June 30, 2015

Week 55: How to Kill a Cockroach

my comp and our golden investigadora / futura misionera, Yaretzi
Well folks I am here with the update on my new compañera!  Hna Espinosa is from the Dominican Republic....tiny island off of central america.  She is a hard worker, a little shy and serious but I know that with time she will open up.  We go home on the same day in December so we shall be counting down together :)  (161 ;)  our bonding activities have been figuring out how to kill the nasty cockroaches that we ALWAYS find in our kitchen.....smashing them with our shoe does not work, and the mighty cockroach killing spray is barely powerful enough.  It is so gross....one thing I will not miss when i go home haha!
on tuesday when i said goodbye to hna guillen and recieved hna espinosa

" Le agradezgo a la Hna Riches, porque es una buena pescadora de almas perdidas.  Gracias a ella, pude encontrar a Jesucristo y arrepentirme de mis pecados"
" I want to thank hna Riches, because she is a good fisher of lost souls.  Thanks to her, I was able to find Jesus Christ and repent of my sins"

When he said this, all i could think about was how WE weren't the ones that found this family..... but truly how grateful I am that God placed this family in our path.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life:  he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  John 6:35
casual ice cream candid with mah gurl


Lately I havn't talked too much about the culture here so I wanna share some tidbits about the lifestyle. Monterrey is one of the busiest work-wise places in all of Mexico- all day every day people are off working....which makes it hard to really teach people and invite them to church.  I'm in the state of Nuevo Leon which is all the way to the eastside below Texas, as there is lots of United States influence.  Typical jobs include selling clothes and food in the markets, house cleaning, caring for the elderly and sickly, teachers, hairstylers, or the higher class jobs are in the main city of Monterrey.  I'm about 25 minutes out of the city, and the temple is right in the city.  The city is so beautiful-- surrounded by green rolling mountains and has more americanized places such as starbucks, iHop, chilis, etc haha.  The mission has all diff types of areas-- humble areas, and where I am is more wealthier and busier lifestyle.  Every other house has a cardboard sign that advertizes homemade fruit popsicles, tamales, tortillas, beans-- lots of pepole make and sell from their homes.  There are little snack shops on every corner, taco stands, people barbecuing and drinking beer in front of their houses in their soccer jerseys.  In this heat I love buying fruit popsycles...mango is very popular here....and i recently have a new found fig obsession haha|!  They are called HIGOS in spanish, and I just recently read in the dictionary that it is a fig-- lots of members have fig trees.  ABout 99% of the people are VERY religious.....majority are catholics, christians, and jehovas witness.  It makes it hard because lots are very dedicated to their virgin marys and saints.  Every home has a virgin mary and angel figures on front of their doors and there are different churches all over the place-- and other religious preaching alongside of us hahaha.  We just wave and say hello-- EVERYONE knows we are the mormons, we recieve every type of comment out there haha.  I really do feel so safe here-- yes everyday i get a few odd/creepy comments thrown at me haha but honestly it is super chill here.  The crime rate has gone down sooo much the last 2 years, so do not worry family :)  Everyone lives with their extended family, and at noon the streets are filled with kids in their uniforms leaving/entering school.  I've gotten the feeling that not toooo many go on to study past high school-- some adults don't know how to read.  People wash their clothes by hand or washing machine, and everyone hangs their clothes out to dry on a line.  Dishwashers and carpet does not exist here.  The farthest places most people travel are to texas, totally depends because there is such a difference in social status here,  but the majority don't leave.  The peple are so humble and friendly, and I truly admire their sacrifices and hardwork. 

 I could go ON AND ON but time is up!  If you all have any other questions that you want answered, shoot me an email! :)  Love you all and I really am doing great! see ya monday.
La familia valeriano...i love them

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


June 28, 2015

Week 54: Golden State Pride

The best chocolate cheese cake 
My zone eating tacos last monday

First off I am so proud of my Bay Area sports teams the Giants and the Warriors for bringing home the championships........WOOHOOOOOO golden state pride.  Also big shout out to Kyle Riches for getting married this weekend <3 !!!!
1 Transfer down here in America.  Only 4 transfers left to go on my mission!! Last night we recieved the call that Mi Compañera Hna Guillen is getting transferred and that tomorrow I will get my new companion.  I wanna dedicate this blog post to her, the impact she has had on my life and the experiences we have had together.
Estefania, one of my greatest friends here
Hna Evelyn Guillen is 20 years old and got baptized just 4 years ago.  She is from Ensenada, Baja California (Mexico) wooooo california haha and goes home in September.  Her family situation is pretty sad-- she is the only active member in her family and really doesn't have a relationship with her parents.  She Just recently began to email her family when we became companions, as I insisted that she talk to them and that she share her experiences :)  She knows how detailed my emails are to you guys and she has expressed much gratitude for me helping her be more involved with her family.  Hna Guillen is one of the MOST Christlike people I have ever met.  You neverrr hear her say a bad comment, complaint, constantly serving others, exactly obedient.  At exactly 10:30 pm she is found on her knees saying her nightly prayer, even if she hasn't had the time to change into PJS or brush her teeth.   She is very calm and softhearted, really focused on this work.  Haha we laugh because we have lots of similarities but at the same time sooo different from one another-- I feel honored because she has told me numerous times that this has been the most fun transfer in all of her mission because of my craziness and animated personality haha I have helped her come out of her shell ;)  She has a beautiful singing voice!  We sound so good together.  She plays a bit of guitar too!  The elders have a guitar / keyboard in their house, and since they don't know how to play them, we begged them to let us borrow them haha.  So these last 2 weeks we have been playing and singing in the house whenever we get 5 minutes of spare time.  I've been pulling out the guitar chords to the hymns and it has been so fun playing and singing-- also, I finished writing my song :)  I wrote a song in spanish about my mission experience to the tune of "Daughter of a King" by Jenny Phillips, and I have the sheet music and have been playing it on the keyboard.  Excited for yáll to listen to it ;)  Hopefully my next companion loves music too, I have had so many experiences with music here!  I am teaching various ward members how to lead music and will probably start holding piano lessons in the chapel.  I am excited for this next transfer here in america and the miracles we will see.
This woman has changed my life......her dedication to go to church, study scriptures every single day and maintain her optimism despite her disabled state really has been a great example of patience, hope, and faith to me here
The weather is so wacky!  Super hot and sunny, but then all of a sudden black clouds appear and it's a sudden downpour.  Yesterday, Pres Bird and Hna Bird came to church and Pres Bird gave a talk on the influence his father has had on his life-- HAPPY LATE FATHER'S DAY DAD!!!! wish I could have skyped you.  I truly am so grateful for the amazing father I have.

A few questions to reflect:

What have I done today to strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ?
What blessings from God have I witnessed today?
How have I served someone today?

Well, today we are busy cleaning the apartment and getting Hna Guillen packed up and ready to go.  Tomorrow I will get my new companion and next monday I will give you the deets!

The homies Elder Cook, Elder Aguilar, Hna Guillen
my gurl hermana flores, and Elder Connell and Elder Ramirez....both go home tomorrow!
Love these women
My zone at the temple
 Around the corner of our aparment
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope or confidence.  Helen Keller

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


June 19, 2015

Week 53: Blisters and Blessings

BUENAS TARDES! wow soooo much has happened these last 10 days my mind wants to just explode haha!  we got to go to the beautiful temple this morning, and it was the last time i am going to see lots of my friends here.  The majority go home next week! time is FLYING.
 Elder Cook, Elder Aguila and Elder Fry.....mis queridos amigos
Elder Gardner and the ladies

First big shout out to MAMARICHES for sending us the squirting fans-- big hit here in Monterrey.  All the kids in the street are amazed by them hahaha.  Also, my ward had an activity monday night and showed "Meet the Mormons// Conozca a Los Mormones" we had lots of members and investigadores watch it!! thank you thank you for sending me the disk mom!!!  This past sunday I got to give a talk on church on El Libro de Mormon-- was notified the saturday night before hahah-- but it went so well!  We had a mini zone conference and Hna Guillen and I had to capacitate / give instruction for an hour.....we have been so busy.  We also had more intercambios and I got to go teach with other hermanas in other areas-- so interesting to see the differences and meet new people and hear new stories.  I am learning so much.
 Cure for painful blisters:  a bucket of warm water and a diet coke
Well so much has been experienced these last couple days.  About 3 weeks ago, Hna Guillen and I started to pray asking heavenly father to help us understand / comprehend / apply the atonement of Jesus Christ more in our lives-- really trying to better understand this grand sacrifice he made for us and overcoming our difficulties knowing that he truly knows how we feel.  Well, this week we truly have seen God giving us answers to these prayers-- lots of pepole have been rejecting us, being super rude, and I have been super sick with an aching body, nausea, and giant blisters on the balls of my feet.  The days have been long and difficult-- my companion and I were talking and we thought it was super interesting that she has been experiencing lots of emotional pains and sadness and i have been enduring the physical pains.  Heavenly Father definitely is helping us to better understand the Atonement-- the rejection and cruelty Jesus recieved as he bled from every pore in the garden Getsemane and died on the cross, praying for every single person and paying for their sins, sicknesses, tempations, difficulties.  I know i will NEVER fully comprehend the grand extent of the Atonement, but as a representative of Jesus Christ i have had to take upon myself sickness, weakness, and rejection, a small fraction of what our Savior went through.
my territory

therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake:  for when I am weak, then am I strong  2 Corinthians 12:10
Hermana Guillen playing doctor and taking care of me....also could by feet be any uglier???

Aside from me feeling sick-- I am feeling SO much better with my meds :) - SOOO many amazing things are happening in our area.  Jorge and his family continue to progress beautifully.  Jorge selected his own baptismal date in July, and last tuesday night he just started to cry because he is so excited to be baptized-- we taught him abut the word of wisdom, how we don't drink, smoke, and he doesn't have ANY issues :)  I literally gave him a high 5 and a fist bump at the end of our lesson hahaha he is GOLDEN and I am so excited for him and the example he is setting for his family  HIs daughter Yaretzi, 14 years old, even signed up for a youth conference here!  It's super interesting because she is SUPER catholic.....teaches little kids each week catholic bible study classes...but she has been reading el libro de mormon, going to church with us, and is feeling so much peace in her life!  Golden family.  We also have Jasmine-- the only other blonde found here in Monterrey hahaha- she's listented to the missionaries for about 3 months, goes to church, and really wants to be baptized and change her life around.  She wants to get out of the partying, alcohol scene she is in, and it's awesome because Estefania, a recent convert of the elders, is such a good friend and influence for her.  They are our gurl friends ;) haha.  Estefania is truly helping SO many of our investigadores-- she is an amazing person with an amazing story.  We have a 16 year old Fernanda and her mom that went to church for the first time and loved it-- they are wanting to mend their mother daughter relationship and get closer to God.  We recently found another family that wants to get baptized== SO many interested people coming up out of the water!  Like i mentioned in the past, this area has beena  little "slow moving" these past couple years, but us and the 2 elders here in the ward know that great things are beginning to happen here in America!  I feel like i'm at one of the high points of my mission, just establishing so many friendships here, totally fluid with the language, sweating bullets everyday haha but LIFE IS GREAT.

Church with Estefania, Jasmine, and hermana guillen <3
Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come;  and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation.  Yea, I will open the hearts of the people, and they will recieve you.  and I will establish a church by your hand.  DC 31:3,7

Right now we are off to go make "campechanas" with about 20 other missionaries-- the famous monterrey tacos with flour tortillas, steak, a red meat, cheese, salsa-- so tasty.  We have transfers on monday but I will be staying here in America another transfer and might get a new companion!  I will write you all on Monday or Tuesday.
a dear family in my ward
C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


June 14, 2015

Week 52: 365 DAYS LATER . . .

365 days ago i was dropped off at the curb of the Provo Missionary Training center, not having a clue of what i was really in for.  Not having a clue of how physically, mentally, and emotionally tough a mission would be, but at the same time the most fulfilling, life changing experience.  Over the course of this past year, i have learned.....

- patience through my weaknesses and those of others
- that my hair and nails need SERIOUS beauty treatment when i return
-  how to accept / eat every food put in front of me haha!
- how to constantly smile even if my mood doesn't feel like it
- humility
- how faith produces miracles
- prayers are always answered
- how the people aren't perfect, but that this church and the doctrine are perfect
- how incredibly blessed i am to have the family and friends that i have
- christ's atonement changes lives
- the blessings that come from fasting and obedience
- appreciation for my american citizenship and the opportunities we have here haha #americanPride
- that i truly love these people and desire their salvation
- that God and Jesus Christ LIVE
- that everything happens for a reason- there are no coincidences in this life
- how much suffering there is in this world, but how one can find happiness and peace through this gospel
- how to survive with out social media ;)
- this church is a church of order
- how satan is constantly trying to tempt us
- how to selflessly serve others
- how to be fluent in spanish ;)
- how to depend on the Lord during my trials
- how to love reading the scriptures
- how to be bold and direct with people haha!
- how to accept my values and beliefs
- how to really read people and understand their emotions 
                           Walking into the MTC a year ago!

I can't decide if this year has creeped by or zoomed by-- all i can say is that I am proud to announce that my clothes still fit!!! the tortillas havn't done too much damage hahaha.  It's safe to say that I really have experienced a whole other world here-- while maintaining my personality traits!-- and I am beginning to understand why I have been called here to Monterrey.  Only 25 weeks left of this journey.
This past thursday we had our consejo de liderazgo-- leadership council-- with the 20 zone leaders, 6 hermana leaders, assistants, presidente and his wife.  7 Full hours of planning and evaluating how we are doing as a mission.  What we should be focusing on and how we can better help the other missionaries.  I loved it!  It's awesome looking at all the mission stats-- coming up with creative ideas that we can use, and our weak / strong areas.  As a leader it's pressure because you have to be on point with all these expectations presidente has.  We have talked lots about really searching / teaching people that are "prepared" by the Lord-- and really imagining every person dressed in white entering the temple with their family to be sealed for all eternity.  We talked about really speaking and teaching with authority-- having a positive outlook at all times, we have to motivate the other missionaries and help them reach their goals.  EVERYTHING in the mission is based off goals and plans-- this month:  every week each companionship is focusing on finding 10 "tomates rojos" or prepared people that are ready to accept the gospel, focus on finding complete families, mentioning El Libro de Mormon in every lesson, and making sure each sunday to have at least 3 investigadores with baptismal dates present at church.  Many other plans and goals but these are some of the focus.  We ended El Consejo with a delicious meal of orange chicken, salad, rice, bread and melted butter, maple doughnuts (Presidente, his wife, and I came to the conclusion that they were ALMOST as good as BYU's maple bars haha).  So fun getting to know president's personality even more haha mom and dad you are going to LOVE them when you get down here in december!!

a talk we use a lot here:

My omelette making skills ;)

Well the summer cockroaches are beginning to take over-- literally crawl out of our kitchen sink.  So nasty.  Tomorrow we have interviews with presidente.  The heat is so strong and the freckles are multiplying.  Until next thursday!! (June 18).  We go to the temple.
 15 months and 1 year down for us both!

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


June 06, 2015

Week 51: Straight-up Miracles

For Behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to recieve his word at the time of his coming in his glory alma 13:24

STRAIGHT UP MILAGROS have been seen in Monterrey this week.  But first off congrats to Jordan Riches for graduating high school!!! wow how is it june????

I cannot contain my joy.  Yesterday i got to return to Miguel Aleman for Gloria and Humberto's bautismo.  Many companionships have taught them, and they were actually the first investigadores Hna Flores and I met together when we arrived to Miguel Aleman.  We spent 3 months teaching them all we know- involving literally every ward member, fasting, and praying for them and really depending on the Lord.  Gloria (grandma), Gloria(daughter) and Humberto (grandson) all live together-- they have had lots of strong problems with husbands in the past.  The daughter works constantly so we havn't taught her much. They have changed my life-- they have studied the scriptures and other church books so much and know more than some of the members haha!  Yesterday Hna Guillen and I sang with Hna Flores and Hna Romero-- Yo Sé Que Vive Mi Señor.... I know that My redeemer lives...it was so unbelievable!  Gloria and Humberto started to cry with joy and Hna Flores and I literally could not contain ourselves and sang through our tears as well.  My heart literally burns with warmth I am so happy for them!  And grateful that the Lord put them in my path.  It was so great to see all the ward members--- I absolutely love and miss Miguel Aleman!  I have made such dear friends.
I love them
 Estefania got baptized last week and is so awesome
Nina...the woman who I mentioned last week.  We push her through the streets and she goes out and teaches with us! She has changed my life and so many others.
We are being blessed in our area-- legit miracles!  So America is pretty much known as the "rich nice area full of old people that barely has baptisms"-- but i am here to tell you that hna Guillen and I are WORKIN' IT and are being blessed with so many interested people!!!  2 stories i would like to share:

Jaqueline:  19 years old girl who left her home in Southern Mexico and now rents a solo apartment due to lots of family problems.  This girl is golden-- she has been searching God for a while, and she said that when we started talking to her in the street she felt something hit her in the chest, and she wants this change in her life-- so she has accepted a baptismal date! 

Familia Alvarado Ortiz-- 2 weeks ago we contacted the father, Jorge, who accepted a visit from us as he is battling a strong disease and was jobless.  This family seriously is ready to recieve the gospel-- mom, dad, 16 year old, 14 yearold, 8 year old, and the grandma.  The coolest part is that Jorge has been out of work for so long, and last week he got offered 3 jobs!! so he really has a testimony that what we are teaching him is true and that he is being blessed. He is a painter.  He has been super busy this past week so we havn't met with him much, but we called him saturday night to see if he wanted to go to church the next day and he explained how his boss offered him work for sunday but he told him he couldn't go because he had TO GO TO CHURCH :) literally straight up miracle and it just shows his humility and eagerness to learn more.  Such a great example to me of someone putting the Lord first.  He really is changing his life and recieving answers that this is true-- the whole family went to a church activity this week (this ward has not recieved a new complete family in so long) and the dad/ kids have gone to church twice.  Jorge also went to the baptism yesterday and loved it.  I have prayed for a family of 5 my whole mission-- and I just hope this is the family that is ready to accept the gospel!  PRAY FOR THEM :)
Estefania's wonderful car and air conditioning
it really is amazing how the Lord puts these people in our lives for special, specific reasons.  So many incredible experiences everyday-- and friendships that have become so dear to me.  Estefania, 19 years old who got baptized last week with the elders, has gone out so much to teach with us this week-- saying it has been "the best experience of her life".  She is so awesome-- i love her!! She just drives us around in her car all afternoon as we search for people to teach-- which is super nice because it is scorching hot everyday.  Too bad we can't blast T-swift..........6 months and counting :)

 the 2 hermanas moved out-- i love them but now i can have peace and actually rest hahahaServing a mission is the best decision I have ever made.  Yes, there are definitely not so fun times.  But I can't explain to you all the happiness I feel and all of the knowledge I am gaining.
An intercambio we had this week.....my blonde sista hermana wagner is so awesome.  The first american sister I really have worked with here.

there is no joy that can compare with that of a missionary who has been made an instrument for the salvation of a soul Orson F. Whitmer

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches