Monday, December 23, 2013


Merry Christmas Family and Friends!! 

This has been an amazing week! President asked us last week to find 2 new investigators. Later that day our Zone Leaders asked us to find 3. And we succeeded. We found 3 new investigators last week. The first one was found on Tuesday. After we took the survey we were about to leave the library. The Spirit prompted me to go over and talk to this man in a wheelchair. Sister P. and I began talking with him and he accepted our invitation to hear our message. We tried doing the pamphlet teaching of the restoration-a short 20 minute lesson using pictures- but he had so many questions we helped him understand and got a return appointment. He has been very confused with religion and is looking for the truth. We met with him again on Thursday and made many calls trying to find a member to come with us. The one we hoped would come was not available, as were the other 5 we tried. We finally were able to get a hold of one and she came with us. Otherwise we would have had to cancel the lesson. It was wet and rainy but the lesson went well and we taught to the restoration. After this lesson, we felt we needed to pass him off to the elders. So we had a pass off lesson with them. 

The second investigator we found was a girl that we had taught before but gave her to the Hermanas to teach her with her mom who only speaks spanish. However, the mom was not interested and we had never 'picked her back up' as an investigator. We were able to meet with her and teach her about the Book of Mormon and she is very interested in learning more. 

The third investigator we found was a referral a member gave to the Spanish elders and we hadn't tried seeing her until Saturday. When we did she opened the door let us in we taught using the pamphlet had great unity as companions and she told us how she felt. She normally never lets people into her house and told us the Spirit told her to let us in. She expressed she has been wondering and praying if she should go back to church and learn more. She has been a few times to our church services about a year or two ago but is interested in learning more. 

These were all miracles that we have seen this week, along with one more...well there was many but these were my top picks!

We have a baptism this next Sunday!!!! A. IS GETTING BAPTIZED!! Her story is incredible. How she was found, how ready she is, and how 'golden' of an investigator she is. She has not only taught me a lot about missionary work but has strengthened my desire to serve a mission and has really strengthened my testimony that the field really is all "white and ready to harvest". Her parents have agreed that she can be baptized and they came with us to a Spanish baptism yesterday so her parents could understand. They felt the Spirit and we had been fasting and praying steadfastly like the Army of Helaman that everything would work out in order for her to be baptized this Sunday. At the baptism they played "Come Thou Fount" while a slideshow of temples played on the TV. This was inspired because that is what got A. interested in learning about the gospel in the first place- temple sealings and blessings. She loved it!! We will hopefully be taking her and her family to the LA Temple this week to see the lights...we're praying it all works out as we have tried MANY times before in this month.

Tuesday was an amazing day! Lots of tender mercies and seeing the progress of certain investigators!! 

On Saturday we had a zone breakfast one of the members in the stake gave us. It was SOO Good! We had eggs, bacon, sausage, hasbrowns, pinneapple, oranges, strawberries, canteloup, and milk, and orange juice! So good! They also gave us little stocking gift bags! They were so sweet to do that for us! We sand Called to Serve for them and it was awesome.

And one of our investigators family said that we are the only missinoaries that their daughter has sat through a lesson before! This is awesome to know that there is a reason my companion, Sister P., and I are together! 

OH! And Sunday's sacrament program was AMAZING!!! There's so much to tell! So we sang in the choir and I was a little bawl baby up there... There was one song that a group of sisters sang together. This reminded me of something S. and I would do. It was beautiful and made me cry...Then there was a story that President Monson or Utchdorf told that was very touching about a man giving up his seat to a soldier on an airplane. The last plane to go home so he could see his family. But the most amazing thing was the song the Young Women sang. They sang a beautiful arrangment of Silent Night. One of the Young Women knows Sign Language and we have a deaf man in our ward. I was  watching him all throughout the program and he looked bored and I was praying that he'd be able to feel the spirit and feel apart of the program. Sky began to sign the song and he lit up! He began signing along with her and mouthing the words to the song. As he did this tears streamed down his face. It was so sweet to see this happen from on the stand. It was so great to see the Spirit of Christmas touch his heart as S. signed for him. It was an amazing experience.

Something else from sunday that I feel prompted to share and strongly believe is that we can't change our circumstances but we can change our outlook on the circumstance. Also that we need to "Have Faith not fear" - Elder Ballard and that we need to "Doubt our Doubts before we Doubt our Faith" - Elder Uchtdorf.

I love being a missionary!! And I am so glad the Lord has chosen me to work as a tool in His hands that I can experience the changes in peoples lives and help them come closer to Christ by making covenants with God! 

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas! I love you all and pray for you always! 

Sister Celeste Riches

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2 Months of Serving in the Lord's Army of 82,000!!!

Hello Family!

This week has been...interesting. I almost got proposed to on the bus and I was very grateful there were elders on the bus so they had my back. It has been fun to get to know Sister P. and help others. 

We had a lot of meetings this week and they all were very instructive! We are beginning a new way of teaching and have been being trained on that for a while. And will continue. It is used by the AP's and has shown amazing results. I'm excited to learn more and develop the techniques. It is done by using questions and the pictures in the pamphlets. 

We had the mission Christmas Party this week and that was lots of fun! We learned a lot, ate a lot. and laughed a lot. There was a talent show and that was great. After the party those who were serving together with Elder Page who passed away a few months ago gathered in the Chapel to listen to Sister S. and Elder H. play a duet of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief". They served with him and I sat in on this amazing experience. The Spirit there was so strong and I am so thankful to be serving here in Azusa to learn from them and their experiences. The Spirit hit me like a wave and all of us were in tears. There were other missionaries who were also listening but they weren't tearing up like those who served in Azusa. That was very interesting for me to see the difference. I am so thankful for all that I have learned about the Plan of Salvation through hearing others experiences. As I have stated in the past I feel like I know Elder Page and served with him because of all the stories and things I have heard. I am so thankful for that and for the Spirit that is indescribable that is here. 

Not a lot else happened this week that I can think to share. 

I love you all and I am so thankful for all the love and support. 

I know that the doctrine and gospel that I am preaching is true. I know that the Lord has a plan for everything and everyone. I love this gospel and the happiness that it can bring families as it has brought my own. Share with everyone you know about the gospel! 

Love, Sister Riches

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Hello Friends and Family!

This has been an awesome week! Things started off a little rough but was resolved by a really good needed heart to heart companionship inventory Monday night. Sister S. and I were able to discuss the things that we were concerned about openly and then get back to work and had an awesome week. Now she is being transferred and I have my new companion, Sister P. She's so sweet! I'm so excited! I apologize in advance that this is short...

We started teaching A. who is 17  last week and have continued teaching her. On Tuesday we taught her the restoration again so we could see what she understood from what the Spanish Elders had taught her. We invited her to baptized and she excitedly nodded her head yes. We told her we would be holding a baptismal service on December 29th and if she would prepare herself to be baptized on that day. She said yes!! We are so excited to be teaching her! She is amazing! Right after we committed her, we began talking about what would happen. She stopped us and asked, "Does this mean I'll have to take me piercings out?" Now, she has dimple piercings and three sets in her ears. We said, "What do you think?" And she answered by groaning and throwing her head back and said, "He doesn't want me putting holes in my body!!" and threw her head on her arms on the table. She has been progressing really well and we are so excited. Everytime we meet with her her testimony continues to grow. She came to church and we also took her to the Christmas Devotional last night. She really feels comfortable at church and loves it. That shows how important it is to those who are coming to church to feel invited and welcome. Members play such a vital role in every investigator, recent convert, and less actives life!! 

We hope to have a baptism this next Sunday for G. who is 14. She is so sweet! She's been taught everything more than once and now we need to discuss some things with her mom so she can be baptized. We're excited!! 

I am so excited to work with Sister P. and learn from her and with her. I love this area and I am so excited for the opportunity I have to be on a mission! I know that the Lord places us in the places he does with the people He does for a reason. I have learned that so much through my life before the mission and even more on the mission.

Love, Sister Celeste Riches

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Hello Family and Friends!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! There was a Thanksgiving scripture that I really like. It is Alma 37: 36-37. I am so thankful for this gospel and for all the many blessings we have because Christ's true church has been restored on the earth and we can receive personal revelation as well as revelation through the prophets of God. I am so thankful for my family and all the love they have for me! 

We found an awesome new investigator this past week and I am so excited to teach her more! She will be an awesome missionary someday! The Spanish Elders (AMAZING!!-They've given us like 5 referrals this past week) gave us her as a referral to go visit her because she was interested. They found her by going to a potential investigators house who no longer lived there. But she is BOMB! She has been raised Catholic but doesn't agree with baptizing children as infants and in praying to saints and Mary and believes that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are three separate individuals, just as we in the Church of Jesus Christ believe. It's so awesome! She's so excited about the gospel and sharing it with her mom who isn't quite ready to understand yet. But very soon, very soon! As well as her dad!! They'll all be sealed together for eternity in the temple! That was one of the things we talked a lot about. Was sealings and temples. She is so excited! We'll hopefully be able to go with her to the temple this Friday with the ward to the visitors center! There are a ton of awesome Christmas things going on there. It's so cool! 

Thanksgiving... Well we had a ward Turkey Bowl that members had said they had invited non-members and they would be there. However, when we got there it was mostly the men of the ward a few kids and no non-members. But we did some contacting around and that was good. I have district meetings on Thursdays so we had that then had dinner at the F's. A really awesome Polynesian family in the ward. We had such good food and lots of it! However, I missed our family traditions, especially candied yams! I love how we boil the yams, peal them, cut them into circles and fry them in brown sugar and butter and pour the extras on top!! So much better any other way to eat yams...unless its raw with homemade buttermilk ranch! But they had these really good orange rolls made from fresh oranges in their yard! Everyone here has citrus fruit trees in their yards it's so cool. And have you ever had a prisimon? They're not bad. We also went to dinner at Sister B.s. She works in the mission office. However, we got there late when everyone was finishing and leaving so we helped wash dishes and clean up. We also had pie at the Cs (a super nice couple in the ward! that do awesome fellowshipping!)

Fun California facts: 1) The ice cream trucks run all year round!!!! And they play Christmas music!  2) EVERYONE has a mustang!! okay not everyone but I swear I see like 20-50 mustangs per day (not exaggerating! I've tried to count but always loose count) 3) There are green parrots here that look really pretty but when they squawk they sound as if they are dying!!

I went on exchanges for the first time this week with Sister M. I came out here with her from the MTC. It was so much fun! It was a lot different working in Glendora than it is in Azusa. Especially since she and her companion Sister P whitewashed the area. It was good to learn more about missionary work and different techniques that she has as a missionary than I do and Sister S does. We were able to provide some service for a lady and help her out a lot and meet with a few of the Less-Actives in that area. We then went to find all the past potentials to see if we could find new investigators. One guy invited us in -there were other females in the house, his wife and daughters- and he talked with us and feed us turkey noodle soup but he's not that interested. But it was good! 

I love you all and I love the mission! Serving a mission is hard work. It is not easy. Everyone says it was hard and I just thought oh psh they just aren't having enough faith. Yeah no, have faith and be diligent and it's still hard. BUT it is amazing to watch how you are helping someone come closer to Christ and watching things click in their heads as you teach them! It is the BEST thing to watch someone become so excited about what they are learning. I love that!! 

Sister Celeste Riches

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dog Poop, Getting Lost, and Missionary Work

November 25, 2012

Hello family and Friends!

So let me explain the title! I swear, everyday I step in dog poop!!! This past week it has been at least 3 times! And then we have been chased by three white fuzzballs on three different ocassions! They sound like demon dogs!! Little tiny white fluffy demon dogs! Also watched big dogs like german shepherds jump out of their yard over the fence and chase others...yup pretty fun!! Oh and I've also gotten dog poop on my bike stuff! 

I'm rushed with time but here is something I really liked from this week...well learned from.

I learned something very interesting this week. As we had Zone Conference on Wednesday, President Becerra asked us to go out and find 3 people as our role play so we did. After we did we became lost, forgot our phone at the building and didn't know where to meet Sister Becerra. We were supposed to meet her at 12 and got dropped off 20 minutes earlier. We walked around thinking it's an unseen contacting moment but there was almost no one on the street and those that were were moving quickly or late for something. We asked many people where the library was where we were to meet Sister Becerra and got many answers and many that had no idea. Those that answered us gave confusing directions or did not match with others directions. We were offered a ride to the building by two older gentlemen but politely declined because that's against mission rules and kept going to find the library. We walked around there for a bit and found no one so we headed back on Foothill to the building around 12:30. We hoped Sister Becerra would see us. Around 1:00 We asked two ladies who were Jehovah Witness to borrow their phone but we could not remember any number that would help us out. They offered us a ride but we would have to wait for them as they went into the store to get something. So once again we politely declined. About 20 minutes later they drove up past us and offered again saying they were going in the same direction, so we agreed and finally got back. In this situation the phone represents prayers to Heavenly Father and the car represents baptism-the only way back to live with God again. There were many that tried to help us and gave us wrong information and there were many who had no idea just like us. This is the same with the gospel. There are many lost who some are searching but can't find it and some find part truths from other religions. But we as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the only ones with cars. We are the only ones who can provide that way back to live with Heavenly Father again.

That is why I am needed out here on a mission at this time. To help all those lost souls come back to Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the End. 

I know this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and He is our brother and He loves us so much! I love this gospel and the happiness that it brings everyone!

I love you all and thank you for all your prayers and support!! 

Sister Celeste Riches

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

One Month in the Lord's Army

November 18, 2013
Dear Family and Friends!

First of all I want to thank you all for the love and support and prayers you've given me! I love you all. 

This week has been awesome! We were able to meet most of our goals and do better in areas we were lacking. 

Something really amazing that happened this past week is as we were working on contacting 10 people a day (A goal set by our Mission President) we contacted a lady who was going to pick her daughter up at school. I said hello and we started talking. We gave her a pass along card with our number on it so she could call us and we applied what we learned in the New Missionary Orientation of "we will be in that area tomorrow around 2. We would love to stop by and talk with you and your daughter." And it worked! She was excited to have us come over and talk with us. As we walked away she was much happier and more excited. The next day we weren't able to make it to her house at 2 so we called her around 3:30 and she didn't pick up but we still headed over to talk with her, hoping she was home. As we were near her home, we got lost on where her house was located. I saw her across the street walking and waved at her and she ran over to us and we were able to teach her and her daughter! It is so cool to see the Lord's hand as we worked to try and find her and He helped us find her! That was no coincidence she was there at the time we needed her to be! The lesson went well. Her niece is super cute and kept trying to get me to draw her a princess or a pony tail and stuff like that. She's four. 

I love my new bike! It's white and the seat is big so it doesn't hurt when I ride it all the time!! There is a slight hill up to the church and the northern area of our area but it's not that bad anymore. There are a few hills but we don't go that way a lot. It's always fun to ride south here cause that's downhill,'s always slightly uphill!

There was a big rainstorm this past week! Well it rained for about an hour. But it was heavy rain. We left our correlation meeting with the Ward Mission Leader and I was so excited cause I felt sprinkles of rain. Thinking that'd be all we would get I was happy. Then as we rode back down home it started getting harder and harder and finally it was enough to drench my shirt!! You could have rung it out and so much water would come out!! I'm very thankful for my umbrella. We walked and got rides the rest of the night. Even though 20 minutes after we got home and then left again it stopped raining. It was fun though! 

It's always a good day when the people we planned to see are actually home and we have lessons! It's been hard recently to catch people when they're home. Lot's of people don't answer their phones. 

This past week I said my first prayer in Spanish!! That was pretty cool. I'm learning bit by bit. It's so nice having the help of the Hermanas and Sister S.. Also the Spanish Elders. I hope to learn a lot more!! Speaking of Spanish. As we ride our bikes we say hello to everyone we see, or try to. As we were riding I said hi to this group of guys and a few ladies (20's to 40's) and one said "Hola mi amour" to me. Umm I knew enough Spanish to ride A LOT quicker down the sidewalk! Haha it was pretty funny!! Crazy people! There are a lot of interesting people here. It makes things interesting! 

Grandma tells me that you are all going to the T's for Thanksgiving. That'll be lots of fun! Be sure to tell everyone hi for me!

We should be getting on facebook soon so that's exciting!

How was S's performance? I wish I could have come. Did you record it at least so I can see it some day? 

I love hearing from you all! It makes my week to have emails to read and letters! I'm doing great and I hope you all are as well!

Lastly, I want to challenge my family (and friends if they want to) but most specifically Dad, Mom, B, T, S, C, and even you S, to read The Book of Mormon two times before I come home! (S. you can read it once all the way through.) And tell me what you are learning from it. I would LOVE to hear your insights! There is a great calendar online to read the BOM in 90 days and even one in 30. It's pretty helpful! 

I love you all!!

Sister Celeste Riches

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Take Action

Nov. 12, 2013

 I love getting your emails and letters! They are all so helpful and keep me motivated knowing I have so many people supporting me!

This week we had a lot of meetings so the missionary work was a little weak due to being in so many meetings. This frustrated me a little but I learned a lot and it'll all help me learn to be a better missionary! Along with a lot of meetings not a lot of people have been home this week to teach. but it's been really good to contact and help others on the street. There are a lot of people in this city who need help and need God in their lives. I got a bike this week! It's a really pretty white bike and I love it!

We had new missionary orientation on Wednesday and that was nice. Learned a lot about what our purpose is here which is to baptize monthly!! On Thursday we had zone meeting and then went out for sushi afterwards. That was nice to get to know the other missionaries in our zone. 

We had a couple good lessons with a Less-Active family this week and they're really nice people. We had an awesome experience with a family we are teaching. So on saturday we went over to talk to them and L. was home but E.(her son) was not. This was good enough becasue no one else had been home on saturday we were trying to teach. As we were teaching L., we kept trying to commit her to a baptism date but the spirit wouldn't let us becasue E. was not home. We were able to get a return apointment for sunday and went over. They were not home so we called them and they were 3 minutes away so we waited. We talked for a bit then did a cool object lesson for E. that we did for L. the night before about the Holy Ghost and Baptism. As we discussed that we asked them to be baptized and they said yes-they've been asked before so this wasn't a surprise. Then I told them that we were holding a baptisimal service on December 1st and if they would prepare themselves to be baptized on that day. THEY BOTH SAID YES!! They understand they are not ready now and they want to continue learning more which is great! We then had a really good talk about Joseph Smith. It was awesome! I love being a missionary and inviting others to come closer to Christ!!

Last week saturday, we met a guy on the street and taught him the plan of salvation. He started clicking everything together and it was awesome! Things we didn't tell him but what he was figuring out from his own studies and the spirit. We were not able to get in contact with him for a week and on Saturday he called us during companion studies and asked us when church was on sunday!! We told him where and when it was and then on sunday he came 15 minutes late but we were still waiting for him! He was able to be there for B.'s confirmation- she was the one to get baptized last week. The spirit was so strong when she recieved the gift of the Holy Ghost! I was so happy J. was there to feel that! He did not know that church was three hours and had plans after the first hour but said he would come back next week!! It was so cool to see how he liked church and wants to come again! I love seeing things click in the people we are teaching and helping them receive greater knowledge! I love it!!!!

Well on monday we woke up at 5AM!!! Yes before 6:30! Which is already early! We went and hiked the mountain we are at the base of with a big A for Azusa. It was really fun to go on a hike. It was hard but I learned a cool things to relate back to the gospel from the hike. I'll just have to sum it up. As I hiked the mountain it was HARD! I was sore and my muscles were definitely getting a work out! There were some rocks in my shoe and I had to take breaks every so often. But I had a goal of getting to the A. So as we walked I thought this is just like the gospel. We have the ultimate goal of returning with Heavenly Father. But everything in life takes action. We have to work for it! We have to go through hard things and trials and stumble to get to the goal. If they had put a escelator or ski lift on the mountain side people would miss the work out and the beauty of the surrounding area, the sunrise, and the smells of nature from the trees and flowers. They'd miss the animals and talking to other hikers. They would not gain those experiences. That's why we are not given things in this life. We have to work for them. So we can learn and grow. I hope that makes sense and is understandable. 

We taught a member group FHE and talked about our identity and I shared what I learned on the hike. It was a really good lesson and we were definitly teaching with the spirit!

I love you all and pray for you always!! Have a wonderful week!!

Sister Riches

Azusa: The Place of the Skunk

Nov. 4, 2013

I have had an amazing week and a half!! I love being a missionary so much! I have learned so much too! It'll be so amazing to have a ton more knowledge when my mission is done if I'm learning this much in a week and a half! I am doing great! If you couldn't tell from all the exclamation points. I am serving in the Azusa 1st Ward in Azusa, CA. It means place of the skunk, so far no skunks! The members are so nice and so helpful and willing to help with the missionary work! They're all so great!! My companion is Sister S. She is from Logan, UT and been out for 10/11 months. She doesn't count anymore, it makes her too sad. This area is full of people needing to hear the gospel and so many people are so willing to listen to us. You just have to open your mouth and the Lord will help you out! Sister S. is great! She has taught me so much already! I am staying in a backhouse of a members with two Hermanas. It is so fun to get to have four sisters in a house. The Hermanas are great as well! The three sisters have taught me a ton! This is the area that the Elder who was killed in a bike accident was serving. The three sisters knew him very well. Its been so great to hear stories about him and hear how strong their testimonies are after they have been through everything with him. I know that I was put here because I needed to be near these missionaries that knew him so well and to learn from them. I have learned that all those great missionaries that have died on their missions are just helping in the Spirit World teaching those there that need it. I also know that that is where Grandma Hollingshead is and that's what she is doing now just as I am serving here. The Lord is not only hastening His work on the earth but He is hastening His work on the other side of the veil too.

Adjusting has been kinda hard but good. I get waves of homesickness that blast me at times and talking about family has been a really sensitive subject for me because I love you all so much and I want the best for you. That is one of the reasons why I am out here serving. To bring all of you blessings that you would otherwise not receive if I had stayed home. This is where I need to be!  Sis. S. and I today during companion study were talking about how much we've learned and she kept saying to me how much she has learned from me. She said out of all her companions I am the most obedient and the most prepared. It was pretty cool to know that and how she is not worried that I'm going to say something wrong in a lesson. She trusts me because she says that the spirit is with me so strong and that I rely so much on it-not as a crutch but because I know to always rely on the Lord. It's so great to serve with someone who comes from a similar upbringing as me and that she has a strong doctrinal knowledge! 

I guess backing up in time, The rest of the time at the MTC went well. We helped out the new missionaries in our zone and it was really fun! The three new sisters are so cute and so fun! I love them! On our last Sunday my district sang during our sacrament meeting which is our zone. They also have everyone write talks each sunday and no one knows who will speak until they announce it in the meeting. I was called on to talk on Repentance. It was really cool to see how I had prepared and then the Spirit takes over and speaks for you. I love when that happens! My companions left the next morning and I was companions with the other sisters and then in class the elders were my companions. It was pretty weird. When we had to walk to zone teaching the four of us got in the elevator and when we got out there were some sisters studying in the hall and they all looked at me and asked where my companion was and then they said oh sorry are you a teacher? and i told them no my companions left for Florida today and so the elders are my companions. Don't worry I'm not breaking the rules thats what they told me to do. Their looks were HILARIOUS! 

On wednesday we flew to Ontario. It was so great to call home!! I'm sorry I was being a mess! But i just love you all! I sat next to a lady who was a member and housed the missionaries for a while. When we got to CA we met the mission president who is so nice and loving! We had lunch had a breif orientation got our companions then went to work! We had dinner and walked and contacted a lot of people on the way! Then we had a meeting with the ward mission leader. SO much has happened I don't know what to tell you all about!! 

We found a couple new investigators this week and oh yeah, had a baptism! First week and we had a baptism. It was amazing! The spirit was so strong!! B. is 15 and was super excited and showed so much faith to be baptized. She was supposed to be baptized last sunday but her mom wouldn't sign the papers so she fasted and prayed and got a ride to the stake center even though it was cancelled. Some great returned missionaries who are a young couple in the ward went to help her out and her mom signed the papers and she was so excited! Because of her faith she was able to have her baptism! 

I placed my first BOM on Halloween to a guy while we were walking and we had a short lesson with him on the streets. Its was pretty cool. I hope we run into him again, he doesn't have a phone. We've found a lot of people who go to Calvary Chapel who have very similar beliefs as us but teach some anti stuff I believe. We have a return appointment with one guy who we met from there and one who we are going to sit down and talk to soon. I think he's a teacher there. Pretty interesting. 

Riding a bike with a skirt is very interesting. Not as hard as I thought it would be but interesting. Also the classic getting chased by a dog while riding a bike as a missionary...yup that's pretty funny! That happened last night. These little white dogs started chasing us. 

For Halloween we worked for a few hours then went to the churches Trunk-or-treat. I wore Sis. S.s tag and she wore mine. It was pretty funny! Especially when meeting people.

I love you all so much and I am so thankful for all the support you all give me and all the prayers! I keep you all in my prayers and I love you all! Don't be afraid to open your mouth and tell people around you what you believe. 

Love, Sister Celeste Riches

The Church Is True and God Is Great!!

Oct. 23, 2013
Hello Family!!!

So much has happened in the past week and a day!! I love the MTC and my companions are amazing! I am in a tripanionship with Sister B and Sister T. Both of their testimonies are so strong! People have told us that trio's are really hard but so far we all get along and we all love each other. At first teaching was hard but after a while we were able to understand how to flow in our lessons, we are still working on it too. 

On Wednesday the 16th we had a busy day. Left S. and C. and Grandpa and Grandma  really quick at the curb. Thank you again for taking me and coming with me! I then got into my residence hall and put my bags down then it was off to class! That night we had a group teaching workshop where about 50 new missionaries taught one investigator. We did this three different times. The first was really rough! Everyone wanted to talk about the really deep stuff like life after death, pre-earth life and things along that line. The second investigator went great!! We taught about children don't need to be baptized before they are 8 (Moroni 8) because his grandson died when he was a couple days old. The spirit was so strong! The last one also didn't go so well there was no focus. 

Thursday was class and some more workshops. I also met my Branch President and I am the Music Coordinator. I love our Branch Presidency they are so nice! Friday we taught our first lesson! We are lucky to be able to teach two "investigators" because our district is so small- 3 Sister and 3 Elders. Our "investigators" are B. and L. (AKA our teachers role playing an investigator but it is SO real!) Embarrassing story...we are shown a video of the investigators and the teachers were like "Don't focus on if they look familiar" so someone asked if it was him and he said no its not...I didn't realize he was joking so a minute before we went in to teach L.-Sister V.-I found out it was actually her...yeah I felt pretty dumb! But my teachers are amazing and they help out so much! Sister V. is so sweet and Brother B. is so amazing! I swear he will become a General Authority some day!  B. is a former baptist and studied religion. He is really coming along in the lessons..we just finished the first lesson-finally!-but we really know who he is and are teaching him to his needs. Teach people not lessons. L. is a Catholic whose boyfriend is serving a mission so she became more interested in the church. We have invited both to be baptized and they said they will if they receive the answer if what we are teaching them is true.  

We are also teaching M. and now S. M. who we met yesterday! These two are real people from outside either non-members or members who us missionaries teach. We've had one lesson with M. and are teaching her later today. After we taught L. yesterday we were so excited cause the spirit was so strong and it was awesome! So another teacher helped us find a "golden investigator" walking around the campus. He found her on the third floor of our class building and we ran to talk to her...literally ran. So she got all excited cause we were excited! She's from Tennessee and she is super friendly and sweet and her accent is so cute! She's older too. We made a return appointment with her to teach her today as well.

So a cool experience happened with B. in our first lesson! He doesn't live with his family anymore and he doesn't go to church because he had an argument with the pastor. So we began the lesson by singing "I am a Child of God". Instantly the spirit was there and we are not good singers. We began teaching him that God loves him and the spirit was amazing! He started tearing up which we later found out that Brother B. does not cry easily at all! It has happened a few times since then as well, just not as strong. 

Devotional on Sunday and Tuesday was amazing!! It was so great and exactly what I needed! Never Postpone a promoting from the Lord and always BE BOLD! 

So I don't know what else to write just cause all we do is get ready, eat, go to the gym, have personal study, companion study, eat, 3 hr. class, eat, 3 hr. class, plan, then sleep. Our lives are all around our investigators and it's so great!! The food here is really good except there's so much good food it's hard to not eat it all! 

It's been so nice to hear from so many family members while I'm here! Your letters are greatly appreciated! I really love getting mail! Thank you all!!

I love you all so much! and I hope all is well with everyone! Thank you so much for all your support, love, and prayers for me! I know that this is where I am supposed to be and I know that what I am teaching is true! I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to be here serving a mission for the Lord and I know that if we have faith in Jesus Christ all other things in our lives will fall into place and be what they are supposed to be! I love you all so much and I pray for each of you multiple times throughout the day! We pray ALOT as missionaries! It's so great we can talk to our Heavenly Father and receive His help and guidance!

Sister Riches

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven

For my farewell talk I was given the topic of "Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven". While I was at BYU-Idaho, I helped out on the council for the Spring Get Connected-the new student orientation. We planned for the orientation all Winter Semester. Part of our planning was to create a topic for the volunteers that helped us that week. We decided on "Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven" which is the first line in the fourth verse of the Hymn "Praise to the Man" (Hymn 27). That semester and week of Get Connected, my council and I saw so many blessings from the sacrifices we and the volunteers and the students made to be there at the school and to serve during Get Connected. We sacrificed sleep, spring break, our time; some new students sacrificed their families for coming to a church school. Because of these sacrifices the volunteers and the new students were blessed! 

Sacrifice means to give up something we value for the sake of something of greater worth. Sacrifices help us to develop the faith necessary for eternal salvation. Joseph Smith taught that "a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation." How amazing it is that there is a church today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that has this. 

There are many example in the scriptures of people making sacrifices because the Lord asked them to or because they know that if they do then something greater will come. Some of my favorite heroes in the scriptures have mad sacrifices. 

Esther, in the bible, was willing to sacrifice her life in order to save the Jews. She went to the King to talk to him about not harming the Jews. To go unto the King without being invited was punishable by death. Esther was not only blessed with safety that her life was spared, but so were the lives of the Jews. 

In the Book of Mormon we read that Nephi and his family sacrificed a lot to go into the wilderness and do as the Lord had commanded them. They left their wealth, home, comfort, friends but were blessed with many blessing both spiritual and temporal. 

One of the strongest blessing from sacrifices can be seen from the 2,000 Stripling Warriors. Their fathers made a covenant to give up their weapons of war. Later there became a need for protection in their land and they kept their covanent and sacrificed their fatherly roles of protector and their sons went to fight for the freedom and saftey of their families. Becasue of these sacrifices not one of the 2,000 Stripling Warriors were killed.

The early Latter-day Saints sacrificed so much to travel to America and then travel west to build the Church. They also sacrificed so much to build the Salt Lake Temple and the Nauvoo Temple. They sacrificed their best china, time, and talents to build temples. They received so many blessings and miracles during this time. They were blessed with temples and those blessings that come with temple and we are blessed today by their sacrifices. 

Joseph Smith Jr. was persecuted, beat, and eventually sacrificed his life for the church. He was a blessing to us today that we have the restored gospel which he helped in restoring the true church to the earth today. We are still blessed today to have a true and living prophet to lead and direct us in these days. 

As we can see from the examples in the scriptures, everyone's sacrifices are different. Some sacrifices we may have is paying tithing, attending church, repenting, being baptized, reading our scriptures daily, holding FHE, fasting, doing Family History Work, TIME, the list can go on. 

Robert K. Dellenback of the First Quorum of the Seventy said this about tithing. "The faithful contribution of tithes is an outward expression of an inner commitment to sacrifice." As we pay tithing, the windows of heaven will be opened unto us. 

Doing temple work can be a big sacrifice for members of the church. We have a temple so close to us! We don't need to take a plane, train, car, boat, canoe, and foot to just get to the temple. Depending on where you live we can walk or drive a relatively short distance. I have lived in a variety of places and the farthest I have been to a temple was a 5 hour drive. As we go to the temple we will receive so many blessings for the service we do for others. I saw these blessing as I served as a temple worker at the Palmyra Temple. 

I loved in this past General Conference when President Dieter F. Uctdorf told us this story in his talk "Come Join With Us". 
Once there was a man who dreamed that he was in a great hall where all the religions of the world were gathered. He realized that each religion had much that seemed desirable and worthy.
He met a nice couple who represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked, “What do you require of your members?”
We do not require anything,” they replied. “But the Lord asks that we consecrate all.”The couple went on to explain about Church callings, home and visiting teaching, full-time missions, weekly family home evenings, temple work, welfare and humanitarian service, and assignments to teach.
“Do you pay your people for all the work they do?” the man asked.“Oh, no,” the couple explained. “They offer their time freely.”“Also,” the couple continued, “every six months our Church members spend a weekend attending or watching 10 hours of general conference.”“Ten hours of people giving talks?” the man wondered.“What about your weekly church services? How long are they?”“Three hours, every Sunday!”“Oh, my,” the man said. “Do members of your church actually do what you have said?”“That and more. We haven’t even mentioned family history, youth camps, devotionals, scripture study, leadership training, youth activities, early-morning seminary, maintaining Church buildings, and of course there is the Lord’s law of health, the monthly fast to help the poor, and tithing.”
The man said, “Now I’m confused. Why would anyone want to join such a church?”The couple smiled and said, “We thought you would never ask.”
I can just imagine this great hall with tables set up with all the different religions and at one there is a cute elderly senior missionary couple at a table with pass along cards and Books of Mormon set out to tell people about our religion. It makes me so excited because I am going to serve a mission for the church and teach people about this true church. 

I really like Pinterest and while preparing to go on my mission I made a board specifically towards my mission. As I was looking around one day I found this picture of a plaque you might hang in your home. 

This is what I am doing. I am sacrificing my time and leaving my family so that I can bring the people in California unto the truthfulness of the gospel and that they can be with their families forever and all eternity! Missionaries sacrifice their time, school, and leave their friends and family for 18 months or 2 years to go and serve the Lord. It will be very hard for me to leave my family because I love them so much but I know that 18 months is nothing when you look at the eternities that we have to live. I know that as I go serve a mission I will be blessed and grow spiritually and that my family will be blessed for their sacrifices to support me. I also know that as I am on my mission I will bless the lives of many by my example and as I bring others to know of the truthfulness of this church and the gospel and they will receive so many blessings. 

The greatest and ultimate sacrifice of all is the Atonement. The Savior gave His life for us that we might have the opportunity to return to live with Him and Heavenly Father again and that we might be able to repent of our sins and our mistakes and be clean again. This is truly an amazing blessing we have that no matter what things may happen in life, we have the opportunity to repent for our sins and be made clean again. He sacrificed His life that we may live, live in His gospel and His truthfulness. I will forever be grateful and thankful that Christ sacrificed himself that I might be able to be made clean again and that after this life I can go and live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again if I am faithful to the commandments and my covenants. 

In Matthew 16:24-25 Christ is talking to his disciples when he says 
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
I know that as we deny our own desires and follow Christ and be lost in His work, we will be blessed and we will find our life in Him.

I am so thankful for the gift of the Atonement and I know that through it we can become clean again no matter how much we have sinned. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church on the earth today and that it is lead by a true and living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson who receives revelation from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for us in our day. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and that he did translate the Book of Mormon through the blessings of the Holy Ghost and the power of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and it is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know that our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us, His children.

My Story

On October 6, 2012, during the Saturday Morning Session of General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced that boys could serve missions at the age of 18 instead of the previous age of 19. He went on to explain how girls could now start serving missions at the age of 19 instead of 21. I was lucky enough to be there at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah and witness this historical event. I had never been to a live session of conference before and my brother surprised me with tickets to the Saturday Morning Session. Little did I know that that day would change my life. This is the day I initially decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

I started my papers and had everything completed except for my dentist paperwork and appointment when I decided that I didn't want to serve a mission anymore. I continued school for a year, dated a lot, had fun with my friends, and just thought "Oh I'm just going to get married and not go on a mission anymore." This is not what the Lord wanted me to do. The topic of missions kept coming up around me and I kept pushing the thought of serving aside. My bishop called me into his office one Sunday morning and I knew it was about my mission papers-it was a different Bishop then the one I began my papers with. He was so excited I was going to serve a mission and as I had known all along that was what I was going to do. So I explained to him how I had put the idea aside but I knew that was what the Lord wanted me to do. So when he asked if there was anything he could do for me I asked him if he could keep me in his prayers that I might be at ease and be okay with serving a mission cause the whole idea of leaving my family and new friends and opportunities at school behind scared me.

Later that week I had my dentist appointment and finished my papers. Later I got my interviews with the Bishop and Stake President, and then my papers were finally submitted! It was so great to see they were submitted, of course I was still scared and nervous about serving. 

On July 27, 2013 I received my call. I am called to serve in the Arcadia California English Speaking Mission for 18 months! This was such a tender mercy to me that I received my call that day-12 days after my papers were officially submitted to Salt Lake- because I wanted to receive my temple endowment the first week of August and I was leaving to go home from school in 4 days. I was able to meet with my Bishop and Stake President the next day to receive my temple recommend to receive my endowment. I would not have been able to meet with them if I did not have my call. 

On August 6, 2013 I received my endowment in the Palmyra Temple with my mom, dad, two older brothers, their wives, and my Grandma and Grandpa who had permission from their mission president in Kirtland Ohio to come for this special occasion. My family was together for a week for a family vacation and I wanted my siblings to be there when I received my endowment.

While I was at the temple that day, I was asked if I would like to be a temple worker before I left on my mission. I accepted and was so excited to serve in the temple. It was such an amazing experience serving in the temple and learning the ordinances there and serving the people who came, along with the countless others. 

Today I gave my mission farewell talk and tomorrow I will be set apart as a Missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am so excited I have the opportunity to serve a mission for 18 months!