Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 25, 2015- The Last Week

Hey!

Wow, so I really never quite believed that this day would come, when I'd be writing my last letter home. So crazy how quickly time goes by. But, this was a perfect last week in the mission. I probably won't say a lot now, just so I have things to tell when I'm home, but it was perfect.
One highlight of the week was Irvin's baptism! He was so happy and I'll never forget that moment. Even though he isn't technically "our" convert, he'll always stay in my heart. His family is super excited to keep going strong in the Gospel, and I can't wait to hear about Nancy's baptism some day soon.
Another highlight: Hermana Perez is "pregnant"!!! She's going to train a new missionary! She was super nervous (still is I think) but she's super excited. We spent the morning making a "welcome" sign for her new companion and making sure everything is perfect for her. It'll be exciting to see who she istomorrow!
Other highlight was a mission conference we had with Elder Craig C. Christensen (Presidency of the Seventy) and Elder Paul B. Pieper (First Quorum of the Seventy). It was so incredible! It wasn't very long, only a couple of hours, but it was exactly what everyone needed. They help a question & answer session, and with the help of President Stellmon, they answered a lot of quesions. All of it was super inspiring!
And...I also had my final interview with President Stellmon on Thursday! It was absolutely perfect. He gave me a lot of advice and counsel and... I am so grateful to have been here under his direction. He has helped me so much over the last almost year, and I know that I probably won't have experienced many thing in my mission if it wasn't for him.
Just a few thoughts...well, it's really hard to figure out all that I want to say in this letter, but I think I just want to share one experience I had this morning. I was reading through my journal entries...and I came across one that I wrote in February, while I was in Ometoxtla. I want to put it in here:

"At one point last night, Guillermina made us cry a bit. She said, "I'm grateful for your feet. You walk all day, with your feet in the heat and dust, and the people reject you. But you guys keep on walking, and then you get to my house and help me to change." It brought me to tears because this area has been pretty hard. Almost everyone we talk to refuses to listen. But it helps me to know that there is one person who loves us and wants to learn more. And in that moment, Jesus Christ came to my mind. He also walked all day, in the heat and the dust, and the people rejected Him. They even crucified Him. But I'm grateful that He never gave up and that He finished His mission. I'm grateful for His feet, that also spilled blood from every pore and were nailed to the cross. And I'm grateful for His now resurrected feet, because that means that I also have the chance to live again and be wtih Him and my Heavenly Father again. We will all walk hard, endless and sometimes lonely roads, but He walks with us. I feel honored to be His missionary, and walk these roads in order to bring about our Father's plan."
Then I looked over by the door and I saw my poor shoes.




They won't be coming home with me, but I'm grateful, with all my heart, for the places they took me, the people they lead me to, the roads they walked down. I don't have words adaquate enough to explain the gratitude I have towards my Heavenly Father for this incredible opportunity to serve Him for 18 months. It has been the hardest, but defintiely most rewarding experience of my life, one that I'll never forget. I know that I have been just 1 missionary out of 85,147...and I know that I didn't change the world by any means... but the last 18 months have changed everything in my life. And I hope that in some way, I was able to help touch the lives of others with God's love and light.
I want to end with my testimony. It's nothing spectacular...but just the things that I know, without a doubt, to be true. I know that I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, and that He loves me, as He each one of His children. I know that He sent our older brother, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins. I know that Christ suffered for everything we experience in this life, and that He also loves us. I know that we can all receive forgiveness and peace if we're willing to accept His Atonement into our lives. I know that He gave us the perfect example to follow, and that if we strive to follow it, we'll find happiness and joy. I know that President Monson is a prophet of God, and that the Lord guides His church through him. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that it can change lives. I know that one day, I can live again with my Heavenly Father and my Savior. And I know that families can be together forever. I know that living the Gospel is the only way we can live if we want Heavenly Father's blessings. I know that everything is possible through faith in Them that love us and want the best for us.

"Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.
 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.
 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.
 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. Amen."
Doctrine and Covenants 6:33-37
I'll see you all very very soon. :)
Love always,
Hermana Smith

Pictures:
-Banana tree in the middle of the city!
-My favorite ladies!
-My pretty companion and I!
-With Hermana Aguilar (my companion for 5 days in Atlxico!)
-With Rosi (AKA: Our mission mom)
-With Yola!!!
-With Pipis!
-With Hermana Rojas!









Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 18, 2015- Week 11 in Mayorazgo!

Hey everyone! This week was super crazy, but oh so great!
Monday: Well, after P-Day ended, we went and visitde the Corona Family. They are in-actives and we've been really struggling with getting through to them the whole time I've been here. But we had a great lesson with them. Really, it was so great. We started out by sharing Mosiah 2:41 and we asked them what blessing they would like to receive from our Heavenly Father. They shared a lot, especially how they're seeing all of these blessings in their lives...but then we shared the umbrella analogy from President Uchtdorf ("Living the Gospel Joyfully" October 2014). We talked about how when it's raining, even if we have an umbrella, our feet can still get a little wet sometimes. When we're not keeping all the commandments, we will see some blessings, at least for a time. But in order to receive all of them, we have to take our umbrellas down. As we were explaining this...Hermana Corona started to cry and said that it all made sense. We saw the lightbulb go on in her and her husband. She started to tell us about their "spiritual umbrella" and that them not going to church or keeping other commandments is holding back their progress. It was absolutely incredible how the Spirit filled the room...I just felt overwhelmed for how much Heavenly Father loves them and wants them to be happy. It was a wonderful lesson
Wednesday: Conference with...Elder Pino!!! Whoo! It was so awesome! He is a really funny man, and super spiritual. The conference lasted about 4 hours, and I learned a lot. Hermana Stellmon started out by telling us to be the kinds of missionaries that our moms think we are. It was a really great talk. :) President talked about enduring to the end, and Hermana Pino talked about Humility. Then Elder Pino got up, and told us to pull out copies of our mission calls. He told us that even though they all said pretty much the same thing, Heavenly Father told us very personal and specific things in that letter, and promised us the blessings through President Monson. It was really great reading it from that perspective. He talked about how we can better fulfill what that call letter says, and especially the importance of know who we are as representatives of the Church and of the Savior. "The Lord knows that He wants to accomplish with each one of us. He knows the kind of reform He wants to achieve in our lives." (The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel, April 2015)
Saturday: We started the day out with a GREAT lesson with Isabela. We were able to find a lot of doubts and personal challenges, and we feel like she is really ready to recieve the Gospel. Then, we went to Zoe's and Emil's baptisms! Zoe is Yanet's daughter who turned 8 just barely, and Emil was an investigator of the other hermanas. It was a really great service! We did another musical number, this time "He Sent His Son" from the Primary Songbook. 

