Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Because of Him

Hello Family!

This past week went well. We taught a good amount of lessons but to
the same two or three investigators. We need to find new investigators
so bad! But one of the sisters we are teaching was interviewed
for baptism yesterday and is going to be baptized next Sunday on the
27th! We are so excited for her! We thought it would take a few months
before she would be prepared to make the necessary changes to be
baptized but she did it and she understands that it is Gods will she
is to be baptized. I am so happy for her that she can be washed clean
and receive a remission of her sins and make that special promise with
God to always remember Him and keep His commandments. The following
Sunday she will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

We had a really great district meeting this past Thursday where we
really focused on the doctrine of Christ. Faith, repentance, baptism,
receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. This is
what I, as a missionary, have been called to do. To invite people to
follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, His gospel. In my
studies I just finished reading 3 Nephi where the Savior comes to
America. While He was here in America He taught His gospel. He
emphasizes the importance of baptism so many times and in so many
different ways right after each other so all can understand and all
can see the importance of it. There are so many blessings that come
from baptism! Being able to have the Holy Ghost with you always which
is one of the most important gifts Heavenly Father could give us. A
guide and protection and a way we can hear/feel Him. We were
challenged in the meeting to have at least one baptism invite a day.
It could be a reminder, asking it specifically, or talking about it in
the lesson. We were able to do this at every lesson we taught with our
investigators and plan to continue doing this. We are so much more
focused on our purpose and it helps the investigator realize why we
are there and why it is so important...hopefully.

It's been getting pretty hot here but it's good. There are little
lizards everywhere that I have developed a slight fear of them. They
remind me of snakes with tiny little legs. We were able to serve at
the Pomona Hospital this past week and that was nice. We helped file
papers. We took the sister getting baptized to a baptism on
Saturday and she is so excited to be baptized! After her interview she
was so overwhelmed with excitement and feeling The Lord's atonement in
her life that she was crying and that made my joy so full!

For Easter we had a really nice sacrament meeting where they centered
everything around the sacrament. They had some musical numbers before
the sacrament and a talk about the importance of the sacrament then
the sacrament hymn and the sacrament. Then another talk then the
closing song and prayer. It was a really nice meeting we had 5
investigators there. The Jewish family, the sister getting baptized, and   another sister we are teaching.
They all stayed the whole three hours and enjoyed it. We later had
dinner at a members home and it as he really good. The day before we
had a dinner with another member and their extended family that was
fun and really good! It's hard at members houses when they start
talking about movies and school and work and future because that gets
me distracted really easy. I am working on keeping my eyes single to
the glory of God. By thinking about what I am going to do when I get
home, or what I am going to study, or what movies I get to see, or what
is coming out, it takes me away from my purpose as a missionary to
serve others and bring them unto Christ.

We had a good lesson with another sister we are teaching on
Saturday. We did a scripture chase in the New Testament to go over the
gospel of Jesus Christ. She loved this , she knows the New Testament
really well and she loved reading and studying those scriptures. She
committed to be baptized but first she wants to take care of her
divorce before she is baptized. We are so excited for her. Everything
we have taught her, she gets it. She understands and she remembers and
can tell us what we have taught. She has such a drive and desire to
come closer to Christ and learn!

We had a cool lesson with the sister getting baptized on
Wednesday at a members house. We watched the movie "Finding Faith in
Christ". She ended up teaching us about faith. She had mentioned that
Christ had to have a lot of faith in the Father to do what He did in
teaching and performing the atonement. I had never thought that Christ
had faith. Even though it sound silly that He wouldn't. But He truly
is our great and ultimate example. I am so thankful for what He has
done for everyone of us. That because of Him we can be with our
families together forever and that we can return to live with Heavenly
Father again. He heals all wounds and because of Him, He saved us from
both physical and spiritual death. I am so thankful for my Savior and
all He helps me with! It is because of Him I can be a better person
and continue in learning the gospel.

I love you all and am so appreciative of the support and letters and
emails I get! Thank you so much! Happy Easter! Go to Easter.mormon.org
and watch the video there. It's amazing!

Love, Sister Celeste Riches

Monday, April 14, 2014

6 Months Serving In The Lord's Army!!!

Dear family,

First off I can not believe that this Wednesday will mark 6 months out
in the mission field! I feel like I just arrived here yesterday! I
still feel like I have no clue how to do missionary work or how to
teach or speak by the Spirit. It's crazy to think that I am 1/3 done!
But so far I have loved being here. I don't want to say I've loved
every minute cause missionary work is really hard. I have definitely
been learning to accept disappointment but to still be strong and
press on. If anything I am learning so much about how important and
vital this gospel is. How vital baptism and confirmation are to being
able to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and our families
again. The only way we can live together as eternal families is by
keeping covenants and having the blessings of sealing which can only be
done in temples by someone who has that authority! I know how bad I
want to be with my family and extended family forever that I can
imagine how bad everyone in the world wants to be with theirs. It is a
common belief that we will be together forever with our families but
it doesn't come that simply. It has to come by the sealing power found
in God's temples along with other covenants. Just like it says in James
2:20, "Faith without works is dead". We can have all the faith
something can or will happen or in something but nothing happens until
we act. Until we make a choice and act on that, only then can we
receive the blessings that God has to share with us.

This week has been pretty good. On Thursday we were able to set one of
our investigators with the baptism date of April 27th! She has been a
cage fighter, comic book artist, and a chef. She also was recently
diagnosed with multiple sclerosis so I understand a little bit about
what she is dealing with because of my mom, but that in no place means
I know what she's going through because I don't. We are really excited
for the miracle that has happened! That she is willing to make the
changes needed in her life to come closer to Christ and take that
step, that action, to gain those blessings!

Saturday night was transfer calls and......................we didn't
get one! A few days earlier. President emailed us both saying, "Great
work! You have really developed the work in the Claremont 2nd ward. I
am very impressed with you and Sister M." (Of course he
replaces Sister M's name with mine in her email.) it is so
cool that he is proud of the work we are doing but there is still so
much more we could be doing! I am so happy to be staying in this area
because I love it so much! It is hard but I love it! This ward is
amazing and they are so helpful and kind and so strong in the gospel.
They understand it and are on top of things! I also am so excited to
still be with Sister M. for our third transfer together! We
get along really well and we're pretty much best friends! When members
were asking about transfers they all mentioned how sad it would be if
they split us up! We would've cried so bad if they did! But they
didn't so now we're happy! So thankful The Lord is keeping us

Sunday the church released an awesome new Mormon message/video for the
Easter Season. You can find it on YouTube by typing in Because of
Him...you might need to add Mormon message or something I don't know
cause we can't access YouTube. But it is also on
Mormon.org/BecauseofHim. GO WATCH IT!!!!!!!!!!!! We've watched it at
least 10 times already it's about 2 1/2 minutes and so worth your
time! It is amazing what we have been blessed with Becasue of Him. And
for you tech savvy people, #BecauseofHim on twitter or Facebook. The
church has purchased the space on YouTube to put the ad on there and
on other sites as well as on the YouTube masthead on YouTube on Easter
Sunday. Over 100 million people will view that video! I think it's a
genius idea! As missionaries we've been asked to share it with
everyone and on our Facebook. Go post it to all of your Facebooks and
share it with friends and family! And ask them what they have Because
of Him!

Because of Him, I can be with my family together after this life, I
can have the hope that this is not all we have and that there is
someone who loves me so much more than I can image who loves me and
always wants the best for me. Because of Him, I can receive peace and
a surety that all my mistakes are made clean and that I can be worthy
to be in the presence of my Heavenly Father. Because of Him, I don't
have to wonder and stress about what will happen after this life and
question it. Because of Him, I know who I am, I am a daughter of the
Most High and loved by Him. Because of Him, I can live again. Because
of Him, I am who I am today, I have the traits and qualities I have
learned from Him and strive to be like Him every day! Because of Him,
we have everything!

Love, Sister Riches

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Families Can Be Together Forever

This week went  by really fast! But it was a good one. Monday after I
emailed we went to almost every grocery store in town! It was
crazy...I dislike shopping after busy p-days. But the zone activity we
went to was fun to play games with the other missionaries. We are a
pretty unified zone. Which is nice. I didn't get too close with my
last zone cause we never had time to go to the activities.

On Tuesday we taught an awesome lesson. We were able to have the
lesson at a members home that loved a few houses down. The spirit was
so strong. We talked about prophets and helped her understand that
Thomas S. Monson is not a false prophet and help clear up some
questions about who can be a prophet. It was a really good lesson!

On Wednesday we did service for a less active family. We then went to
visit a few investigators in the same apartment complex but we kinda
got kicked out by the manager. I guess we are supposed to call the
resident to meet us at the gate every time- first time ever hearing
this after 3 months. Our investigators have given us the code to get
in too. Oh well... So instead we started walking and we had no clue
who to go see next. It was a cold day and we were tired and had no
clue. So we ended up sitting on a bus bench an decided to go looking
for potentials on that street. We found a teenager who was the
daughter of the potential. Was figured out when we could come back and
when would be best. So we went back on Friday. First we made some
phone calls to get a member for a later lesson but no one answered and
everyone was having date night. As we were making calls we saw the
daughter and it liked like two friends leave the house. We got kinda
bummed cause she left. We figured maybe the mom would be inside. So we
we walked up to their apartment. The same time she was walking back up
to the apartment and the two other girls followed. We said hi to the
one in front and knocked on the door. The girl in front said hi I'm
here. Turns out she was the mom! She looked in her late 20s/30s. Not
mother age. But she is! She let us in right away and grabbed chairs
for us to sit down on. It was as if she knew how we taught lessons.
But the elders who had talked to them before never had a lesson. She
was always too busy with school which she just graduated. But she had
awesome questions for us. A lot about the Book of Mormon. So we
answered them then started to teach the restoration. When we go to the
apostasy people normally have no clue what famine or apostasy means.
Famine is in a scripture in the pamphlet we read with them. They did.
The mom knew right away what apostasy meant. We said that apostasy was
when people rejected Jesus Christ's teachings. And she said yeah it's
a turning away from God. It was cool! We told about Joseph smith and
then invited the mom to say a prayer and ask if he was a prophet. She
accepted the invitation and there was a long pause. We thought maybe
she was saying it in her head like a past investigator did. But after
a minute she began to pray. She asked if God would let her know if not
only Joseph Smith was a prophet of God but if he was real. When she
closed we looked at her and she said I got my answer. We were kinda
taken aback. We asked what the answer as thinking it would be a no or
you'll know in time type of answer. (Sad to see our lack of faith....)
but she said he told her yes, he was! Once she said that we weren't
shocked. We asked what that meant to her to know he was a prophet and
she said that she had a lot to learn and a lot to study. We then
invited her to be baptized and she accepted! We talked about how she
does have a lot to learn but we are here to help her understand and
learn. Her two daughters were there too. One 18 the other 15. The 18
year old who we talked to before said she prayed while her mom prayed
and hadn't gotten an answer yet but would keep praying then the 15
year old gave us a critic of our teaching. It was cute! She told us it
is very easy for her to believe what we had taught because we taught
with a lot of sincerity and there was a peace. She said we know what
we are talking about and that makes things more believable too. She
said she's also pray and ask. We are so excited to continue teaching
this family! They are all so prepared!

On Thursday we had an awesome zone meeting. It was all about setting
goals and having a vision. It is to be applied when planning for our
investigators and also good to have the investigator set goals and
make plans for their learning. It was very uplifting and motivational!
Made us excited to weekly plan the next day!

Saturday and Sunday was CONFERENCE!!!! I loved conference so much! I
got so much out of it! I have no clue what talk as my favorite. The
first these sessions we were at the stake center the last session we
went to a members home because another member was going there and
bringing a friend. We we're hoping one of our investigators could go
there too but she wasn't able to. I loved the emphasis on making and
keeping sacred covenants. Also the importance of family scripture
study and prayer and family home evening. Tons of messages about
charity and Christ's love. There was also a lot of attention about our
ancestors and their conversions. Mom, do you know who was our first
ancestor to join the church and their story? Does anyone know? I would
really like the name and story. Any actually of our ancestors who
converted and their story and their sacrifices.

Something cool at conference, the BYUI president Kim B. Clark was
released as a 70 and then my mission president Jorge T. Becerra got
called to be an area 70! Sister M. and I looked at each other
and were curious if we heard right. We turned around to look at the
elders three and they were freaking out so we figured we had heard
right. Also there's a cool picture one of his friends posted on his
Facebook it's funny! So that was exciting news, I knew people of the
names being said! That's never happened to me before!

Another cool thing about conference was at the Sunday morning session
we had 5 investigators there. We all filled a long middle row in the
stake center chapel! It was nice too cause the bishop came to that
session and said hi to them all. We were happy that he could see we
are working hard and doing the Lords work! We were so blessed to have
those investigators there! We are so thankful to God! It was the
Jewish man and his wife and son, an investigator who we've been
planning on dropping because she hasn't been reading or praying or
coming to church and then another investigator who may be closer to
baptism then we think. She's been keeping the word of wisdom and we
see this action and wonder if she will act on a few other things she
is struggling with. She already calls herself Mormon and this is her

I loved all the talks! I really can't pick a favorite this year...they
were all amazing! Elder M. Russell Ballards talk was perfect for
missionary work! President Uchtdorf was amazing as always! I loved how
there was such an emphasis on the temple. To me there was a lot of two
about temple sealings and I realized how important they are. I want
all my family to be with me in heaven. It will not be heaven without
them there with me. The only way they can be there with me is if we
are sealed together as a family in the temple and if we all make and
keep those sacred covenants! I could not bear that any of my family
members should endure endless torment, yea, even the very thought does
cause me to quake and tremble. If any of my family is reading this and
are not keeping their covenants made in baptism, priesthood, and or
temple, please come back. I love you all so much and I do not want any
one of my family members to be unhappy. I know that pure true
happiness comes from keeping the commandments and our covenants. And
that will enable us to live together in the celestial kingdom with
Heavenly Father. I know that families can be together forever. It's
all dependent on the choices we all make.

I am so thankful for the family and the standards that I have been
raised by. I am so thankful for the gospel and the teachings of Jesus
Christ and that we have these truths again on the earth. In different
things I have experienced so far on my mission I realize I have taken
so much for granted that most people do not home. Like a loving and
supportive family, mother, father, siblings, and extended family. I am
so thankful for my living situations that I have taken for granted.
There is so much chaos in the world and in homes. I'm glad we have the
gospel to help this!

Love, Sister Celeste Riches