Monday, November 24, 2014

Another Change in Pradera

Nobody fear...I'm still in Pradera. I have a feeling I am going to die here. But I am excited that I get to spend Christmas and my birthday here because the members love giving us cake!

This week was good but we had some disappointments, too. Welcome to the mission.

On Tuesday, we had a really good district meeting. Before, we were assigned to study something to help prepare us for the meeting and Hna. Ward and I decided that we needed to start praying for and expecting more miracles. Our District Leader was going of the valiant ones! It was his last meeting and it was super powerful. We all were super pumped when we left the church and ready to work. We decided to put into practice what he was teaching and use inspired questions in all of our contacts in the street instead of saying the same things over and over again. We also were expecting to see miracles this day, especially with our dear investigator, Lucy.

We ended up finding 3 people who accepted a baptismal date in the street! Seriously, If someone came up to me in the street and asked me to be baptized in their church, I would think they were crazy. But occasionally we feel inspired to ask people and they accept! That was one miracle of the day.

We had been praying to be able to find Lucy because her baptismal date was on Saturday and we still weren't sure if she wanted to be baptized. We got the feeling that she didn't but we wanted to talk to her. She had a store next to her house and she is either working or out running errands so it is hard to get in a good lesson with her. We prayed really hard to find her in her house and when we went to find her...she wasn't there. We talked to her husband who is catholic and doesn't have any interest in the church and he told us that she doesn't want to get baptized. I felt so sad but as we walked out of the store, Lucy was coming around the corner with some groceries. We helped her in the house and she had some time to talk. We taught her about the importance of baptism and how it is a covenant with God and not us. We talked about the blessings we received and really had a good lesson with her. In the end she said that she still doesn't feel the need to be baptized yet. She said she is missing the desire. She knows the church is true but still doesn't want to be baptized. We asked her if we could fast with her that day so that she could receive an answer from God if she should be baptized. She said that would be fine and we planned on going back later that night to start the fast because she hadn't eaten anything that day.

We went back at 7 that night and started the fast. I had such faith that she would receive her answer. The next day we fasted so we went to the food (we usually eat at 3pm) with Tupperware to bring it back to our house since we couldn't eat it. It was the hottest day of the week, too. I was super thristy but the whole time I just kept thinking, 'This is for Lucy! She is going to get baptized on Saturday!' We went to her house at 7 the next day and she told us that she felt really good. We had assigned her a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon, too. She read it and said that she liked it a lot. I was so happy. Then we broke our fast and we asked her how she felt about her baptism on Saturday. She looked at us and said that she still didn't feel the desire or need to get baptized. That she wants to feel more prepared. We asked her the baptismal interview questions and she passed them all. She told us that she knows this is the true church and she believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet and everything! I was so sad. So so so sad. And thirsty. But I didn't cry and I didn't feel defeated because I knew that we had done everything in our power to help her and it just isn't her time. She isn't ready. She said that she will still come to church and that one day she will be ready to be baptized. We will still visit her, too. It made me sad because she obviously doesn't understand how important baptism is, but we literally explained everything and tried so hard. I know that we planted the seeds, though. I know that she will be a member one day. Oh Lucy, you broke my heart. So we headed home after that and I bought a tub of ice cream to eat away my sorrows.

On Thursday we couldn't leave our house because it was 20 de Noviembre and apparently there were manifestations and such in all of Mexico so we had to stay in the house all day long. The lady that was supposed to give us food was like 'Oh I am so sorry! That is too bad' and didn't offer to bring us anything! So we ordered subway and had it delivered to our house! It was kind of boring but I got caught up in my journal!

On Friday, we had a Noche de Hogar (FHE) with the ward and it was super fun. We played a game and then everyone went around and introduced themselves and told us why they know the church is true. The Pintor Family was there and Edgar said something that made me so happy. He said that before the sisters showed up at their house, he felt like he was missing something in his life. He was looking for it but didn't know where to find what he was looking for or what exactly he wanted. When we taught him, he knew that this was exactly what he needed and has changed so much and now he is so happy!

On Saturday, our stake had a really awesome activity. Since we had so many missionaries here, they did a missionary day with all the youth. Each of them got a fake missionary tag and they were assigned a companionship and people (menos activos) to visit. President Kusch was there and gave a little training. Hna. Ward and I were assigned two young women from a different ward in the stake. We were giving 5 people to go find in an area we didn't know! haha...luckily I know how to open an area! The girls were super cute and helped us contact everyone on the street. We went to every house that we had and the first 4 addresses either didn't exist or the people didn't live there anymore. We had one more to go and actually found a less active family! The man wouldn't let us in because he was heading to work, but we talked to him about going to church, reading his scriptures and saying his prayers. He said that he wants to go to church but his wife doesn't. We had a good chat with him in the street and then headed back. The girls were so happy that we were able to find someone and that hopefully our testimonies help him come back to church. After, we had a testimony meeting and it was so powerful. Almost every youth that got up said that they wanted to go on a mission now because of this experience, that it was super hard and they didn't find hardly anyone, but that they were able to talk to people in the street and feel the spirit! This little 12 year old who was super short got up and said 'Today I learned that size doesn't matter!' He started crying and said that he knows the church is true and wants to be a missionary one day. It was so adorable.

Later that night, we stopped by to visit Rosario. It was her little boy's birthday (Diego). He turned 2. She had mentioned that they probably wouldn't do anything since there isn't much money so Hna. Ward and I bought a little hostess cupcake and a fake candle that I made from paper! Haha. It was super cute. I love that little family. We taught the plan of salvation and Rosario loved it. She is so great. She came to church by herself yesterday with her two little boys and loved it again.

Yesterday we didn't receive changes like I mentioned in the beginning. I wasn't that shocked since...I mean, there isn't really any places to put us. It's always nice to have changes in the mission, but I know that this is where I need to be for now.

We met up with Hna. Hellstern today in the center with her new Companion, Hna. Peterson (from my generation). We ate lunch and we are going to hang out in the zocalo for a little while.

Well, like you just read, this week was full of highs and lows. It is so hard to see people you love not accept the thing that will make them the happiest in their life. Maybe I am understanding a little bit about what it's like to be a parent. You teach your kids the best you can and hope they make the right choices. Sometimes they do sometimes they don't, but you still love them anyway. I know that the efforts I make every day to get up and work aren't going to waste. We are planting seeds and finding those that are already prepared.

I love you all and hope you enjoy THANKSGIVING! I will miss the turkey and potatoes. I am sure I will eat some tacos to celebrate! haha. And mom, they don't celebrate it here, it's an American Holiday! haha.

Love you all. Don't forget that my birthday is coming up and any cards or packages are welcome. :)


Hermana Durham

Monday, November 17, 2014

Goodbye Guerrero

Hello family!

I can't believe that we are half way through November. Where is the time going? This week...

Hna. Ward and I found a new investigator who is a doll. Her name is Rosario and we contacted her and her two kids in the street last week. She told us that we could come by and we did on Tuesday. We were walking up the street towards her house and she was waiting in the doorway for us! Nobody does fact, most people hide! haha. Anyway, we went in and talked for a little bit. She said that 11 years ago she talked to missionaries from our church but lost contact with them when she moved to a different state. We were excited to hear that! She accepted a baptismal date and the invitation to come to church so easily. She was super excited to come to church and in the closing prayer, she thanked Heavenly Father because we invited her to come with us! She is so sweet and her little boys are also totally adorable. One is almost 8 years old and is super smart and really sociable.

We got a call on Friday from one of the elders in our district that we needed to be in the stake center as soon as possible and that he was our new District Leader. What? We were super confused but we headed down to the stake center. When we got there, we were told that the mission has officially closed the state of Guerrero and that the missionaries who were 'visiting' are now permanent in these areas. So now our ward officially has 4 sets of missionaries! We were told that the bishop needs to change the boundaries of our areas as soon as possible. I was really sad to hear this because I love Iguala and I was hoping to serve in other parts in Guerrero before I end my mission. I still have 9 more months, so there is hope that it will reopen before then, but who knows! It is really sad, but there is a reason for all of this. The first thing I thought was that Morelos is going to have a temple one day! And I will be able to say that I helped grow the church here in Cuernavaca!

