Monday, October 3, 2011

Week 35

Hey mom,
I have been thinking a lot this week and I am so blessed that it takes my breath away! Every single one of my friends is serving a mission. Every single one and that to me is incredible. When I left Federal it was so hard a few people cried and I lost it also for a second. I will never forget that place and I want to go back one day.

My new area is sweet. It is more well off money wise than Federal and we have great members. It is a ward not a branch. also ............ Elder Winger is in my zone!!!! I am so happy. My companion is Elder Birch who went to Olympus High school. I loved conference! I watched it all except the 2nd session on Saturday. I am in a 4 man pench in Pergamino, which I love! The other missionaries are Latin.

I love you mom and thanks for keeping me updated.
Love your son

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Week 34 - Leaving Federal and going to Pergamino

Wow this week has just been out of control! This week we had a family home evening with a family and we made them tacos and salad with ranch dressing! It was so good :) They even tried the hot sauce that we brought with us. Haha they can´t handle spicy food at all, but they loved the ranch . . . . . LOVED it. After that on Saturday I had the opportunity to baptize a beautiful daughter of God. It was an amazing experience. Sorry this is short, but I am leaving Federal and I am going to Pergamino. I have no clue what to expect at all!

Elder Smart

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week 33 - Giving Blessings

Hello everyone! How are all of you? Some better then others I assume because of the recent BYU vs. Utah game! My week was really good. I had many opportunities to give blessings this week. The first we gave to a young member who asked us for one because she felt sick. After we finished I saw the mother of this young girl with tears in her eyes because she recognizes the power and importance of the priesthood. Another time one of our investigators fell and broke a few fingers and she said after the blessing she felt a peace enter in her starting from her head to her feet. She wasn´t able to go to church because she had an appointment Sunday so she will not be able to be baptized until after I leave (if i leave this area that is). I love this area and the people here. I have learned so much here. Transfers are this coming week so I will not right until Tuesday next week.

This Sunday was really great, a young member received the priesthood and is way excited about passing the sacrament next week! I am going to give him a tie ;) I taught the class and i talked about always choosing the right. We aren´t immune to the world but we can still protect our selves from it. Satan always works little by little I used a scripture in Alma 47 6-19 which I really like. After the class I taught primary for the second time in 2 weeks! WOW that is a mad house with those little kids. I have a new found respect for primary teachers. I was pulled every way and was drawn on with chalk and the kids always take the plaque.

An inactive family came to church and the president was talking to the young girl who turned 8 a little while ago. He asked her who do you want to baptize you? The father in the family is not a member and her uncle is the president. She told him that she wants me to do it. I am honored that she would chose me to do it. The baptism is this Saturday and you are all invited ;)

That is all for this week Thank you for all the love and support!
Love, Elder Smart

Monday, September 12, 2011

Week 32 - Special P-day

Hello everyone!
Sorry last time I was really pressed for time because of our special p-day which was awesome! I have attached some pictures of when we played soccer and when we visited a castle! Let me start from the beginning. We woke up late on Monday morning and when I say late I mean 4:30 am and we had to catch a bus at 5:00 am. So we woke up and threw all our stuff together and ran and caught the bus to Concordia. Which is 2 hours away. We arrived and got ready to play futbòl which was sweet. But I am not really good at it. The Latin elders play very well and made me feel very small. haha Then after we played basketball :) which was the opposite effect for them. Then the Mission President and his wife came and the assistants. We went and visited a sweet castle all together and then after had pizza. Then futbòl again but this time the President played :) he is awesome and he has still got game! His wife also told us about something she did recently. Well she was reading PMG and decided she wanted to see what it was to be a missionary. So she went and lived with a sister missionary who wasn´t going to have a companion for a few days. She did all that a missionary would do with no shortcuts at all! I have tons of respect for that.

After that awesome day we had divisions and I was in Concordia for a day. There is a lot of hills there and a day after so much physical activity it killed me. haha It was cool though to be in a different place for awhile. A change of scenery :)

Yesterday we had an investigator come to church. One who I didn´t expect to come and a member just made it a great experience for her. She loved it and talked about being baptized a lot but we will see what happens. Tribulation in all things and her boyfriend is making things difficult.

That´s all for now! Love you all ;)
Elder Smart

Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 30 - WE WON! (two emails in one day)

Hello one and all,
Thank you for all the birthday wishes! Time just seems to fly by all the time, it´s a little scary. We had a zone conference this week and it was really really good, I loved it! We played a game and what ever district won they get to have a special p-day.... WE WON! I am way excited because now I will email in Concordia next week. They have better computers so I can send all my pictures :)

This week we taught some great people, a family that we gave a Book of Mormon to said that they really like it and when the mother said the prayer when we were leaving she prayed that they could be baptized! Now it is in our hands to prepare them. I hope everything will go smoothly with them. We started handing out invitations for an English class we are going to have every week in the church. Everyone is really excited about it. It is nice because now when people yell at me in the street in English and say "hey! What´s your name? 12347689" I can go ask them if they actually want to learn English.

I taught the class in church on Sunday and I spoke on faith. Many members shared great experiences :) I talked about how we need to be like Peter who walked out on the waves to the Savior. We need to have faith and courage to get out of the boat.

I will write more next week I hope you all have a wonderful week :)
Love, Elder Smart

E-mail #2

So I walked back to my pench and I saw that there is a new cyber opened . So we decided to try it out for pictures and wow it is pretty fast!! :) I hope you like the pictures.

A story that I forgot to tell you is that we had a lunch appointment which is really rare in the little city. We arrived there and the man who was one of our investigators was completely drunk. His wife came in from the kitchen to greet us and I looked at her left hand and it was cut really really bad. Dripping in fact all over the floor leaving a trail....we asked her if she wanted a band aid but she said it was nothing. (she was drunk also) We sat down and talked to the man for a while and his wife brought out sandwiches, I pretended to eat and when they weren´t watching I threw the food out to the dog. My companion put his sandwich that had blood on it in his bag. We found away to get out of there and went home and made PB & J´s, which have never tasted so good!

Another story is yesterday we arrived at a lesson 5 minutes later than we planned because we were clapping doors. (people clap at the front of houses instead of doorbells) When we arrived at the house the investigator told us that a new kid who is 14 years old had just tried to stab her. He was drunk and if we would of been there she said it would of been crazy. I am glad we were late and not there.

On a happier note. . . . In the conference I forgot to write and tell you that I met Elder Beckstead, whose grandparents (Neil and Lee Beckstead) live in my ward. There is a picture of him and me in the pictures I am sending. 
Well goodbye again and have a great week!
Love, Elder Smart 

Is it safe to cook on a space heater? I don't think so!!!
Elder Beckstead and Elder Smart (Neil and Lee Beckstead's grandson)
Elder Smart
Elder Smart and his district
P-day basketball

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 29 - a cappella

Hello this week has been just full of lessons which I love :) because it is cold outside haha. But in a lesson we stood up to leave from our investigators house and he just started crying. He gave me a big old hug! It was nice. He also talked to us about how as he was reading the Book of Mormon. He read about missionaries and it clicked to him that we are here so far from home to help people just like him. He said that what we are doing is very important to him and he thanked us. It was one of our member friends birthday and he is not exactly the most wealthiest and he has a big family. So Elder Gabriella and I went and gave him a soccer ball and oh my goodness he was happy!! It was just a great feeling :)

And another experience that happened yesterday is that I had to direct the music in church just like I always do ever since Elder Black left, and in church there was only 9 people and the president wasn’t there so
we didn't have a radio to play the CDs. Well we sang a cappella.....needless to say it was me in front of everyone singing a solo more or less haha I will never ever forget it.

I will write more next week I promise and I hope all of you who are starting school enjoy it ha ;)
Con amor Elder Smart

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 28 - Another transfer in Federal

Hello everyone!
I Just found out that I am staying here in Federal....again.. I like it here but I am just wanting a change of scenery because I have knocked every street here. Oh well, there is a reason why I am here.

This week we went to Concordia for a district meeting and then returned to Federal. The very next morning we received a phone call telling us to go to the mission home for my companion to do his paperwork. So we ran out and canceled our appointments for those few days that we would be gone and took off for the 10 hour bus ride to Rosario.

While there I received a package from my loving mother. Thanx for the PMG MINI, everyone was way jealous. It is in color which is amazing because I have only ever seen it in black and white. It is the best gift you can give a missionary.(thanx) Also I was there at a good time because I got to eat pizza with President Giuliani and the other Elders in the mission office. It was cool. We spent the night at the mission home and then left the next morning for the 10 hour ride back home. It was pretty hectic having to pick up and leave to Rosario but it was OK. In a terminal I contacted 3 kids who have 20 years and are from England. It was really sweet.

I just received some horrifying news that I am going to have to stand next to president Giuliani's wife and translate here talk from English to Spanish at a zone conference next
week . yikes... pray for me.

My companion said our pench is the worst living conditions he has been in since being on his mission. We are basically camping, but I am used to it by now.

Thanx for all the support.
Elder Smart

Monday, August 8, 2011

Week 27 - 6 Months

Hola familia y amigos!
I hope that all is well in the states. Here in Federal things are good! This week we found alot of new people to teach and one man that we found is great from the moment we were in his house. He said he wanted to turn his life around. He is reading the Book of Mormon and is very sincere with everything he says. When ever we leave he thanks us and begins to cry, the spirit is always so strong with him. I love teaching him. It is amazing to see how the gospel fits in perfectly with peoples lives like a missing puzzle piece.

We went to one of our part member families and when we got there we could tell that the husband who isn´t a member didn´t really want us to be there that night for what ever reason. Then we had a great activity with them where we told the whole family we were going to go on a trip to where ever they wanted to go. They chose places like Utah, Hawaii, and of course Las Vegas ha ha. Well we said that we are all on the plane heading to where they wanted to go when all of a sudden the plane starts to have difficulties and we are going to crash. We hand out pieces of paper and tell them to write their last words to who ever they want. They had 5 minutes to do so and then they folded there papers in half and handed them into us, and we put them in a box. We then explained that some how the box opened up and all the papers got destroyed. My companion tore all the papers up!! They all said they felt said that they couldn´t say what they wanted to there families.

We told them that we can´t put things off in this life because we don´t know what will happen. Then my companion gave them back their papers to them because we didn´t really rip them up. We invited them to read and many of them cried doing so. I then bore my testimony and I used James 4:14 "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow For what is your life It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth." At the end of the lesson the wife asked her spouse who he wanted to pray and he said "Vos mi amor?" and she said "Si mi vida" Sorry I had to describe it in Spanish because it is just so much cooler ;)

When we left the spirit was so strong there.The next day at church the hermana bore her testimony of the experience and said after we left they sat around the table and spoke just like an eternal family. When usually on a Saturday night they are off doing separate things. It was a great experience to be apart of. It is amazing that I have been gone for 6 months already. I love my mission and every experience I have had, the difficult ones and dangerous ones too ;)

I want to end with a quote by mother Theresa. Hope you like it!
Love, Elder Smart

People are often unreasonable, Illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, You will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, People may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, Someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, They may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, People will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, And it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, It is between you and God; It never was between you and them anyway.
– Mother Theresa

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week 26 - The Testament with thirty kids!

 This week in Federal we did divisions and I was with an Elder from Chile who is awesome. On the way with him back from Concordia to Federal we were just sitting on the bus and we had just gotten on the freeway when all of a sudden CRACK CRACK! We were sitting toward the back of the bus but we found out that someone had thrown two rocks the size of my fist at the bus and shattered the two huge windows in the front right size of the bus! They card boarded it up and we were on our way. haha Then the next morning we were studying when it sounded like someone was throwing rocks at the house and then it got louder! We went and checked the window and went outside and hail the size of quarters was coming down. It was so funny to see all the animals running around for cover. haha

We went and found some great new people to teach it was a really a spiritual day. Three people during three different lessons cried during the message we gave. People all have there different problems but they all find one common remedy in our savior and Father in heaven. It is amazing to be one of these people to deliver the good news that people search for.

We had an activity in the rama. (Ward) We watched The Testament with 30 little kids we invited from the neighborhood. It was chaotic but really good also. Then on Sunday I taught the priesthood lesson about keeping the Sabbath day holy and how our Savior has prepared the sacrament for us and I compared it to how our mothers make meals for us and how they feel when we don´t show up ;)

A member in our rama told us her conversion story and what happened. When she was working at a building rental office a coworker told her there was an Elder at the church who looked just like Leonardo DiCaprio from The Titanic, so all twelve of them went to church to see him. She liked the ward but didn´t get to see the missionary because he got transferred. The ward invited her in though with open arms and now I would say she has one of the strongest testimonies in the rama. So always keep an eye out at your wards    because you never know what will happen with one of the people you choose to befriend :)

Thanx for all the love and support!
Con amor Elder Smart

Monday, July 25, 2011

Week 25 - Protect Your Family

This week I spent alot of time on a bus going to Rosario to fill out some paperwork. It was great to study and listen to conference talks. While we were in Rosario we ate at McDonald's which I have never been so excited to do because there are not alot of them in Argentina and it was a very rare opportunity! While at the offices I helped do a little paperwork and talked with the Elders there. I Got to see the President of the mission also which is always great. I was there with just my companion. Usually more people would be there but we got there late because we had to travel so far. So I just missed seeing my old companion Elder Winger :(

Then when it came time for us to go we couldn´t say no to going to Burger King :) (food is my weakness) Once back in Federal we had a Family home evening with some members in our ward. The dad however is not a member, we had homemade pizza and at the end I shared a scripture about protecting your family (Alma 43:47) We closed with a prayer and he asked us when we could come back which his spouse later told us never has happened! Then the next day he showed up at church with his family :) It is great to see the way that scriptures can effect people.

Thanx for the support.
Love, Elder Smart

Alma 43:47 – And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Laminites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week 24 - Ice Cream for the kids!

Man it is hard to think about what to write because so much happens in one week. This week we had a family night with a member family. We watched Prophet of the Restoration. I have missed watching that ever since I left the MTC. We have been working with the members alot this week and it is so fun to talk to the little kids. ha ha They are so funny. They think of us missionaries as people from different worlds, but then when I start to sing along with them a song they laugh and start to love us back as people ha.

Me and my companion bought two young member kids ice cream this week and they were so grateful for it! It was like we took them to Disneyland! It reminds me of how fortunate we are in the states with the things we have.

Spanish is coming along but the thing I don´t like is that I cant express myself exactly how I want because they have different kinds of sayings here. I am learning them though but I feel like an old man trying to learn the slang of young kids hahaha.

Well love you all Thanx for everything!
Elder Smart

Monday, July 11, 2011

Week 23 - Meeting Pres. Giuliani

Hello everybody!!

This last week has just been full of excitement! We had transfers and so literally the whole week I was running around because after transfers we had a meeting that was 5 hours away in Santa Fe. It was with our new mission President. He is amazing and so is his wife. At the conference I got to see a lot of my friends from the MTC, which was great because I miss them a lot.. We traveled back home that night to Entre Rios and all 9 of us Elders where standing on the curb waiting for our bus. All of a sudden an Elder took of running, and yelling saying "that´s our bus!" ha ha We all ran 200 yds in our suits to catch the bus and we did. People in the streets probably thought we were secret agents ha ha.

Every single day I pray that some one will come and ask us about the gospel because that means they are ready to listen. Well, what happened yesterday after church is that we were cooking and we got a knock on the door and I answered it. It was a young man and he asked me in English about what we believe! In English! Ha A miracle for me because I was more then happy to do it in English. We have scheduled to teach him this week and it is going to be cool. He is here in Federal studying medicine and has learned English from students who came here from the states. He is from Brazil.

Things are really great here and the Spanish is coming along :)
Thanx for the support Love you all!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 22 - Farewell Elder Black, until we meet again!

Aw man this week felt very long with the cold weather here and all the walking we did. It has been very rewarding though. With one of our investigators that Elder Black and I have been teaching we had a wonderful experience with teaching him about priesthood authority. Elder black taught it really well and it was like a light switch of understanding that showed on our investigators face.
He accepted a date to be baptized and he is working towards it :)

In church on testimony meeting all of the young kids got up and bore there testimonies in the way that cute little kids do. Well then this young boy named Facundo got up and bore his testimony. He is 9 and you couldn´t even see him standing behind the pulpit. He bore his testimony of his love for his savior and started to cry. The spirit in the room was incredible. It is amazing the power of the Holy Ghost, it resides in whatever place that people have a heart to feel it.

Today I found out that I am staying in the same area and that my companion Elder Black is going to a different area. I am not sure who my new companion is yet, so I will let you know that next week in my email. Elder Black is a great Elder that I have learned so much from. I am lucky to know him and I believe he will be one of my life long friends. We fought sheep and dogs and preached this gospel together. These are great memories that I will always remember. "Prepare now for the stories that your kids will one day ask you to tell them."- Elder Holland.

Thanx for all the love and support and Happy 4th of July..... I love AMERICA!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Week 21 - Ghost Town

Hello family and friends!
I hope you are all enjoying summer because it is freezing here in Argentina! People here are all talking about the American Cup, which is soon going to take place. They laugh at us because the U.S. didn´t make it into   it, but Argentina did. Also River Plate went down a division. They are now playing in the B division and people are mad because now they won´t play against Boca. It is like BYU not playing UTAH but times it by 1000!

Here we have been working with a youth who is getting prepared to serve a mission. It is really cool to see him prepare to serve. He wasn´t used to all of our walking at all. He got tired because here in Argentina everyone sleeps the siesta from about 1 in the afternoon to about 5. That makes it hard to work so we schedule time during it to have appointments already preset. We have been teaching a Young man named Lolo who is really sweet. He has come from a rough upbringing. He is reading the Book of Mormon and he says he wants to finish it before he decides to be baptized.

Another investigator that we have is Mariela who is awesome. She loves reading all that we tell her to and can´t wait to be baptized. The only thing is that she is not married and that is what we are trying to work on. She was immediately open to the gospel when we taught her and that doesn´t happen all that much. So it is a huge blessing to see her desire to know the truth.

Kids in the street all know us and they always come up and talk to us. It is really cool because before they did not really know what missionaries did and that we don´t get payed and stuff. Also, there are some dangerous people in the street that we try to avoid. There is a guy who is in the company of bad people when we talk to him and at times it is scary because I don´t know the slang words that they say. The guy we are teaching really wants to turn his life around and we are doing all we can to help.

In church yesterday we had 4 people show up because it is cold outside :/ It is sad that people are that afraid of the cold weather here. There is not even snow on the ground and there is not a soul in the streets at all. Ghost town...

People with the gospel here remind me of little kids. How they are scared to try new foods, so they are not opened to doing so. It is refreshing when we find someone who actually has questions to ask, it shows that god is truly preparing people to receive the gospel.

Thanx for all the love and support.
Love, Elder Smart

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week 20 - Conference in Concordia

This week we spent alot of time in Concordia after the conference that we had on Sunday. It was really great to attend. After we just worked all week finding new people and working with Lolo and a new investigator named Mariela. She is great, she does everything that we ask her to do. She is so funny and I hope we can help her to be baptized. We work with alot of great families here and they are all so kind and caring. I am not quit sure what else to say and so I am just going to end by saying thanx for all the support and love!

Love, Elder Smart

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week 19 - Happy Father's Day

Hello family and friends! Happy fathers day! It is cold here. Ha Ha and you are all lucky enjoying summer. I am sending the pictures I talked about last week and I hope you like them :)

This week we have been preparing for the conference that took place yesterday. Two of our investigators drove the two hours to the conference. We listened to Boyd K. Packer. It was amazing and then after our investigators watched a baptism of another set of missionaries. Someone asked them if they were planning on being baptized and our investigators said it was awesome!

That is basically it for this week but I will write more next week
Have a great fathers day:)

Elder Smart

Monday, June 6, 2011

Week 18 - "Be Mine" Justin Bieber

Hello Family and Friends,
This week has been really cool with lots of different things that I will never forget! We went and visited one of our investigators who is so funny, I love the way he speaks. We went in to see him and he told us that his girlfriend had left him. We were really concerned for him but he didn´t seem very angry because they argued a lot and she drank a lot. Now he is working on quiting smoking :) He is a great guy and I know he can do it! This week we found a little lamb and we took pictures with it, I am going to send them, I just hope the computer I am on isn´t going to be difficult.

This week we helped a less active member paint her fence and it was cool to be able to help serve someone because a lot of people are difficult and won´t let us help them. While we were painting the fence some little girls in this family were listening to Justin Bieber and it was so cute to hear them sing in English. Ha Ha They love the song called "Be Mine" I think cuz it says baby. Ha Ha They are so sweet there is a lot of nice people in this area and it is cool getting to know familiar faces here.

I want to congratulate all the seniors graduating tomorrow! Time seems to fly right passed!
As always thank you for all the support!

Love Elder Smart

Monday, May 30, 2011

Week 17 - Crazy Sheep

This last week went by very fast, we worked hard and time seems to zoom right by. I started reading the New Testament and it is amazing actually studying the ways things took place with the Savior. People here when we talk about the Savior for some reason they feel obligated to say all they know about him. It is interesting to hear what people think but also to hear a different opinion.

We contacted a man and a woman and they are really nice. They invited us over for lunch and when I blessed the food the man asked me to bless him that he could stop drinking. So I did and after we said amen he poured himself a glass. He is really interesting. He was in the war here in Argentina and he has alot of cool stories to tell. Also we found a couple and the husband is blind and the wife is sick. She said she has everything but cancer. They are evangelical and they pray so sincerely, it was really cool. They loved our message though and told us to come back whenever we wanted to.

We contacted a young man named Lolo and he is so interested in everything we have to say. He is a great guy and I hope he keeps his interest in the church. Our investigators always give us clementines and I like to give them out to kids on the street. People find it hard to look passed the suits we wear. They don´t realize we are humans. People think I am thirty and when I tell them I am 19 they don´t believe me at all. People try to take advantage of us in shops. Elder Black was buying something and the man in the shop tried to charge him double the price than the item actually was.

The sheep that attacked us before is crazy. It always is trying to ram us now and we have to run from it or we have to wrestle with it and I normally choose to wrestle it. I grab it by its hair and chuck it. Everyone in the area around our house doesn´t like it and it is gonna hurt someone one day when I have to leave this area.

That is what is happening with me. Thank you for all the support!
Love, elder Smart

He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.-Matthew 10:39

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Week 16 - 1st Transfer, Staying in Federal

Hello everyone!
Well my first transfer is now complete and looking back on it it has zoomed right past! I am staying here in Federal with Elder Black. I like it because we have a chance to keep teaching our same investigators. This week we have had a bunch of cool experiences! On Sunday we had 12 investigators at church, which was the most in the whole mission. It was really cool to see all these great people experiencing church for the first time.

We went over to one of our less active members house to see how she was doing because she was pregnant. We had helped make a crib for her. When we got there we found out that she had her baby boy just 5 days before! His name is Gabriel and he is so cute. Babies truly are miracles that have just come from the presence of our Father in Heaven. Next time I go over I will get a picture of him and the crib.

We went to one of my favorite members house and we taught Salidad who is progressing. When it came time to leave they told us to watch out for obison! Well obison is a myth in Argentina and he is basically a werewolf. People here actually believe in him. It is crazy and kind of creepy. One of our neighbors who we bought alparagatas (Toms) from has an animal called a carpincho. That is me holding it in the picture. They are funny little things. The man said they grow to be like 400 lbs. That one is only 2 months old though.

Everyone says the first transfer is the the hardest and there is a poem that I really like that I would like you to look up if you get the chance! It is called "The Oak Tree" by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr. I hope you like it :)
Thanx for the support!
Love, Elder Smart
Carpincho (Capybara in English)

The Oak Tree
by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.

A mighty wind blew night and day.
It stole the Oak Tree's leaves away.
Then snapped its boughs
and pulled its bark
until the Oak was tired and stark.

But still the Oak Tree held its ground
while other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
"How can you still be standing Oak?"

The Oak Tree said, I know that you
can break each branch of mine in two,
carry every leaf away,
shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,
growing stronger since my birth.
You'll never touch them, for you see
they are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn't sure
of just how much I could endure.
But now I've found with thanks to you,
I'm stronger than I ever knew.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Week 15 - First Zone Conference

Hello family and friends!
This last week has been really hard, but really rewarding! We went and taught the Baldez family and the mom told us that she had a dream. In the dream she felt the love of our church. Then when we taught the lesson she cried and she said she would be baptized and so did the rest of her family! We invited them to church and we went to pick them all up and they were all waiting ready to go! We couldn´t have picked a better week for them to come to church, because it was Rubins (the 2nd counselors) farewell and everyone was really emotional including the family we brought with us. Rubin is going to serve in brazil and will make a great missionary, first one out of Federal. Rubins siblings are all members except for one brother and his parents.They are the parents of the kids who helped us teach Salidad before. We are going to start teaching the parents and if we can get a few things worked out with their lifestyles I think they will be baptized!

I had my first zone conference this last week and it was good. I didn´t understand everything but it was still good. It was my first and last meeting with president Villalba, he is really nice. It is sad I didn´t get to know him very well. Yesterday was the River vs Boca soccer game and everyone is a fan of one of the two teams. I felt like it was BYU vs Utah, but it was way more intense. The streets were empty and when Boca scored everyone yelled! When Boca won and the game was over, Boca fans were so happy they cried and they ran outside and started lighting off fireworks. It was crazy! I have decided that I like River, so elder Wells no pressure on what team to pick because you have to pick.

I am going to send pictures of animals that I have seen, but I don´t have one of the spider that I saw a few days ago. It was so big it should be paying rent at our apartment. It was as big as the palm of my hand! The picture with me and other kids is with Pablo, who is deaf. (he is on the far right). The one with the bird is at a members house in Concordia and the family has 14 kids. The kids let the bird pick at their teeth...I think I am used to all the dogs running around and people starring at me finally. And the spanish is coming along more and more. It is difficult getting used to the ways that they speak and the words that they choose to use in their vocabulary. Some people don´t understand what I say at all and other people talk so much that I don´t need to say anything anyways. haha

Well that is what is happening here in Argentina ;) thanx for all the love from everyone!
"Upwards and onwards"- Grandma Smart

Monday, May 9, 2011

Week 14 - Happy Mother's Day

Hello family and friends!
Happy Mothers Day!! Calling home was really nice and it was great to talk to everyone. Also it was awesome to hear that Ryan gets to go to Argentina on his mission! I was sooo excited to hear that:):)

 This last week we has been really good. We have found a lot of new people to teach :) including Salidad, she is about 25 or so and she lives with a family where the kids are all members but the parents are not. We taught Salidad and the mother listened to the lesson. It was really cool. Then we went back to teach again and the mother wasn´t there, which was disappointing. It was still a great lesson and it was so great because the kids help us with teaching and when they pray or answer a question the spirit is so strong. They are only like 7-12 years old! It is awesome! Well we invited Salidad to church and she came but also, so did the mom of the family. It was awesome!

One day during the week there was a lot of Jehovah witnesses out. Probably about 30 and they were going around 2 by 2. It was kind of awkward to go door to door while they were also. Surprisingly though people said that the jw's are pushy and they didn´t like them. So they would let us in just because we were not Jehovah Witnesses. We taught a lot of cool lessons that night!

There are really great families in this area and it is always great when we find them. We are teaching another investigator named Griselda and she is trying to quit smoking. We got Alejandra who just recently quit to agree to come help us teach her and give her support! It is going to be really great. Whenever we have the help of members it is a lot of help because sometimes when people see us in
our white shirt and tie they don´t see us as normal people which is difficult.

That is what happened this last week and sorry about my short letter last Monday. Sometimes the computer that I am on is really hard to work with. ha ha

Thanx for everything!
Love, Elder Smart

Monday, May 2, 2011

Week 13 - My Pench

Hello family and friends!
Landon's Pench (House)

This week feels like it just flew right passed me! We taught a lot of lessons this week and there are people who say they want to find faith. They invite us into their homes and then they try to find fault in everything we say. It makes you feel really awful. Then next thing you know we knock on a door and there is a family and they all are so happy that we are there. They want to know everything we have to say and then they want to come to church. I know that the Lord prepares people to hear our message. That family has truly been prepared to hear from us and things are going well with them. I wish we could teach them everyday. Some people we have taught say they need to receive a dream from God, as to weather or not they should be baptized. Like Elder Bednar said, most of our revelations won´t be like light switches they are like sunrises. I have learned this week that the Lord dose not need to move mountains to build testimonies, all we need to do as missionaries is try to find those people. Sometimes they find us though. We were walking to a meeting and a man walked up to us, and normally when people walk up to us they are little kids or they are drunk old men. This man said his wife is a member and he said he was drinking that morning and wondered why he was doing it. He was walking home because he did not want to drink anymore and that is when he saw us. He wanted to stop drinking and he wants to change his life so now we are the ones who the Lord put in his path to help him!

I am really excited to talk to my family this Sunday. It is going to be really cool to hear from them :)

Thanx for all the love and support!
Love, Elder smart

Monday, April 25, 2011

Week 12 - Happy Easter

Hello family and friends!
I want to start out by saying congrats to Gentry for getting his mission call to Alabama! That is so awesome!
Also I want to say Happy Easter to everyone!
This last week has been really cool, but also kind of crazy. It rains buckets down here, but then it will all of a sudden just be way hot. The weather can´t make up its mind. I am starting to get used to the fact that people stare at me wherever I go haha. Everyone asks me and my companion to speak English and a cute little girl told me that I speak like they do on the tele! We were teaching her brother who is deaf and he just got baptized. That is probably the person that I have taught the best lesson to because we didn´t speak at all haha. We had to travel two hours by bus to Concordia last week and when we got there we contacted and no one was willing to listen to us and we were in a more wealthy area. Then we went to the door of a man named Alberto and he was so kind and he understood everything we said.It was an amazing experience, he was truly prepared for us to teach him. Then the next day in Concordia I was with a Latin companion for the day because Elder Black had a meeting. I saw a dogoargentino, they are dogs that are huge! Like rottweilers but they are white. It was scary. We went to this house for lunch and I have never seen so much food in my life. It was a members birthday and they tried to sing to her in English, it was so funny haha. Also in the week we went to eat at a members house named José. He made pizza for us and was so kind, it was awesome. The members serve us with everything they have it´s awesome, but I also feel awful eating their food. We got invited to a nonmembers house and they did a BBQ for us. The food was so good I was in heaven! But... he also had me try blood sausage. It was not very good, I ate all he gave me though! To conclude my week I was on my way out from church and there are sheep by our pench and I got chased by it and it tries to headbutt me. It is crazy. I grabbed it by its hair once and flipped it on its side and we got away from it haha. That´s what is happening with me down here and I´ll write again soon!
Love, Elder Smart

Jose, Elder Smart and Elder Black
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Week 11- First Baptism

Elder Smart, Allegandra, Augustina, Elder Black
April 18, 2011

Hello family, after we talked I got on the plane for my 9 hour plane ride. I didn´t sleep much but in the morning right before we landed I saw one of the most pretty sunsets ever. Then I got off the plane and we had to get on this little shuttle and we all didn´t fit on it so me and 4 elders, I didn´t know got in some little tiny car to drive to the mission home. We got there in 5 hours and the shuttle that i almost got on, got lost and arrived 3 ½ hours after we did. It was way lucky for me! Then we had interviews and spent the night there. We woke up the next morning and played some futbol and me being the big white kid got picked last haha but i held my own. Then in the afternoon I met my companion, Elder Black. He is from Idaho and everyone told me even before I met him that he was the best at speaking Spanish, in the whole field out of the shanky missionaries. (shanky=American) He is really cool and talks way fast. We then got on a bus for 9 hours to go to our area of Federal and it is pronounced Feder-all, not Federal like a prison. I already made that mistake. The buses here are so sweet and nice, they all have like lazy boys on them it is nice. We arrived at our pench as they are called at about 11:00 and Elder Black said it is a nicer pench than other missionaries have. To me it is ghetto and not really clean. My area is just full of poverty. It is like a combination of country and city. There are dogs everywhere and I mean everywhere. Most of them are nice, some bark but never bite, but once my companion said I almost got bit but I barely dogged it. It is crazy, everyone here wears “Toms” and here it is almost a symbol that you are poor. In the states rich people wear them. Me and Elder Black are the only missionaries here, within about two hours and I am not sure where Elder Winger is exactly? (MTC Comp) On Thursday we taught Allegandra and her daughter Augustina and we asked them to be baptized and they agreed. All I can do is bare my testimony, but Elder Black is a good teacher. He is the only person I speak English to and he translates stuff sometimes because people talk so fast. Well then on Saturday we had the baptism and it was cool. I got to baptize them I had to memorize the blessing in Spanish and now I will never forget it. On Sunday it rained really hard and people kind of used it as an excuse not to come to church and the streets are empty. So it feels like I am playing Call of Duty or something with the dogs everywhere. Since there wasn´t a lot of people in church it was good for me because I had to give a talk. I think people understood me haha. Elder Black said that he hasn´t really done service a lot because no one understands really that we don´t want to be paid or anything. I told him we need to find people and there is a member who is going to have a baby soon and we are making her a crib and the Dad of the girl having the baby invited us over for a BBQ! I am excited because all we eat at the pench is hot dogs, pasta, rice, and cereal. We are gonna shop today. (Dad) People give us fruit sometimes and yesterday we got a huge bag of oranges. They were the best I have ever had in my life!
I am sending some pictures and I will write again soon.
Love, Elder Smart!!
I will call you on Mothers day don´t worry :)
I also met Elder Hanson who went to Brighton. I can´t remember if you told me about him? I love you!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week 9 - So ready for Argentina!

Hello family and friends,
Man does time fly. I am so ready to go to Argentina! I leave this Monday and my flight leaves at 11:00, which is better than Elder Mendels, because he had to leave at 4:00 in the morning. I got up to walk some of my zone out to say goodbye to them, so I got to say goodbye to him also. I first fly to Atlanta and I have a 4 hour layover there. So that is when I will call home. Then I get on the plane and fly to Argentina and I get there at about 7:00 in the morning. I can't wait!!

I loved conference this weekend and we all watched it. The whole MTC, in the gym, it was really cool! I loved all the talks and one specifically that I liked was Richard G. Scotts! That night after conference, so Sunday night we had a special guest spearker Vai Sikahema and it was so sweet to here all his stories. He was great! Last night we got to hear from Elder Oaks of the 70, who is a 4 star general but everyone thought it was Dallin H. Oaks who was coming. haha It was funny. I was chosen to teach the new missionaries who come to the MTC today. They choose 15 companionships from the whole MTC to do it and Elder Winger and I were selected. . . pretty crazy.
I got the Brighton book finally, and it is full of different Brighton students pictures and testimonies. When it is full it will be sent to the Sandy Institute Center. It was really cool to read and see friends that have come through the MTC! Well I might write more later on Saturday if I can, but I am running out of time! If you want to send me a letter it has got to be before the weekend, because I won't get it Monday and Dear Elders don't come on Saturday night or just send me an email!

I love you all and thank you for the support,
Elder Smart

How is Nate doing and what is Parker doing for prom? I met someone here named Elder Sumner who is going to Japan and he knows Rand and Lyndy from Hurrican. Also Wes Hoover is here going to Japan. I see Taylor Millet all the time. Maybe I will see Brad Walker before I leave! IDK Eric Hanson, but he is in the Brighton book I believe. I think Elder Wingers mom is going to get om MM but she is also sending us some scentsy spray. It's way sweet stuff. I am really excited for Argentina. I am nervous for Spanish because I am not amazing at it, but I know it will come. I hope I can transition to there smoothly, I am very excited though! i love you so much and i can't wait to talk to you. I love you mom and I will talk to you soon and I hope to hear from you soon. love Elder Smart

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Week 8 - Dang sweet week!!!

Family and friends!

This week was pretty dang sweet. We were in class and an MTC cordinator came in and announced to our class that we needed to get our most boring tie, clean the classroom, and polish our shoes (which I already do. Thanx dad) because an area of the 70 was coming to see us. He is over Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina and he served in Rosario Argentina 31 years ago. His name is Elder Patania and he was really cool. He came in and talked to us with his wife for about a half an hour and it was in all Spanish. I understood everything he said, but I was too scared to ask if he knew uncle Guy. How long ago did uncle Guy serve? I can't remember. Elder Patania said the poor people in the U.S. are like the rich people in Argentina and all we can do is love them. That does more than just giving them 5 pecos. It was a great experience!

We get amazing talks every single Sunday and Tuesday night. It is really making me look forward to watching all of General Conference and taking alot of notes. I am gonna take a pillow to watch it in our big gym, because the chairs are so painful after 2 hours of sitting there. My district is awesome and all 8 of us are going to sit and watch it together. All of them have strengthened my testimony so much. We are going to be life long friends I can tell. In a talk we received, the speaker said we didn't decide to serve a mission in this lifetime but we decided in the pre existance and that is amazing to think about. This is a different learning experience than I have ever had and I encourage anyone who is thinking about going, to do it. Do it for yourself and then you will lose yourself I promise. Also, lately everyday I have been trying to write down a miracle a day that I see or happens and it has given me so much appreciation for things.

In gym people get hurt all the time. Elder Stromberg in my district got a broken nose and a concussion. People are different when they step in the gym, it's so funny. Elder Winger on Monday is going to go to the hospital to get a planter wart removed, I am going with him and I am praying for j dogs!! I also might have an inside connection to get one here. I have seen old friends here like Eric Hawskins and Alex Eliason from Oakdale, it is cool!

Spanish is coming along really well, I think. I am a little nervous for Argentina but I can't wait! Apparently there is fruit everywhere and you can just eat it (lucky huh dad?) and there is armadillos and I am gonna catch one and paint it like a soccer ball :) Thanx for the letters Colton, they are great I remember having two brothers though, haha Parker are you going to prom? You better be!! Becky is still free I think! :)
I love watching the movies on Sunday night like Legacy, the Joseph Smith movie. and The Testaments. Everyone laughs at the same parts in them and it is great, but they are also amazing and I am always gonna watch them every Sunday, even when I get home from my mission! Look on, they have a thing called "I'm a Mormon" and Stan Checketts is on there. He is elder Wingers dads boss (he makes rollercoasters) Also, look up New Years Resolution, it is in a cafe and it is about not looking back. They are all videos, they are so sweet!

That is what's happening with me I love you,
Elder Smart

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Week 7 - On the back nine

Hi family and friends ,
The MTC seems to be taking forever now that I am on the back 9 of it. I can't wait to get to Argentina and meet people, play futbol, and get lost in the work! That is exactly what I need right now. I am hoping an apostle or general authority will come and speak to us at a devotional before I leave. Even if they don't at least there is general confrence to look forward to and I can't wait for it. I am going to listen to it all in a different way than I ever had before, because I need guidance for what to do because I am trying to live every message that is taught to me. I am gonna miss going to Wingers with my dad and brothers and miss going to grandmas after and hearing all my relatives testimonies and experiences from their missions. I'm starting to lose weight here because none of the food here sounds good anymore, so i don't stuff my face like I would with my moms food! mmmm raclette sounds so good to me always. All the missionaries in my district hear about the kind of cook my mom is and they all want to come over and see for themselves. In a devotional last night the speaker sister Costa said focus on being a missionary because you have your whole life ahead of you to be a returned missionary. I love that! and I am learning to apply that to my mission. There is a quote on a video we watched and it says "we see ourselves in terms of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, but the lord sees us as forever. I feel myself changing and seeing a different importance in life and I love it. I used to look at football as being really important but now it is just something I did. The church is what I am. I need to be informed of what is happening in march madness I just want major game scores and stats from Jimmer Fredette. I don't need huge articles haha. I have met so many new people in such a short amount of time. I look back and it is amazing how close I have grown with these missionaries in such a short amount of time. Everything is going really well here and I can't wait to be in Argentina!! Keep me posted on what's going on at home. Ii love you all and thank you.
Elder Smart

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week 6 - Zone Leader

Hey family how is it going?
Spanish is looking up I think I just need to keep trying to speak it and it will start to come along! I am so sick of the food it is nasty, haha, but oh well. I love gym time because my district is so awesome. How districts work is there is like 8 to 10 elders in a district and then there is like 5 or 6 districts in the branch or zone. So I am the zoneleader of the branch and I have to keep everything in line in the residence hall which isn't that bad. It is so weird that when I got here there were elders in my district that I didn't like at all, but now we have all grown together through trial because the MTC stands for the mistakes and trials center. (jk) I love hearing all the stories here and seeing old friends like Eric Hawskins from elementary school. I also met an elder named Joel Clark who knows TJ pretty well. My companion knows Cache Guzzy and also Trevors roommate knows Chase, but I can't remember his name right now, sorry. There are some new elders here and they are really nice, but the district who got here just before them is a pain. They are all kind of crazy in the weirdest of ways.... the district that got here a few weeks before us left for San Jose today and I had to wake up at 4:30 AM to help them leave, because I am a zoneleader. I told them all about Chase and then Chase has just recently been assigned to be a trainer and I bet he gets one of them. It should be awesome!

