Thursday, December 31, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My sister from Mexico, Hna. Hernandez

Decorating the Christmas Tree for the Crandells

Rainstorm in the Desert

Thanksgiving Hike

Merry Christmas!

Christmastime is here! But it still doesn't feel like it. We found out about the lab at the branch of Mesa Community College right near we live so we don't have to go to the crowded library and have a time limit. School is out for the holidays, however, so the campus is literally like a ghost town, with no people, lots of cactus, clouds and wind. I'm just waiting for the tumbleweed...
There is no second wind when it comes to Christmas lights I've found out, so all of us get more and more tired every day. And more and more people are coming in every night as we get closer to Christmas. However, there is still a charm about Christmas lights and no matter how tired you are at the end of the night and how much more tired you are when you wake up the next morning, I still always look forward to going to the VC. I am especially looking forward to the last night of the lights, New Year's Eve. All of the missionaries in our mission (including the ones up north) will come down to the VC and we will be the concert for the night. I am playing prelude music with another sister who plays the violin. There will be a few full group numbers including "This is the Christ," and a few smaller group numbers. I am in a group singing "Still, Still, Still" and it is coming along nicely. I really love that we are able to teach the gospel and share our testimonies in other ways, especially through our talents. I will try and have someone record the concert so that I can send it home for you to see.

We got a text from our Pres. Bassett yesterday saying that we will reach our baptism goal for the year, which is 1,200. That means we will have had at least 400 baptisms just in the last 3 months. The Southwest missions are leading the US and Canada in baptisms and our mission is leading the Southwest. It is so exciting to see us reach our goal of a White Christmas! I am glad that our little branch was able to help towards that goal with the baptisms of Rosalva and Juan Carlos. This Saturday we will find out about transfers. I can't believe they have already come again. Sisters have been talking about them for weeks, but I still have no idea what is going to happen. I like to see everyone make their predictions and then see how they match up. I don't have much else to write this week, especially because I will be calling you family in just 3 days! so I thought I would send some pictures in my email as there is a sister here with my same camera and she brought her cord with her.

Desde Mesa con amor y Feliz Navidad,
Hermana Ladd

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A night in the life of a VC sister...

Can you believe that Christmas is less than 2 weeks away? I can't! Everything is going by so fast. Between this email and the next I will hit my six-month mark, which means that a third of my mission is already gone :( I think I can honestly say that it has been the fastest six months of my life. I wish the next year would slow down, but from what I've heard it is just the opposite. One thing that doesn't help is that our time isn't split into months anymore, but into our 6 week transfers.

Since most of my missionary time right now is spent at the VC, I thought I would explain a little about how Christmas Lights at the VC work. There are 9 posts in the VC and we rotate through 6 of them every night. We are in Zebra companionships (I think I explained before, but that means 1 English and 1 Spanish sister). I will just start describing from the first post.

Front steps: We stand out on the front porch and invite people to come into the VC. A lot of people think that the VC is part of the temple and that they are not allowed to come inside, so we invite everyone in. We talk to as many people as we can, inviting members to think of friends they could invite to hear the gospel, and inviting nonmembers to meet with missionaries. There are also Elders assigned on the temple grounds every night, also contacting people. We aren't allowed to stray past the 2 steps of the porch, because past that is where elders are assigned. We say that we can't step in the "lava" just like when we were little kids playing with couch cushions. Likewise, the elders aren't allowed to come into the VC at all during the night. Needless to say, we are more obedient than they are in this matter and never step in the lava, while the director is still having trouble with the elders coming in.

Front greet: we then move inside where it is still cold because the doors keep opening, but too warm that you look silly if you keep your coat on. Here we welcome everyone that comes into the VC and again, ask everyone to refer someone, either themself or a friend. I got to speak Russian here the other night. The women were really nice, one from Moscow and one from Ukraine. They said that I just needed to keep practicing because I had very good pronunciation :) We also direct people to different parts of the VC and try and keep them reverent and away from the curtains, behind which is the...

Christus: Here we present the narration that goes with the Christus statue. We play it both in English and Spanish (unless there are no Spanish speakers). We also get to play it in other languages if there are people visiting from other countries. We always play it in the other languages first, then Spanish, then English, because we have found that by doing it the other way, the English speakers always get up in the middle of the other languages or while you are ending the presentation in another language and leave the room. Not polite or reverent, so we make them wait :) "Through the door behind us, you can see a 6 minute presentation about the birth of Christ called...

Luke 2: In both of the theaters we show Luke 2. While one theater is playing it, the other is seating for it. Again, our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, so we give everyone referral cards. It gets frustrating when members say "I'm a member, I don't need that." Little do they know that they almost need it more. A sister the other day told me to tell them "If you don't like missionary work you aren't going to like the celestial kingdom." That is the hardest thing for me on my mission, learning how to work with members and elders. The elders take the cards away from their investigators, thinking they don't need them because they are already meeting with missionaries. However, sharing the gospel with others is such an important step in conversion. When the elders don't take cards or take them from their investigators they don't understand their purpose. Same thing with the members. I had a member the other day who wouldn't take a card, she said "We don't need that." So when she passed I ignored her and, because I believe people have their individual agency, handed one to the people she was with, who I am pretty sure were not members. She turned back and said "I said we don't need them, they are from Costa Rica." My thought: people in Costa Rica need the gospel too! We watch the Luke 2 movie so much, that we can quote it in Hebrew and Arabic. I am actually pretty sure I can understand the Arabic in it because I have heard it so much. We can also sing the last line of the film "Let earth... receive... baaaaah... her king."

Then we move on to the Savior of the World room. Just like the other floor posts *Front greet, back greet, and nativities) we talk to everyone.

Then at God's Plan for His Family we take turns showing it in English and Spanish. We also have that one memorized. I haven't decided if I have a favorite post yet. Most sisters prefer the floor posts versus the presentation posts (Christus, Theaters, God's Plan) because you can go up and talk to individual people, and it isn't as repetitive. I think I agree with them. I personally really like ...

Back greet, because that is where my favorite exhibit, the Book of Mormon table, is. I love going up to the people looking at them and starting a conversation. I feel like that is something that I can relate to because of my background, so whether or not they speak another language, I can relate to the people you just plain find it interesting. Also, that seems to be where you are most likely to find out that people are from other countries. I have already met 2 groups from Iran. One man said that he would come back so that I could give him a Book of Mormon in Farsi (we were out at the time). People are always impressed that the church has published it in their language. I think it helps them to feel how important they are to someone, and as they begin to learn more about the church and find out it is the true church of God, they will realize that it is their Father in Heaven that they are so important to. I hope all of you know that. As missionaries we have the great blessing of being able to feel a small percentage of the love our Father and His Son have for each of you and I hope I'll be able to feel that for the rest of my life!

Thought for the week- President Bassett read this scripture at our Mission Conference and because of something that had been said earlier in the meeting it made me think of faith, hope and charity. I had never noticed it before in this scripture, but those three important things are what give us eternal life: (I am translating this from my Spanish BofM)

2 Ne 31:20 Wherefore, you must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ (faith), having a perfect brightness of hope (hope) and a love of God and of all mankind (charity). For behold, if you press forward, delighting in the words of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father, you shall have eternal life.

De Mesa con Amor,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Well we've survived the first week of Christmas lights! It is amazing how little time we have in the area. Our numbers have dropped even though we are working hard. Oh well, at least if we are working hard this transfer we have the promise of seeing the blessings in the future. The Farnsworth baptism was on Saturday. It was really special. There were so many people there, both from our branch and the English ward that Juan Carlos goes to. They were both confirmed on Sunday, and we were able to go to both meetings. It was great to finally see a family reach baptism, and then continue through that gate. I know that Rosalva's faith will be such a blessing to their family, I think she was the key to activating Larry and keeping him active. Juan Carlos one day will be a missionary and will go on to bless the lives of others. He has already started asking about what it takes to be a missionary. We are again waiting for the date for the Mestre baptism. The Lord is preparing that family for something huge! In years to come we will be able to see why their faith had to be tested so much. We have started seeing a few Christmas miracles. Yesterday, some of Hna. Blades' former investigators came to church at an English ward. The elders let us know and we are going to meet with them next week. We are finding more hispanic people little by little and most of them have agreed to let us come back. The biggest problem is still that they don't like to make appointments, and with our tight schedule we really like to have appointments, especially so that we can bring members.

Last week, the mission went to the temple together. First Pres. and Sis. Bassett spoke to us in the chapel behind the temple, and then we all went to the temple together (by all I mean about half of the missionaries in Mesa, there are so many of us that we had to be split in two days.) We only had 2 hours between the time that we got out of the conference to the time we needed to be back at the VC, so instead of wasting 1 hour and a bunch of miles, we had Rosalva come down to the VC to watch the Joseph Smith movie. We called almost every female member in our branch to see if they could bring her because she can't drive, but none of them could do it. Either they work during the day, or their kids come home from school at that time, or there husband was using the car, even one member who happened to have a doctor's appt at that time. Finally we had to call Hna. Mestre. Our investigator was the only one who could bring our investigator to the lesson! I love them so much, they are so willing to help us out. (I'm not complaining about our branch, we are so blessed with the members we have and they are so willing to help when they can, I'm just pointing out how amazing our investigators are.)

It has been just over a week since the lights started. The VC is very busy every night. However, there is such a variety of people who come in, so many people to talk to. We are on our feet all night and the individual hours are slow, but still the days seem to fly by. And each hour goes by faster the more people you talk to. When we are on shift in the morning is when we can count on our hands all the people that come in. I love the VC so much, especially right now, that I am already planning on asking the next mission president if I can stay for an extra transfer. I am scheduled to leave 3 days after we turn on the lights next year.

Today we are going to put up the tree in the Crandell's house. The other day on our way home I drove through some of the neighborhoods in our area so that Hna. Lopez could see all of the houses decorated. She was amazed by them and it was so fun to hear her. There is nothing like this in Bolivia. Even though I see Christmas lights every year they all seem more amazing this year when I heard how happy they make her.

De Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd