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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