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, January 30, 2013

It's Me Again! Sister Riggs = )‏

Hello My Dear Family,
           Well how are you all? Are you all surviving the cold weather and the cold/flu season?? I feel like the United States of America is sick! I hope you are all healthy and happy and that if you aren't you are on your way back to being that way! I myself have been miraculously blessed to not get sick...even living in the same room with my 2 companions that have been sick for over 2 weeks. I seriously feel like I am surrounded by tuberculosis or something with their constant and awful coughing....teaching lessons has been interesting, ha....and I have to sleep with ear plugs or I do not sleep at all. Sister Rasmussen seems to be on the mend and Sister Pagel has acute bronchitis....it's crazy! I am thankful I have my full health and praying I don't come down with it cause it sure sounds awful!
It's been a fun week! It rained a lot, which I love and it never seems to rain here so I was happy. I went bowling last preparation day with my zone and am sad to say I have lost some of my skills! Ha ha....I bowled a 144, 154, and 135 or something like that. I did a head to head match with my district leader (because we held the high scores for the day) and lost by 1 pin! It was crazy. I am definitely out of practice though. We also had our annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration Event on Saturday and that was a lot of fun. We got to march in a parade and the Elders dressed up in uniforms like the Battalion had. I got to work my bonnet all day (we don't usually wear bonnets) and I can see why they helped the pioneer women so much = ) It truly is incredible what faith and courage these men and women had and what they truly sacrificed daily to follow the prophet and the Lord. I am so honored to be able to tell their story every day. 
         Our little China man, (as I like to call him even though he's tall) David....just keeps amazing us more and more. He is constantly involved in all of the activities with the ward and at the institute and is just the cutest and most tender little China man ever! We love him so much! We were announcing his baptism at church for Feb. 9th, which is what we committed him to and he looked at us in shock and said, "No, I'm getting baptized on the 2nd. You said the 2nd right?" We were like, "ummm no we said the 9th but let's talk after." He had thought all along it was the 2nd. We told him we could make that happen for him if that's what he really wanted. We asked, "Well David, what do you want, the 9th or the 2nd?" He responded with excitement, "Well let's do it THIS weekend!" So! We are having a baptism on Saturday! Ha ha...he is just so ready and excited and every time we see him he is asking a member to be a part of his baptism program! He asked me to speak but I think I convinced him to just let me sing instead ha ha. He also wants to feed us dinner sometime and said it would be our prize for being good teachers ; )....we so don't deserve him but I am so glad Heavenly Father blessed us with such a golden contact! Yay for David! The picture in this e-mail is us at the Battalion after giving him a tour....he's the one in the middle in the BYU sweatshirt = )
         We started teaching a young woman named Laurel. She says it like it is and is very straightforward and open. She told us she didn't want to talk about Jesus Christ or Joseph Smith or anything, but that she just wanted to talk about God. So last week we started there and shared our testimonies of how we knew God loved us personally and asked her to pray to know she was a daughter of God. We saw her last night and I was so happy to hear her tell us of how she prayed and expected negative feelings to come from it but was surprised and happy to experience positive feelings and that she really liked it. We then thought we'd teach from the Book of Mormon how people came to know God and what they did to do that. So we shared the story of King Lamoni and his father coming to know God and we were asking questions after and she flat out said, "OK...what you're sharing is like black and white." We said, "OK, well we just wanted to start with the basics because you mentioned you just wanted to talk about God." She said, "OK, maybe a little too basic." I asked, "Well, OK, what do YOU want to talk about Laurel?" She said, "Broken families." How's that for the gift of discernment? ; ) She opened up about her parents divorce when she was 4 years old and it is still very much hurt about all the bad things that happened. It was interesting to hear her perspective (which is many people's perspective) about how if God loved us he would keep bad things from happening to us and how it's not fair to be sent here to a world and put in to circumstances that a bad....which lead to more bad choices...which lead us to be evil and then we get put in hell....basically what she shared. It was a spiritual experience to share with her the perspective of, "God loves me and shows that love for me by giving me trials and showing me I can overcome." I had the chance to bear personal testimony of the trials I have faced and the opportunities that not only I have had to ask "Why me God? Have you forgotten me? Do you even care?" but the things my family has been through and times they could have said the same thing but didn't. I looked at her and said, "I know you said you didn't want us to talk about Jesus Christ, but I cannot ignore Him in my testimony, because without Him, none of this, none of this would have a point or mean anything. He is the reason for it all and He is who makes it possible to get through this life with hope and happiness, even through trials." After I bore testimony of the Savior. She told me something I said last week that resonated with her was when I testified that I knew that God was right here, right here and 110% with me in this and knew every detail. That brought the song "He'll Carry You" to mind and we closed the lesson with that song. We can't not include Jesus Christ. I found as I tried to teach her of coming to know Heavenly Father that it can't be done without learning of, and believing in Jesus Christ.
         This morning in my personal study I decided to ask the Lord where I needed to read and then put my thumb in my scriptures and open up and start reading.....I opened up to Alma 37 and 38....how perfect it was for me to read. I was reminded that I have been entrusted with sacred things and that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. The Lord works by mean and by very small means does He confound the wise and I need to preserve these small and simple means. I was comforted by verse 16 and 17 "...for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words. For he will fulfill all his promises which he shall make unto you..." and especially 38:5 "And now my "daughter, Ralynne" I would that ye should remember , that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day." How thankful I am for that....the gospel is such a blessing...it makes life better and so much easier and enjoyable....we are the ones that make it hard....but as 37:44 says, "it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ which will point you a straight course to eternal bliss as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass..." It IS easy, we just have to go and do....and trust trust trust...I am thankful for answered prayers through the scriptures this morning. I love the Gospel! You should too!

