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Monday, November 16, 2015

has the last year and a half gone by really quickly, or is it just me?

Hey family!

I hope you all had a great week! Thanks as always for your love and support.

This week was a great week. We worked really hard and were super busy, and it was worth it! We saw a lot of progress both in the work with the members and in the area in general this week, which was such a blessing. We had a couple of investigators come to church for the first time yesterday. We´ve been working with one of them to come to church for a while now, and last week she told us that she wasn´t going to be able to go, but promised us that she would come this week. So when we went to teach her on Wednesday we agreed to meet outside of our apartment to walk to church together. When we walked out yesterday she was waiting for us and as we started walking she started telling us about how the night before she was running around at 9:00 trying to find a place where she could buy more minutes to call us and tell us that she wasn´t going to go. She said she went to like four different places that normally sell credit for cell phones and every one was either closed or told her that they didn´t offer that service. We told her, "See? You obviously needed to come to church today." :) And the most interesting part is in Sunday School the week before we finished the course and the teacher decided to wait and start over in January, so instead of giving the normal lesson she gave one on Faith. We´ve been working with this same investigator a lot because she feels like she´s completely lost her faith, and the lesson was perfect for her. It was amazing how everything worked out! And she had a really good experience at church.

Today we went to el Centro with the other sisters in the Zone, and it was the best P-day I´ve ever had! We arrived in the center of town just in time to see a parade (this Friday is a national holiday, Día de la Revolución de México). After watching the parade for a while we went all over town seeing a few of the tourist sights- we went on a museum tour of the mining history here in Durango and a museum, and we were going to go on the Teleferico (gondola to see the city) but it was closed because of weather conditions, so I treated the other sisters to smoothies and brownies in a little café that we found. It was so fun and so sweet of Hermana Vázquez to think of doing that for Hermana Hernández and I. 

To be honest, I´ve kind of been avoiding writing this email.....I just don´t know what to say! I seriously can´t believe that it´s already been a year and a half, and I honestly don´t have words to express my gratitude for the opportunity that I´ve had to be a missionary. It has definitely been hard, but I have grown and learned so much, and become so much closer to my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I learned so many things on my mission that I wouldn´t have time to list them all, but I just want to share that I know that this work, this Church, and this Gospel are true. God is our loving Heavenly Father who created this plan for our eternal progress and we have eternal potential as His sons and daughters. I am so grateful for His Son Jesus Christ; because of Him each of us can have a new beginning and eternal joy.

Last transfer, an elder who was going home said in his final testimony, "Thanks to the Atonement, I have no regrets about my mission." I loved that. I was definitely not a perfect missionary, but this work is perfect and I am grateful for the Perfect Being who accepts my humble offering. He has given me so many blessings that the past year and a half haven´t been a sacrifice at all. It´s just another blessing, one of the biggest ones I have ever received. 

Mom and Dad, I´ll see you on Friday. Everyone else, I´ll see you on Thanksgiving. I love you all so much and I know that this Gospel is true. 

Love forever, 

Hermana Ashley Rose Southard
Misión México Torreón

Monday, November 9, 2015

once upon a time and answered prayers

Hello family!

Thanks for the emails this week. Yes, I am so excited to see you, but yes, I am starting to feel lots of emotions as I begin my last full week here. I´m ready to come home, I know I am, but.................

Bueno. In a few hours we´re actually going to go to the center of town for a few hours before District Meeting. Hermana Vázquez, a sister in our zone, asked permission for the six sisters in our zone to go to el Centro before Hermana Hernández and I leave in a couple of weeks. It was really sweet of her and I´m excited to go. I´ll send pictures next week. 

The ward activity turned out really well! Not a lot of members attended, but three of our investigators and lots of members from the other ward went, so I think it was worth it. Everyone who did go really liked it a lot and the next day were telling all of the other members that they missed out. The Elders came up with a really creative story line. The skit begins with the basic story of Little Red Riding Hood, on her way to Grandmother´s house, when she meets the wolf and he sends her down another path so that he can beat her to her Grandmother´s house. While traveling down the path, Little Red Riding Hood finds the Three Little Pigs and starts to play with them. Then the narrator comes in and asks the pigs what they´re doing in the story and they´re arguing about why they should be there when the wolf shows up, impatient because Little Red Riding Hood has taken so long to get to Grandma´s house. The wolf decides that he´s better off eating them all right there, and starts chasing them when Maleficent arrives (dramatic entry with an evil laugh) and asks what they´re doing. The wolf tries to act all big and bad, but she turns him into a chihuahua and is about to carry out her evil plans with all the other characters when the rancher prince arrives to save the day. The prince and Maleficent begin to fight when we go back to the day before, when the three little pigs are playing hide and seek when the missionaries contact the pig who´s doing the seeking. She tells them that she´s not interested in listening but gives them Maleficent´s address as a referral. The skit goes back to the fight between the prince and Maleficent, who´s about to beat him, when the narrator warns that the missionaries are coming. Everyone runs and hides in the house and the missionaries arrive and knock at the door, but no one answers. They´re standing outside figuring out what to do when the grandmother arrives. They contact her and she tells them that she´s a member and that Maleficent is her daughter. She lets the missionaries in and convinces Maleficent to listen to them, and the skit ends with the missionaries converting Maleficent. And they all live happily ever after. :)

So that was the big activity of this week, preparing for the skit. But we also had a really good experience and received a big answer to prayers yesterday. On Tuesday we had Zone Conference and decided to do a zone fast Saturday-Sunday. We were fasting for the investigators and for our ward. After sacrament meeting a brother in the ward asked if he could talk to us and expressed that he wants to help us motivate the ward members so that they begin participating in the work. We came up with a plan to train the ward members every Sunday that the bishop approved and they´re going to start in two weeks. It was literally an answer to three months´ of fasting and prayers and trying to get the members to work. Even though I won´t be here to help, I felt like all of the effort we´ve put in over the past few months is finally paying off. The Lord answers prayers in His own time, but He answers them.

I love you all so much! I´m ready to give it all I´ve got during my last full week. I love this work.

Love,

Hermana Southard    

cast photo: (left to right, from the top)
Elder Lima, the big bad wolf; Omar & Daniel, the missionaries; Elder Sánchez, el principe ranchero (the rancher prince); Hna Isis, who held the signs "And They Lived Happily Ever After", etc; Óscar, the narrator; Lelani, Little Red Riding Hood, Lety, Little Pig #2, Hna Peña, Little Pig #3, me, Malefica (Malificent); Hermana Hernández, the grandmother; and Hermana Osorio, Little Pig #1.





Monday, November 2, 2015

Feliz Día de Muertos!

Hola hola!

