I am sure you were all devastated to not receive my email yesterday...haha. just kidding, but seriously. We were traveling all day and so that is why I am writing today. But let me tell you about the week.
Well, last Monday I went to Cuernavaca with Hna. Garcia to pick up my new companion, Hna. Skonnard. We went and Hna. Garcia stayed with the Sister Training Leaders while I waited for her to get to the offices. President and Sister Kusch picked me up at the offices and we went to meet my new companion at a Taco restaurant. haha. It was AWESOME! We were there with their son and daughter- in-law who were visiting. My companion arrived with the assistants and she is the cutest thing. Her name is Hna. Skoddard and she is 19. She is from Utah and already speaks really good Spanish. Her mom is from Argentina and when she was little she spoke Spanish to her all the time. She said that she kind of lost it growing up, but has taken Spanish classes and pretty much understands everything, so it isn't too hard for her to get around. She is really nice and we get along great. We stayed in the offices on Monday night and it was nice to get to talk to her and get to know her better.
You are going to be mad at me, and I am mad at myself because I didn't hardly take ANY PICTURES! But I will try to be better.
On Tuesday we had a training for new missionaries with President, and it was cool because we were the only two there. We had a VIP treatment with homemade breakfast and everything. After we were done, we headed back to the offices and we met up with Hna. Garcia and headed for the bus station to go back to Iguala. Poor Hna. Skoddard got sick on the bus because the bus is really winding. I usually feel sick. She told me she was feeling sick so she went back to the bathroom. The door wouldn't open so I went up front to ask for a key and the driver told me that she just needed to pull it harder. I looked at her (she was standing at the back) and motioned for her to pull hard and she opened the door RIGHT in time because she threw up at that moment. Welcome to the mission!!! She is a good sport and was ready to work when we got back.
We have been working well together this week. And we had some awesome experiences and have been finding people who want to listen to us.
Last week I mentioned that Luis still hadn't received his answer. We visited him and he said that he wanted to believe, but still didn't feel it. We told him that he had received his answer, but to keep praying and that on Sunday we were confident he would feel it.
On Sunday, Elder and Sister Clayton and Elder and Sister Mirón came and had a special conference with us. I was standing in the doorway greeting people when they arrived. I wasn't expecting the Claytons to remember me that well, but when Sister Clayton saw me, she kind of screamed a little and gave me a HUGE hug. Then she said, 'ok, that was from me, and now this one is from your mom' and gave me another HUGE hug which made me cry. Elder Clayton said, 'Hermana Durham...as I live and breathe!' They were SOOOO nice and made me feel like I was their long lost daughter.
The meeting we had was fantastic. The spirit was so strong. Half way through the meeting they announced that Hna. Durham was going to give her testimony. WHAT? I saw a little smile on Elder Clayton's face. I went up to give my testimony, and then Sister Clayton got up and gave her talk and said that I was a living example of faithful parents who were diligent and faithful in living the gospel and teaching it to their children. She said that we knew each other from California and that my parents were wonderful. I was a little uncomfortable with all the attention, but I felt really grateful in that moment for what she was saying. I feel so blessed to have 2 parents who are faithful and diligent. Who taught me the gospel since I was young and gave all that they could to help me become the best person possible. She talked about strengthening the family and what we can do to help our family relationships be stronger. I loved her talk. She speaks Spanish really well.
Elder Clayton's talk was super powerful. He gave the perfect talk for Luis because afterwards we went to visit with him and he quoted a few things from his talk and told us, 'Now I know that this is the only true church and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet!' I wanted to cry!!! He will be baptized this week! I am so grateful for inspired leaders who follow the promptings of the spirit and help others come unto Christ.
Elder and Sister Clayton wanted a picture with me but it was a little hard to get it after the conference, so we decided to wait until Monday after the conference with the missionaries. He said, 'I know that it is against the mission rules to take pictures with the general authorities, but we are asking YOU for the picture, so it will be fine!' They greeted all the people who went up to shake their hands even though I doubt they had a lot of time. They gave everyone special attention and I thought it was so beautiful. The leaders of this church truly are men and women of God. They have developed Christ-like attributes which is what gives them such power and love. I could feel how much they loved these people and they showed it through their actions, too.
We had to be at the bus station at 3:30 in the morning yesterday to go to Acapulco. Seriously. We got like 5 hours of sleep and we were so tired. I don't know what I was thinking but I curled my hair, and as soon as we got off the bus in Acapulco, I regretted it because it is humid! Also, we were going to take taxis to the church, but the Elders changed their minds so we walked a really long way and I was sweating so bad. Gross. We got to the church and literally spent an hour getting all set up to take a picture with President and the 3 members of the 70 that were there (Elder Clayton, Elder Piper, Elder Mirón and their wives). The Elders in charge were acting like crazy people and telling us that we needed to be in place like 30 minutes before they got there. I was fanning myself with a pamphlet and they were like...they are going to get here soon, put away your fans. I was like...no. I am hot and I really doubt they will be offended if they see me fanning myself because it is HOT. I swear...yes, they are general authorities, but they are people, too! They arrived, we took the picture and then we headed inside to the AC!
The meeting was so good, and I really wish I had time to write all of my thoughts and feelings that I had, but the truth is that I just don't. But I just can say that these men, the leaders and general authorities of the church, are truly men of God. They are inspired. I felt the spirit so strongly. They invited us to ask whatever questions we wanted to and they answered them, and at the end Elder Clayton said, 'Hermanas...you can ask questions, too!' because only Elders had asked questions. One Hermana raised her hand and asked how she could know if the Lord was pleased with her work in the mission. It was a question that I also had in my heart but didn't want to ask because I was nervous. Elder Clayton said, 'To be frank, this is a question that only an Hermana would ask. The Elders don't think like the Hermanas do,' and all the sisters laughed because I am sure that, just like me, they had the same question. He told us that if we are doing what we can, if we are getting up on time, leaving the house and putting in all our effort, then the Lord is pleased with us. Then he invited Sister Clayton to also respond and I loved her answer. She was so sweet and looked at the sister and said that she was sure that the Lord was happy with her efforts. I felt like she was also talking to me and felt so happy to know that even though I am not perfect, the Lord is truly happy that I am here. He is truly happy that I am serving Him. We are on His team. Of course He is happy with us. They were so kind and loving and I just wanted to stay there the rest of the day, but obviously it had to end.
Ok, here is the best part. They told everyone that they had to remain seated until they all left the room...except they told me in the beginning that I could leave with my companions to take a picture with them. So everyone was looking at me strange when I stood up to go out with them! Elder Clayton was like, 'We were in the same ward a long time ago with her parents!' So we went out to the hallway and they snapped a few pictures (they will be sending them to me and to mom when they get done with their travels) and we said our goodbyes. I wanted to cry when Sister Clayton hugged me. It's not like I even know her that well but it is something from home and the fact that she knows and loves my family made it special. We went back into the room with the missionaries and everyone was like...what was that about! You know him! We were just sitting there and a man in a suit with an ear piece like a secret service agent came in and was like, 'You three, come with me. Bring your stuff!' We were like...um, ok! So we grabbed our things and ran outside with him and President Kusch was like...you’re invited to lunch! SWEET! They hadn't told me for lack of communication or something so that is why the security guy came in to tell us. We got to go to a sea food place and eat lunch with 3 general authorities and President and Sister Kusch. Let's talk about a once in a life time opportunity! My companions were so excited! I sat by Sister Clayton and she asked me about each of my siblings and my parents and everything and I asked her some questions about their time in the 70. She is such a nice person and I really felt like she cared about my family and genuinely wanted to know how each of them was doing.
Then we really said our goodbyes and we headed to the bus station to get back on the bus to Iguala. We were on the bus for more time than we were in the conference, but it was worth it.
So it was a very interesting week and something that will never again happen in my life. I am grateful to be a missionary. Honestly, I feel so blessed to be here at this time and to know that the Lord is happy with my efforts. I am grateful for my companions who are great missionaries.
I love this church. I know it is true. I know it with all my heart. It is the ONLY way to be truly happy in this life and the life to come.
Love you all! Have a great week!
I am so mad at myself because I really didn't take many pictures. This is the first picture I took with Hna. Skonnard and it was after we got ready for bed! Oh well...