Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Semana 2 en Mexico!! "Investigator 'O' Accepts Date"

From 1/20/14

Hi family and friends!!

I always say this but today I don't have much time. haha I'm currently in Tepoztlan with my companion, two other sisters, and two elders. It´s about an hour and a half from my area. We've had a lot of fun today!! I wrote out a few thoughts before coming so I will try to write them out. As always the mission is wonderful. This week we have laughed so much in our companionship and have had super beautiful experiences too! I love laughing! Hna P is super fun and even when we have disappointing moments, it always turns into a good experience or a good lesson. :)

First off, the good stuff. Our investigator "O" [the 16 year old who sought us out] has a baptismal date for February 22!!!!! Since we first met him, which has only been about 2 weeks now, he's been going to seminary, mutual, young men's activities and church both Sundays. He told us last week that he wants to serve a mission. {Cue jaw drop}...He is SO prepared for the gospel.

His family is Catholic and his grandma (whom he lives with) threatened to kick him out of the house if he chooses to be baptized. He told my companion and me that even though it would be hard to not have the support of his family, he would trade all of his old life to have the gospel in his life now. He says he's changed since he first started coming to church. He's felt so much joy and happiness.

Saturday night we ran into him and my companion asked him, Do you know that the church is true? He said yes. He even broke up with his girlfriend who is Catholic and is opposed to him being baptized.

He is such an example to me. To give up everything to have even a part of the joy he feels in his life now, because of the gospel. It reminded me just now of King Lamoni's father, who said that he would give away all his sins to know God. I love that. It fills me with such joy to see him progress day by day and so quickly now too. I just love seeing how the teachings of the Savior and the Plan of Salvation actually and literally changes lives. It's amazing!! 

Below I pasted the letter I wrote this week to President Kusch...sorry if it's a little impersonal but it talks about an investigator we met last week:

"This week has been great! Hna. P and I try to contact 10 people everyday, and we have found many individuals who are interested in learning more about the gospel in this way. Earlier in the week, we contacted a man selling ice cream and offered a Restoration pamphlet. He was really kind to us and invited us to teach him more about the gospel.

On Friday we taught him about the Restoration and of the Book of Mormon. I was so impressed by how much he understood of the scriptures and the life of Jesus Christ. He says that God has helped him so much in his life and even now, when he is struggling financially, he knows that God is still watching over him. We invited him to be baptized and he willingly committed to it. He told us that he had already made commitments to spend this past Sunday with his family, but that he will come next week.

There was a very sweet spirit in his home as we met with him. He offered the final prayer and prayed for us as missionaries and thanked Heavenly Father for sending us to him. I was really touched by that experience. I left feeling more edified and uplifted than when we first entered. It felt kind of unusual talking to him as an investigator because by the way he spoke he sounded like a  member already!

This man really has been prepared by Heavenly Father to receive the gospel. Hna P and I did nothing more than open our mouths to say hi, but it's so beautiful and merciful that the Lord allows us to have those experiences regardless of our own incapabilities and weaknesses. 

I really love this area and the members here. They are so good and have righteous desires to serve Heavenly Father. The members take really good care of us; I'm trying to keep up with Hna P ;) by learning faces and names and places. It's really important to build that trust with the members because we are trying to take members with us more to lessons. They bring a powerful spirit with them and their testimonies and life experiences really help our investigators and less active members. 

My Spanish is so-so but I am really trying to talk as much as possible to learn quicker. Many times I have no idea what to say when we contact, but, I open my mouth and the words come. It is amazing! Those experiences really strengthen my faith. I know that if we trust our Father in Heaven and exercise even the smallest particle of faith, that's enough to Him, and He will make up the rest and pour out blessings for trying. 

This past Sunday was also a miracle and such a  special experience for me. Rewind to last Sunday: there were SO few members at church. Like 40 max. Everyone had to participate in church! Then on Sunday (19/1), when we first arrived, Hna P and I felt a little disheartened because a few of our investigators weren't there. Throughout the first few minutes more people slowly trickled in. More and more started coming into the chapel all throughout the meeting. By the time the first talk started, 4 investigators came to church and sat with us!! Many less active members also went! I felt so so happy! It was the neatest experience and I hope that many more less active members will return to church also. I prayed so hard during church that the investigators and less actives would have good experiences so they would want to return next week! haha.

The Lord has blessed us with many great experiences. We laugh a lot in our companionship, and we feel a lot of joy in serving the people here. I've really loved this week, full of good, funny, sometimes awkward, but always wonderful experiences!"

Okay so there's that. haha. Now for the last bit here are some interesting things that have happened:
1) NO ONE CAN PRONOUNCE MY LAST NAME. Not even the white people, which is obviously super depressing. So I've stopped introducing my last name the way it actually sounds.. Fernelius is pronounced like this fur-knee-lee-us, but in Spanish I am now, fehr-nehl-ee-oos. :( I have accepted it though. The mission changes you in more than one way haha.
2) An investigator, Diana, commented that Hna P and I look like sisters because we have similar facial features and I guess just look alike! haha. Then when we contacted on the street, someone was talking to us super duper fast about the gospel without hardly breathing, and then suddenly stopped, looked us Hna P, then at me and said, are you two sisters? Hna P and I looked at each other for a second, shrugged our shoulders and said, yeah yeah we are. Complete with poker face and all. And then he went on talking super fast again. Que raro.
3) The roads are like cobblestone in our area. Sometimes it's like a foot massage as you walk on the streets. But most of the time, it just hurts and makes it hard to walk. haha
4) Related to number 3, every single day Hna P and I trip while walking. She always trips first during the day when we walk, then she looks at me like, it's your turn next. Watch out. And sure enough later on in the day, I trip too. Today I made fun of Hna P because she tripped on the sidewalk, but then sudden horror filled my soul when I realized I was next. Well today, we visited Tepoztlan and a huge Catholic church in the area that was open to visitors. We walked in and felt horrible. I was so ready to leave, but the sisters wanted to look around, so I had to wait. Then as we were leaving I tripped SO HARD on the way out. But like, SO hard. The elders and my companion saw, and we just laughed about forever. The cursed tripping. Every day. haha. 
5) The equivalent of 'cool' in Mexico is 'padre'. How cool! = ¡Que padre! They say 'este' & 'pues' a lot. So much that it hurts.
6) Final fun fact for dad, I showered the first week here in ice cold water. I dealt with it like a champ, but my companion felt bad for me (I think she heard the screams in the morning) so we heated water in a pot on the stove, and in the microwave, and filled a small bucket with water. We then proceeded to use a cup to rinse, lather, and rinse again. Exactly like dad said. I thought that was funny! Right now we have warm water though :) yay me! Also for dad, I write my 7's and Z's with a line through it, like he said. I left my gospel books at the airport because I didn't have room, and I prefer writing in a spiral notebook instead of my bound leather journal. Parents are ALWAYS right ,)

Well, I love you all. I have lots of photos to send you but it's hard with these computers here. It takes too long to load. I don't know what photo the mission office sent you but I hope it wasn't too bad haha.

 I know that this church is true. The Savior of the world changes lives if we let Him in. I know that it's important to read the scriptures every day, to pray sincerely even if's it's a simple prayer and to go to church to partake of the sacrament.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Lots of love and prayers coming your way :)

Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius 
Monday, January 20, 2014

Primer Semana en Mexico!! [Week 1!] "Investigator 'O'"

From 1/13/14

Hi friends and family!!! I'm here in Mexico and the keyboards are weird and I don{t have much time. Double whammy. But just know that I am safe and doing well!

After a whirlwind change of plans last week to come to Mexico and so many changes, I am in Cuernavaca. I arrived Thursday night at about 5 or 6 pm. All along the way traveling here, the Lord really really blessed us. Little miracles with every turn. I travelled with two beautiful Hermanas from my Zone at the MTC to Mexico City. Their Spanish is super good so they knew exactly where to go and who to talk to. We ran into the AP elders from my mission who were there to pick me up. We also met the mission president for the Mexico City East Mission. TAMBIEN, I ran into another Sister from my Zone at the airport by an incredible 'coincidence' which really wasn't. It was such a tender mercy to feel welcomed and supported on every hand by people I love so much.

My elders and I took off and met up with President y Hermana Kusch at the airport and we took off to the offices in Cuernavaca. It is about an hour and a half drive from Mexico City to the mission office, but with President Kusch driving, it took like an hour hahaha.

OKay, so first of all, Mexico City is huge and busy and amazing and soo vibrant. There's tons of people, probably about 10 per square foot. haha. Not kidding though it's like the New York City of Mexico on steroids. As we left the city and began driving into Cuernavaca, the temperature dropped and felt AMAZING. We actually drove through a forest to enter Cuernavaca. There are TREES EVERYWHERE. Beautiful trees and flowers and vegetation and life right in the middle of the city. Trees grow through the sidewalks here and break up the walkways with the roots. Oh wow, but really it is gorgeous here in a way that is beautiful to me. I immediately felt comfortable here. It's still foreign to me as far as the people, food and culture, but the Lord has helped me feel at peace.

I am currently serving in Cuernavaca about 15 minutes away from the mission office and mission home. What what!! My companion is Hermana P. She's 19 and one of three in her family. Her older sister served a mission and is now home and married, and her older brother is almost finished with his mission. She's been out for about 4 months now and is fantastic. BUT REALLY. She's super chill and really kind. She has a really special spirit about her and understands the needs of the hearts of the people she serves. I am so grateful to be here with her. What an incredible person she is. She eats a TON too--she's itty bitty but can pack a ton of food haha. She eats what I can't...but that also reminds me that I have yet to struggle to eat the food here.

Saturday I ate my first plate of beans like. a. champ. I prayed really hard beforehand and took a photo to show you all as proof!!!! haha. I really really love it here already I know that I am here for a reason. A few other interesting things:

1) THERE ARE DOGS EVERYWHERE. Every kind you can possibly imagine. Also there are butterflies everywhere. They constantly remind me of mom and dad too. Then I think about the whole family and I love that. A massive white butterfly followed my companion and me yesterday as we walked, then it stopped flying next to a gentleman who was watching soccer in a field. I felt like I should talk to him so we did and gave him a pamphlet with info about our beliefs, and he accepted and was excited about it. That was really neat. When we finished talking, the butterfly reappeared (haha) and went the opposite way from us.

2) There are no traffic laws. There are no such things as pedestrians, it's every man for himself. Crazy.

3) So many less active members. This is definitely a reactivating mission. President Kusch said that if every member of the church in our mission were active, we could have 15 new stakes. STAKES. That's a lot of people. There's a lot of work to do!

4) Hills, everywhere. Legs. dead. Bags=super heavy. Back=dead also. I am trying to be really careful though and take care of myself, healthwise :) I have felt much more energy than I could normally have on my own.

Another AMAZING experience which truly shows that the field is white already to harvest and that the Lord is preparing His children: Friday my compaƱera and I were walking down a street after visiting a less active member, and a young man approached us. His name is "O" and he is 16 years old.

He called us out as we were walking and said, hey you are missionaries right? Mormons? We started talking to him and he said he wanted to know more about our church. His family is Catholic, but he says he wanted to know more. O said that he doesn't have good friends, they mess around, and drink and smoke and do all kinds of things that he doesn't agree with. He said also that he wants to know others that will be good friends to him.

I tried not to stare with my mouth hanging open at what was happening but I was really shocked that he approached us wanting to know more. We spoke with him and invited him to church and he said he would be there fosho.

Hna P and I prayed for him everyday. Sure enough he showed up to church on Sunday, alone, but really excited to be there. He even brought the pamphlet we gave him about the restoration. He stayed all three hours of church and got to know the young men of the ward. And this week he is going to go to mutual and then to a stake dance for the young men and women.

Before the dance on Friday we are going to teach the first lesson with him and another young man in the ward who just received his mission call. We'll see how everything goes, but I have a really great feeling about O. He is so humble and prepared to hear the word of God.

SO so so many great things have happened this week and I hope you all know that I love you and I'm grateful for you and your letters. I'm so sorry if I don't get a chance to write back but I received them and I love them so thank you!!

I have witnessed this week how much the Lord loves His children and that we are constantly in His watchcare. Always always always. He has a way prepared for each of us to be happy even among our trials.

There's a story in the Book of Mormon where Alma and the Nephites were persecuted for praying and were even threatened with their lives if they continued worshiping aloud. The Lord answered their prayers not by taking away their burdens but by strengthening their backs to carry the load they had been given.

Sometimes it's that way in life. We plead and pray for our circumstances to change, but maybe the point is pray to know what we can learn from our situation and difficulties, temptations, and trials. God knows. He wants what's best for us and will never leave us. Continue to pray to Him always with sincerity and even the smallest particle of faith and He will help you.

Much love Family and Friends. I hope you all have a wonderful week!!

Con amor,

Hermana Fernelius

"Welcome Letter From President Kusch"

From January 13, 2014 

Dear Fernelius Family,

We are happy to let you know that your daughter has arrived safe and sound in the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission. She has been assigned to serve in (an area) in Cuernavaca. Her trainer is Sister "P". We are grateful to be able to serve with her in the work of the Lord.

This will be a time of much service and work that will bring growth and learning for your daughter. We hope that her experience here will strengthen her testimony and prepare her to be a good wife, mother and future leader in the church. Her experiences in the mission field will contribute to her development as a faithful and righteous servant of the Lord.

Your love and support will do much to lift and bless your missionary. We hope you will write her regularly, encouraging her to do her best.

Together with this letter you will find a picture that was taken the first day that Sister Fernelius was with Sister Kusch and me.

We thank you for the love and support that you will give to your daughter throughout her mission. This is the work of the Lord and each day we see evidence of that in the lives of our missionaries and those they teach. We know your family will be greatly blessed because of your daughter’s righteous missionary service.


President Bruce C. Kusch
Mexico Cuernavaca Mission

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Last Week at the MTC! "My Last DAY!"

From 1/6/14

Hi family & friends! This is going to be a pretty quick note. I was just told two hours ago that I am leaving tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 p.m. for my mission!!!! :D AHHHHHH!!!! Not much notice, so I don't really have a lot of time for my P-Day right now. I'm flying to Dallas to get my visa & from there I am going to Mexico City & mi presidente is going to pick me up from there!!!!!

President was not expecting me until February 3rd, so I thought I would be temporarily reassigned to another mission in the states until I got my visa, but huge change of plans! I am almost done packing and I still have a few things left to do.

Tiffy got here safe and sound! She is beautiful and I missed her. The funny thing is that my whole Zone was more excited to meet the 'adopted' Sister Fernelius than I thought they were and they ALL got to see her before me. Our schedules didn't line up on Wednesday so I didn't get to see her until like 8:00 PM.  But it was so special to see her. I honestly haven't spent more than 10 minutes with her at a time. We just never talk to each other or have time together. It's almost like we are back home though. It's really comfortable and fun. I love seeing her.

Heavenly Father is so kind to me! I have felt His love everyday and it's so special to be here and to have had all these amazing experiences.  In all truth, I have felt Heaven on Earth since I have been here at the MTC and I know that is so much in part to your prayers. I feel angels here. They walk with us and watch over us here. We know that they walk with our families. I can't describe the peace I feel in my heart when I think about my family and friends. I know that God is caring for you in the palm of his hands. I love you all.

One story: Sundays the MTC Presidency holds a Departure Devotional for all missionaries leaving that week. This Sunday I attended because I didn't know when I would be leaving and I am so glad that I went. The MTC President Nally spoke and then invited two missionaries to share their testimonies. After one sister bore her testimony, Pres. Nally called on another elder.

A tall, strong Samoan elder going to serve a Spanish speaking mission in a few days. He was asked to speak about his feelings on the sanctity and preciousness of life both on this side of the veil and the other. It was a very specific topic but I was not prepared for what the elder was going to say next. This elder said his mom passed away on December 27th 2013.  About 8 days before. He said that was the hardest week of his life that he had to endure. He was here at the MTC when the President called him to tell him the news of his mother's passing. When he heard the news he just kept saying over and over no, no, no, it can't be...

But he knew that he had to stay. He knew that he would see his mom again. That there are others in the world that don't have that faith that families can be eternal and that don't have that hope. What struck me the most was the strength of this elder's testimony. He didn't cry. He was resilient and had a quiet, dignified peace about him. He said, "I know my mom is here with me. And she is saying, That's my son!". He also pictures her saying "Go to work, Elder. Go to work, MTC!!" What I think is so beautiful is the confidence and faith that he had. His mom is teaching the gospel there and he is laboring here. How beautiful and powerful is that?

The Spirit was so strong as he testified that he really will see his mom again one day because of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is through Him that we can be together and happy now and forever. And you know what else? He decided to stay and serve because this church is true! It teaches the Plan of Salvation and the Doctrines of Jesus Christ that enables us to repent, to change, to become more like Him and return to live with Him one day again.

So I guess that's all this week.  Just know that I love you all. Be safe &... Mom and Dad, I will call tomorrow!!! :)))))

LOVE, <3
Hermana Fernelius

Tiffany's companion took this picture.

2nd Week at the MTC! "Sister Tiffany is on Her Way..."

From 12/31/2013

Hola familia and friends!! 

First of all, thank you so much for your letters this week. It's really a blessing to know that there is so much support and prayers offered in our behalf at the MTC. We really feel them here and I'm so grateful for each of you.  ALSO, I CAN'T BELIEVE TIFF IS COMING HERE!!!! I squealed a little from excitement when I read that, and Hermana G completely freaked out too. I am so excited to see Tiffy!!

I heard a rumor that I might be going to get my visa this week, but I haven't received any official news or itinerary for that. The truth is that I love it here and I don't mind staying here for a while. My district all thought I was crazy because I wanted to stay here. This past week they've all traveled to get their visa, my companion and Hna C got their visa in Vegas, and Hna O just traveled yesterday to get hers in Salt Lake City. Once you receive your visa, the travel itinerary to leave for your mission comes in the next few days. Typically, a person receives their visa then stays another week before leaving, but we'll see. We can only call when we are in the airport headed to the mission field, so when I receive my itinerary I will email you to let you know when to expect a phone call.

Now I'm starting to realize that maybe the Lord has allowed me to stay a little longer to see Tiffany one more time before leaving. I should definitely see her then because I'm in the only Advanced Spanish Zone on all of west campus.  We most likely won't be in the same district (class) but I will definitely see her :D YAYAYAY. As far as advice goes for her, I don't have much to say. She will get a schedule when she first arrives and it includes what you do hourly for the next week. So you'll know what's going on at all times.

It IS a bit cold here, so if Tiff is worried about that bring a coat or tights. I actually LOVE the cold. I usually walk around without my coat. All the sisters and even the elders think I'm crazy. But I don't think it's so bad. It snowed everyday the first week I was here, but right now it's been warming up a lot more. Our residence halls (apartments) are far from our class rooms. It's about a 5 min walk, so all day everyday, you'll be in and out of the class room. I love it though! Everything at the West Campus is different than Main. We spend most of our time in the class & on our campus, but when she first arrives, she may be traveling a bit for orientations and classes at the main campus, but again don't even worry about it now, because once you're here there will always be someone right there to help you.  Every Sunday & Tuesday evening we travel to main campus to have a devotional which is really great.

Okay so a watered down version of this week. So much happened it's difficult to know where to start!! Christmas day, all the missionaries on West campus spent the day at the Main Provo MTC campus. Literally, the whole day. We got there at around 8 or 9 am and had a classroom to ourselves for our whole Zone....... = party. In the morning we went to watch a missionary talent show. And wow! It was SO good. The very first performance was a MASTER violinist sister. It was incredible and the whole auditorium of missionaries stood and cheered for her. It was funny and impressive to watch different missionaries share their talents. Probably my favorite performance was the most ridiculous one. haha One elder in the program stood on the stage and balanced a glass juice bottle on his head while dancing. It was hilarious. I wish I could have taken photos! 

In the afternoon on Christmas, we had the BEST Christmas gift in the whole entire world. Elder David A. Bednar came to talk!!!!! What what! First Sister Bednar spoke about our purpose as missionaries. Then Elder Bednar spoke. He spoke for 3 minutes then stopped. He looked around and said, we are going to do something historic today. We are going to pass around 200 cell phones around the auditorium and if you have a question for me to answer, text your question to such-and-such number and I will get it on my iPad. We basically had a Q&A session with a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles. No biggie, right? The devotional was also broadcasted live to other MTCs around the world, so they also had an opportunity to email him questions and he tried to answer those also. I didn't text him because the questions he referred to were the very questions I had in my heart!
The very first question was something every one of us feels at the MTC: "Why do I feel so inadequate?" The question was in regard to our ability & capabilities as a missionary and I have felt this all day every day since I've been here. He answered with a simple, definitive statement: "You feel inadequate because you have some sense of your calling".

Wow. So powerful, so humbling, I really know that it's true though.

I realize that missionary work isn't necessarily something that is supposed to be easy or fun or comfortable for us. It's truly humbling because it really is not about us as missionaries. We are serving the Lord because we love Him and we love all of His children. I've met missionaries that are going all over the world, to every continent, to every land, language and people. Many wonder why 18 & 19 year old young men and women put their education, careers, families and relationships on hold at this time in our lives. It is because we know that God lives! We know that the gospel is true and that it brings true, enduring happiness to us and to our families and all those we love so much. We are called & desire to invite all to come unto Christ and help them receive the restored gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. No matter where we have been or where we are in our lives, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that of good news! All our burdens, guilt, pain, and feelings of inadequacy can be lifted through faith in Jesus Christ and His infinite atoning sacrifice for us.

What a privilege it is to represent Him as a witness of His divinity and extend His light and love to others. I know that Heavenly Father truly knows every one of us. He desires for us to have joy now and forever, and through His way and Plan of Happiness it can be realized. 

Talk about an uplifting devotional. It was truly a special gift to be there and listen to the testimony of an Apostle of the Lord. We later had other devotionals and activities that we watched at main campus and we got back home at about 9:30 pm. It was an exhausting but great day!

My ABSOLUTE favorite part of Christmas & just being at the MTC is the people that I'm here with. My Zone, my instructors and branch presidency and so many other missionaries that I've met. It feels like we are family here!! The elders and sisters really do feel like brothers and sisters. This week was really sad because we had to say goodbye to some of our 'family' here.

The class next door to ours, our neighbors, if you will, is a district of all elders [the only all elders district] and we are the only all sisters district, so naturally they tease us all the time, like older brothers do with their siblings. Pretty much every time they pass our door they knock on it. They don't ever need anything but they love doing anything to irritate us haha. The funniest part is that when they actually need something, they never knock they just walk in and get what they need. haha. Well we always 'tag' each others' classrooms. We gave them snowflakes that we made and they made us skull and cross bones snowflakes in return.

One of the elders has a pretty heavy Spanish accent so one time he said he just loves cheese poofs?? He was actually saying cheese puffs, but we laugh so much at the funny things he says, like seeesters instead of sisters. So a couple days ago, we bought a bag of 'cheese poofs' and decorated their room as a goodbye gift for them. We made a sign that said give them heaven, & we'll miss our noisy neighbors. haha. We also left cupcakes for our brothers. They were really surprised and happy about that.

So this past Sunday morning, we left our classroom to get breakfast and when we came back our classroom had also been 'tagged' by the elders. They went all out and decorated our ceiling, board, and left treats for us. :') It was so sweet! We really get along with our whole Zone, so all of our companionships are that fun.

Later Sunday evening, our Zone got together and we had a testimony meeting and shared the reasons why we are serving missions. The elders and sisters here all have had really incredibly hard trials in their lives. Our Zone Leader, Elder B was baptized last year and decided at 21 years old that he wanted to serve a mission. He had been a member of the Catholic Church before that, but said that he felt so much life and peace once he was baptized that he knew he wanted to share that with others on a mission.

We heard all kinds of miracle stories too.  Elder "C" told us that he and his family are really poor. He always had the desire to serve a mission, but never the financial means. Because his family struggles so much with money, he felt that he should stay and try to find work to support his family. So he said he lost the hopes of serving a mission and just started to work and save money. Well, one day he received a phone call from his bishop. His bishop told him that he had a check for $10,000 dollars for him. A family wanted to donate that for him to be able to serve a mission and not worry of the cost. Elder C wept as he told us of this miraculous experience of how he is here on a mission. He testified of how the Lord knew him and his desires and his struggles. Through the love of others, he was able to leave his family and serve knowing that the Lord would care for his family and be in His watch care.

This past Sunday was the greatest day yet at the MTC for me. We said farewell to 6 of our brothers, and another sister who is serving in the same mission as Tiffany. I told her to look for a Sister Fernelius in Quito :) It was a sweet and sad experience on Sunday to say goodbye, but I know that this is just the beginning of their missionary service & I'm excited to hear from all of the missionaries here once they enter the mission field. SO SO amazing :)

Again sorry for all the jumbled thoughts this week!

One more experience: yesterday I was struggling with a few things. It was a good but difficult day. My companion picked up on that right away, but the truth is that I didn't want to discuss it and I closed up so much. Just before I went to bed, I found a note on my pillow from her. She wrote a letter of encouragement and love for me. I was so surprised. I found it once she had already gone to sleep, but it really touched me that someone cared about me so much to do that. It reminded of charity, she expressed her love and support in a way that really strengthened me. Seriously, what did I ever do to deserve such a great companion!

In the Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:45 it says: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

She emulates charity in every way, in her speech, character, by her actions and teachings and I'm grateful for her example to me. I hope that sometime this week you might slow down a little to listen with love, to care for others, and to physically express your love for someone by doing service for them, or simply saying how much you appreciate them. I promise that if you focus on others a little more everyday, you will find such great happiness. 

Well, I love you all so much! I hope you have a great week!! :))


Hermana Fernelius :)

P.S. Sunday night I went to the main campus to watch a devotional in the auditorium with all the missionaries at the MTC. The devotional ended and as my companion and I started leaving, I ran into Elder Covel (from our ward in Vegas)!!! We took a photo that I'll try to attach today or next week. It was kind of a little miracle too because there are literally thousands of missionaries that meet at those devotionals and I was ready to go out the door, and so was Elder Covel, but we did run into each other and got to say goodbye.

He left for the mission field already, so Sunday was literally the last day I could say hi! Yay! So excited for Colin! Can't wait to hear how everything goes for him in Tennessee! ADIOS :)

1st Week at the MTC! "Getting Settled"

From 12/24/13

Hola family & friends! Merry Christmas - I hope all of you are doing well.  I miss you all.

I'm currently sitting in my district's classroom writing on the computer here. There's so much to say I hope I can give you a general idea of what's gone on this week! :) Technically, I have 60 minutes for email today so I will try to write quick. Before I forget, I wanted to let you know that we are not allowed to make a Christmas phone call tomorrow, but we are given a chance to send an email tomorrow in addition to today's. So if you want to write an email again tonight, please do!! I would love to hear from you all! *wink wink*

OKAY. So much to say... Last Wednesday was my reporting date & it was such an incredible day. In the afternoon, just before one [my reporting time] Mom, Dad, Tiffany, Amy and I were able to say our goodbyes at the Provo Utah temple. That was so special! I loved saying goodbye but at the same time, to be honest, I think I was a little in denial/completely oblivious as to what was going on. haha. I was just really ready to go the MTC, without too much thought as to what was actually transpiring. And thinking about it now, that was probably a good thing! haha
We pulled up onto the curb of the MTC, where a huge line of Elders were there to assist missionaries with their luggage & to show them where to go. Two elders helped me with my luggage (WHICH IS RIDICULOUSLY HEAVY) and we were off.
Something that has been a great blessing to me here while at the MTC is that I feel so much peace and contentment, all the time. I was a little nervous about homesickness before heading to the MTC, but the Lord has really been kind to me. I haven't been anxious or worried about things back home. In my heart I just feel so much peace knowing that the Lord will take care of our family during this time apart. So basically, I'm doing really well & I know that feeling comes from the peace of the Spirit. 

Right away I went into the MTC offices to get my missionary name tag, complete with an orange dork dot and all!!! WOO!! I was so super excited!! I picked up a huge bag of missionary books and was led through the other side of the campus where I caught up with my missionary 'hosts'. They were the elders that helped me with my luggage and they loaded my stuff up onto a HUGE bus. I was like wait WUT are you doing with my bags and why are you telling me to get on that bus!?! haha. It turned out that I was assigned to the MTC West Campus & that all the elders and hermanas on that bus were headed to Spanish speaking missions!!! A campus all to ourselves. :)
We immediately all got along on the bus, there were about 70 elders and sisters on the bus I was on. And they made a few bus trips to pick all the missionaries up. The West Campus is ALL Spanish speaking. There are no other foreign languages that is studied here, so right away we got to our campus and everyone spoke 'gringo' Spanish to us and showed us our apartments. At this point I still didn't know who my companion was but I had another 'host' hermana that helped me get to my apartment. Literally we have our own apartment. Like a kitchen, our own bathroom & shower, each companionship has their own room. The works. Special west side campus privileges. haha.
There I met my companera Hermana "G". She is a BEAUTIFUL 19 year old sister from Paris.....Texas. Yes, Paris, Texas. haha. She has natural red hair and everyone here is so envious of her locks. She is the oldest of six in her family and is setting the example for her younger siblings about serving a mission & she is going to a different mission in Mexico.
Practically EVERYONE here is going to Mexico. No lie. A few elders are going to Argentina and a few others are serving stateside Spanish speaking but yeah.....mostly Mexico!! :) Our Zone is all advanced Spanish. LOLOLOLOL I have NO CLUE what I am doing here. haha My Spanish is so bad haha and everyone's first language is Spanish so they are fluent in both English and Spanish. Then there's me...and my gringa companion. (her Spanish is actually really really good) So yeah....back to forever alone.. :) It's coming along slowly but surely. We don't study Spanish in our class (epic fail) because we are the advanced class. SOOO we study the gospel in our class instead of studying the language. Pray for me. haha

Our roommates are in our district as well. They are Hermana O and Hermana C. We get along so well!!! We laugh and study together and have all kinds of amazing experiences together. I just love them so much!! So kind of an explanation, our classes everyday includes the members of our 'district'. So our district is one of the ONLY all sisters districts. companion, Hermana G and I are District leaders...yup.... and there's a grand total of FOUR of us in the class.
Our main MTC teacher is Hermana Cd. WE LOVE HER TO BITS. She is so inspired and loving and yeah, just completely amazing. She served a mission about 3 years ago in Chile and her Spanish is so so impressive. We just met our other main instructor Hermano L. HE IS ALSO AMAZING! We just love him so much in a totally appropriate sister-missionary-way. haha.
A few districts combined make up a Zone or a Branch. We have a Branch Presidency that we also love so much because they are hardcore incredibly inspired men and their wives are just angels as well. Life is so good here and the Spirit is almost physically tangible because of the focus that the elders and sisters have here.
The first night at the MTC we met the MTC Presidency and our Branch Presidency. Hermana G was asked to play the piano in the Branch meeting and I led the music. We met a couple of nights afterward for a Zone/branch meeting and were interviewed during the meeting. After the interviews, a member of the presidency took my companion and me aside to talk with us for a minute. I started to panic a bit. haha. Well, he assigned my companion and me to be sister training leaders of our zone.
STL's are basically the Zone leaders over the Hermanas in our Zone. I felt like it was an incredible blessing because it has given us the opportunity to get to know the sisters in our Zone better. They are incredible beautiful wonderful sisters. I love them all so much. They have strong testimonies and are striving to be the best missionaries they can be. They inspire me to be better and happier.
I do struggle a great deal with teaching others in Spanish. We have 'progressing investigators' during our classroom time. My companion and I teach our lessons to our teachers who act as investigators of the church. It is truly humbling and really difficult. It's one thing to hold a meaningful conversation in Spanish and another to teach the gospel AND try to teach with the Spirit. It's a struggle big time. I have expressed my concerns with my leaders and they have all offered the same counsel, so I know that it's inspired. Stay focused on the needs of others, be obedient, study hard, do the best you can, and the Lord will make you an instrument in His hands to bring happiness to His children through the gospel.
Sorry this letter is super confusing and scatter brained but there's a bit to let you know what's going on :)

I am so happy being here! I can't even express all the things I am learning here and doing and loving!!! :)) I hope you all know how much I love you. Thank you for your friendship and support and the strength each of you have given me to come and serve a mission for the Lord. I know that God really is our Heavenly Father and that we are his children. He wants us to be happy today with our family and those we love in this life and forever. I know that there is a plan of happiness for each one of us. We can find peace and joy through having faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. He is the Master Physician and heal can heal our deepest pains and sorrows.  
One of my favorite scriptures about the Savior is in Alma chapter 7 verses 11 & 12 in the Book of Mormon. If you have a chance, take a moment to read those verses this Christmas and ponder on the life of Jesus Christ and His role as the Savior. But what that really means for you and me! Our Savior Jesus Christ came to take away all our sins, but also to make all that is unfair about this life right, to take away our burdens, sorrow, pains, insecurities, and suffering. He understands the challenges we go through personally, and I know that He invites us to come unto Him and find healing, peace, and happiness. 

I really do love you all. Take care of yourselves :) Enjoy your Christmases and remember the reason for the season. :)

All my love, :)

Hermana Fernelius

"Called to Serve"

[This blog entry was made by Ashley's older sister, Amy]:

The day finally came to take Ashley to the Provo MTC.  Matthew, Benjamin, Jamison and Emma were not able to go because they had work and school, and it was too quick of a trip for Emma to go.  The rest of the family (Dad, Mom, Amy and Tiffany) went with Ashley on Tuesday, Dec. 17th to stay the night with mom's sister, Jenny and  her husband Steve, stopping at Grandma and Grandpa Austad's house first for a quick visit.  We got to Lehi around midnight, so we went to sleep almost right away.

The next day was all about relaxing and cuddling Ashley before taking her to report at 1 pm.  We stopped by the Provo temple first to give hugs, take a few pictures, and say our goodbyes before the drop off.  It was, again, very bittersweet.  Ashley was SO excited to get to the MTC that after we took a couple of pictures she ran to the car, ready as ever to get started.

The drop off and watching her leave wasn't even that hard.  We were all so happy for her.  She was just so ready to go.  It was hard to cry, when there was just so much excitement in the air.  She is such a sweet person.  She is ready and enthusiastic to share the gospel, and to share her love with the people of Cuernavaca.


[This blog entry was made by Ashley's older sister, Amy]:

Both Tiffany and Ashley Fernelius were able to speak in church on the same day, along with their great friend, Elder Covel.  It was a bittersweet day; but mostly sweet.  They all had lots of love shown to them, with support from family and friends alike.

They spoke on the 15th of this month at 9:00 in the Palmhurst ward.  After church we had a family luncheon at Bishop and Sister Dudley's house at 11am for those that came from out of town.  And following that, at 1 pm members of the ward stopped by to support the 3 missionaries that were getting ready to leave within the next couple of weeks.

We can't thank the Dudley's enough for allowing us to use their home.  Words cannot express the gratitude to everyone who came to share in their special day.  Elder Covel and Hermana Ashley Fernelius reported to the Provo MTC on December 18th.  Hermana Tiffany Fernelius will report to the Mexico (update:she will report to Provo) MTC and leaves January 1st.  

Here are a few of the pictures that were taken that day: We didn't get many pictures this time.

"Mission call!"

[This blog entry was made by Ashley's older sister, Amy]:

We're going to back track for a second to the day Ashley opened her mission call.  What a special day.  She had been waiting for that big, white envelope for a couple of weeks (well, her whole life actually), and when it finally came in the mail everyone was giddy with excitement to hear where she'd be spending 18 months serving and teaching and learning.

On August 8th, surrounded by the love of family and friends, Ashley learned that she will be serving in the Mexico, Cuernavaca mission.  Almost immediately she began calling the people of Mexico "My People".  Once it finally set in, she started learning all that she could about the culture, the customs, and "her people" in Mexico.  What a happy, special day for our sweet Hermana Fernelius.