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, February 20, 2013

These are the days of my life!

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!
Sister Riggs

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Week of Love!!!

Hello Dear Family!
Happy Valentine's week! I hope your week is full of so much love you don't even know what to do with it! I also hope you take a minute to tell those you love how much you appreciate having them in your life...and also tell someone, who might not have many to say to them how much they are loved, how great they are or some kind compliment that will lift their hearts! This world needs more love! I LOVE you all SO MUCH and the more I serve a mission the more I love and appreciate you, and thank Heavenly Father for blessing me with such incredible people in my life that I KNOW I would not be who I am today had it been any other way! You are my greatest Valentine's! Look for a Valentine from Heavenly Father this week...I know He will show you how much He loves you if you look = )
I have so much to tell you all...I forgot a few things last week that were pretty awesome! First thing's first though...we got transfer calls today and I found out I am staying in the La Jolla Singles Ward with Sister Rasmussen!!! Sister Pagel is being transferred so the adventures of the three Blonde Musketeers are over. I guess I better get use to this Singles Ward thing = )
So...last week I had the opportunity to whip out my best Jack Bauer (from "24") skills and capture a bad guy on the run...but I guess there really is only one Bauer...because I completely failed... I was on shift at the Mormon Battalion and it was kind of slow...late afternoon around 4pm...and I was up at the front sitting on one of the couches talking to another Sister and this guy came walking down the hallway very quickly...looked a little agitated and was putting something in his pocket. He turned the corner right into Theatre 1 and we heard the back exit door open and close. He completely knew where he was going. Sister Madsen asked, "Who was that?" I said, "I don't know...guess he knows where he's going." She said, "Yeah that was weird." We thought nothing of it until policemen started running through the building. A cop told one of the Sisters walking outside that there was an armed man on the run and it was dangerous and she should go in. We quickly spoke up and told him we had seen a sketchy guy come through and exit out the back theatre door. He asked, very agitated, which way he went and we said we didn't know...that we hadn't watched him that far. We were able to give him a description of what he looked like. We then saw in the parking lot what appeared to have happened. He had crashed a stolen van into a car in the back, abandoned it and ran and jumped over our back wall. He came through the back door people exit to go pan for gold and walked through and to the theatre and out the side door. I walked out front to find several cop cars and cops going up and down the street on their walkies and there was a helicopter searching over old town for the bandit! Then a citizen from old town ran up to the cops and said he saw him change his clothes in one of the stores. They threw him in the car and suddenly everybody was on the move. I was so disappointed with myself. He looked sketchy for sure and I thought nothing of it cause he seemed to know exactly where he was going. I was like, "Man! I could have followed him in the theatre and asked him what he was doing...then realized he was a criminal and taken him out with my pioneer dress! Or offered to take him on a tour then karate chop him!" Ha...the cops were only like 30 seconds behind him...if I could have just detained him a few it may have helped! Sister Madsen, in the meantime, said, "I'm glad we didn't! We could be dead!" I felt I had failed with my civil duties and was wishing I would have been more alert! Ha..Jack Bauer would be so disappointed = ) Anyway, the next day I was shown the footage from the security cameras and had to identify the criminal and confirm who it was. I felt like I was in an action movie...well...as action packed as it can get here in Old Town at the Mormon Battalion ; ) It was pretty crazy! Don't know if they ever caught the guy...but it sure surprised us that day.
In my Miracle news, we had another baptism this week for our sweet friend Tanya Ramos. Her parents were baptized about 2 years ago and so she was already going to church and pretty well acquainted with everything. She is a student at UCSD and extremely shy. She understands and loves the gospel though, and simply couldn't wait to be baptized! She asked me to sing her favorite hymn at her baptism, "I Need Thee Every Hour." I asked her if she wanted me to sing it in Spanish since she is Spanish and her parents would be coming and they speak very little English. She said no and English would be fine....I wouldn't settle for that though. I sang the last verse in Spanish and when I began and she realized it, the smile that beamed across her sweet face was an image I will never forget. Like I said, she is very shy and shows little emotion...so to see how happy that made her was the greatest. She hugged me after and thanked me for the song. She is already a great little missionary too...her 2 roommates came to the baptism...one brought her flowers and then they took her out for a special lunch after claiming it was her big day. They were very very sweet and I asked how they felt watching the baptism and they felt so happy and were just so excited because they knew how badly she wanted it. I told them they felt that because it was right. I hope they will want to learn as Tanya did soon. As I watched her receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt a strong spirit as I looked at the smile on her face and watched as the proper priesthood authority of God was being exercised for her personal salvation. I am so thankful to know that has been restored to the earth and to see other's Eternity forever changed, and life here on earth forever made better because of their decision to answer our Savior's call of, "Come, follow me."
So we are struggling to find new people to teach now...I am not use to this. in Fuerte I usually had 5 to 8 progressing investigators. Now we have 0 and are lucky if we have 1 or 2...BUT the Lord has already blessed us! We met Raquel on Sunday and we will be teaching her tonight for the first time. She is from L.A. and has a boyfriend who is a member and goes to BYU. He encouraged her to take an institute class on The Book of Mormon, so she did last quarter. She has enrolled in another one this quarter and has loved everything she has read. Her family is Jewish, but she said she knows and feels what she has read an learned is true! Wow! Heavenly Father loves us! Miracles! She loved church, and brought her friend and she loved it too! I am excited to teach these 2 sweet girls!
I had the chance to perform at the Misison President's Fireside again this month. I whipped out my trumpet skills again and played "Called to Serve" with Elder Coon as the missionaries came marching in through the chapel singing. That was pretty cool...and I didn't do so bad! = ) I also had the chance to sing a duet with Elder Dehlin (one of our Assistants to the President who has a very beautiful voice). We sang "Power in His Touch" and the spirit was felt in abundance. Some said to us after that we should do business together after our missions! I was grateful for the opportunity to sing with him and to share my talents and testimony through a song that I love so much... "There is power in His touch. Through His eyes, the blind can see. He has healing in His hands. They reach out for you and me. This is God's plan, to learn His love by following this man. Come find Him and feel the power of His touch." What an incredible and powerful invitation. I was also able to see some old faces from El Cajon...some that are still investigating that I was teaching and some that are working toward a Baptismal date now....it was such a blessing. One, my first baptism, Sister Taylor, saw me and hugged me forever and said she just wanted to take me home = ) How great it is to know the people you gave your heart to have a special place in theirs for you! = ) I also met my number one fan apparently. He said he will be starting a fan page ha ha...he took a picture with me to post and I gave him a signed copy of my CD lol....he was ecstatic = ) I am so thankful to be serving in a mission where I have so many opportunities to use the voice my Father gave me to sing praise and testify of Him and His love!
I love you all with all of my heart and you are always in my prayers! Have a wonderful week and remember there's a Sister Missionary in San Diego who loves you and is working her hardest every day and praying for the Lord's blessings to find you!
Happy Valentine's Day!
All my love,
Sister Riggs
P.S. The picture is of me and 2 wonderful girls I met at the Battalion from Hawaii! They have given me an invitation to come when my mission is over! Ha! Accepted! I will need a serious vacation! = ) They sent me this picture and I wanted to share it!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Happy February

Hello Loved Ones,

Well I hope you all had a wonderful week and that the Super Bowl treated you well ha! I didn't even know it was the Super Bowl....the only reason I knew was because someone called the Battalion asking if we were closing early because of it. Ha! I love being a missionary and not having any idea about that kind of stuff. It all just doesn't matter when it comes to eternal things! They won't make it to the Celestial Kingdom because they won ha ha! Anyway..hope it was fun for you all though.

I had a wonderful wonderful weekend as we were able to have David yang, our little (6'2') China man! OK...he seriously is the greatest. I just have to share a promise he wrote. We taught him the Law of Chastity and asked him to write a promise to keep it to his future wife! We told him by living it now he was showing her how much he loved her already and this is what he wrote...SO SWEET: 
"To my future wife: I give my promise to you. I will keep the commend of God and keep the chastity before marriage. Also, I will love you and our future children whatever we are rich or poor, health or sick and old or young. I will always stand with you and protect you and keep you safe. I know it is God's willing to gather us together and to let us to spend rest of our life together. As we getting married at the holy temple and God and Jesus Christ can be our witnesses. I am so glad to have you and I will try my best to love you and protect you. in the name of the Jesus Christ. Amen. -David Yang" 
Sinceriously? He is too good to be true. Just the cutest, most humble and faithful young men I have ever met. His baptism was so beautiful and we filled the seats to the back of the room with those who came out from the ward and those families that he knew when he first came as a student. He was baptized by the dad of the family who hosted him as a student. They all love him so much. The funny thing was...the font was not filled up high enough (not our fault) and when they stood in the water it was maybe mid-thigh on the dad...and David is taller than him...I looked at my companions like "oh no!!!" ....but after him basically laying down in the water ha ha...it all worked out. What I loved was he didn't even notice or say anything about that. At the end he bore his testimony and he said, "my first thought when I got in the water was, 'Wow, the water is cold.'" But he said after his baptism when he went back to change he just stood there for a minute and did nothing and took a moment to feel and he said the feeling was indescribable and in his words. "I'm so exciting right now!" = ) His testimony was powerful and I was crying tears of joy! I had the opportunity to sing "I Am a Child of God." I sang an arrangement in English and surprised him in the middle of the song with 2 verses in Chinese. When I began he gasped and then laughed a little with joy and there was a ripple of joy that spread to everyone in the room as they realized I was singing for him in his native tongue and the spirit was brought so strongly and many began to cry. I am so thankful to have been a literal instrument for the Lord, and to sing that especially for David. But the amazingness doesn't end there! Sunday he was confirmed and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost and he was just BEAMING! Then, he got up and bore his testimony. he said he thought he would just listen but that as he sat there he felt in his heart that the Lord would have him say something! THEN he was interviewed by the Bishop right after and walked out of the office holding his limited use temple recommend AND Bishop told us he would be getting the Aaronic Priesthood after church!!! WHAT?!!! So cool!!!! THEN, he texted us this morning and said, "guess what? I just went to the temple to do baptisms! It felt great to do work for those who have passed on and everything is white!" ha ha! And in our lesson yesterday he said, "Yeah I have my first calling to the Priesthood, next will be a missionary!" OH I JUST LOVE DAVID!!! Seriously...it doesn't get better than that! He was all of my miracles this week = ) 

I am in the middle of more miracles that i am sure will come down the road. We are teaching the apartment of men from Ghana and it is probably the most I have been challenged on my mission. These men are so incredible. They are so faithful. They pray daily and trust in God and understand Gospel. There are 3 of the 7 who are very open...and were it not for the others we could progress in teaching them...but the others are set on the Bible and believe there is no other word...nothing else needed...even asking them to consider and just try reading a page or two they will not do. It blows my mind! I have been delving into the Book of Mormon and the Bible and was counseled to study with their questions in mind...making them my own. Why do we need a second witness? Can I not get to heaven if I just read the Bible? Where does the Bible talk about this Book of Mormon? It says that nothing shall be added and you are telling me this is an additional witness. I bore the most fervent testimony of The Book of Mormon I think I ever have...and they still just can't wrap their mind around it. They told me if I would have said it was a commentary on the Bible that they would read it. So, I decided I am going to make book covers for them and put it on their copies of the Book of Mormon with the title "Bible Commentary" and ask them to read it! ha! I think that will soften their heart = ) Hanifa, Bright, and Pizzaro are so open to it though and they have agreed to read the introduction in preparation for watching the movie "The Testaments." I can't wait for that lesson...and to see how their hearts soften and change as we continue to teach and testify of the 2 witnesses that the Bible and Book of Mormon are of Jesust Christ! It is 2 Nephi 29: 3-10!!! I read those verses and say Amen! I had my eyes opened to the fact that through these men, i am having the opportunity to ask the questions I never had to...and to gain a further witness of the truth....Crazy...scary and intimidating...but cool! It's TRUE!!!!!

The beginning of my week was really rough. I was really struggling and was given a beautiful priesthood blessing with this counsel: "We must be tested. Sometimes we are tried and sometimes we are instruments for others to be tried...either way we are to learn and grow and right now, Heavenly Father would have you grow." Ever since I received that blessing I have felt a change in my every day and I have been able to get through with a smile. I am so thankful for the power of the priesthood on the earth today!

I love you all and miss you so much! I hope you feel and recognize the care of the Savior through this month filled with extra love!

Sister Riggs