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!