June 25, 2014

Chocolate and Good Music Warm the Soul (Week 2)

mamariches pumpkin chocolate chip muffins are a success in the MTC
First I wanna make a big shout out to mamariches- your *muy delicioso* pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and chocolate chip cookies were a big hit here at the MTC.
 Chocolate really is a cure- when you have 17 hour days a nice baked good hits the spot.  I wanna thank all those again who sent me mail this week!! (Ted/Michelle, Grammy/Grandmpa, mom, Chloe Bray, the Walker Fam)- You can also go to DEARELDER.COM type in my info, and send me an "email" that the MTC prints out and delivers to the missionary the SAME day for free! THanks to chloe bray for sending me my first dearelder letter ;)

This week went by a lot faster than the first- time is really starting to pick up the pace!!  It's nice no longer being "freshman" here at the MTC- we're moving up in the ranks.  It's nice to be "sophomores" and to see the new missionaries come in each week- like little deer in the headlights haha!  Also- this goes out to Jordan riches- my black "nacho libre-nun- incarnación" shoes you mocked me for getting have been WONDERFUL hahahaha no blisters for me! ;)
Us being really cool in front of the famous missionary biking sculpture haha
So much to discuss from this week!!! here are some highlighted subjects we discussed:

MISSIONARIES AREN'T SIMPLY TEACHERS:  It's cool how here at the MTC we really focus on how we aren't going to all these different countries and states just so we can teach others about our beliefs- we are seeking to establish friendships where we can instill new hope and happiness into people's lives and to tell them that there IS a God who knows and loves them.  Not only are we going to experience changing lives, but a "mission is just as much about the missionary as it is the convert"- Holland.  Missions strengthen the person serving as well- God could easily send down an army of angels and have them perform miracles among the people on this earth- but he doesn't.  He knows that missionaries need just as much of a "faith booster" as the people being taught.  As they repeatedly tell us:  "You can't convert someone beyond your own conversion".  We also have focused a lot on how charity is the most important quality that a missionary should have- we wear a badge everyday with christ's name on it and it's our responsibility to show tat same compassion and kindness to others-.Our message means nothing if we do not express charity.  This obligation can bring a lot of pressure!  My teachers always remind us that we have the obligation to take on some of the responsibilities of Christ- to tend to their needs and struggles and to love them as God loves them.  It's pretty crazy to fully understand and comprehend this obligation we have.  

PERFECTIONISM:  perfectionism is a big problem in our world today and especially in our church- we seem to always compare ourselves to others, and we form expectations for ourselves that EXCEED what is asked of us.  I know that I struggle with this- along with so many other missionaries here.  We tell ourselves that we need to master the language as soon as possible, that every principle of doctrine needs to be taught with fluidity and exactness, and we expect every lesson to go perfectly well- and this isn't what's asked of us!  One scripture that I often read is Ether 12:27 "and if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will i make weak things become strong unto them." I often get frustrated because I don't have a "perfect study plan" or I don't know how to perfectly explain a concept in spanish- and I set expectations for myself that are way above what God expects of me.  This experience has humbled me in that I know that I NEED to rely on prayer to make me stronger.  As I've solely relied on the Lord to help me with my weaknesses, He has given me the power and the assurance to become stronger.  It's important to always remember that "the destination is not as important as what we've become on the way".

DILIGENCE:  diligence defines everything we do as missionaries haha.  Every minute of the day is planned out-
- what we are studying
- how we are studying
-when we are studying
-where we are studying
- who we are teaching
-how we are teaching
- what we are teaching
- what we are eating each meal
- how we're exercising
- where we're going to be at every specific time

every night as companionships we plan for the next day all those things listed above in our little missionary planner haha.  Now i know why returned missionaries are so diligent!  Being lazy isn't an option here.  As President Monson says: "when performance is measured, performance improves.  when performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates".  Every minute I am doing something in preparation for the people of mexico and it's such a great feeling!  It's hard being here and not having any "real" people to teach, but I know that I need to make the most of my time here at the MTC.  Our teacher gave us this quote:  "When i find myself away from my [missionary] duties by other interests, and when my body begs for rest, i give to myself this rallying cry:  Remember Him! The Lord is our perfect example of diligence.  He is our captain.  He called us.  He goes before us.  He chose us to Follow him and to bring others to us"- Pres. Eiring.  I know that these 18 months are going to go by so quickly and it's important that i really make the best use of my time!

