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

BEST WEEK EVER!

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Blessings Poured Over Us!

I don't have much time, but I just have to tell you about the finding miracles I promised last week!

Something I have realized ever since the beginning of the mission is that rarely we find the elate by our own efforts, but as we work and give our all, the Lord then begins to pours blessings over us. The prepared fall in our lap. President Silcox really can testify of this. Every single person he taught that was baptized during his mission was a reference!

This week we had many elate (prepared people) poured out over us. This week we will begin to teach 8 new people who are just so excited to receive the gospel! I AM SO HAPPY!

This past week has been really lovely because we were able to spend every day in our area for the first time all transfer. We got a lot of good stuff done. We have now officially contacted every person on that massive list we made 4 weeks ago, woo!! I will tell you about the teaching miracles that are going to happen this week next Monday!

I love my Savior and I am so honored to carry His name and my family name on my chest every single day. It is such a privilege to be a missionary, to play a part of God's wonderful work.

Love,
Sister Lú

Monday, June 26, 2017

"Finding Miracles" Needed!


Tree of Life
Dear Family,

This week was yet again filled with lots of work, but unfortunately there are not many fruits to show for it. BUT THAT IS OKAY!! Our teaching pool dropped rather drastically, but that means so much more time has opened up for the truly elate who will actually progress!! Honestly, I was a little discouraged last night after receiving so many final "NO's," but Lia wrote in her letter today out of the blue: "More finding is more baptisms, don’t let faith dwindle that you need to have finding miracles." I realized that my faith has dwindled in that aspect.
Typical Sao Paulo Scene

We spent two days this week in Tatuapé with the Sister Training Leaders of the mission, Sister Saavedra and Sister Lee! We also did a division in our area with some sisters in our zone, super fun. We finally were able to teach Lays and Vanessa again, and it was just marvelous. Terezinha has a fever, so unfortunately, she didn't go to church and her date fell. Alessandra FINALLY went to church this week!

Stay tuned for next week, certainly we will have many finding miracles to tell!!

Love,
Sister Lu

Eliza


Monday, June 19, 2017

News from Lu

WOOHOOOOOO!  Another week chock full of hard work!
UPDATE

1. Last week we had already gone a long time without seeing Gustavo (the homeless friend) so we gathered our courage to ask his scary friend, Marcio, where he was. He said "Haven't you heard? The little guy was attacked with a knife and has fled Poá. Poor thing, never did anything wrong to anybody." I still had hope he would come back, but it has now been 2 weeks. At least I took a picture with him and Night. The last time I saw him was in the street at night, talking to another homeless person and I said good night, and he said "Good night, Lu!" which is what everyone calls me here. I could already see that he was changing, just after teaching him a few times. I told Rafael, an RM from our ward who was helping us, that Gustavo left, and he said, "Don't worry. He has a Book of Mormon and pamphlets. He will keep studying and will one day find the church himself."

Gustavo and Night
2. After all of this work this transfer, we had so many investigators and NONE OF THEM WERE MARKED FOR BAPTISM. It is kind of driving me crazy. So, we made a list of 10 people who can ABSOLUTELY be baptized in July and fasted for them. The Lord has already begun to answer our prayers. On Sunday, all of our plans fell through by 3 pm, so we were in a really dangerous part of our area and were about to head out, but I strongly felt like we should go deeper in and try to visit Terezinha. Not only was she home (miracle number one), but we were finally able to teach her the restoration. We asked if she had ever felt like Joseph Smith and wanted to know which of all of these thousands of churches is Christs true church. She said "yeah, I was actually thinking about that last week." It was a wonderful lesson, and she accepted a baptismal date for the 8th of July! Please pray for her so that she can actually make it to church!

By the way, this is the mother of the missionary who we helped with the Skype call on Mother's day. :) 1 down, 9 to go!! WOOHOO! This week we want to mark Lays, Alessandra, Vivian, Rebecca, Nadia, Rogério, Sonha, Wanderley, and Maíra. However, we will be out of our area 2 days, possibly 3 (if we can get Cíntia and John to the temple), so we are going to have to really hustle.
Sister Quieroz

3. Sister Quieroz is as lovely as ever. This week we had interviews with President and I asked if I am going to die (end my mission) here in Poá. To my surprise he said probably yes! I was actually really pleased about that. It will mean my entire mission has been in the "interior" or not downtown Sao Paulo, and this entire time I have been wanting to go there really bad, but now...I am totally content to just stay here :) Another added bonus is that the interior is way safer than the capital, and I have not been assaulted even once on my mission (that in itself is a miracle). After looking at all my favorite members and investigators yesterday, I felt so blessed to be able to finish my mission here. I also want Sister Quieroz to stay with me
I drink tea now.
Green Banana Chips

Love to all,
Sister Lu

Monday, June 12, 2017

Workin' It!

Sister Quieroz is in the orange next to Ava
I don't think I have ever gotten SO MUCH STUFF done in one week in my whole mission.

Sister Quieroz got here and just hit the ground running. She knows almost all the members, investigators, recent converts, and less actives. I just LOVE this lady. She is quiet, loves to read, loves animals, makes weird sounds just like Mom, is obedient, and is a WORK HORSE.

This week the greatest miracle was being able to contact almost ALL of the potential investigators we had been trying to contact all last transfer, 6 news investigators out of all of the potencials! I am so tired and I love it.

I love you all, sorry the letter is short this week!

Sister Ludlam

a little later...

HI MOM! I got the package and Sister and I LOOOOVEEDD ITTT.
I even loved the 86 percent chocolate. I ate a little bit and couldn't handle it, so I put the bars into a pot with butter sugar, put the chocolate in a mug with flour and egg and it TURNED INTO CHOCOLATE MOLTEN LAVA CAKE!! I was so proud of myself. Ghiradelli chocolate molten lava cake ;)

I am doing well. Everyone is saying "voce tá azul, tá acabando!!!" which means I am in my second to last transfer and it is almost over, but I feel like I am just going to stay here in Poá indefinitley. I am very very happy.

Thank you for all you do for our family, Mom. I love you.

Oh, by the way Sister Queiroz has 1 year and 1 month, goes home when Sister Lee does.

Sister Ludlam

Monday, June 5, 2017

New Companion: Sister Quieroz

JOHN AND CINTIA GOT MARRIED AND BAPTIZED! I have never seen so many intense miracles in such a short period of time as I have with them.

Today, I am actually a little sad because Sister Lee was transferred. I cried a LOT. She is now Sister Leader of the mission, I am so excited for her!

My new companion is Sister Quieroz, and I am just so so so grateful she is my companion. She is from Mato Grosso (state in the center of Brasil), loves to read, is very sweet and goofy and just...lovely. Every time my heart starts to hurt, I just remind myself she is my new companion and am comforted. I'll send a picture of us next week. We are sister leaders for our region. I will have 9 MONTHS in Itaqua this transfer! After the baptism ended, and I was thinking about what it would be like if I stayed here.  My mind just filled with so many people we need to visit, who are ready, and how much WORK there is to do here in Zion! Sister Lee told me, "That's interesting you feel like that. I felt like now my work is completed and I can leave." Then we received the news I'd stay and she would go.

This week my favorite experience after the wedding and baptism was meeting Gustavo. As we were walking in the street, he walked up to us and introduced himself, told us he was hungry, and would just like to eat a kabob stick they were selling on the other side of the street. I asked how much he needed, and he told us to just buy one of my pieces of art (like hippie necklaces with colorful feathers and dream catchers) so we sat down and began to talk to him. I have taught a LOT of homeless people on my mission, but there was just something so special about him. I got so excited after meeting him and couldn't stop thinking about it for the rest of the day. He is 22 years old, has a little puppy he carries around in his backpack named "Night" (like the English word) and has lived on the streets for 4 years. He said, "I would LOVE to go to church with you guys. Come wake me up here in the morning and I'll go with you!"

So, we asked our friend Rafael to come with us (just in case, you know) and made a little breakfast for him. We show up, he is awake, but in a huge group of hobos drinking beer and said he couldn't go to church with us because they had to go to another town to do something...I was like, "WHAT IN THE WORLD? How did you manage to make up a commitment?" But he said he already started reading the Book of Mormon and truly wanted to go to church next week. We are going to try and find him this week and teach him. I don't think this is the last you will hear about Gustavo. :)

We also are very excited to teach Luis Fernando. Let me start from the very beginning: When I was in Vila Virginia, I would always hear about this family that was spread over our whole stake-- that one person got baptized-- and like a domino affect, family member after family member would get baptized. I thought it was so wonderful and had always wanted to be a part of it all. When I got to Poá, I met many of the members of this family, and John and Cintia are actually apart of the dynasty. John's older brother came to their baptism, and I just thinking about him. He is like a hard core rocker. I think he's 55 and has a little pony tail and wears black leather pants. I like him a LOT. As we watched him during the baptism, he seemed so interested and like he was really feeling the spirit. Afterwards we said, "We want to visit you!" and he said he works all the time, but told us when he is at home and we are going there this week! YAY! His only issue is with coffee, but that won't last for long ;) Sister and I whispered to each other, "He is next." I feel like this family must be very, very special. I have never seen anything like this on my mission.

Have an awesome week!  Love, Sister Ava

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

All In, but MIA (no letter)

We received a quick message yesterday that the internet was not functioning in Ava's city. She promised to write today, but apparently that didn't work out either (time-wise). But at least she sent two pictures.  She assured us that she is doing great and very happy in Poá.  Have a great week!



Monday, May 22, 2017

Miracles in the Promised Land

A very Brasilian picture...
 (Video link to their song is in 2nd paragraph)

This week was wonderful!
Remember when I said John, our investigator, had fasted without being asked? Well, we discovered it was actually so that God would help him find a job. I promised that if he could find a job, he would never drink coffee again. Not even a WEEK later, he got a job. With that job, he got a car, 2 phones, and other benefits. That is a MIRACLE here in Sao Paulo. Sister and I discovered a little while later that this story is even more miraculous. We went to Irma Rujamas house, and her brother Elton from another ward (they are both recent converts), said that in 3 months he was promoted many times and now is in a very high position in one of the best businesses in Sao Paulo. During his second week in his current position, they were in a board meeting and the boss points to him and says, “You are going to find the best 4 people you know and hire them for the team.” INCREDIBLE!! That is SUCH A MIRACLE! John has been doing very well so far. 
We love Ana!

The Sé Cathedral. Sao Paulo
This week Sister Lee and I recorded “Where Love Is” or “Onde Há Amor” because it is a very special song to both of us. You can watch their video here. Sister Lee loves it because it reminds her of her mother, every time she hears it she just closes her eyes and its like she goes somewhere. When I was going through a rough patch in my first area, Lia began to record and send a song every week to me. If I remember correctly, that was the first one. When I put my memory chip in our phone, I heard her voice for the first time in so long and it was so comforting. Whenever things would get hard, I would lay in the hammock on our apartment balcony and stare at the sky, listening to Lia's voice and would harmonize with her to this song. It is now one of my favorite songs! Lyrics to song (Scroll down under sheet music.)

Beautiful Sao Paulo
So the missionaries in the Sao Paulo MTC get to leave sometimes and do contacts on the most famous avenue in Sao Paulo: Avenida Paulista. I have already gotten two references from it, and they were both ready to hear the gospel. Anyway, a few weeks ago we got a reference for a girl named Lays (pronounced Lie-ees, not like the chips haha). We showed up and her mom, Vanessa, was rather unhappy with the fact that we had all of her daughters information, but she said we could come back. She was kind of sassy, but I had a REAL good feeling about her all along! We have taught them a few times and every time it's even better. We are also tutoring Lays in English. And this week…THEY ACTUALLY CAME TO CHURCH! I was so so so so happy!  Cintia came, too, and all of the talks and lessons were just PERFECT for all of them.


Poá
Another cool miracle: A missionary from Sao Paulo that is serving in Curitiba (Brasil) sent an email to Sister Lee a while ago saying that we need to visit her mom and sisters. They haven’t been able to skype or email for her whole mission, so we tried so hard to help find
a way for Terezinha (her mom) to talk with her daughter. Every time we went to her house, she wasn’t there and we would leave notes saying to CALL US and COME TO CHURCH so we can plan it out with you. We were about to give up, but decided to bring it up in Ward Council and the first counselor of the bishopric basically said, “We'll take care of it. After church, show us where she lives and we will take her to our house.” We got there after church and…she wasn’t there again. As we were about to write another note and leave, she came walking down the hill! It all worked out, they got to talk!

The next day, the irmao told the story of what happened to the ward council. He said he had to call President Silcox, who called her mission president, who called her.  The internet wasn’t working but suddenly began to, and then she began to cry and he said, “When I heard the two begin to scream, when the call finally went through, a mother and a daughter united after so long, it was such a beautiful experience for us. Just a little bit of effort on our part made all the difference to this family.”

