Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week 37! "Scavenger Hunt"

From 9/22/14

Hola Family and Friends!!

Wow! Another week went by so fast!! My companion and I had a good week.

Last night we met a family who accepted our invitation to baptism. They are a complete family with the desire to learn more about the gospel. They are a mom and dad with three beautiful daughters. Without even knowing us, they opened up their home to receive us, they treated us respectfully and offered us a ride to our home after the appointment. It was so great to meet them, and provided a moment when my companion and I finally took a breath of relief! :)

It was so neat to run into a few others by accident. We met less active members by contacting in the street.

Our Zone Leader baptized a family last year and found out that they are living in our area. This Elder gave us the name of the family and asked us to look for them--but he didn't know where they live, they are not on our branch lists, and we don't know them either. So...we had a name to go by and nothing more.

One afternoon, my companion and I got onto a full combi and stood in the aisle. We heard a fun 80's song so I decided to sing out loud on our ride. One young man got up from his seat and offered it to us, so my companion sat next to him and began to contact him. His name is "L", and he told us that he heard me singing and that I spoke English really well (for being a missionary from Mexico right?) then he realized that we were missionaries.

He told us that he is less active and recently came to our branch to live here. He asked us if we knew a Chilean missionary who baptized him the year before.  L was the same young man that our Zone Leader had asked us to look for!! What a miracle! We were so excited to meet him. He admitted that he did not have a good reason as to why he stopped coming to church.

We are going to begin teaching all recent converts in our branch, and the active members too. So we'll get going on that this week.

We were on a scavenger hunt to find someone with an appointment. They live in a Colonia - it's pretty large, so we walked around for a long time looking for a street called Aries. As we walked we talked to people on the way and found another less active that way. By accident, when we were not looking for the street, we found the street.

We knocked on the door and a woman came out. She invited us in and told us that "R" was her father and that he was unavailable but that she was willing to hear us. She told us that she had been reading the Bible in the morning and found a scripture that she really liked. Her daughter had just come home and was doing homework when the mom remembered the scripture and wanted to share it with the daughter. In the exact moment when she reached for her Bible and began to look up the scripture reference again, we knocked on her door.

She told us experiences she's had of answered prayers and even accepted a baptismal date. It was really special and we were happy to realize that the Lord was helping us. Had we arrived at their house one moment earlier or later, she may not have let us in.

Even though we face adversity, the Lord helps us to learn from each of those experiences. In our heads, maybe we were disappointed to not find the street, but God knew that this lady had to act on her faith first. When she was willing, we accidently found her house. It was really special.

In other events, I am 9 months old. I took some photos this week that I hope to be able to send to you today, maybe soon but if not, they'll come next week.

We are also blessed because a member moved to our area that is a returned missionary and now the elder's quorum president. He is willing to help us any day that we need him.

Today I ran into a member from my first area. I almost hugged him, and he said the same thing - he even remembered my name. It was a huge blessing. I remember all my areas with love and my companions too...

Please keep Tiffany, Hermana L, Hermana H, and me in your prayers! :) We love you and pray for each of you. 
“Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. … My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. … Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. … It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come. … Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” Liahona, Jan. 2000, 42, 45.

Hermana Fernelius :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 36! "Nine months in Mexico!"

From 9/15/14

Hola Family and Friends!!

Hope you all had a wonderful week! Today and tomorrow is Mexican Independence Day! ¡Viva Mexico! We are charged to enter the house early today for safety, so we will be watching church movies all night long :)

...this letter will be short, but it was a good and long week. I hit the halfway mark this Thursday. 9 months down, 9 months left. Where did the time go? Tiffy is just about there too! We'll be home before you miss us. Just writing this, I am thinking and feeling lots of things. One side is, WOW the mission is really hard! And the more important side, WOW it is so worth it! I am grateful for each little moment the Lord has permitted me to have on the mission thus far and I am so excited for the months ahead to serve :)

It rained so so hard one day that it hailed. Lucky for us, we happened to run into a less active member who invited us into her home just before the rain started. Blessings.

Hermana H is teaching me sign language and Spanish every day. I am trying to teach her English too. It's fun to hear her converse in English because she knows a lot more than she says she does. Every once in a while during our conversations she throws in English. It's awesome! One night she randomly straight-faced said, "My dog is dead." I almost died laughing.

She has a lot of quotable phrases "Ay, me duele las pestañas!" ["Ay, my eyelashes hurt!"].  Some people (just kidding LOTS of people) complain to us of their sicknesses and new diseases they find. Some days I feel more like a doctor than a missionary. I don't know why that was the trend this week, but wow, "my eyelashes hurt." Or with my own disease of being bitten by mosquitos she says, "Hermana, si le pica un mosco, pícale usted también!" ["If a mosquito bites you, then bite it back!"].  She's great!

"Yesterday after passing our weekly data, Elder C encouraged us to focus on exact obedience with the standards of our mission. One example is with the equation of 10+2+2+5+M+S, and another through how we teach at lunch appointments. So we put it into action and did the best we could yesterday to be obedient.

After lunch, we went into the living room of Hermana B and shared a lesson on the Book of Mormon. We asked her for references but did not receive one. We asked her to pray to think of someone she knew and invited her to offer the kneeling prayer. As she prayed, a name came to my mind of 'A' [this is an abbreviation, but the name was not a common one by any standards]. There was nothing more than the name, 'A'.

As we left her home, I asked her who 'A' is. She asked me, why? Where did you hear that name or what is her address? The truth is that I didn’t know. Hna B told us, 'Well, there is a person down the street with that name.'

I was surprised! Right after we went down the street to the house and Hna H told me that she had been to that house before. She had contacted the grandson with her old companion. We asked the grandson for his grandma who was unavailable just then. We set up a return appointment and left feeling happy!

The Lord helped us to receive a reference when our desires and our efforts were in the right place. The Lord reconfirmed to me that if we ask, we can receive. And that if we are obedient, we can qualify for miracles and answered prayers. I know that I have a lot to work on personally, but I also know that the Lord will be right there to help!"

...hope you all have a great week! Love each of you and pray for you always.

Con amor,

Hermana Fernelius

My companion just popping in to say, Happy Mexican Independence Day! :)

We live here on the second floor. 

Today at the store. (Do not) share a coke with Fer. My branch president calls me Hermana Ferne. (Fur-neh) The members here are having a real hard time with my name, so I decided to go with Hermana Fer. Sounds good to me :)

Two weeks ago, after getting my face smushed in cake. My companion was in Cuernavaca for training that day, but here is A, Aa, Bro & Sis B, Hno M, and Hna's M and C :)
Monday, September 8, 2014

Week 35! "The Details of Our Lives"

From 9/8/14

Hola Family and Friends,

This week went by fast! The branch members are a little desanimados, but they have testimonies that the gospel is true and are willing to work! :) I am excited to be here even though I still get lost!

I am learning SO much from my companion and I am grateful for her. Hna "H" is a HUGE example for me. Her family is very special, and that must make her why she is the way she is. We are practicing English and I am learning Spanish from her. The members love her! She is a rockstar.

We met a few very cool people. "C" and "Cia", "R" and "O". They are excited about learning more of the gospel. C really is escogido and accepted the gospel from the first visit we had with her this week!

I will try to pay close attention to more details for the email next week. Here's the weekly letter:

"We had a wonderful week in my new area! :) I truly love it here. I love and appreciate Hermana H. She is just so special! As we contact and teach people throughout the day, I am impressed every time with her teaching skills. She has a powerful testimony! She asks inspired and loving questions to all she meets, and teaches doctrine in a pure and simple way. During lessons, she gets me thinking, right alongside our investigators. :) Hermana H is a great example to me because she knows deep down who and Whose she is.

I am so excited to be here! I’ve felt ‘at home’ since arriving to the area. There are a couple familiar faces here too. One day, Hna H and I went to a ward member’s house and met Hna C and her daughter N. 'N' is not actively attending church, but her mom and brother do the very best they can to help in the branch and with missionary work.

When I met N, I did a double-take because it felt like I’ve met her before. She stared at me a little bit too. haha.  I asked her if we had met before or if she had gone to church in any of my previous areas. She replied, 'I remember now! I met you in the street a long time ago.'

As soon as she said that, I remembered too!! Hna C (one of my previous companions) and I went to an appointment and ran into N and her work colleague back in about April. Thinking they were not members, we invited them to learn more about the gospel and come to church. She told us, 'I am a member, but I am not active! I haven’t gone to church for over a year because of my work. I know I need to go back to church though.'

