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.