Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

Hey you all!

So some of you might be wondering why I put Tehuacan and Puebla this week. Well, let me tell you all about it! Because this week, I spent 5 of the past 7 days in Puebla! This was another abnormal week for us, Really abnormal, but all is fine and dandy now :)

Tuesday and Wednesday were normal and great! We taught a lot of lessons, contacted A LOT in the street and overall, the work is moving forward here in Tehuacan. Like I said last Monday, transfers were this past week, and 3 of the missionaries left in our district, and we gained 5 different ones! Yep, we now have a district of 10 (6 of which are Hermanas!) and two of the Hermanas are sister training leaders for our zone. They´re really great, and I´m excited to work with them more this transfer. The new missionary for our ward is really nice too, and I think the four of us will be able to accomplish a lot...after this next week, haha.

Wellll....Thursday, Hermana Muñoz and I traveled to Puebla for some studies, an ultrasound of her stomach and a consultation with the doctor. I should probably explain what exactly went down the past couple of weeks, haha! So on the 8th, we were walking, and all of a sudden, my companion had super intense pain all through her stomach, back and she could barely breathe. All that week, she had been experiencing a tiny bit of pain after eating, but we didn´t think much of it. But we hurried to a member´s house, called President Reeves and we went to the emergency room here in Tehuacan. They put her on an IV and some medicine until about midnight that night, and then we went back home. They told her it was just because of how spicy the food is here, and her body is just adjusting. And we should have learned to always get a second opinion, haha! But oh well. All the next week, even with the pills and injections, she still was experiencing quite a bit of pain on her right side. The mission doctor told us that we needed to go to Puebla and visit with a specialist. So that is when we traveled to Puelba on the 15th. He told her that her vesicula (I´m still not entirely sure what it is, I think her gall bladder) was possibly inflammed and that she needed the studies and ultrasound. He told us we could do them in Tehuacan, but we couldn´t, so we went back on Thursday to Puebla. Ok. So this week...

Thursday night, the specialist took one look at the ultrasound and then told us that my companion needed surgery ASAP to remove her vesicula, because it was a little...grave. Her vesicula was twice the size of normal, and she had a large stone in it as well. We were only prepared to stay the night in Puebla, so it was a bit of a shock for us, but Friday morning, she checked into the hospital and that afternoon, they took out her vesicula! The sister training leaders serving near the hospital are ANGELS. They came that afternoon to be with me while she was in surgery and stayed all day. Later that night, we found out that we could leave the hospital the next day, but Pres. Reeves wanted us to stay in Puebla, near the hospital, until today. So, because we didn´t have clothes or anything, Hermana Rameriz (one of the sister training leaders) and I went BACK to Tehuacan Friday night for clothes and supplies. Hermana Seañales stayed with Hermana Muñoz. Saturday morning around 6, we went BACK to Puebla and stayed in the hospital, then with the sisters in their house until this afternoon! I am happy to report that my companion is recovering beautifully, we are in Tehuacan once again, and hopefully after our appointment with the doctor (in Puebla) this Saturday, we will be able to start working again next week. Whooo. Lots of information, thanks for reading :) 

(Worst part of my week: So every 2 hour bus ride, they play a movie on the bus. Most of the time, the movie is in Spanish and weird, so it´s really easy to ignore it. However...this morning, they played "Les Miserable" English...really loud. Satan sure knows how to tempt us to break the rules! Good thing I had my scriptures with me to keep me distracted, haha!)

This next week is definitely going to be a crazy one for me. Because Hermana Muñoz can´t leave the house, I have to go on splits with the members every day in order to keep up with our investigators and the inactives in the ward. I will be honest, I am really scared! But I know that this is going to help me a lot as a missionary. I´ve been needing to get over my fear of talking a lot in lessons...soooo...this is exactly what I need, right?!

Sorry I don´t have much to report this week! This has definitely not been the normal training experience in the field for me! The First 12 the Hospital! But really, I am learning a lot despite all of the medical mishaps. I´m happy to be here :) I just love everything about this place, and I love the people SOOO much. There is definitely a special spirit here, and I feel so blessed every single day to be here, with these people. 

I love all of you so much! You are all amazing, and keep doing great things! :) Til next week!

Love always, 

PS - Don´t judge me in the photo! Like I said, we weren´t exactly prepared for our long stay in Puebla haha! And the last photo is of a GORGEOUS sunset in Puebla, with the volcano Popocatepetl :)

February 17, 2014

Helloooooooooooooo Familia!

I can´t believe that tomorrow, I´ll be starting my 2nd transfer in the field. Time is just FLYING by, and I´m not sure how I feel about it! But I´m happy to report that I will be staying with Hermana Muñoz here in Tehuacan for at least another 6 weeks :) We´re really excited for this next transfer, and I know that many people here are ready to hear the Gospel! 3 of the missionaries in our district are being transfered tomorrow! I´m a little sad to see them leave, but I´m excited to meet others!

And today is my bro´s birthday :) Happy Birthday, Kyle!!

Monday night, we had interviews with President Reeves. We have interviews with the mission president every 3 months, so the next one will be right before he is released! Crazy! Tuesday morning, we had a special zone conference with him and Hermana Reeves. They talked about the conference they had with Elder Oaks with all of the Mexico Mission Presidents the week before. And they revealed our mission goals for February, March and April... 100 baptisms this month, 150 in March and 200 in April...450 total! In the history of the Mexico Puebla mission, the most they´ve had in a month is 115. But they also didn´t have 250 missionaries! We had a special fast this weekend, for strength and diligence to reach our goals. I know that we can do it, and I´m excited to do our part in the work! Tomorrow, we are getting 20 new missionaries in the missionary, 15 of which are Hermanas! Watch out, world. The sister missionaries are coming!!!

This week, we spent a lot of time finding new investigators. A lot of street contacts, references, and we also had our grand "casa abierta" on Saturday! (AKA: Open House) So what went down was that for the past 2 weeks, we´ve been contacting members and non-members and inviting everyone possible to this activity. Then Saturday, they started in the chapel with a short video about Christ, then to the baptismal font for a short explanation about baptism, then over to Hermana Muñoz and I, where we asked for references. Then, they went to the cultural hall where all of the presidencies in the ward had displays about each organization. We also had a giant display of materials for them to take home and read. It was a great success :) and the ward is now planning on doing the same thing every 6-8 weeks. Many of the people here have NO idea what our church is like, what we really believe, etc. And all of the people that came through gave us their names to contact, and many also gave us names of friends or family. I think it really helped the people here understand what we´re all about. 

We are starting to work really hard with 3 families. Norma and her daughters we have been teaching for a few weeks. Alicia and Alejandra, her daughter, we contacted in the street on Tuesday and they are realy receptive to our message and both are reading the Book of Mormon. Also, we have a family that is a reference from Carla, the daughter of the bishop - Maria (mom), Diana (the amiga of Carla), and another daughter and son. All of them came to the open house, church yesterday and we are having FHE with them and the family of the bishop tonight! It really makes such a difference with members are involved. We are really excited to work with these families, and I have high hopes for all of them!

All in all, I love this work. This definitely was the best decision that I´ve every made, and I´m grateful for every second that I have here! I love all of you so much! 

Love always, Hermana Smith

#1: The Familia Oropeza. This family has taken care of us through our sicknesses and Hermana Orpeza makes the best tacos, hands down.
#2: Hermanas Eva and Itcialy. They´re pretty fantastic :)
#3: The Elders and the Ward Mission Leader, Hermano Rozines

February 10, 2014

Buenas Tardes! 

Well...I'm gonna start by saying that this week was really hard. But, once again, I just feel like it's those moments that are trying when you can learn the most! So for that, I am really grateful for this week!

So the hard part about this week was that for 4 days, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, every single person that we visited all of a sudden had a really difficult trial in their lives. And trust me when I say really difficult. Emotionally, this week was really taxing. Every night, mi compañera and I would return to our apartment, just really down and discouraged. It was difficult to sleep, think, focus... It was really hard to wake up in the morning, because I just didn't want to know what we were going to have to face that day. But we just keep moving forward. We kept doing the best we could to help these members and investigators believe that through their faith in Jesus Christ, they could keep going. Let me tell you, it really helped my faith as well. I have to trust with my whole heart that there is a purpose to everything. I know that is a true principle. Satan does everything he can to keep us from reaching our potencial, coming unto Christ, and being happy. But more importantly, I know that our Father in Heaven, who loves us more than we can imagine, wants us to grow. 

Friday morning, during personal study, I was reading in Alma 31. It talks about how Alma's heart was extremely sorrowful over the sins of the Zoramites. He was weighed down. He was discouraged. I'm fairly certain that he didn't know what he or his brethren could do for them. They were feeling a lot like Hermana Muñoz and I. Then in verse 5, we learn that "the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them" In that moment, I realized that I had to keep going. I had to keep preaching the word, and inviting others to read the words of God. Later in the chapter, verse 38, it says that "the Lord also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ." 

I know that all of our affictions, trials, challengles, heart aches, sorrows, sins...all of them can be "swallowed up in the joy of Christ". Christ can give us the strength, endurance, and the ability to press forward, even when we don't know how. I always remember the quote that says, "the grace of Christ is not the light at the end of the tunnel. It is the light that leads you through the tunnel." And I had the honor, the privledge, of teaching this principle this week. In the Atonement of Jeus Christ, we can ALWAYS find hope. We can always endure. We can always be conquerers through Christ. And in teaching this, my love for the Savior and my appreciation for the Atonement has grown tremendously. And I promise that the tunnel does eventually end. It doesn't always put us where we thought we were going, but it's always where we need to be. 

My end of the tunnel came last night, when I was able to witness the miracle of two baptisms, for two hermanas who are extremely dear to my heart. It truly was a miracle. When I watched them come out the water, when I saw the happiness on their faces... words really can't express the joy I felt in that moment. And I realized that it is moments like that that make everything else worth it. I love being a missionary. This really has been the best 12 weeks of my life, and I am so excited for the rest of the journey!

I love all of you so much! Thank you for your emails and words of encouragement! I know that this church is true! 

Hermana Smith

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 2, 2014 Semana 4 en Tehuacan!

Buenas Tardes, familia!

So, I want to start by saying THANK YOU. Thank you so much for your prayers this week. This week was still a little rough, recovering and all, but I am very pleased to say that since Saturday, I have felt perfect, we have been able to work hard, and I can eat normal food again! No more Jello and chayotes! Really, thank you so much for the prayers. I know that they helped a lot.

Well, this week was another abnormal one! On Wednesday, I had to take another trip to the worries! My blood pressure was still just really low, and the combination of the pills I was taking was kinda having a negative effect. So the doctor changed some of them, and that helped a lot. Thursday, we had to go to Puebla for a conference for new missionaries and leaders in the mission. We left Tehuacan at 5 AM (yikes!) and returned to our apartment at 11 that night. Long day, that´s for sure! And I couldn´t go with the new missionaries when we split up because of the infection, but I stayed with Hermana Muñoz in their meetings. I learned a lot about how the mission functions, and just how important every person is. I always realized how important the mission rules are. Exact obedience really does bring miracles, and I´m grateful to have a companion that always strives to be exactly obedient, so that I can be obedient as well. The meeting was also great because I was able to see my MTC district there! And we´re pretty sure that Hermana Bowers got her visa this week, and will be joining us in 2 weeks! :) Happy day!

Friday, we got back to teaching! YAY! I´m sad to say that we did not have the baptisms of Rosario and Lupita this week...but this Saturday for sure! :) Because we were out of comission for almost 2 weeks, we weren´t able to teach them everything that we needed to. They were very understanding (I still feel bad about it), but it worked out better for them this way anywho. We have also been working really hard on Yumico. She is a VERY intellegent, bright young woman, but right now, she is getting a lot of information from religious professors, her friends and she doesn´t see why she needs Jesus Christ in her life. But on Friday, we read with her the beginning of 3 Nephi 11, and I could really see the Spirit working in her heart. I think her heart wants to believe, but her mind and her logic is telling her that it´s impossible that someone could take on all the sins of humanity, and also be resurrected. But, afterwards, she told us that we gave her a lot to think about, and that she honestly wants to learn for herself the truth. And I know that as she prays earnestly, she will receive an answer. We´re excited to visit her again this Friday, and talk about the past week. Also, her two sisters are interested in the church! Irene came to church with us yesterday, and we´re excited to start teaching them as well. :)

Saturday was great as well. We were able to teach quite a few less active members, and Marina as well. She hasn´t been able to attend church with us her baptisimal date won´t be on March 1. But we´re hoping that she will be able to start attending church this week! One hermana in the ward, Martha Martinez, came with us to our last lesson with her, and we´re starting to introduce her to more members. Hermana Martha has been visiting her since, and I am so grateful for her desire to assist in the work. It really is impossible without the help of the members. Also, on Saturday, we had our coordination meeting with the ward mission leader and the ward missionaries. And on the 15th of February, we are have a HUGE missionary activity for the ward. It´s gonna be crazy, and hopefully really awesome. I´ll tell you all about it after it happens!

Yesterday was wonderful. I really missed attending church last week when I was in the hospital, so yesterday was really great. I also gave my first lesson in Spanish...yikes, haha! The missionaries teach the Gospel Principles class (for investigators and recent converts) and it was on Charity. YIKES. Haha, but really, I think it was ok. Mostly because I didn´t do much! I just asked questions, and everything talked and contributed. I think all of us felt impressions from the Spirit on how we can change and become more charitable. That is a big thing that I have learned this week...that I really don´t do much. The Spirit does EVERYTHING, and when the Spirit is present, I learn just as much, if not more, than the person we are teaching. And I learn so much from that person. This week, I realized just how incredible the people are here, in particular, Rosario and Lupita. They are facing something really challenging right now, but their faith inspires me. Their confidence in Heavenly Father and Christ, to be quite honest, reduced me to tears one night, and I couldn´t help but think about how I wish I could be more like them. The Lord puts people in our lives for a reason, and I know that there is something to learn from every person, every situation, every conversation. 

I love this Gospel. I know that this is the only true church, and I testify that it is a gospel of change. Everything is centered on the oppurtunity to change and become better, become more Christlike, become more like our Father in Heaven. I have seen that in the lives of the people around me, and especially in my life. I love all of you so much, and I hope you all have a great week! You are always in my heart and in my prayers! 

Love always, Hermana Smith

PS - no photos this week! Lo siento! I promise that this week, I will be better and take pictures! Love you all!

January 28, 2014

So...This week. Yes, it is Tuesday and I am just barely writing this. It souns like at least my parents were informed of what was happening this week, but I´ll give you all the run down.

So Tuesday, everything was great! We had a lot of lessons, and we are very excited about the progress of our investigators, especially Rosario and Lupita (Getting baptized this Saturday!) Unfortunately...after eating at a member´s house, I wasn´t feeling too fantastic. All Tuesday night, I was extremely sick. We figured it was just food poisoning though.

Wednesday morning came and I felt even worse! The Elders came and gave me a blessing, then two members in the ward took me to the doctor. The doctor said that it was just food poisoning, gave me some pills and told me I would be fine. However, that evening, I couldn´t breathe very well, and I was having a lot of pain in my chest and head. So, we went back to the doctor, and the amount of fluids I was taking in couldn´t keep up with what I was losing, and I was extremely dehydrated. She perscribed an IV for that night, told me to rest all day Thursday, then I would be fine. 

Thursday. We were in the apartment all day, and I wasn´t getting better. I had more strength than Wednesday, but I was extremely dizzy all the time, even while sitting or laying down, and stil felt a lot of pain. However, Friday, we decided to get back to work, at least a little bit. The mission doctor also told us to go the doctor, because the dizzyness wasn´t normal. So we went back to the doctor (round 3!) and she gave me MORE pills, and suggested that maybe I should get a blood test the next day. We called the mission doctor again, and she told us that the next morning, we needed to go to the emergency room and get all of the tests we could possibly get. 

So Saturday morning, the Bishop took us to the emergency room, and that was when the real fun started! Haha! The doctor of the emergency room said that my body was just "adjusting" to the change of living in Mexico, but she agreed to let us take the tests and check into the hospital. They took 3 different blood tests and others, hooked me up to some IVs and then checked me into a room in the hospital. Around 3 that afternoon, a doctor came in and told me that I had a parasite. Whoo, I am officially an American Missionary in a forgein country! The pills that the first doctor had been perscribing was helping with the vomiting, but didn´t kill any of the bacteria, so it had been getting worse and worse every day. So, he put me on some anti-biotics, more fluids for the dehydration and we proceeded to spend the next 3 days in the hospital with constant IVs and lots and lots of Jello. Around 11 last night, I finally came back home, and I feeling ALMOST completely normal again :) Right now, I just don´t have a ton of energy. We can only have 2 maybe 3 visits a day for the next week, and then I have to keep resting in the apartment. 

Funny Story 1: When I was in the emergency room, they put me on some medicine, but didn´t equalize it with enough fluid, so apparently, I went a little coocoo. But, according to Hermana Muñoz, even when I´m totally drugged up, I can still recite the First Vision, D&C 4, and sing Hymns in Español - multiple times! And apparently, I was REALLY craving ice cream and pizza, and I was really concerned for the Elders, because I didn´t think they had food to eat that day. So concerned, that I made Hma Muñoz call them and double check that they had food. And I couldn´t stop laughing, like ever. I don´t remember any of this, but Hermana Muñoz said it definitely made her day a little brighter!

Funny Story 2: Yesterday, I was in the room with a member (Hermana Muñoz left to eat with another member) and two nuns came in! (By the way, the hospital was a Catholic one...oops!) But they wanted to pray for me, and I really didn´t know what was going on until they started praying. It was the longest prayer ever, and it was very different from how we pray. After they were done, they asked me why I was in Mexico. So I told them that I was a missionary for the church and their faces just fell. They looked at each other, gathered up their flyers, and promptly excused themselves. I love being a missionary!

But in reality...I learned a lot this week. But probably, the biggest thing I learned was patience. I´ll be honest, it was really rough constantly feeling sick for a week, and being stuck in that hospital bed. But God´s timing is perfect. And I know that there were many reasons why I needed to be in that hospital and be sick. Maybe it was because I learned to appreciate and love my companion so much more. Maybe becase I was able to get to know several more of the members. Maybe because we were able to share the gospel with many of the nurses who had questions about our church. Or maybe because I needed that time to really study the gospel, and spanish, and strengthen my own testimony. I love this work, and I am grateful for the trials that we go through. I am grateful for my Heavenly Father, and His ability to heal us - spiritually and physically - through His son, Jesus Christ. 

I love all of you so much, and thank you for your prayers and testimonies! I am excited to get back to work this week, and hopefully, next weeks letter will be a bit better :) Have a great week! I love you!

Love always, Hermana Smith

PS - the pic isn´t great, but it´s all I´ve got! Haha!