Welcome to the missionary blog of Sister Ralynne Riggs. Here you will be able to follow Ralynne's experiences as she serves a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the California San Diego Mission and Mormon Battalion Historic Site. We will do our best to keep you updated weekly and hope you will find joy in being a part of Sister Riggs' mission!

Wednesday, 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 = )