Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Blessing- Week 78

Hello everyone!

We had another wonderful week. I cannot believe it is already time to email you again. If you want the week in detail you can check out everything below but suffice it to say that miracles abound, God's grace and love is far reaching, never ending, and always available, and the most beautiful and glorious and comforting and promising and assuring and guiding and uplifting voice and feeling is the Spirit of the Most High Father. Of these things I am a witness and beneficiary. God is great and I love His work!
-We went out with Bishop Silfies to see the Burke family; they've been investigating on and off for the last several years and just got home from a big Christmas vacation so it was the first time we were able to have a real appointment and lesson with them since the Sisters were teaching them before. Schyler, the mother, knows the Church is true and wants to join really badly but won't do it until Peter, the father, comes to the same understanding and desire. He loves the Church and said that if he believed in God and religion that he would join this Church but he is having a hard time with the aspect of faith and what that means and the implications involved for him in his life. Bishop was a great asset in our lesson and in just a brief hour and a half grew to love and demonstrate great concern for this incredible family. Peter is incredibly learned so it was really neat and fun to be able to go in depth on the gospel aspects of faith, repentance, the importance of ordinances and then Schyler was trying to help him identify times in his life when he has felt the Holy Ghost and tried explaining how the Spirit touches her. The Spirit was absolutely present in that lesson so I am confident that someday, he will recognize the truthfulness of it all and because of the manifestations of the Spirit he won't be able to deny the power and love and wisdom of God and at that point I really believe he will accept the gospel as it has been restored. I am so excited to continue to work with him and this family!
-I love the temple. It was so refreshing and uplifting and wonderful to be able to go to the House of the Lord this week. It truly is a House of grace and of love and of learning and I experienced each of those things there this week. How grateful I am for that special opportunity.
-We went out this week also with our Elders Quorum President, President Hawkins to see Brother Biglow, a less active new member, Brother Brashure, a less active member who's girlfriend is not a member, and Lisa, Lloyd and Cody, an investigating family progressing towards covenant making and keeping, the first being baptism. It was such a wonderful, spiritual night. President Hawkins is a very simplistic minded man and incredibly humble. He said some things that I really appreciated and took note on that I am now studying and looking forward to applying more fully:
"Value Added Living";
      "If it is too precious to use, then does it really have any value? Does it really add value to your life?"
"You can spend your life taking care of things or you can spend your life taking care of (people) each other."
Essentially, the idea, Value Added Living, is to simplify and always maintain a focus on the things that truly matter most, those things that really add value to your life.-Beautiful concept.
-We were going through some of our ward lists on Wednesday hoping to find more part-member families, less-active members, people we could talk to who live in the homes of members who are still on our records who have moved out, etc. that we would be able to begin meeting with regularly and teaching and helping. As we were trying this we saw a man to talk with, Travis, as he was walking his dog and pushing a shopping cart with some things in it that he was taking to his new apartment that he told us had been provided to him by the grace and goodness of God. We had a great interaction together and set an appointment to teach him the next day. We went to the address we thought he had given us and it was downtown OKC at a business so it definitely wasn't his address. We went back to the apartment and planned for our week and it was miraculous the timing of it all because as soon as we walked back out of the apartment, Elder Yamane saw and identified Travis walking down the street. We ran to him and figured out the miscommunication and went back to have a wonderful lesson with him the day after that. He is reading the Book of Mormon and we believe he will progress wonderfully, especially once he comes to church.
-We had two really spiritual visit this week with Kristy on Thursday and Saturday, both. She is going through so much and recognized God's hand. She is reading the Book of Mormon daily and finding great strength and application with what she learns. She had the greatest experience coming to church and looks so forward to being able to come again and Satan keeps throwing difficult circumstances at her but he can't win and won't stop her.
-I got to go with Elder Shira on our exchange and it was so great! We saw Chris, an investigator, the  Kinnisons, a less-active family who have Hannah and Balentina in their home as foreign exchange students, and a handful of members from our lists. We walked and biked and were able to work hard, be obedient and have fun which made for open communication and overall a spiritual and positive experience together. I really look up to him! About a year ago we were serving near each other and a comment he made has changed my prayers and in turn, has changed my life. He is such a spiritual giant it was evident that he had a close relationship with our Father in Heaven so we talked about prayer and I asked him how he has come to have such a close and personal relationship and he told me "I get on my knees and I pray until I feel sincere. I don't ever get up or close my prayer until I feel like I am being sincere." It works and it has changed my life and I love him for it.
-Stake Leadership Meeting and Conference were fantastic. The Sisters did a stellar job in the training and your added words and witness and inspiration seemed to be the whipped cream and cherry on top. We are so proud of them and grateful for you! We are so grateful that President Gray would give to us and trust us with such a great opportunity and responsibility.
-Stake Conference was magnificent. What a revalatory and spiritual experience.
-The Spear family gave us a call and asked if we could come over for lunch with them-waffles. We had a really neat experience with them and through the discussions in their home and in the car as they picked us up we could feel a tremendous amount of love and trust and gratitude from them for us and from us for them.
-We were out trying different people, walking from place to place when we saw a man walking on the other side of the street in our direction so we went over to talk to him. He was really friendly and introduced himself as Raymond and asked us what we were out doing. We told him we were out sharing our experiences with how Christ has changed our lives. So he asked us, somewhat excited, how Christ had changed our lives. Elder Yamane shared his powerful testimony of the direction and peace that has been brought to his life because of Christ and the gospel and I talked about how much more love and joy I have felt in my life and how it has affected my relationships so greatly and positively and he masterfully compared my experience to putting on a nice, new suit, and how it transforms yourself and your relationships with others as well. I slaughtered his parable but it really was masterfully done and so powerful and he thanked us from the bottom of his heart telling us that we had inspired him. He told us he would like to buy us dinner and pulled out 18 one dollar bills and despite our telling him we couldn't accept his generous offer he took my hand and put the money in it and said "You've inspired me. You can't not accept my gift." not giving us much of a choice and then begged us if we could pray with him. He gave a magnificent and beautiful prayer after which he thanked us again saying, "You've inspired me. Thank you so much for going out and sharing your experience and spirit. It is transforming. I could've been on my way to chop off my Brother in Law's head for having done something small and insignificant but through your experience in sharing the word could change everything for me." We got his number and address and set up an appointment with him and after we had parted ways, marveling at the experience we had just had, we looked back at him and there was a huge knife sticking out of his back pocket...it could be that he really had thoughts before we met of going to his Brother in Law's house to chop off his head but wether that really ever was an intention of his or not, we were able to walk away confident that the thought was now far from him and we had all walked away edified and uplifted.
-We were able to go out with one of our young men last night, Josh, and it was the first time he has ever been out with the missionaries! We didn't know that until we were with him so we were even more disappointed than we would have been before when both of our set appointments cancelled on us right before. But we went out and tried a bunch of people. It was so neat, we tried Destiny, someone we met earlier in the week who said we could come by, and she wasn't home but her boyfriend, Gray, was home. We talked with him for a few minutes and he explained his experience and relationship with God and told us we could give him a call and come by again and he would love to talk with us. Josh thought that was just the neatest thing and had such a great night! We really can't ever fail when we are doing our best on the Lord's errand. We had a great time and it ended up being a success even though it seemingly looked as though we were going to fail Josh on his first experience going out with the missionaries.

Have a blessed week. I love you dearly!

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

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