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)


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! [ ] 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!