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 casta├▒eda 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