"I learned a lot about the role of testimony in our work this week..."

Date: Jul 23, 2012 7:40 AM

Ola Família,

These are some pictures from ''Mãos que ajuda'' (Helping hands). It was fun, we were putting rice and beans in 2 liter soda bottles. There were alot of rice and beans there! Afterwards they did a soccer tournament thing in that stadium, it was cool.

That trampoline looks awesome! I can't wait to test it out, cool birthday present. The backyard looks way different nice work dad. Do the preschoolers get to play with the tramp also? We have had a tramp at every house since vintage! Happy Birthday to you all Paige, Jake and Natalie! Sounds like everything is going well back home. 

Well the weeks are seeming to fly by! Last P-Day was pretty fun, we went to an all-you-can eat BBQ. They had meat on these big shishkabobs and they would come to your table and you would just say how much you wanted and they would cut it for you. They just kept coming the whole time with more meat. And I ate... chicken heart... on purpose! It actually tasted good, just weird texture. I think I am starting to adapt well to the culture. The other day we were teaching a man in his garage thing and during the lesson a chicken randomly came out from behind his chair. It actually took me a little while to realize that that isn't what I am used to. 

I learned a lot about the role of testimony in our work this week. We were teaching some people who are ancient investigators, but we thought we would give it a whirl again. They don't really believe much in a God. More of just a greater spirit that is kind of just present in our world. Long story short we were using our knowledge alot trying to convince them using logic and what not, but it wasn't going very far. I finally just slowed down the lesson, bore testimony and shared a scripture, and my companion bore testimony aswell. The whole lesson changed. It is easy for people to deny your logic and rational, but it's not easy for someone to deny your testimnoy of what you know to be true. I am grateful for the spirit that was there and the prompting I had to just bear simple testimony.

Well I love you all and hope you have a great week! Thanks for the pictures, they are awesome. I think about you all and pray for you. I am grateful to be here on my mission, it is such an awesome oppurtunity and I hope I can be the kind of missionary you all are thinking I am.


Elder Smith

"with every trial, I know there is a reward"

Date: Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 7:22 AM


Andrea and Abe are moving?! That's awesome! I feel way excited and I won't even be there! When are they moving? Will they live in U.P.? Is this job going to last a while or is it just temporary? Sounds like things are going great over there in the States. Congrats to Laurel as well with the internship. I met a graphic designer on the street the other day. I told him about how my sister does the same stuff, it's cool when you can relate to people like that.

Well Brazil is.. Brazil! The language is coming along well, my next step I think is to try and lose my accent. I slowly am beggining to pick up smaller details as I liten to Brazilians talk. It is almost weird to hear English now. There is one American in our house and it is almost impossible to talk only english to him, we always break our in portuiguese or just talk portuguese all together. The gift of tongues is real! I was thinking the other day how it could be that I am sitting here in Brasil teaching the Gospel and carrying on conversations, when less than 5 months ago I was struggling to pronounce the name of my mission!

Well I usually write down a few things during the week to make sure I include in the email, here are a few.

Happy 7-11 day! I know it's late but when the 11th rolled around I just had to think of a nice slurpee. So sad that there are no 7-11's here but that's okay. 

We started teaching the first lesson to members this week as a way of finding new investigators and strengthening members. It has worked really well. We will teach the first lesson about the restoration, and then we turn the lesson over to the members and they have to teach us about the Book of Mormon and invite us to read it. It has been so awesome seeing the testimonies of our members. Then we invite them to invite one of their friends to read the Book of Mormon or talk to about the Gospel or invite the missionaries over. We have a family night tonight with a member and their neighbor's, I'm pretty excited. 

