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