Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Been the Best Two Years!

Dear Family and Friends,
Well its super crazy thinking that this is going to be the last time that I write to you all as a missionary. For me the past 2 years have past by faster than I could have ever imagined and honestly it feels like it was just a short time ago that you dropped me off at the sidewalk at the MTC. A lot has changed in that time, cause when you dropped me off at the curb I was a fat, loud, dumb kid. In the past two years has truly been a learning experience for me. I have learned so much of things that I do and don’t want to do with my life. I have learned a new language and hopefully I will be able to use that in my profession or something like that. Also I have gained a greater testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have studied and prayed about it in both Spanish and English and there is no doubt in my mind that it is true.
Being here in Costa Rica preaching the gospel every day for the past two years has truly been an eye opening experience too. I have come to love the people of this country so much especially the members of the church who work so hard to help the church grow and grow. I think the hardest thing to leave behind will be all the new friends I have made, members and missionaries. I want to thank all of the family members and friends who have supported and prayed for me in the past two years. Honestly I haven’t had too many trials here in the mission. I only got sick like twice and it was only lasted for like 4 days in total. I’ve never been assaulted or anything like that and I’ve only received minor verbal abuse/teasing. And I feel like I've had lots of success in inviting people to come unto Christ and receive his gospel. I credit my safety and my success to all of your support, prayers and faithfulness.
I am so grateful for this opportunity that I have had and I’m so grateful that I will be able to safety return home and begin my life all over again. I have missed you all so much and in the time I have been here my love for all of you and grown so much and I cant wait to see you all next week and be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family. Sorry Nick that you wont be there, but hey I had to go through it and so you will be able to do it and I’m super excited to be able to talk to you on Christmas day!!!! Love ya Bro!
So next week is the big week and like I have said in basically every letter I've ever written that I'm super excited to come home and I'm pretty trunky right now Haha!!! Well there is not too much more that I'm going to write, but to finalize the last letter that Elder Anthony Smith will write as a missionary, I'd like to share my testimony that I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church of Christ. I know that it was restored to the earth by a Prophet, Joseph Smith, who was called of God. I know that Thomas S. Monson is God´s prophet on the earth today and that through his words we hear the words and will of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it contains the fullness of the Gospel of Christ and that it was translated by Joseph Smith. By reading and applying its words in our lives we will obtain more happiness and peace in this life and Salvation in the next life. I know that Christ lives and that through His atoning sacrifice we can all repent of the mistakes that we make and receive forgiveness. And I know that through covenants that we make in Holy Temples that we can be together with our families for all eternity. (That would be the next covenant that I would like to make haha!) And once again I would just like to thank the Lord for this opportunity that he has given me to serve the Ticos of Costa Rica. It really has been the Best Two Years!!!!!
Elder Anthony Kent Kohkonen Smith

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Second to Last

My Former Name -- Ha Ha!

Dear Family,
Hey everyone, guess who will be home in 13 days!!!!!! Yah!!! Anyway I’m glad to hear that you are all doing well. Sorry I didn’t write you on Monday, but we have P-day today because we went to the temple. It’s crazy because next Wednesday I will be going to the temple with all the missionaries that leave with me and President Galvez so that will be fun. BTW the temple is right by the airport and so I saw a ton of planes taking off.
Okay so last week was super busy. Elder Stevens and Elder Cuellar who are in La Campiña were teaching this mom and her two daughters. So they had been teaching them for a few months, mostly the daughters, because the mom didn’t want to get married to her boyfriend, because he was treating her poorly, but he supported them financially. So like a month ago the Elders taught the law of chastity and the mom was there and heard the lesson. So it turns out that the next day she kicked her boyfriend out, who actually turned out to be a married guy who was just using her. So this is where I enter in . . . when I did divisions with Elder Stevens and we went to her home for an appointment, she explained to us that she had not been living right and felt awful. She said that the missionaries had brought peace into her house and that she wanted her daughters to be baptized. She told us that she was condemned, because of what she had done, but nothing would make her happier than to see her daughters baptized.
So we talked to her about the repentance process and that if she had the desire and the determination, she too could get baptized with her daughters. Then we went and bought them a bunch of food because she was in the process of finding a job. Well like a week or two later she had a falling out with a church member and didn’t want anything to do with the church but she would still give her daughters permission to get baptized. I’m kind of jumping all over the place . . . so two weeks ago I was on divisions with Elder Johnson and we went to do the interviews for the two daughters, who by the way are ages 18 and 10, and they passed the baptismal interview.
Just as we finished their interviews, the mother returned home. When she got there, I just felt super weird . . . I couldn’t even look at her. I just had this feeling like we had to get out of there like right then. So we said a quick prayer with them and left. Afterwards the other Elders told me that they had felt something really weird too. We told Elders Stevens and Cuellar that the next day they might want to bless the house and also give the mother a blessing because we were pretty certain that there was an evil spirit in that house. So the next night we get a call from Elder Stevens telling us that they had gone over to the house with a member of the bishopric and they blessed the house and I think they also gave a blessing to mother (don’t exactly remember right now because it was like 2 weeks ago). After they finished the blessings, they felt that the whole spirit of the home changed completely. Then the Elders left to go buy some more food for the family since the mom had still not found a job.
As they were coming back, the member of the bishopric told them that they should invite the mom to be baptized with her daughters that same Saturday. She had heard all the lessons and was reading the Book of Mormon. So they invited her to be baptized and when they did she just smiled and said she would love to. So the next day I had to go back to La Campíña to do the interview and I was pretty nervous, because the last time I was there that whole weird feeling had kinda scared me. As we were traveling there, I said a prayer and when we walked in their home, there was a definite change in the spirit. I did the baptismal interview with the mom and to make this long story just a little shorter she passed. We were pretty happy about that, but then on Saturday which was my birthday, I get a call in the morning from Elder Stevens telling me that he had just gotten a call from the mom and she said she couldn’t be baptized that day. Elder Stevens tried to ask her why but she said that she couldn’t say why until that night just before the baptism. So that night I talked again to Elder Stevens and apparently what had happened is that the day before, Friday, the mom had gone to some work agency so that they could help her find a job. As she was talking to a employee who was in charge, he made some inappropriate advances. Well she immediately got out of there and felt so bad afterwards. She told the missionaries that she felt like she couldn’t get baptized because she felt as if she had broken the law of chastity. When Elder Stevens told me this I felt happy. I knew that meant that she now understood the importance of that commandment because in the past she had a lot of problems with it. So she talked with the bishop and he helped her work things out and she got baptized that night with her two daughters. So yeah, that was pretty cool!
 Okay I know that I’m not going to be home for two more week and that I need to stay “focused,” but honestly I’m super excited to get home and I just want to tell you of some things I would like so that you have time to get everything prepared.  I would love to have a nice fresh batch of scotch-a-roos waiting in the refrigerator. Right now just remembering the fact that I haven’t had one in almost two years is trunking me out of my mind. Also if you would be so kind as to order a Pepperoni Pizza from Papa Murphy’s (if they don’t exist anymore I think I will ask President for an extension) waiting in the fridge so that I can cook it and eat it. I think those two things right there will make this whole two year mission thing worth it. Haha!
Also I will also be bringing home some of my favorite snacks from the mission unless they get taken away from me, I don’t really remember what they do and don’t let you bring on a plane, but just to be safe I’ll put them all in my checked baggage. Also I have learned how to make some pretty good Costa Rican dishes in my time here so we can do that when I get back, basically all we need is rice and beans and maybe a few other things. We can do that after Thanksgiving though, because the last thing that I want to see sitting on the table Thursday November 24 is a plate of rice and beans. (And I’m not being sarcastic here.)
So yah I’m pretty excited to get home. The mission is and has been the coolest and most fulfilling experience that I’ve had so far in my life (I think it will rank in third right behind marrying the hottest girl ever and becoming very successful) and even though I kinda wish it wouldn’t end, I kinda realize it is time to end so that I can focus on other things that are very important to the eternal welfare of my soul (aka getting married. Haha!)
I would like to say something to Spencer and Landon too. I would like to invite both of you to serve a mission. Spencer you only have three years and Landon you have 7 years to prepare yourselves. Basically you only need to do 3 things . . . read the scriptures every day, pray every day, and go to church every Sunday. Oh and go to seminary and actually pay attention. I promise you that if you just do these things, then when the time comes you will be ready to serve a mission. Also I will help you with whatever you need!
And Nick you got to keep going strong. The first 6 months of the mission are the slowest because you’re still getting used to it, but now that you have passed that, it will go by super, super, super fast. I know that’s super cliché, but it’s the truth--it does go by super fast!!! So work hard every day in order to find those people who are searching for the gospel. I promise you that if you just focus on your missionary purpose than before you know it you will be writing a letter like mine getting ready to come home.
Wow I think this is like one of the longest letters that I’ve written to you in my whole entire mission. I love you all and I am super excited that the next time that I write you will be my last.
Love Elder Anthony Kent Kohkonen Smith