First of all, thank you so much for all of the emails! I am so sorry if I don´t have time to respond. But I absolutely love hearing from all of you. And thank you so much for all the words of support...I´m finding that the last transfer has some unique challenges but I´m doing good overall!

A couple of you asked about Día de los Muertos. Yep, it is today. The cemetary is in our area, and later on today we´re going to go to the market that they set up outside of the cemetary to contact and talk to people about the Plan of Salvation and Temples/Family History. It´s actually kind of funny, because the cemetary is partly in the area of Barrio Central and partly in the area of Barrio Guadalupe, and last year I went with my first companion to the same market to contact. I remember that when we had finished contacting we were walking when we both commented how the next year on Día de los Muertos, I would be just weeks away from finishing my mission and she would already be home. I can´t believe that year has already gone by. 

We´ve been practicing all week for the ward activity we´re going to have on Saturday. Next week I´ll send you a summary of the plotline of the skit we´re doing. It turned out really well and I´m excited. :) Two members from Mezquital are helping us and wow, acting is more complicated than I thought! Ha ha but it´s going to be great :)

I´m short on time (again), and have to go, but thank you again for all of your support. I know that this gospel and this work are true. I am so grateful for the opportunity I´ve had to serve here and the weeks I have left. 

Hermana Southard

Monday, October 26, 2015

my week in bullet points

Hey family!

I hope you´re all well! I´m sure you´ve had a really busy week. I don´t have a lot of time to write today, but here are the highlights of my week:

-on Monday we had our district meeting and we were talking about teaching simply so that the investigators truly understand the doctrine. We read a quote in PMG that talks about how we should be able to teach the doctrines of the gospel in such a way that even a child can understand them, and then we did the coolest practice ever! Our district leader brought in a bunch of Primary kids from his ward and each companionship taught them a lesson. My favorite part was when the elders asked the little boy they were teaching what substances we should avoid to keep the Word of Wisdom and he answered, "Alcohol, drugs, tea, coffee, candy...." ha ha. I loved the practice and loved being with the little kids.

-we´re planning an activity with the elders and sisters who are serving in Barrio Mezquital (the ward right next to ours- we share a church building). It´s going to be a talent show and we´re presenting a skit for the members. The elders came up with a really original script that includes a bunch of fairytale characters and the missionaries, of course. They cast me as Maleficent......not sure what to think about that. But in the end she´s baptized and gets called as the Stake RS President. 

-we found and started teaching a really amazing family this week: Familia Hernández Obregón. We contacted the parents on Tuesday and set up an appointment for the next day, but when we went back the older gentleman who answered the door told us they weren´t home (apparently he tells that to everyone who knocks). Long story short, we taught them for the first time yesterday and it was a beautiful lesson with an incredible Spirit, and all of them accepted to be baptized in December. We´re going to keep working hard with them, and I´m super excited to see them progress. 

-not so happy news: Hermana Garcia was transferred today :( that was hard. I was hoping to be able to finish up her training and be with her until the end of my mission. But now Hermana Peña and I are here in the area.

-The scripture that I am "ponderizing" (the verb "ponderize" is "meditizar" in Spanish. I was impressed with that translation during General Conference) this week is Alma 34:38. Actually, a few weeks before GC the assistants challenged us to memorize a scripture from the Book of Mormon every week, and I´ve really loved it. I chose this scripture because Thanksgiving is one month from today, and I want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude during this last month on my mission. 

-We were also challenged to finish the Book of Mormon in three months (by the end of October) and I´m so close! Hermana Garcia and I were barely starting Alma when October started, so we decided to study only the Book of Mormon during personal study. I´m in Mormon chapter 6 right now.

Well, my short email ended up pretty long. :) Sorry it took me 17 months to figure out how to write a good email. It´s Hermana Hernández´s birthday today (we were companions twice in Torreón) so we invited them over to eat tacos al pastor before we have to head to the Camionera for comp exchanges. I love you all so, so, so much. I´ll talk to you next week!

Hermana Southard

Monday, October 19, 2015

Love from Durango

Hey family!

I hope you´re all recovered from the crazy weekend of weddings :)....

It was a crazy week for us too. We had interviews with Presidente on Friday, which definitely helped me calm down a little bit. It was interesting adjusting to having two missionaries in training, but we´re all good. The good thing is that both of my hijas are dedicated missionaries who are here for the right reasons and willing to work! And they are both learning so fast. Seeing Hermana Peña, who just barely arrived, has helped me recognize the progress that Hermana García has had over these last six weeks. They always say that training is like raising a child, and I kind of feel like I´m getting a more realistic parenting experience training two at the same time, ha ha. It has really made me think about what it will be like when I actually have kids and have to worry about the individual needs of all of them while helping them all at the same time, if that makes sense. Even though I was so nervous at the beginning of last week, this week has been a week of a lot of pondering and prayer, and I know that this experience is what I need to finish out my mission. 

The highlight of our week was definitely the stake activity we had yesterday. There were lots of baptisms scheduled for the same day, so the Zone Leaders decided to combine all of them and do a stake baptismal service with a special program. All week long we were inviting members and investigators, because the program was made specifically with the investigators in mind. It turned out so well. There were a few talks, several videos, and all of the missionaries in the zone sang two numbers: "Our Savior´s Love", and "The Test" by Janice Kapp Perry. I actually sang the first little part of "The Test" solo, and it turned out well. We were all dressed in white. The Spirit was so strong, and it was so neat to see so many baptisms all at once- there ended up being six or seven of them.  

Well, I love you lots and I am excited to see you all, but I honestly still can´t believe that I´ll be going home so soon. It just doesn´t feel real. But we´re working hard and last week we found lots of new investigators that I know are going to progress. Actually, Mom and Dad, I think you´re going to get to attend my last baptism here in the mission. We have two investigators with baptismal dates scheduled for the 21st of November. I was really hoping you would get to be here for one. :) Please keep praying for us and our investigators. I know that this is the work of the Lord, and I am so happy doing it. 

I love you, 

Hermana Southard



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"terminar with a bang"

Hello family!

I´m not sure if Hermana Anderl emailed you yesterday to tell you that I would be writing today.

Yesterday I headed to Torreón to pick up another new companion, Hermana Peña. I´m now going to be training her and Hermana Garcia at the same time. I seriously couldn´t believe it when the Sister Training Leaders told me, and called the Assistants and told them they must be crazy. They assured me that it was Presidente who chose the trainers, not them. "You´re going to finish with a bang!" they told me. So yesterday at 5:30 Hermana Garcia and I headed to the Camionera here in Durango so I could take a bus to Torreón while Hermana García waited for us with another companionship here in Durango. We had the meeting there in the offices in Torreón and then returned in bus and arrived here in Durango last night around 8:45. 

I was feeling so many emotions yesterday- nervous, weak, insecure- and asked the assistants to give me a blessing. What caught my attention most was that I was told that this experience will help me to learn patience and how the Atonement can heal me. I know and am exercising my faith that this experience, even though it will be difficult, will be exactly what I need to finish my mission. I am grateful for every experience that I have had until now, and that I´ll be able to finish my mission with a bang :) I know that Jesus Christ and the Atonement will be essential to make these last six weeks of my mission the sweetest. 

I love you!

Hermana Southard


1. All of the sisters who were transferred in the Central Camionera in Torreón. Almost every companionship had transfers!
2. My new companion, Hermana Peña


Monday, October 5, 2015

La última conferencia aquí en Durango

Hello family!

I hope you had a great week and a great conference weekend! This week went well for us. It seems like every week goes by faster than the last. One highlight this week was teaching one of our investigators, Juan Carlos. I know I mentioned him when we started teaching him a few weeks ago. He´s progressing really well and has a baptismal date scheduled for the 31st of this month. On Thursday we taught him and the bishop´s wife accompanied us. We talked about the Word of Wisdom and the Atonement, and how the Atonement can help us to overcome our addictions. As we were leaving the bishop´s wife told us that during the lesson she thought of a church video that she wanted Juan Carlos to see, so went with him to the bishop´s house the next day to watch it. It´s called "In the Master´s Hands" (or something like that), and it was such a powerful lesson. I had never seen the video, but it´s really good. We talked about the worth of souls and how God sees us for what we can become, and how He helps us to reach our potential. I was so, so grateful to Hermana Hernández (the bishop´s wife) for receiving the inspiration to watch it with him. Members are so crucial to this work!

So Saturday was absolutely nuts. The first session of Conference was going to be broadcast live in our building at 11, but we left the house at 9:30 because Alejandro, our recent convert who was baptized last week, wanted to go to all four sessions of conference and we weren´t able to find anyone with a truck who could take him in his wheelchair, so we picked him up and walked to the Church. It was an adventure, but he was so determined to see all the sessions. After dropping him off we went with a sister in the ward to pick up a couple of investigators and arrived at the church a couple of minutes before 11. We walked into the chappel were surprised when the broadcast wasn´t going. They were having major technical difficulties and couldn´t get it to work. One elder managed to pull up the audio on a member´s phone and we listened to the first two talks, and halfway through the third talk they got the broadcast to work. It lasted until the talk was finished, but then went out again and they announced that there was no internet connection in the area. So one of the ward members took our investigators to another building to catch the last 40 minutes while we stayed with Alejandro, trying to figure out how to get him to another building. The bishop from another ward ended up being able to help us take him, and we arrived in time to hear the closing hymn by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was honestly so crazy that it was hard to feel the Spirit and enjoy the Conference, but it all worked out! I was especially grateful that our investigators were able to go and see at least a part of the conference. Yesterday we were able to see both sessions and the morning session was my favorite. I loved President Nelson´s talk most of all. I absolutely love General Conference and can´t wait to go back and read the talks. When I asked you to sent me the conference Ensign a few months ago Mom, I set the goal to read all of the last session´s conference talks before this conference. And I´m so glad I did! I feel like i got so much out of them, reading them for a second time. I´m planning on doing it again with this conference. 

Well, I love you all so much and hope you have a fantastic week! I´ll be praying for you lots. Thanks for all of the emails and for the pillowcase! I love it and put it on my pillow. I love you and it won´t be long before I see you again. :)

Love,

Hermana Southard

pictures:

1. A family from another ward that we met yesterday in between sessions
2. Alejandro wanted a picture with the elders: Elder Kemp, Elder Maldonado, Elder Buhler, and Elder Pérez


Monday, September 28, 2015

This weeks letter

Hola familia!

Sorry again for not sending the email last week :) I hope you enjoy the email and the pictures. 

This week was a good one, filled with lots of special spiritual experiences. A couple that I wanted to share with you:

On Thursday I had to travel to Torreón to renew my visa. I traveled with another American sister who arrived a couple of months ago in the mission and my companion and her companion stayed here in Durango and worked in their area. As we were getting on the bus, there was a woman standing behind us who caught my attention. She was traveling alone with a baby who was probably about 8 months old. We offered to help her with the stroller she was carrying and when we boarded the bus she ended up sitting behind us. As we were traveling to Torreón I had the feeling that I should give her a Book of Mormon, but didn´t know when. When we arrived in Torreón and got off the bus we started to walk out of the bus station when I said to my companion, "Let´s go back and talk to the woman that was behind us." I just could not shake the feeling that I needed to give her a Book of Mormon. So we went up to her and told her that we could tell that she was a really great mom, and that we wanted to give her something. She was so surprised and happy when we handed her the Book of Mormon and started to tell us about how much she needed help right now. She explained that she´s from Durango but is going through a divorce and came to Torreón to finalize the divorce process. She told us she was sure that God put us in her path, because she was praying for help. She´s going to be in Torreón for a few months, but we took her address and I´m going to figure out how to send the referral in a few months. I was so, so glad I paid attention to the prompting that I had. I almost let that opportunity go, and I know that I would have regretted it immensely. 

On Friday a very special investigator named Alejandro was baptized. He´s 45 years old and has various physical disabilities, but it has been such a sweet experience working with him. He can´t express himself exactly how he would like to, but he understands everything perfectly and has really gained a testimony of the restored gospel. There was such a sweet spirit in his baptismal service. My favorite part was when we sang "The Spirit of God" as the closing hymn. It´s his favorite hymn and he requests that we sing it every time we go to see him :)

We also did get to attend the General Women´s Meeting. It was in Spanish of course, but I still loved it. My favorite talk was Sister McConkie´s talk on the work of salvation. And I am sooo excited for General Conference this weekend!! It will be great. 

I love you all and hope you have a great week. Send lots of pictures of General Conference weekend with the fam!

Love,

Hermana Southard



oops!

I am SO sorry that I forgot to send this last week! I didn´t realize until I read your letter Dad when you mentioned that I didn´t send a family email. I typed it up but I guess I forgot to hit send. So this week you get two emails from me :)

Here is what I wrote last week:

Hey family!

I hope you had a great week! This week we were able to see a lots of miracles in the area. Yesterday a new investigator named Juan Carlos attended church for the first time. The Zone Leaders contacted him and passed us the referral and we set up an appointment for Saturday in the evening. While we were looking for his address we actually contacted him and a friend who were sitting outside without realizing it was him and even though his friend tried to shoo us away he made his friend listen to us as we introduced ourselves and then asked, "Are you looking for anyone in particular right now?" When we replied that we were looking for Juan Carlos he explained that it was him and let us share a message with him right there. His friend also listened to us and even though he was friendlier while we were teaching, when we were inviting him to Church he was saying things like, "Don´t rush in to anything, blah blah blah" and when we left my companion said that she felt like we had the shoulder devil there trying to convince Juan Carlos to not commit to anything. Ha ha, but the good news is that he went to church yesterday and has a baptismal date for the 24th of October. He has a really sincere desire to change his life, and I think he´ll progress a lot. 

We are also going to have a baptism this Friday! Our investigator is named Alejandro. He was one of the investigators of the sisters who were in Central 1 who we inherited when they closed the area. He´s such a special investigator. He´s in a wheelchair and has physical and mental disabilities but has progressed so well. I´ll send pictures and more info about him next week :)

On Tuesday we had to be in the house early because the 15th is Mexico´s Independence Day. I was feeling pretty patriotic with my Mexico t-shirt, flag, and Mexican hot chocolate, while my comp was singing hymns in English and eating PB&J. I made her try PB&J last Monday and even though she acted like she didn´t like it I caught her making it on Tuesday night :) It was the first time she had tried peanut butter!

I love you all! My time is up, but I´ll talk to you next week. I know the Church is true and that this is the Lord´s work. Have a great week!

Hermana Southard



Monday, September 14, 2015

hola!

Hey family!

I hope you´ve had a great week! This was a pretty good week for us too. There were a lot of ups and downs, but that´s life, right? There are always a lot of challenges here in the mission but I know that it´s going to be that way all throughout my life. Actually, a couple of months ago I asked for a blessing (I ask for Priesthood blessings all the time- they´re a really big source of strength for me) and as part of the blessing I was told that Heavenly Father has many challenges and many blessings in store for me, and that I need to prepare myself to receive them. So I know that everything that I go through here is to help me prepare for life after the mission. 

The highlight of the week was definitely being able to attend the broadcast of the Mexico City Temple re-dedication. President Eyring and Elder Holland attended, as well as the Mexico Area Presidency and a couple of members of the Seventy. It was so incredible being able to be in the "temple" again, because the chapel becomes an extension of the temple during these sessions. Please don´t ever take the temple for granted! After 14 months of not being able to attend the temple, I was so excited to be able to attend the session on Sunday. As soon as we walked in I was overwhelmed by the Spirit and really felt like I was in the temple. I never wanted to leave! It felt so good to just sit there and wait for the session to start. And the session was incredible. Elder Paul B. Pieper spoke on how temple worship and sacrifice are related (in Spanish!) and I loved his talk. Elder Kent F. Richards also spoke (also in Spanish) on how we need the temple more than anything else in our lives. And Elder Holland´s talk was incredible. It seriously blew me away. He spoke on section 2 of Doctrine and Covenants and his insights were amazing. The Spirit was so strong during all of it. It was an unforgettable experience. 

Well, I hope you have a great week! I´ll be praying for you all. 

Love, 

Hermana Southard 


Monday, September 7, 2015

happy p-day

Hello my crazy family!

I told Brina last week that you guys seem to go on vacation every other week. Ha ha but it sounds like you had a good time in California, and I´m happy for Ashley (and Shawn).

Okay Mom, before reading this next part you have to promise me that you´re not going to worry. I really don´t have much to tell this week because I got sick on Wednesday and we were in the house Thursday and Friday while I recovered. But don´t worry, I´m totally fine now, and I was very well taken care of by my "mom" here in México, Hermana Mejia. It was good to see her again, even though I was sick. It was kind of frustrating being in the house for two days, because we also lost all of Monday and half of Tuesday from when I went to Torreón to pick up my companion. So we really only worked three full days this week. This week we´ll be trying to make up for lost time, looking for investigators, and trying to get things going here in the area.

My companion is great. She came ready to work and is already a great missionary. I feel blessed to be able to train her because there are many missionaries who don´t come quite so prepared and it´s even more of a struggle helping them to adjust to the mission life. 

This Sunday we get to go to the temple rededication! I´m super excited for that. It will be an incredible experience. 

Sorry that there´s not much to tell you....with being sick this week not much happened. But I have lots of faith that this week will be great. I love you all so much and pray for you daily!

Love,

Hermana Southard

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I can't believe it's September already!

Hello Family! 

I can´t believe it´s September already! The time is flying by way too fast. Yesterday I went to Torreón to pick up my new companion, who arrived in the mission field yesterday from the México City MTC. I´m going to finish up my mission training her- the missionary training program lasts 12 weeks, which is the amount of time I have left in the mission. Crazy!! It´s going to be a new experience, training a new missionary. But I can tell already that my companion is going to be a great missionary. She was telling me about how she tried contacting in the airport and got rejected, and I just laughed and told her that she´ll get used to it. Her name is Hermana Garcia, she´s 21 years old, and is from Morelos, México.

I have to admit, I was nervous when I heard about these transfers. I knew it was pretty likely I was going to be training because my mission president told me in response to one of my weekly letters, but the surprise came when we called the other two sisters who were serving in this ward and they told us that they were both being transferred to Torreón because they were shutting down the area. My companion and I are now going to be in an area that was divided between two companionships before, so this week we´re going to be learning the area. That will be an adventure. 

Even though I was nervous, I felt a lot better after the training meeting that we had in the mission office yesterday. I was the last one to arrive because I was coming from Durango, so when I walked in they had started by going around and introducing themselves. A short while after I walked in one of the APs (Elder Devino, the one you talked to on the phone) grabbed Presidente´s phone and connected it up to the projector, putting a picture of Presidente with two people on the screen. It took me a second to realize that it was a picture of Presidente with two of my converts, José Ángel and Flor Adriana. Presidente started talking about how this weekend he was in Durango for the Stake Conference in the stake Durango del Valle, and how as part of the conference the brothers who had recently received the Melchisedek Priesthood were presented. He said that one of the most joyful and spiritual parts of the conference was seeing José Ángel presented as a newly ordained elder, and learning that he was there thanks to the efforts of one of his sister missionaries. He told me that they´re preparing to go to the temple to be sealed with their three children next year. Everything that Presidente said was so sweet, and it filled me with so much joy to see that that family, familia Ramirez Pérez, is progressing. He spoke to the new missionaries about how that is the purpose of this work, helping people to progress in the gospel and have their own eternal family.

I love you all so much!! I am so grateful for my own eternal family. I love sharing this gospel and allowing others to reach the goal of being together as a family forever. That is the finality of this gospel, and I know it is true.

Love,

Hermana Southard

If you look at their shoes, you can tell who the new missionaries and trainers are. (Dad's observation)

Monday, August 24, 2015

the phone call.

Hello family!

So here in the México Torreón Mission once a missionary has only three months left the Mission Secretary, Hermana Navarrete, calls and asks which airport is closest to your house. It´s the famous phone call that means that you´re on your way home. On Tuesday morning my companion and I were studying when the phone rang and I started freaking out because I saw that it was the Mission Secretary. When I answered Hermana Navarrete asked me if I like the Olympic Games, and what was my favorite event. I told her I liked swimming, and we talked about how once the athletes are about to finish they go even harder. Then she read to me Alma 36:24, which says, "Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." And started talking about how I´ve worked hard as a missionary and I just started crying. It was so sweet everything that she said, but it still felt awful. After that I was a little bit emotional for a day or two, but I think I´m all good now. We´ll see how I am as I get closer to finishing up. 

It was a pretty normal week. There aren´t any progressing investigators in the area right now, so we´re doing a lot of finding and working with the members to find new investigators. I´m kind of short on time, but guess what? I think we might be able to go to the broadcast of the re-dedication of the Mexico City Temple!! I am so excited. Even though there are a a few temples that are closer than the one Mexico City, it´s the temple that everyone loves because it was the first one here in Mexico, and I think one of the first ones outside of the United States. I heard a cool story about the temple a few weeks ago: in 1985 there was a huge earthquake in Mexico City and many buildings were destoyed, but the recently completed temple stayed standing. Many people saw angels surrounding the temple during the earthquake, supporting it. And many people who weren´t members were witnesses as well, and were converted to the gospel when they saw that miracle. Beautiful, right? The Lord loves His saints here in Mexico, just as He loves them all around the world. I have come to love them as well for their dedication and devotion to the Gospel, and I hope to someday be able to go to the Mexico City temple. 

I love you all!

Love,

Hermana Southard


Monday, August 17, 2015

durangoooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello from Durango!

Yep, I´m back! I was transferred today and arrived in what will probably be my last area (crazy!). The area is called Central 2, which is right next to my first area, Guadalupe 2. I came here once on comp exchanges as STL here in Durango and we always traveled through the area to go to district meetings when I was in Guadalupe, so I am a little bit familiar with it already. I am honestly so excited to be back in Durango. Even though Durango and Torreón are only 3 or 4 hours apart, it feels like they belong to two completely different missions. The people here in Durango are so much more receptive to the Gospel and I am so excited to be working here again. I´m also super excited because I´ll most likely get to see members and converts from Guadalupe during Stake Conference and activities. I´m in the same stake/zone that I was in when I started the mission, so it kind of feels like everything´s come full circle. And, this area is right in the center of Durango, with all of the markets and museums and shopping, so I will definitely be enjoying my P-days here :)

On Saturday an investigator from the area I just came from is going to be baptized. His name is Gael, and he´s an 11 year old boy who is the son of an inactive member. We´ve been teaching him for about 2 months and it was such a blessing getting to teach him. The way we found him was interesting: my first week in Roma we were eating with a sister and when we shared a message afte the meal and asked for a referral, she told us that she had heard that an inactive member of the Church that she had known before had recently moved back into the ward boundaries with her daughter and grandkids, and that the grandkids weren´t members, but she didn´t know exactly where they were living and was going to try to find out to pass us the referral. That same day, we left her house and a short while later ran into and contacted Norma, Gael´s mom and the daughter of the inactive member that the sister from the ward knew. We set up an appointment and went back the next day. Even though Norma still hasn´t attended Church, she started taking her kids to Church and we began teaching Gael and preparing him to be baptized. It has been an incredibly spiritual experience teaching him. Even though he´s young, he understands everything so well, and during the whole teaching process I thought about how the Lord had prepared him to accept the Gospel at this time. Actually, on Saturday we attended the baptism of another 11 year old boy and I was thinking about how some of the strongest converts that I know are 11 and 12 year old boys, many of whom are the only members in their families. As we were watching that baptism I remembered the scripture in Alma 13:3-4 that talks about how priesthood holders here on the earth were prepared to come to the earth and receive the priesthood since the pre-existence, where they showed exceptional faith and good works. It´s so amazing how these young, young boys have been prepared and allowed to accept the Gospel at an age that allows them to exercise the Aaronic priesthood in the offices of deacon, teacher, and priest, prepare for a mission, receive the Melchizedeck priesthood and serve in the Church their whole life. They´re part of God´s priesthood army, and I feel so priviledged to be able to help some of them learn and accept the Gospel. 

I forgot to mention that my companion is Hermana Perez, from Cancun. I´m going to finish up the last two weeks of her training. Hermana Tuitupou was training her and we basically switched places- she´s in Roma as STL and I´m here with her trainee. 

Well, I am super content. I know that there will obviously be lots of trials in this area, as there are in every area, but I am so happy to be here and I know we´re going to see lots of miracles. Durango is where I belong here in the mission. I love you all and hope you have a great week! I am, as always, so grateful for the oportunity that I have to be a missionary. I know that God lives, that He loves us, that Jesus Christ is His Son, and that this is His Church. There is no doubt in my heart or mind. I love preaching this gospel because of the joy it brings to my life and the lives of all those who accept it. 

Love, 

Hermana Southard

Monday, August 10, 2015

no time....

hey family!!

I am so sorry that I can´t write today, but this is so you know that I am alive and well. Thank you so much for your letters, I skimmed them and am going to read them tonight, because right now we have to get ready to go to our district meeting that starts in an hour. This week was absolutely nuts. We had four sisters in the area Roma 2, instead of 2 because one was on bed rest recovering from a sprained ankle, and we spent a lot of the week helping them out. Four in a house made for two causes a few problems. :) And we had a Zone Conference where we invited the members and it was a bit hard keeping them under control.....we basically spent all week putting out fires. Ha ha hopefully this week will be better. And yes, I will write more next week. But I love you and hope you have a great week at the cabin!!

Hermana Southard

Monday, August 3, 2015

23 years

Dear Mom and Dad,

Happy anniversary! I was thinking about you guys on Saturday....

(most of her letter was personal and she asked us to not share a lot of it, but here are some excerpts)

I don´t have more time, but here is what I would like you to send to Lindsey and Sabrina:

Hey girls! I hope you are having an awesome week at girls camp. I have so many fun memories of girls camp, and the experiences I have there helped me to strengthen my testimony, especially of who our Heavenly Father is and how much He loves me. I feel like in junior high and high school and my first semesters at BYU I really gained a testimony of God as our Heavenly Father. There are so many people that I have met here on my mission who don´t know or understand that God is a real Person, who thinks and feels and loves us so, so much. I want you to know that I know that He lives. He is an incredible Being, the Creator of all, and my Father. The relationship I have with Him is trusting and loving, and I have felt His love and concern for me so many times that I know that He is guiding me and molding me into the person He wants me to be. I love Him with all my heart and I love to show my love for Him through the service I give Him. He is a King and I am His daughter, and He is helping me to become a queen. 
Since coming on my mission, I have also gained a strong testimony of His Son, Jesus Christ. I know without a doubt that Jesus of Nazareth, who was born in Bethlehem, is the Son of God who was sent to redeem all of the children of God. Because of His sacrifice, I can overcome sin and death and return to live with Him and my Heavenly Father and the people that I love the most--including you two--forever. Because of Him I can someday marry in the temple and be with my future family as well. He died so that I could be happy with the people who I love, both those who I already know and love and those that I have yet to meet.
The plan that God created for us is perfect. It is not easy, but the blessings we receive are so many that it is worth any price we have to pay. I testify of the love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen....


These past two months have been so difficult, and I don´t know how long the trials will last, but my faith has increased enormously. I love you all!

Hermana Southard

PS: On Friday when we went to Leadership Council I saw Hermana Tuitupou, who came to renew her visa. We took a picture holding up 14 fingers to celebrate completing 14 months last week. When I told her you´re coming to pick me up she got so excited: I´m gonna meet your parents?? I feel like they´re my parents too. Our parents are coming!!"


Monday, July 27, 2015

Hey Family!

Hey family!

I feel like I´ve been able to breathe today for the first time in over a month. The past four Mondays have been crazy busy with about a million things to do, and all last week was super crazy as well. We had to stay up really late a few nights in a row getting everything ready for the Zone Conference on Wednesday and the conference for the hermanas on Saturday, but we made it through and it was a really special week. And today my companion and I "relaxed" by spending the first three hours of the day cleaning the house...it feels so good though. 

 The conference that we had for the sisters was really special. I got super stressed because it went about two hours longer than we were planning, but I hope that the sisters enjoyed it and were taught by the Spirit. I also think that during the week I was running on the adrenaline of the thought of everything we had to do, and I felt all the stress and worry after the conference was over instead of before it started. But like I said, I think it turned out well. Hermana Ramos spoke on improving personally and one thing she said that I really liked was that here in the mission, we get to put in practice all of the values we learn in the Young Women Personal Progress program. The Assistants spoke on consistancy in the work, and shared the example of the wives of Nephi and his brothers who journeyed through the desert....I laughed when one of them said that we´re here in the desert of Torreón instead of in Durango. I think my favorite part of our presentation was when we talked about the temple and the covenants we made there. The Spirit was so strong as the sisters shared their experiences in the temple, and I think they liked the pictures and quote we gave them. And our mission president spoke on the value we have as sister missionaries and the contribution we can make in the work, and it was incredible. All of the late nights were worth it :)

On Friday we also did an activity with the stake YW where we did splits and they accompanied us literally all day, from about 11 am til 7 pm. I hope it encouraged them to go on a mission.....the poor girls were suffering from the heat! They kept telling us how they can´t believe we walk around in the sun all day. When we returned to the church at 2 for lunch one young woman walked in and literally threw herself on the floor, she was so exhausted. Torreón is not for the faint of heart :)

The pictures are from the Leadership Council we had last month, in June, when we went to EFY and the conference on Saturday. The young women we´re with in the photo from EFY are all from our ward. Ingrid, the YW next to me, is awesome. She accompanies us to lessons all the time. 

I love you and hope you all have a great week! Thanks for everything. You guys are the best.

Love,

Hermana Southard 




Monday, July 20, 2015

I got to go to EFY too!!

Hey family!!

I know I always say that I´ll have more time to write next week, and maybe some day I actually will have more time. Today were transfers and even though neither my companion nor I were transferred we were waiting in the bus station for three hours for a sister who was supposedly going to arrive in Torreón to pick up her new companion who just arrived from the MTC when we were finally informed that she´s not going to arrive until tomorrow. So now we´re running around trying to get everything done before P-day ends. But it´s all good :)

So, to answer your questions Dad the photo you sent me of the house (on Google Earth) is the part where the land lady lives. We live in the part that´s covered by the tree in the photo. It´s a small house, but it´s cute and in a really safe area. We do live close to a college, but the college campuses here aren´t open to the public like they are in the US, so we can´t go in and contact. But in the evenings we usually go there to contact the people who go running around the campus, and that´s been a good way to contact a lot of people. I don´t really know what you want to know about the area, but one thing that´s really different from my other area is that there aren´t many people in the streets, so it´s harder to contact. And it´s super hot. I think we´ve been over 100 degrees every day here.

So the highlight of our week this week was getting to participate in the local session of EFY. EFY here is different than it is in the US- it´s put on by the local stakes, and the session that we attended was held by the three stakes here in Torreón: Torreón México, Torreón Reforma, and Torreón Jardín (the stake I´m serving in). When the assistants called and told us that we were going to participate last Monday they didn´t really give us much detail about what we were going to do (because I don´t think they really knew either) but it ended up being a bigger group of youth than I expected. We did a special activity where the youth divided into YW/YM and my companion and Hermana Ramos, the mission president´s wife, and I worked with the YW while Presidente and the assistants worked with the YM. Hermana Ramos gave a talk on how the YW can make the choice to serve a mission and then asked Hna Hernandez and I to share our experiences of how we decided to go on a mission and our testimonies of the work. After that we did an activity with the YW where they divided into companionships and we helped them to prepare a small lesson on one of the commandments from PMG chapter 4, and then they taught it to each other. My companion and I also did a practice for them with Hermana Ramos as our investigator, and afterward we talked about how they felt and what they learned, etc. It was a really neat experience, and there was one young woman there who isn´t a member of the Church and decided that she wanted to meet with the elders to be baptized. We took her address and sent her referral to the offices and told the secretary to send it ASAP, and found out yesterday that the elders have already been to see her and she attended Church yesterday! All investigators have to attend Church 5 times before they can be baptized, and she said in EFY that she wanted to be baptized in 5 weeks, so she´s off to a good start! I was so, so grateful for the chance to go and participate in EFY. I absolutely love talking to the youth about missionary work. I had forgotten what it feels like to be at EFY, but the Spirit was super strong. At the end of the activity Presidente Ramos spoke about how the best way to prepare for a mission is by maintaining your virtue, and after he finished they asked all of the youth to stand up who were committed to prepare themselves to go on a mission, and almost every youth stood! Yesterday a couple from our ward was telling us how their 17 year old daughter loved the activity and is super excited now to go on a mission. It was so cool to be with them. We´re going to help out with another stake YW activity this Friday, so I´ll have to let you know how it goes next week :)

Well, this week is going to be super crazy. On Wednesday we have a Zone Conference, on Friday the stake activity, and on Saturday the special conference for the sister missionaries (to answer your question Mom, no, I´ve never served in Gomez or Lerdo. They are part of the state of Durango, but they´re a lot closer to Torreón, which is in the state of Coahuila. I´ve only been in Torreón, Coahuila, and Durango, Durango). So we are going to be running around like crazy this week, but I love this opportunity to serve. I love you all so much, and thank you so, so much for all of the emails!! I wish I had more time to write, but I´m excited to read them all later :)

Love,

Hermana Southard

Monday, July 13, 2015

just so happy :)

Hey family!!

Okay, I really mean it when I say that I don´t have any time today.....in the morning we went to the center of Torreón to meet with the other Sister Training Leaders and plan a special conference that we´re going to have for the sisters in Torreón, Gómez, and Lerdo on the 25th. We´re going to speak on being true disciples of Jesus Christ, and how being a true disciple requires courage, and I am so excited. We asked the Assistants to speak on being constant, and the mission president is also going to speak. It´s the first conference that´s going to be especially for the sister missionaries, and I think it will turn out really well. A few weeks ago we had a meeting with the Zone Leaders and the Assistants and the APs told us that each zone was going to hold a special conference (aside from the zone conferences that we have every month) directed specifically to the needs of the Zone. My companion and I asked them later if we could do a conference especifically for the hermanas, and they decided to have it be for all of the sister missionaries here in the three cities close by. So today we planned out everything we´re going to say and made a powerpoint, and next week we´re going to make covers for the sisters to put on their daily planners. On front we´re going to put a picture of the temple where they received their endowment, and on the back we´re going to put this quote from the most recent general conference: "Once we enter into covenants with God, there is no going back. Giving in, giving up, and giving out are not options. In the kingdom of God, there is a standard ofexcellence for exaltation. It requires valian tdiscipleship! There is no room for average or complacent disciples. Average is the enemy of excellence, and average commitment will prevent you from enduring to the end." (Elder Kevin W. Pearson). 

Like I put in the subject line, I really am so happy. The truth is, our area is really difficult, but we´ve also been able to see lots of miracles in this week. One of those miracles was when we were contacting on Thursday and we met a woman who was super nice but didn´t live in our area and didn´t give us her address because she´s going on vacation, etc. We kept contacting in that area and a few minutes later she came back up to us and gave us popcicles that she had bought for us. There are so many people in this area who reject us in a not very nice way, and her small act of charity really gave me hope that there are good people in our area who don´t dislike us for trying to share the Gospel with them. 

I wasn´t able to read your emails very thouroughly Mom and Dad, but I´m going to print them and read them and ask my mission president what we can do tomorrow in my interview with him. Yes Mom, I forgot to tell you that I got the package from the company and your 4th of July package on the 3rd. Can you believe it got here so fast??

I love you all so much. Thanks for the emails, and I promise I´ll have more time to respond next week :) I love you and miss you, but we´re busy and the time is going fast. This is the Lord´s work, I know it. 

Hermana Southard
The pictures are from when I was in the mission office on the 3rd for Leadership Council :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

History repeats itself

Hey family!

Thanks for all your letters. I´m glad you had so much fun at Newport and on the 4th of July. 

I got a new companion today. I almost couldn´t believe it when they told us about our transfers because it is the exact same thing that happened when I was transferred to Durango four months ago: I arrived in week 1, and in week 5 my companion was transferred out, and my new companion was someone who I had already been companions with. Kind of crazy huh? My companion is Hermana Hernandez. We were companions here in Torreón for only 2 weeks, right before I was transferred to Durango. I am super excited to work with her. She is very humble and the sweetest, most caring person. She helped me a lot during the two weeks that we were together, and I know that this will be a good companionship. 

We had a baptism on Saturday and there was a problem with the water in the church, so they had to fill the font carrying water in buckets. They were only able to fill it until there was about a foot and a half of water, so our investigator had to sit on the bottom of the font and lean backwards to be immersed in the water. That´s an experience you won´t forget. I´ll have to send you the pictures next week, because they´re on my old companion´s camera and she promised to send them to me next Monday. My camera isn´t working right now....the pictures on my memory are fine, it´s the actual camera that isn´t working. I´m hoping that I´ll be able to get it fixed, and if not, I might look into buying a cheap one to finish out my mission. 

My feet are almost completely healed. I was able to walk normally all week last week, which was such a blessing. The medication I was taking were a couple antibiotics (one was an penicillin injection) and an anti-inflamatory, and the doctor also gave me an iodine that I diluted in water to disinfect my feet. No, I couldn´t bring myself to take a picture of my feet....sorry :) I just couldn´t/didn´t want to. I might regret not having proof further down the road. 

One more thing. I´ve been thinking about what we talked about on Mother´s Day about Dad and Mom coming to pick me up when I finish and I´ve decided that it is something that I would like to do. I really want to go back and visit my areas and converts, and I want you guys to see where I lived and worked here. The only thing is if you didn´t come pick me up I would be getting home on Thanksgiving Day, which would also be perfect because the girls would be out of school. We have interviews with our mission president next week, so I´m going to ask him if you guys could arrive earlier in the week or if it would be possible to work things out so that you come early and we can arrive home that day. But start thinking about how we would do everything, how many days you want to spend here, etc. and tell me next week so I have an idea of what you´re thinking so I can talk to him. Also, next week I´m going to email a missionary whose parents came to pick her up when she went home in April to see if they can give you info about how they planned everything.

Well, I love you all. I´m super content with this new transfer. I know that the Lord is going to bless us and that we´ll work together well. The area that we´re in is dificult, but I feel like the Lord is just waiting anxiously to bless us according to our faith and obedience. I know that things are going to get lots better :)

Love,

Hermana Southard

Monday, June 29, 2015

mom's love (and concern!) ;)

This was a letter in reply to some of Ashley's mom's questions after we heard about her feet:

Dear Mom,

I am doing fine physically. I saw the doctor on Tuesday and she said I was able to go out and work. She prescribed me more medication (an anti-inflamatory and an antibiotic, and an iodine solution that I diluted in water to disinfect) that I finished taking a few weeks ago and my feet are pretty much back to normal now. Don´t worry about the health system here. The mission doctors are local members of the Church who are practicing doctors who see us whenever we´re sick. And they are very good doctors, I promise. Remember Hermana Mejia, who I always talked about in Durango? She´s the mission doctor there in Durango. They take very good care of us. I also let my mission president and his wife know, and Hermana Ramos was checking in on me too. It most likely was bed bugs, from the bed of a sister that I slept in during a comp exchange. But they fumigated the house and got rid of the old mattresses, so all is well now. 

The mission secretary called me last Friday to let me know that there are some packages waiting for me in the mission office. I don´t get them any faster for being in Torreón, but I do get them a few days because we go to the same meeting as the Zone Leaders where they collect the packages for everyone in the Zone, so the secretary gives me my packages/letters on Friday and I don´t have to wait until Zone Conference on Tuesday. So that´s kinda nice. 

I love all of the stories that you send me about Hailey. So many people asked me if I was worried that she wouldn´t remember me because she was only 3 1/2 when I went to college. I miss her a lot and can´t wait to see her (and all of my sisters) when I get back.

I have to keep it short this week because we had a ton of stuff to do today, so my time is a little shorter. But I hope you have a great week in California. I love you!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

This is me telling you ¨how I really am¨

Hey family!

It looks like you had a fun week in St. George with the Eddys last week. I can´t believe how big everyone looks!! Especially Joe. He looks like a soon to be missionary :)

So I don´t have much to tell this week......On Tuesday we had comp exchanges with the other sisters in our ward, Roma 2. I went to their area and was with a sister named Hermana Ruiz while her companion, Hermana Mireles stayed with Hermana Luna in our area. Long story short, Hermana Mireles´ matress was old and squeaky and had some sort of bug in it that bit me all over my feet while I was sleeping and by Thursday night my feet were so swollen I couldn´t walk. We went to the doctor on Friday and he prescribed a bunch of medication and put me on bed rest until my feet heal. Not being able to leave the house is not fun. But luckily, there are a lot of Young Single Adults in this ward who are returned missionaries or preparing to go on missions who have been supporting us a ton and doing splits with us so we can at least go to our set appointments. One of them has been staying with me in our house while the other goes with my companion to work. Having their support has been such a huge blessing, because even though I haven´t been able to work my companion has been able to attend to the investigators and even find some new investigators. And a couple families from the ward have been helping us a ton. Last night the bishop´s sons gave me a blessing and an anointing, which was a big comfort. In the blessing I was promised that I won´t have to deal with sickness again on my mission, and that I´ll be able to keep working normally. (Funny story: when I told the bishop´s sons my full name so they could give me the blessing they were super worried about not being able to pronounce it correctly. I wrote it on a piece of paper for them and they were practicing the pronunciation when when of them said, ¨Well, the Lord knows who you are.¨ Ha ha! Poor things, they were so nervous about saying it right.) So yep, there´s not much to tell this week, because I spent most of it in the house. But my feet are healing well. They were super swollen at first but the swelling has gone down. Now we´re just waiting for the blisters to heal so that I can walk well. I´m going to see the doctor tomorrow and hope to be able to go out and work tomorrow. 

Aside from that, we also had a special conference with President Ramos on Thursday where he talked about how we can help our investigators change their lives and prepare for baptism. Tomorrow we have a meeting with the Assistants and the Zone Leaders that should be good. It´s a lot harder here to find new investigators, but we´re blessed to have a couple really great investigators. Actually, I don´t think I told you about the new investigator we found last week. On Tuesday or Wednesday the sister in the ward who we ate with was telling us about how she heard that a less active member who had moved from the ward had just returned, and that she was going to try to find her address so we could visit her. That same day, we ended up contacting the daughter of that less active member, who lives with her mom and is also less active. We went to visit her a few days later and she was super receptive, and really wants her kids to grow up in the Church. She took them to the Primary activity last Thursday and went to Church yesterday, and when my companion went to teach her last night she gave permission for her 11 year old son to be baptized. So we´ll be working with him to prepare to be baptized on the 25 of June. I really hope and pray that she´ll come back to the Church too; right now she works on Sundays, but hopefully she can start attending again soon. 

Well, I love you all and hope you have a great week! I´m going to watch ¨Meet the Mormons¨ today (our bishop has a copy!) so it should be a pretty good day :)

Love,

Hermana Southard

Monday, June 15, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

These are a couple of excerpts from the email Ashley sent me for Father's Day last week...

Dear Dad,

Happy Father´s Day!

I wrote you a Father´s Day card last week, but there isn´t a post office in our area or even in our Zone, so I won´t be able to send it to you. So an email will have to do....
Over the past few months I´ve especially come to appreciate that you taught me to work hard and think critically, and never told us that we couldn´t serve in the Church or contribute to society because we´re girls. I don´t quite know how to explain my thoughts, but over the past few months we´ve been motivating the sisters to work hard and be a little bit more direct and diplomatic. The attitude that some elders had towards the sister missionaries has changed as they've seen that we can work just as hard as they can.  I've learned that both men and women can and should contribute to the Lord´s work, because at the end of it all it's His work, not the work of men (or women). I don´t know if that makes sense, and hopefully it doesn´t sound prideful....

Love,

Hermana Southard

Answers to Mom's Questions...

Mom asked:  How is Torreón?!  I figured you would go back there, but I really thought you would be in Durango as a STL for another transfer or two as well....

Dear Mom, 

Torreón is great! It´s super different than Durango. Durango is a really small city and there are only four wards where there are sister missionaries, but here in Torreón and Gómez Palacio and Lerdo (two smaller cities that are close by) there are more areas for sister missionaries. But like I mentioned last week, they´re actually closing a lot of areas now because we´re fewer and fewer missionaries. Right now there are only about eight American sisters in the entire mission. Two of them finish and return home in September, one in October, and two other American sisters and I finish in November. I heard that about two more will arrive when we leave, but there are so few of us!! Crazy, huh?

I think that the heat in St. George is pretty comparable to the heat here in Torreón. I have never drinken so much water in my entire life. Or sweat so much. But don´t worry about me, I´m fine as far as my health goes. And I´m using a ton of sun screen, long-sleeved button up shirts, tights, and an umbrella so that I don´t get sun burned. But I´m already super burned. Ha ha!

I also got to see my trainer on her last day here. She went home on Thursday. I saw her on Monday, my first day here, and it was such a huge blessing. I was still emotional about the transfer from Durango to Torreón and when I saw her I just cried a little bit. Being able to cry and talk to her helped me feel so much better. She really was like a big sister to me and I look up to her a lot. She said she´s probably going to go to Utah for Conference in October, so I´m going to give her our address so she can meet you all. You´ll love her.

Speaking of conference, can you please send me a Conference Ensign from this past conference in the package?? We normally get them in both English and Spanish but this time they only arrived in Spanish. Thanks!! 

I love you! 

Hermana Southard