December 07, 2015

Week 78: The Last With The "Sister- Status”

i couldn't leave Mexico without learning how to personally make flour tortillas-- family, get ready for some quality mexican cookin' 
Once upon a time in September 2013, a girl, sitting in her BYU Biology class, received the impression that she needed to serve a mission.  All through high school she didn’t think once about serving as a missionary, but the impression was so strong that she decided to study it out in her heart and mind and see if it was something she needed to do.  After numerous confirmations, she found herself awaiting her mission call in January, and 6 months later, found herself landing in Monterrey, Mexico, not having a clue of what was in store for her. 

Elder Leavitt and I bid our farewells

Here she is writing her last email as a missionary.  Many people these last few weeks have asked me lots of questions regarding how I feel, and I thought it would be best to dedicate this last blog post to posting various questions / answers to how I am feeling! 

What is the first thing you are going to do when you get home?
All I want to do is be with family and friends all day long!!!!  I honestly miss everyone soo much and I just crave quality time with everyone—more than anything, I gotta jam to music in the beloved white Honda with Jordan and Becca.  I want to download all the music that came out this past year and a half (i've listened to straight mormon tabernacle choir), DRIVE, go to the movie theater, eat mamariches chocolate chip cookies, and go PANT SHOPPING.  And take the longest hot water shower of my life.   

What was the hardest part about your mission?
Well obviously at the beginning, learning Spanish and adjusting to the culture was super difficult and it was quite a shock at the beginning feeling so lost and lonely!  But it was pretty amazing being able to speak and understand the language within about 6 weeks…..the gift of tongues is real people.  I think the hardest part is seeing people’s lives change, seeing them receive answers from God that this gospel is true, and seeing them so happy…..but in the end they choose not to accept this message/be baptized.  You grow to love the people so much, and when they don’t want to progress it kind of kills you inside.  Another hard part about the mission is you gotta leave everything behind and focus completely on the needs of other people and just go to work.  You feel this huge responsibility for all those you associate with. 


In what ways have you changed?
It´s hard to tell how I´ve changed!  You all will have to be the judge on that one haha.  I feel like yes there are things that have changed but at the same time I’m still the same Lindsay Riches that left!  I’ve found that I’ve been able to incorporate my personality into missionary work, and I havn’t had to change who I am to fit the title of being a missionary.  I feel like I have a stronger eternal perspective….I see more into the future and I consider the outcomes when making decisions.  I am more independent.  I have grown to loveeee studying the scriptures, church magazines, and church website lds.org hahaha!  Before the mission I really didn’t spend quality time reading the scriptures or studying church topics, but now it fascinates me to learn church doctrine.  I have learned sooo much.  And I am super excited to continue studying at BYU.  I have learned the importance of saying prayers in the morning and at night, and reading a little bit of the scriptures each day.  I will continue to do this.  I feel like I’m more patient, definitely more confident in what I believe, and I am much more motivated to help those who are battling in their testimonies / weak in their belief in God.  I have learned to just go with the flow and accept the timing of the Lord.   

If you could go back in time, would you change anything you did as a missionary?
Well no missionary is perfect, there are probably lots of times that I should’ve helped someone and I didn’t, that I should’ve been more diligent, patient, obedient, loving.  But I can honestly look back and say that I gave it my best.  I really became so focused on the work, the needs of the people, and I made sure to make the best use of my time every day.  I wrote in my journal every single day (WHICH MOST MISSIONARIES DON’T DO!  SO ALL YOU FUTURE MISSIONARIES……MAKE SURE YOU WRITE EVERYDAY!)  I feel happy with all I did as a missionary, and that is important because some missionaries go home with regrets / feeling like they wasted some of the important time as a missionary. 

\pancake / quesadilla / cupcake breakfast: mom- we put the birthday hats to use

What will you miss most?
I think just the humility of all the people is really impactful.  I will miss just the super strong spirit you feel all the time, the constant peace we share as we share this message of Jesus Christ, and seeing peoples’ lives change before my very eyes.  You just feel good all the time, and you feel so protected.  I didn´t feel scared or unsafe at all!  I will miss having people look at us as literal angels sent from God to help them.  I will miss speaking Spanish 24 /7!

What do you recommend to all those who are preparing to go on missions?
Stay worthy.  Don’t make stupid decisions that make you feel unworthy or guilty later on.  Read the whole Book of Mormon.  Don’t worry about knowing a lot about the scriptures or learning the new language beforehand…. You just gotta have the DESIRE, and the Lord will help you with the rest……Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work” DC 4:3

last lunch with mis amigos
  
What are your post-mission plans?
I’ll be at home for 3 weeks soakin’ up all I missed of California J and then the first week of January  I will be off at BYU to continue studying!  Partying it up with my bro and all my college friends I will be reunited with <3  I still don’t know what I want to major in…… The mission has helped me realize that I loveee to teach people, so I feel like something that involves: education, youth/teenagers, Spanish, psychology…. We will see!

What advice do you have for those who are still deciding if they want to serve a mission or not?
DO IT.  You will never ever ever regret it.  I repeat:  I had no desires to serve a mission!!! But I received so many impressions that I needed to, and I just followed through with faith, and every single day in the mission field I have recognized why I needed to go.  It’s been the best decision of my life.  I suggest you pray A LOT…ignore comments from others.  The decision is between you and God.  Read Doctrine and Covenants 4.  Read Conference talks.  And directly ask the Lord in prayer: Should I serve a mission?  You will receive your answer.
I know I will bombarded with questions when I go home, but hopefully this can give you all an idea of what I’m feeling right now!  Wow I feel like this whole mission has been a dream.  So much has happened, and I have learned so much.  I love my Savior.  I love this church.  I love this gospel.  I will never deny my testimony that I have of the Book of Mormon, The Plan of Salvation, our living day prophet, Thomas S Monson,  prayer, the priesthood power we have on earth today, and the list could go on. 

  gettin back to my bakin' skills

Today I am finishing all my packing (leaving behind basically ALL of my clothes haha my suitcases are filled with books, journals, and keepsake items) , tomorrow I will bear my testimony to about 100 missionaries and various invited church members, with the other 12 missionaries that are also going home.  And then all day on Tuesday we will be partying it up with Hermana Bird and Presidente, then Tuesday night us 3 hermanas spend the night at Presidente’s house and Wednesday morning at 10:00 am I will be reunited with my parents at the mission offices and give them the longest hug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The next 3 days I will be taking them around to all the areas I have served in, eating lots of food and spending quality time with all the people I have grown to love here (being the official translator for mom and dad haha), and then Saturday  Dec 12, we will be landing in San Fransisco airport around 1:00 pm.  I Hope to be able to hug you all on Saturday and cry with happiness!  I will be speaking in Church on December 20th and then in the Spanish ward December 27th if you want to hear me in Spanish! (More Deets on Facebook)

I have had many opportunities to travel the world, but no vacation has compared to what I´ve felt and experienced serving as a full time missionary.  I didn´t come to Mexico to sight see, I came to help others find eternal happiness.  And through doing that, I discovered within myself a whole new source of joy: Living the gospel and trusting in My Savior Jesus Christ.


I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 1 Timothy 4:7

Blessed art thou, {HermanaRiches} for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. Helaman 10:4

My heart is filled.  I am so happy and grateful for this gospel in my life.  Now it's time to begin what the Lord has prepared waiting for me at Home.

Adios Blog-life, hello Facebook. 

 C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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November 30, 2015

Week 77: SEE YÁLL NEXT WEEK!

