Monday, August 31, 2015

The Blessing- Week 5

Wow life is so busy and so good here!!!
Thank you for the letters some of you have sent, it really means a lot!:) I love to hear about all the great things happening back at home! So many of you are doing so many great things and I truly love getting to hear about those things and just how well life is going-The Lord sure does bless us in all things and in so many more ways than we can count.

The blessings and miracles are almost overwhelming here!! Everyday we see miracles and are so blessed by our Father in Heaven. We do a lot of service every week but this week it seemed like we did just a bit more than usual! For Pday we usually do something really fun and last week we went, as a district, to this place called Topgolf thanks to one of the members in the ward and had a blast there! Today we are going bowling! Missionary work comes in so many more ways than just knocking doors and giving a really serious lesson every time we see people. We got to go with a member family this week with an investigator and we played some basketball and volleyball and this week we are going to a member's house with an investigator, Elaine (She is so amazing and sweet, I love her to death! She is 70 and has a couple health issues right now so please pray for her.) and we are going to watch Meet the Mormons! 
So while we do some of these things, some of the members and investigators have taken pictures and sent them to my mom or just while we are having dinners and what not they take pictures and send them and that is why in many of those pictures we are in more casual clothing! We are in service clothes a lot helping with people's yards (On Saturday we had an entire service day and we will do it again this week) and we have been fishing a couple times with investigators. 
So, as you can tell, missionary work encompasses a lot of different things and of course we share testimony and give lessons as often as we can and when the Spirit directs but we also build relationships and do a lot of fellow shipping! Member missionary work is the most important form of missionary work, without a doubt. Missionaries come and go and can teach the lessons the way they need to be taught but the members are the people that have the real influence on others by being their friends sincerely and inviting others to activities of recreation and spiritual. Our ward does an amazing job of that here and as missionaries, we are sooo thankful for that!

I still have not cooked one single night! We are fed dinner every night and even many days we are given lunches so we are always being fed by many people! We are always taken really really well care of<3   I don't have any problems with laundry because there is a member in the ward that does it for us every week! (I might be done for when I leave this ward... I'm gonna end up doing laundry and cooking on my own..)

As a zone, we will get to go to the Temple this week!!:) September 2nd! I cannot wait to go do that!!!

Paul will be baptized this Saturday!!!:D Satan sure does work hardest on those trying to do the most right. Paul is in many ways like Joseph Smith in trying to figure out what religion to join. He had a very similar experience this week when he kneeled to pray to receive an answer to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. And since he received his answer that he needs to be baptized he has gone through all sorts of trial and adversity this week so please keep him in your prayers as well! He is an amazing guy and we are so excited for him to get baptized this week and receive the pouring of blessings from heaven! 

I am really excited for this week. We have so many great things going on and I can't wait for it all! 

It is so great to hear about everything back home! Good luck to everyone who is just going back to school, I wish you a great school year! Congrats to Skyline football with their win this week! I can't wait to hear how the season goes for you this year! I wish I could really express my love, excitement and appreciation for all of you and all the people here! My life has been filled with good people and I am truly blessed beyond belief.

Have a great week and do something good for another! 
Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Monday, August 24, 2015


Elder Ricks told me today he has not been very good at taking pictures.  I told him he needs to get better :-)  He must be having some fun today. I am still so grateful for the random texts that I get.  

The Blessing Week 4

One Month!!! I am doing really well!
Where has the time gone?!  I can't believe it has already been one month since I left. We have been really busy and accomplished a lot already which sometimes makes it seem like maybe it has been longer than a month but at the same time, it feels like just a couple days ago I was saying my goodbyes to the loved ones and then walking into the MTC. I have truly been blessed!
This has been an amazing week! Our area seems to be doing as good about as it ever has been which makes me so excited and happy! The ward is amazing, all of the people are so kind, our lessons have been going great, our investigator poll has increased, and we just got a text this morning that one of our investigators, received his answer after years of investigating!  We had a really fun/cool ward party at a little water park this weekend as a back to school gig and it was so fun! Families brought friends/investigators and we even had I think 4 or 5 of our close investigators go. I have really high hopes/expectations for the Edmond 3rd area during my time here and am so excited the work is hastening on and at such a rapid pace! We are seeing the fruits of our labors and have been truly blessed by Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

Paul's girlfriend is a member of the Church and has two little boys (she actually goes to the temple quite frequently) and he has a little girl! He comes to church every week and sits in the Gospel Principles class that Elder Balch and I teach.  We have only actually taught him once but he has been investigating for several years and has refused to be baptized until he knew for himself (which is exactly what we want all of our investigators to do.) Anyways, we woke up at 6:30 this morning to a text from him that said something like this: "It has been a rough and rocky road but after a long night of no sleep, lots of prayer, and crying, it took me to just hold the Book of Mormon and I received the revelation that I need to be baptized." OH MY GOSH!!! WHAT A WAY TO WAKE UP RIGHT?! This made Elder Balch and I soo happy and excited! Our hearts truly rejoiced exceedingly because of him and this revelation/decision to finally be baptized! And it really goes to show me that there is a time and a place for all things because Elder Balch and I really haven't done a ton in helping him with this decision, he had many missionaries before us who did a lot more work, but when God has prepared you to receive the gospel, boy are you ready to receive the gospel! 

We have another investigator that we have been working a lot more with who has been investigating the Church for about 14 years. Her husband has received his endowment in the temple, her oldest son has been baptized and her only other kid is going to be baptized in September. She has had callings/responsibilities in the Church and attends church every week and knows this is the Church she wants to be associated with but won't be baptized or anything until she knows for sure that this is the one true Church on the earth. I really think she could have an experience like Paul and I look forward to building a stronger relationship with her and really just growing to love her more. I know that someday she will accept the answer that this is the Restored Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today, we just have to help her see the answer to that prayer that I believe she has already been given! But again, all things will be done in the Lord's time!
There are so many stories and people I wish I could go into detail on because they mean so much to me but here is a little background on just two of the wonderful people we are working with. Hopefully I can share more every week! I am truly loving the people and the great work we have been given to labor. There is so much good here in the area between the people and the work and I look forward to only progressing and growing to become better myself and assist in helping the people better and this area better before I am due to leave.
Last week I challenged everyone to read the Book of Mormon before Christmas and if you can, try to look at it from this perspective: "How the gospel of Jesus Christ blesses our lives and makes us happy."
I have loved looking at the Book of Mormon through this angle because the answers are riddled all throughout so I am easily pulling out references, examples, and comparisons for myself and our companionship and even our investigators. I just finished 1 Nephi 10  and have already seen so many parallels and had so many inspiring thoughts of how living the gospel will bless our lives and how it doesn't just make us happy, but our family and friends and all others we come in contact with! We see this in Nephi's life with the influence he has on his family, Zoram, and Ishmael and his family. I have learned so many things but to put it all in a nut shell, the greatest lesson I have learned thus far is that: We must identify the will of God and His commandments and as we submit our will to His and are obedient to those commandments exercising faith in Him, and by His power, through our faith, all things can and will be done because he has already prepared the way for us and will take care of us just as Moses and Abraham were taken care of and just as Nephi was taken care of. All he had to do was see the will of God, to leave Jerusalem, go back to receive the plates of brass, go back again for the family of Ishmael, etc, etc, and as he willingly submitted to the will/His commandments, he was led, taken care of, delivered, and blessed in every way even though he had some affliction. I wish I could share everything I have learned because it just amazes me how much the Gospel truly can and will bless our lives as we live it!!!
I'm sorry for the novel but God, these people, this work, this gospel, it means so much to me and I want to share it with everyone I can!!! Thank you for the love and support, I love to hear form you all and how life is going for you. Good luck to all with school starting back up! Those of you in sports or other extra curricular, I wish you best of luck and safety and parents, keep working hard and loving all. Don't die of the smoke filled air that I keep hearing about... Don't people know not to play with fire?! LOL jk, But really, be safe.

You are in my thoughts and prayers, may God ever bless you in your lives and through your endeavors,
Elder Ricks

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Blessing- Week 3

What's up Idahomies? I love to hear from you all and just see the blessings in your lives and how happy everyone is and all the great times! You are all in my prayers and it is so fulfilling to see each of those prayers answered every week. 
My Oklahomies are doing super great too!! Everyday is filled with meeting and talking to lots of people and I can't express how much I enjoy that time. I grow to love these people so much in just 30 minutes to an hour of talking with them!! Whether they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or a member of another church they are all so kind and inviting and wonderful. I have still yet to have a day where I wasn't fed by a family and not all of the families that have fed us are even LDS. I can't say enough about them, I just love them so much.
It was really cool to have zone pday last Monday and to have a dart war then play a cool rendition of dodgeball. Then my district went to Eskimo Joe's, which is a huge tourist attraction for food in OK, and we had an STM (Specialized Training Meeting) following dinner. 
Elder Balch and I have spent the majority of our time with less-active, inactive, and part member families since we have been here and I love to be with them and they are so kind and I love them but it makes me so sad. When they are baptized and living the gosepl everything just seems to go better, they are happier, their family relationships are better and they just love life but when they aren't living the principles of the Gospel their life starts to turn down and things begin to get so much harder.-That is probably the hardest thing for me to see. They know the truth and have experienced the joy but have turned away and it makes my heart ache to see them go through turmoil. 
We had a really really cool experience this week though! We had a lemonade stand on a corner and just gave out free lemonade to anyone that would take it! We, being missionaries, of course gave handouts with our phone numbers on them and even gave out copies of the Book of Mormon! We really got to visit with a lot of people and it was just a really neat missionary experience for me. 
The work is hastening and I am so glad/blessed to be apart of it! Every single person we meet and every single house we go to in every single day has a story and I wish I could tell you all of it because it really just makes me so happy and I love it but I don't want to bore you anymore and I'm out of time so I am satisfied with saying everything is going great and I love to be a missionary in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints serving the people of Oklahoma.-What a privilege and blessing!

Keep the faith and thank you for the prayers, they really are felt and answered.

Elder Ricks

Challenge: My district from the MTC decided we wanted to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year but we wanted to do it with a specific question/focus: How does the Gospel of Jesus Christ bless your life and make you happy?(As you live it of course) I am so excited about this and I hope you will join me in it!

PS: I love to hear from everyone and would love to receive a letter throughout the week!
1700 Kickingbird Apartment 1753
 Edmond Oklahoma, 73034

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Another picture!

Not even 12 hours after the first text and picture I got another one from another family!  What a blessing to be able to meet the people Elder Ricks is serving!  It makes my heart so happy to hear the nice things people are saying, and to see how much people really do care and how thoughtful they are!
Elder Balch and Elder Ricks
I wanted to send you a pic of your sweet son!  My son comes home from the Edmonton Canada mission in two weeks!  I remember my heartache when he first left.  I just wanted you to know Elder Ricks is happy and smiling and has made a great first impression!!!  Let me know if you ever need me to get in touch with him for you.  We will take good care of him!!!   

First Text from Member Family

August 12th

Today was Todd's (Elder Ricks' dad) Birthday.  He received a picture and a text from a family Elder Ricks had been with.  He had them send this picture and text to his dad and boy oh boy it was the best present ever for him!

Your sweet Elder ate with us tonight and helped my husband out with something he couldn't have done on his own.  Not only that, but he was the first to start doing the dishes after dinner.  Good kid!  Happy Birthday today from your Elder!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Questions and Answers

Where are you in Oklahoma?
-I am in Edmond Oklahoma! It is the wealthiest area in the great OK so everyone around here is rich and has a big/nice house! But it makes it harder to find new contacts because of the pride cycle I guess. Everyone here is religious so they lean unto their own understanding plus they all know the gospel already from their own church attendance and believe in Christ/God and because life is good and they are successful it is harder for them to see why they would need the Church to be happier in this life and why it essential for them to be apart of it for eternal salvation in the next life. I will be in this area for at least 12 weeks. Transfers are 6 weeks long and you are trained for two transfers! So I will be with Elder Balch for all of that time here in Edmond, the Edmond 3rd Ward.
I am at the library in Guthrie right now but this won't be where I usually write from!
How is your apartment?
-Haha the apartment is good but it is a little trashy, I have some work to do to clean it up so that it is a little better/nicer for the next guy. And our neighbors smoke and I'm pretty sure they smoke pot too so we can smell that every time we walk in but it is okay. There are worse places and worse apartments so I am very blessed!:)
What was your first impression of President Walkenhorst (besides that he is tall?)  Are you still intimidated by him?
-So basically he is one of the coolest guys ever! We got off the plane and walked around the corner and he, standing at 7 feet tall, basically bent in half, gave every single one of us a hug! (Except for the Sisters, for obvious reasons...)
He is really funny and highly intelligent but especially in the Gospel! I really like him!
Where did all 30 of you new missionaries stay that first night you were there?
-Well he had to interview all of us so a lot of us he interviewed at the church until about 9:15 but not all of us were able to be interviewed so those of us that needed to still be interviewed stayed at the mission home that night so we could be interviewed (Where President and his wife live.) and that is also where the Sisters stayed. So there were like 16 of us at the mission home and then everyone else was split and went to stay where the Assistants to the President stay or with other missionaries in other places. We all met back up the next morning to finish orientation and then met our trainer/companion and learned where we were going!
How is your companion? Tell me about him!
-He is awesome. As soon as I was paired with him everyone started telling me how great he is so that made me even more excited and he really is amazing!! I will be his last companion of the mission because you spend your first two transfers with your trainer and this happens to be his last two transfers before his time is up and he goes home.
He was converted at 17 years old and decided to go to school at BYUI where all of his roomates were Return Missionaries and he really liked them and decided he wanted to be like them so he decided he was going to serve! His family didn't like that at all. He hasn't had really any support from his family and was actually kicked out of the house for 3 months after he was baptized. And he hasn't told me this yet but someone told me that his parents sent him some keys to a brand new like $30,000 car or something and told him it was his if he would come home and he sent the keys back. When he left he didn't know the difference between a bishop and stake president so he has learned a ton out on the mission! He also said he was really proud when he first got out and everything was just really hard for him and everything was just about him and he just really struggled with everything and everyone but you wouldn't be able to tell that if you met him now at all. He is Amazing. He works really hard which is just my style and I have really enjoyed the last week being his greenie. He is doing pretty good here and I think he is really glad to have me as a companion because I love to work hard and stuff and he hasn't had that in his last few companions so he hasn't been able to leave the apartment as much or do nearly as much missionary work. He said we have done more missionary work in the last 5 days than probably the last two sets of missionaries because pretty much nothing has been done since he left this area a little over a year ago.  It is just unbelievable to me that that much time and work was wasted but now it is time to pick things up a bit and I can't wait to do it!
Have you been riding your bike?
-I haven't been on it one time. But it is a really nice bike and I actually look forward to getting to ride it!! My companion has a flat tire and for a medical reason isn't supposed to be riding a bike right now so we have driven or walked everywhere.
How are you handling the heat?
-I walk outside and I feel like I am hitting a wall and then I take a few more steps and it's like I'm taking another shower. But other than sweating a lot, it really hasn't been a problem at all! I have definitely been blessed to withstand the heat by Heavenly Father during my time here in the mission because I feel like I could be in the heat, serving/proselyting, all day here and I would be okay! It has been between 102 and 107 degrees for most of the week and on Saturday Elder Balch and I actually walked 10.5 miles throughout the day in the sun!
Did you get your packages from grandma and grandpa and us?
-I did get the package from them and I loved it!!! I also loved the cards from the cousins:) And the letter from grandma with the notes from our FHE was great.-I have the best grandparents, cousins and family in the world. I don't know where I would be without you and I love you all so much!
Your package is supposed to come today!
What is your new address so we can send things directly to you?
I'll have to run out and get our address because I don't know it yet. I am actually already on an exchange with an elder from my district in the area next to ours, Guthrie! So Elder Balch isn't here and I am not at our apartment to receive the package right now or tell you what the address is.-Loser-I know. Haha but I will work on it and I'll send you a letter home before next week!
Have you had to fix any of your own meals?  Do you go to members houses for dinner?
-I have not fixed one single meal. A member has fed us every single dinner, three lunches, and one breakfast. The members in the ward here are amazing and so kind! Everyone is kind for that matter. Even if they aren't interested in the gospel they invite you in, give you a drink, talk with you, and are just so kind and genuine!! A few years ago the Church made a video about this ward because of how great they are with missionary work and fellow shipping and everything. I am just so blessed and can't express it enough! The tender mercies of the Lord are all around us and His hand is in all things but not only is it a little easier to see more of the blessings as a missionary, but I think the amount of blessings given are more as a missionary! Every house who answers will give us a water bottle or a glass of water or lemonade and many offer a snack and some offer rides and they are just so thoughtful and kind and giving. There was one lady who honked and waved in a red truck as we were walking on Saturday and no more than 5 minutes later a lady pulled up on the side of the street with her son in the passenger seat and she told us to get in.-It was the same lady from the red truck. She raced home to pick up her son so that we could get in the truck with her so she could drive us. Another family saw us walking and honked and waved and yelled at us to come get in and go to lunch with them! Like this stuff happens every day, all the time and I have no idea what I did to deserve any of it.-Heavenly Father is way to good to me and blesses me with more than I know what to do with.

Life is great here in Oklahoma and my time has been spent:
talking with members and their families-(also includes part member, inactive, and less-active families)
eating-(I'm trying really hard to diet well so that I don't gain weight...) serving people-(Helping people move, doing dishes, getting mail, little things like that)
and tracting/talking to investigators/giving lessons!
I am loving it and am so grateful for the love and support. May we all find the joy in the little things, keep our sense of humor, love life, acknowledge the hand of God in all things, and keep the faith to endure to the end.

With love and best wishes,
Elder Ricks

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I'm Here

Howdy ya'll,
I don't actually know if they talk like that, I haven't heard anyone say ya'll one time and nobody has an accent so I could be coming home the same way I left which is pretty legit. Also, 7' is 7' and my mission president is 7' which is really stinkin tall!!! We walked out of the plane and got hit by the heat and humidity but I actually think it is going to be okay. The Lord definitely blesses us. 
It was so great to talk to you today and I can't wait to go out and get my new companion and area tomorrow and begin serving!!!
Waking up at 2:45 a.m. and getting only about 45 minutes of sleep on the plane leaves for an exhausted Elder Ricks. So I'm gonna try and get to bed as early as possible so goodnight:)
Elder Ricks
Elder Ricks with his Mission President (President Walkenhorst) and his wife!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

First Hand written letter!!

August 3, 2015

Hello Family!
I sure miss you all but the work is pressing on and keeping me really busy and I love getting emails and letters from all of you; brings a smile to my face and joy to my soul.  I'm so glad to hear everything has been going well and that everyone is staying busy doing good things!
I've learned so much since being here and the MTC is great but I'm so ready to get out of here and serve!  The days are so long and often kinda blend together.  It feels like I've been here for weeks but it has flown by!  I think a lot of it has to do with how much you learn.  It's like drinking out of a fire hose.  It comes pouring out and you try to soak it all in but it has so much power and there is so much coming at you!
It's been really fun to see so many people I know! :) Elder Hinkley, Elder Wright, Elder Yeck, Elder Grimaud and a Sister who was in my first EFY group!  Then, I met the lady EFY counselor I had when I went to EFY at BYU, so that's been really fun!
The tender mercies of the Lord abound around us and it wasn't that I didn't get them before but since leaving I have really come to see the Lord's hand more in the little things and have come to appreciate them more and are able to spend more time on my knees for more important things than I often did before.  I was caught up in some repitition but I am getting better and I can see the blessings of prayer all the time, especially now!
So I love my companion Elder Brisk, but my absolute favorite is Elder Ludlow!  He is so funny and we just get along really well!  I don't have any problems with anyone and get along with them all but he and I have become way good friends!  He's the one I wrestled with and we just make fun inside jokes and memories and I like him!
So on our third day we received our first "Investigator" and have had four lessons with him!  It started out really rough but we are getting the hang of it and learning how to invite the Spirit and how to teach by it and how to commit him.  (His name is "Loren")  He is actually our class teacher but plays the role of Loren as an investigator and it really is very real!  We have grown to love Loren (Elder Brisk and I, it's a class thing) and want to help him!  We think we can commit him to baptism today and when we first started with him he didn't believe in God so we are really excited about that!

We have the best family in the world!
Elder Ricks

Tell Grandma and Grandpa Pincock I love them a ton and have really loved getting their letters!  Tell them I'm sorry I haven't been able to write back yet but I definitely love and appreciate the support and hearing how life is going for them.  They are amazing grandparents and wonderful examples and give so much love.  They are so nice in the letters, I love them!

Love you

July 28, 2015

Hello family, 
I love you so much and am so thankful for the kind notes and packages. I've loved it all. I can feel your love and prayers on my behalf and I hope you can feel mine in your busy lives! Looks like you've had a crazy busy week and I am so glad you are all safe and having fun!:)

My travel itinerary is: 
SLC->Minneapolis-> 2499 Delta 8:35am-12:04pm Aug. 4
Minneapolis->Oklahoma 5791 Delta 1:17pm-3:21pm Aug. 4
I will be able to call home three times that day, at the SLC airport to tell you I'm about to leave then when we have landed in Minneapolis and again when we get to Oklahoma!!:D (At least that's what Elder Brisk told me hahah)

I love my companion and my district!!! We have such a good time and I learn so much from them:) Everything is an adeventure and is hillarious and a memory/inside joke and when they say "lights out" at 10:30 it really means for my room, continue writing in your journal and have gospel discussions late into the night anytime from 11:00-12:00 hahaha oh man and I wrestled with Elder Ludlow yesterday and broke my watch and playing frisbee or volleyball with my district is fun. Idk we just have a lot of fun and I can't wait to get some pictures to upload so you can see my district!!:) 
There is so much I wish I could tell you but there isn't enough time! Just know I love you all so much. Keep the faith
With so much love,
Elder Ricks

PS: thanks for the letters and packages and I love you more than the MTC;) and Hawaii:)