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Monday, March 30, 2015

hola, hola!

Hey family!

This last week and last month went by so quickly! I can´t believe March is almost over. But I am SO excited for General Conference this weekend! I might even get to watch it in English, so I´m excited for that :) The General Women´s Meeting was beautiful. My favorite part was the example of how a family full of the gospel of Jesus Christ is like a soda can that can´t be crushed. I want to use that visual in lessons. I also loved the song ¨The Family is of God¨. It made me think of how blessed I am to have you as my family and how blessed we are to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

So, to answer your question: I would tell the youth (and the young women in particular) that if they´re thinking about whether or not they should serve a mission, they should definitely serve! Now that I´m here, I want everyone in the world to have the opportunity to be a missionary. During your mission you learn so many things about the basic principles of the Gospel that you thought you already knew everything about, and your testimony is strengthened so much everyday as you comprehend a little bit more about the perfectness of the plan of salvation, the necesity of the restoration, and the mercy of the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit guides your gospel studies and bears witness to you of the truthfulness of the gospel like never before. The mission is such a special time because you are keeping the covenants you make at baptism more fully than ever before. You truly are a witness of Jesus Christ at all times, and in all things, and in all places, and you´re always remembering and thinking of Him, which is why you have the Spirit with you so fully. There are a lot of parts about the mission that are uncomfortable or inconvenient, but you come to love where you are and what you´re doing so much that you never want to leave. On Friday night, after a full day of comp exchanges and inventories with the sisters, I had a moment of reflection while riding the bus back to our area. I thought about the things I might be doing if I wasn´t a missionary- I would probably be out with friends or family, having fun, (or maybe studying for finals....bleh) and I realized that I would much rather be here, as a missionary, riding a bus in Mexico than doing anything else. I have gained such a strong testimony that Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of our lives, and I believe that that plan has more to do with who we become than what we do. Going on a mission allows Him to mold you and refine you and prepare you to serve Him throughout your life. It can be a hard process sometimes, but as you go through the processes you come closer to Him than ever before.

So Mom, to answer your question, the food is called tostadas. Yes, rice and beans are super common; yesterday I ate rice, beans, and meat kind of like taco meat. You could also go with tamales; they´re super traditional and very delicious as well :) flour tortillas are only used here in the North, but I like them more than corn tortillas. I haven´t eaten much pork here, but maybe it´s more common in the South. Basic fajita meat would be pretty authentic too.

Also, there´s a young married couple from the ward in Guadalupe that are in Utah right now and have a letter for you. I don´t know if they´ll come to the house to deliver it or just send it in the mail, but I gave them our address and telephone number. The wife is an English teacher, and they´re awesome. I hope they deliver it to you in person so you can meet them :) They always accompanied us in lessons and helped us a lot. They´re names are Pepe Soriano and Adriana Chacón. 

One more thought before I sign off: I hope you have questions ready to receive revelation during General Conference! The words that we´re going to hear are not just friendly suggestions, they´re eternal truths, and I know that if we obey the cousel given we are eligible to receive all the blessings of heaven.

I love you so much and can´t wait to hear from you next week!

Love,

Hermana Southard

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hey Family!

Hey family! 

Thanks for the emails. A little warning....I´m going to be writing earlier now, because we have to send reports to the mission president in the morning. Also, I´m not going to have as much time as in the past to write, because of everything we have to do today. I´m going to talk with my companion and let her know that it´s important to me to have as much time as possible to write you all, but just know that we might have to adjust a little bit.

So far I´ve loved being a Sister Training Leader. We´re always busy! To answer your question Dad, we have both ministering and administering duties. We basically do everything a Zone or District Leader would do for the sister missionaries. We conduct inventories of their houses to make sure everything´s good, and we´re also their first resource if they have a problem. We have a weekly follow up session with each companionship to hear about how the work is going in their areas and set goals with them to motivate them to work harder. We have comp exchanges every week, so one of us is out of the area a lot (I´ve been doing the traveling because I still don´t know our area). We report to the mission president on the progress of the sisters so that he knows what´s going on with them. We also have some extra meetings, including a monthly meeting in Torreón, so we have a lot less time in our own area, but the Lord has really blessed us and we´re still able to get a lot done. This last week I had my first comp exchange as the leader and actually went back to my old area (Guadalupe 2) for the day! It was kind of funny, especially because I was with my old companion, but a good experience. I saw a lot of my converts in that area and some ward members too, and it was so good to see how the area has continued to progress.

I´m already out of time, so I´ll try to answer your questions next week. (To answer one of yours dad, I basically can´t buy anything here, which is why I ask you to send me stuff). I love you so much and think about you often!

Love, 

Hermana Southard

Monday, March 16, 2015

crazy days

Before I post Ashley's letter below, I thought I'd share funny story she shared with me this week.  In answer to one of my questions about her health, this was her response...

"Don´t worry about my health, I've actually never had a serious problem. I did have to adjust to the food when I got here but I adjusted pretty quickly. Every once in a while my stomach is upset, but nothing serious. Although there was one time when my stomach got really inflamed from the food I ate and was really hurting me and I said to my trainer, ¨I´m sick of Mexican food!¨ And she just laughed and reminded me that I had 13 months left in the mission."

NOW HERE IS HER LETTER:
Hey Family!

Thanks so much for all of the emails! It sounds like this week was crazy (but every week´s crazy in our house) :) but so good! Jenna, Lindsey, and Sabrina, I am so proud of you all! 3rd in the nation, Jenna?? And a scholarship! That´s incredible! I´ve been able to tell over the past nine months how hard you´ve worked and you totally deserve it. I know that Heavenly Father is blessing you for your diligence. And Lindsey and Brina, great job on your talk/lesson! I know it can be scary, but you learn so much from preparing to teach. I have learned so much about things that I thought I already knew really well as I´ve studied to teach investigators every day. There´s a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that I like that talks about how when we teach, the grace of Christ accompanies us so that both the teacher and the student are taught by the Spirit. It´s true, and we receive that blessing when we are prepared. Mom and Dad, happy engagement anniversary. I actually thought of you guys on Friday when I noticed the date. And then I realized that Mom was only one year older than me when she got engaged and freaked out a little bit. You got married so young! I definitely can´t imagine being engaged a year from now. But luckily I don't have to worry about that for a while :) And the pictures that Grandma sent me blew me away! I never imagined seeing Grandma and Grandpa down in Antarctica. Ever. But that is so cool!

So it´s been a crazy day for me, too. I was transferred again today...I´m back in Durango! My new area is actually not too far from Guadalupe. It´s called Industrial 1 and it´s in a different zone/stake than I was in in Guadalupe. I never thought I would be transferred back to Durango so soon, and even less in this area. I know I´ll be here for a while--like 5 or 6 months--because I was assigned to be the new Sister Training Leader here in Durango. It´s an assignment like a Zone Leader assignment, but for the sister missionaries. I kind of feel like a new missionary all over again because I have a very small idea of what all of our responsabilities are, but I´ll get the hang of it. We basically do everything the Zone Leaders and District Leaders do with the elders: we go on companion exchanges with all of the companionships of sisters here in Durango, conduct inventory of their houses, have a weekly call-in session with each companionship, and conduct/teach at Zone Training meetings. I´m super excited (even if I don´t exactly know all that we´re doing) because it´s a big opportunity to learn from and support the sister missionaries here in Durango. I keep thinking of the scripture in 1 Nephi 4 that says, ¨And I was led forth by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I would do.¨ When they told me about this new assignment I felt like the Lord had more confidence in me than I had in myself. But I know that the Lord knows why He´s put me here, and I´m going to do my best to serve Him, the sister missionaries, and the investigators. It´ll be an interesting week of adjustment :)

In other news, we had a baptism on Saturday! Our new convert´s name is Eva Maria, and she is so, so happy that she was finally able to be baptized. She´s the investigator that I told you about a couple of weeks ago who got really sick and we had to postpone her baptismal date. She was devastated that she would have to wait even one more week to be baptized, but the day finally arrived! On Sunday, we went and taught her a lesson on enduring to the end and then she accompanied us for a couple of hours. After being in the rain and teaching lots of people who weren´t interested she said to me, ¨I was pretty easy, huh?¨ Her comment made me laugh super hard because it´s so true- she was definitely a golden investigator who accepted everything as soon as we taught it to her. She´s the only one in her family who is a member of the Church, but her testimony is strong, and I hope that her kids will soon accept the Gospel too. I also found out today that another investigator that I taught here in Guadadlupe was baptized about a month ago, and another is preparing to be baptized soon. It made me so happy hearing about them. The scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 18 that talks about the joy we feel in helping others repent and come unto Christ is so true. So, so true. 

Like I mentioned, I loved receiving your emails. I am going to print all of them off and read them well tonight. I have pictures of the baptism I wanted to send you, but this computer isn´t reading my memory. Sorry. I´ll try to send some next week of the baptism and with my new companion, Hermana Martinez. She's from Puebla and is the first companion that I knew before we were companions. I´ll have to tell you more about the area and my companion next week....I can´t think of much more to say, just that I love you all so, so much. Thanks for your support and love always. 

Love,

Hermana Southard

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A shorter letter this week...

 Hi mom and dad,

Sorry, but this week´s letter is going to be shorter....

Mom, I´ll send pics this week. I haven´t been able to send them the past few weeks because my memory wasn´t compatible with the computers in the internet café. 

So I was thinking about the youth you´re going to have over, and there are two different desserts you could make them. One is platanos con crema, which is super easy, but the hard part is I think you would have to go look for the two main ingredients in a Mexican store. They´re ¨la lechera¨ and ¨crema Lala¨. You just mix them together and pour them over sliced bananas- super easy. But you could also make arroz con leche, which is also easy, it just takes longer, like 45 minutes. You need rice, carnation milk, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, sugar, and a little bit of salt. You boil water with the cinnamon and clove, add the rice and let it cook, then add sugar, vanilla and salt when it´s almost finished cooking. Add the carnation when it´s finished cooking, and top it with raisins or walnuts if you want. You can eat it hot or cold, but I prefer it hot. (Also, something super random that I just keep forgetting: please tell Sharon that I loved the Christmas package! I got it around the end of January, but loved it!)

I´m sorry for the kind of dumb letter this week :/ but I´m safe, and happy, and working hard. Our investigator Eva Maria is going to be baptized this Saturday, and she´s so excited! We have been working super hard and there´s never enough time for anything, but please know that I love you all so much and think about you all the time. I´ve already started counting down the days until I get to talk to you on Mother´s Day, ha ha. (We´re at 62 days as of today). Give the girls a big hug for me. I love my family!

Love, 

Hermana Southard

pictures, because I´m out of time....
Hermana Villegas (who was just transferred)

Hermana Leiataua, my trainer

My new comp, Hermana Hernandez

We organized a ward activity last saturday, and the YSAs helped us pull it off.

A new companion and a funny story

Hola mis queridos!

I have loved reading your emails this week! It seems like a crazy busy week with BYU acceptance letters and mission calls and visits from cousins. The truth is it made me wish I could have been with you this week, but I love where I am and the time is moving by so quickly that I know I´ll be home before I know it. 

So I got a new companion today! Her name is Hermana Hernandez. She´s 23 years old and from Guadalajara, and she´s been out for the same amount of time I have- we´re both returning home in November. As I was saying goodbye to Hermana Villegas and waiting with the other sister missionaries for our new companions to arrive I was thinking about how much I love all of the new people I´ve met here on my mission, and especially the other missionaries. I´ve made so many new friends from all over the world as I´ve gotten to know and serve with the other missionaries in la Misión México Torreón, and I love it! It´s always a little hard saying goodbye when there are transfers, but it´s so fun getting to know so many people. Also, I saw my trainer, Hermana Leiataua today!! I had no idea I was going to see her but she was also waiting for her new companion in the bus center. We were so happy to see each other we couldn´t even talk- we just hugged a lot and took pictures and kept saying, ¨How are you? I missed you so much!¨ It was such a tender mercy seeing her today and I hope I can see her at least one more time before she goes home in June. 

So the funny story....yesterday we had arranged for asome members to drive us in their suburban to go pick up investigators for church. I had everything all planned out perfectly and of course it didn´t go as planned at all, ha ha. The members were late in meeting us and the husband showed up alone because his wife (who is six months pregnant) was sick and couldn´t go to church, but we couldn´t get in his car without his wife so he had to go back and pick her up so we could ride with him. The poor sister was obviously so sick, but such a good sport for going along so her husband could take us. So after stopping by about four houses and finding that all of our investigators had either left or just didn´t open the door, we finally arrived at one investigator´s house at 9:55 (Church starts at 10) and by the time she was ready to leave we were already 10 minutes late for church. I was kind of stressing because we were late and when we were on the street where the church was we got stuck in traffic, waiting for a marathon to pass by. I kept thinking ¨You have GOT to be kidding me!¨ We ended up getting to church around 10:20 and I was sure we had already missed the sacrament, but there were about a dozen baby blessings so we were good. Seriously- we walked in at 10:25 and they had already started the baby blessings, and after we arrived they blessed six more kids! They didn´t bless the sacrament until 10:40 and started testimony meeting at 11- only a few people got to share their testimonies. I just thought it was so funny because Sundays always kind of stress me out, getting all the investigators to church on time, but Heavenly Father answered my prayers and we still got to take the sacrament even though we were late. 

Well, I have to go but I love you all SO MUCH and hope you have a week as great as this one was! I love you and I´m praying for you from here in México. Please keep our investigator Eva Maria in your prayers....she´s been sick lately, but we´re hoping for a miracle so that she can be baptized on the 14th. I know that God will help us- she has so much faith. I love you!

Love,

Hermana Southard