October 30, 2014

Lack of Orange and Black....PS: Go Giants!!! (Week 20)

What can I say....there is a serious lack of orange and black here in monterrey!!! no halloween....and no SF GIANTS PRIDE WOOOHOOOO GO GIANTS WORLD SERIES CHAMPS!  It's such a weird feeling not knowing anything that is going on at home hahaha thanks dad!  Big thank yous to Chloe Bray, Karin Fuller, The Bray Family, Kathy Riches, Katie Barrus, and mom for your wonderful mail!!  Muchísimas gracias for your support.  We went to the temple this morning and it was great!  I'm about 25 minutes from the temple- and the temple is right in the middle of the big city with beautiful giant rolling hills in the back.  Here are some photos from this morning:
The missionaries in my zone!!

 the world really is so small...Elder Cook to my right was at the same BYU camp as me 4 years ago haha!!

So every tuesday we have a district meeting (my district consists of 8 missionaries) and then about 4 districts make up a zone (a zone is made up of the missionaries who are in the areas closest to mine)  In our district we have a new elder from Utah and it brings back sooo many memories of my first few weeks here not understanding anything... hahah.  Watching him during our meetings makes me really realize that I have grown so much here and that it truly is amazing how fast I have picked up the language!  But man I totally understand how this elder is feeling....you just wanna cry because you feel so helpless and overwhelmed haha but I keep telling this elder....I promise the language will come!!!  I know that every challenge that is given to us is to help us grow and progress.

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased"

LIfe is really good here with Hermana Mendoza in Sada Vidrio.  It's cool because she has a different accent than Hermana Batalla and uses different phrases, so my accent when I return home I'm sure will be a combination of various mexican accents hahaha.  She speaks zero english, so again it is great being with a companion that forces me to speak español.  Hermana Mendoza and I are pretty opposite, but our personalities compliment each other really well and it's great when teaching people.  Every person and place we come to know in this life is because Heavenly Father wants us to learn something new and to change for the better....so every area and companion I have I am always looking for characteristics that make me a better person.

This past sunday the elders in my ward had a baptism which was really great.  Here is a picture of the two elders in my ward-- the one on the left is from Utah and is new here in Sada Vidrio and Elder Melara from Mexico has been with me here in Sada Vidrio for about 4 months haha they are hilarious

This past saturday as a zone we held a car wash at the stake center haha it was pretty fun!!  We washed cars and took people on tours of the church building while they waited for their cars.  Hermana Mendoza and I stood on the corner next to a busy free way and waved around big signs hahaha we told every dirty taxi that drove past us to go to our car wash....the elders were kept very busy and grateful for our efforts... :).  The visitors really enjoyed the church tours, and everyone we talked to really felt the spirit so strongly inside....  THE CHURCH IS TRUE! haha

The food here has its ups and downs...I really do miss the food at home.  But the spicy salsas really are so good and the homemade tortillas, flautas, tamales....and at this time of year they have a bread called "pan de los muertos" for Día de Los Muertos which is this sunday, and it is this super good bread with sugar on top like a doughnut.  haha here is a pic of a man in our ward who is cooking THE best little steak tacos....dad you would be in heaven!

Well this past week was a bit of a struggle as our investigators are just always so busy and never in their homes.... and we don't have anyone that is really progressing.  sooo we are kind of in a bit of a slump at the moment.  the language isn't really an obstacle for me now....what is stressful now is trying to identify the person's needs...and teaching in a specific way for every person because every single person learns things differently!  We have lots of addresses of people to visit, but very few are in their homes when we come by!  it can be a bit depressing when you are in the streets from 11am- 9pmand have only taught 1 lesson for the day...but I know that eventually we will see the "fruits of our labors"\it also doesn't help when all your favorite songs are being played in the streets haha gah it really does make you feel homesick!  But I know that it is just Satan trying to distract me!  One day I was feeling really exhausted and frustrated, and I just said a prayer to help me...I opened the scriptures and was led to these verses:

"but if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage"mosiah 7:33

"pray always, that you may come off conqueror, yea that you may conquor satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of satan that do uphold his work" DC 10:5

the scriptures really do answer our prayers!!

Well...another super hot week here in Monterrey with random rain falls.    Thank you for all your love and support through emails, letters, and thoughts!

"y Jesús les habló otra vez, diciendo:  yo soy la luz del mundo; el que me sigue no andará en tinieblas, sino que tendrá la luz de la vida" Juan8:12

  activity in the stake center with some ward members
 our ward mission leader is a taxi driver so we all pile in his car to go places hahaha

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


October 20, 2014

Week 19: Problems With Technology

Hello everyone!  Big shoutouts to the Wisemans, Katie Barrus, and my wonderful mother for your mail!  ANd all of the wonderful Birthday emails!! you guys rock.  Because at the times the computers just choose not to work here, I have attached some bday photos from last week!  Also we go to the temple next week, so our Pday is on THURSDAY and I will be able to write home then....

This past tuesday we had "cambios" and I recieved my new compañera!  haha the process on tuesday was pretty intense...about 50 of us missionaries who had cambios all sit in a room, and the assistants to presidente go down a list, and when they call your name you stand up and get assigned a new companion.  Then you go back to the apartment, drop off all the luggage, and go out and teach.  My new companion is Hermana Mendoza-- she is 24 years old (she is so petite!) she has been in the mission for 14 months, she is from Mexico City, and she loves to draw and read.

It's an adjustment getting a new companion!  Hermana Batalla and I had a system/rythm of doing things, and it's a big change adapting to another person's lifestyle and teaching method...but it's really nice being with someone new and just having a "breath of fresh air" here in Sada Vidrio haha.  This week was pretty exhausting as I have been showing her around all the area, introducing her to all the members, investigadores, but its been good because now I got this area down!

So I wanna clarify something:  In my first letter home from Monterrey, I said that this mission has about 60 baptism per week.....I was wrong haha!  We have about 60 baptisms per month, or in the 50s.  This is still a good number, but not nearly as many baptisms as in the missions in southern mexico.  It is actually really difficult here getting people to commit to baptism-- the people here are open to talk to us, but they work ALL DAY EVERY DAY.....so sundays are like impossible for them to go to church!  and if someone wants to get baptized, you can't just get baptized the next day....they have to attend church 5 sundays until they can get baptized because as missionaries we are here to TRULY convert them to this gospel....not just get baptized and stop living the commandments.  So yes, this is our struggle haha.  It's made me really reflect on the priorities we have in this life.  We can't let our busy lives take control over our values and commandments we have to follow.  One of the 10 commandments in the bible is...."thou shalt have no other Gods before me".  Does our work schedule, use of technology, or other attractions take away from family time or really doing the things that God asks of us?  Our salvation depends on our "prep time" here on Earth, and we need to really look at our lives and recognize the importances and what we value most :)

One of our investigadoras, Yuridia, we have been teaching for about a month and she is 26 years old with a 4 year old daughter and really messy relationship with her partner.  He doesn't like that she meets with us, but she has been reading the Book of Mormon and knows that it is true.  She wants to get baptized, but he won't let her go to church with us....so this is currently a struggle we are dealing with.  It's important that during trials we really prayWITH FAITH...Believing that Heavenly Father can answer our prayers.  She needs to pray with real intent, with the firm hope that Heavenly Father will help her through this.  We can't just dwell in our problems and think nothing can get better....we have to actively use our faith.

Even So, faith, if it hath not works, is dead being alone  James 2:17

For behold I am God; and I am a God of miracles, and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith  2 Nephi 27:23

Everyone assumes as missionaries we need to know ALL the doctrine, EVERY scripture, and EVERY answer to every question....but we don't!  As it says in the scriptures.... "therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work"Dyc 4:3.  So for those of you considering going on a mission or want to try a new sport, activity.... if you simply have a DESIRE to do so, the Lord will bless you with the ability and knowledge.  We are continually instructed here as missionaries that we aren't here to GIVE people answers....we are here teaching people how to find answers on their OWN through praying and reading the scriptures.....missionaries come and go and our investigators can't rely on us!  They need to develop a relationship with Heavenly Father so that they can recieve guidance for the rest of their lives.

So for the past 3 years or so missionaries could not go out and knock on doors...we could only find people by talking to them on the streets and public places.  But as of this week Presidente Bird announced that we can  now haha woohooo!  Last week, Hermana Batalla and I decided to say a prayer and go out on this one street and pick a house at random.  We chose a house, hollered BUENAS TARDES because no one knocks on doors here hahah, and out came a woman.  We introduced ourselves and she had the biggest smile on her face.  She began to say that her husband who passed away who was catholic said that if he could have converted to any other religion it would be the church of jesus christ of latter day saints....and she was holding in her hands the info card we handed her and kept pointing ESTA IGLESIA, ESTA IGLESIA!  this church!  this church!  She said that she is never in her house, and that really it was not a casualty that we came upon her home.  I really do know that as missionaries, the most important tool is the spirit...to guide and direct us in the streets we need to go and the people we need to talk to. Everything we do as missionaries is according to the impressions we feel and the answers God gives us to our prayers.  I really do know that Heavenly Father was directing us that day to the house of Angelica :)

For verily, verily I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou has done, for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou has inquired thou hast recieved instruction of my spirit.  If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time...i did enlighten thy mind...Thou has been enlightened by the spirit of truth DyC 6:14-15

Well, it was superrrr hot this week but the rain has come and the winter shortly after!  We are busy every day, and really working hard to find these people who need the gospel in their life.....as well as buying apples on the daily at 7/11, smashing cockroaches, and little kids asking me why I have lots of dots on my face.

y Jesús les djio:  yo soy el pan de vida; el que a mí viene nunca tendrá hambre; y el que en mí cree no tendrá sed jamás  Juan 6:35

Hermana Riches


October 14, 2014

20 Años & Cake In The Face! (Week 18)

¡Buenas tardes amigos y familiares!  First I wanna thank the Longbottoms, Grammy Bredt, Emily Crowder, and Katie Barrus for your mail!!!!Longbottoms.....thank you for the halloween decorations-- literally the best thing a missionary could ask for haha!  Hermana Batalla and I made all the halloween crafts and our apartment is much more beautiful :)  I will attach a photo towards the end of this post!  and Grammy.....thank you for the adorable children books in spanish.  Hermana Batalla has read them to me at night hahaha :)  seriously thank you for all of your email birthday wishes as well!!! 

Well it is official:  I am 20 years old.  SCARY.  Mom/ Dad how do you feel?  hahaha.  My birthday yesterday was sooo great!  I felt so much love from all the members here.  In the morning I woke up to lots of decorations and signs that Hermana Batalla put up for me (mom thank you for the decorations :p )  and we currently have another hermana (hermana zertuche) with us until tomorrow because her companion had to go home for a family crisis ;(  so it's been so fun spending time with these girls!

So after church we went to go eat lunch at a member's home, la familia de Ola de Mar, and Pilly, one of the daughters, has the same birthday as me so we celebrated together!  :)  she turned 13.  The whole home was decorated with balloons and festive mexican music hahaha and another family joined us as well.  It was really cute because they made me a sign as well saying FELICIDADES HERMANA RICHES :).  We enjoyed some toquitos and salsa and a cake!  A tradition here in Mexico is whenever it is someones birthday they sing this chant/song and at the end someone goes behind and pushes the person's face into the cake.......so I got to experience a little of that tradition haha!  Here are some photos:  

and also mom.....you should know that we had a fiesta in the apartment with us 3 with your glow sticks you sent me hahaha

Yesterday really was such a great day, and I felt so much love!  Various members gave me cookies, made "hot cakes" or pancakes haha for me, and it really was so great spending the day with all my new friends here.  

Moving on from the birthday festivities, today is actually a sad day for Hermana Batalla and I because Leanor, I have mentioned her in previous letters, but she is leaving for the United States today to be with her family in texas, but she doesn't have papers so she has to swim the Rio Bravo illegally and it is such a dangerous process......so we are praying for her and really all we can do is think about her safety and hope that she can reuite with her 3 year old daughter!  The stories of these people here really are so sad to hear, but it's amazing being able to share uplifting messages with them.  We visited Leanor on Friday, and we sang "¿Dónde hallo el solaz?"..... "Where Can I turn for peace"  and then we shared with her this scripture:

"Estas cosas os he hablado para que en mí tengaís paz.  En el mundo tendreís aflicción.  Pero confiad.  yo he vencido al mundo" Juan 16:33

"these things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world"  John 16:33

I love this scripture where Jesus is comforting us all that we need not fear when we are dealing with hardships....because he has already overcome everything that we are facing.

Now....DRUM ROLL PLEASE..... Last night we got a phone call for this next "cambio" and the news is:  Hermana Batalla is leaving Sada Vidrio and I am staying here for the next 6 weeks!!  I actually am really happy to stay because I am now accustomed to this area and really love the people.  So tomorrow I will get assigned to a new compañera.  I will miss Hermana Batalla!  She has been a great trainer, and I am excited to keep on working with our investigators and the members here.  I really have grown to love our little apartment that sits above a little store that sells food and diet coke....perfect set up right?  Cheers to another 6 weeks of listening to our neighbors sing karaoke every friday and saturday night!

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


October 12, 2014

Feelin' Grateful (Week 17)

 mom...dad.... i know how to read a map now ;)
HOLA!  well these past 10 days went by quickly but man my body is exhausted! It has also been soooo hot here! I have so much to say to all of you and so little time!  First off big thank yous to Mom, the Helveys, Sister Katie Barrus, Mrs. Hayward, gabrielle, angie, Chloe Bray (who is currently in the MTC YEAHHHH :)  for your mail!!  Seriously I feel so grateful for all the support I recieve.  I have a big binder full of letters/ printed out emails throughout my time here in the mission, and sometimes at night I look through them and just feel so much love!  PS:  mom you only sent me 1 rainboot....was this on purpose??!! hahaha all the missionaries/members are making fun of me here :)

So in this letter I wanted to write about some things that I have been so grateful for!

1.  El Templo
     It has been so awesome to be able to go to the temple about every 6 weeks here!  It is so beautiful, and I just feel so much peace when I am inside.  It's nice to just take a couple hours and sit and reflect on everything going on my life as a missionary!  I truly know that it is the House of the Lord, and that it is in temples where we are sealed for eternity with our families.
One of my favorite families!
2.  Conferencía General
     So this past weekend was GENERAL CONFERENCE.  For those of you not in the church, every 6 months there is a big general broadcast from Salt Lake city that is viewed all over the world, and we have the opportunity to hear from the Prophet and his apostles and other church leaders.  This conference has 4 sessions, 2 on saturday and 2 on sunday.  Watching conference here in a church building with a big projector brought back sooooo many BYU memories!!! Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to attend conference with friends, so yeah I was a bit homesick watching conference haha!  I kept thinking about all of my wonderful friends at BYU right now, and all of those on missions :)  So for conference I had the cool opportunity of watching in SPANISH.... I know you are all so surprised to hear that haha but yes I had to watch in spanish!  I could pretty much understand everything, but then on sunday I was given headphones that connected to a screen so I could listen in english haha :)  So it was cool listening to the 4 hours on saturday in spanish and 4 hours on sunday in english.  I have to say I really have come to realize how blessed we are in the United States to understand the words of our living prophet and his apostles in english.  Everywhere else around the world they need to listen to a translator, and I just felt so blessed to have english be my first language! There were so many amazing fabulous talks given that I could spend all day writing about all the topics haha but for me a topic that I thought was covered more often than others is really understanding that even though as members of the church we have all this knowledge about our Savior and Heavenly Father, we are still going to have challenges in this life.  When we get baptized it's not like life is automatically easy.....We are given tools such as the scriptures, prayer, church, commandments as tools to guide us through these challenges in life, but life isn't going to be easy just because we are members in the church.  Another topic I really liked was the importance of our decisions and how our decisions not only affect US but they affect EVERYONE in our lives.....also Elder Bednar's talk was SO GOOD everyone who is not mormon needs to search Elder Bednar's talk general conference 2014 because this talk is addressed specifically to people NOT in the church....his talk explains why we are so focused on missionary work and why we feel the need to share with people our message haha seirously it is SUCH  a good talk!  So all my high school friends reading this blog right now.......go read it :)  and you can understand why I'm serving a mission!  On saturday in between sessions I had the lovely chance to eat at subway :)  yayyyyy hahaha and play a mad game of UNO with other missionaries.  

familia montemayor....I have mentioned them before but these sisters are returned missionaries and the youngest wants to serve one in 3 years!  They are suchhhh an amazing family in my ward here
us with Dani Montemayor :)  she is 16 and comes out teaching with us sometimes   
3.  Nuevos amigos y familias increíbles 
     Being here I really have come to form such great friendships with the missionaries in my zone as well as the families in my ward.  They really have become my family here, and it is so fascinating to learn about the culture here and their family stories. The members loveeee to talk about their pasts, how they came into the church, their family history....and also it's just so cool to meet all these different missionaries from all over the world and yet we are all here for the same purpose.  I also have met many new animal friends as well.......thank you monterrey!

4.  Las cosas que he aprendido
     I have learned SOOO much here about the scriptures and the history of the church!  I am so grateful for this time In my life to really learn about this life and to know for myself that this church is true and that Heavenly Father really knows each of us personally.  It's especially neat because lots of the locations in the Book of Mormon are here in central/ south america, and Presidente Montemayor (the father of the family) has sooo much knowledge about the history and it is just fascinating to talk with him.  We watched a 20 minute clip on youtube about ancient america...done by BYU....and it shows all the places in the book of mormon and how they are all in Mexico, Peru, Guatamala, Chile...etc.  And it's just so cool being here and learning about all of this!

5.  Crema de Cacahuate
    I have successfully found PEANUT BUTTER hahaha yessss!  I am grateful for peanut butter.

6.  Mi entrenadora 
     Well everyone I am happy to say that this is my last week of TRAINING!  my first 12 weeks here have been my "training" and Hermana Batalla has been my trainer, and I am so grateful for all that I have learned from her and so excited to be done with this training period!  On Sunday night we find out if we have any changes....such as a new companion, new area...so I am so excited to find out where I will be these next 6 weeks!!! I could still be with Hermana Batalla here in sada vidrio...or change companions...or change areas!  So I am excited to wait and see.  we got these pretty swaggy jerseys for our zone with our names on the back hahaha so this is me and hermana batalla takin' some candid photography.....

