Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas from DC!

What a Merry Christmas it was to hear from our beautiful missionary! She is doing fantastic! We didn't get much info in her last email to us other than all of the instructions and such as to when she would be calling us!  On her last P-Day she was busy making, buying and wrapping presents for her family and those in her ward who have done so much for her. And..just so everyone knows, it sounds like she got all of the packages and cards that you all sent to her. (At least all of the ones that I knew about from you contacting me for her address). She showed us a picture of everything she received from all of you and I could not believe how spoiled she was! Thank you so much for thinking about her!  She was just totally overjoyed with the thoughtfulness and generosity from so many of you! We cannot thank you enough for being such an awesome support to her!

Below, I attached a few fun pictures that we got from her this week. Its so awesome to be able to "see" what she has been doing!  Mariah is definitely sharing her zest for life with those who come in contact with her!! 

      
  

Mariah said that she feels so blessed to have a car.  One of the pics above shows the car that they drive around every day. They named it Franklin..haha. She has such a large area to cover and says that they would not be able to reach the people that they need to without the access of a car.  She is especially grateful to have the car in these winter months because it is sooo cold!! 

I loved the simple, meaningful things that Mariah shared in her last group email so I'm going to post it below so that you can read it in her own words.

 "Hola todo!!

How are you all?? I feel like some of you have fallen off the face of the earth, I wanna hear from you!!

This week has been pretty great!! We went on exchanges this week with the Sister Training Leaders, and I had to lead the area for my first exchange. It was kinda scary to think of at first, but I got over it real quick. So Hermana Quinones came and stayed in my area with me (Springlake Stake)  and Hermana McMillan (my companion) went over to Bellavista Stake. It was fun, I learned a lot!!

My Spanish is progressing, slowly but surely. Day to day it feels as though it is not getting any better, but when I look back on my notes and things from week to week, it is improving miraculously! Weird how that works, I'm not even going to try to wrap my head around it.

So we have a baptism scheduled for this Saturday, one of our investigators, who is 15 years old. He is an awesome kid. We recently discovered he is barely outside of our area though, because we were teaching him in a member's home that lives in our stake. But one day we had to go to his apartment because the member was out of town, and we realized he doesn't live in our stake!! SO figuring that out has been quite a hassle, but hopefully we can get everything worked out!

During this season of "El es la Dadiva," or "He is the Gift," I have really been able to see the true meaning of Christmas and how much my savior means to me. Without him, we would be stuck and not be able to progress eternally. Through his example, we can be baptized and through his atonement all of our sins can be forgiven. All the sorrow, pain and guilt we feel can be washed away, through the amazing gift of our Savior. Let us all remember him in this time, and remember how blessed we are to have a knowledge on this earth of the true gospel. The knowledge that through Christ, we can gain eternal life, and that through His mercy we can return to live with God and our families again forever.

I love being a missionary, and every day it seems as though 18 months is a shorter and shorter amount of time to really dedicate my service to the Lord. There are some hard days/hours, but the only way we can be built up is to humble ourselves before the Lord, and realize that when it really comes down to the Grand Perspective of things, we CANNOT possibly do what we need to do on our own. We need that divine guidance through the spirit. We need to make the best choices we can possibly make, for this life is short. We need to have Charity. We need to serve. WE NEED JESUS CHRIST.

It is my prayer that you all go about and remember the true meaning of Christmas, thank you for all the love and support. You are all truly amazing, I love each and every single one of you! :)

Con amor,

Hermana Riddle :)"

Mariah sent a package to our family for Christmas! How thoughtful! It is a blessing that she is in the United States and that we can count on the mail system to send and receive things! We LOVED the stuff that she sent to us! Our kids trade off giving to each other each year at Christmas and Mariah had McKayla as her person to give to this year. The gift was just absolutely perfect for McKayla! It was so awesome though for all of us to get a special gift from her that reminds us of where she is:) The pic below shows the stuff that she sent to each one of us! 



In the package she included a letter to our family and she wrote a special message to each one of us.  Oh how we will all cherish the messages that we received. Mariah is such a beautiful daughter of God. We just love her so much! Also, included in the package was a card from her companion. I am going to attach what her companion wrote because it really paints a picture of the relationship that Mariah has with her companion. See below.




