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Monday, December 29, 2014

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Dear Family, 

I love you all so much! It was so good to talk to you on Thursday. Don´t worry Mom, even though I was emotional at the end, talking with you didn´t ¨throw me off¨ or even make me sad. It actually helped me a lot to be able to talk with you. I was feeling so content and so complete after talking to you and that feeling lasted for the next couple days. It was definitely the best part of my Christmas (:

I can´t believe in just a few days it will be 2015! I was thinking the other day about New Year´s Eve last year (remember watching Shark-nado Dad? I was laughing at that memory. That´s a New Years Eve we´ll never forget!) and I remember that I kept thinking that night about how I would be on a mission the next year, and wondering where in the world I would be. Now I´m here in Mexico, seven months in to my mission, and I can´t believe the time has gone by so quickly! 

I wanted to share a thought with you on goal setting. I had no idea when I started my mission that goal setting is such a big part of missionary work! We are constantly setting and adjusting and changing our goals, and I know that the personal growth I´ve experienced in this time is in large measure due to the many goals I´ve been able to set. I love what Preach My Gospel says about goal setting: ¨Goals reflect the desires of our hearts and our vision of what we can accomplish. Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action. Goal setting and planning are acts of faith.¨ Elder Ballard also said, “I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.” As you all make your New Years Resolutions, I invite you to set goals that will help you to achieve what God wants you to acheive in this year and become what He wants you to become. Say a prayer and ask Him what you should set as a goal this year, and set those goals together. I promise that if you set your goals with His will in mind, you will achieve more this year than you have in years past. 

One of my goals this year is to do this work in the Lord´s way. I´m going to achieve it by setting a lot of little goals and working to improve how I go about doing the different parts of missionary work day by day. I hope that at the end of my mission I can say that I grew in the ways God wanted me to on my mission. Elder Worthlin once said, ¨Heavenly Father sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming.¨ Ask Him to help you become that glorious being. I know that when we invoke His divine help, we can reach our full potential. 

I think I told you on Thursday that we were going to have a baptism this weekend. Rosa was baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday! Her baptismal service was so special for me. Her brother Carlos, who is also a recent convert, shared his testimony in the baptismal service and talked about how he had prayed for his sister to join him in the Church. And then Rosa shared such a beautiful and heartfelt testimony that really touched my heart. It is such a priviledge to know all of these wonderful people, and to see the people I´ve taught progressing. 

I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week! 2014 was a great year for me, and I know 2015 will be even better, because the majority of the year I´ll still be a full time servant of the Lord. I love it!

Love,

Hermana Southard



Rosa´s baptism on Saturday!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas

My dear family, 

Merry Christmas! I almost don´t know what to write to you because I´ll be able to talk to you on Thursday! I am so, so excited to see you all.. I think as a missionary you just get so used to being without your family and only communicating with them once a week that when it hit me on Saturday morning that I´m really going to see you and be able to talk to you for the first time in 7 months I got really, really excited!

All is well here in Guadalupe 2. On Wednesday we dropped Hermana Lopez off at the bus center and she traveled first to Torreón and then home to Oaxaca on Thursday. The first week with Hermana Quispe has gone really well! She´s a great missionary and really, really easy to get along with. We´ve been having a good time together. I can tell we´re going to grow a lot together. I´m so grateful to Heavenly Father and Presidente for giving me the opportunity to be here with her in this area at this time. There were some humbling moments for me last week as I took on a little bit more responsibility as senior comp, but so far we´re okay. I know Heavenly Father will continue putting me in the situations I need to be in to grow. 

This Saturday our investigator Rosa is going to be baptized! We met her about four months ago when we began teaching her brother Carlos, who was baptized in November. For about two and a half months she listened to us but always told us that she already went to a Church, etc, etc. But in October she started going to Church and about a month ago we had a FHE with a family in the ward where we watched the 20 minute Joseph Smith video and talked for a long time about all of her doubts and questions about the Restoration. We invited her to pray about Joseph Smith and two days later when we asked her if she had received an answer to her prayer, she told us she had and accepted the invitation to be baptized. Ever since then she has been so firm in her decision to be baptized in spite of all of the opposition that she´s faced in the past month. She is so excited to be baptized and I am so excited for her!

I am so grateful for this time of year in which we have the opportunity to remember our Savior Jesus Christ and His birth. I know that because of His atoning sacrifice we can repent of all our sins and weaknesses and live better each day, and eventually return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father. He is my Savior and my Redeemer and my best friend. I love Him and I love this opportunity that I have to serve Him as a missionary. 

I love you all so much and I´ll talk to you on Thursday!!!!

Hermana Southard


Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry Christmas, everyone!

So this week was crazy! My companion, Hna López is going home on Thursday so we knew I would be receiving a new companion this week, but Pdte Ramos pulled a fast one on us and we had transfers last Thursday (instead of today), and I received my new companion last week. Her name is Hna Quispe, she´s 22 years old and from Peru, and has only been a member of the Church for less than 2 years! She´s been out in the mission for 4 months, so when Hna López leaves I´ll be the senior companion. I am so grateful that I´ll be able to spend Christmas here in Guadalupe 2. The members are starting to make jokes about how long I´ve been here now, but I love it! It´s such a blessing to be able to really know the ward- it feels like home. I know this will be my last transfer here because I have been here so long, and I´m so grateful to have a few more weeks here. I´m going to work as hard as I can to do all that the Lord would have me do before I have to leave the ward. 

So on Friday we did have our Christmas activity. We went caroling as a district to investigators and recent converts at 8 am, then headed to a church at 10 for the activity with Presidente. With him we had a talent show, a nice meal, a gift exchange, and watched Frozen. But my favorite part was the piñata! Piñatas are very traditional at Christmas time, and they´re often made of clay. It was so fun watching the elders and sisters try to break it. Even Pdte and Hermana Ramos gave it a try! It was so much fun that I decided that we´re going to start the tradition of breaking a piñata every year for Christmas. 

Saturday and Sunday we got to participate in a special activity in la Plaza de Armas in the center of Durango. The two stakes put together a choir that sang Christmas songs and we were there as missionaries contacting the people who came to watch. The Plaza de Armas was beautiful, and reminded me of Salt Lake and Temple Square with the lights and everything. It was such a fun activity, and we were able to talk to so many people! It was great. After that activity on Sunday night, I sang in a concert that the YSAs put on. It ended up being a kind of last minute number because I didn´t have time to really practice, but I think it turned out okay. I sang ¨I´m trying to be like Jesus¨, the first verse in Spanish and the second in English, and Hna Mejia accompanied me. I thought, even as a missionary I´m singing in a Christmas concert. There´s no escaping it ha ha!

Well, I have to go, but I love you all so much! I am so happy; happy to have such a wonderful family, happy that it´s Christmas time, but most of all, happy to be a missionary and to have a knowledge of the fullness of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. God lives and He loves us, and He gave us His Son Jesus Christ to help us be happy. In Spanish the ¨He is the Gift¨ video is titled ¨Él es la Dádiva¨. I like this title because dádiva is a word that doesn´t translate into English; it means the best of the best of the best gifts. Only Jesus Christ is the Dádiva. 

Have a fantastic week!

Hermana Southard

Most of these photos are from the Christmas activity. My favorite part was the piñata! I decided it´s going to be a new family Christmas tradition when I get back (: I also included a picture of the plaza de armas where we had our activity saturday and sunday. The picture doesn´t do it justice...I love this part of Durango! It´s beautiful (:





Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas is special...

Hi Family!

...Even here in the misión Christmas is special. This Friday we have an activity all day and a dinner with Pdte Ramos, and on Sunday I´m singing and playing the piano in a concert that the Young Single Adults are putting on. Hermana Mejia invited us to dinner on Christmas Eve and she told us that Santa Claus is going to come for us (: I am really happy to be in this Ward. I´ve been here for five months, which is a super long time, and it really feels like my Ward. I love the members and the área, and I hope I´ll be here at least for a Little while longer. 
 
Have you guys seen the new Christmas video the Church released? I don´t know what it´s called in English, but in Spanish it´s called Él es la Dádiva and I LOVE it! We´ve been doing a lot of contacting by showing people the video. We had to record it on my companion´s cámera to be able to show it to people....this is where an iPäd would be nice, ha ha. But it really is a beautiful video. (Go to navidad.mormon.org to watch it in Spanish for FHE tonight!) I don´t know if you remember the story I told in my farewell talk, but a year ago during my Women´s Chorus concert I had a really special experience where the Spirit testified to me that I knew that Jesús was the Christ, and that was why I was going on a misión, to share my testimony with others. Even though it´s sometimes really difficult, I know it´s a priviledge to be a missionary. I have to go, but I hope you know that I know without a doubt that Jesús Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I love you all and I´m so excited to talk to you on Christmas! 
 
Love,
 
Hermana Southard 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy December!

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! I loved seeing all of the pictures. We had our own little Thanksgiving celebration Thursday night after planning. I made pancakes and we decorated them to look like turkeys, and wrote things that we were grateful for on the feathers. My cute companion was so excited to celebrate, and it really meant a lot to me that she was willing to do something that meant so much to me. Even though our celebration was really simple, I thought afterwards that it was honestly one of, if not the best Thanksgiving I´ve ever had. I´ve realized that coming on a mission has made me so much more grateful for everything I have and all that I´ve learned and experienced. I´ve realized how much I love the Gospel, how much I love my family, and how much God really loves me and has blessed me. Before we ate I offered a prayer in English, thanking Heavenly Father for being so good to me, asking Him to protect my family, and to help us to be able to do His work the way He wants us to. It was a simple prayer, but a really beautiful moment for me. Hna López told me even though she didn´t understand it, she felt the Spirit. 

So here´s a funny moment from this week. We decided we wanted to start contacting with the Book of Mormon more. So we wrote a bunch of scriptures on little pieces of paper and while we were contacting had people draw a piece of paper and we would read the scripture they drew. We were doing this on Saturday when someone drew a scripture in Ether. While I was talking my companion was trying to find the scripture....and trying and trying and trying until we realized that the book of Mormon we were using didn´t have the book of Ether! It was super funny. 

As far as our investigators are going, please keep praying for them! Rosa and Roque´s baptism is now going to be the 27th of December while we wait a month for them to keep the Word of Wisdom. Also pray for the familia Cabral Ortega (the last picture is of us with Karla. We were all wearing yellow yesterday) We're praying really hard that they´ll be able to get married so they can be baptized. Pray for all of the new investigators that we´ve found, and pray that we´ll find new ones!

Well, I need to go, but I love you all so much! If you have questions feel free to ask them so I know more of what to talk about. I can´t wait to talk to you all on Christmas! I love you and I know this work is true. I feel like I can´t express my testimony very well over email, but I hope you know that I know without a doubt that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. We are so blessed to be a part of it. 

Love,

Hermana Southard





Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey Family!

I love you all so much! Thanks so much for your letters. I have a Little less time today (it seems like I say that every other week) because we went to Parque Guadiana and got back a Little late, and I had to send the progress reports.

This week went really well. My new companion is awesome. She´s very patient and easy to get along with, which has been so nice. She speaks really fast though...sometimes I have a hard time understanding her! Ha ha. She speaks almost no English, but likes hearing about American culture and is super excited to celebrate Thanksgiving with me this Thursday. 
 
We had intercambios (comp exchanges) with the Sister Training Leaders this week and I stayed in my área with Hna Cervantes, who is awesome. She is from México D.F. (the capital) but lived in Colorado for 10 years, so she speaks pretty perfect English. For language study we just spoke in English for 40 minutes and it was so nice. It was such a good break from speaking Spanish all the time, and I felt like I was just talking to one of my friends. It was a nice Little tender mercy this week. 
 
So this week was a good one! Two investigators, Rosa and Roque accepted a baptism date for December 6th. Roque is Diana´s husband and Rosa is his mom, and Carlos´ sister. It´s so awesome to be able to work with this whole family! It´s been amazing watch how they´ve all supported eachother as they´ve learned more about the Gospel. And some other exciting news: Roque and Diana are getting married in a few weeks! They´ve been together for about 7 years and when we first started teaching Diana she asked us if they would have to get married in order for her to be baptized. When we told her yes, she began working immediately to get that in order so she could be baptized. But Roque wasn´t too interested in the Gospel and she ended up leaving him, saying it would be better for her and her kids to continue in the Gospel without him. I was shocked when she did this, but it actually was so good. From that moment on Roque changed completely. He got a Little taste of what life would be like without his family and immediately began doing all that he could to bring them back together. I am so excited for all of the changes they´ve made together, and for the future they have as an eternal family. 
 
Also, funny story from this week. There was a Ward activity this Friday and we invited all of our investigators. A good number of them wanted to go, so Hno. Pepe from the Ward was going to pick them all up in his suburban. After we had loaded 3 adults and like 20 kids into the suburban another member of the Ward who we had been talking to earlier that day called us to let us know that we had messed up the date and that the Ward activity is actually this Friday. Hno Pepe and his wife, Hna Adriana totally saved the day and took everyone to an activity that the other Ward was putting on that night. From what we Heard it was a really cool activity, and I´m sure the elders of Barrio Mesquital appreciated that someone went to their activity!
 
So I already told Mom this, but guess what....I´ll be home for Thanksgiving next year! This Thanksgiving, I´m grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary and I´m grateful for Heavenly Father giving me the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical strength to serve. I´m thankful for your support, for the wonderful family I have, and for the fact that we´re an eternal family. I can´t imagine life without you guys. Even though we may not be together now, I hang on to the promise that we´ll be together forever. We´ll be back together before you know it (I complete six months in the misión this Friday! I can´t believe it.) and right now I am so grateful for the opportunity to help others build their own eternal families.
 
I love you all SO much and will talk to you next week!
 
Love,
 
Hermana Southard

These pictures are from when we went to the park today! I took them just a few hours ago (:



The statues of the dancers are for you, Jenna!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Hey Family!

Hey guys!

Thanks for all the emails! It looks like it was a busy week between the play and ballroom and every other type of crazy we always have going on (: Poor Donny. I had kind of hoped he would live to be here when I returned, but oh well. He served me well during my senior year of high school. I can't believe Dad bought a truck! You'll have to send me pictures. 

I don't really have a ton to report this week. It was a great week though. I really like my new companion. I've already learned a lot from her and I know we're together for a reason. I found out why I'm not training this transfer...no sister missionaries arrived in the mission, ha ha. But really, I'm glad for the opportunity I have to work with Hermana Lopez and prepare myself to direct the work here in our area. I'm hoping I'll train here in my area, Guadalupe 2, but the Lord knows I'll go wherever He wants me to be. 

So apparently I live in the coldest part of Mexico. Last week was really nice weather, a little chilly in the evenings. The week before was super cold and rainy because of the hurricanes along the coast. We ate lunch with the bishop and his wife yesterday, who gives the weather reports on a local channel, and she said that in the next couple of weeks it'll get really cold. December and January are the coldest parts of the year. 

Can you believe we're already half way through November? It's been almost six months since I entered the MTC. I have to admit, sometimes I still really miss you guys. I think it's my greatest challenge out here, being away from you. But I was thinking yesterday about how my relationship with Heavenly Father has been strengthened so much. My companion commented that my prayers are really long, and that she wondered what it must be like to have that kind of relationship with God, to be able to talk to Him for so long. Honestly, as soon as I entered the MTC my prayers changed. Because I have only an hour every week to talk to you and my friends, I talk to Heavenly Father about everything. Isn't that how it should always be though? I hope to keep up this relationship with Him when I return home. 

Elvira's baptism was wonderful. She is such a sweet lady and I love her to death. Please pray for our other investigators...the familia Cabral Ortega, Rosa, Roque, and Cesar in particular. They each have very different struggles and we're going to work as hard as we can to help each one of them. 

Sorry I can't think of much else to write. And sorry girls that I can't respond individually to your emails. But a member of the ward, Hna Rosy, is headed to the United States this week and said I can give her a letter to mail from the US so it'll get there faster. So this afternoon I'm going to write the family another letter. 

I love you all so much! As hard as it is sometimes to be away from you I know that the time I have here in Mexico is extremely limited, and I'm so glad I have the chance to be in the service of the Lord. Pray for me to be able to do His work in His way. I love you all and pray for you every night!

Love, 

Hermana Southard
With some sister missionaries at the bus center, dropping off the sisters who were transferred to Torreon (the sister on the far left is the one who I wanted the peach cobbler recipe for. Her name is Hermana Cervantes and she's awesome (:)

Elvira's Baptism...



We took some pictures by a cute school.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Nos tocaron los cambios

Hola family and friends!

I hope you are all having a good day. All is well here in Guadalupe 2. Today is the first day of the new transfer, and after four months with my companion Hermana Leaitaua we had to say goodbye. She headed to Torreon this morning and about three hours ago I met my new companion, Hermana Lopez. She is 27 years old, from Oaxaca (wuh-ha-kah) Mexico, and this is her last transfer. She'll actually be leaving half way through week 6 of this transfer because leaving in week 1 would mean she'd fly home on Christmas, when the airline tickets are a lot more expensive. So I know for sure that we won't be together for very long, but I can already tell I'm going to learn a lot from her. She's very business like, but also very kind, and I'm sure she'll be a good companion. I know that the Lord has put us together because there's something I can learn from her, and that we're here in this area for the benefit of our investigators. 

Our investigator Carlos was baptized on Saturday and it was so, so wonderful. He has changed so much. A member of the ward gave a talk a few weeks ago about how he heard many times before his mission that he would see miracles in the mission, but when he arrived, his mission president told him, "You didn't come here to see miracles, you came here to work miracles." For us, Carlos is a miracle. His sister, who we are also teaching, told us she never thought that he would be able to leave the alcoholism that he struggled with for so long. But he has, and his testimony of the Gospel is so strong. He's going to be a good member, I know it. 

We have another baptism this week. It's actually the mother of Diana, who was baptized about two weeks ago. Her name is Elvira, and I love her to death. She is such a sweet lady. Diana's husband also returned last week from working in the sierra (he was gone about three weeks) and we began to teach him again. He accepted a baptismal date for December 6th. His name is Roque, and he's actually the nephew of Carlos, who was baptized on Friday, and the son of the sister of Carlos that we're also teaching. Does that make any sense? (: This family is so special. I love being with them, seeing Diana and Roque with their kids and thinking about how they'll be able to go through the temple in a year and become an eternal family. It's worth it to leave my family for a little while to help other people build their own eternal families. 

Well, I hope you all have a fantastic week! Thank you for your love and support. This November, I'm thankful for the opportunity that I have to be here in Mexico serving a mission, and for all the love and support from my wonderful family members and friends who I'll be with the next November. My new companion told me today how quickly the time has gone by for her...my goal is to treasure every moment I have in the mission, the wonderful and the hard (but still good).

Les amo mucho a todos!

Hermana Southard 

Hermana Leiataua and I

The Sisters in our Zone

Hermana Tuitupou and I. We arrived here together and were serving in the same ward. She was transferred to Torreon today and I'm going to miss her a lot.

Carlos' baptismal service.

La familia Mejia. Hermana Mejia is my mom out here in Mexico (: She's amazing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dia de los Muertos

Hello everyone!

Yesterday was a really good day. It was Dia de los Muertos, and even though I knew it was a big day in Mexico, I was still surprised at what a huge deal it is here! One of the city's cemetaries is actually in our area, and the streets were packed with people who travelled from all over to visit the graves of their loved ones. We took advantage of this and contacted a ton! One woman we contacted came all the way from Texas just for Dia de los Muertos. But she was super receptive and actually gave us her address, which we'll pass on to the missionaries in Texas through the offices of the Church. Pretty crazy, huh?

The primary had an activity on Saturday for Halloween/Dia de los Muertos. A tradition they have here in Mexico is to decorate calaveras, or skeletons, to look like their deceased loved ones. The primary kids decorated them to look like someone from the scriptures or the ward, and one little 9 year old girl named Alani decorated hers to look like me! She even cut a lock of her hair and put it on the calavera to match my hair. They gave me the calavera to take home. I was so touched! One of the counselors in the primary presidency said that Alani admires me a lot, which completely made my entire week. 

Another of our investigators, Carlos, is going to be baptized this Saturday. We've been teaching him for about two months, and we are SO excited that he's finally ready to be baptized. He has been so receptive since the beginning, and has such a strong testimony. He is a miracle for us. He was an alcoholic for almost thirty years, but has stopped drinking and smoking and is progressing so well in the Church. He has changed so much, and it has been an honor to be able to help him. 

I love where I am right now. My heart was so full last night that I didn't want to go to sleep! I love being a missionary. I know that this Gospel is true, and I am so grateful I have the chance to share it all day long. And I am so grateful I'll get to stay in my area for another little while. God is so good to me. 

I can't really think of what else to say....if you have more questions let me know. Sorry I'm not the best at writing letters, but I can't even describe how grateful I am that you write me and send me pictures. I love you all so much and I love the time I get to hear from you each week!

love,

Hermana Southard
Diana at her baptism

Diana's Family

Members of the Ward - Salas

Diana at her baptism

Ashley with the calavera that was made of her


Monday, October 27, 2014

Five Months tomorrow!

Hello family and friends!

We had a really special week this week. Diana was baptized on Friday and confirmed yesterday. I really wanted to send you a picture, but the computers in the internet cafe we're in today don't work with my camera :( But Diana is so, so special. I really feel like I was assigned to this specific mission for her. She has such a strong testimony already. She even shared her testimony with the taxi driver we were contacting on the way back from her baptismal interview!
It seriously has been such a joy working with Diana. She is so excited to finally be a member of the Church and I want so badly to return next year when she goes through the temple to be sealed to her kids. She has two kids, Diana and Rodrigo, who are 5 and 2. They are so cute! She's already taught them how to pray and it melts my heart. Little Rodrigo's prayers are always, "Mama, Papa, Nana, amen." Right now we're also teaching Diana's mom, dad, and brother. Her mom has a baptismal date for November 15 and says she doesn't feel ready yet, but we'll keep working with her to prepare her. 

Also, I wanted to thank you all for the prayers you've said on my behalf. I definitely felt like I had angles 'round about me this week to bear me up. I know that the Lord is protecting me because of your faith and prayers!

I love you all and hope you have a happy Halloween!

Love, 

Hermana Southard

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hello!

Hello family and friends!

I hope all is well! I'm already out of time for this week, but I wanted to share a scripture I read yesterday and really liked. It's Alma 46:15, which says: 

"And those who did belong to the church were faithfulyea, allthose who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly,the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because oftheir belief in Christ who should come."

I liked this scripture because a few verses before it talks about how the name "Christians" was given to the people of the Church by the dissenters of the Church. But the people took upon themselves the name gladly because for them, it represented their faith in Christ. I thought about how we should have the same attitude about being members of the Church; like the Bible says, we shouldn't be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ! We should be brave in sharing the knowledge that we have with others. Our recent convert, Juanita, is such a good example of that for me. She isn't afraid of sharing her testimony with her family members, even though they want nothing to do with the Church. But yesterday her mom's husband actually came to Church and we're now teaching him. He told her that he's seen the changes she's made and recognizes it's because she joined the Church, and he wants that. Because of her example he's now willing to learn more about the Gospel. How wonderful is that??

I love you all so much, and I promise a better letter next week. (: Have a great day!

Hermana Southard

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sí Señor, yo te seguiré

Hello family and friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful General Conference Weekend! We got to watch it from our building live, at 11:00 and 3:00 both Saturday and Sunday. This weekend was honestly the most beautiful conference weekend I've ever had! It was a bit odd at first, watching something so familiar in such a foreign place. But that's what made it so great. Even listening to the sessions in a foreign language, I still felt the Spirit and received personal revelation, which is what's important. 

My personal favorite talk was Sister Esplin's talk on the sacrament. She did such a fantastic job of outlining the repentance process we should go through every week as we take the sacrament. I loved how she said that the sacrament should be a time of holy communion between us and God as we review our week and what we're going to change the next week to be better. 

And how great were the talks in the speakers' native languages?? We were very excited to be able to listen to the talks in Spanish live, without the voiceover translation. Like the first Elder who give his talk in Spanish said, it's a fulfillment of the prophecy that the Gospel will be preached to all people in their native tongues. I had the same thought during the talk that was given in Cantonese; I was listening to the Spanish translation of a Cantonese talk, writing my thoughts down in English. The Gospel truely is spreading to all parts of the earth, and I'm so humbled and blessed to have the opportunity to share the Gospel here in Mexico. The Lord really does love all of His children. It's amazing to see how He has guided both their lives and ours to the point where we can share the Gospel with them and they can make the covenants necessary to be able to return and live with Him. 

My testimony of General Conference was strengthened this week. It is such a special blessing that we have to not only have a living prophet and apostles here on the earth, but to hear from them the revelation they have received from the Lord for our benefit. I testify that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, the only Church with His authority. He directs us through His apostles and prophets, and treasuring and following their words will help us to be happy in this life and return to live with Heavenly Father in the next life. 

I love you all so much, and hope you have a great week! I'm praying for all of you. I know this Gospel and the Church are true!

Love,

Hermana Southard

Maricruz who was baptized last week

Members who fed them between conference sessions

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Tuesday!

Hey family and friends!

Quick explanation: I went to Torreón yesterday to sign papers again for migration and didn´t return until after P-day had ended so I was unable to write. But, while I was at the mission office I received a bunch of letters that you´ve sent me....thank you so much! For the Dent family, I especially loved the post cards from Puerta Vallarta :) 

I only have a few minutes to check emails today, but wanted to share with you the highlight of our week last week. Our investigator Maricruz was baptized! I´m pretty sure the first lesson I taught here in México was to her, and I didn´t understand a single word she said ha ha. Maricruz is a very special woman. She has a hard time maintaining information and we´ve had to teach her on a very simple level. But in spite of her learning difficulties, she has a strong testimony that the Church is true. She even shocked my companion and I by showing up to Church by herself one week after she told us that she wouldn´t be able to attend because she was going to stay with her daughter for the weekend. Something ended up happening with her daughter´s car and she wasn´t able to go, so she came to the place she knew she needed to be! Her baptism was really special for my companion and I; we´ve worked with her for a long time, and it is such a priviledge to be able to share with her a part of the love I know Heavenly Father has for her.

There were transfers in the mission this week, but both my companion and I are going to remain in our area for a while longer! We are so excited and so motived to keep improving together. We have a couple really special investigators who are preparing to be baptized in a couple weeks, and it is definitely a tender mercy to be able to continue to help them together. 

Well, I have to go, but I leave you with my testimony that this Church is true! God lives and He loves us. My testimony is simple, but steadfast. 

I love you all! Have a great week!

Hermana Southard

Monday, September 22, 2014

un milagro ocurió

Hello family and friends!

I hope you all are well! This week was great. We had an amazing experience on Monday that I wanted to share with you all:

On Mondays we don't start proselyting until 6:00 because of P-day. Last Monday we had to be back in our house at 7 (for the holiday), which meant we only had one hour to work on Monday. Before leaving the house, my companion and I prayed that we would be lead to someone who was ready to accept the Gospel, even though we only had an hour to work. Our prayer was answered!

A couple of minutes after leaving the house we were stopped by someone who turned out to be a member of another ward in the stake. As we were talking a car drove past and the member told us that the driver was another member of the Church. We were surprised when the car turned around and pulled up behind us. The member got out and introduced us to his neice, who is a non-member who lives in our area. She's really interested in the Church and was excited to be introduced to us. We ended up going with them to meet the rest of her family. In less than an hour, we received four referencies from a member and contacted all four of them with the member! It really was a miracle. We've already had two lessons with this family, and the neice, who's name is Diana, went with us to a baptism on Saturday and came to Church yesterday with her husband and kids. She is so motivated to learn more about the Church and so excited to be baptized. I have never taught anyone who is so excited about the Gospel! It really is a priviledge to be able to teach her and her family (we're also teaching her husband, parents, and brother), and we're excited to help them progress. 

This experience also strengthened my testimony of member missionary work. Diana is so prepared to learn about the Gospel because her uncle has talked to her and testified of the Church so often. And she has seen the difference it has made in his life, and told us she wants the same thing for her own children. Never be afraid to share the Gospel- members are powerful tools in the hands of the Lord in preparing His children to accept the truth. 

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Love,

Hermana Southard
Viva México!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hello Family!

I hope all is well! Thank you so much for all of your letters; I love hearing from you all. 

Our investigator Juanita was baptized this week! It was an incredible experience. Juanita has gone through literally every type of trial over the past year. We have worked so hard to help her stay strong, and she has so much faith. Her baptism date has changed a couple of different times, which has been frustrating, but when I saw the bishop lead her down into the font on Friday I felt the Spirit so strongly. It was a beautiful experience. 

She is an investigator that the elders began teaching in March of this year. She was always very receptive and accepted a baptismal date with them, but while they were teaching her she had a bad accident with her foot and was in the hospital for a month. The accident left her in a wheel chair for another month or two, so she wasn´t baptized while the elders were still here. My companion and I located her from the area book about a week or two after I arrived here, and have been teaching her ever since! She is wonderful, and has a new glow about her since her baptism. She loves talking about the experience she had and is so excited to finally be a member of the Church. 

That was the highlight of our week. Although another highlight was that we began teaching a family that were also investigators of the elders. We had actually stopped teaching them because we thought they weren´t going to progress, when they suddenly showed up at Church one day! They came again yesterday, which literally made my day. The members were so wonderful and fellowshipped them like I´ve never seen them do before. I´ll attach the picture we took yesterday with them. They have a lot of doubts and a lot of questions, but they are a special family who we care about a lot. 

I hope you all have a great week! Tomorrow is actually México´s Independence Day. Tonight at midnight the governor of every state will do La Grita. Everyone gathers in the center of town and the governor waves a flag and yells, ¨¡Viva México!¨ and everyone repeats it. We need to be back in the apartment early tonight, so we´ll be celebrating by eating a very American Dominos Pizza and going to bed early. We´ve seen little kids dressed in traditional clothing all around town. It´s super cute. 

Anyway, have a fantastic week! I love you all!  

Love, 

Hermana Southard
Family of Investigators who came to Church

Juanita who was baptized Saturday and Bishop Rosales who baptized her

Monday, September 8, 2014

A short email

Hello everyone!

I don't have much to say this week, but I hope you all are well! This weekend was crazy. President Ramos called us around 5:15 on Friday night and told us that I had to be in Torreon the next day to sign some papers for my visa. A few hours later I traveled by bus with another sister who was being transferred to Torreon and two other elders who had to sign papers. We arrived at the mission home a little after midnight and stayed the night there. The next morning we got to have breakfast with President and Sister Ramos before we headed to the mission office to sign papers. It only took a few minutes to sign, but we stayed there for a couple of hours and waited for the sister who was being transferred to Durango and would ride back with us.

We returned to Durango right in time for the baptismal service for the other sisters serving in the ward. I sang "I Feel My Savior's Love" as a part of the program. It was a great evening. Unfortunately our investigator who was supposed to be baptized that night ended up getting really sick and wasn't able to be baptized. Hopefully she'll be baptized this Friday. 

I love you all and want you to know that I know that the Church is true! There is no doubt in my mind that it is the only true Church on the Earth. 

I hope you have a great week! Hopefully next week there will be more to write. (:

love, 

Hermana Southard

Zone during Zone Conference

Sisters in the Zone

Sisters in the Zone

Everyone who attended the baptism

P-day Ice Cream break

Casa de Helado - ice cream shop in our area

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hola!

Hello all!

Hope you've had a great week! To my friends who start school tomorrow, good luck. I hope you all have a successful semester. 

I wanted to tell you that last Monday my companion and I found the equivalent of Mexican Strawberry Days strawberries n cream. A nieveria near our house sells frozen strawberries and cream popsicle style, and they are SO GOOD. It more than makes up for the fact that I was in the MTC during strawberry days, ha ha. Also, I included a picture of a fruit we tried last week. It's called tuna (tuna fish is "atun") and it's the fruit of the nopali, which is cactus. Mexicans love nopali. Really. It actually doesn't taste too bad, but a lot of American missionaries can't get over the fact that they're eating cactus. But tuna is seriously so good. It has a lot of little seeds, which are hard to eat around, but it's a really delicious flavor. 

I also forgot to tell you last week that I realized that I start my personal study at 8:00, which is 7 your time. So I'm studying the same time you have family scripture study! And I realized yesterday that when you switch to 9:00 church, we'll be going to Church at the same time too, because mine starts at 10.

I had an experience yesterday that reminded me of your story, Dad. The past two weeks before yesterday none of our investigators came to Church. We were especially worried this week because if a certain investigator didn't come, her baptism that is scheduled for this week would have to be pushed back again. We decided to fast and pray that our investigators would come to Church this week. We put in our part by inviting them, arranging rides, etc. but put our complete trust in the Lord to help them attend Church. 

Yesterday morning the investigator who said we could pass by and pick her up for Church didn't answer her door, but when we arrived at the Church we found one of our investigators sitting happily in Priesthood, thanks to the hermano who had said he would bring him to Church. During Sunday School, we were relieved when our investigator who is supposed to be baptized this week walked in, and completely surprised when another investigator who had told us she couldn't come walked in behind her! That was such a miracle and a blessing to have them both there. And then, during Sacrament Meeting, we looked back and saw old two investigators of the elders, who hadn't been progressing, sitting in the congregation. It was an amazing Sunday. I know that the Lord answered our fast and prayers, and like you said Dad, He works through us to prepare those we teach in His own time.

I know that we can only get through this life if we rely on the Lord. With Him we can do anything, and without Him, we are nothing. It's something I'm still trying to learn, but my testimony of this truth has been strengthened so much. 

Love,

Hermana Southard
My comp and I

Tuna

Hna Tuitupou and I. We were in the MTC together and took the picture to celebrate completing 3 months.

Outside the chapel