Monday, October 31, 2016

Dia de los Muertos y de los Cambios

Happy Halloween! I miss the Halloween traditions in the States but mostly the cool fall air and the colorful leaves on the trees. Don't get me wrong, I have grown to love Oaxaca, but I could never live here all my life because I love the change of the seasons. They don't have big, round, orange pumpkins here either which is essential for the Halloween and Thanksgiving seasons.
So the big news of the week is transfers! My companion, Elder Villegas got changed to the coast (poor guy) haha, just kidding, I loved being on the coast but it is a little hotter the weather. We should be getting air conditioning units tomorrow for our house!
Whoever made that decision to send the missionaries air conditioning units is an inspired man. I still don't know who my new companion is going to be. I won't know until tonight, but I'm going to be training a greenie! My third son on the mission :D It's crazy to think that most likely he'll be my last companion until I meet my eternal companion after the mission hehe.
So in sadder news, Edilberto and Rosa didn't get baptized last Saturday because Edilberto drank a couple beers last Sunday :( He said that he's going to quit and if he doesn't drink all this week then he'll be able to get baptized together with his wife. Satan really attacks people here with alcohol. Here in the Istmo of Oaxaca it's a normal think to drink alcohol everyday and get drunk. Its the culture and it makes things a little complicated for the work to progress.

Comments about the pictures...we went to visit investigators in Ixtaltepec and the sunset was amazing so we had a bit of a photo shoot.

We were taking some pictures at the bus station and Elder Knighton and Elder Portales photo bombed us pretty good. They're both from my same generation. We all leave in January together so were all pretty close.
Have a fabulous Halloween and first week of November. Thanks for your love and support, it means a lot that you haven't forgotten about me after 21 months :)
Love Elder Smith

Monday, October 24, 2016

Zapotec Language

Hey fam! Things have cooled down a little bit here in Ixtepec. My first few weeks here was insanely hot but now it has gotten really windy and a little cooler. I may still look red in all my pictures but I think its a little bit less now :) 

There have been a lot of parties here lately. The people are poor here but there always seems to be money to throw a huge party in the middle of the street. Yesterday we were in Ixtaltepec and we walked through a party because it was in the middle of the street and there wasn't another way to go! They all started laughing at us and yelling at us in zapoteco. In this region of Oaxaca, the people speak their indigenous dialect, zapoteco. A lot older people don´t even know how to speak Spanish. I was glad they yelled at us in zapoteco so we didn't understand what they said, it might´ve made me mad ha ha. My companion was a little annoyed at what happened, but I just laughed afterwards. 

We are planning on 2 baptisms this coming Saturday. The couple that got married the other week are having their baptism. It's not for sure quite yet because Edilberto has had problems with the word of wisdom so we need to make sure that he's willing to leave the coffee and alcohol. We have prayed a lot for this couple and we're excited for them because we've seen a drastic change in them and their relationship, especially in Edilberto. Just a few weeks ago he called us to tell us that he didn't want anything to do with us and the church. He has completely changed and now has the desire to be baptized with his wife. 

Its almost November!!! Crazy how time flies. See you all soon.
-Elder Smith

Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!
Today Edilberto and Rosa got married! That means that they can now get baptized yayyyy! The only problem is that Edilberto has drank alcohol this past week noooo :( Well we'll be downloading a video on the word of wisdom for him. We need to meet with him a lot because we were planing on the baptism for the 29th of this month.

We are having a lot of success in Ixtaltepec. All of our progressing investigators live there so we've been traveling a lot. We get there by taking a bus that costs 10 pesos each, but we always try and get members to take us (so that we have more money for pizza) hehehe. The member that always helps us so much in the work is Doctor GarcĂ­a. He's the mission doctor and he lives in our area! (So don't worry Mom the mission doctor is my neighbor :) He is so awesome because he picks up investigators on Sundays to go to church and whenever he comes with us on splits he buys us a bunch of bread.
It's special bread that you only find in Ixtaltepec. It's delicious and I love ending the day with a tall glass of milk and that bread. Doctor Garcia became the mission doctor because the missionaries would always show up to his clinic when something was wrong with them and Doc Garcia would never charge the missionaries anything. That's why a few years ago he became the official mission doctor. He's also the one who paid the wedding and the party afterwards. He is truly consecrated in the work and he gives everything he has to serve the Lord.
Today was the zone activity and we played soccer and volleyball and ate pizza. It was nice to see President Madsen again because he always updates me on BYU sports ;)
We're hoping for a lot of baptisms here in the coming weeks so keep praying for us! Love you all a bunch.
-Elder Smith

Monday, October 10, 2016

Laollaga "Eye of Water"

This was an eventful and pretty stressful week. It went by really fast as well. I thought about how many weeks that I have left on the mission and it scared me a little, because the weeks go by so fast. 

One experience that we had this week was with a member and her bed ridden mother. The Sister's name is Norma and she's been taking care of her old and sick parents. It's crazy all of the things she does to take care of them. Her Mom had been in the hospital for quite a while in intensive care, but she got so bad that they brought her home just to pass away on her death bed. We went over to visit and try and help her around the house. All of a sudden her Mom's temperature shot up and her body began to shake uncontrollably. In that moment Elder Villegas and I gave her a Priesthood blessing and seconds after, she seemed to return to normal. We checked her fever and it went down.

 The power of the priesthood is real and that experience strenghtened my testimony of Priesthood blessings even more. 

Later that night at about 10 o'clock we got a call from Edilberto. The investigator that is getting married in a week. I answered the phone and he started to stay that his soon to be wife was crazy and that he didn't want to listen to us anymore or go to church. I could hear Sister Rosa in the background screaming and throwing things. I told him that we would visit him soon and that the situation will calm down. He replied saying that we could come visit Rosa but that he wasn't going to be there because he doesn't want anything to do with us anymore. With that he hung up and left Elder Villegas and I thinking that all was lost with the marriage and the baptism. We were pretty depressed that night and we decided to kneel together and offer a prayer before going to sleep. 

Well it turns out that they got in a pretty ugly fight that night but the situation calmed down. Were going to have a Family Home Evening that their house on Thursday to help them out before the marriage. Edilberto still drinks alcohol a few times a week as well as coffee so we need to have a serious conversation with him about the Word of Wisdom. This past week we've found a lot of new investigators. We're going to keep looking for those that The Lord has prepared to accept the Gospel in our area.

Today for P-day we went to a beautiful village called Laollaga to eat with the Elders that are there. We one of my favorite Oaxacan dishes, Pozole and we took pictures around the river and the Ojo de Agua thats in Laollaga. I don't know what the word is for Ojo de Agua in English but the direct translation is Eye of Water. It's where the water first comes out of the mountain or something like that. 

Have a great week. Love you all,
-Elder Smith

Monday, October 3, 2016

Conference Weekend

Every missionary's favorite time of the year. CONFERENCE WEEKEND. It was a great vacation being able to sit in the air conditioned chapel watching the prophets and apostles share their inspired messages. I also loved the music of all the choirs. We had 3 investigators come to conference on Sunday. Edilberto, who is getting married on the 17th so he can get baptized, went to the priesthood session and the Sunday afternoon session. He lives in Ixtaltepec, a Little town about a 15 minute car ride from Ixtepec. He made the sacrifice to come and we are helping him to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon as well as The Word of Wisdom. It was perfect when President Monson spoke about the Word of Wisdom on Saturday.

I really enjoyed Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk on that it depends on our attitude top be happy and joyful in our lives, and it has little to do with the challenges we face. I have learned that eternal truth throughout my mission, seeing so many happy people who have very little. People who live under a tin roof with 4 walls. Families of 6 or more in conditions that are not very comfortable at all, but some how they are happier than a lot of people that have all the material luxuries you could ask for. I'm constantly humbled by the people that I have come to know throughout my mission. I am forever grateful for their example.

Today we ate tlayudas with Hermana Laura and her 3 daughters. I don't know what it is but little girls always come to love the Elders, and it's hard not to fall in love with them because they're just the sweetest. I'm always asking the sisters here to give me the recipes to the salsas that they make. Oh man I love Mexico because there's always a bowl of salsa on the table.

I encourage you all to study and ponder the talks that were given this weekend. We are so blessed to have the words of the living prophets to help guide us to the eternal blessings that the Gospel offers us.

Les Amo mucho,
Elder Smith