He Sent His Son

How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness?
He sent his Son, a newborn babe, with peace and holiness.
How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go?
He sent his Son to walk with men on earth, that we may know.
How could the Father tell the world of sacrifice, of death?
He sent his Son to die for us and rise with living breath.
What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say?
Have faith, have hope, live like his Son, help others on their way.
What does he ask? Live like his Son.
Sergio went to see his little sister's baptism and even sang the hymns! We almost wanted to cry when we saw him singing! And then, after the baptism, a miracle literally fell from heaven and into our lives!! Yanet's kids brought a friend to the baptism, whose name is Joshua. He's 13 years old, and after the baptismal service, he approached Hermana Perez and I and asked "When can I get baptized?" We both just stood there in shock. He explained that he's been to church 3 times, that he used to listen to the lessons in Yanet's house and that after seeing the baptisms, he feels like he also needs to be baptized! We have an appointment with him tonight, and we're hoping that he can get baptized this month, to help with the mission goal of 100 baptisms! It's amazing how the Lord listens to our prayers and blesses us. But it's always on His timetable and when we least expect it.
All in all, this week was full of spiritual moments and lots of learning. I'm really excited for this week, and I know that it will also be full of miracles and lessons. I'm so grateful for Heavenly Father's love and for the chance to share that love with the people here in Puebla. It is an incredible blessing in my life, and this week is going to amazing. :) Thank you for your letters and prayers. I love you all so much! 

Love always,
Hermana Smith

Photos:
-Zoe's Baptism! 
-Hna Perez and I at the Zone Activity!





Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11, 2015- Week 10 in Mayorazgo!



This week sure was a rollarcoaster, but it was great! First off, it was SOO good talking to my family yesterday :) But funny story, when we left last night after skyping, a HUGE thunderstorm + hail came pouring down over us! The streets were filled with water and we just ran home, laughing at our luck. :) Sure gonna miss these Puebla thunderstorms!
We're still seeing a lot of progress in Nancy! She's working hard to be able to be baptized, and her whole family is even getting involved in missionary work! Isabela is also doing really great! We also had an AWESOME lesson with Sergio, Yanet's son on Saturday! Not sure if I've mentioned him or not, but he's 16, super rebelous and the only one that hasn't been baptized yet in the family. When I first got here, he just ignored us and definitely never sat down for the lessons. But after he went to his mom's baptism, he's been changing. He will come and sit down for the lessons, without being told to do so, and he's even starting to talk to us without us starting the conversations. Well, this last Saturday, he sat in on a lesson about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and we both felt inspired to just start asking him questions. He is SUPER complicated and is passing through a lot of things...but we were able to see a side of him that I don't think he even knew existed. At the end of the lesson, he accepted the invitation to pray! (Yanet told us that he hasn't accepted ANY commitments from the missionaries since they started coming a year and a half ago.) We left their house SO excited, and honestly, we know that he's going to get baptized one day. He's just trying hard to fight it. He needs some work and a large dose of God's love, but he'll get there. Hna Perez has a lot of faith that she'll see that day, and I'm sure she will. :)
This Sunday was really cool because we had a "missionary" sunday! All of the talks were about missionary work and we had a musical number by...us! It was a little rough I think because my companion and the other hermanas have been battling colds, but I think we pulled it off, haha!
This week at our district meeting, our district leader pulled out a song that he wanted us to sing as the closing hymn. It's called "If the Savior Stood Beside Me"
If the Savior stood beside me,
Would I do the things I do?
Would I think of His commandments
And try harder to be true?
Would I follow His example?
Would I live more righteously,
If I could see the Savior standing nigh
Watching over me?
If the Savior stood beside me,
Would I say the things I say?
Would my words be true and kind
If He were never far away?
Would I try to share the Gospel?
Would I speak more reverently
If I could see the Savior standing nigh
Watching over me?
He is always near me,
Though I do not see Him there
And because He loves me dearly
I am in His watchful care
So I'll be the kind of person
That I know I'd like to be
If I could see the Savior standing nigh
Watching over me
Ever since I was little, I always heard the phrase, "What Would Jesus Do?" This song was perfect for this week because I had a lot of moments when that little phrase popped into my head. I love the last verse, because I have felt Him near me, and I have felt that He is taking care of us. His love is so infinite and perfect...and all He asks in return is that we try to be like Him. Sometimes that's a hard thing to do. But, luckily, the Atonement helps us to do that as well. I'm really grateful for the mission because Heavenly Father has been me MANY opportunities to try and overcome my "natural woman" and be more like Him.
Well, I think that's all for this week... I love you all so much!!! I hope everyone has a fantastic week!!!!
Love always,
Hermana Smith



May 4, 2015- Week 9 in Mayorazgo!

