Monday, January 20, 2014

Been doing mission work Mainely

Dear Texas,

Honey, it looks like we're gettin' farther and farther apart. My heart goes out to yuh.

I guess I should probably describe what a transfer meeting is like. Normally, we wake up at 6:30. On a transfer day, we wake up at least an hour earlier, and drive to a place where we pick up other missionaries. Then we get picked up by a member of the Church, who has volunteered to drive us to Manchester, New Hampshire with our luggage (three large pieces). For some areas in the mission (mostly Maine), it's a five hour drive. It was a two hour drive for us from Vermont. We meet at the chapel in Manchester. We wait in the Cultural Hall (kind of like a gym/basketball court/with a stage for performances) for everyone to arrive, with our luggage all pushed to one side. When the actual meeting starts, we sing "Called to Serve," a missionary hymn. It is absolutely glorious to sing with one hundred other strong voices. Then the missionaries going home share "The Golden Truth that I have learned on my mission that will change who I am forever." Then they announce the new companionships in this format: "In the Waterville One Area, Elder Thomas will remain as Senior Companion and will receive Elder Richins as Junior Companion." You stand up when your name is called so you and your new companion know who to look for after the meeting. Then we sing another hymn, offer a closing prayer, and break for lunch. During this time you find your new companion, say goodbye to your old companion and the member who drove you, eat lunch, and drive to your new area. The next week is spent getting to know all the people you need to know.

So, I got transferred to Maine! I'm in a city called Waterville, about 18 miles from Augusta, the Capitol. I don't know if anyone remembers Elder Chapman, but he always used to say that Maine is the Holy Land. It's still up in the air, but I think it could be. I have been so happy this week. Elder Thomas and I get along well and the members of the Waterville Ward have given me a warm welcome. I love Elder Thomas. He is such a great missionary. He has made friends with everyone in the ward and he works to show his love for the members here by making treats (he bakes) for them and by finding simple ways for them to share the gospel with their friends. We hope to help the members by making Valentine's Day cards printed with a spiritual theme, such as a hymn or scripture. The members may give these cards to friends, family, and others. A lady in the ward makes cards professionally, so she will show us how to make them look super-cool!

Dennis, the husband of a member, sat in on the two visits we have had since I got here. He sat in when we taught his wife a brief portion of the Plan of Salvation, and in our second visit, we showed him a talk by President Uchtdorf, one of the leaders of the Church worldwide. The talk is called Come, Join With Us. He immediately posted the link on Facebook and said, "My sister is going to freak out; I never post religious stuff on Facebook." I have some pretty high hopes for Dennis. He is so cool!

I am so excited for this week; I don't even know what we're doing this week though. I am just so happy to be a missionary!
Elder Jon Harrison Richins!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Yay, Christmas!

Christmas! Yeah!
December 30, 2013

On Christmas Day, I got to Skype with my family! Seeing them filled my joy to overflowing. In the scriptures, people sometimes describe their fatigue following a spiritual experience. I now understand, at least partially, how that happens; talking with my family left me a bit out of breath. I had a good Christmas. Thank you all for your cards and support; it makes a difference in the life of a missionary.

Roy, who usually does not read the scriptures or pray, prayed twice this week! He will continue to pray this week. He said it didn't help him a lot, but he's willing to keep trying. How's that for dedication? Even before seeing the blessings, he's willing to work.

We read from the Book of Mormon with Peter. He previously asked where he should be reading, but we never got an answer to him. This time he opened the Book of Mormon to a random page and suggested it, which is one way of deciding what to read. I think if we helped him to start in the beginning by reading with him, bringing topics to discuss, and following up more often, he would keep the commitment to read. Sometimes you have to walk people through reading; in Peter's case, he's just not used to reading.

The work here keeps us busy, though there's not many people to teach at the moment. I feel like I'm doing my best, and the Lord is taking care of me and the people we teach. I can hardly express how great it is to be here, serving my God.

Love, Elder J. H. Richins


Us and the tree we decorated!

A Snow Nativity we made while waiting for someone to get home

Montpelier and a Blessing for Nelly

While Elder Robison went to the Mission Leadership Training in Manchester, I stayed in Montpelier (VT Capitol!) with Elder Chilton, from California. He wrestles. We worked well together and tried visiting less-active members, but the craziest thing that happened is that we went to someone's house for dinner and they had to go to a basketball game. So they left us in their house. Their huge, HUGE house. And they said, "Don't lock the doors; we don't. And leave the lights on." So, we finished dinner and cleaned up and put the unused dishes away and took a picture with their Christmas tree and another picture with their Lego table downstairs. Then we left the lights on and the doors unlocked and left. I'll just dump a bunch of pictures on next week.

On Wednesday, Elder Robison and I received a phone call from Nelly, cancelling our Friday dinner appointment; she unfortunately contracted the flu. Thus giving us the opportunity to give her a priesthood blessing. We went that night and Elder Robison gave her a blessing. On Friday, when we called, she said she was feeling much better and that she was planning on coming to church this week. I'm always relieved when I see that a blessing worked. She (and most of the ward) didn't come to church due to snow, but we'll call and see how she's doing. She is such a sweet lady. I just love getting to know her and be her friend and teach her.

We dropped Loius. We taught him about Christmas being Christ's birthday, which he hadn't ever heard. Then we talked about Christ being a gift so we could have eternal life. Then he said he didn't believe in that. Following further discussion, it came down to that he wants to just live his life, be nice to others, do what he wants, and not worry about the "extra stuff" like reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and following certain commandments. Then Elder Robison dropped him. I support his decision fully, though. It was a bit disappointing to see Loius read from the Book of Mormon, grow in his confidence in praying, and understand the things we were telling him, only to stumble over the commandments. He is going to be a sweet investigator in the future, though.

We taught Alex, a less-active member, a Christmas-themed lesson and then directly brought him to May, another less-active member, and taught her the same lesson. Elder Robison pointed out how great it is to have those awkward moments where the person you are teaching and the member you brought are talking and we just sit and listen.

One great miracle this week: Friday night we decided we would go to Danville the next day. Saturday morning we made phone calls and got one solid appointment, while planning to spend six hours in Danville. Somehow we had a solid day. We weren't able to get in contact with Mitch and when we called earlier he said we probably wouldn't be able to catch his family all together. Mitch is the only member in his home. When we got out of the car in front of his home, his wife and mother-in-law pulled in. He came out to help with the groceries, so we helped carrying. We taught his entire family, and then his parents showed up, so we kept teaching. We couldn't have planned it any better.

So, it was a good week. Can't wait for Christmas; I get to Skype my family! Loving it out here!
Love, Elder Richins

Elder Robinson

December 9, 2013

Elder Chapman got his wish; he's back in Maine. I guess that's the only thing that could happen after a week of singing, "Take me home to Maine! Take me back to my homeland!" You kind of have to sustain "land" in order to make it rhyme.

What's odd is that he and Elder Robison, my new companion, switched places. Elder Robison is from Evanston, Wyoming, but his parents moved to Richmond, Texas after he left. He's been out for about 14 months. I don't know what it is, but he's incredibly funny and he looks and sounds intelligent. He drives so slow it makes me want to jump out of the car and walk.

This week with Elder Robison has been interesting, exciting, and a little difficult. We work pretty well together, though we are not yet in sync in teaching. He doesn't talk as much as Elder Chapman did, but that might just mean that he focuses on listening.

We taught Nelly, who Elder Chapman and I first visited, and brought Jake, a member. We bring members to lessons so they feel more comfortable, and so they have someone at church that they already know. We didn't plan on bringing Jake and we already had another member planning on coming with us, but we felt that we should bring Jake, that Nelly would benefit greatly from having Jake there. Jake called us and asked if we needed him, and we said we already had someone coming. After considering that Jake would probably be better to bring because he's closer to Nelly's age by several years, we called him back and asked him to come. After explaining that Nelly had grown up Methodist and had been baptized and had a son, Eli, Jake mentioned that he had been Methodist before joining the Church. He had already been baptized. During the lesson, after we invited Nelly to be baptized, Jake talked about how he struggled to understand why he needed to be rebaptized until he realized why the priesthood was important. I could not have planned that lesson any better. Nelly and Eli came to church yesterday. Nelly had a very spiritual experience in Relief Society. According to one of the Sister Missionaries, you could see the Spirit radiating around her. Eli enjoyed staying after for the "Linger Longer," the after-church potluck We'll be having dinner with them at their house this Friday. Nelly also wanted the Sister Missionaries to come for dinner one night. Coming to church really touched her heart and helped her understand the fellowship in the Church.

Louis is trying to drop us. I suspect it might be because he disagrees with the Law of Chastity, but bipolarity may have something to do with it. I hope it didn't make too bad of an impression on Elder Robison, who hadn't ever met him before. In the lesson, Louis said that he was pretty much done with reading the Book of Mormon, and he had learned all the tricks he needed. I guess he considers prayer to be a trick for getting evil spirits to leave you alone. Right now, we are trying to be good friends. Calling him every night. When we go back, we might teach him a Christmas-themed lesson. That would definitely bring the Spirit into his home. That's what he needs.

I'm personally doing well. No health issues. I'm still working on piano, getting worse (no time to practice this week). Still, I feel really great here, serving. Gotta go, time's up.
Love, Elder J.H.Richins

Elder Chapman Hightails-it for Maine

December 2, 2013

Welcome, true fans and newcomers alike! (Can you name that Playstation game? Not that I've been playing video games up here. Ain't nobody got time for that.)

The Lyndon area has seen some successes this week. "O, that I were an angel and could have the wish of mine heart, that [Elder Chapman could stay to] go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!...But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things the Lord hath allotted unto me" (Alma 29:1, the Book of Mormon). Elder Chapman and I have grown very close in this last transfer. We've been working harder this last week, being more diligent. I've learned a good lesson in diligence, that it really does make a difference. Elder Chapman will be leaving Lyndon, he's guessing in favor of Maine.
Paul, a less-active member, has shown a greater desire to progress in the gospel. He planned on coming to church this week, but his car wouldn't start. He called the chapel to ask us for a ride, but the message slipped the messenger's mind. Unfortunate; though we met with him Sunday night. He invited us to a lasagna dinner at a friend's house, where a one of his friends hopes to meet with us. I cannot believe how the Lord has touched people's hearts, kept us in contact with Paul, and set it up so that we could meet with his friend at this party. We brought Paul to a lesson with Beatrice, but she was going to drop something off at a friend's house and come right back. We waited for fifty minutes, just talking with Paul. That was when he mentioned the lasagna dinner and that his friend was interested in meeting with us. If Beatrice hadn't followed through, we wouldn't have heard about the dinner, which is this Wednesday. We might have missed it entirely. 
Louis has progressed so much since the first time we met with him. Last time we talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This week he said he had a realization that he needed to change something. You could see it on the outside. He was wearing a shirt this time, and he was cleaning his apartment of the trash that had been there since we first met him. He had read Alma 32 and loved the word/seed metaphor. ( We discussed how we need to plant these seeds in our hearts so we can experiment upon them. Then Elder Chapman (not per se) made the most amazing transition that could be dreamed of. "We wanted to talk with you about one seed that we can plant and test to see if it is a good seed. It is one of God's commandments for our happiness and it is called the Law of Chastity." The Spirit lit the room for the duration of the lesson. I know he and I spoke by the power of the Holy Ghost. If not, we could not have instilled Louis with this doctrine in the slightest, and he could not have gained a shred of desire to follow it. He now has some of that desire, though he would not commit to follow it. He does not clearly see any way for him to overcome his addiction, and for him it truly is an addiction. Yet, that desire can work within him if he lets it. I pray for that to happen.

Love, Elder J. Harrison Richins

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My District Picture, Transfer #4.
(Sorry about the picture. I couldn't get it to load all the way. Love, Jon's Mom)

Loads of Teaching and a Personal Triumph

November 25, 2013

(Names have been changed again. I might just keep doing this.)

This week has been great! We had an exchange (missionary swap) with the Zone Leaders and I got to work with Elder Z. Pritchett here. We dove into the work and had some success in street contacting. Usually we use pamphlets and cards for street contacting, but Elder Pritchett had a goal to use materials we would not normally use. We gave a card with a number you can call for a copy of Family Answers, a video about how to better communicate with your family. He also used a card with the Thirteen Articles of Faith on the back. (The Articles of Faith outline Mormon beliefs really clearly. They were written by Joseph Smith and published in a newspaper. I'm not sure if that's why they're called articles.) We met Amal, who seemed really interested, but he missed our appointment for the next day at 3:30. He gave us his address, but he hasn't a phone. We gave him a pamphlet and our phone number, so maybe he'll get a hold of a phone and call us.

Louis is doing better. When he reads, he does well. We're giving him small steps to do. Right now it will just be reading once between lessons. He understands the scriptures really well for someone who is just starting to read them. We are thinking about inviting him to be baptized even though he may not be able to get baptized for a while. As I'm typing this, I'm realizing that we should do that. It would be a goal for him and would help him understand the need to keep the commandments and read the scriptures, so he can progress spiritually.

This week we drove to Danville, which is very out-of-the-way for us, without any solid appointments. Most of our plans fell through, and one of our backups was to visit Tom, who is the husband of a member of the Church. We were going at an odd time, 3:40, when his wife is usually working. Miracle number one: She pulled in just as we stepped out of the car. We all went in and talked with Tom for a while, and then (Miracle number two:) the wife had to attend to some visiting teaching, which is when you go visit and teach (and friendship) members nearby. She left us alone and we talked for a long while. The conversation turned to the church and Elder Chapman asked if Tom knew much about his wife's beliefs. He said he probably did, but couldn't really say unless we asked specifically. Miracle number three: He asked about how the Book of Mormon came to be, specifically how Joseph Smith was able to translate it. I find it very interesting that the Lord had us use more of our allotted miles than we normally should, to go see one person and answer his questions. He gave us an opportunity to share our testimonies of the truth of the Book of Mormon. When we left, he committed to read Alma 32, a chapter in the Book of Mormon about what faith is and how to increase our own faith. We'll be following up soon, probably over the phone.

We picked up a new investigator named Toni. She is a future ex-smoker. We are teaching her at a member's house, even though that member hasn't been to church in forever. He is a very firm believer, but he can't be around crowds without panicking. He taught a decent portion of the lesson. He's not entirely politically correct (minor problem) or even doctrinally sound (a little more major), but he's willing to share his testimony and take time to help others.

Personal triumph: I played one song on piano in the Priesthood meeting (all the men) without messing up once. I am trying to figure out how to make my camera work so I can record it and send it.
I love being here at this time with these people!

Love, Elder Jon Harrison Richins

The Upside of the Roller-Coaster

November 18, 2013

The Upside of the Roller-Coaster (names have been changed for privacy reasons)

After dinner at the Burke's home, Brother Burke invited us into the living room for a discussion about the Book of Mormon. Brother Giles, who was also eating with us, joined in. Sister Burke and their daughter, June, did not join us. The conversation was nice, but it was definitely lacking something. June was sitting behind us at the table, and I had the thought, "I should ask June to talk about her testimony of the Book of Mormon." I asked, she obliged, and with tears in her eyes she talked about how she came to know it was true. I won't go into details, but it was almost exactly how I came to know it was true. I hadn't ever found anyone with a similar testimony. Sister Burke jokingly chastised us for making her daughter cry and then entered the conversation on her own. I don't know why she needed to talk about it, maybe I needed it. Maybe Brother Giles needed it. Sometimes God leaves us hanging for a little while before we see how much good really happened.

Louis, who we met last week and began teaching, read from the Book of Mormon between lessons once. He said he did it because he was really depressed and he remembered how reading it brought the Spirit into his home before, when we read with him. He recognizes how it can help him. Then this last time, he hadn't read. Instead he got really drunk. During the visit, he said he probably wouldn't stop drinking for a while. Considering how well he was doing before, that was disappointing. But it wasn't discouraging. He'll take one step at a time, starting with reading a chapter between appointments. When we first knocked on his door, I remember we asked "Can we come in and share a message that will change your life?" He was still doubtful, but I know it can change his life. I have faith that it will. That's why Christ did what he has done for us. It's supposed to change us 180 degrees.

