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Monday, August 25, 2014

Espero que todos están bien!

Hello family and friends!

I hope all is well and that everyone had a great week, especially with the first week of school. This week was really unusual, but really, really great. 

We had two ward activities this week which were phenominal. The first was on Wednesday night; we actually had scheduled it for last Friday but literally no one showed up. It was a total flop. But this Wednesday we had a decent turn out, which was great! The purpose of the activity was to help the members feel comfortable sharing the Gospel. My companion and I taught a little ten minute workshop on how to present yourself to someone you don't know and how to obtain a reference for us to visit. The other companionship taught another ten minute workshop (I can't remember what their theme was) and then we sent the members out onto the streets to use what they had learned! We had selected streets in our area where we haven't had much opportunity to work and the members spent 20 minutes contacting people on those streets. It was super successful- my companion and I received five references from this activity alone! And now many members are excited to accompany us in lessons and try to give us more references. This activity was a missionary's dream!

During the activity we also gave out fliers for the activity we had on Friday. Although not as many investigators showed up as we would have hoped, it was still a very special activity. It was centered on the Plan of Salvation, and the members moved from room to room in the Church to learn more about the degrees of glory. My companion and I got to talk about the Celestial Kingdom and why baptism is necessary to enter the Celestial Kingdom, and wow, it was powerful. It's an activity I'll never forget. 

We also took a couple of our investigators to a Family Home Evening last week with a family in the ward, which was so fun. It's the first FHE I've had since entering the MTC, and it felt so good to be in that setting again. We played a game where we were asked questions about the Book of Mormon and had to find the verse that answered it. My favorite question was, "This scripture, which is only six words long (eight in English), is what you should say if you don't know what to do." The answer is 1 Nephi 13:22, which says, "And I said unto him: I know not." Ha ha. The hermano who came up with the questions told us he would use this scripture on his mission when an investigator asked a question he didn't know the answer to right away, promising that he would return with the answer the next time. Pretty clever, no?

We also had a special conference with Presidente Ramos this Friday. I love learning from the President- it is always such a blessing when he comes. He talked about how to use the doctrine of the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement to help investigators overcome challenges with the Law of Chasity, and it was a great conference. He also spoke about how we should work with the members (as always) and mentioned that everyone should be studying Preach My Gospel, and how the manual for missionary work is the same whether you are a full time missionary or not.

We also had a funny moment this week when we tried to contact a woman on the street. She was very friendly, but not really interested in the Church. She was however, adament that I should marry her son who lives in Kentucky. Like, completely serious. She kept going on about how she was going to tell him that she found an American girlfriend for him. My companion was dying. 

I sang "Called to Serve" in Spanish for the first time this week; I don't know how I haven't sung it before. There are four verses in Spanish, and my favorite line is about how we are called to bring light to a world in darkness. As members of the Church, we have what the rest of the world needs. It is a priviledge to be a full time missionary, but so many people have told me that the real mission begins once I return home. It's true; we really do need to stand as witnesses of God in all times, and in all things, and in all places. I have no doubt that this Gospel is true, and that it blesses our lives in ways we don't even realize.

I love you all so much! Thank you for your good examples and support. Have a great week!

Hermana Southard

p.s. lo siento, I didn't take any photos this week.

Monday, August 18, 2014

¿Cómo les van?

Hello family and friends!

I have officially completed my first transfer here in the mission! And next week I'll complete three months. It still feels like I have forever to go, which is good in the fact that I also feel like I still have so much to learn and improve. Everyone says that once you get to the point that you can count the number of months you have left on your ten fingers, the time flies. It's hard to imagine being at that point right now, but I'm so grateful to be where I am. Each day in the mission is an opportunity to grow as I try to serve the Lord and do some good in this part of His vineyard.

We got to attend a baptism this Saturday of a ten year old boy named Samir that the other sisters in the ward were teaching. It was so wonderful. He is so young, but has such a strong testimony of the Gospel. He lives with a family in the ward who has a 21 year old son who baptized Samir and who is preparing to go on a mission. He is going to accompany us every Wednesday evening in lessons. These two "brothers" are such good examples to each other and it's awesome watching them build each other up. 

We had comp exchanges with the Sister Training leaders (a position like zone leaders, but for sisters. We report all of our numbers to them instead of our district leader) this week. I left the area to be with Hermana Reyes. She is from Puebla, Mexico and has been out in the mission for a year and three months. I learned a lot from her, and she was so kind and supportive as we taught together. It was such a blessing to be her companion for the day; I hope that I can be as good of a missionary as she is by the time I have reached the point she is at in the mission.

I had a funny moment during personal study this morning. I was reading in 2 Nephi 27, where Nephi quotes Isaiah. There's a verse that talks about those who fight against Zion will fight in vain, like a man who eats or drinks in a dream but wakes up hungry or thirsty. I applied that to myself, because last night I had a dream that I was with my mom and Hailey, buying candy at a dulceria (candy shop), but woke up and remembered that I'm a missionary, and they're in Utah ha ha. 

My testimony was strenghthened this week in a lot of ways. I have a strong testimony that the Lord allows us to pass through adversity to refine us. He loves us so, so much, more than we can comprehend; and like Elder Wirthlin said, He sees us as "the glorious beings we are capable of becoming." He puts us through these experiences so that we can become all that we are meant to be.

I love you all so much! Good luck starting school this week. School started today here in Mexico too. I pray for my family and friends everyday. I know the Church is true, that God loves us, and that with Him, we can do anything.

Hermana Southard

Our apartment! We live in the grey building above the second hand shop.

The Sister Missionaries in my ward: me, my comp Hna Leiataua, Hna Tuitupo, and Hna Rodriguez
My shoe tan line. "You know you're not new anymore when you have one of these!"

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hello Family!

Hello family!

I hope you are all doing well, and having a good last few weeks of summer before school starts. School starts here on August 18th. Their summer vacation was only a month long, but I think they might get a month off in December too. 

Any way, things are going well here. We had interviews with our mission president on Tuesday and he gave me some good advice. We also had a zone conference on Wednesday, which I loved. We did a group practice where we divided into groups and taught members of the church who then gave us feedback. It was an awesome practice, and I learned a ton. We have great zone leaders who always teach awesome lessons during zone conferences. 

Yesterday I sang in Church for the YW Program that the ward had. Two Young Women earned their medallions and moved into Relief Society, which is why they had the program. Sacrament meeting went almost a half an hour long, but it was such a good program and reminded me of how much I love the Young Women's program. The auxilaries in the Church are inspired. 

I'm short on time and don't have much more to say, so here are some pictures: 

1. We went to Pollo Feliz, the only Mexican chain restaurant that I know of. The people here love it!



2. A member of the ward. She sells candy, and we love trying the different Mexican candies after our lessons with her.


3. One of the Young Women who earned her medallion yesterday.


4. With my companion outside the church. Yesterday was her 24th birthday! It was the first birthday she celebrated without her twin and her mom, who also has the same birthday. 


5. This tree is jamica. They are everywhere here and so beautiful. They use the flowers to make agua de jamica, a drink. 


I love you all so much!! Have a great week. Thank you all for your love and support. I know without a doubt that this church is true. I have seen the difference it has made in my life and the difference it makes in the lives of our investigators. God directs this Church; He lives, and He and His Son love us. 

Love, 

Hermana Southard

Monday, August 4, 2014

More photos!

Districto Mezquital in Durango

Family of Members in Durango

Investigator in Durango


Hello!

Hello family and friends! I hope all is well. I really love being here in México, and here in Durango especially. The Lord has blessed me so much by allowing me to be here. I feel like I have a family here, which really helps when I´m so far away from you all. I realized this week that I have seen the Lord´s promise in Doctrine and Covenants when He says we will have ¨angels round about us to bear us up¨. For me, those angels are the members in this ward, and especially la familia Limones, la familia Hernández Salas and la Hermana Mejia. La Hermana Mejia is the mission doctor here in Durango and also a member of our ward. We were at her house a lot this week because she and her daughter in law both fed us twice. She is one of many incredible ward members we have and I look up to her a lot. She is so humble and so willing to help us all the time. And yesterday, as we were leaving her home she gave me a ¨mom hug´´ and told us that if we ever need anything she´s there for us. It was so, so kind of her and exactly what I needed. She also found out that I sing and my companion and I play the piano, so we´re going to do a special musical number next week as a part of the Young Women´s program they´re doing in Sacrament Meeting. I´m singing ¨Sigueme¨ by Janice Kapp Perry (¨Follow Me¨ in English) and my companion is going to accompany me. I´m super excited!

I attached the photo of  the lavadora we use to wash our clothes. It´s outside on our patio. We fill that yogurt tub with water from the faucet, pour it over the clothing to get it wet, rub the soap bar over the clothing and scrub it against the textured base. It gets the clothes really clean! Then we rinse it in a faucet we have on the patio, soak it in softener and hang to dry using the hangers on the clothes line. It´s not too bad having to wash clothes this way, really. No one has a dryer, even if they use a washing machine- everyone just hangs clothes to dry. Last week it started to rain after we had washed everything, so I hung my clothes on the shower rod and pointed the fan on them to dry. My new fear in life is that it will rain when I have laundry to dry! 

During a hard moment this week the Lord comforted me by putting into my mind the scripture Doctrine and Covenants 100:12, which says, ¨Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end.¨ Even though it´s hard, I love being a missionary. This week we helped two different investigators pray for the first time, which was incredible. I love bearing testimony that God is our Father and that He wants to hear from us and help us. Most people here in México are religious, but it´s awesome being able to help people find the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this Church.

Our investigator who is supposed to be baptized in a couple of weeks is experiencing a lot of challenges with literally every aspect of her life. The adversary is real, and every investigator we work with has their own difficulties.  And we are working hard with the members of the ward to help the investigators. I´m excited to watch what we can do together and with the Lord. The mission is so hard and so beautiful all at the same time.

I love you all! For the Dent Family, I can´t wait for you to come to México, my country (: Have a great week!
Love you!!

Hermana Southard