SUNDAY DEVOTIONAL:  We had the honor of hearing from Janice Kapp Perry ( well known LDS composer).  She was such a delight to listen to.  She focused her talk on the power of music and how hymns always invite the spirit.  One of the highlights of my time here so far was she had all us 1200 missionaries stand together and sing a medley of "As sisters in zion" and "armies of helaman"- a little change she added was she changed the lyrics of "as sisters in zion" and created lyrics for sister missionaries.  SHe added these lyrics changes these past year, and it's just so special to be apart of the sister missionaries who she wrote this for.  We all stood and sang together, and the power of all of us singing brought tears to everyone's eyes- I looked around at the Elders and they all had their arms around each other and smiled and laughed as they saw how emotional they all were hahaha.  I can't even put into words the unity that was felt in that room as all of us are doing this work together, along with the other 85,000 missionaries around the world.
we go to church right next to the BYU football stadium....serious nostalgia
#selfysunday with BYU homie elder whitmarsh!
TUESDAY DEVOTIONAL:  so this week, there is a big training here at the MTC for roughly 150 new mission presidents- so all the 12 apostles and the prophet are here working with them.  Last night we had the chance to hear from Elder D. Todd Christofferson and on the stand sat 5 other apostles- this was such a rare and exciting opportunity to have all of them at the MTC devotional.  All of us missionaries sang "Praise to the man"- and again, it was just so powerful.  I wish you all could've heard us!  All of the new mission presidents were sitting in front of us, and they and the apostles were just all watching us with biggest smiles on their faces.  Music reallly does bring so much power and conviction (hahaha funny story- so the devotionals are broadcasted to all other MTCs in guatemala, brazil, mexico, africa, new zeland, spain, England, Chile, columbia, philipines... i'm forgetting rest, and while we're singing they film us all and during our practice, the camera zoomed RIGHT in on my face and i just started laughing and basically died hahaha cuz the huge screen is directly in front of the room and everyone just looked and laughed at me- that was my claim to fame- having my face broadcasted in front of the whole MTC)  anyways, D. Todd Christofferson's talk was so well done- his talk focused on the worth of souls and how they are great in God's eyes.  He began to reinforce the idea that only satan has the ability to "destroy our souls" and convince us all that "sin can obliterate the value of our soul".  This is entirely false, for God sees every individual human being on this earth as one of his children, and no matter what sin they have committed, they can repent and be forgiven and cleansed through the atonement of christ.  Some quotes include "there is no greater work than what you are doing"  "greatness is you forgetting yourself and losing yourself in the work of god" " charity is a spiritual gift that we must ask for and pray for"  "we must see individuals through god's eyes"  "when we love them, they will have faith in christ and themselves"  "they will sense their own individual worth when we share charity and love those we teach" "heighten your awareness of your OWN potential" "This experience will both excite and humble you" "you will sense and know christ's love and trust in you" "you're nothing in this work without christ" "this restored gospel gives you reassurance that you do not walk alone"  "your faith in god reflects his faith in you"  "He's put you a little below the angels and crowned you with glory"  "i testify that your soul is precious in God's eyes"  "missionaries stand as companions with the apostles"- at the end of his talk he blew us all a kiss goodbye- it's so amazing how he is speaking to us directly.
Needless to say, this talk and all the other wonderful speakers we hear from really instill the importance and seriousness of this calling as missionaries.  I need to love the people of mexico in the same way that god loves them- i need to see them through his eyes.  That's not easy to do all the time!  We all know people who rub us the wrong way, but we need to always ask ourselves the same question:  "how does God see this child of his?"  Being here, I have been made well aware of my weaknesses and how much I need to rely on my Heavenly Father.  Alma 26:12 "yea I am nothing, as to my strength i am weak, therefore I will not boast of myself but i will boast of my god, for in his strength i can do all things"
Wednesday temple day
here is our missionary purpose en Español

A invitar a las personas a venir a cristo al ayudarlas a que reciben el evangelio restaurado mediante la fe en jesucristo y su expiación, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la recepción del don del espiritu santo, y el perseverar hasta el fin.

Today was great as usual- getting to rest and get out in the "real" world- everyone loves seeing us missionaries haha we're like celebrities- little kids just run up to us and love to say hello.

well, cheers to another great week here at the MTC!  THe spanish is getting better and more comfortable, and this week we will be teaching even more "fake" investigators- my hour is up.....so see ya next wednesday!
shout out to CHLOE BRAY. WE MISS YOU!!!!
c o n  a m o r
hermana riches

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June 18, 2014

HELLO OUTSIDE WORLD!!! (WEEK 1)

You gotta have a missionary selfie haha :)
I feel like I have been gone forever!!!! I miss all you family and friends sooo much.  One important question:  Who did Andi send home on the "Bachelorette" this week? hahahha.  I'm so happy I can finally write home!! Here at the Missionary Training Center, Wednesdays are our "prep" days to do laundry, take a break, and email for an hour.  So I will try and cover everything in this short time that I have!!  I'd like to make some shout outs to the Mattinglys, Favros, Aunt Kathy, Katie Barrus, and Brooke Wills for sending me packages and letters this week!!!! Mom/Dad--pleaseeee tell the Favros and Mattinglys that I loved the treats!  Getting mail definitely lifts my spirits.  I appreciate all the wonderful emails I recieved too!!  People here in the computer lab were in awe at how many emails I recieved this first week- to say I feel blessed and loved is an understatement!!  I have the biggest smile on my face right now haha.  Because I only get an hour to email, it might be easier to send me letters instead (you can type up a letter, print it, and snail mail it to me)--I can write letters any day!  OK...now for this week's overview:

AFTER WEDNESDAY DROP OFF:  After that brutal curbside drop off last wednesday, I was led directly inside and recieved about 12 lbs of spanish study materials.  Here at the Provo MTC, they have got the system DOWN.  I was led through many assembly lines, and before I knew it, I had my missionary tag on.  and guess what- IT'S MAGNETIC!  hahaha you gotta find things here to get really excited about.  All of the spanish speaking missionaries are over on west campus- BYU has allocated some student housing and transformed it into an MTC extension.  We live in Wyview housing and have classes at Raintree.  There's probably about 300 spanish speakers here and 1200 on main campus- it's cool being in my own little spanish world haha.  I have 2 companions- I'm in a trio- Hermana Wood (from Utah going to Guadalajara Mexico) and Hermana Grenfell (From Kentucky going to Madrid Spain)  Mom/dad--hermana wood was the girl who took our picture on wednesday at the temple haha!!  They are both really nice girls, but not gunna lie- it is suchh an adjustment having to be with them ALL THE TIME.  I miss my alone time for sure.  
My two companions

P-TOWN LIFE:  It's so weird being back here in provo!!  I have seen SO many BYU friends here which brings so much comfort.  Some friends I've seen include:  Braydon Whitmarsh, keena horton, spencer bradham, brian brown, alima cannon, eric mika, tim nixon, jacob elieson, dan pettingil, jake curtis, jacob farnsworth, lindsey walker, hanna zenger, ashlyn howes, camille nuttal....oh man the list goes on!!  My district (group of missionaries I have all my classes with) consists of 4 elders and 5 sisters--with missions to san antonio texas, madrid, and all different missions to mexico.  I have many names here at the MTC too hahaha:  I am referred to has "cali chica" "hermana reeeeeches", "hermana rica" and "hermana mucho dinero"...they find my last name amusing I guess.
Gotta uphold my "Cali girl" reputation haha
My district

DAILY SCHEDULE:  to give you an idea of what an MTC missionary's life looks like:
6:30 am wake up
7:30 breakfast
8-11:30 personal study, companionship study, language study
11:45- gym time
12:45- lunch
1:30-5:30 language study
5:45 dinner
6-9:30 language study
9:30-10:30 personal study
BEDTIME

super exciting right?! yes.  my brain is fried at the end of the day.

ESPAÑOL:  my teacher is Hermana Cabello, and she is from Peru and served a mission in New Mexico.  She is a very sweet lady but a tough cookie.  I'm in the intermediate spanish class- shout out to Profe Acosta and Senora Schmitz- and from the very first day she has spoken to us in STRAIGHT spanish.  We are expected to speak in Spanglish all day long here haha it is CRAZY how much I am learning.  My mind just overflows with info everyday.  IT's safe to say that this first week was so difficult- having to speak and listen to spanish all day long can be frustrating and stressful- but at the same time, never before have I felt this happiness and sense of purpose.  I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.  My second day here I had to give my first 30 minute lesson in spanish to a fake investigator- yes it was frightening.  It went ok though!  I can understand pretty much all the spanish that is spoken to me, but getting the words out is a lot harder.  I've taught 4 30 minute lessons this week on the topics of prayer, God's love for us, Christ's atonement, Restoration of this church, and the importance of baptism.  It's hard enough to do that in english!

FOOD:  the food here is a step DOWN from the cannon center at BYU--meaning it is straight up nasty haha so any snacks and treats are GREATLY appreciated (cough cough...mom please send me some mamariches cookies)  and they don't have caffeinated drinks here, so it is painful having to separate from my one true love:  diet coke.

MTC STATS:  On main campus, 45 percent are sister missionaries and over here at west campus 55 percent are sisters.  It's amazing how much the dynamics have changed since the age dropped for girls!  #girlpower  It really is surreal being surrounded my so many missionaries all learning different languages.  The FBI has come to the MTC numerous times in the past wanting to know HOW we learn these languages so fast.  Wanna know the way we do it?  It's because Heavenly Father is seriously blessing us with so many blessings haha it may sound corny but it is true!!  It's amazing being surrounded by so many 19-21 year olds all here for one specific purpose:  to learn how to bring people unto Christ and to restore faith in their lives.  There's no test grades to keep us motivated- it's all because of our faith in this gospel and how we know it to be true.

TODAY:  On P day, we have a service assignment from 6:15 am- 7:30 am.....cleaning bathrooms.  WOOHOOOOO.  Then we get to go to the temple around 9 am.  We got to take a walk out in the "real world" and go get some real food like jamba juice, burgers, and sandwiches.  A high light of my day today was having a nice, cold, refreshing diet coke.  Words cannot express how badly I needed that haha!!!  The new missionaries also came in today so we are no longer the "newbies"- yay!!
Praise the heavens for getting diet coke on Pdays
#selfysunday

CHURCHY/ SPIRITUAL STUFF:  The spirit on this campus is unreal.  You are just filled with so much happiness!  Every week we have sunday night and tuesday night devotionals with well-known speakers.  Sunday night we had Sheri Dew (a well-known LDS woman) and she was amazing!!  Some of her memorable quotes include:  "YOU choose:  You can serve your mission on your own OR with the help from God"  "The savior rarely moves the mountains in front of you, but he helps you climb them"  "Learning the voice of the spirit is like learning a new language"  "You need to KNOW Jesus Christ- you can't serve him if you don't know him"  "Discipleship= loving God more than anything else, having a change of heart, and knowing that exact obedience brings miracles"

An apostle (Elder Ballard) came and spoke to all of us missionaries on sunday night.  I had the chance to sing in the missionary choir, and it was such a powerful experience!  The whole room could feel the tangible spirit that was there, and I was just filled with peace.  Some memorable quotes from him include "Today's headlines will be history's footnotes, but the gospel of jesus christ will always be good news"  "the church and the fullness of this gospel are reaching more parts of the world today, being taught in more languages today, and we are sending out more missionaries today then ever before"  "when the apostles speak in unison, it is the voice of the Lord" "this is not a church run by man, it is a church run by Christ"  "Be not ashamed of what you stand for"  "I bless you individually with peace in your hearts"  "We pray for you always"
Tuesday Devotional

Having this devotional last night brought me SO much peace and comfort.  I'm not gunna lie and say that everything is so great and easy going.  Sometimes I just wanna curl up in a ball and cry and drink my diet coke.  This week has been so hard, but hearing and feeling those words from Elder Bednar instilled so much motivation and confidence and peace in me.  I know I can do this, and I feel so blessed to be a missionary!

It's actually quite crazy how I havn't really missed social media or "worldly stuff" that much!! I'm serious!! I'm so busy here that I have not felt like I am having withdrawals.  Recieving all your emails and letters this week put the BIGGEST smile on my face.  On last shout out to mamariches--the Branch president pulled me aside after our big branch meeting and told me:  "You just have a light about you that lights up a whole room"--and my answer to that was..."I got it from my mom ;) )

My mini testimony in spanish:

Yo sé que Jesucristo es my salvador y redentor.  Yo sé que Dios nos ama y que nosotros somos sus hijos.  Yo sé que Dios escucha todas oraciones, y cuando seguimos los mandamientos, nosotros recibimos muchas bendiciones. Yo sé que la expiación de jesucristo tiene el poder a cambiar vidas.

I gotta teach a lesson in spanish, so wish me luck!  Thank you SO SO  SO SO SO much for keeping me in your prayers and thoughts!  I definitely need it!

Only 5 more weeks left here in the "EMPTY SEA" haha ;)

con amor,
hermana riches 
:)

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June 08, 2014

Farewell Talk~ Why am I Going on a Mission?


