Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The system signed me out right before my time ran out so it lost my email! I'm going to have to write a letter. I'm at the VC and got permission to send this just so you know it's coming.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's still summer

Last week we committed someone to baptism! So in 3 weeks will be the first baptism of my mission! We found Maria 2 weeks ago through the English elders and she has been really open to learn about the gospel. She had no problem accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet, in fact she really likes the story of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. As of right now she is going to be baptized in 3 weeks and we don't think that there will be any problems with that. Many of our investigators were sick over the past week and a half. There have been bad cases of flu throughout Arizona. Our Mission President has asked us to be really careful, but already 7 elders have gotten sick, 2 hospitalized. They were all in the same district though. As sisters we aren't as worried, because we are much more clean and cautious than most of the elders, we use hand sanitizer and wash our hands a lot. We haven't been able to teach much this past week because our investigators were sick or their children were sick.

Yesterday was the branch primary program. It was so cute. Also, our little branch swelled to 98 people! We only had 7 investogators at church but Hermana Mestre, the investigator waiting to get married, invited 2 of her sisters and their families. They took up an entire row! They were all so excited for Josecito, and he did so well. I think he was the only one in the Primary who had memorized his part. The wonder of wonder and miracle of miracles though, for probably the whole week, if not for many weeks, was the Farnsworths. I'm pretty sure that I have mentioned them before. He is a member and his wife is not. We have been trying really hard to get them to church, so hard that Hermana Blades' worst day of her mission (she says probably even her life) was a Sunday when we went over before church and he just came up with excuse not to go (it was the day we prayed for pizza). We did get them to watch a little bit of conference on their television 2 weeks ago and I think that was the key. Something must have hit Larry, and Rosalva was so touched by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Last time we went to visit them Larry offered the closing prayer and we could tell that he was really grateful we have been coming over. They were supposed to go to Mexico on Friday but her dad told her not to, I guess it has been dangerous around the border (we never really hear about this stuff). So instead they stayed home AND came to church yesterday! They are the one family our branch hasn't had faith in, because a few of them are familiar with Larry, so we really have been trying to pull them along by ourselves which is rare with our branch. But they came and the Spirit was strong because it was the Primary Program. Rosalva especially loved the Relief Society lesson on families. I was so shocked I almost didn't recognize them because they were out of place to me. I knew that one day we would get them to church, they had talked about coming after they got back from Mexico, but since we thought that they were gone and we hadn't invited them specifically to this Sunday as with others, it was a surprise. Her son also went to church, but he goes to an English ward with a friend. He has actually been a few times before. I wish every Sunday was the Primary Program!

We also had a Mission President fireside last night, where recent converts from around the mission come and share their testimony about their conversion. The missionaries bring investigators, other recent converts, and members. There are also special musical numbers between every two testimonies. I played This is the Christ on violin (thanks for sending it out mom!).

For any of you who are not following the weather here in Arizona, they have reached record highs for October. It was just over a hundred the last three days. Everyone has gone back inside, so it is hard finding people to talk to. I have surprisingly gotten used to this heat. I say "this" heat because I have gotten used to up to 112-115. When it goes higher than that next summer then I will have more getting used to to do. The worst thing is probably how tired it makes you. You are too tired to care about the sweat.

Well, that's the last week for you. I hope everyone is enjoying their nice fall weather and beautiful autumn colors. While it always looks like summer here, it also still feels like it!

De Mesa con Amor,
Hermana Ladd

I'm already running out of subjects lines...

My email this week will be rather short. We had transfers last week and now are in a trio. My new companion is Hermana Lopez, from Bolivia. I was in the FLSR with her older sister for 2 years. She is so sweet and nice, there is a lot that I have to learn from her. I am so glad that I stayed in this area, and am hoping to be here next transfer too. I love our little branch, everyone has such different, yet, strong personalities. We had a ward Family Home Evening last night and played a game where the person in the middle says something like "I love everyone who..." and everyone who matches the description has to get up and switch seats. We were playing it with full grown adults, who had grandchildren, the youngest player was 12, followed by us sisters. It was so funny to see how they all got into it and argued (jokingly of course). The ward members make me smile everytime I see them, in church, at meals, at activities, etc.

Our investigators are the same way. I find myself saying every time we leave someone's house "I love them so much, they are my favorite," and then we go to someone else and I find myself saying the same thing. They really become your family out here. I found out about Grandpa the morning of transfers while we were visiting with our strongest investigators, the Mestres, because it was their daughter's birthday. So when I got the call from President, they were all there for me, which really helped, because I wasn't alone. I hope that everyone back home is doing well, I'm sad I couldn't be there during this time, but at the same time, there is no other place I'd rather be right now than teaching other people how their families can be together forever. And when you really focus completely on the work then you forget about your own personal troubles. My testimony of the plan of salvation is just that much stronger, which also means that my desire to share it is that much greater. I'm grateful for all the time that our family was able to spend together over these last few years, and I'm grateful that you are all there for each other. You too can use this experience to share the gospel and your testimony of the plan of salvation and the wonderful blessings of the restored gospel. I send everyone my love, especially Grandma. I'm so grateful for the wonderful example you and Grandpa always gave to us. Like I said, today's email is short, and I will have to continue in handwritten letters.

De Provo [sic] con amor,
Hermana Ladd

(mom's note: she is not really in Provo ;-)

End of transfer 1

So here it is TRANSFER NEWS: I'm getting a baby sister! Yep, not only is Hna. Blades training again, but we are both staying in the area, so we are going to be in a trio for the next 6 weeks. That is really unusual, but this was a hard transfer for President, I'm sure. There are 4 Spanish sisters coming in tomorrow, and of the 10 Spanish VC sisters we have now, 4 of us have been here for 2 transfers or less, so it was hard to have enough trainers.There are 2 training trios this transfer, mine and then Hna. Cochran is in one as well, but her trainer is leaving and a new one coming in. We found out officially how it was all going to work out Saturday night, but we had some clues since Wednesday. For example, we knew we would be in a trio, because we live with members and Elder Willis the housing coordinator called us to get permission from the members, see if we could fit 3 sisters, etc. And then on Thursday he called us back and told us for sure there would be 3 sisters. There were still a lot of ways it could have happened, so Saturday night was greatly anticipated. Hna. Blades is pretty sure that this is her last transfer in Ensenada Park, she is going on 7 months there. Our guess for next transfer is that she will leave me and the new sister in the area, but again, you never know!

One thing that has amazed me on my mission is that I have seen the Lord use us as his instruments, even when we didn't know. To clarify: of course on your mission there are times when you get spiritual promptings that you need to go somewhere specific or see someone specific, but the Lord uses you even when you aren't as in tune with the Spirit as you should be. Last night, at around 8:30 we were unsure where to go. We hadn't contacted enough people that day, so we decided that that was the priority, just contact. Usually we pull over whenever we see people and talk to them, or park far away from our appointments, but I really hate doing that at night and I was driving so (probably out of laziness) I just decided to go to an apartment complex that we have a lot of investigators at and figured we could talk to them and some of the people in the parking lot. I can honestly say I felt no inspiration or prompting to go there whatsoever. When we got there, we found Mirna outside her apartment. She looked really upset and when we asked her what was wrong she just started crying. We stayed and talked to her for the next 40 minutes. I didn't understand everything but I could tell she is dealing with a lot. Her brother's girlfriend's family is trying to have him deported, because he is poor. Eliseo still can't work because he is still healing from his burns. She doesn't work but has to be the support of her little family, her two brothers, and her brother-in-law. She said that none of her neighbors have been helping her, even though before the accident Eliseo was the first person they would turn to for help. She has been so impressed by our little branch, who ran to her aid even before they knew her. She has so much faith. She was saying that she doesn't need luxuries, she just needs necessities for her family and God. When her brother's girlfriend's family (they are wealthy and proud and citizens) was treating her horribly, I think one of the things they said is that her family is so poor that they are gonig to end up like dogs, eating food from the garbage. In response she said, if God allows me even that much food, then I will be grateful. I know that we were sent there at that time by the Lord. This is his work, and he uses many ways to accomplish it, even my laziness at times. Right before we saw Mirna we were with a less-active member. He was saying the same thing. He and his wife had been struggling in the past, and about 2 weeks ago they were fighting again. Right as it was getting really bad and he was talking about divorce, the executive secretary called saying that our Branch President wanted to meet with them right then. Their home teacher also called. He said that on the way to the President's office, they were in shock, as to why that happened right then. We had been trying to contact them all weekend long. We were started to get worried, because we can usually get a hold of them some way. That same night, we had gone over while they were meeting with president, and got home right after we left. Their neighbor told them and so they called us and we turned around and went back. We didn't know about all of the fighting and the calls until last night. Again it is just miracle after miracle. Miracle that president wanted to see them (that one I'm sure was inspiration), miracle that their neighbor was still out when they got home (he was waited for his ride to work). I love seeing things like this, because they I know that even through all of our human weaknesses, the Lord can still use us to accomplish his work. When I was at the MTC I was worried about things like this, will I recognize the promptings? will I know what to share? will I know where to go? I have found that when we don't know what to share, the Lord opens our scriptures. When we don't know where to go, the Lord knows where we are. It is the Lord's work and glory to bring to pass the immortaliyt and eternal life of man, not ours. Our work is just to obey the commandments and be worthy to be his instruments.

