Monday, December 28, 2015

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ

Dear Family and Friends,

As many of you know, this will be my last email as a full time missionary! I feel really sad about that. But this week I had some really cool thoughts that I wanted to share with you that made me feel better about this little transition. 

I think much of the sadness of going home comes from fear that we won't get to do what we did as missionaries: serve alongside Jesus Christ and angels in God's work and glory. I thought at one point this week: "I'll have to take off my nametag and I'll never be Hermana Ries again." 

And then a very comforting thought came. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if we have on a nametag or if we are called Elder or Sister. Real missionary work is all in the heart.  

3 Nephi 5:13 says:

Behold, am disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 
have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that themight  have everlasting life.

The last year and a half, I have gotten to meet some of my very best friends! Some of them are missionaries, some of them are members where I have served, some of them are not members, some are converts. And the reason I love them all is because they have helped me become a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

Being a disciple does not mean that I am anywhere near perfect. It just means that I love, serve and follow Him! He is my best friend. And I am so grateful for how much better I have gotten to know Him over the last 18 months. 

I know that God lives! He loves us so He sent His son Jesus Christ. The gospel is the way to follow Him. Through Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Holy Ghost, and keeping our covenants, we can return to our Father in Heaven someday. 

I love this gospel. I love Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. And I love all of you! 

see you soon. 

-Hermana Ries

let your light so shine

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been such a sweet week of tender mercies. I am filled with gratitude! Heavenly Father is so aware of us. As many of you know, we had transfers this week. 

Anyone remember Hermana Christensen?? She and I were companions about 6 months ago and some of the best friends ever. Guess what. She is my companion again! I have been praying since we got split up that she could be my last companion and look! Heavenly Father answers prayers.

Last Sunday the church released a beautiful video about the Savior and how important it is to remember Him and especially His birth this time of year.

As we visited one of the less active members in our area, he shared an experience. He was working in the mall selling stuff at a kiosk and there was a light that kept flickering on and off.

He and his Father have different beliefs and had been talking about God all day. As the light flickered off and stayed off, he thought "the only one who can really turn that light on, is God." Just as he thought that, the light came back on.

That reminds me of the Christmas Devotional on Sunday when it talked about how Christ is the LIGHT in our lives. All good things come from Him and all our joy comes from Him as well. I love the scripture in Matthew 5:16 which says:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Our light comes from Christ. But as we live like Him, we too seem to have a light about us.

Before my mission, I used to tell people the reason I wanted to serve a mission was to help people who thought there was no hope, find it again. I wanted to bring them light. I didn't realize it at the time, but what I wanted was to help people invite Christ into their lives.

This Christmas, that's all I want to do. I want to invite Him into my life more than ever before! I hope we can all do that. And that we can help others as well come unto Christ.

I know He lives. He is my best friend. I love being a missionary.

-Hermana Ries

p.s. sorry for the lack of pictures. We had to go to the library and I forgot my camera cord so all I have are these pictures from Hermana Riding today.

happy December!

And thus they were instruments in the hands of God

Mosiah 27:36

Dear Family and Friends,

We got transfer calls this morning and.......I'm staying HERE! And Hermana Gonzalez and I are going to be a in trio again:) I am super happy. 

It has been a week of learning and growing! I started feeling a little sick on Thursday, but I thought it might be kind of a food coma since we ate so much, but the next day I felt worse, and worse, so on Saturday the mission nurse asked us to go a clinic and have me tested for flu. And I have the flu. And I was banned from leaving the apartment until I am not contagious:( It has been some of the longest days of my whole mission! But I think by this evening I should be good again. 

But anyway, I learned a lot while I was laying there being sad that I couldn't go out and teach the gospel.

1. I am so grateful to be a missionary. These have been the best months of my life so far! I love teaching people all day, everyday that the gospel has been restored! I love giving service! I love working hard. I love studying the words of Christ. I love getting 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to focus on the Savior. This is the best calling in the world.

2. This is NOT my work. It is God's work. A little story to illustrate this: On Friday night, we felt inspired to go see an hermana in our ward who is going on a mission in January. It was kind of random since we have never visited her and she is super active and she doesn't even live in our area. But we decided to go since we felt like we were supposed to. Long story short, we got totally lost, even with a GPS and spent AN HOUR looking for her house. I don't think I have ever been that lost on my mission. But we finally got to her house and had a good lesson. 

But on Sunday she sent us a text asking to meet with us, that she needed someone to talk to. She is the first one in her family to join the church and her parents are not super excited about her serving a mission. It was so cool to see how God was looking after one of His daughters. And it was SO COOL to be reminded that being a missionary doesn't just mean finding and baptizing people. It is inviting ALL to come unto Christ. 

3. The temple is the place to be. I got to go to the temple twice this week. Once for our normal quarterly trip and the other for my departing trip. I know that the temple is what brings families together forever. I love being in the temple and feeling close to my family; those here on earth and those who have passed on. 

Inline image 1

"And thus they were instrumentin the hands of God in
bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the
knowledge of their Redeemer."

I hope and pray that I can always be worthy and willing to be an instrument in God's hands. He has changed me more than I thought possible. I am so grateful to our Savior for being patient with, and still working with me. I hope we can all be instruments in His hands this week. 

-Hermana Ries

always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.

Alma 7:23

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving week! Being grateful is kind of a big deal and a really good way to be happy. Alma 7:23 says: 

And now would that ye should be humbleand be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things;being diligent in 
keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in needboth spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye dreceive.

Here are some things I am grateful for this week: 

Families: This is one of my favorite families to visit here in Sugar Land. They love each other so much! And they love us too. Families are where the gospel really takes place in it's prime. Teaching families has been one of my favorite things on the mission. 

Companions: This week Hermana Call went home. It has been such a blessing learning from each of my companions. I think that is one of the "hard" parts of the mission but also one of the best. You find out your weaknesses and you learn to love each other and work together. 

Service: Sometimes walking someone's dog is an act of service. But also sometimes you do it because you want to walk a dog haha. Service makes us happy. 

I'm grateful for the Savior. I'm grateful for His loves and infinite patience for me. I am no where near perfect. The longer I serve, the more weaknesses seem to pop up haha. But as we humble ourselves and come unto the Savior, He heals us and helps us overcome weakness. 

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving! I am grateful to all of you!

-Hermana Ries

but the Lord trieth the hearts

Proverbs 17:3   

The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.

Dear Family and Friends,

It's been a good week. And a week of learning! Heavenly Father is so loving and kind and patient and I have been learning, that what he wants for us, is to change our hearts. Everything we have is from God and the only thing we can give Him is our heart/will. That is probably why the scriptures say we should serve Him with all our HEART, might, mind and strength. President Ezra Taft Benson said:

“The Lord works from the insidout. The world works from
 thoutside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. … Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human 
behavior, but Christ can change human nature”

I love this quote, and this quote reminded me of a cute little story from this week. Remember our little buddy Luis who we have been helping come back to church? He has made lots of changes in his life! It all started with the little things like praying and reading the scriptures. But this week he surprised us by cutting his hair!!! 

Look at how happy he is! Last night we went to a devotional with him and we asked what he learned. He said "I learned that when yall leave, I need to keep growing my faith and get myself to go to church." He is considering serving a mission! 

This week I also got the special permission to see my family!!!!

Something else I am learning is the Heavenly Father knows the desires of our hearts! He let me be close enough at this point in my mission to be able to see my Aunt and Cousins.

There is a lot of good in missions. But sometimes missions are hard. Sometimes they are really hard. Before my mission I thought it would be hard because of the schedule or language or weird food. But really, the most difficult part is how the Lord tries our hearts. And I am so grateful that He does. He has changed my heart. And I love being in His service. 

I know He lives. I know He loves us. I believe this is His church. 

-Hermana Ries

labour of love

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are having a great week! It has been a week of blessings for us. Thank you for your prayers for Hermano Olivares! He came to church on Sunday! As he walked in, he stopped for a minute, smiled and said "this is what I dreamed." He explained that the night we invited him to church, he'd had a dream. The only difference was that in the dream, everyone was dressed in white:) Since that dream, it has taken a couple of weeks, but Hermano Olivares was there this Sunday and loved it:) Please continue to pray for him:) 

​(me and Hno Olivares)

I love what it says in 1 Thessalonians 1:3

Remembering without ceasing your work of faithand labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

A lot of people say missions are hard. But it can also be really easy. I think of how hard it is to be a mom. I think about all my mom sacrificed for me and it kind of scares me away from all the work. But I know that these mothers also love their children and that the work comes from a place of love. Missions are the same. It is hard sometimes. It is really good sometimes. But the best times are when it is a "labor of love." 

This week as we sat outside in the rain getting eaten by mosquitos, I felt the Saviors love for me and those who we visit. There are few things sweeter than feeling charity for those whom you serve and those whom you serve with.

(us singing hymns)

I am grateful for all those who have been patient with me, especially here in the mission. I am not a perfect missionary. I am not a perfect companion. And yet Heavenly Father lets us labor in the greatest work that exists! 

Anytime we reach out to one of God's children and serve them in love, we are helping them. I think often we don't even know the impact we have on others.

Recently one of the mothers of our investigators told us "he always used to be impatient with me. He would be upset when I would leave the house. But since you have been visiting him, he has been so kind and thoughtful. He stays up to wait for me. The other day I was going to eat late and he said he'd stay up and eat a little bit with me too." 

We never know what the results of our labor of love will be! This week my ponderizing scripture is: 

"For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed towards his name ..." Hebrews 6:10

Heavenly Father recognizing all of your efforts. And he is so grateful for every act of kindness. Thank you for all your examples. I know the Savior is with us. I hope we can all reach out in love this week to labor with love.

-Hermana Ries