Monday, July 24, 2017

The Blessing- Week 104

Bike week! Oh, the inspiration of President Mansell under the direction of the Lord, I am so grateful for it! We love to bike as it is but we saw even more miracles than usual this week because of the unique opportunity to have our car grounded and to either bike or get a ride with a member to wherever we were going. I wish I had the time to go through miracle after miracle of biking all week but I think my favorite series of miracles took place on Wednesday night.
We had biked to the institute building and were walking all through campus, talking with everyone we could spot and we came across one of the recent converts of our ward, Emmerson! She hasn't been able to come to church in a couple of months because of work so we got to walk with her to her work at Sonic and Wednesday was their special $0.99 hot dog deal so we each ordered one of those and they had ran out o buns and different things and it took about a half hour for us to get our hot dogs so it was great opportunity to be able to talk with her, particularly about her recent studies from the Book of Mormon. While we were there we got to see two other people we've met before and were able to set up an appointment with them! We were going out with a member at 6:00 so with the slight delay at Sonic we realized we would be late and were going to call Kherissa to let her know we might be a couple of minutes late but weren't able to do that because I discovered that I didn't have the phone. 
We left at 5:55 and began running the mile and a half to try to make it back to the institute building on time and passing through campus we stopped by the bench I last remembered using the phone at and it was still there! We got back to the institute building at 6:03, a sweaty mess and talked with Kherissa about our plans for the night and because she is a lone female we couldn't ride with her so we gave her directions to where we were going and took off biking to meet her there! 
She followed us and we went to see a girl named Taylor that we had met a couple months ago and felt inspired to go try and knocking on her door another young woman named Kelly, from Cameroon Africa and we got to talk with her instead for about 40 minutes and learned of some of her life story and experiences and were able to share the Book of Mormon with her and had a really spiritual experience all together. 
We left there and began walking back to visit someone else and stopped to talk with another guy, William, by commenting on his shoes and asking about them which led to him sharing with us his story about playing football in college and then having a cancerous tumor and how upset he was with God and about a young girl nearly 8 years old who was at the hospital also with cancer who became his best friend and supporter and turned him back toward God and several weeks after he was healed and cancer free she passed away and we were able to share the Book of Mormon with him also and had another spiritual experience with him.
Still on our walk over to see this person we had originally planned to see, we stopped and began talking with a man named Alex who was carrying a little girl. We learned that he is from Greece and the girl is his girlfriend's daughter and he asked what we were doing so we let him know a little bit about us and what we were doing and that as missionaries we get to help people come closer to God and to build their faith in Christ and how we are visiting a lot of people throughout the complex and asked if we could come visit he and his girlfriend and he cheerfully set a time with us that we could come over. 
It was such a fun and miraculous night and I am grateful for the opportunity to  only bike, to work more with these remarkable members of Christ's Church, and to sacrifice and show Heavenly Father our love and dedication to Him and we were greatly blessed to see so many miracles that night and all through out the week, this is His work of blessing and exalting souls.

Keep the Faith,
Elder Ricks

The Blessing- Week 103

Taelor-In zone conference last week, we received training and had a council about Finding and Elder Van Alfen and I got really excited about everything that was said so we have begun talking with all of the members of the ward about all of it and were able to share some of the things we learned last week at dinner with Tyson and Will. Through the discussion they began to recall experiences from their missions and Tyson began sharing some of the things he has been trying to do to share the gospel with his classmates and coworkers and out of nowhere Will exclaimed "Wow, I suck. I am a terrible member missionary..." Elder Van Alfen and I explained to them that at the beginning of the transfer we wanted to bring two individuals into the fold through the waters of baptism, one of them we knew, the other we didn't know yet. As we talked about this, we learned that Will and I have the same amount of time left in Oklahoma and we decided all together that we would find someone to teach and baptize into Christ's Church and they will find someone who can be taught and baptized into Christ's Church before we go home. We were all really excited about the goals we set together and we left that dinner with a fire and excitement to find those that the Lord has prepared. 
We began praying, they began praying, that we could all have the success in the Lord that we felt the Spirit testified to us that we could be apart of.
Tyson came teaching with us this last Tuesday and our appointment at 6:00 fell through and we felt prompted and decided to go try an investigator, whom we haven't been able to get a hold of or see for the last 3 weeks, before our next appointment.
We arrived and knocked on the door and a girl answered. We began talking with her and learned quickly of a terrible car accident she was in about 3 weeks ago and it could've/should've been a lot worse than it was, about how she hadn't been to church in quite a while and couldn't find one that she wanted to be apart of or had time for, about how she hasn't felt happy for the last three years-since she was in high school and was with a good group of friends who went to a Bible study together every morning at 6:00 am, and about how she lived several years in Idaho next to a Mormon family whom became dear family friends and who her sister had been visiting for 2 months this summer and was supposed to fly in the next day and how they had gone to church with them several times while they lived in Idaho. We relayed a favorite scripture from the Book of Mormon with her and offered her the book which she took with a heart full of thanks and excitement exclaiming, "I will definitely read this, I can't wait. I think my accident was God slapping me on the hand and letting me know He is ready to have a deeper and greater relationship again and it's time for me to find my way back."

John, Gina, and Elizabeth- A couple weeks ago we met John and in a miraculous way he invited us over so we took the opportunity and just last night we were able to go back to see him and were privileged, by God's grace and mercy and perfect timing to meet his girlfriend and one of his friends and taught them of the restoration of our Lord's Church and Kingdom on the earth. They soaked it all up, asked great questions, and expressed great thanks for sharing everything we did and for giving each of them their own Book of Mormon.

Biking Miracle- Our Mission President has issued a mission-wide bike week for this week starting yesterday so we got out of our visit with John, Gina, and Elizabeth at about 9:20 and had a 5 mile bike ride home so we took off cooking and actually made great time! On the road at 9:45 we were at the last stretch, just over a quarter of a mile away from our apartment so I turned and yelled to Elder Van Alfen, "Beat me home!!" he looked at me, slightly confused and concerned saying "There's cars?!" I responded with a gentle and loving "Sissy!!" he took off and I turned back around and just as I did so my front tire began grinding on the side of the curb and I knew it was imminent so I had to decide if I was going to fall to the left into the road or to the right onto the side walk...Recognizing what Elder Van Alfen had said about cars I quickly opted to fall to the right and gracefully went slightly over my handle bars and my shoulder met the ground and I skipped for a second and proceeded to slide on the ground on my shoulder and my back for about 5 yards.:) Now, there are two miracles to this story! #1 It was the first bike crash I have had as a missionary so I made it 1 year and 52 weeks without wrecking which is a mighty miracle of itself!! #2 I was totally fine and my bike still works great and I was worried that if I beat Elder Van Alfen home that he would be slightly upset but instead he got to laugh a little bit and beat me home so on all accounts we are blessed and it was a miracle haha:)

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Blessing- Week 102

Edmond is Zion, heaven, the courts of glory, paradise, etc. I am convinced that this is the best place and these are the best people under the heavens! As always, there are more miracles and blessings than I can count or that I can recount, especially by way of email but this week, the greatest miracle of all has been conversion and excitement in myself and Elder Van Alfen and in the lives of nearly everyone in the ward and in our area!

What a spectacle it has been to witness the last two months of Ashanti's stunning and miraculous conversion. She has been one of God's elect and it has been such a blessing to be able to see her excitement and love of the gospel grow and flourish until she has been brim with joy and overflowing with excited anticipation for her baptism. She was baptized last night and was so calm and at peace and full of gratitude and joy for all the Lord has done for her throughout her life and especially the last couple of months. Conversion is the most incredible, uniting, and beautiful miracle to witness.

I know this is the Lord's work and I've been able to feel an ever increasing abundance of God's love and Spirit this last week. I know of the power of the Sacrament and of prayer and study and faith and repentance and baptism and other covenants with the Divine and of the power which is in Christ.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks

 Elder Van Alfen, Ashanti's mother, Ashanti, Elder Yamane, and Elder Ricks

Six months ago I was so blessed to serve with Elder Yamane and now I receive the special blessing of being served by Elder Yamane as he is now my District Leader! I love him so much and was grateful that he was the one who was able to talk with Ashanti personally, on Friday before her baptism yesterday, in the way the Savior would in seeking out her story of conversion and being able to witness that she truly is repentant and prepared to be baptized into the Lord's Church and Kingdom here on the earth. With such a sacred experience, Ashanti asked Elder Yamane to baptize her and it was such a spiritual evening!

The Blessing- Week 101

The field is white, already to harvest, I can see it and I know it and I believe Christ in every word and promise He has ever made. In John 4:31-38, Jesus taught this truth and promised that we aren't here to sow now and reap in four months, but that instead we are sent to reap now and in the process of reaping, naturally and immediately sowing becomes a byproduct. I know that there are still people that the Lord, in His infinite love and wisdom, has prepared personally and through others of His children for Elder Van Alfen and I to bring into His harvest of souls. A couple weeks ago, Elder Van Alfen and I prayerfully sought the Lord's will and felt encouraged by a heaven sent thought that we knew of one individual, Ashanti, who is coming unto Christ through faith and baptism unto repentance and that there is one other individual, currently unknown to us, who is also prepared to come unto Christ this month through faith and baptism unto repentance.

We have been able to see God's mighty hand in so many ways and be the beneficiaries and witnesses of so many miracles. One particular miracle that touched me this week was our experience with John. We felt impressed to go to an apartment complex and try a few people we had previously met and talked with, the first didn't answer and we walked out to go to the next and casually began conversation with John about his hair and how long he had been growing it out. Without more than a three sentence conversation, he said "Do you want anything ot eat or drink? I am getting my mail right now but you are welcome to meet me back at my apartment to talk." Frankly, I was shocked and I'm sure I looked as dumbfounded as I sounded when we stumbled with a response that we were going to try one of our friends from our congregation and then we would be happy to meet him at his apartment. We tried this young couple, again to no avail, and with a prayer of thanksgiving went to John's apartment where we were able to have a 45 minute conversation about where his faith and relationship with God are at and he inquired about the one thing he had heard about Mormon's, being baptized on behalf of the deceased. After an explanation about prophets and temples and about that glorious doctrine and piece of God's plan for each of our salvation, he was nodding his head in absolute agreement and told us it just makes sense. "...the Lord is preparing people to receive you and the restored gospel. He will lead you to them or He will lead them to you." Preach My Gospel ch. 9

This really is the work of our Heavenly Father, the field truly is white already to harvest, and I am grateful to be on His errand.

Keep the faith,
Elder Ricks