Wow, I can't believe it is all coming to an end. This whole mission experience has been amazing and life changing, and I will be forever grateful for the change and blessings that have come. I know my mission has truly blessed me. I will always reflect on the blessings and lessons I have learned. But I'll talk to you all about that later in person.
This final week was wonderful. It started off with the wonderful temple trip!! To be in the temple again was amazing. I have a goal to go there at least once a week when I am back home. It was such a wonderful experience, and I felt the spirit so strongly. I love the temple!! Then we went to the Joseph Smith farm and the sacred grove right after that. It was awesome to be able to walk through and ponder. The day was actually really nice and unusually warm for upstate New York. I think it was in the high 50's or even 60's. But what struck me is that the grove probably looked a lot like what it looked like when Joseph went there to pray in the early spring. A few leaves remained on the trees. President Rogers said of the 3 times he has been to the grove, the day we went was the prettiest he had seen it so far. It was awesome. We then went to the gravesite of Alvin Smith and drove by the 4 corners, 4 churches on our way to lunch. After lunch we went to the Grandin building where the book of Mormon was published, and then it was off the the hill cumorah. The final destination for the day was the Peter Whitmer farm where the church was officially organized. I took lots of pictures!
In addition to the temple trip, we saw many more miracles this week. This great work will continue to hasten and grow. We found an investigator named Alma, who was actually a referral from our investigator Liam who lived in the zone leaders area. She was taught by Elders Summers and Morgan once, and then moved over to the southside. She came to church this week though. Which was amazing, because of all our investigators, I though she would have a hard time keeping commitments. But she loved church and is planning on going next week as well. Liam is also doing really well. He came to church with Alma, and also enjoyed it and said he and Alma are both coming next week. They want to be baptized on the same day. John and Jen are doing really well to. They also came to church. It was sweet for a last sunday, 4 investigators at church. They are also doing really well. We taught them the plan of salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ this week. We feel the spirit strongly every time we go over there. Zaire couldn't make it to church this week, but we saw him and he is doing really well. He still wants to get baptized and is planning on church this upcoming sunday. We have recently taught him the law of chastity and the word of wisdom. Those are always key lessons because it shows how willing the person is to repent and change and become. We also picked up two investigators this week. One was named Doc. He loved the restoration video when we watched it with him, and says he knows it is true. But then he says he has already been baptized. He isn't quite connecting the dots. Another investigator we picked up is named Janet. She's a nice older lady, but her significant other Mack is crazy. We have been over there twice and are going to have to figure something out. He totally monopolizes the conversation and says the craziest things. Email just doesn't do it justice. I will tell you all about it though in person. Also I know Elder Bailey's parents read this, so make sure you ask him about Mack when he gets home. Haha. Janet even realizes he's crazy. When I was talking to her, she looked over at Mack and Elder Bailey, and said "I wonder if he (Elder Bailey) has been converted yet." Haha it's so funny. He just spits out all sorts of random information. So I don't know where that's going to go. We also saw a lady crying this week who beckoned us to come over and pray for her. We gave her a priesthood blessing. She was really distraught. After the blessing she just looked at Bailey and said one of the funniest things I could imagine. She held out her arms for a hug and said "Let me love you." Elder Bailey's uncomfortable look on his face. Man. I'm going to miss crazy mission experiences. The Baileys are doing well to. Sister Bailey finally came to church, which was awesome. I'm really going to miss this work, but I am excited for the new experiences and blessings that are ahead in my life! I love you all so much. Thank you all for the support you have given me these last two years. Although it will be very sad to not be a missionary anymore, and I'm sure I will miss it, I do look forward to seeing and being able to visit you all again and to continue to build up the kingdom of God and be happy and have fun! I'll see you all soon!
Elder Tyler Richins