Friday, March 27, 2015

Cheeseburgers and the Restored Church

July 7,2014

Tuesday I met Elder Daniels, my new companion, and we drove to our apartment just outside Damariscotta. We went to a food pantry at a Congregational church to help out, and later we got to visit Norm, a new-ish member, and the Doray family. The Doray family is sweet! The mom is not a member, but the husband and kids are. To be honest I hardly know them, but I love them already. I hope we get to visit them more.

On the grand ol' Fourth of July we didn't have a lot of plans. We visited Norm again and stopped in on another member, but in the evening I got to meet Benny. Benny was driving by the church one Sunday at 10 AM and decided to stop in. He was well-received and liked it so much he came back. Now he says he wants to join a church. When I walked in to his home, he asked why I'm here and I got to tell him everything I believe. It was such a cool experience to get to just tell him. He made us cheeseburgers and we taught him about Christ's church when He was on the earth and how the church was restored to the earth.

Saturday we got to power wash the Barker family's house. Then we got to build a deck with Brother Locke.

This place has some pretty awesome people. Not sure what this week holds, but I am so excited to get to work here. Hope everything's going well for y'all!

With Love, 

Elder Richins

Thursday, March 26, 2015

From Waterville to Augusta

June 30,2014

Tomorrow I will leave Waterville, drive to Augusta, meet my new companion there, and go to my new area. This last month has been so interesting. I have learned so much from myself, my studies, and Elder Sheriff and people. I want to share something that happened this week. We were leaving someone's home after a lesson and I felt we should talk to the people walking across the street. We did and shared a beautiful message about the gospel in seven minutes or so. We got their phone number so we could share more in the future. Immediately after, a Hispanic lady walked by with her two kids. We taught her in seven minutes too! She gave us her address so we could teach her again. I think she is really prepared to receive the gospel. And we were led to her. I am so glad we were led to her.

I'm sad to leave the people of Waterville, but glad to go where the Lord wants me to go. The friendships I have made here are going to affect me for the rest of my life. I feel so blessed to have served in this wonderful place.

With Love, 

Elder Jon Richins

Damian's Baptism

June 23, 2014

This Saturday I had the privilege of baptizing Damain Madison, an awesome, 10-year-old boy we've been teaching since before I got here. We taught him the day I came to Waterville and after a few months he decided that he wanted to be baptized on July 21st, the first day of summer. The baptism service was beautiful, and his dad, Dennis, made a cake, and so many people came. At church the next day, Elder Sheriff gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost. We visited him last night and he already seems a little bit different. I can see the difference the Holy Ghost makes in him. He was calmer and he has more light in his eyes. He's the same kid, but just a little different. I am so thankful I got to work with Damain. I am never going to forget him and his family.

With Love and Lovin' It, 

Elder Richins

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fantastic Father's Day

June 16,2014

This week was fantastic! The best part was church, and not just because I love church but because Dennis finally came! He hadn't come because he gets really anxious in crowds, but he overcame his anxiety to hear Damain sing for Father's Day. He stayed for the whole 3 hours of church. Damain is going to be baptized this Saturday and he asked me to baptize him. I'll include pictures next week. Teaching him and his parents is so much fun. He doesn't focus much, but he's 10, so we don't expect him to that much. I just know that when he reaches the age of serving a mission he's going to be a great missionary. And in not too long, he's going to be a great teenager. The gospel and the Church are going to bless him so much.

Sorry for the short letter,

Elder Richins

Friday, March 20, 2015

He's Getting Baptized! and My Hip-hop Style

June 9, 2014

Elder Sheriff and Bishop Crouse went to Terry's house on Saturday while Brother McLaughlin and I visited the Liberty family. Brother McLaughlin and I were a bit late getting back, so I thought Bishop would be a bit mad at us for being late. We got back to the apartment at 8:40 (we planned on 8:15) and they weren't there. We waited until 9:30 for them to get back. AND TERRY SET A DATE FOR HIS BAPTISM! He's going to be baptized on July 5th. He wanted to keep taking the classes for a while and then get baptized, but Bishop went in and told him that if he only questions and never does, he'll never get baptized. He has been taught by the missionaries for a while and finally all the work and prayer he's put into learning are coming to fruition.

So, you'll never guess what I found in our closet.


Elder Richins

"Quick" Pamphlets and Lots of Prayer

June 2 2014

This week was great! We taught so many people. There's a man we teach named Terry who came to church this week and a lady named Josephine who also came to church. She came in late and sat in the back and left after the sacrament meeting so we didn't even know she was there until the Sister Missionaries told us. And I passed the Sacrament, so I have no clue as to how I missed her. Terry said that he believes everything we have taught him (the missionaries have taught him a lot). He has prayed every day since we taught him how, which is sweet!

So, Damain. He is 10 years old, and he has some pretty bad ADHD. Our lessons can get pretty sidetracked. So, our Mission President recently had people from the Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City come out and teach all the missionary leaders (like Elder Sheriff) a new way to teach using the pamphlets. It is SO FAST. Teaching quickly helped on Friday. We taught Damain and his family (including his dad, Dennis) the message of the Restoration. Dennis is still working on quitting smoking, but has not had coffee since last week. Way awesome! He also said he wants to go to church every week, not just on Father's day (when Damain will sing with the Primary). We see his heart change a little more every week. He said the closing prayer again this week at his own decision. He says:

"Dear Heavenly Father...
Thank you for this day and for sending the Elders to talk with us...
Please give me patience with Damain 'cause I get mad really easily...
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

So easy a kid could (and should) do it. That seems like a small step, and it is, but prayer has such a huge impact. I don't know what I would do without prayer. I'm really happy to see Dennis start praying.

Can't wait to see what this week holds!


Elder Richins, King of Horses

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Elder Kingston and a Full Circle

The Lord decided to send me back to Georgetown, Mass! I pulled out my planners from the twelve weeks I was trained here. One awesome thing that happened this week is that we went back to visit Heather, who I met here over a year and a half ago, and this time she said we could come back and teach her and her son!
My new companion, Elder Kingston, is awesome. He's training me as a zone leader. He's also tall. He's also going home the same day as me and going to BYU in the Fall. Such an obedient and hardworking Elder.
I'm trying to figure out what the Lord wants me to learn and do this last 11 weeks on my mission. That's still a lot of time, so look forward to working hard and seeing great success here in Georgetown. God loves the people here. We'll see if we can't help them see that.
With Love, 

Elder Richins

A Pretty Sweet Week

May 26, 2014

On Monday we visited Maria and talked about the church tour and she still wanted to go, so we had a church tour right then. We called the Petit family and had them meet us at the church and Maria connected really well with them. The tour was really short, maybe 10 minutes, but you could tell she felt welcome at the chapel. She and her boyfriend, Ryan, planned on going to church this week, but she forgot that she worked this Sunday. She plans on leaving work early this week, at nine so she can be at church at ten. We've taught her maybe five times since the first time we talked with her. We've seen her change a lot in the last two weeks. She's happier, calmer, definitely more hopeful. You can see more light in her eyes. It's wonderful to see that change in her.

It's been a pretty sweet week.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jay and Too Many Cookies

May 19, 2014

We had an amazing lesson with a lady named Maria, who lives across the street from us. She questions how to find happiness with her family and hopes that heaven is better than this earth. I hope so too. She has a boyfriend and four kids. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation, which is God's plan for us to be happy, starting before we were born on this earth in the pre-mortal life and continuing through our life, death, and resurrection (where a body and a spirit are permanently brought together, so we won't die again), and a kingdom of glory, our inheritance from our Heavenly Father. We are SO excited to teach her again!

This weekend we had a church tour event, with a 10-minute tour and a 10-minute video. Not a lot of people came (though it was totally worth the few that did) and we now have TOO MANY COOKIES. We baked all of those.

So, we do this thing called "splits" where one missionary goes with a member of the Church and the other missionary goes with another member. So while Elder Sheriff went with Chris, I went with Brother Dick. Turns out, he and Jay (who we are teaching) come from the same hometown, and he ran with a really rough crowd there. Jay knew some of those guys, so he saw how much Brother Dick had changed. I guess it was a really big change because Jay was pretty impressed. Change. That's what it's all about. This week, I will change. Hope your week is as bright as mine!


Elder Richins

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Elder Richins in the Ditch

May 5, 2014

Dear World,

We are tearing this place up! Things are going so well. First of all, yesterday we visited Jay and Amy, his girlfriend, to talk about the Plan of Salvation. We brought Brother Jackson to teach with us, and I didn't know this, but Brother Jackson is so enthusiastic about teaching. He teaches so clearly. And Jay and Amy felt like this Church might be the place for them. (We agreed wholeheartedly). Amy opened up a lot, and they both listened intently. It was interesting to see them talk about it across the table, like they were making the decision right then and there if this is what they want. They are so open to hearing it, but seeing them apply it and want to change is even cooler than getting to just teach them. Jay said it's like missing a piece of a pie, except he said he's missing most of the pie. The gospel really is the whole pie. It's the only thing that can make us complete. I am so pumped to teach Jay and Amy and their kids (who should all be coming to church on Mother's Day [where I'll be speaking about my mother])!

We also visited Jessica and just had a real heart-to-heart talk about her relationship with God. She wants to come to church, but she feels like she's not welcomed by God. Like God might not love her because of the things she has done. There should be no room in a person for a thought like that. I have felt like that before, and I know that thought does not come from God. He wants each of us to know He loves us no matter what. I hope our testimonies took root in her heart. She needs to know it's not "one strike, you're out" or even "three strikes, you're out," but it's as many strikes as we need before we make a hit.

Earlier this week we got stuck in a ditch. All the snow has melted, making the grass RIDICULOUSLY green and softening every roadside. We had someone pull us out by the axle with their truck. After we tried pushing it. Those are my black shoes.

We found a foosball table for free. We had to take it apart to get it in the back of the Chevy Cruze. Picture to be sent at a later date.

Awesome week. Even better ahead.


Elder Richins

Friday, March 13, 2015

Serving Evelyn

Apr 28, 2014

This week we helped a lady named Evelyn with her yard. Her husband passed away in November and she is having a rough time with it. She is too old to care for her yard, and she has some fallen tree limbs and things to take care of. Her tool shed is rotting, so we could climb in the hole in the back (the door is locked) to get an ax and bow saw. I feel really good about serving her, because she really needs it.

Even though serving a mission is really stressful right now, I love it so much! Every night before planning for the next day we point out where we saw the Hand of the Lord that day. Some of the coolest things come together for good. I hope y'all are doing well; the Lord definitely has His hand in our lives.

With Love, 

Elder Jon Richins

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Burden Lifted and a Dog Bite

Apr. 21, 2014

Elder Sheriff got food poisoning and we spent two days inside. We were not able to meet with the Madisons.

In happier news, we picked up six new investigators! One big, happy family! The Berards have been taught by the missionaries in the past. Yesterday we called to ask if we could swing by to share a message and bring some Easter treats. He said "It's a bit late for a message because I have work in the morning, but you can bring the treats." When we stopped by, everyone was still up and he invited us in. Our conversation around the table progressed towards the message we planned on sharing anyways, so we shared the video. I was surprised by how present the Spirit was. One of the girls was almost crying and a few of the kids talked about what Jesus Christ means to them. I would like to say that Jesus Christ means so much to me. Very recently I carried a weight that I wanted to get rid of. I prayed to have it removed from me. And He lifted it. He is so willing to lift us, our burdens, anything else we need lifted; he'll do it. He's so strong, just lifting things all over the place!

We had a really good Easter. We had dinner at an unnamed family's house, where I got bit on my face by a German Shepherd. Hope your Easter was as fun as mine!

With Love, 

Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Elder Sheriff and the "Mormons" at Colby College

Apr. 14, 2014

Twenty-one. That is the number of selfies on my camera taken on the way to transfer meeting, where we picked up Elder Sheriff from Pleasant Grove, Utah. He has been out about 13 months and has served in Maine and New Hampshire. I am truly amazed at how well things have been going since Elder Sheriff came to Waterville. He just has such drive, and love for the gospel and the people here.

We visited the Madisons and helped Damian start his scripture study. He hasn't been reading from the Book of Mormon, but he has the Book of Mormon Stories picture book, of which he and his parents committed to read a chapter daily. Elder Sheriff had the awesome idea to have them read half in the morning and half at night and start each reading with a family prayer. Elder Sheriff has no shortage of boldness, and he showed it when he committed Dennis to read with his son as well as on his own. I believe that Dennis is an honest seeker of truth and when he reads the Book of Mormon he is going to find so much truth he's just going to explode. That's the best way I can describe it. He is going to have such strong faith and he's going to show it.

We went to a class on Mormons at Colby College (the class is called "Mormons") and answered questions about EVERYTHING. The students really wanted to know so much and it was an academic environment so they weren't afraid to ask the most excellent questions. I just love those students. They're just sweet!

I am so excited for this week; there is nothing we can't do!


Elder Richins

Monday, March 9, 2015

Workout Equipment and Farewell to Elder Thomas

Apr 7, 2014

On Monday we had an interesting experience with Brother Dicker, a member of the Bishopric. He wants us to come over to help his wife come back to church, and our offers to visit have so far not aligned with their schedule. We were in the area near his home (which we rarely are) and we decided to take him up on an 18-week-old offer to give us some workout equipment. I wasn't even here when he extended the offer, but we decided to trade him the six donut holes we had just received at a meal with another family, in exchange for the workout equipment previously mentioned. We saw him and his wife stare at us from the house as we pulled in the driveway, though it was very dark at this point. We quickly prayed before going in. When we knocked on the door, Brother Dicker allowed us in, mentioning that we "should have scheduled ahead." Oh, no. He later told us that he had just gotten his wife to agree to have us over for dinner one night, and when we showed up she grilled him, "You said they were going to call ahead!" When we got in, first of all, their grandkids love us. Then, we had the perfect number of donut holes for their family. Lastly, as we shared our favorite scriptures (at Brother Dicker's request) the Spirit touched each heart in the room. It was so quiet, and everyone smiled. We prayed with their family before going downstairs to pick out weights. As Brother Dicker walked us to our car at the end of our 20-minute visit, he shared that Sister Dicker enjoyed having us in her home again. He called us the next day to thank us again. I think that our visit was an answer to his prayers. I know Heavenly Father answers prayers. The influence of the Spirit is often so subtle that we don't see it working immediately. I am so thankful that we can be led by someone with so much love and compassion.

As for Elder Thomas, he is leaving tomorrow. I will receive a new companion and continue working here. I am so sad for him to leave. He taught me SO MUCH. At the same time, I can't wait to meet my new companion.

Where to from here?

"Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name!" (Called to Serve, Hymns 249)

With Love, 

Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Whoopie Pies and a Difficult Week

Mar 31, 2014

This week was so difficult. Things have just been adding up for a while. I cannot describe how inadequate I have felt, how tired I have been, how much I have needed to pray, how much aid I have received, how much love I have felt from the Lord. I now have a testimony that prayer works. God is so willing to hear and help us. Not just in emergencies or when we have nowhere else to go, although He certainly does hear us then, but in any case where we need more than we have, we can turn to Him. This week has humbled me. I feel ready for God to make of me whatever He wants.

Now I just hope we get to stay here in Waterville a little while longer. Now that the storm is over, I want to see some sun, ya know? Transfers are next week, and Elder Thomas plans on leaving.

Risk with Elder Roberts while on exchange. My first game. I sent my red guys to attack the neutral yellow guys in Iceland so I could take control of Europe. We have Risk in our attic, and I considered playing it five ways against myself over the course of a week, but then I decided I have better things to do.

The first day I didn't have to wear a coat.

