Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I'm an Uncle!!!!!

Dec, 28, 2015

Well it´s been an exciting week for me but definitely more exciting for the family. Congrats Matt and Taryn (and Myles of course) for surviving the birth!! And also congrats Delaney and Rich too (... The family is just growing and growing.)  Haha Grandma Patty and Grandpa Merrill.

But anyway, this Wednesday for Christmas Eve we had the huge Christmas Multi-Zona. We did lots of fun activities, Ate some great food, got some great presents. For Christmas President and Sister Russell gave every house in the mission a microwave so now I can eat popcorn and cup of noodles!!! The problem is there isn't exactly a frozen microwave food section in Nicaragua...

Then we had Christmas. In the morning I opened my presents (thanks mom) and all the letters I received. Thanks to everyone who sacrifices a little bit of time to remember the missionaries in the Christmas season. You don´t know how much we truly appreciate and love when people write us. Then we had the baptism of Alfredo and Victoria and everything went swimmingly (pun very much intended). Then the highlight of the day was talking to the fam. Haha it was very full of surprises as I found out I´m an uncle and Delaney and Rich got engaged. It was also nice to be able to confirm that all of the animals are still alive (even though the cat looked kind of dead at times). But ya apparently I kind of have a bit of an accent but I don´t believe it. I feel like you should have to know spanish to be able to have a spanish accent.

On Saturday we had the baptism of Carolina. That went pretty well and I ended up doing the baptism because there was only one member there and he would only be a witness but not do the baptism. The ward did a decent job in the baptism on Christmas though and there were a lot of people that showed up.

On Sunday we got Alfredo and Victoria confirmed but Carolina was nowhere to be found and didn't get confirmed this week which is VERY NOT GOOD. Also Anyel the Angel came to church by himself. If you saw him you would have no idea he wasn't already a member. We asked him how he feels about his preparation for his baptism and he said he just wishes he could do it earlier. He´s already read until 2 Nephi 4. Crazy. Crazy. Also on Sunday a member brought her boyfriend for the second time in a row and we taught him after in the church and he accepted the earlier of the two fechas we put and he´s for the 9th of January as well. His name is Henry and he´s 21. The lord is truly blessing us. Truly blessing us. January is going to be a great month and a great way to start off 2016. It´s so wonderful to be in a functioning and excited ward here.

I´m sorry this email hasn't been quite as long as usual but I did just talk to the family. Now I just have to put my head down and make it to Mother´s Day.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to my wonderful family and everyone who will end up reading this. I hope you can always remember our Savior Jesus Christ and use his atonement to help you as you make and keep some great resolutions this year.

This week I would appreciate it if you would pray for Carolina, Anyel, Henry, the family Arias (family of Alfredo and Victoria), and of course Myles, Taryn, and Matt. And the rest of the family too, but they didn't just have a baby.

Love Elder Smith

Cody, Victoria, Alfredo, Elder Nave

Cody, Carolina, Elder Nave

Sister Russell, Elder Smith, President Russell

Christmas 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015


December 21, 2015

Hello Family, 

  So It's very exciting to be able to Skype (google hangout) with you guys on Friday.  I´ll probably call at 6 or 630ish but could call as late as 7.  Sorry that's as much detail I can give you.  The times I gave are Nicaragua times by the way.  I think you guys are 1 hour ahead.  

So on Monday night, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we just worked as normal, teaching investigators, finding new ones etc.  Nothing notable really happened.  

On Friday we went to San Marcos for District meeting and then Elder Nave stayed there and worked with Elder Henriquez for the day and I came back with Elder Avila from Guatemala and worked in the area with him all day.  It was good, and I enjoyed working with Avila.  It was a bit scary because I still don´t know the area that well but everything went fine.  Tomorrow I´ll be working with him as well.  On Saturday we found a recent convert´s pet turtle so we had to take some pictures with it of course.  We just spent all Aaturday going by everyone we had committed to church and making sure everything was ready.  
Sunday was crucial because we have four inveatigators that have been to church two times that are supposed to get baptized this week, but an investigator needs to go to church 3 times to be baptized so in order for them to be baptized they had to go to church yesterday.  So the first was Carolina, we went by to bring her to church and her recent convert family just said she wasn't there and they hadn't seen her all morning.  So that sucked.  Then we went by Jeffryn, the kid who´s grandma is a member, the grandma said he was gone in Managua with his parents.  So we were already 0 for 2.  The two kids in the family Arias that could be baptized this week did come though so that was good.  The part that was not good is that only those two came from the family.  So we get to the church with these two kids and I stayed with them and another priesthood holder member while Nave went with another Priesthood holder to try and get Carolina in case she came home.  She did.  So they got back late but we got her to church and she will be baptized this Saturday.  Alfredo and Victoria (kids from familia Arias) are getting baptized on Christmas so when I Skype my hair might still be a bit wet.  Also we got another lady named Reina but we´re waiting for her partner to get back so we can get them married.  The real miracle of Sunday was a guy named Anyel that showed up with a member.  He is 14 and super cool.  We went by his house later Sunday night and he is literally the most prepared investigator possible.  He was telling us about how he wanted to change because he knew something was missing from other religions so he was talking to his Mormon friend and just knew that he needed to learn more.  We happened to be carrying a Book of Mormon when we started talking to him at his house so he´s like oh, that´s the book that Joseph Smith translated huh? and we´re like yep.  Then he had a question about the validity of his baptism when he was 4 so we just turned to Moroni 8 and explained it and he believed us without any sort of doubt.  So the soonest he can be baptized is January 9 so we asked him if he would prepare to be baptized on that day and he was super disappointed because he wanted to do it this week.  Then he told us he wanted to be a missionary and asked us what he would have to do to become one.  Then he told us when his friends ask he just tells them he´s a Mormon.  It was really cool.  If everything continues to go well and he gets baptized he´ll be one amazing convert.  But when people ask what we did as missionaries to help him be so cool and prepared I´ll just have to say, we literally didn´t have to do anything, the Lord just prepared him perfectly.  He "was delivered up into our hands".  See 1 Nephi 4: 17 and replace Laban with Anyel.  But don´t go on reading verses 18 and 19.  So ya that was a cool experience.  
So this Thursday all day will be the multizona for Christmas.  we´ll play games, eat food, get to listen to President and Sister Russell and then get presents.  The mission will give us some presents and we´ll also get the Christmas packages that came in the last week.  Then Christmas we´ll have District meeting, the baptisms of Alfredo and Victoria, work a little more, then skype.  I´m super super excited.  
   So ya be sure to pray for Carolina, Alfredo, Victoria, Anyel, and all of the Family Arias.
Love, Elder Smith

PS Sorry I couldn´t figure out how to rotate the pic.  Also sorry if my tie doesn´t match my pants.  I would be lying if I said I knew if those colors matched.

The Christmas song I miss the most that I haven´t heard here is O Holy Night (but not the Steve Mauden version, I think that's the name of the guy).  I don´t know if this would surprise you but I always sing with my comp (Hanson and Nave) when we finish a lesson at investigator´s houses.  It´s all good if we sound bad because the Nicas can´t sing so they think we´re amazing.  Haha I like the swan club, it´s a very Doug-like thing to start.  Yes unfortunately I heard about the BYU-Utah game.  The only bright spot is that Bronco didn´t get 100 wins.  Haha I'm glad Bronco took Robert with him..

You´re right, the temps are very mild and pleasant here, some nights I don´t even use my fan.  How humid is it anyway?  I don´t really notice it anymore.  What does the temp feel like with the humidity?  

I´m glad you got to go to the Motab concert mom, that might be one of the Christmas things we do that I miss most.  Being there in temple square with the family listening to Motab cCristmas music.  I´ve realized here that it´s the sensations of Christmas that one grows to love.  The fireplace, snuggled up with Bo watching tv, eating all the sugary crap the neighbors bring, walking in the cold with a beanie on, the pain after you just finished your 4th 400 IM in a row.  Ok not the 400 IMs but everything else, yes.    The breakfast you made sounds really good... We had waffles the other day at an Americanish restaurant.  That was nice, they weren´t good by american standards but they were amazing because it was actually an American type of food.  Also we had a rib for lunch today.  I realized how much I miss BBQ.

The ward didn´t have a Christmas program or anything but there will be a nativity thing party thing on the 23rd.  The recent converts will be José and Maria and Elder will be Jesus.  Apparently in real wards missionaries don´t have to speak so I´ll just share my testimony in testimony meeting maybe and we´ll be good there.  The Spanish is fine, I just need to learn how to speak in normal conversations and stuff that isn´t gospel.  I really hope my next comp is latino.  But working with Avila all day was fine, I can say whatever I want, sometimes it´s just really choppy.  But sometimes I say something and I´m just speaking really fast, good, spanish without even thinking and I´m like wow, that was pretty good cody.  I just need to learn how to do that all the time.  This ward has a huge youth program and IDK about primary.  It´s actually a lot more like a Utah ward, and the chapel is really big too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


December 14, 2015

Well, I got changes and now I´m in Masatepe.  It´s a little town kind of on the West side of Nicaragua.  Its just a bit west of the top part of lake Nicaragua.  It´s pretty close to Jinotepe and Masaya which are bigger towns near by.  So on Tuesday the APs called and out of the four of us in Juigalpa me and Hanson had changes.  So we went by our converts and people we´d gotten to know on Tuesday night (and contacted and taught lessons too of course).  Then on Tuesday night I packed up and woke up at 3 AM on Wednesday morning.  The bus with all the people in our zone with changes left for Managua at 4 am and we got there at like 7:30 ish.  So everyone gets off the bus at this big church in Managua and puts there stuff in the gym.  Then we have change meeting where basically president Russell announces the ZLs for a zone then all the missionaries going to that given zone.  So he announced Zona Carazo and Hanson was the new ZL there with Elder Henriquez.  Then I hear my name.  So I knew I would be in zona Carazo with Elder Hanson and Henriquez as my ZL but not what area/city I´d be in or who my comp would be.  So we left immediately, loaded our stuff on the bus that had come from Carazo (Carazo is the county basically) and set off.  The bus stopped at each area in the zone and dropped off the missionary and his stuff there and only then would the ZLs announce who would be serving in that area and who their comp would be.  So we got to Masatepe and Hanson said, Elder Smith is here and you´ll be with Elder Nave (pronounced Naw vay).  So my new comp is Nave and he was right there waiting then we went to the house and dropped off my bags.  Elder Nave has like 14 months on the mission, he´s the District leader of us, the sisters in Masatepe and sisters in La Concha.  He´s from West Jordan and lives kind of by DI over there.  There´s six of us in total in the district.

So our area is really big and spread out.  The properties here are way bigger so it takes a lot more time to walk from place to place.  So we have to take mototaxis everywhere.  It´s a bit annoying but apparently it´s pretty normal.  So a lot of my money will be going towards transportation.  

We have a lot of really positive people already.  Carolina is a cousin of two really cool converts that got baptized two weeks ago.  She has a fecha for the 26th and has already been to church twice.  Her cousin Juana that got baptized two weeks ago was pregnant and started having contractions during her baptismal service so she got baptized real quick and went to the hospital.  Then she named her new baby boy "Elder" so that's really cool.  

Then we have Jeffryn.  Hes the 8 year old grandson of a member.  his parents dont really want anything to do with us but they really want him to get baptized.  So he´s also got a fecha for the 26th.  Then there's Ronald who almost got baptized a while ago but couldn't get married because he had problems with his papers.  But now hes separated from his partner so we can baptize him.  But he needs to come to church twice first.  His fecha is for the 2nd of January.  Then there's this huge family with a grandma, her daughter, and 4 grandkids of the grandma.  The kids went to church last week and we've been spending a lot of time teaching them and they´re all pretty positive.  
So this Sunday was stake conference (it´s a real ward and stake here and everything!!).  A bus left from the church here at 9 to bring people to the stake center in Jinotepe. So on Sunday we went by and Carolina wasn´t there, Jeffryn wouldn't go with us and his mom was sick so couldn't help us convince him, Ronald was gone too.  But this family was there so we got the mom, three of her kids and a niece and a nephew of hers.  So in total we got six to church.
Nave tells me that like 150 people come to church every week which is crazy.  This place is crawling with members.  Its nothing like Juigalpa was.  Also its much less poor here ( Don´t get me wrong it would still blow you away how poor it is.)  
This is a super blessed area and we´re looking like this will be a very successful month.  I´m very excited to be working here in this area with Elder Nave.  He´s more focused on baptizing than any missionary I´ve met so far on the mission.
I´m sorry if I won´t be able to send any  pics this week because the USB port in the cyber I´m writing in won´t fit my converter.
I´m really excited for Christmas and to be able to talk to the family.  For Christmas the mission has a big multizona in Managua and they´ll give us presents, a ton of food, then let us get into pday clothes to play sports.  We also have like four dinners lined up on Christmas Eve.  Sorry family, I still don´t know for sure when we´ll be skyping.  Sometime in the afternoon though.  Make sure that next week you get me all the  info for the account I should skype from and to.
I´m not sure how much time I´ll have to email right now so I´ll send this and I promise I´ll give you more details about the area and investigators and comp next week.  and pics. 
Love you!!!

Elder Smith

Mom I got your Christmas tree package and have it all  up on the wall right now.  Everyone is super jealous and says "it´s the trunkiest thing they´ve ever seen".  I just smile because it´s perfect.  It´s clear that most of the missionaries around me are the first missionaries in the family and their mom doesn´t know how to take care of them like my mom does.  I also got Mimi´s package.   I LOVE the candy and me and Nave have been enjoying it greatly.  Please give her a very heartfelt thank you for me.  Its super sad that a package like that cost 35 bucks.  But you already know that.  Speaking of which the post office was closed last week in Juigalpa so I couldn't send your letter until today.  They said it would take 12 days to arrive so we´ll see when you get it.

Tree of trunkiness (a good thing, trunky is good)

Mototaxi like we always take.  We fit 11 people in one on sunday

 It's like a real house without nasty bug larvae sink things, but there's never water at night which kind of sucks

Monday, December 7, 2015

It's Freezing Here in Nicaragua

December 7, 2015

Hello Family!!

You guys probably aren't very amused by the subject line of the email... But in fairness it rained the last couple days and on Saturday when we were studying it actually dipped below 80 degrees.  Hanson, Merrill, and Medrano were freaking out and freezing.  I guess I'm not fully used to the Nicaraguan heat yet because I wasn't really cold.  So we left to work on Saturday and they all had jackets and long sleeve shirts on and I just had my normal short sleeve shirt.  They quickly regretted their decisions when we started walking though and it got super hot.

So on Tuesday we went to a piano recital for all the kids that have been learning piano from Elder and Sister Sorenson (the senior couple here) because Elder and Sister Sorenson left this week.  It was good.... kind of.  It was a good atmosphere but lets just say that the kids don't quite play like Delaney and Peyton.

On Wednesday Elder Merrill and Hanson went to leadership meeting in Managua so I worked with Elder Medrano.  It was a good experience and it was really fun working with Elder Medrano.  We actually found two new inactive members.  It seems like we come across new ones almost every day.  Haha half of Nicaragua is members but only a few actually go to church.  Actually it's not funny at all.  Its super sad.  
On Thursday Elder Medrano had a really high fever so I stayed at home all day with him.  It was just like a super long personal study session.  I read in the Book of Mormon, Preach my Gospel, wrote the family a Christmas letter which I'll send today, Jesus the Christ, etc.  It worked out that I would stay home with Medrano because on Wednesday Elder Hanson and Merrill didn't work all day so it worked out that on Thursday me and Elder Medrano didn't work all day.  But it definitely caused our weekly numbers to suffer.  Also when I was eating my hot dog bun bread things for breakfast I got a little protein pill in there.  I started chewing on something a bit crunchy so I pulled it out of my mouth and it was a big nasty black bug.  Then I reached in there again and found one of it's hairy nasty legs.  Oh well, it would've probably been better if I didn't notice it.  I wonder how many bugs I've eaten without knowing it so far on my mission?  Also this week a bat got into our house one night.  Everyone freaked out and the bat couldn't figure out how to get out until we went and opened the back door.  So that was fun.  Also we found like 5 more of those huge spiders in the forest this week.  I've probably walked past them 100 times and not noticed them until this week.
On Friday we had zone meeting which was pretty good except I heard the ZLs planning it so I pretty much knew what was coming.  Two Elders from Bluefields came up for Zone Meeting, Elder Rushton, and Elder Hoffman.  So on Friday I worked with Elder Hoffman all day after zone meeting, Medrano worked with Elder Rushton, and Elder Merrill and Hanson went off and visited possibilities from other comps in the zone. 
Saturday I worked with Elder Hanson like normal and we spent all day recommitting our investigators for church and making sure everything was ready. 
Then on Sunday we went out to bring everyone to church.  And none of our investigators would go.  Either they were sick, or they just left to work, or they just wouldn't come out to talk to us.  Yadira wouldn't go, We couldn't find Juan because apparently he just had surgery.  We couldn't even get the 9 year old son of a less active to come with us. They only people we could get were two of Elder Medrano and Elder Merrill's investigators.  So that was frustrating.  But last night was the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.  As missionaries we're allowed to go to the church to watch it if we can bring 4 investigators.  We ended up getting like 7 investigators there.  They all just showed up and brought their families.  For some reason everyone is willing to go to the church for a special program but not to an actual church meeting.  I just don't get it.  I just don't get it.  

So ya, we have changes on Wednesday.  We find out tomorrow if we get changed.  I expect to have changes but you never know.  I got letters from mom, grandma, two from diane, and one from katie this week.  Thanks for the letters!!! Keep them coming!!   But unfortunately no packages have come yet.  I'm crossing my fingers that one will show up for changes.  Vamos a ver.

Last week I kind of lied to you about the "a Savior is Born" campaign.  We actually do do it here.  I only found out this week though.  We have a ton of ''Ha Nacido un Salvador" pass along cards that we use during contacts.  We ask everyone if their phones have internet to try to show them the video but they usually don't.  Thanks for all of your constant support, love, and prayers.  Love you all!!!!!

Elder Smith


Olider (recent convert, grandson of ward mission leader) at the piano recital with Elder Sorenson

Can you find the spider?  Cody says look in the  middle of the pic, just to the right of the tree.  two long legs hang down and are yellow and black.  Sorry, I just can't zoom in on those suckers.

Monday, November 30, 2015

It's Getting Cold

November 30, 2015

Hey family!!!!  

You´ve been cold out there in Utah I know I know but I just wanted to let you know that it´s getting a bit chilly in Nicaragua too.  This morning in the shower I was actually a bit chilly.  And the wind started blowing a bit which was super nice.

Sounds like you had a pretty good Thanksgiving as always so that´s good.  I´m glad that everyone got there safely in spite of the snow....  It was definitely weird because I knew basically what everyone would be doing and where they would be the whole day.  

 So it was a very normal week except for Thanksgiving.  On Tuesday and Wednesday we worked as normal.  We´ve been doing a TON of contacting just trying to find new positive people that will come to church.  We found a guy named Oscar who was baptized seven months ago but left for Costa Rica right after his baptism and only got back this week.  It was actually a miracle that we found him like the day after he got back because we were looking through our area book and came across him on Tuesday.  So we retaught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then we came back the next day to teach his mom.  The lesson with his mom (not a member) was really good and she was super positive.  We also found a cool guy named José and when we asked what he wanted in life he´s just like, "I want to find a church to join so I can be like you guys and help others be saved".  So we´re like ok, we can help you with that.  Anyway he was super positive.  

Then Thursday was Thanksgiving and it was pretty much like a normal.  We woke up as normal, studied as normal.  But for lunch we had an activity with the ten missionaries in Juigalpa and we ordered some pizzas and soda.  I ate all the pizza I could and had a ton of Pepsi.  Then we went out as normal and worked.  At about four in the afternoon we went out to dinner at a relatively nice restaurant called La Hacienda.  I ordered chicken fajitas and it was actually really good.  It reminded me of fajitas you would get at Chili's except with the nasty corn tortillas they have here.  And they only gave me one tortilla so I ate most of it with a fork.  But I was still pretty full from the pizza so I was stuffed.  But really it was a pretty normal day.  The people here didn´t celebrate Thanksgiving at all.  Nobody really even knew what it was.  The Nicas have already been ready for Christmas for weeks.  
On Friday Elder Medrano and Hanson went to Boaco for District Meeting and I worked here in the area with Elder Merrill.  We had a pretty normal, uneventful day.  
In the mission Saturday is a special day, the day we get ready for Sunday.  We go around and teach everyone we committed to go to church during the week and recommit them to go to church and help them understand the blessings they´ll receive when they go.  So we went around and got everyone super pumped for Sunday.  Oscar´s mom was super excited and said she already washed the clothes so she could be ready on Sunday.  José wasn´t home though so that worried us a bit.  
So Sunday rolled around and....   disappointment.  Oscar´s mom wasn´t even at home in the morning and we found her walking away from her house in the afternoon with Oscar and her other son who was drunk.  They said in the morning they had to take the drunk son to the hospital and they were just leaving again for the hospital because right when they got home from the hospital the son started drinking again and got more sick.  I don´t know if I believe them but in the end we couldn´t get her to church.  We passed by José and he wasn´t home.  We passed by another five or six people who weren´t quite as positive but still had fechas and they either weren´t home, were hiding, or just wouldn´t go.  In the end we got the unbaptized son of a less active to go that turns 9 in January, two investigators of Medrano and Merrill that I hadn´t met yet, and a lady that showed up with her daughter.  One of the guys that came that Medrano and Merrill have been teaching is named Rolando and he´s amazing.  He´s done a lot of bad things in his past but truly wants to change.  He´s super excited to be baptized but we´re not sure when we´ll be able to baptize him because of how long he would need for repentence.  So ya, it was another frustrating Sunday but we got 5 people to come and it was better than most Sunday´s I´ve had so far.  
It´s pretty likely that this will be my last full week here in Juigalpa.  Typically people are only in their first area for two changes but you really never know.  So we´ll see but for sure I´ll be here still next week.  I know there are some people that have sent me packages but sorry, I still haven´t gotten any.  We can only get them when the zone leaders go to managua or when someone from managua comes here.  Last week when president came here for interviews I only got letters and this week nobody has come or gone.  I´ll probably get them this Wednesday when the zone leaders go to leadership counsel.  I´ve got my fingers crossed:)  
Thanks for giving me the cool news dad like the A380 landing in SLC.  Someone was telling us this week about the hijacked airplane that miraculously landed in SLC and I was able to let them know what really happened, how it actually wasn´t hijacked, how significant and cool it was that an A380 landed in SLC, etc.  But I had no idea how to say runway in Spanish or really any words that would be necessary for a conversation like that so I had to get a bit creative in describing what happened with words I knew.  
I hadn´t even heard of the church´s new Christmas video but I just got an email from president Russell telling us it would be a good idea to use it.  We probably won´t use it much because nobody has a computer or internet really and this isn´t exactly an ipad mission.  Maybe if we go by a rich less-active´s house or something and they have a computer we´ll show them.  Also to answer a question I got last week, nobody in this mission has cars or bikes.  The only exception is that the senior missionaries (two companionships) and the APs have cars.

I hope you all have a great week!! Enjoy the Christmas season!!  It´s really is the most wonderful time of the year.   Pray that people will come to church this week!!

Love Elder Smith

At Daryl's house

Personal Study Time

Thanksgiving lunch

Wearing out the Bible already

This moth was larger than a man's hand

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2015

Hello family!  Happy Thanksgiving!

So no, the Nicas don't really celebrate Thanksgiving, but luckily President Russell does so we´ll get a little extra money on Thursday from the mission to get some food.  But yes, on Thursday we´ll essentially be working as usual.  On Thanksgiving we´ll probably have rice and beans for lunch  but for dinner we´ll maybe get pizza or a chicken or something.  We´ll see.  We really only eat rice and beans for lunch and every once in a while dinner.  Turns out that we get $4 for food on Thursday.

 This week was a good (and pretty stressful) week.  Tuesday was really tough, we had a lot of rejection and didn´t really find any cool people.  On Wednesday we found some really cool people though, that kind of made up for Tuesday.  On Thursday we had interviews with President Russell.  I had to be at the church basically all day because the zone leaders had a lot of stuff to do (make sure everyone was ready for their interviews, go with Sister Russell to do house checks etc.).  My interview was really good.  Since I´m still in my training I got a pretty short interview but it was good.  I learned a few things that I could be doing better (ie. being a bit neater in my planner).  Friday was pretty normal, we found a few more cool people.  

All week we had been going by Adolfo and Dany to make sure everything was good for their baptism.  They were good to go and excited for their baptism at 4:00 on Saturday.  So on Saturday we passed by at like noon and Adolfo had gotten work off at 4 and Dany was super pumped.  So we came by again at like 3:30 to take them and Dany was ready and so was Jessenia.  But Adolfo was nowhere to be found.  So we called him and he said he was at work but would get home later that night.  So there was nothing we could do so we just took the baptism we could get and went and baptized Dany.  It was a good service but only like three people from the ward were there even though we told everyone about it in correlation meeting.... That wasn't great.  So after Dany´s baptism we went back to Adolfo and Dany´s house to wait for Adolfo to get home from work.  We waited and waited and eventually when we called him he said he wouldn´t get home until 1 AM.  So on Sunday morning we went right to Adolfo´s house and woke him up and took him to get baptized.  Me and Elder Hanson went to the church with them while Elder Merrill and Elder Medrano went to bring other people to church.  To do a baptism you need three priesthood holders (to baptize and witness) so we had to wait a long time for a recent convert to show up (Mario Roque who always baptizes for us).  So we set the font filling up really slowly so Adolfo didn´t wonder why we weren´t doing the baptism yet.  So eventually Mario showed up and we baptized Adolfo.  Dany came for Adolfo´s baptism so we kept them both there until 9 when church started to make sure they got confirmed and everything went smoothly.  We just had to babysit Dany who is quite a handful.  It was cool to baptize Adolfo and Dany because I remember my first week when we contacted Dany´s mom Jessenia.  It was raining really hard and we were soaked and just hoping that she´d let us in to teach her so we could get out of the rain.  I remember when me and Elder Vasquez were teaching Jessenia and Adolfo walked in from work and we got him to stay for the lesson and put a fetcha with him.  It´s really cool to see that despite the many frustrations of a mission I´m actually helping people here.
We think there´s still a chance we can get Jessenia baptized if we can get her to understand that her baptism the other week lacked the proper authority.

Other than Adolfo and Dany we didn´t get many people to church.  I missed out on bringing people to church in the morning because of the baptism but Elder Merrill and Medrano said that it was the same as always, with people hiding and lying etc.  Please continually pray that the people here will keep their commitments and come to church.  
Today has been a good Pday, we came to the church and played soccer with Adolfo, Dany, Elder Cuevas, and Elder Miculax (and Merrill and Medrano).  That was fun.  We´re making some more pumpkin bread also for Thanksgiving.

Since I talked about Jeffrey, the pamphlet reader, we haven´t been able to find him.  He works out of town somewhere in a mine.  But his neighbor was redoing his porch and found two snakes when he pulled up the concrete.  They were really small but pretty cool.  Also Elder Medrano had a huge scorpion on him that was in his backpack but I wasn´t there to see it.  

One of the biggest miracles of the week (other than getting Adolfo and Dany baptized) was that I finally got two letters from mom.  Just so everyone knows, don´t ever send money or anything valuable in a letter here because letters are often "ripped" and then taped because the postal workers check for money.  But thanks mom, I greatly appreciated the letters.  

