Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 55! "We ATE Wine!"

From 1/26/15

Hola Family and Friends!!! :)
Thank you for your letters this week!! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. The Lord has taken good care of all of us. I love hearing how your week has gone by because I can see the tender mercies that go by at home and here. Heavenly Father is really good to us! We've been given so many blessings.
This week was no different. We felt really blessed to have had another week in this beautiful area. We've rearranged our little area a bit more with the sister companionship in our branch. They are working pretty far away from where we actually live, and now Hermana C and I have taken over a part of where they used to work. We are still unfamiliar with it all, but now we are able to visit more members of our branch.
One of them being Sister S!! She is the woman I told my family about [over the phone at Christmas time - see "Week 51!" post for more information on this sister] that invited us to eat in her home, and gave us the most she had. It was a small portion of food -- but it was so filling!! We were stuffed after leaving her home. We went by this week to see how she was doing. And goodness, even just walking into her house, one feels at home there. She and her children fill it with a calm spirit.
Things are looking up for her because of her faith. She said she had just come home from work and was washing the clothes when we got there. That's right, she found work!! She told us: ''I work in the morning until about 4 or 5, just in time for the kids to come home from school. My job is just a few blocks away. I don't have to spend money on transportation, I can walk there. I don't have to work Sundays. Hermanas, I couldn't have asked for a better job.''
We were so happy to have seen her content. I remember visiting her just a few months ago, and she softly cried saying that no one wanted to give her work. She didn't know what she was going to do for her children. Her husband had left her and she struggled to get by, but never ever lost her faith.  She is one of the few members of our branch that has an unbreakable spirit. She did whatever and all that she could. Now, a few months later, we sat in her home in a completely different context -- one where she taught us the virtue of endurance and patiently waiting on the Lord during trials.
D&C 123:17 ''Therefore...let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.''
What a giant Sister S is!
We had another fun experience this week. We were having little success with our contacts on Friday one seemed to have too much interest. We were praying that we might find someone who wanted to hear about the church. We changed directions and decided to go up another street. As we did, a woman hurriedly came down the sidewalk, bags in one hand and carrying flowers in the other. Although she had her hands full and was in a hurry, C stopped and listened.
We talked to her about the church and invited her to learn more. She told us that she had in fact been to our church services before -- on quite a few occasions. We asked if she was a member of the church (believe it or not, many times we meet less active members by contacting in the street). She replied, ''No, I've never been baptized....but my daughter D has!!''
C had not been living in our area for a long time, until just a few weeks ago. We were so excited to have been given an answer to our prayers to find her. There would have been very few other chances to find her had she not run into us right there on the sidewalk.
Just as quickly as we met, she left, and I remember just feeling so grateful to Heavenly Father for loving us enough to find the 'one'.
The 'one' turned into 'the two' later that same afternoon.
Hermana C and I waited at the bottom of a steep slope for an investigator to meet us there for an appointment. As we waited, a woman came down the hill with her young daughter and baby in a stroller. She was also off in a hurry, but Hermana C wasn't phased!! She began talking with her and we presented ourselves to her. L told us that she recognized us already because we passed by her house the week before looking for her grandfather -- who, as it turned out, had passed away last summer. At the time we went by her house, a granddaughter of this man answered and told us that she was not interested in hearing about the gospel.
L is though!!! :) Maybe that's because she is a member of the church too! We almost couldn't believe how awesome it was to be able to find her, because we had not planned to return to their home and search them out again. It would have been difficult to meet her unless the Lord had helped us. We asked her what day we could come by to visit her -- she said: ''I'd like for you to come when my mom is there. She's a member too!''
What a blessing! One morning this week, I was studying Mosiah chapter 14 in the Book of Mormon. This chapter is a continuation of the teachings of Isaiah by the prophet Abinadi. It's one of my favorites! As I studied I found another scripture in Ezekiel that complements the teachings from this chapter and also the lessons that the Lord has been teaching me this week. The Lord says: ''I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick.'' (Ezekiel 34:16)
I will seek that which was lost.
Have you ever felt lost? Did you know that the Lord was seeking after you? He was right there trying to direct your feet on the right path.  As we strive to seek for those that are lost I realize just how much the Lord does to help each one of us to find Him and to live right! All the time! Every day :)
Thank you for your support. I can't say enough how grateful I am to be able to serve a mission.
I wasn't able to write everything for this week, but maybe next week I'll include a couple of stories.
Love you all!!! Take care and have a wonderful week. Keep smiling and serving and always look up.
Hermana Fernelius
P.S. Last week we ATE WINE soaked cake/fudge. We didn't know!! D: All four of us were eating at an ACTIVE member's house, and they pulled out dessert after the meal. It had kind of a strange taste. But it was delicious.
I was finishing my scrumptious slice of cake, when I look up at Hermana G's horrified face, as she took her first bite. Then said ''Hermana Lta, does this have alcohol in it??!''
Hna Lta and her husband both immediately said, ''No pasa nada (don't worry about it)! We already blessed the food remember? It's okay, it's been prayed over!''
The three of us tried REAL hard not to burst out laughing with a mixture of WHAT just happened and I'm a little bit horrified as I take my literal last bite of cake. It's funny now, because not everyone can say that they have EATEN WINE before.
Later that day, Hermana G defended her quickness in recognizing wine, said she totally recognized the alcohol flavor from her 'past life' before joining the church. haha. You know what, you just have to laugh it off (as we stumbled down the street contacting). haha. ;)
Take care of what you eat and have a great week!!
Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Week 54! "Locked Out"

From 1/19/15


What a great week we had!!!! So many fun things went down! How was your week?!!

Well, it wasn't too great for a guy we passed by on the street last Sunday. Normally, Hna C and I try not to pay attention to guys on the street that try talking to us in English because it goes something like this (100% directed to my companion):

''I LOVE YOO'' or ''Hey baby!!'' or other things like that.

In my subconscious, I ignored someone speaking in English was better that way. He tried REAL hard to talk to us in English. He said, 'Hi. Hi! HI! HI!!'' But we kept walking.  Then he got out of his car, slammed his car door shut and had a personal conversation in a frustrated tone. 'Hi, how are you? Fine, thanks how are you?'. And we went on our way.
He was sad that we ignored him.
Then I was even more sad that he was not being creepy, but rather, that he actually wanted to practice his English and be nice to us.
Moving on...
On Monday afternoon, my comp and I went strolling through a neighborhood market and spent some time there enjoying ourselves. Men and women had different stands open of fresh meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, spices, beans, corn, coconuts, and all kinds of food. Others were selling pets.--like gold fish. Or other movies, music, clothes, and everything you could need to furnish your home. It's actually like a really big community garage sale, and you can find treasures in these markets which are called 'Tianguis'.
As we walked, we ran into a woman that we used to teach, named R. She seemed happy to see us. We talked for a bit in the street with her little daughter. She looked at us and told us out of the blue, "I am reading the Book of Mormon you know. I haven't finished it, but I'm about halfway through."
She wanted to go to church but she felt nervous about going alone. She asked us if we would be willing to stop by and visit her to help her learn more about the gospel. We worked out a time and plan to teach her, said our goodbyes and then she continued on her way.
I'm not as selfless as a servant of the Lord should be. I had not thought about her in a long time. She was searching for the Lord, all during the time we had not been able to visit her. The Lord really loves this woman. He is not concerned about statistics. He's willing to leave the 99 sheep in order to look for the lost one. He is ever watchful and working to help each one of us an wanderers.
I love the idea of the one. I believe that the Lord would still be willing to sacrifice His life even if it was only for one. Even if it was only for me, or only for R, I know that He would give His life over again, so that we could have the hope of being clean and free from sin. I am grateful for that love. I am grateful for the service of others to us!
There is a ridiculously sweet sister (there are many) in our branch who is always willing to serve. You tell her you need help, she'll ask, where do I meet you. And then, what more can I give? We behave the best we can when we're with her, so that she can help us be on good terms on the other side. ;) Hermana J is ever willing and lives up to her covenants in the noblest way she knows how. She is one who serve US. As much as we try to serve her, we realize that, whether by a hug, an apple she gives us to eat on our way, or by sharing her testimony, we leave desirous to be better because of her. We feel the love of our Savior through her.
We can be the Lord's hands. We can reach out to others in need without being expected to do so, and with much deeper satisfaction internally than a simple checkmark on a metaphoric list of things to do. Callings in the church, home or visiting teaching, responsibilities in the home and so much more. I want to be more like J. Service is a part of her character. ''She is love personified." like Elder Christofferson says.
I felt really humbled today as my companion and I were the recipients of service again:
SO...funny story but, each morning we have our personal studies and companionship and language study. Afterward on preparation day, we try to get some cleaning done and especially laundry washed. After hearing the buzz on the washer, I went downstairs to take the wet clothes out to hang dry. My companion came quick behind so we could get it done quickly and out of the way. The other sisters had already gone downtown and we still needed to write, go to the store and do several other things, and were anxious to finish.
We hurried back upstairs with our arms full of wet clothes, when I see a sunken look on my comp's face. The door had swung shut when we came downstairs....and it got LOCKED. Can you imagine our horror because it was seriously the WORST FEELING EVER. We were locked out of our house without our phone, keys, purse, NADA. The Good news was that we were dressed and ready for the day, because it would have been pretty bad if we were outside all afternoon looking like death. But worse things have happened. Like getting locked out.
Well, apparently it isn't customary for the house owners to have the original/spare key to apartments they rent out. They give the original and basically only copy to the owners. Psh, as if they trust us or something right? ;)
Well. Panic was setting in and I was getting ready to cry. haha. So we decided to think clearly and set the clothes down, and ran around to each neighbor we knew that could possibly have a ladder to climb in through the kitchen window on the second floor. WOO. We prayed in our heart and went house to house. On the way we ran into a ward member, and a few friendly neighbors who knew us and were serious in trying to help us get back in.
We walked down the street and chased after an electrician that happened to park super close by our house to fix a fallen cable. (THANK YOU). He was totally working and didn't seem too excited too help, but then we ran into neighbors who offered to help and then two of our investigators who were super chill asked how they could help. They had been eating goat tacos (haha) and invited us over to relax and eat while we waited. I think they saw the panic on our faces. We actually had not eaten either. They didn't know that, but they fed us a few tacos until we were stuffed and so grateful.
We waited for the ladder guy, and told our buds that they didn't have to wait but they were willing to wait and make sure we could get inside. I WAS WILLING TO PAY COLD HARD PESOS FOR THIS ELECTRICIAN TO LET US USE HIS LADDER. Then this guy turned out to be super amable [friendly] and drove right up to our house. Whew. He quickly set up his ladder and one of the neighborhood guys volunteered to climb into the window and unlock the door. VICTORY!!!!!!!!!
It was the craziest rush of (only) an hour that passed us. Just as quickly as all the help came, they left. They didn't ask for a single peso for all their help.
We felt so humbled to be the recipients of so much concern and quick help. People were so willing, and they didn't even think twice about offering their services. Within a whirlwind of a few moments, frustration became peace. It was like nothing had ever happened. We had an intact door, full bellies and enough time to finish the rest of our preparation. It was the best p-day ever! haha.
Today, I'm more about GIVING. Be the gift for someone else! Be an answer to someone's prayer like all these people have been to us. :)
We had a great week! I have to go now. But I hope you all feel the love that Heavenly Father really has for us. I love all of you! Take care!
Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius
Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 53! "Epic-ness"

