Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Calenda

Whats up family! Sounds like there's a lot going on at home. A lot of new and fun experiences for everyone especially for Danny. Freshmen year at college is the best! I also can't wait to see Zach play football and Ben run. I was at the offices yesterday in Oaxaca and saw that my return home date is January 25th. Its scary how soon that date is getting closer and closer. In the offices there's a board where it has all the pictures of every missionary in the mission. I remember when I got here I was all the way at the bottom row. I am now on the top row, NOOOO I can't believe it.


I also found out that an investigator that I contacted while in Huatulco got baptized this past Saturday. Hearing stuff like that is the best feeling ever. It makes me want to keep being diligent in talking to everyone we come across because you never know if you'll make an impact in that person and plant a seed. Even if we don't see the immediate impact or are able to see them reach that conversion and baptism personally, we can help people to start that process with the bearing of our testimonies through simply opening our mouths. 


This past week was a party everyday here in Nochixtlan. They call it the Calenda. They pretty much shoot off crappy fireworks everyday starting very early in the morning and have a bunch of crazy parades adoring the Virgin of Nochixtlan (each town has their own saint and virgin). They give out mezcal and everyone gets drunk out of their minds. It's pretty much my new favorite holiday. Hahahaha just kidding they have crazy Catholic traditions here and it makes it really hard as a missionary to help them change their traditions. 

We have the zone conference and interviews with President Madsen on Friday. I can't wait, I love President's conferences and interviews. 

Have a great start of classes. I feel like I was just saying have a great summer. Time flies. Love you all!

-Elder Smith

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Elder Aguero

I love being with Elder Aguero. We are literally best friends and its so fun. We're constantly laughing and saying funny things in nerd voices. Elder Aguero was born in Utah. Both of his parents immigrated from Argentina first to Canada, and then to the US. He´s from Plain City, Utah. 

This week we had to travel to Tlaxiaco on Thursday to do a baptismal interview. The way there is pretty curvy and bumpy and it was not fun traveling there and back in the same day. We´re going back tomorrow to do divisions with the Elders there. Tlaxiaco is beautiful and it reminds me of home. Its really green with a lot of trees and most of the houses are made of wood and have a cabin feel to them. Mostly all the houses in Oaxaca are made of cement, mud, or bamboo so its weird to see a log house. 

We keep struggling to get the investigators to go to church and progress, so we've been working hard to find new investigators. We decided to visit a young single adult that hasn't gone to church lately. We showed up at his house and found him with two of his friends chilling in his room. They're all in a rock band and they look like it too. We started off singing a hymn, which was pretty funny being in this man cave with rock band stuff everywhere with these early 20's rocker guys and singing "Nearer My God to Thee". We then started with a prayer and we began talking about God and The Book of Mormon. 

It was a cool experience because these two guys were genuinely interested. They were really smart and we started discussing the existence of God and we read a little bit in 2 Nephi 2. The spirit was present and it was a cool chance to just have a good talk with guys our age about the restored gospel. I almost felt like I was at home just talking with friends. It makes me wonder why I never talked about the gospel with my closest friends.

At church, a family brought a couple bunnies and I couldn't let the chance go without taking a picture with one. Today, we had a relaxing P-Day. We decided not to go to Oaxaca and just to hang out in Nochixtlan without stress. I need those kinds of days every once in a while :)

Love you all so much! I pray for you everyday. 
-Elder Smith

Monday, August 15, 2016

Rejection

Hey family! Its crazy how fast August is flying by. Nothing much has happened this week. We have been working hard and burning a lot in the sun. I am multicolored now. My face and neck are red, my arms are tan, and the rest is white. Hahaha
We have been contacting a lot with some success, but a lot of rejection. It's nothing new but it still frustrates me a little. So many people reject the blessings of the gospel and are blinded by their traditions here. We talked to one couple that told us that during Mass, the Father or whoever the catholic guy is called that talks during mass said to stay away from the Elders because you will be condemned if you listen to their message. Satan is fighting against the work here but we`ll keep pressing forward to find the ones who are prepared.
Today we went to Tenango to play basketball and soccer with the other Elders. It got intense and we all finished limping off really sore. It's going to be tough to get up tomorrow morning, that's for sure. We took some sweet pictures playing, but this computer just fried my camera memory. They said they can take a look at it and fix it, but I need my camera cord. I lost my camera cord in the MTC so somehow I need to find one. I`m sick of using public computers that destroy everything that you put it in. 
Sounds like everything is going well at home! Thanks for the updates, Love you all!
Elder Smith

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Transfer Day!

TRANSFER DAY! And guess what? I'm still in Nochixtlan! Haha it was kind of a surprise but I am really excited. So Elder Peterson was called to be the new Assistant to the President. I'm so happy for him because he really deserves it. He is a great missionary and he is a perfect fit as assistant. That means I'm staying in Nochixtlan for what seems to be another 6 weeks. I'm excited because we are planning on having baptisms soon and my new companion is one of my best friends here on the mission. 

Elder Aguero is my new companion. He's from Utah and we're from the same generation. We're going home at the same time in January. It's going to be fun being companions with him. I have really been lucky with companions. Almost all of my companions have become really close friends.

On Saturday, Elder Peterson and I got permission to go to the temple. The branches from Huatulco had their temple trip and we both had converts that came to the temple for the very first time on Saturday. We started helping out as witnesses and doing confirmations in the baptistry and afterwards we did a session. It was so great to be able to go to the temple after not going for so long. It was even sweeter to see Remedios, one of my converts in Huatulco enter the temple for the first time to do baptisms. I know that through temples we can find peace and comfort in this life and eternal happiness with our families. 

As missionaries we leave our families for two years so that other families can be together forever. We had another incredible experience this past week. We were walking down a long street pretty quickly because we were running late. I started to hear a strange noise. I shrugged it off at first because I thought it was a goat doing that weird and funny yell that goats do. I ignored it, but I kept hearing it. It was getting closer and it was coming from behind us! We looked behind us and it was a 20 something year old girl literally running us down and yelling to get our attention! She saw that we finally noticed her and signaled for us to go talk to her. We got to her and she started trying to communicate with us in sign language. 

She was deaf and she couldn't talk. She pointed to the sky and made a book with her hands. We thought about it for a second and finally we got it. OH she wants a pamphlet! She went on to tell us that her dad was an angry person and that we couldn't talk to her in her house but she wanted us to teach her. I don't know how we understood all of that but I guess the gift of tongues works with sign language too. We asked her to show us where she lived and we made an appointment with her for another day. We wrote a few things down on paper because she can read and write perfectly, so that's how we communicated a little bit too. It was an experience that I'll never forget and it stunned me how bad she wanted to talk to us because she was running and yelling at us to get our attention. It's going to be interesting to teach her, but we also found out that her older brother knows sign language so he will be able to translate for us. 

I know that there are people everywhere in the world that the Lord is preparing to recieve the restored gospel. 

Love you all and thanks for supporting me every step of the way,
Con Amor,
Elder Smith

Thursday, August 4, 2016

18 Months

Next week I officially complete 18 months. Good thing I'm not a girl or I would be going home. I feel like I am finally learning how to really teach investigators effectively. I remember how when I was with my trainer and we would do role play lessons during our companionship studies. Elder Erikson would tell me to start teaching a lesson to him on some principle. In one instance he told me to teach him a lesson on "The Fall of Adam and Eve" and I would sit there thinking what in the world to say. A few times I just looked at him and said "I can´t...I have no idea of what to say or teach!" I now realize how much patience Elder Erikson had hahaha. 

It is really a tough skill to be an effective teacher. I have learned that to be a good teacher as a missionary is to let the spirit guide you and to help the investigator feel that spirit through our words or lack of words. When there is a period of silence after an inspired question, a lot of times that is when the spirit can testify to the investigator the strongest. 

We had a cool experience this past week with an investigator named Fernando. He"s a middle aged guy who sells tea, coffee, and hot chocolate on a bike every day. He works on Sunday, but sometimes he takes an hour off to come to church. He is an awesome guy and I know one day he'll get baptized. We didn't even plan on teaching "The Sabbath Day", but he set himself up. He started talking to us about how Mexico is suffering so much and how people focus so much on temporal things and not on spiritual things. He asked us why we thought the people have lost their values and the world wasn't the same as it used to be. I know the spirit guided me and I started talking about the Sabbath day. Nobody keeps the Sabbath day here in Nochixtlan. It's the big market day here every Sunday. We talked about how God blesses us physically and spiritually through the obedience of keeping the Sabbath day holy. That is why the situation in Oaxaca has so much poverty because they don't obey this commandment. We went on to have a great lesson with Fernando. 

This week we changed houses! It was pretty tiring moving everything out, because we have a TON of stuff. Ever since they closed the other area here in Nochixtlan we've been crammed in our tiny house with all the stuff. That was the main reason that we moved. The new house is a lot bigger and we really enjoy the closed in outside patio area that we have. We have peach and pomegranate trees! We also hung Christmas lights. Christmas in august :)

Have a great end of summer and enjoy the Olympics. Keep me updated ;) I might not be able to write next Monday because its going to be transfer day and transfer day is always crazy.

Love y'all,
-Elder Smith