Here is a video that we recorded from our face time conversation with Mariah on Christmas.  She wanted to say "Hi" to everyone and thank all of you who have been so supportive of her. I can't get over what a cutie she is!  


video


OK now..funny story. Mariah said that in her apartment complex they have 2 sets of sister missionaries. So, just one other set of sisters besides Mariah and her companion. Because the sisters have been receiving a lot of letters and packages the mailman has gotten to know them pretty well.  Mariah said that he is Vietnamese and is the sweetest guy. If one set of missionaries isn't home he will drop off the packages with the other set and leave a note on their door to go get them. And then of course if no one is home he will leave the packages at the office. One day Mariah and her companion received a package that was actually a present from the mailman! He gave them a bottle of wine and some glasses haha! He gave the other sisters the same thing! Mariah said that she was so appreciative of his thoughtfulness and said it meant a lot to her that out of all the people he delivers to that he would think about them at Christmastime. Although he gave them something they wouldn't be able to use, (he of course didn't know that they didn't drink wine) Mariah said that she will cherish the nice gesture and keep the glass forever!  I am not sure what they did with the wine but Mariah mentioned that they were able to meet up with the other sisters for a bit on Christmas Eve and they all used the glasses the mailman gave them with some sparkling grape juice:) The pic below shows the gift. (If you didn't know the story behind this, the picture would tell a totally different story..haha).




This post would be so long if I told you everything that we learned by talking to Mariah on Christmas- so, i will just say that she is absolutely loving her mission! She loves her companion and loves the people she is serving. She receives confirmation over and over again that she is where she is supposed to be, doing what she is supposed to be doing. We see the blessings each and every day that come from her dedicated service to Lord.

This is one HAPPY FAMILY!!








Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The work is hastening! #sharethegift


On the LDS missionaries Facebook page they posted this beautiful picture of the Washington DC temple. Seeing this temple just brought me so much peace and I felt such comfort in knowing that Mariah is serving the people out in DC so that they will ultimately receive the blessings that are found by attending the temple some day. It just made me feel a little closer to Mariah even though she is far away. What a tender mercy! I am so grateful for those little tender mercies that we can feel each day.




This week has been such a busy crazy week so I will just share a few things with you from Mariah's recent letters to us and then attach her group letter. Hopefully I'll be more on the ball next week to share more.

Mariah says that her Spanish is coming along well and that she can carry out a pretty meaningful conversation.  She said that her companion had never taken Spanish in school so that is why her and Mariah were at pretty much the same level of speaking when Mariah got there.  Mariah's companion has been out 3 months longer than her.  She mentioned that they usually train the new missionaries for 12 weeks but says that she thinks hers will be 13 weeks because this 1st transfer period will be 7 weeks instead of 6. 


We received more detail about those that she has on date for baptism and for others that she is teaching.  We would love it if you would join us in praying for her and her investigators. We know without a doubt that prayer works and that we can offer her that help from back here at home. She said that both of her baptisms that were scheduled on the 13th didn't go through. One was the investigator that she talked about last week. (See last weeks blog post) The other was just re-scheduled because they need to teach her a little more.  

The next baptism that is scheduled is on the 27th of December and I believe it is a 16 year old girl. Mariah describes her as the CUTEST, soft spoken girl who prays and reads all the time and is super content with her baptism date. She is not the one that was re-scheduled. I'm not going to to put names on here for privacy reasons because Mariah will be a Facebook missionary in a few weeks and she will be able to "friend" her investigators and they may have access to see the blog. We'll have to figure all of that out when it comes. I might have to make the blog private..ahhh..we'll see.  Anyway, she has another 15 year boy on date for baptism and says he is a super cool kid, and that he wants to serve a mission and everything. They are also teaching his sister and she hasn't accepted baptism yet but she takes all of the lessons with him. 

She had another little girl who is 9 on date for baptism and said that she is just SOLID! She said that she understands everything and that when they teach her something new she can just spout off why it is important. For example, this is what Mariah shared about her, in her words..."The other day we taught her about tithing and I shared with her the impact that it has had on my family. She was like 'AHH I need to do that!' Without us even needing to extend an invite, haha she's cute." Mariah said that she is not on date for baptism anymore because her mom wants her to learn the Catholic religion first and then make a decision. She doesn't even think that her mom is Catholic but I guess she just wants her to learn about another religion. The little girl told Mariah that she doesn't want to learn about the Catholic religion and Riah said that she is just super anxious to be baptized. Mariah mentioned that the girl is really good friends with a family in her ward and is always at their house. Member missionary work at it's finest:) So..for right now, they are just waiting for her to learn about the Catholic religion too. Meanwhile, I think they are still teaching her.

Mariah gets fed by members each day which is great!  This is what she said about the food though.."The food is better than the MTC but- we get fed SO MUCH MEAT! I have never eaten so much meat in my life, it makes me feel heavy and sick. Ha, so at home all I eat is like chocolate milk and fruit, and little snacks." Even though she is in the US, she gets fed food from so many different cultures because she is among Spanish speaking people who are from all over the world.

Here is Mariah's most recent group email..

Hola everyone!!

Ok so I'm sitting on the metro right now writing this to y'all headed to downtown DC!! There's no wifi though so this'll send when my iPad connects ha.


Ok so funny story that happened on Saturday. I have never been so astonished to see a library in my life.. So we had just gotten finished with teaching an investigator and we needed to find a library in Fairfax to send our weekly report.. Our gps was finding like all these libraries outside our area or areas that were too far to drive (we can only go a certain amount of miles each month), also that is the pain of not having Google on the mission but oh well.. Anyways, we were like I guess we should just pull over some where real quick and look on the gps for somewhere we can go like fast food to connect to wifi to sync our iPads.. So my companion Hermana McMillan just makes a random turn into this place down the road behind all these trees and we are driving up the side of this big building. All of the sudden, she's like.. "Is this a LIBRARY?!" It was. Chantilly regional library.  Our gps did not have that on there. So yep, I was laughing my head off as you can imagine because I apparently think everything is funny that really isn't, and so we go in and get our report done and leave. Ahh man, the Lord works in mysterious ways.. Ha it was funny because she just turned the car on a whim and we end up at this library!! Anyways, that story was probably a "had to be there" moment but I thought it was cool.


Picture at the "Miracle Library"as Mariah calls it


Ok so I just wrote this first paragraph before DC, but we're headed back now so I'll finish up this email! Man the benefits of having an iPad. I thank the Lord for it every day! It makes things so much easier!! But yeah, DC was super awesome, we went to the Washington monument today and the Lincoln memorial. We were going to go to the museum of natural history (you know,the one from nights at the museum:)) but it was SO NICE outside today!! Haha we met up with my MTC companion, which ha funny, her companion was my companion's MTC companion!! Hope that makes sense, but yeah so we decided to do the monuments today because the next opportunity we have to go to DC will probably be cold outside!!


 



Well, the work is hastening, I can attest to that. We went to our mission Christmas conference last Friday as well, and President Stephen Stutter talked to us, he is a man very high up in the political world.. He was one of the top 5 men under President Bush, super cool!! He was a mission president in one of the California missions, and he is the "go to man" for the prophet when he needs visas or anything that has to do with the government.. He told us some pretty cool stories that'll have to wait till I return home from my mission but yeah. Basically the gist of his message was to not have fear as a missionary, because the moment you have fear, you are not called to the work. Faith and fear cannot reside in the same heart. He shared a story about some missionaries that just kept getting thrown out ((like LITERALLY thrown)) off this guy's porch, and how the mission president wanted them to go back even though the guy said he would kill them if they came back. Their president told them, "what better place to die than on your mission?"..so they went back and moral of the story the way he heard the story was at this guy's baptism. Wow.

This gospel is amazing, and I see little miracles every day that strengthen my testimony that I KNOW this is the true and correct way God has created for us to follow on this earth. I KNOW that this gospel can touch a person's life in a way that no other "worldly thing" could possibly bring. I am so grateful for this opportunity to dedicate my time to the Lord in this moment by serving those that I come in contact with.

Thank you all so much for your love and support, I can't express how much I appreciate it! Remember the true meaning of Christmas, and remember to #sharethegift, for HE IS THE GIFT.

¡Feliz Navidad! ¡Les amo muchísimo!


Con amor,

Hermana Riddle 

Here are a few more pics that she sent to us this week. The group picture is all of the Hermanas who serve in the DC South Mission. I am sure that she will be able to be companions with many of these sisters. I am so grateful for technology and the ability that we have to hear and "see" each week what she is doing. Enjoy!


              

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2 months down! Work is tough but baptisms are scheduled!!

I love getting updates from Mariah but it is difficult to hear of the many struggles that missionaries face. It is so comforting though to know that they are in the Lord's hands. It's also nice to know that there are members where they are who feed them and help take care and watch over them. Mariah recently had dinner with her district at her branch mission leaders house. All of the missionaries received stockings that a ward Relief Society in their Stake had made for them. How nice! Below is a pic of Riah with her stocking..(cute missionary) and then a picture of those in her district minus one group of Elders.





Mariah says that her and her companion are learning a lot together since both of them haven't been out very long.  She is getting more and more comfortable with her Spanish and she says that the people in her ward can’t believe that she has only been out of the MTC for such a short time because of the way she speaks.  I guess all of those Spanish classes in school really paid off!

She has really had an eventful past week. Here are some stories from her most recent email. I love how it's just some quick detail to let you know a little about a lot of things that she has been doing. 
In Mariah's words..

"Ok so I have a few stories. First-I got attacked by a dog. Well, no, not really, well actually kindof, but it completely ruined one of my boots so that's ok. Ha the owner didn't really do anything about it but oh well, I'm fine I don't really care! Second- we have been teaching English classes for service every week at the church to people who speak Spanish, which has been really fun, I love it! Third- we had a baby blessing in our ward last week that we forgot to mention, and he did it in English, so the mom like rushed and handed us paper and pens to write down everything we could remember during the blessing, that was a cool experience! Fourth- We had a weird experience where this sweet old lady member that we went to visit wanted to give us a drink, and I am pretty sure she was drinking coffee but says it wasn't. We looked at the label and I am pretty sure it was, she was just like, "Nooo noo! Esto es Nestle!" haha so she made us this herbal drink instead that she dumped a bunch of sugar in, and the water (I hope it wasn't water) that she poured in it was like yellow, so we just didn't ask and drank it anyway. It wasn't too bad. But I dunno, she was breaking up cheese chunks and putting it in her "coffee" so we were just kindof whatever with it haha :) She is SO SO sweet though!!

Ok, last story. So yesterday we had stake conference and when we walked out of our apartment our car was gone. So we looked around a bit and then realized that we had parked in a reserved spot. It was dark and rainy the night before and we couldn't see it. Yeah. So that means someone called on us. It's weird though because all the reserved spots are just randomly throughout the parking lot, there isn't like a specific section, yeah our bad. So we had the sisters who lived across the street from us drive us and then ended up finding out after church from the front office where they had taken our car. So we broke the Sabbath and the sisters drove us to the tow center where lo and behold was our car, and it was $185!! OUCH!! We split the cost though, but still. We felt bad but we have such a huge area of coverage since we are in the Spanish program so we kinda need a car.. it's all good, though."

Mariah always sends a written letter home to us each week as well. It just gives her a way to go into more detail about what she is doing and answer all of our questions:). In her last letter to us she said that they have 4 people on date for baptism and one more person that she feels is really close.  Two of the baptisms are scheduled for this Saturday the 13th of December. She has been blessed to teach A LOT of lessons so far. This is what she said about her teaching in her last letter…” Missionary Work is more just teaching to the needs.  So I mean, we still teach lessons but only according to what they need. So we kinda still go in order but it’s different for everyone. It is so cool. You can seriously feel God’s love for everyone and you just know what they need when you are in tune with the Spirit!

She feels so blessed to be able to share the Gospel but says that missionary work is not easy. Her vision is clear though and she knows why she is out there serving. Here is something more that she shared with us in her last letter…” This past week we have gone tracting a bit and we have had doors slammed in our face, like literally. I didn’t know some people could be that rude- OK, I shouldn’t say that- but it was kind of depressing cuz you build up this courage and love/desire to share something with someone and they just completely and utterly reject it-OUCH! But it’s ok, we just have to remember that in the war in Heaven we FOUGHT for agency. We FOUGHT for those people to have the ability to choose. Whether or not they feel something, just as us, it is THEIR decision to act on it. So está bien, (meaning-‘it’s good’) It just hurts sometimes. Bless my companion, such a tender heart, she can get really discouraged at times cuz she isn’t used to tracting as much, so when we started doing that more and having people reject us, I just have to remind her that it’s OK and to keep our heads up because as long as we have the spirit with us and know that we are doing God’s will, we will be blessed and all will be well. Because who was rejected without measure? CHRIST was. Christ was betrayed by HIS OWN apostles. HIS OWN friends. HIS OWN acquaintances-crucified Him. Unimaginable! So, it’s ok-we just keep going! God sent us here to find those souls who are prepared to receive this Gospel. Every day I realize more and more how glorious God’s plan is for us, and how grateful I am to be the Lord’s representative right now, here, at this time. Read (Alma 17:10-17)

On Fast Sunday our family fasted and prayed for Mariah and her investigators.  We sent her an email to let her know that and asked her if she would give us specifics about some of the people she is teaching so that we can pray for them specifically.  In Jared's email to her he mentioned some of the things that he would share with his investigators that he was teaching on his mission after they had committed to baptism. One being that the adversary will work extra hard on them because he does not want them to be baptized. Jared told Mariah that he would share the experience that Joseph Smith had while he was searching for the truth. How Satan tried to stop him because he knew what great vision and blessings were ahead. Below is Mariah's response to the email... I took out the name of the investigator just for privacy reasons.
"So yesterday was our mission fast. You all didn't know that, but it was. My diabetes has been acting kinda weird the past few weeks with changes and all, so when I fasted last week it was kinda rough but I still did it. I wasn't able to fast this week because of that, and it's almost like you fasted in my place, not even knowing that, through the spirit. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!

Oh, and it even gets better. Last night I was praying for one of our investigators. He is 15 and we have been teaching him for a while. He was taught even before I got here, and has already changed his baptismal date a few times. The other night, we kinda got chewed out by his uncle (you know latino homes, there are always a ton of fam in the house), not necessarily chewed out but told like it was. He came over as we were teaching (our investigator). (Our investigator) has kindof stopped progressing as he used to be Pentecostal and his grandfather still is. We were told that his grandpa, every time after (our investigator) had a lesson with us, would come in and tell him that we were of the devil and that this is the devil's church and he is getting sucked in. His family environment has made it really hard for him to keep commitments, and on and on I could go about this, but what it comes down to is that he is super confused and being torn every which way. So we have been praying SO HARD for him. Last night, after we had kindof come to the conclusion with him that we had to let him go, (which was HEARTBREAKING for us and him, he still is going to activites and everything tho cuz he likes it) and only stop by every so often, I was praying so hard. It was like during my prayer I got this revelation that I needed to share that part of the first vision about Joseph Smith being overcome with opposition, and that whenever we are about to make SUPER big decisions in our life for the better, there will ALWAYS come opposition for us as well, because who doesn't want us to be baptized? Satan. So I had the EXACT same thought come to my mind and I knew it was an answer to my prayer, so much I was almost weeping, I can't even describe it. So when you sent that in your email today I could just FEEL it and I KNEW! God has a plan for us, he really does!!"
How neat is that!? God works in mysterious ways.  I am so grateful that Mariah is putting her faith in and relying on Heavenly Father to help her through her mission. Missionary work is not a piece of cake but there is a sweetness to it that cannot be described.

Mariah eating cheesecake from the Cheescake Factory for the first time.
Look at her apartment in the background. Boy she has it rough! Haha




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Yo Hablo Español-Settling In

As you know, Mariah landed safely in DC on November 19, 2014.  She ate dinner with her Mission President and family and then went to a hotel to sleep the first night she got there.  From there on she has been one busy girl!

Here is a pic from when they landed at the airport in DC....they look ready!

  

The day after she arrived in DC she went to a meeting where she received her Ipad, filled out papers and then got her companion.  Her companion is Hermana McMullin and is from Vegas.  She says she is so sweet and genuine and she gets along with her really well. Her companion just barely finished being trained and now is training Mariah!  Mariah said that they are both at about the same level with their Spanish speaking, but that her companion can understand a little more at times because she has been out a little longer.  I think that this will be sooo good for Mariah because it will force her to learn to speak!

Ipads for missionaries certainly come in handy.  We are so blessed that she has one.  She can do her emailing off of it but they have to go to a place where they have wifi. But if she doesn't use a computer on her P-day then we can't get pics and that's a bummer! So, she tries to go somewhere that has a computer. She can screenshot all of her emails once she gets access to them and can read them any time during her P-day!  So awesome! It makes it easier for her to respond by hand writing a letter back to those that she wasn't able to email.  She will be doing her hour of Facebook from her Ipad each day which I believe she will be starting in the next month or so.  I think she will get to facetime or skype us with it on Christmas as well, at least that is what I am hoping:)

Mariah lives in a nice apartment complex,  You better believe that we googled the address when we got it to see where she lived:)  The city she lives in is beautiful!  I have been there and can picture it completely!  The area that she serves in covers a lot of cities because they only teach people who speak Spanish.  She said that just recently they pulled the sisters out of 2 of the places that she would have covered because all the people loved the sisters so much that the elders could never get anyone to teach in that area..haha!  She said that they get to keep the last of their investigators from there but they just can't teach anyone new. Sister missionaries rock! Some of the areas that she covers are a little sketchy as she puts it. They can't cover certain areas at night because they are so sketchy so please pray for her safety! She has had the opportunity to teach so many lessons and has been able to visit so many people already.  Can't wait to hear how things progress!

She has met people from all over the world and says that it is a little difficult because they all speak a different dialect and have different Spanish accents.  So, she can't get used to just one type of Spanish.  Her first weekend there she had a Branch Thanksgiving party on Saturday and then church on Sunday. She said that she realized then how much Spanish she didn't know.  It was a little frustrating to her but she said that the members are so nice in helping them and are so patient in speaking to them so it makes her feel better about things.

This is what she said about her Thanksgiving..

"For Thanksgiving we went to Familia Chinas' house. And no. They are not Chinese they are Hispanic. From Mexico. But yeah it was really good!! We had tostadas with turkey and also this soup that has a form of maiz in it that is HUGE. I didn't know Corn kernels could come that big, but they are good! They also had flan, which I HATE flan, but they way they make it is SO good. It's like a creamish white color with a vanilla taste to it. The day after Thanksgiving we went to a member's house for dinner, and she fed us a bunch of pasta with turkey dog in it. Kinda reminds me of mac and cheese with hot dogs back at home. Haha. Then we went to ANOTHER house where they wanted to feed us and all the missionaries that serve in our ward (us, and 3 elder companionships) dinner, and we ate that too. OH MY they feed you so much here.. I was gonna fall over and die I was so full but really they just give you so much and you like have to eat it. Ha, it's fine though. I love dinners with members though, they are pretty fun. Ahh I love the Latin culture...."

Here is a picture of her and her companion eating some yummy pie!  This is the only pic that we have so far of her and her companion.  She said that the computer was REALLY slow and so it took too long to download pics and she ran out of time :(



Mariah said that she absolutely loves her Mission President!  She said that he will be leaving in July which will be half way through her mission. She is hoping that the new one will be great too! She has a while though. Riah has a really good friend that joined the church about a year ago and moved to the DC area in the summer to be closer to her now fiance. Her friend is the only member in her family besides her aunt and so Mariah really wanted to see if she could get permission to be at the temple when her friend receives her endowments. This is what Mariah said about it....."I talked to President Riggs about going to Taylor's endowment and he said yes! As long as I give him a time and date so he knows when to give me permission to leave the area, super exciting!"  Mariah is so excited to be able to go through with her! What a tender mercy! It touched me so much and let me know that Heavenly Father is truly interested in the little details of our lives. Because really, what are the chances of going on a mission to the place that one of your very best friends is moving to? I know this is not a coincidence!

So far, Mariah is loving DC.  She has been there before when she was younger but wants to be able to see everything again.  This is what she said about actually visiting the city...

"So we are only allowed to go to DC on PDay once per transfer..so that's 12 times I actually get to visit the city. But that's ok because we can go to the temple every 6 months or as long as we have an investigator who just got baptized that is doing baptisms for the first time for family names we can go with. Also, we can take investigators to the visitors center as much as we want. We haven't quite done that but I think it'll be exciting cuz they decorate with Christmas lights just like in salt lake"

We have been blessed to get an email from Mariah each week but she also mails a letter to us as well and gives us a lot more detail about what is going on and answers all of our questions.  She writes the letters to us so that she doesn't have to be hurried with her email time and she can actually take the time to think.  It has been such an awesome experience to see her grow and progress. It's amazing to see these missionaries out there sharing what makes them happy.  And, although it is not easy what they are doing, it is so nice to know that they are converted, that they have testimonies, and that the Lord is on their side.  And with all of those things going for them, they are bound to have success!



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Get ready DC! Hermana Riddle is on her way!


This week is full of news!  We got to talk to Mariah so much so there is a lot to talk about!

After Mariah's last P-Day her week started off with running in to Kayla's "really good friend" Kelson. He went in to the MTC on Nov 12th and they saw each other the first day!  Before Mariah left to the MTC, she and Kelson knew that they would be in the MTC for 1 week together so they planned an "awkward" meeting/handshake.  At first, the story was supposed to be that he was her boyfriend but then Mariah emailed him to let him know that that story wouldn't fly because she had gotten so close to the girls in her district and they knew everything about each other.  So, they settled on the fact that he would be her crazy ex-boyfriend and the only people it would work for would be the elders in his district that he would just be getting to know. 

So..this was how the meeting up was supposed to be..


And this is how it really was....


And then it turned out like this...


I think that they were both caught off guard seeing each other the first day he was there. When we talked to Riah on the phone she said that she was going in to have dinner and he was just finishing up so it was unexpected that she would see him.  She said that she saw him a couple of times in passing after that because he was in her same building for classes, just on a different floor. But, then didn't see him again until the evening before she left.  Small world!  She was also able to see some other friends there and was able to get pictures with them before she left.  She said that she will send those pics next P-Day.

On Wednesday the 12th, (that same day last week) I got a sweet surprise and received a text from one of Mariah's teachers at the MTC. He said they took a departing picture and said that all of the girls in her district were amazing and so ready to go to the field.  He sent the picture below. All I can say is that it really made my day :)


Mariah mentioned in her email to us last week that on her next P-day she would be allowed to email back and forth to us so that we could make arrangements for the time when she would be able to call us from the airport.  So, you better believe that we were watching for that first email to come through so we could chat with her.  So..we got to chat a little in live time with her through email.  Jared and I sent a picture to her saying.."this is what we look like right now while we are talking to you!"  She sent us a picture as well and said "this is what I look like right now!" I love that she is wearing her missionary tag with her Dance Co jacket..haha..cute!! The picture is below.  It was fun to see her in the email room with her (2) companions. (They put them in a threesome) because all of the other sisters in her district had already gone out to the field. These hermanas are the ones that are going to DC with her.  So fun!!


Right in the middle of our email conversation Mariah said that they were having a fire drill and that she would be right back..haha:)  When she got back inside they were told that it really was a fire and she said that the mail room smelled like smoke.  She said that they have a bunch of construction going on because they are starting the MTC expansion and so she thinks that something happened there. She said they had to go outside with what they had on their backs and it was freezing. So..while they were outside waiting she decided to take an "in the moment selfie" which she said was the closest thing to a snapchat that we would be getting for the next 18 months.  We keep telling her that it's 16 1/2 now:) Here is her "in the moment selfie".....


When Mariah called us from the airport at 4:15 AM on Wed, November 19th she said that she had been up all night. They had to report to the lobby at 2:30 AM.  She was in good spirits nevertheless and was just so excited to be leaving out to the field.  She said that the other hermanas in her district left on Monday and Tues morning and that she had gotten up with them to help them out to the buses and say goodbye.  So, she didn't get that much sleep on those nights either.  Needless to say, she was exhausted when she got to DC and she welcomed the fact that it was 2 hours later there because she got to go to bed 2 hours earlier than she would have here.

We talked to her while she was waiting for her plane at the Salt Lake Airport and then again when she had a layover in Minnesota, She got to speak to us in Spanish and she says that she feels comfortable communicating but of course still feels like there is more to learn.  I have to say that she did a really good job speaking.  Her mission mom let her call us one more time after she had eaten dinner at the mission home to let us know that she got there safe.  She couldn't talk to us for very long because all of the sisters were waiting to use the phone.  She said that they were taking all the sisters to a hotel to spend the night and that they would meet their companions the next day. (TODAY)

Here are some things that Mariah shared with us during our phone calls.

She said that West Campus was soooo much better than main campus and that they are designing the expanded part of the MTC to be similar to what West Campus was like.  She said that the head of the cafeteria in West Campus just loved the sisters in Mariah's district and gave them all West Campus Snap-backs. (Hats)  When West Campus closed the head of that cafeteria moved over to the Main Campus and the day before Riah left she took them in to a room to show them the actual model of what the new MTC will look like when it is done. She said it is going to be sooo nice with courtyards and everything.  The plan is to change the capacity from 2000 missionaries to 5000 missionaries!  She said that they were the first missionaries to be able to see the actual model.  Wow!  She felt special.

She mentioned that she receives around 30 emails a week from friends and family!  Thank you all so much for being such a great support to her!!  So..she wants everyone to know that if she hasn't gotten back to you that she will soon and if she hasn't emailed you back it's because she runs out of time on her email.  She would love for you to give your home addresses to her if you can because she says that she can write letters in her downtime at night. Even though she is headed out to the field you can still send her letters on dearelder.com. It's the cost of a stamp but it is still just sitting down and typing a letter out and then dearelder mails the letter for you.  It's sweet because you don't have to worry about getting a stamp, envelope and then making sure it gets out to the mail.  So..that is an option for anyone of you and then her email won't get so tied up:)

She memorized the first vision in Spanish and repeated it to us on the phone. Awesome! Only I understood it but it was a sweet moment to hear her speaking the words that she will be sharing with the people that she teaches.

Mariah said that she loved all of the girls in her district so much and that they got so close. She is glad that every one of them live here in Utah, within 30 mins of one another so they all plan to get together after their missions. Some of them are planning on attending college together when they get back.

If any of you know Mariah really well you know that she loves to talk with the "Miranda" voice.  We knew without a doubt that she wasn't going to be able to get through her mission without everyone around her knowing about her Miranda talk. She said that all of the girls in her district would talk to each other like Miranda and they had such a great time. I would love to hear how she uses her Miranda voice in Spanish. Hopefully she can be serious with her investigators. Haha:)

Her luggage made it through without an overcharge for weight!  Her checked bags weighed 45 and 47 lbs, they couldn't be over 50 lbs.Yay! We were so worried about that because of all the things she needed to take. Girls just have to take more stuff than the guys do..its kind of not fair:) She did say though that she stuffed a bunch of heavy stuff in her carry on bags and that one of her carry ons weighed 43 lbs!! All her books and language materials combined with her diabetes supplies and such made for a heavy bag!  Good thing she is buff! Haha.

Well, sorry for the long blog today.  I wanted to mention all of this stuff for history so thanks for bearing with me. I can't wait to hear how her first day in the field went.  I have been thinking and wondering what it is like for her today out in DC.  I hope DC is ready for this fantastic missionary because I know that Hermana Riddle is ready for DC!!












    

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One more week and then off to DC!! Week 6

This next week is Mariah's last week in the MTC!  I can't believe it!  I really do think that the time has flown by.  I have missed her a lot this week though. I can tell by her letters that she is in total mission mode.  Her focus is clear and she says she is just so excited to get out to Washington DC. We are so happy that we get to talk to her next Wednesday when she goes to the airport.  She sent me her flight plans and her flight leaves really early so she said that she will be leaving the MTC at 2:30 AM!  Crazy!  I don't think we will be talking to her at that time..but we will take any time we can get. She says that we will get to arrange for a time to call next week.:)

Mariah will be getting an Ipad when she gets out to DC and she will have an hour a day on Facebook for missionary stuff.  As far as I am aware, we can comment on her stuff but she is not allowed to communicate back and forth unless there is someone that we know of that could use an inspiring message.  I guess she'll give us more details about that later.

In every letter that she sends to us she talks about her temple trips.  She has been able to go every week while she has been in the MTC.  What a blessing for her! Below is a picture of her and a bunch of new people on her zone that came in this past week.



Here is something that is kind of funny.... Before Mariah left she said kiddingly, "I'll probably find the person I am going to marry while I am on my mission." Well in her recent letter to us she said this..  

"On Wednesday last week we got to skype members and talk to them in Spanish from our mission.. one of them was a girl who lives in WJ that just got home from our mission on medical release, she has been out 9 months and home for like 3 weeks so far!! It was way cool to talk to her and ask her questions!! (With a little spiritual thought at the end haha) But yeah I am super pumped and a lot more confident now that I was able to talk to someone who just served there!!

Also, one of our teachers, Hermano Wright, served in our mission like 2 years ago and he is married now, but he had our mission president and he said that he is super chill... I also met a girl from Arlington that knows our mission pres and the missionaries from out there from one of the stakes we will be serving in and she knows hermano wright and his wife! She said that our mission pres encourages the missionaries out there to get married to each other after their missions haha.. She said that there have been NINE couples so far coming out of that mission and getting married that served in her area she lived in. NINE with that president!! Wow.. crazy!.."   

Haha!  I had to laugh at that part of her letter because of what she had said before she left.  I know she won't be looking though because there will be other people that she will want to be looking for instead.  She'll be looking for those that she can share the gospel with. Funny though!!:)

I have loved getting Mariah's letters.  They are always so inspiring,  I'm not sure what Jared and I did right to be blessed with such a fantastic daughter.  I know I keep saying this, but she will be a fantastic missionary!  She already is a fantastic missionary!  I can't wait to see what the next 16 1/2 months has in store for her.

From her most recent email she ended with this...

"I just want to share something real quick that had an everlasting impact on me this week...
Elder Holland.. bless that man.. You all need to go back and just listen to everything he has ever had to say in his time as an apostle. He is amazing. I was reading one of his talks that he gave at BYU in 1999, called "Cast not away therefore your confidence." I recommend it. Go read it. My favorite part is:

"...we cannot sign on for a battle of such eternal significance and everlasting consequence without knowing it will be a fight--a good fight and a winning fight, but a fight nevertheless."

-No matter what, God will always win. In a room full of darkness, the light will always overcome it, and as we move ourselves closer to that light, closer to God, we will be able to see more clearly, and the things that are important in life will be illuminated.

This gospel is the greatest gift anyone could receive/partake of in this world. And if I can help just but one soul catch even a glimpse of the joy and happiness it brings while I am out on this mission, it will be worth it. I wouldn't be out here if it weren't for my testimony of His church. I wouldn't just "give up" 18 months of my time for nothing. I am not giving up these 18 months, The Church of Jesus Christ really is something, something that can't be explained in words until you have stepped in and felt its effect in your life.

I love you all so much!! Remember to SMILE and have fun!! Life is too short to dwell on the things that just aren't worth it! Make the best of today!!"


Mariah can't tell you enough how grateful she is for all of the love and support she has received.  It means so much to her.  Thanks everyone!:)