Monday, September 28, 2015

The Blessing- Week 9

Hello everyone!

Of course it was another busy week and it flew by! I can't believe it is already that time to be writing this email again. Where does the time go? 

Anyway, life as a missionary is busy but this week the work seemed to go a little slower than what we have been experiencing. We get 1100 miles we can use to drive each month and we were so busy going all over the place at the beginning of the month that we have been needing to walk a lot more this week so that we don't run out of those miles. Because of that we weren't able to see quite as many people as usual but those we did get to see was great as always! We see miracles and blessings by the Lord's gracious hand each and everyday!

We had a ton of fun in Stillwater for Zone P-day and a very insightful, spiritual, and powerful STM (Specialized Training Meeting). Following the training that night, I went on exchanges with Elder Palmer, one of our zone leaders, in Stillwater. It was so cool to see the work and progress of the work in another area of the mission. I got back to Edmond on Wednesday morning. I loved the exchange and being with an amazing missionary, I learned so much and am excited to apply it to my work! 

I am Loving my companions, Elder Balch and Elder Williams! We have so much fun and work so well together! We were all a little questioning about a trio at the start but I don't think there is any question among us. I think we all love it and are excited for the remainder of the transfer with each other!

We just got a new Ward Mission Leader yesterday, Brother Orgil, and we are so excited to have him! The members play the most substantial and vital role in missionary work and we are so excited to work with him and the ward even more/better than ever before! The position of Ward Mission Leader, to me, is one of the greatest, funnest and most important positions in the Church but that's just my opinion. All of the positions are great:) Good things are happening but great things are about to happen I think. 

We get to see miracles and blessings every day! Last week we had an appointment with a less-active member. We went to see our investigators, Mary and her daughter, who is mentally handicapped, Eryn, just before going over to our appointment with Sister Jolly. Mary invited us to go to Eryn's softball game so we decided we should go and asked Sister Jolly if we could reschedule for the following evening. We got to the game and met so many wonderful families and mothers who were all talking to us and we have a lot of potential to work with these people also so that was a huge blessing! But what is more than that, we got a text from Sister Jolley a little bit into the game telling us that we couldn't reschedule and we needed to come over that night because she had a friend over who was asking all these questions about the Church. We got to see Eryn bat a couple times and she is just so sweet and cute! But anyways, we left the game a bit early to go over to Sister Jolley's house and ended up talking to this friend, Hattie, for about an hour. She was really interested, took a Book of Mormon, we had a wonderful conversation talking about her and about what we believe and set an appointment to watch Meet the Mormons with her and to continue teaching her. AMAZING RIGHT??

We haven't been able to make any contact with three of our recent converts in two weeks to check up on them, see how they are doing, and give them a brief lesson. We felt a bit anxious about this because they are such good friends to us and we were worried about how they are doing so we prayed and asked to be able to see them soon within the next week. (Our focus this week is on less-active members, inn-active members, and recent converts). So of course, about 10 minutes later we are asked by Brother Paul Vorel to come do service with him the next morning! As we were studying the next morning we got a call from our other two recent converts (a mother and a daughter), asking us to come over and give the daughter a blessing before she goes into rehab. We were able to see every single one of them and check up on how they are doing the very day after we prayed and had an amazing day.

These are just two miracles. Things like this happen to us nearly every single day. The Lord is so good to us and blesses us bounteously!

I am soo excited for conference this weekend and hope each and every one of you get to see it! Not only do we get to hear from our beloved Prophet and those Apostles we have all grown to love and admire but we will be able to hear from Three new Apostles that have been selected by divine selection and inspiration. I love to hear the words of the Lord through our Prophet and all of the Apostles. We are so blessed to live in these Latter Days! 

I love to hear from you all and pray for you each day. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers on my behalf. Heavenly Father does answer those prayers and it is very apparent to me in the work we are provided with.

I love you all. Have a blessed and wonderful week!

