Tuesday, December 15, 2015

15 December 2015 - Christmas!

I  loved doing The Twelve Days of Christmas. It was always a ton of fun. It's not too Christmassy here. There's trees in some houses and lights in about every 20 but not a lot. The Christmas Spirit here is great and the food. Chistmas here beyond being about Christ of course is about the food. Tamales and menudo and pozole and turkey and ham and so much more haha. I'd love to visit here again someday in the near far future with you all and odds are it'd be best in the Christmas season haha. 
We are able to read those books as far as I understand. Just not in our time of personal study. But I'd love to read them like I did Jesus The Christ. 5 min a night for several months till its done. Feel free to send them over haha. ( Referring to Boyd K. Packer The Holy Temple, and Temple Worship by Wilcox)
It's been such a blessing to be back in Pueblitos. I love it here. We are working so well its amamzing. It's a dream come true here. We are focusing a lot on the youth. After reactivation a few we've been working with them and their friends and cousins etc. We had several really good member references this week and we didn't even have to ask for them. We've made a little group of sorts with the youth and they come up all the time like hey I talked to someone at work and the next time you all come over I'll bring her so she can listen too. It is super fun. Thursday I had an exchange with Elder Anderson because he's whitewashing my old area so I went to teach him a bit of the streets and what not. Perhaps my favorite experience of the week was Thursday. We were walking up a street we honestly weren't planning on walking and passed by a school. The kids were on recess. We are walking by and suddenly I hear SMITH!!! ESMEET!! We look over and we see a little girl calling out to us. We stop by and she says wait just a second while I get my sister, she comes back and I remember who they are. They were daughters of one of the first families I taught. La Familia Morioqui. We set up an appointment to stop by that evening. It was so cool to see them all again. Jorge and Carla and all 5 daughters. We talked a bit and we realized that while I was teaching them before they were not quite ready but now they are. Elder Anderson has told me a bit of how the teaching goes and I'm just really happy they're back again. God has a time for everyone and everything. We sometimes need patience but in the end if we do our part we can see the results. I'm seeing that here in Pueblitos. Families that had been inactive when I was here are active now. Investigators I taught are now members and there's just so much good that has happened here. I felt a little weird coming back here but I'm beginning to see now that it was something I needed. Trust in God. Trust in his plan and His love. Go out and have the best week ever, I sure will. Sorry for the rush... again but I don't have much time this week. Feel free to edit this letter a bit to make a weekly letter of sorts you can publish on the blog.
I love you all tons and never stop being amazing!
Elder Smith

PS - Now that I am back in Hermosillo with the new mission president I get to go to the temple every six weeks on transfers.  :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

8 December 2015 - I got transferred!!!

I got transferred! I'm back in Hermosillo, the same ward where I started, Pueblitos. Just a different area there. I'm more Northern... yes that's possible. I'm here as District Leader now and I'm finising the training of a missionary named Elder Lara. Don't worry about the letters and what not. I talked with the Mercado and they said I can send stuff there all I want and the missionaries there will pick it up and send it off to Hermosillo, every month the zone leaders stop by. Also anything sent soon will get to me before Christmas because the entire mission is getting together the 21st. Sadly I will no longer be singing the musical number because I'm no longer in that area but I want to try to work something out for the ward here. 

I'm so happy to be back, it feels weird but it'll be good. I feel like I have unfinished business here. One of the coolest parts of being back is Gregorio and his family. I doubt you remember but when I left Pueblitos I wrote about a street contact we had with a guy named Gregorio. We taught a mix of lessons one and two on the spot in the chapel and then I left for Balderrama. I got a call about 3 months later from Gregorio saying thank you for what you said that day and that he had just been baptized. Now I'm here in the same ward and its so cool to talk to him and his family. I actually stopped by today.

I'm so happy everyone is doing great. I love hearing about it all!
Love you tons!
Elder Smith

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Elder Smith in the Nogales International Newspaper

* There are some great pictures that went with this article if you follow the link.

