Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year! (29/1 email)

Hope you all had a great Christmas!

Unfortunately I have been sick with a cold all week, but I still enjoyed it :) We spent our Christmas day at the Pew's place. We Skyped our families, ate too much and watched movies. It was nice to have a break. Oh and guess what!? I saw snow for the first time! It snowed on boxing day... it didn't stay on the ground but I was so happy to see it!... I'll send a pic!

I don't have much to write about this week... being sick in the flat pretty much the whole week... so I've had a lot of time to study and ponder. I've been thinking a lot about goals with the new year approaching, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.

Something that is taking me forever to learn, which is so important is that happiness in life is based on our attitude. We can be happy no matter what life throws at us. If we can learn to be grateful in our circumstances rather than for our circumstances (see Uchtdorf talk) that is really the key to happiness in my opinion. Happiness is a choice, and everyday when we wake up, we choose whether or not it will be a good day. My mission has definitely helped me to see that. We can't choose exactly what will happen to us that day, but we can choose to be happy... to laugh instead of cry when things go wrong.

The other thing I've been thinking about is how easy it is to procrastinate, or to think along the lines of "when this day comes, then I will do this, or then I will be the person I've always wanted to be..." It just doesn't work like that. We need to act today! If we don't start being the kind of person we want to be now, that day will come and we won't magically be transformed... it's a process. It makes me think of another quote by President Uchtdorf that I really liked: "You don't need an invitation before you start moving in the direction of your righteous goals. You don't need to wait for permission to become the person you were designed to be!"

I just want you to think about these things as you set goals or resolutions for this new year... don't let it be just a list you make and never look at again... start now to make changes and you will become the person you were designed to be! But remember we can't do it on our own. God created us, He knows everything about us... He knows our dreams and He can help us reach them if we let Him :) I am so grateful for this time I've had to ponder these things and really think about what I want to do and who I want to become this new year. I wish you all the very best! 

All my love. Sister Riley

My first snow experience :D

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas everyone! (23/12 email)

What a week! We went to the Temple on Tuesday, Rebecca's baptism on Thursday and yesterday we had our mission Christmas celebration :) Lots to smile about... aaaand we found an amazing new investigator to top it all off! Her name is Maria and she is from Portugal. We found her near the university on monday night and showed her around the YSA building... she liked it and we shared the Book of Mormon with her and prayed together. She is very curious to learn more about our church and we are seeing her again tonight :)

The Temple was amazing (of course!) Oh how I love it there, I didn't want to leave. I feel so close to our Father in Heaven, and my prayers seemed to reach him straight away, He answered my questions and left me feeling peaceful and so, so grateful. I feel like I have a habit of focusing on the things I don't have, but I was reminded of the many, many things He has blessed me with. I encourage all of you to remember all the gifts God has given you, especially at this Christmas time. As our hearts are filled with gratitude, somehow our problems and worries seem to fade and we can see how lucky we are, how God is so mindful of us, and of course he will continue to bless us and help us in times of need.

Thursday night was the baptism of our investigator Rebecca and the Elders' investigator Joe, both from China. They are so amazing! I continue to be amazed by how quickly the Chinese soak up the Gospel and they were both just beaming after their baptisms. What a privilege to be a part of this experience! What a wonderful night it was!

Yesterday we had our Christmas celebrations with half of the mission... the other half are celebrating it today. We had so much fun! We performed skits and sang songs, ate good food and then were spiritually fed by the wise words of President Ulrich. He promised us this Christmas will be the best of our lives as we are focused on Christ.

I know the same promise applies to all of you. Take time this Christmas to study about our Saviour, and you will be filled with gratitude and love. He is the reason for the Season :)
I hope you all have the best Christmas ever!

xoxo Sister Riley

Rebecca's baptism
Me with Sister Madsen
Me with Sister Gjikaj

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas in the YSA (15/12 email)

Hi!

It's crazy how quick the days are going, I can hardly remember what we did this week! Our investigator Rebecca has progressed so quickly the past few weeks, and she is getting baptised this week! She actually lives in the same accomodation as Ted our recent convert, so has been a really good example to her.

Our investigator Cloud (Chinese students sometimes have the funniest names!) came to church! We will be setting a baptismal date with him soon. And we finally got to see Chris again! He was really not doing well, and we weren't sure what was wrong or how to help him... we asked if he wanted a blessing and he said yes so the Elders came and gave him one. The Spirit was so so strong in the room and I just couldn't stop crying! My heart just broke for him. He needed help beyond what we could do for him, and he is actually in hospital now getting the help he needs, so that makes me feel so much better.

Sometimes i just get this overwhelming feeling about the people I teach, that we were always meant to meet and that there are things that I specifically need to help them with. I know that God has a perfect plan... He knows the needs of his children so he sends people to help them, and I've seen how God has used me to help others and it is an amazing feeling.

Both Katarina and Ted go out teaching with us and it's so great because I can see how much their testimonies have grown and oh its just the best!

Sister Gjikaj is so wonderful, I love being her companion! She is also an amazing cook and makes the best Albanian food haha!

I can't wait for tomorrow cos we are going to the Temple! Then Rebecca gets baptised on Thursday and next week is Christmas! Even though it's cold and wet, I have so much to be grateful for and I love being here... I hope you all are doing well and hope to hear from you soon!

xoxo Sister Riley

Manchester Christmas markets

We had a munch 'n' mingle after Church, complete with Christmas crackers!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Our growing family (8/12 email)

Hi everyone!

We had transfers this week, and as you know I'm training again... my new companion is Sister Gjikaj from Albania. She is amazing, and I am so excited for this transfer :)

Last P-day the Pews (senior missionary couple) took us out to an American restaurant as a farewell to the missionaries that were leaving. It was fun... I had my first proper American hotdog and it was real good!

Wednesday was transfer meeting, and we took a family tree photo... our last one with Sister Martin cos she's going home! :(

Sister Gjikaj and I have been seeing miracles already, and we have met some amazing people on the streets of Manchester. She has a powerful testimony and I know it will truly bless the lives of the people here.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to train right now... it is really helping me to be focused and to work hard. I know that there are many more miracles on the way, especially with it being the Christmas season. I encourage you all to share the "He is the gift" video with everyone! [ http://www.mormon.org.au/christmas ] It is not very long, but its powerful and I'm sure that those people who are prepared will watch it and will feel something stir within them and want to learn more about Christ. He truly is the most precious gift and we need to share it!

I just wanted to end with a quote I read this week that I thought was powerful:
"We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day." - Elder Scott.

It's never too late to be the person you've always wanted to be; we can start today by making small changes and I know that if we involve God, he can help us reach our potential.

I love you all!
xoxo Sister Riley

Family tree! Sister Martin, me, Sister Gjikaj, Sister Madsen and Sister Black


Monday, December 1, 2014

Tis the season (2/12 email)

Last P-day we went to the Christmas Markets in Piccadilly, and it was magical! Now I have the Christmas spirit haha! I also bought a cute christmas sweater and we put up a tiny little tree in our flat :D

Katarina got baptised this week! So happy for her! It was a great day, the elders also had a baptism, and after we had a thanksgiving dinner... ate way too much!

We got our transfer calls this week and I will be staying in Manchester and training a new missionary; Sister Chu is also training and moving to Lancaster. It will be sad to see her go, and I was kinda hoping for one last area but I'll most likely be here til the end. I'm excited to train again and can't wait to meet my new companion :)

So we taught Chris again this week, and the Spirit in that lesson was so strong! Probably one of the most powerful lessons I've ever taught. I felt the Spirit prompting me exactly what to say, and I was so bold with him, and I'm not normally very bold. I extended the invitation to be baptised, and we sat in silence for like a minute... it was intense! I thought for sure he was going to say yes... but at the moment he's a bit confused and conflicted. He committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray, but I am not sure what to do next... something's not clicking and it's frustrating cos now I feel like I've done everything I can do... there's only so much we can do, the rest is up to him and I just hope that he can do his part because I know that this gospel is the answer... what ever the question or problem, this Gospel has the answers, the peace and the purest form of happiness you will ever find.

There's so much going on in my mind right now but at the same time I'm not sure what else to write. Just want you all to know that I love you and miss you and hope you are all doing great! I love being a missionary, I am so grateful heavenly father guided me here :)

xoxo Sister Riley

The streets in Manchester are getting Christmassy!
Katarina and Andy's baptism
Our tree!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Baptisms! (25/11 email)

Ted got baptised this past week! Oh I just love baptisms! The spirit is always so strong. Katarina is getting baptised this week! Both of them came with us to Stake Conference and enjoyed it. My favourite part of Stake Conference was a musical item the choir performed. It was a beautiful arrangement of 'Come thou fount', and I had tears in my eyes as I listened and the Spirit touched my heart. I am so grateful for music. I think that beautiful music can be one of the quickest ways to feel the Spirit and I just love it.

The weather is getting a lot colder and wetter which makes finding new investigators more of a challenge, but we just keep going! We met some great people on the street yesterday who will hopefully become new investigators. One thing I love about Manchester is how diverse it is here! I've met people from all over the world! I know that God is bringing people here to hear the Gospel!

We are teaching a boy called Chris, and he has been investigating the church for quite a while, and is pretty much living everything but for some reason won't commit to being baptised. He says its something that he wants, but something is holding him back and we just can't figure it out. So I've been praying a lot, to know what we need to share with him that will help him, and I had an amazing experience in my personal study where I was completely guided by the Spirit to know what to share with him. I can't wait for our next lesson to see how it goes!

I've really noticed this week how God helps me to know the right things to say as I teach, and it's such an amazing thing to be a part of. God knows our investigators personally, and as we prepare each morning, God promises to reveal to us by the Spirit what we need to share with them. I love how I feel when I teach. I am just filled with love from God.It's the best feeling in the world.

I am determined to make this week the best of my mission... time is going by so quickly and I want to make the most of it!

Also we found out that we get to go to the Temple next month and I am beyond excited! More excited than Christmas! Those of you reading this who have the opportunity to go to the Temple often, you are so lucky! I miss it so much! It is in the temple where I feel closest to God. It's my most favourite place to be. I invite you to go as much as you can!

xoxo Sister Riley

Ted's baptism
Lego Harry
Sister Chu's new ride

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy are we (17/11 email)

Hi everyone!

Thanks for the birthday wishes :) I had a great day. Sister Chu surprised me when I came out the shower with balloons and chocolate and goodies. She is the sweetest most happy person I know and I love being her companion :)

We went to Nandos for lunch as a district. I love nandos! It's more expensive here though, but still... Nandos! In the evening Melody and Brogan had us round for tea and they had a cake for me with our picture on it... I found it very amusing as I bit sister chu's head off hahaha!

I am so excited for this coming week! Ted is getting baptised! There aren't many things that compare to the joy of bapisms on your mission. :D

I wanted to share an experience I had this week that really strengthened my faith. Something that I haven't been the best at on my mission is planning. I have heard from so many people how important planning is but I just haven't been able to master it yet. This week I was so determined to put my whole heart into planning and see miracles! And we did! Sister Chu and I went out with our planners filled up, with specific goals for every hour and we achieved them all! It was like a dream. I actually feel pretty dumb that it's taken me this long to figure it out but hey... better late than never right? I know that God saw the effort we put into planning, he saw the faith that we had as we went out, expecting to achieve our goals and the miracles didn't happen straight away, we had to work hard! We talked to everyone! And then, and only then did we see the miracles. We met a man on the street that was so prepared! He had a lot of questions, but he sincerely wanted to know the truth. We gave him a Book of Mormon and bore our testimonies, and I know that he will read it. Some people just say that they will and never do, but this man was ready. It was amazing.

Well, today we are going to the Trafford centre which is a huge shopping mall in Manchester! I am super excited!

I hope you all have the best day ever! 
Our attitudes make ALL the difference!
Love you! xoxox Sister Riley

Birthday lunch at Nandos
Customised cake

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just a quick one (11/11 email)

Sorry I'm outta time, but I want you all to know I'm doing well and I am so excited for this week.

We are going to work so hard, and I know that miracles will happen! Katarina and Ted are doing really well and should hopefully both be baptised this month :) I had an interview with President this week, and he said a lot of things that I needed to hear. He really is inspired and receives revelation for this mission.

I just want you all to know that the power of prayer is real. Prayer can change our hearts, prayer can change our lives and as we come closer to God we find greater peace and happiness.

I invite you all to pray more. The more we pray the more guidance we receive and the more we will become like our Heavenly Father.

Love you all so much!
xoxo Sister Riley

Monday, November 3, 2014

Be Still and know that I am God (3/11 email)

We had a baptism in the YSA ward this week! It was so wonderful :) Two of our investigators came, and I think that it really helped them to see that it is something they want too. Our investigators Ted and Katarina are progressing really well. Ted now has a baptismal date for the 20th of Nov and Katarina is really close! She is so amazing!

Remember how a few weeks back I told you about a lady we met on the street who had some mental health problems, and we were able to help her out... well this week we got a call from her, she is doing much better, and she wanted to thank us for helping her that night. She said that she was in a very bad place and was thinking about taking her own life, but that we had saved her. After that phonecall I just sat in silence for a while. I thought back to that night and how Sister Chu and i had initially walked past her but both felt we needed to turn back and talk to her. I am so grateful we followed the prompting. God answers prayers! He knew that this lady needed help so He sent us to her. My heart is just so full of love right now, I can't explain it. I know that each of us can make a huge difference in the lives of others if we will live worthy of, and follow the promptings of the spirit... we can literally save lives!

Sister Chu and I had some amazing experiences this week while we went out finding. We would go out with a prayer in our hearts, we would ask each other... what are you praying for right now? And it would be something like... someone who will accept a Book of Mormon... and then we would find them! It was crazy! the church is true!

I have been studying about the enabling power of the Atonement this week, and the things that I have read have helped me so much! If you have the opportunity, I recommend reading the talk "In the strength of the Lord" by Elder Bednar. Here is a great quote from it:

"There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the Savior did not experience first. You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, 'No one understands. No one knows.' No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, and succor—literally run to us—and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying only upon our own power."

I have come to know the Saviour on a much more personal level because of the trials I've had on my mission. I have come to see for myself that the enabling power of the Atonement is real. It is so real, and it is there waiting for us to access it. Don't let Christ's suffering be in vain! You don't have to suffer through life on your own. He has already been through it. Let him comfort you, let him carry the load with you. I am so grateful for Him and His perfect love. It means everything to me. I never thought I would be someone to say "I'm grateful for my trials," but I really am. I know that God will never give us a trial that we can't get through. Sometimes we forget the most important thing though, that the Saviour is there to help us and we don't have to do it alone. So if you are struggling right now, if you are hurting and you feel alone... turn to the Saviour! let him help you! He has helped me so much, and his love is endless, don't feel like you are asking too much of Him, he will always be there.

I love you all, and I hope that you all are doing well.

Love, Sister Riley

Monday, October 27, 2014

I think I'm turning Chinese! (27/10 email)

Hey everyone!

I'm excited for this new transfer! I'm recommitted to work hard and give it all I've got! Our investigator Helen is dated for baptism on the 27th of November, and its really exciting. She is so wonderful and has such a pure heart. She has a strong desire to follow God and I'm not worried about her at all.

Katarina is progressing really well, she came to Institute this week and got to meet more of the YSA. She is so committed to this! She really wants to get her answer! She found the institute class very interesting and even said that she wishes she found her university course as interesting!

Another boy we are teaching is Ted, and he is the funniest Chinese person I've ever met! he is so friendly and outgoing, and that helps so much cos he gets along with all the YSAs. It makes our job easier knowing that when he is baptised he will have friends and the support that he needs.

We had tea at a Chinese couple's home... it was really good! Here in the YSA ward, we only teach people who are 18-30 yrs old and aren't married. We met Amy and Gary and they are married, so technically we cant teach them. But because they are Chinese and there aren't many Chinese speaking missionaries we have been teaching them... if they want to get baptised it will have to be in another ward though. Anyways, they are super nice and wanted to have us round for tea. After the meal Amy showed us their wedding video, and got out her Chinese flute and was teaching us Tai Chi hahaha! so fun!

There were some complications with transfers, and some sisters didn't get the keys to their flat and needed a place to stay... the zone leaders called us and asked if we could have them stay with us... we said yes of course and I was wondering which sisters it was... I was so excited when I found out it was Sister Martin my trainer! And she is training another missionary! So we had a sleepover and it took me back to the start of my mission to spend time with her again! we had a lot to catch up on!

I just love it here. The weather is miserable but there's sunshine in my soul haha!

love you all!
xoxo Sister Riley.

Me and my mission mum!
Sister Chu and her one true love
Sister Chu with Helen

Monday, October 20, 2014

Restoration (20/10 email)

Hi everyone! Hope you're all doing well!

This week wasn't the best number-wise, but we have some great progressing investigators.
We have an investigator called Katarina. She is from the States. She is AMAZING! This week we watched the restoration DVD with her and by the end she had tears in her eyes! She is reading the Book of Mormon, coming to church, praying and even started her family history! She really wants to find out for herself if it's true, and so far she feels like everything has been leading her to this church! I am so excited for her!

On Saturday we had a Chinese activity in Liverpool. We had about 12 Chinese investigators come. It was a good day :) We ate and played games then finished the day with a testimony meeting. Hey guess what? I can pray in Chinese! Haha!

So it's transfers next week, there will be a few changes in our district, but Sister Chu and I are staying together.

President has given us a 31 day atonement study, and it's the best! It is hard to fully comprehend what the Saviour did for us, but each talk and scripture that I read is helping me to understand and appreciate it more. I am so so grateful for what He did for me. Just knowing that Jesus Christ thought of me when he was in the garden fills me with so much love and gratitude. He loves us so much that he suffered immeasurable pain and died so that we can live with Him and our families forever. This simple truth changes everything. 

Once we come to know  that Jesus Christ is real and that he really did perform the atonement for us, we can pray and have access to the healing and enabling power of the atonement. It's real, I've felt it, it has changed me for the better. And I've been lucky enough to see it change the lives of others, i'ts the best thing ever. I'm the happiest I've ever been while I've been helping others come unto Christ.

Love you all so much, hope you have a great week!
xoxo Sister Riley.

Me and Sister Chu
Our investigator Brogan and her friend Melody

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oh it is wonderful (13/10 email)

You know what? I  just love how Heavenly Father works. We go through hard times and rough patches in our lives and sometimes we think that God isn't there or that He's unfair. But I have really come to understand how important it is for things to be difficult in life. There are many reasons why life is hard, one of them being so that we will learn to rely on him completely.

Since moving to this new area, things have been going really well and its been really easy. At the same time though I have felt my prayers become weaker and my relationship and communication with God become more distant and hazy. This week I cried for like the first time since being here! Doesn't sound like a big deal but it is! I cried like everyday in my last area haha! and I was able to see the connection. It made sense. I was really struggling in Rhyl, and I prayed a lot! My connection to God was strong and I felt very close to him.

Then I moved here and things have just been go go go and I haven't really needed to rely on God as much. I can see now how important it is to always be close to God, even when things are going good! This week has been a huge learning experience for me. All of a sudden things aren't as easy as they were and It's been a big wake-up call to me. I feel like this is a lesson we all need to learn about life. When things are easy we sometimes get casual with our prayers and scripture study, even with our standards and church attendance... but we know that when all these things start going down, so will we! It's not a maybe kind of thing, it will happen! But the reverse is also true, when we "up our game" and increase our prayers and quality of our study and commitment to our covenants, the blessings will increase and we will have peace and happiness. It's so simple, I don't know why it's so easily forgotten.

I read some amazing talks this week that have been exactly what I needed to hear. God knows me and where I'm at and I am so grateful for the words I've read that have given me the help I needed. I am so grateful for the sacrament, and for the opportunity I have to recommit every week. This week is going to be the best week of my mission! And it can be the best week for you to as you turn to God and follow him with all your heart. I want to share with you something that I read that has given me this motivation. I hope that it helps you as much as its helped me :)

"Just give it up. Surrender your will to Him. Unconditionally. Withhold nothing. Turn it all over to Him; all of your desires, wishes, dreams and hopes. Be true and faithful in your head and in your heart, not just your behaviour. Trust in Him. Trust Him who knows all things. Trust Him who has all power. Trust Him whose love for you is perfect. Trust Him who alone suffered, paid and atoned for your sins, and for your weaknesses as well. Trust Him that He will make of you, immeasurably more than what you will ever, ever, in all eternity, make of yourself. He will create of you a masterpiece. You will create of you only a smudge. You will create an ordinary man. He will create a God."

There is so much more I could tell you about, but this is the most important thing I wanted to share. Life is hard, the gospel isn't :)

I love you all so much. I pray for you all everyday.

There is nothing that I want more than for all my loved ones to have the joy that I feel because of Jesus Christ. It's never to late to start believing.

All my love,
xoxo Sister Riley 

Here's a selfie in case you forgot what I look like :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Let the Holy Spirit guide (6/10 email)

I just can't believe how quickly the weeks are flying by! We are just so busy losing ourselves in the work that before we know it it's Preparation day again!

Something that is guaranteed about missions is that there are ups and downs, and when an investigator is progressing towards baptism that they will have opposition. Molly had her baptismal interview this week and everything was going so well! The next day she texted us saying that she told her parents about her baptism and they were less than pleased. They had strong words with her and do not want her to be baptised. Molly is such a sweet girl and doesn't want to upset her parents, so at the moment as things are, she is postponing the baptism. We haven't been able to get in contact with her since, and it is very upsetting. She knows it's all true and she told us she will continue to read and pray and live the commandments, but for now wont be coming to church or getting baptised. It's upsetting but I know that God prepares a way for those that want to follow him. Things will work out.

So despite that bad news, we found some more amazing prepared people this week. People with pure hearts who want to know the truth. I just love teaching the Chinese people! I can't imagine how fast the church will spread when China opens its doors to the gospel!

Conference was amazing! and the best part was that we had 6 investigators come to watch it! I am determined to let this conference change me! To not just watch it once and think it was nice but to reflect on it often and set goals to apply the things I've learnt to become a better person. I am so grateful for conference and how God speaks to us through his chosen servants.

I hope that you will all let conference change you! Look for answers to your prayers in conference because I know that each of us can receive personal revelation and if we pray for the spirit to be with us as we watch it, He can communicate with us and tell us things we need to hear.

Oh how I LOVE the spirit! it is the best thing ever and I am so grateful for that gift I received when I was 8. Those of you who have been baptised and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, always be worthy of it and follow its promptings. God loves us so much and has given us this gift to guide, protect and comfort us, and I feel like sometimes we forget what an amazing gift we have. We are never alone.

Hope you all have a great week and continue to be good examples to those around you

xoxo Sister Riley


Monday, September 29, 2014

The church is true (29/9 email)

Hi everyone!

It's been a crazy week! A new set of elders have come to the area so now we have 5 sets of missionaries! We had to swap flats with the elders which was a bit rubbish cos our old flat is better.

We had some pretty great things happen this week. Molly came to church and she is progressing very well! Her baptism is set for the 16th of october :) Jack said he will be coming to church this week so we hope and pray he will be able to! He is amazing! We found some new investigators, one of them called Ted is so good! He came to church and he hung out with a bunch of the YSAs during the week... it is the best when they make friends because you don't want them to be too attatched to the missionaries. When we get transferred you want them to be comfortable in the ward and to have lots of friends.

Yesterday when we were walking home from church we bumped into a man we'd met a couple of times before. We were walking with a member who is from Vietnam, and the man we bumped into is from Vietnam too! Crazy! They got on like a house on fire! We walked back to the chapel with him and gave him a chapel tour. It was soo good! Just the timing of it all... it was meant to happen!

I just love it here! It is such a blessing and a privilege. My heart is so full of love for the people that we are teaching, and my companion is a joy to be around. I'm so so grateful I made the decision to serve, the Lord is teaching me so much. I can't believe how quick the time is going. It is a weird feeling. I will be seeing you all in no time!

Have a great week!
xoxo Sister Riley

This is a photo of my district before the new elders came in

Monday, September 22, 2014

As I have loved you... (22/9 email)

This week has been probably the busiest week of my mission so far! It was 'freshers week', kinda like orientation week for university, so there were students everywhere! We had 10 sets of missionaries here everyday because we knew it would be so busy! So this week was full on street contacting and chapel tours and lessons! Oh and miracles! We had activities running every night last week, and lots of non- members came. The work is just exploding here and I am so excited to be a part of it.

We met with Molly again, and she is amazing! We set a baptismal date with her for the 16th of October. She is so pure in heart and wants to follow God. I am so excited for her.

On Friday we got to do some service for the food bank. We helped out a lady packing food parcels and giving them to homeless people. It was such a great feeling helping them, and we will be doing it every week :)

So many things happened this week and I don't have enough time to write them all, but I just wanted to tell you about an experience we had last night. We went out street contacting, and we decided to walk further down Oxford road to a part we haven't worked in before... we know now that It was the spirit guiding us there. We saw this lady in her pyjamas walking down the street. She looked unwell and upset. Normally I wouldn't approach someone like this, but Sister Chu and I both felt that we needed to help her. Turns out she is a member of our church and she had been admitted to the hospital for mental health problems, but had escaped! You would think that we would be a bit worried or feel unsafe, but we didn't. I felt so calm, and I knew that we needed to walk with her to the church and get her help. I can't explain to you how I felt as we talked with her and helped her to calm down. I was filled with love for this woman that I had never met, and I just wanted her to know how much God loves her and how everything would be ok. Everything got sorted out, and she is back in hospital, but this experience has made such a big impact on me. I know that God sent us there to help this woman. And as I was sitting with her and speaking with her I felt God giving me the right words to say. He loves us all so much.

I feel like mental illness is very misunderstood. It is not a punishment from God, it is a trial that he has given to some of us. I know that God doesn't give us trials that we can't get through... With His help we can overcome everything life throws at us. My heart just ached for this woman. I hope that I was able to help her and I know that God will continue to help her.

My mission has really opened my eyes. Through the experiences I've had I am more aware of the needs of others around me and how selfish I can be. I have felt the happiest as I am helping others, and I now know that I want to spend the rest of my life helping others.

I just want you all to know that I know each of us are children of God. Just take a moment to think about that. When we come to know who we really are, we can start to see things differently. We start to see our selves the way that God sees us. We are so much more than the way we see ourselves. If we are struggling with low self-esteem or self-doubt, we need to pray and ask God to help us to see ourselves the way he sees us. He created us. He made us all with different weaknesses and strengths. It is easy to see our weaknesses, but sometimes we need help to see our strengths. I know that God can help us see them because He has done that for me. Once we know what our strengths are we need to use them to help others. This is what life is all about.

I love this gospel. I love the plan that God has for us. Its a whole lot more simple than I thought.

I hope you all are well, hope to hear from you soon.

xoxo Sister Riley

Nancy Williams. She is my favourite
Spider welcomed me into the new flat
Me and Sister Chu! (I am bending down...she is tiny!)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

MANCHESTER!! (16/9 email)

Wow!

I don't know where to start! It's been a crazy week! crazy GOOD week!
I'm here in Manchester with the sweet little Sister Chu, and the work is EXPLODING here! 

As missionaries in the Young Single Adult (YSA) Ward we spend our days street contacting on Oxford Road, one of the busiest roads in Manchester... so we get to talk to a LOT of people! It was overwhelming at first, but I am used to it now... I LOVE IT! We have a brand new YSA building on Oxford Road, and it is the BEST!

Sister Chu is a Chinese speaking missionary, so we get to teach a lot of Chinese students. Luckily for me, they are pretty good at English so they can understand me. I LOVE teaching Chinese people! They are so humble and willing to learn. Most of them have no religious beliefs and so when we teach them about God and the restored gospel the spirit testifies to them and we see their testimonies start to grow straight away. It is AMAZING! 

I have so many stories I could share but I just wanted to tell you about Molly. Molly is from China and she is a student here. We gave her a tour of the YSA building and when we were in the chapel, we sat down and taught her about God and prayer. Molly told us that she doesn't know anything about God but that she wants to know more. We taught her how to pray and she said her first prayer there with us in the chapel. The spirit was so strong. We all had tears in our eyes. It was beautiful. We went downstairs and showed her the baptismal font and explained to her about baptism. Molly wanted to be baptised right then and there! We will be seeing her again today and hopefully setting a date for when she will be baptised. She is amazing!

I feel so lucky to be able to serve here. My district is a great bunch of missionaries, and we have a lot of fun. I am so grateful for the spirit I feel every day as I testify to the people I meet. Those moments, when you can see someone feeling the spirit and beginning to taste the joy of this gospel are the best moments of my life. This is true happiness.

I am so grateful for each of you. I have so many wonderful people in my life, I hope you are all doing well and hope to hear from you soon!

xoxo Sister Riley

Goodbye Rhyl (8/9 email)

Transfers are here! and It is time for me to leave sunny Rhyl and travel to the promised land....Manchester YSA!

Mixed emotions... I am sad to leave all the wonderful people I have met here, but also super excited to go to Manchester!

This week we taught Dhivia the Indian lady we met at our neighbour's home. She is lovely. We went to her home and taught her the first half of the restoration. We didn't have enough time to get through it all because she had a lot of questions and different ideas. It was a great lesson though, and she wants to meet with us again.

We also got to teach Sarah, who is a referral from members in our ward. Sarah and her family have been to church a few times, and they love it. She invited us round for cake and a chat, and it was so nice. We taught from the Book of Mormon, and taught her about prayer and reading the scriptures, and she asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon and said that she can't wait to read it and pray. She is amazing and I can just see her family thriving in this gospel!

Yesterday was a spiritual feast. I felt the spirit so strongly and I just felt so happy and calm but also sad to be leaving such a great ward. I have made many friends here, and I can't wait to see them again one day. 

We went with Barry, Linda and Cara to the missionary Fireside, and it was just the icing on the cake! The testimonies of recent converts are SO powerful! If Linda didn't feel the spirit then I don't know what else to do haha! We talked about it afterwards on the drive home and she said she wasn't sure. I just think she is a bit stubborn and doesn't want to admit it ;) She'll get there.

In my studies this week, a common theme that stood out to me was humility and repentance. As we humble ourselves before the Lord, admitting our weakness and acknowledging that God is the reason we even have any strengths, and offer our whole selves to him, he pours out his spirit, he lifts us up and gives us strength. He helps us do the work that we are here to do. Its a continual process, something we need to do everyday. We cannot do it without Him.

I am so grateful for the plan that God has for me. I know that as I put my trust in him and follow his guidance that I will be happy. Isn't that what we all want? It really is that simple. Just follow God. We have so many things to be grateful for, God has blessed us with so much. Thank him for the blessings he has given you.

Love, Sister Riley xoxo

District photo
Sister Callcott and me
With Brother Devany and his kids


Monday, September 1, 2014

Things will never be the same again (1/9 email)

This week has been amazing. I can't put into words how I feel.

Sister Madsen and I were finally able to reach the standard of excellence this week with the key indicators, and it feels so good.

Heavenly Father taught me some important lessons this week. He is so loving and patient with me. We went on exchanges this week, and it was such an answer to my prayers. It was on this exchange that God helped me, through another sister, to see my potential, to raise my expectations and expect miracles. It wasn't a matter of learning new things but rather being reminded of things I already knew. I am so grateful for the experiences I had this week, they have helped me so much.

We taught Linda again this week, and we felt that we should focus on the Book of Mormon. We had a great lesson with her and she committed to read from it everyday. I know that if she shows God that she is willing to do this and that she really wants an answer, that she will get one. It will happen.

We had tea at the Peter's home this week. Juliet Peter is a convert originally from South Africa. We just LOVE her family. She has 3 kids, Buci, Uvi and Ollu. They are the cutest! Buci and Uvi have been baptised, but Ollu isn't old enough yet. Their dad isn't a member. After tea we taught the kids a lesson about the Holy Ghost, and their dad didn't join in but was listening from the other room. We invited him to join us for the closing prayer, which he did. We spoke to Juliet after to see if her husband would like to be taught the lessons, and she said that he will join in next time. So we are excited about that! How wonderful it will be when he is baptised and they can be sealed together as a family!

President and Sister Ulrich spoke in the Rhyl ward on Sunday. It was great. President was so bold and powerful as he invited everyone to find someone for the missionaries (us) to teach. I know that the members really want to help us and I am so excited for all the referrals we will get!

This week has changed my mission. I am so excited for all the miracles that will happen as I put all my heart, mind and strength into this work. I know that God is preparing people everywhere to recieve this gospel, the truth! 

"The simple secret is this: put your trust in the Lord, do your best, then leave the rest to Him." - Joseph B. Wirthlin. I know that those words are true. It is simple, if we follow this advice God will bless us.

love, Sister Riley xoxo 

Inside an old church


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

1 year mark (27/8 email)

Hi everyone!

just a quick one today, it was bank holiday yesterday so that's why this is later than usual. The Morris' took us to Snowdonia, it was so beautiful! I'll send pics!
Here's the highlights of the week:
We visited our Indian neighbours, and they invited us in and we met loads of their friends (referrals!!). One couple live just across the road from us and want us to come visit them, so that's exciting!
We visited Cheryl, and she committed to live the word of wisdom and repent. I know that as she does these things she will be more receptive to the spirit and she can receive answers to her prayers and a confirmation of the truth.
We had a specialised training with the assistants and President and Sister Ulrich. It was amazing! The spirit was super strong and I was uplifted and motivated. I just love meetings, they help build and strengthen my faith. We had interviews with president, and he said some wonderful things... things I needed to hear. Time is going so quick and I just need to give it all I've got! Miracles are going to happen!
It was my one year mark on Friday. Sweet Sister Madsen made me a cake and I've been feeling pretty reflective this week. At our district meeting today, Elder Oakey asked me to talk about what I've learnt over this past year, and as I took time to look back over my mission so far, I was able to see how much I've grown. I'm definitely not saying these things in a prideful way... I have so much more to learn and things to change. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learnt. Heavenly Father is so aware of me and I just love Him with all my heart. I've had some wonderful spiritual experiences this week. I really feel that one of the reasons we go through hard times is simply so that we turn to the Lord. And I have been turning to him a lot lately! What a difference it makes! As I poured out my heart to him I just felt that he was right there listening... hurting with me when I was hurting, and there  to wipe my tears. And the peace and comfort I felt was like nothing else. There is a God. I know it because He has spoken to me. I just want everyone to find this out for themselves. You are not alone.
I know that blessings come after the trial of our faith (Ether 12:6). Each of us go through hard things but I just encourage you all to turn to the Lord and carry on! He will help you.

Love always, Sister Riley xoxo


Bro. and Sis. Morris
Sis. Madsen and me at the town with the longest name
A little Welsh village
Sister Madsen and me at Snowdonia


Monday, August 18, 2014

It's the little things that matter most (18/8 email)

My arms and back are aching! This week we trimmed hedges for a lady in the ward, and it sounds like nothing but it was hard yakka!

We've been visiting with the members and committing them to prayerfully set a date by when they will have someone for us to teach. The spirit has been very strong as we've testified and promised blessings to them if they will just do it! I'm excited! It's a great ward. The next few weeks we will be following up with them... following up is so important! nothing happens unless we follow up!

We had a miracle this week. A few weeks ago I think I wrote about a lady we met at the bus station who was having a bad day and we were just meant to meet her... she gave us her number and seemed keen but she never answered her phone... we were super sad cos she was so great, but then this week we bumped into her again! The timing of it was just too good! It was meant to happen, and even she thought it was more than a coincidence. We had a lesson with her right there at the bus station and prayed with her and I just hope and pray we can meet with her soon!

We finally got to see Cheryl again this week. She had been in hospital for a bit with her mental health problems, but she's out now and still wants to be baptised. We will need to take things slow with her. It's great that she has a strong desire to follow Christ, but she needs to understand the doctrine. We had a lovely lesson with her and during the week I had found an article in an old Ensign written by someone with bipolar disorder which I shared with her. It was all about how the atonement helps us through trials. I love what the author said about mental illness not being a punishment from God, but a trial that some of us go through... Christ can and will help us through all trials if we turn to him.

We taught Linda twice this week! the first one wasn't the best as she'd just finished a long day of work and was super tired, but last night we had a great lesson with her. She was very open and honest as we asked lots of questions to see if we could understand where she's at and why she's not keeping commitments. I feel a lot better about her after that lesson, I understand where she's coming from and I know that as she acts on her faith that she will gain a testimony and God will help her to progress. Linda will be baptised, I know it. I want it to be while I'm here in Rhyl, but it's not about me... she will be baptised when she is ready.

On Friday we got a call from Elder and Sister Owens saying that they were coming to Rhyl to drop off a package for me... I was excited but it was only garments from mum haha...  buuuut! Elder Owens got out his guitar and gave it to me! They will be going home soon and wanted me to have it! Oh it was the sweetest thing ever! Sister Owens got emotional as she told me how much they love me! They are just the cutest! So now I have a guitar! Wooooooo! It's the best! I am slowly getting my calluses back so it won't hurt to play anymore haha!

Here's a good scripture I read this morning! D&C 64:33
"Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."

I really like that. It's reasurring. Sometimes we get sick of doing the same things day in, day out, but we must remember that every good thing we do, even if it's little, is the start of something big and wonderful. I know that is true, sometimes we have no idea what a big difference our small actions can make. God sees every action we make and we will be blessed for doing the right thing.

Hope you all have a great week!
xoxo Sister Riley

Monday, August 11, 2014

I love this Gospel (11/8 email)

Hi everyone!

Have you read this month's Ensign yet? if not I invite you to start! I just love the Ensign! I guess cos it's one of the only things we're allowed to read, but I'm grateful for the restrictions because it has helped me to have a greater love for the scriptures and the words of the prophets. I just wanted to share with you something I read this morning from the article 'Becoming children of light'.

Thomas S. Monson has taught that in order to be strong “in a world which has moved so far from that which is spiritual,” we must develop strong testimonies. He has promised that “absolutely nothing in this world… will provide more comfort and happiness than a testimony of the truth.” And he has pleaded with us to consider the “countless individuals who have little or no testimony right now, those who could and would receive such a testimony if we would be willing to make the effort to share ours and to help them change.”
I just want to add my testimony to those words! It is so important for us to develop and strengthen our testimonies! These are the last days and things will continue to get worse in the world. Trials and difficulties will continue to come at us, but if we have strong testimonies we will be OK (Helaman 5:12). Once we have gained a testimony for ourselves we need to constantly nourish it so that it doesn't become weak. It's what we hear over and over in church but there's a reason why it always gets repeated. As missionaries we visit with a lot of people who for whatever reason have stopped coming to church. I would say about 8/10 of these people still have testimonies; they still believe. We get a lot of 'excuses'. I don't mean to offend anyone here but there are a lot of excuses for not coming to church and of course there are always exceptions... but in my opinion in most cases the reason why they stop coming is because they stop doing those things that nourish their testimony; Prayer and scripture study... probably the most common things talked about at church besides Jesus. And the reason why we always talk about it is because THEY ARE SO IMPORTANT! If we study our scriptures and pray sincerely every day we are showing God our commitment to him. We are acting on our faith and we are promised so much in return if we will just do our part. God loves us so much and wants to give us all that He has, but there are conditions. He can't just give everything to everyone it wouldn't be fair. If we can show God that we are willing to do these 2 seemingly simple (yet for some reason it's difficult!) things every day, that puts is in the best position to receive guidance and blessings from God. If you don't believe me, try it for yourself. I know it's true because I've seen it in my own life. God won't all of a sudden make everything easy for us, but he will help us.
We did a lot of tracting this week. Tracting isn't my favourite thing but sometimes you don't have many other options. And we did meet some nice people that said we can come back. Sister Madsen and I provided some training at Zone Meeting. They asked us to do it on family history. We were a bit overwhelmed because we didn't really have much knowledge or experience on the subject, but it was a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. This happens a lot in the church. We are given assignments and callings and we feel that we are not the best ones for the job... and we're probably not! But it's a blessing from God, an opportunity to stretch ourselves and we end up being the one who gains the most from it!

We visited with Sister Calcott this week, a member in the ward, and she was feeling overwhelmed about a teaching assignment she had been given. Funnily enough it was also on family history! Coincidence? I think Heavenly Father had a hand in it and we will be meeting with her again and helping her with the assignment.

This week was full of member visits and service and I just LOVE helping others. I had a moment this week when I felt discouraged because we are not getting the best "numbers" at the moment. But then I looked back at the week and thought about all the people we have helped and my heart was filled with love. Serving other people really does fill you with love. I thought about the Saviour and what he did when he was on the earth... he was always helping others. So that made me feel better. There is always more we can do, but the best place to start is to serve and show love to those around us.
I hope you all are doing well and hope to hear from you soon.
xoxo Sister Riley