Monday, April 27, 2015

Week 68! "I'm Alive :-)"

From 4/27/15

Hola Family and Friends!
I don't have a lot of time - I'm alive.
We've seen a lot of blessings of being in the right place at the right time. We randomly knocked on a man's door looking for a reference named Hermano M. He didn't live there, but the man who answered the door let us in and said that while he lived in Cuernavaca many missionaries had contacted him, but he had never talked in depth to missionaries before. His wife came out, we introduced ourselves and said that we share a message from God. Then she burst into tears and went inside and closed the door. Uhhhh... What had we said wrong? Well, the moment that we knocked on their door, they had been fighting. His wife doesn't believe in God because of all the trials she has gone through in her life. And that on top of the struggles she's had, they have not been getting along in their marriage. It was so sad to see her husband cry too. We gave the best counsel we could in that moment - and we felt impressed to tell him that God sent us to his house as an answer to their prayers and struggles. We left with a return appointment and felt a great responsibility to help them.
It felt like Heavenly Father has given us a lot of challenging situations this week with our investigators because He trusts us. It's really amazing to think of how much the Savior loves us to help us overcome our personal challenges and trials. He bore all of these things before we ever did in order to know how to run to our aid. I know that He lives, I am grateful for His sacrifice and to be able to testify to others of Who will truly heal them and make them whole.
Have a great week!
Hermana Fernelius
P.S. There is a sugar factory in our area that literally looks like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. It is always sending white smoke out of the towers and it looks like it's from a movie.
There are SO many caña [sugar cane] fields here. It is an area that produces SO much sugar.
I will try to send a picture next week. 
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Week 67! "Spanglish"

From 4/20/15

Hola Family and Friends!

This was literally the fastest week of my life. I cannot believe that it is already Monday! We're all good, we're healthy, it's hot here. The fun times go on:

We got onto a combi with the Elders in our ward after our food cita [appointment] to go into our areas to go to work, when a VERY drunk semi-bilingual man got on the combi too. He sat next to my companion and pointed at the Elders and spoke to them in Spanglish the whole time. haha. They were in trouble for talking in Spanish and they were also in trouble for talking in English. This man could not be pleased. So he looked at one of the Elders and shouted in English: "ARE YOU A WOMAN OR A STUPID MAN?!"

It was beautiful.

My comp and I laughed until we cried. As the Elders got off the combi at their stop, the man tugged on the same Elder's tie a little then let him get off. Later he pointed to a young woman on the combi to get her attention and then to my companion, and said -- "She's from immigration...... DO YOU HAVE YOUR PAPERS?!!"

He tried to talk to me too. I ignored him. He says that I FOR SURE am half Cuban and half French. That's a new one. When Hermana Q couldn't handle sitting next to his sweatiness any longer, we hopped off that combi onto the highway and got onto a different one into town. Fun times.

In other news, this week really was great! We were able to see many blessings. One of these blessings was seeing an investigator in church yesterday for her first time:

We've been teaching her whole family for a couple of weeks. In our appointment this past Saturday she expressed her excitement to come to church and also told us that one of her daughters decided that she wanted to be baptized too. There were several other investigators who were supposed to come to church, but Sunday morning as we passed by for them, just about all of them canceled with us. :(

We walked into church alone. We arrived and decided to pray to feel comforted about our efforts to get people there and also our desire that more would still come. After we prayed we stepped into the foyer and immediately saw Sister M!

Sister M is the mom of this family we've been teaching. She was all dressed up and she looked nervous. Kind of like the first day of school. She sat with us and soaked up every minute of the meetings and classes. It was like the lessons were planned just for her.

Later, after church, we went to her house for a teaching appointment and taught her family about the Restoration. It was so cool!! Everyone in the family was there. The Spirit was really strong when we shared the first vision.

We came with young members of the church, named Sister V and Brother O. They are siblings. One is 19 and the other is 16. Brother O had never gone to an appointment with missionaries before and he was really nervous. We asked him to teach part of the lesson and to share his testimony. They both did a great job.

Afterward, as we walked home, he said that he loved going. He wasn't really sure about missionary work before, then when he went with us, he felt much more excited about going out with the missionaries. I think he literally said, "I'M SO STOKED to be a missionary...."

Yup something like that :) I especially love seeing youth grow in their faith and testimony. It's probably one of my most favorite aspects of missionary work. I love working with the youth and hearing their growth and progression. One of the young men that we visited often in my first area already has about 5 months on his mission. It's just so cool!!

I hope you all have a great week. Lots of love!

Con Amor,

Hermana Fernelius


BAPTISM!!  Brother F, his wife Sister C, and his son.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Week 66! "Repentance is Like Soap"

From 4/13/15

Hola family and friends!!!

Hope you all had a great week! Thanks for your emails and encouragement. This week was AWESOME!

Brother F was baptized on Friday! He's an amazing person. He says that he's been on a search for truth his whole life and when he started learning about the gospel, he felt that he finally found what he was looking for. After his baptism he shared a powerful testimony and I just felt so grateful to have been there and to see his excitement in taking this step.

Lots more happened this week!

I'm new to this area, and my companion is actually pretty new too. So there are many, many members that we still do not know. One of these members that has stopped coming for a couple of months now is named Sister C:

She and her daughter were baptized in January of this year but, like I said, have stopped coming for some time now. We went by her home and found her there, she let us in and we talked for a little bit. She is SO SWEET! I have to give her a hug every time I see her because she is just the sweetest sister ever. We sat outside of her humble house on her dirt patio and got to know her. We asked her directly what was keeping her from coming to church. She told us that she doesn't have a job or a source of income, so by the time the week ends and Sunday comes around, there is no money for transportation to church.

This was very concerning to us. The good news is that there are ward missionaries assigned to the Self Reliance Center in the Stake, designed to help people in this type of situation.

We set up an appointment to go back to visit her together with them, so that we could help her develop her capacity of self reliance in some way. When we arrived we discussed her needs in depth and talked specifically of how much she spends weekly on certain necessities. She has a part time job working at a store in her neighborhood. She washes the dishes, organizes the groceries, and does whatever little job that needs to get done. In turn she gets paid 25 pesos weekly and 3 pieces of bread and a liter of milk. 25 pesos is less than 2 dollars, and she gets paid in food because her boss knows that she has children.

The stake missionaries then asked her how much money she spends on food weekly. She replied, sometimes I only have enough to buy tortillas (which is about 80 cents in the U.S.). They asked more questions:

"Okay, but what do you eat, or how many times do you eat? Even if you spend money on salt, sugar, soup, rice, beans..."

Then she told us, "Well, my children and I usually eat one time a day. Sometimes if I have a little more, I make something to eat in the afternoon" (so that they are full longer).

Seriously, our hearts broke when we heard her say that! This sweet sister has been doing the very best she can on her own to support her children. She has a strong testimony of the gospel and an even stronger desire to keep the commandments, but she literally can't go to church because there is no money. She didn't complain to us, or make excuses or even ask for help.

We have been given so many blessings! Back home the church is a five minute walk from my home, and we always have more than enough to eat. The sisters in our ward and Relief Society are working to gather some food staples so that we can help this family get back on their feet.

This experience taught me a profound lesson.

On a happier note, we taught a new family this week. The couple is in their mid sixties and lives with a few of their grandchildren. They have many family challenges. As we talked and got to know them, it was so cool to see how open they are to our message. Even though we are total strangers to them and them to us, we starting talking as if we had known each other for a long time.

It was cool!

We felt impressed to teach them about baptism and repentance. I noticed that they started to pay close attention as we taught them that through Christ we can be cleansed from sin. Earlier I had dropped a paleta (ice cream) on my blouse and stained it. :( Que pena, right? I'm an embarrassment haha. I had tried rubbing it out with water earlier, but it didn't go away. So I carried a book in my arms all day to hide it. :) I told this couple about that stain. I asked the wife, so, I stained my shirt today, how do I get it out? She replied, By washing it. I told her yes, but I already washed it with water and it didn't do anything, what else do I need?

"Soap!" she said.

That soap is like repentance. In order to wash away the sins we've committed in our lives, we need to wash it with soap and water. We need faith in Christ, repent and make true changes and be baptized by immersion. We shared this scripture with the two of them:

"And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

"Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day."

The wife looked visibly different after reading this scripture out loud. We asked how she felt. All she could say was "good".

"How does 'good' feel?" we asked.

She told us, "When you read the words, 'repentance of all of their sins' I felt something inside of me." She then pointed to her chest and said, "I felt something like being satisfied or feeling filled."

