Sami singing the song she wrote

Monday, November 30, 2009

Email from Nov 30, 2009

You write the longest emails I have ever read in my entire life. But I am glad because I want to know what is happening and no one else wants to tell me (except Jennie) (and Dad likes to send me book reports without an analysis which is actually just plaigarism) I CAN´T SPELL ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway. The members feed us lunch Tuesday through Sunday. It is always delicious.The other Hermanas are from the USA. I really want lasagna so I would appreciate it if you didn't email me about really delicious food unless you plan on mailing some of it to me.

Everyone is having babies, except for me of course. In case you were worried about that. It´s weird that I've already been here for 2 months. Time is really slow but really fast at the same time.

I have good news! Alejandra is getting baptized this Saturday!!!! I talked a little about this in my email to Jennie so you can reference that if you like. I am really excited for her. She has changed a lot and is a lot happier now than when I first met her. Now her husband Enzo wants to get baptized too but we haven´t really taught him anything even though he has already come to church 3 times. Now we are going to meet every day so he can have the support he needs to quit smoking too. He has already started to smoke less, only 10 or so (he used to smoke 5 packs a day). They have a 9 year-old daughter named Paloma (Dove in English). She is super cute and super stubborn. :) We have been teaching her and some of her friends in the chapel. They are all so cute!

Leticia is another investigator who has quit smoking. She told us this week that since she started meeting with us and reading in the Book of Mormon she hasn't had the urge to smoke. It was really funny because she kept saying ¨Now I don´t smoke. And why don´t I smoke? I don´t know...¨ She used to smoke a lot too. A LOT of people here in Chile smoke. And they smoke A LOT.

Cristian is really awesome too. He just needs to come to church. He knows the Book of Mormon is true and that it is the word of God. He says he feels good when he reads and prays (the Spirit!). We have met a lot with his family and they are all really fun. They invited us over for New Year´s. Apparently New Year´s here is bigger than Christmas.

Rosa Sepulveda came to church for the first time yesterday and she loved it. She said she is going to bring her son Naslo with her next week. Hooray!

That´s it for my investigator report for now. I´ll share more next week. :)

I´M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT MY PACKAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I should get it this Thursday (Interviews with Presidente Chavez).

Zone Conference was really excellent. We talked a lot about the Atonement and the Sacrament and how when people don´t come it´s likely that they don´t really understand the connection between the two. The Sacrament is our opportunity to thank our Savior in the way He has asked of us. It was really great because Hermana Grahn and I are already doing a lot of the things they talked about in Zone Conference. We went in a train!!!!!

I miss Thanksgiving. And you guys. I´m going to stop now so I can send pictures. I probably forgot to say a lot of things.

Hermana Smith

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sami's letter from Nov 23 2009

Querida Familia,

I haven´t really seen the other forms of ¨dear¨used, just ¨querida¨. But that doesn' mean they aren't right.

Sorry the pictures didn't work. I knew that and I sent you another email telling you that but somehow I sent it to myself and not you. Which isn't very helpful because I already knew that it didn't work. And also I lied because I am not going to send them this week because I can´t remember where I put my camera. But NEXT week....

And concerning your questions about structure: There are 2 districts in my zone. The waterfalls was a zone activity. People in my district: E. Bastow, E. Barker, E. Clark, and 1 new Elder. In the other district in my zone: Hermana Meikel, Hermana Torres, E. Rawe, E. Barton, E. Stowe, new Elder. Zone leaders: E. Merrill, E. Brett, and a new Elder who is not a zone leader but is their companion.

Thank you for giving me ¨the scoop¨.(there had been a question about whether or not MP3 players were allowed in the Chile Concepcion Mission - so I checked with the mission office and got the definitive answer that they are allowed - which is good since we sent Sami one for Christmas) I am excited to get a package! Chocolate is really expensive here. At least good chocolate. and I am all out.

Christmas is exciting! I am going to buy some things today to send in a package for Christmas. But I probably won´t send the package for a couple of weeks. And everything will be small and cheap. :)

We have our zone conference which means two things. Firstly, I will miss the most delicious lunch with Hermana Fresia. And secondly, I have been in Chile for almost 2 months! Weird. We are traveling to Zone Conference by train! Which is exciting because I have never really traveled by train before AND we live right next to the train station so I don´t have to go very far to get there.

3 of our investigators came to church this week which is a lot better than last week. We are teaching a lot of families which is awesome. When a whole family accepts the gospel they can support one another which is especially helpful with new converts because for some people it is a huge change.

Elder Jaar got transferred to Concepción so it will be a little harder for Mom to stalk me through his blog. :)

Mom, sounds like you had a fun birthday. I´m really glad you got my letter before! Just in time. Also I don´t remember if I wished you (Mom and Dad) a happy anniversary. Also I don´t remember how ti spell. Congratulations on being married for a really long time!

