Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 59! "The Empty Bus"

From 2/23/15

Hola Family and Friends!!

We had an AWESOME week!! It was jam-packed with conferences and super inspirational meetings. WOO! It was the best!! In Cuernavaca, we had a multizone conference for the missionaries in our mission with President and Sister Kusch and Elder Mendoza, from the quorum of the seventy. We learned so much from them and from the impressions of the Spirit. Elder Mendoza talked about a few doctrines that really impacted me. He talked a lot about the Premortal life and about who we truly are and what our purpose is. He also expounded on doctrine that is included in the Area Plan for Mexico--which is an inspired annual document of the goals and vision for the nation of Mexico. It includes increasing our faith personally so that the work accelerates in this country. He shared the scripture that we have heard many times the past few years:

"Behold, I will hasten my work in its time. And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean." (D&C 88:73-74)
In our meeting we discussed what the word "hasten" means. Elder Mendoza listened for a while and then shared this insight: It's as if the Lord is saying, I need more and better results in less time. 
Elder Mendoza also shared that the hastening will commence and move forth as quickly as we make meaningful changes in our own lives. We are always invited to improve and change personally. It's like the scripture says, we are to purify our hearts before the Lord. Our hearts represent our desires, thoughts, feelings and attitude. What changes are required of us in order to purify our desires? Our thoughts? Our feelings? Or how about our attitude regarding the work of salvation? There is always room to change. Repentance is the way, the Savior makes it possible to be great and mighty instruments in His hands to get the work moving forward.
He also shared numerous scriptures and experiences to teach us of the doctrine of the Premortal life and our purpose on the earth. Elder Mendoza shared some things that were just so special that really touched my heart. He also said that each one of us has been reserved to come forth in the latter days for a great work. That since our Father's presence, we have always desired to serve Him. En especial, we said that we were called to be missionaries even before we were born:
"When President Monson signed your mission call, we was prophetically reaffirming your calling to serve that was given since the preexistence."
We read from D&C 138, which calls the spirits that resided in the presence of Heavenly Father as choice, great, noble, and reserved:
"Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men."
Then Elder Mendoza stopped, looked at us and said, those spirits--are YOU.
It is so easy to forget our divine worth and figuratively sell our noble birthright for food like Esau did to Jacob--when we let the influences of the world--popularity, prosperity, power or pride--have more room in our lives than living the gospel. Each son or daughter of God is special. Many are still waiting to hear the gospel and we have the opportunity to do so and to hasten the work.
A sister missionary shared this quote from Marjorie Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley:
"First I obey, then I understand."
As we obediently and diligently keep our covenants, share the gospel and participate in missionary and temple work, we will truly realize our great and divine callings on this earth and find enduring happiness and peace.
On top of all the awesomeness from the week, yesterday was stake conference here. We invited some neighborhood friends to go AND THEY DID. :O They do not live in or anywhere close to our area, but they work here almost every day. We invited E and his friend to come to church, and they committed to, and came! :) It was super cool!
On the way home from the conference, we got on a bus that was completely empty--except for us and the bus driver--which was unusual. My companion and I sat on different sides of the bus so that as we drove and people came on, we would be able to talk to more people than we would if we sat together. (missionaries are crazy! haha). But no one was getting on the bus! I looked at the bus driver and the empty bus and felt so grateful that maybe we could contact him! I moved to the front of the bus and starting speaking. I was afraid that he would ignore me or say 'no thanks' because of the distraction of talking, but no, he was very open and friendly and willing to talk!
We spoke for a few minutes as people slowly started to fill the bus. We spoke about his family and his work. He was married the same year as my parents, and their first and last child was born the same year as Matthew and Benjamin. More people filled the bus. A woman carrying grocery bags sat next to me, and it made it difficult to talk with him. I was thinking NO! I didn't even get his address or an appointment! There's no way he's going to tell me over a whole bus of people. Just about every seat on the bus had been taken now. I asked if we would be able to share more about the gospel with him, his wife and his children:
"Where do you live, mas o menos?"
Without missing a beat he shouted across to me, I live on street-so and so, number blank. :O
"Can we visit you this Thursday?"
"Absolutely! My wife will be there too because she works later in the afternoon. We'll be expecting you two."
I felt so happy that it filled every space in my heart! It was so cool how the timing was perfect to meet him. When people accept the invitation to hear the gospel or keep a commitment or come to church, it is the best feeling in the whole wide world. I felt like I could almost cry because of the blessing of the empty bus.
Later in the afternoon, we walked down the sidewalk trying to avoid the LARGE CARNIVAL that was going down in the opposite direction of the street. When, lo, a beautiful family crossed our path. haha. They clearly were in a hurry to get going somewhere. We quickly extended a pass-along card and invited them to learn more. The mom and dad stopped. They did just about the same thing that the bus driver had done! They blurted out their address, invited us over, smiled, and took off.
It is so cool to see how the hearts of God's children are softened more and more every day to accept the gospel.
I love being a missionary!!! I ran into members from my very first ward in the mission on Wednesday and then on Saturday with Hermana C [previous companion]. It was probably one of the coolest feelings in the whole world to see people I love so much after a year! One hermano shook my hand and said, I thought I'd never see you again!
The experiences of this week have reminded me that God knows us individually. He knows exactly where we are needed, so that we can share the gospel and learn from those around us also. His plan is perfect!
I hope you all have a great week and that you can take time to meditate and think about what your personal strengths and talents are. If you have your Patriarchal Blessing, maybe you could prayerfully read it and meditate on its meaning. As you do so, you will find evidence of the love that Heavenly Father has for you and of your own divine purpose and mission.
Have a great week!!
Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius
P.S. I used a bathroom that was a tarp on a lot, with wooden planks that overlapped and formed a floor over a massive dugout hole in the earth--which is also called a toilet here? That's right. The bathroom was a hole in the floor in the open outside. Also in my view....goats. Large, dirty goats. It was unforgettable.
Also, we witnessed a beautiful true to life moment of two street vendors that successfully sold a HAWK to a pair of gullible people in their business store. Worst part? The price--like 550 pesos. Next worst part? They didn't buy a cage or nuthin else, just the straight up hawk on the street. Other worst part? When the bird sellers *won* and sold them the HAWK they also tried to sell some pretty yellow canaries....that's when the store owners were like..whoa whoa whoa.. that's a lot of commitment, I don't think we want canaries. But thank you. My favorite worst part? The two people that bought the HAWK were mom and son owners of a seed and grain store. The older mom was disheartened after the purchase when she realized that the HAWK would not let her pet it. She was bit in the hand 5 times in a row, and looked surprised each time it bit her. Just writing this story is killing me. We laughed so hard we cried. Then that all ended when the bird vendors passed by us and offered some canaries. NO GRACIAS, SeƱores. We actually wanted the Hawk. hahahaha.
Have a great week!!

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