Monday, December 12, 2016

The Blessing- Week 72

It was an excellent week!
I learned and grew a lot this week and was able to feel the Spirit so strongly as it enlightened and empowered me and saw so many miracles. Here are just four, that I can't do justice in typing, none the less. 
Miracle #1
-We received a call on Tuesday from a returned missionary Sister currently living in Arizona. She informed us that she had already called our Bishop and proceeded to ask us a little bit about ourselves and the work and how everything was going then she told us that she has a boyfriend that lives in Oklahoma City in our area and she just wanted to call to be ensured it would be okay for us to meet him and to work with him in teaching the restored gospel. It was an, interesting, but exciting and enjoyable phone call! I've never really been interviewed in that kind of fashion but not even 5 minutes after we hung up with her we receive a text from an Oklahoma number which read "Hello, this is Gray. Shantel gave me your number and said I could talk to you about getting into the converting process. Just let me know where and what time and I'll be there."
Shantel got home from her mission a few months ago and was in Oklahoma at a horse show and she and Gray met on the plane and she gave him a Book of Mormon! (Is anyone else impressed with this story yet?) 
We met him at the Church the next night and had an amazing conversation/discussion with him in which he first told us that he was not pursuing this because of some girl but that he has been looking for a while and he feels good about moving forward in this direction and referred to the fact that he has already prayed about it and it feels right which preceded him teaching us basically all of the restoration, told us he has read the first book of Nephi (yes, all 22 chapters). We then asked him what more he would like to know so he told us he would like to know more about the restoration of the Church/Priesthood and Joseph Smith and we talked about some of the details of those things including time-lines and honestly just a lot of stuff that typically, most people don't need to know because it would be way too much for them but he was just loving it and wanted us to tell it to him! It was crazy! He already knows what he wants/needs and we are honestly just a tool for him to get there so we are just trying not to get in his way! Haha it was such a neat experience and one I'll never forget. He is such a great guy and so prepared!  
He went to Arizona this weekend and Shantel was speaking in two different Sacrament meetings so he went to both of those. (2 sessions of church, in one day!) All he wants is for us to teach him the lessons as quickly as possible, he asked if him going to church for both of those would count for him going to church twice (so he can join quicker) and so much more. Absolutely miraculous. We will see him again tomorrow night and pin down some of the details for the rest of the timeline leading to his baptism and confirmation.
Miracle #2
-Xander is a nine year old boy that we have been working with who is so excited to be baptized! We stopped in and saw them yesterday and he told us he wants to be baptized this month and his grandma, almost pleading with us, asked if it could happen before Christmas so we, of course, excitedly told her yes and explained to them what else he would need to do to be prepared spiritually and physically and logistically to be baptized on December 24th and comfirmed/receive the gift of the Holy Ghost on Christmas day, if possible.
Miracle #3
-We are working with a father named Michael who is going through some difficult times right now but just desperately wants to be a member of the Church and be baptized and he is shooting for the 31st of this month, or sooner if possible. I will have to finish the rest of his miraculous story next week because it is a thriller!
Miracle #4
-He Is Jesus Christ is a musical performance that took place in the community and hundreds of people came to the two performances on Saturday, members and non-members alike. It was open to all but the Church (surrounding stakes) was in charge of putting it all together and had the majority presence of people involved and who attended. They requested that at least 24 missionaries be at each show to help out and our mission President told us that if someone we are working with goes then we can go. We were able to help at the 3:00 session and then to come back later that night with Michael for the 7:00 session. At that performance in both sessions I got to see soo many people from previous wards and it was so fun for me to see each of them and rekindle the love and friendship that we have. I got to see Brother Paul Vorel who was the first miraculous conversion I got to see as a missionary who was baptized a little over a year ago and he invited me to attend his endowment session at the temple this Wednesday at 7:30. I got to see many, many more friends that I consider to be family who just brightened my whole day and allowed me to reflect on so many wonderful memories and miracles throughout the duration of my mission. The performance was also so powerful and spiritual and touching that it brought tears to my eyes in gratitude and love and admiration for my Brother, and my Savior, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. What a glorious name, life, sacrifice, and gift. 

Keep the faith my dear Brothers and Sisters,
Elder Ricks

The Blessing- Week 71

It was a wonderfully chaotic week and I am short on time so I apologize if this is a little scrambled or poorly said but I hope you get the Spirit of it.
Progressive Blessing(s)-->Miracle(s)

Matt is now out of the hospital and doing well so we are happy to report that! But we have gone back several times since we gave Rebekah the blessing on Thanksgiving and she is doing much, much better than she was which we are happy and excited about. Each time we go back we get to pray with her and often her two sons that have been with her every moment they possibly can (Jacob is 25 and Daniel is 17 I believe) Jacob hasn't left the hospital in the last 12 days to stay there with his mom and they only time Daniel hasn't been there is when he has been at school. We went again this last Saturday to visit them and we had such a spiritual and powerful lesson as we read from the scriptures and talked about eternal truths of the Plan of Salvation. It was such a testimony builder for me because none of these three are members of the Church and haven't been to church in a long time but it was so powerful each time they stated "Well, they never taught us this in church but I believe..." or whenever they said "I really think that..." everything they said aligned with the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith but they had never read it in the scriptures or been taught it in a Sunday school class, they had simply been taught by the Holy Ghost who helped them remember their identity and the plan of our Heavenly Father for our happiness and salvation. It was so powerful and when we left you could feel and see the fire in their eyes and an excitement to read the Book of Mormon and the Bible and to learn more and to become more like God.
I'm so grateful for the Spirit. What a precious and marvelous gift from God, our Eternal Father. I've been able to feel His presence many times throughout my life but particularly on my mission and especially the last couple weeks. I love this time of the year where there are so many who go out of their way to serve and to love and to focus on Christ and His teachings. It is simply beautiful to see and to feel. I love you and hope you enjoy this Christmas season Lighting the World and witnessing God's hand work miracles through you.

May God's grace and mercy and peace be with you this week I hope and pray.

Keep the faith,

Elder Ricks

Top Golf
Teaching our dear little friend Xander!
#LIGHTtheWORLD #Day1 #DayOfService
We started off December (Elder Dean's Birthday, and the day of service in the Light the World initiative) helping our investigators move and the Sisters in our ward came to help out! (Sister Garner is from Rexburg!!) "By small and simple means are great things brought to pass" was so true in packing this little truck...
Elder Ricks, Sister Trotter, Sister Garner
Rondolus, Elder Ricks, Elder Dean
Last night we were driving from dinner and the First Presidency Christmas Devotional at our stake president's house (he lives in our ward and feeds us several times a month) to drop off the Sisters in our ward and then to try some people before the end of the night and we saw a vehicle pulled over in the road with their hazards on so we pulled over and ran to them and offered to help so we pushed this single mother and her two kids to an off street. She happened to have an empty gas can in her car so Elder Dean and I went to the gas station and filled it up with the Sisters stayed back with Mooney and her kids Dwayne and Cali. After we got back and put the gas in the car wouldn't start so we waited there with her while the kids dad came to help and as we waited I got a little carried away playing with the kidos and we played all sorts of games: rock paper scissors, tag, basketball, vampire/lion-scaring each other, and more but by the end I ended up being "Jungle Boy" as Cali said and they beat me up after I swung around on the tree. We had a good time and while I messed around, Elder Dean talked with Mooney and we have a return appointment to teach her on Friday!
 Despite what you think, I really am off the ground hanging on the tree branch hahaha we had so much fun!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Blessing- Week 70

We, of course, had a Turkey Bowl Thursday morning! As a group of us were mingling together before the games started we looked toward the parking lot and one of the missionaries said "Hey, is that Elder Sitati? We all looked and said "Nah, there's no way, but they do look pretty similar!" To our dismay, Elder Sitati came walking up in his sweats and sneakers ready to play "American Football, haha okay." (He has the cutest accent, it is so neat!) So we got to play our turkey bowl with Elder Sitati from the First Quorum of the Seventy for his first ever game of "American Football". Haha he ended up falling twice and left with this big brown dirt patch on his bum, it was really enjoyable to have him there with us. We still played like mad though so don't ever think that football isn't spiritual because I can testify that one of the most spiritual guys on the earth was there ready to play and have a good time!

Service! We were graced with an opportunity to go to the UCO campus and help with the "Edmond Community Lunch". Anyone from the community could attend and we got to clean dishes, take people's plates and dishes as they finished each portion of their meal and even serve them with their food. It was so neat and the Spirit was so strong as so many people united together with one cause, to "go about doing good" in the "service of (their) fellow beings. ..." The greatest part was being able to see the faces of children and adults alike, light up and illuminate the whole place brilliantly. I really believe I was able to see the glory of God manifest in such a setting. I loved it! 

We received a request on Thanksgiving by a member in Lawton to go to the hospital to give her non-member son a blessing. We accepted the request right away and the next moment we got we headed for the hospital. We got up there and Elder Dean gave Matt a blessing of such beauty and power and love that I have rarely, if ever heard and felt-which is saying a great deal because I have heard and felt my share of divine blessings pronounced upon others by the power of the Holy Ghost in the authority of the Holy Priesthood of God. Sister Smith thanked us emotionally as did Matt's non-member father. As we were heading for the elevator to leave, a woman in the lobby area of the elevators exclaimed, "Hi Elders!" we talked with her for a moment and she asked us to give her cousin, in ICU, a blessing. So we went marveling and thanking Heavenly Father for these opportunities and privileges He had given us seemingly out of nowhere. Once again, Elder Dean offered a most powerful and touching blessing on Rebekah's head. I am always in awe when I consider the timing of the Lord, particularly within the hallowed walls of these sacred places of care and support, and often the loss or saving of loved ones.
On Sunday night we were called frantically, again, someone from Lawton, to go to OU Children's Hospital to give their daughter a blessing. We did it and had another really powerful experience. It was the extended family of a family I knew well and loved in Lawton so that was special for me being able to be apart of it.
Friday, later in the night, I got a call from President Mansell who gave me the phone number of my Aunt Cammie saying that she and her family were in town and he told me to give them a call the next morning and set something up to see them for lunch or something like that! Well, the next morning we pull up to our apartment after having played some sports with a bunch of other missionaries and my poor family stood outside bearing gifts and warm, loving, friendly smiles:) They sang me happy birthday and took Elder Dean and I out to breakfast! It was so fun to be with them and to remind me just how much I love my family and all that all of my family has done for me over the last 20 years in supporting and loving me in all that I do. It sure did make for a special birthday:)
I could go on but suffice it to say that we had an amazing week filled with fun and miracles by the good will of our loving and merciful God!
Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Blessing- Week 69

It has been a spectacular and wild week!
I really enjoyed the last couple days with Elder Thompson; he is a great missionary and truly one of my best friends and I am so excited for him to be down in Lawton! I've absolutely loved having Elder Dean here in the mix. His love, and passion, and powerful spirit, and humility, and humor are definitely to be enjoyed and admired and I already know I am going to learn so much from him as I have already done this last week.
Elder Stevens got emergency transferred Sunday night to another area:( There is a missionary going home for medical purposes and President called us to pull Elder Stevens because we were the only trio in the mission. I was so sad and will miss him a lot but I loved being his friend and companion and learned a lot from him and I am excited for him!
We've been staying busy and the area is really beginning to really picking up again which is so exciting for me to see and be a part of. We have a great vision for this transfer and have been in the closest communication with the ward leaders that missionaries have ever been with them and because of that we are about to see so many more miraculous events and conversions about to take place. We love these members and will give and do anything to help them to succeed and bring their friends the joy and blessings of temporality and eternity, both. Missionary work is the greatest work to be engaged in!
I really enjoyed our Zone Conference and meetings yesterday and found it to be of incredibly great value. I feel as though I received a lot of personal revelation throughout the meetings and I learned so much and really appreciated and loved the opportunity to be interviewed personally by Elder Sitati, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, after it all. What a spiritually uplifting and confirming day to be with a general authority, having such great spiritual depth and capacity and love. He and his wife both have such a special spirit about them and I was honored and privileged to be able to talk with Sister Sitati after the meetings and be personally interviewed by Elder Sitati.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Life is so good!!:)
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please be safe. You are in my heart and prayers.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Blessing- Week 68

Hello Everyone!

Transfers are this Wednesday and I will be staying here with Elder Stevens and Elder Thompson is getting transfered to...Lawton!!! So Elder Stevens and I are getting Elder Dean as our new companion and friend.:) I am so excited!! We had a great week and everything is on the rise so it is only getting better and better by the day!

We have been working on giong through our ward roster and becoming more familiar with all of the members, active and less-active, and trying to identify anyone that may not still live in the ward and as we were doing that one day, we came to one home and knocked on the door, a man answered and we asked if he was the member we were looking for. He told us he wasn't and that the Brother we were looking for had moved, so we thanked him and started talking to him and before long his girlfriend came out and we were talking to them for nearly 45 minutes. By the end of the conversation they were sharing with us experiences that they have had where they have been able to feel or even see and hear family members and loved ones who have passed on which gave us an incredible opportunity to teach them a little bit about what we believe and how we know that their loved ones are close by in the spirit world and how family can be together forever. It was an incredible conversation that turned into a powerful, spiritual, teaching and learning opportunity. 
We set up a return appointment and went back last night with one of the greatest members and had another great lesson. They, and we, are looking forward to our appointment on Wednesday and then game night at the church on Friday, which our member invited them to.:) They are progressing and have so much potential. I already feel so much love for them and their whole focus is on family.-Perfect!

Just one of many miracles from this last week, as always! I love this work and I love you. Have a wonderful week:)

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Blessing- Week 67

We had a great week riding the streets of the village! It's the best being able to jump on bikes and feel the fire of wanting to share the gospel with everyone you see. It is an amazing the people God is blessing us to meet and talk with and an even greater feeling to see Him blessing them as we talk with them. It just reminds me every time that He is there watching over me and is with me. 

This week we the whole zone is set the keys down for the entire week and only biking and it has been so cool some of the miracles that we and other missionaries have heard and seen from it. We're working harder than ever and I know this area is going to be blessed for it. Poor Elder Thompson was sick this weekend so Elder Stevens and I hit the ward roster and former investigators hard trying to set up appointments and plan for different things just trying to be effective and that led us to having an appointment with Brother Coffman last night. He lives right next to Kevin Durant's old house! He's an amazing man and has a 14 year old son, Henry,  who is not baptized. We connected with him really well and he is excited for us to come back. He has a testimony of the Christ and the Church but just feels bad because he goes to church and sees these completed families and wishes he had the same. Henry was really talkative with us too.

Earthquake Notification: Earthquake fun in OKC! We were sitting down in Brother Coffman's home and I feel everything start shaking so I start looking around somewhat frantically at everyone but no one else seems to notice anything so I play it off like I'm trying to be cool or something. Then, I look at the glass cup next to me with water and they were shaking and everything but the apartment/home we were in was right next to the highway so I was thinking "Woah, that must've been a huge semi that just drove passed!!" or something like that. Right after our appointment we got a text from a recent convert, David, who told us there was an earthquake and I said to Elders Thompson and Stevens, "I knew it! I knew there was an earthquake!!!" And they just started dying of laughter after I told them the story.. Looking back at it now, it really wasn't that funny. So I'm not sure if I just was more into it last night or told the story better than or what but we were rolling on the floor over the whole ordeal about 16 hours ago.... 

There is also another member, Sister Raindancer, in our ward who just barely got her grandkids out of a really hard family/living situation that we have met several of times and one of them is turning nine next week. He wants to get baptized and were going to start teaching him the lessons this week.

We also had interviews with President this week and it is always such a fun experience to be with him and his wife and to feel the spirit and energy they have. I love this place and these people!!

Keep the faith,

Elder Ricks

In correlation to what we have been going through in our area, and throughout my entire mission I found this and I absolutely loved it and find it so true:
"Don’t worry about being successful. We are going to be successful—there is no doubt about it. The Lord has sent us to earth at the time of harvest. He does not expect us to fail. He has called no one to this work to fail. He expects us to succeed. ...We cannot fail in this work. He will magnify us even beyond our natural talents." - Pres. Benson

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Blessing- Week 66

Happy Halloween!!!

It was such a great week to be a missionary! Yet again, we saw so many miracles unfold before us showing us God's power.:) Unfortunately, we had some canceled appointments, more rejection, and had to drop several of our investigators for lack of progression or interest. However, it was still amazing to see the hand of God through it all! We still have three really progressing investigators of great promise and motivation to learn more and to follow the example of Jesus Christ and we have several other marvelous individuals and families we have been excited about and hope to really help progress, we have an appointment with a potential investigator for later in the week that we are excited about and several other potentials and referrals that we are excited to follow up with and begin teaching! I'm are so grateful for so many opportunities to talk to so many people and have the privilege of sharing my testimony of Jesus Christ. I know He lives and stands at the head of this Church. He guides it and directs His work which I am engaged in. I love Him and hope each day to become more like Him in all I do and say. He has healed me, strengthened me, found me, enabled me, forgiven me, loved me, prospered me, and blessed and endowed me . He did all of those things the first time and He continues to do it day by day, even this very day. He will do the same for you. 

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Ward Trunk or Treat:

The Blessing- Week 65

Look at God's hand in this with me:
We have that incredible experience in finding Kristy last week, right? And then it gets better. We had a lesson with her and her 11 year old son Rueben on Friday and it ended up being one of the greatest and most powerful lessons I've had in the last year, and let me tell you, I've been able to witness and feel some incredibly spiritual and magnificent lessons that I am sure have been noted in the heavens, and our lesson with Kristy and Rueben is up near the top. 
Then, see, it gets better. Then they came on Sunday with an incredible family in the ward. Sacrament meeting was amazing. Kristy came with us to our Sunday school class, gospel principles, while Rueben was befriended by a boy his age who showed him the way to primary:) Kristy was making some incredible comments in class and if I didn't know any better I would have guessed she had been a life long, devoted member.
She asked us after class if she could go outside for a minute so we knew what that meant and went with her. As we were talking with her she told us that she hates smoking and that she wants to find a new/better way to cope with stress but up to this point in her life it is all she has known. We talked about the Word of Wisdom just a little bit and Elder Stevens bore his testimony and said "... the greatest reason why we don't do these things is so that we can have the Spirit more abundantly. When we put these things in our body it interferes with the Spirit trying to be with us and speak to us and comfort us..." She looked at him and you could just see in her eyes that she understand exactly what he meant and it hit her. Without delay she started walking toward the street and we all just kind of looked at each other in puzzlement. We watched as she put out her half smoked cigarette on the busy main street then kind of run back up to us. She said "I can't really explain it but I just couldn't put something like that out on holy grounds..." We witnessed a miracle in those brief moments, a change of heart and so much love and respect for God, our Eternal Father. I will never forget.
As we walked back in, taking her to relief society, we walked passed the baptismal font and she said "I was baptized when I was younger." (We were all thinking, man, if I had a nickel...) then she added "But, I really want to be baptized again, into this Church. It just feels right. I can feel something here. I can feel the Spirit of the Lord." nearly dumbfounded we stuttered a resounding "Yes, of course!"
She absolutely loved Relief Society and all of Church and was welcomed in by so many loving arms. After church we found her and Rueben both still in the relief society room talking with a couple women and Kristy told Rueben, "I want to be baptized again. I want to be baptized here. Do you want to be baptized, are you down?" He looked at her smiling and said "Yeah I do!"
Keep the faith Brothers and Sisters,

Elder Ricks

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Blessing- Week 64

Hello my family and friends, I sure do love each of you. Thank you for all you do:)
Elder Stevens is stunning! He is doing such a great job and we have been able to see his confidence and even his ability to teach and testify powerfully and simply and to understanding increase so much in the short time we have been together. He said something really profound that I admired - "I don't want to go home and say 'I went and served on a mission." I want to go home and say 'I served my God with all I could give and will forever do so.'" He sincerely desires to do what is right and to be the best that he can possibly be. I have learned so much from him and his humility. I am grateful the Lord and you have entrusted me and allowed me the opportunity to learn from such a noble and virtuous soul.

Miracle 1: Kristy (and Rueben)--->

We fasted and prayed last week that we would be able to find a family that we could teach and baptize. Since doing that, we have been looking for and striving to talk to families and to this point we have talked to many families, found 3 families, taught 2 of them, and one is showing incredible potential to be baptized - Here's their story - Just yesterday morning, we were on our way to see some of our less actives before church and there was this lady sitting on a bench under a pavilion things while we were driving. We said "Hey, let's go talk to her!" So we pulled over walked up to her and she thought it was weird at first but we connected so well and then started asking her about her relationship with God. She told us how she just lost both parents, and that she had a dream of her mom taking her up into heaven and then waking up and her son telling her he had a dream of his grandma taking him up into heaven. that opened so many doors for us to testify of eternal families an the Book of Mormon. As we testified I could feel so much love for her and she was so happy. We left her to read Lehi's dream and Nephi's same dream. She was also so excited to know that we have a prophet and he is on the earth today being led and inspired by Jesus Christ. She, and her 11 year old son, Rueben, is also coming to a meeting tonight to be taught by all of the other missionaries in the zone I am in for real plays (to let us practice our teaching). She is wonderful and we are so grateful and excited for the privilege to meet and teach her and befriend her as Brothers and Sister of our Heavenly Father's family.

Miracle 2: Chris and Dan--->

Back in Lawton, I got to go on exchanges with Elder Munson. We had been trying some different people from their ward roster and tracted some doors around their homes but nobody was answering. We hopped in the truck to go try some other folks before our next appointment and as we were driving we saw a group of four or five people sitting in a circle on a porch. We looked at each other and said "We need to go talk to them." So we pulled over right away kind of dramatically and went to talk with them. We didn't want them to feel worried about us pulling over like that or feel awkward so we knocked two doors, no one answered either door, before we made our way to them. As we were walking to them they got in the car to drive away! Elder Munson and I were kind of stunned and looked at each other somewhat frantically like "wow we just missed our opportunity. The Spirit definitely touched us to go talk with them and teach them and out of fear we delayed the impression." They pull over in front of the house we had just knocked and a daughter and a mother get out and start walking for the house, we go talk to them immediately. After a few minutes of talking with the mom, the dad stepped out of the house with his gun in his hand and waved it at us saying "Is everything okay out here sweetheart?". 
Elder Munson and I are thinking we are probably going to get shot here and she says "Yes everything is okay, we are just having a good conversation!" He tucked the gun back in his pants and went inside. The mom and the daughter had to go to the store so they left a few minutes later but prior to them leaving, the husband came out and started talking with us too. They left and we stayed, talking with the dad, Dan, he served in the Army as a field artillery man in several deployments in the middle east and he has some crazy stories for us (he was one of the guys that would have to walk through the streets and enter homes and clear them and find specific targets and things like that.) 
We talked with him for about a half hour before the mom and daughter got back from the store. They went off though and the daughter came back with one of her friends, Chris. We started talking now with all three of them and after just a couple of minutes the daughter said "Wow, this is boring." as we were talking about cars and how Dan had been teaching Chris for a couple years about mechanics and how to fix, restore, and work on vehicles. We correlated that with the restoration and the conversation just didn't seem to appeal to the dauhgter but Chris was soaking it in and we could tell Dan liked talking about mechanics and stuff but not as much the gospel so Elder Munson and I kind of just naturally split so he kept talking with Dan and I got to talk with Chris. We had a really spiritual conversation and experience and by the end he was excited to take the Book of Mormon in his hand home to read and study and pray about. I am happy to report that Chris has studied, pondered, prayed and knows the Book of Mormon is true, the Church is Christ's and is guided by Him through a prophet on the earth. He has quit smoking completely and miraculously and is one of the best young man I have ever met. He is excited about family history work and is planning to be baptized this weekend. Through exchanges and the Book of Mormon class we held in Lawton I was able to teach Chris another 3 or times and he holds a very dear place in my heart. I know we were inspired that day and through the Lord's timing and mercy we were led to Chris and he was led to us. 
Furthermore, the week before I left Lawton, Chris pulled me aside after the Book of Mormon class and told me one of his friends had shot himself in the head and it had just been really hard on him. I received the call that I would be going back to Oklahoma City right next to one of my former areas, Edmond 2nd. He asked the Elders in Lawton to send me and my companions to OU medical to give his friend a blessing. We went and tried to see his friend but the name/records couldn't be found when we got there. We tried and just couldn't find his friend at the hospital. 
A couple days later we got a call from Elder Maughn saying that there was a member from one of the Norman wards that would be giving us a call to go give her friend a blessing who had just been in a terrible car accident. (The hospital is actually out of our area, in Edmond 2nd's area, so they should have been the ones called to go give the blessing but Elder Maughn didn't know that and thought it was in our area so he called us). She called us and we set up a time that day to go give her friend a blessing. We ended up getting to the hospital a half our later than we had scheduled with her and as we were walking in a lady on the bench near the entrance stopped me and said "Hey, are you from Lawton?". I got excited and told her that I had just served there for over four months. Lo and behold, she was the wife of Dan, Chris's friend. We talked for a minute and she told me that Dan had gotten drunk one night and accidentally shot himself in the head with his gun (the same one that he had waved at Elder Munson and I) and had just been moved out of ICU the day before and that was why we couldn't find his records or get access to see him when we had tried coming several days earlier. She gave me his room number and said she would love for us to give him a blessing. 
So we went and gave the young man a blessing first and I have no doubt that he will investigate the Church and join through baptism and confirmation someday, probably sooner than later. He was incredible and Elder Thompson bestowed a beautiful blessing over him. 
We walked out of there and started looking for Dan's room now so we could give him a blessing and to our astonishment he was literally the next room over. We had been in room 516 to give the young man a blessing first and Dan's room was room 518. We went over, he recognized me immediately and plead with us to give him a blessing, read a scripture, and pray with him. He has had to undergo complete facial reconstruction but he is still alive and will recover. He is now in a very humble position and wants us to go back to talk with him and teach him more. 
He is just so grateful for Jesus Christ and it was amazing to see the complete change of heart. It was absolutely miraculous. I will never forget how great our God is and his perfect timing in all things. This ended up being a 3 month endeavor but line upon line and bit by bit, God prepared every little thing to fall into place for it to all work out just perfectly in the very moment all of these things needed to take place. His ways truly are higher than our ways and His love and mercy extend and cover every single one of us.

Miracle 3: David, Johny, and Shannon--->

We were going to see a recent convert in the ward, David, and he is amazing. He has completely changed his entire life in a matter of weeks and months and he is so happy and grateful for Christ and for the restored gospel. David is living in the home of a member who actually has a lot of people living in his home. Lela, who is also a recent convert, lives there as well and as we went to see them, there are three new people that just moved in there. We met Johny and Shannon and immediately began to teach them. They soaked in our testimonies and said they would really like to come to church and joyfully accepted a Book of Mormon each and were excited to read it. God is so good and provides us with so many opportunities!! 
Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Blessing- Week 62 & 63

The greatest blessing of this week was definitely General Conference. What a true miracle and blessing it was to listen to Prophets, Seers, and Revelators who truly have been called and ordained of God. We got to watch the conference Saturday afternoon with JR, a member we have been working with for a while now, and then got to watch the Priesthood session of conference at the Church with Nick and Franklin! I just loved all of the messages that were given. Every single one was just so powerful and inspiring. 
On Sunday morning, on Post (Fort Sill), I was able to teach my last lesson to 10 new investigators and I have never seen so many people, who are not members of the Church, so excited to read the Book of Mormon and pray and receive answers and act. The Spirit was so strong and I know, I absolutely know, that this is the Lord's work and that was made even more apparent than ever before, serving and teaching on Post
We got to teach a lot and see so many miracles before I left Lawton. I truly love that area and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. 