I hope people are patient with me writing letters. It takes me a while because I´ll usually write them one week and send them the next Monday.

Hermana Grahn gets back from her mission in March I think. She will probably get transferred this cambio because she only has 2 left.

Anyway, the work her is really great. I am really excited to work with so many families. I miss you guys a lot but you will still be there when I get back so that´s okay.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!! Remember me on one of my favorite holidays of the year. A holiday centered in thankfulness. And food.

About the Christmas call: I´m still not sure. We set a time on Christmas day and you call or something but I think I will buy a calling card and call you because it might be easier to connect that way.

Anyway, that´s it for this week. Next week will be more spiritually uplifting and also will have pictures.

Love you all!

Hermana Smith

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sami's email from Nov 16, 2009

I will do better this week and post her letter on time.
Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.(which she forgot to attach - maybe next week). Disfruten! We ate a pig leg for lunch and I´m pretty sure there was a bullet hole in it. Also, I am sad in a hammock (that is from today) Hoy día!

Yeah, apperently we can´t have mp3 players. Didn' know because I don´t have one. I hope that isn't what you sent.... Sorry if it is. (I checked with the mission home and they are allowed - apparently a 'Mormon missionary legend' (as in 'urban legends') is running wild in their mission. It is good, because that is one of the things we sent her for Christmas.

We are teaching a lot of people but they aren't coming to church. It is still a little frustrating but the church is still true. Bueno, the church will always be true.

I´m not really sure what you want to know about my house. It´s just a house that is normal and also in Chile. It isn't very cold now because summer is starting but I still sleep with 2 or 3 wool blankets, my fleece blanket (thanks, padres!) and sweats. Everything is normal here. I don´t spend a lot of time in the house because we are working all day. But it is really nice to have time to rest and study after lunch. :)

I am typing with an American keyboard on a Chilean computer so I might type things wrong...

I would not say no to a backgammon game. We don´t have time to play except p days but sometimes we have activities with other missionaries (group games) and sometimes we stay in our house and write letters (less people games).

I have sung in church but not by myself. I directed the primary for their song this past Sunday (it was the primary program in Sacrament meeting) and I couldn't sing because I was louder than all of them. Oh well. It was kind of funny lip syncing in Spanish to a song I don´t really know....

I would love to have some recipes but they don´t use measurements here like we do in the U.S. I've only seen people use spoons and mugs/cups to measure ingredients but if you send me recipes I should be able to figure it out. Mostly for desserts that are easy to make. Sabe que, we make brownies in the microwave and they actually taste really good. 15 minutes total. Only 5 minutes baking time. Rapido. And also I love cookies a lot. So I would not say no to Grandma´s cookie recipe.

I´m going to start gathering small things-presents for Christmas but i probably won´t send a package until much closer to Christmas. And apparently it is pretty expensive so it won´t be much.

Time goes by so fast. I've already been here 1 1/2 months! Hermana Grahn and I are together for another 6 weeks! I have inspiring things to tell you during the week but then I forget them when I sit in front of the computer.

My Spanish is better.

I still love you.

The church is still true.

Hermana Smith

Shoutout to Jennifer Smith

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sami's letter from Nov 9

It has been a busy week, but I thought I should post last weeks letter before I get another one tomorrow:
Hola, Familia.

It is cold here so I already use long johns. I´m pretty sure I will be able to find all the things I need here easily when I need them. It will harder to find the money to buy them... but I won´t have to worry about that until around April probably.

This week was really great. We are finding a lot of people to teach and we have a lot of baptismal dates which is really exciting. It is really hard to get people to come to church on Sunday though. There is always something else that gets in the way which is frustrating because I know what a difference it makes in my life to attend church every Sunday and how I feel when I miss one or two or I don´t take the Sacrament. It´s like all of a sudden my week is a lot more difficult but it´s hard to help other people understand that without them experiencing it for themselves.

Thank you for sending me a package with things that could melt which I assume and hope are made of chocolate.

Mom, good job on signing up for a yoga class! It will probably help the fact that your body is full of pain. Which is always a good thing to try and fix. How is Jess doing with her yoga? Is she going to try to be an instructor too?

Hey, so I gave a talk for the first time in what has probably been years and it was in Spanish. Oh how my life has changed. For the better. Honestly though. If I had known what an amazing experience missions are I would have prepared myself a long time ago. Now all my studying is for other people and their needs (which also helps address my needs and strengthen me) but it makes me all the more excited to have time to study to learn doctrines more in depth. Also , serving a mission makes me want to learn science more because it is really so amazing how intricate everything in nature is. I want to understand things better now. Too bad that doesn't mean that science will like me... hehe.