Keep the faith,

Elder Ricks

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Blessing- Week 8

While life seems to get busier and busier for all of you, it also gets busier and busier for me! I can't believe it is already this time of the week again. There is just so much going on all the time and so many amazing people we get to see, talk to, and serve everyday! The days and weeks seem to be blending together so I apologize if I ever repeat anything...

This week was the beginning of the new transfer and we gained a third companion, Elder Williams! He was really excited, we were really excited, the members have been really excited, I think Heavenly Father is really excited, everyone is really excited! We hit things right off and it really has been a great week and he has been a wonderful addition to our little army:) 

I am really bad at playing tennis which is so exciting!! When I started I was really really awful so improvement is being made:D Elder Balch and I have been waking up a little early for the last few weeks and going to the middle school to do our workout at the tennis court and then we play a few games for our exercise every morning. It has been a lot of fun and it is amazing what a really good and Fun workout at the beginning of your day does to you. The whole day goes by even faster and even better; studies are more effective, we are more awake and alert throughout the day, and somehow we are happier too! Don't just do things because you are "supposed to", do them and make them fun because you want to. That is the difference.

So many miracles happened this week and I wish I could tell you about them all but I think this story may bring a heart warming smile to your face:)

This week was the grand opening of Cabela's and Bob wanted to take us to get us our own fishing stuff so that we don't take and lose all of his stuff when we fish at his pond because we seem to lose his hooks and bait every time we go... So we were excited to go with him and got to his house at noon like he asked us too. He was asleep in his chair at the kitchen table and it did not look comfy at all... Anyways, we woke him up and waited in his car while he got ready. When he came out he had a newspaper article that he put on my lap. It was about this medical procedure to preserve someone's brain so that when technology and science advance they can "resurrect" this ladies mind who died of cancer. He wants to have this done to him when he dies so that he can have his brain preserved.. It is a great opportunity to talk about the Plan of Salvation more in depth because idk why you would want your brain to be put in a refrigerator when you are going to be resurrected anyways thanks to Jesus Christ!
Anyways, on the way to Cabela's Bob starts to fall asleep again so we kinda don't know what to do and wake him up and he asks us to tell him stories about our girlfriends and that would keep him awake. Well Elder Williams tried a story and he was still nodding off so then I started blurting out every story from my life I could think of about breaking my arm and camping and cliff jumping and all sorts of stuff right? Well he is still falling asleep so in my stories I would have to incorporate his name in a bit of a shout and would say stuff like... "I was laying on the ground with my..Bob!..arm out to the side and I thought my hand was under my..Keep Driving, Bob!..bottom because the nerves were messed up so I asked my..Speed up Bob! if he could move my hand out from under bum and he said..You can't go 35 on the highway Bob!..that my hand wasn't under by bum so I looked at it and realized he was right. We went to the hospital and got x-rays and it turns out..Stay in your lane Bob! humerus was broken in half with a hair line fracture but I didn't think it was funny at all.Bob Keep your eyes open!..

Anyway, we had quite the journey to get there and missed some turns and turned into an ambulance only entrance thinking we could get to the Cabela's parking lot from there but it was gated off so he was just going to pop the curb and drive on the sidewalk/grass to get to the parking lot because there was a lot of traffic behind us so it would be easier to do that than to wait and back up back to the road and anyways it was just the funniest thing getting there!!

We finally make it in looking at each other and thanking Heavenly Father we are still alive and like kissing the ground, the whole 9 yards. So we go in with him and we got our fishing stuff and bought some things he needed and Elder Balch drove us home. One of the things we got as bait were these pink, plastic, fake worms and the package said something like "get's the fish biting like it's bubble gum" or something like that saying bubble gum. So he is looking at it and says "Oh guys, this ain't nothing but bubble gum!" Elder Balch tells him that it's not, it is fish bait and he doesn't believe it so he opens it up and takes a bite out of it and and rolled the window down and spits it out saying "That tastes like a pig private part." and we were just dying of laughter and amazement! He wasn't feeling very good that day, needless to say but it was just hilarious and a highlight of the week!

We had a lot of spiritual miracles too, just so ya'll know:) But that is the basic theme of this last week! Just crazy, fun, hilarious, etc. The work is amazing and we are having a great time while doing it:)

Keep the faith, you are in my prayers,
Elder Ricks

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Blessing- Week 7

First Transfer is over...
How did that go by so fast?! I hope the mission doesn't come and go as quickly as that transfer. I could do this forever. I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for all of the blessings I have received and for the opportunity I have had to learn and grow and progress by His hand. He has provided me with tools, scriptures, talks, etc. and people to help me grow in the ways He wants and needs me to. I am so thankful for my Dad/Trainer/Comp./A-Best-Friend, Elder Balch. He is such an example to me and has been huge in my progress in becoming the missionary I need to be.

This last week we were able to see and help a lot of people but the highlights for me was the time we were able to spend with Bob and with Elaine, Carl, and Diane. Throughout the week we were able to help Bob with his burn piles and with cleaning up the yard and we had many conversations with him and he was asking us lots of great questions and we got to go fishing with him at his pond several times. We are growing such a strong relationship with him! We run up to him and give him a big ole' hug every time we see him and he just grins from ear to ear saying "My Mormon sons are here!:D" He is a great guy and calls us his best friends and Elder Balch and I can both say that he is one of our best friends too. 

We had a lesson with Elaine, Carl, and Diane last night. We actually hadn't planned to see them but felt prompted and went without preparing any real lesson. We shared a short Mormon message, "Earthly Father, Heavenly Father", which invited the Spirit and the Spirit took over from there. We talked about our relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and about the plan of salvation, also known as, the plan of happiness. One of them was weeping while the other two were beaming at the things the Holy Ghost was telling them and confirming to them. 

This last week was amazing! We are so busy ALL the time. In fact, we get calls everyday from people asking us to come over or to help them and as a result we will need to start telling people not to call us before 10:00 because we couldn't even do our studies for like 3 days this week... In our weekly planning we realized we have now over tripled our investigator pool from 3 or 4 to 12. We also have about 25 others in our ward who are inactive, less-active, or are facing hardships and are in need of some help that we need to see. This was definitely a very humbling experience for me and showed me how much Heavenly Father has blessed us with this transfer! There are times where you wonder if you are doing enough as a servant of the Lord and a representative of Jesus Christ but seeing all of the people we have to see and help strengthen helps me see we are doing enough and as such being incredibly blessed. The mission is definitely life changing and is for Everyone. Everyone will learn and grow on a mission and will help others along the way. If you are having questions if you should serve or not, choose to serve. Heavenly Father has a way of blessing us so much more than we can imagine or than we can deserve when we sacrifice a little to show our gratitude to Him. He takes care of our needs and the needs of our loved ones at home and provides a way while on the mission and when you return also. If ye have desires to serve, ye are called to the work.

I am learning so much from Nephi about blessings of living the gospel and how it makes us happy. Every chapter is riddled with blessing when they are not just obedient but obedient with real intent. There is a big difference.. Laman and Lemuel were obedient but their intent was not real or aligned with God. That was the difference between them and Nephi and that is why he was so blessed. I hope to continue to work on that attribute and strive to have perfected it by the end of my mission. Not to be or do everything perfectly but to give a perfect effort and have real intent when I am asked to do something by the Lord in any way, shape, or calling. 

All in all, I am loving every second I am out here and look forward to further growth. The work is pressing onward at a pace that is extremely difficult to keep up with but with Heavenly Father providing such an abundance of work, He will also provide a way to accomplish it all. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be here to learn how to live the celestial law to prepare myself but also to help others live the celestial law and prepare themselves also. 

Keep the faith, Brothers and Sisters,
Elder Ricks

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Blessing: Week 6

Holy cow life is just so crazy all the time! But it is a good crazy. I always love to read the emails and letters I get from everyone to hear about the good crazy lives you are living! I am just overwhelmed with the love of God. How can we be so blessed and loved? I am learning so much and realizing so much every day and every week! 

Elder Balch is amazing. I look up to him so much (even-though I am taller than him...) and he has been a great companion and trainer. He helps me in so many ways. We are becoming such good friends and it is crazy how the more we grow together and become more unified, the more success we have. Heavenly Father is way too good to us and we are undeserving of all the blessings we are being given but I think that just means we have to do what we read in hymn 219 "Because I have been given much I too must give." We need to give everything we can because we are given so much!

Paul's baptism was amazing! It made me so happy and the Spirit was soo strong. Satan was and even still is working really hard on him. He was put through the ringer last week but I know all of the prayers and thoughts helped so thank you for that! Please continue to keep him in your prayers. He is so awesome and he is going to advance in the Priesthood and in the gospel so much and that is why Satan is trying so hard to pull him down. He knows Paul's potential and doesn't want him to achieve it.

We have seen and found so many amazing people this last week! I just feel love, all the time! And exhaustion. We are always tired too.. But this last week we were able to commit 4 people to be baptized! We don't have a date set with any of them and are still helping them to feel of the Spirit more often and to pray to receive a for sure answer so that they can make that step and that commitment. We are so excited for them and love them to death! It is Elaine, Carl, Diane, and Jainee. Elaine is married to Carl and Diane is the sister of Elaine and lives with them in their house. They are all a bit older but some of the sweetest people and their eyes just burn with excitement and amazement whenever we are there and get to talk to them about the gospel! Jainee has been an investigator for about 14 years and is amazing. She is a much younger person but her husband is a member and attends the temple frequently and they have a 13 year old who is a member and is deacons quorum president and they have a 7 year old who will be baptized at the end of this month! She is so solid and is amazing.

Anyways, we got to help an investigator, Bob, burn some huge burn piles at his house and for a minute I thought my name was Thomas because that fire was starting to go out from the pile and burning grass and what not...I don't think it would've gone over well if we burned down the state of Oklahoma... But anyways, it was taken care of easy enough and we had fun! We have actually been fishing with him twice now in his pond and talk to him about the gospel and he loves the ideals of our church and I think he and his wife will really consider joining. They love the missionaries and think the members are great and the gospel just makes sense and they love the goodness of the Church. 

We got to see the BYU game at the Merkley's house this weekend! Paul, who was then a recent convert, and a couple non-members/investigators were present among other members so we got approval to go and be there and watch it with all of them! It was so great and my throat still hurts from the screams after the hail marry! What a thrill to be there with great people and to see the events of that game!

Lots of good things like that are happening for us and we are just so blessed! I truly am learning so much out here. I can't believe how fast the time is going by.. Please let me know if any of you have questions and I would love to answer them either individually or in my next group email! I love letters too and thanks to those that have sent them to me. They always uplift and brighten the day even more.

It is exhausting to be a missionary. You are so tired all the time and can't ever get caught up and there is just so much to do but it is a great work and so worth it to serve a mission! The feelings of love and joy that I have and get to feel everyday are priceless to me.

I wish you all an amazing week in all of your endeavors.
Keep the faith,  Elder Ricks

We got this picture last week with no explanation so we asked this week what they were doing and this was his response:
 Haha we went to the Dickman's to check up on them after fishing/visiting/teaching Bob who is their neighbor. They just built and moved into their house and so we've been helping them out with a lot of their stuff for that and they had to put a drain from the rain gutter, under the sidewalk path in the back yard to the lawn where the drain box was put so we were digging out dirt and mud under the sidewalk to put the plastic drain thing from the rain gutter under it and to the drain box hahah