Monday, July 17, 2017

An Amazing Discussion

My new flag for Peru's Independence Day (Jul 28)

On Sunday we had a really good spiritual experience. A recently moved-in member that's a returned missionary said he'd accompany us after church to our appointments. I was anxious to teach with the member because he told us it'd been a long time since he'd taught with the missionaries. I was confident we would be able to teach a lesson together but still I was a little anxious. We contacted, looked for our appointments, and finally entered a house of new investigators.

It went amazing. We got to know the investigators and their needs, asked inspired questions, the member (who used to be super catholic) gave a perfect testimony for the super catholic investigators, etc. They accepted us to come back and they're going to come to church next week, and they accepted a baptismal invitation. I felt really good. I realize that this really is the Lord's work. I can't even imagine how else we'd have found these people, entered their house and shared a message of the Restoration, unless this were the Lord's work. This is the kind of experience I never want to forget.

I know that when we dedicate ourselves to do the Lord's will we'll really receive blessings that the Lord wants us to have. I testify that the Lord loves and knows us and wants to bless us all the time.

Love you all! have a great week!!

Elder Evan Smith

my companion and I eating my favorite lunch
with some members (AJI DE GALLINA!!!👌)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Strange Coincidence

Lasagna with a member family!

This week we had a very fun experience. Yesterday after church we were looking for an investigator's house, and we stopped by a park to get our bearings, when a woman called out to us, "Elders!" It turned out that she had just moved in and wanted us to visit them some time during the week. She said she'd moved from the US, and I asked her which state. She said Washington. Since a lot of Peruvians confuse Washington with Washington DC, I asked if she meant Washington DC. She said, "no, I'm from a little-known place called Seattle". I started freaking out a little. I said I'm from Seattle too, from the Everett stake. She's from our stake! Her family attends the Spanish branch presided by Brother Waite! I asked her what their last name was and she said the Gameros. I thought for a sec and asked if she had any grandchildren my age. She said her grandson had served a mission in Uruguay and recently got married and had a kid, and his name is JOSE JAIME. She showed me pictures on her phone of their family. They all look great! It was such a nice coincidence! Her name is Julia Mejia.

Sister Mejia just moved from the Everett Washington Stake
and attended the Chennault Beach Spanish branch

Anyways, on the more spiritual side, a week and a half ago during our interviews with president, he challenged us to coordinate a lunch appointment with our investigators with a member family so that their church attendance commitment would be stronger. We were trying like crazy to do this with no success. Saturday afternoon, a sister in the ward called us out of the blue asking us to eat lunch with them after church with a friend that she had invited to church. Talk about a miracle!! They actually didn't make it to church but we had a really nice lunch appointment with their friends and were able to have a spiritual experience.

I know that the Church is true and that when we strive to follow our leaders, even when things might not look so promising, the Lord always comes out for us. Thanks for all your love and support. Love you all!! have a great week!

Elder Evan Smith

Our zone

Our district

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Meaningful Member Visit

It's weird how holidays like the 4th of July kind of comes out of nowhere, or at least it seems like it to me. I know it's because it's not important at all to the Peruvians, but I guess just because it's always been a big deal my whole life I feel a little weird, haha. Today I'm doing a work visit with another American elder, so I think we're going to celebrate with hamburgers tonight.

This week has been really good. On Wednesday we had a district meeting. I don't know if I told you I'm the district leader, but the last couple of weeks the district meetings have come out a lot better than before. I've been focusing a lot more on our lesson practices. Our practices are just between us missionaries trading off and improving certain principles at a time. Now it's set up so that we have at least 45 minutes of straight practices. At the end of it all, the missionaries are coming out of the district meetings more excited to work in their areas, so I think it's working. I feel really good having done something unique that was able to bless the lives of others, making them happier and able to go out and bless even more people. I don't feel pride, but just a lot of joy.

Last Thursday we had an interesting experience. We had an appointment with a active-member family. The family is a single woman living with her youth-aged nephews, and they don't have leadership callings in the ward, so they have gone a little under the radar for me in my 5 months in the ward. There are a couple less actives in their family, so that's how we got to know their house and set the appointment. It was interesting that when we taught them they said that we were the first missionaries to visit them in over 5 years! I couldn't believe it! Our area isn't THAT big, and they live in about the middle, but they'd gone by a long time without many visits. They were so happy to have us there with them. We got to know them better and shared a message from the Book of Mormon. We're going to have a stake activity this week, so we invited them to invite their friends and family to go and they were really willing.

This isn't the first time this has happened on my mission, and not in this area either. Something I've learned from these experiences is that there really are people out there that need and want help and will accept us but sometimes they can't make the initiative themselves. For whatever reason, I know that if we are doing everything we can to magnify our callings and reach out to others, members, friends, and strangers alike, we'll find that these people need what we have, and the Lord will bless us to be instruments in His hands.

On Friday we had interviews with President. It was special because before the interviews he did a training meeting with the whole zone which helped me see how I can be more aligned with the revelation in the mission in my area and also help the other missionaries do the same. In my interview I was able to resolve a couple of questions I had and I left feeling really positive and uplifted. Honestly I love my mission president. He helps me out a lot and I really feel his love for us. President and Sister Stauffer remind me a lot of Mom and Dad in that way.

I know that the Gospel is true. I know that life keeps on going and sometimes our trials and difficulties seem like they're not going anywhere, but as I've focused less on myself and more on serving others, and more on how to live the first principles of the gospel, I've felt a lot of relief and hope. I know that the Holy Ghost testifies of truth and guides us in all we do. I'm so grateful for the things (Mom & Dad) taught me my whole life to be able to be worthy and follow the Lord.

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, June 26, 2017

Two Lessons about the Spirit

This week was full of tender mercies. My favorite was last Saturday before lunch. Just to set the scene a little, we were going to have a baptism but in the morning the investigator called to cancel. We went and did everything we could but it didn't happen. My companion and I felt a little down, but we had an appointment with a couple of potential investigators, so we went over there. I had contacted the woman months ago with my old companion Elder Romero. The appointment had fallen through back then, and one day when we were passing by there with Elder Diaz, the moment when we contacted her came back to my mind and we knocked on the door and set an appointment. They turned out to be really impressed with the Church. They have a member-friend that they've always seen their good example and had always wanted to know a little more about the Church. It was a really great lesson.

I learned 2 things from this experience: that the Spirit often works in subtle ways. It's something that I "knew" before but it's really powerful when you actually live it. The other is the importance of being a witness of Christ always, everywhere. You never know who's watching you, but the Lord really can use all of us as tools to help His other children come back to the fold.
"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." Alma 37:6 
I know that this Church is true and that the Lord Jesus Christ lives. I love this gospel! I love being a missionary! I know that if we read the Book of Mormon every day we'll be more spiritually protected. I know that the Pres. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God.

I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy Fathers Day

Happy Father's Day Dad!!! Hope it was a great day. I heard there was a Star Wars themed party. I liked all the pictures you guys sent! You all look happy. It's been a good week for me as well.

This week we had a mission leadership training meeting that was really awesome. Our Mission President has been focusing a lot in these last two weeks on referrals. There's an internet system that we receive referrals that our mission hasn't used very much before that he taught us about and we have been contacting the referrals like crazy. We found a person that has been waiting for the missionaries to come by for over a year. I felt so...impressed. I knew it was a miracle.

I feel like I have progressed a lot during my mission. Not just more mature or experienced, but my own testimony has grown a ton. I have never really understood before the immense importance of daily prayer and scripture study. I also understand more than ever the blessings of the temple and the importance of attending regularly. It's something we don't get to do so much as missionaries, but I think now I understand a little more how some members feel when the closest temple is hours and hours away and hardly can attend.

Thanks Dad for everything you've taught me and the example you always set for me. Love you tons!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Transfers...New Companion!

My last day with Elder Vidal

This week I had some powerful spiritual experiences. On Wednesday, Elder Christenson (Presidency of the Seventy) and Elder Godoy (President of the Area) came to visit our mission. They shared very good talks. One of my favorite points from what Elder Christenson said is how our daily scripture study can have effect in our lives. I understood that while many times we may feel that our study time is filled with goals to read x number of pages of the book of mormon or from preach my gospel, we need to remember that the fundamental principle of personal study is to connect ourselves with heaven and receive divine revelation, and this requires preparation. I hadn't thought of the importance of this before, but I now understand more the need to prepare for my studies.

This week Elder Vidal had transfers. It was sad to see him go, but he's an awesome missionary. My new companion is Elder Diaz! He's from Huaraz, Peru. On Thursday we had some crazy spiritual experiences back to back. We had like 3 appointments that we were going to that I was so certain we would teach, but every single one fell through. We exhausted our plan B's and plan C's, and even our plan d's. I felt a little confused, but a member family popped into my head. We knocked on their door but they weren't home. Then I remembered that their next door neighbors are less actives. The 20 year old son was home watching the Peru soccer game, but oddly he let us in and turned off the game to let us teach ( 😮  I thought this guy was crazy, nobody does that here...). We taught a short but powerful lesson. It was cool because he said he'd gone to church a lot as a kid and went to seminary and everything. He ran to pull out his book of mormon that had a book cover and everything was marked. Elder Diaz said something that inspired me as well.
He asked, "Did you have it planned out today that the elders were going to come by to visit you?"
"Well, the Lord did. That's why we're here, because the Lord needs you."

It was awesome. But that's not the end of it. Leaving that lesson, we were going to contact as we made our way to our next plans, and I recognized a family that we'd contacted months ago, that I thought were members less active. Turned out to be that the dad isn't a member yet and he was really excited to let us come back another day. While we were talking to them, a man came up to us and asked where the church was because he's a returned missionary from another part of peru but had just moved to the area. And, his family aren't members either. So we jotted all that information down. Walking another couple blocks there was a young woman in her 20s walking into her apartment that exclaimed from across the street, "Hey are you elders from the Huandoy ward?!" She turned out to be a less active member as well that had moved away years ago but had just moved back last week and also has family members that aren't members.

In short, I truly testify to you guys that the Lord really DOES put prepared people in our path. Sometimes they'll come to us, other times we'll be guided to them. But if we open our mouths we'll find the ones that the Lord is preparing to hear His gospel.

I love the mission so much!

Love you all a ton as well. Have a great week! :D

Elder Smith

The Huaman family, our pensionista (They're the best!)

Two future missionaries in the ward

Monday, June 5, 2017

Being Led to New Investigators

Elder Vidal and I after soccer
Last week we got a referral that we went to look for when our plans had fallen through. Turned out to be a "house" that was just brick walls with no door, and nothing inside. There was a little store a couple houses down with a man sitting down by himself at a table. It was strange because it was a cold night but he was in just a short sleeved shirt. I told myself that there has to be a reason why we're here so we went and talked to him. He was a really nice man who was receptive but was going to travel in a couple days. But he told us that his cousin had recently been operated on and had his leg amputated and would do well to hear our message, and he lived across the street. We went to find his cousin, but not only did we find him, but also his mom, his brother and his sister. They are the Chavarri family. It was a really spiritual lesson. They told us that they'd always wanted to know how they can find the "correct church" among all the different kinds of churches there are in the world. They especially were interested in knowing how the Book of Mormon compares with the Bible and what they can learn from it.

This week we also had another cool experience with a new investigator we found. His name is Enzo. He's a young adult that's studying engineering in the university, and we found him one day walking to our pensionista and he started talking to me in English. It was really fun because he loves practicing and well there aren't many english speakers here. When we taught him he was interested in knowing the difference between catholics and us, and we started explainin the restoration. When we taught about the principle of baptism, it was like it clicked with him that you have to repent before you get baptized, and that's why little children don't need baptism.

During the second lesson with Enzo, we were reading a little with him from the Book of Mormon, and we began to talk about the difficulties there are in the world but how we can overcome them. I said that despite all the challenges we might have, our Heavenly Father is perfect and has a plan for all of us. He asked me then how a perfect Father could create us as imperfect people, and my companion and I got wide eyes and started teaching about the creation, the fall and the atonement. Enzo's questions are honestly so good and it makes us also really reflect on these simple truths. I really felt my testimony strengthen as I taught these lessons. I know that when we strive to have the Spirit with us, it won't just be the investigator that is edified, but all of us will be edified by the Spirit, like D&C 50 says.

I love you all so much, and I hope you have a stellar week!!

Elder Evan Smith