Friday, July 31, 2015

1 Nephi 1:20 July 31, 2015

So basically this week was just a struggle boat week. But my eyes have been opened and I have been greatly humbled and blessed. So many tender mercies this week.
But for starters, I got to see Brian on Wednesday... Yeah I bawled like a little girl... But it is actually a really funny story as to how I found him! So I went to dinner and found Luke and he had already seen him and Brian already left for class or whatever so I was rather sad. So I was eating with my district and everyone left to go to class but I wasn't done yet so we were just sitting there talking and one of the Elders from my district, Elder Stradling, came back and was like Sister Richards, look who I found. And I turned around and saw Brian and I just lost it. And I accidentally gave him a hug... but it was most definitely on purpose. I just sat there hugging him and crying on his nice new suit while everyone in the cafeteria freaked out. But I really didn't care. Every time since that I have seen him though I just give him a handshake like a good little missionary. But the best part of the story is how Elder Stradling found Brian. He was in the bathroom and saw this new missionary and asked where he was going. And the missionary said Long Beach so Stradling was like, do you know an Elder Richards? and he was like yeah that's my companion. So he found Brian and gave him a hug for me and then showed him to me. Seriously so amazing. Such a blessing. That was just what I needed and how wonderful is it that Elder Stradling remembered where my little brother was going? Let me just tell you that God is real. Anyway that seriously made my life. And funny enough I saw him as I was walking to come email you so we took a picture. And the Elder that is next to Brian is Elder Stradling, not his companion. His companion is this tall Asian. But I don't really have time to figure out how to load them up so I will have to send those later. Also I will have to send you pictures from our temple walk on Sunday. I saw Luke there and we got a picture. It was cute.   
But anyway, this week was a struggle. I just had a hard time with being able to teach with the Spirit and honestly, I don't know why. It was really frustrating with lot of tears of course. But I had the greatest realization one day and everything changed. I just realized how much God is in everything and how everything points to Jesus. I don't know why I have never really realized it but it seriously has changed my life since then. I don't really have time to talk about all my experiences this week but the most wonderful experience happened last night. We were doing this workshop with one of our teachers and he really just stressed how we need to have confidence in the Lord. I think that is something that I had been seriously lacking. So when we went to teach an investigator I just let the Lord and the spirit do the work and it was the most wonderful experience I have ever had. We, as a companionship, were able to teach with unity and to be able to help Carolina, our investigator, feel the Spirit and God's love for her. I could see in her eyes that she felt something and when she finally decided to pray for us, it was beautiful. And the only thing I kept thinking was, God is real. And the song A Child's Prayer popped into my head. And I just thought how wonderful it was that God finally got to hear from one of his children. It was so amazing. And my teacher told us after to go read Jacob 5:71-77 and that just blew my mind too. I have read that allegory so many times and never really got that much out of it till last night. We have been trying so hard to be able to teach and when we finally let God help us, miracles were brought to pass.  The theme scripture for this whole week for me has been 1 Nephi 1:20, where it says that God shows tender mercies to those who serve with all their might or something like that. Love it.
Well, that is basically all that needs to be said for this week. Plus I'm outta time. I'm going to try and figure out how to send the pictures.

I love you and I pray for you every night. Thanks for the love and support!

Love, Sister Richards

P.S. People should know that I don't have any emails or address so if they want to hear from me, they have to write to me first! 
PPS Thank Beth and Kevin for the letters. They were a big help.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hola July 24, 2015

My first day of the MTC...NAILED IT! Haha but seriously it was great. The whole getting sick thing from being so nervous was not the best but the minute I entered the MTC, everything was calm. (PS Lisa, sorry I broke away so fast. I knew that if I stayed any longer I would never make it so I had to get out of there ASAP quick! I still love you). It was very comforting to know that there were 700 other missionaries that were in the same position as me. I have already felt so many blessings from God and I know now more than ever that this is the place I am supposed to be. And to make things better, I saw Elder Richards aka Luke on my first day here. That brightened my day so much. He looks great. I actually know so many people here its kind of ridiculous.
First off I just want to say that I love my district. They are all so amazing and great examples to me. My first companion is Sister Carroll. She is pretty cool. We seem to get along fine but I know that there is definitely a reason why she is my companion. And I'm grateful for that. She is awesome. The other Sisters in our district are really awesome too. We all get along really well and just have the best time together. There are two sets of Sisters and three sets of Elders so we are all pretty great friends already. Also Sister Carroll is really good at waking up on time so she helps me get up too. Huge blessing there!! The Elders in my district are all awesome too. We have two Elder Olsens and they are companions with each other. They are also our zone leaders. We have a great laugh about that. Half of us are going to Denver North and the other half are going to Gilbert Arizona. And we have the best teachers ever. So wonderful!   
Anyway the first day was so amazing. All the new missionaries separated into big groups and we got to see some interactions with investigators. That was actually really hard. But I know that I wasn't the only one that thought that. So it was definitely a growing experience. But the last man we talked to was this Italian and he just melted my heart. He was just so ready to hear what we believed and how he can be happy. He liked to call the Plan of Salvation the Happy Plan, or the Hugs and Kisses plan. He grew up Catholic and so they always just told him about a "Handshake" plan, where you could only shake hands when you die. And he just wanted to hug and kiss his wife and son that had passed away. It was seriously so touching. When we told him that his son was with our Heavenly Father, his face just said it all. He was so happy. He definitely likes the happy plan!
The second day was even better. I cant believe it has only been two days! I feel like it has been much longer than that. And I only have ten more days here. But yesterday was such an amazing experience. During our classes we talked about how to invite people to turn outward and so we went and practiced on other missionaries in the MTC. Usually when I have to do things like that, I just get so nervous. But when we went out to talk to other missionaries about our purpose, I just went for it. I cannot express how much of a blessing that is!! Then we were practiced inviting people to be baptized and that was such a wonderful experience. We all just went around the room trying to practice inviting each other and I was with Elder Olsen. I can't even really describe it but when we were asking each other, the spirit was just so strong and I could tell that we both knew that what we were doing and what we were saying was true. And I have never really felt that strongly about what I was saying was true until that moment I bore my testimony of baptism to Elder Olsen. Explaining it doesn't really do it justice but it was great. 
So our zone has two districts in it that are speaking sign language and it is really cool to see them sign. Its actually kind of distracting cause I find myself just watching them sign but I just love it. The people here are so amazing and just wonderful. Also my companion and I are the branch music coordinators. So that is pretty fun.  
I cannot even begin to explain my happiness right now. This gospel is so true and I am so excited to get out there and share it with Denver. I love being here. It's really amazing cause the minute I got settled in and got my name tag, I just forgot about all the worries and all the things that I had been thinking about before I came here. There is no time really to think about anything else except Jesus Christ and the good word, and I love that. I have already been so blessed since being here, I just can't even describe it. Sigh... :)

But mom a few things. One, I forgot my bandages for my heels and oh baby they hurt. But only with my one pair of shoes. But don't worry, my teenage mutant ninja turtle bandaids are protecting me. Also I found out that I won't be getting home till January 30, 2017 so yeah. I'm leaving the MTC on August 3rd.. yikes. Hopefully I find Brian before then. Also here is the address for me while I am in the MTC if you want to share that:
Sister Ellen Richards
2005 N 900 E Unit 242
Provo UT 84602     

Other than that I don't think I have anything else to say and my time is running out. I love you guys and I wish you all the best!

Sister Richards