Monday, November 30, 2015

Good Morning!

Good morning family and friends!! 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Sister Ylisaari and I had a great week. We had zone conference on Wednesday and it was a great meeting as it always is! For Thanksgiving we played some football with our zone and we visited some members who were lonely. We had a meal with the Hancock/Austin family and with Brent's family. We had many others to visit and had to decline many desserts! We got through the day with just two meals. It was a miracle. The weekend was kind of difficult for proselyting because so many were out of town or had family visiting. Yesterday we had the opportunity to speak in the 1st ward. It was Sister Ylisaari's first talk in English and she did so well! Our topic was member missionary work and in my talk I extended an invitation for everyone to invite someone to be taught by the missionaries by Christmas and many came up to us after the meeting and said they accepted the challenge! 

Yesterday the church launched the Christmas campaign so you all should check out and watch and share the video! I love being a missionary during the holidays, especially Christmas. It's such a great time to share the gospel! 

I hope you all have a great week! 

-Sister Richards

Everyone we've been visiting lately has had puppies!!! Sister Ylisaari
and I have had puppy fever. This one is our landlords and she brought
him over for us to see. Mom- I might be bringing one home, so be
prepared ;)

Us with Jeff on Thanksgiving

Our first meal-The Austin family! We sure love them.

Our second meal- the Davis'! 

I forgot to mention tonight there is a community event where a nativity will be performed and we were asked to be Angels!

Everyone commented on my cute socks lol

It's been soooo windy. We're praying that tonight it isn't too windy and we don't freeze at the nativity 


Love and miss you guys!

Monday, November 23, 2015

"It's not happy people who are grateful, it is grateful people who are happy"

I can't believe that the holidays are already here but I love this time of year! We have been so very busy this week! It's been great! We taught lots of lessons and had so many people come to church yesterday! I love when the people we teach follow through and all our hard work pays off. 

So our investigator Jenny has been very sick in ICU for almost a week and a half. We've been praying a lot for her and her family. The ward has been so supportive though and we've been so grateful for that. I am happy to report that she was doing so much better yesterday when we visited her in the hospital. Her kidneys still aren't functioning though so please keep her in your prayers! 
I forgot to tell you all that before Jenny got sick she said "Sisters, I need some more pamphlets and another Book of Mormon because I sent them to my friend back in New York" I was so excited to hear that she had started sharing the Gospel! :) Jenny and Chris told us they weren't sure if Chris' family would be too receptive but we sent the Snowflake Elders to their address to see if they needed any help moving in and the Elders told us last week that they started teaching them! YAY :) 
Yesterday I was so happy to see Chris and Amelia at church. I was surprised actually! I wasn't sure if they would come since Jenny was in the hospital but they did and they stayed all three hours. We can really see that they are gaining testimonies. I have been praying all week that this trial would strengthen and not weaken their faith.

We got one new investigator this week! We started teaching another youth- I really think it is my calling to teach kids and I love it! Ryland just turned 9 years old and we're going to teach him to prepare him for baptism! He is so cute and so funny. He really reminds me of Quin when he was that age. During our whole lesson he kept going to his room to show us his trophies and all his cool stuff.  He really impressed me because yesterday he biked to church and came all by himself. I haven't come across too many young kids to do that. I'm so glad we can teach him.

On Tuesday night we extended a 30 day Book of Mormon reading challenge to Mel and Katy and we're doing it too! Listening counts- otherwise there is no way we could do it. I hope we can all finish it! 

We're having exchanges tomorrow and I'm going to be going out of the area and maybe to Luna or Pie Town, New Mexico so that should be fun! Wednesday we're having Zone Conference and the vehicle coordinator is bringing up a truck so our car can get fixed in the valley. I'm excited to drive a truck! haha :)
We're very excited for Thanksgiving. We will be eating with members and visiting as many people as we can. It should be a very fun day! We have received so many invitations to dinner, everyone wants us at their house. We're so grateful that the members take such good care of us!

Bishop Burt in the Taylor 1st ward has been helping us out so much with missionary work. He has gotten really involved with teaching with us and we're having a lesson in his home tonight. Yesterday in Sacrament meeting he extended the calling of ward missionary to everyone in attendance! "Every member a missionary!" -David O McKay He asked Sister Ylisaari and I to speak next Sunday about member missionary work and setting a date and then praying for missionary opportunities. We have been extending a challenge at all dinner appointments for members to invite a nonmember or less active to meet with the missionaries by Christmas and I'm extended that challenge to all of you! I know that if you pray for and seek out opportunities to share the Gospel you will be given those opportunities. You need not fear or be nervous because the Lord promises that if we open our mouths they will be filled and I have such a testimony of that! This time of year is such a great time to share the Gospel. I know that we have so much to be grateful for, especially for the Gospel. 

