Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Well this is a weird feeling... I don't even know where to begin. It doesn't feel any different than any other day and yet my brain is telling me how weird it should be to be writing the last email of my mission. I have been wondering what to write in this email and decided on this. The following is a list of people who have meant a lot to me on my mission and why. It is by no means a complete list. I have learned on my mission that the peopl you know and associate with really have a great impact on your life and so I hope that these people reflect the good change that I feel has come about in me over the past 18 months (Friday is my 18 month mark.)

The Crandells: They were the first family that welcomed me into the mission. Whenever we came home I really felt like it was home. They have a way of making people feel so loved. It was wonderful to have such Christlike examples for us. I spoke with them yesterday and the sisters recently had to move out, so I feel so blessed I was able to be one of the sisters who lived with them.

President Kleinman: As an American presiding over a Hispanic congregation I was able to see the influence of his love for those people. As I watched his example my love for the people I serve grew as well.

The Parras: I will never be able to repay this family for the kindness they showed me. Hermana Parra was like a mother to us, and even with the stresses of their own family life she never hesitated to serve us, especially when we never asked nor excpected it of her. There is a special place in heaven reserved for her and her family.

The Farnsworths: Working with there family was probably the first time in my life I was able to see the conversion of a willing heart to the Lord. I will be forever grateful that I was able to see the change the gospel brought on that family.

The Mestres: They helped me to understand the power of friendships and the fact that there are no need for barriers as I watched them fellowship families into the church even though they themselves haven't yet been baptized.

Yuri and Destiny: I was able to see the strength of an inner testimony and the different ways it is expressed as well as the example and the closeness to the Lord of a child.

Hermana Rodriguez: She showed her love for the gospel as she showed her love for us. She was a mentor to us and took every opportunity to strengthen us as sisters and give us advice for the future, advice which I will never forget.

Laura: I have never seen someone so converted to the gospel in such a short time. Her spiritual sensitivity is something that many of us should strive to attain and it is something that she naturally embraces.

Rogelio: Teaching him and seeing his experiences I learned the power of the atonement and the importance of dedication in this work. I saw him humble himself to show his love and gratitude for the Savior.

Juan Ortega: He taught me to stick to your commitments, and to be dedicated to the direction and guidance that the Lord gives you through His Spirit. He taught me never to doubt in the Lord's commands.

Romina and Marcelo: I learned the power of famillies in the face of adversity and the great trust the Lord has in the mothers and fathers he sends his children to. For them family comes first and always, and God is the most important part of our families.

The Francos: Another example of family love. In this family it doesn't matter who is an uncle and who is a father, all of the children look up to these four brothers. I have never heard a shout or insult but have seen the children grow and learn. I learned from Sister Franco how important it is to testify to your children.

Carlos and Myrna: I learned how to expand my family and how to become part of someone else's family. They taught me the importance of patience and love in missioanry work.

I am running out of time and there are so many more people who are so important to me here in Mesa, Arizona. My family has grown so much and a part of my heart will always be here in Mesa. I know that every day has just been a blessing from the Lord and that that is what He wanted for me, to be able to love His children. I feel like nothing that I write can do justice to this experience and that there is nothing that can appropriately close it. And at the same time I feel like that is important, that once a mission is 'opened' that it should never be closed but that the work of the Lord should always be a part of our lives. And I know that at least speaking for myself it always will be.

Desde Mesa, con amor.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

December is moving along rapidly, with all the business of the lights. It has been really great to be a part of this again. At the very beginning of Christmas lights I met a couple who brought their brother and sister-in-law in. I met them one day and talked with them. Then they came in a few days later and remembered me right off the bat, but I struggled remembering who they were. They remembered where I was from though and that I would be going home to Morocco. The one couple were members but their in-laws were not. I started the Joseph Smith movie for them. I had asked them periodically throughout our visits about whether or not they had filled out a referral card, but when they told me that they had been given the chance I didn't bother them again about it. I came in the next day however, and one of the other sisters handed me a referral card that had my name and a note on it. It said that because of the time I had spent with them that week that their family has decided to learn more about the church! And then it had all of their information on it so that I can call them and send the missionaries to go see them. I love little experiences like that because it shows why we really do missionary work. It is for the people. The time that we spend with them counts, maybe not immediately but it sure does in the long run. I hope to remember little (but big in my life) experiences like that throughout my life and to be able to apply it in all aspects of my future.

Carlos wasn't able to be baptized last week, because he had to work. We discussed all options with him, but weren't able to make it work so we changed it to this weekend. I am excited for that baptism and he is now too. He was really sad when he couldn't get baptized but had to work so that he could pay his rent last week. He even asked if he could be baptized on Sunday instead, but because of the Christmas devotional that wasn't possible either. We will continue praying that he will be able to be baptized this Saturday, because that will help his family so much.

Gabriel has also accepted to be baptized. He has always said that he has wanted to but that he didn't feel ready, so he hasn't commited to a date and worked towards it. However, we had a really powerful lesson with him and promised him that he was ready for baptism and just needed to show his faith and take the step so that he could learn more. He still was hesitant until Sis. Rodio reminded him that I am going home, and he almost immediately said that he would get baptized before I left. Normally I wouldn't feel comfortable with an investigator decided to get baptized just because one of the missionaries is leaving even though they aren't ready, but in this case, we know that he is ready to be baptized and just needed to decided when and work towards that goal. I have learned on my mission that setting goals is important because we have something to work towards. Even though we may not feel prepared or able to reach something, when set that goal the Lord sees our faith and helps us to achieve it. It is the same with baptism. Even though they don't feel like they know enough or will be able to get over their addictions, when they chose a date or a goal to work towards, the Lord pours out His help and blessings because of their faith. Gabriel will be baptized on the 18th. I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord and his children. Part of me wishes it could never end, but I know that the Lord calls us for a specific period of time and then we must move on to the next thing He has in His plan for us. I am looking forward to making this last little time as unforgettable as the rest has been.

Desde Mesa, con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nov. 30, 2010

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Our week was really good, especially with the start of the Christmas lights. On Thanksgiving we had a lunch with all the missionaries from the VC and then we were able to go out into our area because they didn't need all the sisters assigned at night. Unfortunately we don't find holidays very effective missionary times, especially at night after everyone has had a lot to drink so we were only able to visit 2 families. On Friday the lights started. It is amazing how the VC can go from almost empty one night to completely packed the next. Saturday was one of the happiest days of my life! First of all, on Friday Hna. Rodio at planning said that Romina, one of our investigators, really needed us to come over on Saturday because she was having a really hard time. She saw her at the VC on Friday (we weren't together because we are back to zebra companionships). So on Saturday right after our shift at the VC we rushed to her house, only to find a mini surprise bday party for me that my companion had put together (isn't she awesome!). It was so nice. Romina and her sons had decorated a big sign and she even wrote happy birthday in french and arabic for me. She got me a cake and oreos (Hna. Rodio and I love oreos, well, I love them now because she always has them so we have tons at home). Best of all however was a dvd she made us. She always makes her parents and in-laws dvds of pictures and quotes and music for special occasions and always shows them to us, so it was so special that she made one for me! Then she drove us to Juan's baptism where I spoke and played the violin. I have never cried at a baptism before, I'm just not a crier, but I was so happy that after so many trials Juan was able to enter the waters of baptism. After that we had another miracle. When Romina dropped us off we went to go see Carlos. We really felt that he should be baptized this coming Saturday, but whenever we set a date with him something comes up and he misses church, so we knew we would have to focus on that first. While we were talking to him however he said "I'm goign to church tomorrow." (we hadn't brought up the topic yet). "Sisters, I was at Walmart with Eric (his youngest son) earlier tonight and I turned to him and said 'Eric, we are going to church tomorrow. I have no more excuses.'" We were sooo happy! Then on Sunday morning we were walkin to church and felt like we should stop by Carlos' house to confirm he was still coming. Right before we walked up a car pulled up and two men got out and were talking to Carlos. We just knew they were inviting him to go look for work. We walked on in and waited for him inside. His wife Mirna was talking on the phone to his mother in Mexico. When we came in she said hello and then explained to his mother that the sisters were over. Then she proceeding to tell her that last night Carlos had asked her to find his nice pants and fix his nice shirt because he was going to church tomorrow (he usually goes in jeans and a tshirt). She also said that that very morning he told her that he was going to get baptized. Mirna told her mother in law that she was going to get baptized right after her sons ot baptized. We were so excited to hear all that. We always knew Mirna wanted to get baptized after her sons and that one day Carlos would get baptized, but for him to say it from himself to his wife, without us talking much about it was a miracle. And the miracles continued when he came inside and the men left without him and when he and Mirna came to church together (she never comes if her sons don't.) What a great birthday! And it had started off in the morning with Hna. Rodio filling my bathtub with balloons and putting twixes everywhere and later hanging notes on the ceiling above my bed. Hna. Rodio really helped to make my birthday great! Then yesterday was really weird because they changed our farewell dinner so that we went last night with the people who left this morning. It was fun but weird because out of the 11 of us there only 3 were actually leaving today. The rest of us just got back in the cars and headed back to Mesa. We had a nice dinner with Pres. and Sis. Ellsworth and then a nice testimony meeting with all of us. It really was a great week! And I know that the next ones will be just as great! And a last minute addition, it has been pretty cold recently, my body is just not used to this weather anymore. And for transfer news Hna. Rodio and I are staying together and when I leave Hna. Chaca from Peru will be coming to her.

Desde Mesa, con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Yesterday I hit my month left mark. This time of year is just like a time of deja vu, because I was on my mission in Arizona for all of this last year. Today Abigail (Hna. Blades! she's been home 6 months!) came into the VC and I got to see her, Claudia Mestre, and Rosalva Farnsworth. I love them so much and am going to see if I can have permission to see some of the people in my old areas that mean a lot to me before I leave. I bought a memory card last week that will be filled just with people I love from my mission. Xmas lights start on Thursday, so everything is going to start moving a lot faster. Juan Ortega's baptism is this Saturday, and I am so excited! He has asked me to give the talk on baptism. Hna. McBride is coming and I am also way excited to see her! This past week has been good, everyone getting ready for the holidays. We have had some very full days, which I love. At the beginning of the week we were given some braided bread. The bread people (that's all we know to call them) home make this delicious bread and sell it, but give it to missionaries free. It is prety funny, because if they see you, they will follow you till you stop and get out of you car and then run up to you with a loaf or two. Now that we are on bikes we are much more noticeable so they will pull over and catch us all the time. Last week they gave us 2 loaves but we were out at appointments so we decided to give one of the loaves to some less-actives. The Alvarez family are the ones who feed us for free every weekend, because they sell food in their backyard. They make delicious food so we didn't think that our little loaf of bread would be a big deal, but when we gave it to them they were so grateful, you would think that we had given them 1000 dollars. We saw them again on Wednesday when we helped Hna. Alvarez get ready for Los Tacos and played Uno with her children afterwards, and then again on Saturday when we ate with them. On Thursday my bike got a flat (we aren't sure how, we went in to an appointment and it was full and we came out after teaching and cleaning her house and it was empty). Luckily Edwin was home, our handy man investigator (meaning he works on cars and soups them up with things like Burberry leather that costs like 250 a yard...) On Saturday we met with Daniela. We had contacted her husband in a parking lot a few weeks ago but had never been able to catch them at home, but we did on Thursday so we visited her on Saturday. She had asked us to bring the DVD Finding Faith in Christ. She is so sweet and has a sweet little family. She immediately accepted to come to church the next day. (She didn't come but she just called me before the appointment we had today saying that she and her daughter were sick and that they didn't go to church because of the rain.) She is very sincere and we are excited to teach her and her family. Thanksgiving is our actually preparation day but since things are closed we had to email and shop today. We are going to have a dinner with the VC, just like last year. We have also been invited by our investigators Edwin, Shannon, and Nora, to come over to their home so we might spend a little time with them as well. I am excited to spend my favorite holiday here in Mesa again, but I'll miss Dad's chocolate pie, so I hope there is some for Xmas! I love you all and hope you remember all the things you are grateful for this week and always! I am grateful to have been born in the true restored church of Jesus Christ, for the blessing of being able to serve a mission here is Mesa, Arizona, for all the people that have become a part of my life here and for all the people who are still a big part of my life back home. And I am grateful for all of you! Happy Thanksgiving!

Desde Mesa, con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The second week of my favorite month is over and the start of Christmas lights is fast approaching. In the excitement of the concert miracle I forgot to mention a church miracle that had happened the day before. As previously mentioned we are teaching the Franco family and have recently started teaching the grandchildren of Hno. and Hna. Franco. They love when we come over and we love going over. On Sunday morning we invited them to come to church, thinking that as usual it would only be Gabriel who came. However, when we showed up to Gospel Principles we looked in to the classroom to see Gabriel and Hna. Franco! And they told us that all four children were in their respective primary classes. They were so well behaved and they loved it! They are such good kids. We are hoping that Danny will be able to be baptized by his dad, and then when his little cousins turn 8 they too will be able to get baptized. Recently we have been having a lot of time in our area, which we enjoy. We had 2 full days last week and 2 again this week. On Thursday we had exchanges. Hna. Nielsen came to Hna. Rodio and I went to Hna. Nielsen's companion, a new sister. Unfortunately she was sick the whole day so we weren't able to get much done, but Hna. Rodio reported that our area was great. We went back to the VC on Friday and were there every day this weekend, but were able to teach almost every hour we weren't there. This is such a busy and blessed area, but I find that I can only praise each of the areas I was in. I feel blessed to say that, and blessed that I had such great areas and that the Lord helped me love each one of them.
Yesterday was stake conference for the entire state of Arizona, broadcast from Salt Lake to all 90 stakes! It was cool to be a part of that. Bishop Burton, Sis, Thompson, Elder Cook, and Pres. Monson all spoke. Elder Cook has roots in AZ and I agreed with all the praise he gave it. Much of the conference, especially Pres. Monson's talk, was focused on 'rescue.' We went to the morning session and the English sisters (who went to both) told us that before the afternoon meeting our stake president got up and said "Knowing what is coming, I feel prompted to tell you that there are around 500 less-active members within our stake boundaries alone, enough for a ward." Hearing that statistic was crazy, 500! That is a lot of work ahead, but we have a great stake and I only hope that we as missionaries can keep up with the great work that the members here do.
Recently we have been reading the Book of Mormon with Carlos almost every night. It has been a really great learning experience for us as we have read from the beginning, one chapter at a time, trying to think as our investigator thinks. I have noticed that while the Book of Mormon can be read any direction, inside and out, and studied in any order, it really has great power when read from the beginning. We learn as Nephi learns, gain our testimony as he gains his, truly line upon line and precept upon precept. I had never noticed the emphasis the first chapters make on the importance of scriptures until reading it with someone who currently doesn't treasure the scriptures. It takes us reading with him for him to read, yet in almost every single one of the first chapters of Nephi, the importance of scriptures, the purpose of the Book of Mormon, and the gratitude of Nephi and Lehi for the sacred words are shown. I think that is just so cool! And Carlos is so attentive when we read. Well, not neccessarily attentive, because it looks like he isn't processing a single word, but afterwards when we ask him what he learned he is able to point out even the littlest details that it takes members years to notice. We are just praying that he will begin to make the necessary effort to live the gospel and not just believe it.