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, June 19, 2013

1 Year! I can't believe it's here!!! (Letter on 6/18/2013)

Dear Friends and Family,
     Well it has been quite the week...many ups and downs and many miracles...as missionary work goes! I hope you were able to watch the videos I sent...because those are where my miracles begin this week...
     In the beginning of May I was asked to sing at a ceremony they were putting together for Flag Day to honor the Veterans. They asked for a couple numbers and I started practicing and also suggested that if it was appropriate to throw a fun number in there, that I knew they would love "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy!" We went forward with that and I got together with Hermana Tucker and Hermana Amendola, two Spanish speaking sisters I serve at the Mormon Battalion with who also did theatre before their missions. We have been practicing and just had maybe 20 minutes the 4 days leading up to it to do some run-throughs and come up with so "arm-ography" and stuff. (Thanks to my experience at Disney with mic-stands, it got figured out pretty quick). The other Sisters were great though and practiced their parts a lot on their own and we brought it together! It was so fun and so weird at the same time...ha ha...didn't expect to be doing that on our missions! But so thankful for the tender mercy and opportunity to use the talents Heavenly Father blessed us with! I also suggested singing my favorite rendition of "God Bless America" at the end of the program and they loved the idea. Let me tell you...when I got the track a few weeks ago and tried to belt...I honestly was a little depressed because I felt I had lost a lot of my ability and strength my voice use to have...it was really hard and I didn't know if I could do it! I literally have not had the opportunity to belt and use my voice like I was 6 times a day at Disney....so my instrument was feeling quite rusty...but I told my companion she had to help me remember to practice in the car at least once a day....
    Well, come Thursday, the day before the program, I came down with the flu and was at home with a fever....my body ached everywhere and I had no strength to stand up because I felt too light-headed when I did. I rested and thought to myself, "I have been here before...I know this seems like I won't be able to do it, but I know the Lord knows what I need to do tomorrow and with His help it will happen." I asked one of the Senior Elders at the Battalion for a blessing...Elder Day and Elder Woolstenhulme came over and gave me a blessing of healing....I was so thankful, and immediately felt that extra reassurance that all would be well. I missed my dad a lot that night as I was reminded of all of the times in my life when I fell sick just before I needed to be at my best health for a performance. My father, who is a worthy Priesthood holder, was always there to give me a blessing...and my Heavenly Father was always there to uphold me and take care of the rest through His miraculous power. The next day I woke up feeling pretty great...just a little icky inside...and I went to my shift at the Mormon Battalion. We had a sound check and ran our group number and I started feeling sharp pains in my stomach and not so good...they asked if I wanted to run my solo and I just walked up to the mic without a warm-up and it somehow came out flawlessly...all who were there listening were in tears and I was standing amazed that I was able to sing....well that was at 11am and the performance was at 6pm...as each hour progressed I got worse and worse. A group of us knelt in prayer at the Battalion and sweet Sister Affleck (a senior sister who put this all together with her husband) plead for a miracle and for me to feel better. I went home and rested and then put on some courage and faith...the miracle is that both numbers stole the show! I was able to perform both....my solo was not flawless like my rehearsal earlier....but every time I watch it I feel the spirit testify that the performance was a miracle and God's hand was in it. I honestly can't believe my voice able to do what it did after a year of no practice and while having the flu.....

    So many of the Veterans came up to us after and said how it took them right back and how it brought tears to their eyes. Many came to me and thanked me for my song and that they couldn't wipe away enough tears. Others said the spirit was definitely there. The Marine Band was there playing and the conductor made it a point to find out who I was and said they be willing to work with me next time around (they had said no singer could sing with the band as a military band rule ; 0 They changed their minds ha ha) ....my favorite comment was a sweet little old lady walking up to me with her husband saying: "BeyoncĂ© can take a back seat!" Ha ha! I wish I had that on camera! Getting hugs and handshakes from Veterans with their love and gratitude was the best part of it all....a miracle that happened was that a 92 year old who came and isn't a member of the church, came and dropped a whole envelope of family history...stories and charts of those in his family that served in the military....we found that none of them have had temple work done!!!!! He handed it over....WOW! If that is all we did this whole program for it was worth it!!!! I was asked by Elder Affleck if I would like to help with it! What an honor!!!!
That is all I have time to share today! God works miracles in mysterious ways! The Priesthood power is real!!! I can still kind of sing!!! = ) Ha ha! Love you all! Have an amazing week!!!! My year mark is Thursday!!!!! Wowee!!!! I can't express my gratitude for what the Lord has shown me and helped me become over the past year. I know I am EXACTLY where Heavenly Father needs me at the exact right time! Where else would I have been asked to have these opportunities as a missionary?! He really does know us individually! I love Him!!!
I hope all of the Father's in my life had an amazing Father's Day! I was thinking and praying with gratitude for you!
All my love,
Sister Riggs

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Transfer (Letter on 6/11/13)

Hello Everybody!

Happy June! I can't believe it...Summer is really here and it's crazy! Well, today was another day for transfers! Guess what? I am STAYING! = ) And so is Sister Miller. She was 100% sure she was going to be sent full-proselyting and my whole Zone thought I would be leaving since I have been here for 4 transfers (aka-since January)....I told them all I felt like we were staying and that I bet I had 1 more here at least and I was gonna to laugh when nothing changed...after today I have some more points towards, "Sister Riggs is always right" ... = ) Ha ha. I am so happy to be able to stay in La Jolla. I know I have been here a while but I love it and I love the people and right now I am in the middle of so many investigator's journeys to baptism and I am so glad I won't miss it! I am also happy to continue being Sister Miller's companion and learn from her and be in the presence of her great spirit! It will be a wonderful Summer!

This week honestly is a blur and I am not even sure what happened so I am going to do my best to share some of what happened. We had a really incredible experience with Raquel, our sweet investigator I have been teaching since I came here. She knows it's all true and wants to be baptized but is holding back because of her fear of her Jewish Father's disappointment, and losing that side of the family. We applied what we do as missionaries...and that is, we practiced = ) We had her play her dad first, and a member played her. They practiced the conversation of how it would go if she told her father she wanted to be baptized. Then we swapped and she played herself and we had another member play her father. Sister Miller and I sat back and watched and listened and it was one of the neatest experiences for me. I felt the spirit so strong in the room. Both of our members were inspired and said and shared some things that Raquel really needed. Our members told her they both felt if she went about it the way she did in our practice, that her father couldn't help but see how much she loved him and how happy this made her. Raquel herself was inspired as she tried to express her desire to be baptized...she said some things that stood out to all of us and she said that she would remember to say them! We love her so much and know that as she takes this step of courage and faith that the Lord has so many blessings in store for her.

 We added a new investigator that pretty much just proves Heavenly Father loves us...we got a call last Tuesday night from a couple that worked at the temple. They said as they were leaving they met a young woman walking around who had asked if she could meet the missionaries, wanted to take the discussions, and attend the La Jolla Singles Ward....we just looked at each other and said, "OK Heavenly Father! Thanks for just handing her to us!" We don't know what we did to deserve such a blessing, but she truly is one of the sweetest most tenderhearted people I have ever met. Her name is Katie, and she came to the Temple that day because her best friend's dad (who is Mormon) was killed in a hunting accident. Their family was in New Zealand and so Katie wanted to feel close to them and do something for them. She thought the best thing was to contact us and pray. This man was like a Father to Katie and she was like an adopted daughter in their family. She is incredible. She came to church on Sunday and said it was amazing how it was everything that she needed and even said, "That's what always happens." She went to church and some activities with her friend quite a few times growing up. She told us that many of the most important people in her life, and who have touched her heart the most, were Mormon, and she's finally ready to listen to what we have to say! MIRACLE! 

We taught our friend Jason (who set a baptism date for August 3rd) at the temple about the Plan of Salvation. Jason is such a gem. He is so hard on himself and truly wonders if he could ever be forgiven. He feels that compared to other members of the church, he has done way more serious things that can't be forgiven...isn't Satan just so mean? He is always working to make us feel miserable and unworthy. One of my favorite things about being a missionary...and normal human...is when I have to opportunity to bear testimony of the real power of the atonement and of how our Savior longs to forgive...how I have felt Him reclaim me...how no one and nothing is beyond the reach of His atonement. I felt prompted to show him this video and I want to attach the link for you to watch....

"There is no habit, no addiction, no transgression..." Jason had tears in his eyes as he said, "Wow, that explained it perfectly." I love helping my brothers and sisters realize who they are and who's help they have available to them.

One more miracle I want to share happened at the Mormon Battalion. After a tour, I started talking with a couple, Stephania from Italy and Thomas from Germany. I started telling them how much I loved their cultures and their languages...it lead to me talking about my opera singing and my time I spent in Austria. I sang a line or two of a little German aria and then of an Italian aria. We laughed and talked and it was almost as if we became instant life-long friends! I went to the courtyard with them to pan for gold and through our conversation, we ended up standing at the water well for what I think turned into 45 minutes. Stephania was raised in a very Catholic family (as most Italians) and Thomas was Atheist. That 45 minutes in the courtyard became a sacred, spiritual experience. Their questions and beliefs about religion lead to me sharing the message of the Restoration with them . I even recounted the first vision. I testified to them that even though Thomas did not believe in God, and Stephania believed people created religion to get money and to have a way to get through life...that I knew....I knew and could tell them with all certainty that they were a loved son and daughter of God. That God knew their hearts, that He knew exactly what they felt as they stood there with me...the journey for truth that they have been on. I promised them that they could no...that the world has no way to give knowledge of divine truth, but that Heavenly Father has promised and provided a way for each of His children to know for themselves...and all they have to do is have the faith to get on their knees and ask. I exhorted them with all my heart to try that, and to not give up until they got an answer. I gave them each a copy of The Book of Mormon in their own language...what the neatest thing about it all was, that we didn't want to say goodbye. I literally felt an ache in my heart. They inched away slowly and kept looking back and I told them it would break my heart if they didn't stay in touch through e-mail....they said I wouldn't have to worry about that = ) I KNOW they felt the spirit in the time I was with them...I felt it testify through me....and I know Heavenly Father has them on a path to the truth! 

I read this powerful testimony by Elaine S. Dalton this week...and I add my conviction to her words = ). "Today as a daughter of God, I stand as a witness that He lives. Jesus is the Christ. He is our Redeemer. It is through His infinite atoning sacrifice that I will one day return to live with Him—proven, pure, and sealed in an eternal family. I shall ever praise Him for the privilege of being a woman, a wife, and a mother. I testify that we are led by a prophet of God, President Thomas S. Monson, and I am grateful for righteous men, whose priesthood power blesses my life. And I shall ever be grateful for the strength I receive through the enabling power of the Savior’s infinite Atonement as I continue to strive to “act well [my] part.” 

I love you, I love being a missionary, and I love my Father in Heaven!

Your Servant in the Lord,
Sister Riggs

Stephania and Thomas at the Battalion...by the well = )

Making Sushi with our cute member Brittany (Friends...total look alike of Randa!!!)

Zone Sports! Playin' Softball! Coach Riggs was having to with-hold her competitive genes!)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy June! (Letter on 6/4/2013)

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy June! I can hardly believe it! How are you all doing on your missionary experiences? I challenged my family to share the gospel or invite a friend to something (like meeting with the missionaries) and to write me and tell me about it by my year mark...June 20th! I hope you are experiencing the joy of sharing the gospel as much as I am and I can't wait to hear about it! 

Well, some good news for you...I still have my Claire De Lune moments in my daily life...ha ha. Funny story I am sure you will appreciate: We were headed into a meeting with our Bishop last week and out in the parking lot met a member and he stopped to talk to us for a minute and asked where we were from...my eyes had noticed what the t-shirt he was wearing said...because it was in big writing...and I told him I was from Chandler, AZ. He said he didn't know where that was and I said, "Right by Gilbert?" "Nope" "Mesa?" "Nope"..."Phoenix?" "oh yeah ok"...and I said, "Really? Come on you should know...you're wearing an 'AZ Tec Football' shirt!" As I read his t-shirt to him out loud I realized it was AZTEC FOOTBALL...which is the football team for one of the colleges here in San Diego...(at least I think it is...ha ha) He said, "Really?! You're living in San Diego!" We all laughed...me especially as I realized I am still good at being a pretty dumb blonde! ; ) It happens.

Remember my little China man, David? Well he is still as valiant as ever and he decided to make a video for his parents and wanted to record us bearing our testimonies of serving a mission and missionary work to show his parents in China in hopes that they would feel the spirit and understand his desire to serve a mission. He is so awesome! Sister Miller and I were asked to do it on the spot and were feeling very unprepared...but the institute director, Brother Mackay, told us we shouldn't be prepared and that we were missionaries and just needed to speak the thoughts in our hearts. Sister Miller testified and brought the spirit powerfully as always, and I had to follow and did the best I could...when he cut the camera off he asked us, "Did you ever imagine yourself being able to just stand in front of a camera on the spot and testify of the gospel and do it so easily?" We both said no to that and he pointed out how amazing it is that the gospel has become a part of us...it's what we are, it's what we live every day, and therefore, it is natural....and we are given the words that the Lord needs us to say. I am so thankful to experience such a privilege.

We had some miracle filled days this week...I'll share a couple...we were teaching to members from our ward...they are sisters and super gorgeous so not many people talk to them. We wanted to get to them and so we had a lesson. The night before when we were planning we were talking about something different and using a Mormon message. Sister Miller said, "I just feel like we should show them the Mormon Message about 'My New Life'...I don't know why..." So we did and through the video, the sisters cried. At the end we asked what had touched their hearts so much and one of the sisters said she was so thankful that we showed her that because the week had been really hard. She had just been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and in the same day broke up with her boyfriend...watching that particular Mormon Message was a great reminder for her that God was there and He had a plan and everything would be ok...it was just up to her to decide how she would react to this trial. I was thankful for the promptings my companion received to show that message, and it lead to an opportunity to bear my personal testimony of the refiner's fire and of Heavenly Father's help through health challenges. I bore testimony to her of the things I have come to know through my juvenile diabetes and of the blessing I was given that told me that the combination of strengths and weaknesses I was given are the perfect combination in Heavenly Father's eyes...and when we allow our Savior to help us, He carries us in our weaknesses and makes them strong...and through that we become more like Him. How grateful I am for the knowledge and comfort of the gospel that helps bring eternal perspective when it seems all the waves are crashing in on you.

Our investigator, Christian, is one giant miracle! Every time we meet with him he blows our minds! He literally teaches us and it is incredible. We taught him the Law of Tithing and the Word of Wisdom this week and let me just say...when we asked him why he thought God would want us to pay tithing he said, "Well, from what you have taught so far...like with the 10 commandments, people sometimes get caught up in worldly things and worship money even and if we pay tithing it keeps us from getting caught up in that and helps us to remember to rely on the Lord and not worldly things." WHAT?!! He totally gets it! And then when we were teaching the Word of Wisdom, he told us it wasn't a big deal and that he only had to stop drinking tea because alcohol, coffee, drugs and tobacco weren't a problem for him...SO PREPARED! And when talking about, for example, people who have to get up in the morning and feel like they can't get through their day without a cup of coffee...he said, "I even think, if you can get up and not have to rely on that cup of coffee and make it through your day, it will give you confidence that you can overcome other things in life too...that you are powerful and capable." He is a Nephi! The neatest miracle with Christian this week though, was him showing his incredible faith. His original baptism date is June 29th but we feel he is ready now and wanted to move it up a week...but because of Stake Conference and a YSA Conference, his only option would be this Saturday...otherwise he'd have to wait another month...we asked him how he felt about that....we sat quietly as he pondered, pulled out his phone and looked through his calendar....he then said..."Yeah...I think it'd work." I said, "Wait what would? This Saturday or the 29th?" He said, "This Saturday!" I literally squealed with joy and was so awestruck by such great faith! He said, "Yeah you said you only have one more thing to teach me really...and I'm excited, I'm ready!" OH MY GOOFY GUMMIES! Christian is an example to all of us and it was so neat to be in the room with him as he listened to the spirit confirm these things to him. The only thing was...I got so excited and forgot one requirement which is that they have to go to Church at least 3 times...and Christian has only been 2! Then we were all bummed! But...holding out hope that in this situation we can make it work...even then...Christian knelt down and said a prayer with us that all would work out according to God's will for him! What a MIRACLE! 

I have to say one of my favorite things about being a missionary is having the chance to see someone's heart and life change in just a matter of days. I am pretty sure I have said that before...but it is so COOL!!! People really can change...and the greatest and most lasting changes come when one is willing to apply the Atonement to their lives. Our Savior really is the only way. It's like someone said in General Conference last year, "The world tries to take people out of the slums, but Jesus Christ takes the slums out of people."

I just want to leave you with a couple favorite quotes from a talk I read this morning about "Timing." It was given by Dallin H. Oaks and I really loved it. It is so true that we often plan out our lives and think we know what we want and when it is best to have what we want...but almost always..the Lord's time table isn't our time table and we experience some trials when we try to make our time table the right one...but when we have the faith to submit to His will...all will be well because we are on the path our loving Father has planned for us:
“Commit yourself to put the Lord first in your life, keep His commandments, and do what the Lord’s servants ask you to do. Then your feet are on the pathway to eternal life. Then it does not matter whether you are called to be a bishop or a Relief Society president, whether you are married or single, or whether you die tomorrow. You do not know what will happen. Do your best on what is fundamental and personal and then trust in the Lord and His timing.
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares us for whatever life brings. This kind of faith prepares us to deal with life’s opportunities—to take advantage of those that are received and to persist through the disappointments of those that are lost. In the exercise of that faith, we should commit ourselves to the priorities and standards we will follow on matters we do not control and persist faithfully in those commitments, whatever happens to us because of the agency of others or the timing of the Lord. When we do this, we will have constancy in our lives that will give us direction and peace. Whatever the circumstances beyond our control, our commitments and standards can be constant."

I am so thankful for a constant Heavenly Father...who has a constant plan for me and all of His children!

Love you all! 
Sister Riggs

P.S. I just wanted to show the difference in Arthur...the first picture...to his baptism day...clean shaven, hair cut, church clothes...hugging his mom....and here is our other miracle...because of the spirit his mom felt at his baptism...she started meeting with the missionaries and came to church...she went back to the Catholic church (where she was raised) and walked out and said, "I don't feel there what I feel here." She is getting baptized on June 29th!!! And Arthur is baptizing her! She was bursting with excitement when she told us and asked us to be there! = ) Oh the happiness!

Letter on 5/30/2013

Dear Family and Friends,

     Another eventful week gone by in the mission! I only have 9 minutes left of my time to write and then I must be off to save the world so I will just share with you a few sweet experiences from the past week. 

     We had an amazing baptism for Jacqueline Gradyz last Saturday. I have been blessed to be a part of her teaching from the beginning and have had so many wonderful and tender experiences through the spirit with her...especially as I have testified of the Atonement and learned more about the Atonement through her. Her parents, who have been less-active, flew into town for it and a long time friend of the family also flew in to be the one to Baptize and confirm her. There were so many people there! Every chair in the room was set up. She invited many of her non-member friends from school and they had a great experience. She asked me to sing for her and it was a special experience. When she asked me to sing, a song immediately came to mind that we had wanted to play for her in a lesson but couldn't get the disc to work...it was meant to be sung at her baptism...the song was "Let It Begin" and was Jackie to a "T." Tears streamed from her and her parents eyes and I felt the love of the Savior for His Sister as I sang. I'd like to share some of the words: "You've tried hard to hide from the past and to bury it deep. You're overwhelmed by all of the things that you know you should be. Just believe mistakes of the past don't define you, they refine you. Just have the courage to take one step. Someone's gonna be there to help with the rest. To start is the hardest but it's something that only you can do. Don't carry the burden as the years go by. You don't need that crushing weight in your life. Have faith to pray for the strength to finally see this through. There's one who knows you perfectly. He can take the hurt away. The healing starts within. Just let Him in and let it begin." I know with everything in my heart that the message of this song is true...and not just for Jackie, but for you and for me. I saw that in another man that I was able to teach back in El Cajon. Remember Frank? Our Alma the younger who got out of prison and turned away from drugs, drug dealing, and gangs? Who was totally and completely willing to do whatever he needed to repent and change and come unto Christ? Well, I had the honor of attending his baptism last Saturday. What a patient man! I started teaching him in November and he has been ready and waiting all this time to receive approval to be baptized. Heavenly father truly does love all of His children and His arms are stretched out to us always!

2 Nephi 25:12 "...and when the day cometh that the Only Begotten of the Father, yea, even the Father of heaven and of earth, shall manifest himself unto them in the flesh, behold, they will reject him, because of their iniquities, and the hardness of their hearts, and the stiffness of their necks.

 13 Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to testify concerning him, for I have seen and felt him in my day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name."

I love the Lord.

Love always,
Sister Riggs

Jackie's Baptism - her with me and Sister Miller

At Frank's baptism
The epitome of Sister Riggs = ) I just had to... ha ha