We had Stake Conference Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday session was all about self-reliance (I think that is how you say it in English. It is autosuficiencia en espanol) Anyway, it was really good and I liked all the talks. On Sunday, we passed by for Rosario and she was, again, waiting in the doorway for us ready to go at 9 am. This never happens, people. It was awesome. The conference was a satellite transmission from Salt Lake just for Mexico City, Cuernavaca and Pachuca. Guess who spoke, mom? Your friend Linda Reeves...and she gave her talk in SPANISH!! Haha. It was awesome. Also, Elder Anderson from the 12 spoke and he also gave his talk in Spanish. His accent is French, though. It was a really great conference, although half the time I was trying to entertain Rosario's little boy! We played tic tac toe and the dot game. I wanted her to be able to pay attention. Elder Anderson talked about sacrifice and how sacrifice means to give up something good for something better. I loved that definition.

Ok, so after conference a bunch of emotional things happened. Haha. The bishop told us our new areas in the ward boundaries. We were told that we are going to work only in Monte Casino and the part very north where the Casa de Oracion/groupo familiar is. Which means that we no longer have any of our investigators and we can't visit the Pintor Family. I started to cry when I heard this. Then I pulled myself together a little because Tomas and Edgar received the Melchizedek priesthood!!! We were able to come into the room with them. I loved what the stake president did, he ordained Tomas first and then told him that he would have the opportunity to ordain his son! Tomas was like 'I don't know how!' and the stake president said, 'in this church, we learn by doing. I will tell you what to say in the beginning and then you can give your son a blessing.' And he did it so beautifully! Like a pro, seriously. I started crying again because I was already emotional and then I started thinking about how I wouldn't be able to visit them anymore and then I was just feeling grateful that I have had the blessing of knowing and helping this family receive the many blessings of the gospel. And now we have two more worthy priesthood holders on the earth that are ready and willing to serve in any way. wow. We didn't say anything to them at that moment because we were going to visit them later. And plus we had some doubts about the area.

We called president later and told him about the new area we were given because it is really far from where we live and it gets dark super like 6pm. We needed to know what our schedule during the day would be like and what we could do about food during the day because all the 5 members that live up there work during the week. President told us that the bishop needs to change the divisions again because we aren't allowed to work only up there since it isn't an official branch or ward and plus it is kind of not super safe once it gets dark. We would have to leave our area at like 5 pm! So he called the stake president and then called us back and said that the bishop will be making changes to the area again. We still don't know what our area is going to be, yet. The bishop hasn't called so we are just working like normal in the area that we have always had and we will see once he lets us know. I am hoping that he keeps us in the part where all of our investigators are!

Today, Helen (wife of Edgar), cut my hair...well, trimmed it. She just took off the dead ends...but she probably should have cut more because my hair is a little dead. She did exactly what I asked and I am glad because I was scared to get it cut here but I needed to! She straightened it, too!! I haven't straightened my hair in over 9 months! It is super long and blond and I look weird! I will send you a picture. I love Helen, she is so wonderful and she didn't charge us! Also, today is some kind of holiday here (who knows what) so we had to search high and low to find a ciber to write! Silly Mexico.

I hope you are all doing well! I am grateful to be here in the mission. I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ and I am blessed to be His representative in this area. I really love Mexico and know that there are many blessings in store for the Mexican people as long as they are obedient to the commandments of the Lord. That really is the secret to a happy life...obedience to the commandments. I am so grateful to know that plan of salvation. That I can be with my family forever. I love you, Family. Each and every one of you! I am one lucky Hermana.

Have a great week!!!

Hermana Durham

You can tell that I have been crying in this pic! Right after they were ordained to the office of an Elder and given the priesthood!

Family Guarneros. They gave us food yesterday and are an awesome couple. They remind me of Mom and Pop!

Me with my straight hair.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Greco got baptized and we ate LOTS of cake

Hello Family,

This was a happy week! My buddy Greco finally got baptized and it was beautiful.

I hit 9 months this week!!! It was cool that I got to celebrate it with my MTC companion, Hna. Chambers. We took pregnancy pictures since you have a baby in 9 months. I probably shouldn't show anyone these pictures because they are hideous, but I think I'll send one just for fun! haha. I am half way there!! Can you believe that time has gone by so fast! In less than a year, I will be done. :( I don't really want to think about that, though!

On Thursday Greco had his interview with the District Leader and after our DL was like 'He basically recited the first vision and the sacrament prayers to me!' haha. That is Greco for you. He is such a smart kid. When we got there, he had his arm in a sling! He fell and broke his elbow the day before and was really sad because he thought he wouldn't be able to get baptized with his cast. I told him that I got baptized with a cast, too! I showed him the picture I have of me and Pop and you can see the white sock that mom put over it. I told him that he can just put a bag over the top and all will be fine! He was happy to hear that!

Friday was Multi-Zone conference and it was sooo fun! We met with another zone and plus all the missionaries from Guerrero that are in those zones so there were close to 90 missionaries! Hna. Garcia and Hna. Martinec were both there! All three of us reunited after 7 months! I also got to see a bunch of other friends. We did a skit about the 3 little pigs but it was a spin off. The skit is in English and all of the Latin missionaries who are learning are the voices, and the English speakers are the actors. I was selected as Sister Pig 4...the skit wasn't very funny so we spiced it up and the 'big bad wolf' (my comp Hna. Ward) was the big bad ELDER WOLF in the beginning. In the end of the skit, I went to Utah where I met missionaries and the part we added in was that Elder Wolf returns home from the mission and we get married! haha. That probably makes no sense but it was funny.

The skits were fun, but the best part was the powerful instruction we received from President Kusch. I am so grateful for him. He truly is an inspired man. I left the conference with a new determination to improve. I really want to be a powerful teacher, and the only way I can do that is by having the spirit. We talked about using inspired questions and allowing the spirit to really teach the lesson. At the end, he said something that really impacted me. He said some like 'there are 90 missionaries here today. That is 90 active members of the church. One day you will be married and have kids. That means 90 families in the church. Then imagine not only your kids, but your grandkids and great-grandkids as active members of the church. Your mission is not only for the next 2 years or 18 months, but it is for your entire lives.' It really impacted me. This mission isn't just for 18 months, but I am becoming the person that I really need to become so that I can help build the Lord's kingdom here on the earth.

We had the baptism for Greco on Saturday! It was so beautiful. Greco and his grandma Elohina wrote a 'song' kind of thing for the baptism and wanted me to sing it but I made them sing it with me. It was a little strange but cute at the same time. I also sang a song 'In the Hallow of Thy Hand' but in Spanish and...not going to lie, it was pretty good. haha. Greco's grandpa baptized him and it was super nice. Both of his parents were there and his grandma on his dad's side and his aunt who aren't members. I was so happy that his parents were there to support him. He is such a special kid. I can just imagine him on his mission in 10 years.

Elohina and her husband brought a TON of food so we celebrated the baptism and also the birthday of Hna. Ward and Elohina (it was the same day -- 9 Nov). They had 3 different cakes! haha.

Sunday was Hna. Ward's birthday. She had a really good day. The Young Women in the ward sang to her and brought her a cake! After church, we ate with Lucy, our investigator and ate a lot of yummy food and cake. After, we went with the familia Pintor and ate MORE cake. I felt like I was going to die I was so full. Then, we stopped by another member’s house and she had made us pancakes but we took them to go because he had no more room! It was a happy day.

When we were with the Pintors, they told us that they are going to go to the temple with the ward this month to do baptisms for the dead! They are taking a family history class and are going to take family names. That made me so happy!!!! Fabiola told us that she wishes they would have found the gospel earlier so that they didn't have to pass through so many trials, but I explained that those trials helped prepare them to accept the gospel at this time. That the Lord knows everything and this was the best time for them. Hno. Tomas made us promise that we would see each other again some day...and not just in the eternities! haha. Also, Edgar got a calling yesterday! He is the secretary in the Young Men's Presidency! I was so excited to hear that! He is nervous but excited. Oh I just love that family so much. I know they are definitely one of the reasons that I needed to go on a mission.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you all so much. There was one point in this week, I was just walking in the street and thought to myself 'I just love the gospel soo much!' and I do. It really is such a huge blessing in my life. I am grateful to be able to share it with others as a missionary. I know that through the gospel, we can become better. I also know that we won't be perfect here in this life, but as we strive for perfection, the Lord in His grace will make up the difference.

I love you all sooo much. Thanks for all you do for me. Oh...I will be calling home in less than 2 months!! Get excited!


Hermana Durham