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!

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