Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If you can't tell....

If you can't tell I have a new email address. The Church just updated the email service and are now coordinating with gmail, so our email is much better, we won't lose emails because gmail automatically saves, we will receive email instantly instead of having to log out and back in to see if anything came while we were writing... it is just all around better! (but no g-chat of course) My new email address is, so just the same as my gmail. Anything sent to the old email address will still get to me, but you should go ahead and start emailing me here.

I don't have much time to write because we have a district meeting today (yes, on our pday, but we had a zone activity yesterday on their pday so it balances out) so I will probably just be pasting most of my letter to President into this one. So for the last week it has been pouring rain almost everyday except for yesterday. It is beautiful! I'm sure I wouldn't think it is so beautiful if I was on bike, but I do. I was sad when it didn't rain yesterday, but the rain is back today! However, the work hasn't stopped because of the rain, in fact, we seem to find so many more people at home (though there haven't been hardly any outside). We have been having a lot of success contacting referrals that the English Elders give us, and they have been finding a lot of hispanics recently. Of course some of them aren't interested, but we have made a few appointments and have a lot of hope for the ones we have yet to contact. Our zone had a fast from Monday to Tuesday and Hna Lopez and I have already seen the fruits of it. We each fasted for our individual areas and the needs they have, but since we fasted as a zone we were able to be unified in our desires to improve the work. One thing Hna. Lopez and I have been trying to improve is getting more fixed appointments. Since the beginning of my mission that has been a struggle with the hispanics, trying to get them to commit to being home at a certain time, and then having them there when they do commit. We have a few appointments set up for the rest of the week though, and we are hoping they hold. We are also starting language classes through our stake this week as a finding idea. We are going to be teaching Spanish to the Americans in the area and English to the Hispanics, with a little overlap so that they can practice together. Our hope in this is to help the English members be able to communicate with their Spanish neighbors so that we can receive member referrals. We already have a lot of interest for it. Larry Farnsworth, the husband of our recent convert (they were also just called as branch missionaries!) is very excited and has already started asking all of his coworkers for any Spanish contacts they have. Rosalva goes to other English classes and after the first day she told us "There are so many people there that I want to bring into the gospel." They are really feeling the light of the gospel in their lives because they have such a great desire to share it. We also had another couple called as branch missionaries, so we now have 4 in the branch, the most we've had since I've been here. I probably have a new favorite thing about my mission every week but one of the top ones is that, our branch, our members and recent converts. They love us so much and have such desires to share the gospel. One of my other all time favorite things about the mission is the children. Members and nonmembers alike, they treat us like their heroes. I have seen the children in the branch grow up so much in the past 5 months. The daughter of one of our less-active members has been learning to talk since I've been here and we were there when one of her first words was "mana". At church last week one of the sisters was bringing her son back in to the chapel and when he passed us he turned around and ran back and gave us hugs. Another little boy likes to run around the chapel and 2 weeks ago as he was approaching our pew he stopped and saw Hna Lopez and said "Hermana Lopez!" in the middle of sacrament meeting. We were dropping off flyers for our Spanish classes at another chapel last Sunday and when we walked down the hall the primary was getting out and a little boy tugged on his mom's arm and said "look mom, it's the missionaries!" There is so much meaning in the words of the scriptures when we are told to become like little children, and so much truth when Christ tells us that "for of such is the kingdom of God." I think that is what I will miss the most when I go home. The people I can keep in contact with, the places I can visit, but never again will little children recognize me by a name tag and be so excited to see a real live missionary.

Desde Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy MLK day!

It was up to 70 here last week and over the weekend, but now the winter weather is back and it is down in the 50s :) It rained yesterday and is supposed to rain all this week, but it really doesn't look promising today. We went to the temple this morning with the other 2 sisters in our zone and then we went to Waffle House (yes there is one here! it is right across the street from my area). None of them had been there before and they were not disappointed at all.

The biggest thing for this week is that we got our new directors over the weekend. We had the farewell for the Burkes on Saturday but then the rest of the day was normal. It really didn't hit that they were leaving until Sunday. They were at the VC in the middle of the day with the Whites, to train them on a few things and then they left. It was so sad when they left, we said goodbye to them right when we got on shift. Everyone was crying for a little while after they left, but I think the Burkes were the ones crying the most. They were such an important part of our mission, but we were everything to their mission. I just briefly met the Whites on Sunday, but they left when the Burkes did because they weren't on shift. Monday morning we had a meeting where we all got to meet the Whites. They are really awesome. It is amazing how much the Lord know who needs to be serving where and at what time. On Sunday it didn't feel right for the Whites to be the new directors, and we missed the Burkes a lot. However, on Monday I felt like there is no one else who can be our directors right now. Elder White was in the Air Force, but he is not one bit a hardened military man. He was a mission president in Florida Orlando mission, but I can't remember when.They brought their daughter, Debbie, with them. I'm not sure how old she is but she has a mental disability. She is so cute. We already feel like they are our new grandparents here at the VC and I am excited to serve with them.

