Monday, February 27, 2017

New Schedule and Volcanos

February 27, 2017

Hello family, 

   I'm actually pretty happy to hear about all the snow we've been getting, but I'm sorry it's been cold.  Don't worry, spring will come.  

    Our week was pretty good, on Tuesday we had a multizone with us, and zona Granada in Managua.  It was awesome.  ​We learned about a lot of stuff like goal setting, helping people receive an answer to their prayers about the Book of Mormon etc.  Also president revealed the new schedule.  It's pretty interesting... Now we're going to be waking up at 6 every day, exercise and breakfast and personal study as normal, and then at 9 in the morning we leave to proselyte until 1.  At 1 we eat lunch and at two we have a half hour of comp study and at 2:30 a half hour of language study and we leave to proselyte again from 3 to 9 and then we go to bed at 10.  It's pretty weird.  But we'll see how it works.

   We made good progress with all of our investigators this week.  Oscar and Margarita are still talking about marriage and baptism but unfortunately they weren't able to go to church this week.  Oscar is a lot more positive and receptive than Margarita.  Margarita's dad is a convert of about a month and is really cool.  Yesterday I helped him make a family history account and got some names for him to send to the temple already.  

   The family with Sylvio (less active) and his wife Arecele (investigator) is doing awesome.  They´re both reading their Book of Mormon and they went to church on Sunday.  Also we´re teaching the girlfriend of a return missionary in the ward named Myra and she went to church for the second sunday in a row but she wasn´t really home this week and we couldn´t teach her at all.   

     The really crazy thing that happened this week was that on Sunday they split the ward.  They split it in half in a line that cuts the old ward in half North and South.  The north section is ward Monimbo (like before) and the new one on the south is called Cuatro Esquinas (4 corners, There´s a local landmark called 4 corners so the name makes sense.)  I´m pretty sure we´ll end up being assigned to cuatro esquinas and the other sisters that are in the other area from Monimbo will have Monimbo.  So we´ll lose about half of our area and pick up half of what was the sisters´ area.  The only investigator we´ll lose is Areceli which is a huge bummer because they´re going to get sealed in the temple eventually.  I can feel. it.   But the sisters will do a good job with them.  And we might pick up some of the sisters´ old investigators.  But the division isn´t official yet.  It´s possible we´ll end up in ward Monimbo instead of Cuatro Esquinas.  

   Today, now that pday officially starts at 8, we went to the church in the morning and played basketball.  Then we went to Volcán Masaya.  The volcano was awesome but not quite as cool as it was when I went last year because you couldn´t see as much lava today.  Apparently a couple volcanoologists (or whatever those guys are called) got stuck in the crater when there was a small landslide that messed up their ropes.  But they got them out.  They still weren´t too close to the lava.  

Then after we went to an awesome restaurant called El Bucanero that has an awesome view right on the edge of Laguna Masaya.  We´ll definitely go there when we come back to Nicaragua.  

   Well have a great week!!! Love you!

Elder Smith

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


February 20, 2017

Hello Family!!

   I apologize in advance because the keyboard in this internet cafe thing is pretty awful.  We had a great week, and were fed spiritually on many occasions.

   On monday that awkward little patch on the back of my neck that my dress shirt collar covers and my t shirt doesnt got fried when we went to the laguna and that bugged me for a couple days.  But now it's just a beautiful tan.  I've definitely gotten a lot tanner already in my week and a half in Masaya.  

   The highlight of the week was Tuesday, when Elder Rasband, President Christensen (presidency of the 70), Elder Duncan, and Elder Ochoa (central america area 70s) came with their wives and spoke to the two missions in Nicaragua.  The other authorities respectively gave the majority of the time for Elder Rasband to speak and he had a great message.   He doesnt speak spanish so he had an interpreter.  He explained that he came to Nicaragua to speak to the President, Daniel Ortega and his wife.  We're hoping he's working on opening the doorway with the government so we can get a temple here.  PRAY FOR NICARAGUA!!!!  We want a temple!!!  So that was awesome.  

   We're also doing a lot better in the area.  We visited Oscar and his partner with a cool family from the ward and talked about marriage and going to church and I guess the lesson went well because they both went to church and want to get married.  Oscar's partner's name is Margarita.  Also we got a reference for a lady named Myra, who is the girlfriend of a return missionary here in Masaya.  She's really positive and went to church with her boyfriend.  We also have another part member family we're  teaching from a reference but unfortunately they weren't able to make it to church.  

   We did divisions with two of the district leaders in our zone this week and it went very well.  One was with Elder Vasquez who was in Juigalpa at the same time as me in my training.  I love the guy.  We found a ton of new investigators in the divisions but none of them turned out very positive.  

This Saturday the youth in our stake had a fundraiser where they raised money for a youth camp by cooking traditional foods from other central american countries.  They made a good attempt but it all ended up tasting like the same old nica food to me.

   Today we've had an awesome pday so far.  We took a bus up to the top of Mombacho (a dormant volcano)  We hiked around one of the craters and there was some really cool jungle stuff and the view from the top was incredible, you could see Granada, lake Nicaragua, Masaya, Volcan Masaya etc.  The top of the volcano was about 4,200 feet, which isn't high for us utahns but for Nicaragua it's super high. We were in the clouds for a while and it was probably the coldest Ive been in Nicaragua other than in my cold showers.   Then we went to papa johns (you can't get mad because I know you're at taco bandito!!)  

   So ya!!  I'm doing great!! 

Love you!

Elder Smith

ps tomorrow we have multizones

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


February 13, 2017

​Hello family!

   Well, I got changes.  I found out on ​Tuesday afternoon that I was out.  I was kind of worried about going to a difficult area because a lot of the ZL areas are pretty tough.  So I got to the change meeting and found out I was going to be the ZL of Zona Masaya with my comp, Elder Lunt the other ZL.  I was stoked because me and Elder Lunt are really good friends from when he was a DL in Managua a couple changes ago.  But... I knew I'd be stuck with a tough area because the ZL area in Masaya is notoriously difficult.  But then we found out that they moved the ZL area from Masaya to the neighboring area called Monimbo.  So I'm in an area in the city of Masaya that is called Monimbo.  If you look on a map of Masaya we're from central park, to the south and west is all our area.  The area extends to laguna Masaya to the west (with volcan Masaya overlooking us on the other side, and yes it's the volcano I hiked up last year and looked into the lava pool and yes, you can constantly see smoke coming out) and to the south extends to several little towns outside of Masaya like Niquinohmo, Nandasmo, and San Juan del Oriente (Niquinohmo and Nandasmo actually used to be in my area when I was in Masatepe but the boundaries changed).  I'm excited because I'll finally have a big area again and I'm out of dirty, scary Managua.  Masaya is nice, smells way better, and is way prettier and less like a big city.  And it's nice because more on the edge of Masaya the houses are humbler and the people are more receptive.  Central Masaya is notorious for being very catholic.  There's also a ton of tourists here and it's weird to see a bunch of hipster European backpackers all the time.  There's also a huge market here with everything you can imagine.  It's awesome but I think if you guys came and shopped in it you'd just be kind of freaked out and think it's scary and stinky.  But I think it's nice.  We've already had a bunch of adventures this week like going to Tisma (where Elder Evans is DL and training) to do a baptismal interview.  Also we tried to take a shortcut through a jungly thing because we were kind of lost and it didn't work out very well and we eventually came through somebodies back yard but we just said, "Con Permiso" (directly translated means with permission but it basically means excuse me) to the guy in is house and he happily let us through back to the street.  The people here are so laid back!  Luckily they didn't have guard dogs.  

    So My comp is Elder Lunt who has 6 weeks more on the mission than me and goes home in June.  We think it's very possible that we'll be comps here for three changes and he'll go home then I'll be here one more change and then go home.  This could very well be my last area.  I'm excited to be here with Lunt because we get along very well and it's definitely a relief to have an experienced comp and not be training because there just isn't quite as much pressure.  He's from Gilbert Arizona.  We realized that there are a lot of things that either of us could do but it doesn't really matter who like who takes sunday numbers or who has to do the baptismal interviews so we made our "magic quarter" which is a quarter that has an L on one side and an S on the other to decide who has to do everything.  I had to do the first baptismal interview and he had to take sunday numbers.  

The ward here is really cool.  It's probably the biggest ward I've ever heard of here in Nicaragua with around 250 active members.  There's talk that it'll get split soon.  The church is also really nice because it's a stake center and it's like half a block from our house.  We have one investigator named Oscar that went to church for the first time on Sunday and really liked it.  He's really the only positive investigator we have right now because the other missionaries didn't leave us with much.  

   For Pday today we shopped for a bit at the market and I got some new fake vans for like 15 bucks that look pretty legit.  Then we went to a town called Catarina that has a cool overlook of a lake called laguna de apollo (I went there once last year)  we hiked down a bit and saw some monkeys and found out we were on the wrong trail and had to turn back.  But it was an adventure.  

Well I love you!  I'm sure there's questions I didn't answer but I'll get to them next week.  

Elder Smith

Monday, February 6, 2017

Taking off the skirt

February 6, 2017

Hi family!

  So yesterday I completed 18 months and took off my skirt, which is a mission-term meaning that we Elders that serve 2 years instead of 18 months have become real men and entered into a time that sister missionaries just can't understand and will never have the pleasure of experiencing.  Since I couldn't buy anything yesterday, I'll be celebrating my 18 month mark with Papa John's.  WooHoo!!  If I was a sister I'd be going home on Thursday.  But I'm not a sister and I've got the best 6 months ahead of me still! 

    So this week was kind of tough.  We found a lot of new investigators and got a lot of references from the ward.  Basically everyone initially accepted us well but decided they weren't willing to do anything about it.  I  encourage everybody who reads this to be doers and not just listener.  As it says in Matthew 7:21 "Not every one that saith unto me, LordLord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."  

 Anyway, church yesterday was very interesting...  There was a big leadership meeting with all of the local stake presidents, the two mission presidents in Nicaragua, and an area 70 so all of those guys were in our ward on Sunday to take the sacrament before their meeting.  We've been teaching a very sick inactive lady but she's been too sick to go to church but she has a brother who is perpetually drunk.  He told us all week he was going to go to church and then he pulled through and showed up.  Unfortunately he was drunk.  Towards the end of testimony meeting he went and bore his testimony.  It was very interesting.  He told a story of how he went to the beach to sin and then got bit by a cobra and everyone told him he was going to die until he ran into the missionaries and God saved him (If this story actually has any sort of truth to it he was talking about different missionarires because I've definitely never seen this guy with a snake bite nor have I seen him anywhere near a beach) After going on and on the bishop stood up and kindly invited him to take his seat in the congregation and he happily complied.  This guy picked the perfect Sunday to pull this so all of the church leaders in Nicaragua could see him.  

   We've had a lot of really great spiritual experiences this week, a lot of them actually came when we were teaching with members and they testified of the restoration and shared their own conversion stories.  There were a lot of people this week that were very prejudiced against us without even knowing anything about us, just because of the crap the other churches say about us but simple testimony about the restoration and support from their member friends was able to help a lot. 

   Elder Gonzales got his first experience with the unseen forces of parasites and bacteria.  Poor guy.  

   This week we have changes.  I'm not sure if I'll have changes, or if Gonzales will, or if neither of us will.  We'll see where the Lord wants us. Have a great week!

Elder Smith

Today's lunch.  It is called indio viejo.

New Schedule!!! Eventually....

January 30, 2017

Hi Family!!

   So on Wednesday we had the big broadcast that it sounds like you heard about where they announced some of the big changes they are making to our daily schedule and some of the numbers we report.  Basically now during the day we don't keep track of how many lessons we teach or people we talk to or references we receive, we just report how many new investigators we find, how many people have a baptismal date, how many come to church with us, and how many we baptize and confirm.   I like it because it gives us more trust and I feel like I can better focus on my purpose as a missionary during the day.  The goal is to invite people to come unto Christ... convert people, and teach them to repent, not just to teach 7 lessons a day.  So I'm good.  The new schedule changes are customizable according to the missions and President Brown is still experimenting with the schedule that will be best for us.  Me and Elder Gonzales have actually been involved in top-secret experiments where we have been trying out different schedules and reporting back to President how we like it.  I'll tell you more about that when I'm allowed to...

   After the broadcast where they announced that on Wednesday we had our interviews with President Brown.  As always it was incredible. I love that man so much. 

    I'm doing better health-wise, I've had nothing wrong with me this week.  What a miracle 

   On Tuesday I did divisions with Elder Seneca from Virginia.  He's awesome.  Everyone here is awesome.  

   On Saturday was Calixto's baptism.  He was super ready and excited and it all went well.  His grandpa baptized him.  After the baptism the family brought cake and cacao (a drink here, just google it) which is one of my favorite drinks here.  Also on Sunday after church a lady from the ward brought everyone cake and more cacao for her grandson's birthday.  I'm not complaining:)  I had three more cups of cacao.  And then last night, a couple from the ward that got married this week brought us leftover food and cacao from the wedding!!!  I'm in heaven but I'm probably going to get fat.

   Grettel didn't go to church this week but is adamant that she wants to get baptized on February 11.  Hopefully she'll be ready because going to church is a pretty big deal.  She already received an answer from the Lord that this is His church so now we're really trying to help her understand what that means and what He expects of her.  Pray for her. 

   That's about it for this week.  Other than the stuff I mentioned we just taught people and looked for news.  We're excited for tonight because we're going to go with a member to visit five different references she has for us.  Hopfeully some of them turn out positive.  Member missionary work is the most effective way to do missionary work!!!!!! Give the missionaries references!! 

Love you!

Elder Smith

Tub of Cacao from the baptism