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.

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