Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The last epistle of Elder Smith

July 24, 2017

Hey family,

  I never believed this day would come.  It kind of just snuck up on me  (even though sometimes it feels like I've been here my whole life).  I'll start by telling you about our week and then maybe include something kind of gushy at the end.

   On Wednesday we were basically just in the house all day because of the holiday.  On Thursday through Sunday we worked hard as normal.  We made great process this week with Luis (the old guy) and his daughter's family. On Sunday Luis came to church with his daughter Evelin, her husband Ricardo, and their 3 kids (11 yr old and two 6 yr old twins).  They had a good time in church except for one of the 6 yr olds did NOT want to be in primary and started crying.  Guisselle also came to church with her mom and we had some good lessons with her this week. Also Marvin is progressing really well and came to church with his family and has been participating a lot more (and doing things like singing along in church).  

   On Sunday I was asked to speak in church and bear my testimony since a speaker didn't show up and the bishopric knew it was my last Sunday.  It went well and hopefully it was a good way to get warmed up for my homecomeing talk this week.  

   After church on Sunday the Cruz family came and made us lunch (a family from San Judas)  The food was really good and I'm really going to miss them.  They made us a cake that said "Adios ex-misioneros" (goodbye ex-missionaries).  It was really nice and we had a good time.  

   Well here goes the gushy stuff....

   I've been reflecting a lot on my mission these last couple days and honestly it's a weird, but wonderful experience to serve a mission.  Sometimes the time goes by kind of slow but most of the time it's seemed to fly by.  I can say though that these two years serving the Lord and these people have been wonderful.  I've learned so much about just how much God loves all of his children, about his gospel, and a lot about myself as well.  It hasn't been without it's challenges, frustrations, pain, sickness, or heartache but it's something I wouldn't trade for anything.  I've grown closer to my Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ.  I know that they live and love us.  I know that Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer.  I know that this is His church, and that He guides it.  I invite all who haven't yet done so to humbly pray and ask the Lord if this is His church and follow faithfully in the answer that will surely come.  It's the only way to be truly happy.

   I love you all (especially my family) and I couldn't have made it through without them.  Words cannot express my gratitude for having been raised by goodly parents who both live and love the gospel. Your faithfulness will be felt for many generations to come.  I can't tell you how happy I am to see you and hug you on Thursday, and especially to meet Myles.  Yes mom, I am crying a little right now, but hopefully I can hold it in at the airport. 

   Also everyone that wants is invited to my homecoming on Sunday at 11 am in Riverton.  There will be sandwiches after.  And drinks in bags.  Nica style

Love You!!!!

Elder Smith

Eating nacatamales on Saturday

Lunch with family Cruz on Sunday

"Adios ex-misioneros" (goodbye ex-missionaries).

Friday, July 21, 2017

Happy Liberation Day!!

July 19, 2017

Hi fam,

  I'm writing today because today is Liberation day and because at night it's not safe for missionaries to be on the streets we'll be confined to our houses after we finish writing and so they made pday today and not on Monday.  But this monday will be normal pday.  

    Last week was pretty rough...  I got really sick and on Tuesday morning I just slept all morning but I toughed it out in the afternoon and on Wednesday I took a long nap after lunch too.  Also I puked on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I didn't start feeling better until late Friday, early Saturday.  Now I've just got a bit of a cough and that's about it.  

   Last week Alejandro's pastor came and talked crap on us so now he's not willing to go to church anymore with us.  We've made a lot of progress with Marvin and he came to church on Sunday but he's still not going to be ready to get baptized on Saturday.  Also Flor and Priscila came but they won't be ready either.  Mariel, the lady who needs to get married, her partner came and visited from Canada this week.  He's got a lot of Jehova's Witness roots but we've been teaching him and now he's reading the Book of Mormon and he came to church on Sunday with Mariel.  He goes home this Sunday.  Also we had another 80 yr old guy come named Luis.  He's the father of a lady we're teaching with her husband and son.  We thought for sure the whole family was coming but at least the dad came.  He doesn't hear very well so I don't think he really knew what was going on in church.  

   Yesterday our zone had interviews with President Brown so I was in the chapel with Sister Brown and the APs almost all day.  I had my final interview with President and it was so weird that I'm finally to that point.  He talked a lot about college, work, marriage and such.  

    Today we ate fried fish (picture attached).  It was ok but fish isn't my favorite.  

  Have a great week!  

  See you next week!

Elder Smith

Monday, July 10, 2017

I'm sick... :/

July 10, 2017

Hey fam,

  We had a good week.  It was pretty normal except for Wednesday when we went to Managua for my last leadership council.  It was good.  I like the direction the mission is headed and every time I go I gain an even greater love for President and Sister Brown and the awesome senior missionaries that help out.

   This week we found a less active girl that got baptized a couple years ago and she lives with her 81 yr old grandpa.  He said that if we passed by in the morning to go to church with him he would go (in Nicaragua 99% of the people that say that don't end up going) but we came by and he was ready and walked with us to church.  His name is Alejandro.  The members were really good to him and he seemed to really like it.  I'm not sure if he could really hear anything that was going on but I'm sure he felt the spirit anyway
   We also had a cool experience with a guy we always pass by to teach (he's a reference from our ward mission leader) but he is almost never home.  Every time we went by his dad would answer and tell us he's not home, but then after coming by like four times he invited us in and told us that the missionaries used to visit him and he'd like us to teach him again.  Another miracle is that in his house he has a big rug that kind of resembles carpet.  It was awesome to walk on.  Then when we came by to visit this guy he wasn't home but his son was.  And his son was awesome!  

   Yesterday Only Alejandro and Kevin (one of the kids we're teaching from the second counselor in the stake presidency's extended family) came.  Flor, Marvin and Priscila didn't come  because the little baby son of Marvin and Nephew of Flor got sick and they were in the hospital with him. 

    After church on Sunday we went to Jinotepe for our monthly meeting with the stake presidency and the bishops in the stake.  They were doing something in Jinotepe that day called the hipica where everyone gets super drunk and parades their  horses around the city.  We saw some interesting things.... Which you always do when there are drunk nicas around.  I attached the picture I took of the beer float.  

    Happy 4th of July last week, I hope you enjoyed the fireworks because there weren't any here.  

    Also I've had a super high fever the last two days and  I've been super cold.  Which shouldn't happen here. 

Elder Smith

Soaked in Jinotepe

July 3, 2017

Hey fam,

   We had a good week.  On Tuesday we did divisions with the elders from Masatepe, Elder Farber and Elder Shelley.  I worked with Elder Shelley, who has been here for three weeks in Nicaragua.  The poor guy was probably dying when everyone was reminding me that I have less than a month left.  But hey, we all had to pass through that stage.  We visited a less active family we heard about that lived in a bit of a scary neighborhood.  It´s all of the family of a counselor in the stake presidency.  We taught them and one guy came to church on Sunday with his nephew and his son (both 9 yrs old and not baptized).  The stake presidency guy (the less active´s brother) came up and just said, well Elders, there´s two people to baptize.  Perfect.  We don´t look to baptize kids but sometimes they come.  We´re focusing a lot on the ward to get the whole family reactivated so we don´t baptize the kids just for their family to go inactive and drag them down with them.

  On Wednesday the office missionaries told us to go to Jinotepe to drop off the IDs of a couple missionaries in our zone that are going home this change (myself included) with the zls there that had to go to Managua anyway the next day.  So we did the assigned task and got completely soaked on the way home (pic included) .  That kind of sucked.  The weather has been really cool lately with a little bit of rain every day.  

   On Thursday we went back to China (los fierros) to visit the convert family and show Elder Fotheringham where it is.  The family gave us a couple references down there but they weren´t that positive and definitely weren´t willing to go all the way to Diriamba for church.  But we got lucky on the way back because a pickup came by and gave us a ride.  It saved us like 4 kilometers of walking uphill.

  Other than that it was a pretty normal and boring week.  Flor and Priscila and Sebastian (Flor´s other son that´s already baptized) came to church.  Marvin disappeared.  Also Miracle Lennin disappeared.  We haven´t been able to find him since last sunday and his phone´s been off. The two kids that came to church are named Kevin and Dilan.  

   On Wednesday we have to go to Managua for my last leadership council.  I think that´s the only thing this week that´s out of the ordinary.  Today we played soccer with some kids from the ward and a few other missionaries, cut our hair, cleaned up a bit, and ate pizza like we do every pday.

 Have a great week!  Happy 4th of July!  ´Merica!!!

Elder Smith

Family from China

Coming home on from Jinotepe on the bus

View from our area

Saturday, July 1, 2017

There was a bat in our toilet

June 26, 2017

Hi fam

  The other day we got home and found a bat treading water in the toilet.  We cut a two liter bottle in half and scooped it out and threw it on the roof.  I don't know if it survived but when we got it out it wasn't able to fly.  It was probably tired, who knows how long it was in there.

   We had a good week.  We worked very hard.  I think we found more new investigators this week than any other week on my mission so far.  And that also means I had more new investigators that didn't go to church this week than any other week of my mission so far :/  But we did find a really cool guy named Lennin.  Here's the story:

 We got into a lesson with a very negative family that is very strong in another religion (some evangelical religion).  It soon became clear that they only wanted to contend and weren't willing to read the Book of Mormon nor pray about it.  So we left them, feeling kind of dejected.  Then when we passed by a house we both heard a whistle.  We looked around and there was nobody, so we contacted the house we were by.  That lady also didn't want anything.  We were late to our next appointment so we got a mototaxi.  We talked to the driver named Lennin and come to find out he had gone to church before and had read a lot of the Book of Mormon and already has a testimony of it.  So we started teaching him and he came to church on Sunday and he even knew the bishop.  He accepted a fecha for the 15th of July.  It was amazing to see that God gave us the impression to contact that house just so the timing was right to be in the Mototaxi to find Lennin.  Had we given up talking to people after the two crappy contacts we wouldn't have found him.

   Also Anielka got baptized and her cousin baptized her.  It was cool to see all of her family there for the baptism too because her mom is less active and her dad and sister aren't members.  On Sunday her mom and sister came for her confirmation too.  Also Marvin, his sister in law Flor, and Flor's daughter Priscila have progressed a lot recently and all went to church with Marvin's family who are recent converts.  

  Things are going awesome here.  It's crazy that I get home 1 month from tomorrow.  God definitely blessed me with Elder Fotheringham because even if I didn't want to work anymore (don't worry I'm going strong) he would make me:)

Well have a great week!  Attached is a pic of the bat in the bottle, it didn't turn out very well...

Elder Smith


June 19, 2017

Hey Fam!

   It looks like you had another very busy week.  So did I.

  On Wednesday Elder Peterson had changes.  So we caught the bus at 4:30 in the morning to get to Managua with the zone, and I found out that my new (and officially last) companion is Elder Fotheringham, from San Clemente California.  He's a great, and very humble guy, and he's a really hard worker.  I love him already.  After changes we came back and I spent the day showing Elder Fotheringham around the area and showing him the investigators.  On thursday we had a normal day in the area and in the morning we taught Marvin.  His fecha is for June 24th but it looks like he's not going to be ready for that day, especially since he didn't come to church on Sunday.  We've also been working a lot with Anyelka, who without much help from her family stopped drinking coffee, and is reading the Book of Mormon almost every day.  Her family said they were going to go to church with her on Sunday but in the end they all flaked out and she came early with her return missionary cousin.  It's crazy because she's the youngest in her family (11 years old) and she's being the example for them.  

  Sorry I got off track.  On Friday we had to wake up at 3:40 to go to Managua with the zone for the mission-tour multizone with Elder Ochoa from the area presidency.  It was a very spiritual multizone and we learned a lot, especially about diligence and how to recognize chosen investigators.  After the multizone we sent the zone home in the bus and stayed there with Elder Ochoa for leadership council.  It was good, but it ended up being pretty long and my brain got kind of fried from so much listening.  Then using public transportation we found our way back to Diriamba and got here at like 8:15.  Nicaraguan public transport was not made for tall people like us, and my poor comp is way taller than me.  We suffered on that bus.  

I kind of already told you about Sunday.  Flor and Priscila couldn't come to church because they were in Granada.  Marvin didn't come either.  Really the only investigator that came was Anyelka.  She's getting baptized on Saturday.  Also the primary president asked us to teach primary so we did our best.  We were disappointed to see that the topic of the lesson was about Jackson County Missouri being zion.   But we made it work and played hangman when we had extra time but that turned into a riot so we had to stop.  

   This week we don't have any multizones or interviews or anything.  Just working.  

Have a great week!

Elder Smith

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Elder Renlund and China

June 12, 2017

Hi Family!

  We had a great and extremely busy week, and this keyboard sucks.  

   During the week I had to go to San Marcos to do a baptismal interview for some of Elder Lunt's investigators and when I got done the last bus had already left for Diriamba so I had to sleep over in San Marcos.  It was fun.

   On Thursday morning we went to a place called Los Fierros, it's like 15 minutes away in bus, and then about a 5 km walk on a mountainy road surrounded by jungle.  We went to visit a recent convert out there that we hadn't been able to visit all change and Elder Peterson had to show me how to get there in case he has changes.  When we were in the house teaching the convert family (who wakes up at 4 am every Sunday to go to church) it started raining and it was clear that it wasn't going to stop anytime soon.  So we bagged up our scriptures and everything in our backpacks and started the trek back.  We stopped a little less than halfway back to take pics during a break in the rain and at that point (as you'll see in the pics) I was about 80% soaked.  We started walking again and it started raining again and by the time we got to the highway we were soaked to the bone and we had little lakes in our shoes.  It was bad.  And I was wearing a silk tie that day:(  The lady that feeds us lunch saw that my backpack was soaked so she offered to wash it since it was wet anyway so I took her up on it.  It changed color because it was so dirty.  

   On Friday we had interviews with President Brown.  My interview, as always was really good, it was my last interview before my final interview.  That took most of the day because we had to make sure all of the missionaries from the zone got here on time and that everything went smoothly. After the interviews we had the baptism of German, who the sisters did most of the teaching but at the last second he moved to our area.  It was a great service and a ton of members came.  

  On Saturday we had the multi-mission with Elder Renlund and his wife.  Both missions were there in Managua and we all got to shake Elder Renlund's hand.  His talk was really spiritual and really funny.  He talked about how when he was a kid in Sweden he saw the missionaries and respected them but never ever wanted to serve in Sweden because it sucks to be a missionary there.  Then he was disappointed that he got called there but he prayed and God told him that's where he was supposed to go.  He also said that we shouldn't be like Finnish people, because in their history and literature they fight and work super hard for a long time and then just end up losing and dying.  It was hilarious.  He talked a lot about the atonement and how it heals us completely and doesn't leave scars.  After the bus dropped everyone in the zone off we got home at about 8:45. 

   On Sunday German got confirmed and we had Flor, Priscila, and Anyelka in church.  Flor and Priscila are doing good, Priscila broke her leg but they still came to church.  They have a fecha for like the 24th of June I think but it might take a little longer. Also, Anyelka who's 11 came to church alone because her  mom and sister were lazy.  Good for her!  We're hoping to baptize her this saturday.  It will depend on if she can stop drinking coffee this week or not.  We're still baffled as to why Nelson and Elia haven't come to church in a month.  They seem to be soooo positive but they just aren't coming.  Pretty soon here we'll have to drop them.  We're also teaching a guy named Mario who kind of speaks English and tries to practice with us all the time.  He has a long past of drinking but he's made it about 4 days without drinking which is pretty good for him.  On Sunday he wouldn't go to church because it rained over night and his pants on the line got wet and his only pants were dirty and he was embarrassed.  We couldn't get him to go.   

   Changes are on Wednesday.  I don't really expect to have changes and I hope I don't but you never know.  Changes are crazy.  I think it's more likely that Peterson has changes than me.  

    Also last night in front of a bar there was a saddled horse outside tied up to a parked mototaxi.  I could see the owner inside in his cowboy uniform.  It was pretty funny.  On Thursday Elder Lunt, Petty, and Aitken go home.  That'll be weird.