Hello Dear Family!
I hope you all had an amazing Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend. Happy Anniversary to Michelle and Jeff!!! I am so grateful you two found each other and have blessed my life with your examples and with sweetie sweet nieces that I love so much! Thank you for the packages of love Mom and Aurora! You are the sweetest! Thanks for making me beam!
Lots of good things are happening here in San Diego and with the R2 (r-squared) La Jolla Companionship! = ) We had an amazing week! We had our MTE training....teaching from our assistants and our mission president. We focused on being able to simplify and intensify our message and being able to teach lessons in 1 minute. We did "Minute to Win It!" We have been practicing doing that since, and we are getting better at it. It's much harder than it sounds to teach the Restoration or Plan of Salvation in just 60 seconds! We focused on Elder Ballard's challenge he gave us, which was, "Do they know that you know?" Do the people that we teach know we understand and believe in what we are teaching? It was all so great and I just love missionary training meetings. They always pump you up! It's so great to be a missionary! There is nothing greater I could be doing with my life right now!
We had some miracles in our area too...remember the Gahna's? Well, we went and tried to get them all to the Battalion to watch "The Testaments" to help them see visually the power of The Book of Mormon and The Bible. They wouldn't come because they hadn't planned on it...but they were all home...and we ended up teaching them for an hour...but the circumstances were kind of funny. We had a ward member there, April, who was talking to Basil, one of the preachers, had a great conversation and she just answered his curiosities and by the end, he said he would maybe come to church with her sometime. I was trying to handle the other preacher, William...I did not have so much luck. I shared with him my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I promised him if he read it he would not find discrepancies. I even opened up the Bible and showed how The Book of Mormon supports and clarifies what the Bible teaches so we can understand more clearly. I read with him from Ezekiel 37 and Isaiah 29....but pretty much it's like what he is looking for is for the Bible to flat out say, "The Book of Mormon will be brought forth and translated by Joseph Smith." He would not accept anything I had to say. I was feeling so crushed and as Jacob says in Jacob my anxiety over my desire for this man to accept the Book of Mormon was making me feel useless.....BUT, while I kept him occupied, my companions were able to talk to 3 of the men who are actually open to hearing about the gospel. They discovered what was holding them back, and they said they would read the introduction and we set up a for sure time for them to come to the Battalion to see "The Testaments." I was thankful for Sister Miller picking me up off the ground because as I left I was so overwhelmed and exhausted from my conversation with the preacher, that I began to cry and I felt like such a useless missionary and like my testimony had no power. Sister Miller said, "Sister Riggs, had you not talked to him and distracted him, we wouldn't have been able to have the amazing lesson that we had with the others because he would have been there interjecting, and Heavenly Father knew you were strong enough to do it. That was you taking one for the team, and now Pizaro, Andrew and Bright are going to read The Book of Mormon because of it and we know better what they are feeling." I had to remind myself that he had his agency. His heart is closed and I wanted it so badly to be open...I guess I was just wishing I could've been a Nephi or an Alma and that they'd all believe my words. = ) THEN, on Sunday night we went over with a ride ready for them and to our surprise they were ready and waiting to go! Sister Rasmussen and I were squealing with excitement in the car! Pizaro and Andrew were the only one's who came, but they loved the movie and hearts were softened. After the movie was over, Andrew said, "It may be possible....it makes sense." YESSSSS!!!! OH MY GOOFY GUMMIES!!! MIRACLE! I am excited to keep teaching them and to see how their lives will change as the spirit changes their hearts! Cool!!!! It's like I'm a missionary in Africa! = )
