Monday, August 21, 2017

A Sister Missionary Masterpiece

 Change of plans: I am actually still in Cachoeira Paulista. Tomorrow after lunch I will leave to Sao Jose dos Campos to meet President there to be interviewed, then I will stay the night with the sisters of JARDIM SATELITE!  I hope I can say goodbye to Ana Maria before I go ♥  Then Wednesday morning I get on another bus to the capital and then I get on a PLANE and then I FLY OUT OF BRAZIL. WOAH! Yeah, "a ficha nao caiu ainda," which literally means the file hasn't fallen yet, or it hasn't hit me yet... I am actually finishing my mission! I think the best way to end this blog is to share all of the things the Lord has allowed me to learn during my year and a half of service.

What I Have Learned on My Mission:
1. "It's not about you, it for the people who are blessed by what you're doing!"

2. That families are eternal, and that is the greatest gift God has given us. I have especially been able to see my mother through Heavenly Father's eyes as the angel she is. My only goal now is to one day become like her. 
Surprise VIVA BRASIL lunch for me!
 3. I have been able to see the wisdom of my father and the intense love he has for me, for a life filled with sacrifice in service of his family and others. He totally understands that "it's not about him."

4. How much I love and cherish my brother and sisters.

5. I love the Book of Mormon with my whole soul. It is truly a sacred testament that Jesus is the Christ, and I can testify along with Joseph Smith that we can grow closer to God through the Book of Mormon than any other book. The Book of Mormon was not revealed to man in our day to replace the Bible, but to stand beside it as a powerful testimony that He lives and that He is the Savior of the world. From the MTC, my eyes were opened and I could read the stories therein and FEAST on the scriptures. I have seen this precious book change lives. I have seen it free people of addictions, depression, confusion and doubt, and bring them know to Christ. If anyone has not read the Book of Mormon and asked God if it is true, I invite all to do so, that they might be changed/ blessed.

6. I learned about PRIDE. That word has been a bolded theme for my entire mission. It was chilling to have my eyes opened to see how much the natural man controlled me, and for my entire mission I have fought to overcome it and uproot it from my heart. It is not an easy thing, and I know I will continue to do this for the rest of my life. Yet I delight in it! I know that that is why I am here! To overcome pride and the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Jesus Christ! Mosiah 3:19.

7. How to live with another person! This one has a lot to do with the previous point. As a missionary, you literally have to be within sight and sound of your companion 24/7, only exceptions are when they are in the bathroom or we are on divisions with another companionship. As you can see, this provides many opportunities to grow! To be honest, I thought I was the easiest person to live with, but I realized this is not true. :) I learned that "charity never faileth" is my motto. Making a point is never more important than a person to be loved. Although this was probably one of the hardest aspects of my mission, I know it is one of the areas in which I have most grown.

8. I no longer fear man. Before my mission, I was sheepish when it came to saying what needs to be said. I now have become a "defender of the absent," like Sister Jaggi. It also seems that I do not have a comfort zone. As a missionary, I am fearless. I hope "Ava" will be able to take this lesson to college with her. :)

9. The Miracle of Sacrifice. I truly believe if you want to be happy, you need to sacrifice. You need to work. I remember my mom sent me Sam Jaspers' last email and said something to the effect of "I came on a mission to pay back a little part of the debt I have with my Savior. However, in so doing I am now in even greater debt due to the innumerable blessings I have received through my service." That is the miracle of sacrifice, that when we give up our time, talents, comforts, energy, the Lord opens the windows of heavens and we are even more blessed. Many people have said to me during my mission "promise me that you will never go inactive after your mission. You think you never will, but even the strongest people fall away." What I have learned is that the people who fall away are those who think "I just gave a year and a half of my life to the Lord, now I can rest. Now it is me time." They stop doing the small habits they gained on the mission, such as daily scripture study, frequent fasting and paying of fast offerings, kneeling to pray every morning and night, staying for all three hours of church. I know if I want the Spirit and the light I have gained on my mission to stay with me, I will have to keep doing the same things! I will have to keep sacrificing! The Lord will continue to give me promptings, I am sure of it. I know He expects to continue using me as an instrument for much good.

10. How the Spirit speaks to me. I have become really good at recognizing promptings and courageously acting. You wanna know a secret? Every time you think "I should do that" and it is good, it is the Spirit truly speaking to you, just like Elder Bednar says!

11. How dangerous technology is. I have not had a phone or tablet or computer for a year and a half, and I really have had my eyes open to how addicted EVERYONE is to their screens. Its frightening, truthfully. Teenagers, moms, dads, toddlers, stake presidents, EVERYONE is just as susceptible to becoming addicted. It is the first place people go when they feel bored, sad, uncomfortable, lonely, or upset. The scariest part is looking back on my pre-mission life and seeing I was just as addicted as everyone else! President gave us some wonderful counsel that I think everyone should follow. He said "Technology is a wonderful resource, but it must be used within set limits. Enter, accomplish your purpose, and then exit out." It is really just that simple. I know that media with crude humor, violence, or sexual content drives away the Spirit faster than anything. What is accepted today as normal (even in books, on the radio, or news channels) is a way Satan can control us while we are within the walls of our own homes.

12. How to love my body. It isn't really a secret than I have gained a few pounds on the mission (tee hee) but if anything I have grown to love the way I look more than anything else! I cared TOO MUCH about what I ate and how much I was working out, and how looked before. Now, I will simply take care of my body by eating healthy foods and work out everyday like I love to, and let the rest take care of myself. As long as I am living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of myself, what appears in the mirror is perfect. During the mission it has been hard to take as good of care of myself as I want to because we are at the mercy of what the irmas feed us everyday (white rice, fried meat, and dessert everyday) and have very limited time to exercise, but now I can take complete responsibility of my alimentation and exercise. :) Woohoo! That is something I am looking forward to.

Sorry, this is really long and I will now end, but I would just like to close with the greatest gift/lesson I have been given on my mission: Conversion to the Lord. I know He lives and loves me. I know He was with me and my companions every single day of my mission as we did what He would do were he still present on earth in the flesh: preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring more souls unto Him. He is my best friend. Oh, how grateful I am for His infinite love for us. I know Joseph Smith restored the Christ's church and the fullness of His gospel. I know Thomas Monson is His mouthpiece and representative today. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth today. I will continue to sing it from the rooftops!
I love you all and I love my Savior!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Cusp of Something Wonderful!

On Top of the World!
I can't believe this is the 2nd to last letter I will write as a Sister Missionary. Ever since I heard I would come to this area, I have been wondering why the Lord decided I should finish my last 6 months here. Now that we are almost at the end, I see I was just a small part in a BIG PLAN.
Offering Service Cards
Cachoeira Paulista has been a branch for 25 years. The church bought a plot of land and has just been waiting for the branch to meet the requirements so that they can become a ward. President, Sister Malan, and I feel like we are on the cusp of something wonderful. So here is why I think I came to Cachoeira:

1. To find Fernanda and her family! I have no doubt that their family will play an important part in this growth that will begin shortly. I love them so much and it has been a tender mercy to meet them and bring the gospel to them. Fernanda still wants her "answer," but we know she already knows this is all true, she just doesn't realize she does yet. Unfortunately, I don't think I will be here for the baptism because the rest of her family hasn't gone to church enough times to be baptized, and we really feel like they need to do this as a family. They are all as elect and excited as she is!

Feste Agostina
2. To meet Edna and her girls! She is marked for September 2nd. She could be baptized this Sunday, but she will just have gotten her stitches from the surgery out and hasn't been allowed to wet the wound this entire time.

3. To meet this big Branch Family. I am starting to feel like Cachoeira is home, just in time for me to actually go home, hahaha! Oh well!

4. Sister Malan and I were talking about why I came, and she says it was because we needed to be companions. I feel like she is the one to begin this change is Cachoeira, to wake it up! She is a very powerful, earnest missionary. I love her. She says I was able to "pass my wisdom on to her" and now she feels ready to be the leader here when she receives her next companion.

My favorite little Enzo
5. I also came to Cachoiera because I had forgotten how hard missionary work can be. Poá was just so easy, Vila Virginia too. The problem in Poá was not having enough time each week to meet with everyone, and here it is a struggle to just fill a day. I was able to remember what it is like to work your hardest and try everything and still have little success, but see the miracles from the Lord in your own life because of your sacrifices. I am so grateful I was able to end my mission working so hard, fighting until the last moment!

I already know this week is going to fly by because we have already planned all of it. I am just going to keep living it up and sharing my testimony with anyone that will listen! I will try to strengthen Fernanda as much as I can before I leave as well (we are going to pass p-day with her today :D) Lots of emotions. Hasn't sunk in at all yet. I am happy and feel like I'll just stay here in Cachoeira forever :)

Have a wonderful week! Sister L

(Right) Whenever we clap, we hear little Enzo's tiny feet running and he comes and gives our legs monster hugs.This is Family Night with Fernanda, Luis Enrique, Fernando, Miguel, and little Enzo. Irma Mari came with her boys and gave the most perfect message about The Family: A Proclamation to the World. A perfect night.
Sums up Cachoeira Paulista

The Catholic Complex

Monday, August 7, 2017

Good and Short!

Another English with Cruzeiro
This week was also wonderful! Fernanda came to church, accepted a date for my LAST DAY--woohoo!!

Another lady named Edna also came to church. She has been an investigator for years because she could not quit smoking. HOWEVER, she just did a surgery and was unable to drink coffee or smoke for 20 days, so she used it as a super boost and hasn't drank or smoked since! She is glowing, so happy to finally be FREE of this addiction.

I love you all!  Have a wonderful week!

Divisions with Sister Saaredra
Photo to the left:  Poor missionary food (just kidding).  We are not hungry.  Sister Malan and I like to experiment with new foods.  Usually they turn out super good.  This one didn't.

Sunday Lunch with the whole family (the whole branch)!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Our Joy is Profound

Happy Irmas
This week was SO WONDERFUL!! After p-day last week, everything we had marked fell through (again) and we went home to do weekly planning. We were both rather discouraged and not very excited for the week to come, and I think that fear humbled us. We knelt down and sincerely asked the Lord for guidance. We then began the most spiritual planning session I have had on my whole mission.

As we went through all the forms from the Area Book, organizing how we would get through them all that week, the Spirit said to PUT THE PILE AWAY. We both felt very strongly that was not how the Lord wanted us to use our time this week. We then began to step by step, make a totally different plan of how we would work with the members and which previous investigators we would keep trying to find. Can I just say how different this week was than the week before? We found 11 NEW INVESTIGATORS. We saw miracles within this family, which is basically the branch.

Our days passed painlessly, we felt joy, we found people who wanted to live the gospel. On Friday, we were doing contacts and found a lady named Fernanda. She said "Is there something different about your church?" You can imagine our excitement when she asked, and we said, "Why yes, there is!" We started talking about how our families can be eternal, and it really hit her. I have always been shocked that on my mission, people don't seem to care that much when we talk about the eternal and divine nature of the family, but Fernanda did!

She invited us in, and we taught the Plan of Salvation. We taught her about the spirit world and how the spirits who didn't want to or have an opportunity to accept the gospel will receive that opportunity. She was beyond thrilled, and said that her church teaches that her father can't go to heaven because he was never baptized. But, she had always believed a loving God would not do that. The entire lesson, I felt like she was some MTC teacher in disguise because the things she would say were just too good to be true. She is so elect! We marked to teach her the Restoration the next day. She loved it just as much.

She said she stayed up until the early morning thinking about the things we said. She called her Mom and told her all about what we had taught her, and now her Mom wants to meet with us, too!! WE ARE SO HAPPY!! She is incredible! She has 3 little boys who also ask incredible questions. The 9-year old asked, "What happens when a child goes to the spirit world but didn't do the 5 things?" (which are faith, repentance, baptism, gift of Holy Ghost, and endure to the end). His little 3-year old brother asked, "If God loves us, why does He let people be bad?" They all raise their hands to ask questions through the whole lesson.

Anyways, every single night this week has an appointment, we are SOOOO HAPPY!!! Fun fact, we actually live closer to Rio de Janeiro than the city of Sao Paulo.

I am SO grateful Sister Malan is my companion. Things are still kind of hard in the area, but it is a tender mercy from the Lord to finish my mission here. If I had finished my mission in Poá, I would have continued to have crazy success and have so many people that love me and that I love and have every single day packed with appointments, so easy and enjoyable. Here, we sweat for our bread, we suffer; therefore, our joy is even more profound when we see the fruits.  

This is the "Mountain Giant," the people who live here say he will wake up after the Second Coming!! Can you see his profile??
Mountain Giant

Love to all,
Sister Ludlam

Monday, July 24, 2017

Quite Superb in Cachoeira and Cruzeiro!

Sister Malan and Ava
This week was CRAZY, really long, and really quite superb.

So basically, Cachoeira Paulista has about 20 actives members, half of which are children. There is no young men or young women organizations. The branch literally consists of 1 massive family, all cousins and brothers and mother in laws. We also discovered that we are responsible for the area next door, Cruzeiro, which is the farthest area in our entire mission. They have never had sisters, where as Cachoeira hasn't had them for what seems like 3 years. The areas are GORGEOUS!! President said there are mountains because he knows how much I love mountains, but a few elders told me, "Nahhh! They are just really big hills." HOWEVER! When we got here it was cloudy for about 2 days, but one morning we woke up and the sun was shining and.. BAM! There were these massive, beautiful mountains next to us that were finally uncovered, it took my breathe away!! Also, the stars are simply incredible. There are lots of horses and grass and I love it.

Monday: I got into the capital and got to spend the day with Sister de Jesus. Oh, how I love that girl! We had a wonderful dinner and testimony meeting. I was the only one not going home that week, and I just happened to be the last to speak. I talked about the miracle of sacrifice, and how it is ESSENTIAL for happiness.

Tuesday: We went to the São Paulo Temple and it was my first time actually going inside. It was a very sacred experience I will always treasure. We went to a Churrasqueria buffet afterwards, and the meat was SUPER SALTY to make you buy more drinks. I held strong. Then we got back to the escritorio and it was time to make the long voyage to Guaratinguetá. Thankfully, the only 2 other sisters in our zone (Sister Lima and Sister Mendes) happened to be there so I didn't have to go alone. There was a big mix up and, unfortunately, Sister Malan was unable to get a bus, so I stayed the night with Sisters Lima and Mendes. It was lovely.

Wednesday: In the rain we lugged my two little but heavy suitcases to their chapel for a district meeting. We then went to pick up Sister Malan at the Rodoviaria. We went to eat lunch in Lorena with the sisters, and then payed their LMA to take us to our area because he was the only one who
Our house has black lights.
knew where we lived. We FINALLY arrived in our area at about 3:30. We discovered that our area had had elders the last transfer, and the house was in much need of a clean up (hahaha). We unpacked our stuff and bought food. We tried to mark a visit with the Branch President, but he marked an FHE with us and his whole family the next night. When we were leaving the super market, someone said, "Hello, Sisters!" and it was him! He took us to his house to meet his whole family really quick.

Thursday: When you "open an area," you have to start from ground zero because we didn't have information of who was being taught the last transfer, who is less active or a recent convert, so we organized our Area Book (with forms of all previous investigators) into the different neighborhoods and got to work! We spent all day just knocking doors and seeing if the people would let us teach them. I am very grateful I genuinely like knocking doors and walking in the street all day because that is really all you have to do when you open an area. That night we had an FHE with the President's family. They talked about Nephi building a ship and how we need to go to the mountain and inquire of the Lord. I felt like it was meant for us. ♥

Friday: More Area Book files, all day. HOWEVER, we live next to a member named Mariana and she gave us a reference of a less active, Vilma. When we got there with Mariana, we also met Josiane, who lives with Vilma for right now. We taught them and marked Josiane for baptism! WOOHOO!

Saturday: More knocking. We also visited with Josiane again, she read the Book of Mormon and prayed and said she felt really good. We talked about the Sabbath Day and everyone agreed to go to church the next day. At night we had a Noite de Caldo (Soup Night) with some investigators who don't want commitmen,t but they love missionaries, so we went and met a ton of new people who gave us their addresses and numbers! Yay!

Sunday: At 8:30 we knock (clap) at Vilma's door, no one answers. After about 5 minutes of making a lot of noise, a man comes over and says they left early to visit a neighboring town. I was really sad.
Our Chapel Warehouse
We got to the church, and it was SO DIFFERENT! It is basically a warehouse with plastic wall dividers. The baptismal font is a tarp draped over metal poles and a hose. There were 17 people there, at the end of the meeting 2 more families showed up (coming to a total of 25), but then they left again. After church, the President of the neighboring town, Cruzeiro, called us and said they have 3 references for us! They came and picked us up and the rest of the day they just chauffeured us around and we taught many many people. After the whole week, we had 4 new investigators in Cachoeira, but just on Sunday we also got 4 new investigators in Cruzeiro. They are trying to show President they need missionaries again, so they are working really hard with us!

So, all in all, this week was exhausting. I forgot how much energy it takes to open an area. You have to get so many "no's" before something goes right. When we finally marked Josiane, we felt like the
Lord is seeing our effort and it is paying off. There is certainly a reason Sister Malan and I are here, it just is going to take a lot of patience and diligence to figure it out. We are doing our best to stay pumped up and not get overwhelmed or discouraged. I LOVE Sister Malan. She teaches so simply and purely, is very level headed, and is just so enjoyable to be around. She has a LOT of faith. We decided when we got here to fast every week of the transfer.

This week we fasted to see miracles and help Cachoeira grow, but we realized we need to be more specific. This week we were planning on fasting to find a family because that is exactly what this branch needs, so I told that to the sister leader of the mission. She said you need to be even more specific than that, ask for a family with a mom, a dad, 2 teenage boys, and a young woman, or something like that. We now pray to know what kind of family would be best to help the branch, what kind of family the Lord already has prepared for us.

Well, I have a feeling this week is going to be even more exhausting, but I am ready for it! With the Lord and sister Malan at my side, I know we are going to discover very shortly why the Lord has sent us here.

Sister Ludlam

Monday, July 17, 2017

Surprise Transfer out to the Country!

WHELP! It turns out I am NOT staying in Poá with Sister Quieroz! I am being transferred to the North Pole of the my mission (well, actually it would be like the west pole. ha ha). My area is called Chaoeira Paulista, Zona Guaratingueta! It is the farthest zone in the whole mission. Our mission has 8 zones, but Guaratingueta takes up half of it because it is all farmland.
Chaoeira Paulista, Zona Guaratingueta
 For my whole mission there have only been elders sent there, but President has decided to open this area with sisters! Me and my companion, Sister Malan, will be pioneers!! I AM SO EXCITED! I met Sister Malan once at the temple. She is American, very sweet, and the thing everyone says about her is that she is a HARD WORKER! WOOHOOO!!

So, as I said a few weeks ago, President told me I would probably finish my mission in Poá, so I was TOTALLY not expecting to be transferred. Sister Quieroz were doing weekly planning and a long- term plan for the transfer (my last 6 weeks AHH!!) and I was just SO EXCITED. Our only problem  was a lack of time to teach all of the elite people we had found last transfer. Three people were already marked for baptism, and many more with so much potential! I thought if I was transferred, my heart would be shattered into a million pieces.

However, when I received the news, once the shock wore off a little bit, I was FILLED WITH JOY! I can feel that this is a tender mercy from the Lord, sending me to open this area with Sister Malan during my last transfer. Yesterday, President called me to explain what was going to happen and I just felt so blessed and excited. I would have LOVED to finish my mission in Poá, but I am even more excited for all the miracles we will see in Cachoeira Paulista. Oh, and I am finally leaving the Itaquaquecituba Stake ;)

I am currently in the capital, writing in a random lan house and can't seem to send pictures. I am sorry!

These past few days have been very emotional, having to say goodbye so suddenly to so many special people. It wasn't sad, just very special to realize how many wonderful people I have had to privilege to love. HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEK!

Love Sista Lu

Monday, July 10, 2017


Almost all my companions are still on the mission!
Last week I said we would begin to teach 8 new people, and truly, this week we have 8 NEW INVESTIGATORS! The interesting thing is that they are a totally different group of 8 people than we were planning for. Unfortunately, none of them went to church (sigh....) but we still had 5 investigators at church we weren't even expecting to come! This week we have marked visits with many, many more people with much promise!

This week our ward had a Festa Julina and two new investigators actually came, Jonathan and Rosana! Jonathan is a student at Bishop's English school. They have two little boys, and
Fest Julina
a girl on the way--she will be born in August. Jonathan won the blackout bingo and as the grand prize, a MASSIVE teddy bear, which he gave to Rosana for the baby. They were SOOO happy about it, hahaha! They were some of the last people there and helped clean everything up. I will never forget seeing Rosana cleaning the floor, 8 months pregnant, and everyone saying, "No, no! You really don't need to!" But she insisted. They will make a wonderful addition to the Ward Poá. :)
Jonathan and Julina

This week Sister Quieroz and I had many, many spiritual experiences. Every day, my heart is just so grateful and light because I canpreach the gospel. It makes me SO happy, but as my favorite song says, "It's not about you! It's for the people who are blessed by what you do."  Here is a link if you want to listen!

It is an extreme privilege to participate in the reactivation of inactive members and help them sing the song of redeeming love again. It is such a delight to teach the Restoration every day and invite people to let the fullness of the gospel change their lives and bring them joy. Just like when I began my mission in Ogden, it is in the small moments that I feel the most joy and gratitude to be here as a missionary.

I love you all and I love my Savior!
Mae e Filha