First off, forgive me for not calling in Detroit, there just wasn't time. Second, I never got my charcoal slacks in the MTC and still haven't gotten them as of today. And if you haven't sent chess, don't send it, apparently it's not allowed in the mission field anymore. Now after I'm finished emailing today since we only get an hour and a half, I'll write home on paper too so I can make sure I answer all of your questions. I'd like to start off by answering all the questions I didn't answer from the dear elder letters I got each day at the MTC, I miss those now that I am in the field. But for Emily, New York is great. It's much colder here though. The humidity makes it worse. The average temperature the last couple of days has been around 30 or 35 degrees. Elder Burns is also going to the New York Utica Mission, and I couldn't smell the tree because it was fenced off to "grow". Now Sarah, there are a lot of spiritual things I do. I have given a blessing of healing, and have participated in a few other blessings as well, although I wasn't the one speaking. I also had a wonderful spiritual experience on Sunday November 24th. In sacrament meeting in the MTC, they call on two missionaries to speak. Now the subject was the book of mormon, and I just quickly wrote down how I gained a testimony of the book of mormon and Joseph Smith when dad and I visited the Sacred Grove on our hockey trip a few years ago. As the 1st counselor in the branch presidency, (he was conducting), got up, I immediately knew that I was going to talk. Sure enough, as soon as he got to the microphone, he said "We will first hear from Elder Richins." What was interesting is that I knew it was the spirit and not me just being anxious because my companion Elder Burns who also talked said he had the same impression, and usually an elder and a sister talks. But we both did. It's amazing how the spirit works and will tell you such things if you listen to it. Now I'll move on to New York. Mom if you can give me one more week for the Christmas thought, I'll put it in my email next week. I was so tired and slept through both of our flights. I only got a half hour of sleep the night before. We arrived just fine and President and sister Wirthlin were waiting for us. They are both so great and awesome. They took us out for good old pizza and wings. We spent a night at the the mission home in Utica, then I had an interview. After the interview, I met my trainer, Elder Johnson. He's great. He's enthuisastic for the work and we are very open with each other. I pray I don't get fat, I got sent to the Scotia area, the most generous area in the mission when it comes to people feeding the elders dinner. If no dinner appointments for this month get cancelled, I'll have to cook dinner for myself 7 times, in the whole month of December. So i'm eating very little at lunch and breakfast, cause I don't want to gain more than the 10 pounds I already gained in the MTC. We cover parts of Scotia, Schenectady, and Glenville. Missionary work is great. Just last saturday (two days ago), I got to witness the miracle of conversion. We went to teach one of the less-actives we teach (less-actives are a big focus in our mission) and it was amazing. As me and Elder Johnson went in, Melanie proudly announced to us that she had given up smoking and was going to try her hardest to start coming to church every Sunday. She then showed her amazing faith in the power of the atonement and the priesthood by asking us for a blessing of comfort and guidance to help her give up coffee and figure out her finances so she can start paying her tithing. And then she bore her testimony yesterday. What a wonderful blessing it is, to see people embrace the healing power of the atonement and become happier as they make those changes to live the gospel. I miss you all, and love each one of you. But always remember that the Lord is blessing us as I serve a mission and you all continue to live the gospel. Take care, don't cry too much, and I'll hand write you later today.
Elder Tyler Richins