May 24, 2013

Hey Mom and Madi!
Sorry, not enough time to email everyone, so I'll just send one to both of you. First off, my calling is keeping me crazy busy. It is the absolute busiest calling a missionary can have at the MTC. Theres 2 ZLs for about every 120 missionaries, so we have a LOT of stuff to do. About a week ago, my companion and I felt the prompting that we needed top go have a testimony meeting with one of our favorite districts. We sat down, shared our knowledge of the truth of the Gospel, and by the end we were all in tears. Afterward, one of the Elders told us that he was thinking about going home, but because of the love of the Savior he felt through us, he gained a strong testimony and is excited to stay. You can ABSOLUTELY feel the spirit every day at home. Give your Father in Heaven some of your time each day, because he has given you everything you have. No matter what's going on in your life, you ALWAYS have time for him. The second you become "too busy" for him, the spirit will cease to be with you, and satan will take his place.
I testify to you, Mae mae, that the spirit of God id the most valuable thing that we have. It has become my most prized posession. Your wierd older brother has been called by the almighty God to preach the Gospel to the poor. And as wierd as I am, I promise you that I will not let him down. I will work my hardest every single day for the rest of my mission, and for the rest of my life to do nothing but serve him. He lives. He loves you. He knows you. He wants nothing more than for you to be happy, and happiness comes only through obedience to Heavenly Father. While Elder Childs and I were talking to one of our districts the other day, we had a prompting that we needed to talk to a single Elder. We hugged him, let him know that we loved him, and that we are here for him. He started crying (and he's a big guy), and told us that he'd been praying for the Lord to help him feel loved. Through my companion and I, we were able to help him feel that love. I promise you that if you only dedicate a little more time each day to the Savior, pray sincerely, pay attention in seminary, and constantly be striving to serve others, the Spirit of God will be with you. While I have 34 more sisters now, you're still my favorite  
Don't get sucked into useless stuff at school. Don't ever let anyone make you feel worthless. Stay away from drama. Keep yourself clean. You are a sacred Daughter of God, and you know the truth of the restored Gospel. That is what's important. My biggest regret in life is trying so hard to make other people like me. Once I got out of High School, I realized how pointless all of that was. When we stand before the judgment bar of God (which will come much sooner than you think), it will not matter how many people liked or disliked you. All that will matter is how obedient you were to the commandments. Don't be afraid to tell your friends about the Church. There is no such thing as this church, that church, or that church. There is the truth, and there is not. I bear you my witness that this is the true and only true church of God. In the pre-life, you sided with the Lord. You were valiant, and stood for that wich is right. And guess what. Every other single person at East Lake High School did too. They didn't have the fortune to be born into the truth. You did. Take that gift, and spread it to everyone, because that is what this life is about. God wants every single one of his children back home, and you don't have to wear a name tag to do that (although it does make you feel way more awesome). I'm not telling you to go on a mission. That is 100% your desicion, and I'm confident that the one you make will be the right one. Just please know that you can feel the love of God every day, and that it will make you stronger. I challenge you to read a little bit more tonight, to start The Book of Mormon over again. Not at First Nephi, but at the Title page. My branch president asked me to do that 4 1/2 weeks ago, and I just finished. It is so much better that just spot reading. Read all of the chapter headings, don't skip anything. I promise you that as you do that, your tetimony will grow. Mine definitely has.
I wish I could write you more, but I've gotta get to work.
I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I have physically felt his hands bear me up when I have been too weak to stand. I know that as you walk through those cold, dark hallways at school, that Jesus Christ, your savior, is right there next to you. I know that the Temple is the House of God. I get to go every week, and it's freakin' awesome. Keep yourself clean, both in body and mind.
And stay away from boys. They're stupid
I love you sissy
Elder Smith

May 17, 2013

First off, I can't upload pictures here. Don't know why, I just simply can't format them. Ive tried. The computers here aren't exactly the ones we have at home.
If I can figure it out I'll get some to you. Please don't boycott the packages. They keep me sane. For the most part.
Anyway, the week has been NUTS! I brought in two new districts on Wednesday. As zone leaders, that involves orientation, campus tours, discussions, a ridiculous amount of running around, not getting back to the dorm until 11:00 (elders are supposed to be asleep at 10:30). Being a Zone leader is rough. We get less sleep, we're constantly running around, we have to miss class sometimes, and even worse, Gym time. It's hard.
However, we also have the wonderful opportunity to serve these magnificent elders in a way very few can. Zone Leaders make up less that 3% of the MTC. There aren't many of us. We are the ones the elders come to when they need to talk. We get to uplift them, strengthen them, and love them. In the MTC, there are no AP's. Therefore, the Zone Leaders are also the AP's. It's crazy. We solve all of their problems, we get to interview them, talk with them. The best part for me is that we get to spend a lot of time with the Branch President. He is such an awesome President. I have learned so much from him. We get to break a lot of rules, and it's weird. Last night, My companion and I were getting ready to return to our rooms for the night at 9:30, when a sister from our branch asked for a blessing of comfort. We found a small room, and gave her a blessing. The spirit hit like a brick wall. I blessed her with comfort, and I could literally feel the spirit of God coursing through my body. I am truly an instrument for the Lord. Anyway, we finished the blessing, shook hands (because there's no hugging), and departed to our rooms. The sister gave me a letter the next day, saying that the blessing was exactly what she needed, and that she felt the Lord's love for her powerfully. She said that she feels comforted, and expressed her thanks for me. I was so humbled, that a sister from my branch would come to me for a blessing, and that The Lord loves her, and loves me enough to comfort her through me. That being said, we got back to the dorms at 10:15, checked on all of our missionaries, talked to a few about problems they were having, resolved them, and finally got back to the room at 11:00.
I woke up this morning, more awake and ready to begin the day than ever before. The Lord will bless us as we do his will. I am one of the youngest missionaries in this MTC, yet I have a position of leadership and service for some who are much older and wiser than I. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve.
I love you guys so much. I was watching the Joseph Smith movie last Tuesday night, and there was a scene, after Joseph had his surgery at the age of 7, when he was trying to walk as fast as he could down a dirt road to catch up with his friends who were running ahead of him. Then, Alvin came from behind him, scooped him onto his back, and ran up to Josephs friends. It reminded me of Grant. The same thing happened at Disney. I was sobbing harder than any of the sisters in my district. And, since they saw me crying, they all started crying. It was a wreck. Also, I completely ruined my favorite tie, and I have given a few to missionaries in my district who didn't have many. But anyway, I had a very spiritual night, and I miss Grant terribly.
Well, I'm out of time. I love you all so much (especially Grant), and can't wait to call in a few weeks.
I'll try as hard as I can to upload a few pictures.
I am getting short on ties. If you could send me a few (like a lot a few), I'll be your best friend.
Also, my district says they love you (they ate my candy)
Elder Smith

The first two pictures are of Elder Childs and I in the Zone Leader robes (i forgot to tell you, there are robes that get passed down from Zone Leader to Zone Leader) and the last one is of my favorite elder in my Zone, Elder Ross.
I have promised them that I wouldn't reveal their personal informaion.
Love you. Please send some ties

Elder Smith

May 10, 2013

Hey Mom! It's finally p-day again! so much has happened!
First off, my companion and i were called to be Zone leaders! how crazy is that? We've only been here 2 weeks! We get sustained Sunday, so don't tell anyone hahaha
Now for some bad news, because of the massive amounts of missionaries at the MTC, we can't call home or skype here. Just too many people.
Also, I accidentally put the awesome sheets you gave me in the community sheet wash. I'm a genius.
Anyway, so much has happened! I'm picking up portuguese so rapidly, it's incredible. I can already converse! I could quite possibly be fluent by the time I get off my mission! Anyway, my testimony has grown so much this past week, mainly of Humility. The MTC has a funny way of taking care of pride pretty quickly.
Anyway, I LOVE YOU, and I'll be back on in an hour or two, I want to give my companion some comp time.
Talk to you in a few!
Elder Smith

Anyway, I'm just doin my laundry right now, so I've only got about 15 minutes until I've gotta switch it over.
Anyway, I got called up to the travel office yesterday, and that usually means visas. So my entire district was freaking out, and some of the sisters were about to cry. I got to the travel office, and it was crazy! I never thought that I wouldn't want to leave! I love my district, and my companion. It would stink to have to leave him. Oh yeah, my visa didn't come, I just had to re-take a picture. But yeah, it was funny. Tell me everything at home! What's going on, who's doing what?
When the Branch president extended the call to us to be Zone Leaders, he said that we were the best examples that the zone has. Also, as of yet, I haven't heard of, or seen any elder younger than me. I'm definitely in the bottom 3, maybe even the youngest. It was so humbling for me to hear that.
Now it's story time, So our teacher, Irma Pettita, is our new investigator. Elder Childs and I always teach great lessons. We prepared for hours, went in confidently. It was terrible. We didn't click, the investigator was disinterested, and the spirit wasn't there. I felt terrible. I was ttrying so hard to figure out what we did wrong, so I opened the Book of Mormon, to Alma. I realized that I was putting my trust in my abilities, not in the Lord. I failed to recognize that it is only by his power that I am able to teach. That was so humbling. I have prayed more these past two weeks than I have in my entire life. And I have come to know my Father in Heaven (Pai que esta nos ceus) so well. I know how the spirit speaks to me, and it's amazing. It feels like I've only been living half of a life. I feel whole, and I feel powerful.
By the way, you'll be recieving a letter soon from my district. Between the slingshot, the pie, and all of the crazy amount of candy, you're their favorite. They want to write and say thanks. Packages are the best things in the WORLD here. It feels like christmas. The same day you sent the pie, grandma and Grandpa sent a package, and Aunt Karen sent A BOX OF DOUGHNUTS! My district went nuts. It was awesome.
Remember when I was really upset because Dave didn't write me on his mission? I understand why. WE HAVE NO TIME! I try to find time to write all the people that have written me, and I can't even write one letter. It's crazy. Even on P-day, we have minimal time.
And that's about to get worse. As Zone leaders, we're going to be training the District Leaders, doing new missionary oreintaion, and being in a ton of meetings.It's gonna be fun, but it'll be hard. I can't wait.
Anyway, I'll be back on in about an hour (I hope)
Elder Smith

(The following letter is to Sam's friends)

Dear friends,
The MTC is amazing. When I thought about my mission, I never thought about being here, I just thought about being out in the field. But this is truly an amazing place. I was just called to be a Zone Leader, and I've never been so humbled.
If I could describe it, it's kind of like EFY, but 1,000 times better. You feel the spirit so strongly here, every day, it wears you out terribly. You live in dorms, (I'm sharing with 5 other elders), and the rooms are even smaller in some cases. The hardest thing for me here is to not call everyone "Guys" or "bro". You call everyone Elder or Sister. No nicknames. It's difficult, but it makes you feel so much more respect for everyone. I have grown so much spiritually over the past few weeks. Our branch president asked us to restart the Book of Mormon. Not from First Nephi, but from the title page. I'm already in Alma 34. It's such an amazing experience. It feels so much more like a story, I'm so invested in the characters, and how it all ends.
I would encourage you guys to go on and watch all of the Bible Videos before coming out here. They have brought me so much closer to My savior. I have prayed more in the past two weeks than I have my entire life. I know, like never before, that my Father in Heaven lives. He loves us. He wants us to be happy, and so he sent his son. I love my Savior. I know he lives. I have felt his presence right by my side throughout this entire experience, and I know that he'll be right by my side the rest of my life. I can't even begin to describe how I feel. As I have diligently read the scriptures, and prayed to my father in heaven constantly, I have felt his hand in my life so much more. I know that when we get to the point where we think we can't take any more, he will bear us up. My heart is full of the spirit, and I want nothing more than to take this light I feel to the entire world.
My teacher, Irma(sister) Pettita, is our new investigator. My companion, Elder Childs and I always teach great lessons. We prepared for hours, prayed diligently, and went in confidently. It was terrible. We didn't click, the investigator was disinterested, and the spirit wasn't there. I felt terrible. I was trying so hard to figure out what we did wrong, so I opened the Book of Mormon, to Alma. I realized that I was putting my trust in my abilities, not in the Lord. I failed to recognize that it is only by his power that I am able to teach. That was so humbling. I have prayed more these past two weeks than I have in my entire life. And I have come to know my Father in Heaven so well. I know how the spirit speaks to me, and it's amazing. It feels like I've only been living half of a life. I feel whole, and I feel powerful.
Know that the Savior has his hand in absolutely everything you do. Know that it is only through his grace and power that you are able to take every breath. The second that you fail to recognize that the Lord is the reason you've been able to accomplish something, the spirit vanishes. We are absolutely nothing. We are below the dust of the Earth. However, To God, we are everything.How amazing is that? The most powerful being in the universe, loves us beyond comprehension. We are his children.
Walking around campus, I can't help but feel that this is how the Heavens will feel. Walking down a hallway, and everyone you see is a worthy servant of God. Everyone smiles, says hello. Everyone helps each other, and no one brings each other down. There's no bad language, no hard feelings. Only the spirit. I love my companion. He is one of my best freinds.
We bear our testimonies to each other daily, we read together, we teach together, we cry together. I have never felt so close to anyone in my life.
The spirit is everything, Without it, being a missionary simply isn't possible. You must be worthy to have the spirit. You must have undying, unshakeable faith in our savior. And that faith has to be strong enough that you are willing to repent. I know that this gospel is true. I know that it is only be the spirit that we are able to effectively teach. I know my Savior lives. He is my brother, he is my best friend. I testify that when you are at the end of your rope, when you feel like you can't take any more, or when you feel like you don't have the strength to keep moving, he WILL bear you up. I have felt the saviors loving hand on my shoulder, I have heard his voice. I know he lives. I know he loves me, and I know that it is only through his love that I am able to do anything. It doesn't matter how your grades are here, it doesn't matter how strong you are, how smart you are, or how attractive you think you are here. All that matters is that you turn everything you have over to him. As I have given myself to the Lord, and have recognized his hand in all things, and have subdued my will to his, I have felt myself to be 100% devoted to his work. Everything I have, and everything I am is for him. I feel the spirit of the almighty God pulse through every fiber of my being. I feel so full  of joy, of love, and of the spirit that I know without a doubt I can do anything the Lord would have me do. He is my savior, he is my redeemer, he is my friend.
Don't be afraid of the mission like I was. This is where we are all meant to be. I wouldn't trade these past few weeks for anything. I iss you guys (when I have time to miss things), and I'm so excited for you to have this amazing opportunity.
Pop pop captain
Elder Smith

May 3, 2013

I got all of the packages, thank you for the flag! It came yesterday, and I have a thing where everytime I get a package from home, I put on my christmas tie. Livens things up a little. When I opened it, the entire district was screaming for joy! We didn't have one yet. It's perfect. Thank everyone for all of the things they've sent me. The Grant cookie was as hard as a rock, but I still have it displayed up on my shelf, along with Dad's nametag. I am learning this language extremely quickly, evet though spanish is messing me up TERRIBLY :/   I loved to hear about Grant barfing, so thanks for that.
So it's finally P-day, and IM SO EXITED TO GO TO THE TEMPLE! We're gonna take the flag and get some pictures outside. We only get 50 minutes of gym time a day, with nearly 16 hours of class, but it's ok. My companion and I excersize(?) every day, and I am sleeping like a baby. Haven't even brought out the camera yet, but I will today. The schedule here is so jam packed, it's hard to do anything extra. We can't even go out to the fields on P-day to play sports:/ I'm still having a blast though.
I have one more request from home; get the family together, as soon as you can, and go to Watch some of the short bible videos. I know that they will bring a sweet, loving spirit into the home, and increase the love you feel for our savior. It has for me. I love him more than I can explain. He is my best friend.
My schedule every day varies, but usually looks something like this...
6:30-7:00   Wake up / prepare
7:15 - 7:45  Breakfast
7:45 - 9:00  Personal study
9:00 - 12:00 classroom
12:15 - 12:45  lunch
1:00 - 2:00 Additional study
2:00 - 3:00  Companionship study
3:00 - 3:15  Prepare for next activity
3:20 - 4:10  Gym
4:15 - 4:30  Prepare for next activity
4:45 - 5:15  Dinner
5:30 - 8:30  classroom
8:30 - 9:00  Additional study
9:00 - 9:30  Daily planning
9:30 - 10:00 prepare for bed
10:00 - 10:15  Companionship study (door shut)
10:15 - 10:30 silent time/personal study
10:30  Lights out
Well, that's a little taste of my days here! iT NEVER SLOWS DOWN. By far the most draining thing is the spirit. When you feel it this much every day, it takes a lot out of you.
I had a revelation the other day while I was talking to my companion. My district thought it was hilarious (even the sisters) so you will too. We are like dogs here at the MTC. The feed us (dog food), walk us, let us run around outside for a while, we live in a cage, if we pee inside we get kicked out, and they spade(?) and neuter us the first day. It's very true, but it's never been more fun to be a dog. I understand now when people say that this is the hardest, yet most fun thing of their lives. It's difficult, It's tiring, and my brain is about to explode, but through unwaivering faith in my loving Father in Heaven, I will be just fine.
Eu sei que o evangelio e verdadeiro.
Eu sei que Jesus Cristo e nosso salvador.
Eu sei que O Livro de Mormon e verdadeiro.
Eu sei que Deus e nosso amado Pai Celestial.
Eu sei que nos ama.
Em nome de Jesus Cristo, Amem.
(By the way, Portugal portuguese and Brazilian portuguese are WAY different, sorry bro. J :)  )
Anyway, things are still great. One of the things I'm known for in my district is bringing us all together. I love to start random testimony meetings, sing hymns, and pray as a district. It has brought us all so close. They are my family, and I love them all dearly. I know that by also doing so at home, It will bring our family closer together. There might be murmuring, whining, and even gnashing of teeth at first, but in the end there will be an increase of love in the home. It has definitelty happened here. I am as far as I know, the youngest person here at the MTC, and there's 4,000 of us. It's pretty amazing. I run into Xan all of the time. She always goes "Sammy! .... or, Elder Smith!" Hahaha it's great. I love being here, feeling the spirit, and being part of such a huge family.
Funny story, so for my Portuguese class, we were given an "investigator" last wednesday. His name was Carlos. We started by watching a video of him, and then teaching him face to face. He didn't understand english, so we had to teach him in Potruguese, from day 2. We grew to love him, and most of our daily focus was towards teaching him. Yesterday, during our 1st class period, we had our last discussion with him. We committed him to baptism. It was a great feeling. During our 2nd class period, we got introduced to our new investigator, who, to our suprise, is Sister Petitta (our classroom teacher) Since she is now our investigator, we were wondering for the rest of the day who our new teacher would be. When our 2nd class period came, we all sat silently watching the door. And guess who walked in. CARLOS. He (who's real name is Brother James), is an employee here. Some of us literally thought he was legitimately portuguese. He's from Sandy, Utah. AND HE SPEAKS ENGLISH. Pretty amazing, Huh? My compainion and I just taught him the gospel a week ago, and he's already a teacher at the MTC! Hahaha anyway, that was just the strangest thing to ever happen to me.
I'm seriously LOVING the packages. Everytime mail comes, and I get a package, I feel so happy. It's my only contact with the outside world (dog). Just a sidenote, I love flags, soccer jerseys, and candy. We arent allowed to listen to any sort of music, or chew gum. Just a heads up.
Also, look up the Dear Elder program online. That's what Aunt Karen, Chelsea, and Sister Marcucci use to send me letters. They'll be able to tell you all about it.
I just feel prompted to share with you how much companionship study has brought Elder Childs and I together. We are by far the tightest companionship in the district, because we spend so much time bonding, both spiritually and through just talking. I know that this same pattern will strengthen and uplift the home. I'm not gonna lie, I haven't been thinking about home a ton, only because there isn't enough time to think here. But when I do, I think about how much closer we can be as a family, if we just read every night before bed, watch some bible videos, or simply share testimonies.
Well, my time is about up. I love you guys! I'll send pictures soon if I can figure out how to. Tell Dad, Madi, and epecially Grant that I love them. Also, give Katy a bath for me. She totally shafted me when I left, and I'm pretty sure she needs one.
I'll just close with my testimony (in English this time)
I know that God lives.
I know that he is our Father in Heaven.
I know that Jesus Christ is our savior, our Redeemer, and the bread of Life.
I know the Book of Mormon is true.
I know that Joseph Smith restored the true church upon the Earth.
I know that Thomas. S. Monson is an ordained Prophet of God.
I know that if we love ALL of our neighbors, speaking ill of no one, we WILL feel the savior's love in our lives more abundantly.
Know that all children, even the ones we dislike, chose to side with God, truth and light before coming to Earth,
and that all of them are our Heavenly Father's beloved, valiant children.
We truly make him sad when we choose not to forgive and forget. I know the Gospel is true
I say these things in the name of my beloved Savior, amem.
<3 <3 <3 <3

Got more comp time.
I kinda neglected to say how much I miss you guys! I miss being home, and I definitely miss your food (MTC food isn't terrible, but it's not great). I couldn't go to the bathroom for 4 days. Yeah. So I just wanted to say that I'm so grateful for all of the prayers, and for the packages. They always make my day! We get to go to the Provo temple today, so thatll be fun, and then it's just basically free time. I hung the Flag up in our room, and it's awesome. We put it on the ceiling, and it's awesome. I feel so much love for this country that I've never been to, it's unreal. Just found out that I'll be getting there right around Carnival, and they usually don't let the missionaries out during that time. Great. 
So I've been hearing that Visas take 5-6 months to come in, and I turned mine in earlier than anyone else in my district. I might get mine while I'm still here. That's rare, but I might. And I'm not sure if that's a good thing! I'd hate to leave my district. I've come to love these elders and sisters so much.
Anyway, tell everyone I love them again for me, and I'm thinking of you guys!
Elder Smith