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