Final Week in the MTC

Como le va familia,
Well, this week marks my final week here in Mexico City, Mexico. Surprisingly, every week has flown by within the blink of an eye, and this week was no different.
In all honesty, this week consisted of our same routine that begins at 6:30 a.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m..  Here are some of the highlights of my week. I finally reached the one month mark of our mission which means I only have 23 months left!  I'm almost finished;)  Also, on Sunday we had a very spiritual testimony meeting which consisted of our zone and President Pratt (CCM President).  The spirit was so strong in that room, but I had to really focus on being reverent. Why?  During the meeting, there was a ginormous Mexican party occurring right outside of the gates of the CCM.  Usually, windows and doors distort the sound or completely mute noise.  However, this music (Which happened to be American House Music...My Favorite) was blasting during Sacrament meeting.  I had to restrain myself from standing up and dancing.
During our weekly devotional, I volunteered to say the opening prayer in Spanish which was an amazing experience.  I was also stunned when I saw a package come in the mail containing cookies with smiley faces on the icing.  Thanks family!  My district also walked in on me dancing to some gospel music.  They were stunned, but it was highly appropriate given the situation.  Just because you're a missionary, doesn't mean you can't have a blast right?
When reflecting back on my experience at the CCM, I realize how fortunate I am to have come to such a beautiful place.  I've gone through a few hard moments, but for the most part this journey has served as a blessing in my life.  Also, the best is still to come in these next 23 months. Several people have asked me if I'm nervous to step into the mission field and teach real investigators.  I simply reply "no."  I respond with this simple phrase because I know that wherever I go and whoever I teach, the Savior will be right by my side guiding my steps.  We watched an amazing video this week comparing missionary work and The Atonement of Jesus Christ.  It discussed how our trials while serving a mission are incomparable to that of Jesus Christ's.  I KNOW that Washington is the place for me to serve my mission.  Fortunately, my experience at the CCM has well prepared me to enter the mission field with confidence and the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  The CCM has provided me with inspirational teachers, lots of investigators, and a basic knowledge of Spanish.
I know this church is true.  I wouldn't spend two years of my life proselytizing if it wasn't.  A mission isn't the best two years OF your life.  A mission is the best two years FOR your life.  I know this to be true, as much as I know that Our Heavenly Father loves us.  I have a firm testimony regarding the Prophet Joseph Smith.  THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY that this man would give his life for a false book.  Elder Holland, "There's no way a wicked man could make up such a book, and there's no way a righteous man would write it."  I know this to be true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Smith 

Mexico MTC- Week 4

Holla Desde Mexico,
¿Como le va familia? I've missed you all and am always thinking about you from here in Mexico.  The weather here has been great as always, and the food is still mediocre.  It's been strange thinking about the little amount of time I have left here at the CCM.  There are days I feel like I just got here and other days where I can't wait to get out into the field and teach the people of Washington.  The Spanish is slowly progressing, but there is no possible way anyone could learn in six weeks.  I have developed a daily plan to help me progress more and more every day. 
The week started off with the longest day I've had here.  It was a great day, it just felt like three packed into one! That same day, my teacher asked me if I could teach the class during our language session.  I'd never taught a lesson in Spanish before, but it was exciting.  My teacher and I traded name tags for the class.  
Also, this week we started having district pow wows in our room at 9:30 p.m. after the long day.  We simply write in our journals and bop our heads to some gospel piano music.  It's pretty hardcore;) 
The following couple of days were the typical amazing days at the CCM.  I was noticing major progress in my teaching and was feeling more confident.  Also, we had the privilege to talk to our investigator about the law of chastity... for the first time.  Sunday was a very emotional day for my companion and I.  We had to say goodbye to some of the best people we met at the MTC. Also, we watched a video about the restoration, which always seems to make me cry.  That night, my Branch President asked my companion and I if we would be the new Zone Leaders.  We gratefully accepted and were excited to serve in this leadership position. 
The following days were not so great in all honesty.  There was a stomach bug going around, and I got it.  Everyone thinks it is due to the food, but we're not too sure.  Several people have been affected, therefore they are taking several precautions.  Also, I had one of my most stressful days at the CCM.  I was unenthusiastic and feeling groggy.  However, the next day I picked myself up and had a complete change of mentality.  Not every day can be great, right? 
"Do your better, not your best" 
This quote really stood out to me this past week.  I know that if I can do more and more each day and focus on progressing, I will succeed. Also, our teacher Hermano Salazar has been the most influential person to help me progress.  This man doesn't speak English, but has the most incredible power to make you feel excited and feel the spirit day after day.  Saying goodbye to him will definitely be challenging due to the large impact he's had on my time here at the MTC. 
Wow, just 11 more days in Mexico.  I'm going to miss the terrible food, the cockroaches, and my companion.  Having this opportunity to learn and grow is simply incredible.  I know that this church is flawless and can help many people become more Christ like.  Feeling the spirit day after day is truly a blessing.  
Yo se que esta iglesia es la iglesia de Jesucristo.  Esta iglesia no tiene errors y es perfecta.  Sin mi iglesia, no puedo segir el ejemplo de Jesucristo.  Yo se que Jose Smith pudo ver nuestro Padre Celestial y su Hijo tambien.  Estoy muy agredecido por El Libro de Mormon y las enzenanzas en esto libro.  El Espiritu Santo tiene un poder y puede cambiar vidas.  Yo dico estos cosas en el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.

Elder Smith

Mexico-MTC Week 3

Hello My Dear Family,
Word's cannot describe how thankful I am for all the letters you sent me.  One of my favorite parts of the week is running to the computer on my P-Day and seeing what you're up too.  I hope you are all getting wonderful weather because it has been absolutely gorgeous here in Mexico City, Mexico. It is baffling to here all the police sirens at night though.  They keep me awake, but it is reassuring to know that I'm in a safe place.  
This amazing week started off with Valentines Day!  Of course we can't actively celebrate this holiday here at the CCM, but my companion and I did give everyone in our zone a folded up heart and a candy to go with it.  Also, my parents sent me a card to open up on Valentine's Day which I was very appreciative for.  That day, Friday, we also had our second service project.  This week's project was for our zone to go around the MTC and wipe off dust in the classrooms.  I love doing service projects, I'm not too sure why though.  That night, we also had a very spiritual lesson about how the Book of Mormon can help us and our investigators receive revelation.  We had to first think of a question we had.  My question was, "Why do I sometimes become so stressed with the language."  Fortunately, I got a direct answer through a chapter in Nephi.  
The following day was pretty average. However, I did memorize the entire first vision and utilized it in our lesson that night.  The lesson went super well, except my companion and I forgot to ask him to be baptized! Whoops!  We should always ask our investigators to be baptized on the first visit, which I am finding to be quite a challenge.  
Sunday was great, it always is.  In sacrament, we all are expected to prepare a talk.  After, they randomly pick on Elder's or Sister's right then and there to speak.  I have not yet been chosen, but I probably will this upcoming week.  The topic is the fall of Adam and Eve.  That night, I also had to say goodbye to Elder Plummer.  Elder Plummer and I have been great friends ever since attending BYU with each other.  
The rest of the week flew by in the blink of an eye.  The days here are so long, but the weeks are so short.  That's the common saying around the CCM.  Throughout the week, I learned about the importance of applying doctrine in my lessons.  I've learned that to be a good teacher you must demonstrate confidence and power through the Spirit.  I always feel a sense of joy when I teach the investigators.  
Thursday, today, we were able to go to the Mexico City Temple.  Although the temple was closed, it was an extremely spiritual experience.  The visitors center is beautiful and has some of the greatest technology I've ever seen.  It was crazy to drive through such an impoverished area, then be in such a quiet and peaceful place.  Driving through the city was definitely a culture shock.  There are so many people with no food or water, many stray dogs, and several people crammed in such a small place.  I will never forget the man I saw trying to get water from sprinklers.  The water was sitting on the grass, and he was scooping up the water mixed with dirt.  Observing the city made me so tremendously grateful to have such a blessed life.  This is an experience I will never forget.  However, some of them seemed so happy.  It was tear jerking to see people with so little, be so happy.  This was definitely an experience that will change my mentality on life.  
I'm am so grateful to be on my mission.  Words cannot describe how happy I am to wake up every day and repeat the same pattern.  While you learn and preach the gospel, you always have a brighter day and feel different.  My testimony is strengthening, and I'm utilizing the scriptures more and more each day.  Love you all so much.  I challenge you all to read a chapter a day in the Book of Mormon. 
                                Nos vemos,
                                       Elder Smith 


Mexico MTC- Week 2

I had yet another wonderful week in the CCM (Mexico Missionary Training Center).  The week started off on Sunday when I attended church.  Church here is a little different considering it's all in Spanish.  Also, I had my first opportunity to bless the sacrament in Spanish with my companion.  Fortunately, we both got it on the first time.  That same night was the dedication of the CCM.  Words cannot describe how grateful I was to see an apostle, Dallin H. Oaks, give such a meaningful prayer and talk.  An event like this only happens once every fifteen years.  Sunday was a very spiritual day and one that I will never forget.  I cried several times that day.  I'm not exactly sure why I cried, but I'm sure it's because of the spirit overload at the MTC.
As far as my companion and I, we're doing great.  Elder Pullman and I have become very close friends and enjoy progressing in Spanish.  We were also told by our teacher that we both had to get haircuts.  I would normally be okay with this statement, but the hairstylist doesn't speak English.  "NO MUY PEQUENO; NO MUY PEQUENO!" That was about the only advice I could translate.  She did a phenomenal job.
My schedule here at the MTC keeps my companion and I very busy.  I will give you a brief rundown of my day.  The day starts off at 6:30 a.m. when we wake up.  Then I take a shower and get dressed for breakfast which starts at 7:15 a.m.  Usually a very mediocre breakfast is eaten, after which I put lots of Nutella on a piece of bread and become satisfied.  After breakfast, we have personal study time and teach an investigator (AKA our teacher). Two more hours of personal gospel study pass then it's lunch time.  Lunch is my favorite meal of the day.  After lunch we go on a computer program called TALL to help us progress with Spanish.  Then it's time to go to the tienda (shop).  Although it is not required to go, it's my favorite part of the day because my companion and I load up on the cheap Mexican candy.  Sorry Mom.  Then we have language study, followed by gym time, followed by dinner.  We also teach another investigator at night.  Preparing lessons is overwhelming, but it's my job as a missionary!  After, the teacher instructs us on things we can improve on.  Finally it is time to prepare for bed.
My Spanish is slowly progressing and my knowledge of the gospel is increasing tremendously.  I wish I could just flip a switch in my head to learn Spanish, but I must be patient and put in the hard work.  The Lord is so great for giving me this opportunity.  Serving a mission is by far the best decision I have ever made.  This week I realized that I have the power to do something that strengthens people, strengthens lives, and strengthens the Kingdom of God.  From what I've heard, missionaries either like or dislike the MTC.  Well... I love it!  I've had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people and learn so much in such a small amount of time.  Every second of my mission has been a joy.  The weather in Mexico has also been great.  Elder Pullman and I need the sun, and our Hispanic teacher has told us that numerous times.  These past two weeks have been the quickest two weeks of my life and before I know it, I'll be out in Kennewick, Washington preaching the gospel. Watching all the missionaries flow in and out of the MTC provides sure evidence that the Lord is truly hastening the work.  I know with all my heart that serving a mission was the right thing for me at this time in my life.  For I know that "This is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved in the Kingdom of God."  2 Nephi 31:21.  I miss and love you all deeply.
                                                                             Nos vemos,
                                                                                        Elder Smith