Also, we have started a family night every thursday at the chapel as a way to help members, less-actives, and non-members create friendships and be strengthened spiritually. Last week it rained but we still had 29 people and 3 investigators. It was so humbling to see how far some of the people walked in the rain just to be there for an hour. The family of our bishop lives about 20-25 min away by walking and the Bishop's wife and four kids all came under their umbrella's, I love these people. We went to pick up a less-active and he drove us there in his car. While he was driving, honking at everyone he knew (which was alot), he looks over at me and asks if I know how to drive. At the same time he was staring at me and asked me the question, I was watching the road as he almost hit a few pedestrians! I simply replied ''yes''. In my mind my response was more like, ''YA!!! DO YOU?!?!?!''. 

During a lesson this week with a man named Sandro, some cool things happened. We asked him who could pray to start and he said, ''I will''. During his prayer we had to help him a little. He is catholic and only really knows one of their prayers (it is a recited prayer). During the lesson we talked about sacrificing and Marcello, a recent-convert, told a story about how he turned down a 200$ haircut because it was sunday. (Marcello cuts hair) And now he says everyone knows he won't cut hair sunday and so the just ask him to do it other days. And at the end of the lesson, we asked Sandro again who would give the closing prayer, and he offered again! He is a funny guy. Another funny story about him, we invitied him to the family night but he said he didn't have a big enough umbrella. So I gave him mine and said he had to bring it back tonight at family night, sure enough he came! 

Well I love you all very much! So cool to hear about the great things happening over there. I have so much I could tell you all every week, so many miracles that happen here. Yes there are many trials, but the rewards outway the trials. And with every trial, I know there is a reward. Whether the reward be for me or another of God's children, there is a reward. 

I hope you all have a great week and I love you all very much! Thanks for you prayers and support, I am so grateful for all that I have. 

-Isaac Theodore Smith

P.S. A sister in the ward gave me this Harry Potter book, I told I can't read it on my mission but she still wanted me to have it to read after the mission. Pretty cool! 


Date: Jul 9, 2012 7:16 AM

Tudo bem!

Glad you got the letter dad, and thanks for the pictures! I want to have some pictures to show investigators a little about baptism! That is a pretty awesome story abou Beau too, I remember Beau always used to have good stories. And pretty funny about the Del Toro's saying ''what would Isaac do?'' I definitley didn't deserve that but I'll take the compliment!  

Elder Paiva is from Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sol. It is in the South of Brasil. And yes I am definitely learning more about my faults and strengths and I am improving with my language! I am seeing a new side of the culure here too and I am undersanding the culture a little better as well!

Well funny story time. We had a lunch appointment fall this week and the Sister gave us money to buy a quentinha (rice, beans, meats, pasta, veggies). When it came to selecting the meat I just chose what looked good and what I saw someone else get. My companion didn't order anyhing because he said he didn't like those meats. But I thought I had already tried most of them so I thought I was safe. Well long story short, the first bite was very gross. And I asked my companion what it was and he said ''sangue'' (blood). Well we looked it up and I guess it was actually liver. Yuckk!!!! But still I think it was basically blood. Oh well! A good experience, you live and you learn!

Well this week was pretty good. There was a soccer game on the fourth of July. So in turn, I recieved more of a war-type firework show this year with people yelling and honking after the game ended. The whole town erupted! Soccer is huge here!

Well our program that we are doing with less-actives is going well. We had a few less-actives at church sunday, one of them a guy we are teaching again who was a counselor in the young men's, it was great to see him there! We are also teaching another less-active named Darilo. His wife and two sons are very active, one son is getting sealed in December. We are helping him return with a goal to have their whole family sealed in the temple the same day! It is really cool and he has a desire to change. His wife is awesome, and she really wants this too!

Well we are working to strenghen our ward here alot. Whether it be through baptisms, helping less-actives return, or even just strengthening the active members. We are having a ward family night thursday and I am pretty excited for that! There is a lot of work to do, and I am glad to be a part of it!

Well I love you all! I hope you have an awesome week! I am realizing that when I feel most tired, that is the time when I feel the most Spirit and support of the Lord. He really is helping us here in this great work. Thanks for everything!

Tchau for now!

Your favorite son,

Elder Smith!

"I was almost kissed yesterday!"

Date: Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Ola família!

Well thanks for sending that Mom and thanks to Laurel too for the package and card! I am pretty excited. Sounds like a great reunion, thanks for the pictures Dad they are great! Tell Nolan I hope he feels better too! I hope you all have a great 4th of July, there have been some fireworks (bombs basically) here lately because of some holidays, seems like every day is a Holiday here, so hopefully we will get some fireworks for the fourth of July aswell. 

Well My new companion Elder Paiva is great. He is a great teacher of Gospel principles, he teaches very clearly and with alot of power, I'm pretty excited learn from him because I am not a very good teacher yet and I think I could learn alot from him. He is cool though, he knows English pretty well but we mainly just speak portuguese because I need to learn better, it's really nice because I can ask him words I don't know and he usually knows. He also is really great with people and with using ward members in the work. We made a plan for missionary work for the ward and also worked with the Ward Counsel Sunday to help us in our work and to involve more of the ward in our work. Things are going well and there is alot of work, but it is really fun and I am loving it!

One funny story, I was almost kissed yesterday! A lady went to shake my hand and then she leaned in for my cheek and I kind of froze and kind of leaned forward cause I didn't know what to do and I didn't want to offend her. Thankfully she like just made the sound but no contact. My heart was beating so fast. 

Yesterday was a great day. Church was awesome and we had a great sacrament meeting. Something cool here is that even though there aren't many people, I am yet to sit through one of the akward silences where no one goes up to bear their testimony. There is always people just waiting to bear their testimonies, and everyone's testimony is so strong. The members here are smaller in number but they seem to really believe in this Gospel. Also they love the missionaries. They talk about how greatful they are to have us. I don't feel wothy of their praise but it is well welcomed! I love our ward.

I got asked to accompany the relief society in a musical number for ward council and also to accompany a young woman aswell. It's pretty funny because the piano is so out of tune I sometimes wonder if it would be better if I just didn't play! But it seems like they like it and I am able to practice and use my talent so I am liking it.

Well I love you all very much! Thanks for the letters you have been sending they keep me going! I am so grateful for you all in my life and for the Gospel aswell. I am so blessed and I am glad to be here serving those who are in much need of the blessings which I have freely recieved. I know that the Gospel is true and that Christ is the center of our Heavenly Father's plan.

Have an awesome week! Life's a sponge, soak it up!

Elder Isaac Theodore Smith

P.S. If we have a picture of my baptism can you send it to me next week?

P.S.S. Can you tell Uncle Russ I got the five dollars and tell him thank you and that I am sending a letter for him Wednesday?

P.S.S.S. My companion and another Elder made a ping-pong table in our house and we had a tourney! I lost pretty bad

"A couple funny things that happened this week..."

Date: Jun 25, 2012 at 3:24 AM 

What a weekend! Sounds like a lot of good stuff happened! 

All that food at the party sounds pretty awesome right now! Also that sounds like an awesome event! I wish I could have been there! I loved all the youth activities that we had, and olympics sounds like an awesome theme! Sounds like alot of planning though, I'm sure the youth loved it. Dad keep that flag for me!  

Well transfers were today! I am staying in my same area but I received a new companion, Elder Paiva. He is from Porto Alegre (down south) and very great! We haven't had much time to talk and no time to work together or teach together but I am still pretty excited to get going and all! We have alot of great things going on, alot of great new investigators and a new plan to work well with the ward in place. There is alot of work to do. Elder Paiva was in this same area his first transfer on the mission so he already knows alot of the ward! 

A couple funny things that happened this week I saw a kid just pull down his pants and pee in the middle of the road and my companion burned our pan because he forgot to put water under the cuscuz. Good stuff. This week we had some miracles too though.  

One day we went out to work and not much was happening. My companion remembered something our district leader told us about praying specifically for what we needed that day. We then went home quick to pray and pray specifically to meet our goals and to really show we wanted some sucess that day. Well that day we worked very hard and miracles happened. We met all our goals. We remebered this power that came through prayer throughout the week and we had the best week we have ever had I believe. So cool. 

