Monday, June 30, 2014

Joy in His service (30/6 email)

I never know where to start!

President and Sister Preston finished their mission this week... We had a special farewell meeting, where we all wore red (because President is a Manchester United fan) and we all cried our eyeballs out... me especially! I have this problem where whenever I start crying I just think about all the things that make me sad and I'm just a mess! I can't put into words how much the Prestons mean to me. They will always have a special place in my heart. President is just a joy to be around! He always makes me feel so happy! No matter how hard your day has been, just speaking to him will make you feel better. He is so positive and optimistic, and I just love how he taught me to not just 'endure to the end' but ENJOY to the end! It's comforting to know that he lives in the mission boundaries though, and after their holiday they will be in the Ashton 2nd ward (fingers crossed that I get to serve there!).

So we taught Cheryl this week, and set a baptismal date with her... exciting news right, but unfortunately we will have to drop the date... It's a bit complicated, but we've prayed about it, and due to her mental health, we feel that it's not the right time... but in the future I'm sure she will be baptised.

Sister Madsen and I like to end the day walking down the beach, looking for lost and lonely souls to share the joy of the gospel with haha! This week we definitely found some! We met a man named James... probably in his 50s and he opened up to us about how he had just lost his wife to cancer, and how he does NOT believe in God. My heart was just breaking as he told us his story. He wanted me to prove to him that there was a God. He was so bitter and wanted to argue. I didn't know what to say, but as I opened my mouth to testify of God, I just burst out crying! I bore my testimony to him that there IS a God. I said that I didn't have all the answers to his questions, but I told him the things that I do know. Life is hard. There are so many things about life that don't make sense and that make us hurt, but God does love us. He has a perfect plan for us to be happy. It doesn't mean that we will be happy all the time, and that bad things won't happen to us, but if we trust in him and follow him, he will take us by the hand, wipe away our tears and show us the wonderful plan he has for us. I don't know if our answers and testimonies made a difference, he didn't accept any of our invitations, but I hope and pray that he will remember how he felt as we told him the truth. Each of us have the light of Christ within us that helps us to know the truth when we hear it. That is a blessing from God, He has not left us alone!

On Saturday we went out with Barry and Linda to teach our investigator Andrew. We finally got to teach him inside his home and teach the restoration! It was great, Barry is the man! Andrew is very smart, and kept going off topic, but he is very open to the ideas that we presented to him. He said he would read the Book of Mormon and pray, and I really hope that we can teach him again soon!

This Saturday the Rhyl ward is having a pageant about the church history in the area. We will be a part of it, and it's gonna be great! It will be a wonderful missionary opportunity, with all the members inviting their non-member friends. The mayor of Rhyl will be there too, and it's very exciting! I just LOVE the Rhyl ward! so many wonderful people! The church is true!

Sister Madsen is doing really well, and I am so proud of the missionary she is becoming! She is full of faith and obedience and is such an example to me.

I hope that you all have a wonderful week. Here is a quote from the Ensign that I thought was super powerful! "Our eternal happiness will be in proportion to the way that we devote ourselves to helping others." - George Albert Smith

It is so true! The only way we can be truly happy is to serve others.

xoxo Sister Riley

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's a girl! (24/6 email)

Crazy week!
All the days just blur into one!

We just came back from a day out with Elder and Sister Donaldson, it was so lovely! they took us to this beautiful lake and we had a picnic and saw a castle and oh it was just perfect!

Let me tell you about my wonderful companion Sister Madsen! She is from Kaysville Utah and she is a sweetheart! As soon as I saw her I knew she was the one I was gonna train! and I just couldn't stop smiling! I didn't understand what people were talking about when they said that it's kinda like having a child but it kinda is as weird as that sounds! I just love and care about her so much, and want to help her to be the best missionary. And so far its been going well. She is very easy to get along with, and has just jumped straight into everything which makes my job easy! We are both keen as beans to get out and find, teach and baptise!

We have just been going hard everyday talking to everyone! Trying so hard to find people to teach! It's tough! But we have faith, and just like it says in the scriptures, faith precedes the miracle!

... And here's a miracle! We received a referral from a member, and we were able to teach her twice and she came to church and wants to be baptised! boom!

It's been a great week, I am just super excited for this transfer :) I had a wonderful experience in Sacrament meeting this week. Heavenly Father just taught me so many things... I'll share one with you. Sometimes it can be overwhelming when we think of all the things we need to do as people who have made covenants with God... But I received a peaceful reassurance that each week as we partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants, We are just promising the Lord that we will remember Him and Follow Him this week. Just one week at a time... then we will come back the next week and do it again. For me it was overwhelming to promise that I will ALWAYS remember Him, but when I think of it as one week at a time I feel much more capable. God never gives a commandment without a way to accomplish it.

There is so much I could say but my mind has gone blank! I am so grateful to be here. Heavenly Father is blessing me in so many different ways. I love Him so much.

I hope you all have a great week, and try your best to remember Christ in all that you do this week.

xoxo Sister Riley.

Family tree (Sister Martin, Sister Madsen and me)
Re-united with Sister Tolman :)
Beautiful lake
Sister Madsen and I on our day out with Elder and Sister Donaldson (castle in background)
Elder and Sister Donaldson

Monday, June 16, 2014

Transfers! (16/6 email)

So transfers are this week... any guesses what's happening?? I was so anxious to find out!

President called me on Friday night and asked me to be a TRAINER!!! ahhhhhhhh!!! So many emotions! So I will travel to the mission home on Tuesday night, be taught how to train by President and Sister Preston, then the next day I will meet the brand new missionary! It seriously feels like yesterday that I was the new one! I can't explain how I am feeling, but it's mostly excitement :) I know nothing about her, it is a mystery until wednesday! :D

So last week I was complaining about how rainy it was even though it's summer, and this week it made up for it with 3 glorious days of sun! I got sunburnt! Haha! I don't think I've ever been so happy to get sunburnt!

I went on exchange with Sister Taylor in Newcastle, and we had a great time together. She is also from Canada, and hilarious! I know that exchanges are inspired, and we get paired with the person that we need at that time. I learnt a lot of important things from her.

President sent us some talks to read this week. They are brilliant! "Trust in the Lord" by Richard G. Scott and "Patience" by Neal A. Maxwell for those who wanna check them out :) So many good quotes, but I only have time to share one: "Too much anxious opening of the oven door and the cake falls instead of rising! So it is with us. If we are always selfishly taking our temperature to see if we are happy, we won't be!" So true! I am definitely learning patience on my mission!

Yesterday was amazing. After church we went to see Teresa, the lady who hasn't been to church in over 15 yrs. We had SUCH a spiritual lesson with her. We talked about Christ and the atonement, and what it means for her... how she doesn't have to carry around the burdens that she has for years. We were all in tears, and the feeling in that room was indescribable. Jesus Christ is REAL. He isn't just a made up character... He is our brother, and our Saviour. What that means is that He can literally save us! Not only from death but from sin and unhappiness. When we come to realise this truth and come unto him through prayer, he will CHANGE OUR LIVES! And when Christ becomes a part of our lives, EVERYTHING is better! I know this is true more than almost anything. I can't deny it because I have felt it so strongly in my life. Teresa asked us for another Book of Mormon and promised to read and pray. She is still working up the courage to come to church, but these things take time. She has a goal to go to the temple, and I know she means it because of the look in her eyes when she said it. I know she will get there. 

I was reading in the Bible this morning, and I read a verse that I feel I can relate to. It is in 2 Cor 6:10. It says "... poor, yet making many rich." This is how I feel. When I come home from my mission I will have no money. All my money went towards my mission. But I feel very rich because I am helping others to be rich. No I'm not talking about money anymore... there are so much more important things in life than money. I have seen people go from the depths of despair and step into the warmth and light of the Gospel. There is no greater joy. 

I love the feelings I get as I write these things down. My heart is beating so fast and I am just filled with gratitude. What did I do to deserve such happiness? This transfer has been HARD but how I feel right now makes it all worth it. To those who might be reading this who are considering serving a mission... even those that aren't... pray about it! I promise you it will be the best thing you ever do! I never wanted to serve! But through prayer Heavenly Father revealed his plan for me and part of that was to serve a mission. It took a long time for me to agree and align my will with his, but I can't explain how grateful I am that I listened and obeyed. Ask Heavenly Father what his plan for you is and He will tell you! Then the hardest part is to do what he tells you! That's when your life will change and it will be better than you ever imagined!

Love you all so much!
Life is good!
xoxo Sister Riley 

Here's a photo of Sister Campbell, Teresa and me

Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer? (9/6 email)

So apparently it's summer... It's been raining all week haha!

The week started off with some exciting news from a returning member that we have been working with. She told us she had found someone for us to teach! She was super excited and so were we :) She arranged for us to meet up with her friend, and we taught her and the father of one of her children. They had loads of questions, some of them were a bit strange cos of some stuff they'd read on the Internet about mormons... you know what, that is something that frustrates me... how when people have questions about mormons, they go to dodgy websites written by people who don't like us instead of going to the true source... anyways... It was really great to get a referral, it really is the best way to find people that are prepared.

Sister Campbell and I felt that we should get Priesthood blessings this week, and we were able to receive them from Elder Donaldson (a member of the 70 who is in our ward) It was amazing! As soon as he started the blessing I just cried the whole way through. I felt like the Saviour was there with me and it was such a comforting feeling. I know that the blessing was from God. The words were exactly what I needed to hear, and I am so grateful that I was able to receive that blessing. I am so grateful for the Priesthood.

Ok, now for the best part of the week! I was lucky enough to get permission to travel back to Congleton for the baptisms of Claire and Natasha! As soon as I stepped off the bus in Congleton, it felt like I was coming home. I was so happy to see my friends again :) It was such a beautiful day, one that I will never forget!

I feel so blessed to be a part of this wonderful work. I cannot describe the joy you feel when you see someone you have taught and helped along their way make covenants with God. It is so sacred. It is such a privilege. It makes all the hard things about being a missionary SO worth it!

I love the Rhyl ward. They are an amazing group of people. They are also super funny. Here is something that a member said that made me laugh my head off this week: "Every day I read the obituaries... all my friends are dying! I think... Oh no! another one bit the dust!"

I am so excited to work with the members and be united as members and missionaries! It's gonna be amazing! There will be miracles!

Last night we went to the missionary fireside. It was President and Sister Preston's last one, and it was PACKED! SO GOOD! Claire got up and shared her conversion story and I was sitting there smiling like an idiot haha I am so proud of her! She is amazing!

Well folks, that's all for this week! I hope you are all doing great! I would love to hear from you!

xoxo Sister Riley

District meeting
Claire & Natasha's baptism
Me and Esther Burgess' sister!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It's always darkest before the dawn (2/6 email)

This week has been up and down like no-ones business! Seriously! Had some of the lowest and highest moments on my mission so far... But I am coming to realise that trials are actually a blessing, and Heavenly Father has got everything all figured out, we just need to trust him.

Let's start with a massive miracle... On Wednesday, we had the address of a lady who was a member of our church but hadn't been to church in over 15 years. We'd knocked on her door a few times with no answer, but this time she answered and let us in. We started chatting, and she goes on to tell us about the dream she had the night before. She told us she dreamt that she went back to church to get a priesthood blessing. She got emotional, and said that it wasn't a coincidence that we knocked on her door. She knew that it was God telling her she needs to come back to church. She told us about how hard her life has been since she's stopped coming, and how the 2 years she did attend church were the best of he life. As we testified to her she felt the spirit, and told us how much she had missed that feeling. What a miracle! I am so excited to work with her and help her come back to church. God cares about every single one of his children.

Friday started off as the worst day ever! It was so rough. Sister Campbell and I woke up both feeling pretty down which isn't a good way to start... but I think that's one of the reasons we have study in the morning cos it always makes you feel better. So we leave the flat at 10 and the first person I say hi to is this little old lady... she smiles until she sees my badge and then verbally abuses the heck outta me! She was so nasty! I tried to speak but she wasn't having any of it. I almost burst out in tears (I know, how pathetic lol but it just wasn't a good day) so because of that lovely lady I just did not want to do missionary work that day. My desire was gone. The day continued with cancelled appointments and everything that could go wrong did. I was just praying so hard that I could learn the lesson that God wanted me to learn cos I knew there had to be one otherwise it just didn't make any sense. But then, as he always does, God gave us a miracle at the end of the day to remind us how much he loves us. We went round to teach our investigator Dawn, and talked about our purpose as missionaries. We were bold and invited her to be baptised. She replied with "Oh I'm already baptised..." and talked about how she was christened as a baby. This has always been a bit of a tricky situation for me, I never really quite know what to say... so what came out of my mouth definitely wasn't from me... I said something like "Well, that was your parents' decision for you to be baptised wasn't it? Don't you want to be able to choose to be baptised for yourself?" and she was like yeah! yeah I do! So she totally wants to be baptised again!! It was such a miracle! You couldn't wipe the smile off our faces. What a tender mercy.

I learnt a lot about the way God works this week. Life is not meant to be easy. If it was easy we would never learn and grow. If God took away our problems every single time we prayed for help, we wouldn't learnt how to do things for ourselves. God doesn't want us to suffer through this life, but He does allow us to go through hard times to teach us lessons, and to help us appreciate the good times and acknowledge him in every aspect of our lives. He is amazing.

Here's a good quote from Conference to finish.
"As you consistently focus your life on the most basic principles, you will gain an understanding of what you are to do and you will provide more fruit for the Lord and more happiness for yourself." - Richard G. Scott

Love you all so much
xoxo Sister Riley