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, September 24, 2013

Oh His Eye is on the Sparrow!!!

Dear Family and Loved Ones,

Wow! What an incredible and miracle filled week! I have received answers to prayers and have truly felt the spirit in great abundance throughout the week and my heart is just filled with gratitude for the many tender mercies of the Lord. I am constantly reminded again and again that this truly is HIS work and He is so involved in our lives....if only the whole world would allow their eyes to see the many ways He tries to manifest to them that He is there. I will be honest. I have been feeling a little dulled lately as far as my ability to feel the spirit. I have felt I have been doing all the things I have done before to feel and be entitled to it's guidance...but I wasn't feeling and it was making me pretty sad. I also had been praying about a few things and not seeing or getting answers. I was feeling a little discouraged at the fact that while I have been praying and awaiting answers, other's prayers, including my companions, seem to be answered so immediately. I went on exchanges with my past companion, Sister Rasmussen, and let her know how I was feeling about it all. She suggested that at the end of each day I write down one way my prayers were answered, and then she said a beautiful prayer on my behalf, to be able to feel....well, the next day, Thursday, had to be one of the greatest days of my mission!

It began with a wonderful district meeting in which my district leader, Elder Blair, gave a beautiful and powerful lesson on the meaning of the Atonement. As we watched one of the new Bible videos from the Life of Christ, my prayer to feel was answered. All I felt was warmth and love...a love for my Savior and love from Him. It seemed to consume me from head to toe. Chills, a warm burning in my chest, and tears I could not stop. I stopped and soaked it in...and oh how sweet it was to know that the comforter was with me. That lit me up! Afterward we went to the Grossmont College Campus to set up a booth and invite students to institute and to take DVDs, pamphlets, and Books of Mormon if interested. As we were setting up our booth I saw a young man sitting and eating a salad....he was football player in stature ; ) ... and since I know a lot about eating salads (wink wink) I struck up a conversation about it. Justin was very nice and open and he said, "Oh yeah my Aunt and her whole family just became Mormons." We were so excited! We asked who his aunt was and came to find that it was the Holyfield family that had all just spoken in our Stake Conference session on Sunday about their conversion and how the gospel has blessed their lives. Coincidence? No way Jose! Heavenly Father! He took a couple things and we mentioned the branch and all the YSA activities and we told him we'd tell his aunt we met him. He said, "Oh, I'll tell her tonight at dinner. I am over at her house all the time!" So guess who's house we are going to be hanging around?! ; ) Sister Patterson and I looked at each other and said, "Well, our prayers for Heavenly Father to send someone prepared to hear the gospel to our booth have already been answered!" We also met a girl named Mandy who is Christian and was very interested in learning more. She talked with Sister Patterson while I was talking to a cute engaged couple who were both handicapped (melted my heart)...but I complimented her guitar earrings as she walked away and asked if she liked music. She said she loved to sing and was sad the college didn't have any programs she could get into with that. I told her I sang for Disney and she was blown away...it was a great cliff hanger and a way to say, "Yeah, I'll tell you more about it when we meet with you!" = ) Then later I went to the Mormon Battalion. I was sitting on the porch talking to a man who likes to sit on our rocking chairs and watch the sunset. I was waiting my turn for dinner too and I looked up the street and saw 3 African-Americans crossing the street...and we all know how much I love them....so I immediately felt I needed to go out to the statue to meet them and invite them in. I loved them in an instant! I invited Cherry, Harvey, and Ranae Randall in for the 2,000 mile journey. I was suppose to go eat dinner but I felt really strongly that I was suppose to, and I really wanted to take these great people on tour. I prayed Heavenly Father would sustain me and my blood sugar through the tour. We had a couple of minutes before we could begin so I was going to sing my "On the Road" song and asked if they liked music...Cherry said, "Oh yeah we do! He's a professional singer!" Found out he and Cherry are ministers from Dallas, Texas and he sings gospel music professionally. I told him about my background and they asked me to sing, so I told them that perhaps after the tour we could do a little exchange. Well, it was just me with the 3 of them on tour so needless to say it was one of the funnest tours I have ever taken. They were so into it. I stopped to say a silent prayer during the tour, and prayed in my heart: "Heavenly Father, I love these people so much and I am so thankful to be able to take them on tour. They have such strong faith, and believe everything I have been sharing with them so far. I don't know that there is anything I could say to them that would strike them...but I do feel that I should sing for them. Help me to know what song would touch their hearts, and I pray that as I sing thou wilt make me an instrument...that through my voice and my countenance, they might feel the spirit in a way they never have before and in a way they will recognize is right and true..." Well at the end of the tour I asked Harvey to sing. He said he was too tired...so I asked if I could sing and they happily agreed. The song that had come to mind was "How Great Thou Art" and they said it's always a good one. I sang the last two verses. As I thought my body was going to com-bust and I felt chills everywhere and strength in my voice....I knew my prayer was being answered. Tears glistened in their eyes and they were so engaged in that moment. It was incredible to experience. Afterward Harvey was stunned. They clapped and he asked if I had professional recordings out and that if I didn't, I needed to. He said, "You just sang for the 3 of us here with so much heart....that's all I felt from you was a love for God. So many people sing for entertainment today, and we need more voices like yours in the world...that help people feel." He then decided to sing for me = ) He sang a bit of "How Great is Our God." It was SO good! I loved it! I just had to capture this moment on camera so I asked if he knew "His Eye is on the Sparrow" and if I could record us improvising a duet! Well, the video clip I sent says it all. It was SO FUN! I haven't sung like that in 16 months and it felt so good!!!! I could have soared 50 feet in the air! Ha ha! That's what it felt like. I don't even know where that voice came from...we were both so full of joy after...just smiling and saying thank you and he told me we should just record a gospel CD together. After was even better....they wanted to pray for me so of course I let them. Cherry prayed and spoke of how they were just wandering through old town doin' this and that and they just thought they'd wander up the hill to see what this buildin' was all about and they had no idea that what they would find was me....she said I was an angel in their lives that night and had been blessed with a beautiful gift and talent. They prayed that the doors of opportunities would open for me and that the Lord would reveal His plans for me and how He would have me use my voice. It was one of the sweetest, most convicted prayers I have ever heard = ) The whole time Harvey was chanting some, "open the doors Lord, open 'em now!...yes Lord" etc....While I ran to give him a copy of my CD, I had them watch the Alex Boye Mormon Message because I knew he would connect to it. He loved it and wanted to buy his music. I gave him my CD and he told me it meant the world to him and that he would use it in his devotionals as he ministered and that they would watch for me after my mission  = ). It was seriously one of the top 5 greatest moments of my mission! After they left I finally got back to eat dinner at 8:15...after the adrenaline left me I crashed and zoned from the spiritual high. But I was so grateful the Lord sustained me and I was able to follow the prompting to take them. They said they believed 100% there was a reason they met me that night.. I agreed = ) Gotta love it!

We had another answered prayer with a recent convert who has been struggling. He has an absolutely terrible home life and struggles with depression. We haven't known how else we could help him, but we had a special prayer for him while planning and asked what more we could do. The thought "Primary Songs" came to mind....I didn't know why, but as I talked it out with my companion I remembered that he has mentioned a few times that he loves to sing...just in passing. So we decided to teach him of how Heavenly Father shows His love for us and we read scriptures in between. It was like a sing-along-lesson! We started with nature - "My Heavenly Father Loves Me", the scriptures - "Book of Mormon Stories", the prophets - "Follow the Prophet", and through Jesus Christ - "He Sent His Son"....his whole countenance changed and he was beaming. The spirit was felt so strongly too...we all had to stop after we sang the last verse of Book of Mormon Stories (which is about the Savior and I feel like I've never sung before) because we all had tears coming to our eyes. After the lost song he just said, "I have no words to express how I feel right now." So I told him to just feel and he began to cry. We committed him to sing a hymn or primary song every day, either to start, or as a tool when he felt down. We left that lesson with such a sweet spirit in our hearts and in agreement that we ourselves needed that lesson. Wow! Seriously! What would I do without music! It's even what helps me be able to be a missionary!!!

Another investigator we have been praying for for about a month was Alicia. We met her and had her pray out loud for the first time and she had cried because she knew it was true in that moment....that was our only lesson with her. We were struggling for her to keep and make her appointments and she wasn't coming to church but we would see her at many of the activities. We have been praying and praying almost every day to know what she needed and what we could do to help. Well, Heavenly Father took care of that for us. We got a call from her Thursday night telling us she wanted to be baptized and had gotten an answer! We were excited to meet with her the next day and hear how. She had gone to institute and they had an amazing lesson about the Atonement. Later that night she went home and prayed and wrote out stories and analogies she was thinking of and just knew it was right. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and set her date for October 12th! We talked throughout the lesson about each piece of the plan being a gift. A few weeks before when we first planned to teach her the lesson and we were thinking of a fun commitment. I looked at a gift bag I had and said, "What if we cut up the questions and scriptures about the plan of salvation into slips and put them all in the gift bag and have her pull one out each day and study that element of it?" Again that was a few weeks ago....but as we handed it to her and explained it she started to cry because she said that the other night when she was writing analogies, one that came to mind was with a window and God handing all these gifts to her through it.....(well it made sense to her! = )....she said, "I haven't told anybody about that!" I promised her that it was a testimony that Heavenly Father knew her and her heart and her thoughts!!! She was blown away....AND they brought another friend to that very lesson and she wants to start meeting with us too! She said we made it sound really interesting! = ) 

OK, I am out of time now, but the last great miracle was Kelsey's baptism! She was soooo happy! Just listen to the video clip of her amazing testimony of prayer. It says it all! She also did this completely on her own...no family there to support her or even be at her baptism...no friends from before...but an entire branch that loves her so much already....when you know that, it makes her testimony tug on your heart strings. In her confirmation blessing, she was promised she would be a light to her family through her example. Wow! What an amazing week! What amazing truth! What amazing work!!!

Love you with all of my heart!!!

Sister Riggs

Me with the Randall's!

Kelsey's Baptism

This is a clip of Kelsey's testimony at her baptism. She bore a beautiful testimony about Prayer and it touched so many lives that were there...people were in awe. She is just 18 years old and so incredible and I thought it would be neat for you to hear her story! = )