Monday, May 25, 2015

Oompa Loompa Sighting

Happy Memorial Day!

Well its just a normal day here in Oaxaca. Hopefully someone ate a burger for me or something :) It´s been a pretty uneventful week. We had a multi-zone conference last Tuesday that lasted for almost 7 hours. Definitely the longest meeting I have ever been in. But it was super interesting and I learned a lot! We focused on faith. A missionary with fear is a missionary without faith, and a missionary with faith has no fear. They also taught us how to clean a toilet at the conference. I thought it was funny. No matter how hard we scrub our bathroom, I don't think its going to look any cleaner haha. 

Today we visited Elder Erikson´s old area in the city. He was there about a year ago. We went to visit this crazy guy named Angel. He paints amazing pictures of landscapes. He gave both Elder Erikson and I one of his paintings. They are incredible. He has 3 teeth and his house is a mess, with finished and unfinished paintings everywhere. The best part of Oaxaca are the people. I am so excited to just meet so many strange, yet incredible people here in the next 20 months. 

Oh yeah, also earlier this week I saw the funniest thing. There was a Oaxacan taking his two bulls for a walk and about 10 feet behind was this little, full grown Oaxacan man. He had to be 4 foot nothing. I think he escaped the Wonka Chocolate factory and found his way to Oaxaca, Mexico. He had a 6 foot bamboo stick and he started to run up behind the bulls just close enough to be able to whip them, so they keep moving forward. Then he rested until he had another boost of energy and ran to gain ground on the bulls again. I couldn't stop laughing. So yeah thats one of the stranger things I saw this week. 

Next week our zone is going to the ruins of Monte Alban. I hear its one of the more famous ruins in Mexico. I will have a lot of pictures from that next Monday!

Hope everyone is doing well at home!

Con Amor
-Elder Smith

Monday, May 18, 2015

Another Baptism!

Hey Family!

We had another baptism this week. We baptized two 10 year olds whose families are less active but their grandmother is super faithful and strong in the church. We have been teaching them for a while now and we finally baptized them on Saturday. Their names are Alejandro and Yandell.
 I also posted some pics of some real tacos I ate this week. They were 4.50 pesos each so I got 8 of them. They were so good. Sour cream doesnt exist here either. They put lime, salsa, and pineapple, on top of these tacos. The meat was some kind of pork. The Mexican food you would find at a Mexican restaurant isn´t authentic mexican, its a lot different.

Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful week. The week flew by though. It scary that in only a few weeks, Elder Erikson is going home and I´m getting a new compañero. The only thing I´m really worried about is knowing the area really well. I have never been too great with roads, street names, and directions. I´m going to have to teach my knew compañero the area when he gets here. I know how to get everywhere, I just don´t know what the roads are called...but I still have 3 weeks to get it down.

This week I found out a little bit why the Lord needed Elder Erikson and I in this area at this time. One day we were walking around about 20 minutes before an appointment and we decided to stop by and visit Hermana Ermila for no particular reason. We knocked on her door, and like always she invited us in with a warm smile. She´s about 70 something years old and she makes some of the best Oaxacan dishes that you can find here. We started asking her how she was doing and if she needed our help with anything. She began telling us about some recent family problems, and also all of the incredibly hard trials in her life. What she has gone through in her life, I can´t even imagine experiencing. I never have known someone go through so much. We gave her a copy of a talk given by Elder Holland. "An High Priest of Good Things to Come" and also read some scriptures with her.

She then told us right before we knocked on her door, she was having suicidal thoughts. She said that she was praying for someone to come and help her, and that we were the answer to her prayer. 

I know that if we stay diligent and faithful as missionaries (and also as non-missionaries) we can be instruments in the hands of The Lord. This experience really opened my eyes on how to be servants of The Lord and witnesses of Jesus Christ at all times. If we do this, we will see miracles in our lives. 

I hope all is well!

