Monday, October 26, 2015

Pics from this week

Just a cool pic of the countryside in Northern Spain

/Zone Conference in Leon a couple weeks ago.... Notice Elder Morris!

Week 4 in Valladolid

Hola Familia y Amigos :) 

Can't quite believe it's Monday again. Is the time going by as fast for you guys as it is for me?! It's a little freaky, but I'm loving it here!! Alrighty here's my week in review :) 

Tuesday, we went to visit the Family of Stefan. I was so excited to go back and be with my family away from home! We got to Matapozuel, went to the "grocery store" and bought a ton of bread, meat, and drinks to surprise them with. It felt good to serve them, give them a good meal. I'm not sure what they eat with the little money they have, so they definitely liked the sight of lots of fresh food. Right before we started the lesson, Stefan and all the other men in the house got a phone call that one of their neighbors needed help with something, so they apologized and left. Well, it's a rule that we aren't allowed to be in a house with only women, but Stefan wanted us to stay and wait for him. Haha we were stuck in a way tough situation, Stefan insisted that we were all family and nothing bad would happen. So we said okay, and when he left, we waited for about 5 minutes then decided to just teach the Restoration to the people who were there, just the kids and women. They didn't understand much and Stefan wasn't there to help translate to Romanian, but I did download the First Vision on my iPad in Romanian, so I know they understood that part which is the most important of all. After that we just said we had to leave, so it all worked out. It was a quick visit and we didn't see Stefan after that, so I felt really bad but rules are rules. Hopefully this week we can get back and have another good visit. 

Wednesday we had District Meeting in Valladolid which was very fun. Elder Peña did a good job putting it together. After, we had more intercambios, and I was with Elder Kempf from Malaga! He's a cool dude, and speaks really fast Spanish. I didn't understand him as well as I do other people but it was all okay. We went up to his area, Ponferrada, which is a 4 hour bus ride from Valladolid. I love bus rides because it gives me lots of time to think and see more of Spain. There's lots of farm land up north and it's really pretty. Once we got to Ponferrada, we had one lesson fall through so we did some contacting until it was time to go home. 

Thursday morning we had our studies, and Elder Kempf helped me a lot with my pronunciation and the Plan of Salvation lesson. It's hard to explain to people in English, and that makes Spanish just a riot too!! So he gave me some good pointers and I practiced a lot with him. Then, I had to travel 4 hours back to Valladolid by myself! A little scary but it was good, lots of time to think about life. If you know me, you know I love to day dream so it was a quality 4 hours :) and also if you know me, I get car sick so easily so it made it hard to read scriptures. After about the first 15 minutes I was ready to throw up everywhere so I had to turn on my air conditioner and chill the rest of the way. Once I got back to Valladolid, Elder Peña was there to pick me up at the station and gave me a big hug and said "I missed you, and I ate one of your donuts." I laughed so hard!!! Literally the funniest thing of all time haha. I have the best companion in the whole world :) 

Friday, we woke up and went to the train station again because we had a Trainer/Trainee Reunion in Madrid!! It was at the MTC and I was so excited to go home!! I love Madrid so much and I miss it a ton. Walking onto temple grounds again was possibly one of the greatest feelings of all time!! I saw 2 of my old maestros, it was so awesome! We received lots of good counsel about how to use our iPads effectively, how to make companionship study better, and lots of other stuff. President Pack said that all the new missionaries looked a lot more tired than the day when we left, which is so true! Walking around all day takes it out of me, and I'm so surprised at night when we get back to the Piso that my feet are still attached to my legs. They hurt so bad :( but it's all good, they still work and that's all that matters. So Friday was a little throwback, I rode the metro again and I saw a bunch of the current missionaries in the MTC! I was able to hopefully comfort them a little and tell them that it's sad to leave there but the field is awesome too. If I can do this, anyone can do this :) 

Every Saturday morning, we teach an English class en la capilla. It's a quality time! The two men, Julio and Alfredo actually have quite good English so we pick a different subject every week and then see where we end up when the time is out. It's usually really far off of where we started! The others are still working on the basics, but we have tons of fun. It's a good way to share a spiritual thought and they really seem to enjoy it! The rest of Saturday was awesome mainly because I opened my SUPER MISSIONARY package and it made my whole week! I was overwhelmed with the love from all the snacks, pictures, talks, and other stuff. Super, super cool, so thanks to everyone who helped, especially my mom!! :) Sunday was good, Stefan brought 10 family members to church and we picked up another investigator named Michael! He is 15 and his mom is inactive but older sister Nicole is active and loves to hang with the missionaries. We have eaten at their house a bunch. Michael has just a few problems we are trying to work through but Elder Peña and I have a good feeling we can get him ready to be baptized! He loves to beatbox, so whenever he sees me he shows me what he has been working on. It's so funny haha we always have good laughs together! 

