bought some things there too. i really havent bought anything in my mission, so i bought some mayan tabascanian type things. 

anyways, i love you all and miss you a ton. im going to work super hard. and hopefully help a few more families find the gospel before i see you all again. have a great week


love

elder smith

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

6-25-12

hola, ¿como están?

i hope that all is well and that everything is going great for you all. I have to first apologize to dad and grandpas for not saying happy fathers day last week. i wrote super fast and had remembered but then forgot when i started writing. we have been focusing a lot on family history right now as missionaries and sharing that with ppl and it has helped me to be very grateful for my family roots.  i am grateful for the example that you have given me and for all of the opportunities that you have given me and for all the things you have taught me. everyday i tell stories to ppl or use examples from my life or teach ppl the same things that you have taught me or helped me with. you are the best dad ever and i love you a ton. i also love you mom and grandpas and grandmas and all the family and my friends to the family as well :)

this week was super great. thursday we did a fireside. first we had a baptism for jesus. it went really well and there were a few investigatores that showed up to see it too. elder barrera and i sang, i need thee every hour. i played guitar and i also intended to sing the harmony part. i have never really learned how to do that too well, but i just did what sounded okay and it ended up going well. i got to baptize jesus and it was a really great service. after the baptism we gave our firside message. we watched a movie about having to change our lives and our attitudes to be able to acheive success and then talked about the message from president monson from january about "living the abundant life" or something like that "la vida abundante" about the power of our attitude. it was really great and i shared some good stories and it sorta reminded me of like being a motivational speaker mixed with preaching the gospel. it went well and then we watched a video from a clip of the movie of football like "battle of the giants" or something where a kid carries another kid on his back the whole langth of the field. set up well, it is a powerful spiritual tool and i saw various ppl crying. it was super spiritual and then after we went outside and made a fire and roasted marshmellows. it was a lot of fun and turned out really really well. a little girl of 10 years who was visiting said "i want to be baptized in this church".

sunday was a huge miracle. we have been focusing on the assistence at church and we should of had like 75 ppl or something, but even though we started the meeting with just 33, it ended up with 110! we were super excited, especially because the family of this little girl that came to the activity showed up. they are a family of 5 and really really liked the church. the dad stayed like 15 min after church ended in the room just talking with the family that brought them talking about how the theme of the day, adversity, was so perfect for his life in that moment. When they walked into the chapel i was so happy i almost cried ha. we contacted 200 people this week on the street and i kept telling my comp, if we contact everyone that passes us, we will be blessed. it was hard and we worked super hard but we were blessed. it is another example of how god always tests us. he makes us go as far as we can, until we almost cant go any farther and then in the moment where we are about to give up, if we continue to trust in him, he blesses us with everything. 

we had a ton of rain this week and i had to walk without shoes a little one day, but it was fun. we get caught in the rain sometimes,but thats alright. i love you all and miss you a ton. it is super weird that i only have 4 weeks left, but it wont hit until im like literally coming home, like on the airplane ha, so im gonna keep working hard and hopefully we will be able to have a lot of blessing. hvae fun at trek this week. 

love 

elder smith







Tuesday, June 19, 2012

6-18-12

pictures: got mad so i broke the tree (really got torn down by the storm), elder barrera with our lasagna,.  on the rooftop of part of our area, helping elder barrera with his haircut, my novia, fam that we made lasagna with, eating a lizard










well this week went really great. we had a ton of aweome experiences. i dont really have much time to tell you about them all but it was a good week. we are going to help baptize the grandson of our new ward mission leader. he is really great. we thought he wasnt going to understand a whole lot, but he surprised us all when we taught him, and he said a prayer at the end that i was able to feel the spirit so strongly that i and basically everyone else cried, including his grandpa. he is going to be a great future misionary. the ward is doing well. we have a sister named guadalupe that is doing really well. hopefully she will be baptized this coming week. she is progressing a lot. I don't know if i told you about her but she is the one whose husband died a year ago and she is living alone with her 7 year old son. she is really awesome though and invited us to eat with her today. the mission is awesome i am glad to hear everything is great at home and i am excited to come back and see you all, but i am sad that it is coming to a close here. i am going to use every minute of it. it has rained a lot and there was a pretty big storm thursday with trees falling and lots of wind and rain. we got pretty wet a few days, but we enjoy it ha. i am so grateful to be here and i have been learning a ton lately. i am practicing a hymn with the primary that they are going to sing next week in church, so hopefully that goes well. I am seeing the lords hand in everything and working hard to recieve his blessings. I love you all and miss you a ton. 

love 

elder smith

Monday, June 11, 2012

6-11-12


fotos: eating at a tacoria, me by a big spider, chilis rellenos, in the back of a truck, what we use to cook with, with a kid we found on the street with lots of turtles, me and elder barrera ready for the rain.









 
hello everyone,
 
this was another really great week and we were able to see a lot of miracles. there was a really big problem with the familia lopez barregan. the family that we have been working with since the start that we got here. one of kids lies a lot and is trying to separate the parents. his dad marcos and the hna gloria are trying to get married, but marco antonio (the kid) doesnt want them to.  anyways so he went and told the bishop and police that his step mom beat him and it created a HUGE PROBLEM. it wasnt really true, but the hna gloriela got mad because the bishop talked to the police. the bishop didnt know that the kid was lying and without explaining a lot, the bishop did what i or anyone would have done in the situation. they didnt say anything bad to the police like go throw her in jail. they just returned the kid home when his dad got there and there was no problem really, but the hna gloria got really mad at the bishop. we got thrown into the middle of the problem without understanding what happened. one miracle is that the day it happened in the night we showed up because they asked us to and then the relief society presidency showed up at the same time. I hoped we would just do a normal lesson but the hna gloriela got mad and told us about it....ha. but luckily the 2nd couselor is a phyciatrist and helped a ton. it was a way cool lesson. we mixed psychology with the gospel. by the end of the lesson. marco antonio and gloriela and marcos were all hugging and crying. It was something really powerful to see. from feelings of hate to love. the spirit was there so strong and it was a true miracle that i know god touched their hearts. sunday we were able to meet with the bishop and the family and fix talk that problem out as well so right now, everything is good. they should get married this week or next and then get baptized. missionary work can be a lot or work mentally, physically and psychologically ha.
 
also we had a miracle that we found a lady named guadalupe whose husband died a year ago. she came to church and we found her some friends who are members and she is set for baptism after we teach her everything else.
 
this week we also found a really great family. it was literally the very last house at the very end of the colony. we went and they let us in and it went really well. i learned a little more what it means to be humble. here everyone says humble is just a nice way to say they are poor, but really that has nothing to do with it. i learned humility is just doing what the lord asks and not depending on ourselves, but trusting in him.
 
i got really mad yesterday at a guy who tried to bible bash. idk why i got so mad. not at him, but just afterwords. i still have a ways to go until i can develop more charity for people like that ha, but i learned a lot from the situation. i read in the manual of george albert smith about missionary work and in my talk i gave this week in church i used a quote from it that says basically this, "i;ve never been ashamed to preach the gospel. idk why i would need to be ashamed just because i know the truth and someone else doesnt know it." he said it isnt our responsibility to make them know that it is true but it is our responsibilty to help them know how they can know. i know that this is the true church of jesus christ. that there is a living prophet and 12 apostles and that we have the priesthood auhtority of god to complete with the ordanances of salvation, including the sealing of a family. all that god does all that he did and will do is for our happiness, if we are willing to humble ourselves before him and trust in him always.
 
today i am going to help an hermana make lasagna. she asked if i knew how and i said that i saw my mom make it once. so we´ll see how it goes haha. everything here is going really well. we are preparing a fireside next week. nobody here really knows what that is and they thought an actually "fire" was mandatory, so next week we are going to make a fire, and bring marshmellows and everything and we are giving the class. we´re making it a ward tradition once a month.

i am loving the mission and seeing changes here in the ward. i played my come thou fount song in sacrament meeting and they all liked it. also we decided to have the primary sing a song in church in two weeks to try and bring more ppl to sacrament meeting and we practiced sunday. the ward got excited in the ward counsel and said they are going to rotate an organization to have a special number each week now!
 
i love you all and miss you and hope you have a great wek.
 
love
 
elder smith

Monday, June 4, 2012

6-4-12

this week went really well. i dont have like any time today im already late cause i had to go to the mission office to pick up my new temple recommend from presidnete and i went into his office after waiting like an hour an a half or something and then got to talk with him for a little bit which was nice though. he knows a lot and is super spiritual. you can feel it when you walk in. but due to that today i didnt have much time for stuff. 

the ward is doing great. we had a baptism this week. he is named jose and is from teapa. i learned that part of my area also includes the state of chiapus and a whole nother county! so its even bigger than i thought. jose is awesome and his parents are too, but the cant get married for issues with their papers. 

we had an assistence of 99 in church on sunday and in the ward counsel with all the leaders they were all super pumped. the ward counsel is really great too because everyone comes and the bishop just says, "elders, howd the week go?" and we share whats happening and what we need. and all the leaders say what they are going to do to help. and thats basically the whole ward counsel. 

our goal this week is to only teach complete families. that is the best way to progress. we have talked to a lot of families. there are so many problems due to disobedience to the commandments that destroy families. but we have been able to teach a lot of ppl and help them to begin to understand and receive the blessings in their families as they live the gospel of jesus christ. 

im focusing on a lot of things and learning a ton. i cant express in these letters all of the amazing experiences and the spirit that i am able to feel as a missionary. every day my testimony is strengthened and i receive spiritual confirmation that this is the true chruch of jesus christ and that christ lives and loves each one of us. I love you all and miss you a ton. and wish i could explain more, but no time. have a great next week. 

love 

elder smith

pictures. baptism of jose with his family, outside the church with elder barrera. i played "i feel my saviors love" and everyone said they liked it a lot and brought a great spirit, on the bus to teapa, it is a little scary haha and super super bumpy ha, but its alright ha always an experience





Monday, May 28, 2012

5-28-12


Pictures: temple in villahermosa we got to go last week, my bishop outside his house we ate there and it started raining really hard and flooded, some rabbits and one was huge and one really small.






 
hello everyone. hope you all had a great week. i had a lot of really great experiences. this week we have been going to a place called teapa. it is a place that takes about an hour to get to in a bus. the member came and brought the miracle investigator from last sunday. though she cant get baptized yet because her and her husband arent married and there are problems with their papers, they have an 8 year old son that is going to get baptized this thursday. he is really excited and it will be a great blessing for their family. it really was a miracle for us because there was no way we wouldve found them going and knocking doors cause its so far away. it is a cool part of my area with a big river running through it and some "mountains" as they say here (hills) ha. it is really beautiful though.
 
we worked super super hard this week and specifically worked hard with the members. we taught a ton! we had 19 lessons with members present. that is the best ive had in my whole misson and we taught 17 lessons apart form that without members. we worked hard with members to bring ppl to family nights in their houses and we talked with a lot of members and had them bring them to their friends. we got 12 references this week as well! sunday the bishop had ppl talk more about helping us. one of the high couselors who is in the ward said something really great. he said the ward is "white already for the harvest" for three reasons. 1) we have new missionaries who are really good and working super hard. 2) made a ward mission plan last week 3) called a ward mission leader that sunday. it is cool to see the ward coming together to work for a common cause. if missionary work is functioning in the ward, the ward will flourish.
 
we had some cool experiences this week. i really turned into like a marriage couselor this week. i still think that is one of the craziest things about being a missionary. the confidence that people have in us when we share the gospel. they literally look at me and ask. "what do we need to do to fix our marriage and our lives". one guy was basically decided to separate from his wife. it is a hard situation. we are working hard with them to help them to stay together and get married. i shared a scripture with him from moses 1 that talks about how when moses came out of the presence of god, satan came and tempted him. he answered satan with confidence but when satan showed his power he feared but trusted in christ and overcame satan. it is a good thing we can apply in our lives. when we try to accomplish the most good in our lives, that is also when the biggest trials and temptations come. usually we dont recogrize them as temptations of satan because they seem like small things or other ppls faults, but the times when things go well are the times we need to focus most on trusting in god and not let our guard down. if we arent progressing we are falling back. its like a manual car driving up hill. if we arent accelarating we roll back down hill and need more energy to get going again. 
 
we also counseled a women who lost her son this week. he was only like 18 and he died. we went and helped her understand better the plan of salvation. that families can be together forever if they are faithful to the plan of god and if they are sealed together by the priesthood authority of god in the temple. it was sad to see that even though she had faith in another religion, she was distraught. she literally couldnt function if she thought about him. she didnt think she would ever see him again. We helped her and taught her and sang hymns with her and i think she is going to really progress. she was a reference that we received this week also. 
 
i had a really powerful experience with president castañeda this week. we had interviews with him and he made me some really powerful promises for me in the rest of my life as i continue working hard and being faithful. everytime i am with him i always see that i have a long long way to go spiritually still.
 
well i love you all and miss you a ton. im working hard here until the end. it is crazy how fast each week seems to go by. i have already been here a month. have a great next week and good luck with school and work and everything. 
 
love 
 
elder smith 

Monday, May 21, 2012

5-21-12

hello everyone. 

well today i officially complete 22 months in the mission. it is so weird to think about. in many ways it feels like the life before doesnt exist, and in others it doesnt seem too long ago. either  way i am loving the mission and am learning a ton and having some really amazing experiences. 

this week there was a lot of great things that happened. it was pretty hard at the start. we had to drop basically all of the people that had baptismal dates. there are a lot of ppl here that say that they have faith, but dont really have that much faith. it is like just the popular thing to say. my comp explained it really well. if you are                       told the same thing 100 times by a lot of different ppl usually you accept that as the truth. though it is just something that everyone says. everyone here says that they believe in jesus christ. and it might be true. but believing in christ and having faith in christ are two very differnet things.  faith is always accompanied by works. and faith requires all of our works in every moment. when we are baptized we promise to take upon ourselves the name of christ and remember him always. that is what if means to be christian. (alma 47) be like christ. 

though this week was hard, we worked really really hard and prayed a lot and fasted to be able to find success. we have had the focus to work more and more with the members. we have gone by a lot of them to set up                family home evenings where they invite their friends to come listen to us. we have started to get a lot of success with that. the best way to reactive a family in the gospel (active or inactive in the church), is missionary work. we        saw a big change in the ward in just this week when we went and visited the members. we shared a message and challeged them and they all accepted. it is a lot harder to do that to find ppl than to just go knock a        door, but it is way more affective in the long run and helps us have real converts who are going to help the ward to be stronger. we talked with the bishop about our plan and on sunday he spoke and basically just repeated our talk with the whole ward, and then we had a special meeting with all the leaders of the ward to set up a ward mission plan and to put into practice the things that i did in minatitlan and the ideas we had. we set up a family night the house of the leaders of the church every week for the rest of the year, focused or bringing friends who arent members of the church. we set up activites. and also a day where all the leaders are going to go do visits to members and less actives. we could talk a bit and help motivate everyone and it was great to see that everyone was really excited to work. 

this week on saturday we did a special fast to be able to help the ward and to find investigators ready to progress.  we found a couple named ana maria and enrique. they are great and accepted  to be baptized. sunday we were a little sad because they didnt show up. we have been working super hard. like harder than any other time in my mission but we havent seen much of success, just a lot of trials. and when sunday came and they didnt show up because they went to a ranch they have we were a little disapointed but i kept being happy. at the last hour of church the bishop called us out of class and introduced us to a women of about 20 years old with her little baby and said she wasnt a member. we talked to her and she came with her mother-in-law. she said that she stopped working sundays and now wants to start coming each week to church. she is from an area really far away. like 40 min. we took her to the baptismal room and we invited her to be baptized and she accepted. It was truly a miracle. god challenges us until we almost cant go further but if we keep faithful and with a positve attitude, he always blesses us.  

i also found out that another couple is ready to be married and baptized that we have been teaching. so in the next few weeks we should have a lot of baptisms hopefully and the ward should start to really take off. we also got a ward mission leader called last week. another miracle i heard when i called elder johnston in minatitlan is that a girl i taught in mina who couldnt get baptized because of her husband walked into the church in mina looking for me. she said she moved and now can go to church one more week and get baptized! 

i found out my area is even bigger than i thought. we have three whole counties. and part of villahermosa. we are going to try and tour it all in a few days like one county each day or something, but it is huge! 

well love you all and miss you.hope you have a great next week. everything is great here. 

love 

elder smith

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5-14-12


hello everyone. it was great to get to talk to you all yesterday. a little weird for me to be honest though, so sorry if it was a little awkward. it is weird to realize that that world still exists, and it is weird to actually see it haha. it was fun to talk though and to see you all and see that you have grown and are keeping busy with everything. hope you had a really great mothers day mom. i love you.
 
this week here went really well and also was really tough. we´ve been working really hard these last few weeks working on how we can start to build up the area nad the ward again. we talked to a ton of ppl and taught a lot as well. we even got some references from the members and everything. by the end of the week we had put 9 people on date to be baptized. or in other words we had 9 people that accepted to be baptized on a certain day. which is really good for one week. the only bad thing is that nobody in the end showed up to church. it is a problem that basically every missionary in the whole world has all the time which is hard. how to get ppl to come. they have to have the desire, but we also need to help them understand the importance and the blessings. i prayed a lot about it yesterday and figured out a good thing that i am going to try. First you need to show love towards the person. then you need to understand and comprehend what is happening, sympathize that it is something difficult and that the devil is doing everything possible on his end to make it not happen. then teach the doctrine to help them understand and see the big picutre. then invite them, but have them make the decision that they are going to come. then remind them of the goal and help them each day to acheive it, keep them focused on the goal. I am going to try that this week and we'll see what happens. it seems like something you could apply to any sort of problem or argument. Usually we dont try too hard to think about who the other person is, what their circumstances are. the more they talk, the better.
 
Yesterday we had a fun experience. after i talked to you on skype we left and looked for this young couple we taught once. we got there and they let us in. they live in one of those houses made out of metal sheets. at the endish of the lesson it started to rain. then started to rain really hard. you could barely hear anything, and there was water falling down and i had to hold a cup and try and catch the water before it landed on us. But in the house almost yelling we invited them to be baptized, and they accepted. then at the end the man said the prayer in a very loud voice. there was a really cool spirit there with us. it was an experience that i hadnt had before. this family is really out of options. we made promises to them that if they gave all that they had left to god and promised that they would serve him, that he would provide for them all that they need. they accepted and it was a really great lesson. as the lesson ended it was still raining really hard. and as we prepared to go out into the rain, they didnt really believe us ha. we put our books in little plastic bags and then sprinted out into the flooded streets. We ran down the middle of the street in pouring rain with water already up to our ankles. lots of ppl saw us which was funny, but we had a lot of fun with it. we got soaked! but after like 10 min a taxi came by and we jumped in and he took us to our house. The rest of the night there wasnt power all the time, so i got out my flashlight and we hung up our wet clothes and i played hymns on the guitar. it was a fun night. 
 
also i found out that in my last area Vicente (baptized the 14th of april) was just called to be the young mens PRESIDENT! It is so crazy. im way excited for him and know he is going to be great. can you imagine having a month in the church and being called as a president of all the young men. He has made strides in his spiritual progress and will do great though, but he does have a lot to learn, but he will do it all well. 
 
i love you all and miss you and hope you have a great next week. 
 
love 
 
elder smith 
 
pictures: last night after the storm, coming from mina to villa in the morning.




Sunday, May 13, 2012

5-7-12


Hello all from my new area here in villahermosa. i got called back to villa, but in the other zone called gabiotas. i am in the ward called mercedes. it is a fairly new ward and has a few problems but as far as i can see, has good leaders and it will be good. the area is HUGE. def my biggest area yet. it is divided into like colonies, but each is like a miny city just with houses, each about the size of westlake or so, but more houses and smaller and more ppl ha. it is a little hard just because they took out both missionaries from the area and my comp and i are the new ones so nether of us knows the area. it isnt too hard though, just asking ppl you find your way pretty easily. the missionaries before have gotten a lot of complaints from the ward so they are excited we are here. i am looking forward to working hard, and so far the members have been really nice to us. we found the house and the area book and the area is sorta a mess though. my new companion is named elder barrera. he is from guatamala and just finished getting trained. he is a great missionary though and really excited and really spiritual. he teaches really well and i am excited to be with him. i am excited that i got to learn spanish, but it is definitly a huge barrier in missionary work at the start, but it brings success and blessings in a different way. im excited to work with him.
 
it is weird not being a zone leader or even a district leader. it is a small test of humility to answer the phone and talk to my district leader and receive counsel from him ha, but i think that is a good thing. i really did enjoy being a zone leader and helping all the missionaries and i learned a ton from the opportunity. it has also been way great to not have to worry about how other missionaries are working and how their investigatoes are doing and to just focus on my ward. i feel a lot less pressure and stuff ha. i have felt really good this week teaching and contacting and testifying to everyone.
 
there are some great ppl here. not too many investigators that are progressing a lot, but some good ones. the only ones they left is a mom and dad who arent married yet whose kids got baptized already. the family is great, but there are some pretty big issues still. we have taught them a few times and they are now commited to get married and baptized, so hopefully that happens in the coming weeks.
 
funny things. i ate pig feet. it was weird it was like really slimey meat kinda just like fat, and a lot of bones and in the shape of a pigs foot. it didnt really taste bad or good, there wasnt really much meat on the foot anyway hah. also i got pooped on by a bird yesterday while contacting a guy. they brought out napkins and stuff so i could clean in off and it came out alright ha.
 
saying goodbye to everyone in my last area was really hard. i was a little sad in my area looking at all the work there is to do and looking back at all the progress we had seen in the last area in insurgentes. i really love the ppl there and they became part of my family. it is always hard to leave. but also you always grow to love the new ward and ppl, so im excited for that.
 
i cant think of too much else but it was a good week. i am happy and focused. presidente told me that this is my last area and companion. and he said that this is what i have been working for all my mission so that now i can work just as the savior in the area that i should be in, with the comp i should be with and we will see and work miracles.
 
i love you all and miss you and am excited to talk this sunday with you. have a great week.
 
elder smith

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

4/30/12

lots of pictures and a lot more that i didnt send ha. 

this was a great week and we had a lot of success and got a lot done. 

this was my last week here in mina and i could say taht it was my best week here. we worked hard this week with tania so that she could get married and baptized. she is someone really special and is going to do great things. she doesnt have a lot of support from her inlaws, even though they are all members, they are all still inactive. the wedding went well but took a long time. it is a lot different than in the united states. here you just show up with your license and birth certificate and sign some papers and give them 500 pesos. also the rest of the family didnt take it too seriously so that was kinda sad. at one point they were signing the paper and the mom said, "its going to be for the rest of your life!" as a joke and then the judge lady said, "well we´ll see, probably not." it is a little bit of a sad perspective but something that has become true now a days. they are happy though and tania was able to get baptized.

her baptismal service was really great. we had some great talks. one by a girl named rosario and then another one by our recent convert of two weeks named vicente. he is on fire! he has the priesthood and is going to every activity there is. he is going to be a leader in the church for sure. we asked him to bare his testimony because one of the assigned speakers didnt show up. he w/out preparation gave an awesome testimony and shared something i didnt know. he said that before we talked to him on the street that day, he had been praying to god that he would put someone in his path who would help him in his life. shortly after i contacted him while on exchanges and he has been progressing ever since. it was a really powerful testimony and helped a lot. i got to baptize tania which was awesome and then elder johnston did the confirmation the next day in church.

i had a way cool interview for baptism with a lady who is basically constrained to a bed. she is having dialysis. i walked into her room and immediatly felt the spirit. the interview went really well and at the end i asked her to pray and she said no because she didnt feel she was good at it yet. i asked her to again and she said yes. she started to pray and immediatly broke into tears, thanking god for the blessings in her life and for the savior. she has such great faith and it was a testimony builder to me that even when physically we have little to nothing, god can make us powerfully spiritually. 

sunday was probably my best sunday in the mission as well. it was basically like a farewell for me ha. elder johnston and i spoke and i played a piano solo that i arranged to "if you could hie to kolob". after i helped do some things that they asked me to with the primary lke give away presents for "kids day" and they took a picture with us with them cause i was leaving. 

before my talk i had been praying really hard to first know what i should speak on, and then once i got to church that i would be guided to say what i needed to. Elder johnston gave a really great talk about the importance and significance of the sacrament. then i played the piano solo, and then i got to speak. the spirit was really powerful after i played the song and i told everyone i was leaving and thanked them for all of their love and support and service. i then spoke on the subject of answering the question of "why are we here" or "what is our purpose". I read some scriptures in moses 1:39 and DandC 11:20 and then shared a quote i liked by a 70 from conference that said, being active in the church and the gospel are not the same thing. i looked at the congregation after a few minutes and could see the staight scripture talk was not going so well, so i left my notes a little and started to speak about an experience i had in sacrament that day. Our convert Vicente and a recently activated and ordained priest named ricardo blessed the sacrament. when i looked at them during the sacrament i understood a little more about what christ did for us. i talked about the power christ has to change our lives and asked the people. Where was vicente and ricardo 4 weeks ago? vicente didnt know what the church was and ricardo was who knows where but because christ loves them and they obeyed, now they are servants of god´s army. as i spoke about them i got choked up a bit and had to stop speaking. that is when the spirit started to come really strongly.  i shared a quote by president monson about how we are a chosen generation and shared a few other points about what we need to do in this life. the to close i read my favorite scripture in mosiah 14:3-6 and then finished with a story. i asked everyone to close their eyes. i then described what it would be like to return back to the presence of god. describing ascending up and seeing the light and then seeing christ and being in his presence and telling him that in this life we served him with all of our heart might mind and strength. i then read Matthew 25:23 that basically said. well done, my good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over few things, i will make thee ruler over many things. enter into the rest of thy Lord. as i read that scripture i started to cry as well. the spirit was there so strong. i looked as i finished my talk at the congregation and just about the whole ward crying. I know taht that is our purpose. to one day return to live with god. the more we can remeber the faith we have the more often we have powerful spiritual experiences, the more power we will have to overcome the temptations of this life and return with our families, to the presence of god. 

i love you all and miss you very much. sorry its a little long this week ha, but it was a good. week. i am sad to leave my comp and all of the members and people here in mina, but i know that god directs this work and there will be many more experiences in store. hope you have an amazing next week.

love 

elder smith