Monday, April 11, 2016

Goodbye Sweet Perú

Can you believe how fast the time has flown? I'm pretty blown away that this is the last email I'll be writing from a Peruvian Internet cafe with my black tag that's practically sown itself into my heart. I'm kind of at a loss for words, but I just want to share the love I've found in this special country and especially in this incredible work. Coming to Peru was more than a chance to meet and live a different culture, and I learned that pretty quickly after my first few days in Pátapo. It was even more awakening though to change from a hot, mosquito filled, sugar cane town outside of Chiclayo to the more isolated Guadalupe down south. In a town that is right next to a high hill with the Virgin Mary atop, I found faithful saints too and began to understand that the church is not floating on the surface here, but it's roots are deep and it is continuing to grow more and more rapidly. As I made a transition to Huanchaco, I developed a strong testimony of being my own commander, and understanding that I determine my own succes based on my faith in the Lord. I was sad to leave that beach-fronted town with artistic scenery but I couldn't have ended in a more beautiful spot than on the grounds of the Lord's House. Sleeping in a cuarto right next to the temple every night was a privilege but what was most exciting, is seeing that the Saints really are flocking towards the temple more and more. In reality, I can't write a list of all that I have learned, but the people I have been around in each of these places have left me more changed and improved than when I stepped off the plane in hot and dusty Chiclayo. 

A los amigos y mi familia que está en Perú, les quiero con todo mi alma. Hay una belleza que existe en Perú que es única y divina. No la encuentra en Machu Piccu ;), ni en las playas, ni en la comida, ni en el idioma. La encuentra en las personas que aman tan fuerte y son pioneros en una época de mucho obscuridad. Lo agradezco a Dios por enviarme a ustedes y nunca olvidaré las personas y las lecciones que aprendí. Tampoco no voy a dejar de hablar el idioma celestial (no es Alemán por los que vieron conferencia 😉) y cocinar ají de gallina. Volveré pronto y para los que no voy a ver, nos encontramos mas allá en los cielos, ¿diga? (: Les quiero muchísimo. Cuídense mucho.

Seems that that's all the time that I've got. I want to say that I have come to not just believe in Christ, but believe Christ and what He says. I believe His promise that those who ask will receive, and I have seen Him through the examples of so many people. The Church of Jesus Christ is the kingdom of God on earth and it is perfect and established in all parts of the world. The Book of Mormon is God's instrucction to us on how to get back home to Him and I read it every day to keep me on the path. I know that the purest objective of all that we do in the church is to keep our families protected, united, and happy. The Church of Jesus Christ is true, Joseph Smith restored it and brought the priesthood keys back again, and we will never lose it again. I love you all and I'll see many of you soon!!

Hermana Furness

P.S. I picked the most Peruvian photos I could from this past week and it turns out that I finally saw my first llama and we also ate guinea pig on top of that. Solid week!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Conference Weekend

So while everyone is raving about conference weekend, I had to say amen to the spectacular messages that the our dear leaders shared with us! I can hardly pick a favorite but I loved hearing Elder Uchtdorf's message from the Sunday Morning session. What an incredible story about the destroyed city in Germany--we should have such hope in Heavenly Father that He can restore us to our heavenly traits when we think that there are things beyond His reach or it goes against the laws of agency. Holland was amazing as usual and I died over the photo he shared of the "T-Rex named Tomorrow." There's a lot of trials that come our way and escape routes that pass us by because we simply forget to remember Christ. I've set a mental goal to refer my thoughts constantly to Christ this week and it's already been a great "tomorrow" today (: 

We had a pass by to Huanchaco this morning to do a study sesion with the hermanas and snagged a photo on the way out. Hna. Alvarenga and I are both very aware that our moms and dads are going to be hurting from a lack of photos from the mission...:3 

I told President Marler a little bit about 2 investigators we're working with who are incredible. Here's what I wrote:

We have 2 investigators that are really progressing--both are named Sonia. Sonia Muñoz, a young single girl who recently moved from Cajamarca came to 3 sessions of conference and had an incredible dream the other night after church--a man in white robes hugged her and came from waters in a lake, hugged her and said "I love you so much" and invited her to "follow me" into the waters. She decided to rethink her last minute flee to Cajamarca and will stay here. In the dream, the man supposedly told her that "you're just worried about work. Work is much MUCH closer than you think." Interesting, no?

The other Sonia, who's about 55 years old and investigated the church awhile ago, is pretty solid on being baptized on the 16th and is coming along splendidly. She didn't come to conference however and we plan on investigating why. I think Satan is trying to attack her and us by making us think that contact with her once in awhile will keep her afloat. I really believe that we need to make daily contact with her and keep her safe from Satan. We will be teaching her about tithing tonight and she really loved learning about chastity the other night. She's so adorable and I can't believe how much I cannot get frustrated or annoyed. It seems that every time we are in her house, an overwhelming power of love comes and I can't help but teach with so much understanding and care. I really feel like she's a chosen convert. 

We've been very blessed this week to see so many people thirst for the gospel and actively particpate in the branch activites. I love my Heavenly Father for blessing this area and us as a companionship in these last weeks that I have. The trials have still come, but I feel more confident and capable with each miracle that He gives us. I really took to heart what was said in conference--if we are distanced from Heavenly Father, we feel more entitled to His grace and blessings. If we are close, we will know of all that He gives us and we will not be ungrateful for what we receive. The Lord never gives more blessings to someone because of who they are or what they already have. The quantity and quality of our blessings is measure by what we are DOING to ask for them qualify for them, and is determined by our ability to recognize them. May the Lord bless each of us and let us SEE the blessings with spiritual eyes this week. Have a good one!

Hermana Furness

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Temple Trip!

I attached a photo today of our trip to the temple as Zona Primavera and Zona Central. The other is of the charla fogonera (fireside) we had on Sunday with my companion and the sisters from Primavera. Both of those experiences were spiritual highlights and I can't BELIEVE how much revelation I received. There were so many things I learned and the Spirit I felt was incredible. I am having some fantastic experiences and Sister Alvarenga and I are growing closer every day. This week we have some more meetings and best of all.......GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! Are you all ready?? I love what my companion is doing and we've both created a list of questions to things we want answers to--things both temporal and spiritual. I invited everyone to write up a quick list of things you are searching an answer to and dare you--not challenge, but DARE you--to put your faith in the apostles and prophets of the Lord to see if they don't answer them. The Lord is providing answers and direction 24/7 and we just need to tune into His channel to hear it! I testify that Heavenly Father does NOT wait until the moment when we don't know what else to do and are in a crisis to help us know where to go/what to do. He can give us constant direction and help if we turn our will over to His-the very thing which provides a deeper joy and richer purpose. 

I came across a verse that I really love this week. It's found in Hebrews 5 in the New Testament in verses 12 to 14:

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age,even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

When I read the verse I wondered if I should be "drinking milk" or if I was mature enough to eat "strong meat." I think I overestimate the amount of doctrine I should learn sometimes before getting down the milk. The curiosity and thirst for heavenly doctrine might sound the most appealing but it won't do us good if our stomach (spirit) can't handle it. The key for me in these verses is in verse 14 that speaks of those that "have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." That is one of the hardest things for me to master--discerning the good and evil easily. I learned a lot in the temple today and admire that Adam and Eve were such faithful examples. They easily recognized Satan and understood what special blessings the Lord had given them. I desire to follow their examples and understand what comes from the Lord and what comes from below. For this reason I'm commiting to frequenting the temple and continuing to observe the Sabbath to maintain the ability to detect evil from righteousness strong. The prophets have warned us that it will be harder to do such things in these days when there are many who "call evil good, and good evil; that
darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20). May the Lord bless each of us this week to find the subtle evils that can enter into our spheres if we lay our guards down for a moment. I wish you all the best week; talk to you soon!

With love,
Hermana Furness

Monday, March 21, 2016

I feel like it's been awhile since I've wrote! Sorry for keeping any of you hanging but as far as a quick update on what's been going on in the mission: everything's been incredible! Hna. Alvarenga has been the best to work with and we're seeing quite a few fruits in the pool of investigators and less actives we've got. There's a mountain of spiritual highlights in the coming weeks as well--including a trip to the temple, a fireside between 3 stakes, a multi-zone conference, women's conference, and general conference! 

We're staying busy as sister leaders and have been learning so much from the sisters of the Primavera Zone! This week we had an amazing FHE with an investigator named Sonia who is truly converting to the gospel. The other night when we were teaching about Christ's church established on earth, Sonia said "so, THIS is the church of Jesus Christ? It has His authority and is lead by HIM?" My stomach filled with butterflies and I could hardly contain myself from jumping up from the sofa and squeezing Sonia to death. We of course told her that she was right and when we went to the FHE at her neighbor's home, we talked about the temples because she's been excited about going to the temple to learn more about it. She came to church for all 3 hours and went to the autosufficient classes later that day. Her only concern is the standards because she's not familiar with what they are and wants to know if she'll be able to live them. We thought it important to focus this week on helping her gain a testimony of faith of commiting to being baptized regardless of what the standards might be. It came to me to help her gain that testimony this week in Sacrament Meeting and it made me reflect a bit on my faith as well. It's so important that the testimony of an investigator isn't built after knowing what's required or knowing what new paths will bring. Faith is required before knowledge and Sonia must not let her fear of what she might have to do determine whether she'll do it or not. What if one of the commandments seems too hard to live? Would I deny the answer God gave me that this is His church and I should be a part of it? Would I only join the church because the commandments are easy to keep? Or am I willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to follow Christ and be a part of His church? 

I want to invite everyone to read up on faith in the scriptures this week. I don't have a chapter or verse for you to read, but I invite you all to take iniciative and SEARCH the scriptures on faith. If anyone has anything interesting, share it with someone and work to apply it in your life! The power of the scriptures is real and I know that God reveals higher and superior information to us through them. The very reading of scriptures is an act of faith alone in hoping that God will bless us and teach us if we read the words of His prophets. Happy scripture searching all!

Hermana Furness

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Dear family and friends, 

This week undoubtedly was one of the best weeks I've had in the mission! I'm stunned by my companion and the abilities she's brought to the area. I think I mentioned a bit about her in my last email, but after getting to know her better this week, I have to share a little about my dear companion Sister Alvarenga. (: She just came from an area called Laredo, I'm her 3rd companion, and she has about 7 months in the mission. She's from Entre Ríos, Aregentina and is 19 years old. She loves a good meat cooked on the grill and comes from a family of 6 who are all members--her older sister is currently training a new sister on her mission in Chile. Sister Alvarenga is one of the most humble people I have ever met and has completely changed my perspective forever on working with members. The relationship with the branch members in Villa del Mar is so different for me and I am more motivated everday to help them fall in love with sharing the gospel. We also have a kick-bomb mission leader, Brother Miguel, who is shifting the work into overdrive! There are some great changes being made in ward council and we're seeing much more involvement from the members. I can't wait to see the changes that can come! Just this last week we had a record amount of attendance at church-144--and we need to hit 150 to be able to convert to a ward! There were 11 investigators that showed up to church and we feel like it was due to the incredible things we learned in concilio this week. 

President Marler, Sister Marler, and the assistants talked a lot about "inspired questions" at concilio and it has made a world of difference in our teaching. We really narrowed down the questions that usually get asked to stop "checking for knowledge" and start "checking for understanding." Our lessons have become considerably shorter despite the investigators and less actives talking more, because we have to teach little when we ask inspired questions and THEY become their own teachers. It's so incredible what a small tweak in the machine can do. We have been able to reach to so many people and devote time to multiple activites. 

I read a great article a couple months back that I invite you all to read from the December Liahona. It's about asking questions in the right way and for those who teach others, it's highly recommendable. Read up here!

My time is up for today but I hope this week is incredible for each one of you. I am loving the work more than ever and can't wait to see what this week brings. We'll be going to Otuzco to do the zone training and share these goodies about "inspired questions" with the other missionaries. Have a great week!

Hermana Furness

Monday, February 29, 2016

Have I got NEWS!

Just have to let you all know, I am working with one of the greatest sister missionaries in the world!  This week I met my new companion, Hermana Alvarenga from Argentina, and we had one of the best weeks ever on my mission. We accomplished so many things and found so many people! I'm going to take up Sister Smith's advice and basically type my whole week out since I haven't had a wink of time to write in my journal.

So on the day of transfers--Tuesday that is--we were able to visit an investigator we have been trying to visit for the month and a half I have been here. Her name is Mirella and she desires to investigate the church a lot more and attend church weekly but her husband doesn't want anything to do with us. She recently found out she's pregnant and is so scared that she won't be able to raise her children well without a steady home situation. We shared the family proclamation with her and it brought her a world of comfort. She desires to make Jesus Christ the focus of her home. We also visited that day with a recent convert of less than 2 years who is struggling to be consistent in her attendance. We've been trying to have a heart to heart with her and it finally happened! She felt so frustrated because she feels like she is trying to do the right thing and doesn't feel good. Her son, Christofer is rebelling against all the church activity and she wants to feel peace because she is trying to make good choices. We talked to her about trusting in the Lord and continuing on even when it gets hard and promised her that the Lord will make it known to her why these trials are happening. Our last visit was with a less active who was the pension of the hermanas before, and she also has a son who prefers attending the Catholic church instead of the church of Jesus Christ. Ah! There were so many great people we visited that day.

 Ok, so I gotta be more brief (: Wednesday, we found out that 3rd times the charm. We contacted for the 3rd time a reference from the gospel principles teacher, Silvia Holguien. The reference's name is Sonia and she was pretty closed off because she had doubts about the BOM. We gained her trust though and delivered a powerful lesson and when we came back on Saturday, her son joined us and we watched the 20 minute video of the Restoration that melted them. They have agreed to pray and read the BOM to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God and expressed their understanding of how to recognize an answer. I can't wait to follow up with them! That same day, we finished our intercambio calendar that's got all our divisions with the sisters planned out along with the study visits; we also did a small service project with Silvia and she talked about some mission stories and we discussed the beautiful things that teachers experience. She is an incredible example to me!

Thursday we found 3 new investigators that have been SO prepared by the Lord. We invited each of them to baptism and we were able to help them recognize what the Spirit is in their first visit. We also got some great help from the ward in obtaining some references and we met a less active who prayed with us for his first time in 15 years. He teared up after praying and we talked to him about how that's what it feels like to "come home to God" after so much time of being away. 

All the weekend went well and we met up with our new mission leader who has great plans. Unfortunately, I've got seconds on the clock and gotta go. Hope everyone has a great week and I invite everyone to share the gospel with a loved one! 

Sister Furness

p.s. this is a photo of our new district eating at our pensionista's house. Happy P-Day!

Last of many Changes

Solamente quería escribir y decir discúlpeme por los que leen mis mensajes de grupo y no hablen ingles X) Pero me gustaría a mantenerlas actualizados con mi misión entonces sus nombres están en la lista (: ¡Dígame si quieren ser quitados de la lista! 

Wow. Can't believe the time. My time with Hna. Smith in Villa del Mar has been an incredible experience and just have to thank her for the amazing and priceless life lessons she has taught me. This ward is truly growing and I hope to see some more growth with my new companion, Hna. Alvarenga! She is from Argentina and I have met her before; she is a very hardworking, obedient, and joyful servent of the Lord. I know we are going to see some incredible things happen in the next 8 weeks and will be keeping all of you updated! (:

So for lack of time--sorry everyone!--I just have to say that having the Smith family here was a privilege and honor to serve with a faithful, gospel-centered family. They were a hoot as well and Dad better get the tractors ready for a spin when they come to my homecoming 😆. As well, I want to mention a great scripture that I found in D&C 121:41-43 today in studying for a family who can't feel the "harmonizing sound" of the "gospel music" in their home, who we will be teaching later today. Read it. Gotta go!

Hna. Furness