Monday, June 20, 2016

Stuck in Oaxaca

Hey family!

Just to let you all know that I'm alive and safe :) 

I don't know if y'all have heard anything about what's going on down here in Oaxaca. I'm pretty sure its not making world-wide news but Oaxaca is pretty much chaos. 

With the elections here a couple of weeks ago and new education reforms that the President of Mexico is making, the teachers of Oaxaca along with a lot of citizens are blocking some major roads and marching around Oaxaca with machetes, burning cars and doing a bunch of crazy stuff. Blockades are pretty normal in Oaxaca but things have gotten crazy this week. 

Elder Melgar and I left Friday morning to do divisions with the assistants and Elder Melgar brought all his luggage because he finished his mission. Saturday and Sunday I was in Miahuatlan hanging out with Elder Velazquez because his companion is going home too. So now I'm back in the offices in Oaxaca. I can't go back to Nochixtlan. Nochixtlan has been blocked off by the teachers because to get to Oaxaca from Mexico City you have to pass by Nochixtlan. The teachers wanted to keep the feds and military personnel from getting to Oaxaca City. So my area is a battleground area. I saw pictures that a member showed me of Nochixtlan with hundreds of military guys with guns and shields resisting all the groups of people with machetes and torches. I saw a picture of the main road that I walk everyday and its a complete war-zone. 

Thank goodness I'm here safe in the offices! :) But I can't return to my area until who knows when. Were hearing that the teachers aren't going to back down so this might go on for a while. Right now its definitely not safe to return to Nochixtlan.

Its been a very interesting week to say the least. 
Love you all and have a great start of summer!
Elder Smith

Monday, June 13, 2016

Anona Adventure

Hey yall! I went on a pretty sweet adventure this week. I took a good amount of pictures to prove it too. So on Thursday, we did divisions with the Elders of Tenango. The Elders of Tenango have 2 branches in their area. Tenango and Anona. Anona was the first branch of Oaxaca. I told a bit of its history in my last email so you can refer to last weeks email. On Thursday we visited Anona and we stayed there over night.

Anona is in the middle of nowhere. It is pretty complicated to get there. First we traveled from Nochixtlán to Tenango. About a 40 minute drive. From Tenango we took a taxi to the very top of a mountain. From there we had to go down the mountain by foot following a trail. It took about another 40 minutes to walk down. And let me tell you, this wasn't a stroll down jack and jill's hill. It was intense and kind of dangerous at some points. I loved every minute of it because I miss going on hikes with Mom! So when we got to the bottom, there was a member names Moroni waiting for us in his truck. He then drove us to Anona which took about 30 minutes driving through streams and fields of corn. So we finally got to Anona after all of that. We were tired and hungry, so Moroni´s mom fed us :) 

We went contacting in some small towns around Anona, because almost everyone in Anona are members. It took another 30 minute drive to find the next little town with more than just a few abandoned shack houses. It was tiring but a super cool experience. It´s absolutely beautiful with the mountains and the quiet of the Mexican countryside. I took some pictures of the animals that the branch president owns. I also caught a chicken and put it to sleep. (I learned how to make a chicken go to sleep about a year ago and its super funny).

We ate a lot of Pitaya as well. Its a delicious cactus fruit that you only find in the desert. Its blood red and it has the consistency of Watermelon. Its sweeter than watermelon and its kind of rare to find, but there are a lot in Anona. So Friday morning we returned to Nochixtlán. It was a lot harder climbing the mountain on the way back and we all ended up dead after an hour of intense climbing. 

And we started enjoying the new hat rule sporting the sombreros on the trip as well :)

It was a really fun week. I'm excited for the next one.

Love you all a ton,
Elder Smith

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"Cuando Me Bautice"

A lot of things happened this week but I don't have any time to write much. :(
First of all we had the baptism of Juana! YAYYY it was an awesome baptism and I did the confirmation on Sunday. It really was a special baptismal service. The spirit was so strong, especial when Elder Melgar and I sang a special musical number. We sang "Cuando Me Bautice" (When I am Baptized) One of my favorite children's songs. 
It rained like crazy this week here! One day it rained so hard that have a few minutes the roads turned into rivers! We had some fun and took some pictures of us getting soaked :) 

It's been crazy traveling to Huajuapan a couple times this week to do interviews. But I am really learning some very useful skills that will help me all throughout my life. I have learned that that's why God has given me responsibilities and assignments on the mission. Not because I'm a good leader by any means, but because I am learning so many valuable skills. I am forever grateful for that.
This week we hope to travel to the Anona branch. It's part of our zone and it was the first branch of the church in Oaxaca. And where the first baptism in Oaxaca was held. The story is really cool. The missionary were on their way down on the train when they had a huge spiritual impression to preach to this little mountain village. Long story short the whole village was baptized in a few days. Now, about 50% of the population of Anona are members. I think about 200 people live there cause its in the middle of nowhere hahaha. I'm excited to go visit!
Thats all I have time for, Love you all! Have a fabulous week!
-Elder Smith