Love and miss you all dearly! Keep the prayers comin'!

Sister Riggs

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Magic Happening

Hello Dear Family and Friends,
 I hope you all had a wonderful 3 day weekend and that you are happy, healthy, and well. I just thought I'd pass on this great picture of me and some of the amazing sisters I serve with at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site = ) It has been another great week full of miracles in the mission field. I have a few experiences I would love to share....
The first is with our golden investigator from Hong Kong China, David. Remember last week how I said he was so great and excited and that he wanted to meet on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Well last Wednesday, our second lesson, we taught him about who he was before he came here, his purpose on earth, and the Atonement. I bore personal testimony of the first time the Atonement became very real for me and shared with him the feelings I had as a 17 year old and having my life change with the diagnosis of Juvenile Diabetes. The spirit was so strong as I went back to that time and recalled the fear and the pain, but remembered the sweet comfort of the spirit as I plead for my Savior to be with me and comfort me. Sharing that testimony lead to us inviting David to be baptized. He said yes! I then sang "I Am A Child of God" for him in Chinese. What a sweet experience that was...he said with a smile, "Wow that is very impressive..." (my Chinese didn't offend him ; ) ). We knelt and had a closing prayer and he thanked Heavenly Father for the experience he shared with "Sister Robbs" ....ha ha (that's me)...too precious. THEN, we met with him again on Friday and he said, "I need to talk to you about my baptism." My companions and I looked at each other warily and he told us that he had been talking to his other friend from China who loves in Georgia and is also meeting with the missionaries and was working towards being baptized on February 2nd. He said he was asking him why he was getting baptized and what does it mean, etc. He also said the institute teacher asked him if he was getting baptized to please the missionaries or because he wanted to.....we were worried about where this was going and thought he was going to say he wanted to wait...but he went on to say that as he was talking to his friend and telling him why he wanted to be baptized that he just felt so powerfully in his heart that this is what Jesus Christ would have him do! Then, he just looked at me and said, "I know this is what I want to do. Will you ask me that question again?" I smiled and looked him in the eye and asked, "David? Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the proper Priesthood authority of God?" Before I was even able to finish he said, "Yes." What a sweet and tender spirit David is. He said yes the first time probably more in faith....and then he continued to ponder it and think it out and the spirit was able to confirm in his heart it was right and he wanted to commit to his baptism with that surety behind it. I LOVE this young man! So much faith. He comes to each lesson with written out questions and their corresponding verses from his reading in The Book of Mormon. Last night as we taught him the gospel he asked a few questions and said, "Yeah this just helps me understand for when I am a missionary someday." I stopped and looked back and forth excitedly to my companions and asked him, "You want to be a missionary?!!" He said, "Yes I think I would like to when I finish my bachelor's degree." We said, "Wait...how old are you?" He responded, "18." WOW!!!! That made me just want to cry! We really are so blessed to be able to teach this amazingly humble and faithful son of God. We seriously walk away from every lesson in awe. What a miracle he is.
The other incredible experience I had this week took place at the Battalion. I had finished giving a tour and all of the families were members of the church, but I noticed one man who kind of snuck in alone and wasn't sure what his story was. So after the tour I struck up a conversation with him and found out he was moving here from Colorado for his job. He mentioned the decision would have to be a group one....so I inquired about his family and he said he had one daughter and one son ages 21 and 23 and that it would have to be a group decision because his son was special needs. My mind caught hold on that comment and the spirit prompted to stay with that topic. I learned that his son was autistic. I testified to this great man, Mark, how I knew that his son was a very special spirit and that he (Mark) must be an incredible and loving father to sacrifice so much of his time and attention and own desires to be able to take care of his son. I told him how much that meant to Heavenly Father to do that for his special spirit. I told him I was positive he could feel and notice a difference in their home because of what his son brings to it. He said that he did indeed. As I walked with him through the courtyard he asked me what was on the other side of the building. I said, "Oh well let me show you. We have a beautiful art exhibit here right now with paintings from the life of Christ." I took him to the pictures and as he looked I asked if he recognized any of the stories depicted. He said no. I asked if he had a religious background and he said he went to Catholic school when he was younger. I said, "Ok so you have read The Bible?" He said, "No actually I haven't. They didn't encourage us to read The Bible. They actually discouraged us because they said we did not have the knowledge to be able to interpret scriptures, so we left that to the priests (or preachers) and those who had the calling to do so." I was so surprised! I said, "Really? That is so crazy to me. I don't know what I would do if I couldn't read the scriptures. You see, we know that we are all children of God and that we have the light of Christ within us. It's His Spirit that helps us to feel truth and discern between right and wrong. As we are baptized we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and he then is able to be our constant companion. Through him we can receive personal revelation for our lives and he can also teach us and confirm to us eternal truths. I have received some of my greatest answers to prayer by reading the scriptures. They have comforted me and helped me to feel of my Heavenly Father's love. That is what He intended." I then asked, "So you don't know these stories?" He said, "No." I excitedly asked, "Well can I share one of the stories of my favorite painting?" He said yes and I took him over to stand in front of the painting by Liz Lemon Swindle of the woman who reaches for the Savior's hem to be healed. I shared with him the story and he was in awe. I then told him why it was so personal to me and told him of my incurable "issue of blood"  (my diabetes). I told him my testimony of the Savior and His Atonement and why I was so thankful for what He did for me.....because part of that Atonement was him overcoming physical death and be resurrected. Because of that resurrection, I know that the time that I have here and that I have to deal with my diabetes is not forever. I read with him Alma 40:23 "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame." I testified to him that the promise was real for his son. As I finished, I didn't even have to ask him, he said, "So how do I learn more?" (He was holding a referral card in his hand) A little shocked and speechless I pointed at the card and said, "Well you can fill that card out for me!" He also asked if there was a place he could go to receive instruction. Oh my goofy gummies I was so excited. I got his information and said goodbye and immediately called to find out who the missionaries were who would be taking care of my new friend and his journey in the gospel. I found out it was 2 Elders from mys district! So, I get to keep in touch and hear about how it all goes. I asked Mark if I could send the missionaries to his family in Colorado so they could learn with him and he said that he first wanted to do this alone, and if it was right he would then share it with them. WOW!!!! The Visitor's Center's and holy ground! I am so thankful for that sweet experience.
One more I wanted to share was yesterday...I had a mother and daughter from China on my tour and afterward, I asked the daughter, Alice, she liked about the story. She said she was very moved by their faith and belief in God and that everything would be alright. (She's 14) I knew I found a great one...most people say the bulls or the talking pictures ; ) I talked with her and her mom and thought I should sing "I am A Child of God" in Chinese for them...I don't quite have it memorized and was sad to discover I had left it in my apartment, but I tried to sing as much of the 3rd verse and chorus I could remember...it was very broken, and missing a few lines but as I sang sweet Alice began to cry. Her mother joined in her tears and then I think she was embarrassed and tried to leave. I kept talking to them and testified of what she was feeling and what her spirit was recognizing. I gave them a Book of Mormon in Chinese and promised as they read they would feel that same spirit they had felt today. It is amazing to see how every experience in your life is for a purpose...a greater and wiser one than we often realize. Who knew 6 years ago when I traveled to China with the BYU Young Ambassadors that I would be teaching and meeting so many children from China that I would be able to connect with and sing a sweet testimony too? Who knew that 9 or 10 years ago when I was in an honors choir learning a Traditional Chinese Folk Song about a Jasmine Flower, that I would be able to use that as a missionary tool to soften hearts of those from China I met?? Heavenly Father did! There is more where that came from but I am out of time! = )
I love being a missionary. What a sacred work we are about. I love my Heavenly Father with all of my heart and I pray you all will follow the promptings He blesses you with to share the gospel with those around you! You don't need a name tag to do it!!! Go change the world!!!
Love you with All of my Heart!!!!
Sister Riggs

