Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 64! "Transfers [for the Last Time?!]"

From 3/30/15

Hola Family and Friends!!

Guess where I'm at and who I'm with? Transfers today, I'm with my new companion Hermana Q!!!!

Hermana Q is so super great!!! She is 20 also and she is one of six siblings. As we left the offices this morning and I listened to her testimony, it is so sincere and powerful. We contacted a taxi driver who was visibly touched by her testimony also. It was super cool.

I'm excited to be in this new area. It's HOT. Our house is brand spanking new and we have moving stuff everywhere. The Zone leaders just found this house for our area like 2 days ago. From what I've heard, I'm really excited to be here with all the work there is to do! It's going to be a lot of fun!! I'm excited for the adventures ahead.

So that's what's been going on around here.

This past week we had very special experiences also. I hardly said goodbye to anyone, but one person I did see was Ao. After the lesson we had, I mentioned that we'll come back to see him soon. He said, when your parents come by will you point to me and say "El es mi obra"? hahaha. Or in other words, look at my masterpiece. hahaha. I told him NO WAY JOSE. Then he said it's okay, you can tell them that I live under the bridge. ......what??? Not one of us understood the vague reference. Then he said that when he lived in the United States, a lot of foreigners lived under a freeway bridge in the streets. haha I'm still a little confused by that reference but it's okay. :) Ao is a homeless man as far as my parents know.

Hope that was as confusing to you as it is to me.

Hermana C and I went to go teach a family investigating the church this week. The last time we went to teach them, they didn't let us inside. This past week, however, it was raining. (Can I get a glory hallelujah?). We were able to get inside to teach them in their home.

It was perfect, we were able to say a prayer and it invited the spirit so strongly in their home. As we talked, S (the dad of the family) opened up to us and told us his desires to be a good father for his little family. His wife (legally married...WOO), M also expressed how she wants to do what's right for her children. S became very sentimental as he told us about some of the struggles he's been having with bad habits--and how greatly he wants to change. He told us that the day we contacted him in the street with his son, he felt something as we talked with him:

"That day that I met you two, I felt the true love and concern you had for me. I felt something different as we spoke. I know that there is something in this that can help me. I've looked in other places and have not found it. I think that this is what I've been looking for."

**Cue missionary tears of joy**

It was so awesome. He gets it. He sees a vision of how their family can become. He and his wife committed to come to church--as far as his work schedule allows it. He sometimes is called to work on Sundays which worried us about this past Sunday. We prayed for him to have the day off. We decided to go by on Saturday with a  member to confirm our plans. As he opened the door he told us, I'm going to be able to go! The whole family. I'm bringing my kids too. Yesterday, we went to pick them up and it was so cool to see a beautiful little family all together and dressed and ready to go. It was super special and a highlight of the week.

In other news, G (the English speaking member) is doing great!! We have really challenged him with the commitments we've left him, but he's stopped smoking marijuana for 7 and half days now. :) It was a strong addiction before. But he put his mind to it and has taken it one day at a time. Every time was see him we ask how many days? and he says 4 and a half or 6 and a half. he is pretty attentive of the duration of his success. :) Anyway, he's doing awesome. He says he feels free. He has never been able to abandon smoking before, but he's finally doing it!! :) We took his old bong and destroyed it on a cement wall...well Hermana C did, and it was great :) He's the best!

Also the women's general conference broadcast was super awesome. We watched it in the Stake Center in English with my comp, Hermanas M, C, M2, P and H.

Watching the broadcast really strengthened my testimony of the need for living prophets and apostles. It was powerful to hear the testimonies of women who are called of God to teach the doctrine of Christ. Something that I loved from Pres. Eyring's remarks was the story he told of a mother who had lost her son in an accident. JOY always follows sorrow. The things that have happened today to Hermana Q and other missionaries has been a testimony to me that the joy will come. I know that it is exactly what the gospel of Jesus Christ promises. A comfort and reassurance that the promises of God will all be fulfilled. In the Lord's way and timing, yes, but He keeps His promises.

