Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Hope This Is Inspirational.

Hello Family and Friends!

Well this week has been interesting. Whitewashing is not easy! The elders left us with a few  investigators but we have only met three out of the 8 (two in a family, three in a family, and 3 individuals). It's so hard to know where everything is and where everyone is located and to know who to go visit and who might be progressing most and who needs our help most...all the normal missionary problems. We are praying for miracles daily! And the spirit to help guide us to  where to go. Our daily planning takes about an hour to do because we try to figure who we should see and where to go. We have been able to dot out where all the members live and make our area into smaller areas and get a big map from the clerks office to put stickers and label who lives where so we can better use the Lord's time. I love our map!!

Sister M is awesome! She is so sweet and a really good teacher! I need to learn to not talk as much...I need to be better at letting there be some silence to give us time to hear the spirit and for the spirit to teach those we meet. I tend to get on the "oh they don't have much time and if we pause too long they'll get annoyed because they have other things to do", but what is more important than the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Nothing. There is so much I can and am learning from her! 

The members here are awesome! I am being well feed, dinners every night--now we need to work on having nonmembers and less-actives feeding us or at dinner appointments so we are more on purpose. Although we have been able to create some good bonds with the members and trust for them to think we are good missionaries and give us names. We must be good missionaries since they trust us with names after meeting us for about an hour. I sure hope so!! Also I am safe and I am happy, I love being on a mission! The members are so missionary minded as well! The ward is doing a missionary specialists class where the bishop picks a few families to attend during Sunday school to learn from preach my gospel and then by the end of the 4-5 week class they are to have a name they give the missionaries to start teaching! The first bunch just ended so hopefully we'll be getting names soon! But everyone is so loving and willing to help. They're also super excited to have sisters because this ward has NEVER had sisters before. Another interesting fact.. In this stake they are number 1 for temple goers and for sending members out on missions but last place for convert we have to change that! The members are so ready for miracles to happen and so ready to fellowship people into the ward! I'm so excited for this ward!!

We walk a lot here because riding our bikes is only nice going you don't have to pedal hardly ever! But going back home...that's a different story! It takes about 5 minutes to get somewhere downhill and about 45 min to go back up...not worth it!! Unless we bike down and bus back..that'll be faster. I hate biking now...hate's a strong word..strongly DISLIKE! So I looked on the map yesterday at how far approximately B is from me...he's home is about 2-3 miles away. His college is outside of my area however. Pretty crazy! At dinner this past week with a member we went in and introduced ourselves and after I said, "I'm Sister Riches" the father said, "So you're B's sister." And I said "Yup..WAIT! How do you know my brother?" Turns out they've had some classes together and see each other all the time. Other people are shocked when they find out he's so close! 

It is so nice to get emails and letters from you guys!! They make my weeks!!! It's so nice to hear from others and hear their missionary moments! Pray for the opportunity to have missionary moments with friends and family and don't be afraid to open your mouth. If you don't open your mouth and tell them about the truth who will? I am so thankful for this gospel and all the blessing that it has given me and my family! I want to share it with everyone and help them have the same blessings and happiness. If you are struggling with anything just turn to our Savior. He is the one who can help you with anything that you are going through! He knows exactly how you feel and exactly what will help you. Humble yourself so you can listen to His words and study and pray until you have found the answer. I know that He truly does answer our prayers. He answers in His own time but it's for our benefit and our help. I know that this is the true restored gospel on the earth and that Heavenly Father are Jesus Christ love us very much and that Christ lives. He lives to help us in our times of need and to weep with us and rejoice with us, even over the small things like finding a lost sock to big things of comfort in hard times. I love all of you and pray you are all doing wonderfully and staying warm (those where it is below 70 everyday). 

Sister Celeste Riches

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

3 Months In the Lords Army and TRANSFERS!!!


This past week was AMAZING! We were able to find 4 new investigators and we were able to meet the majority of our goals!!! It was such a blessing after last week's hard times. This past week we still had meetings and transfers and got held up in places and yet we were still able to reach all our goals pretty much by saturday and exceed a few!

Turns out I got sick on Tuesday. Flu like symptoms. Fun stuff! But we still went out and worked and had a great day! We saw so many miracles happen and it is so wonderful to see as you pray and fast for miracles to happen that the Lord does hear your prayers! He hears every wish of your heart and every pray that is said. I know that the Lord loves each and every one of us and He wants to give us what we want, just as a mother and father want to give their children all they ask for and the cool thing is, the Lord CAN give us everything we ask for. But that's the catch, we have to ask. We have to take that action and ask the Lord and then we have to do all we can to be able to receive what we have asked for and do our part. Sometimes if your asking if you should do something, like move someplace or apply somewhere or something else, you sometimes just have to make the decision yourself and then pray if it's the right decision and/or just do it! The only way we can be blessed is if we ACT!

So this past monday was TRANSFERS! On Wednesday night the Assistant to the President called us for Sister P. to tell her she was training! Which meant 4 things could happen...1) I'd be transferred, 2)She'd whitewash with the new sister, 3)We'd be in a trio, or 4) We'd Both move...So Saturday night the transfer calls came and of course we got a call and I was transferred to the Claremont 2nd Ward!!! I am now companions with Sister Mattingley and we are pinkwashing (aka whitewashing-replacing elders)!!! I am so excited to see how the work moves forward here and the miracles we will see! And yes I'm super close to B. and T. now! Especially his school... That just goes to show that the Lord needs me here because if President picked where we would go I doubt he would put me so close to family. 

Well, I am so happy for the blessings of the Temple and that we can be together with our families forever and help those family members who have passed on from this life receive their temple ordinance so they too can be with us forever. I love this work and all those I have and will serve with! I know that this is where the Lord wants me to be at this time to grow and be a tool in His hands to help our brothers and sisters come closer to Christ and eternal life!

Sister Celeste Riches

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Breakfast with the Ponies!

Hello Family and Friends!

Well this past week has been a big learning experience for me. Let me start at the beginning of the week...

On Monday we were able to go play basketball and dodge ball with our Zone. It was a lot of fun! I was also able to catch up on some letters. 

On Tuesday I finally started editing my Facebook. Mom, Dad, family...I am sorry but my Mission President has asked that we delete our Family members from our Facebook as we are online missionaries. Otherwise we will not be able to work on Facebook. I'm sorry but I'll add you all again later. Thanks for understanding! This way we can stay on our purpose as missionaries. We were able to have an awesome lesson with a recent convert as well. It so amazing how things click because of the Spirit.

Thursday was the highlight of the week. We had a Mission Conference with a person from the Missionary Department. To start off it was Elder Donaldson who was the Mission President in the District 2 Videos. He's so awesome and inspired and bold! Secondly, he expressed to us how this Mission Conference is a very unusual thing to happen. First it is very odd that a member from the Missionary Department came to a mission to do a training. Normally it is a General Authority. Second of all, It is very odd that he came and trained the WHOLE mission. He told us this has NEVER happened before. He received permission to come help us in a new way of teaching. We are to teach 20 minute lessons and teach simply for understanding so that those we teach can learn by the spirit and we are their guides to help them on their journey of learning about Jesus Christ. This seems like common sense that this is how we are to teach but he was able to teach us HOW to do this. We are teaching from the pamphlets that President Gordon B. Hinckley created. In the first lesson about the Restoration it is to be done in 7 minutes!!! It can happen to. We're still practicing. It is very simple and uses the pictures in the pamphlets. He also taught us how to do really good street contacts. Normally people introduce the church and that we are missionaries...people aren't blind they can see our tag and there's a ton of us. If they don't know they'll ask. So we go and introduce Jesus Christ. We say, "Can I ask you a question?" People generally say yes, if they say no.."Okay you have a nice day!" so yes..."Do you feel Jesus Christ's love in your life?" and then either "Would you like to?" or "Would you like to feel His love more in your life?" if they say no "Would you bet your eternity or your family on that?" (Pretty Bold right!?) if they say yes we set up an appointment and get their information and start teaching. I am so excited to try this out and see it all play through! Did you know that there are about 1,700 people in every mission area around the world that would accept the missionary lessons tomorrow and 10% of that would be baptized tomorrow!? It was an amazing conference and as I went in I had some questions that I had been pondering for myself and it was amazing that as I listened and learned by the Spirit that they were answered. 

Lessons this week were hard to get. Sister P and I are still trying to figure out what we need to do or not do so this doesn't happen again. We've been praying and fasting for help and we have faith that this week will be much better. We are optimistic about this new way of teaching and finding. We also learned that this work cannot be done without the Lord's help-once again common sense but so true! 

But Today! We went with one of the office sisters, Sister W, and went to the Santa Anita Racetrack to have breakfast with the ponies! In the morning the jockeys will warm up and work the horses. I got hot chocolate and french toast and BACON! It was really fun! We were also able to get a lot done when we got home so now we have time for emails and some down time. Which is nice! 

Thank you all for your prayers and support! I really do appreciate everything you have done for me. I can not express how much it means to me to have such amazing family and friends that love and care about me! I pray for you all and hope those of you who are not in warm weather right now are safe and warm! 

Sister Riches

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Tender Mercies and Smiles"

Hello Family and Friends!

This week has been alright...I guess first of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I think I said that last week too...Oh well, short term memory I guess. I hope you all had a good new year! It's a great time to start over and make changes and also to bring your lives in closer harmony with our Savior Jesus Christ. Think of one thing you can do better to come closer to our Savior and our Heavenly Father. He has given us this life, the least we can do is come closer to Him in some way.

It has been so cool to be on a mission and have people tell you that they recognize that we are representatives of Jesus Christ and that we have the Spirit with us. That is so rewarding to know that others can see it and feel it. It makes me happy. There have been a few experiences this week where those we work with have told us that they can see the Spirit of the Lord in our eyes and can notice a difference when our tongues are loosed and the Spirit takes over. I love when this happens. However, I can never remember what I said or what was said after this happens. 

My New Years Resolutions are to 1. Write in my journal every day, 2. Write down at least one Tender Mercy a day, and 3. Take 1 picture a day. So far so good! I have loved seeing all the Tender Mercies the Lord has given me throughout the day! Last week I lost my pen, this pen is a nicer pen that you buy refills for and I got it cause it's one that works really well to write on pass along cards. So I lost it and a few days later a member gave us a ride and guess what!? It was on the seat! Just chilling there on the seat in the car, it hadn't fallen down to the floor or gotten lost in the cracks on the seat! I was so happy!! 

We did a lot of service this week as well. We helped one of our neighbors clean up her ivy for a little bit on Wednesday then on Saturday on exchanges Sister P. and I helped our other side neighbor with cutting down a tree and bundling up the branches. I have a video of the tree coming down! It's pretty cool! He was very impressed with how we practice our faith and help all those around us not just those in our religion. It was a cool experience! 

One of the families we are working with is progressing really well! We hope that they will come back to church soon, they are such amazing, sweet people! I love them! They're just like family away from home! All those we work with are just like family! It's really great!

We had a confirmation on Sunday! You can see the Spirit in her smile! She's such an example to her family who her parents came to church on Sunday and at a lesson we had Saturday night they can feel the Spirit we bring as well as when we were at the baptism and the other baptism we went to with her family. I am so excited for their family and to see their progression! 

I love this gospel so much. Sunday was a really amazing day, hard because no one was home when we tried but good because of the tender mercies we saw. I love being a missionary and focusing so much on the Lord and doing His will. When we fully submit ourselves to Him, He will help us in all things and bless us so much more than we can ever imagine. 

Have a wonderful week and talk to those around you, family, friends, coworkers, those people at the store about the gospel. Or even just smile. There are so many people going through hard times that we can't see from the outside. Walking around today we talked with a man who goes running around Azusa everyday and knows just about everyone, especially those who live at the parks and in the streets. He is so friendly and happy. He complimented our smiles and I had a thought that I told him: If each of us smile to at least one person a day, that smile will travel around the world because it'll make them smile and pass that smile on to someone else. A smile is contagious. I think Shel Silverstine or Dr. Seuss or someone like that said something along those lines once. It is so true! Keep smiling and bring up the gospel and you yourself will ultimately be happier! 

I love you all!

Love, Sister Celeste Riches

PS. I should be on Facebook this week which means that it is for missionary purposes only and that casual communication to family and friends is to be done in email or letters, not on Facebook. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

How Great Shall Be Your Joy!

Hello Family and Friends!

This week has been a pretty good one. Because we had a baptism yesterday for A. so we were able to see her about everyday! She has strengthened my testimony so much and she is a blessing in my life. She is so friendly and has such a drive and desire to learn and do what is right. It has been so cool as we have been teaching her to see how the Holy Ghost has been teaching her. I am so happy that the Lord has blessed me to be with her up until now to begin teaching her and watch as she progresses to baptism and to help her Endure to the End.

This experience has helped me to understand the scripture in D&C 18: 15-16 because as I have been dedicating each and every day to the Lord to bring "some soul" unto Him, I have helped Him bring A. and that is only one soul but the joy and happiness that our Heavenly Father and Savior and Brother Jesus Christ have now that she has come unto Him is so great! I am so blessed to be here and to have been a tool in the Lord's hand to help bring a soul unto Him. I am so thankful for being a missionary despite how hard it gets and how sometimes I get discouraged but as I turn outward and turn upward to the Savior, I am helped and blessed. It's amazing how little we have to do to be blessed but it's taking that step to take action that is why we are blessed. We are given to many blessings that there is no way we will ever be able to pay it back. Such great love and grace the Savior gives to us!

A.'s baptism of course was the highlight of this past week. We also were able to set a date with a new investigator for baptism. I am so excited for her. She's 11 and reminds me so much of S.!! 

Last Monday we were finally able to decorate our Christmas Tree and make pumpkin bars and cookies! I am trying more and more mexican food while I am here and I love it! Pozolle is a big tradition for the Holiday's as is Tamales! Pozolle is pretty good, its a mexican soup with hominy an chicken or pork. I don't care for hominy too much but other than that it was really good! I also have munido (?) in the fridge from a member to's cow intestine. I'm excited! I also want to try Bulute...a duck egg with the duck embryo and you can see it forming...kinda gross but I've heard it's actually pretty good...Go look up pictures!

For Christmas I skyped home!!! Second highlight of the week! It was so nice to see Mom, Dad, and S.! Even though I've seen them two months almost three months ago S. has changed so much! It's fun to read her emails and read how her testimony is growing so much!! After we made sugar cookies with the elders to give to investigators and families we are working with. It was fun. We had about three dinners and since Christmas Ever I have not felt hungry at all!!!!! We have so many sweets!!!! Everyone decided to give us cookies and chocolates! It covers my bottom shelf in my kitchen cupboard..there are pictures.

So A.'s baptism was amazing! She asked me to give the talk on the Holy Ghost and it was very sweet! I was so worried about bawling through the whole thing but I was blessed that I only teared up a little! I didn't want to be a distraction. But she was so happy and excited and now after being baptized she is so excited and happy! She couldn't describe how she felt but it was awesome and she was just so happy! 

Today we hiked to the A again at 5:30am!!! It was a good hike, I'm not as sore as I was last time...yet...

I am so thankful to be a tool in the Lord's hand to help Him in His work!! I love you all and hope you had a good Christmas and remembered the Savior and all He has done for us! Thank you for all the love and support and letters and emails everyone has sent! I really appreciate it!! Have a Happy New Year! You all are always in my prayers!

Love, Sister Celeste Riches