  Mi hermanita Grecia yesterday at her baptism

Well it is official:  in one week, 7 days, i will be able to hug my dear parents, give them an hermana riches tour of la cultura mexicana, and head home to start the post-mish chapter of my life.  I am just filled with so much happiness and excitement, and I know that reuniting with all of you will be one of the biggest joys I have ever experienced in my whole life!!!!!!!!!! Distance makes the love grow stronger <3 wow i am just so excited hahah but more than anything i just wanna give it my all this week and talk to everyyyy single person that crosses my path.  and to make it even better, we are officially in christmas season.  Next week for my last post i am going to highlight more in detail how these 18 months have changed my life, but right now i wanna talk about the fabulous sunday we had yesterday.
  we have fun in this ward

It all started with a phone call at 9:40am sunday morning- we were walking into the chapel, and i recieved the news that I would be giving a talk that morning in sacrament meeting on whatever topic i wanted.  Normally I don't get too nervous or stressed talking / teaching because that is what you do 24 / 7 as a missionary, but i actually was pretty nervous!  not for the spanish because i got that down ;) but more than anything, i had to think about how i wanted to capture all my mission experience into just 10 minutes-- with only 15 minutes to prepare the whole thing.  Let me tell you, the spirit totally guided my words and it was awesome!  It also helped me figure out what i want to say to you all in my talk when i come home :)  talks: Dec 20 in english and Dec 27 in spanish!! hope you all can come!!  I talked about the joy i have been able to experience as a missionary as i have viewed the world through Christ's eyes and as i have developed a stronger testimony of His atonement.  I don't wanna give too many details because you all will have to wait for my talk :) warning:  it is going to be so weird for me to give a talk in english haha!
  Grecia's fam

Grecia's baptism was perfect!  She was so excited and nervous and she invited about 10 family members which was so awesome.  They all had tears as they felt the peace during this baptismal service.  Us and the young women sang "Hija de un Rey" "Daughter of a King" which was so gorgeous!  Grecia got to say a few words at the end, and she told her story of how it all started with her interest of downloading el libro de mormon on her tablet.  She knew nothing about our church, but saw it as good literature to read.  She read it for about a month and on October 30 prayed to God wanting to find the missionaries so she could go to church.  Literally on Oct 31 we walk down her street, rocking our pumpkinlight up necklaces haha, and she hollers to us QUIERO IR A SU IGLESIA....I WANT TO GO TO YOUR CHURCH..... She went to church the next day, and 5 sundays later she got baptized.  Pure miracle.  And on halloween we happened to be fasting to find new investigadores!  Wow the Lord really directed us to her.  She is such an inspiration to everyone.  She absolutely loves the story of Joseph Smith, and has totally integrated herself with all the young women and its just amazing that her prayer with faith changed her life in such a drastic way. 




This church is true, and I feel so blessed to have this knowledge in my life.  


Us missionaries also got to teach half the primary which was interesting hahaha 



After the baptismal service we all went to her grandma's house to celebrate her birthday!  It was so fun to gather all together-- Grecia is our litter hermanita <3

Well the weather is cold.  I am just moving forward with strength as i ignore all the aches in my body haha and just keeping my mind focused until the end!  It's also starting to hit me that I probably will never be able to eat tortillas, rice, or beans EVER again after the mission.... hahah  also you have no idea how ready i am to break this "18 month fast" of not eating baked goods-- mom get the kitchen ready :)  


This sunday I have my "going home" interview with Pres Bird at 4:30pm....prettty sure i'm the last missionary to be interviewed!  

California....we will soon be reunited.
Love you all more than you knowwww!! I am beyond grateful for all the letters and support i have recieved here in mexico. 



 Until next monday <3

CON  A M O R
hermana riches

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November 24, 2015

Week 76: The Final Stretch

 more pics from womens conference
  trip to the center of Monterrey last week

 

Well another week has passed.  As Jordan's last email said-- IT'S OFFICIALLY THE FINAL STRETCH.  I'm kind of speechless.  I don't know how to put into words how i feel.  I can't wrap my head around the fact that i come home so soon :)  Nevertheless, the work continues to move forward.  

  us with Grecia and a 15 year old in our ward, Samantha

Yesterday Grecia, 14 years old, passed her baptismal interview and this sundayshe will be baptized.  She is a straight up miracle!  And it has been such a smooth ride up until this point. Her mom works all the time, but we met with her to really explain what we have been teaching her daughter and how she wants to be baptized, and she is totally supportive!  She is a catholic bible teacher and yet she is very happy with Grecia's decision to really follow Jesus Christ.  Usually when we teach teenagers it is hard getting the full approval from the parents, but Grecia honestly has all the family support.  She amazes me- she goes all by herself to church and truly took iniciative to find out more about our church and make these changes in her life.  Sunday should be a great day!
Alma Herrada

 La Familia Herrada, my favorite family.  What can i say....this family when we first met them:  the parents had started their own church congregation in another state, give their neighbors bible studies, hardcore Jesus followers, and didn't want to even touch El Libro de Mormon.  Now:  the mom and her 3 kids absolutely love going to church, have recieved almost every lesson, and the biggest miracle of all, literally defend El Libro de Mormon and bear testimony that it is changing their lives.  WIth tears in her eyes, Alma tells us how much of a blessing we have been in her life and how she never thought she could grow to love another book of scripture other than the bible.  However, every fairytale has its villain.  Our hopes and faith came crashing down this week when the husband literally told us that he doesnt want his family getting baptized.  He really can't accept Jose Smith or El Libro de Mormon.  We had a 2 hour heated discussion with the 5 members of this family and a member who came to accompany us, and it was super sad watching the 3 kids and wife all protesting against the husband's point of view, and it's just hard because they have progressed so much and he just has his blinders up.  Not to mention, literally half the ward has helped us out with this family haha!  Oh man, but the plus side is that he still is super friendly to us, lets us come, and lets his fam attend church.  Change is just scary for him.  Although I won't see this family get baptized, I know without a doubt that day will come, and that I will make sure to return to Monterrey when they enter the temple to be sealed as an eternal family.  As a missionary, i have had to accept lots of times that I am the one PLANTING the seeds, and that I won't be able to see ALL the fruits of my labors.

  the blondies reunited


the weather continues to be bipolar-- the winter is arriving AKA sweatpants-under-the-skirt weather.  




I will be thinking of you all this thursday enjoying your turkey and pumpkin pie </3 I told a woman in my ward about our custom of eating pumpkin pie and she told me she is going to search for a recipe on the internet and try and make it hahaha we will see how this turns out!  LOVE YOU ALL SEE YOU SOON!!!



C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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November 19, 2015

Week 75: "Filling our Homes with Light and Truth”

  Us with the wife of an area 70, Elder Piper, and Sister Linda K Burton, General Relief Society Pres for the church

Ok I truly don´t have enough time to explain all the wonderful details of this weekend!!  For the first time out of Utah, the church decided to hold a regional women´s conference, and Monterrey was lucky enough to be the chosen location.  The theme was ¨llenar nuestros hogares con luz y verdad¨ ¨Filling our homes with light and truth¨ and Sister Linda K Burton, General Relief Society President for the Church, was the main speaker at this 2 day conference.  But let me first begin by saying how much of an honor it was to have her attend my ward on Sunday!!  Out of all the wards in the state of Nuevo Leon, she and a few other area 70s chose our ward to attend.  Our ward mission leader called my companion and I Sunday morning at 8am, and invited us to the 9amward council where Sister Burton was present, and so us 2 literally got to participate in a council with all the ward leaders, stake president, area 70s, and Sister Linda K Burton with her translator.  I got to talk to her after the council, give her a hug, and tell her all about how much I have loved serving in Mexico.  She told me how great it will be for me to return home to my family for Christmas, and she thanked me for deciding to serve a fulltime mission, dedicating this time to helping the lovely people of Mexico.    My companion practiced her English to her as well haha J Sister Burton even wanted to take a photo with us 2 on her iphone—so we are probably already famous on her facebook ;) she gave a talk in our sacrament meeting- she had a translator translate after every sentence // I totally wish I could have translated haha!—and wow it was really powerful sitting 2nd row and just feeling this pure spirit she brings.  She talked about how taking the sacrament should be a GIFT in our lives, and how we should be forever grateful for Christ’s atoning sacrifice.  
  at church with Sister Burton

  on the way to womens conference-- life is good.

 the "hermana Riches Family Tree"-- my "daughter" hermana Flores with her "daughter" hermana she trained and my other "daughter" hermana quispitupac
She also spoke to the relief society and literally every woman swarmed to get a photo with her haha!  Hermana Bird stayed with us for relief society, and really it was so neat having Sister Burton talk to all us women.  She talked to us all about constantly looking for ways to invite others to come unto Christ—she had us 2 hermanas stand up and recite our missionary purpose, and then said that it doesn’t matter if we have a missionary tag or not—we are ALL involved in Christ’s work.  With tears in her eyes she expressed the love she has for all of us.  Seriously it was so sweet having her come to our ward!!  I can now say that I am friends with the general relief society pres haha :)
 about half of us sister missionaries with Pres and Hna Bird

Sunday night and all day Monday we had a women’s conference with about 4,000 women from Monterrey.  I am so grateful I got to participate in this towards the end of my mission because I got to see ALL my sister missionary friends, and every minute I was running into a woman I knew from past wards I have been in.  I have never received so many hugs and cheek kisses in my whole life haha!  Wow I have made so many friends here—I am so grateful for all the wonderful women I have grown to love here in Monterrey.  I was so happy all day being able to reunite with all of them….PS the conference was held at the hotel we are staying at mom and dad!  Entering the lobby made me super excited for your arrival J  So many great speakers at this conference, talking about the powerful role we have as women in the community and in the home. To end the conference they put on a 2 hour cultural show where dancers danced all the traditional Mexican dances, and they showed a video portraying all the touristic sights of Monterrey—I definitely need to come back and actually see all of what Monterrey has to offer haha! But yeah—I just felt super enlightened after listening to each inspired woman speak about the importance of having Christ be the center of our lives.  As I end my mission, I can’t help but look forward to the future with excitement, thinking of how I am going to put EVERYTHING into practice that I have learned and experienced this past year and a half.  I feel like a whole new chapter / journey of my life will begin the moment I set foot in the San Francisco Airport.
  my dear Brazilian Sista, hermana Soussa

  workin' the heels after a 18 solid months..... i got lots of practicing to do hahah


For all you ladies….you NEED to go right now and read this talk ----- https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng
lunch at carl's junior with some women in my ward


  us with Hna Bird and the wife of the Mission Pres of the Monterrey West mission
My heart is full of gratitude for this gospel in my life.  I needed this mission experience to really grow and personally discover that this gospel really does bless families, really does give us eternal happiness, and if this really is the path that leads us back to our Heavenly Father.  He lives.  I know it.  And I will forever feel joy in my heart for all the lives that have touched me here, that have shown me that it IS possible to escape deep pits of darkness through faith in Jesus Christ.
  once again reunited with Estefania

 
My mini testimony in Spanish.
Sé con todo mi corazón que hoy en día tenemos la plenitud del evangelio de Jesucristo sobre la tierra.  Sé que el camino hacia la vida eterna no es fácil, pero tenemos las herramientas para poder hacerlo con la ayuda de Él, la ayuda de nuestro Salvador Jesucristo.  Él nos ama.  Cada uno de nosotros tenemos debilidades, pero gracias a la expiación, el sacrificio infinito de nuestro Redentor, nuestras debilidades y fracasos pueden convertirse en fortalezas y experiencias de aprendizaje.  Sé que El Libro de Mormón es la palabra de Dios, que un profeta lo tradujo para que nosotros ahora podamos tener esta guía esencial en nuestras vidas.  No hay otro libro más correcto sobre la tierra.  Sé que ahora hay muchos ataques en contra de las familias, pero la mejor armadura que tenemos es este evangelio, la oración, los mandamientos, y los consejos de nuestros profetas vivientes.  Si vivimos de acuerdo con las enseñanzas de Jesucristo, no vamos a ser perdidos.  Vamos a tener esta eterna luz en nuestras vidas.  Puedo ver la obscuridad en los ojos de las personas aquí en Monterrey que no tienen este conocimiento ni relación con Dios, y he podido ver el hermoso cambio en sus corazones cuando la expiación toma efecto en ellos y les ayuda a recibir este perdón y consuelo.  Esta obscuridad siempre puede ser reemplazada con gozo y luz través del amor de Dios.  Amo a las personas aquí en Monterrey. Amo ser representante de  Jesucristo.  Sé que esta es la iglesia verdadera.  En el Nombre de Jesucristo amen.  
 MY "3 WEEKS UNTIL I SEE MY FAMILY" FACE


C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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November 15, 2015

Week 74: The Right Place at the Right Time

  Deluxe Macdonalds Pancake Breakfast with Pres Bird and the ladies

Well a new week has begun as well as the cold weather.  The tights and winter coat have been put to use.  Well this weekend we had a wonderful stake conference-- i got to sit next to my lovely Estefania and say hello to many friends from my old areas Miguel Aleman and America.  It was sweet because the stake president knows me, as I have been in the same stake for 10 months, and when he found out I only have a month left, he came up to me and shook my hand and thanked me for all the hard work and dedication i have put into the 3 wards here in "la estaca libertad"-- he is a grand example of humility and always has tears in his eyes when bearing his testimony.  It's interesting how the people I have had casual contact with here have had a grand influence on my life.
  my chapel, brand new

So the exciting news for the week:  This upcoming weekend a women's conference is being held for the whole state of Nuevo Leon (the state i am currently in here in Mexico) and it is being held this sunday 6pm-9pm and all day monday- and us sister missionaries have special permission to attend all of it!  it is being held in a huge convention center, and women had to sign up online months ago to get a spot in this conference.  Many guest speakers are coming, including the general primary president and the general relief society president!!  It is getting lots of attention and it really should be a great experience-
now onto the even more exciting part.  so out of ALL the wards in Nuevo Leon, the general Primary President and General Relief Society President of the church along with other general authorities have selected OUR ward, Bosques de San Miguel, to attend this sunday's sacrament meeting.  This is a huge deal!!  They will be speaking and planning a special program for us-- but yeah i literally will have the opportunity to play the piano for general authorities haha it is going to be so awesome!  I have definately been put in the right place at the right time. It's so funny- all the women in my ward have come up to me and told me that i will be their personal translators when they go up to talk to the general primary president and general relief society president. The whole ward is excited and Pres Bird and Hna Bird will also be in attendance.  The Lord has blessed me with many special opportunities here in Mexico.


So last week we searched for all new investigadores, really praying to the Lord to place "ready" people in our path.  On halloween night, we decided to walk down a street, and a 14 year old girl came running up to us saying "Quiero ir a su iglesia!" Ï want to go to your church!  Surprised, we smiled and laughed and asked her how she knew who we were.  She told us she had downloaded El Libro de Mormon on her tablet after seeing the title on some top rated book's list, and she began reading a month ago and that she ran into the elders but they never passed us on her address.  She expressed how happy she was to see us, and her mom was standing right next to her and said she could drop her off at church the next morning.  So sure enough we saw Grecia at church the next morning, and yesterday was her 2nd time at church and is planned to be baptized Nov 29.  SHe is a miracle and answer to our prayers!  Literally placed in our path.  The Lord has prepared her to recieve this message and she is so independant and just knows in her heart the Book of Mormon is true.  We were definitely put in the Right place at the right time on Halloween night.

La Familia Herrada, my special family of 5, keep progressing!  pray for them :)

this wednesday we have interviews with Pres Bird, and I will write you all the following wednesday due to the womens conf next monday!  love you all!  

C O N  A M O R 
hermana riches

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