Other than that there is no big or exciting news from the area. The work is still going as usual. We are still working working working to find more hispanics in the area. The work with the ones that we have is going well, especially with some of our less-actives. One of the families we have been working with that is almost re-activated is this cute young couple with a 2-yr-old son. Their son is kind of wild but he has gotten so much better since we've starting working with them. Last week we went over and Edgar (the dad) had just spent the week with his biological uncle. America(the mom) did a lot of research to find him and they got back in contact. Edgar and his uncle were really close when Edgar was younger. His biological dad was a drug dealer in Mexico, so he didn't really know him and they left when he was 6. All the memories he has of his dad are bad ones and all the good memories he has of his childhood have to do with his uncle so it was a really great thing for him and his brother to be able to spend time with him. When we went over they told us that they were thinking about getting in touch with his biological dad too. We shared the scripture in Malachi and talked about how this may be a way for them to share the gospel with Edgar's dad (Edgar converted when he was a teenager) and when America read it she started crying. She is such a good mother and such a good support for their family. She has a lot of faith and really tries to learn all she can about the gospel. That is one of the biggest reasons their family is progressing, because of her love and patience. We haven't been able to teach them since last week however, so we don't know what has been going on with his family but as always we are praying for the better and working for the best.

Desde Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Many mighty miracles..."

Well, this week was long, but we saw some miracles come from it. We were able to talk to a lot of people even though every day it didn't seem like we had talked to very many. None of our investigators ever seemed to be home yet we taught the most lessons to investigators out of our district. Hna Mestre told us she didn't want to get married or baptized or come to church for a while, yet everything was smoothed out and they all came yesterday. We got a young women's program in our ward (finally!!!!!!!!) and there were 7 young women yesterday! There is a family that lives in our ward but goes to their old ward and has 5 daughters, but they came yesterday and we think they will start going to our ward now (which means youth fellowshippers! that is something we haven't had and have needed badly) Claudia Edith went to young women's and loved it, said it was so much better than Relief Society. Now I think she will want to be baptized when her parents finally get baptized, because she feels more a part of the church. We went to visit 2 members last night and they both happened to have investigators over, so we were able to teach 2 lessons with members present even though we hadn't planned for it. When Hna Mestre was feeling like she couldn't be a visiting teacher because she is still learning herself, and nothing we said seemed to help I looked down at the Nov Liahona I happened to be holding open to the inside front cover and saw a picture with the scripture of Christ telling Peter to "Feed my sheep." I remembered my first visiting teaching experiences when my freshman ward Relief Society gave us magnets that said "Feed my sheep" with a little sheep that either said "hungry" or "fed." I told her about it and it helped her to understand more about why visiting teaching is important for all members of the relief society. Those were just some of the miracles we saw last week, so now on the "It's a Small World" story.

Daddy you should especially take note of this story, as it pertains to you, and it happened on your birthday: On Saturday afternoon we were in the VC. It was very slow all evening, and I think this happened when we hadn't been there for too long. We were at the back desk when a father and his daughter walked in. We asked how they were and if they were at the VC for any special purpose. They responded to that "we are in town for the game (packers vs cardinals) and we are already members, in fact, I have a son on a mission right now." Since we don't discriminate against members at the VC as they seem to think we do, I continued talking to them. He began to tell me about his son, who was serving in Maryland right now. He said that his call is actually to India, but that he has been in Maryland for six months waiting for a visa. I guess the last ambassador from India said the church could have as many visas as we wanted, but the week before his son went into the MTC the new ambassador came and he is not giving any right now. Then the man proceeded to tell me a story. He said "a similar thing happened to me. Now this was back in the early 80s, but I was called to Mexico. We also had a problem getting visas so they sent me to Montana to wait for my visa and I ended up serving in Chile." I said that the same thing happened to my dad but he waited in New Mexico and ended up serving in Argentina. He did a double take and then looked at my name tag. He asked "did he serve in Cordoba?" I told him yes. "What was his name." "Well it was Elder Ladd...Joseph." "A real tall guy?" "Yeah! Did you know him?" "He was in my MTC district!" So dad, I met Elder Mike Anderson. He said that everyone in his district was called to different parts of Mexico and when they all had the same visa problem all the elders except for him got sent to New Mexico. He described you as "not a serious guy at all." I laughed. He also says he has some pictures from the MTC that he is going to send me. He is originally from Tuscon, but lives in Colorado now, and just happened to stop by the VC while he was in town. I think that is the smallest world experience I've ever had!

Desde Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I hope that everyone had a safe and fun New Years. On New Years eve we were of course in the VC. All of the missionaries sang and I think it went pretty well (mom if you haven't already you should be getting some pictures from the Crandalls). There was a little mission party but as a VC we had to split in half to go so that the center was covered and ended up being there for only about 15 minutes. After closing it was home and in bed by 11:30. On New Years day all of the sisters from the VC went with the directors and another senior couple bowling. It was so much fun! Many of the sisters had never bowled before, and as usually is the case with bowling, the rest of us were all at about the same level. Elder Burke, however, seems to have a hidden talent for bowling. He blew us all away! Maybe it was because he plays golf every week, so he has a good arm. After that we went back to the VC and had pizza and then opened at 5. That was the last day of the lights and it has been pretty quiet in the VC ever since. We are back to our old schedule. In almost every way that is good because we have so much time in our area now, but that means that we won't be working with all of the sisters every night, so I think I'll start to miss some of them.

On Saturday night, the lights came on for a few hours, even though they were officially over. I guess the timers were still on. There were only 6 of us there that night and it began to get a little crowded. However, amid all that we got to witness a really awesome miracle. While Hna. Lopez and I were at the back desk, there was a girl sitting in one of the chairs going through her phone and writing something down. Then she came up to us and asked of she could have some referral cards. We told her that of course we would love to give her some cards and asked how many she would need. "Twenty." We were so shocked! Hna. Lopez said, "you know you can fit 2 names on a card" so we gave her 10 cards. We asked her if it was for a project or something and she said no, it was just for her friends. She took them and then went back and sat down and began filling them out. When we had to change posts we told the sister coming to back desk about it. She ended up giving us 21 names! Sis. Smith was the one at back desk when she gave them to us. The girl told her that she was really scared to do it, but that it was one of her New Year's resolutions and she wanted to start off well. She is going to be so blessed for that! I wish that I had the courage to share the gospel with more of my friends before my mission. That is something that I will definitely change when I get home. I have seen the mixture of love, joy, excitement, hesitation and faith as people in the VC invite their friends to learn about the gospel and because of it, we sent out almost 2000 confirmed teaching opportunities during December. And there are so many more to send! I haven't even counted the number of cards in my box to call, but I can certainly say that there are a lot!

That is all for this week. I hope you all aren't freezing wherever you are... it has been in the 70s all week here!

Desde Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Saturday, January 2, 2010

And a Happy New Year!

Well our mission reached our goal of 1200 baptisms this year! We had almost 400 just in the last 3 months. I was so glad that our little branch could contribute to that. Speaking of our little branch, today is transfer day and no change. I am still with Hna. Lopez in Ensenada Park. If I stay here any longer then I might just end up ending my mission here. I am excited to continue to help this area. Especially because of the limited time we had in our area during the Christmas season, it could really use some help. We have been really blessed, however, for our work in the Visitors' Center and have received 5 referrals from people coming to the lights and accepting missionaries. I can't wait to see how things turn out here! I am also glad that I am not leaving because of our wonderful little branch. It seems like every time the end of the transfer comes and I feel like I am ready for a change we have some type of ward activity that makes me realize how much I will miss the branch when I do leave. This Saturday our schedule is going to go back to normal (which won't seem very normal after a month of Christmas lights) but we will have so much more time in our area and I am hoping that with that extra time comes the blessing of extra people to teach as well.

I feel like there is not much to say seeing as how I talked to the family just a few days ago. Christmas was really great! I woke up, called the family, then Hna. Lopez and I opened our presents and then headed to the Burke's apartment for our VC brunch. Everyone loves sister missionaries. Some people brought us all stockings, the Burkes made us all blankets, and there was a boy scout who did an Eagle scout project collecting clothes for all of the sisters. Then we played a White Elephant game and then we went over to the VC and watched It's a Wonderful Life. Then we opened and it was business as usual. This Friday we are going bowling as a VC to celebrate New Years. 2009 went by so fast and brought huge changes. I graduated from college and went on a mission. 2010 will be spent almost completely, if not completely on my mission, so I know that it will fly by. However, there will still be tons of changes. Transfers bring surprises every 6 weeks, and in 3 weeks the Burkes are leaving and we will be getting new directors. Then the Bassetts leave this summer and around the time I hit my year mark we will become the second oldest sisters at the VC. And the whole time new missionaries will be coming and old ones will be going, including both of the Senior couples at the VC.

3 new sisters arrived at the VC today. One of them speaks French and the other took a little Arabic, so I feel like they are little blessings to help me learn French and relearn Arabic so that I can communicate when I get home. (To those out of the loop my family is moving to Morocco. (Mom you can censor that if you didn't want to tell everyone yet))

I am excited to make missionary goals for the New Year, and excited to see the mission's goals. Since we reached a miracle this year we will have to raise our goal and stretch to meet a new one. I encourage all of you to also make some New Year's goals that you can reach for this year. And especially try and include some missionary ones, too!

Today in the VC I spoke to someone from Northern Scotland, raised in a tiny hamlet speaking Welsh and growing up pagan. It was so interesting to take to him and hear his questions. Since I was blessed to grow up in the church I have had an understanding of who God is since Primary. It strengthened my testimony of the love of our Father in Heaven as I tried to answer this man's questions about His nature. I realized that our knowledge of God will never be enough in this life to perfectly understand because we see things in such a limited perspective. That is what is so beautiful about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The first principle is faith and that is all we are asked to have. Not a knowledge but a faith and a hope that Our Father loves us, and when we have that faith in him and his son Jesus Christ, then the reast takes care of itself and little details that we can't understand without an eternal perspective don't matter. And interestingly enough, when we have that faith, even just the desire to believe, then amazingly we begin to notice more and more things that testify of God and Jesus.

I love you all and hope to have more stories as we have more time in our area!
Desde Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd