Monday, April 25, 2016

Frida is my hero. She learns faster than literally anyone I have met in Mexico.

This week was quite eventful. Tuesday we started off in the morning doing service for a sister Ziola that always helps us out with cutting our hair and food. We shoveled and moved like 3 large mounds of earth in wheelbarrows to the back of her house to raise the level of the earth so it stopped flooding. It was great to work actually work. I hadn't done physical labor like that in so long. It reminded me of work from before the mission.
Later that night we went with the family of Frida, a new investigator. We had to go at 8:00 pm because Frida and her mom work until late. And they live far away, but it was worth it. We had to wait for the bus a little before, but we had no idea which bus to take because there were 3 different buses to go to that part of the city. We just knew it had to be one of the three. So the first one that passes by we wave down, and it doesn't stop. It had people and space for us and it didn't stop, which never happens because they obviously want all the passengers (aka money) they can get. So it flies by and my companion and I are like - what?  Then a thought came to me that maybe we weren't suppose to take that bus and for that reason it didn't stop. Another bus passes by 10 minutes later and we get on. We get on and see that on the bus is the mom of Frida, who is on her way to her house. After arriving we came to realize that we had no idea where their house was at, nor how to arrive. So with her mom's help, we arrive and teach about the Restoration. Not all of it is accepted at first, but she did accept the invitation to read and pray.   
We left feeling good but without a baptismal date. Thursday we change the plan to teach just Frida in the church building to have a better influence of the Spirit. We invited a member her age..and taught them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Frida understood super well and had read and prayed but hadn't felt anything. The lesson went well and a testimony of the member helped us out a ton. While mediatating and praying about how to help our investiators my companion and I felt the same thing. Why hadn't we invited Frida to be baptized during that lesson in the church? After more planning we decided to call her and talk. We called her Friday and asked her if she had read in the Book of Mormon, and she had.  And she had prayed and felt that what we had shared was true. Over the phone we asked her if she wanted to be baptized Sunday night. To my joy, and truth be told surprise, she said yes instantly! We got pumped and prepared the service.  We went over some things with her and she expressed to us some special experiences that she felt and had. She also expresed how badly she wants to serve as a missionary after a year of being a member. I was blown away.  It was like a 360 degree change and the best part was, we literally didn't have to do anything. God made everything possible and all we had to do was invite. The experience and baptismal service was excellent. And her mom made cake that was to die for afterward. Frida is my hero. She learns faster than literally anyone i have met in Mexico.

Other than that, we did another service project carrying dried cement and rocks to the second story of a member's house. I have learned here that I miss normal clothes!

Love to all and as we start May, let's all commit ourselves to be more worthy and pure individuals! Have an excellent week!

Elder Smith

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sister Mercedes baptism

The week started out great! We first visited Sister Mercedes to see how she had done in the weekend not drinking coffee and such. And she had kept it up! And her head pain hadn't come back and she was on day 5 or 6 with not drinking any coffee. So we talked to her about her baptism being for Saturday..and she said that she was ready and wanted to do it! It was great! 
So Friday we scheduled the baptism after an activity for the Relief Society, where they were going to make banana pie. In the activity though, Mercedes couldn't participate because she is allergic to wheat..not just eating it but being close to it, too. She cooks with corn mainly for that reason. For the sacrament she has to eat a different bread. The activity ends, and the service was beautiful. I had the pleasure of preforming the ordinance, although I prefer that members do it.  The sister only knows of other sisters from the Relief Society.  The water was quite cold, but we got it done. The church maintenance has put new locks on the font doors in almost all the city. and we had a fun time trying to clean and fill the font walking and balancing on only the handrails haha. The confirmation was also interesting. I was seated by the piano in the front and the sister hadn't arrived.  I was worried and then more worried because the time came and the bishop announced that the sister was going to get confirmed. And I was about to stand up to tell him she hadn't arrived when she passed by me and tapped my shoulder to help with the confirmation. So that was that! Also, we ate dinner in her house and found out that she used to work in a chicken slaughter house place where they paid her for every chicken that she ''prepared.'' She said they searched more efficient ways to process the chicken faster right..and that she pumped out like 300 chickens daily!

Other than that..we had a miracle in the Church - a new investigator that arrived in high heels and has to measure like 6 foot 3 inches tall.  It is crazy because I haven't met someone, a woman I mean, that tall here in Mexico!

Love to all! Thanks for your gifts and for your prayers! We certainly feel them as i hope you feel mine :D

Elder Smith

Monday, April 11, 2016

A lesson of forgiveness...

We started the week in the leadership council. The best part of those meetings is that President takes us to this pizza place that is a buffet right, like a slightly improved Cici's, and we go to work (eat) as missionaries. The workers already know what's going down when we walk through the door. President usually only takes us when we have a good month.  In march we were able to have 174 converts as a mission!  It was a fabulous month. And the President just wants us to reach 200 before he finishes his service in June.

After that, we got to work trying to find new investigators, an eternal chore as a missionary. We did service for Janet's mom in her house. That was fun. Her mom still doesn't want to commit to anything though :/
So last Monday we were playing soccer in the church, and I put our phone and keys on the side right, and Arnulfo stole the keys. Let me explain to you who Arnulfo is...
He is like 50 or 60 something and is homeless. He is homeless and wants nothing, I have come to realize, because he prefers to live that way. He will not work nor exert an ounce of effort. But he does ask - everyone in the church. He has been coming to church since like November and the missionaries in that time baptized him. And ANY time the church is opened, he goes in just to be indoors and not bored. And he then proceeds to ask all of us for money or food or whatever. 
Now, the bishop had him on a welfare program but the man doesn't allow himself to do anything besides beg for things. So he was removed from the list and for months I have known him and for months he daily asks me the same thing. '''Brother! Take the sandwich from your backpack and give it to me!''  Literally the same exact.phrase everyday. After 3 months I started to get a little tired of it. So I got impatient and started to tell him tings like '''Go work or do something!'' and such things. Or '''I have not ever had food to give why do you keep asking me?'' So that is valuable information for this story. So I see that Arnulfo leaves the church by himself, something that never happens because we always have to tell him to please leave before locking up the church. And I didn't think anything of it, but as he passed on the other side of the fence, he looked at me with a look of guilt, or revenge, I don't know.

Time goes by and I realize my keys are nowhere. We are looking and they are gone. I start to think the only possibilty is that Arnulfo took them. Which is bad because they are the keys to our house, and the church which has computers. The bishop and I start to get scared, but there is nothing we can do. So we enter our house through a window on the second floor and get ready for bed. Two days later after a meeting, I am alone with another elder, and Arnulfo walks in.  He had disappeared from the colony for 2 days and he appeared and we had purposely left the door open in case he was around. So I act fast and tell him to come in and sit down. Then I basically bribed him. I described  the food that I was willing to give him, if he would give the keys to me. He asked me what keys, what keys?  
But I insisted, and he asked me more about the food. I did my best to sell the offer annnnnd he pulled the keys out of his pocket. And handed them to me. This moment, with me having the keys, I wanted to say and do a lot of things, most of all I wanted to run him out of the church because I was super stressed about the keys. But I had also thought about how I had recently treated the old man and the thought came to me that this was a lesson of forgiveness- of giving it. So I went to the house, made some food and told Arnulfo to repent and that if he ever did something like this again, the bishop was going to call the police. He of course denied stealing. It is also notable that he tried to steal Bibles and other books from the church that same day, to sell for 10 pesos to a tianguis (Mexican garage sale). but the bishop knows everything and has it all under control. I learned a very valuable lesson through it all. Also, it is noteworthy that we were praying and begging that somehow we could get those keys back. It was hard to worry about whether the church was going to get robbed those days, or our house!

We had a good week with Mercedes, she is more excited about baptism. I am MAD over coffee because it is making life hard. There are a lot of investigators in the zone that that is their ONLY challenge and they can't leave it. Like they aren't even addicted very much, but they use it as a pretext. I understand more and more why the Lord requires us to make simple sacrifices like not drinking coffee to recieve the blessings of Baptism and the Holy Ghost. But, we keep moving on! Love to all!

Elder Smith

Monday, April 4, 2016

Well, this week was fabulous! A lot of great things happened.

First, I went to another area Tuesday and stayed the night with the elders in the Ward Airport, which i knew i was going to regret because the last time I went I got sick for a week. Well, again their house was dirty, and I can't talk right now for my throat haha. But, I was able to meet some great people and help the elders' investigators commit themselves to keeping commitments and such. Tuesday in the night time my companion called me from our area and reported that transfers had unexpectantly arrived. Elder Alvarado was changed to another ward here in Reynosa, and I stayed here in Juarez. All the members were shocked about that transfer with the little time he had.  My new companion is Elder Rodriguez, from the state of Mexico, by the city of Mexico. Now every elder is good, and i hate making presumptions from just one week.  But I love this guy. He is just too good of a missionary honestly. He and I are going to have a lot of success, I am sure.

So Elder Alvarado stays for the baptism of Janet, and Elder Rodriguez was already with us. This baptism was special because Janet is an amazing person. She is super intelligent for her age, 16. She had a friend that got baptized in December from another ward.  We started to teach her, and she studied like it was for school haha. She answered the pamplet questions, read everything we gave her, and for that reason she received a fast answer. She loves church, and was ready for baptism. Sadly, her family isn't the greatest of people. Her aunts and uncles basically bullied her about getting close to the Church, and she stood up and said ''I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints'' i was blown away.  

Not just because this was before (she wasn't a member quite yet) but because of her courage and faith! Apart from that she lives 2 days a week with her mom, 2 with her dad and 3 with her grandmother. Her parents are divorced, but through all these trials she has been such a great example to me that every person has to be willing to act and work for their own personal well being and future. After her baptism, she commented something about EFY (yes they do EFY here) and she is going to go in June! What a blessing it has been and is to be a part of the conversion of this daughter of God!
So Saturday and Sunday we passed the time watching conference. The talks were centered on the Temple and the importance of families. I felt the Spirit indicate to me that the questions i have will be answered as I attend the Temple and live worthily, to recieve the promised guidance and blessings. I especially enjoyed the talk by Elder Christforsen about the impoortance of Fathers and their role. I have been blessed with a father that has fufilled those responsibilities and who has helped me be here on the mission. I can't express the gratitude I have for the example and love that my earthly father has given me. I have never doubted him :)  

Sunday we also baptized a little girl that is the cousin of a member of our ward. The parents were okay with everything, and they came to the service, and Jasmine, her name, is also super great. She is a little shy, but learned all the lessons rapidly. All in all the week was very enjoyable. I truly think both of the new members, especially Janet, will one day make fabulous missionaries if the Lord indicates that He needs their service. And if not, they will be great mothers and future leaders of this the Lord's Church.

Love to all, to my family my friends, and thanks for all your prayers and love and support, and letters. I always read them just sometimes i can't respond quite yet. Adios!

Elder Smith