Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving in Mexico

We had a pretty tough week this past week. My companion and I both got sick. On Tuesday I had a pretty bad cold with a fever. I slept the entire day and it was pretty miserable. I'll take a full day of pure contacting in the street over being cooped up in the house for an entire day. Well, it was nice to get some extra sleep. The fever only lasted for a day and now I just have a lingering cough that won't go away. Then on Thursday, my companion got sick and we stayed in for most of the day. I was able to clean the house a lot that day so that was a positive. 

So yeah, we were pretty beat up last week but good thing it wasn't anything more serious like dengue or chikungunya. The good thing about the week was that we have 4 more baptismal dates! None of them are 100% for sure going to happen but we are going to work hard to prepare these 4 investigators for baptism. I have learned to be more direct and to not be afraid to teach with power and authority. When we teach with the spirit, and teach with the power and authority that The Lord has given us as his Missionaries, we can really see results and the hearts change in our investigators. It's a really special to witness, the conversion of our investigators beginning to take place. 

Thanksgiving in Mexico is just like any other day. Nobody knows what it is here. I got really trunky Thanksgiving morning. I was thinking about the Turkey Bowl, the food, and the Lions game that I was missing. I was really feeling crappy that day. But while we were at our food appointment eating beans and tortillas, I had a moment of clarity. What is Thanksgiving all about?  It's about being Thankful for what we have! Duh. I have a million things to be thankful for right now. My family is healthy, and I'm in Oaxaca, Mexico spending the best two years of my life. I have received so many blessings in my life, and in that moment I thought about all of the blessings that I have, and my attitude completely changed. 

One night this week, the moon was really cool too. I took pictures.
I don't know if it was an eclipse or not, but the moon was super orange and awesome looking. My camera impressed me with the pictures it was able to take so close up to the moon and super detailed. Its a really nice camera.
I also took pictures of us riding in a bicitaxi! Its a bicycle taxi and sometimes when we don't want to walk we take the bicitaxi.
We also have been running and playing futbol in the mornings in this covered basketball and soccer court. Its really nice because its super close to the house so we can leave and do exercise in the mornings.
I'm super excited for December! Best month of the year! We went to the big supermarket today and all the christmas stuff was out and the Christmas music was playing and it made me super happy. I think were going to buy Christmas lights for inside of our house. It's a little weird because its 
December and 90 degrees everyday but I have accepted it. 

I love you all and thank you for all your support, love and prayers!
Con Amor,
Elder Smith

Monday, November 23, 2015

Black out in Santa Maria

Today is transfer day! And I am still here in Santa María, Huatulco! I'm going to be here for a total of 6 months, half a year! I´m super content, because I didn´t want to change. I am loving it here and I haven´t gotten tired of it yet. After 4 and a half months in my first area, I was ready to get changed. I wasn't surprised that I didn't get changed because Elder García is still in training.

This week we had a short blackout here. All of Santa María was without power for a couple of hours. This is a pretty normal thing here, but it was night time when it happened this past week. From 7 to 9 pm we were walking around town in complete darkness, looking for people to teach. It was a cool experience because we had a good way to start talking with everyone we saw. We just went up to anyone that we saw and started talking about the blackout and then about The Restoration and the Book of Mormon. We went around town giving out a bunch of Books of Mormon and fliers. I mean we do that a lot normally, but it was a lot easier without power in town! We had a bunch of success that night finding new investigators. 

Today for our P-day we went to San Agustín Beach! It´s one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Huatulco.
We ate seafood and enjoyed the view. I decided to go with the Grilled garlic octopus. Wow it was amazing.
I was very happy eating my recently caught octopus. On the way back we heard that there was a giant tree that's a giant iguana habitation. The super big ones are pretty ugly. They literally look like dinosaurs.
We also met Flor the Raccoon. She enjoyed climbing on my head and nibbling on my ear. I decided that Raccoons are better pets than Dogs or Cats.
We also couldn't find a taxi for the ride back, so we hitchhiked on the back of a big truck. The people here are awesome because they always give us a ride when we put our thumbs up on the side of the dirt road. 

I also took a lot of pictures one day during the week. I usually don't like to carry my camera around but for one day I did. So you all could see what its like a day as a missionary in Santa María, Huatulco.

I love the mission because it is an opportunity to learn a lot everyday. I am forever grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me this opportunity to serve in Oaxaca for 2 years. The things that I am learning will help me for the rest of my life and all eternity. I am grateful also that the Family is also receiving blessings in these two years that I am away from home. But it is really my future family, wife and kids that will be blessed the most for the two years that I am putting aside for the Lord.

I love you all and I hope that you have a fabulous Thanksgiving! Eat a bunch of sweet potatoes and greenbean casserole for me!

Con Amor, Elder Smith

Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Baptism!

We had another baptism this week! Finally, Remedios got baptized. We have been meeting with her from the beginning. She was tough to prepare for baptism. She´s the third one of her family to be baptized. Her son and her husband are recent converts. I hope to be able to see them get sealed together in a year from now. 

Other than that, nothing much happened this week. Transfers are in a week from now. I don´t want to be changed. I don´t think I will be, but who knows. I want to stay in Santa María for another transfer. One reason is because there is a member in the ward that is making me scripture cases. More than anything, I don't want to be changed because I really like it here. There are a lot of difficult things about being a missionary in an area where the church is so new and small, but it´s pretty special being a missionary in a place like this for a lot of reasons. I feel like my work here is really important for the growth in the church. I have learned that the effort of the missionaries in a lot of areas all over the world where the church is just beginning, really plays a role in the growth of the church. 

We only had 35 members attend church yesterday. It was a bummer, but that's what happens sometimes when a couple big families leave town for the weekend. Oh, and another thing that bothers me, but I cant just help but laugh is that the church members here don´t know how a lot of hymns go and they can´t read music. It can get pretty painful during sacrament meeting while we sing the hymns. It would be better if we had a piano in our House of Prayer...well I don't think anybody knows how to play piano either, including me, so that wouldn't help much. 

As a missionary in Santa María, Huatulco, I have learned a lot of patience while teaching. More than half of our investigators don´t know how to read. It makes it really difficult to teach and for them to progress. We have to teach them, as if they were children. We use a lot of pictures and examples to help them understand, because none of the older people are educated here. It´s definitely a trial, but I'd take uneducated and humble people over educated and prideful people any day. I have really grown to love the people of Oaxaca. I know that their are a lot of people here that the Lord has prepared to accept the Gospel. All I can do is work hard everyday to find them. 

I know that what I teach and preach to everyone I talk to here is true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and I have an amazing opportunity to testify of these eternal truths everyday. It is truly a blessing, and I thank the Lord everyday for this opportunity that I have to grow and to share the Gospel with the people of Oaxaca.

Gracias por todas sus oraciones y amor.
Con Amor,
Elder Smith

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Witch of Santa Maria'

Another crazy week down in Santa María, Huatulco! Wow the next transfer is coming up quick! Just two more weeks until tranfers! I imagine and I hope that nothing changes for me. I am loving training Elder García and working here in Santa María.

We also are having another baptism this week! We are going to baptize Remedios. Well that's the plan. Hopefully she passes her interview. I don´t think she´s going to have any problems. She´s 50 years old and her Husband and Son are recent converts. It´s awesome to be a part of the conversion of an entire family. They are planning to get sealed in the temple, but first they have to wait a year after being baptized. It will be cool to attend their sealing, because I will still be in Oaxaca a year from now!

We also had a Halloween sort of experience this past week. Elder García and I have been pretty creeped out ever since. Well here´s the story: One day we were walking to the Branch President's house all the way in Techal Blanco. Santa María is broken up into Barrios (Wards). Techal Blanco is a long hike and we have to walk it almost everyday for visits and food appointments. On the way to Techal Blanco, this Elderly lady came up behind us and started talking to us. She seemed like the typical old Oaxacan Lady. She said that the Elders visited her before but they quit visiting her for some reason. We made an appointment to visit her and we said goodbye.

A few days ago, we went to go see her in her house. She let us in, and we began talking about our message. She complained of pain that she has had for a long time in her legs. We offered to give her a blessing and we did. Now, everything was pretty normal up to this point. She was super dramatic with everything, yelling all these praises to God and all of that, but that's pretty normal with the Christians and Catholics here, so I didn't think twice about it. We continued the lesson and she told us about an experience she had. She said that the Grim Reaper appeared to her and lead her to the nearby mountain. I couldn't understand her story really well but she said she pleaded with "Death" to not take her. She then went into telling us that she has done horrible things in her life and she started to cry hysterically. My companion and I just looked at each other in confusion and a little bit of fear. We wanted to get out of there so we asked her if she could offer the closing prayer. She agreed and she started to prayer in her irreverent yelling form of praying. Halfway through the prayer she started to speak a dialect of some sort. After she finished praying, I asked her if she knew a dialect. The there are a lot of different dialects here in Oaxaca so I thought it was Zapoteco or something. She said that she only knows Spanish....
Elder Garcia and I booked it out of that house. We went straight to a member´s house nearby and asked her if she knew this old lady down the street. She told us, "Oh yeah, that´s the Witch of Santa María." So yeah we taught a witch. She also gave us an apple before the lesson with her...she's the evil witch from Snow White. Haha but seriously we were creeped out.

The majority of are experiences are uplifting and filled with the spirit, but I wanted to share this experience too. :)

Oh yeah! I forgot to talk about Francisco's confirmation! I confirmed him yesterday at church. It was super cool to do my first confirmation. I was a little nervous and midway through my legs started to shake a little bit. I don't know why but I was relieved because I said everything correctly and it went really well. I love you all, and I hope you all have a fabulous week!

Con Amor,
Elder Smith

Monday, November 2, 2015

El Dia de Los Muertos

Happy Halloween and Happy November!!!

First of all, Halloween is a little bit different here. They have a cool ancient Mayan Tradition for the Day of The Dead. Halloween here is actually a 3 day thing. It starts on the 31st and end on November 2nd (Today). A member explained it to me a little bit that, November 1st is when the spirits of the children haunt the town and November 2nd the spirits of adults. They all make an altar with food offerings for the spirits. The altar is decorated with candles and yellow flower pedals. Its pretty creepy, but kind of cool. I miss the Jack-O-Lanterns. They don't have big orange pumpkins here, so it wasn't the same without seeing those around. 
There are also a lot of pyrotechnics that everyone buys. They are fireworks but kind of lame fireworks. They just go boom super loud. I´ve been hearing them go off all day since the 31st. It´s given me a headache. 
We also some great news...WE HAVE WATER. We can bathe and wash our clothes! Hahaha I have never felt so blessed to have water. So if you are ever thinking that you aren't receiving blessings, think again. Because there are a lot of things that I took for granted when I didn't live in Mexico. We had a member check out our hose and fix whatever the problem was. He discovered that our hose where our water comes from was clogged with dirt. For that reason only a little bit of water was arriving when the water came weekly. (*editors note* He does mean weekly. He says water comes on Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday.) He replaced our hose and now the water comes in like Niagara falls. My companion and I were almost crying of joy in it´s purest form when we heard the water falling into our tank Friday night. 
We have a Zone conference tomorrow, and I am super excited for it. Also, we had interviews with President Madsen today. It went really well and Sister Madsen gave us chocolate so that was another bonus. 
I can´t believe its already November! Enjoy the November weather in the States! 
Con Amor,
Elder Smith