Monday, September 16, 2013

"Skizzie" greetings (I'm pretty sure that's how you use it in text!)

Sweet Greetings from Lyndon, Vermont!

Day One: Drove to the transfer meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire. Got a new companion and drove to Lyndon, VT, where we helped deliver a washing machine to a family in the Lyndon Ward. My new companion, Elder Chapman, is one of the goofiest Elders (I'm not allowed to call him a guy) I have ever met.

So far, he's taught me that "skizzies" means "sweet" and that you can never do too many object lessons. He also taught me to watch out for the skunks in the backyard.

Day Two: 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

Day Three: Climbed a tree in the rain to save a cat. Looks like I might be down one shirt if this doesn't bleach out.

Day Four: 54 degrees Fahrenheit.

Day Five: The Sister missionaries (they go around with "Sister" on their name tags instead of "Elder") held a baptismal service for the newest member of the Church! We got to help someone in St. Johnsbury give up cigarettes!

Day Six: In church we got to help out in the Sunday School (the best job ever). I got to meet almost everyone who attends church regularly. It's really important for missionaries to get to know the members of the Church because that's who we're supposed to work with the most. There's a big push for missionaries to stop knocking on people's doors and start finding opportunities to teach through the members. I think this week we're going to meet with members to help them invite their friends and family to learn about the gospel. Sometimes members just don't realize how much this message could change people's lives.

Love (that's right, Texas, I love you),
Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Transfer Day

When a potential missionary sends in their application to become a missionary, it goes to the President of the Church, who prayerfully decides with some of his counselors where that missionary will go. Once a missionary is actually in the field, he or she is sent to a specific area to work. The process is similar: the mission president prayerfully decides where that missionary will serve for the next six weeks. So I know that even though I am leaving Haverhill (the only city I know here, the one with the streets that I just figured out) and I won't know where I am going until the transfer meeting tomorrow, I am 100% in the hands of the Lord. That is the best place I can possibly be. 

I am going to miss my trainer, Elder Pritchett, like a madman. He is a sweet missionary and an even better friend. I am going to miss the Georgetown Ward (local congregation), that covers a diverse 31 zip-codes. I am going to miss Miriam, our wonderful, dedicated investigator. She will hopefully be baptized in late October. Even though I'm disappointed that I won't be there to see it, I am so excited for her! That's a big part of missionary work: you experience disappointments, but you never have to be disappointed in yourself or in the Lord. Wherever I go, I know that that's where I'm supposed to be. Even if it's not Haverhill.

Love, Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Jon and Elder Pritchett on the left at the Ward's traditional "transfer morning breakfast."  
note from Mom- As a mom I am so grateful for all the people that take care of my son as if he was their own.  Thanks!

World War 3 and Stir Fry

I leave for three months and you've already started World War 3?! We don't read newspapers or watch the news as missionaries, so when I heard about a possible WW3 with Syria from people on the streets I had no idea if it was just a media-hype or if it was serious, and I didn't want to ask anyone because that defeats the purpose of not reading the papers.
I am coming up on the end of my second transfer, so I'll know by next Monday whether I'm staying in Haverhill or leaving. This transfer scares me because I don't know if I'm staying with Elder Pritchett. He's become an amazing friend to me. We talked about it, and as weird as it sounds, a decent chunk of our friendship comes from cooking together. Some missionaries buy their food separately and cook and eat separately, but Elder Pritchett and I have bonded over instant rice and stir-fry. I can see why the leaders of the Church urge families to spend time together and eat dinner together and set aside time for each other. Spending time together strengthens familial and friendly bonds.
As a missionary, one lesson that I continue to learn is to talk with everyone I meet. Most people aren't interested, but giving everyone the opportunity to accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon is really important.
Sorry I don't have much time to share this week; I was having some computer issues. Adios! (Though I don't speak Spanish, I speak enough to get through a lesson with my companion. Might try to pick up a bit more.)
Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Leading Out On Foot

I forgot to mention, but last week I did something called a "companion exchange," where you trade companions for the day. I led out (for the first time) in Haverhill with Elder Jessee while Elder Pritchett spent his birthday in Derry, New Hampshire. Leading out for the first time was incredibly stressful because I still don't know the area as well as I should. Knowing the area comes in handy for nightly planning, when you plan who you'll try to teach the next day. When a missionary comes in who doesn't know the area at all (like on a companion exchange) you have to make the plans yourself, which I hadn't done. It took me an hour. An hour of staring at my planner and a map while Elder Jessee sat patiently in Elder Pritchett's chair. I grew up so much in that hour. All in all, I consider that exchange successful.

This week, Elder Pritchett and I have been on foot, which is the best thing in Haverhill because there are so many people to talk with.
One sweet miracle from walking: We were walking a street over from where we normally walk and started talking with a woman who was moving. We found out that she and her husband are members of the Church and had stopped attending when they were in Lowell because they couldn't find the building. They moved to Haverhill for three years and were moving back to Lowell the day that we met her. We got her phone number and address for the missionaries there.
Hope everything's going well back home; trying not to think about it too much, though!

Love, Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Missionaries and Minutemen

So, you're washing your car in the driveway when two guys in white shirts and ties approach you and ask you how you're doing. What do you do? People do a lot of things. In this case, he talked with us about aliens and reincarnation.

I am constantly amazed at how willing people are to talk with us, or in many cases how unwilling. Some people will talk with you for an hour (we really try to not talk that long) and some won't even look at you. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but we first met Miriam (our sweet investigator) on the street. Elder Pritchett and I were walking home at night, singing, and she was taking a walk after work. When we first talked I didn't imagine how close we would become. I love talking with people on the street. It's just so easy in Haverhill!

This week one of the members of the church told us about some of the history of the area. He told us that the minutemen in Boxford (maybe a 30 minute jog?) heard the shot fired in Lexington and left their fields to go fight. A plaque at the street corner about a mile from our apartment marks where the Haverhill Minutemen gathered on April 19, 1775 to march to the Battle of Bunker Hill. This city has history. The sad thing is that most of the well-taken-care-of buildings are funeral homes. Most of the other centuries-old houses have been left on their own. This is one notable exception. No idea who lives there.

The city has some newer history, too.

No matter what, I'll always love Haverhill. This city has something. I can't stop loving the people here.
Elder Jon Harrison Richins