I vividly remember the details of our conversation with them. We invited her to do all she could to go to church and renew her covenants with the Lord. The Lord always has blessings for us in His hands that are conditional upon our obedience to have them. We reminded her that all those blessings that she stands in need of are dependent on her obedience.

It was the coolest feeling to be there with her this week and remember. She told her mom, 'remember that day I came home and said I found two sister missionaries in the street, here is one of them!!'

It was a testimony to me that Heavenly Father is in the details of our lives. I felt His love for me through N.

In our apartment complex, we have new neighbors living below us. Today as we left the house, a man walked out of his home and said ‘Hermanas! We are members too, but we are less active. We just moved in this week.’

He recognized Hermana H and named a few missionaries that she knows also. It was neat! He and his wife used to be in Hna H’s old area, and now couldn’t be closer to our home. :)

They are a tender mercy today. We are grateful the Lord has sent them to us and that they are willing to have us come by and teach them. AND they have a car. I’m thinking that they need an assignment to pick up investigators this Sunday. :)

The work of the Lord is going to go forward regardless of our strengths or weaknesses. It will go forth regardless of opposition or difficulty. That is the greatest blessing of the Latter-days. I am grateful to be a missionary. I am grateful for my companion and my mission leaders. I feel a need to stretch and be little better because of them."
Hope you all have a wonderful special week!
Lift where you stand. My invitation for the family this week is to visit a less active member of the church and help them in anyway they need. Bear your testimony to them. Offer service. Offer to pick them up Sunday. Be a friend to them. Help them kindle the fire of their testimony until it burns bright again. :)
Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius <3
Me and my "new" companion.

We ate a complete pizza for ourselves today, haha :)

[This is a "business" card Ashley's dad ordered so he can share her mailing and blog addresses with the many friends and family that continue to ask about her.]
Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Week 34! "Transfers!!!"

From 9/1/14

Hola Family and Friends!!!!

Thank you for the Happy Birthday wishes!! We had a super fun day. It was a little weird, but good haha. I'll explain why.

First of all, there is a new security rule where we cannot share where we are currently serving. My family can know, but others back home and in the mission can not. There have been a few situations that have happened here, so now that is the rule.

Well, I am currently writing from a new area!!!! I was transferred........and same with Noob........ WHAT WHAT WHAT :O I was completely SHOCKED when my district leaders called and said that we were BOTH LEAVING. Ahhhh.... So sad. And we couldn't tell anyone really that we were leaving yesterday.

My new companion is named Hermana "H"!!!!! :)) She is actually from the same stake as [my former companion] Hermana "P". Small world. And her last companion is Ecuadorian. I am really excited to be with her.

As always, emotions are conflicting during transfers. For one part, I obviously would love to stay in my old area with Hna Noob, but changes are good for so many people. The missionaries, members and investigators alike. I felt torn also because I felt like I stayed for so little time in my old area that I left work incomplete. Many investigators are progressing, and will be baptized soon, but neither Noob nor I will be there to see it. But Heavenly Father makes everyone a different tool to Him in order to build and strengthen His kingdom. I murmured a bit at first when I found out that I was changing... haha then I repented and pulled a Nephi. I AM GOING AND I WILL DO IT, happily. As for the coolest Noob EVER, she is training in a new area!!! I am excited for her! She says she feels inadequate to train, but I can't think of anyone better!

Our companionship really has been so fun! We laugh at the littlest things. The craziest things have happened and also so many miracles. In a way, I was content that if anyone had to leave the area, it would be the both of us and at the same time too.

There really is too much to say and not enough time. One, for my birthday, we were in divisions all day.  I stayed in the area, and Noob went to a capacitacion. I celebrated with a cake slammed into my face from the ward mission leader. Hermana C and M (sister missionaries) from my ward took good care of me. And we had a 'sleepover' at their house... OH, Hey, I broke another mission rule on my birthday. Hno B hugged me............. uhhhh........accident...couldn't control it......finally accepted it....anyway!!

Yesterday night and today consisted of scrambling and crazy packing. :)

"I am in shock a little from transfers, but I'm doing well and we had a wonderful week and day! haha :) I wanted to say thank you for the time I could serve in my previous area. I have learned so much. I LOVE that area!! I love the ward, the investigators, the missionaries. I had the most wonderful experiences there!! Hermana N and I feel very privileged to have been there.

The night that Hna N was called to train, we both couldn't sleep! haha. We both felt somewhat better because I assumed that I would stay in the area. Then our district leader advised us of transfers on Saturday night; and we couldn't sleep again! :)

I am excited for the area now too! There is a lot of work to do. There are wonderful amazing investigators there and SO much potential. We felt it every day as we worked. There are many possibilities for the area. My biggest dream would be for the area to have more priesthood holders and families so the church can construct a chapel there. I know that the missionaries there will do wonderful miracles for the Lord.

I am so excited to be here in my new area!! Hermana H is spectacular!! What a special spirit she has. With the little time we've been together today, it's easy to feel of the strength of her testimony and love of the Lord. She has a great light from her countenance and I am grateful to be with her.

This past week was tender mercy after tender mercy. One afternoon, we felt impressed to see the mother of an investigator, 'X'. X was not home, but 'E' invited us in to talk. As we spoke with her, we asked what she had thought of the Sunday before (when she went to church). Then her husband walked through the door from work. He said hello, then disappeared into another room. We have wanted to teach them all together for so long. Normally, he does not come home from work so early.

We asked E to invite her husband in to listen. He trudged in and sat down, respectful but maybe not too interested. We began to teach them together for the first time. The husband commented that elders from years before have not ever found him home. He slowly opened up, and admitted that he wanted to learn more about the church and ‘hopefully’ go to church sometime.

We tried to ask inspired questions and answer them. E bore her testimony to him of the Atonement and explained (to the best of her understanding) the role of the Savior and who He is. It was so neat to hear her bear her testimony although she is just now taking lessons too.

We invited them both to baptism. E accepted, her husband exercised his faith and accepted too. He even offered the kneeling prayer at the end of the lesson. From being reluctant to hear us, to offering the closing prayer, we saw a great miracle in them, and the power of the Spirit in a family’s progression. 

The next day, we passed by for X again. This time her brother and sister-in-law were there. We also invited them in to hear the lesson. We saw their interest pique, and they became very active in the discussion. We invited them to baptism and they also accepted. X and her mom (who is investigating the church) are working diligently so that their family members might also hear.

I love how some see the light and hold fast to it. Then they invite others to come follow it too. I love a part in Preach My Gospel that talks about the need for prophets and the Restoration. It says that in a world of changing values, the gospel is an anchor. We shared that with X's father and reminded him of the importance and influence he and his wife have for their family.

Truthfully, they impact their eternal family. Past and present, and future. His decisions and faith can place his family on firm foundations and they will withstand the whirlwinds of the adversary. Their home, centered on the Savior, will be a refuge from the world. When he meditated on this, his heart softened, and opened to hear the gospel.

I love their family. I hope they will progress. I hope that soon many investigators will be baptized like their family.

We also saw C and A this week. C is the American that we found through a reference who is also a less active member. We set an appointment to see her, and were able to get to know her a bit more. She really has had a hard life. She's been lonely for much of her life. She has little family, apart from her husband's. She is far from 'home' and doesn't plan to return because she has no one to go to or where either. 

We directly asked her if she would be open to hear the missionary discussions again. She looked away and tearfully said that she couldn't. She said she wasn't sure if God actually exists anymore. C said 'I envy your faith. I want to say that I know too, but I don't. I don't know where to find the truth, and I think I will be on this quest for all my life'.

The situation reminded me exactly of the scriptural account in the New Testament and Elder Holland's talk, 'Lord, I believe'. She said herself, in a way, 'Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief'.

I told her that the fact that she desires to know is significant. Her desire can turn to belief, belief to faith, faith to knowledge. But it starts with exactly where she's at. She has the tools she needs. The gift of the Holy Ghost, the Book of Mormon, prayer, church and teachers to guide her.

We asked if she would be willing to try again and read the Book of Mormon. She said yes. C said, 'I remember the faith of my father, who was a Baptist preacher. I find myself holding onto his faith.'

In that instant, I felt the Spirit so tangibly. I could imagine her father (who passed away) being in the room with us, helping his daughter find and recognize the truth. It was incredible.

There are so many other miracles that we've seen this week. Most of them have been that people's hearts are opening and softened. They are willing, even if that willingness is even just half a desire right now. It is something significant."

Love you family! Hope you all have a great week :)

Con Amor,

Hermana Fernelius

Zone Conference [Ashley is third from the right on the second row]