Monday, December 29, 2014

So Much Cake

Hello my beautiful family!!!

I loved seeing your faces on Christmas!!! It was the best Christmas present ever. Honestly, I feel so grateful to have such a great family. I had a smile the rest of the week thinking about all of you. Also...Easton is such a little stud! Tell him to stay away from the girls. He's only allowed to sing and play the guitar for his aunts!!!

This week was a little slow as far as missionary work goes. I mean, who wants to talk to the missionaries on Christmas? And more, when it is cold and rainy outside? The 24th is the biggest day here and it's when everyone does their dinner and party. That morning, we were walking around in the freezing cold rain and got super wet. Luckily one of the sisters in our ward let me borrow a jacket a few months back and I hadn't returned it so I had something to keep me warm! haha...don't worry, we returned the jacket on Saturday. :) We went searching for people to teach and menos activos but no one was home. We contacted but our area was like a ghost town. We decided to visit Rosario because we knew that she would let us in and so that we could finish teaching Dante one of the lessons he missed. They saw us coming up the street and were so excited to let us in. They shared a little bit of warm pozole that they had with us and helped us get warm. Dante said the prayer to bless the food and while he was praying, he thanked Heavenly Father for us and I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude. Just a few hours before I was thinking about how silly it was that we were walking around in the streets getting soaking wet when no one wanted to talk to us, and as soon as Dante said that prayer, I was filled with the spirit and I knew that all the things we go through on the mission are so worth it because we meet people who change their lives and who also change ours.

After we visited Rosario, it was time for the food appointment. We ate with a member in the ward from Peru named Maribel and her brother Aldo. Her brother isn't a member but he loves us and loves to cook for us. He told me that I have to go to Peru when I get home from my mission. We were all freezing cold and soaking wet but like all missionaries we just kept quiet so we weren't a bother. Aldo accidentally touched the sleeve of Hna. Chambers and felt that she was wet and he freaked out. We all then confessed that we were really cold and wet still and so he hurried and got us a bunch of coats and blankets and socks and hats and anything he could find. It was much appreciated. He also made us hot chocolate which warmed us up.

After the food, we went to more food with our friend Luz. She just recently came back from the mission for health problems and is super awesome. She helps us a ton. She is the only member in her family and is super faithful. Her mom is super nice, just doesn't want to commit to baptism...but she will one day! We ate with them and then hurried home full as can be. We exchanged gifts between companions and it was fun. Mom, my companions say thank you for the stockings!

Also, shout out to Joyce Seegmiller! I got her package she sent me on Monday. It was awesome because she sent a bunch of little toys, so we gave them to Rosario so that Santa could bring something to her boys. We also gave them a little nativity set that she sent and they loved it!!

Thursday...well, I talked to you all so you know how that went. That was so great. I love you all so much.

Saturday was the day that Rosario, Dante and Diego...and the rest of the ward were going to go to the temple visitor's center. We visited them before they headed out and they were so excited. When we got to the house, Dante showed us the hymn book that Santa brought him with the BIGGEST SMILE I have ever seen. I had to take a picture because it was so cute and I was dying of laughter. He had already put stickers all over the cover.

Also, Saturday, my birthday miracle happened! We all know that David (or super Dave as the Elders like to call him) went out of town. On Saturday, we were in the ruta heading to a cita and I just felt like I should call him to see if he had service again. The phone rang and rang and I was just about to hang up when he answered!! I was so happy. He was in the airport headed back home and he said that he would be in church the next day. I asked him how he was doing with his coffee and he said that he is drinking tea in the mornings and has been feeling fine. We were so excited to hear that! He did come to church yesterday and we are going to visit him as much as possible to make sure he is set for baptism this weekend!

Yesterday was the best day ever! Probably the most memorable birthday yet. The whole day I felt special. My companion made me breakfast and the other sisters had bought me a donut and put 26 matches as candles in it for me because they didn't have candles. hahahaha. It was hilarious. Hna. Balboa and Hna. Zamora brought me a present at church and a bunch of members remembered it was my birthday. They even announced it over the pulpit! haha. After that everyone was hugging me and telling me happy birthday. My little buddy Michelle (Mich), who never wants to talk to me in English even though she speaks it, made me a card and told me 'Happy Birthday!' in English!

Church was great and then we went to the food with the Martinez Guzman family. I LOVE this family. They invited another family over and all the missionaries (8 of us) to celebrate with me. We ate food and then I used my 26 candles that Mom sent me on the cake. It is a tradition here in Mexico to take a bite of the cake and then others smash your face into it while you are biting it. And that is exactly what happened! Cake went up my nose and in my mouth and I couldn't breathe! Everyone was laughing hysterically except me...well, because I couldn't breathe. haha. After, I joined in the laughter! The family also made little bags of candy so that I could give them out to everyone as a party favor, which is also another tradition. I felt so special, seriously. Everyone was so good to me.

