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