Monday, January 23, 2017

The Best Two Years

Hi everybody! 
This is officially my last email home. I didn't think this day would ever come, but I made it! I'm so grateful for all of your love and support in these two years. I can say that they were definitely the best two years. Saying goodbye to everyone in Ixtepec on Friday was hard but I was excited to come up to the city on Saturday to see other great people that I've met and became really close to. 


Since Saturday I've been staying in the mission offices with the other three Americans that are leaving with me. We are pretty much on vacations now walking around Oaxaca buying stuff, eating whatever we want to and going to old areas to visit. It's pretty relaxing not having to ask permission for everything now :). Tomorrow we have our final interviews with President Madsen and the dinner at their house. Early Wednesday morning, we head out to the airport. I still can't believe I'll be home in 2 days.

I know that this work is the work of The Lord. I have been able to help more people than I've ever imagined, and seeing how the gospel changes lives has been an amazing and unforgettable experience. I know that we have the fullness of the gospel in the restored church. As I have served others and taught these eternal truths, I have become my own convert. Before my time here I believed that the church was true, and now I know it is. I now understand what faith and repentance is and I have applied it personally as I've taught these principles to many people in Oaxaca. I love the gospel and I know that it's through serving others and living the teachings of our Savior that we can be happy in this life and for eternity alongside our families. The mission changed my perspective of everything and I hope to apply everything I learned when I get home. 

Love, Elder Smith

Monday, January 16, 2017

Enduring to the End

We've been working hard this last week in our area. It's sooo hard but I'm trying to focus on the mission but every conversation leads to me going home in a week. I feel bad for Elder Ochoa but I know how he feels. I've killed three companions during the mission :) The last few weeks I've felt pretty normal, but after this last Sunday everything is starting to become surreal. I'm in my last few days as a full time missionary. It really brings tears to my eyes thinking about it but I'm also super excited to see the family and take another step forward in the bright future ahead of me.


We started contacting and knocking doors trying to find new investigators these last few days. We had little success but we were able to find a few new investigators and some appointments for this week. It's hard to keep myself focused but I know that God is trying my diligence to endure to the end. We are planning a lot of baptisms for February but sadly I'll just have to have my companion send me the pictures. There's a whole lot of potential in Ixtepec to be able to have 5 baptism in the next month and I'm happy for Elder Ochoa because I'm not leaving him with a dead area. 

This past Saturday we got to perform the missionary program again in the other Estaca in Tehuantepec. I was a little nervous because I haven't gotten over my cough. The program went great and we nailed "O Holy Night" again, so it was a sigh of relief. I felt the spirit the strongest in this last performance and during some of the songs I actually started to tear up. I don't know whats wrong with me but I'm already starting to get emotional and I don't like it hahaha. I'll be a mess on the 25th. I also got a call from The Dewolfs congratulating me and telling me that I'm always welcome in their home in Utah. Also, I got a call from Martha, an investigator in Huatulco that got baptized in August and just recently her son as well. Hearing from the people that I've grown to love in these two years have made me so happy. It's a joy that can't be described that only comes through Christ-like service.

I'll be heading to Oaxaca on Saturday to make it to the church services in Nochixtlan on Sunday. President Madsen gave me permission to go up early to visit Nochixtlan and my other areas in the city. Next Monday I'll be sending my last email as a missionary in the mission offices.

See yall soon! Love,
Elder Smith

Monday, January 9, 2017

Baptism!

We had a great weekend because Candelaria was baptized!!! It was so special to see the transformation of Candelaria through her conversion process. We have grown to be great friends and seeing her completely change from a person who didn't have a direction in her life to someone who is happier and has a light within her. She completely changed her life and her habits to follow the Lord and become a member of The Church. She was a coffee addict and she committed to obey the Word of Wisdom and from drinking liters of coffee every day to nothing in a couple months is truly a miracle. 