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I have work enough to do = )‏

Dear Family,
I can't believe it is already January 15th! Boy how time flies! Sunday will be 7 months for me already! Craziness. This time I have to serve the Lord fully is so short and so precious.
Well the work goes on in La Jolla. I am still just adjusting and getting use to how different it is to teach young single adults and be in a singles ward full of very successful and very busy people. It has been a week of ups and downs...as my wise MTC teacher said, "I love roller coasters, but my favorite roller coaster was my mission." So true. We have been striving to seek and find those the Lord has prepared for the gospel...we know they are out there...it's just a matter of being the best finders ever! We had the weirdest couple of experiences: We added a new investigator named Jared. He is a 21-year-old college student who wanted to meet with the missionaries. They have been in contact with him for a while and he finally said he had time to meet. He had been sick so I got him some soup and we went and knocked on his door. He was so great! Happy and interested and very promising. We told him about the Singles Ward and he said he would love to come to the activities. We taught him of the blessings of the gospel and of Heavenly Father's love for him and gave him a Book of Mormon to read. We even invited him to pray (which he hasn't ever really done) and he said he'd give it a shot. It was a beautiful prayer and I asked how he felt after praying and he said he was so happy. He said he wanted to get on a better path that didn't involve drugs and alcohol. We were so excited to see him and teach him more last night and all weekend he never responded to us...didn't come to church...didn't come to FHE...and didn't show up for our appointment. We had called and text several times. So, we went to him. He was home and when he answered he was surprised to see us at his door. He was very out of it and I am pretty sure he was drunk. After talking a minute and asking why he hadn't responded he didn't really have a good excuse. I asked if he had a minute for us to share a thought and he said not right now. When we saw him last week he said he was pretty much open any time...he's not in school and not working...yet last night he said he'd been really busy and trying to find a job, etc....I asked him if something had happened over the weekend to change his mind because he seemed so excited about it before. He said no and that he just didn't know if religion was right for him. I said, "Well you can't know for sure if you never give it a try, right?" We ended up sharing a thought and a scripture anyway because the conversation lead that way....and then I asked if we could say a prayer with him before we left and he said no! I said, "You don't have to say it if you don't want to, but one of us could real quick." And he still said no....he said he would text us if he changed his mind. We got in the car feeling so confused and a little defeated. It broke our hearts because we could see him light up with the spirit and the potential he had...and we saw him completely turn away from it. We will keep him in our prayers and keep texting encouragement and maybe one day, when the time is right, he will come back.
Another weird experience....We met with a less-active member, Akiko, at the food court of the mall and she was mad when we showed up and found out we were girls and said she thought we were a guy texting her and asking to meet with her....she full on thought she was meeting a man for a date....when it was the Sister Missionaries there to help her come back....she wasn't so happy....luckily, we were able to soften her up a bit and get her to sit down for a minute to get to know her. Through our conversation we came to find she is struggling with addiction and that she feels she is too far gone for her to be able to come back. She literally said she knows that what she is doing is destroying her and destroying her body, that she wakes up feeling fear and shame knowing she is on a path of destruction, but that for the momentary pleasure and happiness she feels from her addiction...that it's enough for her...that minute or so of happiness. How heartbreaking. Literally, my heart broke for her and I had to control my emotions as I bore testimony of the Atonement and that you are NEVER too far out of the Savior's reach. Those temptations and struggles are exactly why He did what He did....how sad, how ungrateful we are to slap that away and say it isn't good enough for what I'VE done. I know we all struggle with that when we make mistakes. We think the Atonement works for others but not for ourselves....but how wrong we are! Satan is the one who deceives us into those thoughts. "Thanks to Him, wounded souls may be healed and broken hearts may be mended. There is no burden that He cannot ease or remove. He knows about our infirmities and sicknesses. I promise and testify to you that when all doors seemed to be closed, when everything else seems to fail, He will not fail you. Christ will help and is the way out, whether the struggle is with an addiction, depression, or something else. He knows 'how to succor his people' (Elder Gonzalez - last conference)." Through a lot of loving text messages, she has finally asked if we really want to help and of course we do...the Savior does....and I pray she will accept what He gave for her. But my dear loved ones...PLEASE...I plead with you to never ever believe or think you are out of His reach....and if you think the wrong choices you are making are what make you happier....please get on your knees and let the Savior heal you because it IS POSSIBLE....you hold the key....let Him in....He stands at the door...don't keep Him knocking.
We DID have quite the miracle though in adding a new investigator who is golden and literally said, "I want to learn every day so....what do you have time for?" Ha ha! You're kidding!? We are meeting with him Monday, Wednesday and Friday and he is so prepared. His name is David and he is from Hong Kong, China!!! He loves the gospel and prayer and as we knelt in prayer and heard him say the feelings of his heart for the first time, the spirit was so sweet. Those are the moments...among all the hard days....those are the moments and the times I remember why I love being a missionary and why I love the Lord!!!
Oh, by the way, I totally played a duet with Elder Coon (a great trumpet player) at the Spanish mission president's fireside! We played "Love is Spoken Here." Everyone was shocked to find I also played the trumpet an they were all asking what I don't do = ) I had a couple real embarrassing notes that gave me a good laugh when I listened to the recording after, but I only had 3 out of many = ) It was fun to play again after 10 years!!!!
OK I love you all! Keep me in your prayers!!!
Sister Riggs

