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!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Right where He needs me

Hello Family,

     Well, my prediction was true! I got transferred to the Santee YSA Branch and my new companion is Sister Patterson! It is a definite change. I have never served in a branch or BEEN in a branch before. There was a whole 35 people in sacrament meeting (which I was OK with because I had to speak ; ) ) plus 10 missionaries and leaders. Less than 50 people...that was pretty different for me. BUT, I feel nothing but excitement. I am so excited to be in a place where there is such a need. I KNOW I am here for a reason. The missionaries in this area have been really down as the work has been slow...very few lessons, very few investigators, if any. Even the Sisters before me warned me of how much the area was struggling and how hard it was and there was no one to teach. Sister Mulipola (the sister that just got transferred out) told me when she found out I was coming there she cried because she knew that Santee needed me. Now, I don't know about that, but I do know what to do next...that is to be positive and have faith and work, work, work. I LOVE the Santee YSA Branch! = ) I am so excited to be in a place that needs strengthening and building. I quickly felt a great sense of love and unity among this branch and those are the exact qualities we need to start to build...it'd be much more difficult if they weren't unified and weren't loving. I know the area does not have a teaching pool really...but I also know they are here and ready to be found. We just have to be great seekers and help get the members involved and fired up! We are starting there...with the members. The great thing is, the Branch list is only 6 pages long (which makes me feel like we can tackle it) and we are going to work through 1 or 2 pages a week and try to meet with everyone and or try to reach them through every piece of information we have...phone call, text, e-mail, and stopping by their home. We have already begun and so far good is coming from it. We are gaining member's trust and teaching to their needs. Just yesterday we experienced 2 miracle lessons with 2 sisters we met with from the relief society presidency. Sister Patterson and I had felt like we had mental blocks in our planning, but planned what we felt would uplift them. With the first lesson, we taught the Relief Society President about her true identity and being and knowing she is truly a daughter of God. She cried throughout and said she wasn't sure why, but that it's easy to forget sometimes....it was what she needed...with the first counselor, we felt to share from President Uchtdorf's "Forget Me Not" talk and focus on how the Lord sees every effort we make, and although we often feel like we can never do enough, our best is acceptable and we are important to Him...she also cried and through her tears said, "You sisters.....you are truly inspired. That was exactly what I needed today." We were so grateful and humbled that the Lord was willing to guide our planning so well so we could meet their needs. We were even asked to speak on Sunday...Sister Patterson spoke on Obedience and I spoke about Sacrifice, and a sister came up to us after (who had cried through the talks) and said she wanted to come out to teach with us, she wants to feed us, and she wants to help us in any way that we need. She said, "I haven't wanted to really do anything with the missionaries before...but with you two I do....you said exactly what I needed to hear today." The Lord is blessing us, and all I feel is excitement. I want to help turn the attitude of this area around and I know with faith and diligence it will become a home to a lot of God's children who are searching for the truth. Isn't there a saying, "If we build it, they will come!" ??? = ) I'm excited. I am right where the Lord needs me to be. 
   We do have one baptism this Saturday that will be the first the branch has had all year...and in over a year actually...so that is a blessing....that will hopefully spark a fire in the branch. Her name is Becca and she is AMAZING! I was blown away the first time I met with her because she has come to know and believe so much! She has an amazing understanding of the gospel and even went to a "Missionary Boot Camp" the stake did and she wants to go on a mission! Her boyfriend has been less active and has come back through all of this and will be able to baptize her on Saturday. He also passed the sacrament for the first time Sunday and they are going to both go and serve missions before they get married = ) What incredible and faithful people! Becca has gone from being an Atheist, to knowing and completely understanding she is a daughter of God and she knows He is real. I love the gospel!
    I was sad to leave La Jolla, especially the people I was teaching....and I prayed on the day of transfers that I would quickly see and understand why I was suppose to be in Santee. What is amazing is that in our first lesson with a member, she asked me to kind of share my story as we were getting to know one another. After I told her about my life before my mission and how I came to be here, she thanked me and said that it helped her a lot and gave her a lot of things to think about....because she is 23, graduating, and wanting to get into her nursing career, and has wondered if it'd be too late to serve a mission, or throw things off too much. After I shared with her that I had the same fears and many others, and that I finally came to the conclusion that I could never regret going, but I would always regret not going, AND that the Lord would never punish me or take away blessings for serving a mission...only give more...she agreed and it seemed as though the things that worried her had left. In my second lesson (it was with Becca, who is 25) she also wanted to know why I decided to serve a mission. She said throughout, "I felt that way too!" and "Yeah, that makes a lot of sense!" and "That's so cool!" She thanked me for sharing because she thought with all the 19 year olds that being 26 and going on a mission wouldn't really work. She said she was really glad she met me...and at the end of the lesson I almost cried as her boyfriend Josh said, "Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing Sister Riggs into our lives." Wow...so undeserving...but so grateful to feel a great sense of purpose. I am right where the Lord needs me to be. In my talk on Sunday I went ahead and revealed my biggest kept secret here, which is that I am 27...I don't know why, I usually don't announce that publicly, but I felt to, and it has been kind of amazing to see how just knowing I am out here and am 27 and gave up so much to be here, has opened doors and made connections with ward members. Who knew my age could be a powerful tool!? Ha ha! 
    I love my new companion Sister Patterson. She is one of the most beautiful people I know and has such a tender and sweet spirit and testimony. Every time she speaks I just feel love and she has already been an answer to my prayers. I feel so much peace and calm every day with her as we go about the Lord's work and I am so grateful. It makes such a difference. She is so in-tune with the spirit and she has an incredible ability to care for the one. I can tell she truly loves Heavenly Father when I listen to her pray. She is 22 and actually grew up in Mesa, Arizona! Yeah! 2 Arizonans conquering the world! Her family lives in Logan, Utah now and she is the 2nd oldest of 6. She's been out for 9 months on her mission. She loves to draw and do paintings and water color art. Her dream is to illustrate children's books, with her mom writing stories that teach principles like faith and prayer...and publish books for Deseret Book = ) She has the CUTEST sense of style and you just can't not get along with her! I am excited to be her companion and know we will see many miracles together.
    A wonderful miracle of the week was 2 baptisms of a son and daughter of God from China! We had the baptism for Yuyu...a woman from China almost ALL of the Sisters have met and taught on the temple grounds. Her baptism was beautiful and she was full of so much joy! She asked me to sing "I Am a Child of God" in Mandarin at her baptism and I was so honored to be able to do that for her. Right after her baptism I was able to go to Bin's! It was the greatest thing to see Bishop Bostwick baptize this young man I literally watched change as he trusted in us and the Lord and began reading The Book of Mormon and praying. He asked Sister Miller and I to sing "Amazing Grace" because it was the first Christian song he heard that moved him. There was such a humble spirit there. His testimony was pure and sweet and his journey to baptism will forever be a miracle of my mission. I know the Lord is going to do amazing things for China through him!
    I just wanted to share one thing from my talk that I gave on Sunday about sacrifice. I believe it fully and am a living testimony of the fact that with an eternal perspective, you can see that giving up the things of the world is really no sacrifice at all. The blessings you receive are greater than anything you ever give up. I leave the same invitation with you that I left with the branch...and that is, sometimes we are prompted to give up things that we truly love or that are difficult to, and our faith in God and Jesus Christ are tested...we leap, believing and hoping with all our hearts they will come through....it is my testimony that they always do. I invite you to make the sacrifice you need to...follow what the spirit has been prompting you to do...take that step of faith. Those who feel in darkness, I plead with you to come unto Christ. The Atonement wasn't easy...yet through it all, He never gave up on you....and He still never does! Don't you dare give up on Him! The blessings you receive are greater than anything you will ever give up!

Love and miss you all!
I would love to hear from you!

Your Favorite Missionary,
Sister Riggs
Our amazing member brought Sister Miller and I CAFE RIO!!!! (There is one about an hour and a half away...that's love!) I was in heaven!

Our Mormon Battalion Family (we are growing!!!)

Me with my new companion Sister Patterson
Yuyu's baptism

Bin's baptism with all the Sisters who taught him

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Will she stay or will she go?! (Letter on 7/23/13)

Hello Again Dear Family,

Well, it's hard to believe but we have ended another transfer...I have been in La Jolla for...well, a long time...30 weeks actually = ) and I love it soooo much! We did get a call this morning. We thought Sister Miller would be going full-proselyting and that I would stay and train one of the new mandarin-speaking sisters coming in a week....but we guessed wrong, as we usually do...I am being transferred. I feel OK about it...I am sad of course because I LOVE these people so much...as I tend to always give my whole heart to these people. I will miss teaching...more like learning from these incredible people that the Lord has been preparing throughout their lives. It has been a sacred experience to teach Katie, Jacques, Victor, and Bin...and I am excited to come back on their baptism days...but I will miss feeling of their spirits. I know though, that all of these wonderful things will continue in my next area and with my new companion. It will be a new place (probably where I will end my mission) and it will be different people, but with faith and trust in the Lord, miracles will never cease. I will miss the cool breeze from the coast, passing the temple every day, and teaching with the ocean in the background. I love the ward and all of its amazing members. The Bishop is one of my favorite people...and it will always be a place I feel at home. From what I hear, the only option for me really is that I will be going to serve in the Santee YSA Branch...and my companion will be Sister Patterson...who is literally a walking Snow White, with the most tenderest of spirits! We will just have to wait and find out tomorrow in our meeting. I'll let you know what happens next week! Who knows...Heavenly Father loves throwing curve balls! = ) I have so loved being with Sister Miller. I have never been able to teach like I have with her. Teaching together was our strongest point. We both have a love for the gospel, and we aren't afraid to be bold and speak the thoughts that are put into our hearts. I have learned sacred lessons that I wouldn't have without her, and she has been my rock and my support through it all. I know that La Jolla is in good hands. She feels scared and overwhelmed to take over, but I know that is her being humble...like she always is. =) I love her and I know the miracles we experienced were a direct result of her faith and diligence and her desire to be exactly obedient. She will be a forever friend and sister for the rest of my life, and I am so thankful to have been chosen to serve alongside one of our Heavenly Father's most valiant daughters. 

So remember last week how I mentioned so many acts of FAITH?! Well, Moroni knew what he was saying when he said, "But because of the faith of (Sister Riggs and Sister Miller) he has shown himself unto (Bin) and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby (Bin) might be (a partaker) of the heavenly gift, that (Bin) might hope for those things which (he has) not seen." (Ether 12:8) The last piece of the puzzle Bin felt he was missing, was having a witness, or sure knowledge, that Thomas S. Monson was truly called of God to be His living prophet on the earth today. He felt he was a good, wise, old man who spoke great things because of his experiences, and that he was more of a manager of the church. He asked if it was OK to be baptized not knowing that for sure. We promised that as he continued to learn and grow, further witnesses would come, but Bin still wanted to be able to answer without hesitation. He said over the next couple of days he would research more and pray about it and as soon as he had an answer he would let us know. We fasted again for him, and our whole district kept him in their prayers. That was Wednesday, and we met with him again Saturday. We were praying for a miracle, and hoping his concern had been resolved. As we began our lesson, Bin said, "I have a long talk I would like to say if you are willing to listen...and I wasn't sure until just 30 minutes ago of what I was going to do..." We were on the edge of our seats as he began to share his feelings. He said over the past couple of days that no miracles had happened and that he wondered why it was that for many of the Baptismal interview questions he could answer quickly, surely, and without hesitation...and why for some, he still felt a slight hesitation. As he thought about this, he said a thought came of, "Wow, Bin! You must be pretty ambitious to think that you should have a perfect knowledge and sure answer of all of these things before being baptized, when Sister Riggs, Sister Miller, Cy, Mark, everyone...has worked and learned their whole life to come to know what they know now. They were 8 years old when they were baptized, and have learned little by little. You already know so much within just a short amount of time." He then told us that he believed as he kept going that more answers would come and his testimony would grow and then he told us that he wanted to be baptized and he KNEW it was right!!!! Sister Miller was squeezing my leg under the table and I had my hands over my mouth to hide my huge smile that I had as he told the story and I sensed what was coming...we were in amazement. We said, "So what now? You leave to go back to China on July 30th!" He smiled and said, "So, my last chance to be baptized would be next Saturday..." Us: "3 Days before you go back to China?" Bin: "Yes so...I thank you in advance for your arrangements!" Ha haaaaa!!! = ) = ) = )!!!!!! I literally cried tears of joy!!!! To have exercised faith on behalf of someone else, and see the Lord answer prayers...to see how much Bin has changed from lesson one over the past 4 months to now...BIN, our investigator who we could almost never get a word in because he asked so many questions, and responded to our testimonies with more questions and was always asking for Scientific proof or physical evidence...WOW!! Miracles!!! ...and to hear him say with so much conviction he knows this is what he wants....was truly incredible! No words can describe! So, we are having a miracle baptism on Saturday! Even more amazing is, we looked up his home in China, and found there is a branch nearby that he will be able to continue to attend! The Lord has it all worked out! It's amazing = ) "And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God."(Ether 12:18) Tee heee!!!!

I had a sweet experience yesterday at the Battalion, as the Lord, once again, worked out the details for me to meet a sweet little 10 year old girl named Karoline. I had finished my tour and was out gold panning with this mother and daughter, and as we talked I learned that her best friend is Mormon and talks to her about church stuff all the time. I asked if she had every gone to church with her and she said no...that she lived a little far and doing sleep overs was hard cause she sleeps in on the weekends, etc (like a little 10 yr old going on 30 ha ha)...and her mom said her daughter had Type 1 Diabetes. I stopped and looked at her and said, "Hey! Me too!" That created an instant bond and I immediately asked her about it all. She was diagnosed when she was just 6 1/2 years old. She said she didn't really remember life before having diabetes so it wasn't a super big deal. I told her that was lucky and how I was diagnosed when I was 17, and the hardest thing was how much it DID change everything for me. Her mom told me how kids at school don't understand and how they make fun of her sometimes and call her "Diabetes Girl" and that the teachers sometimes don't let her check her blood sugar in class cause they don't want it to upset the other children and things. As her mom talked I just looked at this beautiful little girl and my heart was filled with admiration and compassion for her. I said, "Karoline, come over here and talk with me for a minute." We sat on a bench in the courtyard and I told her I wanted to share a few things that I had learned because of my diabetes. We agreed that we had it pretty good because we have had to learn about health and how to be healthy now and for life. We talked about how we have seen others in more difficult circumstances and felt that it could always be worse and we were lucky to enjoy the health that we do have. I shared with her about how have this trial helps us to have more love and compassion for others who have hard things to deal with, especially health challenges. She had a cross on her neck so I knew she was religious. Her mom said that she reads the Bible all the time and goes to Bible study. I said, "Then you know about the Savior?" She nodded and I told her why I was able to have hope for a cure someday. I said something like this: "Karoline, because of what Jesus Christ did, you can know that you are never alone. When He came to the earth He didn't just suffer for our sins...he suffered for our sicknesses and our pains. So I know, no matter how hard this gets or how frustrated I get with it sometimes, I am never alone. Neither are you...you always have a friend who can comfort you because He understands. The other thing He did was overcome physical death, and because of that, we will all be given a perfect body someday...free of imperfections! Free of diabetes! So I know that even though they may never find a cure while I am alive, someday, my Savior will be my cure...and it's just for this time that I have this special trial...to prove to Heavenly Father that I love Him no matter what." I told her that I wanted her to know that no matter how anyone ever made her feel, that she was special, that Heavenly Father knew how strong she was, and so she gave her this challenge to help her be even stronger. She told me how she wanted to learn piano and the violin and GERMAN! I promised her that she could do anything she wanted, that just because she had type one didn't mean her dreams couldn't come true. I told her all my fears I had when I was diagnosed and that I conquered them all so far! I also shared with her the words I was promised in my blessing as I was set-apart to be a missionary...that Heavenly Father was aware of my health conditions and I didn't have them by accident. I testified to her as long as she understood and looked at this as a gift and an opportunity, that she would be someone many would look up to throughout her life. I LOVE this sweet little girl. They asked for a picture with me so we took one, and I told her I wanted to give her something. I grabbed a Book of Mormon and asked if her friend had ever given her one. She said no and I said, "Well, I beat her to it!" I knelt by her side and showed her how I knew what I just shared with her was true. I read her Alma 7:11-12 and had her read Alma 40:23 to me. She thought that was pretty cool. I wrote my testimony in it quickly, highlighted and book marked the 2 verses, and told her I knew she would love the book and she would find strength as she read it. As I opened my e-mail today, my heart was touched to find an e-mail from her that said this: 

Thank you so much Sister Riggs, you made me feel not so alone in my diabetes.  I have been reading the book you gave me.  Thank you and bless you and your family.


ALL of our experiences really are for our good, and they give us the wards the Savior would say in the moments his brothers and sisters need Him. I am right where the Lord needs me to be. = )

Love you all so much,
Sister Riggs

Me and Karoline = )

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Power of FAITH (Letter on 7/16/13)

Dear Family,

It has been another week full of tender mercies. The investigators that Heavenly Father is allowing us to teach are so UNREAL!! I am taught every time we teach in a lesson and keep having moments that are so incredible! I keep thinking, "Is someone getting this on camera?! I want to remember and feel this moment for the rest of my life!" I am sure Heavenly Father's film crew got it and I'll be able to watch it again someday in heaven ; ) But really, such amazing lessons I want to tell you about...

Last Sunday I saw this couple at church that I vaguely remembered. As they walked in they walked up to me very excited and talked to me like they knew me...memories came back. I remembered this couple from one of the very first Sundays in La Jolla after I had gotten transferred (so all the way back in January). I was trying to meet everyone and immediately start helping the work in my new area. I had seen this couple and the man, Steve, sounded like a less-active member, and he introduced me to his girlfriend, Vanessa, and they said they were just coming to check it out. I remember seeing them head to the doors to leave after sacrament. My companions were talking with other ward members and I asked one, "Did you get their number or anything?" She said no so I ran to them just as they were leaving and just told them how glad we were that they came and asked if we could come by and answer any questions they had. They were resistant and said they were really busy moving. I quickly offered to help them move and said we would love it. They resisted again and I asked for their number to maybe catch up with them at another time when they weren't so busy (ha ha, I don't take a no very easily!). I think we text them and got one reply but then never heard again....so fast forward 7 months later...here is this couple back at church. After sacrament Sister Miller and I couldn't find them and felt sad to think they snuck away, but as we exited the chapel, there they were standing and waiting patiently for us to walk out. THEY then approached us and asked if they could set up a time to meet with us and learn more!!! MIRACLE! We had our first meeting with them on Tuesday night and we didn't have to do any of the talking. As soon as we sang the opening song and said the prayer, Vanessa just opened up and told us all she was feeling. She said she grew up Catholic but that they were never really practicing, and that she always knew there was a God and faith and that she needed it in her life. She came to church with Steve those 7 months ago, and said when she came in that she felt a deep peace and a warmth inside. She cried as she said she felt that same way again on Sunday and that she wants to have this in her life and is ready to learn. We came to find that Steve actually isn't a member either, but he grew up around it. His mom got baptized when Steve was 11 and he said he remembered that when she was active in the church, everything was better. He said throughout his life, any time he felt like he needed or wanted to go to church he would go to the LDS church. He cried as he recounted experiences of people being so genuine...no matter where he was in the world, when he went to church he was received with sincere kindness and it always gave him a safe feeling and a feeling of home. He then said that the Sunday they came, and I offered to help them move, that they left that day and couldn't stop thinking about it...what they felt in sacrament, and the kindness that again was shown. Over the past months they have both been having spiritual conversations and deciding together what they felt they needed and wanted...that lead them to come back. OH how grateful I was in that moment that Heavenly Father helped me notice them and that I ran to them before they left the church doors....such a simple thing...just offering to help move...but because of the experience Steve had in his life...that was exactly what God knew he needed to hear to confirm to him that this was the right place to be. They told us that they were leaving the parking lot after sacrament, and then decided they needed to turn around and come back in and make an appointment to meet with us. I have never known investigators to follow the spirit so much before even meeting with us! In our first lesson we pretty much just listened to their testimonies and cried together. I cried as I saw Steve, a pretty strong man, cry as he expressed his great desire and longing to have these things in his life. To have peace, the spirit, to be the man he was in him, to be close to God. I have never felt someone else's heart ache like that. We left them with the plan to see them the next week on their next day off and were on our way to our next appointment when Vanessa called us. She said, "Hi Sisters, we were just talking and we actually would really love to see you again tomorrow. Would that be ok? We have just felt a lot of good feelings about all of this and just want to keep going." OH MY GOOFY GUMMIES = ) So unreal! We met with them the next night and taught them the "Plan of Salvation"...again, it was pretty much an overwhelming spirit throughout the lesson and all of us were holding back and wiping away tears throughout. It was amazing to be on the teaching side of things, and see the recognition in their eyes...they just took it all in. As we talked about death, the spirit world, and resurrection...Sister Miller asked Vanessa if she had ever lost a loved one and if she had felt them close. She told us the story of losing her grandmother 6 years ago, how she was the only one she knew and was close with, and how she saw her in a dream and when she was little and how she was ok...and happy, and she was young....this knowledge of the plan of salvation, brought that experience full-circle for her. She knew what we had taught was true. My spirit was touched as hearing her experience reminded me of when I lost my Nana...6 years ago...and she also was the only grandparent I knew and was close with...and of the confirmation I received when she left, that she was ok and wasn't far. We ended by showing them "God's Plan"...because of the incredible spirit they brought to the lesson, I received a confirmation that I would indeed see my Nana again someday, and as I watched the film the warmth that filled my soul made me feel like I was going to burst. As we finished, Steve said, "I have known this...when I was a little boy I use to have this vision of my future family and what they would be like...and it was this..." We testified that he knew this because he accepted this plan when he was with Heavenly Father before he came here, and this is how He always intended it to be....wow...seriously speechless. They are not married, and Vanessa has the most beautiful little 3 year old daughter named Lucia...and I can't wait for them to be a forever family! The sad thing is, they are over 30 and belong in the family ward, so we don't get to teach them...but the missionaries assigned to that ward are about to have their lives changed by them!!! I know they will forever be a part of my life...and our interactions were NOT by accident. I can't write enough about them to describe how amazing and prepared they are.

Jacques De Toit continues to be amazing. We taught him the Word of Wisdom this week and were taken back by his faith. He said he understood the no alcohol, tobacco or drugs, but he was a little frustrated with no coffee or tea....but even before we had finished explaining and teaching...he was looking down at the pamphlet and said, "Well I get the other stuff but I have literally always had coffee and tea....but I guess I won't be drinking them anymore." Sister Miller and I looked at each other with big eyes! Couldn't believe his faith...he didn't put up a fight at all! We taught him that when it comes down to it...if we love God and trust Him, we will follow His commandments no matter what they are and no matter if we understand all the reasons or not. We know He loves us and would never ask us to do something that wasn't for our good. We read, Mosiah 4:9  "Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend." He loved that scripture and said that explains it all. He went on a voyage on the Yacht he works on for the weekend and we told him it'd be a perfect test of faith....he said it's be a perfect chance to drink a lot of water and hot-chocolate = ). Jacques is unreal!

We had one of the most incredible experiences with Victor. We really felt like we wanted to have a lesson that would just change him....that would help him see the importance of all of this and sense the urgency and increase his desire to learn more and keep going...yeah no pressure...we taught him the first half of the plan of Salvation and felt prompted to share "Look to Light" Mormon message that's about many that were in dark places but as they called upon the Lord they were changed. It almost didn't happen because we had to teach him outside and his lap top wasn't playing the DVD. He said he'd just watch it next time, but we decided to have him watch it while we stood at the door (since it is a rule that another adult female has to be present to be inside)...but then his wi-fi worked just outside his apartment...so there we all were in the hall as he watched this....he was touched by the video, but we didn't realize how much until we heard him say his the closing prayer. Victor began to pour his heart out to the Lord and shortly after beginning, he paused....then he broke down crying...and his pleas just came....he repented and told the Lord how sorry he was, he thanked Him for all that as happening in his life and he promised he was changing...he said, "I promise you God that I'm not going back, I ain't never gonna look back...I'm gonna be something big...I'm gonna follow you...I promise I am gonna be something great..." I opened my eyes, as I was astonished, and I looked at him, just kneeling there, hands clasped, eyes closed, and head straight forward...tears streaming down his cheeks...this 21 year old pouring his heart out....what a sacred moment. After he finished he pulled the neck of his shirt up to his eyes and kept crying....he sighed and said, "I've been holdin' that back for a long time....a long time....man that was heavy....this is so heavy...." Our prayer was answered...Victor's heart was definitely changed that day. He wanted to know what website we showed him that video on. We told him about Mormon.org and then also how to listen to the scriptures online...cause he's not a reader. At our next lesson, he said he watched 15 of the Mormon Messages! We asked if he had read from the Book of Mormon and he said no. We felt sad and then perked right up when he said, "I listened to it online and I am done with the Nephi's." WHAT?!! Miracle!!! As he told us the things that he liked from the Mormon Messages we noted that everything was with family. We asked him about his and learned that his father was killed when he was 9 months old so he never really knew him....and that when he was 9 years old, his Uncle came over and several other cousins and he was wondering what was up. His uncle took him to a church and sat down with him and said, "Something bad has happened, and your mom and your brother aren't going to be with us anymore." They had been killed in a car accident...he was brought here illegally to the states and raised by his sister, whom he refers to as "mom". Wow....no wonder his life has been dark, and that he made the choices he made. How glad we were to share the rest of the plan of salvation with him. As I prayed for him in the lesson, I felt to say that his family loved him, and that they have been preparing for their baptisms, just like he is now preparing for his, and he will be the one to help bring them together forever as he goes to the temple in their behalf someday. I also felt to say they were close. What an amazing experience and I was so grateful to be able to reassure him he would see them again, and they would be perfect...no matter the state their body was in when they left this life (Alma 40:23). Victor went to his manager and asked for his schedule to be changed on Sundays so he could come to our ward at 11:30! FAITH!!!

We taught Katie again this week and she seemed a little off because she was having some doubts and fears. As we left our lesson, after teaching Baptism, Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end....she continued to talk over Skype with her best friend in New Zealand (who is a member). Katie text us 2 hours later and apologized and said that she talked through things with her friend and she has realized that she needs to stop listening to Satan's voice and that she wants to move forward with this comittment to be baptized August 3rd. We saw her Sunday and she was bubbly and happy and she said, "I am just crazy because I'm tired because I quit drinking coffee!" We haven't even taught her these things, but we had shown her a list of the things she had left to learn to be ready for baptism and she looked them all up on lds.org and started living them all!!!! WHAT?!!! FAITH!!! MIRACLES!!! 

One last sweet experience I wanted to share was meeting the most Christ-like man who is truly enduring to the end. We were on our way to an appointment and saw on the side of the road a man, probably in his mid to late 80's, in his scooter chair...he was struggling to get out...we noticed he had a bag of food in his hand and was slowly walking over to a homeless man sleeping under a tree. Sister Miller said that made her want to cry and I said, "Do you want to turn around and go help him?" So we did. We stopped this sweet man and asked if he had just given the homeless man food. He said, "I did! I do every week when I come by to eat down the street. He always accepts it and is always grateful." He was wearing a veteran's hat and American Flag suspenders. He had a bag full of bread that he mentioned he gets to take to a few families that don't have enough food. He said he has a family living in his home because they lost theirs. He also offers a reading program that helps teach children how to read and it costs $350...but he shared a story of how the program had helped a child to read and he cried...his heart is so tender that just the thought of a child knowing how to read made him cry....he looked at our name tags and said, "Oh, I am a Mormon too!" Sister Miller and I were so humbled and grateful that we pulled over to meet this incredible disciple of Christ. This picture is of us = ) I want to be like that someday. What an example of becoming like our Savior and devoting our lives to doing the works that He would do. We could all be a little more like Milton.

Have miracles ceased? No....Has faith ceased? No! I love these people so much!

Have an amazing week! And see what miracles come through YOUR faith!

Sister Riggs

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Greetings from San Diego! (Letter on 7/9/2013)

Greetings from San Diego!

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July Celebration! How blessed we really are to live in this nation. It is so crazy but as a missionary, holidays take on an entirely new meaning....they mean so much MORE! I love it. I had the opportunity to teach the Restoration on the 4th of July and it made my testimony swell as I thought of how this land really was prepared to be the land of Restoration, and the place where God could fulfill his promises to His children from long ago. I read with our investigator 2 Nephi 1:7 "Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever." We are truly blessed and as we remain righteous, we always will be! I got to have a fun 4th of July Celebration. We were at the Mormon Battalion on shift and we had a Battalion Family BBQ and then gathered together and prayed and read Jacob 5 together. Then we went up to the roof of the Battalion to watch the fireworks around the valley. It was pretty great. Fireworks will forever make me miss Disney World! = ) 

This week I was amazed in seeing the hand of the Lord in His work. So many experiences with following promptings...and having the faith to pray to be guided and then seeing how they were answered. Faith definitely preceded some mighty miracles this week!

1) On Wednesday I went on exchanges with our newest sister, Sister Lehmitz, in the Helix YSA ward. I have never seen a more humble, meek, and faithful daughter of God before. She is so pure, so happy, so gracious, I really don't know how she exists! = ) She was determined to invite everyone we talked to, even on the street, to be baptized! I was so nervous about that ha ha...but I let her do her thing = ) We actually invited a man we met, Sergio, to be baptized! He said he already was and we invited him to learn more about our message. He thought we were something else = ) We also added a new investigator for them, and committed him to baptism for August 10th! Sister Lehmitz is an all star and was bursting with tears of joy as we walked back to the car = ). A neat experience we had that day, was when we were driving home...We were on the freeway and there were cars swerving quickly out of the lane closest to the barrier in the middle. I noticed there was a full on ladder in the middle of the lane...like a big one that you can slide up to be taller....I thought, "Holy Cow that is so dangerous and everyone is swerving out of the lane. That could cause a serious car accident! It needs to be moved." I was driving and looking in my rear view mirror...I was trying to get Sister Lehmitz back for an important training meeting....I knew it would make us late, but as each exit rolled by I kept thinking I needed to go back and move it...I couldn't stand the thought of someone getting in an accident. I told her I was sorry but I had to turn around and go back. She supported it and said she thought it was awesome that I was willing to throw everything else out of the way and just heed the prompting. Well, as we made it back I saw a car pulled over with hazard lights on and thought, "Oh good, someone else is moving it" But then I saw that they had actually hit it and it was jammed under their small Mazda car. We pulled over to help. It was a Spanish family of 4...we immediately got down on the pavement (in our skirts ; ) ) and tried to dislodge the ladder....nothing helped...it was bent and had really gotten stuck...after getting the tire jack device out to lift the car up...and pretty much yanking on the ladder till it fell free (breaking a few things) we got it out from under the car. We shook their hands and told them who we were...they didn't seem to speak much English, but I asked if we could say a prayer for them...the mom and dad got in the car...but the teenage boy stood out with us while I said...or shouted a prayer...yes, in the middle of the freeway on the side of the road = ) I gave thanks for their safety and that no harm came to them and prayed they'd continue to be safe and be able to fix the car with little cost. We invited their family to the Mormon Battalion and wrote our number on the card. I know nothing came of it in that moment, but I know the parents will never forget two young girls pulling over to help them...and they saw our name tags and the name of the church...and I also know that the teenage boy will never forget when two Hermanas prayed for him and his family in the middle of the freeway! I know God is aware of the Gonzalez family and He guided us to be there.

2) We had our scheduled interviews with our mission President on the 4th of July and it although it was only a few minutes, I again was taught by the spirit. In my last interview in April, I had asked him about extending my mission. He said he'd ponder about it and get back to me. After I left that day, I honestly felt quite weird...I felt wrong and nervous....and ever since then, when the subject of extending came up it didn't feel good. I reminded him of that question. He looked at me and said, well...how do you feel about it? I told him how I honestly felt and he said, "You know as I think about it I ask, 'why are we doing this again? Is it just because I can? Because if it was my choice I would want to keep you here, because you are an incredible missionary...but do we make that decision just because I can or because it is what the Lord wants and needs? I am just not feeling a 'yes, let's do it' from the Lord." As I talked it out with him, my heart burned and my eyes filled with tears and I couldn't even stop them. The Lord confirmed to us both through the spirit, that where he needed me to be in December is not in California. He said that he often can't see what's next...that the Lord gives a prompting and he follows it not knowing what's around the corner...but knowing the Lord knows the rest and can see it. He also mentioned possibly crossing paths "with someone who might be important in my life" ... I told him not to get my hopes up = ) But honestly I felt that the missionary work that may be more important for me to be doing would need to be at home with my own family. It was a neat experience...one like I have never had. Of course I want to serve the Lord as long as I possibly can...but the good news is, I can, and I will, because my mission doesn't end here = ) So, it looks like it will be a happy Thanksgiving! I will be coming home November 26th!

3) Friday was a full day of miracles again...we were about to leave from our Zone Meeting, and our service plans cancelled so we had 2 options: weekly plan, or go to the names we had written as back-ups. I stopped and looked at Sister Miller and asked her what she thought we should do...she thought...I asked, "Can we say a quick prayer about it?" She prayed and in the middle of her prayer she paused and I knew what she was feeling. She said, "Amen" and we looked at each other and both said, "We need to go to the back-ups." We both felt we needed to be in the area. We got a bite to eat then headed off. At first, we felt a little puzzled because not much was happening...we went to a less-active we discovered...and he actually has left the church and wouldn't let us read a scripture or even say a prayer with him....we talked to a guy on the street from Saudi Arabia and caught maybe half of the conversation...we stopped by another less-active and no answer....then a few doors down tried to visit a potential but remembered the apartment number wrong...I was thinking, "Well, why did He send us here? We both felt it..." But thought maybe it was all for Ken, even though he wouldn't listen...to see us and be reminded...for Heavenly Father to have a chance to reach out again. So we moved on to the next place, which was to try and contact a name we were given, Chris, for the last time. We had had his name for about 2 months, met all his roommates, but never him. We knocked and there was no answer so we left a note and said, "OK I guess we'll count it as contacted...it's been too long." As Sister Miller was writing the note I saw a woman walking her 2 dogs. The thought came to talk to her...I planned to, but then she had gone around the corner by the time we finished leaving the note. We walked by and I stopped and looked back and asked Sister Miller, "Should we creepily follow that lady with her dogs?" ...we laughed and then we did! We found her around the corner at a dog park and started talking with her...come to find she grew up in Salt Lake City and was a member but doesn't consider herself to be. We talked while she let her dogs exercise and then offered help any time and asked if we could come by once in a while just to lift her spirit....she is married but her husband is away over seas in the military. We walked back to her apt (which is next door to Chris's) and lo and behold...Chris and his roommate George were there reading the note we left. We taught them and added Chris and were able to commit him to come to church!! Talk about timing!!!! I literally hit my elbow against Sister Miller's as we talked to let her know my utter amazement at how Heavenly Father worked out those details!!! Then, remember Mik? The guy we street contacted and came to the fireside? We taught him and his friend Bryce the Restoration. Mik lives with Bryce right now until he can get on his feet again. We added both of them as new investigators and it was one of the coolest lessons ever! Bryce is unreal! It was seriously a lesson you wish someone could be video taping. His comments and answers were unbelievable. We had him read James 1:5 and then ask him if he was Joseph Smith, what he would do next. He said, "Probably go out for a walk in the forest and talk to God or something...just to clear my head and get it out..." I thought he was kidding at first but he actually lives right behind a canyon and often goes walking through it when he has things on his mind! OK what?!! So cool to follow that with the first vision. He also said that the power and energy he felt from us made him want to share it with others of his friends who need this in their life! We found out later he had spent the rest of the day on the phone talking to friends about his experience with us! Oh my goofy gummies, our investigator already wants to be a missionary! What is even cooler is, we haven't added any investigators in a couple of weeks and we set the goal of 3 because it is the standard of excellence for the mission...at the beginning of Friday we had added 0 and at the end we added 3 = ) Pray with faith, expect miracles, then move your feet!!!!

4) We got to see Arhur baptize his mom on Saturday! What a sweet experience that was! It was amazing to see him exercise his newly conferred priesthood and to hear him say, "Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ..." He's been commissioned!!! So sweet to see!

5) WE had a miracle baptism with Christian...and it was one I will never forget...kind of a funny reason why.We were there an hour early to fill up the font...after 30 minutes it wasn't even past the first step! We really don't know why it was filling slowly...but we didn't let that stop us! We calmly announced that the baptism would be postponed for 20 minutes and to enjoy the prelude music...Then us and 4 other missionaries and about 6 ward members grabbed pitchers and giant serving bowls and a couple of trash cans and we just started filling and running back and forth from the kitchen and utility closet! Even Christian, our baptizee helped! We all laughed as we did it...we worked hard and were all sweating by the time we started the baptism...we were filling that font one way or another! It was great to see so many help and to see how much we all loved Christian and wanted him to be able to make those covenants! The baptism went smoothly after that little bump, and the spirit was strong and Christian was beaming. It really was the greatest! The kitchen looked like a water park after all the chaos! Christian was glowing and he said it was the best weekend of his life! = ) 

We had the opportunity to team teach Relief Society and help the sisters see how they can share the gospel and invite and answer questions. It was fun and they all had a great time practicing role plays like we do = ) Hopefully we'll start hearing about some missionary experiences and get referrals from our great ward members!

One last tender moment happened yesterday as I met a family with 4 daughters...the youngest, Alyssa, has problems with her intestines absorbing food and nutrients so she has to be fed through tubes...constantly hooked up...she is only about 10 months old right now.  I felt the spirit so strongly just looking into her big blue eyes with her curly red hair. Sister Miller and I sang for them, "I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me" and I held back tears as she stopped and just looked up at us the whole time we sang. Her mom shared of the angel she was in their lives and I testified (from personal experience with health challenges) that she was and that THEY were angels to her and would be forever as they supported and helped her grow in a happy and loving family. I am so thankful for all that I have. As hard as things get, it could always be worse...and someone truly does have it worse than we do. 
Heavenly Father continues to amaze me! I love Him and I love and miss you!!!

Love Always,
Sister Riggs

4th of July!
Christian's Baptism (he's the cute little Asian)

Maria's baptism with Arthur, and all the missionaries involved in the journey = )

Me and Sister Miller singing at Christian's Baptism = )

Happy 4th!!!! (Letter on 7/2/2013)

Dear Family,

WOW! OK...I know last week I said I didn't know where to start but THIS week beats it...I actually don't even want to SEND an e-mail because it overwhelms me, ha ha...but this is how much I love you all = ) I could spend and hour writing to you just about the miracles we had yesterday...this week has been full of the Spirit and I am so thankful for the sweet and sacred experiences the Lord is giving me while I am here serving Him....so let's begin....(big sigh).

My week started off with one of the most sacred experiences from my mission that I will treasure for eternity. As I mentioned last week, I have been learning some lessons that are personal and sacred...and deep rooted. Last Tuesday night I was feeling so stuck and unsure of how to change what I needed to and how to overcome my trial. I just kept thinking all night that I needed to talk to my mission president....my companion said she felt the same prompting. Luckily, our Zone Conference was the next day so after the conference I asked if he'd have a few minutes for me. He smiled and said he would of course. As I spoke with President Clayton, a few minutes turned into one of the most sacred hours of my life. I really didn't know what I needed or how to express all that was weighing on me, but because Heavenly Father knows my heart, and because President Clayton is called by God to be here and care for the missionaries, he was inspired with the things I didn't know I needed to hear. Afterward, I really felt like a cloud had dispersed and a weight was lifted. As I left and I pondered, my thought was, "Wow...that must be what it would be like to sit in an interview...or rather, just across from my Savior and tell Him the things of my heart." He helped me come to know Him better that day. No matter my insecurities or how silly I felt to have the struggles I have been having...no matter how insignificant they may feel to me and thinking I should be able to get over it or handle it myself...I received only love and understanding...no judgement or ridicule or even validating, "Yes Sister Riggs, you really have problems." Just a listening ear, true care and concern, inspired questions, love, counsel, and encouragement. I know I will treasure that hour not only for the rest of my mission, but for the rest of my life. The Savior really does love us, even with our weaknesses and our imperfections....He knows us without those things, because He knew us before we came here. He loving lifts us up...I just read this this morning and it says it perfectly. I have put my name in it and I invite you to put yours in it as you read:

"It can be discouraging at times to know what it means to be a daughter of God and yet come up short. The adversary likes to take advantage of these feelings. Satan would rather that you define yourself by your weaknesses and imperfections instead of your divine potential. Sister Riggs, don’t listen to him. We have all seen a toddler learn to walk. He takes a small step and totters. He falls. Do we scold such an attempt? Of course not. What father would punish a toddler for stumbling? We encourage, we applaud, and we praise because with every small step, the child is becoming more like his parents. Now, Sister Riggs, compared to the perfection of God, we mortals are scarcely more than awkward, faltering toddlers. But our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become more like Him, and, dear Sister Riggs, that should be our eternal goal too. God understands that we get there not in an instant but by taking one step at a time. I do not believe in a God who would set up rules and commandments only to wait for us to fail so He could punish us. I believe in a Heavenly Father who is loving and caring and who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward Him. Even when we stumble, He urges us not to be discouraged—never to give up or flee our allotted field of service—but to take courage, find our faith, and keep trying."~ President Uchtdorf

Sunday was another day that was so full of the spirit and many miracles. We had added a new investigator, Victor, the day before. His friend, Arthuro, was recently baptized and they work together at Pik Up Stix and he referred him to us. Victor has such a good heart...he is just 21 but has already seen and realized that he doesn't want to keep making the mistakes he has been making. He wants to make good choices so when he's 30 he's not still in the same place and with nothing. He wants a family, a house, a good job...he wants the girlfriend he still has to stick around...he feels ready and desires to be closer to God. He is trying to take care of some DUI's he has done jail time for, and also he lives with his girlfriend, sooooo....we have some things to work on, he he, but his heart is good and he is looking in the right direction....but anyway, he had work so he couldn't come to our sacrament meeting at 11:30, so we went to an earlier family ward with him and his girlfriend...although it was quite noisy and distracting (I really appreciate the quite in Single's Wards!) they loved it and he asked if he could come every week! Then we headed to our ward where we were so blessed to have a performing group, INSPIRE from AZ, to sing, testify, and bring an amazing spirit to all of our hearts. Each testimony of the church and the Restoration made me so excited to be here sharing this incredible message with the world! As the 25 singers gathered and sang, "My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee"...they literally sang the first line and the spirit burned. It was so beautiful and made me reflect on my Young Ambassador days! Through the song Sister Miller and I just held each other's hand and cried...literally...tears streaming. It took me back to the experience I had in my interview with President Clayton...as some of the words they sang, were words he read to me. I am so thankful for the gift of music, and the healing it brings. It speaks to me like nothing else can.....I sure miss singing with my sisters. INSPIRE performed their musical fireside for the YSA's here in San Diego and it caused so many miracles! A referral was received from a girl that one of the singers invited. One of our investigators we just taught the Restoration to received answers, and had the spirit confirm through a feeling of happiness that the Restoration is all real! A guy we street contacted and invited came and he wants to learn more. The father of the family of one of our recent converts came and now wants to have missionaries over once a week and committed to our recent convert that he was going to start bringing his family to church every week!!!....It goes on and on. I am sure that's not all that happened within the hearts of the people that night...so many miracles came from that! We are so grateful! 

One of the men that came to the fireside was Mik. Meeting him was a miracle. We were in a rough neighborhood trying to see a less-active and we started talking to a guy standing in the car-port by where they lived. We talked to him and for a bit and towards the end of our conversation, Mik walked up....he began listening while the other guy went inside. We shared with him why we are here, how we have come to know these things were true, and why they lead us to want to serve a mission. We said a prayer with him and then before we left I asked if we could sing them a song. Sister Miller and I sang, "I Need Thee Every Hour." I felt chills (aka-the spirit!) come over me throughout the whole song. It was obvious these guys were into drugs and both had gun shot wounds and scars, tattoos....looking like they were doing anything to get through life...while we sang....you could tell they felt. You could almost see the spirit speaking to them and helping them recognize they have heard this before...because they were with God before. We invited them to the fireside and we were overjoyed when Mik called us on our way into it and said he was on his way over! Yay! He felt a great spirit and loved the people he met and we have another appt. with him Friday.

I have so much more to write but am running out of time so I have to share less details = ). We taught Katie the Restoration and it was amazing to teach by the spirit. I taught it in a way I never have before and at the end of the lesson as she prayed she said how she was so grateful to be learning these things..."things I have heard before, but am hearing and experiencing in a new light through the Sisters." = ) HAPPINESS!!! She came to the fireside and felt a confirmation, and then went home and wanted to find answers and put her thumb in the Book of Mormon and opened to Mormon Ch. 8 and began reading....MORMON 8 IS ONE OF THE ONLY CHAPTERS ABOUT THE RESTORATION AND COMING FORTH OF THE BOOK OF MORMON!!!! Oh my goofy gummies!!!!!!!! What a miracle! If that isn't an answer I don't know what is! We love Katie and she makes our hearts so happy!

We have a Baptism this Saturday for Christian and we are so excited!!!! We have been waiting for this day for a month and are so happy we are here! He literally teaches us every lesson. He is so ready! We have had the fun opportunity to teach him while he has been out of town via Skype!!! What??!! Never thought I would do that on my mission! Even though it was over a computer screen, the spirit was felt so strongly! How amazing that we really can have so many miracles in sharing the gospel through the technology we have today!

Yesterday was Miracle Monday! Sister Miller and I had a full day and we had plans to teach 9 lessons...and we indeed taught 9 lessons!!! Heavenly Father Blessed our plans, and there was a lesson to be taught at each place we planned to go, even though more than half of our plans weren't appointments, but stop by-s....We met an amazing member who is going to help us do a starting family history class with all of our new converts, caught a less-active just before she left to take her mom to work and were able to share a message about Heavenly Father's love, we stopped by Casmier's and he wasn't home so we asked his sister in law if we could help with anything...she said no but we saw a mound of dishes in the sink and pretty told her we were doing her dishes...as we finished, her husband and Casmier came hope...they had just gotten back from locating his stolen car (this is the dad  that came to the fireside) ...he was so gracious to us for just helping with the dishes he INSISTED on buying us lunch we INSISTED not to, especially over hearing the expense the stolen car would be...but he wouldn't let us say no...he then told us how touched he was by the fireside and that he wanted to bring his family to church, have us over for Bible study, and get help for him and his wife....WOW! We shared a Mormon Message with them and taught their little boy how to pray....what miracles happened in that apartment yesterday is so humbling...we then taught Victor again and my companion is amazing and extended a baptismal invitation and he accepted a date for August 31st after we had read Alma 36 with him and testified of the ability to change and repent!....then we met with a member who is planning to serve a mission but just needs to step it up to get there....he is 19, from New Zealand, and we were inspired to share the perfect Mormon Message with him that happened to be about  pro rugby player who chose to serve a mission...he said he was so grateful we had come and it really helped motivate him and confirm what he wanted to do and this is right...we then stopped by another less-active...cars home..after 2 door-bell rings and a good knock no answer...i said, "I'm going to be annoying and ring the door-bell one more time." A kind of angry roommate came to the door then went and got him....he was resistant and first but by the end of our message there was light in his eyes and he was laughing....Then we met with Katie and that is when she told us about her miracle of finding Mormon 8...then we met with Bin, our china man, and re-set his baptism date so he can get a clear answer...but there were us and 4 members there in his lesson for support....then we stopped by another less-actives and instead of meeting with her (because she was gone) we shared a message with her roommate who has met with missionaries before but it never appealed to her...she didn't want to watch a clip with us...said she'd seen them, but we showed her one about Heavenly Father's love and it lead to a sweet experience and testifying of who she was to her. She was very touched and we learned more about her in 20 minutes than probably many have.....WOAH!!!! See what I mean?! What a day!!!!

I love this!!!! And I LOVE YOU!!! Have a Happy 4th of July!!!! Let's all watch Fireworks together!!! = )

All my love,
Sister Riggs

Sisters Reunited to Sing a Duet!

Our sister, LaDawn, recently traveled to San Diego with a local musical group to do a fireside in La Jolla. The bishop heard she was a sister of Sister Riggs and requested that they sing a duet in their Singles Ward that day. It was a sweet experience for the both of them and we just wanted to share a recording of their duet together!

Sister Riggs, LaDawn Riggs-Pettitt, Sister Miller

"Lord, I will answer the gladly!" (Letter on 6/25/2013)

Hello Loved Ones!

As I look back over the week I really don't know where to start...there has been much that has happened in the field and also many things I have learned personally that the Lord is teaching me here...it makes the week seem like a month. First of all...did you all watch the World Wide Leadership Training Broadcast?!!! If you didn't...that is the assignment I am giving you today. I didn't want to leave the room and leave the moment and the spirit that was causing me to feel such incredible feelings of joy and gratitude. Let's just say that I was a mess of tears throughout...especially the musical videos. Sister Miller and I were just sitting there crying, then looking at each other and laughing, squeezing each others arms with love and support and understanding, because we knew exactly what each other was feeling. I don't think my heart could have swelled any bigger with love and deep gratitude to be able to be here serving as a missionary in God's Royal Army during this incredible time when the Lord is hastening the work and missionary work is changing and being done as has never been done before! If you can watch any part of it, please watch the "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go" video....that is what this life and this work is ALL about! I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve a mission because I understand God's "work and His glory" and I understand what missionary work is all about...in a way that I never would have, and that comes through serving as a full-time missionary. I have never been more excited to help build the kingdom. I have never been more excited to be a great member of the church! When I get back I will actually get to be the one who KNOWS people in the area that can meet with the missionaries! I am so excited to be calling the missionaries some day and saying, "I have another referral for you!" It's like the hymn says, "We are all enlisted till the conflict is o'er".....and, "out in the desert they wander, hungry and helpless and cold....off to the rescue WE'LL hasten, bringing them back to the fold." How amazing this work is! How much our Father in Heaven loves each of His children! How incredible and great the trust is that He has put in each of us who are so blessed to KNOW! I hope each of you has caught the fire and the vision of all of this. We as missionaries can only do so little on our own....it takes every one...and the level of the missionary and the member is the same and each are equally important. I hope you will help the Lord in this hastening, and think of all of those you know that you could reach out to and invite. Will each of you pray throughout the next month specifically for opportunities to invite others to "come and see, to feel and to know?" (3 Nephi). "Few experiences compare to the joy of helping others learn and live the gospel" (True to the Faith).

Speaking of joy in sharing the gospel...we are teaching another amazing investigator! He was a referral from a MEMBER! ; ) She got our number and texted us and said she had someone who wanted to meet with us. His name is Jaques De Toit and he is from South Africa! He has been here in America because he got a job working as a first mate on a private yacht...yeah, I know. He actually quit recently because he felt he needed to make changes in his life to be closer to God and where he was working was surrounding him with bad things...wait it gets better. He has been dating Alexis (the member) and so he has already learned so much. She has taken him to church several times, he's been reading in The Book of Mormon and is now into Doctrine and Covenants. In our first meeting with him, we were testifying that as he listened and learned the things we would share with him, he would want to make promises and covenants with God...that he would want to be baptized. He said, "That's the goal." We were like, "Wait...what did you say?" Ha ha...he said, "Well in the scriptures it says you have to be baptized to enter the Kingdom of God right?" We confirmed. He said, "Then that's what I want." We invited him to set a date and he asked, "How do I know if the date is right?" We invited him to pray and ask God and that he would know when the time was right. He said, "That's what I would like to do." We taught him the Restoration and as I finished recounting the first vision he said, "Wow....that's amazing." We invited him to pray to know if Joseph Smith really saw God and Jesus Christ and to gain a testimony that it is true for himself. He said, "Isn't it bad to doubt? Am I allowed to ask? What if I already believe it?" OK....oh my goofy gummies this guy is for real!!! He has so much faith! He told us he wanted to be living a better life before being baptized. When we reassured him he didn't have to be perfect to be baptized he asked, "Really?" Jacques is so prepared he feels unprepared! Ha ha...he is unreal and it is an honor to teach him. He texted us this last weekend and told us he needed a favor...he asked us to pray for his dad because he had been robbed in South Africa and his car had been stolen. We promised we would pray and again were amazed at the faith that he already demonstrates. We said a special pray for his dad that night and also prayed that God would answer Jacques prayers as a direct result of is great faith. The next morning he texted us and thanked us for the prayers and told us he found out that a detective of some sort was driving around and spotted the car and impounded it just an hour before it was going to be driven out of the country...and that it was returned to his father unscratched with only a few small things stolen out of it! Faith precedes the miracle! And God hears and answers our prayers! We love him and I know we will continue to experience miracles as we teach him.

It was a testimony building experience to teach Katie this week. We taught her in the lobby of the temple the Plan of Salvation. It was so amazing to teach her about the pre-existence....who she really is as a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and where she was before she came here. She has been taught many different things about religion and she has been feeling confused lately about what is really true...this is one of the reasons why we are so excited to teach her. But as she heard this, she told us of all the things she read in the pamphlet about the plan of salvation so far, she KNEW this was true...as we let the spirit speak, she started smiling and tears came down her cheek...she said, "I know I was there. I know I was with God." What a sweet and tender moment. It was scripture coming true: Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." After we finished the Plan of Salvation, I asked her how she felt now that she understood it all better...and as she looked at the pictures in front of her, she said, "I feel like this is right. This is true." = ) Miracle.

We had another neat experience teaching a new member in our ward. We had planned on a lesson, but just before going in Sister Miller said, "I don't feel like that's what she needs...can we show her the video 'Mountains to Climb'?" I was feeling no such things so I just went with it and had to trust in the promptings my companion was feeling. We shared the video and discovered that this sweet, always happy sister, had actually watched it and wept over it just 4 months ago as she was in the darkest time of her life. I felt prompted then to share a scripture and part of my personal testimony of how the Savior lifts us from those places and can truly heal us...sometimes it takes time and we may never fully understand, but those times can sanctify us if we let them. I shared the scripture that always pulls me out of the dark, D&C 58: 2-4 and then the 4th verse of Hymn #85 came to mind, 
                  "When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
                   The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,
                   For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
                   And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
                   And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress."
She had some tears as she smiled and said, "You brought me the perfect message just for me today. Now I know you sisters teach by the spirit." What wonderful lessons were learned on all sides that day. The Lord's hand is truly in the lives of EACH of His children and He proves that to me over and over again on a daily basis. 

I had a tender mercy on Sunday of running into my MTC Branch President and his wife at church! We were visiting a ward we don't normally attend and we sat in front of them! It was amazing to see them again! They shaped me so much through the first and most critical days in the MTC. I have often used President Gubler's teachings with those I have taught, and even now when I go back and review the notes I took from his lessons, I feel a powerful spirit. I invited them to the Mormon Battalion to take a tour and see Sister Madsen and Sister Rasmussen (who were also in his district)...we did a special tour with 3 tour guides = ) We rejoiced together as we shared the things we have learned and he told us we were great a year ago, but how wonderful it was to see how we have blossomed and how there is a different light that shines in our eyes now. I am so thankful for my mission and for all the incredible people the Lord saw fit to place in it...it's provided relationships that will forever be sweet and sacred.

I have had some sacred experiences in my personal studies throughout the week...maybe it has come because of realizing I've been out a year and realizing how quickly my mission seems to be slipping away...I am not sure...but I definitely started 3 days in a row off by crying and wiping away many tears as the Lord has taught me by the spirit what I needed to hear. One thing I read that I did want to share with you was from President Monson's talk from this last conference's priesthood meeting. He said, "...I hope you appreciate the sacrifices which your parents so willingly make in order for you to serve. Their labors will sustain you, their faith encourage you, their prayers uphold you. A mission is a family affair. Though the expanse of continents or oceans may separate, hearts are as one."  I want you to know that this is so true for me. I know that your sacrifices and prayers of faith are what uphold me out here...even on the most difficult of days. My heart swelled and tears of gratitude came as I thought back on the past year and realized, although I have been away serving, I have never felt closer to my family. I have never felt my relationships be stronger. I have never felt greater love for them and from them...there is no place else I would rather be and I know it is because of the sacrifices we are ALL making for me to be able to be here and serve the Lord. From he bottom of my heart, and with deepest gratitude, I thank you. I know Heavenly Father is aware of our family.

Sorry this was long...it just happened! I love you all and WELCOME my newest little niece to the world! I can't wait to meet you Presley! Congrats Shannon! 

All My Love,
Sister Riggs