Monday, November 30, 2015

The Blessing- Week 18

I'm sorry I didn't get an email out last week but this week had enough excitement to make up for last week too I think!! 

Thanksgiving Day
-Turkey Bowl there were about 70 guys that showed up to play so we split into 6 teams and had 3 games going on at all times. SO FUN!!! 
-Pie shindig (we also had a pie shindig the night before as well)
-Lunch with Sandy, Michelle, and Justin 
-Lunch with the Grimes'
-Dinner with the Parry's
-Lesson with Mark (Investigator, his wife is a less-active member)
-Drove to Stillwater to stay the night so that we wouldn't have to wake up at 4:00 the next morning to make it for early morning sports with the zone and for the STM

-Early Morning sports with the whole zone, we played flicker ball at the church house. So fun!!!
-STM (Specialized Training Meeting) for the new Christmas Innitiative and the video the Church just put out with it!! 
-Lunch: I had lunch at Wendy's for the first time since I left (so good and lots of great memories!)
-Lunch and the cake we baked that my amazing, thoughtful, loving Mother sent me with Elaine, Carl, and Diane (Investigators) We also had a party with them using all the party stuff my Mom sent as well, so fun!
-We made two cakes out of the stuff my mom sent and also had one of those cakes with the Olmo's (members in the ward) because two of them had birthday's on the 29th!! We had a party thing with them too!
-Dinner and cupcakes with the Petty's
-Dinner and cake with the Jeffery's
-Presents sent from home in the traditional fashion of "Heavy Heavy Hang Over…"

-Freezing rain (only slightly cold)
-Beautiful to see all the ice on the trees and everything!
-Branches, limbs, and entire trees all over the sidewalks, streets, yards, everything! haha 

Christmas Initiative!!!
-At least one miracle for every time we have shared the video. (It only came up yesterday!)
-"A Savior Is Born"
~It was soo good! I love this video so much! I hope you will all take the time to watch it. The Spirit is so strong and you will feel an overwhelming sense of peace, joy, and excitement flood you as you watch it.

There was so much more too! We had lessons/made contact with people we have been trying to see for several weeks and saw so many miracles this week. I am so grateful for this gospel and the blessings we receive from it as we live it! Heavenly Father desires to bless us because He loves us so dearly. May we all express greater gratitude, love, thanksgiving, and the Spirit of Christ with this wonderful Christmas season ahead of us. 

Thank you so much for all those that wished me a happy birthday by email, on social media (my Mom sent me pictures), letters, and packages/gifts. 

I love you all, pray for your wellbeing and success and hope you each have a wonderfully blessed week. 

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks



Monday, November 23, 2015

The Blessing- Week 17

We got this picture on Wednesday with the caption:  "The Work Goes On"  that's it.  We could pretty much tell it was fake, but it was weird, scary at first and we have been "dying" to hear the explanation. Well here it is!
The dead picture was funny:D So for mutual on Wednesday night, a guy in our ward brought the ambulance because he is an EMT and talked to the teachers and priests about all of the equipment and what he does for his job so I asked to take a picture and he thought it was a great idea to be funny so we did it but I wanted to send it to Dad first because I didn't want Mom to get all freaked out and have nightmares so I hope no nightmares occurred this week on my behalf!! But I had the Book of Mormon so the work never stops, even when you are out of commission;)
We also got some pictures from Elder Ricks and his companion Elder Hilton this week!
Picture overload to catch us up the last 4 months!
This picture is so funny to me, I have not purchased any Captain Crunch, Ritz Crackers or Microwave Popcorn since he left 4 months ago and all three of them are on the counter!!!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Blessing- Week 16

Once again, the week has come and gone. The work is going so well here and I am so excited about where it is headed! We are seeing so many blessings and miracles everyday and there is no greater feeling than that of the Spirit bearing solemn testimony and witness of truth in a lesson and when helping someone to progress to be closer to Christ. 
This last week we saw many many miracles but there is one in particular that I would like to share.

