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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