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!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Heavenly Father Doesn't Miss the Details! (Letter on 4/23/13)

Dear Family and Friends,

Well it has been an eventful week with being quite sick with a virus, adding 3 investigators, and being all set and ready to go for a baptism that sadly didn't happen, and the miracles of the YSA Mission President's Fireside!...I am exhausted! ; ) I also feel pretty drowsy from my Dimetapp ha ha...I'll do my best with this letter!

So with the baptism...we were all set and ready to go for Casmier's baptism at 5pm Saturday. Sister Rasmussen and I were there filling the font and setting up chairs, practicing our musical number and then we got a call from our member who was suppose to pick Casmier up saying he wasn't there! We then saw we had missed phone calls from our Bishop and Ward Mission Leader and a text saying the baptism was cancelled for the day....we were speechless and so confused...Casmier was with a bunch of members from our ward (who were participating in the baptismal program) on a hike that was about 2 hours away. They had left at 7:30 in the morning, promised they'd be back for a BBQ at 1pm and he'd be back for his baptism...here it was, 4:30, and they hadn't even left yet....apparently, a senior couple that went got pretty sick with heat stroke while on the hike and also, our investigator really struggled with the hike....so coming back they had to stop every 30 minutes to take a break. They didn't even leave until 5 or 5:30 and his baptism was at 5. I was totally on board with doing it at 7pm or Sunday morning before church, but working out details with our Ward Mission Leader and Bishop proved to be more difficult than expected and it all just fell through for the whole weekend. We were all shocked and disappointed in those we trusted with him, and couldn't believe such a silly and preventable thing interfered. I felt so awful for Casmier, and he was pretty bummed out about it. Luckily he is the tenderest, most humble human being I know and he didn't let it all change his desires. Casmier is still super excited to be baptized, he has lots of friends now, and we are just trying to get it scheduled for Friday this week. It's all been pretty frustrating but nevertheless! There will be a baptism and the gospel is still true! = )

We added 3 new investigators this week and they are quite the miracles! They have all been prepared by the Lord and it's astonishing. Laurel, was a girl we added and were teaching back in January who dropped us. At the time she was pretty much only wanting to talk about God and didn't want to hear about Jesus Christ. I think we got a little too personal and spiritual for her at the time and she didn't want us to come anymore and told the Elders she hated girls ha ha..she pretty much gets along best with guys....well she texted us out of the blue and said she wanted to meet...we were shocked and asked if it was an accident! We were astonished when she said she had watched all four sessions of general conference by her own choosing and decided she would be dumb not to call us. She said she wants peace and calm in her life and to be able to make sense of everything that doesn't. She said she was ready to listen to us now and let us do our "normal missionary thing." What?! Crazy! Our other investigator we added is Johnny. He is a young man from Sweden who pretty much is addicted to being around Mormons! He has 12 best buddies who are Mormon and serving missions. He's been to institute before and loves being around our clean, wholesome fun, and loves how happy they always are and the way they take life. He wants to be involved in all of the activities and go to institute class and learn from us! He says the only reason he hasn't ever been baptized is because he hasn't felt and doesn't know for himself that this is all real. What?! Miracles! The Book of Mormon can help with that! And Sarabeth was a referral we received. She has a boyfriend who is a member of the church and he wasn't answering her questions the way she was wanting him to, so she decided to go straight to the source and get in touch with us!... And just after hearing the Restoration she said, "I already feel like this is true." It's amazing! We are now teaching 8 solid people who have a real desire to learn more, when just over a month ago, we only had 2 and even 1 person who wanted to learn more. We are being blessed! 

I went on exchanges last week to the Black Mountain Branch with Sister Pagel, and it was a funny day trying to street contact in a neighborhood...I don't think we can street contact in the same way Elders can sometimes...saw an old lady doing yard work and laying grass and we asked if we could help and she said no....kept walking and saw a lady washing her car and asked if we would help...she said no....saw a man weatherproofing his fence and asked if he had another brush we could grab to help him get done faster...he said no....ha ha...it was pretty discouraging...but then we had a funny moment...we were walking back towards the church and I saw a young man and woman walking and I said, "Let's try to catch up to them...walk fast I don't want to creep them out by running!" We caught up and they were crossing the street and looked back at us kind of weird and I said, "HI! Can we ask you a question?!" I didn't have any specific question in mind but they stopped! Ha..we talked and found out they were actually 30 and the girl had been to the church before and loved it and had a cousin who was Mormon! They were open to coming again and we found to potential investigators! That was neat! Never give up!!! Ha ha...We also had a pretty neat lesson with a less-active member, Angel. He had been questioning if this was all true or not and wanted to start over...so we started with the Restoration. Sister Pagel had him read Joesph Smith's words from the first vision and when he finished he said, "Wow! That's amazing!" I asked, "What's amazing?" He said, "I feel really happy right now and I don't know why..but it's amazing!" I bore my testimony that it was the spirit bearing witness to him that this was true and really happened...he then smiled even bigger and said, "I just realized I got an answer to my prayer yesterday...I didn't know then but I know now!" He was so happy, and I was so happy for him! I love the happiness this gospel brings!

So, as I mentioned, I got really sick last week...I have made it 10 months without getting sick! Sad to ruin my streak! My district leader and 3 others Elders gave me a Priesthood Blessing...I knew I needed one if I wanted to have a voice to sing at Casmier's baptism and the special YSA Mission President's Fireside. Elder Sims' gave a beautiful blessing through the power of God and promised that through my faith I would have my voice to be able to perform the duties I had been asked to. He also said Heavenly Father was happy I was turning to the Priesthood for help and that he was pleased with the work I have been doing here in the mission field....I love the Priesthood and am so thankful for Heavenly Father trusting us with His power and letting us be able to benefit from it . I did what I could to "take it easy" but you pretty much can't rest as a missionary and rest and vitamin C was the only advice the Doctor had to give...come Saturday I was carrying a box of Kleenex with me and making my companion gag as I tried to cough up the congestion....at the fireside practice I just had the mic up really loud and tuned in to my "breathy singing skills" and it sounded OK....I was able to sing at least! I had faith I would be able to sing. The true miracles happened Sunday....first of all...it was a miracle that I found this music to this song that I heard about a year and a half ago. I loved it so much and thought, "I just have to find this music." While looking for another I had in mind to sing for this fireside, I found it...and I almost cried with happiness. I knew it was the one to sing. There was also a Cello part written for it....remember the random door I knocked on because I heard a cello playing? Yeah...I went back and took the music with me and invited her to come and to play for me! She seemed iffy about it but said she would take a look at the music and check her schedule...I was all ready for miracles to happen!!! But she later said she couldn't come...aww nuts...BUT I did get in touch with an amazing member who plays the Viola beautifully...he jumped at the opportunity! At the practice, we performed the piece for the director and she cried through the whole thing and afterward said, "There are no words." SO...come Sunday, I arrived to do a run through before the fireside and found my accompanist (who was accompanying the whole fireside) was very sick and actually throwing up! We were trying to find someone who could play for a good 20 minutes...another Sister who reads music well took over the choir stuff...Elder Wallentine came around the corner and said, "Let's do a run through." As sick as he was he wanted to try to play for me. We did a practice and it went smoothly...we had a prayer and I prayed with all my heart that he would be sustained and able to play, that my voice would be able to sing, and that through the talents God had given us, we would be able to add our testimonies of the Atonement, to the beautiful words and melody of this song and bring glory and honor to our Savior, Jesus Christ. I was the last number on the program. I stood and sang and was so focused on bearing testimony...my voice wasn't flawless, but one sister said she completely forgot I was even sick...I was able to sing...there was a big part that I heard the piano mess up and I kept singing and just had a prayer in my heart for  Elder Wallentine...figuring he was feeling sick....the song was beautiful and the spirit was so thick in the room. It was so quiet...President Clayton stood to speak and said, "I feel I don't even want to speak...but just bask in the spirit that is here..." Afterwards, the missionaries told me what was happening behind my back as I sang...Elder Wallentine didn't have the last page of music...he was playing the whole time and freaking out asking where it was and praying through the 2nd to last page that he'd find it....when he was on the LAST measure of the page that he had, someone set the last page of music on the stand and he was able to finish the song....it had fallen under the piano!!! Holy cow I am so glad I didn't know that was happening! MIRACLE!!! But....even greater was later that night as I was getting ready for bed I got a text from one of the other sister missionaries telling me about a miracle that happened with one of her investigators. She said that Paula, was someone she had taught for several months back in her old area and that they she had been taught and taught and kept all their commitments and came to church, but that she would always say, "I have felt things in other churches but I just don't feel anything here. I don't feel when I read, I don't feel when I pray." Eventually they stopped teaching her and just kept in touch once in a while. Well, they invited her to the fireside and they told me that afterwards, Paula came up to them with tears in her eyes. She is in the military...and doesn't show emotion and they had never seen her like that. They asked if she was OK. She just looked at the, and the sister said, "You felt it in your heart didn't you?" She cried and said yes and said, "That girl who sang the last song...her voice was so beautiful...and I felt...you can call me any time...I would love to meet again." Sister Madsen told me that my voice and my testimony I bore through that song converted Paula's heart! Although I know it was not me, but the power of the spirit, I was so thankful so know I had been an instrument in the Lord's hands for Paula that night...who knows what other stories there might be...but I know why Heavenly Father was working so many miracles...with my voice, with Elder Wallentine's health, with finding the last page of music in the nick of time...but most importantly...the miracle taking place in the heart of one of His daughters. Heavenly Father is a busy Father....but He sure doesn't miss any details!!! I wanted to e-mail the sound file from the recording of the song, but it is too large to send...I will try to figure out how to compress it...I mean...I will find someone who knows how to compress it so I can e-mail it to you = ) But here are the words, I hope they strengthen you like they have strengthened me:

Walk With Me:

There's a quiet place inside my heart, a place that no one sees.
Where all my battles won and lost, are known to only Thee.
A Sanctuary in my soul, where I can hear you speak, 
and give me strength to fight again, when I am tired and weak.
You've placed my burdens on your back, engraved my pain upon your hands, 
So I will bear this cross for Thee, if you will walk with me.

You tell me of the pain you bore, and know what I can bear, 
that you have walked this road before, and you will meet me there.
So for you who drank the bitter cup, I'll take my own and drink it up, 
if it will make me more like Thee, but Savior, walk with me.

If this thorn I carry in my flesh, like those that pierced your sinless head,
Can sanctify my heart for Thee, I'll bear it willingly
If you will walk with me,
Oh Savior, walk with me.

He truly does walk at our side through everything. Take the time to notice Him and feel Him there with you. I love my Savior and am thankful for the opportunity I have to testify of Him and help others come unto Him. There's no place I'd rather be!

Love You,
Sister Riggs

Sister Elle Woods! Would you like to learn the gospel? = ) That's for you mom!
Me with Sister Rasmussen and Sister Silva at the Mormon Battalion
This amazing artist just sitting at the corner painting the Battalion and doing an amazing job!