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

Monday, August 25, 2014

De-Stressing Myself

Hola Family,
We spent the first half of the week doing day trainings on Stress Management, and it went really fantastically well. I was surprised at how dramatically the missionaries responded to it-- it really was an answer to everybody's prayers. My birthday was muy feliz. :) (very happy)
Hermanas Torales, De Leon, Birthday Girl, and Castro
My birthday dinner after the "Adapting to Missionary Life" capacitacion (training) in Campeche. What missionary gets to go to the beach on their birthday, do stress management exercises, hang out with President and the Assistants all day, and then go out to dinner? The cheesecake was free-- they even sang to me. The red guayabera (little jacket) I’m wearing was a gift from Hermano Jesus (convert from Garcia Gineres) who FOUND me in Terranova to give it to me.

I definitely needed somebody to tell me I was stressed. I didn’t realize I was until I went to the “Adaping to Missionary Life” manual and started using some of the suggestions. I also didn’t realize how much stress can affect your ability to feel the spirit until I started de-stressing myself and felt completely different. The Spirit is the best.

I’m trying to get rid of the mindset that everything depends on me because I think that is the biggest source of my stress. It’s true that we need to be agents that act and not be acted upon, but it’s also pride when I think that I have to do everything because the situation depends on me. It sure feels a lot better to think that it all depends on Heavenly Father. The eternal perspective takes away a lot of stress. :) I have the responsibility to do all that I can for him in every situation I’m in, but I don’t need to think that a fault in my personal performance is going to impede how things turn out in Heavenly Father’s plan.

An awesome quote by LeGrande Richards: “It’s the Lord’s Church, so I let Him worry about it.” Everybody should use that manual. It should be called “Adapting to Life.”

With the sisters I’m visiting, we focus a lot on teaching toward a very specific objective, which is the missionary purpose-- building faith to the point of repentance and baptism. It’s very easy to waste a LOT of time in teaching. There are lots of lovely things to say about the gospel and you can have lessons full of lovely things and make people feel good, but there are very SPECIFIC things you need to teach people to convert them. What you need to say is different for every person.

And so in every lesson and with every individual, it takes a bit of analysis:
What does this person not understand that is impeding them to be able to come unto Christ?'

  •   It could be something fundamental, like not knowing God exists.
  •   It could be that they don’t understand that Christ could help them with the specific burden they are carrying.
  •  It could be that they don’t understand why baptism is necessary or why it is that our baptism is different.
  •   It could be that they don’t know they are sinning, or that it’s possible to be clean from sin.
  •   They might not understand that faith is a decision, or that they can trust the promises God makes if they keep the commandments.

There are a bazillion different reasons people don’t come unto Christ, and it usually boils down to something they don't understand. Good thing we are teachers! We just have to make sure we are teaching to that specific thing that is impeding them.
I am so happy because I feel real love for the sisters I am working with. I always am nervous going into the intercambio (missionary exchange), but it always turns out that we become really good friends.
I love you all.
Hna. Ludlam

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cows and Covenants

Hey Fambly,

Guess what! I am going to be twenty!   20!

Guess what else. I weighed myself in the doctor's office with Hermana Pitcher and I gained fifteen- twenty pounds. 

Thoughts on covenants and the Atonement: As a mission we’re studying the “Bear Up Your Burdens with Ease” by Elder Bednar, May 2014. You can watch or read it here. Lots of studying and pondering on that talk, I’ve had to read it a couple times to start to get it. Elder Bednar went pretty complex with his analogy. 

A few thoughts:

- Many times I think of the “load” as something that has to be some natural catastrophic event that is horrible. But it is a much broader definition than that. I think a “load” (or a good load) is “any aspect of our lives that pushes us to rely on the Atonement of Christ.” That could be an awful disaster, but it could also be a new job that we want to do well in, a calling that stretches, a desire to be a good parent, a desire to be more charitable, a desire for more direction, a big decision to make, wanting to help someone else or have better discernment.

- We need to evaluate the THINGS in our life-- Ask myself, “Is this thing something that is pushing me to use the atonement? Could I be using the Atonement in this thing to make it go better?” If the answer to those questions is No, drop it. It’s a waste of space in your life.

I was studying the analogy and some ideas came in the form of pictures about cows

​It’s kind of hard to see, sorry. Repaso (a review):

1. A little cow pulling a cart full of bubbles. He says, “This is easy, I can do this by myself.” The bubbles are meaningless loads.

2. The little cow gets stuck in the snow and doesn’t have the traction to get out. The snow is inevitable. The cow says “Stuck.”

3. The little cow replaces the bubbles with weighty loads-- real loads-- to get traction. He says “But, I'm still stuck,” because now the cart is heavy.

4. A big cow comes along and yokes himself to the little cow and his load. The little cow doesn’t really like the idea of a yoke, but he needs help so he does it.

