Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Language of the Spirit

July 26th 2010

The last few weeks have been crazy busy, and even today is going to be fairly busy as well. In fact this week is going to be slightly disfunctional when it comes to how a missionary's schedule normally goes. I'm excited for what the week has in store though!

For 2 days this week I am going to be going to "leadership trainings" down in Moses Lake. They are going to be from 8 am to 4 pm, Tues. Wed. and Thursday. Since Moses Lake is 1 hr 1/2 to 2 hr drive...this means we are leaving Wenatchee at about 6 am....and wouldn't get home until about 6. SO, Tues night I will be staying in Moses Lake, probably with Sister Naylor and her companion Sis. Olsen. My companion Sister Perez will be on splits with one of the other sisters here in Wenatchee and will go to the appointments we have planned here. By us staying in Moses one night, we won't have so much of a lack of sleep as we would if we were having to get up at 430am 3 days this week (time to get ready in the morning and drive to where the AP's would be picking us up). SO, one night in Moses...2 nights coming back. It shall be a very interesting series of events, but I am excited to go to these leadership trainings! Plus I will get to see Sister Naylor too, which is always a good bonus!

Today as you know is P-DAY! Today we are planning to go check out one of the tourist towns about 30 min from here known as Leavenworth. We'll prob be up there for a few hours, and then come back...finish laundry and writing letters (if we have time lol) and then have dinner. Tonight Sister Wells is taking us to get some yummy olive garden before our p-day is through. THen we have 2 amazing lessons lined up, one with Koty and the other with Alicia and her 2 daughters who we are now teaching (Jessica and Merissa). We are so very excited for all the people in whom we are teaching right now!

In other news, we put 2 more people on date for baptism this week!!!! Neftali, who I told you a little bit about via tapes. We are so excited for him! And then Ireno, who is a miracle story in and of itself. We taught Ireno for the first time last night and it was the most amazing spiritual lesson I've had thus far on my mission. Ireno is a very special guy, just something about him. When he looks at me in the eyes, I feel like I've known him before. And I got the impression last night, that reminded me of something that was said in my setting apart blessing about that I would meet people on my mission that would have a familiarity about them and that I would recognize, and they would be familiar with me too. I feel like Ireno is one of these people. I have been on the search for that ever since I've been on my mission, but have yet to really experience anything such as this. There is a unique thing about Ireno though. We're not positive on what it is exactly, but we believe he has a speach disability. He seems to understand everything when you are talking to him...but he is slower in responding and speaking. It is somewhat difficult to understand him but last night, I know it was the language of the spirit in which we were speaking. Within the first couple minutes of us teaching him I could feel the spirit so strongly and I could feel so much love for him. (ps/ Feeling christlike love for complete strangers upon first introductions is quite the experience-let me tell you) As we were talking with him, I felt as though I wasn't even speaking Spanish. Although I know it was Spanish that was coming out of my mouth, I felt I was speaking to him-spirit to spirit. I felt like I knew him and that I was supposed to be there, right time, right place. Then came the strongest impression, to both my companion and I, that we needed to extend the baptismal invitation. My comp and I found this out later, that the both of us had received the same prompting about the same time. We kept teaching and the prompting came even stronger. THis was a different scenario for us, though, and it was hard not to push back the prompting until we got further into the lesson...but finally, after my heart had been pounding for 10 min straight I turned to my comp and said in english "extend the baptismal invitation"...more or less to get the confirmation to see if she was on the same page as I was and as the spirit was directing. Turns out, she had been receiving the same prompting...and we did just that. We invited Ireno to be baptized and he said yes! He was so happy when we asked him and he asked when...we set the date for Aug. 28. We told him that there was alot we needed to teach still, but that we would help him to feel ready by that date. The spirit was so strong! I cannot even begin to put it into words! It was a miracle experience, and truly one of the most amazing things I have experienced thus far on my mission. It was one of those sacred spiritual experiences that I guess can't easily be put into words. We are seeing miracles guys! That is all I really can say more about everything that is going on with missionary work here in the beautiful Wenatchee Valley!

SO we have 3 on dates for the month of August!
Koty- Aug. 14
Neftali- Aug. 21
Ireno - Aug. 28

Please, please, please keep these people in your prayers. We are going to be fasting for them sometime this week. We know that the advesary truly tests and works on those who have commited to baptism, because he will stop at nothing to keep us from doing what is right and following the example of our Savior.

