Serving in the Mexico Mérida Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Monday, April 20, 2015

Returning with Honor

Oh, so close!  Luci is waiting...
Here she comes!
Sister Ludlam returned home with honor.  She completed her mission to Mérida, México, arriving home in New Jersey at 7:42 pm on Thursday, April 16, 2015. We captured the moment the best we could on cell phone cameras. She radiated a beautiful glow -- and it wasn't just her south-of-the-border tan!  Lots of tears and lots of hugs....

Within an hour of her arrival, our stake president, Bruce Jones, released Sister Ludlam from her calling as a full-time missionary.  She took off her name tag and became Lia once again.  We are so proud of her!

Crossing the Línea de Meta (Finish Line)
What a wonderful weekend we have had together as a family.  These are days never to be forgotten.  So wonderful to hear her report to the High Council, come to church with us, catch up on 18 months of life, Skype with Grant-- sharing all the sweet things that bring us joy.  We hope you enjoy some of her homecoming moments in pictures.

We love you, Lia!  We are excited to see you move on to your next big adventure!
Welcome Home, Lia!

Mama Love
Papa Love
¡Bienvenida a Casa, Hermosa Lia!

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation.  --Isaiah 52:7
Days Never to be Forgotten!
Hurrah for Israel!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Yucatecan Phrases

Yucatecan phrases for future yucatecan missionaries. What makes them Yucatecan is the pronunciation. :)

´'Está bueno.' (Sounds good.)
'Así de cosas, misioneras.' (When they don't know what to say.)
'Así es.' (Yes; that's how it is.)
'Y me duele.' (When relating physical maladies).
'Lo que pasa es... que...' (The thing is...)
'¿No tienen frío?' (In 40-50 degree weather)
'...uh-hah...' (Frequent interjection)
'Otro dia.' (No.)
'Y me quedan duro, duro duro.' (Adjectives repeated three times.)
'Hasta oooOOoooh muy lejos' (Very far away-- expressed with a wave of the hand)
'Hace oooOOoooh mucho tiempo' (A long time ago-- also with a wave)
'Hay más, ¿eh? Con confianza.' (When putting down your plate for you)
'Soy catolico a mi manera.' (The prominent religion)
'Uait.' (Phew! Ugh. Wow.) 
'pam' (pan-- all words ending in 'n' are said with 'm'.)
'¿Como va a_hacer? (Really? When someone says something surprising or dumb)
'Como les vuelvo a repitir...' (for the fifth time)
'Les voy a decir una cosa' (To introduce a new idea)
'¡Ahí voy!' (I'm coming!)
'Ahí viene.' (Here she comes.)
'Ahí te hablan.' (There's someone at the door for you.)
'Este...' (Um... )
'Todavía.' (It's still that way.) (Not yet.)
'...que no sé que...' (interjection when quoting someone)
'Ouch.' (When something is dropped.)
'Lo busqué!' (I found it!)

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Final Word!

Oh, Family.

Sisters at the ward Easter Party
I have un monton de cosas que decirles (a lot of things to tell you).

Elí se bautizó. Fue glorioso. He is so feliz. (Eli was baptized.  It was glorious.  He is so happy). Everything went perfectly. He’s a theologist, so I think he’s going to be the missionary’s favorite member to bring to appointments because he relates to everyone. 
And guess who baptized him... Hermano Dionisio!  And his wife came to the baptism. :)
Heavenly Father does really nice things for me. Eli would have been baptized anyway, but Heavenly Father let me be part of it.

I had pictures! But Hermana Chamorro will have to send them to me again next week, her camera died.

I am going to miss Hermana Chamorro-- I think the most important thing she taught me was how observant she was if the Spirit was or was not present in a lesson we taught or what we said. We were constantly commentating and evaluating how much the Spirit was felt. It made a difference; almost every lesson was a cool lesson. I want to be that sensitive for the rest of my life.

I wanted to make a list of things I wish I had known at the beginning of my mission, for future missionaries.

  1. The main goal when talking with people is to say what is needed -- to get people to feel the Spirit. That’s all.
  2. Your whole job is to change culture (“traditions” as it says in the Book of Mormon). 
  3. Start with the members. I spent a whole lot of time finding people through my own means, but that wastes a lot of time. I wish I had started working from the beginning to convert members. Converted members should be the primary source of investigators.
  4. If you read something in Preach My Gospel that you aren't doing, start doing it. In fact, that’s how you should read PMG, looking for the things you aren't doing. Teach Preach My Gospel to the members.
  5. There is ALWAYS something you can do better. If something didn't go well, think about how you could have planned it better.
  6. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing Satan’s influence in everything, in everybody--  it’s kind of a shock, but you get used to it. 
  7. Fight the tendency to put up walls. I am an idea-killer, but it's good to let ideas develop a little before shooting them down. Think about why things will work, and not just why they won't work.
  8. If you have an idea of how to change something or a new thing to try, do it immediately! If you wait, it won’t happen. 
  9. I walked past a lot of people thinking that I didn’t have time to talk to them because we had to get to lessons, until I started keeping stats.  Even though it is contrary to reason, the MORE people you talk to in the streets, the more lessons you will have. 
  10. Teach short lessons. 
Peek-a-boo! I'm coming to see you!
Family, I love you. That is my favorite thing about the gospel, is how it makes families happy. That’s what makes people the most happy, is having a happy family. 

Til we meet....!!!!!! I will be WITH you!
Much love,
Hermana Ludlam

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sweetest Miracle of My Whole Mission

I received the sweetest miracle of my whole mission this week.

Last month, we were teaching a golden investigator named Eli who went to church every week by himself and had read up to Alma in the first week, who came to the lessons with good questions and was happy with our answers. I loved him a lot.

And then, one day, he disappeared. Wouldn't answer the phone, wasn't at home, nothing, nothing, nothing. We called him two or three times a week for several weeks, but nothing. Our other investigators hadn't worked out and it seemed like my dream of having one more baptism before I finished my mission was not likely to happen.

Then, on Friday, me and Hermana Chamorro had an extra hour after a meeting with the bishop and the name of a future investigator comes into my head. We started walking there and for some reason we turned on Eli's street and when we passed his house, it still looked empty, but the lights are on. Hermana Chamorro said, "We should knock on his door." So we did. And lo and behold, ELI answered the door, now without his mustache.

I won't go into detail for his confidentiality, but he had been warned by the police to not answer any telephone calls for the past two weeks, and had left for Chiapas. He had just come home and was still waiting for important results from the police. He was a nervous wreck.

We showed him the "Gracias a Que El Vive" video and read Alma 31 (which happened to be the next chapter he was about to read) and we asked the Hermano that was with us to call one of the high priests to give him a priesthood blessing. He still didn't feel very good and didn't want to come to General Conference because the Police were supposed to come the next day. But Hermana Chammoro said. "This is how you can show your faith to Heavenly Father," and he said, "Tiene razon." (You're right.)

The next day we fasted for him. Guess who came to all 5 sessions of General Conference?! Sunday morning, he called to tell us that the police had resolved everything and confirmed that the crisis was over and everything was okay. He was so happy. We set a baptismal date over the phone.

I just couldn't help feeling that Heavenly Father was not only  blessing Eli, but that he would also do something so sweet for me. I would have been okay if there weren't any more baptisms before I went home, but when He answered my secret, silent prayers and fasts in such a miraculous way, I felt His love for me in a sweeter way than I ever had before.

If you could all pray that he can be baptized this Saturday, that would be great.

I feel like now, almost at the end of my mission, I'm finally living what Elder Holland was talking about with the phrase, "living in the realm of miracles."  Hermana Chamorro helped me to live it. I have learned from her to pray for everything-- and Heavenly Father gives us everything! We work from one minute-miracle to the next, our success completely dependent upon Him answering our prayers. We pray to know where to go. We pray that the other person will know what to say. We pray that the person we're talking to will understand, that they'll feel it's true, that they'll change in heart, that they'll think of a reference (someone else who would like to hear our message), that the Spirit will be stronger. And it happens.

I have also realized that the mission should be a harvest, that the field should already be white-- the majority of the planting and nurturing should be done by the MEMBERS so that the missionaries, who don't have time to sit and grow people like the members do, can come and CHOP CHOP CHOP--teach and baptize, teach and baptize. Members should be the primary finders, and the primary preparers. THEY are the angels talked about in Alma 13:24 that are preparing the hearts of the people to receive the message.

It's going to take a big culture change for members to realize that they need to be constantly meeting new people, constantly assessing needs and teaching their neighbors and friends, preparing the hard-hearted people to be soft enough to hear the missionaries.

You guys, I want to be the best member missionary ever.

Last realization-- I was hoping at the beginning of my mission that the mission would be hard enough that it would push me to the break point and I would have a big Atonement-using experience and feel like I could finally say I had felt the Atonement in my life. In my mission, I have felt a couple of those moments, but more than anything, the Atonement is what I use in little bitty ways, all the time, in little experiences all day. It is much more of a day-to-day tool than a crisis tool.

I was hoping to make a list of Yucatecan-isms, but I'll have to do it in my next letter.

I love you all muchisimo.
Hermana Ludlam

Monday, March 30, 2015

We lighten the loads of others best when...(video)

Familia Mia,

I liked the General Women's Meeting. I listened for the first time in Spanish and it makes me grateful I speak English, but when I listened in Spanish, the things that I teach about during the day stood out more to me because it's the same vocabulary. 
I LOVED Elder Eyring's message at the meeting (watch here). We teach people every day the scripture in Matthew 11:28-30 about how making covenants (or yoking ourselves to Christ) alleviates burdens. But Elder Eyring helped me see for the first time that we also make a covenant to DO what Christ does. 

Our baptismal obligations-- lighten burdens, mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort (Mosiah 18:8-10)-- are CHRIST'S roles. Is this the same idea as becoming "Saviors on Mount Zion?" That as we take upon us the name of Christ, we take on His roles, too? Obviously we do them in a lesser degree, but we try to help Him do His work. I realized my job as a representative of Christ (always) is not just to renounce sin, but to comfort and strengthen as He would, too.

Our ward culture is changing. It makes me very hopeful. We had an awesome meeting with the Bishop when we ate with him yesterday.

Much love,
Hermana Ludlam
pictures below
Hermana Margarita, my hero, showing a display of her recycled projects in a Relief Society (church women's organization) activity.

Hermano Arturo cut his hair and came to church!!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Companion Time! Hna. Chamorro~

Hullo, Family.

¡Nueva compañera!  My new companion is Hermana Chamorro, a Colombiana, but she's been living in Spain. She was a certified English teacher and so we talk a lot in English to help her practice. It's a good thing, because I need to practice. I love listening to her talk because she studied different accents and so her English is a mix of Australian, French and African. We work a lot on standardizing her accent. She is a convert of 3 years and the only member is her family. And she works. I LOVE having a companion who talks to people before I do!

Unfortunately, neither of us have cameras today so I won't be able to show you how lovely she is, but we will send pictures next week

I wish I had known before my mission that it's a lot harder to help people feel the Spirit if you are testifying of something you don't have a personal experience with. It makes such a difference to be able to teach someone a commandment or a principle and testify of it as I'm thinking of how it's affected me in my own life. It's a very different feeling.  I wish I had been storing up experiences with each of the principles I am teaching-- to be looking for experiences of spiritual confirmation. 

It would be a good idea to go through each invitation in Preach My Gospel and ask yourself: Have I deliberately done that? Do I know why it's important to do that? How does doing that contribute to my personal conversion?

Que tengan buena semana! (Have a great week!)
Hermana Ludlam

Monday, March 16, 2015

Picture Bonanza!

Hola Familia,

I don't have time to write a good letter, but I will next week!

This week was miraculous because TWENTY-ONE less-actives and FIVE investigators came to church for the ward conference, which was one of the best sacrament meetings I've been in. They decorated the chapel beautifully with floral arrangements and the ward choir had been practicing for weeks. Hermana Mildred made all the women matching scarves. I played the violin. The stake president, who is a professional counselor, gave a FANTASIC talk on family life.
It will be a moment in my memory forever...
And Hermano Arturo cut his hair and came to church.
A miracle months in the waiting.
The ward was pleased with us. :)

Hermana Ludlam
Lots of pictures (6)
 The Hermanas misioneras with Hermana Carolina in her ward choir uniform.

For Hermana Oaxaca's brithday, we celebrated at Los Trompos!

I think this is a Guavanava.

This is from the Molina's house in a down pour.

Playing with Hermana Wilson for Ward Conference

Manuel Perrera and Lia performing for Ward Conference