August 26, 2014

Why I Am Serving a Mission (Week 11)

I had the amazing opportunity yesterday to watch one of my investigators enter the waters of Baptism.  What a wonderful day!  Well, I will first talk about saturday.  Saturday night, we talked to Patricio about Faith, Repentance, and the importance of keeping commandments.  As we were talking about Faith and Repentance, tears just started streaming down his face-- and at first I was thinking.....oh no, he still has some mistakes he has to clear up before he can get baptized....but soon after he had the biggest smile on his face.  Patricio has had some difficulties in the past, and witnessing the pure joy on his face when talking about repentance and the power of the atonement was such a wonderful thing to see.  I can't put into words how powerful it was to see the joy on his face!  At the end of our lesson, he said in his prayer "Padre, gracias por esta oportunidad a cambiar y empezar una vida nueva".....Heavenly Father, thank you for this opportunity to change and start a new life.  After his prayer we all just sat there for about 10 minutes in silence, and he was just balling and had the biggest smile on his face with his hands at his mouth--almost in shock because he was so happy with his decision to be baptized.

Yesterday's baptismal service was perfect.  Little backgound info:  Patricio's fam started looking into the church 5 years ago-- his mom and younger brother got baptized a year ago and his younger sister is still not baptized.  Patricio's mom is so animated and full of wonderful energy, and words don't describe how happy she was yesterday to watch her 18 year old son get baptized.  Hermana Batalla, me, and the 2 elders in our ward also sang the duet of Un Oración de Un Niño (A child's prayer) and it was so so beautiful!  Patricio, his siblings, and mom and everyone at the baptism was tearey eyed.  Patricio had the chance to say a few words after his baptism, and He began to talk about this 5 year journey he has had investigating the church, and how profound his answer was when he knew for himself that this church was true.  He explained that when he was in the water in the baptismal font, he was overcome with feelings of joy, and when he was fully immersed in the water he opened his eyes and saw the most profound light he had ever seen, and he kinda laughed and said that he was smiling under the water and felt a bit awkward hahaha.  When he came out of the water he was crying and smiling and hugging Raul who baptized him.

Patricio with Raul and His wife, a couple in our ward
I have so many more things to say about this wonderful event with Patricio, but the most important aspect I wanna focus on is how real and powerful the Atonement of Jesus Christ is.  This was the first time where I witnessed first hand how much joy repentance can bring someone.  Like....I can't explain how true and real the atonement is haha!!  Christ suffered for all of our pains, sins, and burdens in our life,and when we have a humble heart and go through that process of asking for is life changing. When we are baptized we are fully cleansed and are able to return to live with our Heavenly Father again.  We are currently teaching his younger sister Dana (14 years old) and we are eagerly waiting for her to get baptized so that their whole family can go and be sealed in the temple for all eternity.  Baptism isn't the end point- it is the beginning of a new life, and the most important thing for our investigators to understand is that it is acontinuous uphill journey.  But an uphill journey full of blessings and love from our Heavenly Father if we keep his commandments. So yes, having the opportunity to be here at this point in Patricio's life was an honor, and It brings me so much joy to picture other investigators I will get to see enter the waters of baptism.  This week it really hit me how powerful my calling is as a missionary, and how life changing this message is to people.  I am serving a mission because I know without a doubt that through Faith in Jesus Christ we have strength to do all things, and that through his atonement we can be made clean.
 us missionaries here in Sada Vidrio :)
"And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins...I cried within my heart:  O Jesus, the son of God, have mercy on me...And now behold when I thought this, I could remember my pains now more...Yea my soul was filled with joy as exceeding was my pain!" Alma 36:17-21

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the words of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus sayeth the father:  Ye shall have eternal life" 2 Nephi 31:20

Other weekly highlights:  MOM I GOT YOUR PACKAGE!! :) and sara wilson I got your letter!!  Mail takes about 3 weeks to get to me....and Monterrey is pretty reliable with mail so yay!  Just remember to put Jesus Stickers on the seams of the package so people don't cut into them... hahaha.  Tuesday I switched companions for the day and went to a different area which was fun!  I'll have an intercambio every 6 was really fun teaching different investigators with a new companion for the day.  This week I also had a pretty painful ear ache, but I got meds so i'm all good now haha :)  and I've been rockin' some pretty sweet spiderman bandaids and my blisters are healed!

