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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

And a Happy New Year!! 12/28/2015

This week has been so crazy! Saddest thing first: I am being transferred. :( I am so sad... I couldn't believe it when they called us..I just got here!! And I love this area. It is one of my favorite areas that I have ever served in. But I know I will love my next one just as much! I am going to Santa Maria with Hermana Hurley! There will now only be 4 Sister Training Leaders in the whole mission, so that is why they had to move me I think. Because they shut down the other STL area, and Hna Griffes has already been companions with Hna. Hurley, and Hna. Cueves has already served twice in Santa Maria. I'm sure there are other reasons too...the Lord always has a plan for us even if we can't see the big picture like he can! My new address will be

220 E. Grant St. #95
Santa Maria, CA 93454

Other than that news, this last week was great! :) 

Shout out to Shay's birthday on the 22nd - I hope it was great! :) 

On the 23rd we helped Pedro's family make Tamales! They turned out pretty good for us being white girls...we are professional tamal makers now. I will have to make you all some when I get back! 

Christmas eve we were able to spend some time at the mission home with a bunch of other missionaries. Pres. and Sis Felix had family come visit, and their grand kids performed the nativity for us! It was super cute. We also went caroling as a district on both Christmas Eve and Christmas. 

Christmas eve, Hna. Griffes and I pulled our matresses out to the living room and we read Luke 2 (and the cute little book you sent us mom!) and sang silent night and slept in front of the Christmas tree in our new fuzzy pajamas. :)  

CHRISTMAS I got to talk to you all and it was so good! but holy cow was that the fastest phone call or what?! I don't even know what we talked about. We also went and "Angel attacked" the Mission Home. We cut out a bunch of little angels and had all of the missionaries in Ventura write on them how President and Sister Felix had been angels to us. Then we had dinner with Maria and Salvador. (Maria was baptized the transfer before I came, and Salvador is going to be baptized right after I leave!) They were so fun. The power went out in the middle of the dinner, so Maria went and grabbed her oil lamp and said, "Oh now we will have a romantic dinner!") haha. :) 

Thank you everyone, for all of the cards and presents you sent! Christmas was so fun! It was so fun to be a missionary at Christmas. It is a little bit better than every other time of the year because everyone automatically is thinking about Christ. They are so much more open to us sharing a message about Christ and his birth! It was awesome to be able to focus so much on the true meaning of Christmas, and be able to share that with others. With the new year coming, try to make every day like Christmas. To remember HIM every day and the purpose of why we are here. 

Also, our ward mission leader bought the elders these super fancy ties and told us that what he bought for us hadn't come yet. We went over to their house yesterday, and he had ordered us these super cute new bags! He is the best. Seriously, I will miss the Hernandez family so much! They told me I could come back and live with them after my mission. :)

Like I said earlier, I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us, and that everything that happens - every trial we go through, every test we are given, every happy moment, it is all out of God's love for us. Christ was born so that he could come to save us. From the beginning, God's purpose is to bring about the salvation and eternal life of man. Sometimes we are given trials and times of testing to bring about the same thing - because God has a bigger plan for us. To bring us home to him. In everything that happens, try to ask God what lesson he is trying to teach you, because there is always a reason.

I love you all! I hope you have a great week! AND HAPPY NEW YEAR! I can't believe it's already going to be 2016... 

<3 Hermana Trystan Ricks

last elf on the shelf!

angel attack!

our candle lit Christmas dinner! :)

Ask dad what it means...

just kidding...THIS was the last elf on the shelf attack. :)

makin tamales

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

We're Famous!!!!!!! 12/21/2015

Okay I am running a little short on time this week, and there is so much to say!! Good thing I get to call you this week, right?! :)

So first thing's first. HERMANA GRIFFES AND I ARE FAMOUS!! We have no idea how...but we were at the branch christmas party, and then a member came up to us and showed us a picture on facebook of us together next to our christmas lights that say, "He Is Born." I don't know how the LDS missionaries page got it...but it was pretty exciting! Then sunday in ward council everyone asked us if we knew about it and they were all so excited. Dad informed me today that we have around 3000 biggie ;) hahaha 

So last week was crazy! On wednesday we got to go to the temple finally for my birthday! We went with the Hernandez family whose son is our ward mission leader. It was so amazing! The spirit is so strong in the temple. I miss being able to go there as often as I want! But it makes going there a little more special. We also got to meet the Hermana that first taught Pedro in the visitor's center (the man that got baptized at the beginning of the transfer.) She was really excited. 

Then thursday we had zone conference and holy cow I think it was all just for me! I got so much out of it. I learned that God really is our loving Heavenly Father, and he desires for us to have a relationship with him and to seek his help in things. President and Sister Felix did so much for us, and it was just so cool and fun! And then they gave us all gift bags that included a Book of Mormon, and they challenged us to read it by the next zone conference in march, and to mark everything it says about the gospel of Jesus Christ (Faith, repentance, baptism, holy ghost, and enduring to the end.) I have been doing it and it is a really cool way to read the BOM! 

So two funny quotes from this last week:

On our way to the temple Martin (the ward mission leader) was talking to his mom about calls home from his mission and he said, "You always cried what I called home, huh?" And she said "Yes. And when you didn't call." hahahaha I thought of you mom! :) 

And then we were teaching Pedro and he is just the best. He said the closing prayer, and he always prays for the people that are sick or without food and he said, "bendice los ninos que no tienen comido - dales un taco senor. (Bless the kids that don't have food - just give them a taco, Lord)." hahahaha how cute. :) We love Pedro! 

Well, I am SO EXCITED to call you on Christmas!! I love you all, and I'll talk to you in a few days!!!! FELIZ NAVIDAD!

<3 Hermana Trystan Ricks 

the elves got me back....

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

ZOOM! 12/14/2015

Wheeere to even start. This week was weird!

It started off last monday when we had to cut our p-day short because we are going to go to the temple this week! It was worth it, because we are super excited to go to the temple (we are going on wednesday!), but we basically forgot how to be missionaries as we tried to proselyte on monday!
Tuesday we were sent on a wild goose chase around Ventura trying to look for service. We had some planned with this random man we had met who was going to let us paint his fence, but then he wasn't there. We were in pants so we tried to look everywhere. We basically ended up driving for like an hour from one end of the city to another. We tried Catholic Charities, and it had a sign that said, "Closed Dec. 8th" and then we tired every member we could think of.
Wednesday was cool! We had exchanges, and it was really interesting because when we went to switch companions, the hermana that I was going to go with was being rather grumpy and rude... I could tell she hated exchanges and didn't really know how to handle it. But it was so cool to see how the spirit guided me to help this hermana, and by the end of the exchange we had seen SO many miracles, and we both ended up having a really good experience and enjoying the day together! (I think it helped that I was able to sympathize with her because I never was very fond of exchanges either - it just throws off your groove!)
Then friday we went to do service at a nursing home. We always go as a district to sing to them and the last room we went to the guy was so loony! He would yell random words at us. We asked what his name was and he spilled out this super long name that ended with P! H! D!...UC!... LA. He had gotten his phd in conducting... so of course he started conducting us as we sang and screamed at us telling us to sing slower and screamed at us when we sang well... and then at the end he asked where we were from and so we told him we were from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! He said, "OH the MORMONS!!!" Well, we don't agree with you, but we'll accept you. ZOOM! *waving his hand to tell us to leave*" hahahaha I couldn't even sing I was laughing so hard!!
Saturday we had another exchange! Weird random things kept happening to us all day as well, but it was such a good exchange! I went with Hermana Peterson. She came out with Hermana Donnelly! I have learned so much from going on exchanges with these hermanas. I think one of the biggest things is how much heavenly father is apart of this work. Right down to who he inspires us to go with, where we go, and what to share with them during companionship study or exchange review. I know that he is a part of each one of our lives, and has such a perfect plan for each of us.
One example of that is our ward mission leader. His grandma passed away this last week and it has been really hard for their family. He told us that he was asked to be the ward mission leader almost 5 months ago, and he didn't understand why they were taking so long until this happened. He said he now knows that it is because he needed this calling now to help him. There family is so amazing! All four of us missionaries ate dinner at their house last night, and we were able to help clean the kitchen a little, and sing hymns to them. It was such a simple thing, but it was able to bless them so much. I love being a missionary and being able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. He uses others to answer prayers. Be the answer to someone's prayer this week! When things are hard, turn outwards and help someone else. That is the true character of Christ.
I love you all!! I am so excited to talk to you next week!! :)
P.S. mom, the elves you sent us have been attacking Hna Griffes every single time she showers!!!!! They are pretty funny, I gotta say. I'll send pictures.

They decided to do something nice on Sunday in order to honor the sabbath

Monday, December 7, 2015

First Exchange! 12/07/2015

What a week! This transfer is seriously flying by so fast. I can't believe. It is true that every transfer gets faster and faster. I can't believe how fast my mission is going!

Last Tuesday, we recorded the song! They are going to use it for some surprise in the Christmas zone conference.
Saturday I went on my first exchange as an STL and it was so fun! It was with a missionary that is on her second transfer, and we were in Oxnard! (Not the same area that I was in though.) It was really weird being on the other side of the exchange, but it was a really cool experience to be able to learn from her! It also took me back to the beginning of my mission when I was super frustrated about spanish and just wanted to be a perfect missionary! And now I realize that I still don't know spanish and I am never going to get this whole missionary thing right...but I sure have learned a lot since my first few transfers, and especially since before I left. I cannot thank my loving Father in Heaven enough for giving me this opportunity. I just think everyone should go on a mission. it is the most amazing thing I have ever done! 

