Monday, June 30, 2014

Andale, Pues

ATTENTION TO MY FAMILY. Basically all of you are going to be together this weekend. I would exhort you to TAKE A LOT OF PICTURES and then send them to me. I love seeing pictures of your beautiful faces. I will miss you all and I KNOW you will miss me, right?!?! Also, you can always send me pictures and packages. :) Mascara and chocolate are always appreciated. 

Next order of business:

FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS to PAPA and CHRISTEN yesterday! I thought about you yesterday and hope that you had a wonderful day. 


Everyone in Iguala...not sure if it's only here or Mexico in general, says ´´ándale, pues´´ It means nothing, really. I always want to say it because I think it's cool but I feel really dumb because I am super white. Also, this little girl today asked me why I am so güera (white). I told her because I only eat vanilla ice cream. Just kidding...I don't even like vanilla. 

Also, mom, you already know because you are the biggest blog stalker in the universe...but yes...Hermana Junca is now in my zone and my STL. I was super excited to see her last week. It felt good to talk to a girl in English. I specify girl because Elders are annoying. Just kidding, they are cool but it's different.

My half-birthday was June 28th (thanks for remembering...) and I realized that I am half-way to 2......6. AHHH!!! Which means I am more than half-way to 30. I almost cried. Everyone thinks I'm 19 or 20 (probably because I have acne now) so at least I don't look my age. :)

My companion completed 1 year in the mission this week! I made her a sign and taped this little package of hot sauce that came in my Doritos bag to it (I know, so thoughtful. But seriously, she DRINKS Valentina Hot Sauce like it's water). I can't imagine having a year in the mission but then I realized I will complete 5 months in a week and that time is going by. Crazy!

This week, unfortunately, was full of lessons with people who JUST DON'T GET IT. I swear, my companion and I teach simply and clearly but people here (and all over the world) have such a skewed view of who God and Jesus Christ really are. Satan has been hard at work during the last...well, since the beginning of time. We taught a lesson to this man and at the end of the lesson, we asked him to pray. We had explained in the beginning how to offer a prayer. He was like...yes, I'll pray, but only if I can pray my way. So I asked him how he prays and he said that he only prays in Hebrew and he prays to Jeshua or something like that because that is the real name of God and a whole bunch of other things. I looked at my companion like 'what do we do?!' We explained the godhead and the reason why we pray to God and in the name of Jesus Christ. I bore my testimony. All that good stuff...and he was like 'I renounced Christianity a long time ago. The bible was originally written in Hebrew so we should pray in Hebrew' I was like 'Hermano, if we all had to pray in Hebrew, nobody would pray. God speaks all languages so you can pray in Spanish.' He refused so I offered the prayer.  I don't think we will be going back. 

We had another Noche de Hogar (FHE) with the ward and people showed up...none of our investigators, but some recent converts. It was really fun. We played this came called Fruit Cocktail and everyone is a fruit (pineapple, grape, or apple) and the person in the middle says 'I want a cocktail with pineapple and grape' and everyone has to change seats. The last person standing is in the middle but before they can call out another cocktail, they have to say a joke, dance, or sing a song. I only know 1 joke in spanish 'Cuantas estrellas hay en el cielo?' 'Cincuenta or Sin cuenta' (If you don't get it, ask someone who speaks spanish) I don't know if they didn't understand me or if it just wasn't funny but nobody laughed at first so I slumped my shoulders and frowned my face like 'Dang it!' and then everyone laughed. YES! Silly white girl. hahaha. 

Also, for one of our plans to receive more references from the ward, I asked the bishop if we could teach the 5th Sunday lesson. I know, I'm crazy because I don't speak spanish but I thought it would be a good idea. WE taught it with the Elders and I gave a portion about the Work of Salvation...what is it and what is the purpose of the members and missionaries. My companion told me that I did really well. There was only one point where I couldn't remember how to say 'failure' and my companion was trying to tell me but I couldn't hear her. The WHOLE ward said the word at the same time to help me out. Haha. THANKS!! The whole lesson went well and I am hoping we inspired the members to think of people we could teach...and hopefully they live in our area because the references we do receive are always for the Elders. But it's all good because we are all on the same team. 

