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 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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

7 Sept. 2015

So this week is what I'd like to call a preparatory week as in not much happened but all we did prepares this upcoming week to be amazing.
Nonetheless we still had an amazing week. We got to talk to lots of new people and we will see how things go with them but my favorite parts of last week happened toward the end of the week. Sunday was fantastic obviously but in ward council it was awesome. We have been putting a new reactivation plan into action and its been incredible. In council we made plans to visit more people and as missionaries we are heading out with a different member almost every evening this week or in other words a missionary´s dream. Last week we visited a couple people one of which we are working with Sunday  evening we went and visited a less active family. We talked for a bit with them but since they were super busy we set an appointment for later in the family we are focusing a lot on Juan Sr. he told us that he was available at 6am Monday so if we really wanted to teach something we could come then. So this morning we got up before the sun and went over still groggy but it was a fantastic lesson. He had previously asked us a golden question "So after baptism and all, whats next?"  we talked about enduring to the end with a strong focus on the temple. at the end of the lesson he said that he had previously heard about the temple but now he suddenly had a strong desire to go in. This was huge and I'm stoked to keep teaching him even if it means 6am every day. The Lord blesses us for our efforts. 6am on our p-day was not exactly something we wanted to do but we felt like it was the right move, and for a small sacrifice, we were blessed with huge results. 
Sorry for writing so little this week but much more to come next week!
I love you all and hope that you have the best week ever ever ever.
Keep up the awesome!
Elder Smith

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

1 September 2015

First off. Sorry for not writing last week. I planned my time poorly and well, it didn't happen haha but don't you worry, I'll write the best letter ever this week. Or try at least.

Two weeks ago was a truly fantastic week but not to much to report. We had a great ward activity (talent show) that turned out amazing. Tons of people came. I participated in two acts. A sketch with the youth (they wanted to to the Econ 101 sketch by studio c so I translated the thing and ended up being the guy that talks the whole time) and then we did a piece as missionaries. We rewrote a the battle hymn of the republic and acted out a story of sorts hard to describe but it turned out awesome. It started with

mi padres me dijeron hijo vete a la misión
me lavaron el cerebro con el Libro de Mormon
me tomaron por el cuello y me lanzaron al avión
ya voy a la mision

gloria gloria se llamaba
la mujer que ya amaba
gloria gloria se llamaba
la que no me esperó

and ended

ya termina el tiempo que serví en la misión
aprendí a ser humilde y lograr la conversión
mis padres me esperan con abrazos de amor
pues termino con honor

It turned out awesome and was super fun to write haha

This past week has been incredible as well.
Javier is becoming more and more ready to take the step of baptism. Each time we visit has been amazing. I can't wait for the family to to be sealed. We just need to help Javier get baptized and then a year later they're off to the temple. It'll be amazing. I just hope I can be there.
He's the only person we are teaching right now that is progressing but there is so much potential here so expect much more to come.
On the side of less actives we have a ton of work and its amazing!
Martín is officially reactivated. He's a convert from several years ago and we've been trying to find him for months But he just showed up at church a few weeks ago and he is doing everything possible to be a disciple of Christ.
Juan and Juan (father and son) have gone from noy wanting to come back at all to making plans to ensure that they can make it to church. They are both amazing. Juan jr is 17 and we are helping him get ready for a mission too. It's awesome.
There are several others as well but truly, the work here is awesome. 

Saturday we had exchanges with the zone leaders. Elder Berheisel came to my area and my comp went to his. We had such an incredible day. When we planned it was hard because we had nothing pre- set for the day no appointments or anything. Just a meeting in the morning with the ward mission leader. Somehow the day stayed busy busy busy. We had one of the most successful days of the entire week and we made extra efforts to contact people to the point where I was talking with one of our neighbors and suddenly I notice he's not by my side and I see him a few yards away talking to someone else. (both of said people are very excited to receive us Tuesday evening:)). a good lesson was learned that day too.
We were working hard and we hit 8:30. We had a ride set for 9:00 to switch back. It would have been really easy to just go to the house and pack up things to be ready to head out especially because we had just had two very rough shutdowns from some people but we chose to put in just a little more and even though we passed the house we saw someone walking toward us so we decided before going in we would contact him. He seemed super interested and then we saw someone else a little farther off so we walked and talked to them. Same deal. It kept going like that till we actually had to head back to get things ready. It would have been so easy to just go inside and rest but we put an extra 20 minutes in and those 20 min were some of the most efficient of the day. Never give up early give it one more step and then when you can't give anymore. Go one more. and we find that the best experiences happen in that last step. 

While we were in the meeting Saturday it came up that I had never given a talk while on the mission. Needless to say. Hermano Peña talked that instant with Bishop and "luckily" there was an opening that Sunday to talk. I got the call haha. It was an awesome experience. I had zero time to prepare the talk Saturday (though obviously I was thinking about it a lot) so I had to prepare it Sunday morning before church (felt just like old times...). It was perfect because as I was falling asleep and again while I woke up I had a really clear and distinct idea for the talk. Again and again a quote from President Howard W. Hunter came to mind. It's found in the quotes of the prophets at the end of chapter one of Preach My Gospel. Rough translation "a good measure of your personal conversion to Christ is found in your desire to share the gospel" so I based the talk on that. Missonary work and conversion. I used the example used several conferences ago of Christ asking his disciple "do you love me...feed my sheep" and then I used some scriptures in alma. Alma 26 is full of goodies. 

13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?

 14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.

 15 Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work.

 16 Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full;

For our joy is full. you want to be happy? you want to be full of joy? preach the gosple. but how? how do we do it. the world is full of darkness and struggle. of people that are encircled about in the chains of hell. how are we supposed to make a difference? Alma makes it very clear. convert yourself to the Lord

 22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.

When we do these things The Lord gives us the strength knowledge words etc to be his hand here on earth. Unto us it can be given to bring thousands of souls to repentance. True joy, true success, true living comes from personal conversion. Let that be our goal. Let that be the thing we desire above all else.
Have the best weeks ever and keep being happy and exciting and wonderful. Remember that life is awesome and just the best thing ever. Keep it up!
Love Elder Smith

Oh and the pics.
This morning my comp and I and some other missionaries went up to Cerro de la Campana, a big hill in the middle of the city. You could see the whole city from on top even though it was scorching hot it was super fly.