Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding June 15, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It's been a good week! Please pray for our investigator Michael, who is preparing to be baptized on the 27th! 
Yeah, he is pretty cool. 

This week, Heavenly Father has taught me a lot about trusting in Him. I really like being in control. I like knowing what is happening next, the game plan and several backups. And I like being in charge. You would think that being the 6th of 7 children would mean that I don't have any of those first child tendencies, but alas it is one of my weaknesses. 
The mission is a blessing for many reasons, one being because often times your weaknesses are under a magnifying glass. And Heavenly Father is teaching me that I don't have control of very much, and that I should just trust Him. 

We had some "mini-missionaries" come work with us this week. We had  16 and 17 year old sisters come out and be our companions for two days. It was so fun! I think one of the best parts was how trusting they were. They were not accustomed to biking or being outside all day, or Spanish, or teaching, or talking to people on the street, but they were just so happy to be there. It makes me think about the beginning of my mission and I desired to have that simple faith again, that although I had no idea what I was doing, the Lord would take care of everything.
As the week came to a close, we were preparing for a busy Sunday, as usual. Covering two areas often presents problems on Sundays. As I kneeled down to pray on Saturday night, I told Heavenly Father we still hadn't worked all the rides out, and Joel was supposed to be confirmed, and I had no idea how it was all going to work out. I was scared and stressed, and knew that I probably should have planned better earlier in the week. I then humbly asked God, that although I didn't deserve it, all would go well tomorrow. 

I felt peace come over me, and a promise that all would be fine. And I shouldn't worry.

Well, the next morning, things were still a little stressful but everything seemed to be falling into place until the last hour of church (which is spanish Sacrament meeting). Arles was supposed to be picking up Joel so he could be confirmed. I stood in the hallway and called Arles. 

He answered and I said "Hermano, did you pick up Joel?" He seemed confused and asked "What? I'm not going to church today. It is too hot!" 

At this point it was 12:15 and Sacrament meeting was supposed to be starting. In frustration, I told him he'd promised that morning to pick Joel up and asked that he hurry over as fast as possible. I felt overwhelmed.

I took a deep breath and walked into the chapel. And as I walked in, there was Arles in his white shirt and tie and Joel sitting peacefully. 

He had totally tricked me! hahah. 

Joel was able to be confirmed and Arles received the Aaronic Priesthood.

Later on as I took the Sacrament, I thought about my prayer on Saturday night. Then a sweet and a little bit chastising voice came to my mind and heart:

"I did promise you."
I realized that my plans, are not important. The Lord knows and loves us. God has a plan. And He always keeps His promises. I pray that we can trust in Him.

-Hermana Ries

p.s. Our branch mission leader let me play his guitar at correlation:) It was a good day! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

For in His strength I can do all thing‏s June 8, 2015

Alma 26:12

Dear Family and Friends, 

It has been a week of MIRACLES. Joel was baptized yesterday! I'm going to give a little recap of his story:

Joel, formerly known as Gerald, was sitting on his porch one Friday afternoon. 

We were biking past and I had the distinct impression that we should talk with him. We had already biked past at this point, but I felt strongly that we should talk with him. So I flipped my bike around and my companion followed right behind. I walked up and said "Hi my name is Hermana Ries and I don't know why but I feel like we should talk to you." 

He was quick to tell us he did not have faith in God and that it had been a terrible day. He said that if he had both legs he would climb up the building next to his house and jump off. 

I didn't really know what to say. So we offered to say a prayer with him, and afterwards testified that God did love him and was aware of him. We asked if we could come back on Monday. He accepted and I didn't think much else of the interaction, other than that I was grateful I had listened to the Spirit. 
On Monday, we taught him about the Restoration of the Gospel. He felt the Spirit so strongly that he told us he wanted to be baptized. Ever since then Joel has been preparing for his baptismal day.
Living life with one leg has presented some serious challenges for Joel. Including being baptized. Seeing him carried into the font by two young Elders increased the faith of all those who attended the baptism. 

