Monday, January 25, 2016

25 Enero (January 25th)

Hola familia! This week has been another great one! We had a worldwide missionary training broadcast from salt lake that was really good. Pretty much everything I learned, our mission president has been teaching us in our training, so I liked that. It was interesting, because there would be a normal formatted talk, then a video of a sort of small-group q/a session with a general authority and a dozen missionaries. It was super funny to see all those missionaries with ipads, and when the leader said something like ''lets all turn to the book of mormon'' all the missionaries start tapping away. Our whole zone burst out laughing haha the work seems totally different from here sometimes!

We also had stake conference this weekend in our zone. Our mission president was there too, which was really cool. He is a really powerful speaker. In the Saturday night adult session, there was a brother giving a talk about how we should improve our implementation of technology in our lives, and to make the message more vibrant, he started pulling out records, tape decks, vhs tapes, an old rotary telephone, a usb drive, and finally his smartphone. This message was powerful because in a developing country where there aren't a whole lot of comfortable extras, when it becomes flooded with smartphones, the people just absorb it up.

Our mission president talked about the importance of teaching and converting families, and how that's been taught since the times of Joseph Smith in missionary work. President then called up a convert family the missionaries that converted them and explained their story, how they were initially pretty hard to teach but were baptized and now the husband is in the bishopric, only a little more than a year later. They have 3 daughters, so President called up 3 men to respresent their future husbands, then 12 more people to represent their future children. Now the stands up front are really full, there's about 20 people standing by the pulpit. But President wanted to further emphasize this point, and called for 36 more people to come up to be their future grandchildren. Now the stands are beyond overflowing, but it became obviously clear that by the efforts of these missionaries, literally the future generations of the family are eternally blessed. He also brought up the point of how we can look back the other way, and start our family history work and bless our family tremendously.

Our investigators that are planning on getting baptized this week, Arturo y Estefania (Arthur and Stephanie), are the best. Here theres a saying, que ellos son lo maximo! There are so many sayings I've learned here that I understand their meaning completely, but I can't put exactly a perfect translation to. I think the best way to say it is they're amazing. But it's so true. Arturo has so much experience with anything and everything Peru. He was in the police for a long time. That's sort of a thing here, if you're in the police, I think you have a contract with them for 30 years. But he's been to every province and part of Peru, from mountains of Huaras to the jungle in Iquitos. He has some really cool stories from the jungle. Over there, there are parts where the natives don't have any modern technology or connection to the outside world, but it's kind of like the nephites and lamanites from the book of mormon, the two sides are fighting each other and it's sort of a case of whoever has the better weapons wins the land. So the police help the village people that are really good people but need defense. Arturo said try to imagine hundreds of people scattered in the vegetation, hidden, with their bows and arrows and blowguns, and the police in the middle with their big machine guns. Haha, what a difference in living, in the same country!

This week I've been reading in Helaman, when Samuel the Lamanite is preaching repentance to the Nephites who aren't paying much attention to him, and I really understood at this point the reality of the pride cycle. We can see countless times in the book of mormon the people so faithful and humbled before the Lord in prayer and repentance, but after just a few short years of blessings, they forget the Lord and start to live in sin. I really hits home to me now that we must be faithful to our covenants and obey the commandments not just in times of need and despair, but in times of prosperity and success too. For me in the mission field, this means praying for my investigators not just when they are struggling, but when they are fulfilling their commitments too. I have begun to realize the diligence this requires. But it's a blessing to learn it early on in my mission too.

Thanks for everything you guys do. Your support means everything to me. There is so much work to do here, that I don't have a lot of time to write other letters or send cool things home, but if I find a way I'll make it happen. I love you guys a lot. Take care!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, January 18, 2016

¡No hablo inglés!

It's getting harder and harder to write letters home in English when my brain defaults to Spanish haha. It's cool to here about the missionary work going on back home! It's so different here haha. I think it's because of how different the culture is here. Our mission president is really powerful. I've never met someone with a stronger testimony of Joseph Smith. I've been thinking a lot this week about the Holy Ghost. I've learned from experience that by His power, our investigators can really feel the power of our message and be converted. Not to mention that it's only by the this power of the Holy Ghost we can preach the Gospel. I don't have much more time, but thanks for your support, and from the whole family. Love you guys!

Elder Evan Smith

Monday, January 11, 2016

Stayin' Strong in Mi Perú

First transfer down, a lot more to go. Still with Elder Chavez in Mi Perú!

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Years Eve Fireworks and First Baptism

¿Cómo estan ustedes? It's been a good week here in Mi Perú! I found out that for new years, the fireworks are even MORE crazy than Christmas. They also have this interesting tradition of getting an old pair of clothes and stuffing it full of other old clothes, to make a ''doll'' of all your old clothes from the year. Then for new years, at midnight, they light it on fire!! There is another tradition that if you wear yellow, you'll have more luck during the year. So the markets were selling yellow shirts, pants, underwear, you name it. And if you eat 12 grapes at midnight, you'll have more luck too. I could go on and on haha. I really love the people here.

So from reading Sister Smith's letter I found out they actually speak a lot of English there. I don't think I've talked about our Spanish here, but it's totally different! We only speak Spanish all the time. It's standard for north Americans to always have a Latino companion, so I speak Spanish all day with him. And when I'm helping him with English during Language study and other times, I speak basic words and in a Latino accent so he can understand me, so my English is slowly deteriorating. In all our meetings we speak Spanish so that everyone can understand. Our mission president said he wants the north americans to speak Spanish so that the Latinos don't feel like we're excluding them or hiding anything. I've realized I'm being blessed with the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues because of how quickly I'm moving along with my Spanish. Every North American missionary I talk to is blown away that I've only been in the field for a month. That being said, my Spanish isn't perfect and it's still super hard to understand certain accents or people that talk slurred or really fast.

Usually when we contact people we initiate by saying ''Hi how are you?, How's it going, How's your day? It's really hot today isn't it? How was your new years? With your family right? There's a lot of fireworks every year right? Well it's really nice meeting you and your family. I can tell that you guys are very nice. We as missionaries share a really great message about Jesus Christ and families, can we share it with your family sometime?'' Of course all in Spanish though :)

Virginia is the first baptism in Mi Perú in several months

Well I don't have more time, but we had my first baptism last Saturday. I'm really excited to see the fruits of our efforts. I'm learning that the power of prayer is real. Like it says in Alma 32 (I think) that we should pray for everything, our friends, our enemies, our crops in the fields, etc.