September 24, 2014

¡Viva México! (Week 15)

Buenas tardes!  First off i wanna make some big shout outs to Grammy and Grandpa, Emily Crowder, and Katie Barrus for your letters!!! I feel so loved.  and all of your emails! and MOM I GOT YOUR 2nd PACKAGE :)  It is so great recieving bits of home!

This past Monday was Independence day here in Mexico-- meaning every home puts out their Mexico flag and red and green decorations-- I even saw some dogs painted green and red haha so sad!  and of course we had to celebrate with mastaches......

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Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to have my 2nd baptism!!  Dana, 14 years old, got baptized yesterday.....and drum roll please......Her brother Patricio (my first convert) BAPTIZED HER!!!! It was so awesome.  Patricio got baptized 3 weeks ago and there he was baptizing his younger sister!!!  Right when she came up out of the water she was smiling and was so sweet to see.  This family is so close and united and it was so sweet to see them all embrace at the end of this baptism.....all 4 of them have now been baptized and can now go to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity.  It's so incredible being a missionary here and being apart of this joy that they are experiencing as a family!  What's awesome too is that Patricio wants to serve a mission!!  So we will see what happens :) Yesterday we also sang "Fe en cada paso" or "faith in every footstep" with the elders and it was so beautiful!! The elders had an investigator also get baptized yesterday, so it was a great event that really united the ward here in Sada Vidrio.  

I love this pic of their family!

 Cesar, the elders' investigator, also got baptized :)
Yesterday I also gave a talk in church on OBRA MISIONAL......missionary work.  It was so great!  I felt so comfortable and every word was fluid....the spanish is really kickin' in and I can pretty much understand everything and say all that I want to say!  Mom:  here is a "selfy sunday" for you to enjoy haha :)

the few moments in the mission when my hair is straightened and face is done haha here ya go mom!

So I've learned something interesting about prayers.....when we pray for something like "Heavenly Father, please help me to have more patience" or "please help me to be more diligent", our answers to these prayers are going to be answered with situations that TEST our patience and TEST our diligence.....For example:  Say you want to have more patience with a friend who is giving you a hard time.... the only way Heavenly Father can "help" you to have more patience is by giving you difficult situations with that person to LEARN how to have's a bit strange to think about but it's true!  

For all of you who have warned be about getting sick on the mission..... I NOW KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.  This week I had my first "not so pleasant sick experience" hahahah.  Monday night a family gave us some Carls Juniors burgers....and Tuesday I experienced the worst nausea you can imagine!  Let's just say I will not be eating from Carls Junior for a while.  But nevertheless, missionaries don't get "days off" so after my brief sick episode outside of our house haha bleh I took a 2 hour nap and we went straight back to work.  I think I have never missed home more in that moment!

Hm what else... I continue to sleep talk every night in spanish to my companion haha I feel bad!!  This week was super hot but yesterday and today had rain.  


 the streets here literally have waves.... hahaha mom i need my rain boots!!

haha so cute!  people in my ward

dana's quinceñera why didn't i have a quinceñera......
 an investigator lets me play her guitar :)  #jamsesh

every tuesday and saturday we go and talk to people in the markets

 pic of before church 

"not that I speak in respect of want:  For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" Philippians 4:11

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


September 23, 2014

Lindsay's Bday is Coming Up!

Dear Family & Friends of Hermana Riches,

Lindsay is turning 20 on October 12!!  She would absolutely LOVE to hear from you even if it is just a simple note!  The key we have found is using her email address and NOT the old fashioned mail system because hand written letters take about a month and a half to send. If you want to send her a quick email, her email is!

Just to give you all a feel for snail mail to Mexico: we just got a letter from her today dated August 5.......almost 2 months!  Crazy!  Just to let you all know, Lindsay will be able to read the emails on October 6 or after her bday on October 13. We thank you all so very much for all your love for our family.  We are beyond blessed with beloved family & friends.

