Monday, May 22, 2017

The Blessing- Week 95

I stand all amazed, I marvel, and I think of the One that this is all about. I am in awe always when I look at the power, glory, Spirit, splendor and miracles of this work that He is is directing, upholding, and flourishing. It was such a spiritual week for me as I was able to participate in four of the most spiritual and emboldening lessons I have ever been apart of. I know with a certainty that the Spirit is the ultimate teacher and that the work of man cannot and will not frustrate the work of the Lord, meaning, even when I say something wrong, the Spirit changes the things I say from the time it leaves my mouth to the time they hear it to the very exact thing they need to hear, know, and feel. I've seen it and I've felt it.

Monday-We visited with her and talked a little bit about what we do and we aligned visions about what we expect and what she expects out of being able to visit together and just had great conversation with her.
Wednesday-We went over to her apartment with out Elders Quorum President and had a wonderful lesson with her about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and she was just soaking it all up. She has so many pure and true foundational beliefs that align perfectly with the doctrine of the scriptures and the Church and was so excited to have a Book of Mormon and to read 2 Nephi 31.
Sunday-She came to church with us yesterday and absolutely loved it. She was participating in everything and kept commenting about how much she was enjoying being there and how much she enjoyed all of the people and everything that was talked about and the whole nine yards. She even read 2 Nephi 31 between our visit and church yesterday. We fully expect her to make great strides in the gospel and is progressing so quickly to baptism it's remarkable!

Hannah and Landon:
Since last week we taught Hannah three times and had the most spiritual and inspirational visits in every single instance.
Monday- (Restoration at Landon's apartment)
Tuesday- (Plan of Salvation at Landon's apartment)
Friday- High hopes and good news! Hannah flew into Chicago for two job interviews since she just graduated college and she did incredible and got both of those offers which we were thrilled with and was an answer to her's and our own prayers but the icing on the cake will be when she finds out this week if she got a job in Edmond for another interview she had. We are confident she will get the job and will then have the option to stick around here if that's what she chooses to do.
Sunday- (Gospel of Jesus Christ at the temple)
As they talked about the potential for eternal families (her absolute favorite) it sparked a lot of questions about the temple. We had our lesson last night with her on the front steps at the temple. I wish I could express to you guys the spirit that was there, and the joy that we felt. I have seen some amazing miracles on my mission, but as the subject says, it just keeps getting better. I just keep getting happier. These people just keep moving forward. We taught The Gospel of Jesus Christ and along with teaching faith and repentance, the natural course was to teach about the sacred step of baptism. Hannah is the most sincere, and humble and contrite person. When we invited her to follow the example of Christ and be baptized she was SILENT for at least 20 seconds but felt like 9 years.. She then gave the most genuine and sincere "yes" that I have ever heard. The light switch entrance of the spirit doesn't happen too often. We are taught that more often than not it's like a sunrise. We got the light switch!! She has studied over half of The Book of Mormon already, and as any truth-seeker does, she knows that it's true with everything that she has. We never wanted to leave, but the most incredible part is to know that we aren't the source of her conversion. She told us last night that she never planned on a second lesson. She never planned on coming back to church. She sure didn't plan on accepting an invitation to be baptized. The way the Spirit works in her and the way she allows it to touch her is such a rare and special occurrence and experience. She is needed. I don't know why. I don't know what God has in store for her, but he has softened her heart. We have a great relationship with Hannah and Landon but that's not where her faith lies. She is moving back down to Dallas for the time being this Tuesday. Wherever she gets hired will depend on if we continue to see her progress, or if it's in Dallas, or Chicago. I have every bit of faith that she has truly "Felt to sing the song of redeeming love". Wherever she ends up is where her progress will take place but one thing is certain and that is that she will continue to progress and thrive in the gospel.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Blessing- Week 94

It was so sad, after finals were over there was a mass exodus of people packing up and heading out of school and Edmond back to wherever they call home for the summer so a lot of the people we have been meeting with and teaching we won't be able to visit again until they get back this fall. You could imagine it has been a fun week figuring out everyone that is staying that we can keep talking with over the summer and it's been truly amazing to feel the sustaining hand of the Lord as so many people have left, how He has provided us with so many opportunities and still so many people who have a desire to learn and to act on the path of faith and repentance leading to eternal life. 

One of those such people was Hannah who came to church with Landon again yesterday! Sacrament meeting was great and I always cherish that special time in the remembrance of Christ, sacred things, and spiritual renewal. In gospel principles class we talked about faith in Jesus Christ, and you could see and feel how much she was treasuring the words, testimonies, and power of the spirit that was there. Right after that we stayed in there with her and Landon and she began asking questions which developed into an experience where the Spirit was so present and tangible in talking about conversion and how families can be sealed for eternity that tears filled our eyes and warmth and light seemed to fill the room. She has such a firm testimony and confessed that the last 8 days of coming to church with us and talking with Landon and then us she has felt a great increase in her faith in Jesus Christ and joyfully asked for a Book of Mormon and with anticipation accepted the invitation to read 3 Nephi 11-28. 

I cannot deny the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that Jesus Christ lives and stands on the right hand of Power, our Eternal Heavenly Father seeking for ways to demonstrate His grace, mercy, love and to impart His wisdom and goodness upon each of us for our benefit, happiness, and success. I love them and I know that Christ's Church is on the earth, that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are in all matter of fact, the very word of God. I know it and I love it and I give thanks for it. What a special opportunity it was to visit with my family last night who I have been sealed to. I'm grateful for my angel mother and for each member of my family, they help me to feel a portion of God's true and pure love and the joy He must experience when we are seeking just do to good things. That's really what it is all about, family and love.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

 While we were texting all our potential investigators this was one of the texts we received from one of them!  It was pretty funny!

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Blessing- Week 93

What an incredible week!

We talked with nearly the whole world this week, I'm nearly certain. We had our booth on campus three times this week and that is always one of the neatest and most personal and uplifting activities to talk with people and to build connections and relationships quickly. I absolutely love being able to talk with and relate to and teach and be uplifted with and share a spiritual experience with so many individuals who are my own age. It was the last week of school and everyone was trying to prepare for and cope with finals and many were also trying to make preparations to pack up and head home for the summer so we met a lot of people who asked us to call them and meet after finals were over, people who said we could call at the start of the fall semester, others who said we could send missionaries to talk with them again, we set a few appointments with some, but all in all it was and is the greatest thing to be able to talk with so many people and have such intimate and spiritual conversations centered on Christ and his ability to strengthen and enable and save us and for so many, we were able to talk with them abut how He can help them through their studies and testing and life as they take time to focus on Him. What a glorious thing to be able to witness as others faith is increased.

We saw so many miracles with so many of those individuals and the conversations we had but yesterday was something extra special. There are dozens and dozens of people showing up at our ward for summer sales and one of them, Landon, met a girl here in Oklahoma at a dance on Saturday night and after talking she, Hannah, told him she wanted to come to his church because he was so different. He doesn't drink or do drugs or sleep around and she just felt different around him and could just tell there was something different and special about him. So they walked in together and he introduced her to us and she enjoyed Sacrament meeting, Elder Burrows got to teach about the restoration of the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ in the latter-days and she was just glowing and so mesmerized through the entire class.

I was so fortunate and blessed to be able to go back to OU for Alice's baptism on Saturday and there was such a beautiful spirit felt there and she is so committed to following and learning and knowing our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. What a special and sacred and spiritual experience it was for me to be able to witness that and be apart of God's plan in bringing about His mighty purposes and blessings in her life.

The gospel is just so special. I love this work and I am so grateful I get to see Heavenly Father's mighty hand working for the success and happiness and salvation of us, His children.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Blessing- Week 92

I feel like I'm in the most remarkable dream. Time really just doesn't seem to exist right now and I believe it is because of the teaching of Alma; "...all is as one day with God, and time is measured only unto men." (Alma 40:8). For example, Analee will be 10 years old tomorrow, I remember her being 8 years old when I left and it feels like that was just a couple days ago. Carson is 16 and going to his first prom and when I left, dating wasn't even a thought yet for him. Tyson is nearly 18 and about to graduate, has a business and is preparing to go college and play some soccer there while he is at it.  Carson and Tyson are both taller and bigger than I am now and I'm sure I could still take them in a wrestling match though I don't really need to prove it...

I've had so many life altering, spiritual experiences, I've made so many friends, learned so much, and drawn nearer to my Heavenly Father and my Examplar, Jesus Christ, than what I had ever considered or imagined to be possible to this point in my life in what seems to simply be a pure dream, over the span of a singular night, for a young boy. I am beyond grateful for this miraculous and timeless dream I am in.

Miracle: Monte
We found Monte a couple weeks ago but weren't able to make our first scheduled appointment work out so after Elder Burrows and I spent a few hours going through every single non-member contact in the phone and we got back in contact with Monte and were able to work something out to see him that same day! We had a truly spiritual encounter together and when we asked when he would like for us to come together and talk again he asked if we could meet the next day. He has such a profound and touching story and such a desire to learn of and follow Christ. He seems so excited about the gospel and we are thrilled to continue inviting and helping him along this wonderful path.

Miracle: Maynor
We lost contact with Maynor for the last week and a half and haven't known what to do! He wouldn't ever respond to our texts or calls but of course, in miraculous fashion, came to church yesterday and informed us that his phone stopped working and he will be in Kansas this week for work but he has been thinking about everything we've been talking about and he is seeing God's hand in his life in so many ways the last couple weeks since we began meeting together and it was such a wonderful reunion to see him again and to talk with him and he took our number and promised to come to church next week and we have just grown to love him so much. He has the most pure and humble spirit and desires and wants nothing more than to be a good man and a godly man and he really believes, and we know, that the gospel and power of Jesus Christ will help him to do that because that is everything that Heavenly Father wants for him. 

Miracle: Church
Over the last six months, as I have been really self-evaluating and relfecting, I have asked a few questions and have been seeking revelation and inspiration to really grow and thrive personally and yesterday in Sacrament meeting, the topic of the speakers was "Firm in the Faith of Christ" and I truly received further light, knowledge and enlightenment-receiving answers to my questions and received such a powerful, spiritual witness and confirmation that this really is the answers I've been seeking for. I know that God hears and answers prayers. I know He is my Father and that He loves me and I know that it is line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little that he teaches and answers me.

I just love this work and I love the gospel. I wish I now knew the words to express my gratitude and my thanks. I stand all amazed.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks