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Monday, February 23, 2015

Conozca a los Mormones

Dear Family,

Hello! I don´t have much time to write today, but I wanted to let you know that I love you all! We had a really fun and kind of unusually busy week this week. On Tuesday we had a special conference with Presidente Ramos and as part of the conference we got to watch Meet the Mormons!! It´s coming out in theaters this Friday and they showed it to us so we could get the members excited to see it and invite investigators and contacts to see it. It is so good! I loved all of it, but especially the story of the football coach and the missionary mom. I was trying hard to not cry when I watched her story. And seeing all of the parts of Utah Valley was fun! Have you guys thought about sharing the movie with our family members who aren´t members of the Church? We´ve been promoting it a lot, and we´ve gotten a really positive response from everyone we´ve invited to see the movie. One missionary said something that I really liked: she reminded us that this movie was made by revelation, because the Lord knows it´s going to reach the hearts of many people and soften them. So we need to share it with everyone!

Besides the conference, we also went to an activity on Thursday that another ward in the stake puts on ever other week in the fayuca (tianguis in Durango), which is like a swap meet. They set up a big display of a certain Gospel topic and members and missionaries work together to contact the people who come to the fayuca and teach them there in the display. We also went two weeks ago and actually found a less active family that we´re teaching now. 

We also went to a stake youth activity with a bunch of other missionaries in the stake to teach the youth how to talk with their friends about the Gospel. We did a little skit where we were students in a classroom asking two members about what we believe- the first one was a ¨what not to do¨ and the second was a ¨what to do¨ if that makes sense. We talked to them about how they shouldn´t be afraid of answering questions respectfully and sharing their testimonies whenever possible, always inviting others to do something like go to Church or an activity. It was really fun. One thing I am so grateful for is that here as a missionary I´ve learned how to share the Gospel with other people, something I feel like I didn´t really know how to do before. But it´s something we all need to do all the time, because we as members of the Church hold the key to other people´s salvation and eternal happiness. And we are so, so bless for sharing it!

I love you so much and hope you have a great week! I was going to send pictures today but this computer won´t let me :/ until next week!

Love, 

Hermana Southard

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Days!

Hey family!

I hope you had a great week last week! I was definitely thinking of you all during the week. Thank you so much for all of the packages Mom- they made my day! I especially loved the card of you all singing ¨Happy Birthday¨- it was great to hear your voices! My sweet companion also did a lot to make the day special. She had a member help her buy a cake without me knowing and when I woke up on Wednesday morning she had decorated the table with the cake, a card, and the balloons that we had blown up the night before. I opened your packages Mom and wore some of the new clothes you sent (in keeping with tradition (;). And then that night, after planning and teaching records we celebrated a little. My companion sang me the Mexican birthday song, ¨las mañanitas¨ and then shoved my face into the cake, which is the Mexican tradition- no joke! She recorded the whole thing, but unfortunately the attachment´s too big to send over email. But I included pictures of me with the packages, the decorations my companion set up, and the streamers you sent me Mom to decorate our door. It was a fun day (:

I was also thinking about you all on Valentine´s Day. Thanks for the notes and the candy; we shared some of the candy with our investigators. I was also thinking about Valentine´s Day a year ago, when I got to go through the temple for the first time. I´m so grateful for temples and the covenants I made a year ago that offer me protection and guidance in my life. I´m also so grateful for the covenants that allow us to be an eternal family. I am so grateful that God blessed me with such a wonderful family, and that we have the Gospel to strengthen us and keep us together. Here in my mission I´ve met so many families with a lot of problems and have really been able to see first hand how a family built upon the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has a sure foundation for success. We´ve been using the copies of ¨The Family: A Proclamation to the World¨ that you sent me Mom to teach our investigators about how to strengthen their families. We taught a few investigators about prophets and at the end explained that the prophet and his apostles receive revelation for our day, and gave them the Proclamation to hang in their homes and apply in their lives. I´ve been able to testify a lot about the family this week, and it has re-inforced my testimony that the family is ordained of God, that God reveals to His prophets how to help us strengthen our families, and that ¨success in marriage and family life is most likely to be maintained and acheived when founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ.¨ I know it´s true!

This week went better for us than the last as far as lessons and investigators go. I feel like by now we´ve gotten a lot more comfortable in the two areas and we were able to work a lot more with the members this week. Yesterday we had a lot of investigators and less-actives come to Church, which was great. But it´s also always a little stressful trying to help them get to church for the first time and helping them to feel comfortable in a new situation that´s so different. We arrived late for sacrament meeting because we were picking people up, and as we stood in the foyer waiting to go into the meeting and trying to help so many people all at once I thought, ¨I feel like a mother with seven children.¨ Ha ha, I started wondering how in the world all of the moms in the ward balance getting everyone to church on time! I really did feel like a mother worrying for her children, especially because all of our investigators/less actives have such different needs. Being a missionary has only reinforced my desire to be a stay at home mom with a large family (in Spanish, they use the term ¨ama de casa¨ to refer to a stay at home mom. It means ¨love of the home¨. Isn´t that sweet?) It really is a very special part of missionary work, the love and concern that you develop for your investigators. I´ve been able to feel a portion of what I imagine our Heavenly Father feels for them as we help them. Being responsable for them is a big responsablility that I imagine is similiar to what parents feel; sometimes it´s a heavy load, but we really get to work with Heavenly Father to help them, and He helps us to be able to bear that load. 

I love you all so much! I know I say that every week, but it´s so true. Yesterday after a crazy Sunday I pulled out the pictures of the family to look at when we had a second, because thinking about you all relaxes me. It reminds me how blessed I am and how much I owe to my Heavenly Father. Serving Him as a missionary is a priviledge, and I hope He allows me to keep serving Him throughout my life.

Love, 

Hermana Southard


Monday, February 9, 2015

Hello from La Rosa!

Hello family and friends!

First of all, thank you so much for all of the birthday wishes! That was so sweet of all of you to send me a little note. I wish I could respond to all of you, but please know that I appreciate all of your kindness! I am super happy that I get to spend my 20th birthday as a missionary. I was thinking last night about how there is literally no where else I would rather be! It is such a blessing and a privledge to be a full time servant of the Lord, and I wish it could last forever.

Sorry about the short letter last week. I was kind of frazzled last week and couldn`t really think of what to write, but this week hopefully I can give you some good information about my new area! 

To answer your questions Dad, yes, I was able to say goodbye to some of the members in Guadalupe before I left. Hermano and Hermana Ruiz took us to the bus station and when I got there I found Hermana Mejia waiting for me, which made my day. I had said goodbye to her the night before because I knew I was probably going to be transferred, but I was able to say goodbye at the last moment. She`s the sister that I`ve told you about, who was my 'mom' there in Durango, so I was really glad I got to say goodbye to her. I also knew transfers were coming, so I kind of said goodbye to other members before hand. One couple who we were really close with, Pepe and Adriana Soriano, are actually planning on coming to Utah this December when I`ll be home, so I got Adri`s Facebook so they can hopefully come and visit us! 

They notified us of transfers Sunday night at about 10:30, so it was a long night of packing everything up and getting ready. And yes, I`m in the actual city of Torreon, about 15 minutes from the center of the city. There was a small pool of investigators when I arrived here, but la Rosa was divided into three areas and in this transfer they closed one, so now there are only two. My companion was is la Rosa 2 before, but now we have la Rosa 2 and la Rosa 3, so we`re opening la Rosa 3. It has been a busy week of getting to know the area and finding the investigators of the other hermanas, but we`ve been doing really well. This area is a lot different than my other area. It`s definitely a lot more well-to-do than my last area, which was kind of a shock at first. But it seems like a really good area, and I`m honestly very excited to work here! Also, Hermana Tuitupou, who was in the MTC with me, is nearby so I`ve gotten to see her, which is awesome. I`m also kind of close to my trainer, Hermana Leiataua. So far Torreon has been great! 

I also love my companion. We are defintiely different but we get along really well and use the different strengths we have to strengthen the companionship. We also teach really well together and are really unified, which is awesome! We`ve been learning a lot from each other and I`ve felt a really strong spirit working with her. 

I love you all and hope you have a great week! Thank you again for all of the support and love I felt this week, and always. 

Love, 

Hermana Southard
Left to right: Hermana Johnson and Hermana Martinez, the Sister Training Leaders, Hermana Tuitupou, Hermana Villegas (my companion!) Hermana Martin, and me!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Greetings from Torreón!

Hola mis queridos!

I feel like I should have so much to say but at the same time, I really don´t know what to tell you all. I was transferred today from Guadalupe 2 in Durango to an area called la Rosa 3 here in Torreón. I got here about 2 hours ago, but from what I can tell the area is pretty. Everyone´s told me that it´s a good area and the ward is great, and I am so excited to be here! I thought it would be hard to leave Guadalupe, but I feel very calm here. I know that we´re sent to every area for a reason and I honestly feel like I did everything I could to help Barrio Guadalupe. Even though as I missionary I am so, so imperfect, this is the perfect work of the Lord and He worked with my weaknesses to strenghthen the area. I truly grew to love the members and my converts, and I hope that I will be able to see them again someday. I feel like Barrio Guadalupe is ¨my ward¨ and I know with time I´ll feel the same way about Barrio de la Rosa. When you give everything you have, heart, mind, and soul, to building up the kingdom of the Lord, He blesses you richly with eternal relationships and the joy that comes from helping others become more converted unto Christ. Of this I testify.

My new companion´s name is Hermana Villagas. She´s 20 years old and from the Mexican state of Coahuila, which is the same state that Torreón is in (the mission only has a tiny piece of Coahuila). I´ve only known her for two hours, but I am so excited to work with her and learn all that I can from her. 

One last thing before I have to go......I want to extend a missionary challenge to you all, and I´m using the fact that it´s my birthday month as an excuse. :) Our mission president has been using the term M&M to teach us to work together as members and missionaries to hasten the work of the Lord. This month, I challenge all of you to work with the missionaries of your ward by accompanying them to an appointment sometime in the month of February. You could also invite them to give a lesson in your house, but no matter what you do to work with the missionaries, I promise the Lord will bless both you and the people who are getting to know the Gospel with increased testimonies of the truthfullness of the doctrine of Christ. 

I love you all and hope you all have a fantastic week! Let me know how working with the missionaries is going. :) I know that this is the work of the Lord, and that we all have a solemn responsability to participate in it. 

Love, 

Hermana Southard