Hello Dear Ones!
Happy Birthday from Aunt Ralynne to my sweetie pie Lily yesterday! Can't believe she is 5! This is getting crazy! I love love you so much and am so lucky to be the aunt of someone so darn adorable!
This week has been an interesting one. It kind of ended weird because my poor little companion got sick with Strep Throat!!! She was in denial about being sick for a couple of days and then I said, "You better stop being in denial and call the nurse before it gets worse and then you're REALLY sorry!" We then thought she had influenza, but noticed nothing was getting better even with rest and medicine. I looked in her throat with a flashlight and said, "Honey! You got strep throat!" So....miracle that I have not gotten sick? Yes indeed! The Lord knows I have some things to sing at and He is keeping me healthy! But I played "mom" all weekend...makin' pancakes and soup and applesauce and Theraflu and making her rest and drink tons of water....those were the only things she could get down without it hurting her throat too much. She is still not so good today...but on the mend.
Last week on preparation day we went to Sunset Cliffs! It's a place right next to the ocean we are allowed to go to because it is rock and not sand and boy did I have a blast! We took TONS of pictures and caught little crabs....my companion got one and passed it over for me to hold (little ones so they don't hurt if they pinch you) and it was so creepy!....But kinda cool.....sad thing was the next day I ate a stuffed crab at a Chinese buffet and was feelin' real bad! = / But to feel the sea breeze and be in such a beautiful place was just what I needed. I felt so peaceful and free! AND...Sister Riggs' favorite thing....I saw dolphins in the wild!!!! Just too awesome.
Later that night all of our appointments cancelled and fell through and I said a prayer with Sister Tanner and asked Heavenly Father to help us see a miracle before the night was over. We went to contact a referral we had gotten but it was in a gated apartment complex and we didn't know what apartment number she was so we couldn't buzz her, and her name wasn't listed anywhere. We stood there staring at the names for a minute...looking very confused. Then went back to the car to double check the name and address and came back and stared at the list again...a kind man came to the gate and opened it and asked, "Would you like to come in?" We laughed at how ridiculous we probably looked to this man and thanked him. We told him who we were looking for and he said we could ask the manager...but it was after hours and we didn't want to disturb anyone and it was just minutes away from the time we are required to head back home. We decided we'd come back. This man walked with us to our car cause he was meeting some people down the street and he asked, "So are you from some organization or something?" Poor guy! We were so focused on finding this referral we forgot to be missionary minded to ALL we met!! I introduced us and told him of the message we shared and asked if he'd be interested in us coming by to teach him and his family. He is from Baghdad and is an American citizen now and has his mom, wife and two young toddlers and he said he would love that. We got his info and he said he'd look forward to meeting with us. All this happened between 8:25 and 8:30....right when we have to go back home! MIRACLE! We were meant to meet Sammy that night...and Heavenly Father answered my prayer and we DID see a miracle before the end of the night....JUST before...in the last minutes we could! I love Heavenly Father!
We taught another lesson to Kim and Tashyanna this week (they should be getting baptized next week). I love these two women to death. Kim has some of the greatest faith I have ever seen! We taught them the Word of Wisdom over dinner and Kim was drinking tea with her dinner. We were helping Tashyanna remember the five specific things we don't partake of, and she couldn't remember them all. To help her, Kim lifted up her glass of tea....then she got up and went over to the sink and said, "I guess I better pour this down the drain," and she proceeded to do so...I laughed and told her how awesome she was and how much I loved her and her faith. She said, "If that's what I gotta do then I'll do it!" It was so awesome to see! I LOVE helping people change their lives for the better!
So remember after my first week in the field how I wrote about my first lesson? In the ghetto? With a lady who was drinking and rolling dubies with her 4-month-old in front of her and her blaming God for all the unhappiness in her life? Well...we hadn't seen her since...and we stopped by to share a message with her and teach her about faith. It was one of the most heartbreaking experiences on my mission so far....so sad to see how hardened some people's hearts are....the spirit could not be there...she wouldn't let us get a word in....probably for fear that she might feel something. She was so agitated and unfeeling as she spoke that her baby began to whimper throughout the whole thing...and her little girl...probably around 5 or 6...was just laying in her room on her bed just staring out at us with the most heartbreaking look on her face. I wished so much that I could hold her and tell her she had a Savior who loved her so much. My heart broke as I thought of the neglect they get and what awful things they must witness in that apartment with a mother who is addicted to drugs and hates God and wishes she could have a second to herself. We tried to invite her to pray and she went off about how she didn't have time to and how there was no point because there are things that God just won't interfere with and basically that he wasn't gonna help her with a thing. She went on and on....my companion looked at me and whispered, "Let's just say a prayer and go." We tried to get a testimony out and she looked more and more agitated...I read Matt 11:28 ?? I think that's right..."Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest..." She laughed haughtily and said, "Well that's an interesting scripture." We prayed and left...I wanted to run from that place....My chest swelled up inside of me as we walked back to the car and I just started crying....It broke my heart to hear someone speak of my Heavenly Father and Savior in such a way...and my heart broke for those sweet innocent children...a situation I was helpless in....I walked away from that experience with a heart full of gratitude to my Father in Heaven. I KNOW He knows me and every need that I have...every situation I am in whether temporal or spiritual....and He DOES interfere and can. His hand is in everything. We have to have FAITH in Him. It says in the scriptures that if miracles have ceased it is because of your own disbelief! We must have faith in Christ and believe in him and his promises. And having faith leads to mental or physical action....I said a prayer of gratitude for the knowledge that my Heavenly Father loves me and that even in hard times, I know he would never ever leave me and He never ever stops caring about me no matter what happens. This is true for each and every one of you. You are precious in His sight no matter how far away you may have strayed. He is there. I KNOW this. I am forever indebted to a loving Father and Savior, Jesus Christ, who make it possible to have hope in this world that we live in!
I had an opportunity to sing at the Mission President's Fireside on Sunday of this very thing! I sang "He'll Carry You" ...a beautiful song about the Atonement and the spirit in the room was very strong and there were many tears. I love that the Lord gives me so many opportunities to bear my testimony in every word I sing. He does know my heart, and my pain...and when there are things in my life only my heart knows and no eyes can see...He does take my heavy load, lifts it, and carries me through. I know this to be true with ALL of my heart....and He will do the same for you....TRUST in Him...John 14:18.
I love you alll sooo sooo much! Don't give up on the Lord...He never gives up on you!