Monday, August 15, 2016

Last post from the field. Returning home Friday, 19th of August, 2016.

Dear Family and Friends,
I have one last letter in me. This week was the week of weeks. One to never forget.
Wedding of Eufracio family
The most important thing is that.......drumroll....The Eufracio Family got married Friday!! And baptized an hour afterwards! 

We got to the Offices and the family wanted us to be witnesses. I figured being an American and all that I couldn't, but with my green card thing they let me! This was something I have desired for a long time now, the opportunity to baptize a complete family I mean. Lius the boy is a stud. He is super active in Church and motivates his family to attend.

Elidia was very content and happy to be married and even more after her baptism. I have been amazed at her progress, and that of her husband. Also, Sunday we baptized a daughter of their family, who was working Friday so she had her baptism Sunday. Also that was special.
I can't decribe how blessed I feel that the Lord has blessed me to be able to participate in these last conversions. It has been incredible.
visiting members: the one on the bed is super cool, and has lou gheraigs disease
Thanks to all who have been here for me. Thanks to my Mom and Dad, my sisters who have written me and loved me without fail. To Hallie, Elder Nelson, Arijit, David, Renny, and Schmeag who have also been by my side through it all. The various other family members and friends have supported me through these last two years. And obviously the amazing people that I have met in Mexico. I can't wait to see everyone :D

Elder Smith

Monday, August 8, 2016

This week passed by - you guessed it - super fast again! And what a superb week.

This week passed by - you guessed it - super fast again! And what a superb week. I had always admired the elders that finished their missions in a successful manner, and I feel overwhelmed and privileged to do the same. I know the Lord has blessed us tremendously, and I feel even more blessed, as if the Lord has permitted me to have these experiences last, as a gift or a blessing for the whole mission. :D
last week..i used these this last week and was impressed at how mother had wrote covenant in spanish!!

Edgar Martinez that Granny and Papa know :D he is the Elders Quorom pres here
Well Antonio will be the first story. He has had such a change in heart, the change that the Scriptures talk about. His participation in lessons has been a factor in his progress. He was baptized Saturday August 6, and he was way more excited than nervous, which isn't always the case. My favorite moments from the lessons were when we taught the Law of Chastity. We talked about taking care of our bodies and such, and my companion invited him directly if he would remove his earring from that day forward. And he did it, and that is just one example of the change that he had made. It is always amazing to see how much fulliled people are, how much happier while learning and living the Gospel. We were invited to a brithday dinner after the baptism of another little girl that was baptized with him and that was enjoyable as well. Congrats to Antonio!

baptism of Guiermo..janets brother!
And the other accomplishment was that of the Eufracio Family. This is Elidia, Rogelio, Enda, Luis, and Josè. They basically made it all happen this last week for us. I am so happy for them and decisions they have made. They are such a special family. First, Tuesday we go to teach them and after their church experience they announce to us that they were going to get married! And they wanted to do it in the following week! Without us even insisting!! And I felt so blessed knowing that this week will be my last. On Thursday we taught the Word of Wisdom and Rogelio hadn't drunken for a weeks and commited himself to live the commandment. And all were officially commited to baptism for this Friday at 6:00pm. And Saturday we couldn't see them because they were at the dentist all afternoon. So the plan was that we were just going to call them Saturday night to assure that they would come to church or if they needed a ride. So the night time comes and I realize my old companion had their number written in his agenda. And it was never saved in the telephone. And our phones are peanuts and there was no way to go back to the last time we had called. So I frantically am looking and asking for the number of my ex comp Elder Adams who was a ghost Saturday night and impossible to find for some reason. It was like 10:40 pm at night and I was super stressed out. When I clearly and distinctly felt the following impression: Look in your previous agenda. 
Something so simple that I hadn't thought of. But I looked for it and literally the first page I open to is the day we found her and I had written Elidia's number as well. I called and confirmed that they would attend church and when I insisted that a sister come pick them up (they have no car) she politely rejected me and explained that she wanted to take the bus. Which bus must be taken at 7:15 am to make it to church in time and also requires a crossing of a busy freeway. So the call just helped me to sleep relaxed and relieved. In church they gave us the good news that they had gone to the marriage offices to start the proccess and were successful. This Friday they will be married before the baptism. Their family is coming as well, from other cities too I believe. And Elidia tells me in church "Last night I told you that we would get to church by ourselves, because no one can give us a ride to salvation, we have to do this ourselves." I was like whoaaaa #jawdrop. You have had like 4 church attendance and have already learned this much? ;D The kids are in love with Primary too. The ward is pretty great as far as teachers and members serving in their callings.

There is much more but emails are long and they don't tell all of the story. I ask you all to pray for us hard this week, especially that the Eufracio family can enjoy the blessing of marraige and baptism in this their road to an eternal life and family!

Elder Smith

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lydia's family came to church! And Lidia didn't come alone this time!

Another week has come and gone. I felt like this week went by super fast as well. It could very well be for the time I have left though :/ Updates are the following...

It is getting even hotter, something I thought not possible. AND they say this week it will be even hotter, which is fine. Heat isn't that bad when you are working. But we had a minor/major emergency with the malfunctioning of our "air conditioning" but now it is up and running like a champ. The problem you ask? It was installed incorrectly. 

On to more important things. This week was excellent as far as people coming to the church, in all aspects. First, the other elders have been baptizing like machines. They reactivated an older lady who has a bunch of grandchildren who aren't members and the families are coming back as well! We have been involved, too, and gotten to know one of the families. 

And the icing on the cake for the week was Sunday. I had the opportunity to attend the baptismal service of Guiermo, Janeth`s brother. He is 16 years old and although I had already known him and come to learn that he is an excellent young man, it was an especially special day for his sister. She has always wanted her family to accept and live the Gospel, more than anything I feel like. She even shared in a testimony (during the baptismal service of Venessa) that she had fasted for that very reason. And that she knew her prayers were being answered because her best friend was getting baptized. And now, with the first step in her family taken, she is very excited. Anyway there was a lot of emotion during her testimony before the ordinance, and the Spirit was as present as I could ever remember it being in a baptismal service. I was so gald to be there. PLUS I got to see and converse with some old friedns from Juarez. Unfortunately, my camera was left in the church, and I have no pictures of it to send but next week I will be sure to.
 Liliana and her family..a recent convert. oh and sister of ani the reactivated that attended the temple! :D
Lydia's family came to church! And Lidia didn't come alone this time! But her daughter and two grandchildren came and loved it! And the best most unexpected but not really unexpected thing was her husband Rogelio came! And we talked to them about Chastity and Marraige and they are excited to get married! So we are going to get right on this aren't we? :D That is one special family, too. I can't wait for their baptism! :DD

Anyway, I need to make two shout outs.  Please put this in the blog, Dad, because it has come to my attention that people here in Mexico are finding out about this blog because it apparently shows up really high on Google when the mission's name is searched sooooo...

1. in spanish.. Yaneth y Vanesa!! Les mando saludos de mi blog jaja para que sepa y les admiro bastante y les deseo lo mejor en todo que hacen!! mi familia tambien se ponen muy contentos al leer de las experiencias y cuentas que hemos tenido asi es que gracias y sigan siendo mis heroínas!  

2: Elder Tilton is my brotha from anotha motha haha and I cant wait until he transfers to Provo ;D love you bebè

And that is all! Until next week, friends and family!

Elder Smith

Monday, July 25, 2016

EFY youth return to testify and inspire others

Well this week went by the fastest of all the weeks I believe. Some noteworthy things that occurred were..

We ate a lot of meat. The equivelent of American BBQ in Mexico in Carne a side  Basically beef grilled and served with spices and salsas. We ate it like 3 times this week which is rare. I was super happy though!

We found some great families to teach. In the same streets too we are calling those streets the "Gold Mine" for its production. 

Youth came back from EFY. Now this was special. I wish I had time to translate the letters and conversations with the convert youth. The testimonies that they did or didn't have grew tremendously. And that makes me so grateful that this is the Lord's Church. The members of it are so, so great. The leaders truly made it a life changing experience for the youth. That much was clear.  People here seem to appreciate the activities and Mutuals and like things because it is about the only trip any of them get to do, in their lives. They appreciate it more i feel like.
A painting in a members home..reminded me of our painting with the girl 
and piano and how mom felt bad for me and bought me a boy on the piano haha 
yay for equality! :D
Friday we go to fill up the font for the other elders and two elders are there from Janeths ward, Elder Skinner was one of them. I had told him literally the Sunday prior that he had to go find and teach Janeth's brother. And he did it, and he had already been to church twice!  And after church yesterday, Janeth wrote me that he came out of Priesthood and told her that he wanted to be baptized, and was sure about it. His service is Saturday, and I am going to attend :D

Lydia`s husband turned out to be - you guessed it! A heavy beer-drinker!! But the guy is actually really nice, and although he doesn't appear to be all that interested in church right now, he might just come around. And he wants to get married so we hope to get that to happen soon.

The monthly money we get was increased for August..from 1700 pesos to 2300 pesos. haha "just in time" I thought..

We also had an awesome experience with an inactive member of a convert family. They are 7 members, and for some reason the second oldest avoided us almost completely. And we go over there every couple of days to retain the oldest who was recently baptized. Anyway so she had just recently started to talk to us, but never commited herself to go to church or pray or anything. Then, Friday we are talking about her studies (she studies beauty or something like that) and we figured out that she needed something that we could do to help her pass an exam. I am being nonspecific for a wise purpose.  I will just have to explain it to you when i get home. But to make it a short story, her part of the deal was that she had to go to church. And she went! And what a Sunday to attend!  The Bishop delayed the programmed talks until next week., and had every one of the youth come and share their testimony and EFY experience. Also the counselors. And it was just fantastic!  I can't describe it.  These kids are sooo much better than I was I am convinced. Anyway so after the services, Ani( the inactive who attended) asked for an interview with the Bishop. And afterwards we found out that she went to go get her temple recommend so that she could go to the temple with her family in this next trip in August. That was special to witness. Her family is estatic as well :D

My time has ended here. Love to all and thanks for your support!

Elder Smith

Monday, July 18, 2016

When one door closes, another, much better door opens...

Interesting week certainly. I felt like it went by super fast. We started off with this:  the past elders here in this house have been less than responsible and the water and electric bill hadn't been paid in like 4 months. So our owner of the apartment where we live is kinda crazy, too. So with that combination we were trying to figure out what all to do, and we ended up calling the president, who happened to be at the airport sending a sick missionary home early for medical reasons :(  And he passed by to take the bills to go pay them. Whew! That was a relief I tell you. So in this ward there are just some fantastic members.  The majority of them are converts, and we get to spend a lot of time with them for 1) retention and 2) members of their family that aren't baptized. Somehow, we met a brother of a teenage convert young woman, and the following day he went to the ward talent show and liked it and then to church the following day, and THEN we got him signed up to go to EFY and this morning he left early to another city called Monterrey. He is really great! His name is Etmer and he is definitely going to get baptized :D
Baptism of Silvestre
Also we baptized a 23 year old YSA named Silvestre, which translates to "wild" haha. which totally does not describe the brother. He had this eye infection thing that was really a problem for him, but it settled down in time for his baptism Saturday. Yesterday, Sunday, we were supposed to go visit him at 4:00 pm. but we were held up and the food appt was super far way so we couldn't make it and we were kinda worried. But then, a member family told us that he waited for us, but when we didn't come, the other YSA members invited him to make visits with them to less actives and youth going to EFY the following day. So it was another example to me that sometimes thngs happen for a reason and that occassionally when one door closes, another, much better door opens. I was glad he got to go with the members. That was way better for him :D

