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.