I think that it was such an interesting description of the Spirit. She said that she felt satisfied and content. Like something was being filled. It stuck out to me so much. We taught them about how the Spirit feels and that the Spirit was testifying to her that this message is true! We invited them then to be baptized and they accepted! Tonight we are going by to teach them and hopefully one of their grandsons also.


This week we also met a new investigator whose name is Sister G and her sister M. The two of them are super young but look older than my companion and I. haha. Sister G is pregnant with her third child but she is only 19, and her little sister is a kick boxer who looks like she's 22 but is only 16.

We felt impressed to teach them about the Plan of Salvation. G was so super interested. They both accepted the invitation to be baptized. G kept apologizing because she had so many questions. (But every missionary LOVES questions. I love it because it shows their interest in what we are teaching).

We asked if we could set up an appointment for the following week. She then hesitated and said, "So, how does this work, can you only come by once a week, or....?"

We were puzzled. UH we can come by every day if you want (we kind of said this seriously but didn't think that she was serious).

"CAN YOU? I have so many questions. You can come by any day that you want. I want to know more!"


A few more random things:

1) I played piano yesterday in sacrament meeting. I don't know how they figured out that I play piano...since I just got here, but I love it!

2) I was studying this morning and remembered what [my former companion], Hermana N taught me from a long time ago. Maybe Salvation is personal, but Exaltation is with the family. After general conference and a few experiences this week, I've thought about the importance of our perspective of eternal families. It's the best.

3) We met two young men and women that are less active this week and we taught them that there are no coincidences and there is a reason that we live where we live and so on. As members were are in the exact place where we are needed. Then the young woman spoke up and said, I was just reading that this morning on Facebook. I put an image on my wall that says, "Lo que usted llama casualidad es la obra de Dios" ["What you call coincidence is the work of God"]. I like that phrase; there are few accidents :)

4) I will have 16 months on the mission this week. YIKES

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Fernelius
Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 65! "MIRACLES Are Real!"

From 4/6/15

Hola Family and Friends,

This week was AWESOME! Happy Easter! And happy General Conference!

Conference was so super awesome. If you were unable to see a session, watch it!! Each session was so powerful. Before going to conference, I had several questions and thoughts going through my mind. They were all answered. It truly is amazing to have living prophets and apostles who lead and direct the restored church of Christ on the earth. Watch it!

This week in our area was so wonderful and I've learned so many things. I love the way that Hermana Q teaches! She is great at asking inspired questions and helping children and adults alike find how the gospel relates to them.

This upcoming week, we are hopefully going to have a baptism. Brother F is an amazing person and he loves searching for truth. I was really impressed when I met him for the first lesson not only what he knew--but to see his conviction and faithfulness to that truth. His wife is Hermana C, a member of the church, who started coming back to church regularly about two months ago. They are both progressing wonderfully together and have made the gospel the first priority in their home. We are so excited for them.

We have seen many miracles although this week was irregular in schedule and activities. I mentioned that we were in the process of moving last week, so we found time for that, I got sick this week too, but there was still time for everything else, and we had more than normal conferences and meetings, but we still could do all the most important plans we had. The Lord helped us so much!

Yesterday, after conference we had about two hours of proselyting time before our missionary curfew. We went directly to our first plan for the hour. It was far away, and we were unsure if they would be home. When we got to the home---surprise! The parents of the girls we are teaching were not available. We spoke with the young girls outside and asked them if they knew of anyone else we could go visit. The girl responded no, at first. As she thought about it, she said, well there is someone that lives right there on the corner of the street.

"Who are they?" We asked.

She said, that's my aunt house, she's never gone to church before, but the Elders used to teach them.

We just about said, thank you and goodbye in the same sentence to the little girl as we headed off to the house. We knocked and a really happy woman greeted us. We introduced ourselves and invited her to hear more about the church. She told us, "right now, I can't be visited. I have a painful headache, but please come back again this week."

We set up an appointment and asked her about her family to know if they were also interested in hearing about the gospel. She told us that they are hardly ever home and that it was difficult to find them available. She paused and looked at us for a moment, then said, "Well, why don't you come inside and meet them. They are here right now. We've started talking out here, you may as well come inside and sit down."

YESSSSS!!!!! We incredulously hopped right on inside and met her family. :') They are a beautiful family! We spoke a little with them. Elders had met and taught them only a year before and they spoke about how they left an impact on them. The mom told us, "I loved how they talked about the importance of the family, they always talked to us about the family."

They were really humble as we spoke with them. I was impressed by their desires to change. As I watched them participate and listen and respond to our questions carefully, it was seriously the best to 'see' them feel something. We invited them to be baptized and they each accepted right away. They were unsure about being baptized in such a short amount of time, but as they let themselves be taught and motivated by their faith in Christ they accepted a baptismal date. We left feeling SUPER HAPPY! It was an answer to our prayers yesterday to find this family. It was another direct answer from a loving Heavenly Father.

Earlier this week, we were looking for old investigators but didn't know how to get to the street. We walked down the long highway and passed by a man watering his lawn. He caught my eye and I felt impressed that we should talk with him. Before I knew it, Hermana Q darted across the gravel path and asked him for directions. AWESOME. We talked to him for a little bit and invited him to accompany us at church. We also taught him about the Restoration of the gospel, he accepted another appointment with him and his cute wife his week.

It was so cool to see how we've been praying for such specific miracles (like finding a complete family or a future leader of the church, or future priesthood holder) and the Lord leads us to them. Most of the time it's by accident on our part. But it's definitely not an accident that we are trying the best we can and seeking knocking and asking, and the Lord gives us all that we need.

Like this afternoon, we went downtown to a commercial grocery store that has all the food a missionary could want at a great price and sometimes with American brand foods that you can't find anywhere else--aka paraíso yo. We got all of our dream foods, like milk that doesn't taste like cheese. haha, and got onto a combi (small bus) home. I'm laughing right now about the milk reference because we got onto the combi and Hermana Q told me how relieved she was to find cold milk (not from a carton) that didn't taste like cheese....when we suddenly hear someone next to us say. "Wow, it is so great to hear people speaking in English."

In perfect English!!!!  0.0 haha...I LOVE it when that happens because people tend to bring up the fact that they speak English right after you say something dumb (like I did this week. We passed by a man with a curly afro on our mototaxi, and I said, "Wow, look at his majestic hair. It's glorious, definitely better than mine can ever be."

Then the chauffeur says..."I speka little Inglish." 0.0 haha)

Back to the story! We started talking to this guy on the combi and we asked him where he's from.

"I'm from Las Vegas."

WHAT. ME TOO DAWG. I'M FROM VEGAS TOO!!!!!! "What part are you from?"

"I've lived everywhere, I used to live on Rainbow and Torrey Pines."


"We are basically NEIGHBORS sir!!!"

And Hermana Q is from another part of Nevada, so there was just a whole lot of commonality and normalness going down which was so weird. We made references to things back home and he understood!! Then we just start talking and I'm in total disbelief and shock at the strangeness and uncoincidentalness of this whole situation. My neighbor is on a random Mexican combi in this small town, and we just happened to get on the EXACT SAME combi out of the 12,000 who could've gotten on at the exact time that they did.

He and his awesome mystically quiet family member who was also on the combi have been to Utah and have met missionaries before. His grandma, who they were on the way to visit, used to be taught by Elders. Their gma's house is 5 minutes away from where we live. They invited us to go visit her and gave us their address so that missionaries could visit them where they currently live.


So cool, are miracles real or what? It was a clear witness of the love that Heavenly Father has for the both of us and it was a message to me that He knows where we are at and is working alongside us. He's sent us here together for a reason to help the rest of His sons and daughters who are within our reach to help. We can't do everything but with Heavenly Father's help we can do enough. We can do exactly what He wants us to do. Wow, so cool. I know I write that a lot, but for real. It's awesome.

I love all of you so much. I hope you each have a wonderful week and count your blessings because I've personally seen that there are so many!!

Love you,

Hermana Fernelius

1) Random comment from conference: "Elder Bednar looks like a bird. Elder Birdnar." Se paso.

2) I went to the hospital on Thursday because I almost died after a cita [appointment]. (I'm being a little dramatic :) but not at the same time o_o) The doctor took a physical exam and an ultrasound, found nothing wrong, basically told me that I was crazy and sent me home. All is well now, Hermana Q took good care of me.
3) We didn't have a fridge this week, and we kept forgetting about it. So Hermana Q I think was also sad about it when we bought a little bit of bread and she says, "When we get home, I'm going to warm up my bread in the fridge." hahaha We didn't have a microwave for a week either so that was a little distressing also (joking) and it is clearly starting to affect our emotional wellbeing.
4) Introducing a new missionary vocabulary word: MANDMENT: Like commandment and mandamiento BUT BETTER
Love you all!!