Well, this week was a really great one!
This week, we had a mission fast... our baptismal goal as a mission is 100 for May, and so we all fasted for that goal. It was really crazy, because those 24 hours were filled with super spiritual moments for me, and a miracle! We had interviews with President Stellmon during that time, and it was greatI love interviews with President! He always makes us feel better. The assistants gave a training meeting about using time wisely, and they gave us lots of good ideas with lots of good quotes. That is one thing that I have learned how to do in the mission - orgainize my time better. But really, it's something that's so necessary because every moment is so important, especially as a missionary. The miracles was that...we found a new investigator! We've been going through a little drought with investigators...but we found someone new and she's really great! Her name is Isabela, and has a LOT of questions. But we have a lot of faith in her!  Nancy and her family are doing pretty great! Irving will probably be baptized this next week, and Mateo and Nancy are working on getting married so that she can get baptized too! 

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" -Isaiah 58:6
This week... 12 less-actives came to church!!! We were so excited!! A lot of them are progressing so much! One hermana, Luci (20 years old), is super shy and hardly doesn't let anyone into her life....aaaand hadn't been to church in about 3 years. Well, we've been visiting her about 3 or 4 times a week for the last 3 weeks, and now, we're like her best friends! At first, she didn't talk to us, look at us and never answered our quesitons. But now, she makes us a dessert every time we go and talks to us about everything! We think she just needed someone to keep trying and let her know that they really do care.
This week, in preparation for a mission conference that we'll be having in a few weeks, President Stellmon asked us to read "The Greatest Generation of Youth" by Elder Ballard. I think he gave this talk during the Priesthood session of April conference. It's a really awesome talk, and his testimony of the Atonement was great, so I'm going to put it in here:

Remember that our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, know you best and love you the most.
Through the Atonement, the Redeemer took upon Himself our troubles, pains, and sins. The Savior of the world came to understand each of us individually by experiencing our dashed hopes, challenges, and tragedies through His suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross.5 He died as one final act of love for us and was buried in a new tomb on that fateful night.
On Sunday morning, Jesus rose from the dead—promising new life for each of us.
I've been reading "Jesus the Christ" almost every night before bed, and I've just finished the chapter that talks about Christ's resurrection. Reading that talk by Elder Ballard and "Jesus the Christ" went hand in hand, letting me know that really, we all have the promise of "new life". We can all start today a new spiritual life, and we will all be blessed with a new physical life after this one. I know that to be true, and I'm thankful for a loving Father who has given me that knowledge and the power to change.

Funny moment of the week: Well, at least it's funny to me. Today, Hermana Perez and I decided that we wanted to eat tacos. So we went to one place in our area that we pass by a lot, sat down, and saw the name of the restaurant. "Los Canibalitos". AKA: The Little Cannibals. Hahahahahaha.... but the tacos were super good!
Well, I hope everyone has a great week this week! I know we will! You're all in my prayers and my heart. Talk to you all soon!
Love always,
Hermana Smith

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015- Week 8 in Mayorazgo!

Well, this week was pretty normal! We are still having a lot of success with the less-actives, but investigator wise.... well, we're working on getting more references and news! Nancy is doing well, and they're working on getting married so she can get baptized, so that's good news! And her son Irving is probably getting baptized this week! So that will be exciting!
This week was a lot like last week, with lots of walking (but less sunburnt faces!) But Hna Perez and I decided that when no one was home or we couldn't keep walking anymore, we would go to a members house and look for ways to serve. And if they didn't let us do something for them (because most say, "Hermanas! Of course I won't let you guys help me wash the dishes! You're servants of the Lord!") then we asked them for brooms so we could sweep their neighbor's sidewalk. And that's what we did! I think a lot of them were extremely surprised... and their neighbors were too! But it did help us to feel better, and to find more people to teach.
We had a super zone conference this week! Honestly, it helped me out a ton! The Zone Leaders talked about our weaknesses...and focused in on Ether 12:27. We talked about recognizing the weaknesses, working to over come them, and recognizing that our weaknesses don't define who we are. There's a talk that I really love by Elder Uchtdorf titled "Forget Me Not" and one part talks about our weaknesses:
I want to tell you something that I hope you will take in the right way: God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect.

Let me add: God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not.

And yet we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

It’s wonderful that you have strengths.

And it is part of your mortal experience that you do have weaknesses.

God wants to help us to eventually turn all of our weaknesses into strengths, but He knows that this is a long-term goal. He wants us to become perfect, and if we stay on the path of discipleship, one day we will. It’s OK that you’re not quite there yet. Keep working on it, but stop punishing yourself.

Dear sisters [and brothers], many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.
As missionaries, I think our weaknesses seem even more apparent than they normally would. And sometimes, I get down on myself for not being able to do some things better or in the way I would like. But this zone conference was absolutely perfect because it helped us to stay motivated and keep trying. 

Story of the week: Well, the Primary song "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission" has been in my head ALL week! But every time I start to sing it, my companion starts singing "I Hope They Make Me an Ex-Missionary"   -_-  She likes raining on my parade haha but I sure do love her!
We also got to give surprise talks yesterday at church! I guess the bishopric informed our mission leader that my comp and I were going to give talks....but he forgot to tell us! Thank goodness they mentioned it to us about 5 minutes before the meeting started or else I'm sure it would've been a disaster! I realized while I was giving my talk that...the Lord has blessed me in SO many ways here. One of the ways has been with the Spanish. Honestly, it was one of the hardest things of the first part of my mission. It stressed me out to speak in lessons, not to mention talks in church! But as I was talking yesterday, I realized that Heavenly Father really can bless us with the gift of tongues! It's something so subtle and a daily process, that sometimes it's hard to notice. But 17 months ago I couldn't even say "My name is Sister Smith" in Spanish. And now, well, I can at least say more than that, haha! Heavenly Father is so incredible, and I'm so grateful for His help!
Well, that was our week! Sorry that there isn't much to tell! But have a great week! I love you all!!
Love always,
Hermana Smith

Photos:
We went to a lake/pond/I'm-really-not-sure-what-it's-called-in-English-anymore today! It was nice to get out and see something new. When you're in the middle of a city, it's difficult to see places like this haha







Friday, April 24, 2015

April 20, 2015- Week 7 in Mayorazgo!

