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!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Marvelously Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas My Dear Family and Friends,
I can hardly believe it has come and gone....but what a wonderful week it has been....CRAZY, but wonderful! We had our San Diego Mission Christmas Party and it was so wonderful to hear from our Mission President and see all of the miracles that have happened as we have served throughout the year. My Christmas Concert at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site went great and I know the Lord made some miracles happen! All of the audio and visual mechanics went smoothly and luckily there were some computer guru's present to make it all work. Over 250 people were able to listen in...even from the hallway, and over 100 were turned away because there just wasn't enough space to hold them. Even my mission president and his wife were there in the second row with camcorder and camera in hand and beaming faces throughout the hour! I was truly honored. The Lord sustained me and the spirit lead...I didn't have a heart attack from directing and performing the entire program, and I was somehow able to remember all my words even though as some of the songs started I was drawing a blank! Ha ha...but all I wanted was for people to feel the spirit and the love of Christ for them, and for their testimony and gratitude for the Savior to grow. Many compliments of gratitude were given and I am so thankful the Spirit was there and able to touch so many hearts. I love my Father in Heaven so much and will forever be grateful for the gift of music and for the voice He blessed me with. I love using it for Him! I attached a picture of me with my companion, Sister Hudson, after the concert = ) Wish you all could have been there!
With all of the joy of the Christmas Spirit, I am sad to see the week end! This has to be one of the best Christmas's yet...one that I won't forget. Once we were out and about, our morning started with stopping at the gas station...while we were there I spotted a homeless man walking with his shopping cart and noticed he had a bag of recycling...I called him over and pulled out of our trunk a garbage bag full of recycling we had been saving and gave it to him, along with a pack of gum my sister had sent me, and wished him a Merry Christmas and testified to him that he was never alone and has a Heavenly Father who loves him! After that I felt so happy I just wanted to go to Jack-In-The-Box and buy like 50 $0.99 Breakfast Jacks and go pass them out with a water bottle to the homeless...there are so many here, you see them every other block! We went to one of our recent convert families though, with bread, milk, eggs, and bacon in hand, to go and make breakfast with them for Christmas morning...they had planned since Thanksgiving to have us over and they told us Sunday that because they paid their full-tithing, they couldn't buy the food they needed for breakfast, but we could have eggs. We told them we'd be there anyway and came bearing gifts! The first thing the wife said when we walked in was, "I'm so glad you sisters are here to share Christmas with us. You are like family...can I tell you about all of the blessings we've had?!" They are so amazing and I have never seen such great faith and desire to follow the Lord...even when things are so hard for them...He asks, and they do! Calling home was such  a treat...and so weird to hear my family's voices! I loved talking to them all about the latest...but what was truly a Christmas gift to me was hearing about the blessings they are receiving, and hearing them tell me from the bottom of their hearts how proud they are of me and how thankful they are for me serving a mission....what sweet feelings that brings...it's indescribable, but I am so thankful to be here and to serve, not only for the Lord, but for them. I then had dinner with the Bishop's family and they gave us a special ornament with the San Diego Temple on it. Such a thoughtful gift. We then spent the evening going and caroling to investigators and a recent convert family and brought cupcakes, gingerbread cookies, carols, and a message of Christmas to them. I could have done that all night! It was just so wonderful to serve and testify of Jesus Christ's birth while bearing His name and representing Him. This year, one big reason why I am thankful Jesus Christ was born is because since He was born, He established His church, and since He did that, it had the opportunity to be restored, and because it was, I have the chance to be here with about 200 others in San Diego. In the presence of all of them on Saturday, I felt such gratitude, power, and spirit. There's just something about being with so many who are set apart as servants of the Lord, given the missionary mantle and spirit! If Christ had not come, I would not be here, I would not have the chance to be a missionary and to see so many lives change as they discover the gospel, and to see their eyes light up and smiles come across their weary faces, and I would have no real message of hope to bring. I am so thankful!
On Christmas Day I finished my "Spirit of Christ Journal" ...25 ways I am thankful or saw and felt His love...what a blessed month I have had in remember that...my 25th reason...after talking to my family on the phone and feeling my heart ache for them was this: I'm so thankful for the birth of Jesus Christ because had he not stepped forward and presented His plan and accepted the call of being our Savior, I would not have been able to come here and would not have been blessed with my sweet and amazing family that I have today. I love them so much, and because of Jesus Christ's life, I can be with them forever....if we all do our best here and follow Him, I will never have to ache for them because we'll be together...and that is all I want!
I love my Savior! Joy to the world! My Lord has come! May my life be an anthem of praise to my king!
I love you all and thank you ever so deeply for your prayers, your thoughts, your love, you letters, your packages...for being you!
Hope you have a wonderful rest of this holiday week! Get the new year started off right!
I hope to have some Golden Birthday Miracles to report next week...I'm mustering all of my faith for them!
All my love and hopes for your happiness!
Sister Riggs

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Loving the Spirit of Christ!

Hello Dear Family,
Well it has been an eventful week full of teaching the gospel and celebrating the spirit of Christmas by telling people of Christ! There is no greater time to be a missionary! We've been teaching, had Zone Conference, our ward Christmas party....I saw Santaaaaa!!!! The youth sang songs for the program and I got asked by two of them to sing a couple of duets with them...."Silent Night" and "Breath of Heaven." What was really neat was that I thought to call a sweet family that Sister Tanner and I street contacted like 2 or 3 months ago, and they came to the party! She is is devout Christian but she had asked us to let her know when things were happening at the church. I have called and invited her before and she hasn't come, but she came with her 2 kids to the party! They had a great time and she was more willing to let us come to her home to share a message...oh and her daughter wants to be a singer = ) So she is excited that I will be coming by and singing some songs with her! = ) Heavenly Father knows what He is doing!!!
The miracles that have happened for me this week have been very personal for me...I have literally felt and seen Heavenly Father answering personal pleas and sending me comfort. And as I have been studying the New Testament...through the power of the spirit I have been learning and understanding more about my Savior and His life, how He did missionary work...most importantly, what He suffered. So I will just share a miracle of an answered prayer...well several answered prayers...or concern of mine....we had dinner with a member whom I love...had the chance to teach her boyfriend and see him baptized! With what was weighing on me a bit and with what she had on her mind and opened up about experiences in her life...(sorry I do not want to share the personal things we shared) she looked me in the eye, and testified to me almost word for word the exact impression that came to my mind years ago at a point in my life when I had asked the Lord why? Why something was happening in my life that I didn't understand and wanted to so badly....I cried as I felt that confirmation and reassurance come that what He had told me then was true. I was in awe and so grateful for the love He showed me that night through this sweet member and I know that it is all right and good. Miracle!
Like I said, I have been studying the four gospels and my studies are becoming so sacred I actually say in my prayer before I begin, "Please help my mind and heart to be ready for what I am about to read." It is very heartbreaking to read about the cruelty my dear Savior was treated with...and I can just and will never understand how the people were even able to bring themselves to do such things, I have learned so much, but just this morning I had this thought I wanted to share: I was reading in Mark 15:21 and noticed in both of the accounts from Matthew and Mark, in one verse they mention Simon, a Cyrenian, who was passing by, had 2 sons, and was compelled to carry Christ's cross to Golgatha. I just thought, "What man this must have been?" Who was he? What was his life like? I imagine the Savior felt so much love for him as he helped bear the burden of that walk....Christ had already been through so much...who knows if he did have to carry his cross all the way there, if he would have made it. That couldn't have been easy to do...but I wonder if Simon felt the honor of that...if he knew what he was doing, who he was helping....and as I thought further...at least to my knowledge...that is the one time, through the whole process of the Atonement and Crucifixion that Christ is helped...that His burden is lifted just a little....that His suffering didn't have to be as much as it would have been had He had to carry His cross....I love this man Simon for what he did....there is no record of how he felt about it....just that he was "compelled"...so it may not have been willingly...but he did it...and what his sons Alexander and Rufus must have felt as they saw their father do that...I wonder....
I love my Savior. I love bearing His name and doing all I can to bring Him honor every day. I pray all of your Holidays are blessed and Happy! Remember the whole reason we have this special time of year is because of the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ...whom the Father gave "silently, how silently" ....and the gift our Savior gave to us "silently, how silently" as He "held his peace and opened not his mouth..." even though He had every right to...and could have done so easily.
Share His Spirit with others...it is the best gift we can give to Him and to our brothers and sister throughout the world!!
I love you all so much! Thanks for all your love and prayers and letters of encouragement!!! They mean the world to me!
Merry Christmas!!! Can't wait to talk to the Family on the phone!!!!!! Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!
Love you forever!
Sister Riggs

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tis the Season for Christmas Miracles!

Hark Dear Angels!
I hope you are all well and happy and loving those Christmas lights in the neighborhood and favorite jingles on the Christmas station and seeing so many family and friends. Give a hug and a kiss from me when you're together. I sure can't believe how much I miss everyone!
3 Great Stories for you this week:
So remember Myra? Our awesome investigator we met on the street? Well, she lives in a half-way house (for people and families who are struggling and need a place to stay until they get back on their feet)...and through meeting her...we met Thelma...a wonderful and faithful woman who loves the Lord and is reading the Book of Mormon and is past page 60 in one week! I have never seen someone so grateful to receive The Book of Mormon before. She grabbed Myra's hand and got so excited (a lady in her 60's) and started praisin' Jesus. When we gave it to her to clapped her hands together, kissed it, and held it to her chest! (Wow! Are we all as grateful to have this amazing blessing in our life?) So, we are teaching her too. The other night though, we were having a lesson with Myra and one of the other residents, a 14 year old girl named Christina, asked, "Are you from the Mormon Church?" We told her who we were and what we teach about and she said, "Yeah I went to church a couple of times and learned a little back in Chicago." My companion and I looked at each other excitedly. I asked her if she had ever read the Book of Mormon and she said, "Yeah I have one, just a sec I'll get it." We looked at each other wide eyed and then she came back in the room with a full on quad with all the books in it like we have! What?! We were speechless! We asked her if she would like to learn and she said yes. We have started teaching her and I have never seen so much faith in one so young. She even serves her community in a program called Dare to Care, and even though she lives in one bedroom with her two little brothers and mom, she prays in her prayers for those who don't have much to be able to have at least as much as she has...wow...what a spiritual giant! She loves the scriptures and gets them. When we taught her the Plan of Salvation and asked her if she knew she would have a perfect body someday because of what Christ did for us all she said, "I had a hunch." ha ha! When we taught her about enduring to the end she said, "Kinda like Job right?" And recounted his story. I walked out of there in total shock! She just fell right into our laps! She said she wants to get baptized but her mom wants them all to be baptized in the same church....sooo...hopefully we'll have a family baptism in the Lord's time = ) Too cool! The Lord loves us!
Sunday night was a sacred experience. We left the Stake Christmas concert and tried a couple doors and then I thought...so casually...let's go see the Chavez family...Bishop asked us to, and it's Sunday night so they should be home (they are members but are going through quite a lot right now). I prayed before we went that the feeling to go was from the Lord and that we would be needed. We knocked on the door and Sister Chavez looked through the window of their little apartment and had an expressionless look...not very excited we were there...and then she opened the door and asked, "Yes? What can I do for you?" We just said hello and that we came by to share a little message about Christmas with her family. She said she was sorry but she was on the phone and had a lot of stuff going on and to do....we said something to the effect that we were sorry there was so much happening and that was why we wanted to come by...to bring some love. She said, "yeah I'm sorry." I looked at her and said. "Well, can I just give you a hug?" I gave her a good one = ) And then Sister Hudson said, "We just want you to know your Heavenly Father loves you and appreciates all that you are doing to help in the ward and everything." As we did this....her hands came to her face and she just began to weep. We stood with her and let her cry and she started to tell us all that had happened just in that one day and everything she was trying to be strong about, and all that people were demanding of her that was making her feel like she wasn't doing enough when she herself is in the middle of many storms and she was feeling like nobody cared, and wondering if anyone stopped to think about that and maybe offer a helping hand. She then let us in to share a thought of hope. We shared a Mormon message video with her about good things to come and the Lord being there in the times we feel he's not and ask, "Do you know I'm having a hard time?" As she talked and then began to testify herself of her trials and how she knows the Lord carries her...I asked if I could sing one of my favorite songs about the Atonement and enduring trials..."He'll Carry You." As we knelt to say a closing prayer Sister Chavez told us...when I saw you at the door I thought you were coming to ask me if I could do something for so and so... (she is in the Young Women's Presidency...part of why she is feeling so stressed with people asking her to do so much)...but when you said you were here for me....the feeling in my heart that came, I felt like I couldn't contain....because I was praying...I was crying and praying for Heavenly Father to know what I was doing was enough...to know if He was there and was aware of all this turmoil in her life and to feel His love.....and that is when you Sisters knocked on the door." She began to cry again and said, "I couldn't believe it...but I knew the Lord heard my cry." I then cried..ha...there were lots of tears....because the thought to go there came as easily as the thought to brush my teeth! I was able to share a thought I read in my personal study that day that touched her heart....the Lord totally prepared us to be there that night and in that exact moment. I cried at the thought of being able to truly be on the errand of angels and be able to be an instrument to answer a cry of one of Heavenly Father's precious daughters so immediately...in the middle of her plea. She said that was the first time that had ever happened to her. It was a sweet experience I know none of us that were there will ever forget. I though about how the prompting to go was so natural it wouldn't normally stand out as a prompting and I thought, "Wow, the Lord can really trust me."The more and more in tune we are and the quicker we are to act upon the promptings He gives...He will send more...and He won't have to shake us to get us to realize we need to do something! I always want Him to be able to trust me!
Finally..a funny story....we parked on the street in a pretty shady neighborhood to go contact a referral. It was our last stop of the night. 8 pm and dark. We were in the middle of praying in the car and a black man (not being racist, I love them, just saying) came up to our window...
"Hey how ya'll doin? What are you doing here?"
Sister Hudson, "uuh,,,,we're trying to pray."
"We're trying to PRAY!"
"Yo could you jus crack your windo fo a minute?"
"Look I ain't tryin to kidnap you or nothin I just wanna conversat witch you! Crack your window! Just roll it down a seck."
"Why not? Look I am a US Marine!!! ok? ok? I ain't gonna kidnap you....look." (he full on got his license out and pushed it up against the window and said, "Look, this is who I am ok? This is who I am. You wanna come drink or something?"
"No, we are missionaries."
"Missionaries!!! ..Look..." then she pulled her tag off and put it up against the window and said, "Look this is who WE are!" His look on his face was like, "Oh dang!" He bent lower and pointed at me and said, "Aight, you..you pray for me ok? You'tre not gonna come out?"
"Aight pray for me.."
"We will." And he left....I said, "Ok we are NOT getting out.....home it is!"...and we drove home laughing about what a crazy exchange that was...too funny...no worries...I had my pepper spray ready to bust out.
Oh the joys of being  missionary! Gotta love it! What a week!
Love you all! Thank you for your prayers!
Just FYI....Christmas packages will be delivered to us on the morning of the 22nd....so...needs to be here by the 21st to get before Christmas! I love you all! I am working on a Christmas card!
Have a merry week!
Love Sister Riggs

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More and More Miracles!‏

Dear Family,
I can't believe December is here! Crazy!!! I hope you are cherishing the Spirit of Christ that is always so present during this time of year! I want to issue you a challenge that we have been extending to those we teach...to focus on the Spirit of Christ....each day, in a little book or on a notepad, write down one reason why you are thankful for Jesus Christ or how you felt His love that day...then, on Christmas morning you can look back over the little book and see all the reasons and truly be grateful and celebrate the Birth of the Savior and rejoice in all that was made possible on that silent and holy night. = ) Will you do it?!
OK...I literally have 6 minutes to tell you about the many miracles we saw...it was a great week but especially and incredible weekend! We extended 4 baptismal invitations and set 3 dates for December = ) We got to attend a baptism for a YSA that Sister Hudson and I had street contacted. We were trying to find a member's apartment one afternoon and were walking up and down the street and stopped to talk to a young man, he was from China. He seemed interested at first but quickly lost interest and said he was waiting for a friend. Well, that friend came running up and rather than being discouraged and walking away...we talked to the friend, Brayd. I shared with him my little Chinese, which is the words to "I am a Child of God." He said he had learned about Jesus Christ growing up. We invited him to learn more and got his info. We had to pass it to the Sisters who work with the Single's Ward and that was that. That was about a month ago and he was baptized Saturday! What a miracle! We were both in tears seeing the whole YSA just embrace him and love him and the Bishop had him over to his family's home for his first Thanksgiving experience in America, and just to see how happy he was and to hear him bear his testimony and hear his story....in China as a child they tried to force him to believe in Jesus Christ with abuse...we were shocked that he would want to learn more after that...but to know now he will one day enter the temple and have a forever family and all the blessings that lie ahead of him....all because the Lord put him in our path and we had faith to open our mouth and say something about Jesus Christ. It was a real tender mercy from the Lord for us to see that. And one of our investigators, Myra, that we also contacted on the street was able to come and she felt the spirit and said she was so excited to be baptized this month! Too cool!

Also...she stood up in Sacrament meeting and bore her testimony and it was SO POWERFUL! Bishop LOVED it and we had so many members coming up to us telling us how touched they were by her testimony and telling us we were doing a great job. It touched so many hearts and helped us gain more trust from our members and helped Myra feel the witnessing power of the Holy Ghost! It was an experience I will never forget!

I am doing good. I had prayed that morning for a reminder or assurance of why I was here, because I have been feeling discouraged and like everything I have been pouring into this work was for not. And then we had 5 investigators at church, Myra bore her testimony and mentioned several times how thankful she was for us and how what we have taught her has changed her life, and many more miracles that happened throughout the day. I was so grateful for those answers to my prayer.

On a mission, more than anything else, you learn that Satan tries to use discouragement to keep you from accomplishing everything and anything. I actually had the opportunity to go and comfort some sisters who were in despair: one who was emotionally exhausted from trying to keep her companion going for so long, and another who was going to meet with the President the next day because she was set on going home. We had a very sacred hour together reading from the scriptures, testifying, and comforting and with the help of the spirit and inspired leaders, they are better and the sister is staying here in the mission = )....When you are about the work of the Lord, Satan truly is always there ready and waiting to say something to you to keep you down or hold you back....but when we put him behind us and like Moses tell him "Nice try, but I know who I am and what great things I can do with the Lord..."...and trust....always trust in the Lord and look to Him....miracles happen....MIRACLES!!!!
Heavenly Father truly does love us with all of His heart and He is always there.... I experienced so many tender mercies this weekend and I know none of it was by accident! Just look at your life and see how well Heavenly Father is micro-managing and how much He really cares.
I love Him with all of my heart.
Have a wonderful week!
Love Your Servant of the Lord,
Sister Riggs