My First Week in Warden, Washington

July 21, 2014 

How was everyone's week?  Is everyone still enjoying the hot weather and the sun burns?  It's getting quite toasty and the sun is really starting to quick in during this time of year.  Also, it's amazing how fast the summer flies by when you're serving a mission.  I can't believe were almost in the month of August!  Why can't these two years go by slower?!  The heat is really picking up here as the highest temperature of the week was about 109 degrees!  Hydration is truly essential when you are continually moving from place to place.
So as I mentioned last week, I recently got transferred to Warden, Washington. How would I describe Warden, Washington in five phrases?  Nice people, farmland, 1500 person population, no stores, and WOW!  Never in my entire life have I lived or even seen a place like Warden.  When I was driving around I simply thought to myself, where am I?  My companion that has been here for about 4 months knows almost all the people in the city.  "That's Mr. Whillebee....that's Bob Swiffer....etc."   However, I'm not going to lie...I think I just may like it.  I'm the type of person that likes to be placed into a different lifestyle and a new way of living; and warden is as unique as it gets in my personal opinion.  One of the down sides of living in Warden is the smell that the potato factory produces. It smells like vomit.  However, it's all part of the experience!:)  The English Ward is super solid with about 175 people that attend every single week, it was awesome to see that many people come to church.  The Spanish Branch has on average of about 10 people that show up.  It was kind of interesting to be in a sacrament meeting setting with only 10 people.  This only goes to show that my companions and I have some work to do!  The big Hispanic church in Warden is the Assembly of God church, and unfortunately they talk very poorly about the LDS church.  One older gentleman's door that we knocked on this week couldn't see very well and was very excited for visitors.  He asked our names and we replied by saying, "Elder......"  As soon as he heard the word Elder he looked up and said, "BYE, GO AWAY, BYE, BYE!"  It's so interesting to see the several different responses we receive when knocking on doors. 
My new companions are Elder Sittman and Elder Johnson.  Elder Sittman has been on his mission for about 23 months and is heading home in the next few weeks.  He is from Cypress, California. Elder Johnson arrived to the mission about 5 days ago and is a great missionary!  Over the course of the next 12 weeks, I will be training Elder Johnson.  He is a great guy and to my surprise, he already knew Spanish perfectly before coming into the mission!  His mom is from Spain and he grew up learning both English and Spanish.  Hopefully, he can train me on learning some spanish;)  Elder Johnson is from Spanish Fork, Utah. Our first week together as a companionship was good!  We taught several less-active members and our two on-dates.  We have two investigators that are getting baptized on this Saturday.  They have been teaching these two investigators since I arrived.  However, I know them both very well and have taught them several times and can't wait to see them make this amazing change in their lives.  There names are Sara Leishman and Jesus Maderagales.  Unfortunately, we don't have a large handful of investigators, but I'm hoping that will change here pretty soon:)
This week I have grown such a testimony of the eternal importance of developing Christ-like attributes and applying them in our everyday life. When we try our best to stand as witnesses of God at all place and in all things, we will truly feel a light grow inside of us that indescribable.  One of my favorite scriptures in regards to discipleship is found in Alma 7:23.  It reads, "And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."  We truly have so much to be grateful in this beautiful world that we live in.  As we strive obediently to seek out the best in others and continually develop a change within ourselves, the Lord will bless us. 
I love you all so much and hope you have a phenomenal week!
Love Always,
Elder Smith

Im Going to...Warden!

