Friday, February 17, 2017

The Blessing- Week 81

It really has been quite the week! The Village has treated me so well and I felt so blessed with the way I was able to leave there. We were so busy and had so much fun and it was such a contrast as I reflected on my first day and week in the area. I am so grateful this is the Lord's work ad not mine because if it was my work I never would have been able to witness so many miracles and experienced so much love and support and growth. 
My last day in the Village we met three ladies (a mother, daughter, and friend) around 11:00 and rode over to talk to them and hopped off our bikes and walked with them for a couple miles to their home and had a powerful Christ centered conversation with them. We were able to talk about so many restored truths and told them we wanted to come by that night to give them a Book of Mormon Stories and Restoration DVD so we did and when we dropped it off we were able to set a return appointment for the next day and they were so excited to have the DVD that they said they would watch it that night and we could talk about it with them when we came over the next day. We also went over to David's house (a recent convert) for a lesson and the home that he lives in is also occupied by 8 or 9 other people. the owner is a member and in the last year three people from this home have been baptized and continues to be  a great place to find individuals who are prepared and wanting the gospel as it has been restored. We are teaching a man in the home, who came to church a couple of weeks ago, named Mark and on Tuesday when we went over, David was on the porch as was another lady, who has recently moved in, named Jacquie As we talked with David, she was involved with the conversation and at the end before we left we were given an opportunity to teach briefly in less than a couple minutes about the restoration and what we believe upon her request to know more from her peaked interest. As we testified the Spirit filled the porch and she asked us to come back and teach her more because she "always felt like something had been missing and this feels so right, like it may fill that void I have always had." Our Father in Heaven truly does prepare the hearts of His children through their experiences and situations and places them in the right places at the right times to receive the fullness of His blessings and joy and peace. 
OU has been such a fun and new and stunning experience!!! It is so different from anything else I have ever done as a missionary so it has taken some adjusting but I'm absolutely loving it! I'm really learning a new meaning of "success" as a missionary and coming to understand myself more fully so I am thrilled that I have been blessed with such an opportunity to get to meet and talk to so many new people and to be able to learn and grow so rapidly and in such an innovative way. I've been able to see some really neat miracles and been able to teach a lot with Elder Hays already since we've become companions.
The Sermon on the Campus (or, Ammonihah-Alma + Amulek teaching on the hill):
My first full day on campus we were walking around and all these students on campus have those hammocks that you can buy and put up basically anywhere so we went to talk with a group of four of them "hammocking" (I guess it is a verb now...) and through the conversation we all started talking about how Christ has influenced and changed our lives and what we do to continue to build faith in Him. They began asking us more and more questions about what we believe and about the Book of Mormon. Throughout the whole interaction, another three separate individuals saw all of us talking and came up to join in the conversation and also began to ask questions and to talk with us and it was so neat because they didn't know us or the initial group of four. We taught about the Restoration and as we all talked together, depending on the question or what we were talking about people would pay more or less attention and towards the end, a girl began packing up to go to class and Elder Hays recited the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith in regards to his experience in the garden praying and as he began, every single person stopped everything and dialed in on him and it was, as it appeared to me, as if the rest of campus and time stood still. I know, with every fiber of my mortal and eternal being, to the very core of my Spirit, that Jesus is indeed the Christ and He appeared with His Father and my Father, to the boy Joseph Smith demonstrating greater love than has ever been displayed with the only exceptions of Christ suffering in Gethsemane and on Golgatha and the Father preparing this divine plan of love for our happiness. It is all true, I know this and am grateful beyond description of words that I currently know.
I love this work and am so grateful to be on OU and for all of the experiences and miracles God has allowed me to witness and be apart of in His tender mercy. God is love-if one will seek out God, he will find love and if one will seek out love, he will find God. Happy Valentines (love) week! I hope and pray that we might all, this week and always, feel of and seek after God's love and to share it with others.

Keep the Faith,
Elder Ricks

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