Miracle 1: A couple weeks ago, we were walking through an apartment complex and a man on the second level of the complex beckoned to us and started talking to us which is already a blessing because we are like always the ones that have to start a conversation with anyone... So we got to talk to him a bit and he very welcomely accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and we told him we would work on getting a copy in his native tongue so he could better understand. We stopped by this week to check in on him and tell him we had ordered an Arabic copy for him and we actually met his wife and her brother and the three of them invited us into their home. 

Their English is a bit broken so we would have to repeat most things we said and rephrase it so they could better understand but basically, we were able to talk about prayer, about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and about the Book of Mormon and they were so receptive and loved it all! They even asked us where our church was at and what time it started and really desired to go! We told them where and the time of 12:30 and they told us they would try to make it but if they could come they would be late because being Muslim, they pray to Mecca 5 times every day and one of those times is at 12:30. 

UCU (The college just down the street) has a huge foreign exchange program especially people from Saudi Arabia. Anyways, they were incredibly receptive of the message and sought us out and we are so excited to work with them in the near future! Plus they are really really kind people (not a new thing for people in Oklahoma. Everyone here is so kind!) Anyways, it was a huge miracle and blessing for us and we gained 3 new investigators out of the experience. 

Anyways, there are so many other things I wish I could share that are equally amazing and some even more amazing but let it be a testament that we are all God's children, and He wants all of us to have His gospel and when people are ready to receive it, he places the right people and the right tools to help us receive it. 

I am so grateful for the gospel in my life and all of the blessings, joy, peace, and happiness it brings to my very being. I am thankful for a loving Savior who knows us personally and individually and I am so grateful that He is the Savior and Redeemer of the entire world, not just a part of the world. 

May you all have a wonderful, miraculous, and blessed week and know that I know this work is true.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Blessing- Week 15

It just amazes me how quickly the week goes by. I don't realize how fast it is going until I am sitting down writing this letter every week. 

This last week was another amazing one and incredibly busy! We were so blessed. We were able to talk to a ton of people as we were out and about and we had a lot of lessons this last week too which was great! 

As a missionary, we find people, build relationships, teach gospel principles, invite them to do things, follow-up and that continues on and on. Well, when those people begin to teeter on commitments their progression slows down or stops and it is at those times when missionaries have to go to them and tell them that we love them but we are going to have to come by less so that we can help others who are ready to progress do that. It is really hard because you have become such good friends and you love them so much and you wish so desperately that they would take those important next steps but they have their agency which is good and fair but at that point it is time for missionaries to continue doing what we have been asked to do and find those who are ready to take those steps and progress.

This last week we were on our way to a couple so that we could talk to them about this and tell them we love them and we would stop by every once in a while to check on them but we would have to stop coming by weekly so that we can carry on with our work. We knocked and she answered and before we could say anything she expressed to us how excited she and her husband were to come to church on Sunday. WHAT?!

I will go more in depth on this one next week but what I realized was we had an Abraham story. When we were willing to take the step to show Heavenly Father we are more willing to submit to his will than our own he blesses us. Instead of having to give them up, they took a step of progression by coming to church and we get to keep working with them as they continue to progress.

Miracles like this happened every day this last week. The Spirit is strong, the work is great, we are incredibly happy and successful! Heavenly Father wants to bless us and do everything He can to help us be happy.

Keep the Faith,
Elder Ricks

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Blessing- Week 14

 Elder Ricks enjoying some golf on Pday today along with some beautiful weather!
 This is what we sent him in his 100 day package!  He loved getting all your notes!  Thank you

Well, it was an awfully big and incredibly busy week! 

Sooo, I guess 100 days came and went this last week!-My amazing Mom, made a package celebrating this and it was so creative and fun! I really loved everything inside and am so grateful for all of the letters inside, thanks to all who participated in helping my mom! 

Monday night, a member hosted a going away party for Elder Balch and about 60 families, yes, families came. It was crazy! About 65 vehicles parked on the lawn, and about 140 people inside. It was amazing! And there were about 8 investigators and lots of less-actives who came also so it was a tremendously productive and successful missionary night!!

Tuesday night, Elder Balch's last night with me, we were able to attend the temple to support a young man who has received his mission call and went to receive his endowment. It was such an incredible, spiritual night and I am so grateful I was able to go for him and with my dear friend Elder Balch.

Wednesday was transfers!!! Elder Balch is home now and doing so great which is thrilling to me and makes me so happy!!! He really became one of my best friends and I am so excited to continue my friendship with him! And my new companion, Elder Hilton, is amazing!!! We are going to have such a good time and do so many great things together in Edmond 3rd! 

He came out at the same time as me, 3 months ago, and we are both just loving the mission and working hard! Together, in just 4 short days, we have already taught about 12 lessons and found new investigators and are just having a lot of fun and a lot of success!! 
He is from Cali and has graduated from BYUI and is a programmer! He is really smart and very analytical and we have so many similar ideas about how we can be efficient and plan to be the most successful so things are really going great! We also made a fun connection, he is a descendant of Levi Savage from 17 Miracles and I am a descendant of Thomas E. Ricks who is also in 17 miracles and my grandpa actually came to save his grandpa. How fun is that?! They were probably best friends and now they are up there nudging each other and pointing, smiling about all the great things they got to do together and now their descendants are able to be together and do the same thing!! hahah

Friday we had district meeting and afterwards we went to Pizza Hut for pizza and rootbeer because that was the tradition in my family and it was so fun! We paid with a gift card my mom sent and also set the table in Pizza Hut with a Halloween tablecloth and decorations from that package. It was really fun and people already think we are a peculiar people so I can't imagine what they thought when four young men are sitting in suits at Pizza Hut with all these fun decorations on the table. It was a good time!:) 

We had our ward Trunk or Treat party Friday night but it was pouring rain all day long so we had it inside! Elder Hilton and I were chili judges and I can't say that it was a blessing or a curse. It tasted so great but we paid for it later! It was so fun to be there and to meet new people that members had invited and to just be surrounded by all these people I have come to love and have such great relationships with! It was a wonderful missionary opportunity to visit with new potential investigators and to see less and inn-actives there.

Saturday we went on exchanges because Elder Hilton had a baptism he went back to Del City 
(where he was last serving) and I was able to stay and attend the baptism of an 8 year old boy in our ward. The service was so spiritual and powerful. His mom has been an investigator for 14 years and we are currently working with her and the whole thing was really just beautiful from the music to the talks to the very saving ordinance (baptism) and then receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and she said the closing prayer. It was a great morning to say the least!:)
Saturday night we went to a member's home because we couldn't be out passed 6:00 due to Halloween and all the things that could happen. So we passed out candy with pass-along cards to every child and played a game with them. It was so fun and there was one boy who pulled out the pass-along card which was a picture of Jesus Christ and the Articles of Faith on the back and he declared "Oh I love these!!!" He was not a member but just loved to see pictures of our Savior and Redeemer and it was really sweet and powerful.

The work is pushing on and I am loving every bit of it!!! 
Like I said, we have been able to teach a lot and have felt the Spirit so strong as we are able to declare simple truths of power that are so familiar to the soul.  I wish you could all come and be apart of or see some of these lessons, they are so powerful, it is the greatest feeling!
As you can tell, the weeks are always busy! We do a lot and are seeing so many miracles and fruits from our labors. Heavenly Father blesses you when you do what He asks and put your trust in Him! 

I love to hear from you and even though I am not always giving a great response, I love every word and every detail and soak it all in. I just don't have the time to send a big long response like I would like. But I do love you and appreciate you and hope to keep hearing from you all! Thanks again to my beautiful, wonderful Mother and all those that helped her.:)

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks