Thursday, May 28, 2015

28 May 2015

So interesting things abut this week. monday We had a family home evening with a bunch of people. La familia Ochoa hosted and we had around 15 people there, many of which were investigators. it was super fun. We used a pretty cool object lesson. We bought a pack of cookies and asked for a volunteer. Hermano Peña (preplanned) graciously volunteered. We then went and offered cookies to each person. The first took a couple and then we asked Hno Peña to do 10 pushups. Then we went to the next. She took one cookie and we had Hno Peña do ten more. The next person refused the cookies and then we asked Hno Peña to do ten more. and on and on in the circle until everyone had had the opportunity to receive cookies and Hno Peña had done 10 push ups for each person. We connected this activity to the atonement. Our forgiveness and trials are paid for just like the cookies whether we take advantage of that or not. I'll let you all draw the rest of the analogies yourself but I thought the activity was awesome and it definitely captured the attention of the kids that were there.

Later in the week we went to keep cleaning up the burnt house from the other week. We got all the rubble out and cleaned the floors. I came out black everywhere even despite the face mask I was wearing. I had black mucus for several days but it was definitely worth it. The lady is being taught by the Sister Missionaries and plans to be baptized in a couple weeks. 

Thats about all the interesting for the week. Here's an update on the people we are teaching.

Efrén- we taught him one last time this week but it turns out he is moving to the south end of the city so we set him up with the missionaries down there. Hopefully he keeps being golden.

Manuel- we talked to him about the blessings of keeping the commandments and he made plans to go to church and everything but didnt make it. We are trying really hard to help him with the things going on in his life as well, more to come.

Juan- He's awesome. I don't even remember how we started talking to him but we have been talking with him. He lives with his mom to help take care of her. She suffered an accident and can't talk or walk or even move very well. She can kinda write more or less but she understands everything perfectly. It's so cool to see her smiling and sometimes with a tear in her eye as we are teaching them or singing a hymn or what not. They planned on going to church and everything but the mom couldn't sleep well and had some problems in the night so they were unable to make it this week but we´ll see what we can do for them. 

Francisca- She is pretty awesome as well, she has a lot of desires to change and do the right things, she just needs a little extra push. 

That covers the bulk of the teaching we are up to right now but things are going great, talking to lots of people still and we'll see what comes

I don't have a lot of pics this week but here's two, kinda random but it's what I've got
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My chips toldme to say no to drugs. I am obeying

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Its a stop sign I now have. Still trying to figure out how in the world I'll get it to the states in 18 months.

Oh so I've almost almost finished reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish. I have two chapters left. I love the words of Moroni about charity. How charity is the pure love of Christ and without it, faith hope, humility, the whole lot, has no real worth. It's so true. Without truly loving the people around you, your actions will be in vain. If you have Charity, you will do the things correct because you know its what you are those around you need. and then I love what he says after he speaks strongly and directly. I speak boldly because I have authority from God; and I fear not what man can do, because perfect love casteth out all fear. Wise words. True words.
I love you all and hope you have the best week ever!
Elder Smith

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

18 May 2015

Alrighty so its been an awesome week 100%. I'm getting along really well with my new companion and I'm loving the new area I'm in. This week among many other things we have been doing lots of getting to know the people where I'm at so I'm having an absolute blast trying and often failing to remember the names of a lot of people but it's all good its coming along just fine. So as far as interesting stuff goes this week beyond absolutely everything of course. wednesday We went to help paint someones house and I discovered that cats have velcro like attributes.

Right as we were finishing we got a sudden call from the sister missionaries asking us to come help someone out and to bring dirty clothes, face masks, and gloves. So off we went. It turns out an investigator of theirs had their entire house burnt to ashes basically. Nothing but the cement walls and roof was left. So we spent the next while removing the big stuff like burnt out bedframes, couches, fridge, etc. It was really quite the impressive sight the whole thing but I was super happy that we had the chance to help out and we will be headed back that way to keep working this week. It just felt really nice to have the chance to get my hands nice and dirty and do some grunt work, it had been a while. What was even better was that we were able to help someone in a lot of need in that moment. and then to add to it all the lady we helped came to church Sunday for the first time. Service is awesome. Never miss a chance to help out in any sort of way. as King Benjamin so wisely stated in Mosiah 2:17 "I tell ye these things that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." 

The Bro I'm next to is my current companion and the other Elder is in our ward. 

So honestly thats about all the interesting stuff this past week but its definitely been a great time
The peole we are teaching here are awesome. When i first got here my companion said that honestly we basically had no one to teach at that time. He was mistaken Ii guess haha. We had an amazing week where we were able to find and teach several different people.

Efrén- we started talking to him early in the week. we set up an appointment at the church and he came early, que pena because we were late.. but it ended up being an amazing lesson where we helped him a lot with some questions he had. We taught him again later in the week and he was amazing. He had read the reading assignment we left, and then about 6 chapters of first Nephi and also all the introductory pages of the Book of Mormon. We had another great lesson and then he came to church Sunday and said that he really enjoyed it and felt comfortable and like it was where he needed to be. That was awesome to hear. Shout out to members doing their part and fellow shipping. We will continue teaching him these next few weeks but in three or so weeks he's headed off to Mexicali for a time. Hopefully he can keep heading down the right track out there too.
Francisca- She's someone Elder Hernandez and Elder Larsen had previously contacted but could never find at home. We went the other day for a last time to see if we could find her and there she was. We talked for a long time and well, it was just a really good time because she was able to begin to grasp what she needed to do. She wasnt able to make it to church and we don't know why but we will see what we can do when we see her this week.

These are the two we are really focussing on, we're teaching several others as well that are also super awesome but for another time.

I invite you all to read in Mormon 9 especially verses 25-28. I studied this part this week and loved so many things about it. But just remember that just believing can take you far. Do not doubt, more, be believing. Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to succeed. When we put our trust faith and belief in him, the troubles we have simplify and the world becomes even more beautiful and amazing than it already is. Let us not be doubtful people and instead put full belief in those things that matter most, that truly have value. 

I love you all tons and hope you have the best week ever! Do amazing things and then tell me all about it cause I love to hear from you all!

Lots of love,
Elder Smith

Oh in PS. here are a few others pics for those who enjoy pics

I saw this mannequin walking down the street that other day and he just looked like such a bro i had to take a pic.

A close up on the snickers I deep fried a couple weeks ago. it. was. amazing.  ( Sorry I couldn't get that pic in)

Finally a pic with the old comp Elder McCabe. in front of one of my favorite plants I've ever seen here.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

11 May 2015

So it's been an awesome week. Nothing too crazy to report but I'll see what I come up with that;s interesting. 

Okay so Friday was pretty rad. First cool thing. We were walking down the street headed South and suddenly i needed to use the bathroom. We had just passed the chapel so we decided to head back that way real quick. While walking we heard rapid footsteps behind us, thinking it was someone in a rush, we stepped to the side to let him pass, but instead of rushing by, he stopped and asked us if we were preachers, we said ya that'd be one way of putting it, basically we start talking and we all end up going to the church and we talked to him and taught him for a little bit. He has been searching for certain answers that are so easily found in the gospel of Christ. One thing that stood out to me is when he asked about his father. his dad had disappeared a few years ago and is presumed dead. He left on a flight to Columbia and never made contact. Gregorio (the guy we were talking to) wanted to know what happened to him should he be dead. He explained to us as well that his dad, although a good person in general, did not make an honest living considering he was a drug traffiker. we explained to him about what happens after we die and everything and he looked at us and said that no one had ever told him with such confidence and with no doubt what happened. It was a testimony to me because honestly I was afraid to explain to him that odds are his dad isn't in the best of places right now but that perhaps he was being taught by spiritual missionaries. It showed me that the truth is always the best way to go. He's just an awesome person and I could go on for a long time about him but I'll leave it there for now. Hopefully I,ll hear more about him over time. 

Later Friday night we had a Mother's day event at the church which was super fun. There was food and tons of people and entertainment was golden. We had people attempt kareoke, us missionaries sang a song, lots of stuff. Eli Jaime did a dramatic speech about the worst mom ever which was super cool. It was just awesome. The next fun thing that happened was Saturday night. we got the call and I got tranferred. so I was headed out. To celebrate we bought an ice cream cake and then deep fried oreos. To top the lot off, Sunday night we deep fried snickers and it was amazing. I fully recommend it to all. 

Sunday I had the chance to skype the lovely fam and it was super cool to see them all. I really enjoyed it. So my new area, it's cool as far as I can tell. I've been here less than 12 hours but it seems good. The house I'm in is a little bigger than the last and it's actually in pretty decent repair. The faucet is leaky but I'm hoping to see what I can do about that soon. (shout out to dad for teaching me what tools are and what not) The area itself feels tiny. its about 1/8 of the size of my last one so that'll be a change but I'm thinking it'll be nice. Nearby in my district is and elder named Elder Bigger who is the only person i have found here that is taller than me. It's kinda weirding me out but hey oh well. My new companion is named Elder Hernandez. He seems super chill from what I can tell and we will get along just fine. He's from Mexico, Mexico. I'd send pics but I don't have a way to upload any this week (will work on that and send lots next week) but ya it's a chill place and chill time. Honestly that's about all I've got for you all for the time being but i'll be sure to have lots more to say next week! 

Ii love you all tons and hope you have the best weeks ever and be sure to do something fun you weren't already planning to do. 
Lots of love and all them good vibes!
Elder Smith

So  forgot to mention last week but I thought about something in the special conference Wednesday. about the question you always ask us all after church or conference or what not. "What did you learn?" it really struck clear with me because one what you heard and what you learn are very different, I already knew that. But I didn't realize how important talking about what you learned was. Talking about studies, church, etc. helps you understand personally better and others as well. I've found that it's afterward when I talk about "what I learned" that I find another chunk of guidance or revelation. I thought that was cool.
Also at the end of his talk, ELder castañera quoted the entire "The Living Christ" and ended with some powerful promises. 

I loved being able to talk with you all yesterday, it gave me a lot of joy. and I forgot to share this with Mom yesterday. I don't know if you all remember but several years ago I was asked to give a talk on the topic of mothers. I may have even been Mother's day but I honestly don't remember very well. but anyway, Mom helped me find a scripture to use in John 19:25-27. and so in honor of Mothers day I've been using that scripture all the time recently with the members and what not. I really love how Christ once again set the perfect example in caring for his mother. He realized and we need to understand better the divine importance of mothers and how truly amazing they are. Mom, let's just say that I'm excited to be your son forever and thank you for all that you have done for me.

Friday, May 8, 2015

4 May 2015

Alright so the first thing I've got for you all is an old pic I just got of my district (5 weeks ago) please enjoy. We made a Title of Liberty (Alma 46:12-13; 19-21) 
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On the theme of pics I'll go ahead and send all I've got right now. 
For about 35 cents you can buy a delicious fun sized watermelon and its delicious and amazing and just cut in half and go in with a spoon. Watermelon is in season right now and I love it. 
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I have only one other pic but its one I really like. Las Hermanas Fletcher and Tapia have been teaching a person named Xóchitl (prounounced sew-chee-toll but you almost don't say the t and l so more like just sewchee). although her husband still doesn't feel ready for baptism, she felt ready and wanted to be baptized and I had the priveledge of being asked to perform the ordinance. It was an amazing moment that bumped my desires to work to a whole new level. 
Here is Xóchitl and the sister missionaries
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also, a friendly reminder. today is Star Wars day if you didn't know. "May the fourth be with you"

hmmm other interesting things from this week... we had a special conference this Wednesday. But i will talk more about that later. 
We stopped by a recent converts house and taught a quick lesson. It was cool and all but I felt the distinct impression that we needed to do something focused on the kids. The family has 4 kids the oldest being 9. So we set a return appointment and we prepared a lesson for them. I testify to you all now that that feeling was a very clear impression from the spirit. I say this because when we taught that lesson, it was one of the most effective and amazing lessons I've ever been able to participate in. We decided to share the story of when Nephi built the boat. While we told the story we had the kids draw a boat. then we explained about how sometimes its hard but it is always possible to do what the Lord asks. We had the each write 1 Nephi 3:7 inserting their own name on the paper. The first really cool thing about this lesson is that a neighbor of theirs was over to hang with the kids. Her name is Andrea and she has about 11 years of age. She loved the lesson and activity. Result one of following the promptings of the spirit. Second we talked about how Nephi went into the mount oft to pray and receive direction. We talked to the parents about the symbolism that holds with the temple and now they are preparing to enter the temple in 2 more months. We have them starting on family history work and basically it was awesome. That lesson was one of the most efficient and enjoyable lessons I've ever had. 

Another interesting part of the week was Wednesday night. We only had one appointment so we ended up contacting in the street and I don't know how to explain it but we got talking with person after person after person and it became easier and easier. I started feeling a joy I've never felt before while contacting (normally it's one of the least favorite parts of being here) and then we started talking with a man outside by his car. We went up and I just happily started talking to him and he was just as exited as I was to talk. It was awesome. He had never talked with missionaries before but he was one of the most friendly people I'd ever met and it was like talking to a bro. I feel that this was, in part, due to the joy my comp and I felt and the spirit we brought. I'm sure he's a happy person in general too but I feel like it increased dramatically because we began to love the work. Guys. love what your doing no matter what it is and you will find that it truly is a good time it becomes fun regardless.

People we are teaching
Fam. Valenzuela- they came to church again is the first good news here! The dad was out of town but the mom and the three kids came and said that they loved it! The members have really been helping us here. One of the kids is 13 years old and the young women find her every week and help here feel at home in the classes and then there's always someone there to explain to the mom where to go and be her friend and we basically don't do anything, its kinda awesome. We extended a baptism invitation but they don't feel ready still but they do see it as a possibility eventually so we will continue working with them

Alan-the last lesson with him was awesome. he never had a lot of interest and im pretty sure he was only there for his wife's sake but this last lesson he paid more attention, participated, and even had several questions for us (I say if you don't have questions, odds are you're not paying very close attention). It was awesome. He accepted the invitation to be baptized the 30th of May. so I'm super excited for him and we will be helping him a lot in gaining a personal testimony.

Honestly, these are the only people that are actually progressing in any way right now, but we are working hard and finding lots of people everyday and, well, its been an absolutely amazing week.

okay so we have arrived at the point of the special conference on Wednesday. IT WAS AMAZING. Elder Castañera from the 70 came and talked to us with president, his wife, and sister Castañera. it was a truly inspiring morning. Here are a few thoughts and notes.
la Hermana Hernandez spoke first- she taught about how we learn according to the desire we have, so first, we need to become truly converted to the Lord and his gospel and find the desire in ourselves and then teach the people how to find that desire themselves. Part of that is prayer. I loved the phrase that came to mind about "fervent prayer" "taking oneself away from the world and having a personal experience with God" Are we having a true communication with our heavenly father each time we pray?
next, Presidente Hernandez spoke-
He talked about several things but one thing that stood out was the question asked by Alma in Alma 5:26 can ye feel so now?. He asks that speaking of the personal conversion we each should have. How are we converted? though the testifying of the Holy Ghost. So this is a question not to be asked to only those with a fault in faith or lack of conversion but it is a question we need to ask ourselves every moment of every day. Can ye feel so now? In this moment, can you feel the gentle influence of the Spirit in your life? If not, something needs to change.
Hermana Catañera spoke-
The key from what she said is that we need to be humble and listen to the direction and guidance of our leaders (Hebrews13:17) That's key. They have the authority and ability to receive the direction and knowledge of how to lead and guide us on the path we need to be on.

F, Elder Castañera spoke-
He was inspiring to say the least. the first thing he talked about was the power of our calling as missionaries. that we are called of God by a living prophet and that as such we are the extended hands of God here on this earth to do his work. That is an incredibly inspirational and mildly terrifying thought. He spoke about how as missionaries we have more authority than the kings of earth or the most powerful of people because our calling comes not from man but is divine in nature, that we are called by God himself. Wow. Thats all. He then spoke about becoming a "full-purpose missionary" (Dad I thought a lot about giving "Full proof" right there) and how a full-purpose missionary is keen to obey with exactness and do all that is required without thought of himself. He made an incredibly important comment with vital application for full time missionaries and non full time missionaries alike. I'll translate it the best I can "If the missionaries could properly understand the atonement, there would not be a need for missionary rules" "si los misioneros entendieron bien la expiación, no habría necesidad de las reglas misionales" If we truly understand the atonement, obedience will become our desire. He spoke beautifully about the atonement and its importance. I cant even begin to describe the things he said. It was inspired and perfect. One other phrase I liked a lot it this "I like to repent because I like to feel the Lord put me on his shoulders like the lost sheep". May we all seek that feeling and return in full conversion and with full proof to the fold of God. Never forget the importance of the atonement and its ability to change the lives of each and every one of us. have the most amazing week all of you and remember that you are loved!
Elder Smith