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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!!"