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, March 13, 2013

Weekly Letter from Our Favorite Missionary!

Hello Family,

Well it was a busy and eventful week as usual! I had some great opportunities this week to share my talents and develop some! I got to sing with two Elders from the Islands at the Mission President's Fireside on Sunday. The song went really well and I was honored to sing with them. A young woman came up to me after with her Young Woman's leader and said that they had heard me sing back in September and an Elder had told them I would be singing so they wanted to come and meet me. I was so honored. The young woman, Ella, wanted to know what song I sang. I told her it wasn't written anyway but handed her the lyrics I wrote on a piece of paper so she could have the words because the song really touched her heart. The YW leader then told me she had asked if I could come sing for her YW but was told I couldn't unless I served in their ward. These sisters were just so sweet and I was so touched that my voice meant so much to them. I was able to give them a CD and I promised after my mission I would come back and sing for her young women = ). Another sister came up to me in tears and told me to never stop singing and to never leave a lesson without singing for them because she was converted by the spirit she felt when 2 sisters sang to her. She told me she felt the spirit so strongly as I sang and tears just flowed...again...I was so honored. I also helped an Elder leaving put together a number...he wanted to play the trumpet one last time and had written a duet for the trumpet for our mission song...so...yes, I played again, and I have to say all this trumpet practice is helping me get better and better! It was great. I had the idea to have all of the departing missionaries sing the song. I stood on one side of the room and he stood on the other with trumpets in hand. The song is a duet of "A Marvelous Work" and "The Spirit of God." It was pretty neat and our president loved it. After, a little 7-year-old girl wanted to meet me and her parents told her to tell me what she had said when she heard me playing the trumpet...she told me, "Wow! She is so talented! She plays the trumpet too! That's so neat!" She told me about her little guitar she had at home that she was hoping to learn to play! The Elder I played with said on his way out he heard a little girl say excitedly, "I saw a girl trumpet player! I've never seen one before!" Ha ha...I thought that was too cute. I am glad I am inspiring little girls every where to play the trumpet! ha ha. It was also wonderful because our little China man, David, bore his testimony and shared his conversion story! He is UNREAL! As he shared his story, scriptures, quoted Lorenzo Snow and testified that he would spend the rest of his life testifying of God and this gospel... Sister Rasmussen and I were sitting there with our huge smiles saying, "He's UNREAL!" And I truly felt the scripture from Doctrine and Covenants come true....how if we bring even one soul unto Christ "...How great shall be your joy!" Oh how great!!! I love it!!!!

Sunday was a big day...not only did all of that happen but I also was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting. The topic was: "The Atonement Changed My Life." I almost cried just thinking of the topic. What an honor to speak on such a sacred subject. It was weird because I have never struggled more to write a talk....I spent a whole personal study hour just reading things and trying to figure out where to begin....with 3 hours more...I finally brought it together. I felt so nervous about it for some reason...but I felt confident that what I was prompted to write was what was needed and could be said with confidence. Afterward, a girl visiting the ward randomly from SLC came up to me with her friend and said she just had to thank me for my talk...that it was exactly what she needed to hear and she was so thankful. Her friend nodded and said, "Yeah, as you were talking I couldn't believe it...it was like you were speaking directly to her." I told her that meant the world to me because I prayed so fervently to say what needed to be heard. A few others stopped me in the hall telling me similar things. I know I have nothing to boast of that...I am only humble and thankful that the Lord blessed me with the testimony to bear and the words to say. There is nothing more humbling and no greater peace that comes than when you know you have been given an assignment, you pray to be able to fulfill it, and you then receive confirmation that it was what Heavenly Father needed you to do. I love being His instrument!

We have had interesting things happening with our investigators. We are teaching 3 young women who are solid...yet have 3 difficult circumstances that we are praying for help to be able figure out how to help with or how to proceed with. I love each of these girls so much and know the Lord has placed them in our lives for a reason and that if anything can help...it's the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

I had the opportunity to take leaders of the Visitor's centers for the church on a tour at the Battalion. I did my best to be my natural self and make it great and fun and to my astonishment I was complimented by Steve Allen (basically the creative mind and ruler of all media and such for the church). He said he does not compliment in such a way generously...and that he was honest when he said that it was the best he had ever seen the tour done before...and he'd been on a lot here. Wow! That was too nice! I was so relieved! Ha ha...glad I am doing my job right! Funny thing a little girl said on one of my tours as I asked, "Are you ready to go back in time?" She said, "Well, is it going to take long? Because we have already been on a plane for 3 hrs!" Ha ha...oh I died! I just love children! They are the light of my life!!!!

I had a cool miracle but will have to share it next week!

I have been reading in Mosiah about Abinadi ...who has always been my favorite...I learn so much from him every time...I invite you to read it and just stand all amazed at his unshakable faith in the Lord and how he will not cease to do His will until it is done...even if it costs his life! I just love him! I love the Book of Mormon! Oh! Speaking of!..2 of our Ghana friends came to the fireside...the ones that don't accept the Book of Mormon...and that was all ANYBODY talked about and bore testimony of! It was powerful = ) We are anxious to meet with them this week and hear their thoughts! = /

Ok! Love you all! Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sister Riggs

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's March?! This is Madness!

Happy March Family and Friends,

Wow....I can't believe it is March already....It is already my half way point this month! I can't believe it. As of now, I come home November 26th....unless I extend and return January 7th....I guess we'll see what the Lord wants! = ) But wow...already less than 9 months away...I remember the beginning of my mission I thought I'd be a missionary for the rest of my life! Time really picked up after 4 months!

NEWS! So, we just got the OK to e-mail family AND friends...so I will be able to write back a few more of you = ) That makes me happy! We also got our e-mail time extended! Wahoo! I type much faster than I write...but I still love getting the old fashioned letter in the mail...and sending them = )

We have had such an eventful week I don't even know where to start! We had dinner with our friends from Ghana on Saturday. They wanted to treat us to a Ghanean Feast! It was so delicious and just too funny...they are the kindest people ever. We had a whole table filled with grapes, watermelon, papaya, plantains, salad with carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggs, rice, and delicious Chicken that they put in a yummy kind of sauce...I don't even know what it was but it was spicy and delicious. They even had sparkling cider! They don't drink either = ) We sat together and ate delicious food and showed them some of the Bible Videos the church has made. Since they LOVE the Bible and will only accept that as the word of God...we thought they'd love that...and they did and we had some great discussions. Then, we gave them our gift....yep, we went ahead with my funny idea to make book covers to put over The Book of Mormon....because they said if we told them it was just a commentary on the Bible, they would read it...but if it is said to be scripture or the word of God they won't because it's not in the Bible....so we wrote on the covers: "A Bible Commentary: Guaranteed to Change Your Life!" We gave them 2 copies with the covers on....that softened some hearts for sure...our friend Andrew and Isaac just laughed and smiled and couldn't even speak for a minute...they loved it! We don't know if they read it yet...but hopefully they see by that how much we care that they do read it...and how we are not taking no for an answer!

On Sunday we had the unexpected opportunity to hear from Elder Robert Gay from the Quorum of the Seventy. It was such a wonderful experience! He talked to us about some stories and things he experienced as a mission president in Spain and in Africa....he also talked with us about the power that we have as missionaries....he asked us what we thought that was and a few answers were given, but he then told us, "You have the power to astonish the world as the Lord's missionaries!" It was inspiring...he said there was no silver bullet to this work...but that this work is revelatory and it is directed by the Lord and He has a vision for every area. He will show us that vision and help us find what works best. He served as Mission President in Ghana...that's right! Sister Rasmussen and I ran up to him after and I asked for a few minutes and said, "Do you have a secret weapon or any ideas on how to help the people from Ghana accept The Book of Mormon?" I told him about our friends and he said, "Wow? I never had that problem." We were shocked, but he actually asked for their e-mail address and wants to write them a letter!!! So hopefully...that will help!!!

Yesterday, we had the CRAZIEST experience...it won't even suffice writing about it but I will do my best! We had an "outside of the box finding idea." We decided Sister Rasmussen would bring her guitar, I would bring my voice, and we would make sign that said, "Has a song ever changed your life? Come tell us about it!" We would sing songs that changed/saved ours and people could tell us theirs, and if we knew it we would sing it. We figured it'd apply to a lot of people and that we could definitely tie it into gospel conversations! Welp....the guitar was out because a string was broken...but we went anyway...we drove around for a while trying to decide a good place. We ended up at Mission Bay park...right by the roller coaster...there's a park and the beach and a running path with lots of people...we went and sat on a bench and put our signs up....not working so well without a guitar and music to draw attention...so we stood in the middle of the path with our signs...we just got weird looks...it was cold so we were in our black trench coats, with our name tags and signs ha ha...we decided this was not going to work and we'd try again when we had a guitar...we turned around and saw a young woman sitting at a picnic table right behind us and she was reading the Bible...we said, "Well we could go talk to her!" So we did....she was a faithful 26 year old who proceeded to tell us she wasn't from CA and that she is traveling with her family...they sold everything they had and uprooted from WA and live in two 15-passenger vans with 2 trailers and they just pray to know where God needs them and they go....THEN she said that they all travel and sing together and they all play the strings accept for her brother who plays the trumpet!....WHAAAAT???!!! OH MY GOOFY GUMMIES! Heavenly Father is really funny sometimes.....I looked at her and said, "That's funny...because look at the sign we were holding up to try to get someone's attention?" We talked and I found out her family actually sang at the St. George Temple Visitor's Center when they passed through. I asked her what she thought of Mormons....she said that she respected them but didn't like that they had "another book" that was inspired by someone else.....we taught her about what the Book of Mormon was...more clearly. I told her of a song that changed my life and sang it for her....then Sister Rasmussen and I sang "A Child's Prayer." She then invited us over to meet her family at their vans....they were the nicest and happiest people....they got together and kept saying how blessed they were to sing for us...no lie...they sounded like a professional madrigal choir...and they were INTO what they were singing...They started singing in all these harmonies and sang quite difficult music so perfectly! I was floored! I just smiled hugely...didn't know whether to bust up laughing or not...I held it in and just was wowed...I couldn't believe this experience was actually happening. We sang a hymn for them in exchange and then we all sang "How Great Thou Art." Don't worry...I got video! ha ha! They wanted to play something on all their instruments but we were already 30 minutes late to an appointment because of this encounter! They were also having a BBQ and wanted us to join. It was so crazy. I tried to talk to the father about the church (who looked like Isaiah by the way...or Lehi! Long white beard and all) and he said he had read the Book of Mormon and disagreed with it. He was an interesting man. He told me about his family's journeying and how they were walking by faith rather than site...well I'd say so! I invited his family to the Mormon Battalion and he, in the nicest way, basically refused! We gave him our card and he said again in the nicest way that he would never use it. We said goodbye and got hugs from them all and they were like, "God is good! He is so big! What a great God we have! This was completely a God thing! We are so blessed!" .... AND...another guy showed up for the BBQ and asked if we were from Utah...which my companion is and they were from the same city. I asked him what his story was and he said he was addicted to drugs and alcohol for 13 years and moved out here, is sober for 4 years and has found God...we were like, "Well that's great!" Then he asked, "Does one of you suffer from headaches?" Sister Rasmussen said she does slightly...he said, "God is telling me one of you has a lot of headaches. Can I pray for you?" "Uhh...yes..." He took her hand and "healed her" ... "No more headaches...may they dissolve and leave your body.." He then said, "Jesus Loves to heal..." Sister Rasmussen's face was priceless....ha ...and she still had a headache = ) Oh man...then on our way to another appointment...in the elevator a lady looked at us and smiled as she walked out she said, "You both have the Holy Spirit...I can see it in your faces..." and she left.....we looked at each other and thought as the door was closing, "Yes we do!!! Can we tell you how?!!!" Ha ha...we then said, "Man...what is up with today?!" I have no idea the purposes for meeting the Buckingham family of singers....but I do know that seeds were planted...and that it was NOT an accident!!! Too many things that fell into place! Again...goofy gummies....Pacific Beach is crazy!

We have 3 solid investigators that are doing well. Racquel is progressing and loves the gospel and knows it is true. We had a special fast with her on Sunday for her family's hearts to be softened and she is actually bringing a friend to our next lesson who is interested! So that's great! She's already doing missionary work. Our other two are sisters, Jackie and Rachel, and they are just sponges! Soaking everything up. We meet with them twice a week and they are having tender experiences with the spirit. We hope to have a date for baptism set with them by the end of this week. They promised they will come to church for the first time this week. One of the less-actives we have been working with, who wants to just throw in the towel but we keep trying to help him see how that isn't the better idea, came to church on Sunday and actually got up and bore his testimony. You should have seen the smile on my face! There really is no greater happiness that comes than when you know you are helping the Lord keep His sheep within His fold. I just love to know that I am helping...that's what I want to be...is helpful!

A lot more coming up this week! Another mission president's fireside to sing at! I am attaching a video of our practice! Hope you like it!

Love and miss you all! 
~Sister Riggs


Monday, March 4, 2013

Your favorite weekly e-mail!‏

Dear Family,

Well, it has been another great week here in the mission field. I honestly sit down to e-mail each week and my mind is blank most of the time as I try to pinpoint just a few things out of ALL that happens in just one week as a missionary! It's just crazy!

So, first of all...a little funny experience we had at the Battalion this week was with this adorable family from China. They had 2 twin boys and they were quite the entertainers! I sang "I Am a Child of God" in Chinese for them. Their dad told me they liked Chinese Rock music and he played a song on the phone and as soon as it began they immediately started dancing and singing along and I wish all of you could have been there...it sinceriously was the funniest thing to watch and it brought SO much joy to my heart! What was even cooler was at the end of the tour, the father wanted to learn more. I gave him a Book of Mormon in Chinese and I was telling him of the promise that comes with reading and praying about the book. As I was doing this, one of his little boys was clicking away the little button I press to take pictures....and the picture I have attached is what he caught! I walked back to the screen and saw that and almost started crying....how lucky...his son snapped a photo of his father opening The Book of Mormon for the first time....I just loved that. That sweet family made my day...and I get to teach them through e-mail in China...and someday...when missionaries can go there and spread the gospel...they will be ready!
I also had another really neat experience yesterday...I was working on some referrals and the sister up front asked if anyone was on shift that knew sign language...I said, "No, Sister Madsen (not an ASL Sister but she majored in ASL) isn't here...I know a little bit...are they still here?" "Yes, but I couldn't communicate with them at all." I said, "I'll do my best." I ran up front to see how I could help. Now remember...it has been about 12 or 13 years since my 2 years of Sign Language...but I am always excited to try. I met John, a member of the church who just moved here from Utah after his wife's death, and Chuck and Anita, a couple he knows and brought to the Battalion from L.A....all were deaf. I was the only Sister around who could stall them and keep them there while they called the ASL Elders to see if they could make it to the Battalion to interpret the tour. They were SO sweet and patient with me. They finger spelled really slowly so I could follow and the more I signed with them the more came back to me! It was so cool! I signed with them for like 20 minutes and my brain was SO exhausted...I forgot how mentally taxing signing is because you always have to be engaged. We talked about where they were from and why they moved to CA. I told them about how I learned ASL and they asked if I had any deaf friends and I signed, "I wish! Then I would be better at signing! Will you be my friend? Then you can teach me?" They told me about traveling to Tiajuana and how long and boring the drive is. I told them I love road trips when I can turn the music up loud and sing at the top of my lungs! I told them about how I loved to sing and how I sang in college and they looked me up on YouTube on their iphone and I signed, "See! I'm pretty famous! '= )" They laughed and asked if I was rich and if they could come to my concerts and I told them I would get them front row seats and they could be my number one fans! Ha ha...how I was able to sign this all.. I don't know...but they helped me and it was just so neat. The Elders FINALLY got there and I took them on a tour and it just added a special spirit having them on the tour. I felt love for them in my heart as I related their story to the members of the Mormon Battalion...and when I testified of how sometimes we have trials in our lives that we would never choose...but just like Zamira tells us in the story..."Despite our difficult circumstances, we chose to be happy..." that when we choose to be happy and have faith and trust in the Lord, our greatest trials can become our greatest blessings. They were so sweet and thanked me so much and Chuck and Anita want to have missionaries come teach them more! It was funny because after signing with them, it was really hard to not sign as I talked and gave my tour...I wanted to sign all the words I knew! I told one of the ASL Elders I wanted to be an ASL Sister so badly! He told me to call Salt Lake and see what I could do! It was such a humbling experience and I am thankful I got to be a part of it.

We added two more investigators this week that are so great! They are sisters! Jackie and Rachel are 20 and 22 and they were former investigators but lost touch due to personal struggles and just being too busy with school. But we were able to get in touch with Jackie and she wanted to meet with us. We had a great first meeting with her and her Sister and both are ready and willing to learn right now. Jackie was the one who was meeting with missionaries before and I asked her what she was hoping to get from meeting with us or what she would like us to help her with and she said, "I just want to start from scratch, as if I am learning for the first time. I just want to learn everything about the Book of Mormon and the church and everything. I noticed a real shift in my life when I was meeting with the Sisters before, and I just got caught up in school and I just want to start over." She also pulled out her set of scriptures in the middle of the lesson! WHAT?! After the lesson I looked at Sister Rasmussen and smiled and said, "That's amazing! I just love when Heavenly Father does all the work for us! She's thirsting for this right now!" Her Sister also wants to learn. She said she grew up Catholic, and now in school she is studying religion, and she wants to study this "branch of Christianity." = ) We know she will notice a difference! As I promised these sweet girls that our message was of great value and importance because it is centered on Jesus Christ. I told them of how we all make mistakes and how that brings guilt and shame into our lives, but that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ those burdens can be lifted. I testified that I knew personally that it indeed was true because of the time in my life when I felt completely hopeless, and faithless and didn't know how to have that again in my life or if it was worth trying....but that because of the Love and the true power of the Atonement, I was able to sit before them with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. I went on and a few minutes later Jackie stopped me and said, "Personal question...you said that you had a time where you couldn't feel hope....how did you get out of that? Like what did you do to overcome that...because that is what I have been struggling with...I pray but I need something more I think...I keep making the same mistake." I was taken back, but then my heart filled with a warmth and a love for my Savior as I saw Him giving me an opportunity to bear personal witness of how the Atonement changed my life and how I knew it would do the same for her. There was a sweet spirit there as I testified. Tears fell down her cheek as I reassured her that she is always worthy to pray for help...that even if all the strength she had was just enough to get on her knees, that He hears and knows what's in her heart and that He will bless her for showing her faith. I ached for her as I remembered those feelings of despair...but oh how grateful I was in that moment to know that healing and hope is possible, even when it seems otherwise. I told her of how I had to let go and turn it over to Him and that was when hope started coming back in my life...that I turned to the scriptures and studied faith as counseled wisely by my Bishop. Family! This is WHY I came on a mission! The Savior saved me and changed me when I was broken and at my worst. I knew there were others in the world feeling what I felt who didn't know where to turn. I am so excited to be able to help Jackie find that same hope and happiness in her life. Heavenly Father is giving me opportunities to fulfill my mission dreams! = ) I left her with some verses to read that helped me...and just in case any of you are feeling the same ...I want to leave them with you too. Notice the process as you read it....

D&C 58:2-4
For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.

Moroni 6:8  
But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.

John 14:18  
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Mosiah 23:10  
Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth.

This is why we have tribulation....to try us, strengthen and refine us so we can put on our divinity, and to then stand as a testimony and witness of God and His great love! This love is what has made me who I am today! And today is the day I will open my mouth and proclaim it! 

I love you all and I love this work! The gospel is true!!!

Sister Riggs