July 18, 2014

¡ Hasta Luego PROVO ! [last week in the MTC] (Week 5)

Guadalajara & Monterrey here we come!!
Well everyone- it is safe to say that I am SOOO excited to finally head out to Mexico on Monday!!!!  5 short days and I will be saying goodbye to Provo until I go back to BYU in January 2016!  Thank you to all of you who sent me mail/ packages this week:  (Mattinglys- thank you for the cupcakes!!!, Mom, Grammy B, Lincoln Wilcox, John, Becca, Katie Barrus, Kyle, Kelli Grannum (and Makenzie and Chloe :))  grammy/grandpa, and Chloe Bray!)  I am going to miss this easy USA mail system haha!

I can't believe I am finishing up my 6 weeks of missionary training.  I feel like I've been here forever, but at the same time it has gone by so so fast!  I am so grateful for all of the 4,000 + volunteers they have here at the MTC, the inspired speakers that I've had the honor to listen to, the incredible teachers here, and my 2 companions and district members I've come to form special bonds with.  When you are tightly glued to the same 9 people 14 hours a day (24/7 with my companions haha) it's safe to say you experience all of your super high and super low moments together.  We are all so different but collectively we all contribute to each other's strengths and make up for each other's weaknesses.  Having to teach/plan in a trio is not an easy thing!!  But I know that the positive energy and optimism from Hermana Wood and Hermana Grenfell really made my MTC experience so wonderful, and I know that Heavenly Father had me be in a trio so I could work on and improve my own weaknesses and to learn from their strengths.  Haha us 3 girls definitely brought energy and spunk to the classroom- our district makes fun of us because we are always singing some song from a musical (typically Les Mis or Hairspray) or some other "babalonion/worldly" pop song hahaha- but hey, they need our energetic personalities to get through those long class hours!
the girls in my district with one of our wonderful teachers Hermana Rasmussen
My mind is just overflowing with so many things to say right now!  When you're at the end of your MTC experience, you're like one of those water bottle rockets that is just waiting to explode due to the high pressure inside, and you just wanna TAKE OFF and blast into the air haha!  I am so spiritually charged and just ready to meet those wonderful people of Monterrey!  I think about them 24/7, and I am so excited to experience the power of Jesus Christ change their lives.  Here are some final thoughts:

Be Genuine & Responsive- Not a Cold Instruction Manual:  They emphasize so much here that MEMORIZATION is not the goal.  We aren't going around sharing with people a memorized lesson out of "Preach my Gospel" (A guide to missionary service)- we are to "teach with discernment and discern the uniqueness of the person's needs"- Holland.  It's like 2 teams playing in the SuperBowl- if the opposing team makes a play that doesn't line up with your game plan, you've got to react and change your strategy.  If we plan a memorized lesson word for word, we won't be ale to really respond/aid any needs of the investigator, and we will simply be "vomiting facts and info that has no importance to them" (according to my teachers hahaha).  We need to relate every doctrinal aspect to their own lives.  And having to do it in another language is so hard!  haha me and my compañeras have learned from our mistakes- we will prep for a lesson, finalize what we are teaching, study vocab for that topic and mentally prep in our minds the spanish we are going to use.  We will go to meet with our investigator, and they'll ask us a question that is totally unrelated to the topic we prepared for and we just gotta switch gears!  It's hard but our number 1 priority is the needs of our investigator.
so weird being back at the BYU basketball stadium for devotionals!  Gunna miss these wonderful elders!
think the most important quality- actually, I KNOW the most important quality- I'm going to need is to always have charity.  My job is to have my investigators "feel a divine sense of love" from God and their savior Jesus Christ.  An investigator can tell if a missionary is just trying to get a goal number of baptisms---and that's not our purpose.  Charity is a gift that must be asked for and prayed for and it "always requires sacrifice".  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13:1 "though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am becoming as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal"- if we aren't teaching with charity, our message will be as "jarring as a brass instrument and will give them a headache"--according to the speaker we had last night hahaha.  But it's true- it is so important that I love every single person who not only accepts this gospel but also those who slam their doors in my face or refuse to listen, because "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" D&C 18:10.
BYU homie Sister Elizabeth Kelly going to serve in Washington DC!  I'm really going to miss seeing my BYU friends all the time here.
Lastly, I just wanna say that my goal as a missionary is not to convince people that this church is true.  I want to "cultivate in their hearts a Living, Vital, Vibrant testimony and knowledge of the Son of God" and to bring a "life changing power that penetrates the heart"- Hinckley.  Last night, a speaker here told us a story of a man he taught on his Mission in Brazil.  This speaker talked about this investigator and how it was the first baptism he had on his mission.  He went on to say that he "proved to this investigator that the church as true" and "convinced him to get baptized".  This man got baptized, then stopped going to church after a week.  This young missionary went back to the man's house and asked--"Why weren't you at church?"  The man replied--"Well, I know this is the true church, you convinced me, and I got baptized.  So why do I have to still go to church?"--This speaker said this was one of the biggest regrets he has from his mission.

The most important part of getting baptized in the name of Jesus Christ is "Perserverar Hasta el Fin" (enduring to the end).  I need to instill a strong faith in Jesus Christ into the hearts of my investigators so that they are converted unto the Lord and not just converted to me or the church.  Christ is the central focus in our missionary work, and it's only through Him that we can obtain grace and mercy in this life.  Baptism is only the gateway to obtaining all the blessings Heavenly Father has in store for us--It's not the end mark.

I know these next 17 months are going to be filled with joyful times, sad times, hard times, and miraculous times.  But nonetheless, I've got Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by my side every step of the way.  "God does not expect immediate PERFECTION, but he does expect immediate PROGRESSION".  I am so excited for all the ways I am going to learn and grow through out this adventure!  I love being a missionary and am so grateful for this opportunity.

One of my favorite hymns:  "Be Still My Soul" goes like this:

verse 1:

Be still my Soul:  the Lord is on thy side
With patience bear they cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
in every change, he faithful will remain.
be still my soul:  they best, they Heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

I'm so excited to incorporate my passion for music into the messages I leave with people-- for music has a way of testifying the truth when words lack the ability.

My "prep" days in the mission field will be on MONDAYS.  I fly to Mexico this Monday the 21st and then I'll be able to write home the 28th!  I look forward to sharing with you all my stories about all the wonderful people I meet, and the exciting adventures I have in store.

¡¡Gracias por su amor y apoyo!! Te extraño todos mucho.  ¡Hasta el 28th de Julio! 

R. I. P. English <3 -- GOODBYE AMERICA

c o n  a m o r
Hermana Riches

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