Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week 51! "Happy New Year!"

From 12/29/14

Hola Family and Friends!!!


THANK YOU thank you for your emails and constant support!!!! What a wonderful week we had!! Like just about every other missionary in the world, we were anxious for the best present from Santa (aka Skyping!). We were so blessed to be able to talk with our families. It filled my heart and gave us more desires to go out and work to share the gospel!

Happy One year on the mission Tiffany!!! I love you!!

I am running a little low on time...

Quick story! Yesterday we looked for Ia and his family to go give them an unexpected visit. They are a cool family that we had previously never been able to teach in their home in a formal setting. We run into Ia and a couple of his children several times in the streets and shared a little of the gospel with them. Last night we called up Ia to see if he was available to visit. He replied, right now? There's a lot of little kids running around my home right now.

"That doesn't bother us, if it doesn't bother you"

"Well, okay, but it's late and it's kind of dangerous around here."

"It's okay, we're close by."

"I'm kind of busy, how long so you think you'll be?"

"How long do you have? 15 minutes is okay with us".

"Okay, sure then, we'll be waiting for you."

We were greeted by a few of his kids and nephews outside his house playing in the street. They welcomed us in and ran to tell the family that we'd arrived. We walked into a home with about 12 adults and youth. He's wasn't kidding about there being a lot of kids running around!

Uhhh.....now what? I was thinking. We said hi to everyone and my companion and I exchanged glances of what do we do, do we teach? Do we come back? The answer was pretty clear: teach. Teach when you find, find when you teach.

So we sat down and invited everyone to come over and listen to a small message we had prepared to share. And everyone came over, the mom, dad, cousin, son in law, daughter, granddaughter, son, other son, nephew, niece, sister in law, and so on. I was feeling pretty little and overwhelmed to be surrounded by strangers (a lot) and this being the first time meeting them, and they were all willing to listen.

We had no idea what to really teach to such a diverse group of people all at once with all different needs and beliefs. But the answer was the same: the gospel is true. It resonates with the spirit of each son and daughter of God on the earth. We took courage as we prayed for each other, confided in the Lord, and in the authority of our calling and missionaries for Him.

As we began, the words started coming. Nearly all the family participated in our message of sharing and learning from one another. We shared the Restoration with the family and asked one of the nephews to read the scripture in James 1:5. My companion shared the First Vision, and we testified that the heavens are open, that God called His servant Joseph Smith to restore the gospel that each one of us might be blessed, then we invited them to be baptized.

Ia, spoke up and said that he has received many answered prayers and special blessings from the Lord throughout his life. He said, "Sometimes, I even get the chills. I don't know if you two saw me, but I think my wife did, that when my nephew read the scripture in the Bible just now, I got the chills again!"

Hermana C explained to him that the Spirit was testifying to him of the truthfulness of the gospel. He was receiving a confirmation of the truthfulness of what the scripture invited him to do. He and his son, D, accepted to be baptized. We left their home feeling so excited and happy for the opportunity to share the gospel with families, because it unites them and helps them receive blessings the Lord has prepared for them.

I know that families can be together forever. I know that the gospel is the solution to the greatest of our trials and challenges. I am grateful for a loving family who my Heavenly Father has given to me.

I hope you all have a great week!!!

Con Amor,

Hermana Fernelius

P.S. (From Ashley's dad):

"When Ashley called on Christmas Day (via Skype), she told of us a sister in the ward that often struggled to put food on the table for herself and for her family.  Ashley said that this sister's children had grown accustomed to simply being hungry for entire days at a time.  Yet, this sister had recently signed up to feed the missionaries.

"Now, Ashley was clear to point out that at the end of a typical day, she and her companion are VERY hungry, and that they like to eat until they are full, given the opportunity.  The day they were to eat at this sister's house was no different.

"They arrived to find a pot on the stove and the children playing outside - it was clear that no one had yet been fed.  After a prayer was offered, a relatively meager portion of food was served to Ashley and her companion - when the food was gone, the sister offered them more.  You can imagine that they would have both refused to eat more food, even if they were still hungry, given the circumstances...

"However, as they were walking away from this sister's home, Ashley turned to her companion and told her that she hadn't accepted more food, not out of compassion, but because she was truly FULL.  Her companion agreed that she was completely full as well.

"After relating this experience to us, Ashley then bore her testimony of sacrifice, referencing the biblical account of the widow who was willing to feed Elijah before serving the final portion of her food to her son, and preparing to die (1 Kings 17:9-24)."

IT RAINED ALL DAY the 24th . All day. We got soaked and walked around in wetness for a long time. It was our version of snow :)

I found my companion just about laughing her head off when she told me that she slept with her scarf like THIS around her head one night. It gets cold here some days. Then she said, I'M LAZARUS. you know, when Jesus calls him out from the sepulcher and tells them to take the napkin from off his face. hahahaha

Found a butterfly today and picked it up on my hand. It stayed on my hand, then passed off to my comp. It was a very SOCIAL butterfly. Bu dum tiss
Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Week 50! "The Food is Good (After All)..."

From 12/22/14

Hola Family and Friends!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! It's the best time of year because just about every other email we are celebrating something else.

**P.S. sorry for the lack of photos. I would love to say that I have photos to send you this week, but we are not permitted to take the camera out of our apartments during the week Tuesday thru Sunday for security reasons. And we basically love opportunities to be obedient, so that's why we don't think about it anymore.

I have no photos for you all.

Perdón. **

--This week, I've been slowly and selectively collecting recipes from the sisters in my branch. Right now, I've got a GREAT arroz con leche, flan, and enchilada recipe. I'm excited about it.


--Remember a few dozen emails ago, when I wrote home basically crying because of the food and how hard life was. How wrong I was. How very wrong indeed. The food is basically the best thing that has happened. Hna C and I were reflectioning on the other missions in the world and what they might have to struggle eating -- like blood sausage or something strange -- while we are feasting here in the Cuernavaca mission. I'm learning slowly but surely some goodies to make when I'm home. Prepare your waistlines! Every time it's my turn to make dinner or family home evening refreshments, you already know what we'll be eating. #SORRYBOUTIT

--We had Christmas conference with President and Sister Kusch this past Wednesday. About 80 missionaries were there. The devotional by our mission president and Sister Kusch was really beautiful. Each time I hear them speak, I have a reconfirming feeling that they were called by divine revelation to lead the mission during this time. They also mentioned how the conference was the very last they would have as mission presidents of Cuernavaca. They are scheduled to return home in about six months. My 'generation' of missionaries will be going home a week before them.

We had very awkward and strange skit presentations for entertainment. Please don't remind me of that ever. ha-ha. It made us all very uncomfortable to get on stage and act out sketches. We then had a huge White Elephant and a dinner afterward. We were able to eat with President and Sister Kusch and converse with them a bit. Wow. Wow is all I could think of as we talked about how they were called to serve as our mission president and the trials and blessings they've experienced in the service of the Lord. They are really incredible people who have gone through a lot. President actually mentioned that he will have served as a missionary for 5 years of his life when he returns home. 2 years as an Elder in Central America, and 3 years as mission president with his spouse in Mexico. They are so cool!! :) Our testimonies were definitely strengthened to be able to speak with them.

--Yesterday, Ao came to church again!!! WOO! In two more weeks he will be baptized. We are incredibly super duper excited for him. J and Ao are good buddies which brings a smile to my face every time I see them chatting. THESE PEOPLE ARE SO COOL.

This week in English class we learned how to describe ourselves to other people. The phrase J learned to say (by his own choice) was: "I am tall and fat." Then he said wait, wait no, "I am tall and tan."  Very nice, J, well done. ha-ha...

Then it was Ao's turn. "I am a liar and I'm fat. Alguien me dijo que 'liar' parece a 'lawyer'. Decho me dijeron que es lo mismo." haha..SO funny!! Before we knew it, we were explaining how to say borracho in English and other not too important words. We learned a few in turn tambien. :)
Actually this week as we taught Ao with a sweet sister in our branch we were impressed by the spiritual progression he's experiencing. We felt impressed to teach him about the Atonement and the miracle of forgiveness, how Heavenly Father forgives us as we truly repent and that we can forgive ourselves too. Ao really beats himself up about things he's done in the past before finding the church. He has struggled with alcoholism for much of his life or since he was about 18 years old. Some weekends he would drink up to 4 or 5 liters of alcohol. 
Well, we watched a Mormon message video about digging up old trash, or being stuck in past transgressions. He opened up to us afterward and shared how he's felt he has changed in these weeks.
He told us, "Since the first time you two visited me, I haven't had alcohol once."
REALLY?? We didn't know that!
Then he looked at us with a smile and also surprisedly responded, "I thought you knew!"
He's made a lot of good changes in his life. I felt so impressed as we spoke. The Atonement can change hearts.
In a talk I read this morning, President Uchtdorf says: "Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.  Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
"He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.
"What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us."
I know that God loves us and for that reason we have the opportunity to leave behind old habits, desires, addictions, characteristics, to adopt those of His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. We can be someone better. I love seeing these people and families progress because they let the Savior in. They allow the Atonement to work in them and cause a mighty change of heart.
In our companionship, we are also trying to let the Savior in and change us. We have made one simple personal goal with the Lord every day.
One day, it was 'find a family'. We started the day with a prayer and plans to be able to reach that goal. We worked with that mentality that without question, we would find a new family. And the Lord helped us with our desires! We found a complete family who accepted a baptismal date.
The next day, Thursday, we wanted to receive references of investigators from the members with all our hearts. It occupied our minds as we prayed, made plans and worked for them. We planned to ask for references with faith from everyone. Everyone we spoke to. We weren't disheartened as the day went on and still had not received references. We returned home and began our nightly planning session, and reviewed references received for the day. Not one. We received a name, but no address.
Then our district leader called and took our nightly datos. He told us that he had a reference to give us. Actually, it was references for four families!! Then the sisters that live with us came out from planning, and said, we have references for you. FOUR new references. It was absolutely a miracle. We received 8 references from the Lord, half an hour after coming home for the night without one in hand.
Friday, we felt like we needed to be more diligent in kneeling prayers with our investigators and members. We prayed, made plans to kneel and pray after lessons, and went to work. With every family we asked to kneel and pray with, they were open and completely willing to do so. There was a sweet spirit we felt as the mother of a family offered a sincere prayer before we left their home.
I've felt a greater need and importance to repent and change with the Lord's help in small and simple ways. A mighty change of heart begins with a desire to change our hearts. It was neat to experience great blessings this week with Hermana C as we made goals with the Lord, prayed for His help, and worked to carry out our plans. I know that He desires to bless each and every one of us, and like President Uchtdorf said, He loves us infinitely. Yes, we have to ask Him for His help, and we also need to work with the faith that our righteous desires and endeavors will be given us.
I am so thankful for this time of year. With the help of our Heavenly Father, we can make goals with Him to change. We can stand a little taller, reach a little higher, and help a few more along the way.
I love each one of you & hope you all have a wonderful Christmas this year!
You all are the best. :)
Con Amor, <3
Hermana Fernelius
Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 49! "More Amazing Experiences"

From 12/15/14


This Thursday makes one year on the mission! Can't believe it still! So much can happen in a year. Every day I feel so grateful for the opportunity to serve the beautiful people here in Mexico as a missionary. I wouldn't trade a single memory from the past year for all the world.

Thank you for your emails. I love your testimonies and encouragement and faith.

Mexico is SO beautiful this time of year. In Catholic tradition, on the 16th every neighborhood starts a celebration called 'posadas'. There are decorations in every street and alleyway. Some streets have beautiful basket lanterns, piñatas or a traditional colorful paper decoration connecting one side of the street to the other. Each street or neighborhood is 'assigned' a day to give out ponche drinks and other traditional treats. They break piñatas too. Most have 7 points on them, representing the 7 universal sins. When someone is blindfolded to break the piñata, it symbolizes that a person has the faith (blindfold) to overcome the world. It's gorgeous here, and people are excited about this Christmas season.

Saturday we had our very first piano class and English class. Ao (investigator) and J (our favorite person ever) arrived and we taught the two of them. They were both SUPER duper excited to learn. At the beginning of the piano class, I asked them 'what do you hope to learn or feel at the end of class today?' Ao answered matter-of-factly, "Well, I hope to learn a little more about music and feel the Spirit." WOW. Good answer Ao, good answer. That was better than what I was expecting.

It's actually kind of difficult to teach in Spanish. For example, 'measure' is 'compas' in Spanish. Still can't figure out a few words that well. I couldn't help but think over and over again of Sister Herzog and her dedication to teach and love others enough to help them develop their talents. I thought of a lot of wonderful members and teachers that have given of themselves to teach music. I can't explain how cool it is to see others in love with learning and growing. Like J and Ao, they appreciate each opportunity God gives them to learn and (no matter how small it is) they are willing to share it with others.

Hermana C did a BOSS job teaching English. She started off right away teaching conversational English. At the end of class. Ao and J could start and keep an initial conversation. Just like magic. Did I ever mention that she's awesome? Oh, and Sunday I played the piano in sacrament meeting for the first time on the mission. Afterward, Ao came up and said that while I played he was saying, 'She's my teacher! She's my teacher!'....just like that, in English. :D Good job Hermana C.

I'm running out of time and I have so much more to say...

We had a really special experience this week. Hermana C and I have talked about how important it is to act on the Spiritual impressions we receive, and that we help each other out when we do feel like we should talk to someone, visit someone, or walk a different direction. One day this week, we tried our best to talk with whomever would hear us. It was interesting that as we talked with more individuals, we felt more receptive to the Spirit and had more opportunities to share the gospel.

As we walked down the street, just before turning the corner, I had a thought come to my mind: I pictured a mother walking towards us with her 9 year old son. That was what I pictured a few seconds before turning the corner, then a woman, Sa, with a little son and two daughters walked past us. In a matter of seconds we talked to each other:

'Uh, Hermana I want to talk to that lady' (the one that already walked past us in a hurry and started crossing the street).

'Okay, HEY you!'

The woman returned and we began talking with her. We shared a simple message about the Restoration and of Jesus Christ. Her kids were running all around us but she listened attentively. We invited her to learn more and asked if we could visit her within the week. She lives in another city far away, but we took her information down so that missionaries could visit her.

She said, "I have parents that live up the street a little bit, you can come by and visit us there."

She was so genuine and our conversation felt fluid. We said our goodbyes and walked away feeling uplifted. Just as we came up to our house door, we heard a little voice behind us. It was her son:

'We wanted to invite you to eat some tacos with us can - you come?'

We were just about to go into our home for the night so we were unable to. We thanked him and talked to him for a second.

'And how old are you?'

'I'm ten.' :) (can you say cute?)

SO amazing to us, but it didn't end there...

Later on in the week, we decided we should look for a family that we had contacted a little while ago but have never been able to find. On the way, I was praying for a miracle, we really just need a change in the area. We kept on walking. On the way, we ran into a man, Ia, and his son, D, that we had talked to a few weeks ago. When we first met them, they were very interested and were super nice. The first thing Ia told us when we saw him was:

'I've been reading the pamphlet you gave me, I really like it. I actually ran into companions of yours while I was reading it. I showed them your names on the back of the pamphlet and told them where I lived. They were really excited about it all.' haha.

Ia seemed very pensive as he shared that experience with us.

He looked at us and said, 'you know, I'm going to go to church this week. I'm going to go soon.'

He took off his hat and looked up. He said, 'I have to learn more - there is a reason for this.'

We took their information down. I asked him, what's your last name again? ..... What? I think we met your sister a couple of nights ago.'

'Who, Sa?'
'Yeah and your parents live over there?'
'Yeah those are my parents!'.
We were really feeling grateful that Heavenly Father is in control of all things. He has perfect timing and allows us to be part of it.
President Monson once talked about following the impressions of the Spirit: He said 'Never postpone a prompting.'  
I just need to try to remember that! Always following the Spirit will keep us on track and will lead us to more guidance and more opportunities to serve others.
And guess who we ran into on the bus this morning? D.
We invited D to English classes. He was shocked that they were free!! haha. He said that he would be there for sure. We talked for a little bit on our 20 minute ride. Just before he got off, I asked him what he was doing Saturday at 11 am. He looked and pointed at us, and he said, "At church in the English classes."
We said goodbye and he left. :)
This week was full of such tender mercies and blessings. I'm thankful every day for the opportunity to serve the Lord. He is so loving and merciful and forgiving. I read this morning from the New Testament about the charity that Christ has for us, His brothers and sisters. So many times it says that Christ 'had compassion' and healed, forgave, and loved. Our Heavenly Father knows of what we stand in need of. We just need to remember to ask Him.
I know that God lives. I know that Christ is the Messiah and the Savior of the World. What a miraculous time of year that we can celebrate His birth, life, death and resurrection. I love Him and I'm grateful to serve Him.
Hope you all have a wonderful week!
Con amor,
Hermana Fernelius
Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 48! "Piano Lessons"

From 12/8/14

HOLA Family and Friends!

HOW ARE ALL OF YOU? :) I hope you all had a wonderful week! Hermana C and I are doing great! We are having a lot of fun and working as hard as we can. I love being with my comp because we do the most insignificant things together, but it's always super fun. I'm grateful that I've always had such patient companions like Hermana C!!! So life is great here.

Our branch president has asked that I start giving piano lessons to the members of the branch, old and young alike. Whoever wants to learn, really. I'm excited to help and I think this will be a great experience!! Our very first class will be on Saturday, I will have to let you know how it goes. :)

Tuesday was Hermana C's 20th birthday!! WOO! Another year older and wiser too! We sang las mañanitas and happy birthday at the end of the day and ate cake and ice cream. We ALSO may or may not have gotten a piñata. :) Mexican style!! It was a fun and awesome day with great people!

We've been blessed to have some very special experiences this week! First of all, wasn't the Christmas Devotional yesterday spectacular? It was so so inspired. My companion and I have been talking about the same scriptures and topics that they shared all week long. It made it all the more special to hear from living prophets and apostles and general authorities of the church. The story from Elder Christofferson of the little boy just about made me cry. I think that being generous and selfless is something that I need to work on. The people in the little boy's town didn't even think twice about helping the little boy and his family out. They let the light of Christ open their hearts and quicken their readiness to reach out in love and serve. I love how he related each one of us to Jesus Christ. He said, in not so many words, that our mortal purpose is the same as the Savior's--to do all things that the Father commands. Por lo que padeció, El aprendió obediencia.

Just before the conference began, I was worried that I might miss some of the details of the messages (because they were broadcast in Spanish). I prayed that I might be able to understand the messages and the Spirit clearly. I was surprised as I listened and realized that I understood. The moments that I turned my attention away, I lost the understanding I had. Each time I prayed and focused on the talks given, that instant I was able to feel and learn clearly again. It was neat! Although we understand Spanish well now, and speak a little more, we rely every day on the Lord and on the gift of tongues to help us. It keeps us on our toes and especially helps us to be humble and trust the Spirit.

I also loved the talk given by Hermana Oscarson. She spoke a little about humility. The Savior of the world, the King of kings and Lord of lords, was born as a humble baby to a righteous mother and a faithful earthly father. I love how she also pointed out that among the first people to hear the birth of the Savior were shepherds tending their flocks. Jesus was born in a humble family and humble circumstances. As I listened, I realized how important that virtue really is. When we are broken in heart and have a contrite spirit, we give away our will to do the will of our Heavenly Father. We become the children He has designed us to be and qualify to receive the blessings of eternal life with Him once more. We desire to be more obedient and we choose to serve others. We find deeper happiness and satisfaction in our day and feel full of purpose and direction. It can all start with humility and gratitude. Like President Uchtdorf said last conference, Gratitude is the catalyst for all Christlike attributes. It's a powerful first lesson we learn from the mortal life of Jesus Christ.

Listening from the Devotional I also realized how important the family is. And most of all, how important it is to have a gospel centered home. The leaders spoke a lot about the purity and love that children have. And also about the role of a father and mother in the home. If you didn't get a chance to watch the devotional, do it! :) It really was awesome!

My comp and I read a few powerful talks this week that maybe someone wants to check out: "If ye love me, keep my commandments" -Elder Hales (May 2014 conference)

"Su Gracia es Suficiente" -Brad Wilcox (September 2013 Liahona/Ensign)

The second talk we came across again this past week because of a sweet sister in our branch. Hermana M is like a mother to us. She and her husband take good care of the missionaries and are always willing to serve and help in any way they can. We went by their house Saturday morning a little unexpectedly to take care of a little 'asunto'. She welcomed us in. We noticed that she was reading the talk mentioned above, and she told us that she was to give the lesson in Relief Society on Sunday. It took us off guard when she suddenly began to cry. She said, "Hermanas, I am so nervous. I don't think I can give this class. The last time I taught, a sister told me afterward that the lesson was horrible and that I didn't know how to teach. What should I do?"

The answer was in the talk she was reading :) The Savior's Atonement is realized in our imperfections, sins, and weaknesses. He is the only one that can really bring the peace and feeling of wholeness in our lives. We shared a scripture to her from D y C section 100:4-8. The Spirit will always be with us as we testify of truth from our heart. She had no reason to worry!

What she told us next really touched us. "This morning I got up and started to work around the house, then I got a phone call to give the lesson tomorrow Sunday. I haven't been able to concentrate since. I have so much to do and it's all last minute. I just keep remembering of how the lesson was last time... I wasn't given a topic this time either. I have to go to a conference in the afternoon and will only have a couple of hours to write a lesson out. I was undecided between using this talk, or the other and wanted to know. So I prayed. I wanted to know if I could do this. Then two angels arrived at my door".

She said things that were very special to us and told us that we had been an answer to her prayers. It taught the three of us how Heavenly Father cares and answers our prayers, even in the littlest ways. Hermana M gave a BEAUTIFUL class yesterday. She bore her testimony powerfully. She was a living example of the grace of Christ. Here is a quote (in Spanish) from this Ensign article:

"Cuando entendemos la Gracia, entendemos que las bendiciones de la Expiación de Cristo son constantes y que Su poder se perfecciona en nuestra debilidad." -Brad Wilcox

If you are ever called to fill a calling, assignment or whatever else it might be that seems hard, out of reach, maybe even undesirable or daunting....just remember, you can do it!! With the Savior's help, you can do anything! It might be in church, at work, in studies, or at home...His grace will make our weaknesses strong and our imperfections perfect. I'm learning that as I strive to serve Him. He helps us in every way.

Something else! J blessed the sacrament yesterday! :) He is like the Harry Potter of the branch--the chosen one. haha. Everyone loves him! He's willing to learn and serve and help all those around him. He's invited many friends and family members to learn more about the gospel. He has friends in Acapulco that ask him about what he's learning and doing. Already a missionary!

I think one of the lessons I've learned this week is about the importance of what we call 'retention' work in the church. We met a young man who was baptized almost exactly a year ago that we taught this week. He virtually has become an investigator again--which is very very common to see in an individual or family that is less active. J came with us to teach M (13 years old).

What President Hinckley taught was true. Every member/recent convert needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nourishment by the gospel. If M had this support from the very beginning of his membership, it would have helped him tremendously. We've spoken with several other less active families who say the same. They admit that they just need someone to be their FRIEND and help them when questions arise or difficulties come. They need help to diligently hold onto the iron rod.

