Monday, May 18, 2015

Syracuse Zoo

How many elders can fit on one tiger?

syracuse zoo

Hey everyone,

So this week went pretty well. There are the ups and downs of course. One good thing about this week though is all the miracles we were able to see. Elder Ward and I were able to teach a lot this week. Josh is still doing well. He had some concerts this week out of the state, so we didn't see him as often as we do usually in a regular week, but we did get to see him yesterday (he came to stake conference) and we met with him last night to teach him as well! So that was good! He's doing really well. He's sweet! We also taught Lisa again this week. She's really cool. I can't remember if I told you about her already or not, but she met with the missionaries before, and was doing well and just dropped off the face of the earth for a little bit, and we got back in contact with her and are teaching her again. She has a baptismal date set for July 18th I believe, and those are our 2 investigators with a baptismal date. Both of them are so sweet. We also got to meet with a lot of sweet less-active and part member families this week. We got to meet with Evee and Marty. Marty is the one who has met a ton of nhl players. They had us over for lunch and we read the book of mormon with them. They are so cool. We talked a lot about fishing and hockey during lunch. Haha. They are sweet. We also had a cool experience with Amanda and her family. We went over and visited with them, and Amanda admitted she was baptized basically because that's what her friend did. She sat in on the lessons with her friend in Pulaski and got baptized with her. So when we asked, she admitted that she didn't have a testimony of the restoration, but she does believe in God. We asked her if she would like a testimony of the gospel, and she said yes! We promised her that our goal was to help her gain a testimony by having spiritual experiences with her. Her Husband isn't a member and didn't seem to interested when we came over. He didn't mind us being there, but he said he isn't very religious. Hopefully as she learns and progresses his heart will be softened as well. We also had an interesting lesson with another less-active who is returning named sister green. She started coming back to church as soon as I got here. She said she didn't understand and have a testimony the JST or why the bible wasn't fine just the way it was originally. So we reviewed the apostasy with her and read 1 Nephi 13 and talked about the plain and precious truths being taken out and how it was needed. She said it made sense, but she seemed pissed when we were done. But we answered her question and that's what is important. We also taught sister hufnagle a few times. She is another less-active who is ready to come back to church. She just needs a ride. But she read a little bit of the book of mormon on her own time in between our two visits this week. We also teach the jenney-kraus family. They are interesting. I will just have to tell you about them in person! We also went to the Warthens birthday party. That was sweet. The Warthens are way cool and funny! They are another one of my favorite families. They are sweet! We also got to go to the syracuse zoo today. So that was fun! Anyways love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Richins

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fulton and Turtles?

We Found a Turtle!

Hey everyone! So this week was good. It was great to talk to you all. And mom if you see that guy again that says he might be able to hook me up with a job at USU, tell him I'm definitely interested!! Anyways Fulton is quite the place. The members here are...different from other areas. Sunday one of them spoke a lot about how much God's love is because he found a sparrow on the sidewalk take it's last breath and got all emotional about it. It was pretty entertaining. The work here hasn't been the greatest recently, but that's going to change real soon! This week Elder Ward and I saw quite a lot of success! We got two new investigators and set them both with baptismal dates! One is named Devin. We knocked on her door after we tried a less-active who wasn't home, and we just knocked on the upstairs door and she let us right in! We taught her the restoration real quick and it went well. She wasn't comfortable praying at the end, so we committed her to pray on her own and set her with a baptismal date as well. Unfortunately, she seems like she might have just been nice to us or heard us out, because she cancelled our return appointment and when we called her and said "it's the elders" she hung up! But if that's the case, we still were able to plant that seed! We also met L, Sister W's friend. She is so sweet. She's been through a lot, but she knows the church is true and she agreed to baptism as well. Unfortunately, she didn't come to her return appointment and Elder Wilcox who is the district leader (he's in Pulaski) who served here over a year ago said she can be flakey. I hope that's not the case though. Josh is still really sweet. He's awesome and still doing everything right basically to prepare for baptism. We also met with a sweet less-active brother fuller. He has lost all of his faith and knowledge, but he wants to get it back and he has a desire to do what is right, which is all you need. We also had Sister Murrell at church yesterday. She's a less-active who shouldn't be less-active but is because of transportation. All we need to do there is get her rides and she will be activated. Also got to meet with Marty! He's sweet. He's the one who's brother played briefly in the NHL. He's met Kane, Ovechkin, Malkin, St. Louis, Montayo, Gretzky, and more! He's so cool. He always argues with eve about their son. He wants him to be a hockey player, but she wants him to be a ufc fighter. I always side with Marty. Haha. We also had a nerf gun war for our district activity last night, which was really fun! Sorry this letter is so short, but that's all I have for this week. Love you all and have a great week.

Elder Richins

Monday, May 4, 2015

March 30, 2015 HECTOR'S BAPTISM!

So this week was great. It's hard to believe how fast time flies the older you get, and I've heard that time doesn't slow down after the mission either. So that's crazy! Mom - I can't believe you are going to Mongolia though! You guys are all doing these way fun things while I am gone, and I just can't wait to spend time with the family and have more adventures with all of you guys. But that will be so soon. I still can't believe how long I've been out looking back. I don't feel like I have been out that long.  Anyways, this week has been great. I'll start off with the highlight of the week, Hector's baptism. It was so sweet. It was probably the most spiritual baptismal services I have been to on my mission! Elder Jolley gave a talk on baptism, and then we watched mormon messages on easter and the blessings of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I then gave a quick talk on the holy ghost, and Brother Shumway welcomed him to the Elders Quorum and Bishop Demming welcomed him to the ward. Hector is so sweet though. Like I have said before, he has such a good heart and great desires to do what is right. It's been a huge miracle seeing how he has improved and now can remember the commandments we have taught him and lives them. But he was solid with his commitments. He pretty much quit coffee cold turkey when we told him about the word of wisdom, and he wanted to donate money to the church before his baptism. He's on the right path. He has expressed that he might move, but he says no matter where he goes, he still wants to go to church! He really loves it. He loves the members of the church as well. How friendly they are. So it has been cool to see once again how important members are in missionary work! He's going to be such a good member. And his family is going to be so blessed, because now he is going to prepare for the temple and can do baptisms for his ancestors! So that will be sweet. I hope I will be able to keep in contact with him though. Since he is pretty poor, he only has a land line phone #, and if he moves, I won't have that. Hopefully he will move while either myself or Elder Kunzler is here so I can call him every once in awhile after the mission. I can't wait to introduce you guys to all the awesome people I have met on my mission. I've loved the investigators, less-actives, and recent converts I've taught, as well as the active members I've built relationships with as well. Stacey is doing really well too. She is one of the less-actives Elder Ricks and I taught. She's been re-activated, and now she's a ward missionary and she is on fire! She's really helping us out with missionary work! We also have started teaching Valorie again. Elder Ricks and I taught her for a little bit, but she always got really angry and contentious, so we had to stop. But she's really different now. She's started coming to the weekly institute we have each week, and she came to Hector's baptism as well. Brother Mercer came to church again to. That's the second week in a row and the second time since I've been here, and I've taught him the whole time I've been here. We were ready to drop him, because he had been saying he wants to come to church and quit smoking and be baptized, but he has never done it until now. So I'm excited about that. I did hear about Alex. Tell him hi for me and to keep being awesome! Esther is struggling right now with some family issues, so she didn't make it to church. But general conference is coming up, so that's good. I can't wait for her, Hector, the Brunos, and everyone else we are teaching to watch conference this upcoming weekend. We also got to teach Mike again! The one from Sri Lanka. He might be moving in May, and he has been out of town for the past six weeks, so Elder Kunzler and I were really excited about being able to start working with him again. Like Hector, he said once he moves, we can send the missionaries to him. He will get baptized. So will Gerri, although we weren't able to see her this week because of how sick she has been feeling. But Esther has talked with her on the phone and she is still reading the scriptures. It sure will be sweet to teach her again, hopefully this week. The movie night is going to be sweet to. We have visited almost all of the active members in our area and have given them the flyers we made for it to share with their friends and family. We already have a few members who have said they have friends/family who have committed to come. Also on the consecration, I think I am doing well. I've definitely learned a lot about becoming consecrated and submitting our will to the lord's on my mission, and have seen the wonderful refinements and blessings that come as we do so. But there is always room for improvement. But I am doing my best, and that's what matters. Also we had a fun experience finding this week. We knocked on the door of Bob who knows a lot about the church. He's Presbyterian but his ancestors were personal friends of Joseph Smith who were converted. But they later were excommunicated by Brigham Young because they didn't come back from the Mormon Battalion, so now they are presbyterian again. But he has some of the book of mormon, and has done a lot of family history and went out to the library in salt lake. But he makes atlatl's, and he let us check them out and even shoot a few of the darts! It was so fun!  Happy Easter to everyone back home! I am so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ, and all of the blessings that come from it. Everything is connected to the atonement. Without Christ, we couldn't receive the wonderful blessings that we know the restored gospel offers us. I love you Mom and love you all back home! Have an amazing week!

Elder Richins

 Here is the Atlatl!

Hector's Baptism!!!!

April 6, 2015 Tree Tapping and Syrup Collecting

Tree Tapping and Syrup Collecting

Sap from the tree is actually really clear!
Hey everyone,

This week was great! Elder Kunzler and I had a lot of miracles and sweet things happen this week. So now that Hector is baptized a member of the church, we can take him teaching with us. We are doing that in addition to visiting him (although now that he's a recent convert we see him less and will start to get him more and more used to the missionaries not being around) but we took him to teach Valorie with us. Valorie is really interesting. Elder Ricks and I taught her when I first got her, and we became really good friends, but we had to drop her because she was really contentious and angry with God. She has huge misunderstandings about the nature of God and thinks he is totally different that Jesus Christ in character, which of course isn't the case. Anyways since Elder Ricks and I dropped her, she eventually started coming back with the Jolley's to institute. So Elder Kunzler and I decided to give teaching her another try, because she is really looking for peace and happiness in her life. We took Hector to teach,and she asked a few questions about the old testament. She thinks that God is unmerciful and has no love towards the people in the old testament. And she is convinced because of the challenges she has faced in her life that God doesn't love her and she is destined to darkness after she dies. Then one of the most powerful miracles in my mission happened. Hector testified of God's love for him and how he felt the hand of God touch him as he was baptized. The spirit immediately filled the room. Valorie was in tears, and nothing else was said. And Hector had never previously said that to Elder Kunzler or myself. It was really cool to see where hector's testimony is at, and how confident he is in the gospel. I studied Valorie's concerns after the lesson, and the concerns she had were because she doesn't fully understand those scriptures in their context and she doesn't see how the new testament and the book of mormon complement the old testament. So it's rough. But hopefully she will get there. We also are teaching mike again regularly, but he didn't show up to the church to watch any of the sessions of general conference. He knows the gospel is true, but he hasn't yet been to church or committed to baptism. I heard from another missionary though that in Sri Lanka (Mike's the one from Sri Lanka) they are very "relaxed" about their religion and even though they might think of themselves as catholic or lutheran or whatever denomination, they might not be as committed and serious about it as we know we ought to be. Which I think might be the case with mike. Because he loves us coming over. He prayed the first time we visited, and the spirit was so strong. After his prayer to know if it was true, he looked up at Elder Ricks and I and said "I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God." (That was another one of my really powerful spiritual experiences on my mission). So we will have to figure out how to get him to keep his commitment to come to church. Brother Mercer is doing really well. This week he expressed that he doesn't really have the desire to quit smoking, and he would be ready when he was ready. The next lesson with him we read Alma 34 and were very bold with him about trying to quit smoking now. It went well. That was a really cool lesson. He was really humble about it to and hopefully now is willing to change. Esther came to church for the sunday morning session of general conference. She is doing really well. She says she considers Elder Kunzler and me family. I know she will soon be re-activated. Ever since we knocked on her door after she had been absent from the gospel and the church for many years and had forgotten just about everything about the gospel, she has loved everything we have taught her and her testimony and conversion are strengthening. She says she feels so much happier now that she has the gospel again in her life. I know I say this every week, but we still haven't met with Geri. She was supposed to come to a lesson this week, but she didn't. But Esther says she is still reading and still loving the gospel. It's just been hard because we want to teach her so much because she is so prepared for the gospel and she loves meeting with us, but with going out of town for a few weeks for her grand daughter to be born and now being sick for a few weeks, it has been forever since we visited. Hopefully we will see her soon, even though I have said that the last few weeks. General Conference. Man General Conference was so sweet! I love general conference so much! I've really learned to love it on my mission because I've gone into conference with questions, and I've always gotten answers. I'm pretty sure that Esther loved conference as well. But favorite talks, man there were a lot of amazing talks. I loved Elder Holland and President Uchtdorf back to back, as well as Elders Bednar and Christofferson back to back as well. I was really impressed with Elder Ballards talk in the priesthood session too, on the greatest generation of young adults. I loved how conference stressed the importance of family, marriage, and priorities in life. Because I've learned that on my mission. So many people could be doing better things with their time, and we all get distracted by technology or other things that aren't necessarily bad, just not the best. But I love you all so much! Have an amazing week and Happy Easter!!

Elder Richins

PS It snowed yesterday, but today it is up in the 70's and I think it might finally be warming up for good.

May 4, 2015 Fulton

Palias Family will  make us curry!!!

Bruno's and Knudsen's in Owego!!

Funnest investigator EVER!

Alan in Pulaski

This week was very interesting. I now have more of a feel for Fulton. It is quite the place. First off, every monday we have dinner and play games with Sister Whitley, a really old lady in the ward. Like seriously. She asked me the very first monday here what my favorite game was, and I told her that it was phase 10. So last monday (my second one here) we went over for dinner, and afterwards she took out phase 10 dice. We play games with her every week. Being my competitive self, I told her that there was no way she was going to beat me. But she would always say she would win, and would quote her favorite scripture to prove her point. "I can do all things through christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. I thought it was hilarious. Totally using the scripture to prove her point she could win the game. Unfortunately, she did win, and quoted the scripture even louder after we found out that she had been the victor. But Fulton is quite the area. It reminds me a lot of Scotia. Like Scotia, and Unlike Schoharie, Owego, and Pulaski, Fulton is Urban. It isn't a giant city, but it is definitely decent sized. It's like serving in murray or taylorsville. While Schoharie, Owego, and Pulaksi where like covering mt pleasant, fairview, and a few other small towns. So there are lots of people to work with. Josh is definitely our most solid investigator. He will be baptized in July out in Utah with all of his fellowshippers. He's so sweet. And really good with music too. He wants to have his own studio in Utah, and I think he will be a success. But he's sweet. He really loves the gospel and has seen the happiness it can bring. However, he has his fair amount of challenges as well. He didn't inform his parents, and his mom (who he knew wouldn't be too happy about it) found out by seeing him with elder ward and elder wilcox. So that definitely wasn't the best way for her to find out. And his mom is against the church and is really sad and bitter about it. And he still has a lot of people who don't know about his recent conversion. But he knows it is true. I love working with him. He's way fun too. I wasn't there when his mom found out though because I got to go on exchange with Elder Purdy in Pulaski! Man I miss that place. The ward works so well there when it comes to missionary work, and they have so much people they are teaching. Unfortunately Elder Purdy has been really sick, so I had to stay in the apartment all the time except to see Alan again. He's the man! But just going back there and seeing people fishing on the river. But I know I am here in Fulton for a reason. The Lord is in charge and there are people here for me to serve and for God to touch. But maybe when I'm released and we tour the mission, Dad and I can get a guide and fish for some salmon. The fishing is huge there!  Other than Josh, we have three other investigators. Taylor, Kyle, and Marty. Taylor we might have to stop teaching soon. She never answers the phone and told us to call her before we knock on the door. I've only taught her once on Facebook. Kyle is cool. His parents don't want the missionaries at their house, so we meet with him on facebook as well. Elder Ward hasn't ever met him in person, so we are going to try to figure that one out. This week we thought he might not be interested anymore because he was hard to get in contact with for awhile, but we had a really good lesson on the book of mormon with him! He said he would start reading it again. Marty is really cool. He's catholic, but he never goes to church. And his girlfriend is a less-active member who just lost her job. But she's looking at it positively. She said "now I can just focus on being a mom, and I can go to church on sunday." And she was. So they are going to be sweet working with. He will get baptized and she will be activated. So I'm way excited for that. We also have the Jenney-Krouse family. They are interesting. They are a less-active family who just started coming back as soon as I got here. But they have some challenges. But the great thing about the gospel is that it helps us overcome any challenge we may face in life. We have some other less-actives and part-member families that we will hopefully start meeting with soon. We also met this less-active guy named Rick who was very interesting. Told us he wasn't at all interested in the gospel, but he told us he knows for certain there is life after death, and told us how after his brother committed suicide he came and talked to him and some other relatives in their dreams. Haha. Anyways. This transfer will definitely be a challenge, but I'm ready to rise to it and see great things happen! Love you all back home! Take care and have a great week. Talk to you soon! 

Elder Richins

We met with a less-active this week, Sister Capozzi. She's interesting. She goes to the methodist church. She says she joined out west because the mormon church was the only church out there that she liked. But she doesn't really see a difference between the mormon church and the church she is attending. Luckily, she is very friendly, and we will go back and start visiting with her. As she has spiritual experiences, she will want to come back. Also we volunteer to help people with family history at the library the last thursday of every month. They and Elder Ward had a great time, but I still don't get how family history is so exciting. Maybe one day I will.