Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Elder Renlund and China

June 12, 2017

Hi Family!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

Too much traveling

June 5, 2017

Hi family,
This week was good but I felt like I spent a lot of it traveling.  On Tuesday we had a leadership training in Managua with all of the DLs.  It was good and as always I got to catch up with a lot of old friends and comps.  The training was good but the AC was out in the church and it was horribly hot.  But the AC came back on towards the end of the meeting and saved us.  The worst part of the trip was the ride home.  We were on a tiny microbus and I had the worst seat where I was surrounded by a ton of people packed like sardines in the bus that were squishing me into the window to make room for more.  In the end, there were between 35 and 40 people in a bus with 20 seats.  It was aweful.  Also the bus we were in only took us to jinotepe and we had to take another bus to Diriamba.  By the time we got back we only had time for 1 appointment.  
On Friday I taught district meeting, and then Elder Smith and Santamaria from la Concepcion came and we did divisions.  I worked with Elder Santamaria who is fairly new on the mission and we had a good time.  
 Last week since so few people came to church out of so many committed we worked a lot on how we teach the Sabbath Day as a commandment and we taught it a lot more boldly and directly this week and it helped us.  Elim and Anyelka came and took their less active brother.  Also Flor and Priscila came again.  
 In church we had a cool experience this week.  We've been teaching a woman that has been inactive for 2 years named Maria Victoria.  She came to church yesterday and loved it and even bore her testimony about how los gemelos Elder Esmit (the Elder Smith twins) have been helping her.  It's funny because the day I found her I was on divisions with another Elder Smith and she never realized that Peterson was a different person.  Anyway, an investigator of the sisters, German, has been looking for someone to rent him a room for cheap so he can move away from his ex wife and be able to get baptized.  Yesterday he fasted for help since if he didn't find anyone this week he'd have to move to Costa Rica or something.  He felt impressed to ask Maria Victoria after the meeting if she knew anyone who could rent him a room in their house and she has a room that she's willing to rent out.  So due to a culmination of things that God has been preparing for over two weeks German's prayers and fast were answered and now he's going to get baptized on Friday.  Since he'll be living in our area now it will technically be our baptism but obviously the sisters did everything for him.  
On Saturday we'll have a visit from Elder Renlund and we'll get to hear from him for a couple hours.  It should be awesome.  Hopefully it has something to do with a temple here in Nicaragua.  That's what we're praying for at least.  
As far as investigators, Elia and Nelson are still very positive whenever we pass by but for some reason they just haven't been coming to church.  Flor and Priscila and Elia and Anyelka are doing awesome.  Also We're teaching Flor's brother-in-law, Marvin who's progressing well but was sick on Sunday and didn't come to church.  
Congrats on graduating Peyton!  I can't believe how fast time has gone!  When I left you weren't even a junior...

Have a great week!  Sorry I left my camera at home....

Elder Smith

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Happy Nicaraguan Mother's Day!

May 29, 2017

Hi family!

  In case you were wondering, tomorrow is Mother's day here in Nicaragua. I wish that meant that I got to talk to you again  ;)

   This email might not be as detailed as last week because not much interesting stuff happened...

  On Tuesday we did divisions with Elder Mendez and Elder Cifuentes.  I worked with Elder Cifuentes who only has about three weeks on the mission.  It was good.  Unfortunately Elder Peterson was pretty sick and spent a lot of the day puking.  Luckily we were on divisions though so I didn't have to see it.

   With Elder Cifuentes we had a really good day. We only contacted four houses and in three of them we found families of two that we taught and in total found 6 new investigators.  One of the families ended up not wanting anything when we went back but the other two are still hanging in there.  

  We also made progress with a 16 yr old named Yasser that I found on divisions last week.  He has a fecha and was excited for church.  But for some reason didn't show up and we still don't know why.

   So basically we committed a ton of people to church this week and felt really good about it and then Sunday rolled around and kicked us in the butt.  We passed by for everyone in the morning and with a myriad of horrible excuses everyone hid from us or just refused to go to church.  In the end only three people came:  Flor and her 8 yr old daughter priscila.  Flor is awesome and comes to church all the time but is working keeping a few commandments that she's struggling with still.  Also, a lady named Mariel came to church but she can't get baptized until her partner comes back from Canada for them to get married.  So it's just a waiting game with them.  I don't really know why nobody went to church this week, we'll find out tonight when we pass by for them.  It was really frustrating though.  Oh well, the work goes on. 

   Yesterday at 4 there was a stake mission activity where every ward had a couple boxes of Books of Mormon and a lot of members went out with the missionaries to the houses near the chapels giving out Books of Mormon and taking information for us to visit them.  We got ten references from the activity so hopefully it turns out positive.  

  The family reunion sounded like fun. I'm jealous I missed it but at least it's the last one I'll miss!

Have a great week!

Love you!

Elder Smith

We built a fence and I juggled mangos

May 22, 2017

Hi Fam!

  This week was very eventful.  

  On Monday after pday ended we went out and found a cool family with good questions.  Most of our other plans fell through though.  

   On Tuesday we did divisions and I worked with Elder Smith.  There are currently 4 Elder Smiths on the mission (I'm the most experienced and by far the coolest don't worry) but the one I worked with is the one that was my comp my last change in the office.  It was great to catch up and hear all of the stuff we got used to like questions like: Is everyone in your church named Elder Smith?  Are you brothers?  Are you Elder Smith because you worship Joseph Smith?  Of course the answer to all of the questions is "no".

   Then on Wednesday we went to the church in Jinotepe for multizones.  There were about forty missionaries there and we learned about how to better teach the restoration and how to improve our Love, Faith, and Humility and how to better our prayers.  To help us with prayers and faith, President Brown assigned us to study Enos in personal study for the next three weeks so I've read it like five times this week so far.  I really like it and I'm pulling stuff out I didn't catch just reading it once.  I invite everyone to thoroughly study Enos.  

   After the multizones we got home and visited investigators. 

  On Thursday morning we had a planned service opportunity with the Catholic mom of a recent convert in the area.  We built her a barbed wire gate between her house and the fence.  It turned out pretty well for two people that have no experience in pounding staples into barbed wire to attach it to little sticks with one crappy miniature hammer.  It probably would've taken a nica an hour but it took us all morning haha.  But hey you get what you pay for right?  We were getting pretty fried so we asked the lady if she had hats or something to protect our faces and necks from the sun and she really pulled through.  She came out with two really stylish womans sun hats.  We looked FABULOUS!   

  Then on Thursday night the ward had an "open-house" activity where members and investigators came and there was an emergency preparedness demonstration and a family history workshop thing.  I showed the family history coordinator the 9-generation chart I carry around and she freaked out because it is so complete.  So she borrowed the chart and used it for her presentation to show people what their family history can look like if they are diligent for several generations.  

  On Saturday night we had another ward activity that was like a talent night thing.  It was pretty aweful honestly with iffy dances and sing along stuff.  Dad would've hated it especially.  They were frantically scrambling for more stuff for the show so I volunteered to juggle but there were no balls or oranges or lemons or anything to juggle so I had to settle for mangos.  It worked out though and I nailed a couple of my classic tricks (under the leg, around the back, off the head etc).  I don't think the nicas had ever seen that kind of stuff outside of cartoons before and they liked it.  Then we went to an appointment really far away in the dirt road poor part of our area and the family wasn't home.  And right when we were there the light went out. I was a bit nervous but we made it back into the city and visited another guy. Then it started raining really hard and the lights came back on.  By the time we made it back to the house we were soaked to the bone and my planner was soaked.  Luckily I had my scriptures in a bag and my camera survived.

  In church we had a gay named Marvin, a guy named Carlos (both are family of some recent converts that we're teaching) and a new lady we found last week named Andrea.  Unfortunately there were four investigators that went to the talent show but not church.  They think that if they go to a church activity they're good to not go to church or something.  We're still working hard with Elia and Nelson.  They're super cool, just waiting for a divorce to come through so they can get baptized.  Also Elim and Anyelka, but they didn't come to church. 

   Today pday was cool, we went to a field and threw the frisbee around for a bit then slept a bit then went with the Hanson's  and ate lunch.  Catching up with Elder Hanson and eating with his fam was awesome.  They're legit.

 Anyway, I hope you have a great week!

Love you!

Elder Smith