We are in a contest with the Sister missionaries to see who can fatten the other up more. Not really, but we do try to pawn our too-many desserts off on each other. These whoopie pies were found on our porch last night.


Elder Richins

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Snow Tunnel and Sincere Prayer

Mar 24, 2014

I was wrong. It wasn't the sun. It was just the light at the end of the tunnel. A long, cold tunnel. It's supposed to snow again. But you know what? That's awesome! Because I still haven't made a snow tunnel yet.

This week Rachel and Damian came to church WITH Nick and Dillon, Rachel's nephews! It was so cool! And Nick wants to come to church again next week. Turns out he goes to the same high school as most of the teens at church, so he already has friends here.

This week has been so amazing. I really don't know how to explain it, but I feel like the Lord is teaching me and helping me to do better than I could on my own. I think a lot of that help is gained through prayer. I've been trying to be more sincere in my prayers so that I talk with Heavenly Father instead of with my pillow. Just trying has helped immensely. It's cool to me to see what the Lord can do with my efforts.

Well, love y'all!

Elder Richins

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Post In Which We Put Someone in the Trash

Mar 17, 2014

This week we went on exchange; Elder Plyler came to Waterville with me. I was very excited to teach Barbara, the daughter of Charles and Jeanette, who haven't been to church in a few years. She is twenty and recently had a baby boy. Jeanette is going to stop smoking in a little while (we're working on it), so we talked about how the Holy Spirit can strengthen us with assurances of peace. They unfortunately did not make it to church this week, though they intended to previously. We also taught Damian, Dennis, and Rachel. Rachel is the only member in her family and is returning to activity. Our lesson was a little bit crazy; we put Damian in a giant trash bag with his head sticking out to symbolize sinning (your parents have told you a million times not to do that). You can move around in the bag UNTIL we suck out all the air with a vacuum cleaner. Then you're stuck. Satan has you. But through the Atonement you can be freed if you repent! (the point of the lesson)! Unfortunately, they didn't come to church either! What's up with that?! Anyways, most of the exchange was spent baking cookies and shoveling snow. We met some very nice people while shoveling, and when we took cookies to the Bishop he invited us in for a lesson.

The last three days in a row I saw the sun. I don't even know what to think. Wait a sec, YES I DO! I FORGOT HOW BRIGHT IT COULD BE OUTSIDE! I LOVE IT!

Me in my work suit. Just kidding, we didn't have time to change and it was only for a little while.


Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Thursday, March 5, 2015

This Goal is Killing Me! This Goal is Sweet!

Mar 10, 2014

This week we taught Dennis and Damian, his 10-year-old son, the Plan of Salvation. Damian was able to put together a puzzle that we brought to quiz him. After that, the lesson went a bit downhill. He has severe ADHD, which obstructs most lessons in some degree. This time, the Plan of Salvation stuck to him. We will retest him to see how much he remembers, but I think he knows it pretty well. He's such a funny kid. He gets up every thirty seconds to run around or stand on his mom's rocking bench so he can jump onto the pull-up bar. But he is so smart and he's a good kid too.

This week I have paid Elder Thomas $2.95 total for not writing in my journal and not reading 10 pages a day in the scriptures. This goal is killing me. I have only completed both parts of the goal once. On the bright side, my reading has helped me so much. I'm learning a ton and lots of little pieces are sticking out to me. Now I can hardly wait to read! This goal is sweet!

Steak and Potatoes for breakfast


Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Donuts-on-Strings & A Delicious New Suit

Mar 3, 2014

This week we visited Jessica, the wife of a less-active member. She has found so much happiness in what we have taught her so far. We focus a lot on eternal families, which has softened her heart immensely. She has a solid doctrinal knowledge from lessons with previous missionaries, but it is even greater to see her smile as we teach her. This week we held FHE at their house. Most of the kids did not come and she had a headache, but after we played Donuts-on-Strings it was obvious that she enjoyed it! It makes me so happy to see her so happy!

We had dinner with a less-active member named Jonathan. His mother, Deb, has been trying to help him come back to church for a while. We showed them the Prodigal Son video from the Bible Videos series on Jonathan took the boldness well. He has a greater desire to come to church, and should be there next week (we works some Sundays). He has to stop smoking and drinking, but we gave him a blessing for that. He will make it. I have faith in him.

I set some steep goals for this week: I have to read ten pages of the scriptures per day or pay Elder Thomas a nickel per page I missed, and I have to write one full page in my journal every day or pay Elder Thomas a quarter. I love Elder Thomas so much. This companionship just makes me so happy!

See this? This is what happiness looks like.


Elder Jon Harrison Richins

A Heavenly Father who Loves Her

Feb 24, 2014

This week we finally got to teach Jay! You know that guy from four weeks ago whose door we knocked on and he just let us in? We have stopped by several times and we always catch him at a bad time; however, this week we set an appointment for the following day and we talked with him about the Plan of Salvation. He read the pamphlet! He took notes and asked questions during our discussion as we walked through the pamphlet with him. His wife, Amy, and their sons, Sean and Conner, did not sit in with us, but Jay hopes to get them involved soon. He sees it as his duty to bring spirituality into the house. I am amazed at how prepared he is to receive the gospel.

This week we also began teaching Jessica, who is the wife of a less-active member named Brad. His entire family has been taught before and they showed no interest for the longest time, until we gave a blessing to Jessica one Sunday afternoon. Right afterwards we offered to teach her again and she said yes. We have talked with her about her relationship with God; because she had a rough relationship with her father she finds it difficult to believe in a Heavenly Father who loves her. She has made great progress in our two meetings, and has already begun to pray more frequently. She rarely prayed for herself before. We showed her one of the Introduction to the Church videos on; this one was about the temples. She wants to go to the temple with Brad, though she hasn't said it. She committed to read The Family: A Proclamation to the World right after we left; she was so excited to read it.

This might seem insignificant, but this week when we got to see Dennis, the husband of one of the members, we brought up baptism and he said, "It might take a few years, but yeah, I'll be baptized." This is a huge step for him, to even talk about baptism.

So we work at a soup kitchen every Friday and guess what? We love it! Some kids from Colby College work there and they're way cool! We make sandwiches together and have fun the whole time.

This is how good my week was. Cinnamon-roll good.


Elder Jon Harrison Richins

Monday, March 2, 2015

Three Generations

This is real time everybody!

One couple, the Estys, we stopped by on Monday evening and obtained their solemn word that they would make an "Honest Abe Effort" to come to church this Sunday. And they did! They came, and coordinated with their daughter who we have also been teaching. She came and brought her granddaughter. We had three generations of members coming to church. I was very glad to see them together. It made me think of the success that I've seen here. It may seem small, but this family coming to church was a huge step for them. They are that much closer to being an eternal family.


Elder J.H. Richins

Halifax, History & Horses. Oh, and my first baptism too!!!

Feb 17, 2014

So, there's a lot of history in this part of the country, 'cause, ya know, everything's old. In a good way. Fort Halifax, the oldest blockhouse in the United States, is a two minute drive from our apartment.

And this is the actual fort. It's locked up so you can't go inside.

Working (playing with horses) at a horse farm (where we clean stalls).

Augusta, the capitol of Maine!

It's actually locked, but I GOT TO HOLD THE DOOR-HANDLE!

Now for some serious stuff.

This is Sherri. Sister Kotter and Sister Deters have been teaching her for a few months, and she decided that she wanted to be baptized on Valentine's Day. I was asked to baptize her. She is the first person I have ever baptized. I'm kind of still at a loss for words to describe how I felt. I got to help someone make a huge step in their eternal progression; the same quiet, loving spirit that our Father sends was very much present. Seeing Sherri share her testimony of the gospel right afterwards confirmed the feeling to me: I love serving the people here. This is where I need to be. This gospel is true, and the knowledge that blesses my life everyday can only come from God, who loves us and wants us each to have that joy.

With LOVE (happy Valentine's Day), 

Elder Jon Harrison Richins