Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pan con Queso

Hello Everybody!
As week four in the MTC rolls around, things are starting to move faster and faster! These last two weeks went by super fast, and it's sad for me because I feel like I only got to see Eric and the other Latino Missionaries for a really short time. There was one Latino Elder that I got to be pretty good friends with before he left, his name was Elder YnoƱan. He was super cool, and he knew a good amount of English too. He was definitely one of the nicest guys I've ever met.
To answer your question, CCM stands for Centro de CapacitaciĆ³n Misional de Lima.
Every day blurs together, so it's hard to write new things every week, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try.  SO! Every time a new group of Greenie MTC missionaries comes in, on the first P-Day the intermediate group has to escort them around. We were the intermediates last week and the others decided to leave me and Elder Wesemann, so we got to take around the newbies everywhere they wanted to go outside the walls by ourselves. It was not very fun because everything is still new to us too. Anyway, I don't think we'll have to drag other greenies around anymore, so that's a plus.
The majority of the intermediates know me by now (of course) and there really are a lot of great people here at the MTC. I can honestly see myself becoming good friends with most of them even outside the MTC.
They have a learning program here in the CCM called TALL. (Technologically Assisted Language Learning) 
I hate it. I think it's supposed to teach the language topics in an easier way, and I think it does the exact opposite. I can't use it because it's such a difficult program to use. It's definitely no replacement for an actual teacher, even if they don't speak English. (Only one out of my three Spanish teachers speaks a little English.) It's really hard to learn something so new, but I'm definitely starting to get the hang of it. I won't be thinking the same thing in two weeks when I'm out of here though. Anyway, that's fun.
It was Elder Wesemann's Birthday on the 23rd, entonces the hermanas got some brownie mix at the store, and we made mug brownies! I'm actually kinda sorry for Wesemann, because I definitely wouldn't want to have my birthday in the CCM. It'd be rather boring, having to sit in a classroom all day learning Spanish on your birthday, so I'm glad mine is circa 7-8 meses from now.
I learned something really important a few nights ago. American humor is not Peruvian humor. I'm lucky I found this out from someone else, because it would've been really awkward learning this myself. You see, Americans are known for having really harsh humor. I.E. Telling someone they're the worst, or calling them names without meaning it. The Peruvians, as well as the other Latinos take that kind of joking very seriously most of the time. I know this because one of Eric's Latino roommates got really offended because of the American's humor, so I have to be really careful of that. I'm lucky I didn't offend anybody before I knew about this. Anyway, I just need to remember to be really careful.
Entonces, today was p-day, So we went to the temple as usual. When we got out, we met a guy who had some packages for some of the other missionaries from their families. He's an American, but we found out he lives down here in Peru, so just out of curiosity I asked him if he'd ever met Nick DeWall, Liz's brother who lives in Peru. He did. Small World, right?
Anyway, I don't have any more time to write, But I love you all! Oh, and I think letters take about two weeks to get here, but I'm not completely sure. We'll find out when I get the letter you sent.
With lots of Love,
-Elder Daniel Jacob Smith

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

From the MTC in Peru

First, let me just say HAPPYBIRTHDAYHAPPYBIRTHDAYHAPPYHAPPYHAAAAAAAAAPPY BIRTHDAY, ADAM!!!!! And a very Happy Anniversary to my insanely awesome parents. ;) 

This past week has been really great for me! Not only because I'm starting to pick up the Spanish faster, but one of my very best friends, and the coolest person ever arrived at the CCM! It's the one and only Elder Eric Daniel Kidman! He got here at about 3 in the morning on Thursday. I knew he was coming, so that whole night I was anxiously waiting to see him.  Anyway, we have a new batch of Latinos now, and they're actually really awesome! And also insanely good at futbol (soccer). I have been playing futbol for the past couple of days with the Latinos, and I can honestly say I've never enjoyed getting my butt kicked more than I do while playing soccer with them. The only trouble is the field we have to play on is turf, so lots of people have gotten turf burn. Oh well, Just gotta be careful.

Somehow, I've avoided sickness so far. About two thirds of the people at the CCM have gotten sick to some extent, But I've somehow managed to stay away from it.
I can definitely feel the Gift of Tongues working with all the missionaries here at the CCM, and it sometimes feels like words I never even learned pop out of my mouth. Some words in my head have been replaced by the Spanish equivalent, and it's kinda freaking me out. It's an immense blessing to all of us here at the CCM. I am not, however going to be able to speak fluent Spanish for a good six months still, but this is a good start.

The address Elder Scott gave at the Provo MTC was broadcast to all the MTC's across the globe, so I got to see it too! Not only that, but I saw Nicole singing in the choir! It was really cool, and also an extremely good talk. I'm extremely grateful for modern day Prophets and Apostles to help guide us, and this was definitely an excellent example of that.

I want to thank everyone who wrote me emails this week. It really means a lot to me to get messages from you all, and with all your encouragement, I'm going to be able to go forth with all my heart, might, mind and strength to help these amazing people in Peru. So once again, thanks for all your encouraging emails.

On that note, real letters are nice too, winky face. It's always nice to get a solid letter, because believe me, getting one of those here is like winning the lottery to us missionaries. One of the Elders in my district, Elder Jensen, got a package in the mail the other day, and it was like it was Christmas. Everyone in the district gets excited when even one of us gets a letter. So, yeah, letters are nice. Another winky face.

I don't have a whole lot of time left, so I'll leave you all with this: Always strive to have the spirit with you. For missionaries, it's our main teaching tool, and for everyone it acts as a comfort and a guide. Nefi (Nephi in English) was led to Laban being "... led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [He] should do." (1 Ne 4:6)  Always listen to the promptings of the Spirit.

I love you all, and look forward to seeing all your beautiful faces!

-Elder Daniel Jacob Smith

P.S. Liz Smith, my shoes are definitely cuter than yours.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week 2 in Peru

Well, to start off, I've got some good news and some bad news for anyone who sent me letters. The good news is, yay, you sent me letters! You love me! The bad news is that I gave you the wrong address, so if you sent anything, I'm not going to get it for four weeks. SO! Don't send anything else to the address I gave you or I won't get it for a long time, and that saddens me. The real address is:

Elder Daniel Jacob Smith
Calle El Grifo 151
Urb. Campo Verde
La Molina
Lima 12

That's my address until I get out of the CCM, so send letters there instead. Anyone can also send me email now.  My email address is: daniel.smith@myldsmail.net.   Here are a few things I didn't talk about in my last e-mail! 

My flight to Dallas was pretty good, we had a really smooth take off, and not a whole lot of turbulence, so overall it was a pretty good flight. We met 10 missionaries in SLC who traveled with us all the way here. When we got to DFW,
we had a six hour layover, so most of the time there we spent sitting around, eating stuff, etc. When we were about to leave for Lima, we were met by 12 other missionaries, making it 22 at DFW. I got probably the best seat on the flight to Lima, and I found out Airplanes make me very motion sick. We landed in Lima at about 1 in the morning, and when we got though security and actually got to the MTC, we ended up going to bed at about 3 am. Luckily, we got to sleep in till 9 am the following morning. No luggage issues, everything got here fine.

Elders Coleman, Blackham, Weseman and Smith
My roommates, Elder Langford, Bridgewater, and Wesemann are all from different parts of Utah that I can't think of right now.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to really know my Latino roommates very well before they left today. They were  a bit crazy while they were here though. They'd stay up at night running around and screaming, and they'd do weird things like making sling shots out of exercise bands, etc.  A new batch of Americans and Latinos are coming in on Thursday, so that's exciting!

Anyway, major events for this week! The sun actually came out the Wednesday after I emailed you! There were blue skies! It was warm! It was amazing! ...until it was time for physical activity, because things got sweaty and sticky and miserable after that. I guess the clouds... have a silver lining. Ha!

Sickness in the MTC spreads like wild fire. I haven't gotten sick yet, and don't intend to so I'm being really careful about staying clean and stuff. It seems like the longer I'm in the CCM, the longer it feels sort of like a prison. At least there's only four more weeks!

Saturday was an experience for me! We woke up at the normal time, went and had breakfast, loaded onto a bus, and went out proselyting. Elder Wesemann and I went around from door to door with a native speaking guide, and tried having discussions. Elder Wesemann and I would greet the investigator, and the guide would take over from there. It did give me a good idea of how it's going to be out in my field, because we were out proselyting in my actual mission. How many missionaries can say that the went out proselyting in their mission BEFORE they got out of the MTC?

Anyway, I was struck by how poor these people are. All the houses were brick, most of them falling apart, dirt roads, garbage EVERYWHERE. Plus, there are literally hundreds of stray dogs just
wandering in the streets. Hundreds. Some sitting on street corners, others chilling on top of houses, really anywhere you can think of. It was hard to knock on doors though, because most of the houses have gates completely blocking the way to the doors. The look of everything was a strange mix of Nacho Libre and Afghanistan.

All the days mix together here, so it's often times hard to keep the days straight. The only days that are different are Sundays, when all we do is watch videos from Apostles to the Provo MTC missionaries, and study. Even still, Sundays blend in with the rest. P-days are the only really distinguishing days, because they're so relaxed. We can do pretty much whatever we want (within reason, as well as missionary standards), then we listen to a devotional for about an hour. It's really awesome! Plus, P-days are the only days we can take pictures, so that's pretty cool too.

Anyway, That brings us to now. Nothing else all that exciting. I am about out of time though, so I'll end with this. Wear pants, drink water, and be the best you can! I love you all!!
Elder Smith

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Daniel's First Email from Peru

Hey Everybody! So, I tried to send an email last Thursday, but it apparently didn't go through. Anyway, It's been quite the experience here at the MTC, or CCM in Spanish, so far! For the time I've been in Peru, I don't think I've seen the sky once. It's constantly overcast in the winter, albeit not all that cold. I'm wondering whether I'm actually going to be using all this winter gear I packed.

Here's a brief recap of how the week has gone so far:
I got to the MTC at about 3 in the morning on August 1st, and went straight to bed. The following morning we got to sleep in till 9, because of how late everyone got there. It was the primary orientation that day, so we didn't really have any classes yet. I got to meet my companion for the next six weeks, Elder Wesemann. I'm rooming with four other Elders, Elder Bridgewater, Elder Langford, and two Latino roommates I don't know the names of.
Every meal that I've had at the MTC has been an adventure. No one knows what anything tastes like, so my district and I are always trying to guess what tastes the best. But so far, I'm pretty sure every meal has had rice. Lots of rice. I'm pretty sure when I get back from Peru, I won't want to touch a plate of rice ever again.

The second day at the MTC started our classes. It also started my head spinning. They try to force as much Spanish as they can into our heads, and try to teach us how to teach in Spanish, while all of the teachers are speaking "Spanish."  It's very difficult to even understand the concepts they're trying to get across. However, as time progresses, I'm sure that it'll get easier. The gift of tongues, right? After about the third day in the MTC, the Spanish started getting a little bit easier. Lots of classes and lots of principles give Daniel headaches. Oh, and one of my roommates accidental broke the little alarm clock that I'd packed, so that was fun. He did get a new one for me when we went out shopping on P-day though, so it's alright. It was really nice of him.
This last Sunday was the first Sunday in the MTC, and it was also a fast Sunday, so I fasted since lunch on Saturday till lunch on Sunday, and I think it very well may have been the first time I've ever fasted for 24 hours. Anyway, Sunday was pretty relaxed, and all we did that day was sit and listen to our meetings.
On Monday, we were preparing to teach our first "investigator" that night. It had to be in as much Spanish as we could muster, and it very well may have been one of the hardest things I have ever done, ever. Anyway, we spent most of that day memorizing as many words and phrases in Spanish as we could.
This brings us to today! ¡Hoy! Today was the first p-day in the mission field an so far it's been quite the experience. We woke up at 6:30 just like we do every morning, got ready, ate breakfast, and went outside the wall. There is an about 8-16 foot wall surrounding the whole MTC, and today was the first time I really got to go outside of it. The Elders and Sisters in my district, about 12 of us all crammed on an already packed bus with some other Elders who've been here for a couple of weeks to go into the city. Oh! And some interesting things about the roads, there are very few traffic rules, everyone who drives, especially taxi drivers, are some of the worst drivers I've ever seen, and also the cars have the right of way. They don't have to stop for pedestrians, so the roads in the city are really dangerous. Anyway, the bus dropped us off in the city right across from the temple.

We couldn't go to the temple today though, because it's closed down for renovations. We will however be able to go next week. I think.  So we stopped by the temple shop across the street where I got a really cool leather coin-pouch.  It's a good thing I have it too, because most of the currency down here is dependent on coins. I seriously have about 50 coins from when I went shopping. Anyway, after we went to the temple store, we walked down the street to a big store that's kinda like Peru's version of Walmart where I got a few interesting candies and a 3 liter bottle of Inca Kola. It tastes like bubble-gum. I also got some hangers because I didn't have room in my luggage, and there were none in the closet when I got to the MTC. After we left the Walmart-like store, we walked over to Metro, which is like an open mall with a ton of little privately owned shops. This it where Elder Bridgewater got me a new alarm clock.  I think it's slightly better that the one I brought. Maybe. I'll see tonight.
One more interesting thing about Peru is that pretty much everything is dirt cheap. The little leather coin pouch I got cost 7 soles, which in US dollars is about $2.50. It's not some junky little thing either, it's really nice. So, that's one good thing about the economy here. Oh, and sole is pronounced sole-lay.
Anyway, that's about all the time I have to write today, but I'll be sure to write a lot more next week! I love you all! ¡Hasta luego!