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The New Year off to a Very New Start!‏

Dear Loved,
Well....are you all on the edge of your seats wondering where I have been transferred to? Drum roll please.........I am now serving in the La Jolla Young Single Adult Ward in a Tri-Panionship with Sister Rasmussesen and Sister Pagel! Yeah...what?! 3 Blondes in a YSA ward? Look out! No one is going to be able to say no now! ; ) Ha ha...but wow...what a week of DRASTIC change it has been for me, and what a week of incredibly high emotions...it hasn't been easy at all...but that is exactly what I expected...it's time to grow again, and to grow, I have to face and overcome challenges. So I was very sad to leave my home of El Cajon and to say goodbye to my Fuerte Ward Family. It was even harder to say goodbye to my companion, Sister Hudson. We faced a lot of trials together and became very close...sisters indeed. We were sinceriously like one brain and it was so incredible because we were able to work so hard and see so many miracles. As we packed up all of my stuff and moved out it just seemed so unreal...we both kept saying...this is weird...this is really weird...what are we gonna do?!!!! Those months I spent in Fuerte will always be treasured and I am forever changed by the experiences and the people I met there. When I arrived to transfer meeting I was wiping away tears thinking of being separated from Sister Hudson and being scared about who my new companion would be and where my new area would be....I was honored as the President welcomed me back to the Battalion and reported on the incredible work and experiences I had while being a full-proselyting missionary...his wife chimed in and said, "She has done an AMAZING job out there and has really set the bar high." That brought tears to my eyes..well...more tears. I was honored, and again, sad to say goodbye to the full-proselyting work. Funny how the Lord works...when I was transferred away it broke my heart, and through the first 6 weeks I missed the Battalion so much. I wanted to be back for the next transfer...and when that didn't happen, I was shocked and sad about it for a few days....but through the next 6 weeks....it was all I wanted to stay out there. I thought the President would change my call and make me full-proselyting because I felt so needed in the work I was doing and I thought, "The Battalion is just fine without me, they don't need me there, and it feels so distant to me now I don't even feel I have a place there anymore. I would love to just keep doing this." But behold....that's not what happened = ) But as I said last week, I felt complete peace about it.

The love for the Battalion is coming back...all those things I missed when I left, I am being reminded of. On my first day back even, I had a sweet experience with a couple I met from Newfoundland. It was just about the end of the shift and I was standing by the door and greeted this couple. They said they had been on the Trolley Tour and heard about this place and wanted to check it out. They told me they were about to board their 14 day cruise to Florida, where they live for the summer. I told them how I lived in Orlando for 3 years before my mission and performed for Disney World. They were very interested to learn about that so after telling them my little life story that lead me here...they wanted to know what serving a mission and being a missionary meant. Wayne and Myrna were very impressed and astonished at all that I had given up to come and serve the Lord. Wayne kept saying it was very commendable. Our conversation lead to many things....the Restoration, how prophets are called, the ordinances of the temple. It was crazy! They told me a little bit about their religion, that being of the Salvation Army....Myrna saw many similarities, but wanted to know how we were different. They had to run to catch the trolley, so they didn't even take a tour or watch a presentation or anything, but Wayne said, "Thank you so much...you were the perfect person to greet us at the door and we will always remember San Diego and our trip here because of this wonderful conversation we have had with you. We came in here because we wanted to learn more about Mormons, and this has been the most educational experience." I LOVE THEM! I told them I would love to keep in touch and answer anymore questions they had and also that I could have missionaries come visit them in Florida or Newfoundland and they were excited about it and left me with their info to do that. It made my heart leap for joy to be reminded of why I love the opportunity to serve at the Mormon Battalion Visitor's Center....for experiences just like that!

