"the best two years and the hardest two years"

Aloha Mom! 

I hope your cruise is going well, sounds fun! How is Natalie feeling about missing out on another trip to Hawaii? Where is she staying at for the week? Can you send me Laurel's address and the other cousins in Idaho as well? I sent a letter to our house with some letters for those in Rexburg, can you forward them for me? Thanks! How long is your cruise? Can't wait to hear about and see pictures. I haven't gotten the Easter Box, I actually haven't gotten mail or anything for like 3 weeks or so. All our letters and stuff go to the mission office and then once a month we get them from the Zone Leaders cause they pick them up. So I think I will get the package and letters at the beginning of this next month. Thanks I am way excited! And for other recipes, not sure. I am just trying to try new things because what I make for my self is really the only variety I receive. I don't mind the food here at all but I like variety too. And ya I can email family members and my mission president. I have an hour each week to e-mail.

I forgot to tell you a few things that happened at the CTM. One morning I woke up and tried to open my glasses to put them on and they snapped in the middle! I put some tape around them and looked like Harry Potter, which was awesome, but it didn't work so well so I am just using my back up pair. I tried to take them to get fixed but they said they couldn't do it. I think because they are a special metal or something so they couldn't solder them. It's all good though! Also I lost like 10 pounds at the CTM. So put that down for my weight in the Losers program. I was about 182 when I left I think!

This week we had a baptism! My first baptism ever and it was in Portuguese! She was a young primary aged girl named Beatriz. She reminds me of Nat a little cause sometimes she is shy and doesn't talk but sometimes she is not. One time we went over there with the primary president and her and her other young cousins (One is baptized) had set out chairs in a circle and were reading the Book of Mormon and waiting for us. So cool! They seem very excited about the gospel and her cousin wants to get baptized too. We are going to try and work with their families too because although they have each other, family is very important in growing in the gospel. It is so cool to see people interested in the church, accept your message and be baptized!

We are working a lot with another lady to try and help her quit smoking. We brought the Bishop to a lesson with us and he talked about his conversion. Our Bishop is awesome. 4 years ago he used to smoke and drink and everything under the sun. He is now a Bishop sealed to his family and his children are active in the Church. It was nice to have him there and share stories of his experience and conversion. The lady we are teaching has continued to smoke but I think she is doing better. We are going over there tonight to see how everything is going and see how we can help. She has two sons that were recently baptized. They are really awesome. We are trying to work with the whole family. It is ideal if they whole family can become engaged and help each other grow in the Gospel.

Other than that we have been doing a lot of street contacts. We have a few refferals we have this week which is great. The young men in the ward are helpful and I am beginning to understand more about what is going on! We are going to try to start an English class. We hear it works very well in finding people to teach and so we are going to try and organize something this week.

On Saturday while we were setting up for the Baptism, I helped bring a wagon over some hedges. The Relief Society brought a wagon into the cultural hall for an activity! To get it in there they had to turn it on it's side and scoot it through the doors, through the chapel, and into the cultural hall! It was pretty crazy! I was laughing though. Pretty cool. People are relaxed here and they like to have fun and smile.

Well I am still trying to figure a lot out but I am beginning to see how a mission is the best two years and the hardest two years. I felt so happy for Beatriz to be baptized. I know the gospel will bless her life so much because it has with mine. I can tell the joy she had even from before her baptism til after she was baptized and received the Holy Ghost. I also know that it is hard to see people who won't accept our message. Because I know it will help them so much but they choose not to and we can't do much about it. It is hard when this happens but I know I must not get discouraged but find those who will receive our message and help them change their lives and enjoy the blessings of the Gospel. No one is beyond the reach of the Gospel if they will but have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. The gospel is simple. It is the way for happiness in this life and forever. I am grateful for the knowledge of the Gospel that I have. The knowledge that I know it is true. Thanks for everything! I hope you all are having fun! Can't wait to hear about your trip! 

I love you and miss you all! We get to skype May 13th!

Your favorite son,

Elder Isaac Theodore-able Smith

"this week has been a culture shock!"

Thanks Dad! 

I have been wanting new pictures! They are awesome! I am going to try and put them on my SD card and make prints for my photo album. I use my photo album when I talk about families to investigators. I think one of the greatest blessings of the Gospel is how the Gospel blesses families. I noticed that especially this conference there was alot of talk about families, I know the family is definitely ordained of God and is the best way to learn life lessons, attributes, and the Gospel. 

Well this week has been a culture shock! My area is different from São Paulo and way different than America! I learned some key lessons this week. In Brasil you don't flush your toilet paper, you throw it in the trash! No one told me this for a few days, we are lucky to not have had a clog! Also you would be proud of me Dad, the shower drain doesn't drain that fast so they key is to turn it on, soak yourself, then apply soap, then turn it on again and rinse. I am learning to conserve water! Sometimes there are these VW vans (pickles) that drive around with like 10 subwoofers on the roof of the vans and blast music. And some other places that just play music so loud. I have seen horses and donkeys pulling carts and almost all the roads in my area are either cobblestone or dirt! Dad, search for Nova Republica, that's my area. Not sure of any specific address but if that doesn't work I will try to find a more specific one this week.

The members here are very cool. There is a young man about 15 that went tracting with us this week and helped us pick up members for church. He is very cool. We have lunch with members every day except P-Day. They are very nice, there is one couple that reminds me of Andrea and Abe, or Jake and Mel. Mainly because the guy likes to tease me and his wife just laughs and helps me out. Just makes me feel at home! Church this week was awesome. This whole week has been such a culture shock and a big change but when we went to church, I felt at home! I felt the same Spirit I feel wherever I go to church. It is so cool that the church is the same everywhere and that whereever we go, the same principles are being taught and the same spirit is present. It is a testimony builder to me. I offered to play the piano because I guess they have NO one to play! The bishop seemed pretty excited and so next week I will play. I don't play all the hymns perfectly but I think I'll be able to get by! Ideally I could pick the hymns, but we'll see what happens. Oh and we also two converts confirmed this Sunday so that was cool!

The language is coming along, I don't speak to well but I am begginning to understand better. They use alot fo slang and shortcuts so I have to learn those but alot of what they say I learned in the CTM. It would be super helpful if when everyone spoke there were subtitles in my mind because I have a hard time just knowing what word that say, not necessarily what it means! Tell the young men in the world that along with studying and living the gospel to prepare for a mission, get really good at charades!

Well I don't have too much time because I want to get those pictures onto my SD card but thanks for the e-mail! Letters and e-mails on the mission are like presents on Christmas! I hope everything is well back home. I miss you all very much. I love you all very much too! Give the sobrinhos a hug and kiss for me. 

Much Love from Brasil,
Your favorite Son,

Elder Isaac Thedore Smith

Finally Here in the Real World of Brasil!

Hey Family! 

Thanks for the letter Mom, it is so nice to hear from you all! It has been crazy getting here to my area, I left yesterday morning and had two plane rides, then we met the Mission President and His wife and had an orientation thing at the chapel. Then we went to the Presdient's apartment and had dinner and açai and a brief testimony meeting and took some pictures. I slept over at the AP's apartment with some other missionaries and we left this morning on a bus to Natal, that's the name of the city! My area is called Nova Republica and my trainer's name is Elder Jensen. He is from draper Utah and he's an awesome guy, everyone keeps telling, me how lucky I am. We live with two other missionaries, one is American and the other Brazilian. The American's name is Elder Stutz and he is from Puyallup. I guess he knows Jo Jo and I think he knows Uncle Al aswell. 

So I am finally here in the real world of Brasil! I definitely feel like I am in a different country now. So much Portuguese. It doesn't feel so much like a movie set like it did before when I would walk around the CTM in São Paulo. I don't know much about my area because all I've done so far is arrive, eat lunch, unpack a little, went to a store and came here to e-mail. Today is our P-day but I think the rest of the day I will unpack more, meet the bishop and maybe some other people in the ward, and go tracting. It is crazy to believe it is finally  starting. I will be able to tell you more about the area next week. 

Sounds like everything is going great! I'm sad I missed Easter! Some of the wifes of the branch presidency's at the CTM made us cupcakes so that was pretty awesome. My district leader also made some paper eggs with candy and we did a little Easter egg hunt sunday night. I missed all you alot though! 

We went Proseliding monday in downtown São Paulo! It was way fun, at first I was hesitant to open my mouth and also to bring up religion, but I was able to do both and after a whille I was really enjoying it! Alot of the people we talked to were very open and willing to listen to us. Since we aren't the actual missionaries in the area we just gave them a Book of Mormon with the number for the missionaries there. I hope they call! It feels so cool to share your beleifs with others. It is hard sometimes for me to just randomly talk to people father than oi or boa tarde, but I know if they accept this message it will bless their lives so much as it has mine. And that part of my testimony helps me to share what I know! 

Well I love you! I hope to have some more stories to share with you next week! I will let you know how my first week in my first area goes! I am excited and ready to start getting in the swing of things. It will be nice! I love you all and miss you so much! Please send pictures when you can! You are the best!

Love, Elder Smith

A Visit To The Temple

Dear Family,

We are pleased to be able to send you a picture of your missionary´s recent visit to the temple.  The morning they enter as a group is a very sacred experience for them, and it is an experience that is always anticipated with much excitement. We know they will treasure this remembrance. 
It is a great honor to serve with each of these fine young people and to watch their growth as they learn more about their sacred calling of a missionary.  We have a great love and respect for each one of them.
Thank you for your support for them.  They love to receive emails and letters from you, and feel of your love.  We know that your family will feel the blessings of their service.


President and Sister Degn


Date: Tue, Apr 3, 2012 

Thanks Dad!
Ya Brasil is a cool place! That's crazy everyone is out of town, how are you keeping up? How is Charlotte doing? Is Laurel coming home for the Summer?

Conference was great here. They packed a bunch of us North Americans into a room and we got to watch it in English. I can't even choose a favorite talk, I thought they were all so good! It seems they were focusing alot on families which is great! I could really tell how important families are to the Lord. I am so blessed to have such an awesome family and parents! I think back on the most common advice I got before leaving. The three things I was told alot were be perfectly obedient, love the people and the Lord, and work hard! I am grateful for the examples my family is to me. Dad, although you and my mom carry both love and hard work, I think from you I have definitely learned the value of hard work. And from Mom, lots of love for people! I couldn't ask for a better combination. And everyone else in our family is awesome too, but time will limit such expounding!

Well I leave next Tuesday for the feild! My language is definitely not up to par but I know it will all work out! I was talking to some South Americans at a meal the other day and I felt pretty good. The only problem is there are alot of different accents and speed of speech, so it really justs depends on who I am talking to at the moment. I have met alot of people going to Maceió, I tell them all to look for my cousin Sister Johnson! Could you find out her address for me? I really want to write here! And mail goes pretty fast here in Brasil I heard so it will be nice to get a reply sooner than like 3 weeks!

So what did you do at the convention Dad? I feel very detached from the world down here, I think it will begin to come back a little more by next week! What's new? How is America? I think it is beginning to sink in more that I am actually in a foreign country. We proselide next Monday so that will be awesome, the real test of what I have learned thus far!

Last week we went to lunch on our P-Day at a joint called ''Churraskaria'' (Sp?). It is so good! They have all you can eat meat which includes chicken, steak, and some other stuff... I stick with the chicken and steak! Also they have rice and beans and fruit and veggies all you can eat. Anyway it's only 14 reais! That doesn't include drink but still.. and the food is awesome. We are going there again today with our instructor (Irmão Leo). Last week we went with Irmão Vander (our other instructor).

Well thanks for the e-mail! Hearing from people is seriously so nice! I never realized it could be but that was because I guess I always took it for granted! I miss you all very much! Another awesome thing I learned from conference this week is not judging others. I love the bumper sticker President Utchdorf quoted that said, ''Don't judge me because I sin differently than you''. We are all children of God and we all have perfections. We cannot judge unrighteously. If we always have the Spirit with us, and follow the promptings we receive, we will be lead on the path back to our Heavenly Father. I am beginning to see more about just how clear the Gospel really is! It's amazing that something so simple can have so much power in our lives. I know this Gospel is true and my conviction continues to grow.

I love you all! and Miss you! Please send pictures when you get the chance! I will start sending some when I can as well, and when I take a few.. I haven't taken many yet!

How is Grandma? How is everything going with her? I will write her today so tell her to be watching for a letter!
Thanks for all the support! I pray for you all everyday!

Elder Smith

Bizik's Solo

Date: Tue, Mar 27, 2012

Hey Family!
Thanks for the letter mom, it is always nice to get updates from home! I hope you have an awesome time going to see baby Charlotte! So how do you spell it? You, Dad, and Mel have now spelled it three different ways! Natalie I'm way happy you got to go to the Temple and do baptisms, that's awesome! Also about your MRI, I probably have done about 4 or 5 of them in the last couple years and don't worry about it! At first you may think it is scary but just close your eyes and imagine you are in a space ship or something! You'll feel like your at disneyland! And the dye is weird I admit, but it feels cool. Trust me you will be okay! Hope the YW broadcast went well and Dad I hope your delegate meeting went good! I'll miss being with you at the Preisthood Session this week! We get to watch conference this weekend so I'm pretty pumped for that!
So this week has flown by! One funny thing that happened was I got a note asking me to see the Choir Director for like a men`s sextet. I thought oh ya I can do this if there are six of us. Well when I got there she started reading out the plan for the song and who was assigned to sing a solo for verse 2? Elder Smith! I was freaking out because I have never sang a solo in front of people in that kind of setting ever! So I asked if we could get a few guys to sing with me so it wasn't so bad and they agreed. About halfway through the run through of the song, the director stopped playing piano and realized she had summoned the wrong Elder Smith! So that was awesome and the whole situation has been resolved!
Some other fun things that have happened thus far, on the way to the temple last week we saw a barge being propelled by a CAT (like landscape machine) through the canal between the highway which was pretty cool. Also today I saw how they pick up trash, the truck kind of just drives and there are two workers running along side grabbing the bags and tossing them in, pretty cool! One night this week when we were studying outside (which is awesome here by the way, around 7 or 8 in the evening with the humid Brazil air and soft breeze, sitting next to a mango tree, hope I'm not making too many of you jealous!) there was like a street party going on. We could smell the BBQ and hear the music. The culture here is just way awesome!
Sunday was great. We had an awesome testimony meeting and it was just nice to see all the guys I have been with these past few weeks really share what they believe. I have to say thanks alot family for being so great (sarcastic tone), you pretty much made me cry while I was talking about you! And also Sunday night the President of the São Paulo North Mission came to speak. He was the first black member of the church to serve a mission! He had so much power and it was way inspiring.
This week I have learned many important things. One is don't judge others for doing things different or being different. We are all different and we have different strentghs and weaknesses. Be true to yourself and who you are. KorrUPted Crew sang it best when they said, ``It doesn`t take much just to be real, you don`t have to try hard just do what you feel``(for the whole song contact Bryce). We all have special talents and skills and God will use us in our own capacities to fulfill his work here on this Earth. I am learning more and more each day and the language is beginning to be easier and easier each day slowly! I know the Lord is helping me and will continue to help me as I strive do fulfill his work. I am so grateful to serve a mission and I am excited to help others! The Lord has given me so much and so I`m blessed for this chance to serve him with all my time and effort.
I love you and miss you so much family! Just two more weeks in the MTC! Thanks for all your support and being so awesome! I sent a few letters to you guys (Hanes, Hudsons, Laurel). I hope you get them soon! Tchau!
Elder Smith