Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Letter from the President

March 30, 2015

Dear Durham Family,                                              

I am pleased to inform you that your daughter, Hermana Durham has recently been assigned to serve as a Sister Training Leader in the mission.
As a Sister Training Leader, she will be responsible for training and the physical and spiritual welfare of the missionaries entrusted to her care.  She will lead by example to help these sisters fulfill their purpose and responsibilities as servants of the Lord.

I am grateful for your daughter’s goodness and trust she will serve well in this important assignment.  Please know of my love for her.  Her influence will touch the lives of many for good.

I look forward to my association with her as a leader in our mission.


President Bruce C. Kusch
Mexico Cuernavaca Mission

Monday, March 30, 2015

Changey Changes

Hello my family. 

This week was so weird. And it all started with a dog bite. Don't worry, the dog didn't actually break through my skin, but on Tuesday my companions and I were walking down the street contacting this lady and all of a sudden this freaky dog jumps through the gate in his house and snaps at my hand. I naturally screamed, and I think I freaked out the lady we were contacting, but it's all good. It left a good bruise but I think I'll live. 

We were scheduled to go to Cuernavaca on Wednesday for our visas. I had been scheduled about 3 times before and each time the trip was cancelled for one reason or another. I was sure we would be going, but I called the secretary, Elder Jensen, and he was like, 'You are going to hate me...but you actually can't come in tomorrow." He knows I don't love it when they change travel plans last minute. He said something like, "President said there will be a few changes happening and that no one can come into the offices tomorrow. But you'll understand soon." I was a little suspicious at that point but tried not to worry about it. 

So when I was in Cuernavaca with Hna. Skonnard a few weeks ago, we were talking to President and I mentioned that we were thinking of investing in a Sam's club membership since there is one in my area in Iguala. I was like, "President, can you just tell me if I will be staying in my area for a while because we need to know if it is worth it!" He just smiled and changed the subject. 

Ok, so on Wednesday I was in a lesson and we got a call from President. I answered and he said, "Hna. Durham, I have a really important question for you." I am thinking...uhhhhh.... and he says, "Did you buy the Sam's card with your companion?" I told him no and he said that that was a wise choice because I would not be in my area on Monday. He told me that I would be a new Sister Training Leader in a different area. I will be honest, I didn't know what to say! Thank you? haha Well, I did tell him thank you and that I was really excited! He told me that my companion would be Hna. Corriveau, and I got even more excited because she is awesome. She is from my generation and was actually the first person that I met at the MTC. She sat next to me on the bus to the west campus and I thought she was really cool. She is 22 and from Illinois and was studying at BYU before the mission. I went back to the lesson and when we finished, I told Hna. Skonnard (we were on divisions) and she was super excited, but also really sad because I would be leaving her. We met back up with Hna. Garcia and I told her the news and that she would be finishing the training of Hna. Skonnard. She was a little worried since she just finished her training herself, but she will be awesome!

Well, I thought I had until Sunday to pack and say goodbye to everyone in Iguala, but they called me later that night on Wednesday and told me that I would be going the NEXT DAY and that I needed to bring all my stuff because the companion of Hna. Corriveau was ending her mission and we had a training meeting on Friday. I was so sad because I wouldn't have time to say goodbye to everyone. I called a few members to say goodbye, and they ended up coming to the bus station to say goodbye to me. 

I packed up Thursday, and it was hard to say goodbye to the lady we lived with. We actually ate with her that day so it was perfect. I love her and her family and I will miss them so much. Hna. Dany and Hna. Dessy (the twins that always go out on visits with us) came and brought me some cards and presents. It was so cute. Hna. Josefina and Hna. Bringas both came, too. I love IGUALA! I will miss everyone there. We had thought that both of my companions would be coming to Cuernavaca with me because Hna. Garcia had a training meeting for new trainers and we figured that she would need to have a companion on the way home, so Hna. Skonnard had packed her bags, but at the last minute she didn't have a ticket, and they told us that she would be staying with another companionship. She literally looked at me and burst into tears and gave me a big hug. She thought she had one more day with me at least, but she was ripped away from me. It was crazy, but it will all be fine. 

On Friday, I went to a training meeting with all of the leaders in the mission. I met Hna. Corriveau and she was so relieved to finally know who her companion was going to be! She is seriously so cool and I am so excited to be with her. Our meeting was AWESOME. I learned so much. President taught us about the priesthood and we were asking so many questions and I wrote down so many notes! 

Saturday, we got to our area and then headed back to the offices to take Hna. Lopez (Hna. Corriveau's old companion) since she is ending her mission. It is so crazy to think that in 4 months that will be us. We said our goodbyes and then headed back to the area again. We worked for a little bit and then went to the women's conference which was good! 

My area here is awesome. It is HUGE and more rural then my other areas, but it is an area of miracles. We have already seen so many miracles and I love this ward already. Of course, there will be challenges, but Hna. Corriveau and I are so excited to work here. On Sunday we had 8 people in church and we found a bunch of new people to teach! I would write about our investigators but I don't really know them yet. We will get there. 

I am super excited for this new responsibility that I have been given. I know that I will end up learning so much from the other sisters. I am hoping Hna. Corriveau and I will just end our missions together here.

I love this gospel and truly love that we are guided by continuing revelation. I was thinking about it the other night. It was so perfect that I was here in this mission at this time, that I have the mission president that I have and the companions that I have had and have now. I know the Lord is guiding my life and if I pay attention to the impressions of the spirit, I will never go astray. 

I love the church. I know it is true. I am SO excited for conference and to receive more guidance and inspiration. I hope you all watch it!

Love you!!!

Love, Hermana Durham 

From DurPIG comes DurHAM. This is Peppa. I love my area.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Normal Again

I don't have any cool stories this week about hanging out with members of the 70 or mission presidents. Sorry...it was just another normal week in the mission. :)

We tried washing our garments in Clorox bleach to try and make them whiter...didn't work. I don't think there is any hope. 

But really, I was thinking about what to write and I'm having a blank. Oh, I'll tell you about Julio, our only progressing investigator right now. (Not the only one we are teaching, but the only one going to church)

Julio is the stepson of our ward mission leader, and he had been living with his grandparents but just recently moved in with his mom and stepdad. His mom is a convert and all of his older siblings have also been baptized, but I don't think they are active. Julio is 14 and SO SHY! It is so annoying sometimes, actually. haha. We go to the lessons and he listens and says that he wants to get baptized but when we ask him to say the prayer, it's another story. He refuses. Like seriously. On Saturday, we sat for about 20 minutes trying to get him to say the closing prayer. You may ask why we waited, but it is because it is essential that the investigator prays in the lessons, because if they don't do it, they definitely won't pray by themselves to know if this is true. So we FINALLY got him to say the pray and he literally 'blessed the food'...what food, Julio?? hahaha. But we told him that he did a good job and needs to practice more. But he is a really good kid and likes going to church. His two older stepbrothers are active in the church and one is a returned missionary, so they are helping us with him. He should be getting baptized in a few weeks. 

One of the biggest challenges as a missionary is trying to get people to go to church. I think Hna. Skonnard is learning that it is hard. I have pretty much stopped believing people when they tell us they are going to come until I see them in the pew. We passed by for a few investigators yesterday before church and they literally told us to our faces that they would come...they just needed to shower and get ready...and they didn't come. I think she felt bad because she mentioned it a few times later that day. I kept thinking about when I was in Cuernavaca and cried the whole sacrament meeting when NO ONE came and we had passed by for EVERYONE. It is so hard because the culture here is...laziness. The Catholic Church teaches people to basically be lazy. Is that bad to say? Oh well, it is true. So we find a TON of people to teach because they love listening to anything about God, but we find few people who want to progress, who want to actually change their lives. But when we find those few that do want it, it is totally worth it. 

We are reading the Book of Mormon every night in English and Spanish to help Hna. Garcia with her English. It is fun. I will sit next to her and correct her and then Hna. Skonnard and I will read a verse in Spanish. Both of my companions are great. I was thinking about not being companions with Hna. Garcia after this change and it made me really sad. I have come to love her so much and we work really well together. I also love Hna. Skonnard. She is adjusting well. 

Luis fed us this week. He was so excited to cook for us. Apparently, he worked in the U.S. for a few years in Applebee's so he thinks he is an expert in cooking. haha. No, but seriously, it was good food and he was so happy to do it. He is doing great and I think he is going to be getting a calling soon! We gave him the pictures from his baptism and he was so excited to see them. 

I got a weird cold on Friday. I started feeling sick and I was sneezing like crazy. My nose was stuffy and on Saturday I felt like my body was filled with lead and my bones hurt. Don't worry, it's not dengue because I am fine now. Also, it is getting SOOOO hot here now. It's been slightly bearable, but now...my hair is back in a bun every day. 

There are some really awesome members here in this ward that just love us. We have two families that feed us every week on the same day. On Wednesdays we always eat with Hna. Josefina Galindo and on Fridays we eat with La Familia Bringas. They are so wonderful to us and will help us with anything. It is so nice having people who are like your family here because you are so far away from home. I really love these people and hope that I will be able to keep contact with them. Thank goodness for facebook, right?

Hna. Skonnard and I will be heading to Cuernavaca to do our visas this week. I did the paperwork when I went to go pick her up, and we have to go to the consulate this week so that I can be legal for a few more months!

I am grateful to be here in Iguala. I love the members here. It is a place with a lot of problems, but I know that there are people here that need the gospel. 

I know this church is true. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here on the mission and to be a representative of Jesus Christ. I have decided that I am grateful for the challenging days and weeks. MAAAYBE not in the moment, but as I am starting to look back on my mission, I am realizing that I have grown so much. The Lord truly knows me and knew that I needed to be on the mission at this time in this place. I love how perfect the gospel is and how our Heavenly Father loves each of His children. I don't know how He does it, but I know he does.

I love you all. Thank you for your love and support. I am so lucky to have such an amazing family. 

Happy spring!

Hermana Durham

Hna. Bringas and I in front of a mural in their house. 
Hna. Josefina. Love her. 
I ate that...but it was fried. 

Monday, March 16, 2015


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BEST MOM IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you so much. 

This week was super weird because we only had 1 full day to work in our area. But it was awesome.  

Tuesday, we had half the day to do p-day things and then we had the baptismal interview for Luis! He passed it just fine. We were so happy. It's not like we were worried, but if you have been on a mission, you know that the interviews before baptism can be a little stressful. haha.

We worked on Wednesday really hard to find new people to teach. We did divisions with two sisters in our ward that always come out and help us. We were able to find several new investigators which was a blessing because like I mentioned, we didn't have much time in the area the rest of the week. 

On Thursday we had planning in the morning and then had an appointment with Luis to teach him about the priesthood and make sure he didn't have any questions before his baptism. He told us that some friend of his brother had been texting him anti Mormon things and telling him that the church was just going to make money off of his baptism and a whole bunch of lies. He said that at first he got mad and wanted to text back mean things to him but then he said, 'I came to the conclusion that if I got mad or tried fighting back, I would not be in the right path any more. I would not be able to feel good about myself or be a good example to other people. So I decided to just not pay attention because now I am SURE this is the true church!' I wanted to cry. We explained that it is normal for things to happen like this before baptisms...because Satan obviously doesn't want him to make a covenant with God and be clean from sin. We also explained that this is the reason why it is important to have a testimony of the church and why we insisted that he kept praying and reading and going to church! He was so excited and nervous for his baptism.

After we ate on Thursday, we met up with the sisters in another ward here and Hna. Garcia went off with them because Hna. Skonnard and I were going to Cuernavaca for her follow up training as a new missionary. She only had a week and a half, but the rest of her generation has about 4 weeks. We stayed the night with the STLs in Cuernavaca and the next day had our training meeting. 

We had the follow up meeting with President Kusch and the other new missionaries. It was good, as usual. I felt like I had déjà vu because I was just there about a month before in the same training only with other missionaries. But it was good and I learned new things. I feel like the missionaries in this group are super powerful already and it makes me happy.

Now, this is where the good stuff comes in. When I went to Cuernavaca two weeks ago to pick up Sister Skonnard, I was with President and Sister Kusch in their car on the way to meet her. Someone had told me once that there was a Thrifty Ice Cream in Cuernavaca so I mentioned that to President. He said 'YES THERE IS!!!' He is from Southern California so obviously he has a fondness for the Thrifty just like me. He said that the next time I would be in Cuernavaca that he would take me there and I said, 'Well, I will be coming back next week for the training!' Then HE mentioned that they had just opened a Carl's Jr. there too that is REALLY good (probably because the oil is still fresh...hahahaha) and so I just tried my luck and threw in 'Well, maybe we can go to Carl's Jr. first and then dessert at Thrifty' and he agreed! So after the training, Hna. Skonnard and I hung back at the house with President and Sister Kusch and headed out with them once everyone else had left. They took us to Carl's first and then to Thrifty. I WAS IN HEAVEN. When we got there, I asked him if I could get two flavors and he said I could get whatever I wanted, so obviously I got the waffle cone! President and I ordered the same flavors...Mint Chip and Rocky Road. 