I´d like to take a moment in the spirit of Thanksgiving to express my profound gratitude for all of the blessings in my life.  It´s such a wonderful opportunity to be here spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and trying to help the lives of these people.  I´m so thankful for all of my family that I know is continually thinking of me and praying for me, and I hope you know that I always pray for you.  I´m truly blessed with wonderful people in my life.

Love you all!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Smith

Park at Boaco during the rain

Hamburgers with Elder Merrill in Boaco

Baptismal font in Boaco

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015

Hello family!!!  It´s so crazy that it´s already been another week!

So last Monday I told you all about how I was in a trio now with me, Elder Hanson, and Elder Merrill.  Well a couple hours later we got word that another missionary was already en-route to be Elder Merrill´s comp.  So our new companion is Elder Medrano from Corpus Christi Texas.  He has just over a year in the mission.  I´m already enjoying having him in the house as he´s super funny.

On Tuesday we taught a really cool guy that read the restoration pamphlet like 4 times (People don´t usually even read two pages) and so we brought him a libro de mormón and then he disappeared this weekend and we couldn´t even find him to take him to church.  Satan is really working hard on this mission.  Really working hard.  
This week we went by Adolfo and Danny and we got signed permission from Jessenia to baptize Danny and he´s excited to do it this Saturday.  Adolfo also says he´ll be baptized this Saturday and he came to church yesterday.  Lots of things can happen in a week though so pray for Adolfo and Danny.  Danny has come to church a bunch but he doesnt really have much teaching so while we were there an eskimo man (guy that pushes a cart with ice cream in it) came by so we bought Danny an ice cream that he ate while we taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He actually knew quite a bit about baptism and confirmation (he´s like 9 years old).  So hopefully we can get them baptized and get Jessenia to understand a little more about how proper authority is necessary for baptism.  
On Friday Hanson went to Boaco for District meeting with Medrano and I was here working in the area with Elder Merrill.  I really loved the opportunity because Elder Merrill is a really good teacher and I learned a lot from him.  We had been having a really disappointing day with appointments falling through and lots of people being very unreceptive (Delaney and Matt must hate reading my emails...) but then we were walking to talk to an investigator when Merrill got a call from a guy he contacted a couple days before.  We found out that this guy (Javier) was actually just a 3 minute walk from where we were so we went and talked to him.  We had the most spiritual lesson of my mission up to this point.  It was mostly him talking about how addiction has hurt his life and how much he wants to change.  He said he heard a preacher bashing Mormons on the radio in the morning but the preacher never said why Mormons are so evil.  So he was curious and wanted to know so what did he do?  He called in to the radio show.  But he didn´t get through.  Still, he´s very interested and curious.  

 Saturday was a very hard day.  We found lots and lots and lots of very unpositive people.  You really have to teach these Nicas like children sometimes.  You can ask questions such as, How do you think a better relationship with Jesus Christ could bless your family? and they´ll answer with crap like, Read the scriptures. They just repeat a few things they hear all the time from their pastors but they have no idea what they really believe or why.  And they´re just not really willing to take any steps to change and come closer to Christ or acknowledge that they really aren´t doing much in regards to their salvation.  I´ve learned a huge lesson on humility here in Nicaragua.  The people we find that are prepared and actually willing to change are the humble ones.  And contrary to what a lot of people assume, Nicaragua is not really full of humble people.  I´m glad that I have this opportunity to try and help these people because there are a lot of people here that really need the blessings of the gospel.  
On Sunday we had a lot of added pressure to bring people to church because President and Sister Russell were there for branch conference.  So we passed by a lot of people we had committed to go to church the day before and not a single person came with us.  Every Saturday we pass by everyone that said they´d go to church during the week and recommit them and review the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy and the blessings they receive as they keep this commandment and we make sure everything is good for them to go to church the next day.  Then Sunday comes around and everyone just starts lying to us and making up stupid excuses we´ve already heard a million times.  So we walked into church with President and Sister Russell sitting up on the stand with nobody...  Sad.  I had to talk also.  I was assigned to talk on the restoration so I basically just taught lesson one to the branch and it went ok.  I wasn't even that nervous but when I got there my voice was super shaky and everyone said I looked super nervous.  Whatever.  I think people basically understood what I was saying.  Elder Merrill, Sister Garfield, and President Russell also spoke so I only had to speak for like 7 minutes so it really wasn´t that bad.  So after church, branch counsel, and our usual Sunday lunch of Nacatamales ( I hope you´ve googled nacatamales by now because they look super gross but they taste super good).  Then we went back out to bring people to the afternoon branch in the church.  Between me, Hanson, Medrano, and Merrill we brought three in the afternoon (one of them was Adolfo).  One lady was an old lady that just sat in the back during a lesson with her family this week and didn´t say anything.  When we passed by to bring the rest of the family to church her family made a bunch of dumb excuses (even though they promised us that morning that they´d come) and wouldn´t come but she just quietly got ready and came.  So we brought a total of 6 people to church on Sunday (because 3 came with their less active family).  
Today we had a normal morning, then went and got a burger at a dinky little restaurant called Burger Hot.  It was all right.  Pretty big but the meat here isn´t quite like the ground beef at home.  
To answer a few questions: This week I got a letter from Diane, and four from Grandma Wilson and that was it.  So thanks Diane and thank grandma for me too please.  My shoes are already starting to wear out.  Part of the sole on my heel is already worn down below the pattern.  So at some point on the mission I´ll need you to send me some new shoes or I´ll have to buy some here but not for a while. 

Hopefully you appreciate the detail today.  Last week the email wasn´t very good so sorry.  

Love you all!!  Thanks for all the prayers and support!!!

Love Elder Smith

Misc. information:  The most exciting thing that happened this week was that I saw an enormous spider.  We ventured out into woods a little bit and I looked up and like five feet in front of me at eye level there´s this enormous yellow and black spider.  Probably about the size of my hand if not bigger.  I took a pic but the camera wouldn't focus on it.  It was freaky.  Sorry the pic doesn´t do it justice at all.  I destroyed its web with a stick and we ran for our lives.

I get letters and stuff and people are saying things about feeling bad for me because of my "living conditions" and "stomach sicknesses" and stuff.  I don´t want people to feel bad for me or anything because things here are really good.   Please understand that I live very comfortably and that I´m healthy (having diarrhea every once in a while doesn't make me sick).  I don´t want people feeling bad for me when I don´t feel bad for myself if that makes sense.  They take good care of us here.  

Me and Elder Merrill at the ward mission leader's house on Friday

lunch: rice, beans, meat patty, tortilla, juice

Like the only open space I've seen in Juigalpa (this is in my area)

Butterfly we saw in the church

Huge spider in a tree


Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015

hey family!!!

I cant believe its already pday... crazy.  So Tuesday was the day I was super scared about, just me and Elder Peterson, alone in the area with a total of 8 weeks in Nicaragua.  and it went great.  We completed with norms, put 5 fetchas, 4 of which were with really cool and positive people.  The zls were thrilled that we didnt ruin the numbers for the whole week haha.  Tuesday was probably the biggest miracle of my mission to this point.  I felt like for the first time that I was understanding what everyone said to me and I was able to say (and they understood) what I wanted to say to them.  Definitely the gift of tongues.  and the gift of interpretation of tongues.  It was really cool.  I would just talk and not have to think too much about how to say what I wanted to say in Spanish.  Thanks for all your prayers!!!!!!  

Wednesday was a normal day. 
On Thursday I woke up at 3:30 to go to  Managua for 8 week training, which everyone has in their second change.  It was good, President and Sister Russell taught us and i learned a lot.  Sister Russell took one look at my face and asked me about my acne.  I said it was normal and that I take doxycycline and clindomyacin (sp?)  gel and she called the mission doctor and now I'm supposed to take amoxycilin and RetinA cream .1%.  So I'll pull like 40 bucks off my personal card to buy it at a pharmacy (prescriptions are not necessary here lol).  Sister Russell didn't care that amoxycillin didn't work on me before so if Diane or Doctor Johnson thinks its a bad idea let me know.  After we had the training we had Burger King that they brought in for us.  we left at like 1 and got back at like four or five.  Then we had a normal couple of days of finding cool people (no ones cool until they go to church though).  

On Sunday we got a total of 8 people to church.  3 of them we pulled off the street and got them to stay for an hour and the rest were actually investigators.  Adolfo and Danny came (we dropped Jessenia because she got baptized in a different church yesterday, possibly just to spite us).  Also this really cool lady's daughter came, but not the really cool lady so now the daughter is cool and not the mom.  And also a lesbian that Elders Peterson and Merrill found.  Now in the area we're a tripanionship of just me, Hanson, and Merrill.  I have no idea if they'll send anyone else or if we'll just be like this for four weeks until the next change.  It's a great opportunity to learn from two of the best missionaries in the world though.

Today I weighed myself in a pharmacy because I've been going down belt buckles and I weighed 151 lbs.  I think I weighed lke 170 when I got here from the MTC so apparently the Nicaraguan diet works.  But I'm confident that I'm the only one eating my food right now (I don't think i have a parasite).  I'm probably just losing all my muscle haha.  As if I had any to start with.  But that's ok, i just lost what I gained after graduation basically.

So ya, good week.  I wish I could tell you when or if Adolfo will get baptized but we dont know right now.  He says he wants to but he's bailando the mambo about when.  Pray for him and Danny (and Jessenia couldn't hurt either)

I'm glad you guys got to go to the cabin and that you saw sooooooooooooo many animals.  The deer will be the perfect size for when I get home.  Good job with school, work, home etc.  Thanks for sending the Christmas package  mom, I'm sure it'll be perfect.

Love Elder Smith

Answers to questions:

Thanks for the update about the church same sex policy.  Will you update me on any huge news stories as I hear nothing here?

Home Teaching here exists but doesn't happen much.  There's only like three companionships of Elders that actually go out and do their home teaching.  Poor guys have like 9 families haha.

The only change in weather Ive noticed is a little less rain which leads to a lot more heat.  So hot.  Always haha.  I don't think there are any holidays before Christmas here but i don't know. I'm already starting to see a bunch of Christmas trees.  I haven't gotten any letters from you yet.  Nobody's gotten mail for a while so when it comes I'll probably have a bunch. 

 Oh and Peterson and Merrill found a smallish tarantula in the bathroom this week but I didn't see it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

happy día de los muertos‏

November 2, 2015

Dear family,

Hello, it´s been a fairly long and boring week except for changes on Wednesday.  Me and Hanson are still here but Naupoto and Vasquez both got changed, which surprised us because we thought Naupoto would die (complete his mission) in this area.  So our two new companions are..................... Elder Merrill (coolest last name ever right dad) and Elder Peterson.  Elder Merrill has like 17 months in the mission, is the new ZL here, is from bountiful, went to bountiful high, played basketball baseball and football, is exceedingly tall, and has a full ride basketball scholarship to Utah state.  But he´s really cool and humble about it, I didn´t know he was going to play college ball until like Friday or Saturday.  He´s training a brand new missionary out of the MTC named Elder Peterson.  Elder Peterson is from Morgan, played football, and is pretty cool.  He really just reminds me of myself six weeks ago.  It´s weird to say that because you would think that six weeks isn´t a very long time but that´s a lie.  I´m a very different person than I was six weeks ago.  Elder Peterson´s Spanish is more or less what mine was when I got here and now I can really see just how much I've improved. But ya, now it´s four gringos in the house.  They´re much more obedient than those they replaced, which is nice.

So this week.  I don´t really know what happened.  We worked super hard all week, completed with norms every day I think except maybe pday and Sunday.  Coming off of the two baptisms was hard because now the only progressing investigators we have are Adolfo and Jessenia.  And this week Jessenia said she goes to another church (she´s very bipolar about the whole conversion process) and Adolfo wouldn´t come to church.  I think it´s because we taught law of chastity this week and they have a few major problems with that (completely separate problems as they are brother and sister).  This week both companionships worked super super hard and we found some cool people and had like 15 people completely committed to church.  To make a long story short: All but one of these people either hid from us, lied to us, or just refused to go even though they knew (and we reminded them) that they had committed to God.  So the one we got was very hungover from a night of partying.  We also pulled one guy off the street in front of the church and got him to go with us, and two nonmembers showed up with their family in our branch so our total number in church was 4.  The norm is 12.  It was frustrating to say the least.  
This week will be interesting.  Tomorrow Elder Hanson and Merrill have a ZL meeting in Managua with president Russell.  They´ll be gone all day.  Which means that it will be me and Peterson alone in the area working all day.  If a native here speaks 100% Spanish, and an old missionary that´s fluent like Hanson or Merrill speak about 75-80% Spanish, then me and Peterson combined speak maybe 30% Spanish on a good day.  I hope that made sense, but the moral of the story is that we don´t speak very much Spanish and have essentially no experience teaching.  We will appreciate your prayers tomorrow very much.  Very much.  It´ll be a perfect opportunity to force us to rely on the spirit as a teacher and not ourselves.  Then on Thursday me and Hanson have to go to Managua for my 8 week training with President Russell.  Then on Sunday President Russell will be in our branch.  So we´ve got a busy week ahead.

I assume people might want to know what Halloween here is like.  Basically everyone knows about it but doesn´t do anything.  A few people said that because we celebrate it at home we´re devil worshipers.  The only celebrations here are at the clubs.  The Nicas just use it as an excuse to get wasted and do stupid things.  Today is the real holiday here.  it´s el día de los muertos.  People basically just go to the graveyard and decorate graves with flowers and stuff.  Right now the roads around the cemetery are all closed off and full of people selling flowers and crap like that.  I guess it´s kind of like a weird version of memorial day.  I´ll attach a pic.

To celebrate Halloween we had some of Elder Peterson's american candy he brought from the MTC and I also had some Fazer chocolate.  Haha someone tell Delaney or Kim that you don´t need to go to Scandinavia to eat fazer on your mission.  Hanson´s mom sent him some ingredients to make pumpkin bread so we´ve been doing that today.  We also organized all the supplies that had been dumped on the floor from the move from the old house today.  So ya the bread is in the oven here at the church right now and smells super good.

I´m glad that you all had a good, uneventful week.  You don´t realize how nice those are until they´re gone haha.  

Have a great week!!

Love Elder Smith

Some answers to questions you asked:   on a typical day we just go around the area according to our plan hitting the appointments we´ve made and going to less actives and recent converts and if we don't have any appointments or less active or recent converts we just contact.  usually we get like 30 contacts a day, 9 lessons, and 4 less active or recent convert every day.  Then we go home, snack on a bag of chips or something, plan, take numbers, and go to bed.  I don't have any trouble getting to sleep haha.  The senior missionaries here teach piano lessons and it´s always like 13 year old girls doing a horrible job of playing simplified hymns.  I've never had to worry about playing because Hanson can play the piano.  I could only play Nearer My God to Thee anyway or Joy to the World.  I never have to teach classes.  The missionaries are often in and out of classes because we have to herd investigators.  The teachers here suck.  They never prepare and just read out of the book.  way worse than america.  They have ym/ym but they don´t meet during the week.  There are only like 2 ym and 1 yw.  I had to share my testimony my first week and that was it.  They are known to randomly call missionaries to speak though.  They use 2 or 3 sacrament trays, depending on how many priesthood show up.  Usually there's only 1 or 2 Deacons there.  They use tap water, luckily it´s blessed.  The sacrament is the same, just much shorter because of the size of the branch.  The primary program was good, very well organized and planned because the senior missionaries did a lot with them.  A ton of less actives showed up for it.   No one has visited the recent baptisms but missionaries.  Once we get transferred if the ward doesn´t pick them up I don´t have very high hopes for them unfortunately.  In ward counsel yesterday we asked for them to assign home teachers for Miguel and Luis and a couple other menos activos and the Elders quorum president straight up refused.  We probably wont take any on splits because Luis is 83 and doesn´t move too well and still has a lot of catholic in him.  The other day in the middle of his prayer he started praying to Mary so that wasn't good.  Miguel we can barely find, so no.  The good news was that Luis showed up to church yesterday on his own.  we reteach everything after baptism.  We also teach about lesson five, which is like priesthood and missionary work and such.  

I cleaned the bathroom.  I put bleach in water and used that to clean the floor.  It made me a bit nostalgic because it smelled like the pool.

The street by the cemetary for día de los muertos‏

Making pumpkin bread at the church.  It ended up being pretty expensive bread by the time we bought a bowl and a spoon.

The pumpkin bread came out perfect and smells really good.  We´re just waiting for it to cool off so we can eat it.  It´ll be like eating real (non junk)food from home finally. n

What it looks like with Elder Peterson in my room

After we cleaned the materials from our move.