Monday, October 25, 2010

'May we open with a prayer and a load of whites?'

I hope that the title gives you an odd image in your head and I hope that that image at least a little bit resembles the odd week we have had. I am sad that I won't have much to report on the missionary side of things, since it seems most of our week was spent doing laundry. I'm sure that those who have access to the news have heard about a pest epidemic, and it seems with our schedule and our visits, we invited lots of little roommates into our apartment. At least thats what we think because Hna. Rodio kept getting bitten during the night. So, to get rid of the invisible vampires, Elder Alldrege, the office missionary over housing decided we should probably fumigate. Fumigating a missionary apartment means washing EVERYTHING in hot water. That means everything. That means the flowered curtains over our window. That means the old coat an ancient sister left in the closet. That means everything. Do you know how long it takes to wash everything made of fabric in a 4 sister apartment? 2 and a half days. We had to come back between every appointment to change a load of laundry. We seriously considered bringing our laundry with us to our investigators' houses, hence the subject line. And on top of all that, to avoid having to do 2 and a half days of laundry when they come back in 2 weeks to spray again, we had to move. So we found a family in our branch who have a little studio apartment that we can stay in for a few weeks. No study area, no kitchen, but it is cute and bug free. It is just difficult living between two places, because we can still go back to our old apartment, we just can't keep our clothing there, and we can't sit down anywhere... We also live farther away from the VC now and my bike has a flat tire, so we walk every morning and get rides home at night. We have come up with a companionship motto - If we can make it through this we can make it through anything. It seems to be working so far!

A few short updates on the mission: Jesus finally got confirmed! He was baptized Oct. 2nd, but then had to go to Mexico suddenly because his mother got sick. He doesn't have a phone nor does he live in our area, so we were very worried, but with the help of another recent convert we were able to track him down. On Sunday we had one last minute scare. Israel was going to pick Jesus up but he got there late and when he did, Jesus was nowhere to be found again. He called us and we were worried but told him just to come to church. On the way to church, he ran into Jesus, walking! He was so determined to make it this week that when Israel didn't come on time he started walking. I don't even know how far of a walk he lives from the church, it is at least a 20 minute drive. His confirmation was so special, and the brother confirming him started crying at the end when he blessed him to know he was loved and accepted by our branch. Jesus doesn't really feel that from many people so it was really special. After Sacrament meeting he came up to us and gave each of us a little glass statue (like the kind he pulled out of his colorful bag) and told us we were his angels.

As I have been coming closer and closer to being permanently transferred ;) I have seen so many other tender mercies from the Lord to help me realize the impact a mission makes on people. I saw Juan Ortega at the VC the other day. He is still just as excited about his baptism. I remember when Hna. Guzman and I first found him, and when Hna. McBride and I struggled to get him to read the Book of Mormon and go to church. He now goes almost every week. Once Hna. McBride and I asked him to start the Book of Mormon from the beginning. When we came back about a week later he told us that he had read 14 chapters already. 14 is a lot for a week for most investigators, so we were super excited, then he opened it up to show us and pointed to 1 Nephi... chapter 1... VERSE 14... On Friday, however, when we saw him at the VC, he opened up to where he is now... the Book of Ether! He is almost done with the Book of Mormon. He just thanked us for finding him and bringing the gospel into his life.

Last night I got to see Emilio and Estrella again. They were at the VC watching the Joseph Smith movie with their new missionaries (they moved from the Sister's area, but stayed in Liahona 4th.) They go to church every week still and Emilio has finally decided that he wants to get baptized! We asked him every lesson from practically the time we found him if he felt ready to be baptized and he just said he wanted to learn more. He was probably the most faithful reader of the Book of Mormon I have every taught, however, so that time finally came! Now he is going to get married and baptized, he hopes before the end of the year (his girlfriend is married to someone in Mexico.) Estrella was so excited to see me, and said she was hoping we'd be at the VC. We weren't even serving there, just waiting for some investigators to come. She still wants to go on a mission and said that she doesn't think she can wait 12 more years! I don't think I could ever express the joy that comes when you see how someone's life has changed and how they appreciate you for your part in that. I know that missionary work is all about them, rather than about us, but I am still grateful the Lord lets us have those little moments. And I am so grateful to serve in such a small mission with a VC, so that I can still see all these people who mean so much to me.

And for the other people who mean so much to me - I hope that you all have a great week. I miss you all and love you all! Happy Halloween! I hope your week isn't as frightful as ours has been ;)

Desde Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd

Monday, October 18, 2010

Transfer 11 starts today . . .

Wow, put in words that just looks crazy - Transfer 11! out of 11.5!

In good, better, and best news - I am going back to the VC, get to stay in BOTH areas of Ellsworth, and am still companions with Hna. Rodio! You can decide the order of which is good, which is better and which is best, because I sure can't! Sorry about the short email last week, but this week we are back at the library and have much better connection. The day after preparation day last week we were able to help a family in our branch, the Islas, clean the apartment they are moving into. They are moving out of our branch area, but as far as we all know they will be staying in the branch because it is just temporary. He is the Elder's Quorum President and she is in the Relief Society Presidency. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE being back in a branch. Liahona 4th as an area was amazing, but boy, there is nothing like serving in a little branch. It seems the less people there are, the more they do. We were really touched when, in our Branch Council meeting yesterday, we told them that we were both staying and many of the leaders didn't hide their excitement. Anyways, we helped them clean their apartment and then went out to eat pizza. There are so many neat families in our ward and I can't wait to continue to work with them. Hna. Rodio had the great idea to do a week long ward fast. We are really excited and even more excited because our leaders are so suportive. How it will work is that we will send around a sign up sheet next Sunday, and starting the Sunday before fast Sunday there will be families in our ward fasting certain days that week. That way as a branch we will be fasting for an entire week. We will go over to the families houses the night they start their fast to share a message and pray with them. Then on fast sunday they will of course have the opportunity to share their experience. Another way for us all to work together for missionary work.

On Friday, I went on exchanges with Hna. Hernandez in the Escondido branch. (We all like to make fun of the name of that branch, because it means "hidden" in Spanish, and it is one of the teeniest branches in the valley). I was able to meet a lot of neat people there. (PS, especially after this next transfer, if I start using the word 'neat' a lot you can blame it on Hna. Rodio, becuase she uses it tons and now I catch myself doing it as well!)
I am super excited to be finishing my mission up in this area. This transfer news means that I have 9 more weeks in Ellsworth park, and there is tons of promising things happening in the next 6 weeks!

Last night there was another mission president's fireside. I love those because it is my chance to see people who have such a big part of my heart. Especially because last night it was hosted by Liahona 4th, so I was able to see people like Rogelio, Hna. Rodriguez, Gilberto, etc. Also, we had a great miracle. Betty told us that she would try to come to church, but would more certainly be able to come to the fireside. I called her a little bit before with the address, and she had forgotten and had a headache, but still sounded like she was going to try to come. I felt like she was going to come and told Hna. Rodio so. Right after I told her the phone started vibrating, and it was Betty, saying that she had gotten lost! I gave her directions and about 10 minutes later she walked in! It was such a miracle and we know that despite her headache she was able to feel the Spirit. We are so grateful she made the efforts to come. She is one that we have great hopes for, because she is so sincere in her desires to learn. I'm excited to update you about her and everyone else in the coming emails!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5, 2010

The highlight of our past week was definitely conference weekend. Conference just doesn't get any better than on the mission. On Saturday morning session we walked over to the Visitors' Center to watch it in one of the theaters. Then some sisters drove us and our bikes down to the southern-most part of the area for an appointment we had immediately after the session. We saw Romina and Marcelo, our Argentine investigators and they committed to watching conference with us on Sunday afternoon. As soon as we left them we biked over to the stake center where we watched the second session, which was immediately followed by Jesus' baptism! Jesus was really excited for his baptism and really understood the significance of this step in his life. We got him some of the most interesting baptism presents I've ever gotten anyone in my mission. First of all we got him a notebook and pens, because he always carried around a notebook to write down our appointments and take notes during lessons. However, he lost it the week before his baptism, so we got him a new one and gave it to him before conference so that he could take notes. The second present needs a little explaining. The lesson before his baptism we were having a lesson with him in the Visitors' Center. Now, Jesus always carries with him a colorful handmade backpack, common to South American countries. He had to look through it for a pen so he started pulling out all of the things that mean a lot to him, all the things he carries with him always. Before I describe it, think about what you would carry around in your bag... Anyways, Jesus pulled out three glass cubes, the kind with etchings in the middle, that had been banged together so much that they were missing corners. Then he pulled out a metal snail statue, then a harmonica, and finally 2 bags of popcorn. He said a little something about each item as he pulled it out and when he got to the popcorn he got really excited. He explained in Spanish how it was his very favorite food, and when we said "popcorn, really?" He exclaimed in English "I just love it!" So we got him popcorn for his baptism! It is so funny because no matter who he is talking to he always says "I just love popcorn!" in English, rather than Spanish. After the baptism we headed to dinner. Our morning and afternoon had been packed! As we were leaving our dinner appointment, Sis. Rodio noticed some big salmon-brown clouds. "Those are fire clouds!" she said. Having never seen a fire cloud before I took her word for it and we peddled on. AS we got to one of the biggest streets in our area we stopped to talk to someone on the corner. The way we were standing I was facing them and the big clouds were behind them, so I had the better view. As Sis. Rodio was talking to the man I realized the clouds were moving way to fast to be fire clouds and that I had seen them a year earlier. It was a dust/sand storm that often accompanies monsoons. As soon as we finished the contact I told Sis. Rodio what they were and that we should probably get inside. We weren't worried because we had an appointment, so we just peddled as fast as we could through the wind and dust to our appointment. However, when we got there she was "taking a shower" so the appointment was cancelled. By this time the dust storm had been pushed through and the thunderstorm was coming. Now, in a car, it would be just a regular missionary evening, despite the weather, but on bikes, lightning creates a different story. We were unsure whether we should be out in the weather but as we were leaving the cancelled appointment we got our answer. Sis. Rodio looked down at her back tire, only to discover that somewhere along the way it had lost all of its air. not just some, but all. So much that we could pull the tire off the spoke... We weren't going anywhere. So here we were stranded under an apartment car port, during the priesthood session of conference when all the men with trucks and bike gear had the cell phones off. So instead we called the VC, and got permission for the sisters who had driven us that morning to come pick us up. Luckily they still had our bike rack. It made for quite an exciting Saturday.