Sunday, December 25, 2016

Testimony on Christmas Day!

Today we cleaned our apartment and ate lunch and slept. We will find out if there are transfers later tonight. Have a stellar week!

(Since we just talked yesterday, this one is short.)

Elder Evan Smith

Elder Smith bears his testimony of the Gospel.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Great Day at Church, Zone Pics

Our zone missionaries

This week we had the ward talent show. We as missionaries with the ward mission leader were slotted with a talent to perform. And with just one rehearsal we pulled off a pretty good skit. It was a great evening because we also were able to bring an investigating family to the show and they got to know various members and get to know the church building and everything. And afterward we ate fruitcake and hot chocolate, always a winning combination.

On Sunday we brought this same family to church with one other family together in the same minivan taxi. While a normal person may not think that so many people fit into a vehicle of smallish size, in Perú, everything goes! And it was an excellent Church experience! The primary put on the Christmas program which was perfect for the investigator's small children to also enjoy. It is such a smooth experience when the members jump in and introduce themselves and chat with the investigators because it is like a whole new world for them! I invite you guys to always look for and greet the new people at church!

I truly testify of the God's love and grace. As Elder J. Devn Cornish said in this past General Conference:
The God of heaven is not a heartless referee looking for any excuse to throw us out of the game. He is our perfectly loving Father, who yearns more than anything else to have all of His children come back home and live with Him as families forever. He truly gave His Only Begotten Son that we might not perish but have everlasting life! Please believe, and please take hope and comfort from, this eternal truth. Our Heavenly Father intends for us to make it! That is His work and His glory.
I know that our personal efforts to repent and really keep trying are what really count. I am so grateful for the Savior's Atonement.

I love you all a ton! ðŸ˜€

Merry Christmas ðŸŽ…

Elder Evan Smith

P.S. Below are several more photos of our zone over the last few months.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Up the Hill Three Times, and Then...

This week has also been full of blessings. My companion and I enjoy looking for opportunities to serve every day. A couple of things that happened:

We went one morning after our studies to go to an older couple's house to see how to help them build a door from some leftover wood. Note, their house is wayyy up the huge hill in our area, so it wasn't a task to be tackled by the weary. Anyways, coming down the hill afterwards we met a man that recently moved to the area. He was friendly and we asked to accompany him to his house to share a message with his family, and he said sure. So we started climbing back up the hill to his house.

Coming down the hill again, thinking about lunch, we saw a younger couple struggling with their numerous groceries. We helped them and after a little conversation, asked to accompany them to their house to share a message with them, and they said sure. So we started climbing back up the hill to their house.

Another day, we were heading to an investigator family to set an appointment and I contacted a man carrying a big bag that had just gotten out of the taxi. I offered to help but he declined. I tried to converse with him but I realized that he had a hard time hearing. I asked him if we could share a message with him but he said he was going home to go to bed, a little odd, being that it was 3:00pm. I didn't think much of it but later that day, we were doing a way to find and like 3 or 4 dogs started running at us barking a lot. Once I was certain they weren't there to attack us we started moving along when the owner ran out from his house calling out to us. It was the same man from earlier that day, but with his hearing aid put in, saying he wanted to come to our church. He came to sacrament meeting on Sunday.

We had received a few referrals for a part in our area very far away, and we slotted a few hours of one day to go over there to contact the referrals and visit the less active members and old investigators. We contacted the referrals and tried to visit the other people we planned, but there wasn't much of a result. On our way back we helped a woman with her bags up the hill, taking a road I'm not sure we would've otherwise taken, and adjacent to her house we saw a family at home, who received us in the moment to teach the Restoration and accepted a baptismal date.

Life is full of miracles, and we need to have the faith to find them and also be willing to recognize the miracles in our lives.
And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth. (Mormon 9:19, 21)
I testify that the Lord has not ceased to be a God of miracles.

Have an awesome week!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Power of Prayer

It has been an awesome week. We are working hard and seeing results, but I know we can still keep doing better. We had a lot of miracles this week. The Vasquez family (the MA parents and PF children) all week long have been excited and committed to come to church. Saturday night we stopped by and called in the evening to triple check. Until we showed up at the door Sunday morning with a member and their car to bring the whole family. They told us they had to take care of legal things that came up with their daughter late Saturday night and had to leave right away and wouldn't be home until the evening. We could all feel the sorrow, but we kept with our other plans.

It wasn't until after lunch that we received a text from the zone leaders that we could bring investigators to the devotional. We were so excited! The Vasquez's hadn't gotten home yet, so we went to every investigator's house that couldn't make it in the morning. The last stop was the Vasquez house. We got there right in time and with persuasion they got all the kids ready, and an empty taxi willing to take us directly to the stake center just happened to pass by their house (never happens) and we were still 20 minutes early to have a good seat and listen to the prelude music. The greatest spiritual experience ever!

I testify of the power of prayer. It is so important to have a personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without a personal relationship with Him we cannot rejoice in His Atonement. I know I still have a ways to go, but I know that my Redeemer lives. He knows us and what we need, and how to give it to us better than we know how. I am receiving my testimony little by little, but I am grateful for the blessings I have received and what I have learned.

I love you all! Hope you have an awesome week of service!
Vamos a iluminar el mundo!!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, November 28, 2016

More Miracles

Elder Maldonado and I in Las Villas de Ancón

This week has been awesome. A lot of miracles.

On Sunday during the 2nd hour, we were greeting the investigators that were in Gospel principles and we found out that there was a man who came for the first time that lived in our area! The son of the pensionista had invited him to come to church and he just came out of the blue! During the 3rd hour we taught him the Restoration and he now has a baptismal goal for Dec. 24!!!

This week we have been contacting like crazy, and it has been paying off. Yesterday we received a reference from a member to visit a sister that hasn't been coming to church. We thought she was already a member and maybe she would have references for us to teach also. Turns out that she's not a member. She had only been going to church for a long time and didn't get baptized for personal reasons, but we have an appointment with her for this week!

I have been studying a lot this week about the Plan of Salvation and the need for an Atonement dependant on our repentance. I really like this scripture in Alma 42:23-24
...mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.
For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.
I know that our Redeemer lives. I am so grateful for his Atonement. I know that it an infinite Atonement and that we can receive relief and forgiveness for our sins. I know that His Gospel is restored upon the earth today and that He directs His church through the prophet Thomas S. Monson.

I love you all a ton! Have a fantastic week!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, November 21, 2016

New companion!

My new companion, Elder Maldonado

It's been a big week for me! We had transfers and I'm still in my same area but I have a new companion that I'm training. His name is Elder Maldonado and he's from Guatemala. And he's awesome. He is so excited to get to work every day and we work together really well. We have found a few new investigators this week and had many miracles. Things are going great!

We were using the ward directory to try to find less active families to reactivate and baptize the family members and friends that aren't members. We found a family that had been inactive for almost 10 years and not a single one of their children were on the records! It turned out that they didn't know where to find the church and had started going to another local church, but were so excited to see us. They are the Familia Vasquez. When they got home from church their younger kids were running around excitedly telling us that they want to go to church every day!

I have a testimony of the importance of being obedient. I know that if we are obedient to the Lord, the Prophet as well as our local priesthood leaders we will be blessed.
And he hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land. (2 Nephi 1:20)
I hope you all have a great week! Love you tons

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, November 14, 2016

God gives us trials to help us progress

Last week, we met a guy by street contacting named Augusto. He's an older single man that is super friendly and liked talking about his life. When we introduced ourselves as missionaries and invited him to listen to the Restored Gospel, he said that he's open to listen without any commitments.

On Thursday we went to go teach him and he began to tell us a little more about how religion has influenced his life. His faith in God had diminished over the years as he experienced many trials and saw difficulties in his family, and concluded that if a God existed, He wouldn't let such things happen. I made the extra effort to pay attention to how he felt, and I felt prompted to testify about the existence of our Heavenly Father. I told him that He does exist, that he is one of His sons, and that he is loved very much. I explained that all things denote there is a God, and that there is opposition in all things, but that these things happen to let us spiritually progress. I could tell that Augusto felt the Spirit and he paid a lot of attention to how he could find out more of the truth.

We have been coordinating with the Bishop to help move along the work in this part of the ward, it being an annex of the city and far away from the church, to be able to start a family group and eventually a branch. It's really exciting to be super involved in the growth of the Church. It is helping me learn how much it really involves the members too. An elder that was ending his mission this weekend said in his talk in sacrament meeting that many times the converts say that the missionaries are like angels for the people, but that that doesn't have to end with the end of a full time mission. Every member can be an angel for someone, and we just have to put ourselves out there and be the Lord's instruments.

Testifico que esta Iglesia es la verdadera Iglesia de Jesucristo. Él vive y ha expiado por cada uno de nosotros. Estoy sumamente agradecido por el privilegio de servirle a Él de manera de tiempo completo. Les testifico de Su amor por ustedes.

Les amo a cada uno bastante!!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, November 7, 2016

Zone Conference

Our mission zone. Guess what we do on P-days...

This week has been awesome! We had a zone conference last Friday and our zone leaders taught us an important principle that President is sharing with the whole mission that I like a lot.

It comes from Ether 2 when the brother of Jared has built the ships, but there is no light and no air for them to travel across the sea. The Lord reveals how they will have air but as to the light, and he says to the brother of Jared,
And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire. (Ether 2:23)
Sometimes in our prayers we might ask for something to be resolved or receive help in some form, and in our prayers we might be asking to have windows or fire. However, the Lord said they wouldn't go with these things. He wanted the brother of Jared to come up with a solution that would be a test in itself of faith, patience, and diligence. We shouldn't pray and ask for the things that we want, but rather seek the will of the Lord and seek after those things.

I testify that as we humbly seek the Lord's will and the Lord's time, we will feel His love. Peace and comfort will come to our mind and heart. I testify that Heavenly Father knows each of us and really does want the best for us. His way is and always will be better than our way.

I love you all a ton! Hope you have an awesome week!

Elder Evan Smith

Here's where we meet for Church ( map),-77.164630,12&lang=eng&id=meetinghouse:5004146-01-01

You can also see our meetinghouse on Google Maps Streetview,-77.1606941,16.82z/data=!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x0:0x0!2zMTHCsDQ3JzE1LjIiUyA3N8KwMDknNTIuNyJX!3b1!8m2!3d-11.787562!4d-77.16463!3m4!1s0x0:0x43a487085f3a548c!8m2!3d-11.7933245!4d-77.1583477

Monday, October 31, 2016

A blessing because of a bad situation

A view of half my area in Las Villas de Ancón

Happy Halloween! The truth is that I forgot about the holiday until a certain church was marching in protest against Halloween. It's not that celebrated here but people know what it is.

So I normally am super good at keeping track of things, but this last week we were coming back from a baptism in our ward and in the bumpy taxi ride I lost the cell phone. After backtracking, we asked around to try to get to know where the taxi driver lives (that's the interesting thing here is everyone somehow knows everyone, but not necessarily by name). It turned out that we didn't find the exact same guy, but we found another family that are super friendly that we wouldn't have found otherwise! The Lord certainly works in mysterious ways.

I was reading a talk by Elder Bednar last night from general conference a couple years ago about the blessings we receive from paying our tithing, whether they be subtle or noticable. I was thinking about how the blessings I pray for may be conceded to me. For example sometimes when I ask for help, I may wish my duties or responsabilities to be made easier or taken away, but in reality I may be blessed with the ability to press forward and keep going a little longer.

I testify of the blessings and tender mercies of the Lord. Many times if we are not quick to observe them they may go unnoticed but I also testify of the peace it brings to learn to be humble enough to count my blessings and be grateful for what the Lord has given me.

When the going gets rough, count your blessings!

Que tengan una buena semana!!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, October 24, 2016

One Year Mark

Well it's been a year. It went by too fast but I am pumped for this year to come!

So my first week in the area, a new family just moved into the area that are already members. It has been great to get to know them because one of the sons was less active and with the move began going to church with his family! This week, we went to visit them and they introduced us to a relative that also recently moved to Villas and is building their house. When we asked to share a message, the mother-in-law invited a neighbor to come listen too. It was such a great experience. It was funny that we didn't even have to ask them for these references, it all just happened!

A spiritual thought for the week in Alma 7:23
And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.
Sometimes I think that my will is or should be God's will. But I know that God knows everything and the best way to do everything, and I don't always see how it will work out right away, and sometimes I won't see the end result. What really matters is that I submit myself to Him and His will.

I testify that He lives and He knows us.

Have a great week!!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, October 17, 2016

Feeling happy

This week went by super fast. I'm getting the area down a little better. It is a way different learning experience for sure.

I don't have a lot of time today because we got on internet late.

I love you guys a lot. Looking back on what I've done so far, I feel so happy, I feel a lot of joy for being able to serve the Lord. I have a lot to learn, but I know that the Lord is there for me.

Have a great week.

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, October 10, 2016

Transferred to Villas de Ancon!

Adiós a Paramonga, bienvenidos a Miramar! Now I'm in las Villas de Ancon. My new companion is Elder Ponce, and he's from Chile. From the part way north that the peruanos jokingly call him peruano. Anyways it's been a great week. It's been hard for me to come to a new area because I don't know where anything is, but my companion and I have been doing pretty well.

View of Villas de Ancon, about 1 hr 20 mins north of Lima.

A street in the city

There are four areas that cover this ward, and our district also includes another ward of 2 companionships. So we spent almost all of Saturday travelling to the different baptisms, which is an awesome experience in itself.
But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; (Alma 13:28)
Testifico que nuestro Padre Celestial nos conoce individualmente y nos ha puesto en estas días para poder ayudar a apresurar Su obra. Testifico que las pruebas que tenemos son para que aprendamos como ser mas como Él. Yo sé gue el Señor Jesucristo vive y es nuestro Salvador.

Les amo a cada uno bastante.

Que tengan una buena semana!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fiesta, Rediscovering an Investigator

Oldest active member of the ward

This is a photo of the husband of our pensionista. He is the man! I think he's the oldest active member in the ward.

This week was off to a slower start for us. It was hard to have lessons with our investigators and find new ones to teach. As the weekend got closer, it got more challenging in a different kind of way. It was the annual fiesta of the "virgen de las mercedes" last saturday, so there was a lot of... commotion, to put it all in one word. Anyways, we thought a lot about how we could take advantage of other ways to find. We realized we had left aside, and we found an old investigator that had a lot of free time that wanted to listen to us, and the grandparents of a young adult recent convert.

our convert in church on sunday!

I have been studying Alma's counsel to his sons, and as I was reading in Alma 37 when Alma is giving the plates to Helaman and he commands him to keep the records, but also to maintain the brightness of the plates. I thought for a little bit, and thought that this is like a strange commandment, but it probably has an unseen purpose to it. Alma in the next verses says these same principles, that even though it may sound strange, that the Lord works in small and simple ways to bring about grand purposes. A footnote to that brought me to the scripture I am ponderizing this week.
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." --1 Corinthians 2:14
I know that Thomas S Monson is a living prophet of God. I know that Joseph Smith was called to be the prophet of the restoration in the Sacred Grove in 1820. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

Have a great week!! Love you all.

la zona barranca despues de futbol

Monday, September 19, 2016

Baptism and a Miracle

Luis Huerta was baptized this week

This week we had a visit from Elder Hugo Montoya, of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy. It was a great opportunity to learn from him and the Spirit, and we all really enjoyed it. Something I liked that he shared was that the mission is something that is supposed to change us for the rest of our lives because this work really is the most important work to do!

So Luis Huerta got baptized this week. I'm not sure if I have already shared his story, but when we found him a month and a half ago, he had problems walking. He wasn't sure what the problem was but it was getting worse, until it was time to go to the hospital. It turned out that he needed surgery in his lower spinal column. The surgery was miraculously a success, and even though the doctors said it would be some time before he could walk, that very day he was able to get up and start walking a little.

In the weeks since, he has been able to walk with a limp and he has to soak his leg every day. He has been excited for his baptism because he had the faith that his pain would go away, and we promised him that that would be true. Coming out of the baptismal font he told me he didn't feel any pain. The rest of the evening he was walking around without limping! It was truly a miracle.

I testify of the power of the Priesthood. This is Jesus Christ's Church with His authority. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be one of His missionaries. I love all of you! I hope everyone is doing well. Have a great week!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, September 12, 2016

Breaking out of the Old Ways, Teaching With Members and the Spirit

Our district after playing soccer today,
eating lunch in our pensionista's house

In the last 10 days, we have taught various older couple catholics that are so attached to their traditions and customs that like to listen to other churches but could never make a commitment to be baptized and they never seem to get past this point.

Having experienced this, Sunday night we had a noche de hogar with a family that was reactivated last year and their nonmember mom, who is, that's right, catholic by tradition also. What was way different was that when we got to the point of extending the commitment, she gave the normal catholic excuses, and her son in law began to explain the importance of baptism by immersion and by the authority of God. Then her daughter bore her testimony about all this too. Then she accepted a baptismal date and everything. Wow. I testify of the importance of working with members as well as teaching with them. The work is so much easier when we work together!

This week Luis Huerta is getting baptized! He is doing really well. On Sunday the elder's quorum president forgot that he wasn't a member yet haha. We have been working with his wife constantly for 3 weeks in a row just on keeping the sabbath day holy and she has had something come up every week that has made it hard for her testimony to grow of the sabbath day. Finally we talked with them about Luis getting baptized first until his wife is ready, and that was hard, but he really is ready and she isn't yet, and won't be for a while. Anyways it is exciting for the ward, because between the 2 companionships in the ward a lot of new investigators are starting to come and they like the growth!

I testify of the power of the Holy Ghost. It is so important to have the Lord's guidance in His work, and in our day-to-day lives as well. It is such a blessing to be able to be one of His missionaries. It is only by His Spirit that people can really be converted, and I testify that when we work under His influence that conversion takes place.

Love you all! Until next week...

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hermano Guzman

This week I had a work visit with our district leader who is also a gringo, which is always awesome because the peruanos are just blown away that there are TWO gringos together. We were visiting a couple appointments planned for the afternoon and I remember vaguely a house we had contacted a couple weeks ago and so we knocked on the door. An older man came to the door and cheerfully greeted us and asked who we were looking for.

I quickly glanced at the plaque above the door with the house number and family name and said we were looking for Hno. Guzman. He got all excited and said "well then here I am! come on in, since you're looking for me!" He likes to build stuff in his spare time and had welded from scraps really cool lawn chairs that were super comfortable.

Anyways he called out his wife and we shared the Restoration with them and they were really receptive and willing to read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it's true and come to church and get baptized if they receive their answer.

The familia Huertas didn't all come to church again this week. The wife went on an emergency trip to Ancash. So they won't get baptized this week but we have a lesson with them tonight to see how we're going to move forward.

The work keeps moving on!

I loves you guys a ton. I know that everything we teach is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and is the word of God. I know that it contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love you all! Have a great week.

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, August 29, 2016

New Companion in Paramonga

This week we had transfers. I am still in Paramonga but my new companion is Elder Castro, from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. He is awesome. It has been a great week for us. We had several great lessons that brought our investigators to progress.

We have been working with an older couple, Luis y Maria Huerta. They had been progressing to get baptized this Saturday, September 3, and in our lesson last Saturday night my companion said, "now just so you guys know, because we are in the last week before your baptism, you're going to feel more temptations and trials to try to hold you back". They were all good to go...until Sunday when Maria didn't show up to church. Turns out late Saturday night her brother called her asking a favor to help him plant sweet potatoes out in his farm and feed the pigs. Apparently, he only has time on Sundays, and normally helps them out so she felt obligated to go. Regardless, they aren't going to get baptized this week and we are looking forward to next week.

Testifico que el Presidente Thomas S Monson es el Profeta viviente que dirige esta iglesia. Yo sé que el Libro de Mormón es la palabra que Dios y que, igual que dijo el Profeta José Smith, que un hombre se acercaría mas a Dios al seguir sus preceptos que los de cualquier otro libro. Sé que Jesucristo vive y es nuestro Salvador. Amo a Él y me esfuerzo cada día seguirle más.

Les amo a cada uno bastante.

I am working on my plan that Sister Smith sent. I have a big list of the things I have to do as a missionary, but I'm still working on my spiritual goals.

For my birthday, I got myself a quad set of Spanish scriptures - new for here in Perú 😎.

Elder Evan Smith

New scriptures in Spanish for my birthday

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cambios, Working in Another Area

Well today is cambios, but I still don't know who will be my new companion. Elder Estrada finished his mission this week. Everything is going great though! This week I have been in a different area the majority of the time with another elder whose companion went home too. We've been working pretty hard this week and we've had a few miracles in this area being able to find new investigators and set baptismal dates with them, and when I was in my area for the weekend, it was a miracle that we could have our investigators come to church that hadn't been able to attend for the last couple weeks due to an injury, and having not been able to teach them much this week.

This morning I was reading in the Book of Mormon in Alma 13:8-9. I really like this scripture:
Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.
I felt like this applied to me, that my calling, ordination, and priesthood is holy too. That I really am an elder forever, because it comes after the order of the Son. I feel more responsability, but I feel peace from the Spirit too. I testify of the power of the priesthood, that it is real, and that it comes from the Lord. I testify of the principles of faith, that we need to live the principles of the Gospel in all times and in all places and trust that God will take care of us too.

I love you all a ton!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, August 15, 2016

Peruvian Birthday Celebration, BBQ "Service" Project

It was a Happy Birthday indeed!

It has been an awesome week. I got some sweet new ties for my birthday, ate german pancakes, peach cobbler (microwave edition), and had a surprise party in the church in the evening. Boy what a surprise. I walked into a room with a blindfold and left covered in eggs and flour and glitter. But my companion reassures me this is how peruanos celebrate birthdays and the ward really does love me.

We also did the funnest service project ever for a family of investigators. They sell barbeque food at the market and they had a huge order to fill and asked us to help, so I helped prep the spicy sauce and grill the chicken and pork. The nice thing is that when you do service helping at a barbeque, you get free barbeque too.

My companion and I also decided to start English classes in the church on saturdays, and the first week wasnt so good attendance wise, but last week we had a decent turnout and I taught how to pray in English, and we learned how to sing "Jesus Said Love Everyone".

I am really enjoying my mission and I love serving others. I testify that this is the true gospel, and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. It is by His Atonement we can be saved.

I love you all. Have a great week.

Elder Evan Smith

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Interviews with Mission President

Monday we had to go Huacho for interviews with president, and my companion and I went to the doctor to get our ingrown toenails taken care of, and after a nightmare of waiting and misunderstandings, turned out that the doctor wasn't in. So we went yesterday and didn't get back until late. It our P-day because of travel to get to interview, but I got some new sweet ties and found a decent hamburger joint in the mall in Barranca. A nice change from arroz con pollo, but I felt like it was missing something...the arroz con pollo!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Finding a new family

Here's a photo of us when we played fútbol today on
the grass field! (a rare find in the deserty coast of Perú)

Wow, here is August.

This last week, we had a pretty cool experience. We have been giving away the youth messages that come in the Liahona magazines that are collected up in our room, like the full page ad style messages with a quote and image or something, and using that as a way to contact people and teach them.

We were in a part called Atusparia looking for where one of our street contacts lived to give them one of these messages, and we asked for directions from this one nice family that was sitting outside on the porch peeling, separating, or whatever you do to prepare green onions. They were super nice, and sent one of their family members to guide us to the right house. Turned out that the person was busy, so after we set an appointment we turned away to move on when I stopped a moment.

During this time that we were talking briefly with this family and walking away, I felt like we should contact them and give them one of these messages. We were a little far away from them, and I thought it might be awkward to reappear in their porch having just been guided away from there, but I thought, what the heck, if we end up teaching them it's worth it. They were really interested in the message that was about the family, and I gave them a Family Proclamation too. We talked a little more and they let us share the message of the Restoration and they accepted a baptismal date.

I testify that this is the Lord's work and that it is super important to follow the Spirit's promptings the FIRST time we receive them. I love you all. Hope you have a great week.

Monday, July 25, 2016

New investigators, a week full of miracles

My new fuzzy hat

Well this week was awesome. We found a lot of new investigators to teach. Wednesday in the evening, we were doing one of our finding ways, singing hymns to families. In particular, we knocked on one door and sung to a family "Families Can Be Together Forever". They let us in to teach them a little more and we taught the Restoration and they accepted a baptismal date for 20 Agosto! They have 3 Aaronic Priesthood age boys, so this could be a huge help to our quorums.

The other Elders in our barrio had a baptism on Saturday, and we invited one of our conversos to bring her family and they were really interested and we got to go visit them on Sunday and they too are interested in the gospel and how to help their family.

In short, it was a week full of miracles and tender mercies for us.

On the subject of food, I did eat a super great lunch today. If you guys feel in the mood for some popular Peruano food, look up papa a la huancaina con arroz con pollo. Also, something to try for dad, my companion, who is from northern Peru, and apparantly the crazy side, has suggested that I try my spagetti with banana. It really isnt so bad. He also had me try chaufa (fried rice) with banana and also not so bad. Sounds like a dish for dad.

I love you all a bunch. Sounds like a fun High Adventure (Dad & Marty) and I cant wait to hear about trek (Catherine & Carson)!

Elder Evan Smith

Investigator's superman puppy

Monday, July 18, 2016

Teaching with a member

This week we have been teaching the Familia Huertas, and focusing more with them to help them keep the Sabbath day holy. They always work on Sundays to have enough money to provide for their family, but we had brought our converso reciente with us to this lesson and he testified of the truth that our Padre Celestial really does bless us when we obey his commandments. He is a mototaxista and said that he works hard during the week to earn money and has enough to eat and help provide for his family too. He doesn't take out the taxi on Sundays but his friends sometimes call him a fool and other names and say how they've made double because of all the people there are on Sundays. Even though it was hard to hear that, Hno. Guerrero said that he has never lacked food to eat. It was such a perfect teaching moment when having a member's testimony really brought home the lesson and the investigators could feel it.

I hope you guys have the opportunities to go out with the missionaries often. I personally testify of the miracles and effects that a testimony from someone with more life experience than a 18 year old missionary has.

I love you all. Let me know if you have any questions or something you want me to share with you.

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, July 11, 2016

New Mission President!

This last week we got to know our new mission president, Pres. Stauffer! He is the best. The work keeps moving along. In our meeting with President, he focused a lot on a few principles. In John 14:15 it says "If ye love me, keep my commandments." And there is a lot of truth in this sort little scripture. It's hard to love the Savior if you don't know Him very well, and that's why it's so important to repent and accept His Atonement in our lives, to let Him change and heal us. When we feel His love this way, it provides a strong source for us to keep His commandments, because we really love Him! And with that kind of love we can feel, it is so important to repent every day.

This goes well with 2 Nefi 25:26. The actions found in this scripture apply well in the missionary life, but in normal lifestyle too. As we feel the Saviors Atonement we are able to rejoice in Him.

This week we have been working with our current investigators to help them get baptized and we found more people to teach too. More specifically we found a family that really likes having us come teach them and they accepted the invitation to be baptized, but they work on Sundays. It was a great opportunity for us to listen carefully to them and the Spirit and teach about faith and the importance of prayer.

I love being a missionary.

I love you all. I hope you've all had a great week.

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July

[?] Happy 4th of July

I actually forgot it was 4th of July until my Peruvian companion reminded me this morning.

Today to celebrate our holiday p-day we got together as a zone and played futbolito, volleyball, and ate "completos" (a Chilean food...)

It was the best week this past week we've had in a while. We have some new families in our teaching pool, and one of them came to church last Sunday. We have a new mission president as of 2 days ago which is a pretty big change, but from what we've heard from our leaders already is that he is awesome.

Last Tuesday, as we were waking up to the alarm going off on our cell phone, I picked it up, having forgotten that it was plugged in on our mesita charging (I just woke up...) and it fell and broke. And it was a Nokia indestructible brick phone! It's only a little inconvenient that now whenever we want to call we have to look for a public payphone. I'm still figuring out the spiritual lesson I'm supposed to learn from this experience.

The weather this last week has gotten a little warmer, which is strange because we are in the middle of winter.

I tried a new kind of food from our pensionista, chanfainita. Because it sounds like chaufa, which is fried rice with chicken, I thought I'd love it. All I can say it is nothing like chaufa, unless the recipe was changed to include cow lung and cow heart. It was good.

We were teaching a family the other day and the father was expressing his concerns for his recently lost job and his rebelious 12-year-old daughter and how he can improve his family. He was asking us for counsel, and it was a really great opportunity to bear my testimony of the blessings of living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful to have grown up in a family active in His gospel and now I have a perfect knowledge of those blessings.

I love you all very much.
Have an awesome week

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, June 27, 2016

Learning, following the Spirit

Toshi was baptized on June 18

This week has been full of great learning opportunities. We had our last multi-zone meeting with our president and he talked to us about applying the principles of our mission in our life. It brought to my attention the importance of eternal families, but more than anything the importance of following the counsel we receive from the Prophet and Apostles.

We have been teaching an investigator that is hard of hearing, and it's helped me to really narrow down all the things I could say to the simple truths of the gospel. He doesn't hear very much, and it's even harder because I'm a gringo, so I've found the trick is to have something to write on and have him read important principles. It's amazing to see the influence the Spirit has on people even if they may not understand every word I say.

We've also been able to learn how to break out of old habits. Sometimes we just get into a routine of doing things, going places, even teaching, but the Lord's work has to be done in His way, by His Spirit. I have found good counsel in Preach my Gospel and the Scriptures.

I'm sad to hear about Brother Fifita. I remember when he was my Sunday School teacher when I was 12 years old. This week I have been studying faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the talk from this past general conference just came to my mind from the Sunday session about when it comes down to the moments of trial, do we really believe in the principles of the gospel?

I testify that the Savior lives and He loves us. I am honored to be His representative. I strive to be more like Him every day.

I love you all very much. Have a great week!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Great week in Paramonga

It has been a great week in Paramonga. This week we were contacting and found a man who had a pamphlet already of the Restoration and wanted to figure out how to buy a Book of Mormon. He could not believe his ears when we offered the book for free. He belongs to the church "Dios es Amor" but told us he hasn't been attending because he doesn't have enough money to pay his "tithing" that they require to be a faithful member. We were glad to have found him to share the restored gospel.

Today for P-day we visited la Fortaleza de Paramonga. It is an ancient fort that the Incas used way back in the 9th century. It was awesome. I am trying to send photos.

I love you guys a lot! I hope everything keeps going well. Hope you had a great weekend Dad! All of Paramonga certainly celebrated Fathers Day.

Love you

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tri-Mission Conference with Elder Rasband

This week we will start to have multi-zone conferences with President Archibald, and this will be the last time we get to see him. Our new mission president comes at the end of June.

I can't believe the school year is already ending! A year ago I was probably going through graduation practices and things like that. Time really does fly.

Going to Lima [for our tri-mission conference] was crazy. We had to leave at 1 in the morning to get there at about 5am. I think they were planning so early so that we'd get there if there was traffic but it was fast. It was awesome! It is such a powerfully spiritual experience when we all sing together. It's interesting because when the person conducting begins it sort of feels like any other Sunday meeting, but when the music starts I could literally feel in my chest the power of all the missionaries in the room.

Elder Rasband visited us, and it was the most spiritual experience I've had in a long time. Before he started, he shook everyone's hand. Just so you understand, there was the Lima North, Lima Central, and Lima West missions there. More than 600 missionaries! He then told us how he had shaken Pres. Monson's hand the week before, and so we were just one handshake away from the prophet.

Elder Rasband talked about our divine call as missionaries, and shared how as an Apostle he gets to assign missionaries regularly. The other week he assigned some 120 mission calls and he said that those were the ones that would be received and opened just last week. He also spoke about how we can listen to the Spirit better and act on our impressions.

Yo testifico con certeza que soy llamado a servir aquí en la Misión Perú Lima Oeste porque el Señor me ha llamado aquí. Yo sé que Thomas S. Monson es el profeta viviente del Señor y que es un gran bendición que puedo compartir y apresurar Su obra en estas días. Les amo con todo mi corazón. ¡Tengan una buena semana!

Monday, June 6, 2016

New Companion, Guinea Pig for Lunch!

A street here in Paramonga

This week has been great! I have a new companion, Elder Estrada, that is from Piura, Perú. He is really funny and a really hard worker. There have been quite a few cambios this last week, mostly so that the leaders aren't all about to end their mission when our new mission president comes.

Yesterday was the big voting day, well it was segunda vuelta, because the vote in April was really close. So there was a ton of people in the streets and it was great for contacting families!

We have an investigator that's a lawyer, Carlos, and he's the best. He likes to read and just from reading the introduction has a bunch of really good questions about Joseph Smith. When we helped him understand the Restoration, he was so amazed that he was a prophet of God and did so many miracles. He said he wants to go to the municipio and change his name to José Smith!

This week I was studying from 2 Nephi 30 y 31 and I really liked how Nefi starts out by saying that he speaks plainly, and that his soul delights in the plainness of the doctrine of Christ. This reconfirmed to me that our unique message of the Restoration really is simple and true, and that the Spirit is who carries it to the hearts of the people.

On the lighter side, if you leave your guinea pig out, I may get to it first. We had guinea pig for lunch yesterday. It's a little more rubbery than chicken, but tasty all the same.

What's this, you say?


Monday, May 23, 2016

Following the Spirit and Loving the People

What a week. It went by fast too. This week I learned the importance of following the Spirit and loving the people. I've found a lot of counsel in the scriptures and comfort in prayer. Sunday night we had a really inspired lesson with nuevos that we found. It was getting to the end of the day and we had been praying to find people to teach all week, and that day especially. We saw a man coming home from work and open the door to a child running into his arms, and we felt we should talk to them. They let us in and it turns out the man is single and lives with his sister who is a single mom. They said they'd been looking for God in their own lives and had been praying to get a Bible to study. They knew we weren't there by coincidence and were really interested in the Book of Mormon. And they have a baptismal date set for 2 July.

Yo sé que el Espíritu Santo es real, y es por medio de Su guía que podemos encontrar las personas que Dios está preparando. Es cierto que como un misionero de tiempo completo, es mi papel hacer este obra todos los días, pero sé que también Dios está preparando personas en sus caminos, y que al seguir ese mismo Espíritu, pueden ayudar en apresurar la obra de salvación. Estoy tan agradecido por este Evangelio verdadero que cambia vidas, y nos acerca más a Dios y Jesucristo.

Gracias por todo su apoyo, amor, y cartas. Les amo muchísimo. Que tengan una buena semana!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, May 16, 2016

Interviews with Mission President

This week we had interviews with our mission president, and it was super helpful for us to improve with our investigators. We learned the importance of teaching things the way they really are, when it comes to investigators that are just kind of there in between making a commitment and not.

We really have the truth, and baptism is literally the door to entering the path to the celestial kingdom, and the investigators have to really understand that. There's no reason to try and extend commitments in a comfortable or persuasive way, just follow the Spirit.

Have a great week everyone! Love you all tons

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mothers Day on Skype

There's not a whole lot that's changed between last night and today, but I just want to say I love you guys. I love what Dad shared with me about listening to the Spirit. As a missionary we are always asking the Lord to help us find families. But that doesn't have sentido if we don't act on the impressions we receive. It's also true what Mom said that everyone is different and has their own situations in life, but the Gospel is for everyone, and everyone can be healed by Christ's Atonement.

I love you all. It was nice to see everyone yesterday. I hope you had a great day Mom. Thank you for all your support, advice, counsel, and prayers. Have a good week!

With love,
Elder Evan Smith

Monday, May 2, 2016

An Answer to Prayer to Find an Investigator

This week we had a really spiritual experience last Monday evening. My companion and I were doing one of our maneras para encontrar (contacting approaches) at 7 and we had a couple citas (appointments) at 8, but no one we talked to wanted to hear more, and our citas cayeron (appointments fell through). So at 8:30 we were knocking on doors without much luck, when I said to my companion, well we're here for a reason. We wouldn't be walking around for an hour and a half for nothing, there's got to be someone who needs us. So we said a short prayer and waited a moment. We crossed the street to knock on a door and a man was walking by. We contacted him and he was pretty receptive. We asked him how his day was going and he started to get a little emotional and said he's going through a rough time with his wife, and their on the road to divorce. He has a little 1 year old son too that he doesn't want to lose. We talked about eternal families and asked if he'd like to hear more. He led us to his house and we shared the Restoration and the Family Proclamation and he said he felt really good and wants us to teach his wife too. Like our mission president says, la obra misional es espiritual (missionary work is spiritual), and the power of prayer is real!

This week I've been studying from Alma 5 a little and there's a part I really like.
6 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?
Alma is talking to us too, about our ancestors that were pioneers, that gave up everything to follow the prophet and establish the Church. And because of them, today I'm on a mission in another country bringing the gospel to more of God's children.

Estoy tan agradecido por ser un misionero. Estoy aprendiendo muchas cosas que sé que van a ayudarme por el resto de mi vida. Más de todo, estoy ayudando otras personas a hacer lo mismo por sus propias vidas. Tengo un testimonio del Espíritu Santo, que Él es el maestro, y solo soy uno de los instrumentos. A veces tenemos dificultades y pruebas, pero sé que es para que aprendamos a través de oposición. Sé que Dios nos da debilidades para que tengamos humildad y cuando mostramos a Dios este humildad, vamos a fortalecer nuestras debilidades a fortalezas. Gracias por todo su apoyo y oraciones.

Monday, April 25, 2016

First Week in Paramonga with Elder Mora

View from our apartment

Well, week 1 in my new area is over. My new companion is Elder Mora. He's from Colombia. He's super awesome! Right off the bat we got to work and it's really fun working with him. So far with him I've learned how to work hard and have fun too.

It's way different than back in Mi Perú. Mi Perú is basically built on a hill, so it was a lot of uphill and downhill. Paramonga is totally flat. I think I might have 2 little hills in one spot, but that's like nothing. It's also a lot colder. In Mi Perú I was dying in short sleeves, but here I actually pulled out my sweaters and have to use them once the sun goes down. We live in an apartment building, and I really like our room a lot. Our pensionista lives just across the street, and they actually run a restaurant that's open in the evenings, but that's where we eat lunch every day. It's a lot of the same foods, but some new ones too. I ate guinea pig for my first time, and it's pretty good. Tastes like chicken, as Dad might say!

Paramonga is a ward, and just recently too. Before it was 2 branches, but in January they put them both together. There's another compañerismo in the ward, so Paramonga is split in halves.

There's some interesting history behind the city of Paramonga. You can probably find most of it online or something. There's a lot of older couples here, but a lot of families too. We have a couple investigators progresando for baptism in the coming weeks, and just this past week we found a couple families that we're pretty excited about.

Something I've learned this week is the power of being steadfast. That's really the key to living the Gospel, doing it with constancia. This week I was studying about humility in King Benjamin's lesson to the people in Mosiah chapter 4:
11 ...humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel. 
12 ...And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins...
I thought about how that connects to the tree of life in Lehi's dream, and how sweet the fruit was that he tasted, and how that's the love of God feels when we receive a remission of our sins. And by being steadfast in humility, and praying too, among other things, we can feel that love of God more frequently.

I really testify of that. As things go in the missionary life, sometimes we are running late and have to get out the door to a meeting on time. But before I hadn't realized as I do now, that I never seem to forget to eat breakfast or get dressed for the day, and so should be the same with praying. It should be something that we always do. I'm super grateful to have learned this from my companion.

Have a great week! Love you all.

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, April 18, 2016

First Transfer! Baptism!

Paramonga is about 200 km (125 mi) North of Lima

Another change has gone by, and I'm going (from Mi Perü) up north out of Lima (to Paramonga)! I have no idea what to expect, but I'll have more on that next week.

