Monday, December 28, 2015

Jonathan Santos ready for baptism. Christmas family phone call home. Nancy is convert.

Ahh well. Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Actually they say the most wonderful time of the year. And if the full time missionary is enjoying the spirit of the season while on his or her supposed best two years..that makes December 25th even more special I think. 
Then throw in a call to the family that he or she hasn't seen in 7 months digitally (and perhaps family members that haven't even been met yet) and you get the greatest Christmas yet in his or her young life. And I am positive if gorgeous baptismal services and miracles with investigators deciding to follow the Jesus Christ that we remember this time of year..if all that gets added into the equation you end up with what can only be described as a non-forgettable, inspiring, cherished Christmas.
Well that is my best effort at creative or formal writing - whatever ya call it. Now i go back to my informal fast type.  It was a great week. We were slow at first but we caught up by getting Jonathan Santos ready for baptism. The boy (even though he looks like a man) is 16 and he has made some great changes in his life and started off a clean, new life by entering into the waters of baptism.  The service was probably one of, if not my favorite service I have been in. We had the impression that the person to baptize Jonathan physically would not be one of us missionaries. And it became clear that the Young Men's president was the man for the job. He is a strong convert, who had never baptized anyone.  And also he had experienced tragedy just weeks before with the passing of his daughter and son in both him (Brother Cuevas) and Jonathan had a great experience. And now that Jonathan goes in to Young Mens we hope to see it get stronger as an organization.
While on the topic of the Priesthood, Amary Santos passed the sacrament yesterday, and Ricardo Gonzalas, the convert that was called to the Young Mens presidency, blessed the sacrament. That was just so awesome to see, I can't describe it.  Also, Jonathan recieved the Priesthood and Felix Hernandez was interviewed and received it. In February, I believe, the older ones are going to recieve the Greater Priesthood. Actually, I am sure they will.  I love our bishopric. They are super ready and willing to get things done and now!
And Nancy is the other convert of Sunday this week. She came to church again and we had a quick lesson with her to see if she was willing to throw away sin and enter into the baptismal covenant that same day but in the evening. She was also super ready to do it, and we got things ready and had a beautiful baptismal service.
Can you guys count all the blessings here? Because I seem to lose track. Even though we are so imperfect, our Heavenly Father wants our best..and that is what we do - our best to give. I love this ward, I love Christmas and i don't want to leave either of them but to quote a certain chosen one´s mother.. ´´You can't stop the more than you can stop the sun from setting.´´ 

As a zone we were able to be the most successful out of the mission, as a district too I believe, and Elder Berry and I both are super happy of what we have been able to accomplish. I couldn't do any of this without Elder Berry. He is so capable and tenacious yet highly effective.  I love learning from his example and hope to have yet more time here. 

Now I hope no one confuses my letter with ingratitude to God for all that I have. The greastest part of these past weeks and the mission in general is the comprehension of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that I have been blessed to obtain. Complete, no...but enough to know how and why to repent and invite every single person to do the same.

My family must know that I love them and think of them often and try to be the missionary that they believe I am :D  Same with my firends. Happy New Year's to all! God bless you.

Elder Smith

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Letter from President and Sister Morales. Misión México Reynosa Navidad.

Dear Smith Family:             
We express our sincere gratitude for the service that your son Elder Smith is offering as he helps the children of God return to him.
The continual love and contact from you and to your son will help that he accomplishes in developing a higher level of maturity and spirituality, and become a great teacher of the Plan of Salvation.
We desire that in these days and always, the Blessings of God are with you and your family.

President and Sister Morales.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ricardo and Monica Baptism. Genisis and Paula Baptism. The help from home...

Well another amazing week has passed by in Matamoros. At the beginning of the week we saw that time wasn't going to be on our side.. because Thursday all day we traveled to Reynosa and Friday we had our annual Christmas party thing. 
 So we were thinking about Ricardo and Monica, two investigators, and we decided it would be better to invite them to move their baptism up to Wednesday, the following day. And with the help of a super great member named brother Rincon..they accepted the idea completely. So we spent a good amount of time preparing a great service. 

Now, here is where we saw one of the many miracles in this experience. 
We had a challenge that always happens it seems. The boiler wasn't working.  The water heater was not working and Sister Monica had previously told us that she was like allergic to cold water or something. She hates the cold and even though i don't think she would've gotten sick or something, we did not want to risk her not wanting to get in cold water. With what else can you heat up water you ask?

And that is when Kristi, Michael, Jaimie and Danny come in to play. Weeks prior they read my complaints about having to bathe myself with ice-melt. And they sent me a water bucket heater. But not just like a cheap one. The thing has 1000 watt usage. So things clicked in my mind and the heater that I had recieved and opened just 5 days prior was placed in the baptismal font for 3 hours to make the baptism possible. We were so grtateful for that.
So they both get baptized and it was great..and then Sunday comes and afterward, their confirmation in priesthood, on the same Sunday. The bishopric ordains Ricardo (and Amaury, a convert from November) to the Aaronic Priesthood AND in the same sacrament meeting Ricardo is called to be the first counselor in the Young Men's presidency. So that was super special to see. I hope i can have the opportuntiy to see them sealed in the temple in a year as well :D. 
Baptisms of Genisis and Paula..i love that little girl that is next to me haha she had to get baptized in ice cold water and was shivering at the point of quitting and she pushed through it and did it!
We are enjoying success right now..and a lot of that has to do with finding big families with strong father figures and relying on the miracles of God.
My companion will turn 20 tomorrow.  We are gonna do something cool for him..and Christmas is coming so fast this week.  I will have the honor of seeing my family!