Much love,
Melissa (Lindsay's mom)


September 20, 2014

Goin' with the Flow.....Literalmente (Week 14)

 shout out to the 7/11 around the corner with hot chocolate!
The rain has arrived-- I'm literally "goin with the flow.... hahah" the week started off with scorching heat and all of a sudden it just down poured -- let's just say that I made a big mistake packing only summer clothes haha!  I have this nice big jacket and that's about it.  I have never needed rain boots so badly in my life!  All the streets here are river rapids-- you know the ride "splash mountain" at Disneyland where you get soaked at the end?  Well i've been able to experience that same thrill everytime a car drives past us haha!  It's also a challenge finding shoes here because my big american feet don't match the average size here...I have to face the fact that my feet are bigger than both the elders in my ward.....  So let's hope I find rain boots sometime soon

On thursday we had a conference with Elder Pieper, a general authority here in Mexico, and he served his mission here in Monterrey about 40 years ago!  There were about 80 of us missionaries present and Pres. Bird and his wife, and I had the lovely opportunity to play the opening and closing hymns....however, it was so scary because 1 of them I had never played before haha!  Mom and dad- thank you for forcing me to take 9 years of piano lessons where I have learned to sight read music haha I played it perfectly!  Heavenly Father was definately listening to my silent desperate prayers.

our zone's "name" is Paciencia-- it is perfect because patience has been crucial for me here haha!  I have been here in Monterrey for 2 months now, and as I think back to my first few weeks I have no words to describe how big of a culture shock I was experiencing!  (still.....)  Because you are constantly busy as a missionary, you never just sit back and think about your emotions but mannnn this has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do!  When I'm feeling discouraged I can't just go for a run or a drive, take alone time, take a nap, listen to music, text a friend or family member....all of my outlets have been taken away and I've had to really rely on the power of prayer and faith and reading scriptures for comfort and it sounds cheesy but I'm grateful for these experiences I've had with out wordly distractions to know that these powers are real.
when you're with someone 24/7 you tend to start wearing the same colors of clothing......
"cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.  For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might recieve the promise" Hebrews 10:35-36

This week I learned a valuable lesson of not "judging a book by its cover".  We are teaching a 26 year old woman and she comes from a very strong catholic background.  At first I really did not expect her to accept our message and continue meeting with us, but after our 3rd visit with her she just opened up to us and expressed how much trust she has in us.  she began to unload lots of problems she has been experiencing, and she says that she feels the same peace with us that she feels in the catholic church.  I was totally caught off guard when she opened up to us about her personal life because she had been so confident in her own personal beliefs and didn't really show much interest in our message.  But now she is very interested in what we have to say and it's so great!  It just goes to show that I have to have the same amount of hope for every single person I meet.

Every day we have an investigador say to us... "everytime i'm with you hermanas I feel peace and warmth in my heart"  or  "there's something about you missionaries and I can't quite figure out what it is...." Adriana Montemayor, a return missionary who goes out and teaches with us, expressed to us how much she loves being with us because she notices a distinct change-- she says the spirit is so tangible being around us.  As missionaries, we can be numb to the spirit at times because all day everyday we are teaching people, reading the scriptures, praying....but to "normal people" haha the spirit really is so real!  During lessons sometimes I feel like my comments aren't making any difference in these people's lives...but I need to always remember that Heavenly Father really is working through me and touching every heart I come in contact with.
Beba, a girl in our ward who goes out and teaches with us!
"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's, the Son also, but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit.  Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us"DyC 130:22
A lesson with Beba and Familia Aguilar!

Haha so in our area there really is nothingggg to do.....which is good in a sense because we are focused on the work haha but last week we were waiting for the computer place to open and we got to spend some quality time on a playground nearby and take some quality photos:
  not sure how this works......

pumpin' some iron
  feelin' artsy
Today is Independence Day here in Mexico, so we are doing some quality Mexican festivities as a zone with mastaches and all hahaha also next sunday I am giving a talk in church ahhh wish me luck!  and Patricio's sister Dana is getting baptized on sunday!  So hopefully all our plans work out!  

more pics from this week:  

weekly planning sesh


C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


September 10, 2014

familias (Week 13)

Javi, a boy in my ward! He is super smiley and has tons of energy hahah

This week went by sooo fast!  I can barely remember what happened haha.  Also, we are not going to the temple until October because we have various conferences and other things scheduled for September.  This week we had lots of rain as well as super hot days.  Also it is safe to say that Hermana Batalla and I may overdose on tortillas, rice, and beans....haha good thing we walk a ton here!

pondering in how many tortillas, rice, and beans we have eaten here as missionaries......
Also this week was Hermana Batalla's 21st birthday!  woohoooo Feliz Cumpleaños hahah unfortunately birthdays are not super exciting here....still have to work all day long.  But of course there was a birthday cake.

We had a cool experience on saturday with a family we have been teaching....Familia Aguilar (I have mentioned them before).  Oh how I love this family!  We have been teaching them for about a month, and they treat us like their own kids haha the mom, Olivia, always has a Coco Cola light ready for me in a glass bottle ;)  So they have been experiencing weird/spooky feelings in their home, and they feel that there is some unwanted spirit lurking around-- so we told them that some elders could come and give a blessing on the home to invite more peace and comfort (for those reading this who aren't mormon, all the men in our church hold the priesthood:  special authority from God to baptize, give special blessings, etc. and it is the same authority that Christ had on the earth and his apostles)  Sosaturday night Elders Melara and Martinez came and said a beautiful prayer to bless the home-- it was so neat because every member of the fam was present, about 8 family members, and the elders also gave each person a special blessing of comfort (for a blessing they place their hands on their heads and say a prayer that is inspired from God).  The spirit was so strong in the room, and the whole family was so grateful to have recieved individual blessings of comfort.  It was so sweet to watch all of them smile at the end of their blessing.  This experience was especiallly great because Olivia, the mom, has expressed concern with why only men in our church hold the priesthood and not women.  It was so great for her to see that the priesthood blesses BOTH men and women-- it is just the role men have to perform these blessings, just like women have the role to bring children into this life.  It is the way christ set up his church from the beginning.  I am so grateful to have access to the priesthood in my life, and I have seen miracles come from it. I know without a doubt that it is direct power from God, and I am so grateful that Dad and Jordan have the priesthood in our home :) And that whenever I need a blessing of comfort or when I am sick I know that they have the power to act in the name of God and provide me with this comfort.

"that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness" DyC 121:36

sweet oliviana, 11 years old.
some of the family with our "Plan De Salvacíon" diagram haha!

I had the opportunity to teach a lesson in english!  Some members of the Aguilar Familia are learning english, and they wanted to practice with me :)  I taught them all about the Plan of Salvation in english- what happens before we come to earth, our purpose in life, and what happens when we die.  haha it was soooo weird teaching in english!  I had to speak in "spanglish" because I am so used to speaking these terms in spanish haha!  you'd think it'd be really easy for me in english but it was surprisingly difficult!  When you speak in your native tongue words have different meaning to you, like saying "God" has more of an impact on me than "Dios".  It's really interesting.  But yeah it was cool speaking in english haha!

"For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yeah, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors"Alma 34:32

We are also teaching another family, familia Luna and it was especially great because the bishop and his wife came to teach with us!  This was special because the bishop rarely goes out to teach with the missionaries.  It was great to have the bishop formally invite this family to church.

Some families in my ward (who I go to church with):

Familia Sanchez:  Alma, the mom, is like the "missionary mom".  When we are near their home and are thirsty, hungry, or need a bathroom haha we always stop by this house.  they have been members of the church for 4 years.  She loves to cook- homemade tomales and tortillas de harina....flour tortillas mmmmm. and every week she bakes these "ïmpanatas" which are like rolls with jam in the middle.  Their family is always pulling jokes and always says "äyyyy juera!!" haha which is blondie in spanish.  they are full of energy and blunt about everything.

Familia de Ola de Mar:  Ola de Mar means "wave of the sea" haha!  Ola is the mom and this family is so humble and the happiest kids you will ever meet.  The mom is suchhh a hardworker and does everything she can to provide for her children.  Their living situation is very very humble...and yet they have so much to give to others and always thinking of others first. They have been members of the church for a  year.

more pics of of the kids in this family:

other church pics:
every thursday night the women have a meeting all together haha it is very sweet to watch!
  other members in the ward
i love being with families every day.  It really makes me miss my own!  But it's so great teaching families because I have the opportunity to share with others the things I have learned in my own family and the blessings I have gained from those teachings in my life.

"train up a child in the way he should go:  and when he is old, he will not depart from it" Proverbs 22:6

Well this week we have a conference and of course more teaching every day!  miss you all!  until next week!

c o n  a m o r
hermana riches


September 04, 2014

New Beginnings (Week 12)

First off I wanna thank Pat Riches, Brooke WIlls, Emily Crowder, and Katie Barrus for your letters!!  Mail takes about a month to get here...but I successfully recieved them!  Thank you!  And also thank you for all the emails I recieve each week...It is so great hearing from all of you.  By the way, if any of you have questions about missionary life or what I have been doing, feel free to email me at

This week has lots of new "beginnings"
- start of september and the dreaded rainy season here haha
- all the kids here are running around in their uniforms because school is now in session
- all around here are ads for upcoming Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, and Justin Timberlake concerts in Monterrey coming up in sept/ oct (Hermana Batalla and I are very sad we can't attend..... #crying)
- new missionaries came in yesterday= no longer a baby in the mission field haha yay :)
-we have "cambios" this week- as a missionary you learn to think in "6 week" terms.  Every 6 weeks there is a chance you could be switching areas, companions, leadership positions, etc.  or you just stay where you are for the following 6 weeks.  Because I have 12 weeks of training I am staying in Sada Vidrio with Hermana Batalla, my trainer!  But all other missionaries were anxiously waiting sunday night to hear what the changes were.  I really am enjoying my area so I'm happy to stay!  and elders melara and martinez are still in our ward which is awesome because they are seriously so hilarious haha!

this week also marks my 3 month mark in the mish- I can't decide if time has gone by fast or slow haha mom?  dad?  what do you think?  I've been told it takes about 6 weeks to adjust to a new living situation, and I really do feel that to be true.  I've reorganized my desk area and it's starting to feel more like "home"-- as much as home can be haha :( FAMILIA I MISS YOU

we pretty much have all new investigadores-- when investigadores don't go to church or keep up with committments you give them, you have to "break up with them" hahah it's sad saying goodbye!  But we need to be focusing our time and energy with pepole who are ready to accept this gospel.  We have a motto in the Mish....."tomates verdes" or green tomatos are those not ready to accept the gospel and "tomates rojos" or red tomatos are those ripe and ready to listen to our message haha!  we are really excited though because Patricio's younger sister, Dana, has a baptismal date for the end of this month! woooohooo!  (refer to week 11 for Patricio's story)

This week I've thought a lot about why we are given challenges in life...why "bad things happen to good people".  Pretty much every investigator we talk to opens up to us and just starts crying, letting out all of the trials in their life- deaths of fam members, sicknesses, abusive relationships, financial problems, depression, and various others.  It's really sad to listen to.  It's important to remember that when we go through hard times, that is when our faith needs to be the strongest.  There is a really great familia in our ward-- Familia Montemayor.  The father, former stake president, was a very active guy up until a snow mobiling accident he had in Utah where he fractured his vertebrae.  He slowly walks with a walker and you can just tell how much pain he has-- and yet he always has a smile on his face and is thinking of others before himself.  His faith can literally move mountains haha he just talks about Christ, Heavenly Father, El Libro de Mormon and can't help but tear up.  He was talking to Hermana Batalla and me one day about this snowmobiling accident, and he expressed how grateful he is for this time he has had to reflect on the blessings in his life and to strengthen his faith-- he is a great example of unwavering optimism when most of us would rather pity ourselves and act out of anger.

"But behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.  yea, signs come by faith, not by the will of men, nor as they please, but by the will of God"  DyC 63:9-10

"for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us"  Romans 8:18

something Hermana Batalla and I studied this week is special gifts/ talents we are given and how God expects us to use these gifts:

"but with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they will hide the talent which I have given unto them because of the fear of man..."  DyC 60:2

we shouldn't be afraid to share our talents because we don't know what positive effect it might bring to others--i've had many opportunities to play hymns and sing here and it's been so awesome to incorporate my passion for music!  (cough cough jordan you better brush up on your piano playing before the mish!)  I really do know that we are given special talents for special purposes.  Whatever talents or strengths you have, put time into them and share them as much as you can-- you will begin to realize why you were given that gift and see how it blesses others.

Life in Sada Vidrio is good!  haha basically everyone in the streets knows us and yells out "ayyyy hola hermanas!"  or even "ayyy hola élderes!" hahaha.  We have made friends with a sweet old man who sells corn out of his cart-- same cart for the past 25 plus years.  all day every day he sells corn (for those who have seen NACHO LIBRE...the corn covered in mayo with red chili flakes is EVERYWHERE here hahaha)

It's still super hot and also really dusty.  Other facts about the culture....every candy or snack has red chili in it blehhh it's spicy and nasty haha!  they loveee coco cola here, especially in the glass bottles mmmm :)  everyone has atleast one dog and one other strange pet such as an iguana/bird/rabbit/turtle....they loveee their pets.  One of our investigadores literally has 20 dogs that all live inside her house hahaha it's ridiculous.  Constant barking in the streets.  You greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek here too, the people are so warm and nice.  everyone owns a Hollister or abercrombie tshirt hahah so when I pass people on the streets and see their "cali" tshirts it's a good conversation starter!  Every weekend people hold fiestas in their homes and play loud musica.  there is also a serious lack of peanut butter and sour patch kids here haha so mom send me some por favorrrrr!  #withdrawals is to a new month and week!  I really am so happy and love the language/ people/ this work.  PS next week we are probably going to the temple so I might not be able to write until thursday....

well I'm off to go bake a cake for Hermana Batalla's bday tomorrow!  Adios amigos! Hasta próxima semana!

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches