Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmastime is here!

Well this week was long, but flew by! On Thanksgiving, we went hiking in the Superstition mountains with 9 other sisters from the VC. We wanted a fun easy hike, to just enjoy the morning. It was beautiful. There are some places out here where it still surprises me to see the desert so beautiful. We went hiking up to some petroglyphs in Gold Canyon. I took lots of pictures so you'll see them when I send the next memory card home. After that, we rushed home so that we could get ready to go to our VC Thanksgiving dinner. I had volunteered to help Sis. Burke cook something so I had to throw that together too. Then we went to the clubhouse where the Burkes live, right behind the temple, and ate dinner with all the sisters. It was a lot of fun. Right after dinner we sang some Christmas songs to some of the people in their complex. Sis. Burke said that most of them are shut-ins so they don't have many visitors. This one woman started crying and said that she was sick that day so she wasn't able to go out and celebrate Thanksgiving with her family so she was very grateful to us. We only had time for a 20 minute nap even though we were exhausted, and then it was back to the VC for pie and then we opened.

Thanksgiving night was like a run through for Christmas lights. We ran like it was Christmas lights and had all the special posts we have for Christmas, but it wasn't very busy so we were able to practice a lot of the presentations. Then Christmas lights started on Friday! I am so exhausted but it is so much fun. There are so many people that come every night. Literally thousands. I know that over 3000 came in the front doors alone last night (so only after 6 pm) and I think we had over 6000 total come in for the whole day. Every night when we get home at 10:30 we collapse on the floor, plan for the next day, and then crawl into bed. Our hours change during the Christmas lights season so we have to be in bed by 11:30 and get up at 7:30. Our feet and back hurt from standing, but our cheeks hurt from smiling. You can't help but be happy at the VC and even more so during the Christmas season. My birthday was no different than any other day, but it was good nonetheless. The members we live with decorated our stairwell and their upstairs with "Feliz Cumpleanos" signs. At the VC, along with all the other food we get from the stakes, Sis. Rowe one of the senior sisters brought brownies with peppermint ice cream to celebrate. During this past week I have really been amazed at how special my call is. At the VC you get to develop such a special bond with the other sisters. No other mission is like that. We have the Elders in our district of course, but we usually only see them every other week unless we run into them proselyting or crossing paths at church. At the VC we can all support and uplift each other, sharing in good, bad, funny, sad, spiritual, and everything in between times. We also get to work with the 3 great senior couples who treat us like their own grandchildren. I wouldn't trade my call for anything!

It has been getting colder here, and it even rained yesterday. One of the posts at the VC is the front steps where we invite people to come inside the VC and see some of the presentations. It can get pretty cold out there. Thanks for the sweater mom, it is very comfortable and perfect for the weather out here (I am even wearing it right now).

We are having to work extra hard in our area, even teaching some lessons today, so that we can see the work grow here as well. We went back to Red Mountain apartments the other day and saw Mirna outside taking tabs off of soda and beer cans, so we helped her and then helped them crush them. (It was an interesting service activity for missionaries...) Then they let us in and we shared a message. I think she was just in a bad mood the other day when she wouldn't even talk to us, because she was back to normal and received us the way she used to. Service really is the way that will reach her heart, so that she can open it and continue to be touched by the Spirit. We are looking forward to the Farnsworth's baptism this week and the Mestre's 2 weeks later. We are stilling trying to find find find so that we can continue to help our little branch grow. Our district has made the goal of 20 baptisms for this transfer. I don't think that that has ever happened in the history of the mission, in our or any district. There were 8 baptisms our very first weekend and then our branch has 4 coming up. We are going to try and make that at least 5 coming up, plus a few other people that we are working with. Get ready for the Miracles on 82nd St.!

I love you all and I hope that no matter what you are doing right now, that you are enjoying it!

De Mesa con Amor,
Hermana Ladd

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is kind of a half-pday so that we can email, because our actual pday is Thanksgiving. I can't wait! There are now sisters all the way out in our zone, so we are going to go over to their house in the morning and make pies for our dinner with the VC sisters. Next week's email will be much more exciting than this one, because I will get to tell you all about how crazy Christmas lights are. They set up the room full of nativities early so we have already opened it. It is my favorite room! I love it so much! You would love it mom, it has some of the coolest nativities from around the world that I have ever seen. There is a really cute one from Nepal. I will for sure send you pictures of all of them. This week has mostly been getting ready for the lights in the VC and finding new people to teach in our area. Hna. Lopez and I are going through all of the former investigators missionaries in this area have had and are trying to contact them. Some have moved but a few have told us that we could come back. Hopefully they meant it. Christmas transfer is the transfer of miracles and with some baptisms coming up we need to find new people to teach. (That is one way to lose investigators, baptize them! Granted it is the best way to lose investigators...) But nonetheless we are working hard and enjoying it. The elders in our area actually help out a lot because they are out in the area all the time so when they meet Hispanics they tell us. Just keep praying for my area, it really helps!

We took Rosalva and Juan Carlos to a baptism on Saturday so that they could see what it was like. Rosalva is so excited, she turned to us afterwards and said "I'm ready." She has more faith than many members. She told us last night that she really feels like Satan is against her, she can't sleep at night, when she does, she has bad dreams, her family is starting to say things, etc. We are praying so hard for her. However, the good thing is that she knows that it is just the adversary, and she knows he is doing it because she is making the right decision. I am so happy for that little family. It is amazing how much love one can develop for these people. We just stepped into their life and for some of them they didn't even accept us in it at first. But even when they didn't accept us, we still loved them and still hurt when they didn't accept us. Now that they have accepted the gospel it really is like D&C 50 (I think, still working on references) but "we both rejoice and are edified together." There are a few of our investigators that have kind of distanced themselves from us. The other day we passed by Mirna and Eliseo's apartment and the door was open so Eliseo invited us in. Mirna turned to see who it was and didn't even greet us. She was cooking but she stopped cooking and took her son and said that she had to go to the store. After talking to Eliseo for a few minutes we went to another investigator in the same complex and she asked if we had been to Mirna's. We said that we just left there but Mirna had left. Herlin said she was waiting for Mirna to take her to the store. Clearly she hadn't left, because Herlin was still there and her van was in the parking lot when we left, but we don't know where she went or why she was acting like that. We saw her yesterday and she told us she was busy. But we are patient because we know it all happens in the Lord's time and we also know that everyone has their agency and can choose whether or not to accept. It is sad when people think that they don't have time for God or for his gospel, but that sadness can't even compare with the happiness you feel when someone changes their life and accepts the gospel and have the wonderful blessing of being baptized and confirmed and opening the door to thousands of other blessings.

We have very little time in our area this transfer, but our companionship has been blessed with 7 nights in our area during Christmas lights. That is more than any other companionship so while at first I was afraid about being able to fill that time, I have since realized that it is because the Lord knows that there is that much work available in the area and he is ready to help us find it. He has blessed us with so much time and so now we just have to work hard and follow his guidance. Hna. Lopez and I are looking into getting bikes (I know...) so that we can talk to more people on the street. It gets really tiring pulling over the car and getting out every time we see someone (plus, they usually have time to escape), but as missionaries we have committed to Talk with Everyone, and we are trying to be exactly obedient and do that. There have been a lot of sisters that have learned how to ride bikes on their mission and I figure there is no better time to relearn than while I am under the most protective arm the Lord has to offer. Plus, it will be good exercise to balance all the meals during this time of year (We ate 2 dinners last night plus was also the first time I ate tamales and they were super good.)

I'm sorry I don't have more to write, nothing super exciting has happened this week. I hope that you all have a very wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday. This is my favorite holiday of the year and I can't wait for it. It seems like as a missionary I have so much more to be thankful for that before, but the actuality is that I am just noticing more all of the blessings that our Father in Heaven gives us. Like in Mosiah 2, we can try and try to thank Him, but we will always come out of it unprofitable servants because He will continue to bless us just for thanking Him. I challenge you all to try and do as the prophets have encouraged us and remember to thank Heavenly Father in our prayers. Have some prayers this week that are purely in gratitude. I promise you that those ones will be answered with more powerful and needed blessings than the ones where we are asking the Lord for what we think we need.

I love you all!

De Mesa Con Amor,
Hermana Ladd

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Transfer 3 aka the Holiday Transfer

Well, Hna. Blades is gone and Hna Lopez and I are left in charge of Ensenada Park. It is extremely scary and overwhelming. I don't feel like I know near enough to be senior companion, we have at least 2 baptisms coming up and I can't remember the last time I've even been to a convert baptism, let alone that I've never planned one. However, Hna Lopez is a great missionary, so I'm glad that I have her to help me in our area. President told me in interviews that I was in for something challenging, and he was right. 5 VC sisters left yesterday. It was really sad. I was closest to 2 of them, who also happen to be the two foreign ones so it will be hard to see them after the mission. One left me my favorite shoes of hers, and the other her True to the Faith book in Portuguese (they are from the Dominican Republic and Brazil, respectively). On the mission there are always so many changes. Comings and goings every 6 weeks. Everyone that leaves says that it goes by so fast, and I am starting to see that. Today is my 5 months on the mission mark. I wonder if it is going by as fast for all of you back at home. I am envious of the Elders who get to serve for 2 years, but at the same time it makes me more motivated to try and accomplish as much in my time as they do in theirs.

I am so excited for this transfer! In just over 1 week it is Thanksgiving, then we turn on the lights, then I turn 22. I can't wait to tell you all about Christmas lights! Family, can you believe that in just less than 6 weeks I'll be calling you?!

Even though it will be hard and we don't have much time in the area because of Christmas lights, I am so grateful that I got to stay in Ensenada. I was not ready to leave. The Farnsworth baptism has been moved to the 5th of December, but they aren't going to Mexico over Thanksgiving so that is okay. It was really funny, when we talked to them about moving it to before Thanksgiving they were completely okay with it. However, Sis. Farnsworth said "How intelligent you all are, to get me baptized before I go to Mexico." We just looked at each other and laughed, because we hadn't told her that is why we wanted to move the baptism forward. I could tell she was happy about it though, and she agreed with us. They both passed their baptismal interviews which we are happy about. I had no doubts that they were ready for baptism, especially Rosalva, but Juan Carlos was still trying to stop drinking coffee. We prayed all weekend that he would be able to. However, the Bishop of the English ward and Larry decided that he wasn't quite ready to be able to baptize them, and instead of choosing someone else they decided to wait. He is a little disappointed and feels bad their baptism is postponed because of him, but it will be good for him. Even though he has already changed so much it is good for him to see that his inactivity for so many years does have some consequences. Thankfully he has such a supportive family and they are all doing what they need to be doing now, and together.

The Mestre family is continuing to plan their big wedding and baptism. Unfortunately, because it is during Christmas lights, we can only be there for the wedding and baptism, and not the fiestota (big fiesta) afterwards. I am so excited for them, as is our little branch. Everyone is so supportive of one another.

The work is really progressing in our area. Our district was split this transfer. We used to be 4 companionships, 3 in my stake (Alta Mesa) and 1 in Salt River. Salt River was just split so now there are 2 companionships over there (one is VC sisters, so we are no longer the farthest sisters from the VC, nor the only sisters in our zone). They are their own district. One of the areas in our district was also split, so we still have 4 companionships in our district, but now they are all in our stake. I think the elders have something like 10 baptisms just this Saturday! The work is really exploding, all over Mesa, and it is so exciting to watch. I can't wait to tell you when we have reached our mission goal! There is just something about the Christmas season on the mission, I have never been happier at this time of year. I think it is because this Christmas, I am giving something back to Christ. We are giving him a present for his birthday, the present of greatest worth, the souls of His Father's children. I want everyone else to be able to feel that during this holiday season. Every one of you can add to your own White Christmas by inviting your friends and neighbors to celebrate the birth of our Savior by learning more about His church. Invite someone to you ward Christmas program. Invite someone to the Christmas devotional. Invite someone to a Christmas Family Home Evening and talk about the restored gospel. I promise you that if you invite even just one soul to come unto Christ that this Christmas time will be the best one in your life so far. Do it for our Savior. And please, tell me how it went, I want to share in your Christmas joy too!

De Mesa con Amor,
Hermana Ladd

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm no longer dreaming of a White Christmas...


I have been so happy this week I want to cry. Rosalva Farnsworth and her son Juan Carlos are going to be baptized! We originally committed them to the 5th of December but we are trying to move it up because they are going to Mexico for Thanksgiving and we don't want her to face opposition from her family without the Holy Ghost. They are such a miracle. We think Larry has been less-active for at least 18 years! And he is not only coming back to church, but he is going to be able to baptize them. It was really special when we committed them to be baptized. We asked who they want to baptize them and even though Larry isn't his birth father, Juan Carlos (who is 13) immediately pointed at Larry. I really wanted to cry, they are such a special family. So that is 2 baptisms for our little branch at the beginning of next transfer, 2 more souls brought to Christ. But wait... there's more...

The Mestres are getting baptized too!!!!! Finally!!! They are the family that has had a date for almost 6 months, but we have been waiting and waiting for Hno Mestre's divorce, but just problem after problem came up. Finally, last week Presidente Kleinman (Branch Pres.) called Pres. Bassett (mission pres) who called Pres. LeSeuer (Area Pres.) who called the Missionary department in Salt Lake who called the General Authorities in Mexico who called the Mexican government and confirmed that after 5 years of not living together, Hno. Mestre and his ex-wife are legally divorced! And all in less than a week! When we first found out, we only heard about the communication up to the Missionary department, so we thought that they had just got permission to be married in AZ even though he isn't divorced in Mexico, so that is what we told Hna. Mestre, and she decided that she couldn't be married to someone who is still married, so she would wait. But last night, we got everything cleared up and Pres. Kleinman told us how we had misunderstood. Finally, this little family with so much faith and hope can be baptized. It is going to be a huge wedding and baptism, and Hna. Mestre is thinking about the 19th of Dec. So add 3 more to the Farnsworths and that is 5 baptizms this next transfer! And it is Christmas lights! We are going to be so busy! All of the VC sisters are in the VC during the Christmas transfer, because we are so busy in there. Also, every night there are a certain number of full-field Elders and Sisters assigned to work outside. I can't wait. I have heard everyone say that this transfer is the transfer of miracles, because we have so little time in our area. One sister that is leaving in a week said that Christmas lights was her only transfer with more than one baptism, and we already have 5 scheduled! The mission is coming so close to our goal of a White Christmas, and Ensenada Park Branch is definitely contributing its share!

I don't think I've ever been more excited for this time of year in my life: baptisms, Thanksgiving, Christmas lights, my birthday, wedding/baptisms, Christmas, New Year's, it is going to be so great!

This is the end of my second transfer in AZ, and next week I will hit my 6 months in the mission mark, I can't believe it! We know for sure that Hna. Blades is leaving, because Pres. told her in interviews last week. She knew anyways, because she has been here for so long, but she is still sad, especially because she and Hna. Rincon were the ones who found the Mestres. But she will definitely be coming back for their baptism. We are pretty sure that Hna. Lopez and I will stay here, and I am hoping beyond hope that that is true. I am not ready to leave Ensenada Park yet. No matter how mean all the retirees are, our branch and our investigators are my family out here. And the members we live with are awesome. Their son just left for the MTC in Argentina, and we have volunteered to put up their huge xmas tree for them. Maybe after our xmas miracles I'll be ready, but not yet.

De Mesa con paz, gozo, y esperanza,
Hermana Ladd

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you...

Happy Birthday Dear Mommy, Happy Birthday to you!

Last week was so frustrating when it lost my email. Right before time ran out and I clicked send, the email system logged me out. The weather was really cold for a few days right before the weekend, but for the last 2 days it has been back up in the 90s! And it is November! It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. I am really excited for both this year. They have been putting up Christmas lights at the temple since the beginning of October and will turn them on at the end of this month. I've heard that Christmas lights are crazy, and that we are so busy, but I've also heard that that transfer is full of miracles. I guess you all will find out about it when I do! We had a mission fast a few weeks ago, because the mission's goal is 400 more baptisms by the end of the year. We are going to have a White Christmas down here in Arizona and I am so excited to see it happen.

Last week for Halloween, we had some awesome activities. First of all, the English ward that meets in our building and our branch had a huge activity with the community on Friday night. They closed off two streets for it. On Saturday we had a trunk for the English ward that Rosalva's son goes to and we live in. Also that night, we got together with the elders in our district at one of their activites. Again, it was huge and for the whole community. It was in a park. We had a trunk, some elders had a trunk, and then the others put together a Tree of Life thing. The people had to hold onto an iron rod through a dark tunnel to a tree in the park the elders had decorated with christmas lights. There they got their candy or precious fruit. All the elders were dressed up as nephites. It was a lot of fun and I took some pictures so you will get to see them at some point.

I wrote about the Farnsworth family a few weeks ago. Sister Farnsworth is absolutely amazing. She is just soaking up the gospel, eating, sleeping, drinking it in. She reads all the standard works, plus the Liahona, plus the Gospel Principles and Joseph Smith manuals. AND, she tells her family in Mexico about it! The companionship (easier that saying Hermana Blades and Lopez, and I) was talking about it the other day, about different ways we can tell people are truly converted. First of all, they start looking forward to the missionaries coming over. At church Rosalva always asks to make sure we are goig to come visit her again throughout the week. Also, they love learning about the gospel. She reads with her husband and her son and always asks her husband to help her understand what they study. Also, they start sharing the gospel with those around them. If only we all could have the fire of an investigator or new member! We have come up with a competition for our ward to try and help them remember their conversion, because most of them are converts. It is like phase 10 but they have different missionary challenges. It is no surprise that the Mestre family, our awesome investigators, are winning right now. Speaking of the Mestres, I don't remember how much I've been explaining about their situation, but Hno. Mestre is married in Mexico and they have been working with lawyers here and there so that he can get divorced and they can get married. However, it has been almost 5 months now. They were supposed to find out the week I came into the field if he was divorced but because of the process they keep saying 60 more days, then 60 more days. They are so ready to get baptized and could really use the Holy Ghost. They have so many questions and study so hard. We want them to be part of our Christmas miracles. Presidente Kleinman our branch president called President Bassett Monday and they are going to call the Area authority over Arizona to see what can be done. I will be sure to keep you updated. I know that we will have their wedding/baptism before Christmas, I just know it. Along with Rosalva and her son (who haven't been committed yet but will be) that will be 5 baptisms for our little branch. Not only do I know that the mission will make its goal of bringing 400 more souls to Christ, but I know that our little area can help and add the the miracles. It is really great to see the work progressing. We found out in Zone Conference that the 4 Arizona missions are right now the strongest in the US. We are seeing so much success down here in Arizona, but we need to keep finding the people here that are ready. The field is not only white, but whiter everyday and there are more and more people ready to accept the gospel.

De Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd