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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!

Friday, August 30, 2013

3 Months Away! (8/27/13)

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been such a long, yet short week and I just hit my mark yesterday...only 3 months left until I catch a plane back to AZ!!!! = 0 It really makes me a little sick to think about. For now, I am so glad I am a missionary and the work of the Lord is ALL I have to worry about. Phew!

There was lots that happened this week! We had MTE's (missionary training experience), a combined Luau with the YSA's in the area, Temple shift, our special Rescue Sacrament Meeting, and 3 full days of proselyting and a great Pizza making FHE with the Branch....plus the hundreds of miracles in between!

Our MTE experience was so wonderful and we had a couple of amazing moments while talking to everyone along the way. One lady in an apartment complex was getting her mail and I asked, "Do you know anyone around her who needs a message of faith and hope?" She said, "Yeah, anyone from this side over that way." I laughed and said, "Does that side of the building not include you?" She said, "Yep." We walked with her for a minute and she just spat out that she was having a hard time because Sunday marked a year since her boyfriend died of cancer. She told us she believed in Jesus Christ so I bore testimony of the hope we can have because of what He did, even when it comes to our physical imperfections, that because He overcame death, we can look forward to a day when our bodies will be perfect. I asked her if I could read her something and opened up to Alma 40:23: "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame." Almost before I even finished the verse, she cried as she threw her arms around my neck and said, "thank you....I have been praying and praying to John to give me a sign." Wow! That's never happened to me before, and it was so cool to see how one verse from The Book of Mormon changed her world in about 60 seconds! Then, just after that, we were trying to contact a referral in an apartment complex and Security came around the corner and told us we had to leave and couldn't solicit or anything like that here....we explained that they knew we were coming but he said we still had to go. My great companion said, "OK, well what's your name?" In the sweet way she does...we started teaching him and he went on quoting scriptures from the bible...he was very religious. He mentioned his marriage was rocky, and we testified of family prayer...reading 3 Nephi 18:20-21. I invited him to pray with his wife, and testified personally of the power of hearing those you love pray for you, and the way it softens hearts! We asked if we could say a prayer with him and he said, "Sure, we can pray before I escort you from the property." ha ha! As we said goodbye he said he hoped to see us again...ha ha...oh that was weird...but super cool. Finally...at the end of the day a member called us and said, "Hey I have someone who wants to meet with you guys! She's right here, do you want to talk to her?" We found out we were all at the church so we met and she is SO AMAZING! She said that she is just wanting a confirmation that this is all true and wants to learn. We testified and knelt to pray. We asked her to pray and taught her how...she was nervous because she had never prayed out loud, but we comforted her and asked her to ask God if this was right and true, she cried as she finished and said she felt so good and we looked at her and said, "Alicia, (like Alys-see-uh) you already know it's true!" She is so great! We also added another young man named Charles, who is a 20 yr old in the navy. We have 4 solid investigators now and 2 with a baptism date. The work is moving along and building and it is so exciting to see!

Our "Rescue Sacrament" went so perfectly! We had hymns dedicated to the rescue..."I'll Go Where you Want Me to Go" and "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd." The Lord blessed us with many in attendance...more than usual. 2 members spoke of their experience in going less-active, then coming back, and how they have seen the blessings change their life. Our recent convert then spoke about how this was everything she didn't know she was looking for and it started with an invitation. I sang a song "There Are Angels" about how the shepherd watches over and knows His sheep and then President Little spoke and it was beautiful! The spirit was magnified! At the end of the meeting, the presidency, relief society president, elders quorum president, and ward mission leader stood at the doors and the members took a slip of 5 names, accepting the challenge to call or try to contact them in some way and invite them out to something. Through this process we will eventually narrow it down to those who are still friendly and interested in coming back and whom we can visit as branch members. 3rd hour we spent elaborating with additional stories and testimonies and went over the organization and logistics of following up and reporting. It was amazing to see the members leaving sacrament and talking to each other about it. There seemed to be a lot of excitement...some members taking 2 or 3 slips = ) and saying things like, "Are you going to invite your 5 to the pool and pizza party?" So neat! This is what it is all about! I know we will see miracles!
I read these verses in the New Testament and loved them...it is how I feel about those I teach and the vision I have for them!

1 Thessalonians 2:9-12,19,20
"For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
For ye are our glory and joy."

Love,
Sister Riggs
Teaching our newest and greatest Investigator, Kelsey!
FHE with the branch making homemade pizza...rolling out the dough.
Doesn't it look PERFECT!! Everyone kept saying it looked too perfect and restaurant quality = )

President Little slicing up our pizza....it was soooo yummy and he actually only ate our pizza and gave it rave reviews = ) Too fun!
Singing "Be Still My Soul" at the Senior's Luncheon.
Funny and awesome sign at the car shop we went to to get our estimate of damages...fitting place to have it = )
Me and my mission president's wife, Sister Clayton...we always seem to match ; ) I could be her daughter

Cutting fruit for our big Luau for the YSA's
Me and Sister Patterson at the Luau! It was a big hit! 

"There Are Angels Watching O'er the Shepherds Sheep" (8/20/13)

Dear Family and Friends,

   Another week gone...so hard to believe. I write this week with a heart full of gratitude for your prayers of safety and protection on my behalf. I know they are answered...I was in a car accident yesterday with my companion. Don't worry, everything is fine. It was more like a fender bender and we were bounced back and forth in between two other cars. We were traveling in between appointments and were just about to turn on to the highway. I was on a short phone call with our Ward Mission Leader and Sister Patterson was driving. It looked like the line of cars was moving and she would be able to go through the intersection but then line stopped abruptly and she slammed on her breaks...they locked and we skid almost running into the car in front of us but stopped in time, but then we were hit from behind, which pushed us forward to hit the car in front of us, and then we were hit from behind again. I have never been in a car accident before, so this was a new experience for me...can't say I liked it...nor the whip-lash. My poor companion couldn't breathe after...she was so shocked. We pulled over with the other 2 cars to exchange info and work everything out...and we were lucky! Our car only had a dented license plate in front and didn't really hurt the car in front of us, and we just had a few scratches on the back bumper. The guy who hit us is the only one who really had any damage. The funny thing is, as we got out to talk it all through he said, "Oh! You're Sister Missionaries...oh that is funny...I am a member...you've got to be kidding me..." Of the small population of Mormons here, it seriously was a tender mercy and a miracle that the guy who hit us was a member of the church, even a young single adult. The man in front of us was kind luckily...also a young adult...and as we were standing there I whispered to my companion, "Well, how do we make a missionary opportunity out of this situation?" ha ha! I introduced who we were and what we were here doing and he said, "This is honestly the smoothest and nicest exchange I've ever had after an accident. I've literally had people try to kick my *** before so...yeah." I struck up conversation and found out he had just moved here from Detroit and was starting his new job tomorrow. Get this, he works in marketing for music...like a musician promoter who helps get artists known and in connection with the write people and on the popular websites and things. I laughed and said, "No kidding? I'm a singer!" I talked music with him and found out he sings and plays his own songs and said, "Well maybe we were supposed to meet each other." He said, "Yeah you never know, He works in crazy ways sometimes." He told me about his religious background and I told him what we taught people. I gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and a mormon.org card telling him to look my story up and also Alex Boye's. He was excited...more about looking the videos up, not learning about the Plan of Salvation = ) ...but then I told him about all our YSA activities and that since he was new in town and probably looking for a new group of friends, that he should come to our Luau we are putting on this Saturday...I talked it all up and he said, "Man, you Mormons go all out don't you?" He seemed to be pretty excited about it. I told him we'd keep in touch and I'd have to get my CD to him for him to hear. He again was very grateful we were so nice and we parted ways. What a cool story Garth is going to have someday when he tells his children how he first met the missionaries = ) Ha ha. During all of this, Sister Patterson and I were shaken up quite a bit. We were both shaking while trying to write down the info for them. Elder and Sister Holley (our sweet senior couple in charge of the fleet) came to the site to offer moral support and check out the car. They couldn't have been nicer. We had missed our teaching appointment and were needing to be on our way to our appointment we already had to get our oil changed at pep boys (ironic?). So Sister Holley drove us in her car and Elder Holley drove our car to Pep Boys. They took care of everything for us and just kept saying everything was ok and not to worry about it and Sister Holley was able to give us lots of hugs. We thought, "What would we do without our Senior couples?! We are so lucky and blessed to have them here." Sister Patterson and I sat in the waiting room. We turned off the TV and huddled together to say a prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father for protecting us. I cried through the whole thing as I thought of how much worse it could have been, and I cried as I thanked Him for the prayers of our parents. I know that each prayer you pray is heard and that because you pray with faith for us, and because we are doing the Lord's work, He protects us along the way and sends angels to watch over His sheep. We felt off the rest of the day and it was hard to focus. We went from that to teach a recent convert...we struggled but he was understanding...we decided we both wanted a blessing and I thought of the Affleck's, another senior couple that serves with us at the Battalion, and I knew they lived close by and we love them so much. We called and asked for a blessing and they said they could come meet us in 30 minutes. When I saw them it was just like what happens when you see your mom and dad after something scary and you cry. While Sister Patterson received her blessing, I was lay my head on Sister Affleck's shoulder and put my arm in hers. I cried for a couple of minutes but then I felt all the tension leave my body and I felt peace. Elder Affleck gave me a beautiful blessing through the power of the priesthood. He spoke words that I knew only Heavenly Father would know about my experiences here on the mission, what I need to do from here, and what blessings are promised. I was promised that the highest desires of my heart would be attained...that of marriage and having children to raise in righteousness, and that I would realize that that is the highest calling I could have, and would want to have. He promised me health and strength to finish my mission and that I would have no lasting effects on my body from the accident. It was a sweet experience...and we really are so grateful for the angels that the senior couples are to us and they become our mom's and dad's, and grandma's and grandpa's while we are away from our own...and they will always be thought of as such. So....whew...that is the biggest and the latest news in my missionary life. So thankful it wasn't any worse. 

   While we were waiting for the Affleck's to arrive, although we didn't feel like we could teach, we went to try to contact a less-active. We found Max, who was shocked to see us on is doorstep...said he hadn't been to the church in 10 years and wasn't planning or interested in coming back. He said he felt it never did anything for him and it wasn't really real. I bore my personal testimony of how I knew it was and he asked for our card with our number. We left and as we were driving I said, "We should have prayed with him. Why did we let him close the door without doing that?" So I turned the car around and drove back. We told him we were sorry that we didn't pray with him and couldn't drive away without doing that. He allowed it and Sister Patterson said beautiful words about not being forgotten and knowing there wasn't a single day that has gone by in the past 10 years that Heavenly Father hasn't been aware of him and his life. We invited him to our Luau too and he was very nice about everything. It is people like him that are our focus right now and why we are pulling our Branch together to do a big Rescue! I am so excited about it and know it will create miracles! This idea came to me while serving in the Fuerte Ward, and I suggested it to the Bishop and while he said it was a good idea and we should do it, nothing ever happened with it and then I was transferred...But as I was pondering how to help build this Branch and strengthen it, the idea came back to me. We have a list of about 500 YSA's in the Santee Stake that should be attending Institute and the Branch and they aren't. Many are active but attend their family wards, and some are serving missions, BUT for the majority, they are MIA. 500 members! Our Branch has about 35-40 active members right now. So, with this list, we could spend forever as 2 small missionaries trying to contact them all and it probably wouldn't be super successful; with this being our job and everything. So I thought how powerful it would be, for the President to invite and ask for help from the members to bring in those that were struggling and reach out to those that were lost. That his commission to do so would mean a lot...and then as the members leave the branch, the counselors could stand at the door with slips of 5 names each that they would try to contact either by a visit, a text, or a call, and just introduce themselves and simply invite them to something (FHE, Institute, Church, etc). We all know the power of one simple invitation...especially from a fellow Branch member. And I just imagine this great missionary spirit sparking in the ward as they reach out to help those that could be their next best friend, or the member surrounding them in the pews and in Relief Society and Elders Quorum! So we presented that idea in a lesson combined with D&C 138 to President and Sister Little. They loved it and we sat and discussed the logistics of things, how it could be organized, how to do follow-ups, and fun things the branch could do (like pizza at President's house while they all get our their phones and Facebooks and try to reach out to these YSA's!). The Spirit was strong as we discussed it all and we are filled with excitement! We presented it to Branch Council and we are having a special sacrament meeting on the 25th with talks geared toward it all and the names will be distributed after. We can't wait and we just KNOW miracles are going to come of it. I love how unified this branch and branch presidency are! They are going to have a young man who went less active and has just come back speak about repentance, and a new convert who came to the church because of an invite from a member is going to speak, I am going to sing a special musical number on the subject, and the President little will speak. There are many Max's out there and we are going to to our best to reach out and find them. "Dear to the heart of the Shepherd, Dear are the "ninety and nine"; Dear are the sheep that have wandered Out in the desert to pine. Hark! he is earnestly calling, Tenderly pleading today: "Will you not seek for my lost ones, Off from my shelter astray?" Out in the desert they wander, Hungry and helpless and cold; Off to the rescue we'll hasten, Bringing them back to the fold" (Hymn #221).

Wow, I have already written so much, but I have a few more miracles from the week:

My previous investigator in La Jolla, Jacques Du Toit, was baptized on Saturday! I was able to attend the baptism and so honored that he asked me to sing. I chose to sing "Still Believe" because Jaques has been a stalwart example of faith and believing without seeing ever since we met him. It was hard to control my emotions as I looked out into the eyes of those who attended and saw four converts I taught: Jaques, David, Christian, and Arthur...and 3 investigators I taught or am currently teaching and who have dates set for their own baptisms...7 people I have seen exercise their faith. My heart was truly touched as I sang, "Blessed are those who haven't seen and still believe that He lives, and still believe that He walked upon the earth, and though my faith is just a seed, I still believe." It was a moment I will never forget and Jaques just glowed. I know he will be a great leader in the church someday. As Sister Miller and I shared our testimonies, it was too funny because she compared him to Moroni and shared a verse from Moroni, and I had marked a verse in 1 Nephi because I compared him and his faith to Nephi = ). The Lord truly prepared him and we were taught by him many times, as we often are = ).

The Lord keeps showing me I am right where I need to be and among those I can help most. We met with a less-active this week who is a 20 year old young man in the military and found out that he has Type 1 Diabetes and celiac's disease. We changed out whole lesson as I talked with him about diabetes and health challenges and how I shared one of the same challenges. I asked him what he had learned in the past 10 years of being diabetic. He clearly understands the physical blessings, but as I asked Him what the Lord has taught Him through it, how He had come to know the Savior through it, and the spiritual benefits, he didn't really have any answers. I shared with him what I have come to know and he said, "Wow, I have never thought about it in that way."  We have also been approached by a few sisters in our branch wanting us to tell them how we decided to come on a mission because they were thinking about serving. As we have both shared we have seen how our specific experiences have helped them and been what they needed to hear. I also feel a calling here to help encourage those with talents to develope and use them. We have met with 2 sisters now who are less-active who both love to sing (Disney especially ; ) ) and as I heard them sing hymns in our lessons they have beautiful voices and need to use them, but they are too shy or uncomfortable...they both said they would sing with me though and I promised to help them! It is wonderful to me how very tailor maid our missions...and our LIVES even are for us. It reminds me of a quote from a wonderful talk about missions: 
"While many of these experiences and lessons may be common to missionary service, each mission is unique, with challenges and opportunities that stretch and test us according to our particular needs and personalities.
Long before leaving our earthly home to serve a full-time mission, we left heavenly parents to fulfill our mortal mission. We have a Father in Heaven, who knows us—our strengths and weaknesses, our abilities and potential. He knows which mission president and companions and which members and investigators we need in order to become the missionary, the wife and mother... we are capable of becoming.
Prophets, seers, and revelators assign missionaries under the direction and influence of the Holy Ghost. Inspired mission presidents direct transfers every six weeks and quickly learn that the Lord knows exactly where He wants each missionary to serve" ~ Elder Waddell 
I know this is so very true!

Ok last miracle...it was really a whole day of miracles at the Mormon Battalion. My companion and I were feeling like we weren't having special experiences at the historic site lately and prayed with faith that we would experience some. Well, my companion's prayers are always answered so immediately! We both took a tour and I noticed a foreign family...my guess was they were from Germany. I struck a conversation with them and found out they were from Luxembourg. I also found out they were touring with a men's choir and I was talking to the pianist. I got all excited and told him that I was a singer and studied opera so we made those connections and I told him I would love to hear him play! He confidently said, "Do you have a piece with you? Bring it and I will play." I don't have any arias on me here but I grabbed my most difficult piano pieces that I haven't been able to sing because they are hard to play. He sat down and started playing a memorized piece and WOW! I was blown away by this young virtuoso and people started coming to the door of the room wondering what was happening. He accompanied me, FLAWLESSLY sight-reading "Gloria, My Savior Lives" by Rob Gardner, and "How Great Thou Art" arranged by Marvin Goldstein! I was in HEAVEN! I haven't been around musicians like that in so long! His mother cried as I sang and his dad hummed along. He later asked me, "What are you doing HERE?" I bore my testimony of music and why I had come here to serve a mission. He was amazed and asked if I had ever thought about a professional opera career in Europe. I said yes and told him about my experience in Austria. He told me he could get me in contact with the right people and opera studios in Europe. We exchanged information and said we'd keep in touch. His family was adorable and we became fast friends = ) All the while, Sister Patterson was talking to another one from the same party in gold panning and he was a writer and journalist and Sister Patterson was an English major and history minor and loves books! Heavenly Father lead us to exactly 2 people we could connect with. Then right after I took a 23 year old girl from China on a one on one tour. I sang for her in Chinese and had a sweet experience throughout the tour as I got to talk to just her and she kept hugging me and saying she loved me afterward, ha ha..I gave her a Chinese Book of Mormon and she loved it and was so grateful. Then right after that a man came in with 2 more people from China...one was getting baptized (happened yesterday) and the other said she hadn't come to know if this was true yet. We had a few extra minutes so I sang "Mo Li Hua" to them and they were amazed. I then told them I wanted to sing a very special song to them and sang "I Am a Child of God" in Chinese. They both began to cry. Sweet Dong xiu xiu (the one getting baptized) tried to hide it but said he felt something so special in his heart. I then was able to testify to his friend Nancy that what she was feeling in that very moment was the spirit...and that all of this was true! It was such an amazing day!!! 

I love being a missionary and I love you all!

Your Favorite Sister Missionary,
Sister Riggs
Me and Jaques at his baptism

We had to say goodbye to the Days = ( They finished their mission and we will miss them so much!!!

Finding (Letter on 8/13/13)

Hello Again Friends & Family,

It's been a great week, lots of hard works, lost of awkward street contacting, and lots of miracles as always = )

We are seeking to add and find people to teach and we were so blessed last Tuesday when we contacted a referral named Vanessa. She was a referral from the Elders and they had said not to call her but to just go by first ad we had about 3 times already and no luck, so we just texted her and she was more than willing to set up an appointment with us. As we walked up to her door we were greeted with excitement and smiles and she was just so nice Sister Patterson and I were a little shocked. We found out she had been dating member and so she had already been to church several times. She told us that she had never felt anywhere else what she feels when she comes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As she described it, she couldn't put it into words and I simply said, "Like you're home." She said, "Yes!" We taught her the Restoration and my AWESOME companion extended an invitation to be baptized on August 31st and she said yes! We were blown away, and so grateful! And it was Elder Ballard's blessing answered. He blessed us that we would be able to find someone new and teach them and baptize them before August was over! Miracle!!! She is so wonderful!

We had kind of a funny experience Wednesday...our day was coming to a close and we had been praying to find and add an investigator. As we left the church, we ran into a member who introduced us to her friend Josh, whom we'd never seen. and we asked how they knew each other. When they said from the work place I figured that meant he was not a member. My companion though he was a member and we said goodbye and said we'd be back later for the activity that night. Well, as we walked away I thought, "Umm...should we just talk to him?" We were on our way out the door to try to contact and teach 2 referrals with some time we had due to a cancelled appointment. But we went anyway (had no luck and some pretty hilarious street contacts). We came back to try to mingle with members and their friends that always come to Wednesday night Volleyball after institute. Josh was there so we talked with him and found out he indeed was not a member. We talked with him about what we do and teach and set up a return appointment and then we gave him a Book of Mormon and prayed with him. He was so kind and open and easily interested in it all. I laughed at us as we went to the car to head home and said, "Heavenly Father is so patient with us. Here we are begging for investigators and he puts one right in our path and we say, 'Hi nice to meet you! We'll see you later!'" Ha ha...

Thursday we felt prompted to go to Santee Lake and street contact around the park areas. We had a great conversation with a sweet 16 yr old, but her 21 yr old friend wasn't so friendly...wouldn't even take an Institute card from me and waved us away kind of crushing our spirits....and so as we made our way back to our car I saw a dad and two sons fishing, so I headed that way and told Sister Patterson I had to do it to redeem ourselves from our rejection! Boy doesn't Heavenly Father work in mysterious ways?! We found out that the dad was actually baptized in Mexico when he was 8 and ever since he came to the U.S. he hadn't been back to church! We talked with him about the church and his family and invited him to come back...he seemed reluctant but we were able to give him a Book of Mormon and a picture of the Savior. He said he wouldn't have time to leave and I challenged him to leave it on his passenger seat and see how many days he would look at it while driving to work before he just had to pick it up and read it = ). We invited his 2 boys, age 10 and 4, to come over and say a prayer with us. I know they won't forget that, and I also know we were guided to the Lake because Heavenly Father needed us to find Saul and remind him of what he knew as a child. I love how much Heavenly Father loves us!

I got to be a coach for Sister Madsen and Sister Brown in their area for our Missionary Training Experience this weekend and that was pretty neat. We were trained further on the things that Elder Ballard shared with us and then invited to go put it to practice. We sure did too! We contacted in a park for 1 1/2 hrs. It was like we talked with one person, then more would come as they left. 2 neat experiences came from that. We talked to 2 sisters swinging together, one was 10 and the other 16, and they told us how they were Catholic and then the 16 year old said she believed after this life she would be reincarnated. The other sisters went on to invite them to look at mormon.org and come to the Battalion, but before we left I said, "You mentioned you believed in being reincarnated...what is it about that that brings you peace?" She said it was just knowing she could come back and keep on living, even in a different form. I asked, "What if it were possible for you to come back as you...but a perfect you?" She looked puzzled and said, "I've never thought about that or heard that." I testified of the Savior's Resurrection and how because of what He did, we have the chance to be resurrected also and that we will be perfect and whole! I asked if she would want to learn about that and she said with certainty, "Yes." It was so amazing to see her face and her countenance change as she heard truth. We sang "I Am a Child of God" for them and said a prayer, and I know they will never forget that meeting. We also stopped to talk to about 6 teenage boys with their slurpees and chips from 7-11. Some thought it would be pointless, but even Elder Ballard said, "Never underestimate the worth of one soul." So we talked with them and it was fun to change and talk on their level. One was a tennis player so I related the gospel and commandments to the lines drawn on a tennis court...they got it and you could see the wheels turning in some of their heads. One of the guys got up and acted like her was getting a phone call and then ran down a ways....a few minutes later he called his friends on the phone and they hung up and told us he told them to make up an excuse to leave! ha ha, teenagers...but they stayed and listened, and they were all invited to look at mormon.org. Then, while talking to those boys, a couple came and were playing on the playground with their little boy and they had been having a guessing conversation about us the whole time because she heard us mention God. We talked with the wife for a few minutes (who use to work for a member) and talked about God's love and understanding it through being parents. We invited her to meet with us and she nicely declined but then told us she was so glad we came to talk to her because her previous experience with missionaries was negative because they seemed to just be telling her she was wrong. Had we not talked to the boys, we wouldn't have been able to run that errand for Heavenly Father and help her have a new perspective on the church....I know somewhere down the road Heavenly Father will continue to finish what He has begun in her life = )

Saturday, we had another adventure, Sister Patterson and I hadn't eaten all day and so we stopped by Chipotle for dinner. Just as we finished, a couple sat at a table next to us and her husband was on what seemed to be a funny phone call with her best friend. I asked about the conversation and that lead to us teaching them at a table outside Chipotle for an hour! They had just gotten married in January and funny thing was, as I was putting materials in my bag before going in to Chipotle I had a prompting to put a Temples pamphlet in bag! We had such a great conversation. They had gone to a Christian  college and the husband said he was glad we talked because he took away a different understanding about what we believed than he did from his professor. The wife admitted she had just bought a book from Barnes and Noble about Mormonism. I laughed and slid a Book of Mormon over to her and said, "Here! All you have to do to know is read this!" It seriously was a miracle and a neat experience....even funnier, the next day our Stake Presidency did a training with our Branch Council and the counselor mentioned he had gone to Chipotle with his family for take out and he told his girls to say hi to us when they saw us...when they got in the car with the food he asked if they said hi and their response was, "No, we couldn't! They were busy teaching about the Godhead or something!" ha ha...we didn't even notice them walk by = ) 

I had the chance to put an octet together to sing in Sunday night's Mission President's Fireside. We sang "My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee" and it went beautifully. The greatest blessing was being back in my old building where I served in El Cajon and seeing 3 of my recent converts and beloved ward members I missed so much! They all made a b-line for me after the fireside to say hello and give hugs. I had 3 of the YW run up to me too and one mentioned that she just had to tell me that she has decided to serve a mission!! I just love all of this more than I can express!

one last miracle in finding happened last night just before we went home. We were trying to meet with Josh again but his parents wouldn't let us talk to him and hung up on us. We couldn't find his apt and so we saw a guy out on his porch and asked for directions, he couldn't help so we just struck up a conversation with him...a 20 year old marine and new father just back from Afghanistan....we talked to him about Heavenly Father's love and his love for his new son. Religion has never been his thing, but as we testified and promised blessings, he wanted to know more...we will be meeting with his family and teaching them Saturday = ). Again, Heavenly Father knew what He was doing! = )

With all of these experiences, I believe even more what Preach My Gospel says: "You are surrounded by people. You pass them on the street, visit them in their homes, and travel among them. All of them are children of God, your brothers and sisters. God loves them just as He loves you. Many of these people are searching for purpose in life. They are concerned for their families. They need the sense of belonging that comes from the knowledge that they are children of God, members of His eternal family. They want to feel secure in a world of changing values. They want “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23), but they are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12)."

Open your mouth and share what you hold dear!!!! Only miracles will follow!

Love you all so much!

Love,
Sister Riggs

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Clang Clang Clang Went the Trolley! (8/6/2013)

Dear Family,
 
This week was an especially blessed one because I had the opportunity to be in the presence of an apostle of the Lord! Elder Ballard came to visit our mission again. I was blessed to have just entered the field last year and hear from him, and it was neat to shake his hand again, and take in all he had to say with 13 months of missionary service to learn from. He shared many wonderful things (and I am so sad I forgot my notes because I won't say it as well) and I just wanted to share a few. One thing he mentioned that changed my life, as we talked about the hastening of the work and the younger missionaries coming to serve and being asked to do so much (for example in our mission: open Mandarin and Arabic speaking work!)...he said, "One thing I know with certainty, is that the God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ have never been afraid of the youth. In fact, when something needs to be done, they almost always call upon the youth." Wow! So true! Think of Joseph Smith, Captain Moroni, Mary...and now the young and valiant to be missionaries! That is so amazing to me and helped me to feel a great sense of love and trust from the Lord. Another things he shared with us was having in our minds that "I am here because my Father sent me." I am here to do the will of the Father in His way. He exhorted us to not try to do this work on our own...to Pray, pray, pray, ask specifically, and then go and do. He said whether we have 2 weeks left or 2 years left, we can choose today to turn all of our time here over to the Lord and dedicate it to Him. He said there is more we could be doing. He challenged us to truly try to talk to everyone. He shared a sweet experience of the sharing the gospel with their cabin host on a cruise they just went on for holiday and also with a waiter that served dinner to his family a few nights ago...he basically taught us that it didn't matter that he didn't commit them to meet with the missionaries or to be baptized, etc...but that in the next life, that when he sees the waiter and the host again, they won't have the opportunity to say, "I saw you, I poured water for your family that night, and you never told me." ...Or "I brought your family warm towels and came to your door for a week while you were on a cruise...and you never told me..." ...that was profound. How many people do we let pass us by? We should seek every opportunity! Sharing our testimonies and inviting others to come unto Christ is not a scary deal!!! It should be easy and we should love sharing with the love that has made us who and what we are today...the love of the Savior. He said many more wonderful things that I can maybe share next week when I don't forget my notes = ) What was most amazing was that at the end of the meeting we sang our mission song. There was a powerful spirit in the room and our President stood and said, "With the great spirit that is here, after the closing prayer, Elder Ballard has asked that we do not linger, that we just quietly exit and go to work." After the prayer, no one spoke. Not even the piano played....while about 300 of God's royal army, His front liners, His humble servants, exited the building and set out to do the work of salvation. A sacred moment and spirit I will never forget.
   
I had a crazy neat experience that same day. We were scheduled for only 2 hours at the temple at the end of the day and in those few minutes, I came across the piano player for Diamond Rio, who was leaving the temple with a group of family and friends. I had literally just told my companion the story of how I sang as a 9 year old in front of 100,000 people at the Fabulous Phoenix Fourth of July in 1995 and sang "Broadway Baby" between Diamond Rio and Patti Loveless. She had asked when I knew I wanted to perform and that was one of the experiences I shared....when he said he was the piano player I literally was flabbergasted! I said, "Wait....you're kidding....oh my goodness! This is going to sound crazy! And I am sure you don't remember me, but..." I helped him recall the place and he lit up with memories of that being one of their biggest and greatest gigs! I told him I sang in between the bands and that I didn't get to meet them, but I had a picture of me in front of their Diamond Rio truck backstage! He asked if I had continued singing and I was able to tell him happily that I had and about some of the things I had done. I met his son, who is a singer/songwriter who wrote and sang a song called "Letter Home" that many of the sisters here love and often cry to because it is from the perspective of a lost or less-active friend who gets a letter from his friend on a mission that saves him. I told him how that song has touched so many hearts, including mine and why it was so personal to me because of one I love home that I pray my letters touch. We all wiped away a few tears. They thanked me for the work and sacrifices I make to do what I do every day as a missionary. We exchanged some info and he said to look for them in a few months when they tour "The Work" in California. I know that Heavenly Father is putting people in my path for a reason...not to mention I know it is not a coincidence that just 2 weeks ago I took Mark Mabry on a tour at the Battalion (creator of the projects"Reflections of Christ" and "Another Testament"). Who knows what lies ahead or what Heaven;y Father has in store, but just as Zamira says in the last line of the tour..."Funny thing, we found what we were looking for, where we least expected it!" = ) I have a good feeling about it.
   
Becca's Baptism on Saturday was so wonderful and so beautiful. A baptism has never gone so smoothly and we actually had our mission president and his counselor attend! Which made us super nervous! I ACTUALLY played the piano for the baptism because they didn't have anyone in the branch really to play. I haven't had to do that my whole mission. I practice at the battalion once in a while but I do much better playing for myself than for people. I was shaking SO much! I literally thought my heart stopped beating during the opening song. I had to play "For the Beauty of the Earth" (one of the very first hymns I could ever play) and "Love at Home" (which I had never played). I survived...I almost crashed and burned during the closing song but made it through with quite a few mess ups...I should stick to singing. My companion gave a beautiful talk about missionary work (per request of Becca because she is so amazing!) and she was shaking before she went up and already crying...but she spoke such beautiful words through the power of the spirit that were, as our mission president put it, "Spot on." She invited all in attendance to think of all those in their life that they love, and to share with them the things that they love most, the gospel and their testimonies of the Savior. Becca had asked Sister Mulipola to sing "I Am A Child of God" in Samoan and she is deathly afraid of singing in public so I offered to sing with her and jokingly said, "You sing it in Samoan and I will sing it in Mandarin or German!" Sister Patterson said, "That's a great idea! Becca's family are German immigrants! She would love that!" So we kept it a surprise and when I started singing the second verse in German, Becca's face lit up and she and her mother (her parents and brother are not members and was a miracle they came!) began to cry. It brought a sweet and tender spirit. Afterwards she couldn't even talk to me about it without crying. She was so grateful. When Becca stood in the font with her boyfriend who had just been able to exercise the priesthood again...and as he said the prayer or the ordinance...she cried...I have never seen that...and I was overwhelmed with the feeling of the spirit that was in the room. What a gift it was to witness. I have never seen someone so happy, and so grateful to be able to be baptized. She is truly incredible.
  
I just want to share with you an amazing miracle and lesson learned in following promptings and using the Lord's time wisely. Just yesterday our Zone Meeting ended earlier than we planned, and we had just reviewed and talked about applying all we learned from Elder Ballard. As we were leaving I felt this internal battle begin...knowing the easy thing we could do... we hadn't had lunch and it was hot so we could have stopped by a place to grab a bite and a cool drink, then go meet up with our recent convert so she could finish filling out her baptismal record, share a little message with her, then go to our appointment. These things are all fine yes...but I felt almost compelled to go somewhere and try to find a new investigator for us...yes we could eat sometime...but didn't need to then and we had 45 minutes of precious, unplanned opportunity....(we were invited to lunch twice and I kept thinking about the Sonic around the corner) it was almost like Satan was tempting the weaker part of me, and the natural man...I asked Sister Patterson what she wanted to do and she had wanted to go to a neighbor that our 1st counselor had said we could stop by a while ago who was having a hard time....she lived just across the street from where we were...then we decided we could go see our recent convert. I said OK and we went and actually got the door slammed in our face...that was pleasant...but at least we have a report for our members! The whole time I was thinking, "Sister Riggs, you know what you should do...you should find someone...put your faith in the Lord...you should just go to the Trolley Station by the shopping center and street contact." I continued to think (because I truly felt an opposing force trying to get me to do everything but street contact) that the Lord really had someone waiting for us at the Trolley Station. When we got in the car I turned to Sister Patterson and said, "I keep feeling like we should go to the trolley station and try to find someone, and we could just have Becca come meet us at the church and fill out her baptismal record while we are in our other lesson, because we'll be meeting with her Wednesday anyway, so she really doesn't need a lesson today." She said, "OK! Let's do it then!" So we went...as we pulled up there were a few people here and there, we parked and Sister Patterson said a beautiful prayer of faith that we would find someone in the 15 minutes we had. We then armed ourselves with copies of The Book of Mormon and pass along cards....I turned around and almost immediately honed in on a young woman sitting on a rock and holding her bike up...I turned to Sister Patterson and said, "I want to talk to this girl over here!" We met Ondraya and were immediately greeted with kindness. We just struck up a conversation about where she was coming from and going and found out she works at an Equestrian Ranch and so I immediately had more things to talk about her with horses and such....through our conversation she was very interested in who we were and what we do as missionaries and she wanted to know our stories. She as raised Catholic and mentioned losing her mom very young. We were able to testify to her of forever families, of God's love and plan for her and of her incredible individual worth...I even related the gospel and the commandments to horse training and reigns! Ha ha...the spirit helped on that one because I didn't understand everything I was saying as I was saying it but it made sense to her! ...A horse can be put in an arena and run free and be fine, sure...but when it succumbs to training, to being broken, to following the rules and letting the rider lead and guide it...it learns, it progresses, and becomes a champion! Rewarded with carrots and apples, and even grand ribbons....it reaches it's full potential = ) Even more so, he horse becomes one with the rider, and both do great things as a team! Just like our Heavenly Father and us! Kind of incredible = ) Anyway, we added her as a new investigator and will be meeting with her again on Thursday. We said a prayer with her, and sadly, as we said "Amen" her trolley pulled away!!! We felt so awful, we took her into Jamba Juice to get her a treat to make up for it, ha ha...she was so nice about it....we continued to talk and she said that she completely believed it was not an accident that she met us. i confirmed that thought with her and told her we had some other things we could have done, but felt prompted to come here, and now we knew why...Heavenly Father wanted you to hear this. She texted us later and said she was excited for us to come by and wanted to make us dinner too. Unreal? Yep, it sure seems so! The sad thing is, she is moving to Washington State for school in 2 and 1/2 weeks....we are very sad we won't get to teach her for very long, but I know that is not the point...there will be missionaries in Spokane that will be so grateful to teach someone who is so prepared, and the point is, Heavenly Father needed her to be found, and to begin her journey. I was so thankful for the promptings we both received. Had we not gone to the neighbor Sister Patterson felt to visit, had we had lunch with the member family that so kindly offered us to join them, basically had we done anything else but follow the promptings we received that we knew in our hearts would be the best way to use the Lord's time He had given us, the timing to meet Ondraya would not have worked out...and who knows when or if she would have come across missionaries again. WOW! What a miracle! Prayer and faith (and personal sacrifice/hard work)) truly do precede the greatest miracles!

I love this work....and I can't wait for all that is yet to come in it!

Love you all!!!! I'd love to hear about the miracles you experience as you talk to those Heavenly Father puts in your path!!!

Your Favorite Sister Missionary,
Sister Riggs
 
Becca's Baptism Day!
 
Me and Sister Patterson
Me and Becca = )