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

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Gospel Changes People Deeply!

Hola Familia Increíble, 

Marta's baptism was beautiful. She was so happy and so angelic in white. She has been radiating all week. The Holy Ghost is so real.  AND Pascual's baptism is scheduled for next week! AH! He is so happy too. YOU GUYS-- the gospel CHANGES people deeply!

Marta's Baptism Day
And in OTHER joyful news, I got a huge stack of DearElders!  I got two from Mom, two from Ava and one from Livi and the Agee letter. Sometimes, I think that “Oh, maybe my dreams of how it's going to be when I get to be with my family and how happy we're going to be and how much I'm going to love them are exaggerated because I've been away for so long.” But then I read your letters and remember how completely wonderful you are. I think “Naw, Satan, you ain't nuthin but a fibber.” I love you all.

And in OTHER joyful news, I was calling the materials secretary about some stuff we’re buying for our house and he happened to mention, “Oh, and you have a package here...” YES!!

Do you know if other people are DearEldering me?

Both Livi and Mum sent me some fabulous questions that I completely plan to answer but don't have time this week. 

Shoot! I had so much good stuff I wanted to tell you all. 
In front of Hna. Magali's store with some dulces.

Every morning we help Hna. Primavera (our neighbor with the restaurant) to deliver her food to Hna. Magali's tienda. Hna. Magali is in a wheelchair but still is a very active member of the ward. We decided to buy lunch there today since it's p-day and bought mainly dulces. :)

We took a picture with our ward mission leader, Hno. Alvarado. Oh boy I love him. I will write more about him later.

Oh! In a February package: can you send greeting cards and pens in multiple colors that are not gel pens? And a 3-ring 1-inch or 2-inch notebook?

Oh... sad news. 'The Beast' (suitcase) is on it’s last legs. It has a hole in the bottom and does not travel well, even though I duct-taped it up good.  Can you send some dinero to buy a replacement?  Thanks for asking.

Hno. Alvarado, our ward mission leader
Also, if there's anything you guys want me to bring home from Mexico tell me so I'll know what to bring you. It'll help if I have more time to look and can pick things up as I go along.

Hermana Ludlam

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marta to be Baptized on Wednesday!

Querida Familia Mia,

Our house is the door on the left.
We... are going to have a baptism! La Hermana Marta is 62 and has been seeing missionaries for a good eight months and has a lot of sass. She's been in and out of the hospital for the longest time and even though her husband was in perfect health, he died two months ago in the middle of a conversation while they were both sitting in their hamacas. Wow, she really is an example to me of letting affliction turn you to Heavenly Father and not away from him. She is really excited for her baptism. It will be a trick to do the ordinance without getting her dialysis tubes wet.  And eeee… it's my first! It's this Wednesday!

We also have another PROGRESSING INVESTIGATOR with a BAPTISMAL DATE, named Pascual. We couldn't teach him for the longest time because he is a very, very serious alcoholic and couldn't go without drinking long enough for us to teach him. But-- we stopped by his house about a week ago to leave him a pamphlet, and he told us he hasn't had a drink in a week! It was so incredible to actually talk to and get to know the real Pascual. He really is a good person and wants to get back to his family so bad. And he loves coming to church.

I have some good news. I had my interview with President and he asked me what I had heard from my family recently, and I told him I hadn't heard from them in a while because email time is short so they write DearElders, but they don't come very reliably. And wow, my mission President really listens to me! He gave me a few suggestions.  My interview with him was beautiful. He gave me a lots of specific advice about what I should do with specific investigators and what I should focus our teaching and time on. 

Mom, could you send me pictures that I can print and paste in my "Mi Familia" pamphlet? I need pictures of you, Bup, my 4 grandparents and my 8 grandparents? They don't need to be in color or anything fancy. I finished your letter today and bought stamps!

Bup, could you send me a story or two about my four great-grandparents on your side? I'm filling in my "Mi Familia" pamphlet with stories and things I remember about the past three generations. Sigh, I miss you... I haven't gotten mail in forever and so I'm hoping sometime in the next month I'll hear from you and how you're doing.

And to the family: What do you think about dedicating our house? I've been thinking about it a lot. I don't have to be there for the house to be dedicated, and it would help to bring more unity and love into the home and help us all to center our lives more on Christ. ¿Qué piensan ustedes? (What do you think?)

Oh, you guys, I love you.

(Referring to the picture) Our neighbor upstairs takes nice care of the plants that he keeps in pots and cans in the entryway. He's young and single and... drinks, so once again we have to buscar casa (find another place to live).

Usually the sky is not gray and you can see how colorful the street is. I'll have to try again to take a picture so you can get a better feel for how the city looks.

Being a missionary is really good.

Hermana Ludlam

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Love Gineres!

Hassiby, Lia, H' Harper & Vanessa at Centro Cathedral
Sister missionary attire?  Not so much.
Hola familia,

I'm actually doing it! We're being missionaries even when I'm in charge! Every time I think about that it surprises me again. We already have THREE new fechas fijas (fixed dates) from this week. Heavenly Father really can do miracles.

I LOVE Gineres. It's got
a very cool ancient-city feel to it, but it's not touristy like Centro. I thought the people here would be colder to the gospel because it's in the city and the people work more and have bigger houses and everything, but there are so many people we meet on the streets that want to hear what we have to say. And we meet many people on accident-- because I bump into their door when I trip or make a phone call under their window. Heavenly Father can make use of all types of instruments, even the clumsy and the socially indiscreet ones.

My ward is really fantastic. I LOVE them and I've only been here one Sunday. The ward mission leader (I'll have to get a picture with him-- he's very much his own person) is SO dedicated to the work and so is the bishop and the ward missionaries. I think people will actually do what we assign them to do.

I actually did something frivolous with my p-day this week-- I think it's the first time. Sister Harper and I went to pasear (similar to hang out) en Centro with the two daughters of the Relief Society president, Hassiby and Vanessa.

I ate on the street for the first time in a little restaurant called Gorda Gorditas-- gorditas are thick tortillas cut open and stuffed like pitas with whatever you want.

I hope you all are delighting and feasting on the scriptures. I've realized that any time in my life that I didn't LOVE the scriptures, when they weren't BURSTING with life and things I needed to know, was because I didn't understand them. You guys, the scriptures are the most wonderful things ever. If you want Heavenly Father to direct your life, he already gave you directions. Reading the scriptures is like getting directions for how to have a successful life. If you don't understand them (because you can't without the Spirit), all you have to do is ask. They will flood your life with understanding and light.

Heavenly Father has also used the past couple weeks to teach me about gratitude. I never realized how true it was when President Monson said 'gratitude was the parent of all virtues.' President Monson says a lot of true stuff that I never appreciated before. He knows what he's talking about.

It reminds me of those stairs that they make on steep trails with planks cut into the hillside: If working out salvation is like climbing a mountain, engendering and expressing gratitude is like making a staircase behind you as you climb up. Each time we realize what we've already been blessed with, it's like setting down another plank solidifying our progress. And we can turn around and actually enjoy the view and our progress the whole way up.

I like analogies.

Our Mapita.  We still haven't recovered the lost map!
I've realized that any time I am doubting or anytime I am not happy, it's because I've forgotten all the other times that Heavenly Father has filled me with peace and comfort, or all the ways he's enhanced my abilities in the past. Being grateful for what he's done (and usually what he's doing currently) is really all I need to be happy.

Merida culture tid-bits:

*  To say 'yes' while they're talking on the phone or thinking about something else, the people wiggle one finger (like we do when we make air quotes but with only one finger).

*  Popcorn is "palomitas" which means "little doves." Palomita is also the word for a checkmark.

Have a great week. We get mail every Monday night. Eeee...


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bonus Letter: A New Companion and No Map!

Meet my new companion!
Hermana Harper, la NORTEAMERICANA!

I definitely wasn't expecting a paisana. :) (a girl from my country)  Hermana Harper is lovely. She wants to work and has a beautiful spirit, and absorbs everything I tell her really quickly. She is 20, from Orem, Utah, and a nursing student.

Well. Yesterday I entered the chapel feeling great, but I realized when we got to our house that I had no idea what to do. I had no idea what to plan for since we are opening the area.  I hardly know how to be a missionary and somewhere in between the offices and the taxi we lost our huge map that we use to mark all the people we need to teach. I really didn't think I was up to this.

But. Prayer works. We called the bishop and the Relief Society President to meet with them tomorrow, and we used a little piece of cardboard to make a mini-map to plan the next day. We used our exercise time to find a grocery store, and today within three hours of leaving the house we already have 3 citas and 2 new and very prospective investigators. We feel like good missionaries. :) Heavenly Father really will take care of everything if we rely on Him. 

Next door to us is a member family that owns a restaurant, and Hna. Primavera (la mama) came over to give us empanadas for breakfast this morning and gave us directions to all of the stores we need. She also fed us lunch in her restaurant. Their whole family is just fantastic.

I have some pictures from my last night in Madero, with the Can Castro family, who invited us to come cut the ‘rosco’ with them (it's a special croissant/danish-like cake in a long skinny ring with little plastic dolls inside) and hot chocolate. It's for some holiday but I still haven't figured out which one. We gave a short lesson on La Familia to their non-member friends and family, and the members there gave some incredible testimonies.  
Los Can Castro:  Hna. Fheve, Isis, Yvanna, & Hno. Miguel   
  They are our member neighbors in Madero. One of the twins plays violin (we did a duet for the Christmas activity that hopefully Hno Miguel will be able to send to you, I gave him your email address) and the other plays piano, and the older sister plays flute. It's pretty unusual to have so much musical talent in one family because hardly ANYONE takes music lessons here. Their house is really nice for a house in Madero.

Hermana Kim is a ward missionary and has a daughter, Suri, that just left on her mission.  Her husband is always smiling--except in this picture!
Hermana Kim and husband 

I have heard that after you get home from your mission, they delete your email account. Can you look into this? Or maybe a way to salvage all my emails? I have some beautiful letters from members that I want to keep, plus all the mass missionary emails that I'd like to read later. Plus the emails from you guys.

Oh, another miracle-- my violin is fixed! One night, I had the impression that I should play the violin for H' Torales before we went to bed, so I got it out of my case-- and the pegs moved! It had been unusually cold the past few days and the next day it returned to being hot and heavy, so now my violin is stuck in tune. 

I love you all.
Mucho amor, 
Hna Ludlam 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Lia the Trainer Opens a Brand New Area!

Hola Familia,

Pues, two grande noticias (big news items)…

UNO, your package came!!! From the 2nd of December!!! It only took a month to get here which is amazing. Thank you for the goodies, mum (only the almonds made it in recognizable form but everyone loved them) and I LOVED the CDs. They worked! And your letter was wonderful, mum, thank you. I've gotten a few other letters from the beginning of December, too. It seems like sometimes the hand-written ones get here sooner than the dearelders. I don't think I've gotten any dearelders from December yet.

Can you please tell Sally thank you for the card and gift $?  I needed it to buy a new watch and it saved my sanity. :)

TWO, we had transfers today and... I am a trainer!! I am going to open the area of Gineres, which is the residential area attached to Centro, so it's a pretty city. I know it a little bit because we had been going there when we had references, but I still don't know where anything is. The blocks are HUGE city blocks so I will definitely get my workout. And we won't waste time traveling between Madero and Gineres!  Hna. Torales will stay in Madero and we're in the same stake so she'll be able to fill me in on all of our investigators.

I've been feeling everything in the past 24 hours... at first the news didn't even faze me, but then as we were going to the trainer capacitacion (training meeting) I was suddenly filled with dread.  But I realized that Heavenly Father called me to do it because he will completely enable me to do it. There is no reason that it can't be an incredible experience. I have no idea what it's going to be like or what in the world I am going to do, but I feel very peaceful right now that Heavenly Father will help me do whatever He wants me to do. 

You guys will get to meet my “hija” (the “daughter” she will be training) next week. :)

To the left is my birthday present to Hna. Torales, because one time I played hymn this at a baptism and it happened to be the song she had been looking for since she heard it by the MoTab. There's a small quote from it in Spanish in our missionary manual, but the rest of the song is only in English so I translated it. I also wrote out the English with the pronunciation guide we've been using. 

 This is the pronunciation guide we've been using-- with the signs from my dictionary but with words she already knows how to say. We didn't get to finish it before transfers. :(

Ah, I wish I had time to write everything I planned to write!

Well, one thing is my realization of the reality of Satan and the way he has permeated my thinking my whole life in ways that are so very subtle-- and so very much an impediment to my happiness. He is so sneaky. Being a missionary is a CONSTANT battle to recognize that if I am lacking faith or feeling despair, it's him, and I just need to pray and pray and pray that Christ will help me to 'hedge up the way of my enemy' and ‘not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me' (can't remember how it's phrased in Nephi's psalm but it's something like that). Neph's psalm explains how I feel so perfectly I just want to read it out loud. 

Thank you to mum and Grant for writing out the instructions to the DearElder. Lots of people have been asking for the instructions in Spanish.

Mom, I wish I had time to write and tell you how perfect your quote was. Thank you.

Hermana Ludlam