In the VC they set up one of the theaters so that we could watch conference. I was able to watch almost all of the sessions, except half of the Saturday afternoon, because we were at our stake center and had to go to the VC. Yesterday morning our investigators were the first ones there (after us) and the members that came to the stake center we all late (way to go investigators!) Then there was a branch potluck in between the sessions. I like almost everything that I've eaten here. The members know that we gringas usually can't eat very spicy foods, so they put the chile on the side. I can eat spicier than I used to be able to though. One night when we were with a member, she had just picked some chilis from her backyard. She had some tiny red ones, about as long as a dime, and some tiny thin green ones, about as long as a quarter. Just to say we did, Hna. Blades and I each took a little nibble from the green one (family, think smaller than Erin-sized nibble). I thought that my tongue was going to fall out. My mouth was in pain for the next 30 minutes at least. There was not even really any flavor, just pain. The smaller the chili the hotter it is. I think I am going to stick with the bigger chilis.

Anyways, after that little tangent (I think I forgot I was talking about conference). I really enjoyed conference. I have never been good at remembering who talked on what, so I will make more comments when they come out in the Ensign. I will never forget Elder Holland's talk though. It was great! I wish I could carry the recording around and play it for everyone we contact in the street who says "well I read the Bible" "The Book of Mormon can't be the word of God (keep in mind they've never read it)". Last night we even had a woman say "Well I read the Bible to learn about Christ. I read a few pages of the Book of Mormon, and I just can't see how it talks about Christ." Our answer in our heads was "what book are you reading!?!?!" I have a new love of 2 Nephi 29.

De Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last week of my first transfer!

This email is going to be shorter, because the week was shorter, our last p-day was on Wednesday. Next time you hear from me I might be in another area, I might have another companion, I might not even be at the Visitors' Center, any number of combinations. This Saturday is when we will find out about transfers, who's staying, going, etc. All the sisters have been saying that this is going to be one of the craziest transfers. There are 4 new Spanish speaking sisters coming in, which means some of those who were training this transfer will be training again. The older sisters think that a lot of us greenies will be going full-field next transfer. I guess we will all find out in less than a week.

This past Thursday we had exchanges so I was companions with Hna. Mancilla for 24 hours. She is companions with my MTC comp, Hna. Cochran, and they are in the area next to ours. She came into my area for the day and Hna. Blades went to an area in downtown Mesa. It was interesting to see how different sisters work, but I enjoyed it. A lot of the new sisters were terrified to be with a new companion, especially because your first transfer you stay in your area so you are the one in charge. Hna. Blades and I went on splits the week before, however, so I got the being terrified over with then.

One of the best things about the mission is seeing the change in our investigators. There is a mother and daughter who are investigating together, Leonor and Herlin. Herlin is only 17 but has a three month old son. They have been investigating for a few months and have been challenged for baptism a few times but each time they said they weren't ready, they didn't feel like they knew enough, etc. When we went on exchanges Hna. Blades went to visit them and while there Leonor said "well, I don't think that we can get baptized." Hna. Blades asked why they thought that and she said that because neither she nor her daughter Herlin were married, but they had children. I guess that she had been harboring a lot of guilt over that. Hna. Blades explained that we were aware that Herlin wasn't married and yet had a son, and that we were still inviting them to be baptized. She explained about the atonement and while they still haven't accepted baptism, we have seen a great change come over Leonor. She has been coming to church for weeks but last Sunday was the first time she had dressed up. They are diligently keeping the other commitments we have given them, so we know that they will be ready for baptism soon.

On exchanges Thursday I went and saw another one of our investigators and her husband. We watched the Testaments with Mirna and Eliseo, the one who is miraculously recovering quickly from third-degree burns. After the movie we started talking to her and asking about a Relief Society activity she had gone to the night before. We were unable to go because we were in the VC but it was a "spiritual banquet" and everyone that we have talked to loved it. Mirna started crying when she was telling us about it. She has been dealing with a lot of stress over the past weeks because of Eliseo's accident. There were many days when she honestly didn't know if he was going to live, and she was worried about what would happen to her and her young son. This stress has been giving her a lot of tension in her neck and back and she wakes up every morning in a lot of pain. Yet through it all she has tried to stay strong and keep it inside. At the activity, one of the sisters in our ward came up to her and starting rubbing her back (there was definitely some prompting from the Spirit involved) and talking to her to see how she was doing. Throughout the evening, she said that the Spirit she felt was so strong and gradually the tension went away and was replaced with peace. Thursday morning was the first morning in a long time that she had woken up with our any pain. Her husband was crying as well while she was telling us this. I know that they are spiritually ready for baptism, they have so much faith and I think they always have, but now that we have helped them know where to direct that faith, and what their faith should inspire them to do, they have grown a lot. Since the Spirit has gotten them spiritually ready for baptism, now we have to help them get physically ready. Mirna is married in Mexico and before they can get baptized they need to get married and before they can get married she has to get divorced (this is the same thing we are waiting for with la familia Mestre). At least we already know a lawyer who deals with this type of situation and our Branch President can start to work on that. Then there is also the wait until Eliseo has healed enough to go completely under water. I will keep you all updated on how things are going, but we sure would appreciate your prayers for our investigators. Oh, one more thing about the miracle of Eliseo. His right arm is really the only place that will stay scarred, as it is completely burned to the third degree. After we had been talked about the activity, Mirna was talking about his recovery. I was so suprised when I heard some of it. Since his arm was so severely burned it was pronounced dead, the nerves, circulation, everything, so with dead limbs the thing to do is, of course, amputate. They called Mirna to get her permission to amputate it. She gave her permission but said that if there was anything they could do to save it then of course she would prefer that. From what I understood this was early in the morning so we think this happened right before she called us and asked us at 3 in the morning and asked us to pray for Eliseo. The nurse later called Mirna and said that in the operating room, while he was on the operating table and they were ready to amputate, something happened and his arm reacted! It hadn't done that before, which is why they had pronounced it dead. When that happens it is the policy to retest and reobserve the limb for 24 hours before continuing with the amputation. Sure enough the blood started flowing in his arm again, he gained his strength in his muscles again, and even though the ends of the nerves are burnt he can still feel. This really has been even more of a miracle than we had previously thought.

We saw Juan again last night, with another member of our ward. He hadn't read the chapter we had given him in the Book of Mormon yet, so we read a little with him. Mostly we just let him and Hno. Reyna talk. He had many more questions as usual, but you cannot deny that he feels the Spirit while we are there. He was trying not to cry for part of the lesson. I think that he has been hardened by his life. He has had to build up a wall of protection around his emotions and when we are there are the Spirit is touching his heart, well I think that is something very new to him. After we left Hno. Reyna commented on what a great man he is. I know that he will get baptized one day and he will be a strong and immovable member, you can just tell.

I went back through and skimmed over some of my past emails. Sorry I repeat myself so much! I didn't even realize it, but sometimes it is probably deja vu on your end when you read the same thing 2 or 3 weeks in a row! I will really try to be better at that.

I said in one of my first emails that I would talk about some of the exhibits that we have at the VC, and I haven't been very good with that so I'll describe one now. We have a little corner that we call the Neighborhood. There are 3 little houses with TV screens on them and kiosks in front of them. You can watch some of the church commercials, watch President Hinckley read the Proclamation to the World, or watch grown-ups or kids answer some gospel questions. My favorite is when the kids are answering the question "What happens to us when we die?" There is a clip of a little girl and all she does is look at the camera, shrug, and then point up. It is so cute and I laugh almost everytime I see it. I don't think I've watched any of the ones with grown-ups; those aren't nearly as fun to watch. There are a few problems with the neighborhood however. First of all, some of the computers will turn off randomly and we have to get engineering to come down from the temple and fix them. Also, because it is set up like a little street front, we have a lot of kids that want to climb over the wall and see if they can go in the houses, or they want to play with the stuffed animal cats or dogs on the front steps. Parents are usually pretty good about keeping the kids off though, which is saying a lot because many of the parents assume that we have been called and set apart as babysitters, not as missionaries. Elder Burke even had to send around a letter to be read in all of the wards in the area, saying that children were not to be dropped off at the VC unattended. You would be surprised at how many drop their young children off in the vc while they go to the temple. We have a sign on the back doors saying the same, that children must be accompanied by someone at least 16 years old, and yet we see parents outside after they have read the sign, tell their 10 or 11 year old "if anyone asks, just tell them you are 16." If Sister Burke sees it she has no qualms about running outside after the parents, or calling the temple and having them find the parents if they aren't already in a session.

Some crazy stuff happens at the VC. Oh my gosh, I almost forgot the crazy story that happened last week! There was a woman who I think just walked into the temple, wanting to learn more (it happens a lot, especially with temples that have a VC). When the brothers inside explained a little bit and helped her out, she found a member and began to ask her a lot of questions. Just then 2 of the sisters on shift walked by and after talking to her a little they brought her into the VC. Hna. Blades took her into an exhibit called God's Plan for His Family and at the end, stayed in the last room and talked with her a bit. (I'm going to tell this from my perspective) There is one entrance to God's Plan which is open, and then the exit is closed by a door. I was standing in the back of the VC close to the entrance. All of a sudden this woman comes running back through the entrance of God's Plan followed by Hna. Blades. She runs outside and since we can't leave without a companion Hna. Blades yells for me to come with her. She tells Hna. Blades not to come close and she says thats find, she just wants to finish talking with her. She invites her to have the missionaries come teach her more but the woman says not right now, but that she would take a card. While Hna. Blades runs inside to get every pass-along and referral card we have, the woman comes up to me at the door, asks my name and says that she would like to shake my hand. I hold out my right hand and when she shakes it with her left hand she drops a twenty dollar bill in my and and runs back to the fountain before I could give it back. We try to explain to her that we can't take it she says that she won't take anything from us unless we put it on the ground and walk away. So we put the money (she had given Hna. Blades some too) and the cards on the ground, she grabs the cards, throws the money (a total of 80 dollars) into the VC and then runs away! I guess that what happened at the beginning is that after talking with Hna. Blades in God's Plan she told her she wanted to thank her for how well she had explained everything and reahes in her bag (Hna. Blades thought she was going to pull out a Catholic pamphlet or something) and threw 60 dollars on the floor of God's Plan and runs out. That is where I caught the story. It was really funny. We gave the 80 dollars to the Director with the story, and he has it in case she ever comes back. She was a funny lady and I am sure that is just the beginning of the crazy stories I will have on my mission!

De Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd