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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Eleventh Hour Miracles 06/20/2016

Holyyyy cow. I don't even know how to begin. How did that happen? I feel like I just closed my eyes and am about to wake up from the craziest dream of my life! Every returned missionary says that it goes fast, but you don't really believe them until you are about to be one of them. I am feeling all sorts of emotions. My mission has been such an incredible experience, and the lands of Ventura will forever hold a portion of my heart. 

The Lord is so loving and merciful. He has blessed me this last week with so many "11th hour miracles!" One of the biggest being that we found 8 new investigators. Well, the Lord placed 8 really prepared people in our path and allowed us to find them. :) This means that we met them on the street, they set up an appointment, we went and taught them, and they agreed for us to come back again. I have never had that many in a whole transfer, let alone one week! We prayed all transfer that the prepared people would be placed in our path and that angels would go before us to prepare them, as the scriptures promise. I am so grateful to have seen such a miracle to end my mission with! And to think, I was originally suppose to come home a week early. Man am I glad they pushed it back a week!!

Yesterday was also one of the most beautiful moments of my mission. Efren and Hernan were able to pass the sacrament. Another Hermano in the ward pushed Efren in his wheelchair as he did so. It was the best last Sunday of my mission present I could have ever asked for! We also went with Ursula to Young Womens (because it is in english, so we get to translate for her) and they were talking about the importance of sustaining people in the church or in our families. They asked each girl to write someone that they sustain on the chalk board. Ursula wrote, "mi papa." Then they asked in what ways the girls sustained them, and Ursula said, "Well, sometimes when my dad gets frustrated because of his illness, we give him the Book of Mormon or one of the missionary pamphlets to read, and then he is comforted." This family is such an example to me. They are already so strong in the gospel and teach all of us how to live it!

As I reflect on all of the experiences that I have had these last 18 months, I am amazed. My testimony is so much different than when I came here. I have so much more understanding, and have also realized how much I really don't know. I will forever thank Heavenly Father for the relationship I was able to build with him as He has taught me so many beautiful things here. It makes me emotional thinking about how I could not have done this without Jesus Christ. I have been changed so much, and I plan to continue to allow him to change me. I am so grateful for the gospel, and for the love of God that sustains me. It is very bitter-sweet. But so honored for the privileged I had to be here. I was no where near a perfect missionary, but my mission was absolutely perfect for me. Christ made up the rest. 

I love my Savior. I love following his teachings, and telling other people about the happiness and relief that can be found by following them. I am so grateful for the truth that families can be together forever through the restored power of Christ here on the earth. I will continue to serve him and fight for his cause.

I am excited to see all of you!! You'll have to help me stay busy! No asking me to watch any crazy movies or listen to gross songs. But I will say yes to going to Reed's Dairy, a snow cone shack (because they don't have those here for some reason), or having Pinterest parties. :) I'll try my hardest not to be an awkward returned missionary, but no promises. 

Love you all! See ya soon! :) 

We went to a restaurant with a member called, "Kyle's Kitchen." This is Kyle! He is a 12 year old boy with special needs. He is so cute. :) And the food is good too!

Ramirez family!

Thank you for the package mom!! The district loved all of the candy. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bubble Ball! 06/13/2016

Okay...this email may not be as exciting as the last couple. I don't even remember what happened this week. It is all going by so fast!!! I can't even believe it. But sorry if this is just a super random email... good luck following!

We had a really cool experience on Saturday night though. We had planned to just go contact people on one of the main streets in town at 8:30 until it was time to go home. We didn't end up getting there until about 8:50 and so we only had 10 minutes! We decided to say a prayer before getting out that Heavenly Father would place someone that needed to hear the gospel in our path. Well, the first person we talked to was named Lois! He is 22 and from Mexico. He started telling us all of these questions he had like, "Is there really a God?" "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" "Why does God let bad people exist?" and a bunch of others that I can't remember..but the coolest part was that Saturday morning during studies, we had read in Preach My Gospel the part about how the Book of Mormon answers "questions of the soul" that are both temporal and spiritual. Each one of these questions that he had are listed in that section! The spirit is real. It guides us! So we told Lois about the Book of Mormon and  how each of these questions he has can be answered by reading it. Hopefully we will be able to teach him now too! 

I was also able to give a talk on the atonement yesterday in sacrament meeting. No matter what problems we are trying to help solve he atonement of Jesus Christ can always solve the problem! Hna Zurita (one of the other Hna's serving in the branch) and I had been asked to speak last minute because the other people that had been asked had cancelled. We weren't assigned a topic, but when we got to sacrament meeting, all of our talks had a common theme - that Christ can heal us and help up become better than we have the strength to become ourselves. It was really incredible to see how the spirit touched each of us to share something that everyone needed to hear. 

Also yesterday, we went to go to a "pass-off lesson" with the zone leaders, (that's when the person you met has to be taught by different missionaries because they would go to a different congregation..) and they totally backed into someone's car. They only left a little dent..but they had to leave a note because they couldn't figure out who the car belonged to. We told them to take a picture so that the lady couldn't claim more damage was done than actually was... good thing! Because this morning she called and said that they had knocked off the fender... awkward. Thanks for teaching me the ways dad! The elders are grateful. 

We also got to go to a quincenera for the branch president's daughter! That was cool. It is like a wedding! holy cow!

Oh! And last monday we played bubble ball...I will send pictures. 

I don't really know what else happened this week... we went to KFC with the Ramirez family, but I forgot to take a picture. (they're ones who got baptized last week) and they are just the cutest. Those kids are going to be such incredible missionaries! 

Pray for me this last week that we will have prepared people put in our path and that we will be able to use our time wisely! I know this message is so important, and that it is true. I am so grateful for the time I have been able to spend representing my savior, Jesus Christ. He is the way, and the only way to have happiness in this life, and in the life to come. 

Love you all!! 

<3 Hermana Ricks...

I promise it's fancier than you can tell in the picture... this is the quince!

And here is one of us at dinner last night. 

Ramirez Family Baptized!! 06/06/2016

Hello family!! This week went by so fast.

We had our family history activity where we all dressed up like our ancestors and shared stories together. That was really fun! There are a lot of pioneer decedents in the mission! It was really cool to hear all of the stories from everyone and about how much faith so many people had that came before us. 

I also got to go on exchanges to VENTURA!!! It was so good to be back! I loved that area so much. And I got to see everyone that I love! We first went and taught the Vargas family (Maria was baptized the transfer right before I got there and the Salvador was baptized the transfer after I left. They were the ones that Hna Hurley and I got to go see be married right before his baptism!) It was so exciting to see them and the change that has come upon their family. I love them so much! Something really tiny but that seemed really significant to me is that Salvador was speaking in spanish the whole time. Before he only spoke english and she spoke spanish. I don't know why, but it just felt like there was more unity in their home! They definitely have the spirit there, and they are progressing even more in the gospel. 

I also got to visit Pedro! He was baptized the first week I was there. He is the one that would always teach us instead of us teaching him. He had gone to the temple visitor's center in LA and decided he wanted to go into the temple. So he met the missionaries and got baptized three weeks later! He is still going strong and working towards his goal of entering into the temple to receive his endowments! He has already gone there to do baptisms for the dead, and took 9 family names. He is the cutest little man ever.

Then I got to visit the familia Hernandez!!! They are the best. Their son was our ward mission leader, and they were ward missionaries. So we got to know them really well. I missed all of these people so much!  I can't wait for you all to meet everyone!

Annnnd....THE RAMIREZ FAMILY GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!! Seriously, one of the most beautiful baptisms I have ever seen. This family just glowed the whole. time. They are so incredible. I have never seen members be so supportive before either. The Ramirez family is bringing such unity and love into the Santa Barbara branch! Before the baptism, one of the hermanas in the branch took Ursula to buy a dress and shoes for her baptism, and then at the baptism one of the members gave Hernan the tie off of his neck. Both of the opening and closing prayers were so powerful as the members pleaded with Heavenly Father to bless this family.  Everyone looks up to them so much. I don't remember how much I have told you about them already, but they moved over to America because Efren, the dad, has a type of arthritis that is getting worse and worse. So they had to leave their mom in Mexico, and the two kids (both 14) came here with their dad to help him. They all are so humble and treat each other with so much love and respect. After they were baptized, we went into the bathroom to help Ursula, and there were two ladies in there as well just crying and talking about what good examples this family is for them. Yesterday, they all received the gift of the holy ghost, and Efren and Hernan received the aaronic priesthood. We asked them how they felt and they all said they felt so good! They looked good too. I tried to tell Efren in spanish that their faces were glowing and he said back to me in english in a super strong accent "what'd you say bout my face?" hahaha I thought it was so funny. 

Now we just need to find more people to teach! We are teaching another really amazing lady named Elida who will be baptized on July 9th. :) She is incredible. She is trying to get sundays off so she can come to church, so please pray for her! She was able to come to sacrament meeting yesterday. She really wants to be baptized! She has been taught since Hna Green was here last year, and said that she finally feels ready. So now she just needs her work to be lined up. 

Anyways, that is all I have for this week. But I have a lot of pictures to send you so I will get started on that. 

I love you all! I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us. Keep being strong! Push forward with faith and patience, and the promised blessings will come. 

<3 Hermana Trystan Ricks 

Catholic Mission in Santa Barbara. We went last week for P-Day to see the chalk drawings!

My companion decided to not look at the camera...but this is the only picture I have from the Family History activity. Sorry!

Maria and Salvador! 

And these are Mexican dresses that were given to Hna Frias for the family history activity. I've always wanted to wear one of these! :) Dreams do come true.

The Hernandez family still have the hearts on their door that Hna Griffes and I put there! :)

The Hernandez!


After Baptism

birthday party for Ursula