Elder Smith

Monday, May 11, 2015

Plague of Oaxaca

It was the best thing ever being able to Skype yesterday! That hour went by way too fast. 

This last week was a good one. We have been having trouble finding some new investigators. We decided to go contacting a little more than usual just to try and find some new investigators to teach. Very often here when you go contacting, the people are very nice and agree for us to come visit them later in the week, but most often when we come back, they send there little kids to the door and say that they`re not home. So there is little success when it comes to contacting. References are so much more successful. 

But after 20 something contacts we found a 16 year old kid that is super cool and we think has a lot of potential. We passed him on the street one time, and Elder Erikson and I both looked at each other and said lets go talk to this kid. So we did. He agreed to talk to us a few days later, and it went really well. He even went with us to the ward activity that we had the other day! He loved it, he also knows a few of the youth that go to church. His name is Diego, and he loves baseball. He plays his games on Sunday, but yesterday was playoffs so if he lost, he can go to church on Sunday. I hope he lost :) He even went to Atlanta to see a Braves v. Red Sox game last year. More than anything right now he`s a good friend. 

I know the Lord is preparing people to hear the gospel and if we stay diligent and work hard everyday, He will put them in our path. 

So here in Oaxaca, they have these huge black beetles. They are Everywhere! They're about 1.5 inches long and FAT. At the ward activity they started to fall from the sky like rain! It was like the plague of Locusts in the Bible but Oaxaca version. Who knows why but they started falling like they became paralyzed in the sky and just dropped. Hundreds of them just covering the basketball court at the church.  It was the craziest thing I've ever seen!

Also, today for P-day, the Oaxacan lady that has grandchildren in Rexburg took us to Oaxacan food buffet place. It was amazing, I took some pictures, but every kind of classic Oaxacan food was there for the taking. I took some pictures. Also I posted some pictures of my Joseph Smith Head statue that I just bought here, as well as a Oaxacan style shirt and my Hammock! Some time in the next few months, Ill send a package home of a bunch of stuff. 

Love you all! Until next week! ¡Hasta la proxima semana!

Elder Smith

Monday, May 4, 2015

First Baptism!

This first week of my second change was a special one. I had my first baptism! We baptized Clara. She´s a 15 year old girl that was a progressing investigator when both Elder Erikson and I got to the area. Clara is a joy to teach because she is always super animated and active during the lessons, asking a lot of questions always participating. 

When I found out that I was doing the baptism, I was pretty nervous. I never have baptized before in my life, in English or Spanish before last week. The day of the baptism we were on divisions. I was with Elder Prieto in the neighboring area Juarez until the baptism at the church. All day I went through the Baptismal Prayer in my head. I also kept going through her name so I wouldn't forget that either. Everyone here has 4 Names. First, Middle, and two last names, so it can get pretty complicated and long. Good thing Clara´s wasn´t too difficult. Clara Adriana Martinex Pacheco. 

The Baptism went perfect. I didn't mess up the prayer and her name too terribly and I said the prayer right the first time. I thought it was a success. Also I didn't drop her, for some reason I was worried that might happen during the baptism haha. It was a really special baptism. She bore her testimony afterward and started to break down crying. The spirit was super strong and I will never forget my first baptism as a missionary. 

We have 2 more baptisms in about two weeks. Two 10 year olds, Alejandro and Yandell. I'm baptizing Yandell and Elder Erikson is baptizing Alejandro. That will be a cool baptismal service for sure! 

The joys of missionary work definitely outweigh the struggles and trials. Seeing others come unto Christ is such a blessing. We have been studying a lot about Grace this past week. The grace of God lifts us up and changes us. We are here on this Earth to change and become perfected through repentance. Ask the Lord to empower you to overcome your trials, not to change your circumstances. That's what I have learned that Grace is. That through Christ, we can be empowered to overcome our sins and our trials. 

Love you and I hope you have a great week!

-Elder Smith