December 07, 2015

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

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

Elder Leavitt and I bid our farewells

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  gettin back to my bakin' skills

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

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

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

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

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

Adios Blog-life, hello Facebook. 

 C O N  A M O R
hermana riches

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