Tuesday, June 29, 2010

29 June 2010

President Bassett is off and President Ellsworth is here. We get to meet him tomorrow.
Seferino has committed to baptism next month. We watched the Joseph Smith movie with him. What a blessing to have the Visitors' Center.
Melissa and Quirino are praying together every night. They have also started reading their scriptures, personally and together. We love having FHE there because it brings so much light to the darkest part of the area. Quirino has also been sober for over a week, even with his neighbors calling him every night inviting him to just walk outside and drink with them.
We got to go to the temple on Thursday. I feel blessed to be part of a mission president switch, even though others are scared. Just think about it, whenever a prophet or leader died or left in the scriptures he gave some of his strongest advice. Before the temple trip on Thursday we had a conference and heard Pres. and Sis. Bassett's "last words." Then we got to go through the temple with half of the mission.
We get to clean the temple a week from Monday. I'll have more to say after we actually do it.
I gave a talk in sacrament meeting on Sunday. We had some hard meetings with the ward leaders in the morning. They don't have much if any faith in our investigators. It is frustrating that they don't understand that they don't have to be perfect before baptism. Most of them are converts and they have already forgotten that they too had vices they were able to overcome with the help of the gospel. My talk was on the Rock of our Redeemer. However, the chapel plus overflow ward was a 3rd of the chapel branch on Sunday morning. We are pretty sure it is because Mexico played Sunday morning.
We found Juan Michoacan for the first time in a while. He has been out of town for a little over a week. We were afraid that he had gone to California with his sister's family. He said that everytime his son comes over his son won't let him go to sleep until he prays. His son also asks for us everytime he comes over, saying "papi, where are your friends? can't you call them and tell them to come over right now? why don't they come over to play anymore?" I love when children recognize the gospel. God really is sending His strongest to the earth right now.
We haven't had personal study for 4 out of the last 6 days. It is amazing how much of a toll it takes on your spirit. Especially after being full-field and being about to study every morning and no going back to the VC and losing that. It is so important to read your scriptures everyday, otherwise your spirit literally starves!
I bought a composition notebook made out of stone (weird, huh?)
I love my companions so so so much. We have tons of fun together. I don't even want to think about the likely change that is coming in a few weeks. I want to stay in this trio for the rest of my mission. I wouldn't mind staying in this area either (in the ward I wouldn't, but the area, for sure).

The temple gardens are full of huge sunflowers and there is a little duckling in the reflection pool. Sometimes when I see the temple from a different angle than that at the back desk of the VC, it hits me again just how beautiful it is. I can't even imagine how much more amazing it must be for someone who doesn't have the Spirit with them and doesn't know what it is, because their spirit recognizes it and feels something when they first see it.
The sun is scorching but I've gotten used to the 110+ heat. Really it hasn't been to bad. Everyday the temperature surprises me. I have realized how much of a difference humidity really does make. In the shade the heat here is completely bearable. It is just the sun that kills, it is super direct sunlight. Plus, I'm a missionary and we have way more important things to worry about than sweating.

My next pday has been changed from Tuesday the 6th to Monday the 5th. Just so you know :) Especially you, Dad, so you can try and get an email off. If I don't get one I'll try and get permission to check my email Tuesday morning, because I can't wait to hear from you in Morocco!
I love you and good luck with the move!

Desde Mesa, con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

22 June 2010

Happy Father's Day, Dad, and Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Hope they both were enjoyable and not tooo stressful with the move.

Well I have to say that this transfer was the one where I got the faster confirmation on companionship ever. Even though I have had really great companions my whole mission, sometimes you don't know why you have to be with specific ones or what you are supposed to learn from them until later in the transfer or even after it is over. I love this companionship and am excited for the best transfer ever. My companions are both awesome and together we are a great companionship. Hna. Rodio is like a little ball of sunshine in our companionship. I love being back at the VC and feel like I can be more involved in improving the work there. We have so much fun as a companionship and yet are able to get tons of work done. The Lord keeps blessing me with transfers I don't deserve. I just hope that I can make a difference for good in the lives of my companions, just as they do in mine.

Rogelio's baptism went wonderfully on Saturday. Not many of the ward showed up which was disappointing but common for the ward. However, as Sis. Rodio said, Rogelio was there and Heavenly Father was there and that is all that matters. Hna. McBride and I worked harder for this baptism than for any other in my mission. That isn't meaning that my other baptisms weren't as meaningful, but they didn't need as much support from us the missionaries. I felt like we really had to fight for Rogelio and help him keep his spirits up. It was so worth it. Rogelio is a rougher looking man. He has longer hair, a large black widow spider on one side of his neck and a smaller spider on the other side and an earring in one ear. Those are my favorite baptisms, to see people who once were some of the hardest-hearted people in the world become now the cleanest and happiest. What made his baptism and confirmation even better for me was what happened last night. We went over to Armando's (the recent convert we have FHE with every week, sorry, but I really forget how much I write about these people and so I never know if you know who I am talking about) anyways, Rogelio also lives in the trailers and came last night and it was a miracle. I felt like I didn't even recognize him. He was smiling and joking around with the kids there. He was happy and I had never seen him that happy in all the time meeting with him. I had been praying for him to recognize the remission of his sins when it came, to really be able to feel it because he was a little worried that he had been so bad he couldn't be forgiven and last night I got the answer to my prayer and I know he got the answer to so many of his. That happiness he feels right now is a testimony that the he has received the Holy Ghost and is allowing its influence in his life. I hope that he never loses that. Sometimes those of us who have been members of the church longer sometimes forget what if felt like not to have the Holy Ghost so we don't recognize that it feels any different to have the Holy Ghost and we take it for granted. Let's never take that for granted and always recognize that the happiness in our life is attribute to the fact that we are blessing with the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Juan Ortega is also starting to get that more and more in his life and he has decided to be baptized. He is really excited about it and knows that he has made the right decision. We were a little hesitant when he asked how soon can I be baptized and we told him that the soonest was in about 3 months (he has some repenting to do before then). But he took it super well and since he doesn't know any different he said "3 months sounds great!" I really love that I am here in Liahona 4th. I love serving a mission and can honestly say that this past transfer and this past week have been the happiest 7 weeks of my life. I have been happy before, but the joy felt when you give your life to share the gospel can only be described in the words of Alma: "My joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God... Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel..."

Desde Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sis. Ladd... the time has come...

That is how Elder Smith introduced our transfer news when he called Saturday night so that is how I start it now.

The time has come for me... To stay in Liahona 4th!!!!!

I really got the best of all worlds in this transfer: 1) I get to stay one more transfer in Liahona 4th, 2) I get to go back to the VC, which I was starting to miss, 3) I get to stay with Hna. McBride, which was a blast, and... 4) I get a new companion too! We are going to be in a trio! I am actually excited and not too nervous about this trio. The first one was hard but 2/3 of us were super new missionaries. Now it is the opposite. 2/3 of us have been out for over a year (my mission birthday is Thursday...) Hna. Rodio, our new companion has only been out 1 transfer. She was trained by my dear companion Sis. Lopez, so all three of us have had Sis. Lopez as a comp now. The only thing that I am a little teeny bit sad about is that I am staying in the area AND going back to the VC. I was ready for one or the other. Either I'd go back to the VC (good) and leave the area (sad) or Stay in the area (good) and stay out of the VC (sad). The reason I am a little teeny bit sad about staying and returning at the same time is that our area has really been busy even for full-field. There is so much work and sometimes we don't have time to see all of our investigators as often as we would like. However, one thing I learned when I left the VC for the first time is that as long as you work hard, the Lord fills up your time no matter how much you have. We are really going to have to juggle to be able to see every one. And we only have about 2 full-field days in the area, because we are really short on Spanish VC sisters. There will only be 3 companionships at the VC, meaning 7 sisters. Luckily there is an English sister who is from Argentina so she can help us out. The other 3 VC Spanish sisters are full-field right now. Anyways, to make a long story short, Hna. McBride and I were super happy with transfer news!

As far as our investigators, they are doing well. We had a rough last week of the transfer for some reason. Last transfer really was the greatest transfer of my mission, yet last week was one of the hardest weeks. Our numbers had been almost doubling every week, but things kind of came crashing down last minute. However, we still saw a lot of miracles. In fact, the bad things that happened weren't permanent bad things, and I think it was just a way for the Lord to show us his hand in the work and that he is in control of the timing. Rogelio didn't get baptized as planned last Saturday, but he will get baptized this week. I told you how he had been thinking about leaving. He didn't end up going to work for Bro. Crandall Tuesday or Wednesday. When we went over on Wednesday he was packing for Mexico. We were heartbroken. We told him that the job was still available and called Bro. Crandall right then. We were able to convince him to stay and at the end he agreed to pray for the first time in a few lessons. When he prayed he thanked Heavenly Father for his blessings and apologized for losing faith. We were so happy to hear that. He didn't even end up working for Bro. Crandall on Thursday or Friday, but his faith was back and his desire to get baptized too. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday he was able to work for his old boss, but that's why he didn't get baptized. When we saw him Sunday he told us that he still hadn't gotten paid by her and was sad he missed his baptism, and that there was nothing that could keep him from missing it this week. I know that that was just a trial he needed to pass to show his desire to get baptized and this week we don't feel any of the anxiety about his baptism that we did last week.

Another thing that made last week sad is that we finally had investigators move out of Arizona :( So far it was only Perla and Danito, but Daniel might be going soon. It is amazing how much of a difference there is in our trailer park without Danito! Their trailer is almost in the middle, and we pass it all the time and can see it from most of the streets. Without Danito and his character it just isn't the same. And he is only 3 years old...

I think that is about it. Oh wait, the heat! I think I am actually getting used to it... It was 105 yesterday and Hna. McBride and I kept our sweaters on and it didn't even bother us. I realize how much humidity makes a difference and am very grateful I went from a humid heat to a dry heat, rather than vice versa. I am not really worried about the summer. The heat came on late so maybe it won't get too hot. The hardest is being in the car and getting up the energy to get out of it. Bikes are much better because when you are on bike you have more energy and you are already hot, so no big deal. However, the bike I was using got stolen Saturday night (another reason the week was hard.) We are going to try and get others from the VC. Good thing about bikes too is that no one really owns them, they are from sisters that went home before I even came out, so if they get stolen we can find another (although I was still really mad because I loved that bike and I had locked it up even...)

Anyways, I hope you all are enjoying you June, I sure am! Can't believe I've been out a year already!

Desde Mesa, con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

what a week...

This has been hands down the craziest week of my mission. It started out as promising to be the best, but then took a turn for frustrating. Here's what happened:

