Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 11, 2014- Hellooooooo Atlixco!

Good afternoon, everyone!

So, I am officailly in Atlixco, Ward Vista Hermosa! And I am absolutely loving it.  :)

My companion is Hermana Traylor. She just finished her training (her "mom" is Hermana Jones, from the MTC!) and she is the cutest. She is from Richmond, Virginia, is 20 years old, and probably THE funniest person I have ever met. I seriously laugh so hard I cry almost every single day. She is super spunky, and really knows who she is, which I love. It's good that we can be completly real with each other, and I know that she's always going to tell me what she thinks, or what I can do better. She definitely misses Hermana Jones a lot... not that I blame her! But I know that we're going to become really good friends. :)

This area... oh my goodness, it's like a night and day difference from Cholula. We live on this giant hill that over looks ALL of Atlixco, and it is so beautiful. And the people are SO nice and SO receptive. We have 5 baptismal dates right now, 3 of which we set on Saturday :) Their names are Raul, Mayra, Samantha, Miriam and Cati. Raul and Mayra have been taking the lessons for a while (their 3 daughters got baptized 2 weeks ago) but...they're not willing to get married or seperated. :/  But we're hoping they'll change their minds soon. The other three are a mother and her two daughters. They also have been listening for a while, but weren't progressing. But we went back this last week, and they had read the Restoration pamphlet, and want to get baptized! But...they didn't go to church yesterday...so hopefully they'll stick with it!

We also have like 1,234,203 other investigators....just kidding, but seriously, Hermana Jones and Traylor were really just going to town. They are amazing! We have to do a lot of visits this week to see who is really interested, which is wonderful, but I'm hoping we'll find some more people that are prepared :) We contacted two people in particular this week that we are 99.9999% will get baptized. Their names are Minerva and Gracy. We contacted them on different days in combis, but we feel SO good about them. Minerva is a Christian, and thinks that the Restoration is really interesting! She's going to pray about it, and we're going to see her again on Wednesday. And Gracy, we contacted as she was leaving the combi with a million bags and two little kids, and we offered to carry her bags to her house for her. We got talking, she invited us in, and told us that about 10 years ago, she listened to missionaries, but after her mom found out, they weren't ever able to visit again. But now, she's really excited to listen to our message again, and I think she is going progress. :) 

I think the thing I have loved most about this week is being able to feel like I'm fufilling my purpose as a missionary. The last few weeks made it a bit more difficult to feel like that. But now, we've been able to teach, find, and invite all the time, and I feel like I'm an instrument in the Lord's hands again. I know that this area will still have its challenges, but I know that my other areas have helped prepare me for what is going to come. There's this quote by Elder Holland that I absolutely love, that has really helped me change my perspective about things like that.  “The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future”  Faith is always pointed towards the future. I know that's true. We can't truly have faith if we don't have hope for a better tomorrow. And really, that's what the Gospel is all about - hope for a better tomorrow. Things aren't easy, but they can always be made better through faith in the Atonement of Christ.  

Thank you for all of you prayers, help and letters! And I hope you all have a fantastic week! LOVE Y'ALL!

Love always,
Hermana Smith

Photos
-My first picture with Hermanita Traylor (Why are all of my American companions SOO much taller than me?!)
- Hermana Jones :)
- Us sitting in the park :)




August 4, 2014- Last Day in Ameyal!

Well, it's official: We definitely have transfers tomorrow! It will be exciting to see where we go next!

This week was good and also pretty different! No worries, we didn't end up in a different area for 1/2 the week, but Hermana Slack ended up staying with us for 3 days! Her companion has been having some health problems and hasn't been able to work very much, so President put her with us for a few days so she could continue her training. It was super fun being with her :) 

Something super awesome that happened this week is that Hermano Juan received the Aaronic Priesthood! We have been working super hard with their family since I got here, and Hermana Rookstool started working with them when SHE got here 4 1/2 Months ago. When they first started visiting, Juan didn't even want to talk or look at them! He wanted absolutely nothing to do with the church after they stopped attending several years ago, back when all of their daughters were teenagers. But we have been able to see him grow in so many ways. Yesterday, they were able to start taking the sacrament again, and he received the Priesthood :) Next week, he will bless the sacrament for the first time :) Yesterday, we talked to him, and he told us that they "have never been better" and that every day they "learn and change more". I know that the Lord can change peoples hearts, even the ones who seem impossible. :)

This week,I was able to do a lot of reflecting about the last 6 weeks. Even though they stretched me in ways that I didn't think possible, they made it so I had more room to grow. My testimony has been strengthened every single day, and for that, I am grateful. I'm definitely never going to forget Ameyal 2! Even though we didn't see any baptisms, we only ended up with one investigator, had unexpected trials and we walked a lot... it was worth it. And I know that it all comes down to the effort we put in. There is a quote that I really like, from Sister Linda S. Reeves, which says, "When all is said and done, what will matter to our Heavenly Father will be how well we have kept our covenants and how much we have tried to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ." And that's what we did our best to do, and for that, I can leave this area with peace and gratitud in my heart for how much the Lord blessed us while we were here.

I love all of you so much! And I hope you all have a great week!!! :) 

Love Always,
Hermana Smith

Photos: 
- Hna Rookstool and I with our sticks...we walked with them everywhere!
- Sunrise from our house
- The GIANT NASTY beetle that was in our house!!!!!!!!










July 28, 2014- I'm not really sure how to start this... but Week 5 in Ameyal!

Hey!

This week was a crazy one! But really all that I can say is that we spent half the week in Ameyal and the other half with the sister leaders in Cholula. We had a small problem come up in our area, and President thought it would be best to get us out of the area for a few days. We will be going back today for wekk 6, but we know for sure that we will both be having transfers next week. It was a really good experience though - to be with Hermanas Rangel and Villa here in Cholula. We had quite a few good experiences, and more than anything, it helped us to get back our enthusiasm for the work. 

One experience happened Friday night. We spent most of the time contacting for the hermanas as they went to appointments. That night, we saw a woman in the park, watching her kids ride their bikes around. We introduced ourselves, asked if we could talk with her and her family one day in their home, and she surprised us by saying "Well, I've got time now, if you'd like!" Her name was Irma and it was an amazing experience. We asked her about her beliefs, and she started to tell us about how her 15 year old son refuses to believe in ANYTHING, and how it got worse when her dad passed away last week, and when 3 other relatives of hers passed away about a month ago. So, obviously, we started to talk about the plan of salvation, and when we told her that we believe in a life after this, where we can be together as families, she just started to cry. The Spirit was so sweet in that moment, as she asked me again, "Is there really a life after this, and I can be with everyone I love?" We told her that yes, as we do the things that God has commanded us to do. She was so excited. We asked when we could visit, but...of course, her husband is also athiest like her son, and won't let her listen to anyone about religion. But she asked us to give her ALL of the pamphlets that we have and a Book of Mormon that she can read when he isn't there, haha. This experience helped us a lot to know that there are prepared people everywhere...we just have to find them. And I really hope that one day, her husband's heart will be softened, and she can investigate the church more. 

We were also able to attend a baptism on Saturday :) Those are always wonderful. 

Then last night, a family that was baptized two weeks ago asked us to come to a family home evening with them. When the four of us got there, the father asked if we could just have a testimony meeting, and share spiritual experiences. It was so wonderful. When Salvador asked me to share a spiritual experience, one came to my mind that I had forgotten about, something that had happened shortly before I received my call. As I talked about it, I was able to realize just how much that experience, the one I had forgotten about, really changed me in that moment, and how it has helped me ever since. It was a really great hour that we all shared together, one that I think we all really needed. 

All in all, I am quite sad that things aren't going the way that we had hoped here in Ameyal. But, I know that there is a purpose to everything, and I hope that in this next week, we can do the best we can to bring people unto Christ. This morning, I was reading in 2 Nephi 28, and I came upon verse 30, which says, "For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts and lend an ear to my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom" The Lord is teaching us, little by little. And we're learning, little by little. And the people in Ameyal are preparing...little by little.

Thank you for everything! I love you all so much! Have a fantastic week!

Love always,
Hermana Smith 

July 21, 2014- Week 4 in Ameyal!

Good Afternoon!

First thing first, I can't believe I completed 8 MONTHS in the mission yesterday! WHAAAAT?!?!?! Haha

So...this week was another patience-developer! We are still in the process of finding... but the good news is that it has hardly rained at all this week! So we've been able to spend a lot more time out and looking and contacting in the streets! I know the Lord is definitely teaching us some things here, so I'm grateful for every moment. :) 

I guess I should tell you about the dogs...

So two weeks ago, we were attacked 3 different times in one day by large groups of dogs - we're talking like 6 dogs or more here. After the 3rd time and bursting into tears on the side of the road, we finally called President and asked him what more we could do. We were already carrying around giant sticks and picking up rocks when they came running, but none of that fazes them. He told us to go buy super-duty pepper spray! He's a funny one, President Stellmon :) But we did it! It did help us feel better...until Wednesday, when we actually had to use it. :/ Let's just say that the dogs here are SUPER determined and really want to eat sister missionaries. That's what we think anyway. Good news is that...we only have 2 more weeks in the transfer and I'll be super surprised if President keeps us here for more... so we just have to get through the next two weeks alive and then we're good! Please pray for us! :)

This week, we had one pretty awesome lesson :) Hermana Rookstool and her first companion helped to reactivate a couple here in the ward. Their names are Rita and Juan and they are super great :) The thing is... their four married daughters are all inactive, and they want to help them get to church again. This week, we went to visit Rita and for the first time, all four of the daughters (and all their kids) were there! And we happened to prepare a lesson about keeping the Sabbath Day Holy :) But it was really cool because we could tell that the Spirit got them all thinking hard about why they need to go to church. It's hard because none of their husbands are members...but we can tell that now, they really want to go. We're hoping to hear some good news from Rita about them in the next coming weeks :)

Funny story for the week! So on Wednesday, our district leader asked me to teach the class at the district meeting, about teaching people, not lessons. I prepared this super awesome object lesson that involved fruit. The fruits represented different people and their receptiveness to the Gospel. :) Anyway, so the point was that they were trying to break the different fruits with just their hands. (I had a cherry, a banana and an apple). The first two were easy, but the apple is kinda hard, obviously. :P (But I had a knife ready to cut it, which would have represented things like inspired questions, listening, etc.) Anywho...Elder Hafan, an Elder in our district, destroyed my object lesson - literally. He got up, grabbed the apple, said "Well, I like apples!", put it on the desk...then started smashing it to bits with his fist! I don't know how long I just stood there in shock. (Looks like instead of helping the hard-hearted to soften their hearts...we can just force it out of them?) It was pretty funny though :) Not what I had hoped, but we all got a good laugh out of it.

Well, that's really all for this week :P Not much happened...but hopefully next Monday will be a bit better! I love you all so much, and I hope y'all have a great week!!!! 

Love always,
Hermana Smith

Pictures:
- Beautiful Puebla/Cholula!
- The Volcanos :) The one of the left is Popo - the one that is actually active :P Our area is actually pretty close to it...I'll try to get a better picture this week :)
- Hermana Rookstool and I :)

Quote of the Week: 

"There is no age barrier when it comes to Christlike service. … As we look beyond our differences in age, culture, and circumstance to nurture and serve one another, we will be filled with the pure love of Christ and the inspiration which leads us to know when and whom to serve."
- Bonnie L. Oscarson, YW General President




July 14, 2014- Week 3 in Ameyal!

Hello!

We managed to contact 40 PEOPLE in the street this week! May not seem like many...but it really is here! We were so happy that the Lord put that many people in our path! The hard part is that only 1 family said yes out of all of the people we talked to...but it's a family of 8! And 3 of the kids are old enough to be baptized! We have an appointment with them tonight at 7, so PLEASE send some quick prayers our way so that they can accept to learn more! The children are absolutely adorable... there are 3 boys and 3 girls, just like my family :) Every time we pass by their house, they run out, yelling "Hermanas! Hermanas!" We know that if it wasn't for them, the parents probably wouldn't even give us a second glance. But the kids want us to visit so badly, that they said we could :) Thank goodness for little kids!

This week, we also had an amazing zone conference, definitely the best one that I've been to since I started my mission! The Spirit was just so strong...and I left feeling SO motivated. I know that was definitely one of the reasons why we were able to do so much more this week - we realized that we needed to have more faith. I'm not going to lie...I'm pretty sure that this week was the hardest week of my mission so far. But I know that the Lord isn't going to abandon us. I know that everything is going to work out. 

One part that I loved about the conference was when we talked about commitments. In order to have a commitment, there has to be a what, how and why. And obviously, the why is the most important part. We talked a lot about our own personal desires as missionaries - why we committed to come out here, why we contact people on the street, why we decide to be obedient, etc. And as I thought about it...I realized that it is, and should be, because we love the Lord, and we love our fellow brother and sisters. To go along with that, I have started studying the New Testament this week, and I have learned a lot about Jesus Christ and His disciples.

Sometimes, I feel like it's impossible to change. Sometimes I feel like I'm just stuck in my way of living, unable to change routines, change my thoughts, and especially change my desires. But something that I have learned from studying and applying the Atonement is that Christ can change ANYONE. He took a group of fishermen and made them into apostles and some of the greatest missionaries this world will ever see. He turned them into His representatives and His servants. He changed their desires and their whole outlook on life. And I know that we can do the same for us. If we aren't doing things for the right reasons, we can change. If we find others who have lived their whole lives contrary to the commandments of God, I know that He can change them. Christ's love and influence is infinite and perfect. It can do amazing things to the hearts of God's children, members and non-members alike. 

“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword” to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live."
-Jeffrey R. Holland-

...If you know someone that maybe isn't living the Gospel, or doesn't know about the Gospel...please do them the favor and share something with them this week. It may not be easy. It may not be comfortable. But I know that it will make even a small difference in their lives. We are disciples of Jesus Christ, and I know that He can give us the courage and words if all we do is ask for His help. We are His disciples, and He can make us capable. So that's my little challenge for this week :) 

Also, I am SO grateful for my companion. This week was hard for both of us...but we have been able to keep each other happy and positive. I know that if she wasn't as amazing as she is, this would sure be a lot harder! :) 

All in all, Ameyal is an adventure. But it's one that I love :) Thank you for all of your prayers, and I love all of you so much! Have a great week!

Love always,
Hermana Smith

PS - Congrats to my brother and sister in law...I'm an aunt again! :) 
PSS - Waffles with Nutella. I love American food. :) 


July 7, 2014- Ameyal: Week #2!



Guys. This week went by SOOOO fast! Ahhh!

So, it was another crazy week here in Ameyal. Tuesday and Wednesday...Hermana Rookstool was sick :( It was so sad. I hope we don't have too many more problems with sicknesses... I feel like every single transfer, there is something though!! But it was ok, because we were able to study a lot more Spanish and learn more about each other. And we figured out that we have a LOT in common. It really helped us to grow closer together. 

Then on Thursday... we met our new Mission President!!!! President Stellmon and his wife, Hermana Stellmon :) To say the least...they are so great! I love them already! I'll tell a little bit about them so y'all can get to know them too :) President Stellmon and Hermana Stellmon were friends all growing up, because their families were friends. They started dating in high school, he went on his mission to Boliva, she wrote him the whole time and they got engaged the day after he came home!!! So crazy right?!?! They are from Idaho (not sure what part) and have (I think) 6 kids. :) But they are super awesome. They are both super funny and very humble. I know that they're going to do great things for the mission :) 

On Friday/part of Saturday, we had intercambios with the sister training leaders here in Cholula. I ended up going to the city of Cholula with Hermana Rangel, who is great :) Oh, Happy 4th of July! I almost forgot about it on Friday, but weirdly enough, Hermana Rangel kept reminding me. :P So, we bought Tacos Arabes to celebrate and I played the Star Spangled Banner ON THE FLUTE!!!! Because Hermana Rangel brought her's with her to the mission!!!  I'm not gonna lie, it sounded awful after not having played for 7 months, but it was still wonderful :) 

But the best part was the things I learned with Hermana Rangel. We talked a lot about the area I'm in...and we talked a lot about what it means to be a successful missionary. And I realized that...in a very short amount of time, I'm going to be coming back home to all of you. And I don't want to leave with any regrets. And so...even though we still don't have people to teach...I'm ok. Because I know that I'm doing everything I can do to be the servant God needs me to be at this time. This really is a beautiful opportunity that I have right now - to take an area that has nothing, and do everything we can to transform it into a "field that is ready to harvest". Right now...we are just gospel seed planters. But we are going to be the best gospel seed planters Mexico has ever seen, haha! I really am grateful for this area. I'm grateful for my companion and her faith and diligence. And I'm especially grateful for the testimony that I have about this church and gospel. I finished the Book of Mormon this week, in Spanish. And it was an experience that is going to be in my heart forever. I know for a surety that the Book of Mormon is true, and that my Savior lives. There is nothing in this world that can take that testimony away from me. :)

I love all of you so much! And I hope you all have a great week! You're always in my prayers :)

Love always,
Hermana Smith

PS - so the pictures. The two other sisters are Hermanas Prieto and Slack :) They are the other sisters in serving in Ameyal. And the others...are from last monday and today! We ate banana splits...and then we had to do it again for week 2! It's becoming an addiction!!!!! D: So sorry if I come home looking like a bowling ball. We can blame it on Cholula!




June 30, 2014- Welcome to Cholula!

Hey everyone!

Well, I'm going to start this out with a few "fun" facts about my new area...haha.

Zona Cholula - Barrio Ameyal
  • We live in the middle of a giant mountain farm. Everyone here either raises animals, grows corn or makes bricks.
  • It rains every day. I'll tell my fun story a bit later :)
  • Because it rains every day, it is SUPER green...and also SUPER DUPER muddy. I kinda feel like I'm camping.
  • This ward was the first ward here in the state of PUEBLA. It's a blessing...and kind of a curse.
  • The pigs, goats and cows that live across the street from our house snore really loud at night.
  • Around 6.00 every morning, the drunk man downstairs starts making up songs. 
  • The dogs here are vicious. And super scary. I'll tell about that fun little story too.
  • Our area is HUGE. We have 6 little pueblitos in our area that are all super spread out...and have I mentioned that no one lives here??
  • It's so cold here. The first 2 days I really thought I was going to freeze to death. They say it never snows, but I'm not too sure...
  • My comp is amazing! Her name is Hermana Rookstool (and she's American if you can't tell, haha!) She's from American Fork, and she just finished her training. Thank goodness she trained here though, or we would be super lost all the time!
  • We have 0 Baptismal Dates, 0 Progressing Investigators, 0 Other Investigators and 0 People that want to listen
Well...what do y'all think? :)

I'll start from the beginning. Cambios. On Tuesday, we went to Puebla, found out President Reeves would be leaving 2 DAYS after, and I got my new companion. :) She's super cute and funny. She's 19, goes to BYU too (whoo!) and has 3 months here in the field. We hitched a ride with our district to Cholula (where I thought our area was...) and another memeber picked us up. and then we started driving. and driving. Further and further into the mountains. And then we took this little tiny dirt road and then we got to our house. I like the house, it's really colorful and cute. We then went to ward council...and no one talked to us. they didn't ask us anything about how the work was going and it was kinda weird. 

Then Wednesday, we had our district meeting - 6 hermanas and 2 elders :) then after that...we started walking. and walking. and walking. My companion knows of 10 less actives in our area (and they've almost reactivated 6 of them) and we don't have anyone to teach. 

And on Friday, we spent 3 hours "contacting" which consisted of walking around for 3 hours without stopping and talking to only 3 people (because there isn't anyone who lives here.) and everytime I see a person, I get SO excited...and then my comp always tells me that they're already a member. -_- It's a little bit like Utah here. 

Saturday was super fun because all of the other days, it only rained during the night. But Saturday was a bit special! We were about 1 miles from our house (and about 2 miles from the nearest person that we could visit.) And then came part of a tropical storm. It started out slowly...and then out of no where came down POURING. And we just started running for our house. We were in the middle of a dirt road and it got a lot more difficult when the water got about 6 inches high. We ran into the house laughing and freaking out because we were soaked, covered in mud, and our scriptures were soaked...but it was definitely an experience to remember :) 

And yesterday, we almost died! We were walking back to our house last night, and we had to go a different way to avoid a group of drunks....but then we ran into a pack of 7 very angry dogs. we picked up some rocks, which usually does the trick and scares them off, but these ones decided that wasn't scary enough, and started running towards us! we started running in the other direction until they stopped following, but really we were stuck. we spent a coulple minutes trying to decided which route would be worse, when a young man came up to us, and offered to help us get pass the dogs. He told us that as soon as we could just to start running so we started toward them again, and when they went to attack the man, we just took off running, yelling "gracias!" behind us! When we got to the bottom of the hill we looked back, the young man was walking away, so at least he's ok and didn't die for our sake!

All in all...there's a lot of work to do here. And the Lord definitely put us here for a reason, and we're going to figure it out! We decided that no matter what happens, we're still going to be 100% obedient and give the Lord everything we have. Hermana Rookstool shared a quote with me this morning from Elder Perry's talk this conference. He said: "Strong, proactive obedience is anything but weak or passive. It is the means by which we declare our faith in God and qualify ourselves to receive the powers of heaven. Obedience is a choice. It is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God’s unlimited wisdom and omnipotence. According to the lesson my grandfather gave to me, it is a choice to sense the spiritual bit in our mouths and follow the driver’s lead." I know that through our constant obedience and faith, we're going to see the influence of heaven in this area and in our lives. 

Thank you for all of your love and prayers :) You all are in my hearts, and I hope you have a great week this week!! I LOVE YOU!!!

Love always,
Hermana Smith




June 23, 3014- Last Week in Tehuacan

Hey :)

Well, as y'all read in the subject line...week 24 in Tehuacan was my last week here. Tomorrow, we'll be heading to Puebla, and we'll see where I go next! Our new mission president is also coming this Thursday...I think that they officially take over July 10, but it'll be good getting to know them these next few weeks (and year!) 

The highlight of this week was definitely Rosita's baptism!! It was a bit complicated because she's 75: She had to sit in a chair, Elder Pendleton tried to baptize her 2 times, then we decided that Elder Ramirez needed to jump in there too to help, and the 3rd time, it was good :) Thank goodness we thought to bring the other baptismal suit! But it was absolutely beautiful. And she was just smiling and smiling as she left the baptismal font. It was such a great moment :)

This week, we have also been teaching Marina's aunt and cousins. They're pretty great :) I know that they're going to be baptized, and I hope that I get to hear about it soon! It's been really cool to see how involved Marina wants to be involved in the teaching! During one of the lessons, her aunt asked us why we don't drink coffee, and Marina just started talking about the Word of Wisdom - how it's a commandment, and not good for our bodies, etc. It was awesome! She has been super involved in all of the ward activities, Karla and Daniel love YW and the Primary, and even the baby is more happy at church :) It's been great seeing this change in her and her family.

There's a part of this month's ensign that I want to share. It's from Elder Holland, from a CES Devotional that he gave in 2012. This week, we had an experience with an investigator, who asked us, "What's the point of trying to be a good person when everyone else is bad, and yet I have more trials than they do?" It's a question we get a lot. And sometimes...I don't know how to answer. Sometimes I have to see all of the things that these people have to go through...and sometimes I wonder myself. But...when I read this message, it brought a lot of peace to my heart. This life is an independent journey. Yes, we need the help and influence of others. Yes, we need to look outside ourselves and help others...but what it comes down to is what we've done, how we've lived the Gospel, how we've represented our Savior during our time here. 

"When He comes, I so want to be caught living the gospel. I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith and doing something good. I want the Savior to say to me: “Jeffrey, I recognize you not by your title but by your life, the way you are trying to live and the standards you are trying to defend. I see the integrity of your heart. I know you have tried to make things better first and foremost by being better yourself and then by declaring my word and defending my gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could.”

He will certainly add: “I know you weren’t always successful with your own sins and with the circumstances of others, but I believe you honestly tried. I believe in your heart you truly loved me.”

I want to have something like that encounter someday as I want nothing else in this mortal life. And I want it for you. I want it for us all. “Israel,Israel, God is calling” - calling us to live the gospel of Jesus Christ personally in small ways and large ways, to reach out to those who may not look or dress or behave quite as we do, and then (where we can) to go beyond that to serve in the widest community we can address."

I love Puebla. I love the people here. I'm hoping that this next part of my journey has been as great as the first :) Thank you for your letters and prayers, and know that I pray for all of you, every day. Have a great week! :) 

Love always,
Hermana Smith



June 16, 2014- Week 23 in Tehuacan



Buenas tardes!

This week was amazing! I feel so much gratitude to my Heavenly Father for putting me here in Tehuacan. The past 6 months have gone by SO fast...I'm not sure where I'll be a week from tomorrow, but I sure do love Tehuacan!

First thing first. Rosita! So...this is kind of a really long, sad, crazy. wonderful story. So...we have been teaching José and Ana - the parents of Jose that got baptized in March. They recently moved into a different apartment building, that has quite a few different residents. ...The crazy sad part is that both of them are now in prision. I'm not sure if I can give details so I'm not going to. But about 10 days ago, we had an appointment with them (we didn't know that they had been arrested). We got to the apartment building and a little women opened the door, and told us that José and Ana weren't living there anymore. We asked where they went, and she invited us in to tell us what happened. To be quite honest, we didn't talk to about the Gospel in these moments...we were feeling a bit devastated. But we told her we would return the next day, which we did. And every day since. 

Rosita is 75 years old. She lives alone, her husband passed away about 5 years ago, and she hasn't been the same since. About 3 years ago...two missionaries contacted her in her store, and she started listening to the lessons. She went to church, loved everything...then the missionaries had transfers and she never heard from them again. For 3 years, she has seen countless missionaries pass by her store, including us, and every time, she got her hopes up, thinking that finally they were going to talk to her again. But they never did.  And then...10 days ago, we came looking for José and Ana, and found her instead. She has a baptismal date for this Sunday :) At one point this week, she told us "I was like a little lost sheep. I'm so glad you two found me again." 

Yesterday, I was thinkin a lot about my time here in Tehuacan. I started reading my journal from since I've been here, and I remembered an experience that I had about 7 weeks ago. Hermana Gomez and I had a hard week, it was Sunday, and we did not feel ok. We were both upset, and taking it out on each other. During Sunday School, we took a moment to go talk it out in one of the rooms in the church. We realized that we weren't really upset with each other...but just with how hard everything had been. At that moment, the missionaries in our ward passed by and noticed that we were a bit upset. They didn't say anything, except offered to give us blessings. And Elder Pendleton said something in the blessing that I had forgotten until yesterday. He said, "There is someone here in Tehuacan still waiting to be found by you to be brought back into God's fold." ...and I think that person he was talking about is Rosita. 

I know, without any doubt, that God is aware of every single one of his children. I know that He loves us, and He knows what we need. I'm grateful for the Priesthood, and I'm grateful to have the Lord's guidance in my life. And more than anything...I'm grateful to have been an instrument in His hands.

This week was also great because...I made brownies!!! hahahahaha!!!

Thank you all for your love and support :) The mission is the best! I love all of you so much, and I hope y'all have a great week!!! :) I know I will! Haha! 

Love always, 
Hermana Smith




June 9, 2014- Week 10235896 in Tehuacán :)



Happy Monday!!

Well, this week was a bit rough for us. I don't really have a reason why...but we walked a lot, prayed a lot, studied a lot, invited a lot...and nobody wanted to listen. Almost all of our appointments fell through AND...I got sick again. But no worries, I'm all good now! Looks like I'm just going to be one of those missionaries that is sick her whole mission! But all in all, I feel good, because I know that we did our part this week. We worked to be 200% obedient, talked to every one we could...and I know that the Lord is just teaching us to be patient and diligent. And I know that when we do our part, He will do His.

This week was a bit hard in another way as well... I'm just going to say that I absolutely love Hermana Gómez. She is an amazing missionary...and this week was hard because we realized just how little time we have left together. Every Thursday, we have weekly planning and at the end, we have to have a "companionship inventory". Haha...and when we tried to talk about "what we need to do to strengthen our relationship as companions", she turned to me and said, "I have a better idea. We need to try to destroy our relationship so we don't completely fall apart when we have transfers!" She is definitely going to do great things, and I am very grateful that we still have (at least) 2 more weeks together. 

Funny story for the week: We were teaching Luz Janett and her family about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. And I started to ask Hugo a question...and I started with "Hugo..."...but I accidentely said it with the "H" (in spanish, the "h" is ALWAYS silent) and it came out like the word "Jugo" - which is juice in spanish. Poor kid. But he said that he's always going to remember the nickname that "Hermana eSmit" gave him, haha. 

Oh! And there is now a new worldwide rule for all the missions...we can no longer have district or zone activities! AND, if we do want to do something on Mondays, we can only do so with sisters and no more than 4 in a group. Kinda crazy, huh?? But it was kinda fun today, because the sister training leaders invited my companion and I to have a picnic with them to celebrate Hermana Seañez' birthday! It was weird with just us 4... but what could we do?! It was still super fun though :)

Sorry...I really don't have much else to say this week... but we know that this next week is going to be better :) I hope all of you are doing AWESOME and that everything is going well. I love you all so much, and have a great week!!

Love always, 
Hermana Smith

Scripture for this week: Omni 1:26

Pictures: Hermana Analuisa gave us a whole bunch of limes...and we made a little family. :)










June 2, 2014- So I'm pretty sure I've been in Tehuacan forever!

Buenas tardes, everyone!

Well, it was another week here in Tehuacan! We were able to find many more investigators this week...which was good because we lost quite a few as well. But the work keeps moving forward right! And I know that the people that didn't accept right now, that one day they will see missionaries again and give it another shot. The gospel is about 2nd chances after all :)

One of the highlights of this week was a conference with Elder Valenzuela, a member of the Seventy and the 2nd counselor in the Area Presidency. It was a really great conference, and I left feeling a lot more motivated. He talked a lot about comfort zones: how we all have a comfort zone, how our stake has comfort zone and that the mission also has a comfort zone. And he encouraged us - individually, as a zone and as a mission - to get out of our comfort zones and do more. The Lord is accelerating His work, and we need to enhance our efforts and abilities in order to keep up with it. I realized that some days, I reach a point when I think "Well, I've done absolutely everything that I can do today." But I know that those thoughts come from Satan... I know that there is always more that we can do. We can't ever feel content with where we are at - we always need to strive to do more!

Luz Janett and her family are progressing beautifully :) They came to church yesterday, and I think they really enjoyed it! Angel and Hugo are the cutest...every time we visit, they run and grab their Books of Mormon and have lists of questions for us from what they read. They're the best, haha!

My favorite day this week was Friday. We had a lot of plans, so we decided to have divisions with two of the hermanas in the ward. I went with Hermana Dulce (who returned home from her mission 2 months ago and got married 2 weeks ago!) ((Her and her husband are also our new neighbors...but it's ok because they bring us food at night :) Haha)) But we were going around, visit everyone we could, and after about an hour, she asked me if we could go visit one of her old neighbors. She told me that she had been thinking about this woman all week, and that she felt like we needed to visit her. So we went to the woman's house...and she barely let us in. Her name is Cati, and is about 50 years old. We sat down, asked if we could start with a prayer, and she asked us if she could smoke instead. ...bueno. So we started to talk a bit, she was really cordial, almost rude... and then after about the longest 3 minutes of my life, she told me, "I'm Catholic and I'm never going to change my religion, so I don't know why you two bothered to come. I don't even want you here." I don't think I've ever felt that uncomfortable in a lesson before. But I told her that we weren't there to convince her of anything or change her religion, but that the message that we had could help better her life. I asked for 10 minutes of her time. After that...she started to put down her walls. We started to talk about Christ, about his life, about his Atonement.... And to be quite honest, I don't remember what we said, but suddenly she started to cry. That really caught me off guard. She started to explain that she's been an alcoholic since she was a teenager...but that she was able to stop drinking when she was raising her three kids. She was sober for years...but now, all of her children are grown up, moved away, have families...and she has never felt so alone. This week...she started drinking again, and hasn't been able to stop.

In that moment, I forget completely about how rude she had been before, the fact that she was smoking in our faces, the fact that I didn't want to be there... I forgot about all that and it was a moment when I could just see her as my sister, as a daughter of God. I reached out and grabbed her hand, and testified with everything that I had that God loved her, and she is His daughter and that she is never alone. She then told me that she can't imagine that things are going to get better... at that moment, the scripture Ether 12:4 came to my mind. I was about to open to it, when Hermana Dulce grabbed her scriptures...and shared Ether 12:4. ...I know that Heavenly Father knows when every single one of his children need...and I sure am grateful to have the guidance of the Holy Ghost in moments like that. 

We gave her a Book of Mormon. We told her that every time she wanted to drink, to open up the Book of Mormon instead. We told her to read it, to search for answers, and then to ask God if he really is listening and aware of her. We testified of the power of the Book of Mormon, and that Christ has the power to heal and strengthen us. We ended with a prayer and she offered one of the most beautiful, powerful prayers that I have ever heard. She hugged me...so tightly as we left that house. I walked away knowing that the Spirit of God can soften even the hardest hearts, and that every person is searching for something to give them a bit more hope. I don't know if Cati is going to accept the Gospel. I don't know if she is going let us keep visiting her, if she is going to do what we asked, if she is going to be baptized. But...I know that in that moment...we were able to help her in a way that no one else could. We were able to guide her to Christ. And for that...it was an experience that I'm never going to forget.

This week, I've been thinking a lot about Christ, about the Sacrament and what it means to "always remember Him". And I just want to share a passage of scripture that I like a lot.

"Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail... Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven."
(D&C 6:34, 36-37)

...and for me, when all of us made the decision to be baptized, and take His name upon us and remember Him... we promised to be faithful. We promised to keep the commandments. We promised to do good, and to fear not. We promised to seek His guidance, and to "doubt our doubts before we doubt our faith". ...and most importantly, we promised to remember His Atonement. We promised to remember His suffering, His death, and most importantly, that He lives. It's been a good reminder for me this week...to better remember my covenants and why I'm here, and what I need to do to fulfill my part.

I love all of you so much :) Thank you for all you do! I hope y'all have a great week, and that you're happy! Til next week!

Love always,
Hermana Smith





May 26, 1014- Week 20 in Mexico was a GREAT one!

FAMILY AND FRIENDS!

I really don't have words to describe the joy I feel right now. :)

But remember what I said last week about a possible miracle that might take place? Well...it happened! Saturday afternoon, May 24th, Marina, Karla and Daniel were baptized!!!!!!!!! It was such a great, and spiritual experience. Before the baptism, I looked over at the three of them, all dressed in white and...I couldn't help but think of the first time I went to the temple. I was with so many members of my family and I was able to feel the blessings of having an eternal family. And as I looked at them, and thought all of the incredible blessings that are waiting for them now that they've made this decision...my heart was going to burst with happiness. The baptisms were beautiful and Marina's testimony was short, but so powerful. The part that caught my attention most was this: "I wanted to change our lives. I wanted to leave everything behind and start over. And now...that's what we have the opportunity to do, and I'm never going to forget this day." 

Isn't that what we all want sometimes? To change our lives and start over? How grateful I feel to have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who made that all possible. Marina and her kids have gone through more than you and I could ever imagine. They have suffered, struggled and I know that at many different points, she lost hope. But, as she and the kids have applied the Atonement and the Gospel to their lives, they have changed completely before our eyes. They still have nothing...but they are so happy. They are so content, and they have hope again. For me, that is one of the greatest blessings of the Atonement: hope. I love that I was able to witness that moment in their lives :)

The rest of the week was a bit hard... we had to tell Mikaela and her family that we can't teach them anymore as they aren't progressing, living the commandments or showig any desires to do so. We have become such good friends, especially with Mikaela, but unfortunetly, friendship can't convert anyone. But, she told us that she is more than willing to keep reading, maybe attend church, listen to other missionaries down the road...and maybe one day, we'll get to hear about their baptisms. :) It's all about inviting, yeah? And sometimes, we can only plant the seeds, and someone else will have the opportunity to view the harvest. 

But we were able to commit Luz Jannet, her son Hugo and Angel to baptism! June 22! We're really excited about them. Luz is just loving the Book of Mormon. It was pretty funny, because they only had one Book of Mormon between the 3 of them, and when we asked Angel if he read, he said, "I'm so sorry Hermanas, but I couldn't. Luz wouldn't stop reading long enough to let me!" :) I love that everytime we visit them, they have questions. They are earnestly seeking for the truth, and I love their desires to learn. They are a beautiful family, and I can't wait to see what happens with them the next few weeks :)

I'm not sure if I told y'all last week...but we started teaching English Thursday nights. That has been an adventure! The people here just love English, and this last week, there were a lot of people that were able to come. :) We're hoping that more will bring their friends this next week so that we can receive referrals...but if not, it has been great helping the people here learn more.

This week, we also had our first exchanges! (I don't know if that is the word...but yeah!) I went with Hermana Cascante to her area and Hermana Seañez come here with Hermana Gomez. They are the sister training leaders here in Tehuacan. It was a really great experience :) Hermana Cascante is an amazing missionary from Costa Rica, and I learned so much from her while we were together. It was great helping her with some of her investigators, and she helped me discover so many ideas that can help our investigators. It was also kind of crazy...at 5 AM, we both woke up to a pretty big earthquake. But we were pretty calm about it...so that was good. Nothing happened really, but it was just really long. But my companion however...ha! She is so cute sometimes. She freaked out apparently and scared Hermana Seañez to death! So funny. I'm sure Hermana Seañez is going to remember that intercambio for quite a while :)

All in all, this was a pretty fantastic week. I love being a missionary! And I'm so excited for my friends that are going to be serving very shortly! :) It really is the very best experience ever, and you can't help but love every moment. But remember...every member a missionary ;) Search for those opportunities to share the Gospel :) There is always someone that is searching for the truth.

I love all of you so much! Have a great week!!!! :)

Love always,
Hermana Smith

Photos:
-We found a friend during weekly planning....
-The baptism!