We are teaching a sister named Lidia. When we found her, I was this close to ending the contact and moving on to the next house. Something, obviously the Spirit I realize now, made me stay and try to reason with her so that she listened to us. Which i rarely do because i want to find the people that are prepared from the start and let us in right away. But after we started to talk to her we came to understand that she had been to many churches, and hadn't been satisfied and in some circunstances pleased with her experiences. We taught the Restoration to her and a grandchild (the sister is like 50 I believe) and the mood changed. I could tell that she believed what we were teaching. And she came to church too! And the members did an excellent job I might add in helping her feel comfortable. The 4 talks given were really really good too which helped her have a great overall experience. Now with Lidia, the only obstacle is that she isn't married to her husband #mexico but we will be working on that this week!

We got to play basketball today. 2 on 2 but I had a lot of fun. I was inspired because a brother and I were talking about how much fun we had playing basketball as youth and I told him about high school basketball and he told me about the state tournaments in Mexico he played in. The brother could play ball haha and I showed him a video on youtube of when i played in high school. It made me miss organized team sports though :/ so today we played and it was a lot of fun, even though the heat made everyone only want to play for like 20-30 minutes haha.

These past few days I have been super happy. I have the privelidge of being close geographically to some past converts. And Janeth surprised us and came at the end of church to say hi to me and I was sooo happy to hear about her experiences, such as 1) Reactivating a girl in her high school class AND getting her to go to EFY with her 2) Going to EFY 3) She has taken her brothers to church and activities 4) She passed me a reference of a friend in the SAME colony or subdivision where I live right now. Also I have been able to hear from other converts that are going to EFY which I think is going to help them so much to develop and grow their testimonies. There is Joanna in Rio Bravo going, and Vennessa Janeth's friend. Etmer from my current ward. And Valeria from Ward Reynosa who wrote me excited about going to her first EFY. So i have been high on happiness for the progress that these incredible people have been making :D so happy.

By the way, on the mission's face book page there is a new video that you can look up that Elder Rodriguez made (my companion in Juarez) where he interviews a lot of people from Juarez about the missionary work and such. There you can see Elder Tilton, Vannessa and her mom, Bishop Valentìn, and Mercedes I believe. The video was awesome!

We move onward this week. There is much work to do, and goals to accomplish! Love to all!

Elder Smith 
I found aquafina water in a store here for the FIRST time in my whole mission. i was suprised to see they changed their design..but it tasted goood haha

Monday, July 11, 2016

4th of July and say goodbye to the Mendez family

4th of July with converts
The week started with Monday. Monday I was in Rio Bravo still. And we had (like I believe I mentioned last week) a get together with the American elders (for a day we called each other patriots ;D) for a Bar-B-Q type thing. We bought a bunch of meat and borrowed a grill from the church and some dishes from a kind willing sister. 

And Elder Funk had his speaker which is a beast that transmits sound excellently. We used it to listen to America the Beautiful, the national anthem, and other favorites. I changed into a shirt that I bought in a flea market in Juarez for a buck. 
And I used the most American tie that I had. We said the pledge of allegiance to my shirt haha and my favorite moment was us getting crazy singing the song "I'm Proud to be an American." How proud I am to be one! And how privileged I am to live in the promised land! I couldn't be more content. 
After that I had Tuesday to say goodbye to the Mendez family and it made me SO happy. Not to leave of course but I got there and Joanna (the 16 year old) had on a necklace of the Young Women and her scriptures together with her personal progress book out and I was so blown away to see their progress. They seemed different, more happy, and it made me satisfied to know that they had made a life changing decision. Also, side note, Joanna's two brothers have been going to church and are getting baptized next week. The older brother, Jesus - I knew he was an excellent young man. the younger was a little unreceptive but he obviously has changed his mind! :D 

Now I am in Reynosa once again. Here we have one progressing investigator. 
My companion, Elder Adams, is the little brother of Tessa Arias from my Woodlands ward haha.  It was crazy!  We were going through his family pictures and I knew Brother and Sister Arias and I was like whaaat? Mind blown and such haha.  They were always so nice to me too.  Really great people. Anyway, so here there are some wonderful convert families that like the missionaries. 
So I have a big motive to add to the good convert families already here in the ward. I have no complaint! I expect us to have exciting news by next week, in finding a new family. that is our new focus as a mission. Families families families. More than ever. So i am in agreement...we are going to change the mentality :D 
Love to all have a greast week!

Elder Smith

Monday, July 4, 2016

TRANSFER - I imagine will be my last area Wednesday... I will be going to the area Aeropuerto - translated to Airport

Katy after church
This week was also great! We have been having just so much fun being together - Elder Johnson and Elder Matheny and I. But as they say, all great things must come to an end. And with the transfers, I will be going to what I imagine will be my last area Wednesday. I will be going to the area Aeropuerto - translated to Airport, because it is super close to the airport. I wonder how it will feel seeing tons of airplanes take off all day, haha.

I already know Aeuerpuerto. It was in my zone when i was in Juarez.  It is actually right beside Juarez. My new companion will be Elder Adams, and I will live with two Elder Lopezes as well, haha. I am super excited. 

As far as the week, we went to some baptisms of other elders. I got to interview an investigator named Felipa who is a great person. I enjoyed conversing with her. She has been through a lot of trials in her life, but the Church has helped her a lot  to feel better about things and her life in general.

We found a chosen sister whose name is Katy. She has been the best. She understands and believes everything we have taught. She has been a rockstar during lessons too, always answering the questions perfectly and we have just been blown away by her progress. When we invited her to church and she said yes, we said we could pass by and get her for services. She responded that she had a car and prefered to drive to church than walk haha. Then she asked us if we wanted a ride to church and we said "sure". So Sunday we went together. I am suuuper sad to be leaving her here in Rio Bravo but she will be baptized very soon I have no doubt.

The church services were also incredible. The new mission President came with his wife and counselor. 
Me with the new misión president..there is a slight height difference...
They gave great talks. The main message was that the branch should be focused on getting the Young Men to serve missions..and that will make the branches and district grow to become a stake. Man, the new President has so much excitement, it is contagious. I love being around him. His wife is like President Morales though haha she is super serious. I got a shoutout in President Regalados' talk too :D he said he liked being in Rio Bravo because all were like spiritual giants. Then he made a comment about how he didn't grow as a young man, but that spiritually he feels as tall as Elder Smith. Haha it was humourous :D
 my ex comps
My official return date is the 19th of August! But that still seems like a long way away haha so we are going to get to work starting Wednesday! 
saying goodbye to a family..

Elder Smith
i love splash pads haha i hadnt seen one in Mexico

Monday, June 27, 2016

TRANSFER and new companion... Elder Johnson from my home town blocks from my house. President Morales finishes.

President and Sister Morales...
the first time i have seen a picture with prez smiling showing teeth in a photo.
 i think he is happy to be taking a rest hahaha
This week...let us begin with Monday. We, in Rio Bravo, have some pretty great Mondays. All the 24 missionaries get together at like a public park place where there is a much much bigger cement court to play soccer on. And it is so much fun because you actually can like run more than 10 yards before having to stop. Also we enjoyed writing emails in a new cyber-place which was much faster. And Elder Wyatt bought pizza for everyone at night time. 
Picture taken at the american table...wait one guy there is Canadian :-)
This week we were preparing some people for baptism. And we had a visit from the President Wednesday. He basically talked to us about what Rio Bravo needs and such. He also counseled us to do everything correctly, to not take any shortcuts. After that, Thursday night, we got the call for the transfers. Now I did not want to transfer out because we had prepared the baptisms for after the church services Sunday. And I knew that if I got transferred that would mean missing the baptisms. 
With Elder Wyatt and Funk (the goodbye)

So super nervous I pick up the phone...and they tell me that.... I... would... be.... transferred... to... the... Roma hahahahaha.  The Goma means like far away. So I was like...did I get transferred or what? Because what he told me translates to a joke basically. 
With elder Hernandez who i trained and
was with for 4 months last year.
The guy looks way different with his new glasses 
Annnnnd they laugh and tell me no but really you have a transfer., and I was like whaaaaat i have 3 weeks in Condesa whhhhy? And they tell me that I would be changed to the Rio Bravo Zone, the only other zone here in Rio Bravo, and literally like where we live is 10 minutes walking from the house of the other zone. 
Elder Funez and Hernandez
Two past companions and both from honduras.
We call honduranan people here catrachos,
it is like gringo for americans. So i call them my catrachos
AND they told me that I was going to be in a trio with Elder Johnson who is basically my neighbor in Lehi or American fork who knows but he lives behind the Costco and also i was to be with Elder Matheny, from my MTC district. After hearing that, and realizing that I wouldn't miss the baptisms AND hearing that I would be with thiose two guys, I was suuuuper pumped. Like i think this is the only transfer I have been 100% excited for. Matheny and Johnson are like some of my best friends on the mission these past few days have been a blast. 
Elder moreno..good friend in the mission that goes home tomorrow
Friday to have the goodbye get together for the president we all went to Reynosa, everybody which was crazy to see people i hadn't seen for months. 
Elder Lopez an old comapnion that is one of my fav comps
Plus I got to say goodbye to some missionaries going home soon. Pres. Morales talked to us first and that was great.  
Elder Tilton the famous MTC companion haha
And then we went to this pizza place which is like a super sized Cici's hut. We were like 180 people in total.  It.was.packed hahaha. It was so cool.  I had never seen a line that long and I am positive that the restaurant hadn't seen anything like it either. It was great to be able to be with all the missionaries. I have gotten really close with many of them.
My new comps Elder Johnson and Elder Matheney!
Sunday we head on over to Condesa and I had the privilenge of doing a couple of ordinances. 
with a family from Condesa
We all three had to be in the water for Esmeralda, the sister in the wheelchair. 
The Medez family
I can't remember what her disease is called but she is such a sweet spirit. Her disability is mainly physical, because she understood all the lessons and had a true desire to do the right thing and also to be baptized. It took three of us to baptize her.  
Baptism of Norma and the Mendez family.
That is why Elder Forteleza is in white as well.  He helped us out to baptize her. The Mendez family consists of Sister Mendez (mom), Esmeralda (daughter) and Joanna (granddaughter).  They are so much fun to teach they always listen so well and Sister Mendez makes the funniest jokes.  She is hilarious. 
Elder Funez got fuzzed out for the fault of the camera man :/
Norma is the other sister.  She knows so much; it is quite impressive. She will progress rapidly, I believe.
Post baptismal selfies with
Elder Wyatt and Elder Forteleza(my replacement)
So Elder Johnson goes home in like a week but we will enjoy him while we have him. He is just with us until his time arrives. My new area, I do not know, and the three of us are opening this area so we are lost always haha but working hard. 
President Morales finished this Thursday, it is going to be interesting without him. I wonder how the new president is going to meet us. We will find out soon i suppose. 

Our new house is great! We are 8 in the house so we are a bit crowded but I like living with a lot rather than with only my comp. it is more fun that way.  

My (un)offical return date issssssss drumroll the 19th of August!! But...always a but right..the other Elder Smith is going to the U of U and he has like a freshman orientation that day so the president is trying to send us home the 17th of August. We will know soon :D Love you all!

Elder Smith