Hey everyone!
This week was completely crazy, but great! Well, first of all, my new companion is AWESOME! Her name is Hermana Perez, from Chiapas (like Hermana Gomez!). She has almost 5 months in the mission, and is the "daughter" of Hermana Traylor! I feel like, with all the things that happened this week, that we have been together for a long time, but it hasn't even been a week! But I love being with her. She is definitely the perfect last companion to have. She's eager to work hard, is super funny, and loves everyone. It's going to be a great transfer with her!
Well, I'm not gonna lie, we got REALLY sunburned this week from walking everywhere. I promise we put on sunblock, but it didn't help! I think the sun in Mexico is different. I look like a lobster and my companion keeps saying she's black now, haha. We spent the days visiting everyone we could and seeing a lot of miracles. Most of the miracles occured with the less-actives. They sure are progressing! 8 of them came to church yesterday!
This week, President also put us in charge of taking care of a sister missionary that was in the hospital. After visiting her there, we also helped take care of her at the mission home. It was really crazy and...well, I can't really explain it right now, but I promise I will once I'm home. But, one thing that I do know is that miracles happen. God is in PERFECT control of our lives, and He truly knows what's best for us. I don't have the words to explain how grateful I feel to Him for the miracles with this sister missionary. He truly does love us.
We were finally able to meet Lupita's son this week (the one that is super prepared to accept the gospel!) His name is Fransisco! He has SOOOOO many questions, but he's starting to realize that our church exactly how Christ's church should be. One thing that really surprised me was when he asked if we pay tithing in our church. We told him yes, then he asked us if we pay 10% like it should be! We told him yes and he was completely surprised! He then told us that of all the churches he has talked to, we are the only ones that pay a tithe of 10%. Most people we talk to don't accept the law of tithing very easily...but it was one of the things that helped him to have the desire to keep listening! We have another appointment with them tonight! :)
Funny/Gross Moment of my Mission: Well, after 17 months, after hearing of countless stories of this happening to other missionaries, it finally happened to me. On Saturday. I walked under a telephone line...and received a little "present" from a bird. My companion couldn't stop laughing and I was completely horrified. Have a happy week, everyone! haha

Hermana Perez and I studied a lot about the Sacrament this week, to help motivate the less-actives to come to church. In the talk by Sister Esplin in the October General Conference, she quoted Elder Holland who said "One of the invitations inherent in the sacramental ordinance is that it be a truly spiritual experience, a holy communion, a renewal for the soul." And it was a little funny because when we got to church yesterday, we were completely burnt out (and literally burned) and unsure of how to help our few investigators to progress. But as I took the Sacrament, I felt that renewal that my soul needed. I have no idea what waits for us this week, but I do know that partaking of the Sacrament each weeks helps us to increase our spiritual endurance and renew our commitment to follow Christ in every way that we can. The Church is true. :)
I love you all so much! Have a fantastic week!!
Love always,
Hermana Smith


April 13, 2015- Week 6 in Mayorazgo!



I have news! Good news!! I'm staying here in Granjas for my last transfer! I'm so happy!! This really is one of the best areas, and I feel so grateful to be here. The sad news... Hermana Leri finishs her mission tomorrow. So...no surprise transfers this time, she definitely won't be my companion again. :( But my new companion will be awesome too, I know it! I'll find out who she is tomorrow!

This week was a great week 6. We were able to see a lot of miracles - in others and in ourselves. This week, we were able to start teaching a new family that contacted us in the street! The Familia Mora Soriano - Mateo (the dad) is less-active, and introduced the church to his wife, Nancy about 6 years ago, when their little girl with Downs Syndrome was born. Since the first moment we met them, we felt something super special. Amber, their daughter, is just pure love. She lights up the world, and the parents have been able to strengthen their testimonies of God through their experiences with her. Nancy still says she's not ready to get baptized, but their little boy Irving is! His baptism date is set for May 2nd and he is super excited! He's been reading the Book of Mormon everyday and is so smart! We just love this family! They came to our ward for the first time yesterday, and everyone just fell in love with them.
And Lupita and her family! So Lupita is a reference from a less active family, is about 65 years old, and this week we were able to teach her and her daughter the restoration! Her daughter is SUPER interested and they are so prepared! And...they say that her son is even MORE interested! We haven't been able to meet him yet because he works a lot, but he takes all of the pamphelts that we give them and reads them over and over and over again. They weren't able to come yesterday to church, but we feel like they're really going to progress!

We also saw SO much progress in less-actives this week! So many of them came to church yesterday, and most of them are starting to align their lives with the Gospel again. There is one who told us that he met with the Bishop this last week to start preparing for a mission! I think we literally screamed for joy, haha.
Friday was just a great, crazy day! I had intercambios with Hermana Rojas and we both felt the need to study about the Book of Mormon during our personal study. After sharing what we studied, we made the goal to teach and testify specifically of the Book of Mormon with everyone that we saw that day. And...I'm not joking, the only people we saw that day were all the people that we have been trying to see for the last 6 weeks and none have been able to! But Friday was that day! Investigators, less-actives...and as we talked with them and got to know them, we felt the strongest impressions to read from the Book of Mormon with them and testify that it's true. And wow - the results were amazing. We have appointments with ALL of them this next week, and they all seem generally interested. There is a lot of power in that wonderful book, and I know that it is true. I know that it is the most correct book that we could ever hold in our hands, that it testifies clearly of our Savior, and that we will draw closer to Him and our Heavenly Father if we study its words.
This week was also a week of lots of reflextion. As Hermana Lerigeth is finishing her mission and I'm starting the last transfer... we were able to think of a lot of goals of how we can become more and more converted disciples each day. And to go along with that, Mom sent me a really awesome quote this week, and I want to share it:

"You only get one chance to serve a mission; it is your responsibility, your duty, to use it to the fullest; to give every last ounce of energy until you collapse in exhaustion at the end of it. All the hardships, all the tears, all the hard work will be looked back upon as the best thing you've ever done, not because you enjoyed it, not because you baptized everyone, but because you gave everything you had, even when you didn't think you could, and especially when you didn't want to. Live your mission to your fullest, work harder than you've ever worked before. Let people know that this is the most important thing in the world to you... If you do not run until you have nothing left to give, and then keep going anyway; cry and pray and work and sweat and plead until you are so drained that all you can do is turn to the Lord; if you don't do this, then these people will not come to this joy because of you - their failure to come to Christ will be partially upon your head. Come out of your mission proud of what you've done, and this experience will bless the rest of your life."
~Elder Jeffery R. Holland
I really like this quote. And...even if you're not serving a mission, everyday needs to be lived to the fullest as well. Everyday, we have to give our all to Heavenly Father, our families, our church callings, others... Let others know that this Gospel is the most important thing to us. This Gospel is the most important thing that I have, and I love that I get to share that with others. Maybe I haven't been perfect in doing so... but I have tried to give everything I have. And I will continue to do so, and so must all of us. The race never ends! And luckily, we have a Savior who is running with us, every step of the way. And I love that it says "until you are so drained that all you can do is turn to the Lord." Asi es.
I love all of you so much! Have a fantastic week!!
Love always,
Hermana Smith

Photos:
-With the Familia Mora Soriano! Amber, Irving and their parents Mateo and Nancy! 
-Ruth! She's great haha :)




Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 6, 2015- Week 5 in Mayorazgo!

Well, this week was great, like always!
On Monday/Tuesday, we had intercambios with two hermanas, and I went with Hermana Lima to her area. She is a new hermana, about to finish her training, and she is wonderful! We had a wonderful time, and I learned a lot from her. She is from Guatemala, and joined the church a little over a year ago...but she has been waiting to join the church since she was 15! Her testimony is so strong, and I could tell that every person she meets is affected by her love and testimony.
We also had intercambios this week with... Hermana Gomez and Hermana Olvera! This time I went with Hermana Gomez. Goodness, I love that woman!! Since being companions, we have been able to have 2 intercambios together, and each time, it just keeps getting better and better. We definitely aren't newbie teachers anymore, and it was so great being able to teach with her again. She is incredible! We had a lot of crazy experiences...one of them being that a JW contacted us in the street, but after sharing a scripture with him, he told us that we are "very smart missionaries" and that he's going to "investigate what we shared a little bit more." :)
This week....we visited a lot of less-actives again. But unlike last week, a lot of them let us in and came to conference this weekend! It was really awesome to meet them, and that they were able to make it to the conference. They are all really great, just passing through things, and many of them introduced us to their family members who aren't members...so now we have a whole bunch of new investigators! I think the greatest was last night... we passed by to see a young man, less active, who has NEVER been home...but was there this time! His girlfriend was there, his sister, his mom, his grandma, and two of his cousins, all of which live in our area! And they all listened and all agreed to let us visit them!
And well, this week was CONFERENCE! Haha, it was so great, wasn't it? I feel like I received a lot of answers to my prayers, and I could truly feel that they are inspired men and women called by God. There were so many talks that I liked... and I don't have my notes to put thoughts that I liked! But more than anything, I know that President Monson is a prophet of God, that God answers our prayers, and that there is A LOT for us to do as members of the church. I know that as we get closer and closer to the Second Coming...there's going to be a lot more opposition and it may be harder to stay firm as devoted disciples. But it's the daily things we do that matter, and as long as we keep our eyes fixed on our eternal goals, we'll be able to resist the temptations and challenges that will come.

I can't believe that it's already week 6 in this transfer!!!! We're super excited to work this week! We're also going to have a couple more intercambios and do our best to find more news!! I love all of you so much!!! Thank you for all you do! Have a great week!!
Love always,
Hermana Smith
Photos:
-We made a massage train while cooking lunch between conference sessions! (The last woman, Rosi, is standing on a chair so she can reach my companion! haha!)
-After the conference yesterday! The only with the family is the bishop's family! they are super great!





Sunday, April 5, 2015

March 30, 2015- Week 4 in Mayorazgo

Hey everyone!
This week was such a fast, crazy one! But it was so great!
The best part of the week was....Yanet's baptism!!! It was absolutely perfect!!

I read a quote this morning that I had in some notes...and it reminded me of Saturday:
"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do no just happen."

Yanet went through A LOT of things this last week in order to get baptized. She faced a lot of problems and challenges with her family, up until minutes before her baptism. But I have never seen anyone more determined and more ready than her in that moment. And she truly is a beautiful person, and leaving the water, she was literally glowing as tears rolled down her cheeks. ...She was waiting for more than a year for that moment, and I know that she knows that it was worth the wait.
The service was also super beautiful, because, well, it was planned to have 9 baptisms that day, as a zone. But it ended up being 3, but the whole zone came and we sang and had a presentation about prayer, baptism and enduring to the end. We sang, "A Child's Prayer", "When I Am Baptized" and "Come, Come Ye Saints", and the Spirit was SO strong! Everyone was touched by it, I know. I had a hard time keeping myself from crying. It was an absolutely perfect day.
This week was also Hermana Lerigeth's birthday! We had a little surprise party for her, and she was so surprised (obviously, haha!) It was SO hard keeping her from finding out all week, but luckily, one of the other hermanas, Hermana Rojas, speaks English too so that helped out a lot, haha ;)
We also had our Zone Conference with President this week! President talked a lot about the Atonement and...guess what?? If y'all don't know, there is a GREAT new video to watch and share for Easter! Here's the link: http://www.mormon.org/easter  Now everyone go watch it!! Then share it!!
Saturday was the General Women's Meeting and it was so great! I especially loved the talk by President Eyring. He said a couple of things that really made me think. One of them was, after mentioning Matthew 11:28-30, he said that the best way we can help comfort others is by helping the Lord make their burdens light. Most of the time, when I read this scripture, I always thought that prayer and scripture study was the way to receive that relief. But...as His disciples, He will sometimes send us to lighten their loads. He talked a lot about compassion...and I think it's an attribute of Christ that is extremely important to obtain.
Honestly, this week was just great! We struggled a little bit finding people to teach, but it's ok because we gave our all, and good things still came from it. It was a very spiritual week for me, and I really felt close to my Heavenly Father. And it will be even better this week with General Conference! Woot!!
Well, I love all of you so much! Have a fantastic week!
Love always,
Hermana Smith
Photo: The one with lots of people is Yanet with her kids! And her friend, Reina, also got baptized last Saturday! Such a special day!




