October 25, 2015

Week 71: The Yellow Envelope

my paradise
 The moment has arrived.  I officially have my yellow envelope, which means i get to have about 25 percent of my mind "at home" haha president gives us these packets to help us start to create life plans / goals...how we can incorporate what we have learned here in the mission field into our own lives.  I've got to create a 90 day plan for my school life / religious life / love life. Lots of missionaries tend to feel nervous / anxious about going home, but i am totally calm and excited as i feel confident in knowing that i will continue to learn and progress as i go home-- that being a "missionary" doesn't end when i take off the badge.  Im just so stoked on where life will take me!!
  primary teachers

Yesterday was an amazing sunday-- every sunday is amazing.  Every october all the kids 4-11 years old present a program with spoken parts / songs and it is the cutest thing.  There were about 100 kids in this program yesterday, all the girls in white dresses and boys in light blue bow ties.  the room was packed... 300 people in attendance.  I got to play the piano for it, and seriously i almost teared up it was so precious listening to them sing haha!  now i am super tight with all the primary kids ;) a high light for sure was seeing the entire familia Herrada there-- all 5 of them.  The parents sat in front with giant smiles as they watched their 3 kids participate.  It is such a fulfilling feeling to see a family grow to recognize that this gospel can truly bless their life.  I love them!! alma, the mom, during the last hour of church whispered into my ear: Invitame a tu boda!!  invite me to your wedding!!.  These people i have met will always be treasured in my heart-- as a missionary, as a servant of the Lord, people truly feel the Savior's love for them through us......I think what i will miss most about being a missionary is being able to help people be truly happy everyday through expressing christlike love to them, and just having so many people put all their trust in me.

Pres Bird and Hna Bird came yesterday to watch the program, and Luis passed his baptismal interview!!!  He wil be baptized next sunday and we are so thrilled.  He even accepted the challenge to fast this past saturday, and he did and he even CRIED he feels so grateful for accepting this gospel.  Seeing him cry was a true sign that he is expriencing changes in his heart.

The work is so great in this area, in 5 weeks we have been able to recieve the help from 21 members going out and teaching with us!!!  I really have learned here in the mission the importance of missionaries / members working together to help rescue lost souls and bring them unto Christ.

yesterday we gave Nora, our investigadora, a dedicated hymn book and she just began to cry she was so grateful.  She said-- sabes que?? el dinero no es todo en este mundo /  you know what?  money isn't everything in this world.  More than anything in the mission I have learned that you can truly be happy with out all the material items this world has to offer.

A quote to meditae:  Our body and our spirit are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character - Boyd K Packer

my wonderful friends in my ward
Love you guys and seriously time is flying I WILL BE IN THE BAY IN NO TIME!!

kids we are teaching

 C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


October 18, 2015

Week 70: Twenty - One

Well i am officially 21 years old.  it's honestly a weird feeling haha!  I feel so old.  It was my 2nd bday here in the mish, and what's really weird is realizing that I got here when i was 19 and now i've hit 21.  I remember telling myself-- "right after my 21st bday i will be going home!" well, that is right around the corner.  Mi cumpleanos was filled with phone calls all day long from friends in the wards i have been in (don't know how they got our number hahaha) Pres Bird and Hna Bird singing to me, other missionaries in my zone calling us, ward members here in bosques de san miguel calling me-- i feel so loved. And thank you all soooo much for all the emails!!! I'm sorry if i didn't reply, i barely have any time on here!  One lovely gift was having Estefania drive over here to spend the whole afternoon with us!!  i have missed her so much and i feel so grateful she dedicated her day to come and teach all day with us.  She brought me cake, baloons, and a super special gold necklace wiht a charm with the shape of mesico-- it's a gift i will treasure forever and reminds me that i will always have mexico in my heart.
My necklace :)

The best part about my bday was that we were able to visit lots of progressing investigadores and Estefania was able to share her conversion story with them.  Luis, 40 years old, is planned to be baptized october 25th and has a really neat story.  All of his life he has been really involved with drinking until it got to the point where he almost died a couple of times.  He knew he had to change his life around for his wife and 2 kids and so last december he ended his drinking habits.  At this point he began searching for God-- trying to fill his emptiness in his heart. He has a friend at work, Vicente, who began to talk to Luis about the church.  They spent hours talking about the gospel, and at first Luis didn't have an interest of going to church but one day it hit him that he needed to go. So vicente drove and picked him up for church== this happened in july.  The hermanas got in contact with him in august and taught him about 2x then we get to the area and have been visiting him continually.  He has gone to church each week and continually tells us that this gospel/ church fills his emptiness he has had all his life and that he knows it is true.  He is a bit nervous about the 25th but we know he is ready..please keep him in your prayers!!
  familia herrada

A golden family we have is la familia Herrada. So all my mission i have had this wish of seeing a family of 5 be baptized, and so our first week here in bosques de san miguel i prayed specifically to find this family of 5.  That very same day that i prayed, we met Alma outside of our house and she let us share a message.  This woman is full of faith in christ, and she and her 3 little kids started listening to us frequently.  They ahv had lots of questions, doubts, but juan manuel, 11 years old, literally reads the bible everyday and knows everything and our comfort visit asked us........ how can i be baptized the very same way that christ was baptized?  hahha he literally was born to accept this gospel!  They ahve had difficulties with alma's husband but after a month of teaching them they finally went to church and absolutely loved it!!!  the kids are beyond thrilled about the primary program this sunday and we hope the dad will have a change of heart and go this sunday.  All ofmy prayers and energy goes into this family-- on the night of my birthday we visited them and the best bday gift of all was having them say they wanted to be baptized and accepting a baptismal date.  Alma, Juan Manuel 11yrs old, and Abril 8 yrs old have baptismal dates, and Elias 5 years old will wait until he is 8.  The best part was that we were all eating the cake that estefania brought, and in walked alma's husband and we made nice conversation with him-- first time meeting him!!  i know all 5 will be baptized one day, and i hope to still be here when that happens!!

This past sunday about 20 kids got up to bear their testimonies.... it was so cute.  There are about 80 kids in the primary here....hugeee compared to all the other wards in the mission.  I have the honor of being the pianist for the primary program thissunday haha i am excited!!  tuesday night we had a rehearsal and lets just say i have a whole new respect for all primary / school teachers....wow it requires lots of patience haha lets just hope it all goes smoothly this sunday!
 we understand each other

another weekly highlight...having intercambios with my blonde sista hna wagner, she and her comp are our hermana lideres so we had a super fun 24 hours together== it was pretty funny walking around all day with her.  I've become pretty accostumed to all the people on the street just staring at me with a look of "what is she doing here in mexico" haha but with the two of us walking around.... it really was pretty funny.  She goes home 2 weeks after me, so we just bonded over all that has happened to us here in the mission, the desperate need to hit the spa returning home, and the excitement of putting everything we have learned into practice.  it was a bit of an adjustment speaking in all english to her!  typing and writing in english is fine, but just a warning folks-- my english speaking skillls will be a bit off the first week or so hahaha im not kidding!

  us today at the temple

 C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


October 11, 2015

Week 69: "we will never lead you astray"

  Abby...a girl who likes to go teach with us and is preparing to serve a mission in the spring

Having only an hour to write all of you each week is the most stressful process because my mind is just overflowing wirh all these life changing experiences i ahve on a daily basis.... i try to recap the best i can, but i can't wait to return and just read you all my daily journal entries hahah.  Such a great conference weekend we have had-- i'll start off by mentioning that i had my LAST zone conference with Pres Bird this past friday!!  We talked a lot about how we can truly keep the sabbath day holy... the church as a whole is really putting strong emphasis on this commandment and as the apostles have put it-- it has become a concern for them that families are not valuing this day.  Being a missionary i have truly seen that the families who honor the sabbath day recieve more blessings and are more happy / unified / spiritually stronger.  More than anything, we need to take the sacrament each week to nourish our spiritual needs.
elder wilcox and elder turner-- we eat with them every day. 

This saturday / sunday we had general conference which is a world-wide conference we have in the church every 6 months.  This live broadcast changes lives as we have the honor of listening to our beloved prophet, apostles, and other church leaders.  In october 2013 I had the opportunity to go to this conference in salt lake and recieve the surprising confirmation in my heart that i needed to serve a mission.  These leaders that speak are called of God and will never lead us astray.  I will never deny the overwhelming peace i feel to know that God continues to guide us through his prophets, and that this is a church run by Christ, not by man.  This conference was especially special because we got to sustain 3 new apostles!! I watched all 4 sessions of Conference in our new chapel in spanish, and i took a ton of notes on the inspired messages. Here are a few that i loved (all my notes are in spanish so here they are translated back into english)  

If you are having difficulties living the gospel, take a step back and you can see that really the gospel is quite simple

The Lord has ALWAYS organized his church with a prophet and apostles....us as leaders make mistakes, but this does not influence the revelation we recieve

Our ways are much more limited than the Lord's ways

We always have to ask the Lord....How can I improve?

we need humility to change

Suffering accompanies sin, but joy accompanies true repentance

Right now in the world people are trying to change the moral laws God has established

auto control is like a muscle-- when we use it more, it becomes stronger

we are the pilots of our lives

put your trust in that spirit that leads you to do good

for you young adults-- pray for a man / woman who is spiritually interested in you

no other type of love is stronger than the love our Savior has for each of us

There is a difference between HEARING and UNDERSTANDING

parents are fully responsible for guiding / teaching their children

faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind

we need strong women who make their own decisions, voice their opinions, who can teach and lead without fear.  The women of this church have a long-lasting impact.

the commandments are proof of God's love for us, and our obedience to these commandments are proof of our love to God

What the atonement heals STAYS healed

the trials in life are part of His glorious plan

we must give heed to our living prophets BEFORE the ancient prophets

These are only SOME of the notes i took but honestly you all need to go to lds.org and read / listen to these inspired words.  These talks answer questions of the soul, and i am grateful that we are forever guided by these men called of God.

