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!

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