I am continuing to learn a lot from my Book of Mormon reading. I am at the part about the Sons of Mosiah and their missionary work. Man...they were powerful missionaries. As I was reading the story of Ammon this morning, I had the thought that he really had a love for God and for the Lamanites. They were a hard-hearted and ferocious people, but he understood deeply the Plan of Salvation. He had a firm testimony that it is only through faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism by someone who has the priesthood authority, the gift of the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the End that we will be saved in the Kingdom of God. He desired that these people, his brethern as he called them, repent and be saved. I will admit, sometimes it is hard to have love for everyone. But when we love God and understand the beauty of the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be filled with love for others. 

I love this gospel and know that it is true. I am grateful to be a missionary at this time. I hope all of you realize that you are also missionaries. There are people waiting to hear this message. They may not know it yet, but they are being prepared. The work of the members is so important. Open your mouths, talk freely about church and your beliefs, make it apart of your life and ways will be opened for your to bring others into the fold of God. I promise it is worth it. 

I love you all. 

Hermana Durham


We ate breakfast this morning with Hermana Tomy. She is the sister that is in a wheelchair who was mentioned in my bathroom story last week. Her roommate was there, too. Also, if you notice in the background...there are all of these saints because her roommate is SUPER Catholic. 

My lovely shoe tan. And bug bites galore. 

Happy 1 year, Hermana Hernandez!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Can You Teach Me English?