Sorry I accidently hit send. I got grandma and grandpas letters and will write you soon. I have been cramming for time here because there is so much to do always. I have seen Elder Brett Gant here and I got a picture with him and I will send it soon. I am just kind of waiting to get more pictures first. Should I send a cd of my pictures? Also, I see Elder Danny Hanna alot which is pretty sweet. I can't wait for Argentina, they have sweet people from what my teacher says. He said everyone thinks Americans are FBI so he would always pretend to have a microphone in his shirt colar. They play soccer a ton, so I'im gonna get good! (Colton) and I am going to get sweet jerseys. Also, they have Toms there (the shoes) except they aren't called Toms, I guess, but they cost 5 pecos= 1 dollar. Sure beats 50 bucks. haha. Sending things to and from Argentina is almost impossible because customs steels anything of value even if you put Mother Mary on it. Our teacher told us a mom sent a box of ties to her elder and the mail service dropped it in a lake and they received it 5 months later haha. Mom those two cards you put in my package are really cool. Do you have them in Spanish? My district really likes them and wants to know where to get them? You sent me a quote book and I already have one remember? Do you want me to send it to TJ or did you already?
I am loving the mission, sometimes it is hard but I am growing from it. There is a quote that says "the only desire we need to have is that we are better tomorrow than we are today, God doesn't expect an acorn to be a mighty oak before it is a young sapling." Thank you for the support, upward and onward. Love Elder Smart

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Week 3 - No one said this would be easy

Hey family,
The MTC is going really well and some Spanish is starting to stick. It still is a little stressful but no one ever said to me that this would be easy to do and I know that this is going to form me into a stronger man. My companion, Elder Winger is awesome. He is so funny and the other night we had to teach a lesson to other missionaries and the topic was addressing their needs. I felt like Taylor Hartman. haha It was sweet tho and it was in English so I got to really bond with the other companionship this way. An Elder told a story about his brothers having mental breakdowns on their missions. It was great to hear the experience and the spirit was very strong. There are the most amazing people here and I wish I could get to know every single person. There are a lot of Elders and Sisters in my zone who are going to San Jose and they are really nice. I got to see Brett Grant and his companion and they are so funny because Brett is so small and his companion is big, but really nice. The food here is all tasting the same and I talk about getting a j-dog everyday (hint mom) but i can't go get one. I see a lot of kids I know and it is sweet. Apparently there is a Brighton book that floats around here at the MTC and you write in it and you put a picture of yourself in it. I heard Davis Esplin is in it and I will probably get the book soon from Elder Merkley! At the MTC bookstore they have tons of stuff to get and it is 40% off so young men preparing for missions don't stress about getting every little thing because it is cheaper here any way. I am hoping there is an apostle coming here soon for a devotional because there hasn't been one for awhile. Devotionals are awesome! Last night there was a photographer going around during the devotional and they announced he is taking pictures for an article about the MTC that is coming out of time magazine! Pretty sweet I know :) Last night the topic was planting seeds to convert generations. There was a story about how a man gave the biggest donation the church had ever received and he wasn't even a member. He did it because of his love for the Book of Mormon. He just never got around to joining the church. All because a seed was planted his family all joined the church. Amazing the power of the Book of Mormon
I love you all so much,
Elder Smart

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Week 1 - My first p-day

Hey mi familia!
It is my first pday here and it is going good so far! My companions name is Elder Winger or Tanner Winger. You can facebook him. He is from Smithfield Utah. I will send you pictures very very soon. Here at the MTC it is really spiritual and nice but at the same time it is so hard. I get really down on myself when it comes to learning the language but oh well I gotta get over it! Elder Winger makes me laugh so much he loves soccer a lot (Colton) and he weighs 130 lbs.... he is so helpful tho, cuz he is good at espanol. In Espanol I know how to pray and I can understand a lot of what people say to me so I think I'm getting the hang of it!! Thank you all for the letters in my luggage. They meant a lot and I need a list of whose letters were in there because idk what ones I found and didn't find. When it comes to writing me write as often as you want through dear elder and through normal letters and I can respond to you through these emails, trust me it will be easier! Then I have time to read what you say instead of having to speed read in my 30 minute time period. There are days where I feel really down and then we have devotionals that come along and it speak directly to my problems. It's incredible! Here they discourage sarcasm and they make you have a clean room and tons of other stuff.... Parker and Colton I would describe it as living with dad but instead of having him tell you what to do you are just expected to do it. But here you find out why doing these things invites the spirit. So I guess dad is still just a missionary! Parker and Colton you need to send me dear elders and hand written letters! Parker your letter that was in my bag made me cry with laughter I was dying. and Colton I couldn't find yours if there was one in there.....? uncle guys was awesome and it is crazy Jerry Sloan retired! You need to keep me posted on stuff using dear elder like how many points my brothers are dropping in basketball!! Do it tonight before seven and I can get them tonight or tomorrow just know they print them at 7:00 every night but Sunday! Thanx for your package mom and I am getting fat from food here I think so I am trying to stop eating as much at the cafeteria. Mom I would love for you to send me some sweet awesome ties if you would have Parker help he has some good taste. Everyone has like 50 ties haha also send me tons of pictures that express what I like from home cuz apparently Argentinians love knowing that missionaries have actual lives that they live. So a picture album of friends, family, sports, and stuff about me would be great. Thank you. I also may need some 3d white toothpaste again mom! I wish you all could be here and experience everything that I am!! There are so many miracles that I used to overlook and now I am trying to open my mind to notice them! I think all my visa stuff is going to work out fine mom :) I am reading the book of Mormon again and I started on Tuesday and I am doing 18 pages a day so I can finish in a month! I'm doing it twice while I am here! I love you guys so much and I can't wait to see you all again! Parker you better wait for me! I wish I would of held onto you guys longer when I said goodbye, but it's OK! This is the time about when I will be sending emails on Wednesdays! I love you and hope to hear from you through dear elder tonight or tomorrow or whenever you're not busy!
Elder Landon smart