Date: Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 6:49 AM
Thanks for the letter that cam wrote on his blog. Sounds like he is doing great there. I have written him a few times but I am waiting for a response right now. That's way cool that brother lybbert was called bishop! He will be an awesome bishop. That's cool you guys got to go to the temple. Yesterday we had a district conference and they talked alot about going to the temple and how the temple needs to be the focus of the district. They told lots of stories about temple experiences and I learned alot. (District is like a smaller stake). Thanks for that scripture Mom. I love that one. I hope I can strive to be that kind of person. With the world how it is today, we need to be stronger and more prepared than ever before.
Well My first few days here in Guarabira were great. It has been super busy and I have been pretty tired. Our district (district of missionaries) is really awesome. It is just us and a companionship of sisters. The sisters are awesome! They work so hard and bring a great spirit to the work. I think every area needs sisters! We are serving in the same ward so we do alot of things with them. (Lunch, meetings with the ward mission leader, family nights, etc.) Our area is pretty big aswell. We had to get on a big traveling bus for like 40 minutes to go teach some investigators and eat lunch with a member. Luckily it's pretty cheap so it's not to bad. We take care of a district and a group in another city. We mainly stay here in Guarabira and work with the branch but sometimes we got out to a city called Belém (Bethlahem) and work there when there are really strong investigators who are going to church and want to be taught. The members out there help us aswell teach some of the lessons but we have to go out there to do things that only missionaries can do (invitations to be baptized and stuff). It is a very new experience and I am still getting used to it. But the people here are very nice and I am liking it so far.
My companion is really great. He is very funny but also teaches very well. He is realy excited to do the work and is teaching me alot of things. He knows how to work well with people and how to get people to talk to us. The people in this city remind me a little of the people in my first area. They are very nice and usually will accept our message. But we need to find those that will not only accept our message but also act on it. It is pretty easy to know if someone is really interested because they don't tell you that didn't have time to read the Book of Mormon and what not. They fulfill their commitments and show true desire to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love watching people fulfill their commitments becuase I know it is the only way they will be able to grow closer to their Father in Heaven.
Some funny stories this week. When we went traveling to go visit some investigators, we passed through a little town called bananeiras which in english means banana trees. There were so many banana trees! I took some pictures of the banana trees but when we got to the town square my camera died and I didn't get a picture of the banana statues.
I was studying a book called Jesus the Christ today and I was reading about the sermon on the mount. I learned alot of new things I have never noticed. I like how Christ took lots of things people thought were okay and told them that they needed to live a higher law. We should always try to do this in our lives. Wherever we´re at we can improve. It's interesting how easy it is to fall and become weaker and how dificult it is to become stronger. When we are trying to become stronger it feels like we are going nowhere. When we stop trying, we fall quickly.
But things are going good here. I won't be able to send you guys pictures today because I am still looking for my adapter thing and the guy here at the internet cafe doesn't know where his is. But I will try to get some off next week.
There is a good amount of work to be done here. We have some good investigators and we are hoping to see some progress this week from them. This transfer will be really short because there are going to be alot of missionaries coming in and I think they have to get them out of the MTC faster.
I really hope everything is going well back home. I miss you all and hope everything continues to go well. Tell Nolan happy bird-day for me.
Date: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 7:30 AM
Well sounds like a fun week with the wedding and all! That's way cool Eric got married. They look very happy. Yes it has been pretty warm here. I am thinking it has been more than just 75 to 90 but maybe it's because we have to be out there all day in church clothes!
Well I have finally left Geisel. I was transferred to a new area call Guarabira in Paraiba state. It is a super cool town. I will have to take some pictures for you guys. It is a much smaller city than I have been in. But it is still really cool. There are lots of farms around the town and the town itself just has a really unique style. There is like a main road that has cool stuff and I am pretty excited to be serving here. In the city there are two companionships. Us and two sisters. Together we take care of a branch and a group (a group is smaller than a branch). It sounds like we have a really great branch and the work is going along well here. I am pretty excited. I don't know much because I got here like a few hours ago but Monday I should have some better information.
Geisel was a great area. I learned alot of things while I was there and had alot of great experiences; I was pretty sad to leave some of the members and some investigators but I will still try to keep track of them talking to other missionaries that are serving there. I really liked serving in Geisel and I felt like there I really grew lot more as a missionary. I am hoping this area offers some great experiences as well and that we can help the work of the Lord move forward.
My new companion is from Rio de Janeiro. He is a very happy guy and is excited to work. I will try to send some more pictures after I take some more. This transfer is only going to be four weeks instead of six because there are so many new missionaries at the MTC there are trying to get them into the field faster. It sounds like we will have 30 new missionaries arriving the next transfer. I am really excited to see how things will change!
This past weekend we had a dessert competition at our chapel. I took second place with chocolate chip cookies! I was going to try something different but I didn't want to spend alot of money and I had almost all the things I needed for the cookies. One of our investigators took first so that was a good thing.
On monday, we had a mission conference with Elder Craig Christensen of the seventy and Elder Mazzagardi of the area seventy. Elder Oakes was supposed to come but I guess he got a little sick and they didn't let him come. It was one of the best conferences I had seen. Elder Christensen is a vey powerful man. He has alot of spiritual experiences and a lot of missionary experiences. He shared a lot of things that helped us out and answered some of the questions I had been thinking about. I really felt the power of the message that was being said and the true power of the gospel of our lives.
I think many times I think that the calling to be a missionary is much more than I can handle, but with the help of Heavenly Father, somehow it always seems to turn out alright.
I miss you all and love you so much! I hope you guys have a great week! Thanks for all the support and everything you do for me. I am one of the luckiest guys in the world!
P.S. I loved the chirstmas card dad!
Date: Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 6:10 AM
This week went pretty well. We have been staying quite busy which is good and we are finding new people to teach. Sounds like you guys had a good week. That's sad about the Johnson family and their daughter. They are really awesome people. I hope they are doing well.
This week, we worked alot with a part-member family. They are really cool and we have been going there and teaching them and they are very interested. The sister is a member but her husband is not, and the sister's son was just baptized recently. There are some other people that are at her house aswell that are also interested in the gospel. They all went to church sunday and it I think they all really liked it. We will continue working with them and I hope we can help them all be an eternal family! This week we were at their house quite a bit. They have a son who is 10 and he said some funny things. When we were teaching about the sabbath day, we asked him what we should and shouldn't do on the sabbath day. He said we can't buy things, we can't watch TV, except for cartoons about God and chaves (a little kids show), and we should go to church. When we asked about repentance he said that we need to say sorry to God. and when we taught a more kid friendly version of the law of chastity he said that he won't ever date anyway! It was pretty funny and cool how the gospel can be so simple. Many times we complicate things in life but when we see how a child views the gospel, it is really very simple.
This week we were invited to a member's house to have family night. They asked us to leave the message and we chose to talk about the plan of salvation. When we got to the end of the message and started talking about the final judgement, the member pointed out that the neighbor was listening to a song by ACDC called ''HIghway to Hell''. It was pretty ironic. But it turned out to be a good lesson and just kind of funny.
One of our investigators who is progressing really well, has shown alot of growth lately. He went to church yesterday and we went over to his house later in the day to talk to him. He told us that he had a really good time at church and also told us that earlier in his life he had been atheist. He said for a long time he didn't believe in God. It was pretty cool to see how someone who didn't believe in God has come so far and is now making alot of changes in his life to receive all the blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for him. He is a real example to me.
Well I hope you all have a great week! I miss you all and I hope things continue to go well back home. Thanks for all the support, it really means a lot to me. You guys are the best family in the world!
Love you guys!
Oh and my juice diet has been going well by the way
Love, Elder Smith
Date: Jan 7, 2013 6:45 AM
Sorry I don't have too much time today, but thanks for all the pictures and stuff, looks like a lot of fun times! I'm glad Laurel is safe, I'm sure it was a pretty big scare.
Thanks to everyone for the christmas gifts! I got Andrea's and Grandma's package this week. I will send some thank you cards but just wanted to say thanks for everything! You all made christmas real special.
Happy Birthday Mom! Sorry it was delayed, but I hope it all went well. Looks like Nolan and Paige had fun!
This week was pretty hard. At the beginning of the week I was a little down because our days weren't as productive as I would have liked. We were struggling to find people to teach and struggling to teach lessons. I was praying that Heavenly Father would help us in the work so we could be able to have more productivity throughout the week. It turned out being one of the best weeks we've had. And wednesday, we had splits with some brother's in the ward and we got a lot done there as well. It was cool to see some new ways to teach and do the work as some of the brother's in the ward showed me. I think doing something different gave us a refreshment for the rest of the week. We are going to try and start doing splits more often.
We have some investigators that are progressing well right now. Quite a few made it to church sunday and they really liked it. Our ward got switched to 9 AM in the morning and so I think it will be easier for some people to make it because in the afternoon usually it's kind of busy for investigators. One of our investigators has a son on a mission and she is really liking the church. I'm not sure why she wasn't taught before, maybe she was.
I was also trying this week to gain a better testimony of the work and the gospel. This weekend, we taught a less-active family. As we were teaching the Plan of Salvation, the Spirit was really strong and I knew, with greater conviction, that what I was teaching was true. We talked about families and our purpose here on the earth. It was a great experience.
Well I hope all is well back home. Sounds like everyone is in good health. I made a mango juice today. It is pretty hard to work with the mangos, they get all slippery when you try to cut them. I ended up just cutting one edge off and squeezing super hard. It turned out good! I think I might start a juice diet because the fruit is so good here! And the blenders use 220V power so they are really powerful and it's easy to chop stuff up.
Well I hope you all have a great cold week! Sometimes I put a wet rag in the freezer and put it on my neck or on me when I go to bed to remind me of the cold. Then I turn on the fan and it feels way good.
I miss you all and love you guys! I'm glad things are going well back home. Thanks for all the pictures and the support. You have no idea how much it actually means to me.
Tchau for now!
P.S. I have been waiting like almost two months to send Mel's card, then I finally went to send it and I only had her old address. Can you send me her new address?
P.S.S. Can you send me a crepe recipe?
Date: Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 6:19 AM
Well it was great to talk to you all on Christmas day! It's true there wasn't too much time, but I was still way excited. Christmas here was a whole lot different. Later on on Christmas day we went caroling with some members to a few families. It was a cool experience. I could tell many people had maybe been lonely on christmas. A few of the members started crying and it was a great experience. There was one member who went around to a lot of children's houses in the ward and gave out toys. I was inspired by his example of helping others.
This week we had some christmas miracles aswell. Last sunday we were really without much to do. We decided to knock doors on a certain street. We started down the street but not many people showed a whole lot of interest. But finally we reached a nice looking home and decided to knock there. A man answered the door and was very polite and let us in. We shared a message with them and then marked another appointment and left. We had also explained about the Book of Mormon and given them one to read. When we returned later that week, one of them had read started from the beginning. He was super excited. He said they only church he ever went to was a little of the catholic church when he was a child before his baptism but after that not much more. He told us he wanted to learn more and continue in the church. The Book of Mormon has been a great guide for him and is inspiring him to continue. He has been accepting our messages and progressing. We are hoping to teach his whole family. There are all great people. He kind of reminds me of my friend Ricky, I don't know why. I think just his style and stuff. He is a trapezist (is this right?) at the circus! I thought that was pretty cool.
Also, we have been working alot with less-actives in the ward. Last sunday we got a list of all the members in the ward. We are visiting everyone to try and see if they will accept our message again and hopefully come back to church. There are many that have moved so we are going to try and update some of the records as well.
Among those who have not moved, we found a man who accepted us very nicely. He has been less-active for a while but he seems like a very nice guy. We talked to him about our purpose in visiting these less-actives and he told us we could come back and teach him and his family. Before we left, he told us how grateful he was that we had gone there to talk to him. He said he a had been talking to his wife that they needed to find a religion for his family just the other week. He really was graetful we had come and I was able to tell him with absolute certainty that if he is looking for a church to raise his kids and nurture his family, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the best place you can find.
I have been thinking a little latelty about how much the world changes and how Heavenly Father and his commandments don't change. I am grateful for that. In a world where it is so hard to find truth, light and virtue, the gospel brings these things into our lives. I love the gospel. I was telling my companion the other day how much I love teaching the commandments. There are the clear way to happiness. If we want happiness and protection, we need only do what the prophets tell us. The way is so clear!
Well I hope you all have a great New Year! I am a little anxious to see what happens here new years eve with fireworks and stuff, seeing that even after soccer games sometimes the country kind of seems like they are celebrating new years! It will sure be a new experience.
Have a great week! I love you all and hope all is well back home! I was glad to see you all looking so well on christmas. I was serious when I said you all look skinnier!
Happy New Year! Miss you all!
Pic 1: A picture my bishop took while I was skyping you guys.
Pic 2: This was the sheet Sanat put up on christmas morning (he had to just throw it over the ironing board but it had the same effect)
Pic 3: I completed the tree you all had sent me! Thanks!
Pic 4: Me and the other Elders in the house waiting to open our gifts from Santa!
Pic 5: Opening some gifts
Date: Mon, Dec 24, 2012 at 7:16 AM
Feliz Natal! I can't believe Christmas is already here! Thanks for the great quotes and message Dad, sounds like the Christmas festivities are going well! I can't wait to talk to you guys tomorrow and hear how it everything goes. Those times will work well for me so I will try to call Mel around 10 AM your time and call the rest of you guys around 11AM.
This week has been pretty busy. We had lots of activities and also our mission Christmas conference. It was alot of fun. I made cinnabon popcorn, it turned out really well actually! Alot of people liked it.
Other things that happened this week, me and my companion started a new form of contacting. I picked up a rock on the side of the road, the game is whoever has the rock has to keep it in their pocket and start the next contact and so if you don't start the contact then the rock stays in your pocket. Also your companion chooses a word to use during the contact. It has proven pretty efficient Of course if you don't have the rock but feel like you should talk to someone you can certainly start a contact, but it is just a fun way to try something different.
Also, I usually leave my shoes outside of the door, I think I should stop doing that. I went to put on my shoes the other day and I felt something in there, I looked into my shoe with fear, only to find a weird worm kind of thing in my shoe. It was disgusting. I will definitely need to change my form of putting my shoes on.
I got your email that you sent about Preach My Gospel to the missionaries in my mission. i liked the message on charity and chapter 6 is one of my favorites. It helps us be more powerful examples of Christ and missionaries through our own examples.
I was studying the birth of Christ today and came across a few scriptures that I liked. One being, '' And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...'' - John 1:14 and also ''...Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.'' - Isaiah 7:14 These are really simple simple scriptures but I like them because they are solely about our Savior. The reason we have hope for a better life.
Well I don't have much time but I just wanted to share some modifications I made to christmas songs. I like to sing sometimes christmas songs in my head to get me in the christmas spirit, but I had to change some lyrics to match with my environment.
To the tune '' White Christmas''
I'm, having, a hot, Christmas!
Just like the one I never had
There are trees of coconuts
and children going nuts
to play, soccer in the streets!
To the tune ''Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays'' by N'Sync
The heat is burning,
it's time to put on sunscreen,
The coolest thing in the place is listerine
Celebrating, this special time of year,
constant sweat 'cause heat is in the air!
And all the sweat will show
and everyone will know,
you are a gringo
I love this season ya,
time for servin' and lovin'
The Spirit of Christmas is present in this oven!
Well yes my raps are still cheesy, but that's okay.
I hope you guys have a great Christmas! Love you all! Can't wait to talk to you guys tomorrow!
Pic #1: I put a new sole on my shoes, they turned out nice!
Pic #2: All the desserts at our christmas conference (mine is at the bottom)
Pic #3: Me and our nice little christmas tree!
Pic #4: A different view
Pic #5: The old sole!
Date: Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 6:15 AM
Merry Christmas! Thanks for the picture of that display mom! I was actually telling my companion about that because it is one of my favorite christmas decorations in the house every year! Can you guys send me a picture of the tree? And about skype, as of right now our day is pretty flexible. I think almost any time during the day would work. I was thinking of calling around 3 o´clock which would be like 10 o'clock there. Just let me know what works best. I wanted to call early because I thought everyone would be at home including Mel and Jake but I guess they won't be there this year. But I can skype them seperate after I skype with the rest of the family. Just figure out what time on Christmas would be best for you guys and for Mel and Jake. I will plan on calling around 3 o'clock my time which is like 10 o'clock there. So if this time works for you guys let's just keep it at that! But if there is a better time just let me know and I'm sure there won't be a problem.
That's too bad about Todd's Dad. I hope they are doing alright. I'm glad the service went well.
This week was pretty good for us. We have a young man who is investigating the church. He already has a friend in the church and is making good friendships with some of the youth in our ward. He is kind of attending another ward more than ours though and we are trying to stress the importance of attending the ward in which you live. He is an awesome young man and is starting to realize more that he needs to come to our ward. He already knows alot about the church and is already has church clothes and everything. It is neat to see his progress.
Also, there is another man who is attending our ward who has a sister in our ward. He grew up catholic but he said it's been awhile since he's gone to church. We had a lesson with him on sunday and he told us that he is really liking the church. He likes how we talk alot about families. It seems like he feels a little guilty maybe for some things he has done. It is so cool to be able to respond to his doubts that we know that anyone can change and be clean from sin. That God doesn't care much about who you were, but rather who you are and who you can become. The gospel is the only way to true happiness. Through the gospel we receive a remission of sins, a happiness that fills the gap of what was once sadness, and a confidence that replaces feelings of guilt and shame. I am grateful to have the gospel in my life.
We had a ward christmas party this weekend (see photos). It was really fun and we had a good turnout. There were quite a few investigators there as well so will we have to try and visit them this upcoming week because it seems like they all really liked the activity.
Well I don't have much more time but I miss you all and love you!
I hope this christmas season is going great for you all. I love christmas because of the chance we get to remember Christ. He is our Savior and offers us the hope of happiness and confidence even after we may have made wrong decisions. He is forgiving and loving and is alwayswilling to help us if we come to him. He has shown the way and provided the necessary conditions upon which we can acheive our eternal goals.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
P.S. Only 8 more days until Christmas!
Pic #1: Santy and I!
Pic #2: Elder Wanderson, Jeferson, Edcarlos and I
Pic #3: Brother Pablo and I (He is from Peru and is a very good musician. He is a really great guy, I can see why Dad loves Peruvians so much!)