The Christmas party was enjoyable Friday. Mainly it was just fun to be with everyone..all the old MTC district. 
I hadn't seen some members for a long time. We hit piñatas (that mexican stereotype is spot on. 
We break piñatas in every event possible). We played musical chairs (very original..i know) and received gifts. I got a gorgeous new tie! 
Most of all the Reynosa Mexico Mission is having combined success for the year and in November. In November our tiny mission baptized the most out of not just Mexico..but all of America South and North.  I think the Africa missions somewhere were the highest. But on these continents..Reynosa knows what it is doing haha. And we are 165 mission areas, i believe. Apart from that..we made a convert goal of 1200 for the year of 2015..before the Christmas activity, so we were super pumped. I hope i am not sounding over confident or anything. I am just so grateful to be a part of a mission with a president as excellent as President Morales and missionaries as focused and dedicated as they are. I couldn't be happier anywhere else. I love it here. I am so happy to be a part of the fulfilling of prophecies, ancient and modern - preaching the gospel to these people.
That will be all for the week. I hope everyone enjoys Christmas as much as I am going to! And that we all remember the greatest gifts of the universe..the Lord Jesus Christ and the atonement he accomplished!

Elder Smith

Monday, December 14, 2015

Corina Hernandez and Melony, her daughter, made the decision to follow Jesus Christ and enter into the waters of baptism.

This week started out just fabulous. Like I had mentioned before, we had two baptisms fall through, but Monday we were able to recover them and Corina Hernandez and Melony, her daughter, made the decision to follow Jesus Christ and enter into the waters of baptism. It was a pleasure to be there with them. 
The week went by and we were in other areas a lot helping the other areas assure baptisms and other things and doing interviews. The work is so much more enjoyable when you are doing more than just looking for people to teach. I am so glad I am in my second year of the mission. I have learned so much.
So I wish I could sufficiently explain the story of the Santos family, but in this letter it sufficeth me to say (fancy talk haha ;)) that we had a wonderful example of faith and repentence shown to us by Brandon Santos who was animated to get baptized since the begining of our teaching. His family has grown so much closer and the best part of the whole baptismal service was his mom's beaming face as she took pictures of him in white and such. The church will be so good for him with all the YSA activities and conferences. I am super happy for him (he is 19). 
We had the opportunity to teach like 12 kids in a lesson this week..the soccer team of Amaury haha they were some great kids.  One is going to go to church this Sunday I believe. 

The best part about the Santos family is that the father did a 180 turn around, left behind past sins and is super excited together with his wife for baptism and church service. This Saturday will be their service. This month has been absoluetly miracle-filled. And what a way to celebrate Christmas. This week is a mission get-together thing. I cant wai to see everyone.  And the following week I will get to see my beloved family.
We also watched all 3 sessions of the temple dedication at Tijuana, Mexico. It was the closest I have felt to the temple in a long time. It literally is an extension of the temple. It requires a reccommend and all. And it was great. The Spirit newly testified to me that that place is the House of God. President Uctdorf and Elder Oaks were there and we saw the broadcast in the stake center and then afterwards the baptism. So Sunday was a day to remember.
Other than that, it is still hot. But no one whines because the cold is a comin' haha! Shoutout to my family, and other family (Nelsons jaja) for awesome gifts of Christmas treats and treasures! And to all, for your thoughts, hopes and service and prayers!!

Elder Smith

Monday, December 7, 2015

"yeah Elder Smith you invited me to church and I came!"

Well many things happened in the week. Elder Cruz made a miraculous recovery and returned to work Monday. 
We were supposed to have the baptisms of Sister Corina and her daughter Melanie but things happened. Hopefully, we can get it done today. There was one change and Elder Cruz is going to Reynosa and we will have an Elder Peters in the house from Virginia. He is tall and white so this should be fun. 
We are now in the house 4 from Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Michigan. We practically make up the north south east and west haha!
So this week was mild we had the blessing and really gift of God as Brother Feliz Hernandez came to us. About 6 or 8 weeks ago my older companion and I contacted a man working outside of a house and we invited him to church. Time passed and 2 weeks ago he arrived to church. Now look we talk to and invite a lot, a LOT, of people to church and such so this guy was like "yeah Elder Smith you invited me to church and I came!" and I am thinking who is this guy I have never seen him in my life. But then (while I was pretending to remember) he mentioned where we met and everything was brought to me and I remembered. So this man, Felix, doesn't have a phone, and he lives (lives as in sleeps in a borrowed "house´") far away from church AND he wouldn't tell us where he lived which we supposed was due to shame. and all he has is a bycicle. So we do the only thing we can do and invite him to have a lesson in the church the following day. The next day we are waiting and he doesn't show up. After half an hour we go do some things and later pass by the church and there's Felix outside the church waiting for us. He explained that he was held up at work and apologized humbly. 
We were just psyched that he came. So we teach him and use some ideas and techniques to teach him in church every other day AND he had been prepared since last year for baptism!  He had before found a Book of Mormon in the garbage and he had left behind addictive habits last year so all we had to do was teach and he was super excited about his baptism. Anyways i love this guy..he bikes 45 minuted from his house to talk to us and read and learn and go to church. Super inspirational...someone that has so much humility and good desire in God´s eyes..but not much in the world´s. 

We are excited for Christmas... I hope everyone takes the opportunity to share the Gospel while the Christmas message is availble! Love to all!

Elder Smith