Monday, January 26, 2015

G'day (26/1 email)

G'day! Happy Australia Day!

Sister Sika and I sung the National Anthem this morning and I must say that I was feeling very happy to be an Aussie haha! You don't realise how much you love something until you are away from it!
We've made plans to get together as a district today to have a BBQ and go to the beach haha! We also have some tim tams and vegemite that we will share :P

The work has been slow this week, but some good things are happening! We have been meeting with Janet who joined the church in her teens but had her name removed from church records in her 20s. She still has a testimony and the spirit is so strong when we meet with her. I can honestly say that the lessons with her are the most powerful I've had on my mission, and by the end we're all crying! I just feel so strongly that this is her time and she will join the church again.

We visited Terry and Claire again, the Christians that we met tracting last week, and they were so happy to see us again! They love talking about Jesus, but when we tried to add to their beliefs with what we know to be true through modern revelation and the Book of Mormon, they politely rejected it. It's sad because if they would just open their hearts I know they would embrace it because this IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It's not the gospel of Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon is not a book made up by him. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and anyone who reads it can find that out for themselves. So we are a bit stuck on what to do with them, but I know that Heavenly Father will help us.

On Wednesday we went to a funeral of someone from the St Helens ward that I didn't get to meet, but by the things that were said, he seemed like a great man. Funerals are always sad, but there was a wonderful feeling in the church, a feeling of peace and a reassurance that we will be re-united with the ones we have lost. As I was sitting at the funeral, I started thinking about my funeral... not the nicest of thoughts I know but it just made me think... what will people say about me when I die? This man's friends and family had only the most wonderful things to say about him and I hope that I can live my life in a way that it will be the same for me. We never know when our time on earth will end, but if we live each day as if it were our last, I believe that we will truly be happy and get the most out of life. I know with all my heart that God lives. He has a plan for us. Part of that plan was that we would come to earth, to gain knowledge and experiences, so we can learn and grow and become better. I know that when we die our spirit goes back to the God who created us, and we can be with our loved ones forever. The reason why we don't like endings and goodbyes is because we are eternal beings! 

In my study this morning I was reading in True to the Faith about Temples and I just wanted to share this with you:

"All we do in the church - our meetings and activities, our missionary efforts, the lessons we teach and the hymns we sing - should point us to the Saviour and the work we do in Holy Temples."
"Sometimes you may feel that you cannot think clearly because your mind is so burdened with problems and the many things clamouring for your attention. In the temple, the dust of these distractions can settle, the fog and haze can lift, and you can understand things that you have not understood before. You can find new ways to deal with the challenges you face."

I know that the Temple is the House of the Lord, and it should be our highest priority to go there as much as we can. I love that quote, because it is so true. The temple is the place where we will feel closest to God and we are promised that we will leave endowed with power from on high. God loves us so much. He has so many wonderful blessings prepared for us. I invite you to take a look at your life and your priorities. I know that as you put the Lord first, everything else will work out.

All my love, Sister Riley.

Sister Sika and me on Australia Day

Monday, January 19, 2015

St Helens (19/1 email)

One Sister from Adelaide, one from Sydney, living on Melbourne Street :)
It sounds like the beginning of a joke haha!

I am just so happy to be here! I've been a bit all over the place to be honest this past week, but I'm finally settling in and getting to know the members and the area. I just want to give it all I've got left! 

I have learnt so much on my mission and I just want to apply it all in my last transfer! I know that the key to success in building up a ward is to unite with the members and for the members to find us people to teach... I've known this my whole mission but never really been able to see it happen... I'm determined to make it happen here in st Helens! I want to be bold with these members! I want them to see that they can't just sit around waiting for other people to do missionary work! We could be out there all day finding during this transfer, but I've done that my whole mission and there's a better way! I'm not going to leave them alone til they give us referrals haha! 

We went tracting this week and we'd almost got through a whole street with no-one answering the door... we were a bit discouraged and doubting if it was an effective use of time... but I remembered that God always blesses extra effort and that the miracle always comes when you're about to give up, so we knocked the next door and someone let us in! That's a miracle in itself! I can probably count the number of times that's happened on one hand! It was a young couple who have a strong belief in Jesus Christ. They were so nice, and so happy to have someone to talk to that shared their belief. Although they were a bit apprehensive about the Book of Mormon, they want us to come back, and Sister Sika and I were on cloud 9 when we left their home! Speaking of clouds, as soon as we left it started snowing! It was magical! Haha.

I just want to encourage you all to find someone for the missionaries in your area to teach. If you involve Heavenly Father and ask for His help, he will guide you! Of course He will! This is His work and He will provide every way for you to do it! There just aren't any excuses for us not to join in on the work. There is always something we can do. I promise you that greater joy will come into your life as you share the Gospel with those around you. I can't put into words the happiness I have felt because of doing missionary work. That joy is not exclusive for full time missionaries... you can all have it by doing the work. 

