Thursday, July 31, 2014

When the going gets tough... (28/7 email)

I can't believe that this is the last week of the transfer! It has gone so quickly! I've been doing some reflecting lately, and I think the biggest lesson I've been learning this transfer is about diligence... to just keep going even when it's hard. I was blessed to have a phone call from my dear friend Sister Tolman last night where we were able to say our goodbyes and remember the good times and give each other much needed support and advice. I am so grateful for her. I expressed to her how I was feeling about training... how I want so badly to be the best missionary I can be, to be a strong example for my companion but how I felt like I've been letting her down because we haven't seen much tangible success. Sister Tolman reminded me that all that the Lord requires is for us to try our best. As long as we get up each day and try he will bless us and help us. The only failure is if you stop trying. Her words helped me to feel better. I haven't and will not stop trying. Of course there is lots of room for improvement..there is always more we can do, but I am reassured that as long as I am trying my best each day that Heavenly Father is pleased with me.

I hope that my experiences can help those of you who are reading this. We are all going through things that are hard. My advice to you is to just keep going! Don't give up! And don't forget to involve the Lord in ALL that you do. He loves you so much and is anxiously waiting for you to turn to him and let him help you.

I guess this email is a bit different than the ones I normally write with all the things we got up to during the week, but I just wanted to let you know how I'm feeling and what's in my heart. I don't usually write about the struggles that I have because I want my emails to be positive and uplifting. But I feel like its important to talk about struggles too. Not in a depressing "wo is me" kind of way but to address the fact that we all have trials, and I feel that one of the reasons why we go through trials is so we can help others. So I hope that something that I say will help you with whatever you are going through.

I want to share with you my favourite quote by Elder Richard G. Scott. It has helped me so much.
"Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain."

I first read this quote when I was going through a really hard time, and I feel that it was God's way of helping me to see the reason why I was going through that trial. It wasn't a punishment, it was an opportunity to turn to God and to grow and become more like him.
I know that Heavenly Father is so aware of us. In my studies this week I read 2 Nephi chapter 4. What a beautiful chapter. It meant so much to me to read the struggles that Nephi had. I always think of Nephi as such a strong, obedient and faithful man, and it wasn't until I really read and pondered about this chapter that I was able to see that he was no different from us. He had struggles and feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy too. It gave me such comfort and hope. I just love these words found in verse 28:
"Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul."

Trials are a necessary part of life. God gives them to us to help us learn and grow, but He doesn't want us to mope around and have a pity party because of them! We need to 'wake up' and actively do something about it. We need to fill our lives with positive and constructive things. When we allow ourselves to be miserable and dwell on our misfortunes we are basically opening a door in our heart and Satan can just walk right in and do whatever he wants. It was made so clear to me this week how I let this happen in my life. Satan can have such a big influence on us but ONLY when we let him in. and when he's in, boy does he have a party! One of his favourite things to do is make us feel like we aren't good enough... If you feel like that right now, STOP! You are a child of God! Which means you have the potential to become like Him! Try to picture yourself the way that He sees you. He loves you so much that He sent His son to die for you that you might be able to return to live with him again. Don't let Satan in your heart! Remember how much God loves you and turn to him so he can help you.

I am so grateful for the important lessons I am learning on my mission. It's not all sunshine and rainbows, but like President Uchtdorf said in conference "How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?"

Let's be grateful for the trials that God gives us and let's turn to him to help us see what he wants us to learn from them. I know that as we involve God in every step of our lives he will help us reach our potential and we can experience true and lasting happiness. Not just when things are going good, but also during our trials. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

All my love xoxo Sister Riley

Monday, July 21, 2014

There is always a lesson to be learned (21/7 email)

This week went by so quick!

After our district meeting on Tuesday, we went on exchange with the Sister Training Leaders. I was with Sister Manning here in Rhyl. She is a powerhouse missionary! She taught me a lot. I think the most important thing that I gained from the exchange was a boost in my confidence, and to see that I can be a powerful missionary when I try my best. We went out finding, and taught 3 lessons on the spot and found a new investigator.

Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was, because lately when we've been out finding we find it hard to teach lessons and find more people to teach. So I was thinking well why is that? Why was it easy on exchange? And it has a lot to do with attitude and faith. I'll be the first to admit that when we go out finding I don't always have the best attitude, I think about past experiences and rejections and let that influence the way I go about missionary work... I think things like "No-one's gonna listen anyway.."  But it was different this time because we went out with a smile on our faces and expecting to find people and we did! It's something that I need to continually work at... for some people it comes naturally, but I think this is an important lesson that I need to learn... Our attitude is a choice! We can choose to have a positive attitude no matter what happens! Our circumstances and surroundings can influence the way we feel, but ultimately it is us who choose the way we feel and act. So I will be trying harder to choose to be positive and to have the faith everytime I go finding, that God has prepared someone who will listen.

We had a meeting with all the sisters in the mission this week at the new YSA building in Manchester. It was so nice to get together with everyone! especially to be able to see Sister Tolman before she goes home :'( I got to see all of my companions actually, it was great!

President and Sister Ulrich wanted us to know how much they love and care for us, and Sister Ulrich who is super fit and healthy stressed to us the importance of being fit and healthy as missionaries. So we had a healthy lunch together and then a work out session haha! Oh my goodness I thought I was gonna die the next day, I was so sore!

We visited with Teresa and Sabrina this week (the less-actives we are working with) and they both committed to come to church... sadly for whatever reasons they both didn't come... It's so disappointing when that happens! Satan works so hard on people to stop them from doing the right thing... I really hope that we can get them back to church, it will help them so much!

last night we finally got to teach Linda! Oh I am so excited about her! We had such a great lesson about receiving answers to prayer, and she committed to pray every night and apply the things we talked about. I am slowly getting better at communicating with God and getting answers to my prayers, so I was able to share with her all the things that I have learnt, and I really feel that we are building a good relationship with her, she feels comfortable around us and is very honest and open which is so great. I think that she is so close! It was amazing, when we were teaching, words were just coming out my mouth that I hadn't planned, and I was testifying of the truth of what I was saying... cos even though I hadn't planned it, I knew what I was saying was true! It was such a strange experience... it was like the words that I was saying were new to me and I was learning at the same time! I know that if Linda does the things we talked about that she will get her answer!

I just wanted to finish with a scripture I came across in my study 2 Cor 4:5
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost."

As I read this it made me think about the badges that we wear as missionaries. A lot of people have asked me why we wear them, and talked about how maybe we would be more successful if we didn't wear them... I've thought about it, and I think a big reason why we wear them is pointed out in this scripture. Because of our badges, we can be clearly identified as representatives of Jesus Christ. There are people who are lost who are searching for the truth, and our badges make it easier for them to see that we are someone they can turn to for help. In 'Preach My Gospel' it says "you will be led to them or they will be lead to you." And I have had many experiences where people have come up to us, and it's because of the badge. I am so grateful to be able and worthy to wear the name of Jesus Christ. It is such a huge blessing and responsibility! To wear the name of Christ is to be like him! And even though you might not wear the badge, when you were baptised, you wrote Christ's name on your heart and promised to be like Him. So keep that in mind as you go about your day. Remember what you promised you would do, and remember that God always keeps his promises if we keep ours.

Love you all so much!
xoxo Sister Riley

Me and my beautiful companion - Sister Madsen
Sister Nemec!
Sister Tolman - One last time :'(

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New stuff (14/7 email)


So this week we went to Manchester to have a "meet the new president and his wife" conference. They are President and Sister Ulrich from Sandy, Utah. I'll admit I wasn't super excited to meet them because of how much I love President and Sister Preston, and I felt like no one could replace them. But as President Ulrich spoke to us, he talked about President Preston, and how wonderful he is and how much he means to us... that he doesn't intend to 'replace' him but that now is a new chapter and that now is the time for us to serve together. The Ulrich's are great. A little cheesy, but just really friendly, happy people that are nice to be around. They are full of excitement and enthusiasm, and I felt super motivated after the conference. President kept saying that "things are about to explode" in this mission, and I believe it!

Also, they had big news, in Sep/Oct we will be getting Ipads! which will enhance the work in so many ways. So that's exciting!

President Ulrich is very educated in his gospel knowledge, and wants us to be the same. he challenged us all to memorise the 13 Articles of Faith; luckily for me, I still have them memorised from when I was in Primary! So yeah, he is great and He wants us to really study hard and know the doctrine!

This week I had a spiritual experience different to any I've had before. I woke up in the middle of the night, and I felt like God was speaking to me... not as a voice, but in my mind. It was very clear, even though I was half asleep haha! Heavenly Father said to me that I am here in Rhyl at this time for Linda. Linda is the non-member wife of Barry Donaldson, and she has been taught by missionaries for years and years; she comes to church and is basically a Mormon, but not baptised. So after that experience, we have been fasting and praying, and focusing on her. She is so close! She said that as soon as she gets her own spiritual confirmation that its all true, she will be baptised!

