Monday, November 28, 2016

Light the World

It's officially permitted to listen to Christmas music because Thanksgiving has passed! I'm now starting to see Christmas trees and lights getting set up here, even though it doesn't feel like December here because of the weather. It's a little strange but listening to Christmas music that I put on my ipod and turning the air conditioning unit on full blast helps me feel a little bit more at home haha. Christmas as a missionary is a really special experience though that I'm never going to experience again. I'm going to take advantage of it for sure. 

This week we had our stake conference and Elder Casteñeda from the quorum of the seventy spoke. He shared a powerful testimony and the spirit was really strong. 3 of our investigators were able to attend. Candelaria, and two new investigators, María and Fernanda. Candelaria is progressing towards her baptismal date and is quitting little by little her coffee addiction. It amazes me the faith that people have to change their lives completely to follow these new teachings and commandments. Being born in the church made it easy for me, but I don't know if I would be humble enough to change my life completely like what these converts do. 

The new Christmas video came out! #Light the world. The new video is really neat our it shows that we can serve others and do what Christ did to light the world with truth, love and hope. 

We had a really special experience with our new investigator, María. She was the one that we contacted in the street that said her friends invited her to go to institute. In our first lesson with her we talked about Joseph Smith and the restoration, as well as baptism. We invited her to be baptized and she said yes and that she wanted to be a member of the church. She just wants to learn more first to be sure of the commitment that shes going to make. When she said those words I was shocked and at a loss for words for a moment. The Lord has put in our path people who are prepared to accept the gospel and investigators like María are a missionaries dream. Golden investigator for sure. We put her baptismal date for January 7th. 

This December is going to be full of gifts. We get to see Elder Andersen on the 11th and we have a special training for missionaries by Elder Peiper of the Seventy on Saturday the 10th. Who knows, Elder Andersen could show up at that training as well, I'm praying that he does! Then were going to sing in a missionary Christmas program for the stake on the 18th, and the missionary Christmas activity the next day. And then it's Christmas SKYPE DAY. It's going to be a December to remember.

Have a great week!!
Love, Elder Smith

Monday, November 21, 2016

Taco's and Tamale's for Thanksgiving

We had a great week because it ended with 2 baptisms! Ausencio and Leonardo had their baptisms this past weekend. Everything went well but I've learned that baptism days are the most stressful but rewarding days on the mission. I always get so stressed out because the leaders and members of the ward don't really help much with the details of the baptisms so it all rests on our shoulders. 

After the baptism we went to celebrate at the Ranch and we ate some delicious tamales and fried fish roe. It was the first time I've eaten fish roe and I liked it a lot. It shows that you can fry anything and it will taste good. We call it the Ranch (el rancho) where the Urbieta family lives in Ixtaltepec. It's pretty much our second home there and they put up their Christmas tree! I love that family so much and to be able to see them grow in the gospel has made me so happy. It's a huge extended family that all live there. Ausencio is the grandfather of the family and it was really special to see him be converted in the gospel. 


So on December 11th Elder Neil L. Andersen is coming to Juchitan! He's going to speak at a multistage conference that Sunday. Not all the missionaries of the mission are going to be able to attend but I'm lucky enough to be part of the zones that he's visiting here in the Istmus of Oaxaca. He was going to have a special conference with just missionaries, but something changed in his schedule so he won't have time. Bummer but I'll be able to see him and hear him speak at the stake conference. It's going to be something really special for the members and leaders of the church here in Oaxaca. Hopefully there won't be any blockades in the road to keep him from coming. Knowing Oaxaca, I won't be surprised haha. 

Have a fabulous Thanksgiving week! I´ll be eating tacos and tamales like usual but I'll pretend that they're turkey tacos ;)
Love,
Elder Smith 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Worn Out Shoes

This week was full of activities, meetings and conferences. It was a fun but tiring week, and we didn't have much time to work in our area. On Wednesday it was the meeting for new missionaries and trainers. The meeting was in Salina Cruz and we got to travel in the nice charter buses :) Its also exciting because they play movies and there's nothing we can do to not watch ;) They never show good movies though, but I prefer to wait to watch the good ones in English when I get home. It was my fourth new missionary meeting so it was the same old stuff. But I always come out of the meetings with President Madsen uplifted and ready to take on the world. 

On Friday we had a Leadership council in Juchitan. Usually just the Zone Leaders are invited, but this time all the District Leaders were invited as well so I got to go and participate. We talked about the difference between administer and minister. As leaders in the mission we have many administrative responsibilities such as deal with housing, materials, money and logistical issues with transfers and conferences. That's something that we learn to do in the mission and it's helpful to learn how to be good administrators, but we are set apart as missionaries to minister our investigators and fellow missionaries in the leadership positions that we have. Jesus ministered among the people all of his life. To minister is to attend the needs of someone. We all have needs, especially the investigators that we have and the gospel of Jesus Christ is what we teach in order to serve and minister the people that God puts in our path. 

We had interviews with President Madsen on Saturday and we also rehearsed for the Christmas Program that we do every year for the members and investigators of the Stake. That means Christmas time is around the corner yayy! Later that same Saturday we had a special activity with recent converts and investigators in the stake.

A lot of missionaries in our zone were there to help and we had stations, where at each station we taught a principle of the Gospel in an interactive way. It was a good time. Yesterday we got to see a satelite transmission of a special conference for Mexico. Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, Elder Hales and President Russel M. Nelson spoke and their message was clear and to the point. Keep the Commandments. They talked about tithing, family history, and family home evening. 

I have one comment of the picture of my shoes that I uploaded. After a hard fight, I finally decided to put my second pair of shoes on the mission to rest. It was a tough decision but it had to be done. 

Love you all and have a fabulous week!
-Elder Smith

Monday, November 7, 2016

Baptism!

Edilberto and Rosa got baptized!!! For me it was a special moment because of the ups and downs and all of the experiences we've had with them. I really love that family and to see how the gospel has changed them just fills me with indescribable joy. I baptized Edilberto and my companion, Elder Ochoa baptized Rosa. I could see in the face of Edilberto that he was truly happy. He's a changed man and after baptizing him a gave him a big bear hug. It really was a special moment. 

Elder Ochoa is my new companion. My third and final son on the mission. He's from Mexico City and even though he's just starting, he teaches and contacts as if he was a veteran. We talk together a lot about xbox and superhero movies. I took him to eat his first tlayuda. Even though Mexico City is so close to Oaxaca, he's never eaten a tlayuda.
It's a Oaxacan special that's tough to find anywhere else in the world. I opted for the garnachas that night. Garnachas are little crispy fried tortillas with meat and onions topped with lettuce, carrot and salsa. It's the bomb, but the bomb comes the next morning if you know what I mean. It's loaded with grease so it doesn't treat the stomach too well sometimes hahaha. 

Today we went to eat at a restaurant with the other Elders from our district. Doctor Garcia is good friends with the owners of the restaurant so he tells us when we're hungry we can go and eat there for free.
I'm going to miss being a missionary. The blessings are real and I hope that everyone at home can feel them too. Whatever happens around us in this world it will never change the eternal truths and the joy that this gospel brings.

I love you all and have a fantastic week.
Con Amor, Elder Smith