Also.....am I really turning 20 years old on sunday...???!!!! I'm too old!!!! so weird... hahaha hopefully I have some exciting birthday reports for you all!  Thank you for all of your love and prayers......  

more pics:

us playing the game my mom sent me and jamming out to Mormon Tabernacle choir
My church building
the kids in my ward after their primary program last week!! :)

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


October 01, 2014

La Vida without GPS... (Week 16)

Big thank yous to sister katie barrus and the Helveys for your letters!!  and mom I got your package :)  PS:  I go to the temple next week so expect me to write next thursday instead of monday!

So as some of you know, I have a HORRIBLE sense of direction...one time I got lost driving home from a grocery store 2 minutes away from my house hahaha remember Jordan and Becca??  So yes....an adjustment for me here is learning how to read a real map!  yes, they still exist.  Tuesday we had intercambios and Hermana Batalla went with a different Hermana to another area and I stayed here in Sada Vidrio with a new hermana.  I had to take charge of my area without the help of my trainer for a whole 24 hours haha and it actually went really well!!  I found every house and successfully taught every lesson and found my way back home....well I did knock on the wrong door once hahaha.  and one of our investigadoras accepted fecha!!  (accepted baptismal date) so that was very exciting.  Being in charge of my area for the day gave me confidence and a realization that I do know this doctrine and the language!

Here in the mission we have some goals that we are completing by the end of the year.  Up until mid october we are focusing our studies on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and Personal revelation.  Our church is centered on the atonement of Jesus Christ and the power we gain from it.

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind, and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and sicknesses of his people.  And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his peopleñ  and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities¨ ALMA 7:11-12

Personal revelation is also very important because we need to help people find answers for themselves...to help them recognize the ways that God answers their prayers.  God answers our questions through the feelings in our heart....joy, peace, happiness, comfort.  It´s key that we really teach this at the beginning ebcause then they can know that everything can be answered and revealed to them as truth.  

¨but behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind, then you must ask me if it be right.  and if it be right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you, therefore, you shall feel that it is right¨ D&C 9:8

I really do know this to be true, and I have seen it here with the people I meet and have seen this change their lives.

another mission goal is we are reading the whole El Libro de Mormón before the end of the year....but in a unique way.  We each have a new copy and as we read we are highlighting every reference of Jesus Christ, his own words, every time a person shows a christlike attribute (faith, virtue, patience, knowledge, obedience, humility, diligence, love, charity) and all of the principles and doctrine (for example prayer, or the plan of salvation, or repentence).  so yes you have to really do a close reading!  I am really enjoying this though because I can see how every single verse has importance.  I´m reading El Libro de Mormón twice at the same time right now haha!  But it´s really helping me with the language.

As a missionary I have learned so much...not just specifically doctrine in the church, but so much about life in general and about myself.  I´ve really learned the importance of actions and words.....and how as individuals we need to be mindful of others at all times.  We don´t know the hardships that people are currently going through.  We can´t just look at someones life and ask ourselves....¨well they need to do this more¨ or ¨they need this characteristic more¨.  You have to always put yourself in their shoes.  I´ve also learned that we don´t always have to be on-the-go all the time....the people here aren´t on their computers or phones and they actually spend quality time just sitting and talking haha!  so i´ve definitely learned to just go with the flow here.

yesterday in church was the primary program!!!  where all the kids sing church songs and recite little lines hahah it was adorable...only about 12 kids here in my ward and the theme was ¨families can be together forever¨ These kids bring such a sweet spirit!!  It reminded me so much of home hahah and it was funny to see that the kids still wave from the stand to their parents in the audience.

This week I had ANOTHER sick experience I swear I have been having the worst luck with health!  I have been having a terrible ear infection ever since I arrived here in mexico, and this week it was at its worst.  I got another round of antibiotics, because the first 4 didn´t do anything.....and I ended up having to get 3 shots fridaysaturday, and sunday!  not fun haha but I FINALLY feel better and I just hope that my infection doesn´t come back!

Well family and friends, I miss you all!  We have great investigators, and next week I will have more teaching stories...I wish I could email home every day there is so much to report on haha!  I really like this scripture:

Ï am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end.¨ Moroni 8:3

I pray for you all EVERY DAY!!!  Les extraño mucho!!! hasta próxima semana!

c o n  a m o r
hermana riches