Monday, January 26, 2015

I'm everything I am because you loved me...

Random title, but Celine Dion is playing in the ciber and I'm loving it.

Hello everyone!!

This week was full of a bunch of weird people. I swear, I heard more stories about people seeing Jesus or God. One man told us that we were in the 3rd dimension and a whole bunch of other stuff that I didn't really understand. When we said the prayer, he sat with his legs crossed and his hands in the 'ohmmm' position and I was really confused. When we ended the lesson, he said goodbye by putting his hands like he was going to pray and bowed Asian people do, you know? It was so hard not to laugh. I swear, there are so many interesting people here.

I got the package with the shirts in it and I LOVE my Durham shirt so much. We are going to Cuernavaca this week for a follow up training with my companion so I am hoping the package that you sent will be there. If not, I'll just have to wait a few more weeks.

This week was full of trying to find people. We had 5 people in church yesterday, but we are trying to find more people who want to progress and become converted to the gospel. Our ward has had so many baptisms in the last few years that you would think we would need to split the ward, but there are SO MANY inactive members. It makes me sad to think about that, and Hna. Garcia and I are trying to reach out to the menos activos and inactive members and also trying to find people that are truly ready to accept the gospel.

The Primary had a missionary activity on Saturday and we got to go. It was so fun because they gave them little nametags and pamphlets and pass along cards and we went out to proselyte (is that how you spell it?) to people in the street. I was so impressed by how courageous these little kids were. They went up to random strangers and knocked on doors and said 'Hi, I am Danny and we want to invite you to go to church with us this Sunday!' It was adorable. They were all super excited to do it. I love doing activities like this because it gets the kids and youth excited to go on missions at an early age, and I feel like little kids are so much more convincing than us old folks. haha.

Hna. Garcia and I went out with the bishop to visit a few people. The bishop is so awesome. I think I have mentioned this but he has been the bishop for 13 years...half of his membership in the church has been as bishop. And everyone knows him and knows that he is a member of the church. We were walking down the street and he introduced us to a whole bunch of people. One lady reached out to us and was so excited to see him and told us that she wants us to visit her! Alright! The power of members. This is something that I want to do when I get home. Be a better member missionary. Talk to everyone about the church. Why not? Just because I won't have my tag, doesn't mean that I can't do it.

There is a recent convert in our ward named Hno. Jose and he is about 60 years old. He can't walk very well because of his knees and was an alcoholic and smoked a bunch when he met the missionaries. He also lives very high up in the hill. He takes a taxi every Sunday to church. After he was baptized, he went to the temple visitor center in Mexico and literally bought the whole store. He has the pamphlets for Faith in God and Personal Progress. I honestly think he said 'give me one of everything...and maybe two of a few things, too.' He is so nice and always tells us that the missionaries who found him are like angels to him because they saved him. We went to visit him the other day and he gave us pictures of Jesus and of the temple that he bought with dedications on the back that say, 'This is so that you remember your time here in Iguala. With love, Hno. Jose. Gracias por su trabajo'. It was so cute. This is the kind of people we are looking for!

We are still working with David. I think yesterday we hit a break through. We decided that we needed to have lessons that were more interactive. I have a ghetto jenga set that I bought here so we took it and asked him questions and if he got the question wrong, he had to take a piece out. He loved it because he loved to compete and win. After the lesson, we played a few rounds of jenga with him and he had a blast. His mom told us that she has seen a lot of progress in him since we got here. He is saying his prayers on his own and he has stayed for all 3 hours of church the last two weeks. He is a good little kid, still very stubborn but I think little by little, we are breaking through. Also, with our game yesterday, we verified that he really has been listening to us and has learned correctly the things that we taught!

Yesterday after church, all of the citas we had scheduled fell through. We decided to go visit a few menos activos and on the way, contact people. I was feeling really irritated because the people we had contacted just didn't understand what we were saying or didn't want to listen to us. Plus we had been walking and standing for a long time since all the appointments weren't home and my feet and back were hurting and I was really tired. I started complaining in my head thinking that no one in this area wants to talk to us, no one is prepared, blah blah blah. Just letting Satan bring me down a little more. I thought, come on, Heavenly Father, help us out. And I looked up and saw a family outside their house. We went over and started talking to them. The dad went inside (typical) but the lady was so nice and she invited us to sit down, which was a blessing, and actually listened to us. It was nice to be able to share a little message with her. We set an appointment to visit her again and invited her to church with us next week. Who knows if she is an escojida or not...well, have to wait and see, but it was a little tender mercy of the Lord. We were able to rest for a minute and fulfill our purpose by inviting someone to come unto Christ. I made sure to say a little prayer and thank Him for putting someone in our path who at least invited us to sit and listened for a few minutes to the message that we had to give. Some days, I only think about what we didn't accomplish and forget about the little blessings that the Lord gives us to help us keep going. Trust me, it's not easy to walk up and down the steep hill every day, but with these little tender mercies that are put in our path, it makes it a little easier. I know that when we focus on and look for the little miracles during the day, the Lord will be more willing to give us more miracles and blessings. I am learning a lot about the power of gratitude and how it is an essential part of missionary work.

I am grateful for the chance I have to be here in the mission and in this area. I am grateful for my companion who is really great and helps me a lot. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it truly blesses and helps everyone who puts it into practice. I know that God lives and I know that He sent His son, Jesus Christ to atone for our sins. I know that He paid the price and that through repentance, we can become clean and free of guilt and sin. I love the gospel. I love the difficult days because they make the other days so much better.

I love you all. I hope that you have a great week!!!

Hermana Durham

P.S. Happy Birthday Mason! I can't believe that you are 14. What the heck??

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Want New Legs

And not because they are sore...because they actually aren't that sore. I am being eaten by bugs..and Mom, repellent doesn't work. The ladies in my ward have given me a few things to put on the bites, but I could hardly sleep last night because I was itching so bad. I am sure in a few weeks the bugs will get tired of me and it will calm down, but seriously.

This week was good. Hermana Garcia and I have been working really hard to find people to teach. I am so proud of my little hija. I tell everyone that she is training me because I am learning a lot from her. She is adjusting just fine and hasn't cried as much in the past week. She was close to crying yesterday because of this really rude person that I will explain later, though.

It's actually not that hot right now in Iguala...but climbing mountains makes you sweat a lot. I put my hair in a ponytail the other day and regretted it that night because my neck got super burned. I was debating whether or not to write that because Mom will probably be mad that I didn't put on sunscreen. Sorry, Mom! We went to go teach David, the 11 year old that I mentioned last week. His family is so great and they gave me a whole bunch of stuff to put on my neck. The dad scolded me and told me that I need to wear long sleeve shirts and a hat when I am outside, but I told him that I didn't want to because I will look like a TJ! My farmers tan is super awesome...I have 3 different colors now on my arm because the shirt that I had on was a little bit longer sleeve that normal. haha.

We had interviews with President Kusch this week. It was nice to chat with him. Last week in my letter to him, I told him how my least favorite activity is hiking and so when he saw me on Friday he said 'How's my little hiker doing?' hahaha Really great, President. Thanks. We talked about the changes that I have seen in myself during the last year. I told him that I have learned a lot about patience and that I am sure I still haven't quite learned my lesson since I was sent to open ANOTHER area, but I am a lot more calm about everything this time around. Plus this ward is so awesome. It is always nice to talk to President. I always leave feeling like he is truly concerned about my progress and loves me for what I am accomplishing, not only as a missionary, but as a person.

My companion and I had a cool experience the other day. We were contacting in the street after the food and stopped to talk to a family. It was a mom with 2 daughters. They said they had heard of the church, and the grandmother of the girls was a member and she recently passed away. We set a day to go visit them in their house and kept on our way. The next day, we went out with the bishop to contact a few references that he had for us and he brought us to the house of that family that we contacted. Apparently the little girl was really sick and the bishop ended up giving her a blessing at the request of one of her family members who knows about the church. It helped the little girl a lot and he decided to bring us to them to meet them! We felt like it wasn't a coincidence! We had an appointment to meet with them today and really hope that they will progress. They mentioned that they are going to the catholic church so they can do their first communion. Hopefully we can explain to them that it isn't necessary!

Let me tell you about the Hombre Malo (bad man) that we met yesterday. We went to the food with a family in the ward and they had invited some of their family members to eat, too. They had already eaten by the time we got there. One of them was like 'Are you missionaries? I didn't know they had girl missionaries, too!' Acting like he wasn't a member. I was just like, Yep...we are. I had a feeling he was a member so I didn't jump right away at the opportunity to contact him. In the end, we found out that he was a member and a returned missionary. Ok, so we were chatting and the subject of how much time we had on the mission came up. I said that I had 11 months and then he asked my companion who said 1 month. So then he started attacking her saying things like 'Do you still cry?' 'Do you dream about your family still?' 'Are you always tired?' 'Do you still cry?' like so rude. So I tried changing the subject but he kept on bullying her. Then he kept correcting my errors in Spanish which is fine and I appreciate it, but he did it in an annoying way. I was just thinking, I don't like this guy. Then I asked him what ward he was in and he said 'I THINK it's...and said the name of the ward' and I was like, 'Do you go to church?' and he was all like...not right now because I have to work. But I know the Lord understands. I then, very seriously, asked him 'Did you really serve a mission? Because if there is one thing that I have learned on my mission is that when we are obedient, the Lord blesses us.' And he was like. 'Look, the times are really hard right now, and I can't maintain my wife if I don't work on Sundays.' I told him, 'My parents never worked on Sundays and they had 8 KIDS and they were able to do it.' So many scriptures ran through my head and I so badly wanted to read a few choice words from the prophets (so nerdy, I know) but I just bore my testimony and we ended up leaving shortly after.

This might seem like a silly little story of an annoying old returned missionary, but the rest of the day and night as I couldn't sleep for my bug bites, I was pondering on this experience and I thought, 'How can someone who, for 2 years, preached the commandments, repentance, change, etc, come back home and not live what they preached? How is it possible?' If I have gained anything from my mission, it is an even stronger desire to be faithful and strong in what I believe. What does it matter if we have the nicest car or house if we aren't able to be with our family for eternity? I have seen so many miracles and blessings that come from keeping the commandments. I thought of how rude he was to my companion and how annoying he was in trying to make us feel uncomfortable that I thought, 'He obviously didn't understand what it was to be a representative of Jesus Christ because if he truly understood that we are His servants in this area, he would not have treated us the way he did.' It just made me sad to think that the 2 years he was in the mission, he wasn't able to learn such an important lesson or that it was so easy to forget since he has been home. Although I wanted to slug him for trying to make my companion cry, I made an even stronger resolve to be a better missionary. To do all I can to strengthen my testimony so that when I get home, I can live what I preached for 18 months of my life and help others remember that it IS WORTH EVERY sacrifice we have to make in order to receive not only the blessings in this life, but eternal life.

I know that this is the true church. I know that when we keep the commandments, we are blessed. It is an eternal law that cannot be changed. I know that I am a representative of Jesus Christ and that I have been called and set apart by the proper priesthood authority to preach the gospel here in this area. I know that I have been given the authority to do this great work and the power that comes from God to help me depend on my faithfulness and determination to do His will.

I love you all so much. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. I realized a few days ago that it is almost February. That means that I will have a year in the mission soon. That freaks me out a little bit, but I am happy to have this time left to learn and grow and help as many people as I can come to know the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Love you all!!

Hermana Durham

Hna Garcia completed 1 month!!!! haha.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mountains to Climb

Remember how I hate hiking. Like, I never even wanted to hike the Y when I was at BYU? Well, the Lord sure does have a sense of humor because my area is literally a mountain.

I survived my first week of training! haha. My companion is really sweet and cries a lot, just like me! She always apologizes when she cries and I just tell her that I cried my first 12 weeks so she doesn't need to worry. She is a really great missionary and is doing more than I did when I first got here! She is from the state of Mexico...not really from Mexico City. She is the oldest in her family and has 2 younger siblings. She has been a member all her life. She is a really great teacher and we are doing our best to find lots of people to teach.

Can I just tell you that I love this ward that I am in. It is the best. We got to Iguala Tuesday morning and the bishop came and took us to our apartment. I don't know how, but all of our luggage fit on top and inside of his little VW bug. He has been the bishop for like 12 Pop, count your blessings! haha. Tuesday was a crazy day. We had a meeting with our zone, we went shopping for food and contacting a little bit. The schedule here in Iguala is a little different, we have to be inside of our houses by dark which is like 6:30.

The first night we were there, the Stake President came by with his daughters because they are in our ward. One of his daughters just got home from the mission and the other is the primary president in the ward. They are twins and SOOO awesome. They offered to go out with us the next day to show us around and help us find investigators that were listening to the missionaries before. They have been so helpful.

Oh, let me tell you about our house. When we got here, we were living in a TINY, and I am not exaggerating, TINY little depressing box. It was a room with bunk beds, a tiny table and a bathroom. I wish I would have taken a picture of it, but it wasn't worth it. Plus, various members told us that we shouldn't live there because it's really solo and a lot of policemen live in the same place and that's not a good thing. We let our leaders and President Kusch know what they were saying about where we lived. We got a call the next day from our leaders and they said, 'Hermanas, go pack your stuff now. You have to move today.' Um...where? We were going to live with another pair of sisters in a different area which would have been super annoying because it is far away. Luckily, there is an Hermana in our ward that has basically a house on top of her house that she used to rent to the missionaries. We went by and asked her if we could rent from her again and she told us that it was fine with her. The Zone Leaders and the Stake President and his daughters came and helped us move. I don't know why the sisters ever moved away from there in the first place because it is so nice. The Hermana lets us use her WASHER! I have never had a washer in the mission and I am loving my life right now. It's the little things in life, you know? We have a ton of space to study and a big kitchen and everything. Plus, sometimes her grandkids come up and bring us tacos at night. :)

Many of the members have mentioned that they felt like a big piece was missing when the missionaries left and they feel like we are angels here in their ward. They are all so willing to help us and we have had more lessons with members here in this first week than I ever had in a week in my old area!

My companion and I have been able to find a few people to teach. Some of them were investigators of the sisters before and a few weren't. One is named David and he is 11 years old. His mom is a member of the church and super nice but David has doubts. He told us that he needs to 'meditate' about his baptismal date. I was like, what is there to mediate. You have gone to church for 4 years. haha. He is a cute kid and a little rebellious, but I like him. We are trying to gain his confidence so that he will trust us a little more. I just can't help but think of Easton when I am teaching him. A little stubborn but deep down a cute little teddy bear! :)

We went with a member to go find an old investigator on Saturday. This member lives up this huge hill. I have been using my Crocs that I brought for the last 7 months and the traction doesn't exist anymore and I thought I was going to die. Then she tells us that the investigator lives just up the hill from where she lives. Little did I know that 'just up the hill' meant that we were going to have to CLIMB UP A MOUNTAIN. Like seriously, there wasn't a real path. I don't know how these people live like this! But they are some of the nicest people I have met.

On Sunday morning, my companion and I were kneeling down to say the prayer so that we could leave to go to church and I got a call from the 2nd counselor in the bishopric asking me to give a talk...that day. I was, sure! I have no time to prepare anything. I grabbed a Liahona and hoped that it had something good inside of it, and we headed to the church building. Luckily it did have something good and I talked about how the Book of Mormon teaches us how to live in times of war and violence...fitting, right? I talked mostly about obedience and how it protects us in times of trouble. After I sat down, I realized that I gave a talk without writing the whole thing out and I am pretty sure everyone could understand me. I thought back 10 months ago when I first got to Mexico and I would have died if they had asked me to give a talk, even with a week’s notice. I have come a long way.

I am so grateful to be here in the mission. It is hard. But I am grateful for the experiences that I have been given to help me be stronger. I am grateful for the gospel that brings us hope and peace in a world that is crumbling. I know that there are people who are being prepared or who are already prepared to accept the gospel in this area and I am ready and excited to find them and help them become clean from sin and feel the love of their Savior in their lives.

Thank you for all of your love and support. I can't believe how fast time is flying by and I know that it is not going to slow down. Please have a safe and happy week and don't forget about your favorite Hermana in Mexico!

Hermana Durham

Monday, January 5, 2015


And so little time. I only have like an hour to write so let’s see how this goes.

Here is a quick rundown.

On Tuesday I received a call and they told me I had been called to train a new missionary!!!!!! I was so excited and felt very grateful for the opportunity. This week was so crazy, filled with so many emotions.

Bueno, first, I had in total 5 birthday cakes. 5, people. I am lucky to even get one at home...haha, just kidding. But seriously, everyone here is so great and I am really going to miss my area...because I am going to open an area, but I am not going to tell you where yet.

As you all know, we were preparing Rosario, Dante, and David to be baptized on the 3rd. We still had to teach a few things to David but he was so prepared. They all had their baptismal interviews on Wednesday and Thursday and the Elders told us that they were some of the most prepared people they have interviewed. I was so happy and excited!

On Friday I had a training meeting for all the trainers in the mission. There are 4 sisters training and I think 5 Elders. At the meeting, I found out who my companion was going to be and where I was going. My companion is Hermana Garcia from Mexico City and she looked so cute in her picture! And GUESS WHERE I AM GOING?!?!?!?!?! BACK TO IGUALA!!!!!!!!!!! I am not joking, when I saw that I almost cried. I am soooo excited. I will be going to a different area, but this area always has lots of baptisms and the sisters that were there before told me that they left a lot of prepared people so I am so excited to get to work! The only down side is that my area is pretty much a big hill. haha...but I got my wish! And I hope I will be getting my tan back, too! :) President Kusch gave the training and he was talking about attitude and hard work and shared with everyone that Hna. Ward and I were put in the area of the mission that had a reputation of never baptizing. For months, they didn't even have missionaries there. But we got there without knowing that before hand and with our attitudes, hard work, unity and love, we were able to really change the area around. I about cried with he said that. I know that I was called to that area for a reason. Although it was super hard and there were times where we didn't know what to do, we kept going and we were able to find really prepared people.

On Friday, we found a new investigator and we were teaching her and she offered us some Chile Rellenos de queso. I didn't really like it but I ate it anyway. Hermana Ward ate 4 because she really liked them. This may seem like an insignificant detail but just wait.

On Saturday, I was feeling kind of weird in the morning. I felt off balance and my stomach hurt, but not to the point where I needed to go to the bathroom. We went to a few citas and after we needed to go back to the church to start filling the baptismal font. We left the last appointment and I felt like all of my strength had left me and I could barely walk. We decided to take a taxi to the church building and we got there RIGHT in time. I ran into the bathroom and..excuse me but...exploded. I probably shouldn't write all these details but just so you know how bad it was, I was literally on the toilet and had to turn around immediately to throw up. I got some throw up in my hair and on my shoes but luckily nothing on my clothes. It was horrible. I took turns going diarrhea and throwing up a few times until I didn't think anything was left in me. I literally was laying on the ground wanting to die. We called the family that we were going to eat with and they came and picked us up and I also had to use their bathroom a few...a lot...of times. I asked for a blessing and slept on their couch for about 2 hours. While all this was happening, Hna. Ward also fell sick. She started throwing up and everything! She got a blessing and we were just laying on their couches without any energy.

Well, we had a baptism at 6! WE HAD to go...even though I really just wanted to go home and change clothes and go to bed. The family bought us gatorade and we got to the baptism late, but everyone was there waiting in their white jumpers and they were so happy to see us! The baptismal service was beautiful and there were a lot of people from the ward there. David wanted to sing a song with us and he chose 'There is Sunshine In My Soul Today'. It literally took every ounce of energy I had to stand and sing, but we did it for Super Dave! After the baptism we went home and collapsed in our beds. But not before we got the notice that Hna. Ward would also be getting changes but we didn't know to where!

We went to church in the morning and had to tell our wonderful investigators and recent converts that we would be leaving the next day. It was so hard. So very hard. You just come to love these people so much and being in one place for so long, you get used to seeing people all the time. But change is always good and I know the new sisters coming to the area, and they are awesome. After sacrament meeting, we went back home and slept and then went to eat with La Familia Pintor for the last time ( I didn't eat anything..). It was funny because we ate with them the first Sunday that we got to the area, but they weren't members then. They were all really sad to say goodbye to us and tears were shed, but I know that I will see them again someday. I love that family so much. We also visited Rosario and Dante and I made Dante promise me that he would go on a mission one day! We also stopped by to visit David. Man, David is seriously so awesome. He told us that before we met him, he thought his life had purpose but then we helped him realize that he wasn't going anywhere, and had no real purpose, but now he feels like he really has a purpose. He told us that he feels happier now than he had in a long time and he is so very grateful for us. I was crying, of course. I told him the best way to thank us...but not really us, but Heavenly Father, is by always going to church, always reading the scriptures and always saying his prayers. He told me that he would. Man I am going to miss them!

I spent the rest of the night and all of the morning packing all of my things. Ugh...worst thing ever. Hermana Ward and I had to both take our luggage and everything to the offices and it was a miracle that everything fit. We got there and then had a meeting with President about where everyone was going. Hna. Ward is going to my old area in Iguala. We will still be in the same zone! President talked to us about security and everything and don't worry, we will be well taken care of. He said that the members are very excited to have us back and that they have been working with the investigators! I am soooo excited to open this area.

The best part, I got to meet my new companion! Hna. Garcia is super cute. She told me she was so nervous to meet me! She doesn't speak any English so we are going to work together and I am going to teach her English and she is going to help me with my Spanish. We ate with President and Sister Kusch and we have another training at 6 pm tonight, so that is why I don't have a ton of time. We will get to our area tomorrow and start working! I am praying that we have light in the house because no one has lived there for 3 months...I am also hoping we don't have bugs. Um...pray for me. :)

I am sure that I am missing so many details from this week, but I think I got most of the important things! I am super excited to be able to train a new companion. She seems super sweet and excited to work. She told me 'be patient with me!' and it reminded me of when I went with Hna. Hernandez for the first time and told her the same thing. Don't worry, I will take good care of her. I haven't quite forgotten what it is like to be a new missionary. :)

I feel so blessed to be here. I really love this work. I love the people I have been able to help. Yesterday, I just felt 'This is why I had to wait until I was 25 to come on the mission. And it is totally worth it.' I will never regret my decision to come on the mission. I feel so blessed. I know that this is the church of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to have the chance to help people come unto Christ.

I love you all! I hope that you have a wonderful week.


Hermana Durham