Monday, April 27, 2015

One Change Down

I am officially done with my first Change on the mission! Both my comp and I are staying put here in Violetas. No surprises there. This is Elder Erikson's last 6 weeks! Crazy how time flies on the mission. The days go by so much faster than they did at home, especially in high school. I remember a day at school would feel like a century, and a day here feels like no time at all.

I think about where my next area is going to be a lot. I know I shouldn't and I love it here in the city, but every area here is so different, I am just curious and want to experience them all. I hear in the Istmo you sleep in hammocks. The houses don´t have beds, they just have hooks on the walls to set up hammocks. That sounds sweet! 

Right across the street from our house we found a sweet taco place that serves burritos! I took pictures of the menu and this sweet painting on the wall of the restaurant. Burritos are rare to find here in Mexico. Burritos are what you would call Mexican American Food. It's not an authentic Mexican dish. But the burritos at this taco place are amazing! We ordered them 3 times in the last 4 days. They´re only 27 pesos too. I also found out Burrito means "little donkey" in Spanish. I thought that was funny. 

The members here amaze me all the time. They have so many family problems and trials yet they are so strong in the gospel. We have been meeting with this 15 year old recent convert. His name is Sergio. He got baptized a few months ago and he is the only member in his family. He has so much faith but yet he has no support from his friends or family, who mock him for getting baptized. It´s kids in the church like Sergio that make the Church grow all around the world. I look at myself and see all the support and love at home, and wonder if I would have had enough faith to do what Sergio has done and is doing here.

Then there is Hermana Lucia. She is a middle aged recent convert with so many things to worry about on a daily basis, it is ridiculous. Lucia lives with her Mother, her son, her sister and a couple others who I´m not sure where they fit in the family. Well first of all her son is a total druggie. The last time we met with her, her son was totally freaking out and saying a bunch of crazy things in Spanish. Also, her Mom has Alzheimer's and has trouble remembering where or who she is. And then her sister can´t hear or talk at all. Lucia has to take care of all of them as well as work to support herself. I don´t know anything about her husband but he doesn't live with them. Members like Lucia and Sergio are an inspiration to me.

Remember to count your blessings because we are all truly blessed, and pray for those who may be struggling more than you. 

Love you all! I hope you have a great week!

Con Amor,
-Elder Smith 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Buenos Dias!

Buenos Dias!

This is the last week of my first change! The weeks really do fly by. Not too much has happened this past week. It was Elder Erikson`s birthday on 15th. Every member that we had an appointment with had a cake and pop. By the end of the day we were dying because of how much sugar we had. That`s one thing about the members here, they are so nice to the missionaries. The cake here is a little different. They love this cake called tres leches. What they do is poor milk over the cake right before its served, making it super soggy. Elder Erikson absolutely hates it. I don`t mind it but I would rather it not be so soggy...haha. Every one of his birthday cakes was that kind. Every time we had to smile, say thank you, and eat a couple slices. The day after we were both sick with upset stomachs and headaches.

I have a pretty cool story that happened a few weeks back and I forgot to tell it. So we had a lunch appointment with this lady who actually has Grandchildren living in Rexburg. Elder Erikson met her a week before he left on his mission. She`s in our Stake and she invited us to eat in one of the richer parts of the city. We met her at the stake center and we left to go to her house in her car. Right when we started to leave for her house, all of the buses started to block off all the roads. Blockades are pretty common here in Oaxaca. With all the political problems here, unions and people like to block bridges and gas stations and roads. The police don't really have much authority here so they can't do anything. We were stuck in the middle of the city. After 30 minutes of trying to find a way out, we decided to say a prayer. They asked me to say it. Soon after the prayer we found a space behind a bus where the sidewalk was. We were able to squeak by and make it to the Sister`s house. Just another example of how The Lord answers our prayers.

It`s also been a super hot week this week. I hear when you go to the Coast, you never stop sweating. At least here in the city its super nice in the morning and at nights. There have been a couple huge storms here at night, with hurricane like winds. Luckily, we were in member's houses at the time and we weren't stuck out in the storms. The Lord is definitely looking out for us. 

At times it blows my mind that I'm serving my mission right now. The mission always seemed like something in the future. For all the brothers (except for Josh and Tyler) start preparing now. Learn to love the scriptures. I remember hearing all that before my mission, and I thought, okay yeah whatever. But really, learn early to love reading and listening to talks and reading the scriptures. Because now on my mission, I have never realized how awesome it is to keep learning more and more about the gospel. I've been told that you learn more after 1 year on the mission than in your first 18 years of life. I can see how that will probably be true for me.

Love you all and I hope you have a great week!

Elder Smith

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mitla ruins

Hey!!! This has been a crazy week. I never know when to start when I start writing. I guess I`ll start with today. 

Today for P-Day we went to the ancient ruins in Mitla! I posted a lot of pictures. Everyone says the ruins in Monte Alban are better but it was still pretty cool to be inside of structures that the Lamanites could have lived in. Oaxaca is such an awesome mission, I don`t mean to brag but there are so many places to see and people to meet. Its weird to think just a month ago I didn't know any of this existed. It`s another world. Every area in Oaxaca is something new and interesting, from the City, to the mountains, to the Istmo (super native mexico land with weird dialects) to the coast. I think the City is a great place to start. The church is strong here with really great leaders and members. 

Every night a van drives by down the road with a speaker exclaiming "Pan!" Pan de Oaxaca!" Pan means bread in English but this isn't just bread. Its pretty much donuts and different pastries. Its so good and you can get 10 donuts for like 2 US dollars worth of pesos. Its pretty sweet. Also, people sell corn on the cob on this mobile bike stoves. Its hard to explain haha. But the Corn on the Cob has mayo, cheese, and chili pepper on it. Its surprisingly super good. When I get home, I'm teaching everyone to eat corn on the cob with mayo instead of butter :) In the movie nacho libre they have a couple scenes when they eat it.

Also, the other night we came home from a long hard day and we heard some yelling. We got on our roof to see what was up and it was our neighbor performing an exorcism. She was yelling and saying to cast the devils out of her brother. It was super freaky so we went back inside. Funny that there were two Elders right near her that actually had the authority to do just the thing. 

Well we have had some pretty good success in our area. We have had a lot of lessons. We don`t contact in the street very much or knock doors. All the time we are either looking for a member to visit with or we are visiting investigators or less active and teaching them lessons. Our best investigator is Clara. She is a 15 year old girl and she went to EFY last week. When we got here to the area she was already a progressing investigator so we are here just to finish teaching her and baptize her. After EFY, she became even more sure that she wanted to be baptized. In our last lesson with her we taught her more about the importance of baptism and I asked her if she could prepare herself to be baptized on May 2nd. She said YES! She started crying and it was such a wonderful experience. 

Even though I feel down sometimes about my Spanish, or about how hard it is to work everyday, its moments like that, that make it all worth it. Seeing the joy that the gospel brings to people is such a sweet thing to witness and I am so glad that my life is centered around that right now for the next two years. 

I love you all and I think about you more often than I should :)

Con Amor,

Elder Smith

Monday, April 6, 2015

Super Hard Week

Happy P-Day! 

This has been a super hard week. General Conference made it a lot better though!
Everyone here was gone for vacation all week because of Semana Santa and Easter and all of that. No one really wanted to hear from the missionaries this week, so it was tough. We did a lot of walking in the hot Oaxacan sun with not very many lessons. 

Going to the temple was an interesting experience with all of it being in Spanish. I got through it though and it was a special experience. Later this week we found out that our water in our house was cut off. It made a tough week even harder. We couldn't shower or use the bathroom in our house for a couple days so we had to wake up early and go to the Elder´s house closest to us to shower. They had a nice shower with hot water though so I didn't mind it :) It was the first time I didn't shower with a bucket here in Oaxaca.

We just bought some water this morning and filled this well in the back of our house, outside. Yesterday we were using a bucket and a rope to get a little bit of water out of the well because there was some at the very bottom. But when Elder Erikson was pulling up some water the rope broke and the bucket fell to the bottom. We had to get that bucket out, so Elder Erickson held my ankles and lowered me down so I could retrieve the bucket. It wasn't a very deep well at all but if he dropped me, it wouldn't have felt good. 

Conference was a life saver after this week. It was nice just to have a break and watch Conference all day Saturday and Sunday. There were so many super good talks. I loved the theme of families that many of the speakers spoke of. Elder Holland was like always so great too. I loved his story of the two brothers rock climbing. The Lord will always be there to catch us even when we think we have no hope. I have definitely felt pretty alone and helpless at times here, but I know that the Lord has been walking every step with me while I have been here.

Even though the work is hard here, Oaxaca is truly an adventure. A lot of people here wear t-shirts with english on them and they the people here usually dont know what there shirts say. This leads to some funny moments. Last week, we were at the big super market here and we saw a 60 year old woman with a pink shirt on. The shirt said in big sparkley letters "Class Flirt". Elder Erickson and I tried to compose ourselves the best we could. Its funny how they have no idea...haha. We teach and come across a lot of people that tell us about their families who are in the US illegally or just left to try and cross the border up north. It's definitely strange to be talking with them and saying we'll be praying for their families. One woman said she was just told that her brother was captured by Border Control and being held in some prison all week. 

Today for P-Day we went to a site where they filmed part of the movie "Nacho Libre". It was the cliffs where Nacho climed to get to the Eagle Nest for anybody who has seen it. I posted pictures of it on dropbox. And then we also went to the Baseball stadium here to buy a Oaxaca Guerreros(Warriors) hat! I also posted a picture of me with it. We want to convince President to let us go to a game sometime but I doubt that will happen haha. Pretty soon in the next few weeks we´re going to some of the ruins here. Monte Alban and Mitla are the two ruins near the city.

I hope you all had an amazing spring break and Easter weekend! Love You!!!

 -Elder Smith