5. The big cow pulls with the little cow and they get unstuck. The little cow starts to trust the big cow and since the big cow knows how to get home (where all the other happy cows are), the little cow allows himself to be led. They have to go through a couple other snowy patches and sometimes the big cow lets the little cow pull a little more so he can get stronger, put he’s always there and he’s always pulling.

The caption says: “If we never had to pull heavy loads, we would never have needed Him. But if we never needed Him, we would have never asked for his help and would have known how to get home.” And below that it says, “All we have to do is take the yoke, push a little, and WALK-- Follow Him.”

I think the snow (maybe) is our natural man-- our natural nature that makes it impossible for us to be with/like Heavenly Father. We can’t get over the natural man without Christ.
I think the yoke is covenants. We put some restrictions on ourselves SO THAT we can have somebody else pull and so that we can be led by someone who knows what they’re doing. When taking the yoke, we have to decide what we want more: What we want right now (our freedom) or the happiness of the end destination. We have to trust Heavenly Father’s word that the end destination really is better.

A veces (sometimes), Heavenly Father drops rocks on our carts to pop the bubbles and give us a really big incentive to ask Christ to help us. Some people still don’t. But what we can do is “compel ourselves to be humble”--CHOOSE to take on big challenges (usually service) that require us to use His help-- put our own rocks in our own cart. It’s kind of like what Elder Holland said about living in the “Realm of Miracles”-- we need to live in such a way that we could not do it alone. 

Sisters De Leon, Lia, Torales, and Castro
For the Stress Management capacitacion (training session) we did a visual at the end where Elder Samano (assistant to the mission president) read the Doctrine & Covenants 84 verse about Christ on our right and our left and before our face with angels round about. 

 "... I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." — Doctrine and Covenants 84:88

Before reading it, the assistants selected a sister from the congregation, told everyone to close their eyes, led the sister onto the stage and turned off the lights, and after reading the scripture we opened our eyes and the sister was on the stage in the middle of the figures of Christ and angels, a graphic description of the verse. It was very, very moving.
Life as a capacitadora (trainer) is going swimmingly. I’ve learned that you are NOT happy unless you are working. Being in the field and teaching all day, every day is where a missionary ought to be. A couple times we had off days where we planned for half a day or wasted a lot of time planning and couldn’t do intercambios (exchanges with other missionaries) until the next day-- and it was really bad. But as soon as I was working with the hermanas, I was super happy. And all of my intercambios are going well. 

Hermana Ludlam

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I feel the Spirit pumping through me...and miracles happen

Querida Fameeleea,

Sorry for my last letter that was a little negative.

THANK YOU to everyone who wrote to me about obedience! Aw... I feel like I have a support group. :) That helps a lot.

Here are my thoughts from this week on obedience. I feel like my problem is not “Will I be obedient or not?” but “If I’m going to be obedient, what should I do?” There’s a missionary schedule that to be ‘obedient’ you have to follow to the second. And it’s a really good idea because if you even mess with the timing a little bit, something essential gets cut and there just isn’t time to make it up and you feel the burn. BUT what about the higher law of “Love thy God with all they heart and love thy neighbor?” If I am presented with an opportunity to show charity to someone that would require breaking the schedule, should I do it? In my heart I think ‘probably’, but then when I feel the sting of the consequences of breaking the schedule I think “maybe I wasn’t supposed to do that. I should have been more exactly obedient.” BUT maybe I’m supposed to suffer the penalty of breaking a rule as part of my sacrifice for another person’s well-being.

Things like this are running through my mind all day. It was driving me kind of crazy and I was getting kind of fed up with trying to work everything out in my mind.  So I finally just said to Heavenly Father “You KNOW I’m trying to be obedient, I’m trying to to do what you want. I’m willing to sacrifice to do that if you will just make it CLEAR to me what it is that you want.” I felt like that was a pretty fair trade.

And then I thought, “Wait a sec. That’s my baptismal covenant. Ohhhh....”  So. I was thinking that Heavenly Father gave the Law of Moses to the Israelites to tell them EXACTLY what was the right thing to do in every instance. No exceptions. Exceptions meant death.  But, when Christ came something marvelous happened called the New and Everlasting COVENANT. Now there is no longer a pre-dictated course of action for every choice. Instead, Heavenly Father says “You promise to follow me and do my will, and I’ll give you a guide called the Holy Ghost to help you know what that my will is in every instance.” That puts a lot more pressure on us, doesn’t it?

Really, we will only be able to know what the will of the Lord is to the degree that we desire to do it. And Heavenly Father knew we were going to mess up and have a really hard time interpreting the Holy Ghost and it was going to take a lot of mess-ups for us to learn how. It was also going to take a lot of work for us to get to the point where we wanted what Heavenly Father wanted. So he gave us a way to erase our mess-ups called the Atonement. Which also happens to be able to change our hearts to want what Heavenly Father wants, or at least to give us the strength to do it.