Good morning everyone,
         I first want to start off by thanking all of my amazing family members and friends for supporting me and being here today.  It means so much.  And for having my roommate Chloe sing with me, and my high school music director play for us.  For those of you who don’t know me, I have been in this same ward my entire life, and I just completed my freshman year at BYU.  I have been called to serve in the México Monterrey East Mission, and I can’t believe that today is finally here.  I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to speak to all of you and the opportunity that I am going to have these next 18 months in México.   I feel so unbelievably humbled and grateful for this chance that I have to serve a mission.  In all honesty, if you were to ask me a year ago if I was planning on serving a mission, my answer would have been no.  Yes, I’ve always believed in the teachings of this church, but the idea of a mission quite honestly scared and intimidated me.  It seemed like such a distant idea, and up until my senior year of high school, girls went on their missions at age 21.  When the age was lowered to 19 in October 2012, I was 18 at the time and I remember the announcement caught my attention.  This announcement was talking to my specific age group.  But even after this mission age change, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
         I love this quote by Dr. Seuss. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” This past year at BYU, I was put in a position where I was away from home and where I had to discover for myself who I was and who I wanted to be.  I knew that I was at a point in my life where I was going to have to make crucial decisions that would affect my future.  At BYU you are required to take religion credits each semester, and I took Book of Mormon as one of my classes both semesters. When I started this class, thoughts of a mission crawled into my mind.  My professor for this course began the semester by reading us the verse 2 Nephi 32:3 which says: feast upon the words of Christ, for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things which ye should do”.  This was powerful for me to hear because I often forgot to turn to the scriptures for answers when facing difficult decisions. 
         This class turned out to be one of my favorite classes I took this year.  Never before had I the opportunity to learn so much about the doctrine and the Book of Mormon, and my eyes were opened to so many new truths and so many spiritual experiences.  I’ve been familiar with the Book of Mormon stories my whole life, but this was the first time in my life where I was thoroughly reading each page and gaining knowledge for myself that what I was reading was true.  I really did experience my own individual conversion.  For my talk today, I’ve been asked to focus in on the importance of the scriptures in my life, and this past year I truly recognized the significance of the Book of Mormon in my life and how it generates personal peace and happiness.   
         As a freshman at BYU, you are constantly asked the same question:  “Are you going to serve a mission?”  I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, but what I did know was that I needed to make this decision all on my own and not because of the social pressure to go.  I knew that through this decision making process, I needed to rely on one specific thing, and that was my personal scripture study.
         A key central idea of our religion is explained in this scripture: 3 Nephi 27:29 reads:  Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”  We believe in a God who knows and loves us personally, listening to what it is that we need, and answering our prayers.  I know this to be true, for I have seen the hand of my Heavenly Father aid me through trials and confusing times in my life.  My answer to a mission came as I dedicated myself to asking Heavenly Father if a mission was right for me- if this is what I should be doing for a year and a half.  I remember one night, after many weeks of reading my scriptures with this one specific question in mind, I decided to just open to a random verse and start reading from there.  I opened my Book of Mormon, and went right to Alma 29: 9, which reads:  I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.”   After reading this, I knew I received my answer.  I was called to this work, and I knew that I needed to be an instrument in the Hand of the Lord to bring people unto Christ.   I knew I had the desire to serve a mission, but my desire wasn’t because I wanted “praise” or “glory”, but because I knew a mission would bring me 18 months of joy completely devoted to serving others and sharing this same happiness and knowledge that I have.  I know that turning to that scripture verse might seem coincidental, but I really do believe that God answers our questions in mysterious and obvious ways if we are sincere and ask with a full purpose of heart. 
         One of the most valuable things I learned this past freshman year is the importance of loving who you are and being yourself.  In high school, you go through a confusing period of your life where you don’t know exactly who you are and you’re afraid to be different from your peers.  As a college student, you begin to establish your identity and your concerns for what people think of you start to dwindle.  Like Dr. Seuss says:  Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”.  At BYU, I fully embraced who I was and the choices I made, and I glowed with confidence and bliss like I never had before.  I understood why I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It finally hit me that this church really did bring me immense happiness and that I wanted others to feel and obtain this same happiness that I have had all my life.  It can be intimidating when people question your beliefs, but I’m now at a point in my life where I am more than thrilled to spend 18 months solely talking to people about why I live the way that I do.
         The reason I am even alive and up here today is because of missionary work.  As most of you know, my mom and dad are high school sweet hearts.  My dad was a member of this church and my mom was not.  Their relationship invited my dad to teach my mom about this church, and my mom had the opportunity to decide for herself if she wanted to join this faith.  She needed to know in her heart if this church was true, and when my dad went away on his mission, she was baptized at the age of 19.  My dad’s role as a missionary to my mom changed both of their lives and their posterity.  As I am now at the age my mom was when she was baptized, there is no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what I need to be doing these next 18 months.  I owe so much to my Heavenly Father for providing me with this gift in my life, and now it is my responsibility to extend love and hope to others. 
         From the scriptures, we know that the objective of missionary work is not to simply baptize and convert.  It is to invite others to come unto Christ.  The qualities I want to have as a missionary can be described in these verses:  Alma 7: 23-24 reads  And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.  And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.”  I love those last three words- faith, hope, and charity.  As President Uchtdorf says- “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith”.  I have great faith in my Heavenly Father and I know that if I continue to rely on him, I will remain safe and directed all my life.  I have faith that the Spanish Language will come to me, and that I will be blessed every step of the way through out my mission.  I have a hope that I will touch the lives of those I come in contact with as they will also touch mine, and I hope that I leave a positive impression on them.  I don’t hope to baptize everyone I meet.  That is not the reason why I’m going on a mission.  I have hope that I can brighten someone’s day, I have hope that I can have the people of Mexico recognize that there is a Heavenly Father who loves them personally and who wants to comfort them and tend to their needs.  I have a hope that my investigators will know they are children of God and that they can return to live with God again someday.  I have a hope that the people I teach will come to know that they have a savior, Jesus Christ, who died and suffered for them and who understands the trials each of us go through.  I have a hope that the people I teach will know that all of their wrongs can be forgiven, and that God does not judge them but is waiting for them with open arms.  I have hope that my investigators will see the faith that I have, and that they can see in my eyes that I know for myself that what I am saying is true.  I know that I need charity and kindness in my heart for all those I come in contact with and that I need to uphold Christ-like attributes.  Although I will be teaching others about my own beliefs, I know I will be taught so many valuable lessons from the individuals I interact with as I listen to their life stories and experiences.  As a missionary, I am simply an instrument in Heavenly Father’s hand, as he directs me to those who need to hear the message of happiness that I have to share.  I am not a saleswoman trying to convince someone to buy a product.  I am just a teenage girl who feels so passionate about this gospel and the things I believe to be true.  My intent is to positively effect those around me and to have them develop a stronger faith in themselves and in a God who loves them.
            The keystone of our religion is the Book of Mormon, and I hope that the people I teach will find direction in their life as they grow to study this book along with the Bible.  Richard G Scott tells us that Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior.  Scriptures can communicate different meanings at different times in our life, according to our needs. A scripture that we may have read many times can take on nuances of meaning that are refreshing and insightful when we face a new challenge in life.”
         My outlook on life and what is important to me really changed this year, and I have developed a deeper understanding of how strong Heavenly Father’s love is for me.  I owe all of my ability and strength that I have to my Heavenly Father, and I know that without Him constantly being there for me I wouldn’t have the strength to take this leap of faith and dedicate myself to doing such hard work for 18 months.  The scripture Alma 26:12 reads:  “Yeah, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yeah behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for we will praise his name forever.”  I fully believe in this, and I know that I’m not going to be alone on my mission.  Yes, I’m nervous to put myself out there.  Yes, I’m nervous about having to learn Spanish.  And at times I feel inadequate to hold this title as a missionary.  But I know that He is going to tell me what to say to my investigators and that I will be led every step of the way.   
         We spend our lives sharing with people our interests, sharing what we learn in school, and sharing advice to those who come to us.  I am so excited to spend 18 months simply sharing and telling people about this church that I know brings me the most happiness in my life.  I know that a mission is going to be the hardest time of my life.  I know that I am going to be the most frustrated and the most tired I have ever been in my life.  But I know that this time away from worldly distractions will be the best and most rewarding time of my life.  I don’t know all the answers, I’m not a master scriptorian, and I don’t speak Spanish, but what I do have is faith.   One of my favorite scriptures, Philippians 4:13 says: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”.  I know that if we all rely on Christ through strenuous times, our burdens will be made lighter and we will feel the love he has for each of us individually.  This is what I’m going to share with the people of México- that everything is possible through Christ. 
         Since I’ve received my call 6 months ago, I have thought about and prayed on a daily basis for the people of Monterrey, Mexico that I am going to meet, and I already love them so much.  I really do feel a connection with them already, and I know that their influence on me is going to make me a better person.  I want to end by testifying that I know prayer is real and that Heavenly Father hears and answers every single one of our prayers.  I know that through the atonement of Christ, we can be forgiven of all of our imperfections.  I know that the bible and the Book of Mormon are tools that can guide and direct one’s life to complete contentment.  I know that individuals who dedicate their time to asking Heavenly Father if the scriptures are real inspired works, they will receive an answer and know that they are legitimate.  I know that Joseph Smith, an illiterate boy of just 14 years old, translated the Book of Mormon through the Power of God, for no common, ordinary man could have fabricated those things.  I know that my call to serve in Monterrey México is an inspired call from God, and I know that there are people there waiting for me to answer their questions about life and their purpose here on earth.  I feel so honored to be a part of the 85,000 missionaries currently serving all over the world.  One last Dr. Seuss quote that I’ll end with goes like this: Today is your day, your mountain is waiting. So get on your way.” It’s time for me to get on my way and to start this journey of changing lives, and I know that among those many lives will be my very own.  And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen. 
l o v e
hermana riches   

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