I read a talk this morning that is called Beautiful Mornings from Elder Porter of the Seventy. He says, "Trials may come, and we may not understand everything that happens to us or around us. But if we humbly, quietly trust in the Lord, He will give us strength and guidance in every challenge we face. When our only desire is to please Him, we will be blessed with a deep inner peace."

Hope you all have a great week and enjoy General Conference!!

Con Amor,

Hermana Fernelius
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Week 63! "WOO!"

From 3/23/15

Hola Family and Friends!!!

Wow!! Another week has flown by!! And it was a great week!

Yesterday Ao blessed the sacrament!!! :) He did awesome! It was so incredible to see him bless the sacrament for the first time. He is progressing so well! He really inspires us. He's preparing to receive the Melquisedec (I have no idea how to spell that) Priesthood in a couple of months. :) He also blessed the sacrament with the member that baptized him. It was really cool!

We met some really neat people this week! We've been striving to use each minute the best we can. Sometimes we finish a lesson a littler faster than planned, so we have ten minutes before the next appointment. We've been praying to find the people who are waiting for us in that time. Either we look for investigators who are progressing, less active members, or contact on the way.

One day we walked down a street and decided to take a turn up a callejon or alleyway. As we walked, we noticed a man smoking from the second floor of a house looking out into the street. We couldn't help ourselves. We said hi and introduced ourselves. We offered to leave a pamphlet on his doorstep and started to explain a little bit. He told us--hold on, I am going to go downstairs.


He came downstairs, and we shared a little bit of our message. He told us, I have been looking for peace in my life. I'm trying to do the right thing! We asked him if we could return to share more about how to find that peace in his life. We also felt impressed to ask him to be baptized so that he could have the guidance of the Spirit in his life. He accepted without hesitation!

It was so neat!

We returned on Saturday with a fabulous young woman from our branch to teach him. He said he had read the pamphlet and so we explained a little more to him. The young woman we went with is beginning to reactivate in the church, but still comes inconsistently. We've wondered and prayed to know how to help her and her family. We especially wanted to make sure that she was sure of her testimony. In that lesson, it wasn't even a question! Her testimony is powerful! It brought the Spirit into the small apartment room, and it helped him [the new investigator] to recognize this message as something more. It was cool to see how member missionary work strengthens the three of us. The investigators, members, and us as missionaries.

Later in talking with her mom, she said that her daughter was so excited to come with us to teach! Then this member told us, please keep taking her. It's helping her! Another one of her sons was close to coming to church this past Sunday, but he felt nervous going by himself. The family is so special! When one starts to progress in the gospel, it pulls the tie with another family member, and the family begins to propel forward in progression together. They are just really awesome, we feel at home when we are with them.

We also went to see a stinking awesome new investigator this week. He lives on just about the most extreme end of our area we could go. We weren't even sure that his streets existed because we couldn't find it on any maps. We met him super lejos [far] from his house in the area that we live in. He was pacing on the sidewalk in the street listening to music, I think. We passed by him, and we felt like we should talk to him. It was a typical awkward, how do we start talking to this kid or get his attention without having to literally poke him or interrupt his pacing. Well, we got his attention somehow (I think we shouted at him a little and waved around a pamphlet just joking) and he invited us to come by to share more!

The day of the appointment comes. We have to block out a couple of hours when we go to that area during our day for transport and visit time, but it was worth it. We found his house after a little bit of searching. Basically in the middle of nothing!

We started off with a prayer and shared a little message about our purpose there to help him. We asked questions to try to listen for his needs. He recently had a family member pass away. He shared with us his anxiety of losing another family member unexpectedly and we told him about God's plan of happiness and eternal families. He looked so attentive and had a knowledge and recognition in his eyes. He also accepted the invitation to be baptized! And committed to come to church with us! He even said the last prayer when we invited him. It was great!
We were practically giddy coming back down the hill onto the highway, when Hermana C said...we should go look for Hermana so-and-so to see if she's home. We had never met this less active member and she was basically never home when we've been up there. So we decided to go by.

We stood out in her lot and shouted BUENAS TARDES for a what felt like a solid 10 minutes. Clearly someone was home, but no one was coming out...awkward. Well, this sister saw us from her balcony and decided to come out to talk to us. She welcomed us into her home. It turns out that she is very hard of hearing--basically deaf in one ear. She doesn't hear when we are outside shouting. It was a blessing she came out at all! As we sat and talked and got to know her a bit, she told us that she had stopped coming to church for a little bit and felt a need to return. "In fact," she said, "I had just made an inner commitment to go to church this Sunday. Because you two are here, it's a confirmation to me that I really do need to go."
And she did! Yesterday she came to church on her own! She was beaming as she participated in the classes and made sure to say hi to us when she got there--just to be sure that she kept her word. :) I just love that. I am so grateful for the blessing of seeing people progress in the gospel and especially when they accept the Atonement of the Savior.
Something that I have witnessed is how crucial it is to be consistent and diligent with members who have separated themselves from church. Don't give up. Be confident in them and love them! Most of all, be diligent. It's so important. Retention and reactivation in church is just as important as finding, teaching, and baptizing. Yesterday, a less active family we have known for months now set up an appointment to have a family home evening.


It's progress no matter how long it may take. LOVE IT.
We had a great week and are looking forward to another week of finding and teaching and serving. I love being a missionary! 
If you would like to, here is a link to an awesome talk about the Atonement which is one of my FAVORITES. It's called "The Savior Wants to Forgive":
Hope you all have a beautiful week!
Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius

Last week we went to see the pyramids of Xochicalco!! And we went with some of our most favorite people, Hermana C and M :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Week 62! "So...Who Speaks Spanish?"

From 3/16/15

Hola Family and Friends!!
¿Como estan? Bueno, la verdad es que no tengo mucho mucho tiempo hoy para escribir. Pero, queria decir que AQUI ESTOY, todavia vivo! Hoy fue un dia muy bueno, fuimos a conocer a Xochicalco. Son piramides en Morelos. Mi compaƱera, yo, Hermana M, y Hermana C disfrutabamos mucho de estar juntas y tomar fotos chistosos. Luego lo subo esa fotos. Estoy pensando en espaƱol. Esto es mas facil....

We had a great week. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks, but we’ve been doing the best we can to find those that are waiting for the gospel. Tenemos un desafio en la mision a leer un promedio de 10 paginas diarios del Libro de Mormon para acabarlo en 65 dias. El mismo tiempo en lo que jose Smith tradujo el libro. Y...
In reading in the Book of Mormon this week, I’m realizing just how much the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and shows us how to diligently live the gospel. Each choice we make during the day allows us to exercise our agency and truly show the depth of our faith and conversion.
I love the example of both Nephi and Lehi! Lehi was a good dad. There are no perfect parents or families, but Lehi never hesitated to share his testimony with his family, especially his sons who needed it most. I also love how Nephi’s faith allowed him to overcome extremely challenging trials. With each difficult moment that he endured, his faith grew and strengthened sufficiently to endure the next (sometimes more intense) trial. I’ve been trying to remember that example this week when small trials face us. I love when Nephi says:
“Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.”
My district leader also told us something great! There will always be days when things go wrong, but don’t let these moments discourage you. They can disappoint you but discouragement impairs our faith. :) So that’s what we’ve been striving to do!
A tender mercy this past Sunday was in our gospel principles class. There were three male investigators in our class and our recent convert, Ao. Our gospel principles teacher was also a priesthood holder who gave a lesson on….the priesthood. It was really powerful to see the potential that these men had! And it testified to me the work and purposes of the Lord go on. :) It was really great to be able to see how areas can become. I was grateful for that moment that the Lord taught me a little of how He might see this work.
We had a huge blessing this week of being instructed from 3 members of the Seventy and their wives this week. Elder Peiper, Elder Clayton, and Elder Miron taught us about the Principles of the gospel and also opened a "question and answer" portion of the conference. It was super cool to see how they let he Spirit direct their answers and teachings. The spiritual impressions that we received might have been different from the words that were spoken, but the ambient allowed us to be instructed in a special way. At the very beginning of the conference, what struck me is that Elder Clayton invited each stake president present, President, sister Kusch, and the members of the seventy and their wives to bear their testimonies. It was a powerful experience to hear their love of the Lord.
I am grateful for the gospel in my own life. It helps me in ways that I cannot number. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I'm grateful for the love He has for each one of us. The number of times I see that in a day for strangers and for us too is impressive:
One day this week, we went to visit a less active member of the church--who was not home. We saw a woman sweeping outside her house and felt impressed to speak with her. She verbally expressed disinterest...but there was something about her that filled us with great love and gave us a feeling to stay where we were. We took interest in HER. We asked questions about who she was, and how she felt. She slowly opened up to us, she explained that in a difficult time of her life, she went to an LDS church on her own account and went several times until she felt more stabilized. We invited her to learn more.. She had a tiredness in her face and spoke with weight in her voice. When we spoke with her, love filled our hearts and we felt more capable of sharing the gospel with her. It was special.
Those moments helped me realized how greatly our Heavenly Father loves us. I hope each one of you know that; and know that you have a great purpose in this life!
I love each one of you and appreciate all the support you give to me and to my family. I hope that this week is awesome for each of you. :)
Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius
Photos from the Special Conference of March, 2015 for the Mexico, Cuernavaca Mission, including the presence of visiting General Authorities.  NOTE from Ashley's dad: Ashley is in the front row on the far right hand side of the second photo - if she's in the first photo, I couldn't find her.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Week 61! "Coincidences..."

From 3/9/15

Hola Family and Friends!!

I'll just jump right into this week. It had its highs and a few lows. Some days we simply could not find people home and/or find others willing to hear from us, BUT we were able to see many many miracles that were so special for us. One that is absolutely the best was meeting a guy named G this week!

We got on a bus nice and early one morning to go to our next appointment only to realize that we were in fact, a little too early. We had planned to see someone specifically, but decided to walk down another street and visit a less active member of the church. I remember that we didn't really hesitate to go with our new plan, even though we had no real idea if this sister would be home or not. We took off down the street when a young man in a wheel chair passed by us and said (in English) "Good Mornin'!!" and wheeled off.

Hermana C and I looked at each other and just thought, "No we HAVE to go back to talk with him."

All we said was "HEY you speak English! Did you live in the U.S. before?"

"Yeah, I'm from California, I'm actually Mexican but I came back to live here about six years ago...."

Then from there, this complete stranger just opened up his life to us. It was the neatest thing. I can't explain it. It felt like we already knew him. Like when you awkwardly run into someone that you know--but you can't remember their name or from where you've met them. It's like a familiar frustration, you know? haha.

He shared a few very difficult experiences that he's passed through in his life - a few from bad choices he's made in his life, and others that are natural trials. About 5 months ago his mom became very six with cancer and passed away. His family has also pushed him out of their lives and have offered little to no support.

G used to be in a gang in Los Angeles and became involved with the vices that accompany that kind of lifestyle. One day, he was caught in the middle of a gun shooting--where he was shot and the bullet passed through his arm to his back and spinal cord, which left him paralyzed. Since then, he has been in a wheel chair.

Came back to Mexico and tried to get by. He works with his roommate on a highway in our neighborhood where they fix motorcycles and other bikes. Wow, and he has stories!! He shared with us that of all that he has gone through and seen and experienced--his greatest worry has always been for his own family. He really misses his mom. He's funny. He told us, "Now hey, I'm not a momma's boy, but I just miss my momma, that's all." :)

He's really just feeling the need for change and to be someone better. He has already made so many changes in his life. He's abandoned a lot of his old habits and actions. The best part about being a missionary sometimes is being able to share the antidote to guilt or pain through the gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. All that he expressed to us was his sincere desire to start over. To begin again.

We invited him to be baptized and he said, "but I've already been baptized" (we're thinking that it was in another church, right?) and so he accepted right there in the street without hesitation.

We scheduled an appointment to come back and see him and his friend. As we left, Hermana C and I talked about how we could see him as an active Priesthood holder already. We pictured him serving in the Church and having his own eternal family one day too. Later in the week when we went and invited him to church he said, "Sure I'll go, but with me in the wheel chair, how?"

A member of our branch offered to pick him up with us on Sunday and we took him to church. There, the members were all over it. They helped him get to the bathroom, up the stairs, down the stairs, into the classrooms out of the classrooms and back home. He was SO nervous, but he was SO AWESOME. He said that he LOVED church. It was really cool to see how the members helped him feel comfortable there.

Later again on Sunday, we passed by to visit him. And we made a discovery...he's already a member! Remember when he said he was already baptized? Well he says that it was in this church!! :) He told us that he was baptized when he was about 8 or 9 years old. He said, "I remember that my mom was baptized also."

WHAT? So super cool!! We want to help him to understand the gospel and be an active Priesthood holder soon too. :) We have been working hard to find more men in our branch with the priesthood so that they can strengthen this area and that we can become a ward soon! And here G is! We told him too, "Hey, you know that if we can't find your baptismal record, you're gonna have to get dipped in the water again." :D

"IMMA GET DIPPED!!" hahaha.

We are so excited!

Speaking of SUPER EXCITEMENT, Ao was ordained to the office of Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood this Sunday! Ahhh! :') He's made the biggest changes in his life and is just progressing so so well! We're hoping that next week he will bless and pass the sacrament. He told us that he is excited and also humbled because of the responsibilities and duties of the Priesthood. We are also on the hunt for a wifey. Soooo, if ya'll know of a cute Mormon girl for him--preferably one that can speak Spanish haha--that'd be great!

Another super awesome experience was in teaching an investigator this week. It was last Sunday with a member of our ward with D. We've taught D occasionally since November. It had been difficult to find them home or available. At the time that we taught them, we also felt like we were missing something. We could never figure out why, until one lesson a little while ago.

D had been participating in a practice of worshipping something called the Santa Muerte. We didn't know this was going on while we taught him and so we invited him to live the commandments and only worship God. The Santa Muerte is a practice that is pretty serious around here and is frowned upon--we called our leaders to know what the standards of the mission are regarding teaching investigators who practice such beliefs. We were counseled to teach him clearly the first great commandment and to invite him to make the necessary changes in his life to live the gospel more fully.

Then, we saw him last Sunday. We had invited D to be baptized just about every visit, but he never could say yes. This time, we invited him to truly pray to know, to truly ask in faith if he should be baptized and that if he received an answer--that he would. He accepted the invitation. We asked him if he was still practicing la santa muerte. He's said "No, I'm done I haven't done any of that, and I'm praying now!"


A few days later, we were in the street and decided to knock on a door to look for a future investigator, when down the road came D with a big smile on his face. He said hi, walked past us, came back to shake our hands and this lady too and then walked away. :) He was happy for sure! And that was all!

We saw him on Thursday afternoon to confirm our Friday appointment. He hurriedly took out chairs onto his patio so that we could talk, he said "I have been meaning to talk to you two! I'm thinking that I need to get baptized!"

What? How? or...what did you just say?

"Yesterday as I was walking down the street, I decided to pray in my heart and ask God if I should get baptized and that I needed an answer or a sign or something. Then, almost immediately, I ran into you two on the street. I was thinking, wow that was pretty clear. But as I kept walking and turned the corner, I ran into two more missionaries that were coming up the road. I know that was and answer. I need to get baptized".

Ahhhhhh!! He was so happy! We asked him how he felt.

"Good, I really feel happy!"

So cool. We have just seen so many 'coincidences' this week of running into people, or finding new investigators or meeting less actives. It was all just really special. It makes the sometimes difficult moments understandable and worth it.

Our mission President has invited us to pray more fervently and with more faith for miracles and to work for them. We have been encouraged to raise our vision and goal of what we can do and who we can become so that we might be able to be a part of real growth in this beautiful country. We are definitely witnesses of the promises he extended to us.

"Ask and ye shall receive."

If we ask for that which is righteous in faith, believing that we will receive, the Lord will help and bless us. And there were days when those prayers have been directly answered. It's taught me a lot more about the power of God and His love for us.

And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. 
[Mormon 9:19]
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Fernelius
P.S. One of our investigators told us that when he told his dad that we are teaching him his dad says, "They've gotten to you too?" His dad thinks that the Mormon missionaries are 'invadiendo la colonia', or invading the colony/neighborhood. -_-
Monday, March 2, 2015

Week 60! "Jair the Baptist..."

From 3/2/15

Hola Family and Friends!!

How are you all doing?? Thank you for the letters and photos. So great to hear that my cousin Anthony is home! Hope he is doing well! Please tell him I said hi and would love any missionary advice from him.

This week we taught two little sisters named F and M. We talked to them about the baptism of Jesus and showed them a picture that looks something like this:
"Do you know who is on the left?"

"Diosito (Jesus)"

"That's right---Jesus Christ! Now, do you know who is on the right side? Who baptized Jesus? His name starts with a J....?"
"So close. His name was John the Baptist."
"A" for effort Sister F, "A" for effort.
This week we've been teaching a teenager named E. We met him walking down the street. He was on the corner passing out flyers for a health store business he was just opening as a new personal consultant. As we passed by, he offered us a flyer. I have a habit of taking every flyer someone passes to me, because I understand what it feels like when people don't take our pamphlets. :( But I'm not bitter. SO I always take them. haha. Then last week, we passed by him again but I didn't realize that it was E because we were in a different part of town. Without realizing who it was, I felt like we should contact him. We introduced ourselves and he said, "I've seen you before. You walk a lot around here!"
"Yes we do." haha
We invited him to learn more about the gospel and shared a little bit about the Restoration with him.
We saw him later in the week for our appointment time and he hesitantly let us in--unsure of what we do as missionaries or what we were going to talk about. We got to know him and heard a little about his personal beliefs. We felt impressed to share the message of the Restoration with him. He was very interested in the experience that Joseph Smith had. We gave him his own copy of the Book of Mormon and invited him to be baptized. He said yes and we set another appointment to see him.
The following appointment, he spoke up first: 
"I've been reading the Book of Mormon!! But where do the names of the people come from? Where does the story start? What about this and that?..."
I love love love to see when people feel a need to learn more about the gospel. I love when people ask honest questions. I love when people have the faith enough to ask God about the truthfulness of the gospel. I love seeing people's reactions when they understand and have their questions answered.  We see this in E! When we went to see him this week, we talked about the Word of Wisdom and the Sabbath Day. He committed to live both commandments the instant he learned them. He told us that he did pray to know if the gospel is true and he is working to find his answer.
Another neat experience:
We went to eat lunch with a family that we see every Wednesday. As we plan for each week, we automatically write in the Eb family for Wednesday. We planned to share a story of faith with them that talked about tithing. As the food appointment was ending, this member family had two non-member relatives over, their other non-member house maid, and when, lo and behold, a business associate of them arrived with his wife....also non-members...AND we were going to share a message on tithing. Hermana C and I exchanged looks before sharing to make sure that we still felt comfortable about sharing this message. And we both felt okay, so we continued...
After sharing a short story of tithing from President Hinckley and bearing our testimonies, the business partner spoke up and asked to share his feelings. He thanked us for the message we shared. He said that although he faithfully attended another church he needed to hear about how the Lord provides for us when we trust Him. He said that he had gone through some uncertain economic times recently and that he felt the message was true and that it served to help him feel better and that his heart felt filled. His wife said she felt something peaceful and good inside. We felt grateful that the Spirit helped give us the courage to share a message that seemingly was out of place--but as we tried to do the best we could, maybe someone else was comforted.
Something I have been reflecting on is this quote from Elder Edward Dube:
"In the sight of the Lord, it is not so much what we have done or where we have been but much more where we are willing to go."
This week, I want to answer the call of the Lord to serve with a more positive response and attitude. And try to respond to the impressions of the Spirit a little more quickly. Personally, I am going to work on responding more readily "I'll go where you want me to go, I'll say what you want me to say, I'll be what you want me to be."
Hope you all have a great week! Love you all.
Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius
This is us right now in the Cyber. I was thinking this morning that mom would be really sad/mad if I didn't send anything. So HERE WE ARE :)

Sorry I have ZERO pictures since December. I took this picture five minutes ago: Hermana C and I got special rings today from Centro.