May 30, 2015

Week 50: Expect the Unexpected

                   

FIRST SHOUT OUT TO GRAMMY BREDT AND YOUR AMAZING GINGER SNAP COOKIES :) 

Expect the unexpected.  Wow this week was pure exhaustion.  These 7 days felt like one long dream.  First, I''ll give you all a little run down on my little area here ämerica".  It's one of the top "nicest, wealthiest"areas in the mish, pretty small ward with not a ton of youth. Once again, I am the ward pianist haha i really wanna teach some members here how to play the piano!  We have a giant grocery store that sells legit DIET COKE...from the states....so i am happy.  there's subway, carls junior, pizza hut--- this week i had my FIRST salad in a member's home after a YEAR...highlight for sure hahaha.  I now understand why this area is called ämerica".  It's pretty tranquilo here...not a whole lot of karaoke seshes or loud parties in the street haha.  This area is very low in baptisms so we have lots of work to do.  I'm so close to Miguel Aleman and Sada Vidrio that I have already seen familiar faces and friends that I havn't seen for months!
                      

Life alongside the assistants is pretty great-- now when i see "los asistentes" calling us on our phone i know it is because they wanna know where we are eating the following day and not because I have "done something wrong and need an interview with presidente" hahah.  This week i had my first 2 intercambios as an hermana lider-- i got to go work with HERMANA FLORES AGAIN WOOHOO!!!! and 2 of our investigadores are getting baptized this sundayso i will get to go to miguel aleman for that!  and i also worked with hermana alonzo..... i love switching companions 2 times each week!  i am learning so much and really getting familiar with the map of my area without the help of my companion, hermana guillen hahah.
  our intercambioThis week has been insane as a companionship has moved in with us.  They had apartment issues so have been camping over here until they find another house to rent-- having 4 hermanas in one house results in clothes, food, and study materials all over the place, in addition to serious lack of sleep and limited opportunities to get a 5 minute shower in.  I have had a nonstop headache i am sooo tired--- but it definitely has been a constant slumber party.
              
SO many amazing experiences this week.  First off:  funny story.  One day during lunch i was asked by an 11 year old, Denise, if I preferred One Direction or Justin Bieber-- obviously there was no debate in my mind when i replied "justin bieber"  the next day Denise stops by the house at night and hands me a justin bieber coloring book and a handmade magazine cut out booklet that says "hermana riches + hermano bieber".  I have already colored a pic of justin bieber for an hermana who got "dear jane-d" by her boyfriend-- it's been put to good use.  A true friendship has been formed here in America with Denise.
               
La Familia Lara-- an elderly man and his daughter about 50 years old are both handicapped in wheel chairs with serious health problems.  Nevertheless, they are some of the smartest people regarding church topics i have ever met.  They spend all day inside, reading their scriptures, hymn books, and every church book you can think of.  The fact that they can barely move their hands doesn't limit them.  Last sunday morning hermana guillen felt the impression to visit them before church.  We arrived and found Nina the daughter laying in bed, wanting to go to church.  Normally her brother comes to change her and get her ready, but he had not come.  So we were invited to face the task of dressing her, feeding her, and getting her ready to go in her wheel chair.  At this point, we were pushed for time as we had to pass for 5 investigadores to take them to church, and we knew we weren't going to be able to make it.  But We had to help Nina.  It was an unforgettable experience- a little disturbing and sad i might add-- as it was a first time experience changing an adult diaper, feeding her by band, and lifting her inactive body into the wheel chair.  Pushing her along the street to church, we arrived seeing all 5 of our investigadores in the church entrance.  I knew that our prayers had been answered, and that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God" Mosiah 2:17
Our apartment
We met for the first time an inactive 25 year old girl-- Nayeli-- who has serioussss problems-- drug addict, had her first child at 14 years old, and in n out of rehab-- and this week i had one of the most powerful experiences.  I shared a few scriptures with her...alma 36:3, 16-21.... and she was left speechless, feeling an undeniable peace in her heart.  Afterwards she offered a prayer, pleading to God to forgive her of all the mistakes she has made, just balling.  It was truly a sight witnessing somone's desire to change.  Yesterday she went to church with us for the first time in years.  Her dark countenance has transformed into a glow.
             
Yesterday the elderes had a baptism-- 19 years old Estefania.  Such a cool girl.  I had the opportunity to give a little message on the holy ghost at her baptism, and us 4 missionaries sang I'm Trying to Be LIke Jesus.  Her parents both died within the last 5 years, and i know that she will one day see and live with them again.  She said that her life has been changed from reading El Libro de Mormon...I truly know it changes lives.
                
One last high light:  We are teaching a couple who are your "Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes" of monterrey.  They literally pull up to church in his full out motorcycle, leather outfits with spikes and all.  It was quite the sight sitting up at the piano and looking down at them in the congregation wearing their aviators and leather gloves.

LIFE IS GOOD.  I'M EXHAUSTED.  SEEING MIRACLES EVERYDAY.  
this church is true.

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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May 23, 2015

Week 49: America The Beautiful

WHERE TO BEGIN.  Transfer week has been loco!!  Monday i said goodbye to all the dear members and investigadores in miguel aleman...they all hugged me with tears in their eyes and it made me reflect on the powerful relationships I have formed here.  Tuesday morning 100 of us missionaries eagerly waited to hear our "cambios"...as i am elected "mission pianist" haha as i heard my name be called, i stood up at the piano bench and heard the words Ën America 1.2 está Hna Guillen, y su nueva compañera será hna Riches y es una hermana líder" 
us hermanas who had cambios this week.
FIRST OFF.  yes, really, my ward is named ämerica"....and yes it makes me a bit homesick haha.  Hna Guillen and I will definitely make it a "party in the USA".  2ND Sada Vidrio, miguel aleman, and america....the areas I've served in.... are literally all next to each other haha!  and they all border the mission offices so i havn't had much of a "scenery change" here in the mission.  Presidente definitely wants to keep the blonde hermana safe and secure by the mission offices so don't worry mom and dad haha!  and 3RD.  I'm still in the same zone and stake so i get to see hermana flores and all my zone friends each tuesday for zone meetings :)  

ok now i shall explain my "leadership responsibilities".  Here in the mission there are about 40 hermanas, and there are 6 "hermana leaders".  (3 companionships).  that are each in charge of 10 hermanas (5 companionships) and i've been selected as one of these 6 hermanas!  some of our responsibilities include:

- each night we call 2 companionships to see how theyre day went, how we can help motivate them, etc.
- each tuesday and friday we go on ïntercambios" where we switch companions for 24 hours and give the companionship feedback..  tomorrow i will go work with another hermana in another area while my companion is here in america and then on wednesday we will meet back up again!  then we inform president how the intercambios went and how the hermanas are doing.
-  every month we have a conference with all the zone leaders, pres bird to go over mission topics and make decisions/ changes. new goals, etc.

I feel honored with this calling but i also know it is going to be super busy and a bit stressful!  

my new companion is HNA GUILLEN....20 years old from baja california.  She goes home in september and got baptized just 4 years ago!  again i'm glad to be speaking spanish 24/7 :) she is pretty quiet, such a sweetheart full of love and humility.  We are different on all levels haha but i know i am going to grow and learn so much being her companion.
We are in the same ward as the assistants to pres bird!  It's pretty awesome being with them..... we get the full inside scoop on it all haha!  Elder Aguila is from mexico city and recently called assistant elder cook from idaho...ok funny story.  I met elder cook 5 years ago at a byu summer camp and we've been facebook friends since then-- pretty small world that i'm now in the same ward as Elder Braydon Cook haha!  we eat with them every day unless they have "super important plans with presidente" haha. 


This past week we had 2 FANTASTIC conferences with an area 70 elder ortiz.  On friday we met with half the mission....SO GREAT TO SEE ALL MY FRIENDS :) it was awesome because normally we focus everything on our investigadores but this conference was focused on US and what we are currently doing in our mission to prepare for our futures.  It's pretty easy to say that marriage is drilled into your head as a missionary hahaha!  It made me reflect so much on the personal progress i've had here as a missionary and person.  Long story short.  SUPER POWERFUL CONFERENCE!.....all in spanish ;)

On saturday we had a special conference with the 20 zone leaders, 6 hermana leaders, pres and hna bird, and Elder Ortiz and his wife.  So Fantastic.  Completely opened my eyes to the essence of leadership.  We focused on a talk by Pres Spencer W Kimball called "Jesus:  The perfect leader" 1983....

inorder to be a successful leader like jesus you need to:

1.  know who you are, your purpose, and be constant in your personality and actions
2.  understand and love those around you
3.  be self sacrificing
4.  trust in the abilities of your followers-- help them progress
5.  make good use of your time
6.  take responsibility of all your thoughts and actions
7.  take advantage of all opportunities around you-- recognize your potential

LITERALLY SO MUCH i wanna share but not enough time!  i feel a bit of pressure being one of these leaders in the mission, but I know i am going to adapt lots more qualities and really lose myself in this work. haha saturday i had to give a 5  min spiritual thought on the spot in front of all these leaders!  It went well!  it's gunna be awesome working alongside all the zone leaders and getting to know the hermanas more.

Well next week i will give ya'll the update on my area and my companion!  I've worked here in america quite a few times during intercambios in the past, so some faces and streets are familiar.  Every new area i get the same reaction:  "Hna Paris Hilton!" "Hna Britney Spears!" "Hna Barbie" hahaha i don't know if i should feel flattered or not......

LOVE YOU ALL.  TALK TO YOU NEXT MONDAY.
sorry if i didn't reply to some emails! pushed for time!

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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May 17, 2015

Week 48: What Would We Do Without Technology....


can I just begin by saying how grateful I am for technology.....yesterday I had the privilege to SKYPE A LA FAMILIA!!! my last skype call as a missionary.  I will give you all the rundown how it went.  First off-- I didn't cry into my hands the moment I saw my family like at Christmas haha :)  The first few comments from mom, dad, jordan, and becca were the following:  ÿou look so great honey!  You just glow linz! (probably due to the large amount of sweat running down my face...)  you have a weird accent, and look at our new dog!!  I felt like i was sitting right there with you guys-- laughing our heads off and getting caught up on all that's happening at home-- BECCA TURNING 15 THIS WEEK **cue TSwift**, Jordan asking Leah to prom with legit fireworks, and mom and dad caring for their "newborn" Sadie.  Words don't describe how much I miss you guys.  Dad was even throwing around some spanish with la familia ramirez ;)  but yes, i'm doing great here-- happy, sunburnt, and living life to the fullest with my homies here in monterrey.  I'll be able to hug you all in 7 short months :)
I'll miss this ward
Well-- the news has come in.  My 12 short weeks here with hermana flores in miguel aleman have come to an end.  I'm being TRANSFERRED and tomorrow I'm getting my new compañera  and new area.  I have to say I'm pretty bummed.  We have seen so much progress here, and now I have to leave these dear people that have changed my life.  Yesterday we had 8 investigadores at church, and 3 less actives come for the first time in a while.  I know they are all in good hands with hermana flores :)  
the monterrey rival futbol jerseys have officially been bought
Hermana flores has been the best.  23 years old from Mexico D. F., has been a member of this church all her life but went inactive for 2 years-- a year ago she decided to change her life around and prepare for a mission.  Her smile and positive vibes are contageous.  We share lots in common, such as.....#BieberFever, understands my love for Chris Brown music, and has a solid desire to help those around her.  I will miss listening to her belt into the showerhead, listening to her powerful personal conversion, and watching her grow and enjoy her first few weeks as a missionary.  I know we will be friends for life.
#naturalbeauty
Well I have loved this area-- so different from Sada Vidrio which I absolutely loved and miss so much-- but I know that everywhere we go and everyone we meet is for a specific reason.  This week we had a few top notch experiences.  We decided to give Gloria and Humberto their own hymn books and a GIANT libro de mormon in large print that they sell at the temple because she can't read the tiny print haha-- literally when they recieved these books it was like watching little kids open gifts on christmas morning.  Their happiness exploded- and Gloria just started to cry with gratitude and appreciation.  I even started to cry because I love them so much!  It was one of the sweetest expereiences I've had on my mission.  I know they will get baptized in the next month.  Another weekly highlight was Vero and Nelson both went to church! this week we gave them libros de mormon, and that night they both read the first 20 pages and the next day told us how much they loved it!  I am going to miss them so much and know they will get baptized soon as well.  
  Humberto who i will miss so much!!
Some of the people that have impacted me here in miguel aleman:

