Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Blessing- Week 52

It was another really busy week! Elder Palmer is incredible! If I wasn't told ahead of time that he was just barely coming out to the field then I would definitely think he was a seasoned veteran of the sport (missionary work, because it is like a sport in regards to you have to work really hard, follow the rules of the game, and have a ton of fun, you see how that works? Good deal😇)

We are seeing so many people and teaching almost all day everyday! These people are just so humble and wonderful that it makes it near impossible not to love them with your whole heart! 

Once again, there are far too many miracles and so many hearts changed to be able to write about them all but here is one great one from this last week:

Franklin and the Stanforth family:
Franklin is an 18 year old young man who is currently living with the family of his girlfriend, the Stanforths due to some poor living conditions from his own home. They just moved here about a month ago from Washington. The mother and all of the children are members but the father and Franklin are not. Franklin began taking the lessons with some sister missionaries from Washington but they ended up only teaching a few principles covering the Restoration of the Gospel and some points of the Plan of Salvation. We set a baptismal date with him for July 31st. 
Sister Stanforth has been trying to share the gospel with Brother Stanforth since they got married and thus far Brother Stanforth has been supportive but does not want to be a member or anything. He comes to church with them often and is a really kind and fun man. We went over this week to give Sister Stanforth a blessing for a migraine she had for nearly a week and while we were there she told us a bit more about her husband and how over the years, he has always been cordial toward the missionaries but when anyone from the church started a lesson he would just quietly leave the room. We had an appointment scheduled for that night to have dinner with them and have a lesson following.
Based on that, were expecting to have a similar experience when we taught. We had a great dinner and wonderful conversation with all of them and started teaching about the Plan of Salvation afterwards like planned. Everything was going really well, Franklin was really receptive and eager for everything we were saying and asking questions. Not long after we started Brother Stanforth came in, sat down next to his wife, wrapped his arm around her and they were just beaming:) I made eye contact with Sister Stanforth and she just made a shocked/ecstatic expression like "I'm not sure what just happened but I am loving this!". He stayed for the whole lesson. 
We went back a few days later for another lesson talking about the 10 commandments and CPR (Church, Pray, Read). He sat in with us for that entire lesson and contributed a lot to the conversation!
We definitely saw and are seeing a softening and changing of his heart and it was such a spiritual and powerful and touching thing to be able to witness. God truly is wonderful and He works in such glorious and mysterious ways.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Blessing- Week 51

Hello my dear family and friends, 

I apologize for the length of this one but there was so much that happened and it's hard to explain it all.
Elder Palmer is my trainee! Elder Dutson and I had a phenomenal transfer together and I really enjoyed our last few days serving as companions. I will definitely miss his love and example but I am so excited to now have Elder Palmer with me! He is also really great! I think he has been actually been training me instead of the other way around so I certainly am loving his strength and preparedness. 
We have been soo busy this entire week! Elder Dutson and I couldn't stop to catch a breath for nothing and Elder Palmer just jumped right in and we've just kept the momentum going in the same fashion. 
Transfers were on Wednesday and one of our members, Brother Ingram, drove us up and back in his convertible camaro so Elder Dutson left in style and Elder Palmer was welcomed in style. Haha it was really fun. 
Wednesday: We traveled up to OKC, had a trainers/trainee meeting, completed transfers, drove back down to Lawton and stopped for Lunch at Braums and then we had an appointment right when we got back. By the end of the night we taught three lessons and had a blast for our first day together! 
Thurday we had a lot of studies and planning to do but still finished so strong with another three lessons and we talked to a handful of people on the streets as we were shredding through Lawton. 
Friday we had district meeting and then had three lessons again and talked to a lot of people on t he streets. 
Saturday we again had 3 lessons and a miracle with a blessing of healing and comfort. 
I wish I could go into detail about all of the miracles and blessings from every single day because it has been absolutely stunning what the Lord has performed in front of us this week. 
 By the way, I'm joining the army!!
The Fort Sill Army Base is apart of our area/district so every week, the senior companion from each area in the district leaves their companion and goes onto the base for the church service. So every Sunday, for the last 7 weeks my companion when I go to church has been a Sister missionary. That was really really weird and hard for me at first but it is approved from the Mission President and First Presidency so I guess the worst thing that will happen is just the feelings of awkwardness that I get every week... 
Anyways, before Elder Palmer got here, Elder Dutson went onto the base for Church with three other missionaries from our district while I went with the other three missionaries every week to our regular church meetings. This week, however, I went to Fort Sill for Church with Elder Munson, Sister Dymock and Sister Snyder while Elder Palmer went to the regular church meetings with Elder Smith, Sister Dopp and Sister Grossgebauer. 
Church on Fort Sill is incredible!! We have a very tight schedule and must fit social time/bathroom break (10 minutes) Sacrament Meeting (45 minutes), Missionary Lessons/Sunday School (45 minutes) and Priesthood/Relief Society Classes and Baptism Interviews (15 minutes) all in a strict 2 hour window. 
Sacrament Meeting was incredible. The spirit was so evident and powerful as we sat with 80 soldiers who are all in basic training in order to serve us and this country. I was touched to the point of tears. From there I was able to teach the second missionary lesson on the Plan of Salvation (my favorite lesson/topic) to about  11-13 investigators and about 7 members. It was so powerful and the veil was so thin! By the end of the discussion 4 of these valiant soldiers agreed to come unto Christ and be baptized and they will be baptized in about 2 weeks most likely. 
Right after that I held a baptismal interview with a young man who will be baptized next week and Elder Munson held a baptismal interview with another young man who will also be baptized next week.

Brother Davis and Brother Seguin were both baptized while the Sacrament service began (because time is so tight and we can only use the baptismal font from 10:00am-10:30am) and then after the administration of the Sacrament we held the confirmations which I was privileged to be apart of. 
(I'm not actually joining the army but there was definitely a special spirit of the Lord and patriotism in that hallowed place).

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Elder Palmer and I first meeting Wednesday morning!! ("Aw man, I think I blinked!" "No I bet you’re goo...yeah, you sure did my friend!" He's so cute!!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Blessing- Week 50

What a week. I just can't keep up with everything that happens here. Lawton is just a huge time warp. I cannot believe it has already been a transfer! Soo much has happened but it feels like its only been a couple days.

We had our "Meet the President" meeting this week on Tuesday and it was incredible! President Walkenhorst will certainly be missed and I love him dearly but President Mansell is absolutely stunning. I have tried to center my service around three main principles throughout my mission:
1. Work Hard 
2. Be Obedient 
3. Have Fun
President Mansell showed up and he said "The First Presidency told me specifically that they expect more from this mission and I know that they have given me the missionaries to do it. All I want to do is help you to be able to become master teachers and to work hard to have a lot of fun and to be completely obedient." 
I am so excited I can barely stand it! Haha he is so enthusiastic and jumping at the bit to serve and it has definitely motivated me to try even that much more to become that much better. 

Also, after President and his family introduced themselves and President concluded his remarks, he pulled me out privately for an interview and told me his feelings about the importance of trainers and how he wanted to know who his trainers would be and know that he could trust them. So Thursday morning I got a phone call from the AP's to let me know I will be training the next two transfers. I have hoped and prayed for this opportunity since I finished my own training and I am ecstatic! 

Elder Dutson and I have worked so hard and been obedient this last week and the whole transfer and it has been an absolute blast since day one! We have seen so many miracles together and I am so sad that we are going to be parting ways this week but I am so excited for him to be a Zone Leader in Stillwater! (When he goes on exchanges he will be able to go to Edmond 3rd!!!) 

I wish there was time to talk about all of the miracles, blessings, laughs, details, and revelations that we have had this last week and transfer but there is too much to do and not enough time to do it.

I love you all and pray for your success and happiness.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks
4th of July fun!!

The Blessing- Week 49

It was yet another excellent week serving in Lawton with Elder Dutson. Every single day I am so excited to wake up with my dear companion who is also as motivated, excited, and dedicated to serve diligently, work hard, be obedient, have fun, strive to follow the Spirit, to invite and help our fellow brothers and sisters and to teach with power and authority. I love this heavenly experience! 

We, like always, are able to see and witness so many miracles and tender mercies everyday such as these:

-15 year old young man named Alfred who is autistic but highly functional and comprehensive. We found him walking his dog in our apartment complex and we were able to talk to him. As we continued to TNT him (Talk N' Teach) he said he would love to be baptized and come to church. We got to meet his grandmother and she told us at first that his mother wasn't really religious and wouldn't be anytime soon so we probably wouldn't be able to teach Alfred and help him follow Christ's example. By the end of that conversation she said that she would talk to his mother, Star and give us a good word because she liked us so much. We met her and talked with her for several minutes days later and she said he could come to church with us and we could teach him and that she really liked us. We were teaching Alfred and asked him what he loved about Jesus Christ and he said "I love His power. I want to travel the galaxy and find worlds and kingdoms and save them just like Jesus saved us." Alfred is absolutely stunning. I love him so much! What a miracle and tender mercy. He wants to get baptized when he gets home from his aunt's house in Virginia in a month. 

-We met a man named Michael about a month ago and he told us then that he wanted to be baptized and be saved and learn more and everything and we set up a return appointment for the next day and he wasn't there. We kept going back a couple times the next week and called him several times then one day like 3 weeks later he finally answered our call. He asked who it was and we told him and he said "Wow, I am so glad you guys didn't forget about me! I still need to be baptized! I haven't been baptized yet! When can we get this thing done, I need to get baptized. I just had my 25th Birthday yesterday and it is a time of new beginnings and I just need to get baptized! Also, can my twin brother get baptized too?" haha wow if there is one way to get a pair of missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints excited, he did it! 

-The list goes on and on! Miracles and Tender Mercies big and small every single hour of every single day. I love this place, I love this people, I love this country, I love my friends, I love my family, and I love God.

Keep the faith!

Elder Ricks

Great object lesson with Skylin. We were teaching about CPR (Church, Pray, Read-Scriptures) and how that builds a testimony that can bear up anything. Also, Treshon loves giving us drawings and hats and airplanes and things:D
We Went To The Wild Life Refuge Today For The Fourth Of July With A Member Today And We Got To Go Hiking! On The "Mountains". It Was So Fun! 
I fell... But thankfully I am learning from all of the cats in Oklahoma and landed on my feet.
  "We" were reenacting the Titanic! Elder Dutson hasn't seen the movie though and didn't think I was being very clever... "Hmmm. Why are you grabbing my fat?"

The Blessing- Week 48

We did not get an update from Elder Ricks this week.  He must be busy!