Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas in Mi Perú, First Baptism Date

Elder Smith celebrates Christmas in Mi Perú

We had a great Christmas here. We don't get to eat with members here at all, except for Christmas day, so we ate with a member that's a professional chef and made us lasagna! It was really really good.

On Christmas, we ventured beyond where we usually go, and met with this member family that literally lives at the edge of the branch boundaries, the limits of our area too. The missionaries found them about 2 years ago and they are so strongly converted to the gospel. The whole family. It was so nice talking with them and hearing about their lives. Every Sunday they cross over this huge hill to come to church. This experience really reignited my purpose as a missionary here. I would be so happy to convert and baptize a family that accepts the gospel in their lives like this one. And I know that there's a family out there waiting for me.

We have a baptism scheduled for this Saturday! This is a pretty big deal for a few reasons. For me because it's my first baptism, and my companion and I taught her the first lesson and I asked her to be baptized. For my companion, this will be his first baptism here in Mi Perú. And as a branch, it's the first baptism since August, which is kind of a long time for this area, so we're all very excited. And it's the first Saturday in the year, so it's a great start for Virginia, our investigator.

This week I've been studying about Christlike attributes, especially charity. I really liked reading in Moroni 7 about how really, charity is having an absolute love for everyone, the pure love of Christ. If we have this immense love, serving them comes naturally.

I love all of you so much! I know I'm in the right place and that the Lord will protect me, so don't worry about me! I have an ever-increasing testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The scriptures are such a powerful tool for us, and especially the Book of Mormon because it's written specifically for us. Thanks for all your support. Love you.

Elder Smith on a hill overlooking Mi Perú

Monday, December 7, 2015

First Week in the Field! First Discussion! First Baptism Date!

It's been quite a week! We're always doing something, so I haven't gotten the chance yet to fully unpack, but Peru is amazing!

I'm the Ventanilla Zone, and my area is called Mi Perú! The city is actually called that. It's a very different lifestyle here for sure, so that is taking some getting used to.

Mi Perú has a population of 60,000 people.
There are several mototaxis in this photo.
The first two days we did a lot of walking around the area to talk to people and so I could get to know the area. We taught a lesson Friday night and I was able to extend my first baptismal invitation! He said yes! So he is scheduled for January 2nd.

LDS Meetinghouse for Mi Perú Branch and Arenas Ward

We live in a little "apartment", it's downstairs from our pensionista, or sister that cooks for us. I have all the things I need, so it works just fine! The food is really good! A lot of chicken and rice. It's pretty impolite to not finish your food, or so I learned Day 1, so I have quickly accustomed myself to the rather large lunches we have. Our pensionista cooks lunch, and we prepare our own breakfasts and dinners. There are little stores close by, and a supermarket that's a short bus ride away that we can go to on p-days.

Mototaxis on av. Néstor Gambetta in nearby Ventanilla

Something so common here: mototaxis! Literally, so many of them! People take a motorcycle and retrofit it with a outside covering and seat in the back with doors and everything. It's like the size of a smartcar, but only three wheels. Really interesting. And they let you know they are available by honking at you as they drive by. So yeah, constant honking all the time!

view along Carr. Nestor Gambetta, just South of Mi Perú

view along Av. Cuzco that runs through Mi Perú

Something not so common here: grass! Or vegetation for that matter! It really is a desert area. There's sand everywhere.

My companion, Elder Chavez, is from Santiago, Chile

My companion is Elder Chavez. He is really nice. He's a great trainer. He is helping me get accustomed to the mission and the language but doesn't control me, which is nice because it's a good way to learn. He's from Santiago, Chile, and is starting into his seventh month here.

Our first week overall turned out great! We had 7 investigators attend sacrament, 8 new investigators overall, and we have a total of 10 baptismal dates varying from the last week in December into January!

Sister Archibald, Elder Smith, President Archibald
I am very impressed with my mission president and his wife. They are really great missionaries and people. In our interview, and in the orientation, he said that the Lima West mission is not a normal mission, that it is special mission because it is an obedient mission, a baptizing mission, and a retaining mission. He said when numbers are going down in other missions in Peru, the Lima West numbers are going up. That was cool and inspiring for me to hear. I have grown to love the study time in the morning.

I love studying the scriptures. It seems like the things I'm reading are so powerful, I don't know how I didn't see them there before! Even with my Spanish background, it's hard for me to still understand what natives are saying. But I'm accustomed to how my companion talks so he helps me a lot. I can't imagine what Thai must be like (for Sister Smith). I'm amazed at how people live here and are so happy. It's really a cool experience. The elder before me was here for 6 months, so a lot of people we talk to say, "¿aye donde está Elder Robinson?" but as my Spanish is improving I'm getting more comfortable talking with people too.

Like one would expect, it takes some time to be totally accustomed to a new country and language, but things are going along. I really miss you guys. The work is so inspiring though.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Letter from Mission President and his Wife

Dear Brother and Sister Smith,

We are happy to report that Elder Evan Philip Smith has arrived safely in the Peru Lima West Mission after several weeks of intensive missionary and language training.  He arrives in our midst accompanied by the many prayers you have offered for his welfare and safety.  We thank you for your loving support of his service and encourage your continued prayers on his behalf. We now join your prayers with our own.  We love him and are eager to serve with him.  We sense in his spirit a tremendous desire to serve the Lord.  

Sister Archibald, Elder Smith, President Archibald

He has been assigned to one of our best Elders, who will help to polish the skills he has already acquired.  He will grow to trust his experience and will develop tremendous love and respect for this first companionship in the field.   

This new group of missionaries is a beautiful sight to behold, armed with a prophetic call to serve, and magnified by the spirit of the Holy Ghost.  Attached is a photograph of Elder Smith with the other missionaries he arrived with.  It is humbling to be in their presence.  We extend our gratitude to you for sharing him with us.  We will do all in our power to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of Peru.  

New Missionaries in Peru Lima West Mission

The people of Peru are loving, kind, humble, and are responding to the gospel message in joyful ways.  We recently celebrated the 100th stake in Peru.  This is the Land of Lehi.  Your son is helping to fulfill the promises made to that great prophet when he was assured by the Lord that his descendants would not be forgotten.  He will be teaching the descendents of those children who sat upon the resurrected Savior's knee.  We bear witness that they have not been forgotten by the Lord.  He is sending some of His most choice servants to find them and bring them back to His fold.  Elder Smith is one such servant.

Elder Smith will be a great asset to the other missionaries and to the Kingdom as it is established here.  Thank you for preparing him to serve at this time, in this place, and in this way.  We know that as he works hard, studies, prays, and humbly seeks the guidance of the Holy Ghost, miracles will unfold in his life and in the lives of those he teaches.  We marvel at the miracles performed by the Lord as He magnifies our young missionaries as they bear His message in His vineyard.  God bless them and you for sacrificing to become engaged in this noble cause.           
With gratitude and love,

President and Sister Archibald
Peru Lima West Mission

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

First Day in the Field!

Elder Chavez is my new companion
Hola! I made it safely to the field. I have been assigned my new companion, Elder Chavez, and we're eating pizza for lunch before we go to the field. Don't worry about me. I love all of you!

Letter from Peru Lima West Mission

Dear Smith Family,

We are writing to update you on the arrival of your son to the Perú Lima West Mission (the best mission in the world). He is doing well in his new area and with his trainer. Attached are a hand-written letter from your missionary and a picture with him and his companion.

We are grateful for the opportunity to have your son here in the mission field! If you have any questions or concerns you may send us an email to the email of the mission office.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Last week in the CCM!

Our District (everyone is from Utah, except me)

My CCM (Peru MTC) stay has been moving right along! This last week, our teachers mixed up all our companionships, just for when we teach lessons and have in-class companionship practice. I can see how it’s helpful to learn how to teach with different companions, but it’s easy to leave an elder behind now because we’re always switching who we’re companions with. As zone leaders, my companion and I interviewed each elder this past week to get to know them and see if they need help with anything, but everything seems to be going well and the new principiantes are really cool.

We had a devotional yesterday given by an area authority. His name is Fabio. Anyways, it was in Spanish, but they had headsets that we could choose to wear to listen to the translation given by the guy in the back. I tried it for a few minutes but decided to just try it without the headphones. I usually take notes during devotionals, but I didn’t expect to write down very much since it was Spanish. However, I wrote down more than any other devotional we’ve had so far. One of my favorite takeaways was that “Listening is more than just hearing.” I thought about how I could apply this to the Holy Ghost. Since then I’ve been trying to think more about how I can apply even the smallest promptings of the Spirit to my lessons and studies. I was reminded of an analogy that Bro. Brown told us in seminary my freshman year that we can’t go about our day with “blinders” on and say at the end of the day that we didn’t see any opportunities to share a message or help anyone. We need to be actively searching for ways to be of service to others.

On December 1st I’ll be officially leaving the CCM and entering the field! I couldn’t be more excited, or nervous either! I don’t know which area I’m going to yet, but it’ll be exciting to actually put into practice all the things I’m learning here.

Elder Smith and Elder Linares

We got a vending machine about a week ago, and you’d never guess, but the Chips Ahoy cookies here are so much better than in the United States. So needless to say I bought out what they had in the vending machine, then today while we were shopping I picked up a bulk package.

A couple of Latino elders also going to Lima West!

Summer is kicking in! not as many cloudy days, and it gets decently hot during the day. still super humid too.

Blue skies and warmer days at the CCM

Do they celebrate thanksgiving here? Nope. The lunch ladies might cook us some turkey and stuffing but it's not an official holiday here. By the way, the area I was talking about last week was a proselyting activity we did for an afternoon.

(In case anyone is wondering about how the mission is organized) It's kind of like an umbrella of authority. In the field, there's your mission boundaries, then a bunch of zones, or areas. Each zone has zone leaders, then there are districts within the zone of smaller groups of missionaries. So the district leaders help their group and report to the zone leader, who collect all the reports and help whoever needs it and report to the mission president. But in the CCM it's just on a smaller scale. Basically we just help all the north american missionaries (our zone).

My District at the Temple

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First Real Proselyting Activity

Thanks for the update! I love hearing about how everything is going! It's too bad I don't have more time to share about what I'm doing, but it really is about the same most days.

The weather is the same every day here. Occasionally it's sunny, usually cloudy though. But always warm and humid. A little breezy too.

My companion and I are zone leaders! It's a little more responsibility, but while in the CCM it's not so bad.

The new principiantes came in this morning at 3am (I remember those days...feels like forever ago) so our district are officially avencados! Our teacher in the evenings told us he knows an "hermano" that can make custom jerseys for 25 soles (about 7 or 8 bucks), which is the same as going to the store on p-days, but these were custom, for any team! So everyone in our district got one from the same team, like a district jersey, and I got two more fun ones: one is a Peru home jersey that says "Smith, Cómo José" on the back, and the other is Peru away that says "Smith" (I'm hoping to send that one home to you guys). I don't know if I told you already, but every Latino that meets me, like even in the temple, and sees my nametag, this is the conversation: "Elder Smith! Smith? Cómo José Smith?" So the Smith Cómo José just fit, haha!

We're only allowed to take pictures on p-days, so I took this picture on the way upstairs to send emails. Sorry there aren't more. It's hard to not take pictures during the week although some of the other elders. When the leaving missionaries are packing every two weeks, it's like a ritual for the elders to take pictures in the dorms, but that's against the rules, so it's hard to be a stickler. But as they say here in spanglish, "Casi obedience brings casi blessings" (casi means almost, or close).

"Elder Smith, cómo José!"

Last Saturday we got to go out into the field in Lima South for a proselyting activity, which was super cool for me (well, for everyone too). Lima South is a really poor area. We met up at a local church building and paired up with a CCM Latino missionary, an in-field missionary, and a member of the local ward. The in-field missionary I was with was Latino, so with me and 3 Latinos, I had no English to fall back onto.

The goal was to teach inactives and commit them to come to church the next morning. We visited 3 people, but the first was most interesting. I explained more details in my letter I'm going to mail home, but just imagine the poorest community, and it's probably more poor than that. All the houses are scrapped together, like they were made by a bunch of boy scouts, which was interesting to me, but when I realized that this was their home, this was it for them, it really, really, humbled me.

The first home we went to had a concrete floor, with a main living/dining room and a kitchen and a bedroom off to the side. It was about the size of our downstairs family room over into the computer room, but stopping before you get into the living room/front entry if that makes sense.

Anyways the elders told me to ask inspired questions as they came to me. I was able to follow along with the lesson pretty well, it was about faith and praying. So about 10 minutes in the elders look at me, and I get nervous, and say in slow Spanish to the man, Do you think there is a relationship between faith and prayer? -of course- How do you think praying increases your faith in your life? Then he started talking and really thinking about prayer in his life and I started to feel warm inside and calm. At the end, the elders asked me to pray, so all of us knelt and I offered a simple fervent prayer of safety, comfort and health to the family. It was a neat experience. They didn't commit but I appreciated the opportunity to teach a real family.

I read Alma 24, about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies this past week, and it was really powerful to me.

I love and miss all of you so much.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Quick Update

I'm officially 3 weeks into my training at the Missionary Training Center here in Lima, Peru! Everything here is so different, but a lot of fun! I am learning so much as a missionary.

My Spanish is coming along really well too! I'm so glad I took Spanish in high school, it helps so much. The native Latino missionaries here are fun to talk to. They all think I'm related to Joseph Smith when they see my nametag.

I don't have a lot of time to email today, but next week I should hopefully have more time to email more. Feel free to respond with questions!

I miss home a lot, but the work here is so great and I feel the Spirit so strongly, I know I am in the right place. Thanks for your support!

Soccer field at the Peru MTC

Taking a break to play soccer on our p-day

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Quick Note, then Laundry!

Spring is just turning into summer here! Today I just read emails and responded to people so hopefully next week I can write a lengthier email to everyone!

Everything is going well, Spanish is improving, getting much better at teaching lessons, my companion is getting better at Spanish, but we still have some things to improve.

Elder Linares and Elder Smith

I love you so much! I'm stacking up the handwritten letters to mail out to you guys once I get into the field! :) I miss you a lot. I have a few more minutes before I gotta go do laundry.

Elder Smith at the Temple

A few elders from my district in our new fútbol jersey swag!
Elders Riser, Linares (comp), Crosland, Gregory, and me!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

First Week in the Peru CCM

Hey everyone! So much has happened this week, I can hardly believe I've only been here for 1 week! My preparation days (p-days) are on Wednesdays. The centro de capacitación misional (CCM) is awesome! Oh, it is "missionary training center" (MTC) in English. 

The food is actually pretty great. We have rice with just about every meal, and now I start to look forward to it: rice, chicken, rolls, and Jell-o, or some variation of those ingredients. 

So the flight here was unbelievably long, but remember that's coming from someone who's only flown to California before. Anyways, the flight to Atlanta, I was the only missionary. I was pretty nervous so I didn't eat hardly anything. It was a nice flight so I slept a lot. I lost 3 hours going over time zones, so I landed at like 3:30, but it was only like a 5 hour flight. Then as I was meandering through the biggest airport ever, at least it felt like, I was getting some McDonalds (last typical American meal right?) and I met up with like 6 other missionaries. Then once we got to the gate, there were about 20 of us, all coming to the Lima MTC, or CCM. That flight landed at 11:30, and we gained an extra hour on that one (no daylight savings here), so that was a 6 hour flight. Complete with the wailing baby literally right behind me. Like on TV or something. But we got so much food on that flight. The attendants literally came around like 6 times. Anyway, we got only like 3 hours of sleep that night before the all-day orientation on Wednesday, which, like everyone says, was the looooongest day of my life. It gradually went by quicker each day, and now I can't believe I've been here a week!

CCM Campus

The weather here is awesome. Picture a typical rainy day in Seattle, like the point in the day when it's completely cloudy, and it's only a matter of minutes before the rain starts. That's exactly what it's like here, but all the time. And it never rains. We call it the "eternal mist". Only two days have we seen the sun and mountains around us, and today was one of those days. I can only take pictures on p-days too here so these are all recent. Mom! I got your letter! We can only pick up letters on p-days, but it's postmarked for October 24th, so it only took 5 days to get here! I can't send letters out until I get into the field, but thank you so much!

We got all our learning materials in English and Spanish. All the teachers are native South-American returned missionaries that work here now, so their Spanish is really good, and their English is really broken, so trying to understand the doctrine they teach in English is actually harder for me than in Spanish. I'm really glad a had such a good Spanish foundation in high school, cause other elders here took Spanish in high school and don't know hardly anything.

My companion's name is Elder Linares (not a Latino missionary)! His dad is from Spain, but he is super white. He's from Draper, Utah. He's a fun elder, and I'm just getting to know him. I get along with him well and I'm helping him learn Spanish.

Elder Smith and Elder Linares (my companion)
We get to go to the temple on p-days and do a session. It's literally only 10 minutes away from the CCM. The temple here is so beautiful. It was really interesting doing the session in Spanish. I was able to understand almost all of it, which was really nice.

Lima Peru Temple

Lima Temple from another angle

Our District at the Temple

The Temple store is literally a shack off the side of the street

There are a lot of North American missionaries here. There's about 100 missionaries here, and I'd say about half are North Americans. So we still speak a lot of English, but we occasionally do "English Fasts" where we don't speak any English for a set amount of time. We sit by Latinos at meals too, so my conversational Spanish is getting much better. The thing I'm having a hard time with is learning all the gospel vocabulary so I can give lessons in Spanish better.

The atmosphere of Peru is so cool. It feels like California because it's flat and there are palm trees all over the place, but there are occasional mountains in the distance, and it's Peru, so all the buildings are way different and people drive like maniacs! There are like no rules of the road, and while we're at the CCM you can always hear horns honking and sirens blaring at all hours of the day.

CCM is in La Molina

They don't ride llamas to get around Lima

On the way to the Temple

Typical street

I'm not feeling any allergies, which is actually kind of nice. We'll see how long that lasts. I don't think I've forgotten anything.

Soccer!!! Every day we have an hour for physical activity, and let me tell you, I have never seen 25 elders get changed so fast and on the turf. I haven't played in forever so I thought I wouldn't have a lot of fun, but it turns out a lot of us aren't stellar soccer players. But even after just a week, I'm getting a lot better. It's really fun and the Latinos are super fun to play with.

Mission field! (at least during break times)

After soccer on p-day

The Latinos in general are so much fun to be with. They're only here for the fast-track 12 day CCM experience, so I'm a little sad that they're leaving soon. There's an elder here who looks EXACTLY like Zac Efron, so one of the North Americans called him Elder Efron once, and now every single Latino knows him as Elder Efron. And every time I meet a Latino and they read my nametag, I kid you not, the conversation is something like, "Elder Smith, like Joseph Smith? Hey companion, look it's Joseph Smith! Is he your uncle or something?" Of course it's all in rapid Spanish, but my listening ability is getting so much better.

I really miss all of you guys! It's so fun being here but I miss the usual schedule of work, family, and friends. I feel like I'm at some summer camp right now, but in the back of my mind I know I'm not coming home for a while.

I 100% relate to Sabrina when she talks about her ups and downs! Sunday meetings were really helpful, because the talks and devotional video we watched really got me in the right mood.

I almost forgot to tell you, I'm the District Leader! It was a little overwhelming, they interviewed everyone on the orientation day, and at the end, I was chosen for my district. It felt super overwhelming the first few days and I was really stressed out that I wasn't fulfilling all my duties, but now I feel good about the whole thing and I think our district is getting along well.

This is my home for the next few weeks

Inca Kola (banana soda) 

Sweet llama wool ties

Elder Smith

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


I don't have a lot of time, but I am here and alive. Peru is amazing!!! Love you all.