"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, September 27, 2010

Isn’t it cool how the Spirit works?

This is the little animal that we fed cookies to when we went to Tikal

This change was super fast!! I still can't really comprehend that it’s over really! Pretty crazy stuff. I'm not sure what I’m really hoping for....but me and Toolson will probably be here for one more change together. Unless he gets a change and I move up to senior companion, but I don’t think that will go down quite yet. So we will find out later tonight.

Yeah we head over to San Benito, the Zone Leader’s area for General Conference. Elder Winn said today that he is going to conference up here with his parents, so I will meet them for sure. That sounds pretty fun that you guys are going to the cabin to watch conference with everyone. Too bad Nicole can’t come. But when I get back we should do that for sure, then Nicole will be there too!

I got the letter and bracelet that Noah (Jordan’s 10 year old cousin) made and sent me. I was planning to write Noah a little note today to thank him. I put his bracelet in my study journal because we aren’t allowed to wear bracelets but I see it everyday. Oh and I got the turquoise package today too! Nice ugly tie!! I said sweet ties by the way, not ugly. But I did need an ugly tie, because we have ugly tie days and stuff like that so thanks!!! That’s all I really saw, I haven’t had a chance to look at the rest of it.

We didn’t have church yesterday afterall! You probably know about the hurricane that almost hit us. It rained from 3 am Saturday until 9 pm Saturday night! So our district (stake, but with branches and not wards) cancelled it. And of course it was sunny on Sunday. But what can you do...its Guat. So we will officially start teaching Primary the week after conference I guess. Yeah, everything is good despite the storm. The Juarez’s place is still standing, thank goodness! The river rose probably a good 7 feet or so. Good thing it went down 5 feet right before the storm or the highway would probably have been all flooded.

I tried recording us sing, but it sounds really really horrible when it’s recorded on that little voice recorder. I don’t know why, but the tapes don’t really enjoy singing too much I guess. just doesn’t work, maybe we’ll try one more time.

Now on to our investigators. . . Familia Caac. They moved into our area from Elder McPhee's area. They don’t speak a lick of Spanish, only kekchi. But we teach them anyways. It was really cool, it seemed that they understood every word we were saying to them. They can’t ask us any questions but they seemed to respond well to our message. Isn’t it cool how the Spirit works like that?

We found some pretty cool new people this week too. Vilma and Wendy. Vilma is the mom and Wendy the daughter. The mom was kind of in and out when we taught about the restoration but Wendy asked the most perfect amazing questions that allowed us to teach with super effectiveness and she also understands so much of what we are teaching. So that was really cool to teach them. Hopefully they end up awesome because they don’t go to any church, nor really want to, and they don’t really read the Bible that much either. So hopefully we can get them to church and they can end up Pilas (Guat word for awesome, kinda ha-ha).

Julián hasn’t really progressed, but went a little backward this last time we taught him because he is a 7th day Adventist. They believe that the Sabbath day is on Saturday and he is pretty much unwilling to change that belief even though he knows the Book of Mormon is true. So we will see what happens with him. Hopefully he will leave some pride behind and receive a stronger testimony that will help him have the faith to do something about it. We’ll see...

That’s it for investigators. And really the adventures over here as well because we haven’t had rats lately. Which is good, but it makes life a little less exciting. Ha! No more adrenaline rush from killing rats with baseball bats!

This is a one of the many evil and possessed dogs in Guat that are out for my life!

Well I love you all so much!!!!
Stay Strong
Keep the Faith
Elder Jordan Smith

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I’m a man now. That’s what I’m talkin about!

HELLO Everyone!!!
So I feel really weird being 20. I am no longer a teen. I’m a man now. That’s what I’m talkin about! Ha ha!!

(It looks like he got to bake his birthday cake mix that we sent from home at the church!)

That’s really lame about BYU. Hopefully they can step it up a little bit so they can get some big recruits. They should be able to since they can get into BCS now and that they have ESPN exposure but we’ll see I guess. Hopefully it improves soon and Bronco wakes them up.

We have started working a lot with members to try and find the less actives. Because the problem is that here there are no addresses and it is impossible to find anyone out here if you don’t already know where people live. Also, our areas are so large and people don’t have cars here. They just don’t feel like leaving their houses in the insane heat to go into a hot building where you can’t hear anything. So it’s really rough!

We are spicing up Sacrament meeting this upcoming week though. Me, McPhee and Drach are going to sing Be Still My Soul. It should be sweet, hopefully. Be Still My Soul doesn’t exist in the Spanish hymnbook, so we translated verse 1 and verse 3 and we are gonna sing verse 2 in English. It should be pretty sweet. And it might wake some people up! We will see if we can do a fireside or something too. Hopefully people will start to come more. It will be pretty hard to get the word out but we shall see.

Quick Sunday story from Elder Toolson: Then we had two women come to the church who were from the district and they were just checking out the primary because they are having some huge primary activity in November and the teacher seems to never show up. Randomly she comes into the priesthood class and looks at me and Elder Smith and tells us to follow her. So we get to the primary class and she tells us that we are pretty much the new primary teachers and we have to teach these kids 10 songs and memorize like 2 scriptures. If you knew how crazy Latino kids are you would know that I was/am freaking out. So every week now we have to teach all these little rascals a hymn and a scripture. This might be the hardest task of my mission so far...ha ha Ok that was joke, but it’s gonna be different. I'm good friends with almost all the kids so I'm thinking if I bring some candy I'm sure it will be a lot easier.

So the other day I did a little heat test with my thermometer/alarm clock thing. It was 90 degrees by 11 in the morning, how crazy is that!! It was 97 during the day. WHOOF! Ha but I’m getting used to it. . . well kind of. Ok, not really, but it's not too bad most days. So I guess that’s good.

(Just a funny comment that was written in a snail mail letter written August 16, but we just received it): So I haven't been up to my normal pranks out here in the mish. Honestly I haven't done any (yet). There isn't really any time to pull a prank, or the resources that I had back in college. Ha ha! So really nothing.....unless you count me scaling a wall like a ninja to scare Elder Turek by dropping water on him as he was walking up to his apartment. Ha ha! But that was it really.

I have learned a few things about myself that I didn't know before...1. I can cook really mean eggs. 2. I can eat a lot more when poeple are pushing me to eat more of their food. 3. I know a lot more about the Gospel than I thought I did. That was a surprise to me especially when I first got out to the field.

Ok so the updates on our only investigator....Julián.
He is doing really good, and still reading the Book of Mormon and everything. Super awesome! We asked him about how he felt about our church. He told us that he really liked it all and thought that everything we have shared so far is true. So that is really awesome. We popped the baptism question after that. He told us that he is not quite ready for that yet but he still wanted to keep learning more from us and he is always excited when we go visit him. So hopefully he will be able to receive the conviction as I have received that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the ONLY true church on the face of the earth.

This family has that testimony and I just love them! Pictured here are Abél and Sandra Maribel Juárez Najarro. They were both baptized by their dad, Lazaro, who is a recent convert and just received the priesthood and authority to baptize his kids. So Awesome!

A really cool conversion story that I heard from a member this past week . . .
Her name is Hna. Córdova. She has been an active member for a long time and is super awesome! She told us that for 13 years the missionaries had been visiting her. She always allowed them in and let them teach her but never really felt the need to pray or things like that. Then one day when the missionaries came, one of them got really upset at her and told her to not believe a single word that they had taught her and to just think about if Joseph Smith was a prophet and to pray about that. He told her that they were not coming back until she did. She was so impressed by those comments that that night she got on her knees and prayed and had the strongest feeling that she had ever felt in her entire life that the Church was true. She then looked for the missionaries and when they walked past her house she stopped them and said that she wanted to be baptized.

That story helped me a lot because about 90% of the people I have taught just never pray about what we have taught them. So I learned that maybe it’s not their time to pray and that I shouldn’t get frustrated. But maybe somewhere down the line, they will feel the urge to pray and they will find out for themselves. I also hope that I can be that last missionary who finds them ready to pray, ready to receive that answer from God, and is ready to be baptized. I know that people like that are out there. We just have to find them.

That’s really about all that happened this last week. Nothing too exciting. Except for this:

And I didn’t get an email from mom to be able to answer more of your questions if you had any. But I love you guys so much!!!! (What!! Saddest day of Mom's life, because of course I wrote him a great long email full of questions and love. I have no idea what happened.)

Wait....HOLD ON! He did get mom's email and replied quickly at 6:38 pm, but it didn't make it to our email inbox until 4:05 am!! Whew! Here is what he wrote:

Well I just barely got your email Mom, so I will respond to it real quick. For my birthday we went to La Libertad to bake the cake at the church there. While the cake was baking, we watched the RM. So that was pretty fun! We didnt do too much besides that, but it was a good birthday!! The Feliz Cumpleanos family photo banner is pretty sweet! Ha not gonna lie.

Way to be that you finally went to a temple session in spanish. WHOO HOO!!

Guats Independance Day was a lot less exciting than you would think. There were a couple parades the day before. But they celebrate it really weird. Independance here is on the 15th, but they celebrate all night on the 14th and they did stuff until around 1 pm on the actual day and then that was it! Ha! I wanted to light some fireworks or something but we didn't do anything special, but it was kind of a fun little atmosphere for those few hours...

Well I don't have any more time to write but I hope you all have a great week! Love you!

P.S. I am so grateful for all your prayers and fasting and for the Lord for blessing me so greatly. I haven't had knee pain since my 2nd change. It makes the work a lot easier I don't have to deal with physcial pains anymore, just the emotional and spiritual pains and happiness! I've had many ups and downs spiritually but I have learned a lot and am continually growing.
Stay Strong
Keep the Faith
Elder Jordan Smith

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tikal is breathtaking!


(He's so good to always answer all of mom's questions first):
Any requests as to how you want us to celebrate YOU on the 18th?
Hmmm...nope not really.

What are you buying? Anything fun? I just want to make sure it’s really you and all the recent charges on your card are legit. Did you get Grandma Angie’s package? She’s wondering.
Yep got all of it!!! Thank you soo much!! I even got the package that Grandma sent me for my birthday. She wrote the card in Spanish. It made me kinda laugh because she put the English word next to a few words in case I didn’t understand. But I understood everything without that! So that was cool. But thanks for that 20 bucks!! (We have a birthday tradition of giving our kids $1 for every year they are old). I already got it changed to Quetz and I also spent it too. Thank you so much! Yes that’s me using my card. It’s legit. And the stuff I bought with it is pretty legit too, but that’s all a surprise. So you shall see.

So I have been thinking of the Juarez family all week!! And of course you guys too. It’s so hard to imagine that they’re whole house was flooded and that you guys helped build them a house in one day.
Well the floor of that other house was already done. And it’s not what you can really call a house by our standards. It works as a shelter for them for now I guess. I just hope that it doesn’t blow over because it’s on these stilt things and isn’t very sturdy. So I hope it lasts.

What time do you have church? 9 a.m

Best thing I ate this week: Pizza Hut. Worst thing: Rotten Meat that we had. I had one taste and that was it for me. Elder Toolson just gobbled it all right up! I think our stomachs are immune now or something because he didn’t even have diarrhea or anything!

Wow! Ha that was a lot of questions. Now for what happened....

The baptisms Saturday were so amazing! It really was special to have Lázaro baptize his kids. It was really awesome. It was done in the font because the river was too high. It was really cool because a lot of the members were there too! My last 2 baptisms, not one member came. So that was really cool to see all the support. Their names are Abél and Sandra Maribel Juárez Najarro. They are 16 and 9 respectively. Abel’s birthday is one day after Jake’s! So they’re the exact same age. I really don’t know why they weren’t baptized before, probably just because they didn’t want to. There are 2 more kids of that family that still need to be baptized. We couldn't baptize the 11 year old girl because we haven't found her birth certificate and they don't know her birthday. Only in Guat! The kids that are left are 11 and 20. They said that they want to be baptized on the 4th of Nov. It’s kind of a wait but it will be really sweet and probably in the river too. So that will go down next change up here. So that should be really cool. I can’t wait!

Our 3 investigators (kids) have been receiving missionaries for like a year now and the mom just doesn’t want to listen. So we have tried to teach the grandma. She’s not too receptive though. She says she is ''Too afraid'' to leave the house to go to church, even though we have said we would go with her. She carries a giant pistol on her belt all the time along with 4 other clips ready to go. So we will see how that goes.

We caught more rats, hooray!! We did video the whole rat capture and kill moment from last week. And yes we were all screaming like little girls, but it’s because we had flip flops on. It was gonna bite our toes off! Ha ha! Good Excuse huh?

We went looking for a different house to live in this last week. We found one good one, but it’s smaller and is double the price so I think we will be living in ''the Barn'' for a little bit longer. Ha ha!

We got MICROWAVES!! We still haven’t been able to use it because we have to buy an adapter to be able to plug it in to the outlets here. It’s the 3 prong thing and there aren’t any of those outlets here. But it’s still exciting!!

Church this last week was disappointing. We had no investigators there and only 28 members came to church. We also found out that there are 396 members here in Sayaxché! So who knows where they are because between the 2 areas here we really only know like 10 total less actives and we also visit every member we know at least once a week because we don’t have too many investigators, which kinda stinks. So we have a lot of work to do.

We do have this really neat man named Julián Moreno that we are talking to. He reads the Book of Mormon and does everything we ask him to do. So I sure hope he will progress, because he works on Sundays and can’t make it to church. Hopefully we can get him there though!

I bought a new tiny little bible this week too. The one that I got from the MTC is destroyed for some reason. From the humidity probably, and it got wet during the hurricane too. But the little one is super nice. It fits in my pocket so it doesn’t weigh anything! So that’s pretty cool to be carrying around.

And you probably already know....
But we went to TIKAL yesterday!!!!! It was really sweet! The ruins and the views were breathtaking. It was really neat.

Elder Toolson's (Jordan's companion) account of Tikal: I pretty much had the best p-day of my life!! And thats no lie! First we went over to the zone leaders' house at 7:00 on Sunday night. Then the next morning we woke up at 5:00 a.m. and left to go do the activity. Yes thats right, We went to TIKAL!!!!! It is one of the most famous ruins in the whole world. It was seriously the coolest experience of my life. The temples are huge and they are everywhere. The weather was perfect, a little cloudy with a little rain the whole day. I saw like 20 monkeys climbing in the trees. I even saw a tucan! Then, when me and Smith were walking around we saw some animal that looked kinda like a ant eater and raccoon mixed. It's called a white nose coati. It just ran up to us looking for food, so we pulled out some cookies and it would run up and eat them out of our hands! Then Elder Drach came and he put it in his mouth and the thing took it from his mouth! Then elder Pierce came and put a cookie on his back and made it climb up him to getit! Haha it was seriously so funny because it was this wild animal but so nice. Then we kept walking around and climbed some temples that are like 150 ft high. As we were up there you would see other temples just poking out of the jungle. Seriously, the coolest thing I have ever seen! There are like 12 temples that are enormous! Also a lot of little houses everywhere that they say were for sacrifices. It took about 3 and a half hours to look at everything.

We also saw a missionary that just finished his mission from the South mission. He was there with his family. So that was cool to be able to talk to some other ''real'' Americans besides just us missionaries. Tikal was pretty sweet.

A mi me gusta mucho para poder estar aquí en la misión. Me ha ayudado mucho en mi vida y mi testimonio ha crecido mas que pensaba que lo podía. Puedo ver la mano del Señor cada día y los milagros que he visto son maravillosos. Los cambios en las personas por el evangelio verdadero es muy especial. Doy gracias cada momento que tengo para invitar personas a esta iglesia. Espero que las personas puedan recibir este mensaje en sus vidas también y no solamente escucharnos y ya no más. Pero yo sé que la misión es la obra del Señor y también sé sin duda que La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días es la única iglesia verdadera sobre la faz de la tierra. Gracias al Señor por este gran oportunidad que yo tengo para ser misionero. He aprendido muchas cosas acerca del evangelio y también acerca de cosas en la vida que puedo mejorarme para que yo pueda ser una persona buena cuando regreso a casa después de este tiempo que tengo aquí.

Muchísimas Gracias por todas las cosas que han hecho para mí durante mi vida.
Les amo mucho.
Quédeles Fuerte y Fiel
Guarde la Fe
Se Cuida hasta la próxima
Con Amor
Elder Jordan Smith
Sorry if my spanish had too many errors. I LOVE YOU ALL

Translated by mom for all you gringos :)
I really like being able to be out here on a mission. It has helped me so much in my life and my testimony has grown more that I had thought possible. I can see the hand of the Lord every day and the miracles that I have seen have been marvelous! The change that happens in people because of the gospel is so special. I give thanks to our Heavenly Father for every moment that I have out here to invite people to His church. I hope that people will receive our message into their lives and not just listen to us and that’s it. I know that my mission is to do the work of the Lord. I also know without a doubt that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth. I give thanks to the Lord for this great opportunity that He has given me to be a missionary. I have learned so much more about the gospel and also things about my own life that will help me to be a better person when I return home after my time here is done.

Thank you so very much for the things that you have done for me throughout my whole life.
I love you all very much
Stay Strong and Faithful
Keep the Faith
Take care until next time
With Love,
Elder Jordan Smith

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oh how interesting it is to live in a barn/house!

A really great thing about being in a missionary mom group is being friends with your son's companion. With permission from his mom, I will include tidbits of Elder Toolson's email this week in green to help make a complete story of the week with two perspectives.

Ha! I told you I have gotten super dark up here! And I continue to get darker every day with this crazy sun! It’s like walking around in a tanning bed with a really powerful humidifier!!! Lol.

It's been raining alot and the river has risen so much! Fortunately, Peten is realy flat so its impossible to have an actual mud slide. The river here has risen a lot!! There are parts of our area that are completely flooded so that we can’t go there. It’s crazy! But our house is pretty high up and far enough away from the river. It’s still got at least 600 yards to hit our house, so that most likely won’t happen, plus it’s got to go up the hill of the main road. So we are nice and safe where we are. We have a regular linoleum floor, not dirt. No damages besides the holes that already exist in our house. Ha ha!

It's super crazy about all these natural disasters around the world! We have been talking a lot about all that stuff as a district here and also how an apostle said that the church headquarters won’t be in Utah for too much longer, and that there is cool stuff happening in Missouri. It’s all getting me pretty excited. Who knows, maybe my kids could be called on missions to Jerusalem!!! I guess we shall find out soon enough!!

Oh we killed 4 rats this week! 3 of them by our trap and 1 giant one that escaped the trap and we chased around the house for about an hour. But we finally got it cornered and exterminated it from our house. Hopefully these rats will learn to not come into our house. It’s just so open to the outside, anything can get in! Toolson saw a giant scorpion the other morning crawling up the wall too. Oh how interesting it is to live in a barn/house! Goofy story for the week. We have been having a lot of rat problems these past couple of weeks so we set the trap like every night. In one week we killed 4 rats! Ha ha! One night at like 2 a.m. I heard the trap go off, (the trap never actually gets them, just makes them dizzy or something) so I go in the kitchen and it's just chillin on the floor like it can't even see me. So I get my bat and walk like 3 feet from it and just nail it into the wall as hard as I could! Then it totally ran at me so I screamed like a little girl when it touched my foot! Then I woke everyone up and they all got their brooms and stuff and we just chased this rat around for like 15 min in the middle of the night screaming and yelling! Ha ha! It was so much fun :) Then we finally trapped it in the bathroom and Mcphee smashed it. It was a good one!

Sorry Mom, I had to open all my birthday presents...I couldn’t wait for a whole month and just look at them everyday ha ha! Sorry, please forgive me! Oh I have a Christmas list if that’s ok since who knows when I will receive it. All I want is the D&C Manual, the Book of Mormon Manual and the book called Day of Defense. Hopefully you can find it all. But that is really all I want...nothing else, unless you absolutely want to give me more, I won’t deny it.

I didn’t write the talk that I gave in sacrament last week. I just kinda expounded a tiny bit on what we usually teach in lessons about the atonement (expiacion or expiar is to atone). So sorry that I can't really send that to you.

Your questions:
Eythan is trying to find his graphing calculator. He said he let you borrow it. Any ideas where it might be? It’s not in your backpack.
Eythan must be on crack! Sorry, I haven't seen his graphing calculator. I didn’t really ever need it for my math class. He helped me one time with it but I was never given it. So who knows...or in Guat terms, SABER!

We would love to be able to have family prayer at night at the same time as you are so we can feel more like a complete family. What do you think? What time?
I don’t really have a set time to pray. It’s just random. 10:30 usually but sometimes I go to bed earlier or a little later.

What’s with your MTV backpack you’re always wearing? Kind of cracks me up.
MTV backpacks are all that they sell in the land of Guatemala. So I bought one because the bag I brought… well I really didn’t like carrying it around and the other morrales, or those little shoulder bags, hurt my shoulder after a while. So I bought a lat-pack! Awesome!

Tell me how you have liked and used your gospel picture photo album that I made for you?
I mostly use the pictures about the restoration. It has really been a good tool to use. Thanks so much!!

Ok first off, about the baptisms...The 3 kids of Famila Juarez, the recently baptized family, is happening this next Saturday at 5. It was delayed because we want the dad, Lázaro, to baptize them. But he hadn’t been ordained a priest yet. He got ordained yesterday, on Sunday. He is going to perform the baptisms in the font by our branch building. We can’t do it in the river because there isn’t a beach for people to sit anymore. It’s risen too high. We were going to do the baptisms at his house in the river but then the river grew so much that it just flooded his whole house.

It was a humbling experience to see the Juarez family. We went over there to help them build a new house on stilts. The whole family, along with all their belongings, were just under some tin roof thing just barely big enough to cover every thing. At night they all slept in their little lanchas (little boats). We built them a whole house in like 9 hours. The dad put in the floor before we got there so we put up the walls and the roof. It was pretty much the hardest work I have ever done! I felt like a true Mexican :) It didn't help that it was SO hot and I was sweating so much it was ridiculous! But it felt great to accomplish so much in a day.

The other 3 fechas that we had with other kids is rather disappointing and frustrating. The rule is that they have to go to church 7 times and be interviewed by President. They have gone to church more than 10 times and the last 2 weeks they have been the first people at church! They've gone all by themselves. President is coming up next week for leadership training for the District Leaders and the Zone Leaders so he was going to do the interviews then. But then we received a call last night from our DL saying the President would prefer that their mom commit to baptism too before the interviews happen. So now we have to work with their mom really hard. She doesn’t really even want to listen to us though. She is cool and all but she doesn’t want to even hear our message. If she still doesn’t want to be baptized I am hoping that President will still do the interviews. So that is a HUGE bummer and it makes me sad. We still don’t really know what to say to the 3 kids when we go over there this week. I pray that the Spirit will guide us to say the right things so that we don’t lose them like we did with Familia Molina when the same thing happened.

That is pretty sweet about BYU going Independent. That 8 year deal with ESPN sounds amazing for them! I’m so stoked for that! I’m glad that they found a really good replacement running back. That will help a lot. Who is all on the schedule this year then? Anyone sick? Texas and Oregon are to be played in later years, right? Or are they for this year?

Well nothing else interesting really happened this week! We caught 4 rats, it's hot, I got darker. Ha ha!!! That’s about it!

I hope this was long enough for you, but I really don’t know what else to write!! I love you all so much!!
Stay Strong
Keep the Faith
Love Elder Jordan Smith