December 30, 2014

A Merry Monterrey Christmas (Week 29)




Holaaaaa!  Well what a week.  I officially had my first "missionary skype call" which was the best present ever!!!! I'll give you all a run down of how the skype call went:  I connected onto skype, saw that my family was online, we connected to video, and the minute I saw all your faces I just burst into tears hahahah!  I had no words!  The first words that came out of my mouth were Ï don't know how to speak english!!! hahahaha my family had to listen to me battle with "spanglish" as it seriously was so weird having an hour long conversation in english, expressing all of my joys and crazy moments I have had here.  My companion, hermana mendoza, got to speak a few words in english to my fam, which made my mom cry even harder hahaha ;) and it was just so awesome expressing to my family how much I love this area, the people, the food, and just how everyday I have learned so much abouthumility, gratitude, and love.  It was probably the fastest 60 minutes of my entire life, this skype call, and logging off was probably the most brutal thing I have ever had to do! But I really am so happy to be here. Can't wait to skype you all again in May for my last skype call here in monterrey :) 

Christmas Eve:  Well this Christmas season definitely has been far different than any other Christmas I have had.  Christmas Eve and Christmas were really hard days to teach because everyoneee is either out of town or locked inside making their Tamales hahaha allllll the women make tamales during the Christmas season....(WHICH ARE SO DELICIOUS) so no one really wanted to listen to us.  The night of Christmas eve we had a really sweet experience.  We were teaching a son 18 years old and his mom, who are progressing really well, and after our lesson with them she offered us some tamales...which we ate BEFORE our big dinner that we were going to right after the lesson hahaha, so us 4 sat at her table eating her tamales she had just made that day.  The mom, RosaMaria, doesn't have enough money to send her son, 18 years old, to school, so he does not have an education, and yet she INSISTED that we sit down and eat her tamales.  She is such a generous, loving woman, and we just felt so humbled sitting there eating with her and her son on Christmas Eve.  I will always have this memory and am so grateful for all of these generous acts I have witnessed with the people here this Christmas Season.  For our Christmas Eve Dinner us and the 2 elders in my ward went and ate at a member's home, and she cooked us a giant turkey, spagetti, mashed potatoes, tamales.....it was very tasty!  And it was great to feel the warmth and love of a family on Christmas Eve when all of us missionaries are away from our own families <3 Christmas Day......we had our 3 hours of studies in the morning, 3 hour planning session we have every thursday, and then Hermana Mendoza and I went to a members home to skype/call our families :)  Directly after this skype call, we went out and searched the empty streets for people to teach haha we could only find one of our investigadores to teach, and it was really sweet watching her kids play with their toys Santa had brought them.....I was honored to know that this little girl's barbie doll is named "hermana Riches" due to my hair color.
one of mis mejores amigas, Dani Montemayor <3

Well, this Christmas Season has taught me so so much.  I have been so humbled.  I stressed this to my family over skype...SO humbled as I am away from family, all materialistic items, and as missionaries we are constantly worrying about other people and no one cares/worries about us hahah.  I have felt so much joy seeing others recieve happiness with this message, and this Christmas away from home will always be in my heart as one of the greatest times I've had in my life.  Very difficult times, but life changing!  


Well I just want to remind you all that Heavenly Father answers our prayers.  One night this week it was pouring rain and freezing, and some members offered to drive us back to our home at 8:30 pm.  We are supposed to be back in our home at 9pm, so as much as we wanted this ride back home we knew we had to keep working hard this last half hour and find one last person to teach before returning home.  Right after this phone call with the members, we knocked on a door and a family opened up and let us go in and share a message.  We watched the church christmas video El es la Dádiva / He is the Gift and there was such a powerful feeling in that little house with the pouring rain outside and thunder.  We knew Heavenly Father had blessed us with this one last lesson because of our diligence.  Being a missionary is exhausting, but when we pray and show our dedication to this work, Heavenly Father always opens up doors and experiences.


Cheers to 2014....and on to the next!  Thank you for all of your love and support and I will see you all in 2015 :)

More Pics:

 Presidente Bird and his wife
My first companion, Hermana Batalla

CON AMOR
hermana riches

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December 24, 2014

¡ Feliz Navidaddddddd ! (Week 28)

12 days of christmas.....version mexico monterrey este
BUENAS TARDES!  So I have a giant smile on my face right now because Navidad is in 2 days!  and I get to talk to my wonderful family!  Well this week flew by and we had so many fun events and memorable moments.  I wish you could all just be here with me to see the crazy moments I have on a daily basis with the people here hahaha.  First thank you to Mom and Grammy Riches for your lovely mail!  And all of the fabulous emails I recieve each week seriously it means so much. hmmmm I don´t even know where to begin!  So much to say....the delicious tamales I get to eat here every day....the christmas lights on all the homes....the loco super hot and super cold weather....  Last week we had a christmas party with my ward here and there were various musical numbers performed.  hermana mendoza, me and 3 other young women sang ¨Noche de Luz¨....Silent Night.....in harmonies and it was sooo beautiful!!  We also sang it again in sacrament meeting this past sunday.  I love having all of these musical opportunities here....to sing or play the piano....and to do it in spanish is even cooler :) 


So this past saturday as a zone we went to a giant market and shined shoes and gave out hot chocolate!  It was pretty funny, all 20 of us were walking through the market and EVERYONE was staring at us....hahah because we are never out in public with a big group of us missionaries so yes we caught everyone's attention with us being half blondes and half from mexico.  It's funny too because everyone we talk to on the street always asks us... "en su iglesia siempre hay un juerito y un mexicano!!" hahaha meaning....."in your church there is always a blonde and a mexican.....yes we missionaries have that stereotype.  This activity was awesome because we got to talk to so many people and hand out pamphlets and Christmas cards and recieve lots of directions of people to go and visit.  Not everyoneeeee is willing to listen to us haha but the people here really are so warm and nice.  The markets are so fascinating as all these people really do make a living off of everything they sell......lots of different foods, handmade items, etc.  

 this is like half of the market!  it is huge
"selfy for instagram"

This morning we had our "christmas brunch" with all the missionaries here in Monterrey Este.....it was such a blast!  We had nutella crepes, and I played the piano for all of us as we sang Christmas carols in spanish all together. and each zone performed a number haha we sang the "12 days of Christmas" but we changed all the words to things that relate here in the mission.....it was seriously so perfect haha all the missionaries and Presidente Bird were applauding so loud!  Shout out to the Riches Fam Tradition of all of us singing 12 days of Christmas on Christmas Eve :)  haha I had to carry on the tradition here!  here are some photos from this morning:
 #bestySelfy award goes to Presidente Bird




So yes lots of photos and more to come next week!  although I miss home I really have learned to appreciate all the experiences I am having here....and just the joy I have to be sharing this message of Christ with people every day.  Remember......Christmas all began with the birth of our Savior

que os ha nacido hoy, en la ciudad de David, un Salvador, que es Cristo el  Señor...gloria a Dios en las alturas, y en la tierra paz, buena voluntad para con los hombres!  Lucas 2:  11, 14

Cristo vive.  Christ Lives.
Love you all!!!! Tenga una Feliz Navidad!!

