Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Transferred to Zona Los Yoses

This is the farthest distance from the mission home in San Jose a missionary can get!
Dear family,
Hey so I don’t have much time to write today. So I had changes and it was a little sad to leave San Vito, because I liked it a lot and I am going to miss the people. Also, it was a freaking awesome zone and I am going to miss working with the missionaries down in the Zona Sur. So now I am in my new and hopefully last area Tirrases. Its like 15 minutes from San Jose center (too bad I wasn’t here when Julia came). So I am in the Zona Los Yoses and I am district leader again. Actually the APs and the secretaries are in my district so it should be interesting to work with them. Oh and as you can see from the subject line Elder Sangster has to buy me a cheescake now, because he just went AP!!
Like a year ago when he was my zone leader we made a bet that if he went AP that he would have to buy me a cheesecake and if he didn’t then I would have to buy him one. 
My new companion is Elder Pastrana. He is from Honduras and had about a year in the mission. He could be the missionary that I end the mission with, which is weird to think about. Oh and the cool thing is that now that I am so close to the center I can buy souvenirs for everyone. So tell me what you want I can get it. I hope I don’t have changes again because I don’t want to have to pack and move again—my suitcases are near the breaking point, well at least the wheels are near the breaking point. 
Also I am going from one extreme to another. San Vito is one of the lowest branch attendance-wise and stuff like that and now the ward I am in right now one of the biggest in Costa Rica. Also there are tons of members and so it will be nice to be able to work with them again. 
Well I love you all and I can’t wait to see ya in 12 weeks. How short is that!!!!!! Oh and I don’t know if you guys remember my companion, Elder Vallejo, well he finished the mission today! Love Elder Smith

Monday, August 22, 2011

Time in the Mission

Missionary Board

Dear Family, By the time half of you read this letter you will be getting home from school and doing homework. It’s crazy to think that both Spencer and Julia are in High School. Wow. Also Landon is almost in Junior High. Oh and thanks for the picture of the steak because I haven’t seen a steak like that for 21 months. So I officially have time in the mission and to celebrate I bought hamburger supplies and pigged out on like 5 hamburgers. It was really good! So not too much happened this week. Yesterday in church we had an attendance of 21, which is really good. There is one family where both the parents work in a Panaderia and they have to work everyday including Sunday. But every few months they get a Sunday off and so yesterday they came to church with their kids which was nice. I don’t know if I told you, but we only have church for 2 hours, Sacrament Meeting and then Sunday School. Also this week we have interviews with President Galvez and so I’m going to talk to him about what’s going on in the branch. Also next week there are changes and I think that I am going to have changes and I’m kind of hoping that I have changes because I really don’t want to finish the mission here in San Vito but again, am willing to go or stay where I am needed. So today I don’t have much time to write, but I love you all and I appreciate all that you do for me and for all the prayers that are offered in mine and Nick and all the missionaries behalf. Have a fun first week of school, I actually thought school started Wednesday, but I guess it doesn’t. Love Elder Abnthony Smith

Monday, August 15, 2011

Branch Status

With Elder Malan
Dear family,
Hey family hows it goin? Well from your letter mom it sounds like you had a very hectic week, but it sounds like every thing turned out good for the activity. One of the things I love about the mission is that I have learned to plan a lot better and actually in the last capacitacion with President he talked a lot about planning, because there are a lot of missionaries who haven't learned to plan yet and he taught us that every plan needs to answer 4 question, who? what? when? and how? 
Well I had a very good week. On Tuesday Elder Malan came to my area and we did divisions. It's funny because Elder Malan is now my zone leader and I am branch president and in Gualipes it was the opposite, I was the zone leader and he was group president so that's kinda funny. Well while we were walking around looking for people to contact a Joven from the branch came up to us and said there was a gringo looking for us who used to be a missionary here. So for the rest of the night we were wondering who it could be, but around like 9:30 while we were talking, the doorbell rang and it was Elder Tisdale, oh wait I mean Dan Tisdale. I don't think that I have ever talked about him, but he finished the mission like 5 months ago. He came to Costa Rica with his family for a week and then they left and he has been by himself for a week just visiting old areas and converts. It was super cool and he spent the night with us, so basically we were up until 1:00 a.m. just talking about everything so that was cool. 
Okay to answer the questions that Dad gives me I think I need to expain better the situation that we are in here in San Vito, because I don't think that I have explained it very well. Basically the branch down here is dying. So like 6 years ago there were tons of faithfull members and there were leaders and everything was going well and there were even plans to build a chapel. Then through a chain of events that involve missionaries and members making idiotic decisions and doing stupid stuff and with a whole lot of gossip, basically everything fell apart. For the past 3-4 years, missionaries have been the branch presidency because the two priesthood holders that are active refuse to take the calling or they can't because of worthiness issues. In the attached list of members, there are like 97 and there are only 9 who come to church every week, and then 10 who come at least once a month. The rest of the members either are not willing to forgive and forget what happened in the past or are just too lazy to come to church or don't want anything to do with the church or us as missionaries . . . so yes, it's super hard down here. 
For the past couple of weeks I have been working on a project for President Galvez and I actually finished it last week. We took the list of members and looked for everything one so that we could find out what their status is and to clean up the list because there are a ton of people who have moved away. Plus for a bunch of the members, we don't have very good address which made it difficult to contact them. Basically what we learned is that we have the possibility of raising the attendence from 15 to 40 if we work hard with the less active members who will accept us in there homes, but its super hard with people not being able to forget the past and being lazy. Right now we don't have branch presidency meeting because I'm the branch president and my companion is the first counselor... so actually we have branch presidency meeting every day at 9 for companion study.. haha! The few members with callings are: 1) one sister teaches the sunday school class for the youth, which is only 4 usually. 2) There is the young womens leader, there are only 2 young women. 3) And there is the Relief Society leader and there only three women. 4) The only Executive Secretary that I have is MLS, which does all that stuff for me, but President Galvez talked to me and said they are going to take the computer our of our building, because apparantly in places were the church is held in regular houses (and not official church buildings) we can't have a computer. This is going to make doing tithing and offerings more challenging. The bad news is that if things don't start to pick up here, they are going to close the branch so thats why President had me do that form about the members to see what members we have and who we can work with.
Well I hope you all have an awesome week I know that I am cause I'm going on divisions with Elder Sirrine to do a baptismal interview. Oh and I hit 21 months in the mission YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm pretty excited if you can't tell. Oh and thanks for that countdown clock. FYI - I was looking at my blog and you put up a picture of a flower with the caption, "A pretty flower". Actually it is a very powerful hallucinogenic plant that people use when they go to clubs and stuff like that. OOPS! Well I love you all and enjoy your last full week of summer HAHAHAHA!!!! Elder Smith

Monday, August 8, 2011

Almost 100 Days Left

Elder Smith enjoying life!
Dear Family and Friends,

It's so good to hear that everyone is fine and enjoying their summer vacation. I am super super tired right now so this letter could be a little short because I'm about to fall asleep. So today we had a zone activity and we went to this really cool waterfall in Ciudad Neily. It was super hot and by the time we got there, I wanted to go swimming so bad just to cool off. Haha funny story, so Elder Sirrines companion, Elder Alfaro fell off a tiny cliff and into the water as we were climbing up the waterfall. Haha it was funny and now he can say that he went swimming. 
So this week was super awesome for many reasons. First I was on divisions with Elder Sirrine for 3 days and we went to San Jose for a Zone Council/ Leadership meeting. I have been going to these meetings for over a year now and it was very good and I did learn some really cool new things. Also on Wednesday after the conference ended, all of the elders that had to travel long distances were sent to others areas to work. I went with Elder Cerato to Garabito. We went to once Barrio called La Leon 13, which is the most dangerous part of Costa Rica and I got assaulted. Ya it was pretty scary and I....... haha just kidding I didn't get assaulted and nothing happened. We just knocked doors and I spent the night talking to two other elders who live in the same house so it was really fun!!! So ya it was a pretty fun week and once again I got to do divisions with  Elder Sirrine. Oh so with BYU, I want to go with one of my friends, Elder Montierth and room with him. He doesn't finish the mission until March and is going to start in the summer semester. So I was thinknig that I could work until then and maybe take some night classes or something. So I hope you all have a really good week and please stay safe for me. Nick have fun completing 3 months in the mission and I will have fun beginning my 100 day countdown! Love, Elder Anthony Smith