I am so grateful for my calling as a full-time missionary. I am so thankful to be serving here in Taylor, AZ. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be God's instrument in bringing His children unto Him! 

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 
Sister Richards

We did some service at the Bishop's Storehouse! 

It's time to bundle!!! 

Another pic with the Borseth's puppies. I think I'm going to bring one home! 

A pretty sunset

Lunch at celebrations!
The lasagna soup was super good

Selfie with the cows

Was a beautiful day at the park with Jeff

That's Katy's dad. He has motors all over his yard and he was teaching us about them and helping us get them started. It was pretty cool! 

Being silly...

We heart attacked the Furbushs! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

I don't know how I'm going to handle the snow!

 There was a little blizzard today... It's been so cold! It's been a great few days since y'all heard from me last! Sister Ylisaari and I have been working really hard. Some have asked so I'll let you know that her English is very good. She studied English in school for about 10 years so no problems there! Everyone is always so shocked when she says she's from Finland. It's very rare to have foreign missionaries but we're starting to get quite a few more in our mission. 

Some highlights and thoughts from the week:

Prayers for missionary opportunities are answered!
The Craner family had us over for dinner a few weeks ago and as our message we committed them to create a family mission plan and start praying about people that they could share the gospel with and they are wonderful and faithful members who love missionary work so they did! Last week Sister Craner texted us and said they had a friend who wanted to come back to church and asked if we could come teach a lesson at their home. Wow! We were so excited! That's the best kind of situation: a member inviting us to teach someone in their home. I wish that happened more often! Sister Ylisaari and I were very inspired in our preparation for the lesson because it went so well. This young man has been inactive for almost 10 years and has started to desire change in his life. He has challenged himself to read the Book of Mormon in 30 days and he's started praying. We testified of God's love for him and that repentance is possible because of the Savior. The Savior's arms are extended to all of us to come unto Him and I know He is anxiously awaiting any who have strayed to come unto Him (3 Nephi 9:14- one of my favorites!)

We need prophets.
Many members in this area are being excommunicated because of apostasy. Many are losing their testimony of the prophets. It is so sad to see. Another foreign exchange student was at Pernille's lesson and she started to try to tell us that President Monson is a false prophet. I know that God always wants to have a prophet on the earth to lead and guide us. I know that President Monson is called of God and he will never lead us astray. How sad that people think that we no longer need prophets in our day. Now is the time when we need a prophet most! All we could do was testify to her and invite her to pray about it.

The Atonement is there for more than sin.
We have been meeting with many people that are struggling with depression lately. It makes me so sad to see. I'm grateful to be there to lift them though and testify of the Atonement. I loved Elder Oaks talk from conference "Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ" He quoted President Packer who said “He had no debt to pay. He had committed no wrong. Nevertheless, an accumulation of all of the guilt, the grief and sorrow, the pain and humiliation, all of the mental, emotional, and physical torments known to man—He experienced them all.” I know that this is true and that because of those things that he experienced for us He is there to strengthen us. Elder Oaks also quoted President Faust who said “Since the Savior has suffered anything and everything that we could ever feel or experience, He can help the weak to be come stronger.”

I love missionary work! 
Yesterday we had a great lesson in Relief Society on missionary work. I feel like President Benson who said "I have tasted the joy of missionary work. There is no work in all the world that can bring an individual greater joy and happiness." I have felt that joy and happiness! I challenge you all to do missionary work to and promise you that you will feel such great happiness! 

Make it a great week! :)
Sister Richards

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post this from November 11th

It's preparation day finally! And the news for this transfer is that I am staying in Taylor and my new companion is a new missionary from Finland. I can hardly pronounce her name. I feel so bad. It's Sister Ylisaari (ooh-lee-sahree with a rolled r sound). She is wonderful! We have a lot in common and I think we're going to have a lot of fun together. She is my first companion to really like working out hard and we worked out hard this morning. I'm excited to stay here and serve with her! My friend Brady Stimpson from high school served in her home branch! It's such a small world. 

The Furbush family is still doing great. Heather is still reading. Mel Chee is still being Mel Chee.  We have lots of work to do this transfer. I'm very excited. 

This last week I experience some very trying things. I was sick, we got rear-ended (not too bad but my neck and shoulders hurt- typical whiplash), then Sister Thumstedter and I were ETed (emergency transferred) because the sisters that live next door weren't getting along and it was a horrible way to end the transfer. It ruined all of Sister T and I's plans to say goodbye and eat with members, teach people for the last time, and get pictures, etc. It was really hard. But it's a new week and I'm ready to get to work. 

It was great to drive down to the valley and see so many friends at the transfer meeting. Pretty much all of my friends were getting transferred this time. Sister Ylisaari was expecting warm weather, a nice change from the cold in Finland but she's in Taylor and it's cold here. Poor thing. She didn't pack any warm clothes so we had to do some shopping with Sister Sweeney after the meetings. Then we finally got on the road.
I was really worried about the drive at night through the mountains. The weather on the rim wasn't expected to be good. The temps were below freezing and the road was wet. We hit some snow at some parts. The worst was our near-death experience of almost hitting a large deer. We got some food in Payson (about an hour and a half into the drive) and on our way out of town these cars were stopping in the road and I was traveling on the outside lane so I couldn't see what was going on. The speed was increasing and I was approaching 50 mph and then I saw 4 deer from the other side to my side of the road. I started slamming on my brakes as one crossed the road and then I knew there would be another one coming right after and I about closed my eyes I just knew we were going to hit it but it just stopped right before our car and we came to a stop. I cannot believe that we didn't hit that deer head on. It was such a miracle. I know that God was watching over us last night. I'm so happy that nothing happened to us. I would feel so responsible as the driver of these sisters. I feel so blessed. I'm so so so grateful. I was super tense after that and we still had another hour plus to go. I was super cautious and we finally made it to Taylor at about 8:30 last night. Boy did I express my gratitude to my Heavenly Father last night. and I sure did sleep good last night. 

I'm so grateful for you prayers on my behalf. I am grateful to do this work. I know that it's the Lord's work. I love you all and I'll write you more on Monday

-Sister Richards

My new companion all the way from Finland!

We did some service with the Elders helping an investigating family
burn trash on their property. It was interesting.... There is lots and
lots of trash

Us out in the snow today!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Change is coming

Good afternoon! Hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween. We had such a great day. We were in the temple from 3:00-8:00. Sister Thumstedter and I did all ordinances, and we had family names!!! We could just feel the Spirit so strongly the whole night. It was wonderful! I love going to the temple :) It was a good thing we went too, because we went to grab some food afterward and people didn't know whether or not we were "legit", they thought we were a costume. It was quite amusing. 

I didn't have time to organize my thoughts today so bear with me. It was a really, really good week. We still teach Jeff Miranda every week and lately we've just been sharing and discussing conference talks with him. He has loved it. We have found some talks that have really applied to him and we've helped him realize how applicable general conference is. He calls us almost every morning, it's great daily contact, and one morning he said to me "sister, I went home-teaching last night and I was bragging about you two to everyone we saw". I asked him why and he said that he loves the lessons we've been sharing with him. I'm not saying this to brag, but I'm grateful that Sister Thumstedter and I have been inspired to share with Jeff exactly what he needs. I love studying for the people we teach. 
Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing enough or if what I'm doing is making a difference and whenever I do the Lord gives me something to show that the work we're doing is blessing others. We've been trying to emphasize to Jeff that he can have such a powerful influence to others and he's had a difficult time recognizing his ability to influence others until yesterday one member that we're really close with bore her testimony in church and said that she had been having a hard time. She went to the park to walk and think and she saw Jeff Miranda and she stopped to talk to him and asked what he was doing there and he was waiting for us to come for a lesson. He shared with her how much he loves the Gospel and our lessons and it really impacted her and helped her realize the importance of the Gospel in her life from the example of Jeff, this amazing recent convert. 

The Furbushs came to church again yesterday. They haven't missed a single week! Last night we had a lesson to just gauge where they're at and how to best help them progress together. They are recognizing how much happier they are here. They never were church goers and we asked them what has changed in their lives and they said they want to learn, they desire so much to continue to learning that going to church isn't even a question. Chris shared with us that he's noticed that he is so much happier here, he has a desire to be a better person and he is changing for the better. Sister Thumstedter and I feel so blessed by the opportunity we've had to teach them and Sister T is definitely coming back for their baptism! It's set forJanuary 6th, their 15 year wedding anniversary. Their testimony is definitely growing and I'm excited to be able to stay and help them progress toward baptism! 

We had another really good lesson with Heather. She had read about 7 chapters between lessons, it was awesome! Everyone we're teaching has a hard time understanding what they read so we're working on that. 
I haven't written about Mel much lately but we're still working with him. Bishop Burt came to our last lesson and bore a powerful testimony and really challenged him. We'll see what happens! 

I love my mission so much. I am so grateful for these wonderful people that Heavenly Father has put in my life. I know that this is where I'm supposed to be! We're 99% sure I'm staying next transfer but sometimes that changes. I'll email y'all next Wednesday with my transfer news and let you know about my new companion! 

Have a great week!
~Sister Richards :)

Sister Thumstedter had to back me all the way down that driveway (missionary rule). It was pretty funny!
Us at the temple! We coordinated our Halloween colors pretty well. 
This girl we met getting food after the temple had a pretty sweet costume.

The Furbush family! :) They're pretty sad to see Sister Thumstedter go, I am too! I can't believe it's our last week together! 

Our awesome minion costumes :) We did not wear them in public...