Last Week of My First Transfer

Happy Late Easter Family and Friends!
I hope everyone had an amazing Easter week filled with fun and family. Easter is truly a beautiful time of the year where we get the opportunity to remember Christ's resurrection.  In Washington, it is beautiful to see all the crops beginning to blossom and come back to life just as our Savior did.  What an amazing event to commemorate.
My week has been ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!  We've been blessed to see various miracles and find several new investigators.  Over the past 9 months, Othello has been a dead zone as far as baptisms and progressing investigators. However, my companion and I were thrilled to hear that two of our investigators have an urge to be baptized!  Two separate investigators came up to us at church and asked how they could go about doing this.  My companion and I just looked at each other with a huge smile. The Lord is truly preparing his sons and daughters to make these baptismal covenants.  I hope with all my heart, they will continue this urge and fully commit to baptism.  It was a great Easter gift.
Speaking of Easter gifts, I was so grateful to receive several packages from my family.  My mom always seems to spoil me even when I'm hundreds of miles away from her!  One of the greatest gifts in these packages was a photo book entailing a short history of my life.  My mom put so much effort into this book which resulted in several tears.  
One of our investigators that speaks Mixteco, Natalio, is also progressing tremendously.  During one of the lessons this week, Natalio had the question, "Why are there so many churches?"  Fortunately, we have the perfect answer. The lesson went great and he agreed with everything we told him. We asked him to say the final prayer and it was an extremely spiritual moment.  He thanked God for sending his two best friends to him.  I almost cried...  Please keep Natalio in your prayers that he will progress.  Good things are happening and I truly hope they continue.
WOW!  Missionary work is so incredible! I've had so many spiritual experiences this week and witnessed miracles pouring down on us.  We also had exchanges and I had the privilege to be with Elder Varnon.  Elder Varnon and I are greenies, therefore it was extremely interesting doing Spanish work.  There were a lot of moments where we just stared blankly and didn't know how to respond.  "Yo no se como responder," we stated.  The day went great and it was definitively a memorable experience.  
Well, I really miss everyone dearly and hope your Easter week went great. LOVE Y'ALL.
Elder Smith

Week 5 in the Mission Field

Buenos Dias Familia
Voy a hablar solo en Espanol esta semana en mi correo a Ustedes.  Mi semana ha sido buena y hemos encontrado muchos más investigadores. Uno de nuestros investigadores nos está enseñando mixteco y el es de oro. El tiempo pasó muy rápido esta semana y que es una locura que ya casi termino con mi primera transferencia. Con suerte, vamos a tener un bautismo pronto!  Sin embargo, no se trata de números es sobre el esfuerzo. 
WOW! Acabo de llegar a la conclusión de que la escritura es el español es una tarea bastante difícil, dado mi conocimiento del español en este momento. Mi semana ha sido absolutamente fantástico! Hemos encontrado varios investigadores nuevos que están en su camino al éxito, por lo que esperamos :) Como un barrio, también hemos puesto un mayor énfasis en los miembros re-activación que se han vuelto menos activos en el tiempo. Por favor oren por todos nuestros investigadores y los miembros menos activos POR FAVOR! 
Esta semana hemos tenido la oportunidad de ser gritado y maldecido, así! No fue la mejor experiencia, pero me encanta momentos asi! Llegamos en coche y nos gritó por la ventana gritando: "Yo ******* AMOR JOSÉ SMITH x5". Tuve la tentación de decir algo, pero siempre es importante ser respetuoso! 
Sé que esta iglesia es verdad con todo mi corazón. Todos los días, me encanta caminar por la calle y hacer el obra misional. Les extrano tanto y envío mi amor desde Washington.
Con todo mi amor,
Elder Smith

Week 4 in the Mission Field

"May we ever be found in doing the work of the Lord."-Thomas S. Monson. What an amazing time this is to be involved in the hastening of this perfect gospel. As I have been pondering and meditating the teachings in The Book of Mormon, I come to realize the magnitude of my calling.  As the missionary work in my designated area is progressing slowly and we become discouraged, I remember the powerful words in the Book of Alma, Chapter 26. It reads, "Now when our hearts are depressed, and we are about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforts us, and says: Go amongst thy brethren, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."  The Lord is truly a comforter and offers such a magnificent promise in the scripture above.  
This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to listen to the words of a living Prophet and Apostles on the earth today. Before this weekend, I had never truly listened to General Conference with sincere intent. It was spiritually uplifting to listen to these divinely inspired words and teachings. Something that has deeply affected myself on my mission is finding the LIGHT OF CHRIST in others. In this conference, Elder Holland taught, "Pure Christlike LOVE flowing from righteousness can CHANGE THE WORLD." I have a firm testimony that when we demonstrate the Light of Christ (which everyone possesses) we can assist our fellow travelers in this challenging journey through life. I´ve learned that by following our Lord, we can more fully feel this pure love of Christ. We know of this truthfulness by pondering D&C 50:24 which reads, "That which is of God is light: and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light: and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."
This week I was able to be involved in my first Bible Bash on my mission. From this experience I've learned that first, I need to learn more about the Bible and second, it's ALWAYS essential to be polite. My companion and I were unfortunately forgetting our purpose due to the rudeness of this gentleman. 
What an amazing time to be on a mission. I am beyond grateful to be here in Othello, Washington where I am blessed with numerous opportunities to serve and consistently meet Sons and Daughters of God.  I know I repeat myself every week, but I deeply miss all my family and friends and think about you constantly. 
Elder Smith

Week 3 in beautiful Otello, Washington

Como le va familia y amigos,
I have passed my two month mark of my mission and it seems as if I just left Huntington Beach yesterday!  The mission life is treating me excellently, AS ALWAYS!  This week I had a grand privilege to do over 15 hours of service for both members and non-members.  One of the best parts of the week is when we volunteer at the Othello Food Bank.  I always have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people and hopefully get some meat on my bones as well. Service this week also included building a little girls massive dollhouse and moving furniture.  Aww I just love doing service, it's one of my favorite parts of missionary work.
Also this week, we found a new investigator named Natalio.  Natalio is a 19 year old who speaks Spanish, English, and Mixteco!  My companion and I have already grown close to him and enjoy having him teach us the basics of Mixteco!  "O'ee-bow-umm, daba-koo-bi-chin-deo-o!"  It's such an amazing language, but I've been working on focusing my studies on Spanish.  It's been a lot better this week and the Hispanics claim I speak good Spanish, but I'm sure they tell that to everyone.  All of our investigators are doing well and are SLOWLY, but surely progressing.  I also met our ward mission leader for the first time this week.  Unfortunately he is less active, but is an amazing person with three great kids! (One of them being Nefi or Nephi)<-----Isn't that an awesome name.  The members are treating us well here in Othello and we are always beyond grateful for their support with the missionary work.
I'm still continuing my studies with the Book of Mormon and am loving every word I come across!  Our mission president asks that we spend 30 minutes of our personal study reading Preach My Gospel, and the rest of the time reading The Book of Mormon.  This book has the power to provide myself the energy boost I need for the remainder of the day. Preach My Gospel has also provided guidance and direction.  
Today, I had the opportunity to attend the Columbia River Temple for the first time.  It is a beautiful temple (Aren't they all;)) and the spirit was DEFINITELY there. The work done in the temple is truly a beautiful thing that can bless several lives. The temple reminded me a lot of the Newport Beach Temple and the beauty both the temples possess.   
Words cannot describe how much I miss my family and friends at home! You all mean so much to me and have made such an impact on my life. There's not one day that goes by that I don't think about the wonderful people in my life.  I love you all so very much! 
-Elder Smith

Week Two in the Mission Field

Mi Familia y Mis Amigos,
I've had a pretty hectic week here in Othello, Washington.  Missionary work definitely keeps us busy here, and I absolutely LOVE that.  The Lord is truly hastening the work and I am so thankful to be a part of this great calling!
The week began when I went on exchanges with Elder Sittman in the City of Warden.  Elder Sittman is an amazing missionary, our district leader, and a great teacher.  I learned so much about the gospel and the Spanish language on this exchange.  He shared something that really hit me hard, "The Lord doesn't sustain Luke-warm missionaries."  Therefore, it is a necessity that we work through obedience, diligence, and patience.  That night, we also put an investigator on date for baptism named Kody.  Unfortunately, this isn't our area, but more souls coming unto Christ is great news for me!  
The rest of the week was great and we were fed an ENORMOUS amount of food.  In the Hispanic culture, they really enjoy eating large portions of food.  In all honesty, that is perfectly fine with me.  They cook Carne-Asada with every meal!  Also, I was a bit surprised when we were served cactus on our plate!  It resulted with one bite being taken, after which I discretely stuffed the rest in my napkin.  I REALLY tried to eat it, but just couldn't put it down.  
Our investigators are slowly progressing, but are lacking the ability to follow up on commitments.  Unfortunately, two of them had trouble with the police this week, which was extremely disappointing.  One of our investigators has recently had some domestic problems and had his children taken away.  We pulled up to his house one night and right when we arrived we saw him packing up his belongings.  Immediately, the back of the tailgate broke and he practically broke his leg directly in front of us.  The reason I bring this story up is because of what happened next.  The man stood up and with all his effort said, "I can do this, I HAVE to do this!"  To see this man's willingness to push on was truly humbling and applied to my situation in missionary work.  I have to push through battles, overcome trials, and continue with a pure heart.  During the duration of this week I struggled with the language and was intimidated to speak directly with the Hispanics.  However, I have to "Dare to be a Mormon, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known."  I can do this if I substitute fear with faith.
My companion and I are getting along, but he had a tough time this week due to our lack of success with investigators and lessons taught.  After, he started comparing his success with the success of others.  If there's one thing I've learned, this is one of the worst things you can do for yourself as a missionary.  However, I've been trying to get him pumped up about missionary work in Othello.  As long as were aligned with the Lord, he will bless us in numerous ways.  
My mission has already proved to be a learning and humbling experience.  I have learned why The Lord gives us challenges and how we can overcome them through our faith in Jesus Christ.  I LOVE MY MISSION!!!

Love Always,
Elder Smith

Week One in the Mission Field!

Hello my AMAZING Family and Friends!
What an awesome week!  Lots of things have happened in this past week.  It began when I left the Mexico MTC and headed on a plane to the "beautiful" Washington.  I had an extremely long day of flying, but it was relaxing as well.  Once we arrived to the airport in Pasco, Washington, I was immediately greeted with a bear hug from President Ware. (Our Mission President)  I felt so welcomed and loved right when I arrived.  After, we headed to the mission home where I met Sister Ware.  We were greeted by her and the other 18 or so missionaries that had also arrived that same day.  It was an incredible sight to see all these missionaries ready to serve the Lord.  
The following day we had training and were told where our first area would be in our mission.  They called my name and assigned me to the Columbia Basin Zone to preach the gospel in both Spanish AND Mixteco.  At first I thought I heard the President wrong when he claimed I'd be learning two new languages, but to my surprise there was no mistake.  My new companion and I are the only two missionaries in the entire mission that are speaking this rare language.  I was then introduced to my new companion and we drove to the dry city of Othello.  As we were driving, I was expecting beautiful greenery and lovely scenery.  However, the drive consisted of only desert and farmland.  My perception of Washington changed completely! 
My first companion in the mission field is Elder Hansen.  He is from Pennsylvania and has been in the field for about 13 months.  Elder Hansen and I get along very well and are excited to convert this entire city!  Our apartment is fairly nice and has all the essentials a missionary needs.  The day we arrived we immediately taught three lessons that first night.  I'm not going to lie, I wanted to pass out on the recliner, but he said, "LET'S GO!"  I quickly gathered my scriptures and I was out doing the thing I had prepared six weeks for.
My first lesson in the mission was with Luisa and Ricardo.  It was probably one of the most awkward situations of my life, in all honesty.  The investigators and my companion began rambling off in Spanish as I sat dumbfounded, staring.  "This isn't the language they taught in the MTC," I thought to myself.  Spanish is very different out in the mission field!  However, I know that I'll be able to get it down after a couple of months and hopefully become fluent.  The week consisted of several more lessons that were extremely spiritual.  We taught so many lessons, that all of them began mashing into one.  I absolutely love teaching and seeing all the unique backgrounds our investigators have.  I also had the opportunity to ask one of our investigators to be baptized, Mario was his name.  This man had such a great testimony about the church and knows it's true, but he just needs some time to think about his decisions.  
Before coming on my mission, several previous missionaries said that you truly have to care about the people and investigators you teach.  I couldn't agree more with this statement.  Although I hardly know or can understand these investigators, I already feel a deep love for all of them.  I've also learned that the Hispanic culture is based off love and compassion.  Words cannot not describe the joy I feel to be in this wonderful city of Othello, Washington.
My companion told me I'd probably be in this area for a good amount of time.  Quite frankly I'm ecstatic that he said this because after just one week here, I feel like I'm at home.  The Lord is truly hastening the work and it is a remarkable sight.  As were driving in our "CAR" (yeah we got a car;)) I just stare out the window and realize how blessed I am to have the opportunity to serve a mission.  Without a doubt, these will be the best two years of my life and the best two years for my life.  I know this church is true with all my heart.  That is why several young men and women devote so many years of their life to help others come to realize that this truly is Christ's Church.  Y estoy muy agradecido que soy un parte de esta obra.
I hope everyone is doing well! I miss and love each of every one of you and always keep you in my thoughts! 
Nos Vemos,
Elder Smith