Brian, I am excited that you have a motorcycle and I will want to ride it when I get back. So many people here have motor bikes (as in a normal bike, with a motor) like you traded your bike for that one time and I think Dad got mad. Anyway, people use them a lot here. At least in San Carlos. Craiglist Master.

Something new I learned. The exchange rate isn't exact which is common sense but for some reason it didn't occur to me. but 10000 pesos which is $20 US is really more the equivalent of $60 ish dollars in the US. Which is good for me, I guess.

Mike, I would love some small games (very small) that are easy and quick to play and don´t take a lot of time to learn. I miss our game nights.  You are the Game King.

See you in 15 months.

Mom, they are going to call you as a seminary teacher and you will have to get up soooooo early.

Also, I can´t go to any other websites besides this email and and so if you send me links I´m not going to click on them unless they are for these websites. Sorry.

Be safe in the big storm that is coming from Alaska.

Jennie, be careful of the storm that will graze Ireland. It is most dangerous.

Dad, I love you.


I also love the rest of you. Thank you for writing me to keep me updated on your lives.

The work is awesome. I am trying to work harder. I hope I can make you all proud. I am so grateful that you are all in my family. We really have an amazing family and a closeness that not everyone has. Minus the fact that Jennie and I are actually on different continents... It´s nice to have good memories to remember about you all. It sounds like I am dead or you are dead. Anyway, I love you.

Hermana Smith

The following is correspondence between Sami and her sister Jennie who is teaching English in France.


Sorry I´ve been such a terrible slacker in sending you emails. Sometimes it is so hard to get everything done! I´m sure you understand that though. My Spanish is better. People tell me it is better than when I got here but honestly I can´t really tell that much. It feels like I only learn a few new things every day but those little thigs add up after a while. Plus all the practice I get seeing as no one speaks English.

You would like it here I think. It´s a lot like your ideal European lifestyle. Everyone sleeps in really late, time doesn't really matter that much. Everything starts late, that wasn't too much of an adjustment for me (thanks, Family!). Sometimes it is a little frustrating because now I am operating on the Lord´s time, not just my own. But the people here really are awesome. The food is really basic and delicious. Pretty much we eat bread, meat, and potatoes. My ideal diet, I know.

On Wednesday I ate a plate of meat and pureed beans! Nada más. Tan rica. Seriously. It was so delicious. And they have a lot of pastries. There is a fair amount of German influence which is really interesting to see.

It isn't hard to be a missionary. I expected it to be really hard. Maybe I am doing something wrong. I love the opportunity to help people change their lives. It is so cool to see the difference the gospel can make. Here almost everyone in the ward is a convert so they are really willing to help out with missionary work and they always make such a difference in the work.

We have been finding a lot of less-active members lately, which isn't surprising seeing as there are probably somewhere around 800 members here but less than 100 are active. It´s really sad to hear their stories about why they left the church. It is human nature to be easily offended, I think. We always want to take what people say personally but that never turns out well. There is a lot of work here. Cambios are next week! I can´t believe how fast time has gone by. I hope I will still be with Hermana Grahn. It would be weird to finish my training with a different trainer but it´s happened before.

I really appreciate all the things we have at home more. That we have a temple so close and a really nice chapel to use. We have so much that other people don´t have. It just makes me appreciate those things more. And Chile is really really nice for South America, I think. Really nice. But I will eat a lot of peanut butter and graham crackers while I take a really long, hot shower when I get home. :)

Hermana Smith

-----parts of Original Message-----
Hermana  Smith,

Things are going well for me. Stake conference was last weekend and it was
really cool to go and see how it's done in French. The stake is huge and
conference was 3 hours away. Afterward everyone ate lunch in a cafeteria
(things that they had packed) everyone was sharing and visiting with friends
they hadn't seen in awhile. It felt like a family reunion. I felt a little
lost since I only know people from my ward and they were mostly busy with
visiting with people they don't see very awesome. Still, it was good to see
their happiness and feel the spirit that accompanies gatherings of members,
especially after hearing good talks. Plus, I understood most all of the
talks! I can tell that my French is getting much better.

How is Spanish coming along?  How are lessons for your investigators? I hope
things are going well. In the car to stake conference we were taking about
the members needing to travel 3 hours for stake conference and 7 hours for
the temple (I know it's even worse in other places). We then talked about
the quote from Joseph Smith about how no church that doesn't require
sacrifices can produce the faith necessary for exaltation. That might be
useful in Spanish. With some commandments it's easy to point out the
temporal and spiritual blessings. With others we just have to go on faith
and know that we will blessed for our obedience.

Can't think of what else to say.