We had some neat experiences yesterday too as we tried to talk to everyone who passed us and applied our "Minute to Win It" training to try and find people to teach and we added 2 new investigators!!! Cassandra...who is a new mother and her boyfriend is deployed....she was so sweet and we talked about her sweet baby girl and what it was like to hold her for the first time. I asked her if she ever thinks, "Oh my goodness...what am I going to teach her so that she has a happy life and is successful and makes the right choices?" Tears welled in her eyes and she said, "All the time." We promised her that the teachings of Jesus Christ would help her understand her sacred calling as a mother and help her to know what to teach her daughter, and that following them would build their family on a solid foundation. We sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" and the spirit was so strong. Her eyes were glued to us. We added another young man, Philip, who is in the Navy. We had met another guy who was just out with his dog and talked to him and he gave us his number cause he wanted to come play sports with the missionaries...he was really nice so we were stopping by again hoping to get to teach him, he wasn't home, but Philip was...and he was so great! He actually just stood there at the door with us and asked us all kinds of questions and we were comparing missionary service to military service = ). I listened as he told us of his jobs he has done. One he loved while he was out to sea was being the head of the crew that went out to rescue those who fell overboard. I clung to that and as I left my testimony with him, I said, "You mentioned something about your job that struck me....because it relates so perfectly to the gospel." I reminded him of what he did...being that rescuing crew, and then I said, "That is exactly who the Savior is to us. We are on this ship...this safe ship that is leading us to where we want to be....but sometimes we get too close to the edge or we fall into temptation or sin and decide to take our own path and we get thrown overboard....with all of the crashing waves and the wind tossing us about....we often think we are lost at sea and there is no hope....but then comes the rescue crew...then comes the Savior. He is ALWAYS there to save us when we need the rescuing. It is in His power to bring us back aboard the ship. We are never out of His reach." I was so thankful for the sweet promptings of the Holy Ghost that helped make that connection and help Philip see and know better his personal relationship with the Savior. He said he wanted to play sports with us too and we also asked if we could teach him and he said, "Yeah why not? I feel better just having talked to you tonight!" MIRACLE! The power of the Spirit! We prayed with him before he left...and I know he's a macho Navy guy, but he was holding back his emotions....what a cool experience that was. Can't wait to teach him more!
I have also been blessed to hear about many miracles that are continuing on in Fuerte (my previous area)...first of all...because of working so tirelessly and doing all we could, and the amazing amount of work there is in that amazing city...they have gone from 2 to 5 missionaries!!!! We were PRAYING for that. Sister Hudson and I every weekly planning session would be so overwhelmed and sad that we weren't able to get to all who needed us...now...they will! And, the sisters are teaching a family now that I had a prompting to talk to one day...we had knocked on the door of a family in an apartment complex and they weren't home...we were walking back to our car and I looked down a row of apartments to my left and saw a man and woman cleaning up their front yard...I said, "Wait, Sister Hudson, let's go talk to these people and see if they need help." We had a great conversation and testified and they were kind and open...nothing ever came from it while I was there...but they took the time to go back to them and added the whole family!!! Too cool! Also, Ken is getting baptized (I have been teaching him since I came on my mission and he was one I wondered would ever be baptized because he has so many interesting views on things and kind of created his own religion he believed...thanks to The Book of Mormon....his heart has changed! I can't wait to see that!) AND! I just found out today that Larry, someone we started teaching back in October, is getting baptized too! He is one I think I wrote about before...it was our first meeting and we were teaching the Restoration (that was the plan) but it moved to the Plan of Salvation and then the spirit just burned within me to invite him to be baptized. I took a leap of faith and did it...he accepted, but then fell off the map because of drinking and smoking...well the Sisters went back and found that the spirit had been preparing and teaching him and when they asked him to keep the Word of Wisdom, he said, "I already quit!" He is getting baptized in March!!!! WHAT?!!! So amazing! Planting seeds and seeing them grow is the best! I love the miracle of being a missionary!
One more small miracle...I was asked to sing last minute at sacrament on Sunday...the spirit prompted me to sing a song I had never sung in public and that I hardly knew but that I knew was perfect for the theme of the meeting. I didn't have an accompanist and no one responded. A man in the ward picked up the piece 10 minutes before the meeting...it was rough the first run through...and the 2nd...by the time we sang it..it was perfect... I sang everything OK and didn't mess up and...the last page of the song fell from the piano right at the climax and the pianist caught it before it hit the ground and finished beautifully!!! WHAT?! Heavenly Father loves me!
I hope you are all well...I love your guts!!!
Hugs and kisses for all!