Love you all so much, 
xoxo Sister Riley

Day out with the Pews
Katarina :D
Saying goodbye to the YSA
With the Chinese boys! Cloud, Ted and Joe
Sister Gjikaj sad to see me go

Monday, January 12, 2015

Transfers! (12/1 email)

Well! we recieved transfer news this morning, and I was very surprised! I thought for sure I would stay in the YSA for my last transfer with Sister Gjikaj... however... I will be leaving and serving with Sister Sika (from Sydney) and we will be serving in St Helens, which is just outside Liverpool! Crazy! I will be sad to leave Sister Gjikaj and the YSA but I'm actually really excited for this transfer! I'm going to make it the best one!

So this week has flown by and I'm finding it hard to remember everything that happened! It's been super cold, but the good news is all the students are back in town so we have people to talk to again :P

We had the most amazing experience. We went out finding on Oxford road as usual and literally the 2nd person we stopped was so prepared!! His name is Pedro and he is from Portugal. He actually used to go to our church in Portugal for activities but hasn't been taught the lessons. So we gave him a tour of the building and as usual we finish in the baptismal room. We sat down and taught him the restoration. Normally the people we teach are in a rush and we only get to share a quick message, but Pedro had plenty of  time so we taught him the whole lesson. His eyes just lit up and he was hanging on every word. He told us that he had been feeling lost and was searching for answers to his questions. We gave him a Book of Mormon in English and Portugese and he was very grateful. We are seeing him again tomorrow and I am so sad that I won't be here to continue teaching him!

We are spending the day with the Pews so I'm excited. I just love being a missionary. It's hard but it's the best thing ever! I've never had so many challenges, but I've never been happier.

Love you all so much.

Me and my beautiful companion Sister Gjikaj

Friday, January 9, 2015

Every day is a new year (6/1/2015 email)

It's interesting what happens when a new year rolls in...even though the 1st of January is just another day, our thoughts are turned to self-improvement... setting goals and resolutions to make this new year better than the one before. While I'm all for that and am fan of setting goals at the start of the year myself, a YSA made a good point in his testimony yesterday. He said something along the lines of... "Every day is a new year because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ." The truth is we will probably (if we haven't already) fail at the goals we have set for this new year. But that doesn't mean we should give up and wait til next year to try again. Because of Jesus Christ, we can repent, we can pick ourselves up and start again tomorrow! How amazing is that!

I have felt the enabling power of the Atonement many times on my mission and I can testify to you how very real it is. Jesus Christ is our brother. He loves us more than anyone. He knows exactly what it feels like to fail, to be rejected, to be depressed, hopeless and utterly alone. Because he descended below all things He can lift us up. He can heal our broken hearts and fill us with love, peace, hope and happiness. Because I have felt this power for myself, it is my greatest desire to help others feel it. Too many of us are suffering more than we need to. Too many of us are burdened with a heavy load, carrying it all by ourselves. Jesus Christ suffered so we don't have to. He is waiting for us to ask Him to help us carry the load. Repentance is such a wonderful gift from God. We don't have to wait for a new year to have a "fresh start". We can repent today and start over and it is only when we repent that we have access to the power of the atonement.

My cold has pretty much gone, and we finally have appointments set for this week now that everyone is coming back to Manchester so things are looking up! Oxford road was so dead this past week! but we were still out there talking to everyone and we still found some great people to teach :) 

On Saturday we went tracting just to mix things up a bit! Oh tracting! I have to admit its not my favourite but it was fun to do it again! So the first door we knock is a muslim lady who says she is not interested, we ask her if she knows anyone else who might be interested and she tells us that the man who lives next door is christian and might be interested, so we knock his door... and then he knocks back...(thats a first!) so we knock again and he shouts at us asking who we are, we tell him we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints and he opens the door. He doesn't look happy. I think we were there for about 15 minutes and we hardly got a word in. He just lectured us about how we are deceived and how Joseph Smith was not a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is not scripture and many other things that weren't very nice. One of the few things I got to say was when he told us the Book of Mormon wasn't true, I asked him if he'd read it... He told us that he didn't need to read it to know its not true. That he had read about it and heard from people who have left our church that it isn't true... this is something that really bothers me... why is it when people look into our church they don't go to the true source? If it was anything else, like research for an assignment, you would go straight to the source to find things out... you wouldn't just take what someone tells you and believe that. There's a quote that I think is so fitting: "Studying the church through the eyes of its defectors, is like interviewing Judas to understand Jesus."

The only way to know if the Book of Mormon is true is to read it for yourself and then pray and ask God if it's true. It really doesn't matter what anyone else says! If you get an answer from God, then that's the truth! I know that God answers prayers. Sometimes it takes a while to recognise the answers but if you really want to know something, He will let you know, I can promise you that!

Well, that's all for now! Hope you all have a great week and share what you know to be true with those around you! :)

xoxo Sister Riley

Sister Gjikaj and me
Holding Josh Groban
Me playing guitar