Monday, March 29, 2010

First Baptism!

My second Companion, Elder Benitez (from El Salvador), the Perez family, and Me!
Before Baptismal Service: 10 yr old Maria Perez, with her family and Elder Smith
Hello Everyone

So I had a baptism on Saturday. It was fetching awesome. It was the baptism of Maria Daniela Madrigal Perez. She is a 10 year old member of the church. Her parents have been members for 10 years and she got baptized when she was 8 but her membership records got lost somehow so we had to redo the baptism. It was still way cool and it is the first baptism that I performed as a missionary. Hurray!!
This coming weekend is going to fetching rock. We don't have p-day today we just get to email because its Holy Week this week. So Friday is our p-day and we are having a zone activity. We are going to a country club and hanging out all day and playing sports and eating food. Hurray. On Saturday and Sunday, we get to go to our Stake Center in Alejula to watch all the sessions of General Conference. Its going to rock 'cause I can watch it in English. So basically I have a 4 day vacation this week and it's totally going to rock.
I got grandma and grandpas package this week cause we had zone conference. Thank you very much for the candy. Haha! The chocholate covered easter eggs and peanut butter M&Ms were my favorite. So for the rest of my letter I want to comment on your letters of last week. First Mom. honestly I dont know how much shirts and weights are gonna cost probably a bunch so if ya just wanna drop a big sum of money in there that would be great. Also, thank you for all the photos I put them on my MP3 player so I can look at them. Please upload a lot more inculding the ones that we took the day before I left.
*Nick - Glad to hear that you're a ladies man! I'd go for . . . cause she is way hot!!! Also glad to hear about soccer and jr. jazz--keep having fun. Have fun going to BYU.
*Spencer - Keep up the good work in lacrosse, just keep working on getting in shape and becoming a better player and by the time your a seinor you will be an All American. Also, I will be home by then. Are you guys going to any more tournoments?
*Julia - I LOVE A Walk To Remember (I remember crying at the end). I went on divisions with Elder Lee this week (It was an overnighter divisions at my house so that rocked) and we were talking about chick flicks and A Walk to Remember. Haha! We were singing that one song from the movie. Good job in soccer and church basketball. Thats cool that you took first place!!! Hopefully when you come to Costa Rica I will be able to be in a place that's close to where you are so I can vist you (shhhh don't tell anyone) Send me an itinerary.
*Landon - Your pinewood derby car looks way cool and I heard that it did really good. Keep having fun in school--you only got 2 months left till summer.
*Dad - Your family history booth looked way cool!
Well I love you all and hope you have an awesome week. Love Elder Smith

Monday, March 22, 2010

Four Month Mark

Hello Everyone, This week has gone by suprisingly fast. This week we had to drop a bunch of investigators cause they weren't progressing. It too bad because we get a ton of new investigators but they only stick around for maybe one or two lessons and then their done. So the hardest thing is making them commit. Öh well. Here's what I did this past week:
Monday we went to the mall and I realized that there are only 3 things that I really want to buy. Soccer Jerseys for the two teams here, Saprissa and Liga and dumbells so if you want to put money in my bank account I can buy those things. Other than that I don't really want to buy any soveniers. The only thing that I have been buying are ties. They got some cool ties in costa rica and they are super cheap like $2 a tie.
Tuesday we had district meeting. The Elders in my district are way cool. Also, every Tuesday we have lunch with the branch president, President Sanchez and his family. They are pretty cool.
Wednesday was St. Patricks day and Grandma Smiths Birthday and we spent most of the day working with less actives.
Thursday we knocked doors all day.
Friday we found an awesome family while knocking doors. Adrian and Cynthina. They are super humble, they don't attend any church and they really liked our lesson. We are going back this week for lesson 2 and hopefully they stick with us.
Saturday our district went to Santo Domingo to help the sister missionaries. I went with Elder Lee and we worked for a couple hours.
Sunday I went to church and after church we had an open house kind of a thing. Some familes were assigned to teach different parts of the plan of salvation but a couple families didn't show up so my comp and I had to teach. I taught about the spirit world and my comp did the rest. After that meeting, we ate dinner with a member family who are from Arizona. They are super cool!
Thanks for putting up the pictures everyone looks really good. I love you all and can't wait to see you in 20 months. Yes this past week I hit 4 months. Hurray!!!! Love Elder Smith

Monday, March 15, 2010

First week in San Rafeal

Hello Everyone! To start, I have a new email address. The Church updated the system and now the emails are run through Gmail. Also, that's way cool that Riley got his mission call and also the others from our stake. Keep telling me where people go. Haha, it's fun to see the dates when people leave because when they are about to start their mission, I will have been on the mission for 6, 7, or 8 months. So this week has been really long. This week I got a cold, had bed bugs and got lots of bites on my arms and legs, and I saw my first "Brown Bottle" Haha! (Don't google image that.)
So last Monday and Tuesday, not much happened that's worth writing about. Wednesday was a really good day. We had interviews with President Galvez. The zone met in a chapel for the interviews and training. The zone is pretty much the same as last change but there are a few new people. I have a new district leader, Elder Lee. He was a AP when I got here and is now my District leader and a trainer. He is way cool. Also Elder Sorensen is in my district. He played football for BYU and was in the same MTC district as Michael Evans who is in New York. He is way cool too. Also Elder King is still in my Zone. I don't know if I've mentioned him before but he is probably the funniest person I have ever met. I laugh at everything that comes out of his mouth. We also have Sister Missionaries in our zone now. No me gusta las hermanas. Haha lo siento mom.
Thursday was a good day too. We got a lot of refrences from the branch presidents wife and also had a lesson with one of the families we are teaching. The focus of the Costa Rica mission is baptizing familes so we contact every family that we see and right now we have about 4 familes that we are teaching. I will write more about them next week. Friday I didn't write in my journal 'cause I was shaving my arms and legs so I forgot what happened. Haha! Everyday is pretty much the same so if I don't write down what happened, then I forget.
Saturday was an awesome day. I went on divisions with Elder Lee in the morning so we could go to Santo Domingo and get keys for our chuch in San Rafael. Elder Lee and his comp. have a baptism and their church is being renovated so they had to use ours. It was nice to get a few hours to talk to a gringo. Then in the afternoon Elder Williams, who is one of our zone leaders and Elder Rojas, one of the APs came, to Santo Rafael to go on divisions with us and see how the area is doing. I went with Elder Willams who is from Nevada and we contacted people for a few hours. Then we went to the baptism of Natalia. It was way freaking awesome. She is about 23 years old and her boyfriend flew in from the States to do the baptism. Also he played an arrangement of "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" on the piano and it was way awesome. It was an awesome service!
Sunday I went to church and we visited some less active members. Today, Monday, I finally got to eat at Wendys. Its been a long 4 months and eating that Biggie Sized Baconator with fries, a ginger ale and a frosty was pretty much one of the most memorable moments of my life and also I realize why I was so fat! I Love you all, stay safe and send pictures of what you have been doing! Love Elder Smith!P.S. Nick, Spencer, Julia and Landon need to write me or I won't write home next week. Haha! Just Kidding!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Transferred to San Rafael

With Eveling Salazar and Javier Valverde -- Awesome Members of Santo Domingo!
Good-bye to Hermano Douglas -- The Coolest Ward Mission Leader in Santo Domingo!
Hello Everyone! This week has been a really good learning experience for me. This week I've started to learn that the next 20 months are going to be about "not what I want but what the Lord wants". There have been a lot of changes this week. This week I had to leave my first area Santo Domingo and go to San Rafael which is about 20 minutes away. When I first heard this I was sad and the first couple of days this week were really rough. I didn't want to leave because the members in Santo Domingo have been super awesome and I loved them a ton. Also I got a new companion--let's just say that I miss Elder Zavala. Elder Benitez is great but a lot more serious. Haha!
So about the new area, San Rafael is a pretty big city and half of it is in the mountains. Its super windy and it gets pretty cold at night which is good because I hate the heat. We live with a lady who rents out her upstairs bedroom and its really awesome cause I have a full sized bed and lots of pillows just like at home. San Rafael has had missionaries in the past but they keep getting pulled out. There haven't been full time missionaries here for about 2 years so the members here are super excited to have missionaries again. The members I've met so far are really awesome and one family is from America and have been living here for about 3 years. Luckily the members here are super chill and really funny.
Also there are a ton of less active members here in San Rafael. This is a big problem in Costa Rica and I think its because the Catholic traditions are so ingrained into the people from childhood that members have a hard time breaking away from their old traditions. A lot of the members get baptized for the wrong reasons and don't stay active in the church very long. This is part of the reason why I think there haven't been missionaries here for so long. We have spent the whole week knocking doors, which by the way is one of my least favorite things to do, and its hard to get into houses cause everyone responds with, "I'm Catholic" and when we tell them that we aren't here to take any of their beliefs from them, we just want to strengthen their faith and testimonies in Christ, they just respond again with "I'm Catholic." So it gets pretty frustrating sometimes. That being said we have had some success and we are going to spend this week working with the investigators we have.
So yeah, at the beginning of the week I was a wreck but now I'm doing a lot better thanks to the scriptures and the fact that my Spanish is getting better. I love you all and I hope you all have a good week! Love Elder Smith.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Favorites of Inbioparque (Petting Zoo) Adventure

Look--I caught an Iguana!


The goats really took to Elder Valverde

Elder Zavala -- Butterfly man!

Me with Billy Goat Gruff!

March 1: Farewell and Transfer

Elder Valverde -- trying to smuggle out some of my goods!
Farewell to Elder Zavala!

Hello Everyone!!
This past week has flown by so fast that if feels like I just wrote you a couple days ago! This has been an awesome week, but also a very sad week. It was my last week with Elder Zavala. He was an awesome companion, trainer and friend and I am going to miss him very much. That being said my new companion is Elder Benitez. He is from El Salvador and has 19 months in the mission. For the last 6 months he has been one of the secretaries for President Galvez. Also another sad thing that is going to happen this week is my area is getting spit into two. There is going to be Santo Domingo and San Rafeal. I have been transfered to San Rafeal. Its fetching sad cause I love Santo Domingo. The members here are super super super awesome and I have had a blast working with them especially the Ward Mission Leader Hermano Douglas. I'm going to miss him a ton!
This week we worked a ton with Elder Javier Valverde--He is a missionary who returned home early from health problems. He knows a lot of people here and so we had a lot of references.
How about you wait until next year to send me a calender. I have marked of everyday Ive been here for 3 and a half months. Which reminds me, yesterday I hit 100 days in the mission. Now only about 630 to go. Sorry this email isn't very long. I'll try to write more in the future. Also I am uploading more pictures on google web album for you to look at--I hope you all have an awesome week! I love you all! Love Elder Smith