Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week 51! "Happy New Year!"

From 12/29/14

Hola Family and Friends!!!


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

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

I am running a little low on time...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you all have a great week!!!

Con Amor,

Hermana Fernelius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From 12/22/14

Hola Family and Friends!

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

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

I have no photos for you all.

Perdón. **

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 49! "More Amazing Experiences"

From 12/15/14


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Okay, HEY you!'

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

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

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

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

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

'And how old are you?'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 48! "Piano Lessons"

From 12/8/14

HOLA Family and Friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Fernelius


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


Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 47! "The Nose Ring is Gone!"

From 12/1/14

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

Week 46! "An Instant Answer to Prayer"

From 11/24/14

Hola Family and Friends!!

How are you all?

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

So how was this week? Great :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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