Ultimo Bautismo en Mi Perú

This last weekend we baptized an hermana in a part-member family. We reactived her mom who was baptized way back when. We have several other people progressing for the coming weeks, but sadly I won't see them.

This week my companion and I were doing a little bit of street contacting, and we met a guy working as security for the municipalidad, and his name was Hitler! We didn't believe him, but he showed us his ID card. Hitler Chavez. He said he's not sure what his parents were thinking.

This week we taught one of our investigators about the commandments, and about the word of wisdom, he asked us, so why is coffee so bad? I explained to him that there are various reasons why doctors say it may or may not be healthy for us, but more than anything it's a commandment from God. And if God tells you to do something, you'd do it, right? And he said, well, when you say it that way, of course! He's also looking for a job and asked about if working on Sunday is okay, and I explained pretty much the same about how keeping the Sabbath day holy is a commandment.

The (double-walled metal) water bottle I got from Catherine (my early Christmas present last year) is the BEST. It's probably the most coveted item in my district. (haha!) But it seriously, it is the best when I'm up in the sand-covered hills, sweating bullets, and I can reach into my handy bag and drink ice cold water that I put in the bottle hours earlier.

This week I complete 6 months! Wow time does fly by, but so much happens in such a short time. Sounds like things are going well at home. Have a great week! Love you all.

Nuestro distrito

Monday, April 11, 2016

New Investigators

It's been a great week for our area this week. We found various new investigators that accepted invitations to read the Book of Mormon and be baptized. We just have to keep up with their progress in the coming weeks.

Yesterday was election day in all of Perú. Voting here is obligatory, the government fines you if you don't vote! So all the businesses close up Saturday night, and all day Sunday people line up at the schools to vote. It was crazy during the afternoon, but we were still able to go visit people throughout the day.

We had a super awesome lesson on Saturday with our converso reciente, Jose Salas, and he has always had lots of questions about doctrine. They're really good questions but a lot of the time I just don't know how to answer very efficiently to not make him have even more questions. But this time we brought our branch mission leader and a menos activo that has a lot of life experience, and a really good testimony of the Book of Mormon. Anyways, these two members directed the lesson really well, and their testimonies are really what helped Jose feel the Spirit strong and encourage him to overcome his challenges right now. It was probably the best lesson I've had in my whole mission. Whenever you guys get the chance, go out and teach with the missionaries!

I love hearing from you guys. Love you all. (I'll try to send some pictures next week.)

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, April 4, 2016

Gringos Jumped for Joy

General Conference was great! The whole stake was invited to view all the sessions there on the projector screen there. All the gringos in our zone were able to view it in a side room in English, which was really cool. I'm not sure how the congregation reacted when the new temple was announced but our room of gringos literally jumped for joy, fists pumping and all. We still don't know exactly where the temple will be, but we're certain it's in our mission.

I really liked the talks in conference. Elder Holland's message was just what I needed to hear too. I really liked President Uchtdorf's message about the city that was completely destroyed and rebuilt by human beings. Even the cathedral was rebuilt to be a marvelous place of worship. So then, if we as normal people can do that, why can't God, being all-powerful, help us when we are lost? Not that I'm lost or anything, I just really liked the analogy.

Other than conference, it's been a bit of a slower week for me, we had to go into Lima to the mission offices a couple times for meetings, I finally got my ingrown toenail fixed, and then I got sick. But nothing that a few saltines and 7-up couldn't fix. I'm ready to go for this week!

I'm so grateful for the huge blessing we have to hear from the prophet and apostles. I know that God knows our real intent, and it's okay if everything doesn't work out perfect. I'm so grateful to have a family that backs me up and is there for me. I love you all.

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, March 28, 2016

Really Cool Spiritual Experiences

This week I had some really cool spiritual experiences.

On Friday we were walking in a part of our area called Confraternidad (yep that's ''With Brotherhood'' and we found a little development I'd never seen called Los Piños de Mi Perú (not a single pine tree in sight though haha). Anyways, we had a reference for that area so we knocked on this one door to ask for directions, and to ask if we could teach them too. They said no, another day please.

So we were on our way to find this reference, but they didn't answer the door. Neither did their neighbors. I had this feeling that we should go back to the first house in Los Piños to ask one more time if we could talk more with them. I wasn't sure how they would react, but we went back. The same woman came to the door and said, let me check with my husband. A few minutes later they let us in. Turns out, they're a menos activo family! The husband used to be the bishop of a ward in Southern Perú, but when they moved they decided to inactivar.

After we taught a little about the Book of Mormon, they felt the Spirit so strong. The wife said that she'd been thinking about how to help her family, and we just happened to come to the door. And when they were a little stubborn to let us in, we came back, and she knew what her family was missing. That really strengthened  my testimony of listening to the Holy Ghost.

Also this week we found a young couple who are convivientes, but the woman is a member! She hadn't been to church in a while, but her pareja was interested in listening to us. They live in very humble circumstances, but we taught them about the Restoration in their little apartment, and the man just told us directly at the end, ''I feel like I've received the answer to my questions about religion I've had for so many years. Thank You.'' So we got to the part to set a goal for them to get married, and normally convivientes I've met don't feel like marriage is important, so I was preparing for the worst. I asked them what's keeping them from starting papers, and they said, you know what, this week we're going to go to the offices and start our papers.

I know that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. His Atonement is real. The love He has for us is so great that words cannot describe it, only the power of the Holy Ghost can testify it.

Thanks for all your love and support.

Love you guys.

Monday, March 21, 2016

21 marzo - Hermano Jose!

Bautizamos Hno. Jose el sabado pasado.
Alli está mi nuevo compañero Elder Cadima también,
y mi líder de distrito, Elder Johnson con varios miembros de la rama.

It's been another great week in Mi Perú! It's not quite as hot anymore, but we're still in the summertime.

This last Saturday we baptized Hno. Jose! He's really excited to have finally made this covenant with Heavenly Father. It was a really nice baptismal service. I got to baptize him too! I think I need to work on my form so the person I'm baptizing doesn't feel like I'm trying to drown them.

This last Thursday we had a multi-zone training meeting with our mission president, and I learned a lot of things, one of them being how we can recognize if our lessons are being adjusted to each person we teach. I'm hoping to teach the Vilca family again this week and focus more with this principle of teaching according to their needs.

At church on Sunday the husband of our pensionista, who is a converso reciente from the elders here about 8 months ago, gave his first talk in sacrament meeting. It was super good! I felt the Spirit really strongly seeing him bear his testimony about how the gospel has just made him so much happier in his life.

In Ether 12 it talks a lot about faith, which is really important, and is the first principle taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that with faith in Jesus Christ, we can gain a greater testimony of Him and His Gospel. Estoy tan agradecido por estar aquí en la misión. Estoy aprendiendo como trabajar con el Espíritu Santo mejor cada semana. Y mas de todo, estoy sumamente agradecido por la Expiación de Jesucristo. A través de ella, podemos estar completamente perdonado, y este tiempo del año con Pascua es un momento perfecto para pensar mas en la influencia de Él en nuestras vidas.

Have a great week! Love you all.

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mission Conference, Thoughts on the Book of Mormon

I really appreciate your support and prayers. These last few months I've learned so much, it's like I've finally opened my eyes to read what the scriptures are telling me. And yet so much of my mission is left, it makes me excited to keep moving on and learning more! I'm so excited for general conference in a few weeks.

Wow the time really is going by fast here! It's still pretty hot here too. I think the strongest heat is over but it's not supposed to start cooling off until April or even May. I laugh a little when I remember that I brought my big poofy Columbia coat.

We had a visit from Elder Robbins, from the presidency of the Seventy I'm pretty sure, this last Thursday, so we all got up super early to go to La Molina, where the CCM (Lima MTC) is. The capilla next door is grandazo! One of the coolest things ever was hear the piano way up front start playing the introduction to the opening hymn and all of a sudden 500 elders start singing. I was a little startled but I felt the Spirit so strong. That's somethings I've noticed on my mission; I really feel the Spirit when I listen or sing hymns. But Elder Robbins spoke about the importance of obedience, and why we should be obedient. I got to see my old companion too which was nice.

I've been reading in Ether this week, and I was thinking for a little while about why we have the book of Ether. Because up to this point, the whole Book of Mormon is chronological right? Why jump back to talk about the Jaredites? I haven't quite figured that out yet, but I've found a lot of good verses that I like. Maybe that's why Moroni included it...

Anyways in Ether 4:12 I thought it was really interesting when it talks about accepting the words of Christ
12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good; he that will not believe my words will not believe me—that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.
It made me think, the Book of Mormon is the word of Christ, so if people won't believe that, how are they going to believe Christ Himself when He comes? As I thought about that, it brought a new light to my calling, that I need to help people to receive the Book of Mormon so that they can accept and come unto Christ.

Love you guys, hope you have a great week!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, March 7, 2016

Working Hard with Member Power

Elder Chavez and I with our pensionista's family 
the day before transfers

It's been another great week in Mi Perú. My companion and I have been working hard with our investigators that were going to get baptized this last Saturday, but there's a point when we as missionaries have done all we can to help them and they need to make decisions and set goals, so they will have their interviews this week and we're praying for their baptism this Saturday!

Something I've been learning as a missionary is the power of lessons with members. Even better is when we can leave with a member for a couple hours and meet some of the old investigators, less actives, and friends that they know that we would have likely never found. The simple and powerful testimonies that they have too are always perfect for the investigators.

This week I've also been focusing on writing in my journal each night. It's a little hard, but it really helps me reflect on my day and recognize the blessings and influence of the Spirit that I had.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity each Sunday to partake of the Sacrament. It's such a powerful moment for me to reflect on the loving sacrifice Jesus Christ made specifically for me, and it's also really hard to describe these feelings in words.

Love you all! Have a great week

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, February 22, 2016

New Companion in Mi Perú

Well this week is cambios [transfers], and my companion is going up North. In our mission, there are 7 zones that are smaller that are just north of Lima, and 3 big zones that are North. I'm not sure who my new companion is, but we exchange tomorrow morning.

A couple of weeks ago a man started attending church and said he wanted to be baptized, but he left before we could figure out where he lived. So this last week we saw him again and found out he was meeting with the missionaries before but he moved to our area recently. He's basically ready for baptism, but he doesn't really understand why he should read the Book of Mormon, so that's our focus with him.

I'm getting way more used to the food here. At first it was hard to eat so much rice but now it's more normal. I actually like a lot of the different foods here. One of my favorites is called papa rellena, which is like a potato stuffed with vegetables and eggs, fried, and served with mayo on top and rice on the side.

This last week was one of the hottest weeks I've ever experienced. I heard it's like 32-34 degrees Celsius, but the thermic temperature is more like 37-38. It's also really humid. But I hear that it starts to go down in March.

I've been pondering a lot this week about the Holy Ghost. Sometimes I feel frustrated when I'm trying to do my part and the results aren't as good as they could be. At first I've been thinking, what am I doing wrong, but I think at the same time I need to be more patient.

Everything's going great down in Perú! It's great to read about what's going on with you guys. Love you all! Take care.

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, February 8, 2016

Zone Conference and Baptism!

This week we had our zone conference with our mission president, and after we had entrevistas (interviews). Apparently always before entrevistas, president talks with the district together for training. So we had a lot of good training that day with president. All in all, I recognize now that I need to improve my contacting and talking with everyone I see. This past weekend I've been contacting way more, and feeling more content with my ability to talk comfortably with people.

One experience I had with Elder Chavez was that we were passing through a neighborhood and we started talking to a group of men when one of them pulled us aside and asked us to stop by his house because he wants to change his life around for his family. We taught them lesson 1 and they came to church on Sunday! It was so great!

We are seeing a lot of really great improvement in the rama (branch) in the last few weeks. This past Sunday we had a really good attendance in Sacrament meeting, which is really good. Hna. (Sister) Virginia, who was baptized the first week in January, already has a calling as the Relief Society secretary and has been to the temple to do baptisms!!!

This last Saturday Hna. Ana was baptized! She is super nice and especially connects with the missionaries because her son just left for his mission in Argentina. I got to baptize her! It was a very spiritual experience for me. Our investigating family came too, so we are really excited to see the rama continue to grow.

Bautizamos Hermana Ana!

Este semana aprendí mucho que realmente, más de cualquier otra cosa, los fundamentos del Evangelio son lo más importante. A veces estamos perdido en todos los detalles y cositas que tiene importancia, pero al fin del día, la verdad que Jesucristo vino a la tierra dispuesto a dar su vida para nosotros, y lo hizo, y resucitó es tan poderoso para mi. También, que tenemos un libro de escritura tan perfecto, y que podemos orar para saber por nosotros mismos que es verdadera quiere decir que realmente tenemos un Padre Celestial amoroso, y el tiene un plan perfecto para nosotros. Estoy tan emocionado para hacer la obra acá en Perú, y les amo profundamente también. Gracias por todo su apoyo y amor! Hasta la próxima semana!

(Translation: This week, I learned a lot really, more than anything else, the basics of the Gospel are most important. Sometimes, we get lost in all the details and little things that matter, but at the end of the day, the fact that Jesus Christ came to Earth willing to give his life for us, and that he did that and rose from the tomb is so powerful to me. Also, we have a book of scriptures so perfect, and we can pray to know for ourselves that we really have a loving Heavenly Father, and He has a perfect plan for us. I'm so excited to do the Lord's work here in Peru, and I love them deeply too. Thanks for all your support and love! Until next week!)

Elder Evan Smith