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!