Monday, April 4, 2016

First week in Nochixtlan

What a week! It's been crazy but amazing. So last Tuesday I got to Nochixtlán and I immediately fell in love with the place. It has a really cool small farm town vibe to it. We live right next to a big Catholic church with big church bells that ring through the town every hour. Sometimes they play interesting hymns through loud speakers for everyone to hear. It's kind of cool because it makes me feel like I'm in a missionary movie or something with a soundtrack going on in the background. Right outside of the big church is a beautiful central park where people hang out with vendors everywhere trying to sell stuff. Not to far from the park is the outdoor market. It's your typical Mexican market place where they sell everything from fresh meat hanging on racks to fresh fruit and vegetables just brought in from local farms. Taco and burger places are everywhere too. Oaxacans adopted our burger and pizza fascination.

Just outside of the city area of Nochixtlan all you find are fields, farms and more fields. I love the Mexican countryside and most of our area is exactly that, with few people and houses dotting the outside of town.  
My companion is Elder Godoy. He's from Guatemala. He was my district leader when I first got to Yagul so I was super excited when I heard he was going to be my companion. We're good buds so it's going to be a fun time here. I have now had a Guatemalan, Columbian, Honduran, Salvadoran and 2 Mexican companions, as well as 2 Americans. Companions from 6 different countries, I think that's pretty cool. Elder Godoy has about 19 months on the mission. He has 3 brothers and 1 sister. He is the second youngest in the family. Everyone is his family are members except his dad. 

Both my companion and I are the two zone leaders of the Nochixtlan zone. There are very few missionaries in our zone, but it's big geographically. We do a lot of traveling as zone leaders here. In our zone, we have missionaries in towns called Tlaxiaco, Huajuapan, Tenango, and us in Nochixtlan. Tlaxiaco and Huajuapan are about a two hour shuttle ride from Nochixtlan. We also have to travel to Oaxaca weekly to pick up and drop stuff off from the offices. So its a good amount of traveling that we have to do.

They give us 600 pesos every 15th of every month for the traveling expenses and we can also be reimbursed by sending tickets and receipts to the secretaries. Our area has a lot of little towns up to 30 minutes away that we travel to also.
Some of my new responsibilities are to train district leaders, do divisions with each district leader and attend a district meeting of each district each month. The good thing is that their are only 2 districts in the zone, so it's pretty chill. We also report every night with the district leaders and a few times a week with the assistants to the president. The assistant trained us in a little meeting by just reading over our responsibilities. So far I really enjoy being a zone leader! It's fun to get to know more areas of Oaxaca by traveling a lot. 
Conference was awesome as usual. Elder Buck and I were the only english speakers so we had the secretary office all to ourselves to watch conference. We bought some snacks and drinks and had a good ol´time watching conference. I loved the talks of President Monson. Even though they were short, they were direct and powerful. I loved his message of how to choose the harder right over the easier wrong. The story he told in the Priesthood session of the stranded men in sea helped me understand the power of the priesthood and that I need to magnify my priesthood power by having more faith and being more obedient. It's not that we are necessarily doing bad things, but we are not doing what we should to magnify the priesthood that we have. I can't wait for the next Liahona magazine to study each talk that was given, because there were so many good ones.
Thank you for your love and support! I am really starting to dread the day when I won't be a full time missionary in Oaxaca anymore. I love it so much. I hope everything continues to go well at home, I pray for each of you individually every time I pray.
-Elder Smith

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