Monday, June 27, 2011

From Borrowed Suit to Wearing White!

The Best 2 Years!
Dear Family,
Holy Cow this week was really crazy. So much happened and I'm not going to have time to write you everything in detail, but let me just tell ya that it was CRAZY!!! 
So Monday we had an awesome P day activity and finally I get to see the parts of Costa Rica that I have wanted to see for my whole mission. So after the activity Elder Cope and I were supposed to go back to our area, but we missed the bus so we spent the night with the Zone Leaders in Ciudad Neily. The only problem was that I had no mission clothes and the next morning really early we had a conference with Pres. Galvez. So Elder Sirrine  let me borrow some of his clothes, which by the way were really tight on me cause he is super skinny (see attached photo and you'll know what I'm talkin' about). So the conference with President Galvez was super good and we watched a talk given by Elder Holland in the MTC this past Jan. I had already seen the talk twice, but in Spanish and this time we watched it in English. Maybe next week if I have time I will write some of the things I liked about the talk, just know that it was super good. One of the things we talked about in the conference was doing everything possible so that our investigators can be baptized. 
Well the ZLs have a family they are teaching, Luis and Maria. They are super awesome and were going to get baptized on the 18, but Luis had to go to this one place called Carate to work. Its a place by Puerto Jimenez which is like 4 hours away from Neily. They still wanted to get baptized so we decided that we were going to do everything possible so that they could get married and baptized. We planned that elder Rosales, one of the ZLs and I would go to Carate, do the baptismal interview with him, then have the APs drive down and bring his wife and a lawyer, so that they could get married and baptized right there on the beach. So I went on a 2 day adventure with Elder Rosales to Puerto Jimenez and just remember that I had basically nothing, just that clothes that Elder Sirrine lent me, a Book of Mormon, and toothbrush that I bought and this really awesome book that Im reading called Life Everlasting, check it out, cause now I have a whole new perspective about life after death. 
So anyway we took a 4 hour bus ride to Puerto Jimenez and spent the night in the church which is just a small house, but they had beds so we didn’t have to sleep on the floor. The next day, Wednesday, we had to wake up at 4:30 in order to be able to go to Carate. The only ways to get there are by driving yourself or going in the back of a truck that has two rows of benches in the back to sit on. So we took a bumpy two hour truck ride to go to Carate and something that I forgot to mention is that Elder Rosales was really sick with a flu. So we got to Carate and spent all day looking for him. We had been told that he was working as a security guard for a hotel and in Carate there is only the beach, one small store and hotels. I think that the population of people who actually live there is less than 50 and they all live in these tent style houses called rancheros. Some funny things happened while we were looking for him, but I don’t have time today to tell them all, but one funny thing is that everyone thought we were from the FBI and they were all scared. Well we only had until 4 in the afternoon to look for him cause that is when the truck left to go to Puerto Jimenez. Also what made everything difficult is that the phone reception is really bad out in that part of the country so we couldn’t get a hold of Luis. 
We went all the way back to Puerto Jimenez and we were a little disanimated, but the Lord blessed us for our work. The next day, the Branch President of Puerto Jimenez met with us and told us about a young man whose dad is a member and was listening to the missionaries, but when the missionaries were taken out of Jimenez he stopped going to church, but that in the last month he had been coming and wanted to get baptized. So we went over to his house, oh his name is Michael, and he told us that he wanted to get baptized. I did the interview and he was baptized this past Friday. So even though we didn’t get Luis and Maria baptized, we did baptize Michael, who is 20 years old so he also can get the Priesthood. Luis was eventually found and they are getting baptized in the next two weeks or soon thereafter. 
After our 2 day adventure in Puerto Jimenez, I helped the Sister Missionaries a little bit for a couple days so I was out of my area Monday until Saturday morning. And for those 5 days I wore the same clothes and so I smelled kinda bad, but that’s how the mission is (brings back memories of scout camp!). It was a fun experience and I wrote like 5 pages in my journal so when I get home you can read about it in detail.
To answer some of your questions dad, the computer in the church is fully equiped with everything necessary, even with the new Microsoft 7. The branch presidency consists of my companion and me. Thank you for sending me my setting apart. I have listened to it and enjoy it. In our branch there are about 16 active people, two families and a couple of single people. There are about 4 young men and women and a few kids in the primary. Also the computer has MLS and I´ve basically learned how to use it. Thank you for the talk outlines and if you want you can send more, cause I will basically be speaking every week. Also please send the recorder because it would be fun to record some of my talks. I think and hope that I answered all of your questions  . . .  it just that I’m trying to do a bunch of stuff right now.
Julia thanks for the pictures of your trip . . .  I enjoyed them. Inbioparque was in my first area and so you saw were I walked in the first months of my mission. I’m glad to hear that everything is going well and I hope you are all having a wonderful summer. I love you all!!!! 
Love Elder Smith

Monday, June 20, 2011

P-day at the Beach

Me and Elder Sirrine -- I like this photo!
Dear Family,
There is so much that I want to write you, but I have such little time. Thank you all for your letters I will print them off and read them tonight. So today was the funnest p-day activity that I have had in the mission. We went to the beach and it was AWESOME!!! I am uploading pics right now!!!! 
The work in the branch is going well. We are working with a bunch of less active members to try and get them reactivated again. We had an activity on Saturday for Fathers Day and suprisingly a bunch of people showed so that was nice. Also we are trying to find new families to teach every day and this week we found a couple of new families so we will see how they progress. 
I am pretty sure that Sundays are going to be the busiest days for the next little while, because I am basically in charge of everything. Yesterday I gave a talk in church, about Faith in Christ. I taught the Sunday School class to the youth and I also taught Priesthood. So I was pretty busy all during church. Oh and we had an attendance of 16 which is an improvment from last week! 
I am sorry that I don't have more time to write--it's just that we missed the last bus that goes to our area and so we are stuck here in Ciudad Neily with the ZLs and we have to sleep in their house tonight and borrow some of their clothes because tomorrow we have a meeting with President Galvez. So at least you can look at the pictures that I put up. Oh and the C. Funds were used to help an investigator that we have named Geraldo. He needed 40 bucks to take out and send some documents to a lawyer in San Jose. He had an accident in his work and the insurance company won't pay him. But he is going to pay me back within 3 weeks and he is also going to read the Book of Mormon and come to church. That was part of our deal.
Well I love you all and btw HAPPY FATHERS DAY YESTERDAY! Too bad I couldn't be there to enjoy the nice food you all had but hey, we roasted hot dogs today!!!  Love Elder Smith

Monday, June 13, 2011

My tag . . . worn with pride!
Dear Family & Friends,
Well, I’m glad to hear that you are all doing fine! I hope Julia had a fun time in Costa Rica, I really was planning on trying to see her but I couldn’t with transfers—oh well. It sounds like Nick is doing good in the MTC. I can’t wait to get a FREE Subway sandwich from Spencer when I get home. Landon, I hope you and Dad have fun at Camp Tracy and Pirates 4 is one of the first movies that I will watch the night I get home! Dad . . . thanks for all the information that you sent me. The church building is a really big house and yes, it has everything like a computer, printer, MLS and all the forms and everything. I also have both the instructional manuals for bishops and stake presidents.
Being Branch President has been pretty easy so far (it's now been 5 days ha ha). I haven’t had to do too much yet. Yesterday, it was Sunday and we went to a Priesthood Conference. A man in our branch got the Melchizedek Priesthood and I had to give a talk in church, but that was about it. So the branch has an attendance of about 15 members. Our number one goal is to get attendance up to at least 30 members. The branch is actually very old and there are a lot of less active members. From what I have heard there were a few missionaries and leaders in the past who did some things and for that, the progress of the branch was stopped and last year they were even thinking about closing the area. So we have a ton of work to do.
As far as investigators go, we are teaching a man named Jimmy. He has a baptismal date for the 25 of June and he came to church yesterday. We are also teaching a lady named Maritza and her 5 daughters. There is a recent convert named Orlando and he is Maritza’s brother, and we are also teaching another one of their sisters named Gerardina.
Basically we will be working to reactivate the less active members, find, teach, convert and baptize more investigators, keep the active members involved with activities and stuff like that, etc. The youth have a temple trip next week. Also, I am in charge of 4 sister missionaries and the ZLs are in my district. BTW Elder Sirrine is in my district and he is one of the ZLs, so basically we have been the same zone for like our whole missions and finally we get to go on divisions and do fun stuff together on P-days.
Well, I love you all. I have almost started my 20 week countdown (ha ha) and my D&C reading countdown (You start at section 138 and read a section every day until I get to section 1 and then I will be home!!!!) I really don’t care what you send in my package, but make sure there are a bunch of family pictures.
Love Elder Smith
Ps. I did pull out some money because I had to do some cleaning in our house and there was no food!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Branch Presidento

Saying Good-bye in Pococi
Dear Family,
Hey sorry I didn't write you yesterday, but I had to take a 6 hour bus ride and I didn't get home until 10:30 p.m. So I had changes and my new area is San Vito, which is in the Zona Sur right next to Panama. So any chances of seeing Julia in the next week are gone because I am super far away . . . so she will just have to wait 5 and a half months just like the rest of you to see me. Well my new companion is named Elder Cope and guess what? He is from Spanish Fork Utah. Yay!!!!! I have a Gringo Companion again which is the best. He has 5 months in the mission, the time that I lack haha! but his Spanish is really good. Well I am also district leader and there are 4 sisters in my district. This is the first time that I will be in charge of sister missionaries so it will be very interesting. 
Also the most suprising and overwhelming change is that San Vito is a rama (branch) and there is no branch president so guess who is the branch president.....ME!!!!!!!! I have no idea how to be a branch president and so it is going to be a very interesting learning expirience. So basically this is going to be the busiest last few months of my mission and President Galvez knows me better than I thought he did cause without this responsibility, I would probably get lazy and trunky!!
I am going to miss Pococi a ton!!! I love the people there and I made some amazing friends so I will definitely be visiting there!
This is going to be a short letter cause there are a bunch of things that I need to do right now, but I love you all and I can't wait to see you in November. I am uploading some pics right now! Love Elder Smith