Candelaria has major health problems that have to do with tumors that she has. The past year she's been seeing specialists and traveling to Oaxaca City to be treated. Now, they don't have the money to keep traveling and paying for those treatments. We promised her that she will be blessed and healed as she keeps the word of wisdom and prepares to be baptized and keep following Christ. She mentioned to us once that she had a lot of pain that wouldn't go away and when she offered a prayer pleading to God to take away the pain because she was doing her best to do what the Elders were teaching her. She said almost instantly after the prayer the pain didn't return the entire day and night. 

It has been such a blessing for me to be a part of the conversion of Candelaria. She's someone very special. One thing that I have learned on the mission that miracles are real and there are many in the Church of Jesus Christ, as it was in the early primitive church. 

January 6th was el dia de reyes. In Latino culture they celebrate the 6th as the day that the wise men arrived and gave baby Jesus gifts. They celebrate it by giving all the children toys and gifts and they eat a special pastry bread called rosca de reyes. They actually don't really give many gifts on Christmas, its the dia de reyes when most of the gift giving happens, especially for the kids. We bought a rosca de reyes and some superheroes action figures, dolls, hot wheels and a beautiful new soccer ball for the nephews of Candelaria. They are super good kids and they live in really humble circumstances so we decided to surprise them and they loved it! 

It was a special week and I'm for sure going to soak it all in these next couple of weeks because before I know it ill be back home. I'm excited to get home but the time on the mission really is sacred and I'm going to miss it.

Love you all a ton! Hasta muy pronto.
-Elder Smith

Monday, January 2, 2017

Feliz ano nuevo!

Feliz año nuevo!!! Wow is it really 2017 already? I remember getting to the mission and everybody telling me "Wow you don't get back home until 2017...you're gonna be here a while." Haha well that's what I was thinking in my head as well. But time flies on the mission. It's been the fastest 2 years of my life. 

This week we had an unexpected surprise on Saturday. We were walking down the street when someone yelled Hey Elders! From inside of his car. Whenever people call for us we always need to make a judgement call if we should go to them or just keep walking. It's a safety thing that I've learned on the mission here in Mexico. Just because they know that we're Elders doesn't mean that they're always friendly to us. I always judge by the spirit and if I feel good about it I go and talk to them. So we got to the car and he spoke to me in English. He reached out his hand with a 200 peso bill saying,"Take it, just take it!" I replied a little confused, as well in English, "Uh..are you sure?" "Yes! Merry Christmas!" he responded while driving off. 

It was a funny experience, I'm thinking he's an ex-missionary that was visiting Ixtepec for the holidays. We were happy because you can do a lot with 200 pesos here :) And I plan on going out for tlayudas a lot in my last few weeks here. 

Candelaria, our investigator fell into some temptation on Christmas Eve and drank alcohol. Here, especially in the isthmus of Oaxaca that what Satan attacks with most. Even the members fall due to alcohol sometimes because it's the culture here and the temptation is always there. Candelaria felt horrible all week and really has sincerely repented. She felt better when we talked to her on Wednesday in the lesson we had with her. She's now getting baptized this Saturday the 7th!

It was a tough week looking for investigators and trying to have lessons. Everybody was gone on vacations or at parties all day and night. We were blessed to find 3 new investigators on the 31st! We struggled to find contacts all week but our prayers were answered when a family let us in their house as they were preparing their New Years dinner. We taught them a little bit about the Restoration and we made an appointment for this Thursday. 

On Saturday night we ate dinner with Sister Norma and we got home at 8 because curfew for us was an hour earlier. Elder Ochoa and I were both really tired so we got ready for bed and tried sleeping early. I couldn't sleep when I checked my watch, it said that it was about 11:30. All night the fireworks were going off but when it hit 12 it seemed like fireworks were exploding in every direction. Some right by the window where I was! I almost got my head blown off. Haha not really but it was loud and I was surprised that my companion slept through all the ruckus. 

Every week goes by so fast!! 3 more weeks and I'll be on my way home. Have a fantastic first week of 2017! P.S I took pictures of cool while parrots that were chilling in a tree.

Love, Elder Smith