Welcome to the missionary blog of Sister Ralynne Riggs. Here you will be able to follow Ralynne's experiences as she serves a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the California San Diego Mission and Mormon Battalion Historic Site. We will do our best to keep you updated weekly and hope you will find joy in being a part of Sister Riggs' mission!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

From Your Pioneer Princess!‏

Hello Family!
Wow! What a week! I really am just blown away every week and in such awe at all that happens. The mission really is such a roller coaster! Don't be surprised if I get home and sleep for a year after my mission! Ha ha! I am so exhausted every day but it's the best kind of exhaustion there is!
So I had the honor and opportunity to sing for Elder M. Russell Ballard on Sunday! He came here to our mission! I sang at the fireside he gave for investigators of the church. I sang with three sisters and four elders and we sang a very difficult but beautiful arrangement of "Joseph Smith's First Prayer". I was soprano one all by myself, and it was quite high, but I loved it! The spirit was incredible! He is the third apostle I have had the honor of singing for! I was standing right in front of him! Ahh! It was so cool! Even cooler was that yesterday I had the privilege of being taught by him for two hours! He is so wonderful and has such a sense of humor! He gave us great counsel for our work and the blessings that will come to us throughout our whole lives because of the chance that we have to serve the Lord full-time, and because we made the choice and the sacrifice to do so. I got to shake his hand and he blessed me in this work as I thanked him for taking the time to be with us! GOOFY GUMMIES!!!! I loved it!!!
Ready for MIRACLES!!!! Sister Tanner and I have six baptisms set for this month! Yesterday we added a new investigator who wants to take lessons and committed her to be baptized on September 1st on our first visit!!! Oh, August will be wonderful! Our first baptism is this Saturday...a mother and daughter getting baptized together and they have had their interviews and we are good to go and putting the program  together! I am so excited and as I talked with Sister Taylor after her interview I just saw a light in her countenance that wasn't there before! There is no greater feeling of joy than to see someone accept the gospel and make significant changes in there lives and see the light of Christ and His love fill their hearts!!! We are teaching four mother daughter relationships and three of them have baptism dates! Incredible!
I had a shift at the San Diego Temple and met so many who were drawn to the beauty and spirit of the temple grounds. I met a whole entire family that I sent the missionaries to. We talked for 45 minutes and became friends. I took a picture of them in front of the temple and thought how wonderful it will be when they are baptized and come to the temple again someday to be sealed as a family forever! I hope that is what happens!
Sorry this week is short...but miracles are happening all around and I am amazed every day at this errand of angels that I am on. I am so glad that I listened to the promptings of the Lord and made the sacrifice to come and be here to find His children and bring them the greatest happiness and hope that they never knew they could have!
I hope all is well at home! I pray for you each day and am grateful more and more and each day passes for my family that I have been blessed with! I truly love you with all of my heart!
Be good...stay faithful....serve the Lord...TRUST HIM!! More than ever I am in awe each day at the perfect timing and will of the Lord...and how He works everything out to the finest detail..because He knows you, and He knows your needs, and He wants to bless you....so never doubt or fear...only be faithful and  trust....He WILL work it all out if you do your part!!!
Sister Riggs

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hello, from San Diego!‏

Greetings Dear Family!

Well, here I am! I have survived my first week in the mission field and I can hardly believe it! Lots has happened so I am just going to try and get it all out...but whoa is this crazy!

It was bitter sweet to say goodbye to the MTC. I loved it there and I loved all I was learning, but I was really excited to finally get on a plane and for it all to become real! My last fireside at the MTC was my favorite and a dream come true. Jenny Oaks Baker came and performed a musical fireside with her playing the violin and bearing amazing testimonies of how she had come to know Heavenly Father through her many performing opportunities. One thing that I thought was amazing was that she had the first violinist position in the National Symphony Orchestra...a VERY hard position to get, and she had been playing in it while starting her family and had reached a very high point in her career...she was able to be with her children during the day and her husband was home with them at night while she rehearsed and it was great pay and great benefits. She started feeling that soon her time would come to resign...she knew if she resigned it would have to be forever...that it wouldn't be something she came back to when her children were grown. She then found out she was pregnant with her 4th child and she knew she was going to have to resign and that it was time to be at home full time with her children. She did it, and on the day she resigned she started getting several phone calls for concert performances and opportunities to record her music. She knew it was a blessing...that the Lord tried her faith and she did what was right and was blessed for it. She said she has never regretted it for a minute and that she was so glad that the spirit prompted her to give up what she thought was her dream career, for the ultimate career of motherhood. Her children are all under 12 and the 4 of them played "I am a Child of God" and it was so incredible...they are all musical geniuses! One played piano and she had the concert pianist skills down...even to the way she released and lifted her hands after chords. Another played the violin, the cello, and her youngest boy, who is only 4 or 5, was playing classical guitar! It was the sweetest thing ever! I was sitting there thinking..."I'm gonna do this with my kids someday too! Musical firesides, and they'll stand and sing together!" ha ha = ) It was so incredible! I love her music and ability to play. I have never felt the spirit so strongly before through listening to the Violin. She played "Amazing Grace" and "I Believe in Christ" and I was in tears. But a super cool thing was her cousin Jared Oaks (nephew of Elder Oaks) was accompanying her! And he played for me through my first 2 years of voice and BYU! So I saw him after and got a picture and asked if he'd make my dream come true by taking me back to meet Jenny! 'Cause I wouldn't be allowed to other wise. He did! I got a picture with her and I told her how much her "Then Sings My Soul" CD got me through some really hard days leading up to my mission...especially her arrangement of "Be Still My Soul". I also told her how inspiring I thought her testimony was 'cause I related to it as I thought of how I gave up everything I wanted at the time...my dream job and career at Disney...because of a strong prompting I felt from the Lord to serve a mission, and how much I had been blessed since following that, and how already in just over a month I have said this is the greatest thing and best decision I have ever made! She hugged me and thanked me and it was just so cool!!!

OK....so on to San Diego....my first day I was kind of just in shock...like really...I was like, "Holy cow, I'm in San Diego!" And was just taking in the fact that I was a real life missionary set apart and given the power to teach and testify to all those I would meet here...and that this was now home! WHAT?!! We had a wonderful day of warm welcoming and great food at the mission home. We got to meet our mission president and visit with him. That night they sent us out with Sister Missionaries already serving and we just joined in on their evening appointments. It was so neat. The very first person we taught was Sister Taylor and she was talking of her struggles with the Word of Wisdom. I found out she is Diabetic! I lit up all at once and was like, "YES! I can relate to this person!" And I immediately shared with her what I had learned and a couple trials I faced being diabetic and testified to her of the help I received from the Lord when I did my part and promised her the Lord would strengthen her and how when you have the proper perspective on things, it makes it easier to stay away from the things that are holding us back from becoming our best selves. She's quit smoking and she's almost quit drinking. Our next appointment we stopped by a referral and went over the introduction to the Book of Mormon and invited him to be baptized and he said, "Well yeah! I've wanted to be baptized!" So we set a date for August 25th! It was so awesome! Even more awesome was I came to find out the next day that I would be serving in this area with these people I had just taught!

So I am serving in El Cajon, CA. My companion and trainer is Sister Tanner. She is from Canada and she is only a couple months away from finishing her mission AND she is the training sister...so she's like in charge of everything...so I am learning from the best of the best! She is wonderful and so encouraging and loving towards me and she somehow has 100s of people and things all sorted out in her head and somehow keeps it all straight. I hope I can be like her someday!

We have 5 Baptisms set for August!!!!! I am so excited and I love them all so much! The Taylors (mom and daughter), the Williams (2 twin sisters that are 9) and Sean...who is waiting to be a new daddy any minute and is in the Navy here. It is SO AMAZING to teach these faithful people and see the Gospel of Jesus Christ change their lives for the better! Seriously...there is nothing that brings greater happiness! We taught Sean last night his first full lesson...and I was assigned to lead out in teaching him the Restoration! It was my first time teaching it for real but it was so incredible. I memorized Joseph Smith's words so I could teach and testify with power....as I came to the first vision I said, "Early one spring morning in 1820, Joseph went and knelt in a grove of trees to pray to the Father for the answer he was seeking for....and I would like to use his own words to describe what followed...He said..." And as I said this my heart burned within me...the fire started small and swelled as I recited the glorious first vision and it was there the entire time until I finished speaking his words. I looked in their eyes as I spoke and I KNEW the spirit was there and testifying to them that this was TRUE! That Joseph saw God the Father and His Son! I knew it was there because I felt it so strongly and I saw in their eyes that they FELT....I stopped and asked, "How do you feel right now?" The spirit was unrestrained and I knew I needed to point out to them what they were feeling....Sean said, "I feel soooo happy!" Seriously the feeling in the room was incredible...so much peace and calm that we just stopped and listened for a minute....then I testified that I KNEW without a doubt that Joseph was a prophet and did indeed receive an answer to his prayers!!!! OH MY GOOFY GUMMIES!!! It was so so great I just can't describe it! We then had an amazing lesson with Sister Taylor about the Law of Tithing...she doesn't like it and is very against having to pay a certain percentage but we testified of personal experiences of blessings of paying tithing and shared scriptures with her like..."blessing being poured out that she would not have room to receive them....when we keep the commandments the Lord doth IMMEDIATELY bless you....PROVE ME HEREWITH!...and I know the Lord commandeth nothing save he shall prepare a way for it to be accomplished.." I looked at her and told her I knew it was hard to understand and believe and trust...and all of a sudden a wave of emotion came over me and I started crying as I told her I KNEW the Lord would bless her if she just trusted and believed! She cried too....she is so great...she's stubborn and knows what is right and what she needs to do...but is just afraid to do them! ; ) But she will be baptized...I know it! = )

This week wasn't all sunshine and happiness...trust me! But it was missionary work! Let me describe my very first lesson: In the ghetto of El Cajon...in a gated apartment building sitting at a table on a dirt mound with bowls of cigarette butts, my investigator sitting in front of me in a bikini top, drinking and rolling tobacco into smokes, with her 4 month old in a baby bouncer on the ground in front of her while she told us how angry she was at God for all of the horrible things that had happened and were happening in her life!!!!!! .....I left that lesson in tears....so much love and sympathy for her...and feeling so helpless....I am a missionary everybody! =)

The Battalion is awesome!!! I love it! I gave my first solo tour on Saturday after having the script for only 2 days. I was the first to do it!!! Lots of people ask me if I am an actress and even say I look like Cinderella or a Disney princess...when they know nothing about me! I love it though! I am there every day at some point so if you come by and I am not...just ask when Sister Riggs will be there!!!

I gotta go! I love love LOVE you all and I love love LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!

Your Servant in the Lord,
Sister Riggs

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sister Riggs Arrives in San Diego

Sister Riggs has left the building!!! (a.k.a. the MTC!) Early on Tuesday morning, July 17, 2012, she flew out of the Salt Lake City airport to San Diego, California, where she will serve for the remainder of her mission. She was greeted by her mission president and his wife, President and Sister Clayton. Here is a photo of all the newest missionaries in the San Diego Mission!
Because Sister Riggs was traveling last week, we did not receive an email. So in lieu of a weekly letter, we have a few fun photos to share with you! Her last week in the MTC she got to train at Temple Square. Ralynne's sister, LaDawn, happened to be in SLC that week and was able to "run into" Sister Riggs and listen to a wonderful message she had to share about the gospel! LaDawn said Sister Riggs was just beaming with the spirit!

 Sister Riggs is already busy at the Mormon Battalion. This photo was sent to us from one of her visitors there.
She looks pretty good as a pioneer, don't ya think?! Last but not least, below is a photo of her and Sister Rasmussen (one of her roommates in the MTC), in their Mormon Battalion costumes.
We look forward to her next email are we are so excited for her and can't wait to hear about all of her adventures in San Diego!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Double the letters, double the fun!‏

Hello Family,
Well, today has been a very emotional day for me and quite a sad one. I just said goodbye to my dear friend I told you about earlier this week who had a seizure. She was sent home from her mission today. She has to have 6 months of no seizures to be able to come back and doesn't know right now that she will. My heart is seriously broken for her....I can't even hold back the tears now as I type. I am struggling for understanding right now....it had been 3 years since her last seizure, she was prompted to go on a mission and she followed the spirit...she prayed so hard to be able to get through her mission without any seizures and 2 weeks into it she had one...even though it was less than a minute long, they said there are no exceptions, and she had to return home. Sister Kunz is my hero...she has been so incredibly strong today and I think I was crying more than she was! She fasted and prayed all day yesterday, and said that whatever happens happens, and if she was going to be sent home then there must be a reason. There are many missionaries who come here because they are told to or because it is expected, but she came because Heavenly Father prompted her to. She wanted to be here more than anything. She said they would have to pull her by the hair to get her to leave! I hugged her so tight and told her that I admired her so much. Her strength, her testimony, her trust in Heavenly Father. I told her that we know we are here to be proven and to see if we will do all that the Lord asks of us, and she did. If anything she has proven her faith in the Lord and His plan for her. He knows He can trust her. I told her how much I had seen her grow in just 3 and a 1/2 weeks and how I KNEW she was going to change her family's lives when she got back because of the knowledge and testimonies she had gained here. The Lord must have needed her to experience the MTC and all that has happened here for a reason. I told her how thankful I was for the day that I got to spend talking with her while she recovered from the seizure and how I knew we were going to be friends forever and considered myself lucky to have met such an amazingly strong woman. We laughed and quoted some of our favorite lines from "Friends" and we all put our Pioneer dresses on and walked around the MTC and took pictures by the Joseph Smith statue, so that she could get a little Mormon Battalion experience...since she won't be headed there with us on Tuesday. Again, I couldn't believe her strength. She was smiling. She said she'd come see us at the Battalion. We took a picture in front of the map of the world and instead of pointing to San Diego...she stretched her arms out and said..."the whole world is my mission now!" As much as I'd like to think I'd be that positive...I can't imagine I would be. I know I shouldn't share the hard parts of my mission...but this is all that's on my mind right now...and I felt I should tell the world of this amazingly strong and faithful Sister. Please say a prayer for her today....while she hid her hurt, I know if I were in her shoes...the next few days would be very hard to handle. So from the bottom of my heart, please pray for her to be comforted.... I know the Lord has a specific plan for her and I KNOW He will bless her for her exceeding faithfulness! Seeing her go through this and being sent home without a choice has made me so incredibly grateful to be here and I feel that I have no right to complain or slacken or waste any minute...and I only want to work harder now, and keep taking care of my health, in honor of her and those who long to be here and serve the Lord, but because of circumstances are unable to. I thank my Heavenly Father daily for this opportunity of a lifetime.
So now that my make-up is smeared all over the place...I will try to tell you a few great things that happened in the past couple of days.
So I started my Visitor's Center training on Wednesday and it all began with a trip up to Salt Lake City to Temple Square. We got to take a little tour and have a guest experience! I LOVED IT!! I usually just walk through Temple Square and don't really do much because it's always so crowded. It had been a long time since I had been inside the exhibits. It was a beautiful, cloudy day. We started by going to the Christus exhibit. It was incredible to walk in those doors and immediately feel the spirit. It was tangible. And as I ascended into the great room with the stars and world all around and stood at the feet of the Christus my heart swelled...it felt so big like it would burst. We talked about what the Savior meant to us. We went to the foot of the Temple and talked about what that meant to us and what it had done for our families and to imagine what it must have been like for the pioneers to have to leave it all behind as they were driven out of their cities. We sat in the old tabernacle where they use to listen to Brigham Young speak and we each bore our testimony of what it meant to us to have a prophet today. It was all so awesome and made me so excited to get to San Diego. Then, we all sat in a room and met the director's of all of the church's visitor's centers and learned about how powerful they are in missionary work and how special and unique we are in being called to serve. They told us lots of awesome things.... Of all the missionaries called to serve, we were the faces the Lord chose to represent His church. Of all the amazing exhibits and videos they have at the Visitor's Centers, we are the best exhibit! We are the one's who can talk with the guests and teach by the spirit and adjust the tour and the messages to their needs!! I never would have thought of that! The church has some pretty amazing exhibits! Also, the Mormon Battalion Site...out of 181 tourist destinations in San Diego, is ranked 4th!!! Even above Sea World!!!! How cool! We're more exciting than Shamoo!!! Ha ha! Oh and crazy random...one of the director's was my Home Teacher and good friend at BYU! Brother Tanner Kay!!! That was crazy to find out! He has the coolest job ever! We also learned that as Visitor's Center sisters we spend some time doing referrals....those awesome cards you fill out at the Temple?? = ) Yeah I call those numbers and take phone call from people who see commercials and what not and want to learn more! We also spend a lot of time teaching the gospel over online chatting...crazy huh? Like when people are researching on Mormon.org and want to know more...they can chat with a missionary! Apparently it is the number one way people discover the gospel and decide to be baptized! Over 1,000 people a day ask to chat with a missionary...and that's after they weed out those who are just playing around. And they are from anywhere in the world!!!! Crazy crazy crazy cool!!!! So here's a thought...in my Patriarchal Blessing it says I will bring strength and comfort to many of my brothers and sisters throughout the world....and when I was called to serve in San Diego I was like...."hmmmm...welp I guess it's not yet." But I was wrong! I really will be teaching and bringing hope and joy and comfort to people ALL OVER THE WORLD!!!! I am sooooooo excited!!! And also! We are some of the first sister missionaries to start being trained in all of this! Wow...I am a Pioneer...literally...lol ; )
So one final super cool story....so we were trained on how to do the chat and everything and my companion and I were really honestly NOT wanting to do it and we were thinking it was so weird and that others must think it is weird to do on-line...but you'll never believe this. So we finished training and had some time so they said..."OK, go online and accept a chat and start teaching." We were like "WHAT?!" As we did my heart started racing and I think all the blood flushed out of my face...I was so nervous....a name popped up... "Michelle" ...we accepted the chat and she said, "Hi, Ralynne how are you today?" And then no joke her next words were, "I am interested in being baptized and was wondering what the steps were, if any, to be able to do that." Sister Madsen and I looked at each other in utter shock and said, "No WAY!!! Yer kidding!!" Ha ha! We thought it was unreal! We asked if she had been able to meet with the missionaries and she said, "No, but I just signed up for them to come to my house and meet with me." Again...YER FULL ON KIDDING!!!! She said she hadn't grown up going to church but that her husband was LDS and they had been going to his parents ward and she didn't ever want to until her husband told her more. She loves the principles she knows about so far, especially that of families being sealed in the temple together forever. She also said she wanted her husband to baptize her and asked what needed to happen for him to be able to do that. Finally, she asked if there was a beginner's study guide to reading The Book of Mormon!!! OH MY GOOFY GUMMIES!!!! Talk about the field being white and ready to harvest!!!! We answered all her questions and I bore my testimony to her of the blessings that will surely come to her and her husband and she keeps following this path and her heart's desires to be baptized! And we also invited her to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon because it explains a lot...and to pray for help to understand as she reads and promised that she'd receive that blessing. We also gave her some links to True to the Faith to read and write down any questions she had! We have another appointment with her on Monday! I flippin love this!!! It was such a testament again that the Lord truly does prepare the hearts and minds of the people....and when they are ready they are ready...and it's our job to find them!!!! Here I come!!!
Pretty amazing!!! You have a huge part in this work as members! You are wonderful examples! You can help the seed be planted! Your example will help spark that desire in people's hearts! And as we read in Alma 32 if they will but "desire" then faith will begin to swell within them...that desire will turn into a seed, that seed will take root, and soon a tree will be bringing forth good fruit!
I love my Father in Heaven, I love His plan and know it truly is for our greatest happiness and joy! This is right and this is true!
All my love! Next time I write you, it will be from San Diego!!! Woo hoo!!! Look out! Here I come!!!
~Sister Riggs

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Chronicles of Sister Riggs

Hello My Dear Family!
       How was everyone's 4th of July?!! I hope you all had a wonderful day celebrating the wonderful freedoms we are blessed to enjoy in this amazing country! I had a pretty normal day, but we did have a neat little program. Some Elders fiddled together some classic American tunes, had a flag ceremony done by 4 brothers with their eldest brother sitting in the audience as a missionary, we had a great talk given about our country, we watched a neat video showing "the truth marching on" all over the world and saw where all of the missionaries are spreading the gospel!!!! At the end we even had bag pipes played as missionaries paraded in carrying the flag of their country and we finished with a narration about the gospel being restored to the earth by Joseph Smith and singing, "Praise to the Man!" It was pretty great! And then we got a treat! We all went outside, were given Magnum Icecream Bars, and got to stand outside and watch the Stadium of Fire fireworks = ) ...I admit I was a little unimpressed and wishing I was at Disney World again watching the greatest fireworks of all...but I went ahead and made it magical...since we couldn't hear the music from the stadium I quietly starting singing, "Wishes, dream a dream, wishes!....And all your wishes will come true!" Lol...it helped bring the magic = )
        I can't believe I have been here at the MTC for 3 weeks already! The weeks fly by and I can hardly believe it! This week has been one of much reflection, with deep spiritual experiences. It has felt like more of a heavy week, but at the same time I have been blessed with greater understanding of things, and spiritually lifting moments.
      One thing I wanted to share was from our fireside we had last Tuesday. It was given by an Emeritus Seventy from Japan. He counseled us to go to your own sacred grove every day. He stressed how important it was and how precious that time is to commune with the Lord daily. He promised that if we would do this...come to the Lord and spend 30 minutes reading the Book of Mormon every day, that our lives would be changed. I felt of his strong conviction as he said this and he spoke through tears. I know there is no greater blessing. Already in the 3 weeks I have been here I have seen the amazing growth and greater knowledge that have come from having an hour of personal study in the morning. That is the first thing we do. We arise and prepare and then spend 1 hour in personal study to start off everyday. I open with prayer and then feast on the words of Christ. As I have done this I have received personal revelation for my life and work as a missionary, and the spirit is immediately with me and a part of my day. So I just wanted to share that and challenge you to find time to commune with the Lord every day, and see if this promise is not true!
       We had In-Field Orientation on Thursday and spent the entire day in workshops learning more about having faith that the Lord will help his work be accomplished through us as we fulfill our callings, making goals daily and weekly and then making plans to accomplish those goals, and learning how important it will be to work with the members in the areas we are placed in. It was fun and they made it very theatrical = )
       We had an amazing lesson on Saturday night and I just wanted to share it with you because I know many of you could do the same activity and grow and learn so much, even as I did. Our teacher had us close our eyes and imagine our lives in 20 years. I envisioned my family I would have, their ages, their personalities. I envisioned us interacting in our home and felt the feeling of love that would be there. I saw us sitting around the dinner table talking and laughing, and me looking across the table at my husband whom I would love more than I knew was possible. I thought about what I would want him to think of me. I thought about how I would want my children to feel about their mother. Thoughts came to mind of the kind of woman I would want to be then, and how and what qualities I would want to be known about me by friends and family...it was a happy vision.Then he had us pull out our Patriarchal Blessings and read through them and write down any thoughts or impressions we'd have. I decided to make 3 categories on my paper. I made a list of "What I've Done" "Work I have to do" and "Gifts/Blessings" ....I barely had room left on my paper when I was done! We then wrote down things in our lives that might be keeping us from becoming or accomplishing those things. We walked out to the front of the MTC where we could look out over the mountains. We sang "O My Father" ...the feeling that swelled within my heart could not be contained as we sang "For a wise and glorious purpose thou hast sent me hear to earth" and the tears began to flow as I sang the final verse about returning to our Father and Mother after I have accomplished all they sent me here to do....I felt my chest was going to burst. On our way back, we discarded the paper with the things that were holding us back and then we sat and made a list of 10 things we wanted to become. This was such an amazing experience and it was a way I could unveil and seek revelation for my life's mission. Try it! It will bless your life!!!
       Allow me to share an experience I had this week...we had a lot of unexpected things happen on Thursday last week...one of the Sisters in my district went into a seizure in the middle of class as we were practicing teaching. She is doing great now and no harm came to her during it, and it was luckily pretty short...probably only about a minute. But it shook up the class. Many, including myself, had never seen one before. As we waited for the EMT to come, we tried to talk to her and just get a confirmation from her that she was OK...she wouldn't talk and she just buried her hands in her face and started to sob. Her companion knew nothing of her taking medication or even having a history of it...so we assumed that meant it was something she didn't like to share with people. Our class knelt in prayer on her behalf and then we watched our teacher was prompted to share on the Atonement and how our burdens are lifted through them. The 3 of us sisters had to rotate "watches" because she had to be back in the room and rest. I went in to swap with another sister and I had not been in there 5 minutes and I looked over and saw her looking my way and she weakly said, "Hello....I'm sorry you have to stay in here with me." I said, "Hun don't you even worry about that, I am happy to be here and I am here for you...whatever you need, even if you just wanna talk it out..." I saw a look come over her face and she just began to cry as she said, "I'm so mad! I hate this so much!" I crawled up on her bed with her and offered my shoulder for comfort and she cried...she then asked, "Do you get really sick sometimes with what you have? (referring to my diabetes)" In that moment I was grateful...I was grateful that because of my diabetes and experiences I had....especially similar feelings of frustration and hating it...that I could relate to this Sister, that she trusted me and opened up because she knew I had something I had to deal with every day too, and that I could comfort her. We talked for a long time about how it all first started for her and her terrible experiences in losing all of her friends in high school....sitting alone at lunch...and even her own brother not talking to her at school...because once she seized in school everyone saw her differently and treated her differently...and she was abandoned. She didn't know how she could go back to class and she was so embarrassed. I talked with her about similar feelings I had...things I had learned through my trials with health....we related on many levels. She was so upset though because she said it had been 3 yrs since she last had a seizure and she was praying so hard that she would get through her mission without one and she was even praying in the moment because she felt it coming on..and it came anyway...so she felt she wasn't answered. I said, now wait a minute...you mentioned to me that usually your seizures lasted an hour...the one you just had was maybe a minute long if that...I think your prayer was answered...most definitely...maybe not in the way you wanted but I am sure that the Lord had a hand in the fact that it was so short. I told her that maybe that moment and what we experienced as a class after may have been a moment someone else needed...testimonies were built and strengthened that morning without a doubt. She agreed that OK, maybe there was a purpose for that. I shared with her the testimony I had gained...I shared with her how the blessing I received before coming on my mission told me that my diabetes was not by accident, and that Heavenly Father knew what I needed to make me perfect. I told her the same went for her....that because of this physical trial, she would be able to feel and understand others pains...that the Lord knew what she needed to make her the best instrument in His hands. I testified of how these trials brought me closer to the Lord and helped me understand intimately the Atonement, and how I was comforted in knowing there was at least one who knew what I was going through, when other eyes couldn't see it or my heart. We talked for probably an hour and went from tears of sorrow to tears of joy and laughter. I shared with her John 14:18 and she smiled and said thank you.....not 5 minutes after that another sister came to me and asked if she could talk to me about something....I said of course...long story short she was seeking comfort and advice about how to know when she needs to repent of something and her fears of doing so. Again, I was able to relate and teach of the things I had learned and testify of the cleansing and healing power of the Atonement. Then again that afternoon I was teaching a less active couple. The wife had gone blind and deaf in her left ear. She told me of how upset she was when that all happened to her because she was a floral designer and painter...creating beautiful things was her passion. I was able to testify of the seemingly small trial of diabetes and the questions that brought me and how I didn't understand. I then read with her 3 Nephi 17: 7 ....and testified of the healing that comes through our Savior Jesus Christ. That He understands all things and there is a purpose for all things...
     This day made me rejoice in my heart to my Father in Heaven for all things He has blessed me with and all the trials I had been through in my life because on this one single day, I was able to bear testimony of the Atonement and my Savior three times. Because of my diabetes, because of my heartache, because I had been there and back, I was able to comfort and lift others. In this one day...I literally felt like Heavenly Father was carrying me around from heart to heart and using me as his tool to patch up a few heartaches and bring understanding and turn hearts to the Savior and a loving Heavenly Father. It literally left me with nothing but a heart full of gratitude and I cry with Nephi in saying, "Oh how great is the plan of our God!"
      I hope you are all well and I hope you all keep your eyes towards your Heavenly Father..He will work good in your life and bless you with all righteous desires as you do all you can to walk his path and do what is right. Just always look to Him.
    I had so much more I wanted to share but time does not allow. I have completed my 3 weeks of official training and tomorrow I start my Visitor's Center training  with a visit to Temple Square!! It is going to be a crazy week of new adventures!!!
Until then!
All my love!
Sister Riggs
~ I will be able to write again on Friday so check your emails! = ) XOXO!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sister Riggs' Adventures!‏

My Dear Family,
       Wow! I can't believe it has been two weeks....time here just seems to fly and drag and just not matter here...ha ha, I am always wondering what day of the week it is because they all blend together! Days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days. I overheard an Elder say, "This has been the longest, fastest day of my life." I thought, "Amen!"
      I seriously can't believe how much I learn here in just a day....the knowledge I am gaining is so vast it sinceriously blows my mind every day! I LOVE IT!! I love knowing I am learning and growing in so many ways I never would have, had I never made the decision to come on a mission! I was sitting in our Sunday night fireside and looking around, looking down at my notebook which is already almost full and just feeling so grateful for the Lord allowing me to be in such a position. It's AWESOME!!!
     This week I literally sat down and made an outline of what I would put in my letter before starting my thirty minutes to write! lol...I just learn and experience SO MUCH! It's like Lehi tasting of the fruit of the tree of life and immediately wanting to share it!...In other words...I've eaten cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory and everybody just HAS to have some! You will never be the same again! ; ) I just want to share all that I am learning and experiencing because I am blown away at how it is changing my life and know it would help everyone to learn of these things. But I guess that is a special privilege I have in being a missionary for the Lord! Yay! = )
   OK so last Tuesday I had an honorable experience that will probably never be repeated in my lifetime. I was in a special MTC Fireside with ten of the twelve apostles!!!! That's right...I said ten! Everyone was there except Pres. Packer and Elder Hale. I couldn't believe my eyes as they kept filing in to take place on the stand....so many brethren I love with all my heart and so many that I wanted to throw my arms around and cry in gratitude for words they had spoken that saved me in times of despair....I also just kept looking at them wondering, "Which one of you had a hand in making my mission call???" The spirit was so strong though...and I was in the 9th row only about 50 feet away from them all! WOW!!! These are Apostles of the Lord...who each have a special witness of Jesus Christ! ....meaning they know him personally and have seen him...and here they were, taking an hour out of their busy schedules to spend with the Lord's missionaries in training! This only happens maybe once out of every year, and I was there!!!! Boy the Lord sure loves His missionaries to bless us with such an incredible opportunity! I will never forget it! L. Tom Perry spoke to us that night about many statistics of Latter-Day-Saints and how they compared to that of the world....for example - LDS women live 5 years longer and LDS men live 10 years longer compared to the age of death of men and women in the world. We are 41% less likely to have clogged arteries because we fast once a month...and many more very interesting things about how we are happier and more content with life, healthier, how about 80 to 90% view having a successful marriage and being good parents as their main and most precious goals in life when the world is less than 40%. So interesting. As Elder Scott left he waved to us and Elder Holland blew us a kiss.....I was just in awe....the best part though...was standing with about 2,000 young missionaries preparing to serve the Lord, and with the grand organ playing, and singing "Called To Serve" in front of the Apostles who extended our calls and received revelation on our behalf and in front of men who were also called by God to serve 24/7 and help build his Kingdom. Our Branch President said that as we serve as a missionary, our call is hand in hand with that of an apostle. Never will we work more closely, or in a sense, along side them, as we do now! Oh my goofy gummies!!!! SO COOL!!!
  So funny story, I read my first letter from my Branch President and he counseled me to put my trust in the Lord and said to see Proverbs 3:5 ...so I looked up the scripture and read "I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me." I turned to my companion and said, "I don't get it." With a very confused face. She laughed and said, "Really? It's a pretty straight forward scripture...I then looked and saw I was in Psalms 3:5...lol.We all laughed so hard! I thought well, it's true though! I have never been so tired in all my life and the Lord is TOTALLY sustaining me through my days! Ha ha...so I wrote a thank you to my President and said, "I know I can trust the Lord, and I know that he sustains me...see Psalms 3:5." ; )
  I absolutely LOVE my Branch President...he has so much love for the Lord, for the work, and for us! I wish I could have all that he has said to me on paper or recording because when he speaks and teaches he speaks with the Power of God! I want to share one thing he shared with the Sisters on Sunday...he reminded us of who we are...our incredible worth...that we truly were the crowning jewel of all of Heavenly Father's creations. He said he felt prompted to tell us that our Heavenly Father loves us deeply and is so pleased with out decision to serve. He said as Sisters we are incredible...that we are often in the prime years of our lives and have many things going for us in our schooling and relationships and careers, and for us to give all of that up and put it all on hold without any obligation or expectation for us to serve missions....is a remarkable thing. That Sister Missionaries are one of the greatest blessings for the work...That mission presidents call SLC and ask for them.....the most incredible thing that he said though was how what we have done says so much about our character and that we are among the noblest of women...even as the most holy daughter of God who answered a call that cam to her...even Mary when she said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word." When he said that tingles went all through my body...and I heard the voice of my sister singing that scripture as she did when she sang the part of Mary......WOW! Again, I never would have compared myself or thought that I could be that great!
Oh dear...my time is up already and I have not even written half of what I wanted to...so quickly....teaching with my investigators this week has been full of ups and downs and it is amazing how much the Lord humbles me every day and shows me my weakness, but it is also amazing how many times I have felt the Spirit testifying, how many times I felt prompted to say something and saw tears come to the eyes of those I was teaching....I may not know these people very well, and they may not be telling me everything that lies within their heart, but what is ALWAYS true is that our Heavenly Father knows and loves each and every one of his children and He knows EXACTLY what they need to lift their hearts and bless their lives if their heart is but open to it, and if I fulfill my call and follow the promptings I am given and trust in the Lord with all my heart and believe He will give me the words to say! He did that countless times this week! Sister Madsen and I committed our investigator Ryan to Baptism on our 3rd visit!!! We both went in after having a really hard day and feeling we were going to fail and had no clue what we would teach...we thought 2 or 3 things but didn't feel sure...somehow the Lord guided our conversation to the Atonement and Baptism by immersion....the opportunity Ryan had, because of the Atonement, to be lay his past and regrets and everything he wanted to erase, to death...and to rise up out of the water completely new...having a fresh new start....and a chance to become everything he ever wanted to be. As I testified of the Atonement and being able to erase the past....tears filled my eyes and my body began to shake as I testified of what the Atonement had done for me...and all I wanted in that moment was for Ryan to have that chance...my heart was full of love for him and all I could do was pray he would take the step of faith. He had tears in his eyes as he looked at me and said, "I want to be baptized. It's time for a change." AAHHHHHH!!!!!! I could not believe it! We walked back into class in tears and everyone asked, "How'd it go?" and we said, "He's getting baptized!!!!" They were all in SHOCK because no one had gotten anywhere with him! Our teacher kept us after and said, "That is what Ryan has been waiting to hear all his life...." Oh how great and how sweet is the work!!! So many more stories but I am already over time!
I quickly have to tell you I have become a celebrity in the MTC! I auditioned and was asked to sing at the Mission Conference on Sunday...it is basically like our own little General Conference....the biggest and most spiritual meeting of the whole month in which all the missionaries and the presidencies and leaders attend! I couldn't believe they had asked me to sing and I was so nervous! I knew they were going to put my face on the big screen and everything and it was nerve-racking to sing in front of all of my peers! But WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! I sang "Still Believe" by Hilary Weeks and I couldn't believe it because it was the only song my accompanist could play and I felt the spirit strongest as iIsang it so that's what I auditioned with. The first two talks before I sang were all about testimony and faith in Jesus Christ and having faith even as tiny as a mustard seed and what miracles that can create...the song was absolutely perfect to follow that....I couldn't believe it...even those who picked me to sing didn't know the topics...but the Lord did...the song went great and the Lord helped me get through it. I spent the rest of Sunday saying thank you to all the compliments and taking pictures with people...and it still hasn't stopped...I am recognized all over and people call my name and I am like, "How do they know me?!" So many thanked me and told me how strong they felt the spirit, that it was a long awaited answer to prayer, that they clearly heard the voice of the Lord speak to them, that as beautiful as my voice was, the testimony that I was bearing through the song was even more beautiful and powerful....I was truly honored, and humbled to know that the Lord had indeed blessed me with a gift, and with an amazing opportunity to be an instrument in his hands!!! I think I got a glimpse of what it must have been like for David Archuletta to be in the MTC!!! ; ) Haha...it is too funny...but I guess Sister Riggs has left her mark!!! ; ) They want me to sing again before I leave so hopefully that will happen = )
OK I am way over my time and hope I don't get in trouble but I LOVE You all so much! Thank you for the letters! It is seriously like Christmas when they come and so sad when everyone else gets some and your like, "What about me? " (pouty face) But I love hearing from you and it is such a booster you have no idea!!!
I know this is the Lord's work...when I am my weakest and think it impossible, he proceeds to perform miracles...in my testimony on Sunday I bore witness of D&C 1:19...it is the truth...I am small and weak....but with the Lord and the Spirit I can have the power to teach Kings and Rulers!!!
Oh I LOVE THIS!!!! Go and do my friends....go and DO!!!!
All my Love!
Sister Riggs!