Terezinha used to say she didn’t like the church because it wouldn’t let her talk with her daughter, but after we bent over backwards to help her, she is now accepting the lessons and says she will go to church next week. Hooray! This same irmao went to Cintia's house at the last minute to pick up Cintia. He is a perfect example of why Poá is the promised land. I have never received so many referrals in my whole mission as I have these last 4 weeks. I am so spoiled to be here with Sister Lee, the most wonderful companion.
Love to all,  Sister L


Monday, May 15, 2017

A Mother's Day Message

John and Cintia
This week was WONDERFUL. The biggest miracle was getting John and Cintia's wedding marked on Wednesday. Satan was working SO HARD to mess it all up. The whole day was a roller coaster of "WOOHOOOOOO-- its gonna happen," massive problem, we hustle and do crazy things to get it resolved, IT'S RESOLVED!, "Woohhooooo!! its back on!!!-- another massive problem. So on and so forth. But its always like this, with every baptism and wedding thus far. Sister Lee and I just felt the whole time this peace that it would work out, so we just kept going, and the end was a very happy ending. :)

Best Mother's Day ever!
John fasted without being invited to this week, Cintia has been watching church videos and they are really strengthening her testimony. Many other serious problems are trying to tear the two apart, but the Lord has been sending "angels" in the night to comfort them and encourage them. Just because the wedding is marked doesn't mean its all smooth sailing now, so we are going to keep following up daily and strengthening them. We know the Lord's will will be realized. :)

Still looking for the elates (prepared investigators) that our President told us he saw in our area in his dreams.

During the Mother's Day phone call, my heart was FILLED WITH JOY! I can be with my favorite 7 people for all eternity--we are SEALED together! I bore my testimony in Portuguese, so I don't know if they understood it, but I bore my testimony of the Book of Mormon and about the mothers of the strippling warriors. This is what I told my mom today:

"I don't know if you understood what I said in my testimony yesterday (especially because I began to cry), but I talked about how much I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON and that this week I was studying about the 2000 stripling warriors. For years I have pondered the question "What did Mom and Dad do to make us LOVE the gospel and want to be good? We are ALL like that, is it just a trait of who we 6 are and they never had a rebellious child who didn't want to go to church, or is it something they did?" It is very clear now that the reason our family delights in the gospel and strives for goodness is because of your consistent, perfect example. 

As I read the story of those amazing sons of Helaman, I just cried but I know you know it, Mom. We all do. It's because you live the gospel, and you love it. I never had a very strong testimony of the Book of Mormon before the mission, but I wanted to because I saw how you delighted in it. As I said yesterday, women who keeps their covenants (the mothers of the strippling warriors) TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO BELIEVE. I don't remember which verse says that, but it struck me. (Alma 56:47) We must be TAUGHT to BELIEVE. This is not a hands-off, let them choose what they want to believe so I don't brainwash them idea. That is why we have parents, to be taught to believe!"
One of my favorite people this week gave a talk about Mothers. He said the sea turtle lays her eggs and leaves them on the shore. They hatch knowing how to swim, how to protect themselves, how to get food. Why didn't Heavenly Father make us like that? Because within our family ties, within mother and daughter bonds, the teaching is where love is developed. How perfect is Heavenly Fathers plan for us!

I LOVE YOU ALL and I love my Savior!!
Sister Ludlam
Lice.  jk.  Hydrating hair with coconut oil

Beautiful Day at the Temple

Silly Irmas

Hard Working Irmas

Takin' it to the streets!


Monday, May 8, 2017

Divine Obsession

Mother's Day Call on Sunday!

Dear Family,

Last week President told Sister Lee and I that there are people who have seen us in a dream and are waiting for us, ready to accept the gospel. "Miracles will happen in Poá." This week we have just been searching under every rock to find them, fasting and praying.

One year ago....!
As the APs in Ogden said, it has turned into our "divine obsession."

We have been soooo busy. I love Sister Lee so much, I don't think I have ever felt so unified with another person, we are truly one.

Can we skype at 4 o´clock my time this Sunday?  I LOVE YOU ALL!!!
     ♥ Sister Ludlam

Monday, May 1, 2017

Ava sings LIVE from Zion (Poá)

Goodbye to Gilmara
Listen to "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today!" Link:  Ava sings LIVE from Brasil!

Sad goodbyes
So this week was AWESOME. It still hasn't really sunk in that Sister Lee is my companion and that my area is Poá. This area is even more wonderful than I thought it was, we call it Zion. I have never seen a more loving, united, reverent, Christ-like ward in my life. Remember that part at the end of Toy Story 2 when the flight attendant Barbie smiles so much that her cheeks start to hurt and she can't stop smiling? That actually happened many times this week...THEY JUST MAKE ME SO HAPPY I can't help but smile and hug and kiss everybody! POÀ MAKES ME SMILE! I feel like I have just been glowing all week.

SO! There is this young couple named Cintia and John and we marked their marriage and baptism for May 20th and I love them SO MUCH. I should've taken a picture, I am sorry. They have an adorable baby boy named Edwin.
So when I went on "vacation" to Poá last transfer, I met a woman who knocked me off my feet. We walked into her house and she excitedly sat us down to tell us she had just finished reading Jesus the Christ and bore one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard of our Savior, I could just feel her gratitude and overflowing love for Him.
For a while now I have been rather frustrated because I feel like I can't truly express how I feel about Jesus Christ when I bear testimony of Him, that my words are just words and I can't help others feel the same way I feel about Him. I even felt like that when I bore my testimony in my blog a few weeks ago. I have no issue with the Restoration or Tithing or Baptism for the Dead or that we have a living prophet, but my love for Christ is something so much deeper and sacred that I don't know how to express it, I just say the same things everybody says.

So when I met this woman, I became so inspired to try harder to express my adoration for Him! Also, that same week, President gave me a special promise during our interview. He said "Testify of Jesus Christ in every opportunity you have. If you do, I promise that you will see even more miracles in you area." So at every opportunity I began to try to really express my love for Him and not just say the words I usually say-- so that the people can FEEL IT. It was hard, I know it sounds so simple, but it honestly pushed me. I distinctly remember bearing my testimony of Jesus Christ twice for Jessica last week, and the night of her baptism I realized it was a fulfillment of President's promise. However, I still really have a LONG way to go. So I have been using every opportunity here in Poá to bear my testimony of Him and it is just so glorious.
Beautiful Irmas

I. Love. Sister. Lee. With my whole soul. I feel like she is literally my sister, sometimes I actually feel like Lia is my companion. She is just like me, just a lot lot better, just like Lia. :) I don't know what I have done to deserve her as my companion or the privilege to serve in Poá and participate in this marvelous work, but I am not going to overthink it and just GET TO WORK! WOO HOO!!

I told Jessica I like her shoes so she bought me some ♥ I don't think it was ever so hard to say goodbye to someone.

Love, Ava



Monday, April 24, 2017

The Last Miracle--Sealed with a Golden Key

Easter (last week)
Alright. I have a LOT to say this week so I better get started now. First, Operation Kindness was a smashing success. I was able to hit all of the love languages. I thought this was going to be the longest week of my life, but it flew by!

The Last Miracle (and greatest one of all) in Vila Virginia:
Last week the adversary kept putting this awful thought into my mind: "Wow, Sister Ludlam, you spent 6 whole months here and you weren't even able to help Jessica get her answer and be baptized. Maybe if you had worked a little harder...bummer." But I realized right off the bat where those thoughts were coming from. We passed her house 5 days in a row to try to invite her to be baptized with Maria, but Satan just kept messing things up, GRRR! So after many attempts to help Jessica be baptized during these 6 months, I made my final massive plan:

Zoo Trip
Wednesday we would eat lunch with her and leave a message about faith and invite her to fast with us on Thursday and go to the temple to pray (she said she wished she had had more time the last time we went because she wasn't able to just sit in the garden and pray) with Irmao Ronaldo, then be interviewed for baptism Friday night to show her THAT SHE IS TOTALLY READY and has been for like a year (she has been an investigator for almost 3 years), and then be baptized with Maria on Saturday.
Jessica's Baptism

Also, Hebert could be interviewed by Bishop since he is being reactivated and could perform the baptism on Saturday (Bishop already told us he could). But when we got there, she told us she wouldn't be able to go to the temple, and also that night was their best friend's birthday-- so Hebert wouldn't make it to the interview. I went into the bathroom to pray before my message to know if I should still go through with it. Not knowing beforehand what would happen, I just started to talk and in the end, she said she wanted to fast with us and be interviewed! WOOHOO! But she said "Yeah...I don't think this Saturday is going to work, it's too soon." But we just kept on going. We came over on Friday to see how the fast went, and it turns out I was the only one who was able to fast because a WHOLE bunch of terrible things happened (including their kitten Beast died). But she said all anxious and excited, "The interview is still tonight, right?" YES IT IS! WOOHOO! 

So Maria was interviewed first and just came out glowing, so happy and excited, and said to Jessica, "Oh, won't you get baptized with me tomorrow?" Jessica laughed nervously. "HAHAHA. I don't know about that!" But she went in and I knelt in the bathroom and prayed that she could have a celestial experience. When she came out she had the biggest smile on her face, and said that she would go home and pray and talk to Hebert. Our LD told her the interview has a 3-day validity span. ;)

We came by the next morning and she said, "Come to my room with me." So we walk in and she shows us that over night she took out ALL of the immodest clothes in her wardrobe. She said she had prayed and decided, "This is my place." And she wants to be baptized, but not yet... she wouldn't be able to make it to Maria's baptism anyway. I was a little sad and confused because I felt so strongly the night before as I was praying that she would be baptized....but more than anything I was so happy because Jessica WOULD be baptized and she is converted!! If I am there or not doesn't matter. I felt that I had done my part. :) 
Maria's Baptism

So we go to Maria's baptism--it is lovely and the Spirit was SO STRONG. Maria was sad because no one in her family supported her baptism and wouldn't come, but the talks were all about "This is right!" and "We are your family and we love you." The next day she got SUPER sick and right before church some members came over to give her a blessing. There was no way she would be able to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have never seen her cry, but she did when she said she wouldn't be able to go. I felt very at peace about everything.

At church I thought I didn't see Jessica, but when I got up to give my talk about missionary work, I saw her there in the corner smiling at me! Gospel Principles class was about Jesus Christ's Church today and it was perfect for her, the Spirit was so strong. Then in Relief Society she sat next to Gilmara and Raquel, her new friends, and it was such a fun lesson, everyone laughed so much. I watched her from far away and was so happy because she was in "in her place."

BUT THEN!!!!!!!!!!!
We got up after the lesson ended and she said, "I have something to tell you.... I want to be baptized." I said woohoo thats so great! And then Sister Gomes asked when... Jessica said, "Tomorrow?" I started to shout and cry and I hugged her and couldn't stop thinking, "I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT!!!!!" She asked Irmao Ronaldo to baptize her. Satan didn't give up so fast, and there were many barriers we had to get over, many "you can't do this's," but I knew it was going to happen because I knew it was the Lords will.
Two very happy irmas--Sister Ludlam and Sister Lee
That night, 140 people came to "Chamados Ao Servir" all cute with their little nametag stickers. President and Sister Silcox spoke, and everyone loved it. To end the activity, everyone went to the baptismal font and Jessica was baptized. I tried to sing I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus (Eu Quero Ser Como Cristo), but I pulled an Uncle Blaine and cried through the whole thing. The only issue is that he still sings beautifully as he cries, but I wasn't able to pull it off with so much grace. Oh well :) OH YEAH. At the beginning of the activity President told me I'm going to Poa with Sister Lee! It still hasn't sunk in! The person I would most love to be companions with in the most wonderful area of the mission. MAN am I spoiled!
Ava and her Mission presidents, the Silcoxes

Everyone poured out love to me at the activity because it was the last time I will see everyone, so many things said that touched my heart. Everyone kept saying the same thing, that I was sealing my work here with a golden key. Irmao Ronaldo said as he was teaching Jessica the position for the baptism, "You do realize this is a miracle, right? The Lord is showing you He is pleased and has accepted your work here. You are sealing your work with a golden key."

Let's just say I cried a LOT yesterday. These have been the hardest 3 months of my mission, so much sacrifice and growing, but the Lord just opened up the windows of heaven and poured out all the blessings He has yesterday. I think the way I felt last night is how heaven will feel. Only difference is that I won't be saying goodbye...:)

WELL there is much more to say about this week, but this letter is already too long. I love you all! And I love my Savior!

Sister Ava