November 26, 2014

Never a Dull Moment (Week 24)

"y habeís de dar gracias a Dios en el Espíritu por cualquier bendición con que seaís bendecidos" DyC 46:32

and ye must give thanks unto God in the spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with" DC 46:32

What a week!  I honestly can't remember all that has happened haha every day is crazy jammed pack with so many adventures, moments of laughter, stress, spiritual highs, and new friends.  My body is so exhausted.  Hermana Mendoza tells me that I sleep talk at night in spanish....contacting people hahah!  she says that in my dreams I repeat "buenas tardes, somos misioneras de la iglesia de jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias..." hahaha my brain is on auto-mode.... Well this past week was very warm...but apparently this week is going to be suuuuper cold... I never know what to wear in the morning because the weather changes every single day.  So I am casually that blonde girl walking around with rain boots, a summer blouse, and holding a scarf and two jackets.  So this week is transfer week....but I am staying here in Sada Vidrio!!!  I was super nervous I was going to get transferred, but I am sooo happy to know that I am going to be staying here in my area for Christmas!! I love love this area so much.....also another mini announcement is that the end of my mission is in exactly 1 year!  There are no transfers in December, so I will be going home this time of year next year....these past 6 months really have gone by so fast and I know that time will just keep going by faster and faster.  

So I haven't really talked about my housing situation in my letters, but I have quite a story to share haha.  So as some of you know....I have been living above a food store these past 4 1/2 months, with daily supply of diet coke, cereal, and every snack imaginable.  Our living situation has been the center of many missionary jokes because we literally live right above a food store hahaha in a very insecure area.... (don't worry's made for some good adventuresome stories :) )  sooooo we have been meaning to change houses all summer but couldn't find one with the requirements the mission has.  This week we were told we HAD to find a new rentable house, or the elders were going to switch houses with us and the area!  I really did not want to change areas!  So many prayers were offered this week hahah and friday the elders found a new house.  So on Saturday we moved EVERYTHING out of our house into the elder's house, and the elders moved into a new house.  It was quite the experience -we had to move the beds, suitcases, fridge, tables, everything down our tiny skinny stair case.  A member was taking pictures of us and now the whole ward has seen these pictures on facebook hahahah we are crazy!

The first load! haha so much stuff to move!

The couple who own the apartment we were living in/ owners of the store hahaha I'm going to miss these people!
Saturday we walked into our "new home".....where the elders were living....and it was FILTHY......this weekend hermana mendoza and I were just dying of laughter as we found some "hidden treasures"...thank you elders!  Oh man.... so this week we have been doing lots of cleaning and organizing.  My back is so sore!  and we don't have it has been fun sleeping on a mattress on the floor #mishlife
  Talking to our district leader on the phone, eating tacos on our mattress because we didn't have a table or chair set up #lifeisgood

well we have a super wonderful family we are teaching!  La Familia Hernandez....a mom/dad and 3 kids....they have gone to church twice!  The dad is always working so we havn't met with him much, but Carmen, the mom, has such a strong testimony already.  She prayed to ask if she should be baptized, and she prayed wanting to have her question answered with a dream. and she dreamed about Hermana Mendoza and I visiting her and images of Jesus Christ being baptized!!!! If this isn't a direct answer to a prayer......I don't know what is!  so we are very excited and hope that they continue to progress!  What is special about this family too is that right before we contacted Carmen in the market about 3 weeks ago, hermana mendoza and I said a prayer, asking to find a family of 5.....and they are a family of 5 and she literally is an answer to our prayer!!! So I really do believe that Heavenly Father has led us to this family.

Well, I am doing great, and it's weird not celebrating Thanksgiving here!  I am so grateful for all of these experiences I am having, and although it is so tough every day, it's so awesome at the same time.  also, This afternoon a woman in our ward is driving me to a shoe store to go buy some boots....literally the ONLY store here that has my shoe size!!!! an 8 1/2 shoe size is gigantic to these people... who all wear sizes 4 and 5!
Thank you for all your emails, packages, letters, and thoughts!

"we do not preach and teach in order to bring people into the church or to increase the membership of the church...we do not preach and teach just to pursuade people to live better lives.  We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God.  No one else can do this" Elder Dallin H. Oaks

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


November 20, 2014

The Rice, Beans, & Hot Coco Diet (Week 23)

Buenos Dias! Many thanks to Mom, Eliza crowder, and Grammy Bredt for your sweet mail!  Mom...the candy is much appreciated by my friends here haha the first time my companion has tried starbursts or sour patch kids....! much has happened this week!  i now understand this "loco" weather here in Monterrey...the same day can be both super warm and super cold.  I am enjoying my daily hot chocolate breaks!
Am I in Utah?

This past monday we had some bonding activities with our zone and grilled some "carne asada" tasty!!! haha hermana mendoza and i were in charge of the activities, and we had contests such as "which team can down coca cola the fastest" and "who can fit the most marshmellows in your mouth and say chubby bunny" and "sherades" was so entertaining haha!  the elders are hilarious!

This week we had a zone conference with Presidente Bird and we covered the topics of "personal revelation" "faith"  "teaching PEOPLE and not LESSONS..."  everyone had to come with a 10 minute prepared talk on "personal revelation" and I was chosen to give the talk!  I definitely saw that one coming...haha and of course it had to be in spanish.  It went really well! I just prepared bullet points for my talk, and I'm now able to express my thoughts and feelings better in spanish, and I felt totally comfortable.  In my talk, I covered 6 main requirements we must have in order to better understand personal revelation, or communication from God.  we must....

1.  humbly pray asking for guidance
2.  keep the commandments
3.  partake of the sacrament worthily
4.  study the scriptures daily
5.  dedicate time to mediate and ponder
6.  patiently accept the timing and the will of the Lord

I really do know that every day we are recieving personal guidance from our heavenly father, and that we need to pay close attention to the soft whisperings of the Holy ghost.  

For the topic of faith, we talked about the importance of putting our faith into ACTION...and how we need to face everything with a believing attitude, knowing that Jesus Christ has conquered everything and that He is there for us every step of the way.  4 ways we can strengthen our faith are:

1.  Express Gratitud in our prayers
2.  Keep the commandments
3.  Study diligently the scriptures
4.  Daily repentance..changing for the better

Another main point in the conference was the importance of teaching peopleand not lessons.... everyone has individual needs/ questions and we don't just present a rote demonstration..each lesson is according to the individual needs and the impressons we feel from the spirit.  The spirit is the teacher-- "and the spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith, and if ye recieve not the spirit ye shall not teach" DC 42:14  Really everything we say/ ask in lessons is given to us by the spirit-- Estoy muy agradecida por este llamamiento que tengo, y yo puedo testificar que sin el espìritu no podemos ayudar los investigadores con sus necesidades ni preguntas sobre esta vida.  

Lately I have been hearing so many stories of people recently having loved ones pass away, and I just want to testify to all of you that i know God has a marvelous plan of happiness for us.  I know that through this gospel we can have eternal families, and that death is not the end.  In The Book of Mormon we learn that we will all have perfect, resurrected bodies when Christ comes again.  I have lots of hope and reassurement knowing that we can obtain eternal life through the merciful plan centered around our Savior Jesus Christ.

"And if you keep my commandments, and endure to the end, you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of god"  DC 14:7

This week we have really been pushing our investigators to ask in prayer if our message is true...for some reason, it is difficult to get our investigators to simply ask in their prayers..."Padre, es este mensaje verdadero?  Ayùdame al saber si las hermanas estàn diciendo la verdad"...."father, is this message true?  Help me to know if the hermanas are telling the truth" is so crucial that every person asks with real intent in their prayers and specifically if this church is true...because God is the only person who can give us the right answer.  I challenge all of you who are reading this post to kneel and say a prayer and asking Heavenly Father specifically if the Church of Jesus christ of Latter Day Saints is true.... or any other question or doubt you might have....and I promise that you will feel in your heart the answer..soft feelings of peace, comfort, joy, and that really this message comes from God and is true.  Even if you don't have any doubts in this church it is still important to ask and to recieve this confirmation.

"and whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it."  John 14:13-14

Yesterday we had a lesson with a woman who doesn't believe in God.  It was my first encounter here with an atheist...the majority of people here are very religious.  The lesson was very interesting and sad to listen to as she firmly declared her disbelief in God and Jesus Christ.  I honestly don't understand  how one can deny the fact that we have a Father in Heaven...everything around us is evidence of our loving Heavenly Father.  We may not understand all the trials and hardships that pass in this life, but i will never deny the existance of God.

"Believe in God.  Believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth, believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth, believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend"  Mosiah 14:9

We had a stake activity with mexican food and music and a talent show, and us missionaries had a table in the back with pamphlets and talked to investigators.  Here is a pic of the sweet women in my ward!

Hasta proxima semana!  I believe that thursday is lots of Turkey and Pumpkin Pie for me!!!

hermana riches


November 12, 2014

The Weather Just Can't Decide (Week 22)

Thank yous to Grammy B and Sister Katie Barrus for your letters!  Well....the weather just can´t decide if it is spring, summer, fall, or winter....I feel like I´m back in Utah but without the beautiful snowy mountains.  We had a few cold days here this week...and it was FREEZING!  It´s a wet, humid, cold here and they say it is going to get a lot colder haha gah!  We look pretty ridiculous in our apartment during our morning studies hahah we have big blankets over our head as we hover over our scriptures...but luckily La Familia Garcia lives around the corner, Patricio and Dana who are my recent converts, and their mom comes by and brings us treats and blankets! 

Hermana Alma of our ¨missionary moms¨ here....makes the best tortillas de harina...flour tortillas...and one day before lunch I got the chance to help her.  I have a whole new respect for tortilla makers...the job appears to be a lot easier than it actually is!

Every monday night we have an activity in the stake center with ward members and investigadores.  Us and the elders switch on and off teaching mini lessons and an activity.  This week hermana mendoza and I taught about the importance of reading scriptures. and SHOUT OUT TO MAMA RICHES we used the twister game you sent me as a giant board game hahaha we played a ¨scriptures¨ version of ¨chutes and ladders¨.....

we came up with questions from the bible, book of mormon, doctrine and covenants, and the pearl of great price, and split everyone up into 2 teams...everyone got really into it and ended up being pretty competitive haha!  The culture here is so blunt and carefree and isn´t afraid to mess with other people hahah so it was pretty entertaining to watch...

Yo tengo un testimonio muy fuerte que cuando leamos las escrituras, encontraremos las respuestas y la guía para obtener la vida eterna.

"all scripture is given by inspiration of god, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness"  2 timothy 3:16

"wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.  For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works"  Jacob 4:10

The theme obedience is always a focus here in the Mish....not only for us as missionaries but also for our investigators.  We have rules and commandments in this life for a reason....a quote that is used a lot here in the Mish is "obedience brings blessings.  Obedience with exactness brings miracles."  and it is true.  We see miracles not only for our spiritual well  being but temporally as well.  If you want answers to prayers or more blessings in your life, you have to show Heavenly Father that you are willing to do whatever He asks.

"I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say;  But when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise"

So in this life, there are times when people make us frustrated, right?  There are times when people hurt us, when we feel we have been wronged, and it's easy to just have a giant grudge and not move on.  But an important lesson that Jesus taught here on Earth was the need to Forgive Others.  If we expect Heavenly Father to forgive us for our own sins, we need to show mercy and to love our "enemies" Christ was suffering on the cross, he pled to Heavenly Father saying "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do".  This is the ultimate example of humility that we need to follow when loved ones hurt us.  and as we do so, a burden of hard feelings will be lifted from our hearts.  we are currently working with a less active in our ward who has lots of anger for certain church members who have "wronged her"...and won't go to church because of it.  People are imperfect, we all make mistakes, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect and has no mistakes.

"for if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you;  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses"  Matthew 6:14-15

Last monda as a zone we had a "tortilla war" hahah basically dodgeball with was pretty entertaining.

Well I am doing great here and the spanish is awesome!  The mission is the most stressful thing I have ever had to do, but at the same time so much joy and easiness!  

until next week!

c o n  a m o r
Hermana Riches


November 07, 2014

My Life As An Hermana.....The Inside Scoop (Week 21)

Tacos are the bomb
Buenas Tardes!  Hermana Riches here with the inside scoop on what life is like as a sister missionary here in Monterrey, Mexico.  It's a pretty weird feeling having all of you friends and family know about my life solely from a blog hahah.... as I am sitting here in a public rent-a-computer place, I wanted to give you some insights on my day to day life....the 4-1-1 of what life is really like as for a "gringa hermana" :)

- all of the workers in 7/11 and local gas stations know you due to daily chocolate/ gatorade / diet coke breaks
-  when you go to give the taxi driver a pass along card you notice they already have that same card and 3 others hanging from their rear view mirror
-  everytime you pass a cart selling corn you can't help but recite all the lines from "Nacho Libre" in your head
- everything that we eat at home with bread is replaced with a tortilla....EVERYTHING.
-  you get over excited when finding a perfect scripture verse for a lesson or when someone commits to baptism
- the only time you are more than 3 ft away from your campion is in the bathroom
-  you know all the street names better than the people who have lived here in the same city their whole life
-  fashion + glamorizing= seeing how many possible skirt/ blouse combos can be made
- having the constant fear of breaking one of the 100 rules we have as missionaries
-  the surprised reaction on people's faces when I open my mouth and speak spanish
-taking pictures with elders is awkward.
- being car-less= calf muscles gettin' swole
- every stress/ worry you have is about someone else's life
- emails/cards mean more to you than anything materialistic
- you feel the need to help every single person that crosses your path
- really cool tan lines from the same pair of shoes you wear every day
- seeing a cockroach on the floor begins to be the Norm
- it's totally normal talking to every stranger in the street
- when talking to an american elder you only speak spanish because talking in english feels weird
- your body never adjusts to waking up at 6:30 am every day
- asking strangers for weekly weather forecasts
- although you have the same exact schedule every day, every day is completely different
- strangers asking you to say a prayer for them right then and there on the side walk
- nevery saying/ writing your first name

well these are just some tidbits of what life is like here as an hermana!  some other weekly high lights include:

- so it is not a surprise that soccer is huge here....on game days every one walks around with their "tigre" jersey and cars drive around waving big banners and signs haha they loveeee their team "los tigres" here
- each district meeting I have the chance to teach the missionaries a bit of english so this week I taught "head shoulders knees and toes" hahah
- we had an investigator in church yesterday!  His name is Hugo, and we hope that he can continue to progress
-  On friday (halloween) I went and taught with another hermana in another area...and there were actually quite a few trick or treaters!  but i guess it's because Monterrey is close to the border so people have adopted some US traditions here....but lots of people here are pretty superstitious about halloween and don't want their kids celebrating it.  My companion was Hermana Garcia from the Dominican Republic...she's super cool!
 haha of course we had to do a bit of trick or treating....
well this week was super hot but I think it's gunna start to get a bit colder....haha later today we are having a "Guerra de tortillas"....tortilla a zone so I will have to update you all on that next week hahaha!

I really am doing great, and I just love the people and have such great friends!  Because the ward is pretty small, with only like 70 active members, everyone is family.  I know I can go to any member if I need anything and I will be recieved with love and support.  There are so many apparent struggles in these people's lives, but they have some of the strongest testimonies I have seen.  Every day I am writing rapidly in my journal about the people and my experiences because I dont want to forget!
 the Lopez Familia

how is it novemember??!!! big shout out to BECCA RICHES for my blog posts!!!

a mini testimony in spanish....

yo sé sin duda que esta iglesia es verdadera.  yo realmente sé que esta iglesia es la misma iglesia que Jesucristo estableció sobre la tierra.  Con La Biblia y el libro de mormón tenemos la plenitud del evangelio, y es necesario que sigamos los mandamientos para encontrar felicidad.  Yo he recibido muchísimas respuestas de mis oraciones, y yo puedo testificar que Dios está escuchándonos siempre.  Si tenemos fe en jesucristo y su expiación, podemos vencer todos los desafíos. Tenemos un profeta, Thomas S. Monson, para guiarnos en el camino correcto.  El recibe revelación directamente con Dios, y necesitamos seguir sus palabras.  Tenemos la promesa de la Vida Eterna si nosotros guardamos los mandamientos.  Testifico que las familias pueden ser eternas mediante el sacerdocio restaurado que tenemos en los temples sobre la faz de la tierra.  Yo he visto milagros aquí en la misión cuando las personas reciben una respuesta que estas cosas son verdaderas.  Cuando una persona ore y pregunte a Dios si El Libro de Mormón es verdadero, realmente Dios va a poner sentimientos de paz y consuelo en su corazón que estas cosas son verdaderas. Esta es una respuesta.  No va a ser un señal en el a ser muy pequeño sentimientos en su corazón, y ésta es una confirmación.  Estoy muy agradecida y feliz a estar aquí en la misión Mexico Monterrey Este, y yo sé que aquí es donde yo necesito estar. Les extraño mucho, todo ustedes..... pero yo puedo testificar que esta obra es muy importante y que Dios va a protegerme cada paso! Esta misión es muy difícil....lo más difícil en toda mi vida...pero es un honor a ver muchas milagros cada día y ver la mano del Señor en todos lados.   

i'll send more pics next week! #computerproblems love you all!

"and thou shalt open they mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing.  amen"  DyC 28:16

c o n  a m o r
hermana riches