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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!
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 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!


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 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!


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