After that food appointment, we headed to the Pintor's house...for more cake! haha. When I walked in all the lights were out and they threw confetti on me and started singing Las Mañanitas (the birthday song in Mexico). They bought me chocolate cake and I also had my face pushed into it! haha. It was so fun to be with them.

We ate so much food this week, I think I am going to start a 40-day fast. Or at least pray that I get sent back to Iguala so I can lose the weight I gained in the last week. haha.

I really had a great birthday and week! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I don't think I will have time to respond to everyone, but know that I love you and appreciate your support.

I am grateful for the mission. This is a time I will never forget or regret. I know that the church is true and that Christ is our Savior! I know that the gospel changes lives. I am grateful to be a part of this great work here in Mexico!

Love you all sooo much!

the 26 year old Hermana Durham :)

Rosario and Dante with the Nativity
The package from Joyce!!
Our Little Christmas Tree!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Twas 3 days before Christmas

I am soooo excited to talk to you all! I remember when Hermana Ward and I started counting down from 60 days! I am planning on calling home at about 2 your time, so make sure you are ready.

I would like to share a story about the power of the Book of Mormon. Yesterday, we were going to a Christmas Devotional type thing in the stake center and we needed to take a taxi. Some of the other sisters in my ward got a taxi before us and the taxi man charged them $35 pesos which is a steal from where we live. We were hopíng to get the same price with the next taxi (we had to split up since there are 8 of us) and every taxi that passed by wanted to charge us more. We were kind of bummed, especially because some of the taxi drivers were rude about it. Whatever. We got a taxi for $40 pesos and started to contact the driver like good missionaries always do. I explained to him what the Book of Mormon was and gave him a copy. We also told him the meaning of his name because it is found in the Bible. When we got to the stake center, we handed him the money that we owed him and he wouldn't accept it! He told us that we gave him a free book and that he was happy with that! Free taxi ride! That NEVER happens here....NEVER. The Book of Mormon has power and we were so grateful since we are poor missionaries. :) We got his address and information and we are going to pass it on to the missionaries in his area! #scripturepower

Have I mentioned about Don Pedro? He is the dad of our investigator David. He is really old and really short and super Christian. I think I did mention him. Well, we were walking down the street and ran into him on Tuesday. We started to talk a little bit. He always likes to preach a little to us. Well, just as we were leaving, he grabs my hand and pulls me in to give me a hug! Haha...What was I going to do? Reject him? You can't reject Don Pedro. So we gave him hugs and kept on walking. Oh Pedro...

Wednesday we had our Christmas Conference in the mission and it was SO FUN! President and Sister Kusch gave talks and President Kusch started crying when he said that this was his last Christmas conference of the year and of his mission here in Mexico! I really love Pres. and Sis. Kusch. After the talks, we all got ready for our skits! I was Cindy Lou Who. Our skit was pretty funny, it was a mesh of a bunch of different movie characters. It started with Cindy Lou Who who had a reference for the sister missionaries (who were played by Elders) and we went around trying to find people to teach. The list of characters included Grinch, Willy Wonka, Elsa from Frozen, Shrek and the Donkey, Tinker Bell, Dori from Nemo, and Santa Claus. Maybe I will tell you about it one day but I don't want to waste my time giving all the details. Just trust me that it was funny and everyone loved my hair.

After the skits, we did a white elephant exchange...and let me tell you. I gave the shirt that says I LOVE with my face on it with a soccer ball! This one Elder from another zone picked it and when he opened it everyone laughed! And everyone was asking for a shirt like it! haha. President and Sister Kusch thought it was funny and asked me where I got it done...I told them my pop sent it to me! A sister in my district ended up stealing it because she loves me! I mean...who wouldn't want a shirt with my face on it? :) I am giving the other two to Hna. Garcia and Hna. Ward. I ended up being the LAST person to pick a gift and we could only steal 1 time because there were so many of us...I got probably the lamest gift out of all the gifts, candy in some tins that looked like Mario and a video game controller. Obviously some Elder bought that. Whatever. We ate delicious food and cake after and then cleaned up and headed out. It was so fun to be with everyone and to celebrate Christmas.