I miss you and listen to Tiger Mountain Peasant song and feel happy and miss
you more.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Letter of Nov 2, 2009

Finally we got a nice long email from Sam - no illness - no email eating computer - it was nice
Sorry about last week. Technology and I don´t get along very well... But I have a funny picture in my head of Mom trying to type with her fingers all bandaged. :) (I have trigger fingers from too much typing on computer) And Mom, I´m glad you can find a use for the weird things I say. I appreciate that you are continually trying to find the good in weird things that I say.

You found the earrings?!? Por fin! This is just like me giving you a mother´s day present early, right?

I would love some music in Spanish. I have a hymnal en español so that is not suo important but I would appreciate some other music in Spanish. That is sad about my music though....(it is packed away & we are not sure we can locate it easily) Oh well. I will just appreciate it more when I have it.

And with regards to chocolate: anything I can have except white chocolate which is not actually chocolate and is gross because it hurts my cavities. I love peanut butter. A small jar of peanut butter here is somewhere around $6 US. A little expensive... Here they eat manjar like we eat peanut butter. Manjar is basically sweetened condensed milk with some sort of flavor, I´m not sure exactly. It´s good but not the same as my beloved peanut butter. Oh, and chocolate chips! They don´t have them here at all that I can find. :(

Your idea of a voice recorder sounds fine to me. I still don´t understand how to use the hard drive thing you spent so long putting together but I think I might be able to figure it out next Monday with a little more time.. I would like to listen to music but it doesn't really matter if it is on a CD player or a mp3 player. Hermana Grahn has a CD player but I don´t know how long we will be companions.

I would have to learn a Chilean folk song before I could play it for you. I will try. It´s hard to find time on P-day to do everything. I can always get the stuff done that I need to but I don´t always have time for extras. But I have been listening to guitar playing here. It is more strumming a few basic chords with all the melody in the voice. I haven´t heard that much finger-picking.

We had a talent show in the ward and I sang a Beatles song because it was the only thing Hermana Grahn had that wasn't a hymn. It was so gross because I sang it like a man. Now no one will want to give references to Hermana Grahn and her man-companion.

My house is normal. It is not as cold now that summer is starting. Apparently it´s going to get really hot. More around 100 degrees F. Ouch.

Elder Jaar told me you commented on his blog.
(He was on Sami's famous waterfall trip & had pictures)

Tallia and Jon´s baby is really cute.

Sounds like you all had fun for Halloween. They celebrate it here but it is a little different. The kids ask for candy at houses and at the neighborhood stores too. And they go out by themselves really young, around Suzanne´s age (8) . But I also think they stop a lot younger here too. Maybe around 10 or so.

The rules for music is it has to be uplifting and not distracting. I think you can probably figure that out. I would like some classical (instrumental and choral, maybe vocal solo too). And also some MoTab. Christmas would be welcome as well. I trust your judgement in all things. Do whatever will be easiest and cheapest for you.

I want to tell you a little about our investigators.

Family of Segundo
Segundo was a reference from one of our other investigators and we still haven´t really taught him but we have been teaching his family. He has 6 kids and they are all more or less young (20s). Only one of them actively practices a religion (Evangelical). Here in San Carlos it seems like most people are either Catolico or Evangelico. They kind of remind me of our family. They are fun and loud and talk at the same time so I still have trouble understanding them some of the time. I´m excited to teach them about the Plan of Salvation. I think they will really appreciate the fact that we can live with our families forever through the plan Heavenly Father has prepared for us.

She is trying to give up smoking which is why she started coming to church in the first place. She wants to get baptized but I´m not sure if she understands the importance of the baptisimal covenant yet. It´s hard to help people understand when so many other churches don´t have lasting commitments like this. You can pick up and leave if you want to but in the Lord´s church you are making covenants with Him so they last a lot longer than pretty much everything else.

Umersinda and Marita
They are Catolicas but Marita (about 9 years old) has read in the Book of Mormon and prayed about it. She says she knows it is the word of God but she and Umersinda don´t want to change.

That is the hardest part. I feel the Spirit really strongly in the lessons so I know they felt it too. But then they don´t do anything about it. We are teaching a lot of people but none of them are progressing because they won´t come to church. I know if they came they would feel the Spirit there. We always need to demonstrate our faith before Heavenly Father will give us our answer. Maybe we should make sure they all understand that. In the MTC when Elder Holland came he said salvation never was free. And who would want it to be free? Jesus Christ sacrificed everything for us. We can´t understand the Atonement or expect to receive all the blessings of the Atonement without sacrificing something on our part.

Well, food for thought.

I love you and I will write again next week.
And I sent out some letters today so they should get there in 2 weeks ish.

Hermana Smith