July 14, 2014 

Family and Friends,
It's been a crazy week here in the WKM because we had transfers!  Thus far, I haven't been too surprised with my transfer calls because I had somewhat of an idea what was going to happen. However, these transfer calls took me for quite a surprise.  I'm going to be transferred out of Othello 4th Spanish and Mixteco and put into the Warden Ward.  Warden is about 12 miles from Othello so I won't be moving that far, but it's still a big change.  Unfortunately, there are not nearly as many Spanish speakers there in Warden.  I'm hoping my Spanish will continue to progress. At first, I was very disappointed to be moving out of Othello because I feel like this is my home. I love the members here, I love the area, and I love the opportunity to speak Spanish wherever I go. However, this will be an amazing learning opportunity.  Warden is a small town with a bunch of farmers and unfortunately it always smells bad.  It's going to be AWESOME! 
So, I'm going to have two companions.  I'm going to be with Elder Sittman for three weeks (because he goes home in three weeks) and also a new missionary.  I'm going to have the opportunity to train a new missionary.  You have no idea how excited and enthusiastic I am to train a new missionary.  It's going to be a huge blessing and a huge learning experience!  We don't know who it's going to be yet, but we will find out this Wednesday.  YAAAAAYYYY! I'm stoked. 
I've had an amazing last week here in Othello with tons of hilarious experiences.  I could ramble on about all the experiences, but this email would be very long so I'll tell you just one.  We were teaching one of our investigators and we hear a knock on the door, it was the Jehovah's Witnesses. We were startled and didn't know what our investigator would say. "I already got my religious homies in here man!"  They looked through the door and we just sat there waving and smiling.  Afterwards, we all just cracked up and couldn't believe what had just happened. I'm so glad to have had such an amazing experience here in Othello. I will also miss Elder Chadwick a ton, we've had 6 weeks of fun and hard work.   It seems like all my companions on my mission just come and go... MAN! 
I'm so grateful for this opportunity I have and for the opportunity I have everyday to be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Every day I walk around and think about what a blessing it is.  This week, I have grown a strong testimony about the power of the scriptures.  We have the opportunity every single day to receive revelation and guidance through both The Book of Mormon and The Bible.  Making the importance of the scriptures known unto our investigators is crucial.  I bear my witness that through the scriptures we can become closer to Christ and embrace the teachings that are necessary to fulfill our purpose on Earth.
Love you all so much,
Elder Smith

Last Week of Transfer

July 7, 2014 
How was everyone's Fourth of July?  I hope everyone's fingers are still in tact!  Did everyone watch a pretty exciting firework show?  Also, the weather is continuing to become hotter and hotter.  Here in Othello, Washington it almost hit 100 degrees this week and it's expected to get worse! For our fourth we had to be inside by 6 o clock p.m.  Therefore, we had a crazy night out planning for the following week.  However, the night after a member that lives next door let us shoot off some roman candles!  Sorry Mom:)  
The rest of the week surprisingly went by fairly slow. Usually weeks on the mission go by with just a blink, but this one was different.  I think it was due to the several hours of walking in the heat...that will make time go by fairly slow.  It's also amazing at all the opportunities we have to serve.  I feel like everyday we find an opportunity to do service for either a member or someone on the street.  I have gained such a powerful testimony of service in these past five months.  Service is a great way to show others your true love for them.  We've got a lot of service lined up for the following week and I'm so excited.  
Our investigators are not doing very great in all honesty.  It's a little disappointing when you think an investigator has so much potential, but then doesn't keep their commitments. However, they're always more people that are just waiting to hear the restored gospel.  We are going to focus on finding this coming week as well.  HOWEVER, we finally had another lesson with Natalio and it was awesome! We showed up to his trailer randomly and asked if we could come in.  He replied by saying, "YES, can we read that awesome book again?"  I was stunned and for a second didn't know which book he was talking about. "The Book of Mormon! Well Yeah!"  We had an amazing spiritual lesson with one of our members, Brother Serna. 
This week it seemed like all of the people we tracked into spoke Mixteco. It was so awesome:)  I love the loud laughter that the Mixteco's give when we speak Mixteco. We'll introduce ourselves in Mixteco and they'll just crack up.  Apparently it's not very common that 19 year old white boys try to learn a weird dialect from the abandoned hills of Mexico.  The several different responses on their faces definitely made the week entertaining! 
Well I love you all and will email you next week. Go surfing for me will ya?:)  Stay cool and enjoy the weather.

Love always and forever,

Elder Smith

5 Months Gone Already?

July 1, 2014 

Hola Familia y Amigos, 
Espero que todos ustedes esten teniendo un buen verano y de ir a la playa mucho. Voy a escribir mi primer párrafo en español y espero que vayan a entenderlo! Esta semana yo estaba pensando en todo de Ustedes como en casa y cómo los extraño mucho.  Les mantendré en mis oraciones en todo momento y espero que estén disfrutando de sus vacaciones de verano. También espero que el tiempo vaya por lenta para usted porque el tiempo va demasiado rápido para mí en mi misión!
My week was pretty fantastic. Missionary work is hard work, but a blast at the same time.  We have been getting a little hot here in Washington and it's going to hit 100 degrees!  I'm not sure I can handle hot weather and eat hot Mexican food all day. However, I don't think I will ever get sick of Mexican food my entire mission!  Arroz, Frijoles, Menudo, Pasole, etc. IT"S ALL SO GOOD! When we eat American Food, I actually get a little disappointed!  Some man actually asked me the other day what part of Mexico I was from?  I simply responded, "En serio, soy un guero!" (You serious, I'm a little white boy!) I was baffled.  However, hopefully this means I'm getting a little sun! 
Our investigators are all doing well!  We had a lesson with Natalio and it was amazing. Natalio works about 16 hours a day so it's been difficult to stay in contact.  We knocked on his door and he said he really wanted to read the Book of Mormon with us. YAY! He still has the desire to baptized, it's just been difficult for the entire Spanish culture during picking season.  Also, Mexico losing in the World Cup did not help our missionary work this week.  We decided to tract after the game and nobody was responsive.  Usually, we wave high to all the hispanics and get a wave back.  However, after the game....nothing!
We have also been focusing on finding new investigators.  We found a very nice man named Martin.  He lives next door to our Elder's Quorum President and we knocked into him.  We introduced the Book of Mormon and he said he would be baptized if he found out it was true.  I have utmost faith that he will find a connection to the Book of Mormon and his prayers will be answered:)  The Lord works in mysterious and incredible ways. I think we're going to be getting some success here in the near future.  Othello has been slow and the people haven't been tremendously responsive, but with diligence and obedience we can turn the hearts of Othello. 
I love you all so very much and hope you have a tremendous week!  Like I always say, there is not one day that goes by that I don't think about and pray for you.  Enjoy your summer!

Love Always,
Elder Smith

Othello, The Place to Be!

June 23, 2014

Family, Friends, and Dogs,
Well hello there strangers!  How is everyone adjusting to the hot summer weather? How is the water at the beach?  Is everyone making sure to apply there sun tan lotion everyday? The weather out here in Washington is getting a little warm and I actually think I'm getting tan....maybe.  However, I will always be one of the whitest kids in a town like Othello, Washington.   
My week has been absolutely fantastic and has flown bye in the blink of an eye! We've been blessed to continually find several new investigators who have been prepared by the Lord. We found 6 new investigators this week! As we proselyte in the warm weather all day, you definitely start to feel a little exhausted.  The joys of being a missionary:) 
Currently, we are trying to learn how to successfully OYM (Introduce the Gospel) in Mixteco.  Half the time they are impressed with white boys speaking Mixteco and half the time they look at us with a blank stare.  We have realized that within the Mixteco dialect, there are actually three different types of the dialect.  Alto, bajo, and some other name. "Kwa'unn' o'wee'ba'unn;. Shikan'di'shee'e'tu'umm'n'dioshi.  Sina'a de'do' o xa'a' jesucristo. Something along those lines and a lot more. We've been learning by simply asking every Mixteco person how to say a new phrase. Asking them if they speak Mixteco is actually a super efficient ice breaker when knocking on someones door as well! We're also going to start Mixteco ball on every Friday because they love to play "BASKET." <---There code name for basketball. Also, we will be having a tournament on August 1st. This will hopefully be an amazing way to get non-members excited to come to church!
There was no extremely unusual things that happened this week, just enjoying the missionary work. Although, I had the opportunity to roof an hour for 8 hours this week, that was some of the hardest labor I had ever done. Also, I've learned never to wear shorts when roofing a house:) However, if anyone needs a new roof, I'm pretty sure my companion and I are professionals at this point!  Also, IT'S CHERRY SEASON!  I've never consumed so many cherries in a matter of one week. Washington cherry's are truly desirable. 
All of our investigators are doing well. We have one investigator that we put on date last night named Isabel.  She is on date to be baptized the 19th of the following month. We had taught her about 2 months ago and she didn't seem to have an interest in our message.  We testified of the power of the Holy Ghost to answer her prayers if our message is true.  After 3 or 4 unsuccessful attempts to contact her we decided to not stop by again.  However, the other elders stopped by her house not knowing she was a former investigator and asked how she was doing.  She had received an answer that what we taught was true!  What an amazing opportunity we have to communicate with our father in heaven. We began teaching her yet again and set her baptismal date.  The Lord truly testified the truth unto Isabel and it has grown my testimony and her's as well. Working side by side with the Holy Ghost is a blessing beyond belief. I hope everyone has a great week and enjoys the weather. 
I love and miss you all!

Love always, 

Elder Smith

O'wee'boww'ummm, Kun'i y’oo'

June 16, 2014
Kwa'unn' Familia y Amigos,
How is everyone doing? How's the World Cup? Is America going to win?  Well I can tell you what, most of the people here in Washington are rooting for Mexico and waving their flags loud and proud. Tracking while the World Cup is in progress is the greatest and worst thing for a missionary. Everyone is at home which makes it easy to find them, but unfortunately soccer is more entertaining than two white guys at your door:) Walking through the streets you can hear the Mariachi music pumping and hear "HIJOLE" being screamed.  
My week here in Othello has been wonderful.  We've been blessed to find several new investigators who are prepared to receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I've learned that through the power of specific prayers, we can receive specific answers.  A lot of changes and a change of heart need to made here in Othello, but with faith and real intent hard things become changeable.  My companion and I have noticed ourselves coming closer to Christ as we strive to achieve exact obedience. The work is truly hastening, and I am a witness of that every day.  
My companion and I are adjusting very well the the Ashtons house.  They have a basketball arcade machine that is very entertaining.  We play "horse" every single day! Also, the family owns a farm and has the connections to get us cherries almost every day. Washington Cherries are the greatest things I've ever tasted.  I was never a fan of cherries, but now I have a slight addiction.
Also this week we had the opportunity to take Brother Serna out with us a couple of times.  Brother Serna is my favorite member I've met on my mission.  He is such a kind and sincere man that needs to find himself a "pina"!  This Sunday, he noticed I didn't have a CTR ring and decided to give me his. I was beyond grateful and super appreciative to be given such a thoughtful gift.  
I love you all so very much and hope you have a great week! Stay cool and share the gospel with everyone.  

Love always,
Elder Smith

First Week of My Third Transfer in the Mission

June 9, 2014

Hello loved ones,
How was everyone's week? I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of a great summer vacation. The weather is hopefully beautiful in all parts of the world.  The weather here in Washington is getting a little bit toasty therefore the air conditioning is essential.  For a missionary, summer means bringing out the short sleeve shirts and walking as minimally as possible.  Thank goodness our companionship has a car.  Hopefully this doesn't affect my weight....not walking and always consuming mexican food. Uh oh. 
Speaking of our companionship, I received a new companion this week.  My new companions name is Elder Chadwick. Elder Chadwick is from American Fork, Utah. Who would've guessed, a missionary from Utah!  He is a super nice guy and we're already getting along great! Elder Chadwick enjoys sports and is a huge fan of Star Wars.  He has been on his mission for 22 1/2 and I will probably kill him.  Before you freak out, the term to "kill a missionary" is used when a missionary is leaving their mission. Therefore, if I am his companion when he finishes his mission, I will kill him. Also, we recently moved houses.  We were recently living by ourselves in an apartment which I loved.  However, we are now living with the Ashton Family which are very sweet older members. It's an extremely nice house so I'm not going to complain. Sometimes I really think and appreciate the fact that I'm serving my mission in the United States.  We get a little bit spoiled.  
This week, we had the privilege to listen to Brother Ridd.  Brother Ridd spoke in this last general conference, giving a powerful talk and testimony.  For the WKM Missionaries, he spoke to us about true intent and the doctrine of Christ.  He spoke about how true intent and love are directly correlated. This is something that has struck me as an essential characteristic a missionary must possess.  Love is the essence of this gospel.  I've enjoyed feeling others love for me and expressing my love towards them on the mission.  
The work here in Othello is going to progress, I HAVE FAITH!  However, Spanish work is going to get slow because the World Cup is about to begin.  Actually, this may mean that they'll all be in their houses!  SWEET!  I'm really starting to adjust to the spanish culture and I love it.  For example, I had a rare dish called menudo this week. Menudo is cow stomach, pretty cool huh?  Well, it wasn't. I have never eaten something so strange and un appetizing in my entire life.  I was essentially eating the fat inside of a cows stomach.  However, it was well worth the experience and I'm glad I licked my plate clean.
Well I hope everyone has a great week and applies the sunscreen.  Stay classy San Diego:)

Love Always,

Elder Smith

Last Week of Second Transfer

June 2, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!
I hope everyone had a great week and are getting those bathing suits, sunscreen, and sunglasses ready for a hot summer!  I can't believe summer is just a couple of days away, time flies by so incredibly fast. We received exciting summer news here in the Washington, Kennewick Mission because we received our transfer calls!  Transfer calls go out to all missionaries and tell us if we will be moving areas!
Fortunately, I will be staying right where I'm at in Othello, Washington.  I couldn't be more grateful to serve here for at least one more transfer.  However, both of my other companions are getting transferred to other others in Washington. Elder Hansen will be moving to Brooster, Washington and Elder Ribeiro will be going to Mattawa, Washington.  I've really enjoyed the time I've spent with these two missionaries.  We've had several memorable moments and spiritual ones as well.  However, I look forward to receiving my new companion Elder Chadwick! Elder Chadwick has been on his mission for about 20 months and is an amazing missionary. 
Also, this week we put one of our investigators back on date!  Natalio is hopefully going to get baptized the 20th of this month.  The rest of our investigators are slowly progressing and will continue as they strive to live the gospel of Christ.  That's probably the thing I love most about my mission.  As I help others grow and build to Christ, I notice myself continually progressing with my investigators.  Also, I've really come to love all of the members here in Othello.  As I progress in my Spanish and can hold a conversation, I'm finally getting to become close and rely on the members.  One member in particular is named Brother Serna.  Brother Serna is a spiritual, sociable, and crazy man.  He is a one of those members that is fully committed to the missionary work and will come out with us every single day!  It's so incredible to know that some people are so committed to helping others come unto Christ and receive the restored gospel.  
Like always, we also had several opportunities to do service.  I honestly don't think I've ever picked so many weeds in my life! Also, we got to mow a huge lawn this week:)  They are putting us to work and I love it!
Well I hope everyone has a great week, Ill be sending you an email all about my new companion next week!  I love you guys!

Love Always,
Elder Smith 

Last Week of My Transfer

May 26, 2014

Family and Friends,
How's everything going for everyone at home?  I hope everyone is enjoying the weather and getting ready for a nice hot summer season.  The weather is already starting to warm up here in Washington and I assume the same for everyone else as well.  Summer truly is a beautiful time of the year when we have time to get together with family and simply relax.  Although I can't relax, I love to know that everyone at home is having a wonderful time.
I say it every single week, but I can't lie.  MY WEEK WAS GREAT!  It started off with a dairy tour at a local members dairy farm.  I have never in my life seen so many cows. We even almost got to see the miracle of life a couple of times at the maternity barn haha.  Also at the dairy, I got to milk my first cow and squirt the milk into my mouth. It sounds extremely disgusting, but you have to do it for the experience right?  In addition, I had a baby cow suck on my thumb which felt strange.  Let's just say I took a long shower after the dairy tour. 
The ride home from the dairy tour wasn't as exciting.  I was riding with the AP's back to our apartment and I felt a little sick.  *Keep in mind they drive a brand new 2014 truck*  Well, I kind of threw up in the car.  Luckily, I made it out of the car just in time, but it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.  You have to have embarrassing moments to make memorable moments right?:)
I'm thoroughly convinced that the city of Othello, Washington has the cutest kids I have ever met in my entire life.  For example, this little boy named Omar is awesome.  I taught him how to say, "I am a child of God."  Every time he sees me he now says, "I am a child of God." Also, I decided to show a group of Mixteco kids some magic tricks that I know.  I did a trick in which I was "levitating."  One of the kids cussed and screamed, "***** That fool is flying homie."  Memorable moments like these always make me smile.
The other memorable moments in my mission involve the spiritual moments.  We have been blessed with several new investigators and people who are prepared to  hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Although we don't have anybody on date for baptism, we are trying our best and that's all the Lord asks.  It's going to get pretty crazy around here in the Mixteco work because there are several roomers that the area might get all rearranged.  Transfers are going to be absolutely crazy.  
I would like to share one of my new favorite scriptures in The Book of Mormon.  It's very simple, but it has so much significance.  In 2 Nephi 26:24 it reads,"He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world;for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him."  I especially love the end of this scripture, "he may draw all men unto him."  How incredibly powerful.  How beautiful is it to know that Christ's atoning sacrifice not only saves us, but is an invitation to come unto him.  Before my mission, I didn't realize that everything revolves around Jesus Christ.  He is the center of essentially everything we teach.  The opportunity I've had to come closer to him has been life changing.  I know that as we come closer to Christ, we will feel a light illuminate inside ourselves that we haven't recognized before. I love him and I know he loves all of us.    
I hope everyone has a great week. 

With great love,

Elder Smith

Week Four of My Second Transfer

Familia y Amigos,
Que Paso? Como Estan Todo!? Les Extrano Mucho!
I hope everyone had an amazing Mother's Day and gave appreciation to all of the extraordinary mothers out there. For my mothers day I had the opportunity to skype with my mother and the rest of my family.  It was emotional, but heartwarming to see my family is doing well.  However, we could only talk for one hour which was pretty difficult.  At the end of the conversation it was almost impossible to push the "end call" button.
My week in the mission has passed incredibly fast (yet again) and was full of several amazing experiences.  We had the chance to pick weeds twice this week.  Although this may not sound too appealing, it's always nice to take your mind off missionary work and do semi-worldly things.  Also, we got fed so well from the members this week.  I love how Hispanics eat meat with almost every meal.  Every time we have a dinner with a member, they always make sure we have at least two or three plates of food.  However, you will always get that occasional off the wall meal that you have to find a way to scarf down.  For example, yesterday we had a meal that started off well, but didn't have the best ending.  Mexicans absolutely love "Helote" or sweet corn in English.  The family we went too decided to add an extra little kick to the sweet corn.  They LAYERED mayonnaise upon mayonnaise onto the corn with tons of chile sauce.  I had to get that baby down so I simply closed my eyes and imagined I was eating an ice-cream. The joys of being a missionary:)
Our investigators are doing well and all of the prayers are definitely helping.  We had some stellar lessons with Natalio this week and learned a couple of new phrases in Mixteco. He is still on the journey to baptism on the 30th of this month. YAY!
Missionary work was kind of slow this week due to the several people that didn't want to answer their doors.  It's always a tad bit disappointing when you have high hoped for a lesson with an investigator and they don't show up or forget.  However, this is where fervent prayer and faith comes into play for a missionary.  The power of prayer is truly a remarkable gift given to us from God.  Our Father in Heaven wants to lead us and guide us, which can be accomplished by offering a sincere prayer.  We can pray at any moment and in any situation.  It may sound a little strange, but I have found that praying in the shower in the morning is a good place for me.  When we open our hearts with faith, I know that every child of God can receive comfort and counsel.  
Desire--->Faith--->Change of Heart--->Miracles
"Faith is the power, obedience is the price, love is the motive, the spirit is the key, Jesus Christ is the reason," President Ware.
As we accomplish a desire to follow Jesus Christ, we will be led and guided to a life full of happiness and unfathomable experiences.  I've noticed that as we continue our lives, we must always strive to obtain more faith. "Life isn't about the breaths we take, it's about the moments that take our breath away."  Moments that these are achievable through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I love you all so much and keep you in my prayers every day.  I hope all is well and you all have an awesome week.  

Love you with all my heart,

Elder Smith