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

Saturday, October 26, 2013

It doesn't really feel like my life anymore, but it's a good thing!


I can't actually see my blog because it's not a mission-approved site, but I trust your taste better than mine. I do like that one picture of the Merida temple with the purple flowers if you are looking for theme ideas. Thank you for doing it mum!

Mérida Mexico Temple
Also THANK you for writing to me. I get the deal with missionaries and mail now, it's a big deal. I love every word I hear from you. And extra extra thank you's to Luci for writing to me! It made my whole day! I'm going to send handwritten letters because that's all I have time for and I'm writing to you first. I'm also writing to you ASAP, Grant, thank you for sending such great letters. A las otras hermanas (to the other sisters): I thought you were going to write me all the time! I miss you. I'll try to get real letters out to everyone as soon as I can. 

I finally realized why so many missionary letters are boring, it's because you have hardly any time to write and then no time to edit it and make it sound interesting or convey how important it is, and on top of that you are learning SO much that you just can't explain it in depth. I'll just have to show you my journals when I get back.

I feel like my whole life I've been treading gospel water and now I'm way under, with scuba gear and stuff. The gospel sure feels different when it becomes your life, when you experience it and not just know it. Knowing the gospel is true is great but that's not really the point, it's changing yourself through the gospel. I had always thought I was applying gospel principles but I'm realizing what that really means. And thus seeing what a HUGE job I have ahead of me. Wish I could just change in 5 weeks before I get out in the field.

Also, if you have time, you MUST go watch the talk that Elder Bednar gave to the MTC last Christmas, called the 'Character of Christ'. It changed me. It was one of those talks where after you listen to it you just sit there in your chair for a few minutes shell-shocked and rocked to the core. I was just electrified. Everyone should read it!!! If you find it, could you possibly send it to me? I can't go online to get it and I would love to read it again and talk with you about it. Also if you have time, look up Laurence Lyons’ choir arrangement of 'Consider the Lillies', and then the MTC men's choir singing 'Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd.' Oh! And I would love to hear more about the King James translation talk! So much good stuff!

Also, I'm trying to understand the concept of the Light of Christ. I don't really get it so if you could find any talks or lessons about it that would be great.

HOW WAS THE BAPTISM?! That's TOMORROW! Tell Agee I am so happy for her and I hope it is her best day ever. I love her. Did the elders get here okay and the food made and the people invited and the music ready and all of the other stuff that had to happen (for the second party this month?) :) I want to hear all about it. Also, can you ask the ex-elders to write to me if they get bored? I also want to hear all about your “adbentures” with them and what they are like post-elder-dom. Aw, baptism is like my favorite thing right now...

I loved hearing about the glorious family reunion. Ah, I can't believe Uncle Rich is a veil worker and both Blaine AND Debbie are teaching seminary! I just love my family a lot. 

Well, as of yesterday we decided to go cien por ciento en espanol (100% Spanish) as a district (ALL the time, not just in class). Which is making it really difficult to write in English right now. At first, I thought 'No! We need our English breaks to unwind and just talk like girls and let everything out." But psshhh, who needs breaks? Believe it or not, we can communicate everything we want to in Spanish, even things that are sensitive and personal. Or talk about boys (even though I'm trying to forget about it). It's a lot more exhausting, but I think that's the point. 

Hna. Garner and I had been teaching an 'investigator' named Marcos and taught him about every other day, and we've figured out a lot as a companionship. During our planning one night, we realized 'We need to love Marcos.' So we worked on that and it completely changed everything. El compromiso a ser bautizado! (The commitment to be baptized!) Then, Hna Rivera (our teacher) tells us we're getting a second new teacher and in walks... Marcos! His name is actually Hno. Ralphs, and he's a BYU student from Idaho. It's weird because Marcos the investigator was really quiet and pensive and Hno. Ralphs is really... suave I guess? He's probably not that far from my age, he got off his mission a year ago. I keep wanting to call him Marcos.

I can't believe how lucky I've been in my companionship and my district and now two incredible teachers. I didn't realize that your Spanish teachers are the ones that teach you everything including your teaching skills and the principles of the gospel. Being an MTC teacher is a huge deal and I want Grant to do it so bad! Hna. Rivera is just the most beautiful person you can imagine. She is lovely like... a river. J  She got off her mission a year ago and  is still incredibly in tune. She's got her life in order so she can really just be an instrument of the Spirit and it's like everything she teaches is exactly what I needed to hear. I love my interviews with her because I'll have these questions that are really bothering me and she'll just open up a scripture I've read a thousand times and explains it in a way that completely solves my problem. And every principle she teaches is based on what she thinks we need to learn.

And I love Hno. Ralphs because he pushes us. He tells us he simply expects us to be the best missionaries the world has ever seen and I think "Yeah, that's a pretty good goal." There's always a point when you'd rather not work hard and not keep trying to stuff in more information and not speak in Spanish anymore because your brain has turned to mush, but you can always keep going. There's not really a limit to how good of a missionary you can be.

We're moving to the west campus on Thursday and everyone who has been in both says it is the WAY better campus and that they would go there 10 times over if they could. There's a different spirit there, and everyone speaks Spanish, and the facilities are nicer (all the classrooms are just converted apartment bedrooms.) Also, the food is supposed to be less processed. I'm starting to realize why people complained about the food. Cafeteria food is cafeteria food. But it IS better than I ate in college so I am not complaining! I will get you the new address as soon as I know it, but they are good about forwarding stuff so it's not a huge deal.

Although I will have to start making the 15-20 minute trek to campus multiple times a week for devotionals and the spoken word and stuff. I DID find a pink peacoat in the give-away bin from sisters who leave stuff behind when they leave for the field. It's more of a long blazer, but it's WARM and it has pockets and that's all I care about really. So don't worry about sending sweaters. But if you are inclined to send something (and I'm sorry, this is tacky), I could really use...

- my missing hairbrush if you found it
- another pair or two of nylons
- my green spiral notebook I did my scripture study in (it has my Mission prep notes in it and there's a lot of things I learned I wish I could remember.)
- Erika gave me a pair of earrings in the bag she gave me that are for pierced ears, but Hna Carr didn't bring jewelry and would really like to use them. Plus we are going to the same mission   so we could match. :)
- I would really like to write some cards to my teachers and the people in my district. Could you send at least 10-ish cards that I could give away? Or any stickers you don't want.
- Were you ever able to find the missing picture book? I miss seeing you guys.
- And my Mérida address. I can't believe I didn't send it to myself but now I can't give it to anyone and no one in my district knows it!
- an extra t-shirt (it was silly of me to bring only one), maybe my gray one with the purple Girl's camp writing on it. I'm looking for extras in the give-away bin, but no luck.

Of course, I am getting along without any of that but it would make things easier. Thank you!

Oh, one other thing I wish I didn't have to ask... they billed my influenza shot to home, and they need you to call, Mon-Fri 9-4. It's $21.00. They didn't want us to use any of our travel or emergency money and I didn't have anything else. Sorry...

How was the dance class? Did you get any boys?

I love you and I am loving my life! It doesn't really feel like my life anymore, but it's a good thing. Hope to hear from you soon and I hope everything runs smooth at the baptism. I will forward pictures! Also, I'll have to tell you about my violin adbentures because I'm out of time.

Muchiiiiiiiiiissimo amor,

Hermana Ludlam

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Am So Happy

Hola Mama,

I am so happy. I was expecting to learn a lot in the MTC but I wasn't expecting the way it feels here. I've never felt the Spirit so richly before.

It's also weird how easy it is to love everybody. It's like my capacity to love has just BANG exploded for the other missionaries and my leaders and for the role-play investigators and even just the investigators I read about. I never realized how much I appreciate good people and there are so many of them. OH-- if you've got time, you should go online and look up the New York Times Project called '1 in 8 million' which is a whole collection of these 5-minute character portrait/ interviews of people from New York. We watched a few in our 'People and Your Purpose' workshop. It is so cool how people are NOT THE SAME and they all have different good things about them and different needs. As a class we found things about them that pleased Heavenly Father and then also the things that he would want to help them with. I was like 'Wow, I LOVE these people.'  And also, there's a Mormon message we watched called 'Lifting Burdens' and it just summed up all the reasons I want people to have the gospel, all the incredible things it does for people.

I've kind of realized that being prepared to go on a mission is not so much about knowing the gospel well or knowing good principles of teaching. It's a lot more being in the spiritual mindset to realize what you don't know and then learn it and do it. It's like every day I am learning three or four huge lessons that for some reason I missed the rest of my life... or thought I knew, but didn't really GET... it's pretty great. I'm glad Heavenly Father makes my problems so obvious to me. :)   Even though half the time I'm overwhelmed with all the stuff I need to work on, the other half I feel like the mission thing is actually doable because Christ has promised missionaries that they are CAPABLE of doing what He wants. Thank goodness. I do wish I knew more scriptures.

Okay, Ava will get mad at me for talking about church stuff. Life-y life is great too-- I have a little foursome groupie of girls that I hang out with all the time from my district (we room together) and I LOVE them. They're all so GOOD. My companion se llama Hermana G. I'm sure glad I don't have to teach lessons by myself because sometimes I think ideas are great and they're not. :) She is a lovely lovely girl and super cute, right out of high school (hopefully her camera will work and I can show you pictures). Le quiero.
Y the two other girls I love so much, too, Hermana C y Hermana W. For some reason, we are all so comfortable with each other and we're definitely friends-friends on top of being missionary friends. It's not that often that I can point to someone and say 'Wow! That person is an example to me!' but Hermana C is just a gorgeous person-- she can make people feel good without making it seem like she's trying, and she can be an example of being obedient without being affected and everyone just kind of jumps on the bandwagon, and when people are complaining she just subtly says something positive and the whole nature of the conversation changes. I want to be like her. :)

You girls will be jealous because I can drink chocolate milk every day. (Although I refrain jeje). And everyone told me the food was bad but it's really nice food, I don't know what they were talking about. Also, the MTC is a lot cozier than I thought. I was expecting it to be super sterile like a convent or something but it's a nice mix or a church building and an elementary school classroom. Here is some news... in two weeks, I'm moving to the MTC West because they are trying to move all foreign language missionaries out of the main campus so they can free up the buildings to renovate. It's one of those things they haven't officially announced to anyone, even to the Branch Presidencies, so we are all rather scarce on the details of what in the world is going on. I'll let you know when my address changes...

Man, I love my Branch Presidency. So much coolness in three people. The one I interviewed with last night was President M. and I've definitely never met a church leader like Him. I don't know how to describe him and still convey how much I like him, but he's ADHD and kind of a hipster and SO good at talking to people and making them feel like they are cool people too. You just feel like he likes you, so you act more likable. We talked for a LONG time in our interview. He lived in Morristown for a while and he has a a daughter who is a wonder-woman and a brilliant statistician and who he loves like none other and he really touched me by saying that talking to me reminded Him of talking to her. He wanted to meet Dad.

I haven't talked to the second counselor, but the President is something else. He had each of us go up to the front of the room and introduce ourselves and whether we were musical and about why we were serving a mission. And while people are up there, he just tells people all the stuff that is wrong about them. It's great. He's like 'Take your hands out of your pockets.' 'Unbutton your second button unless you want to look like a nerd.' 'Stop chewing gum.' 'Take that smiley face button off your suit.' Also, any time the elders stand up in his presence they have to button their coats as they stand up. And he'll just interrupt his other counselors all the time. I can't tell you much I love him. I always feel so much better when people in charge of you just tell you like it is. It's scarier when they are just nice all the time and you don't know what they're thinking.

Please tell Dad that my sneakers are holding up really good so THANK YOU! There are no mp3s in the bookstore, but I think someone around here has a speaker with a USB so I'll try that and let you know if it works. Thank you for giving me so many of your goodies!And tell Ava that I am using her pens like crazy. My notes are getting very intricate plus I just like writing letters and journals in colors.

Aw, M sent me a really nice card and a pillowslip with all those things that you're supposed to do on your mission and a little bookmark with good scripture references for all of the big gospel concepts. I was really touched. And THANKS mum for your letter. Getting mail is sure a big deal and it was so great to get something from you. Oh-- they don't put dates on the letters so you might want to type those into the body of your letter. (I forgot!)

Such Sweet Sorrow...
You know how I was asking you whether I should bring my little Novartis pulley keychain? Guess what everyone ends up buying here. You need your card to get into every building plus your key to get into your room and not everything has pockets... Also wishing I brought more sweaters because I think I will be wearing my black one every day until I leave. It's cold, man.  Of course none of those things really bother me, but in case anyone else wants to learn from my mistakes...

By the way, I think I decided we should do a blog. My presidency keeps telling us that one of the biggest reasons we're on a mission is to share our mission through writing home. So I'll leave to your discretion how much/whether/what you want to post. Maybe at the end of the letter you can paraphrase some stuff. Thanks mum. :)

Sorry this letter is so long, I won't do that all the time. I have a whole hour to write and nobody else wrote me. Plus, I just had a lot to tell you. Hna G and I tried to upload pictures, but it's not reading the camera. Lo siento, we'll keep trying.

Mucho Amor,