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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December 20, 2014

Christmas Craziness (Week 27)

Well.....it is almost Navidad!!! aka 9 days until I see the beautiful faces and hear the beautiful voices of my beloved family through the computer screen!!  This week has been so busy with Christmas shenanigans and what not.....but I want to make a few shoutouts to Katie Barrus, Mom, Grammy and Grandpa, and Chloe Bray (currently serving in ROME) for your mail and packages!!! you guys rock...and now the apartment is much more Christmasy :)  Here are a few pictures of us in the house of a ward member....she has a gorgeous Christmas tree so we had to have a #photoshoot
elder melara, elder burgsma, hermana mendoza, y yo!
we feel at home with christmas decoarations....
 the relief society president here in my ward
so these next 2 weeks we have many exciting plans:

- this thursday night we are having a christmas dinner as a ward with tamales, tacos, Corn, etc and there are going to be many musical numbers performed....as a relief society (the women in the church) we are singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing and I'm playing the piano and my companion is directing haha so that will be fun 

this saturday as a zone we are going to shine shoes and hand out hot coco in a market!  It will be a good way to find new investigadores 

next tuesday we have a christmas dinner with the whole mission which will be such a blast!  Each zone has to prepare a skit/ musical number.....and so for our zone I am planning (of course the elders put me in charge of this lovely job...haha) a "12 days of Christmas" MEXICO MONTERREY EAST MISSION version hahahah we are changing the words and each companionship is going to have a number and then a funny phrase/ inside joke that pertains to the mission..... instead of singing "on the first day of christmas my true love gave to me" we are going to sing "aquí en la misión en esta Navidad...." and then yeah!  I hope to have it recorded so I can send the memory stick home for you guys to watch it is going to be really funny haha.  But yes of course Las Hermanas are always put in charge of planning all these creative things....Gracias Elderes!!!! 

-we are always going to have a White Elephant gift exchange with the mission next tuesday which will be fun

- Christmas Eve we are going to eat dinner with a family in our ward

-Christmas Day...SKYPING THE FAM!!! for only an hour ;( but yes so so so excited going to be so weird speaking in english literally the most english I have spoken is only when teaching english to my companion!!! 

And of course we still go out teaching every day from 11 am to 9 pm every single day!  So sadly it isn't all just Christmas fiestas....

So now for the "spiritual" part of my email haha.....so I have been reflecting a lot on my time here as a missionary....I have completed a little over a third of my mission experience!  As a missionary you feel a lot of pressure.....and it's easy to feel like you havn't accomplished enough or maybe not spent your time as productively as you should.  It's easy to get down on yourself!  But What I always have to remember is it is the Lord's Timing....if people don't want to listen, it's not in our hands...every person has their agency to choose to go to church with us, to listen to us, and to progress and ONLY the Lord can convert people.  I have learned a lot about El Albedrio/ Personal Agency....how every person has the choice to act or decide for themselves...and at times you just want to make people act a certain way haha!  but you can't.  All you can do is trust in the Lord, and with His timing all will work out in the end. 

"Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him" Psalms 2:12

"Behold, they have been sent to preach my gospel...wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, thus:   thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt though bury thy talent that it may not be known" DyC 60:13 

During Church yesterday one of my best friends here, Bebita, was secretly taking some photos of Hermana Mendoza and I hahahaha "Las Hermanas caught in action"  
 posing for the camera slash trying not to sleep during church

very intrigued

well, this email wasn't very long but I will write next TUESDAY and then Skype on thursday!!

Remember the words of Buddy the Elf....

The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear 


C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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December 11, 2014

He Is The Gift (Week 26)

The wonderful Familia Garcia (Older Son and Daughter my recent converts :))

What a crazy week!  The holidays are definitely filled with so many activities, events, happiness, and stress haha!  This week Hermana Mendoza put up a fewwww Christmas decorations.......
  a classic #ChristmasSelfy

