Unbelievable...the day of my final e-mail has come! I am learning what it means to be in DENIAL! This week has been full of mental battles with the adversary trying to get me down and make me feel like a failure...and yet, full of tender mercies from the Lord that have comforted and reassured me along the way. One of those big tender mercies have been receiving all of your wonderful and encouraging e-mails today! Thank you so much! I can't express how much is helps nor how much it means to me! I have felt an outpouring of love, and from the very bottom of my heart, thank you.
A couple of funny stories that happened this week...we met with a young man named Matthew that was a referral from our Booth we do on campus. He is a very sweet and pure little 19 year old. As we began our lesson we were setting expectations and we asked what he hoped to learn and why he wanted to meet with us. He said, "Well, I have grown up a Methodist and go to a Methodist church with my family and I was hoping you could teach me more about what it means to be a Methodist." Ha ha...well that is an answer I have never heard before! We explained exactly who we were and what our purpose is as missionaries = ). Sister Salinas got a real kick out of it and said she just loves white people and we are so funny...ha ha. We did end up teaching him and shared an overview of what we teach and how it would apply to him and bless his life. He was very excited and said he'd love to learn more. We gave him a restoration pamphlet to read. We met with him again yesterday and he showed us three pages in the pamphlet that stood out to him and that he really liked...1) The page with Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, abut he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." 2) The page about The Book of Mormon explaining what it is and how it testifies of Jesus Christ 3) The page that teaches how we can know for ourselves the message is true! Prepared? Yes! We taught him the Restoration using pictures and much of Joseph Smith-History...relating him to Joseph, feeling confused and being partial to the Methodist sect. I had the opportunity to hold in front of him a picture of the first vision and say those beautiful words from Joseph's account. I asked how he felt after and he said the feeling was indescribable. I am grateful I had the opportunity to teach him. He lives outside of our are so other sisters will continue on with him, but I love how the Lord prepared him. I love how our booth we set up made him curious...he paced back and forth in front of it many times...talked to us once, and the Elders another time....I have no doubt the spirit was impressing on his mind and the Lord was guiding his steps so he could find this. = )
The other funny story that happened was Saturday when we were headed to a member's home for dinner! We walked up to the front door and as we knocked I turned to Sister Salinas and said, "Let's sing something!" We were having dinner with Gloria so I said, "We'll carol! Let's sing 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing!'" (to be funny) As we were joyously singing "Gloooooooooooria," a grumpy old man came to the door, swung it open, and yelled "What do you want!!!??" It was dark and it had been a while since I had been there and we realized we were at the wrong house! I quickly said, "Oh! We're sorry, we are suppose to be at the next door over! Is there anything we can do for you? We can sing you a song!" He said, "No thank you!" and shut the door! Sister Salinas and I laughed our way over to the right house and were so embarrassed but thought it was pretty funny. We told Gloria what happened and she had a shocked look on her face when she pointed and asked, "That house?! Oh man that guy is Mr. Scrouge!" ...Explains why he didn't like our caroling ; ).
I am so excited to share this next miracle with you! I have been praying that I would be able to go to the temple with some of the families that I taught at the beginning of my mission and see them sealed or receive their endowment because their year since being baptized would be up. I have been checking up on my dear friends from the Fuerte ward! I was simply overjoyed with gratitude when I heard from the missionaries serving there that Tony Middleton would be having his temple recommend interview! He was Baptized November 10th last year and he had his interview November 12th, and he received his endowment on November 15th! Because I taught him, I was able to go and attend the session with him!!!! I have no words to express the sweet feelings I had throughout the night. The first time I saw him was in the session. I watched him throughout and as I did I had all of these memories come through my mind...teaching him and his wife in their apartment, the commitments he struggles with, getting him to come to church, relating to him on a musical level because he was a singer, getting bold for the first time on my mission with him and him telling me it was exactly what he needed to hear, singing "Sanctuary" with him at his baptism and seeing a recent convert baptize him, going to the temple with him (OK HOLD THE PHONE FOR A SECOND!!! I LOVE YOU ALL SOOOOOO MUCH!!! THEY JUST WALKED IN WITH THE MAIL AND I HAVE 23 LETTERS!!!! 23!!!!! EVERYONE IS IN DISBELIEF!!!! INCLUDING ME!!! HA HA! ALL THE MISSIONARIES ARE BAFFLED! I CAN'T THANK YOU ALL ENOUGH FOR SHOWING ME SO MUCH LOVE! WHAT AN INCREDIBLE GIFT AND TREASURE THESE WILL ALL BE! I CAN'T WAIT TO READ THEM! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!!!! I JUST HAD TO SAY THANK YOU RIGHT AWAY! YOU ALL ARE MY ANGELS!)...OK where was I??? going to the temple with him and his wife and having one of the best lessons ever...I remember I have never seen him so happy! We took pictures of them in front of the temple and got them printed and told them to keep their eyes on the temple. I waited with his wife and 2 friends from the ward in the Celestial room. He came through beaming! I shook his hand and told him how much I wish I could hug him! I just hugged my hand! I asked how he felt and he said, "Overwhelmed....but overjoyed!" I told him how proud I was of him and how happy I was to be there with him. His wife was in tears saying she couldn't believe it and it was like going through for the first time because it had been so long for her....that it was a long hard road, but it was worth it. Tony looked at me and said, "Sister Riggs, everything you told me was true." I had to laugh a little ha ha....well of course! Would I lie?! ; ) I told him to gaze around the celestial room and take in the feeling and told him it was just the tiniest glimpse of ALL that Heavenly Father had in store for him. I cannot describe the sweet sweet feeling it was to be in that moment....to have seen the whole journey from beginning to the temple! I was soaring and I felt at such peace. As we drove away I said, "I can't wait for our reunions in heaven someday! It's gonna be just like that but better!!!" What a precious gift that was at the end of my mission...and what perfect timing!
Last little miracle....for a couple of weeks I have had a member's name in my ward on my mind and kept thinking every weekly planning session that we needed to meet with him. He sat in front of us at church and I said, "Hey! Can we see you sometime this week?" He said he was leaving the next day for Thanksgiving in Hawaii with his brother for 3 weeks. I said, "Oh no! Can we meet with you tonight?!" He said yes. As I went through my tours at the Battalion that afternoon I was praying to know what we should share with him. This young man is amazing and 20 and would be an incredible missionary. We had met with him twice while I have been here. When I first arrived I was trying to meet with everyone on the ward list...which is when we made first contact. Didn't think much of it. Anyway...as I was on tour the Mormon message about Chris Williams came to mind. I thought, "OK why? What point do we teach of it?" (there are many...forgiveness, repentance, emulating the Savior)...nothing else came...just to show the message. So we went with it and taught by the spirit. The whole family sat in and there was a sweet spirit and a few tears...but I really didn't know if anything we shared effected the one we came for. As we left and walked out to our car, his father came running out and called after us. He said, "Sisters, I just want to thank you for what you have done for my son. it has meant more than you know. You know he will be a great missionary someday....he's just working on it very slowly and there are some things in the way right now. But the special interest you have taken in him, and coming over, have meant so much to him. Even the message you shared tonight, that video, couldn't have been more timely." He had tears in his eyes as I told him of the promptings that I felt related to his son and I testified it meant that the Lord was aware of him. I was feeling very discouraged and like a failure throughout that Sunday, and it was an answer to my prayers, and again, a tender mercy, for his father to run out and tell us that. I love my Heavenly Father so much!
I am out of time...but know that I love you all! Know that I love the Savior! Know that I have loved my mission! How great is my calling?! Indescribable!!! I want to end with this thought:
"My mind was drawn immediately to Nephi’s phrase “the tender mercies of the Lord,” and I knew in that very moment I was experiencing just such a tender mercy. A loving Savior was sending me a most personal and timely message of comfort and reassurance through a hymn selected weeks previously. Some may count this experience as simply a nice coincidence, but I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them." (Elder Bednar)
All my love and gratitude!
Signing off for the last time!
Your Sister Missionary,