THEN...the next day I met the Le Roux family, which was another miracle....A mom and dad and their son and daughter came in and they were from Quebec and very French! I was excited to incorporate the phrases I could remember into the tour! ...You know...some simple "Zut alors" and "C'est pas vrais!" ; ) The kids didn't know much English so they liked it. I was SO exhausted during the tour....the emotions of all the changes I think really wore me out and I was praying in the middle of the tour for help to be able to testify with the spirit and discern their needs even though I felt so tired and it was hard to "feel." At the end of the tour I felt they needed to watch the video "God's Plan." Heavenly Father made it easy on me = ) ...they had questions after and were touched by the faith the men had. The dad filled out the referral card and said he wanted to learn more. I asked them if they had time to watch a 10 minute video about God's plan for their family. They watched it...and it was like watching their own family...the kids in the movie are similar ages....at the end the lights came up and the kids were smiling and the dad had a pleasant look on his face and then they all looked to their mom and noticed she was trying to hide the fact that she was wiping tears away from her eyes...she laughed and said in her defense, "I just feel happy!" They giggled at her...but I took the moment to pause and point out to her that the feeling she felt in her heart in that very minute was the spirit...the spirit was confirming to her that God loves her family and indeed does have a plan for them and this is where they can learn how to become a forever family. I asked her to remember how she felt right then, and promised her that when the missionaries come to teach her, she would feel it again, and recognize it! I sent with them a French copy of the Book of Mormon, and they were on their way! I can't wait to hear from them and to see their journey to the truth unfold!!! I LOVE THIS!!! = )

When I arrived back to the Battalion and checked my e-mails from those I had met there and wanted to stay in touch, I was so happy to see that a girl I met from China, a couple I met from Germany, and a sweet little Dutch girl from Holland, had all written me back saying they wanted to read the Book of Mormon and stay in touch. How amazing! It warms my heart to see my Patriarchal Blessing unfold before my eyes....I was told in that blessing that I would cause comfort to come to the lives of many of my brothers and sisters throughout the world! I use to think that meant someday I would be traveling the world!...Who knew that serving a mission, right here, exactly where the Lord needs me, would accomplish that promise! Heavenly Father did = )!

So, many adventures await me! I get to serve with the beautiful San Diego Temple in sight every day now! It reminds me of being back in Florida seeing the Castle on the way home from work = )....it was quite the culture shock driving through La Jolla. I have gone from the poorest of the poor, and the most humble of people...who have nothing but God to look to for hope and who were so willing to cling to the Gospel....to the richest of the rich. Most all of the people in the ward are getting their Masters and PHD's or are owners of companies and very high up in their jobs....crazy....I am thankful for the opportunity, and the challenge it will be to learn how to take what I have learned from serving in El Cajon and what has brought success there, and learn how to teach a whole different way....or apply it differently..I don't know, I am still figuring it out ha ha. Each area and each companionship seems like a whole different little mini-mission in itself. This is all a new adventure the Lord has provided for me to learn and grow. I know I make everything sound so perfect and peachy in most of my e-mails...and I just want to say that is because of faith and hope...even in the midst of trial....because this isn't easy....and it has been one of the most difficult weeks of my mission....it is very hard to go from an amazing companionship and a place where you are so loved and so needed, to a companionship where I come in as the 3rd person to two that have already been serving together, and to a total different kind of area and people...feeling a little bit lost in how to do things...not being able to help in planning much because I don't know a soul...it's almost like the beginning of my mission again, except now I know how to handle it....and I know I'm going to get there and it is going to be OK. It's also hard to go from teaching 30 lessons a week and seeing so many baptisms....to teaching 10 lessons..maybe....(with half time at the Battalion, a huge area, and Young Single Adults rarely being home). My sense of self and the work and everything has now shifted....I have shed many tears this week...many....but the Lord has not forgotten me and has given me arms to be encircled and comforted in...and I know, this is for my good and there is a purpose....and I am going and doing! I am excited to see how He will use me here in La Jolla.

 I love you all! Miss you tons and hope your year is off to a great start! Embrace your challenges that come. Go to the Lord in them...know that you are so strong that He is taking the time to work with you individually to make you stronger! You'll learn to love those days!

All my love and hope,
~Sister Riggs

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year! I Have News!

Dear Family,
Can you believe it's 2013!! I surely can't! I look back at 2012 and can't believe what an amazing and blessed year it has been! I love being able to look forward to the future year and know it will be entirely devoted to serving the Lord! How cool! I don't have to worry about doing anything but being the absolute best missionary I can be! I LOVE those kind of goals! = )
So WOW....WHAT A WEEK! My Golden Birthday came with so many miracles!!! This has probably been the longest, most difficult and unsure, faith building, trust keeping weeks of my entire mission....and yet it was one of the most sacred and beautiful...and miracle packed!!! MIRACLES!!!
So, first of all, don't know if you remember Teresa, but she had set a date to be baptized next November...we had kept teaching her and knew the spirit would work with her and it did! She kept asking about baptism....she really wanted to make sure she was making the right choice....we had a lesson with her on Dec 22nd and just asked her to tell us about the times when we had met with her that she knew she had really felt the spirit....as she recalled those times, the spirit came back very strongly.....she is currently 9 months pregnant, jobless, and being evicted from her apartment. She said if she got a call saying she got a job she would jump into the water tomorrow! We asked, "So you know it's true?" She said yes...we then taught her again about faith and we basically said, "Why wait? The Lord has given you answers several times, and you have felt the spirit so often telling you this is right." We invited her to be baptized and she picked my birthday to do it! She said because I had been the one to start teaching her and because it was my birthday she wanted to do that for me! OH!!!! My heart SWELLED!!! I hugged her and cried! That was seriously ALL I wanted for my Golden Birthday! That is definitely the coolest thing and the best gift you could get as a missionary! We were so excited but then Sunday she said she was doubting...didn't think she knew enough about Joseph Smith and didn't know if what we believe about what happens after this life was right....so on Dec 26th...the DAY BEFORE her baptism...we laid it our there. We showed her the "Discerning Light" Mormon message by Elder Bednar and asked what she felt the Lord was pulling her toward. She said without a doubt baptism....then she said she felt the rest of her testimony would come with time and as she showed her faith and that she wanted to be baptized. She got a priesthood blessing and we had our District Leader ready and waiting at the church! (Yeah..like I said, we exercised a lot of faith this week!) We didn't know if she would pass...and it was a long interview, but she got the OK! So...the morning of my Birthday was not so good with the stress of calling several ward members and trying to find a piano player and speakers and everything that goes into it...but by noon...it was all taken care of! The Lord loves us! So then I was able to start enjoying my birthday....I made myself my favorite French toast breakfast with scrambles eggs and bacon and it was oh so good! My companion kept praising the meal and said, "Sister Riggs...you are gonna make one man VERY happy someday!" Ha ha...as my awesome brother-in-law would say, "Total Package!" = ) I sat and ate while I opened all of my Birthday cards....thank you for all of the Birthday wishes and beautiful cards and gift cards! They will help a ton!!! They made me so happy....and honestly...the cards you all picked were so perfect I felt like you wrote each one yourself...and my heart was very touched...and yes, I cried! We then had district meeting and we all got a treat after in my honor...by then it was 3pm and we STILL hadn't heard from Teresa!!!! My stomach was in knots and I said, "Ok, we are going to her house to see what's up!" (Her baptism was at 5:30!) Right then, she texted us! All was well! The baptism was small...pretty much the people who had parts in it were there, but it was so beautiful and the spirit was so strong...Teresa was crying before we even started. I asked her if she was in pain or if she was happy...she said, "Happy." = )  She made sure I sang for her and I was honored to. Hearing her testimony was the greatest gift ever...she said that she knew this was the right step for her and that it would not only bring blessings to her life but to her children's lives. Boy is she right!!! Then, it worked out to have some recent converts go to the Mormon Battalion with us, so I got to see all the sisters I love and they had put up a sign for me and Sister Woolstenhulme baked me my dream cake!!! I also got to give a tour...and good news is I remembered it all! At the end of the day my heart was full of so much joy and love. I truly have never had a better birthday! Last year I went through the temple, this year I was a missionary for the Lord and had a baptism, man! I wonder what next year will bring! ; ) I really have never felt so much genuine love though....best day ever!!!
More Miracles: We had ANOTHER baptism!!!
Our second baptism was for our Miracle Street Contact. Mayra Valadez! She is such a gem! She had gone through a horrible break up the weekend before and broke off an engagement and we were afraid she would not move forward....but with lots of love and the power of the Spirit...she ended up calling us on Thursday night asking if we could move up her baptism because she was so excited! The spirit was so strong and again, the best part was hearing her testimony...she said, "Since I have God in my life and because of what the Sisters have taught me, I feel like I can walk out of my house in the morning with my head held high, with my sword and my shield and that I can conquer anything!" That had to be my favorite part. She dedicated much of her changes in her life and all the good...to meeting us...but knew it was through God and His love that she had. She asked me to sing a song I sang to her on the phone one night when she was in despair and that was a sweet experience. She is a gem and probably the biggest miracle of my mission so far....because we talked to everyone! = ) So neat!

After they were baptized we felt like "Now what?" because they were such a focus...but in the past 24hrs we have added 3 new investigators! The work is so amazing and the harvest is so great here. I am constantly in awe at the miracles and the way the Lord helps His children find the truth. We still have about 6 or 7 investigators and at least 4 or 5 that could be ready to be baptized at the end of January!
So.....the last BIG NEWS!!!!.....
.....I am being transferred....oh I had a feeling it was coming but I sure didn't want it to. I have been here in Fuerte my whole mission and it is home to me. I have given my best and exhausted myself in the work and I have loved it so very much. Teaching 27-30 lessons per week has been such a blessing! I have now had 12 weeks away from the Battalion and it honestly feels very distant. I felt in my heart I would be OK not going back because I feel like there isn't a place for me there anymore....but obviously I am wrong. I know it is going to be very hard to go back, and hard to get back in the swing of things there. It is going to feel off and I know I will feel out of place. I know, however, that the Lord was preparing me for this. Over the past week I have seen Sister Hudson connecting with the people and how they love her and we have met many that I see she is for....I honestly felt that strongly yesterday and today even....I feel very at peace and know I have done what He needed me to do here...when I first thought I was being transferred back when Sister Tanner left, I felt all completely wrong. I KNEW there were people in Fuerte I needed to be here for and the thought of me leaving felt entirely wrong....this time....I have no such feeling and I know the people we are teaching and have just found will be in such good hands with Sister Hudson. I love this place with all of my heart...it will always be very sacred to me...and I know it has been a special blessing to have so many baptisms and miracles in my first 4 transfers...for that and many other reasons, a huge piece of my heart will always be here. I remember when I first got out here I wondered if I could love these people...this ward seemed so crazy...but on Sunday, I had a sweet experience...we were asked to speak and as I sat on the stand and looked out into the faces of the ward members...there were very few I didn't know...and as I looked at them I had memories with them and their families cross my mind, I thought of the deep trials many shared with us and what struggles I knew they have, I thought of their baptisms, dinners, testimonies...and my heart was SO full of love for these people. I think that was the Lord showing me He had answered my prayers, and showing me a glimpse of what I have been able to be a part of here in touching and lifting lives. It really does hurt to move on from here, and I know my heart will ache for these people. Many over the past week have told us what a compliment Sister Hudson and I are to each other and the amazing team that we make. At one of the baptisms, a sister said, "You know, I really think you have been a huge part of these two wards coming together and becoming cohesive. With your voice and you two as a team, I really think that's why you weren't transferred...the ward needed that help." And just this morning, as we told Bishop I was leaving (he was not happy ; ) ) ...he said, "You know I have been in the church a long time and have worked in leadership for 22 years and I have never seen missionaries work harder than you two do." WOW! What a compliment... And his wife said, "We love you Sisters...you really are like the daughters we never had." Really? Do I have to go?!!! Ha ha....it still feels unreal to leave here....but again, I feel peace, so I know it is right. I am expecting it to be very hard...so hopefully it won't seem so = ) I'll find out tomorrow where my new area is and who my new companion is! Yikes!!!! = /  Back to the Battalion I go!!!

I love the Lord and I know it's time for change....and another refining. That is why I am here...to go where He needs me most.... I am thankful to have had this honor and trust. It has been such an opportunity. To be a full-pros missionary has been challenging but so rewarding and beautiful...but these months here will forever be treasured.

Here goes nothin'! = / = )
Love you all! Happy New Year! Keep the prayers coming!!! I am gonna need them!
All my love,
Sister Riggs