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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! :)

LOVE YOU!

<3 Hermana Ricks