Also some other cool things, Marcello's family at first was a little hesitant and kind of against him joining the church. Saying he didn't need to be baptized again and stuff, but he overcame and is being very strong. His mom is starting to sit in on lessons with us and I think they're hearts are changing. His mom even said that she might come to an activity this weekend! Also a less-active who hadn't been to church for awhile came sunday. We went to her house yesterday to talk to her more and she said she has been wanting to return and she saw us on the street but we were too far away so she didn't say anything. But she went to church by herself sunday, she said she almost turned around and went home a few times because she was so nervous. But she came, and now she has asked us to teach her again and we gave her another Book of Mormon and she has a great desire to return to church, very awesome. I am hoping we can baptize her husband too, it would be so great for them! 
\We have been visiting many inactives as part of this new program. One sad thing I have realized, is that there are people who still have a testimony of the church. We asked them do you still believe it's true? Do you believe it is the way? And some say yes. They just need friends and support. I really would like to help these people. One of them said she would go to an activity this weekend and so I'm excited for that.  

This week there was a funeral for a baby of an investigator of the Elders that live with us. Here things are very different, she passed away in the morning, had the service in the afternoon, and burial at night. It was very sad and I am not exactly sure why it is that way here. I am thinking they don't embalm maybe or didn't have the money to keep the body for awhile? I am not exactly sure. My companion played the violin and the bishop spoke and it was a nice service. Short, but nice. They are a very young couple and I hope that the dad will return to church and the wife will get baptized and they can enjoy the blessings of the gospel here and after. 

The activity we are having this weekend is for São João. A crazy holiday, all I really understand is that people make huge fires in the middle of the road and eat alot of corn. I'm sure there is more significance but I don't really know it yet! But I am excited for a Brazilian party this weekend with our stake!  

Well I love you and miss you all very much! Thanks for everything you all do for me! I talk about my family alot because you all are a great inspiration for me everyday to be the best missionary I can be.  

Your favoritest son in the World, 

Elder Isaac Theodore Smith 

 P.S. Can you send that picture of Dave and Bryndi again? It didn't really work well. 

P.S.S. It has been raining and I keep using my umbrella I bought as a wand like Hagrid! 

On Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 3:24 AM, ted smith smith.theo50@gmail.com> wrote: 

> Oi Isaac, 

"we have been making brownies almost twice a day"

Date: Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM


That's a sweet story about the lady at the park Mom! I bet you are missing your little boy! Sounds like a crazy week at home with all the young little ones. Congratulations Mom! I remember my senior year when we would do homework at the same time. So is this it? Or will you pursue more schooling? Tell Nat I feel sorry for her and her loss of friends, but she will be going to big CJHS next year and will join will all the narrowsview nerds. Sounds like the open house for Bryndi will be great too.

So yesterday we went to walk with an investigator to church. When we got there we saw that he had a car and so instead he drove and we picked up another recent convert. It was so scary! Everyone in Brasil drives like they are an hour late to everything. And to make it better, we got encountered a motorcycle going very slow with a man holding a rope with a horse attached to it. So great! Well it made it safely and were able to do a church tour before with the extra time. 

We started a new program this week called Resgate. We now have a list of every member in the ward and we are going to go around to all the in-actives and try to reactivate them and also try to find other people to teach. We have about 620 members in the ward and usually about 70 people in Sacrament on average. I think that we have like 105 or so ''active'' members. Also we will be able to see if alot of these people even still live here. It will really help us get a more real number of the attendance percentage at church. I am hoping that maybe if we can find members with more family who haven't been baptized we can help reactive them and bring their family or friends into the church. People will be much more likey to come everyweek when they have friends or family or both in the Church. Also we will always have someone to go visit if an appointment falls through. I am pretty excited for the new program. We will still do alot of what we already do already but this will be an extra thing to help out the work. 

Well we have been making brownies almost twice a day since last P-Day. We were able to find all the ingredients and there are just so easy to make and so addicting. We made an awesome pizza today (check photo) too. 

Well things are going well, we have transfers next Wednesday so I won't be able to email until then. My training ends this transfer so after I will be just a normal missionary! Not sure if I will be transfered or get a new companion or what. We don't know until the night before at like 10 o'clock! But I feel like there will be some changes.

Well I love you all very much! I hope all is well at home and I am excited for grandma to move in! You'll have to send pictures when the remodeling or rearranging is complete. Have a great week and thanks for everything! I have the best family in the world! I talked about you all when I was teaching about eternal families, probably one of the easiest parts and of my favorite parts of the Gospel for me to talk about is families! Miss you!

Elder Isaac Theodore Smith

"I am starting to hate the word can't"

Date: Mon, Jun 11, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Wow sounds like a weekend!

Cool you got to see the old house and all. Has the ward changed much? I can't believe Andrea and Mel will be there! That's awesome! Tell them all I miss them. And eat some good treats for me! 

One cool thing that happened this week, again was with Marcello. He is doing great, he even wore wore church clothes to the Manaus Temple dedication, so cool to se him all giddyed up. But also we taught a lesson with him this week to a new investigator. It was cool because he was bearing testimony about prophets and apostles and sharing some stories. He really liked it, and I did too! It was cool to see someone we helped into the gospel already helping others.

Speaking of the Manaus Temple, we went to a cultural celebration Saturday night, it was cool! It was just televised from Manaus but President Utchdorf was there and the dances and music made me want to start groovin'! Sunday morning we went to the first session of the Dedication, it was awesome. They talked alot about the dedication that the members in Manaus have shown. About all the time, prayer, fasting, and effort they have put in to get a Temple there. I just think of the success they have reached there and I know I am playing a large role in the work now as a full-time missionary. Not that I feel like I am doing too much, but every little help counts and I am grateful to be a part of the growth here.

So our bathroom was pretty bad when I arrived here. It would bubble up a little and some food from the kitchen sink would come up in the shower when you used the sinks alot. Well we just kind of dealed with it for awhile and then finally we stopped using it cause it was gross. I wanted to get it fixed though because I knew it would keep getting worse and I didn't wanna just leave the problem (I learned this from Dad). Well I tried talking to people but they said you can't fix it and they already tried talking to the landlord so we'll just leave it and that we can't fix it. Well, like you Dad I am starting to hate the word can't! I have to say I did just leave it for awhile cause I didn't know what to do(and we have 2 bathrooms). We called the Mission President's wife and she said we could find a plumber. Well I decided to ask some members and one didn't know a plumber but suggested the stuff that clears up pipes, the stuff that can like burn your skin! So I bought some for 4 reais (2 dollars) and now it's all good! It was nasty and took a while to clean but it feels good to have fixed a problem rather than cover it up or leave it. Thanks for teaching me this prinicple Dad! I attached some photos of before and after!

Mom did you get my letter for Mother's Day? Also I think I might try and get some glasses next week so maybe make sure I have some money in my account, I don't exactly how much but if it's over like 100 dollars (200 reais) I don't think I'll do it. Maybe they can just fix my old ones or use the same lenses.

Well things are going well. We have an investigator who has been really busy but has been wanting to be baptized. His name is Felipe. His semester ends next week and he has been reading the Book of Mormon and living his committments. He has a friend in the Gospel too. We will be able to baptize him and help him further in the Gospel once his college ends. His baptism is scheduled for the 24th! He has an awesoem family too, I want to teach them aswell!

Well I love you and miss you all! I hope you all have a great week with the kiddies! Sounds like a handful but also a fun bunch! Send pics if anything funny happens! I think about you and talk about you guys alot! Not in a trunky way, but in a I love my family way!

Tchau tchau! 

Elder Smith