Sorry there aren't a ton of way spiritual experiences this week, sometimes you have weeks like these. The spiritual thought for this week happened on Wednesday during District Conference. One of the Hermanas gave us all a picture of the Savior with a quote on the back from Gary E. Stevenson. It says "You have the Savior of the world on your side. How can you fail?" It's soooooo true! I feel like some days there was nothing that went right. We had no luck contacting, no lessons to teach, and the day feels like a failure. What's important for us to remember is that Heavenly Father is proud of us for trying. As long as we are doing our best, there's no way He will let us fail. In the end, we know who will come out on top. 

Thanks for the letters, packages, emails, and prayers. You have no idea how much it helps! Have a wonderful week :) 

Con Amor, 

Elder Brady Craig Smith

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pics from Valladolid this week

Elder Galeano and I

cool graffiti again haha 

my newest p-day purchase... and more graffiti :)

me and the family of Stefan.. he is on the far left 

more dope graffiti haha

Pics from the MTC

This lady is my first investigator.
We met her in the park in the same place two weeks in a row!!
Her name is Maria... legit!!

Our Zone

Brothers gotta sing!!

My Boy THam

Another Week :)

Hola Familia y Amigos! 

Another awesome week in Valladolid! It picked up a bit finally which is nice. I'm starting to get the hang of things too. Elder Peña and I become better friends each day and I can already tell another hard goodbye is coming, but I don't like to think about it. Okay so here's a little bit about my week...

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday we ate with members which was awesome! We had food from Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador! Elder Peña went nuts when he found out we were having the Peruvian Dish haha. It's really nice to not have to cook for yourself every meal, and I always try to help clean up but they freak out and make you sit back down and eat more food haha. It's hilarious!! And they just keep bringing the food out. I couldn't believe it!! 

On Wednesday, we had our District Conference in León, so I got to see Elder Galeano again!! I was so happy! He's seriously like my older brother, we talk on the phone a lot just about our experiences that we have and I love it. Also, President and Hermana Pack came so we had interviews which went awesome. President Pack is legitimately one of the coolest guys I have ever met. He delivered a letter to me that was sent to the mission home, little did I know it was from Brad Wilcox!! I was so excited! He just wished me luck and told me to love the Spanish people. Definitely a highlight of my week! Wednesday night we had a lesson with a guy from Russia who speaks like 5 languages. We gave him a Book of Mormon in Spanish and Russian and talked a little about it. He thinks all religions are equal, so we kinda agreed that he wouldn't progress. Plus, he was smoking the whole lesson and blowing it directly in my face, so that was awesome. He's an interesting looking guy too, long gray hair...haha. 

Thursday, we passed-by an old reference of a lady named Beatriz. She was born and raised in San Francisco but has lived in Valladolid for 45+ years as an English teacher. She doesn't like to speak Spanish so we talked to her in English. She has a son who is now doing the same thing she did, kinda cool. Anyways, her husband committed suicide a few years ago and she does not think highly of him anymore. She kept saying "how selfish of him to leave us like this". She said if she didn't have a son who depended on her, she would have taken her own life too because she is so depressed all the time :( all I could do was testify that God loves every one of us and things happen for a reason. I shared Luke 1:37 with her (because she loves the bible) and reassured her that she could do it. Now every day I call her and see how she's doing! I want her to have someone she can trust and she loves me. Every time she answers,  she says "Elder Smith, what is up?!" So yeah, she's one of the coolest people on the Earth. She's like a Grandma that I can't hug and she loves to smoke and drink! Haha so maybe Grandma isn't the right word... Nevertheless she's awesome. I've kinda come to the conclusion that maybe not everyone is ready for the Gospel yet, but I'm not going to let that stop me from being a friend! 

Friday, holy cow Friday!! We took a 45 minute train ride to a little pueblo (town) outside of Valladolid called Matapozuel. We had an appointment scheduled with a man named Stefan, he is a recent convert so we were going to check in on him and his family. OF 18 PEOPLE. yes, you read it right. 18 PEOPLE LIVE IN THE SAME HOUSE. Stefan has 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls. So they all live with him, plus all of his grandkids and daughter in-laws. I was blown away when I saw the house, no door just a shower curtain. There are beds all over the floor with blankets and pillows, with a concrete floor. They had a tiny little stove and a little TV on a dresser in the "family room". We went upstairs to his room to have our lesson, and he insisted that we have soda and cookies, so he pulled out a jar from his cabinet, dumped all his money out on his bed, and I kid you not it wasn't more than 10 euros in change. That's literally all the money he has, and he wouldn't take no for an answer, so his daughter went to the street vendor and brought us back snacks. I was speechless. All he wants is for his family to hear what the missionaries have to say, and maybe something will spark. I forgot to mention that they are from Romania, and only Stefan, his oldest son, and wife speak Spanish, the rest speak Romanian. So they had to translate for the other 15 people in the lesson. It's about 90 euros for Stefan to bring his whole family to church which obviously he can't afford, so he brings just 2 or 3 family members a week. His most prized possession is his Book of Mormon. When Elder Peña and I left, we both agreed we are going to do everything in our power to help this family. I wish we lived closer than a 45 minute train ride away because I would spend every single day there if I could! We've made plans to go back several times and I'm seriously so excited :) there's a special place in Heaven for Stefan. 

I found out yesterday at church that in the Valladolid Branch, there are 435 members. Guess how many of them are active? 80!!! Needless to say, we have work to do :) Thank you everyone for all the hand written letters and emails!! I feel the prayers and support every single day and you'll never know just how much it helps. Missionary work is hard, tiring, and yet the most rewarding thing I've ever experienced. Once you meet the people you were sent to find and teach, you can't think about anything else!! Well, that's all for this week, sorry it's superrrrrr long again. 

I love you all :) 

Con Amor, 

Elder Smith

Monday, October 12, 2015

Semana 2 in Valladolid :)

Hello everyone :) 

So yesterday was my first real day in my own ward!!! How crazy!! It was so much fun and the people are so loving... I feel right at home! Anyways it was fast and testimony meeting and the counselor in the branch presidency invited me and elder Peña up to share our testimonies... I don't think that's legal but nevertheless haha!! So I don't think my heart has ever pounded more in my life... Or faster... Or I've ever had that much adrenaline!! I have been waiting my whole life to have my own ward, on my mission, and to talk to the people for the first time!! Dream come true :) anyways, I introduced myself and told them how long I'd been here and what not then I shared my testimony!! I felt pretty good about it, then after the meeting I got so many compliments on my Spanish!! I felt so overwhelmed, I really don't feel like it's good yet but people kept saying "you've really only been out for 2 months?! Your Spanish is excellent!" So that made me feel really good :) then we got to help the teenagers with an exercise about inviting friends to church which was good, then we went to the primary and talked to the kids about preparing for missions! I showed the little kids a picture of Kenna and Ellie and told them that my sisters are getting ready for missions too and they were obsessed with the picture! Haha so Kenna and Ellie, people here love you guys :) we went to priesthood which was good, we talked about leadership and then after church we had ward council and that was also good! So I was very glad we finally had a real meeting! We have lots of work to do though, but I'm so excited!! 

Okay this is like a funny and cute story, but more funny because it's weird to call my 21 year old companion from Peru cute hahaha... So, the other night I was just absolutely starving so I was in the kitchen just chowing down on tons of nachos and he walks into the kitchen and says... "You wish I have chip also?" Haha!! He was trying to say "can I have some nachos?" But he doesn't know how to formulate sentences very well in English so whatever he thinks just comes out... It was awesome. So I gave him chips and cheese and he was happy :) 

So in Spain you can't knock on doors because there's no such thing as houses, so you ring the number on the keypad and they answer their phone in the apartment and decide if they want to let you in or not. So, we were going to visit an old investigator and we rang the keypad thing and the door opened without even anyone asking us who we were, which was odd. So I was all pumped to knock on my first actual door! We went in and up to the door and when we knocked, a lady wearing nothing but a bra and underwear answered the door and we were like "hi does Fernando live here anymore?" She said no and we were like okay thanks the just turned and booked it out of there!! When we got back outside Elder Peña and I just started laughing!! Elder Peña yelled "Oh my gosh!!" It was the weirdest, strangest thing that's ever happened but we got a quality laugh out of it. 

This week on Thursday, we had Zone Conference in León, so we got up really early and went to the bus station to catch our 2 hour ride. Once we got there, all the missionaries started to show up, and I found Elder Morris (Gabe)!!!!!! Holy cow it was good to see him :) Zone Conference was awesome, it was good to be with tons of missionaries again! It made me miss my friends from the MTC for a little bit but it was all good. Then after, we had "Intercambio's" which are exchanges, and my companion was Elder Galeano from Omaha. He has been out for 23 months, so he is legitimately a professional missionary. He speaks fluent English and Spanish, it was so incredible! Within the first 15 minutes of us being in the streets of León, we had already seen like 10 members and one of them took us into a bar and bought us a Coke and this really good meat, cheese, and bread! We had some good conversations with the members and tried to do some pass-byes but not many people were home, so we ended up contacting. It was so much fun to be with someone who speaks English, and not to mention he was literally a perfect combination of Kyle Peay and Uncle Jed, who happen to be 2 of my best friends! So Elder Galeano was the bomb. Literally intercambios were so incredible and I was so happy to serve with one of my new best friends now :) I want to be just like Elder Galeano, he can get just about anyone to talk to him and he understands what they need perfectly!! when I gave him a hug before my bus ride back to Valladolid, I started crying because I didn't want to leave him (I'm kind of a baby and I cry a lot) and because he was just such a good example to me in the short 24 hours we had together. 

Sorry my emails are really long, but there's so much I want to tell you all about! I am loving it here :) I learn so much every day, i know that Heavenly Father is watching out for all the missionaries in the world. He has people prepared for Elder Peña and I to find and every day we walk around in Valladolid talking to everyone. Elder Galeano shared something with me that I want to share with you to finish... “Lots of days you feel like you have no success. The mission is not easy nor was it ever meant to be.” He invited me to look for the positive things in every day, whether it's you learned more Spanish or held the door open for someone and had a small conversation with them. Focus on the positive that you have in your life and you will be much happier :) 

I love you all tons and tons, thanks for reading this far, I promise I'm done now. 

Elder Brady Craig Smith

Pictures from this week

This is our church in Valladolid

Love American World Store
There is this little store called American World where I got all this food..... Mainly Reeses/Peanut Butter/ and Mountain Dew:) I was in heaven.... best 20 Euros I've ever spent

Elder Morris and I at Zone Conference in Leon!!

I had to leave my mark in Leon somehow.....:) Just kidding
Just me on my train!

 Spain has the coolest graffiti in the whole world... I love it so much

Mr. Poppers Penguin

Okay so I've started a tradition on Sunday's, I only wear ties that remind me of you guys so every 1st Sunday of the month, I wear the red tie, it's the "dad" tie. Every 2nd Sunday, I wear the orange "mom" tie. Every 3rd Sunday, I wear the yellow "Kenna" tie. And every 4th Sunday, I wear the purple "Ellie" tie. And then if there's 5 Sunday's, I wear the Jed tie so it doesn't throw off our rotation haha. Cute right?!?! Haha love you guys. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Our Piso

We have a cool shower, the water comes out of the ceiling ha ha ha

Yes this is the washing machine in our kitchen!

View from the balcony

Okay so we have a grocery store right across the street so we are fine with food and stuff :)  It's called mercadona.  I did laundry yesterday and my clothes are still hang drying haha.  

First Week in Valladolid!!

Hello everybody

I am finally in the mission field!! It's so cool to be here in Valladolid!! It's a pretty good sized city, not as big as Madrid but President Pack said maybe about 200,000 people?? It kinda reminds me of a mini NYC but the Spanish version. So, I'll start by talking about one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life..... Say goodbye to the MTC!! Holy cow who knew that would be so hard!! I figured out why they have an MTC to train missionaries. Everyone there misses their families so much and so you have no choice but to pull together as a new family and help each other out. That's definitely what I learned to do these past 6 weeks. So the hardest goodbye was definitely elder Hammond... I woke up really early on Tuesday morning and helped everyone with their bags and what not. Then as we were waiting on the corner of temple square for the busses to come pick up all the Malaga and Barcelona kids, I just hugged elder Hammond and lost it haha. What a great man, brother, son, and missionary he is!! I'm so glad we had these 6 weeks together  and other goodbyes were hard too, but when the bus drove away and we were both waving to each other as he drove off, part of my heart (rhyme) went with him! Okay enough sad stuff. Psych, there's more. Just wait.

So we were bussed to the mission home where we received training on lots of stuff, and we also received our iPads! We had lunch and stuff then went back to the stake center where we met our trainers and headed off to our new areas!! There were a couple greenies that got assigned to the Canary Islands, most of the Provo mtc elders stayed in Madrid, and the rest went up north! I'm an hour outside of Madrid, so I'm not all the way north but still. My trainers name is Elder Peña and he is from Peru! He is an inch shorter than me. He doesn't really speak English but he tries to learn while I'm studying my Spanish. He has been out for 14 months and when I met him, I just wondered to myself, can I honestly do this for the next 22ish months? He expressed to me he felt a little overwhelmed because 1. He is the district leader 2. He is training an elder who knows very little Spanish and he doesn't know English 3. We are reopening an area that has been closed for 6 months 4. His sister who was 25, passed away last week from stomach cancer and 5. he is the only member in his family. I thought I had problems and I was stressed. When he told me all of this, especially the part about his sister, I started bawling. I started to think about Kenna and Ellie and I honestly don't think I could do it if that happened to them. But here's this 21 year old kid from Peru who gets out of bed every morning ready to go find the people that the Lord has prepared. I get really stressed with the language really fast because I'm such a perfectionist. He just looked at me the other day and said, "you have a grand privilege". He wants to know English so bad and he only gets an hour a day to work on it, but I have the PRIVILEGE of living Spanish every day for the next 2 years :) We were talking a little about our houses and stuff and I said mine was nice, I have my own car and room and stuff at home. Then he said his was really tiny, he doesn't have a bed, and he has a skateboard. That's it!! Seriously Elder Peña is a stud and I love him. We just finished hiking a "mountain" haha it was whimpy but it was fun. We have a good group here in Valladolid :) haha it was a bit windy today as you can tell from the pictures.

Our Piso is actually pretty nice, we have lots of space and a full sized living room with everything we need. It's on the 7th floor and we have a patio so that's kinda neat :)  We are both new to the area so it takes us a while to remember where we live haha but we get around just fine. There are some Hermana's here in the area too that live about 20 minutes from us. One of them is from Ecuador and the other from Canada, so whenever we get together I just talk to the one from Canada because we both enjoy English :) hahaha. My first night here we had dinner at the branch presidents house and it was so good! I officially have The nickname "José Smith" hahaha, he has a couple kids and they were just running around the house screaming "José Smith Es aqui,
José Smith Es aqui!"  We have been watching onference at the branch building, which I have to stream through my iPad into English haha but it's all good. Conference has a total different meaning when you are a missionary, I have taken so many notes and stuff and I can really feel the Holy Ghost helping me get the things that I need to hear. I'm praying for president monson.... :( 

This mission is not easy.  I miss Bountiful every single day, but I’ve found that when I turn my thoughts toward others, focus on improving my Spanish, and remember who I’m representing, I am much more happy.  Thank you all so much for your love and support?  Yo se que esta iglesia Es verdadero.  Estoy my agradecido for la oportunidad yo tengo compartir este evangelio con todas personas aqui in espana y Valladolid.  Yo se que vive mi senor, y Dios nos ama mucho.  Mediante la Expiacion de juescristo, podemos regresar vivir con padre celestial Otra ves!!

Much Love
Elder Brady Craig Smith
Me on the balcony of the 7th floor

Elder Pena and I

Our hike with the Sisters in Valladolid

 the "mountain"

Friday, October 2, 2015