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, May 22, 2013

11 Months?! Really? (Letter on 5/21/13)

Dear Family and Friends,

It's true, yesterday was my 11 month mark and I can hardly believe it. It's a weird mixture of feelings....the MTC literally feels like 10 years ago...and thinking about how little time I have left just blows my mind. June is just around the corner which means summer is already going to be over and it'll be November before I know it...and it is all flying by faster than I can keep up with! There is so much more I want to accomplish and so much more becoming I have to do...I'm freaking out a little bit! This last Sunday one of the members in my ward I serve in gave her "farewell" talk and I was crying through the whole thing as memories of how I felt before I left flooded through my mind and heart. She sang an arrangement she wrote of "He Sent His Son" with two of her sisters and it was SO beautiful...the spirit overwhelmed me just seeing them stand up there together to sing...it made me miss singing with my sisters so much. Life is amazing and missions just really open your eyes to how even more amazing it is and can be. I am so thankful to be here serving the Lord.

I had one of the greatest experiences of my mission this last week as our investigator, Arthur, was baptized. He arrived at his baptism clean-shaven and with a haircut! He was also dressed in Sunday clothes! I have never seen him in anything but shorts and a shirt or pajama pants and a shirt. A member had taken him to Salvation Army where he got some church clothes and pretty spiffy shoes! Bishop gave him one of his favorite ties. He looked so changed and his countenance beamed! I think the spirit was extra strong at the baptism because of those that Arthur asked to participate...leading the music was a recent convert who didn't know how to lead the music but was honored to be asked to help and very humble about it. The talk on baptism was given by our most recent-convert, Casmier, who has a fear of public speaking. Arthur was afraid to ask him because he didn't want to put him through any anxiety, but we encouraged him to do it and that even the invitation would mean a lot to him. He was more than honored to speak. He wrote his talk and read it from his phone like he did with his testimony when he was baptized and WOW!...what an amazing spirit and what powerful words from someone who is so young in the gospel. As I listened to him speak and heard him tell Arthur that he was a "lost lamb" that had now been found, my heart burned. I began to cry and sat and listened in awe. I reached my hand back to Sister Rasmussen to give her a squeeze of love at this sweet moment, remember how the Lord had lead us to find Casmier while walking through a parking lot. There couldn't have been any greater joy than I felt in that moment as I saw Arthur, a young man totally lost in darkness before he found the gospel, sitting in white, completely changed and ready and willing to make covenants, while listening to someone I got to teach bear testimony of the blessings of baptism!! SURELY there could be no greater joy! My heart has seldom swelled with so much happiness and my eyes were wet with tears. It was wonderful! Arthur had asked us to sing. We had sung "Did You Think to Pray?" in a couple of lessons and he told us it was his absolute favorite and it would be awesome if we sang it. So me, Sister Miller, and Sister Rasmussen put together a little trio of it, with Sister Miller playing the guitar. Arthur cried as we sang and the spirit was brought so sweetly. We shared a message of hope and of the amazing change we had seen in Arthur as only through the Savior, Jesus Christ, the hopelessness he felt had changed to a perfect brightness of hope! Arthur even stood at the end of his baptism to bear his testimony and it was like a punch of the spirit! Ha ha...short and to the point...but so pure and powerful! He just said "I know this is the true Church of Jesus Christ....I know it was restored through the prophet, Joesph Smith, and I know that through reading The Book of Mormon...I know God is real and if God is with me, then who can be against me?!.." Yeah!! Surprisingly, Arthur's parents came and had nothing but gratitude for us. His dad said he had seen a change in him that was good. His mother was in tears throughout and thanked us saying, "I have been praying and praying for a miracle for my boy because he was so lost. I knew He needed God in his life and I am so glad you sisters came into his life and helped him!" His dad wants us to teach his sister, and his mom wants to meet with the missionaries now!!! She said after, "I feel so much joy I am wondering if I want to be baptized now!" Ha ha! Does it get any greater?! I love being a part of this work. Arthur has already brought a friend to the gospel too (Anthony) and we have begun teaching him and he has set a date to be baptized for June 15th! MIRACLES!!!! He told us that he has known Arthur for a long time, and seeing everything that has happened with him, and just being around us and the people at church for 3 days, he has already felt that this is all true. He wants it for himself. He wants Arthur to be able to baptize him and he pretty much would jump in right now if he could, ha ha! He told us he already had a dream that he was serving a mission! What?!! So cool! Arthur received the Gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday and when we met with him yesterday, we pulled up to him running around in the street playing football with Anthony. I had never seen him show so much energy! We sat down and he told us that he had never felt happier...that ever since yesterday he had felt so much joy and he loved it!!! As we read the first vision with him and Anthony...he stopped us and said he really loved it because Joseph describes the darkness that surrounded him before his prayer was answered...and that he was delivered from destruction. He looked me in the eyes and from the bottom of his heart expressed his gratitude...he said he knew if we hadn't come into his life, if he hadn't answered the door...he wouldn't be here today...he said he would most likely have been living in a canyon with a bunch of homeless people doing drugs...seriously....and he said he felt like we really did save him and he was so grateful....he covered his face with his shirt and began to cry.....WOW....what a sweet and tender moment I will never forget...and may I add that all of this change, and all of this hope is possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. When we follow Him, when we accept Him as our Savior and do the things we have seen Him do...and trust in His promises...our lives and our hearts...indeed our whole WORLD can be changed...just as it was for Arthur. 

I mostly just want to leave you with that this week, but wanted to share another neat experience with following a prompting. Wednesday I was on exchanges and had another Sister in the area with me. We had been unable to make appointments as Wednesday during the day was not an ideal time for most people. So we went out in search of less-actives. We searched for 2 and 1/2 hrs and no one was home. Throughout the day I kept thinking of the Baugh family. I had never met them but knew of them. I had a phone conversation with the father all the way back in December. He was actually someone who called us and referred Teresa to us! Remember? My Birthday baptism?! I had called him to invite him to the baptism and he told me a lot of things happening with his family...including a son coming home from his mission to work through some health things. I bore my testimony of the miracles I knew the Lord performed because of what he had done for me in my life to get me on my mission. I told him that when we align our will with the Lord's and do all we can, miracles happen, and He provides a way. He told me then he hoped to meet me someday. Well, when I got moved to La Jolla, I found out that we covered their area and that he also had a less-active daughter at home. So...back to the present...I was thinking about them all day and thinking, "I don't know how much longer I am going to be here but I do want to meet them, and I wonder how his son is doing and if he's still working on getting back to the mission field....plus his daughter should come to church!" We were almost out of time and I said, "There is just one more place we gotta try. I can't go home without stopping by." Well, we pulled up and all 3 of them were outside! We shared a message with them of strength in trials and a loving Heavenly Father. I turned to ask the father if there was a time in his life that he had felt the Lord strengthened him to be able to do something he didn't think he could. He stopped and said, "Can I just tell you sisters, that everything you have been saying has been exactly what I needed today. Something really difficult happened to me yesterday and I heard some pretty astonishing things and Satan was really working on me last night....I really was wondering if I was ever going to go back to church...but this has been a good reminder for me...so I have to thank you for coming by." I testified of Heavenly Father's love for him..and that he was aware and told him how coming by was not in our plans...but Heavenly Father knew better and let us know where we needed to be so that he would know He cared about him and his family. We invited his son and daughter to the single's ward and his son said, "Yeah I have actually been feeling a lot of promptings to go to the single's ward but I can't drive and don't have a car." His daughter has an old 66' Mustang and has been trying to get it to work and Brother Baugh said, "I will have that car running by Sunday so they can get to church." His daughter laughed and said, "FINALLY!!" ...On Sunday, we were singing the opening hymn and I turned to see who had just walked in to sit down and almost jumped out of my seat when I saw it was them! Ha ha! So happy!

During Sacrament meeting on Sunday I was touched as I sang the final verse of the hymn that said, "Pardon faults O Lord we pray, bless our efforts day by day..." I have been seeing the many faults I have as I am now in the "fine-tuning" stages of my mission...and it has been a little discouraging...and I said a silent prayer to know that I was doing good...that I wasn't failing every day like Satan was trying to make me feel I was....then just after that, in the departing missionary's talk, she shared a quote I had shared with her in a lesson earlier this week. When she started reading it I started to cry. When she finished reading she turned to me and smiled. I felt her gratitude, and I felt the reassurance of my Heavenly Father wrap around me. We all have weaknesses...but even with weak things, the Lord can perform mighty miracles. How grateful I am to be a part of them. 

All my love,
Sister Riggs

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Never Alone in His Work! (Letter on 5/14/13)

My Dearly Beloved (ha ha),

       Well I hope everyone had a marvelous Mother's Day! It was wonderful to have a chance to call home. I had a good laugh listening to my family try to figure out how to use the speaker phone and how to place it in the best place so they could all hear me ha ha....my companion's family was sitting around their table with speakers and everything set up for her call...the phone I was on got placed in a bowl...ha ha. I love my family = ) As I listened to all the background noise and everything it was almost as if I was sitting right there at the table. I could picture it all perfectly. I had the opportunity to sing AND speak in sacrament meeting for the 3rd Mother's Day in a row! It's becoming a tradition...don't know how much I like it! It was weird to be a missionary speaking in sacrament in a single's ward on Mother's Day about motherhood. Ha ha...we really struggled writing our talks and nothing was coming to us and we kept saying, "Why is this so hard? Can we just talk about The Restoration?" We were both so nervous to speak and were REALLY relying on the spirit. The thoughts I shared miraculously came together the morning of...and I read in the Relief Society Theme that it says, "We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who..." I shared of two incredible women from the Bible who were not yet married, but because of the righteous choices they made and the virtuous lives they lived...they became mother's who affected generations...even us today. A woman of virtue and charity was Rebekah...we read of her story in Genesis 24. She was a fair virgin who worked hard and went about doing good. Abraham's servant had been sent to find a wife for Isaac. He prayed that he would be lead to her and told God that if there was a woman who, when he asked if he could have water drink offered it, but then also offered to fetch some for his camels, that he would know this was the woman for Isaac. As Rebekah went to draw water from the well, he asked and she got water not only for him but for his camels. Long story short, she marries Isaac and they love each other and she was blessed to be "the mother of thousands of millions." Also...the Savior of the world comes through the lineage of Rebekah. Did she know that then? No...Did the choices she made then matter? Yes. A woman of faith and vision was Mary who was blessed among woman and highly favored of the Lord. She also was virtuous. She had the greatest of faith when her response to the angel was in Luke 1, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word...And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name." We don't hear much about how Mary nurtured and mothered Jesus, but we know that she often "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart..." and that Jesus "...grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him..." and "...increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." Surely, none of this could be done without his righteous and faithful mother. Her choices she made in her youth prepared her to be the mother of the Son of God. The righteous decisions she made have affected us all today. We can stand in holy places for our future families as we commit now to be steadfast and immovable in our faith and in our choices and in determining now to be sealed in the Temple to our future spouse and raise a family up in righteousness. I expounded on these thoughts but that was the core of what I spoke about. It is TRUE! We have the power to affect thousands! "Generations are depending on the choices you make, your purity, and your worthy lives. Be not moved. You have a great destiny before you. This is your moment! I truly believe that one virtuous man or woman, led by the Spirit, can change the world!"

        We continue to see miracles here in La Jolla and are amazed at the people we are meeting. We added 5 new investigators last week and extended another invitation to baptism that was accepted! One of the crazy experiences we had this week was going to contact a referral from our Zone Leaders. Their names were George and Chris. Chris wasn't home, but George was, and so was another roommate named Ali (like the Prince = ). I am 100% sure that our Zone Leaders met Chris and George so that we could find Ali. We talked for a few minutes and I asked if we could sing a song for them. Sister Miller and I sang "Did You Think to Pray" and the spirit was brought so strongly...you could tell even standing next to a loud freeway. I asked George how he felt as he listened to that song and he said, "I feel like you two are really talented and you should be artists focusing on your career rather than wasting your time doing whatever it is you are trying to do now." ...uuuhhh...ok....Then I turned to Ali...he waved his friend away and said, "I know that's what he said and how he feels, but honestly, I pray to God a lot and I have made Him promises that I haven't kept. But I know he has blessed me still and still given me things I don't deserve and I want Him in my life more and I feel like this is my first calling to come back." ...ok whaaaa??!!! MIRACLE!!! We couldn't believe the night and day difference, but there is clear evidence the different experience people have with the spirit when their heart is hard or when it's open. We went right after that to meet for the first time with another referral. She is a wonderful and intelligent woman with a good head on her shoulders and she knows what she wants. She was asking all the questions and leading the conversation...what was amazing was as I listened to her talk I found she was really seeking peace. My favorite scriptures in John 14 came to mind...verse 18 and 27. I told her how I knew this gospel was true because of verse 18. She didn't like how short it was and literally asked, "Is there a longer one you can share with me?" ha ha..I told her I wasn't done yet. I started to share an experience thinking I was going to lead it to one thing...but as I shared I highlighted something totally different...she has hosted and worked in a lot of night clubs and has been around the party scene a lot in her life...she had lived in Vegas but ended up moving back here because of the negative affect that night life was having on her. I forgot this and didn't know it to full extent...but the Spirit knew... I simply was sharing how I was completely on my own when I moved to Florida to work for Disney...that it was the first time in my life I was truly alone...no family or friends or anyone who even knew me close by to hold me accountable...and it was then that I had to decide if this was what I believed and if this was how I was going to choose to live my life. I mentioned how I was surrounded by others who did not live the way I did and I was often invited to participate in the kind of lifestyle they had...but that I chose to stand my ground and I saw how living the standards of the gospel was my safety and was what allowed me to have such peace and joy in this world. I then shared verse 27 and she said, "Wow...I really like that one...and I can completely relate." I went back in my brain and thought..."Wait..that's not even where I was going to go with that!" But the spirit guided my words and she said before she left, "This was perfect and it was exactly what I needed today." MIRACLE! We met with our friend Christian again and were blown away as he came back to us and said he had read to 1 Nephi 4 and from what he understands so far was that if you desire to know things are right and true that the Lord will help and bless you as you pray to him for help. He also compared the difference between Nephi's desire and Laman and Lemuel's...we were like, "OK....let's just let you teach us!" He is so prepared and we invited him to be baptized on June 29th and he accepted! MIRACLE!! I sure love all of these! To top off the week, yesterday was a whole chain of events that showed us Heavenly Father was micro-managing. First we taught a recent convert, Taylor, whom we love and is so incredible and helps us all the time, and she couldn't wait to tell us how our talks touched her heart and how a story I shared in Sunday School class helped confirm to her that she is going to serve a mission! This sweet little 18 year old recent convert told us what a difference we had made in her life and how she just wants to be able to do that for someone else and she can't get a mission off of her mind! Then she came and taught Arthur with us (who is getting baptized this Saturday! yay!) and every time she shared something the spirit was brought so powerfully! Then we went and taught our investigator Jackie and invited our other recent convert, Keri, to come and teach with us. Keri cancelled her dinner reservations with her boyfriend on his BIRTHDAY because she told him she needed to be there to help the missionaries and Jackie! We had no idea and felt awful! But it meant the world to Jackie and they connected incredibly in the lesson and after Jackie said the closing prayer (which included how much she admired Keri) they both sprang up and hugged each other saying, "you're so amazing!" ha ha...it was the sweetest...then our appointments cancelled so we drove to a less-active recent convert and stood outside the door a while knocking then writing a note to leave...which lead us to park outside of Emily's (the random girl I found that plays the cello...yeah I decided to use dropping by to pick up my music as an excuse to try and teach her ha ha)....my companion prayed to Heavenly Father with the great faith that she knew we were there for a reason, that He wouldn't have us waste time, and that there was someone to find and to give us the courage to talk to everyone. Right as we got out of the door there was a man, Mehran, she said hello to and he was impressed I could parallel park in the spot I did and said he would have bet $50 I couldn't have..ha ha...we talked with him and did a minute to win it Restoration message and told him about the Book of Mormon...we then went around the corner to Emily's...we knocked 3 times and could hear them inside and they were not coming to the door....I was bummed...but we stood there and began to write a note..then she came to the door...as I started talking to her, one of our investigators who has been struggling and a little resistant to meet with us, came around the corner! WHAAA??!!! While I made a fool of myself and talked with Emily and her roommate about music and the fireside and even stalled for time by having them listen to the recording of the song I wanted her to play on my i-pod...Sister Miller had a lesson with our investigator...I had no idea what happened...but after we left, Sister Miller said it was the coolest miracle of the day and that she was able to crack under the surface and learn important things that will help us help her better. The musically talented Asians think I am crazy but at least my craziness allowed a miracle to happen in the hallway! We recounted the chain of events and how the time all worked out way too perfectly...and smiled knowing the Lord is directing and loves His children so much and we are never alone in this work.

This is all real. I know it, I love it! I hope you do to! We are so lucky!

I love you all with all my heart!

Sister Riggs
We were so excited to be able to talk to Sister Riggs on Mother's Day! Here is a little recording of the song she and her companion sang for Mother's/Father's Day! 


Monday, May 13, 2013

Who's my new companion???!!!! (Letter on 5/7)

Dear Family and Friends,

Well are you dying to know who my new companion is? You should be! She is AMAZING! Drum roll please.........it's Sister Miller! I am companions with another amazing Training Sister! I really cannot begin to even tell you how much I have already learned from her, the amazing miracles we have had in just 5 days, and how much I love her. This is gonna be an AMAZING 6 weeks (I'm praying for 12) and LaJolla better look out...they are already astonished! = ) Sister Miller is 22, the middle child of 3 kids, and from Lindon, Utah. She totally competed in the Little Miss Lindon pageant (yeah...we did pageants = ), she danced on the Vilociti team for 3 years (contemporary/ hip-hop), she has the sweetest voice and plays the guitar, and pretty much she and I have THE SAME brain!!! We have already said the exact same thing at the exact same time and had those conversations that consist of:
"Do you..."
"aw huh..."
"OK great."
Ha ha! She is exactly an answer to my prayers and what I need in my mission right now. She has been someone I have looked up to and admired my entire mission and I am thankful for the opportunity that I have to learn and serve at her side. She has so many qualities I want to learn and pick up. Sister Miller and I are just on the same page about everything...obedience, lessons, the way we use our time, how we carry ourselves and interact with others....and in just a matter of one sacrament meeting it has already made such a huge difference and impact on our ward....example: Sister Miller and I went up to bear our testimonies first thing (no one was getting up and we wanted to anyway)....Sister Miller bore a beautiful testimony, and in it, she bore testimony of me...I have never had someone do that before and that touched my heart....but she told the congregation they could look to me and that I was someone who always had the spirit with me and they could trust me...(all way too nice)...I bore my testimony and supported her and assured the ward that I knew because of her incredible faith and testimony and love for the work that they would see many miracles in the coming months....after sacrament meeting...someone visiting came up and introduced their friend they had been sharing the gospel with who lives here and wants to learn more. He said that he was so glad we were the missionaries there because he could tell as we bore our testimonies that we were "solid" and the best "duo" he had seen. He also said he wished we were in Texas so he could send us another friend...we asked for the info and got a referral for Texas. THEN, another ward member brought a friend from school and we talked with him and he said he had such a great experience and he would love to meet with us and he wants to come back next week! That ward member texted us randomly the next day and said, "You sisters are awesome!" THEN, after Relief Society, a girl came up and said, "I want you sisters to meet a friend of mine...I have felt for a while that she should meet the missionaries, and I feel like I want her to meet with you." WOW! Literally...in the matter of 3 hours at church. 

We both feel this is a sacred opportunity and we both have our whole hearts in it and are ready to just work ourselves past exhaustion in the service of the Lord here. We feel like this could be an Alma and Amulek experience...to love people the way they did, to support each other the way they did, to testify with power and the spirit, and to see many mighty miracles! I have felt the spirit more strongly in the work...in companion study, in our teaching and lessons...in the past 5 days than I have in a while....I know it is because of the faith and desires Sister Miller and I have together about missionary work and our service to the Lord and His children. So expect miracles...cause we are!!! =)

I don't even know where to begin with my thoughts and the incredible experiences I have had in the past 5 days...first of all, mighty miracle number one: Remember when I was full-proselyting in El Cajon and I found I was going to be training Sister Greathouse with Sister Hudson? Remember how my heart ached when she had to make the decision to go home and try to work through her health problems and how I prayed and prayed for her to be able to have the support and strength she needed to make it back here to the mission field? Well, believe it or not, it has been 6 months since then, and I am so happy to say, that last week I was surprised with the news that she was coming back THAT DAY! OH WHAT JOY it was too see her!!!! I had an Alma and Ammon-like experience and know exactly how he felt when he wrote in The Book of Mormon. Alma 17:2 " Now Sister Riggs and Sister Hudson were with Sister Greathouse at the time she first appeared in the mission-field; therefore Sister Riggs did rejoice exceedingly to see her sister; and what added more to her joy,  she was still her sister in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were sisters of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God."
Alma 27:16-17 "...and behold, this was a joyful meeting. 17 Now the joy of Sister Riggs was so great even that she was full; yea, she was swallowed up in the joy of her God, even to the exhausting of her strength; and she fell again to the earth." (OK...I didn't fall to the earth...but it was a close call.) I am so proud of her and what a powerhouse she is and what a source of strength she will be to all those she meets here in the mission. She is so amazing!

 OK, I will try to describe briefly, the amazing first day of our companionship....We first served up at the Temple and received two amazing referrals, one from a family visiting from Germany and another from a couple whose son is Mormon and they want to learn more about the church because of the incredible example of his children to them (their grandparents). Then, we decided to stop by our investigator's house, Arthur, because we hadn't seen him since the beginning of the week and I felt like he needed just a short 15 minute stop by and boost...we sang, we prayed, and Sister Miller and I each shared an experience of when Heavenly Father answered our prayers through the scriptures. In the closing prayer, Arthur said that he was so glad we came by and that he really needed it. MIRACLE! Then we had a lesson with Sarabeth, a woman we just started teaching. She shared an incredible experience that happened since our last lesson and how she received an answer to her prayers and basically everything that we had taught in her lesson happened to her...it was so clear she said she couldn't believe it was happening and it even scared her! We taught her of the Plan of Salvation and I felt the spirit testify as I testified to her of her divinity, who she is, and her great purpose here on earth and how very real this all is. At the end, I felt like we should invite her to be baptized but hesitated, then, it sounded like Sister Miller was setting up the invitation perfectly and I thought, "Great! She's gonna do it." But then she didn't...I still felt to do so...so extended the invitation and she accepted the chance to work toward being baptized on June 15th! MIRACLE!!! Then we went to a lesson with Raquel and we felt like we fumbled a bit and weren't quite sure how it was going, but we read from Alma 5 about having a mighty change of heart and asked her how she felt she has changed since learning about the gospel over the past few months...I don't remember how it all lead to it, but at the end she and I had tears come to our eyes as I testified with deep conviction of the power of the Atonement and of this gospel to truly be able to change our hearts...and that I knew that because it had changed mine when I doubted it was possible. In her prayer at the end of the lesson she said, "I'm so thankful for this short, but powerful lesson..." and later that night she texted us to tell us how much she loves meeting with us and how much we helped her. We looked at each other and said, "I didn't feel like it was that great of a lesson...but OK! It's what she needed!" MIRACLE! We then had a lesson with our investigator Jackie, and we ended up just teaching to her concerns because she wondered about the difference between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the Spirit. This was bothering her because she had Christian friends who were living the way they wanted (living with their boyfriends, drinking, etc) and that they said they feel the spirit and receive blessings and get answers to prayers all the time...that darn Satan!...then she was frustrated why it took her so long to get an answer to her prayer when others who drink and aren't chaste get answers....after reassuring her that God answers all of His children's prayers, that we all have the light of Christ, and that she should not discount the answer she received but rejoice in the fact that she KNOWS it was a clear answer from God...it lead to one of the most incredible experiences for me and Sister Miller, with the spirit teaching us in the moment what to say...because she kept having other things to question back and it wasn't sinking in...I felt to say, "When you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, it seals your baptism...baptism is not complete without it...and you cannot receive that gift without the proper priesthood authority given from God...we are baptized by water, then by fire (which is our spirits becoming cleansed and being spiritually re-born)." Then that lead Sister Miller to open to 2 Nephi 31:17: "Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost." Without receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, you cannot retain a remission of your sins....we all need this to be able to stand spotless at the last day. WHOA! MIRACLE!!! We were all taught in that lesson. THEN, we had an awesome member lesson with some members who fed us and we had the idea of helping them "Catch the Wave" of missionary work as Elder Nelson said, and we made them some waves and taped them to a paper to hang on the fridge, we asked them to label their waves "work" "school" "workout class" etc....and to label fish in those waves and identify who they can share the gospel with, then gave them extra paper to create surfboards with and invited them to surf a wave for the week and have missionary experiences!!! Clever??? I think so!!! They loved it and thought we were "so prepared." THEN, we had a first lesson at the temple with a member for Christian...our newest investigator...and taught him the Restoration...at the very end we were inviting him to pray and read and I felt prompted to help him learn how to liken the scriptures to himself. So I had him read 1 Nephi 1 like normal...then asked him to think about his life and what his has been through...his family...then to read it again and insert his name instead of Nephi....as he finished you could tangibly feel the spirit present...we asked, "How does it feel to read it like that?" He paused and said, "Pretty unreal actually...in a good way." MIRACLES! The power of The Book of Mormon! Then also, our amazing member just invited him to church and offered him a ride right there without us even having to ask! MIRACLE!!! Sister Miller and I were just blown away by the day! So much joy! We drove home singing our hearts to David Osmond's "Today" and changed the words and sang: "Today was the day that we opened our mouths, yeah we shouted from the roof tops, the truth came out and we shared our soul with the words that we spoke, with the love that has made us this way...yes today was the day we proclaimed...that we believe!!!!" We were singing and squealing and laughing and saying, "Is this real life right now?? This must be a dream!" But it's not! It is real and we love it! I will never be able to pen it all but I am so thankful for the way the past 5 days has already changed me and the way the next 6 weeks will change me!

There was more but I am out of time! I love you all! Have an amazing week! Truth has been restored!!!

Sister Riggs

Me and my new companion...Our re-uniting hug!!!! = ) So happy!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

This Just In....Transfers!

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, it's come again already...transfer phone calls! I was certain we would not get one and that Sister Rasmussen and I would have one more transfer together in La Jolla before either of us changed...whelp, I was wrong. I am happy to say that I am staying in La Jolla but sad to say that "R-squared" is no more = (. Sister Rasmussen is being transferred and I am getting a new companion. I am thankful for the time I have had with Sister Rasmussen and for the friendship we have built and the great team we have become. Many have made comments to us about how well we work together and how much you can tell we get a long and love each other. It's true. She has been a great example to me of faith and trust in the Lord and trusting in what we know. Any time I doubted or questioned myself or my testimony because someone else questioned it or didn't believe, she was right there to say, "You did your best and your shared your testimony, and just because they didn't accept it doesn't mean it's not true...it just means they are not ready." She is resilient and never lets anything shake her faith and bears more burdens silently and more willingly than I think I have ever seen. She loves me for who I am and was always "go with the flow/it's not a big deal” and balanced my perfectionism out perfectly. = ) I love her to pieces and we have had so many laughs together and have seen a lot of miracles. I will find out tomorrow who my new companion is...through process of elimination I know it will either be Sister Davies (who has been out full-pros. like I was and is coming back to the Battalion), or Sister Miller (who is our training Sister here...ha ha...she'd be the 3rd training sister I would serve with....maybe this means I am going to marry someone who is going to be a leader in the church...I am getting good "supporter training" right now, ha ha). They are two INCREDIBLE Nephi-like missionaries that I actually entered the field with. It will be a blessing to be paired with either one of them! I will let you know next week!

 So...although our baptism getting cancelled last week was a bummer...it all came together this week and was SO BEAUTIFUL! One of the most special one's I have been a part of yet on my mission. We had the baptism on Friday for our investigator, Casmier May. So many people from the ward came to support and it was amazing. We had to keep setting up chairs! The spirit was so strong. He is one of the most humble and willing human beings I have ever met. He is just a giant teddy bear and the ward really loves him. As I was leading the opening song, I looked at him and his face was just glowing. You could tell he was pondering the words of the hymn and he was excited to be baptized. Sister Rasmussen and I actually feared it'd be our last chance to sing together at a baptism we had, so we sang a duet of "I Feel My Savior's Love." The spirit it brought to the room was very sweet and love was definitely felt in the room. After he was baptized, Casmier and Ricky (the one who baptized him) gave each other a great big hug and I just felt like squealing because of the feeling of joy! Watching Casmier come back into the room after he changed was probably the greatest sight in the whole world! Ha ha...he was almost bouncing as he opened the door and his smile couldn't have been any bigger! He pretty much pranced to his seat and there was quiet laughter that spread through the room as everyone saw his joy! This baptism was a miracle. Finding Casmier was a miracle and a tender mercy from the Lord. I don't know if you remember, but we were teaching 5 men from Ghana for about 3 months and finally made the decision to move on. I was heartbroken and shed many tears because I loved them all so much and couldn't understand why they wouldn't accept our message, or even try. As we went to sing a song for them and bear our testimonies one more time, we met Casmier in the parking lot. At his baptism he shared his testimony and we found out more to the story we had never known! It brought tears to my eyes to learn the whole story and see how much Heavenly Father loves each of His children! I want to share what he shared at his baptism. He has a lot of social anxiety and fear of public speaking, so he typed out his testimony on his phone and read it at his baptism. I was blown away and asked him to send it to me so I could always remember this miracle I got to be a part of. These are his words:

 "I'm so grateful for everyone coming out to show their support and for the chance to make a covenant with our Heavenly Father tonight. I was raised Jehovah’s Witness but was never really there in spirit. At a young age, my mother fell ill and that led me to falling out of religion, but I always felt there was someone up above. Being selfish and worldly I never committed to any other religion. Fast forward to last month, I had been thinking a lot about God and how I wasn't happy with how far I've gotten myself. It was then that my neighbor and I discussed philosophy and religion and decided to look at the stars just outside, that by greater than chance I met with Sister Riggs and Sister Rasmussen who had a giant guitar case and were meeting with someone in my community. I asked right away what kind of instrument it was?! We then talked about what we all were doing, the sisters being missionaries and me, just star gazing. They invited me to come to church. Coming here and learning I felt something I had been missing for a good portion of my life... peace, love, and good influence. I know the teachings I learn are true and that we have a living prophet, who is God's mouthpiece for our generation, and that this church is here to better me and give me happiness. I believe we are all children of God and that it takes a village to raise a child and this church is my village. In Jesus Christ name, Amen." 

WOW!!!! Can you believe that?! We had no idea the whole back story. It is so amazing how the Lord knows the details of our lives and how if we are willing servants and just go about doing good, He will put us in the right place at the right time and He'll place the right people in our path! Not only that, but the Lord healed our hearts that night by showing us our work there for 3 months with the Ghanaians was not in vain, and blessed us with someone who was searching and prepared...AND, he healed Casmier's heart by helping him find what he was looking for and what he needed the most...the everlasting gospel in its fullness! I love how Heavenly Father shows us His love! I have attached a picture of Casmier on his baptism day = ) So happy! 

We had an interesting experience doing a booth on UCSD Campus. We set up a booth along their library walk where they have all of the social things going on throughout the day and other booths for the school set up. We are starting to do this and trade off with some other Sisters in efforts to find new people. Whelp...not many people talked to us. I tried standing in the walkway with Mormon.org cards and tried to say hi and ask people if they ever wanted to ask a Mormon anything...that didn't work...but, a couple did come up to our table and asked for a Restoration DVD and a Book of Mormon. I met a young man from Louisiana named Adnan, and he had a sincere desire to read The Book of Mormon and see what it was all about. I am excited to follow-up with him! It was really weird being on a college campus though. There was a band and stage set up and they were playing and singing Armenian music, there was a Chinese booth right next to us, there were t-shirts hanging up on trees that were in defense of rape, people selling churros, and right next to us was a sorority booth raising money for their carnival....I really didn't like it...I felt like I was in the middle of Babylon!! Loud music, immodest clothing, language, inappropriate PDA or even just inappropriate DA at all!!! Sheesh! It made me so thankful for my BYU experience and for the gospel. We felt so sad to see so many people living their lives without the knowledge of the gospel and thinking they were totally happy....but that's why we were there! My idea for the booth next time was to do the music thing and ask "Has a song ever changed your life?" Could you imagine the difference they would feel if they were on that walk and heard "I Believe in Christ" or "I Am a Child of God?" They may not stop but they would surely feel a peace they weren't use to! We'll see what happens = ) It is proving to help us find though...we met a man from China, named Bin, and he wants to learn more. He is an honest seeker of truth. His set back is that he is super smart and philosophical and appreciates proof for convincing. We taught him the Restoration and he wanted to know how we knew the story is true...so he is now reading The Book of Mormon and praying to know = ). There is another young man we will be meeting this week who is from Taiwan and he is searching for truth and feels like the church can help him find it. He has a Book of Mormon and asked us what we wanted him to read before we came!!! You're kidding! We may have another David Yang on our hands!!! I am so excited to teach him!!!

We had a huge service project this weekend with the Mormon Helping Hands...we were assigned to re-paint the Fiesta Island Youth Aquatic Center! It was so much fun! I was making jokes about it felt just like a movie...you know, where we were at summer camp and we decided that our camp really wasn't all that bad and it just needed a new look and if we all worked together we could make it the best camp ever!!! Then a cheesy song is playing in the background as we paint and work and throw paint at each other, ha ha! ...It was a blast and it was even more fun to be there serving with our recent converts and see what a community the church has and how we love to serve! We posed for some pictures for church news so look out for us! = )

Well, onward and upward! I hope you are all happy and well and loving spring!!! I can't believe tomorrow is May! My year mark is coming way too fast! I love you all with all of my heart! Don't forget about me! Keep the letters coming! They are my boosts!

All my love,
Sister Riggs

Our booth we set up

We are pretty spoiled here in San Diego...a purple car just for me!!! = )
One of the Sisters has a pretty blue dress she let me borrow for the day...so I did a photo shoot = ) All the little girls that came in were calling me princess! Too bad the dress isn't mine!