Hna Francisca:  calling and checking up on us each afternoon as well as dropping off cake at night
Hna Gaby de Sanchez:  her bling bling acryllic nails and always giving us a gourmet meal when a meal falls through
hna Blanquita (70 + years old):  dancing for us in her kitchen as she explains it is a "great form of exercise" and giving us blunt marriage advice
Bishop and mama Pati:  being wonderful neighbors and always making sure we had hot water
marco, Isac, Carlos-- our 18 year old bros who made sure to keep us "cool" 
hna Alondra:  the sassy pairs of earrings she gave us
Hna Pilar:  Her delicious homemade pies and million hugs from her little girls
La Familia Robles:  teaching them how to make mamariches chocolate chip cookies
la familia aguilar:  homemade cheesecake pies and Edwort's bautismo
Ignacio:  His transformation through the gospel
Paloma:  our amusing conversations about pre-mission life
Hno Dante and Marielena:  their strong testimonies and always willing to take us places in their big van
the sweet young women's desires to serve missions

and SO MUCH MORE!!!
they make us feel cool hahah
I had the privilege to see 2 baptisms here (Isac and Edwort...yes his name is really spelled like that haha) which I know are future missionaries, and now it is time to meet more people, have more experiences, and grow more as a person.  I'LL LET YOU KNOW NEXT WEEK WHAT HAPPENS :)
Our friend Carlos

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


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May 10, 2015

Week 47: MAY I say that time is flying by

  Gloria....set for baptism!
Yesterday we ate tamales filled with deer meat-- i pictured the deer prancing in our yard at home hahaha it actually tasted pretty good!  #sorryBambi

Well here we are one week down in Mayo!  Many experiences to report and so little time....first i wanna say to the fam:  THIS SUNDAY AT 4:45PM MY TIME I WILL BE ONLINE TO SKYPE!!!! just a bit excited.
My district 
"While sin inevitably leads us away from God, weakness, ironically, can lead us toward him"

I've been thinking a lot this week: El Evangelio cambia las vidas de las personas....this gospel changes people's lives.  I have witnessed depressed people find happiness, confused people find clarity, lonely people establish friendships, and powerful addictions be overcome.  At times, the ONLY motivation i have to keep going as a missionary is my love for these people and the surety in my heart that what i'm sharing is true, and to know that their salvation literally rests on my shoulders haha!  A few weeks ago we were knocking on a door, and a little boy came up to us and asked for a pass along card.  His dad followed behind and asked who we were, later mentioning to us his desire to follow christ and overcome an alcohol addiction that has effected his health and family relations.  The next day we visited Him, Nelson, His wife, Vero, and their two little boys.

Nelson and Vero are what we call "tomates rojos"....those prepared to recieve our message.  Nelson had a mormon friend growing up and always admired his standards, but overtime has lost contact with this friend.  Him and Vero have this strong desire to recieve an answer from God that our message is true.  Vero and her boys went to church with us this sunday and loved it-- felt much peace and happiness.  I brought my colored pencils for the boys to color with to keep them distracted slash quiet during church haha and as a result i now have destroyed scripture marking pencils!  But hey now I have masterpieces drawn by a 5 and 7 year old.  Nelson has been hesitant about going to church because he feels pressured to wear a "white shirt and tie"....they live by very humble means.  But we have explained over and over again that attire is not important.  On monday we brought with us a recent convert...Ignacio who got baptized in december...to bear his testimony of how this gospel has drastically changed his life.  He's 40 years old, and 8 months ago he was getting drunk every night, depressed, and questioned whether it was even worth living.  2 hermanas changed his life as he began to find purpose, love of God, and liberation from addiction and guilt.  As we continue to meet with Ignacio it amazes me how his life literally has turned 180 degrees, and now he is a perfect friend and inspiration for Nelson.  This week some men in the ward are getting Nelson involved with a church program to overcome addictions.  Although I have never had to dealt with an addiction, I know and have witnessed that God has the power to help anyone through this struggle.  I love this family with all my heart, and I know Vero and Nelson were placed in our path for a reason.  I can't wait to see how they progress.
  Humberto...set for baptism!

"But i do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is more full because of the success of my brethren...now when i think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy  alma 29: 14 

Us 4 in my ward.... i love them
Today we went to el templo, and this sunday we get transfer calls!! I'm about to end my 2nd cambio with hna flores in miguel almena....these 12 weeks training her have been a blast--- i can't explain how much i love this girl and how many crazy experiences we have had hahaha i do NOT wanna get transferred!!!! so we shall see sunday.  
My zone


tomorrow night we have a church activity for mother's day, and now we are off to go make waffles, pancakes, and french toast with the zone....which i havn't had for basically a year!!!  I LOVE YOU FAM AND CANT WAIT TO SEE YOU ON SUNDAY...and i will email on monday or tuesday depending if i get transferred or not!

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things  Corinthians 13:7

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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May 03, 2015

Week 46: ¡¿ Ke Tranza Amigos?!

¡¡¿¿ Ke Tranza Amigos??!! What's happenin' friends??? -- practicing my mexico city slang gracias a Hna Flores.... who says Hola by the way-- First big shout out to mamariches for your amazing packages. AND SHOUT OUT TO THE NEW FAMILY MEMBER SADIE.....i can see that my family has finally replaced me with a dog. Can't wait to see my beautiful fam through the computer screen in 13 days!!! :)  
I love her
this week we spent some time with our dear friend Hidai...18 years old and recently baptized....she went with us to visit investigadores and experience la vida misional.  We naturally had to have a sister missionary photoshoot with her bicicleta- only a couple areas here in the mish use bikes (the elders in Juarez and China, far away ranch land areas).  Hidai is such an awesome girl-- we had a typical ladies'afternoon full of laughter, bonding, and helping her solve boy problems-- I've become quite the psychiatrist here in the mission.
  keepin' it gangster

this week was full of conferences, one being our zone conference with Pres. Bird.  I wanna take a few moments and share some funny interesting tid bits about my mission president.  We only see Pres Bird about every 6 weeks....1 transfer (6 weeks) we have personal interviews with him and then the next transfer we have our zone conf.  Each monday he sends out a general email to all us missionaries- things we should be focusing on, mission goals, upcoming events, and then we respond updating him on our investigadores, areas, personal needs, etc.  Pres Larry C Bird is awesome.  Everyday he wears his yellow smiley face pin on his blazer.  He's from Los Angeles, California-- his #CALIPRIDE is unreal.  If you are from california, you are automatically his favorite haha.  One conference he brought up how the best burger place in the world is IN N OUT because it started in the golden state of california.....another conference he fit in an example using his all time favorite player for the Lakers...Larry Bird...who happens to have the same name as him haha.  He LOVES the Lakers.  We have a San Fran/LA rivarly goin' on.  There's quite a few elders here from SO CAL, and when I'm talking to one of them, he'll go up to them and say "oh man, you can't deal with these blondes from the Bay Area" hahaha.  All his conferences / emails are in spanish (he served in Uruguay) but he's always throwing around side jokes in english.  During this week's conference, an elder from SoCal made a joking comment, and Pres Bird straight up replied:  DUDE!  You're givin' california a bad name" hahaha.  Pres Bird is hilarious and super chill-- but at the same time very strict and stern about the mission rules and how we behave as missionaries.  His wife is the sweetest.  She doesn't speak really any spanish so us missionaries translate for her.  I automatically love her because during conferences she's always got a can of coca light sitting on her desk-- and Pres Bird will casually grab it and take a couple sips (just like you dad with mom's diet coke haha :) )  Every missionary comments on how they want a marriage just like Pres Bird and Hna Bird-- Pres talks about his wife, and then begins to tear up. I could go on and on about them....they really are awesome.  I will apply these councils from Pres Bird for the rest of my life. I know that he is my mission Pres for a special reason (Mom and Dad... you will love them when you meet them in December :) )

zone conf:

So much was learned, but an overall theme was the importance of not judging others and forgiving those that have wronged you.  I highly recommend that you all read this talk below on forgiveness and charity:



We also talked about the process of forming/ breaking habits.

1.  Make the decision
2.  don't allow exceptions
3.  tell others about your goal so they can help you
4.  visualize yourself doing this habit
5.  come up with a phrase that you can repeat in your head when you feel weak
6.  be determined to stay strong
7.  come up with an end reward to help motivate you

I know that this formula can help us overcome our bad habits, weaknesses, and addictions and help create good habits

We also had stake conference this weekend, and Pres Bird spoke about the importance of members and missionaries working together.  This conference was really great-- an area 70 spoke as well as the temple president.  lots of emphasis on the family and truly keeping the sabbath day holy, and not just having a TEMPORAL perspective but an ETERNAL perspective.


Wish I had more time to write-- wanna end by saying that CASUALTIES DO NOT EXIST....EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON--- talk to yáll next thursday after we go to the temple!  May 7th


C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


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