Sunday, August 30, 2015

Back in Elmira with My Trainee!

My Trainee- Elder Bailey, Brother Rodriguez, and Me

Me and Elder Hammond

Hey everyone,

Wow it's crazy to think that I only have 12 weeks (2 transfers) left to serve the lord as a full time missionary. I think of all the companions I have had for two transfers and how fast that time went by. I'm definitely going to make the most of it. It was a little sad to leave Herkimer with all the success Elder Villejo and I saw. But we did have a blast and it is good to be back in Elmira. My trainee's name is Elder Bailey. He's from Gilbert, Arizona. He's 6'4, good at basketball, and is way excited to be out here. And we saw a lot of miracles between this last Wednesday to today. Elder Hammond and I worked hard, but we left the area with no investigators, although we did have a lot of less-actives to try and part-member families and potentials. But we have really been blessed by picking up 7 new investigators this week. The first investigator we picked up is Elijah. He is friends with the brewer family and elder Hammond met with him on exchange and said that we could totally pick him up. So Elder Bailey and I did. He's really interesting though. He's 17, and he doesn't have the best background growing up, I guess you could say. We taught him twice. Yesterday he was yelling at us though and kept asking us how we could believe in something that we can't see. But he believes in God even though he hasn't seen him. I asked him about that and he just got quiet. So it will be interesting to see where that goes. He's a good kid I think, we just got to figure out how to teach him without him getting all mad and frustrated. We also picked up Sykia, Sharon, Hannah, and Messiah as investigators by just talking with them on their porch and teaching them the restoration. It was powerful. We went back and just taught sykia, and she said she had read the restoration pamphlet and prayed to know if it was true and believes it is true and knows joseph smith is a prophet! We set her with a baptismal date of October 10th. Sharon, Messiah, and Hannah weren't there for the return appointment, but hopefully we will see them again soon and set them with baptismal dates as well. We also picked up two other investigators by talking with them on the street as well. We picked up a lady named Jessica. She is really nice and believes in God, but she doesn't understand the bible to well. So we went over her belief in God with her and talked about how our purpose is to help her understand her relationship with and come closer to god. She even looked at her friend and said "these guys might be the answer we have been waiting for." So that was really cool to see the lord's hand in that. We also picked up Stephanie, who used to go to church but her church shut don't and she won't get baptized until she finds a decent church similar to hers. But from her description, it sounds like her church was very similar to ours in structure, and we are really excited to be working with her as well. We should be meeting with all of them again this week. We also talked with Brother Sylvia this week. He has been inactive for quite a few years. It's sad because he says he doesn't have a testimony of joseph smith anymore. But he once hyper extended his knee, and he couldn't walk. He then got a priesthood blessing of healing and was able to walk right after they lifted their hands off his head. He still says that that is the first miracle he has ever seen in his life. He also said he used to not do all the bad habits he has now when he was active in the church. But we are going to work with him. I see a lot of potential with him and his family! We also talked to a few other people on the streets that we have scheduled appointments with, so Elder Bailey and I are going to be busy! Which is good. I hate not being busy! But I definitely continue to see the lord's hand in his work. Love you all and have a great week!

Elder Richins

This Week in Herkimer!

Grandma countryman and her family from Herkimer!
Me and elder villejo!

Hey Everyone!

Well this week in Herkimer was great I served with Elder Villejo for the week. He came out a transfer before me, so he only has 6 weeks left. But he still works hard and we had fun and saw a lot of miracles this week! But wednesday I will be headed back to Elmira with a brand new missionary. I"m stoked to train! Now all I've got to do is finish strong and stick to the task. So this week with Elder Villejo was fun! He is from the Philippines originally but moved to Hawaii. We did work this week though and picked up four new investigators! The first investigator we picked up was Gene. He's interesting. We did service for him and then  talked to him about Joseph Smith. He's really skeptical about the Joseph Smith story and thinks that Joseph smith just made the whole thing up. So we talked a little bit about how he could know through sincere prayer and studying the book of mormon. He's been through a lot though. He's really skeptical about everything since when his son died, his pastor came over to comfort them. He said their son was appearing to him in dreams, but then the pastor and gene's wife ran off together. And he said he was reminded of that when he prayed about Joseph Smith. But hopefully he will sincerely read and pray. That's what you need to do to get an answer. Another investigator we picked up was jerry. That was a sweet experience. He is living with his brother and brother's wife right now, who we were referred to. So we went over to try them and  jerry walked around the corner and started talking with us! We were all over the place answering his questions, but ended up talking a lot about the restoration and we all felt the spirit really strong. It was way cool when we said it wasn't a coincidence that we met though. Jerry agreed that our meeting wasn't a coincidence either. He even said "normally I would have told you guys to leave and try another time and I would have avoided you, but something compelled me to talk to you guys and you guys are actually really cool."  It was a sweet miracle. He gave us his phone number to, which he said wasn't something he would normally do.The spirit definitely softened his heart! It was awesome! We also picked up Shelly through tracting. Which was awesome. When we knocked on her door and she said "yes" to us sharing a message I was taken aback because that hardly ever happens. She has recently lost a lot of family members, so we talked with her about the plan of salvation and how a close relationship with Jesus Christ can really help us in our lives. She said our message brightened her day, and we got a return appointment with her for tomorrow! The final investigator Elder Villejo and I picked up this week was Brandon. He is the son of Sister Snyder, a less-active member. He went with her to the mormon church in the south when she was taught by the missionaries and baptized. He said he didn't mind it, but he didn't understand why Christ had to die for us. So we answered his questions and taught him the restoration. He said it made a lot more sense after we talked to him. We are going to play basketball with him and some of his buddies later today. But he definitely has a lot of potential! I bet he will get baptized. His friend zack was there to. He wasn't that interested though and was a little distracting during the lesson. But they are both good kids! We also had some very interesting/funny experiences this week. We met with the Herkimer elder's investigator ellen, who apparently is transfigured and read us how the god of buddhism is the same as the god of christianity. I was quite taken aback. We also met another lady named rose, who talked to us and I was hoping we would pick her up as an investigator. Turns out she believes that lucifer had a son named satan, and the devil is satan's son. So lucifer really isn't to blame. She also believes christ sinned because he made the o ryan's (governing forces of the universe sta) mad. He came to her in a dream crying because he messed up and mad e them mad apparently. So those were two very fun experiences. We laughed a lot about those two experiences afterwards. Grandma also is in herkimer. She is really sweet. She feeds the missionaries every day here if they don't have a meal, and has been for 40 years. She is way funny to. But yeah herkimer has been fun, but I am stoked to head back to elmira! Love you all back home and have a great week!

Elder Richins

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bats in My Belfry/Bag!

Partying on the way to Mission Conference

Corning Museum of Glass

Opened this bag in our apartment up and he was hiding in it. Spooked me a bit!!

Hey everyone!!!
This week was great. So to start off, I have a little surprise. Elder Hammond is a visa waiter, and he is going to brazil this week. He is serving in the  Brazil Recife mission. I'm excited for him. So for this week President told me just to pack a week's supply of stuff and I will be headed up to Herkimer for the week until the transfer on Wednesday August 19th, then I will come back with a new companion to Elmira south. And since he told me to only come with a week's supply of stuff, I know I'll come back to Elmira. Which is sweet! But yeah. My companion in Herkimer is going to be elder villejo. Everyone here in Elmira is telling me to get a diamond. Apparently Herkimer is famous for that. The glass factory was really cool. We didn't have time to make any glass, but we did get to see it blown. Maybe when we come tour the mission we can do that. And we will definitely have to go to lake placid as well!! But yeah. Elmira is doing pretty well though. The brewers are still doing good. John got interviewed by the bishop to receive the Aaronic priesthood yesterday, and he passed so that's exciting. He, Jake, and louise are really sweet. The gates haven't really made any changes since last week, we did teach them tithing. They still didn't come to church though, which is frustrating! We also officially dropped Ronnie. So the work is slowing down a bit. But it has so much potential. We just need to find the elect. The swicegoods are headed in the right direction though. I think they have made the most progress out of anyone I have taught the first 4 weeks here. Philip, the nonmember is opening up to us which is awesome. We taught them the restoration. We really felt the spirit. Philip walked out of the room when the spirit felt the strongest. Haha. I was wondering if he did that on purpose or not! I hope he didn't. I'll have to point out the spirit the next time we teach him. But April (she's less-active) has also started to open up a lot to us and has started making comments in lessons and stuff. She didn't so much at first. I asked her to bear her testimony of her conversion to the restored gospel when all 4 of us were in the room and she did. That was really sweet. I think they can really progress and I'm excited to keep working with them once I get back. I also went on exchange to corning this week, which was fun. I went with Elder Medearis. That was an adventure. I went on Friday, and apparently in corning Friday is the day when they are involved in service and don't really do much "typical missionary work." We helped the Methodist church with their "meals on wheels." We just deliver meals to the poorer people in corning. Then we went to the senior citizens center where we played mopped the floors and then played pool with a few of them. Chuck, Gary, and Gary were the people who played pool with us. It was really fun. Chuck kept on chewing out Elder Medearis for losing the game for them (they were on a team and me and Gary on the other) because he missed easy shots and shot the eight ball in the wrong pocket or something. Then after that we went and played ultimate frisby with members of the branch. Also we went to buffalo wild wings this week when we exchanged. It was me, Elder Medearis, Elder Chambers, Elder Summers, Elder Hammond, and Elder Deka. They have a deal on Thursday's where their boneless wings are only 65 cents a wing, so we each had 1 wing of almost every type and started at the mildest and worked up to the hottest. That was fun! We also had a mission conference this week, which pretty much took up all of Tuesday. But it was really good. President Rogers trained on rededicating ourselves to the work and being full purpose missionaries, meaning having a balance of finding, teaching investigators, activation and retention efforts, etc,. So that was really good. It's crazy to think I only have about 3 months left. Everyone keeps reminding me of that, which makes me want to make the most of this time left even more. I can't believe how fast it has gone by. It's weird because when people ask about coming home, I am excited to see you all again and such, but it will be very sad to stop being a missionary and just worrying about that. So it's going to be bittersweet. Well hope you all have a great week everyone! Love you all!! 
Elder Richins

Monday, August 3, 2015

Serving with All His Heart!

This is an email we woke up to this morning.  So great to hear from those Elder Richins is serving with!!! 

Good Morning. 

I hope this letter finds you well and happy. Last night my wife and I had the missionaries over for dinner. Your son was there also. I over see the missionary work for the stake, so I was able to meet him some time ago in another unit. What a great missionary he is. A joy to be around and is easily found to have a smile on his face. You have great reason to be proud of him. He is a hard worker and is serving with all his heart. The Elmira Ward where he is currently serving is THE ward most of the missionaries want to serve in. We are very missionary minded and care for these young people as though they were our own children. Rest assured he is well cared for and being looked after. Thank you for your sacrifice. 

Best Wishes

Gil Rodriguez

Never Go Inactive!

Hey everyone!!!
Wow can't believe you are going to Mongolia without me!! It's going to be so much fun though! Have a blast!! It's going to be so much fun! This week has been great though up here in Elmira south. The work is continuing to hasten, and elder Hammond and I are just working hard and doing everything we can to build up the area. So with it being the end of the month and elder Hammond and I driving a little too much earlier in the month, we walked around a ton this last week. But we did see some success in finding new less-active families to teach and such. We met with Sister Ellsworth for the first time this last week. She's a nice sweet, older lady who was baptized years ago and it sounded like she was pretty active for quite a long time after she was baptized to. But never go inactive. I've learned that and had that knowledge confirmed many times on my mission. No matter how many spiritual experiences you had or how strong you think your testimony is. You lose knowledge and truths as you stop living the gospel. Many less-actives claim they have a testimony, and then they have these beliefs that are false. But Sister Ellsworth is a very sweet lady who agreed to start reading the book of Mormon, and that's the key first step. So it will be exciting to see where it goes with her. We also taught another sister, Sister Dennison this week as well. She also claims she still has a testimony, and she seems to still have a lot of the knowledge that your typical member would have. We just talked about the book of Mormon with her as well. I've really learned on my mission that reading the book of Mormon changes lives because it brings the spirit into our lives. So that's what we taught sister Dennison as well. We need to figure out why she is less-active though. We also met with Joe this week. He's sweet. He's another inactive member who has a wife and two daughters that are non-members. We went over and got to know him a little bit, and when we asked him if his family were members of the church he simply responded "they will be." So that was really cool. We taught him how the gospel blesses families and God's love for each of us, and committed him to study the restoration pamphlet so he could help us teach his family when we came back to teach the restoration (1st cornerstone) to his wife and kids later that week. Unfortunately they forgot or something because they weren't there for our return appointment. But he is sweet. His favorite NFL football team is the 49ers, so me and him related really well on that. He also gets free tickets to the Elmira Jackals (ECHL) games. When I told him I love hockey, he said when hockey season starts and he gets some tickets we would have to go to a game together if President approved it, which would be sweet! But I'm excited to work with Joe and his family. Hockey last Monday was awesome too! I loved being able to play again. It was me and brother Bontorno (the member who plays and has all the gear)  and me vs. Elders Hammond, Deka, and Summers. It was so fun. Even though we lost 2 out of the 3 games. We also taught April again this week, and her non member husband Philip sat in. We watched because of him and talked about the blessings of the atonement of Jesus Christ! It was great! He loves fishing, so I've talked a lot with him about that, and he's definitely opening up. Hopefully we will pick him up as an investigator soon. It is so cool to see him opening up though. I've seen that a lot on my mission as well. You relate to people and show them you are just a normal person out sharing these truths that you love and have changed your life, and they then take interest. We also visited the Gates family a few times this week. They are just hectic. Man those kids are the craziest peeps you will ever meet! It's so hard to keep them focused, and Bridget (their mom) is always trying to keep them under control and they just don't listen! They had a friend/possible relative over who sat in on the lesson and was just interesting. He tried to convince us of an angel appearing to people in California by showing us the fakest youtube clip ever! When I asked him where he heard about it and he said there was proof of it on youtube I just thought "oh boy hear we go." Haha. We also were walking this week and met John. It was an interesting experience. He has a hole in his throat, so he can't talk at all and was trying to communicate with us and I was trying so hard to understand him. But he was so nice and gave us some water and v8 vegetable juice. We were walking that day, so I was really grateful for that! He told us to come and visit him again to! So that's sweet. The brewers are doing good. They are a lot of fun. John is so funny! He just loves the missionaries and tells us how awesome as soon as he meets us. I love them! Also had some interesting experiences this week that reminded me of how long I've been out. We were at a dinner with the Gabrish's, and we asked them how they met and how they knew each other was "the one" they were going to marry and Sister Gabrish told us you just know. She then asked me how long I've been out and when I told her she said "oh so this conversation was really helpful since It will be you in a few months." That was really weird to hear her say that and kind of frightening. I'm going to take my sweet time when I get home though. No rushing it. Another experience was when I was on a split with Elder Summers and we taught kyle, a less-active. We watched two brothers two with him and the episode they were on was about the older brother getting used to life after the mission since he just got home. So yeah. The time has gone by so quick and I've got to treasure these last few months. Stick to the task til it sticks to you. Beginners are many, but enders are few. I've loved my mission so far, and can't wait for the experiences that lie ahead of me these last few transfers. Love you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder Richins