On a side note, i hit a world record of eating 11 homemade flour tortillas all in one day-- i think i'm losing it haha good thing we walk a ton here in my huge area.  It is helping the waistline ;)  9 WEEKS AND COUNTING!!  we also ate catfish and cactus this week-- not a huge fan.  All of september has been burning hot!  i think this week rains will come.
  my new friends here

We've got great progressing investigadores with incredible stories that i will share next week.  We go to the temple next thursday so i'll write you all october 15thwith the report on how my 21st bday fiesta went :)
the ritzcarleton of Mexico-- our home

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


October 04, 2015

Week 68: My Eyes Continue to be Opened

  our investigadora, Nora

Well isn't time just flying?  2 weeks already down here in this new area-- here are a few experiences from this week:

The mexican culture is a very religious culture- everyone believes in God and every other house has got a virgin Mary on the front door.  We contact everyone on the streets and try to knock on as many doors as possible, and the typical responses we recieve are "soy catolica /  I'm catholic, No tengo tiempo // I don't have time,  ya tengo Cristo en my corazón // I already have Christ in my heart....or they straight up say Pasenle!! // Come right on in!!  It's so intriguing to hear everyone's individual story.  This week we knocked on a woman's door who let us in and we made conversation as her 3 little boys ran around yelling and playing.  We sang her a song about how the family is ordained of God, and with a hint of sadness in her eyes expressed to us how her little boys ask her who God is, and she doesn't know how to respond.  She herself doesn't know who God nor Jesucristo are, and it makes me sad meeting new people everyday who don't know that they literally are children of a loving Heavenly Father and that their life has a plan.  It is a blessing being able to help people everyday recognize their divine potential and find hope in this unstable world.
 us 8 missionaries here in my ward!

We've got 3 couples right now who want to be baptized but are living together and aren't married...it's pretty typical here- lots of unmarried folks living together and as young as 15 year olds getting pregnant.  One of the women went with us to the general women's conference on saturday (broadcast from Salt Lake) and it really impacted her to listen about how the family is crucial in God's plan, how as women we need to respect our bodies and look for qualities in men that strengthen us to be worthy daughters of God, and how special it is to be married for all eternity in our sacred temples.  There's no doubt in my mind that this gospel is true, and everyday I see how it helps people change their lives around to live according to God's commandments.

a few quotes from conference:

Our purpose began much before we came here to earth.

we have come to earth to build His kingdom here on earth and prepare ourselves for Christ's 2nd coming

what will i do inorder to live my life as a daughter of God?

When we begin to see the potential and divine nature in OURSELVES, we will be able to see it in OTHERS

God doesn't remember our sins anymore when we truly repent

this life is to prepare to appear before God, not to recieve ALL the blessings

in this world it is so easy to focus on the things that don't matter

we have to look for happiness NOW, not wait until the future

what makes us happy in life is extending to others the pure love of Christ
  the best reunion with hermanas and estefania at womens conference!!!!

It is a bit hard coming from the ward ämerica where we received so much ward participation in missionary work-- i feel like my mission these 10 weeks here is to really get the members more excited and involved.  Little by little we are seeing progress. There are about 200-250 active members in this ward, but lots of people are inactive due to pride-- if one little thing happens between members or get bothered about something, they go inactive!  so we have lots of work to do trying to "calm the waters" haha.  what i've learned-- the people in the church aren't perfect, but the gospel of jesucristo es perfecto.  One hermano has gone with us to teach some families-- Hno Martinez-- he is so humble and is about 60 years old. He got baptized 30 years ago and is sad he couldn't serve a mission so now he goes out practically everyday with the missionaries. One lessons we were teaching about the prophets, and we asked him to share his testimony. He stood up on his feet and exclaimed with his heart:  

Yo sé con todo mi corazón que hoy en dia tenemos un profeta de Dios.  No tengo educacion- solo estudié hasta el segundo año en la primaria- pero no necesito educacion para saber que este hombre es llamado por Dios.

I know with all my heart that today we have a prophet of God, Thomas S. Monson.  I am not educated-- I only studied up until the 2nd grade-- but i don't need education in order to know that this man is called of God.

I think the 2 best decisions i have made in all my life:  going to BYU and deciding to serve a mission.  You guys-- these experiences have changed my life!! BECCA AND JORDAN... when i get home there is not a day where i won't say ÿou both need to serve a mission hahah wow have my eyes been opened here in Meeeexico!
 Bosques de San Miguel--- the ward and missionary district

At times i feel a bit guilty recognizing how blessed i am-- i have never had to suffer the obstacles I hear about everyday in these people's lifes.  THe majority only can afford Rice, beans, potatoes to eat, but when the members have us over to eat they prepare for us a meal that for them really is a feast.  and often times when we are over to eat, the parents won't eat that day because they have to sacrifice to have us over.  another hardship is that my companion's parent's don't have email, so she only will occassionally hear from her brother.  I try not to feel sad for these people but instead serve them and love them with all i've got.  Theres not a day that goes by that I don't just pour out my heart, thanking Heavenly Father for all i have.

This weekend is General Conference!! saturday and sunday.. you can all watch it online- i invite you ALL to prepare yourselves and go to conference with prepared questions that you want answered from the inspired words we will hear from living apostles and prophet.
  some women in my ward


C O N  A M O R
hermana riches