From 1/12/15

Hola Family and Friends!

How did your week go? :) Ours was great!!! Mission Life is just great all around. We had a lot of fun things that happened this week. New missionary in our apartment, new investigators, new friends, new area limits, new members - lots of good times!

Our branch has been in the process of expanding the area limits, and they were approved from the First Presidency this past week. The stake president came yesterday to our branch to announce the changes. He was very excited to also announce that families from another ward would be integrated officially into our zone. Hermana G and M are serving in the newly added area of our branch where more than 50 members are! Woo!! President expressed confidence that our branch will become a ward within a year if we diligently find, teach, and baptize.

As we heard this news, I just realized how much I LOVE THIS AREA. Our branch may have few strong members but they are the heart and soul of this beautiful area. They give all they can to whoever stands in need. Some treat us missionaries like their own daughters. They're trying to do the best they can. I have a solid, for sure, I'm not being transferred guarantee for another 5 weeks. Whew! I just want to be here for a while. :) There are too many reasons. Do you want to hear one serious reason why? We met an awesome new investigator!

Well, his name is D! We met him officially last week and set up an appointment to teach him about the church. The sisters in our branch contacted him in the street and invited him to learn more. To which he happily agreed. The sisters told us a lot about how awesome he was, we didn't realize his epic-ness until this past week!!!

D is studying for something that I can't pronounce. It's pretty complicated, so that's cool. He speaks pretty great English, knows Spanish and Portuguese and wants to learn German next. He wants to work for Audi so that's his motivation to learn German.

For our first appointment, we asked if he had read about Joseph Smith's first vision and about the Restoration. He did (WOO), so we focused on the Book of Mormon. He didn't hesitate to accept our baptismal invitation to him. He told us how he had always been interested in the church because of his member friend in school known as ''Blue''. haha. Blue has always been a good example to D and now that D is investigating the church, he's been helping D with any questions he has about the church.

We went back this week for the second appointment and decided to teach him about the Word of Wisdom. A while ago, one of our district leaders counseled us to teach a commandment the lesson following the Restoration lesson. In that manner, we would better distinguish a true investigator and someone that will progress in the gospel. If they keep a commandment like the Word of Wisdom, then they will be more receptive to the following lessons and will truly prepare for the covenant of baptism.

Well, as we taught, D was receptive to all of our discussion. He told us that he drank coffee pretty regularly to help him stay awake in his classes, but that he was willing to stop. He read the Book of Mormon assignment we left with him from the first appointment, and comprehended it well! We asked him if he had prayed to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet and he said that he felt the church was true. :D We are just so excited to teach him. He's awesome!

Speaking of awesome, we visited the very best Ao! this week. He is preparing for baptism and has not missed church for 6 weeks in a row. He comes dressed the best he can, having studied the lessons for the church classes. He is progressing incredibly!! He studies the talks from modern prophets regularly, and reads the Book of Mormon regularly along with the principles of the gospel book and other church material. He understands so much about the doctrine of the church and participates in class with wonderful comments and answers to questions. He told us in our appointment this week, that one night before falling asleep, he just thought about what else he feels he lacks before being baptized. We talked about his concerns before being baptized, and he expressed his excitement to become a member. His brother even walked into the house as we were teaching, and he stopped to listen for a bit. Ao said the last prayer before we left and he prayed for his little brother--that one day he would come to church with him too.

President Hunter said (in Spanish) 'Un gran indicador de nuestra conversión personal es el deseo que tengamos de compartir el Evangelio con los demás.'' When we see investigators excited and anxious to share the gospel with their families, it serves as a testimony to us that they really are experiencing a change through the Atonement of Christ. It's wonderful to see families that unite through the gospel. I love serving here!

We have found some really special new investigators that are excited to hear about the gospel and have accepted the invitation to be baptized. The both of them were found while looking for other members of the church:

One woman and her little daughter received us into their home. She told us, I have ALWAYS wanted to know about the church and what you do as missionaries, so when you knocked on my door, I knew I had to let you in.

We arrived at another home and knocked without a response. We stayed for an unusually long time waiting to see if someone would come to the door, JUST as we were leaving, someone opened the door and looked at us quizzedly and asked what we needed. We explained that we were searching for a family who were members of the church. She still had a perplexed look on her face as she asked, And what church are you from? We said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Then she replied, my daughter and I were JUST talking about how we want to learn about God and start going to a different religion. We feel that our current religion doesn't fill and satisfy our needs.  Can we come to your church? 

Talk about a miracle. We found her by accident, which accidently was a just the right time.

That's happened often this past week. It is such a testimony to us that God loves us. My companion commented to me this week as we walked in the street of how much of a privilege it is to serve the Lord full time in a way. We see miracles so often that just fills our hearts, we love being here.

We truly have experienced miracles this week that show us how much the Lord loves us. I am really excited for this upcoming week. I hope that each and every one of you have a wonderful and successful week.

Lots of love,

Hermana Fernelius
Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 52! "Testimony of Tithing"

From 1/5/15

HOLA Family and Friends!!!
Well, I think I had my secret prayers answered. Today was transfers and I really did not want to leave this area yet. I feel like there is so much work to be done and potential to reach with the Lord's help. AND here I am!!!! WOO!!! My companion and I were not changed!!!!! :) Whew! Can you say relieved?
There were other changes in our home though. Hermana S was transferred to another area and Hermana G welcomed a new companion to our 'old' new companion :) HERMANA M!! This is a little bit confusing, but when I was serving with Hermana N, Hermana M and Hermana C (my current comp) were companions. Now I'm companions with C, and Hermana M is with us in our ward. It's all just dandy! We are happy. I think I actually danced around a bit when we saw her come up the steps to our house.
In the rest of the mission there have been a LOT of changes today. Guerrero is reopened and missionaries are back in the stakes in that state. Our zones in Morelos that were enormous are mostly back to normal, from what I've heard. President Kusch also announced today in his weekly letter that the new mission president for the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission has been called and will report to serve at the end of June 2015.
Well, I will include new words that I learned this week:
1) Fodonga - someone who doesn't 'fix' themselves up to look good or make an appearance. For example, Hermana Fernelius is very 'fodonga' when she gets up in the morning to go workout with Hermana C.
2) Piropo - Flirtatious comment. Real conversation we had with a less active teenager this week: "I don't get it. It doesn't bother you when men say 'piropos' to you? Or like when my friends do? Because they know you, they told me about it." o_O First of all JOVEN. What in the world? You need new friends. Second of all, what is piropos?
3) Buen....uh...I forgot what the word was....I think it was 'Buen Marmaja' - It means that you are wealthy or have a lot of money.
4) Asomeche - Expression in Veracruz to say basically 'holy cow'. It's the best. Hermana G is working hard on teaching us her Veracruz phrases. :)
ALSO, there is a Catholic Mexican calendar with the name of a different saint for every day of the week. So apparently, if you give birth, it is traditional to name your baby with the name of the 'daily saint'. If it's a man's name, you add the letter 'a' at the end to make it feminine, or you normally add an 'o' to make a woman's name masculine. A member told us that, unfortunately, her brother was born on the day of Margarita. So they call him Margarito.

Can we take a moment of silence to lament his name?
Thank you.
This week passed by quickly, but it was rich with beautiful experiences!
We taught Ao on Tuesday with a member about the law of chastity and the law of tithes and offerings. When we taught him about the blessings of keeping the Lord's commandments, the member we were with spoke up. She told us that before she was a member of the church, she and her husband and another family member all worked to provide their numerous family with food, clothes, rent and light and water. The basics. It was never enough! In any way they stretched their money, they always found themselves going from neighbor to neighbor to borrow food or money. Then 'quincena' would come (or payday), and they would be okay for a time, but soon the few weeks ended the same way: borrowing, asking, lending, looking...until the next payday.
Then one day she found the gospel. She completely accepted the gospel, and although her circumstances were humble and meek, she put her faith first and decided to change her life and be baptized. She says that she remembered when the elders first taught her the law of tithes and offerings. She knew that it was a commandment from God. From the time she was baptized she paid her tithing first. She worked the same hours, same jobs, and the income was the same, but in a miraculous way, there was always enough. There was always food. She didn't ask anyone for eggs or food anymore. She became independent and debt free for the first time.
She bore her testimony to us that the Lord never leaves us. He opens the windows of heaven and pours us out so many blessings that there isn't even enough room for them all! She impacted us with her sincere experience and powerful testimony of obedience.
I realized that sometimes in our own pride, or disobedience, we almost willingly forfeit incredible blessings that the Lord has offered us. So are there blessings that I am forfeiting by my own unwillingness to hearken to the Lord? What can I do this week to commit to more obedience?
"Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
If we haven't already, let's put the Lord's word to the test and try Him. If we do His will, we will know if the doctrine is true. I loved the lesson this member taught me.
We also taught a woman who is currently a less active member of another church. She has been listening to the missionary discussions for the second time this past week. From the first appointment to this week, what a difference we felt in her home. She carefully studied every word we said as we taught her the Restoration for the second time. As we shared the first vision with her, she took it all in and sat in silence after listening to Joseph Smith's experience. She looked at us and smiled. We asked her how she felt. She told us, "I think that what you told me is beautiful. What an amazing experience Joseph had!"
Now, a week ago, she told us that she wasn't going to change her religion. And this week, she accepted the challenge to pray about baptism and BE baptized if she receives an answer. To end the lesson we gave her the Book of Mormon and invited her to read a few pages. She quietly looked at the testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, then back into our eyes and said, "I will read this book. This time I will read."
We felt and witnessed how the Spirit taught her. She opened her eyes and her heart a crack, and that let the Spirit in to testify to her. We asked her who else we could teach that she knew, and she immediately gave us a reference of her friend who we have an appointment to see this week also. SO NEAT!
We also taught a sweet less active member this week who is starting to open up to us. Cn (about 65 years old) is the sweetest! Last week we taught her 10 [?] year old granddaughter in her home and invited her to be baptized. She immediately accepted. Although she doesn't live in our area (and therefore we cannot formally teach her the missionary lessons) she regularly sees her grandmother. Just yesterday, we passed by Cn's home and we were able to share a message with her. Cn told us that each time her granddaughter comes by, she tells her grandmom "I'm going to be a Mormon!"
She is really excited about the gospel! We hope that Cn will return to church soon to be a strength to her granddaughter!
We've been following up with a couple of families this week that are being taught. With each family, I would ask that you could generally keep them in your prayers. They are SO wonderful and we really want to help them the best we can. We hope that they will be baptized soon!
Well, I have to go now - I hope to send pictures next week!
I love you all and hope that you have a great week!!!!!
Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius

"You Are My Hands"
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf -- April 2010
"As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.
"With all my heart and soul I give thanks to our Heavenly Father for His love for us, for the gift of His Son, for the life and example of Jesus the Christ, and for His sinless and selfless sacrifice. I rejoice in the fact that Christ is not dead but risen from the grave! He lives and has returned to the earth to restore His authority and gospel to man. He has given us the perfect example of the kind of men and women we should be.

"As we contemplate with reverence and awe how our Savior embraces us, comforts us, and heals us, let us commit to become His hands, that others through us may feel His loving embrace."