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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November 08, 2015

Week 73: Diligencia Hasta El Fin

 all 8 of us in the ward Bosques de San Miguel


Diligence until the end.

I have to say an attribute i have acquired here in the mission is diligence-- i have been enormously blessed to have 6 companions here that work work work.  That's what makes each day go by so fast.  My brain has not turned off these 17 months thinking about every other person's needs!  I have to say my body is beginning to feel and react to how tired i trulyyyy am...haha i gotta keep the adrenaline going these last 4 weeks!!


This morning was my last temple visit with my missionary amigos and the next time i step foot on these temple grounds will be with my parents :)  just trying to contain my excitement....!!!
  with enrique-- mom and dad he will be driving us all around when you get here!!

So i had my 2nd mexican halloween experience, and i gotta say it is not the same.  There's actually quite a lot of controversy here regarding the theme of halloween- many parents here believe it has to do with the devil so they don't let their kids go trick or treating haha.  So us americans try and explain to the church members that at home we have full on halloween parties at the chapel.  Mom-- we totally rocked the light up pumpkin necklaces you sent :)  

We had a health conference this week on how we can avoid sicknesses and stay safe-- but honestly it is such a blessing to be here in Monterrey because it is literally the ONLY city in mexico where you can drink straight tap water and it's totally fine.  I havn't had any health issues my whole mission :)  and you just gotta be selective about which taco stands you go to-- mom and dad..... i am on a no-tortilla diet until you guys come because we will be eating LOTS of food hahah :)

There are so many incredible events coming up my last few weeks here-- i am so excited to tell you all about them!!  I'll give you more deets on monday, but this saturday and sunday we have stake conference so i'll get to see LOTS of old friends!  (i've been in the same stake for 10 months)



It is still super hot here!  But i know the cold will come soon.  I just gotta say that Pres Bird and Hna Bird are awesome- i've come to understand why people have told me... ÿour mission pres and his wife will be second parents to you in mexico" I feel right at home as hna Bird and i bond over how diet coke is the perfect stress reliever and how the taste is so much sweeter here in mexico....and pres meanwhile just laughs and shakes his head and rolls his eyes at us typical california girls haha.  Today after the temple, they took about 10 of us hermanas to Macdonalds to eat breakfast-- i never thought macdonalds pancakes could taste so good!  it was such a blast- me and another american hermana sat on the end with them and they spent about an hour telling us all about their dating stories, their wedding proposal.....meanwhile pres is sitting there boppin his head to Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars that was being played in macdonalds-- claiming it is his favorite song (he literally had to tell me the name of the song #MissionLifeBubble)  So funny.  Presidente is very strict when it comes to missionary obedience, but he has such a great sense of humor.  I know i've said it a million times but mom and dad I can't wait for you to meet them!!!!  they remind me so much of you.
 the apartment complex guard......we're best friends.

As a missionary my 2 favorite chapters in the book of mormon are Alma 26 and Alma 27.  They perfectly express how i have felt serving here in mexico...i invite you all to read them and to try and feel my joy :)


I just want to testify to you all that Christ's atonement, Christ's sacrifice that he paid for us, carries us through when we feel weak and tired and afflicted.Don't give up.  Pray to God for the strength you need.  I have grown to love my Savior and appreciate this grand sacrifice he paid for us as I have served Him and represented Him.  Through these missionary challenges, I have come to know Him and comprehend just an OUNCE of the pain he suffered-- and everything was done out of his infinite love for every one of us.

"now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.  Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving;  yeah, and I will give thanks unto my God forever.  Amen." Alma 26:37

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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November 01, 2015

Week 72: Enduring To The End

 Well folks, today begins my last transfer as a missionary. 6 more weeks.  it is time to really endure to the e  n  d . .  .  It will be my 13th transfer including my time in the MTC in utah, and the other day i was reading my journal entries from the MTC / first few weeks in mexico.... so hilarious.  now that i read back i realize how much i was struggling with the language and everything new, and it is unbelievable to see how much I have progressed!!  Every 6 weeks we start a new agenda that contains my whole missionary life haha, and here are all of mine that i have decorated / have been decorated for me:

Well yesterday was a glorious way to end this transfer with el bautismo de Luis Valle.  Honestly, I can't express the joy one feels witnessing the changes in a person's life as they accept the gospel and then to see them be baptized and see their face glow with appreciation as they know and feel that all their past sins have been forgiven.  His wife and 2 kids came to support him which was big because they aren't too interested in listening to us.  The most special part of this baptismal service was seeing Luis cry and express his gratitude for this new family he is apart of in the ward, and for his friend Vicente who introduced him to the gospel.  Luis' life was changed all thanks to Vicente who one day at work opened his mouth and shared his testimony with Luis about the gospel.  Up until a year ago, Luis was getting drunk everyday and unaware of his purpose in life, but thanks to Vicente's bravery to share the gospel, he could help a friend recieve the presence of Christ in his life.  I invite all of you church members to share with your friends, family members, neighbors, your testimonies....invite them to church-- you never know whose life you are going to change.
  life is good.

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

La Familia Herrada all stayed for the 3 hours of church and the baptism!!!  Literally this family is an answer to my prayers.... this family is known in their neighborhood as "bible masters" alma, the mom, gives bible classes to her neighbors, and they have been devoted to their christian church for many years.  So honestly they are making huge changes in their lives, and the whole block is gossping about it haha! a mormon family that lives around the corner from them literally told us... "hey, there is lots of talk going on about you guys visiting their family because they are known to be devote christians who only believe in the bible and nothing else....how are you getting them to listen and go to church?" and our answer was simply.... "the spirit guides our words and testifies that our message is true.  and truly- the book of mormon changes lives.  Alma was anti libro de mormon until we sat with her and read a chapter together, 3 nefi 11, and she could not deny the power of it. We have shown her how the book of mormon and bible testify of EACH OTHER...working hand in hand....as testaments of jesus christ.  i will never deny the power and truthfulness of the book of mormon-- you just got to read it, ponder it, and ask God if it is true, and you will recieve an answer.
  abril herrada, 8 yrs old


I havn't talked too much about my companion but she is awesome-- we've finished the first half of her training and she is so advanced....she got to the mission pre trained hahah.  she is 28 years old, studied psychology, so she is very mature and is good at analyzing people haha.  She is from Lima, Peru and has made me delicious peruvian breakfasts with eggs, rice, and a type of banana that you cook (plaintains?) super delish.  she is a super hard worker and we just crank out the work all day everyday together.  She wants to learn lots of english so i've been teaching her a lot-- i for sure want to use spanish in my future job!!
 goodbye elder turner and elder wilcox!!  elder turner is getting trasnferred and wilcox goes home tomorrow
  mamariches is famous in the mission for how many packages i recieve <3

the mission is full of wonderful memories.  
love you all.  LES AMO MUCHO.

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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