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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Speaking of happy...

Hola Familia!
Hermanas en pajamas

Herman Rivera and our district

Over the river and through the woods, to MTC West we go... 
Muchas sorpresas para ustedes...

UNO: I performed in devotional and it went SO well and... Brooke illicitly recorded the whole thing on her camera! She said she'll send it to Tiffany to send to you. I'm so glad that memory was preserved AND that you'll get to see it!

DOS: I hope you guys don't have anything big planned for family night BECAUSE... I get to call from the airport Monday night!! For as long as I want! (which is really as long as I have during a layover in Houston). I will call around what I THINK is 7 pm your time (they didn't put time zones on my flight schedule), so just hang out around the phone an hour or so before and after that. AND-- I have 500 minutes on my calling card, but each time I make a call it uses up 130 minutes, including if no one picks up the phone. So please be there! And please all compose brief autobiographies of your life for the past 6 weeks because I'll probably have time to talk to you each individually. I am SO excited to talk to you all.

Yesterday was In-Field Orientation. Man, I am really not sure how I am feeling right now. The orientation really said to me: Wow, missionary work is REAL. This work changes EVERYTHING. But at the same time, I realized: The fact that I am a missionary is real-- I am ACTUALLY going to be in the field in 2 days and even though I have all of these dreams of what a hard-working and unconquerably faithful and love-driven and converted and miracle-working and consecrated missionary I want to be, I worry that I will have all these expectations and then the field will be nothing like I think it will be and it's scary. What if I fizzle? There are so many missionaries that fizzle. I know that what God wants is definitely what I want right now, but that's while I'm here in a cozy, temperature-regulated, spiritually-saturated, safe, friendly MTC. In the field it's going to be hard and I guess I just don't know how I will respond. I've never really had to do hard before. 

Luckily, I have also been thinking all the time about faith for the past week and how much of a decision it is. So I'm deciding right now that even when it gets hard and I'm not really sure that I actually want what God wants, I'll choose to want what God wants. And then do it. I'm fasting today (both of our companionships are) that I'll be able to start out my mission with that kind of faith and then keep it. I really don't want to make or accept any greenie excuses for myself at the beginning, like "It's okay because I'm new..." (Hno Ralphs has been warning us about how the other missionaries tend to put us into the 'greenie mould' and excuse us from not being the best missionaries ever that have the power to change our entire mission). Mom, can you find a Jeffrey R. Holland quote for me and post it on the blog? It starts with "The spirit of this work is urgency" and then ends with something about "Having to live in such a way that we can't do it alone anymore." it sums up very much the kind of faith I want to have.

Also this week, I've been thinking a lot about positivity. More than one person has told me that they don't see me get excited very much, and I keep thinking: "What?! I feel excited and happy ALL the TIME! I love everything!" I'm starting to think maybe I have a facial disconnect with my emotions or something, that I just don't convey very visually or audibly how I'm feeling. It reminded me of when you used to ask me if I was upset about something, Mom, and I would have no idea what you were talking about. So I've started trying to consciously put a more positive look on my face all the time-- not like a cheesy smile or anything, just a few degrees on the corners of my mouth to brighten my face and smile a little when I'm talking to people.  The gospel is serious business, but it isn't somber and sometimes I think I'm a little too somber. I want the people I teach to understand the depth of the joy that the gospel brings to my life. I want people who aren't even talking to me but just see me to think 'Why is she so happy? I want whatever she has in her life that makes everything so great.'  Plus, I think people just like to be around you more when you have a happy spirit (so they'll think you're normal and likable enough to refer their friends to you). 

Did you know babies instinctively smile? It's not just a learned trait from watching other's reactions because even babies born blind grow up smiling when they're happy.

Speaking of happy, I realized what a big deal it is to keep letters home positive. Hermano Ralphs showed us a letter he got from one of his friends on a mission that was just awful and really actually depressed me. Of course a mission will be hard but if it's for the Lord and for the purpose of HELPING people then it's always a positive thing. Plus, we've been told several times how we're supposed to use letters to do missionary work at home, too, and give 'the mission experience' to the people we left behind. So if my letters ever get negative, call me on it. And THANK you to all the wonderful people who write me such uplifting letters! It makes a world of difference.

I've been looking at our Christmas card and the pictures you sent and thinking 'all of my sisters are so BEAUTIFUL. I think if saw any of them right now I'd probably start crying.' My parents are beautiful too. :) And Grant. You're a stud. Can Grant get skyped in? Or maybe a conference call? Also, can Mom or Dad email back as soon as you read this so I know if I need to call after a specific time and so I know you know?

Thanks for sending the album and the picture of Agee, Mum. Agee you be rockin dat doorag. And thank you for writing a beautiful letter to me. Really, a picture in an email makes my whole week. I didn't realize I'd want them so much.

I heard Merida hit 112 degrees in the past week.

Oh, Ava-- you will be so proud of me. I have finally joined the legion of sophisticatedly-tied scarf-wearers. Sister Gurney was the nicest person ever and sent me a beautiful red scarf as an early Christmas gift (please tell her how much I liked it) and so I asked my pinterest-conscious roommates to show me some ways to tie it. And now I feel like I've moved up a social class. I think I'll wear it as a belt in Mexico. It also has a little tag on it that says 'Do everything in love. Also, Ava, your last DearElder got cut off a few paragraphs in.  :(

Thanks for sending the Burrito music mom-- Grant was awesome to send me the lyrics to all the verses and then I was thinking 'Oh, I wish I knew exactly how the song went' and then two days later Mom sends me the music! Now my companions and I sing it whenever we're walking places ('Si me ven, si me ven, yo camino a la cena').  And thanks to my svesters for the lovely notes and Squid-relics. Much appreciated. The only thing better than getting DearElders from you all is getting real letters--with your real handwriting.

Oh, I wish I could see the tulips! It is like a little bit of Bellevue we brought with us... where are you planting them? Just by the street or around the house? Yay I'll be coming home in tulip season!

This letter was a little lengthy, sorry-- I have twice the writing time because it's our last p-day before we leave and I'm just a little excited leaving for my real actual mission in TWO DAYS! My next letter will be as a real missionary in Mexico...

The field is white ALREADY, y'all! It's harvest time!
Hermana Ludlam

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