"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." D&C 121:7-8

Monday, April 26, 2010

It’s tough out here, but its all good

Hey All!
So first off I forgot to bring my camera adapter deal. So I will send pictures next week on here. I need more cds if I am going to be doing that more though. I ran out in the CCM.

Well the only letter I got on Wednesday was dated April 1st. haha. So I really haven’t heard too much updated stuff in letters.

Sindi, yes that’s how she spells it, had missionaries before us, but she didn’t have a progress record, so we taught her the lessons again and the baptism went great. I was kinda sad cuz no one really came, but its ok! I was a witness for it. Oh, and yes I remembered to give her a ctr ring. I will send you a picture from the baptism next week, as well as the letters I wrote last week. I forgot to send them haha. So don’t be expecting letters this week.

So this week we bible bashed with a pastor. Ha that was fun. I didn’t really know what was going on though so my comp was just trying to teach him. It was frustrating though because he wouldn’t even listen to my testimony telling me it was a lie. That’s kinda how it’s been going here. Not too many people are accepting of the gospel. I wish they knew how important our message is. We did find one this week though, I hope it goes well. Her name is Flori and she is a Jehovah Witness (testigo). We expected some trouble at first, but then we started teaching about families and the plan of salvation. She started crying. From what I understood her husband has recently passed away. I’m so grateful for the spirit because without it I know that there is no way we could have been able to know what to teach her, and be able to keep teaching her. We have an appointment with her on Tuesday, so I hope it goes well.

But that is really all the success we have had this week. Lots of our appointments fell through so we end up going to less active Member’s houses and teach them about the importance of church and the sacrament. However, none of those came this week to church either. I hope and pray that people will be more accepting to our message soon.

But ya I don’t eat dinner or breakfast really because we never go shopping....I can’t really communicate to my comp that I need food either. He speaks only Spanish, so we will see what happens. I am not really getting good enough nutrition to have energy or to have the strength in my knee that I need so I hope this improves soon too. It’s tough out here, but its all good for now.

I have been using the prewrap but I can only wear it for a few hours because it rubs the back of my knee all raw and stuff. Anyways...ha so I have so many flea and mosquito bites! I find about 6 new ones every morning. I am using my flea proof stuff haha but it’s not really working. I am getting used to the itchiness though so it’s not too bad at all. That is just how it is here I guess. Be grateful for your beds without fleas haha!

So how is all of your reading going....(I can’t do question marks) I am in Mark in the Bible and I am in Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. I am reading both in English. Then afterwards, I will start reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish. Hopefully it will help me with the language, cuz it’s not really coming at all. Someday I will get it.

I don’t really know about anything about calling for mothers day and I can’t really ask my comp about it cuz I don’t know how to haha. But I will figure it out and let you know hopefully. We shall see, but I can’t wait to hear all your voices again.
All is well here.
I love you all.
Keep the faith
Elder Smith

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"It's a Wonderful Mission"

By Leslie Smith

Everyone is familiar with the cute line from the movie It's a Wondeful Life that says, "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're missing out! Go rent it !

I was reminded of it when I ran across this as a comment on Elder Winn's blog and got a little laugh. "Every time a missionary knocks on a door in Europe, somebody in Central America gets baptized!"

Maybe it's a missionary mom thing. Maybe it's not funny at all. Maybe I'm just losing it from all my stress over Zone 18! (Click here and read the post titled "Tender Mercies from Zone 18" to know why that is said with as much trepidation as Harry Potter says "Voldermort.")

Anyway, I thought it was hilarious!

Monday, April 19, 2010

We already have a fecha!

Elder Smith with his new companion/trainer, Elder Escamilla (who doesn't speak any english!)

Elder Smith, Pres. and Sister Torres at the Mission Home

Ok so first off...the people that I remember in my district are Elder Winn, Elder Dunkley, Elder Bronson, Elder Vargas, Elder Winkel, Elder Bates, Elder Turek, Elder Davis, my comp Elder Escamilla….that’s all I remember. Oh and Elder Fadel and Elder Lusty went to Polochik, speaking Kekchi.

How is everyone? Doing well I hope!

Well my trainer is Elder Escamilla, he is from El Salvador. He goes back home after this change so it’s good to have someone so far into the mission. One thing I wish is that I could study Spanish during language study, instead he teaches me Kekchi. Its super cool and I love it though. And he doesn’t really speak any English so that is kind of rough. But he does know some, he just can’t speak it, so some words he writes on his hand so I can understand what he is trying to tell me.

Masala ch`ool means how are you in kekchi. That really is the only thing I can remember but its all good. Spanish is still really hard. I haven’t really been able to understand anybody still. That is kind of rough. For lessons he teaches and then says, "So now my companion will talk about this. . ." So I will talk for like 3 or 5 minutes, ask a question, and then I get lost from their answer. So that’s about how it goes. I hope I can do better soon though.

But guess what!!!! We already have a fecha!! Or in your terms, a date for a baptism! This girl named Cindy, she is probably 13, she lives with her grandma who is a member. Her dad had passed away recently and I don’t know about her mother. Anyways, they live in very humble circumstances. . . tin roof. We taught her the 2nd lesson, the plan of salvation, when we first met her and she wanted to be baptized. She asked for it not us, it was amazing!!! She is getting baptized this week on the 24th! Can’t wait! (Jordan's grandma joined the church in Guatemala, at about the same age as this young girl and also shortly after her own father had passed away. Oh, the future generations that this baptism will impact! So exciting and such a blessing that his first baptism is under these circumstances!)

So this area here is really tough. I would draw you a picture of my area but I can’t on the computer. But you can look it up on Google earth I guess. We are in Zone 18. Colonia Atlantida and Renacimiento. We live in Atlantida. It’s really hilly, if that’s a word, and we go running here every morning for our exercise time. It’s tough but good. I swear I have lost so much weight here!!! It is probably between 90 to 115 degrees everyday and we are constantly walking up and down hills or mountains. Renacimiento is a mountain village. It’s really rough on my knee, but I’m pushing through the pain. (Jordan's right knee has been bothering him for years from tendinitis caused from years of football and track. He's had it check out multiple times and had 2 MRI's on it but there is really nothing that can be done to "fix" it. He's also had hundreds of physical therapy appointments to help but those seem to be temporary in nature. As his mom, may I ask everyone that is reading this to please pray for the healing powers of heaven to help with his knee pain so that he can continue to work hard everyday. THANKS!)
The first real day out in the field there was a huge rainstorm. In Renacimiento, the main road we had to cross was crazy flooded. The street was a river, and the ¨streets¨ of Renacimiento were a waterfall. Renacimiento streets or walkways contain series of steps usually 5 or 6 at a time and then a big old slope. It’s rough on the knee. The other day we went back and forth from Rena. to Atl. 3 times. . .up down, up down, up down. I was so tired that day. I fell asleep as soon as the lights were turned off at 1030. It's great here even though we have a lot of rejection, and people are hardly there when we have appointments with them its ok because we have a couple other investigators that are progressing well.

I will send some pictures next week because I forgot to bring my camera with me. Thanks for those packages that Grandma brought. I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch the other day. 3 in fact. I am hungry a lot. (Jordan's grandma went to Guatemala in February before Jordan got there and took peanut butter and my homemade jam to the mission office to await his arrival in April.) I eat Trix everyday for breakfast, then we usually eat at a member's house for lunch at like 1. Then we don’t really eat after that. Nope, no dinner. That is probably why I am losing weight.

For personal study I have started reading the bible, along with the Book of Mormon that I started back in the CCM when I asked you all to do it. It has been great. I have never really read the bible thoroughly before so it will be good to be able to know more about it since every one here believes in it. That is all my companion uses! I wish he would use the Book of Mormon a little more, but he uses great scriptures from the bible that I hadn’t even heard of and then applies it to the doctrine we have in the Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel! He is a great missionary.

Today is my first p day! Yay!!! I receive and send letters on Wednesdays by the way during district meetings. We went to the church and played ultimate frisbee as a district and then we went to Little Ceasars! SO GREAT! I ate a whole large pizza by myself. DELICIOUS! (I received this from Elder Winkel's mom from an email that he sent home today: "Earlier today we played a great game of Ultimate frisbee! Elder Smith didn't know he could bring a change
of clothes so he showed up in his missionary attire and with glasses. He rolled up his pants and took off his tie to play, but I thought it was quiet funny looking. I love that Elder! "

Anyways, it has been good so far. I just wish I knew Spanish so I could understand what people were saying and so I could actually respond with my true feelings about this gospel that I have come to love. It will come though, at least I sure hope it does.

I love you all and hope you have a great week. Please pray for my investigators and my knee!
I’m grateful to be out here and can’t wait to share my testimony with others. Remember to be grateful for all the material things you have. It’s a lot more poverty stricken then you would think. I miss carpet and warm showers.
Well I love you all!!!
The end.
Elder Smith
Those that would like to see photos of the area that Jordan is serving in, click here for Elder Jensen's blog to see 4 different slideshows of that area.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

5 months in the making

Elder Smith arrived at the mission home of President and Sister Torres on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. As a family, we have joined Jordan in this 5 month journey (ever since he got his mission call back in November 2009) to get to where he is now....serving in the field on the streets of Guatemala. We know that he is so excited and so happy to be out there among the people and serving them with all his heart, might, and strength. We miss him terribly, but we wouldn't trade this experience for anything and we know that neither would he! As I looked at the title for this post I realized that this has actually been 19 1/2 years in the making, but we have been awaiting these particular photos for 5 months and couldn't wait for him to be counted as one of the official missionaries of the Guatemala City North Mission.

Sister Torres added the photos and comments shown below to her blog today. Click here to link over to it to view a slide show of more photos of the new April arrivals and luncheon on her blog.

"On April 13th we received a wonderful new group of missionaries. 20 total. This means that 2/3 of our mission has missionaries who have been in the mission 6 months or less. Some of the new Senior companions are fairly new themselves, yet we have faith that they will do just fine, because this work is not the work of young men, but this work is of God. It is to bring about salvation to the souls of Guatemala who are ready to enter into a covenant with Him.
Our new missionaries are Elder Lusty, Landon Anderson, McPhee, Hebert, Thacker,Anhder, Winkel, Fadel, Bronson, Hatch, Morrow, Dixon, Smith, Castro, Jose Gonzalez, Monzon, Chavarria, Chirinos and Sisters Endicott and Gomez. We have been waiting for we can move forward!"
Posted by Maria Luisa Torres

Friday, April 16, 2010

Salvation is not a cheap experience

Letter written April 7, 2010
Hola my little Mom!
I’m glad to hear you had a great birthday! You’re old! ;) Thanks for the Easter package! It came a couple days late cuz of the whole country shutting down for Holy Week.
To answer your question, I study everything gospel related in English. Then I study the language separately for how to teach it. I can barely understand like 1/8 of the scriptures in Spanish so I won’t be studying those really. But I have marked every scripture that I have found for each of the 5 lessons, tabbed them, and then wrote an English description about them in a separate folder. It works out great.
The next letter I get from you I will be out in the field! It’s blowing my mind! I will be able to speak fluent Spanish in like 4 months! Stoked for that! Well, I love you Mom. You rock my socks!
Pops –
Thanks for the scriptures. Ya Ether 12 is great about faith. I have used it numerous times in lessons that I have practiced teaching. I love D&C 121 as well. I finished reading the D&C on Saturday and that section, the beginning, and the verses you told me about are my favorite. I’m starting the Book of Mormon again soon and I am on about page 80 of Jesus the Christ. What were your favorite talks in conference? I like Elder Uchtdorf’s about patience and Elder Hollands’s about lust. He is so bold. I love it. We have heard some of his previous devotionals from the Provo MTC. My favorite thing he said in one of those is , “Your mission won’t be easy, don’t expect it to be easy or even want it to be easy. It will be hard because Salvation is not a cheap experience…..Christ suffered more than we can imagine, so why can’t we?....just a little tiny bit compared to Him?” So good!! Love it!!
Tell me how the Jazz do in the playoffs K? Sweet to hear about BYU. I love Fredette!
Love your son,
Elder Smith

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I am practically living in the Land of Nephi!

Letter written March 29, 2010
Hola mama!
Pues, Elder Martinez es un ninja porque he took me and Elder Winkel on at the same time and practically took us out in 5 seconds with his lightning quick moves.

Elder Martinez is in the middle. I miss him and the rest of that first group of latin elders. This next group just isn’t the same, but they are great elders as well.

Yo compre las corbatas de un hombre que viene al CCM cada semana. (I bought the ties from a man that comes to the CCM each week.) We can’t really bargain with him. They are sweet ties though. However, the things I bought at the market, I bargained for everything!

Roberto Cajas – “Bobby Boxes” – esta aqui Pero yo pienso que El no me recureda. (he is here, but I don’t think he remembers me. He was the man that coordinated and received all the white shirts and ties that Jordan sent down to the Guatemala MTC 4 years ago for his Eagle Project.) And he doesn’t speak English, or at least he doesn’t attempt to so I can’t really make too much contact with him. Besides, he isn’t around too often.

The fast Sunday we had yesterday was great! Not only could I feel the spirit, I could understand 90% of it! Probably because I say the same types of things, just much slower.

Being district leader here is a lot different than in Provo. Not quite as much responsibility but it’s great. We conduct district meetings and we conduct one of the meetings each Sunday (zone class a.k.a. Sunday School or Priesthood). But that might not even happen as much anymore because now all our church meetings are with the latinos…everything is in Spanish.

For gym time I had been lifting and doing situps. But now I run on the elliptical like a mad man the whole time and I do push-ups and sit-ups at night between 9:30 and 10:00 (and apparently reads his scriptures while doing handstands). The rest of the day I have class. Class from 9 to 12, then lunch, study time till 5 then dinner, then class at 6 to 9. It’s great….tough….but great. Study time is the best though. I’m almost done with the D&C . I have found many great scriptures that I will share at the end of this letter.

I love it here in Guat. and I am so grateful to be called to such a place where so many Book of Mormon events happened. I am practically living in the Land of Nephi! It is so great and I love it!!

Thank you for the green package mom. I finally got it. I am so happy to have snacks. I love anything sweet! Not many things are sweet here. I guess that is good for my weight in the long run.

I will continue to pray for Dew. Please give him my love and tell him that if he wants to be happy he must come back to the church or he will always be unhappy. And that is a promise! Tell him that I love him and that there are people who have it much worse. Know that his Father in Heaven loves him and I know that he can do better. But he must have faith in himself before he can have faith in Christ.

Thanks for all the support. I will try to keep a positive attitude at all times, but it’s tough some days. That’s how it goes though. Elder Holland said these things about missions: "You will have hard days. If it was hard for Jesus Christ, it has got to be at least a little tough for you."

Here are some of the scriptures that I loved and stood out to me as I read this week from the Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 105:40:41 Look up the poem “Footprints” – so good!
D&C 103:36, 103:12, 101:36, 95:5, 90:24, 88:6-13 (explains Bro. Campbell’s light deal), 75:10-11, 63:5, 58:2-4, 50:26

Here is my testimony in Spanish:
Yo se que el Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios. Yo se que Jose Smith tradujo el Libro de Mormon a traves el poder de Dios. Dios nos ama. Si obdecemos sus mandamientos, El nos bendicira. Yo se que Jesucristo es el hijo de Dios. A traves su expiación podemos tener vida eterna. Yo se que todas las personas son hijos de Dios. Yo se que la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos dias es verdadera. Yo se que tenemos profetas en la tierra en actualidad. Yo se que la obra de los misioneros es la obra de Dios. Yo espero que todas las personas leerian el Libro de Mormon para que saber de la verdad. Estoy agradecemos por el Evangelio de Jesucristo. Estoy agradecemos por mi familia. Yo se que podemos vivir juntos para siempre. Yo amo este Evangelio. En el nombre de nuestro Salvador y Redentor, Jesuscristo. Amen.
- Elder Smith

Monday, April 12, 2010

CCM photos!!

(by Leslie) Tomorrow morning Elder Smith will go out into the field, receive his new companion and area assignment and get to work! We may not get an email from him until next Monday (his new Prep day) so stay tuned for that.

But today we got a package from Guatemala!!! Jordan sent home all of his letters that he has received so far with a note that said, "Keep these in a safe place and don't read them you bum bums ;) " Thanks to all family and friends for taking the time to write him words of love & encouragement.

He sent home a handmade slingshot and a wallet for Jake, a headband for Allison, and a headband and keychain for Nicole. But the best part was that he sent home 2 DVD's containing tons of photos for all of us to enjoy!!!!! Click on the slideshow on the right side of this blog to see them all. Here are a few of my favorites:

All of the CCM North American Missionaries on a fieldtrip. (Click on the photo to enlarge)
They went to a museum, a relief map of Guatemala, El Mercado Central, and to Wendy's for lunch!

The Relief Map of Guatemala was amazing to Jordan. It was one of his favorite parts of the fieldtrip.

It's so great to see our "old" Jordan back!!!!

There happened to be an even number of blue and white jerseys purchased at the Mercado Central by the elders so they put them to good use at a CCM soccer match.

Some of Elder Smith's spoils of the Mercado Central

Keeping up with his photography hobby.

Showing off their new handmade guatemalan bags.

Elders Smith and Winkel coming out of the temple.
He labeled this photo "Models! Ha ha!"

"These showers are made for tiny people!"
"Now I know who those showers are for!"
Elder Smith with the two shortest elders at the CCM!

Jordan's room at the CCM

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Conference + Rain = Awesome!

Your guy’s spring break Arizona trip sounds way fun! I am pretty sure they will give us any letters on Tuesday. I don’t know about getting to email. You will still get the letters I am sending today though..

Ok now for your questions...
1. How do you feel about leaving the CCM and starting your mission for real? I am way excited to get out of here. I think I am developing cabin fever or something because I am losing my mind. I can’t wait to get out in the field.

2. Did you get to watch conference? In English or Spanish? Ya of course we watched conference, and in English too. I liked Elder Holland’s about lust....He is my favorite just cuz he is so bold and not afraid to tell it straight. Then I loved President Uchtdorf´s in priesthood about patience. I have been working on that Christ like attribute so it was good to receive help from an apostle on that subject!! Oh and we got to watch "The Best 2 Years" after the afternoon session on Sunday!! It was way tight!!!

3. Remember to do your stretches for your knee. Is it still bothering you? Ya my knee hurts a lot sometimes, but nothing that I can’t handle. The bus rides when we go out to the city makes it hurt the most. It’s like a stand up roller coaster that lasts for 35 minutes. It’s pretty intense. I think I will be a pretty dope climber when I get home...with all the bus rides and standing up, holding on to the rails for dear life gives you a pretty good forearm workout.

Sweetness. I’m glad that you guys are reading the book of mormon again. Keep Moroni´s promise (Moroni 10:3-5) always in your mind and you will get out so much more than you would without it.

Ok so not too many adventures. We did go contacting for the last time at the park yesterday and Monday. On Monday we did well and many people accepted pamphlets from us. It was great. and there was a whole zone from the north mission there on their P-Day! So we talked to them for a second. The only names I remember were Elder Davis and Elder Portillo. Anyways that was cool to see some people that were out in the field that we might have as companions next week. Then on Tuesday it started out kinda bad. My companion for the day wouldn’t really heed to how I told him to go about contacting people, but after the first 3 people we figured it out and got on a roll! It was so great. I actually taught a little bit this time instead of just testifying!!! It was awesome and we gave out 4 copies of the book of mormon and tons of pamphlets. We got 8 references and they were all super interested. Maybe I will teach them next week!!!

We finally experienced the first rain here...well it was more of a sprinkling. But we were told that it would rain on Friday, it finally did at like 9:59 at night! Ha-ha and then last night I randomly woke up and heard a crazy rain storm outside, it was way cool.

Oh by the way, I sleep with 4 girls every night out here. It might be against the rules but it's great! Hahaha jk....well kinda, my bedspread has 4 Disney princesses on it. It is so funny!

Last question…Do you remember that your mom loves you from here to space to the North Pole? Ha I love you too mom!

I hope you get the letters I sent last week today or tomorrow, I sent them on Thursday I think...not too sure when, but they should be there soon. So you got my package yet? or no?....if not its all good.
Well I love you all!!!!

-Elder Smith

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Miracles do happen

By: Leslie Smith
After yesterday's email, Brendan and I are wondering what happened to our Jordan? What happened to our son who only a year ago was complaining about having family scripture time with excuses like, "I have too much homework" or "I have to get up really early" or "My friends are waiting for me right now!" etc, etc. And then when he would be asked to say our family prayer his one and only line was always, "But it's not my turn!"

I write this not to dog on Jordan, but to give parents some hope. (Ok, mainly just moms because I doubt there are many dads reading this blog). They do change! It all starts to click and your grumpy teenager turns into a vibrant excited missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Quoting from an email yesterday from my friend Bonnie, she commented "I just love how you can tell when they have really caught fire and their testimonies are growing!! They start telling us to do the things we've been telling them for years!" Now I'm just hoping he'll realize that keeping a clean room/apartment is important too, but that's asking for too much, I know.

Why can't the church have an MTC bootcamp instead of scout camp at least for one summer?!! It would save us so many years of torture! We've really been blessed with good kids though (so far) and haven't had any big issues with any of them. Jordan has just been the one to give us a run for our money with his loudness, his nonstop talking, his wild and crazy antics at inappropriate times and places, his constant busy fingers that loved to torture his younger brother and sister and anyone else that was "in the way." He has always chosen the right, thank goodness, but in his own way. He's loud, stirs up contention in the family, yet very quick witted and funny, can be moody, hot tempered, not teachable AT ALL, a little lazy and stubborn. He's definitely never been our "reverent" child and it's almost shocking to witness his growth in just 7 weeks! Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old (or when he becomes a missionary), he will not depart from it.

His challenge for all of us to read the Book of Mormon by ourselves, either again or for the first time, comes to us from a young nineteen year old who has finally seen the miracle of it in his life. Our ward's Elders Quorum also just recently challenged us to read the Book of Mormon in 90 days starting today, April 1st. I hope that we will all take this opportunity.