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,