Monday, February 23, 2015

So Many Hills

It seemed like we climbed SO MANY hills this week. It is getting a lot hotter here in Iguala and I don't know if I am going to survive this time around without an air conditioner in my house.
Last week for p-day my companion and I went to hang out with some of our friends from the ward. They are twins and around my same age (a little younger..haha what's new?) and one just recently came home from her mission. They are super nice and we made Oreo balls!!!!! And cheese cake. One of them is a chef and studied cooking and everything so she knows how to make awesome stuff, but she left us for a while to prepare the food we were going to eat and we forgot the cheese cake in the oven and it kind of exploded and then sunk down. We were with her sister who doesn't know how to cook and she wasn't very happy, but at least the Oreo balls turned out good! haha...and the cheese cake tasted good, it just didn't look very pretty! :) They also let me borrow a dress because we were going to have a conference this week and most of my clothes are just...well, not super cute anymore. We also played dress up with some of their traditional Mexican outfits and it was really fun!

We were going to have a conference on Thursday in Chilpancingo with a member of the area seventy in Mexico and sadly it was cancelled. :( We were so excited and had all of our clothes ready and our bags packed and at 8:30 the night before we were going to leave, they called us and told us that we weren't going to go. I actually didn't believe my district leader because sometimes Elders like to play jokes and tell us things that aren’t really true, so I told him I was going to call the zone leaders to verify haha..and well, it was true and we almost cried. I was so excited to go because we haven't had a general authority come to the mission since I have been here. It was cancelled because of some unrest in Chilpancingo. I heard yesterday that we aren't going to have it this week. We thought that it would just be postponed, but they told us that we aren't going to have it at all. :( BUT...we are going to get to watch MEET THE MORMONS tomorrow after our district meeting and that is the only thing that makes it a LITTLE better. I am super excited to see it. And in English! hooray!
Luis is progressing really well. He came to church yesterday and he just looked different...happier. It was his first day to go without smoking and he did it! We were talking to him after church was over and he said that he is determined to stop for good. We were telling him how happy we were for him and all of a sudden he started crying and turned away so we didn't see him. When he composed himself, he told us, 'I just feel...different. Better.' I looked at him and said, 'You look different. You look happier. It is because you are living the gospel.' And he smiled. Seriously, from the first day we met him, he looks and acts differently. He wants to invite his friends and family to church and is really working hard on keeping the commandments. I love seeing the changes that happen in the people we meet. The people who really keep their commitments and want to change. Once Luis decided he was going to change, it was amazing how fast the spirit started working in him. He understands what we are teaching better and he even shares what he learns when he reads the Book of Mormon. It is awesome!
Juan and Marta (the man that was really angry but then ended up crying in the lesson) are progressing well and came to church yesterday! They brought their grandkids and they loved it, too! Their daughter that goes to another ward accompanied them and told us that she is really grateful for us and is super happy that her parents are so interested.
Also...we saw a miracle yesterday! We have a less active member in the ward named Daniel. He is a mechanic and lives super close to us so we always pass by. His wife and kids are not members. He joined about 5 years ago and was super active, but in the last year he stopped going regularly because his wife had surgery and he told us that he feels lonely when he goes because...well, his wife isn't with him. We have been trying really hard with Fidela (his wife) and have visited her several times, but she hasn't ever gone to church. We passed by in the morning and her son told us that she was planning on coming but she was getting ready when we passed by. Well, a lot of times they tell us that but they end up not coming. We were standing at the door greeting everyone and we saw Daniel, Fidela and their 2 younger sons! I almost cried. I really hope she liked church. She told us that she did...but we are going to visit her this week and see. And we are going to pray really hard that she keeps coming!
Yesterday I had the phone on silent after church and forgot to change it back to sound, and when I looked at the phone we had 2 missed calls. I figured it was our district leader, but it was President Kusch! I freaked out. My companion asked if it was normal for President to call us and I was And if he calls, we should always answer right away. I called him back 2 times but he didn't answer. My companion was him again!!! I told her that it was fine and he would call back, but I was totally stressed out. He eventually called us back and I apologized profoundly for not answering the first time, and he just joked it off so I knew it wasn't anything serious. Haha. He just called to tell me that Cuernavaca Stake had their stake conference yesterday and one of the speakers was Hno. Tomas Pintor, and he said that he did a great job and talked about his conversion to the gospel. He just wanted to tell me that I have a great convert and that he is doing great. I definitely cried and told President that I would never forget that family and he said...They won't ever forget you, either. I thanked him for letting me know and ended the call. It made me so happy to know that my converts are enduring to the end and still joyfully living the gospel.
I really love the experiences that I am having here in the mission. I love the people we get to meet and the members who love and help us. I am grateful for my companion. She really is wonderful and we have fun together. People have started telling me that I am 'dying' which means my time in the mission is coming to the end. I never understood why other missionaries always freaked out when people would say that to them (when I was a younger missionary). I always awesome! They are almost done. But now I am starting to understand. You think it is never going to end and being a missionary is just the way of life now. But I am trying to enjoy every minute...even when we climb up so many hills and sweat so bad. It is all worth it.
I love you all!! Thanks for the love and support!!
Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana Durham
Oreo Balls!!
Just rock climbing in my big deal!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Week

Hello Dear Family,

This week was pretty good. A lot better than the few weeks before. Although I was sick the whole week with a cough and my companion got a cold. We survived!

I got my package and I love it! My new bag is super awesome! and I love the necklace and the candy and everything! I got it on Tuesday at our district meeting. We also got jerseys as a zone...they are kind of ugly. I don't know why they picked the soccer jersey from the team in Holland. I wanted a Mexican one! But whatever. haha. 

Let me tell you about Luis. I don't think I mentioned him before because he wasn't progressing very well, but we saw a miracle. Luis was the first person that accepted a baptismal date the first day we arrived here in Iguala. He is the nephew of a member in the ward. The problem with Luis is that he is a heavy smoker. He has smoked for 15 years and usually smokes 2 packs a day! We taught the word of wisdom to him and made plans to help him stop smoking but he wasn't really putting forth a big effort. He would tell us he was working on it but wasn't actually doing it. He has assisted church every Sunday that we have been here but would leave between classes to go smoke outside. Last Sunday, we went to visit him before church and taught him the Plan of Salvation and talked again about the word of wisdom. In the end he confessed that he really wasn't trying to stop smoking and felt guilty because we are so worried about him. We asked him to say the prayer and he said that he didn't feel worthy. We told him that is when he needs to pray the most and so he said the prayer and during the prayer he started crying. We set a goal for him to not leave church to smoke between classes and he agreed and complied! We were so happy that he was able to do it. We visited him on Tuesday and he was so excited to show us that he had only bought one pack of cigarettes since Sunday and still had 4 left! This was HUGE progress for him because he smokes 2 packs daily! He said that each day he was going to smoke at least 1 less and he had been doing it! He came to church yesterday and he looked so much happier. 

We also saw another miracle. We received a reference of the parents of a member in a different ward we few weeks ago. They are named Juan and Martha. We have gone by to visit them several times but Martha hasn't been home and we have only talked with Juan. He was also very short with us and kind of rude the first time we went. We had been praying to find them together because they have assisted church in the other ward with their daughter 3 times and felt like they will be able to progress and be baptized. All week we were praying to find them, and we went on Friday and the Lord answered our prayers. Martha was home alone but invited us in and we started talking with her. While we were getting to know her a little bit, Juan came home...but totally in a bad mood. He seemed really angry and told us that he didn't have time to talk to us and that he didn't feel good. His wife told him that this would make him feel better, but he left and went into the kitchen. We didn't know if he was going to come back so we decided to sing a hymn before we prayed and hoped he would come back. We sang “I am a Child of God” and before the song ended, he had come back into the room, sat down and was a little more relaxed! It was awesome. We had a member with us and she offered the prayer and at the end of the prayer, Juan was CRYING! They started telling us about some problems they are having in their family and so we taught about the Proclamation to the World: The Family. In the end, they accepted a date to be baptized and Juan was super nice to us. It was amazing. 

I am learning a very clear lesson here: The spirit is essential in teaching and the Lord is really preparing people to hear this message. Sometimes it is hard to find these people, but it is so worth the hard times when we find people who are truly ready to hear and accept this message. 

On Saturday, we had an activity with the young men and young women in the the one we did with the primary but this time we went and visited less active youth in the stake. We went with a few girls from my old ward and my new ward. It was fun visiting with them. The girls really appreciated the visits and the youth that went with us felt really happy. 

We called the sister with whom we were going to eat, and she had forgotten that she signed up and didn't have food in the house and was going to leave with her husband, so she took us to a hamburger place and paid for us to eat there. So Hna. Garcia and I had a romantic lunch for Valentine's Day with our boyfriends...Coca Cola. hahahaha. 

After that, we headed to the church to get ready for the baptism of David! The Elders also had a baptism and another member was going to be baptized. All went well and Hno. Bringas was able to baptize his grandson. David's mom was so happy and thanked us a million times. She said that he has passed through a ton of missionaries, but we were the most persistent and patient and she knows that we were supposed to be here to help her son and her dad. 

Now...I will share a few thoughts that I have been thinking about lately. I have been studying about commandments and obedience and the blessings that we receive from being members of this gospel...and how all of this is connected with patience and diligence. 

We live in a world where we can get anything in an instant. If we want something, we want it NOW and we don't want to wait. Yesterday, my companion and I were walking in the street and I commented that all of the self-help books, how to be happy and successful, how to lose weight fast, who to lose a guy in ten days...haha...we can learn all of these things by living the gospel, reading the scriptures, being obedient, being patient, keeping the commandments...everything can be fixed by living the gospel. But we can't expect to see all the results immediately! The gospel is not a diet, it is a life-style. It is a way of life that helps us be happy, healthy and successful in the long run. It is not the juice diet that helps us lose the weight for the wedding next week and then we gain it all back eating the cake. 

I love the gospel so much. Like...seriously. It is so perfect. I know that I am so imperfect and have so much to work on, but if we just live the gospel, listen to the prophets, read the scriptures and put our faith to the test, we will see so many blessings. Maybe not immediately, but I am totally, 100% convinced that our lives will improve and we will be able to reach our potential. We just need to be patient and diligent in our efforts. And be happy along the way. 

I love you all so much. Thanks for all your love and support. I can't believe that another change has past. Hna. Garcia and I are doing great. I really love her a lot and I am so grateful we are companions. We had divisions with the sister training leaders this week, and it made me even more grateful for my companion. hahaha. I missed her! We are learning so much together and it is so fun training her, although she is really training me. :) 

I know the church is true.

I love you all!!!

Hermana Durham 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bought a Skirt to Celebrate

First of all...HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my wonderful parents yesterday! I thought a lot about you and hope that you had a great day! I thought about you yesterday and then I started craving your lasagna. haha.

This week I OFFICIALLY hit one year. And no, I didn't burn any article of clothing (I actually bought a skirt today to celebrate haha). I actually spent the day in bed with strep throat. On Wednesday, we had a good day and worked hard. We went to ward council that night and during the meeting I started feeling sick. My throat and head started hurting really bad. The daughter of the stake president was in the meeting so I asked her if her dad was available to give me a blessing because he had brought her to the church and was waiting to take her home after. We left the meeting and he gave me a blessing. I don't know why but I started bawling. He kind of reminds me of Pop (seems like everyone reminds me of him these days...he even drives the same truck) and I think that is why I got I didn't feel good. After the blessing, he took us home and I got into bed. During the night, I woke up with a horrible sore throat. I usually get strep like once a year so I know how it's different than just a normal sore throat. I also had a temperature. In the morning, my companion and I went to the doctor, they gave me some medicine and then I went back home and slept pretty much the whole day. I was worried that I would be sick for a few days because that is usually what happens when I have strep, but Friday my throat didn't hurt at all. I was a little weak but we were able to work all day. I think it was a combo of the blessing, the medicine and my super hero missionary powers that I have. Right now, I feel like I am getting a little cough and my voice sounds like it is going, but I'm good for now!

On Saturday, we had a good day. We found a new investigator, Mayra and she is super great. She was an investigator before and her husband is an active member of the church. She recently had a baby and was living with her mom for about a month and a half because she had a c- section and her mom was helping taking care of her. We heard from some ward members that she had returned so we went to look for her and she was home with her cute little baby! She told us that she is ready and wants to be baptized but wanted to have all the lessons from the beginning just to review everything. I am so excited to work with her and help her progress. She is super prepared and told us that she wants to go to the temple so her family can be eternal. This doesn't happen every day, but when golden investigators just fall from the sky, you just feel really, but really grateful.

We worked the rest of the day and had our last appointment of the day with David. We were a little worried because he is supposed to be baptized in a week but the last time we taught him, he said that he still didn't know if Joseph Smith was a prophet. We decided that we needed to teach him the Restoration. We had challenged him to pray and read certain parts of the Book of Mormon but being an 11 year old kid, he doesn't usually complete his assignments. The lesson started off fine but he kept trying to distract us with questions that had nothing to do with the lesson. We were trying so hard to have the spirit but there came a point that he made a comment that just got me annoyed. I knew that he knew the church was true, but he just didn't want to admit it. I got real serious and looked him in the eyes and asked 'David, do you want to get baptized? Because if not, you can tell us and we will respect your decision.' He just sat there quietly and looked at me. Then my companion bore a powerful testimony and explained that we weren't here to waste his time and we weren't going to obligate him to be baptized but that we really care about him and his family and want them to be an eternal family. That through baptism, he would be able to reach his potential and be with his family forever, but that if he didn't want that, we would be sad but we would respect his decision. I then testified of what she had said and invited David to kneel with us and to pray to know if the church is true. He agreed and we knelt down and he said the prayer - very short and simple but sincere. After, we sat for a few seconds and we asked him how he felt. He said 'weird' and I asked why and he said 'because that was the first time I asked with real intent.' We then asked him if he received his answer and he said yes. We then asked him the same question as before, 'David, do you want to be baptized?' and he said quietly, 'Yes.' I asked, why? and he said 'because I want to be with my family forever.' I thought I was going to cry. The spirit was so strong and I learned a very important lesson in this moment. We had been trying to think of interactive and fun ways to teach him because he is a very intelligent kid. We had been successful in teaching him what he needed to know, but the spirit needed to testify to him that these things were true. Once he was touched by the spirit, his desire changed. He WANTED to be baptized because he not only understood, but FELT the importance of this covenant.

I honestly know that the most important part of teaching is having the spirit. If we don't have the spirit, we won't have success. The spirit is the real teacher. We are simply the way for the spirit to testify to others that this message is true. I know that the spirit testified to David and that is what helped him the most. I am excited for his baptism on Saturday!

Guess who I saw in church yesterday! Remember the Familia Hernandez Roman from Iguala? We baptized Danna and Alan and reactivated the family? They were all there and it made me so happy!! The only thing I want is that my converts stay active, and to see them all in the church together as a family made me very happy.

On Sunday, the Young Men's president gave a great talk about faith. He made the point that faith is not just believing in Christ, but doing ALL that we can and then relying on the Lord for the part that we can't do ourselves. I loved it because this is exactly what the members, investigators and everyone needs to understand. Faith is ESSENTIAL....because it is the thing that impulses us to ACT. It is not just a dormant belief, but the belief that brings us to do all that we can and after we do all that we can, the Lord makes up the difference.

I hope that we can all have more faith in doing all that is within our power to move the work of the Lord forward. I am grateful to be a missionary and member of this church. The more I learn and study of the gospel, the more grateful I feel for the truth that has been restored. I LOVE the church. I LOVE the gospel. It is perfect. It is Christ's church and gospel and I know that He loves us.

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


Hermana Durham

Happy 1 year to me...hahaha...I look pitiful but there was no way I was going to get ready just to take a picture.

Me and La Familia Hernandez Roman.

Monday, February 2, 2015

1 year? Seriously.

Hello my dear family,

To celebrate my 1 year mark, I decided to wash my snuggie...FYI I haven't washed it in a year. Let's just say the water was browner than normal in the washing machine. Hahahahaha

This week was...I'll be honest, a little hard. But good. It's always that way. What am I talking about.

On Monday night we were told that we would be heading to Cuernavaca for the follow up training for the new missionaries on Tuesday at 4. So we didn't really do much on Tuesday. We left after the food and made it to Cuernavaca at about 6pm. It was so fun to see everyone. We slept that night in the offices and the next day we had the training in the mission home. I love going to trainings with President and Sister Kusch. I always leave feeling a renewed desire to be a better missionary. It was also awesome because Hna. Kusch cooked for us and we ate lots of yummy food. They even had cookies from Costco! I almost cried. We were there pretty much the whole day and left that night to head back to Iguala. We had a good time and got back home ready to start working hard.

But then we had two days that were just rough. The area that I am in is rather humble. The people don't have a lot of money or education so it's a little difficult. A lot of people think that the people who are poor are more susceptible to accepting the gospel, which may be true, but a lot of times, they just want free hand outs. We went to visit this investigator that we met a few weeks ago. We had been meeting in the house of a member but on Thursday, she took us to her house (well, it's the house of her son). I am not even sure you could call it a house. It looked like a trash dumb. Her grandkids were there and were completely dirty. It was the saddest thing. Even more sad that I felt like I couldn't really help this lady. She started talking bad about a member of the church that she knows who is a faithful member of our ward which irritated me. We ended up asking her what she expected from our visits and she asked us if we could give her money. We explained that the church has a program to help us become self-reliant and that she could go to these classes to help develop talents or find a job, but that we couldn't just give her money. I just felt hopeless in this moment. I know that the gospel could change this woman's life, but not in the way she is thinking.

Then we headed to another cita and the man just can't seem to accept the Book of Mormon. I testified that this was the true church and he asked a question that stuck with me. 'If this is the true church, why doesn't everyone go?' I thought in my head, 'I ask myself that all the time!' We explained about agency and how we are able to choose and also how satan works hard to distract us from what is good. But honestly, after we left, I thought...BUT SERIOUSLY! Why doesn'´t everyone come to this church. It is seriously the best thing in the world. It changes lives. If people only would actually listen to what we are saying!!!!!

I was a little frustrated and on Friday, it all came flooding out. It literally felt like EVERYONE was rejected us. No one wanted to listen or they would listen and then tell us that they didn't want anything. That's fine. But there was this one lady that literally looked at me and said 'I don't like listening to people like you.' I told her 'Just remember, you are a daughter of God and He loves you' and we walked away. As I walked away, I just started crying. I haven't cried in a while, but I couldn't help it. I was so mad and sad and frustrated and exhuasted. I cried all the way up this really big hill. We went to visit a family and I thought...if they aren't home, I am going home and not leaving the house the rest of the week! (obviously that isn't true, but that is what I was thinking). But the family was there, I calmed down and remembered that we have to pass through times like these in order to appreciate the sweet times.

This probably sounds like a super depressing email. And it is because it was a hard week, but it was good because my companion and I realized that something we need to work on is helping the members gain personal conversions of the gospel. This ward is famous in the mission for baptizing a ton, but in the end, there isn't much retention. We feel like we need to reactivate families who have fallen away and really work with the members and I know that we will see miracles.

One of the biggest miracles we saw this week was that of the Familia Bringas. David is our investigator...he is 11 years old. His mom and grandma are active but his grandpa stopped going to church about 2 years ago because he was offended by some of the members. He reminds me SO MUCH of Pop...the way he looks, his facial expressions,his stubborness (hehe), his big heart, his wisdom. He is so nice to us and always treats us with so much respect but he just doesn't want to go to church (this part doesn't remind me of Pop...haha). Anyway, we talked to him because we would like him to baptize his grandson. He hasn't committed any sin, he just stopped going. We told him that he could do it but he would have to go to chuch and talk to the bishop. I told him that he reminded me so much of my pop and that he would be a great leader in the church, but he just needs to be a little more humble and not worry about the others because his personal salvation doesn't depend of them. IN the end, he promised us that he would go to church...and guess what? HE CAME! I wanted to cried. His daughter, Hna. Bringas (she is an angel) actually did cry. She was so happy and shocked that he came. He talked to the bishop and all was good. We are going to work really hard with him because we want him and his wife to go to the temple and be sealed!

They are going to remodel the church building where we attend and so we have to go to another one, where my old ward meets. I was able to see a bunch of members yesterday, and it was so fun to see them. they all were so excited to see me and told me that my spanish has improved a ton! woo hoo!

Yesterday, we had a special fireside with President and Sister Kusch here in Iguala. It was really good. They talked about missionary work, of course, and it was really great. I felt pumped to get out and work another week.

Although this week was hard, it was also really good. The Lord answered many prayers and we were able to grow as missionaries. I know that there will ALWAYS be days and weeks like these, but I also know that the Lord is pleased when we keep on working. When we keeping going even when we want to give up. I know that my companion and I can do so much good here and we are giving it our all. Keep praying for is certainly appreciated!

I love you all so much. Can you believe that in 6 months I will be home?!?!?! I sure can't. I feel like I still have an eternity left. haha. But I am excited and grateful for the time I have left!

I love you all. The church is true...don't forget that.


Hermana Durham