It is amazing to see how at the start of this transfer, we had about 7 investigators - none of which were progressing. Now we have I believe over 20. We got 7 new investigators this week and 8 last week! The work is moving forward. I honestly feel like I personally have nothing to do with it too. I feel that I truly have become only an instrument in the Lord's hands. This is His work, and we are only the tools set in place to help move it along. I know that my number one responsibility as a missionary is to do all that I can to remain intune with the spirit, so that He can continue to work through me to bring God's other children into His loving embrace.

I know this church is true with all my heart! My entire being is changing, day in and day out. I am learning so much and it has been such a blessing to be able to recognize the Lord's hand in my life and in the lives of all those around me, every single day that I have been blessed to be here. Each day truly is a blessing to be alive. It's one more opportunity for us to learn and grow, and to love and serve those around us. Remember family, this life is not about perfection but it is about progression. Each day we try to emmunlate our lives after the Savior, and strive to have HIs image in our countance, which gets us one step closer to our ultimate destination. We can all live in the presence of God in the Celestial Kingdom again someday, and I have the faith and the desire to do so! I love you guys!

Make today better than yesterday :)

A Week of Miracles

July 19th 2010

Wow! What an amazing week! I cannot even begin to describe all the many miracles we've seen this last week, but my testimony has definitely grown about the blessings that come when we work hard and are obedient.

This week we put someone on date for baptism in the first lesson!! This is probably one of our bigger miracles this week. His name is Koty, he's 18, and is living with a family that are members. We met Koty when the Docken's family invited us over for dinner earlier last week. Koty is 18 and recently moved in with the Docken family when his foster parents gave up their license. Koty was very involved in his other church, he was the youth leader for his youth group. Koty's interest about the church was sparked when he moved in with the Docken family; thos Docken's have 3 boys ages 17, 18, and 20. One of the boys gave him a Book of Mormon a day or two before we came over for dinner. We shared a message with the family (like we do at all member dinners) and then we left. As we were leaving though, both Sis. Perez and I felt that we should see about teaching Koty. We felt that he had been really receptive to the message we shared at dinner and that he might have potential. Of course, as we were leaving we didn't quite see the greatest opportunity to talk specifically to Koty about us teaching him. So as the Docken's drove us back to where we had left our bikes before dinner, we asked them if they thought Koty might be interested in hearing more about the church. They weren't quite sure, but told us that we should definitely talk to him and see. So we resolved that we would stop by in a day or two, unless by some chance Bro. and Sis. Docken felt like it was the right timing for them to approach him. Well here is the miracle. Turns out Koty wanted to meet with us without anybody asking!! The next day, we got a call from the Docken's saying Koty came up to them and asked...

"so when are the sister missionaries going to teach me?!"

Yah!! I know, amazing! Our bad for not asking him that day we first met him; but this just goes to show how great this kid is. So on Friday we taught him about the resoration. As we were teaching him, I couldn't help but be taken back a little at how "easy" he was to teach. It was like while we were teaching, he just got it. He told us he had started reading the Book of Mormon and that he felt good when he was reading it. Even though his Pator told him, "Its not a sin to read the Book of Mormon, but it is a sin to study it." That obviously didnt feel right to Koty and in talking to him, he just told us he knows its true. He said everything we were teaching him just fit, and he knew it was right! SO, in talking to him I knew he was just waiting for us to invite him to be baptized. And the most amazing part about it I couldn't even get through the baptismal invitation before he said yes! It went a little something like this.
Me: "Koty, will you follow the example of our Savior...."
Koty: "Yes!!".....
Me: "............and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood Authority of God?"
Koty then responded even more animatedly and was like, yes! SO we put him on date for August 14! We originally put him on date for Aug 7, but the Docken's family has a family reunion and he is going to that, so we had to push it back to the following week. He came to church on Sunday and he is just such a great kid! He really has it together, and I now have a true understanding of the term "golden" and also my testimony of being able to find those whom the Lord has prepared has increased. We are excited for Koty and I'm sure you will be hearing lots more about him in the future. I do hope I dont get transferred after this transfer so I can be here for his baptism, but if so...I know it will be for a reason. And I have to remember that this is not about me, this is the Lord's work. We are just the instruments in His hands to bring His lost sheep back into His fold.

Other miracles we saw this week is we got 8 new investigators this week! The highest we'd gotten in one week was 11...and that was at the end of last transfer with Sis. Naylor. The first couple weeks of this transfer were hard, because the work was slow and the numbers were way down in comparison to last transfer because we had to basically start from scratch. As you may know, the first couple weeks of this transfer were the hardest part of my mission thus far. I had to overcome a lot of doubt and discouragement, but I know it is because of the Lord that I was able to push through those rough times. I know that the reason we go through trials is so that we can learn to more fully rely on the Lord for His help. I feel so much better now and I have really witnessed miracles this week! There are people who have approached us, not us to them. People who have litterally fallen into our laps, whom are ready to receive the gospel. I know that more trials will come....but I also know that it is after the trial that we are truly blessed!! I am learning how to forget about myself and just go to work. Work hard, be diligent, obedient, and faithful. I know it is by all this that the Lord will continue to pour out HIs blessing upon the people of Wenatchee and upon us as missionaries. I will be forever changed when all this is said and done, and already I can feel the changes in which the Lord has caused in me. Being called to do the things I have been asked to do, and to find a way to endure to the end, I have truly been blessed to see His hand in all things! I love this work! I love being a missionary and truth be told I know it is going to be a very sad day when I'm going to have to leave. 14 more months! This time in my life only comes once and I'm so incredibly grateful to be here now!

In other news, we moved today! It's been a busy day, but I promise you I am working on sending you letters! I miss each of you so very much!

My new address is now:

Sister Vanessa Riggs
1511 Anton Place
Wenatchee, WA 98801

3 more weeks left of this transfer! We'll see what exciting events lie instore. Keep the Faith and strive to become the person who your Heavenly Father knows you can become.

"Houston, We Have A Problem"‏

July 12th 2010

Thank you everyone for the continual updates and letters of support and encouragement. I promise I am getting around to responding soon :)

I've changed alot over the last 4 months. Already, I know I am not the same person I was a few months ago. Every day I can feel the Lord molding me into the missionary and the person He needs me to become. It is hard sometimes, going through this refiner's fire, but I am so grateful for everything that I have been blessed with and for everything that I am learning. I think sometimes the most difficult thing to learn, is that you need to change something about yourself in order to line your will up with the Father's will. I think it's the personal battles we face, that define our true character. It is when we are in the face of adversity, that we are given the opportunity to prove ourselves, as well as rely on the Lord for HIs help.

I have been definitely doing this over the last few weeks, more than I have my entire life. I have spent every morning on my knees in prayer, and pour out my heart and soul to my Heavenly Father, begging for His help. This transfer has been a totally different experience than last transfer. We are working hard, but learning the true meaning of patient perserverance. Our investigator pool is still tiny, but have been finding some of the select few whom we feel are ready to receive the gospel. One in particular, her name is Alicia and we tracted into her 2 weeks ago. We had an amazing lesson with her earlier this last week about the Restoration and the spirit was so strong. She has expressed to us many times, that she has been looking for the truth and that she has been really lost and confused. We feel that the Lord truly lead us to tract her street the day that we did, and that we were meant to find her. She has a lot of potential, and I'm excited to see the blessings of accepting the restored gospel change and bless her life.

On a lighter note, I may or may not have reached a new level of intelligence the other day when we pulled over to pump air into my companions tire. After pumping it up, my companion was struggling to get the pump off the tire. So of course, she asked for my help. Well us being geniuses thought that the pump was on the release because the lever that locks it into place onto the nozzle was up. SO we tried a couple times to maneuver it, but weren't having much luck. So me, being as smart as I am, decided to pull harder. And low and behold, we pulled the nozzle right out of the tire, and in about .2 seconds....the tire was completely flat! haha. worries. We just sat there and kind've laughed and then were like...well now what do we do? Considering we live on the other side of our area, we knew going home wasnt an option. We prayed and then felt our best option was to call Bishop Walters. We said, "Houston-we have a problem" and Bishop and his wife came to our rescue. He went to get a new tube for the tire, and it wasn't until he returned that we learned we had kept the pump in the lock position when we had tried getting it off the tire. It was rather embarrassing, other than the fact that this pump wasn't like other pumps I'd used in the there's my excuse. That and we both felt at the time, that the reason this had happened was because we were supposed to be delayed to wherever is was we were heading next. EH, everything happens for a reason I suppose...and it was a good lesson to learn.

Speaking of bikes, I mentioned last time that riding bikes in a skirt is quite the interesting experience. I'm getting used to it now, but it sure is hot outside. It's over 100 now. No Bueno! SO we try to stay in the shade as much as we can and stop for water breaks at member's homes often.

Oh and before I foreget, let me give you the latest! We are moving!! Yay! We will be moving this coming Saturday to the Burnett's home. They live on this beastly hill at the top of our area, but it will be much better to actually be in our ward boundaries now. We are sad to leave the Curry's though. They have really helped us feel at home. SO until next P-Day you can still send mail to the Curry's address or the mission home address, and then next week I will have my new address. The good news is, if I do get mail at the Curry's after next week, I can still go and pick it up. So, there's the heads up!

Well this last Friday was zone conference. It was amazing! I got to see Sis. Naylor and her new companion Sis. Olsen. Also, the mission is now doing this new thing where they will be having leadership trainings for 3 days....which will be next week, so I will get to see Sis. Naylor there as well, since we are both training. There are alot of changes being made worldwide throughout the different missions. Zone Conferences and interviews with President will now be every 3 months, instead of every 6 weeks. And now the new leadership trainings and a few other things.

Well...I am out of time. But I want you to know I am doing good. I am safe and I am striving to serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I also want you to know, that as you each are praying for me, I am praying for you too!! Every day, multiple times a day :)

Skirts on Bikes‏

July 6th 2010

In all honesty this last week has been the hardest week on my mission. I have been stretched in ways I'd personally never imagined, but I now can see how it has been an essential part of the refining process. I know that me being called to train is an incredibly huge responsibility, but I also know that it is for a reason. And that as I have placed my complete trust in the Lord, He has helped me get through the challenges of this last week as well as the challenges that come sometimes just from being a missionary.

In all my life, I have never been so humbled. I have spent every morning this week on my knees just pouring my heart out to my Heavenly Father and asking for His help. There were a lot of changes all at once....change in companion, change in my responsibilities, change in area, change in transportation, change in my investigators in having to give them up to the other sisters, etc. But I now know that if I was able to make it through this week, then I can make it through almost anything. The Lord never gives us more than we can handle, and I also know that when He does call us in our weakness, if we remain humble and have faith, He will qualify us for the work. I know that is through Him and only through Him that we can even begin to reach our divine potential.

Despite the challenges, we've also seen many miracles this week. We are doing a lot of tracting and going through the list of former investigators. Pretty much all our previous Spanish investigators went to the other 2 Sisters who are working in the other areas of Wenatchee. So our investigator pool went from maybe about 30 investigators to about 7. So we are starting fresh, but I do know there are people ready to receive the gospel, in whom we are just around the corner in finding. With the guidance of the spirit, I know we will find them.

Our ward is amazing! It was kind've nice being able to go to an English speaking sacrament again, although I've grown accustomed to the Spanish branch. We still are working with the Spanish Branch, but we just can't go there every Sunday because our meetings are at the same time. Bishop Watlers is the greatest! And his wife too! They are taking very good care us and trying to assist in missionary work in every way they can. There is a lot of ward support for missionary work! In fact, the ward did a ward fast last Sunday for missionary work, that we will be able to find those who are ready to receive the gospel. I know those people are out there. It requires a lot of hard work and effort, alot of finding and teaching, but I know that as we remain faithful and hopeful, the Lord will lead us to find the "elect". I know without a doubt that I am supposed to be here at this time. I know there is at least one person, if not more, who I am meant to find. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and to truly be a representative of Him in this work.

My Spanish has improved a ton! It seems literally over night I was able to speak more fluently and communicate better with the people. I remember Sis. Naylor mentioning that a similar thing happened to her when she was called to train, that the very first day we were together...her Spanish was 10 times better. I believe this to be a tender mercy of the Lord and have definitely recognized His hand in helping me learn the language at a faster rate than what I could have ever even imagined. The gift of tongues is real, and I know that without it...I still would be struggling to formulate sentences together.

My new companion is amazing! She has a very strong testimony and a very sweet spirit about her. Her Mom is from Mexico and Dad is from Texas. SO far.....the words mentioned in my setting apart blessing ring true. I have been blessed with my companions...every single one of them. Although each of them is unique, we are each very compatible and have experienced many wonderful things together. My new companion's name is Sister Perez.

Let's see...what else...well, we haven't moved yet. The Bishop and Stake Presidency are still looking for a place for us. I love living with the Curry's; they really make us feel like we have a home, which is definitely a good feeling to have at the end of the day. The problem is, though, they live at the exact opposite end of Wenatchee and from our area. SO it makes it very difficult when transportation is thrown in the mix. Let me just tell you, riding bikes in skirts with a helmet on all day, really doesn't give me any "cool" points haha. But, such is the life of a missionary, right! It is very interesting to say the least haha.

Happy 4th of July every one yesterday! We got to oversee the valley and watched the firewroks on Sunday night. They weren't quite as cool as back home, but it made me reminisce a little bit. Hope you all enjoyed the holiday!

SO far no slammed doors in my face, but definitely have learned white people are not as nice as Spanish people! haha. Summer heat is beginning to pick up here, so my awesome missionary tan is starting to evolve. Hm, and lets see....oh, and I've adjusted to wearing skirts every day just fine...but the knee highs I could definitely do without especially in this summer heat haha.

Sidenote: speaking of compatibility with my new companion...she loves Sonic too!! SO......hehe. Just saying, that's all.