On Tuesday we got a call from the referral secretary of the mission saying that she had an emergency referral for us, a woman, Lydia, who wanted to get baptized SATURDAY! Her son had gone into the VC and asked for Spanish missionaries to come, because he (a member of 2 years) would be leaving for boot camp with the Marines Monday and she wanted him to baptize her before he left. Well, we met her on Wednesday and confirmed that that is what she wanted. She had been married to a member so had gone to church many times before. She told us she has been wanting to get baptized many times before but something always came up, her daughter was in the hospital, she was in the hospital, she wasn't actually married when she thought she was (her husband hadn't gotten the license signed as he told her). Anyways, she wanted to be baptized last week. We were amazed at the miracle the Lord had placed in our area. So we spent 3 hours teaching her the first half of the lessons Thursday, and 2 hours teaching her the second half Friday. She passed her baptismal interview on Friday night. We called EVERYONE in the ward on Friday to tell them about the baptism. Then, on Saturday at noon we canceled the baptism. Boy was it hard to do. Sorry I just cut to the point but I didn't feel like drawing the excitement out any longer. Both Sis. McBride and I didn't feel right about the baptism but we just thought it was our mind, since a baptism in three days is a really really big miracle. Our ward mission leader called us Saturday morning saying he and the bishop both thought that it was really rushed. They were also concerned because there is a single man renting one of the rooms in her apartment and they were worried about that. We felt that that was the confirmation that it was the Spirit, not our mind, saying the baptism wasn't right. It was really really really hard to do. We went over to talk to her and they came up with the idea that her son can baptize her when he comes back in September or October. By then her other 3 children (which her ex has custody of) can also be ready to get baptized. Also, Hector will be ordained an elder at boot camp so he will be able to confirm them as well. This way he will also have motivation to stay worthy and live his standards while with the military. She seemed completely okay with all of this until Hector left, then she opened up and said that she wasn't happy about it, and that ever time she tries to get baptized something comes up. "And this time I was only 4 hours away!" She is upset with the bishop and thinks it was his fault, she didn't seem to hear us when we said that all of us felt it wasn't the right time. She is willing to wait, because she knows it is true and that it is the right thing. That is what was so hard. She has such a strong testimony, and a great understanding of the gospel, but for some reason the timing wasn't right. We still don't know why she has to wait. Maybe that's the only way her children will be able to get baptized. She is great though, we love her so much. She is from Puerto Rico. Boy, I don't know what I would have done if I had served there. EVERY Puerto Rican I've met is crazy. That goes for Cubans and Dominicans too. I think the Islands do something to them. But, they are all some of the funnest people to be around and Lydia is no exception. Anyways, we were emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally exhausted by all of that, and it was only Saturday. But wait, there's more... At our appointment on Sunday, Rogelio, who is supposed to get baptized this Saturday said that most likely he will be leaving this week. He is extremely discouraged, because it seems the closer he gets to the church the worse things get around him. His boss hasn't paid him in a long time so he is thinking of going back to Mexico. We told him he needs to make a decision and then consult the Lord about it. Even though we really wanted to interfere and tell him to stay, we know that he needs to learn how to receive revelation from the Lord. We told him that we would support him and help him find the church wherever he goes. We also told him we'd help him find a job if he chooses to stay here. As soon as we left I started calling people in the ward but no one knew of any jobs. Then, for some reason Bro. Crandall's name popped into my head and I remembered he works in roofing, which is what Rogelio has been doing. I called him up and he said that they actually were about to start a job that would last them until Friday. When I called Rogelio last night to see what he had decided, he said that he had decided to stay through Friday to seem what happens. I was so excited to be able to tell him about the job then. We are still praying that he stays longer, so that he can get baptized. I am really worried that if he leaves he will have a hard time getting baptized. At the same time, however, I am not too worried about him leaving. I think he will stay and I hope that is the Spirit, and that I am not just past-feeling after all that has happened this week. He will be working with all members, including a Hispanic member in the branch presidency in Ensenada Park. I know that there is a reason Bro. Crandall's name came to my head, so we are hoping for the best. Even though it has been a hard week, we have learned so much. We have learned how to better listen to the Spirit and trust in the Lord and His timing. We have been able to continue seeing a lot of miracles in the area. I hope beyond hope that I can stay here one more transfer. I love Liahona 4th so much! I love every one of our investigators! We have recently started to teach some formers that are extremely addicted to smoking (the woman) and drinking (the man). Their situation is sooo sad. Addictions are horrible horrible things. I have learned on my mission that there are things in this world that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can heal. No therapy or treatment or medicine can help heal the sicknesses of discouragement, hopelessness, and loneliness like pure light at truth. Melissa and Querino are so addicted to their respective substances that they have lost all sense of self-worth. That is a deadly attack from the adversary, but if I have learned one thing on my mission it is that the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ can heal every person of every trial. When all these people see is hopelessness and darkness, those of us that have passed through it and reached the light on the other side can't help but help them. We with the gospel know what blessings await us through the trials and it is something we have to share. I am grateful for that hope, it allows me to go into some of this sad and dark places and still feel the Spirit and see the potential these children of God have. We have visited them many times in the past week and had a FHE there with some members last night. It is amazing how the scariest part of our area is beginning to change as they are creating a place for the Spirit to come.

I love you all and will have transfer news next week!

Desde Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1 June 2010

Well this preparation day probably started the best of any in my mission (besides the ones where we go to the temple) but this morning for our zone activity we all went and played laser tag! It was so much fun. Some elders in the zone live with the members that own this huge place called Golfland, with tons of different things to do. It was double fun because after we played laser tag we got to do service and helped them fix a few parts of the terrain and wash everything down. It was a blast for sure.

The work is going great as usual. I know it probably won't happen but I would looooove to stay in this area next transfer. There are so many of our investigators who will be ready for baptism then and that is so exciting. Last pday was the first one of my mission where all three of our pday appts were there, which was great! Wednesday we had our last interviews with Pres. Bassett. He is such a great leader for the mission, but I am excited for the Ellsworths to get here to see how the work continues to progress. The Zambrano family is finally complete. Of course I can't remember everything I've said, but we have been teaching both Daniel and his brother-out-of-law Juan, which I know I've talked about. Last week we went to find Juan at an appt. He wasn't there, but his sister Perla was. We have been wanting to teach her before, she is such a sweet woman, but Daniel kind of answers for her when we ask if she wants to listen or if he will go invite her to join us. Neither Daniel or Juan were there so when Perla answered the door she said "do you want to come in? I don't know why I've never invited you in before..." We sat down and talked to her and she opened up about how Daniel drinks and is a bad example for their 3 year old. She also told us they weren't married and that she used to be meeting with missionaries about 5 years ago. (Daniel had told us he doesn't drink and that they were married...) We are actually thinking about dropping Daniel and Juan because they promised to come to church but didn't show up, which has happened a few times before. We are going to start focusing on Perla and maybe she will be the one who can bring the whole family around. When we dropped Daniel we started visiting Juan and Daniel saw and kind of came back from disappearing all the time. Now when we drop them both and pick up Perla we are hoping her example can bring them both back and help them keep commitments. She is super sweet and just seems like a really good person. She wants the best for her son like any mother and has so much patience with Daniel. When we found her she was watching cartoons of stories from the Bible. Her son Danny had fallen asleep to them but she kept watching even after she put him to bed. Rogelio is coming along great. We left him 2 Nephi 31 to read to be prepared for when we taught the lesson about the gospel and when we followed up he pretty much taught the lesson to us. He is on track for his baptism June 12th. Emilio and his daughter Estrella came with us to a baptism which we are hoping will help Emilio accept a baptismal commitment. The baptism was also a great miracle. We thought it was going to be 1 woman, but it ended up being 1 woman and 5 children. The elders have been teaching a family with 4 children for months and they are still waiting on the father's divorce from mexico so that the parents can get married and baptized. They were going to have the kids wait to but then suddenly they decided to have them get baptized. The son of the woman also got baptized. The Spirit is so strong when children get baptized, because they are young, but have still felt the influence of the Spirit and understand the necessity of what they are doing. After the baptism Estrella who is 9 said "I wish I could get baptized like that, but I already got baptized when I was a baby." I happily told her that she could get baptized again when it was in the right church. She excitedly told her dad that she could and wanted to get baptized again. I love it when the children are the example to their parents. Children are so close to the Spirit sometimes.

In VC news, they just opened up and new Exhibit in the center. It is "Our Heritage of Faith" and is a collection of some of the winners from the Church's art competitions over the years. They are all original and it is really beautiful. You can feel the Spirit so strong through art, which is one reason I love the VC. They even have works from two of my very favorite church artists, a painting of Esther by Elspeth Young and a painting of Jesus learning carpentry by Walter Rane. Another piece that I love is called Duet: Mary and Martha. It is a sculpture (bronze I think) of Mary and Martha back to back. Their dresses swirl into one fluid movement. Mary is holding scriptures and looking up and Martha holding food and looking down. The artist says it is to symbolize the noble traits of both women. Mary looking up as if to the Lord, strengthening her faith, Martha looking down to those around her, serving them with charity. It is a really beautiful piece. Ky, you would love the Exhibit! I'm really glad that I will be going back to that at the VC. The whole exhibit just seems so conducive to teaching our special message.

I love you all and I love this work and I am glad that this transfer is so busy it seems sometimes that there is too much to write!

Desde Mesa, con amor,
Hermana Ladd