The area here is awesome. We had a really great church tour this week, and have had some really powerful lessons. We are finding a lot of people with potential as well. We also got a new ward mission leader and he is AMAZING! He returned from his mission a year ago, and he is so fired up about the work. He made us pass-along sized cards with an explanation of how to pray on it (they have it inside all of the pamphlets that we give to people, but he made us little pass-along cards for it for them to keep in their Books of Mormon - genius...), he filled up our dinner calendar with recent converts and less actives to eat with, he had ward missionaries come to correlation and used ch. 13 of PMG to teach them their responsibilities, he found members to come to lessons with us, he us coming with us tonight, and he has us report to him something that happened at the end of every day. And he was just barely called last week to be the WML! We are so excited.
Okay I am finally going to tell you the story about Pedro who got baptized my first week here! So he has SO MANY health problems. He was in the hospital and going to die, and he told Heavenly Father that if he would lead him to the right church, he would join it, be a faithful member, and he would serve God for the rest of his life. Then his care-taker (who is a member of the Oxnard 5th ward) started telling him about our church, and she ended up having her brother (Who is actually Hno. Nunez - the one that called you all on mom's birthday) give him a priesthood blessing. He then saw miracles, and was able to walk and eat again which he hadn't been able to do for a long time, and wasn't suppose to be able to do again. They then took him to the Los Angeles Temple Visitor's Center where he had a really powerful experience, and he told the missionaries he wanted to be baptized. They referred him to the Ventura hermanas, and they set him with the date he could soonest be baptized on. And then he got baptized! Every time they would teach him, and the few lessons I was able to teach him before his baptism, he literally already knew everything. I don't think he stops studying. He is the most faithful man! He can only come to church for sacrament, because he can't physically sit up long enough, but he comes every week, and yesterday he bore his testimony. He is so amazing! Seriously, every time we call him he's like, "Oh I'm just reading in the Gospel Principles Manuel" or book of mormon or bible or watching a dvd we gave him.. Ah! He is incredible.
I love you all! I know this gospel is true! Discover why Christ was born for YOU during this Christmas season.
<3 Hermana Trystan Ricks

And here is an avocado we found on the piano in the church...

Here's a picture from exchanges: Yes I took her to get ice cream because I still am Hermana Ricks and I still love ice cream. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Holidays have begun!! 11/30/2015

What  a week! So first off, I got to go to my first MLC (Mission Leadership Council) meeting this week and it was SO AMAZING!!!! Holy cow. Basically we get to be with the mission president all day and discuss the needs of the mission. And man, do we have an amazing mission president! On tuesday, Sister Felix asked me to accompany a song for the Christmas zone conference we are going to have on the 15th/17th. I said yes, and then she told me we were going to record it on December 1... so all week I have been practicing like crazy! But the cool thing is that they offered for us to come to the mission home to practice. So every day we have been able to go and hang out at the mission president's home. I told Sister Felix that I have never practiced the piano so much and that my mom would be proud. ;)
Also at the mission home! We got to eat Thanksgiving dinner with President and Sister Felix and a few other sets of missionaries! I was so glad. Sister Felix makes such good food. For the dinner, they had wrapped little paper in tin-foil and placed them inside the rolls so we could open then and answer the questions after dinner. Mine asked why I was grateful for my companion. Hermana Griffes and I get along great! She is such a patient person and so good at communicating. It makes it really easy for us to have unity and I have seen it really bless us in the lessons we teach. She is super fun too!
Basically, it feels like this week has just been filled with MLC, praciting the piano, and eating way too much food everyday. But! We did also found I think 4 new families to teach that are all solid! We found one man sitting outside and started talking to him and found out that his wife had passed away and he has three kids. We talked to him a little more and then asked if we could teach his kids a song. We had to sit outside the front door because we can't enter into a house without another woman, but the kids all gathered in the walk way and we taught them, "I Am a Child of God" and then how to pray. At the end of singing the song the little boy, Jose, just started clapping like crazy because he was really excited about the song. :) We then asked if we could come back and the dad said to the kids, "Do you want them to come back?" And the kids screamed, "YEAH!!!" So we are going back. :) All of the families we found are really awesome - we are stoked.

I also got to see Emily again! And her dad and brother. :) And it was while we were waiting for the branch president to sign a baptismal paper so we got to talk for a little while! It wasn't as weird this time, so we actually could talk like normal people rather than just hugging and saying "this is weird!" hahaha :)
Also mom! Thank you SO MUCH for the Christmas decorations and CDs!!! We have been decking out for Christmas all week. I will send pictures. You da best. If you haven't watched, "A Savior is Born" yet - WATCH IT!!! It is so powerful.
So I was reading general conference talks and I read President Monson's. It is SO GOOD!! I was too worried about him while he was giving it that I didn't really understand what he was saying, but I definitely recommend reading it. It is so good. :) And I read President Uchtdorf's about Great Aunt Rose and holy cow that one is so good too. I know that we have living prophets today, and I am so grateful for their guidance.
I love you all! Have a great week!
<3 Hermana Trystan Ricks

This is PEDRO!!!! I totally forgot to tell you the story again... But he is AMAZING!!!! Hopefully next week or in a letter!

weekly planning on Thanksgiving with our turkey legs and pumpkin bread!

Monday, November 23, 2015

LOOK WHO I SAW YESTERDAY!!!!! 11/23/2015

"And it came to pass that as Hermana Ricks was journeying from the relief society out the door, behold, to her astonishment, she met with Emily, journeying to the land of the nursery. Now, Emily had been with Hermana Ricks at the time she was preparing for her mission, therefore she did rejoice exceedingly to see her BFF. And what added more to her joy was that they were still BFF's in the Lord; yea, they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were girls of a sure understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God" (Slight adaptation taken from Alma 17:1-2).

Okay that was weird. I was just standing in the hall and then out walks EMILY!!! After we both ALMOST cried, we just looked at each other and said, "Well, I don't know what to say to you!" It's kind of like a dream, and the only reason I'm sure I actually saw her is because I have picture evidence. But if it made me realize anything, it made me realize how short time is on a mission. In the short time we had to talk to each other, everything was the same. I fake punched her in the face for not writing me letters, we talked about all the crazy things going on in the world of everyone we knew from high school, and we still loved each other and treated each other just the same! Same personality, same relationship, same people. So I realized that I have the rest of my life to hang out with all of my family and best friends and the thing that won't ever be the same again is the fact that right now I have the wonderful privileged to spread the gospel and I have been called by a prophet of God specifically to do so. The time is so short, and then after, I just go back to normal life... I love my mission!! 

Okay heads up: the church is locked this week because they are fumigating it so we had to come to the library and the computers are super slow. So the rest of the email might be cut short! 

But... I love Ventura! The people and investigators here are awesome. We have already seen so many miracles. We had a really awesome lesson with our investigator and her daughter this last week. We asked them to close their eyes as we told them the story of Joseph Smith, and then write down afterwards when they felt the spirit. They both said they felt it when we had said the first vision and they knew it was true. They both came to church the next day and stayed for all three hours!

Hermana Griffes is so amazing and has taught me so much!! Especially about effective use of time. She really makes the best use of her time, and because of that we have had so much more success with teaching people. We are having a ton of fun together too! 

Also, we had a baptism last week! I only taught him 2 lessons, but he is AMAZING!! I don't have time to tell the whole story, so I'll just have to write it next week or in a letter. But the church is true! Heavenly Father really does prepare people!! 

HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!! I love you all!!!!!

(Doesn't Emily just look like she could have a name tag on too and be my companion? I think that's a good idea. Someone should tell her.)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Friday the 13th proved itself to be true... 11/16/2015

Thank you everyone for all of the birthday wishes!!! I had a wonderful birthday. However, my companion did not have such a great day...

So we went tracting with the english elders again looking for service, and we had this super awesome experience at the first house we knocked on. But on the way out, Hna Pirir didn't see a step and twisted her ankle. Luckily the elders were right there so they carried her to the car (As they said, "This is the most I've ever touched an Hermana before!!!"). To the ER we went! And of course it was super busy so we were there for the rest of the night. Our branch president and his wife had made me a birthday dinner, but we weren't able to go, so they came to keep us company at the hospital. :) Hermana Pirir is a trooper though...she just keeps crutchin along! :) Everyone asks if she was playing basketball to hard. We say, "Nope. Just tracting too hard."

However, earlier that day, we had district meeting! E Gaylor and E Lallaton made me a cake that had 20 candles and also cake pops. 20 is a gross age. There is no birthday age to look forward to after this... But oh well! At least I made it through the terrible teens!

Aaaannndd as for transfer news! So as we were sitting in the ER, we got a call from President Felix. He talked to me for a good 10 minutes about Hna P's foot, and then he says, "Well, I also called to talk to you Hna Ricks. Your assignment is being modified and you will now be a Sister Training Leader." Because the branch president and his wife were there I just started crying because I knew that meant I was leaving Lompoc...but the next morning I found out I was going to Ventura and that made it a lot better! I have always wanted to serve in Ventura! It will be such a great opportunity to serve around some amazing missionaries and so close to the mission president. I know I will learn a lot from it! So I am super excited! AND I will be companions with Hermana Griffis!!! I lived with her my very first transfer in Oxnard and I have always wanted to be companions with her! She is soooo funny and such a good missionary! (She was Hna Jeronimo's companion.) SO! It will be a good transfer. :) 

Well, I will miss Lompton. I sure have learned a lot here! Now that I'm leaving I will tell you mom... it definitely is a SkEtChY town. I wouldn't recommend living here... But don't worry, I made it out safe! :) 

 I hope you all have a wonderful week! The gospel is true! Read your scriptures, say your prayers, and go to church! Life is joyous in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Any trials you are going through can be lifted through Jesus Christ. You don't have to go through it alone! 

<3 Hermana Trystan Ricks

Finally had dinner at 10:30 after getting home from the ER... Tator Tot salad from Hna Rosales!!! mmmmm :)

Poor Hna...

Burro grande, y burro - ito. jajajaja

Monday, November 9, 2015

Milagros! 11/09/2015

Quick fun fact: this week I graduate from the terrible teens and turn 20. Yes, letters would be appropriate to send me, thank you. ;) 

So this last week Hermana Pirir ended up being stuck in Solvang during dinner time! There were only a few places open because they all close at 3, so we went to this chinese restaurant. It ended up being like 20 bucks, but it was good. :) 

We have seen a lot of miracles this week in Lompoc. Last monday evening we ran into a former investigator that we had also run into a few days earlier. The first time we saw him he told us he wanted to set up a lesson with us, and the second time was right before we were having a family home evening in a member's home. We invited him and he came! At the FHE everyone bore testimony of the Book of Mormon, including him, and it was so powerful. He is now reading on his own, and is praying about a baptismal date! This was just one of many miracles that we saw. 

We also went "service tracting" (knocked door to door offering service) with the english elders so that if they ran into a spanish family we could talk to them, and if we ran into an english family we could refer them! We felt inspired to go to a certain street. Well, the first house we knocked on said it was a bad time but to come back later. The first house they knocked on ended up being a part member family in their ward that they didn't even know existed. The son has cancer and they want the missionaries to come over to help bring peace. The second house we knocked on told us that we could come by and help her with her garden, and the second house the elders knocked on spoke spanish. So we went and talked to them too! They were really excited and the mom wants us to come teach her english! We set an appointment and then talked more and found out they are former investigators from a few years ago! And then they then invited us in to eat tacos. Which were SUPER good I might add. :) Miracles! 

I have gained a testimony of prayer this week. It is something that never ceases to amaze me. Everything that is said about it is true. Prayers really are answered! It is so simple, yet takes so long to get it. I still don't fully understand it, but I learned more and more about it every day! I know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me, and wants me to be happy. He has a plan just for me, and he wants me to reach the potential he sees in me! Sometimes I am stubborn, but I am learning how to rely more on His will than my own. I am learning how real the Holy Ghost is, and I am becoming more and more grateful for that wonderful gift that I have. As I learn to recognize and follow the promptings of the spirit, I realize more how much God really does love me. And that makes me realize how much he loves all of his children. So pray to him! He wants to talk to you. :) In the bible dictionary it says something about ( I don't have it with me so you might have to look it up yourselves it's under "Prayer") how Heavenly Father has blessings just waiting for us, but they are conditional upon our asking for them. I know that that is true! 

I have also gained such gratitude for the opportunity to take the sacrament and receive strength and forgiveness from Jesus Christ. 

Another thing I learned this week. I really like this quote: 

"Our words, like our deeds should be filled with faith hope and charity. With these words, spoken under the influence of the spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, and confidence can prevail."

It made me think, Do I speak words that show I have FAITH in my savior, Jesus Christ? Do I say things that are hopeful? - Optomistic, enthusiastic, patient, and with confidence in the Lord? Do I say things that are charitable? Loving, and uplifting to others? Or am I negative, self-conscious, grumpy, and chismosa? (A gossiper. :)) Brothers and sisters, speak words of faith hope and charity.

I love you all! I hope you have a wonderful week!! 

<3 Hermana Ricks 

I saw Hermana Eames at zone meeting! When we lived together we used to always wear the same thing on accident every day. Guess some things never change. (The weirdo Elder in the back is E Gaylor...) 

Monday, November 2, 2015

I Burnt Down the Apartment... 11/02/2015


Okay I actually didn't burn down the apartment, but we did see this apartment on the same day that I almost burnt down the apartment! I was making oatmeal on our gas stove, and it was FREEZING that morning, so I had a blanket around me. Well, I didn't realize that the blanket had fallen super close to the flame, and it burnt a hole through my blanket...moral of the story: don't wear a blanket while making oatmeal. 

So last monday on P-Day we carved pumpkins! I'd love to show you a picture, but I forgot to take one before the pumpkin went all nasty. But it said "HLJ" (Haz Lo Justo). Today we were going to go take pictures at the beach, but it is raining finally so we aren't! Maybe that means I'll have time to write letters!

Also, Mom! Thank you for all of the crazy Halloween stuff! It made weekly planning a lot more exciting since that is what we did Halloween night! We got to use crazy fingers and lips. :) Everyone thinks you are the coolest mom ever - I think they are right! 

We had a good week in Lompoc following the spirit. We have a two investigators that we have really been focusing on, trying to have daily contact, and it is working really well! I have never successfully just stopped by an investigators house for 3 minutes before to quickly follow up, say a prayer, drop a spiritual bomb, and then leave, but we did this week and it was awesome! I really want to focus on having daily contact and involving members with that daily contact. Pray for the Ramirez and the Hernandez family! And that we will find more people to teach. :) 

We had a really good turn out at our ward's trunk or treat - an investigator that we hadn't been able to get a hold of, a random person we invited, and an in-active member that know one really knew about. I feel more urgent about time and about teaching people than I ever have in my mission, and I am really grateful for it. I am starting to see just how short and precious time really is. My mission is going to fast! So I need to make ever second count. 

Hermana Pirir and I are teaching better together. We struggled a lot following the same line of thinking with everything, but we are working on it, and I can definitely see a difference in our lessons now than from at the beginning! We are both trying really hard to just follow the spirit, and I feel like we are beginning to have the same goals for the area. She is such a great missionary!

I have gained a testimony this week of the power of the Book of Mormon and of the power of the Holy Ghost. I am working on teaching with the Book of Mormon, and testifying frequently, and I feel so different now walking out of a lesson. Rather than being worried if I said something wrong, I am able to know I said everything I needed to, because the spirit was there. I also feel such a desire to share this message with everyone, and to help them regardless of if they actually accept the message or not. I really love the people here so much, and desire the salvation on their souls! (That is one of our mission focus'.) 
I know that Heavenly Father is so mindful of each of us and of every little situation we are going through. I am so grateful for the relationship I am forming with him and his son Jesus Christ. They both love us so much. And they have a plan for me and my life. And for your's too! :) 

I love you all! Have a great week, and say your prayers so you can know God loves you too! :) 

<3 Hermana Ricks 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mom, an Ostrich Bit my Finger and It Really Hurt! 10/26/2015

Yes. It's true. It really did bite my finger! So last monday, the whole district went to this Ostrich farm in Solvang, and I was standing there taking a picture after we fed the ostriches, AND IT BITE MY FINGER!!!!! I screamed and ran away. Luckily, I found that Ostriches don't have teeth, so it didn't bite my finger OFF, but it did leave a mark for like 5 minutes. And my companion even got a picture of it eye-balling my finger right before it bit me! Ignore how ugly I look, it was super windy and dusty, and let's be real I don't get ready on P-day anyways. 

Also, I forgot to tell you last week that on sunday night, we were driving home and there were a bunch of protestors holding up signs that said, "Prayer works," "We love Jesus," "honk for Jesus," etc. And they were chanting, "WE LOVE JESUS, YES WE DO, WE LOVE JESUS HOW 'BOUT YOU?!" And then they would cheer super loud if someone honked. Hahaha it was super crazy. We should have given them a Book of Mormon! 

So last week one day we had planned to go make cookies with this member and then deliver them to people with her, but she had to cancel right before, so we had to figure out something else. We really felt like we should go to Mission Hills, so we just went, and used names that we had picked for the next week during weekly planning. We were about to go to this one house, and Hna Pirir said, "Oh I remember this house. They told us they weren't interested because they are catholic." But we decided to knock anyways, and a man named Valetin answered the door. We talked for a little bit and he asked how old me were, and then he told us, "I think I would need someone more experienced and intelligent to teach me." (He didn't say it rudely - that's just how it translates into English, don't worry.) But none the less, the idea of him not accepting our message based off of how old me were made prideful little Hermana Ricks super mad and determined to not leave until he knew that we were representatives of Jesus Christ with powerful testimonies, and an important message to share. We talked for a really long time and he kept asking us multiple questions to try and bash our testimonies, because he didn't think we were old enough to ACTUALLY believe what we were teaching. One of these questions was, "Do you know who you were before you came here?" By the time we got to this point, I was trying to use every ounce of my testimony that I could. I told him, "Yes. Before I came here, I was a valiant fighter and supporter of Jesus Christ. I knew His plan, and I fought for it. I knew why I was coming here, and I know now through the power of the Holy Ghost why I am here." I then asked Valentin if he knew why he was here. He said he knew where he was before, but when I asked him what the point of life was he said, "No, I forgot. What is it?" I told him it is to learn and prepare to return to live with God and our families for eternity, and inherit all that the Father has." By the end he said, "Thank you for reminding me." We then gave him a Book of Mormon, told him he could find his purpose in that book, and he told us we could come back to teach him. It was one of the most exhausting lessons I've had, but so cool to see how the power of the spirit was able to humble to man. 

I hope you all have a great week!! Thank you for everything! :) 

<3 Hermana Trystan Ricks 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week Two in Da Hood 10/19/2015

The branch in Lompoc is awesome. The branch president is so excited about missionary work, and so is the ward council! All of the investigators it looks like have just been chased down by missionaries and don't actually want them to come. Most of the people in the potential investigators section are from the same group of apartments that multiple churches go to and go tracting, and so I haven't seen any success in going there so far. I feel bad because I came in and so many things missionaries have been doing weren't okay like service at a children's club, dancing at a retirement home to crazy music (okay not really that crazy, but music we aren't allowed to listen to - let alone dance in front of a crowd of people to it!), spending way too much time at members homes without even sharing a message, and just a bunch of empty teaching efforts. I try not to come into new areas and judge everything, because I think a lot of missionaries do that before they really understand. But I gave it long enough to know that my first impression was right! So as far as investigators go, we feel like we have to basically start over. Hopefully we will find lots of people! Pray for us to be guided to where we are suppose to go. 

Okay I'll stop complaining now. :) Lompoc really is awesome!! I love the branch so much, and the members are so great. The branch president especially... he da best! And I love my companion so much as well. 
She radiates with the spirit, and she follows the promptings that she receives. She asked me the other day to let her know what she can do better and said, "I am here to improve." I love her! 

ALSO!!! Guess who got to go on exchanges again with the one and only Hermana Jeronimo?! MEEE!!!!! It was so fun. :) We stayed here in Lompoc...she got the same impression of our whole investigator pool situation as I did... and we had so much fun. Except we totally forgot to take any pictures... But we had a great Experience  teaching one of the counselors in the bishopric the Restoration. When we recited the first vision he teared up and said he felt the same way the first time he found out that it was true. I learned a lot from Hermana Jeronimo! She is such a hard working missionary. Something she does that I want to do as well is testify every single time I open my mouth. I am pretty sure every time she responded to something that the investigators said she started with, "I know..." or "We know..." or "I have seen in my life..." I have especially been learning lately the importance of testifying, because all of the logical things that we try to use as missionaries doesn't work! That isn't what brings the spirit, and other churches use those same arguments anyways. So why would those prove our message is true? They don't.
The only thing that works is testifying. Hna J is really good at beginning each doctrine she teaches with a testimony. 

Random fact:President Felix has asked that we elevate our mission through the music we listen to. He explained that "if it makes you bob your head, it probably doesn't bring the spirit." and that "EFY music is for youth, and we are not youth." So I will now say goodbye to my efy cd's and nashville tribute CD's for the next 8 months...I decided a good way for me to decide if it's good to listen to is if I can still talk to my companion. If I have to stop the conversation to sing along then it is distracting.

Also random fact I forgot to tell you last week - A rocket landed near our apartment at like 3 in the morning and it felt like we were in an earthquake! I looked out the window and saw this flaming red triangle flying through the sky, and then I fell back asleep. It was super cool. :)

Also! I learned how to make Tamales yesterday! We stopped by a members and she was making them and her kids weren't helping (Sorry mom... reminds me of when I would make you make mashed potatoes and then go take a nap...) So we helped her! And now I am a professional tamal maker. :)

I have gained a testimony of the atonement this week and of the sacrament! I am so grateful to be able to take the sacrament and have a fresh new start. I definitely struggle with so many things that I thought be 10 months I'd be over by now, but I am still so weak. I am so grateful for a savior who literally saves me from all of the faults that I have, and who allows me to because stronger. 

Have a great week everyone! Read the Book of Mormon - it is true!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hello Lompton!! 10/12/2015

I am loving Lompoc. Everyone here calls it Lompton because it's so ghetto. Which means....SPANISH WORK GALORE!!! WOOHOOOO! So good to be back! I have been living too nice for too long. And now it's time to practice some spanish finally! However, I do miss the Morro apartment and my view of the ocean from my study desk.. oh well. But yes! I am learning a ton of spanish here. Especially with a native companion! She was born in Guatemala, and came here from Orem, Utah. Her name is Hna Pirir, and she's the best. She just served with Hna Wallace who I was with in AG, so that's fun! I can tell she just came from her because of how much salad she eats...Hna Wallace is a healthy eater and it rubs off! ;) 

So one miracle we saw was last week when we were knocking on a potential investigator's door. We heard a family across the apartment complex yelling and swearing at each other. We felt like we needed to go knock on their door, but didn't want to make them even more mad! And we didn't want to be yelled at or shot or something...But we did it anyways, and as soon as the lady opened the door she apologized for the swearing, ranted to us for a little bit, and we just said, "Well we could tell you were having a hard time so we wanted to see if there is anything we can do to help!" She eventually invited us in. We were able to sing a hymn to her and say a prayer. By the time we left she had a completely different countenance! It was such a testimony builder to me of following the spirit. She was american though, so the english elders get to visit her now. :)

Hermana Pirir is so awesome! Another miracle that we saw last week was because of her ability to hear the voice of the spirit. We had received a referral from the english elders, and it was a lady that lived about a half hour away from where we live. (In Solvang which is the cutest town ever by the way. Mom, you would love it!) But we drove all the way out there to meet her, and when we got there we found that the address was wrong and didn't exist. After a while of trying to figure out what to do, Hermana Pirir said, "I feel like we should try that house." So we did, and it ended up being the house that the referral lived in! The gift of the Spirit is real.

So this week we have also been able to practice our cooking skills together. All of the missionaries are having a "fast from member meals" and so we can't eat any food given to us by members. Even dropped off on our door step. And we can't eat out! So we have been making lots of tostadas because those are our favorite, and also chicken and potatoes. Because I am from Idaho and I know how to do that! :) And mom...the pumpkin bread saved us. Thanks for sending us that!

I have gained a testimony this week of loving others! One last miracle we saw with the ward mission leader from simply taking him some cookies. So about a month ago, the Branch Mission Leader decided that he does not want to be a part of this church anymore. Someone in  the branch offended him, and he told the elders he is done, and he started visiting another church. However, he came to transfer meeting last week to see one of the missionaries bear his "dying testimony," and we dropped off cookies at his door, he texted us back and said, "Thank you for the cookies! No one has done that for me before...ever!" And this is after we had already tried to knock on his door and he wouldn't answer even though we knew he was home. And Hna. Pirir said he wouldn't answer any of their texts last transfer. It makes me want to focus more on loving everyone around me, because it really is the most powerful force.
I can already tell that I love the branch here! The branch President is stoked on missionary work, and he really wants it to become a ward. He is willing to do whatever ideas we throw at him! One thing I suggested was branch family home evenings, and he volunteered his home for tonight. So we will be doing that tonight. He is so awesome!
Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you all! The church is true, and Christ loves you!
<3 Hermana Ricks

Monday, October 5, 2015

(no subject) 10/05/15

Well, sad news. I am leaving Morro Bay. :''''( I am so sad! I totally thought that I was staying another transfer to be quite honest. I was shocked when they called and said, "Hermana Ricks! You are going to be transferred to Lompoc to work with Hermana Peirir." (I think that's her name...I've never met her before! But she is currently companions with Hermana Wallace -so that will be fun!) I do know that Hermana Peirir is a native, and that there are lots of spanish speakers in Lompoc, so I am excited to get to practice my spanish a lot! 

So on Tuesday we went to go visit the young women at mutual at the church, and we heard this mariachi band playing from Del Mar park (which is right next to the church). So we figured there was a huge party with lots of Latinos, so we decided we would walk over there instead and see if we could talk to anyone! Well, we got over to the park and it was pitch black. We looked from the music, and then we saw this group practicing down in a drainage pit thing in the middle of the field. So we sat there and listened and then clapped for them. We asked them if we could take a picture with them, and they told us that we were there first performance! I think they also said that it was their first practice together. But I'm never 100% positive of what anyone tells me in spanish...

The Diaz family is doing SO. WELL. We had two lessons with them this week, and they are just the most golden investigators I have ever met. The first lesson this week, when we started we asked who wanted to say the prayer. We thought that Hermana Diaz was going to say it, and then all of a sudden she starts having her little 3 year old daughter repeat her words! And then at the end we started talking about church and she said, "Oh yeah, we are sorry we haven't been able to come when you've invited us! The first sunday we can, we are going to come." We then asked if they worked on sundays and she said, "My husband has Sundays off, and I am trying to ask for them off too." UMM OKAY YOU ARE JUST PERFECT. Then the next lesson, at the end we asked them if they had felt anything since we had started teaching them, and the 12 year old son, Sergio Jr. said, "Well I've learned a lot, but not as much as I would like to." AHHHH I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE THIS FAMILY!!!!! I told Hermana Donnelly that she better let me know when they get baptized so I can come to the baptism!!

Well, saying goodbye to everyone was super sad. And I didn't even have church to see everyone at because it was conference!
But wasn't general conference amazing?! I loved every second of it! I felt like the overall message was how to better ourselves - especially through partaking of the sacrament. I loved Larry R Lawrence's talk where he challenged us to ask Heavenly Father, "What is keeping me from progressing?" I also loved the idea of ponderizing!! I haven't chosen a scripture of the week yet, but I will today! Have you all? 

I am so grateful for President Thomas S Monson and his example and dedication to bear witness of the living Christ. I know he is a prophet and mouth piece for the living God. 

I love you all! I hope you have a great week!!
And thank you for the package!! I have already been using the animal balloons, and Shay! Tonight we are going to teach the Diaz family about following the prophet with your animal balloon idea! :)


<3 Hermana Ricks