"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, October 25, 2010

It’s really cool to see all these little kids coming to church

(Note from Mom: It doesn't look like Jordan is ever having any fun on his mission, poor guy! Ha Ha!)


My hand is doing good. Just peeling, but good.

Church went pretty well this past week. The primary kids were pretty out of hand,but hopefully it won’t be the same next week. But it’s really cool to see all these little kids coming to church. You would think that their parents bring them. Oh no! I don’t even know who their parents are! We will try and see if we can visit with some of the kids' parents because pretty much none of them have been baptized and they are all 8 or 9 years old. So we shall see if we can find some neat families to teach through that.

First off, my interview with President went really well. Elder Toolson went right before me and hyped me up to President and told him that I am studying Kekchi on my own. Then I went in and he asked if I had met a lot of Kekchi people in Sayaxché, and well, there are TONS of them that live here. So I went off on that for a little bit and told him that it would be really nice to be able to teach them and to be able to communicate with them. So we shall see where it goes from there. I'm pretty sure that one of us will have a change too. I am almost positive I will be a senior companion next change, unless I go to the Chik. So I guess we will find out what happens, right?

Zone conference went really well and I took a lot of good notes in my planner. But then my planner was lost in transit going back to our area, so that was pretty disappointing. I found a new one in the house though, so that’s good. I really enjoyed Zone Conference and we learned a lot to be able to work with the members and to be able to strengthen the weaknesses of our branch. We are getting a microphone/speaker system put in and fans installed that should be done by next week too! We are uber STOKED for that. But we still have a lot of work to do to get this place back into shape but we are working hard with President Ponce to be able to fix it all up. So the future is looking brighter for little Sayaxché.

Elder Toolson wrote: "The branch is growing but we need more priesthood holders so we can buy a chapel of our own and not this house/church we meet in. Things are progressing here and it's going good. We had some investigators come to church and 45 people showed up so that's a good sign. This past Saturday we held our own little activity at the place where we have Internet. We held a mini general conference for all the people that couldn't go the first time and like 21 people showed up! So it went a lot better then we thought. For some people, it was their first time seeing the prophet speak, ever! And they've been members for about 10 years. It was amazing to see the interest they had when they were watching it. A very good spiritual moment for me. I just hope they got as much out of it as I did. We only watched the morning session of the Saturday one, but that one was amazing! "

Toolson actually cut a lot of his friend’s hair before the mission and cuts his own hair too. So my hair looks pretty good! Ha I guess you will have to find out with the pictures I am sending... (I think he meant "buzzed" not "cut" hair. Good thing Jordan's hair has always grown so fast!)

Oh I actually do have a couple more Christmas requests if that is ok. I would like a pair of gray pants and a pair of black pants. My pants are really getting beat up. So it would be nice to have more. I would also really love new scriptures. My quad is getting really worn out especially along the binding since it's so big. So nice, sturdy scriptures would be amazing. It will also allow me to get nice single leather scripture covers up here. That would be just super amazing!!!! Oh and PEANUT BUTTER!!! Yummy. Oh and if grandma could send me up some more guat stamps that would be completely amazing!!!

I sent home my bank signature cards for the bank with Elder Winn. And I sent home my big black raincoat with him too. Hopefully that will all get there to you soon.

I sure hope we have a big mission wide Christmas activity. All I know is that if I am still up here in Petén, we will have our own activity but if I go somewhere else that would be fantastic to see Bronson again! Ha! I really love that kid!

Yes that ATM withdrawal was legit because I ran out of mission money and I needed it to buy food.

The 3 new sisters, Hadassa, Maya, and Jessely, are doing well. They were busy when we went by, but we scheduled an appt. with them for tonight. They seemed excited to have us come back. So they are still doing great. I really think that if we don’t get the chance to baptize them, someone else will. They are truly really special.

Well nothing else has really happened this week. We have been working really hard and having fun together.

I love you all and I hope you have a fantastic week!
Stay Strong
Keep the Faith
Elder Jordan Smith

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We have become lovers of our humble barn house


I really want to learn Kekchi. I have already learned Spanish, and I know how hard it was, so it should be easier to learn another language. Turek is learning it and loves it. I think it would be a really fun experience. We have interviews and zone conference this Thursday and Friday. So in my interview I'm going to tell President that I want to learn kekchi. It will raise my chances of going there but it's not like it makes it 100% sure that I will go there. I talked to an elder who is in our zone now that was in the Chik and he loved it! He said the people there are just amazing and love the missionaries so much. Yeah the language is going to be tough, but I think I'm up for the challenge! And it is really beautiful and pure jungle which is also a plus!

I have a pretty funny/stupid story that happened to me this week. You know how I am kind of challenged when it comes to receiving burns on my left hand....Happened again! Haha! But this time with boiling hot water. I was getting my Laky (Guat Top Ramen) ready and I was about to pour the water into my bowl and the handle on the pot was really crappy so it just kinda dumped all over my hand. It hurt for a few hours and I couldn't really fall asleep because I was in quite a bit of pain. But now it's just like a bad sunburn on my hand. So it's not too bad. So what does that make the left hand burn count go 4? or 5? I need to work on my clumsiness. Haha.

(Nicole came to spend the night Monday and Tuesday with Allison while Dad and I were with Jake at his State Golf Tournament. She's a great example to Allison. One in a million that girl!) Yeah I know Nicole is one in 7 billion (the world population) and that's why I love her. She is just the bestest ever!!

It hasn't rained this month so the river has gone down A LOT!

Some of our investigators are doing pretty good. Not very many people progress here. We did find 3 more really sweet investigators. Hadassa (23) Mayaei (18) and Jessely (16) They are really awesome! They said that their parents always accepted missionaries into their home when they were really little, but didn't really know what was going on. So now they are really interested in each lesson so far and seem to really be searching for something in their lives. I'm not sure what happened to their parents because they don't live with them, but they did say that they lived in the US for a short period of time, so maybe they are still there. We have a cita (appointment) with them on Wednesday so we are going to ask them about all that. They are really nice too, they gave us Pizza when we contacted them and taught them the Restoration. And they gave us little cookies for the 2nd lesson about the Book of Mormon. They seemed really excited to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it too. So I hope they did that and they prayed with enough faith to receive that special witness from the Holy Ghost. We shall see what happens!!

Wendy, we haven't seen in awhile now even though we have passed by her house several times, so we were forced to drop her as an investigator. Maybe she will accept missionaries at a future time.

We did have 1 investigator in church this week. We also gave talks in Sacrament Meeting, so she didn't have to bear through not being able to hear the ward members giving talks, because being missionaries we make sure everyone can hear! So that was good. We also had 50 people in church!!! The highest assistance....ATTENDANCE (sorry, Spanish getting to my head).... I have seen since being here! So that was really good to see. We also had more than 3 kids in Primary! 12 actually!! And they sung/screamed their little brains out. It was pretty legit. Haha!! So hopefully they keep coming and we can have a little fun trying to teach them some more primary songs.

Are you guys still trying to find a new place to live? How is that going?
Nah, we have become lovers of our humble barn house!

We went to Tikal again today! That was pretty fun. We tried to explore a little more and take some different pictures, so it was just a dandy ol time! I will try and send some pictures about that later because this computer doesn't like my camera right now. So hopefully next week. So maybe then you will be able to see the haircut that I got! Dun dun DUN!!! Hahaha!! It looks pretty good! Better than I thought anyways. Elder Toolson cut it for me too! So it was FREE! Nothing beats free!! I will just let you think about that and give you a little suspense for next week. I can't just give things away that easily ;)

Oh, for another Christmas item, if it isn't too late. Sorry. I would just really like a little booklet called The Pocket Reference Book for Missionaries, Parents, & Instructors. The 3rd edition would be preferable. Hopefully it's not too hard to find. It's probably at Deseret Book. It has really good scripture references for questions that a lot of people have, so that would really help a lot. It also has explanations and beliefs of other religions....So I would really like that....if you can....don't want to be a burden...

Way to be in finishing the Book of Mormon again Mom! So far out here I have read the Book of Mormon twice, the D&C once, Pearl of Great Price once, the New testament once, and now I am in Psalms in the Old Testament. But I do get 1 hour of study every single day, plus time at lunch, plus time before I go to bed. That's a lot of study time. After I finish the Old Testament, I am going to continue reading Jesus the Christ, until I get those Manuals...then I will study D&C and the Book of Mormon again. Then I will move to reading it in Spanish!

So that's pretty much my life as a missionary this past week, nothing much else has really happened!! But I love you all so much and I hope you have a good week. Tell Jake good luck for me, or if you get this after the tourney, tell him Job Well Done! Until next week....
Stay Strong.
Keep the Faith.
Elder Jordan Smith

PS Ma yookat chi kisik?
Pronunciation: Mah tyokaht chee keeseek?
Translation: Look it up...haha. Yes it is Kekchi.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We have 2 seasons. Hot and Blazing Hot!

8 Months yesterday, so crazy! It also happened on a Millennial Day, 10.10.10. Which is also exactly 12 years since I was baptized! Now that’s pretty crazy cool! It feels good being out here for 8 months. To me, it’s gone by really fast and the 2nd year is supposed to go by even faster! So I guess we will see how I feel when that happens!

I actually really want to go to Polochik and learn Kekchi. I am going to ask President about it in my interview that we all have in a couple weeks. It’s completely a language of its own, it’s crazy! But I really want to learn it. Elder Fadel is practically fluent in Kekchi, so I've heard down the grapeline. (I think he meant grapevine). I really want to learn, so hopefully I get to go.

How did your first time teaching the whole Primary go? Primary… well lets just say we have a really big primary. It is a whole 3 kids big. We also have to teach them one to two entire songs every week because they were supposed to learn them throughout the year. So.....yeah. I don’t think they are going to learn many of the songs. But being optimistic, they might learn 2 haha. So we will see what happens.

Ah finally the Cougs do something! Yeah, next week will be a rough one. I heard Utah is undefeated again so far. Hope you aren’t getting to much crap from those classless utes hahaha.

Yeah I know Elder DeGraw. He is up here in Peten right now and just opened a new area. He is pretty tight! That’s really random that you happened to go to his stake building for priesthood meeting. (Brendan and Jake went to a church building in Mt. Pleasant to watch the priesthood session of conference since we were all together with Brendan' side of the family at Jason's cabin for the weekend and saw Elder DeGraw's missionary plaque on the wall.)

Keeping $100 in my debit account is good enough. I have been trying to budget my savings money out. I will try to not spend too much more, but up here in Peten there is some sweet stuff! But I am trying to stop. After the stuff I bought today, I probably won’t buy too much more so I should be ok for the rest of the time I've got here.

Alrighty then...
First off, about Wendy. We taught her about the Book of Mormon this last week and she didn’t really have very many questions and didn’t seem as interested as usual. I don’t know what happened. And then we had another appt. with her yesterday and she wasn’t there. Hopefully she will continue to listen to us and stay interested. We will keep following up with her and figure out what happened....Kinda sad though.

However we did find some new investigators that seem to be pretty cool! So we are going to continue to work really hard with them and hopefully they will be able to understand the importance of the message that we bring. That is the biggest problem I would say out here. The people are amazing, but they are stuck in their traditions and just don’t understand how truthful and important our message is because of that. But we worked hard and had great success this week and are finding more people who are willing to listen to us. So we will see what happens with these new families we have found.

I also got your Halloween package already. I didn’t know what it was so I definitely opened it! Thank you so much!!!

I ate some interesting food this week as well. I don’t know if you have ever had Papaya, the fruit, but it really isn’t tasty at all. I had to eat that, but it was like, cooked. So its weird flavor and texture was funkier. Not too tasty. Ha but you gotta love those random days when you eat weird Guat food!! These members also made us this fish soup. It was actually pretty good, but the weird thing was that the whole entire fish was in there. They practically gutted the fish, then cooked it, then threw it in a bowl with some soup. Nicole would have definitely not enjoyed it. Haha!! The fish’s head, tail, fins, and skin....everything was in it. Quite interesting.

Another crazy event from this week was when we were taking our usual ride back to our area after being in San Benito for a big Zone Wide District meeting. We were riding along in the back of a truck when all of a sudden the driver slammed on his brakes and we hit 2 bumps. We thought it was just some random speed bump like there are everywhere. But instead, we nailed a guat dog! It was pretty intense! (Something tells me that he wasn't too sad about this)

The flooding here has gotten pretty bad. A big part of area is completely submerged. We lost like 3 investigators! No they didn’t die, they just moved to a different place. Who knows where they all went though. Sad day! The river is really high, but it seems to be going down ever so slowly. The heat has also calmed down a lot. It’s cooling down quite a bit. Well, not too much, it’s still really hot and humid but not even near what it was last change. That is pretty nice. It is still super hot, but it’s not super super hot anymore. So we aren’t sweating quite as much. It’s supposed to be winter now up here because I guess there are really only 2 seasons. Hot and Blazing Hot! Haha!!! But its makes the work a lot easier and it doesn’t make us tired as fast anymore, so that’s really nice.

Well I'm out of time. I love you guys so much! Have a great week.
Stay Strong.
Keep the Faith.
Elder Jordan Smith

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October General Conference

By Leslie Smith: One of these days (in about 16 months) I will get to experience the utter joy and contentment that my friend Shelley now has after seeing her missionary son and giving him a hug after two long years. She and her husband traveled down to Guatemala to pick up Elder Winn at the end of September when he finished his mission. He and Jordan met when they were both in the city and Elder Winn was his zone leader. As their service together continued, his mom and I shared many stories and feelings back and forth. We finally got to meet in August for the first time. It was wonderful beyond words to give her a hug in person!
As luck would have it, both Elder Winn and Smith were transferred to Peten and continued to be in the same zone together. This area was one of Elder Winn's most favorite and he made sure it was a place that he re visited with his parents when he finished his mission. They happened to go to Peten during General Conference weekend when all the missionaries gathered at the Stake Center in San Benito to watch Conference. The American elders sat in a little room together to watch it in English...And Shelley got to sit with them. L-U-C-K-Y!!

As a missionary mom, she knows exactly what a picture means to a family who loves and misses their missionary so much! She captured many fun moments of their day to share with all of us and also took a couple packages for him from home.

Quick note from Shelley Winn (pictured with her son Jack Winn and my son Jordan Smith), "Jordan was even more handsome in real life if that is possible. He has a million dollar smile and is the guy all the other elders hover around. He is just as I imagined him and it was so special to finally be able to meet him. He seems so happy Leslie! You should be so proud of him!! Of course I know you already are. ;) I wondered if he got sick of me taking so many pictures though. lol He didn't wait long to dig into his packages and enjoyed his milk duds during conference. I told him that I was going to take a picture of him opening it before he got home and he just laughed. Peten is beautiful and the people are very sweet. I know he is in a good place."
His packages had instructions not to open until he got to his house, but he NEVER listens to his mom and opened them both right away!
The picture above is of Jordan reading a couple of wedding announcements of female friends from high school.

Elders Smith, Thacker, and Toolson

Passing around a few conference treats!
One last photo of Elders Winn and Smith!

THANK YOU SHELLEY! WELL DONE ELDER WINN! May your reunion as a family be everything you dreamed of.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

We need to use our agency for the better

Hello everyone!!!
Alright!!! A lot of changes....McPhee went to the Capital and Drach went to Coban. So Sayaxché 2 got white washed (that means that two new missionaries are there that don't know the area). Elder Toolson is still my comp. and he is also the new district leader now!!! Crazy and cool huh! Our whole district is super young! There are 3 elders that came out with Toolson: him, Godfrey and Portillo (all have 9 months). Then there is Me (almost 8 months). Then there is elder Castro and his comp Elder Tanner and also Elder Matus, (6 months) and then there is Elder Thacker (5 months). Our district is really fun too. So I'm pretty excited about that.

It will be really good to hear from Bronson. I don’t even know where he is at!
Who asked Jake to Sadie’s?
Wow that just sucks a lot about BYU. The defense hasn’t been good in long time. I'm glad they are getting a new defensive coordinator. Are there any good coaches so far that have been offered....or in better terms, who are coming to Provo to help out our D? Yeah, Lehi football is screwed, until they get a new coach. Oh so what’s up with the Pac-12? I have heard a lot about it, but what’s actually going on over there?

I’m not sure what we can do to continue teaching and going to Familia Caac. No one in the branch speaks Kekchi....there are probably members that do, I guess but they are inactive and we have no idea where they live.

The follow up with Wendy went great! Her mom was just kind of in and out the whole time because she was busy, but Wendy was super pilas (awesome). We taught her the end part of the Plan of Salvation and she had questions that even I haven’t ever asked. They were really, really good. A couple were, “How many worlds are out there” and “Are there people like us on them?” “What does God look like?” “How far away is heaven and how big is it?” “How can the earth fit so many people on it if everyone is going to resurrect?” And more! It was really neat to have someone so into our teaching and so eager to learn more about the things of God. It was kind of hard to answer these questions because a few of them are still mysteries that God has not revealed to us in this time, and probably won’t while we are here on this earth. But we explained to her the importance of having faith and relying on the things we do know and following those counsels and answers, and not hanging on those doubts and questions she has. She was really understanding about that and said it was a little bit frustrating but could understand the purpose of not having the knowledge of ALL things. The importance is that we have the knowledge we need in this life to make it back to live with our Father in Heaven, and the power of the Priesthood to be able to perform those sacred ordinances that that knowledge pertains to. So that was really neat teaching her....
We really don’t have any other investigators sadly....

Elder Toolson said, "After the hurricane the river rose a TON! It's gotten a little worse and we were almost not able to cross the river to get to general conference. The river is about 2 feet from the street and if it goes over (which it will because October is the rainy season) we will not be able to cross the river. Which is really scary because we have zone conference in 2 weeks."

I really loved General Conference. I didn’t see Harry in the MTC choir, but I definitely saw Tanner Boyack like 3 times. That was pretty sweet. And I’m pretty sure I saw Jacob in the audience in the Sunday afternoon session. You should ask him about that. It was really interesting how so many talks were about faith and following the prophet. I wonder if that is a heads up for some new revelation. I really wonder if something big is going to happen soon....What do you think? That is just my opinion. Who knows right? But yeah, the talks were great!!! I really liked President Monson's talk, I think it was in Priesthood, I can’t remember, but it was really good and had guidance about staying on the straight and narrow and not straying even a tiny little inch. It was really good.

I really like Boyd K Packers talk too. I really liked all those voting analogies, especially the first one about the kids voting on the gender of the teacher’s cat. And also how it's like saying we could change the fact that the sun came up today by voting on it but it doesn't change the fact that it’s wrong. He said what the people need to hear. Hopefully they will understand the importance of his teachings in that talk.

Everything that President Uchtdorf said about Pride is true. I have seen it here over and over again. That people are too prideful to pray to be able to receive an answer, or they are too prideful to change their beliefs even if God said so. A little while back we were teaching this lady about baptism and tried to ask her to be baptized. Of course she said that she had already been baptized. So we started talking about the importance of authority and asked her who performed her baptism...her pastor. And we also asked her where he got the power to baptize. She said that he got it from praying and fasting a lot. We tried to explain that that’s not how it works. And we challenged her to pray to find out if our church was the only church that had the proper authority for that so important saving ordinance. She said she didn’t have to do that because she already knows that the priesthood was given to everyone on the earth after the death of Christ, and that even if God said it to her personally she would not change that belief! It’s tough to be able to teach people as prideful as that. Pride really destroys any spiritual progress. Pride does not allow the Spirit to touch your heart about the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pride is thinking that you are better than someone else – or even worse – better than God. It is also a really horrible sin for members of our church. With pride we separate ourselves from God by allowing that natural man to creep in. I have realized in myself lately that I have a lot of pride in me. And that I need to work on that A LOT! Hopefully I can become more humble, and I also hope that I might be able to find humble people to teach, who are willing to do things we ask them to like simply pray. That is the key in progress. We can teach people for their whole entire lives, but if they never do anything with that teaching, nothing will ever happen. ¨Faith without works is dead.¨ We need to use our agency for the better and try to leave behind pride and improve the lives of ourselves and those around us.

And yes I was able to watch Conference in English. I also saw Winn and his parents there. That was fun. Thanks for the packages!! I can’t wait to try out those micro fiber towels!

I’m doing pretty well! I have a little cold right now, but its not too bad. Nothing I can’t handle really. Socks are good, only one pair of my shoes are getting worn out, but they are still working just fine. And I still have 2 other pairs.

That’s pretty much all the big news from this last week! I love you all!! Have a great week!
Stay Strong
Keep the Faith
Elder Jordan Smith

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

by: Leslie Smith (Mom)
Many of the readers of Elder Smith's blog are parents of LDS missionaries or close friends and family from an LDS background. But I often wonder how many of you are not. How many of you wonder why we as parents would send our son to a third world country to live amongst the people living in the harshest and most humble of conditions? Why would a 19 year old young man put off his college education, his social life with friends, leave behind his girlfriend, and all the comforts of home to serve a mission for his church?

It's a little hard to explain because so much of it has to do with faith. And faith is a belief or knowledge in something yet unseen. It's hard to put into words. Yet faith is also strengthened by experiences and feelings that are undeniable and become a testimony. Around 50 years ago, two young missionaries knocked on the doors of my grandparent's home in Sao Paulo Brazil and two others found my young, newly widowed grandmother in Guatemala City with her 3 young children. Their message changed the eternal course of my family forever. My parents both joined the church as teenagers, both moved to the United States, met in California, and started an eternal family which I was blessed to join a few years later. I'm so thankful for them and all they have done and continue to do for me!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a way of life for me and my family. It always has been. The gospel is the cornerstone of our daily life and it is what gives us strength, hope, happiness, and purpose in this life. How thankful I am to know that we have a living prophet today who receives direct counsel from our Heavenly Father to guide and direct us. How thankful I am to live in a day where I can learn and study and be blessed by the truths and teachings found in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. How thankful I am to be blessed with the priesthood of God presiding in our home to bless and strengthen us. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that He is our Savior and our Redeemer. I believe that all of the keys and authority to lead His church were restored through our prophet Joseph Smith. I believe that through Christ's Atonement we can be saved and live with our families forever if we serve Him and obey His commandments and serve our fellowmen. And how thankful I am to be able to personally witness the blessings and miracles that come to a missionary and his family because of dedicated service and sacrifice.

Sometimes it's hard to have Jordan gone. Some days we REALLY miss him so much that it hurts. Most of the time each of us feels that our home is empty and boring without him. I often catch my kids telling their friends about their brother's stories. Not a day goes by that Brendan and I don't talk about and worry about our son.

But we didn't send our son to Guatemala. The Lord did. He has a purpose for Jordan that only he can fulfill. I strongly believe that. Each missionary has a unique personality and set of strengths and weaknesses that help him/her connect with certain people. We feel so blessed that our son has made this decision in his life to dedicate two precious years to our Heavenly Father and be an instrument in His hands. Sometimes his message isn't received because so many people are just trying to get by and feed their families and live day to day that they can't worry or think about one more thing. But there are those who are searching. Those that feel that something is missing. There are those that know there must be more to this life than just merely surviving. That is why Jordan is out there. To find them and to help them and to teach them. And if this happens to be you, may I suggest that you pray to find out for yourself and ask if these things are not true.