So I havn't talked much about my investigadores, but we have one fabulous family, Familia Hernandez, and the mom and son have baptismal dates set for January 4th!  So we are working really hard with them.....The kids are so full of love...when we are walking in the street towards their home, if they see us walking, they run in full sprint towards us and shout HERMANAS HERMANAS and give us the biggest hugs and kisses on our cheeks.  Jerson, 8 years old, Alison, 7 years old, and a 6 month year old.  Their dad is alwaysss out of town for work, and the mom, Carmen, works multiple little jobs to provide more money for the family.  They live in very humble circumstances, and the kids are always offering us treats and drawn pictures of us haha it is very sweet.  Gah I have so much love for this family and just keep praying that they will keep progressing and keep recieving answers from the Lord that our message is true.  The mom has had dreams about us, has been reading the Book of Mormon, and really has seen a change in her life since meeting with us.  So we just hope and hope and hope that they keep progressing.  This sunday there is a big Christmas program in the Temple, and we really hope they can go with us!!  The Kids love going to our church activities, and the ward members have really given lots of support for this family.  It makes me so grateful for the service of the members in my ward!  Here are some pics of us with the kids scrunched in a taxi going to a ward activity hahaha:


Well as many of you have seen the video HE IS THE GIFT.... christmas.mormon.org, we as missionaries have been so focused on sharing it with as many people as we can!  The church really is putting so much effort into this video...with ads on Facebook, Youtube, and they bought a place in Times Square to post an advertisement.  It's really cool being a missionary during these times when the church is putting forth grand efforts to have the word be known.  I love this video.  I watch it multiple times with people everyday.....but the one in spanish (El es La Dadiva)  If an investigador/member has a smart phone or internet in the house, we always invite them to watch it and share it on their Facebooks.  Everytime I watch this video I feel so much peace!  and we have seen many times where investigadores watch this video and shed some tears.  This time really is for us all to remember the grand blessings we have thanks to our Savior. 

Link to Video:   http://www.mormon.org/christmas 

I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me  Phillipians 4:13

Well, this week has been a bit harder for me.  Not gunna lie I have had a few minor meltdowns haha....  and it is sooo hard being away for the holidays!  It's hard watching everyone here enjoy time with their families in their fiestas.....  I have been a bit homesick thinking of all you fam at home. and we work 24/7 as missionaries.....with no day of rest and no day off on Christmas or new years!  Here, people don't play christmas music or hardly a christmas tree!  About half the people have Christmas Decorations.  I have been so humbled being here and have really recognized the blessings I have recieved and how lucky we are at home. and I know I need to take in all of these memories I am having here with my new beloved friends and family.  Although I sincerely miss Mom's cookies, watching christmas movies in pajamas, and the warm company of family and friends, I know that this work really is important and that this message will touch many hearts this Christmas season.  I am eternally grateful for my family and all the traditions we have.....for these are much greater than any material gift. 

Behold I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I have been called of Him to declare his word among hs people, that they might have everlasting life  3 Nephi 5:13

MORE PICS FROM THIS WEEK:

to give you an idea of the delicious tacos I eat every day (The Famous tacos de bistec de Hermana Alma Sanchez)

on mondays from 4-6 we play futból as a zone....hahaha Jordan you'd be impressed with my skills ;)
one of our favorite people Gina Gomez :)




Love you all and drink lots of eggnog and peppermint bark for me!!

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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December 03, 2014

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Week 25)

a sweet woman in our ward made these headbands for us

....currently jamming to Maroon 5 and Eye of the Tiger here in the mall #realworld....

Well we are officially in December.....aka Christmas lights, lots of good food, cold temps, christmas music, andddddd SKYPING THE FAM IN 25 DAYS!!!!  I'm just a bit excited...  I miss you all so much!  and although it is sad that I won't be celebrating christmas this year with Grammy's ginger snap cookies, jamming to Amy Grant Christmas, or watching Elf, I know I will have a wonderful Christmas with my new friends and family here.  Hermana Mendoza and I bought a giant paper christmas tree that is taped to our wall....for 15 pesos which is a little more than a dollar haha..... and we are going to get more christmas decorations today!  I also was very sad not to have celebrated Thanksgiving this week....I pictured all of you enjoying turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpking pie...and all of my family on the beach in hawaii......!!
Our new apartment is much better than our other!  Muchhhh warmer, much safer, and much quieter without the nightly karaoke sessions next door.  The owner of the apartment is so sweet and always comes by asking if she can cook something for us.  
Now that we are in Christmas season, us as missionaries are visiting all the members and sharing a new video that mormon.org has put out.....NAVIDAD.MORMON.ORG(in english i think it is christmas.mormon.org haha) but I reallyyyy encourage you all to watch it!! It is only about 3 minutes, and it is a beautiful message about the purpose of Christmas:  The birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  I encourage all of you to share it on your facebook pages!  Le prometo que va a tocar muchos corazones con este mensaje y va a recordar el Salvador en su hogar durante este tiempo de Navidad.
 One of my best friends here....Yuli Sanchez...and Hermana Mendoza and I are casually wearing the same outfit..

So lots of people here ask us....."so don't you missionaries have teachers and a study course that you have to complete before your mission?  Do you have teachers with you here in Monterrey?" Every time someone asks us this, it feels so great to tell them NO!   We don't have teachers, we don't have study courses.... everything everything everything we learn as missionaries comes through our personal scripture study and the holy ghost.  Seriously!  Every meeting we have is taught by other missionaries.....we don't have any instructors telling us how to teach.  Everything comes from the examples in the scriptures and the experiences of other fellow missionaries.  It's also amazing to recognize that every single answer we need to know about this life comes from the scriptures....not from man.  Lots of people ask us"well, why does this happen in my church?" "well my pastor told me this" "why are there so many doctrines?" and every time we answer these questions we say.....Lea las escrituras!! read the scriptures!  read the Bible and everything is so clear as to how the true church of Jesus Christ should be run.  I am so grateful for this time that I have to really find out for myself that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints really is true, and every one can know this for themself if they dedicate time to read the scriptures.  

"neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Ghost, which God bestows upon those who love him, and purify themselves before him" DyC 76:116


Here in Monterrey we are really focusing on Famiy History work.....learning about our ancestors, who they were, where they lived, etc.  It really is so amazing that family history work is such a huge part of our church because we can learn so much about our family history background and the interesting facts of our ancestors.  We are encouraging everyone to use familysearch.org to insert all the facts they know about themselves and their family members....I invite you all to record stories, memories, and facts about your loved ones so that these memories won't be lost!  


Yesterday the elders in my ward had a baptism.....Blanca and Humberto Morales....and their son, Cesar, got baptized 2 months ago in our ward.  It was so amazing to see them get baptized because I remember when their son was coming to church, they didn't want any part of it.  The Father was very hard hearted about reading the book of mormon, but they both really have experienced such great changes of heart.  Us 4 missionaries sang the hymn "Grand Eres Tu"/ "How Great thou Art" and it was so beautiful!!  They both were tearing up.  Their son had the chance to baptize them both, and it really was such a beautiful experience.  I know that when we are baptized we recieve a full cleanse of all our sins, and we are entering the gateway to return to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again.  Yo realmente puedo testificar que esta ordenanza es verdadera y que es necesario para entrar en el reino de Dios.  

classic selfy with our ward mission leader


After the Baptism we went to Blanca and Humberto's home for lunch and had amazing tamales and tacos de trompo......tacos de trompo have a red meat like this picture below.... 


So Elder Melara and Elder Burnett are hilarious....here is photo of them "trying" to be us hermanas hahaha




Well, I am doing great and miss all of you!  Love you guys and so appreciate your packages, letters, emails, and thoughts! 

"Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature.  THere seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all.  Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required" Pres Thomas S. Monson

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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November 26, 2014

Never a Dull Moment (Week 24)

"y habeís de dar gracias a Dios en el Espíritu por cualquier bendición con que seaís bendecidos" DyC 46:32

and ye must give thanks unto God in the spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with" DC 46:32

What a week!  I honestly can't remember all that has happened haha every day is crazy jammed pack with so many adventures, moments of laughter, stress, spiritual highs, and new friends.  My body is so exhausted.  Hermana Mendoza tells me that I sleep talk at night in spanish....contacting people hahah!  she says that in my dreams I repeat "buenas tardes, somos misioneras de la iglesia de jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias..." hahaha my brain is on auto-mode.... Well this past week was very warm...but apparently this week is going to be suuuuper cold... I never know what to wear in the morning because the weather changes every single day.  So I am casually that blonde girl walking around with rain boots, a summer blouse, and holding a scarf and two jackets.  So this week is transfer week....but I am staying here in Sada Vidrio!!!  I was super nervous I was going to get transferred, but I am sooo happy to know that I am going to be staying here in my area for Christmas!! I love love this area so much.....also another mini announcement is that the end of my mission is in exactly 1 year!  There are no transfers in December, so I will be going home this time of year next year....these past 6 months really have gone by so fast and I know that time will just keep going by faster and faster.  


So I haven't really talked about my housing situation in my letters, but I have quite a story to share haha.  So as some of you know....I have been living above a food store these past 4 1/2 months, with daily supply of diet coke, cereal, and every snack imaginable.  Our living situation has been the center of many missionary jokes because we literally live right above a food store hahaha in a very insecure area.... (don't worry mom....it's made for some good adventuresome stories :) )  sooooo we have been meaning to change houses all summer but couldn't find one with the requirements the mission has.  This week we were told we HAD to find a new rentable house, or the elders were going to switch houses with us and the area!  I really did not want to change areas!  So many prayers were offered this week hahah and friday the elders found a new house.  So on Saturday we moved EVERYTHING out of our house into the elder's house, and the elders moved into a new house.  It was quite the experience -we had to move the beds, suitcases, fridge, tables, everything down our tiny skinny stair case.  A member was taking pictures of us and now the whole ward has seen these pictures on facebook hahahah we are crazy!

The first load! haha so much stuff to move!
Goodbye!

The couple who own the apartment we were living in/ owners of the store hahaha I'm going to miss these people!
Saturday we walked into our "new home".....where the elders were living....and it was FILTHY......this weekend hermana mendoza and I were just dying of laughter as we found some "hidden treasures"...thank you elders!  Oh man.... so this week we have been doing lots of cleaning and organizing.  My back is so sore!  and we don't have beds...so it has been fun sleeping on a mattress on the floor #mishlife
  Talking to our district leader on the phone, eating tacos on our mattress because we didn't have a table or chair set up #lifeisgood

well we have a super wonderful family we are teaching!  La Familia Hernandez....a mom/dad and 3 kids....they have gone to church twice!  The dad is always working so we havn't met with him much, but Carmen, the mom, has such a strong testimony already.  She prayed to ask if she should be baptized, and she prayed wanting to have her question answered with a dream. and she dreamed about Hermana Mendoza and I visiting her and images of Jesus Christ being baptized!!!! If this isn't a direct answer to a prayer......I don't know what is!  so we are very excited and hope that they continue to progress!  What is special about this family too is that right before we contacted Carmen in the market about 3 weeks ago, hermana mendoza and I said a prayer, asking to find a family of 5.....and they are a family of 5 and she literally is an answer to our prayer!!! So I really do believe that Heavenly Father has led us to this family.

Well, I am doing great, and it's weird not celebrating Thanksgiving here!  I am so grateful for all of these experiences I am having, and although it is so tough every day, it's so awesome at the same time.  also, This afternoon a woman in our ward is driving me to a shoe store to go buy some boots....literally the ONLY store here that has my shoe size!!!! an 8 1/2 shoe size is gigantic to these people... who all wear sizes 4 and 5!
Thank you for all your emails, packages, letters, and thoughts!

"we do not preach and teach in order to bring people into the church or to increase the membership of the church...we do not preach and teach just to pursuade people to live better lives.  We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God.  No one else can do this" Elder Dallin H. Oaks


C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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