After his baptism, Joel shared a quick (about 2 minute) testimony. He said, "I was fighting a battle with Satan, and I won. I feel like a new man." Tears filled his eyes. 

Ramon also shared his testimony publicly for the first time this Fast Sunday and shared that he "loves coming to teach with the missionaries, because [he] knows it is God who changes the peoples' hearts." 
One week from today is transfer calls. We will see what happens! All I know is that Galveston will always have part of my heart. Because of the people and the way it has changed me. 
I love being a missionary. But what I loved more is the knowledge that I have of our Savior Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter if I am a full time missionary or not. I will always try to be His disciple. I love and serve and get up every morning and 6:15 and work hard until 10:29 because I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

I know they love us too. I know with them, all things are possible. 

-Hermana Ries

When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God June 1, 2015

Dear Family and Friends, 

It's only been a few days since I have written so I don't have a ton to say, but I just had a couple thoughts I wanted to express. 

Oftentimes on my mission, I have felt inadequate. Okay, often doesn't really fully express it. Almost everyday I feel inadequate. I think about our call as missionaries to represent Jesus Christ, and then I think about how far I am from being perfect, and how if I were just a little better, I could help more people, or see more miracles, or other thoughts along that same track. 

But this Sunday as I sat  first in the English ward and later in the Spanish branch, I felt extreme gratitude during the Sacrament. Usually I sit quietly during the Sacrament thinking of all the things I will do differently next week. And that is important, but this week instead, I thought about the people that I have had the opportunity to serve, and I felt so much JOY! 
I don't think God has a tally mark of every time we make the same mistake. But I believe that He is completely aware of every good thing that comes about because of something we did for someone else.

​As I sat in church pondering the words of the hymn we sang (As Nos We Take the Sacrament) which says:

As now we take the sacrament,
Our thoughts are turned to thee,
Thou Son of God, who lived for us,
Then died on Calvary.
We contemplate thy lasting grace,
Thy boundless charity;
To us the gift of life was giv'n
For all eternity.

As now our minds review the past,
We know we must repent;
The way to thee is righteousness--
The way thy life was spent.
Forgiveness is a gift from thee
We seek with pure intent.
With hands now pledged to do thy work,
We take the sacrament.
I realized that Heavenly Father does not want us to linger on our sins or weaknesses. He wants us to fix them, and then move on to serve others.  As we do that, we are serving Him. We forget our own insecurities and help others on their path to eternal life. 

I love this gospel and the opportunity we have to serve others everyday! I hope we can all find many opportunities this week to serve one another, and feel the pure love of Christ that comes as we serve our fellow beings and our Heavenly Father. 

-Hermana Ries

For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land‏ May 28, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry the email is coming a little late this week. Due to Holidays, Temple Trips and Storms, our preparation day has been delayed. But all is well! We had a week of miracles!!!

I want to start this email out with a little family history. My Grandma's name is Gwen. She is one of my angels.
She is amazing! She is one of the kindest and classiest ladies you'll ever meet. When my mom was little, she fell into a pool and almost drowned. Because of that, Gwen helped develop the red-cross infant swimming program. She started the tradition in our family of teaching children of all ages and abilities how to swim. 

While helping Jolette, I often prayed that my Grandmother would be with me and help me. And I often felt that she did. 

The 23rd of May was my Grandmothers birthday. And do you want to know what she was doing this year on her birthday? Helping a little girl named Jolette, be baptized.
One of the privileges of missionary work, is working so closely with angels. In Alma 13:34 it says:

For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.

Never has the veil between this world and the next been so thin as it has been during my mission. 

This week we also had the opportunity to go to the temple. I got to see my old companion Hermana Christensen
I love the temple and the angels we feel there too. Especially when we help those who are members of our own families! 

To sum things up: Galveston is amazing. I love being a missionary. Hermana Riding is awesome. And please pray for our investigator Joel (AKA Gerald)
I believe in Christ. I know that He suffered and died for us. I know that He gave His power and authority to Apostles who later gave it to Joseph Smith. Through this power, we can have the gift of the Holy Ghost. And "Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost." (2 Nephi 32:3). 

