Soldier in God's Army

Soldier in God's Army
Soldier in God's Army

Monday, February 18, 2013

Back Home

18 de Febrero, 2013

Hey everybody, you're all probably gonna be pretty surprised with this letter. It's not exactly a normal one. A few weeks ago, I realized that they were a few things that I still needed to clear up and fix before I headed out on the mission. Now that I fear God more than Men, I decided to finally get the courage the do it. The Mission President and my Stake President both wanted me to stay in the mission, but the mission department decided that I needed to take care of it at home. So I got back home last Thursday. I'm now at home in Utah.

I realize many of you may be disappointed by this news, but it was something I had to do. And yes, it's very hard and humiliating. But it's the right thing to do. I almost had a year out in the mission. I'm not sure if they will let me go back, and I'm not sure if I would go back if I could. I will be very prayerful about it and if God indicates that I need to return when the time comes, I will do it without hesitation. Nevertheless, I feel as though returning is not the path for me. It feels like God has a different path for me. But I guess we'll see when the time comes.

I am still active, and I am forever changed thanks to my mission experience. I have become a new man and will never turn my back on the truth. Just in case any are thinking that I'm gonna go inactive for this - because that would never happen.

It is better to end the mission early, live with shame and be spotless before God than to live a complete the full 2 years, be recognized for living a lie, and be held accountable for it in the end. The Church is True. Thanks.

Monday, February 11, 2013

True Conversion

11 de Febrero, 2013

This week has been pretty awesome with some of the investigators. 7 of them went to church on Sunday!

Mayra decided to quit her job because the hours conflicted with the church hours, and she wanted to be able to go every Sunday. Also, because she wanted to keep the Sabbath day.

The Torres Family all went except for one of the daughters. I think she was sick or something. They have been pretty hesitant with baptism and all that, and even though we haven't been talking much more about it, they think that everyone just keeps pressuring them into it. We've lately been trying to help them feel the spirit and learn how to recognize it when it testifies of truth.

Lucio is awesome as always. We're still waiting for his baptismal interview with Pres. Flores, but he has gone to church every Sunday.

We received a surprise reference on Sunday from a member, and he brought 2 of his friends to church, and they loved it. They're from Torreón, not Matamoros, so we can't teach them. But we're gonna pass the reference on.

Honestly, before the mission I never had a testimony. I never knew it any of this was true, and I was never truly converted. I had always been a rebel kid, even up until right before the mission. And all of that I deeply regret. But now I have found my purpose in life, and I will never be able to fight against God anymore. I now have my own testimony, and my own true conversion. I find that the more I teach and the more I help others to come unto Christ, I find myself closer to him. My conversion is the best thing I have gotten out of the mission, and I'm pretty sure that's one of the objectives of the mission. I'm sure that's the main reason for Pres. Hinckley saying that every young man of age needs to go.

Well I gotta go. Wish me luck! Keep praying for me and I'll do the best that I can here.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Workin Hard

4 de Febrero, 2013

Well, we have been working crazy hard here in Matamoros. We contact just about everybody we talk to, and many who we don't talk to. The members are starting to get a little more excited about missionary work and are starting to give us references. New investigators are coming out of the woodwork and we keep meeting all these inactive members that we never knew about. Last week, around Wednesday or Thursday, we filled up all of the remaining hours of the week with appointments. And this week, we are almost completely full until Thursday.

Mayra, a 15-year-old reference from a member, is very receptive. She accepts all that we teach her, asks us questions when she doesn't understand something, and always completes more that her commitments. She has already gone to church twice, and we set a baptismal date with her for the 16th of this month. She is very sensitive to the spirit, and has felt it many times in the lessons.

The rest of the investigators aren't progressing as well as we have been hoping. The Torres Family still has issues with baptism, and haven't gone to church in 2 weeks. We're not too sure what's going on with them. We're still trying to figure that out. We are going to visit them again this week and see what the deal is.

Lucio is also doing pretty good. He is practically a member by now. He just needs a special interview with Pres. Flores, but they still haven't told us when that will be. But after that, he's getting baptised.

We found out that the mission is going to double in size. We're gonna have like 350 missionaries here within the next few months, due to the age change announced in conference.

It's starting to get really hot here! I'm gonna have to find myself a new deodorant.

As far as stories for this week, I don't really have much. Other than a few days ago when some dude in the street randomly punched my companion in the face. He's still hurting haha.

I'm not sure if I already mentioned it or not, but the church here in Matamoros is getting remodeled because all of the members don't fit in it anymore. So meanwhile, every Sunday, we have 3 large, comfortable buses that take all of us to the nearest church in Torreón, an hour away. We have our 3 hour services there, then take the same buses back here. So it's kind of a time consuming deal here. But it gives us 2 hours to chillax on the bus ride.

Well, yet again, I gotta go. Thanks for all the support. I really need it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Transfers Again! Among other things

28 de Enero, 2012

Well, this week has passed by a little slower than the norm. I just am not as excited for the work as I was before. But I'm gonna keep working hard and not let myself get distracted!

Things are going all right here in Matamoros. We're expecting at least 8 baptisms next month, so we're gonna work hard to get 'em accomplished.

I weighed myself today, and found that I weigh 77.8 kilograms now. That's about 171.5 pounds. And I am about a month away from a six pack. Not sure how I'm doing it, other than walk all day and work crazy hard. I still eat like a horse, but I work more like a farm ox haha.
We ended this transfer yesterday, so we took a zone picture. We didn't know that we were going to get a surprise visit from Pres. Flores and his family. They managed to sneak a peek and get in the picture just in time.

Well, it seems like every time there's a chance that I could have changes in one way or another during transfer time, they happen. And many times before transfers even come. Elder Pinedas got transferred to another area as district leader. I'm staying here in Matamoros (which is humongous, and I still haven't gotten to know it yet). My new companion is Elder Mercado, from the city of Mexico.

As far as the Investigators go, here are the details:

The Torres family is doing awesome. The dad has gone from 10 cigarettes a day to 2 a day in a week, and we're gonna get him to completely quit this week and set a baptismal date for next month or March, depending on the circumstances. We're gonna teach them about The Eternal Family so they get pumped for their baptism.

Karina recently told us she wants to investigate a different church, and refused to accept an appointment. We're gonna convince her to listen to us one more time, and teach her the Restoration so that she can have a firm testimony of which church is true. Then we're gonna launch her a new baptismal date, along with her daughter.

Remember how I had that little battle with the "TeeJay" (the guy who accused us of polygamy, and in the end I burned him with his own scriptures)? Well it wasn't all for nothing. Brenda, the sister-in-law of the member who sent us the message asking us to go over was there behind us the entire time as we were discussing. And then she went to church that same Sunday! And she said that she loved it! We taught her the plan of salvation, and she says that she knows it's true, and that she is so happy that she will she her mother again, who passed away recently. She wants to get baptised, but she's not married to her boyfriend (who lives with her and has a baby with her). We're gonna teach them both this week, work with them to get them hitched, and baptize them both.

As for the rest of them, we're working on them. But these are the ones closest to baptism right now.
I just got a ton of letters this Sunday. All were late-arriving Christmas cards haha. Ben Casper's Christmas card made me laugh like a hyena, as it does every year. I'm guessing Big Mike is already back? I haven't heard from him since before I came out on the mission.
Well that's it for this week. Thanks for all your support! I'm pretty sure everything is gonna get way better and time is just gonna start flying when I hit the one year mark!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bringin The Heat On

21 de Enero, 2013

Well, it's starting to heat up again here. The coldest it got here was 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but only at night and early morning. I'm pretty sure the coldest part of winter here is over.

Today I knocked down 10 months in the mission! I might order a pizza tonight, we'll see.

At first, when I freshly got to this area, I didn't quite understand how huge it is. We have the entire city to ourselves, and it's humongous. A lot of it is desert wasteland, and much of it is inhabited, with a few investigators here and there and far between. Parts are covered in palm trees, parts in sage brush, and parts in pure dirt. But the house is really nice! We have beach sand and grass covering the entire front patio!

The members usually feed us pretty good here. Mexican hamburgers and pizza look like common items here, for the missionaries that they love haha.

It looks like my companion, Elder Pinedas, is probably gonna leave next week. He's been here for like 6 months now. He's a great companion, as we get a long great. He's from Honduras, and he has about 15 months in the mission.

They're gonna start making the chapel bigger now, so I only got to go 1 time. Now, every Sunday, we're gonna be taking a bus from the chapel to one in Torreòn. That also means that we're gonna have to take a trip to Torreòn every time we have a baptism. But that's alright, I like road trips.

I'm probably just gonna be a new suit and all new shirts. There's no way they can all get reduced so much without looking weird.

We have quite a few progressing investigators here. 4 of them are the Torres family. They have gone to church twice and are loving it. They want to get baptized, but still don't feel ready. And the dad smokes 14 cigs a day, which might take a while to drop. We're gonna throw a baptismal date as February 16th for the mom and the 2 kids, and it'll probably be February 30th for the Dad, depending on how he is doing with quitting smoking.

We have another 2 progressing investigators, and we taught them the first lesson last week. Karina (mom) and her 8-year-old daughter, Karina. They are both awesome, and went to church on Sunday. Last week I hail-maryed them a Baptismal date for February 9th, and they accepted with enthusiasm. We are gonna teach them the Plan of Salvation this week, and they are a set-in-stone baptism for next month. They're awesome, and truly golden investigators.

We also have a few others, but they aren't progressing as much. The members here are awesome, and we got a reference last week! We went and contacted her the other day. Her name is Micaela, and we contacted her daughter who was there too. We got to know them and taught them about how God is our loving heavenly father and how the gospel blesses families. It was really akward the whole time because Micaela's daughter, named Biri Diana, has a new-born baby. And here they don't really have much shame. Right there in the lesson, she just whipped one of 'em out and started nursing her baby right there in front of us, without a blanket or any idea of just how socially incorrect that act is. So we just played it out, trying to not look in her direction too much, and forcing ourselves to look at her face while we included her in the lesson. Yeah, my first real culture shock right there.

The other day we got a message from a member who said she had a cousin over who had a lot of questions and that she needed help. We hurried over there, thinking she had a reference for us only to find her teenage cousin waiting there, about to pounce. He started accuse us of polygamy and trying to get us from every angle. I won't say what religion he pertains to, but to those Spanish-Speaking missionaries, they're nicknamed "TeeJays". I have lately been studying the Bible pretty intensely, and he was trying to prove me on a ton of stuff, saying that The Book of Mormon can't exist because there can't be anything more than the bible, that angels can't appear in these modern days, that only a certain number of people will get in to heaven, that we don't have living spirits, and a ton of stuff like that. For 2 hours straight we duked it out, and I won on every point. I then compared him to the Saducees and Farisees in the way that they knew much of the doctrine, but didn't understand any of it and refused to understand when it was correctly explained and layed-out for them in front of their eyes. At that point, he stopped trying to fight and was slightly humbled. I then told him that all of the answers are in the Book of Mormon, combined with the Bible and offered him one. He refused to read it and said that he only believes in the Canonic Books. So in the end I didn't turn him into an investigator, but at least I got a good game out of it, and I did my part by trying to help him. But the good thing is that now he won't be bothering his cousin (the member, young woman), as he knows that she'll just invite us over haha. I don't ever look for these battles, but he just attacked us headlong, and naturally I had to defend God and the church. 

Well, I'm loving Matamoros. The members are awesome, the Bishop, his counselors, and the ward mission leader all do their job right, and we're having success here, even with the less-actives (5 of them went to church on Sunday). I'm loving my new area. We have interviews with Pres. Flores this week, so we'll have to see how it all plays out during the week. Until next week!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Moor Killers!

14 de Enero, 2013

I got emergency transfers again! And I finally left Durango! I took a really nice bus this morning to Torreòn, Coahuila. I enjoyed it, and I rode in style, with my "Pillow Tie" on, inflated, and put under my chin, resting for the 4 hour bus ride to Torreòn. After all that, I took a taxi, and then another bus to my area. My new area is called Matamoros (which literally translates to "Moor Killers"). There's a little history here, as the city was founded by people who hunted the Moors (some group of people) around here in Mexico. It's the 2nd or 3rd largest area in the entire mission, and it's just off the edge of Torreòn. It looks like if we work hard, we're gonna baptize a ton. Elder Pinedas (my comp) says that the church attendance here is like 200! He already has like 5 months in this area, so I'm pretty sure that when the normal transfers happen in 2 weeks, he's gonna be leaving. He's cool, and so far it seems like we're gonna get along great here. He was the companion of Elder Lòpez after he trained me (and so Elder Lòpez has been here too).

I don't know a ton about the area other than that. The weather is about the same here as in Durango, but just a little drier and less green trees and plants (more cactus, sagebrush and dirt). It only really gets cold at night and in the morning. The house is awesome. We have 2 bedrooms: one for when it's hot and another for when it's cold haha. And it's fairly big, with a backyard and everything. I feel like I'm going to love this area.

Well, I left a ton of potential there in Jardines. I got there with literally nothing as far as work goes. No baptismal dates, no investigators, no progressing less-actives, no confidence from the members, literally nothing. I left with 1 baptism, 5 set and sure baptismal dates, a ton of investigators, a few reactivated families, and the members' trust. It was crazy hard, but I feel like I definitely left the area better off than when I found it.

We had a few funny experiences last week in Jardines. And a bit of apostasy mixed in. We're were in a lesson with a sister (member) who started to tell about a parable of Jesus Christ that was way different than the way I had learned it. In Spanish, she told the Parable of Jesus's 10 girlfriends .....and I about had a heart attack in the moment. Then we had to explain and clarify to the investigator that that's not exactly how it goes, and that they were the virgins with the candles and that the groom wasn't Jesus Christ, and that it was a parable (not a real story). It gets a little crazy when the members open their mouths and just let it all come out.

I feel a little bitter-sweet leaving Jardines and Durango. There are a lot of members there who loved me, and it's hard leaving them. The Smith family gave me a belt buckle with a huge and real scorpion (alacràn) captured inside. Sister Tapia gave me a piggy bank full of candy with a hand-written letter inside telling me how much she loves me and that she is going to visit me after the mission. Most of the rest still didn't know I had left, as we found out late last night and my bus left in the morning. I didn't have any time to say good-bye.

I don't know how I keep losing weight, as I eat a ton. I almost have my six pack! I give it another month or so at this rate.

Well, that's all I've got for this week. Take care of yourselves and pray for my success! My goal is to baptize at least 6 in February and another 9 in March. We'll see what happens. Until next week!
- Elder Tyler Riggs

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's Weekend

Well, these last few weeks have gone by faster than usual. We're still stuck in a trio, but I have a feeling that an emergency transfer is coming up Sunday night, not sure why. We'll see what happens.

We had a zone activity on the first, and that was pretty fun. I dominated in dodgeball and aeroindio. Pretty awesome. And my glutes were killing me for 4 days afterwards. I gotta start running and jump-roping more often. 

I found a pole and decided to punch it in half. Then I fixed it and kicked it into the exact same spot. Pretty awesome.

The work here is starting to kick up. We have more work since now we have the entire ward to one companionship, and we have had a bit more success. We set 3 baptismal dates last week. Liliana and her 2 sons, Felix and Francisco. Liliana just needs to start attending church regularly and stop drinking coffee and she's good to go. We have her set for February 9th, and I have high hopes for her.

Nobody showed up at church on Sunday as far as investigators go, but we're not letting that get us down. We have a few other investigators, but not too many are progressing. We're thinking this week is gonna be better and busier. At least, that's what we're hoping for.

Well I'm probably gonna take my suit in to get refitted this week. It's fine on the shoulders, but the belly part is huge. And don't even get me started on the pants. 3 words: humongous.

Well I gotta go now. I'm working like an ant and I'm trying to be the best I can be. If there's anything I've learned in the past many weeks, it's that God blesses us through our trials. He helps us gain the Christ-like attributes we pray for by giving us something that makes us use that very attribute, such as pacience with a hard area or companion.