Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 25, 2015- The Last Week


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

-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

-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