That night we had a really good lesson with David. He is seriously so awesome and everyone loves him. All the Elders in the other ward met him at church yesterday and they were all like 'I want to go to his baptism! He is so funny!' He always texts us in English and most of the time we don't understand what he is saying, but A for effort, right? haha. But we received some sad news on Saturday from him. He got called for a job in the Gulf coast working on a platform with his uncle fixing the electricity there. He doesn't know for how long he will be there and won't be able to communicate with us until he returns! His baptismal date is set for the 3rd so we are praying that he gets back this week! He left this morning and hopes to come back before the new year. I almost cried when he told us, but at least he was able to come to church yesterday. We taught him the word of wisdom and chastity. It was so funny because there is a song called 'In Our Lovely Deseret' that basically teaches the word of wisdom. We were teaching him and he drinks coffee in the mornings to wake him up and he asked us 'Is there a song that can help me not drink coffee and help me wake up in the morning?' Hna. Ward and I looked at each other like 'Should we??' and so we sang that song for him and he loved it! haha. I really hope he comes back soon because if not, there is a chance (a pretty good one) that Hna. Ward and I won't be together for his baptism! :(

Rosario and Dante are doing so well. Rosario mentioned that she doesn't have skirts and that she noticed that everyone wears skirts to church. We asked around and rounded up a few skirts (she is like size zero) for her and gave them to her a few days ago. She came to church with one on and looked so good! She told us that the only thing Dante asked for for Christmas was a mini hymn book like the ones Hna. Ward and I have so we are going to the offices today to buy one. That is the only thing he wanted! He loves Primary!

We visited the reference from Enrique this week, they are cousins (primos hermanos...whatever that means) and he received us in his farmacia. His name is Roberto and just lost his son a few months ago. We didn't have much time so we explained a little about our message and set an appointment to visit him in his house. We went on Saturday and met with his girlfriend and him and taught the plan of salvation. They didn't accept a baptismal date and also told us they couldn't go to church (we will work on it) but Roberto said the closing prayer and in the prayer he thanked Heavenly Father that his cousin sent us to visit him because he felt like his burden had been lifted a little more and he felt like he had the strength to keep going. We are going to visit them again. They don't really understand that our church is different than other churches, so we will explain the Restoration to them and see how it goes.

We also have another investigator named Fatima. She is 9 years old and literally is the girl version of Greco. SUPER smart and SUPER excited to be baptized. Her mom has been inactive for the last year, but they went to church about two years ago. They are starting to come back to church and Fatima is amazing. We taught her the plan of salvation and after we were done she gave us a perfect summary of what we had just taught. She also said that she really wants to be closer to God and is so excited to be baptized! She talks like a little adult and I love her! I really feel like kids honestly understand better than adults (no offense but it is true) and are so much more sensitive to the spirit. I love it!

I probably have more to share with you, but I think this will have to do. I am so excited to talk with you all in a few days!!!!! I know the church is true with all my heart. I am so grateful to be a missionary here at this time. There is no doubt in my mind that I am in the right place at the right time. It is so interesting how God works with us. I never in my life imagined that I would be a missionary, but now I can't imagine what it would be like if I wasn't a missionary. Does that make sense? I wish I could spend the Christmas season with you all but if I had to be in another place, I am glad that I am here.

I hope we can all remember that Jesus Christ really is the best gift that we have or ever will receive from a loving Heavenly Father who wants the best for His children. I hope that we all can reflect this Christmas on what we can do to show our love to our Savior for His sacrifice.

I love you all! So much. so so so so so much. See you on THURSDAY!!!!!!! :)

Hermana Durham!

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Want to See the Temple!

Hello my dear family!

Guess what? 10 days until I get to see your beautiful faces and I am soooo excited! This week was a good week even though it was the Virgen's birthday! December 12 the people here go crazy and celebrate the virgin of Guadalupe...don't ask me where her name came from and how they know that Dec 12 is her birthday, but whatever. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be because all the parties start after we are in the house! My companion and I did see a HUGE castle thing with lights that said ´Fe en ti, Madre' and I was happened to Jesus? They seriously are obsessed with the virgin here.

I don't know what happened to me, but on Wednesday night, when my companion and I were saying prayers, I started feeling sick like I was going to throw up. I hadn't felt sick at all that day and I didn't eat anything out of the ordinary so it was weird. I thought maybe I just needed to go to the bathroom or pass some gas (is this too much information? OH well...Viva Mexico). I was hoping to just fall asleep but it got bad and I went to the bathroom...and guess what? The double dragon hit again. I am not kidding. I threw up all that I ate that day and then some...It was the weirdest thing. After that, I went to bed and woke up the next morning like nothing had happened (except that I was really exhausted). I have no idea what it was, but whatever it was, I hope it doesn't come back!

I have some awesome news! The Pintor Family is going to the temple this week to do baptisms for the dead!!!!!!! I am so so so happy. They have been taking a family history class on Sundays and have prepared some of their family names to be baptized. They are going on the stake temple trip to Oaxaca temple on Thursday night and will get home Saturday morning. I can't express how happy and also jealous I am that they get to go to the temple. I love that family and they are truly converted to the gospel. They go to all the activities, are on time to church, fulfill their callings and are just really great. We are teaching their oldest son but his progress is a little bit slower than the rest of the family. We are hoping that he will get baptized soon so that the whole family can be sealed together in a year.

The stake had a choir Christmas devotional on Saturday and we went with 3 of our investigators. I'll just say that it didn't compare to the Quail Ridge Choir with Brother Orgill at the reigns but our investigators liked it! haha. It was nice to hear the Christmas Music and feel the Christmas Spirit.

We have some really great investigators right now! Rosario and Dante are super. Dante participated in the primary program yesterday and did a great job. He gave his part and then stood up there for like a minute because he didn't know what to do and just smiled a big smile. I loved the primary program so much and started to cry when I saw Greco and Eder, my two primary recent converts go up and sing 'When I am Baptized' with another convert of the other sisters. Thinking about how they will be missionaries in just a few short years made me so happy. We hadn't seen Greco for about a month because they changed the limits of our area and when I saw him after sacrament, he ran up and gave me a big hug. I love that little kid so much.

Hna. Ward and I had a really good lesson with David on Sunday. We invited Cesar, our recent convert, and his mom to join us in the lesson and it was super powerful. I love the testimonies of recent converts. We taught the plan of salvation and cleared up some doubts that David had. In the end, David said that in the last three weeks, since he met us, he has changed a lot and he really feels like he is in the right path. He wants to be clean of his sins and accepted a baptismal date for the 3rd of January. At the end of the lesson, Cesar gave his testimony about how he knows that this is the true church and that even though he doesn't have much support from friends or family (except his mom), he is completely convinced that he is in the right path. I think it really helped David.

Our ward isn't doing a Christmas party this year which we are totally bummed about, but they are all going on an excursion to the temple in Mexico City to visit the visitor's center and see the lights there. I called and asked President Kusch for permission to go (I was elected out of the 8 of us missionaries to call him because I am the only brave enough one to do it.) I didn't think he would say yes, but it was worth the try. He said...and I quote 'No and No.' haha. He said that I should have waited to ask him in person and maybe I could have convinced him with my eyes but the answer is no because it is outside of the limits of the mission. Then he made sure to say 'But it is SUPER awesome and REALLY beautiful and you should definitely go some day.' Thanks, Pres. BUT...I am really happy because Rosario, Dante and Diego and David (our investigators) are all going to go!!!!! And the Pintor Family will also be going. I am super happy that they will be able to be close to the temple. I know that they will feel the spirit there.

We found another investigator this week named Jorge...and he has already read pretty much the whole Book of Mormon! He met the missionaries in Tijuana and went to church a few times with them, too. He is super real and I feel like he has true desires to find the truth but doesn't want to accept baptism just yet. We had a lesson with him and his mom was there. Oh boy...his mom is a testigo de jehova. She was pretty quiet for the majority of the lesson but oh boy, there were a few times that even Jorge was giggling and had to tell her to wait until we finished to preach to us! haha. She is nice, just a little confused :) Jorge came to church yesterday and liked it a lot. He even sent us a text thanking us for inviting him and for the hospitality that everyone showed him in the church. We were happy to see that!

I am so grateful to be a missionary here. I am excited to have Christmas in Mexico although I am going to miss being at home. But don't worry, we have many people here that love us and will make sure we have a happy, food-filled holiday! This week we have our Christmas Conference in the mission and I am super excited about that, too! I am excited to be with President and Sister Kusch and all of the missionaries in my zone. I am sure we will have a good time.

I love being a missionary. It is one of the best callings to have. There is nothing like sharing the gospel and helping others feel the love of the Savior. I know that He lives and loves each and every one of us. The plan of salvation is so perfect and I know that families are eternal. I know that we have a living prophet that guides and directs this church with the power and authority of God. I know that the priesthood is the power of God on the earth given to worthy men to bless the lives of others.

I love you all! Thanks for your love and prayers.

Hermana Durham

Me with Michel. She is a member of the ward and speaks English (well, is learning it in school) but she WON'T talk with me. Everytime I talk to her, she just laughs nervously and looks away. Her parents keep telling her to take advantage and practice. One day she will talk to me!!

At the Christmas Fireside with Rosarios and her kids

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!