Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How Quickly This All is Coming to an End...I've Got to Make the Most of It!

Good old birthday celebration!!

Hey everyone!!

Well this week was pretty good. Elder Bailey and I are still having a lot of fun working hard and seeing miracles as the lord hastens his work!! Ashley and Alyssa are both doing really well. They should be baptized and confirmed on November 7th and 8th. They seem to really enjoy us coming over and teaching them the gospel. It's been really cool to be a part of their conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We saw quite a few miracles this week. In addition to Ashley and Alyssa doing really well, we also picked up a new investigator Liam. He's a party. He has a baptismal date for sometime in December. He's hilarious. He just says the craziest things. I can't wait to keep working with him. He gave us a hard time for being a few minutes late to one of our appointments, and he told Elder Bailey and I that we weren't friends with him because we lied to him. We forgot to bring the restoration dvd to one of his appointments when we told him we would. Haha. We told him we were sorry for forgetting though, and everything's alright now. Zaire is still doing really well. He apparently loves having us come over. A miracle Elder Bailey and I saw was that yesterday when we stopped by his mom answered the door. She has previously told us that she wasn't interested in meeting with us, but that it was alright for us to meet with Zaire. Well Zaire has been saying good things about us, and now she's open to meeting with us. Hopefully we will pick her up as an investigator this week. She even said she would have some food for us as well. Another miracle was meeting Tonya. She's a less-active member who hasn't been in the church for years. Elder Bailey and I were actually trying someone the zone leaders had told us they had talked to on the street, and she was walking and we talked with her and got her address and phone number, and taught her the restoration the next day. She's sweet and really wants to get involved with the gospel again. She came to church as well yesterday. She's going to progress really well. We met with Leone again, he's doing alright. We are worried that he is meeting with us more out of a curiosity rather than a desire to actually change. But hopefully we are wrong. We are going to teach him the plan of salvation today, which I think will be really good and help us to see where he is actually at. Our investigator Michelle is doing really well. She has also been reading the book of Mormon, and says that everything she is learning is what she was "taught when she was younger." Which she couldn't really have been, because she's not a member of the church. Maybe she's feeling that spirit that she has heard this before, in the pre-earth life. That's my only explanation. But she's doing well. We actually picked up her friend Stephanie, and her two kids Havana and Franklin as investigators and set them with a baptismal date. That was a really crazy lesson, because Havana, Franklin, and the two little girls are all under the age of 12, so trying to keep them reverent and focused was quite the challenge. We watched the restoration DVD with them. Unfortunately, Rachel dropped us. She simply said that the church wasn't for her. Elder Bailey and I were both really sad about that, because she had been making such good progress. I'm pretty sure she's been influenced by her peers though about the decision. But hey, maybe someday she will join the church. All of our other investigators aren't really progressing either and we haven't been able to see them as often as we would like. Hopefully we will be able to get back in contact with them and start teaching them soon. The temple trip is a week from tomorrow. We get to go to quite a few church sites as well as the temple, and will have lunch to. I know we get to go to the sacred grove, the hill Cumorah, and the shop where the book of Mormon was published. Life is good though. My last Zone training meeting was this week. It focused on charity, hope, and helping people keep their commitments. It was good, but it's weird to think how quickly this all is coming to an end. I've got to make the most of it! Love you all and have a great week!!

Elder Richins

Monday, October 19, 2015

Happy 21st Birthday Elder Richins!

 We  celebrated Ty's Birthday by Fishing in the Rain and Hiking through Capital Reef this past weekend!

Sister Heidi Garish from the Elmira Ward fed all six of the missionaries tonight to celebrate Tyler's Birthday! I have been missing him like crazy today so to get pictures and a text of him today was an answer to prayers!

Happy Birthday Elder Richins!  We Love You!!!

A Light Snow Fall!

Hey everyone!!

Thank you for the birthday wishes!! It has been a great week here in Upstate NY. This week I got my temple trip plans in the mail. Which was really weird but cool to see where we will actually be going. We will be going to the temple, the hill cumorah, I believe the Whitmer farm where the church was organized, and the place where the book of Mormon was published. So that will be a great experience to see all those places again. The work here is going great. It's crazy to think that the time left is so short on my mission, but I am making the most of it and am loving all the miracles Elder Bailey and I are seeing. The seeleys are doing great. We taught them a couple of times this week. We also gave the two girls a mock baptismal interview to see what they need help with understanding and where they are at. For and 11 and 12 year old, they did pretty good and seem ready. They didn't make it to church because their ride cancelled for the second week in a row, and he didn't cancel until about 15 minutes prior to church, so there was no way to get them there. But they were ready. And are still doing good. Rachel is also doing well. I went on exchange to corning, so I only taught her once this week out of the two times we saw her. But she is also doing well and should make her baptismal date of November 14th. We saw Zaire a couple of times this week. He's another investigator with a baptismal date that Elder Bailey and I found. It's been so cool to see the lord hastening his work and all the miracles that we have been seeing. We taught Zaire about the book of Mormon, and he has read 8 chapters on his own. So he is doing really well too! We also saw a lot of miracles not only with these families on date, but also with picking up some new investigators. One investigator we picked up Cyndy, was a miracle. We talked to her and she expressed how angry she was at God. She has lost some granddaughters, as well as her mom, all within the past year or two. She definitely believes in God, but like I said is very angry at him. We mostly listened, and testified to her about God's love and that her concerns would be resolved in time as she exercised her faith and learned more about the restored gospel. Amazingly as time went on in our visit, she softened up a lot. Her original hostile demeanor left, and we set her with a return appointment to teach her the restored gospel. Elder Bailey and Chambers went back, and Elder Bailey says it went really well. In fact they set her with a baptismal date. To see the spirit soften someone's heart like that was a huge miracle. We also picked up a girl Cassandra, as an investigator. Elder Bailey was sick this week, so on that day, I simply pulled out the area book and started calling former investigators. Cassandra is the daughter of a less-active member. She answered the phone, but freaked out because she didn't know who it was. But I sent her a text and she said she would be interested in meeting with us. Which was way cool. We taught her the restoration in her parents home where she stays on weekends, and the spirit was really strong. She seemed to understand it well and said she would be baptized as she comes to know it is true. We also picked up a guy named Rich. Don't know how interested he is, but he is willing to give it a try. But as we were leaving his house, we saw a couple of people, Josie and Leon are their names, sitting on their porch. We talked to them and they listened to the message of the restoration. They both admitted to having a belief in God, but they were definitely having their doubts, especially with some of the trials they have been growing through. I think they termed it when we asked them if they believed in God "A little bit." Leon prayed at the end, and told us how happy he was that we decided to stop and talk to them. Jennifer, one of their friends, came down and joined us in our discussion and seemed interested as well. It was really cool to see the Lord placing those people, seeking for truth and hope in their lives, to be placed in their path. The lord is very aware of the needs of his children. Life is going good though. It's starting to get chilly. It actually sprinkled snow a little bit this week, but it's supposed to warm up the rest of this week. Also the Bailey's made me some pumpkin cheesecake for dessert last week for my birthday!! Love you all so much and have a great week!!

Elder Richins

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall is in the Air!

Driving the van to the mission conference!!
Hey Everyone!!!

Glad to hear everyone is keeping busy back home! I was told by a returned missionary this week that when you get home "life keeps on going at the same speed." So you have to enjoy the moment, and I'm committed to finish my mission strong before I start the next chapter of my life. The Lord is hastening his work. One of the greatest blessings I have seen on my mission is that the Lord is constantly hastening the work of salvation. With tools such as the principles from How to Teach PMG such as short frequent lessons and really focusing on helping people have spiritual experiences as they meet with us, The new ideas of working with members that President Wirthlin started to emphasize, the new ideas that President Rogers has brought as he now leads the mission (such as to stop relying on How to Teach PMG as a crutch for teaching, but rather focusing on the principles and teaching by the spirit to the needs of the people), and our mission conference with Elder Randall K. Bennett of the seventy this last week, have all built on each other and raised the vision of the mission and have moved it more and more in the right direction. At mission conference, Elder Bennett emphasized several important principles. A big change in the mission is taking place. From now on, we are trying to make sure members feed us before 6 pm, so we can be out teaching and finding from 6-9, which is "prime time" for proselyting. This is a very big change. All my mission the culture has been you eat when the members sign up. And change can be hard. But Elder Bennett promised us great blessings as we kept 6-9 pm open everyday to proselyte. Another big change is he has invited us to now keep dinner appointments to 45 minutes. Which also is a big change, because members in upstate New York love visiting with the missionaries. Elder Bailey and I have followed the counsel so far, and miracles are being seen. I was a little skeptical of this change at first, but with Elder Bailey's enthusiasm and nothing really but my trust that this change is God's will has led to many miracles. Mission conference was on Friday. On Saturday, we picked up 4 new investigators. We also got 7 referrals from the people we visited with. And Saturday morning was the busiest morning of my mission. We started by talking to someone, who gave us a referral, and as we talked to people on the street we met more people and got more referrals. It was awesome. Elder Bennett stressed talking with everyone and not rationalizing at all not to talk to someone. This is the most important message these people will ever hear. So that's another focus Elder Bailey and I have stressed to apply. Elder Bennett didn't say we were bad missionaries at the conference at all. He lovingly told us that there was always room for improvement and that even more miracles even "the windows of heaven" would be opened on the mission as we courageously make these changes. So our investigators are doing really well. Rachel, the member referral who will be baptized November 14th, came to church yesterday and also watched conference last week! She seemed to love church. We taught her the plan of salvation this last week, and she told us how happy she has become due to the gospel and this new light now being in her life. She even said "Even my friends notice that I am a happier person." It's been great to see the changes and joy the gospel is bringing into her life, as it has been for me to see that change in many people these past 22 months. The Seeley family is also doing well. Their ride to church brother baker got sick and called and cancelled Sunday morning, but we were able to frantically get a ride. Alyssa came, but Ashley went back to bed when brother baker called and wasn't ready, and Sharleen was sick again. But Sharleen seems to still be reading, and they love having us over. We taught them the law of chastity this week, which is always interesting when you have smaller kids, but we covered the principles and Sharleen said she would talk to them more about it. In addition to the Seeley family and Rachel, we have many other investigators on date for baptism. We tried a former Zaire this week, and met his sister Alajha. We have taught them both the restoration this week and set them with baptismal dates. They are both in their late teens/early 20's, and seem pretty interested. Hopefully they will choose the keep their commitments and make their date. We also picked up Shadow this week, who is the boyfriend of Michelle Gates. He also seems interested. He prayed at the end of one of our visits to learn more about the Mormons. Which was really cool to see, because when we first met him a few weeks he didn't seem interested at all. But Michelle is definitely a good influence on him! He now seems pretty interested and we set a date for him to be baptized in December. We also picked up Kaylee and set her with a date. She is the fiancé of the grandson of a less-active member, Sister Rodriguez (Not the brother and sister Rodriguez who sent you pictures from dinner). She seemed really interested in the restoration, and prayed at the end and we set her with a date as well. We also talked to a guy named Dennis on the street, and taught him the resto and set him with a date as well. We also picked up a nonmember referral Kathy who agreed to be baptized in December. So we have 10 investigators on date now, which is sweet. The less-actives Sister Bailey and April are still doing really well to. Both of them were sick though so they weren't at church yesterday. The work is hastening. We also talked to a lady named Tammie on the street. She used to go to church, but since her brother died, she hasn't. We testified of eternal families and that she could see her brother again, but she said her brother wasn't in heaven. We then taught her the principle of redemption for the dead, and that everyone who didn't have a chance to accept the gospel here would in the next life. She said she had never heard that and it gave her hope. Unfortunately, she wasn't at her return appointment, which happens. Hopefully we will be able to get back in contact with her. But that's about it. The work is going great. I love you all and hope you all have a fantastic week!!

Elder Richins

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fishing and Fall!

Fall is in the air!

Got to experience the joy of fishing this morning!!!

Hey everyone!!

Wow. Life as a missionary is just great. Elmira is great and I love being a missionary. This week was great. It's hard to believe I'm on my last transfer already. It's gone by so quick. Well some of our investigators are doing really well. The Seeley family is doing great. Unfortunately Sharleen had some pretty bad pain so they weren't able to come to conference this week. But they love it every time we come over, Sharleen says she feels a peace brought into the home, and all the children have started praying for lessons when we come over. They are still reading the book of Mormon, and doing very well. We took Brother Tanner, a member in our ward who is also the stake patriarch and used to be in the Palmyra temple presidency. He's a spiritual powerhouse. We had a great lesson on the word of wisdom with them, as well as talking a lot about faith in Jesus Christ, and reviewing the priesthood authority with them. The minister that lives across the street from them tried to call Sharleen in the middle of one of our visits, and she was like "there she is, she sees your car." Haha. But they aren't buying into the rival ministers pleas to baptize them in their swimming pool at all!! Rachel Bradley, our member referral is also doing really well. We set her with a baptismal date for November 14th this week. She is so solid. Whenever Elder Bailey and I go over there, we can feel the spirit. She and the whole Seeley family have been prepared for the gospel. It's wonderful to see the Lord's hand in his work. In addition to those investigators doing well, some of the less-active members we are teaching are also really progressing. April and Sister Bailey both watched general conference this week, and both went to church the week before. So the district had a few changes. Elder Deka is headed up to Potsdam, and Elder Morgan is the new zone leader here. Sister Maughan left and Sister Hansen is the new sister here. We dropped all of our other investigators this week because they weren't willing to progress or meet with us. We are still seeing Scott. We laid down the law with him this week and he seemed like he was going to make some changes, but then he didn't show up for conference. So we will see where it goes with him. I also got to experience the joy of fishing this morning!!! Man Dad get my stuff ready and let's go on an adventure in a month!! Haha. But I still can't believe in less than a month I will be on the temple trip to Palmyra. But until then, I'm just going to focus on continuing to work hard, have fun, and see miracles with Elder Bailey. General conference was awesome, it always is. One of the speakers, Elder Randall K. Bennett of the seventy is having a mission tour this week. So that will be fun!  Love you all and have a great week!!

Elder Richins

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Last Area!

Elder Bailey and Me
View from our dinner appointment

Hey everyone!!

So this week was pretty sweet! We got transfer calls and Elder Bailey and I will be staying together for the next 6 weeks, which is the final transfer of my mission. Wow that's crazy. Still kind of hard to believe! But I will finish here in Elmira. Which I'm happy about. Elder Summers will stay here, and Elder Morgan will join him. Elder Deka is headed up to Potsdam. Sister Gass is staying here in Horseheads, and will be joined by Sister Hansen who goes home with me. But on to this week. The work is continuing to go really well. Elder Bailey and I are continuing to see miracles. We were able to pick up 2 new investigators that were both member referrals! One of them was Suzie, the Reeders friend. We had dinner with her, the Reeders, and the Farnsworths. We shared a quick message about general conference and talked a little bit about modern day prophets and apostles. The Reeders and Farnsworths all shared their conversion stories with Suzie as well. Which was sweet! She is taking care of some personal things and we were scheduled to meet with her again not this week but the next, but Sister Reeder is worried that it was too much of a push and is going to call her up and see if we can meet with her again. Hopefully she will. The other investigator that we picked up was Rachel! She is sweet and very prepared. We got a phone call from sister workman, a member who lives in Arizona but grew up here. She called her sister, Sister Magee (who is in our ward), for our phone number and let us know she has a friend who is looking for a church. We have been over twice and both times it has gone really well. Elder Baily and I feel that she will accept a baptismal date soon. She didn't come to church because she had a really bad headache, but she called us in advance to let us know she couldn't make it. Which shows that she is dependable. A lot of people just don't show up. We also brought sister hultz and her son Jack over to one of the lessons. Sister Hultz is a convert who really related well to Rachel. It was awesome. Rachel prayed about the restoration and the end of the lesson, and the spirit was really strong. Elder Bailey and I are stoked to keep working with her. Sister Hultz conversion story is pretty sweet to. She says that he Holy Ghost whispered to her certain things to look for in a church. When she found that none of the churches had all the requirements, she thought she should start her own church. Then she got the whisper from the spirit that she didn't have the authority and that was the last thing she needed to find in the church. And now she's a member of our church. Haha. Sharleen, Ashley, Alyssa, and Mackenzie are all doing pretty well to. Ashley and Alyssa came to church yesterday and really enjoyed it! They have us over for a quick half hour everyday. They are really progressing in the gospel and are totally going to get baptized. We also had a sweet experience that did make me chuckle a little bit with them. But first, here is a little background for this story. A few weeks ago, Sharleen referred us to a minister that lived across the street from her. So we went and knocked on her door, and she seemed open at first, but when she asked us if women could be pastors in our church, and we explained that men and women have different roles. She didn't like that. She said she knew God had called her, and she had gotten her pastoral degree online to prove it. (That's the background). Yesterday, Elder Bailey and I were reviewing the priesthood authority with them. And this minister comes up and says "So you all are getting baptized? That is wonderful. Praise the Lord." She acted all excited and very happy that they were making that step. When she left, Sharleen looked at Elder Bailey and me and said something along these lines. "Yeah, she has come over before and tried to get us to be baptized before quite a bit. But she isn't living how she should be and isn't working for God." Or something like that. That was a good chuckle and feeling of satisfaction right there. We got them to commit to baptism when she had been trying to, haha. But hey, the spirit and the truth works wonders right? Sister Bailey and April, two less-actives we are working with, both came to church this week as well! It was sweet! Unfortunately, a lot of our other investigators we are going to have to have the "do or die" lesson and see if they are willing to start keeping commitments, or we are going to have to drop them. It's sad because we have had some really spiritual experiences with people like Jessica, Nakia, and others, but they aren't willing to make it a priority. Which is really sad. But everyone has agency. Some others have a desire to do what's right, but just don't do it. Oh well. We also went with Elder summers and Deka and Brother Houghton up to Ithaca this week for a feed my starving children service project where we bagged food for people in poverty. Brother Houghton is a pretty funny guy though. Man one thing that will be fun at home is I'll be able to share experiences with you in person on my mission from my journal. A lot of funny things happen in Upstate New York! I'm stoked for general conference too! I love seeking revelation and inspiration from the prophets and apostles by going in with questions I have. I've really come to love conference from my mission. It's a great time to feel the spirit and seek inspiration and revelation. Can't believe It's already my last conference on the mission either! Crazy! Love you all and have a great week!

Elder Tyler Richins