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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

Monday, June 8, 2015

When in Rome.....

Hola Familia!

Surprise!! I was transferred today and I´m back in Torreón. The truth is, this change was a lot harder that the other times I´ve been transferred. I absolutely LOVED my old ward and area, and a very special investigator named Maryam is being baptized on the 20th. I wanted so, so badly to be in her baptism. And it´s hard for me to leave Durango after being there for 9 months out of the 11 months I´ve been here in México.  I definitely was not expecting to be transferred so soon, which was also hard. I was hoping to stay in the area another transfer, but I hope I´ll be able to at least return to Durango one more time before the end of my mission. Funny story, when I went to write my mission president today I saw that he responded to my letter on Wednesday and told me to prepare myself to leave the area. There was no way I was going to see that before today, but thanks anyway for letting me know :)  Please pray for me as I adjust to this new change. 

The ward that I´m in is called Roma, and my companion´s name is Hermana Luna. We´re the Sister Training Leaders here in this part of Torreón, so I´ll get to keep working with the other sister missionaries here. I´m grateful that I´ll get to keep serving as an STL because I have learned so much these past three months. It´ll be a time of a lot of personal growth here. 

It´s also kind of funny because I was actually just in Torreón last Friday for the monthly Leadership Council. Towards the beginning of the Council we always review the mission goals and what was accomplished in during the month, and wow. Between April and May there was a huge change. In general everyone is contacting more, having more lessons, and there are a lot more baptisms. And it´s amazing because there are fewer and fewer missionaries arriving in the mission and they´re closing areas, but we´re accomplishing more with fewer missionaries. It was such a testimony to me that the Lord is truely hastening His work, and that the harder we work the more He blesses us. Apart from all of that, the training that Presidente and the assistants gave us was great. Presidente talked about obedience and the assistants about how asking inspired questions helps us to find our investigator´s needs. We laughed a lot at times and the Spirit was strong, and we also ate carne asada afterwards, so that was great too ;) I love going to Leadership Council and learning from Presidente and the Assistants. Tomorrow we have Zone Conference, where we´ll teach everything that we learned in Council. I think we´ll have a lot more time for our area than my companion and I had in Durango, because here we only attend one Zone Conference instead of two, and we only have four companionships under our care instead of seven in Durango. This is going to be a completely different experience, but I have faith that we´ll be able to do what the Lord wants us to here. 

Thank you for all of the pictures and emails. Thank you for your love and prayers and everything that you do for me even while I´m here. I love you all so much and please continue praying for me. I´ll be praying for you!

Love,

Hermana Southard

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ashley's Letter to her Mom today...

Ashely's Mom:
Ashley wrote me a letter with some replies to a few questions I had asked her last week...here are some excerpts:  I asked Ashley about her best moment during the week, her hardest, recipes, whether or not they got permission to go running (she told us she was trying to get permission) and I asked her to tell us about somewhere they went during the week...just some random questions :) a mom wants to know. (details ;)  She did a good job answering!   She also forwarded me an email that went out to all the missionaries in her mission that spotlighted her and her companion for the work they are doing...I will attach it at the end of this email.  (FYI--Ruby is someone we met during conference when some of Ashley's ward members traveled here.  They stayed with her.  She lives in BYU married housing and was really nice!  She is from Durango.)   

Excerpts from Ashley's letter:

...Ruby, is down here visiting her family and I´m going to give her letters to take to you guys. She lives in Wyview and said she has your phone number already. She also took a picture of me to show you when she gets back, but she´s not going to be back until the middle of June. 

The best moment this week.....There were a lot of good moments this week. On Tuesday we had a really good day. I was on a comp exchange in our area with another sister and we taught a lot of lessons and contacted a lot of people and found a lot of new investigators. We have to send a text message to the assistants every night with the number of lessons we taught, new investigators we found, and people we contacted. When I sent them the numbers they sent a reply that said, ¨Wow.¨ It made me laugh. Also, on Friday we had a conference with Presidente and we asked Hermana Ramos if she could accompany us later that day. She is awesome and so willing to work with us whenever she´s in Durango so we try to take advante of that :) We had already asked another sister in the ward to accompany us so we ended up doing impromptu splits- my companion went with Hermana Ramos and I went with a 21 year old returned missionary named Maritza Flores. It was awesome and such a wonderful surprise blessing, being able to do splits. 

The hardest moment this week was when only one investigator went to Church yesterday. It is such a struggle getting people to Church and I feel like we´ve tried so many things and they still don´t come to Church. The people here are really kind and open, so it´s easy to contact people and teach them, but when it comes to making a commitment and attending Church, they don´t follow through. They may have a lot of faith in God but they have a hard time putting that faith into action, and they don´t fully comprehend the blessings that we promise that they will receive for going to Church, so they don´t go because it´s more comfortable that way. 

Yes, we run about three mornings every week. It´s super hard to get up and get going, but it feels so good to be getting exercise. 

I do have a few Mexican recipes. A few different burritos, arroz con leche, plátanos con crema, and a few others that I´m going to try when I get home.

Somewhere we went....on Saturday we went to a tianguis (like a swap meet) in the area of Industrial 2 to contact people. There are always a ton of people so it was a great opportunity to contact and teach people there. 

Some photos:
Celebrating 1 yr with Ben & Jerry

Hermana Tuitupou and I are from the same generation- 12 fingers for 12 months

with Hermana Ramos