Just before stepping out into a pleasant November midmorning last Friday, Mormon missionaries Daniel Gavin Smith and Allan Garcia, both 19, kneeled down in their modest Nogales, Sonora apartment to pray.
In the Spanish he has nearly perfected over the last year while working throughout Sonora, Smith, a native of Centerville, Ohio, asked for help with the day’s work ahead of them.
“I had some background, a little vocabulary, and I more or less understood the vocabulary,” he said of the Spanish skills he picked up in high school before his mission. “But I couldn’t speak at all.”
Now, along with Garcia, a third-generation Mormon from the Maya Quiche community of Totonicapan, Guatemala, Smith has wandered the streets of Nogales, Sonora for several months trying to win converts and keep the faithful in the Mormon flock, all in his second language.
For both missionaries, Nogales, Sonora is a long ways from home, and neither knew much about it when they learned that they would be spending two years of their lives there.
“Cool,” Smith recalled of his reaction to the news. “Where is that?”
The pair is a part of an approximately 180-strong contingent of Sonora-based Mormon missionaries working out of the Hermosillo Mission, one of 34 in the country. There are about 20 missionaries in Nogales, Sonora itself, Smith and Garcia said.
Worldwide, there are more than 85,000 Mormon missionaries in the field at any one time. In Mexico, their work has won the church steady growth in membership, as shown both by church data and the Mexican Geography and Statistics Institute (INEGI).
The church claims 1.4 million current members in Mexico. Meanwhile, INEGI numbers show membership grew from around 205,000 in 2000 to nearly 315,000 a decade later. In Sonora, membership grew from 7,290 to 11,252 over the same period. Nogales, Sonora has two Mormon churches that serve around 2,100 members and Nogales, Ariz. has one, which serves more than 600, church officials said.
Though 83 percent of Mexico’s population still identifies as Catholic, the church has been steadily losing ground to a number of non-Catholic Christian religions, including Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), in recent decades. A similar trend is also seen in Garcia’s home country of Guatemala.
Unlike other Christian religions, LDS members include the Book of Mormon along with the Bible in their canon of holy texts. The book chronicles the colonization of the Western Hemisphere by Jewish settlers from Jerusalem beginning thousands of years before the birth of Christ. This, among other distinctions, leads some members of other Christian churches to characterize Mormons as non-Christian, which is contested by the LDS church.
Going on two-year missions around the world is a task undertaken by many young male LDS members and an increasing number of young women. Indeed, more than 40 percent of the missionaries he oversees in Northern Sonora are now women, said Hermosillo Mission President Terence Robinson. That shift was facilitated by a recent church decision to lower the minimum age of service for women from 21 to 19, he added.
Challenges and advantages
On Garcia and Smith’s agenda Friday was a visit to a local Mormon family that had stopped regularly attending church.
Such visits are common, both said, as are meetings with local residents suggested as possible converts by other church members. The pair also spends time knocking on doors cold in the section of Nogales assigned to them, which includes the center of town to several miles south, to share their beliefs with strangers.
However, successful conversion of new members, one of their main goals, can be a challenge. Smith said finding residents interested in meeting again to learn more about the church “is truthfully difficult,” though he added that he and Garcia are almost always listened to respectfully.
As the number of Mormon missionaries around the world has risen, conversions by each missionary per year have fallen to just over three, according to church data.
One of the challenges faced by missionaries in Mexico is what Robinson described as the common phenomenon of Mexicans living together without being married, a violation of core LDS church teachings. He said this is often due to the high costs of marriage ceremonies.
Otherwise, Robinson considers Nogales to be a fruitful place for missionary work, in part because of the number of residents who moved to the city from other parts of the country and who are without close family and friendship ties. Mexico’s deep history of Catholicism, which he conceded presents some obstacles, can also be an advantage given that Catholics already believe in many of the church’s teachings.
“(Catholicism is) an issue, but it’s also a blessing in my mind,” he said. “People that have a religious feeling, in some ways it’s almost better, because people believe in God.”
Life experience
Mormonism is not at all new to Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona. In the mid- to late-1800s, many Mormons established new communities across the American West, as well as in Sonora, Chihuahua and Canada, in response to U.S. prohibitions on polygamy, which is no longer accepted by the church, and general hostility toward the religion.
Colonies took root along the Rio Bavispe in Sonora, but most were abandoned as violence from the Mexican Revolution ravaged much of Northwest Mexico between 1910 and 1920. Robinson himself was born in a Mormon community in Chihuahua, which was resettled after its founders fled in the 1910s.
The church has also taken root in Nogales, Ariz., and a handful of members, like City Manager Shane Dille, have prominent public positions.
Nogales Police Chief Derek Arnson, a Phoenix native who did his mission in Argentina in the mid-1980s, said his two years abroad helped him “to grow up and become independent.” It also improved his already decent Spanish, which he said has been a critical skill for his work in Nogales.
Pointing to both the challenges, like sustained separation from family, and joys, like traveling to a new country, Arnson said that it wasn’t necessarily the best two years of his life, but certainly the best two years for his life.
“That saying makes a lot of sense,” Garcia said, agreeing with Arnson’s point. “You learn how to live with a lot of people with different customs, how to relate to other people better.”

1 December 2015 - A week ot be Thankful for

Just going to start off, I doubt it is possible but I do hope that your week was as phenomenal as mine. so much good happened. This week we ended up talking to tons of different people. Each with a different story and need. One of said people was a guy on the bus. We were headed to the church building for an activity and a guy hops on selling marshmallow suckers. As usual I buy one and then he sits down next to me and we start talking. He speaks English so that was an odd change for me but we get talking and it was one of the coolest experiences I've had on a bus. We don't talk very long but we talk about the gospel a bit. About the need for a Savior and he was in a moment of need. I hope the missionaries are able to keep teaching him since he doesn't live in my area. Then the other day we finally got Elder Arzate to stand up and contact the bus. As we were going around talking to the different people afterwards I started talking to a guy named Efrain. By the time his stop came up he had committed to read the Book of Mormon. I honestly don't remember every thing I said or that he said but I could tell the conversation was guided by Someone not he nor I.

On other subjects a baby scorpion stung me which was awesome. I've secretly wanted that to happen since arriving in the dessert of Sonora. My hand felt funny and tingly and hurt for a day and that was it. 

Don't get me started on Thursday! Thanksgiving is such a beautiful holiday full of gratitude and joy and food and happiness and food and everything wonderful. We helped the Mercado family cook rolls and pumpkin cake and wassail and a few other things. It was so so good, I mean look at the pics.

I'm just so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve. For my family and friends I have and basically for every moment this amazing life has to offer. Above all I'm grateful for an Eternal Father that loves me. That helps me every day. I'm grateful for His son Jesus the Christ. For all He did. I'm grateful for the Atonement. That through Him I can be clean, pure, and worthy to once again return to the presence of God. I'm grateful for the Holy Scriptures both ancient and modern. For All the prophets who have been guided by God to write the most amazing things. Words that teach us and guide us in our need and in every glorious moment of life.
Go out there and love every moment! Go be happy joyful people. Spread cheer and make every moment gold. Love everyone and serve in every way possible. I saw this video and quite enjoyed it. Give it a look! Thanksgiving is past here comes Christmas!

Love for ever and ever,
Elder Smith

Thanks so much dad. I love the temple too. It's such an incredible place. I've been once in Spanish and it was amazing I look forward to going again next time I get the chance (basically when I'm in Hermosillo again)
All I want is to help people get to the temple. It's what gets us working every day. Each word has that end in mind. Temple. It's such a beautiful concept and reality. The mount of the Lord is unlike any other.

Love you tons!
Elder Smith

I want to go to the temple so bad, I've been once since getting here, I'm sure it was amazing
send pics of the house and decorations etc!
Thanksgiving was amazing. So amazing. Everything turned out great and everyone loved everything, not as great as at home but the closest in a long time.
We are struggling with the Gonzalez again. I don't know what is happening. He kinda just disappeared, we should see him tonight so I'm praying for the best.
Here I'm doing great. I'm very set for the cold and I'm enjoying it a lot, I may buy another sweater if I stay another transfer but that's about it. I went earlier today to buy Lysi her christmas gifts. I think she will love them.
Thanks for everything you always do. Keep up the awesome! I'll try to sing Hark the Herald Angels sing but it'll be in Spanish haha. I found O Holy Night in Spanish too and I love it and if I stay here I'll be singing it in church for Christmas. wish you could come.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

24 November 2015 -A Crazy Wonderful Fun Week

This week was full of some of the most amazing experiences. 

Wednesday morning we visited the Martinez Family. They are a less active family that just moved here to Nogales. Sister Martinez has one of the strongest testimonies Iv'e ever seen and Brother Martinez is full of faith. Sadly, he doesn't have much of a testimony. We talked about strengthening your testimony and gaining a personal conviction. They also had several questions about the temple and vicarious ordenanzas. This was one of several moments this week where talking about eternal families helped people understand the gospel and prepare themselves for the next step forward. 

Later in the week we were talking with Sergio and his girlfirend. He's a less active that contacted us in the street one day. We stopped by and since he plays piano he taught me a thing or two while we taught them a thing or two about the gospel. While talking with his girlfriend the topic of eternal families came up. She opened up like never before, shes always been rather quiet but the topic of eternal families just rang home to her. We talked with them about the basics of the gospel and how that prepares you to have that eternal family. This moment was one where I could really feel the Spirit helping me know what to say, how to say it, and what to do. It was actually one of the best lessons I've had in a long time and whats more, Sergio and I are preparing a special musical number to play at church one of these days. 

Friday we had exchanges and I wasn't in my area. While I was away the Lopez family went with my companion and district leader to visit the Gonzalez. While there they talked about marriage and eternal families and it touched their hearts. Carlo is now actively preparing to be married and baptized to prepare for that goal of an eternal family. Honestly, the whole thing would have been incredibly difficult had the Lopez not been there. They testified and explained the blessing they've had and are helping and supporting the Gonzalez in their goals. Members are truly key in the work.

One more thing to add. A recipe. One of the easiest breakfasts ever and it's delicious.
Take about 9 corn tortillas and cut them in to rectangularish pieces. Not too big. Lightly fry them in oil with a bit of salt. Drain off the excess oil then crack in four eggs. Mix them about a bit but don't over scramble. Put on the lid until the egg is cooked then pour in tomato sauce. Sprinkle on cheese and once again put on the lid till the cheese is melted and gooey good. Serve it. Love it. Repeat.

Go out and have the best week of your life. Get better every day. That's kinda the point. We all keep making mistakes, just don't make the same ones over and over again! Make every day something special and have the best day every day. For thanksgiving really appreciate what you have and look for a way to share that with someone else. I miss you all tons, love you more, and wish you the best!
Elder Smith
 A really nice view of the city at night on our way home.
We decorated in honor of the Christmas Spirit.  

Carlos finally accepted a baptism date for the 26th of december which means he will need to get married before then. We will be having a blast working out the details but I'm stoked for the whole family. If the certificate turns out to be a problem we will find a way to get it through. 

The christmas vibe is here but not as strong as I'd like. We decorated the apartment and have been listening to Christmas music since ... really since I started the mission hahaha... but there are a few houses here and there with lights and good stuff like that. Lots of tamales and pozoli and menudo to come soon. I miss all the Christmas goodies like toffee and what not. I'd try to make it here but finding real butter is super super hard and it just wouldn't be the same. I settled for boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk to make a caramel like substance. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

16 November 2015 I am doing great!

Elder Smith sent a couple of replies to letters we sent, but didn't have time to send a real letter this week, so here is an edited version of the responses.  

Love to all who read and keep up with Elder Smith!

I'm doing absolutely great!!! I had the most amazing week! I wish I could tell you all about it but it's always hard to fit in everything haha. I apologize in advance because I doubt I will have time to write a full letter this week but the next will be fantastic! Los Gonzalez are doing great! Well sort of ... haha. Right now we are struggling with the law of chastity with them. They need to get married and I'm afraid that kinda put a bit of a trial in front of them but we will keep working with them. I just really keep praying for the ability to understand what it is the people we are teaching truly need. Honestly that's the hardest part. Spanish is second nature, the gospel is simple, the answers clear. I'ts finding the question that is so so hard. But that's what personal revelation is for am I right?
I'm so happy to hear that everyone is doing great. I miss you all tons! And keep being the great mother and member you are! 
Go have the best week of your life and I'll talk to you soon!
Elder Smith

Christ is such a perfect example in everything. It's truly interesting how he acted is such a wide variety of ways but when I think about it all I always think of this. Christ has a perfect perception of every situation (hit up Jesus the Christ if you ever need proof of that.. good stuff). I believe He acted in such a way as to create the greatest impact of good possible. That's why sometimes he invited people to see and share other times he asked witnesses to "tell no man". He knows what is best for each moment and we just need to try to be as in tune with the Spirit as He is so that we can understand as such too.

Thanks for the reminder about the patriarchal blessing. It's been a little while since I've last read it. It truly is an amazing thing. 
Also if you find a way to bottle up that toasty stove and send it my way please do haha. Nogales has a similar climate to Ohio so its quite brisk right now and should drop to about 25 degrees overnight tonight. Due to which I did buy a sweater and a couple other fall winter items with the debit card. 

Thanks for everything always. Love you tons and talk to you soon!
Elder Smith

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

11 November 2015 - Every Day Is Full Of Blessings: Remember That

What a fantastic week! We went full charged batteries on our area and it's been great. This week we weren't able to teach a ton but we contacted tons and already have a good half of this week filled with appointments. My companion and I have been making plans to try to contact more. One of these things is any time we get on a bus (which is almost daily) we contact every person on there. Basically one of us stands in front and talks to everyone there. Then we talk in person to everyone there. It's a little hard at first but every time gets easier haha. There's a word here "fierro" which means iron but in context is very motivational. Like here's an applied example. 

Hey its your turn to speak to the bus you ready? 
And then we get on the bus and it's great.

Early in the week every appointment we had fell through and the backup plan too and we were kinda at a loss of what to do we started walking and suddenly a kid calls out 
"Hey wanna join and play"
"What are you playing"
"Freeze tag"

So we play freeze tag for 20 min or so and talk to all the kids there and it was chill. They asked us to come back the next day so we did. We stopped by gathered the group taught a short lesson, set up appointments with all of their respective families and played freeze tag again. It was rather fantastic. I truly hope that this Tuesday we will be able to teach all of their families. 

The Gonzalez are doing great. We have been teaching them a lot and they are progressing a lot and blessings are just flowing from that home. One of their kids who had been inactive for many years has started listening to us when we come by and came to church last week. A friend of their son has been over a lot while we teach but has been a little distant you could say while we teach, but recently he has been paying more and more attention and even asks questions. I've loved being able to work with them.
This week was just full of amazing.

Here are the explanations for the pictures above

1. we bought una waflera for 50 pesos and its the best purchase ever. Other great functions include making quesadillas and toasting bread
2. Every hill comes with a view that makes you feel on top of the world
3. This place is just pretty
4. The Mercado family, just one of the coolest families here

I love you all and hope you have the best weeks of your lives. Never forget all the love that is sent your way. More than anything, never forget that we are children of God. Omnipotent, Omniscient, All-mightly, Loving, Caring, Perfect. we can be like Him. Never stop pressing forward in that goal. Till next week!
Elder Smith

Thursday, November 5, 2015

2 November 2015 - Best Week Ever Am I Right?

Best week ever am I right?!

This past week everyting has just worked out for us. First off as the "native" in this branch we've had surprisingly little trouble finding things. That's been a huge blessing. Then plans have just worked out. We plan every day what we will be doing the next. We always pray for guidance and ask that the plans we make can be what the Lord needs. This week especially we saw planning just work. People were there when we stopped by, as we walked the planned paths people found us and we found people to teach and help. The members this past week helped us out tons too! We went on splits three times and each time found someone to teach that was in need in that moment. 
The Gonzalez family made it to church again and are doing great! Tonight we will be having a family home evening with them and will be making tortillas. 
Sorry for the shortness of the letter but I don't have much time today. 
Go out there and do amazing things and have the most wonderful week. Make a special effort to become someone better.  Make special use of the Atonement this week. these past months I've been reading Jesus the Christ and the more I understand of His life and works, the closer I feel to Him. My invitation is that each of you take a few minutes each day and study something about the life of Christ. 
I love you all and talk to you soon!
Elder Smith

I got the package! It's perfect. I've been enjoying cereal with boxed milk that says "this product contains 73% milk" I'ts great haha but I miss good American milk. Transfers are the 6th of December and I really hope I don't get moved because fitting that lot in the suitcase wrapped and all will be a struggle but we'll see what happens 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

26 October 2015 Stress is the best!

Did you know that there are two types of stress? Good and bad. One shuts you down while the other is actually healthy and motivates you. I'm rocking that right now. We'll get to the why later. Until then I'll start from the beginning.

This week has been phenomenal. Unbelievable . And straight up amazing. We saw God]s hand in our work here without a doubt. This week we taught the Gonzalez family some more and can I just say, they have been a blessing from the start. They're truly one of the most amazing families I've ever met. We stopped by and friday. they are reading their assignments, they are doing their part to learn the gospel and then they;re the friendliest bunch ever. We walk in and within in 5 seconds the middle child Kiro Shesit is hugging you saying she missed you. then Ángel is having you make spongebob out of clay while La Hermana is making dinner and Carlos is telling you about how much he enjoyed the assignment we had left and how things are just working out in life better and better. They;re fantastic.

Then apart from that we are having the most amazing experiences every day finding and teaching people. Just the other day we were on the bus and an older member got on. He;s a little bad in the mind but nonetheless is a great guy. He always shares the gospel with every one he sees. He started talking with someone on the bus and presented him to us. His name is Andres. We start talking a bit with him but uur stop was coming up and Andres was headed much further so he gave us his address and we hopped off. A few moments later we hear someone calls out to us and we look back and Andres had hopped of the bus. He said something like "Hey I have a problem. I liked the way you talked to me and I think you can help." We happened to be near the chapel so we stopped by and started talking to him. He truly was full of need. We were able to talk to him and when we parted ways I could see a hope in him that hadn't been there for a very long time. Daily I'm shocked by the trust the Lord gives us to speak on His behalf. That day I truly felt like I had done my share. He isn't in our area but I expect great things from the missionaries that will be visiting him.

Those are a few of many amazing moments this week.
So we get to the end of the week and there were 4 baptisms. Two from Elder Bazan and Rivero and two from Magdalena (a small town about an hour from here) that was amazing to see. Right after we were told about transfers. Every missionary in the branch here was sent somewhere else. Everyone but me. So even though I still don't know all the areas too well, I'll be teaching all I know to everyone. This will be a very good stressful experience for me haha. I'm stoked to get lost every day haha. but like I said, everything stressful can be a motivation or a lock down and I'm ready to make this the best transfer of my life.
Have the best week ever I love you all tons! Keep up the amazing!
Elder Smith

PS. The pic is of a dish a recent convert made. It is called ceviche. It's probably one of the most delicious things I've eaten in many a long moon. It's prepared cutting up in smallish pieces fish and shrimp. These are placed in a bowl uncooked and covered in lime juice. You let it sit for 20 min or so until the acid in the lime cooks the meat. Then you add onion, cilantro, tomato, seasoning, clamato (tomato juice with clam flavoring). Mix the lot and eat with tostados or tortilla chips like a salsa. It's sosossosososoososooooo goood. Don't let the raw seafood trick you into thinking its not. If you get the chance try it. That's all!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

18 October 2015 - Life's Just Great Ya Know?

So last week was so so amazing. 
The blessings just kept coming time and time again. The Lord is truly helping us find the people He has prepared for us. Our rededication to his standards is helping so so much. This past week we got to teach several amazing people. One of whom really stands out to me. The family Gonzalez had been inactive for a long long time but as I previously stated they showed up to church suddenly last week and this past week we got to stop by to talk with them. We had a street name but no house number but after a year here that is good enough haha. Soon we found ourselves outside their door. The moment they saw us they ushered us right in saying they were wondering when we'd stop by. We start talking to them all and they are so ready to receive the gospel. most to reactivate and one, the husband to learn all about it for the first time. He is golden. We left Saturday night leaving him an assignment to read several things and Sunday morning when we saw him in church he had already started and had everything all planned out to be ready for the next visit Wednesday. He loved church and is really just a blessing. and then the ward here  they're just great! We hardly have to ask people to visit with us. They come to us asking when the can go visit people with us. We're reaching a point where I hardly know what to do with all the work. its amazing.
Friday we had a 9-5 meeting wtih president and the zone. 8 hours of some of the most edifying teaching and learning I've had in a good while. One of the things that really stood out to me was President Robbinson and his comments of conversion. He spoke about several things but he referred to the Old Ship Zion (Elder Ballard last conference) and how there's really no where else to go. No other way will take us to the celestial kingdom. Too often people see a crack in the wood or a fading paint job and decide to abandon the ship and try swimming on their own but it never works. people will attack your faith and your beliefs but if we have a testimony of what matters most, we will be safe and secure. "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith"
Personally im looking forward to the best week of my life and I hope the same to you all! 
I love you tons and please enjoy the pics haha. 
Elder Smith

1. Giant centipede we found
2. The largest body of water I've seen in over a year. (Where all the rain waiter joined together after the rain last week)
3. Gorgeous sunset
4. Border hoppin'
5. Walmart selfie with the comp (fun fact, my current hair cut is called the willy. hence forth everyone has been calling me Willy Smith (Will Smith spoken with a Mexican accent))

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

12 October 2015 - The Blessings of Obedience

So we had a truly amazing week. It was a bit slow but so much good happened. 
Both me and my companion got hit by a cold that had us essentially bed ridden for two days. We left for appointments but that was about it. Nonetheless things went amazing. I remember one of the days we left around 5 or 6 to go to an appointment. I felt horrible but we went out anyway. While we were walking my companion and I started talking about how we could improve "What lack I yet?" to a certain extent. In that moment we talked a bit about being more diligent. Later as we went to the appointment, no one was there. So we left a note and went to the next. Same. No one. We were walking away and ran into them in the street on their way home. Sadly they were unable to attend us at the moment but we set an appointment for the next day. At this point I was crazy exhausted. bad bad headache and serious nasal congestion. I wanted to head home basically. But my companion said hey lets check and see if Elena is home. So we went. Not home. Once again I'm ready to go home but I think I needed to learn a lesson that evening. My companion said Hey lets check one more place before heading home. It's on the way anyway. It was a reference we had received a few weeks ago. We had been trying to find them and had even made appointments and all but never had the chance to really talk to them. This evening we stopped by and a young mom came out. We asked if Carmen (the reference) was home. she was Carmen it turns out. She let us in and we got to talk for almost an hour. It was amazing. She had had some questions and had talked with a member friend that lives in Southern Mexico and even chatted online through mormon.org. She also had watched general conference at home by invitation of said member. It was awesome. We were able to clarify some of her questions (some of which I could really notice the Spirit's help in answering). Basically it was an awesome lesson. What's more, as we talked I felt no pain or discomfort due to being sick. We were truly blessed for diligence that night. 

As we made it home that evening we decided to keep in the improving spirit and we pulled out the good ol missionary manual. We went though page by page and set goals to ensure we were keeping in line with the mission standards. We had several things to change and I can already see the blessings. For one, these past days as the alarm goes off, while groggy, I haven't felt too tired. Normally I feel destroyed come 6:30 am but right now it's almost easy to get up. Sunday was awesome. Out of the blue a less active member and her nonmember husband and child came to church. We didn't even know they lived in our area (we are slowly trying to get to know the 300+ less actives in our area). They have a lot of interest in reactivating and want their child baptized and the husband as well. More to come in following weeks I hope :) and then we went out working and things just went great that evening. We searched for several people and didn't find them but after scaling what would be a moderate staircase here (some 15 flights probably) we decided we  better get something useful out of that effort so we stopped by a less actives house and their dog tried to eat us and no one was home but we stopped by the neighbors to see if they knew when we would be able to find them home. They received us in a very friendly manner. They're an older couple living with their daughter, son in law and grand child. We shared a short message with the grandparents and set a return appointment for today when everyone will be there. It should be awesome. The Lord really blesses those who are obedient. We had been seriously struggling to have any work or progress in our area but after recommitting to being obedient things just started going great. Keep trying to be perfect and even though we all mess up, our efforts go far from wasted. They take us to success. Never stop being amazing and have the best week ever! I love you all and hope to hear from you soon!
Elder Smith

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

5 October 2015 - " If only I had time to write a novel about how amazing this week was."

So many amazing things happened this week. I'll just say them as they come to mind. 
Early in the week I had exchanges with the district leader. I ended up with Elder Rivero in his area. H'es amazing. He's got just over 3 months out and is straight up one of the best missionaries I've ever met. We had such a cool day. He's the type of guy that never gets down so the day was full of fun. Down to knocking doors exhausted and no one letting you in became enjoyable and positive. He's also the shortest Elder Iv'e met here. haha

The next day we got a call from Carlos Sinohui. He had been in the hospital in Hermosillo for the past two weeks and he finally got released. We were able to stop by the next day. He's a true inspiration. Almost nothing went as desired and he was still happy and joyful. He holds to the faith and fact that God is good and that what happens happens, you just need to keep a good attitude and learn something. They took out about 20 liters of water that had built up inside him. Needless to say he was looking much skinnier haha. He is still weak and can't do much or go outside in daylight but he's getter better and better and even though I don't know him super well I love him and can't wait to keep teaching him. I truly hope he gets better soon so he can follow his desire to be baptized.
This week is concilio so I'm hoping to get the backpack and what not this week sometime. 
Keep being awesome all of you! Love you forever.

I can't even begin to explain how amazing general conference was. It was truly inspirational. I started putting a star next to every talk I wanted downloaded and basically all of them have stars haha. It was the most amazing conference I've ever seen. They put it in English in a separate room for all the English speakers so that was really nice. Like sure I can listen in Spanish just fine but I love hearing their real voice.

Each talk, down to each song, seemed to answer a question or give me inspiration I had been seeking. Like last conference the opening address was a favorite of mine. President Uchtdorf spoke of making things simple. How sometimes we are searching for something complicated and intricate when what we need is something simple and vital. The gospel itself is incredibly simple. We all need to simplify our focus and go for the basics. I loved one of his last remarks as he stated that exaltation is our goal and discipleship is the path. As Richard J Maynes explained, we need to be centered on Christ as clay on a potters wheel if we desire change. Centering our life on Christ and always looking to improve is the way to begin on said path of discipleship. "What lack I yet?" LarryR Lawrence clearly explained the importance of asking such questions to ensure constant progression.
I dont think sweeter or more potent words said about Mothers and their important role could be said than those stated by Jeffery R Holland. I love you Mom. Forever. As you continually show divine love to me and all you meet you change lives. Keep being one of the greatest examples I have. Thanks for teaching me and making me who I am. 
I loved the words of D. Todd Christofferson as he explained the divine necessity of the restored church. One of the most difficult things I face here in teaching is explaining what he so clearly explained. The common mindset here is that every church is a door into the mansions of God, and that church really isn't even necessary. I loved how he explained how that mindset was erroneous. How that concept epitomizes that wide and easy path. How saying it doesn't matter takes away the vital and divine importance of covenants and ordinances brought to pass through the divine authority of the priesthood. 
i could go on and on and on
i loved this weekend so much.
Go and have the best week ever all of you and do amamzing things. Keep tight to the path of righteousness and never leave. Look to improve. Enjoy every moment. as Elde Bednar quoted, "Come what may and love it!"
Go love every moment and do more and more amazing things!
Love you all,
Elder Smith

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

28 September 2015

So this week was so so amazing. I'll get to details in a moment. Other news is that I found a way to upload pictures now so I'll send a couple.   ( See the end of the letter)

 As a mission here we have a goal that every companionship contacts 70 people a week. or 10 a day. This past week we kinda forgot about that until Friday night and we were looking at things and realized that we had contacted a grand total of 9 people so far. 61 short of the goal. We had one day to talk to 61 new people. The most we had previously been able to do in a day was around 30. So it was a feat. But we went forward with faith. We made plans. Wrote name and number on 61 pass along cards and set out. We talked to every.one. we saw. Many said we could stop by.  Many said I'd rather not and a few just walked away. We rode the bus a few times and I stood up in front talked to the lot inside and then we passed by and asked who we could visit. We hit 8:50pm and went to count the cards and found we had one left. We were walking home at the time and no one was out. But just before getting home a young man walked by and we talked to him and basically we met the goal. I could really see how the Lord had helped us that day. We may have slacked a little in the beginning of the week but the Lord saw our hearts and blessed us with the ability to do what He had asked of us. I could help but to think of the talk by Elder Eyring in April 2010 where he says:
"Plead that the Spirit will show you what the Lord wants you to do. Plan to do it. Promise Him to obey. Act with determination until you have done what He asked. And then pray to give thanks for the opportunity to serve and to know what you might do next."
We knew what we had to do. We prayed for help. We made plans. We promised to do our best. Then we acted in diligence and determination. I for one was very grateful that evening. 
Oftentimes we are faced by what seems almost impossible. That day we lost about 4 hours of regular work due to interviews with president (which were awesome btw) and we had no idea how we were going to do it. But the people were put in our path. It was interesting to me in another point too. Because normally during the day at some point someone approaches us and talks to us instead of us talking to them but that day nobody did so to me it was like the Lord saying "I will put the people there for you, I will help you know what to say but you need to prove your willing to do so." It was a good reminder that if we want something done we need to act. It's one thing to say I have faith I will contact 61 people or I will find a better job or I will make amends with that person or whatever the case may be. It's another thing to put that faith to practice, to the test. To go out and do something about it and then watch the miracles occur. always remember that faith is a principle of action and power. It empowers us to act. 
On a new note. President interviews were fantastic. We talked about sever htings including obedience and conversion. He sent me off with a study assignment that I've already found to be really interesting and useful. I am to study the why Jesus was obedient to his father, D&C 76 focusing on the attributes of those that inherit a celestial glory, Abraham 3 and the why the earth was created in the first ´place. finally I'm to study how Christ feels toward us and how others feel about Him including 3rd Nephi 11-end of 3rd Nephi and Mosiah 2-5. One thing I've really liked so far is that obedience is the first of the celestial laws. How exact obedience leads to blessings and progress. How it creates trust between one person and another. God wants to entrust us with all that he has but we need to show him that we are worthy of said trust. 

keep being amazing and awesome and have the best week of you life!
Miss and love you all,
Elder Smith

1. Probably my favorite flower I've seen here, to think something so spikey and unfriendly like a cactus could make something so beautiful haha pull you own analogies.

2.  The Mexico US border

3. Average neighborhood here in Nogales

4. There's a lot of hills here. So there's a lot of stairs. Good thing I just love to climb stairs and literally 45 degree incline roads

5. We have a lot of fun trying to find addresses here considering many roads look like this or even less like a road

I hung out with Simi. He's the mascot of a pharmacy here that's everywhere and he makes me laugh a bit every time I see him haha. We were headed back from playing soccer this morning when I found him. Hence the shorts and t-shirt instead of tie haha. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

23 September 2015

( This was the only picture he could get to upload.  It is obviously concerning.  :)

Such an amazing week! I felt so so blessed. The people here are so cool and I just love it. I'm in a largish branch right now of a bout 70 people and everyone is excited to work. At least 3 came up to us directly and told us when they were available to go visit people with us. In the week we spent a lot of time searching for people and not finding too many but there's always a higher plan than that of our own. Every time we searched and didn't find the person we were specifically looking for we ended up being able to talk to someone else amazing. I remember one moment thins week I really liked. We were looking for a house that was "Brown red and orange" we had that and the Street to go on. We walked the Street twice. Nothing. Then suddenly a little kid comes running up to us and asked "Hey are you guys lost or something" we were like "Ya a Little haha" and asked him if he knew the guy we were looking for. He was like "Ya! He's my dad. Right over here!". We get there and he's like "head on up he's right there and tell him I told you guys where to find him!". This guy turned out to be super super cool. We taught lesson 1 in 15 min. cause that's the time he had and he wants to read the BOM and go to church and everything. Then another evening we were searching for someone and nobody answered so we decided hey let's see what happens and we knocked on the neighboring apartment door. Once again someone amazing was waiting on the other side. It was just awesome moments like that filled the week.
On Thursday Elder Peiper of the Seventy visited us. It was such an awesome experience. Instead of just speaking form the pulpit he came down and interacted with us. He showed us a neat little "trick" of sorts. He had us ask whatever question we had. So we asked 15-20 questions. He wrote them down and then started teaching doctrine. He talked about the basics and the most key parts of the góspel. Funny how even though he didn't answer even one of the questions in specific but nonetheless everyone understood the answer to each one by the end of the conference. It was a great learning experience how the true doctrine resolves doubts and teaches the people. It's not the fancy answer full of deep concepts that "wow", but its the basic truths that help. This week I've also been reading a lot in Jesús the Christ and that's exactly how Christ taught. He taught the doctrine and allowed the Spirit to answer the people questions.

I hope you all keep being amazing. Do remember that the best way to be happy, the most efficient way to resolve problems, the best way to live, is to live every aspect of the gospel. Never give up. Never give in. Keep being awesome and keep yourself pointed steady and sure in the path that leads to Eternal Happiness. Love you all!
Elder Smith

From a different note written back to some questions I asked Gavin:

How is your new area?  Can you tell me everything about it, and what I should pray for you in this área?  How are the people in the area?  Does it seem the same or lots different than where you were before?- 

So my new área is incredible. I love it so much. It is such a beautiful city. I mean just like Hermosillo it's kinda dirty and polluted but I love it here anyway. There are hills everywhere like I said and all the houses are hillside so lots of stairs and steep steep inclines up to 45 degrees oftentimes. It's a serious leg workout. Come on down and try it out sometime :). The people are incredible. I love them. It is slight but the culture feels just a little different. I feel like the people in my new área are just a little more open. It's great.

How is your new companion?- My new companion is fantastic. He's from Tabasco and is a recent convert of 1.5 years but a pesar de eso he really knows a lot. He's a great worker and has an awesome attitude for the work. The only downside is that he doesn't like to listen to Christmas music all the time like I do because it makes him a titch homesick haha. oh well :)

Do you ever use the My Family book that I made for you?- I actually get to use the book quite often. Every time we have the chance to teach someone who begins to progress, we teach about family history usually with lesson 2. and I always carry that booklet with me to show them. Thanks again for making it.

Oh and I'm so so happy to here about the baptism you all had. That's so incredible. I almost got to see that happen in my first área but in the end she kinda just slipped away. I don't really know why. Hopefully soon that happens.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

14 Sept. 2015 - Transfer to Nogales

So, I learned a really good lesson this week. Kinda humbling, kinda painful but a good lesson. I'll get to that in a minute.
First off I got transferred. I am now working in Nogales, Sonora. It's quite the change. I've got a bout 5 hours here but it seems awesome. First it's not hot. The breeze is refreshing instead of burning and I'm barely sweating. Second it's super hilly. No flat areas. I love it! Finally my area technically includes the US Mexico border so that's cool. From the top of a hill next to the apartment, we can see Arizona. My new companion is Elder Bolaina. He's super cool and I barely know him cause I met him 5 hours ago but more to come in weeks to come. I'd love to send pics of everything but that won't be happening this week due to technical difficulties. Oh well haha. 
This past week was really cool. We were able to go out with members almost every day of the week to do visits and that was awesome. Bishop took us to visit a less active  who needed to be visited. We went by and Rocky told us that he had been hoping someone would pass by that week and that he wanted to come back to church. That was probably one of he coolest experiences of the week. 
Here's a lesson I got to learn. Two months ago a member gave us a reference to go visit. We stopped by several times and never found him. So we kinda forgot about it. Last week Hermano Gurrla calls us and asks why we hadn't stopped by and tells us that he set it up or us to go there at 7pm that day. So we go knock and same deal. No body was home and then suddenly in the apartment next door a guy came out and was like come in come in! He was Alejandro, the reference. We had an amazing lesson with him and it turns out he wants to get baptized asap. Later that night we got transfer calls and both me and my companion left for other places. It was a lesson to me because honestly, we should have found Alejandro months ago. We should have asked the neighbors if the knew an Alejandro but we didn't. We should have verified with Hermano Gurrola but we didn't. We let it slide. The Lord had prepared someone for us and we just weren't as diligent as we should have been. I know he will be in good hands and those that now teach him will be great, but it was a bit of a reminder to me to be diligent and really put in my best efforts. Now I just need to find the people here in Nogales that are prepared and ready. 
The true highlight of the week came Sunday. The mexico city temple was rededicated and instead of regular sacrament meeting it was broadcast by satelite and we got to see that. It was so so so amazing. there were three separate sessions and we went to all three. Each session was just a little different. I think my favorite talk was from Elder Holland in the second session. He spoke about the scripture in Malachi 4:5-6 (also found in D&C 2, 3rd Nephi and JSH). section 2 cites it as follows:

 1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

 2 And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

 3 If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.

He talked about how people have been waiting for Elijah for many many years, the Jews have been waiting for over 3,000. On the day of the Passover feast in April, few years after the church was restored. Elijah came. As Elder Holland says, probably one of the most important events of the worlds history considering that if he had not come, the earth would be wasted. We have been born in a time where the fullness of the gospel is restored. Including the sealing ordinances and vicarious work. Not everyone has had that chance. But we do and as vs. 2 states. we made promises to do the work of our ancestors. We promised before our time here to find and do everything possible to save them all. We are blessed with that great opportunity and responsibility. We need to do our part. We so promised.

It was a fantastic week and I hope it was for you all too! Love you tons and keep up the awesome awesome work you do! Do something unexpected and fun this week!
Love forever,
Elder Smith