Maybe this week you can call the ward mission leader and ask him if you could help a family in need. Maybe the Relief Society President, or Elder's Quorum President, or Bishop would know. Ask and seek for opportunities to serve in the ward. Call the full-time missionaries up and offer to visit their investigators. Chances are that they might know the less active members better than most members. They are willing to help you get involved in missionary work--in finding, teaching, reactivating, and retaining members. It's SO important! And the blessings of heaven await those who serve our Father in Heaven.

I LOVE YOU ALL and hope you have a great week. You all are awesome. Keep your heads up. Keep smiling, laughing, loving, and doing the little things every day. Reach out to someone who needs your friendship. They may be your coworkers. They may be your next door neighbor. They might be your best friends or your own family. Make today different by being a true disciple of Jesus Christ :)

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Fernelius


This is our gorgeous Christmas Tree. All four of us took part in decorating it one day when we were shut inside. although it is a little 'ghetto' we're fans of it! :) 


Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 47! "The Nose Ring is Gone!"

From 12/1/14

Hola Family and Friends!!
It's made me so happy to see all the photos from this past week!! Good looking fellers!!! So happy to hear that you all passed a memorable week. We thought Thanksgiving was like 2 weeks ago, not this past Thursday. I went around announcing that it was Thanksgiving when it wasn't...ooops. haha. We spent Thanksgiving with a member family and ate some very tasty traditional Mexican food. Nopales (basically cactus) and all! :)
WOW!!! We had such a miraculous week! On Friday, J was baptized!!! :) :) :) He is an incredible person and it has been the greatest blessing for my companion and me to know him. A little about the day:
J was interviewed by our district leader in the morning. We almost ran to meet our leaders out by our church in the morning and then practically ran to show them to J's house for the interview. Then we took off to another appointment. We got a text message a little bit later that said that he 'passed'! :) We carried on with the day anxious for his baptism that night.
We got to the church at about 5pm and set up the sacrament room and made sure everything else was prepared. There was a Relief Society activity that was going on meanwhile just before the baptism and we just kind of hopped around waiting for people to arrive. One of the first people to arrive was J :) He was a little nervous. The kind of nervousness that comes when you're excited and unsure of what exactly is going to happen. Kind of like the first day of school. Anyway, he was so excited. Hermana S said that he was radiating. He just looked so full of life and light. He sat up front, and we played the waiting game.  Slowly other branch leaders trickled in, missionaries, investigators, J's MOM!! ...and lastly we waited for the elders to arrive.
We took pictures outside and at this point it was so dark outside and COLD!!! It's starting to get really cold here at night and in the early morning. It's hard to wake up...I feel for you mom! It's still dark and cold when the alarm clock sounds! I have to admit that it was probably one of the most beautiful evenings we've had for a few weeks now. The light gently faded away and left a beautiful sunset behind. And the casa de oracion, or house of prayer, looks pretty at night. We took pictures just outside of the pool that he would be baptized in. It looked REAL cold.....we felt really bad for him. :( But he was fine!
Just before beginning the program, J looked at us and said I'll be right back. He ran into the bathroom and came out and then pointed to his nose. He took the nose ring out :) The program was simple and sincere; we went outside to the lawn to see J be baptized.
A baptism is always the coolest because heaven feels so close!  Hermana C and I couldn't keep from smiling all night, and all week actually. I've just felt happier lately.
We came back in and he bore his testimony afterward. Sunday was his confirmation. He came in a white shirt and slacks! He always comes in a colored, collared shirt. Except Sunday! The branch president asked him to bear his testimony again. He said that on his baptism, as he was submersed, he felt almost as if he 'went to sleep' for a fraction of a second. As he came out of the water, he felt like he had 'woken up'. He felt new! :)
I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father to know J and to have seen his progression alongside my companion. We really feel filled when we see others making and keeping commitments which prepares them to make and keep eternal covenants.
Monday we had another awesome experience with an investigator named "A". HE IS A FAVORITE of ours! We met A two weeks ago through his brother that we contacted. He truly matches the definition of investigator. As soon as we left his home the first visit, he started to read the Book of Mormon. He went to mormon.org, has looked up many church films, like bible videos from lds.org, and has learned SO MUCH. So so much that he even tells 'mormon jokes' and he tells them right!
A came to the baptism and LOVED IT! He is also working on the Word of Wisdom. He's set some goals and set his mind to leaving his vices behind. He is coaching a soccer team that plays on Sundays in the morning--the same time as our sacrament meeting. We invited him to come to church and he said, 'I've already made a commitment with many youth that are depending on this game. So I can't miss this Sunday for them. I think that there are slots available later in the afternoon though. It costs a little more and I don't have money, but I'm going to change it to that hour, at least until the tournament ends so that I can go to church.'
He wants to keep his commitments and he wants to be baptized. Talk about awesome-sauce!! It was awesome to hear him show interest and excitement. We are so happy to see him progress.
We've met three awesome new families this week that are new investigators - parts of the family (because we've only met parts at a time have accepted a baptismal date) - and this week we'll see the rest of the family members. We are super excited about them!!
The work is plugging right along here! The sisters in our branch are really awesome and have seen many miracles through the past week also. We definitely love Hermana G and Hermana S. They are awesome missionaries.
We had a great week! We are excited to see what's up ahead for the following. I appreciated a part of what Matthew said in his email this week about sharing the gospel with everyone. I know that it's true that all of us here on earth once accepted Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. We just need to remind them of the faith that they've forgotten. What a privilege to be a member of the church in these last days. There is such a special joy of sharing the gospel or doing redemptive work for the dead in the temples that cannot be compared with anything in all this world!!
I read a scripture from the prophet Enos in the Book of Mormon this morning that I love: "By the power of God...I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ. And I have declared it in all my days, and have rejoiced in it above that of the world." :)
I also love how Enos talks about the covenants that he made with God and the comfort he finds in trusting in those promises:
"And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant which he had made; wherefore my soul did rest."
I know that the ordinance of baptism is sacred and essential to us being made clean and prepared to return to God. The temples of God are truly a sacred place and the house of the Lord. The covenants we make there are worth striving, sacrificing and preparing for. I'm grateful that families can be together forever and that the Priesthood allows us to have celestial blessings sealed upon us as we are faithful. :)
I LOVE YOU ALL and hope that each of you have a wonderful week!
Con Mucho Amor,
Hermana Fernelius

Week 46! "An Instant Answer to Prayer"

From 11/24/14

Hola Family and Friends!!

How are you all?

Bueno, I realized that Reno (as in Reno, Nevada) means reindeer. Perfect for the holiday season. Also, Nevada means snowfall and Las Vegas is the meadows (which isn't related to Christmas...but.... :) )

So how was this week? Great :)

1) Coolness is that this week was great. Sorry for informal letters sometimes. I'm just t i r e d . I have another story for you all! I am looking through my planner right now to see of what all happened throughout the week.

One day, (Wednesday) I have a bunch of dashes through the appointments we had. Each dash means that the appointment had fallen through. That day we walked probably about 10 miles, we just walked and talked and walked some more. From about 10:30 am to 8:30 pm we were on our feet. But it was still AWESOME. The Lord put so many people in our path that day. That's why we taught in the streets.

We ran into people that we lost contact with, old investigators, members, less actives, and new people to see soon. The Lord put them in our regular ordinary steps. We were wandering around doing nothing (just kidding) and then as we walk past a group of people down an alleyway a man says "Hermanas de Sion!!" That took us off guard. My companion looked at me right away. We talk with our facial expressions haha so we both kind of agreed to turn around and ask who he was. It must have looked strange to see two missionaries hurrying in one direction, stop dead in their tracks, then march back in the direction they came from. haha

We met Hermano F, a less active member of the church who hasn't come to church for over 10 years. He introduced himself and asked about our names and where we come from. He didn't understand me when I said "Nevada" the first time. He just kind of shook his head like, uh huh. Got it. BUT no. :) He asked me again where I said I was from, "Nevada". Then he said, "Well around here we pronounce it Baghdad." :D I laughed so hard on the inside. That was great. Poor guy just couldn't figure out where I was from. So that's a new one. He thought that I was from Baghdad. I took it as a compliment! We talked with him for a few minutes and just saw the great need that he had to reactivate in the church. He wants to with all his heart, but right now he is facing some of the consequences of his choices in the past. He said to us that he was worried about the process of changing and being active again.

I think that's why it's such a blessing to be here as a missionary! I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can help us repent of our past mistakes and make us clean again. I LOVE teaching people about the Savior and seeing just how much joy and hope enters their life as they begin to repent and accept him as their Savior and Redeemer. It is a miracle of the mission. We realized that the Lord had blessed in tremendous ways the day that we were the most tired we have been probably since the beginning of the mission. :)

2) We had a missionary activity for the youth of the stake. It was horribly early but it was super duper awesome!! :) The Stake organized an activity where youth would be trained for a day of missionary preparing in proselyting, talking with President Kusch, learning basics of cooking and cleaning and life as a missionary. We were with youth that are preparing to serve missions in the next few weeks, months and years. My companion and I were assigned to a 'young companion' who is finishing up her paperwork to send as a missionary. J (our investigator) came too!!!! HE LOVED IT!! He was beaming when they gave him a nametag like the missionaries have. He was assigned to a good elder who took care of him.

The missionaries were given lists of less active members of the church to go visit with their 'member missionary'.  We didn't know anything about the area, they just sent us out of the church to go have fun and talk to as many people as we could along the way. Our compañera was powerful! I felt the Spirit so strongly when she spoke and bore her testimony. She is a recent convert of two years. Most of her family doesn't want her to prepare for a mission, but she told us with all the integrity of her heart that she knew the church was true. It is her desire to share the gospel with all that she can wherever the Lord wants her to be.

It was a great privilege to help these youth see what it's like to go proselyting and to share the gospel. They bore their testimonies afterward when we were all back together again. A young boy of about 10 years bore his testimony by saying, I learned today that size doesn't matter. We are all missionaries. And the Lord has prepared people for the gospel.

It was neat to reflect on the beginning of my mission which was now almost a year ago. About a year ago at this time I was scrambling around with my head cut off getting ready for the MTC. It's crazy how fast the time goes by right? And then we were in the middle of so many future missionaries who are so anxious to serve. Huge blessing.

3) In other news, J is going to be baptized this Saturday!! We are so super excited for him. The branch is really excited too!! :) One elder that was with J on Saturday commented that J is just super awesome. :) I guess J asked the elder "So when I am baptized, I will be dressed in all white, right?" That elder said that it just really touched him to hear how sincere and excited he is to be baptized. AHH.

4) We found a new investigator who is 15 years old!! Her name is B and we taught her just last night about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. I wish I could be in person to describe the story because it was truly special for me and my companion. Her mom is basically a stranger to us but has welcomed us into their home like their own family. She said, the muchachas are here! I mean, my other daughters! ....How awesome is she?

B was busy studying for an exam when we stopped by. We met them about 2 weeks ago, but it was more of a brief contact we had with them. This was the first opportunity we had for a sit down lesson. We asked if she had been able to read the pamphlet on the Restoration that we left with her. She said that she did and that she remembered about the prophets. We began with a prayer and talked with her about the gospel restored again in these days through Joseph Smith. I can't explain it, but I felt the Spirit so present in that home. There was crazy loud banda music, people outside her window shouting, singing, family in and out of the kitchen where we were at, but although there was noise and commotion, the Spirit was present and strong. It was a beautiful, peaceful lesson. B's eyes opened wide and she smiled as we shared Joseph's testimony. She just said, Wow! that's amazing. What a beautiful story. and he was only 14! We asked her what she thought and she said, God truly answered his prayers!!

We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and said that it was her own copy. She was so surprised and thankful! We invited her to be baptized and she accepted whole heartedly. Then we asked her to pray at the end of the lesson. We bore testimony to her that if she asked God specifically to know the truthfulness of the gospel, He would answer her pray specifically also. Then she prayed. It was so sincere and direct. She asked to know if the Book of Mormon was true. When she ended her prayer she looked up at us and all she could say was "Wow!" She said, "I felt something. I don't know. It felt like the chills, but I'm not cold. I feel peaceful."

Just thinking about this story over again fills me with happiness. God answered her sincere prayer in THAT instant that she asked with all her heart. I was so grateful to my Heavenly Father for that experience. I am so excited to start teaching B and hopefully her family soon too. AHH.
5) In other less formal news, I met a lady named Eufrosina. All the people round here call her Frosy. (just like that Froh-see) Crazy right?
6) Less active member told us that his friend was "super ripped" muscularly..then proceeded to show us a photo. Awkward times for everybody.
7) I'm just really happy to be alive and live in Mexico. Life is good. We are HAPPY AS CAN BE :)
I can't wait to talk to the family soon and see my people!! I will try to send photos next week. I don't have that many right now because of a new rule that we cannot proselyte with our cameras with us for security during the week, we can only have them on Mondays. And like Nephi, "And I must obey". :) I'll try to take lots of awkward pictures from our apartment and on Mondays for you all :)
LOVE YOU PEOPLE: You're just the best. Have a wonderful week!!!
Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Week 45! "An Awesome Future Missionary?"

From 11/17/14

Hola Family and Friends!!!

HOW ARE YOU ALL!!!!!! It sounds like you all had a great week which is wonderful to hear. I can't believe it's getting cold there. Fall and Winter in Las Vegas will forever be my favorite weather. :) I forget what seasons are like. D:

Guess where I am currently at? ....with almost all of my favorite people. You know, Hermana C, Hermana N, and her companion Hermana H!! Isn't that awesome?! We had the most fun today doing nothing, as usual. But when you are with people that just get it, it's always a great time.
We've had a wonderful week! I am learning to retrain my thought process, so I am trying to only see the positive. Holding on to negative thoughts that don't help you progress ARE USELESS: Don't hold on to those, people. Let the frustrating, uncontrollable circumstances go. Let those go super far away :) My companion and the sisters that are living in our house are helping me do that.
They are awesome! The mission is awesome. :)
Hna C and I are working hard on several investigators to help them to progress. THEY ARE SO GREAT!!!!
We went with J to the Centro de Autosuficiencia ["center of self-reliance"] on Friday. We got on a bus in the afternoon and met a lady in the stake center who really excited him about finishing high school and preparing to work. He is also excited about the idea of serving a mission. Then on Saturday we met him at the stake center again for stake conference. He showed up in his brand new purple collared shirt that he bought for church. :) The theme of the conference was? Self reliance.
He really loved it, partly because he understood a little bit about the theme, and also because a speaker gave a talk with Nephi references. So J totally understood and picked up on those references. He loved hearing from President Kusch too.
He came again on Sunday on his own and really liked the messages from the special broadcasted conference by Elder Neal A Anderson and other general authorities. It was a conference only for Cuernavaca, Mexico City and Pechuca. It was about several themes. One of the quotes by him:
"Sacrifice is giving up something good for something better."
We arrived to church with L and her husband R (refer to old emails about them). They really really enjoyed it. We brought a little bit of chocolate to keep happy, and a coloring book for their little son. :)
As we finished the meeting, we saw Ml at church too! Ml is an awesome investigator who is taking lessons with his mom [Mm]. He arrived a little bit late, but came on his own. And enjoyed and comprehended what he listened to. HUGE fan of that kid.
Later we went by his house to visit him and to teach the Plan of Salvation. He said he shared the gospel with a few of his coworkers and is really loving what he is learning from the Book of Mormon. He is also in second Nephi!!!!! WHAT. It feels like we just started teaching him. While we were talking, I had a strange thought come to my head: "I wonder if Ml thinks we're weird as missionaries. We kind of just show up at his house to teach him, see him at church and then just disappear. I bet he's curious about that".
Then we ended with a prayer, and he asked about conference. "What does it mean to be a 24 hour missionary. Is that what you two are? I just have a lot of questions about what you do as missionaries."
We asked him, "Have you been thinking about serving a mission?"
"Well, I have actually. I would like to be a missionary"
AHHHH... My companion and I couldn't help but beam. It was so great to hear!!!!
We also have been teaching an older investigator named E. She is also reading the Book of Mormon. She read the introduction this week and is beginning chapter one of Nephi. She told us, I'm trying to go through it carefully to understand it all. She explained to us perfectly all the things she read about, then she offered a beautiful prayer to end the lesson.
My companion told me something that I think is a critical lesson from these wonderful people. She said, "These examples just show that it doesn't matter how fast or slow you read the Book of Mormon. It changes people..as long as you are diligent you continue to progress."
The Book of Mormon is essential to enduring conversion. It is really important to be diligent. The amount or depth of our understanding or conversion isn't the question, it is the integrity we have to the truths that we do know. That is the key.
It has been a really great week. I am learning a lot from the people that surround me - my companion is THE BEST!!!!! Hna Guevara and Salazar are champs, and the members, the investigators and other missionaries have taught me so much and are teaching me so much.
I am having a blast here!!! I am loving life :)
Hope you all have a wonderful week! Take good care of the investigators that come to church and give lots of references to the missionaries :)
Hermana Fernelius

Week 44! "Spiderman"

From 11/10/14

Hola Family and Friends,

How are all of you? How did your week go?

We had a good week here! Hermana C had her 9 month mission birthday!! WOO! It's crazy how fast the time goes by! This week we've also found a few new investigators this past week who are great!

We went looking for an investigator but he wasn't home so we talked to the neighbor instead. His name is A and is about 30 years old. We spoke with him for a minute at the door and invited him to be baptized. He accepted and we set an appointment to return to teach him. We invited him to church and left.

Yesterday at our branch council, the President came in and said, "Sisters, A came! He is waiting in the sacrament room."

At first we were a little confused of who he was because we had only spoken with him for ten minutes days before. We weren't expecting to see him at church, but he came! We immediately had a member sit with him and he took care of A all three hours. So cool!

Later we passed by his house to try to teach him at home. His brother came out and told us that he wasn't home. We spoke with him about the church and he said, "Oh, you're from the church that he went to today? He was in a hurry to go this morning but I didn't know where he went to."

We set a return appointment to come and teach him. What a champ! We are excited to start teaching A soon. After church, Hna C and I were talking about how that showed us that the Lord is in charge of this work. He knows who's ready, and we are just a small part of helping them understand the gospel.

We met another man this week who is the best. O was sweeping outside his house and we were close by, waiting to meet up with a member. We felt like we should talk to him.

We asked if we could help him sweep up, and he said (almost without break), No thank you, who are you? We introduced the church to him and that we are missionaries. He told us that about 10 years before, two elders gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon, but that he didn't have it any more. We gave him a copy right then and invited him to read from the beginning. He asked many questions about it.

Omar then sat down right next to us and told us about how he is struggling currently with a lot of anxiety. It was a problem that he struggled with for a few years. He sought treatment from psychiatrists and had controlled it for some time. A little while ago, he was let go from work without reason. That triggered his anxiety again to the point where he is constantly restless. He can't rest, and he says that he hasn't been able to find peace. He wants to learn more about God. He has heard much from many different religions throughout these years and he says that they have all left him confused. His biggest question has been about God.

I really felt for him. And I am so excited that we can begin teaching him soon!

L [the investigator that was hesitant to marry her boyfriend in last week's email] is progressing, but we have run into this divorcing problem. Her boyfriend has to get a divorce before she can marry him. We talked about her situation with a few ward members, two of which are lawyers; one is a judge. They have all said the same thing. R and his separated wife have to be in agreement to get a divorce, and it is expensive to do so.

Normally, the absolute lowest rate someone can get to start and complete the divorce is 20,000 pesos. That is a LOT of money. And it takes a lot of time. :(

This is beginning to seem really complicated and this is hard for us because L is so ready for baptism. Her next decision would be to separate from her boyfriend and live alone - but they have a child together and she doesn't work. That is also extremely complicated. I was just wondering if you could all keep her in your prayers so that this situation can work out. IT IS POSSIBLE! :)

When we were talking about this whole situation, I remembered what Laman and Lemuel said after seeing the angel in 1 Nephi. How can we get the plates from Laban? He can command 50 and can slay 50, then why not us? Then Nephi replied  "And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands? Therefore let us go up."

It's just cool. With faith and a little effort, this divorce isn't impossible even if everyone says it is. If L really does need to get baptized, it's possible. The Lord will provide a way.

And J is just the greatest kid ever. We taught him this week and he told us that he is currently in 2 Nephi. 2 Nephi people. Only after two weeks of teaching him. He told us that he prays three times a day: once before reading the Book of Mormon, once after reading, and just before going to bed at night. He's had several dreams at night that explain to him what he doesn't understand while he's reading. He came to church again on his own. He's going to be baptized the 29th of November. :')

He has a nose ring too that the elders were concerned about. The very next lesson they wanted to tell J before they were transferred was about removing it. But they didn't. They were special changed and had to leave asap. Well, when we went to see J this week he said, "I'm not sure if you've noticed or not, but I have a nose ring. Well, every night when I pray, I promise the Lord that on the day of my baptism I will take it out."

Whhaaaa? We didn't even say anything about it. He already knew. It was something really small and maybe insignificant, but it showed his faith and desire to change.

We had a great week!

Sorry this letter is short. I tried to send a few photos to make up for it. Life is well! Please keep our investigators in your prayers and also Sister Guevara and Sister Salazar. We love you all and pray for you everyday. Thank you for your prayers and love and support.

Con Mucho Amor,

Hermana Fernelius

See! The bread is so special that I took another photo with it at a members house for comida.

This photo is one of my favorites. Hermana C was looking at my scriptures one morning during our studies and asked how long I have had my scriptures. If I remember right, I think I was about 10 or 11 years old. She was surprised that when I was younger I took pretty good care of it. She then went to pull out her scriptures. When she was younger, Hna C thought that Joseph Smith's first vision was the cat's meow, so she decided it would be important to highlight THE ENTIRE SECTION. heehee. Then she showed me some other priceless side notes she's included through the years. Her scriptures are truly awesome.

This is around the time of the day of the dead. They are serious about this holiday!

This is a special bread that they only make this time of year.

Got pictures with some of my favorites!! And no, I don't know what's on my skirt either [in the next photo].

Meet Hermana Guevara and Hermana Salazar! They are currently living with us in our home and are supporting us here. They are awesome! We are grateful to have them here in our area. They make a difference.

...then we have another beautiful reaction after seeing a softball sized spider. Not really. But it seemed that big. 
Funny story. So Hermana C and I are fascinated by all things creepy crawly slimy and weird (if you couldn't already tell). Yesterday we met a very nice gentleman in the street who presented us to his grandchildren so that we could share the gospel with them. Well, they weren't interested, so we left them with a folleto and walked back out of the alleyway. Where HE AQUÍ [BEHOLD] we found a gorgeous spider on the way out. Okay, that spider was seriously pretty and scary at the same time.
We decided to check it's "Spidey" reflexes, and we put a leaf in it's super strong web. It lightning fast ran and attacked it, and it gave us the chills. haha.
So we let it hang out and we were about to leave when all of a sudden we hear someone come out of the house right behind us. There was a very angry man that told us to leave the spider alone. He said, "Can't you see that it's special?!"
Us.... O.O
"THAT is not from around here. It's Japanese."
We felt very very uncomfortable. We apologized and tried to soften the blow by asking him questions about it. Like, "wow, that's amazing. Sorry we didn't know, how did it get here from Japan?"
"I dunno".
"It seems like you take interest in this kind of thing, have you studied a little bit about it?"
We made him a little more defensive: "I have taken the initiative to care for it myself, and I have cared for it for a while y lo cuido BASTANTE." 
I still feel bad about the whole thing. As we left, he said, "and if you couldn't tell, its spider web is golden."
It was. It was beautiful. Every time we pass that alleyway, we have a moment of silence to remember the day we offended Spiderman. Seriously. When we're back home from our missions, if you ever want us to squirm a bit, remind us of this story. haha
Before getting my hair cut - the after isn't so great, so we'll just leave it at that. :)

Week 43! "Halloween is Spooky Here Too!"

From 11/3/14


Feliz Día de Muertos! And Halloween too! Mi gente aquí celebran los dos. So that basically means that we celebrated Halloween for three days straight. My companion and I both agree that the best time to visit Mexico is from Sept to November. There are beautiful traditions that they celebrate here in Mexico. We have yet to see how a Mexican Christmas is, but I'm sure that it is another holiday rich with traditions.

From what I understand, here is a run down of how Día de Muertos goes:

One Catholic Church tradition here is that they encourage their members to create an altar for their deceased ancestors where they place an offering for the dead. Normally the offering is flowers, candles, pan (bread) de muertos, and the favorite food/drink of the dead laid out. Many create a pathway of flowers from the door outside to the altar for the dead to find their way to the offering inside. In the cemeteries on November 2nd, people place more offerings on the headstones and play music, eat and party there. :) Party is also called pachanga. Children dress up in costumes of skulls and the dead and go house to house. People give them fruit, candy, and bread as a treat. It's different [than what we do] but the same. It's really cool.

Halloween was the first night here that it actually felt like Autumn back home. Seasons don't exist here, it's summer or spring year round. But Halloween was spooky :) It was dark, windy, cold, and the moon was out. It felt like just like Fall!

Other random tidbits:
  • A less active member gave us a drink called Ponche. You pronounce it just like it's written. Ponche is Punch. Homemade fruit punch. It's probably not very healthy. She told us that she made it by caramelizing fruit, pineapple, apple, pear, cranberries, oranges, guayaba, and raisins, in sugar. Then she added juice from those fruits, and I think some more sugar. BUT IT WAS REALLY GOOD. 
  • Enchiladas are super easy to make and happen to be my favorite. I will make it when I return!! That and pozole. That stuff is REAL good. 
  • I have eaten chicken feet. Once, and never again. Put that on the list of fried pig skin, cow stomach, cow head, and I think I ate goat one time too. YUMMY
  • We contacted a reference from the mission offices. When we received the reference of this man, the elders told us, "P is super escogido! He's going to accept a baptismal date and be a great investigator! Go visit him, he's excited to learn more." We went to the address of this man's house 2 times and he was never there. We went again this week and a bunch of awkwardness went down. We enter the business and a woman addresses us. "What do you need?" A man was sitting behind her and I assumed that it was P. "Hi we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We received a reference for someone named P who lives here and wants to know more about our message." Then, from behind the woman, the man straight up tells his wife, "digales que no estoy" or "tell them I'm not here". My face--> :O It was really awkward from there because I guess he thought that we didn't understand Spanish that well. Buuut.. we do, so it was weird getting out of that situation. It was the equivalent of knocking on someone's door, then hearing them say 'go away, no one's home'...but in person....right in front of him. Joy! 
  • Tuesday all the missionaries in our stake got together for our seasonal shots to prevent the flu! Yay. I am currently dealing with sickness right now as a result from the shot. Ironic right?
Truth be told, Hermana C and I had a really awesome week. Like awesome. It was exhausting, but when we look back, we are super happy. We've been working with the missionaries in our area and have had a blast! The companionships here have been working hard and we see changes in the branch because of their efforts. This Sunday we had 6 investigators in church and we were missing 4! It was so wonderful to see these individuals at church because it means that they really are repenting and preparing for their baptisms. It was especially awesome because L and her husband came!! :) I will write a little more about them below:

Monday night we went to L's house to teach her the next commandment of the law of chastity. As we began our lesson with a prayer, the first comment she said to us was, "I'm not getting married! That's what is going to keep me from getting baptized. I accept everything. I will follow every commandment. I will do everything, but I can't get married."

She commented to us in past lessons that she's afraid of marriage because every marriage she knows has fallen apart and ended in divorce. Even in her own family with her sisters. On the other hand, her friends that are unmarried live happily and don't fight or have strong challenges in their relationships. She really loves her boyfriend and she loves her family. She's expressed great interest and a strong testimony in eternal families, she really wants that too. So it was kind of funny because she said no to it and then told us, I know I need to. I know it's the right way to live. I know that God will bless me for be married to my boyfriend. He actually wants to marry her too.

Hermana C and I knew that we might have to teach this commandment a little more clearly to L in order for her to make a clear decision too. 

The morning before her lesson, as companions we talked about the real reason why we obey the law of chastity. We do that a lot.  We prayerfully try to answer the why? to commandments as if we were investigators too. Hermana C said some awesomeness that I probably won't write correctly. She said, it's not just a temporal law on physical chastity. God has given each one of us a part of His procreative power that enables us to work with Him and our spouse to bring spirits into this world. We reverence and protect this gift from God by keeping His divine laws that govern it. This is a part of who we can be and what we can do in the Celestial Kingdom with the blessings of eternal families there. It really is so much more than a 'rule' in the church.

We really felt that as we taught L, and she herself expressed her desire to be married to her husband. AHH :)) She has accepted every commandment we have taught her. She is the COOLEST.

Our lesson with her this week on tithing and fasting was also really awesome. Then this Sunday-yesterday- she came to church! With her boyfriend, R! And her son! Ahhh!! She is a tom boy, but she got all slicked up and her boyfriend too. It was so cool to see their family altogether. J, her son, had a fun time in nursery. He's 3 years old and had a blast which made his parents very happy. [All the stuff you do in nursery matters dad! :) It helped a family feel more welcome at church!]. We taught them all together later Sunday afternoon and invited R to be baptized. He accepted also. L was so happy! :)

We've also started teaching a less active family, and they came to church this Sunday!! The first time I saw the brother of this family, I freaked out a little. He looks JUST like Matthew. Yup, so I've found Amy here (hna P), Benjamin, and now Matthew. Just about every companion reminds me of Tiffany, entonces there's that. We are going to teach this family again tonight in about an hour. His wife is not a member of the church but came yesterday with their baby! We are really excited to teach them!

What else...there's so much I don't know what to say. We went to teach an investigator, Ml and his mom, Mm on Saturday. Ml had a few friends over when we came by who were drinking and smoking. We spoke with his mom for a minute until Ml could come in and talk with us. Hermana C said, I think that we should teach him about the Word of Wisdom (which is a commandment on physical and spiritual health), but I wasn't sure how we would do that because this was the second formal lesson with them.

The first lesson, we try to introduce the gospel, our purpose as missionaries and invite them to be baptized. The next lesson usually focuses on the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. BUT we rolled with it according to our plan that morning. We talked about the commitment we had left with them before and shared the video of the restoration. Then we talked about how they felt. In not so many words, Ml told us that he knew the church was true and his mom also. The Spirit was present in that room and it was so neat to hear how their testimonies are growing. We then introduced the word of wisdom. Because they recognized their own testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, they committed to obeying this law of health.

It was neat to hear them make goals themselves of how to stop drinking coffee, tea, alcohol and smoking. The mom said, wow, I drink coffee in the morning, at lunch, and at night, but I think I can reduce it to 1 cup a day. After that I can go without drinking. I'll just tell myself that my headaches aren't from not drinking coffee. I'll just tell myself that I'm fine, and I'll be okay. :)

This week I've been able to see how the gospel truly changed lives. Knowing who and whose we are changes our lives. Maybe I wasn't the best missionary back home to my friends and family, but I hope that maybe one person will have the desire and courage to talk to the missionaries of the church and open their hearts to hear the good news of the gospel.

I know that my Redeemer lives. I know the church has been restored through the prophet Jospeh Smith. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's authorized servant and representative on the earth today and that he leads and directs us through revelation from the Lord.

I am grateful for prayer. We can know for ourselves of the truthfulness of these things by offering a sincere prayer, just like Joseph Smith did. And like him, our prayers will also be answered. Our lives can improve, our happiness can be enduring, our faith can be strengthened and the love of our Heavenly Father has for us can abound in our hearts.

I love my Savior and I will forever be grateful for His atoning sacrifice for me. Alma 29:10 is what I feel when others accept the gospel, and I felt that this week as I watched many partake of the sacrament for the first time:

"And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me."

I hope you all have a wonderful week. LOVE YOU ALL :)

Con Amor,

Hermana Fernelius
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Week 42! "A Week of Many Blessings!"

From 10/27/14

Hola Family and Friends!!!!

:D <<<---- This is how I feel!!! I'm so happy about everything this week. Don't even know where to begin. Sorry if this is scrambled.

We went to a member’s house and asked about less active members that we could visit. She mentioned a sister named A de la Caña. She’s relatively young and hasn’t come for some time. We decided to stop by her house during the week and get to know her. Well, later that day we went out with a member of the church named G. We were on our way to an appointment and had to walk down a HUGE bajada. That word is just to say going downhill. I wrote it in Spanish so I wouldn’t have to write it in English, and now I just wrote a lot more to explain that. But now you all know that when I write bajada, it means descent or down hill. AHEM.

So we walked down a HUGE bajada with G and passed a young lady and her son. G turned to us and said, she’s a member go talk to her! Hurry before she leaves. We inconspicuously ran back up the hill to talk to her. (uphill-subida)

We introduced ourselves and said, “Sorry, we are new and are trying to get to know the area. G said that you are a member! What is your name?”

She said “I’m L. I’ve been a member for most of my life, but I just haven’t gone in a while.”

We asked if we could go to her home and talk more later in the week. She passed us her information. Her name was very familiar…de la caña. Turns out she is A’s sister. UH. WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT YOU!!... incredible! Two members subconsciously helped us to meet a member who is ready to come back to church. For 6 weeks I have never heard about her then the same day two members helped us find her. Our lesson with her was great! She has a powerful testimony and really desires to be sealed with her husband and baby boy. Way too cool.

Mm and Ml are also super cool. When I come home I will have to tell the story because there’s not much time today and I always forget to write the next week. But they are just so prepared. I included a little bit below.

Also, fun fact. Hermana C and I are in the largest Colonia in all of this area. It's super dangerous. At least that's what we've heard. But nothing ever really happens to us. Just creepy men and religious fanatics that don't really like us. We get the occasional borracho, but things are just normal. There's only ever danger for sister missionaries, if 1) we are disobedient or 2) we don't pay attention to the Spirit. (There is a 3) and that is that we are supposed to learn something). But what I've learned is that there are a lot of angels that protect us.

The case is a little different for elders. Because they have the Priesthood, I feel like they really face darkness head on. The elders that have been working in our area have had a lot of crazy experiences. Like. CRAZY. (<--Dad's comment about using excess periods in his email really made me laugh. . . . . . ) They have had some pretty close encounters this week---and let me be clear. These elders are awesome, hard workers, obedient. That shows that even when we are doing the best we can, we still face opposition.

The missionaries here are awesome. I've learned a lot from each one of them. Especially from my own companion. I LOVE HERMANA C. Sister and Brother C, thank you for sending your daughter on a mission. I wish you could see and hear how powerfully she teaches. Her love and testimony of the Lord is evident in all that she does. She talks so highly of her family and is a big example to me. But really. Her testimony is incredible. She's brought a life and energy to this area. I have learned so much from her these past few days together, but really I've looked up to her since we knew each other in one of my previous areas. I'm so blessed with each companion. Every one is so different and AWESOME.

"We seriously had a wonderful week!! Every day was full of blessings and tender mercies. I’m going to jump right to the good stuff. Our branch president is so happy. He is so excited about the work that we are doing! It’s the first time I’ve seen him a little relieved during my time here. All the branch members are noticing a special spirit and energy of missionary work. I think that for a long while our members have been sleeping a bit. There are many who have let their testimonies weaken and have put other things before God. We’ve seen less active members get excited about coming to church again. They might be few, but that is significant!

Since I arrived here with Hermana H, I’ve been praying for a miracle. Something that would wake the members up. Something that would reignite the light and excitement in our branch leadership. Something different that would kick start the work again. Having even more wonderful missionaries in our area was a direct answer to those prayers. Heavenly Father has a plan for everything. Men can’t frustrate His work and glory. It’s so awesome. I know that the Lord must have a miraculous plan for the instant that those missionaries return to their areas. He is preparing the people, the members, and us too to work there. I love it.

An assignment our branch president has given us is to ‘clean’ the ward lists. There are roughly 400 members on those lists and there is little follow up that the ward has made with those members; so we’ve all been working on locating each member and on finding and teaching in the process. One day all of our appointments fell through (you know what I’ve learned? Those days actually turn out to be the best :)) and we decided to go looking for members on that street from our list.

The hunt began! We walked past a house. It sounded familiar, so we stopped and said to each other, 'check your list, I think #52 is on there.' We returned to that house and knocked on the door. A young man came to the door and asked who we were looking for. We asked if the family O lived there. He told us that no one by that name lived there. He presented himself and said that his name was actually J O [same last name] too, but that he had no relation with the members we mentioned. We asked him if he had heard about the church before. He was unfamiliar at first but then recognized the word ‘Mormon’.

He said, ‘I have a copy of that book.’

How did you receive a copy? We had asked. Through friends, family, or other missionaries?

He said that before his mom passed away, she gave him a video on the life of Jesus Christ. From watching that video from the church, he looked up more about it on the internet. From there, he found the Book of Mormon online Wikipedia and began to read.

He said, I’ve never gone to your church before because I didn’t know where it was.

Hermana C gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and we asked if we could return that same day to teach him. He committed to read the Restoration pamphlet before our first appointment.

That afternoon we were on divisions, so Hna S and C went to see him. He had read the pamphlet, started reading the Book of Mormon, and was waiting anxiously by the door for them to arrive. He accepted the Restoration completely, accepted baptism, committed to come to church, and even commented to the sisters that he wants to serve a mission!!!! YAY! We asked the elders to pass by for him during the week and they really got him excited too. A recent convert/less active member who lives close by is really excited to go with the missionaries to meet J. They are the same age too. It’s such a miracle.

Last Sunday, a member family from one of my old wards came to church with their non-member mom and brother [Mm and Ml previously referred to]. Running into them is a miracle in itself. We took photos with them because we all recognized that it was no coincidence running into them. We met their family and scheduled to teach them Saturday.

Saturday came, we went to our appointment with them. They are so humble and prepared to hear the gospel. They accepted a baptismal date, committed to come to church and especially to pray. We read from Moroni 10:4& 5 and the brother, Ml, paused after reading the scripture. He sat pondering on it and said,  'That’s exactly how I feel, I guess I need to ask God to know if it’s really true'.

It was SO amazing! They both came to church and so did J. Another superstar couple came to church yesterday. They are also investigating. During our Principles of the Gospel class, all four of them participated, shared their testimonies and asked questions. Their responses left us without words. They are so prepared.

It has been a week of many blessings. We are excited to continue to find and teach and hope to truly catch the vision of why our Heavenly Father has called all the missionaries in our mission to labor for a time in Morelos. We are grateful for this opportunity to serve!"

LOVE YOU ALL. Have a wonderful week. Count your blessings each day. There are so many reasons to be happy and smile.

Con Amor,

Hermana Fernelius

P.S. Tiffany: My comp and I were planning on doing the SAME thing in concrete on the cement outside our apartment. We wanted to leave our hand prints in Mexico. P.P.S. We gave a piñata as a gift to a sister missionary that just had her birthday this week. Stop taking our ideas. haha just joking. :)