Hm...what else...we are teaching a few new families which is exciting so hopefully they progress.  My spanish is coming along!  I can understand about 70% of what is being said to me, and it gets easier each day to say what I want to say.  The people here ask did you learn to speak spanish?  and my response is....well, I have no choice but to solely listen and speak spanish all day long so with that and my many many prayers I am being blessed to learn it haha!!  God really does listen to our prayers. It's so clear to feel the difference in my comfort level right now compared to the first few weeks here in Mexico.  Yes it's still hard, but not nearly as stressful.

Some pics from this week:

Sweet Sol and her dog who is probably dying in the heat... hahaha

an investigator gave us a bunch of clothes.... hahaha

Love and miss you all!! and i'd just like to end by saying......Becca are you seriously in high school and Jordan how are you a Senior???!!!!  How are you both so old.....

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


August 18, 2014

Week 10: Life is Good

This week was great as I am beginning to feel much more comfortable with the language, people, and how the system of everything works.  I felt a distinct change this week and I really do feel great being here.  One month down here in Mexico!  I've learned to expect that everyday I am going to be overly exhausted, my feet are going to hurt, and that It will be 18 months of minimal makeup and hair up in a bun hahaha.  I still miss home a lot, but it's really neat interacting with all different people and their lifestories every day....and doing it all in spanish is even cooler ;)

About every 12 weeks we have a zone conference, and so this week on tuesday and wednesday we had big conferences with the 20 missionaries in my zone and our mission president.  There are 10 zones in our mission.  We go over mission goals, learn teaching skills, and it's a great time to really reflect on this amazing opportunity we have as missionaries.  I really enjoyed this conference because it gave me a chance to just sit for 7 hours and feel united with my zone.  It's nice being reminded that there are lots of other missionaries here doing the same things as me every day.

Every week we have an activity as a zone
GOAL SETTING:  we talked a lot about the importance of "metas"- the life of a missionary is centered around goals.  Every night we plan for the next day the number of lessons with a member present, lessons without a member present, lessons with less actives in the church, number of new investigators, how many street contacts, etc.  and on top of that we have weekly goals with other components- it's so important that we have attainable goals so that we can further progress and have motivation.  On top of planning goals we also have a big binder of every investigator, lessons taught, street addresses....everything we do as missionaries is recorded and reported back to different mission leaders- seriously everyone needs to serve a mission just to learn how to plan haha!  It's crazy how much planning we do!!

"I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential.  When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in life" - Elder Ballard

us with the two elders in our zone walking to a member's home for lunch
LEARNING ENGLISH:  Another interesting topic during the conference was the focus of non american missionaries learning english.  Just like we have to learn spanish it's cool because they have to learn english as well.  Everyone has an hour each day for language study, and they have to bear their testimonies and pray in english at various conferences- so it's been fun teaching my companion!

We had a great experience this week.  So every companionship has a big black binder of all current/old investigators, and so we decided to go out and contact some old investigators.  We went to go visit David (he met with the missionaries a few years ago but wasn't too interested) and we got to spend some time talking to his family as well- mom, aunt, 16 yr old brother, and 11 yr old sister.  The Augilar Familia is wonderful! We have had a few lessons with them, and they all have lots of questions and are interested.  And they make comments about the memories they have with the missionaries a few years yes finding this fam was great!  It shows how effective it is to really keep track of all the people you come in contact with so it can be of use to future missionaries as well!

Some exciting news....this week I get to plan for my first baptism!! Patricio's baptismal date is set for this sunday, so hopefully everything goes as planned!

the weather is still hot, i've got giant blisters on my feet, and I think I may O.D. on tortillas haha but life is good!  Being a missionary is stressful and you feel lots of pressure at times, but I sincerely love being able to learn more and more everyday from the scriptures and having this time to strengthen my faith.  The daily life of Lindsay Riches includes walking all day erry day finding different people to talk to haha but it's really cool seeing the people that are placed in your path for reasons that you don't know until later.

Smile...Jesus loves you haha!
Something I've had to keep reminding myself of is people's agency.  You can't make people act a certain way.  Everyone has the ability to make choices, and although it is difficult sometimes, you have to accept the fact that you can only do so much.  You shouldn't stress about it because it isn't in your control.  I tend to over stress about little things haha but really you can only be concerned about what is in your control and just let all other stresses go.

"use boldness but not over bearance, and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that you refrain from idleness" Alma 38: 12


c o n  a m o r
hermana riches


August 12, 2014

Sleep Talkin' (Week 9)

the elders in my ward!  they are hilarious.  They are the zone leaders, so they are really great teachers!  haha we have fun eating at the members' houses every day.

View from our apartment!

So as many of my friends know.....especially Chloe Bray haha....I tend to talk in my sleep.  Every morning my companion has an update on my nightly rants.  Well, thursday night I slept talked in ESPAÑOL!!!  yes it was very exciting haha this means the language is sinking in somewhat!

so my mom had a few questions that i wanted to answer:  yes i do have a small kitchen and fridge (for coco cola light :) ) and a mini griddle.  For breakfast i'll make eggs or have cereal/ yogurt.  We have a NASTY outdoor sink haha.  yes I do have a bed- but I am going to need some serious back massages when i come home haha!  I don't sleep with sheets because it is so dang hot.  yes i do feel safe :)  My mission president is from LA and he said he'd rather have his kids live in Monterrey than LA.  We go to the temple about every 6 weeks, so if i don't write home on monday expect an email on thursday!  For computer use, i'm sitting here in a mall where you pay by the hour.  They have multiple public places like these across town.  Package items- healthy snacks please haha! and american's hard to find here! AND DON'T FORGET to cover the package with Jesus stickers hahaha or the peeople here will cut into the packages!  I'm serious!

my church building is right around the corner from where we live!  and it has air conditioning :)

Lucia:  lucia is an older woman we are teaching, and she is so sweet.  She treats us like granddaughters.  Hermana Batalla and her old companion contacted her on the street, and she loves it when we come by.  When we teach people, we first start with how God is our heavenly father who loves us and knows us personally, then we move on to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the coming forth of El Libro de Mormón.  This is all part of the first lesson that we split up into 3 visits....anyways this woman knows it is all true!  She always has some tears in her eyes when she talks with us, and when we gave her un libro de mormón she had the biggest smile on her face. It's cool when the people know for themselves that what we are teaching is true.  After each lesson, we always finish by saying how important it is that they pray about the things we have said.  ïf ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost" (Moroni 10:3-5).  so yeah Lucia is great!  she just needs to go to church!  Every person we teach i just want them so badly to accept what we are saying because I know how much happiness it would bring to their lives.

Everyday here is an adventure haha
Patricio:  Patricio's mom and younger brother got baptized 3 years ago, but now Him and his younger sister are interested!  Patricio is 18 years old, and this week we taught him El Plan de Salvación- or in other words the plan of happiness.  This plan answers the questions we have about where we come from, what our purpose is on earth, and what happens when we die.  I love teaching this because it gives the investigators so much hope and happiness knowing that death isn't the end!  This lesson with Patricio was soooo great.  The spirit was so strong and he had the biggest smile on his face the whole time. We had a member couple who are about 25 years old teach with us, and they gave really great insights on the atonement of Jesus Christ.  It was really powerful.  Ever since we've been teaching Patricio, there has been a distinct change in his countenance.  He is much more smiley and is excited to get baptized :)  It's cool because the whole ward has been waiting for Patricio to have this change of heart and want to be baptized, and here I am being the missionary involved with this!  

Patricio's family- patricio is to the right of me
Miracles happen!:  We had a really neat experience this week.  We were having a hard time finding new people to talk to, and no one was in any of their homes, so we decided to say a prayer to find someone new to teach.  As we were walking, we came upon a woman and her daughter.  After introducing ourselves, she said she had been baptized 25 years ago but no longer goes to church.  She said we could stop by later, so we went to visit her around 6 pmthat day.  Leaonor began to tell us a bit about her past.  she and her 4 year old daughter had been living in San Antonio Texas but had to come to Monterrey to salvage the family home (her father passed away).  They have been here for a month, and they will go back to Texas next month.  However, she is not an american citizen so she has to cross the border illegally.  To do this, her and her daughter have to swim across "Rio Bravo"--apparently lots of people do this so they don't get caught.  It is very scary and dangerous and she has been praying for some comfort to be sent to her, and so when she met us she was very happy.  She and her daughter are so kind, and they want to go to church next week!  It's so sad to think about their situation.....and all we can do is really pray for their safety.  I know Heavenly Father places people in our paths in life and it's up to us to follow through with those promptings and initiate conversations-- you never know how much of an impact you can have on them.

At a member's home

this week was full of sunny days and rainy days-- in regards to the weather as well as the life of Hermana Riches haha :)  A very hot sunny day would have a random 20 minute downpour and then clear up again.....  With good days, sometimes I experience an internal rainstorm hahaha the language is still really hard!  When I want to share a story or example during a lesson it's really hard to tell it with fluidity and it's frustrating.  But i know it will come with time.  I shouldn't compare myself to my companion because she's been out for almost a year AND she's a native of mexico!  haha i know i've only been here for 3 weeks, and i need to learn to not be a perfectionist and have patience :)

some scriptures that my companion gave me this week to comfort me are the following:

"Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for you are laying the foundation of a great work.  and out of small things proceedeth that which is great" D and C 64:33

"Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate, but be diligent unto the end" D and C 10:4 

hahah us in the park with some kids wanting to take pics of us on the swings
We can't perfect things all in one day- little by little we see improvement! thank you for all your thoughts, prayers, emails, and letters!  If you sent me a letter or a DEARELDER letter expect a letter from me in the mail!  I miss home a lot, but it's a great feeling being in tune with lots of miracles every day.  

a great end to our week was coming home to a flooded apartment due to a leak and ALL of our stuff getting soaked.... WOOHOO LUV MISSION LIFE hahah.

love it when our floor is covered 2 inches deep in water!
Mexican markets

c o n  a m o r
hermana riches


August 04, 2014

The Sudden Death of My Pet Cockroach (Week 8)

Once upon a time Hermana Riches and Hermana Batalla were coming home from a long, tiresome day.  All Hermana Riches wanted to do was take a nice, cold shower.  As she went to grab her towel, a new ¨Little¨ friend scurried out from under my clothes.  I was just soo excited that I SCREAMED! hahaha.  unfortunately my pet suffered a sudden death beneath my shoe...Lindsay Riches is roughin´ it everybody!
Mexican otter pops.... mmmm haha

Well because my last post was only 4 days ago, not a whole lot has changed...I´m still doing great, but at the same time I don´t want to ¨sugar coat¨ my updates.  The language is so hard!!  The people here are giving me lots of support and telling that I´m learning it really fast and doing well, but I just feel so helpless haha! I have learned a whole lot about patience.  My companion is such a patient person!  Hermana Batalla is one of the most hardworking, kind, people I know!  She´s always thinking of others before herself, and she really shows genuine concern for everyone she talks to.  Haha we are always laughing about something- whether we´re being verbally attacked by Little chiwawas, jamming to some rap music being played in the Street, getting honked and hollered at by creepy men, or when she´s introducing me to all the mexican slang phrases hahaha I´m a true native now :)  She has been such a great ¨mom¨ here in the mish!
throwin up an E for MONTERREY EAST hahaha

Church here is very similar to home but at the same time very different.  Only about 70 people in attendance in my Ward, and it just has a more relaxed feel.  It's in a nice building, but it makes me really appreciate the structure of the wards back home and the resources we have!  First sunday of the month, for those of you who aren´t Mormon haha, everyone has the opportunity to go up and express what they are grateful for, and the things they know to be true (testimony).  Yesterday about 4 teenagers in my Ward got up and it was really great to see the strength that they have-- honestly these kids are some of the strongest, most active members in this Ward.  All of them expressed their excitement for their future opportunities to serve missions, and it's just so cool to be able to take them out teaching with us! For you all back home-- the missionaries LOVE it when members go and teach with them!  All you members back home should teach lessons with the missionaries :) I wish I had done that before I left.  Anyways, The Ward needs more numbers and committed people who continue to go to church.  Nonetheless, the members are really so great and take the missionaries in as their own children!
What I´ve realized here though is the importance of ¨planting seeds¨ and always remembering that your efforts are important!  We are teaching one 17 year old boy who´s whole family got baptized 3 years ago except for him, and now he finally has a desire to be baptized.  We are just lucky to be the missionaries who are here teaching him at the right time!  3 years ago, missionaries planted the seed into Patricio's heart, and now we are the missionaries who are preparing him for baptism.  Many of our investigators who aren´t interested now I know will have a desire later on in the future!
mastering my accent ;)
Bit of advice for today:  Whenever you make a decisión, make a pros and cons list of that decisión and continue to refer to the reasons why you made that decisión.  When days are long and the work is hard, it really helps me to look back at the list I made of why I´m on a misión.  it really helps me and reminds me that I really love what i´m doing and that I´m supposed to be here!  When you are faced with a challenge in life-- stay persistent.  WE CAN DO HARD THINGS :)
Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers!  You can also write me letters through DEARELDER.COM :)  or my contact info is on my blog for handwritten letters! I wanna be updated on all of your lives back home! This week we have lots of great lessons planned with great people-- so I will have lots of teaching stories for next week!

c o n  a m o r
hermana riches