We had a barbecue at the local Southern Baptist preacher's house. He said he likes having us over because "No one lights the grill to cook for one." He's going to be moving soon and we've been helping him get organized so he can sell most of his stuff. He needs the help, and it's a joy to help him.

This happened this week.

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Love, Elder Jon Harrison Richins

The Downside of the Roller-Coaster

November 11, 2013

A bit of a roller-coaster this week. I'll get the bad out of the way.

I have not popped or cracked my neck at all this week, and it is killing me. Usually I would just do it whenever I wanted, several times a day. Some would be quiet, others were the kind where people look at you kinda disgusted-like. But I decided I would not do that for the rest of my mission, which is longer than I've been out on my mission. Elder Chapman, my companion who remains within sight and
sound almost 24/7, set the same goal and I guess he gave it up. He
reminds me every time he does it. It's been tough.

We went on exchange, which means that I traded Elder Chapman for Elder
Gale (another missionary in our district) for a day. We had trouble
getting along the first little while. I think it may have been that I
just felt weird because Elder Chapman usually talks or sings in the
car, and Elder Gale doesn't as much. When we worked in Sheffield that
day (there isn't much to do in Sheffield, especially at night), all
our plans fell through. No one we wanted to visit was home or was
free. We ended up walking down VT-122, the main road, for a long time
in the cold. The plans falling apart and the events leading up to it
were the low point of the exchange. But Elder Gale and I got talking
and it turns out he's a person too. He told me about why he is serving
a mission and about what he does at home. He loves Starcraft and
Warcraft and some other computer games. Glad we got to know each

We met more people who are interested in the Church, but I'm running
out of my allotted email time. "Obedience brings blessings. 100%
obedience brings miracles." Not sure who said it, but I'm going to
take their advice. I'll talk about the upside of the roller-coaster
next week.

Love Elder Richins

Mister Rogers and Mighty Prayer

November 4, 2013

This week has been tough. We haven't taught many people recently and we haven't set a date for anyone to be baptized in weeks.  The lack of success, as far as numbers go, started to weigh on me. This slumpy feeling continued until last night. I had a really long talk with God. I've been trying to be better with prayer by thinking about various aspects of it before praying. Recently I came across the phrase, "Pray mightily over your goals and plans," in Preach My Gospel, a Guide to Missionary Work, and last night I thought to apply it to my other prayers. It was one of the longest, mightiest prayers I have said without getting distracted or falling asleep. I had thoughts about the work that I had to write down afterwards before I forgot them and went to bed. I felt inspired to become more diligent, and was shown areas to improve in. This week will be better.

We visit a less-active man named Dave and his nonmember wife, Sharon, regularly. In one discussion, he said he probably wouldn't stop smoking until the price of cigarettes increased, just because he's not ready to give them up. Elder Chapman and I prayed that the price of cigarettes would increase. Recently their upstairs neighbor was given a terminal diagnosis for COPD and told that she has 6 months to 2 years to live. Hearing about this scared them enough that Sharon decided to stop smoking (she also has COPD). Dave decided it would be easier to stop smoking if Sharon did, so they'll both be quitting soon. The price of cigarettes went up in a way, which shows me that God answers prayers in ways I would never expect.

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Dressed up for Halloween (in our apartment). I'm Mr. Rogers and Elder Chapman is a Texan. We don't go outside Halloween night; instead we stay in and clean the apartment. Our kitchen looks fantastic.

Love, Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Snow and Some Carpentry, Too

October 28, 2013

I looked out the window and what did I see?
Oh no, it's started! This was our car Tuesday morning. As you can see, there's something very wrong with the body and windshield. It's not even Halloween yet.

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This week we didn't get to teach many people, but we got to do a lot of service. We split wood for two families and got to help a member of the ward build a log pavilion where he's going to keep a bunch of his stuff while he works on the interior of his house this winter. His house is a two-story 40x40 log cabin with a huge fireplace right in the middle to heat everything. We helped him set up log trusses for the roof of the pavilion (which is much, much smaller than the house) so that he can mark them and cut out the grooves where they will rest on the frame. I didn't think to bring my camera, but I can ask him for one of the pictures he took.

We got to teach Rob and Danielle, two new investigators, and they were going to come to church, but they didn't show up. I think we need to introduce them to a few members so they feel comfortable coming. They seem really cool though. We'll get to see them again this week, so we can teach them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end). We also got to teach a family about how they can share the Book of Mormon with their friends. As Elder Chapman would say, skizzies!

Love, Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Elder Chapman Steps Up to the Plate

October 21, 2013

New District Leader! (What what!) It's not me; it's Elder Chapman! (Even better!) So, a district leader leads a district, usually made up of 3-5 missionary companionships. Every week at district meeting, he presents training, leads discussion of various items of district business, and helps the district set new goals for the week. Missionary leadership is really important; there are 12 pages dedicated to it in the Missionary Handbook (also known as the Book of Blessings or the Book of Rules, depending on how you look at it). Elder Chapman will be the District Leader here for at least the next transfer, starting today, which means that: 1) he might be stressing out, 2) I'll support him even when it gets tough, and 3) he's already stepping up to the plate. The day after we got the call he did something he had never done before. He was serious. Not only serious, but he seemed extra prepared for the day. I can't wait to see what this transfer holds; surely it will cause both of us to grow stronger in testimony and skill.

This week we were asked by Bishop Tucker to visit a member who moved in two months ago and hadn't been to church. The bishop in the ward where he moved from called Bishop Tucker to give him the name and address of the member. We tried to stop by him on McGill Street, and instead met a man who had met with the missionaries before and might be interested in meeting again. No answer, though, when we knocked on the member's door. Days later, we realized that we had the street wrong; it was Gilman, not McGill. So we got to visit the member yesterday (he's awesome and wants to play basketball with us and serve a mission and he was living in Texas!), AND we made contact with a former investigator. Super blessings!

Love y'all! (One of the Sister missionaries said y'all this morning!)
Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Elder Swalberg and the Piano Pushers

October 14, 2013

A few weeks ago, we were driving along, when we saw two people trying to push a piano into this lean-to house. They had just backed a pickup truck to the porch and put some boards down to roll the piano on. We decided to stop and help them; we came at just the right time. There's a doorway behind those three trees all growing together. That door is now blocked with a piano. It was previously blocked with just a major diagonal beam, which the owner's boyfriend cut a large chunk out of with a chainsaw. We are allowed by the owner, Barbara, to enter at any time and play the piano. We got talking and SHE HAS MET WITH THE MISSIONARIES BEFORE! She told us her life story about how she bought this land from some thug who hired a man to harass her so that she would leave the house to be foreclosed upon. She wanted to build a house with her husband, but he kept changing his mind about whether he wanted a trailer or a house, so that's why the house is unfinished. CPS tried to take their son (I can't remember why; her story was about an hour long), but she kept resisting the police who tried to take her son, so she went to some horrible prison with a history of inmate abuse. Eventually she got out and went home. Her husband bailed on her at some point. So now she lives in the lean-to house in the summer and in a trailer behind it in the winter. This week we started teaching her again, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to get to help her come closer to Christ. She already has an awesome testimony about the Christ and about the Church.

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We got to go see the Mission President (he makes sure that we missionaries are cared for, and he receives revelation specific for the mission). And you'll never guess who else I saw! Elder Swalberg from Texas! I was so surprised to see him. Also yesterday, I got to see my friend Bill from Brigham Young University! He lives here in Vermont and we were both at the Montpelier Stake Conference. I didn't get a picture with him because we were in a bit of a hurry to leave, but I got a sweet hug!

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Also, we made a Hill Cumorah Cake for the Bishop here, in appreciation for all his hard work.
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There's a really cool song in the LDS Hymn book called "An Angel from On High." It basically talks about how we got the Book of Mormon. The tune is something crazy, though.

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Gotta go, ran out of time again. Sorry!

Love, Elder Jon Harrison Richins

40-Day Fast and Keith's Call

October 7, 2013

This week was awesome! Our ward started a 40-Day Fast for missionary work and we've already seen some awesome "coincidences." The fast works like a relay, so you always have someone fasting for 40 days.

On Wednesday, we hold a scripture study at the chapel. This week NO ONE CAME! We were about to leave when one of the members of the church who was there waiting for her granddaughter (the youth activities, Mutual, are also on Wednesdays) decided that she would study with us if no one else would. We read a little, but mostly we talked and eventually it came to the subject of her husband, who is not a member of the Church. He had met with the missionaries previously, but according to her, the missionaries "just stopped coming." I have no idea how that happens, but we are going to pick him up as an investigator. No doubt, it is his time!

Two AM, Saturday morning, Keith calls us, distraught and anxious about his eternal well-being and with questions about whether he's going to hell. (He had been drinking a little). We calmed him with some sweet words of the Gospel. And then he told us he would come to church, because something inside him needed to change. Unfortunately, regular church hours were cancelled that weekend. Fortunately, it was because of General Conference, which is a worldwide meeting for members of the church led by the Prophet Thomas S. Monson (the President of the Church) and the Twelve Apostles (modern ones). It's a televised meeting, cut into five two-hour sessions. Keith wanted to come to the church to watch it, so the next morning we found him a last-minute ride to the chapel (another great story in and of itself) and he watched four hours of Conference! He liked it so much! Today we are going to invite him to be baptized, which is a really big step. He would have to stop smoking and drinking, two big obstacles, but I know Who Can Help him.

Having trouble getting these to upload, and I'm almost out of time, so Adios!

Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Climbed up a tower at the top of a mountain.

Crazy Street Contacting Day


I wanted to take pictures of all the trees here, because it's just so different from Texas. There are trees EVERYWHERE here. And then I looked up, haha!

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This is how much food the members here give us.

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Anyways, this week was a magical week for street contacting, which is basically walking up a street and talking with everyone you see. I asked Elder Chapman what getting out of his shell this week was like and he said it was more like getting out of a submarine underwater. He wouldn't talk with most people unless I nudged him or something, but this week in Saint Johnsbury we had a crazy street contacting day! It was a street contacting fiesta! We drive there, get out of the car, and the first thing we do is give away a copy of the Book of Mormon to a guy named David. Later we talked with a guy who was making a rug (out of yarn) on the front steps of the library. Talking with everyone we see is awesome! We see so many blessings from it, even though it's kinda scary!

Elder Chapman thought it would be a good idea to give Don, one of our investigators, a tour of the church. We went to his house and got talking, which is sometimes a bad idea because it's really hard to get back on track. Then Don asked what plans we had for the rest of the night and Elder Chapman said "Oh, we're giving a tour of the church" and Don asked who was going to be there. He walked right into that one. The church tour went smoothly, and Don appreciated getting to see the chapel. Hopefully he'll be more comfortable coming to church now that he knows a little bit  what it's like.

And speaking of people coming to church, Sarah came to church! I love it when people come to church. We've been meeting with Sarah for a few weeks and she sometimes comes to Wednesday Night Scripture Study, but she didn't come on Sunday morning until now. Next stop, baptism! (Maybe, we still have to talk with her and see what she thinks. But it could be in the cards!)

Love, Elder Jon Harrison Richins

The "Intentional Community" and Sweet Potato Pie

I realized this week that I left my battery charger in the apartment at Haverhill, one downside of moving and not going back. When you're a missionary, you can't take time out to buy batteries whenever you want (that's my cover-up for forgetting to buy batteries every time I was at the store).

We got to teach Jay and Chris, two guys who live in an "intentional community," where they grow some of their own produce and reduce waste with four other people living in the same house. We were planning on helping Chris move some furniture, but when we showed up he wasn't home. Jay was sitting on the couch on the porch and we got talking. Jay is a Buddhist and he attended a local college for a year. He is very concerned about sustaining the earth, and he's interested in volunteer organic farming. We helped him move furniture instead, until Chris got home from a local farm. (There are tons of local farms out here. We got to help gather potatoes this week.) We talked for a while about church and we invited them, and Chris won't be able to come for a while because he works most Sundays, but we'll keep seeing them. They seem really humble, and very open to learning.

On Saturday, I got to make a pie for the Ward Cultural Night! I figured since I'm pretty American, I'd make a sweet potato pie. I did it mostly by eyeballin' and I even figured out how to do a crust!

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Pretty sweet week, but "WE CAN DO BETTER!" (As Elder Chapman says every ten minutes).

Sincerely, Elder Jon Harrison Richins