25 March 2013

Week 10

March 25, 2013
Mi Familia!
So I don't know if any of yall would have done the math like this, but I did and today makes my 9 weeks and five days mark. That is the same amount of time that I spent living in Belize and that means that after today this will be the longest amount of time that I have spent away from yall. Can you believe that?
I think that this week my thoughts are directed toward Easter Sunday this week and toward the Atonement. There is this really great talk that we have in our mission binder that is by President Holland called "Teach the Atonement." In it he says some really powerful things. One of the things that really caught my attention is how our missions will reflect the life of the Savior is some way. I think I have probably explained this before, but President Holland makes the analogy that we are literally disciples and representatives of Jesus Christ. That means that we will have to walk the path that he walked in order to really feel like his
Yesterday my companion and I visited a lady and we talked about some really terrible awful things that her family has had to go through. My companion brought up Hebrews 12: 21. It goes something like: "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." I'm trying to do that in my life right now and overcome evil by spreading this beautiful gospel message....
I just couldn't believe hearing some of the things that her family has had to go through and my heart literally ached for them. It is devastating! I can't even imagine all that the Savior would have had to go through to take on all of the pains and sicknesses of the people. I know that I am so incredibly grateful for Him and I don't think I will ever be able to wrap my head around it.
However, I am so incredibly grateful that I have been blessed to have been raised in this gospel and been sheltered by a lot of the things of the world. The second principle that the first lesson of the Restoration teaches is "The Gospel Blesses Families." I just can't even tell you how true that is. Thank you family for helping me grow up in a wholesome and uplifting environment. I am so grateful for the gospel and all that it has done to bless my life and change me to become who I am and what I know.
I hope yall have a great Easter this year, but I hope you can always remember and reflect on the Beautiful Atonement that we have!
My companion and I were talking about how there is literally no sense of time here in the mission. I was thinking about how fast and about how slow the time has gone by here these past two months. Sometimes I feel like I have forever to go left, but then I'm so surprised by how fast these two months have gone by. However I do know that despite how fast this time has been moving I am completely unprepared to come home anytime soon. I feel like if I came home today that there are a lot of really good things that have happened to me and that I have had a great mission experience so far. I feel like I have changed a lot and I feel like I have learned a lot.... but I definitely know that I am not who I can be by the end of my mission. I see that I have immense strides of growth to make here and I'm excited for what the Lord has in store for me! I am humbled everyday and I think I understand the magnitude of my call as a missionary more and more everyday.
I love it here in Manchester Tennessee. I feel so blessed to have had all of the experiences that I have had. Don't think it has been completely easy for me, because I would be worried if the mission was too easy-- that would mean I wasn't working. But I really do love it here. I feel like I have seen numberless tender mercies and I feel so blessed to have met the people I have met. I'm so scared that I will be transferred from here soon and I don't want to! I feel like there couldn't be a better fit for me here! But I know that the Lord has a plan for everything and that He will continue to bless me and provide me with opportunities to open my heart out to Tennessee even more.
Have a great Easter! I know you will all experience a void without me, but I guess we have Easter 2015?! haha, that is so far away. But yall are great and I hope I can continue to hear from yall more. (And I'm going to call Cougar out right now because I haven't heard from him for the longest...)
Que Dios Les Bendigas!
Con Amor,
Hermana Rich
P.S. I know you probably noticed that I said yall a couple of times at the beginning of my email, but I can't not stop saying it. It has been engraved in my vocabulary. I'm working on getting "I reckon" and "I'm a fixin," but I'm sure that will come with time.

20 March 2013

Semana 9--Vision

This quote that I have included below is called the Vision of the South. I think it was said in the seventies, maybe? But it is something we recite often in our mission and it has become really special to me while I've been out.
"Make no small plans: They have no magic to stir men's souls. This is the vision I have for the South. I beleive that one day the South will baptize more people into the Church than all other English-speaking missions in the world together. There are great hosts of marvelous Baptists, members of the Church of Christ, Methodists, and Catholics who are honorable people, and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and love him. As they see the church veering off to the right or the left of thsoe basic teachings, they will begin to search for truth; and as pivotal teachers come into the church and have influence they will see the time when we baptize hundreds and thousands, tens of thousands, in your day you will see a million members of the church in the South. There will be temples plural in the South States. What a great call you have to serve with these marvelous people. The missionaries love the South. We are making great strides and expect to continue."
Vaugn J. Featherstone
I think in my email last week I wrote that there are churches everywhere here. Everyone we talk to we can ask them if they are religious and they will tell us that they beleive in God and that they beleive in Christ. It's funny because a lot of people here are really friendly and most of them have invited us in or have rescheduled times with us and they love to talk about Jesus Christ. I think it is a good way for us to really get in the door. I'm excited for the work out here in Manchester Tennessee. In the mission we talk a alot about vision and how important it is to have vision. If we have vision and work toward that vision God will bless us and endow us with power. I know that there are miracles in store for this area and that Hermana Smith and I need to make sure we keep up our vision for the Manchester area and our vision for the South. Every week in our emails our mission president asks us to share miracles that happened to us. I chose to share this miracle and I hope that yall enjoy it because it really has strengthened my testimony about finding and how Heavenly Father feels about His children.
The other day Hermana Smith and I were tracting and the Elders drove by and saw us. Since we are Spanish missionaries, they texted us that there was a Hispanic down the road, also walking, and that we should try and catch up to him. Minutes later we noticed him in his blue plaid shirt and we thought about catching up to him, but he was just too far ahead. Eventually he turned a corner and we went off to try and catch a couple of appointments we had set up.When our appointments fell through we decided to try another investigator's house and see if he was home. Turned out he wasn't home, but someone else, a guy named Leo. We started talking to Leo and shared the message of the Restoration. He listened, but didn't appear to be too interested, but he thanked us for coming and we left him with a prayer and assured him that our Heavenly Father is aware of him and is looking out for him. As we were leaving I turned back around, and guess what I noticed. Leo was wearing a blue plaid shirt! He was the guy we were following earlier! Hermana Smith and I looked at each other with awe! That experience was a testimony to us that Heavenly Father was truly aware of Leo and that He wanted us to find him and share a message of His love for him. We don't think we'll ever see Leo again, but that was a testimony to us that God is aware of His children and He places people in our path as missionaries. I hope that I can always be aware of who Heavenly Father wants us to teach and testify to, and that we don't ever pass up the opportunity to share the Gospel if we can. I feel blessed that Heavenly Father chose to put Leo in our path again and that we were able to share a message with him. Who knows if Heavenly Father will give us those kinds of opportunities twice, like He did with Leo. I know that one of the worst possible feelings when we return back to Heaven is to have someone come up to us and ask us, "Why didn't you share the message of the Gospel with me when you had the chance? I was there, waiting to hear the Gospel, and you passed me by."
I hope and pray this week that our eyes will be more open and aware to sharing the gospel with all those that we can because we may never know what Heavenly Father has in store for them.

11 March 2013

Semana 8 Manchester

Things I have seen on the side of the road while tracting: toilets, ottomon, tv, grill, cigarette butts and other unmentionables.
I have been to a KFC that had a signed picture from the "Colonel"
I have come to love Southern phrases like "I reckon" or "I'm a fixin to..."
I went to a ward/branch party with an Elvis impersonator, an Abraham Lincoln look alike, and an Abraham Lincoln look alike who also did MAGIC TRICKS? Don't beleive me? I have a picture for proof
My companion and I tracted in some trailer parks the other week and it was rather a comical experience....
During weekly planning my companion and I watched the mailman pass our house FIVE TIMES!!! And we didn't get any mail... it was kind of a funny experience though
I have a list of Spanish chistes that I inherited from the MTC and they have been a success with the Spanish families I have met
I have learned that Walmarts are tacky everywhere in the USA...
I have learned that there are those "usuals" during fast and testimony meeting that all of the members know about
I have learned that it is pretty easy to gain weight out in here the South because people LOVE TO FEED YOU
I have learned that the RS president pretty much has the "know" on everything that is going on in the ward.
I have learned that living in a small town most stores will close by about 7:00 or 8:00
I have seen John Deere tractors lined up for almost miles
I have learned that because most families don't want to feed you spagetti (assuming that is the typical missionary dinner staple), they will ask you what other families have fixed for you and then try and base the meal they send to you off of that.... but then there are always those families that still feed you spagetti...
I have learned that members will are blessed for helping the missionaries and I have learned that I am so grateful for the members who have been so generous to us out here.
I have learned that dogs are one of your worst enemies on the mission.... the other day we had a dog pee on our car... that was funny.
I have learned that there are some really kind random strangers who will want to give you rides here... I have also learned that my companion is open to these kind random strangers giving us rides... but we have used our judgement pretty well.
I have learned that sharing a car with the Elders in your area and when you companion doesn't have a bike that you end up doing a lot of walking.... we have built up legs of steel.
I have learned that 15 year old boys in young men have a little bit of a fancy with the sister missionaries but are too afraid to really actually talk to us. Instead they like to whisper things when we walk past them like "Te Amo!"....
I have learned that almost every Spanish family will invite you in to their house becuase they are just that friendly.
I have probably seen over 50 churches on the side of the streets here, but I think that makes me just that much more excited for those to be LDS churches soon!
Time is about to expire! But I love you all and I appreciate your prayers!!
Hermana Kristy Rich

04 March 2013

Semana 6,7

Benjamin Erastus Rich, one of the most successful missionaries of the Church, served a two-year mission to Great Britain from 1881 to 1883.  He also served as president of the Southern States Mission from 1898 to 1902 and again from 1903 to 19-3, and as president of the Eastern State Mission from 1908 to 1914.  He authored numerous booklets, tracts, and pamphlets which received wide distribution throughout the Church and the world.  After completing his missionary service in Great Britain, Elder Rich returned to Utah with 70 immigrating saints in his charge.  President Joseph F. Smith said of him, “His character stood our bright and clear in defense of truth.  He was fearless of the world and opposition.  He was a stalwart defender of the faith, a friend of mankind, faithful to duty and capable to perform it.”

Goodness Gravy! Hey y'all! (As well as my Spanish accent I am also working on my Southern....)
So my first area is Manchester, Tennessee. When I met with my mission president President McKee last Monday night the first thing he told me after I prayed was "Sister Rich, the Lord has revealed to me the area where you are supposed to serve." My heart dropped. I wasn't expecting him to know that so soon! When he started talking my eyes filled with tears as I realized this was where I was supposed to be. I'll admit that before the MTC I felt like I was kind of walking in darkness not really understanding what I was getting myself into on a mission.... then I absolutely LOVED the MTC, but it was something that I knew would be a temporary place.... but when President started talking to me and told me that he already knew where I would be serving I was blown away with the spirit. I think it was a warm welcoming to Heavenly Father that this is where I am supposed to be. When I talked to you on the phone last week I told you that I was suprisingly pretty calm considering that I was headed to my mission. That feeling continued the whole day and when I got off of the plane and headed out to baggage claim I was welcomed by the classy Nashville airport and a man sitting and playing Christian songs on the guitar softly. It was perfect and proved to me that I really was in the music capitol of the country.
Well, like I told you my first area is Manchester, Tennessee. You should look it up online because it is famous for Bonnaroo---the modern day Woodstock. Bonnaroo will be in June, so I doubt that I will still be here by then, but I heard that they usually like to take the missionaries out because it gets pretty rowdy. Anyways, Manchester has about 17,000 people in it and the members here have been super welcoming to us. There are 4 sets of missionaries (a senior couple, english elders, english sisters, and us spanish sisters) serving under the Tullahoma ward. We are covering three areas and my mission president has a vision that we can eventually create a spanish branch here in Manchester and another english ward here in Manchester. I have faith that it can happen, but it will take a lot of work. My companion and I are doing a lot of less active work as well as the english elders who are serving here in Manchester. We haven't had a lot of opportunities to use our Spanish yet. This is actually the first time in several years that there have been elders here in Manchester and they have NEVER had Spanish missionaries here before so we definitely have a lot on our plates. We have a completely new area book! We haven't had too many opportunites to use our Spanish yet, but I definitely hope that changes. Funny story though, we have tracted out TWO families that speak Mezteca (sp?)--- a dialect from the Mountains of Mexico? We don't think that that is a coincidence... hopefully we can find a way to share the gospel with them.
I don't have much time, but I am making a list of all the funny experiences that I have had out here in Manchester. I am also making a list of all the "milagritos" or tender mercies that we are experiencing. I hope I can write them all next week. :) I hope you enjoy all the pictures and sorry I don't have more to say about here for now.
Something I would love for yall to do is PLEASE sincerely share the gospel at home. Please send some referrals in or invite others to church. Something that my mission president said is that for every good referral we give to another area we will receive back in greater or of equal quality. I beleive that is the same for what you do as a family back home. I feel like I will be blessed for your missionary efforts.
Pray for better weather for us! The weather has been a bit of a downer for the work. But really, it is beautiful here! I can't wait for things to start blossoming!
Thank you for all of your love and support
Con Amor,
Hermana Rich