On Saturday we went out to Bodelwyddan (dd makes a th noise) to visit a member, shared a spiritual thought, then went with her to teach her neighbour! It was so great! This is what missionary work should be like! As we unite with the members, and build up their testimonies, then they want to share it with those around them!

Then in the evening, the Muslim man we met last week came to the church so we could give him a chapel tour. It was so good! He had so many questions, and the spirit was really strong as we bore our testimonies in the chapel.

I just love this work. We have a recently returned missionary in the ward who has been called as assistant ward mission leader, and he has lots of great ideas for us to hasten the work, with a big focus on working with the members. This week we will be focusing on the members, building them up and then going out with them to share it with their friends! Its exciting!

Hope you all have a great week! feast on the words of Christ!
xoxo Sister Riley

Castle in Denbigh
Sisters at the castle
Posing at the castle

Monday, July 7, 2014

Miracles! (7/7 email)

We've had a week of miracles! God always blesses us with miracles when we are working hard!

Sister Madsen and I were out street contacting one night and I was feeling super discouraged. I was just sick and tired of being ignored and of no-one wanting to listen. So I knew that we needed to pray. We went around a corner, and prayed for guidance that we could find someone to teach. After the prayer I asked Sister Madsen what came into her mind straight after the prayer and she said that she felt we should go visit our neighbour that we met a few days ago, and I was feeling the exact same thing. So we went there and knocked on their door and he answered. He is an Indian man, very friendly and he invited us in and we met his family. They are Roman Catholic, originally from India but have lived here about 10 years. They are very strong in their faith, but at the same time, they are so friendly and willing to talk about our beliefs too. He told us he'd met missionaries before and had a Book of Mormon. It was such a big miracle! he said we can come back anytime!

Here's another one. On the train home from district meeting, I sat by a girl about my age. I always get so scared to talk to people at first, but as soon as I do, it's fine. We started chatting, and she told me how she had grown up Catholic, but when she travelled to America she visted other Christian churches and felt closer to God in those churches. But she felt that she hadn't yet found the 'right' one for her! Well needless to say, I was very excited to hear this, and she asked me a lot of questions about our church, about my mission and what I believe in. She happily took a card from me and as we went our separate ways and she said to me... 'don't feel like you're not making a difference, you've made a difference in my life!' Oh it was just the best! I know that we were meant to meet!

One last miracle. Last night as we were going around town visiting less-active members, we met this man and started to talk to him. He had just moved here from London, (originally from Iran) after getting his degree to be a doctor and will be working at the hospital here. He is Muslim, and we talked for a long time about our beliefs and standards which are very similar. He was amazed to find young people with the same standards, and was very excited to meet with us again.

I am so grateful for the miracles that we are seeing. This is the Lord's work! The only reason we don't see miracles is because we lack faith! I am so grateful to be serving with Sister Madsen! she has so much faith, and she is such a blessing to me.

On Saturday evening the Rhyl ward put on a pageant about the church history in the area. It is an amazing story if you get the chance to look it up. Sister Chris Donaldson put in a lot of hard work to organise it all and it was a huge success! The Mayor of Rhyl came as well as lots of non-members! We have two referrals because of it, and hopefully more on the way. The spirit was so strong and I know that all present could feel it. This is an amazing ward and I am so excited to work closely with them and see baptisms!

The time is now for members and missionaries to unite! We can't do this work by ourselves! Pray to Heavenly Father and ask him who YOU can share the joy of the gospel with. He WILL let you know because it is what he wants. It is not good enough for us to keep all the blessings to ourselves, we need to share them with others! My heart hurts when I think about all the people in this world who have no hope, who are wandering around in the dark, lost and lonely. The gospel is the only source of lasting light, hope and joy. YOU can make a difference! all you need to do is open your mouth and let people know what they're missing.

I know that God lives. There is not a single doubt in my mind. Yes, there are lots of questions left unanswered, but if we pray to him, He will let us know He is there and he will help us with the things we struggle with. I know that cos It has happened to me.

I hope you all are well, I love you all so much
xoxo Sister Riley

Exchange with Sister Jones
A member in the ward gave us flowers
I was having a hard day, and it was such a tender mercy
Sister Madsen enjoyed the 4th of July