My other problem was that after my last cambio (transfer), I was feeling like my spiritual compass was really out of whack, that I couldn’t tell what the Spirit was telling me to do. I think part of that was a natural consequence for not working (even though I couldn’t help it because of sickness) and also Satan messing things up. If he can make us think we can’t understand the Spirit, we won’t be able to. I need to have faith that Heavenly Father loves me enough to give me the direction I need. President also gave me a blessing to be able to have more clear discernment of spiritual promptings. I walked out of his office a very happy missionary, like I had been dragging around this thing behind me and somebody just cut it.

PUES, I didn’t explain very well what my calling is-- instead of having my own area, I travel from area to area every one or two days to work with the Hermanas there and look at what they can do to improve and set goals with them. And I check up with them a lot. And if they have problems, they call me. I get my own phone. :) You would be surprised how many problems there are.

We made a small change because the new companion of Hermana De Leon went home this morning, so I suggested to Presidente that I be her companion this transfer and just do exchanges with the Hermanas like before (one of them goes with Hna De Leon while I go with the other in their area.) So Hna De Leon también (also) got made a Training Leader (President said “Yes, that sounds good”) and I get to see Hermana De Leon every day and Hermana De Leon gets to work in her area still and I get to hang out in Mulsay every once in a while. Hermana De Leon gets a break from problem companions because she changes her companion every day! It’s a pretty good play-out.

I was really scared the Hermanas weren’t going to trust me or that I wasn’t going to be able to make good comments or that they wouldn’t listen, but it is SO great because when we sit down to talk I just feel the Spirit pumping through me and miracles happen and we communicate and we set real-deal S.M.A.R.T. goals with a purpose.  When I talk to them about it later, they are actually doing it and CHANGES are happening. To be very honest, our mission is kind of sick, but the four of us Leader Capacitadoras are having all of these really great ideas of what big changes need to be made, and I think we’re really going to do something. I feel like a missionary again! I haven’t felt this good in like a month and a half.

Much loooooove,
Hna Ludlam

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wanted: Counsel/ Advice on Obedience!

Hola Familia,

I love you a lot. 

Good thing Heavenly Father has trust-worthy judgement!

I don’t really know what’s going to happen for the rest of my mission, because it’s like I don't really have investigators anymore.  Instead, all of the missionaries are my investigators. During my last transfer, I was thinking I was going to have to get good at learning to push myself to use numbers to meet goals (which I wasn’t very good at) and at the same time try to focus on the people and not the numbers. And then Heavenly Father takes away the numbers. And I felt like I was just learning how to cope and compromise with companions and felt like I still had a lot of work to do and…Whoop!  Heavenly Father takes away the companions. I sure don’t know what He’s thinking, but I do trust He knows better than me.

One thing I know I’m going to have to figure out is obedience.  I feel a sense of déja vu because it’s like my obedience-battle from my very first transfer. Does anybody know what it means to be obedient?? I feel like my struggle in decision-making isn’t usually “Will I do the right thing?” but instead, “What in the world is the right thing?” There is so much push and push and push to be exactly obedient, and not think about making exceptions because that would be trusting in your own judgment.  But the reason I want to make exceptions isn’t to do bad things, it’s to do better things. Rules are just really inconvenient.

I wonder if Paul was trying to explain to the Jews “If the Gentiles aren't already living the Law of Moses, don’t make them live it! It’s not a big deal! Why would you subject them to something heavy and burdensome if they don't need it?” Sometimes I feel that way with the mission rules, too, that they are just burdensome. He said “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” The problem is I can’t make exceptions because I’m now a very public example. If I do something, it means everyone else can do it too. 

Maybe I just need to humble myself and do everything I’m told to do without question. Or maybe I’m actually right, and it’s better to live a higher law-- that EXACT obedience isn’t letter-of-the-law obedience, but doing exactly what Heavenly Father wants (which sometimes isn’t exactly within what is written in the manual). But who gets to make that call, of being able to discern what He wants?

If people could pray or send ideas to help me figure it out, that would be great. It’s something that bugs me a lot.

Oh, Mum, I think about your hip a lot. I hope you’re getting better. Bup, I think about you a lot because I don’t know how you're doing. But I love you a lot.

I love you all a lot.

Hermana Ludlam

No Letter, but Pictures!

Hermanas Castro, Torales and Cordero-Grosero (lewd lamb)

​I'm sister training leader with Hermana Torales y Hermana Castro. I don't have any time to write this week but I will write back to all of the lovely people who wrote me next week!

Hermana Ludlam

Carlos is baptized!  It was really wonderfully sumamente (extremely) beautiful!  
His smile after was so real.

La Familia Mendez-- Isaac, Ruben, yo, Angela,Joanna, Iris (esposa de Ruben), Hna Pitcher, Ruben Jr.
 Carlos' Rap (we will translate this later ;-)