The best part (besides the mint chocolate chip ice cream) was being able to be with President and Sister Kusch one on one. How many hermanas or missionaries in general get to do that unless you are in a leadership position like AP. I felt super privileged and grateful for the time that I was able to spend with them. They are truly extraordinary people. I loved hearing about their life and stories that they have. There was a lot of traffic that day so we actually almost missed our bus back to Iguala, but the time I was able to spend with them was priceless. (sounds like a mastercard commercial, huh?) But seriously, I am truly grateful for amazing and inspired leaders that help me and so many reach our potential. 

We got back on Friday night and then we had Saturday until 5 to work because we had the baptism of Luis and Mayra. I am not sure if I have mentioned Mayra in my emails. She is the wife of a member. They have been married for 7 years, and she was a member of the 7th day Adventist church all her life. Her husband is a returned missionary and active member of our church. Several years ago she started going to church and liked it a lot, but never had decided to be baptized. Well, she was super prepared when we got here, and we have been teaching her all the lessons and helping prepare her for her baptism. She already knew the church was true, she just needed the baptism. 

This week had been super good, so of course we needed a little ‘hard’ thrown in there. On Saturday morning, we had Mayra's baptismal interview with the district leader. Before heading over to her house, we passed by the house of Juan and Marta...our two investigators that were progressing and coming to church. Juan is the one that was super rude to us in the beginning and then ended up crying in the lesson after we prayed. We hadn't been able to set a time with them for the last week and a half and every time we would go by, they weren't home or had some excuse. We found him in the house on Saturday and it was like the same Juan that we met in the beginning. Super rude. He told us that he didn't want to meet with us any more, that he doesn't think the church is true and that he is happy with just reading his Bible. We bore our testimonies and tried figuring out what had changed but he was very rude, even almost laughing at us as we tried expressing what we believe. I started crying because I was so frustrated, mad, sad, disappointed, etc. We shook his hand and walked away. In that moment I remembered what Mark Calvin told me before the mission...that there would be days, hours, or even minutes in  which I would experience the whole range of emotions...and that I should enjoy every minute of it. I will be honest, I could not really enjoy it in the moment. We got to the house of Mayra, and her husband was there. He could tell something was wrong and I explained what happened and started crying again. He tried consoling us and reminded me that the hard parts of the mission are what make the sweet parts even sweeter. I tried not to cry too much and just reminded myself that two people would be baptized today. One family will be on their way to being eternal. Mayra showed up a little bit later and the Elders came for the interview.

In the end, people, everyone has their agency. And if it hurt me that much to see someone blatantly deny that he felt the spirit and the truthfulness of the gospel, I can't even imagine how Heavenly Father feels. Agency is the worst. Just kidding...it is the best and I love knowing that I can choose for myself, but it is just hard to see people not use their agency in the right way. 

BUT...the day ended beautifully. The baptism went great. Both Mayra and Luis were so prepared and so excited. I was very happy because they had invited their families, and people came to support them! Luis even invited a friend from work that he wants us to start teaching! They both expressed their testimonies and feelings at the end, and both of them said that they couldn't explain exactly how they felt, but that they felt happier than they ever had in their lives. 

I wish I had a picture of Luis the first day I met him so that you could see the total difference that has taken place. He looks like a totally different person. He was glowing. It is such a privilege to be a missionary because I have the amazing opportunity to help people change for good. The change in Luis was huge. I have never had an investigator who had a big problem with the Word of Wisdom. It was so hard in the beginning, but it was amazing to see the change that took place. It was worth the struggle that we had because now he is super strong and excited to stay on the right path. 

Yesterday they were both confirmed members of the church. Luis asked about getting a Book of Mormon with a D&C and PofGP and said 'I can have one now because I'm a member!' haha...little did he know he could have had one before, too! I didn't tell him that, though. :) 

I can't believe that I will hit one year IN MEXICO tomorrow. Some days I think...I live in Mexico. When did this happen? I am so eternally grateful for the decision I made to come on the mission. I have learned so much and I love being able to help others come unto Christ. I know this is the church of Jesus Christ. I KNOW that He lives. I am so grateful to have His name over my heart every day as I try to be a worthy representative of Him. 

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

Hermana Durham