I am grateful to all the angels and all of you who help me. I hope that the rest of your week is filled with opportunities to love and serve and share the joy that is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

-Hermana Ries

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom May 18, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, this week was full of up and downs. Opposition is real. Lets start with kind of some bummer news: 

While doing family history this week in the local library, someone cut my bike lock. And took my bicycle. Fairly impressive actually. I plan on someday finding my bike and teaching that person the gospel:)
But we have seen some huge miracles this week as well. Remember the story from last week about that guy I felt like I was supposed to talk to? We taught him again Monday, Friday and Saturday and he prayed for the first time in a long time and is getting baptized on June 13th! He came to church this Sunday and loved it! 
His name is Gerald. Please pray for him! 

We also had exchanges this week and it was Hermana Ridings first time taking over the area. This is what she wrote in her planner. I just about died laughing: 
Haha I love her. She is a great missionary! I love her testimony and sweet Spirit. 

We also found out this week that we will be covering the English area as well (going zebra). Which means that we will be over our little branch and a ward and be in charge of teaching everyone who speaks English or Spanish in our area. It's a little overwhelming. 
(Our branch is the best!) 
Recently I have been thinking about the scripture that I choose as the subject of this email. In Luke 12:32 it says: 

Fear not, little flockfor it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you  the kingdom.

This is interesting to me because sometimes I feel like we're just here on earth to suffer enough trials to make us good enough to live in God's presence. But that's really not at all what He wants. We learn in 2 Nephi 2:25 that "men are that they might have joy." And as I have served a mission, I have found that although "Salvation is not a cheap experience." It is also not totally painful. God's pleasure  is to give us the kingdom. 
Heavenly Father loves us. I believe His plan is perfect. I believe He wants us to be happy. And the way to be happy is by following His commandments and making covenants (promises) with Him.  I am grateful for the gospel and the joy that it brings me. 

-Hermana Ries

Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled‏ May 11, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you all had a great Mothers day and told your madres how much you appreciate and love them! 

Thank you so much for your prayers for Jollete! She is so close! She just needs one more good water practice and then she'll be ready to be baptized! 

This has been a week full of changes. I am still in Galveston but now training Hermana Riding! She is 19, from Utah, and loves reading and singing.

At transfer meeting I got the chance to take a photo with the amazing Hermanas I have had the opportunity to train.
Hermanas Riding, Savage, Me, Christensen.

Things here are going well. My favorite men from El Salvador are happy and progressing in the gospel! Arles plans on going to the temple for the first time in the next couple weeks to "set his ancestors free." He is pretty excited about it.
This week I thought a lot about the promise made to us in​ D&C 33:10 that if we open our mouths, they will be filled. And in D&C 84:85 which says

 85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.

 Believe it or not, missionaries get scared to talk to people sometimes. I mean, imagine biking in a skirt, then stopping your bike and talk to someone you have never met before. And then imagine talking about Jesus Christ, in a language that you don't speak. 

But when we love Jesus Christ, and we realized that this call comes from Him, it becomes a lot easier. 

This week, we were biking down the street when I saw a guy sitting on the porch and the Spirit told me to talk to him. I turned around and biked back and said "Hi how are you? I felt like I was supposed to come talk to you." 

It turns out he is going through a really difficult time and had lost all faith in a loving God and had been considering taking his life. I was able to promise him that God DID love him and WAS aware of him, because through the Holy Ghost, He asked two missionaries to stop and let that man know that He loved him. I don't know what will come of that short interaction, but it brought that man hope. 
I know that as we fill our lives with the words of Christ (the scriptures) and then rely on the Spirit, God blesses us to be instruments to help His other children. 
So read and study and love the scriptures! This week pray to be an angel to someone else and share the things that have blessed your life.

This is His work and He has control over all of it. He loves and knows us and has a plan for each of us. 

-Hermana Ries

But, behold, our work is not finished‏ May 4, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Apparently my work here in Galveston is not finished because I will be here for at least 6 more weeks. 

Unfortunately, everyone else I lived with is getting transferred so I have to say goodbye to these people I love: 
(hna Christensen, me, Yunda, and Olson)

Thank you so much for your prayers for Jolette. We saw a huge miracle this week! A little background on Jolette. She is a 9 (almost 10) year old girl who belongs to a returning to activation family. We have been working with the family and teaching Jolette to get her ready for baptism. The biggest problem is that she is really scared of the water because of some developmental delays she has. This week though, she had an interview with the mission president and did great! She really wants to be baptized. So we prayed really hard and had a water/font practice this week. Last time we had practiced, she started out crying on the opposite side of the room, and by the end she took two steps into the font. 

But this time.....
She put her whole face in and everything!  I am so grateful that the Lord puts us where we need to be to bless others and for them to bless us. Jolette and her family have changed and softened my heart in ways that were not possible before my mission. Please keep her in your prayers so that she can be baptized this week! 

Other than that, Arles is doing awesome!!!! He is super happy and says he feels totally different. He got the Holy Ghost yesterday and told us he just wants to study The Book of Mormon to know more. 

Ramon also blessed the Sacrament for the first time yesterday. 
They are so crazy!
Also I got a slurpee this week for the first time in a awhile and that made me really happy.
Sorry I don't have much else to say this week, but HAPPY MOTHERS DAY! I am so grateful to all you mothers around the world. You have the hardest/best job ever. 

And a special shout out to my own mom. Without her example and testimony, I would not be here. Thank you for being open to the Gospel at 14 and changing hundreds of lives in Arizona, Florida, Virginia, Texas, El Salvador, Brazil, Mexico, etc. I love you! 

This is God's work. We are His children and He loves us. 

-Hermana Ries

Alma 14:13

He shall prepare a way for them April 27, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for all of your prayers this week on behalf of Arles. We were able to see a miracle this weekend because of it. A little background:
 We met Arles about a month and a half ago. He had been praying one day to know where to go to church to change his life of partying and drinking. Later that day, he was driving his mustang down the street and we were biking. We yelled "Hola!!!" He pulled over and we began talking. He threw away all his alcohol later that night and has been changing his life ever since. 
 (He is kind of camera shy. This is him with a mango, in which we wrote his reading assignment) 

1 Nephi 3:7 says:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father:will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the 
children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
Hermana Christensen and I had prayed and had received an answer from our Heavenly Father that Arles was supposed to be baptized this weekend. He too had prayed and received this answer. But there were so many obstacles in the way. Just one of the obstacles was that I got really sick. Because we are in a bike area, there was no option but to bike and we had a big service project that friday on the other side of the island. Long story short, we biked over 30 miles that day, and I felt awful. On top of that, Arles's phone stopped working and we couldn't get in contact with him. At one point I said this simple prayer "Heavenly Father, please let Arles answer the phone." 
​(I was super sick and had on zero makeup)

I have not said a sincere or childlike prayer like that in a long time. But after that I picked up the phone and he answered!!!!

We came to Sunday and he called us that morning and told us he was just too scared to be baptized that day, but we told him we knew it was the right thing and he did too. 

His baptism was supposed to start at 6 last night. But he was still very stubborn and scared. Everyone was there and waiting, but he told us that although he knew it was the right thing, he could feel Satan working on him and he was scared. He wanted to wait until next week.

After about an hour of praying, talking, encouraging and a Priesthood blessing. He said suddenly, "Okay! I'm getting baptized!" He put on his white jumpsuit and was incredibly happy but still nervous. Afterwards he thanked us for setting a "trap" haha because he knew it was the right thing. 
I testify that God prepares a way. If you know you need to do something, I promise you from my own experience, that He will make it possible. He loves us. We are His children. He hears our prayers. The adversary does not want us to obey or be happy, and he will make it hard, but with the help of our Heavenly Father, through the grace and mercy provided by Jesus Christ's Atonement, all things are possible. 

I love being a missionary. I love our Heavenly Father. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ.

-Hermana Ries