A man in the ciber cafe just asked me if I could teach him English in my spare time. Spare time doesn't exist here, sorry. I can teach you the gospel, though! It's way more exciting than English, I promise.
Also, Mike, Sarah and Emma last week!!!!!
Hello Beautiful Family,
So remember how I talked about having good health on the mission? Well, I didn't jynx myself, but my poor companion got the GRIPA this week. Gripa is a cold but it sounds a lot more menacing in spanish. It started last Monday but was the worst on Wednesday. We went out to work like normal but she was sneezing, coughing, her eyes were watering like crazy and she just didn't feel good. So we headed back home and she slept the whole day. I studied and wrote some letters and stared at the wall. It was pretty boring. Our ward mission leader's wife brought us my favorite enchiladas verdes so we didn't starve and later that night she came back with her husband and he gave Hna. Hernandez a blessing. She felt well enough to work the next morning. Also, everyone here is convinced that if you drink cold water you will get sick and die. Ok, maybe not die, but everyone was telling me that my companion shouldn't drink cold water because it's very dangerous. I'm over here like, I could eat Sonic Ice all day and I never got sick from that. It's ok.
On Thursday we went out with an hermana (Tomy) in our ward who is in a wheel chair. She had a friend that she wanted us to meet who is super catholic and really has no interest but it's all good. She was nice and offered us water. We were heading to another appointment with Tomy when all of a sudden...I HAD to go to the bathroom. I don't know what it was because I hadn't eaten anything strange that day or the day before, but I can tell you honestly this was the first day that I actually thought I was going to poop my pants in the street. I suggested rather urgently that we head back to Tomy's house. We booked it to her house and I ran into the bathroom just in time to figure out that her roommate was taking a shower RIGHT NEXT to the toilet. And the bathrooms in Mexico aren't super private...there was like a shower curtain separating us. But at this point I didn't care. She got to hear it all. Once I was finished, I realized that the toilet is one that doesn't flush on it's own so I had to get two buckets of water to pour into the bowl. It slightly painful...literally and figuratively. Oh the joys of the mission.
Also, funny story. I have a picture of the family (the one with everyone right after my farwell talk) and I showed my zone leader last week. He asked me if Pop was a bishop and I said 'yes, but why do you ask?' and he told me that he has the face of a bishop. haha...Pop, even in pictures you can see the weight of your calling.
Speaking of bishops, in sacrament meeting yesterday, my bishop called specific individuals out about preparing to serve missions. Young single adults, Single adult women and couples. It was a little uncomfortable. I was sitting behind one of the YSAs and she was like 'umm....what?!' But one cool thing is that his son and another young man in our ward got their mission calls and opened them after church. Both will be serving in Mexico (Monterrey East and Vera Cruz). Here, the mission call is sent to the bishop and not to the individual. I'm glad it's not like that at home.
The elders in our ward had a baptism so my companion and I went to support. Right before it started, my mission leader was like 'Hermana, I need you to give a talk while Myr is changing about missionary work and ask for references'. I was like 'Oh you mean my companion, right?' He was all '! No tenga miedo!' Ok, this is going to be short. Luckily, though, I gave the thought in la comida earlier that day on missionary work (miracles) so I had a scripture and shared some thoughts and asked for references. The funny thing was, the only people in the baptism were the missionaries and the ward missionaries that already help us a ton. But it was good practice and my companion said she could understand everything that I said, so that is encouraging
More on the spanish subject. We did divisions on Saturday...this is where my companion and I go out with members of the ward so that we can teach more lessons. I went with a sister named Lulu. She speaks English and is actually an English teacher here. We went to visit a less active (also named Lulu) who also speaks English. She lived her whole live in Arizona but has been back in Mexico for about 6 years. She told me she prefers to be taught in English. It was actually kind of hard. I said the opening prayer and I kept switching back and forth between Spanish and English. I'm not fluent by any means, but there are certain words and phrases I use a lot so it was hard to remember what they mean in English. Lulu said that I speak really well for only being in Mexico for 3 months. Then we went and contacted a friend of hers and the lady told me that I speak really well and that by the time I return home frrom my mission, I'm going to be Mexican and won't be able to speak English. Hooray! I've been a lot better at reminding myself that I have only been here for a short amount of time and that I still have a lot of time to learn. I don't understand everything yet, but I understand enough. And apparently people understand me so that is great. My vocabulary is a little limited to gospel terms, but I'm sure it will grow as time moves on.
I'm realizing this email is super long. Oh well.
This morning in my Book of Mormon reading, I read the story of Alma and his people that fled the wicked Kind Noah and established the church. They were good people and living righteously, but the Lord 'saw it fit to chasten his people' and test their patience and faith. The people of Alma were in bondage to the Lamanites/Amulon. Amulon was one of the wicked priest of King Noah and for some reason he didn't like Alma (I don't really know why because all Alma did was run away from King Noah and establish the church but whatever). He put heavy burdens on the people and was super rude. The people of Alma prayed really hard and Amulon said that they couldn't pray or they would be killed. They kept praying, but in their hearts. Because they were so faithful and patient, the Lord made their burdens light. They were still in bondage, but they had hope. They continued in faith and the Lord helped them flee their captivity and find the people of Kind Mosiah.
How many of us have thought 'I am doing everything I am supposed to. I go to church, pay my tithing, say my prayers, do my visiting teaching. Why is my life so hard? Why do I have this burden?' I know I have. I love this story in the Book of Mormon because it gives us the answer to why. Our purpose here in this life is to prepare to meet God after we die and to one day become like him. Here on earth we need to progress, grow, learn, be tested etc. etc. How are we going to be able to become like God one day if we never had to deal with hard things? How are we supposed to develop a stronger relationship with our Savior if we never have the need to rely wholly on His grace and mercy? The Lord needs to know that we will be faithful. He wants to help us and the cool thing is -- He knows what is best for us. He gives us challenges and trials for specific reasons and we will become the people we are supposed to if we endure them well.
And that is the endure with patience and faith. It is one thing to endure...but another to do it WELL...with the faith, hope and patience that the Lord will make everything right. Honestly, the Lord knows what's up. If we pray to Him for help and do all we can to be happy, He will lighten our burdens and eventually deliever us out of bondage.
I'm so grateful for this gospel. We have the secret to a happy life: THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. As we live the gospel righteously and do all we can, yes we will still have burdens and hard trials, but we will have the faith and hope that one day, all will be made right through Christ. We need to try hard and do all we can do...we can't just say we believe, but we need to live like we believe. I really hope all of you are doing well. I pray everyday for my family and friends, that they will remain firm in this gospel because I KNOW it is the only way they will be truly happy in this life. I am so grateful for my Savior and this gospel.
I love you all. Have a happy week!!!!
Love, Hermana Durham

I tried taking a picture with the kids of my ward mission leader. They kept putting their faces super close together so there wasn't any space for me. This was the best I got. Haha...luckily my huge zit on my chin made the cut. Enjoy!

Monday, June 16, 2014

I Can Do Hard Things... If I Have a Tortilla

Hello everyone!!

Last week we had our Zone meeting and I finally got my package, mom!! Also, I got a BILLION letters and pretty much half of them were from Sister Seegmiller! THANK YOU JOYCE! Everyone was giving me a hard time because I had so much mail. I just told them it's because I have 5 boyfriends writing me. Duh. 

But seriously, my package was perfect. I finally have my beloved Cetafil so hopefully my acne will start going away. Yes, I have acne now. Not much, but more than I ever have. I've really hit some new lows as far as my appearance goes on the mission. My makeup routine consists of...mascara. That's it. I sweat everything else off so it's all good. The hankies are much appreciated, mom. I am using them to their fullest potential. And I love all the shirts you sent. How did you find them? I couldn't find anything before I left. You are the best.

This week we have some high points and low points. Pretty typical. One low point was that we planned a FHE activity for our investigators and we invited everyone and their dog (literally) and all of our menos activos and guess how many people showed up? ZERO. The only people that came were: Our ward mission leader, the bishop and his family, the 2nd counselor and the family whose house we were using. I felt super bad and embarrassed. But everyone was super nice and told us 'no se preocupen' don't worry. But I might have cried a little on the walk home. But only a little, I promise. Hopefully the ward will start realizing we need their help more! We are struggling receiving references. We do have a lot of support from the ward, we just need a little more. 

But like I said, we had some good moments, too. Yesterday at church, our investigator Romaldo wasn't there at the beginning of sacrament meeting. We had passed by his house earlier and he wasn't home but we figured he has already left because he rides his bike to church and the chapel is pretty far now. Plus, he told us that he was going to beat us to the chapel that day. So I was confused but half way through the meeting, he showed up. Good old Romaldo. He told us that he went to a different church first because he forgot where the chapel was (we moved chapels last week.) He ended up at some Pentacostel (how do you spell that?) church and realized that it wasn't the right one so he went looking for the right chapel and finally found it. If I was him, I would have turned around and gone home! I was so happy he made it. 

Speaking of the chapel being far away. One of the Hermanas in our ward laid the smack down yesterday in Relief Society. They were talking about  activities and church being far away and how no one is going to come because it costs more money to take a taxi and all of this stuff. She raised her hand and was like 'This is not a matter of money. THIS IS A MATTER OF FAITH. How far did the Pioneers have to walk to make it to Zion? How much did they have to sacrifice? If you want to be at church, you will find a way. And you NEED to be at church because we have made covenants with the Lord of keep His commandments...' and so on and so forth. It was powerful and wanted to clap afterward, but that would have been inappropriate. But seriously, it's true. Plus, the bishopric is providing transportation from the old chapel to the new chapel in this big truck. Let me try to explain. 

So after church, we were eating dinner with a sister who lives close to the old chapel and she hitched a ride with the transportation. Since it was free, my companion and I decided to take advantage of it (usually we take a taxi). So it's this big truck and in the truck bed, there is a fence like thing around the side. Everyone crammed in the back of the truck bed...there were probably 20 of us standing in the back of the truck. Super Mexican. It would have been totally illegal in the US and it was probably really unsafe and it was super hilarious when he would turn a corner or brake because everyone was moving all over the place, but it's all good. We were leaving church so we have the Lord's protection. I wish I had my camera to document it but unfortantely I didn't have it. Next time. 

Also, I ate chicharon for the first time and didn't get sick. Before the mission someone told me that they only time they got sick was when they ate chicharon so I was a little worried but I'm ok. I told the hermana that I loved it...and it tasted good because of the salsa, but the texture is kind of like boogers so it wasn't my favorite. Luckily, with a tortilla, I can eat just about anything. 

Also, Mundial has started. The big world cup of soccer. EVERYONE watches the matches and it's a little distracting during lessons when all of a sudden you hear a big GOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLL. It's too bad we can't watch but I don't know anything about soccer so it's all good. I heard US lost pretty badly and I wasn't sad about it. Right now, I'm all about Mexico. Also, my companion told the family we ate with yesterday that they shouldn't watch TV on sundays...and I thought...I am sure my family is watching a Dodger's game right now. Am I a bad missionary  if I wanted to tell them to just watch the soccer game? I didn't, but I totally wanted to! Oops.

I hope you are all happy and healthy. I am lucky I've been blessed with good health here on the mission (although my legs are covered in bug bites and I want to rip them off. Also, I'm probably going to get the dengue...just kidding, mom. :) I use repellent but it doesn't work very well.) Hopefully I didn't just jinx myself. 

Anyway, I have been blessed here on the mission with so much. I am grateful everyday for the mercy and grace of the Savior. There are so many things that I need to do during the day and some days...or I should say every day...I fall short. I am so grateful that if we give our all to do the will of the Lord, Christ's grace is sufficient to make up the difference. I have pondered this and still don't fully comprehend how it all works, but I have faith that it is true. I know that the Lord is directing this work. Somehow He is working through this gringa that can't speak the language very well to move His work forward. 

Also, one more thing. I have a testimony of scripture reading. I want to challenge everyone within the sound of my voice...ok, within sight of my words? That works. Anyway, the Book of Mormon. That book is powerful and true. It have the answers to your questions and brings peace and hope to those who study it's words. READ IT. Every day. 

Love you all!!!!!!!!!!

Hermana Durham

My and my companion. Looking super attractive, I know. 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Totally Worth The Cockroaches

Hello family of mine,
I'M AN AUNT AGAIN!!! Congratulations to Chelsea and Weston. Baby Easton is a precious little gem. Two nephews in one week. Could life be any better? SO happy. So so happy.
Also, I hit 4 months in the mission this week. Weird.

Changes were this week but we didn't get changes so I will be working in Iguala at least for another 6 weeks. I am happy because we have some great investigators...that don't always come to church but we are working on it.

Today for pday we went to the 'mall' here and I felt for a second like I was in America. For real. There was air conditioning and I ate lunch at subway and the lady at subway spoke English. It was weird contacting her in English. It was more like Spanglish. I love Mexico, don't get me wrong...but sometimes I miss my homeland. Especially when you find cockroaches in your house EVERYDAY. I am pretty sure this week we found more than 15...big cockroaches. And two of them were in the door crack of the fridge. I was lucky enough to open the fridge one of the times and I screamed so loud. And couldn't open the fridge for a couple of days after. But life goes on, right?
Cool story.
About two weeks ago, we did splits with the STLs and I was with Hna. Boitel. She is from the DR and super cool. She needed post-its so we went into a papeleria to buy some and contacted the people working there. There is a mom and 2 daughters in their 20s. They told me they met with the missionaries about a year and a half ago but the missionaries got changed and no one came back to visit them. It is always good to find people who accepted the missionaries before. So I made an appointment to teach them another day. We went back 2 or 3 times and each time they weren't there or couldn't meets with us. I still felt like we needed to go back so on Friday we went and taught them the frist lesson (The Restauration - is that who it's spelled in English?) the end, Hna. Hernandez asked them if the last time the missionaries taught them they prayed about the message. All three of them said 'Yes, we prayed before and knew it was true). Come again? Jaw drop. Ok, my jaw didn't actually drop, but it was one of those moments where you are unsure if you should believe them or not. We challenged them to baptism and they accepted! They didn't come to church yesterday, though. I was really sad about that but I am not giving up hope. They are prepared. How exciting!

Our church building that is really close to our area is now being remodeled so we are meeting in a building a lot farther away. This is going to be a challenge for us with our investigators and for the members here. But I have hope that things will get better.
One last thing. There is a family in our ward who got baptized a little over a year ago and went to the temple to be sealed this past weekend. They bore their testimonies in Sacrament meeting and of course I was crying. I love the temple and to see a family really understand what the gospel is all about was just beautiful. I can't wait to find more people like that.
I am grateful to be doing this work. It's totally worth the cockroaches. Yes, I said it.
Really, though. I know this is the only true church on the face of the earth. I know that this gospel changes lives and that through the sacred ordinances of baptism and those in the temple, we cam be cleansed from our sins and truly come to know our Savior.
I love you all. Have a happy week!

Hermana Durham

Monday, June 2, 2014

Small Pinkies and Scary Eyes

Hi Family!

This week we had RAIN here in Iguala. It's really awesome because a lot of our area is dirt roads so my shoes were coated with mud. Also, my shoes that are the most comfortable (the black clarks)...the sole is cracked. I feel like an official missionary now. Don't worry, mom. They are still functioning just fine. And the smell really good...just kidding.  

First thing first...I HAVE A NEW NEPHEW AND HE IS PERFECT AND CHUBBY AND BEAUTIFUL!!! Congratulations Christen and Mike! I can't tell you how badly I want to hold him, but I guess I'll have to wait another year. In the mean time, don't forget to show him pictures of me and brainwash...or, I mean...tell him about his favorite Aunt Kylie. :) 

This past week we have Zone Conference. It was really great. I must tell you, President Kusch is an inspired man and I feel very lucky to serve here with him. We are all reading the Book of Mormon in 65 days because that is how long it took Joseph Smith to translate the golden plates. I am reading in it Spanish so it takes me a little longer. We have to read 10 pages a day in order to finish in time and so far I am on track! It's only been two days, though. Haha. We are reading it and highlighting ever reference about the Gospel/Doctrine of Jesus Christ...Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. Each in a different color. I am also highlighting referencing to the Savior. I am really excited about this. I also have hopes that this will improve my Spanish. I think it was President Hinckley that promised if we read the Book of Mormon in the language we are trying to learn, we will be able to learn it faster. 

This week I was told that I have really long pinkies. I never noticed before. We were in a lesson with one of our families that we are teaching and we compared my pinky to was like twice the size of their pinkies! freaky looking. But I think it's because they have dwarf pinkies. For real. I'm the normal one, ok? 

Also, in another lesson with a menos activo family that we are working with, they told me that their son is afraid of my eyes! He thinks they are freaky looking. I opened them really big and he literally turned away in fear. But it's ok, because we were visiting another menos activo sister in our ward and she told me that her 3 year old grandson wanted to go to church with her because he wanted to see 'la guerita con los ojos bonitos' (white girl with pretty eyes). So It's all good...I have 3 year olds who are in love with me and others who are afraid. 

The work in progressing here in Iguala but we have a lot more we can do. We didn't have a ton of investigators in church yesterday, but we had some. Also, some of our inactives we are working with were there and that was just as exciting for me. We are working with one family and they haven't been to church in 2 years. We found them and they have a daughter that has a baptismal date (she is 9). Last week they didn't come but they were all in church yesterday and it made me so happy! They are a great family (this is the family with the son who is afraid of my eyes...haha). 

We also found a family that we are teaching that are super Christian but the mom is really receptive and super sweet. She always talks about how she loves that we are always so happy even though we are far from home. 

I think my favorite investigator right now is Romaldo. I don't know why because I can barely understand anything he is saying because...well, it's in spanish AND he mumbles, but he is just really cool. I think he is in his 50s and his wife died last year. His kids aren't the greatest...they don't say anything to us when we come to teach him, but Romaldo is really great and I can tell he is truly being prepared for the gospel. 

I have to remind myself that we just opened up our area here and right now we are working on finding people. But we are doing what we can. Changes are coming up this week but I have a feeling I am going to stay here with Hna. Hernandez. We still have work here to do. 

I am really grateful for this work. And really grateful for the priesthood and those who bare it with humility and love. I am grateful for the sacred ordinances we receive through this power. I realized that May 30 was my 2 year anniversary of going through the temple. TWO YEARS. I know that the ordinances that are found in the temple are saving ordinances that we need in order to progress. Whoever reads this...if you have a temple near you...GO. Go for me...and for the blessings and for the people you will do work for. It's worth it. 

Love you all!!!

Hermana Durham