Friday, March 7, 2014

Week 8!! :) "VIVA MEXICO"

From Monday, March 3, 2014

Hola family and friends!! Another great week!!

We had a busy week and the time passed by so quickly but everyday was a day of miracles. Tuesday we were blessed to have our Zone Conference with President and Sister Kusch. I have a strong testimony that they are called by inspiration to preside over this mission. Their counsel and instruction is very inspired and has helped me grow personally and to improve as a missionary. It was a great blessing to attend the Zone Conference and be instructed from on high.

On Friday, there was another special 'capacitacion' for Trainers and trainees. I learned a lot from that training also. My president shared with us a thought provoking message from Elder Bednar: "It's possible to go on a mission and not become a missionary". Pres. Kusch then invited us to really ponder on our purpose in Mexico and on our missions. Why am I really here? What is my purpose as a missionary? Am I just living a mission, or am I becoming a missionary?

I realized in both conferences that it's not just enough to want to do things the right way. I need to ACT on what I believe, and what I know is right. It is so vital to have righteous desires, and likewise it is critical to live, act and work on those desires. We know that faith without works is dead. So that is something that I am trying to improve with the Lord's help. If I act on my faith, I know the Lord will help me become who He wants me to be. It was wonderful to participate in two conferences this week!!

I don't have much time, but I want you all to know that I love you so so much! I've thought about the blessing of having an eternal family, especially this week as we've met with many investigators and less-actives who have incredibly difficult trials right now in their lives. No one family or person is perfect, but I reflected on how great a blessing it is to have a family that really truly loves one another.

I know that the gospel blesses families. The principles that the Savior taught and teaches us through His living prophets can heal even the most broken families. It takes diligence, work, a lot of love, and most of all faith in the Savior and His Atonement, but families and people really can change. I am a witness to that truth because I have experienced it first hand in my life, and have seen it again and again on my mission so far.

The family is so important in God's eyes. It is a celestial unit where we can grow, progress, and improve in this life to prepare for eternity. There is nothing so beautiful in all the world as a family united in love and the light of Jesus Christ. That is something that Satan will never have and so it is his primary purpose to destroy the family and steal from us the great blessings of this life and eternity.

We met with a part-member/less-active family last week and could immediately feel that something was wrong when we entered the home. We talked to the hermana of the household and she opened up to us and told us of heartbreaking experiences she's had with her family and her spouse. She asked us what she could do to strengthen her family. She asked us serious questions that we can't answer for her. That wisdom and direction comes from our Heavenly Father. We invited and pleaded with her to pray to Heavenly Father for that help. We know and testified to her as representatives of Christ, that she will be blessed in her life now and forever as she is faithful to the covenants she's made with the Lord. The Lord will keep his end of the covenant as she faithfully keeps hers.

The Lord is bound when we do what He says, when we do not what He says we have no promise. That is certain. There is real power and protection in making and keeping covenants which is one of many reasons why we invite others to be baptized. Our Heavenly Father readily has infinite blessings for us in His hands, but we have to exercise our faith and act first in order to receive those blessings--it doesn't matter how greatly we desire them, if we don't act those blessings will not be ours. He does not violate the divine law of agency. We act, we obey, and He surely blesses us.

We find a connection with the progression and happiness of our investigators, to their obedience to the commandments--but ALSO the strength of their family relationships. Where a family is deteriorating, so also many times we find an investigator/less-active whose testimony deteriorates. On the other hand, almost all investigators that progress have a strong, supportive family or are applying the Atonement to their family relationships to strengthen them. What power is found in the family! We should protect and guard our families in every way, as the family can lead us to exaltation in the celestial kingdom one day soon.

One final thought:

I had a dream last night that was so vivid and clear that I know was a great blessing from the Lord for me personally. I dreamt that I was still on the mission with my current companion, Hermana "P". When suddenly I heard dad's voice. Dad's voice is so distinctive that I knew without a doubt that it was Dad talking. I didn't understand how because I was on the mission, when all of a sudden dad came in through the back door of the house and came up to me. I said in not so many words 'dad what are doing here! :)' Dad said that he couldn't wait, he just had to see me and Sister P, and after visiting me he was on his way to see Tiffany. He said that he loved Tiffany and me and missed us so he had to come see us.

I was really worried about the rules in my dream because he came to visit us and I can't hug men as a missionary. How weird. haha. I just told him how much I love him. Then mom comes through the door, and I thought for a second then thought, yes! I can hug women! That's allowed! haha. She went up to Hermana P,  smiling, with tears and hugged her and said mi angelita! I understood that mom was saying thank you to her for taking care of me on the mission.

It was so vivid and much more special than I can write in an email. Actually I just reread what I wrote and it sounds super weird but really it was so cool. A few other family members and ward members [like the Dudley's] came through the door the same way and came with mom and dad to visit me and were on the way to visit Tiffany. It was super cool.

Anyway my point is that I love you and I miss you and think about you always!!! :) 

Lots of love!!!!!!!! ;)))) 

Hermana Fernelius

Picture from Zone District. :)

Mexico Week 7! "Blind, Deaf, Lame Missionaries..."

From Monday, February 24, 2014


Another week that has passed by so quickly!! Tuesday was my 2 month birthday of being on a mission! Can you believe that? Anyway, I miss ya'll and I'm glad to hear you're doing well. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATTHEW!! Don't party too hard tomorrow ;) I love you lots and am grateful for your example to me especially now that I'm in the mission field. When I first got here, my Spanish was super hard to understand. One guy asked me where I was from and I said USA and he responded 'oh, I thought you were from Brazil because of your accent' (heck to the yes) I thought that was awesome, I responded no and then told him that you served in Brazil. That made him curious about missionaries and we started talking about the gospel. BOOM- Anyway hope you have fun tomorrow. 

So, this week....waaasss.. interesting. 

1) I have a cold and a pretty bad cough. Also, I have pink eye in both eyes. Also, I have ear infections in both ears. But the work goes on. JOY. 

The beginning of this week, Hermana P's legs started to swell. It was like this every morning and every night for five days when she finally gave in and called Hermana Kusch. Hna P has not had any changes in diet (e.g. too much sodium), no falls or fractures, no allergies, no urinary infections, has been drinking lots of water, walking the same distance daily, and so on. The only thing she could think of was to elevate her feet whenever possible to help with the swelling. 

When we spoke to Hna Kusch and explained all this, she said, hmm, that's strange isn't it? Which freaked us out a bit. She recommended that we visit the doctor in our area. He ran a general examination and finally said, hmm that's strange isn't it? MORE FREAKED OUT. He didn't know what was wrong either. He ordered some further examinations and we'll know the results later today. But really it was startling because her legs were swollen to the point of elephant of legs. Even her arms and stomach were swollen. 

It's really strange but we're both doing a lot better today. One companion hobbling in the street--swollen from head to foot, and the other blind and deaf preaching the gospel. That's power. haha

2) I already wrote this to Benjamin but this week we ran into a less active member who looked just like Ben. After we talked to him, we turned the corner and I cried like. a. baby. My companion cried with me. It was really pathetic. But we're good now :)

3) I'm thinking about writing a segment every week of "Food Experiences in Mexico". What do you think? I'm going to be positive from here on out about the food, because it really isn't bad and complaining is no bueno. So yesterday, I faced one of my greatest fears with food thus far. A super sweet hermana brought out a gigantic bowl of straight up beans. I prayed. Ate it. And....enjoyed it? HALLELUJAH. I am beginning to change. Your prayers are felt and answered!!! haha

4) Today our Zone and a few other districts got together and had a massive water balloon fight and played soccer. It was pretty fun (to watch) haha. 

5) I might send a photo of this or maybe not (I look really weird in it). But something that I love is the graffiti here in our area. There are some murals that are so beautiful and artistic. When people want to advertise an event, sometimes they spray paint it onto a designated wall for advertisements but it's really cool!! There are others though that make me laugh. There are some super 'thug' graffitiers in our area and one notorious person by the name of homework. He signs his name all over everywhere. There was another graffiti mark that said Taco. and one I saw today and took a photo with said GATO. So hard core.

6) 10 Mexican pesos is roughly one American dollar. We buy cereal that is 56 pesos but in the US it's more like 5 dollars. Not bad.

7) I keep forgetting to write this but for sure next month I will be training a new missionary--most likely an American. President Kusch told me this the first day I got here but the day is finally approaching. It's funny because Hna P and I have just gotten to feel confident in our area and in about three weeks it'll all be different! Change is good though and we are both getting ready for March. There are just so many new missionaries (elders and sisters) that have and will arrive these next couple months that just about every missionary that has finished their entrenamiento will be training. I'm definitely excited and nervous at the same time! But I know everything will work out!

So here's what up with the work here!!:

"This week was good! It was one of the fastest weeks of my mission thus far. The time passes by so quickly! We are facing a few roadblocks with our progressing investigators. We have three investigators that we know are ready for baptism but they don't feel ready to be baptized and/or they can't be baptized: O's father still hasn't give us permission for his baptism. He has 'verbally' given his consent but refused to sign the form to give permission for his son's baptism. He thinks O is too young to make his own decision and that he needs more time to be sure about it. This has been really upsetting for O, but he continues to come to church on Sundays, mutual, seminary, lessons, and other youth activities. He is our 'active non-member'. :) We are in contact with him almost everyday and he continues to progress. Hopefully within the next week his father will give consent for him to be baptized. Until then, we are all keeping the faith that things will change for the better. A scripture theme for this week is, we know the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. The best part about situations like this is that the Lord is in charge, and as we do our part and O does his, the Lord will work miracles to bring about His purposes. 

Our other two investigators (that we know are ready for baptism) are C and D. This past lesson we felt prompted to go through the baptismal interview questions with them. C told us that she wants to strengthen her testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and Thomas S. Monson. This is what's keeping her from accepting her baptismal date. She is reading the manual from Gospel Principles, the Book of Mormon and is researching more about her question as to whether the church is true or not. She says she thinks it's true, but she wants to know that it is. We've been trying to help her the best we can. We know that she will feel that confirming feeling even stronger after her baptism. She is the type of person that gives her 100% when she knows that something is right, so she really wants to be sure about her decision to be baptized first. We also went through the baptismal questions with her granddaughter, D. She answered 'correctly' to each question, but still isn't sure about baptism. Hna P asked her directly, do you know that this church is true? To which she replied no. She says she wants an answer and has been praying for that confirmation, but like C, she hasn't recognized that answer yet. They are both progressing so beautifully and keeping their commitments, & want to feel that solid YES the church is true but haven't recognized it yet. We are doing our best to help them, and we know that the Lord will answer their sincere prayers. 

Every other investigator we have with baptismal dates is progressing with the exception of consistent church attendance. One week they come, the other they don't. Off and on every month. Sometimes, we are unsure what to do. They are progressing in every other aspect: praying, reading the scriptures, and so on - but aren't progressing with church attendance. Sometimes we head into a lesson ready to 'drop' the investigator but them feel constrained to do so because we see that they want to progress and try to keep commitments. This has been difficult for me to know what to do with our investigators. Likewise, we don't want to just struggle week to week to lead an investigator to their baptism just to see them fall away as inactive members. 

We have met and visited with many many less active families/members the past two weeks who have confided in us that they don't have a testimony. Period. Several have said that they don't know why they were baptized. The trend with each one is the same. They went to church for two weeks, were baptized, then fell away from activity. They have enough faith to start coming to church and had enough faith to be baptized, but then stopped nourishing that testimony and have fallen away. It is clearly inspired that an investigator needs to come to church for at least 5 weeks before their baptism. We've seen that those who can keep that simple commitment of church attendance are strong members after their baptism---while the grand majority of those who came to church as often as they wanted to before their baptism are now inactive. 

There is a lot of work to do here in our area. A lot a lot. We have a lot of help as far as our district & zone leaders and our sister training leaders also. They are all so supportive and helpful. We really appreciate them and love them all. 

We are keeping the faith and working hard, and we know that the Lord of the Vineyard labors with us, His servants. The best part is that our best efforts are never a failure when we are on the Lord's errand."

So that's what has been going on this week! I am loving and enjoying every minute of the mission because it really is so special! I love being a missionary :) The people here in Mexico are really so awesome and I love them. I love the unique traditions and culture here. Some people treat us like their family without hardly knowing us, but that's just how they are. They have hearts of gold and loving serving and helping others. 

I also love meeting people that are happy in the most humble circumstances. This week we taught a woman (non member) whose family are all less active members of the church. We found her sitting on the sidewalk in the street and contacted her and she invited us to teach her in her home on Saturday. When we got to her home, I was reminded of all the blessings we have in our lives. Her home is small and has one room. It is right next to a man-made 'river' which is actually the sewer. She has 7 children, and they were all barefoot in very humble circumstances. The water has to be drawn outside and her house is open and connected to many other humble neighbors. We taught her outside the message of the Restoration. When we told her of the first vision and of Joseph Smith, my companion asked her what she thought about the prophet Joseph Smith, and she said, well, It has to be true. I'm sure that it's true, right? That was neat, because she was humble and prepared to hear the truth. I loved that experience. My companion and I left with such a good feeling! :)

Con amor,

Hermana Fernelius

Week 6 in Mexico!!! "Tasty Legs"

From Monday, February 17, 2014

Hola Family and Friends!!!! Thank you for your prayers this week--we really felt more at peace with all the crazy and wonderful and difficult experiences this week. It really really did help. :)

LOTS OF GOOD STUFF THIS WEEK. I never know where to start haha. I did cheat towards the bottom and copy/pasted part of the letter I sent to my President. tee hee. 

1) I'm glad you all are doing well!! Benjamin killing it at basketball like always. Matthew with his profound wisdom, seriously the letter you just wrote this week is awesome. Amy and Jamison, I'll be praying for the little ones that everything goes well this week! I can't wait to hear how the baby's doing. Dad and Mom, I never know how to say I love you and thank you enough! Tiffany is beautiful and I'm glad she's doing well :)

2) I have mosquito bites on my legs the size of a bottle cap (photo to follow)

3) Hermana P and I laugh hard every single day. It's really healthy to laugh and have fun. She always says Paciencia, Disfruten cada momento, No estres, and everything related to relax and enjoy every moment. Hakuna Matata. It's amazing. She is the fourth Fernelius sister, and this week we tried to figure out why we were separated at birth: we decided that because we were rebels in the Pre-Existence she was sent to El Salvador, and I was sent to Sin City as punishment. It took us both to come on a mission to find each other. Also, we keep track of our 'novios' . As of right now we have 8. 

4) I forgot to tell you that last week I tried cow stomach at lunch. Yuck. You can add that to the list of things I am never going to eat in my life. Also add mole negro [pronounced "molay"]. It's a weird chocolate based sauce that is eaten with chicken, rice, tamales, vegetables, and everything, and man is it bad. The texture is grainy, a little spicy, a lot sweet and chocolaty. And last week one sister said she added Cacahuates [peanuts] to add a little more flavor to the mole. Spicy chalky peanut butter chocolate polluting my plate of chicken and rice. Excuse me. Talk about nasty. 

5) Related to number four. Almost every member of the church has in one form or another a painting/mural/sculpture/thing of the last supper above their dining room table. And with cow stomach covered in mole, last supper is right. o_o 

6) Chamacas is one way of saying muchachas. No manches is like saying no kidding. A member says suave all the time to say that's cool/chill. 

7) The fourteenth of February was difficult in many ways. One, we had NO ONE to teach because no one was home. Two, we spent the afternoon in a service project painting someone's house--he is an 'investigator' but told us on the 14th that he wasn't actually interested in the church - he only wanted to have friends. o_o Three, there were couples e v e r y w h e r e. It was a sight to see. No one was interested in hearing about the church that day. And there we were watching people be happy with their loved ones while we walked alone missing our special people. 

There's more good stuff but I think of it right now. So below I've written some more fun stuff. :)

My companion and I met with President Kusch this week and we talked about how we are doing personally. We both felt so much support from him and he offered wonderful counsel that has helped us in a number of ways. I wanted to share some counsel he gave to me and I hope it might help one of you:

President Kusch was in a meeting the week before last with Elder Oaks and he spoke on knowledge and learning. He also spoke about progression by giving this example. Imagine a man that worked at a company for 20 years. Does he have 20 years experience or 1 year of experience 20 times? President Kusch related that to my mission. In one year will I have 1 year of growth and progression or 1 month of experience 12 times? That thought really struck me. Am I improving and progressing each day, no matter how small? I know I have room for improvement and that with patience and diligence whatever goals I have for my mission can be realized. 

He shared other insights that I thought were powerful. It's difficult to explain but now that I am here serving sometimes I don't remember what my life before the mission was like--like at all.. Sometimes I have to really work to think about what I've done, or about friends and family, about what I like, used to do and everything. It's like my old life is completely erased. Weird right? And I can't look into the future and see what's up sometimes it's weird because I can only see the present, this day, this hour, this moment. President helped me realize something. Before coming on a mission I lived my life how I wanted. Life was comfortable, I studied what I wanted, spoke my own language, slept in my own bed, went where I wanted, when I wanted and even ate what I wanted. I was in control of day to day life. The mission is a new life. It demands refinement and change. I'm in a new land, new people, new culture, new language, new food, new challenges, new experiences, everything different. He said that now I need to let the Lord make my life how He wants it to be. And to let that change work in me. That was really powerful. Everything that President Kusch said really helped me. And I know that if the only person that is converted to the Lord during my mission is me, then my mission will be a success! :)

"There is a quote by Elder Holland in Preach My Gospel that talks about learning languages & Hna P and I love it so much. It says that there is a language that every missionary understands--that language of the Spirit. And that Spirit transcends whatever inabilities or inadequacies I have personally & with the language, in order to help the investigator come unto Christ. I am grateful for that and I know it's true. Maybe I can't speak the language perfectly, but regardless of language, people understand if I truly care about them or not. 

Moroni 7:46 & 47 says '...if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever...' Charity is a Christlike attribute and because I am a representative of Him, that should be the reason behind everything I say and do. Like it says in Moroni, all things must fail--like trusting in my own abilities or worrying about my inabilities--but charity and pure Christlike love don't - I think that's what I have been lacking most. 

One more scripture that helped me this week is in Matt 10:39, 'He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.' I am so much happier when I lose myself in the work and focus on the well-being and happiness of my companion, our investigators, members, and even other missionaries. That's really what missionary work is all about! That's what my Savior did for me. He worried more about me than His own suffering and all He asks is that I offer all I can to help bring about His work and His glory. 

This week has been an eye opener and I'm so grateful for that! Our investigators are doing well. A few baptismal dates have been rescheduled and a few have been dropped until the next month. 'O' is going to be baptized this upcoming Saturday and the following Saturday 'C' will be baptized. We also have a few new investigators but only half or less are truly progressing. It's disappointing sometimes because we know how much happier each person could be if they kept their commitments, but we are trying to be diligent with each one to help them nurture their own testimonies. 

Something interesting happened yesterday night when we contacted a woman 'J' who was sweeping in front of her business. We asked her if we could help her and immediately noticed that she's most likely not from here (pale skin & green eyes gave it away). She said she's from Israel and she's Jewish and not interested in our message but she was really nice. I was curious about her Spanish because she spoke fluently and without a hint of an accent. She said she's only lived here for a year! Hermana P looked at me and laughed and said basically, if she can learn Spanish so can you! haha. She normally speaks Hebrew and Arabic but can also speak Spanish. I thought that was interesting! 

We talked to her about the tribes of Israel and Manasseh and Ephraim and that interested her a little more. Some of her Mexican coworkers overheard our conversation and asked us questions about our religion. We talked to them about the Restoration and they asked us about baptism or what they have to do to be baptized because neither of them are. *jaw drop* We explained a little more to them about our church and set up an appointment for a lesson. As we were leaving, J asked for a pamphlet too. I hope they may be 'escogidos' and progress in the gospel. I am excited to start visiting with them. 

We are doing really well and I love the work here. There are so many that are prepared to hear the gospel, and there are many members that need rescuing too."

Related to 'O': this week we met with his grandma and she chewed us out for an hour as we met with her to get permission to baptize her grandson. I literally did not say one word throughout our visit because she didn't let us. She cried and everything. Hna P and I were with our sister training leaders that day and I am so glad that we didn't have to deal with that alone--it was SO TENSE the whole time. It was not a pleasant experience to the point that even O almost cried. Later that week we met with O's dad and he didn't give permission for him to be baptized this past weekend but he says that O can be baptized this upcoming weekend. So he says. Again. That was really really hard for O to hear but he hasn't lost his excitement for his baptism. He is still faithfully coming to church. We are doing our best and praying with every step. I really feel like everything will be okay :) Like in 1 Nephi 3:7, the Lord never gives a commandment without a way prepared for us to accomplish what he's commanded. Everything will work out!!

I love you all! I have a testimony that this is the true church on the earth today. That the way to happiness is through finding faith in Jesus Christ and keeping the commandments. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!! I'll try to send pictures! 

LOVE YOU, con amor,

Hermana Fernelius :))

Last Monday with Hna T! :)

FEAST YOUR EYES. Can you believe that it's ten times worse in person? Mosiah 12:21

Week 5 in Mexico!!! "Repentance and the Atonement"

From Monday, February 10, 2014

I am doing really well. I feel great and we've been blessed to have a lot of work in the area. This week and the past week have been so so good, but at the same time I've had some hard moments too. Really truly I love the letters that you all send because it helps me, not because I'm homesick but because it feels good to hear from the people I can really count on even a thousand miles away. Every letter from the family has something that helps me in the very moment I read it or later on in the week and it strengthens me. 

Something that was super chafa [difficult] last night in the middle of the night, during my dreams, I heard mom's voice call out my name. Out of nowhere and that was a little hard for me. So some moments are like that, and this week was a little more. I'm getting over it though. I'm learning how to trust my Savior more and more.

First experience I want to share is one that helped me recognize that I'm not here by mistake. Or rather that the Lord is kind in allowing me to know His children and to help them with their specific trials because I went through the same thing and I understand how it feels:

One morning during companionship study, my companion and I started talking about the Atonement and repentance. We know many missionaries recently from our mission and elsewhere that have gone home because of a belated confession to a Priesthood leader. So many many missionaries have been sent home to repent and be worthy to return on a mission. Recently, an elder that Hna P and I love called to tell us that he was going home the next day for worthiness issues. It broke our hearts! We didn't get a chance to say goodbye or talk to him to help him. It was really sad! He feels like a younger brother to us and we always felt the need to care for him and watch out for him. Talk about hard. So that happened.

The next morning is when my companion and I started talking about that very thing. How hard it would be to come on a mission (which is already pretty challenging) and then to face the reality of not being worthy to serve. We were both grateful in that moment that we were blessed to be able to serve worthily because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We talked about our personal experiences and struggles and what is has taken for us to come to this moment on a mission. HARD, but our experiences have made us who we are today and able to help others. So let's go on...

Our ward mission leader "B" has been less active for a while for a number of reasons. He's 19 years old and just received his mission call to serve in March. We've been working more and more with him and trying to help him and the ward to get excited about missionary work and help us out more. Last Thursday the 30th is when we had a meeting with him and another (less-active) ward missionary "S" to talk about the needs of the ward, which was the same day we had talked about the Atonement in the morning.

So later on in the meeting we asked how B was doing. Then we asked S if he was planning to serve a mission. Then Hermana P said, jokingly, 'but one thing's for sure, you need to repent before going on a mission. Es bien chafa to go into the mission field unworthily and feel the spirit telling you everyday to repent, then confessing, and having to return home to finish repenting. So repent sinners! It's better now.' So she said that half jokingly, but then B looked up and us and said but it's just so hard. Hna P and I looked at each other in shock almost, but tried to keep our cool. We asked why do you feel that way, and continued talking to him. Then he completely opened up to us and explained that he has his mission call but still hasn't worked everything out to be worthy. We knew how to help him because we were just talking about our own experiences.

There are no words to explain how amazing that experience was. The following week we talked to B again and asked him how things were going, and he told us that he was afraid of telling the bishop because he doesn't have a relationship with him at all. But we encouraged him with everything in our hearts to not procrastinate his repentance any longer and to talk to his priesthood leader right away, and that night he did. Later on we had other meetings with him and he told us that he won't be able to serve for another year, but that he feels so good to be clean and to have everything in his life cleared up. There is nothing that he's hiding in his life from the Lord anymore.

Every day since that we've talked to him or seen him, he has a light from his eyes and a different countenance. I can't explain to you all how happy that made me feel, how I know that the Atonement is real. Hna P and I didn't know that we needed to talk about repentance with S and B that night, but we did and it's helped B to really truly change and to come unto Christ, but for real. I think that the Savior rejoices when a wayward son or daughter returns to Him and gives up all their old life and sins, however small or great they are, to be obedient, repent and change. That really is so beautiful.

He's doing well now and we actually just ran into him at the internet cafe with his little sister. The Atonement is something that's just nice to talk about or think about sometimes, it is the very reason why we can experience happiness and peace in this life--today. How amazing is that? That is a really special experience to my heart that I wanted to share with my family. It showed me that Heavenly Father is mindful of you and me in the very moment we need divine help. But the exact moment. How amazing. There are so many experiences I could share to testify of that.

This week also I've seen that this calling is sacred and has a real authority and power. Many members, less actives, investigators, and even strangers have opened up their hearts to tell us of their fears, and trials, and doubts--sometimes without hardly knowing us, if at all. It's because they feel confidence with us and they feel the Spirit and yearn to have the help of the gospel. so they share with us such sacred and personal things so that we can better help them. It is SO AMAZING.

Thank you for keeping our investigators in mind when you pray because some have to face incredible trials to come unto Christ and they really need divine help. Prayers are so powerful and they really are felt. 

Here's the letter I wrote to President Kusch this week:

"Hna P and I would be so happy if you and Sister Kusch could attend the baptism this Saturday for 'O'! His baptism is scheduled for the 15th at 10:00 a.m. We are going to visit with his father tomorrow to have a written consent for his baptism. 

The past two weeks have been really difficult for O. He comes from a very broken home and has hardly any support from his friends or family, not only in his decision to join the church but in every aspect of his life. His father has given consent for him to be baptized, but that's as much love and support as he's been given by his family. 

This past week we had an appointment to meet with him and he never showed--this was alarming to us because O is always so punctual and has never missed a lesson. Later he called us and we rescheduled a time to teach the lesson, but he sounded very different. When we arrived for our lesson, he looked so dejected and sad. We hardly spoke with him when he began to cry. He told us about his fears of being baptized and not knowing the future. What would his family think and who could he turn to for support. 

There are many trials that he has been going through since he began investigating the church, but he has been faithful all along the way. Hna P and I realized how hard the adversary has been working on him to keep him from being baptized. We pointed this out to him and helped him recognize all the good that has come from him going to church. All the wonderful changes he's made in his life thus far. As we asked him about his testimony and how he feels about the gospel, his countenance began to change. The light and happiness that we've always recognized in him returned and he spoke of his membership in the gospel with excitement. 

Like so many other youth, O has experienced difficult things in his life and has had to grow up prematurely. He carries a lot of burdens, but the gospel is what has helped him to handle those pressures with faith and patience, and to continually grow for the better. O really is a light and example to me and I'm grateful to know him. He is willing to be baptized and face all the uncertainty and trials ahead, because he knows that this church is true and he is willing to give up all his old life to know the Savior. 

Yesterday at church, we spoke with him more about the details of his baptism. Afterward he told us how he is grateful to know us and that we have been friends to him to learn the gospel. That made me so happy! I can't wait for him to be baptized, and I know he has a great work to do in his life for the Savior."

Sometimes when we are on the path to do something good, we face more trials like B when he tried to confess and repent or O this past week more than ever as he is preparing to be baptized. But trust in the Lord and He will take trials and sanctify them for your good as you exercise your faith in Him and keep the commandments. There is nothing more beautiful in all this world than the gospel and I am so grateful that I can share that with others during this sacred time as a missionary.

I love you all!!!!!! Something that was really fun today was that we went to Xochicalco (ruins in mexico) with a sister in our ward. Hna P and I call her our suegra because she wants us to marry her son. And let me just say that we are not opposed to that. haha. Hna P and I went with her, her nephew and his friend, and two sister missionaries in our district that we love very much! We had a really wonderful time together today, I felt like I had mom with me because she took such good care of us. There are people like that in this area that feel like family and they take care of us. So that's really wonderful. 

Anyway I love you all and pray for each of you. :) I can't believe another week has come and gone, and the truth is that this week is going to be a little difficult so please keep us in your prayers. Love you :)

Con amor,

Hermana Fernelius

Week 4 in Mexico! "Making French Toast"

From Monday, February 3, 2014

Hi Family and friends!!!! 

I LOVED ALL YOUR EMAILS THIS WEEK! Thank you so much for emailing and for sending pictures too!! I was actually praying this week to see pictures of the family so, BOOM, prayer=answered. 

I LOVE MY LITTLE EMMA! Just had to throw that in there too. But for real, I talk about our family to everyone, it even helps a ton to talk about Emma to mothers because I can relate to them more and they open up when I talk about how fun it is to have little ones around the house and how cool moms are and then I sneak in how families can be eternal and so on. ;) It's awesome. Well, thank you so much again!!! 

I am going to print up the emails and read them more carefully today and respond more personally for next week. I don't have much time on the computer, and it's not even the mission rules that keep us from writing emails, it's just the fact that we have so much to do on p-days (it's not even funny) that we run out of time and our p-day ends at 6 pm. Besides that it really ends at around 4:30 because we have district meetings in the evening. So seriously please forgive me for not writing personally, and I'll try to respond better next week! And Happy Happy Birthday to Jamison, Momma, and Tiffany! I love you guys!!

"Our ward is beginning to get more involved in missionary work and helping us with member-present lessons, referrals, and helping to build unity with the members each Sunday. I've noticed that in ward council meetings, the ward leaders are really starting to open up to us and they have much more confidence in us, especially the Bishop and ward mission leader. I'm realizing just how crucial it is to work with the members and leaders of the ward because without their efforts, all that we do is limited greatly and our investigators' progression is also affected. So, the good news is that the ward's enthusiasm for missionary is growing week by week and it's helping us with our efforts here.  

We are also really really excited for the coming weeks because three of our investigators are going to be baptized. I can't express how happy I am for them in making this decision! It's really been a privilege to work with each one of them. "O" [the 16 year old young man that sought us out when I first arrived here], "C" and "D" are so prepared to join the church. From the moment we met them, they were anxious to learn more about the gospel and have kept their commitments and constantly look for ways to improve and grow. I know they will be strong members of the church all their lives and will be a great example for their families and loved ones. 

By the second week of teaching O, he already told Hna P and me that he wants to serve a mission. How amazing is that!! C has also told us that during the week she counts the days until Sunday because she loves the church so much. One night this week I had a dream that C was going through the temple for the first time. It really helped me to see her and all of our investigators in a different way, to see them as their Heavenly Father sees them. To help each of them, and love them with an eternal perspective of their divine, infinite worth. 

That's been one of the lessons I've learned this week, to see others as they may become when they have a strong testimony of the gospel. I know that every person right now on this earth was faithful and chose to follow Jesus Christ in the Premortal life. They were all so valiant that they were reserved to come to the earth in these latter-days. I'm grateful for Heavenly Father's trust in me to be His missionary and help His children return to live with Him again one day. There are so many people that are prepared right now to hear the gospel just like C, D, and O. I hope to find all those that I promised I would help before coming to earth so that they may find joy in the gospel too! I love being a missionary! :)"

So that's the fun stuff that we have going on! Lots of new investigators, and starting the 15th of February, we are going to have baptisms every Saturday for like 4 weeks!!! AHHH!!!! I'm really so excited for them! 

My companion and I are doing well. It's amazing how similar we are in the way we think and the things we do. The only thing I can think of that is different between us, is that I love little kids (I didn't in the past so much but now I do) and my companion....really does not. That's a nice way to put it. If a little kids starts running around during a lesson, she has this look on her face like she's ready to drop kick them hahaha. 

Something that made me laugh so hard yesterday was a story Sis P told me. She said that in her home, they show tough love. They wrestle instead of hugging. haha. So something her dad's done in the past to kids that are misbehaving is ask them, do you want to see God? "SURE!!! woo" Then he picks the kid up into the air by their face/head....HAHAHAHA I already know Hermana P is going to be the best mom ever :) 

What else...

1) So we wash clothes by hand. Not a big deal. Just wanted to let you know the clothesline & clothespins I brought out here in the mission field was a pretty good idea. 

2) It's funny that mom mentioned that she watched Napoleon Dynamite because one of the girls in our ward sketched my portrait (<--I have no idea how to spell that) and I look like the sketch of Trisha from the movie.  Not kidding...not an exaggeration. (<-no idea how to spell that either) It actually did a number on my self esteem when she gave me the picture...I was flattered and hurt at the same time. haha. (When she passed me the picture the first thing I thought of was how much I wanted to show it to Benjamin. He understands -_-)

3) I have learned the proper way to make tortillas. One of our favorite investigators, D, has a business outside of her home where she sells lots of great food. She showed Hermana P and me how to make tortillas because there's no way I'm leaving Mexico without having that experience. And last night I learned how to make tamales with the C Family. Clearly, we have lots of favorites and the C family is one of those! :) They are so so great and they take such great care of the missionaries. Hno C celebrated his 50th birthday and invited us over for lunch and then dinner later. It was really fun! He lived in the US many years ago and can speak pretty great English. He loves to practice his English with me whenever we go over :) 

We were helping Hna C cook while her husband was blasting 80's music in the house. I actually felt like I was home! It was a sweet blessing because Sundays are pretty tough for us. I think it's because its the end of the week for us and we are just so exhausted in every way, so yesterday was a real treat! 

Since I'm talking about food, there are two things that I will not eat here in Mexico, everything else is good or I just lie about it and eat it anyway, can you guess what those two things are? FRIJOLES and SALSA VERDE. Talk about nasty. If someone brings out a bowl of beans I am literally praying so hard it hurts. The good thing is that we don't eat salsa verde too much and if it is served it's on the side of the plate. People here are very super duper sensitive about their food. If an hermana cooks dinner for us (which is at 3:00pm) it's like she is offering her very soul to you on a plate. And to say no to food or second portions is like rejecting the family themselves. I DONT GET IT: IT'S JUST A BOWL OF FRIJOLES: I LOVE YOU JUST NOT THIS FOOD! 

Seriously though, I'm so grateful that members are willing to feed us. But which is better, eating something I physically can't hold down (gagging the whole time) in front of the family or discreetly setting it aside on the plate and praying they won't notice/not taking something I don't like therefore not wasting their food? I think not wasting food is better, but some families would prefer that I gag the whole time...And I've done that on more than one occasion already..hahaha. But really the food here is pretty dang good, in case anyone was wondering. It's just frijoles that K.I.L.L. me every. single. time. (pray for me)

4) Oaxaca is pronounced Wa-hawk-uh. Now try saying Popocatepetl. Or Cuahnahuac (K-wow-nah-walk). Or Tlaltizapan...I still don't know how to say that one. It doesn't sound like how you think. Another reason why the Spanish life is hard for me!! :) Learning Spanish is one thing. Then learning expressions here in Cuernavaca is a different story. Like if someone shouts "aguas" it means be careful or look out. "A poco" is an expression to say "really?" or "no way!" "Chafa" is like saying "how rotten". "¡Que chafa!"..There are so many and they are really unique. I love it!

5) More food stories: The only "American" thing I've made for my companion is french toast. The first time I made it, she was a little confused as to why I dipped the bread in egg. Earlier in the day she said she wanted french toast, at least that's what I understood...but later I realized she meant that she wanted an egg sandwich. Big difference. So Hna. P was super confused when I made french toast for her, but since she tried it with maple syrup, it's now her go-to food. Whenever we're home and she's hungry she asks for some. And the only other thing I've made for her is spaghetti which isn't amazing or anything but she loves it. :') It makes me feel special--like I can actually cook!

6) One of our less active members is named Lehi Abinidi. Tough name to have and be less active. Which reminds me, an Hna in my MTC district told me that a less active member she knew was named Mahonri Moriancumer. . o_O. . Another interesting name...We have a new investigator named L. He's 19 and does Karate. He and his cousin D are so fun to teach and they even invited us and other elders and sisters to take a karate class for free one of these days. Woo! We taught them the first lesson on the Restoration and they were willing to study the Book of Mormon and pray about our message. That same night as Hna P and I went to another appointment, L called us. He asked us to pray for him because he had a test to take the next day and needed to pass. Hna P and I thought that was really funny, but at the same time great that he trusted in our faith and in prayer. I don't know if he passed or not but you can bet that we prayed hard for him that night or at least that he wouldn't fail. 

So that's all for this week. 

I'm doing really well! The only thing that really frustrates me is the language but I'm learning to be more diligent and more patient also. It's really been a blessing to see how the gospel changes people's lives and blesses families and I know that's true. 

I love you all and I hope you have a great week! Keep reading the scriptures every day and pray for opportunities to share the gospel because they are everywhere. Help the missionaries in our ward because the work is so hard without the members. They need you and are serving to help the ward and to help each member grow as much as the investigators and nonmembers. I love you all!!!!!

Con Amor,

Hermana Fernelius

Week 3 in Mexico! "Edificio 9"

From Monday, January 27, 2014

Hola family and friends!!! :) :)

Another wonderful week!!!!! :)
Ok, so I'm cheating here but below is a part of the letter I sent to my President this week: (I really hope I'm allowed to do that haha)...

"This week has been great. It's been a bit more challenging but I've learned a lot personally this week. As a companionship, we are focusing on visiting and reactivating less active families and the Lord has helped us with that goal in a number of ways.
First off, everyday this week the majority of our appointments and planned lessons have fallen through. No one's home, no one wants to see us, no one wants to go to church, everyone is sick, and so on. But when things don't go perfectly as planned is when I see how this really is the Lord's work and that He is in control. So many times this week, our plans fall through but then something better takes place. 

Our bishop gave Hna P and me a small list of less active members in the ward last Sunday. On Tuesday, we visited the members on our list, but most of them either don't want to see us or have moved. We felt prompted to visit one couple on our list that live in an apartment complex near the bishop's house.

We had the most difficult time trying to find "Edificio 9" to visit this family. The apartments in general are numbered in an odd way. Even the people who live in the complexes couldn't tell us where to locate this building. It was hot, we were tired and a little frustrated because we felt so strongly that we needed to find this couple but every direction we were given led to a dead end. Just as we were about to leave and head to another appointment, we saw a woman with her two children in the apartment complex park and decided to ask one last time for directions. As we spoke with her, almost instantly, I felt the Spirit so strongly. This sister, "M", and her two children were unsure of where this building was. (At that point, I was pretty sure that edificio numero 9 was a non-existent building. haha)

Hna P and I talked with sister M for a few minutes and then explained a bit about who we are and what we believe. M had a light in her eyes or a spirit about her that really struck me. She asked sincere questions about the church and about the scriptures and the Book of Mormon. She wasn't asking questions to ridicule the church, try to make us doubt or beliefs or anything that others typically do. She really did want to know the truth.

We spoke for quite some time and focused on her questions, on the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. Hna P shared some really inspired scriptures and answers that helped her a lot--M even wrote the scriptures down because it really helped her so much and she wanted to save them to study later on. We offered several times to teach her and her family more about the church, but at present she doesn't want us to visit her. We invited her to church, gave her a Book of Mormon with 'assignments' and passages for her to read, and encouraged her to pray about what we taught her. She said she would. 

We left feeling so uplifted and feeling the Spirit. I had a strong feeling in my heart that the reason we couldn't find building number 9 is because we needed to find M -- even though she wasn't interested in the moment. The first thing Hna P said as we left the park was 'I know without a doubt that in this moment there is a seed planted in M's heart'. 

I am grateful that this is the Lord's work. Every day, we leave the apartment with a plan for the day, goals, and faith. Knowing that if we do our part and work, the Lord will lead us to those who need to hear the gospel and to those who are ready to accept it. Even if it's not how we originally planned. The experience with M is a perfect example of how something so wonderful came about even though Hna P and I felt like we had failed in accomplishing a different goal and even though M needs more time. The Lord knows His children by name and prepares each one, each day to receive the gospel and to improve their lives.

We've had many other great experiences this week too, as a result of something else failing. We'll run into someone in the street that we were just thinking about or that we tried to contact earlier in the day but they weren't home. I realize over and over again that my Heavenly Father knows a lot better than I do, but also that as I put in the effort what I sometimes think is a failure can be turned into a wonderful lesson. Our best effort is never a failure!"

This upcoming month in February, there are 7 investigators with baptismal dates!!! WOO!  They are all progressing really well in the gospel and are trying to keep their commitments. It's a great blessing to spend time with each one and see first hand the changes they are making in their lives, the sacrifices, sometimes the challenges, and also the joy in their eyes when they share their testimony and the things they are learning for themselves about the gospel. 

Also my district and Zone is the bomb. I am always so blessed to know the best zones in the mission :) On Friday we went to an activity in another companionship's ward. The missionaries from 2 districts were there and it was so fun. I love spending time with other missionaries because it recharges my spiritual/mental/physical batteries. haha. 

ALSO we are building trust with the ward and our bishop - our ward mission leader is mostly less active which makes missionary work interesting, but this past Sunday we met with him and our stake leaders and they helped us organize the work in the ward. That was a great blessing!!

So I guess I don't have much to say this week other than this--my catch phrase for the mission--life is hard. haha.

Earlier this week, Hna P and I were getting ready for the day when, alas! We ran out of water. :( We have a tank on the roof of our apartment that holds all the water and when it empties, we run downstairs to turn on a pump and in 20 minutes, the tank is refilled. Hna P went to turn on the pump outside when missionaries from another church started talking to her about their religion. That's cool and all, but we aren't interested for obvious reasons. haha Well, they started asking us where we are from and that they've never seen us before. Hna P said 'oh really, because we are always walking and preaching around here too'. Preaching....why?, then she flashed her nametag completely poker faced. Then one missionary backed up a bit and didn't say another word and the other missionary went on offense mode and started attacking us and the book of Mormon and our religion. Hna P and I were polite and respectful and bore our testimonies, invited them to learn more another time and to pray and that's all.

It stuns me how people can be so rude. haha. When we contact people on the street, many people say they're not interested or that they belong to another church and we respect that. Always. We never attack them for what they believe. We never look for chances to contend with others, and when missionaries from other churches do that to us, we just take the heat and let it go. ahhh...patience....that happened to us more than once this week and all in very awkward, uncomfortable and just plain frustrating situations.

But those situations help us learn the most. :) Challenges have the ability to refine us when we turn to the Lord, and pray to know what He would have us learn from it. He never allows us to go through something that we couldn't handle through His help. He is always ready to help us.

There is a scripture in 2 Nephi 2:2 when Lehi is speaking to his son Jacob about trials, it says "He shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain." And in Alma 36:3 Alma counsels his son Helaman and says "For I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day." I love that, and it's helped me this week and I hope that it might help someone else too. 

I love you all and always pray for you. Thank you again for your love and support. I know that this church is true and that Jesus Christ lives. He suffered all things for us that we might not suffer if we come unto Him. He is ready to lift our burdens and make them light.  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Lots of love and hope you all have a great week! :)


Hermana Fernelius

Taken at the MTC: Hermana G (Aguascaliente Mexico), Me (Cuernavaca Mexico), Hermana C (Tuxtla Gutierrez Mexico), Hermana O (Merida Mexico)
At the MTC
This was January 18th.  My one month mission birthday and Hermana P's four month mission birthday.  We bought pizza because we were tired of Mexican food, but the pizza was nasty too...haha, oh well.  Look how tan we are!!  She used to be as white as I was, but now we are both tan!! :)
More fun with my companion!
Me in my fat shirt on top of a hill in our area...
Zone Conference (I'm the purple one in the middle!)