Village (Northen OKC, borders my second area, Edmond 2nd):
508 NW 27th Apt. # 2
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
It has been one of the funnest weeks ever being with Elder Stevens and Elder Thompson!! We have a blast and have been working really hard and have already seen so many miracles!
We have been working to find investigators and new people to teach and baptize so we OYMed (Opened Our Mouth to talk) 52 people on Friday night and Saturday and a ton of them have so much potential. It was so fun! We decided we wanted to fast and pray that we culd find a family to teach and baptize and help become strong, active members for the rest of their lives.On Saturday we ended up finding two separate families that both have great potential. That is a miracle! God is so good! He's already answering our prayers and blessing us with our righteous desires according to our faith and diligence in making those hopes and dreams a reality and being obedient to His commandments. I love the Lord and praise Him for His great goodness and mercy and love. 

I love this work!!! I always wish I could just share with you all of the miracles and experiences I get to witness and be apart of, but I know that the Lord is working wonders in each of your lives as well- I have prayed for it and it is His nature, His good pleasure, to work wonders among you even without my prayers!

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Elder Ricks, Elder Palmer, Nick, cutest dog ever, Franklin . They are the greatest!! They are progressing so much, so fast! I just love them a lot and feel so blessed and privileged to have been able to serve them and see miracles and so much growth occur in their lives.

Elder Ricks, Jamel, Elder Palmer . Right after my last lesson in Lawton and one of the most spiritual of my mission. I love Elder Palmer and Jamel and am going to miss them both so much! I am excited to go back soon for Jamel's baptism:)

Elder Ricks, Elder Thompson, Elder Stevens.
Mi nuevo companeros! Elder Thompson and I get to train Elder Stevens:) Elder Stevens is from Lehi Utah and actually got to serve a trial mission before he came out here to Oklahoma so he is absolutely amazing and already training Elder Thompson and I up, mostly me though! I am so grateful that I get to work with Elder Thompson in training Elder Stevens. They are two of the greatest men and hardest working and most sincere. I have already learned so much from them. Elder Thompson is just himself and loves to work hard (he reminds me a ton of Walker<3) and have fun and Elder Stevens is just so sincere and wants to work hard too and it has made for one of the funnest weeks of my mission!

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Blessing- Week 61

Hey everyone! I hope you are all happy and well:) 

We had a really great week filled with a lot of miracles. Here's a couple for you with the Stanforths and Jenna:
The Stanforth family moved here a few months ago from Washington and are a part-member family. The father is not a member, the son, Nick, did not have the Priesthood, and one of the daughters was dating a young man named Franklin who was not a member that moved here with them. Franklin had met with the missionaries in Washington twice before coming here and we were privileged to teach him and help him to be baptized about a month and a half ago. The weekend prior to this last one, Franklin received the Aaronic Priesthood which is a monumental thing for this family to have a worthy priesthood hodler in the home to be a blessing to them. The son of the Stanforforths, Nick, who is 12, decided he wanted to receive the Priesthood several weeks ago and received that yesterday as well. This was a miraculous answer to a loving mother's humble and fervent and patient prayer. Franklin, Raylin, and Sister Stanforth did family history and went with the ward to the temple to do baptisms for the dead and took their own names and some of Elder Palmer and my family names that we have found. They said it was such a powerful and beautiful excperience and we got to feel that and share that with them. Wow, so blessed! 
Sister Stanforth, however, is not only now grateful for all of these blessings and miracles but is an incredible member missionary and has friendshipped this great mother we have been teaching who's name is Jenna. Jenna, when we started teaching her a month ago, she wasn't necessarily living the word of wisdom, law of chastity, and some of the other commandments but in the last month she has abandoned drinking, is cutting back significantly on smoking, has attended church, has become engaged with her boyfriend and is reading and praying every single day! It has been a huge transformation and so many miracles! She also committed to be baptized and progress towards a date. She loved church and Relief Society was her favorite part being with all the other ladies who as she said, "They are my kind of people! They were thinking like, about the same things as me and what I believe. I just got all tickled over it and was ranting and raving about it with anyone who would listen! Matt (the boyfriend) was so intrigued by how much I loved it that he is talking to his manager to try and get Sundays off work so he can come check it out.". Anyways, Sister Stanforth became one of Jenna's new best friends and is already helping Jenna so much. It has been a beautiful conversion to witness. We are so blessed here in Lawton!

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

The Blessing- Week 60

It was a miraculous week!!! WOW! God is incredible. I know that He lives and that He loves us so dearly and desperately and desires nothing more than our happiness and progression to eternal life. I have seen and felt the reality of each of these truths.
I'm out of time but I love you all and hope and pray for your happiness and success.
Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Sister Dopp, Sister Grossgebauer, Private Crosby, Elder Ricks, Private Dickerson
I love this simple and pure ordinance. What a privilege and a blessing to be apart of such a glorious work!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Blessing- Week 59

Hey everyone!!!

Elder Palmer, like always, is stunning. I'm so blessed to be his companion! He is always striving to do and be more and accomplish greater things and I so appreciate that. He has been a great example to me and I learn so much from him. I feel and believe that he truly is training me!

We saw a lot of miracles this week but I would say that one of the greatest was definitely on Tuesday afternoon. Last Saturday night it was about 8:40 p.m. and we were not about to call it in early so we were just walking around our apartment complex and something urged us to check out the laundry room. We've never been in there so it was a great excuse to be able to talk to a couple coming out but we still had time after that brief conversation so we went in and lo and behold there was a guy we had actually OYMed several months ago but he had been to a military training for a couple months. He beckoned to us and we got to go talk with him and invited him to come to church and he agreed. On Tuesday we had a lesson with him and taught him more fully the Restoration. He agreed with the things being said and quickly accepted an invitation to be baptized on October 9th. During that very lesson, we received a text from a new investigator we had just met the week prior and given a Book of Mormon and she said in her text, "I feel like I need to read the whole Book of Mormon, & pray for guidance; then have you come. The more I have prayed, the more I feel I need to have more knowledge. I read the whole pamphlet, and I'm a quarter of the way threw the Book of Mormon. I will definitely ask you to come visit me once I have completed it. Thank you so much for all of your time and guidance. I look forward to our visit." That hour could not have gotten much better between those to miracles at the exact same time. We went with a member to see Jemal on Saturday and it was remarkable. He is so prepared and anxious for the gospel and its blessings.

Great things are happening in Lawton!! As President Mansell said in response to our weekly emails last week "Heaven in Lawton baby!!"

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Sister Grossgebauer, Private Buffum, Private Provenzano, Elder Ricks. This was after Provenzano was baptized and confirmed! He is incredible. I was so very blessed to be able to teach him the last month at Fort Sill and help prepare him for his baptism! What a great new friend:)

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Blessing- Week 58

Everything is easy breazy miraculous down here! We see soo many miracles everyday. We talked to and taught a lot of people this week and saw a ton of miracles throughout the week.

Our area focus/vision for this transfer (and hopefully to continue building forever) is to have phase III member missionary work-where members become the source from which new investigators are found. 

Yesterday was labor day and Elder Palmer and I invited over 70 people to attend church with us this week. The majority of them even agreed to come! I was at Fort Sill so Elder Palmer got to Church and called and texted everyone (solid investigators/members and more flaky investigators/members alike). The past couple months we have had great success in getting quite a few investigators and less active members to come to church with us. Of all of the people we are working with there was 1 less-active member that came. We were kinda bummed about that! We were still grateful that he came but we were just trying to figure out what we could have done better because we know this area is capable of so much more than that.

Then, as we were transitioning from Sacrament Meeting to Sunday School, one of our members, Brother Gilliam, introduced us to his girlfriend that he had already given a Book of Mormon and who he had brought with him to church! Woah! How wonderful, right?! Her name is Larissa. They proceeded to ask us if we could teach them during the third hour. So we did, and it was incredible! The Spirit was so powerful and she has now committed to be baptized. It was such a miracle and a tender mercy and such an answer to our hopes, aspirations, dreams, prayers, and what we have been working for. Following that, the Sisters had a baptism that we attended with our newly found investigator and while there, we discovered that there was a young woman in our ward who had also brought her friend to church and we now have separate return appointments with both individuals for this Tuesday.

God is so good. This work is so true. And we are so happy.

Keep the faith!

Elder Ricks

This is Harry, we were walking through the apartment complex and saw that he was struggling to get his bike into his car so we offered to help! He is from Greece and was really funny! As we talked with him we taught him about the law of chastity with women and it was really cool to see his understanding open up. Very interesting man! He was going to the Burning Man festival and doesn't get back till tomorrow but when he gets back he wants to take us out for lunch and we are going to teach him and help him to be baptized and eventually go to the temple.

  Post baptism:Elder Ricks, Elder Palmer, Sister Dymock, Sister Bash, Sister Dopp, Hermana Hunt