March 23, 2015- Week 3 in Mayorazgo!



his week went by really really fast, yikes!! It was a harder week, but we were still able to have lots of good experiences!
Monday night: We found a new investigator (well, kinda!) Her name is Luz, and we contacted her the Saturday before. At first, we weren't really sure how it was gonna go, because when we met her, she told us that she is super Catholic and doesn't make commitments. But we just taught as plainly and directly as we could, and we could see her change right before our eyes. She started opening up more, and ended by telling us that she really wants to learn more! However...she's going to be in Tehuacan for the next month. :P So, I'll go back after transfers (that's if I don't have transfers) and we'll see how things go! We also went to a family home evening with the Primary Presidency! They are really awesome :)
Tuesday: We had a really great lesson with Yanet and her family that night! She is so ready for baptism! She is going to have her interview tonight, and her baptism is Saturday! It's going to be super awesome... I'll tell you why next week! ;) But it was crazy because right when we finished with prayer, the lights when out...in our WHOLE area. It was SO dark, and a little scary. They offered to walk us home because, well, we live in the city and who knows what could happen. It was really nice of them. But we were just so grateful we were with them and not just wandering around in the streets when they went out. God is aware of us, always!
Wednesday: "Como se llama?" worked! I'm not sure if I've explained it, but it translates to "What's their name?" And we're supposed to talk everyone about their family, friends, neighbors, the women that make their tortillas, etc and then ask them their names. It's President Stellmon's new way of receiving references, and it worked! We went to visit some less actives and when they didn't let us in, we just started asking them the names of all of their neighbors. I don't think they even realized what was happening until we wrote them all done then told them we were going to go visit them and see if they were interested! They immediately told us that no one was going to accept...but that wasn't true! The woman who lives in front of them totally let us in and is really interested! Her name is Lupita :) We were very happy to go back to that family that their neighbor had accepted the invitation, and thanks for helping out in the work! They sure were surprised!!
Thursday: We had intercambios and Hermana Newton came with me!! It was just like Cholula all over again! We had a really great day! We visit Yanet and the Lauras, and ate cinnamon bears (who knows where she found them, but i was happy!) This is her first time in her mission that she's serving in the city, but it's really growing on her :) I've always liked the city... I miss the calmness of the pueblitos, but I do like it here.
Friday: Ha, well, this was the day where no one was home....on to Saturday!
Saturday:We had mini-intercambios with Hermana Hymas and Hermana Moya, and I went with Hermana Hymas to her area.  She is super awesome :) We taught a 3-hour lesson that day... it was insane. Their investigator's name is Ricardo and he is SO close to getting baptized...but is just caught up on a few doubts that he has. It didn't matter if we tried to explain the answers, use scriptures, anything... he just couldn't accept what we said. It was a little frustrating, but more than anything, we just did our best to testify of the need to study and pray. We could try to explain things all day long, but it's way more effective when we find out for ourselves. I know that when he gets baptized, he is going to be a great member. I just really hope he can find his answers, or let his faith guide him instead of his questions. 

Sunday: Well, we were finally able to see Magda and Danny after a week of fallen appointments and well, we're not really sure what's going to happen. Danny really wants to get baptized, but his mom and step-dad are not permitting it. Magda has really withdrawn, and they didn't come to church yesterday so... we're going to keep trying to help Danny but who knows what's going to happen. :(

But it was a really great week. Every night this we came home so exhausted that we just planned then crashed. It was hard to work that hard in Cholula, so I sure am grateful for the chance to be here and be so exhausted. I was surprised by how fast the week went, but I think this week is going to go by even faster. If you can keep praying for Yanet, so that everything goes well for her baptism on Saturday!!
Quote of the week:

"Shape up. I say that to myself constantly. Shape up. Stand a little taller. Be a little better, a little stronger, a little more thoughtful, a little humbler, a little more prayerful, that you may be worthy of the guidance of the Lord and of His wonderful blessings."
-President Gordon B. Hinckley
You guys are wonderful! Thank you for all you do!! Have a great week!
Love always,
Hermana Smith


March 16, 2015- Week 2 in Mayorazgo!



This week was so great! Ahh! So many miracles!! I absolutely love it here, and it has been a huge blessing for us.
This week, we were able to find a couple of really awesome new investigators! And they were both just because of being in the right place at exactly the right time. The first one is Narciso, a 74-year old, who is super nice and humble. We had a morning planned with contacting references, visiting less-actives and EVERYTHING fell through. We had no more ideas, then we had the thought to visit the bishop, because earlier he had told us that he had a possible reference for us. We got to his house, and his in-laws were there, talking with Narciso. They invited us over quickly and told us that Narciso was interested in hearing our message. He had come to them for "spiritual advice" a few days before, they gave him a Book of Mormon, and about 5 minutes before we got there, he had returned, wanting to know more! Then we showed up! So we had a lesson with him, he's super interested and he even came to church yesterday! The second is Elizabeth. She is 32, has 3 kids and we contacted her while looking for the address of a less-active. She was super nice, helped us find the building, then invited us to come visit her the next day. She was super attentive, and from what we shared, a lot of it goes along with her beliefs. She wasn't able to go to church yesterday, but we're hoping to see her progress this week as well :)
Janeth is also progressing so much! She is most definitely going to be baptized the next week :) Her eyes are fixed on the 28th and aren't moving. We had a bit of a scare when her boyfriend showed up, but turns out that he's changed a lot and only wants the best for her. She was able to come to church yesterday (we saw the miracle of 4 investigators at church yesterday!) and she is basically a member. She's been attending for more than a year now... for example, this week, we decided to go over tithing and fasting again. And guess what? She already pays tithing and fast offerings. (WHAT??) She sends it with her kids who are already members, but as we taught, she just testified of all the blessings she has seen as a result of paying tithing. Can you say "perfect investigator" any more louder? Haha speaking of perfect investigators...Magda and Danny are incredible. I love them so much. Especially Danny :) We had a couple of really great lessons with them, and he loves reading the Book of Mormon. He marks his favorite parts, and explains them with so much detail. Yesterday, we ate dinner with them after church, and while we were walking to their house, we asked him what he had learning in Primary and he started to explain to us about having a clean and pure heart. He talks like he's 20 years old, I'm not joking. He is going to go places, that's for sure. Madga's less-active husband is putting a bit of a downer on their progress, but I have faith that I'll see at least one of their baptisms.
We also had a couple of great experiences as hermana leaders this week... We have a couple of new fresh out of the MTC hermanas and one was really struggling this past week. Her trainer informed me on Monday that the hermana wanted to go home, then on Tuesday we received a call from President asking us to go visit and talk with her. It was a really incredible experience. I've never really been in a situation that like, and I wasn't really sure what I could say to help. Hna Gomez never was like that either during her training, so I really had no idea. But... the Lord helps us. It was very humbling... and a really great opportunity for us and her trainer to reflect on why we're really here, what blessings have come from serving a mission, and why it is an experience that literally changes our lives. The hermana wasn't feeling perfect when we left, but she was better. We had a little mini-intercambio with them a couple days later, and she came with me to our area. We were able to talk a lot, and it was a blessing to get to know her, recognize her strengths and help her to see them too. ...The mission is hard. Honestly... every single one of us has days when we wonder if we could be doing more at home or in another place. But, we all have to stop for a second and realize what we'd be losing if we gave in to Satan's attacks. There is nothing like the mission. There is no other place where we can learn, change, work, pray, study, grow, self-reflect, suffer (only sometimes), and progress like the mission. The hermana asked me if I regret coming on a mission and I told her never. It's something I'll never regret. Long story short-ish... she has decided to stay and keep trying. :) The things that are the hardest are also the most worth it.
Another "miracle"! We found a restrauant that sells cemitas (they're kinda like sandwiches but super duper good) 2 x 25 pesos!!!! They're so cheap! And it's close to our house! Yay!! haha! For the nights when there is nothing left to eat in the house...haha. I'll take a picture next time :)
The other missionaries in our ward are super great :) Their names are Hermana Avalos (Argentina) and Hermana Rojas (Chihuahua). That in itself is a blessing! When all the missionaries in the ward don't get along...it makes for a long transfer. But when we all get along, it's great :) They are super funny, and super dedicated missionaries. We have grown to be good friends :) The pictures for this week is when we went to eat pizza today together :)
Is anyone else getting super excited for conference?? I've been re-reading some of the talks, and I read the one by Elder Martinez about our "personal ministries". It's a super great talk :) And this was my favorite quote...

The love of Jesus Christ must be our guide if we are to become aware of the needs of those we can help in some way. The teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ, show us the way. And that is how our personal ministry begins: discovering needs, then tending to them. As Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, said, “First observe, then serve.”
-Elder Hugo E. Martinez

I love all of you so very very much! You are all great, and thank you so much for your letters and prayers. I hope everyone has a great week!!
Love always,
Hermana Smith




March 9, 2015- Week 1 in.... Mayorazgo!!

Hey everyone!
Well, as you can see I'm now in Mayorazgo! Tuesday was on of the craziest days ever, definitely the craziest transfers meeting, that's for sure.
Well, this was me and Hermana Lerigeth on our way to the transfers meeting. It sure was hard, the thought of her not being my companion anymore... well, this is my new companion:






SURPRISE! SHE'S STILL MY COMPANION! HAHA!
Yeah, the transfers meeting sure was nuts! I don't know if I've ever explained the transfers meetings, but after President gives a short message, we all stand up, seperate on the two sides of the room, and he just calls us out and puts us in our new areas/companionships. They are super intense moments. She and I were standing together, awaiting our fates... they called zone after zone, and the only ones that were left were Mayorazgo and Atlixco. President then said, "Ok, now opening an area in Mayorazgo, ward Granjas del Sur, Hermana Lerigeth as hermana leader 1 and Hermana Smith as hermana leader 2." I honestly thought he was talking about the other Hermana Smith for a second, until I remember that she didn't have transfers! I wish I had a photo of what my face was like at that moment...I'm sure it was classic! But we were definitely the happiest people in that room that day! Haha, but yup! We're opening a brand new area, and we've been asked to be the hermana leaders for Mayorazgo. This last week has been a LOT of work, but we are enjoying every single second of it.
One of the little challenges has been the fact that, well, we don't know anyone here! But, the ward mission leader is awesome (actually, the whole ward is incredible) and they've been showing us the whole area all week. We only have a couple of progressing investigators, but we put baptismal dates with 3 of them this week! Janeth has been listening for a long time (her whole family, including almost all of her kids, are already members) but she finally committed to a date, saying that she "can't delay her salvation any longer". Her date is for March 28th! Also, there is Magda and her son Daniel (8). Her husband is less-active, have been assisting for almost a year, but her husband keeps telling her that she's not ready yet to get baptized. Men. Haha. But she is really excited, and loves the church. Daniel is THE smartest 8 year old I have ever met! We just love him! He's asks so many good questions, and he loves the gospel too. We set their dates for April! Other than them, we are getting to know others and asking for lots of references! But, we've been working so much, and it's great! It's a huge difference from what it was like in our other area.
The other challenge is that we are hermana leaders, haha. I really thought that I would be a normal missionary for the rest of my mission but the Lord is full of surprises! But there aren't very many hermanas here (not like Atlixco!), and for that I am grateful. There are 5 other companionships besides us. 3 of them have brand new hermanas, fresh from the MTC. But, it's going to be a great learning experience (we're already learning a lot) and we're excited :) On Friday, we were able to go the mission leadership counsel, and it really helped us to know what we need to do more as hermana leaders. One thing that President talked a lot about was revelation. He gave us 5 steps to recieve revelation, which are:
1. Obedience
2. Work with all our heart, might, mind and strength
3. Study and Develop Christ-like Attributes
4. Fast, Pray, and meditate the story of the rich man (Matthew 19:16-21) and ask ourselves "What more do I need to do?"
5. Have confidance in ourselves that God truly is giving us revelation, and it's not just our own ideas
He also told us that...especially as leaders, it's not our job to give all the answers. Our job is creating an environment where the Spirit will help them recieve their own inspiration and answers. Sometimes that can be hard, and sometimes it's just easier to give them what they're asking for. But, that doesn't help us progress or learn. So that is one of my goals for this transfer, to be better at that.
Yesterday morning, I was studying the lesson from the Ezra Taft Benson manuel before church. I just want to share one of my favorite parts of the lesson (I'm sure a lot of you have already read it).

"I hope we will not live in the past. People who live in the past don’t have very much future. There is a great tendency for us to lament about our losses, about decisions that we have made that we think in retrospect were probably wrong decisions. There is a great tendency for us to feel badly about the circumstances with which we are surrounded, thinking they might have been better had we made different decisions. We can profit by the experience of the past. But let us not spend our time worrying about decisions that have been made, mistakes that have been made. Let us live in the present and in the future."

We like to share Mormon Messages with less-actives, members, non-members...everyone! Haha, but one of our favorites is the one where it talks about Lot's wife and how we should never look back. We shouldn't live in the past, nor dwell on our past mistakes, if we've repented of them. There are so many great things awaiting us in the future, but if we're too caught up on what might have been, or what could've changed if we had done something better, then we're going to miss a lot of opportunities. As a missionary, sometimes it's hard to not let thoughts like that creep into our minds. But God knows our hearts and intentions, and if we don't give our all, our job is repent and try harder. It's one thing I love about transfers - we get the chance to just focus on the present and the future. The past area is behind us, and we did all we could. We just have to keep looking forward and not let the past hold us back.
Anyways, I love this area and I'm so happy to still be with Hermana Lerigeth her last transfer! It's going to be so great!! :) I love you all, and I hope you all have a great week!

Love always,
Hermana Smith
Photos:
-So....part of the whole "new house"/opening an area thing was that we had no utensils! (or beds, a mirror, a fridge...lots of things haha) So, this is me eating ramon noodles yesterday with...pencils :) Hermana Lerigeth used an eyebrow plucker, haha
-The landlord, Elias, is a little special. I wish I could write all of our experiences with him in this letter, but they will just have to wait. But one thing he does is he sits at the door (sometimes with his wife) all day long. All day. He's pretty funny. But they take care of us, even if it's with a lot of tough love haha



March 2, 2015- Week 8 in Ometoxtla (And the last!)

Well, we got the transfers call! Hermana Lerigeth and I both have transfers! Hermana Newton too... we're sad to leave Hermana Linford. These last 8 weeks have been the best, especially since we've been living with them. I've learned so much from all of them and they are really like sisters to me. But it'll be exciting to know tomorrow where I'm going and who will be my companion! It's very likely that this will be the last change of my mission...who knows?!

This week was kinda a heart-breaker week with the investigators.... Guille told us that she can't get baptized for family reasons and everyone else doesn't want to progress either. This area has been kinda "dead" for a while, and we're actually pretty sure that President is going to close it. But I know I was here for a reason, and I have changed a lot. Sometimes we have areas to help change us.

I had a lot of new experiences this week... like a lesson with a 7th Day Adventist. That was an adventure! Also, my companion(s) were awesome to remember my birthday :) We ate cheesecake, they gave me cute Little gifts and we just enjoyed Sunday. I can't believe I'm 21 years old!! So crazy! But it's going to be a really great year!

This morning we ate breakfast with a really awesome family in the Ward. And seeing as it was our last day here.... they asked us what experiences have changed us most on the mission. ...I can't think of just one. All of them has changed me in a small way. But all of these experiences have lead me back to one thing - faith in my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesús Christ. Life throws us curveballs. Sometimes, we throw our own curveballs. But if we face them with the right attitude, those experiences will strengthen our faith. And it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, by President Uchtdorf:

"Remember: the heavens will not be filled with those who never made mistakes but with those who recognized that they were off course and who corrected their ways to get back in the light of gospel truth." 

What we do in this life is SO important. And our attitude while we do certain things may be even more important. I love this Gospel because it is a perfect blueprint of how we need to live our lives. It is perfect, and we can trust in every single one of the blessing God has promised. But we have to live by the blueprint in order to receive those blessings. But sometimes....we make mistakes. We get off track. But we can ALWAYS go back. It is never too late. No matter what comes into our lives, we can always start every day fresh and clean as we apply the Atonement to our lives. And that is what I've learned most, and what has changed me the most.

I'm sorry that I don't have a lot of time to write, but I love all of you so much! Thank you for all the birthday wishes, and I hope you all have a wonderful week! You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Love always,
Hermana Smith

Photos:
-Birthday cheesecake!
-BEST DISTRICT EVER. I'm gonna miss all of them so much
We also taught english classes this week and taught everyone the hokey pokey! it was great!