Monday, September 29, 2014

Hello Again!

Hello Family!

Ok, Sorry that I am the worst at giving shout outs for birthdays. I have my calendar with everyone's birthday but sometimes when I get to writing here I get stressed out because I only have a certain amount of time and I want to write everything. So...please forgive me and accept my belated Happy Birthdays: Emily Ann, Chelsea, Spencer!!!! Happy late birthday!

AND...HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Hannah Marie and Grams this week!!


Ok, so we all know that I stand out a little bit here in Mexico. I just wanted to write the weird moment of the week. We were walking past a group of men in the street and one of them NEIGHED at a horse. I have gotten whistles, cat-calls, I hear 'guerita' almost everyday, but I have never been neighed out. I was slightly startled and then started busting up after realizing what just happened. Oh Mexico...

Last week my companion and I were waiting for the bus to take us home and I thought 'we need a member to drive by right now so we don't have to take the bus' because it was kind of late and the buses were a little sparse. We got on the first bus and headed to the next stop where we needed to wait for another bus to actually take us home (we live 2 bus rides away from our area). After waiting 1 minute, the bishop passed by with him family and offered to give us a ride. Awesome! Then something even better happened. He told us that a sister in the ward has a grandson who is 9 years old and has wanted to be baptized since he turned 8. He has gone to church with his grandma for the last 4 years since she joined the church but his dad wouldn't give permission for him to get baptize. Well...his dad just changed his mind and said that he could be baptized! His grandma, Eloina, lives in the area where we have the Family Group (it's far away in the mountains!) and we ate with her this week (she fed us SO MUCH FOOD) and talked with her about her grandson. We made an appointment to meet with him on Saturday. His name is Greco. We taught him the first lesson and he knew almost everything that we taught! He was so smart and really understood what we were teaching. I love teaching kids. I feel like they are so much more spiritually sensitive and understand things better than some adults do. It really is a miracle that we can teach him and that his dad gave permission. He gave the closing prayer and thanked his Heavenly Father than, even though he has had to wait so long to be baptized, he finally will have the opportunity. 

FABIOLA WAS BAPTIZED THIS WEEK! We have almost completed the Pintor Family. I say almost because they have another son who is older but we haven't been able to teach him because he works a lot. Anyway, Fabiola is awesome. She was so ready and so happy to be baptized. She had invited her sisters and father to come but they were very against her decision. She told me that she was sad but she knew that what she was doing was right and that her Heavenly Father was happy with her. What an example of faith! I told her that her example and the example of her family will bless the lives of her sisters and also generations of people who will be so grateful to have the gospel in their lives. She gave her testimony at the end of the baptism and said that she was the last to be baptized because she was scared to change and but that God changed her heart and she has never felt happier! Tomas performed the baptism, which was also a beautiful experience. Family...isn't it about time? I mean, seriously! Families are the best!

We stayed at the church after the baptism and watched the conference in Spanish. I did understand most of it, but couldn't take notes since I was trying to pay close attention to be able to understand. I obviously LOVED the choir from Korean! They all looked like little Mulans! (even though she was chinese...) It just makes me happy to see that the gospel truly is spreading throughout the WHOLE earth. That people from the other side of the world understand and believe the same principles that I do. Also, I obviously loved the focus on temples and covenants. I miss the temple so much, but I am so grateful for the covenants that I have made with my Heavenly Father. President Uchtdorfs talk was beautiful and I can't wait to read it that I can understand it fully. :)

Sunday started out a little disappointing. We have a family that we are teaching and that wanted to come to church. We made arrangement for a couple from the ward to pass by for them. We met them there to introduce them and when we got there, they were all in their pajamas eating breakfast. We called the night before to confirm and everything and they said yes. The little girl wanted to go but the mom said she couldn't go for 3 hours and since the mom and daughter weren't going to go, the dad decided he didn't want to go either. Man...I was really disappointed but the man and wife that passed by told us not to feel bad, that they would come another day. So we were in sacrament meeting thinking that no one was going to come. We started singing the opening song and in walks Alberto and his mom Lucy! I was so excited! They didn't come last week and Alberto has been working a lot lately so we didn't have much hope. He told us that he worked until 1 in the morning to be able to come on time today! And that when we was leaving his house, he said bye to his mom since he didn't think she was going to come and she was like 'wait for me!! I want to go!' I think I wrote this before, but I just know she is going to be baptize one day and then she will be a temple worker. She also signed up to feed us 3 times this next month! Not even the members do that! 

An awesome part about Sunday was Tomas gave a talk!! It was so good, too. I explained to him the organization of a talk and that since he was a new member, he should share his experience of how he joined the church and then use some scriptures and quotes and make sure to bear his testimony at the end. He gave his talk like a pro...for real. He shared his experience about how the sisters found him and how he didn't believe in prophets or the Book of Mormon when they first started. He shared how he came to know the church was true. He also mentioned how when Hna. Ward and I taught him about the Word Of Wisdom, we told him to throw his coffee into the plants! haha. He had people laughing and crying. He talked about the Love of God and how he feels like the happiest man because his family is in the church and that since he was baptized and receive the gift of the holy ghost, he has never felt alone. He knows that his Heavenly Father loves him. He bore a powerful testimony and I really hope that the members start to feel the spirit of missionary work in this ward. It was beautiful. 

Ok, I am sure there is a ton more I could write, but this will have to do! I am grateful to be a missionary here. My companion and I are working as hard as we can because we know there are more people here that need us. Although it is hard and some days we feel like no one cares, we know that people do care. And our efforts are going to bless someone, even if we don't see it right away. 

I love the gospel. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited for General Conference. And don't worry, I will be watching it in English. I hope that everyone will prepare this week to receive revelation and answers that they need. I know that we will be so blessed this next weekend. We get to hear from the Prophet of God!! Woo hoo! I know this church is true! I know that in this church, and ONLY in this church, we find the saving ordinances and blessing that will allow us to return to live with our Father in Heaven some day. This is why we need to spread the gospel! Invite your friends to listen to conference with you!

I love you alllllllll soooooo much!

Hermana Durham

Monday, September 22, 2014

Renewed determination

Hola Familia!!!

This week went well! We had interviews with President and they were great. I honestly love that man. He is inspired and I feel so grateful to have him and Sister Kusch as my 'fake parents' on the mission. We talked for a good while about my personal progress and how I am doing as a missionary. He told me that I will look back on this time years from now and be grateful for this time. I am learning things now that will serve me for years to come. He said that I will receive blessings throughout my whole life for my service. I am always worried that our numbers don't reflect exactly how we are doing in our area and that he only judges us based on the numbers we report each week, but he assured me that he knows that Hermana Ward and I are working our hardest. He knows that challenges we face in our area and he appreciates our efforts we are making to fulfill our purpose as missionaries. I felt on top of the world after my interview with him and had a renewed determination to give it my all.

Our ward had a Noche Mexicana on Friday to celebrate Independence Day. Of course I wore my embroidered shirt and everyone told me that I looked super Mexican! I was so flattered! haha. I think they love that I try to be as Mexican as possible even though I am so white. This ward is great. We did 'el grito' VIVA MEXICO!!!! and everything. We sang the national anthem...which I didn't sing because I didn't know the words. I did salute the flag, though! We has serveral investigators come and a lot of the members brought their friends. We couldn't stay for the whole thing (we heard it lasted until 12!) but they made sure to give us food before we had to leave. :) Eder, the son of Tomas, danced a traditional dance from Guerrero but I missed it because he danced after we left. They made sure to record it and show it to me later, though!

The highlight of the week was the baptism of EDER!!! He is 10 and has been so excited to get baptized, he even programmed the date of his baptism in his dad's calendar on his phone. He was supposed to be baptized 2 weeks ago but it was postponed twice for various reasons and I was so happy that it finally happened. Tomas was so excited to baptize his son! At the end of the baptism, Eder got up and gave a little 'testimony' of sorts. He said 'Hermanos, estoy muy feliz porque hoy fue mi bautismo. El señor me tocó a mi corazón! Y mañana es mi confirmación y estoy emocionado.' WHich means...Brothers and SIsters, I am very happy because today was my baptism. The lord touched my heart. And tomorrow is my confirmation and I am very excited! It was the cutest thing and made me cry. I love Eder and this family.

Fabiola, the wife of Tomas and mom of Eder will be baptized next week. It has been a struggle to teach her because she works all the time, but we found her miraculously this last week and we were able to finish teaching her. All of our appointments fell through that day so we decided to visit Tomas and Eder because they are usually home. When we passed by, Fabiola was there because Eder stayed home sick that day from school and we were able to finish teaching her. Tomas was leaving to go somewhere but before he left he said 'I want to go to the temple! With my wife!' and I said 'Don't worry, Hermano, we will get you there.' I can't wait for the day when they are sealed as a family. I hope I can be here for it. The best part of the lesson was when Fabiola told us that her sisters were telling her that she was only going to this church for her husband (they are super catholic). She said that she told them that she was not going for that reason. She was going because she knows that it is true! That if she didn't want to go, nobody would make her. She told us that she has seen so many changes in her sons, her daughter in law and her husband and she is so grateful. She told us that she has a testimony and invited all of her sisters to her baptism because she wants them to know that she is doing this because she believes it! Loved hearing that!

I was sad when I got my changes to come to this area because I loved Iguala but I know that I needed to meet and help teach this family. I know they are one of the reasons why I am in this area at this time. I am so grateful to have been able to see the miracle of the gospel work in their lives. They have all changed and are so happy. Yesterday, Eder came to church in a white shirt and tie! He usually would come in jeans and a t-shirt. And Tomas came up to me and said 'I have a problem! I have to speak in church next week!' haha...he is so excited and I showed him how to use the gospel library app on his phone to look up talks and scriptures about his topic. 

There are so many other things I could write you about, but I will leave you with a few scriptures that I read this morning that really touched my heart:

Luke 15:7

 say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repentethmore than over ninety and nine juspersons, which need no repentance.

2 Nephi 26:28
Behold, hath the Lord commandeany that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.

I know that NONE ARE FORBIDDEN to partake of the blessings of the gospel. I know that our Heavenly Father rejoices when we repent. I know that the atonement was performed for EVERYONE and we are ALL of worth. The scriptures don't say that he died for just a few, or for only the perfect people (which don't exist). Nope. It says that His sacrifice is for ALL. TODOS. Everyone can partake of His goodness and receive the fullness of His blessings. WE just need to repent and try to be a little better each day of our lives. We need to remember that we are never cast off but that His arms are stretched our still. He loves us infinitely and perfectly.

I love you all. I keep you in my hearts as I work hard to find the people who want these blessings in their lives. I love being here in Mexico and I am grateful to be a missionary!

Love you all!
Hermana Durham

Monday, September 15, 2014


Oh Hey Family!

This week was definitely interesting. Mostly because I hardly left the apartment. Don't worry, I wasn't sick...but my poor companion Hermana Ward was. It started on Monday and she wasn't feeling very good. Tuesday, she looked kind of pale and seemed a little out of it. I kept asking if she was feeling ok and she told me that she felt 'a little out of it' but we kept working. Wednesday, she could hardly get out of bed. She slept during studies and then we left to go to our first appointment. After that, she really didn't look too good so we called President and asked to go home so she could sleep. Thursday, we didn't even leave the house because she was really weak and couldn't get out of bed, and Friday we ended up in the hospital to get tests done to figure out what she had. She had all the symptoms of Dengue but she didn't have a very high fever. They ran some tests and determined that she had a kidney infection (which I thought was weird because she didn't have any of the typical symptoms but I'm not a doctor). She was put on antibiotics and now she is doing just fine. 

So...what do you do when your companion is sick? I started reading Jesus the Christ by Elder Talmage. I washed all of my garments and socks. Cleaned the apartment, cooked some quesadillas, ate anything I could find because I was bored, listened to the same CD about 10 times, and watched the Restoration video and spanish. If you thought Legacy was cheesy in English, you have got to see it in Spanish. I also wrote a poem for my companion pleading for her to get better because I was going crazy. 

Although we were confined to the apartment for most of the week, we were able to see some miracles.

On Wednesday, our appointment we went to was with Helen. Her baptism was scheduled for Friday. We talked about the baptismal interview questions and she still had some doubts about Joseph Smith being a prophet. I told her that she knows it is true, she just hasn't realized it yet! haha. We committed her to pray specifically about it that night (which we had asked her to do many times before) and told her to pay attention to how she feels after. The next day we had an appointment with her in the morning that we couldn't go to and her interview was that night with the District Leader. We decided to just call her and ask what happened. She said that she prayed that night and felt something 'weird but good' and she said that it was her answer! I was sooooo happy to hear that. On friday, Helen was baptized a member of the church by her husband, Edgar, who was baptized 3 weeks earlier. It was absolutely perfect and so beautiful.

The baptism was great. Our ward mission leader, Hno. Leo. is AWESOME. He is super busy because she studies and works (he's 24) but he really does all he can to fulfill his calling. He put together the baptism and it was really nice. It really helps to have a ward mission leader who does his job! The spirit was so strong. After, he asked Helen to say a few words but she gets panicky speaking in front of big groups of people, so Edgar talked for her. He expressed how happy he felt to have been able to baptize Helen and how they plan to never miss church because their lives have changed so much! Ahhh! I can't tell you what it feels like to hear that. Pure joy. 

We have an investigator, Alberto, who has a mom that I just KNOW needs to be a member. I told Hermana Ward that I am going to baptize her and one day she is going to be a temple worker. Her name is Lucy. I have invited her to church every time we talk to her but she goes to a different Christian church sometimes and she also works a lot. He had a short lesson with her on Saturday and I asked her to come to church. We also committed Alberto to get to church ON TIME because he has not been able to partake of the sacrament yet. He was like 'I'll try...' so I had my doubts, but on Sunday, he walked through the door during the opening hymn....WITH HIS MOM! I was so happy. She loved the church and I really hope that we can find time to teach her. She will be a great member! :)

After church, we went to visit a menos activo named Margarita. We had never met her but her mother in law goes to church regularly so we asked her to take us to visit her. We walked into her house and she was sitting on her bed watching TV. When she saw us, I could see anger or hate in her eyes. I introduced us and asked if she had a few minutes so we could share a message. She said NO that she didn't have time for us and that we could MAYBE come back another day. I was like...awkward...what do I do?! I can't even explain the darkness in her eyes. She looked so miserable. So I asked if we could sing her a hymn before we left and she agreed. Before we sang the hymn (I Know that My Redeemer Lives), I bore my testimony that I know that Christ lives and that she is a Child of God. We sang the hymn and I wasn't expecting what happened next. First, she started arguing with her mother in law about personal I was thinking 'oh no! the spirit is going to run away!' But then my companion asked if she could say something and began to testify of the atonement and plan of salvation. That this hermana had a purpose to her life and that through the atonement, all these hard feelings she had in her heart could be taken away. Margarita began to cry! I was standing there amazed because just a few seconds before I was thinking 'We'd better get out of here before a family feud begins' and just a few moments later, she was in tears in my companions arms. The spirit was able to get through the wall of hurt feelings and anger she had put up and touched her heart. Something that she probably hasn't felt in years. I ended up talking to her for almost an hour while my companion did her dishes. She told me all about her family problems. I won't go into many details, but she has a really bad relationship with the family of her husband (who doesn't live with her anymore). She told me that she has anger and hate in her heart toward them. She is diabetic and has a lot of health problems. I read some scriptures with her and told her that she needed to come back to church in order to rid her heart of these feelings and that Heavenly Father was giving her another opportunity to change. That is WAS possible to feel happy again through the atonement of Christ. She told me that she misses going to church, that she loves the hymns and she knows that she is missing out of many blessing because of her disobedience.

This is an experience that I won't forget anytime soon. The change in this Hermana in just a few minutes was amazing. She had such a darkness about her when we walked in and because we were able to testify with the spirit, her heart was softened and was a different person. She apologized for being rude and had a desire to change. 

I know that the spirit is the real teacher in this companionship. The changes that I have been privileged to see in the lives of my converts, investigators, and less actives are miracles. These things don't just happen because I can speak beautiful, flattering words, they happen because the spirit testifies to them of the things they need to do to change. Their hearts of being softened and their desires and being changed to be more aligned with the will of the Lord. 

I am so grateful to be here on the mission. I am sure my email last week sounded really sad, and there are many days like that, but then we have moments like a baptism of someone you have come to love so much, or a dear sister who just needed to hear that someone loves her and that she is needed here makes it all worth it. 

Also, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, MEXICO!! I am wearing an embroidered shirt today - which I am obessed with. I am going to buy a ton before I come home and start a trend in the US. VIVA MEXICO!

I love you all!!!!!!!! Thanks for the love and support always!

Hermana Durham

Monday, September 8, 2014

Viva Mexico

Hello family,

I would first just like to say that I haven't cried very much in the last few months. But the dam broke yesterday and there was a flood. I don't know what got into me, but I am going to try to explain so that you can get a little taste of what missionary work is like. 

We have a goal as a mission to baptize every week. Something I haven't been able to accomplish so far in my mission but something that I really want to do. In order to be able to baptize every week, we should be finding at least 2 new people to teach every day. This week, it felt like everyone was rejecting us. I would get home every night so tired because all of our appointments would fall through and so we would be walking around contacting (not my favorite thing to do) people on the streets. It felt like NO ONE wanted to talk to us. I love the excuses 'well, sometimes I leave my house so I wouldn't know when you could come' Oh sometimes? But not when can we come by? or 'I'm NEVER home' but they are sitting outside of their house everytime we pass by. That night my district leader decided to share a scripture with me and remind me that the Lord is content with what we are doing but He isn't satisfied with it. We need to be doing more. I started to cry (silently, of course) and thought, 'what can I do more?' There is always more, I know, but after a long day of contacting and rejection, you just want to sleep. 

Sunday is probably the most stressful day for a missionary. You are stressed because you don't know if your investigators are going to show up and you are stressed when they show up because you aren't sure if they will feel comfortable, if someone will say something wrong, etc. In the morning, we passed by for some of our investigators that told us they would come to church with us. The first one we passed by for sent her niece out to tell us that she went to the hospital because she was sick. The funny thing was that I could see through the crack in the door and our investigator walked passed her open window. So I was feeling really good going to the next investigator, especially after we knocked 10 times and nobody was home. We passed by for one more, Alberto, who has come to church 3 times but is always late and misses the sacrament. We wanted to make sure he would get there on time but he was like...I think I will get there at 1. No Hermano, church starts at 12! We've explained before the importance of the sacrament but I guess he still doesn't understand. 

So empty handed, we headed to the church (by the way, it's not easy to pass by for these's far from the church and we have to take 2 buses to get there). Then, Satan started moving in and my head was swimming with doubts. It's not possible to baptize every week! Why is this so hard? Is this even worth it? It must be my fault! I am not doing enough? Or maybe I care too much! Is the Lord really preparing people to accept the gospel? 

The sacrament meeting started and we had zero people in the chapel. During the sacrament song I lost it and started crying. And once I start it is hard to stop. I had all these conflicting feelings...all of these doubts but then this CERTAINTY that the sacred ordinance that I was partaking of was real. That Christ is my Savior and that this is His church!  So of course I cried more. And it wasn't the silent tears that stream gracefully down your was the trying not to make heaving noises, sobbing, blochy red neck, type of cry. Luckily I had my hanky with me (THANKS MOM). Then it was testimony meeting and the testimonies in this ward are always so good, so suffice it to say, I was a mess. 

Half way through the meeting, we looked back and saw Alberto sitting there. He came. Late, but he came. We also had another investigator show up during the second hour.

I don't tell you this to make you sad for me, because this is just how it is. But I think I cried so much because these people don't get it. They don't understand that this gospel WILL change their lives, but ONLY if they put forth their part. I feel like I am doing my part, but there has to be more that I can do. I don't know everything and I have doubts at times, but I have a testimony that this is the only true church on the face of the earth. That is why I left my family, job, car, comfortable bed, functioning shower with warm water, alone time, friends, etc., to come here. Because I want to help people feel the hope that only the gospel of Jesus Christ brings. 

Now, this week wasn't all rejection, sad, gloom and doom. We always have little miracles that happen and we have some great people we are teaching. The members are really good to us and try to help us as best they can. We found several people to teach this week, but it is impossible for them to progress without going to church. But I will tell you, hearing the conversion stories of the members who are faithful always give me hope and push me to keep going. I am grateful to be here and I am learning SO much. This was probably the best decision I made in my life so far. I will never regret coming on the mission. 

Also, in one week, we will celebrate Independence Day here in Mexico. I am excited because it is a p-day so maybe we will get to hear the cry ¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡VIVA MEXICO!!!! in the zocalo! Well shall see. 

I love you all. I am grateful for another week here. Also, less than a month until conference! Don't worry, I made a countdown. We are kind of excited. 

Love you!!!

Hermana Durham

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hola Again

Hello Family,

The last week in the change...and I am staying here with Hna. Ward, like I predicted. We have only been here and month...sometimes it feels like more. We are working really hard to try and find people who are prepared for the gospel and have many investigators that are progressing and changing their lives. 

We visited the Pintor Family this week and Tomas told us a story that made me so happy. Before he got baptized, he drank coffee (like pretty much everyone here) but he gave it up with no problems. He now drinks apple or lemon tea. He said that at work, all of his coworkers drink coffee and he used to drink with them, too. One day, they made a cup for him and said 'here is your coffee, Tomas!' He respectfully declined and showed them his tea. He told them that he doesn't drink coffee anymore. Of course they asked him why and he said 'Because I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! I am a Mormon now!' He used the correct name of the church and everything!!! They were all suprised and made a few jokes, but he happily drank his tea and went on with his business. He said one of his coworkers is going through a hard time, so she likes to come and talk to him because she feels something different about him. He said he talks to her about the church! I almost cried when he told me this because he is truly becoming converted. He is taking his baptismal covenant seriously and being a witness of Christ in all times and in all places. I told him to keep sharing the gospel and when his friends at work are ready, we would love to meet them!

My area is huge...and this isn't an exaggeration. We have a Family Group that meets about 45 minutes away because it's really far to come to the chapel each week and there are enough of them up there to have a sacrament meeting. We went to sacrament meeting with them for the first time since getting here and gave talks. There were about 16 of us in total. I really wish we could work up in that area more because I want to help this area grow, but it's nearly impossible because it is super far, costs a lot of money, and most of the members that live there work during the week so they aren't home to accompany us. It's like in the mountains so it is a little hard to find houses and it would be more safe with members. But I am hoping we can get some references from the members that live up there so we can start to get to know the area more. 

Yesterday during the 3 hour of church we watched a recording of a talk given by Elder Bednar at BYU about the use of technology in the church and missionary work. I really wish I had more access to the awesome stuff the church publishes on and It was really interesting to see all the cool things the church is doing. He said that this is just a drop of what is to come and that he expects us as members to utilize social media to help spread the gospel. Well, I can't do that much on the mission here, but I would like to remind you all that the social media outlets we have can be used for good...and should be used for good. Just somethings to remember.

We ate with the Patriarch and his wife twice this last week and it was so fun talking to him. He was a missionary in Cuernavaca over 50 years ago and is in the same ward as many of his converts! He met his wife on his mission and returned to marry her after he got home. So crazy. Anyway, it was fun talking to him and hearing his mission stories and how much the church has grown since that time. I am grateful to be a part of the growth of the church here in this part of the world!

I love you all. I have a testimony that this church is true. So so true. It changes the lives of those who live it. I am grateful to have a prophet today that leads and guides the church under the direction of Jesus Christ. I am SO EXCITED for conference in a month. It's one of the best times of the year for missionaries!

Love you all! Have a fantastic week!

Hermana Durham

Part of my district and some random Hermano from the other ward. My district leader got transferred (Elder Estrada) and it is sad because he is probably one of the most spiritual missionaries I have ever met. I will miss his district meetings!